Monday, April 1, 2019

Nothing breaks like a heart.

Last week was what I hope will be forever regarded as rock bottom in my life. I really don't know if I could cope with a week worse than that. It was so bad that if I told you, you would think I was making it up. But sadly I didn't make it up, it was all true. I'm not going to go into details here, but let's just say, my heart hurts and it was genuinely difficult to decide to keep on going.

But luckily, at the same time as all the shit was going down, I kept on working on my assignments and readings for uni. One of them was a journal article about storytelling theories in Social Work. Basically, if I read this right, when we use a story telling theory in social work, we tell the story about what happened and then we stand back and look at that story and see if we can reframe it differently to take way the victim aspect and gain some power back. 

This was excellent timing for me. I looked at the story I was telling myself, and I could recognise the good bits of the story, the things I could take away. I could put the bad bits aside as part of the learning experience and I think I can move on. I mean, I won't lie, my heart still hurts, but I'm not a victim. I'm someone who is fighting so hard for her goals and to provide for her family. I'm wanting to be a good mum, to empower my kids to make good decisions. All of us are learning that we need to take responsibility for our own actions, to own our failings and to make the decisions and changes necessary to move forward.

I'm far from perfect, as a friend, as a parent and as a person. But none of us are. We are all flawed human beings working on our stuff aren't we? So here's to moving forward. Here's to picking up the good pieces and leaving the broken ones. Here's to taking a risk to love and learning the lessons from it. 

And for everything else, thank God for chocolate brownie dates with your daughter, and home cooked dinners. Here's to good songs on the radio and rain on the roof when you are tucked up in bed. Here's to enjoying the small things and finding enough joy in those to tackle the big things.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

One foot in front of the other

There's a popular song at the moment, with the refrain "nothing breaks like a heart". With so many heavy things going on, it's hard to keep your head above it all. There's definitely a lot of hurting hearts. The events of the last two weeks have shaken us all. There's a raised level of consciousness, even with things that should be little like the constant helicopter presence.

 It definitely takes me back to post earthquake times. Even though I know it's not the same, theres a similar feeling which just ramps up your level of anxiety. I notice that everyone is that bit closer to losing the plot than they normally would (including myself), it doesn't take much to push you over the edge.

Definitely a time for good self care. Some extra rest, some good food, being with people you love, maybe even a few treats if your budget can handle it. And a time to focus on the good things. Yes there is darkness and deep deep grief, I'm not minimising this; but we have to keep moving in our daily lives. We can notice a beautiful sunrise without it taking away from how we honour those who are grieving. We can hug our families and our friends. In fact, it could be said, that if there was any lesson to be learned, it is to hold those you love closely.

It's ok to be sad. It's ok to cry. It's ok to be hurting. Grief is a process. You never stop missing those that you have lost, but they become part of who you are, part of your story. It takes time for that to happen. Let's all be patient with each other. It's a hard hard time. But we will get through this.

Thursday, March 21, 2019


As you will all know, it's a week ago today, that a terrorist went into two mosques here in Christchurch and shot people who were peacefully saying their prayers. A horrifying thing, that has touched everyone here and across our nation. It's so hard to write about this, because firstly it's so painful and raw and so many people that we love are hurting, and secondly the seeds of intolerance were sown so long ago, that it's impossible to know how to even begin to change things.

I've seen a lot of things written this week until I had to stop reading. People are hurting and angry and they want change. But change won't just happen by telling people to change. I've seen a lot of love and acknowledgement too. We are all flawed human beings, but it's heart warming to see so many people recognising their privilege and committing to change going forward.

Today Annie and I wore headscarves to work and school. It felt like a real honour to be able to do that. It was also very very confronting. It gave me (I think Annie was oblivious) a small taste of what it must be like on a daily basis to go out in public wearing a scarf. And yet in some ways I loved it. I liked being able to wear it and not have to look anyone in the eye, I felt protected under its cover. I could just put my head down and do my business and be invisible.

I saw a bunch of people online, saying it was tokenism and pointless but unless you have put on a headscarf and hopped on a bus and walked down the street and gone into your work meetings, you really have no idea how it feels. I cannot even explain all the feelings I've had today. I was scared and anxious and I felt like a stranger in my own place. People stared and people ignored you. These things are everyday occurrences for muslim women.

I also feel like we cannot have this whole conversation without acknowledging the Maori people who have lived with racism since the europeans arrived. It's a whole other topic, but even though we have been working so hard in the last few years to honour the Treaty, there's a lot of racist attitudes around. Up till now, I often haven't said anything when someone made a comment, but no longer. In the last week, I've looked at my own heart and attitudes. I've unfollowed a few people, I've called people out online and I've blocked people. I'm not going to be silent any more, it's hard to speak up, but if all of us do, things will have to change.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Hopping back on the blogging horse again....

I have been thinking about this space. When I logged in this morning, I realised I hadn’t written since last September. In part this is because I never quite got over the feedback that my life was “sad and depressing and no one needs that kind of negativity” and in part because full time work plus full time study turns out to equal a health breakdown by the end of the year.

