Self care

Since I have moved to town and begun working with vulnerable & abused women I have been introduced to the notion of self care.
In our training we were taught that self care is vitally important.
After so many years of putting myself and my needs second, or third – actually probably more than 12th in line this was sort of a new concept for me.

I have spent so many years being strong, the one that everyone depends on, the one that gets things done, the busy one.
I didn’t realise until about 5.5 years ago when my brain said enough and I had a major breakdown.
I had no idea what was happening to me until a friend asked me a question.
Do you think you might be depressed?
Seriously  – me depressed!
I dont ‘do’ depressed!
I haven’t got time for that nonsense :-/
But, her question & concern stopped me in my tracks and I took the plunge and went to my Dr.
That in itself was a major exercise at the time.
Anyway, the upshot was, for the first time in my entire life I was able to tell someone about the extensive sexual and emotional abuse I endured for over 10 years of my childhood.
And from there I began my healing.
It has not been easy, it is never easy to open old and deep wounds and expose them.
In fact it is very scary.
I was, and am, a mother of many, and a wife, running businesses alongside my man.
Life was busy.
I had not realised that busyness is one of the ways that abuse victims ‘use’ to ‘forget’ what has happened to them.
Not that you ever ever forget!
Life didn’t get any easy with this disclosure, in fact it got a hell of a lot harder.
My journey of self discovery has been incredibly tumultuous.
I have discovered who my true friends are.
Part of my self preservation has been learning to close the door on those who can’t or won’t support me and to embrace those who can and do.

My therapist has been flabbergasted over the years as one historic trauma after another is disclosed as well as more stress and trauma that has occurred along the way since then.
She commented to me one day that my PTSD was incredibly complex.
I picture my traumas over the years as pieces of string, they have knotted together and through time have wound themselves into a very big ball of string.
Hence the name of this new blog 🙂
I am slowly unraveling and dealing with each piece, unknotting, unraveling,  and using them to weave a new garment.
My new garment is going to be stunningly gorgeous and of course the predominant colour will be Orange 🙂

So back to self care.
For me this has not happened overnight.
It has been quite a journey.
Slowly slowly, baby steps, three steps forward and one back, sometimes it has felt like four back!!

My self care began with mending my mind.
Learning how to process what has happened, how it has affected me and the way I deal with situations and then to relearn new ways, more healthy ways of approaching similar situations.
This takes time and I am ever so grateful to have found a therapist who has worked with me gently over the past 5 years.

Physical rest has also been important.
I have pushed myself for so long, the subconscious need to keep busy to bury everything sort of busy.
When Tim was killed my body stopped.
I was literally unable to do anything but go through the motions.
I stopped cooking, reading, listening to music, art……
I literally shut down and spent most of my time hiding in my room watching brainless movies.

Then I ran away.
I took my two youngest and we ran away.
It really wasn’t a conscious decision.
It just happened, but it was a good happening.
We spent most part of a year on the move.
We had some amazing adventures and did some much needed bonding and healing.
It was a very precious time for us all.
It resulted in us moving to town and away from my most recent pain of losing our main man.

One of the first things I did was to apply for a partially voluntary job with SASH Nelson.
It was pretty daunting applying for the first job in nearly 40 years.
But the cool thing was that I was accepted to be a part of the Crisis Response Team.
Becoming part of the team has played a huge part in my healing journey.
My team mates are the most awesome girls, they have become members of my new Village.
It was through this job that I have learnt much more about the importance of self care.
Plus I am able to help support others because I have an empathy and understanding with them.
And helping them is helping me – win win 🙂

