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 😊👊🏻

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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French catch up..

So… I’ve missed a few blogs. I’m not well. I don’t think of myself as a people pleaser but I haven’t yet learnt to explain to people that I need to rest, with my feet up, for most of every day. I shouldn’t try and sit at the dinner table on upright chairs for more than half an hour and I shouldn’t offer to go on shopping trips … even short ones.

So while I’ve loved seeing people the last few weeks, I shouldn’t have offered so much. The reality is I’m not sure how not to…

So I’m sore… very sore, which means I have brain fog, haven’t written my book in a while, and when I’m tired and my brain is foggy I knock and therefore hurt myself. So I’ve had a headache for three days and quite bad concussion. Bertha is doing ok because I’ve been very good with her with all the concussion rest… but I shouldn’t ever let it get this bad.

The weather hasn’t helped. I can’t stand wind and the stormy weather of the last four days mean my joints hurt. And husbands get grumpy in this kind of weather… who knew?!

So we’ve taken the opportunity to hide from the world a bit, pop into the odd IKEA for more storage options, and driven across about half of the southern coast of France.

I sent him out on a ride yesterday, to help him increase his niceness, and it even worked for a few hours.

What I don’t like about France is their tendency to use guns in clearly risky areas. We woke yesterday morning to someone shooting what appeared to be rabbits (hanging from his belt) with both joggers and cyclists on the same road as he was!

Right here:

We’ve since heard an English cyclist was accidentally shot and killed by a French farmer recently. We’re not surprised at all!

I’ve no idea where we are right now exactly, or what day it is. Nor do I care on either score. All I know is we’re trying to work out life together without the pressures which have dominated us for decades. That isn’t always easy. Especially with concussion and Mah Eeds and bad weather and grumpy old men!

But I love this man more than I could ever say!

PS: The book’s never going to happen if I don’t finish it! Or if I don’t have a support team So I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

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Gent EDS Conference!

They forget (in love) that I can’t walk at all with out my crutches and even then it’s for no more than about 20 minutes at a time. And twenty minutes of agony at that!I’m in bed almost ALL the rest of the time even for many meals.

The last two days we diverted our rough plan and drove to Belgium so that I could attend the EDS conference in Gent/Ghent yesterday. I’m soooo glad I went, I met so many amazing people including some of the world’s leading specialists in #TMJ #Pain and many other things. 12 speakers in all, over nine hours, was beyond exhausting but so so worth it!

Highlights for me were:

  • Meeting another EDSers for the first time EVER (other than my own children).
  • Chatting in real life with so many of them (there were about 50 at the conference I’d say?)
  • Being in a room where splints, wheelchairs, braces, zebra stripes and bandages are the norm.
  • Hearing specialists and doctors talk about EDS from decades of experience…
  • SOOOOO much validation it’s incredible and difficult to put into words.
  • Crying (sobbing) because the collective pain levels in the room must have been through the roof! And it wasn’t just from me!

Best of all:

  • Meeting Dr Helen Cohen, one of the world’s top pain doctors! I spent about half an hour with her and I don’t think I’ve ever been so in awe of another human being !! She was soooo good, told me I’ve nailed my own pain strategies and I can’t tell you how encouraging that was.
  • Learning so many new teeny tiny things (& a couple of big things) to tweak my life for the better!!

It was all a HUGE reminder that:

  • My new book is soooo needed and important!
  • That I need to get better at reminding those who love me how crippled I am! I’ve been getting lots of encouraging messages lately saying people hope I’m enjoying walking around Europe and having a wonderful time. They forget (in love) that I can’t walk at all with out my crutches and even then it’s for no more than about 20 minutes at a time. And twenty minutes of agony at that!I’m in bed almost ALL the rest of the time even for many meals. No, this trip isn’t making it worse, I’d be in bed at home or in Molly’s bed but at least the scenery changes 😊

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

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Building an Ethical Launch Team!

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The ink is still wet on my first book and I am already planning the next one. Actually, the next few books were written long before the Lion and the Peacock was even an idea, but that is beside the point. It is and forever will be my first book and it is not by any means forgotten, but I learned so much from the process that I am keen on sharing my ups and downs with you and what I would have done differently. I am also keen on putting those learnings into practice to see if they have an effect or not.

So with that in mind, I am starting my Launch Team much earlier this time and will use it as a learning tool for myself and anyone who would like to come along for the journey.

The first step of any Launch Team is to create a Closed Facebook Group. The idea behind it is to rally people to support your upcoming book. The slight difference here is that I will also have people joining it simply to learn the process, but the first step would be the same for any Launch Team. You want the group to be closed and not public simply because it can be a safe place to talk about “behind the scenes” things that you don’t want the public to know (as yet anyway). It will later become a space where you can share your ideas for a front cover and people give feedback on the font, picture, layout etc. It is an interactive group.

