Eight days.

by Veronica Foale on January 26, 2015

in Children, Family, Me

We have eight days left in the school holidays and I am counting the hours. onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightdays. Everyone is bored, sick of each other. The screaming starts again and I clench my hands, breathe deep and remind my eldest child yet again how to speak nicely, kindly, like you might actually get what you want. Over and over, around and around.

I cannot wait for quiet hours with only the two year old at home. I’d like to say I’ll miss them, but I won’t.

I love my children, and their being away from me merely increases the energy I have for them. It’s a win/win situation.

I teach myself a new skill: lotion making. My refusal to use palm oil or its derivatives means I get to craft my own recipe rather than using a tried and true beginner example. Carefully I measure everything to the nth degree, weighing, pouring, heating, holding.

All the build up and when the time is right I pour the jugs together. One quick blend and it’s magic, thick and creamy, whiter than white. Easier than an orgasm, easier than soap. All the work is in the waiting, the build up.

I clean up, exhausted suddenly. My hands are covered in cream and I am looking forward to doing this again.

A little like good sex.

My middle child, my son, my adventurous intelligent gorgeous boy had a birthday and I realised in my exhaustion and attempts to make it the Best Day Ever, I completely forgot to mention him on my blogs. And I wonder, later, will he read my archives and feel the lack? The inevitable middle child syndrome, even as we strove to make everything amazing for him. Will he read the archives and instead of remembering how present I was on the day he turned six, will he merely notice I didn’t celebrate him online?

I don’t know if I feel guilty or not.

Bedtime was two hours ago and that is obviously why I have a two year old draped over my legs while I type. Her cries of Paper Me! and PEN ME! are demands which are easily met as sleep fails to come. Holidays are meant to be healing, soothing, but instead we’re all tired from being on top of one another. I fight my claustrophobia in a house which is too small, and summer weather too awful to escape outside.

We sit on top of each other, music and electronics and fights clashing against the background of playing and laughter and two dogs trying to play under all our feet. It’s beautiful destructive gorgeous chaos and I am stuck in the middle of it, surrounded by children like they’re waves and I’m an island and they’re slowly eating away at my shores.

I work and work and work, sinking myself into anything to distract myself from the stress, the chaos, the exhaustion. If I can just ignore everything for a little while longer, we might be able to make some money and extend the house, add more space, set up a caravan based studio for soaping in.

Pipe dreams, but still I work work work. It helps that I love what I do, the working with my hands and brain tied together in a beautiful intricate dance of science and art.

Cosmetic chemistry, man, it’s beautiful.

And there’s chocolate hidden in my desk drawers, so it will all be okay in the end.


Buy our luxury soap here. You know you want to.

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Distraction abounds

by Veronica Foale on January 24, 2015

in Me

Dinner needs cooking. I know this. I know this every single day and yet, there is it. 5pm sneaks up and suddenly it’s there and overwhelming with the lack of possibility. Dinner needs cooking, again.

I wake up in the morning and I am a whirlwind spinning in place. Can’t settle, can’t concentrate. Around and around and around I go, bouncing from task to task until three hours later I realise I’ve forgotten to eat breakfast and my cup of tea sits forgotten and cold on the edge of the bench.

And so I force myself to sit, to work through it. Paperwork first, then recipe creation, a new cup of tea twice microwaved sits to the edge of my laptop. I tweak a recipe and then I have to stand up to look for my recipe notebook.

Three seconds later, I’m half way to my other work space and I’ve forgotten what I was doing. Maybe it was lost in the cries of mummy, needa bottle and can I have a biscuit please mum, and pillow me, and where’s my game, has anyone seen it?

Or maybe it’s just gone and I’m left spinning in circles again in the kitchen, forgetting what I was doing, until I head back to my laptop where the recipe remains open, waiting for me to transcribe it.

And we start again.

Around and around in circles I go while I fight my brain every step of the way.

The payoffs: obsessive memory. amazing information recall. being able to work through a soap recipe on pure muscle memory because I love it and I’m obsessed. hyperfocus when I read.

