It’s been a month since my last post – where I wrote about the difficulties of last year and the things I was looking forward to this year, and the goals I had – and it feels more like two months. January was once again incredibly hard work, with my Mum having ups and downs, then finally having to go back into hospital prematurely for her second operation (and because her infection levels once again started to rise). The builders were still working on the last bathroom – they are only just finishing this week. Mum’s operation went well but she is understandably tired and on morphine for the moment. I can’t visit as I’ve caught a cold from my week in Amsterdam, but I’m hoping to go later this week.
I recognise how great it is to have renovations on the house, and they will be life improving once the house is back to a normal, uncluttered, clean state, but stress levels have been high for all of us. My Mum is organised and methodical with her approach to things, so it has fallen to me to pick up the pieces with that and make sure my Dad keeps things passably tidy and ticking along, though I am proud of him for taking on much more responsibility and keeping things going with the builders. My husband Dan and I went away for a week for our 16th anniversary (and our third year of marriage!) to Amsterdam this past week, which was a great change of scenery. I loved the canals and the bridges, the cosy sense of gezelligheid in the bars and cafes with candles flickering and fairy lights, plus the friendliness of the people. I’ll be writing a post about our visit and what we did, along with photos, this week.
I did as much as I could of my essay book – Fragments – last month, though I still have quite a bit of writing left to do. I’m feeling more positive about it now that I’ve finished a few of the unfinished essays, and I have a deadline of mid-March for publication assuming all goes smoothly with editing, cover design, and layout. It’s something that I’m both excited and nervous to share with you all. I assumed that my first published book would be a novel, but in many ways it feels as if this is the right thing for me. I’ve been blogging for 11 years, sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It feels like a natural progression to write a book of non-fiction essays and opinion pieces. After that, I will be going full steam ahead writing the first novel, as well other other writing projects. I hope I’m not wearing anyone’s patience thin by pushing the deadlines – it’s a new experience for me finishing and writing my first book! It will get done.
Of course, the political and social climate of our world has been changing too. I’ve been trying to think of a way to write about it, as I’ve been digesting and processing everything. I’ve been by measures horrified, saddened, angry, and heartbroken by far-right thinking, extreme views, and the rhetoric I’ve been seeing. At the same time, I’ve been trying to steel myself, to gain the energy for the long fight ahead, for the mental and emotional energy it will take to deal with what will come in the future, and for the campaigning, thinking, and supporting we will need to do, for all kinds of things. But mostly strength for each other, for people who need us, for the survival of the planet, environment, other animals. We need love and to listen to each other. Right now I am focused on my family, as we are going through this difficult period, but equally I’m listening and thinking about what I can do with my skills and what I can contribute – whether small or on a larger scale. We can all do something. The world needs our voices. We have voices, and we can use them.
Within all of this, too, is the importance of looking after ourselves and being compassionate towards ourselves. Last month, my biggest lesson was that I can’t do it all – especially not alone – and that it’s important to ask for help or time out when you need it. Life is always about tipping off balance and finding it again. You can’t keep balanced all the time, but recognising when you’re too close to falling over is something that gets easier when you recognise the signs. I felt so much better once I realised that I need to let go sometimes, and let things be what they are. Do the things that make you happy, and spend time with the people who make you happy. Spend quality time with yourself too, whether ten minutes or a whole day.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. ” – Jean Shinoda Bolen