What’s baking got to do with it?

I have been in my house for 7 years now, my kitchen window looks out across the valley toward New lynn and Titirangi, in West Auckland. Many a moon have I watched following the universal road over my house, many a red wine have I drunk and conversation had, while the oven performs its duty of making my uncooked dream an edible reality. Family and friends have sat around my table talking idly while the aroma of banana loaf calls loudly, or while cream is whipped into shape for those date crammed scones of goodness. Kids scatter the floor with colour and use the lounge as a gymnastics hall while we all eat, we all breathe and we all try to engage in 5 cross conversations at once* It’s called Multitasking…oh yes I did just reference my prior post…theme emerging*

I tend to bake when I am happy, hungry, tired, energetic, low, have visitors and pretty much any time I find a new recipe. The scrapbooks that line my bookcase are full of 15 years of recipes that I have torn out, printed off or scribbled down, and there is something therapeutic about the art of glue, scissors and paper, combined in a practical way to ensure that I never lose a single one. I liken it to when I was at primary school and had to have the front page of my new books perfect, accompanied by a bubble font title, and colouring in that can only be described as something out of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream coat. My recipe books are far more low key, but a recipe has to be a success in order to be saved from a new smothering of glue and then hidden, never to be made again by the marriage of my mixing bowl and wooden spoon. From truffles to cheesecakes, chocolate tarts to scones, I love to feed the people, and it is one of the true moments where I feel content. It is my meditation, my time out, my hiding place, my soul soother.

The baking journey took real force when boy 1 was born, I was 22 at the time and in a state of young naive bliss as to the path that would take me through to my 30’s. In order to use up the minutes of every day, I would bake while boy 1 made noises in his bouncer on the kitchen bench, and it made me calm, even when I had so little sleep I could crumble into the dark abyss of the earth, while my mind whisked me away to Rarotonga, for a Pina Colada and sex on the beach. This pattern has stayed etched into my ways and I baked my way through my 20’s, as boy 1 grew he began to help, distributing flour throughout the house with pride that he had been my right hand man* Now as a 14 year old he inhales Afghans and Anzac biscuits, and it feels like my heart smiles as my boy becomes a man, but is still my baby. Boy 2 however is the one I ‘manage’ while I bake and by the time the goods are ready, the lounge is untraversable, foil and baking paper are now kitchen sound effects on the floor, and somehow he has found soap boxes or tampons, a tray of eggs or his bum cream, and has expressed his creative side by using all found products in unison. Boy 2 is quite literally a power house of Cornish strength, weight, volume and speed, therefore my day is dictated by risk assessed activities. Like some sort of OSH, (Occupational Health & Safety) regulated law, I sort out all possible secure sights to fill the days, accompanied by fresh muffins or a packed lunchbox…food and fun are the answer for any toddler outing equaling success*

While I romance the notion of my baked goodness filling stuffers, and picnics with my boys, the flip side is this..food is my love and my demon, always has been. I have been thin to the point of looking ill, eating only eggs salmon and salad, overweight to the point of resembling a puffer fish, eating carbs and cakes, and every weight in between…the struggle, as we say these days, is REAL. The icing in the cake is this.. I never felt good about my body not matter how small I became, in the mirror I was always fat, the scales were never a small enough number, I would weigh myself several times a day to see what food or drink had the most impact. Basically I had an eating disorder, or should I say I do…I just swing from one extreme to the other, and trying to find that happy medium emotionally, psychologically and physically is a daily battle. My mind self argues and I am a Gemini so it’s bad enough as it is! I can wake up and think I want to fit my jeans so I eat an apple and make homemade soup. I can also wake up and think I want to fit my jeans, but I am exhausted so I eat chocolate and drink coffee and drink coffee and drink coffee.

I can see that my context is a powerful influence, I use food to either starve or drown the moments of feeling isolated and invisible in this ‘stay at home mum’ gig.  I am a social creature by nature so when I have an adult conversation I am all in, talking so fast that I make no sense at times, trying to get a weeks worth of thoughts and ideas out of my mouth in ten minutes. Therefore the moment I am out of the house and being an adult in the world, I feel more in control and order is reinstated, I eat better, I am happier, I am kinder and more tolerant of everyone and everything. Food along with other aspects of my life do not feel like they are controlling me, brownie isn’t inhaled but savoured, resulting in a sense of pride and renewed confidence because somehow that muffin top is smaller and I have a kick ass ‘lets grab life, drink some Tequila and dance my bitches” attitude, which I have to admit leads to a cup of tea at 9pm accompanied by Pj’s, Ugg boots and ‘Call the Midwife‘ on the Telly, but hey the intention is there in my mind at least!

