Perfection & Fear

Since my last post I have been thinking more about my perfectionist tendencies and how they have held me back in life. There was so much I wanted to do, to try, but the fear of not being perfect at it first time made me not give up…but not even try in the first place. So here is my (non exhaustive) list of things I have not tried, but wanted to, because I knew I thought not be perfect at it..

1. Sing In Public

My grandmother was an amazing jazz singer. I grew up watching musicals. My brother and I used to sing all the duets from Disney musicals together (in the safety of my bedroom and my pacifist brother who wouldn’t have criticised me ever…well not back then). I love music. I also love to sing….but you wouldn’t know it as I have a strict no singing in public motto. I know I don’t have a beautiful voice like my gran so I just will not sing in public. Yesterday Miss 12 & I attended a Grease sing-a-long and she sang along with gusto (as did the rest of the audience). I remained tight lipped in fear someone would hear me. The only people who have heard me sing are the girls (and probably their father who wisely has never even mentioned overhearing me sing). When they were babies I would sing them “You are my Sunshine” and every now and then I have a sick child crawl into my arms and demand I sing it again.

2. Run
This one I think I am slowly beating. But given as how I have stalled in moving on to the next week with the Couch to 5km app I think it is still fear holding me back. I spent much of my teenage life living in a small beach side town in rural NSW. It seemed everyone was athletic – except me. I also had incredibly weak ankles growing up and they ached all the time. Also I am almost blind in one eye … my glasses are supposed to correct both eyes so I have the same vision with them on. Great in theory, but in reality they can never get it just right and I have almost no depth perception. I can’t see shallow holes in the ground. Which meant whenever I had to run around the school oval I almost always hurt myself. My foot would find a hole and my weak ankles would collapse and I would be unable to walk for a week. I now run on a footpath I know. I know which square is raised slightly. I know because I run laps up & down this 200m path 3-5 times a week. But still fear is holding me back from moving to the next level. I am afraid that I won’t be able to do the longer runs (it is a run/walk to recover/run again – repeat program slowly building up to running) so I stay on week 1. Even though when I started my run was more of a shuffle and now I am running. Even though I am covering more ground every time I go out (in the same time). Even though I now have great shoes that support me. Even though I have nothing to loose. I just can’t seem to do it.

3. Finish My Work
This is a big one. This one still wakes me up at night in a cold sweat. This makes me ashamed to still be alive (I know that sounds horrible, but I can’t help but feel if I was dead my clients would have been better off). I still have unfinished client jobs. Including several weddings. I had friends offer to take over when I was in hospital. I had retouchers and gifted photographers willing to take over all my client jobs. But I was certain I would get better. I feared what the clients would think of me for not doing it myself. I feared how the photos would turn out if I didn’t do them myself. Then the longer it went on the bigger the fear got. Now I can’t look at my work without having a panic attack. Its been over two years since I shot my last wedding. Now I fear having to contact my clients (who have I guess long since given up) and tell them I can’t do it. Or that I can do it. That I have done it. I fear it all. None of the photographers who initially offered are in contact with me any more. In fact not a single photographer (Including those I mentored, took into my home, gave their careers a start – not for any money) remained in contact with me. I am scared of putting myself out there. I am scared a client will find my blog, see I am living again and accuse me of being a horrible person. I am scared you will all judge me harshly for it.

4. Press Charges

Recently I discovered in NSW their is no statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. In the 18 years since I was abused not one single person (councellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, womens health workers, doctors) have informed me of my right to press charges.I had been linked to an article about how shoddy the system was in some places in the world in regards to the time limits. Mainly as something like child sexual abuse, especially as it is commonly a family member, is almost never addressed when the person is still young. I know that had I been told this ten years ago I probably would have declined. It was still too fresh. My mum & I were barely speaking again. It was too much for me to deal with. I was terrified. After everything I just assumed it had been too long. The information that I could still go to the police and report it was overwhelming. I was so incredibly angry that no one had given me the option. Now I have the option but fear is again holding me back. My mum is completely unreliable…she wavers between refusing it ever happened, to showing me the piece of paper from DOCS that says there was “insufficient evidence” to do anything to telling everyone how she tricked him into admitting it. None of those things happened the way she claims they do (she likes to rewrite uncomfortable history so she is the hero, never the villian). I am not in contact with any of the people I told in high school. The school counsellors never reported it. My only other possible witness is my brother. He is just 18 months younger than me and lived in the house at the time. The last time it was discussed with him was 17 years ago when my dad grilled him and he claimed to know nothing (the guy walked around the house naked and masturbated in the loungeroom in the afternoons when we were home…if my brother didn’t notice there is something wrong with him). While I can remember exactly some moments I couldn’t give an accurate timeline. Fear of upsetting my brother (my 12 year younger brother…after all it is his dad I would be going after), fear of the police laughing at me and telling me I have no hope. Fear of having to come face to face with him again (I have had to do that enough given he is my brothers dad). Fear of what my crazy mother would say. Fear of having to have a real conversation with my brother about what happened. Fear that people will assume I have some ulterior motive (the popular one in my family is “she is looking for attention”). Fear of having to relive something that already haunts me everyday.

Fear of the not perfect outcome is holding me back from so much. It’s all well and good for me to post a picture of my messy bedside table…even to talk about not being able to sing in public. But even if I can’t press charges or finish the work myself…I need to find some way of moving forward without being paralysed with fear that it might not turn out “right”.

project:girl

Coming Home

That’s how I feel at the moment, like I am finally coming home again.

