Edition #14
May 28th 2021
On my mind this week:
Melbourne is heading back into a lock down which at the outset is 7 days but really the length and breadth of this is very unclear. I want to say from the outset that maybe it will just be a week (fingers and toes very much crossed) but the looming nature of the headlines, talk of exposure sites and contact tracing, mask mandates and household restrictions have all risen spectre-like overnight. This may be doom and gloom but I want to just outline my thoughts and feelings from the minute this all started to unfold so that maybe if they ring true for you, you also might feel you’re not alone. In some ways I would really love it if this experience I’m having is collective rather than my own individual minor unravelling. To preface this I know that each one of us has a story and a set of circumstances, personal backdrops to the events of the last year and half, when the world went to hell in a hand basket (though if I’m honest I think it’s really been positioning itself inside this wicker receptacle for longer than that). Mine is by no means awful, in fact I am so lucky to live under a warm roof, with a good job and a family that I love. Lucky is the word. Though not particularly unique or even that monumental in the scheme of things here is my backdrop.

One of my oldest and dearest friends has been living interstate for the past few years and is getting married in 3 weeks. I burst into tears when she popped down for a visit over Summer and asked me to be her bridesmaid. After the swirl of 2020 difficulties, the shock of the pandemic, the worry for our company, having a baby in one of the strictest lockdowns in the world while running a business, home schooling a 4 year old and coping with some health complications, the idea of escaping Melbourne winter to stand beside my beautiful friend while she married her gorgeous bloke under a tropical sun felt like a dream. Up until yesterday it was a dream that had a new dress, two plane flights, some seriously well-planned beach appropriate outfits, new bathers, a lovely hotel room with a view (and a pool) and a sunset cruise attached. There’s something else I’ll admit to as well. After my second little human my body felt completely unrecognisable. I discovered running in my early 20s and since then have always felt most myself when I’m really pushing myself with exercise. It makes me feel strong and level and helps me cope with my inner critic (Maude that saucy, unrelenting minx) and just generally being a very sensitive ball of human. After my baby my body felt much closer to a giant blob of playdough or cooked spaghetti meaning my thoughts felt like that too. Bit of a dangerous time to live in my head when I’m also sleep deprived. Luckily my two tiny humans have been so magically consuming in time and also in love that I make it through but I’ve been really proud to say that over the past 6 months I’ve found myself again, in each workout at my gym. My body feels strong and so mentally I’ve felt strong too. Trying on bridesmaid dresses 6 months after having a baby was a tough experience. So trivial and vapid I know but I’m being honest here so well here we are. I thought I’d dealt with the food stuff and the body image stuff but as I’ve discovered often with mental health things, just when you think you’ve got something handled it can come back with verocity. So at 35 I felt defeated and almost terrified that I couldn’t fit into most of the bridesmaids dresses we tried. The cruellest part for me was the still looking very pregnant 8 months after birth, so much so that I had a lot of people ask me if I was pregnant. Outright. Here’s a tip for free, if you don’t know if someone is pregnant, meaning if they haven’t told you themselves, don’t say anything. No matter how sure you might be. Just not necessary. And another thing to add to my rant/newsletter, sizing needs to be much better and more indicative of the actual humans it is being designed for (the average Australian woman is a size 14 to 16).