I am assuming this is resonating with some of you right now, if Playgroup conversations are anything to go by, (my adult injection for the week), there is plenty of chocolate talk and nervous anticipation for the coffee to be ready, and desperate peeks to see who is providing sweet sweet morsels of joy for morning tea!

So me being an avid baker has two faces, the ‘eat my addictive caramel goodness’ and the ‘I want to fill the house with homely waftings of beautiful cakes that make people smile and feel satisfied’, the second makes me feel proud and happy so that can’t be too bad an apple to eat. So to move forward I am making changes and have been for a while now, exploring the world of paleo..vegan..raw..sugar alternatives..gluten alternatives, (already in hand), and concocting my own variant in the middle ground between hard core health and mainstream Edmonds*

My baking makes people happy..makes me happy..makes my place in the world feel more real and warranted. Life is a giant discovery and most importantly it is the people we encounter, the impact we make, whether it be loud or quiet, and the memories associated with all we have met. I like the fact that I am in others memories, for whatever reason, because I am part of a moment in their life, forever entwined and remembered. I am still known as the lady who left baked goods at peoples door, when I lived in the Far North of NZ with boy 1 a littly. So maybe this is part of my legacy..the key is to balance out the baking with the consuming, and to evenly distribute the fare to all hips not just mine. I swear I only have to look at bread and my thighs grow an inch. So here’s to the aroma of a house ready to burst with fresh apple pie, steaming coffee and people I love, to realising my limits of consumption and to forgive myself my weaknesses as well as holler my strengths…balance balance balance it’s harder than we think x

All this reminds me of one of my favourite movies, Stranger than Fiction*

 

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Discos in the 90’s..

You have been shopping with your mum to find THAT outfit..the one that screams I am unique, but not weird, I am up with fashion, but not quite rocking M.C.Hammer styles, I am confident but not cocky, and most of all this outfit will finally make the popular boy in school notice me, with gold light haloing my ginger head while he ponders our going steady status…first thing Monday morning (at morning tea).

It was indeed 1991, I had my new striped shorts with a shortish white cutoff T, my hair was half up half down (risky), and I was ready for that school hall full of boys, music and sport bottles of fizz, in crates no less* It is in this moment that I can feel myself back in the body of that awkward 11 year old, desperate to make her mark but too scared to ask any questions, step over any lines or ask out any boys, and move in a way that resembles dance. Lets just say that 90% of the disco turn out were doing the side to side shuffle, while the group of confident cocky popular boys, were rocking out the running man, and the running man, and the running man to the soundtrack of Vanilla Ice, as we the girls, watched on in fascination while looking disinterested at the same time…total skill* So a few shuffles into the night and with a nervous possum light gaze secured upon my face, I walk across the room to buy a cola, wondering if my butt wobbles too much, if my socks are too high, or if my every step is being analysed by the row of people I have to walk past, in order to get to the tuck shop. Here I hand over my 50cent sweat swimming coin, take my cola, then heaven forbid open and drink the bloody thing looking poised, cool and…shit I have no one standing beside me anymore* Cue floor open…jump…hide…tap my new shoes, home home home*

And while my discos should have ideally looked like this..

Disco

ink361.com

…they actually were more like this (ignoring that this pic is from the 50’s),

disco shy

www.gettyimages.com

those giggling girls and macho boys all trying to find their way through hormones, growing boobs, sweat and hair in new places..how do we all manage this mind warping time of our lives.

What amazes me the most is the music I remember more vividly than anything from pivotal points throughout my life…Pour some sugar on me (age 9 @ primary school), Ice Ice baby accompanied by the running man (age 11), Know your enemy (age 14 first pair of Doc’s), Have you really ever loved a woman (age15..boyfriend 1), Funk soul brother (age 19…art school), MIA paper planes (age 30 recently divorced, in town, tequila shots). Our lives are soundtracks that are on shuffle, any of these potent tracks play, we are transported straight back to that memory of time, held in our consciousness with all the associated goods, like an automatic reflex* In this we can never escape memory, we can move past it but not away from it, there will always be a song, a boy, a girl, a place, a beach, a first kiss, that is at home in our being, and jumps out from time to time to give us a jolt. Some of these jolts are as uncomfortable as that disco hall and others feel like a warm shiver, tantalising and familiar.

