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,
Happy blogaversary. I get it – everything you say, I get. I found myself nodding at so much. I’ve tied myself in knots this year, taken on way too many commitments to other people and completely reversed from what I say my purpose is. And all to try and fill some empty places inside. It’s going to take a while to unwind – I can’t see me doing it until at least March as I won’t back away from the commitments I’ve made, but that seems so far away at the moment.
Thanks Jo – for commenting, for the blogiversary wishes, and for understanding what I’m talkin ’bout here! I know that you tend to take on too much and get yourself too busy, and ultimately stressed. It’s nice to have stuff to keep us engaged and fulfilled but we can tend to take it too far and that’s not so great. I hope that you find moments of stillness and quiet amongst the busy, until such a time you can lighten the load! xo
Look after yourself. I listen to talks on the Indigo Project and she said about week 5 of lockdown, she and all her collegues were inundated with calls from patients they hadn’t seen for years. Basically the lockdown and nothing to do made a lot of past hurts rise to the surface for people (because they had nothing to distract themselves from it – which in one way is a good thing because they’re forced to address it. So you are in very good company with half the world (at least!) in the same boat. I also think don’t under estimate the peri-menopausal thing. I am watching so many friends reassess their life at the moment. I think women have really done a number on themselves by not talking about this and preparing kids as a fact of life…I feel like I’m working it all out but it’s been going on for women since forever…lastly, will send you a great article on surge capacity. I shared it on my fb and it resonated with so many friends. That all said, addressing emotions is a great thing to do, and ultimately, I think a lot of peoplewill be happier as a result of all this, as we’ll be better emotional intelligence.
Hi Lydia, Covid has really shone a light on mental health that’s for sure. It’s basically impossible to not be impacted by it in some way. The peri-menopausal thing has unfortunately been very difficult for me. I’m not one of the lucky ones who sails through it without much hassle. Not only that but it’s been going on for nearly 10 years now. A whole decade! I was mid-late 40’s when I started really feeling it. There was a really good segment on Peri-Menopause and Menopause on ‘Insight’ on SBS the other night. A couple of the speakers are bloggers – Kayte Murphy of Woogsworld and Kim Berry of All Consuming Foods. It’s great to see conversation about it happening. Those two have a podcast too called “The Hot Flush”. The medical world really let’s women down in this area I feel. It should be far better understood. There should be more education around it. And knowledge on how to help women through it should be far more advanced and widely understood by now. Sigh! One day hopefully!
For the record, I use my blog as therapy, and so I can get all my thoughts out without driving people around me nuts, so whether you make money or not, doesn’t make it any more or less important. And if you love it, then it’s important.
My blog is my therapy too … but sometimes I get so caught up in it (obsessed and perfectionism etc) that I forget to take care of myself. I honestly don’t care that I don’t earn a living from it. I love my little space on the internet. It means a lot to me.
Happy Blogiversary, Min!
Thank you for checking in and I am glad you’ve idenitified what’s causing the unbalance in your life as well as finding a way forward under the guidance of your psychologist.
Thanks so much SSG. Much love back at you! xoxo
Happy blogiversary, Min! I’m glad you’ve seen your psychologist to discuss your thoughts and feelings, and figuring out your way forward. Take care and stay safe! #lovin’lifelinky
Thanks Natalie! You take care and stay safe too. xo
Oh Min, so much of this post resonated with me. I almost gave up on my blog last year after a tumultuous year. However it felt like such a bit part of me that I started to post again but withdrew from trying to keep up with everyone else. I rarely read other blogs these days but I do try to keep up with my blogging friends on social media. I too feel as though I have to prove myself to everybody and it is unhealthy. I completely get that. I’m thinking of taking another break soon as I’m finding I’m lacking the inspiration to write since this Covid thing has us all grounded. I will be having my 8th year blogging anniversary too in November so I’m just hanging in there until then. I will still definitely follow you on Instagram. You take care.
Thanks so much for your comment Kathy and I’m so glad this post resonated with you. Makes me feel less weird/alone etc. I find it SO HARD to keep up with everyone else. It takes a lot of my energy to produce a blog post let alone read and comment on a zillion more. I think this has gotten harder the further into this perimenopause phase I’ve gone (concentration/energy/etc). I also found out today that I’m severely iron deficient and will be having an iron infusion next week (that explains the lack of energy and always being tired). Hopefully that will make a big difference for me! Covid too has had a huge affect on my mental health. Happy 8th blogiversary for you too for November (in case I miss it then). Please do keep in touch and hopefully we will still meet in person one day soon! xo
Just came here after seeing Kathy mention your post. I remember meeting with you just before I left Brisbane because you were thinking about blogging and wanted to pick my brain. Eight years… that’s amazing!
