It is only fitting that the last day of the year is the time when I finally sit down to reflect on the year that was. I decided a few years ago to stop saying that the old year was horrible and the New Year would be awesome because there is no magic in turning the page of the calendar. Life is what it is, and if I am always looking forward to the day when it gets better, I will miss the good that is happening right now. With that being said, there is no harm is looking back, reflecting, and planning for different outcomes in the future, so it is with that spirit that I am writing this post.
On the family front 2017 can be summarised as the year of school changes! My middle chick started high school, but after struggling with anxiety issues that interfered with her attendance, changed schools in the second half of the year. Her attendance didn’t improve but her anxiety has, so there are plans in place to support her attendance this year. My boy started the year at one primary school, then shifted to another, across the border, where he was placed in a support class which was much more successful than mainstream classes without the right supports. His attendance was still limited to two hours a day, and then reduced to one hour a day, so in the last few weeks of the school year we transitioned to a combination of school attendance and Distance Education. This is the plan for 2018, so I will be his teacher at home to cover the time when he is not at school. And finally my eldest chick stayed at the same school all year, and made some great progress in her participation in class, and tried out new subjects like Engineering with much joy. At the end of the year, following some health issues, I decided she should go and live with her father for a while so she bid farewell to her school and friends, only for the decision to be reversed after some professional advice about the wisdom of her move. At the moment she is in limbo about which school she will attend in 2018, with several options open to her, including a return to her previous school.
We had our final family stay in hospital in Sydney as part of the ongoing support for managing my boy’s behaviour, and I am proud to say that the staff there couldn’t stop praising us for the major changes that we have made and how well we are doing as a family. The skills that I learned there will stay with me for life and I often find myself thinking ‘What would Tamar (the senior psychologist on our team) say” when faced with a new behavioural challenge. How blessed we are that this service is provided under our Public Health system and didn’t cost me a cent but made such a change to our life.
Supporting three kids with mental health issues, one of whom also has disabilities, is tough work. There are times when, as another one falls apart just when I think everything is going well, I wonder where I went wrong. Luckily there are lots of great people around me who are good at calmly pointing out that I am not the cause of the various issues, and that sometimes life just sucks. I have had some moments of falling apart during the year under the weight of trying to keep everyone’s heads above water, but am happy to be ending the year in a good frame of mind, with solid plans for supporting each child, and continuing the endless search for time for myself!
On the farm front we grew our flock by adding a new ram, Gordon Ram-say, who ensured his future with the production of 11 lambs in October, from 7 ewes. Four of our previous lambs went to the butcher at around the same time, and we have since sold two ewes with lambs to our neighbours, so we are currently sitting at 16 head. We renewed our chicken flock and currently have a standing delivery of 4 dozen eggs a week to friends in town, plus plenty for our own consumption, so it is going well – bar the current mite infestation that has me cleaning and spraying the coops every few days, and constantly feeling that I have tiny bugs crawling on me! The realities of farm life!
We acquired a new dog, with Shadow the Belgian Shepherd joining us in August, and then sadly lost our beloved Dottie in the week before Christmas. Our house is a lot quieter without her and we miss her daily.
The biggest change for me was the return to designing and making. After a long period of stagnating, and being uninspired, the return to making started with a desire for a tea cosy for my glass teapot. Then it grew! Between researching and designing reusable teabags, collecting and re-purposing teacups by making candles, and planters, and then making tea themed jewellery, a whole new business has grown up under my existing brand. With that growth I have found a new burst of energy, inspiration and joy. I have attended three markets, and have plans for more in 2018.
I also have plans for products that are repeatable (instead of requiring a new design for each product as I have so often in the past) with ideas about selling some through shops as well as online. Whether this all comes to pass or not my brain is happy to be back in use!
Heading into 2018 seems a little more full of portent that other years because 2018 is the year I turn 50. I don’t think that there is a lot of magic in turning 50, or that life will suddenly change, but I have decided that there are various things that I can let go of now that I can no longer deny that I am a grown up. Many of my habits have changed over the last few years anyway, so I no longer go shopping for new clothes, no longer worry about what is the latest trend/restaurant/bar/cocktail/book, and no longer worry that I am not worried! Over the last decade I have been practising saying ‘No’, and I plan to continue this for as long as I am around. I am working on identifying when the issue is mine, and when it truly belongs to someone else and therefore shouldn’t worry me. And I am not investing time in people who don’t deserve the small amounts of free time that I have. While my 20’s were about having adventures and learning to fit into my own skin, my 30’s were about building a family and my 40’s were about raising my children as a single parent and restructuring my life to achieve this, my aim for my 50’s is about being kind to myself, my kids and our planet. Anything extra is a bonus!
Wishing you all a kind and peaceful New Year.