ANYWAY all this is to say that over the past 6 months I’ve been working my arse off (literally) to feel healthier and stronger in my body and in myself. Partly because of the tropical holiday wedding and the walking down the aisle in a dress thing but also to find myself again. I’m not really that much different in dress size but I can lift heavy things and run pretty far and I no longer have people asking about my pregnant belly. In a world of diabolical things the above is so very small an issue but to me it is has been big so I’m allowing myself to feel all of it and not beat myself up.  What does this have to do with the lockdown and Melbourne you may ask? Well just that I’ve been holding onto the joy of this trip for my friend, as motivation to get me through gruelling workouts and eat well and also for the idea that for one week I can feel like me again before baby 2.0 and covid lockdown (in sunglasses and a floppy hat, poolside). The hope of a slice of normalcy and maybe a bit of time to take a breath, hug my oldest pal, drink champagne and feel the sun on my face. 3 weeks away and it feels cruel that most likely I won’t get there. The grief of cancelled plans, of uncertainty, of not being able to see loved ones and be cut off from our social circles and the things we hold dear is in no way new over the last few years. And as much as we know collectively whatever situation we are in that there are others worse off, I don’t think it means we should invalidate our own feelings of disappointment and sadness. So if you need permission to feel furious or sad or have a giant cry because life feels uncertain and your world can change on a dime, this is the place. It’s okay to feel it. To acknowledge that you have lost something tangible or intangible. That those plans meant something to you, in your life, at this time and to no longer be able to rely on future plans with certainty is like walking in a new place on unstable ground. Others may have been walking this way for a long time, but if it’s new for you it’s still your story to experience how you will. I think acknowledging and accepting pain is the only way to get through. That and some seriously sweaty workouts. One final thing I’ll leave you with. One pattern that over 35 years I’ve become very familiar with is the one where once something bad happens I throw a tantrum in my head with Maude overriding all executive functions. She can be very destructive when she wants to be. When I heard this morning that there had been a covid positive person in attendance at a football match with over 5000 people possibly exposed, Maude came crashing in. Don’t go to the gym. Have chocolate for breakfast. You shouldn’t feel bad, you’re a bad person for feeling bad about possibly not attending the wedding. Go on. Let’s yell at your kids. Let’s drink coffee and sulk. Why don’t you order that croissant and then maybe that cookie and then crawl back into bed. Don’t do that podcast. Don’t email anyone back. Definitely don’t go to the gym. Sit on the internet and trawl through useless information about people or places you’re never going to go. What can we do that would really be self destructive? How about looking at Instagram accounts of people you don’t know who appear to have everything figured out, just to really torture yourself?

Chances are in the past Maude has been a voice that has won but here’s what I’ve learned to short circuit the spiralling negative talk. Routine. And kindness. The first line I try and use is from Liz Gilbert and it just says ‘really good try sweet heart. You’re going through a tough time and that’s okay. It’s hard to find solutions to problems out of your hands, so all these things are a good try’. Next up I did all the things I needed to do and I turned off the news. I made breakfast for my little humans, helped my son make a yoda keyring for his school bag, wiped weet-bix off my daughter’s face, made myself a coffee, got everyone ready for school. I took five extra minutes to put on some face oil and bb cream because it makes me feel calm and good and feels like a mini hug for my face and brain. I walked to school drop off, chatted to parents, gave my son a tight hug and then walked home. I felt like curling into a ball but instead I stuck to my routine and went to the gym under a dark cloud. And the gym helped lift it a little. I also treated myself to really yummy eggs and bought a choc chip cookie to share with James when I got home. Most importantly I didn’t try to stop myself from feeling frustrated or disappointed I just let those thoughts be. Walking back to my car I really did (as naff as this sounds) imagine what I would say if a friend of mine was in the same situation, how I would completely understand that they were upset, that I would want to listen to them vent, give them a hug and give them space to let it out. So that’s what I did for me. Lastly I sat down at my laptop with my doggo at my feet and wrote this to you. And in the process I’ve somehow got to a better place. So will I be watching one of my favourite people get married in a pretty dress with the sun on my face and a bouquet in my hands? Maybe not. Maybe it’ll be me looking at a zoom screen with a glass of champagne. But either way what I do know is I will still have my wonderful pal of 20 years in my life and she will still be able to marry her best friend even if it will look different than we imagined. I’ve learnt that the way we acknowledge and care for our pain helps us to make it through to the other side. What ever the cause, be kind to yourself. You’re the only you you’ve got after all. Radical self-love. When you’re feeling miserable do more nice things for yourself not less. Moisturise. Routine. Exercise.  And coffee.

Lots of love to you this week. No recommendations or a recipe today, just a rant and a talking to on self-love I reckon is what the doctor ordered.
Til next week.
Tonts xxx
Ps. I must apologise for last week’s Lemon Impossible Pie, you can listen to ‘a couple of gays about town’ from Cardiff, Georgia and Lottie who are Suggestible listeners outlining their lemony egg disaster at the end of
this week’s episode. In the process of making the impossible possible last week I made your job harder by putting the cook time in wrong. It should be one hour of baking not 25 minutes. Godspeed. And if you want to try a similar but different lemon impossible pie try this one. It takes a bit more fluffing about as you need to fluff up the egg whites but it’s divine especially with vanilla ice cream.
I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which I write today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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