I was listening to the iconic John Lennon song ‘Happy Xmas – War is Over’ while celebrating Christmas Eve with my chicks and my parents here in our rural nest, and realised that, in answer to the question ‘And what have you done?’ I have a long list on some topics and a very short and bare one on others. Maintaining this blog would fall on the latter list and yet I am still loathe to let it go. (In fact I just paid all the invoices to renew my web-hosting for another year just this evening!)
So what have I done? This year has been a year of consolidation with life in the country. Our little flock of 5 sheep grew to 17, and we have enjoyed some lovely lamb meals as a result. Our flock of chickens shrank from 14 to 6 and our egg production increased as a result! Go figure! We started the year with two dogs and ended with two dogs, but sadly not the same two. Dottie the crazy terrier has survived to deafen us with her barks but after a couple of unusual and serious illnesses we lost Milo the Labrador in November. In December we welcomed Buddy the kelpie and he is settling in well, but has not replaced Milo in my boy’s affections.
On a business level the year started well with me doing lots of sewing for the Shop Handmade, and lots of consulting for a new business venture. By the end of the year the sewing was non-existent and I had to pull back from all the consulting as I was facing burn out again and didn’t want to head back down that path. I live in hope that I will return to consulting and sewing in 2017, but we will see.
The family front is where the hardest work has been focused. My boy has continued to struggle with mainstream schooling, and with his frustrations turning into aggression and violence. As we end the year I still don’t have answers on the school question but am comfortable that, after 4 separate hospital admissions I am on top of managing his behaviour, and that he is on the right combination of medications. He is 10 now (I know – where did that baby boy go?) and is incredibly articulate, intelligent and compassionate, but also demanding and exhausting. My girls have also had a rough year with the constant stress of living with this stress taking it’s toll on them. I have found an excellent team of professionals to help support them and am sure we will get through this but the combination of all their needs saw me stepping away from the small amount of work I was doing and trying to be as present as possible for all three of them. My artist-in-residence finished primary school with her art chosen for the cover of the yearbook, and my eldest chick has found her groove and her tribe at school and brought home some great feedback on her school report.
2016 has been tough. In our home and in many other homes across the world. I don’t think that there is any particular magic in a new year changing social attitudes, or the way an autistic child’s brain works, but I am hopeful that the 6 week school holiday break will give us all a chance to recharge, refocus and rebuild some of our battered resilience. In the meantime I have gone back to the basics. I have been sewing for the love of creating, not for work. There are handmade pyjamas appearing under several family Christmas trees this year, there is a queen sized patchwork quilt that is almost, but not quite, finished for my eldest chick to receive in the morning under the tree, and there is hand embroidery on another gift after my discovery of the joys of sashiko (Japanese embroidery) earlier in the year. My plan is to work on small personal projects for a while, then to get back to designing and making on a business level when I am ready.
I hope that your Christmas and New Year is spent with people you love, who cherish you for who you are, and that you have a chance to recharge and rebuild before the next year sweeps us away into everyday life again. From my nest to yours, Merry Christmas. xx