Light.Bulb

Ever have that moment when reading or listening to a TED talk (weirdly specific, yes, but you’re nodding sagely, aren’t you) when a little piece of wisdom triggers complete and utter understanding?

Some days when I’m feeling like I need a boost to get in the right mindset, I scroll through my LinkedIn feed for a bit of work-based inspiration. Today was one of those days and I was not disappointed.

When she says:

There’s a world of difference between stress and disappointment or stress and that knowing dread of “I’m in the wrong career”

And suddenly my current situation makes perfect sense.

When I set my mind to do something, I give it everything. I don’t take defeat very well and am really bad at knowing when to just let it go.

So instead I find outside excuses to justify why I’m quitting.

The other day I wrote a pretty cranky post that in hindsight I feel a little ashamed of. I have never been motivated by money before as far as work goes. It’s always been about personal satisfaction. So why suddenly am I mad about money?

Bcause I’m not. I’m disappointed that I’ll never be a master at the work I’m engaged in.

I like being good at what I’m doing and being considered knowledgeable to those I work with. And in my current role, I’m really, really not. It’s subconsciously dawned on me that I never will be and the conscious me is having a wee bit of trouble trying to digest that.

So. I can either have a tanty about something that may or may not be factual and make that the reason. Or I can own up, admit that I’m in the wrong place for me and move on.

Light. Bulb.

It’s Time

For me, there comes a point in every workplace situation where I go “Ok. I’m done.” Sometimes it comes after a few weeks. Sometimes it comes after a few years.

Is it a personal flaw? Do I have commitment issues? A pathological need for constant stimulation combined with recognition? Or am I just incapable of standing still?

Who knows. I’ve come to the point in my lifecycle where I’ve almost accepted it as “just the way I am”. But always ALWAYS the point comes. Once it happens, it’s a matter of deciding what to do.

Do I keep putting up and hope that things will magically change?

Do I see what I can do to change things up internally?

Or do I look elsewhere?

I’ve slowly worked my way through the first and second options over the past 18 months (being sleep-deprived, I had not the energy to put myself out there at a new place) and still, as the Stones would yodel, satisfaction has not entirely been forthcoming.

I could gripe in detail but basically it comes down to payscale.

There. I said it.

For some reason, I feel slightly grubby for wanting to be paid more. I don’t know why that is. But I think I’m worth more.

And I’ve done my damnedest to prove worthy enough to be paid above a basic admin wage. But I guess that glass ceiling is going to haunt me here because people (and when I say ‘people’ I mean those at the top) don’t think of me as anything more.

I know things in NZ are different to Australia. I understand now why poverty is so visible here – the pay to cost of living ratio is so out of whack, it’s ridiculous.

I get paid $20k less here than I would in Australia and houses cost about 30% more (no bullshit. A 3 bedroom shithole here will put you back the same amount as a 5 bedroom refurbished Queenslander in the seaside suburb of Wynnum. I know because I’ve looked.)

But still, I have degrees and diplomas. I have a wealth of knowledge and the skill and tenacity to keep adding to that. I am conscientious and hardworking and relatively easy to get along with.

I am worth more.

So Option 3 it is.

The Black Dog is back

I’ve got that skin-crawling-uncomfortable-what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life feeling again. You know what I mean – or perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you’re perfectly happy with your life. Perhaps you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

Black dog

Or perhaps you do.

It has been a familiar companion of mine for years. Like … so long, I can’t remember the first time. It’s the claustraphobic feeling of being trapped and not knowing how to get out of it. It’s the bone-tiredness of not wanting to deal with the everyday drudge that is life. It is the dread of work the next day. Wanting to bury yourself in bed. Guilt that you’re playing the role of a person that is ‘perfectly fine’ but you’re really not. The wanting to not ‘be’.

I usually share these blog posts on Facebook because I know more people there than Twitter (no offence Twitter, but I really don’t get you) and honestly, if you didn’t Facebook it, did it really happen?

But I won’t be doing that with this one.

