Craft for the Soul

After a week that ended with me a bloody mess, because the brain, this weekend has been an utter joy. My birthday gift from the lovely Mate was tickets to the Soul Craft Festival held this weekend at the Meat Market, North Melbourne. As per its name, it was a festival for the soul for those of us who craft.

There was a section of couches to chill on, a great big hall of long tables for eating and chatting at, a food vendor whose wares looked wonderful (I’m skint so I took my own food both days), the absolutely required marketplace, the long workshops (again, skint so didn’t do those), a small gallery of works, craft dating, and then two stages and several demo spaces where talks and demonstrations ran every hour. It was up to you where you took it. You could chill with your friends, rampage around the marketplace, attend every demo or talk, or just space it out with a bit of everything. The general layout was easy to navigate, it got a wee bit noisy from time to time but was pretty good overall*, a jumper was required as the venue is one of those large open layout ones that are a bit cool (but not cold) at this time of year in Melbourne, and the decorations around the place were a really lovely touch.

It was also eco-friendly. You bought your own bags and washable coffee cups, everything was recyclable. They asked us to go as cash-free as we could and avoid printing tickets or the timetables.

So, starting with the important things… STASH!!! I was in ferret shock. So many vendors, so much pretty, and all Australian. My favorite thing was the number of Australian farmers and eco-friendly yarn producers there were. I was especially stoked to run across a permaculture farmed wool! Eeeeee!! I have a memory like a sieve so here are the business cards I took photos of.


And of course I added to my stash! Check out this beautiful hand dyed wool I’m going to be making a jumper out of:

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Onwards to the talks. I attended a few. Being my first baby-free weekend in the 5 months Rabbit has been with us I was pretty tired and I found myself leaving the house later so I could sleep in and vaguing out pretty badly in the later afternoon sessions. That’s on me, not the presenters. There was a full complement of speakers and topics to be looked in on (see the program here). There really was something for everyone and every speaker I saw was a delight. The ones I particularly enjoyed were Refashioning Your Wardrobe with Jane Milburn, Why We Don’t Need Talent to Make with Felicia Semple, and The Ongoing Practice of Stashless with Felicia Semple. Each of these needs a separate post to articulate the why and my feelings about them and those will be coming.

This was the festivals very first year and I really hope they run it again. Would I make any changes?

In the negative? No. There was nothing I would take away from the festival.

I would add a tiny handful of things to it:

  1. A quiet zone: while it wasn’t hugely packed in or crowded it was busy enough to be very much over stimulating to someone with sensory issues*
  2. A skill share space: Somewhere that we attendees could comfortably sit and share our skills with each other. Many people just struck up conversations, but for someone shy like myself a place we could go to trade hints and tips would be a fun way to network.
  3. An Open Stage or Curated Discussion Space: Probably due to Confest, but by the end of day 1 I really wanted to get up and talk about things and get opinions etc. We could ask questions of presenters but somewhere a bit less formal where attendees could do a 30 or 40min presentation, or run a discussion on a topic dear to them would be really beneficial for community building I think.Look, overall, I loved this. Every minute of it. I will be there next year if it runs again. I’d love to take a master class even, although I had so much fun as it was I don’t need to. I really do recommend the Soul Craft Festival to anyone who passionately loves their crafting.

    *Of the two days Sunday was quieter and probably the best option for anyone with sensory issues to attend.

Newly Wed

I waited for the professional photos so this was weeks ago, but on the 18th of March this year I got married to The Wild One. I have never been happier, nor felt so absolutely loved or cherished as I have in the years I’ve been with my beautiful Wild One.

For all the rough days, there are no regrets and I doubt there ever will be.

 

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This is what it feels like…

You want to know what chronic illness feels like?

Chronic illness feels like having a great job, but never having the energy for it. It’s being fucked whether you bullshit that you’re ok and push through till you’re a complete wreck and collapse, or are openly honest that you have serious limitations due to your health. Either way you’ll never feel secure in your position and you’ll always take too much sick leave.

It is finding the perfect door into your dream career and knowing there’s no point applying for it because you’re on your fifth or sixth lot of antibiotics for the year and it’s only early April, which means winter is going to be hell and there’s no way you’ll cope with full time work. You’re not sure you’ll manage to cope with your part time job as it is. Maybe because you’re barely coping with it at all right now.

