• Asher Cusack

It's been tough

In news that will shock absolutely no one, the last year and a half have been extremely challenging, isolating, and difficult. It's hardly a fresh take, and I feel I've used it as an excuse to not do the things I've really wanted to. Things that I'm passionate about. Growing, cooking, blogging, art. I've lay around, I've moped, I've taken sick days. Despite working in mental health, noticing my own patterns of behaviour and the negative cycles I get into is often really difficult, but one I've noticed is the pressure and guilt I feel over not doing these things getting in the way of me doing them. As a therapist it's really hard to admit this as it feels almost like an admission that I don't have all the answers, and I have to remind myself that no one does. The longer I go without blogging for example, the more I feel like I have to explain my absence or promise to be better. The thing is, this pressure is completely internal. So I'm hoping I can strike a balance between allowing myself to stop and start without punishment or guilt, and actually doing the things I love instead of just what's easy. Today I wanted to talk a bit about some of the more positive things I've been doing, though.

I've taken up watercolour painting. Painting was always something I thought I was bad at. At school, it was my weakest area and I hated the thick, messy oils we had to work with. I was an arty kid, but I was never as quick to learn these skills as the others in my class and I felt really discouraged by it. Allowing myself to reintroduce art into my life for the sake of creativity and fun rather than grading, after 10+ years after doing very little, has allowed me to recapture some of the feelings I used to get when I was little and spent countless sunny hours inside our caravan doodling while my sisters played outside on their bikes. I'm not the best at this yet, but that's fine. It's all about the process and not people's reaction to the end product.

One of the biggest positives of lockdown was discovering the joy of just spending time outside cooking, eating, drinking and talking, without having to go somewhere like a restaurant or spending a lot of money. We've spent a lot of nights on our patio, cooking and sometimes charring pizza in our little portable wood oven, playing uno and chatting about life. Unfortunately, my other half now can't enjoy restaurant pizza as much as he says mine is too good! The ultimate compliment, I guess?

We also got engaged. Proposing was an incredibly nerve wracking experience but one that felt very right. Both of us have grown hugely as individuals through the course of our relationship, which admittedly we both came to during difficult times in our lives and without the best mindset about life, and have learned how to communicate more openly than I thought I would ever be able to. It's encouraging to know that I have someone who's in this with me 100%.

Although we started late this year due to the cold, wet spring and flooding of our land, we've finally just about cultivated our little plot and greenhouse. It can be really hard on a bad day to get down there and work, but for me there is nothing more relaxing and therapeutic than sitting plucking weeds or sewing seeds. It's helpful if you've got a tenacious partner who doesn't mind dealing with the nettles too...

Some of our plants were unsuccessful because I forgot to water or I wasn't careful enough in my care of them, but I'm learning that those kinds of mistakes are a big part of homesteading and of life in general. Reframing all of this as a chance to reflect, learn and grow has been hugely helpful in improving my mindset.

There'll be new recipes when I feel inspired to write them, and maybe some more posts like this of me just throwing my thoughts at the internet. But anyway, it's been tough, but I'm proud of what I've achieved in my own way. I'm looking forward to a future filled with the things I actually love.


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