Perth Catch Up!

The short version of Christmas is we arrived safely, and had a mostly happy Christmas.

The long version is it was a loooong, stressful journey of three completely separate international flights with a broken website (so no checking in online) and wrong details appearing on check in and at every leg. The trip was characterised by long layovers, grumpy staff, and a broken bag on arrival. We’re still debating whether it was “broken” accidentally or tampered with. I’m certain of the second option for a number of reasons but it arrived totally unzipped and wrapped tightly in rope! If it was damage, the numerous glass gifts inside would be broken for sure. Annoying at best but yet again …. another close call!

We arrived at night to thirty six degrees (Celsius!) and so while exhausted we didn’t get a lot of sleep.

For the first week I felt totally out of control, puffy from the heat, sore from the trip, bad sleep (from the heat) and no turning of my legs yet (waaay to hot to even think of bringing Daisy out), but we set Daisy up ready for when the evenings cooled.

That first fortnight, even once the heat backed off a bit, was just a fog of exhaustion but I tried very hard to remain enormously thankful for unexpected chill times with all the babies, including the youngest who is busting to come out I’m sure. It’s hard not to wish he’d come early and join us!

With too much time lost to sorting things out, I had no spoons, and major brain fog. So it was survival mode for much of the time and a plan B kind of a Christmas; I just wrapped what we had and forgot about what’s missing, slept on the couch, shopped for curtain rails instead of gifts, salads instead of roast veg, threw the roast on the bbq instead of in the oven, made jelly instead of plum pudding….

But the bottom line is: planB is waaay better than all the worse options, we were ALL here for the first time in years, the company was the best ever, and I have so so very much to be thankful for!

And now we’re settled somewhat and finding our rhythms, we rode 237 km this week!! I’m soooo proud of me! He’s lost weight, I’m gaining !!! And I’m not impressed about that at all! But apparently my muscles are getting stronger.

It’s a strange combination to be able to move so freely on Daisy, but I still can’t walk any more than usual… but maybe that will change…

Anyway, sorry for a long, late, rambled catch up, but I needed to do that before writing about anything else…

See you tomorrow with the more relevant stuff soon 😊👊🏻

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What Constitutes a Happy New Year?

My newsfeeds are filled with wishes for the new year, blog posts and articles on how to claim happiness, commiserations over what appears to have been a pretty horrible 2018 for many, and endless recipes on how to be “happy” in 2019.

Many are clichés, most are variations on the same theme, and no doubt, all come with good intentions. The world teaches us that it’s up to us to make our own happiness, that whatever we put out into the world will be returned at the very least, and that each of us has as much control over our lives as we want to.

At the same time my newsfeeds, through 2018, have also been littered with trauma, sorrow, sadness, frustration, pain, and loss, from people who are good, kind, giving, loving, hard-working and self-sacrificing.

What’s clear is that the world isn’t fair. We rarely get what we wish for and when we do it might not be the best thing for us.

For me, 2018 was hard! It wasn’t anything I expected. It was harder but better, exhausting beyond measure but so filled with blessings I find it selfish to complain about all the hard stuff. But I also felt like I I’d been hit by a truck, and woke up on the last day of 2018 feeling as though I have so little control over my life and that it’s a complete zoo.

So I threw off the covers, had a big moan to a dear friend, deleted it, then pulled on my big girl pants, wrote a few lists, took my daughter-in-law out for morning tea and a bit of a shop, shook the cobwebs out my head, chatted with God (prayed), made some major decisions, straightened out my priorities, rearranged my 2019 calendar completely, and by mid afternoon I was doing something I haven’t done in years; put my feet up with a paperback book, and actually laughed out loud – a lot!

It was marvellous! Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? It was New Year’s Eve, so I read some more, we saw all the family, we moved our bedding to the pull out couch (where the sun wouldn’t wake us up at 5am any more), watched the Sydney fire works at our 9pm, and climbed into bed feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

But the neighbours had other ideas. They threw open their doors and windows, cranked the sound up to full blast, screeched at each other over the music, and played “Simon Says” till five in the morning.

It wasn’t just loud, it was deafening, and the stop/start of the music constantly jolted our bodies the moment we thought we could cope. We even tried just enjoying the music, but none of it was consistent and I don’t think they played a whole song all night. I’d treated myself to a sleeping tablet so while I was never asleep neither was I ever quite awake either. It was mind numbingly dreadful!

And a huge reminder that we have such little control over our lives that I wonder why I bother sometimes.

