Saturday, March 28, 2015

Metanoia (Poem)

and if I knew what I wanted it would be simple:
if I could tap into vorfreude to guide me
if I knew I anticipated anything that much, that joyfully, I could
or I could try, at least-

if I knew, I could.
climb out from under the sense-deadening blanket,
shake off the hiraeth that renders me heart-dumb, and
put fingertips on the shape of the world, and make it new.

they say we all have orenda, painted dye-deep in our genes
the power to change the world and to change ourselves.
unlocking it, however, may be problematic
for the lost lambs wandering in the misty hills
crying confusion, thin and high, to the cold damp air

sorrowing for the world, and paralysed with acatalepsy
koyaanisqatsi the defining note:
we cannot know anything, and if we cannot know it, how can we change it?
or perhaps more to the point - how do we dare to?
not knowing our own sun, how can we exercise the intolerable hubris
to turn our eyes to stars?

if I knew, I could try.
if I knew what I was meant to be / do / know / absorb
if I had the script, my lines marked
nefelibata, or sacrifice
if I knew what I was meant to know
if there was meaning to be dragged from it, in some clear and unambiguous way

if I knew - but I do not know, and never will
all I have is intuitions and brief moments
numinous ecstasies limited to half-remembered dreams
sillage trailed through my sleeping brain,
a faint perfume of the soul, fading
always fading away.

- Kathy, 28/3/15

*This poem was, among other things, an attempt to knit together a few of the words I am newly besotted with, which I read on this page. This poem embeds nine of them: metanoia, vorfreude, hiraeth, orenda, acatalepsy, koyaanisqatsi, nefelibata, numinous, and sillage.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Holidays on the way, and I am ready, ready, ready

The first three months of 2015 have been considerably kinder to me, in all respects, than the last three months of 2014.

My health has had its wobbles; I've had a few bad nights and a few bad days, but overall, I've been much, much more stable than when I was flailing about drowning last year. Knowing that there is both a physical illness and an anxiety disorder at play in my bad moments has actually helped me dig up much faster, as I'm more accepting of things and less inclined to panic about them.

This is all good, and my family has definitely benefited from my calmer, happier demeanour. The work that I'm doing with my lovely therapist is helping me beyond measure, and although I am only seeing her once a month now, I think I will continue to do so for the rest of this year at least, as I am so much better at coping with life with the tools she's helping me develop.

Being part-time (0.6) at work has helped too, although not as much as I guess I was hoping - because I work my 0.6 across 4 days instead of 3, I really have only noticed a difference on my day off, not on the other, so-called "shorter" days, when family work has seamlessly claimed the newly-available extra hour or two (and, more than a few times, I've ended up just working those hours anyway at home to meet work deadlines). This has also been an extremely busy and critical 2 months at work, with all my projects fairly high-stakes and many potential roadblocks to be navigated, so it hasn't been a stress-free environment in any sense.

The whole day off each week has been great indeed, but rarely - in fact, only twice so far, and one of those involved caring for a sick child! - has it been anything less than frenetically busy in its own right. A different kind of busy, and a much nicer one - kids' school activities, catching up with friends and family, volunteering, baking, writing - but still, there has been remarkably little lotus-eating or navel-contemplation going on.

The fact is, therefore, that even though I am much better in every way, I am becoming very, very tired. This has been a big term, both at work and in life. Since our return from Phillip Island just before Australia Day, there has been no respite from the multiple demands that life with three active children and two working parents places on us. My commitment to writing a novel this year has been wonderful, but not without cost either in terms of my energy level and ability to get through the days.

I've accepted that my hormonal disorder, paired with my Coeliac disease and my anxiety, means that my capacity for life-load isn't what it once was; I need more rest and downtime (although not necessarily sleep) than I used to, and that's OK by me, but not always easy to achieve.

