Ok, I'm going to come clean, I'm in the middle of changing my life. This blog isn't for the benefit of womankind, it's part of a programme of carefully arranged changes to my existence that have been designed to make me a better person. And this morning, when wonderful things started to be said about the blog, I thought: uh-oh, people might actually read it!
So I'm starting with a clean slate. Ever since I made the decision to chase my dream of being a writer and I started my own writing/research business, Wise Words - for all your creative needs - the world has been shifting under my feet. My 'permanent' job at the Council has expanded beyond my wildest dreams and gets better almost every day, in one way or another (which isn't to say I always speak highly of it), work for Wise Words is coming in regularly and at points my time management is a more an experience of unmanageable time, and I've met some amazing and interesting people. Sounds perfect, right?
But life is funny this way, weird more than ha ha, and with all these things that I've wanted so long came a whole other set of new challenges - how do I manage my time so that everything gets done? I realised that I have an issue with making money, because living with just enough to pay the rent, eat occasionally and buy a bottle of wine has become firmly connected in my mind with rejecting the whole Ferengi (here the Trekkies amongst you become noticable) capitalist ethos. I also realised that one of the reasons that I hadn't done all this earlier was because I'd designed my life to ensure that I never risked the disappointment of risking my dream and failing. I worked too hard, wherever I was and was often subject to stress. I picked relationships that would dominate my time and energy and offer low returns for me. I drank too much wine, too much gin and smoked far too many cigarettes. Periodically, I would come down with stress and retire to my bed for days on end, like a Mills & Boon character in mourning for her lost love.
So I gave up smoking, I've stopped drinking too much, especially in order to relax or to unwind. I'm learning to manage my time, to say no to some people and to say not yet to others. Am I sounding like a nun yet? And I started the blog because in the evenings, like now, when I'm craving a cigarette (or ten) and a glass of wine (or a bottle), I know I have to get to my computer and write something. I can't say that I feel better all or most of the time. I find evenings hard sometimes because I'm not sure what to do with myself. But I can say that I'm doing more and that this morning I bounced into work singing!
I think this is where a lot of yesterday's blog came from. Sometimes we think that our success comes from some strange places: our relationship, our job, the place we live, but increasingly I think it comes from trying to do the best you can to risk being who we are, to risk trying to find out. Sometimes this means failing, landing quite spectacularly and publicly on our arses, sometimes it means risking everything on a dream and then losing that dream. For me, right now, it means sitting here, often well into the night (can't sleep, I got far too used to those late night bottles of wine) and writing who knows what for who knows who. I like the feeling of words flying from my fingertips, through the keyboard, into the ether, to you; not knowing what I'm about to write until I get here. And that's not so different from waking up in the morning, who knows where the day will take us?
My gorgeous friend Lisa told me today about a film she loves called 'Pay It Forward': the central concept to which is that you do three 'favours' or good things (like random acts of kindness) for three people and that this has a knock on effect, no thanks necessary, the kindness you extended to them causes them to act more kindly to others. I think the same is true of the way I treat myself sometimes. I'm going to pay it forwards, because writing my blog tonight and not smoking or drinking will make me leap out of bed tomorrow in a good mood. I'll be more attentive to my colleagues, I'll make them laugh, they'll be in a good mood and be cheerful about that meeting they're dreading.
By the end of the week, we'll have world peace and it'll all be down to me! Unless you all join in and then we can share the credit. If you doubt the efficacy of this plan, I urge you to have a quick look at the following links:
Imagine if these governments had played it forward? At worst, it can't do any harm!
Thanks to Jane for being the first person to post on the blog and for starting her own blog after reading mine - that's better than a million compliments and it inspired me to write tonight. Thanks also to the lovely Carl Burton, who kindly allowed me to use one of his beautiful paintings for the blog today.
And for a closer, check out the latest work by Guerilla Artist, Banksy: