#1608 Day 110 of getting there: A trip down babysitters lane

Don’t tell me pruning isn’t therapeutic.

I’ve been going to town on our front yard. Yesterday I was getting rid of weeds from one side of the yard, all these fiddly, annoying, tiny weeds that take all this major wrist action to rip out.

But then I went to the other side of the yard, along the fence, and there were these HUGE MOFO weeds… and yet they came out so easily.

When I told Hubbie last night he said “of course, the soil is softer there.”

Ahhh. That explains it.

So today I returned to the fence side of the yard.

It was soooo satisfying.

I ripped out ALL the weeds alongside the fence. They were massive, and I got them ALL OUT.

After such a massive effort, I went inside, had my babycino and coffee break with baby girl…

And then we sat on the couch, to relax and Netflix.

I was really excited, because not only was it a show I was really curious to see, but I thought it might also kind of interest baby girl.

The Babysitters Club!

When I heard the popular book series that I started reading in the 90s, was coming to the small screen via Netflix, I didn’t actually think I would watch it.

Would it suit me, NOW? This 30-something year old (emphasis on ‘something’) watching some early teen girls go through childhood woes and crushes while looking after little kids?

But then I actually read an article saying that older folk (ahem) would enjoy going back and reminiscing about the characters they loved delving into back then, while also appealing to the new middle-grade, tween audience.

Hmmm.

I know baby girl is only 6, but I felt it might be something we could meet in the middle with, and enjoy together.

I loved Ann M. Martin’s books growing up. I still have original books from the series, stashed upstairs in a box, and I told baby girl today that one day she could read them too.

I gained a lot of joy along with many other things, from reading the series growing up. This led to me appreciating the form of the story, the development of the story arc, engaged in watching the characters grow, and the sheer joy of writing which I obviously developed over the years.

The verdict from the show? I actually LOVED it. Baby girl enjoyed it too, though she asked many questions, like at the start, “where is the Babysitters Club?”

“They haven’t started it yet honey.” (In the first two minutes!)

There are plenty of themes of friendship, some mention of boys, the issues of blended families AND even the hints of eating disorders, which I know to be true to the original, because I remember coming across the theme in the books I read so long ago.

A great Netflix watch, it’s light-hearted for the younger girls in your life… or just for those of us wanting a trip down memory lane…

#1595 Day 97 of getting there: to have like-minded souls

It was wonderful that we got to see some of our dearest friends tonight.

Via Zoom, of course. πŸ˜‰

We had a great chat with bestie and her hubbie via our computers. I tell you, technology is a Godsend at this phase of our lives.

You can’t be with loved ones, but by seeing them live, hearing their voices, and watching their mannerisms, in their lounge rooms, (with their pets!)… it’s the next best thing to being there with them.

After the video call was over Hubbie and I spoke about how wonderful it’d been to catch up with familiar faces, and people that we cared for. And I don’t know how it came into my mind, but I said to Hubbie “you don’t have to have the same interests. It’s not about that. It’s about finding like-minded people.”

Because we don’t all have to like the same things. Do the same things. Go to the same places. Eat the same food, or sleep the same way.

It’s about how our minds work. And you seek out people who are reflective of your morals, attitudes, and generally your way of life.

I don’t need everyone in my life to love writing. I don’t even need them to love reading. I don’t need them to love cats, yoga, the fact that I can’t stop listening to Queen at the moment…

I just need them to get me, and I want to get them.

It was a really lovely thing to contemplate, after a video call with friends who get us… as we get them.

#1581 Day 83 of getting there: the inspirational Zoom chat

I spent my Saturday morning in a really lovely, relaxing and uplifting way.

And no, it wasn’t just because I ate breakfast on the couch (I know it’s a day off when my butt is firmly planted there as I eat my toast), and no, it wasn’t because I was in my PJs ’til past midday…

But I was in my PJs past midday, because I got majorly distracted at 11am.