I don’t want my partner to see it. (Yeah, you guessed it. He’s not a Twitterer.) I feel ashamed of feeling this way. If I was to actually mouth these words out loud to him, I would feel so stupid and ungrateful and at a complete loss to explain why … just no.

He’s seen me in childbirth. I shall spare him this. Try to keep the romance from completely dying out.

Of course, my logical brain – the one that doesn’t get swayed by the huge behemoth that is emotions – knows, or at least suspects, that this is due to being in lockdown for 4 weeks.

And also spending the last 4 weeks averaging 9-10 hr days working from home on things that are slightly outside my comfort zone because of changes in circumstances (yeah-dohy), new opportunities and the desire to appear indispensible should the shizzle hit the fan for our company and hard decisions need to be made.

Ooh. That last point made me tear up. Must be the one I’m most worried about.

So yeah. Not a good place. I do strongly suspect I’m not the only one and this is indeed a traumatic experience that we are all working hard to make light of when in fact it has changed the way we work, play, view our world and plan for the future.

We had a family get-together planned for end of July. Two-thirds of my grown-up kids and my mum were coming over to spend a week in gorgeous Queenstown. We’d booked an AirBnB and paid the deposit and everything. Now we don’t know if they’ll be able to come over. Should NIH and the littlest princess and I still go down there and spend a week in a huge house, just the 3 of us? If the bans on international travel still exist, should we ask local friends if they’d like to join us? Should we see if we can get the booking postponed until another time?

These thoughts swirl around in my head. First world problems, to be sure. But damn, we’ve been planning this for a year! And we are not exactly flush with cash – it’s taken so long to gather the savings to pay for it. But I haven’t seen my grown up kids since last May. Nothing makes me feel the distance as much as now does.

And whilst I can neither confirm nor deny it, there may or may not be an impending addition to the family tree in mid-November. Will I be able to be there to support the arrival of this impending addition? It’s so hard to say – at the moment, we’re just hanging out for contactless takeaways to be reinstated.

So much emotion pressing down, it’s hard to breath at times (no covidesque pun there).

I feel like the proverbial rat in a trap, wanting to gnaw its own leg off to get out yet knowing that’s not an entirely wise course of action. Thoughts and prayers, right?

Thoughts.

And prayers.

Brave New World?

Now we all can be like the Jedi Council

I’ve been working from home since Monday and this is not totally new to me. Before moving to New Zealand I worked from home as a freelance graphic designer/administration assistant – and I liked it.

I’m self-motivated, good at setting up routines (and more or less sticking to them) and managing my time appropriately to get things done. I would make time for self as well as work. Aiming for a solid work/life balance was one of the main reasons I left the ‘rat race’ because in all honesty, when you are working for someone else their needs will always come before your own, no matter how flexible they profess to be, because they pay for your services. It’s just the way it is.

So here I am, back to working from home. And it should be ok. My partner is here to deflect, tackle and otherwise manage Little Miss (who turned 3 on the first day of Lockdown. Seems fitting, and all who know her would laugh then nod sagely) so I can get solid concentration time.

Do we all have pants on? Nobody will ever know.

But I am finding it so hard to concentrate. Maybe if it was by choice I was working from home, it would be – feel – different. But at the moment, I am struggling to find my footing, get into a rhythm …. essentially I’ve lost my mojo.

Maybe it’s the compulsive reading of news reports late into the night that builds on an already heightened level of anxiousness.

Maybe it’s the broken sleep. Not an unusual thing – Little Miss is not a champ at sleeping through and even less so at the moment. Perhaps she feels my anxiety.

Maybe it’s the not-quite-knowing what to work on, now that projects are being halted – or cancelled.

Having said that, there’s a couple of exciting opportunities that have just fallen into our laps, including offering more online workshops. Silver linings, people. Look for them.

Maybe it’s the struggle within our team to try staying connected while all working together at distance that has me feeling off-kilter.

We have many and various tools to help us stay connected in real-time. One of them is the Microsoft Teams platform – very secure with lots of cool features that we’re known of for a while but are now getting super-proficient at using (handy, since we ARE the Digital Workplace team and Microsoft Teams is our ‘schtick’).