And now to now!
Where am I at now?
Well, I am kickin’ arse.
I am so incredibly proud of myself.
I still have down days, days where the tears rule, where I hit the floor in a sobbing heap.
But those days are less frequent.
I have days where I am incredibly lonely, but I am learning to reach out.
I am in a much stronger headspace.
And being in a stronger headspace has given me the ability to focus on my physical being.
Living in the central city on the flat has allowed me to gradually build up my fitness levels.
Due to a lot of injuries both historic and recent my body has been rather battered so walking has been good therapy.
I have restored my soul by wandering around the river and roads with the puppy, discovering new places and friends.
Recently I felt in the right place & ready, so have joined up with a local gym & pool.
It is 10 years since I did any serious gym work.
I have really enjoyed going down there first thing most mornings and getting a good cardio session going.
The trainers have put together a programme for me in the weights room, and after just a month I am feeling so damn good.
I am not focusing on weight loss, just getting my body toned and functioning again.
Yesterday I was very conscious that all my jeans were getting very loose and quite baggy – not really the look I like – so I popped in to see the girls at JeansWest and they helped me find some new jeans.
Unbelievable – I have gone from size 14 down to size 11.
I haven’t been that size in about 28 years!!
This morning, I am feeling really buzzed from my Vitamin G(ym) fix this morning.
In fact I am feeling frickin’ fantastic  🙂
This self care stuff is actually pretty damn good.
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Food Glorious Food

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Food is a huge focus in most folks lives.
It’s a pretty important thing.
And everyone has a view point about food.
Some don’t care, they just eat anything and everything.
Some care fixatedly and are extremely particular.
Some have deadly allergies
Some have intolerances
Some are just plain picky and ride on the back of those who have those allergies.

Me, well I just like food.
But I am very particular as well.
My food has to be good.
Really good!
I won’t pay for crappy fast food unless that is the absolute last option and I am at deaths door!

I have cooked and baked nutritious delicious food all my married life.
I have literally fed armies, fed the multitudes.
But when Tim was killed, my spirit to cook died too.
My confidence disappeared.
I relied on the kids to produce many of our meals.
It’s take me a while to get back on the planet in that regards.
Now we are off the farm and usually only 2-4 of us at home our meals have changed, simplified.
I use a lot of vegetables and not a lot of meat.
Because one of us is vegetarian, I tend to cook around her and then add meat according to what rest of us want or need.
And actually, I am finding that I don’t need or want a lot of meat any more.
I am ‘fussy’ in some respects which makes it so easy when I go out.
I don’t eat pork or venison because I don’t like it and I don’t eat mutton or lamb because no-one can cook it like Tim did 😉
I also try and keep my food as unprocessed as possible.
And I keep my sugar intake to a minimum.
I’m not religious about it, I have done being a slave to it.
Food is to be enjoyed, but in that enjoyment I try and make wise choices.

In our city house we have an oven which I am not familiar with, I hate using it, and can only usually succeed to get it operating if Mahalia is here to operate the switches!
So I cook mainly using the mini bench oven, the slow cookers, the rice cooker and heavy cast iron cookware on the gas stove.
We live on salads and stir fries of varying combinations depending on the seasons, combining them with potatoes in many disguises, noodles, rice, buns, etc.
The slow cooker is also a brilliant stand by, I can prepare a nutritious economical meal which can often last us for more than several days, once again combining with whichever carb you choose to make each meal different & interesting.

I don’t need to turn out great quantities of baking anymore so 6 muffins cook nicely in the mini oven.
These were made to Mahalia’s request using pumpkin puree, halloumi cheese and toasted seeds.
They tasted really good!
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And when you have roast veggies left over what better way to use them up than bubble and squeak with some organic farm eggs lovingly squeezed from Marah’s chooks by my gorgeous little grand daughters 🙂
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But being in the city also has another benefit.
We can eat other peoples cooking more often!
There are some wonderful cafes & restaurants here.
I especially love the cafe culture, the diverse range, the outdoor & street seating that our climate allows us to enjoy.
The thing I love about eating out is sharing.
Sharing time with friends.
Taking time out of the busyness of life and just stopping.
I love nothing better than to meet with a friend and spend time enjoying their company along with good food and great coffees.
I love exploring and finding new treasure troves, and returning to old favourites.
There’s one or three I have frequented recently deserve a mention –