I’ve done 5 online courses now with The Australian Writers’ Centre. It is truly an addictive thing if you love the craft of writing, and seriously, I can see myself doing more of them… at some point in the future.

For anyone that loves to write and wants to make it part of their work, even if you live outside of Australia, the AWC is a tremendous resource, I know.

Go to https://www.writerscentre.com.au/ for more info.

And at the moment, I think their online Zoom chats with esteemed writerly professionals are just awesome.

They have been running for a while now during iso, and the topic for this morning’s one was of utmost interest to me.

AWC founder Valerie Khoo was talking to a children’s and YA literary agent!

YA! That’s my genre. πŸ˜‰

I accidentally stumbled across the Zoom chat reminder, and then started to listen… and then couldn’t put down my phone. I even asked a question about what trend publisher’s are looking for at the moment in YA, and along with getting my question answered, I walked away with so much information, tips and people to look up and read more on.

Most of all, I walked away with so much inspiration. It gave me purpose and hope and light again.

It’s a long road ahead, and it requires a heap of work. But at the same time, this morning’s Zoom chat filled me with as much excitement as it did focus, and I really feel I am on the right track.

A great frame of mind to start your morning? I’m definitely grateful for that.

#1565 Day 67 of getting there: hooked on the River

Last night, I was brainstorming.

I’ve been trying to get into ‘book mode,’ or rather, ‘editing-book mode.’

I recently got some feedback on my YA novel that I needed to up the ante for my main protagonist. I needed to make more happen… I needed to really make it, a page-turner.

Those words have been nagging me, haunting me, ever since.

So I’ve been thinking.

Reading over my notes.

Reading over all the feedback.

Tapping my chin with my pen.

Staring off into the distance.

Thinking some more.

And trying to think of some way to up the ante!

Firstly… I’m cutting out 3 characters. Just, gone. Albeit they’re side characters, but still…

Slaughtered. In place of them, a character I really didn’t think would be loved, is actually, LOVED, so he is getting a much-needed identity boost.

But that’s it. Plot points otherwise, at a nill.

I even went so far as to look up the psychology of teenage emotions, to try and get some inspiration and motivation for storylines that might fit my cast.

Fascinating stuff, let me tell you. The amygdala has A LOT to answer for. (Psst, it’s a part of the brain).

But still, no new stories.

What did I need? I needed an injection of teen stuff. I needed to immerse myself in their world, their lives, not to think and act and be like them, no, that I have down pat (part of me will forever be 18…)

I needed to know what goes down.

Books? Could I read more YA books?

Hmmm. Considering that part of my life is a huge work in progress, and I am already time poor…

This writer, more than reader, had to say, NO.

For now.

What was more immediate, than a book?

What could I access, like, right NOW?

NETFLIX.

I jumped on last night and started searching. I had Stranger Things come up repeatedly, and was actually thinking that might be the answer. I had heard about it heaps, had always wanted to watch it… could that be my YA key card?

But as I was watching a preview of it, something else was recommended, as Netflix does so well.

And without even knowing why I was drawn to it, I just knew, it was IT.

Because I have a thing for water. Clearly. (This will become blatantly obvious when my book is released πŸ˜‰ )

So good!

Riverdale!

I started watching last night. I continued more this afternoon, after work. And by the end of the second episode tonight, I even had Hubbie watching.

I am hooked.

Firstly, what is with Archie’s red hair? It is drawn on, it has to be! And his eyebrows, oh my God so thick!

The small town vibe, I am digging, only because I dabble in it myself. πŸ™‚

The love triangles.

The Dawson’s throwback to teacher tryst…. nice nice. I wasn’t expecting that.

A murder always makes things more enticing.

The crazy twin. Like, sooo crazy!

I am just loving it.

In fact, I finally have one good reason to be coughing non-stop. I am coughing, baby girl is coughing, and you know what, if that means I will binge on Riverdale this weekend and not be social, well…

Oh well. I will have to deal (happily!)

Hold up, what was the point here? Research? For my book?

Sure, sure. I am totally getting ideas. I have no time to write them though, I have a new show I need to watch…

KIDDING!

#1557 Day 59 of getting there: a day for my book

I go from one hat, to another hat, to another hat.

ALL DAY LONG.

Work hat. Mum hat. Teacher hat. Cleaner hat. Chef hat. Pet owner hat. Wife hat. Washing hat. (Did I say cleaner hat?)

Emotional hat. Maintenance hat. Finance hat.

Where is my ‘me’ hat?

Sure we are in lockdown, but all it means for me is I’m doing everything from home now, instead of leaving the house for things that I used to.

It’s now the work and the home schooling, as well as trying to do all of the normal everyday tasks that keep the house running,

I jump from one thing to another thing to another thing, all without taking a breath.

Overwhelmed is an emotion I am all too familiar with.

I asked myself the other night “where is my ‘me time'”?

Sure, I do this at night. Everyone goes to sleep. I blog, I journal.

Other times I am so spent I watch my guilty pleasure Bold and the Beautiful on repeat, or just scroll aimlessly through social media.

But then, that other big question… the question that I’m sure A LOT of us has thought at one point or another during this lockdown…

What is it for?

What is the point? Where am I placing my valuable time, and is it leading me in the direction I want to go?

Or have I fallen into routine, and need to be reminded of that which makes my heart sing?

What about my book?

Yeah, MY BOOK. That thing I was working on ’til early this year, which I then left because ‘feedback overload!’ All well and good, but with so long a break, it was time to ask the question again.

‘What about my book?’

A new plan. A new decision. A new routine.

A new hat. A writing hat. πŸ™‚

Wednesdays was now going to be my BOOK day.

It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) I spend working on my novel… but from now on, I’m going to be announcing to the house my intentions, and ordering them all to leave me alone for as long as they can muster!

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Today it was about 80 minutes… not bad. It was baby steps. I first had to remind myself of where I was at, re-reading feedback from writing pals, and taking notes to ‘up the ante’ of my story.

Even if I do one line, each Wednesday…

I am doing something. I need to be easy on myself. I know how I work.

Life can get away from us. But if I can try stick to this new routine, all my Wednesdays will surely amount to something.

They will amount to much more, than doing nothing.

#1531 Day 33 of getting there: homemade sweet potato gnocchi

I haven’t been writing as much as I like, and that’s got a bit to do with this cv business and balancing working from home with schooling baby girl from home, but it’s more to do with the OTHER.

The other is me fuelling all my creative energy into cooking new recipes.

It isn’t hard to find them after all. So many more people are putting together live recordings and sharing extra recipes to help us deal with this isolation, and just as well because we need something to do with all the extra time we aren’t going out.

And just the other day, I fell in love with a recipe idea I have been toying with for years now.

It was gnocchi. Rather, it has always been gnocchi. But this version was a sweet potato gnocchi.

Nom nom nom.

You know, some time ago I bought a packet of gnocchi from the shops, at the height of the shopping-covid frenzy when pasta was getting low to nothing on shelves… and I thought, being from a nice grocer and all, that this gnocchi would also be, nice.

I have only ever had, smooth, delicious, pillowy puffs of homemade or restaurant high-grade quality gnocchi.

So imagine my disappointment when this gnocchi tasted like plastic.

It was NOT nice. It honestly had a fake, manufactured taste, and I was spurred by the idea of homemade gnocchi even more.

So earlier this week when I saw Leah Itsines, self-taught cook, post on facebook that she was doing a live and making sweet potato gnocchi, I knew that soon, I would be too.

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How great is technology? I knew I couldn’t follow her to make it at the exact time she did, but she was posting the video on YouTube later, so all I had to do was go to her channel today and voila!

The instructions were all there.

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My gnocchi was deliciously homemade. It was so refreshing, to have it not taste like plastic! What do you know??? In fact, it tasted anything but. I think I made a pretty great first time gnocchi, and I even have extra that I have frozen for another time so that is SUPER EXCITING.

