Saturday, May 23, 2015

The first to help you up are the ones who know how it feels to fall down.

Bit by bit I've been giving away the 16 quilts that I made 
when I made all the quilts in John's book, 
while I was distracting myself from how downright shit my life was right then.

I love giving things away, 
I love that I can show someone that I care by giving them something I made.
I'm not so great at the talking thing,
but I'm perfectly fine at the making you a quilty hug thing.

I love this quilt. I love the colours, I love the quirky fabrics.
I love the pattern. It's a great quilt where everything came together 
just the way I like it. I thought I would keep it forever
 but actually I've decided someone else needs it more!

The thing about social media is that you get glimpses into someone else's life.
You don't always get the whole picture,
but you feel like you get to know the type of person
whose little Instagram pictures you like
or tweets you read.

Sometimes you can tell when things aren't going so well.
You can tell when someone is sad,
or sick or anxious.

Lots of times you can't do anything about it,
after all the world is a big place and you can't solve everyone's problems.

But occasionally you can.
And so this week I'm posting this quilt to a random stranger
who is struggling with anxiety.

I'm going to post this quilt to New York 
to someone who doesn't know me
but who needs a quilty hug.

Because actually a hug is the best thing I've discovered
for when life is tinged with blue.
And a random act of kindness won't change the world
but I know it won't be wasted.

I'm hoping that as they wrap their self in it,
that they realise that they can do hard things
and life won't seem so blue after all.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nothing is permanent in this world, even our troubles (Charlie Chaplin)

In Christchurch we have experienced major dislocation
from what was and are living in a type of no mans land
before we get to what will be.

In a way we are living in a very physical manner,
what all of us go through in our personal lives at some stage.

The change from one thing to another,
the transition between the stages of life.

Here is Christchurch it feels like we have always lived in a building site,
we have forgotten what it was like to just drive somewhere
without encountering a detour.

We have forgotten what it was like to have buildings in the centre of our town.
We haven't got to where we are going yet,
we are still in limbo land, neither one thing or another.

I read an interesting article by Volume the other day.
Here's some fun facts for you....
"Four years on: over 70 percent of the central business district has been demolished; 10,000 houses in the surrounding suburbs have been razed, while almost another 15,000 stand empty; and the long task of repairing the extensive damage to water, sewerage, and transport infrastructure continues."

It feels like every second person in Christchurch wears fluro,
but it might be more than that. It's everywhere,
the signs, the road cones, the clothing of the workers.

At some point in the future we might look back on fluro yellow and orange with nostalgia.
But we haven't got there yet. 

There are still buildings being supported by shipping containers,
there are still a lot of those damn fences.

These ugly things are protecting us from danger.

There's still a lot of empty spaces,
and a lot of unmade decisions.
There's frustration and anger.
There's helplessness and exhaustion.

All of these things are not exclusive to Christchurch.
Where ever you encounter change,
there will be those feelings.

Its ok to feel them.

It's ok to be frustrated but not to let it break you.
Sometimes you just gotta distract yourself,
to give yourself a pep talk about how its not the end of the world.

You have to learn to look after yourself,
to eat properly and to get some extra sleep.

You have to be kind to yourself,
and by extension to those around you who are struggling the same.

One of the most important lessons I've learned
is that every single person has a breaking point 
no matter how strong them seem on the outside.

We must not judge each other,
but support one another because the breaking point
is catastrophic and once it is reached it is hard to get past it.

It seems to me that once we have been broken like that,
that fracture becomes part of who we are,
we might always need a bit of scaffolding there
to support us and to help us carry on.

It's not all bad. Today when I was taking these pictures
I looked down at my feet and there in the broken ground
someone has planted succulents.

I can see in my own life the things I have gained
from living through the Christchurch earthquakes.

I have learned that being broken doesn't mean the end of everything,
I have learned that change does not mean you cannot make choices
and that transition is a whole life stage of its own that cannot be rushed.

So even though, like Charlie Chaplin said, nothing is permanent in this world,
the process is actually as important as the destination.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Living life bravely....

It's two years today since the news broke that Kathleen died.
Kathleen was an inspirational blogger and crafter
and she left behind a legacy of living life to the fullest.

I have her book, Brave New Quilts and I made this quilt
while I was studying death and dying last year
because I wanted to think about what it means to leave a legacy.

This quilt now hangs in the darkest part of my house
just outside my bedroom door, a daily reminder to me to live life bravely.

Living life bravely is not a glamorous. 
Living life bravely is about getting up every single day
and living life to the best of your ability.

I really really hope that the legacy I leave for my children,
is one that inspires them to live life bravely too.

As I make decisions about my life and carry them out,
I hope they see that a little self respect goes a long long way.

I hope that they realise how important it is to be the absolute best
version of yourself that you can be
and to never accept anything less of yourself.

I want all of my kids to value hard work,
education and creativity.

