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Return from Easter

I am back!

Back from a week of no computer, no responsibility, no children and no routine.  Back from an unintended break from blogging, sewing, crafting, and cooking.  Back from a fuzzy head – almost.

So – where have I been?  As promised/predicted/threatened I went on a road trip to Byron Bay to attend Bluesfest – a five day festival of music based loosely on a celebration of blues and roots music.  In reality there is probably more non-blues music than blues – but no one cares.  The countryside around Byron Bay is spectacular, the weather is temperamental, and the lifestyle is very relaxed.  The people who attend Bluesfest provide a lovely cross section of society – ranging from older retirees in their neatly ironed shorts and shirts through to the barefooted, dreadlock wearing hippies, with everyone in between.  I reckon I fall right in the middle of the range – and I am okay with that!  I did get good wear out of my two Tova tunics – and actually remembered to get a photo of myself in one!  (My photographer went a bit crazy….. and I am pulling a face in most but there are a couple that show the shirt….)

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Camping on site at the festival is part of the fun – you get to know neighbours, compare which bands you have seen or want to see, and share the joy in finding a clean toilet, stocked with paper…..  and compare gumboot styles as the rain hits and causes mud that has to be squelched through to be believed.

So did I enjoy it?  For the most part – yes.  Driving there and back on my own was tiring (it is about a 15 hour drive including breaks) and affected my enjoyment (I slept early on the first night and missed seeing Chris Isaak, which I regret).  On the way there I stopped and camped overnight on my own – and enjoyed the experience.  On the way home I pushed through and did the trip in one day – not as enjoyable.  I did find that looking for geocaches was a good way to break up the trip, so will be doing that again.

My ‘campanion’ (pun intended) was suffering from ‘man-flu’ and ended up leaving on the fourth day.  The rain was depressing and meant that there was mud and hot steamy crowds…..  so I found parts of it quite challenging.  There was a moment on Sunday night when I put myself to bed early and lay in the tent listening to the rain, and the sounds of a Ska band blaring through the rain, when I wondered what on earth I was doing there – and whether I really needed a life lesson in coping with anxiety and depression right at this point in time.  But – the next day the sun was out, I ended up having a nice day on my own and I got to hear/see Paul Simon singing, which moved me much more than I expected, and it all seemed worth it.

Highlights?  Meeting some lovely new friends in the campground, finally seeing Ben Harper in concert, seeing Robert Plant and Paul Simon, and Busby Marou, discovering new music through the band Current Swell, and hearing other legends like the Counting Crows, the Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, and a plethora of great blues artists.  And going into Brunswick Heads for a swim in the ocean.  Such a simple treat!

So now I am home, and back to the challenges of life as a single parent.  By yesterday afternoon I was completely overwhelmed – yet another meeting with teachers at school about my son, making new childcare arrangements after the babysitter’s timetable changed, trying to think about groceries, homework, housework, gardening, paying bills, caring for animals……..etc.  So I went to bed, convinced that I was getting sick.  This morning I felt dreadful but got up and went to work, and then to an early morning chiropractor appointment.  I quickly realised that in fact I wasn’t sick, or overwhelmed.   I was in pain.  Once I was ‘adjusted’ properly the world seemed quite decent again – and all the little bits and pieces that had been threatening to pull me under last night were quite manageable again.  A good lesson in being aware of the impact of pain on my mental and physical wellbeing!  (and a good reminder that dancing in gumboots, driving long distances, getting tumbled in the surf and sleeping on an inflatable mattress for a week aren’t good for my back…….)

My mum will go home on Saturday after her epic effort in looking after my children, then in a week the children go on holiday to visit their father.  So my mind is slowly starting to turn back towards creative thoughts.  Some bags, some patchwork, a kindle cover or two……  my sewing fingers are getting itchy…..!

Lessons learnt?  Keep things simple, enjoy the moment, and don’t forget to dance.

