Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Getting merry!

I find it hard to get into the Christmas spirit. This is always such a busy time of year and I am always running on empty, just hanging on for the lazy days of January. I feel like it should still be August because the last few months have been such a blur. When I worked in retail, the Christmas carol CD which played would get me into the mood in November and I would be totally over it by Christmas Day. Also, as I get older the childhood delight about Christmas is very much on the wane and I look forward to a bit of a sleep in, rather than getting up at 5am to see what Santa brought.

But there are a few things which still make it exciting. My husband and I do stockings for each other and it is lovely to not know what I am getting in it. Even if it is deodorant and a chocolate santa. (He does get me lovely things, that is just a rather banal example of the contents).

This year I am going to hear my parents sing in a performance of The Messiah, so I am hoping that will help get me all excited. I also think I need to read the story again and get into the reality of why we celebrate it.

Christmas shopping has the opposite effect. It strips Christmas of its joy, especially in the madness of the obligatory Westfield mall. It is stressful and busy and the list of presents to buy gets in the way of getting things which really mean something. I love the idea of making things but this is the time of the year where my creative juices (and there aren't many at the best of times) are sorely lacking.

So the answer? Maybe celebrate Christmas about the 15th of January. The weather is better, everyone is relaxed and there has been time and space to think about the reason for the season.

Or just try to celebrate all year round. I am so glad Jesus was born. It is a comfort to know he understands the pain and joy of being human and the sense of things not being quite right as we await Jesus' return. He knows about busyness and managed to keep the right things a priority. I hope in this silliest of seasons I can also do that, even for only a moment or two, and not let this Christmas slide by, lost in the rush of life.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Know yourself

I am a total sucker for personality tests and excercises which help me understand myself better. The following are two tests I like.

www.8tribes.co.nz - this one is from a book written by a kiwi woman who has broken down the New Zealand population into 8 classes. According to the test I am a cross between Balclutha and Grey Lynn. I found it really helpful. I now know why I want to be a greeny but think green products are a bit of a rip off. Or why I think it is important to consider social justice and the impact of decisions on people but describing yourself as left wing as if that is the only 'right' way to think is foolish and ignorant. Or why I get really frustrated that at the end of a deep and thoughtful discussion no-one does anything practical with it!

Have a look and find out which tribe you are part of!

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp - this one is based on the Myers Briggs personality profiles. I have done this a few times and I am a strong ENFJ. I find it really useful to read about my personality because it explains why sometimes I feel like two different people inhabiting one body. This version gives quite a lot of information.

Hope you like your type!

Heck, it is nearly Christmas!

I cannot believe that 2007 is nearly over. I am finishing up at my current job and moving on to a new school. I am excited about the move but feel really sad that things haven't worked out the way I planned here, for me personally really. I had planned 2007 and what it would mean for me and I find myself at the end of the year feeling like nothing happened. Well a lot has happened but not much that was wanted.

I have found the last week or so difficult. It seems there are more and more situations which bring reality home to me - visiting the dentist, optometrist and osteopath (who all knew I was pregnant) and having to explain what has happened. Having to plan to be working next year, though I really do like being a teacher, it just wasn't supposed to be what 2008 was for me.

I try very hard to be content, to accept what has happened, take the good, like I know I can get pregnant, and not focus on the bad, like every woman around me is pregnant! It is pretty hard work and frankly, very exhausting.

But I am determined not to sink into darkness, to still celebrate the good and not to bleed my life dry of hope. Grief is a vortex and it could pull everything in my life into its blackhole, but I can't let it.

