Back in January I made a resolution to complete my website this year by doing a little every day. This resolution was cut short after the first week because of a family tragedy. Before we were completely back to normal after that, we were hit by "load shedding", our government's desperate attempt at stabilizing the power grid. These planned and sometimes (read mostly) unplanned power cuts wreaked havoc with cables and transformers and ended up damaging a lot of equipment, which made it even worse and after some time we were stuck without both water and electricity in my hometown, due to the water purification pumps failing. Things were tough, but TIA - This Is Africa, so we just kept going until things settled down again and returned (mostly) to normal.
Then, of course, while this chaos was brewing, we had a country-wide postal strike of nearly a year long which created an enormous backlog of mail items when the post office finally managed to sort things out - to the extent that I am still waiting for parcels to arrive from all over that were mailed out in December... This is not even considered a long wait at this stage, since the average waiting period seems to be six months by now. I have parcels that I need to send out as well, but my local post office is not taking international mail every day at the moment - to try and lessen the burden and clear some of the parcels out first... (It's not working...)
This year also marked the first time that my son attended "big school", since he is now in grade "R" and his days are suddenly filled with maths and reading instead of playing and running all day. We initially had some difficulty with the first school that he attended, since within the first week I was told that he is impossible in class and needs Ritalin because he most certainly has ADHD! A lot of tests, angry words, mommy tantrums and a change of schools later and he is now a little star student. But while we were tackling the problem, it felt like the end of the world was upon us and I felt like the worst mother in the world on most days.
I started alienating myself from my friends and even from my online friends, but still found some solace in my Sylvanian collection. I managed to at least do a lot of the research that I needed for my website, but during this time I found myself visiting some of my most familiar online haunts, the ones that I still had bookmarked from when I last felt lost and alone. Places with names like Sycamore Springs; Mystique Valley and Sugarbush Valley. I found myself spending hours on Hayley's website and Mel's Website just to pass the time. But before long, I inevitably started following the broken links back to websites that I knew so very well from the start of my collection - some completely abandoned, some still valiantly holding on to their little space in cyberspace, some of them with messages of collectors moving on in life - the online ghost towns of Sylvania.
As I wandered through the now-forgotten streets of Carrot Creek (On Youtube of course!) I found myself at the bottom of a pit of despair that I had not known for a very long time. It was too much. Everything was just too much. The thought of how pointless it all is came to me more than once and I found myself on the verge of giving it all up, of packing up hundreds of little critters and their little lives into plastic boxes and forgetting about their existence - the same critters that I so lovingly admire every day. I thought about deleting the seemingly endless strings of code that make up my website - the same site that I have so lovingly spent years developing. And these thoughts struck me as odd! It was not like me to not feel at all. I was usually the one to cry at soppy movies, halfway through romance novels and at all manner of inappropriate times. the one who stops to pick up strays...
So, I made a list of the things that I needed to change, saw a doctor, who confirmed that my PCOS was back in full swing and that I needed some medication to get my hormone levels balanced again, because I was suffering from mild depression. I stopped listening to the "trained professionals" and followed my mother's instincts to get my son into a different school. Life was returning to "normal" , but I still had the huge, cute, fuzzy obstacle to get over. My collection was a mess! I have not been adding my new purchases to my displays and in stead some of them were put away in my study closet, others in the cabinet under my display case and still other critters were sitting in unopened parcels on my desk because I didn't have the heart to open them and see what the yellow post office repackaging tape hid underneath... My website was a mess - so many pages couldn't be updated, because the information was unobtainable or because the critters were still stuck in the postal system somewhere.
So, this week, as a birthday gift to myself, I started opening the parcels one by one and I was astonished at what I found inside!!! Some of the items were my own - Ebay purchases long overdue, others belonged to a good friend of mine whose husband won't let her buy off Ebay and still others were not even expected! Gifts from friends who know me better than I know myself, little notes added to parcels, handmade trinkets and even big surprises! And suddenly the joy came flooding back all at once. Not joy over opening parcels, or receiving gifts, but at the knowledge that at some moment in time, someone thought of me.
I decided there and then that I would continue the tedious task of updating my website on a weekly basis - that way I could do a little each day and upload it all at a dedicated time each week. I managed to write some stories that need to be uploaded soon and I even got things ready for a weekend of photographing critters! I remembered why my collection took off so steadily in the first place. It was not the cuteness of the critters or the constant joy of getting "new" things, but rather the personal connection with people who understood me. The friends that I have made over the years collecting Sylvanians, the amazing people who all fight their own battles, just like me, and win! The ones that inspire me to keep going when life gets me down and who make me believe that anything is possible just because they live it every day and keep coming back for more!
Thank you to all of my friends for helping me to find my passion again. Thank you for the moments you all took to write me a little note, to send me a card or even to send me a little gift! Thank you all for checking in on me via email, pm or even connecting on Facebook when the only way for me to get internet connection is on my tablet with "Wimpy's" free Wi-Fi! You all helped to save me from a very dark place and I feel honored to be able to call you all my friends!!!