6 October 2019 - 8:43 pm

Catching up

I can’t believe it’s October already. It’s also hard to believe that I haven’t updated here since June. How did that happen? Oh, that’s right: things got crazy.

When we last touched base, I was in the middle of my insane 3-month schedule of work, overseas trip, and surgery. I’m happy to report that it all went roughly to plan and on time: the schedule worked out! I got all my work done to my job’s deadlines, the trip was a success, and the surgery went about as well as major surgery can.

When I was approaching those three months and organising myself for it all, I figured that that was the hard part and afterwards would be much easier. And that’s where my preparations failed me, because the surgery took longer to get over than I had anticipated, some work stuff came up that I had to take on (which you can never really prepare for), and no sooner was I back on my feet than it was time to dive into NaNoWriMo prep for this year’s adventures, and it has been especially hard work this time around.

That is going to take some unpacking, but first know: I’m doing okay. For the first time in a very long time, though, I’m feeling swamped, and I am not a big fan of this feeling.

Recovering from the surgery went pretty smoothly but far more slowly than I was really prepared for. It hit me in my energy, which is never a deep well at the best of times, and it has been a long, slow climb out of bone-heavy exhaustion since. I took about a week and a half off work, and after that, wound up working from home for 6 weeks because the trip to the city was too much to contemplate, even if I could have managed to carry all my work stuff (which I couldn’t because of the healing incision).

I am so grateful to have a job where I can work from home. It has been such a blessing over the past few months, because even after I made it back to the office in the city, it was still a struggle to get the energy I needed to work a full week.

Right now, I’m smack in the middle of yet another crazily busy period. I’ve got heaps on at work, juggling my regular job, some additional training work, and organising some staff events as well. I’ve got another trip, though this one is domestic and only for a couple of days, to a technical writer’s conference. And, of course, November is rapidly approaching, which means heaps of NaNoWriMo prep.

It’s all moving along apace right now and nothing has fallen off the rails so far. I’m blessed with wonderful support both at work and in the NaNo stuff. It all looks like it’s coming together at this point, which is such a relief.

So far, the start of the NaNo season has been plagued by technical issues on the official site. That’s why you’ll see a shiny new section here on this site, covering our information for the BrisNaNo region stuff. That’s fine, now we have a static place to host this info for people to refer to!

Right now, I can’t wait to get to mid-December, at which point I can have a bit of a rest. Here’s hoping, right? Perhaps I should book January off work to make sure I get some downtime. What do you all think?

In the meantime, I’m excited about the upcoming events we’ve got lined up for BrisNaNo. And I can’t wait to get started on this year’s novel project. What is it? Perhaps that should be my next post here: the project that surprised me and has become one of the favourite things I’ve written.

In the meantime, I’m heading off to get some rest, before I get ready to fly off to Melbourne for a couple of days. Hope you’re all well! Onwards and upwards, my friends.

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13 June 2019 - 5:21 pm

Chaos and Catharsis

Here we go: another big update on where I’m at. The last few weeks have been interesting, hard, stressful, and incredibly busy.

The first part of it all was logistics. With so much to fit in over these few months, getting everything lined up so it worked was a huge challenge, particularly because I’m balancing so many different sources, needs, and requirements. The house move was largely dictated by lease dates and when we could get services done. The work trip to the US is ruled by a bunch of people’s availability and our release dates. The hospital stay is determined by waiting lists and surgeon schedules.

The good thing is that I got it all lined up. It’s hectic and a bit of a nightmare, but I’ve made it all fit together and I think it’ll work. Okay, everything is crossed and I really hope nothing (else) comes out of left field, but on the whole I’m feeling pretty positive about it all.

See, my time works out roughly like this:

  • 2 weeks: move house
  • 2 weeks: work: get everything for the next release done, including documenting new features, writing release notes, and working on training courses.
  • 2 weeks: work trip to the US, visiting two different offices
  • 1 week: work: make sure everything for the release is done.
  • 1 week: hospital stay for surgery.
  • 1 week (hopefully): recovering from surgery at home.