It’s not to say we have no control. Buying Daisy and riding a hundred and sixty kilometres this week alone, and being careful what I eat means that since mid December I’ve lost the pounds that Bertha (the bitch of a damaged hip) put on over July, August and September. And my New Years resolution for 2019 is to lose the weight put on since Frank (my damaged foot), do all the personal work we’d committed to doing post “retirement”, as well as publish three books, ride the Danube and ride across Belgium, and more…

BUT…. and here’s the really important bit; the control isn’t all mine. We live in a broken, damaged, Godless world, and so much is beyond my control. So in 2019 I also plan to build in way more buffer zones, to bring back more of the self care, to join the library again and read more books! To fly overseas way less, …but stay longer, breathe slower, to stand back more, to let others make their own mistakes. To shed the weight but also the burdens that were never mine to carry.

To take time to cherish more, eat better, and prepare for our second half of adult life in the ways we said we would. I’m sure that none of these things will bring any happiness as such, and that no matter how planful and careful we are in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll have no more control of those things around us than we did in 2019. But maybe we’ll get to accomplish more of the truly important things we’ve set out to conquer? Maybe we’ll have a little more sleep through the process? And hopefully we’ll be setting ourselves up better for all the journeys ahead of us.

What would a “happy” 2019 look like for you?

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Looking Back on 2018!

I stopped sending Christmas cards about a decade ago, and the end of annual newsletters came not far behind. I’m not sure I was ever any good at either and I know few people who do them well.

Too much to brag about, too much to complain about; the best and worst are often invisible or too hard to capture in a single photo or a few words anyway. Or they’re way too personal or too few people even care… the list of reasons why they’re so inadequate is long…

But I guess one still needs to somehow reflect on the last day of the year right?

2018 has been a roller coaster of note, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around everything that’s happened – planned or otherwise. I’m sure to the outside world we appear totally crazy and I often wake up wondering the same thing.

But I guess the bottom line for me, what I want people to know the most, is that in the quiet, prayerful moments when I remember what we are doing and why, I feel peaceful and content and ever so thankful. I’m not good at explaining much of it, but I do want people to know that there is reason and method in all this madness somewhere and that it isn’t nearly as random as it may appear.

I realise this all appears rather cryptic and I apologise for that. I constantly think “if I can just get enough sleep, enough time to write properly, enough days in one spot, enough this, that or the next thing… then I’ll regain an appearance of control of my life again and it won’t appear to be a complete zoo!” … but I’m not sure I’ll ever get any of those things and if I did manage to get them, I doubt I’d actually be in any more control than I am now?

When I look back on 2018 I’m not sure I’d do a whole lot differently? Ok, I take that back, I’d do lots of things better, slower, less thoughtfully (I tend to over think things, try too much and too hard), I think I’d have let go of more, been a little more “selfish”, tried to fix less things and allowed more people to make their own mistakes?

I’ll save what I hope to do differently in 2019 for the next post, but for now, thanks to all of you so much for reading, commenting, supporting, and putting up with me! Thanks soooo much for all the encouragement and personal contact! Thanks for all the amazing new friends and experiences, thanks to our amazing children for putting up with us! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year in such positive ways.

No thanks to those who didn’t. I’ll not comment on those who tried to steal from us or derail us, those who tried to bring us down or make our choices all about them. It’s shocked me (even though it shouldn’t) how selfish people can be … from total strangers to those among the ranks of what were once our greatest supporters…. I’ll leave the negative at that.

It’s been a year of grandbabies and travels and changes and celebrations and losses and exhaustion and on the very last day of the year I think more than ever I need to retreat a little bit more and nurture myself better… whatever that means…

And as always, I’m off to cuddle and celebrate and be thankful with my pre iota babies and their families…

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Updates:

On writing… not as much as I’d like, but certainly having a “Writing Buddy” helps and I’m way more organised. Watch out 2018…

On Unpacking… getting nowhere but oh well, there’s always next year…

On Daisy… we’re doing great! Today was ride number four and not only have I done nearly a hundred kilometers already, but many of them have been uphill (a few times with only me pedalling I might add… to see if I can).

We had our first fall today, a slow one where we took off and immediately toppled right over (into a parked car which was thankfully so bashed and scratched it’s hard to tell if we damaged it). Many people have questioned why I have my harness and today reminded us why as it earned its keep forever. Without it I’d have been sprawled across the road (at best), but instead, apart from some scratches and bruises, I stayed firmly in my seat.

