I Wanted Sunshine, I Got Rain

Oh, my goodness, I have been so sad today. Some days the whole world comes crashing down, and today was one of those days. Posy has been telling me recently that she misses our old house, and I woke up this morning unbearably sad that on a whim last year I had moved my children out of the house they grew up in. The Girl is home for the holidays and instead of being able to cuddle up in her old room with the cat she has to take it in turns bunking in with her sisters.

And suddenly, for the first time, I missed the ease of our old house. It was completely renovated and everything worked. It had a lovely garden and heating that didn't rely on me splitting wood on a daily basis. It had lots of couches and space for all the children's friends and a courtyard and huge dining table for neighbourhood lunches and dinners. There was even a study for me to write in instead of my current options - the dining room table or sitting up in bed. Also, I had just had the kids' old cubby turned into a chicken house before I left. If I had stayed I would have had chickens for a whole year by now!

I love this house, but it throws up so many challenges - heating with wood, the garden/jungle, it still has no curtains, no door knobs on my bedroom or the bathroom and I am in negotiations over building a verandah and some more retaining walls, which might take actually forever, and somewhere in the jungle is space for chickens, but where? But most of all I grieve for Posy who is grieving for her past - not only her old house, but her old life and an intact family. No matter what solutions I can come up with (and I am all about solutions), nothing is going to fix that grief. That is something we have to sit with and be sad about together.

I am trying to make some career decisions which will possibly be disastrous and end in tears. Risk versus safety. I know I am going to take the risk, but I am all about safety and am frankly terrified.

I went to the farmers market today and so much beautiful fresh food there was wrapped in plastic. I was just despairing and miserable about the planet, about the mess we are leaving for our brave and vulnerable children, and also irritable at myself for endlessly taking on challenges that are difficult and annoying. Today I wanted to just walk into a supermarket and buy all the things, plastic wrapped, produced by mega-corporations and breaking the planet, whatever. I just wanted life to be easy.

I bought two litres of wonderful organic, biodynamic milk in glass bottles from the market, and it is so sweet and yummy that by five o'clock in the afternoon we only have half a litre left. I am panicking because it was so expensive and we won't have any left by tomorrow.. and I'm panicking because I don't see how we can eat ethical and afford to eat..

What else? I made yoghurt and for the first time ever it didn't set. At all. I did nothing different. Nothing! The universe conspires against me.

This afternoon I went to bed and cried. The dog came and used me as a pillow. I stared into a certain future of having no-one in my life except the dog because I am grumpy and irritable and other people are just impenetrable mysteries, or maybe I am just incompetent at people. I second-guess every parenting decision I ever make and wish I could press the rewind button, oh, at least twice a day..

So much woe.. and what is the point here? Well, you know, I am usually such an optimistic person. I bob along on the river of life like a cork. It is so hard for me to be down for long. It is 10:02pm, and already my day is on the up. The Girl made dinner, and dessert. She gave me hugs. We all played a silly board game after dinner and the girls are playing their loud and cheerful music all through our tiny house. I swept the floor and did the dishes, and although there is no milk I am not worried. I'll get a carton when I am out tomorrow. It doesn't matter. So much doesn't matter. The children will always love me, no matter where they are. I will always love them. We will always have something to eat. The dog will always use me as a pillow, and why not?

Today I had a bit of a wobble. I have been sick for three weeks, and here at the tail end I'm just having a down day. It's not surprising. Tomorrow I will be back to my smiley self. What I wanted to say is.. I am so lucky. I have the occasional sad day where everything falls apart. But mostly my days are full of small joys and glorious possibilities. My brain is pretty sunshiney.

There are people in my life who are not so lucky. They fight through dark panic and grey fog and doubt and sadness most days. They battle anxiety and depression and their bodies and minds fail them on a daily basis. I was pretty miserable today. I can't imagine feeling like that every day. I can't imagine keeping on going without the encouragement of sunshine and cheer. And yet, you do, my darlings.

So here's to you my lovely, loving, beautiful, brilliant, brave fellow souls and sojourners, those of you I know and love, and those of you I know are out there struggling through your own dark day today. I appreciate what you bring to the table of life. Thank you for everything you show the rest of us about courage and resilience. I wish I could share some sunshine with you.


GretchenJoanna said…
This sentence: "That is something we have to sit with and be sad about together" struck me as a very positive thing.... I read somewhere that when you are depressed, it shows you are alive. You have written such an encouraging post about your Down Day, and isn't that the most marvelous thing!
You've made lots of big changes in your life and are trying to do hard things. The weight of the culture is against you. But you're doing it! And if it causes your children some hardship ... that's okay. They're going to be fine, and so are you.

Hope today is better!

Treaders said…
I have always been a positive person too thank God, so the occasional down days, while yucky, are pretty manageable. But like you say, at least we know we will come out the other side don't we. I feel so much for those that suffer with depression on a long term basis. It is just unfathomable. Glad you feel better. Anna
fran7narf said…
Your post should be a poster for how to be optimistic when life hands you lemons Jo. Everyone has moments where they grieve for the past. A house is only a home when you make it that way. I think Posy is missing her past life more than she is missing the old house to be honest. When you weigh into life where you decide purposefully to step off that unthinking treadmill of consumerism and start to make up your own mind about how to live more sustainably and bypass the easy answers you have to develop an entire lifetime of new habits and it's human nature to want to take the easy road. Your post is so lovely I am going to share it on Facebook. I hope you don't mind. People lose their way and feel like their voice has been lost and it's so easy to lose your voice in the mass of social media white noise that seems to be swallowing us all up. Your post is like a lantern in the dark. Thank you for your honesty, your resilience and your brilliant way of sharing who you are and what you believe and stand up for in this little space. Wafting warm hugs in your direction. I would give you some eggs but my chooks have taken over the farm (metaphorically and physically). If you ever want some chooks, PLEASE tell me. I am currently in the process of catching them all and giving them away.
simplelife said…
Thank you. A big hug of loving kindness for you and your girls.
Jo said…
Hello lovelies, it's morning and the sun is back.. well, metaphorically, as actually we are shrouded in fog this morning. Thank you for all your kindness:) and thanks to all of you who get up to fog and rain most mornings, but still get up. You are amazing.