The trick is knowing “how” connected you need to be. We have a daily Teams Hangout set up and are figuring out as we go the ettiquette that comes with having audio and web streaming.

Don’t be like Callum.

Should we streaming video all day while we sit at our desks? In some ways, it totally replicates working together in the same room – you can see if someone is away from their desk or in another meeting – but unlike working in physical proximity, it feels way more intrusive.

Or maybe that’s just my age showing. I think my boys do this kind of thing all the time (gamers) but for me it feels slightly strange.

Today I’ve taken the option to be “in” the Team Hangout but with both my video and mic turned off and my music on. So they know I’m here and it’s a simple “hey” or message to let me know they want to talk but not streaming myself to them finally makes me feel a little better – a little more focused and calm – than I have all week.

And since my wifi was playing up a little this morning, I feel safe using that excuse if questioned (not that I think they would – we’re all in this together and everyone is respectful of each persons’ coping mechanisms).

How about you? Are you fortunate enough to be working from home? I am so very aware that there are those losing their livelihoods over this. And there are those on the front line, taking the risk of catching Covid-19 in order to support the rest of us with life essentials or take care of the sick and suffering. By comparision, I am extremely fortunate.

This is merely a transition to another way of doing business.

And it’s important for me – for us – to remember that.

Pound of flesh

Last night (or rather, in the wee hours of this morning) I had a disturbingly vivid dream that I was slicing a huge strip of flesh off my leg.

In this dream, I said out loud to someone near me (I have no idea who) that the initial cutting hurt but once you got underneath to the fat, it was pretty easy.

Then I proceeded to show them and I could feel it. I can feel it now … the pain of the slice of the blade across the top of my thigh then the numbness setting in and not feeling a thing as I watched myself slice under the flap and downwards towards the knee (although, weirdly, it looked like the view someone else would have watching me do it).

The fat was pure white and not as thick as I would have expected. It actually all looked like a piece of pork belly roast you buy at the butchers – pink and smooth.

Recalling it makes me feel slightly ill and I wonder what on earth kind of game my subconscious brain is playing at.

The toddler is not sleeping and I wonder if that’s got something to do with it. She goes down ok but after a few hours she’s awake and into our bed. If we move her back and settle her, it’s not long until she’s up again and crawling back in.

We wouldn’t mind co-sleeping but she is so restless, kicking off the sheets and blankets or kicking us, that we’re all sleep-deprived as a result – although she seems way chirpier in the mornings than we do.

Last night it took me 2 hours to get her to go to sleep. Then she was awake not long after I went to bed so I once again mentally steeled myself, took her back in and lay down beside her. At 3am, I tried coming back into my own bed but just lay there in despair, not being able to fall back into sweet unconsciousness.

As it turned out, it wasn’t long until she was in with us.

I lay there on my side sobbing silently with exhaustion until finally falling into that disturbing dream.

It’s been 3 years since I had regular, decent sleep.

I feel like this is my sleep life forever.

I don’t know if people at work understand what I really mean when I say I’m tired.

I don’t view going to bed as rest and revitalisation but rather the beginning of an 8 hour battle for survival.

In actual fact, I kind of dread it.

I’m not sure how much more I can take.

Habit Forming

Sorry guys.

I’ve been struggling for weeks to write the second part of my career path and it’s still not suitable for broadcast. I’m onto edit number 4, trying vainly to cut out all the self-serving, woe-is-me-life-was-super-hard-back-then stuff whilst still retaining some sort of context that would explain the positively crazy off-shoots into other work dimensions.

I’ll get there, I promise.

As an interlude, here’s my latest venture: a mandala a day. And here’s why I’m:

  1. Doing it
  2. Telling you
Day 1 … and not a lot to show for it.

Whilst awaiting my latest credit on Audible (this is not a sponsored post [HA! As if!] – I’m just an addict), I was browsing the list of freebies today on my lunchtime walk and came across an intriguing little podcast called “In the habit: introduction to changing our behaviour“.

