I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks now… which is my problem, you see, I am really bad at sticking my scheduled time to write for Finding Joy. Sure, I’ve spent time writing for a bunch of other blogs or publications (the ones that *cough* pay me), but I am constantly breaking the cardinal rule of blogging by not posting regularly enough. Sorry guys.
So, uh, as per usual, a lot has happened since you last heard from me. And a lot will happen between now and the next time you hear from me. But for now, here’s a quick run down (all of these, by the way, deserved to have their own dedicated post… but you know… life).
We are still waiting for our house
I hate waiting. Like, really hate it. I am probably the most impatient woman to have ever set foot on this earth. But man, I have gotten really good at it, because that is ALL WE EVER DO when it comes to this first build. Just to give you an idea of our timeline so far:
- February 2015: (yes, TWENTY-FIFTEEN) Purchased our block of land
- February 2015 – December 2016: WAITING WAITING WAITING
- December 2016: Land was registered by the local council
- January – May 2017: WAITING WAITING WAITING for builder to get our floor plans right
- June 2017: Colours appointment and contract signing with builder
- July 2017: WAITING WAITING WAITING for the bank
Sometimes it feels like every person and his/her pet goldfish will have a house with perfect landscaping and a granny flat before we even get our slab laid.
And this doesn’t include all the waiting we’ve done thanks to contractors who promise me quotes on custom cabinetry but never actually send me anything.
Or the waiting for the kitchen tap which I spent a stupid amount of time sourcing, only to have the New Zealand supplier stuff me around and make me wait 2 weeks instead of the 3 days I was promised (I’m still waiting for it to arrive by the way. Our kitchen might be beautiful when it’s finally built, but only God knows if it will have a tap).
The clincher is that construction hasn’t even begun and I already am soooo over it! And I know the construction phase is when things are gonna get about a million times more stressful. Did I mention we also have yet to choose our bedroom flooring, tiles and finalise the electrical?
So, yes. The house build consumes far too much of my mental energy than it should. People keep telling me it’ll be worth it. I sometimes wonder if we should have just stayed in that simple little townhouse that was 5 minutes away from everything we ever needed. *cue tears*
This has been a year of learning
When I’m not dreaming about or waking up in sweat because of kitchen taps, bathroom tiles or non-existent joinery quotes, I spend my time learning. A LOT. In between nappy changes, feeds, school pick ups and drop offs, magazines pitches and article submissions, I’ve completed quite a few courses – most of them online.
I spend my time in the car (or during long lunches while coaxing Mr Z to eat – and not drop – his food) listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or a module about creative writing, mastering the freelance life, SEO or digital marketing. It is amazing how much one can learn while hanging up or folding a load of laundry.
NB: If you want to brush up on your writing skills head to The Australian Writers Centre. For all things SEO and copywriting check out the infamous “misfit entrepreneur”, Kate Toon. (Don’t worry, I’ll write a post about my favourite courses and podcasts soon).
The upside is I have spent most of the second half of my year of maternity leave upskilling, so my transition back to my part-time job (which is scheduled for mid-August – wahhhhh!) won’t be as much of a shock compared to my first time re-entering the workforce after a long break.
The downside is I don’t actually feel like I’ve had a “break”. My brain is always on, always stimulated, always processing, learning or doing. This isn’t new though; I think most mums feel this way even if they don’t spend any of their time doing any formal learning. I mean, we are ALWAYS thinking about something and having to learn some new management skill to keep the household in order. I guess the only difference this year is that I’ve assigned a larger part of my brain space to skills that are related to mastering the craft and business of writing, as opposed to “just” managing my household or keeping my children alive.
The latter two, by the way, are WAY harder than any of the formal learning I’ve undertaken. Remember this viral comic – the one about the mental load? That shit is real.
Speaking of learning, I went to the Sydney Writers’ Festival
Yeah, ok, SWF2017 was way back in May, and we’re in July. But it would be horrible for me not to tell you how good it was. For me, the Sydney Writers’ Festival is the redeeming part of May (which is usually about the same time the weather starts to get cold) and it’s one of my favourite times of the year. I was only around for a day but spent the better part of it at the “Truth and Fiction in Memoir” workshop run by the infamous Patti Miller at NYU’s Sydney campus.
