Life beyond a dirty window

As you’d expect, when I’m writing I spend a lot of time at the desk in my home office. My desk faces a wall, and there is a window positioned to my left. Throughout much of the year I keep that window wide open, allowing the fresh air to flow across my desk while my fingers dance across the keyboard.

Every now and again I’ll take a break from looking at the computer screen and turn my head to watch the world outside.

Life beyond the dirty window

Most days my eyes focus in on how dirty the windows are, notice that the garden beds below really need a tidy, and spot that the fence palings are coming loose of their support beams yet again … but not today. Today the sun was shining brightly, the sky was a happy shade of blue, and I finally noticed the red and yellow flowers which had come into bloom. Spring has most definitely arrived.

Sometimes I get so preoccupied with the negative things that are happening right in front of me, that I fail to see the bigger, more positive picture a little further beyond. Thank goodness then, for the wisdom found to be found by looking through a dirty window.

Strange days

Yesterday was the strangest day.

The thing about strange days is they remind you about the fragility of connections – something that as a writer, I’m growing to appreciate more and more.

My anxiety levels were running at about 300% because I was catching up with a work colleague in the city, and being in the city reminds me of my day job, which then reminds me that I need to act on some important decisions I’ve made about my working future. Stress!

Given that my anxiety levels normally run at about 120%, I was on serious high alert. Not quite an all out panic attack, but I felt like it wasn’t far off. My poor heart was rapidly thud, thudding in my chest, and despite the spring-like warmth in the air, my hands felt cold and clammy. Even the beautiful sunny day, bright blue sky, and my new polka dot handbag weren’t enough to calm my mood.

hello, friends

I had some time to kill before my lunch date, but where to go? Hmm…in the end my feet knew exactly where I needed to be, and I found myself seeking the comfort of a bookstore. Just the process of browsing the shelves and surrounding myself with those familiar faces was enough to make me feel a little better. I was about to leave for another store, when one of my oldest school friends (who I hadn’t seen in years and years), suddenly appeared in front of me. As it turned out, she happened to be in the city catching up with another one of our school friends.

We talked and laughed over cups of tea, wondering at the seemingly random series of events which found us in the same place at the same time.

Timing really is everything.

Because…

::: I was busy writing, I was overcome by a sudden desparate need to bake a loaf of bread from scratch (a sourdough rye loaf if you’re interested). All that mixing and kneading, getting the hands alternately sticky and flour-covered as I worked the dough, is calm therapy for an overactive mind.

The finished loaf

::: I was hungry and the loaf was still warm from the oven, I couldn’t resist accepting the invitation to partake. So (after eating the end crust) I took a knife to that delicious crunchy exterior and cut two thick slices.

The first few slices

::: I am Australian, and it makes perfect sense, I spread one side of those slices first with butter and then with vegemite. It didn’t take me long to fill my stomach and return that plate to empty.

The perfect serving suggestion

::: I associate this meal with being a child on holidays from primary school, reading a book at the dining room table while waiting patiently for my dad to bring home a fresh loaf of bread (he works for a bakery you see). In thinking of this memory, I felt nourished and comforted in ways that go well beyond the simple act of satisfying a hungry appetite.

Breathing Space

The main reason I started blogging was to form a writing habit. Ok, done.
And of course I feel lucky to have come to know some truly wonderful people.

But when I start asking deeper questions of why I continue to blog, well the answers don’t come all that easily. As is evident by my periodic and sometimes lengthy absences, over the years I’ve had my ups and downs with blogging. But I think this time it’s different.

Breathing space

I am currently doing my best to write, write and write some more, so that one day perhaps I can call myself a writer with a capital W. Or even better yet, an author. So with that in mind, I feel that it is less important for me to maintain an ‘online presence’ in this form. I think it’s much more important to focus as much energy as I can on my actual writing.

The way I currently blog is costing me much more than it should. It takes too much of my time and effort to write quality posts, take my own photos, comment, and do all the other things that go into keeping a blog healthy. I no longer think the end justifies the means.

Breathing space

I accepted a long time ago that I don’t have a blog theme, but I recently realised that I am also blogging without intent. I have no real purpose here, and that just feels wrong.

So what does this mean? Well I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m not sure whether I’ll take a break or just change the way I blog. Time will tell, and I’m just going to trust my feelings and follow my instincts. If I do end up disappearing for a while and you’d like to say hello I can often be found on twitter or instagram. That’s one nice thing about the world – wherever we may be, we’re never too far away.

Final March Challenge Update: the last 7 days

With one week down already in April, it’s definitely time for me to share my final March Challenge update. It was lots of fun to think about all the different things I did in each day and to be more mindful of how I spend my time in all those little moments.

March Challenge: day 25 to 28

  • Day 25: Made a natural hair rinse – When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, I’m normally a Kiehl’s girl, but I’m trying a different brand at the moment and wanted to give my hair a ‘refresh’ with a rinse. My hair has never been shinier or healthier (you’re amazing Apple Cider Vinegar).
  • Day 26: Measured the garden beds – This has been a long overdue task. Now I have a much better idea of what plants will fit where and exactly what kind of plants I need for each area.
  • Day 27: Went to a movie – While I love movies, I rarely go out to the cinema any more. This is mainly because it’s ridiculously expensive and other people suck. But it was nice to catch ‘My Week With Marilyn’ before it finished.
  • Day 28: Lunched with a work friend – Since leaving my day job for an extended break late last year, I haven’t caught up with anyone from the office. It was good to get a taste of all the gossip and recent happenings without having to venture anywhere near my desk.

