Category Archives: Rambling and Opinion

Christmas Gift Guide

 

Books

Books.

Wander round your local independent book store; or huge Waterstones; or order some huge collections from The Book People; or whatever.

And if you don’t know what someone is interested in, book tokens are fab too.

Suitable for any age and any gender.

Just buy books.

Executive Function

Trigger warning: depressed thoughts

I’m struggling with life at the moment. I’m sick of feeling depressed and anxious, and I want to make little achievements that I know will improve my life. But I can’t seem to work out how to do it.

It’s not that I don’t know the theory, I just have a huge mental block on action. I want to live in a tidier house. The mess depresses me so much. I don’t want a show home, or minimalism, or anything Instagram or Pinterest worthy (I Instagram my mess anyway, but I’m odd). I just want tidier. Less crap.

I’ve written lists. I’ve broken tasks into tiny bits. I’ve sketched room layouts. I’ve categorised the “stuff”. I’ve thrown everything on floor and surfaces into bags in the garage so there’s less to deal with in the house.

I’ve stared into space. I’ve read novels. I’ve taken up doodling. I’ve completed Plants vs Zombies. I have a level 7 town hall in Clash of Clans. I’m on level 170-something on Candy Crush Soda Saga. I sleep during the day. I cry. I rock.  I procrastinate. I perseverate.

I know I waste hours and hours but I’ve forgotten how to live. I feel like I’ve done it all so many times before that trying again is pointless. Life is pointless.

I’ll try again. Of course I will. I always will. I’ll look for my diary/planner and break the tasks up again. I’ll get there. I have to get there.

I wish I knew where there was.

Day Four in the October Blogging House…

I will blog every day, but they won’t necessarily be coherent. I almost wrote a rant today about (yet another) hate page on Facebook, and I may still write it but my brain isn’t really up for thinking about it right now.

So today’s post will be a random steam of consciousness thing, whilst trying to ignore how I’m actually feeling as usual because I don’t want to go there.

I almost wrote blogtober in the heading but I think that’s an actual thing. No idea what it is our what prompts (if any) it has. I try to do those something-a-day prompts because I like the idea but there’s always things that are so utterly irrelevant to me. And I’m rubbish at doing things that I find irrelevant.

I was like it at school. And I think I was right. There was no point learning the bulk of things that were covered because I have forgotten them through never needing them, and the things I taught myself were more interesting.

So when my children don’t want to do homework, I agree with them. Is there really any point in arguing and causing animosity with a child just because some people have a “I had to do it so they should to” attitude?

Not that I think children should do whatever they want. There’s a difference between trusting a child’s intrinsic motivation and not caring at all.

I can’t conform. I don’t want to confirm. The world is making me feel very cross at the moment, and wishing that I was and different species.

I found a note in one of the papers I kept from my childhood, signed many years ago, saying I resigned from being human. So technically I’m not, because I resigned more than half a life ago 😉

But I still feel like I’m doing everything wrong. The decisions I’ve made were wrong. I don’t trust myself. I’m the broken one. It’s not an easy way to live a life.

Pinch Punch…

Some neat and tidy looking shelves to show that baby steps have been happening in the Chaos household.

Some neat and tidy looking shelves to show that baby steps have been happening in the Chaos household.

It’s October. Insert inane comments about how fast the year is flying past again. Three quarters of 2015 at an end, and I still find years starting with ’20’ a novelty but in a decade I’ll have lived the same time in the 21st century as the 20th. Assuming I’m still around, of course. I do assume I’ll still be alive at 50. With two teenage daughters. Eek.

It seems as good a month as any to try to do a blog a day. At least 31 posts from now until the 31st either on here or Chaos Castle, scheduled to appear once a day (or written last minute most likely).

It seems a good month because I’ve already written that I want to write more, and do more, and be more. Whatever more is.

It seems a good month because Jax has just opened the idea of a creative circle and getting back to proper blogging is my challenge, one I’ve been failing for about eighteen months now. That and decluttering, which I’ve been failing at for forty years 😉

It seems a good month because (shh, don’t jinx it) I’ve been mostly feeling okay this week. I’ve got a couple of small tasks done. Small, tiny, baby steps. I’m trying not to push myself too fast so I don’t collapse again. Little by little…

So all in all it seems like a good month. Maybe some of the 35 posts in draft might actually get finished. Maybe that huge review pile might get a bit dented. Maybe I’ll manage to keep on getting things done little by little.

