Monday, December 31, 2012

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of 2012 - A Year in Review

Wow, 2 posts in one day ;)  Well, what can I say?  I've got some catching up to do ;)
So, in true end of the year style, I thought that I would do a bit of a Year in Review.  Not usually one of my favourite things to do, but I thought that I would just reflect on some of the things that happened and things that influenced me this year.
So, without further ado, my Top Ten (warts and all) Highlights and Lowlights of 2012. (in no particular order)

1.  Moving.
This has got to be number one.  We finally moved this year, after being in the same (skanky ;) rental house for 10 years.  It was too small, our boys Connor (13) and Hamish (6) were sharing a very small room together and, let's just say, it wasn't working.  I think poor Connor was feeling very displaced because he had been an only child for 7 years and then Hamish came along. Suddenly, everything was different and his room wasn't his own anymore and frankly, he had nowhere to hide.  Now, the boys have their own separate rooms and have their own space, and we can all breathe a little easier.  The old house was also between 2 main roads, so we would be trying to go to sleep to the sounds of constant traffic, emergency vehicles roaring past or the screech of near misses and crashes when they didn't miss.  Our new house isn't flash or huge, but it has room for the boys, a craft room ;), a bit of a man-land, a garden bit (that I'm cultivating and trying desperately not to kill with my black thumbs) and a little outdoor-ish nook where the frogs are, Dion can hide and where I've also been finding myself spending time doing messy art journalling.  Without sounding like a giant hippie  - this house is old and quirky and has a great, relaxing vibe.

2. Lee.  
2012 also saw the gaining of and losing of a lovely and inspiring friend.  For a too brief time I was privileged enough to meet and become friends with a beautiful woman named Lee Irvine.  When I first met Lee it was like love at first sight.  There is really no other way to describe it, and I wasn't the only one who felt the same.  She was an absolute cracker!  Funny, vibrant, beautiful, energetic and full to the brim with life. Unfortunately, though you wouldn't know it to look at her, Lee had been battling with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma for 5 years.  Lee came to the store (still Stamp and Scrapbook Madness then) and did classes, and was never empty handed.  I swear in those few months none of us had eaten so many Tim Tams in our lives!  Sadly though, after having a set back in her hopes for a new treatment, Lee decided that she didn't have it in her to fight any longer, and she took her life before the Cancer could claim it completely.  She was definitely an Angel and we were blessed to have her for what time we did.  Even now she inspires me, and also helps me to be grateful for what I have.

3. Babies, Babies, Babies! 
Not mine (thank goodness!) but it seems that you shouldn't be drinking the water because so many of my friends and family have either just had, or are about to have, babies!  My good friend Rachel had her beautiful baby Molly, her eldest daughter Amy is about to pop (so to speak;) one of my best friends from high school, Darlene, bashfully revealed that she is expecting her first, my old room mate Sally, gave birth to her first child, Charlotte, only a month or so after finally revealing on Facebook that they were expecting at all and another of my peeps, Krischelle is enciente! (that's french for up the duff ;) I'm sure there are more that I've forgotten..oh yes, one of my Nephews became a father for the first time and my fave Niece (not mentioning any names ;) is preggers again! Phew, it's hard to keep up.

4. Technology. 
This year I finally got a laptop (yay!) something that I had been yearning for for a long time.  I also finally gave in and got a smart phone.  My old phone was not really working anymore, I needed something more reliable and also thought that maybe a smart phone could help me be more organized....well, I don't know if it does or not but, hey, I know when my work shifts are and most of my calender-y things are on also meant that Sharlene was able to get me addicted to Instagram though ;)

5. School.
This year was the only one that Hamish and Connor will spend at the same school, Hamish was in Prep and Connor was in Year 7.  They both went to Norman Park State School, which was great, but with the move we have put Hamish in Bulimba State School as it will be so much easier.  Also, I never bonded with any of the parents at Norman Park, even though Connor was there 5 years.  I'm sure most of it was me, but I just felt really awkward talking to any of the parents.  I'm hoping it will be better at Bulimba.  Already though, my reputation precedes me as some of the staff know me from SSM ;)  Connor will be going to Balmoral High (eek) I still freak out that he is a teenager - let alone about to start High School.

6. Pinterest. 
This has been one of my biggest addictions this year!  As of this moment I have 2731 pins, 75 boards, 234 followers and I follow 312 people. And those numbers just keep on rising everyday.  I just find it a fantastic way to keep all of my inspirations and things in one place and some semblance of order.  I love it.

7. True Blood, Charlaine Harris and Alexander Skarsgard (sigh)
Although I have always loved The Sookie Stackhouse novels and True Blood (the TV adaptation of the books) for some strange reason my obsession reached new heights this year.  I actually love both the books and the TV series equally - strangely it doesn't bother me that they are so different, it's sort of like a choose your own adventure story and it runs along similar lines but at different tangents...or how the story would be in a parallel dimension or something.  Dion, Kylie and I even went to an author event jigger and saw Charlaine Harris in the city and got to listen to her talk about the books, the TV series, her life, writing and ask her some questions.  (Actually the lovely lady I met in the elevator there Heidy is pregnant at the moment - so add that to the tally).  Either way, I love both and this year I become even more enamoured.  Especially with the actor that plays Eric Northman - Alexander Skarsgard.  I mean, once you cop a good look at him it's not hard to see why I would be obsessed by him, but still, I did have a moment there when I became quite stalker-ish.  I'd like to think that I've calmed down a bit now, but still, if True Blood is on and He walks onscreen, I do instantly become quiet and eerily resemble a hypnotized chicken.

ps - did you notice the screen savers for both my laptop and my phone?  Look closely behind the dandelion...

