Tag Archives: anxiety

Being human for real

I have a  busy brain.  I am not quite sure why it is so busy at the moment, but it is.  It is busy enough to keep me awake a lot during the night, to have me wanting to write as soon as I wake up so that I can capture all the thoughts I have had during the night, and to have me hopping from one thought to another, one task to another, and forgetting some of the important thoughts and tasks that need to happen.

Used with permission from www.cartoonaday.com

Used with permission from www.cartoonaday.com

Those thoughts that were so well formed, and desperate to be shared in the waking hours have evaporated – a bit like the fog that my part of town was shrouded in yesterday – there thick and damp one minute and gone without trace the next.  One of the remnants lingering is about community and social media.

Tonight is the kick off of my human experience.  (It cracks me up every time I say or write this!)  The 101 local humans are gathering to meet, hear about the planned experiences, and put voices, faces and bodies to the disembodied social media chats that have been occurring.  Except of course that, because this is real life, there won’t be 101 humans because real humans have commitments more important than gathering – family, work, life.  I am guessing that there will be about 90 odd (pun intended) humans at the gathering tonight.  The chat on Facebook this week has been revealing.  101 have been chosen.  About 95 are pretty comfortable that they are not as cool as the other 100, have been chosen in error, and are worried about meeting people out from behind their computer, think that the other 100 are the glitterati from about town, and have no idea what to wear to meet other humans.  (Of course I fall into the 95 – you know me!)

And therein lies the beauty of this experience.  We are exactly what is required.  Humans.  We are humans who live in a great city and enjoy different aspects of it.  Some are great photographers (not me), some are really good at tweeting (also not me), some can have a snappy conversation on facebook that has everyone at ease and feeling included (sometimes me) and others like to write, and share in prose rather than 140 character messages. (Yep – that is me).  We haven’t been chosen for our looks, our body shape, our ability to confidently sit and chat at the best cocktail bars in the world with celebrities, or for our ability to dress well for every occasion.  We have been chosen for our ability to share.  To wonder, whether through pictures, words, limited characters, or more, at the places we go and the experiences we have.  The very fact that so many have been willing to admit that they are nervous, anxious, unsure what to wear, and very uncool is a sign of how good we are at sharing openly and honestly.  These are human traits to be celebrated!

This then lurches rather than segues into societies use of social media.  As some of you would know, I think about this quite often – is it good, is it bad, and how does it improve/affect/damage our lives?  Through the wonders of Freecycle I had a great conversation yesterday with a fellow freecycler.  As such conversations tend to do we covered all manner of topics, during which he confessed that he had recently committed ‘Facebook suicide’ complete with a farewell note, and had enjoyed the results.  Friends were picking up the phone, he wasn’t looking for hollow affirmation from the number of likes he was receiving, and he felt liberated.  This of course had me analysing, reflecting, and wondering about my own use of social media – again!  (Small wonder my brain is busy!)

I know that I do not have a lot of contact with my friends who don’t use Facebook.  I don’t pick up the phone, I don’t write long emails of news, and I don’t send birthday cards anymore.  I know that I am missing out on their lives and they are missing out on mine.  I know that this is sad on one level.  But I also know that they, who aren’t using Facebook, instagram, twitter, etc, are also not reaching out to me, sending long emails, or writing birthday cards.  It is not due to Facebook that we are not connecting – it is due to our lives.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t care, that we don’t hold them in our hearts.  It means that life is busy, complex, crazy, fun and happening right now, where we are.  It doesn’t always have room for more.  It certainly doesn’t (in my case) have room for me to stay in touch with every person I have had a connection with.  And that is okay.  That is why when we do see someone that we have lost touch with there is joy, and wonder and sharing, and laughter and tears.

When I see someone I haven’t seen for ages, but am friends with on Facebook, many stories gets interrupted by one of us saying – oh yes, I saw it on Facebook.  But not every story.  Not all of the parts of our lives are lived out on social media.  Often the painful bits are tucked away to only be shared with the people we see face to face, or speak to on the phone.  Some are held close and safe and not put out in the public arena.  Social media is not replacing our need for close relationships and conversations that involve speaking rather than typing.  But it is helping us to be part of the lives of so many more people than we used to be just 10 years ago.