But I want to point out that it should NOT be a space to create “read and review swaps”. Or a place that guarantees any kickbacks. It should be a place of community and support. Anyone who joins the launch team should expect nothing in return but because of the way the group should function, they would hopefully ultimately feel that they gained a lot by being there.

If you are an Author:

Join someone else’s Launch Team because:

  • You can learn so much from the process in order to do a great job (and hopefully even do a better job) yourself. It is almost silly to run your own launch before ever being on one and seeing it from the other side, or having launch teams to compare mistakes and successes etc. It is a totally free way to learn!
  • You want to “pay it forward”. In other words, when it is your turn to have a launch team you too will want people to sign on and help you. Of all the professions in this world, being an author is one of the greatest in terms of this. Whether you like it or not, all authors need the generosity of others, and if you have never given anything it is tough to ask others to give it to you.

Don’t join someone else’s Launch Team if:

  • You expect them to join yours. It could well backfire on both of you as the Amazon Bots are always on the look out for “review swaps”. The process of Launch Teams is a little like the analogy where it “all comes out equally in the wash”. If you belong to enough communites and are active in them, then there should be plenty to go around if you all join a handful of launch teams with no one reciprocating.
  • You aren’t prepared to give anything to them. If you think about it, they have started the group for themselves but you have been given the privilege of being a fly on the wall of this intimate and soul bearing exercise. The least you can do is any one of the little, free, 2 second ways that you can support them (“Like” their author facebook Page, share their posts, retweet a few of their tweets, tell your freinds about them … the list is endless). But think about giving them a review at the end. If you are not doing a review swap then this is the greatest way to bless them!
  • You don’t like their writing! I know that a lot of people dont agree with me here but it is really hard to read and review a genre or a book that you are completely uncomfortabel or unfamiliar with. Spend a little time reading soemthing that they have out there for free (free book on Amazon, or a blog that they write, or an artcile that they have written for a publication, or check them out on Goodreads).

If you are a Reader:

Join someone’s Launch Team because:

  • You can learn so much about what goes into a book and I believe that your reviews will be so much richer for understanding the heart and soul of some of the authors. It can be so easy to criticize something that appears small and simple but isn’t. I beleive that a great reader would enjoy getting to know some authors and their processes.
  • You want your favourite authors to succeed. Never before have readers had so much power in the success or failure of the authors of the world. So many people have asked me when my next book will be out and the answer is very simply: “when I get enough people to support it”. If no one is going to even know that it exists, then I will fail before I begin. If you want your favourite authors to write, then support them at the foundations and help the world to see them 🙂
  • It’s fun! OK, maybe fun isn’t always the right word, but when I read the books of some of my favourite authors I have a yearning for so much more. I want to know the things that I felt were hidden between the lines, if there are photos of the journey then I want to see them. Launch Teams and newsletters often let you into private spaces that no one else gets to see.

Don’t join someone else’s Launch Team if:

  • All you want is to be a fly on the wall and give nothing back. If an author allows you into their heart and soul process then please be gentle and helpful with that gift that they have given you. Too many people say yes please to the privilege of being on the team and then do nothing but take advantage of the days that the book is free and give nothing back.
  • You aren’t prepared to Like their author facebook Page, retweet a few of their tweets, tell your freinds about them … again, the list is endless. But most of all if you aren’t prepared to give them an honest review at the end then think carefully about pretending to support them when in fact your aren’t.

So to recap: First step is to set up the Closed Facebook group and the second is to find people to join. The reason I suggest people to start early is because it takes time to build a good team. So many people urgently create a group a couple of weeks before launch and don’t have the numbers that they want. Next post I will talk more about how to find the people that you need to make this group work! (but in the meantime, set up your group and ask a handful of Facebook friends and family to join you).

Here is my new Launch Team link if you would like to join, follow and learn from my journey: JOIN THE TEAM

Here is the link to be on my no spam email list to receive updates, specials, and exclusive updates, photos and personal details: SIGN UP

FAQ: Why no Family & Friends Launch Pad?

IMG_3561I wrote this article a couple of weeks ago on the family and friends launch pad that many of us launch or social media platforms off, and the fact that I don’t have one, which doh, I should have realised would prompt people to ask me why. So here it is:

For all kinds of complicated reasons I have never known my own voice. I thought that I did and that I was good at standing up for myself, but it turns out that just because we can talk loudly, a lot, or boldly, does not mean that we know ourselves and our needs either deeply, or for some of us it turns out, at all. And that was me… I was absolutely gobsmacked when my psychologist worked it out, but in the same space and moment I also knew that they were 100% correct. The scariest thing was that I knew they were right but could not for the life of me find what my voice was saying. It was an extremely traumatic few years and deeply painful as for over a decade I had felt the weight of a thousand stones in my soul and so I knew that they were there and I knew that I was in deep deep pain… I knew that I had things to name and say, but I was so conditioned and practiced at silence that I could not access them AT ALL.

