my ‘first home’

About a year ago I asked myself what it might take to be a first home buyer – and buy a beautiful and affordable home for my family. I now know the answer. It takes a lot.

It takes dedication. Hours of driving and viewing houses that we had no intention of buying, months before we were even ready to buy to get a feel for different areas, and for value. Watching prices go up and seeing the difference between what people asked and what they received (often a big difference!)

It takes persistence. Dealing with a bunch of people all with their own agendas: agents, bank managers, solicitors, and then with the bank itself! Plowing through paperwork, providing what they ask for, asking questions and more questions because everyone speaks a different language, and even though the words sound familiar they have a different meaning. Forms!

It takes communication skills. I have used all the nonviolent communication tools, all the Landmark Education tools, all the conflict resolution skills I have. I have never been so stressed, wired, anxious, high, excited, fearful and probably all the other emotions as well in my whole life. Trying to reconcile our needs/wants and budget. Following up with the bank when they missed a deadline – and not making a mess of the fabulous manager who sorted it out for us. Fending off agents trying to sell us things that were nothing like what we wanted. Keeping it together for the kids who were plowing through their own studies and needing some sense of home right now.

And finally, it took a community. My husband dealt with the solicitor when I had to go to work (that stuff is usually firmly in my domain!) My daughters cooked and cleaned and no doubt they all did stuff I have not even noticed. My extended family were great too, I got plenty of empathy and sympathy too 🙂 My workmates were fabulous as well – so caring and understanding, especially in the past month as a heap of dramas unfolded.

It takes a lot!

And here she is. A little Queenslander cottage in very tall boots! We move next week.

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things that are sustaining me right now while my Granny is fading and my secondment is is not as fun as i expected

subtitle: reminder to self to keep doing these things 🙂

yoga – Melissa West’s current series is on working with the inner critic

actively engaging with nonviolent communication, reading, doing exercises, writing in my nonviolent communication blog and just feeling my feelings as they occur

allowing myself to really enjoy and appreciate my relationships with my partner and children and to express that to others even when it feels awkward

being creative when and as I feel like it, enjoying having a number of crochet and sewing things on the go and attending to each whenever I feel like it

getting outside for a stroll around the block, or moving my craft stuff into the sunshine and working there

keeping things in order at work with weekly and daily to do lists and if stuff does not get done bumping it to tomorrow and going home on time and not thinking about it even if everyone else works a bit over

feeding the chooks and spending a little time with them

what i get up to when i’m not on facebook

I totally quit my facebook habit in December, and in February reopened it but only check in about once a month. Yes, its inconvenient and I am missing my friend John’s wildlife photos and at least one invitation to something fun, but my everyday life has become so much better… In the morning, I chat to my kids (if they are up), I walk to the train a couple of times a week, and I feel so great not being so exposed to all the sadnessed and badnesses of the world. I get up in the morning happy.

I am also well on the way to fulfilling my dream of sewing my own wardrobe with sustainable/ethically produced fabrics (I only exploit myself and my sister who ‘leant’ me her machine – thanks Cat 🙂 )

Here is my latest dress (and my first selfie). The dresses I will continue with, but maybe not the selfies – I think I sprained a finger… 🙂

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Anticipation – going roller skating tonight

It’s a week night but I am going out after dark! To the skate rink for adults-only skating – Woot!

In a minute I will pop on a pair of stripy socks, grab my skates and dash out the door. At the rink, I will see my friend Emily who encouraged me to give roller derby a try a few years ago. That was fun (and totally worth the final exit price of one busted-but-mostly-recovered-knee). But tonight Emily and I will skate round and practice our backwards crossovers out of the view of the teenaged hockey boys and fall on our bums for sure and have a good laugh. Then we will get up and do it again 🙂

Ah – I can’t wait!

I love Dr Melissa West, yoga teacher

Melissa West is a yoga teacher. I have never met her, but she has hundreds of beautiful yoga videos available on youtube. For free. Her yoga is for real people with real bodies so people like me with a blown knee can do it. And people like me who aren’t skinny all over and smooth bodied and smooth faced can do it too. And if you are a person like me and you do Melissa’s yoga, you will soon know again that your lumps and bumps and squishynesses are perfect and beautiful and as deserving of a nice swimsuit as anyone else’s.

But really Melissa’s yoga is about real life too. Yoga for courage to apply for the job and attend the job interview. Or to ask for help, to acknowledge a mistake. Yoga for grieving – to say goodbye, to feel it, really feel it, and let it be for a bit, or even let it go. Yoga for going inwards and remaining strong when the world shouts that you are too old, too wrinkly, too fat, and not enough of this and this and that. And yoga for having a go, trying your hardest and collapsing in a heap, a giggling heap, laughing your head off as you realise that some big drama in your life is not such a big bloody deal after all. That was my favourite yoga moment.

Or maybe my favourite yoga moment was when I did a twist and grasped my wonky knee and encouraged by Melissa’s philosophy was gentle with it and placed it just so and felt a real rush of love and admiration for my bony old knee and all we have been through together and gave it a little pat – there there old girl. That was nice too.

But maybe the best bit is that it is those moments that keep me coming back – not weight loss, age reversal or the general yogarobics crap. Just me, loving me and loving the body I’m in.

