Confessions and Cashmere

cashmere, wine and pathfinding

Facing the fear of…. birthdays

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Photo care of http://jfeelings.blogspot.fr/2011/02/fear-of-dark.htmlEveryone has their different things. The way they celebrate life. Birthdays seem a nearly universal concept for celebration. And yet for a long time I hated mine. In the past I have had a lot of bad circumstances with my birthday, car accidents, deaths, being lost and alone in foreign cities where I don’t speak the language (it continues but you get the idea).

In fact, I had started to regard it as the coming dark blemish on an otherwisegood year. I wouldn’t tell family and friends when it was, I would have dinnerparties near the date but never ON and never, ever FOR my birthday. I felt like I had accrued some kind of bad Karma from a past life and it always collected on my birthdate.

So two years ago, my then boyfriend, and now husband decided to turn that around. He had watched for a few years, how in the weeks before I grew quiet, evasive and apprehensive about the day I was born. And when he asked why I would clam up, not wanting to dump my horrible memories onto another person.

He didn’t start small either. He just said. It’s your birthday, appreciate it and blew me away with the day he had planned. And since then I have had AWESOME birthdays; He has filmed all of my French friends and family, singing and wishing me a happy birthday. He also has annoyed/texted/messaged everyone of my Australian friends and kept reminding them that no matter how much I denied it, I did have a birthday.

This year he took me for stand up paddle between all the islands, and later on, we had a farm house restaurant family dinner. And for the first time in over 12 years I had looked forward to and enjoyed my birthday.

Looking back I’ve been trying to hide under a mental rock. Yes, I had a huge unlucky amount of birthdays, and yes, that just isn’t right. But at the same time everyone deserves a little happiness. No matter how much bad Karma that is out there. So rather than scream “its my birthday” to the skies I have created my own traditions to celebrate me. Ones that remind me to appreciate life and that I’ll enjoy. This is the day I was born and yes I’ll celebrate it…in my own way:

  • I will make it my day of resolutions/projects/aims/goals/dreams
  • I’ll choose three words to live by for the next year
  • I’ll toast my thanks for the last year at dinner.

This year for my toast, I looked back at the last time we ate at the farmhouse restaurant. I couldn’t speak French. I was afraid to speak it. My husband and I were stuck between the countries back then and we were lost at what to do. During that time, with the patience of his family and friends I have learnt French to the point that I can make my birthday toast in French.
I also touched on how supportive everyone has been of us, no matter how impossible things have seemed. And how grateful I am of my husband, who brings me back down to earth and encourages me to face my fears. I got a little teary, as did his mother and Melo; A special friend of mine and my brother-in-laws boyfriend.

The resolutions I will write about here.
And my words to live by I will write about here.

Other than that. I just want to know what you guys are afraid of? Have you faced them?  How do you make your birthday’s yours? What are your traditions for any day? Have you ever made your own traditions?

Thanks so much for reading this
Chelsea B xx

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Written by confessionsandcashmere

July 2, 2012 at 8:16 am

How I burnt out…

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https://i1.wp.com/www.mbpgsu.ca/mbpblog/files/2010/05/burn-out.jpg

Some of this blog is me climbing/tearing/breaking out of my 8 months of recovering haze, taking stock of where I am and moving forward to a better me and more positive future. Part of that process is working out where I went wrong. And part of that wrongness was my burn out.
I don’t think I couldn’t of not burnt out, because I wouldn’t listen to anyone at the time. I worked myself to the ground and I paid the consequences. As my family and friends said I was a car accident waiting to happen. It was just when and where. Here are the bigger elements of it.

The year before moving had been a big one. In that time,August 2010 to August2011, I had:

  1. Travelled to 4 different countries for work or to see my husband 7 times.
  2. Negotiated with my boss to work while away (usually I did this on my boyfriends bedroom floor), and then take the shitty shifts when I got home to make up for my physical absence.
  3. Spent the first 2 months of the 2011 having my first white christmas with my boyfriend turned fiance.
  4. To delay my return flights home to Australia because of the floods and then clean up my house as it was a flooded snake infested mess after the huge floods. (waterlogged insurance policies anyone?)
  5.  Gotten married and planned the wedding in 6 weeks, I allowed my husband to pressure me to do this (NEVER RECOMMENDED)
  6. Attended and completed full-time university study on campus
  7. Applied to the Embassy to marry in Australia and then applied for the living visa in the European country. (Paper work, tears and more paper work)
  8. Moved house by myself once in Australia and another time to France
  9. Worked full time the entire time I was in Australia

I know I had no kids, no pets, and my husband was in another country. BUT I kept on taking on extra normal life stuff, while dealing with everything that was bizarre. Here is a few small examples of voluntarily overloading myself when
I could have easily said no:

  • Sure Aunty H I’ll bake 2kgs of my famous cookies for your granddaughters school fete.
  • Yea Alana I’ll work that extra shift on top of my normal shift that day… Do you mind if I study when it gets quiet?
  • Mr C, do you need that power presentation on international business due Monday? Oh and will I get extra marks for this subject?
  • There is a birthday Ritz? Ok let me organise the restaurant, you organise the rest!
https://confessionsandcashmere.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/tumblr_lgj7ank9vm1qcf2qvo1_500.jpg?w=300

I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t realise how wrong I’d let my life become. How empty and meaningless my actions had become. I was doing stuff but only in reaction. I had stopped being proactive and controlling how, who and what I spent my time and energy on.

I got in over my head. I’m talking about when I still couldn’t sleep cos my body was still holding left over stress. I yelled at my best-friends, and then would burst into tears on the phone to my mother for no reason. And then the Grand Final: Me the total foodaholic, had forgotten to eat properly for 4 days so I dropped a kilo or two, and I didn’t even get excited about it? HELLO??  I spent the last 4 months running on empty. 

By the time I arrived as an immigrant in France, my husbands mother-land, I was numb…I had spent the last 4 months running on empty. And here I was in totally new waters. I had no job, no university study (I had to wait for the new year intake for correspondence), I had no idea how to speak the language, heaps of time and no friends.. 90% of my husbands family can’t even understand English. Our house, which my husband had lived in for 6 months had transformed into a bachelors haven, it was empty, with a shitty couch and his idea of cleanliness. His prized possession was and still is, the huge over-sized flat screen TV.

When everything stops, sometimes you need to too.

Me? After not stopping for over a year? I was numb, isolated and exhausted.

I went from doing too much to having too much time.

I crashed. Hard.

Chelsea B
Have you ever burnt out? How? When? Do you think you could have ever stopped it?

Written by confessionsandcashmere

June 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Lessons Part 1

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I am an expatriate nearing my first year abroad. Here are a few small lessons on moving from Australia to France:

  1. Yes you have time differences between here https://i2.wp.com/i.chzbgr.com/completestore/2009/10/3/128990486648291259.jpgand home, 8 hours in fact. Don’t forget that when you call your mother to just have a chat. A missed 2am phone call her time sends her into a panic.
  2. Your Australian friends will call you for drunken conversations because they know you are awake. Hang up on them. If you don’t they’ll hate you at the end of the month when the phone bill arrives.
  3. Politics are worth fighting for here. Saying “you don’t care” is an offence. But the catch is when you pick a side. Right or Left side you always loose.
  4. Bread (pain) is a serious topic for conversation. Don’t say its boring or that generally you don’t eat bread.
  5. Potato is a vegetable, not a carbohydrate. They will eat potato with bread too.
  6. Talking about a hot day at 18 degrees Celsius will happen. This is not something laughable. You will dream of the past when a hot day was 32.  In winter it will also snow. So don’t pretend it’ll heat up during lunch time. Wear super thick socks and pants, not shorts, not a skirt but PANTS.
  7. Just because you moved to a European country with amazing food doesn’t mean that your husband won’t be addicted to McDonalds. In fact expect them to sneak it at least twice a week.
  8. They don’t understand Hawaiian pizza, in fact using pineapple in savoury food is nearly illegal. Asking for it in a restaurant will make you the joke of the night. (I’m even talking about sweet and sour pork!) Actually anything salty sweet is an alien concept. If you cook Apricot Chicken as a main dinner party dish. Expect weird faces and forks pushing the food all around the plate.
  9. You can make your dog only respond to your home language. In fact I recommend this; mine only listens to English commands which is great when you are in crowds, or around ass holes.
  10. People everywhere say no differently. Here be direct and expect direct. Maybe later means maybe later, not pretending to forget about you and never calling.
  11. Drinks before dinner is compulsory. If everyone is having a good time sometimes dinner is even forgotten. You will probably end up eating every piece of munchy food on that table. When I have times like these I thank myself for packing extra munchies that I can secretly go and chomp away at.  That way I look like less of a pig scavenging for every last potato chip.
  12. Learn every bad word in that second language. Doing so means that you know when someone is rude to your face. It also means that you can sing drunkenly and sub in rude words when you forget them. This is a great way to take off the heat if you don’t understand the song.
  13. People don’t understand distance here. They will tell you they are spending a week in Australia and yes they do really plan to drive from Brisbane to Cairns for a weekend. Then they’ll get down to Melbourne maybe the day after. Learn not to snort or laugh. They can’t help that their country is smaller.

There is so many more that I can think of but I’ll leave it to that for now.
Chelsea B xx
What are your lessons learnt from relocating? How do you manage these changes?

