I get by with a little help from my friends

After a big whinge to my online Writerly buddies about my lack of energy, the fact that the sight of my beloved laptop Mary made my stomach churn with the ‘guilt of the unwritten’, I was met with such a show of support and love, that I found myself all teary and blubbery.
I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. And now, you get to meet one of them 🙂


Rest. Why is doing nothing so hard?

Part 1.

If you are a follower of Personally Speaking, you will know that Susannah has been laid low by a nasty dose of Ross River Fever.

In case you are a bit foggy on all the ways Ross River Fever truly sucks, here’s a rundown:

‘…feelings of flu-like illness, accompanied by a high fever, skin rash and joint pains. Swelling of the joints can also be present, and are usually worse in the mornings. Other more general symptoms include nausea, headache, backache and muscle aches and pains.The initial symptoms normally present between five and 14 days after infection, and usually last up to six weeks. However, some sufferers report ongoing joint pains, depression and fatigue for up to six months.’ http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/

I’m a member of Susannah’s online writing group, and we are e-watching from an e-distance as she tries to do the impossible- to rest. She’s a girl with a lot to do, a lot to say, a lot to write, and fighting the urge to do all of those things is a moment by moment struggle 1. because it’s just so darn boring (see post below), and 2. too because it offers so much time and just enough energy to work up a nice big dose of guilt about all the things you are not doing.

I’ve been there.

Most people I know have been there.

Luckily most of us don’t have to suffer through Ross River Virus, but we’ve all soldiered on during times of illness, exhaustion, stress, and heartbreak because the alternative – resting – often induces complicated feelings of frustration and guilt- ‘I’m just being a wus’, ‘I should just suck it up and get on with it’, ‘I’m taking way too long to get over this.’

Why is that?

I had a major crisis last week about something so very minor that this week, with my perspective fully restored, and a now refreshed knowledge of just how miserable Ross River Virus is, I’m almost embarrassed to repeat it. But I learned something from my wise sister about resting and guilt that I hope will stand me in good stead should I ever end up in Susannah’s position, or God forbid with something worse.
I thought I’d better write it down so I’ll remember it when the time comes, and I hope Susannah will remind me of it when I need to hear it again, as no doubt I will- probably over and over for the rest of my life.

I also thought it might be a good way to introduce myself, as I may contribute a few things here and there over the next few weeks for Personally Speaking so that Susannah can rest a bit longer.

I’m Alison. I’ve known Susannah for six months since I joined her writing group. I am a writer of children’s fiction, television producer, serial renovator with mid-term memory loss (I did say NEVER again a few years ago but here I am again…), blogger, wife, mum, daughter, sister, canteen hand, soccer mum, yoga comittment-phobe, home magazine addict with a life threatening sweet tooth.

In the time that I’ve known Susannah she has warmly and generously e-talked me through several scary blog posts, a pitch to a major publisher, encouraged me on several poems and been honest enough to tell me when something I wrote needed, well, something more. It’s precious and rare to have that sort of sounding board as a writer.

So, when the dust settles on this week’s renovating stuff-ups and redos, I will post part 2 of ‘Rest. Why is doing nothing so hard?’ entitled ‘Learning to rest without guilt.‘

It’s a work in progress, so feel free to post your suggestions, and then, watch this space.

It’s my birthday!

So. Here it is. The big four-o.

I couldn’t be happier. I’m not bothered at all by the number. Turning forty is far better than the alternative, I say. I’m also intrigued by this next phase of life. I feel like I have learned a couple of things over the last 40 years; about myself, others and life in general. But I’m not finished yet, and I’m looking forward to what the next four or so decades will teach me.

But enough pontificating (I love that word!), and on to the fun stuff. To celebrate, I want to share with you 40 things I love, one for each year 🙂

In no particular order and not in any way exhaustive:

My husband
My children
My mum and dad
My sisters and brother – and their partners and children
My friends
My In-law family
My house
Good red wine
An open fireplace
Rainy days
Sunny days
A strong, hot cup of tea
My car
My dog Vincent
Good Indian food
Sleeping in
Walking on the beach
Walks in the bush
Singing in the shower
Good hearty discussions
Playing games

So, what do you love? I would love to hear a few of yours…although, everyone also lists one for each of the years they have been around, it could be a very looooong comments section (Not that I’d mind!) 🙂

Dear Mum

Dear Mum,

I have so many memories of my childhood, with you in centre stage. Always there, constant, steady, providing the firm foundations of the family. As the mother of five, you sacrificed your time, energy and money for us, selflessly, with none of the modern day obsession mothers have for ‘me time’. I never once heard (or even accidentally overheard) you complain. Never.

And I have so many wonderful memories of growing up –

I remember all your administrations due to my sickly disposition as a small child. And while I hated the endless rounds of doctors, I loved that it meant time with you. Chatting in the car, always a treat for me somewhere along the way “for being good at the doctors”. You made being unwell as good as it could be and even managed to make it feel special.

I remember your outrage when the dog pulled the roast chicken off the bench and was happily munching away when we all trooped into the kitchen for lunch. I can’t remember what we had instead but I’m sure you managed to rustle up something yummy 🙂

I remember the first time I heard you swear – come to think of it, it might also be the last! It was when you had started cake decorating and it was your first ‘proper’ order. You came in to find the cat had eaten the flowers off the top. We all stood around staring at the cake in stunned silence. And then quietly, but with such feeling, you simply said, “Bloody cat.” I still laugh at that memory today; we were all so horrified! Now, I think, man, I would have said a lot worse than that!

