Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Naughty me!

Dear diary,

So as ever, I've been naughty, started this blog and not posted on it since for close to a year. In that time my diagnosis of severe depression has progressed to a diagnosis of Bipolar II, so I've been started on an extra bit of medication called Seroquel.  Now as this blog was meant to be a recording of my battle with depression as well as my creative journey, I think it important to be open and honest about medication I'm taking and any effects it may have. Partly because there will never be another way to dispel the stigma around mental illnesses without honesty and because I think it useful for those who are suffering as well to be able to find information that hasn't been placed in the flyers with the medication. For those who are here specifically for the creative content, feel free to skip this paragraph :) Since starting Seroquel it's helped my sleep, not necessarily in amount but it's changed the quality. I wake up feeling like I've rested however I've also developed night sweats and have odd dreams. Since taking it I've also found to mentally wake up I usually require coffee. When I'm awake I'm much more productive and active which I found was not the case with any of the other medication I've been on for depression (Prozac, Citalopram, Lexapro I'm definite about having been on...) except for Effexor, however I found on Effexor I had quite severe side effects including but not limited to my legs giving out under me, the constant sensation that I was going to faint, head spins if I turned or moved too quickly, and if I was even a little late taking my medication it would send me into a state of absolute exhaustion and difficulty breathing.

Since my last post, I've moved into the home that my partner and I bought with my brothers and mother back on 13th April 2013 (the reason I remember the date is because we happened to buy the house on my mother's 55th birthday). My parents have been emptying out their home in preparation to move to an apartment, so our entire house is filled to the brim with boxes of their things.

Apart from the obvious problems associated with being enclosed by boxes is that I can't get to my crafting stash stuck all the way at the back of the garage (which is to be turned into a shared work space with my mum's sewing machines and all my beading and crafting supplies). So things on the creative front have been very stifled.

My time has been very much consumed with trying to help my parents move house and creating a routine in my new home, a large part of which has centred around my mother's failing health. She was recently in the hospital in the intensive care unit for a couple of weeks due to a coma (for want of another word) caused by hepatic encephalopathy. She has woken up and is home now, but she hasn't really regained her full faculties, I'm not sure she ever will. During the time when she was in hospital and I was unsure whether she would come out of her coma, I found myself wishing that I had taken the time to learn more from her. To learn to cook Vietnamese dishes from her, to learn to sew from her and to learn more of her story. She doesn't have photos or records I could reflect on because these were taken from her the first time she was caught trying to flee Vietnam during it's civil war. Her captors took anything of value and burned everything else, including her photos and threw her in prison. It's one thing to read about history, but it brings it so much closer to home hearing someone who lived through it telling you about their experiences. I've promised myself that I will spend more quality time with her.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to post up pictures once I've set up the work space and hopefully started working on some projects.

Till next time...

My irony cake

Dear diary,

I hate saying it but there's nothing on the beading front the last number of weeks. My life has been dominated by... Well, life :S

I think the best example was May, it was an absolutely terrible month. On Friday May 31st, I decided to buy a cake to take in to work to celebrate having reached the end of what had been a very, very trying month. People at work seeing the cake asked me "Is it your birthday?" at which point I told them "No, I'm just celebrating because things can only go up from here". The next day my car (a 4 year old, blue Honda Jazz named Papa Smurf because it's small and blue and looks like it's wearing a hat when it has my red kayak strapped onto the roof racks) was T-boned and almost all but written off. I think I must have tempted whatever higher power exists to have a laugh at my expense. I have decided to rename Tiramisu to Irony Cake.

My days at the moment are being spent sorting and packing my possessions in preparation to move homes, though this is all happening a bit sooner than expected. I suppose I should explain from the start.

I've been living with my in-laws for a couple of years now and though I love them dearly, they have a different culture and way of being that makes me feel stifled.

Anyway, I'd found out my brothers had saved a deposit and were starting to look at units. After a bit of discussion, we decided that it would be better for all if we could buy a house together. The property value would raise much higher than an apartment, there'd be someone to mind the house when my brothers went interstate for work, someone to mind the dogs for us when we went away and we'd be able to pay off the loan much faster with 4 incomes. The plan is that once we pay off the house, we'll knock down and build a duplex and go from there. So in February, the search for a home began.

The emotions involved during the whole process were entirely unexpected, I must say. At first I was excited at the prospect of home ownership, being able for the first time in my life to be able to do whatever I liked in a home I could call (partially) my own. Every time it seemed we'd found what we thought was 'the one' and it didn't go through for whatever reason, it was deflating, the longer the search went on, the more desperate and exhausted I got.

But as my friend said at the time 'When it's meant to be, when it's the one, everything will just simply fall in to place'...

We missed out on the first house we placed a bid on in Yagoona that we had been told was expected to sell for $460,000 but ended up going for $525,000 on auction day. Now you know how real estate websites make rooms look larger in photos through angles and digital trickery? A couple months after that first bid, after rigorous stalking of all real estate websites, I came across a place at midnight when it was first posted up on the site. The pictures made it look like normal dimensions, so I thought if that's the way it looks in the pictures, it must be absolutely tiny in real life and I thought I wouldn't even bother to look at it. The next day, my parents and I went to look at an open house that we weren't all that thrilled about, and found ourselves with a bit of extra time waiting for the next open house we were going to go to. Wanting to fill in our time, I remembered this house nearby that I hadn't had any particular intentions of looking at and that the open house was going to happen soon, I suggested we go look at it anyway. I hadn't guessed because the houses are on the borderline of 2 suburbs, but as it turned out, this house was just down the street from that first house we had bid on! Well, when we went to have a look at this place, I found myself pleasantly surprised to find that the pictures had just been an honest representation and that it was decently proportioned and in much better condition than the first house we had bid on.

The first house had been on the main street whereas this house being set back barely got any of the noise from traffic. This house had a short cut nearby which made it a 10 minute walk to the train station and shops, less for schools but because it was in a cul de sac, it didn't get any of the traffic from the schools. On the next block, a new land release had happened, parcels of land a little more than half the size of this one were selling for $525, 000. The asking price for this place... was $521,000! We happened to be the first to arrive at this open house though the cue quickly built up, and so we were the first to be allowed to view the place and were subsequently the first to say we'd buy the place at asking price! While the others were going through and inspecting the place, the home ice cream truck drove down the street while we were waiting and I bought a box and shared it with the tenant of this home, her children and the real estate agent during which we discussed the people that lived on the street and the condition of the house, this was when I knew, this was the house meant for us. Unfortunately others also immediately offered to buy it at asking price and we ended up in a silent bidding war which we won, after the pest and building inspections we managed to settle at a price of $535,000.

A month later, the house a couple of houses down from our place went on the market, it was in shabbier condition than ours with the same land dimensions, it sold for $610,000! To this day, I am amazed at our luck but as my friend said at the time 'When it's meant to be, when it's the one, everything will just simply fall in to place'...

I'm starting to think that perhaps I should stop stressing and live my life with this in mind, when it's meant to be, everything will just simply fall in to place...

Till next time...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


Dear Diary,

So today has me thinking about opportunities. Some people are quite fortunate. Their opportunities come in the right form, at the right time. I am not one of those people. Usually I have to scramble to make the most of the opportunities presented to me and they usually involve a lot of tears. It was that way with my career, my relationships and my second dog. My dad was furious that I got him, but I couldn’t have asked for a more loving, loyal companion and incidentally he’s the best cuddler I’ve ever known. Don’t go telling my partner that though.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’d decided to create a beading business. I’m in the planning stages at this point in time and I’m finding that the more I sit and think about it, the more I realise needs doing before I can even think of teaching and selling. It’s overwhelming, it really is. There are so many things that need doing, all of them are important and all of them are being held up for one reason or another. It makes me feel like I took for granted the amount of effort that my favourite beading businesses put in to make my time as comfortable and enjoyable as possible…

Anyway, among the tasks I have to get done is organization and stocktake. A problem every beader faces is creating a storage system that is both efficient and doesn’t cost more money than the beads themselves. Ideally, any storage should be clear (seeing your beads usually helps you picture how you want to put them together), plastic (so that you don’t risk damaging the beads when they go in and out of the jar) and screw top (so that you don’t spray beads everywhere when you finally manage to uncork/uncap the bottle).

The store where I bought my last stash of jars recently informed me that the manufacturing company she purchases from no longer make my jars and that any subsequent orders would be more expensive, on top of this the owner hasn’t been very reliable about contacting me with orders I’ve placed with her in the past. I wasn’t feeling optimistic to say the least.

Home I went to rethink my storage strategy. Now, I don’t know about you but sometimes to get a solution to a problem, I find it helps me to blank out and troll websites. Pinterest (great for creative ideas) and Youtube (to find and learn techniques) usually lead me to eBay or Gumtree in search of things to work with. So I was trolling Gumtree the other night for free things when I happened upon a person who was giving away 15,000 lolly jars. For FREE!?! Turns out they hadn’t stored them properly and the lollies were out of date.