Maybe.

It’s as good a month as any 🙂

Insert Catchy Blog Title Here

Doodle #2 🙂

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@chaoscastleuk) on

I had some lovely comments after my last post, which I really should have replied to (sorry, I really do appreciate them all), and it made me think. Comments along the lines of “sorry you feel like this at the moment” – but I think my moment has been the last ten years. That’s quite a long moment to have.

Okay, so I can’t help being ill, and I can’t change the years of being undiagnosed autistic spectrum, but the whole of my thirties have mostly been a write off – and that includes getting married and having two children, which are supposed to be some of the happiest days of my life.

Not that I’ve spent a decade being miserable all the time, but often fogged over and fracturing. And I’ve been thinking about the blog posts I write in my head every day, and how it might help me if I get them onto (virtual) paper.

So my plan is to commit to one Chaos Castle and one Child-Led Chaos post every week. I could write on here most days, even though I love writing about books it takes longer so one a week to start with until I get into practise.

Feel free to nudge me if I don’t get anything up. I could write about that doodle at the top for a start…

 

Wedding Shoes

weddingshoes

One of the (many) female stereotypes I don’t fit into is a love of shoes. I just don’t get it. Shoes should be flat, comfortable, and worn until they’re full of holes.

I compromised on our wedding day, and bought one inch heeled ivory silk shoes. “You need proper heels,” I was told. “I don’t want to fall over,” I replied.

By the time of the wedding breakfast, after wearing them for a few hours, my feet were thoroughly uncomfortable and I ditched the shoes under the table during the meal and went barefoot (tight-footed?) for the rest of the day.

The picture above sums up our wedding for me. Mr Chaos getting to be James Bond for the night, and neither of us completely conforming to other people’s expectations (although I still think we were too conventional really…)

I Should Be Doing Something Else

No matter what I’m actually doing, I always feel I should be doing something else. If I’m decluttering, I should be cleaning. If I’m reading, I should be reviewing. If I’m walking, I should be doing the laundry. If I’m putting the clothes away, I should be tidying the lounge floor. If I’m sweeping the kitchen, I should be cooking dinner…

The problem with all these conflicting thoughts is that my brain just freezes and can’t decide what to do. I can’t do everything, so which things should I prioritise? I want it all done already, and if I schedule I get stressed by the length of the list.

I spend far too many hours starting at walls, or playing inane games on my phone. If I’d walked in all that wasted time, the house would still be a mess but I’d be fitter.

And I’d still feel guilty about the mess.

I’m still processing my autism diagnosis (autism spectrum condition, not Aspergers, although I assume I’m Aspergers) and trying to work out methods that will work for me. I have spoon limitations (look up spoon theory if that makes no sense) and now I know I also have executive function limitations, I can’t follow a scheme that might work for thousands of other people. I need a way of decluttering and organising that actually works for me. I need to get rid of the backlog of mess and have time to have a life again.

And I really need to write all those book reviews I have in my head. Sigh.

Sneak Peek at New Book Blog

It’s World Book Day (UK)! I love WBD, especially the £1 books. As a parent, WBD dressing up can be a stress, but so far I’ve not been asked for any exotic outfits. This morning my daughters have gone in as Ottoline (home clothes, odd shoes) and Cinderella’s fairy godmother (fairy dress over home clothes)!

As it is world book day, and I’m bursting to share this anyhow, I thought I’d give you a geeky sneaky peeky at Chaos Castle…

ChaosCastle

Chaos Castle is home to lots of lovely books, predominately illustrated books (but I’ll stretch that definition to ‘just’ an illustrated cover if I feel like it!) It will only showcase our favourite books (that still means a lot of books!) and aims to cover all age ranges.

I’m starting from scratch, so all reviews will be new, so it won’t be huge at first but I’m planning to add our old favourites alongside new ones. The reason I’m not ready to launch is because there is virtually no content up yet, and I haven’t given myself a deadline…

This is a geeky sneaky peeky because I want to talk about what I’ve been doing behind the scenes. Firstly, there is my amazing illustrator, Wellington Drawe (Duncan Wilson), who is creating a world for me to populate. Without him, Chaos Castle would not exist.