I remember waking up on a school day in a foul mood – I have no idea why – and coming out to the kitchen, I very rudely demanded my uniform. You cheerily replied and I stomped off to get dressed. It was then I remembered – it was your birthday. You didn’t admonish me, although you were well within your rights to, you just gave me a hug when I came out and graciously accepted my sheepish birthday wishes.

I have the most vivid memory of one sports day in primary school – you were at every single one but due to my asthma and other health problems, there was never really much to see in regards to my races. You always cheered me on though, saying I had done my best etc etc. And then, one day, I won my race. I remember so clearly you at the finish line, jumping up and down in surprise and excitement. You couldn’t wait to tell everyone when we got home. And I was so proud that I had made you so proud.

And then the teenage years. I remember you let me stay home from school the day after a particularly nasty break up with a boy. You let me sit on the couch all day in my pyjamas, watching soap operas and eating chocolate, comforted by you bustling around doing the usual household chores and bringing me cups of tea.

I remember my school formal, and you, knowing I detested the taffeta creations expected during the 80’s, took me shopping at all the funkiest stores of the day, for something ‘different’. And then, when we had found the perfect dress (complete with matching jacket and ginormous shoulder pads LOL) you spotted another top that you knew I would love and just handed it to the sales girl. Still to this day, I don’t know how you managed financially to do that but knowing that money was tight made it even more special.

So many more memories; my wedding day, babies being born, meals when I was sick, shopping, cuppas, a shoulder for the tears. And now, as a mother myself, your encouragement and advice are invaluable. Your guidance, not only as a mother, but as a wife, woman and friend is something I know I could never do without.

And if you are proud of me, as you so often say you are, I am only who I am because of you. So thank you, mum, for the memories that continue to stack up. I will always treasure them but even more, treasure you.

Love me xoxox

Ho hum.

Remember my last post? The one where I waxed lyrical about all this extra time to be thankful for everything?

Well. Scrap it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thankful – very thankful.

It’s just I’m so. damn. BOOOOOORRRRED.

Like seriously bored. Like almost deranged bored. Like ‘my mind is dissolving’ bored.

You know how when you are sick, you get bored but have no energy to do anything? Yep, that’s me. In epic proportions. It’s been nearly four weeks, people!

TV/movies? Boring.

Facebook? Boring. (Rest assured, though, I have read each and every one of your status updates, multiple times, with multiple different intonations, and clicked on every funny, stupid, cute or weird photo/video you have posted – still bored, I’m afraid.)

Reading? Hurts my hands to hold a book.

Sitting quietly and thinking? Boring.

Daytime sleeps? Allusive, which means boring time on the bed trying to sleep.

I know I just have to wait it out, be patient, blah, blah, blah.


Any suggestions, oh faithful blog readers?

I’m so glad I’m sick.

So I have recently been diagnosed with Ross River Virus. I won’t bore you with all the details, but for those who don’t know much about this virus, it is extremely debilitating, with excruciating joint and muscle pain as well as a general feeling of what I can only describe as blaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh.

Needless to say, it hasn’t been fun. Frustratingly, I had a virus almost at the same time last year, with nearly identical symptoms that lasted the best part of two months. I am not at all impressed that once again I find myself in the same predicament this year.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an ‘action’ girl, not as in action figure, like Wonderwoman or something, although, that would be super cool…but, I digress.

Basically, I find it hard to not be doing ‘stuff’. Now, please don’t mistake this with super productivity – I can be as lazy as the next person but I am always busy. Busy having fun, that is.

Enforced inactivity is NO FUN AT ALL 😦

The only way to get over this virus is rest, rest, rest. And then when you feel better, you know what you get to do?? Rest some more. Yep. It’s a long recovery process, apparently, if you want to ensure it doesn’t recur, which I do. So, I am going to have to do what I am told (always hard at the best of times!) and lay low for awhile.

My life now consists of some very minimal light work duties (the boss is really strict and gets cranky easily if I try to outstay my welcome in the office), and then the rest of the day is spent either in my recliner or laying on the bed.

The exhaustion renders my brain into a sloppy, sluggish mass with only a small window of reasonable working capacity which I rightly save for my light work duties, so working on my novel is out, as is reading any ‘writerly’ books. All I have is the odd game on facebook, draw something, reading ‘holiday’ books, the occasional rambling blog post 🙂 and introspection.

And you know what? Now that I have accepted that resting is just the way it is right now, the enforced quiet and introspection has given me the gift of thankfulness.

I am thankful for:

• my husband/nurse/cook/boss/driver/house cleaner. Without such an outstanding man, I could not recuperate and relax so completely,

• my children who are happy to help out, tell me all their news, and between the three of them always make sure I have a hot cup of tea at hand,

• our business – no employer would be as understanding as my husband is at my limited capacity; also now that we work from home, I can do what I can and take as many breaks as I need,

• my little dogs, especially Vincent, who happily snuggles next to me as I doze or read, keeping me warm and giving me love,

• technology – my iphone, my macbookair – both keep me connected to people and provide laughs, entertainment and distraction from the pain and discomfort.

So, as tempting as it is to wallow in self pity and focus on the pain, I’m going to focus on the positives and be thankful for this virus. After all, there is always something to learn from everything life throws at us and I’m not one to pass up a learning opportunity, no matter what brings it to me.

What negative have you turned around to be a positive in your life? I would love to hear about it…and you know I have the time to listen!