Yesterday, with my mother’s permission, I posted on Facebook that she and I had spoken and that she was recovering well from her knee replacement surgery on Monday.  By tagging her I was able to let her brother, cousins and aunts in Pennsylvania know that she is doing well, reassure her friends in Western Australia about her progress, fill in the family who live in the same country as her but who might not be aware of her surgery (it is a BIG family), and let my friends who know and love her know that she is fine.  And that, on it’s own, is why I like social media.

Right.  Now that I have emptied two of the busy thoughts from my busy brain I must hit the sewing machine as I have projects underway that need my attention!  I can slip in casually though, that I bought an industrial compound feed sewing machine yesterday.  As you do.  (Insert me doing a gigantic happy dance here – cannot wait for it to arrive early next week!!!!!)

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Oh – and I died my hair blue.  Because I can.  I have a big personal reason behind it, that I will share in a week or so (don’t worry – it is a good reason) but my explanation, shared on Facebook, is also true:

Yesterday I exercised creativity of a different kind and did something to make my children gasp in amazement, and to let my outward appearance be an expression of my inner dreams. This is the new colour of my hair – something my children have begged me to do for years. They are blown away that I actually did it and their excitement brings a huge smile to my face just thinking about it! ( my favourite quote “We were only joking and never thought you would really do it. This so cool!)

As for me? I love my life. Today I plan to create great things – and hopefully get some sewing done!
Have a great day out there and think about how you might give people a little peek into your inner dreams – who knows where it will lead you!

 

Being human

This week I am able to announce that I am officially human.  Even better, I am a local human.  I am one of 101 local humans selected to be part of a ‘human brochure’ about Canberra.  My chicks think it is hilarious that I am now a local human.  Over the next couple of months I will meet my fellow 100 humans and we will get to visit all sorts of VIP events at local attractions – many of which involve food and/or alcohol, and places I haven’t visited.  The chicks get to attend a few events with me too.  Then we get to spend time sharing our experiences in our local region, using social media, culminating in a weekend in October where we can show our city off to family from out of town.  It is a pretty big deal.

Of course, you know me – part of me is terrified about all the juggling of competing priorities, about letting myself put me first for once, about meeting all these uber-cool fellow humans and remembering that they have all been fooled into thinking that I am uber-cool too.  The other part of me is really excited about getting to go out and have fun with adults doing cool things!  If you follow me on any of the social media I use (instagram, twitter, facebook – oh my I am so cool these days) you will see the hashtag #humanbrochure appearing and you will now know what it is about! (and I promise I will try to reduce my use of the word ‘cool’, given that it isn’t actually that ‘cool’ these days.)

Of course, with the confirmation that I am human, comes the realisation that I am a mere mortal, and therefore fatally flawed.  Which isn’t really a surprise to anyone!  The notification about being human also arrives at the same time as a whole slew of good things, and an avalanche of challenges.  Life.  Gets you every time doesn’t it?

Good things first (then you can choose to skip the challenges if you want!)  I was selected as part of the launch of a new feature on Ebay where you can make your own collections of things that you like.  They selected a pile of bloggers and other people to create the first collections, to set the scene for the launch.  So far I have had two sets of 5 collections approved, and am working on a 3rd.  I tend to use Ebay for very functional things, so taking the time to stop and look around has been interesting.  One thing I have learned, very quickly, is the importance of good product shots.  I have been aware of it for selling on Etsy for a long time, but really hadn’t thought about it in the Ebay context, until I was looking for images that would hang together well.  Oh my there are some shockers out there.  One image of a gorgeous vintage porcelain piece had a background of a piece of uncovered, dirty rubber foam.  Others showed delicate things for babies sitting on the carpet for the shots – which just didn’t work!  The whole image of Ebay as a place for bargains might be the reason, but given the amazing array of good available there, I suspect that the move to collections might start to have an impact on the way people choose to display their wares.