In the lead up to what has come to be known as my total implosion two years ago I stopped shooting (photography). My business collapsed and I couldn’t even work in the charity I had built from the ground up (a photography charity). Then I stopped picking up my camera all together. After I got out of hospital I took a handful of shots of the girls in a bright moment and then a few days later had to sell all my top of the line gear as it was christmas, I had bankrupted the business…and us in the process…and it was the only thing we had of value to sell. I still had a few cameras, but they were all film and required too much effort. Reality is though, I couldn’t have sat down to a digital image anyway….I just wasn’t ready.

one of the last shots I took in September 2010

From those last photos I took of the girls I didn’t pick up a camera again until the end of last year, when I got a new iPhone. It had been almost 14 months since I had shot anything and we went to visit some friends in the country. There was an old abandoned house she wanted to take photos of and wanted some help with her camera. Those who know me from my photography days know breaking into abandoned places to shoot was old hat for me…usually dragging clients along for the ride. While we were there I started taking some shots with the phone. We had great fun until someone threatened to call the cops – I just pleaded ignorance like I always did (a very wise photographer once said “ask forgiveness, not permission”). When I got home I pulled some of the images up on my computer and was kind of blown away. I bought the original iphone 3g the day it came out in aus. It was great for a camera phone…but sucked as a camera (if that makes sense). But the iphone 4 was so clear and crisp.

abandoned house in rural vic

A little spark came back. Up until I saw those images I really thought everything I had learnt was gone, any bit of creativity of talent I had was gone – along with my career. But these images gave me hope. Maybe one day I could shoot again. Maybe one day I could pick up a real camera. But I still wasn’t even close to being well. Looking at my film cameras made me sick. I felt an impending sense of doom and dread when I loaded photoshop. I wasn’t ready.

Instead I busied myself with reducing the medication that had amputated my love of life, photography and any creativity I had. I busied myself in homeschool. In healing my body. In learning to run. Then I had a massive backslide, which in one stupid move, ended up giving me my life back. The CAT team did little for me emotionally or mentally. But they did prescribe me a sleeping pill that seems to have given me back to my family & myself. I hadn’t slept properly in 21 years (I was diagnosed with chronic insomnia when I was just nine years old). The medications I had been given all sedated me, but never gave me any sleep. They left me hung over and unable to function the next day. These ones put me to sleep, but then stop working. If I miss my window (by trying to do other things) then I can’t sleep until I take them again. I wake up 6-8 hours after taking them like an internal alarm clock has gone off. All of a sudden I am a morning person. A pleasant person. I don’t go to pieces when things fall apart. I smile. I laugh. I live.

I pretty much forgot all about photography until hubby remembered I had put two rolls of film, my first rolls from my holga, in to be developed two years ago. I actually dropped them off on a day release from hospital. He picked them up and was nice enough to grab me a roll of replacement film, just in case. He came home again and we were busy with dinner and bed times and all the other fun stuff that happens between 3:30pm and 9pm when you’re a parent.

He bought in the film disks…I didn’t even remember requesting a CD instead of prints. So I popped it in the computer. Colour film first and was greeted to a sea of pink. The Holga (a plastic toy camera) I shot the film with is notorious for it’s unpredictability and it’s light leaks. As I had never tried more than two rolls (shot one after the other in a few days three years ago) I didn’t know what to expect of mine. But in the pink haze I fell in love with photography all over again…especially film photography.

unexpectedly beautiful

This shot moves me. It’s hard to explain, I guess, if you don’t know the children in the photo. Miss H is kissing Miss A…this NEVER happens. Miss H is the dominant twin and also the less affectionate of the two. Every photo I have of the two of them it is Miss A lavishing love and affection on her twin. I knew I could pull it into photoshop and “save” it. I could colour & exposure correct it, hell turn it black & white and avoid most of the issues entirely. But why? It is so perfectly imperfect that I just couldn’t. I want it on my wall. I look at it and tear up.

It is the opposite of the work I was known for. I shot “edgy” stuff in regards to the backgrounds. I took clients and their families to dirty, grimey, beautifully dirty places and took beautiful photos of their children and families. I retouched scrapes and double chins. I airbrushed imperfections. I even filled in a gap in a childs tooth once (by request). None of those photos were real. I prided myself on the non-cheesy grin, as I spent up to 3-4 hours with each family getting to know them. I made their kids genuinely laugh…but the rest, well it was rarely real. I got closer to real in wedding photography. Always surveying the crowd, looking for intimate, special, one off moments to capture. But they always went home with the grinning group photo on their wall. Toward the end it’s no wonder I burnt out. I don’t think I was doing what I loved any more.

I remember the first time I KNEW I was a photographer. The first time a photo I took moved me to tears. Miss 11 was four years old. It had been a rough few years. Things had been so ridiculously hard with her aspergers and at the time chronic OCD (which was being treated by a specialist at the childrens hospital). It was a time of tears and frustration. A time when our daughter couldn’t maintain eye contact with any one. Her father couldn’t cope and the other three kids avoided her like the plague. It was just me and her. I was learning on my new digital SLR. She would sometimes sit and let me take photos (other times she would just scream at me). Then I got this shot…

for a moment, she looked right at me

When I opened it up the tears came. I had proof. She had looked at me and the stars aligned so I could record it forever. It still makes me cry. It was the start of a new life for her and me. She blossomed soon after this. Had friends. Started to socialise, to talk, to make eye contact. I showed anyone who would look this photo. I put it on her birthday invitation. Which led to people asking me to take photos of their kids. This moment, frozen in time, opened a whole new chapter in my life. Overnight I had a business. I had a calling. I felt useful. I was providing my family with money, I was enjoying my “job”, I hung out with kids all day and their awesome families. I met new people, learnt new things. Up until then I was a stay at home mum with four kids under five, in a city I had never been before, with no friends, no family and every single day was hard and horrible. This photo changed everything.

But as a perfectionist, I guess it was only a matter of time before it almost killed me. Always in search of the perfect shot. The perfect light. The perfect moment. When I decided I needed more photos of my kids I dragged them out and spent the whole time yelling and screaming (the exact opposite of the way I dealt with clients kids). It got to the point that when the kids saw the work camera come out they would cry, run away….or both. I always loved the simple old shots their dad would get on his mobile phone or on his point & shoot camera. I was missing out on capturing the stuff everyone has of their childhood. It was too much stress. Even the shots I do have are buried somewhere on a hard drive because I shot like I would for work – lots of photos  & in RAW format…meaning I needed to put in the same hours to finish a family shot as I would a whole wedding.