That takes me to mid/late July. I’ve reached the end of my ‘move house’ window and am almost to the end of the first ‘work’ period, so now is a good time to pause, catch my breath, and take stock.

The move went okay. It has been a huge undertaking, because we were not only moving house, but also taking stock and downsizing. The new place is maybe half the size of the old one. Also, a lot of our furniture and equipment is getting old (most of it 10+ years old now), and not worth taking with us even if it all fit (which it didn’t).

We had a huge amount of culling to do. With very little storage space in the new house and a determination not to have things sitting in boxes for a few more years, we had so many things to find new homes for. I really hate throwing away anything that is still perfectly good to use, so we’ve been donating stuff, selling stuff, putting things out for others to help themselves to, and giving things away to friends.

It was a really challenging and wonderful process. It was tough, because I tend to get emotionally attached to things and I don’t like to let things go. But giving myself permission to ask ‘do I really need to keep this? Has it done its duty with me?’ was also very freeing. Not caring about whether we made money on the things we were getting rid of also freed us from the stress of trying to eke out what things are ‘worth’ and focus on simply getting things into new homes. We’d got our money’s worth from them already, so anything we made through the process was a bonus.

Another aspect of the move was getting a heap of new furniture. Some of it was because of the size of the new place, and some of it was replacing old, tired furniture that was no longer truly usable. Which meant some careful measuring of the new place and coordinating deliveries for it to go directly into its new home. And then, because I got flat packed furniture, construction time to put it all together (even the new couches came in pieces!).

There were the cats to consider, too. This process has been ramping up for weeks as we went through boxes and sorted things into ‘keep’ and ‘move’ piles. Lots of things have been slowly packed away or removed. Rooms have been emptying as we’ve sold off surplus furniture. So our poor furbabies have been getting stressed and required heaps of reassurance. And then we moved them to the new house and had to settle them in there. The good news is that they’re getting used to the new setup and making themselves at home.

On top of all that was closing down the old house, including arranging cleaners, gardeners, carpet cleaning, and so on. We’ve just finished with that (and it has cost an arm and a leg), and I was so glad to finally hand the keys over and be done with that house!

Getting it all done in 2 weeks was a challenge, particularly when it’s just my dad and me (with my fatigue and other issues). We’ve had to pace ourselves and make sure we didn’t overdo things, and while we were mostly successful, we’re still both sore and exhausted.

I’m blessed with wonderful friends, though, who helped move the lion’s share of the boxes and packed stuff in exchange for lunch. So grateful for them! And for everyone who helped us find homes for stuff we couldn’t take with us.

And of course, we had some complications show up to try to derail things. The first was a nail in my car tyre, on the day the mover’s came to shift the big furniture for us. We changed it out for the spare just before the truck arrived, and I had to squeeze a garage trip into my time off work to get it fixed. Luckily, not too expensive, but a pain in the ass I didn’t need with so much else going on.

The second big one was the fridge that didn’t fit up the stairs. The new place is a bit upside-down, with the lounge and kitchen on the top (3rd) floor. Our old fridge was wide (about a standard fridge and a half) and wouldn’t go around the corners to get up the stairs, and our other option would have been some kind of lift to get it over the balcony up there. I wasn’t keen on spending a few hundred more dollars on an old fridge, so it got to sit in the garage while I went about buying a new fridge. It was a few hundred dollars I hadn’t particularly wanted to spend, but better spent on a new fridge than an old one. We spent 2 weeks running up and down stairs to the fridge, but the new one arrived last week (and made it up the stairs!), and it’s all good now. We finally have a fully-functional kitchen!

It has been a lot and I’m so happy to have got through it. We haven’t finished unpacking everything yet, but most of it is done. I’m taking my time picking away at the rest.

Since I’ve been back at work, it has been all systems go to catch up with what happened while I was away, squeeze about 6 weeks’ worth of documentation into 2 weeks, and get all the prep done for my work trip to the US. I have so many balls in the air, I can barely keep count!

Right now, I hardly know what day it is. The wheels haven’t come off yet and I think I’ve got everything lined up and heading in the right direction, so I think I can say it’s going okay.

