Tag Archives: Life lessons

Fall Fashion

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My September Issue involved a bit more fall fashion than I hoped for. Shortly after my last post in 2012, I had a nasty fall (an accident) which altered more than just my wardrobe for my favourite season. My right shoulder got dislocated. One arm a hand longer than the other. No big deal right? Ouch but they can just click it back in and you’re good to go. So I thought. After slotting my bones back in place as best he could, my emergency doctor cheers me with the fact that the majority of shoulder dislocations recur and they get less painful after the 10th time or so. Good news for me though, I could be recommended for surgery because my shoulder dislocated in a particularly gruesome manner. Not exactly the comfort I was expecting. Throughout my ‘recovery’ I was the pet shoulder-trauma case study for the local teaching hospital. Glad to be of service to mankind but I wish it could have been in a less painful way.

I had the mandatory fixed sling wrapped around my body which I rocked under my top for 4 weeks. Autumn was the best season for this as I could layer with flowy fabrics and disguise the lack of an arm. Small, everyday things became mountains to climb and I slowly learnt to accept the overwhelming amount of love, care and support I was shown. My students had no complaints about my left-hand writing, my bosses were kind and my friends cheered me up no end. My husband and I grew a lot closer. He washed my hair, dried and styled it. That in itself deserves a medal. He also helped me bathe, get dressed, hardly slept because he kept propping me up so I could sleep in a seated position, opened doors, cut my food up for me, did all the household chores we normally share, put up with my bouts of depressed sobbing, helped me re-focus when I thought of all the short-term ways my life was being affected and encouraged me to go ahead and start my diploma in management like I wanted. This was definitely a big lesson in marriage and love.

Fast-forward through physiotherapy and winter to the time I stopped working full-time to focus on my diploma. Apparently, the risk of me having another painful dislocation was too high as the things holding my bones in place were mere threads now. I ended up having surgery, and going through 4 weeks of a fixed sling again with new opportunities to accept incredible love and support. I learnt a lot of German, met brilliant people, regained strength and movement in my right arm, learnt how to write again, conquered a lot of fears, passed an exam, enjoyed a brilliant summer of getting healthy and now on Day 43 of Insanity, can do a full push-up.

Things wither and nearly die but with seemingly small amounts of faith, hope and love, they can come back to life.

Little by little, things change.

Pictures clockwise from top left: At a concert 3 days after my fall with my sling disguise. My left-hand handwriting. The first long autumn walk that didn’t hurt too much: a blessed birthday. The diploma underway. Hospital food served by wonderful nurses. My lovely hospital room where I received so much help pre- and post-surgery.

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Long Island Iced Tea

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When I decided on this thing called marriage I knew I had to make some pretty incredible promises. I promised the love of my life that I would above all, prioritise our relationship. I would always work hard at keeping ‘us’. My promises mean that I make time for us even when there are a million other things that I just have to do. I love having many things on the go at the same time so carving out special time for just the two of us can be tricky. A life-lesson I choose to learn everyday. I have to give my full attention to the one I made my promises to and re-discover why I made them! It is easy to roll off a few tender sounding goodbye phrases without thinking but when I realise that they were the only interaction we had all week, some alarm bells start ringing.

My husband has an amazing ability to slow down and give me a hug whatever is going on and I sometimes wish I was quicker at giving and receiving love when I’m in the middle of something. Truth is, I’m always going to be in the middle of something. I need to choose. I need to prioritise. My laundry, lesson-planning, hosting, baking and other things can fit around what’s really important. In an effort to get my mind to leave what my hands have left behind, I have to ask questions. I get my mind to focus on our conversation rather than the task I busied myself with earlier. This tests my promises more than anything I had ever anticipated.

We spent a Saturday strolling along the long island in the middle of the Danube, baking slowly in the sun as we watched various groups of people enjoying time out together. We spoke very little for the first part of our 5 mile walk because we had some quarrel so unimportant I cannot even remember what it was about. As we marched through our conflicted feelings, drinking our iced teas to avoid snapping, we both reached the end of our stubborn resistance and through gritted teeth conceded that we loved each other. That gave way to remembering the promises we had made. This softened us to the point of wanting to understand each other, asking questions without being distracted by the activity or beauty around us, to become interested in the answers. We decided to be interested in ‘us’.

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Reverse Engineering

Eat. Work. Sleep. That’s my routine, I think. While I go through another day of what I imagine is /eat.work.sleep/ I begin to envy people who have routines and predictables in their lives. My ‘breakfast’ happens halfway through work, sleep comes and goes as and when I need it and non-work fits around it all. In my head, everything is organised. I think it’s good to work hard and be a 110% person but recently, my life has started to resemble a textbook case study for sleep-deprivation.

Pushing myself through tiredness, with barely enough time to shower, eat and relax, I became more prone to colds, migraines and overall rattiness. There have been so many good things happening in every sphere of my life, that I just felt compelled to put my fingers in too many pies. I get caught in the moment but sadly that’s not always a good thing.

I have to do a bit of reverse-engineering to figure out what my priorities are again and realign my lifestyle to fit those goals. Look forwards and then look back. Where do I want to be in x-amount of time? Working backwards, I can see what I need to do by when, foresee problems, factor them in and learn more about the process. My favourite part: Setting my own deadlines and doing things with more focus.

I made this dress for a darling niece in the middle of one of the most intense but fulfilling months. I had to be organised. I reverse-engineered for this dress and it worked out perfectly. I knew what I had to do by when and had a realistic time-scale for it. I was so into the whole process once I mapped it out that I decided to make the dress reversible too.

Turned out that I could make two dresses in the SAME time it would have taken me to make one.

Planning=Productivity

Busyness≠Productivity

Maybe I don’t need much of a routine afterall. Just a good plan. A plan that includes sleep.

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Rocky Road

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I’m ok with my life being a series of ups punctuated with downs. It wasn’t until recently that I began to appreciate the downs. They allow me to learn, re-evaluate and get climbing again. Anyone who has tried to learn anything will know that it’s hardest to get started. For me, a real low gets my head into gear and motivates me to try again, to shift out of the complacency that got me there in the first place.

Whether it’s my relationship with my husband, wider family, my job, my friendships, my desire to create, take pictures or blog, I find that my level of effort waxes and wanes much like the moon. I can’t realistically give 100% to everything all the time but there are a few things, important things, that I’d like to try to be consistently good at. This means putting in effort, climbing and enjoying the scenery along the way. Not just at the top.

Recently, I’ve been enjoying the scenery along the way by increasing my teaching hours, timing my lesson prep, finding out which type of cereal bar I like (Corny’s Almond and White Chocolate bar has maximum yum-factor with the least healthy advantage), washing up as a present to my husband, joining a German conversation class, making things for babies popping up around me and training for a marathon that only my husband and I will run.

Baking up sweet treats is tricky right now so I have resorted to goodies of the no-bake variety. Rocky Road is great when you’re stretched for time but still want something yummilicious to share.

  • Heat 100g of butter in a saucepan with 200g of dark chocolate (broken into pieces) and 2 generous tablespoons of runny honey.
  • Chop up 100g of biscuits (I just used whatever was to hand; a mix of chocolate chip and rich tea), shove ’em in the chocolatey mixture and fold till they’re coated.
  • Finally, add 80-90g of marshmallows (it took me what felt like an eternity to rip up the big sticky ones so it’s best to use mini-marshmallows), stir and turn the whole lot into a cake tin, spatula-ing the glob into a circle.
  • I used a silicone cake form (no need to grease!), shoved it in the freezer for about 40 minutes and cut into wedges to serve. 
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