New Year, Good and Bad

Rupert, getting a NYE nail trim. He cries and yelps if I ever do it, but was all smiles at the grooming salon.

So far, I’m giving 2018 a big thumbs down. It didn’t take long at all before something awful happened. One of my resolutions was to give distance, silence and no attention whatsoever to poisonous people, so I’m trying to stick to that even if I feel like dying and going to bed for the rest of the year. On the upside, I made the best lunch/dinner today. The most amazing chili con carne of my life, served as a burrito bowl with some brilliant guacamole (thanks, Nathan) and some really good pico de gallo (thanks, me). And on the downside, I was trimming Posie’s moustache and managed to snip a little v-shaped wedge into the fleshiest part of my palm. On the other upside, we ordered a new rug for the dining room this time, and I happened to have a coupon that saved me $109. So – good and bad.

Burrito bowl of dreams.

I have so much to do this year. I had a momentary freak out today that I’m already 2/365 days down, and I haven’t even begun on the big things that I need to get done. But at the same time, I felt kind of blank. Like the whole year stretched out ahead of me and the vastness of it was kind of overwhelming. I know it will feel short though, when I get to the end of it.

I originally wrote out a big list of goals, intentions and resolutions to share for the new year, but it feels too personal now. A lot of the things were boring but necessary obligations that will feel ultra boring in the process, but good at the final destination. A lot of the list was more a to-do list than anything really inspiring. So here is a heavily edited list of my resolutions for 2018, good vibes only:

I want to finally get everything framed so I can set up the gallery wall in my living room.
I will make a lot of smoothies.
I would like to read at least three books a month.
I am going to make better use of my vegetable garden.
I will be mindful about how much time I spend playing games/watching television/dicking around on the internet.
I want to listen to more music, preferrably on vinyl.
I would like to sing more often.
I am going to put fairy lights on every surface in the house, all year round.
I am going to make some quilts with all the fabric I bought in Bali, Taiwan and Japan.
I will get to my goal weight and do some serious culling of my wardrobe.
I want to actually decorate this house, make it feel like a home.
I want to practice the piano and learn the ukulele.
I plan to actually figure out how to use dropbox and google drive and stuff, so I can stop having to email myself files every time I want to transfer between phone and laptop.
I am going to be fluent in French at least by the end of the year. 

There’s so much more, but it’s kind of hard to be put on the spot. All this is a start though!

A Year of Magical Thinking

disney

So I’ve been trying to write this post for months, stopping and starting all the way since September. Despite all the horrible things that are beyond our control no matter what we do, I’m a big believer in trying to be the architect of your own happiness. And when I think of how much can happen in a year, it seems prudent to be aiming for something amazing rather than muddling on through with a vague hope that good things will happen.

You see, I want to be happy. In lots of ways now, I am happy… after a long time of never feeling it for more than a few minutes. There are some photos of me from when I was in my late teens where I am smiling and I have this giddy, wide-eyed, kid in a lolly factory look on my face, like I’m way more euphoric than I should be in the circumstances. I haven’t really talked about this here, but here goes: I guess knowing what the most unbearable lows can feel like has made me grab hold of happy moments so much tighter than somebody who had never known how low they could go. 2016 was dominated by lows for both of us, but every single day now seems brighter than the last. I know 2017 can’t be all perfect because nothing ever is, but I’m going to try my hardest to fit as much wonderful into it as I can.

So, instead of resolutions, these are more like hopes or wishes or goals. Whatever they are, 2017 will see…

Renovating our little house (now known as Rose Cottage – I’m totally getting a name plaque and everything! Laugh it up, Mum) – the whole shebang; new flooring in half the house, restumping, new kitchen, new bathroom, new laundry, some new windows, and finally buying proper grown-up furniture that we have been putting off for almost eight years now. This house will finally be a home, finally a nice place to live.

Getting fit and healthy, like I used to be once upon a time. We ordered a dog stroller so that I can finally go on the long walks I used to love without having to physically carry two little dogs (one who is practically disabled) when they get tired, or leave them at home alone… which causes no end of drama. It’s also a safety thing – we live near a nature reserve and a lot of people like to have their big, scary, aggressive dogs running around off leash while they talk on their phones or whatever. I read in the newspaper a while ago that our district was the worst for dog attacks, and I’m always wary of that after a few near misses. I will feel a thousand times safer if I know I can zip both dogs into the stroller in a couple of seconds and fend off a dog attack on my own, rather than have to protect them too.

Finishing this damn honours thesis. It’s way off track, I still don’t know what to do with it, but I will finish it. I have the perfect shoes planned for my next graduation ceremony, so I have to have that at least.

