Tag Archives: loss

Family

When I was young I lived close to my very large extended family. I was the first born grandchild for both sets of grandparents, and with 14 aunts and uncles (not including the spouses of those who were married at the time) I was well and truly loved. I have a cousin 2 months younger than me, and then every year or so another cousin or sibling appeared, in a slow trickle for the first few years. Our aunts and uncles were young, knew us and were part of our life. They attended birthday celebrations, Christmas gatherings, and family camping trips. My mother’s siblings were friends with my father’s siblings. Then more cousins came along, we moved overseas and on our visits home many of the aunts and uncles would comment that there were so many cousins that they lost track of them and who was who. Of course that wasn’t true, but we were certainly a large family.

I haven’t lived ‘at home’ in my country of birth, for 35 years. But family is family. Always there, a given. The names all run together so you always include the aunt and the uncle as if they are one entity. During the course of organising a trip home last year for a large family gathering a family Facebook group was set up. We started ‘following’ each other. We have had a small window into each other’s lives – that very superficial glimpse that social media brings, but more than we have had for years.

Last week we had word that one of my aunts, one half of one of those uncle and aunt entities, was very sick. We knew that she had been diagnosed with cancer weeks earlier and had updates passed by email to the ‘brothers and sisters’ who then passed the news on to us, the next generation. Over the course of a day or two it became clear that she was in fact very sick and within hours she was gone.

I have been reflecting on family ever since. I am so lucky that I have had this large blanket of family there in the background for all my life, that I have reconnected with so many through social media at least. And I am at a loss to imagine my uncle without his other half – the other piece of his puzzle, the other part of his name. Today would have been their 41st wedding anniversary. Tomorrow, in the church that they were married in, our family will gather to say goodbye and celebrate her life. She is part of my childhood memories – a teenager on the beach when I was a toddler (yes that is me on the beach and she is the gorgeous young woman in the background with her then boyfriend), the glamorous aunt who always worked in an office when so many of our aunts and mothers didn’t work at all, the one who always had time to listen at family gatherings, who always remembered and understood what we were doing with our careers. Maybe it is time to stop taking the background blanket of family for granted and understand their place in my life a bit more, appreciating how they have contributed to the person I am today while I can still discuss it with them now, and not wait until they are gone to scramble for those precious memories, and understand how they fit together.

However, for today, I will hold my little people close, love them fiercely and tell them stories about their great-aunt Dianne, and how she fits into the jigsaw that is their family.

Vale Dianne Rose van Gessel. You are loved and will be missed.

Getting my mojo back

This has been a week of personal growth and revelations. It coincided with having to miss a lot of my paid work to care for children. Could be something in that!  I should post a warning that this post contains very little about sewing (for once) and more of my self-revelation musings!!

Having time at home gave me time to clear my head a bit, to think about various aspects of my life that I tend to tuck away into the ‘when I have time’ basket, and to rediscover parts of myself. I have written before about how I have found the process of making things gives me a chance to de-stress, to focus and to work through issues in my mind. What I hadn’t really appreciated before this week is that once I start that process, I also gain in creativity.

What have I achieved this week? As I wrote earlier in the week I came up with a plan for managing my blogging more regularly. I also spent some time preparing some posts for weeks when I don’t have as much time. I looked at my Etsy shop and realised that I didn’t like the overall look and feel of it. So I did some reading on taking photos, played with my camera a bit, tried out an Etsy App for ‘fusing’ photos (and abandoned it) and then re-shot all the photos for my Etsy listings. Instead of the outdoors backgrounds I had been using,  I have gone with white. I have used the macro setting to get some close ups, and to gain different perspectives on my pieces. While I can still spot room for improvement, I am much happier with it now. (And am happy to get feedback if you have time to have a look!)

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Before and After

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Before and After

I was feeling a bit virtuous by this time, so decided to keep going. I joined some Etsy teams, and created a couple of treasuries (curated collections of other people’s listings – not my own), and enjoyed that so will try to keep it up. Then I made the decision that I am still a bit directionless with all of this, so registered to attend a Right Brain Business Plan workshop with Canberra Creatives.  The timing is perfect as it is on while the chicks are visiting their grandparents during our July school holidays.  I am hoping to create a plan and focus my energy in one direction instead of stopping to look at every bright and shiny thing that comes along!

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Hey look – better light today!

All of this made me feel a lot more connected with the business side of my creating.  Which lead to my creation of the new bag design yesterday (in my last post) and a feeling that I had ‘got my mojo back’.  Which was interesting as I wasn’t aware that I had lost it!  This is a recurring theme in my life.  I think I am happily pottering along, then something happens and I find myself being truly happy again and realise that until that point I have been slowly sinking into survival mode for a while, without realising it.  A year after my husband left me some dear friends gave me a gift with a card that read “Celebrating the becoming of Theresa”.  It was a sharp reminder that by the time my marriage ended I had lost so much of myself, and hadn’t realised it.  Although the pain and grief that came with the end of my marriage was so strong, and still lingers these years later, the rediscovery of myself and the things that make me feel happy and alive was a gift that kept me going.

A few years later, after being a full-time single parent for a couple of years, I am conscious that I have lost a bit of myself again.  Creating things, and having another focus in life seems to be a good way of keeping those bits of me sustained when everything else is getting a bit much!  So the realisation that I had lost a bit of my creative mojo, when it returned this week, was a good reminder that I need to nurture that side of my life too.  I am not quite sure how to do this yet, but am mulling over a few ideas as I sit and sew bags and match fabrics and colours, so I will see what pops out at the end!

These are the fabrics I am playing with for my next set of bags!

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I hope that your week is full of love and support – and that you are able to nurture your mojo too!