Daily Archives: November 17, 2014

Lesson Learned Over Microwaved Ziti


 
 
The other night, the kids and I were finishing up dinner—leftover baked ziti.  An uninspired but efficient meal.  I find the daily meal more like the daily grind.  C. was the one who cooked, who took pleasure in the preparation of not one! (for the kids) but two! (for the two of us) evening meals.  I need a recipe hours beforehand, and the ingredients precisely lined up, and a carefully plotted timeline, which is to say, I’m exhausted by the initial pan of baked ziti before I even begin. 
The kids thoughtfully chewed the microwaved ziti and steered the conversation to some voice-changing App Sophia had on her phone which they found hilarious.  Then Alexander sighed, stood up, and walked into the kitchen with his almost-emptied bowl.  He clattered around in the kitchen, the sink turning on and off, then came back to the table and sat down.

“Hey!” I said.  “What did you do with your bowl?”
Alexander turned serious.  “Well, I was thinking about the divorce, and how you no longer have Dad around which means you don’t have a lot of help.  So I decided I needed to take on more responsibility and help out around the house.  So I scraped the rest of my food in the garbage and rinsed out my bowl.”

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to throw myself at him, scoop him up, tell him he didn’t have to worry about being responsible for anything and that this was all on his Dad and me.  I wanted to tell him he was the sweetest boy in the world.  So I did.
“Alexander, I could eat you all up you’re so sweet.  That’s about the nicest thing anyone has said to me in ages.”

He just nodded matter-of-factly and asked to be excused from the table so he could go play his Nintendo DS.
Responsibility.  Divorce thrusts it upon you whether you like it or not.  Sometimes I find myself caught up in panic and fear, I’ll be stopped at a red light or standing in the shower or waiting to pick my kids up at school, any of those small, empty moments can fill with panic and fear that I will be overwhelmed by the single task of this now single’s task that is mine—budgeting money, paying bills, making dinners, planning for a future.  Learning to be responsible—to clear away my own plate which will make an easier life for myself and kids—that is the task at hand.  Just today, I dropped my car off to get snow tires.  This was not an easy decision as snow tires run about $600, money which would be useful in other places during these lean times.  However, since I have to drive back and forth to Erie several times a week now for classes, which means through the horrendous strip of the snowbelt which makes for precarious winter driving, I decided that it was important that I stay alive and on the road so I could make it home and reheat more ziti for my kids.

For twenty years I had a companion beside me off of which to bounce ideas, to offer half of a “yes” or “no,” to build the fence around a life that was ours and then to mend the fence when it was torn.  Now?  I am standing on a wide open plain, and my future feels uncontained and unbridled.  For some reason, however, the opening scene of The Sound of Music keeps flashing in my mind: Julie Andrews (Maria) standing on the top of a green hill, her arms open wide, body turning, taking in the world.  I might be scared, but I’m filled with anticipation at what lies beyond the fenceline.   

  

 

Good News About Bipolar Disorder

Do you have friends or family members who don’t believe bipolar disorder is real? Are there people in your life who still believe you need to just pull yourself up by your bootstraps? Are you skeptical that there will ever be more effective treatments for bipolar? According to a special issue of Harvard Review of […]

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Humdrumming Along!

The past week has been so mundane that I was tempted to skip today’s post as I didn’t want to put you to sleep.  But as a fervent blog reader, I appreciate other bloggers’ “blah” posts sometimes even more than the impressive, … Continue reading

Let It Go: A Lesson In Hoarding

One of the important lessons I have learned this year is to LET IT GO. (Unless it’s a fart and you’re in an exam. Then please. Restrain.)

In all seriousness, the greatest lesson I have learned this year is the power of letting things go. And I’m not just talking about the physical stuff.  I’m talking about the mental and emotional energy you put into holding on to negative thoughts and feelings. All that self criticism, that guilt you feel over something you did seven years ago. Obsessing and worrying over what other people think. Negativity and resentment towards people who have wronged you.