My charity work was the opposite of perfect. We were the ones called when a child or baby was dying. When the families needed something, anything. I sat with families as their children took their last breath, and documented it for them. The hardest thing about not being apart of this organisation any more is that I knew I was doing my lifes work. What I was born to do. It was all real and there was no audience beyond the family. While I felt run down and exhausted with my paying clients (and with the admin of the charity) I never felt that way when I was working for the charity. A lot of people assume it was this work that burnt me out, that pushed me towards a nervous breakdown. But it did the opposite. It gave me hope. It made me strive to be a better parent. To try to cherish every moment. I miss it every day….which probably makes me sound like a total freak. But imagine finding your lifes purpose and then loosing it. Imagine finding something you can do amazingly and then not being able to any more. It is probably a big part of the reason I stopped shooting entirely.

But deep down…I was still a perfectionist. I would still scrub the house from top to bottom before a visitor (or I would meet them somewhere else). I still struggled to do any school with the girls until everything was printed, bound and perfectly organised. I still couldn’t buy groceries unless we had an entire meal plan for the week. I couldn’t leave the house unless I looked “perfect”…which never happened, so I didn’t leave the house. I didn’t shoot because I didn’t have a top of the line digital SLR and working photoshop. I fell back on the medication excuse … that I got hand tremors and couldn’t hold a camera, which hadn’t been true in over a year. I didn’t want to produce substandard results…even if it was just me who was going to see them. I couldn’t fail AGAIN. So it was easier not to try.

my backyard (three houses ago) three years ago…when I was busy living

By the time I got the the b&w roll I was relieved. Maybe it didn’t have to be perfect. After all, when I considered my life to be perfect this was how my backyard looked. I was never perfect. I may have tried to cultivate that image by only showing people the glossy, beautiful, airbrushed side….but it was never perfect. I tried too hard and subsequently everyone was shocked when I lost it. How could someone so “together” fall apart so chronically. Only my husband (and my kids) knew how imperfect and fragile I was.

That’s part of why I started this blog. I needed somewhere to not be perfect. Until I could stand anywhere, with anyone and just *be*, I needed to force all my shit out there. As such this blog became a place where  I was the most flawed.

I found it liberating.

In the ruins of my old life, I have found a new one. But finding photography again, freed from the shackles of perfection, is …. beautiful/special/overwhelming/amazing/scary/perfect

My favourite image from my b&w roll was one of my eldest daughter. The only one of the girls who relished “model” time in front of the camera. She regularly offered her services when photography workshops were run by people we knew. She has a knack for being impeccably groomed, knowing just how to smile, how to make the light work for her. This shot is her, and me. It is her being imperfect and not liking it. She is after all, my daughter. She has the same tendency to wan everything to be perfect. To refuse a photo unless she looks just right. To not want to spell anything she doesn’t know in case she makes a mistake. To not want to perform unless she is sure she knows all the moves in case it’s not just right. And it’s this image of her that I adore….

Another one I would love to frame and hang on the wall…of course I would then have to put up with death stares and tantrums until I took it down and replaced it with something more like this

After I went through my film photos and fell in love with the imperfectness of them all …. I went online and purchased a pack of polaroid film from the impossible project (when the polaroid film company shut down a group of polaroid enthusiasts bought the last factory and are now making limited edition polaroid films for all polaroid cameras). It arrived just two days later and so I took out my Polaroid Impulse (found at an opshop for $5) and loaded it. The battery for the camera is located in the film cartridge so I got the shock of my life as everything whirred and clicked. It then proceeded to spit out a photo of nothing….it was just blue. I tried to figure out something to take a picture of and decided my bedside table would be a winner. Still not getting it I tided it up and staked my books neatly.

sterile…and boring

I couldn’t quite figure out what went wrong. I loved the faded colour, the cool tone (even though I normally would warm up any of my photos I used to shoot) and even the terrible focus and blurriness…but the subject itself, blah. I need to remove the giant pole I have had up my backside since I was born. So in an attempt to show just how imperfect I am this is my bedside table in it’s….more natural state.

My “real” bedside table

Next to my bedside table is my tray – I eat most of my meals in bed still. In the drawer are sleeping pills, pain killers, spare glasses, polaroids, notebooks and a polaroid camera as I ran out of room on the bedside table. On the table itself is my real pile of books that I am about to read, cameras piled up as I try to find film for them (my brownie is 60+ years old…film isn’t easy to come by), My glasshouse Marseille candle, an empty protein bar packet, empty glass & water bottle. Behind that is my vase & flowers (made by my daughters – origami flowers) including the toy flower won by hubby for me at luna park. Behind that is our fan that I really use as an extra bedside table – on top is magazines, the lamb hubby won me at luna park, my heart rate monitor box & in front of that is my yoga mat. What you can’t see is the pile of rubbish next to my bed, the two piles of books I need to put into our goodreads account and the piles of books to go back to the library in front of that. My bed is unmade (and really the doona cover should have been changed a month ago), I’m still in my pj’s, the house is a mess and our CERES box (organic fruit & vege box) is sitting unpacked on the kitchen table (next to the kids who are currently making their own books). The floor is covered in bits of paper and dust and muddy footprints (thanks to soccer going back this week). But for once these things don’t upset me. The kids are all happy, I am playing with cameras and exploring something I love and my hair fits in a pony tail again (it is also red as I have dyed it again after months of not caring).

I feel content. At ease. I want to photograph that. Just not sure how.

While I try to figure that out I want to introduce you to my partners in crime!