But that’s not even it. No folks. Topping that homemade sweet potato gnocchi was Jamie Oliver’s 3 minute tomato pasta sauce… another food guru I have started following lately!

And just as well that I had a 3 minute sauce recipe, since it took me hours and 26 dishes to make the gnocchi.

(All hail the dishwasher).

It’s so satisfying to make your own food. It’s amazing to experiment with different dishes, flavours and ingredients, and even to go out on a whim and try something you’ve been scared to for so long.

I can’t believe I made gnocchi, I am still so excited about it!

Next on my experimentation list? Well Leah has also made dumplings, and I LOVE DUMPLINGS… Marion Grasby has an egg drop soup that looks incredible… and Jamie Oliver and Oprah Winfrey recently made his Singapore-style fried rice together, over video call of course… ahh.

Ain’t technology just the best. πŸ™‚

 

#1528 Day 30 of getting there: 90 minutes

Since all this CV started, my life has been about a few things, and these things SOLELY.

Work.

Homeschool.

Play with dolls in baby girl’s my free time.

That’s it.

Oh no, I lie. There is the cooking, the cleaning, the never-ending washing…

Yeah. Plenty of time for me in those chores. Sigh.

Sure there are benefits to working at home. No traffic. Save money on travel. Eat and drink at home.

Roll out of your bed and wear your trakkies to the desk in the morning.

But just as I am working from home, so too is baby girl schooling from home.

That means that any normal free time I might have had for my writing and personal development during non-work time when she would usually be at school, well it’s now GONE.

Any time I’ve had free… wash the dishes.

“Mum, can you play with my dolls?”

Washing.

What to cook.

“Did you finish that task?”

It’s never-ending.

So today, after finishing work, and then doing the homeschooling thing, a few more odd jobs, and YES, playing with the bloody barbie dolls…

I said to baby girl “now it’s Mummy’s time.”

Now this doesn’t always work. But I try anyway. So many times I’ve proclaimed it’s me time, only to be whinged at, nagged, prodded and pushed, and that’s not even from baby girl. πŸ˜‰

So to be able to sit on the couch with laptop in the fading sunlight, and write, write and write away… for 90 minutes.

90 MINUTES!

Yep.

Well, it felt incredible.

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I was working on a future post… stay tuned for that.

But I felt so light, so free afterwards. So amazing. And I realised, this is the feeling.

This is how you feel, when you know you are doing what you are meant to do.

When you know you are doing your soul’s work.

β™₯

#1492 Turn to simple things in times of stress

Seriously… this stuff can’t be written.

Though you could maybe imagine a great sci-fi book running along the lines of –

“mega virus spreads across the globe, sending people into a panic as more and more towns, cities and countries self-isolate, close borders, cancel all events and people go mad buying EVERYTHING in the shops.”

Yep, you could imagine that on a book’s blurb.

But not the toilet paper. No one could EVER have foreseen the toilet paper.

It truly does feel like a very weird dream. So unbelievably surreal.

I sway from ‘this can’t be happening,’ to ‘oh f*^$ I don’t want to use public transport tomorrow.’

Everyone and everything is coming to a halt. Forcibly. Never have I witnessed such a thing, and the unpredictability of the beast has us all scratching our heads, yelling out loud, or running around like chickens with their heads chopped off.

I was happy then, to try and make life normal today… if only a bit.

One of those things was being a parent helper at baby girl’s school. I know, I know. Even Hubbie was like – “wash your hands well after.”

It was something I promised long ago, and not being at work today, made me all the more available for the reader-helper task.

Baby girl was rapt. Soooo rapt. I wandered into her class at the end of the day and listened to first her, and a few other kids read to me.

It was so beautiful. The simplistic nature of the task, helping them sound things out, listening to the rhythm in their voice, and just being in the presence of such innocent and naΓ―ve natures, made me feel like slowing down, in the best way possible.

But they are so honest aren’t they. One boy who finished reading for me randomly said at the end “Mum said we have to be careful of coronavirus.”

