Hey there! It’s nearly a month since my last post, so I thought I’d check in and let you know how I’m going.
I’m not feeling my usual self just yet but I understand better now why this is the case and I know that by stepping back and taking a break I’m absolutely doing the right thing – for me, and for the blog!
I’ve been so busy sharing my thoughts and tips on how to take care of oneself – self care, ways and means of obtaining zen, ways to look after ourselves in midlife etc, that I’ve neglected myself and have not been practicing what I preach (so to speak).
I decided to start seeing a Psychologist to help me unravel the overwhelm and various things that have dragged me down and taken me off course. Not just any Psychologist though. This particular one I used to see about 8 years ago when I first left my corporate work life. She doesn’t work where she used to anymore. She’s started her own business and is doing fabulously which is no surprise to me. I found her and thankfully, regardless of her busy schedule, she’s fit me in and I’ve seen her twice so far. I’m so grateful because I like her and she knows me and some of my history and that all makes such a difference.
Let me just say, there is nothing to be ashamed of by seeing a Psychologist. In fact I highly recommend it! Mine is helping me see things I couldn’t see about myself and helping me to process my thoughts and feelings. It’s like decluttering a really messy cupboard or drawer. Hopefully, with time I will feel less clutter and more order in this head of mine again. Here’s some things I forgot to take into account about myself. I’m juggling a few things, including …
- Grief – on 2 December it will be three years since I lost my Dad
- Peri-Menopause/Menopause – a plethora of symptoms
- A world pandemic – the stress & anxiety caused by many months of 24hr bad and frightening news & the changes to lifestyle caused by this pandemic
- Identity, value & purpose issues in my ‘kinda’ retired phase of life whilst those that I live with are still all working
… and so I need to treat myself with compassion and be kinder to myself.
My blog has sort of replaced my job. It is very important to me and I love it. It doesn’t earn me any money. In fact it costs more than I ever earn from it. There were times in the early days that I thought it might be able to earn some income making kind of money but I soon realised and accepted that it would never be the case. I’ve earned some now and then – just a little pocket money to help pay for some of the costs involved really. More importantly though, the blog has provided me with an outlet for many of the things I need: a creative outlet – writing, researching, thinking, creating; routine, brain stimulation and purpose other than running a household; connectivity with others outside of my home and a sense of belonging – ‘the blogosphere’ etc; sharing and hopefully sometimes even helping others.
Often people say to me – what do you do? I heard you’ve retired – how do you fill your days? They probably mean no harm but these kind of questions make me feel inadequate, like I’m not contributing to society, and basically that I am “less than” someone who is ‘busy’ and deemed ‘successful’. I really don’t know how to answer these questions. If I say “I write a blog” they want more information and expect to hear how I make money from it. This is why other ventures have become possible ‘business ventures’. My Psychologist has helped me to identify that just about everything I do (that I enjoy) ends up becoming something I do with the thought of how can I do it better, how can I make this a business (eg photography, crochet, my art). This pressure that I put on myself, more often that not, results in absolutely killing the enjoyment I obtain from the activity, overwhelms me, stops everything in its tracks, and thus begins an inner dialogue of critical self loathing. Even my foray into fostering kittens, though I love it, was partially me seeking purpose, value and approval by others. It appears that I rarely ever do anything for myself purely for the joy of it. It all comes back to this deep need to try and find my identity, value & purpose and have the approval of others.
A few things I do know about myself are these:
- I don’t do ‘busy’ anymore. These days I like things spaced out and done in my own time. I also think that being ‘busy’ all the time is dangerous and not at all healthy, even for those a lot younger than me. Trust me, I found out the hard way what being ‘busy’, to the point of living with long term chronic stress, can do to you. My friend Monica contributed a post – ‘Becoming Unbusy‘ – as part of my Zen Tip Tuesday series which is well worth a read.
- I don’t want a full time job – because I don’t want to be always busy, stressed and tired anymore. Been there. Done that!
- I am not driven by money. I am driven by a need for purpose and feeling of value, a need for a sense of achievement and self-pride.
I told my Psychologist about how I have trouble reading a book these days. My concentration isn’t good (thanks menopause). However, the other day I took myself out by the pool and managed to read a few chapters of “Phosphorescence” by Julia Baird. Strangely, if I put myself into more of a ‘holiday setting’ I seem more likely to give myself permission to relax and read. Whilst reading this book there was a section that very much resonated with me. I was telling the Psychologist about it. It was about SILENCE and the value of silence for our mental wellbeing. It pointed out that silence is not the absence of ALL sound. It is the absence of man made sound. Silence is listening and connecting to nature! It spoke of the reverence and respect Indigenous Australians have for silence which is called ‘Didirri’. I told her that I was so taken with the topic that when I feel up to it I will be writing a blog post about it. You know what she said to me? She said:
That’s a lovely idea Min but how about first of all you actually practice this thing that you’re so taken with. How about you take the time to find ways to enjoy silence in nature yourself first!
‘Oh yeah’, I thought. This is where I go wrong all the time. My first thought when I come across something I think is wonderful and worthwhile and great is to share it with others because I want to help others. I don’t stop to contemplate partaking and benefiting from it myself first! I’ve become too much ‘doing’ and not enough ‘being’. I’m always ‘striving’. I’m giving the oxygen mask to others before myself. I’ve gone so off track. Oops!
My Psychologist has helped me to realise a lot of things, these are just some of them:
- Value and worth is not only measured by whether you have a successful business and/or income earning job or how much you achieved each day. Value and worth can also be measured by being a good friend, being a kind person, being a loving mother, for example. We don’t put on people’s gravestones “he was a successful businessman”. We put things like “a kind and gentle soul – a wonderful father” etc. It’s who we are that is more important at the end of the day.
- I’m 56 not 36 (which is what I like to think I am) – there comes a time in life when we are meant to slow down and that is ok. We can’t always live life like we used to. We need to adapt and change as we move into different phases of our lives.
- Most people have been challenged and affected by this pandemic. Looking after ourselves and our mental health at this time is so very important.
- I’m still grieving.
So there you go, a snippet of where things are at with me at the moment. I need more space and time out to get myself sorted but I will post whenever I feel that I want to. I’ll definitely be doing a Taking Stock post towards the end of this month when it’s due. In the meantime, you can keep up with me on Instagram. I’m not posting as much as I used to but you’ll probably see a bit more in my stories than in the main feed.
Happy 8 Year Blogiversary!
Before I go I just want to mark an occasion. In September 2012 I posted my first ever blog post on my first ever blog – the one I had before this one. This month I’ve been blogging for eight (8) years! So happy 8 year Blogiversary to me!
Stay safe and take good care of yourself!
Ciao for now,