The Baker’s Coffee Shop makes excellent coffees & exquisite pastries onsite.
Mahalia and I treated ourselves the other day, it is probably not a place I need to go too often because the pastries are just wickedly wonderful and self restraint is extremely difficult 😉
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7010 Your Local is another fav.
The cool thing here is that the food is different every day.
But each time it is just so good.
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I have to make particular mention of the relatively new La Capilla Restaurant.
Owners by head chef Takeshi, one of the best chefs in our region.
I recently took my lad out there for a special lunch.
He said it was absolutely the best meal ever as he pretty much licked his plate clean 🙂
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And of course, being a special lunch we couldn’t leave without sampling one of Takeshi’s delicious deserts each.
SO good!
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The other absolute fav place of ours is East Street Vegetarian Cafe & Bar.
If I want to keep Mahalia happy I just suggest going there for lunch, or dinner, or dessert, or…….. any excuse really and she is very happy 🙂
It has the reputation of being the best vegetarian restaurant in NZ and I agree whole heartedly.
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The ambience is retro and funky, the staff are super cool and the food is awesome.
Double thumbs up to this place.
Mains are exceptional and desserts are pretty darned good too.img_9824img_9825

A cafe that I don’t get too that often as it is on the other side of town is Blackbird Eatery.
It is tucked away inside a local gym and as it is only a couple of minutes further to the airport it is worth leaving a bit earlier for your flight so you can fuel up on the way.
It focuses on raw and fresh foods.
I was heading to the airport so enjoyed a get together with two of my girls here last week.
We did the afternoon tea sweet thing, the brownies were made from gf, df ingredients and were divine but we shoulda divided two among three of us as one each was a bit much for our relatively sugar free bodies.
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I popped down to Christchurch this week.
It was a very impromptu visit so I didn’t rush about catching up with everyone like I often do.
Pretty much focused on the business to hand and getting some much needed rest.
But I did manage to share a couple of meals out whilst there.
A pre show snack at Rendezvous Hotel’s Junction Bar before going to Evita.
Everyone else was eating platters of deep fried bar food.
As I said further back, I am personally trying to make good choices and too much deep fried or sugary food is not a good choice for me right now.
This beetroot salad was wonderful, the buffalo yoghurt and hazel nuts mixed with roast onion and beetroot was just perfect.
What I really liked was that they were willing to accomodate my preferences and swap some ingredients for another.
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I do have a couple of concessions which include the occasional glass of cider and a mocha.
The cider must not be apple, anything but apple!
And the mocha has got to be good – very hot, not lukewarm and milky -eeewk!
I walked on the Wildside with Nathan and enjoyed a Mandarin & Lime Cider while had had an Asahi beer.
He tried to convert me, but no, beers for me.
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Joe’s Garage in Rangiora was our second choice for dinner.
But as the first choice was closed for staff training we opted for Joe’s.
It was a good choice.
Not too crowded while we were there so fairly peaceful, staff were great and the food was pretty darned good.
Nathan proclaimed the steak to be perfectly to his liking and my salmon was delectable.
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I could not leave Joe’s without having a Killer Smoothie so had that for dessert.
My goodness, they are the absolute best smoothies.
Ever since my first one at the Sumner Joe’s Garage many years ago it is top of my menu choice whenever I have the fortune to find myself there.
It is basically yoghurt with black doris plums & honey.img_0155

Basically when it comes down to it, there is really nothing that surpasses sharing good food with good friends.
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Daring greatly during difficult days

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When you think the absolute worst thing to happen to you has already happened, yet another curved ball comes from left field and totally blind sides you.

In my current emotionally exhausted melancholic state I look back over my nearly 60 years and can readily recall some of the largest curved balls that have smashed into me. In amongst them smaller balls which hit with slightly less aggressive force and their bruises are sometimes not terribly visible until a trigger prompts their memory.

These balls have battered and bruised me. Some have near killed me. But I have always picked myself up, reached down, picked up the ball and run with it. Trying to run with the weight of these balls adding up over the years have resulted in a medical diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.

In recent times I’ve been pitched some huge balls that have hit me fair in the gut. Smashed the wind clean out of me. Left me wondering how on earth I can carry on.