Chronic illness is having to convince yet another fucking doctor that you’re not a hypochondriac. It’s having to push and fight every fucking inch of the way to get the care you need, to convince them to stop treating your individual health issues as individual problems and let you speak to specialists about the potential of them being symptoms of a larger issue.

It’s being perpetual tired and sore. Always. Literally always. Aching muscles, aching joints, and fatigue greet you when you wake up and go to bed with you no matter what you do. Your idea of a pain free day would make a normal person hole up in bed with pain killers and a heat pack. You don’t get that option because shit needs to get done. Kids need to fed. Jobs attended….

And your house will never be clean because you can work or keep house, not both.

Chronic illness is being up for doing things you’re really not up for doing, because otherwise you’d go slowly and silently insane from never stepping foot out your front door. It’s having to walk shorter and easier hiking trails than you want. It’s working your ass off to be stronger whilst knowing that no matter how much work you put in you’ll never make the grade to do the things you want. It’s learning to choose slower, gentler options for leisure in the name of actually being functional for the entire day.

It’s trying to explain to other people that going camping sick is ok, you just have to take it a bit easier, because if you only went camping when you were well you’d never fucking go. It’s cancelling on your friend with the bad immune system, or the one that works with children/the elderly/the sick or the one with young children over and over again because you catch everything that goes round and they can’t afford to be sick.

Chronic illness is feeling like a fucking burden. It’s the house never being cleaned when your partner gets home. It’s asking them to cook for you after they’ve been at work all day because you’re sick again and too tired. It’s never contributing as much, doing as much or giving as much as they do. It’s the little frictions you cause because you are not as capable as you need to be. It’s the frustration of alternately being babied and asked too much of, because that middle ground is hard to find.

It’s trying not to get frustrated with well meaning suggestions and ideas that you’ve tried before. It’s trying to explain that ‘no, exercise isn’t the answer for an already exhausted body’ and that driving 4 hours to sit and crochet by a camp fire is actually worth it. It’s trying to get across the sheer complexity of existing like this to someone who never has without getting angry or treating them like their an idiot, and feeling like it always sounds like excuses.

It’s watching them close off when you try to plan for the future, because ‘what if it never gets better?’

It’s feeling like you’re holding the people you love most back in every possible way.

 

Chronic illness is the frustration of trying to explain the above and more on repeat to every person in your life, especially your loved ones. Day in and day out. It’s exhausting.

These are the pills I take of a morning at the moment, just to try and keep functional and get my immune system coping a little better with everything that’s hitting it. 7 of them are regular daily ones, the 8th is an antibiotic I’m on at the moment for round whatever-I’m-up-to of chest infections this year.

I’m angry, frustrated and tired, and done. I feel like I’m about to lose my job. I feel perpetually like a burden, no matter what I do or how much of it. I feel like I will never be able to properly financially contribute to my household, that I let my husband down and that I’m frequently a bad parent to our kids.

I want to scream and force people to live inside my body for a day, just one 24 hour period, when they tell me I’m fine, or doing too much, or not doing enough, or that it’ll get better. This is what I live with, the good days are most people’s bad days and I lie a lot about how I’m doing so people will treat me like I’m somewhat normal.

 

Today I am squiring around in the chair as a write. Standing hurts, sitting hurts, moving hurts, lying down hurts. So does typing, crochet, and lifting my tea cup, but my hands have been like that for weeks now, and we keep on going…

2016 in Review.

It’s mid-ish November, I’ve just logged out of my facebook with no idea when I plan on logging back in and removed the app from my phone.

Trump is President-elect of the United States which is mildly terrifying, and our government is sending off-shore processed refugees to there… because why not send them to a country that doesn’t want them.

Earlier this year the Australian people voted mother-fucking Pauline Hansen into parliament, and failed to boot our shitty ass government out in favor of better things. We’re still a coalition.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder and Leonard Cohen all died… Bowie, Rickman and Prince were pretty fucking devastating. After Bowie it all just melted into a pot of ‘God, fuck, no’.

In my personal life it’s been up and down.

On the down I was retrenched in April, been broke, been sick several times, have lost very little weight, have had a world of stress on my shoulders, haven’t made much art, finances are tight, and it’s generally been a rough year.

