The A to Z of anxiety

A is for Anxiety you bloody unhelpful bastard.

B is for By the way, did you turn off the iron?

C is for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy because it works – kind of.

D is for Did you turn off the gas you think as you board that plane for a two-week overseas holiday.

E is for Eyes wide open in the middle of the night because you think you heard someone trying to break in but in reality it was just a possum on the roof.

F is for Fuck your brain is exhausted thinking about what can go wrong but never what might go right.

G is for Go to sleep you weirdo, you probably won’t die during the night.

H is for Help – ask for it.

I is for It – dealing with “it” is a lifelong challenge.

J is for Jesus, you wish, you wish, you wish you didn’t jump at non-existent shadows.

K is for Keeping it together – most of the time.

L is for Love is a person who accepts that you have to check all the power points at least twice before leaving the house.

M is for Madam, are you sure you shut the front door?

N is for No thank you, you’re not over-reacting, they really could have been run over by a steamroller on their way to your house when they’re really just running five minutes late.

O is for Over-thinking full stop.

P is for Panic attacks that masquerade as heart attacks and so you learn at 33 you have anxiety.

Q is for Quite certain that you shut the garage door are you?

R is for Ready to jump to the worst conclusions at any given moment.

S is for Slowly learned how to stop doing most of the above and below.

T is for Time for a cider and perhaps another one (or two) to get some pissed semblance of peace.

U is for Understanding and accepting that this is who you are – anxiety warts and all.

V is for Very grateful to have it mostly under control… most of the time.

W is for Worrying about everything – regardless of the chances of it ever happening.

X is for Xanax, which thankfully you’ve never had to take thanks to CBT, running, weights, surfing – and anything else that gets the endorphins pumping in a good way.

Y is for You only live once and so if this is your lot, well, so be it.

Z is for Zzz’s when the din of the day – and the humming inside your head – finally quietens and you fall asleep… unless those bloody possums are on the roof again and you think it’s a cat burglar.


The great tampon hunt

On Thursday I became a business owner and I ran out of tampons.

You’re probably wondering how those two things are connected, but I’m guessing that anyone who has set up a business knows the answer.

You see, for the past two years I’ve worked as a freelance writer but – as the reduction in the number of these blogs proves – demand was far exceeding supply.

I only have one set hands and one mostly pretty good brain.

Now that’s a good problem to have but, like anyone else who’s been a freelancer, if I was sick, I couldn’t work, and if I couldn’t work, I didn’t get paid.

Plus, it is a pretty lonely gig. I had an open door policy to my study, but no one ever walked through it but my housemate or my lover.

So I spent many months cajoling one of my mates – who’s also an awesome journo and writer – to quit his job and set up shop with me.

I finally wore him down and a few months ago we started quietly to hatch a plan.

But something weird has happened to the hours in every day.

I’ve learned very quickly that start ups are more like: Chat to my business partner; do some work; have a meeting with the lawyer; chat to my business partner; do some work; have a meeting with the accountant; chat to my business partner; do some work; speak to the web designer; chat to my business partner; sign some tax documents; do some work; go to sleep. Do it all again tomorrow.

You see over the past two years I’d forgotten about meetings – not with clients – but the types of meetings with people like lawyers and accountants that seem to last forever and not achieve much but chew up the hours you could be working, you know, on stuff that makes you money.

Oh, of course, that’s because they charge hourly.

But back to the tampons…

You see as a peri menopausal woman, my need for tampons waxes and wanes with, well, the moon.

Some months I don’t need any. Other times, I need ones the size of sheep.

Yesterday was one of those days when I was neck-deep in some type of administrative hell when I realised that it was also one of those days when I needed one.

The thing is, I haven’t really done any shopping all week – and even if I had, tampons would probably not have been on my non-existent list.

Who needs food when you’re launching a business?

So, I looked in the bathroom cupboard to find it was bare. Then I tried my new handbag and the result was the same.

Then I tried my handbag before my new handbag –  because you don’t ever really throw away the old ones do you – and also it was a tampon-free zone.

I remembered about the handbag I had before the old one so I hunted through that like a wild peri menopausal woman. Nada.

I tried my toilet bag, then my three different-sized suitcases, which only held remnants of holidays that now seemed like a very long time ago.