Hope you’re all doing okay out there. I’ll be back soon with another update! Onwards and upwards, my friends.

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17 May 2019 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #55

Eight murders have taken place in your character’s town: once a week, on the same day, at the same time. When your character gets abducted, they have only a few hours to discover why this is happening and how to get free.

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10 May 2019 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #54

Your character has gone through life believing that love is a choice and they have always chosen ‘no’. But an argument with a stranger changes this belief.

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3 May 2019 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #53

Your character has the ability to change how they look, and so they have always hidden their true appearance behind attractive facades. Now, their abilities aren’t working, exposing what they truly look like.

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26 April 2019 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #52

All food has to be manufactured in bulk and distributed. There is no flavor and it’s the same every day. Then a plant grows up through the cracks, bearing berries.

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19 April 2019 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #51

Magic exists in the world. Why does your character despise using it so much?

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14 April 2019 - 10:00 am

Weight upon me

I haven’t posted here in a while. Here is why, what’s been going on with me, where I am, and what I’m doing about it.

Last year was mostly a struggle.

I don’t want to get into the particulars at this point; suffice to say that 2018 was hard, I survived, and I came out of it at the end… okay. Able to carry on. I guess that’s not saying much.

The worst and probably most illustrative part was when I wound up in hospital for 4 days with a massive infection – the medical staff were concerned and looked after me well, while I was calm and pretty philosophical about it all. It was more of the same kind of pressure that I’m used to; it just took a different form than usual. I narrowly avoided needing surgery and was eventually released to look after myself again.

It was all part of a downward spiral, though, and it became impossible to avoid recognising that. I’ve tried to deny it for so long, determined to believe that I can keep pushing on, that it’ll swing back up if I just hold on. I’ve been holding on so tight that my knuckles are white and my hands have been shaking for a while now, and I know I can’t maintain this grip for long.

Most importantly: it’s not getting better; it’s only getting worse. My health, the amount of stress I’m carrying, the financial burdens.

There are things that have slipped away from me that I didn’t truly notice for a while. Things I put down ‘for now’ to try to catch my breath or refocus or get back on my feet. Spoons I gathered in to use in other places. Spoons I had intended to only borrow, to eventually return to where they came from: things I meant to get back to. But didn’t.

In many cases, this was around my writing, and was visible in all the places I went quiet. This blog, Inkspired, publishing, my writing group (though there were many reasons I put that on hiatus), all of the in-progress projects I haven’t made any progress on in a while. Things I love and enjoy slipping through my fingers. For the record: it’s not because they’re unimportant or that I fell out of love. I’ve missed them and I want them back.

I’m tired of being strong.

I’m tired of many things. I’m tired of working every weekday. I’m tired of walling off Sundays to rest, so I can survive working every weekday.

I’m tired of trying to do the right thing for everyone else. I’m tired of carrying the weight of supporting my family. I’m tired of not complaining about it. I’m tired of being stressed about money and bills.

I’m tired of struggling with my health every day. I’m tired of trying to count and budget spoons. I’m tired of letting people down. I’m tired of not being able to do everything, not even everything I want to. I’m tired of having ideas I can’t follow through on. I’m tired of soldiering on anyway. I’m tired of trying to believe that what I can do is enough.

Most of all, I’m tired of being tired.

This year, I’m trying to make changes.

I’m working to pull out from under the strain before I buckle and fall and can’t get back up again.

Making changes is more energy, more spoons: more work. Different work than just keeping on where I am. It’s pulling yet more pressure onto myself, in the hopes of lessening it later. It’s borrowing spoons from next week, from six months from now, in the hopes that the lighter times will come before I have to pay them all back.

It’s the only way that things will change. It’s my only hope of climbing out of this hole I’m in and getting to someplace better. I’ve been scraping to make ends meet and put enough aside to be able to get out of the physical place I’m in (moving is expensive). My health is hanging by a thread, and I’m trying to push towards treatment while also balancing the cost of it all. I’m trying to manage how others are impacted by the changes I need to make, to be as kind to them as I can, while not sacrificing my own needs in the process.

