Hills and Hooks

When not crocheting, I like to spend my free time running up and down the hills to which my blog title refers 🙂 At the moment I’m training for my third half marathon (21k), in September – it’s becoming an annual challenge. Sundays I do my long runs, and now in week five of my training program, the long runs are getting longer – yesterday, 18k. It hurt, and I’m tired today, I can tell ya! However, mentally I feel fabulous and I absolutely relish the challenges I will face in the coming weeks. Here’s a little collage from yesterday. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world – country New South Wales. Whatever is going on in my life, pounding these country roads and testing my physical limits puts everything in perspective, and I always return home feeling empowered and positive.

And here’s a little collage of my June hooking – I love reflecting on what I’ve learned and created at the end of each month 🙂

I have a history of severe depression, and ongoing anxiety issues. Crochet and running are now my chosen forms of therapy and I feel so lucky to have them both in my life! They each heal and support me in different ways and I am beyond grateful that I can so easily reach for my hooks and hills whenever I need them – and also just for fun 🙂 

Green Tea and Simple Joys

I used to guzzle coffee and hurtle headlong through my days as a stay at home mum, checking things off my list, always thinking ahead to completing the next task or anticipating the next family need. 


Thankfully, I’ve learned not too late in the game that slower is better, and it all still gets done anyway. That, and you have to fill your own cup too, and regularly, or everything will go tits up pretty darn fast – I learned that the hard way! My crochet is me filling my cup. It’s my creative expression in the midst of the madness that is daily life with two beautiful, bonkers little girls. It’s also my therapy, my meditation, my happy place. 

Today I took a break from my Willow squares. I’m in the process of making a few, not unpleasant, but important decisions. I also needed to internally deal with an uncomfortable social interaction that had brought to mind past upsets,  and triggered symptoms of anxiety, including some lost sleep last night. I needed something mindless in a positive sense, good for outside and also for a bit of Netflix chill time. I guess you could say, I needed to adjust my medication slightly? 😁 So, I brought out the two Caron Cakes I found the other day that I’d forgotten I’d bought – I know, evidence of addictive behaviour! I’m sure I’m not alone in my ‘issues’ with yarn 😂 – and started a simple bag I found via Instagram. All dc (US). No changing colours. Just some simple, soothing fun – I adore waiting for cake colour changes! Call me crazy, but to me it’s a perfect simple joy each time a new one unfurls.

So, the afternoon is drawing to a close and I’m sitting quietly with a big cup of green tea before the school run and afternoon crazy. Time for another couple of rounds (floor can wait just one more day, right!). Any lingering anxiety and disquiet have evaporated. Good decisions have been reached. Equilibrium is restored. It’s been a slow and simple afternoon’s hooking. Sometimes, that’s the perfect answer, whatever the question may be 💜 🙂

Crochet is my Meditation 

After about six months of intensively using traditonal meditation techniques to build my confidence in my increasing mental wellness (I have a history of anxiety and both Postnatal and Clinical depression), I now find that crochet has become my meditation of choice.

I’ve long been aware of the therapeutic benefits of crochet, and it has been a vital part of my wellness toolbox ever since I learned to hook a couple of years ago, but I was very focussed on learning and healing through (primarily guided) meditation (via Insight Timer). I learned so much during those months, and benefitted enormously both from my practice itself and from the knowledge and skills gleaned during the process. I have a heightened sense of perspective and calm in my daily life that enabled me to successfully wean off my antidepressants back in February and which serves me so well today. 

However, gradually and unintentionally my more formal meditation habits have fallen by the wayside. At first this concerned me – could I manage without? Would my mental health deteriorate again? Should I force myself to do something that I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ any more? – but now I see that my mind remains balanced and healthy; there is no cause for concern. The time has simply come for change, as it always does, and I welcome that. 

I now enjoy my time before sleep lost in a novel – I’ve missed that so much, unable to stay awake long enough to both read and meditate. And I still do meditate, just in a different way. 

I meditate on the veranda in the beautiful Autumn sunshine, with my crochet in my hands. I listen to the birds and rhythm of my hook. My mind is soothed and still. I am calm, grateful and sometimes even joyful. It works for me, so very well. 

Crochet is my meditation 💜 🙂

Crochet and Anxiety 

I stopped taking my antidepressants about three months ago, and I’ve been going so well. So when I started feeling a bit wobbly mid week, it was more…disappointing than anything else. I wasn’t feeling down, but I was definitely feeling anxious. I was into my forties when I finally realised I’d suffered from anxiety most of my life. Ironically, I learned this during a mental health first aid workshop! We were studying the symptoms, and as PowerPoint revealed them one by one, I silently ticked my own boxes. I had known those things myself, I just hadn’t had name for them. Knowledge is power! And now I know what to do.