When I was 15 I went to my first school ball with my first real boyfriend, I was so badass as he was 19, had a job and a car and was about to go flatting. I was a shy ginga afro geek, but rocking my black Doc Martens with my ball dress. Weirdly I have absolutely no memory of the event, like a sambuca infused night I went, I danced, I spoke, I went home….I woke up and thought what happened* I can only explain it as fear and excitement driving my memory to the nether regions of my mind, as I went into auto pilot and came out the other side! Ahh those were the days of such all consuming joy taking over the body along with hormonal sensations and first love* Love songs till midnight and sneaking packs of cigarettes to be popular, Pearl Jam concerts and Michael J Fox movies. I loved the freedom I felt (but didn’t really have), the risks I took, the boredom of long weekends and the chocolate raisins I ate and tea I drank when I got home from a late shift at St Lukes and hopped into bed to watch Felicity on a Friday night at 930 :)…the world was turning and I was spinning..still am, just in the body of a 36 year old with a few grey hairs making a regular guest appearance.

Anyway..having graduated from Discos to Balls to Concerts in the space of the 90’s was a mammoth effort and what I really didn’t get until I was 25, were all the potential opportunities missed through fear of blushing or asking the wrong question (equaling humiliation), that would actually kill me right there as I stood…no jokes. My body therefore got me through my teenage life at high school, my brain was in there somewhere too on auto pilot, as my shy demeanor made me easy target ‘A’ as the bullying and shame that came with high school worsened. I persevered..I wanted to be an artist so focused on my painting and listened to my art teachers, spent hours in the darkroom where I bought to life what I saw through my lens and was truly happy in those moments of me, (and by the by did NOT attend any more school related ‘dances’). At 17 I started my Arts Degree and the so called daily Disco in this world was something else all together..Mohawks, Studded collars, Nick Cave wannabes, Feral beings living on rice, Tech savvy jargon loving gurus, all coming together to drink, smoke and use language they didn’t understand in order to make a statement and be crowned the most ‘ARTY’. The disco here was one you weren’t invited too it just was..everyday, in a different looking hall with different looking people, sitting on grungy couches wearing painting dungarees* I was introduced to Bfm, The Chemical Brothers,  Daft Punk, Che Fu, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley and Patti Smith, and I was content in my studio absorbing sounds from afar,  anonymous and happy while no one watched.

So here’s to all of us who have been there, conquered or survived, coming out the other side to do the same in adult life…now this is many ways is more daunting than that disco, we move out of home, pay bills, are accountable, try to make relationship work, and career and children. So lets remember that someone watching or not, just dance and this track may just be the potion you needed prescribing*

Daft Punk-Lose yourself to dance*

Jess*

To multitask is to cope…

What is multitasking? It is the way you can tie your shoes and your child’s in unison, juggle 4 different means of technology while holding a half conversation, eating on your lap while sewing a kids uniform back together, working while socialising with your colleague and checking your bank account for those all important $$$, cooking with a babe at your hip, having the washing on and checking English homework.

Breathe.

I pride myself on being a mean multitasker and in reality most of us are, but the way in which we multitask changes, along with the context of our lives. It is the only way I cope with the dawn to dusk waking hours in my house, and I wish at times I had a day to manage nothing but my bath, a coffee and the ability to listen to sweet sweet music full volume, that doesn’t sound like this dude Old MacDonald and his EIEIO farm, (complete with seal, donkey and elephants c/o me).

The truth is I am out of my comfort zone and trying to manage the best I can, however dealing with two children and two home businesses takes its toll. Netflix, WordPress and the car are my best friends at present. The handy swift takes me and the kids out into the world, providing a safe capsule that my toddler cannot escape from, while I inhale a muffin and absorb my caffeine, then high tail it off to a fenced playground or Nana’s house, where I do not have an anxiety attack over all the housework and the newly designed playdoh carpet. This last sentence spells out alot, the fact that I have anxiety, that I struggle with a mess (clogs up my brain), and that I feel like I need to escape in order to feel a little peace. Life with children is just bloody hard, plain and simple, and to escape this is pointless. Regardless of how much we can juggle we all fall sometimes and fly sometimes and I am on a steep learning curve with this one.

