Six Pandemic Christmas Wreaths

As the pandemic hit Australia I submerged myself in learning to crochet and making six Pandemic Christmas Wreaths. I finished them when I was forced into lockdown due to a broken ankle.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Connection and Optimism

Remember those first weeks of lockdown early in 2020, before we got jaded and screened out? That’s when it was still fun to do zoom calls. I hadn’t yet done 8 weeks of telehealth as a psychologist and wondered how many tears I had missed.

Like many others we connected with family overseas, particularly my nephew and his wife from Wellington, New Zealand. They had visited us in January 2020 with their gorgeous baby son. New Zealand entered a harsher lockdown than we did in Australia at that time so we supported each other by catching up on Zoom, playing trivia quizzes, sharing lockdown stories and Covid-19 stats. It was during one of these zoom calls that I launched my Christmas Pandemic Wreath project. I stitched love for my New Zealand family into to this wreath along with my hope that, as they hang the wreath each Christmas, they would look back at 2020 as a year of connection and optimism.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Grief and Love

The impact of the pandemic hit my son and his fiancé with an unexpected ferocity. She was unable to return to the UK for her mother’s funeral and her sister’s wedding was cancelled. The ease of living overseas, where a trip home is just a day and some hard earned money evaporated overnight. If she went home for the funeral, she would not be able to return to Australia. I’m so glad she stayed. I’m also glad they had travelled to see her mum when she was ill earlier in the year.

There is no way my son and his fiancé will forget 2020. As they hang this wreath each Christmas  I hope they honour their grief and remember the love they share together, with others who are not always present, and that we share it with them.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Grit and Thankfulness

Christmas wreathI worried more as I stitched this wreath.  My daughter and her partner were locked down in Melbourne. Basically they’d been in lockdown since 21 March 2020 and restrictions didn’t begin to ease until November 2020. I worried about their mental health, their relationship and their jobs. While they found it tough they also flourished creating art, furniture and gourmet meals. They embraced a buy local strategy and our birthdays were celebrated with bundles of gifts found within a 5 km ring of where they lived.

The Melbourne lockdown saved Australia from a rampant attack by Covid-19. This wreath embraces the thanks I have for all Victorians who kept the rest of us safe. I hope when my daughter and her partner hang this wreath each Christmas, they look back with pride at the intense time they spent together, the determined grit they displayed, and all they achieved and created.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Family Resilience and Caring

This wreath is for Ms Forgotten Australian’s youngest daughter’s family who hold a special place in my heart. The family underwent 4 Covid tests this year, whereas I had none. Like any family, the kids, 4 and 6 years old, bought home coughs and colds which resulted in multiple tests. I don’t know any child who looks forward to having a stranger stick a swab up their nose! It takes fortitude and integrity to turn up for yet another Covid test with fearful children, who probably just have a cold.

Families like them helped keep Brisbane safe. This family, like many others, coped with disruptions to their home, work, school and leisure routine  and yet they continued to care for the vulnerable in their community. They got on with the task, complaint free, resiliently adapting to the changes. As they hang the wreath each Christmas I hope they remember their collective resilience and the way they cared for each other through this time.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of New Beginnings

Our nephew, his pregnant wife, their 9 month and 4 year old daughters started the year living with us as they made the move from Sydney to Brisbane. Then they bought a new home, he started a new job, she upstaged him by giving birth to a new  baby girl during Covid, and of course were separated from interstate family. Its been lovely watching their excitement and joy at each new adventure. As they hang their wreath each Christmas, I’m sure they will remember the many new beginnings of 2020, not just that they lived through a pandemic.

A Pandemic Christmas Wreath of Friendship 

As I stitched this wreath, I thought of the times we have shared with these friends this year. We started this year together in South America, a lifetime ago. While there we watched the fires burn in Australia, never thinking that this would be just the beginning of a year like no other.

As the Covid-19  raged, we were separated from family and supported each other.

As family members broke bones, we checked in with each other! Thanks for the loan of the crutches!

Together we snuck a brief holiday to Caloundra, not a destination we would normally have chosen, usually planning trips much father away.  As we walked and talked, it helped eased the stress of the year.

