Monday, May 27, 2013

and so, this self-care thing is hard

After yesterday's post about how I'm not looking after myself (I'm starting to sound like that frozen meals ad, yeah?) I got a lot of supportive comments from my friends, both real life and online. I felt very touched that people were concerned about me.

They all said pretty much the same thing. I have to take better care of myself or I'm not going to be any good to anyone.

I know in my heart of hearts that this is true. Or at least Me-two does. Me-first (or perhaps that part of me should be called Everyone-else-first) is somewhat reluctant to accept it, and thinks that I need to keep going until the job is done, without any let up. And then keep going some more.

It's going to be difficult to overcome Me-first's drive and determination, especially when she is in the 'zone'. But I need to find a better balance and I need to give Me-two what she needs as well.

Today I didn't do very well at this.

But tomorrow is another day and I will try again. Some things I need to really pay attention to first are to have a proper lunch break and regular breaks during the day, to drink more water and less beer, and to get a massage.

One thing I'm quite proud of is that I haven't resorted to stress eating or going back to cakes and sweet things. That's an area I think I've made a lot of progress in.

So if I can do that, there's no reason why I can't take other steps as well. And one step at a time I will get to where I want to be.

And thank you everyone who sent me supportive messages. I appreciate you taking the time for me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

the conflict within

The last few weeks I've felt like I'm two different people.

I'm very busy at work and the end date is rapidly approaching. Things need to be done yesterday and somehow, the two elements of the project that I'm responsible for have both ended up needing to be finalised at pretty much the same time.

I'm struggling, because it's been very much: do this, send it back, next thing comes in while I'm doing the first thing, do the second thing, send that back, in the mean time the third thing has come in, then the first thing has come back and needs revision . . . and it doesn't seem to stop.

Me-first is driven and determined to get this all done, and done right, and won't stop until everything is perfect. My part-time hours mean I haven't been there at some critical times, which means delays that I can't really afford. The days I'm supposed to leave at 2.30 to pick up Juniordwarf from school have been the hardest. Just because I've left doesn't mean the work doesn't keep coming in. So I've been taking work home to make up those hours.

Taking work home is something I said I'd never do, but Me-first is taking some kind of delight in working so hard and getting things finished. It must be the adrenaline rush or something, because Me-first has really been getting into the zone at these times. Working at home has become such a habit that last Wednesday, the first Wednesday for a few weeks that I didn't need to take anything home, I was wandering round the house feeling completely lost because I didn't have any work to do. 

I know!  That has to be the saddest thing ever, right?

The second me is feeling very very pressured and scared and overwhelmed and like I'm about to hit my breaking point. Me-two hears people tell me to ease up on myself, to relax and to take time for myself. Me-two knows that I need to do this, but Me-first is committed to the task and says that there is no time to stop now, I can rest when this is all over. It won't be too much longer, it really won't, and the pressure will be off.

So this inner dialogue between Me-two and Me-first is going on all the time, making me feel even more anxious. So now, not only am I feeling stressed about the work itself, which is bad enough, but I'm also feeling stressed about the very fact that I’m overdoing it. I think I'm just holding on by the skin of my teeth, so that I can have this break some time in the near future. At which point I will probably collapse.

Me-first decided to make things worse yesterday when Juniordwarf and I were watching a DVD, by telling me I really should be doing something more productive with my time with him rather than watching a DVD or letting him go on the computer. 

Thank you Me-first. That is Not Helpful.

I think part of this stems from the way I think about myself at work - or more accurately, the way I think other people see me at work - that is, that being part-time means I don't really pull my weight. So Me-first is determined to show them that I can contribute just as well as anyone else and not let the side down. Everyone else is under pressure too. Others are working full-time hours, some of them have kids too and they’re all coping. I just waltz on out of there at 3 pm, so what do I have to complain about?

Of course, no one has ever said that they think I’m slacking off because I’m part-time, and the majority of feedback I have received is that my contributions are valued and that being part-time hasn't affected my work performance. Some things might take longer for me to do because I'm not there all day, but this is generally factored into my time frames.

So it's a flawed argument, but it doesn't stop me feeling guilty every time I leave work at school pickup time. 