Betsy – a six-20c Box Brownie made in 1948 and the oldest in my collection (I have also had her the longest)

Amy – Canon AE-1 35mm camera from 1976 (my most recent acquisition, also the exact model I learnt to shoot on all those years ago)

Megan – Polaroid Impulse from 1988, rescued from an op shop a few years back

Olivia – a Holga 120GN plastic toy camera, my baby circa 2009

Now I just need to purchase some film for the first three and get back out and shoot!

project:girl

Dream Bedroom

As we settle into our home, I realise this is the longest we have been in one place in years. When we moved in it was our third home in a year….renting can be a bitch sometimes. I hadn’t even seen it when we moved in (I was not up to the task of looking for a new house with only three weeks til our lease…which hadn’t been renewed…expired). To say I was disappointed was an understatement. It is tiny, at least compared to our last three homes. When we moved in the electricity hadn’t been connected (as promised so the garage remote didn’t work) and the garage key didn’t work…so we had to squeeze furniture that filled a house twice the size (our last place had a toy room and a formal dining school room and a lounge twice the size), into this tiny place for almost a week (we were without electricity for over a week) until we got into the garage. We also still had my brother and his girlfriend living with us. It was a tight squeeze. Add in the fact that non of the adults were working and the kids were homeschooled …. well I thought I might go even crazier than I already was.

We have been here just over eleven months now and it’s grown on me. My brother and his girlfriend moved out in January and the house seemed infinitely bigger. The two bigger girls now each have their own room which seems almost necessary as they are chalk and cheese and heading into puberty. I adore our little row of identical houses and the neighbour seems to have given up on blasting music at 3am (we share walls on both sides). The bath which seemed too small last year (at 22 kilos heavier) now seems perfect. My bedroom window is actually a big glass door which opens onto a small courtyard (I used to never open my blinds as I hated people being able to see in) and opens straight into the kitchen….perfect for midnight snacks (not approved by the 12WBT). The kitchen, while much smaller than our last place, has twice as much storage. I love that we have fly screens on every door and window (a rare thing in new houses) and a lockable security door (I would not open the front door on my own after an incident with a door-to-door salesman when I was pregnant with the twins) meaning I can open the door, see who it is and never compromise my safety. Not to mention the much smaller house is much faster to clean!

It’s grown on me. I am relaxing into it…finally. But I can’t help but shake the feeling that in three weeks our lease won’t be renewed, just as I am feeling….home.

So to shake that feeling I am making plans for what I will do if (there is a god) our lease is renewed. We have been slowly decorating Miss 12’s room thanks to a friend with a van who picked her up a vintage floral print arm chair ($5.50 on ebay) and a beautiful old roll top desk ($10 on ebay) as well as two canvas prints on sale at Typo ($5 each). She also scored my beautiful vintage dressing table as our room is too small. She just needs a new double bed (my brothers old queen is falling apart, is quite masculine & too big for the room) and for us to get around to making this quilt and she is done. Then it will be time to focus on our room. We have been living with second hand pieces in our bedroom since we moved into our first flat thirteen years ago. I want a bed that only we have slept on (in our defence friends of ours separated three weeks after buying a $3k mattress neither of them wanted…they were just going to take it to the tip!), I think I want a king size bed, I want crisp, white 1000TC cotton sheets and pillows that aren’t decades old. I want a chest of drawers. Art. A lamp. I want a little table & chairs in my courtyard so I can have my tea and read in the sun. I want flowers. Fresh flowers. Why not if I have a courtyard? I also need to double check with the estate agent, but over our vertical blinds I would like to put block out curtains…any light makes it hard for me to sleep. I seem to have it mostly figured out, now to find the money!

Starting with the bed…I want a beautiful rich blue velvet bed head. Something totally lush. That screams “we no longer have babies throwing up everywhere”. Not too feminine (though hubby really doesn’t care…as long as he can have this series of superhero prints in the hall I can make the bedroom pink & lacy for all he cares), but still soft. Like this one on ebay

Above our bed I would like to have a collection of the “Blue Nude” series by Henri Matisse in white frames.

Beside the bed I would like something like these bedside tables from ikea

Opposite the bed I would really love this chest of drawers (also from ikea)

ideally a big long white mirror above it … we will probably use frameshop.com.au as you can input the exact size of mirror (or photo frame or even corkboard) and then add any of the frames from their range…I also used to use them for my clients photos and they were always fantastic.

The only other thing I desperately want in the room (besides beautiful linen) is this sort jewellery storage/mirror thing

I have so many beautiful & unique pieces of jewellery and it’s all thrown in a box in my ensuite…so I never wear them.

For my courtyard I would love to find some varieties of roses that do well in pots. I know absolutely nothing about growing flowers and while both my nan & aunty have extremely green thumbs (my aunt worked as a tree surgeon for years) I have a feeling that given the extreme weather differences between here & Sydney most of it wouldn’t translate. As well as flowers…preferably lots & white (is there anything more special than receiving a bouquet of white flowers?) I would also love a little table and chair set. Something like this would be perfect…

So what about you? What are your bedroom must haves? What about your dream bedroom?

project:girl

Rewind Part 5: Annie The Musical

Thanks to my grandma I grew up in the theatre. I never had any interest in performing myself, but I loved watching. Every school holidays, while other grandmas took their grandkids to the movies, my gran would take my brother and I to the theatre. We saw everything from Kids Pantomime musicals like Cinderella & Aladdin to Full productions like Hot Shoe Shuffle (it starred Rondha Burchmore…OMG those legs!!!), The original Boy From Oz (Todd McKenny was amazing…I also saw the Hugh Jackman one…I prefer the original) to random performances like The Chinese Circus and David Copperfield (watching him fly over the audience was incredible). The last time I went to see a proper theatre show was the last time I saw my gran before she passed away. She got us (my new boyfriend who she hated…now my husband of 13 years) tickets to see Chicago. Hubby absolutely adored it and I honestly thought it would be the first of many in a lifetime together. But life happened somewhere along there. Grandmama passed away and she was my link to all the good shows and knew how to get the best tickets. We also spent the next 5 years in the mid north coast of NSW in a small town. Musical theatre just wasn’t going to happen when hubby worked 60 hours a week and we had four kids under four and lived in the middle of nowhere.

