This is a challenge that I didn’t pay much attention to in the foreground, or keep on top of in any way. I tracked the books I read and that was pretty much it. Leaving it to the me of today to sort through, review and organise things so that I can submit this completion post! Dear me, please provide future you with a gift for 2020 and do *some* of this before the last minute. Please.
In any case, I read 19 books for the Australian Women Writers Challenge this year, and reviewed all of them – on Goodreads, because I just wasn’t up to doing reviews on my blog this year. Maybe next year, maybe I’ll continue on Goodreads – I would like to make a habit of reviewing things closer to when I read them as it’s easy to let that slide.
I love this challenge and I love that several years down the track, it still brings me new authors! The books I read for the challenge this year include:
The time has come for me to let everyone else in on my theme for 2019. I stumbled upon this one scrolling through Facebook, but it struck me like a bell. One of the people I follow in my capacity as a midwife is Dr Sara Wickham, who posted about an article ‘In Celebration of Plateaus’. I read the pull out quote and it resonated so strongly with me.
I suggest we reframe plateaus as being both physically and psychologically purposeful, rather than worrisome or in need of a remedy
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that 2018 was hard going and left me feeling quite wrecked and burned out. I now feel a strong pull to recover and rebuild myself into who I want to be going forward. This is not the hiding away from the world and protecting myself deep inside like my year of Chrysalis, but neither is it pushing myself forward ambitiously and putting myself out of my comfort zone as I did with Cusp.
2019 is about moving forward, but doing so in a way that is sustainable and building on the future I want for myself and who I want to be. I think that will require reflection and a lot of self awareness about what I want to keep from my yester-self and what new things I want to try on. What better way to do that than embracing the idea of a plateau. So yes, Plateau is my theme for 2019.
The idea of a plateau is often held as a negative. They are often perceived as being stagnant of growth and with a sense of holding back, or taking the easy route. However, as with all things, there are more positive ways to consider plateaus.
Plateaus are rest points, while you’re climbing, or pushing, learning, or building. There’s also often a view, even if it’s specifically of the progress you’ve already made and how far you’ve come. Plateaus give you the chance to continue to progress, slowly, and without exerting extraordinary amounts of energy. You get to maintain forward momentum, but in a way that continues to allow recovery before you start climbing again.
I want this year to be a year where I do move forward. I want to do and try new things, but I want that to be rooted in a foundation of self care and healing. I want to prioritise coming back from the burn out I began 2018 with and which was exacerbated by the trash fire that largely describes last year for me. I want the option of stretching myself and choosing ambition, but not at the expense of recovery.
So what might that look like? Here’s a list of what I’m thinking, I’m keeping it simple because I don’t want to pin myself down or feel weighed down by goals and obligations, even those I set for myself. I am going to split it up into areas just because I can visualise it as a balance better.
Be the best midwife I can be and keep growing and learning as a part of that.
Keep reflecting on my practice as a midwife and connect with other midwives and learn from their experience and mentorship. Be generous with my time and support to other midwives and students.
Start my Masters degree. I enjoy studying and I do want to do research in the area of midwifery, so this is a first step. I plan to take it slow and let myself be immersed in it. I am hoping this also fulfils part of what I mention above regarding connecting with other midwives.
Go to the ACM National Conference, it’s as much about learning and growing as it is connecting with other midwives. It fills my bucket.
Continue prioritising the things for my physical and mental health. I am lucky that I have health professionals I trust to work with on this and this is already something that’s in progress, it just deserves its own dot point in my opinion.
Continue to practice relaxing and letting myself have down time without worry or fear. Let myself have fun just for its own sake. This is just habit rewiring, it wasn’t really possible for a long time and so now it’s something I struggle with.
Play the video games I want to play, and watch the television and movies I want to watch.
Go to the cinema for the immersive experience that turns your brain off.
Maintain sleep hygiene stuff so that sleep remains a priority. Obviously as a shift worker my hygiene is mixed, but I do my best to support something of a routine way of handling the changes.
I want to read more books than I read last year, I didn’t set an ambitious overall reading goal though. I am aiming for 50 books and I hope I beat it hand over fist.
I’m also pledging to do the Australian Women Writers Challenge again in 2019. I just enjoy this challenge a whole lot. I’m going to pledge at the Franklin level, to read 10 and review 6. I hope I exceed this too.
I am also doing Beat the Backlist again, because my TBR list that I regularly prune is still over 600 books. So, reading the books I already want to read, that’s the plan.
I still want to increase the areas of diversity I’m reading in, more queer writers, more non-white writers, more writers who are disabled or neurodivergent.
Dining Out and Cooking
Dining Out is one of the hobbies that I started to develop last year but I think I want to highlight it a bit more. It’s a hobby Fox and I share, also something my girlfriend Omega and I share. Additionally, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed but it also will tie into self care and having fun for the sake of it. I want to try new restaurants and maybe even review them. Mostly I just want to explore all the amazing food that other people are making.
That’s because cooking is a hard one for me at the moment. I feel like I’m burned out on cooking as well because of how it was so critical in recent years. Meal planning and being frugal were absolutely necessary. And I got extremely good at using food creatively and cooking amazing meals that helped us to get by, not *feeling* like we were missing out while we had so little income. It worked really well, but as a result of doing it full tilt for a few years, I need a break so I’ve been doing a lot less of the style of cooking I’m most used to and comfortable with.
I still do it, this week I made an amazing carrot cake decorated like a fox face! But it’s more sporadic rather than being a cornerstone of my days and weeks.
So any dot points for these items?
Try new restaurants, including fancy fine dining and casual dining.
Try to attend one of the one-off dining events that happen every so often.
Go to a degustation event.
Continue to cook what I want and when I want, try not to let obligation or duty dictate things too much.
Continue to teach Fox to cook and encourage him to build confidence here, but also mindful of his burn out too.
Join in some of the months of the Food 52 Cookbook Club, it was fun for the couple of times I joined in last year and I loved the focus on a single cookbook in the company of others.
Do some mini weekend trips with Fox to Victoria as whimsical escapes – like wineries and bed and breakfasts, trips to the south coast.
The big ticket item is that we’re planning on a trip to Germany in July, it will be my first overseas trip and I’m ridiculously excited. Not sure that I’ll get in any other countries this time around, but travel is a long term thing that Fox and I both want to do more of together.
So 2019 is about embracing the plateau as a useful way to move forward, while seeing where you’ve come from, and taking care of yourself while growing and changing. Here’s to the new year, a new theme, and the best hashtag about those I’ve come across: #twenty-nice-teen.