The only thing this kind of crap does is punish ourselves. At the risk of sounding all new agey; negativity breeds negativity. Breathe. Write. Talk. Scream. But let it out, in whatever way you can.

If your mental and emotional being is clogged up with negativity, how can we possibly find room for the positive stuff?

I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent (you have been warned). I’m well aware that I am a hoarder of negative emotions, but I never knew I was a physical hoarder, until recently when Hubster and I had to massively downsize. We got rid of about half of our furniture and other worldly goods. Probably more.  Now I thought I was pretty good at chucking stuff out. We moved a lot when I was a kid and I never really had the chance to collect. But when we got down to it I couldn’t believe the amount of CRAP we had accumulated. To give you an idea of the craptastic calibre of crappery, here are a few items we found (and discarded):

- a nappy bag fully loaded with tiny nappies, dummies, rusks, pre measured formula, and a child nurse appointment card for 2011.

- about fifteen odd shoes and a destroyed pair of high heels that Monsiour Bark-a-lot had chewed as a puppy but I just couldn’t bear to throw out because, dude, I bought these shoes in HAWAII. Do not mess with my HAWAIIAN heels!

- three fondue sets. Hello! The 70′s called!

-twenty or so miniature metal pencil sharpeners in the shape of canons and such on Hubsters desk. Why. WHY?!

- a ridiculous, possibly uncountable number of broken coat hangers. Not even the useful metal ones that you can bend and stretch and use to break into cars (When I say “break into cars”, what I actually mean is “break into MY car when I have locked my keys in”, or perhaps how about we just stick with the old “use as a back scratcher”). No these were the trusty cheap plastic versions. Useless.

- and the creme de la creme…a Mitsubishi Magna which hadn’t started for the last three years, had spent it’s time taking up the entire garage, collecting dust, while simultaneously being fully licensed and insured. When the piece of junk broke (in the rain. With a baby in the back. Of course) we bought a new car and kept the Magna  just incase it could be fixed, and then sold, and then we could make a shit load of money. Spoiler alert: it couldn’t be fixed. In fact, it took three people to push it down the drive so scrap metal could pick it up.

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At first we were agonising over each item…”do we need it? Should we keep it?”….by the end we were all “GET THIS STUFF THE HELL OUT OF HERE!” We got more and more ruthless. We chucked, and sold, and gave away, and took to charity. In the end I left an entire outdoor setting on our front verge with a “Free!” sign taped to it, because it wouldn’t fit in the car to take to charity, and I could not be phaffed with listing it to sell. (You get some odd people on GumTree. When I tried to sell my first car we had a guy who wanted to pay us in yellow sapphires. Totes legit.)

The amazing thing was that as soon as we got rid of the crap I started to receive cheques in the mail. I’m not even kidding. I think I’ve cashed a cheque, like, maybe five times in my life. And that was probably birthday money in circa 1995. But they kept coming in, all this really random stuff.  It was like now we had gotten rid of the crap we had room to receive.

I truly believe that this same principle applies to an emotional level. I’m a terrible emotional hoarder. I analyse my (and everyone else’s) behaviour to a ridiculous degree.  I beat myself up. I get inwardly panicky about conversations I had months, if not YEARS, ago. I worry and worry and worry and worry about what people think of me, what will happen in the future, whether I acted in the correct manner. Is such and such angry at me. Am I a good parent. Did I leave the cooker on. You get the picture.

All this hoarding does is take away my time, energy and sleep. It doesn’t improve the situation. It doesn’t help relationships. It really doesn’t do anything except make me feel like some kind of hyper anxious meercat. My physical health is affected too, because of course many physical disorders have links to anxiety, depression and general poor mental health.

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( A recent photo of me. I know. Bit heavy on the eye makeup)

Now I’ve lost a lot of time this year that I will never be able to get back again. I spent five months in hospital, and close to a year, now, being physically and mentally unwell. I’ve missed big opportunities, career wise and family wise. I spent too much time away from family and friends. Quite frankly, I don’t want to waste any more of my precious time on negativity.

