Eat, Pray, Love. (Whatever.)

Holy Smokes – it’s been 9 months since I last blogged! (Note to reader: all my posts start with such an exclamation because I’m the worst, most inconsistent blogger in the history of bloggers the world over so it really is no longer a valid introduction and I shall cease – henceforth.)

I’m sort of back and wondering just how on earth to re-gain my mojo after withdrawing from the Social Media scene (and pretty much all life as we know it) for a significant period of time.

Even as I type I’m trying to decide what angle to come at this because SO MUCH has happened yet when applying the bigger picture….not much has happened! Hence the silence on the blog front. I had nothing to write about. Literally nothing. I hit a big fat rut where I went to work and I came home and I participated in the mandatory aspects of life when I really preferred to just not. The days turned into weeks, the weeks rolled into months and I slowly realized that my life was becoming a blur of work and sleep. I was not participating well in this thing called life and I grew a little despondent. (Side bar: I grew a lot despondent. I watched episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And I enjoyed it. There. I said it. Forgive me Father for I have surely strayed from the path of the sane & logical….) 

I was never going to publicly admit or put down on paper that I was battling my own version of anxiety and depression. Name a reason, I thought it. “What will people think? How humiliating. I always preach a message of joy in the Lord and contentment – where the hell is my joy & contentment? I’ve never struggled with it before. Hormones? Yep. Anxiety? Absolutely not. I’m way to old to fall into that now. I don’t have anything to be depressed about, I have a great life. Sure, I have flat days but I’m not that flat that I can’t function….” until I realized that I actually wasn’t functioning well. And for someone that doesn’t like to fail….hello cycle of vicious anxiety. Some mornings I would sit on the edge of my bed after a shower, unable to get dressed and willing my heart to stop pounding & racing, simply at the thought of having to engage in life. I would have hot flushes in the middle of business meetings where my palms would sweat and my brain would scramble mid-sentence, thought or idea. Most days I would fall into bed at night exhausted from doing the bare minimum of living. Sound melodramatic? I have a pretty accommodating personality but If I had a pet peeve it would be unnecessary drama in every day life – and suddenly this was my reality and my very own private hell.

(Gee whizikers….this post took a turn when I started typing…let’s roll with it shall we and see where it goes?!)

What I didn’t realize was that because I had never experienced this before, it was very situational and with time & with the right input and the right people around my life – this wasn’t a life sentence. Healing would come. The lights would come back on, my heart would no longer race at random and inconvenient moments, interest in the world around me would spark once again and dreams for the future would be restored.

Can I tell you one of the most frustrating things well meaning people said during this time in my life? “Just do what makes you happy. You need to look after you.”  Can I just take a moment to respectfully address this concept?

Fact: I was kind of depressed. Fact: I was extremely vulnerable therefore my feelings got hurt very easily. Fact: Life was no longer engaging. It was passing me by.

The thought of living a life with the only end goal being ‘do what makes me happy and look after me’ was entirely & utterly depressing. Every time someone said it, I would go home and cry my heart out. Sure, I understood the general sentiment. But every time I did something that was not for me, that was outward focused, I would be cautioned by a well meaning soul that I needed to slow down and think about myself.

Do you know how long I had already spent thinking about myself? I’ll tell you. A lot of time. To much time. I was consumed by my own hurts and feelings and sending myself kind of batty.

Sure, my life could do with some more adventure – I did have a tendency to be performance oriented and work a bit hard.  Taking a Cooking or Samba Class would certainly bring a smile to my face and bring an element of joy, a welcome break in a busy week but to what end? I was lacking a sense of purpose. I had gotten knocked off course and a 12 week cooking class absorbed in the world of butter, vinaigrette’s and pickled jams wasn’t going to resolve that or fill the void.

And if we are going to get philosophical, there had to be more to life than just being happy, right? If there wasn’t, then what the hell had I been doing for the last 37 years? Even though I knew it was not their intent, every time someone said it to me it felt like a slap in the face and kind of invalidated all my experiences and my life choices to date. Experiences that actually had brought me a great deal of joy and contentment. I created a narrative in my mind that said ‘these people think I’m a push over and that I have no will power or ability to make good life choices’. 

Let me share with you some of the wise advice I didn’t know I needed until it was delivered by some of the best people I know. It is somewhat contrary to what all the self help books are telling the kids these days but it catapulted me out of myself and back into the land of the living.