Going on more dates. Making more time for each other to do adventurous, exciting things. Putting effort into making the simple act of snuggling on the couch under a blanket while watching a movie into something special and memorable.

Pitching my first (and maybe second) novel to a traditional publisher at the Brisbane RWA conference in August. Self-publishing has been fun, but I am really keen to see a physical book with my name (or at least pseudonym) on the cover, as well as to have a working relationship with a real live editor for the first time.

Taking better care of myself. Some of this is routine stuff like going to the dentist more often and getting all my freckles checked, but there are a bunch of other things that have been dragging on for way too long and seriously altering my perception of what ‘normal’ is meant to feel like. I’m sure I will get sick of specialists and feeling like a pincushion, but it is better to know and be able to do something, than to live in denial and fear. But I’m also going to show compassion to myself in other ways, like forcing myself into healthy routines and scheduling time for things that make me feel good, like yoga, gardening, sewing and playing musical instruments.

Going swimming at least once a week (part mermaid, you know the deal).

Making an effort to decorate the house for holidays and special occasions. All our Christmas stuff looks so beautiful right now, I want things to be just as gorgeous for Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Winter Solstice, our birthdays, Halloween and any other excuse I can think of.

Biggest one of all – getting married. We’ve been headed there for a long time, and it will be so wonderful to finally just do it. Nathan’s so excited and it was really cute to get a Christmas card addressed to “my future wife” this year. We finally put some planning into the whole thing and definitely booked the two most major things – non-refundable deposits, so you know we’re serious (ha!). What we have planned is coincidentally very similar to what my parents did back in the day – we never chose this on purpose, it just happened to work out that way, which is strange and kind of nice. We are essentially having two weddings, or rather a marriage and a party – a small private ceremony, with a big all-in party two months later for all our extended family and friends. The plan was originally to do it all on one day, which was causing no end of tears and anxiety. It finally hit us that we would be so worried about the gigantic party we had to host that we wouldn’t actually be fully focused on pledging forever to each other, and isn’t the most important part of the whole day? We feel like geniuses about the way that things have worked out, for how well it suits us and how much more comfortable we will both feel on the days, but we know there will be hurt feelings and disappointment for some… but we really just had to do what was right for us, and hopefully people in time will respect that and still want to celebrate with us after the fact.

Some sort of amazing honeymoon. We were originally planning Tokyo, Okinawa and Taipei, but now Nathan has thrown all sorts of crazy possibilities into the mix, so watch this space. I’ve only ever been to Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and the US, so it’s a little scary, but a lot thrilling to think that we may go to a country or an entire continent that I’ve never seen before.

I want to FINALLY go to the tulip festival. And see the fairy penguins. And the Twelve Apostles.

And finally, for 2017 – I want to host Christmas at our house. I want it to be nice enough to actually do it and the kitchen usable enough to actually cook that much food. I want the front fence to be fixed in such a way that we can eat outside and the puppies can run around freely.

This list is huge. It feels so much bigger than anything I’ve ever achieved in a single year before, and sometimes I think about everything that needs to happen this year and wonder if I’m even capable. Inevitably, something will fall down. It’s a sure thing that something terrible will happen, there will be unforeseen challenges, or plans will get completely derailed. A year is short, but it’s also very long – there’s an awful lot of days in there for something wonderful and unexpected to happen. 2016 was ridiculously hard, but I’m counting on the universe kind of owing us some good times after everything we’ve already gone through. Or maybe I’ll just spend an entire year with all my fingers and toes crossed that luck will be on our side after such a rough ride.

We ate fish and chips, and drank some stupidly expensive (for cheapskates like us) champagne tonight, so here’s our little toast: to magical thinking. Here’s to optimism and gratitude. Here’s to creativity and the pursuit of knowledge. Here’s to bravery, hard work and discipline. Here’s to more cuddles, more kisses, more thank you notes, more wearing lipstick “just because”. Here’s to enjoying the tiny, fleeting moments of unparalleled joy, like watching Posie lift her back leg as a signal for us to pat the soft part of her tummy, or when Rupert rolls his treat-dispensing brain game around the floor and barks at it in frustration. Or how ridiculously happy they were to get their own individual plates of sushi for Christmas Eve. Here’s to no longer delaying happiness when it’s never a sure thing that any of us will be around tomorrow to enjoy it. Here’s to hope, peace, kindness, and most of all, love!