On the up… We moved into our house with help of amazing friends. The house is gorgeous and feels like ours in a way that rentals never do. I’m happy here and we’re building our life together which is amazing. The wedding planning continues with a few minor setbacks and we’re pretty fucking excited about life at large.

I have some answers to health problems that have lessened the complaints from my stomach and digestive track which has improved my overall health in many ways. I have much lower pain issues thanks to the same change in diet plans that helped my stomach as they also alleviated a lot of the inflammation in my joints. On top of that I have a diagnosis for my foot pain that has lead to improvements in feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back which has been awesome. So much less pain means so much better sleep. Better sleep means more stable me, and that means…

I’m coming off my meds, successfully as far as we can tell. The first 2 weeks were a nightmare, but the anxiety has settled down to generally being caused by something or due to being over tired and unable to reign in stress over inconsequential shit. So I’m now at week four.

About a month back I also started a new job which I am loving. I’ve gone from 4 half days to four full days and am stepping up to take over the roster coordinator role whilst they’re on leave. I’m scheduling, and it’s challenging enough to be interesting without being super stressful like the old job was. I love it, and am hoping to be there for a few years while I study.

Speaking of, I started the pre-requisite classes for my degree this year, and it is going super well. I did really well on my portfolio and first essay – High distinctions on both. So now I’m waiting on results from my final essay and chat board grades (participation markers because we’re online students). So that’s good. Next semester is Statistics so… panic stations.

Mum is coming down for Christmas too, which is nice. We’ll also have the cousins, in-laws, bro-in-law and wifey with kids in tow. It’s gonna be big and fun. First family Christmas we’ve done since I moved in.

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So yeah, that’s my year in redux. No idea what the next month and a half will bring, but it better be better than Trump and no more people dying or else. It’s summer. Have a photo from a few weeks back when we climbed Hanging Rock. Look, it’s me and stuff.

Democracy Sausages

We have been. We have voted.

We *GASP* passed on the democracy sausages. We went for a democracy breakfast instead. Bacon and eggs. Omnomnom. We also have explained democracy sausages to friends who don’t know what they are!

Several hours of unpacking is done, I have tea, and all is well in life.

Now to wait for the results to roll in and go get burgers for the lovely Arrow’s birthday. Woot. Saturday is success.

The Resolutions of 2016

I’ve never been huge on these resolution things, but I’m beginning to take a liking to having a plan and acting on it. Then checking back in on it later so I can see how I’m tracking… and that’s what I’m working on.

The Career Stuff. – I have a lot of career based goals for 2016 which I’m not going to go into detail on, but they are centre stage in many ways. It’s the first time I’ve had a job that I really feel fits and there are huge projects ahead so now we have to really push them to work. So a quick overview:

Stress/Time Management.
Solidify scheduling practice.
Delivery (without making doctors cry).

This year there are plans to execute:

Build on my relationships outside of my Wolf and Sprogs. – I got very insular last year, but I do need social activity to be sane. I especially want to gather together with some of the other professional women in my life on a regular/semi-regular basis for foodings and chat.

Monthly get togethers with the amazing women in my life.
Make it to at least one party/social event a month.
Catch up with individual people rather than ‘soon’ notes.
Cook meals for people.

Plan a fucking wedding! – I have no idea how to do this. I figure it’s just a super fancy party so that works for me and that’s what I’m running with. Big party, much fun to be had. The wedding stuff will be tagged and linked on a page once it’s started.

Lose weight and get fit. – Yeah yeah yeah, every year and every human being on the face of the planet, but really… I spent last year getting the damage and pain issues under control so I can do this. I have to have my foot looked at early in 2016, but that going well the plans are:

Regular floor based yoga practice.
Start running as soon as I have doctor’s clearance re foot. (I even have new runners).
Loose 10-15kg and 2 dress sizes (not actually unrealistic)
Break the Coke-a-Cola and Ice Break habits.

Make more art. – To this end I have started up a little group called the Little Sharp Teeth Collective made of close friends to help keep us all accountable to our goals. Complexity of pieces will effect these plans but for now:

1 print per month.
1 crochet piece every other month.

EDIT: I am also going to read everything on this list: http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-essential-cyberpunk-reading-list-1714180001

And that’s it really. We move into our new house in a few months and there will be a lot of gardening and time with the girls and stuff, but I think this sums up the plan of attack for now.