Having a whole day to wait til I can get me some more ear candy, I downloaded it and started listening and very soon realised it’s the answer I’ve been looking for lately with regards to staying sane in a stressful period of life.

Yesterday we went to the Annual Pirongia Craft Markets – a truly cool event that we stumbled upon our first year here and have made a traditional pilgrimage to ever since. There were some truly amazing and beautiful handiworks from just regular shmoes like me, which got me thinking about my creativity or lack thereof so when we came home I tried in vain to do something mildly original and creative using my graphic design programs.

Rather than satisfy my longing, it just frustrated me no end. I couldn’t do what I wanted – it would have to be hand-drawn. But ah, dear readers – am I skilled at drawing? About as much as I am at keeping my mouth shut and opinions to myself.

Of course, it takes practice and dedication. It takes setting aside regular time to perfect and hone existing skills. It takes … a habit.

According to scientific studies, it takes on average 66 days to create a new habit, not the usual 21 that’s regularly trotted out. And whilst it is proven to be harder to create good habits than bad ones, there are a few tips and tricks that can help.

You can try linking your prospective new habit to something you already do regularly, such as mealtimes. For instance, I started my lunchtime walks as a way of counteracting the desire to punch someone in the face when I had 5 different jobs on and no way of getting them all done in the given timeframes. I’d go for a good 45 minute walk, calm the F**K down then eat my lunch at my desk whilst getting back into all of the things.

Now I just do it because it makes me feel good. And, I must confess, so I can listen to my latest audiobook – which nicely segues into the next tip: Temptation Bundling.

It’s a nerdy way of saying “Combine something you love with something you should be doing but don’t really want to because you don’t love it”. Like watching that trashy movie you know is a waste of time whilst you fold the mountain of washing. It’s a win=win! You get your trash fulfilment and the family has clothes in the cupboard instead of on the floor/couch/spare bed/spare room.

Another useful tip for successfully creating a good habit is by making it public knowledge, which explains this blog post.

A final tip was to put some money on it – there’s even commitment platforms like stickK that can help you reach your goals … or pay the consequences. Literally.

I’m not going that far as we are currently like the proverbial church mice.

And because it’s now 9.30pm on the first Monday after Daylight Saving started, I think I’m already going to fail my “one a day” challenge as I’m buggered … but at least I’ve made a start. I’ll keep you updated … hopefully this won’t go the same way as my Part 2 😛

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It would be fair to say I get around job-wise. Throughout my illustrious working career I have had the opportunity to experience so many roles – some wonderful; some not so much. The following has turned into a bit of a novel so I’ve split it into two: BCH (Before Crap Happened) and ACH (think you can figure what that stands for). Brace yourselves.

I find myself on yet another “step-to-the-right” in the dance laughingly called my ‘career path’ (more like drunken stagger) – still at the same workplace but using a different, more technical skill-set to the administrative/marketing role I’ve been filling for the past 18 months. I’m a little nervous but mainly excited about it but if you look at the experiences I’ve had over the past *cough* wee while, there’s many things I’ve already done that should help me pick it up and run with it fairly quickly.

My working career (outside of the usual after-school shenanigans) started way back in 1991 as a Coles Deli Assistant, working my way up to 2IC (which just meant I got the lucky task of coming in super-early on a Monday morning to get the rotisserie chickens cranking and set up the cabinet for the week and do the scale report to make sure we weren’t diddling the customers). Then we moved to Sydney, added a second baby to the family and I began my library studies, which led to the first twist in my path.

Had a lady haughtily demand EXACTLY 1kg of sausages “No more; no less, young lady!”. My face probs looked like his.

After moving all over the country, we landed in a small town in WA, where (on the second attempt) I became Library Officer at the Primary School two of my three kids attended (yep, quite a gap there between paid jobs). I loved this job dearly and it’s still the longest stint in one workplace in the same role (4 years). It was pretty perfect – school hours and school holidays but none of the responsibilities of a teacher (poor sods – I have so much respect for teachers from my time working with them in schools) as well as the pleasure of scouring through reviews to pick all the books.

I vividly recall reading the review for “Harry Potter and the Philosophers’ Stone” and knew it would be a hit but was unsure if it would be too hard for the kids (poor town; struggling/itinerant families; lots of behavioural issues). I ordered two copies, thinking if nothing else it would be perfect for teachers to read aloud and ended up having a waiting list of kids clamouring to read it and having to buy a few extra copies to keep up with demand. The second time I remember purchasing a book as part of my role and thinking “This is gonna be HUGE” and being proven right was for – you may know it – the first in a 4 part series called “Twilight”.

The cover in the review I read for “Twilight”. Weird, huh.

During this time I also was a casual Woolworths Cash Office Administrator on weekends. I scratch my head at this memory, wondering why on earth I did this, with three kids and already working five days a week – then I remember the expectations and mindset I was living under at the time and it makes sense. Taught me to count money real fast and honed my OCD for all notes facing the same way in neat and tidy bundles.

New town in a new state, and of course the school system was different – I had to be a teacher to work in a school library – and the local Public Library was not going to be hiring any time soon. After a brief and terrible stint as a Learning Coordinator for a state government funded adult learning centre (which didn’t actually have a building for the centre – just a room in another state government funded centre which just made it all sorts of awkward and complicated), I got lucky, scoring a job as a part-time Typesetter/Graphic Designer at the local newspaper, with no prior experience apart from the fact I was comfortable with computers, could spell and had done a module of study in my library technician’s diploma on colour design and basic formatting of promotional collateral.

We hid a coworkers’ Bionicle that sat on his computer and sent him ransom notes with accompanying Bionicle parts as part of regular newspaper office shenanigans. He was most displeased with us.

After a time I did manage to get a position as a casual Library Officer at the local library, covering shifts on Saturdays and sometimes their one late opening night per week. It was a good gig. I was studying for my Bachelor of Library Science at the time (while still working at the newspaper cause apparently I had 35 hours in a day back then), so it gave me great opportunities to put theory into practice and vice versa.

I almost blanked out the three years I spent as Library Technician for the local TAFE college after leaving the newspaper to do some full-time (but short-lived) study for a teaching degree (that’s a whole other post in itself). TAFE was a great learning experience as my manager was a great mentor willing to share her years of experience with me. Sure, she was the quintessential cranky librarian and scared the bejesus out of most people but she treated me very well … and she was so nice to my kids (as well as being a complete push-over with her own. Softie at heart.) that I couldn’t not like her. But working for State Government was a long, slow death and I did not want to slowly evolve into the quintessential cranky librarian.

How I imagine I’d look now if I’d stayed …

So I left full-time employment at a very decent government pay rate and moved onto the local Catholic High School as a part-time Library Officer … not sure how I passed the interview with regards to religious beliefs for that one but somehow I did. It was ridiculously low pay for a fully qualified librarian at $15 an hour but I loved the school ethos – they really cared about their students – and of course, the kids were great to work with.

But then … the “eccentric” (i.e. batshit crazy) … library manager at the Public Library left, which led to my next big break.

As Library Manager in a regional library service – one main branch, one teeny-tiny little room in a very interested area known as the Gemfields – I had the responsibility of managing staff for the first time as well as being accountable for a substantial budget. Exciting, scary and very difficult at times but I loved every minute of it … ok, not the minutes I had to ‘have a talk’ with certain persons for upsetting the applecart every time they walked into the place … but the rest of it was great. Honestly, after the last manager’s crazy antics and passive-aggressive management style, I did not have to do much to look fantastic – and I thank her for that, wherever she is.

Then Peter Beatty did his thing and ruined my perfect little life in more ways than one. This career sidetrack led me straight up Poop Creek and onto Poop city …

That’s not how you flip an entire state the bird, Pete.

After March 15 2008 (yep, I still remember the date), the council I was working for was amalgamated with three other surrounding shires into one giant mega-council. It covered an area of roughly 60,000 sq. kilometres with offices spread out at roughly one-hour-drive intervals from each other. That and the fact each office had its own unique culture made it seriously dysfunctional Due to the necessary restructure, I was offered the role of Manager Community Services. To this day, I’m not sure why. I guess I’d proved myself capable of management to a degree in the previous 8 months as Library Manager.

