Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Time out

Before I start I should probably state that I'm writing this feeling a bit off kilter.

I've juggled around with the various hats that I wear before so I know the score. It's akin to playing the same part in a play for a decade and then one night before curtain call someone changes the script.

The last time was about 16 months ago when I took some time out of everyday life. I boarded a plane in Brisbane, flew to the other side of the world and spent a month making my own decisions.

As I prepared and packed for that trip there were lots of mixed emotions. I felt that every item going into my bag was emblazoned with the word "me".  I had lovely supportive friends who were excited for me but in my head I heard it differently. My core instinct for the last twelve years was being shifted. My 'mother' hat was still in that bag it's just that the 'me' hat had bright neon lights on it!

By the time I was crossing the Arabian Sea I was just about beginning to let go of the guilt and look forward to the discovery.  I slept on the plane (better than I do at home!) and I spent time contemplating.

I wore lots of hats during that month away - daughter, friend, independent traveller. I had the best time and a holiday where I truly relaxed. It was a chance to press the pause button for a while.
Technology makes the world a very small place and time differences aside I still parented from a distance. I shared the stories about school camp, dancing lessons, getting into the netball team, forgotten lunch boxes. Life in my Australian home didn't really change... I just wasn't there in the moment to live it or worry about it.

Back in Brisbane I fell back into my world.

The suitcase went to the back of the wardrobe and the neon light on the 'me' hat got switched off.

I'm not complaining - that's life. I wouldn't swap a lot of mine.

Then a long term health issue started to bother me and the prospect of needing to take a step away from things was a real possibility. I needed that 'me' hat again. I pondered and pondered some more and I dithered. I made a decision and changed my mind. Once my consultant mentioned the words  - second opinion, referral and oncologist in the same sentence I stopped dithering.

I filled the freezer, I made lists, I organised my work commitments, I cleaned and scrubbed like the queen was coming to tea!  I did so much in the week before surgery that I seriously couldn't have fitted anything else in if I tried.
I was exhausted and then I had horrible morbid thoughts at 4am that made me even more exhausted. I was almost looking forward to the operating table just to have a proper sleep!

I then let go of every... single... hat...

On Monday I had some surgery and on Friday I was told my pathology results were clear.

I was nothing for almost a week. I didn't realise that I was in such a limbo until Friday afternoon. By Friday evening in my head I had "recovered".

Well, not quite....

I should probably enjoy this time. I know how important it is for me to rest to recover and I am doing it. (I also know my mother wants to jump on a plane so I have to re-assure her that I really am doing the right things. Mam - I promise.)

Being at home and not being in control is a strange feeling though.  I have to consciously give myself lectures about things like not picking up the stray pony tail band on the floor - it was yellow and it was there for 24 hours and nearly drove me insane!!

I'm not naive enough to think that life is a 'one hat on, one hat off' game. We all multi task, we all take on different roles at different times and I just have to adopt in this theatre where I'm typecast as homemaker.

It's unbalancing but I'll find a pretty ribbon and tie it around my 'me' hat in a big knot under my chin

....and breathe....


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A crochet chat

About two years I decided I needed a bit of a creative outlet. I set myself a little challenge to teach myself how to crochet. I thought it would be easy - one little crochet hook, a ball of wool, what could be so tricky about that? Well, it wasn't quite as easy as I thought...

My ipad an I spent many evenings attempting various stitches with varying degrees of success. I struggled with the tension and my crochet samplers grew and shrunk with some alarming regularity. As they say, practise makes perfect and whilst nothing is ever quite perfect my confidence grew and I began to try out work that was a little more exciting than a scarf!

One of the things that I enjoy making is blankets. I love the anticipation of the project, sorting through the colours and the repetitiveness of row after row coming together. To date I have either followed a pattern or just slightly tinkered a bit with the colours. I got a little bit brave a few months ago and decided I could manage to venture alone...

I considered my colour choices, decided on the basic stitch and started. I often give my blankets as gifts but I still need to love them whilst I'm in the process. With this one the love began to waiver about a third of the way through. The irregularity of the stripe was beginning to bother me. The initial attraction to the randomness just wasn't working anymore. I noticed that the blanket wasn't really progressing as I just wasn't drawn to picking it up in the evenings.

Thankfully, the solution came to me and the answer was to mirror the pattern from the halfway point. Ahhh, symmetry..... all became well in my crochet world!

I've worked blankets with lots of different colour stripes in the past but these three shades needed rhythm and purpose.

Once a blanket is completed I'm itching to get going again. As a welcome change I looked for a quick start and finish project.

Back in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales in the little town that was my home for many years the planning is underway  for 'Yarndale'. This is a creative festival of all things woolly and they have a community project that you can contribute to wherever you are in the world. This year the community project is to make a woolly sheep. These sheep will be a visual display during the Yarndale weekend and then they will be sold with the proceeds going to Martin House - a hospice to care for children and young people in Yorkshire and a donation will also go to The Children's Liver Disease Foundation.

I have watched the crochet community post their creations on social media and marvelled at the different interpretations. From my attempts my favourite was my little girly sheep in her pink jumper, so she will packaged up and sent back to Yorkshire. I wonder where she'll end up?

Details of the woolly sheep community project can be found -  HERE and you have until September 9th to contribute.

Another community project that I have just completed also came to my attention via social media. It's called #jennysblanketofhugs. A very kind and thoughtful individual is creating a blanket for a young girl who sadly has just learnt that her brain tumour has returned. The idea is that people can crochet squares that will then be made up into a blanket.

I really wanted to do my bit to contribute to this blanket. I set to work on the plain square and after a couple of attempts (that tension thing again!) I managed to get the required size about right. The same thing happened with the stripes - my size was out and the sides were wonky. The bobbled one was a real challenge for me - rows of increasing and decreasing number of stitches and bobbles that were way too flat! On Sunday evening I was on attempt number six or seven and then a thought came to me. These squares are just three squares in a huge blanket of hugs. There are numerous individuals from different corners of the world expressing their squares in their own way. Just like we hug. Each hug is different - similar... but different.  Each square made for this blanket would be similar but different.

That's the beauty of this blanket. It has a colour theme, it has variations on plain, stripes and bobble squares, but it's full of individual hugs that give it that that beautiful uniqueness.

On Monday morning I came back from a yoga class, got straight into sewing in the stray ends to my (slightly wonky) squares, took the selfie that was requested with my contribution and these will be posted off to the UK this week.

The details of the #jennysblanketofhugs project can be found  - HERE