Gretchen Joanna, I have found it very hard to sit and be sad with my own sadness, or other people's. It seems so much more useful to jump up and fix it. But I am learning that mostly sad doesn't want to be fixed. Mostly it just wants its hand held.

Frances, setting your face against entrenched culture is such a bugger. People must think I am insane on a daily basis, I am sure. Thankfully, mostly I don't really care:)

Anna, oh yes. And ironically, when I am in need of kindness and empathy, it is often the dear ones who spend so much time in the dark who are there for me..

Fran, lovey, I don't think I experience much in the way of lemons, but I am glad the post resonated with you, and I am always pleased to receive hugs sent in my general direction! I would love some chickens, as you know, BUT I would have to house them in a washing basket or something, and they probably wouldn't like that, so hoping you can find them some good homes..

Kate, thank you:) and the same to you xx
Tracy said…
I suppose nothing much grows without both sunshine and rain. One makes us happy and the other gives us what we need. I love that you have a sensible approach to what feels hard today. That's called resilience! Seems to be something that is harder and harder to find, yet so very necessary when life's storms threaten to sink our ship.

Good to know your ship is still bobbing, a little higher today than yesterday.
Anonymous said…
Boy, I want some of whatever you've been smoking. Flipping like a pancake should at least keep things interesting.
Jo said…
Tracy, you are so right. Sunshine and rain.

Anon, yep, flipping keeps you flexible..
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

After autumn comes winter, but after winter comes spring. And this is how it should be. Enigmatic sayings aside, the only thing I can add about the house is that you probably moved for a good reason and it is far better to make those decisions whilst you are young enough and resilient enough to cope with the change before it became a financial problem. I see people acting differently and it builds huge stresses in themselves and their relationships and that is no good. I have no idea why they hang on so tight?

I've been mucking around with the yoghurt too for quite a while now and I sort of lucked onto a heating technique: Place a steel cooling tray onto the top of the wood heater. Place the yoghurt containers inside a pyrex dish with a lid. Leave for between three and twelve hours to set on a warm to hot wood heater. Even after the wood heater has gone out, the heat from the thermal mass keeps the yoghurt at warmer temperatures than would otherwise be the case. You may have to experiment with the exact spot to place the cooling tray as the top of the wood heater can be very different temperatures. I suspect the sudden cooler temperatures in your part of the world are the reason for the yoghurt not setting. Dunno really though and am just guessing.

As to the dad situation, well, I didn't have a dad floating around in my life, and to be honest from what I can see of other families, they can be a bit of a waste of space. Some dads are there, but they're not there if you take my meaning.



Jo said…
Chris, yes, I am glad that I moved, and my cottage is great, and will be better when I have done a few things.. I suspect my wobble may be related to feeling overwhelmed at everything I want to achieve. I forget I don't have to do everything on my own. I have friends! I need to do a little consulting..

As to the yoghurt, I like your cunning plans.. I think what I did to my yoghurt was to put the starter in a little too early while the milk was still too hot, and I killed it! I was impatient as it was late, and I wanted to go to bed..
Anonymous said…
The last house was beautiful. But as Chris said, you moved for a reason. Your nest is emptying. Your children can't expect you to be on hold for the times they flit in. Hard as it is, they have to start creating their own nests.

All change means saying goodbye (or mourning that left behind) as well as welcoming the new.

Intriguing me is the change of career.

As to yoghurt. For once mine didn't set well. I will try warming my thermos.
Jo said…
Lucinda, maybe there is a cosmic disturbance in the yoghurt space time continuum?

Mmm, yes, when I am calm and happy I am completely with you re children who have left the nest. But when I am in a bit of a dark spiral, everything is my fault:)

re change of career - the good thing about not really having one is that trying something else is not such a stretch:) it's all in my head at the moment..
Hazel said…
But when I am in a bit of a dark spiral, everything is my fault:)

I know that feeling. My life is rather up and down at the moment and I'm so there.
I hope you're feeling brighter x
Mimi said…
Dear lovely Jo. I think sometimes we simply cannot be all things to all people. Or indeed all things to things. Sometimes we have to just admit that saving ourselves, our family, the animals, and the planet is just too much for one human soul. By the supermarket milk, cook on a camping stove, and stop trying to be Heidi, Pollyanna, and Bear Grylls all wrapped up together. You are only one human being. Yes, what you do matters, of course it does. But you know what matters most? Your health and wellbeing, and your ongoing ability to do what's right for those darling children. I'm not saying don't buy plastic-free, I'm not saying don't be an ethical shopper. I'm just saying it's okay to make life easy. Just sometimes. Sending love. Mimi xxx
Jo said…
Hazel, hugs to you, hope you are spiralling on the up xx

Mimi, the thing is, I actually want to be Heidi and Bear Grylls. Not so much Pollyanna. That is actually what makes me happy. Meaning and purpose. Sometimes, what we love seems a bit hard. But in my case, it's mostly in my head. It's not actually that hard to chop wood or drink less of the expensive ethical milk. First world problems. Cuddling with the children and the dog fixes most of my problems. The rest of the world should be so lucky..
Mimi said…
Indeed my lovely. Indeed. Cuddles cure all ills. Much love. Mimi xxx

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