Just managing the shenanigans of the library service growing from 2 branches to 10 would have been enough challenge. But instead I had to take on Community Services, a portfolio which included libraries, pools (dear god, I shudder just thinking about pools), halls, art galleries, aged care facilities, youth facilities and – best of all – community groups. I want to say it was THE WORST decision I ever made but circumstances being what they were at the time, I felt I had no choice but to accept. Nine months later, I had what you could nicely refer to as “a spiritual awakening” but what most people would call a nervous breakdown. Even though my heart knew I really shouldn’t have taken that job, the advantage of hindsight shows that I actually learnt a lot and grew so very much from that complete and utter personal and professional smackdown of an experience. Let’s just call it a Turning Point and leave it at that.

#Accurate

While I was recovering sufficiently to be able to deal with the stresses of a ‘normal life’ again, Lady Luck smiled upon me and I found myself working from home as a Freelance Proofreader for a friend, proofing advertising collateral for various big name companies. Not a huge amount but enough to give me ‘pin’ money and help my severely battered self-esteem compose itself. It also gave me a taste for the freelance life and I really liked it.

But life was about to deal a few shockers and I was going to need more regular work … (to be continued)

Letting my hair down …

Last Thursday evening I finally treated myself to a slightly belated “F*&k it, I’m 50” hair overhaul, getting the length chopped off to just under the chin and a warm reddish brown recolour that included little red slashes here and there for dramatic effect.

I haven’t actually had a hair pampering since we left Australia 3.5 years ago, instead “surviving” on the $30 walk-in; walk-out hairdresser at The Warehouse and grocery-bought DIY hair dye kits. Needless to say I really soaked up the 2 hours of chatting with the hairdresser, reading a mag, sipping on wine and generally just enjoying the “me” time.

There’s a couple of reasons I haven’t done the usual 6 – 8 weekly proper hairdresser cut/dye visit:

  1. Money
  2. Busy
  3. The pain of finding a decent hairdresser

Of all of them, it’s probably Number 3 that has truly kept me away this long. I have learnt from bitter experience that it’s pretty tough finding a new hairdresser that doesn’t cost the earth; who actually listens to what you want AND knows how to cut your hair so you’re not praying for it to grow overnight or for hats to suddenly come into fashion.

The Warehouse lady has usually been sufficient but the last two visits … I dunno .. it’s like she’s lost her touch. The last visit in particular I asked to keep the length so I could have the option of an ‘up-do’ for the Princess’s wedding (yes, my eldest child is now a married woman! But that’s another blog post altogether …) and just put a few layers in there to lighten it up and give a bit of movement to it.

I may be slightly exaggerating here but the end result kinda felt like this …

Thankfully, I don’t feel like I’m channeling Joe Dirt or Warwick Capper anymore. But now I’ve found a lovely hairdresser, that’s it. I’m committed to a regular relationship every 2 – 3 months (depending on how long I can push it out for/finance levels/time restraints).

Lucky I did well in my recent performance review at work …

Time and Space for Creativity

Bottom half of a boho dreamcatcher with flowers and feathers
The last time I was really creative …

I haven’t posted an update for so long as its finally dawned on me that you need time and space to be creative. And I just don’t have it. Or at least what precious little I do have, I’m busy numbing myself to cope with the time and space I don’t have.

Let me explain …

I was going to actually total up all the time I spend working at a full time job plus the daily commute plus home duties (thankfully assisted greatly by NIH where Little Miss is concerned) then add in the night-time shenanigans of putting her back to bed from midnight til 3am on average but that is just too bloody depressing.

Let’s just say a full time job plus a toddler who doesn’t sleep leaves me with precious little mental ‘space’ for creativity.

I starting thinking about this post a few weeks ago – then the shit hit the proverbial with illness on the home front and whatever small space I was going to allow myself to try crafted a halfway intelligent post vanished.

