Miscellany

The quarter-life dilemma

 

 

So I haven’t blogged here in quite a while. I know it happens, and it really doesn’t matter, but it truly does break my heart when I don’t feel up to spending time here, doing something I really love – writing. And I know I don’t need to explain myself, but actually the thing that has been keeping me from prioritising blogging has been quite a transformative and ongoing experience. So I thought I might share it with you. It’s a long story though, so I’ll split it up into a few posts. Here we go….

Firstly, ever since I was due to return to work from maternity leave almost exactly two years ago now, I have felt that it is time to move on to doing something different job-wise, and I became more and more convinced that where I was just wasn’t right for me anymore. It was repetitive both in the actual tasks and in having to jump the same hurdles and face the same challenges over and over again, and I wasn’t learning anything new. I started actively searching for a new role, writing job applications at night after the kids had gone to bed, and getting interviews here and there. It had been so long since I had gone to a job interview – years – and I felt very rusty and unsure in my ability to answer questions and adequately speak about my experience and sell my attributes.

Just before I returned to work, I had started to ponder, “Is this really what I want to do? Is this really what I want my life to be?” (“this” being both the actual work I was paid to do in my job, and the situation of working 9-5 Mon-Fri) and I came to the grounding realisation that if I stayed in the situation I was in, at the end of my life, I would be filled with regret. I realised that in fact, no matter what job I fell in to, if I stayed working for someone else forever and never attempting to follow my passions or make my own dreams come true, in the end I would feel that I had wasted my life. I still remember exactly where I was standing in my house when I finally understood this. I wasn’t doing anything in particular (probably housework), but the thought stopped me in my tracks. Regret is one of my biggest fears. I knew at that point that I owed it to myself to figure out what it is I really wanted to pursue, deep in my heart, and to try. Even if I didn’t succeed at whatever it was, what mattered was that I try. It mattered for me, it mattered for my husband, it mattered for my children….for all of us, I deserved to be happy.

And so began months of soul searching, asking myself what I love, when I am happiest, what I feel good at, what I would enjoy doing day after day. Should I study? Should I stay in the same field but just move somewhere else? Should I do something completely different? Months turned into a year, which turned into two years…..I had plenty of ideas, probably too many ideas. I wanted to do everything I had thought of. I made lists. I defined pros and cons. I worked out plans for actual steps I could take to see some of those ideas to fruition. And still, I wasn’t sure exactly which path I wanted to venture down.

I won’t bore you here with the exact details of the various options I considered, but I did have changes of mind many times over the course of those two years. I would realise that the option I was currently pondering was too close to what I was already doing, or it wasn’t likely to pay the bills, or it would take a lot of training and when I fully considered it, I decided I wasn’t quite committed enough to the idea to follow through.

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So this was the first phase, my quarter-life dilemma. I’ll follow up in my next post with where I went from here.

In the meantime, have you had your own existential/career/life dilemma? How did you deal with it? I’d love to know.

 

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Miscellany

Soul searching

I started this post as a draft two months ago, and then promptly forgot that the draft existed. It is though a succinct glimpse into my mindset at the time, and so I’m not going to elaborate on it any further, but post it now in its original draft state, as a prelude to some further posts which will come shortly.

 

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Isn’t it interesting, what a quiet and humble teacher Time can be?

I’ve been soul searching for so long now, and I sure have learned a lot of things. I’ve asked myself some very deep questions. What is it that I want to achieve in life? What am I passionate about above all else? What do I want to do? What am I good at? Am I good at anything?

But sometimes the more we look, the harder the answers elude us. I am far from having my answers, so far. In fact, it’s quite possible I could go my whole life not knowing my answers. But, I am learning little pieces along the way. The puzzle gradually starts to resemble something, regardless of whether it actually gets finished or not. Time is a slow teacher.

 

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Miscellany

Fighting the good fight

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I feel like a stranger in my own corner of the internet! I let this little place go for a long time.