What I am much more alert to, now, is that it's not an option for me to keep pushing when I start to feel the fatigue demon nipping at my heels. If I need to stop, it really is in everyone's interests (mine, my family's, my workplace's, the overburdened Australian medical system's) that I do, and recover some ground.

Which is why it is so timely that I have just four remaining days of work (tomorrow, then next Mon - Weds) before having 11 days off. This coincides with school holidays and Easter, of course, so is unlikely to involve a lot of lazy days with books and chocolate - I will have the kids with me! It will, however, be really nice to reset the clock a little bit.

We aren't going away anywhere to stay, but we have two family day-trips planned - one to Daylesford, and one down to Frankston to look at the sand sculptures. We're going to catch up with different sets of friends on a couple of the days, and Easter Sunday, as always, will be bunny then church day. The kids have various friend playdates and parties going on, and the older two are doing writing workshops. It's entirely possible that a trip to the movies might happen.

So there won't be a lot of quiet bumming around, but there will be some, and there will certainly be less balls in the air than during term - no work, no school, no netball, no guitar lessons, no craft club, no volunteering, far fewer deadlines and timeframes to keep to. 11 days isn't really very long, but I'm hopeful it will be long enough to give me a surge to last at least until the conclusion of the next huge phase of frenetic busyness, which culminates in early June with a massive governance cycle conclusion at work, my second-born's 10th birthday party (Harry Potter themed and bigger than Ben Hur), and with the Emerging Writers Festival Conference.

I'm toying at the moment with the idea of taking an extended break in the winter - as leave without pay, probably - as I think I'll need it. I'll see how I go, but I'm perfectly prepared to ask for a month off if that's what I feel I need, to cover the school holidays, of course, but also to give me some time when the kids are at school to rest and decompress. I will just play it all by ear. One day at a time, sweet Jesus - just give me the strength, to do every day, what I have to do...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lazy Sunday

It's been a pretty mahoosive week - well, fortnight - OK, month. Today was the first day in a goodly while with absolutely no commitments, either social, work, school, activities or family. To say it was sorely needed would be an understatement; frankly, we could've done with two or three just like it. Thankfully, next weekend is looking pretty clear at this stage, so we may well get some more downtime in.

Lazy Sundays around here involve Doctor Who, Minecraft and books. They're about catching up on laundry, Twitter and paperwork piled on desks. They involve sushi, spring rolls and tall coffees. Some trampolining, desultory gardening and playing with the dog gets done. Novel chunks get written and mini-breaks, school holiday activities and birthdays get planned. Afternoon nanna napping may also be a thing that occurs.

My house is a little less chaotic, I have clean clothes for the week, I have another 1,500 words on my novel, we have holidays and activities to look forward to, and we have all recharged and enjoyed spending a day with each other, free of timetables and "musts". Lazy Sundays are the absolute best.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

On International Women's Day (Poem)

The story goes, that woman came from man,
Formed from his rib, a late-created shame;
Made to help and comfort in his loneliness -
Weakly-willed, disruptor of God's plan
The fatal bite from where all pain began.

The story goes, that women's souls are less,
Aptitudes and capacity differentiated (worse);
Just not as strong or clever as the men -
To speak out loud is always to transgress
While men say no, a woman's part is 'yes'.

The story goes, all women are the same,
Earmarked by breasts and wombs that bleed and birth;
All real women carry these stigmata -
Leaving, liminal, those whose bodies frame
A different shape of meaning to their claim.

The story goes, that women have arrived,
Technically free to work, to speak, to live;
(Well, in the West at least, and that's conjecture) -
Every woman's freedom now contrived
We won, we're told, because, look! we survived!

The story rests, in need of newer words,
A sharp red pen, a critic's careful eye;
Character development beyond the flat -
A thousand million stories, bright as birds
Against the current, silver salmon herds.

- Kathy, 8/3/15

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On disappointed expectations

Was it only yesterday that I wrote about how much I was looking forward to my day off tomorrow...?

