Ice cream & breakthroughs

There’s so much I want to write about and so little time to write! I’m so happy today. I got a big sleep in, a lovely morning with Rose having big conversations about our life and business plans and relationships… After weeks of rushing around with little down time and no space for reflecting, this was bliss. We’re off running errands for the studio again now, then going out for good ice creams as  a treat.

The treat is because I’ve made a major breakthrough in my admin phobias! I am seriously behind for my business, I find recording everything just unbelievably confusing and stressful. Even writing invoices can give me panic attacks. I’ve been working on the issue a lot, and this week I had a big conversation about it all with my shrink. I’ve nailed down some important ideas.

Firstly, I’m not bad at admin, which is what I’m telling myself and everyone else. For example, chasing people who owe you money is a horrible, stressful, and stupidly time consuming aspect of business, and many small business owners really struggle with it. I’m pretty good at that, I keep track of who hasn’t paid me and I stay in top of it with regular contact with them. That’s really quite big! I don’t like it, but I can do it and with a minimum of stress. I wrote and update my own website and manage social media just fine. So I’m selling myself short and adding a big mental block when I say I’m bad at admin.

I cannot use the admin income and expenses systems I’ve set up. I can’t think on them. I’m a visual thinker and I need to be able to see the paperwork. I wanted to save paper and keep everything online but I’m finding it impossible. Instead of feeling guilty and angry and trying to make myself do something in a way in finding impossible, I’ve completely restructured how I record things. I’m printing all receipts and keeping them in concertina files. I’ve split my income and expenses apart and now they’re on separate databases because this way there’s less visual clutter on each page and I find it easier to see what I’m doing and think clearly. Basically in adapting the system to the way I work instead of trying to force myself to function in a way I clearly don’t. It’s blindingly obvious when I put it like that.

It’s working! I’ve done months of record keeping in the past couple of days. I’m so relieved. I’m applying this principle in many other highly stressful aspects of the business and letting go of how I think I should do things and focusing instead on how I work and how to set up things that work for me without feeling guilty or angry with myself. And the stress is melting away and the excitement and sense of having a song in my heart bubbles up from beneath it.

Can’t write more today, we’ve reached the Copenhagen store 🙂 xx

Thinking of a future with a disability

Today, I stayed in bed from midnight until 4pm, resting, sleeping, and reading. Rose came home to me after her night shift and it was lovely to have her company, sleeping beside me. She turned up with a bag of groceries and chocolate milk, and hugs for her very tired and overwrought girlfriend. Then friends came round for dinner and brought a big bowl of home made pasta with them. Rose made a salad, and I washed all the dishes from the week and made homemade soft serve icecream. We played cards. By the end of the evening, I felt almost human. It’s so regenerating to be the recipient of such kindness. Another friend gave me a massage earlier in the week, and I was fortunate enough to be given a bunch of free tickets to go and see Cavalia, an amazing acrobatic show with horses, so I went with a bunch of friends and family. It’s delightful to be able to be generous with good fortune, and to have such caring friends who are likewise generous with their time and love.

I’m also reminded that pain management needs to be more of a priority for me with me work. The extra work I’ve taken on lately has been wonderful, but I’m not coping well with the pain it creates. High levels of constant pain wear me down emotionally, I become easily distressed, teary, anxious, and depressed. I need to be more assertive about predicting it and doing things to manage it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about having fibromyalgia and how it impacts my life. Weeks like this one, I realise that I am not like other face painters or small business people. I have to close bookings when I’ve reached a certain number of bookings in a week, not because I’ve run out of time, but because I’ve reached my limit of how many hours I can paint and still manage my pain and energy levels. This is hard to face. I’m a small business owner and artist – with a disability. I need to remember this and work around it, not throw myself against the glass wall of my own limitations and leave myself so ruined, and so vulnerable to other people’s misperceptions.