It would be easy enough for me to lay all the blame for this on work, but that’s unfair. When I took on the extra work, I expected it to be a lot less work than it became. I've been fairly relaxed about waiting for other people’s feedback and contributions – someone told me I was far too nice in this regard – and I don’t like to ask for what I need even if, by failing to do so, I inconvenience myself. I’d rather put myself out than someone else. It takes me quite a while to settle into the flow of a project and get really focused. And I’m a very good procrastinator.

Fingers crossed that the worst of this is now over. There is still more work to be done, but I’m quietly confident that the craziness that was the last few weeks has passed. And what I have to do once all this is over is to make an effort to sit down, not in judgement of myself, but in a self-compassionate sort of way, and work out where I went wrong and come up with ways I can learn from this.

I also need to take some time off. I think a week away somewhere in the mountains with no phone, no internet, a stack of books, pens and paper and some yoga DVDs would be just what I need right now.

Me-two is nodding furiously.

Friday, May 24, 2013

ffs friday

I’m new to this FFS Friday thing, so bear with me as I learn to rant on the internet. 

FFS Friday is all about what has pissed you off in the last seven days. My lovely friend Mrs Smyth has encouraged me to participate and link up with DearBaby G.

So here we go ...

Work has been flat out crazy busy to meet a very inflexible deadline. This is proving to be very difficult to manage with my part-time hours and I’ve been doing something I said I’d never do – taking work home. More than once. … FFS

Driving home from work, Juniordwarf and I both fell asleep in the car (obviously neither of us were doing the actual driving). Try as I might, I couldn’t entice an extremely sleepy little boy to get out of the car when we got home, so I went inside, assuming he’d follow. A couple of minutes later, Slabs went out to find out why Juniordwarf hadn’t come inside. Had he fallen asleep again? Why no, I’d forgotten to open his door. … FFS

On Sunday night I noticed one of my ear pirecings was sore and a bit lumpy. This didn't exactly excite me as last time something like this happened, it got infected, requiring a trip to the GP, a scalpel, a local anaesthetic that didn't have any effect, hence an agonising cut to the area that hurt more than the actual piercing, followed by walking round for a few days with a bandage on my ear looking like I'd been attacked by a dog. I do not want this to happen again. This is a 20+ year old piercing. How can that get infected? ... FFS

I almost went into a major meltdown at work when I thought that the week after next was actually next week and that I’d run out of time to get everything done and that the world was going to end and and and ....... Thankfully someone pointed out this minor miscalculation before I completely lost the plot. This is why I need a calendar. … FFS

Juniordwarf: You were in my dream last night.
Me (isn't that sweet?): Oh, was I? What was I doing?
Juniordwarf: You were spewing. … FFS

I bought a TV that is eventually going to be the monitor for my future new computer. I figured I might as well set it up to work as a TV as well (because Eurovision) in my study, which is downstairs and primarily lined in Besser blocks. I've been referring to it as "The Bunker". In order to get the ABC, I needed to get a rabbit ears antenna, connect it to the antenna booster and set it up as close to the window as possible, balancing it delicately on top of my scrapbooking stamps, which required the use of three antenna extension cords. I now have ABC. And a whole lot more cords … FFS

Thursday, May 23, 2013

yoga boy

I bought the yoga DVD so I could keep up with a structured routine after my teacher left.

Someone else decided that they would like to do yoga as well. He's started getting up early to do the routine with me and he knows a lot of it off by heart.

Now he's now created his own "DVD" and his Hairy McLary toy, in the background, "helps" him do the poses, just like the instructors do in the DVD.

Monday, May 20, 2013

they might be giants

I’m fortunate enough to have seen three of my all-time top-five musical artists live. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen Paul Kelly live – the most recent was in 2011 for one of his A to Z shows. I saw REM in Sydney in 2005 on their Around the Sun tour.

And I saw They Might Be Giants in Canberra in 1997. 

Yeah I've held on to this for 16 years

I’ve been a fan of They Might Be Giants since my friend Liz introduced me to their 1990 album Flood. The TMBG recordings, while not at fan-girl completist levels (largely because I’m missing a lot of their podcasts), make up one of the largest collections in my CD library.

Since 1997 I think they have been back to Australia only once, in 2001. When I heard earlier this year that not only were they going to tour Australia, but there was a possibility Tasmania might be getting a concert, I was pretty excited.

