Saturday, February 25

hot and bothered

“Summer is my favourite season.” 
I used to say that, whenever such topics arose in conversation. We had a pool in the backyard for the scorching days, we were free to do as we liked for weeks on end, my birthday and Christmas fell during this period, water melon was regularly served, dresses and shorts could be worn....and I could live a goose-bump, chilblain free life. Nice.
Now I shudder when I hear people say how much they love the hot weather. I look at them blankly. Usually I am capable of making at least some small talk, and surely ‘the weather’ is the most elementary of topics - but their statement fills me with strong emotions. I told the lady in the shop yesterday that I didn’t like hot weather, and she gave me an odd look because she can’t think of anything better. Another lady asked me if I was going to beach. Not the beach, but feet in a bucket at home, if that counts. I went on Facebook, and saw that an acquaintance had written, “37 degrees today, bring it on summer.” And that status update had been liked by numerous personages. But all I can think is, what is to love about lying in a dark room beneath a fan?
I used to practice my 3 hour quota on a 38 degree day, taking dips in the pool between sessions...before CFS moved in. Today, I picked up my flute, determined to play. My flute felt a lot heaver than pure silver – I blew one wispy low G, felt my head sway and leaned back on the couch. I put it away in its case, marked with my sweaty finger prints. Still light headed, I get up thinking that I should just clear some things away in the kitchen. I wonder what my feet have been filled with. They are bulging, veins exploding – in shades of alien green, purple, and cherry red. I walk slowly towards the kitchen (a very short stroll in a one bedroom flat), as though I am 3x my weight and feel sorry for the contestants on Biggest Loser. Once there, I feel like I need to rest – my body is lethargic, swaying and weak. I want to lie on the cold tiles and cry. Sob, because I am feeling so ill, and there is no relief. There is no air conditioner. We can’t drive anywhere because the car is always 10 degrees hotter than the house. There is no ice cream – sugar gives me an enflamed throat. There is nothing to fill the hours with, because I’m too sick to stick at anything for more than a few minutes. I watch some Anne of Green Gables, but have to stop because my headache is blurring up my vision. I check the weather, for the 11th time today. The cool change has not been brought forward, and tomorrow is forecast to be 37 degrees. It will be precisely 6 hours until the sun sets and there comes some minor relief in temperature.  I could fit in the fridge if we took the shelves out. I could have a cold bath if I could be bothered running it. But I’ve lost my motivation, and I’m too tired to search for it.
 I wish I’d kept my eye on the weather forecast this week. I had no idea we were headed for a hot spell. I had planned to go to an MSO concert with Ben, practice my flute and clean the house. It’s so odd that the weather can cause me to go from reasonably well, to reasonably ill within a few hours – and completely curtail my plans. I think it shakes me up because it comes down to the core issue I struggle with:
I’m not in control.
I don’t get to decide the weather for Melbourne. I don’t even get to vote for when the hot days fall. It’s totally out of my hands.
 So it’s really the perfect opportunity for me to practice letting go of my plans and making the most of what has actually happened. Three years of would imagine that I would have learnt to let go of my agenda, and embrace the life I do have. But I seem to need a regular crash course. I forget so quickly. So here we go for the hundredth time: today has not gone to plan, but it’s a day so I’m going to value it.  

 Picture curtesy of

Saturday, February 11

ten tips for dumping stress

We like ‘before and afters’. We like it when the after is better than the before. Like when that pimply, unruly maned girl is transformed into a sleek haired, white teethed, glossy lipped wonder. “That’s better”, we sigh as we gladly rest our eyes on the appealing yet unnatural sigh before us. Uniqueness has been whisked away, and exchanged for a tantalising package of ‘perfect’.  Ahhh. 

Here are ten commandments I held to, before.
  • 1. Thou shalt be perfect or at least try to be.
  • 2. Thou shalt try to be all things to all people.
  • 3. Thou shalt not leave things undone that ought to be done.
  • 4. Thou shalt do as much as possible.
  • 5. Thou shalt always say "YES".
  • 6. Thou shalt not schedule time for thyself as this is lazy.
  • 7. Thou shalt always strive to work harder at school and flute.
  • 8. Thou shalt be vivacious, tidy, elegant and attractive at all times.
  • 9. Thou shalt feel guilty if standards are lowered 
  • 10. Thou shalt not be weak in anyway 

I realise now that I tried to follow these commandments to the letter for a few too many years. I am quite attracted to them. They seem to promise wonderful things. I see elegant people, I see helpful people, I see hard workers and want to be all those things, all the time, no exceptions. Perfectionism. Workaholism. I slip into these commands with ease, and ignore their folly and impracticality. But I have had to snip them up and chuck them in the bin because they are no match for me physically or emotionally. It’s not a healthy relationship, and I’ve cut ties...but the attraction remains, and I have to fight it every single day. 

I found the following on a chronic fatigue syndrome site and it was love at first sight. I suggest printing off the following rules and blu-tacking them up in the toilet so that you read them a few times each day:
Ten Commandments For Reducing Stress
  • 1. Thou shalt not be perfect or try to be.
  • 2. Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people.
  • 3. Thou shalt leave things undone that ought to be done.
  • 4. Thou shalt not spread thyself too thin.
  • 5. Thou shalt learn to say "NO".
  • 6. Thou shalt schedule time for thyself, and for thy supporting network.
  • 7. Thou shalt switch off and do nothing regularly.
  • 8. Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant and unattractive at times.
  • 9. Thou shalt not even feel guilty.
10. Thou shalt not be thine own worst enemy, but thine own best friend.


This doesn’t rule out working hard, being dependable, striving towards just enforces a rational, realistic and healthy approach to life.
I have not got these commandments sussed. Yet. I still think that having a piece of chocolate by myself is un- self-controlled, I still say ‘yes’ to all kinds of things which stress me out, I still agonise over leaving the house with bad hair or outfit, I still apologise for being blah to people because I’m tired, and I still feel guilty for relaxing some days....But I struggle and fight, and consciously decide to do what I know to be right. And I imagine that if you ask me in a decade how I am going with these new life rules, I will still be struggling against my natural desires – but hopefully, I will be much more relaxed and dare I say it... healthy.
I think this ‘after’ is better, by far.