And, I’m done

IMG_20141011_180820688_HDRAt 5.40pm last night I handed in the final assignment of my Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Guidance and Counselling) – emphasis on the counselling. I did zero guidance papers, and the only ‘education’ component was a couple of research papers. Not that it really matters. What does is that I am finished!!!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And I couldn’t have done it without you. So, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you. To all of you. The folks who read here, everyone on twitter who has been there when I needed a nudge, my friends and family, my classmates, my husband and kids especially. I’ve been insufferable at times, forgetful of things, neglectful of my blog, sinking to great lows when assignments were due. The volume of panic attacks and level of anxiety over this year has been more extreme than in any recent years I can remember, so that support was vital for me. When I wanted to quit, when I thought I couldn’t do this, someone (often more than one) popped up to remind me I could.

Here’s to you. And me. And awesomeness.

Cheers!

I’d like to thank…

The letter F has got to be for friends and family, because without them I couldn’t do all the things I do. My husband supports me endlessly, always encouraging, always confident that I’ll find success. My three precious girls give me all the love and adoration I could need, they challenge me to be a better person, comfort me when the world is an unfriendly place. The family I grew up in is still as supportive and wonderful as ever, and I’ve been lucky enough to add an excellent step-father, step mother (and brothers) and a great bunch of inlaws to the mix.

And my friends? Well, they are pretty much made of awesome. They range from writers to non-writers, to new and old (I’ve known my longest friend since we were about 2 – each knew the other only as ‘the girl at the beach’), but they are all wonderful, quirky, intelligent folk who make my world a better place.

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Doglet

It’s been a busy day here at home, and I’ve made several attempts at writing a post for the letter D. Everything I try quickly reveals itself to be better suited to other letters though… so, I’m putting those ideas on hold and will talk a little about my doglet, Leeloo.

WP_000457She came into our house 18 months after my old dog died of cancer. I went into it believing I’d never really bond with another dog in the same manner – I mean, Kali was my companion before I met Hubby, before I had kids. We were pack. We shared a bed. I’d drive home from work at lunch time to check in on her and give her some cuddles. She would mourn me any time I was away for a weekend, waiting at the door, ears perking up hopefully any time a car door slammed in the driveway.

You can’t replicate a situation, a relationship. Of course it wasn’t going to be the same.

Leeloo is a very different dog, raised in very different circumstances. A household full of small girls, some of them unpredictable and unruly themselves, she’s always been convinced that everything is a game, so training has been difficult. She’s almost two, and she still won’t come when you call her – not through lack of trying on my part, but mostly because every time I try to train her, one of the girls runs at her and tries to grab her and Leeloo will NOT be tricked. She’s not slow, and she seems to have a long memory. She won’t sit, but when you tell her ‘sit’ she’ll roll over at your feet.

WP_000471However, as difficult and trite as she can be, she’s wrangled her way into my heart in a way I certainly didn’t expect. I know this because I cry when we have to leave her for a weekend, and because I miss her when she decides to sleep by someone else’s bed instead of mine, and because the mat I stand on at my desk is always more comfortable when she’s wrapped around my foot.

She’s not a ‘good’ dog by the conventional standards, but she is definitely one of us. She loves to play, but enjoys quiet time just as much, she’s full of love and adores cuddles, and she has ‘cute’ completely mastered. She’s got oodles of personality and I couldn’t be happier that she’s part of our family.

Reggie’s Case Files

I spotted a new PledgeMe campaign – from my cousin! (the writer – Lex) – seeking funding for a noir webseries. Looks like it could be worth a watch. Have a read and help a cousin out? Cheers!

Reggie’s Case Files is a webseries which follows the mildly psychotic private investigator who thinks he’s in a classic noir thriller. We will follow him on his cases, ranging from domestic drama to in-depth character profiling, as he verbally narrates his life and belittles the people he encounters. We will explore classic noir tropes such as femme fatales, corrupt officials, and mysterious missing persons cases. The content will draw humour from people’s angry and sometimes violent reactions to his unfiltered stream of consciousness.