Most of this year has felt like a struggle. There have been challenges, so many challenges. And many times, I felt like those challenges were too big to be overcome, like I should just fold and admit defeat. Because I’d been chipping away at them but the hits just kept on coming. It was too big. Life seemed insurmountable.

There were times when I wasn’t sure how we would pay our bills and afford groceries.

There were times when our family felt like it was breaking apart and I didn’t know if it could be saved.

There were times when I cried myself to sleep, or cried quietly alone in the dead of the night.

There were times when I wondered if I would ever get a win.

There was a lot of hard work and a lot of late nights, for seemingly no result.

There were times when I was beat down, my self-confidence taking blow after blow, my soul and sense of value and purpose disintegrating at the hands of others.

There were a lot of dreams, with no path that I could find to bring them to fruition.

There was yelling.

There was rejection.

And for the first time in years, the shady black dog of depression reappeared, much to my surprise and dismay.

I mourned my missing creative spirit. I KNEW what I wanted to do, and what I needed to do, to feed my soul and feel the wonder of the world again. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t summon the energy or the motivation. And so this place was abandoned along with my knitting, and my yoga, and my other writing projects, and other crafty adventures.

About three months ago, we had some amazing luck. My husband was offered another job out of the blue, and with it came some major positives for our family. More income. More time together. These things combined have lightened the burdens on our shoulders and given us some breathing room and opportunities to do things we couldn’t before. It’s made all the difference.

So lately, I have been starting to fight back against the anxiety and disorder. Each day, I’m trying to take small steps towards what I want to manifest. I understand now that if you want things to happen, you have to seek them out, you can’t trust that they will just land in your lap. And so, my plans are formulating in my head, and I’m doing little pieces here and there to make it all come true. It is taking time, but I’m starting to feel productive and creative again.

So here I am again. I can’t say if I’ll be back again tomorrow, or in a week, or a fortnight. Who knows. And I know I don’t need to make excuses or apologise to anyone, the main person this space is for is me. But sometimes it feels constructive to acknowledge the good fights we fight.

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Miscellany

Mindful Sunday

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Sunday is my favourite day of the week. The week that was is behind us, and if I’ve played my cards right, the necessary weekend housework and socialising has taken place on Saturday. That leaves Sunday for relaxing, reflecting, and looking to the week ahead. Sunday always feels comfortable to me, a day to just be.

I’m looking forward to this week. I feel like all I’ve been doing for months is going to work, going to job interviews, and writing job applications. I’m now enforcing a break on myself and I’m so relieved to have some pressure lifted from my shoulders. This will be a week of taking it slower, revisiting exercise, reading, and catching up on Netflix.

This is also a big week at school for Moose. She’s due to be presented with an art merit award at school assembly on Friday, and I can’t wait to be there with Big R and Little R to cheer her on. And then on Friday night she’ll be going to her first school disco, and I’ll be going to my first school disco as a parent. I’m volunteering purely to spy on the littlies, it’s going to be so cute.

Today I’m going to finish off some odds and ends that I didn’t get to yesterday, and then I might take the kids out for a walk in the sunshine later. The trees are changing, autumn colour is everywhere, and leaves are sprinkled across footpaths and lawns. We’re in long-sleeves and long pants, but there’s no need for scarves and coats just yet.

And that will be it, the weekend complete. Simple, and perfect.

 

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Miscellany

Chasing the feeling

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In 3 days I’ll return to work after 3 weeks of festive leave. It’s been hectic at times, and lazy at others, and rejuvenating in general. But it’s only now, at the end of the 3 weeks, that I’m beginning to feel replenished from this time away from obligation and stress and worry. Just as the benefits show themselves, they’re bound to be obliterated once again. Isn’t it silly, how we toil and toil and toil all year long, with only a handful of weeks granted to us to let it go and focus on us (for the lucky ones, that is). This Instagram post has stuck with me, and while I agree with what he’s saying, it’s easier said than done isn’t it? I’m not rich and I can’t afford the luxury of packing in my day job simply because I don’t agree with the amount of time it necessarily takes up in my life. But wouldn’t that be nice….