It is hard. I’m struggling and I am so very, very tired.

I am blessed in many ways.

It’s important to remember those as well, especially now when everything feels so dark and heavy. It’s easy to lose sight of the good stuff and just see all the problems rising up around you.

I have wonderful people in my life, for whom I am eternally grateful. They support me, even if all they can do is listen to me when I need to talk or whine or complain or just shout into the void. They offer practical help too and I know I can call on them if I need to. They don’t make me feel bad for making the choices that I need to make. I hope they know how precious they are, to me and the other lives they touch.

I have a good job, and I work with great colleagues. My job provides me with some stability, and I work hard to make it a priority. It pays my bills and allows me to live fairly well and support my family. I get to explore things that interest me, I feel like I make a meaningful contribution, and it gives me some satisfaction. The security I have here is so very needed, particularly in the current political climate and job market. In this, I am very lucky. I work hard to try to keep hold of what I have and it means a lot to know that it’s worth the effort I put in.

A smaller thing to be grateful for is that I finished paying off my car last year, which means I’m back to being totally debt-free. That is one particular source of stress I am now free of. And no more payments means a little more money I can put aside this year – which is how I’m scraping together enough to make other, more impactful changes. It’s a slender chain of progress, moving so terribly slowly, but progress nonetheless.

It’s so easy to forget about these things, so I strive to keep them in mind. I am grateful and they make it easier to be hopeful for other parts of my life to get better, too. I would not be here without them.

So, looking forward.

There is a lot coming up for me over the next few months. I am preparing to move house: a long, hard job, because I am downsizing to relieve some of the financial burden, and we have way, way too much stuff. The next couple of months will be packing, sorting, selling, cleaning, and moving. It is daunting to contemplate but I’m keeping a balanced perspective; breaking it down and taking it one bite at a time. We’ve started and progress is being made.

It looks like I might have another business trip coming up, shortly after the house move is done. I got to visit one of our US offices last year and I’m joining a new project soon, so I might get to visit another of our US offices to kick that off. Which is great and exciting! But the thought of international travel makes me tired and I have to be careful with scheduling to manage my energy well enough to be useful while I’m there. I am looking forward to it, though.

And it looks like I have surgery coming up this year as well. Not related to the hospital stint I had last November, but they did spot an issue while I was there, and follow-up has shown that there’s something I need to have dealt with. It’s going to mean about a week in the hospital and at least another week before I’m fully mobile again.

I guess it counts as major surgery but honestly, I’m mostly looking forward to getting it done. I’m not worried about it. Those with chronic conditions will understand the relief of having a medical issue that they can do something about and might actually get solved. I made a surgeon laugh when he was surprised about how calm I was about it and I said, “Oh, I collect chronic conditions. It’s nice to have something I can give back for once.”

So all that takes me through to July, possibly August, depending on public hospital system waiting lists. It’s a lot, and I have to keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time so I don’t feel overwhelmed. But I know that, at the end of it all, things will be so much better for me. I just have to get through it.

Right now, I’m doing okay. I’m still so terribly tired and I’m still struggling. But I’m making progress and I have some positive goals to aim for. I have support I am so terribly grateful for. I’ll make it through. I’ll get back to the things I let slip and pick them up again.

Like this blog: I’m aiming to start posting here again more regularly, though perhaps not frequently to start with. I’m kick-starting a few other parts of my life as well, getting more balls rolling, because I’m sick of waiting. I want to live my life.

I am tired and I’m lucky and I love all of you, even if we haven’t talked in a while. I hope we’ll talk soon.

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12 April 2019 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #50

While on a hike, your character discovers a small tower buried beneath the ground.

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6 April 2019 - 5:20 pm

Time out of Mind: Epilogue

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

Congratulations! You have made it through our time-twisted story and emerged from the other side, hopefully victorious. 

I hope you have had fun and created at least a little something unexpected. I would love to hear what you thought of the challenges, and the bonus challenges as well. 

For today, our challenge is done and the Asylum releases you. Go forth and be inspired! Spend your time wisely.

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