The next good thing was lovely feedback from a customer, lovely feedback from a colleague, and a request to be allowed to quote one of my blog posts in someone’s book (!!!) all within a day or two.  It is a bit like getting a compliment from a random stranger while walking down the street – it makes your day!  I have also managed to have some of my items on Etsy make the front page after renewing my involvement in my teams on the forums – one of those cases where promoting others really does help yourself.

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This one made the front page of the US site, so massive exposure for my bag!

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The middle chick is currently directing the shooting of a video that will star the boy, as an entry in a competition to represent the local milk company.  Whether they win or not is irrelevant as they are having so much fun making it, negotiating the story line, and adding special effects – it is hilarious to listen to them!

And finally, I was able to sit down and make my first bag using the leather I recently purchased.  It is very different from sewing with fabric – not just because of the bulk of the leather when dealing with seams etc, but because it seems to stretch and move when it is sewn (despite my judicious use of clothes pegs to hold it together) and unpicking (which I did a LOT of) leaves holes in the leather that don’t disappear like holes in fabric do.  Still – the results are so different to fabric that I think I will continue learning and practising.  I am considering investing in an industrial machine – I suspect that would help a lot!  For this one I used some leather from a piece of milled hide, a part of a sleeve from a suede jacket a friend sent me, and lined it with an indigenous print cotton.

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As for the challenges?  My boy.  That beautiful soul who snuggles in and remembers the most awesome details about conversations you have had years before, who loves to be able to help, who fills my heart with joy.  Once again we are back to dealing with challenges.  The respite gained after the trip to the chiropractor was short lived.  I suspect the change in houses over the weekend contributed to it.  For a boy who doesn’t deal well with change, moving between houses each week is challenging.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  Divorce sucks.  It doesn’t just suck because the adults are hurt and grieving. It sucks because the children who have no control over their environment get hurt, over and over, for years after the fact.  I struggle every day to think about how I can reduced the impact of our family circumstances on my boy.  There are no simple answers.   However his school continue to find ways to support him to feel okay about himself.  When a relief teacher did something in reprimanding my boy that still makes me shake with emotion, the boy was able to come home feeling good about himself (and completely unaware of how upset I was) because the executive teachers made sure that he was safe and felt wanted and useful.  God bless them.   We are entering another phase of analysis and diagnosis with yet another specialist.  The next few months will be challenging.  Again.  Thank heavens that when he is good he is awesome!

Heading into the weekend with the rounds of winter weekend sports, children who need to be ferried from friend to friend, and all the other activities that seem to fill our days of ‘rest’ I am hoping to be able to get a little bit of sewing done – and finishing those last few rounds on the rug for the girls’ room!  I’ll check back in and let you know how it went!

Have a great weekend, wherever you are!

May the Fourth be with you

It feels like a long time between drinks posts.  I have written several in my head in the last week, so was quite surprised when I logged on to see how long it had been outside my head, in the real world, since I posted!  There you go – time flies when you are having fun!

I have been playing with all sort of things in the last couple of weeks.  New fabric.  New ideas.  Old ideas revamped.  Housekeeping.  Forgetting to clean the house.  The usual circus that happens here in the nest!  My May newsletter did get out on time (have you subscribed yet?  They are full of a wide variety of things, so sign up – its free!)

In celebration of Star Wars day I have made two new bags – which will be listed on Etsy in my shop later today when I have the ‘good’ photos finished.  I enjoyed making these – I learnt a bit from using my repurposed denim bag while I was away over Easter, so took a different approach to cutting and joining pieces, taking note of the stretch in different fabrics, and think that the product is much better as a result.

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The first bag is a tote so not too much to tinker with there – although I did take a different approach to the base with some extra stitching, while the satchel is where I had a bit more fun.  I used the small front pocket from the jeans I was attacking cutting up to complete a bag panel alongside a back pocket piece, so this bag now has a pen pocket and a full sized pocket under the flap, as well as the usual pocket on the back, and slip pockets inside.  I like the new ideas that come from fitting together pieces that have already been used in another form!

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I also made the eldest chick a pair of pj pants from left over flannel – she loves them and I have had to peel them off her to wash them as she changes into them when she gets home from school!  I bought some new flannel on sale last week, so will be making another pair for her, one for the boy, and one for myself.  (The middle chick has about 10 pairs of pjs so doesn’t need more!)