When we moved to Melbourne I really thought things would change. But not long after we settled here my photography business took off and that and raising kids took up all my life. It was only as our eldest daughter started performing herself that I really found love for musical theatre again….but there was never anything that I felt was appropriate for her. But I knew the day would come when I would finally get to sit beside her at her first performance. Then of course we found out Annie was touring. Then we discovered one of our homeschool friends had auditioned and one a part as Molly (well she is one of three rotating actors that play the part). Then we found out that it was almost half price if we booked a school group. Thanks to the Home Education Network (VIctoria) which has been running for over 20 years, it is easier than ever to connect with other homeschooled families. I put out the calll for interest in a group booking and within a few days had organised our tickets. I also want to put a big shout out to Ticketmaster here – they were very supportive of a homeschool school group booking (some places aren’t as obviously the teacher/pupil rate is much, much higher with homeschoolers) and got us absolutely fantastic seats. We had a decent window to pay (allowing me to collect everyones funds before going ahead) and the tickets were sent out promptly. It was my first time organising a group purchase like that and I was more than nervous….but it turned out wonderfully.

On the day however Miss 12 & I were feeling a more than a little out of sorts. We both had colds and were generally feeling miserable. We had planned to wear our matching dresses but mine was now too big and hers was too small. So on the day we found ourselves scrambling for new suitable for the theatre outfits. Miss 12 decided an a beautiful white vintage frock & cardigan, and I went for the classic LBD (little black dress). Then we headed off to meet up with our group for lunch before the show.

When we finally headed into the theatre Miss 12 was totally buzzing with excitement. I was too. Not so much for me (I am not the biggest fan of “Annie”) but about being there with her at her first “real” show in her first “real” theatre. The theatre was just beautiful. There is just something that gives me gooosebumps about beautiful old theatres.

Before we knew it the show was in full swing. The kids completely stole the show and I kind of felt bad for the adults in it (all great theatre performers in their own right) who were barely noticed at all. The girl who played Molly the day we went (wasn’t our homeschool friend that day unfortunately) really was incredibly amazing. She upstaged everyone. I spent most of the show watching Miss 12 as she sang along and beamed. Before I knew it I was signing along too. I actually ended up really, really enjoying it.

The only issue we had was just as they came back from intermission there was technical difficulties and the show was put on hold for 10 minutes while they sorted it out. Everyone else seemed a bit shocked, but growing up watching live theatre it happens. It gave Miss 12 a chance to make friends with the girl sitting next to her.

At the finale the biggest applause went to the dog (people are so funny). The dog who had only run across the stage three times during the show. If people were already going nuts for the dog, when the dog bowed things got crazier. Which just made me laugh.

I have been trying to explain for years just what my kids are capable of and I get kind of fed up when people assume their kids, as kids, aren’t capable of much. Like when we would pick up the girls from kinder the parents helping their 4 & 5yos on with jackets…telling us they can’t do it on their own. Which we always found incredibly amusing as our girls managed just fine. Kids are capable of so much and watching a show like this just makes you realise how capable they are. Capable of learning all their lines, in the order they go, capable of learning all the choreography and the music that goes along with it. They are capable of adapting when the show goes wrong. Now I don’t mean to say all kids would be able to do this (so many kids have terrible stage fright…like I did/do), but more so to point out that kids are no less capable of doing something than an adult. We have eased off a lot on “teaching” as we have discovered with flexibility and the girls natural curiosity there isn’t a lot they won’t learn on their own. They are capable of doing anything and you will often find us as parents stepping back and seeing how badly they want something. Miss 12 mentioned wanting to volunteer at the library. We said that sounded like a great idea. Then we gave her options to contact the librarian in charge and that was the last we heard about it for a few weeks. It turns out in that time she had contacted the council, gotten the email address of the person in charge, emailed back and forth and only came to see us to find out if being homeschoolers we had insurance that covered her volunteering (again thank you HEN). The next time we were in the library she took herself up to the counter and introduced herself. Then they talked about what she wanted to get out of volunteering and before we knew it she was booked in for council induction and is likely to be volunteering once a week during the pre-school storytime & craft activities.

Anyway this is turning into a ramble about something else entirely…but if you haven’t already seen Annie, and you have a little girl in your life (daughter, niece, god daughter) I highly recommend heading along and seeing it before it leaves.

project:girl

 

Media Monday

“I am attempting to change after years of destruction
Don’t be alarmed
I’m still stupid, awkward, anxious, and a terrible bore
But I’m excited these days
It’s the strangest sensation
I only wish I were younger, so I’d have more time to explore”

I think most people have a band that they feel almost every song was written either about or for them. For me that band is Motion City Soundtrack. There is maybe two songs they have released that I don’t love. It doesn’t take too much digging to discover that the lead singer (who writes most of the songs) has had issues with mental health and addiction, and so many of the songs seem to deal with the impact that has had on his life and relationships. It doesn’t take too much figuring out then to understand why I relate to so many of their songs.

Branded, marked, and paper-thin
This angry scene went marching in
To war with scores of 90 proof
Found nothing but the ugly truth
A decade of wastage an instant and everything’s changed

Woke up feeling thirty-five
Though grateful that I’m still alive
Another chance at normalcy
To chase the dream and now it seems
The days run away like wild horses over the hills”

Every album of theirs is something I anticipate and get all giddy about….except this time. I just kept forgetting about it. Probably something to do with the fact that I spend little time sitting and doing nothing any more. I bought it not long after it came out and just never listened to it. But I finally synced & updated my ipod so yesterday on the way to burlesque class (and back again) I listened to it over and over and over again and, not surprisingly, fell in love with every single song.

