Anxiety and the joy of creating.

Those that have been reading a while, may know that I struggled with PND in the past, after our third babe was born.  A combination of a prolonged recovery after a c-section and a sweet babe with terrible reflux which left him with a burnt, raspy little voice were the precursors to this.  Henry was only able to sleep for an hour at a time, very occasionally two for the first year of his life due to pain and discomfort.  Throw in no family near by, two other small children needing their Mama, owning our own business and a husband working long days.....well really it was inevitable.  There is only so much fuel in a persons tank.

Let me preface this post by saying I am quite well these days, and the darkness that hung over me like a stormy cloud after Henry’s birth has well and truly lifted.  But I believe the discussion around depression and mental health should be an ordinary one.  Something we talk about freely and openly.  It's not something that should be talked about it in hushed tones, nor hidden away.  It should be part of the modern day narrative, as we discuss health and well being.  We need to be educated and sensitive in a way which allows us to step into the trenches alongside those struggling with depression.  To help lift them up and fight away the darkness with them.  To empower them to seek help, to remind them it is not their fault but that it’s a  physiological condition.

I'm no longer on medication for depression, and mostly the sun very much shines in my life.  But like someone with a bad knee may experience aches and pains which slow them up, I’m still prone to bouts of anxiety and mild depression.  Something I share with 1 in 4 Australians.  Everyone experiences anxiety to a degree, and certainly it can be a useful emotion and kick us into much needed action.  But in excess?  It can make us feel paralyzed and worthless.  Incapable of doing anything much which we feel that is of any use to anyone else, let alone ourselves.  Even when we may know logically this is not true, anxiety can be insidious and utterly over whelming.

For me, living a slow and conscious life helps immensely.

Knowing the actions and things I undertake matter, that they have a value attached to them for the well being of our family.  The action of taking the time to find purpose in the small and often repetitive tasks of mothering.  There is power in that.


There is something about the slow and deliberate action of creating which gently untangles the knot of worries that sometimes find a home in my chest.  The chaotic noise that can fill my brain to the point that I feel like on a bad day, I feel I may actually burst.

Ritual helps.  To turn on calming music which drowns out the unhelpful probing thoughts, to tinker with my essential oils and turn on my diffuser.  These simple activities remind me to be present, that I am in control, that the actions I choose to undertake can be more powerful then the mess of thoughts.


And to create.

To pick up a task that requires me to have busy hands.  Hand sewing, baking, gardening, writing.  As my hands undertake the often repetitive movements of the activity in front of me, the knot slowly unravels, my thoughts untangling in the process.  Slowing to match the rhythmic movement of my hands.  Soon enough the voice of logic is louder then the voice of anxiety.  I find my center and I begin to feel more like my usual self.

For me if I litter the day with small, mindful rituals I remain on an even keel.  Poaching my two home grown eggs in the morning while my coffee brews, making sourdough, a simple but nourishing tradition generations upon generations have undertaken prior.  I often think of those before me as I carefully tend my loaf.  Wondering if like, me they have loaves that mysteriously fail despite doing the same thing as usual, or if they got a perfect loaf every time.  I imagine younger people might experience more frustration and baking failures, then as they grow older these activities gradually become intuitive.  An extension of themselves.  Patience, timing, rhythm...merging into a beautiful part of who they are at their very core.



I also like to spend time in prayer - or meditation if prayer is not your thing.  Just the simple act of taking time to acknowledge thoughts in stillness can be deeply helpful.  For me, sewing and writing are really the two big tickets in unraveling the tangle of anxiety when it begins to make a nest in my mind.  During these windows of time is when I most feel like “me”.  These activities resonate to the very core of who I am.  When undertaking these tasks I take the time to breathe slowly, to remember that of which I value.  I take the time to be thankful and look for all the beauty in life.  For it is always there, even if we have to dig a little.  Even in the darkness.

Gardening, cooking, sewing, painting, writing, knitting, crocheting, building....all these tasks are creative.  The list is endless.  What don't need to be Pintrest worthy, nor even end in a tangible item at the end.  Simply the process of using our hands in a way in which helps us to be mindful is the goal.