As they hang this wreath at each Christmas, I hope it reminds them of our friendship, the good times we’ve shared and how we survived a pandemic!

Inspiration

My wreaths were inspired by Lucy at Attic 24. She’s amazing.  You can find her patterns and inspiration here Attic24: Crochet (typepad.com)

Merry Christmas to all

I could make more wreaths, as I am blessed with family and friends who have helped me endure the devastation of the Australian bushfires, the pandemic and now a broken ankle, but I think I’m done.  Lets hope 2021 is remembered as a time we all paused, focused on what we want for our lives and made some lasting changes.

I hope you all made the most of Christmas, wherever you were, whoever you were with.

Friday night tears with Redgum

John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew
John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew

Music is like a magical time machine, transporting you back to a different time and place. On Friday night, as Steven and I listened to the sounds of Redgum, by John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew, we were once again a young couple with their life ahead of them, not long married with a baby son. The music of Redgum, with John Schumann’s distinctive storytelling voice, often filled our home. Our first night out without the baby was to a Redgum concert. Redgum was an Australian folk and political group during the 1980’s. Their protest music captured the misery and pointlessness of war and made my heart ache.

I Was Only Nineteen

I Was Only Nineteen, written by John Schumann, told the story of a young man, conscripted into the Vietnam war. He returned as a battle-weary soldier having lost his mates and unable to adjust to the banality of civilian life. Continue reading

The Psychologist sounds out the Music Therapist

Music Therapist, Claire Stephensen from Press Play Therapy
Music Therapist, Claire Stephensen from Press Play Therapy

At times the rumble of drums or the soft tinkle of ivories floats into my counselling room at Little Window – Counselling, Psychology and Wellness. Then I know that our Music Therapist, Claire Stephensen, is working with a client, and I’m intrigued.  Poking my head into the hallway, I try to see Claire using music in therapy, but her door is firmly closed and the mystery remains.

would not describe myself as a musical person. I sing like a cat on heat, I’m an awkward dancer and my husband used to tell me off for singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star out of tune to our children. Yet I also know music brings great joy. I hear the first beats of an old love song and memories flood back. My mood can be lifted or lowered through a few well-chosen songs. I know that there is magic in how we respond to music. To satisfy my curiosity about music therapy I had a chat with Claire and asked her a barrage of questions.

Thanks for having me Anne, I know your curiosity is shared with so many people.  I look forward to sharing a glimpse into the ‘music therapy space’.

How do you start a music therapy session?

In music therapy training we learn a lot about the importance of overall structure of a session – the opening, middle and close are each considered to be very important for their own reasons (just like the open, middle and close of a song or piece of music!) – and it will look different for each person I work with. I always intend to meet the person where they’re at – and finish the session closer to where they want to be. For some, this might mean we start with talking before introducing music, and for others, we start with music before we do any talking. Some clients like to start their sessions by bringing a song or piece of music that resonated for them – to help bring language to their current challenges. At other times we talk through the key challenges or wins so we can decide together what the best modality will be for the ‘middle’ part of the session.

So you do talk during music therapy?

Continue reading

Enjoying a trip to the theatre as an act of self care

Seeing a play is one way that I revitalise myself. For me, a trip to the theatre is an act of self care and pure pleasure. I feel given to, with nothing expected in return. There’s a feeling of connectedness with the actors and the audience which I never get from watching a screen. As a psychologist, I advocate for self-compassion, self care, and connectedness, so it’s important that I walk the talk.  This weekend I indulged myself with two plays.

The Mathematics of Longing

Theatre as self care - The Mathmatics of LongingWatching the Mathematics of Longing at Brisbane’s Le  Boite theatre, I immersed myself in another world for an hour.  I love this smalltheatre in the round. It feels so intimate, and I intensified the experience by sitting in the front row.  A friend insisted that we do this at the last play we enjoyed, and, somewhat reluctantly, I acquiesced. Unexpectedly I discovered that I loved the closeness to the Continue reading

Easing the burden by reaching out

Burden of elephant supported by balloonsClients often experience a wave of relief after their first counselling session.  Their burden is shared and they feel joined on their journey.  That old saying, a worry shared is a worry halved rings true.