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I went on a re-stocking buying trip last week (where I scored the flannel) and stocked up on some printed duck-cloth, and other bits and pieces, and bought this gorgeous fabric at the same time.  A friend/customer has requested two bags for her to take as thank you gifts when she travels overseas later in the year. She wanted an Australian flavour.  These fabrics (although unfortunately printed off-shore) bear the designs of Indigenous artists from Maningrida, a remote community in the Northern Territory where I have previously spent a little time.  I love them!  My bag making got stalled when I succumbed to a bug from one of the children, but I intend to finish them in the next day or so, and show you the end results!

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I also got a bit adventurous and bought some leather pieces.  I have been looking for leather to repurpose for a while, but in the absence of any success there, some pieces from a wholesaler are a good place to start (especially as they were a very reasonable price.)  I haven’t cut into them yet but hope to start playing with some new ideas this week, so stand by for photos!

In thinking about my market display I put out a call on Freecycle to see if I could get some boxes to help with my display.  Look at the history in these!  A beautiful woman passed them on to me – some were ones that her grandfather had acquired through his work, one had been used as a nesting box for chickens – they are all boxes that have had a life, and a lot of history.  We shared a bit of our lives with each other which made the meeting even more special.  I am so lucky!  A bit of cleaning and repairing and I will take some proper photos to share.

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It really has been a busy couple of weeks – there is so much more I could share, but I need to leave you with some time for your own life so won’t go on with every detail!  One thing I will share though is that my boy had a bad start with the return to school and was struggling again, with acute anxiety episodes, and the behaviour that flows from those.  Until I took him to the chiropractor we see, who also offers Neuro Emotional Technique.  If you google this practise you get all sorts of criticism of the lack of scientific evidence, blah, blah, blah, but to be honest, after the last couple of years I tend to look at the results for my kids, rather than the reviews.  I talked to her about his anxiety and other issues and she offered to check his ‘reflexes’.  She did, and then adjusted his “fear paralysis reflex” (some mild clicks in a couple of spots).   Wow!  He was calmer straight away, went to sleep without needing me to lie down with him that night, (and the next!), and the next day had an amazing day of staying in class and coping with everything!  The rest of the week continued well too.  Now this is not a ‘cure’ but whatever hocus pocus it is, it has given my beautiful boy, and his very supportive teachers, a break, some respite, and a chance for him to succeed again.  Hopefully the effect will last a while.  If not, even these few days of calm for him have been a gift.

I am sure some of you are missing my weather updates (Uh-huh).  It is cold.  Really cold.  Snow on the surrounding mountains sort of cold.  And the kids started their winter sports season yesterday, in the cold, and the rain. (Luckily they are with their father this weekend so I was tucked up home in bed recovering from a virus while they were suffering.)  The middle-chick didn’t cope so well (her father diagnosed frost bite – massive eye roll from me) but the eldest chick, in her first season of hockey on a full pitch, scored a goal, and the boy, in his first season of being allowed to tackle in rugby (and for the Americans reading – this does not involve any padding like your grid iron players wear – they just do full body tackles) and enjoyed it and wasn’t injured.  Phew!

My plans this week include working on some business planning, SEWING, and finishing this zpagetti rug I started yesterday while lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  I hope that you have a great week!

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Confessions of sewing fear

Anxiety comes in many different forms. I have spent time speaking with medical professionals over the last week and was asked to describe how each of my children, and I, are similar or different in terms of anxiety. One takes the form of catastrophising everything – natural disasters are a particular favourite that will take hold and be obsessed about. Another worries about situations in the family, but understands reason and logic and can rationalise the fear. The third doesn’t appear to an outsider to worry or fear anything, but in fact has quite extreme reactions if feeling vulnerable or embarrassed. I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by all the noise in my head – my ‘to-do’ lists, my own expectations of myself, etc. I think that we all think of an anxious person as the hand wringing worrier – when in fact anxiety takes so many different forms.

