Tag Archives: joy

Keeping it simple

A few posts ago I commented that I was aiming to keep Christmas simple this year. I almost forgot that decision and for a couple of days there was beginning to revert to my usual practice of saying yes to everything and over committing myself. I was imagining piles of homemade gifts for teachers and teaching staff, for friends, neighbours, family, etc. I was thinking I could squeeze in a bit more sewing for other people, to offer to have other people’s children over so that they could have some time to themselves, to be creating Christmas treats by the trayful, and to be putting on the most wonderful Christmas festivities we had ever seen.

Then reality hit, I began to get overwhelmed, and I was forced to remember that this year I can’t do all the things I normally do – and that it won’t matter. So teachers received bought gifts, (with two exceptions that I will come to in a minute), I have made a donation to my charity of choice instead of making/buying gifts for my girlfriends, I have accepted that the kids don’t count their gifts and it won’t matter if one is getting one more than the others as they receive so much anyway, that a pile of fresh stone fruit (including mangoes) is better than plates of fudge, and that instead of sitting at the sewing machine I can sit at the table or on the couch with my chicks and give them the best gift of all – time. I had a practical conversation with the chicks about whether they wanted to participate in the Christmas eve mass or just attend this year (participating involves two rehearsals) and quietly cheered when they all decided to simply attend. I asked their Dad to take the eldest chick to a birthday party being held within a very busy shopping complex so that I didn’t have to navigate the other two through the crowds, and also asked him to take the chicks to see the Christmas lights at a house that has broken a world record for the most number of bulbs, so that I don’t have to try and deal with a crowd and three chicks on my own, and I reminded myself that the only person who expects all of this from me, is me.

The results? During the week I had time to sit with the middle chick and make an origami dress Christmas ornament. (We both agreed that if it was a real dress we would want to wear it!)

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I finished the last of my Christmas orders today with pleasure instead of pressure.

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I had an afternoon of craft with the middle chick and the boy, experimenting with embedding objects in resin to make Christmas ornaments (and will hopefully have results to show you in a day or two!) The eldest chick and the boy and I played Monopoly for over an hour before it got too much for the 7 year old boy.

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(Yes that is his piece sitting on one of my railway stations….about the time he realised that I had become a slum lord and started to go off the game!  Must remember not to be so competitive when playing against someone soooooo much younger than me!)

The situation was saved though when three chicks had a water fight to cool off after the heat of the day and I was in charge of the hose, with instructions that I wasn’t to be a target! (Still can’t believe that I got away with that one!!) In other words – by keeping it simple I have had a wonderful day with my chicks with no anxiety attacks, no yelling, and no crying. (And that was from all four of us!!!)

My body is giving me clear signals when I have pushed too hard, or taken on too much. I can’t pretend for more than a few hours that I will be able to juggle lots of balls as I normally do. It just won’t let me anymore. Initially I was resenting this restriction, and feeling constrained, inadequate and that I was a failure. Now, however, I am starting to accept that there are benefits to keeping things simple, and stripping Christmas back to the things that are important – family, love and joy. Time to just enjoy my chicks instead of being worried about tackling the next thing on my list. Time to have them cuddle up to me on the couch while we watch a dodgy Christmas DVD with Danny de Vito in it. Making little things for each other instead of going out and buying more and more and more.

With that sense of simplicity I can share an image of the only handmade gifts that I presented to teachers this year.  The middle chick’s fruitastic design on the linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower made into tea-towels.  I might have to make some more!!

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I have learnt a lot this year, about my passion for creating things, about my need to find a proper balance in my life, about the challenges of raising a child with special needs, about the fact that superwomen run out of puff after a while, and about the importance of family.  This lesson about stopping to enjoy time with my family instead of feeling the need to do everything, and do it well, is possibly the most important lesson I have learnt.  As we go into Christmas it is my fervent hope that this is a lesson that I remember, and apply, every day from now on.

I hope that you are able to find the simple joys in your Christmas or holiday celebrations, and that you are able to feel the joy that it is meant to bring, instead of the pressure that so often accompanies it.

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Nurturing the muse (or just attempting sanity)

Sunday night in the nest is always a little chaotic. I try to hold on to the freedom of the weekend as long as possible, and then reality sets in at about 6pm and I remember that I need to clean up from that very ‘freedom’, prepare for the week ahead, load my photos, list any new items, write this blog entry, put clean sheets on the stripped beds, sign notes for school, feed the dog, and tackle Mount Washmore (which is really Mount Foldmore but is still referred to as Washmore – a teetering pile of clean clothes, sheets, towels, school uniforms, sports uniforms, and generally everything that will be needed urgently first thing tomorrow morning if I don’t fold and sort it tonight.)