“I am all motors and gadgets
Organically designed to last a finite length of time
Locked in this rotary motion, the wheel spins round and round
I comprehend it all but still can’t make a sound
I know there’s something wrong within my faulty brain
I lack the proper behavior
My temper-addled tongue can’t seem to force it out
The words that linger inside me”

Most of this album seems to be about him finally moving on in life – healthy – which, again not surprisingly, I am totally relating to. So many of the songs have lyrics that just sum up everything so perfectly. But I think “Floating Down the River” is my new “anthem”. I just keep playing it over and over again. Then I have to go and play my other favourites over and over again.

“I’d like to tell you all my bad ideas
I hang them with the good to dilute the awful truth
I’ve been asleep for nearly fifteen years
All dreams I’ve never had outweigh the life I’m not yet living
I’ve felt along the walls of here and there
But nothing ever seemed quite right
So I kissed off into the night
There was a thought, there was a bleeding thread
But nothing ever lasts that long within the confines of my head”

I am continuing to read the “Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries” series set in the 1920’s in Melbourne. I absolutely fell in love with the TV show and decided I would try the books. Now some word of warning if you are going to read them…weirdly enough, I would suggest watching the show first. Some of the dialogue seems a little forced and weird…until you see the amazing Essie Davis (as Phryne Fisher) act it out. She is absolutely amazing and once I went back to the show and watched her doing the same lines from parts of the books I was reading I could get it right in my head. Now I am addicted.

 

A with most book-to-screen conversions the tv show condenses different stories, changes characters slightly (and eliminates others entirely). I also found the tv show to be quite “tame” in regards to Miss Fisher. In the show they show her with a different man almost every episode but don’t show much…the books can be a bit more….descriptive. She is also a bit darker in the books (IMO) sending a prostitute who looks like a young girl (but isn’t) off to jail to visit a paedophile as a “reward” for him confessing. That part made my hair stand on end (I am a survivor of child sexual abuse…so that sort of thing I find confronting), but at the same time I really did feel that was in line with the book character. I believed it was something she was willing to do…get down and dirty to solve the cases.

Newsroom is the show we are currently hanging out for to air each week. (not sure if it is airing in Australia…we get it “alternatively” from the US online) Another masterpiece by Aaron Sorkin. If there is one thing he is an absolute genius of its the monologue. Other shows have great dialogue or comedic timing or cast rapport….Sorkin does amazing monologues. We fell in love with Sorkins work with the show “Studio 60” (which if you go and watch it before newsroom you will see the similarities) starring Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) & Matthew Perry (Friends)…it unfortunately didn’t last past the first season (which is a shame as it was brilliant writing, amazing cast chemistry and wonderfully shot). It  started with the same sort of opening monologue…actually almost identical…except in Studio 60 he is the head writer of a comedy sketch show sick of the censors ruining his show, in Newsroom the monologue comes from a reporter who has his own news show.

Newsroom has the same great cast chemistry, the same great writing (including amazing monologues) and is shot beautifully. After Wills (Jeff Daniels) monologue on America not being the greatest country in the world all of his staff quit, leaving him with one girl. Maggie (a former assistant) who stays out of loyalty (or stupidity as her dick of a boyfriend puts it…he was one of the people who quit to work on another show) and the guy who updates the blog (Dev Patel, the star of Slumdog Millionaire). Leaving his boss played by Sam Waterson (Law and Order star) to hire Wills ex girlfriend, MacKenzie, as his executive producer who brings along her assistant Jim (who then falls for Maggie). Will has become so obsessed with popularity and status that he has stopped really reporting the news, MacKenzie decides to change all of that. One of (IMO) the genius moves of this show is setting it two years ago, meaning the news they are reporting on in the show is what really happened. Unlike The West Wing, which i most cases went more into a fictional events.   Some of it goes way over our heads though as we haven’t been all that interested in US events….I don’t recognise a lot of the politician names or locations…but it is still incredibly watchable and given that all our “usual” shows are currently in the off season we are so glad to have something decent to watch.

If you can’t get your hands on “Newsroom” see if you can get “Studio 60”. They are both awesome to watch…especially if you like your TV to be a bit more “intelligent”.

This is where my glowing reviews end. After my 36 hours solo at the Windsor I met up with Aly for dinner & a movie. Seeing as how I finally got to see something *I* wanted to see (that wasn’t a comic movie or a kids movie) I had high hopes. I love quirky, offbeat indie films. This one, not so much. I felt it was trying too hard to be “quirky”. The opening scene had like five minutes of footage of Michelle Williams feet & knees. Which just screamed of “I’m trying so hard to be artsy”. The story itself wasn’t terrible…but it also wasn’t anything to write home about. I found Michelle Williams character sooooo annoying (again I felt they tried to hard to make her “quirky”) with lots of baby talk and an entire scene where she called a guy a “Gaylord” for going to the lake for a walk each morning before work. I actually found that scene totally mortifying. I am not comfortable with people using being gay as an insult. Seth Rogen played her cookbook writing husband. Sarah Silverman played his alcoholic sister. Luke Kirby plays the guy she meets while away (at her job writing travel brochures) who happens to live across the road, works as a rickshaw driver (trying so hard to be quirky) and who she falls for.  I found the whole movie to be over acted, poorly written and trying way to hard.

That being said…it was nice to go see something at the movies that wasn’t a kids movie to see with a lovely friend. So it wasn’t a total wash…it actually ended up being a nice night out.

That is all for this weeks instalment of Media Monday.

project:girl

Rewind Part 4: DIY Beauty (improper cleansing takes just as long as cleansing properly)

Along the way with project:girl I started to get right into my beauty routines. I also started taking a more natural approach to skin care with my clay masks and cold cream & witch hazel routine. Along the way I discovered some recipes for cold cream, but as it was so easy to get across the road at my chemist and I understood most of the things on the label I thought why bother?

Then of course they ran out of stock and hubby was having to get it from the chemist near Miss 12’s ballet. Then they ran out. So it was down to making my own or ordering online. After looking up some of the ingredients, on the label,  online. Some of them are not so great. So instead I ordered some beeswax online as I had most of the other things at home already.