I wonder what value and worth others find their creative pursuits bring into their lives?

If you are struggling with your mental health, I urge you to seek help.  There is SO much help out there and its OK not to be OK.  Beyond Blue are just one Australian organisation that can offer a wealth of information and support.


Much love,
Emma
Xx



18

Bathroom progress.

After a period of flat out renovating I gotta say this weekend my patience was running thin from the constant dust, tools, mess and cleaning endless dust and dirt only for it to quickly return.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the ability of Grant to be able to do so much but sheesh - how I dream of living in a finished house!

Getting ready to tile the kitchen splashback.

But on the upside the bathroom is tiled and soon after a quick paint, and a few finishing jobs we will have a bath installed, we seriously cannot wait!  It has been nearly three years since we have been able to enjoy the luxury of soaking in a hot tub.

We have been busy ripping down an old termite ridden shed which meant for a lovely big bonfire on Saturday night.  (By "we" I mean Grant and the boys....I steer clear of such matters!) Which called for a chance to sit and watch the flames and enjoy a little glass of wine.

Back yard bonfire - country style!

Alas, Sunday my cabin fever really began to set in which called for a trip to the beach and fish and chips for an early dinner.....Read I totally lost my temper, packed up a basket with towels and a change of clothes and demanded we go o the beach RIGHT there and then.  So off we went, and with the cold crisp air, salt and sand a level of sanity was restored.



Is there anything more soul replenishing then being at the beach?!

Much love,
Emma
xx
10

Book week 2018

Book week - a week that either fills parents with joy at making costumes alongside their kids, or with dread for exactly the same reason!  Angus decided to be his favorite Lego Ninja this year, from a book he sleeps with most nights. (Because logically, books make a wonderful snuggly bedtime companion....yes?)  Henry clearly decided to be a lion - There are lots of lions in kids books right?!  I'm going to say from the book "The very cranky bear" which is a favorite here, especially with extra roaring for good effect.  

Angus and I had a great time putting together his costume which consisted of black pants and a $3 black cotton jumper from a clearance rack.  The details I appliqued on with fabric from my stash.  With only just enough sticky iron of stuff.  Apparently I sew like I drive a car, running things down to empty and only just making it in the final hour by a hares breath.  HA!  (Thank goodness for fabric stashes eh?)   

See the sticky iron on stuff to the left of the screen?  That's all that was left at the end. 
(Note to self: Buy more)




I hope you have time to sit down and do a spot of reading yourself this weekend!

Much love,
Emma
xx
8

Minimalism......?

Since getting sick late last year with my heart problems, and the long and slow recovery that has followed I have had a lot of time to think....to nap...and to think some more.  I have had little energy to do much about all the said thinking but it occurred extensively none the less.

Since beginning our families journey into the realm of simplicity (what ever that is) I have been slowly and steadily decluttering and trying to consume mindfully and purposefully.  So far to say that as a family of 5, we do not have an excessive amount of “stuff”.  Our house is a nice size, though not huge by today's standards.  All my clothes fit in 1 standard size wardrobe, my kitchen cupboards are a little full but also my kitchen is not particularly big.  Anyway, you get the picture.

But in the last 12 months the urge to declutter more deeply has been a recurring thought in my mind.  I think primarily because the physical work I have been able to undertake has been so drastically reduced.  Now I don't think I’ll ever be able to call myself a true minimalist because I love cushions, books AND house plants - clearly I’m doomed from the get go!  BUT, I’m decluttering, donating, binning and passing items on with a new found vengeance.  Motivated by the possibility of an interstate move and by the brutal reality of how much time, effort and energy it takes to keep a home clean whilst renovating with three small boys underfoot.  (Dusting is SIGNIFICANTLY quicker if I have less stuff to actually dust.....farewell knick-knacks!)  I'm enjoying the ever increasing white spaces that are present in my home, I find it really peaceful.  There are so many wonderful blogs and pod casts out there to provide guidance and motivation in this area.  Some of my favorites are Rhonda Hetzel from Down to Earth and Brooke McAlary The slow home podcast which I'm sure if you are here you have most certainly heard of!

