The Good News or the Bad News?

I’ll start with the bad news as it’s simpler.

We rented an apartment in Malta that wasn’t quite finished (literally just needs kitchen and curtains and insect screens installed) everything else is stunning and brand new and finished). But at least we could store our stuff while went for our six week Molly adventure, and if it wasn’t finished on our return we could cook in Molly but sleep in the apartment.

The bad news is it’s not ready, which is fine, but the adorable landlords have rented us another gorgeous, furnished apartment, and set us up with food, towels, beds …everything just a few blocks away.

Which is very kind. But we need to unpack and start getting things sorted ASAP as we have visitors and things we need, and things to unpack, and and and …. so it’s annoying.

But the good news list grows longer by the day:

  • They won’t let us pay rent on either place.. for the furnished apartment or the one without a kitchen. So we’re saving a few bucks which is a bonus as we still haven’t sold the house back in Joburg.
  • That in turn gives them incentive to get finished, we feel really bad for them, but it’s good knowing that we’re taken care of and it’s in their interest to get things finished soon. So it will happen, and we don’t need to nag them.
  • We are in the ground floor apartment right on the edge of town, so unlike our apartment where Molly will sleep in the basement garage, here we can park her right at our front door. And with a washing machine and dishwasher etc, we have been able to bring everything in, in just a few steps (including my Molly mattress and put it on top of the bed here… not quite the same but pretty good), clean her out, unpack the Sphinx… it’s turned out be such a blessing … sorting out Molly without feeling like we should be unpacking the boxes.

  • I’m not very good at sitting still so if we were surrounded by boxes I’d constantly chip away at them and totally overwork myself very quickly. Instead, each morning we head over, work for three hours, he does all the lifting, I do the sorting and directing (which doesn’t always go well), then we head home for lunch and don’t think about the unpacking again till the next day. An impossible feat if we were right there.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to plan things when you’re one step removed. The serenity of a tidy, well appointed apartment with a fabulous view is a much better place to plan, regroup, restore and refresh, than an overwhelming apartment with boxes to the ceilings! A couple of Netflix binges are helping to do that somewhat, hence the radio silence of the last few days. It’s been great!
  • Part of the move included unpackers. After nearly a dozen international moves I know the drill and I hate it. A swarm of men descend at the crack of dawn and by nightfall, everything you own, including the dust bunnies under your bed in the old house, and the junk drawer (usually now upturned), and all the half bottles of shampoo from five people (now a quarter filled with the rest smeared over the rest of the bathroom contents), are now unpacked. If you don’t know what that looks like, imagine upturning every drawer, box, wardrobe, cupboard, in your entire home and garage and garden shed, onto your floor, beds, stairs, kitchen counter, and even the bath. Believe it or not, there are not enough flat surfaces to hold everything you own. You can’t eat for the laden kitchen and you can’t reach the cupboards to start loading them. You can’t get to your bed under all the linen you didn’t know you owned and the washing machine doesn’t work because the power plug is still from the wrong country so you can’t wash all the shampoo out the towels. You’re hungry, so exhausted you can’t breathe…. and everyone expects you to fix it… right now. But because we don’t have a kitchen, yet we need our stuff, the removal company agreed to spread the load over a few days. I asked for the weekend in between two of them, and the last third only once we have a kitchen. It’s still a zoo, it’s still a third of our belongings spread over half the house (not a bad ratio considering!!), but with the weekend to sort out much of what was unpacked on Friday, we’re getting to do this a little slower. I can’t begin to tell you how much better that is.

So the non-kitchen is proving to be a bonus. He still thinks that if we’d rented a different apartment, moved to a different country, owned different things, … or we’d simply put a match under it all before we’d left, it wouldn’t be nearly this stressful. In reality, it’s not a patch on all the other moves I’ve done while he’s in the office making all his new friends… Five people’s stuff instead of two, all on my own instead of with his help, no spotless apartment to retire to in the evening, unpacked in one day instead of three, and no one to nag us to find things for school or work the very next morning… this is bliss!

But it still sucks. Moving sucks. And tomorrow morning (Monday) will be round two of the proper unpackers. Hopefully they’ll find the linen … but that’s a story for tomorrow or the next day!

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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The Pino Outcome:

I love this photo!! I look so normal! But here’s what it doesn’t show:

  • That I couldn’t walk at all! We’d ridden for over an hour. My leg muscles are amazingly strong considering how little work they get to do in real life. But it was lunch time so we stopped for a break, he helped me get off, and that was it… In the photo I’m sitting on the side of the bike because I couldn’t go any further. Yet I was able to get back on again (with help) and ride another hour!
  • The photo also hides my sore face. I smashed my face a few days ago and have a fat lip etc.
  • This is ALL I did yesterday. He let me sleep in as long as possible and got ready for the day without me. He woke me late morning in time to eat then we drove to the Pino, we rode, then I barely made it back to camp again for a shower and bed. I was in bed again by 4pm and didn’t even have the energy to read.

So…. don’t confuse my ability to ride with my ability to walk, and don’t forget this took all a day’s energy to do and there was nothing left.

Now we’re in the process of trying to buy one. This is a game changer for me and in a completely different way, a game changer for him. It’s my only option for keeping strong right now. It could take months to get one, but we’re praying hard for another Pino Miracle and that we’ll have one well before the end of the year! So watch this space!

(In the mean time, it’s back to a few short metres of heavy crutch walking a day and that’s it… it’s very difficult to be given such freedom then having it taken away!

The Lion and The Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety

aa-final-book-coverAfter one of the most amazing roller coasters of a month, we are on track for the launch of my first book, The Lion and the Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety.

