Five Pillow Day!

Two of his pet hates are cushions and pillows.

Two of my favourite things are cushions and pillows.

I always thought of them as somewhat decorative but mostly functional. He thinks they’re just stupid.

Along with the first vague understandings of my health issues came the realisation that pillows and cushions do more than provide comfort for me. They prop me up and support me.

Then over the next couple of years I worked out that I only need one or two (in each place I sit) but on really bad days, I need up to five.

Today is one such day. One on the left, another on my right, two behind me, and one between my knees. Nothing is able to hold itself in position and even my left hand rests in a pillow as I alternately type and drink tea with my right. The tea cup is placed in exactly the right position so there’s no twisting. For refills I need to ask for help.

Yesterday we had a huge chat as we discussed the ins and outs of the unpacking processes and how much better it’s been made by having a slow, staggered help and this little flat to crash at through the process. The old me would’ve sent him off to ride or paddle or work… it’s “easier” to do it on my own. But I’m physically in worse shape than I’ve ever been, and we have no choice. We feel like a pair of naughty children sent to our room, not able to come out without the cooperation of the other.

Three hours a day (and three hours only), we drive the two minutes down the road to the apartment, park Molly in her garage underground, and together we attack a handful of boxes.

I can’t do it without him. I can unpack boxes he brings to my chair, and I can direct what goes where and which box to unpack. But he can’t do it without me either. He’s never done it before, it’s completely overwhelming for him and his anxiety skyrockets. And when his anxiety levels are high he doesn’t listen too well. So I have to be patient and kind and gentle and ask (not tell).

We’re both super happy with the progress and with ourselves and each other. We’re nailing this in more ways than one.

But as each day moves into the next, I’m becoming more and more exhausted. There was a time that I could unpack a hundred boxes on my own, move the piano into place, and get rid of all the rubbish by the time he got home from work… five days in a row.

But not any more. Now the three hours are all I can do, and it’s three painfully slow and frustrating hours at that. I can ride a recumbent bicycle for three hours straight, but sitting in a camping chair giving orders and bending over open boxes and opening packages within those boxes is a whole different ball game and the pain sets in quickly, …. followed right behind by the brain fog. Then I can’t string more than a few words together.

It’s difficult explain. I say door instead of window, left instead of right, clothes instead chair… and more often than not I can’t find the word at all…

It’s frustrating for both of us. We might need a day off tomorrow? Or maybe even two days?

Today is day five of the unpack. The kitchen arrived just as we were leaving…

I’m assuming it’ll be installed over the next few days. If I can’t string more than a few words together and my pain levels are through the roof, then it’s a five pillow day… and time for a rest.

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50 Nights!

Today we arrived in Malta. We never planned it this way, but we’ve travelled over eight thousand kilometers, which is the same as there and back from Johannesburg to the Tanzania border, Melbourne to Perth or Toronto to San Fransisco… We slept exactly fifty consecutive nights in Molly (and tonight was going to be fifty one). We crossed nine country borders, lost our solar panels at speed, had an attempted robbery, a very embarrassing police escort, drove through weather that killed six people in weather related incidents, and I very nearly ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere on my own.

We also missed all the babies terribly and often wished we were with them through some truly tough trials of their own.

But we also met many brave and interesting people, ate weird and wonderful food, saw so many breathtaking views and vistas, slept in Molly on the edges of cliffs, on all kinds of farms including an apple orchard and behind some of Britain’s cutest pubs. I got to attend my first international EDS conference and we found me a very expensive but life-changing bicycle.

We fought, we bonded, we laughed and we cried. We found some new rhythms and routines, and learnt so many new lessons both great and small. But above all, we absolutely, categorically, no-holds-barred, haven’t looked back… this was so the right thing to do on so many levels. Working on becoming a human being instead of a human doing is hard work, and I’ve never been more proud of this man. Watching him learn to cook, clean, help, and collaborate has been hard, but also such a privilege, and so humbling for both of us.

And as the song went at our wedding… here we are again on a new journey on which:

“We’ve only just begun…”

I can’t wait for the next fifty sleeps as we unpack our container again in Malta. To see our belongings again after four months on the road, to build yet another little home together, however temporary, to do another round of culling and simplifying. Fifty more sleeps till we fly to Australia for Christmas with all the babies, and the arrival of the newest one.

In the meantime, there’s videos to edit, books to write, a bicycle to collect from Devon (where Molly was born), and an Israel trip for him… So watch this space as always …

Here’s our arrival into Malta on the ferry at 4:30pm… and the drive to Molly’s new home:

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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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith