Getting through the day with depression… Allowing yourself to embrace pleasure wherever you find it.

Hello everyone… I have missed writing here and sharing your stories (and gardens!).

Oh how I love black dog free moments. When I started writing this post I was in one. Back into the hole now waiting it out.

Those of you with depression will probably relate… I wish you weren’t able to, but knowing you aren’t alone can be comforting.

There are the moments vital to remember when you manage depression.

To record however you can. Write. Photograph. Draw. Video. Anything!

Holding onto these memories however you can is desperately important.

These are the moments to look back on when hope for respite is in short supply.

When you need a tangible reminder that yes! moments of joy exist.

They may be small.

They may be shortlived.

But they happened.

Above all… Moments like these will return in time.

Do you record small joys too? How do you remember them best?

For me it is in photographs. Curiously enough the last moment I planned to share was what gives me hope now.

I visited a brick display yard of all places and found a garden of sorts.

Today I need these photos. I hope you enjoy them too.

Love Nat

Do you focus on things to be thankful for?

Hello everyone…

Well it is heading towards Christmas… That chaotic time of year where it is easy for the black dog (depression) to sink it’s teeth in and refuse to budge.

Worse somehow are the moments where you KNOW you should feel happy but instead you feel numb or angry or just exhausted.

Black dog by Matthew Johnstone

If you’ve never read M Johnstone’s books they’re worth looking at.

Which brings us to the question… How do you be present when depression has you numb?

A common idea is a gratefulness diary. To put in words and images what you are thankful for in this moment. To record it and acknowledge that ok right now you might feel nothing but the depression will ease eventually and one day you will read the words and see the pictures and feel again.

On that note it’s time to share what I’m thankful for today…

1. Thank you to the neighbour who planted this red flowering gum on the verge. I drive past it almost every day and the red of the flowers never fails to make me slow down and look.

2. The WA Christmas Trees (Nuytsia floribunda) are in bloom! Nothing says Christmas to me like this native tree. I’m yet to grow one for my block. Tricky to establish as it is a parasitic tree but so worth the effort. One day soon this will remind me to feel hopeful and excited for the experiment to come.

3. THE Jacaranda driveway! On the drive to my block of land I pass this. It is the reason I grow Jacaranda trees and persist with getting them through the first few winters (they don’t like our frost but once established are fine). Absolutely beautiful…

4. Hobbies and work to keep me busy and too tired to worry… An assortment of succulents growing for my Mum in Law. Trenches I’m digging for the downpipes to capture water for the new tank. And of course the progress on our home. Almost there. Keep hopeful!

Best of all…

I am thankful for being able to share these places and photos with you all. Perhaps an image might give you a boost today too.

I’m thankful for my family who keep me company on my neverending “plant hunt”, encourage my enthusiasm when it is present and push me to keep trying when it is not.

What are you grateful for today?

❀ Nat

A little colour to lift the spirits.

During the long, hot days of a WA Summer it is easy to focus on the negative…

The flies! Sweating. Dusty. Hot cars. Sunburn. Did I mention the flies?

Do you take the time to find things to be thankful for? Not always? Me neither.

And yet today I found myself thinking of winter gardens elsewhere in the world. The gloomy depression that can settle within us from a lack of sunlight.

Instead of the bad this inspired a different perspective. An opportunity to share some brightness from our part of the world to yours.

From Western Australia with love.

More Verticordia (feather flowers). These made me laugh because they were covered in bees and down the road was a honey farm called “Bee Happy”. Appropriate somehow 😊

Cannot get enough of this gorgeous yellow!
Tamarix aphylla. Ok so it is a weed here. But this was in a city garden not a rural area. So pretty.

Christmas is almost here! This is a WA Christmas tree. Nuytsia floribunda. Some are in full bloom but this one is still on it’s way. To me this semi parastic tree means Christmas.
Grasstree (Xanthorrhea preissii) in flower. During the heat of day these flower spikes are covered in butterflies and bees on our block).
And the Everlastings ❀ These seem to pop up everwhere on our block. They are rough and papery to touch.