But I’ve rested, dusted myself down, picked myself up and realised that writing in the space was a huge part for me of processing the feelings I have about things that happen. In short it was good for my mental health and now that I don’t do it, I have a lot of unresolved thoughts in my head jumbled about. I always wrote for myself first and foremost and so I’m taking up the pen (keyboard) again to sift through life and make sense of it.

Follow along if you want, but if you don’t that’s fine too. Life is messy and complicated and sometimes it’s sad. That’s just how it is. What’s that saying, it ain’t all sunshine and roses, but some of it is.

Here’s to finding the roses.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Snippets from my life as a #socialworkstudent

My life has narrowed down to three main things.
These three things are my focus.

I can hardly recognise this version of myself.
A version of myself that is happy to study in every spare minute.
And quite a few that aren't!

A version of myself where textbooks jostle for space at the end of my bed.
A version of myself that always has a journal article in my bag.
A version of myself that is working so hard on a long term goal.

There's lots of time for Annie to snuggle up with me.
She does her thing while I do my thing.
Reuben actually likes me being home.
He always knows where I am if he wants a chat.
We make the most of opportunities for fun times.
We eat a lot of chocolate self-saucing pudding to celebrate small things.

Sometimes I worry that I'll regret spending this time studying
when I could be maybe doing something else.
But honestly I'm still doing all the important things,
just less time doing things that aren't important.
And not worrying about the rest.

I might not be around so much in this space.
And in my day to day life too.
Because I'm transforming my life
one essay at a time.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Tomorrow is the first day of the new semester....

And I'm going to begin my Master's in Social Work. I was going to do one paper, but I can only get a student loan if I do two papers. So two it is.

Somehow being suddenly confronted with doubling the workload has definitely thrown me for a spin. I mean what if I can't even do this??? I have all these thoughts in my head and I'm struggling with them. A huge part of me wonders why I am audacious enough to even think I can do this.

What if my brains have somehow leaked out my ears over the last three years. What if this is as good as it gets and I can't go any further. What if I can't manage to balance my work, my family and my study. Will I even have any friends left at the end of this. What if I can't write essays any more or can't memorise the facts.

Basically, what if I fail?? There, that's the crux of it. What if I fail??

What's the worst that can happen?? I guess I'll be paying my student loan till I die. Which I probably will anyhow.

Failing is such an emotional term. But what would actually happen?? Probably not much to be honest except I wouldn't get to follow my dream. So I guess I have to want to fight for this dream more than I want to fail, if that makes sense. I have to be prepared to go home from work each night, cook tea, listen to violin practice, negotiate with the Resident Teen etc etc and then once that's over, study every single night. In other words I have to be prepared to put in the hard yards and just do this thing.

One foot in front of the other. Honestly, I'm terrified. But I want to be able to work with people in a meaningful way. I want to learn to be present when they are hurting. I want to listen in a way that empowers them. I want to encourage, make plans, offer opportunities. I want my life to be useful. I want to be useful every day when I go to work. I want to make a difference.

I don't know if I can, but I am going to try. Starting tomorrow with the first day of the new semester.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Getting things done is better than waiting till you can do it perfectly. And sometimes you just need to call it done and move on.

We have been living in our new house for just over two weeks now and it is starting to feel like home. It's so different being in town and having space at each end of the day. I had a lot of plans with what I want to do with the extra time, but I have to confess I spend a lot of it sleeping!! Especially in the mornings, it's so nice to lie in bed for an extra half an hour even if it does feel lazy. 

We are waiting to get the painting and kitchen finished so I haven't been able to do much sewing. But the other night I pulled out this thrifted quilt top. Honestly it's the wonkiest thing I ever found. It's not square, it doesn't lie flat and it has one million threads coming out of it. I honestly couldn't do much to it, so I just hand quilted across the width a few times and put a binding on.

Sometimes I just need a reminder that we don't always have to strive for perfection, that sometimes it is ok to just be a little wonky and a bit unfinished.

I've put an old flannelette sheet on the back and some heavier than normal batting. This quilt is snuggly and heavy... just the way we like them. No one who snuggles under it is going to give a rat's A** that it's wonky, they are just going to be comforted by it's warmth.

It was the perfect project to kick start my project list off. Not perfect, not even close it it, but still perfect for the task. I wish the person who spent soooooo many hours sewing it, could see it finished. I bet they were so discouraged they just sent it off to be donated. But by looking past it's (many) flaws, I can enjoy all the pretty fabrics they included. (I purposely didn't trim it square when I put the binding on to keep the organic feel!!)

I'm keeping this quilt as a reminder to me. I'm going to use it every opportunity. Because even though I'm a flawed human being who fails in so many ways, it's still ok to be me. I have a lot of things I want to achieve this year and I needed the reminder that (like this quilt) it won't be perfect and it might be a bit wonky, but a finished project is far better than an unfinished one hidden at the back of the cupboard.

Here's to moving forward!