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Balance has returned to the nest since my last post.  We have been out and about, and while chores were achieved, so were fun activities.  More of that later.  I have also managed a bit of sewing, and as a bonus, have been able to organise my sewing gear a bit more too!  A lovely new box from Spotlight has room for all the ‘things’ I was throwing in a basket – and then digging through every few minutes, creating tangles of hook and loop fastener, thread, offcuts of interfacing, etc.

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I received such lovely support following my post – both here and privately.  Thank you – your words do make a difference!

On the sewing front I have been beavering away at my ‘to do’ list – making more bags and constantly exploring new ideas.  A lovely friend (and one of my best customers so far) asked me to make a bag for her sister – a new Mum, in Ireland, with a 30th birthday.  I started thinking about when I was a new mum and finding that balance between being completely focussed on my child but also trying to retain my grown up separate identity, (in a midst of bags covered in ducks and toys etc) and decided that she needed a bag that looked good, but was also useful to carry ‘mum stuff’.  So I sat down and designed a new bag!  The photos are a bit ordinary due to rain outside meaning flash lighting inside…but you get the general idea.  I put a slip pocket on the outside, 6 slip pockets on the inside, and a zipped pocket.  I am thinking of it as a Tardis – average on the outside and enormous on the inside!  Now to play with different colour combinations!  (And different pocket combinations/arrangements.)

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It also gave me a chance to play with some new fabric that arrived here on Friday morning!  My fabric addiction is well and truly being fed at the moment.  The ideas and possibilities that come with new fabric are delightful.  The deliciousness of the prints for children have me thinking of skirts, pillowcases, art wallets, bags and more!  The prints that aren’t specifically designed for children lend themselves to all of those and more.  My brain is ticking away busily, creating and re-creating ideas and combinations.  So much fun!

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Of course, because, as I have now confessed, I am good at creating my own pressure, I want to be using it all instantly!  However I am just remembering to breathe, to enjoy the other aspects of my life, and to enjoy the dreaming, because, lets face it, the dreaming is often better than the reality!!

The children and I have been doing all sorts of things now that the cranky mum has gone away again!  We have geocached (and found some nifty hides)

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had a trip to the zoo (which we plan to be the first of many),

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played board games (‘Carcassonne’ is our current favourite),  baked (from great heights!),

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spent time with friends, and talked.  I have even managed to start the seasonal cupboard clean out!

I am also enjoying doing a bit of researching into camping gear.  I have a camping trailer, that I love, and which is now set up just the way I like it, so I don’t need any more gear for it.  (I can’t believe I actually said that, but it is true!)  However, my mistake for the Easter booking means that my friend K and I can’t take the trailer with us when we travel (sans children) to Bluesfest at Byron Bay.  In order to overcome my frustration with myself I am immersing myself in research into the best tent for the best price for us to take instead.  (We have been offered tents to borrow, which would be the sensible option, but that isn’t half as much fun as researching accessories for my favourite sort of getaway!)  K and I keep having phone calls and text messages where we share our latest find, and then talk ourselves into the sensible borrowing option, and then share the next find!  We are as bad as each other!  Having been friends since we were 11, it probably makes sense that we operate in a similar way.

While I start to think about getting organised for the return to school and work, and rearranging my work life so that I can continue to provide my children with the level of support that they need at the moment I am trying to continue planning for other fun activities for them.  So, with the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show coming up soon, I have asked the girls if they would like to enter the baking competition run for under 12s.  They are very excited at the prospect and are already planning their gluten-free entries for the general entry section!  They were disappointed that they can’t enter the sewing section as entries closed two months ago, but I pointed out that two months ago neither of them knew how to use a sewing machine, so a bit more practise before next year would stand them in good stead!  I love seeing the benefit of having been able to spend all this time at home with them. I am realistic that I can’t financially sustain that as a lifestyle for us long-term (apparently it is the law to clothe, feed and house them) but am certainly working on coming up with a work arrangement that will allow me more time with them after school than we have been able to manage for the last year or so.

While I am itching to be creating, I know that doing all of this other ‘stuff’ is good for me too!

I hope that you are all managing to do the things that make you happy.