I’m not sure it’s worth it when I’m standing in the kitchen again, peering into another cold cup of forgotten tea and trying to remember if I had lunch, while I eat all the chocolate biscuits because I need something easy and fast to bring my blood sugar up before I throw up.

So I spin, and I sit, and I dance around, forgetting everything I’m meant to be doing, unable to focus for more than a few minutes. My brain twitches and I stand up, walk around, flick my fingers over and over, fast, faster.

It’s exhausting.

I want so desperately to be one of those women who is organised. I want to steadily make my way through tasks, ticking them off. I want to remember the permission slips and lunch orders every Tuesday, and the home readers, and hats and to name all their jumpers. I want to remember we eat dinner every single day instead of being surprised every evening with the knowledge I should have planned ahead better.

My brain is broken and having to fight it every moment of the day is a battle I keep losing.

There are things I can do, diagnoses to pursue, but who has the time (and just quietly, the money), to seek out a psychologist and then a psychiatrist for everything? I’m already stretched thin, pushed to my limits.

But I want more. I want success, and a firmly comfortable middle class lifestyle. I want to love what I do and earn all the money. I want money in the bank, a safety net for us all.

I want things to just work for me.

And my brain makes everything so much harder than it has to be.

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On writing. Or more accurately, my lack thereof.

by Veronica Foale on January 16, 2015

in Navelgazing

I am broken, my brain is broken, and I can’t write anymore. Words used to drip from my fingertips, drowning me under their weight until I could shake them off like flick flick flick, water words everywhere.

Then: Depression (again), pain (more), medication, brain altering chemicals.

Writing is a muscle and if you cannot flex it, it shrivels until it’s almost dead. Poor wormy grubby thing hiding in the shadows. Coax it out, feed it books, hope it isn’t dead.

Remember the music, it helps.

I make a lot of soap now; it’s soothing. Measure the chemicals. Measure the oils. Mix it together and magic. Chemistry and art smash into each other. Works of beauty.

But a business requires a lot of work – not least of all an owner who only tells the good, who doesn’t complain when coming off anti-depressants breaks her brain over and over again, when the pain medication doesn’t work and everything is hard and tricky and broken.


If you want people to invest in you, you present a front to the world, a shiny beautiful front filled with shiny beautiful things. It’s all good here.

And truly it is, it is really good. Business is good, despite my happiness now seeming tied to how many sales we make in a week (buy more soap, feed my addiction, enable me). Markets – we’re being accepted left right and centre. My calender is filling up and it’s a crazy kind of chaos. A beautiful kind of chaos.

My fingers don’t drip as often anymore and I am too busy to let my soul leak all over the keyboard.

I need writing. Soap soothes me; writing lifts me up, makes me better.

It’s hard though, dripping soul blood everywhere. Sticky tape and string bind me together as I carefully create science every day, lost in the numbers. This + this = that, every single time. Soap isn’t messy or hard or soul destroying when it doesn’t work. Not like writing. Soap isn’t bleeding in public. It doesn’t ask the same things of me.

Maybe that’s the problem.

I read back through my archives and wonder what happened. I used to be amazing. I used to think and write, and poke and prod.

I have three children now and the last one broke my soul a little, PND does a number on a person.

But I’m here, and I’m trying. Feeding that cold wormy part of me I tried to forget about. Indulging the darkness.

I need to write.



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The pointy end of the year

by Veronica Foale on December 17, 2014

in Children

I can hear my children screeching in their bedroom, intermingled shouts of laughter and DON’T DO THAT twining around each other until I want to scream just go the fuck to sleep, please god sleep.

Guilt twinges. In the wake of horror you’re meant to cherish your children because elsewhere in the world other people are mourning theirs, but I’m out of cherishment, out of patience. I want them to sleep, so for an hour, or maybe two, I can just sit here and be an adult with my husband. No screeching, or screaming, or attending to cries of bottle me mummy, I needa you, and he hurt me why can’t I have it it’s not fair my life is ruined.

In the cool light of a school morning everyone will regret not falling asleep earlier, except the toddler who will have spent a happy three hours trying to play with my face in the wee hours, falling asleep again forty five minutes before my alarm goes off.