Written by confessionsandcashmere

June 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm

My first ever Cashmere

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I remember my first ever piece. It was a Silver Lacoste collection edition orginally $800 down to $150 at Harbour Town outlet on the Goldcoast. https://confessionsandcashmere.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/p6270088.jpg?w=200I was at university at the time (I still am by correspondence) and a $150 equalled about 10 T-shirts to me. However, I needed a jumper, one that was classic, that I could own for years, was super warm and super stylish. This fit the bill. So I tried it on and ummed and ahhed. Then the friend who was with me took my wallet and brought it with my cash. So that I’d stop wondering about getting it. That was one of my/their best purchases EVER.

I have travelled with it, worn it for work and out, with friends, family and on dates. It was tight and loose in all the right places. It was WARM in Paris and Milan and London, and I looked casually classic and stylish too… And then, my husband washed it in the washing machine with his socks and his jeans like it was any old jumper.

And it shrunk to about the size of a 12 year old, which is also the same size as my mother in law. Me? I’m an Australian size 10-12, so I was lucky I could poke my head through the top when it came out. I have boobs and hips, I am definitely curvy but not overweight. My dream jumper just got whopper smacked out of my hands, and I wasn’t about to give it to my mother in law which would have been the nicest thing to do.

No, instead, I yelled at my husband and then I went straight to google for advice to fix shrunken cashmere sweaters. And most advice was either give up or use something really soft to get it to un-shrink. I persevered with the unshrinking and ended up with a cashmere lump that resembles nothing.

I really should have been nice and given it to my mother in law.
Chelsea B xx

P.S Has any of your favourite pieces of clothing ever been wrecked? How?

Written by confessionsandcashmere

June 24, 2012 at 6:45 am

Along the way

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My mother accepted anyone for who they were. She always had a special way of explaining the unexplainable. Babies came out of mummies tummies was a classic half truth until we were old enough to understand. The ATM only gave mum money because we needed to buy groceries was another. She always told us the PIN number was her explaining to the bank we needed more food. (Funny that, I never bugged her for money from the bank after that, only ever from her wallet!) I also love how my mum accepts those people who are disabled.

My first memory of a disabled person was in church. He was playing on the floor quietly and then his sister took a toy from him and he started screaming. LOUD. Now, I remember even if my sister pinched or kicked me I couldn’t pick a fight with her in church.
Just to clear this up, I have never had a fight with my sister in church, but its still something I think of as a HUGE no no. . . So obviously this little boy screaming was something I couldn’t understand. As soon as I could after the sermon, I remember asking mum what was wrong.
“He’s disabled sweetie, sometimes he doesn’t understand that he is doing something that people think of as wrong.”
“But why? I’m not allowed to do that.” Like every other young kid I always wanted as thorough explanation as possible.
“Well he is special. One day you will grow up and be a big person. But he will stay the same. Staying the same makes him special and means that we all have to take extra care around, and with him.”
“Ok, but what makes him special?” I was frustrated. Mum called me special all the time, Granddad did too, how could I at that young age differentiate these two kinds of special-ness. And mum in her way did explain:
“He was touched by an angel Sweety. When he was in his mummies tummy he got really scared so God asked an angel to check on him, and when she went to check on him she made him that special.”

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS5usP9IFl6kJEp5aC2LQnApcB9oSQsUFTu5sDs3q8yYnydsOW6rCVTqyaH

That favourite TV show of mine

Well at that age, that seemed like a good enough answer. I mean I loved, LOVED, a TV show back then called “Touched by an angel”. This answer combined with my theory of god and a TV show made enough sense that I shut up.

But while some people may get pissed off that my mum hijacked God and Angels and a TV show to make me respect and care for a little disabled child, and all those disabled children thereafter. I think it’s great. Because, unlike other kids, my sister and I were gentle and patient and caring, we also protected these kids at school (my sister punched up a boy bully once, because he stole money from an “angel touched” kid). I think it’s great that I grew up gentle and respectful of people that can’t help who and how they are.

I’m talking about it now because somewhere along the way I still cared about them, but I stopped making time for those disabled people that sometimes really need a tiny bit of attention. I’m not talking about being a disability spokesperson, carer or a protector. I’m talking about how I used to make 5 minutes of time to sit with these people at the family or friends functions. To patiently sit, and listen, and make conversation so they felt part of this place. To give them a sense of normalcy in an otherwise bizarre moment in their lives. Sometimes it would be to just visit the family and help them with their homework so their mum could actually have a 15 minute break. But I used to get out there and give small amounts of time.

So recently when I did this in my second language, in my husbands country, the shock that came to his face was sad. He hadn’t seen me as that person, the one who notices these people. He didn’t have a problem but at the same time he hadn’t seen the better part of me. I’m trying to get that part back. I’m just frustrated that I let that go.