I was blown away in that workshop; Patti has so much knowledge about the craft of memoir writing and shared it generously with everyone in the room. The biggest highlight was towards the end of the workshop when she gave us the first line of our text, then we wrote for 15 minutes straight and read what we’d written to the rest of the class. Sharing raw, unedited writing is both gut-wrenching and freeing; I learnt a lot from the techniques Patti and the other writers employed but also felt like I had somehow entered sacred ground; so much of memoir writing requires openness and vulnerability.
I walked away from the experience encouraged but also challenged. In just one page of my scribble, Patti recognised a story worth telling, but one I’d find difficult to get on the page. Mostly because I know the book I should write will require the unearthing and expression of experiences most people aren’t comfortable discussing. But that’s what makes good stories great, right? Honesty. Vulnerability.
Anyway, I feel sort of bad because that workshop was a month ago, and the single page of scribble has been sitting in my bullet journal, untouched. I should probably pick it up and add to it.
Write the damn book, Joy.
I will, I promise.
On the topic of honesty and vulnerability, I have some pretty news I’m totally stoked about:
I’m officially a columnist
Immediately after the workshop with Patti Miller, I had a meeting with the editor of The Catholic Weekly, and scored a gig as a regular contributor. I don’t think the joy of this accomplishment really hit me until I started getting feedback from readers about the stuff I was writing about; people were writing to me or commenting on the posts and thanking me for providing a raw, real, take on faith. It makes my heart swell to know the words I string together can make someone feel encouraged, understood, or a little less alone.
The best thing? I get to write about things I love. I get to be honest, real and a tad controversial (have you seen this column about the how the feminist narrative we were sold growing up is all screwed up? Had to laugh when I saw the headline that the editor gave it).
I can tick “columnist” off my Life Goals list (I’m kidding, I don’t really have a Life Goals list… it’d be too long). Anyhoo, excuse my while I pat myself on the back. I’m feeling pretty chuffed.
Stuff on the “I did” list
It’s a bit crazy, thinking that half of 2017 has already disappeared. As part of my bullet journaling, I’ve made it a thing to look back and reflect on things I’ve accomplished at the end of every month. Here’s some of the stuff on my list:
- I appeared as a speaker on The FaithFeed in June (I’ll share more about this soon – the process of writing and workshopping my testimony was amazing, as was meeting the people who were in the audience after I delivered it).
- I built a few websites and ran some workshops to help some amazing businesses establish a kick-ass online presence. The best bit has been receiving emails that affirm my work and effort has been received well and people enjoyed the process. High-fives all around.
- I created and shipped about a dozen hand-made brush lettered custom prints. This passion project makes me sooo happy because I know the prints make other people happy. More high fives!
- I’ve written about 6,000 words of my fiction novel. They’re crap, but they’re written, and that’s good enough for now.
- I kept my two kids alive, fed and mostly happy.
- I’ve managed to stay somewhat sane despite constantly having to wake up and feed one kid, or ask the other one to stop headbutting me in my own bed.
- I have re-built enough core strength to plank on my toes for over 60 seconds and do 29 push ups in a minute (for context, 8 months ago I couldn’t plank at all, not even on my knees, let alone on my toes thanks to the havoc my second pregnancy wreaked on my core muscles).
- I watched the reboot of Power Rangers and the new Wonder Woman movie with Gal Gadot.
- I finished reading 4 books.
Writing a list like this is a great way to counter our culture of “scarcity” – the feeling of not being or doing enough. The idea of this culture of “scarcity” comes from the audiobook I’m listening to at the moment: The Power of Vulnerability, by Dr Brené Brown. She says the following:
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. …Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack. This mindset of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.”
If this sounds familiar to you and you’re always writing (or thinking about) a never-ending “to do” list, I highly recommend stopping for a few minutes and writing an “I did” list. Add anything and everything you are glad you spent time on – it’s incredibly satisfying.
If you’ve managed to read this far into my update on life, thanks a billion. I’d love to know what’s on your “I did” list. Hit me up in the comments, and see you soon (promise I won’t take as long a break between posts).