So, what’s the next best thing? How can I hold on to this feeling of wellbeing through everyday life? This question has been driving me since I returned to work from maternity leave in May last year, and I’ve discovered a few things in that time:

 

-it’s about noticing and being mindful- noticing how you are feeling, in mind, body and spirit; picking up on how different activities/hobbies/rituals you enjoy really affect you and what it is that they do for you exactly; and knowing what you need at any given time

-it’s about taking a little at a time, whenever you can get it

-it’s about taking that time DAILY

 

Here are some things that help to fill my wellbeing cup and keep me skipping along every day:

yoga

reading

-walks

-sunshine on my skin (I’m not talking about sunbaking here. 10 or so minutes of soaking up that Vit D is all I need)

-fresh outside air in my lungs

knitting

-blogging

journalling

-reading to my children

-being outside with my children- on a walk, picnicking, at the playground or pool, whatever

-burning essential oils or scented candles

-listening to relaxation music or sounds

-listening to/watching ASMR videos

-painting my nails

-treating my skin to some extra attention- exfoliation/cleansing/toning/moisturising

-listening to podcasts

 

I hope you are managing to find your own moments of daily peace and creativity.

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Miscellany

Emerging from the cocoon

I love this time of year. Living in a place like Canberra, you can literally feel and witness the turning of the seasons. About a month ago, I could feel the onset of spring on my skin. The way the breeze wouldn’t chill me through to my bones, but rather just brush against me with enough coolness to raise goosebumps. I couldn’t feel the harshness of the outside air in my lungs anymore, the way it seems to burn during the worst of winter. The air smelled different, more lush and full.

 

20150909_165247 The camellias at our front door are in full bloom – they’re about 3 times as heavy with flowers now as they were when I took this photo a couple of weeks ago!

 

We’ve had a glorious start to spring in this part of the country, weather-wise. I can’t quite believe it, but we’re expecting summer-like temperatures this weekend. I almost don’t know what to do with that, there are so many possibilities and so many things I want to be doing! After the winter that we’ve had, we need to be doing things – outside and together.

I’ve written before about the spell that spring puts over me, and it’s doing it again. I can feel motivation and energy returning. I feel uplifted and hopeful for what the remainder of the year will bring. We have no plans, but plans will be made. I want to spend time with friends, having fun and laughing. I want to go on weekend road trips to visit family interstate. I want to experiment with new knitting patterns. I want to find myself having spontaneous picnics in the sun with my family. I want to walk in the bushland surrounding the city, listening to the sounds of the earth meeting my footsteps. I want to spend time in my garden, kicking a ball with my children, and lazing around on picnic blankets and reading in the sun.

Mostly, I just want to breathe deeply, and laugh, and feel the sun on my skin again.

 

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Miscellany

Tips for dealing with insomnia naturally

I’ve always had issues with sleep, as long as I can remember. My issue hasn’t been getting to sleep in the first place, it’s been staying asleep and getting back to sleep after waking.  It tends to happen to me in bouts. I’ll be sleeping quite well, then all of a sudden a phase of sleeplessness will begin and for a week or two, I’ll wake up each night at crazy a.m. and stay awake for hours. The fact that my husband snores as loud as a jet plane doesn’t assist me in gently drifting back into dreamland. I’m also a worrier, and my mind tends to run away with itself in the middle of the night. Little R still wakes up occasionally during the night too, so all in all, it makes for a very tired Mum.

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When I started back at work two months ago, I experienced one of these phases almost immediately. I guess in a way I expected it, knowing that I would be nervous about going back to work, wondering how my job would have changed, and how I was going to fit it all into an already busy life. Stress and worry are surefire triggers for insomnia.