In thinking about all of this I have realised that on a more superficial level, I also have some sewing anxiety. It sounds a bit funny coming from someone who blogs about sewing, sells things she sews and purports to share tips about sewing with other people, but it is true. I am not a confident garment sewer – but that isn’t an anxiety, that is an understanding that I am not good at fitting things for myself (I have short torso) because I don’t know how. One day I will work out the science of it and all will be fine. Which leaves the question -what is my anxiety?

It is quilting.

Not the patchworking of a quilt top. Not the sewing on of binding. The actual process of quilting – putting together the layers of quilt top, batting/wadding, and the backing, and stitching through it to make a quilt. I have never done it. I have read tutorials, tips and hints. I have spoken knowledgably to people about it. But I have always been worried about doing it myself. A friend of mine who is very crafty told me that my machine didn’t have a big enough throat, so it would be too hard. She also told me that I need a walking foot. She recommended outsourcing it to a long arm quilter. I took her advice, not because she was the authority on all things quilting, but because it suited me not to confront that fear of failure!

But – no more. My mother is still with us, keeping the chicks and I feeling loved and supported. She is a long time patchworker and quilter. She has never had someone else quilt her quilts for her. And she doesn’t own a fancy long arm quilting machine. In fact for many years she didn’t have a walking foot. And those quilts from 20+ years ago are still going strong and being used daily by many members of the family. So this afternoon I asked her whether she thought we could quilt the quilt I made for the boy ourselves. (Yes – the quilt top that I so proudly showed you back in (ahem) April is still sitting in a drawer). I rang the long arm quilter this week, as I have also finished (finally) the memory quilt that I started for my housekeeper back in (ahem) August, and she said that she might be able to get one quilt done before Christmas. After talking to Mum (who said ‘yes of course we can – your machine is fine’!!) we have decided to quilt the boy’s quilt ourselves, and take the queen size memory quilt to the quilter. I am going to overcome that fear, and exile it by learning from my mother – just the way it should be!!

In news not related to any fears, the artist-in-residence’s fabric samples are on their way to us for proofing. She is very excited, and creating more designs. I have managed a little sewing, have cleaned out the chook house (so glamorous), caught up with friends for a cup of tea and crafting (I sat and cut out appliques of bicycles!), ferried children around to various social engagements, and have been supported by my mum.  I am excited about seeing my contribution to the Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holiday series in the morning.  (Although it appears on the 10th of November, with time differences being what they are, it won’t be published until about 1am on the 11th November on Australian time!)  And I need to see my accountant, so will be filing, sorting and trying to remember my movements of the last financial year – sure to balance out any excitement!

I hope that your weekend has been lovely, and that you are able to recognise and face any anxiety that may befall you this week – large or small.

Silver linings

My brain is full to the brim at the moment, teasing out new ideas and strategies to support my boy. I have moments of intense clarity, and then moments when I feel like I am swimming through custard (which sounds tastier than it feels!). Thinking about starting new sewing projects seems a bit overwhelming when there is so much else to think about. Instead I have finished one project (the beautiful pile of capes – more detailed photos will follow after the recipients have tried them on), and played with the camera on my phone to capture some of the colourful and positive things happening in our lives. We have much to be thankful for, despite my feelings of gloom.

The stress of trying to find the right support for my beautiful boy has triggered some fairly intense anxiety moments, so I have decided to use that for good and not evil, and today began the room by room clean up of the house that has been required for so long. Nothing like finding the silver lining in this cloud! The other silver lining? Everything I am doing to support him this week is working. He was so proud to report to the paediatrician today that “I have made good choices for four whole days!”. Yesterday morning I went to wake him up and he wasn’t in his bed. I presumed that he had snuck into my room to use the ipad. Instead I found him sitting on a chair in the lounge, cuddling the dog and having a gentle morning chat to her. Moments like that melt my heart and remind me of why I am fighting for him, and why I can’t give in or give up.  My two girls also need some extra love and support at the moment.  Thank heavens for Miss N the au pair who is proving to be just the beautiful soul that we all needed in our lives.

So please bear with me while I have a break from regular crafty blogs and instead provide the occasional photo of something that is making me happy. You never know – I might even finish cleaning the house and start sewing furiously! It has happened before……..