The other fall came at the end of the ride. It’s hard to explain my difficulty with walking yet ability to ride, but in Daisy my seat is tilted right back and my feet are raised. I can turn the pedals without putting weight on any of my joints. At the end of a ride it’s so easy to forget I can’t walk. But worse, my joints have moved into “riding position” which for me is not the same as “walking position” and I can’t get up off the bike and certainly can’t walk till my joints resettle. Today I forgot. Yes, I gingerly climbed off (no chance of getting off any faster), waited a few seconds, took one step towards the curb, and just like that both my legs folded under me and completely collapsed.

Thankfully I was unhurt, but it was a little embarrassing fully slumped in the gutter at my front door. There was no way I could get up again for a while either… hence no photos other than once I was on my feet again.

The scenery in Malta never ceases to amaze me, even though there’s rarely anything close to flat or smooth. Apparently this is good training for me!

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The Weary Travellers!

Sunday midday and all three of us were home safely in Malta! Exhausted but thrilled to be back again.

Daisy and I completed the last leg of our journey over the last twenty four hours, off to the airport in the upgraded rental mini (thanks #SixtLuton !!!) with Daisy safely wrapped in two seperate parcels, a 3:45am alarm, flight, #wheelchairassist followed by a flight over the #FranchAlps, across the #MediteranianSea, and a bumpy landing into #malta where #Molly was there to meet us!

We haven’t put Daisy together again yet, but all pieces are accounted for and look fine! Out cake the Thermomix and in the blink of an eye we had delicious risotto for lunch and homemade pizzas for dinner!

Nighty night from one VERY happy little household!!!

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Thanks!

Truly, deeply, thank you!!!! -to Natalie, EDS-UK Danny, Linda, Roger, Tom, Nige, Michelle, Phoenix, Cat, Sue, Steve, Anne, Majka, Roger, Ashleigh & Lauren ….for putting up with this sore-sorry-for-herself-sad-sack the last 16 days!

I’ve had an almost endless supply of hot water bottles, cups of (hot-of-course) tea, warm beds, wonderful chats, warm meals, the odd snack, two AMAZING roast dinners, and most everyone has done all the thinking for me through the brain fog!

I hope I haven’t come across as too unappreciative! Because I truly truly am so very thankful! You’ve all, one way or another filled my love tank, gently pushed me on to the next step… and now, just a little way to go and Daisy and I will be home in Malta!

Thank you all!!

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A Blessed Weekend!

So sorry I’ve been quiet again, it’s been a REALLY hard time with the identity theft stuff. Seven nights up way beyond midnight and hours and hours of phone calls and paperwork and stress… we’ve been running on Adrenalin for about 10 days now, and I didn’t waste the energy, using it to unpack 80% of the boxes and do almost all my Christmas sewing. The upside is I’ve done about a months worth of stuff in ten days, the downside is it’s hard to turn it off again. It’s false energy and not good for me, but it was better to use it than allow it to turn into anxiety.

Friday was twelve days in the flat and it was time to leave again. It was just starting to feel like home and I miss it terribly! But we needed to leave for a few weeks for Visa “stuff” and he was off to Israel for two weeks anyway, so I flew alone to the UK. To spend the two weeks collecting and bringing home our Daisy, who I’ll meet and collect tomorrow.

This is me at the airport ready to go, with my luggage… one huge (but very light) bag filled with the packaging and cardboard and bubble wrap that I saved from unpacking our fridge in the move! This will be used to wrap Daisy to safely bring her home 😊

But in the meantime, through my search for Daisy, a fabulous young lady called Natalie found me. She not only has EDS herself, but she also runs her local EDS support group, and works for EDS-UK, and… she and her husband also ride a Hase Pino! She also used it to strengthen her body and it’s so encouraging to see how much it’s done for her, and to validate this investment in my health.

They’ve lovingly taken me in, been the most amazing hosts, and it’s been two days of wonderful English life, from the local Christmas market this morning to a place at the table of her wonderful family …and roast lamb dinner (one of my most favourite meals!).

Yesterday I had the privilege of joining her EDS support group and it was amazing in ways it’s hard to explain, …sitting in a room with a dozen others with EDS, who talk about so many things I’ve lived my whole life with, and no one has to explain anything! Good, smart, normal people in agony, sharing their stories of life, diagnoses, pain, problems, suffering, thriving, and how we all deal with a world who judges and ignores us (for the most part). Lots of healthy laughter too.