March Challenge: day 29 to 31

  • Day 29: Got my eyebrows threaded – I shall now be saying a permanent goodbye to waxing and going with threading from now on. It was much less painful and gave a much better result.
  • Day 30: Took Baxter to the park – Because he’s an old dog who’s never really enjoyed walks, we tend to exercise him mainly within the backyard. But seeing how happy this walk to the local park made him, well I think a new routine has begun.
  • Day 31: Planted the first vege seeds – The broccoli and cauliflower were the first seeds to get planted, and it was exciting to see that they have already sprouted. I’m looking forward to planting them in the garden (once I get that organised) when they’re a bit bigger.

I’m hoping April brings with it lots more fun and interesting things, but perhaps a little less illness (I got sick three times during the month!). April is the birthday month of the Mr and the time of year when autumn really starts to take hold (YAY!). I hope the start of the month has treated you well and much happiness is abounding!

March Challenge: day 13 to 24

Oops … so it’s been a little while since my last ‘March Challenge’ update, but perhaps that reveals just how much I’ve been enjoying these little daily differences. While I’ll be sad when the challenge is finished, it’s definitely inspired me to continue making small positive changes in my day … I say YAY to more fun and randomness.

March Challenge: Day 13 to 16

  • Day 13: Bought myself some flowers – It’s been ages since I did this, but I love having fresh flowers in the home. Carnations are my favourite (as you saw in the previous post).
  • Day 14: Completed my longest run (so far) on the treadmill - I am really loving becoming a runner again. This was my longest run to date without a break, reaching 28 minutes. Honestly, I cannot recommend the ‘Couch-to-5k’ program enough.
  • Day 15: Bought lunch instead of making my own – When it comes to lunch normally I’m a creature of habit, making a salad and cheese sandwich each and every day. But on this day, I treated myself to a mixed salad of lentils and felafel.
  • Day 16: Finally picked up ‘The Big Issue’ – I’ve read this magazine before, but seemed incapable of remembering to buy a copy for myself. I laughed when I saw the feature for this month – on none other than Ewan McGregor (I’m a big fan).

March Challenge: Day 17 to 20

  • Day 17: Went out for a coffee date – The Mr and I normally stay quite close to home on weekends, but we went out to a local bakery cafe and enjoyed a coffee and a sweet treat.
  • Day 18: Read instead of wrote – Writing is a part of each and every one of my days, but today I took a breather from it and started reading ‘If You Want to Write’. I’m getting a lot from it and will tell you more about another time.
  • Day 19: Sorted out my wardrobe – It’s taken me a long time to get my wardrobe streamlined, so today was all about making sure it was organised. Now I can find everything I own straight away.
  • Day 20: Browsed through a new secondhand store – I’d been meaning to visit this store for ages, but today was the day I actually stopped for a browse. I was happy to discover it’s an op shop with genuine bargain prices. I’ll definitely be back.

March Challenge: Day 21 to 24

  • Day 21: Trimmed an annoying tree – There is a bottlebrush tree that grows across my driveway and it’s been annoying me for months. Every time I got into or out of the car the low hanging branches would get in my way. Not any more though!
  • Day 22: Replaced the smoke detectors – I’m embarrassed to admit just how long it’s been since we’ve had functional smoke detectors in our house. This task is perhaps a little boring, but oh so important. Even Jones was excited!
  • Day 23: Started re-teaching myself crochet – I haven’t crocheted in years, but it’s been on my ‘to do’ list for a while now. I’m slowly re-learning stitches and will hopefully get myself to a place where I can crochet a blanket for winter.
  • Day 24: Planned the autumn vege garden plantings – I’m so looking forward to growing some veges this year, and now is the time to get planting. I haven’t got too carried away with what I’ll be growing, I’ve just stuck to things that we currently eat.

So that leaves me with just the final update to come, where I’ll be letting you know what I got up to during the rest of March. I hope the month has been a good one for you. I actually thought March would be an ‘active’ month for me, but getting sick a couple of times slowed me down and gave me the opportunity to really think through a lot of things I’ve needed to get straight in my head for a while. So it looks like March will be remembered as a month of ‘different things’ and lots of thinking, while April will be a month of putting all that thought into action. Excitement awaits! What have you been up to? Let’s inspire each other! :)

Shadows in the Garden

Hello dear reader, are you having a good week? I certainly hope so. If I push to one side all the deep thinking I’ve been occupying myself with (because that’s all rather exhausting and ho-hum), things are pretty OK with me. As I sat down to type this little message to you, gentle rain was just beginning to fall, a gathering of rainbow lorikeets were screeching in colourful happiness just outside my window, and I was enjoying a very welcome cup mug of tea.

Hey carnations, you're beautiful! :)

So what’s up with that title then? Well I’m rather fond of pretty things in the garden and shadows are something that I always find fascinating. I actually thought that ‘Shadows in the Garden’ would make an excellent title for a Virginia Andrews book, and wouldn’t you know it? There is actually one that is very similar, rather ominously titled ‘Garden of Shadows’. I’ve never actually read one of her books, but I know they were incredibly popular with a lot of my high school peers back in the day.

Anyway, I digress … I bought myself this bunch of flowers earlier in the week, and I really wanted to share them with you because (a) they’re lovely, and (b) you deserve this bunch of flowers too. I’m sure I’ve told you before of how partial I am to carnations … yes, I know they’re a bit old-fashioned and dated, but they really have the most wonderful blooms, and as cut flowers they last for a really long time.

Flowers and shadows make for a pretty picture

At the moment I have so much to say, and yet at the same time not much of anything to say … so rather than wait for me to gather my thoughts, let’s just enjoy these flowers instead. While the flowers are clearly beautiful, most of all I’m loving the shadows which form a part of this floral arrangement … I hope you like it too!

PS. My Sparkapolooza piece for this fortnight’s brief ‘Throwing Shapes’ features shadows too … fancy that! Oh, and the Mr has also submitted his own artistic and wonderful creation … featuring ninjas! :)