I go to my yoga mat. Journal. Remind myself that the self-doubt, mild paranoia and worries racing through my mind are just thoughts – not facts, not dangerous. And I pick up my crochet hook. I was feeling particularly uncomfortable in myself on Wednesday. Unable to settle. Disliking so badly what was going on in my head. I grabbed my hook, and ninety minutes later – all was well?! Amazing!! 

However, I was still a little…subdued. Was my wellness slipping away?  Would the battle ever end? Cleaning out my bedside drawer later that day, I happened upon my box of Crazy Sexy Love Notes. Why not? I drew a card. “You are healing“. Perfect! Because I’m reminded that it’s ok. It’s not happening again. I’m not slipping away. I am healing, and it’s a process. I might always have these times of anxiety – I suspect it’s just how I’m wired. But now, when the discomfort comes, it doesn’t engulf me. It no longer spirals out of control, into something so very much worse. Instead, I know what I need to do to stay well. I am healing.

Old-fashioned, Preschool, Quiet, Running

Once again attempting to catch up with the A to Z Challenge during school holidays!

O is for…Old-fashioned. Most people seem to hold the view that crochet is a very old-fashioned pursuit, the domain only of elderly ladies making doilies, and baby blankets in pastels that hark back to a bygone era. Indeed, when I started hooking two years ago, my husband declared in horror, “You remind me of my Oma!!” Please note, I have all respect for the Grandmas and their work! However, it is a reflection of only one part of the crochet world. Modern crochet is amaaaaaaazing and there are hookers of every age hooking everything imaginable, from bright baby clothes, homewares and children’s toys to fashionable adult clothing and vibrant, quirky street art. Old-fashioned, it is not. Crochet rocks!

P is for…Preschool. My youngest daughter turns five in November, so this is her last year of preschool. She attended four days a week during school hours in Term 1, but we’ve made the decision to cut back to two days going forward. Now that my mental health is so great, I really no longer ‘need’ those extra days. It’s a huge deal for me to come to a decision like this – I’d never have imagined it possible not so long ago! Plus, I am increasingly aware of how quickly time is rushing by. She will be at school before I know it, and I want to make the most of the time that’s left. Doubtless there will be days when I regret my decision! However, I know I will have no regrets come next year. A pleasant side-effect is that it halves the fees. Yaaaaaaaarn! Nuff said 😁

Q is for…Quiet. It took me decades to realise that I’m an introvert. Pushing myself into an extrovert box caused me great anxiety in hindsight. Now I’m comfortable with the fact that I find too many people over too much time in one go overwhelming. I know it about myself, I recognise the effects, and I actively seek my quiet to counteract them. I am a sociable, bubbly, friendly person, but I do relish and require my time alone. Having small children, and no extended family support (we are relatively recent immigrants), time alone is pretty hard to come by, especially in school holidays! We’re past the midpoint now and yesterday morning I was feeling increasingly cranky and quickly identified the reason why. Luckily my husband has some time off this week, and I was able to jump in the car and drive to town for an impromptu haircut, a mini-massage, hot chocolate in a café and some yarn shopping – blissfully alone, all quiet inside my head. This introvert is now recharded and ready for a fun family day out today 😊

R is for…Running. A huge part of my life and worthy of a whole other post. In fact, I’m going for a run now. More on this at a later date!

Kitchen, Love, Meditation

IMG_20170416_073330_623.jpg

Still school holidays and the A to Z Challenge has beaten me on a daily basis but I will catch up in brief here – cheating I know but better than nothing is my feeling 🙂

K is for… Kitchen. I need to be in there more. I mean I am in there every day feeding the hordes but I really need to get back in there with intention. I’ve taken my eye off the ball with the wholefood eating since being ill, we’re not eating junk (always avoiding processed for the most part) but we’re eating very plain and basically, could do better. Especially me, I had no appetite when ill and just feeling so uninspired. Food is more than energy – as Japansese farmer and philosopher Fukuoka Masanobu says, food and the human spirit are united. Time for soul food. I’ll be getting the recipe books out in coming days.

L is for…Love. So much love in my life and I am so grateful. I really struggled in the early childhood years with my girls. My mental health was very poor and I was in survival mode a lot of the time. Now I’m able to enjoy them and it’s a wonderful feeling to be simply bursting with feelings of love when I’m with them, as opposed to knowing that I love them but just feeling so overwhelmed and anxious every minute of every day. Last week I decided to cut my youngest daughter’s preschool days by half next term, because I don’t ‘need’ the extra days. That is a huge step forward for me and such a great feeling. Doubtless there will be days when I wonder what possessed me to do such a thing 🙂 But I know that when she goes to school next year I’ll have no regrets about it at all.