Home is where my heart (and garden) is β€

Well it is finally happening!

It has been a long four year wait to begin building our home. By February we will move to our home.

And oh how my heart has longed for this day.

I’ve always believed some people (like my Dad and like me) need a connection with our environment. A piece of earth to set root and belong. Since leaving home I have been adrift. Home has been with my husband and children but the city is not a healthy place for me.

Driving to our block (5 acres in wheatbelt Western Australia) my black dog curiously curls up for a time and sleeps.

Opening the gates I come home to my garden and sanctuary.

Steel frame home. Simple. We have 5 acres of garden… Why would I want to be indoors?

The frog pond we dug and cemented is taking shape. The citrus are settling in and snapdragons and stattice are keeping the bees busy.

The plants hubby and I have propagated and gotten through long scorching summers. Jacarandas and Brachychiton (Flame trees) will one day flower at the same time. A mass of purple and red.

Mostly trees to cope with extreme heat and our long dry summers.

The youngest of five Moreton Bay Fig trees ❀. I like to plant for the future. One day when my future grandkids are old there will be 5 magnificent fig trees surrounding the property. Planted far from the house these have been handwatered and fenced to keep the roos away and are absolutely thriving.

Others build the house first but we’ve had no choice but to wait so our garden has come first.

I prefer it. The windows frame views I have imagined for years.

Right now I am chaos personified. Exhausted.

But the views make it worth the wait. Help me keep patient but also hopeful. Now we know where the septics will go I can plant my next orchard.

A blank canvas… Waiting for TREES 😍

Soon. Be patient Nat.

I will get to wake up and walk outside into the garden I love best. It’s not fancy. But it is home.

Szarik gets to come for a visit. He saw a roo and took off like a pup. The roo cleared the fence to his disgust and our relief.

M.I.A: but still collecting wildflowers

A belated hello to you all.

My black dog has been snapping persistently at my heels.

And yet the process of documenting the wildflowers out this year has helped me.

Red and Green Kangaroo Paw. Our state emblem. People say difficult to grow but I have three thriving at my block. They do well with neglect and dividing once clumping.

Ants on a Grevillea
Fringe Lilly! The one I photographed at my block was a climbing species and much smaller than this one.
My favourite Verticordia. A sea of yellow on sandy soils. Going to the coast this is everywhere.

On bad days Miss 3 and I head off in the car and stop whenever a splash of colour catches my eye.

Mulla Mulla at home

Scaevola sp. Love love love purple Scaevolas although pink and white are available too.
Flower from a pinwheel Sundew. I had promised a photo and here is the orange I adore. In the heat of the day these all open up and it is a carpet of tiny orange flowers.

I could go on and on.

There is something peaceful about walking off into the bush and taking photos that gives me peace.

Thank you to everyone who gave me a warm welcome back and kind messages.

I hope you feel inspired to spend your weekend flower hunting too 😊.

❀ Nat

Wildflower season begins! Otherwise known as managing depression and pain with gentle walking and a huge dose of gorgeousness.

Orchids! Sundews! Leschenaultia! The wildflowers of Western Australia are starting to bloom.

Be still my heart. ❀

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White Caladenia orchid

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I need distraction and gentle exercise. Fresh air and all the colours of the rainbow.

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Donkey Orchid

Bushwalking at a snail pace to hunt for native orchids and treasures emerging is a balm to my soul (and the very very sore joints).

Enough words… Time to just look and enjoy.

I hope these flowers from my block of land in WA make you feel as good as they make me feel.

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Chorizema sp.
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Climbing Fringe Lily
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Purple Caladenia
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Cowslip orchid
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Wheel Sundews… Not long now and these will have tiny orange flowers 😊

I just want to share photo after photo. These flowers are small but oh so beautiful and there are more photos to come. Watch this space 🌸.