Today I saw a friends baby laughing and giggling and I was reminded that in all my mental turmoil, that is what it is about. New life and so much potential, joy in the little things, just joy in being alive, on the earth which has so much to offer. Funny that something which should make me sad, helps keep things in perspective.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Not waving, but drowning

I am popping my head up above the surface every now and then. I have felt overwhelmed by the reality of what I am going through but today I feel it lifting. It is so hard accepting that I am no longer pregnant and will not be having a baby in February. But there is something comfortingly real about the cold, hard facts. I find myself being swept away by grief and it physically hurts, but facts are what brings me back to the surface. You would think the facts would be so hard to deal with, but instead it is the pain and sadness which is the hardest for me to face.

It is easy at a time like this to justify not being able to function based on what I have lost. And yes, it is huge and horrible. But it is so much worse when I disappear under it all. Today I went for a walk. That was all it took to lift me for today. A walk is based on the fact that I need to excercise to be healthy. It is not based on how I feel. It is a relief to have a fact to cling to when my head is spinning.

Another fact is that my specialist has given me a date when I will be discharged. That is when all the follow up blood tests should end and when I will be free to get on with my life. That fact is really helping. I can see 2008, where as before it was a huge grey blur.

Another fact which is helping me deal with everything is the financial reality of another year to save a deposit for a house, and the consequences if we don't. Even though my idealism wishes that money was no consideration, that is just crazy! I feel like saving hard and getting real about the cost of the life we want is preparing me to be a good parent, so it feels purposeful.

Today is a day for reality - baby shower to attend. Each experience like this helps me to accept my situation and live in it, rather than wanting to jump out of my own life and into someone elses. Isn't that weird? Maybe it is just how I feel today, but I am going to cling to it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Still in shock

The last couple of weeks have gone by so fast. Returning to work and dealing with being a totally different person than when I left, dealing with people saying things and not saying things. Thankfully the school holidays arrived and saved me from the intensity of it all. But burying myself in work has been such a relief. It allows my brain and heart to rest from all the thinking and helps me to feel like myself again.

It is hard as the distance from 'that weekend' grows. Am I supposed to feel better? Instead it is like after you have had a filling. At first you are numb and it is uncomfortable and awkward but you have no idea of the pain. But then it slowly appears as the anaesthetic wears off. My pain is appearing over the horizon.

I drive around, I walk around and I want to scream "What just happened?! Why hasn't the world stopped?! The is too much!" But then life just keeps rolling along.

I have been trying to keep busy and surrounded by people but I have reached the point of exhaustion and need my own company and thoughts. It physically hurts to be alone with it all but it also stops me from forgetting. And the last thing I want to do is forget. I get so sad when I feel okay, as if it hasn't happened. But I know it will get easier to be in the world and living normally without feeling like that means denying the reality of it all.

Today I had a session with a grief counsellor. It was such a relief to talk and cry about the deep down things which I have felt too scared to say aloud. It helped me to not be so scared and to know that I am doing okay.

Each day is so new and unexpected but hopefully soon the reality of what happened will no longer shock me.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

What now?

So we had an appointment yesterday which basically means we are on hold for any family plans for the next year or so. So what do I do with myself now? I was quite happy to be leaving work at the end of the year and being a Mum at home. So now what?

I think this is making the grief even more severe. I am not only grieving what we have lost and the innocense which is also gone, but also I am left with a blank future, at least for the next year or so. And I was really happy with the way it was panning out.

Now somewhere I need to find the energy to get a new plan. Cause if I don't, what will there be except sadness? I need a plan to work on, for some hope and to have some sense of purpose when things seem so senseless and the purpose I want to fulfill is not there. So maybe I can become that passionate again teacher, and maybe we could become homeowners?

Somehow those dreams which used to seem important and which I worried about missing out on while I was pregnant seem so empty and just aren't seeming to fill the hole, which seems to be all I am at the moment. One great, cavernous hole.

I spent time with God this morning and there were a few expletives. I am hanging on tight, but He is going to have to hang on tighter. This is one journey I never bought a ticket for and a ride you just can't get off.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Getting Angry

They say that the stages of grief begin with denial and then move to anger. I think I am moving to anger. Up until now I have been able to see the silver lining in losing our baby, there are so many things we were wanting to do and sort out and waiting a bit longer to start a family will make those things possible.

