Category Archives: Leaky Bucket

Re-Purpose & Re-Learn

I like certainty. Knowing what’s going on. What to expect. I like to be able to manage the variations. It’s been my survival mechanism, and one that has served me well.

When that environment changes, it unsettles me.

The bottom of my leaky bucket fell apart in 2012 and there was no management plan. All I was left with was the splintered handle and sheer confusion…what just happened? I have the receipt somewhere, I can get a replacement.

Simple, rustic, functional and a couple of dents for character
Simple, rustic, functional and a couple of dents for character

My bucket design rebuild has been long, well-intentioned but poorly designed. I’ve tried to build more flexibility in the design so I can hold more. Not more weight. More variety. Just like my farmers’ market bag.

In this bag I can throw my apples, lemons and pumpkin at the bottom with no fear that it’s going to drop out of the bottom, but I still have plenty space on top for my more fragile items – the herbs, the wild mushrooms and bright berries.

Unlike my trusty bucket, my farmer market stash looks ‘alive’

Previously I would have crammed as much as I could in my bag, and bucket, to the point it was overflowing. I would struggle to lift it, let alone carry it very far. But I would persevere, this bucket will not beat me!

I’ll be honest, I still struggle with my selection and packing process. In my 20’s I backpacked across North America, where I was dutifully taught to roll my clothes to create more space, avoid daggy creasing and, in my mind, justify those ridiculous heels!

I never learnt the packing technique taught to a check out chick – always assess weight and never trust the plastic bag!

Today, I try to make more conscious decisions. And it starts with what my three priorities for the day. That’s right, only three, and when one is non-negotiable – meals and snacks to keep me fuelled – that leaves me two priorities. Two things I can do, not must, to feel alive – conscious, mindful, engaged.

This often includes walks with Franki with an attempt at mindfulness whilst I am out with her. Observing my feet as they hit the pavement, hearing the leaves rustle in the trees or hearing the cockatoos squawking. Sometimes, the mindfulness simply extends to be alert to what else she has tried to sneak into her mouth.

On a good day, practising a simple 20 minute home yoga sequence feels right and rejuvenating. Walking to my local cafe and catching up on Sunday paper inserts is soothing. I get the sun on my back and a chat with the cafe owners, staff, random dog owners.

On a particularly leaky day, when I cannot bear the 45 stairs I must walk down from my 3rd level apartment to reach the outside world, I lay on the verandah amongst the canopy of the eucalypts and just try to breathe, and remind myself “it’s easy to be heavy, hard to be light.”

Of course on really great days I throw my mantra out the door. Not on purpose, I am just so excited to feel good, pain free (for me).

I am excited that my knees aren’t on fire or that the waves of fatigue haven’t hit, so I take a walk, do some work, eat without chewing properly, hit the local cafe, read a little, google too much and by mid-afternoon it hits me. The adrenalin rush will soon convert to an adrenalin hangover.

I’ve left no space in the market bag for the fragile goods, I’ve crammed it all with the exotic veges I don’t know what to do with, fresh crusty gluten-loaded rolls and those great looking salted caramel macarons that I love so much.

It’s a work in progress. I’m only just working out the right packing technique…and there are days where I simply misjudge quantity for quality.

Surely I’m not the only one?

Postscript: It appears I’m not the only one who uses a top-three priority list, it’s also used as a productivity tool & for peaceful zen…perhaps I’m on to something!

And this is where it starts…

The last six months of 2012 were life changing.

My life was turned upside down; and I was shaken, not stirred.

Shaken so very hard I didn’t know where I would land. What abyss would I face?

I was hanging onto a final thread, desperate to not let go of what was familiar, despite the fact that it would most likely kill me.

It was like a out take from the Lord of the Rings.

Perhaps Frodo should have let go as well?

I’m a slow learner you see, I’ve learnt that 10 is my magic number. It took me 10 years from the time I could speak, before I could find the words to leak my childhood secret. And at least 10 therapists since then to keep me sane, assuring me that my responses, behaviours and thoughts were ‘normal.’

10 days before by 35th birthday, I experienced debilitating fatigue before my body collapsed into a heap. 10 days after my 35th birthday to accept that something was wrong, and I could no longer push through. 10 weeks to hit absolute rock bottom, wondering if it was all worth it. And just as long to let go, if only just one finger, off that ledge peering into the abyss.

Bottom of well_canstock

How did I get here? God knows. I am the overachiever, type-A personality. I suffered childhood trauma, that has never really been resolved. Is it meant to? I’ve learnt to stay under the radar, work hard and people will notice your efforts. Mistake #1, of volume 10.

I’m not very good at asserting myself. At the back of my mind I don’t think my opinion is of any value. Again, childhood conditioning contributed to this.

I avoid conflict. I don’t think I was ever taught how to disagree without taking it personally or fearing I will hurt the other person. Whether it’s a debate over the dinner table about refugees and their right to seek asylum or whether I should tell my mum, 4 calls a day to check on my welfare, is a little over the top.

So I either avoid conflict, a difference in opinions, or if I’m really worked up…it usually ends with me in angry tears, feeling uber-tense and/or infuriated or leaving the recipient/s bamboozled. Not quite conducive to interpersonal relationships. This also explains why I was single for so long.

As you can see, I’m pretty au fait with my weaknesses. I just don’t know how to turn them around. And you can be as enlightened as possible, but without the ability to transform…it’s just a choose your own adventure book with only one option.

I’ve now been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus and Hashimoto disease is rearing its head.

No point asking how I got here.

The question is: how can I move from understanding my emotionally constipated state to adding some fibre?