But I did, and I do. My natural instinct has been to recoil inwards, hold my pain, cradle it tight like a precious child, protecting it, kicking out at anyone who dares to come near, fighting, fighting, fighting for……. fighting for what?

Fighting to protect my vulnerability. Fighting to prevent more hurt, more pain. Because after all, if you don’t allow anyone in then you can’t get hurt again. Right?

Wrong.

Brené Brown taught me that by exposing my vulnerability I gain strength.

How?

By exposing my desperate needs, my hurts, my pain, learning to trust, I slowly rebuild my village.

When those massive curved balls smash into you they break the protective walls that surrounded you, they don’t just batter you but they send your village scattering. Leaving only one or two of your tribe behind if you’re lucky.

It is then you make your choices. Run and hide, head for the hills, curl up in a ball, stay alone, protect yourself….

or reach out, find empathy, build strength, learn to trust, abandon shame, tell your story,

It takes a while to rebuild, to create a new village, foundation bricks are tested, ones who prove to be trustworthy and strong are added to the new foundations, the ones who are not are cast aside. You tentatively reach out, test the waters, learn who to trust, each brick in place adds more strength. A new village is constructed. Your new tribe rises to surround and support you. A tribe that is prepared to cover your back, to stand alongside, to encourage, empower, support, and no matter what, love you no matter what.

A tribe you can stand sweaty, strong & bloodied in the arena with – a tribe who will dare greatly with you!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Teddy Roosevelt 1910

Christine’s visit

I had a delightful couple of days with Christine recently.
She flew in one Friday morning.
It was a feast of friends and food.
First port of call was to visit Roni and admire the view of the snow topped Richmond Ranges from her apartment while she smooched up large wiht Malo.
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Barely home and we met Sue who had just walked Caspian.
She & Christine are old acquaintances so they walked to cafe 7010.
I joined them a tad later.
Lovely to sit in the sun and enjoy some lunch.
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For dinner Mahalia and I took her off to East Street Cafe to try and convert her to vegetarian ways.
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After we did justice to these amazing meals she was sold.
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We had to share two deserts cuz we were too full for three!img_9824img_9825

Afterwards we took her for a night time explore to the cathedral.
It is so beautiful at night.
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Next morning Mahalia went to rowing and then met Martin & Sylvia at the market.
We found them sitting like waifs and strays…
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so took pity on them and went to Suter for coffee.img_9912 img_9915img_9917

We walked home the long way stopping to chat with Gay and admire her arty garden.
She took the Sunday morning bus back to Christchurch but due to a horrific road accident they were diverted so she had a very scenic route home.

It was a lovely time – Christine loved our new home and my friends she met all passed muster.
Total seal of approval 😉

Loving my garden

We moved here in the spring – almost 2 years ago.
That first spring was spent demolishing the garden.
We are now 2 springs on from when the landscaping & replanting began.

Early September and the peaches and nectarine trees are beginning to blossom.
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Barely 2 weeks later and they are smothered in pink.
I hope this gloriousness means lots of fruit 🙂img_0009
Random splashes of colour are brightening the section
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The only tree left from the original front garden is the old lemon and it has bounced back with abundance from it’s very severe pruning.
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This morning I spent a couple of hours weeding and adding more plants to my under the jacaranda forest floor garden.
It is looking so lush and wonderful.
Just have to ensure the puppies stay out.
I have it fenced off because Caspian tears through it when chasing passers by on the other side of the fence.
He pays no regard whatsoever for my labour of love.img_0010img_0115  img_0116
On the other side of the boardwalk I’ve added some more hellebores along the back so hoping for lots of wonderful winter roses next year.
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And now there is spring rain gently watering – it was a timely planting session.

Farewells and welcomes

I returned home Friday, only to farewell our lovely Sibylle the next morning.
She has been an absolute joy to host and slotted into our family so easily.
We are sure gonna miss you, you bundle of Swiss sweetness xxxx
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Lenore & Ross had enjoyed their time with her & Mahalia as well.
They had been out on a few adventures sussing out some of the local scenic spots.
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We welcomed Anja a few hours later.
Also from Switzerland, and also had problems with connecting flights into Nelson.
But she eventually arrived and all is well.

Sunday morning I roused Azzan from his slumbers and we all went out to Melrose House for brunch.
It was a rainy day but still pleasant enough to sit out on the verandah.
The cafe is under new management but the food is still spectacularly wonderful.
The staff were delightful, made some new friends whilst connecting with them 🙂
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Mahalia was bemoaning having to share her smoothie with yet another flower.
Flowers everywhere amongst her food.
But so pretty Halia 😉img_9743 img_9744
The man of the house easily tucked away a decently proper man sized breakfast.img_9752
This beautiful young woman holds a very special part of my heart  xxximg_9754
Azzan headed off into the showery elements to walk the Grampians…. mmmm, maybe meeting friends was a preferable option which he quickly opted for  😉
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We took Anja for a tiki tour in the rain and ended up languishing on the floor in John & Sally’s lounge, in front of their fire.
It was very cosy 😉
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Phoebe & Sapphie came for a visit the next day.
Sapphire enjoyed some story book time with Nonna.
It’s not often she stays still enough so I made the most of it 😉
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Ross & Lenore packed up and said their farewells and headed south back to their land of normality.
It was so lovely having them here.
Thanks so much for all your help, and I am glad you were able to have a break, rest up and recover from your jet lag.

I am pretty much over mine now and reality is hitting :-/

Final farewells

We were up very early.
said goodbye to Evan at 6am, then Jesika and I were out the door by 6:30am.
Half an hour later I dropped her at work and took her car for a jaunt further north up the motorway.img_9650
I arrived at Jac’s in time to see Isaac before he headed off to school which was a lovely bonus.img_9654
Jan and I spent the rest of the day together which was a wonderfully special ending to my week.

At 2:30pm I had to do a mad scramble out the door and back down the motorway to pick Jesika up from work by 3pm.
We had a couple of hours left so went to a nearby mall and hung out.
Then to the airport, checked in my bag and with plenty of time up my sleeve Jesika took me upstairs to visit her Virgin Airline friends from her previous life.
It was so lovely to meet them and see where she has been spending so much of her time until recently.

All too soon it was time for me to disappear through the security barrier.
So some last minute selfies with my girl.img_9697 img_9698 img_9699 img_9700 img_9703
Sad to be leaving, but I will be back!!
Love you my darling one xxxx

The day was fading as I waited to board.
Farewell Perth, it’s been short but very sweet.
A very necessary and appreciated break from my normal normality.img_9704

My last night in WA

We took the afternoon off and retreated to the darkness of the movie theatre.
Apart from the two heads way down below we had the whole place to ourselves.
Which was actually good because we laughed and laughed out loud and nearly peed ourselves laughing while we rolled in the aisles some more 🙂
The movie – Bad Moms.
If you haven’t seen it you absolutely have to.
It is a life changer 🙂 🙂 🙂
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Then it was back home to organise my last supper.
It was a good night.
Sam came.
Which raised the tone immensely 😉
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The party stuff was still a happening!
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I was doubly delighted because Rory and Alaine were able to join us.
It was ultra special to meet my distant cousins in the flesh.img_9629 img_9630 img_9631 img_9633
It was a delightful evening.
Very relaxed, lots of chat and good food and great company.

East West Design

We were cruising up the street searching for interesting places to go when I spotted this building and called for a fast halt to the vehicle so I could zip out and take some photos of these amazing murals that spanned the whole front and round one side.
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We soon discovered that this humungous building houses 2 acres of the most wonderful treasure trove.
East West Design is the largest retail outlet in the southern hemisphere.
We disappeared into the belly of the proverbial whale and were soon drooling with desire and gasping with delight.
These photo do not do it justice.
I was scheming and dreaming as to how I could afford to fill a shipping container with all the wonderful items I was falling in love with.
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I could only partially see this hunky door but was absolutely certain it would look fantabulous set into my back door 😉
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It was a veritable paradise filled with objects of desire.
Just as well the Tasman is between there and home!!