But, to be honest, who cares?!!! I just want to have a baby! And not having one after thinking we were for over 14 weeks just sucks. I am definitely not a patient person but now my impatience has moved to mammoth proportions.

I have to admit the anger is quite refreshing as being very philosophical and positive was starting to make me feel like a Hallmark card, rather than a real person. I was able to take my philosophical self to Jesus quite easily, but my angry self is more of a challenge. However, I am determined that I do.

The worst thing that could happen for me out of this experience is that I can't be close to Jesus. I have had a miraculous change in my perception of God and ability to relate to him and I am not prepared to lose that, especially when I feel I have already lost so much.

Tomorrow we have a follow up appointment and we will find out how long we may have to wait before trying to start a family again. I am at the point where I desperately need to know what the new plan is. Maybe then I can move from anger into the next stage of grief. I have no idea what that stage is? This whole experience is like walking down a blind alley and I realise what I am going through after being buried in it for a while. Sigh...

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Sad news

The last few days are a crazy blur. On Friday we found out our baby had died and that there were some other complications. We had to wait till Monday for me to have surgery and I am now recovering at home. I can't believe how everything has changed in such a short time.

Our friends and family have been amazing and I have been overwhelmed by the love people have shown. I have also been so grateful to God for how he has prepared me for this. In a weird way lots of things have happened in the last few weeks that are helping me to accept this and to see hope, even in the midst of deep sadness.

My husband and I are so grateful for each other and the relationship God has built between us. We were both so excited to be beginning our family, but we are making plans to make the most of the time we have just as a couple.

There is such a loss of innocense with the loss of a baby. I had had such a sense of peace and we hadn't had any scans until the one on Friday. Now I need to say goodbye to that and accept the reassurance that medical intervetion can give.

I feel tired by the journey we are only just beginning as we deal with this, but I know we are no alone.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Who am I?

I have been thinking a lot about how my identity is going to change once the baby arrives and I am actually really looking forward to it. I have had creeping dissatisfaction with working for the last couple of years and even though I love lots about my work I am looking forward to the change of pace and focus of being at home. Apparently teachers have the highest rates of post natal depression. I think probably because we love people contact and control, which often disappear for Mums at home. I know that I will have to protect myself from that but I am also excited about learning a new craft, the craft of being a Mum.

I have learnt a lot about myself over the last year or so and the changes that I have seen in myself give me a lot more confidence about managing such a massive change in my identity. I used to have my worth so wrapped up in what I did and what I managed to achieve. Now I think I have a more balanced view and no my worth remains constant no matter what I strive for or the failures or mistakes I make. I think I also have stopped taking life and myself so seriously. I don't want to be too intense now and especially when the baby arrives. Hopefully I can still laugh despite sleep deprivation and inconsolable crying.

One thing I find problematic is how much my identity is already changing in my own mind and the fact that my workmates cannot see those changes because they are not part of our work life. It is difficult to deal with the gap between the way I am perceived and how I see myself. But I am learning to let it go and also to revel in the quiet changes that are only observable to me as I move towards a totally new job!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The Hibernation is Over!

I have been absent from cyberspace for the last few months. I haven't been feeling my usual purky self. Actually I have been feeling awful. But I am starting to feel better so I am back online.
Thankfully there is a very logical reason for me to be feeling so under the weather. I am 14 weeks pregnant!
I am very happy and excited about this new phase of my life. Now that the morning sickness seems to be diminishing I am starting to actually get excited! We have wanted to start a family for a while but have been waiting for the right time. So here it is.

It is quite a bizarre experience to think there is a little person growing inside me. It has taken a lot to get my head around it all and I don't think I am quite there yet. This week I will hear the heartbeat for the first time. I have no idea how I will react but I hope it helps me to bond a little more with the bean, actually more like an orange now.