8. Creativity Overload - and meeting Tim Holtz
It couldn't be a list by a crafty person and not include the meeting of the celebrity that is Tim Holtz ;) When I try and explain what all the fuss is about to the non-craft inclined I usually just tell them that he is the equivalent of a Justin Bieber of the craft world ;)  Not sure that Tim would approve of that comparison, but there you go.   Well, when the craft circus that is the June Scrapbook and Papercraft Expo came to town I was fortunate enough to do the Techniques Overload 8 hour class with the man. (and about 40 other women - including Rachel ;)  I also managed to cram in two full days of Copic Certification so that I now have my Beginner and Intermediate certification. Add to that the general chaos of the show, and the fact that it was Phil and Lois' first... and you get the idea.  Let's just say that I was knackered by the end and needed a good lie-down so that it all didn't just leak out of my ear again.

9. Goodbye Stamp and Scrapbook Madness, Hello Papertrenz
Another huge change this year was the ownership change of the shop where I work.  Fiona, who I had worked for for 3 years or so, sold the business at the beginning of the year as she and her family are moving to Perth.  The new owners, Phil and Lois are lovely people.  (I must say that on the whole over the years I have been blessed with quite good bosses.)  The biggest difference I find (and to be honest the hardest) is the fact that they are not crafty people.  They are lovely and savvy and on the whole quite sensible, so as you can imagine, when the Scrapbooking ladies descended amongst them, it was as though they had been invaded by aliens ;)  My biggest challenge is to maintain some semblance of order in the chaos that I create upstairs, but luckily I have the lovely Sharlene and Jeanette to help keep me in line.

10. Project Life
The final thing to mention that has been a big influence on my year would be the whole Project Life concept.  Although I had been dabbling with this concept for a couple of years and by no means kept up to date with the weeks and pages, this year I found I have started using this format for the majority of my scrapbooking.  I have found it hard to be inspired with so much going on (and don't get me started on the state of my craft room since the move) but the pocket pages, the focus on journaling and the ease with which it can all come together is just so appealing for me.  I still love the traditional 12x12 pages and will always continue doing them, but for the day to day, and especially the messy stuff, this format just works for me.

Well, that's about it.  I've tried hard not to mention the black cloud that hung over me for most of the year, shadowing so much that I almost made it number 11.  Instead I'm trying to focus on the events and the happenings.  I am tentatively hopeful for 2013.  The fact that I can still have hope gives me even more, maybe the new year will bring peace and strength and joy.  The main difference I know is that I have finally admitted that I can't do it all myself.  I am trying to not be a martyr in most things, admit I need help and also realise that people can't help me if they don't know that I need help.
So I'm laying it out there in the new year (so to speak).  And I'm going on the record.  I'm Barbara, I'm broken, and I might need a bit of a hand to put some pieces back together.
Bring on the New Year!

New Beginnings and Full Disclosure

Well hello there, Bloggers!
It's the last day of 2012 and I, for one, am not too sad to see it go.
It's been an interesting one.  Full of change.  Full of beginnings and endings.  Some foreseen and some not so much.
I've had a few people ask me why I haven't been blogging as much as I was.  I mostly just put them off but have decided to share a little something about myself that some of you may, or may not, know.
(be warned - this post gets a bit verbose ;)

 For many years now I have suffered chronic depression.  It's not something I like to shout out to the world, but there it is.  For the most part I have been able to manage it with medication and the odd bit of therapy, but for some reason from the very beginning of this year, for the whole of this year, it has been worse.
For those that have never had to deal with mental illness, or depression it is very hard to understand.
Let me just start by saying this - there is not always a rhyme or reason for it.  Being depressed or having a depressive episode is NOT the same as being sad.  If you are sad there is often a very good reason for it. When I am having a 'bad' day I often get so frustrated because a part of my brain is often yelling at me saying 'suck it up!  what have you got to be sad about?  Things aren't nearly as bad as they have been in the past and here you are falling apart!' But that's just the way it is. I hide, away from everyone (usually in my room) unable to answer the phone, go on the computer - whether to check or respond to emails or anything where there might be a person on the other end.  As much as I try and talk myself out of it, I can't. There's no reason, nothing I can pinpoint, and more often than not, no trigger.  Sometimes I just wake up and it's a bad day.  And that bad day can last for many days and then I'll have a good day, or a good couple of days, and then it's back down to the bottom again.
I think the biggest difference this year is I just haven't been able to 'fake it' as much anymore. People often think that if you act happy and funny and quirky then your life it all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops.  Newsflash, it's not.  Often it's a ruse, an act, to function in the real world.  Except lately it's like I've run out of the energy to cover it all up and the cracks are showing a bit too much.  And I didn't want my Blog to be a whingey. whiny arena ;)   (although you may have noticed that the last couple of posts weren't the merriest ;) So, I stopped. Thinking that when I could fake it a bit better, I'd start Blogging again..... Except, I still haven't gotten to that point again.  Lately, though I have been thinking that maybe, I should just come clean.  Get it out there and move on.  I know that the only way that we can reduce the stigma of mental illness is to be open and honest about it, but it is still hard.
So, bear with me.  I want to still share my quirky, creative journey with you, but just wanted to give you the heads up - it might not always be pretty, and happy happy joy joy.  but I'm trying.  And I've decided that if it helps others by my being a bit honest, then that's an added bonus.  I know that it helps me to know that I'm not the only messy and broken one out there, so I guess, I just wanted you guys to know it too.