Now I mentioned previously that the timing of my opportunities and the way my opportunities present themselves is never quite ideal. Well, currently I’m living with my in-laws who due to circumstances beyond their control are being forced to sell up their home. To do this, they need to do a lot of work on the house to make it presentable. High on their priority list is getting rid of all the junk (mostly mine) which also means no junk in. I was pretty sure that at this point in time in their eyes, 15,000 lolly jars would classify as junk… And though the lolly jars were free, getting them home would not be. Not to mention where I was going to get the help to load and unload said lolly jars.

My partner hasn’t been impressed with my Gumtree finds in the past, mostly because he says in my excitement I never think about how I’m actually going to get whatever I've found home. That’s probably a fair criticism, but when opportunity knocks, you answer, right? So, much bribery (I’ll let you use your imagination here), 1 rental truck and a 1 ½ hour drive later found me standing in front of a mini mountain of lolly jars. I took a moment to mourn the jelly beans that would never be eaten (what can I say? I’m sentimental) and then it hits me, the realisation that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be. Originally in the picture I could see a mini mountain of unboxed jars but I’d noticed that they were surrounded by pallets of boxed jars in the background. Of course my luck being what it is, we had had record breaking rain falls in the past week and all the boxes on the pallets peeled away at any attempt to lift them. One of the first boxes we placed in the truck, when we tried to lift it to take to the back of the truck split open like the zipper of a fat lady’s undersized jeans, spilling jars everywhere and punctuating the silence with the sound of breaking glass. Fail.

In the end we had to go to the supermarket to buy garbage bags, wade through the mountain of wet cardboard and carefully (so as to avoid cutting ourselves on broken glass and watching for spiders etc) hand pick jars out of the mess and load them into the bags. Incidentally, we did come across a leach of all things clinging onto the cardboard and sucking for dear life… All this while I was sick (stupid weather). It was slow going, but I think I ended up with about 3000 jars. I would have liked more but my partner needed to get back home to fulfil his refereeing commitments that day.

They will eventually need to be gutted (that is to say the lolly bags pulled out) and given a thorough scrubbing but I think the $3000 or so I saved was worth it.

Hopefully at some stage I’ll be able to post a pic of the jars in my ‘studio’.

Till next time…

Beading with the blues...

Dear Diary,

If you knew me at all, you’d find it strange that I’m using blogging to record my life’s journey. I was raised to be an intensely private person, so putting my thoughts out there where they can be read by strangers is to say the least, to place myself at the judgement of others is a little out of character. I tried keeping journals and scrapbooking but with limited success. I found that I failed to capture my voice in journaling, often I felt my thoughts were too trivial and insignificant to commit to paper and so my journal became more a recording of events rather than my interpretation of those events. As for scrapbooking, there’s just not enough time to beautify one thought before another thought comes to mind.
So why the desire to try committing my story to ‘paper’ again? Well, a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with depression. It was probably brewing long before but I was diagnosed following a crippling breakdown at which point I withdrew from society almost completely, quitting my job as a vampire (that is to say a scientist in a hospital blood bank) and quite literally locking myself away in my room to cry non stop. After some time spent trying to mend, I returned to the Bead Room where I’d originally learnt to make jewellery. Little did I realize it would be the place that I would learn to be human again. It became my sanctuary, a place that I could quietly sit with my beads and learn to create. It gave me a much needed sense of achievement each time a piece was finished, or I managed to work out how a piece was constructed. It may sound like nothing, but it was everything to me when I felt moronic and incapable of doing anything right. It allowed me to be surrounded by people from all walks of life who shared my passion and who loved to gab as they worked. Slowly, I found myself joining in the banter and found that these people who didn't know me and whose judgement I feared were nothing but accepting of me and only too happy to share of themselves and their experiences.
Sadly the Bead Room has since become a predominantly online business (check out the range of findings and Czech glass beads on, you won’t find better elsewhere) and although Carina (the owner) does still teach, it’s only on specific days rather than dropping in unexpectedly. Since she closed her bricks and mortar shop, I have found myself wanting to recreate the atmosphere of welcoming, of creativity, of inspiration and learning, to share the joy and the knowledge that I have accumulated and so I made the decision to commit to making my own beading business.

This blog is meant to record and share my experiences; of depression and my journey to recovery, my attempts to create a business, of creative inspirations and creations and everything in between.

Till next time...