It’s the pointy end of the year and we’re all tired.

The older kid’s screaming drags the toddler from her bed and I clench my teeth together determined not to shout. I’ve shouted too much lately.

But it does no good.

Laughter should not sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

One child: query cerebral palsy; mild. One child: query generalised anxiety; food restricting; weight loss. One child: trapped in the chaos and fighting for attention.

No wonder we are tired.

Christmas is coming and I can’t wait; we need the long lazy days of summer when the heat presses us all against the floor, to lay there in puddles of sweat and fatigue, too hot to fight or scream or throw a forty minute tantrum when I say no dessert.

I’m still working the antidepressants out of my system, a system requiring them for pain relief, but who needs pain relief when it comes with a side of crippling depression? Antidepressants causing depression seems like a roundabout way of fucking everything up, but what do I know. Nothing of brain chemistry and how to make joints stop hurting when I really just have things to do.

It’s been six months and maybe I can write again.

The toddler shrieks again loudly and I am suddenly very grateful that the next baby born in this family won’t be mine, or need anything from me except the unconditional love of an aunt.

And so I write it all out while a child pats me on the stomach and seriously tells me a story about hurt knees.

I thought I’d forgotten how to do this.

We launched a business and for a while there, writing wasn’t the driving part of my day. Losing yourself in the swirl of soap and the science of cosmetics, it’s easy to forget to remove the words from your head as the days stretch long and you’re working working working.

I love it though, the chemistry and the science of it, I love the testing and the creation and the pride in a well made product. My job is so much fun, and then people give me money for things I have made. What kind of magic is this?

The very best kind, it turns out.

But I want to write again, need to write again. The softness of SSRI’s has worn away and life is bright and sharp again. A blessing and a curse.

The light fades and the house gets quieter. The big children have stopped screaming, finally worn out from a long day at school. The toddler is curled up against my side, a warm weight against me as she strokes my arms and drinks a bottle.

Tomorrow will be better, when the last day of school is done and the days are long and full of sunshine.

Tomorrow will be better.

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Everything is a mess, but I think that’s okay.

by Veronica Foale on July 23, 2014

in Navelgazing

The house is a mess.

That’s where I’m at. It’s where I’m stuck. The house is a mess and I cannot function in this chaos.

I can hear my older children cackling maniacally in their bedroom. They’re meant to be asleep and it’s fingernails on a chalkboard.

They’re meant to be asleep and instead they’re in there laughing and throwing things. The house is a mess and the children aren’t sleeping and the TV is too loud and someone has lost the remote because the house is a mess.

It’s everything and nothing all at once.

Move through this space for long enough with stories so big you can’t tell them and you’ll find your words disappearing too, all the while the house is a mess and the children are too loud. Everything is too loud. Too hot, too cold, nothing is just right. I’m Goldilocks and everything is broken, ruined forever, or wrong.

I miss writing.

The baby turns two in less than a week and I wonder where that time has gone. Of course I wonder where the time has gone. I spend a lot of time wondering where my time has gone.

There’s 7 weeks until we launch our business and I don’t know where that time has gone either. I spend hours daydreaming about soap, oils, balms. I wonder where the line is between beneficial and therapeutic, how to label, where to advertise. I make, create, tweak, test, retry. I take notes. I am writing, but this isn’t writing. A book of recipes and notes isn’t writing.

Did I remember to jot down what happens when you add blue mica before the lye water? Did I remember? I don’t think I did. It turns green, in case you’re wondering. A beautiful sea green, but not the blue I was after.

I’m a soap maker now, but I’m a writer too, and I miss writing.

All my websites languish under the weight of stories not told. Of disability, and disadvantage. Stories of triumph and failure. Winning and losing. I’ve lost my thick hide, jabbed too many times in the soft places and I am all full of holes.

How do I tell stories now? How do I tell the truth when my truth brings out the witch hunters with their pyres and fires.

Witch, witch. Burn the witch.

I don’t know what I’m doing any more.

I miss writing.

I start antidepressants in the morning. Last time I couldn’t write on them. Now I can’t write anyway, so maybe they’ll change something. Maybe it will be better.

Who knows.



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