The initial tour dates were announced . . . and Hobart wasn’t included. I wasn’t altogether surprised, because we often miss out on acts coming here. But as time went on, more dates were added to the tour and (to screams of excitement from me and some Twitter friends) a show in Hobart.

Tickets were promptly purchased, and then the long period of anticipation before the show began. Perhaps what made this more fun than most loooong waits, was the ability to follow TMBG on Twitter, tell them how excited we were that they were coming, and hear about the tour preparations and, closer to the date, how the other shows on the tour had gone.  

That’s when it started to get really exciting: hearing about the set lists from other shows and wondering which songs we’d get to hear.

To get ready for the show, I devoted my entire radio program the week before to TMBG and played some of my favourite tracks dating back to their first releases in 1986. 

I asked John F on Twitter what is one thing TMBG would like me to say to my listeners, and he replied, “Melody is where we’re at!” And indeed it is – one of the band’s slogans is “Installing and Servicing Melody Since 1982”.

And finally, after weeks of anticipation, They Might Be Giants Day was here!

The show was at the Wrest Point Show Room, which is a venue I’d never been to before. By the time we got there, the centre of the room was pretty full, front to back, so we found ourselves a place off to the side of the stage, almost but not quite behind the speakers, but close to the front. The best thing about that spot was being able to see some of the behind the scenes activity and also the fact that no one else really wanted to stand there, so we had a fair bit of space to dance in. (Yes, I actually danced. In public.)

So what about the show?

Dodgy iPhone photo

Well, my first reaction was that it was amazing. I was so pumped. It was the most fun I’ve had in, like, forever. Really. The set list was a great mix of old and new songs, and I knew them all. 

There were a couple of songs that stood out for me as highlights because I especially wanted to hear them played live, and TMBG did not disappoint.

Best shot I managed to get from our vantage point

Firstly, Fingertips, the composite song made up of 21 individual tracks from the album Apollo 18. I noticed it had cropped up in some of the earlier shows, so I was really hoping we’d get to hear it too. (It’s the perfect song to use to introduce Juniordwarf to TMBG and he’s become quite attached to it.)

An unexpected, but very much appreciated treat, was the instrumental version of The Famous Polka (I deliberately didn’t examine the previous set lists too closely so that there would still be an element of surprise for me). Highly energetic and infectiously so. 

And a song that I’ve only recently got to know well, The Mesopotamians, which is just so cute. Can a song be cute? Surely. Well I think I have a little crush on Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal and Gilgamesh now.

Flans in action

The band really rocked the whole show. What a fantastic evening!

The full set list (100% accuracy not guaranteed due to a mild case of over-excitement):
When Will You Die
Don’t Let’s Start
Memo To Human Resources
Call You Mom
Circular Karate Chop
Birdhouse In Your Soul
Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Dr Worm (featuring John L on the accordian)
The Famous Polka
Cloisonn̩ (the song that features the bass clarinet РJohn F told the story on a radio interview of how previously they had toured with a bass sax, which in hindsight had been a bit big to be transporting all over the place for only one song, so this time they were bringing the bass clarinet. It sat there all evening just begging to be played.)

The bass clarinet has its moment in the sun
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Eye Of The Tiger (instrumental)
He’s Loco (performed by the John and John Avatars of They on screen while the band had a short break)
Lost My Mind
Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head
New York City
Ana Ng
You’re On Fire
Damn Good Times

Encore 1:
Clap Your Hands
The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)
Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas)

Encore 2:
The Mesopotamians

I liked the book-ending of the show with songs referencing death. I also thought it was neat that they played The Guitar, with its spaceship references, on the day that the crew from the International Space Station Mission 35 returned to Earth, though possibly that was just good timing rather than a deliberate inclusion, as the song cropped up on other shows during the tour.

(Speaking of space missions, I also found out, while I was researching my radio program, that NASA had asked TMBG to be Musical Ambassadors for International Space Year in 1992. Cool.) 