So here I am (waiting for AA to come and reboot our car battery because life wasn’t finished being a complete and utter bitch obviously) trying to spew out what is *really* bothering me about not being creative for the last 6 months or so. And it all boils down to this: Joy.

Creativity brings you joy. And life at the moment feels rather bereft of it.

Work is a bit of a mess of three different role responsibilities that have me trying valiantly to make sure I don’t drop any balls whilst surviving on broken sleep for I can’t even fucking remember how long. I can see the mistakes popping up and it breaks my perfectionist little heart and I just pray that workmates don’t think I’m a complete idiot but in all honesty, I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing most days.

Home is fine except for the fact that a toddler is always going to be an emotional stretch … but I can feel the physical and spiritual effects of not sleeping an uninterrupted 8 hours – damn, I would settle for even a 6 hour block – for over 2 years taking its toll on me.

Money is real tight, thanks to having a mortgage back home still to pay while we hope and pray the house will finally sell. Rent here is much higher than Australia and pay rates are so much lower so that puts us even more behind the 8-ball. I mean, we still manage to pay our bills on time and buy groceries and have leftover cash for a breakfast out each weekend so it’s not completely dire … it’s just extra stress on top of an already stressed-out mind.

Whatever time and space I do have, I play puzzle games on my phone.

I know, right?

I was trying to figure out why I do that the other day and something Brene Brown said in her Netflix appearance helped me understand. (Yes, I have become a convert. Yes, I have downloaded and listened to her book “Daring Greatly”, which I think is why I’m doing all this self-analysis again. Yes, I am probably going to mention her frequently from here on out.)

She was talking about how her first TED talk went viral and she found it so hard to handle that she spent a day at home with the peanut butter jar and a spoon, watching the complete series of “Downton Abbey” (if I didn’t love her for making sense of courage and vulnerability, I would have loved her for that alone). And after it was over, she started googling facts and figures from that era and hit on Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech about the man in the arena and the rest, as they say, is history.

She asked the audience something along the lines of :

“Who-all [cause she’s from Texas] has done that?”

“You’re numbing yourself with a show or a movie and you’re not ready to step back into the real world when it’s over so you start searching for related stuff on the internet?”

Ahh.

I play the games to numb myself. To just switch off and ignore the stresses in my life – of which I do acknowledge there could be far more and perhaps I’m just tired and a tad whiny today. Someone should put me to bed.

And because of the numbing plus the stresses, I just don’t have the time/space/energy to be creative anymore.

If I really want some more joy in my life, I think this needs to stop.

The Flop Factor

I know it’s smart to start getting regular mammograms done once you turn 45 but what with getting teenage boys over the finish line to adulthood, getting remarried, getting IVF, getting pregnant then having a baby (what seemed like) permanently attached to the ‘girls’ for 18 months, I found it hard to find the time … until last Friday.

Despite having a close friend who had a brush with breast cancer and knowing all the stats, I didn’t actively seek out a mammogram once all my excuses had dried up (so to speak). However, a simple throat infection and a visit to the doctor about a month ago saw me put firmly on the Breast Screening list and lined up for an appointment.

Now I’d heard a few reviews regarding mammograms, particularly with the words “extreme discomfort” and “mashed boobs” featuring regularly so I was prepared for a bit of pain. Imagine my surprise when it was all over bar the shouting in a few minutes with the only discomfort coming from trying to hold my breath AND my stomach in at the same time.

Which has me wondering … is there a Flop Factor at play here? I can imagine if your fun bags are nice and firm and well adhered to your chest area that it might be a little harder to get them in between the two panels and the pressure may be more easily felt than say if your boobs, once let loose of their wire-reinforced hammocks, kinda oozed onto the bottom panel and obligingly made squishy under the top one so the radiologist could snap a clear shot with ease.

Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve experienced REAL breast-related pain – those first few weeks of breastfeeding where I truly feared my nipples would just drop off due to struggles with latching then the last few weeks of breastfeeding where I truly feared my nipples would be clean bitten off due to an overzealous, teething toddler.

After that, a little clamping between two plates is more like a walk in the park … just with your shirt off.