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Stackhousia sp.

 

If you need me check the garden (aka TLC for the depressed soul).

For anyone wondering… Yep I’m still alive… Just letting myself get lost in the garden for a while.

Words are escaping me lately. So I’ll go with pictures.

Arctosis “Hannah” starting to flower. Red is my favourite colour. Bright and cheerful. Our house will one day be painted red too. I want an explosion of colour. Bright. Cheerful. Happy. I want to look outside and feel warm always.

Driving to our block I saw a flash of RED. Miss 3 and I stopped and admired the first of the native pea flowers. I will find the name in time. It hit me this place is safe and home. Even the native flowers reach me within that dark place.

20180715_092443_HDRof my scarlet leschenaultia

It feels like a lifetime I’ve waited for my scarlet leschenaultia to bloom. And at last it is here! Beautiful.

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Taking my kids to the river park I spotted this little beauty! I’ve never seen a mushroom like this!

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Crown of thorns. The flower is small but one day it will be an impressive shrub.

Today my thoughts are caught up in a whirl of red flowers. Too busy to feek yuck within.

What is your favourite red flower?

 

Using gardens as armour from the world.

Do you have a safe place you retreat to when you need to protect and guard yourself from harm?

My safe place is my garden. At times people have given me a confused look as if to say what good is a garden when you’re depressed and suicidal?

My answer is often about distraction and keeping busy and waiting out the pain but the deeper truth is my garden is quite simply a place where I don’t have to judge or hate myself.

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Banksia sessilis in flower. Usually spiky and irritating but in flower I see the good.

Sometimes depression makes us angry at hurtful towards ourselves. It doesn’t help when people can’t understand and make comments such as why have you become so selfish? Courtesy and politeness cost nothing. Or you have it easy look at what the rest of the world struggles with. For me at least that just becomes evidence used within me to keep building the case against myself… “Why I am not a worthwhile human being”.

Utter bullshit we learn eventually… provided we are given support to survive and time and knowledge to learn to recognise what is happening within.

My garden doesn’t say anything. I can be a mess. I can swear or cry or just sit and stare and it makes no difference to my plants. They are still beautiful regardless.

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Arctosis “Hannah”. My favourite.

Some days I can work until I’m exhausted and can sleep. Other days I just walk through the 5 acres and look at plants with a cup of tea in hand.

My garden is a protective space.

It gives me simple enjoyment of fresh air and sunshine.

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Euphorbia milii yellow form being gorgeous

A purpose and goal I can achieve or try again tomorrow or next week without pressure or guilt.

Adventure and anticipation hunting for wildflowers.

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Acacia cyclops ready to flower. Anticipation

Peace and quiet.

Something to connect with others about which doesn’t have to involve mental illness.

Projects and interests and passions.

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Hovea trisperma (low growing common hovea) has come out in flower at the block).

When depressed, I lose hope of ever feeling these things. But in my garden I can sometimes find those emotions. It reminds me those feelings are not lost just buried at the moment.

Being in my garden reminds me to turn off the phone and just exist for a moment. Just be in my safe place and let all the expectations of the world fall away.

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Native wisteria (Hardenbergia sp) has come back after being eaten by roos.

I will return in time. I’ve missed all of your gardens in the Sixes on Saturday most of all.

For now I’m in my garden letting it protect me until I feel a little better inside.

Happy Saturday fellow gardenistas.

 

 

 

Helena Pipehead Bushwalk… Or how NOT to bushwalk with arthritis!

Hello everyone,

Let’s be honest here… Reading about someone’s epic fails is sometimes more fun than spectacular photos that make you feel inadequate πŸ˜‚.

So here’s one I prepared earlier in the week. All dosed up on medication for my autoimmune arthritis and walking better than I had in months… it seemed like a good idea to pack a picnic and take the kids for a bushwalk.

