This post is probably best not to be read by anyone other than me. It’s probably going to be self-indulgent. I think I need to get what is going on in my head out and and into the world, for vaguely therapeutic reasons.
It’s my birthday on Monday and it’s a bit of a strange weekend. I have the opportunity to spend Sunday night in Leeds, which is near my parents’ house, so we’re having lunch with them and then I will come back home on Monday.
I am sorry I have to interrupt this broadcast to say that it has been announced that Imelda Staunton is going to be in a National Theatre production of Follies next year and I am BESIDE myself with excitement.
Anyway, my father isn’t well and last week an old pipe in their kitchen ceiling disintegrated enough that water came through. It’s been fixed but I really don’t know how they are coping. I don’t know how much longer they can go on living independently. We all need to have a hard conversation. But when?
That is playing on my mind alongside my decision to drop my main job to two days a week and really try to make a go of switching careers. My September pay slip is going to be a real shock, and obviously I couldn’t do this if I lived alone. Teaching has worn me out so I am torn between loving the luxury of three days a week off the tortuous treadmill, and not having enough money to live on. Everyone I know is exhausted, and most of them are most certainly doing more than one job.
I’ve been listening to three very interesting programmes on Radio 4 – The Anatomy of Rest. They are still on the iPlayer.
A team called Hubbub which is made up of artists, scientists and mental health experts, amongst others, has worked with the Wellcome Collection on a huge survey of what rest means to people. The third, final programme revealed the results of the survey. The two other programmes explored the cultural and historical contexts of rest, and what the brain does when we are resting. And what the brain does do when we are resting is absolutely fascinating.
The bottom line is no matter how you rest – and people rest in different ways – it is integral to our well-being and mental health. For me resting is solitude, reading and swimming. Now I am off the work treadmill I have the opportunity to rest. And alongside that comes guilt – not that I should be doing something but that I am not earning a living. Earning a living in my life has meant, particularly over the past 12 yeas, being constantly exhausted. And so I go round and round.
So I am having to seriously think about what I want to do and it scares me. Yesterday someone asked me directly: what is your dream? And I can’t answer that. I’ve never been particularly ambitious or focused, and whilst I haven’t drifted through life, I have never had any sort of plan. In fact all too often I have been given jobs.
So what do I need to do? I am dabbling in my new career in a happy way with people I enjoy working with and who treat me with respect, but I am not being paid. I have been thinking about what I really enjoy doing, and I know I love to write. I can’t change careers at this stage and go back to the start, but I retrained and spent my on money on that so I need move forward on an achievable and satisfying level.
So I am going to manage an overhaul of their website, and start teaching myself how to write a certain type of article that I can try to get published in the industry’s media. Except no one wants to pay writers. But I have considerable experience and skills and I need to start drawing threads together.
I also thought this morning I would like to write a children’s book. Now that is a market which is near impossible to break into.
I did a Coaching course recently and here I am coaching myself. Coaching is about enabling people to find the answers to their problems within themselves and then give them the confidence to remove often self-inflicted obstacles so they can find their own positive ways of solving problems. I know the answers are in me, it’s just being able to stand back and look at it all objectively. It’s actually what you do teaching very young children. You make them independent by encouraging them to try new skills – and if they can’t do it the first time, then supporting them to persevere. And you teach through their interests, because who of all of us learns or focuses on any meaningful level if we are not engaged with the topic?
What tires me the most is the thought that I have spent my life wanting to work in areas undervalued by every Government I have lived under; those areas being part of the Arts, which as we all know add nothing to anyone’s lives or society as a whole because their reason for being is usually not to generate money.
It’s scary when it seems there is no safety net below you and yet I know I am privileged to be in this situation. But it can’t last very long – Christmas is appearing in the shops.
I’ll keep you all updated.
Note to self: upcoming reviews: Jonathan Unleashed, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Tracks, American Hustle, Six Stories and an Essay.