Batch #1

Ann’s Homemade Tropical Cold Cream

  • ½ cup coconut oil (olive oil or almond oil can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons grated beeswax (I can only find this in health food stores. I don’t know any bee keepers)
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon borax
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

This went ok … except the only thing I had to put over the simmering water to melt the beeswax/oil was a giant salad bowl. I made a lot of mess and it was a lot of effort. Even with a double batch it didn’t last long as it just filled up one empty ponds cold cream container. As I use it all over my body as well as my face twice a day a tub doesn’t go far.

It smelt amazing. But I love the smell of coconut oil. But it was really, really emoilient (thick/oily) compared to the cold cream. It seemed like no matter how many times I scrubbed with a hot & wet face cloth it still seemed like there was so much on my face (even after using witch hazel afterwards). Then around day 4 I went through a massive skin purging phase – gross. I broke out more than I have in years. But after that my skin felt amazing. But as I still felt it was too much I decided to try another recipe once I ran out.

Batch #2

Home Made Cold Cream

  • 1/4 teaspoon borax
  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/2 cup mineral oil, or another oil that is liquid at room temperature (Almond is nice)
  • 1/2 ounce (by weight) grated beeswax

Ok this one was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy easier as I could microwave them together. I made a double batch which filled up two old ponds cold cream containers. I also used 1/3 cup almond oil, 1/3 cup coconut oil & 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil. I also used some of my trilogy mist instead of just water (about 1/4 water, 1/4 mist). Also using an electric mixer which really whipped it up and made it nice and creamy and smooth. This batch ended up being a lot more like the ponds cold cream. But on the flip side I personally felt it wasn’t emollient enough after batch #1. One of the things I noticed is when I left it on for longer than a minute or two (once a week I like to do a cold cream mask where I leave it on for quite awhile) it started to dry out as the water evaporate which is apparently what ponds was meant to do.

So for batch #3 I think I will add a bit more coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) a bit less almond/olive oil. I think I might also omit a bit of the water.

After realising how easy this is I am inspired to try other things. I go through so many bloom lip balm pots that I am going to try this recipe to see if I can recreate it and save myself some money (and avoid the unnecessary extra ingredients they seem to add). I also want to try making my own rose water witch hazel as I have been trialling this one from Thayers….but again so many extra ingredients that don’t seem necessary. The last thing I want to try is making my own hydrating mist. I was using this one by Trilogy which seems to be a mix of rose water/geranium water/lavender water but the 4th ingredient is a possible carcinogenic…. so I want to make my own. I know all these products when mass produced need all these extra preservatives ect. but if I can make them easily enough, and really I go through them too quickly to worry about preservatives, I might as well try to eliminate as much crap as I can. (speaking of which we have just made the switch to organic local fruit & vege and raw organic cows milk but that’s another catch up post!)

Last but not least I leave you with this gem. This advertisement is for cold cream and reminds us ladies that improper cleansing does take just as long as cleansing properly. Of course when your skin is covered in radioactive material you really want to make sure that cleansing is done properly.

Hands up who wants to be in advertising in the 50’s?

project:girl

Rewind: Part 3

I have been talking to hubby for awhile about me taking breaks once or twice a year away, solo, for my mental health and well being. I had pretty much forgotten when we got our tax money stuff through and was happy enough he bought me tickets to see “Giselle” in Sydney for my birthday (in January) when the Paris Opera Ballet are coming to town. What happened next was totally out of the blue.

I had been browsing wotif to see if there were any hotels with baths. As I now have a bath every night. Which led to me offhandedly mentioning that it looked like The Hotel Windsor had baths in every room. Next thing I new I was booked in for a night there and hubby was sending me off for two days and one glorious night all on my own….with spending money & a massage booked in.

I was so excited I was actually dancing along to my ipod at the bus stop…..I was only 150m from my house and I was already on holidays. First stop was the next suburb over to finally picking up my new glasses! I have had them on layby forever. This is the red pair…

It was like watching a movie in HD for the first time…my old glasses sucked!

Then I headed into the city. I was born and bred in Sydney, but there is nothing like Melbourne CBD. I love Melbourne, especially the city. I feel a weird sense of peace when I am there, like others might in the quiet country side.

For some reason the trams seemed to not be running the direction I was going so after 45 minutes I decided to walk to the hotel. It was such a lovely day that I didn’t mind at all.

Now this is where things get amazing. I showed up in ratty jeans, a pilled cardigan & a super old coat and I was treated like I was royalty. The staff were super friendly when I checked in, doors were opened for me and within 30 minutes it seemed like all the staff knew my name and was addressing me as “Mrs”. When I got to my room I was already so excited I could have jumped up & down on the bed. Then I discovered things like fluffy bathrobes

noooo…I am not excited at all…can’t you tell?

The room was divine. Perfectly made bed, a writing desk, a comfy reading chair and lots of fluffy pillows. Stunning marble bathroom. Oh and did I mention in case you weren’t happy with the pillows they had already…

Yup…a pillow menu. Including the armoatherapy pillow, a bath pillow, side or back sleepers, soft, medium, firm and antisnore. There were others as well. It was totally crazy. But as I hadn’t slept well the previous night and we have crappy pillows at home I ordered myself a back sleeper posture pillow and a bath pillow. Then I decided to head down to bourke st to grab myself a few things. I ended up getting some tea from T2, a bath bomb from LUSH, a pair of white satin pjs from myer (on sale down to $30…and I had to buy a medium top…I haven’t bought a medium anything since before I had the twins!!!!!!!!) and another glasshouse candle. I then popped back to the hotel and dropped off my goodies, left my phone behind (on purpose) and went for a massage. One hour of pure bliss.