It was extremely frustrating, and deeply exhausting. I honestly thought at times that we would never get there, but as I started to write I started to find a voice that in one sense I never knew was there but in another sense always knew it was. I started to share that voice and those writing some of those around me and I got such a mixture of reactions. Some told me that I have to share it with the world and write my story, but many told me that these were things best kept silent. The more people wanted to silence me the more I knew that I needed to write and to tell and even to speak it out loud (which I can’t quite do yet, but I want to one day)…

Then there were those who didn’t expect me to keep silent but at the same time it evoked things inside themselves that they were trying to keep silent and so they asked me not to speak of my things around them. Others simply didn’t get it and weren’t very interested. And that’s OK too. It has to be OK, I need to let them have their own life journeys. And so a year ago I moved from my private blog that only they could see, and started my public blogs without telling them. The world can see this and I feel more free to speak what I need to than if I had any of them looking over my shoulder. Yes they might find me, but if they do then they have the choice of hopping on board or staying silent. It is up the them rather than me shoving it in their faces and expecting them to come on board.

My parents and family of origin have elected to let me go a very long time ago, so there are no family constraints as far as that goes, and my children are too young to journey with their mother, (and maybe that is not the job of children anyway). And so with only my dear husband cheering me on on the sidelines, I am going this alone, for now anyway. Thank you for coming on this journey with me … I can’t tell you how much it means to me 🙂

 

3: Self Care is not following a script…

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 1.58.44 PMThis one is really simple. There is very much a formula around the space of implementing self care; knowing when to self care, what works for us personally, and sometimes even needing to methodically implement it. Paradoxically however, the worse shape I am in the more I need self care, but also the less my brain is helping me to do the right thing. A formulaic approach to self care really helps me in that I have taught myself to know what helps in theory and to just do it. To trust the process and go with it. And it nearly always works.

But sadly there isn’t a script on working out what our self care needs are. There isn’t list of things that work for everyone and nor is there a list of trick questions to tick, which will then spit out the answers at the other end. Self care is extremely personal and trial and error with a deliberate mind appeared to be what worked for me. I painstakingly “stumbled” upon the things that worked for me, ….slowly over many years. They seem so simple now, but my brain had never searched my soul for answers to what I needed before, so it didn’t know where to look and my soul did not know how to tell me or my brain what it’s needs were.

So if someone you love is struggling and can’t find how they need to self care, or is forgetting to self care, maybe ask them if they need help for sure, but don’t be too hard on them if they are struggling to fit a list of self care options, or work out what their needs are.

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…

2: Self care is not what everyone else says it is

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 1.58.44 PMSelf care is not simply what everyone else says it is. After I got it through my thick skull that self was not going to force me into a beauty salon, we started looking for other things.

One of my psychologists kept telling me to join a bookclub. Again, it did nothing but make me upset with him, and I after about the fourth time he suggested it I decided that if he did it again, I would tell him where to stick his suggestion (thankfully that was not necessary). I didn’t need more people in my life, I had lot of friends and colleagues and as an adult have always been a sociable person. But I had lived behind a mask of happiness all my life for no other reason that I did not have the words to express what was underneath to myself, never mind anyone else. And I desperately needed to get out from behind it.

I didn’t know how to do anything that was just for me, and when pushed to think of something the idea of meeting more people was exhausting, and I knew that I couldn’t walk into a room and say “Hi, I’m Jennifer and I am broken and scared and damaged goods, can I please be real with you?”. I’m pretty sure that I would not have been invited back again after that! I didn’t need more people I needed more ME.

So I decided to to confide my problem with a few trusted friends and the outcome (through no fault of theres) was the same as the psychologists. Everyone suggested what they find calming and soothing and they were all activity based.

  • spend time in the kitchen
  • go for a run
  • phone a friend
  • go away for the weekend
  • have your hair done
  • have your nails done

The lists were endless, but again they caused me anxiety, and made me feel more and more different, weird and strange compared to everyone else. I didn’t need a good girls night out, I cook for a large family every meal and I hated it, and my body couldn’t keep up with being on my feet in the kitchen never mind going for a run or a big night out. I have no doubt that they are great things for most other people to do, but for me I was spending too much time and energy trying to do what others do, instead of finding my own safe place and activities, but the problem was that I didn’t know where in my soul to look for it, as it had never been planted there in the first place.

