Books & Blocks

September turned into a sprint with lots of mum stuff going on and suddenly in the blink of an eye it’s October! I’m all for the slow life but there are limits to how slow one can in reality go with two boisterous little girls and a husband that works long hours – especially in the school holidays! It would be so nice to lie on the veranda appreciating the birdsong all day every day but people will need clean knickers and feeding (three times daily no less, how very dare they?! 😁)

Not of course that I’m complaining – as they say, no mess would mean no precious family, always worth reminding oneself of that, particularly in my darker moments haha – but I am always mindful of monitoring my mental health and ‘self care’ needs. It’s very easy for me to allow things to get frantic in my head, fuel with coffee and neglect to eat well enough – which is of course a recipe for burnout. 

While keeping an eye on these things, in the spirit of ‘slow’ I also stopped creating crochet deadlines for myself and only hooked when the mood took me, otherwise reading fiction in my down times – a great way to calm my often anxious brain. Crochet has its (vital!) place in my mental health toolkit, but I am prone to ruminating and catastrophising and sometimes recently I’ve needed a bigger distraction than the block patterns I’ve been working on, relatively complex though some of them are. 

I’ve devoured several novels in recent weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed them:

The Captain’s Daughter by Leah Flemming

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A Pure Clear Light by Madeleine St John

I’m currently reading Freya by Anthony Quinn and loving it. I’ve been reading mainly non-fiction for ages and am truly delighting in getting back into fiction. Always interested in discovering new fiction authors – who are your favourites??

I guess it’s a measure of my usual hooky ‘output’ that although I’ve been crocheting a lot less, I’ve still done a lot more than I thought – 10 x 8.5 inch blocks! Here are 9 of them (you can find links to all the patterns in this blanket cal here)

Wishing happy hooking – and reading – to all 😊 Here’s to a fabulous month ahead!

Pam x

Time Management and the Crochet Obsessive

My ideal would be a parallel universe – one world in which I can crochet all hours of the day, and another running simultaneously where I meet all my other-world commitments, and of course enjoy all the precious, lovely non-crochet elements of my life! Such a universe, alas, does not exist and therefore, I find I must prioritise (sucks!).

But. How much dust is too much? I know I will never regret not having dusted more when I die haha but at the same time, one cannot run a family in chaos (well I can’t anyway). My girls are almost five and almost seven and I am a full time stay at home mum who is suddenly feeling the currents of change and finding just a little more time on her hands. My youngest will be starting school in January and I am now well out of the survival mode of the early years (which included severe depression and anxiety) and moving into a new phase.

This is very exciting but also rather daunting! My youngest is currently only at preschool three days a week during school hours so I have her with me lots still, plus of course there are a lot of hours before 9 and after 3.30! However, suddenly both girls seem to be growing less needful of me with every passing week. The demands on my time are no longer so great and there are finally more hours in my day in which I have CHOICES!? This is most novel! I am no longer fire-fighting, as we used to say in my previous life as a corporate finance analyst – rushing to put out one fire after another and barely pausing for breath. It’s fabulous! But I do find myself…drifting a little. I think, yay! I can crochet now, nobody is here wanting stuff! So I do (sometimes rather a lot), and then I do a little bit of cleaning or ironing and then I get distracted, have a quick look at gorgeous lovely crochet things on Instagram and oops it’s 3pm where did that go and OMG what have I achieved?!

Believe me I am NOT complaining – I know how blessed I am. The things is, after almost seven years of being “on” pretty much 24/7 as a full time stay at home mum of very young children with no family support network and a husband who is AWESOME but who also works long hours, I am just not used to this level of freedom. I’ve reached a point where I need to start thinking about how to structure my days, and what I want them to look like. I’ve been crocheting a LOT , particularly since I started this blog a few months ago, and it has been awesome but that parallel universe I yearn for does not exist and the time has come to plan and prioritise. I don’t want to feel guilty when I crochet. I don’t think I need to work harder – I do work very hard for my family – but I need, as they say, to work SMARTER, so that I have done all the things I need to do before I sit down with my hooks and yarn, guilt free and hooker-happy! Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that better time management will ultimately result in more hooking time for this crochet obsessive. YES!!!

So.

  • A little less blogging , and more defined times for doing so and for addressing correspondence related to Hooks and Hills (I’ve taken the email apps off my phone so I don’t get distracted by the ‘ping’ any more – such a time monster!).
  • Flexible but clear forward schedule in terms of crochet skills I want to learn – I am an ambitious and adventurous crocheter! – book reviews I want to write and patterns of my own that I want to work on.
  • Fixed hours on preschool days for family / family business interests paperwork.
  • Fixed hours on preschool days for home duties, and clear schedule of tasks (thank you Motivated Moms app!)
  • Fixed hours for exercise – vital and sliding a little recently  (run/walking and yoga now replace antidepressents for me).

How do you make sure you get your crochet fix? If you’re a stay at home mum, what are your best tips for managing your time? And how did you go when your youngest started school? For so long I felt like the day would never come and now it seems to be racing at me full speed and it’s a bit…confronting! 🙂

 

Once the Storm is Over

~ And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain.  When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm is all about ~ Haruki Murakami

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When I came upon this quote a few months ago, oh! How it resonated with me. Exactly 8 years ago, my husband and I left the UK on an extended honeymoon adventure in Southeast Asia, en route to our final destination – a new life in Regional New South Wales, Australia. Within ten months of landing on Australian soil, still in backpacker mode and adjusting to the realities of our new life, I turned 36, and our first daughter was born. And so the winds began to howl, quietly at first, but fast gaining momentum. The signs were ignored, immigration was blamed, and I soldiered on with what I now realise was Post Natal Depression. Almost three years later, with another beautiful daughter in my arms, I finally entered the eye of the storm, taking my little family down with me. Therapy and Zoloft came to the rescue this time, and I emerged, battered and bruised upon the shore – only to sink once more within two years. This time, there was nothing to blame. We were living our Aussie dream, had even managed to buy ourselves a little fixer upper in an beautiful country village, life was so sweet…and yet, I was often suicidal. I went back on my medication, and a psychiatrist diagnosed recurrent Clinical Depression. Light bulb!!! So many things about my history suddenly made perfect sense. It no longer felt like the end of the world, but rather a new beginning.

Eighteen months on from that diagnosis, I look back and I really, truly have no idea how I survived the wild and frightening storm that was the early years of motherhood for me. But I did and I am happy, and I am med free again and I am on the right path in taking care of myself. Life is good, and I am so, so grateful. And yet, it is true I am not the same person who walked into that storm. I often feel as if I have just woken up inside this life, and it can be disconcerting. It is exactly like that feeling of waking up in the morning after a storm has raged all night, to see blue skies and sunshine and no trace of the driving rain and howling wind that went before. It’s unsettling. I worked my whole life, met my husband in my early 30s when I was backpacking alone, we had adventures, we were free, I was a city person with a corporate job. Then, I went on this crazy, terrifying ride that near as dammit did for me. And now, suddenly, I am a stay at home country mum, living quietly and peacefully in a small village at the ends of the earth.

I haven’t worked these whole eight years. I believe in my role as a stay at home mum; it’s right for our family. And I love living slow and simple. However, my girls are now going on five and going on seven and I am well, and out of the blue it seems that at last, there is time for ME. What the bloody hell am I going to do with it? Well, crochet, of course!!

Crochet has been my saviour since I finally mastered the basics at the beginning of 2015. Complicated patterns require a concentration that takes me out of myself. Simple, repetitive stitches in silence are soothing and almost meditative – or they can accompany Netflix binge watching, a kind of therapy all of it’s own, in my opinion! I just LOVE to crochet. It is entirely addictive and it makes me sooooo well, damn happy. I have pondered what the future holds for me and I cannot see myself in an office wearing a suit again. Financially at my age, another degree is not cost effective. Anyway, my daughters are still young enough to need me a lot, and so here I remain. I’m sitting at my kitchen table listening to the quiet that school and preschool bring, looking at a new-to-me laptop that is quite frankly puzzling me, and opening a new chapter in my life. Today I bought a year of a domain name and I’m going to take this year to blog and crochet, no holds barred, no guilt, no shame – just live, love, laugh, write and crochet on!

Yours yarnfully,

 Pam 

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