When have you rediscovered something about yourself that you liked? What are your memories of your parents telling a “truth”? Or what is something that has stuck with you since you were little?
Chelsea B
Xx

Written by confessionsandcashmere

June 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

My aim, but not a promise

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Photo from drbeckersbites.com

My aim, but not a promise, is to deliver something at least once a week. Sometimes more but never no less. I say aim because promises are too easily broken. Aim seems more motivational too. With promise comes a duty, a chore even,  to keep to that promise, however with an aim comes motivation and desire. It is more a target and a challenge rather than a chore and a duty. I believe in the strength of words, and so I am trying to be careful in how I choose mine.

Everyone has a blog these days for every unique reason out there. Some great, some that fizzle and some that sparkle full of brilliance. I am writing mine because I came to loggerheads recently and the need to write and discuss it became so strong that I found an old battered empty textbook and started to write. Rather than this come to a meaningless waste I decided to write about it online instead. Hoping that others in any situation of any similarity can not feel alone. I feel a little alone, most of the time actually. This foreign land and the way it is so familiar, and yet, it clashes so strongly with my culture. The language that I mumble and mask so frustratingly similar in sound to my mother tongue, yet so different in construction.

So. My loggerhead issue: I am working on being a better person and having a better quality of life… Yes so simple it sounds! But, it isn’t. Think about your day today.
Were you grateful at any point in time? (A little)
Were you happy? (No, I was that low fuzz of lazy compliance really)
Did you laugh, like really laugh out loud laugh? (Nope again)
Did you abuse your body or mind in any way today? (Yes I overate in comfort food)
Did you use/appreciate your body in some way today?(Yes, running with Goof)

I say abuse as a form of eating because I use https://i2.wp.com/fitchicktricks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/emotional-eating1.jpgemotional eating as a tool to not face my deeper emotions and the underlying problems. Instead I stuff down that food, feeling sick after wards. Somehow still frustrated at whatever the hell has been bugging me in the first place. Then in my viscous cycle I feel guilty and self-negativity rears its ugly head. Again Ill search for food. And so I go on. I am learning to have better choices available each weak moment but its a challenge I face everyday with any form of strong emotion

This aim, is definitely aimed at my own well-being. Studying that subject at university on all levels, from the individual through to a group and community level and then onto a global level has really shaken me to my bones. I kind of reached that point where you pretend everything is ok. Where you LIE to yourself that life is great, you are managing well and that you are happy and and getting those goals done, that somehow you are getting ahead…

The problem with that is when you have to do a self-analysis. When you actually make the time to STOP and BREATHE and THINK just about yourself and how you feel. That is the gut-wrenching, heart tearing moment when you realise that you are quietly falling apart in a corner and no-one, not even your husband, is noticing the quiet arrival of a storm.

Chelsea B xx
P.S What make do you turn to or do when you stress? Do you make promises? Do you analysis yourself? Do you like what you think about yourself?
I’d be really interested to know, leave a comment 🙂

Written by confessionsandcashmere

June 19, 2012 at 3:28 am

And she started writing…

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Welcome to my world.

Where I try to make a reconciliation with all these different me’s. I am not a split personality or anything. But there are so many places I’ve been… I am so many things to so many different people. Family, Wife, Sister, Aunty, Cousin, Immigrant, Service Provider, Manager, Bar Attendant, Student, Teacher, Guardian, Runner, Lifter, Friend, Best Friend, Crazy Person,Lifeguard, Literacy Assistant, Horrible Singer, Decorator, Photographer, Drawer/Artist, Big supporter of gay and lesbian rights even though I have never jumped that fence myself, Great-at-mainly-desserts-kind-of-chef, Housewife, recovering violence victim (and that I say with hesitation). And that’s what I can think of in the last 5 minutes.

How do you get it all in there? And how do you trust people? To let them see the worst parts? There is in fact only one Man that I call a friend that knows the worst of it. And he isn’t even my husband! Not working recently, not being around other people that think similarly to me and not having money in my bank account has torn me to pieces.

Having spare time, to clean a house, to be a house wife? I have gone from a busy larger than life kind of girl to this stranger who now spends nearly a whole day indoors watching Grey’s anatomy, only leaving to run her dog in the afternoon and go to the gym. I’m melting down, mentally falling to bits.

All I can think of is the next plane home, it’s worse than being addicted to crack (not that I know) because unlike a crack addict I don’t have an addiction to hide behind. All I think of is home, how to get there and what I’d be doing right now. I miss everything so much and I can’t even decide if I should be here. That I am actually doing the right thing by being alone.

This is me, Chelsea B

P.S What makes you miss home? What labels do you carry? I’m really interested to see your perspectives, Leave a comment below xx