This is how I imagined life to be in 2016..472275811

and this is how it actually is..

funny-parenting-cartoons-mom-hurrah-for-gin-katie-kirby-44__700

 

So as I still envisage myself to be a zen multitasking mother that embraces all light positivity and patience, I will settle for knowing that everyone is fed, warm, loved and alive the next day pulling me out of bed to watch Peppa pig, feed me left over toast and shit in their pants just as I am ready to walk out the door for school drop. It is bliss on a stick, and I wouldn’t change it for Jane Austen….ok maybe for a few hours.

As I started this piece I thought lets Wiki* and came up with this article that speaks volumes to my radar of familiarity, Why Multitasking is killing your brain…I am screwed. I fall into all these categories of small frequent tasks and neural addictive qualities…hence my sentences when spoken outloud are often a product of dyslexic mumble which is highly entertaining for the person trying to make a little English out of the mess. So the exert goes;

“This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification.This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton, when we’re really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking). In fact, some even refer to email/Twitter/Facebook-checking as a neural addiction.” Larry Kim, Founder and CTO, WordStream.

Considering I am mother to a toddler I feel that I fall into the ‘small tasks=frequent gratification=happy mum’ category, who is very ok with a little dopamine fix. The idea that we actually achieve less when trying to achieve more rings pretty true, think about the washing that sits in the machine toooo long…the coffee never drunk as you pull out those weeds…the bath overflowing while you cook dinner…cracks me up that I actually create more stress by trying to create less 🙂

It seems to be the human condition that every time one part of your life seems to be jamming to its own sweet multitasking self, another is going to reveal itself in all its stressful glory, almost as if we are prewired to create more work, more drama, more more more everything. I am on a mission to return to the former glory of my cup of tea days, where I allow more, I forgive more,  I look more and create more, and in doing so reach that beautiful point of never ending discovery quietly calling my name.

Jess*

http://www.jkmade.co.nz

Please leave comment or add to the discussion**

Social awkwardness is everywhere

We are beings of such social awkwardness, at times I wonder how we ever meet anyone and keep them at our side long enough to be promoted to ‘friend’. Bus stops, parks, supermarkets, post shops, coffee kiosks, school trips, bus rides, family reunions, takeaways, public toilets…making eye contact is a conundrum, and in general I feel that people are afraid to hold a gaze for fear of what it may reveal, or may imply. We tend to use phones now to avoid, suspending us in a techno bubble that doesn’t need to answer to anyone or anything in that moment, we are at one with our guise. Yet we are all lonely, we  seek validation, we crave love in every capacity, but time after time we are seduced into a false expectation that we must either avoid connection for fear that the other person does not want the attention, or fill the space of the awkwardness created by it. So lets be a little more patient, with ourselves and others. I know I have in the past disregarded people too quickly, assuming that they offer nothing more than that 1 bad joke, that sideways smile or the writers block that comes after the ‘how are you?’. I am however one of these people too, I can come across ditzy, flippant, dismissive, quiet and withdrawn so why should I expect so much more from others…just last night I was taking to a friend about my wanting to find another ‘Angel’. To elaborate, Angel owns a piece of my heart, she is my best friend, my diary post, my confidant, my laugh, my quirk, the pea to my pod* and we met on the first day of Primary school back in 2007. It was one of those moments where I was waiting for that parent to walk in to the room with a presence that intrigued, and there she was, hair in pig-tales with stripey knee high socks complete with red crocs…she was rocking it and needless to say we latte’d our way through those Primary years. She embraced my quirks, my self doubt, my family, my need to create, my ass(et)…still a sore point sometimes, but to quote her it went a little like  “you gotta get that bad boy out more often”, so I did. The point however is that there is only one of her and to seek someone similar is not fair, I am trying to fill a gap created by her move across that body of water to Australia, and now here I am with a toddler in an isolated life wanting to connect with someone who will listen to all the ins and outs and vice versa, to feel that light bulb moment of gotcha**