The massage itself was second to none. The venue however left a lot to be desired. When I entered the building I had to follow a total maze of paper arrows til I found the counter. After I paid (in the basement) I was sent back upstairs for my massage. Now at this point I want to mention that it was dark and soundproofed in the basement and this is where they had their hair salon part….upstairs in a room with windows out to Spring St (that had been frosted, not curtained or anything) was where my massage was held. Now the candles and ocean noises were lovely, hearing the trams rattling past and peoples conversations out the window – not so much. But it was still amazing. After about 40 minutes I finally stopped thinking and relaxed. I also asked at first for her to not massage my feet as I am extremely ticklish. I can’t even touch my own feet…it’s crazy. But on second thoughts I asked her to give it a go and that I would let her know if it was too much. Oh…My….God. Are foot massages always that amazing? Maybe it helped that she knew I was extremely ticklish. It was bliss. My only critiscism of the massage itself was the room wasn’t heated, it was winter and after the massage she used a hot wet towel to wipe off the oil…..well it was hot when she started on my legs….I was freezing by the time she was done.

Isn’t the city beautiful in the evening?

So I raced back to the hotel, ordered room service and had a super hot shower. I hadn’t been in the shower any longer than five minutes when my dinner arrived.

NOMNOMNOM

I went with the salmon & hollandaise sauce. I ordered steamed vege instead of the mashed potato and it was so delicious. Also the butler bought it in on a tray and put it on the bed for me. He addressed me by my name and told me to ring down if there was anything else I wanted. With my jazz music playing and my Marseilles candle burning I was in heaven.

I then started reading #3 in the Miss Fisher Murder Mystery series….and proceeded to read it from start to finish with the only interruption being the butler bringing me strawberries and cream for desert… I have to be honest the most luxurious point of the entire stay was reading a book from start to finish without anyone needing me. Even when I used to be in bed all day my door was (and is) always open to the girls. Somehow everyone in the house seems to have some sort of sonar for predicting when I will be on the toilet and busting in with their latest demands/observations/problems. SO being able to pee in peace was amazing, reading an entire book without interruption was almost orgasmic. I finished up the evening with a candle-lit bath and went to bed. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well. I started getting pains in my legs and I left my pain killers at home. I also think the bed and pillows may have been too comfy (though I am now determined that instead of a holiday next year we should get a crazy expensive bed….seeing as how hubby sleep on the couch most nights he disagrees).

I must have gotten some sleep though as my alarm woke me up at 9. I threw on some clothes (though I did briefly think about calling down and asking if their restaurant would serve me in pjs) and headed down for breakfast. Once again being greeted by name, by people who didn’t know me was so weird. I felt like I was their number one guest. It really says a lot about their service that we booked the most discounted rate, in their cheapest room, and I felt like I had booked in to the suite and had been there a month. They went above and beyond to make me feel welcome. They then took my egg order (any way I wanted freshly cooked just for me) and said I was welcome to use the buffet.

Here is where I totally broke all my diet rules. I avoid all sugar and almost all carbs. I had changed my order the night before to leave out the potatoes. But as I have been so strict since February I decided to splurge, just once, and enjoy myself. While waiting for my eggs I had some yoghurt & fruit (what I normally have for breakfast each day), then I ate my eggs, bacon, fried tomato, mushroom & sauteed spinach (so divine). I also ate the english muffin it came with as I love eggs, bacon & english muffins. Then I noticed they had freshly made butter croissants. I have loved croissants since I was a little girl, but in the past few years I have had no luck finding decent, proper, butter croissants. So I had a whole one. With butter. Then I helped myself to one of their tiny miniature danishes (which used to be my standard breakfast…except I would get a giant one) and thought I might explode. It seems so bizarre when there was a time I wouldn’t have felt a breakfast like that was my moneys worth. If there was a buffet I used to go nuts not stopping until I made myself ill.

I then (sadly) headed upstairs to shower and get ready to check out. Once again the staff were wonderful as before I had even finished checking out someone from the concierge desk was asking me if I would like to leave my suitcase there for the day. Hell yeah!No dragging it along behind me while I shopped.

I then went straight to Circa Vintage (as I knew they had a sale on) and proceeded to try on everything in my size, knowing for once I could take my time and not have to worry about kids or husbands getting annoyed waiting. I ended up buying a handbag on sale and then proceeded to spend the entire day wandering down Brunswick st, stopping at any store I felt like and at one place I took 20 dresses into the change room with me! I bough some alannah hill fabric at the Clearit store (discovered I could now *just* fit into some of her clothes which is amazing as she only goes to a 14), bought another vintage handbag at an op shop and finally around 3pm sat down to have lunch. A quick bite to eat, before heading back to the Windsor to find out how late I could leave my bag. Discovered the concierge desk is open 24/7 so I could come back whenever. They then offered to take the shopping bags I had picked up and put it with my suitcase.

I managed a quick bra fitting (I am now a 12FF), a trip to myer to pick up a bra on sale and then I raced to meet the lovely Aly for dinner & a movie. The movie was a bit weird and meh….but I never get to see anything at the movies that isn’t one of hubbys comic movies or a kids movie. And of course the company was wonderful. I then proceeded to tell Aly all our terrible family stories before taking in the city one last time.

I then picked up my bags and was ushered into a taxi by the absolutely divine and lovely doorman and headed home.

The time away was amazing. But I was so looking forward to coming home. My life has changed so dramatically in the past three years. This time 3 years ago I was on the gold coast at a conference. I partied with all my photography friends and had an absolute blast. Everyone asked me if I missed the kids and I really didn’t. I knew they were in good hands (their dad was a stay at home dad…so it’s not like he hadn’t looked after them before) and I told everyone that I deserved my time off. Time off from what? I was never home. Then I stopped working, became a stay at home mum who homeschooled, was diagnosed with bipolar and have been on a roller coaster ever since and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe going back a few years and realising that I really enjoyed hanging out with my family. It has taken me years to get here, but I love my life. I love spending all day everyday with my kids. I love that my husband is at home with us all day. I love the freedom, the flexibility and our low stress life. I missed my home, I missed my family.

How lucky am I that I get a night away in the WIndsor to realise how much I love my life?

project:girl