Don't mistake me for fragile…

Note, this post may be a trigger to some people and simply a really cold harsh shock to other. These are the moments I remember with a crystal clear clarity…

I remember the first time I was fingered. Down the back of the yard in the cubby house. He was in his final year of highschool. I was 6 years old. 1st grade of school. I never told my parents, I would have got in trouble for letting him.

I remember the first time I was told ‘it’s because he likes you’ about the boy who would beat me and scream in my ears while I read a book in recess. I was in grade 3, I was 8 years old. I learnt to love the librarians at that school.

I was 9 when my ‘friends’ would take my lunch, hit me, blame me for anything they did. I had already learnt to sit quietly and take the punishment.

I was 10, in a new school, when I began to get breasts and curves. I was tall, and skinny, with red hair, and glasses and new to the school. I was bruised and insulted and friendless.

The librarian suggested I needed to spend less time alone in the library that year.

I was 11 when she and I played out on the flats – now a housing development – and talked about fairies. I was 11 when believing in fairies became another thing I had to hold close to my chest and never admit out of fear of what others would do to me.

I was 11 when Hayley moved to my school late in the year. She would be my first friend. As odd as I was, and utterly unashamed by her own intelligence.

I was 11 the first time I was accused of chasing someone else’s boyfriend. A boy who I hated for grabbing at my breasts and ass, and calling me names. She was popular, and if I was simply a nobody before then now I was hated.

I was 12 when I noticed older boys straring at my chest.

I remember the first time I was catcalled from a car. I was 13. He almost caused a car accident. It would be years before I stopped hiding myself under baggy shirts.

The year after a blue eyed boy started visiting my house. Only when he and his girlfriend weren’t getting along. I didn’t care, I was so starved for any kindness and contact by that point.

When I was 15 I would be stalked by an older boy for 6 months. Driven home each afternoon by a friend’s father in the police force or walked by his younger brother and a friend – who didn’t know what was wrong but cared that I didn’t want to be left alone with him. I never told my parents. My father would be angry at me, my mother had two young boys hitting puberty to deal with.

I was 15 when I called out a boy in class, in front of everyone. He called me a red headed rat rooter. I, with absolutely perfect composure, suggested he bring his insults out of grade school given I’d been called that and worse since I was 7. My teacher nodded to me, a gesture of approval that I had stood up for myself.

I was 16 when two older boys would fight over me. One who would come and go as he pleased, and one who would possess me.  I had no idea what to do and no one to ask.

I was 16 when Shannon, a gay boy a few years older than myself, would look at me and tell me I was brilliant and not to let anyone tell me otherwise. I didn’t quite believe him, but he talked to me about art, books and my dreams. He will never know that he saved my life that year.

When I was 16 I would wear ankle length skirts to school.

When I was 17 we moved to Melbourne. I had no friends. My grades suffer. I sink into a depression I only survived because I HAD to be there for my brothers… Someone had to be.

When I was 18 I was stood up in a bar. I met people. A few weeks later I slept with a man with a partner who would succeed in turning me into a possession. We would fuck for years on and off while he told me he loved me… I was his dirty little secret. Years later he would be the reason I would hide myself, my sex, my sexuality, my love, my strength… because I was nothing.

When I was 23 I met my first long term partner. He who would manipulate me, turn everything into my fault, who knew exactly how to keep my long past the point where I wanted to, needed to leave.

When I was 26 I lost my mind, and started on the path to healing myself.

When I was just 27 I stopped being a dirty little secret. I would instead by that girl he used to have an affair with… In short he would make me his slut and shame me when I told him to back the fuck off.

I was closing on 28 when I began to say enough, began to get angry. I was told I was being unreasonable over and over.

When I was 28 I got drunk at my birthday party and was raped by the friend I met when I was 18 later that night. I fuck him a few days later in a desperate attempt to take back the control. It would be months of grief and anger before I could acknowledge that I had made it clear he was not welcome to my body in that manner and that he had abused my drunken state to get what he wanted. That it was rape and there was no excusing him for it.

I am 29. I am told I am sexy and bold, smart and intimidating. I have fight depression every day, sometimes it’s an easy battle and most times it is not. I have learnt to wield that anger as a weapon. I hurt.