Sometimes, you don’t recognise how burdened you’re feeling until the load eases, as I experienced recently.   I’d been working on Ms Forgotten Australian’s biography for over four years and had come to the end of my skills, capability, and motivation. I knew I had to do more but had no idea Continue reading

Getting to know your neighbours at a street party

Getting to know your neighbours at a street party starts with a simple note in the letterbox:

Let’s do it again!

Street Party

4 pm Sunday

On the grass out the front of No. 7

Bring your own everything – chairs, drinks and some nibbles to share.

We live in a cul de sac, a dead end street.  We’re a friendly community but we don’t see much of each other except for these occasional gatherings. Judging by the turnout and the abundance of food and drink, most people welcome the opportunity to sit together and chat for an hour or two.

 

Some neighbours have lived on the street for over 25 years. These are the families who tell stories of long ago cricket games in the cul de sac. They ask after each other’s children, delighted Continue reading

Meeting Alice’s Daughter on Sorry Day

On Saturday Ms ForAlice's Daughter gotten Australian and I listened to Rhonda Collard Spratt, who, with Jacki Ferro has authored Alice’s Daughter: Lost Mission Child.  Rhonda is Alice’s daughter and she is a delightful raconteur. She shared stories of her life, enlivened with music, poetry, and much laughter.  Aunty Rhonda, as she is known, brings warmth and inclusiveness to a story of violence and separation.

Continue reading

Creating calm and safety in the counselling room

A warm welcome, a cup of tea, a comfy place to sit, beautiful surroundings, gentle music and the waft of fragrant oils.  We hope our clients experience a sense of calm and safety as they enter our counselling space at Little Window – Counselling, Psychology and Wellness. The house, with frosted glass windows, provides complete privacy and scatters a soft light through the rooms. A sanctuary and an inward-looking space. Ideal for reflection.

Created with intent

Counselling roomThe directors of Little Window, psychologists Thania and Christina, created this space with intent. They lovingly chose and positioned every item for the rooms and behind their artful decoration lies neuroscience. Their intention is to provide a calm and safe space, which helps interrupt the fight, flight or freeze response clients often experience. These responses begin in the amygdala, the area of the brain that processes memory, interprets emotion, and often drives Continue reading

Women’s Work is Never Done

TableRecently we went to the launch of Be Enterprise, an innovative social enterprise program of Logan Women’s Health and Wellbeing Centre. The evening combined the launch of the program with a healthy amount of fund raising. The invitation to attend had been extended to me by Liz Irvine, Chair of the Board, and since I’d had a role in her being on the board in the first place it was an offer I really couldn’t refuse.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a women focused event and it was great to step outside my normal routine. I felt recharged after the night as I listened to women with conviction and passion speak about the work they do to make a difference to women’s lives.

Shannon Fentiman MP – Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Member for Waterford reminded us that the gender pay gap is still alive and well, with woman being paid, on average, 17% less than men. I thought of a recent conversation Continue reading

The best thing about travelling? The joy of coming home.

Beautiful view from our home
Beautiful view from our home

I have often said that one of the best things about travelling is coming home, and I still find that to be true.  I walked into our home and relinquished myself to the comfort and familiarity of a space that is ours. I am so full of gratitude for our windfall in the lottery of life that has us living in Australia, it’s not called the “lucky country” for nothing.

P1140404 (2)For the last week we have both sunk into the couch, with a distinct unwillingness to move for any real amount of time. We returned to a cold Brisbane winters day where the daytime temperatures only got up to about 19°C and night time was as low as 7°C, I know that’s like summer in some places. The apartment gets no sun in winter and the tile floor, which is better suited to a hot summers day, is cold underfoot We venture out for small excursions before once again curling up on the lounge, Fonzie the dog at our feet and the heater on.  We are reluctant to return to “normal life” too quickly so we do it in bite sized pieces.  We sit wrapped in the comforting cocoon of our home.

Fonzie welcomed us home
Fonzie welcomed us home

I have spoken to my boss and the reality of returning to work Continue reading