It's a glorious day today and the doors and windows are open.  Henry has been painting and if you look to the left you can see my washing drying inside from yesterday - in the aim of keeping it real!

And whilst I have been tackling this deep decluttering exercise I have decided I don't have the energy to declutter AND sell much at all.  So unless its worth the time to sell, like a piece of furniture for instance I have taken to putting a little makeshift table on the side of the road.  I then put an advertisement on my local Facebook buy/swap/sell page with a sign and a donation jar of “pay what its worth to YOU, all donations will be going to the local church and if your unable to make a small donation - please take anyway and enjoy!”  Win-win!  I don't “need” the money as it was stuff that was simply sitting there anyway, so the church gets some much needed cash which they pass on to the community through giving support and people get a bargain.  Everyone is happy!

You know I mean business when I'm decluttering BOOKS!

Between minimizing, and cleaning up after endless reno’s I have re-discovered my sewing mojo, much to my delight.  I have been slowly hand stitching a little Waldorf doll for a dear friends baby who is somehow already 6 months old! I’m really thrilled with how he is coming along and he is patiently awaiting his clothes, a little cape, felt mask and a little felt dog.  I will be reverting to the sewing machine to make his clothes however as I’d like to complete him before we see them next.  I have remembered how much I love sewing and doll making.  The act of creating something unique out of beautiful natural fibers brings me a kind of deep joy.

A sneak peak of the little fellow I'm working on.  

Anyway, I had best be off.  I'm eyeing off the kitchen utensil draw - you know the one that is so full of stuff that it never actually closes?  That one.

Much love,
Emma
Xx










8

And then....repeat.

Here I sit, nestled in a cafe in the heart of the Barossa.  The cups clattering in the kitchen, the coffee machine letting out an occasional hiss of steam as a fresh coffee is carefully brewed.  The man next to me reads his newspaper, occasionally licking his thumb to grip the pages which rustle as they are turned.

The ladies a table down are deep in conversation, listening carefully to each other.  I can tell their friendship is rich and deep.  We should all be so blessed to know such a relationship.

The sky outside is dull, grey and drizzly.  But it is warm and comforting here, all is well in my little corner of the world.

My mind is so full....I must have tried to type a post for a couple of weeks now but ideas just wouldn’t form.  My mind is jumbled, thoughts fractured with “ifs, buts and maybes”.

We have put and offer on a property which has been accepted, currently contracts are being written up.  265acres near a big centre with everything we could possibly need and more, 45 mins to the coast.  High rainfall, sub tropical.  Truly a beautiful piece of land in an equally beautiful corner of the world.

But suddenly my sense of adventure has gone walk about.  I have lost someone oh so dear to me, and all I want is “home”.  To be near those I know and love.  To sit in comfortable silence.  To sit in a familiar cafe, to be in my community surrounded by my “people”.  To have the warmth of familiarity and security wrap itself around me.

Instead we find ourselves preparing to embark on a move 16 hours away and interstate.  We are navigating legal documents, council approval, house designs, bushfire ratings with the added joy of a super tight cash budget.  

Compromise.

The only solution.

To remember we don’t have to do it all, all at once.  That our life doesn’t have to look like others, for it to be ok, beautiful even.

To breathe slowly and to remember to deal with each single task at hand mindfully.  To take time to breathe, to mourn, to look ahead and to take a little step......and repeat.

Again and again until we have worked through each challenge as we approach it.  For we can really only work on one thing at a time, despite our minds all to often trying to solve allll the problems all at once - which never actually achieves anything apart from stress and a headache.

And just like that, we will be ok.  Yes, there will be hiccups and bumps on the road ahead.  For thats what makes an adventure so!

There will be feelings of sadness and loss to sit with as we leave our lives we know filled with people we love and familiar routines.  There will be feelings of overwhelm as solutions to the challenges we face will seem out of reach.  There will be feelings of joy and excitement about the new in our lives. There will be celebrations as we find a solution to a problem which has been weighing on us.

And then repeat.







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