I also know my own worth and I love with everything I have. I refuse to let fear rule me, and I have so much I fear in my heart and mind. I will acknowledge that I am seen as an object of desire by most and that I will be treated poorly for it for the rest of my life, and that I can wield it as a weapon should I so chose.

You look at me and see confidence, beauty and strength. You see what I let you.

I look in the mirror and see a woman who is both broken and brave in the same breath.

And when I look at you, especially those of you who are just beginning to really fight with what the world has pushed on them, I see people who are so much bigger, bolder and braver than they will ever realize.

A Weekend Away (A week later)

Oops, it’s been a bit chaotic this past week so I didn’t get to this update.

Last weekend was my Father’s wedding in Perth. He was getting married to his partner of a few years Hazel. I must admit I am a little funny about Hazel. My father had an affair with her while still married to Mum, and Hazel had spoken about 10 words to me in the few times we met. The wedding wasn’t any difference. I didn’t exist, nor did my brothers. Probably because we told both she and the old man exactly what we thought of them when he got busted having the affair… Anyway, I digress.

All that aside it was a great weekend away. I arrived on the Thursday to cool and windy weather. Had coffee with the old man after he picked me up and sorted out where I needed to be on Friday. I also had dinner and drinks with the middle child. As the middle child was meant to be in Bali he was in a feral mood but it was great to catch him.

Friday morning I went to pick up suits with the old man and the best men. I had a blast and made a friend out of Victorian local Greg who I was sat with at the wedding. The boys Scottish and we had an absolute blast picking on each other over lunch at the Moon and Sixpence. I then proceeded to sleep all afternoon. Saturday night it was off to dinner with the lovely D and Wuff at an awesome vegetarian place in Northbridge called Utopia. Seriously good fucking food. Wuff and I are both familiar with Perth so we dragged D down to Ezra Pound, one of the best bars I know in Perth for drinks. The bartender was cute, bouncy and enthusiastic so I let him lose with a ‘make it sweet without apple of aniseed’ and got this:

I have no idea what it is but it was tasty!

 

Saturday, and it was time to say goodbyw to Wuff as he returned to Melbourne and his family (hello guys!) after breakfast at Fast Eddie’s, an American style 24 hour diner that does great breakfast food. I had Eddie’s for breakfast the entire time I was there. Then it was get changed and get moving. I wanted the dress off less than 15 minutes after I put it on… that was around 9am.

Family and professional photos was… well… *** THAT*** Aunt was drunk at roughly 10:30am. Her husband, one of the best men, was also rather wasted. I got to see the brother of the bride butt naked because he hadn’t closed the bathroom door… this was a highlight for the day because “Hello sailor”. My feet were killing me before we got out of the hotel to go to the ceremony. I almost punched out That Aunt for abusing the poor fucking taxi driver who took us to the Spire for the wedding. The ceremony was very pretty and short thankfully, and the middle child showed up… after the bride.

We killed some time at a pub then got on the boat for the speeches and food. By this time it was 6pm and I’d not had anything except breakfast, a glass of scotch and 3 glasses of wine. They at least got it right and we ate before speeches. No one got thrown over board despite their best efforts to piss me off and we actually had a lot of fun. I got hit on by a very drunk wedding guest who was cute but too drunk to even consider taking back to the hotel.

And in true style That Aunt managed to pick a fight with the ‘limo’ driver on our way back to the hotel…

And now PHOTOS! These are just from my phone but they’re a start:

The blurry bride and groom cut the cake

 

The view from the boat as we left the spire
Our ‘limo’ ride home

 

We went back to the hotel via King Park lookout. This was the view at around midnight.

 

LOOOOOOOT! Gluten free chocolate wedding cake (moist, soft and oh so rich), wedding candy aaaaand a pair of Tiffany’s earrings. I still have no idea why they bought ME anything that expensive but… pretty!

 

And finally me. Looking pretty despite having been in that outfit with full makeup since 9am (well over 15 hours at that point).

 

I had the following day free to hang out with D and introduced him to Fremantle Markets and checked out classic cars cruising the main strip before dinner at Little Creatures with the youngest, his ex-partner and their gorgeous 2 year old daughter.

And then there was Monday… Monday gets its own post tomorrow…

 

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