Ice-cream at Messina for a very hot first day of summer (i got salted caramel with white chocolate and milk chocolate with peanut butter fudge).
I get so envious this time of the year when i read the blogs of people residing in the northern hemisphere. Most of the bloggers on my google reader are American and i have been reading about Thanksgiving menu planning and Christmas decorations and even snow! These holidays must make the cold weather somewhat more bearable. Our winter season in Australia lasts from May to August and seems to go on forever- day after day of icy winds and runny noses- and i wish we had some festive holidays during that time to look forward to. I wouldn’t mind the cold so much if there was a big pine tree to decorate and carols to play or pumpkin pie(s) to make for the twenty people coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. But no. We have the cold and i make do by reading about how my American friends are spending their summer.
I love the idea of Thanksgiving and all the traditions that accompany it. I especially love the idea of family and/or friends coming together to celebrate and give thanks and although it would be nice to do that more than once a year, it is also special to have one day set aside where families all over the country are giving thanks for love, life and other things like a job promotion or the lead in the school play or a new child. I imagine myself waking up in the morning with a smile on my face knowing that my neighbour next door will also be giving thanks that afternoon with her family and that my barista will be celebrating with his friends. I know i’m being idealistic but isn’t this the season for idealism and good thoughts?
I would love to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in America one year. I will wear my red coat, cream-coloured scarf and brown boots and watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center with a cup of hot cocoa warming my hands and I will give thanks for everything that was before me and what is to come.
I do not want to take these things for granted: the long days; the beauty of the jacaranda tree outside my window and the way the soft purple petals fall to the ground ever few seconds; this cool, rainy day which makes writing and a pot of hot tea even more enjoyable; finding treasures in the children’s library- Last Term at Malory Towers, Little House on the Prairie and L.M.Montgomery’s Kilmeny of the Orchard (which i have never read)- they make me nostalgic for days gone by but also make me excited at the thought of my sweet girl reading them one day; and lastly this- this crazy, imperfect life full of desires and dreams and hope.
I had my first swim of the season yesterday and let me tell you, it was COLD. There was a cool wind blowing and the water itself was icy. I think i was cold for a full hour after i got home and ended up needing a hot shower, a hot cup of tea and my winter home shoes to stay toasty. But still! It was a great to have that first swim over and done with because i build it up so much in my mind, especially during the darkest and coldest days of winter where warmer temperatures seem like a far-away dream and the thought of swimming in the ocean and being reinvigorated by the goodness of saltwater makes the yearning for summer even stronger. Now, i can just enjoy my swim and strengthen my back and feel happier.
Today, the waves were choppy and honestly, frightening at times. But the water temperature was beautiful and swimming among the waves proved to be good exercise. I felt so alive after my swim, a feeling that carried me through the rest of the day. I’m attributing it to all that magnesium in saltwater.
It is cold today and i am sleepy from having night after night of broken sleep. I go to sleep easily, so tired from dealing with and running after an almost two-year old. But about four hours later, i find myself wide awake and thinking. These thoughts (never good, productive ones unfortunately) lead to anxiety and a racing heart and then a plea to my very asleep husband to please rub my back or hold me tight so i can try to go back to sleep. About an hour or two later, i am asleep once more until either the alarm goes off at 6.30 or Elisabeth wakes up, whichever happens first.
I read an article in Vogue about the warning signs of heart disease in women and i seem to have all of them (sleep disturbances, high levels of anxiety, indigestion, etc.) Interestingly, most of the symptoms are similar to a person facing anxiety and panic attacks (and i have been battling these for many years). Just reading that article made me nervous. I am a 30 year old woman who leads a healthy lifestyle and don’t want to think about heart problems or death or dying. But there is always doubt, isn’t there? Young people do die of heart attacks. It happens.
Anxiety is an ugly thing and when you don’t nip it in the bud, it takes over your life- slowly at first. And then one day, you find yourself hesitating to go out because of the possibility of you collapsing on the streets without anyone to help you. One day becomes two days and then three. Three days of staying in the house because of fear. Having a child makes me go out everyday even when i don’t feel like it but i always check that i have my mobile phone with me. The phone has become my security blanket (if i feel like i’m about to collapse, i can call my husband and he can do something.) and i hate it. I want to be free.
Feeling trapped causes me to not do many things. I want to be a writer but i don’t write; i want to sew beautiful dresses but i don’t. Some days and better than others but i want all days to be better. And surely, that cannot be too much to ask for?
On my good days, i tell myself to throw away the excuses and just start. If i want to be a writer, i must write! If i want to sew, then i must take that sewing machine out and sew! It makes complete sense to me.
But when my chest is feeling tight and my heart is racing and i have a hundred different anxious thoughts going through my head, it’s all i can do to put one foot in front of the other.
It is a Tuesday afternoon and the house is quiet except for the classical station playing on the radio. I look forward, as i am sure every stay-at-home parent does, to the quiet of the afternoon, when i can sit and type and eat or bake and read without a child needing something.
Today, as i was reading Joy the Baker’s blog, she talked about her trip to Maine. Reading her thoughts on the state, it made me want to visit. It seems like the sort of place i could live in for a while, especially if my visit included a stay in a house with a porch overlooking the sea. Wouldn’t that be incredible, to wake up to water right at your doorstep every morning? I bet even my morning coffee would taste better sitting on a front porch with a book and a kindred spirit.
Sometimes, i dream of having a close-knit group of friends. We would go for walks together, spend time with our families together over the weekend, have coffee after school drop-offs. You know the type of friends i’m talking about- the ones you can laugh with until your bellies ache and cry with when sorrows come. I guess this dream could become true but it just seems so hard. It doesn’t seem as easy to make friends now as it did when i was younger. Now, friends deal with illness, loss, regret, births and marriages rather than crushes, too much homework and overprotective parents. Friends expect more from you now than before and you expect more from them too. How could you not, considering so many of us live away from our families and depend on our friends to be family. But these expectations, in turn, mean that finding true friends can be difficult.
It doesn’t mean that i don’t dream. I do. I dream of Maine and a front porch, good coffee and the truest of friends. My dreams help me wake up in the morning and face another day; they help me deal with anxiety that threatens to consume me; they bring light to bleak days.
Today has turned into tonight. Elisabeth is in bed, a sausage and kale tart is cooling on the stove and there may be ice-cream after dinner. I will tell my husband of Maine and my desire to have a group of girlfriends and he will encourage me to keep on trying, as he always does for he believes in me and my dreams.
Some good things:
It is springtime in the southern hemisphere and the days are getting noticeably longer. Swim season will be upon us soon, which is very exciting as we love swimming in the saltwater pool at the beach. I am also trying to figure out what to do with my life and am hoping that the beauty and newness of life that spring brings with it will help me gain some insight and perspective. I feel like i need to be doing something but i just don’t know what it is yet.