Tuesday, February 18, 2014

{goodbye 2013, and good riddance}

BigCat and I - 11/2/14

I know it's almost March, but wrapping up the year past has always been one of my blogging rituals. And in many ways I feel like I'm just putting 2013 to bed and stepping into 2014. But first to 2013...

2013 was a fucker of a year, there's just no other way of saying it. A friend said to me a little while back, think of all the great stuff that happened. It's true, there was some great stuff, or certainly a lot of new stuff - a new job, a new house, a new car, new lungs for CurlyPops - but the circumstances in which much of it arrived felt overwhelming, unplanned and out of control. And there was enormous loss, stress, anxiety, overwhelm, burnout, fear and at the end of the year the greatest blow of all.

I'm not sure how to put it all into any kind of succinct order or flow, so perhaps I'll just map it out month by month.

  • Returned to work full-time after relinquishing my dream of being a full-time artist. It took months, maybe all year, to process that decision, to grieve for what might have been, to understand the why of it all and to make peace. In the end I'm so happy that I let go of making art into a business. It just wasn't my path.
  • Started my new job.

Coffee & more coffee.

  • Cam got her new lungs. This was, has been, still is one of the most amazing things that I have ever been a part of. Watching Cam take that journey, being alongside it, has been an honour and a privilege. I'm so incredibly proud of what she's achieved in the 12 months since her transplant, the strength and courage that she has shown, the way that she has grabbed her new life with everything she's got.
  • At the same time it was incredibly hard and scary to watch her go through the early parts of the recovery, and to watch her deal with the emotional and physical challenges that were part and parcel of having a major life changing and saving surgery. I was only 3 weeks into my new job when she got the call, trying to find my way in a new and chaotic environment, trying to establish myself. All I really wanted was to be there for her, but my job demanded everything of me, absolutely everything. I gave what I could, but it wasn't as much as I wanted to and I regret that I wasn't able to be the friend that I wanted to be. 

Brunswick St, North Fitzroy
  • By the beginning of March I was working 50-60 hour weeks every week just trying to stay on top of the demands of my new job. I was doing the work of 2+ people and trying my absolute hardest to keep on top of it all. It was exhausting and unsustainable, but I'd made a commitment, and the messages I was getting was that it was a reasonable expectation and what was required if I was to prove my worth.
  • BigCat had another health scare. It turned out to be a continued problem with his thyroid. Reality is his health is declining and age is taking its toll. As I write this today his kidneys are starting to wear and he's gone completely blind. He's happy and we're fully committed to ensuring that his quality of life is never compromised, no matter how much we never want to say goodbye to him. But his time with us is drawing to a close. He's in the end stages of his life, whenever that final moment may come.
  • BigCat also peed on my computer and fried the mother board.
  • Just as we started thinking that things were settling down a call from the real estate agent to see if we would like to renew our lease for another 2 years turned into the owner deciding that she wanted to sell up and into us looking for a new place to live. It felt like horrible timing and even though we ultimately embraced it as an opportunity, and found a lovely new place to live, it was emotionally, financially and physically taxing.
 This boy. And his bear.

  • I celebrated my birthday. Ms L organised a surprise party for me and it was absolutely lovely.
  • Towards the end of May, again just when it seemed like things were finally, finally settling down (for realz this time), Ms L was hit by a car riding her bike home from work. She spent the rest of the year recovering. While her injuries were reasonably minor (thank God), she had extensive and ongoing pain that lasted for 6 months, a massive exacerbation of her chronic fatigue, shock and post traumatic stress, loads of time off work, a shitload of medical stuff to deal with, loads of isolation and a massive knock to her overall sense of safety in the world.
  • While Ms L was going through all that I was drowning at work. Between us we were like the walking dead. We had nothing in the tank and nothing to offer each other. The next 6 months would become the darkest times in our 13 years together.