In case I haven’t said this before, I LOVE weekends. After years of being a busy social butterfly I am now the complete opposite and work very hard to keep weekends as free from commitments as possible. Sports fixtures and birthday parties are about the extent of it. When I find myself with a day with no ‘bookings’, instead of rushing off to ring my friends to see who is free to go off on some wild adventure with multiple children in tow, these days I stay very quiet about it and inwardly breathe out at the thought of a day where I don’t have to be anywhere at any time.  Which means that I have time to sit, have a cup of coffee and take in the sight of hot air balloons drifting past the back of my porch, looking like musical notes against the electric wires.  (I was feeling a bit poetic this morning!)

Of course I love it when I do catch up with my friends, and think ‘we should do this more often’ – there is just no pleasing some people – but the reason for keeping weekends as simple as possible is that it is part of my plan to keep myself sane (or on bad days – to attempt for sanity!) I suspect that it also contributes to nurturing my creative muse, mojo, or whatever you want to call it! Between a busy office during the week, lots of after school commitments with the children, and all the other busy ‘stuff’ that just comes from being a family, if I don’t carve out some hours for myself on the weekend, then I start to disappear.

Luckily this weekend had a good balance of sports and parties – only one of each – and great weather, so I was able to do lots of thinking, planning and some sewing. I felt rotten on Saturday and thought I was getting another cold, but a bit of resting seemed to do the trick. I used the resting time to make lists. Lists of the things I want to make, lists of the things I want to make right now, lists of the things I could make if I suddenly had a time-turner and could be in two places at once, and then, lists of the supplies I ‘need’ to buy. It was a long list of lists. The inability to do everything I want, all at the same time, can be a little overwhelming, so I chunked it down. The end result? Two overnight bags from the great pattern I bought at the beginning of the year from Gingercake.  One with some lovely fabric I received from Spoonflower earlier this week…

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And the other with some divine retro fabric I bought a few weeks ago….

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I am quite happy with them.  I also intend to make a travel pack to go with them – a zip up pouch and a draw-string bag, but the reality of life means that that might not happen for a day or two….

During the week I made the bag to go with the pouch I posted on Wednesday – a custom order for a colleague at work.  Again I included an adjustable strap – will definitely be making more of those!

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Some of the other ideas I am itching to start on?  A series of appliqued t-shirts, some travel bag sets, some cushion covers, some hats, hot water bottle covers, skirts, pillowcases, ipad covers…..  sheesh!  You can see why my brain is buzzing!

Taking one thing at a time…… have a look at this delightful offering from Spoonflower….

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one of my friends, immediately upon seeing it on Facebook, asked for scatter cushions.  She has a fantastic eye!  I had just been sitting there admiring it and wondering how best to use it….. and cushions are perfect!  (As are travel bag sets I suspect….)   So at some point, that is what will happen.

I often write here about my ongoing struggle to ‘maintain the balance’.  I read an online article today where it said “Balance is a myth. Parenting isn’t a tight-rope walk; it’s a dance. Strive for rhythm instead of balance, and trust yourself to move to the ever-changing beat.”

I think I like this concept.  Balancing always feels a little precarious.  Dancing, however, has moments of fun, of pure joy, and of fumbled steps.  I might adopt this.

I had two random moments of joy today at the hands of my children.  The boy was playing with an electronic world globe that they got for Christmas (from grandparents who don’t have to hear it all day long…….) and started singing the national anthem.  I was quite proud of his patriotism, and knowledge of the song, until I listened a little closer and heard him singing “Avast Australia Fair”……. apparently we live in a land of pirates.  (For the non-Australian readers amongst you the correct phrase is “Advance Australia Fair”.

Then some hours later the two girls were talking about something on the computer and the eldest chick said to the middle chick “You are one little world of weird”.  Her sister (fortunately)took it as a compliment, while I sat and marvelled at the imagery one phrase from a 10 year old can elicit.

As I head off to tackle the mountain of clean laundry, and face the working and school week, I can reflect that I am still one of the lucky ones.  My sanity is reasonably present, my muse and mojo seem to be in the vicinity and my children are delightful.  Especially now that they are all asleep.

Have a great week as you work towards another fabulous weekend.