So – this ranks right up there as one of the most fun nights of my life. Thank you John and John for including us in your tour and for putting on such a memorable show. Please come back soon!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

sunday selections: hunting the fagus

Today’s post is a Sunday Selections post for River, which I haven't participated in for ages.
One thing that wasn’t on my 100 things to do in 2013 list but should have been because it’s something I’d wanted to do for ages, and that is to go and see the fagus in autumn. 
Fagus, for the unaware, is also known as deciduous beech (or if you want to be scientific, Nothofagus gunnii) and is the only winter-deciduous tree in Australia. The only place it grows is Tasmania, mostly in remote highlands areas above 800 metres.

Every year around this time I see spectacular pictures that people have taken of the turning of the fagus, as the leaves go through the autumnal colour change. And every time I think I should go up and have a look, and it never seems to be the right time, and I miss out, thinking I’ll do it the next year. And by the time spring and summer have hit, I’ve forgotten all about it (which is why it wasn’t on the list).

This year it was different. I started seeing posts about people’s trips to Mt Field a couple of weeks ago, when the colours started changing and decided that this was the year I was going to go. 

So we blocked out the day and headed off to Mt Field. We had a vague idea of where to start looking and thought that bright yellow and orange leaves should stand out pretty well – which indeed they did.

Our first stop was at the boulder field, where there is a short walk amongst the rocks, and a few fagus trees growing nearby. These had only just started to turn yellow, so we hoped we hadn’t come too early. 

Oh yes, there was also snow. It’s pretty cold up there at the moment.

We drove a bit further up to Lake Fenton, which is in Hobart’s drinking water catchment. There’s some spectacular trees around the lake, including the beautiful snow gums that we saw last time we were there

There’s also fagus! The trees here were more advanced in colour than the ones lower down and we weren’t the only people taking photos. The main problem I had was trying to take photos of some delicate little leaves that were constantly moving in the wind. Not an easy task. But I got a couple of photos I was happy with, so it was worth the trip.

 Apparently there is another area in the park where the fagus grows; this is the Tarn Shelf, which is higher up in the park and involves a two-three hour walk. Not really an option with Juniordwarf in tow (based on previous experience of longer walks), but perhaps that can go on next year's 100 things list.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

the year is 1/3 over

It's the end of April. Well actually we're almost a week into May, but I've been so frantically busy at work I hadn't noticed. So it's still the end of April as far as I'm concerned.

This means it's time for my end of month review of my 100 things to do in 2013

I think I missed the March update, so that means there should be heaps I've done since the last update, right?

Not necessarily, but still, I've made some progress and I'm happy.

1. Improve my eating habits to make at least 90% of my diet free of processed food

I think I'm getting there. Cutting out food (or "edible foodlike substances") with added sugar has eliminated much of the processed food. I still have a long way to go though.

2. Reach my target weight (lose about the same again as I lost in 2012)

I'm getting closer. The best sign is that I can now fit into the post-huge-weight-loss-before-I-got-pregnant-and-stacked-it-all-back-on-again jeans and have discarded a lot of clothes that have started to hang off me. I'm far from being my ideal size, but I'm no longer 20 kg overweight.

11. Finish the DVD from our 2011 holiday for Juniordwarf

If my computer hadn't decided to spit the dummy and make every attempt to edit a movie into the most agonisingly painfully slow process, I would have done this by now. I need to fix up a couple of minor glitches, but apart from that it's done. 

19. Blog at least three times a week

Um, no.

23. Get back into yoga

This is happening most mornings. And Juniordwarf is joining me.

26. Buy decent walking shoes


27. Go to a National Park I've never been to

We went to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park on our way to the West Coast. If you want to be really pedantic, I have been there before. We stopped off at the picnic area for a short break on our holiday about 10 years ago.  But we didn't actually look around or anything, so in my mind (and it's my blog, so my rules) that doesn't count. So this trip was the first time I've actually been there.

53. Get a notice board for the kitchen

I ordered it last week.

56. Order the new blind for the dining room

We decided we didn't need this. 

62. Go to MONA


76. Change my hair colour

I went darker for a while. It looked shit and made me look washed out. I'm glad it was semi-permanent and has gone now.

85. Avoid footy tipping 

I'm not in any tipping competition, and Fridays are a lot less stressful now.

96. Keep better track of my spending & the household budget 

I have a spreadsheet. I use it regularly. It is quite a thing to behold.

98. Stop using the couch as storage 

I'm getting better at this. 

So things are slowly happening. It's nice to be able to cross things off the list.