@loudoch made me a surprise birthday picnic. What a woman.
  • Our car died. Forever! We'd been talking about replacing it early in 2014 when finances permitted. But the universe decided June. So we got a lovely brand spanking, safe, comfortable new Toyota.
  • I said goodbye to blogging. That post cracks me up when I read it now "There is so much goodness happening in my life at the moment and things are falling into place in the best possible way.  I am exactly where I want and need to be". I don't know what drugs I was on when I wrote that. At the time I thought that I was where I needed to be. There was good stuff amidst the shit and it seemed like things were finally starting to settle down. Being the philosophical and optimistic soul that I am I was trusting that it was all falling into place.
  • Work was manic. It was one of my two busiest times of the year and I worked myself into exhaustion. I believed so firmly in the cause I was working for that I justified it to myself. And if it had been the exception rather than the rule it probably would have been OK to work like that sometimes. But it wasn't the exception and no matter what I gave it was never enough.
  • I went on a wonderful, soul-enriching painting retreat and weekend away with two of my favourite peeps. There was magic in that weekend. Beautiful lessons about what it means to truly connect with friends, to lean on them, to let them see you in your moments of vulnerability.
  • I had a weekend in Radelaide and the Clare Valley with another of my favourite people. Again, true friendship, heartful conversation, great food and wine. 

Hmm, it seems we may have bought one of these this afternoon

  • I crashed and burned. I spent most of July off work sick. It started with a pretty big health scare, a whole lot of tests, an almost middle of the night trip to emergency, a week in bed and was followed by a bout of flu-like something that saw me spend almost another 2 weeks in bed. 
  • The pressure at work didn't ease and in the midst of being the sickest I've been in years I had to keep doing the work of 2+ people.  

Morning rays to greet me.
  • My gorgeous foster sister lost her mother after a long battle with illness. I didn't even go to the funeral because it would have been too hard to get the time away from work. Another regret, another decision based on the unreasonable expectations being placed on me, another moment of choosing work over everything else.

Spring Will Come Again
  • I had an exhibition. I don't know how on earth I managed to pull that off, but I did, and I am extremely proud of 'Spring Will Come Again'.
  • Ms L and I had a glorious holiday in The Grampians. It was 8 days of pure indulgence, including a much anticipated visit to The Royal Mail Hotel for an incredible dining experience.
  • I passed my probationary review at work. After slogging it out for 8 months I finally got to have some sense of having made it. Even then though the message I got was you have to give more, more, more. You have to prove yourself. You have to show us that you are worthy. Oh, if I could go back in time to that moment. What I would do differently!
  • We celebrated Ms L's birthday with a beautiful picnic by the creek, surrounded by family and friends. I spoiled her rotten with special gifts, her favourite cupcakes and everything else I could think of.
  • We learned that circumstances had changed for the owner of our house and what had been bought as a long-term investment property was now to become her family home. The real estate agent notified us that we would have to be out in February, after only 10 months in the house. Thanks to being well-educated and resourceful people we were able to ascertain our rights and to let the real estate agent know that we would move out at the end of our lease in April, not in February. 

Me & my gal @loudoch

  • I finally went to the physio to see about that niggling pain in my foot that had been hanging around since July. Spent the rest of the month on crutches and a couple of months rehabing it. But I'm all healed now. I couldn't help but see the connection between having a problem in the sole of my foot and feeling like my soul was so completely out of balance.
  • My Uncle died, sitting in the sun in his backyard one beautiful November afternoon.
  • After months and months, and months, of relentless stress Ms L and I nearly called it quits. Reducing this to a sentence or two seems ludicrous, but there are no words for what we went through, and it's too private for the blog anyway. And we made it through the woods, happier and stronger than ever, or at least we are well on the way.