Pirate vs. Cowboy Productions is a Wellington based team consisting of Director Jonno, Writer Lex, and Cinematographer Jesse. We have over a decade of experience in visual storytelling, including short films, documentaries, theatre, and so on. We’re creative, imaginative, skilled, and resourceful. We just need a small amount of financing to fully realize this project.

Updates!

I keep looking at my blog, thinking I should post something, but not really knowing where to begin. The right words have been hard to find.

So we’ll start with: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. As you might remember, I started The Artists Way back near the start of the year. I’m actually sticking with it this time and am up to Week 7. I’m learning a lot about myself, not all of it fun, but valuable even if hard at times. It’s not resulting in massive amounts of writing, though I have been revising steadily over the month (four scenes to go!). I’m changing, I can feel that, though I don’t know what form a lot of changes will take. When I can find the words to get all my thoughts down, I will.

I’ve also accepted that I have a problem, and my moods are not normal.  I’ve been feeling all kinds of things and about 10 days ago admitted that I’m not okay. I’ve been telling people when they ask, and many are shocked (those in the face to face world, anyway, my online friends don’t get my masks so much!), though at the same time pleased that I am being honest again. It’s one of the steps towards balance for me, so I’m glad I’ve taken it. I’m also taking some vitamins and other things which seem to be helping. I’ve not been back to the pits of despair since then, which is nice. Sometimes, just admitting you aren’t okay takes the pressure off. Masks are heavy, as are fake smiles, so my advice to anyone is to cast those aside.

I also had a short story accepted for publication! Was totally surprised, but delighted of course. I can’t wait til the line-up is announce and the cover revealed, though it’s been lovely seeing other writers I know and respect mentioning on facebook and twitter that they also got in. One writer friend in particular, as it’s her first sale, and she is such an awesome writer. I am so proud of her, and so pleased we’ll get to share space inside the cover of a book.

What else? I guess life is ticking along as normal. We’re still home schooling and there are great days and not so great days. I’m enjoying getting back into some renovation stuff, ticking things off my giant list. Playcentre began last week, so we’re finding a groove with that again as well. It’s a very busy term in general. Oh, and my university paper officially begins on Monday. I’ve not had a chance to read ahead yet, but that’s okay. I feel like I can handle all the things on my plate, which is more than I was feeling a couple weeks ago.

Right, better get back to that revision huh? I hope Feb has been treating you kindly. So hard to believe it’s almost over already.

Wrapping up the year

Well, it’s Christmas tomorrow, and then before we know it 2012 will be upon us. There are a bunch of things I would like to get done before then, but I just don’t think they are going to happen – too much fun to be had with the family to be stuck inside getting through my pile of work.

That said, I made my 20,000 word goal, and am feeling terribly excited about the novel. I will find ways to eke out a few words here and there so that I don’t lose this newly reformed daily writing habit, but I don’t imagine I’ll be getting time for more than a few hundred words a day.

I’d like to note that this is the most I have written on a new project in just over two years. It feels amazing to be powering ahead with a novel after so many months spent working in the short form. While I’ll always have a fondness for shorts, and I think that the learning I had from them has really improved my writing in general, I am finding a novel a very exciting thing to be working on.

It’s been a pretty good year all around. School went well for Ivy, I started going to Playcentre with Lauren and Natalie who are loving the stimulation. We’re all making new friends, which is fabulous. I’ve reclaimed some time for myself, both in regards to my writing and also by doing some study towards becoming a counselor. The rekindling of old dreams has been a real bonus this year, and not something I had foreseen. It’s a welcome change, and I feel really good about the way it’s subtly shifted things in our family.

I’ve learned that my husband is more than I had ever hoped for. Which isn’t to say that I had low expectations, but rather that I tend to think I should just handle everything in the world on my own and don’t ask for help as often as I could. This year he was straight with me about a few difficult things, in a tactful and kind way, and he has also been a huge enabler of me creating change in my life. I wonder if perhaps we’ve been together long enough now that he’s comfortable challenging my boundaries.

When I tried to back pedal out of doing the course this year, he was very firm about the fact that I WAS going to attend. None of my excuses made a dent in his wall of faith in me. Now, when I start to make noises about getting writing done, he often takes himself off, knowing how easily distracted I am. It is his quiet support that I appreciate. His faith in me (no matter how many extra things I decide to take on) that I can do whatever it is I’ve set out to do. That I will make the time for my passions, my work, and still be the best parent I know how, and the best wife. I don’t see how life could ever be bad with a man like this at my side. I had no expectations of who we would grow into as a couple, but wow, I am thrilled with the way our marriage is developing.

Our girls are growing too. Ivy is maturing in ways that I couldn’t have predicted, I’m so proud of her, and really delighted with the potential I see. I’m worrying less about the teen years now, because I think by then she’ll have worked through the kinks that other kids are usually just starting to address. She’s so vibrant and vivacious, she draws people to her everywhere she goes. She has such a lust for life, and I hope that’s something she gets to keep forever.

Lauren is a delight, as always. She’s blows me away with the way she looks at the world. The way she gives compliments for the sake of it. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone in my life who so frequently tells me that I’m beautiful, or that they think I have pretty eyes/hair/clothes/whatever else, that they love me and think I’m wonderful. That level of love and kindness used to be so hard for me to accept, but hearing it from her has made it easier to accept compliments in general.

And Natalie… Well. The baby of the family, that hasn’t been a baby for almost as long as I can remember. Can you believe she is one and a half already?? She never ceases to make me smile. She is just so cheeky, so adorable that it’s hard to be grumpy, even when she’s peeing on the floor or trashing whatever she has come across in her explorations of the house. She is a thrill seeker, and an adventurer, through and through – definitely one that I need to keep an eye on ;-)

So we’re ending the year like this. Happy, content, excited, growing, maturing, exploring and enjoying the bounty that we have. Because we are blessed.

You probably won’t hear from me until 2012, but I want to say Merry Christmas, and have an awesome New Years Eve. Celebrate everything that happened this year and welcome in the new one with gusto, because it’s going to be amazing. I hope I’ll see you back here in January. Stay safe, and enjoy!

Stepping outside my comfort zone

I’m a home body, really. I love my house. I love hanging out here, inside or out. It’s comfortable, and where my beautiful little family is. I find it relaxing (mostly), and well, it’s HOME. I guess I needn’t say more.

Tonight I’m stepping out. That course that I was going to do, and then said that I wasn’t going to do, and then changed my mind about and am now doing, starts tonight. Over the last week I’ve changed my mind a fair few times, but ultimately, I want to do it, they want me to do it, my husband wants me to do it (and has denied all my attempts to weasel my way out of it – I love that man!) and there is no pressure to continue the training straight away – I can do the course so that it’s under my belt, and then start volunteering when I’m ready. So I have nothing to lose.

Except that I’m nervous. And fighting off all anxious thoughts about it. It’ll be the first time my husband has had solo care of the three kids in an evening. Ever. It’s a pretty big step. He’ll be alone (at their mercy) for almost four hours. FOUR HOURS. I don’t think I’ve left the house for that long since I had Natalie. In fact, I don’t even think I was away from the other two for even four hours when I had Natalie… and certainly not any time before that, when Lauren was small. I have complete faith that he will do just fine, but it’s hard for me to hand over the reigns.

I’ve been carrying one baby, or two, on my hip/s for years now. Little arms around my body, warm breath on my cheek or chest, precious faces within kissing distance. They act as a kind of safety barrier for the world. Insulation. There is ALWAYS something to talk about when you have a child on your hip. People don’t generally approach you unless they like kids, and if you find yourself struggling to think of things to say, babies are always happy to provide entertainment. It takes the pressure off me.

I know I’m interesting. I am sure I have stuff to say. Intelligent stuff. Stuff people will want to talk to me about. But I have to confess to feeling a little naked without a child in my arms. A little vulnerable.

So tonight, I’m stepping outside my comfort zones. I’ll meet people I’ve never met before, learn things I’ve been distant from for years now. I’ll return to a household that on some levels seems exactly the same but will be slightly different. I know this is good for everyone, but I can’t help but feel a little sad about the subtle changes that this will create. All positive ones. Really positive ones. It’s time. That doesn’t mean I can’t feel a little emotional about it.

The first steps are the hardest. The most challenging. But ultimately, worth taking.