Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Spring sprung and summer could be round the corner!

Who let me have a blog? I'm obviously not very good at being in charge of writing one, good job I don't have or hope for massive readership. 

My world has tilted slightly since I last wrote, and things are brighter. In the past 3 weeks our surroundings have come to life; it's amazing how fast things grow when the sun drags itself out of hibernation. All of a sudden the trees are bushy and green, the lanes are beautiful and full of wild flowers, the fields are thigh high with grass and flowers, our gardens are bursting, and it's possible to leave the house without wearing 7 layers under a raincoat. I even shaved my legs in case I progress from rolled up jeans to a skirt (unlikely, given the state of my legs). It all feels sort of symbolic (wanky as that sounds). 

Equally pleased by the slowly improving weather is my fireball child who loves the garden and would happily spend every waking hour outside if her awful mother would let her. She has a new swing in the orchard (hours of entertainment for her but one less excuse to go to the pub for us), and has been "helping" us plant up the pots (the sort of help that leaves plants dead and me exhausted). Her obsession with snails and slugs has evolved from collecting empty shells to poking slugs before making me throw them over the fence - "MAMA DO IT" - and pushing dying (luminous green and foamy) snails back into their shells when the slug pellets get too much for them. Not too much more child endangerment here though, we switched to using wool pellets this weekend!

We've escaped this island a couple more times since our Reykjavik trip; 5 days of early mornings on La Gomera with my mum and a friend, and a long weekend of late nights in Barcelona with no parents and no children. La Gomera was lovely, we stayed in a beautiful Parador, ate good food, drank good booze (wine & amaretto), lazed in the sunshine, and took turns with the toddler. Barcelona was also lovely, but in a very different way. We stayed in a nice apartment in the gothic quarter, ate good food, drank a LOT of good booze (mojitos & cava), hung out with a friend, got tattooed by said friend and forgot we owned a toddler.

Lessons learned?
  • Avoid flying with an overtired toddler at bedtime
  • Avoid flying with a toddler at all if you can help it
  • Always travel with your mum if you can't avoid taking the toddler with you
  • Don't get completely wasted the night before getting a tattoo (every single time so far)
  • Pack more footwear than just your biker boots when you're going to be walking for 3 days straight (even though they look good with absolutely everything)
  • Go back to Gypsy Lou's, the live music was incredible
  • Stay in more Paradors, preferably ones with heated pools
  • You don't have to queue in the insanely long line for the one and only ticket machine for the aerobus if you have cash
  • Eat more pintxos. Drink more mojitos. Get more tattoos.

Other things we have done include, but are not limited to, the following: some friends have come for weekends, we've been to Bristol a few times, seen a couple of things at the theatre, I've been to a funeral and had a lunch with mum and a brother on dad's deathiversary, we've done some stuff in the village (drinks, lunch, pilates), some stuff at ASHA (hobbit party anyone?), some stuff with our friends who live in Cheltenham, had a weekend in Brighton, and a few drinks in our garden. We even managed to eat half a meal outside one night!

Outside of being a mediocre wife and mother, I've been pretty busy these past few weeks and time has flown by. On Mondays the husband and the daughter go to swimming lessons while I go to a printmaking course. It's good but quite frustrating; nothing goes perfectly, there's never enough time to do everything I want to do, and some of the techniques bend my mind a bit (colour layering). I should be able to get a referral for a second term so I'm trying to see this term as a time to learn the techniques and next term as a time to apply them. Less pressure on me = winning. It's already taking quite a lot of self control not to just storm out when my prints don't go exactly as planned... Tuesday and Thursday mornings I've been helping out in the office of the Forest Voluntary Action Forum while F's been at nursery. Not challenging work, but it's helped them and it's helped me to get out of the house.

For the past 8 Wednesdays I've been doing a group 'Emotional Skills' course run by my psychologist (mindfulness mostly). There were supposed to be 8 of us attending the course, but this became 5, and some days we were nearly outnumbered the caregivers - two psychologists and a really fucking annoying CPN. After the first couple of sessions I was ready to sack it off and not waste any more of my time or theirs, but I listened to my CPN and stuck it out and I'm really glad I did. The aim was to come away with a toolbox of strategies and skills to help with strong emotions, and I think that's exactly what I've come away with. Since starting, and learning and practising how to sit with my emotions, I've realised how I'm actually feeling about some things (loss, fear, anxiety, in case anyone was wondering). Just knowing and naming how I feel is way more helpful than only knowing I feel shit in general and shutting down my brain at the first sign of trouble. Things that Katie (my wonderful psych in Perth) tried to teach me are now making sense, perhaps because I'm now in a more receptive place. Some of the vaguely familiar things taught in the course were covered in group therapy while I was in hospital, but I definitely wasn't in a receptive place then.

Now my group has come to an end, and I feel a bit sad about that. It went from filling me with dread to something I almost enjoyed; 2 gentle hours a week for me to work out how to look after myself. I guess it's hard when anything ends, and although this isn't on the same level as saying goodbye to Katie, it has shades of the same sort of feeling.

Back to my busy life... I've been doing some work for ASHA (which somehow resulted in a new friendship with a 71 year old woman and me significantly lowering the average age at a Zumba class) and some work for Artlift (fuck knows how I became a trustee of anything, let alone an arts and health charity), and I finally have some paid work coming up. The paid work is only for a couple of weeks initially and relies on me remembering how to read/write/speak/understand French. No issues there then. Oh, other than not having set eyes or ears on a French person in years or a French book in over a decade. What could possibly go wrong? Technical and legal conversations in a language I don't remember on a subject I know nothing about. Piece. Of. Cake.

A job in the south of France might be nice though, if the Australia thing doesn't work out. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting something. That's the trouble with leaving it so long between posts; so much happens and so many feelings are felt that it's impossible to separate everything out and write about it in a helpful way. Helpful for me, that is. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh yes. My in-laws are arriving tomorrow. And staying for 6 weeks.

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