I have had more awkward conversations about the weather than any other subject in my life, washing probably come in second place. Then there are the pull up a chair this is about to get interesting moments, where you are in the mix of some deep and meaningfuls encompassing relationship, sex, babies, cleavage, butt size, hair, life’s purpose and how much caffeine produces heart palpitations, seducing everyone into a potential caffeine detox regime, then promptly ordering another flat white. These conversations are prescribed goodness that jump you back into the reality that everyone is going through something, we are all fragile, we all have doubts, and it is here that I believe if we can just pause and observe and take a punt of a potential coffee date or playgroup committee meeting, that we will find something…what that is I am still discovering, but as long as I am open to it, it has to be a purebred winner*

So I will take my own advice and some of others too, put them in my pocket and walk on down to the coffee shop and see what happens, social awkwardness in itself can be a huge shove up the jacksie to embrace the terrifying and reap the rewards…

and just to clarify…

Jacksie is Cockney Rhyming Slang.
It means backside, bottom, arse…
The word comes from : Jacksie = Jack and Danny = Fanny.
It’s not a synonym for fanny though.
You can shove your Sony PSP right up your jacksie
by Argun August 04, 2006

 

So here’s to the scary, change your outfit 10 times nervewracking walk out the door voyage, that is yourself in this world of others*

Jess**

P.S If all else fails have a shot of tequila*

sociallyy-awkward

 

 

 

Why I am here..

I need this space to fill a void of sorts, a chasm of unwritten words and emotions, sensations, suggestions and curiosities left untold, unheard. In the hectic mix of time I have given my voice and energy to my young children and it is now that I re-emerge into my own life, my own voice and from time to time dance again a little*

I have had many phases in life and by using this blog, I wish to re visit old phases and observe and live new ones. I find that as my numbers increase by the year, there are parts of myself that I wish to keep and embrace a little more, and others that I can happily recognise, discard and move right along, contented. Whether this be a judgement once held, or friends I have met and shared a brief encounter, the self loathing and self pity, the unconscious behaviour, or the sheer joy of dancing, tequila, friends that are never going anywhere, the babies I have made and the Mum and artist that I strive to be. We all experience life, we are all made up of the same atoms that can shine or fade as we wish, our mind is fragile and strong as we traverse our unique suspended state of emotion and memory. So I am starting a new relationship here, with myself and you, the reader.

When I gave birth to my second son 2 years ago I went down the rabbit hole and lost my life compass, N.S.E.W were all intrinsically linked to being a milk factory, a vitamin merchandiser, a poo wiper and spew recipient, a laundromat, a smiling /singing /cheek aching actor, in order to maintain a happy thriving new person. I didn’t go outside for 3 weeks, I sat on my derrière for so long, (didn’t get any smaller though), showered…um well lets say the wet wipe wash comes in very handy and should be added to the Oxford dictionary – Wet Wipe Wash; what parents do in the first 6 months of having a baby when desperate, in order to maintain hygiene standards and general sanity.

Most of all I fell in love and in guilt like a hurricane, and constantly had to check what day it was, if I was feeding right, swaddling correctly, cuddling too little, too much, how do I love everyone all at once, how can I listen to every conversation and actually respond in a way that sounds English, and how do I just let go of all the self expectation. All in all I was a Mum at home with a small being relying on me to love and function, and every time the plunket lady came or a relative came over to give advice or criticise, I would simply do as stated below…

Higher Perspective
‘Higher Perspective’

Which is basically my advice to all Mums in order to live as best you can in order to keep the baby ship sailing.

So enough with the heavy and lets get to business as I crawl back to my life..independent of children..and take my 36 years to a whole new level. This is my re awakening and a promise to myself that I would give writing a go. At present my day is literally full of terms like, tags, slugs, posts, pages, categories, SEO’s, URL’s and several blah blah blah’s that will form reality and context in my brain, just not right at this minute*

I am on a mission to speak my piece, as I know that through that first year of baby life with boy 2, I yearned for a real point of view, a cup of tea with a friend, a social injection, the joke of a stranger, or the smile of the dairy owner up the road. All in all..something real with no hint of judgement or sideways glance.

So pull up a coffee and lets meet once a week to have a conversation*

Word porn.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jess*