A Winter Whinge

I’ve been in a rut this week.

After the thrilling burst of productivity that always follows the school holidays – a fantastic two weeks when I took great joy each day in ticking off every item on my task list – things seem to have ground to a halt.

It could be the weather. Lord, this winter feels like it’s never going to end. I wrote a post in early June about how charmed I was by the snow on kunanyi. Eight weeks on, the novelty has worn off.

The season isn’t lasting any longer than normal – not really – but the cold this year has been intense, relentless. It hasn’t been the beautiful crisp cold accompanied by bright sunshine that tempts you out of the house. It’s been mean, damp cold that creeps right into your bone marrow and makes it hard to crawl out of bed in the mornings.

With impeccably bad timing, DorkyDad and I have gone on a forty-day health kick. No booze for me; no booze, bread or processed sugar for him. That means we haven’t been able to bring out our usual winter weapons of Pinot Noir, chocolate biscuits, and hot buttered toast.

Instead, we’ve been drinking tea. Endless cups of tea. Mint tea. Lemon tea. Fennel tea. Rooibos. Rivers of the stuff, so much that I worry we may float right out into the Tasman.

(I’m not saying that doing a winter detox is a terrible idea, but last night I dreamed of eating hot chestnuts by the handful – roasted over a bonfire and doused in salt. Gosh they were delicious.)

I think this week’s feeling – the rut – might also be due to all the waiting. Normally I’m very patient with the ebb and flow of freelance life. I appreciate the quiet spells, knowing that soon enough I’ll be busy and dreaming of a break.

But at the moment, I’m in limbo. I have two essays sitting with editors and I’m waiting to hear if they’re a good fit for publication; I have a grant application in, which I likely won’t hear about until September; I have a submission in for a government tender, timeline unknown; and I’ve got a quote out to a potential new client, waiting to hear if they’re going to hire me for a copywriting job.

It’s strange – unsettling – knowing that in the space of five emails I could have five wins or five losses. I could have an abundance of work, or none. Perhaps five unknowns is my limit, because I’m struggling to put myself out there and search for more opportunities until those responses arrive and provide some certainty about how the coming months might look.

DorkyDad is in a similar position. He has poems sitting in editors’ inboxes, multiple work conversations on the go, and his CV has been sent to several potential clients. But he, like me, has fewer certainties than he is comfortable with. I think we could both do with a professional win to push us through the last weeks of winter.

That said, there have been so many bright spots in our recent weeks, and I am trying to focus on those. I’ve just finished reading The Book of Delights by Ross Gay – a collection of essays he wrote, one every day for a year, about moments that brought him pleasure – and it was a timely reminder that there’s always something worth smiling about.

For DorkySon, those things have included playdates at the park, a basketball workshop, cinema trips, and swimming lessons.

For DorkyDad, it has been the chance to spend time on his creative work. At a very wet and muddy Midwinter Festival, he won the Storytelling Cup for the second time. He was chuffed to bits, and very surprised; but he was even more pleased the next day by the success of the first ever Kids Storytelling event, which he hosted. This weekend, there’s a poetry event at the Republic Bar, and soon after he is involved in the launch of a new Hobart venue – the UndergroundArtBar.

As a family, we have tried hard to put things in the diary and get ourselves out of the house. As well as the usual weekend beach walks and Formula One races, we’ve been to the University Open Day, where DorkySon took extra joy from his Dutch hot chocolate knowing that he wouldn’t have to share it, and to a special Sea Shepherd Beach Clean up. We worked alongside a couple of hundred students from the Chinese Students Association to clean up the areas around Long Beach and Nutgrove on a very blustery day.

For me, winter self-care has meant long walks, coffees with friends, and a few work events that are a good fit with my interests but not too overwhelming for my little introvert brain. I’ve booked in to a panel discussion at Hadley’s next week on the Art of Travel, and a few days after that I’m going to a Digital Marketing workshop run by Jen from Digital Dandy. I’m hoping it will be every bit as enjoyable and educational as the one I went to late last year.

I’m also working with my talented designed buddy Bec from Becksi Design – she did the logo for my copywriting website – to refresh the look of DorkyMum. Much as though I love my hastily cobbled together header image, which has been sitting up there for more than eight years, it feels like time for something that better reflects where we are as a family and where I am as a blogger. I’m looking forward to sharing that with you soon.

After a long, cold winter full of tea and waiting, and waiting and tea, there are finally some signs that change is a-coming. Sunset now is at 5.20pm instead of 4.45. There is a flurry of nest building activity going on in the hedges, and on our daily walk to and from school we have been watching in delight as the buds have turned to blossom. A group of five black cockatoos has moved into the trees over the road – their call is so much softer than the sulphur-crested cockies – and in our own garden we have a bumper crop of lemons ripe for picking.

There are a few weeks left yet before spring is really upon us. But tonight – a very rainy Friday night in Hobart –DorkyDad is working on a pot of chilli, the fire is lit, and the radio is on. DorkySon came home from school this afternoon with a certificate for demonstrating school values. And my pilates session this morning went a long way towards unknotting the achey joints and tight muscles that I’ve caused by hunching against the cold.

This September will mark five winters and six years in Tasmania. I might be in a minor rut, but there is plenty still to celebrate.

4 responses

  1. Dear Ruth, ‘your little introvert brain’ is NO such thing as evidenced by every pen to paper piece we all enjoy reading and for all that know you is most definitely something to celebrate. xx Allegra

  2. You so precisely named the waiting feeling I’ve had since that first exhilarating week following the end of school holidays.

    And your new blog header is rather fresh and wonderful, like an unexpected blossom.

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