I did not plan on this being my first book, but after writing the chapter on this part of my journey for one of my other books, it occurred to me that this needed to be a stand-alone book in its own right.

It is short, only about a tenth of the size of a full-length novel, which means that anyone will be able to access this, without having to read or purchase anything else or anything bigger. I am still telling my story and the books will keep coming, but this is now the first window into my complicated story.

If you would like to be on the mailing list for the book (which I promise I won’t spam you with), it will involve only a few emails leading up to the launch on the 15th of January 2017, and then from then on monthly emails with updates on promotions, free days, and the follow-up book releases. Please sign up or leave your email details in the comments below.

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@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Why Read?

The more I have wanted to write, the more I have wanted to read! I have always loved reading,

….but when I started writing my own abuse story for myself, I stopped reading anything else because I wanted my voice to be only my own. I was scared that I would “accidentally” steal or borrow from someone else, and I wanted to be able to say everything that I needed to say and know that it was from my own heart and soul, even if someone else had a similar experience (which I have no doubt many have). And so I stopped reading altogether for a season.

But then I needed a break. I was having nightmares and really struggling with some of the things that I was writing and so I took some time out to read a book that I found lying around and had no idea what it was about…. it was Alexander Fuller’s “Let’s Not Go to the Dog’s Tonight” and I drank in every word. My story is nothing like hers but having grown up in the same era and in the same corner of the globe there was much that I could relate to.

At the moment I am reading Rachel Thompson’s “Broken Pieces” which is completely different to Fuller’s writings but I am soaking in every word of this book too.

Neither of these are my stories, they are their’s alone, so how and why are they good for me? Because they give me permission. When I started writing my story, I wanted it to be pure and raw and “as is”, but I also knew that I had to fit in to a “standard length” novel, and to write it in a way that people will want to read and understand. Which for me was a certain box that I can’t quite explain. But now that I am reading the works of others that inspire me, they have give me permission to be more of myself and less of that “box”.

Far from restricting my own voice, they are setting it free!

Fuller gave me permission to not have to cram my whole story into one book. To stop my story at a really obvious point, and then to move onto a new book for the next part. Thompson has given me permission to describe feelings even if they didn’t make sense to me then or make sense to everyone else now.

Both writers have given me permission to write my story “as is” without justifying anything or having to explain it so that the reader believes me. Neither of these writers judges anyone, themselves included. They state their experiences and simply leave it at that…

There are many other writers who have put words to my feelings, feelings that have been bottled up for decades but without a voice I had no idea how to describe them or what to do with them. They are still my own, but I needed to isolate them in order to deal with them, and deal with them in order to start healing. Then I could start telling my own story, and use my own words that I learnt to find.

Flooded!

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-10-46-30-amSo a couple of months ago I came across this amazing young woman doing amazing things. That sounds like an ad, sorry, I didn’t mean it to, but most of you who know me know that I don’t plug anything I don’t believe in and that my thoughts and comments are very much my own. The books that I review I buy, ….and I buy because I choose to.

So back to this young lady, Victoria Griffin is her name, and she is bravely putting together an Anthology about Head Injuries, especially concussion, called Flooded. The story is hers to tell not mine, and next week I will be doing a post all about it, so I will leave it for then. For now I am super excited that her KickStarter launched today!! I have done quite a lot of research into what she is doing, and she appears to really have her head screwed on and know what she is doing.

The Writing Train did a post on her, the Kickstarter that went live today, and what she is doing and why, so if you want to know the details, and can’t wait till next week, then check them out. This is simply to say click on the links, back her if you can and would like to, and watch this space for more info next week (plus an update on how the whole thing is progressing 🙂 )

An anxious Piece of Pottery

I made this bowl the other day, … (well, this is only the underglaze, those pencil lines will burn off in the kiln and the colours are all actually bright and dark). But I made it after seeing a similar quote on the Facebook page of a fellow writer, and it speaks to me on so many levels. Not just because many writers can relate to this, but also as someone who has been silenced all my life and not allowed to use my voice in any forum, writing my memoir has become a powerful way of expressing a pain that is and was extremely deep …and yet I could not explain.

As I break out of that, one of the key tools that found the cracks in my enforced emotional “prison” was 6 years ago when I started to write my story for myself. It slowly began the season in my journey to healing, that allowed me (and my psychologists) a small window into my broken damaged soul. I can write things that I cannot say, my soul speaks through the keys with words that I didn’t know I had, when I write it out and let people see it I can face it without the extreme emotions of loneliness that went with living it in real life. I feel as though when I tell my story to someone I find that I lose the ability to breath and the emotional and physical pain becomes too consuming, …but when I let my fingers and my soul connect and do their thing, I feel like my readers are holding my hand as I “go there”. and I am more able to stand back and let it happen without reliving it nearly as deeply.

Don’t get me wrong, it is still painful, and I have nightmares for a few nights and through the writing sessions themselves I frequently need to make a dash for the loo, but there is somehow a level of protection. My greatest healing comes from my writing, telling this story that I have borne for all my existence …

And so this speaks to me at the deepest of levels, it is about my pain but it also about the freedom that I am finding in getting it out! This statement is extremely validating and freeing for me, and I wanted to write it somewhere that I can always see it. But when I showed it to a couple of people, the reaction was: “what an anxious piece of pottery”! They weren’t being at all unkind, but it was a huge reminder to me that my freedom, my voice, and my pain do not speak to all people, and that I mustn’t take that personally. It is not about me, and it isn’t even a negative about them…