3 Blockages to Self-Care if you were abused…

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 1.58.44 PMSelf care sounds like the most simple thing on earth. And if you were raised in a way that encouraged that (usually without the words “self-care”) then it probably is easy. But for many of us it is the hardest thing in the world. Chidhood abuse of any kind robs us of many basic skills, and one of those vital skills it robs us of is the ability to self care.

Self care is not the ability to dress ourselvs, feed ourselves, or basic hygiene. This is beyond that, it is the ability to healthily nourish and self soothe ourselves in ways that enrich us, recharge our batteries, and keep us safe. For the most part, it is about keeping us from falling down the rabbit hole. It is time out, head space, nurturing… the things that keeps us functioning well. Matt from “Surviving my Past” does a great job of explaining what self care means for a survivor here.

1: Abuse has a powerful emotional element of entrapment. When you grow up in abuse, you know nothing different, and this creates a disconnect between our lives and the lives of the rest of the people around us. Our basic need is to be free of the abuse, and that is all we want. To me growing up I assumed that I was the only miserable broken one, and everyone else out there looks the same; …happy, normal, thriving. … I didn’t get the luxury of learning about other kinds of needs. I didn’t see differences between other people. All I wanted is to be like “them” and I missed a lot of subtleties about discernment, differences and preferences that I would otherwise have learnt if my basic need for safety had been met.

2: All abusers blame their victims, whether overtly or covertly (in my case extremely openly), and it can leave us feeling unworthy and with a false sense of shame. Unworthy of anything good in life, shameful of enjoyment. It can feel subconsciously as though we don’t have the good things because we don’t deserve them, so we don’t try to get them. We don’t deserve breaks, or time out, or to spoil ourselves. I found that I felt so much guilt when doing anything for myself that wasn’t enjoyable or worth it. So I never got to find out what self care even meant for me.

3: As the entrapper, abuser and the blamer, then the last thing that a parent would also be teaching the child, either purposefully or by example, is any self caring skills of ANY kind. I wasn’t taught how to self care, have an opinion or a voice, or even had it modelled to me. It was a completely foreign concept until therapy and even then it took over three years before I could find the smallest thing that would be considered “self care”.

For many years I could not even understand the term. I couldn’t understand the difference between self care and pampering and none of my psychologists explained that because they assumed that I knew what they meant. Discussions on self care caused me huge anxiety and left me feeling as though there was even more wrong with me, and that I was in trouble for not knowing the right answers. If this is you or someone you love, how did you overcome these huge issues that arose way before I could even unpack what Self-Care was for me?

Leapfrogging

img_3342I don’t know whether Leapfrogging is an “actual” word or not, but it is one that I have found that I use a lot the last few years. For me it means that the relationships that work for me are those where I feel that on some level we are equal, and we are good for each other in that we leap frog each other.

One example is the special friend that I often create with on a Tuesday. Apart from the fact that she and her husband take such great care of me one day a week so that I can spend my day creating with her without having to worry about anything else, I love that whenever we spend time together we add to each other’s art and lives. I used to say that she was so much better than me, and she would say the opposite, but we soon realised that what actually happens is that one of us would come up with a good idea, and I am not saying that without the other it would stop there, however we think so alike that the other would build on that spark of an idea and add greatly to it with a new and brilliant idea that expands it. Which then sparks the first person to do the same thing. It is a little like a chain reaction, or leapfrogging over each other until the end result is quite brilliant. It may end there and we pat each other on the back and wish that we could implement it all if we both had the time and energy to do it, but often it actually amounts to something wonderful (and fun if nothing else).

It keeps us brave and adventurous and sometimes those brilliant ideas are complete failures too of course, but it is exciting and uplifting to have someone that I can leapfrog with. This may sound obvious but because I am self taught, love to experiment, and one needs to buy materials from people who are experts in their field (timber from the hardware store, beads from the beading shops and stalls and so on) and those people are usually interested in what their customers are doing, they ask what I am planning and more often than not I get told that it can’t be done. I find that deflating and unhelpful.

When I got to renovate my home a few years ago the first builder that came to give me a quote told me that I couldn’t put a window there because it is an unusual size. The next builder that came to quote answered that he would think about it, and the next day rang with a solution that was both cheaper and more affective. His new idea sparked an inspiration in me for wall behind that window and so on we went… another leapfrogging experiment and I am sure that I don’t need to tell you who got the job.

This is what I love about blogging as apposed to writing a book (which I also love) … there are so many good bloggers out there who inspire me and ignite ideas in me, and I hope that I can do the same for them. I don’t want to be told that I can’t write this or that, I want to write and be inspired and be real and tell the truth as it is. So thank you to those of you out there who I read, who are transparent and real and brave in all kinds of ways…