M is for…meditation. I’m meditating less, but still daily, using Insight Timer. I also consider crochet to be a kind of meditative therapy, and I am certainly doing a lot of that! I am over two months off my antidepressants and still going great, but ever vigilant. I’ve learned a lot from the many guided meditations I’ve done over the past 120 days and I often find myself stopping less than constructive thoughts dead in their tracks. If I start to feel anxious, I am well able to bring myself back into the present moment, where I am safe, and all is well. Today I am feeling confident that so long as I remain vigilant and proactive with regard to my mental health, all will continue to be well. So grateful!!

N is for…needle case. I made the Moogly Nifty Needle Case, pictured above, over the weekend and I love it! It’s so cute and I’m using it every day. It is also my most popular Instagram picture ever, with over 200 likes. My Instagram account is gaining a following. I dream of sharing my own patterns with my followers, as well as linking up to those of others! One day. Meantime, I keep calm and crochet on 🙂

Being Just Mum

E is for emigration is where I began this afternoon as part of the A to Z Challenge, but I confess my heart’s just not in it. I’ve been ill for a fortnight and have been ordered to take antibiotics and rest, as a cold has turned to bronchitis. Am feeling a tad sorry for myself at this point if I’m honest, but there is a silver lining, dare I confess – I am not allowed to go away in our little caravan with my family for the weekend. It is the first time in almost seven years that I have been home alone overnight! When I shared my delight at the sick note with the pharmacist, she looked at me aghast, and said that on the contrary she’d be devastated to miss a family camping weekend. Momentarily, I felt like a Bad Mother. Then I remembered that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks; and she works while I don’t. I’m a stay at home mum who spends a great many, sometimes seemingly interminable precious hours with my beloved yet enervating offspring. The mere thought of 36 hours without them in an empty house while they have a wonderful adventure twenty minutes up the road with their fabulous Dad and friends from school is, quite frankly, an unashamedly exhilarating prospect.

Too often in the past I have compared and contrasted my choices with those of other women, and found myself wanting or plunged into guilt. Now, I am secure in my core values and I know beyond doubt that being a stay at home mum is the right choice for my family. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and the longer I stay at home, the happier I am that this is the path we’ve chosen. Stay at home mums are not much revered in our culture, so it is just as well that I have outgrown the need for external validation!

I volunteer on the maths program at my eldest daughter’s school and on the first day one of the kids asked me what I do. I’m a mum, I said. It was on the tip of my tongue to say ‘just’, such is the conditioning of our society.  I had my children in my late 30s, I’m tertiary educated and worked for an American multinational for a decade before emigrating to Australia, and becoming a barefoot in the kitchen country mama. I often wondered what those women who were ‘just’ mums did all day, and expressed my own horror – dare I say it, even derision – at the waste of their education. Now I walk in their shoes – well mostly with no shoes but you get my drift 🙂 – I get it. It took a while, and I struggled a lot adjusting to this lifestyle – losing my corporate identity and my financial independence was extremely difficult, especially at the same time as becoming a mother as a newly arrived migrant with no support network and Post Natal Depression!  But now, I soooo get it. I get the what, and the why. And I also know that if you’ve never done it, you won’t understand any more than I used to. And that’s ok. My challenge has been to let go of my need for other people to understand me. It’s a process.

The older my girls get, the more unusual it is to be at home being ‘just’ mum for this long. I see articles on the news telling me what I do is bad for the economy, even bad for myself, according to the latest ‘studies’ apparently. I can get a bit pissed off and ranty about that kind of thing, depending on the day I’m having. But my girls are getting older now, and especially in recent months I sense them already slipping away from me. Which is as it should be, of course, and oh my god it has it’s benefits (#crochetaddict lol) – but it’s bitter-sweet, and hard to describe. The season of my life is changing, as they begin the natural process of blooming into themselves and away from me. The earliest years of their lives are a blur in many ways, consumed as I was with depression and anxiety for so much of them. I’m so grateful that I’ve developed a deep awareness of how quickly their childhood is racing by and how precious it is, and how lucky I am to be truly present for it all. I’ve gone from wishing the early years away to resolving to make the most of the time remaining, while they are still at preschool and primary school. I may be ‘just’ mum to many, but I am so very much more than that to myself and my family. And that is (more than) enough for me.

So here’s to a bloody blissfully quiet weekend, without those that I love most in the world 🙂

This post is also part of the A-Z Challenge: E is for…Embrace, Early Childhood, External Validation (not needed here), Enough, Empty House, Excited