Secondly, there are my theme alterations. I’m on WordPress, and I chose the Mantra free theme because it gave me the look I wanted plus is so easy to customise without going anywhere near the code.

There are a few customisations that weren’t offered in the (extensive) options so I created a child theme to play with the CSS and PHP. I know very little about CSS and PHP. PHP has been the easiest part for me to alter, because there are plenty of online references and I come from a programming background. CSS has been a nightmare, and I still haven’t managed to get it to do what I want yet!

Some of the customisations I’ve added are:

  • Different headings for category archives, depending on parent category. e.g. if the parent category is ‘ages’, the header will be “Books suitable for AgeRange”
  • Different headings for tag archives, depending on tag slug. e.g. if a tag is defined as a publisher (which I set in the tag slug), the header will be “Books Published by PublisherName”
  • Added curved boxes for tags, with different colours depending on tag type (e.g. Publisher, Creator, Theme)
  • Format of review page (which I’m currently tearing my hair out over getting the CSS to do what I want!)

SneakPeek

The image above is a sneak-peek of how part of the front page and archive pages might look. Chaos Castle is home to various book-loving characters 🙂

Technically Chaos Castle is live, but I’m making constant changes and using temporary images in many places so I’m not linking to it yet. I’m very excited about my project, and I hope you will enjoy it too. It is a vanity project I guess, but also a thank-you to the wonderful people who create the books we enjoy.

Thank-you for letting me gush, and Happy World Book Day (UK)! 🙂

2014 in First Lines

Again inspired by Annabel’s House of Books, a retrospective of the year’s blogging. Not that you can see last year’s any more because it’s set to private. As are 245 posts of the probably-twice-as-many that I removed in February when I had a bit of a crash. So some of these first lines are from the still-published posts, rather than the actual first posts…

January: Another year, a new set of stats! (Our Week in Books #1)

February: Oops, we seem to have acquired a lot of new books this week! (Our Week in Books #5)

March: It’s March. (Our Week in Books #9)

April: The plan today was to add books to Goodreads that aren’t there so I can update my picture books read list properly, take a photo of the books I’m going to giveaway for #300PBs and update Monday’s post at last, and write an update here of all the decluttering and tidying I’ve done in the last two weeks, with pictures. (Our Week in Books #14)

May: It’s almost like the Hoo’s Kids Book Fest programme has been made for the Chaos household. (Who’s At Hoo’s?)

June: This is a wonderful idea from Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins. (#BookADayUK Favourite Book from Childhood)

July: I haven’t blogged much for a long while it feels, and I’m still working out whether I’m going to return to diary blog or just write about books all the time, but writing is therapy so please indulge my rambles. (July Update)

August: It’s August already, and I haven’t finished June’s #bookadayuk. (Our Week in Books #31)

September: Another week, another set of excuses why I’ve not done much blogging again. (Our Week in Books #36)

October: A modern re-imagining of the traditional rhyme This is the House that Jack Built, with a boy playing building blocks in a farm setting. (The House That Zac Built by Alison Murray)

November: This November I am going to attempt to blog every day. (November)

December: It’s the first day of December. (Advent 2014)

Yup. I think that pretty much sums up 2014. Sigh.

Depression

Sometimes it sneaks up and you don’t realise that the long-term ‘head cold’ you seemed to have probably wasn’t that after all. I did have a cold for a bit too, which confused everything.

So I’m in depression mode. Have seen GP. Need to phone Talking Space (e-mailed saying I don’t like phones, really nice reply but I still need to phone initially) so obviously I’m avoiding that, which won’t help.

Another side-effect is not feeling able to thank people for nice comments. I guess because I feel I don’t deserve them. But it’s so rude not to. But I feel a bit sick thinking about trying to. So I stare into space. That’s not very helpful either.

I decided not to change my anti-depressants just yet. They may not be working to keep everything completely at bay but I’m too scared to go to the place I go to when I’m not on them, and GP said I have to wean off these to try another. With Christmas so close, I’ll stick with what I’ve got for now.

Self awareness helps. I am trying very hard to talk myself into doing something other than staring into space. I’ve not got there yet, but it’s getting close. Something creative will help.