I am dealing with a severe case of The Pointy End of Parenting right now. My youngest, who has a mild cold, got me called to school for the second time this week to collect her early today. (In my defence, she was right as rain this morning, and managed a full day yesterday without incident). And, when collecting the older two at pick-up time, I was informed by middle child that she also has a sore throat, sniffles and wants to stay home tomorrow.

I'm not particularly proud of my reaction - which was to let my disappointment and frustration show, and ask both kids if they'd go to school if they get a lunch order. (Low, low, low). I also offered post-breakfast Nurofen, which, to be fair, is good policy whether they go to school or not, as I have often found a morning dose of Nurofen gives great relief for the whole day with borderline-sick kids.

I suppose, in my defence, I'd say that neither of them is SICK sick - no fevers, no coughs, eating normally, behaving normally, cheerful etc. Like me, they have a mild viral cold, and I'm sure the scratchy throat is annoying to them just as I am finding it annoying. But are they in need of retiring to their fainting couches? Um, NO.

Still, I am going to need to build a bridge and get over it, because there is a very real possibility that I'll have at least one, if not two, kids at home tomorrow. And in case anyone is in doubt, no, a day not at work in which I am caring for sick children, NOT watching my saved-up TV shows, NOT writing, NOT resting, is not a day off. It's a day doing different work and work that is ultimately more important, but it's not relaxing funtimes.

The other, less likely but still not remote, possibility also now looms that husband and my anniversary night away next Tuesday may be nixed too because of illness. There have been ominous rumblings of ill health from the planned babysitters (my parents), and with middle child's propensity to tonsillitis, if she does go downhill I won't be able to leave her overnight even if my mum and dad are ok to come.

To say that this does not thrill me would be an epic understatement. It's like life is having a lend of me, really. "Oh, you were looking forward to that, were you? Whooooops!" Honestly, this week. What a shocker.

OK, I get it - my life is still incredibly soft, privileged and gentle compared with most, and I have a lot to not be whiney about. And yes, this is part of being a parent and being responsible for the lives you choose to help grow. I do know all of that, of course I do.

I still feel disgruntled, though, and re-gruntling is going to take a big effort of will from here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What I'm looking forward to

After a lovely, if frantic, Saturday (my baby's Superhero Birthday Party ... more on that when I can get to the photos!), things have gone, and stayed, waaaaay downhill. Sunday wasn't great, and Monday through today can, frankly, kiss my arse. Yep, it's been THAT awesome.

It's been all the small things and the large - the sick kid, the poor to non-existent sleep, the anxiety jerkbrain flare, the car-parking and traffic woes, the many work crises, the relentlessly fighting siblings, the sore toof, the husband away interstate, the inexplicable lack of edible chocolate in this house.

Tomorrow is probably going to be a bit average too, but I am holding on to the promise of:

- Friday off. My very first Friday off where I have NOTHING scheduled AT ALL. I am going to write some novel, eat some delicious food, and watch rubbish TV for the 6.5 hours the kids are at school. It will be VERY, VERY good.

- Family day in Geelong on Saturday. We're meeting some people for a walking game and the kids will enjoy the waterfront, I think.

- Anniversary night / day with husband on Tuesday night / Wednesday. My parents are coming over to stay overnight with the kids. We're having dinner at MoVida, staying at the Park Hyatt and plan to enjoy a city day together before coming back to get the kids from after school care. I've switched up my day off to do this, so I will be working Friday (also, alas, Monday, as I don't get the Labour Day public holiday) but it'll be so worth it.

- Next Novel in a Year class on 14 March. The novel progresses, and the spin-off short story is almost finished. I've been so enjoying both the writing and the interactions / encouragement in the Facebook group; I can't wait for the next injection of face to face feedback and learning.

Further in the distance lies Easter (which = 10 days off for me with the kids, from Good Friday onwards), but at over 4 weeks in the future, that's a little bit too far away yet to give comfort. These more proximate pleasures in store will sustain me, though, as things get a bit tougher, in the immediate days to come.