I am not very good at keeping secrets so the first few weeks when we didn't want everyone knowing were quite bizarre. We told our close family and friends, knowing we would want their support if things didn't go well. But here we are and the cat is now really out of the bag. Work knows and slowly the gossip mill is working its magic. I am a teacher so at some point I will have to tell the kids. But for now I think I will wait till one of them says "You're looking pretty fat miss!". Gotta love the directness of teenagers.

At the moment there is not much to show for the all action going on inside me and I am really looking forward to my bump appearing. I am sure the time will come when I wish it wasn't there but I love the way your body reveals the miracle happening inside.

The baby is due on February 3rd 2008 and between now and then there feels like there is a lot to do. Especially a lot of thinking to do about parenting and the family by husband and I want to create. One of the best things at the moment is talking to my Mum and Mother in Law about their experiences and what it was like for them to be at home with kids. It makes the whole process seem more normal and the nostalgia and softness they use to describe it really makes me look forward to it all. I also really appreciate their candour about the awful days and the struggles. It helps to know that ordinary women can do the extraordinary job of being Mums, so maybe I can too!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Do you find it hard to know what you think? To know who you are and what you are about?
I am really struggling with this and I am only just realising what a profound impact it has on my life. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a rather opinionated woman. But having opinions about non-personal issues and ideas is pretty straight forward for me.
What I find hard is knowing my own mind, hearing myself think above the racket of comparing myself with others. I really struggle at times to remember what I used to think or feel, especially after being around someone who as a very appealing or strong approch to life.

An example of this is the process we just went through in buying our new car. We wanted lots of input cause we are just not car people. So we asked lots of people, some expert and some not so expert and pooled their advice. Overall there was not a lot of agreement. They were all just their opinions based on their own experience or priorities and in the end we had to make the decision ourselves and carry the risk of that. It was amazing to realise that apart from the obvious, common sense views, everyone makes their own decisions and what one person does can be very different from the next person.

Even deeper than that is knowing your own thoughts. I know it may sound a bit like I am losing it, but when I am around people who seem to have it all sorted I latch onto the decisions they have made and find it hard to remember I am not them. And that I might need to walk a different path. I like the security that a tried and tested way of being offers. Stepping out and making my own way is really scary. The apparent certainty of others is very attractive when I feel so unsure.

I am a details person so even the tiny details of someone elses life seems to affect me. How they organise their day, what food they eat, what pen they use...
When I write it like that it seems pretty pathetic to be influenced so easily!

I think for me the scariest thing I have realised recently is that by not having good boundaries between my mind and other people, I also sabotage my relationship with God. That is a relationship where no-one else is there to copy or filter myself through. So there is this sense of being very vulnerable and also it has highlighted how out of touch with myself I can be. I trully believe I will only know myself really, through relationship with Jesus. But it is scary to be alone before God, with no answers and no excuses. But what freedom I can glimpse in that. I hope one day it will not just be a glimpse...

Sunday, 6 May 2007

I am a teacher so you would think I would love learning, not so much today though.

I have begun a distance course in tutoring kids with Learning Difficulties. It is through an organisation called SPELD. There is a link to their website in the Links I Like. I am excited about learning something new and something which will be so useful for me in my job. But I am having a little trouble getting my assignment done. I have one per month as well as the theory I need to learn. It has been a long time since I have done any study and I am lacking the discipline required. Even planning how to go about completing the assignment has thrown me for a loop.

When I think back about being at Uni it seems like it was just coffees with friends and maybe a few essays but now I am remembering how hard it was. I have new respect for my husband and the work that went into him completing his thesis.

I am excited about all I will learn through the course, I just have to get over the mental block about actually getting the work done. So this week I think there will be a few late nights. Oh well, I can't escape the consquences of my procrastination and hopefully by next month I will have myself into a good routine for completing the next one. Somehow I think this may be quite character building, not sure if I really want my character built but it is a bit late now!