Juggling act

My house is unusually quiet tonight. I think it is just the stark contrast with the noisy, busy weekend that makes it seem so peaceful, but I am sitting here enjoying it nonetheless. The three chicks are in bed and hopefully some are asleep. The cupcakes for school lunchboxes are made, half the washing is folded, and, more importantly, I have been able to sew! Which is important as I have been fending off an anxiety attack for a few days.

By the end of last week I was feeling overwhelmed. The list of things that I thought I had to do seemed all consuming, and seemed to grow daily, and the future seemed full of obligations to other people that threatened to remove the last vestiges of time for me. (Luckily my paid work wasn’t adding to my sense of drowning in a sea of tasks – it was just all the other aspects of my life.) On Thursday night while on the phone to the MIML (the winning suggestion from my friend Fliss to describe ‘the man in my life’) I explained that I had to start on making fudge to take to work for morning tea the next day, after finishing making the curry for the annual lunch event at work, and still had to make a bag to donate to the raffle the next day. He asked if I had to make the fudge, and I heard myself saying ‘ of course I have to make it’…… and realised that I had hit my superwoman delusion again. You know – the one where you think that you can do everything, really well, without shortcuts, and keep all the balls in the air while also juggling knives, fire breathing dragons and unpinned live grenades? Hmmmmm…… so I stopped, put the fudge ingredients away, took a bag out of the stash of bags I have already made, and went and lay on my bed. Which was just what is required when you realise that you are vulnerable to more than kryptonite.

In order to avoid having to go and buy this shirt that I found on Pinterest (which I cannot find the credits for so can’t properly attribute), I am taking tomorrow off work to get a bit organised at home, do some sewing, do some planning and just breathe out a little bit. I am getting better at saying ‘no’ to extra things, but am still not great. This week might be time to get a bit of practice in……..
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The great thing about now being able to recognise when the walls of my mind are closing in is that I have strategies that I know can work. And thus, sewing has occurred! I had an order for two more superhero capes, but the request this time was for them to be suitable for smaller toddlers. So I adapted the pattern and went to work. And, voila! Two capes, so I now have three little bags ready for delivery this week!

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I also had time to sit down and applique a t-shirt. I bought some blank t-shirts a while ago, with the intention of appliquing them…… and they have sat in a box ever since. Actually getting one out and making a start on it removes that from my list of things that must be done! The t-shirts are made from bamboo fibre so are just lovely to work with and will be lovely to wear – delightfully soft to the touch!

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I was also able to give the change mat that I shared in the last post, to my staff member who is going on maternity leave.  She was impressed with it, and I have a couple of orders for more already!  Which may have necessitated a small bit of shopping to buy more laminated cotton………oops!

Another great achievement of the week was heading out to do some market research – literally of markets! Here in Canberra we have markets that are held every Sunday morning called the Bus Depot Markets – held in an old warehouse that was…..a bus depot. When I lived in Canberra about 13 years ago I used to go there regularly, but for the last few years, with three children (one of whom is very lively), and less disposable income, I have stayed away from them in order to avoid temptation. This morning, however, we went for a visit, under the guise of a reconnaissance mission. Part of the information gathering I tasked the children with was to identify which stalls caught their attention, and to think about why. (They loved the idea of this being an undercover mission!) I was also interested in looking at what people used to display their goods on. We went in with strict instructions from me that they were not to ask me to buy anything as we were only there to look……and within 5 minutes I had (without them asking) bought some beautiful soft homemade marshmallows, and gluten free cupcakes! Ah yes – sugar gets me every time! We did have a great look around though. At one stall we had a lovely chat to the stall holders who generously explained that their shelves were in fact folding shelves and very lightweight, where they had bought their trolley from, etc. I love the way that craft people are so willing to share their knowledge! Now I am researching folding shelves……as you do!

As I head into the week, with plans to lighten my load, focus on things that make me happy, and, of course to sew, I hope that your week goes well and that you have achievements to celebrate along the way.

Piecing it together

Half way through the week already?  I need time to slow down a bit!  I am fully recovered from the virus I had on the weekend – it seemed to be a 24 hour thing, thank goodness, but it did make a dent in my plans!

