mental health day

I am at home today, having what could politely be called a mental heath day. There have been some issues at work and yesterday at a staff meeting it all came out. Under performance was discussed and although I have been assured that they were not referring to me, I have recently had feedback that although I do a good job, I am too slow. Funny thing is, I think everyone in the room thought that it could be about them. Not nice. I thought I was handling it all Ok and the afternoon at work was more or less fine but when I got home, I burst into tears. Later Grace told me about some boys at school who hit her and she says she told the teacher and action was taken. But still, it's not the sort of news you want to hear. And all this is happening against the  backdrop of sad news from around the world, the Christchurch earthquake and the terrible events in Libya. Day before yesterday as I watched news from Christchurch unfold, I felt so sad for that city, for friends with loved ones there, for friends who watched the house they were going to stay in be crushed by rocks. Awful horrible stuff.

flowers in the kitchen

So I feel in the context of all that is going on in the world that my dramas are somewhat petty. That I should be able to just get up and get on with it. But life doesn't always work like that and last night I couldn't sleep for the thoughts racing through my head, for the feelings of panic and anxiety that caused physical pain in my chest. In the end I did sleep a bit but I was awake before the alarm and when it came on with the news, I just burst into tears. Then I was thinking about going to work and initially thought, yes I should be able to tough it out, I will feel better if I just get on with it. This is my default position and usually I stick to it. But my thoughts kept racing, slippery and hard to grasp and place in coherent order. More tears. Then an image of a great big red and white stop sign popped into my head and I realised that I must have left it there before, some other time when I planned how I might act if this happened again. So I decided that I really wasn't in a fit state to go to work. I arose and went in to Grace. She asked me why I had been crying and I had to tell her that I wasn't feeling well and she asked if a cuddle would help. She patted my back and it felt all kinds of strange to be falling apart and be comforted by a five year old. Then we all got up and got on with it. I called work and I told them why I wasn't coming into work. I wish I could have told white lies and preserved my dignity. But I didn't, I said that I had had a major panic attack, had hardly slept and was concerned that I was heading for a manic episode and that no, I'm not OK and that yes, it is work related. I cried. As it happens,  I have my monthly shrink appointment tomorrow. And after that I have agreed to talk with someone at work about how I am going. Shit, fuckitty, bum bum.

Truth is though, it isn't all work related. I have had some physical symptoms of anxiety over the last couple of months and I guess I have been hoping that all will be OK. Often it is. Maybe it will be this time. Or maybe I'm heading into the hall of mirrors again. Today I am so tired and so racy that I don't really know where I am. But I have managed to do a couple of loads of washing and get dressed. And I might clean the girl's room. Cleaning is a good use of manic energy, and at least you end up with a cleaner house. Crap. Crap. Crap. I am really far too busy for all this.

that's me in the corner*

The other day at breakfast Grace turned to me and said, you know mum, so and so is my friend and I really like her, but I don't like it when she is bossy. I am so proud of her that I could burst. That my almost six year old can separate out how she feels about another kid in general and some other stuff that has been pretty hard for her at times.** She is so tall, this girl of mine, as tall as many seven year olds, but she is the youngest kid in her class. And sometimes I think people expect her to act as though she is seven, not nearly six. Even me. I've had to pull myself up on that very thing over the holidays.

emily's sunflowers

Weekend before last, some stuff went down around here. Not something that we were directly involved in but somehow I was drawn into the fray. Uncomfortably so. When I reflected on it later, I was surprised at the depth of my feelings, some of them quite angry and judgmental. I think I pretended (with a resulting biliary colic attack), that it was all OK but in the end I was quite cross with myself. Conflict is inevitable but I need to learn how to remain calm, to be graceful and not allow myself to be drawn into behavior that doesn't improve the situation. It has all been sorted but as I think of this event and those with others in the past, I am convinced more than ever, that in any conflict there is much to be gained from allowing ourselves, no, compelling ourselves to look beyond the black and white. To look beyond ourselves. If, as adults, we allow ourselves to slip into a psychodrama where one person or party is totally right and one totally wrong, then we ignore the complexity of the situation. We miss the shades of grey, we miss nuance. Each of us is probably a little bit right and a little bit wrong. And caught up in our own histories and feelings, so we might miss what might have caused the situation to build in the first place.  Conflict is inevitably difficult, it's not something that people are good at. Myself included. Luckily in this instance (unlike some in the past) there has been enough goodwill all around, the bubble has popped and we are all moving on. A little cautiously maybe, but with relationships preserved. And we will probably do better next time. Because, despite the initial discomfort, resolving conflict is worth the effort it takes. And sets a good example for the children.

cold summer night

So I can't say that the school year has gotten off to a truly great start. Grace has been happy to go back to school and apart from catching a mystery bug at the end of last week, seems to have been enjoying herself. However after the excitement of the prep year, the realities of life in a small underfunded (aren't they all) state school are setting in again. There's a lot to love about our school, but in my mind there is just so much to do that it seems overwhelming. I worry that there aren't enough girls at the school. Last year the numbers of boys and girls in prep started out more or less equal but all the new children in her class are boys. It's equal in the prep year below, but in the years above the boys far outnumber the girls.  So now her class is about one third girls. Is there some factor that makes parents think a school not OK for girls? - if you have thoughts on this subject, I am really interested to hear.

The school is in an area that is gentrifying and the school population is diverse. As you would expect in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. I find myself pondering how you have a school community that is truly inclusive and welcoming for everyone. How to make it appealing and let's face it, competitive against the  popular/trendy state schools in the area. Part our school's charm is that is small, but more students would mean more funding and more parents to help. So anyway, I have basically ditched one of my extra curricular web activities this year (with a smidge of guilt but there is a limit to what I can do) and have resolved to become more involved with the school. The only way I can think of not to be anxious about all these things is to be a bigger part of it all.