It’s also very cold here, especially after Malta! But it’s manageable after Canada, and I’ve loved being a part of all these lives… including dogs and chickens and ducks and markets, and I’m super proud of myself for sticking to my new eating plan … especially hard when it’s coming into Christmas!

(Though Tescos are coveting all their bases and Easter Eggs are already out! Right next to the Christmas mince pies!):

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Identity Theft

Identity theft is real. You haven’t heard from us in a while because despite the enormous efforts we go to, to protect ourselves from this evil in the world, late last week we became the victims of identity fraud. Someone, or an organised group of someone’s, stole our identities. Not Facebook identities either …. we’re talking about major financial institutions here.

It’s been a difficult weekend and few days with not only sleepless nights (not so much from worry but from being emotionally charged and wired, and from making hours of extremely frustrating phone calls during overseas office hours… i.e. after midnight for us!!), but countless hours of hard, frustrating and boring work.

I’m not going to go into any more details for now because this is an ongoing fraud investigation, but it’s important for me to tell you this as there are loopholes in processes, and evil people constantly searching for both those loop holes and your details.

I feel like I’m forever sharing details about why you should NEVER fill in Facebook (and other) quizzes, and people scoff and say “what’s the harm”. But THIS is the harm. We survived this because we are vigilant about our security and had we not been so “over-careful”, the outcome could well have been very very different.

We could have lost much of what we own, and the fight’s not yet over …. by a long shot. This is going to take months to fix, and we can only pray that we don’t lose anything along the road ahead. In many ways, our lives have been put on hold for the past four days (and nights), and will continue to be to a lesser degree, but for months to come. So please bear with us for a while if we aren’t as attentive as we’d like to be.

There a few things to note about this, as warning to others…

  • There isn’t anything we could have done to avoid this.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we are vigilant (without being paranoid) about keeping passwords secret and highly encrypted.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we read all those boring emails from financial institutions, which showed us (not them) that something was amiss, and we jumped in quickly.
  • We were able to limit the damage because we are vigilant about what we share and engage in.
  • Here are some of the absolute basics on keeping your identity as safe as possible.
    • Understand that everything you share leaves a footprint. Those footprints are gathered and sold… to “honest” advertising companies and crooks alike. Computers collate that information and gather all your details from different places over many years.. decades even. There is a cache of information out there on YOU. You can find it.
      Those “quizzes” you have so much fun with, gather your connections to others, and build your cache. Slowly they work out your school, age, mother’s maiden name and so on. And even if your current security question is not “what’s the name of your first boyfriend?”, in ten years time it might be, and you’ll have forgotten that you answered it somewhere along the line in a game or a conversation. You make yourself a target. You become easy prey… low hanging fruit.
      You might feel “safe” now, but if you share info about who your family are, and your family does the quizzes… well, hopefully you get the picture? You filling out the quiz can cost your family or friend everything they own!

    We’ve been vigilant. Our info caches are all but empty. Yet it didn’t stop the thieves from stealing our identity and passing through some of the major security checks, in big, well known, financial institutions. But they only got so far. Again, this isn’t petty, and it’s not about someone hacking my Facebook account either, or even spamming my friends with false information. This is about gaining access to potentially everything we own.

    PS: please forgive me the next time you do a “quiz” on who you were in another life, what you will look like when you’re old etc, or when you share ANYTHING that says “copy and paste this to your wall…” or “I bet no one will share this!…” etc etc etc… and I am less than kind to you!

    Thermo-Time!

    So, a couple of years ago I was introduced to the theory of Thermomix. I’m not sure they explained it too well, as it made no sense to me …at the same time as sounding too good to be true. My hands can no longer chop veggies, and I’ve always struggled with allergies, as well as a conflict between wanting to eat well but lacking the time and energy and later, physical ability, to make many things from scratch. The Thermomix is supposed to fix all these needs and more. But really???

    Over the last year I’ve come face to face with the actual machine time and again, from people who swear by it, but never seen it in action. Then a couple of weeks ago in Italy we spent the weekend with my cousin and saw it doing it’s thing for the first time. We were sold.

    But it just didn’t feel like a sensible priority right now in the middle of unpacking our home… even though, if ever there was a time for a quick way to produce amazing and healthy meals, this is it. But not a good time to learn something new. So we pushed it to the back burner.