 Resting & staying off my foot continues to take centre stage. Blah!
  • I ran the most successful fundraising campaign that my workplace had ever had. Like 6 times more successful than anything previous.
  • 2 days before Christmas, without any notice or warning, I lost my job. I was thanked for my service and asked to leave that day. There is not a lot I can or want to say about this. There was no justifiable reason for it. I didn't do anything wrong. In fact I gave my heart and soul, at the expense of everything else in my life, to the job and to the people we served. At the end of the day it wasn't enough. At the end of the day, no matter what I did, gave or invested, it was never enough and for some reason it was never going to be. So, I left that day. I wasn't able to tidy up anything, notify anyone, say goodbye to most of my colleagues or have any sense of closure. I was there and then I wasn't. And after 2 months of reflecting, processing and debriefing I am so fucking glad.
  • We had a wonderful Christmas with my family.
  • For the first time in 13 years we had Christmas with Ms L's family. There's been long-standing issues in her family about our relationship and for the first time ever these were fully put aside and we all sat down to Christmas lunch together. It was joyous and fun, and the best Christmas gift ever.
  • We saw the new year out with this lovely lady and her partner. I was so completely exhausted that I would have been better off going to bed at 8.30pm. But I had to see 2013 out. I couldn't have it any other way.
Happy New Year peeps. And good fucking riddance to 2013. On half an hour to go!

I've spent the last 8 weeks since leaving work taking stock of absolutely everything. I have examined my life with a magnifying glass. I have processed, reflected, written copiously in my journal, considered, and thankfully made sense of things, well many things, and as much sense as I can. Somehow losing my job became an incredible catalyst for growth and personal development, kindness and self-love. An opportunity for renewal. I have emerged from this time feeling stronger, happier and more balanced than I have in the last 18 months.

Such an insightful & promising 

My plan was to start blogging on 1st January and to kick the year off with this post.  I see now that it has taken this two months to be able to put it all into words.

As is the way of things, today is the perfect day to write this post. I start a new job tomorrow. We applied for a new house yesterday and were approved {we move in 2 weeks}. It feels like a lot happening all at once {as always} but somehow I just know that it's going to be a little less crazy, a little less topsy-turvy. It's going to be a great year.

So for the last time 2013, goodbye and good fucking riddance!


  1. Oh CATHY! Good fucking riddance is right. My heart goes out to you for what you have been through over the past year. Here's to 2014!

  2. Cathy good riddance to a crap year by the sounds of it, it sounds like you had a terrible year but also that you got through it and that shows what strength you have.

  3. Oh my! Full on just doesn't even begin to describe that year. No wonder it took you two months to write that post. Good luck for the job tomorrow, best wishes for your new home too.

  4. UN-BELIEVE-ABLE!! I have to tell you as I read through this post and your account for your work situation, I kept shaking my head and to read that you GOT LAID OFF, after all your hard work AND RAISING MORE MONEY FOR THEM THAN THEY HAVE EVER SEEN made my jaw drop!! I am so sorry that you sacrificed SO MUCH in the face of that job (being there for friends, Ms. L, your art) and that is how you got 'rewarded' for all your efforts and sacrifice, not to mention nearly busting up with Ms. L! IMHO, there is NO JOB worth so much illness inducing stress and I think you know what I'm talking about, from my own experience =\
    I am glad to see you back at your blog and I wish you the best for your new upcoming job and move. It sounds like you have definitely done a review of it all and come out on the other side wiser and more grounded, so I know these upcoming changes will be good ones for you and Ms. L - I look forward to reading all about the new job and new home, when you share it here, my friend!

  5. PS maybe we really should organise that bonfire?

  6. Wow, how seriously bloody awful!
    And I had no idea. From where I was sitting, everything looked hunky dory via instagram: a great new job, a lovely home, a spiffy new car, a fun run, an art exhibition, a gorgeous holiday..
    It just goes to show: we never really know what's happening in other people's lives, do we? Until they do us the ultimate favour of sharing what's really happening. Which is exactly why I love reading your blog and am so glad you're back, sharing your insight with the world.
    I'm so sorry you went through all that. But thank you for your courage in keeping it real here. x

  7. holy moly lady!!!
    what a crazy rollercoaster of a year! i am so glad you're out the other side, whole and a heap wiser too i bet!
    gosh i had some tears happening too! and i completely agree with kat, based on online shit, i had no idea what was going on!
    i hope the year ahead is truly a better, happier, more wholesome year for you (and lou!)
    hope the new job is going better and hopefully see you soon too!

  8. oh wow!! what a crappy year and yes good riddance....just goes to show it does all work out in the end :) I haven't even updated my blog since Christmas lol...heres to a happy healthy and creative 2014 :)