Feeling pretty damn clever!

RBG 2nd Draft Linking Alms LogoI’ve been working on a job for a local not for profit organisation and it’s been frustrating the hell out of both parties for about two weeks.

It’s for an annual community project that happens every Christmas and is, in my humble opinion, just bloody brilliant. The community group, along with the local newspaper and other NFP organisations in town, coordinate and publish a list of families (no names, of course. Just details such as ‘mum, dad, girl 14, boy 7’ so people have an idea of gifts to buy/how big to make the hamper etc) that are currently undergoing financial hardship and people can ‘adopt a family’ and build a Christmas hamper containing food, celebratory items and christmas gifts for them.

It is such a lovely way of giving back to the community and spreading the Christmas cheer around to those that may not be feeling the love.

So, anyway, the NFP organisation got a new coordinator early this year. And I used to work with her and then was her supervisor for a brief period. Luckily, we had a great working relationship so when I left my job and went out on my own, she was most generous in sending any graphic design work my way.  As repayment, I set their newsletter every quarter for free (my way of donating to their fantastic programs and thanking the hand that is doing a lot of feeding of me!).

We usually can communicate very well regarding what she wants for a certain job. But this one … this has been a struggle for both of us.  At first I did two hands intertwined on the front of the christmas present and the gift card with their logo and was pretty pleased with it … but it was too much like ‘all about them’.

They don’t feel they have complete ownership of the Linking Alms appeal so they didn’t want it to necessarily be their colours/logo etc. They wanted to keep the old clipart of people holding hands but it was a design that wasn’t very clear and I couldn’t do much with (although I did like the concept). At least, they did want something ‘christmas-y’ so I was on track with the christmas present box …

I wracked my brain, trying to think of what the hell I could do that would incorporate the old image of people holding hands and christmas … and came up with the above.  It meant using the pen tool to trace the individual people (there’s a granddad, little girl, dad, little boy and mum in a rotation of colours) so they were clearly outlined and vector graphics so I could use the perspective tool to wrap them around the bottom of the christmas present.  And although I’ve done a quickie tour of how to use the perspective tool in InDesign, I hadn’t really used it until today, so that was another whole lesson in itself.

However, I managed it and I must admit to sitting back with a glass of wine at the end of today and feeling pretty damn pleased with myself! As a draft logo, it’s pretty clear, relatively simple and conveys the message of people linking together at Christmas.

I just hope they like it!

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Nooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

nobodyExpectsTheSpanishInquisition

The Spanish Inquisition … when you least expect them.

Author’s note: The following is blatantly rejigged without the permission or knowledge of The Monty Python Flying Circus

Nooobody expects to have fertility issues! And here’s one thing you should never say to a woman trying to conceive: “Relax and it will all just happen naturally” ... and “But you’re still trying, aren’t you?”

Two! Two things you should never say to a woman trying to conceive: “But you’re still trying” and “Relax”... and “There’s always next time”.

THREE! Three things: “Always next time”, “Still trying” and “Relax”… and “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”. 

LET ME START AGAIN!

I have a whole new respect for witches. Magic is hard to ‘make happen’ and despite all the science in the world, it still requires that little spark of magic to make a baby come to life.  As we’ve discovered over the past four years, magic can be very elusive and certainly out of our control.  But here’s the thing I find the most difficult about the whole process: other people’s comments. Which is why I tend not to say anything or if I do, brush it off with humour.

Once upon a time, I was probably guilty of saying any one of the following four quotes. After all, I already have three completely gorgeous, grown-up children. I’ve done this before. So why THE FUCK* can’t I do it now?? (Because I’m 45, that’s why. But hey, nobody said logic and babies in the same sentence without laughing, right? Just so we’re clear, my husband’s jiz is positively jumping out of the jar, it’s so fertile. And he’s got the lab report to prove it.)

So here’s my Top Four sayings that I would advise you to avoid if you’re trying to be supportive of someone struggling to have a baby:

1. RELAX AND IT WILL ALL JUST HAPPEN NATURALLY

Well, shit. Why didn’t I think of that? Seems so simple when you put it that way. But here’s the thing: this is a situation you have no control over. No control = stress (look it up. Scientific fact.) Stress = I can meditate all the fuck* I want and nothing is going to take away the anxiety of counting the days to get the timing right (and hey, here’s a tip for those currently trying – saying “Honey, I’m ovulating. Let’s do it. Now.” is not considered ‘sexy talk’ and usually has the opposite effect), then waiting for two weeks to see if anything happened.

Then there’s the fun-filled IVF road of jabbing yourself with needles every day for 10 days then going under a general anesthetic to be ‘harvested’ THEN hoping for a further five days that the little blighters fertilise/don’t start dying off/make it to transfer THEN waiting two weeks to see if anything happened.

You try relaxing under that kind of pressure.

2. BUT YOU’RE STILL TRYING, AREN’T YOU?

Ugh. Stab me in the heart, why don’t you? What are you ACTUALLY trying to say? Are we still having sex? “No, no, I thought since we can’t get pregnant, I’d go on the pill and take precautions. Or just say no to bedroom funtimes.” Stupid, stupid question.

Or in the case of failed IVF, do you mean will we immediately spend another $5000 and a full month on heartache, needle jabbing, hoping and praying? “Sure, sign me up for that shit again. I mean, I don’t think I suffered enough last time, you know?”

I understand you’re trying to be positive but the implication we take away from that question is that we HAVEN’T been trying.  And here’s an insider secret for you: even when we say we’re ‘not trying’ anymore … we still are. Until we get a baby, we’ll always be trying.

3. THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT TIME

Seriously? We’ve just been through hell and it’s not somewhere we’re keen to revisit … even though we will. Read previous response.

4. IF IT’S MEANT TO BE, IT’S MEANT TO BE

That kind of zen philosophy is not helpful at all. It’s kinda related to the ‘Relax’ response. Stress comes from having no control over a situation that directly affects you. If you and your partner decided you wanted a baby together but it’s not happening, even though you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on natural remedies, given up coffee and wine, exercised to get fit then finally turned to science and forked out thousands for a helping hand, being told that maybe it’s just ‘not meant to be’ personally makes me want to punch you. Hard. In the face. Don’t EVER say it.

Here’s the thing …

There is nothing you can say that will make it better. You are blissfully unaware (as my younger self was) of the struggles and heartache and despair these people go through EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So, my advice? Don’t even try. Don’t give them too much sympathy – they’re struggling to hold it together and you feeling sorry for them just makes it harder not to blubber like a … well, a baby.

Don’t talk about it – unless they bring it up first. Then possibly just listen and nod occasionally and say innocuous things like “I see” and “Really?”

Instead, give them coffee.

And wine.

It will be gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

*Sorry about the swear words, Ma

Keeping the faith

It’s Day 4 today. Today I will find out whether we have embryos to transfer tomorrow or the poor little windowlickers have failed to keep trudging along. I’ve been here once before. We got the phone call at 3.30pm the afternoon before. The team was out before I even got a chance to bat.

Now, I’ve done my fair share of personal growth-related reading over the past 5 years about positive thinking and how we create our own universe and we chose this path long before we were born for a reason. And to be honest, I can look back and see where I did indeed manifest what I wanted.

This morning, as I watch the sunrise over this city I’ve sat stewing in over the past 5 days, far from home and my love and family, I asked myself “How?How do I stay positive? How do I manifest this little bit of creation to go my way? How do I possibly affect the universe and all it’s magic in such a manner that the outcome is in my favour?”

And you know what? By writing this blog and thinking about how I’ve done it in the past, I think I’ve found the answer.

I wanted a marriage that was loving and equal, where I didn’t feel inadequate and the ‘follower’ who had no hand in the decision making process for the family. I eventually got it but had to go through a divorce first. And I can remember thinking how I didn’t want to be married anymore … And to my shame, started acting like I already wasn’t.

When I separated I needed a good job and a community that would support me as a single parent and an opportunity came up to move back to a job in a former organisation I’d worked for in the town I’d only left 18 months ago and swore I would never return to. I started planning our move even before I got to the interview stage. I acted as if I’d already got what I wanted.

The same job three years later was stifling. It had served its purpose. The kids were grown, I had been able to financially support them, buy a car, have a credit card (yep, didn’t think the bank would give me one – so naive), take the kids on an overseas holiday. I was safe, secure, had found a loving partner who was everything I had imagined, including the reading in bed together at night (it’s the little things). I was ready to get out of that job and to try something different. So I started studying graphic design at night and on weekends.

I wanted to be free of the red tape and ridiculous bureaucracy; to be master of my workflow and able to do things I really wanted to do; explore other avenues. I knew what I needed: a financial cushion; networks from which to get clients; a supportive partner who would be happy as long as I was happy. For the 6 months before I resigned, I was working as if I’d graduated with my diploma and already left, doing jobs after hours in my home business. I sold my unit to give us that financial cushion. I acted as if I’d already got what I wanted.

The common theme in all these stories is that I started acting as if I’d already got what I wanted. And perhaps there, my friends, is the answer. Don’t worry about how it will happen. Just have faith that it will. And act as if it already has. Does this mean I start buying baby things? Do I start looking at the calendar, making sure I don’t plan any big trips for April-May next year? Maybe.

I guess with the other situations, I felt like I had some control. With this, I believe we’re relying on the magic of the universe. Maybe all it takes is buying a little baby suit today to get the ball rolling …

Life journeys

jamesjeanbatgirl

James Jean – Batgirl

My beautiful, strong-willed (and just a tad judgmental) daughter is heading south to a close school friends’ wedding tomorrow and she’s not happy about it.

Not happy because she really doesn’t like the groom. At all. And to be  honest, I can’t say I blame her. He is mean to his future wife, knocking her down with cruel words in front of others and blatantly attempting to flirt with all her girlfriends. Not a nice character, really. Being older and wiser in these matters, I can see that trouble will most definitely find her down the track and whilst my daughter most vehemently agrees, she can’t understand why her friend seems to be oblivious to the danger.

I can, though.

But even though I’ve tried to explain the whole concept of life journeys to her, it’s not the same as actually living through them.  It wasn’t until I was 40 that I feel like I ‘woke up’ and that was only after incredible trauma stemming from a marriage breakdown and my dad dying at the same time. Some people wake up earlier; some never do. Either way, your journey is completely your own. You may share the path with others for a short or extended time, but what you go through is entirely your own experience. Of course, we all know this to some extent but often it’s only in the theoretical sense, not the ‘feeling in your bones’ knowing.

So whilst I may give the speech of “It’s her life to do as she chooses, honey, even if you think he is a dick and most who has come into contact with him agrees with you. She has to walk this path on her own. “, my lovely, strong-willed and slightly judgie daughter won’t feel this in her bones until she’s got a few more years under her belt.

My dad always said it but the adage that ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ has never been more true to me.