We chose Helena Pipehead Trail in Kalamunda National Park. 13.5km along the Helena river and past the dam on return. On paper it sounded good…

Medium difficulty. Mostly graded tracks. Good boots. Gentle exercise for my joints. Even better for my depression. Get outdoors. Exhaust the kids. Sunshine. Nature. River. All good?

It was great too. Until we took the wrong turn on an old track down to the river.

 

Hubby decided it would be easier to climb up through the bush than to back track.

Our kids took one look at the scrubby bush above and said no way Dad.

And yet… I agreed. I can walk! Woohoo let’s push ourselves and climb up a steep hillside with a 3 and a 4 year old. Hmmmm!

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Note to Arthritis sufferers. Climbing from the river below to up here is incredibly stupid!

The less said the better really. Miss 3 got her ponytail caught up in a particularly challenging climbing vine. My knee gave way and I went sliding down through mud to the kid’s delight.

Native bush plants and my kids were introduced to some truly spectacular curse words. For those not familar with West Australian bushland we have some truly horrible spiky plants. Lovely to look at. An utter pain to trapse and scrabble through.

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Drosera macrantha (climbing sundew). The one and only photo before I slid down in the mud.

When we finally reached the track andΒ  stopped to admire the view we saw a different kind of display… Is that a wrecked white car?!

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Because every good walk trail requires a random car pushed off a cliff. This has been here for ages we found out.

Nursing bruised knees and covered in mud and scratches, we gave the kids piggyback rides back to the car and decided to try again next week (and stop at the chemist for some painkillers for me).

Trying to find positives I looked inside. No matter how much of a fail the walk was it did help for a little while. Exercise and sunshine does give me a time out from depression. Even a small reprieve is worth seizing.

Thankfully we passed these Hoveas on the way home which made the trip worth it don’t you think?

Some days things just don’t quite go to plan do they?Β If you have a failed nature experience to share I’d love to hear it. Realistics unite 😊.

 

Do you make time to search for treasure?

There are days where hard physical work is a godsend to keep my mind away from difficult thoughts (Don’t you just love depression … And yes that was a bitter sarcastic tone you heard).116

And then there are bad days. Mental illness doesn’t always visit alone. Sometimes it has company. My depression has a companion called autoimmune arthritis. I don’t like either of them very much.

What has this got to do with treasure?

On days where I’m in pain and feeling low I have a choice. Let the hopelessness bury me. Or allow myself be human and be kind to myself. Yes I am faulty. Flawed. Weak. Hurting. Lazy. Uninspired. Self absorbed. But aren’t all people at some point?

So I pamper myself with a treasure hunt. Do you work away in the garden and miss the little things sometimes? I do.

Feeling sick is a wonderful reason to take time to enjoy your garden. Go for a very slow wander and inspect all the plants. Search for flowers and mushrooms and all of the things that on busy days you may miss.

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The first of the tiny orchids. This flower is only about 1cm across! I love searching for treasure.

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On bad days it helps to slow down and make time for yourself. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself as best you can. And focus on tomorrow being a new day to try again.

After all you never know what treasures are waiting in your future…

Today the sun came out for me. My meds began to work ever so slightly. I could breathe. My friend and her kids came with us to our block of land. The joy of a road trip with friends. No rush. Nothing fancy just enjoying a happy moment.

And then we stopped the cars…. What on earth is that? Walked for a closer look…

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A curious “lump” in the middle of a road. We stopped to check. An Echinda!!

This is only the second Echinda I have seen in 33 years of life. None of the kids had seen one before. I went to scoop him off the road thinking a car had clipped him and off he waddled! I had no idea Echidna could waddle so fast!

How we laughed. The kids peered out the windows and demanded to know why this was not a hedgehog.Β 20180621_120516_hdr.jpg

These moments make it all worthwhile. Treasure. Just waiting for us all to stop a while and look for it.

When is the last time you searched for treasure?