I want them to find something bigger than themselves to believe in.
I want them to be kind to those that are hurting
but to be able to set personal boundaries to keep themselves safe.

As a parent I really want to inspire my kids by the way I live my life,

I'm living my life bravely
and I want them to do that too.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Learning to ask for help...

Sometimes we have to do things over and over again
before we learn the lesson that the universe is teaching us.
Call me a slow learner if you like,
but this is definitely my experience.

Currently I'm learning that as much as I want to do ALL THE THINGS,
sometimes I have to leave some till tomorrow,
or even sometimes, I have to ASK FOR HELP.

Last year when I was struggling I read a blog post by my friend Mike.
He wrote a post called "how to survive a life attack"
which is filled with helpful information.
The bit that resonates the most with me is where Mike talked
about asking someone taller for help.

I find this ridiculously difficult to do.
Mostly because first you have to tell someone
that things are not going so well.

This is the hardest thing in the world for me to do,
to actually say, I need you to help me because I can't do this.

Right now it's nearly time for dinner
and the house is a mess.
The kids are running feral somewhere and I'm so tired there are tears behind my eyeballs.
I've make a powerpoint for an assignment today,
taken the kids to help with the river clean up.
I've worked on all the projects I need to for my day job.

Maybe, just maybe I'll go and round up all those kids
and give them some jobs and together we can finish this day.

Asking someone taller is not necessarily about height,
it's not actually just about getting the job done.

Asking someone taller for help is about acknowledging to someone else
that you need help and it is about asking them to come along side you
and the two of you can work together to get through stuff.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Learning to like me....

One of the things I'm finding the hardest about being by myself,
is that I have to be my very own cheerleader.

I can't rely on anyone else to tell me that I'm doing a good job,
that things are going to be ok.

It's hard sometimes. Some days are hard hard hard,
parenting isn't for sissies.
Study is hard. Starting your own business is hard.
So many hard hard things.

It's hard to balance all the needs in our house
so that everybody goes to bed fed and happy at the end of the day.

You just have to tell yourself that it's ok if the bed didn't get made
or the dishes done, or that load of laundry festered in the basket 
so that the kitten decided to use it as a toilet.

Sometimes I can't think of one thing I like about myself
and I feel unloveable and broken.

But then I remind myself of all the things I am doing
and I know that it will be ok in the end.

I guess I am learning to tell myself....
I'm brave.
I'm kind.
I'm smart.
I'm somebody worth loving.
I am enough.

I'm learning to like myself. Hardest Lesson Ever.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On being good enough...

Last weekend I took Annie and Reuben to the Geraldine Farmyard Holiday Park
for a couple of nights. Going away is such a drama isn't it,
you have to make sure there is no washing festering in the machine,
the pets are all catered for and that the rubbish bins are empty.

You also have to make sure you bring everything you need,
especially if you are going to a camping ground.
You need food, clothes, bedding, cups, plates, cutlery etc.
You need books and crafts and drawing stuff.
You need all the phone chargers, sigh.

I've taken the children away by myself before of course,
over the years we've done all sorts of things while David was
busy working and supporting us.

But somehow it seems different to do it completely by yourself,
to go away and be with the children
and not have any back up at all,
no one to ring at the end of the day and tell them how things are going.

Also because for the last few years I've been hobbling about on crutches,
I had stopped seeing myself as someone who can do fun stuff with the kids;
having been letting that role fall heavily on David's shoulders.

I feel like my mother skills in this department are pretty rusty,
but these two kids are super easy to please
and are so glad I can walk about and do things with them
(it feels like forever since I could join in activities)
that they don't seem to notice I'm not so great at this.

Most of the time, the children just want you to watch them,
while they do stuff. It's not rocket science really.

Turns out I can lead a donkey, light a fire and cook marshmallows,
feed and organise kids and encourage them to entertain each other
with relative ease. I might not be able to lead a climb up the nearest mountain
or drive my car through a river, but we had lots of fun and laughs together
and that is what counts really.

We forgot quite a lot of important items, but we didn't care;
we ate really average food but we didn't care about that either.
We were together, the weather was kind and we enjoyed the change of scenery.

It felt good and I felt like I could do this,
I can back myself. 
Our life is not over, the kids and I can continue to have fun together.

For now, that definitely constitutes success.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

On being spread thin....

Life is busy isn't it,
parenting, studying, working;
sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming.

The other day after hours of work and driving back and forth across town,
I came home all talked out,
and with a wee bit of time before dinner
I pulled out a bunch of scraps and partially started blocks
and spent some time with them.

The thing about being spread thin is that you have to be careful not to break,
not to get so worn out and over things
that the littlest happening will set off a reaction.

For me the process of sewing these random bits together
was soothing and restorative somehow
and even though the result is a bit ugly,
it's cheerful and once I've quilted it, 
will be perfectly fine to snuggle under in the dark!!!

If only all my problems could be solved so easily!