I didn’t know I needed some fiercely loving but firm words of truth to pull me out of where I was at and to help me see that some of the thinking patterns about myself were unhealthy. It takes guts and love for someone to see your despair and be willing to speak truth into your life despite the risk of you alienating them. Once the horror of truly being seen had washed over me and the immediate spark of anger out of self preservation had subsided, I sat down and took stock.  There was truth in their words and I needed to participate in the process of change. I didn’t know I needed encouragement that I wasn’t a total failure, that I was needed and valued and even wanted. And I needed it consistently even though my pride would argue otherwise. Where there is truth – there must be love. And I was getting both in spades. I didn’t know I needed someone to tell me ‘Kath, you have more to offer this life. You have something to give and only you can give it.’ Deep calls unto deep. Telling me just to be happy only validated my fear that I didn’t have anything else of value to offer this life. I didn’t know I needed to be reminded that God had a plan and no amount of heartache or drama or self imposed sanctions could knock that off course. As Lisa Bevere so aptly says ‘If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this. You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.’ I didn’t know I needed to be told that there was the time & grace to heal and that this wasn’t forever. I had time. Better days were coming, my future was bright. It was time to begin to unpack all the chaos going on internally and allow someone to speak into that and allow God to get in and around my heart.

That is not to discount professional help. If you need help – sit down with your Doctor and start the process. Coming off the back of a 12 month long illness, I was aware that my lack of physical health had contributed to the downward spiral in my mental health. These things can’t be messed around with. But I also knew I needed to start talking again and dealing with the heart issues.

We live in a world that has created such a strong sense of self preservation, for fear of not measuring up or for fear of getting hurt or simply because we have been doing it on our own for so long, its hard to let go and trust. We can default to ‘doing only what makes us happy’. But happy is a feeling. We can’t always be happy. We can’t replace trouble, grief or heartache chasing fleeting moments of happy. If we could, then my habit of emotional eating would have successfully filled the void a long time ago! These things must be felt, acknowledged and dealt with so we can move through to the other side. Life is happening and it’s full of challenges and ups and downs and happiness 24/7 is simply not attainable.

However peace is. Peace in the eye of the storm. It’s something I’m still working towards because that means absolute reliance in my ever loving Creator instead of in my self.

Do you know what else is achievable? Finding purpose. Finding a reason to lift your eyes from your self and to invest into the life of another. We were never created to be lone rangers – relationships is where it’s at. You may not always ‘feel’ happy – but you will experience and actively participate in this thing called life. You will overcome challenges, you will find joy & contentment, you will experience heartache and sadness, you will develop resilience, you will learn new things and you will do it with people you love and who love you.

Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

P.S – apparently in the scenario above I’m taking a cooking class with the CWA. Which could explain why the concept did not bring me joy. Note to self : Dream Bigger.

Kath x

Red Sky in the Morning…

New year, new blog post! **Insert obligatory well wishes here**

Settled down indoors amongst a wealth of cushions, because Wellington has rained for 3 days straight now, I started flicking through my 2016 journal. I’m a believer in journaling and getting down your thoughts, feelings, fears, frustrations, joys and ramblings. It’s like this blog but way more private & humiliating when you read back over it.

I’m going to stray from my usual format and share with you a page from my journal. Did you just sit up in eager anticipation? Sit back down, first I’m going to cast your minds back to 3 weeks ago when I landed here in Windy Welly…..

What I didn’t share with you all was that I arrived on my friends doorstep on the 10th Dec, sunburnt and recovering from a severe case of Ross River Fever. For the month prior I had come to a complete standstill after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. I don’t remember being bitten, just a vague awareness that my arms were achy and I was exhausted for a fortnight in the lead up to my Grandpa’s funeral. It had been a big year and the 8 weeks prior to this had been intense as I supported a very sick friend. I dismissed it as tiredness and grief but took some time out after the funeral to sleep and refresh. Instead of refreshing, I woke up 3 days later barely able to move. My joints were so swollen I couldn’t get any of my rings past my knuckles. My wrists & elbows ached constantly and my shoulders clicked and grated with every movement. It was like I had aged overnight and I walked with slow and painful steps, my feet ballooning to the point that most of my shoes suddenly didn’t fit. For 10 days I clasped my wrists in despair, lathered my body in deep heat and popped pain killers that failed to take the edge off. Then I broke out in a rash that left my feet and ankles looking like fat rolls of Salami. Test after test came back clear and apart from a high inflammation count and a sluggish liver, I was healthy. The Doctor put it down to stress. I had after all, had an overwhelming couple of months and just lost my 2nd job that year. I was mortified that my body was reacting in such a way to stress and vowed to take better care of myself. I cancelled all my plans & responsibilities and with the help of friends and family, the pre-planned trip to New Zealand was hurriedly brought forward.