* I was going to title this post "oh no, I've said too much, I haven't said enough" from the same song. But a  comment by Suse over on the Facebook when I posted this clip just on its own there made me think this might be a better title. I love this clip - look at audience, just awesome. Obviously I have been sitting on this post a while.
** I do wonder if I should be writing about any of these things at all but I don't feel true to the record of our life if I don't. Fixing my archives (I'm still back in 2006) has made me realise how important this blog is to me in this sense.

flowers in the loungeroom

Two new years ago, I resolved to always have flowers in the house. There's something about flowers in a vase that makes a room feel better to me. Indeed, I can ignore a lot of the filth and chaos of family life in a small and still needing work house if there is something pretty or new or interesting to look at.  Most of the time, the flowers or greenery comes from our own garden and I've been planting with a view to this. These cosmos are just starting to flower in the garden. The rain this summer has been good for them, but we've had no success with zinnias this year. And there haven't been many roses from next door either (too much black spot, not enough sun). Other plants I like in a vase are eucalyptus leaves, sheoak leaves, silvery grey conifer branches, red pink and orange geraniums, the leaves and flowers from succulents, artichokes going to seed, fruit tree leaves and/or blossom. There is always something. I try and keep an open mind about the possibilities,

lounge room window with flowers

The shadows on the wall are from the jerusalem artichokes I planted under the window. They will probably be planted somewhere else after we harvest this lot. The flowers from these are lovely too. If a little short lived.

Hmm, can you see that little black box next to the telly. I nearly cropped it out of the photo but honestly it has changed my evenings somewhat and could be why my plans to blog more are not happening yet. It is a telstra t-box, part of the package when we upgraded the amount of internet we have (more usage, lower price - funny how that works). We haven't been shaped for months and that is great. But this little box means we can tape television series and pause shows we want to watch after Grace goes to bed. Current favorites are The Tudors, Big Love, Teachers. And we are watching a few late night movies that we wouldn't have before. I think there are better examples of this sort of thing around than the t-box, but we're enjoying it immensely.

Time to go and pick some more flowers.

thank you

Thank you to everyone who has followed me to my new blog home. I know I moved and then didn't blog for a while. Suddenly after a couple of weeks of writing in "secret", it felt strange to be blogging as normal again. Especially with the state of natural disaster that seems to have overcome our country.

hurry up mum

agapantha

So yes, I became all self conscious. Then I did a name search and um, well, perhaps my new blog name has some unfortunate connotations. Yikes. Oh well. I'll just have to write it as I meant to. About my somewhat boring (in a totally good way) life as a grey haired, northern suburban mother.

tropical low

Yesterday after the excitement of dropping Grace back at school, I spent the day listening to the radio and trying to alter a pair of black linen pants that I made last year. They were too baggy in the leg and not pleasant to walk in. The radio was full of stories from the aftermath of cyclone Yasi up north. So much destruction. It's good that people evacuated and took shelter but it still sounds absolutely terrifying. And now the recovery, so much work.

 Later in the afternoon, I was taken over by what can best be described as an all engulfing lassitude and lay on my bed, in the humidity, thinking my thoughts. About the cyclone and about other stuff that I really can't talk about here. Should have been making nori rolls, should have been getting ready for dinner at the park.

storm clouds

It rained before dinner at the park and then the wind picked up, the sky darkened and you could smell the smell of rain coming. We dashed back to a neighbours house to shelter under their big veranda. At some point, I succumbed to some sweet, sweet wine with a hint of cumquat to cut the sugar. Breathing out. Music and lightening and thunder and raining so much that it was raining inside, according to the kids.

Cyclone Yasi has been downgraded to a tropical low and somewhere over central Australia, it is merging with weather coming from the west. On the national radar viewer it looks like Australia has a swirling heart of white cloud. As a consequence we've had a lot of rain in Victoria. Again. There has been flash flooding and on the BOM site there seems to be a flood warning for almost every waterway in the state, including our local creek. Everything is damp and squelchy but no serious flooding where we live.

Back to my thoughts. It will all be OK, I hope. It's complicated but needs to be dealt with. I really think it will be OK. I walked home in the rain, water running down all the driveways, my umbrella next to useless, barefoot because my thongs were too slippery. Trying to take photos of the street lights in the rain and the dark. To no avail, but it was kind of fun anyway. It was good to get home and play this song. And this one.

holding our breath

Lunch in the tea room again, all eyes glued to the telly. Talk of climate change and even the mildly skeptic agree that it might be better to mend our ways. Just in case they are wrong. A disaster expert says that the more often we face a disaster event, the better prepared we will be next time. It seems a harsh way to learn. Queensland is still recovering from the floods and now this. A cyclone, swirl of storm nearly as big as Queensland. Indeed it seems to dwarf Australia. Look.



Pictures of hospital patients being airlifted out. Of people driving away ahead of the storm. People in low lying areas were urged to evacuate. All day it has been stressed all day that this is a life threatening event and that life is more precious than anything. And now the premier is saying that it is too late to leave. Too late to go outside. Some of the Auslan intrepreters are very vigorous in their translations of these warnings. People who are staying in their homes are being advised to shelter in the smallest room. To be self sufficient. Imagine sheltering in the bathroom or toilet as the power goes out, the phones go down and the winds rip. Emergency workers have been instructed to take shelter. Many people are camping out in shopping centres and halls that are cyclone rated.

There is a log here.

Scary times. Just hoping and praying that people manage to stay safe.