Thank you Melissa West

I love my job

Things are hotting up at work. Semester starts in two weeks and new students are visiting every day to check us out, to collect their writing guides, id cards, to get directions to all over the place (because librarians know everything), to get advice and referrals, or just for a chat with someone friendly.

I love it. I am being paid to be a ‘know-all.’ I am being paid to chat. I am also being paid to teach people who want to know about what I want to teach them, and hang around to say thank you that has made a difference after the lesson.

Sometimes I do wonder whether the risk to take a redundancy from my safe, financially well-rewarded previous position (and my very own door with my name written on it) and start again, at the bottom, in a new field was worth it. Was it worth two years of struggling on low/casual/part-time wages and a two hour and a half commute (each way) for the first 10 months?

Pinch me – it was! 🙂

Jo Spark

You took me under your wing a bit at boarding school. Took me out to stay with your Mum at Gatton on weekends and we played tennis at the university, reassembled Nolan’s Trial jigsaw puzzle and tried for hours and hours to ride your Mum’s Penny Farthings. Laughs! And remember your stepdad teaching us to change a tyre by putting your car up on blocks and taking the wheels off? The first, second, third, fourth (and last) tyre I ever ‘changed!’ Ah.

At uni you introduced me to Akiko. So that the two of us odd balls could keep ourselves occupied while you studied. It was a perfect match. You were a very good and kind girl, Jo. A sensible girl. But I do have a vague memory involving Teacher’s Whiskey… and another time you came with me on a Straddie camping trip. And befriended a couple of 15 year old boys – nice boys who sat on the cliffs with us one evening and apologised for their dad’s pervy nocs and asked you whether girls liked boys who didn’t drink. You said something kind and wise for sure.

Then you went to London and I moved up and down the East Coast. After a few years, you came back and visited me at Newcastle and I was embarrassed about my life of babies and welfare so it was awkward. But I remember first that you were calm and kind as always, and second that you were having the age old difficulty transitioning from a London to a Brisbane life.

When I heard you were so very ill I was so scared, I was paralysed. Cathie gave me your number. Dave made me call even though I didn’t know what to say. But you were perfect Jo. You were calm and kind, sitting with your feet in the bath, splashing your baby girl, breathless but with such love in your voice for your kids, your partner, your brother, your stepmother, your friends, your past, and hopeful for the future. I didn’t have to say anything but tell you I love you and wish you well. Jo, I hope you had at least one friend to share the crap with too. No, I know that you did.

After that conversation I prayed hard to all the gods I don’t believe in that I could give you a year of my life. A good strong vibrant healthy year. Not because I am a good person but because you deserved at least that. And though I hadn’t seen you for years, I could – and still do – trace the impact of your kindnesses, your infinite patience on my life in all directions.

A Christmas and a half later I got another call from Cathie – operation, complication, didn’t wake up, funeral. And such deep deep sorrow.

Jo, in your presence my words stopped jamming up then running together and tripping over themselves and coming out stupid, though when they did you still listened so carefully. In your presence, I was first able to slow down and just breathe.

Thank you Jo.

some of my favourite things

loki, scrying stick shells and stone from Port Macquarie
loki, scrying stick shells and stone from Port Macquarie

Loki was a crow and also my friend. She had a sense of humour – she would swoop the chooks to give them a fright, and hang around the BBQ to pinch stuff when my back was turned. I once tricked her by leaving a closed but empty egg carton on the BBQ table… she took it to her favourite branch and swore at me when she discovered what I had done… She limped home one day, badly injured, maybe by a car. I did try to help her, but she was afraid and upset when I approached, and still able to keep out of my reach – so I left food and water out and let her be. She died a few days later in the neighbours’ paddock. One of my daughters collected her skull for me a few months later.

The scrying stick I found while walking to work. My girls and I were reading Harry Potter at the time. The stick (and the books) provided a little magic in a pretty humdrum part of my life.

Port Macquarie is a classic family holiday place. Cliff rimmed, facing sunrise, plenty of pretty walks to be had… Some of the beaches are pebbly rather than sandy – unusual in Australia… The waves make the most beautiful shushing sound as they wash along these beaches.

gratitude – on writing

Grateful today for all the writing that didn’t make it. Recycled notepads full of scribblings, lists of ideas, of thoughts, of fancies, paper scrunched up and hurled into a dark corner (to become a home for mice – but that’s another story), the half-novel on the lost usb that may be … somewhere?
For me, writing is fishing: a sentence burley cast into an unfathomable murky ocean – every piece that makes it to ‘publish’ preceded by and followed by a dozen or more that sink… then lie as some sort of sediment in the bottom of my mind. Mmmm and hopefully even this is a rich mud that will nurture future seeds…
Loving the messes today.

no ugly

one day I accidentally looked at myself in the mirror, naked.

I thought, what would I call myself if there was no such thing as ugly?
— you are fat and old

OK, no fat and no old. Ha ha!
— gross. Your breasts sag so does your tummy and your chin is hairy

well that may be but there is no gross, no hideous, no misshapen and
no unattractive either.

a searching, groping, a casting about

a small space forms, a gap into which other words now tumble…
— strong, resilient, enduring

And a feeling too:
— peace

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