Slowly I began to feel better and though solid sleep still eluded me, the aches and pains ceased and I began to regain the use of my hands and feet without moving like I was an 88 year old woman.

The Friday before I flew out the Doctor rang, my Ross River Tests were finally in and I’d tested positive. I had no idea what it was so after a phone consultation I jumped online and researched the symptoms. It was exactly what I’d been experiencing and a sense of relief flooded my being. I know you aren’t meant to feel that way when you hear you’ve been sick but there was a reason I’d been unwell and I would get better. A month in and I was recovering just fine.

Not 24 hours after I arrived in Wellington I came down with a bout of Gastro. Not only had I arrived at my friends with the residual effects of a mosquito born disease, now I was violently throwing up and doing “other things” in her toilet. In the midst of it I remember praying that as I ‘purged’ every bug, infection, virus and disease would go with it. I’ve slept like the dead ever since and every morning I wake up with an intense sense of relief that my body is mending and healing.

So as I sit here reading my journal and reflecting on the past 12 months, I can see remnants of my despair leap off the pages. Yet one page captures my attention. I think it must have been written after I’d spent some time in prayer that day. I haven’t edited or embellished, I want to be true to what I wrote in that moment.

Tues 25th Oct 2016

When you let go of the need to control other people’s responses, you set them free and self free. Resentment cannot build because you have released them from your own obligations.

He is teaching you to lift your eyes and navigate the storm. It’s not clicking because all you see is the damage from the storm. Keep your eyes and heart set on course. If you navigate by the storm then you will end up FAR off course. Follow the compass, follow the pattern, follow the set path. Trust HE will bring you AND others through.

The seasons surely change. They always change in God. Always.

You are not alone in the boat.

I don’t want to over explain or elaborate. I think that you, dear reader, can reflect on this or take it with a grain of salt as you wish.

I will leave you with this – heading into 2017, you are not alone in the boat. We can fight against the waves, we can loose our way and get knocked off course but days of calm and rest are coming where the wind will be at your back and it will push you into the next season of your life. You won’t be in the eye of the storm forever because the seasons surely change. They always change in God. Always.

Until next month!

Kath x

Hawaii Five-no

So here’s a quick one. 

Last night I had to come to terms with a very sad fact while watching Hawaii Five-0. Im not actually destined to marry Lieutenant Steve McGarrett after all. You know when you’re crushing on someone and then you have a proper conversation with them and you think ‘what the heck?’. I had the same kind of epiphany. 

Here are my five reasons why….see what I did there, Five No’s? Ok, moving on….

1. He spends his weekends hiking. I do not. I spend my weekends eating out with friends and watching him hike on Netflix.

2. He takes his lady friends on surfing, snorkeling & deep sea diving dates. I can’t even pick up those coloured rings from the bottom of the pool. 

3. He is a workaholic & gets shot at every day of the week. It would cause serious friction in our relationship.

4. I don’t live in Hawaii, I’ve never been to Hawaii and I have no plans to become the victim of a horrendous crime whilst holidaying in Hawaii so the chances of us ever meeting are really slim. 

5. HE ISN’T REAL. 

#NewBeginnings. I’ll catch you when I have something profound to say. For real next time. 

Oy with the poodles already x 

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Relax dear reader, I don’t mean permanently.

But sometimes when life is happening and I get caught up in the busyness and the mayhem and I feel like things are spinning out of control, I want to throw up my hands at the world and shout “everybody just STOP! Let me think for a minute!” simply so I can catch up.

I don’t know where I first heard this phrase but it turns out it’s the name of a musical. One of my very favourite things is a musical so that’s kind of fitting! Having consulted Wiki, it was last on Broadway in 1978 so clearly I haven’t seen it. But I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s about the life of Littlechap. Each time something unsatisfactory happens in his life, he calls out “Stop the world!’ whilst addressing the audience. Judging by the picture on Wiki, he also appears to be a circus clown. But that’s neither here nor there.

Would you like to know how I came to be sitting at the kitchen table at 1.55pm on a Wednesday, while the rest of the world is working, talking to you about Littlechap? You do? I suspected as much. Grab a cup of tea, I’ll wait…..

Excellent. It happened like this.

I can pin point the moment that feeling became semi permanent for a season of my life. It was in June 2015. And for 6 months I had an overwhelming feeling of needing the world to just stop for a minute so I could catch up. Of course I didn’t want to just stop all on my own and take a breather because I feared life going on without me. Work, family, friends all continuing to spin around whilst I simply stopped. If I’m honest….there is also the fear that life would in fact just continue to spin because I am not the center of the universe….but that’s just between you and me my reader friend! And so I pressed on but it was with reduced capacity to enjoy life, to cope, to be in any way productive as each area of my life took a hit. There were issues at work, huge financial pressures, tensions in some of my relationships and then spiritually I began to struggle. New Year’s Eve 2015? I was away with friends and crying on my poor bewildered sister’s shoulder, I begged her to let me go home for the evening and I spent it alone. I ate Nacho’s and I went to bed at 9pm.