Now never did I once consider walking the five minutes to the shop on the corner because, of course, there was too much work to do.

Then, like some brand-new business owner gift from the universe I found one solitary tampon in a long forgotten bag under my bed.

Then I noticed that in the lounge hung washing that had been there for three days and that the salad in the fridge was actually six days old.

My phone was also alight with text messages and voicemails from various friends that I had forgotten to reply to – some for the best part of a week.

In one of our 29 phone calls to each other every day, I told my business partner about my tampon fiasco this morning – as you do.

He replied that while he’d never had to hunt for tampons for himself, he did forget to wake up his wife and children this morning because he was too busy working.

So, while we start making plans to expand our business six months earlier than we anticipated, I guess the moral of this story is that if you’re starting a business make sure you buy tampons and an alarm clock.

And maybe a six-pack or two to celebrate at the end of your first week. That’s essential.

An overdue ode to fathers

I realised recently that in 107 blogs over nearly six years, I’ve written very little about my father.

I was a little embarrassed at this because, you know, he’s been my Dad for 45 years now so surely I should have devoted more words to him than I have?

It’s not that I haven’t written about him during my 40 years as a writer, but these past few years not so much.

I sat with that and then I had an epiphany – of sorts.

You see, my Dad has always been there for me in a calm, kind, and stable manner. Yet, he also has a wondrous capacity for joy, as I do, too.

No massive emotional upheavals have ever been a part of our relationship – perhaps because I’m more like him than I’m not.

But since we haven’t lived in the same country for more than half my life now, our relationship has mostly been over the phone.

In fact, Dad says I should write a book called “Conversations with my Father” because of the thousands of hours we’ve spent talking about everything and “solving the world’s problems”.

I know I was lucky to have been born to parents who taught us that we could achieve anything we wanted.

He’s always had my back and I know he’s proud of what I’ve achieved.

Although I’m not sure he enjoyed reading my book called Shag Buddies – but I did try to warn him…

Not that he listened because he can also be a “little” stubborn from time to time, too. He actually sounds like someone I know who might be writing this story.

I’m no saint and nor is my father but he has always loved me for who I am, regardless of whether he approved of some of my questionable decisions in my misspent youth – and adulthood, too.

I can’t recall him ever raising his voice with me, even when I clearly deserved it, and I can’t recall him ever being anything but upfront and honest with me. A child (and an adult) like me always needed that.

My boyfriend (yes, I do have one of those now and maybe I’ll write about him one day) has two daughters with one now reaching those tricky teenage years where she doesn’t want to hang with her Dad as much as she once did.

Of course, he is bereft, and while I can’t help with any parental advice, I do remember being a teenage girl of a divorced father.

I try to placate him with the knowledge that girls will always need their Dads, even if temporarily it appears they don’t, because I know I still do and I’m now, gulp, middle aged.

My best friend’s Dad died earlier this year and he, like my father, was a very gentle man. Unlike my Dad, who loves a good chat, he was a man of few words but those words were always golden.

We all miss him very much.

But his passing made me realise what a blessing it is, and was for her, too, to be born to fathers who were calm and authentic, and who choose kindness over aggression.

These past few years, as you know, my emotional heartbeat was focused on losing Mum to Alzheimer’s, which I guess is why I haven’t written about Dad much now I think about it.

Writers write about things that make their hearts sing or cry after all. Not so much the people in the background who quietly keep them on the straight and narrow without them knowing it.

All the while, though, he was there to take my tearful, and sometimes drunk, phone calls when I struggled in the beginning to accept what was happening to my mother.

When Mum was finally diagnosed, it was him that I called – even though they have been divorced for decades.

He silently listened to my snot-infused ramblings and has continued to be my regular sounding board as her illness continues year after year.

I know that even though their time together was almost a lifetime ago, he has also grieved for the woman who is the mother of his three children.

And he has remembered, through long-lost photos now found, a beautiful young woman who entered his life as a teenager and who didn’t deserve the ending that life has handed her.

In fact, the past few years have made me admire my father anew, hence this long overdue ode.

He’s always been a good man and he married a woman who became the World’s Best Stepmother.

A daughter can’t ask for anything more than that.