Oh F*%&. Yeah, Mum’s right.

The best thing though, was having my girl read to me. She was beyond excited to have me in her class. And although I don’t know how much my other commitments will allow me to visit the classroom in future, baby girl, whether by coincidence or not, made her sentiments pretty clear through the book she chose to read to me today…

“Mummies are Amazing.” β™₯

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#1483 New and old memories with best friends

It’s always a great time when you catch up with loved ones, but it felt extra awesome tonight when bestie and her hubbex came over.

It really has been too long. It made everything all the more sweeter… the conversation, the music youtube shares, the d&ms, and all the pet talk about those furry friends of ours that we love.

Baby girl decided she had new ‘owners.’ LOL. I feel safe and secure when she selects people who are dear to me, to add to her special list too.

But perhaps the funniest and weirdest moment came when bestie remembered something from our childhood years… I’m still trying to come to terms with it and remember it, but the visual she gave me is stirring some deep memory from within, and maybe, just maybe, I CAN remember.

What I had forgotten, for apparently my whole life, is that when we were in primary school, WE HAD OUR OWN BOOK CLUB.

Oh-em-gee.

We would take our books and sit in the inside of this massive playground tyre, six of us, and share what we had read. We had diaries too that we would write in after.

!!!

I was freaking out over this fact. Firstly, I would love to now be in a book club, but sadly don’t think it’s the right time for it, for where I am in my life… but I used to be in one… when I was about 9?

I would bring with me, wait for it…my The Babysitters Club books. I was spinning out even more, because that is SO me. Was so me.

I loved the recollection, because it told me that even though there are things we can’t remember, there are others who have memories of things that we have forgotten.

Also, the knowledge that I was doing such book-related stuff before I even remember wanting to write seriously for a living… double wow. Some things are just meant to be.

And thirdly… well friends. Having this lifetime of knowledge between old friends, with experiences that are constantly gained, and memory upon memory added… well, it is something special. Truly special.

β™₯

#1480 The train to training

So, where did I go today?

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Clearly I was on a train, for those not quite sure about that offensive multi-coloured blue upholstered smudge that are train seats, and also the side window looking out at the platform…

And my brown boot.

I was on my way to training… for a new job!

😁😁😁

Now I can’t say definitively that I HAVE the job… that’s what the training is for. And there are tests at the end of each week during the training period to make sure we’re on the right path…

So I am cautiously optimistic.

It’s been 6 months that I’ve been out of work. 6 months of doing what I like (to some extent with baby girl in tow), trying to get ahead in my writing, walking in and out of places at whim, and mostly, thinking thinking thinking.Β 

But today in comparison was a totallyΒ crazy day.

I was up at 550am, catching a 645 train after brekkie in the car, swapping to another train in the city to make it to work bang smack at 8am.

😏

I had NO snacks up until lunchtime and was starving, smashing a salad roll and coffee in 15 minutes. I looked at apps and tabs, tried to get my head around the influx of tech stuff, emails, new people, meetings, reading guidelines, getting overwhelmed at the sheer number of info I need to remember, only to nearly lose myself and miss my train home.

I came home tired, spent and flustered.

I’m even feeling sick.

But I loved it.

I was feeling a bit lost before this came up. I thought the days of commuting and doing a 9-5 were over. The plan was to freelance, write, and make a name for myself from the comfort of my home.

But it didn’t work out as I’d planned. I felt uninspired, confused about my future direction, and feeling frustrated at my lack of financial contribution to the household.

I know it’s still very early days, but this set-up is perfect. Because although I’ll be spending more time away from home, the time I do get at home I’ll be more motivated than ever to win at my writing game.

That HASN’T changed, nor will it ever. But I had to find a way to make things work, and this new line of employment looks set to make things happen for me, all while I feel productive, useful, and like I’m contributing… to the world.

And that means EVERYTHING.

Super-early bedtime for me tonight… because now I’m a working girl. πŸ˜‰