Then I kind of got my unspoken wish in the most unorthodox way! I was made Redundant. The world didn’t stop spinning but it surely slowed down! My friends and family took matters into their own hands and shipped me off to New Zealand for a week. If I think about that to much I feel overwhelmed because their generosity during a financially difficult period and their intervention got me back on track. Away from home & staying with wonderful friends, I began to unload the fear, stress, grief and anxiety that I’d been carrying for a long time. And in the process, I began to heal. And in the healing, I could see all that God had been doing for me all along and I began to feel His presence around my life again. That might sound odd to you, if you aren’t a person of faith. But I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t want God to just be real from afar. I want Him to be real and evident in my life. My everyday life.

I’ve been unemployed for 8.5 weeks. Not for a moment did I think I would still be unemployed coming into April! I job hunt everyday but I’ve also made some changes. I started keeping a journal because I realised that my ability to carry not just my burdens but other peoples burdens was, frankly, world class. Dutch Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom says this:

“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts, whirling around a center of fear”.

So I started to write it all down. Every question, fear, problem, concern, thought on life and my friends and family, I write it all down. I take a deep breath, close the book and I cease to carry it. It’s my way of offering it up and letting God be God. Sometimes it takes several deep breaths & some midnight entries so I can sleep…but it’s a work in progress!

I’m also going back to study! If there is one thing 2 months off work has done it’s allowed me to take stock of my life and think about what I really want to do next. And with the very timely sale of my apartment, I’m going to work less & take on some study.

I do a bit of freelance work. Work I love and enjoy. It ensures I get dressed everyday (ok, most days) and gets me out of the house.

I got an exercise bike. It’s squished into my tiny bedroom and I ride away while catching up on episodes of Blue Bloods. I know most people listen to music but I feel it allows me to watch it guilt free if I’m pedaling at the same time.

And that’s my story. If anybody is still out there.

“Oy with the poodles already” x

P.S: Maybe next post I will shed some light on that phrase…unless you’d like to boost my confidence by leaving a comment & shedding light of your own….hint hint…

P.P.S: There is something very narcissistic in writing about oneself and expecting people to not only enjoy it but leave positive comments don’t you think?

 

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Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.

So this is my 3rd attempt at a blog. The others weren’t successful. I think because they never went live. At least, that’s my gut feeling anyway.

In a world of bloggers that actually have something to say, I’m not sure just how widely read this will be but unemployment means desperate times, desperate measures. I can no longer talk just to myself and for some time my Facebook posts have leaned towards long and ramble like.

So here I am on my 3rd attempt. Should that be third attempt? III attempt? These are the things that will keep me up at night because there is always that one person who wants to give you ‘feedback’ on your post. It can be funny, lively, witty, touching, heartfelt and their comment ‘Too. Too is the correct context’. Thank You kind reader. Said no grammatically challenged person ever.

What will I write about? What Project is going on in Pearson Street? Who is this witty, articulate and strangely compelling almost middle aged woman? All excellent questions. Thank you for asking.

I will write about whatever I want. For example, books. The title of this post is in reference to…yes you on the iphone up the back…correct! A highly controversial novel by Judy Blume written in 1970. It’s a great title don’t you think? Maybe I’ll try and be clever and name all my posts after fabulous books and obscure quotes! Maybe. What does it have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing. I will write about life. Work. My love of Anthony Warlow and the theatre. Tea. Green Tea. I love green tea. Family. Food. Customer service. Oh my gosh, do I loath poor customer service and love when people get it right.

As for Pearson Street, for 18 months I’ve had my apartment on the market in an attempt to sell and gain a little financial freedom. Something I have not really known since buying my first house at 22. 18 long months it sat on the market and it’s been one hell of a ‘project’ to sell it. That project then extended to one of the most interesting and challenging periods in my personal life. One I might just talk about here! The apartment has now sold and settles on the 22nd April. New Beginnings. I just might talk about that also!!

Well reader, I think I’m done. The hardest post to write seems to be the first as it kind of sets the tone but doesn’t say much in particular. Or should it say ‘much’ in particular? Hmmm. A Quandary. I’ll research that before I post again.

My final thoughts?

“Oy with the poodles already” x