I wasn’t prepared to just wait for it to fall back into normal rhythms and hope it didn’t take too long, knowing it would inevitably come back before too long. I wanted to do something about it before I ran myself completely into the ground. So I went and spoke to my GP. She talked me through both the natural remedies that could help guide me to sleep and keep me there, and the medicated options. With two young kids, one who still sometimes needs me during the night, I wasn’t prepared to launch straight into medications that might make me too drowsy to function. So instead, I gathered up an arsenal of powerful natural goodies and put a night-time routine into place. Truthfully, I haven’t had a lot of luck using natural remedies before so wasn’t really expecting any miracles. But, I was pleasantly surprised by how well this combo has worked for me. From the very first night of my new routine, I enjoyed some blissful, uninterrupted sleep, and even when I did wake up, I was able to easily slip back into unconsciousness.

If you suffer from insomnia as well, or you just find it hard to initially get to sleep, these are some good options to try out, and they’re all cheap to put into place too.

Yoga

Yoga shouldn’t be intimidating, and it also doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You can do yoga easily in your home, in the comfort of your own daggy clothes, at any time of the day or night. It doesn’t matter if you’re completely new to yoga, no experience is necessary to start enjoying and benefiting from some simple poses. All you need is a flat and relatively comfortable surface (a yoga mat isn’t necessarily required), and some comfortable and loose clothing. It helps if you can practice somewhere warm too. There are a lot of free yoga channels on YouTube, which are perfect for trying out yoga for the first time, expanding on an existing practice, and winding down with some gentle poses at the end of a long day. My preferred channel is Yoga with Adriene, she has so many different videos to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate, and varying in length too. There’s a great Bedtime Sequence that’s just perfect for night-time. This is how I like to start my night-time ritual.

Meditation/relaxation

Sometimes if I feel like being really still, I might choose some meditation or relaxation instead of yoga. I personally find it quite easy to switch my thoughts off and focus when in a meditative situation, but that has only come with practice. The more you try, the more you understand the importance of the breath, and the more you can get out of your head and tune into your body. Again, there are plenty of channels on YouTube that you can check out, or you could have a look at Smiling Mind. This is a great website for those new to relaxation, and just want to give it a try with some brief meditations. You work your way through a program which also incorporates mindfulness, and there’s an app you can download too.

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Chamomile tea

Don’t underestimate the power of chamomile. It’s so calming and subtle, a lovely drink to wind down with. I prefer to have it as a mixed tea with other flavours, rather than straight on its own. I bought a gorgeous blend from T2 called “Sweet Dreams“, which contains chamomile, lavender, apple and rose, among other yummy things. After a gentle yoga workout or a peaceful meditation, drinking this tea is just heavenly.

Lavender spray

I like to spray our bedsheets with lavender spray after they’re washed, and I have a sweet little lavender pillow spray that I use too. It’s such a soothing scent, great for the bedroom thanks to its calming properties. You can also use lavender oil in a diffuser or oil burner to let the smell permeate your whole home, or add a few drops of the oil to your laundry powder before you wash your bedsheets.

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Valerian

Last but certainly not least, I take some valerian just before I slip into bed. I find this helps me to start feeling deliciously drowsy shortly after, but not so much that I wouldn’t be able to wake up if one of my kids called out in the middle of the night. After speaking with my chemist about valerian, I learned that it’s non-addictive, it will make you feel drowsy but won’t knock you out, and you can also start and stop using it as needed – it doesn’t take time to build up maximum effect, and there’s also no side effects if you suddenly stop taking it. Of course, you should always source your own medical advice from your GP or pharmacist before taking any type of supplement or medication, herbal or non-herbal.

Wishing you many a long and undisturbed night’s sleep!

Do you also suffer from sleep issues? Would you add any other tips to this list?

I’ve got a sweet little Facebook page, and would love you to connect with me there!

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