Saturday, 5 May 2007

I think I am one of the most impatient people in the world! I am not exagerating. Once I can see that something might happen I just cannot wait for it.

For example today. We went car shopping. My husband reminded me frequently throughout the day that we probably wouldn't buy a car. But it didn't quite sink in. We went to the auctions and decided not to buy anything. We went to a heap of dealerships and decided not to buy. All the while I am congratulating myself on my wisdom and patience and how clinical and business like I am being about the whole thing. But then the wheels came off, so to speak.

We saw two cars which were exactly what we wanted, except for the price. They were double what we were prepared to pay. But the salesman thought we should still put in an offer. So we had a good look at it and went for a test drive. That was my fatal mistake. As we drove I imagined myself driving it and doing my life with this fantastic car. From then on I was a gonna. As we put the offer in it didn't even occur to me that it wouldn't be accepted, despite the mathmatical improbability of it all. So when they came back and asked if we could pay more I was so disappointed when my husband wisely stuck to the price we had agreed.

Since then I have been in the throws of irrational, impulse buying impatience. I have been trying all the possible combinations we have to be able to afford that car. The car is good, but it is more about having it, having the "problem of the car" sorted. I am someone who likes things to be secure and sorted and I find having uncertainty in my life really scary. To the point where I will make very silly decisions just so I know what is happening.

There have been a few things in my life recently which require patience and though I would like to believe I am getting more patient and trusting God to act in his time, I really want to fast forward.

Hmmm I have a funny feeling that no matter how fast life goes it will never be quite as fast as my planning nature requires and in the process I don't enjoy anything much at all. Instead of being excited about the journey of buying a car today, I just wanted to get it done. I just hope I don't have to buy a car very often in my life! It is not good for me!

And still we do not have a new car.

Friday, 4 May 2007

I just read an interesting article about mental health at different stages of life. I have been wondering a bit about my mental health!
One of the points they make is that the 20s are a really hard decade to live through. You are working out how you want your life to be and deciding whether the values you thought you would live by when you grew up, are the values you still want to uphold. I think it is also a decade of navel gazing because you don't have anyone much who is dependent on you so there is plenty of time for thinking about your identity and your life.
This can be a blessing and a curse.

I am finding it scary to now reach an age where I am living out the adult life I used to day dream about, and it is not exactly how I planned it. I know that my teenage and even early 20s ideas of what being this age would be like were pretty unrealistic, but realising that the world is not quite my oyster has been a bit of a shock.

The other thing which I am noticing is that at Uni I felt as if I was very similar to my friends and that we all wanted similar things for our futures. But now the differences are becoming apparent. Not necessarily in the deep things but in the order we choose to do things in life or the different priorities we hold. It feels a bit lonely and scary to making some life decisions which are very different to my friends who I am used to think are the same.

But I am also excited. This is when my true identity begins and I get to write my own story, to work out what makes me and my husband different from the other couples we know. I don't mean it to sound as if I think it is a comparison excercise or competition. Just that you have to start going it alone and knowing you are okay with your choices, even if others don't agree or choose differently.

One thing I am pondering is the sneaky suspision that there is more to me that I had thought. That the identity I have built up so far is not the full picture and that my life could go in directions I had not dreamed were possible even 5 years ago. I like that. I like that my life is not a path to follow but something I am discovering along the way.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Best laid plans and all that...
The last few weeks have been a real lesson in dealing with plans not going quite as planned. During the school holidays I got sick, the cat got injured, the car broke down, we had to shorten our holiday, the motel we booked was not what we expected, the car broke down again and now the cat is injured again.
Hmmm, when I list it all like that it is no wonder I feel a little uncertain, as if the rug has been pulled out from under me.
What is suprising about all of this is it has all been random and unforseeable events which we could not have prevented. In a way that is comforting because we couldn't have done anything about them. But that is also scary because we have had to realise again that we have very little control over our own lives and so much of life is at the mercy of things going to plan.