Yes, it really happened. 🙂

The Year That Was

January

Only a few hours into the new year, we got engaged! It was an incredibly long time coming and was the sweetest, coziest, most heartfelt proposal I could have wished for. We gorged ourselves on mussels at my family’s annual Mussel Festival weekend five course extravaganza. We also shined up pretty nice for a family wedding and went to Hobart for the MONA festival. But David Bowie died and that was pretty awful.

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February
Posie got injured and started an incredibly long recovery period with lots of ups and downs, and our whole existence was suddenly focused almost entirely on the exhausting task of attending to her needs, monitoring her progress, ferrying her to endless appointments, cleaning up vomit and administering pills up to eight times a day. This was not a fun month.

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March
Not the greatest month either. Looking after Posie was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting, and then there was something else that left us reeling in grief, anger, sadness and lots of conflicted feelings. And then as if that wasn’t enough, there was more bad news that threw everything into chaos. Probably better to pretend this month didn’t exist. Although, looking back, I’m so proud of us for getting through this month and supporting each other.

April
A ray of light – I graduated! First of several graduations, hopefully. It meant so much to me, and I was so damn proud of myself.

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May
Mother’s Day + Posie turned 7 + Jennifer’s birthday + Dad turned 60 and we got him a unicycle + I got to see La Bohème and The Pearlfishers with Mum and Dad. Posie had a setback, which was hard for all of us, but especially Dad – he would never admit to favourites, but Posie is Poppy’s little darling girl.

opera

June
I took a tumble in the parking lot at the vet, sprained my ankle and took all the skin off my knee (I still have a big scar from this), but I got to go back to Taipei and Tokyo! All by myself, to boot. It was quite an adventure and it made me feel so brave and capable and independent, which are all things I don’t get to feel so much on a daily basis. I also got to meet Tango, our miraculous little sponsor dog.

passport

July
My cousin threw herself a fabulous Christmas in July themed birthday party and Nathan finally got an (appropriate) opportunity to wear one of his black metal Christmas sweaters. I did a fun run with Dad and Jennifer (even if I did walk most of it, which was okay considering my ankle situation) and we tried our best to survive the cold winter without proper heating.

christmas jumper

August
I dreamed of summer, Mum turned 59, but I also attended my first conference. Such an eye-opening experience, and nothing makes you feel like a legit writer like actually attending an industry event. I didn’t pitch this year – I wanted to scope it all out first. I made some great contacts and met people who have turned out to be the most delightful, interesting individuals that I can’t wait to get to know better. Already booked accommodation and flights for next year in Brisbane, already working hard on having at least one (but hopefully two) manuscripts ready for pitching.

cocktail party

September
Nine wonderful years together! Also, Father’s Day and Patrick’s birthday. And then Nathan turned 33, and I embarked on the last year of my twenties… and subsequently freaked out a bit that I should have achieved more by now. I tried some eight minute writing prompts during this month as well, which I need to get back into. My garden came alive again too, which was very welcome after a long winter.

last night

October
My Honours thesis pretty much fell over this month – don’t worry, it will get back on track! I just need to find a few perspective. We attended another family wedding, a BIG one. And Posie and Rupert were pretty much the best dogs in the world, no contest.

Posie and Rupert, snuggling

November
Mum and I went to Bali on our little mother-daughter adventure. Bintangs, batiks, tapas, swimming, monkeys, activities, fun. I wrote about it 1234 times I got home just in time for Prince Rupert to turn 11 – we had planned on having a hot dog party for him, but life got in the way. But it’s totally on for next year, and he’s even got a little costume to wear.

ibu oka

December
Nathan and I went on our biggest, most ambitious adventure to date which I will be posting about in the new year – Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara. I always feel so grateful that we’ve had all this time together before having kids to go on these types of adventures and really enjoy spending time together, and we’re already plotting all sorts of exciting possibilities for our honeymoon. I got to fulfill a lifelong dream and go to Disneyland (actually, DisneySea – Tokyo Disneyland is for next time). We got home in time for Caitlin’s birthday, and of course, Christmas. We got a new tree for the first time ever and I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to pack it away, it’s so beautiful.

thumper and miss bunny

Overall…
I think 2016 mostly sucked for mostly everybody. There was so much about this year that was challenging, exhausting, shocking, painful, and there was a big dose of depression for both of us – we really had the drag ourselves through most of the year. But there were definitely sparkly bits, little moments of wonderful, big moments of fabulous. Looking back over the year, I don’t want to ignore the troubles that we endured, but I don’t want to dwell either – I would rather just be proud of us for getting through it all, and ending the year on such a high. 2017 – you are going to be amazing!