Starting Again

It’s the last day of July, finally with some sunshine, and I’ve been thinking about how best to explain my absences between blog posts.

It’s no secret that this has been a difficult year so far – Mum is doing well, though she still has a few rounds of chemo to go before it finishes in September (and the doctors are happy with her progress) – and that, in fact, the past three years have brought many emotional challenges. We humans are resilient creatures, and even if it doesn’t always feel like it, we have the ability to bear and hold up under the most difficult of circumstances, or at least, what feels like difficult circumstances to us. Maybe because I’m highly sensitive and can feel overwhelmed, some things have hit me harder than I would like. I am far more prone to anxiety and low mood (and occasionally depression) than I used to be, and I know it will be a lifelong struggle, a lifelong thing to manage. And lately, anxiety has been hitting me hard. I know that there are things I can do to manage it – creating a calm atmosphere, breathing exercises, distraction by focusing on something else, or writing it all out.

Writing has been hard, and I’ve been struggling to keep my focus on reading for long. Yet I always feel so much better after I’ve done some writing, as if a weight has been shifted. I may not be able to read new books at the moment, but at least I am able to re-read Harry Potter. I’ve been doing a lot of binge-watching on Netflix – and whilst I wouldn’t recommend it long term, at least they are stories and I try to watch a variety of things, from Marvel’s Iron Fist, to interesting documentaries. Life doesn’t stop when someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, and especially not when you’re like my Mum, who is upbeat and very much a list-maker with a can-do attitude. Yet everyone copes with things differently, and some days I’m still processing and just want to give my mind a rest. It’s also summer, and I’ve always struggled with mental health during the warmer months.

This summer has had its good moments though – from a long week in Southwold, to a book group meet up with some of my favourite people, and spending time at our local pub with my husband. It’s like most of us, really – some days are better than others. I’m grateful for the good days, friends, family, and our Choco (the cat). We’ve had some wonderful sunny periods too – where I’ve been able to write in the garden or in the studio with the doors and windows open. The builders have finally downed tools and the only major things left to do are the hall carpet and a major clear-out in my sister’s room, and our own room. Of course now that my parents are retired, they’re itching to really give the house the attention it deserves, and I have a feeling that they’re not done with the DIY just yet.

The garden is a delight, especially on a day like this when the sun has come out and there’s a mild wind. In the studio there are leafy light patterns swaying, and the shutters occasionally bang against the window frames. It is difficult sometimes living with my parents (we are all far from perfect, and like living with housemates, tempers can be frayed), but there are plenty of things to counter-balance that, and I’m learning to protect my boundaries with working, relaxing, and creating the life we need. Balance is always key, and I know that the goal is to save up enough to be able to find a place of our own. I am grateful for the support they give us, and that we are getting to experience living in this part of North London. Realistically, we probably won’t be able to buy a place in this area, or in London itself, so it is good to have this experience while we can.

With blogging, it has been difficult to find the motivation, to feel free enough to be able to be honest without compromising the standards I set myself. As writers, though, so much of what we do is about sharing – about hoping that what we share will somehow help other people, or will help us make sense of things. It’s better for me to share these things here because they do affect my writing, and they do make it hard for me to be my best writer self. Yet I don’t think people read other people’s blogs without some expectation of finding emotional truth. Blogging has its roots in journaling, and in journaling we can often find emotional truth. I try to create a balance between sharing and wisdom, or lessons I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt many lessons, and some I’m still trying to work out. The book I’m writing, Fragments, has a lot of that emotional openness. I think some of our best work as writers comes when we face our fears and let them go.

I do feel like I’m starting again with the move into a new month. A new month brings new opportunities, and since it’s the last month of summer in the UK, I feel like I can make the most of it. Every new day is a new start – the clock re-sets, and even though we are still the same people, with the same worries and concerns, we can choose to do some things differently; celebrate every moment that we get to be here, with the people we love – on this strange, beautiful planet.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. NeuronTree says:

    As a blogger, going through the ups and downs is hard! You know you have an audience, but when te times are tough it’s hard to, as you said, find the motivation to write. And when you do want to write, you find it hard to draw the line as to what’s appropriate to share and what’s not (or at least that’s what I experience). I just went through that as well. One thing I did find when I came back is that those who had been following me for a while were still there and remembered where I was when I posted six months before, which was insanely encouraging. You and yours come first! Your followers and readers will still be there when you’re ready 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Thank you, such an encouraging comment. We do need to look after ourselves and our friends/family first. I do find it hard to make sure there’s no ‘over-sharing’ but I think we just find a way to balance things eventually 😊 Hope things are okay with you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your posts; always something to think about. Interesting that you say your mental health suffers in the warmer months. I suffer from anxiety, too, and it’s so much worse in summer. I wonder why that it is. You would think that warm, sunny weather would help.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Thank you! Yes, it’s very strange. Although we’ve been getting more rain than sun lately! I do love the sunshine, in small doses. Maybe it could be something to do with being someone who appreciates longer evenings or something. There must be a few articles around about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You should take your time and give yourself rest. It’s always good to see you back, but we all want you to be happy too. I’m glad that your mother’s doing good – I know how it feels, even though what my mother went through was not cancer. You’ve come so far, you can surely go further. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Liz Ward says:

      I hope your mother is doing well? Yes, rest is always good at times like these, and some days are better than others. And thank you for being so supportive ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother is going great, and I hope the same for yours too! xx

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks so much for your honesty. I love your writing and the way you share your thoughts and ideas about your different projects and they way you manage them in your life. I think films and television series are a wonderful source of storytelling and inspiration, by the way, and they often find a way into in my own creative writing. I’ve lost my motivation for blogging recently and I’m only just starting to attempt a weekly blog again, writing about what I’ve been up to even if it hasn’t been very much. I don’t feel I want to share everything, though, and I sometimes find that what I hold back on finds a way, sometimes obtusely, into a poem. I think that sometimes there’s a tension in what we withhold which is valuable and not to be squandered. Thanks for this post and I love following you here and on Instagram. Best wishes, – Josephine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment – I hope getting back into blogging is going well? I’m trying the same now – managed two last week, although will just try with one most weeks. I definitely agree that there is a tension in what we withhold, and it’s a good thing to know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m starting a residency in a school (going in for the first time tomorrow!). I hope to blog about this. Well done for managing two in one week! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Liz Ward says:

        That’ll be exciting! Can’t wait to read about it 🙂 We can do this!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Delilah says:

    We have so many things in common. 🙂 I’m definitely with you on the anxiety thing. I don’t think anxiety just goes, at least not unless some of the reasons for it change. Glad to see your name pop up in my notifications again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      🙂 Yeah, I’m really trying to change things around with anxiety. Lately have felt better – possibly because I’m making an effort to get to bed earlier, write a journal entry most days, and try to pace myself a little slower. I feel very lucky to have spaces I can escape to when things are a little too much! I hope you’re well? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Delilah says:

        I’m glad you’re finding a way though. I’m OK just now, thanks… a bit apathetic. Maybe I’ll get round to posting a blog post soon… it’s already written, just needs to be posted. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Liz Ward says:

        I look forward to it. I love your writing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Life has a way of shaking things up but it seems like you are ready to come back a stronger person. Best of luck with your writing as you continue to overcome any challenges you may face!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      It definitely does have a way of shaking things up! Thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My best wishes are with you 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Thank you – and wish you all the best too ❤

      Like

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