So I’ve started to Let It Go. My favourite method at the moment is to allow myself a minute or two to indulge my obsessive nature and worry about whatever it is that I’m worrying about at Hyper Meercat Level. Then I take a deep breath and let it go. What I have noticed is my mind is more free. I don’t have that tight anxious feeling in my chest. By getting rid of the emotional junk I hoard, I am allowing room for more positive things to enter mind, and my life in general.

It’s important to remember that worry, by its very nature, is always stuck in the past or projecting into the future. But life is going by, every single second, and you will never get Now again. This is it. Life is Now.

So like the annual spring clean we conduct in our houses, why not try a spring clean of the mind? Forgive yourself for the times you hurt others. Forgive those who have hurt you. Allow yourself to get angry or upset or WHATEVER, but at the end of it let go of the crap you our holding on to. Open yourself up to new possibilities and positivity. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m some kind of life expert (heh. someone who was practically in a straight jacket only five months ago giving life advice. That’s amusing). I’m not saying open your mind and VOILA you’re cured!

What I am saying is experiment, try to let things go at even the tiniest level. Try to chuck out even the smallest piece of the emotional baggage you hold. See if it helps. And if you are anything like me, similar to the cheques I received in the mail, I promise you will receive in the most unexpected of ways.

P.s. Did you notice that I wrote this entire post without a single reference to Frozen. What self restraint. ;)


What learning to mosaic taught me about mental illness

Mosaic picture of a hummingbird

There’s nothing like smashing a bunch of tiles to get stress out.  Which is why one of the things I’m most looking forward to on our annual Summer holiday is creating another mosaic picture.

We love to take advantage of Australia’s warm Summer weather by taking the kids camping along the beautiful coastline of New South Wales. One of our favourite spots is a caravan park nestled between a stunning beach and a National Park.

It is the perfect spot for us and the kids to relax after a busy year – with lots of outdoor activities and a Kid’s Club every morning.

Last year, while watching our three kids participating in the Kids Club, the teacher asked me if I wanted to join some other parents for a mosaic class that afternoon.   I quite like craft, so signed up on the spot – not really knowing what mosaic was or what it involved.

Four hours later, I was in my element – smashing tiles with a hammer, smearing glue over them and painstakingly selecting different shards of tile to create a picture.

It was slow-going and required concentration… forcing me to ignore the thoughts that had been whirring through my mind, and the stress of the past six months.

Ten days later, all those shards of smashed up tile had been transformed into a picture of a beautiful hummingbird, which I proudly took home to give to my mum as a gift.

Visiting her this past weekend, I noticed it hanging in her kitchen – and it made me think.

Last year, in the months before our holiday, I had been in the throes of a severe depressive episode.  It felt like someone had taken my life and smashed it – breaking me into unrecognisable pieces.

Yet, now as I look at that mosaic, I realise that (very slowly) the broken shards of my life have been taken and molded to form a different me.  One that is not quite the same, but equally as special.

Looking around me at my friends and family, I realise that most of us have been through something that has shattered us.  Left us feeling broken and worthless… like a pile of smashed up tiles.

Yet, there is a plan in store for us – a plan to use our pain and our hardship to show others that out of brokenness can come something beautiful.

Do you enjoy doing crafts?  Do they provide you with an outlet to help manage your condition?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!


A Good Anniversary

While most people would go out to dinner or dancing and do something fancy, hubby and I decided that our time would be best spent curled up snuggled in bed.

We’ve played on our ipads, watched frivilous tv shows and talked about almost nothing. It’s been a nice break.

We had room service and walked around in our jammies all day. It was incredibly relaxing.

Would I have liked something more to happen? Well maybe. I dont feel good though and am so grateful that this is exactly what he wanted to do, what I wanted to happen doesn’t matter.

One anniversary we will have romance and presents and dancing and love making. Not this one though, we will have relaxing and sleeping and watching of the tv’s and snuggles and pure love.

I always take what I can get and I don’t mind giving it back. :D