Likewise, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what kind of mother I would be. There’s many things from my childhood I don’t want to replicate for my kinds – chronic loneliness and alienation, unaddressed trauma, shame… but there are many things I loved and do want to bring to life for my kids. Amazing birthday parties, brilliant creative play, superb organisation skills, learning to care for our home and belongings so we didn’t live in the kind of broken down home that so many other low income children do… there’s a wonderful legacy of fairness and play and adventure I want my kids to experience.

And I have fibro. I can’t live up to it. I can’t be the kind of mum I want to be, put in those hours, with that dedication and passion and effort. I’m grieving this. I have to find a new idea of success, new dreams about what being a great mum might look like for me. I need to reach out to other members of the disability community who are parents and find a path I can be excited about. I need to write an exciting and hopeful future around my limitations.

This is a big shift from my previous ideas that I would keep looking after my health until it was better, get full time work, build some strong financial foundations, and then have kids. I might not ever be able to work full time. I need to work out what being a mum would look like when I’m living in public housing, on welfare, with chronic illnesses, and how to engage that dream in a way that makes the most of what I do have, of my skills and passions and wonderful friends, and limits the bite of poverty, sickness, homophobia, and all the other risk factors I can’t change.

So, tonight, I’ve been thoroughly loved up by some of my very important people. My body is still tired and sore, but my head is clear, so I’ve used the time this evening to tackle another box of paperwork:

I’ve recycled an entire box of stuff I don’t need anymore;

packed another box with things that just need to be filed, and created a small stash of things that need urgent attention. I’m very proud of myself. And now, for bed, to sleep, perchance to dream.

See more like this:

Painting People

I’ve been working hard lately on my face and body painting business. I have new updated cards in the mail, a freezer full of fresh mixed henna, and the new workshops I’ll be offering at a local community centre in development. It’s also school holidays so I’m pretty busy with gigs. This is not doing a lot for my sleeping, but I am getting things done and almost keeping up with the admin, if I don’t think too much about how many things are still on my list. None of that is terribly exciting to read about, so here, have some lovely photos from my recent gig at Monarto Zoo. 🙂









Yesterday I woke up to cancelled work gigs. I’d spent the early hours of that morning rejigging my art website – go and check it out, it’s very pretty – so losing work was particularly depressing. I dragged my bones of of bed feeling very discouraged and found a bunch of flowers and a sympathy card on my doorstep from friends. It turned my day around.

Rose was still awake after a night shift and feeling sleepless and rough, so I sat on an old couch in my front garden and read to her. This seems to work for both of us when we’re not able to sleep, particularly books that have a lyrical style of writing. I moved this old couch from my porch to a spot by my studio window. I’ve had some help with my garden lately and it looks a whole lot better than the over grown neglected mess it has been. My awful neighbour is very loud, she leaves her front door open and harasses me whenever I’m out the front. The studio window is a little further away and sheltered at least from sight. I can still hear her, she’s very loud, but if I play music as well its not so bad. I love being able to sit outdoors, it’s very grounding for me. I’ve been out there every day since I moved the couch. It’s good to sit there in the drizzle and my beautiful plants. Sarsaparilla loves it and comes and sits on my lap.

It turns out I picked up a whole lot more work today, teaching art classes, which I’m really excited about. I love workshops, they are interactive and supportive, encouraging people to learn and enjoy new skills. I’m very happy about it. I’ve been developing new glitter tattoo designs and experimenting with different colours patterns, which also brings me joy. Funny how such small things can make such a big difference to my outlook on life, feeling loved, feeling hope about my future.

In the evening I went and cuddled my goddaughter, who is going to turn 1 shortly. She is so beautiful, my hands itch to hold her when she’s in the room. I can’t wait to be a mother myself.

In the early hours I’ve been cleaning. I’ve had a hot bath, sat in my garden, read, keep company with my pets. I’m as ready as I can be for the funeral tomorrow. We’re ready.