To make up the lost time I baked for the children’s morning tea for the week at 6am on Monday, managed to get the grocery shopping done with two children in tow that afternoon after work, while the eldest chick had a playdate (what did we call these when we were young – I am sure they weren’t ‘playdates’ then!), and then picked her up and shopped for the few bits we needed before she left on camp.  Phew!  So the chores of Sunday were recovered, but the crafting time was lost.

I have managed to make a library bag that my sister-in-law requested for my niece, and was quite delighted to use a scrap of fabric from the boy’s cot quilt (made by his Nana) and that I am incorporating into his ‘big’ quilt, into the ladybugs’ heads and bottoms – the family connection for his cousin will probably be lost on a 5 year old, but it gave me a nice sense of symmetry.  I also found this lovely piece of fairytale fabric in the stash that my mother sent me recently, which I used for the monogram – I think it adds a magical touch to the bag!

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ImageThe eldest chick has gone on her school camp for two nights.  She has been so excited.  She has memorised the packing list and, it turns out, has been grilling all the teachers while they have been on playground duty, to get all the details she possibly can about the venue, the activities, the food, and the rules.  She decided not to take her new birthday Dr Who bag as it is ‘too special’ and I must say I was relieved with her decision when we woke this morning to rain and the associated mud.  I did make her a toothbrush roll (that I forgot to photograph for posterity) from a face washer and a scrap of the fabric from her pyjamas and pillow case, so she will be the most coordinated child at night!

Her persistent gathering of information, coupled with some recent incidents with the other two children, and my own history, have had me thinking about anxiety and the different forms that it takes.  My artist-in-residence middle chick has high levels of anxiety that manifest themselves in different ways.  Working with a counsellor when some specific manifestations were affecting her quality of life saw that situation improve and her overall anxiety improved dramatically after her diagnosis of coeliac disease.  (And on this, and the association of depression with coeliac I commend the post by Shauna Ahern on her blog Gluten Free Girl to you – it is raw but so, so, important to read.)  However I always knew that I had to manage her emotional needs slightly differently to the other two, and was very clear that this was something that had been evident since birth.

The boy was and is a sunny and very energetic child most of the time.  He is confident in most social situations – sometimes too confident, but when he is angry and frustrated or feels vulnerable we can have some significant behavioural problems.  I have always thought of these issues as related to anger or frustration.  Recently I was told that the diagnosis is actually anxiety.  Huh.  That made me stop and think.

Today, after school, I had the middle chick curled up in a ball, terrified and shaking and in complete meltdown because she had done something wrong at school, and by her putting her own black lens over the incident had magnified the consequences and the incident completely out of proportion.  An emotional phone call from her mother to the teacher shed light on where the message had been misinterpreted and she has calmed down and is happy to accept the consequences (which are mild compared to what she had interpreted them to be) and has written a note of apology to the teacher un-prompted.

Where is this all leading you ask?  Well, it got me to thinking that perhaps my eldest chick, who I rely on to be sunny, transparent and reasonable, is also experiencing her own anxiety, but that she manages it by collecting as much information as possible, so that there are no surprises, and she can cope with new situations.  And then it occurred to me that she is well and truly her mother’s daughter.  Because that is exactly what I do.   I know understand that I ‘suffer’ from anxiety sometimes, and that I manage it the rest of the time, blithely unaware that it is still affecting many of my decisions and actions.

The thought processes then lead me to wonder about the old ‘nature vs nurture’ argument and wonder how much of my eldest chick’s methods of coping are genetic and how much are environmental (i.e. ‘caught’ from her mother), and, more importantly, what skills can I give her so that she doesn’t have to wait until she is in her 40’s to recognise what she is doing and to learn to manage her own levels of anxiety so that they don’t affect her quality of life.

Food for thought for this little bird, trying to manage a nest of little chicks and keep them safe and on the right path for a healthy and happy life.   I don’t have any answers but in identifying what is going on in my nest I am hopeful that I can support them to be strong and confident when they need to be. (A bit heavier than my usual posts, but hey – that is what blogs are for – to keep you on your toes!!  Or something like that!!)