    Then a couple of days ago we stumbled past a stand selling them outside our supermarket and we quickly gave the sales lady our number as we rolled past (supermarket shopping is a wheelchair only experience for me at the moment).

    Today she arrived with our brand new machine and started her demonstration. It was a couple of hours of fun and hilarity, much of it’s at his expense I’m afraid. But he was very good about it I have to say.

    Apart from his pet hates of innocent cushions and pillows, third on the list is empty jars. Who in their right mind packs and moves empty jars right?!?!?! I tried to explain that they’re only empty for moving, and that I use them for all kinds of things. But he wasn’t convinced. This on a day when his pet hates were basically anything that came out of a packing box. Any and all books on Monday were a waste of time and space, clothes particularly useless. On Monday, moving was a massive mistake and he pretty much hated everything we own.

    Thankfully, by Tuesday evening he was in love with our things again, and I, of course, have overdone it trying to set it all up again and prove it. But it’s starting to look like home at last.

    But I digress. Back to today and the glass jars. Firstly, we don’t have a pantry in this lovely little home, so the dry goods have been transferred to many of the jars, and the sideboard has become the pantry. I love it. (Secretly he does too!).

    Then as Christina, our demonstrator, made one dish after the next, she kept asking for glass jars to put the finished products in. We’d make eye contact above her and chuckle to each other as over and again another jar was needed.

    She started off peeling, chopping and storing all our garlic …. in about three minutes! Followed by a lesson (and another jar) for storing parsley.

    Then it was time to make lemonade. Not usually my thing but using whole lemons and hardly any sugar, it was delicious and a good lesson for making cocktails.

    The lemonade was followed by banana and blueberry sorbet, which I’ve decanted into nearly a dozen small containers to pop in the freezer.

    Pizza dough was next and while that rose she made exquisite chickpea and spinach soup. That was ready at the same time as the garlic bread (from half the dough) and we sat down to an incredible lunch not much more than an hour after she arrived. It’s usually an hour, she said, but as our cupboards are almost bare, he had to pop next door to the corner grocers no less than seven times during the process.

    I feel a little miffed that I’ve spent thirty years making food the hard way, … en masse for a big family – plus additions, and now he gets to step in for the fun stuff for the next thirty … but I also look forward to not having to teach him how to cook, and to having food appear for me instead of the other way around. I’m also looking forward to shedding some of these unwanted kilos that have crept on as my mobility has decreased. So there’s not much to complain about really!

    Oh, and did I mention we have a kitchen now???

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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    Opening Boxes!

    “Pretend it’s Christmas” they say…

    “It’ll be so wonderful seeing your stuff again after five months!” they say….

    “Blah blah blah…” they say…

    Where do I start? I’ve really and truly tried to be a good girl and to see these boxes through a Christmas filter… but it’s just not working for me.

    Yup, all I can see are boxes 📦 boxes 📦 and more boxes 📦… and each one is a complete surprise as to what’s in it (I guess that’s where the Christmas part is supposed to come in! But that’s where the similarities end).

    Let me pull out some of my favourites:

    1: The dirty bowls and glasses in which I made the packers lunch (five months ago) … crumbs and all… They simply finished eating and wrapped them!

    2: The boxes marked “linen” contained cane baskets and silk flowers… without a single piece of linen. The linen was found in the end, not a single sheet marked on the box, and no more than two items together. It has appeared in dribs and drabs over the last ten days. We’ve had to borrow bedding from Molly to sleep at night.

    3: The silk flowers were removed from their safe vase. The vase was packed in one box, the flowers in another, and the oasis in a third … crushed of course, into sticky green crumbs which now appear everywhere. Did they breed in there?

    The dread of each box, however, has produced some pleasant surprises:

    • Five boxes of lamp shades? I was sure I don’t own that many lamp shades. The first box contained six… the rest each held a single shade. Whew! One becomes so thankful for such pathetically small blessings! I think I’d be thrilled to find a box empty.

    • We are now almost at sea level, and we’ve come from Joburg which is five thousand feet above sea level. Things in bags that were sealed are now vacuum packed! 🤣

    We have a kitchen, we’ve been sleeping in our own bed for two nights now, and it’s starting to feel just a little bit like home 😊

    Oh, and we live on a busy street without much of a view. There isn’t usually a lot of green in Malta which is basically one huge rock. The front balcony is too small to swing a cat, and we need to keep the glass doors shut most of the time. But it turns out that what we can see from the living room, while very cropped, is of one of my favourite trees!

    PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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