It has been a real test of my ability to let things go and accept what has happened rather than what I had wished for. It has also reminded me that I really am totally dependent on God and that any illusion that I may have that I am the author of my life, is just that, an illusion.

It leaves me wondering whether I should just sit back and let life just happen, since so much of it is out of my control. But that doesn't sit right with me. God gave me a brain to use and made me a bit of a planner so I think I should use those gifts, however, as soon as I think I have power over my own life, that is when things get messed up. It is so much harder to deal with the unpredictability of life when you are living under the false belief that you should be able to predict the future and be ready for it. There is wisdom in being prepared for the unpredictable but the fact is that you don't know what it will be. It is unpredictable.

I am the kind of person who gets scared about life quite easily. I feel worried and insecure. I worry about doing the wrong thing or not hearing God's voice and "missing" the right path. Thought intellectually I know that is not how God works, it still is something I struggle with. But the last few weeks have shown me I can cope with life being its messy self and that sometimes it is quite a relief to realise how helpless I am. It means I can lean on God and throw my hands in the air and say "What now?" without thinking I am supposed to know all the answers. It also reminds me of how awesome God is and helps me to see all the ways he constantly provides for me.

I need to remember that God holds my fragile life together, not me. And I have a feeling that the life he wants to hold together looks quite different from the one I had planned.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

I have had a sad week. My cousin took his own life earlier this week and yesterday I went to the funeral. I was not close to him but he was the kind of guy where just catching up every few years was meaningful and felt like you had just seen each other the other day.

There are so many thoughts which run through your head while waiting to attend someone's funeral.
For me this week I have been thinking a lot about how scared of going to funerals I am.
I am afraid of the outpouring of unpredictable emotion, of seeing people who have been the strong adults in my family, broken by grief. Of hearing about the person who has passed and losing control of my own emotions. But yesterday was actually a relief.

It was a relief to be with people who were all shocked and hurting, who wanted to remember the man who was so special to them. The church was packed to the doors and people were openly grieving. I appreciated a chance to cry with others and not to question whether I was close enough to him for it to be valid. It was good to have an occasion to try to begin to let go.

What amazed me the most was the way his close family were able to care for others and share their grief with others. I really pray that over the next weeks, months and years that we will be there to comfort them. For me the funeral was a closure but for them it is just the beginning of realising what the death of their son, brother, friend will mean.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Oh my goodness I am back!
I thought this blog had been lost in the ether of time. I just stopped posting when I started my new job and never came back.
I guess I felt that my blog was not being read, that I knew of, and it was becoming a bit of a burden rather than a joy.
But randomly I got an email to reactivate it so here I am.

Reading over my posts from over a year ago is pretty weird. I have changed so much in the last year. I don't even know where to begin!

So here is a quick rundown:
  • same school but didn't manage to avoid big responsibility. I am now in charge of learning support and loving it. I think I have found my new passion, even if I feel like I just don't know enough yet. I am managing to actually enjoy my job and not let it rule my life.
  • have moved house and now have a garden and a cat. I love my domestic bliss! It is amazing how your surroundings can affect you.
  • have moved church. We are now at a large evangelical anglican church. I never thought I could enjoy a big church but I love it. It is a relief to not have to be there every week and I love the music. I will have to post more about my changing views on church.
  • double income - we are on it. And it doesn't stretch very far especially when saving for a house!

So that's my life at the moment. Well a snap shot of it.

I think the overall change has been my letting go of having to be critical. I think it really is the culmination of my recovery from doing a BA. Don't get me wrong, I loved doing my degree, but I am so much happier now being more open and less judgmental. It is amazing how when you approach the world with an attitude of grace, you actually experience grace yourself. If anything, that has been the biggest lesson. Being gentle with others and therefore with myself.

Be back soon,

Hopefully not in a year!