I love that you’re learning all of these new things about yourself. I need to do some similar work myself and think – for me – it’s gonna be about acceptance re where I’m at and I get a sense that’s something you’re working on as well. Every so often I try to stop and remind myself “THIS” is my life. I need to appreciate it. Live it. Not stress about the things I don’t have or haven’t done. I know you’ve had health issues and I have as well recently and I think if I didn’t have long on this earth I’d truly regret some of the time I waste on angst that isn’t necessary. xxx
Hi Deb – yes that get together we had at Oxford Street was over 8 years ago. Amazing isn’t it? I certainly am learning a lot about myself. I’m a bit complex it seems! lol I think this age seems to call for a lot of introspection and adaptation to this new phase of life and the reality of less life left to live then already lived so we want the time left to be purposeful and fulfilling! I agree with what you said about if we didn’t have long left on this earth we’d regret the time beating ourselves up. Good reminder to be kind to ourselves. Take good care of yourself and keep in touch! xo
Wow Min – there are so many things I can identify with this in regard to trying to find your purpose in something other than what other people think or judge you by. I went through quite an unsettled time recently and I think now it was because I was thinking I didn’t “deserve” this happy, peaceful, content life – it’s like I’ve been on holidays and now I have to step up and get back to work or to something “worthwhile” or creating an income. I’m currently in the process of reminding myself that I’m allowed to not work, that we’re okay without my income, that working is not my ideal life, that life is good – and I’m worthy of that. It’s tricky to get my head around.
I really hope you find your sweet spot where you can rest in who and what you are and no longer feel the need to justify your life to others – I’m not sure where that concept comes from, but I see it a lot in Midlife women – we seem to feel that we need to prove ourselves constantly, be busy, be productive, be all things to all people……. and we really don’t (and that’s the key!) xx
So lovely to hear from you Leanne and I’m so pleased you found things in this post you can identify with. I know you’ve had a similar unsettled time adjusting to ‘life after work’. Why is it that as women we often feel we have to justify our worth and that we need to prove ourselves and be productive and so on and so on. We ARE allowed to not work. IN fact I truly think we’ve eared this phase of life. When I think back to how busy my life has been and how many hats I juggled for decades … yes I’ve earned a bit of an easier life now. I just need my subconscious to catch up with the conscious. Keep in touch and stay well! xoxo
I read this post with great understanding from a personal viewpoint. Ah Min, really feel for you…it’s been a hard road alright these past few years and coupled with your dad’s passing and then you had some illnesses, and now COVID…what a trifecta. How fortunate for you, that your psychologist was still available. I too had an amazing one to get me through 2016 into 2017 and with the work she did and taught me, and my own practice as a result, my cancer diagnosis and subsequent life stuff have been ‘better’ because of learned practice. You do not need to justify yourself to anyone anymore. That is a truth, but we who are hard workers and pleasers find that a challenge. Glad you blogged, glad you shared and Happy Blogiversary. Take care, Denyse.
Thanks so much Denyse. I guess I have had a few things on my plate haven’t I, but then so have you and yours quite a bit more frightening and confronting! You’re incredible how despite all that you’re going through you still have so much compassion and empathy for others. You truly are a special person. Thank you! xo
Hi Min, first of all, happy blogiversary! Glad you’re still here with us. I just want to say something about grief. I believe it never leaves us. I can still feel so painfully my grief for certain people who left us. I don’t think it ever goes away, so I find it easier to try to think about the good times we had with that person, instead of focusing on the fact that they’re gone. Either way it’s hard to live with grief, I understand the difficulty you’re having with the loss of your father. I hope, and trust, that you’ve found the right Psychologist to help you through this extremely crazy and difficult time. Take care.
Hi Cheryl, thanks so much for the blogiversary wishes and for sharing your thoughts on grief. I agree with you that we’ll grieve forever. I know there will never be a magic day when suddenly I no longer grieve and miss my Dad. I think though that I’m still in the adapting to living with grief phase. I saw this thing that I think explains grief so very well. It’s the ball in a box analogy which you can see here: https://www.indy100.com/article/grief-viral-thread-lauren-herschel-ball-in-box-analogy-death-8792541 Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful comment! xo
Hi Min, just wanted to get back to you and say that’s a great analogy about the ball in the box. I can completely relate to that. Let’s hope your ball continues to get smaller in the coming months/years. Take care of yourself. x
Thanks for getting back to me Cheryl. I agree. I think the ball in the box is the best explanation of grief I’ve ever seen. I’d say that my very large ball has shrunk somewhat since the early days but it’s probably still medium sized. xo
Min, thanks so much for sharing. You’re not alone. Your post is very relatable , perhaps more than I imagined it would be.
Continue to be kind to you. xoxo
I’m so glad (but not glad if you know what I mean) that you find the post relatable Leanne. Trying to be kind to myself. Hope you’re doing the same! xo