Rising from the Ashes

Dad told me I should write more. At the very least some updates on my blog. His dream of having an award-winning novelist of a daughter seems to be dying by the day. And, yet, from the glowing embers of this dream a phoenix (of sorts) is rising. It’s small and scraggy now, stumbling on Bambi-esque legs amongst the ashes, coughing and shielding its eyes from the light. But it exists, this spectre of old, only now coming into being after years of steady manifestation.

By ‘It’ I am referring to my venture back into the world of psychology, and, simultaneously, my journey into the unknown-and-terrifying-yet-also-exciting world of coaching – in the form of a combined Master’s degree.

It’s not exactly how I’d planned it. We thought we’d be in New York City by spring. I’d envisaged endless cups of coffee, walks in Central Park with a new puppy; days stretching out with nothing but study and writing and play. But life doesn’t always work out how you planned. Which means that sometimes you just have to play the hand you’ve been dealt.

We’re not going to New York anymore. Already it feels like a pipe dream blowing in the wind. At first I shed a lot of tears, and then berated myself for mourning a life that never was. The tears dried up. Reality bit. I’d signed up for this Master’s safe in the knowledge I’d have ample time to devote to it. At most I’d have been working on a part time basis. Now, things have changed. We’re still in Brussels, and will be for the foreseeable future. I still have a full time job (really a full-and-then-some time job). Suddenly the very thought of finding more than twelve hours a week to do my course work has me coming out in hives. Right now I’m barely managing six.

I am exhausted. There have been more tears, for this and other – more personal – reasons that I won’t go into here. I am struggling to find my equilibrium. I tell myself that I should meditate and then remember that ‘should’ is a performance inhibiting thought; a thinking error. I’m learning all kinds of new things like this, even though I make such errors daily, sometimes hourly. I tell myself I’m not good enough on a constant repetition loop in my head. Compare myself to others. Panic. I do a LOT of panicking.

And then I switch on my computer, turn on Skype and I become a coach. I listen attentively and empathetically. I silence my inner chatter and focus on another person for a whole hour. And I take them through a process, and share with them what little I know of concepts like self-limiting beliefs. And, like magic, almost always there’s a moment when their faces light up and they get it, really get it. And in that moment I’m suffused with so much joy and energy. Which is how I know that even though it’s hard, and will likely get harder, and even though I don’t know where I’m going to end up, I’m on the right path.

phoenix

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Nothing ventured, nothing lost?

The old adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” might just as easily (slash negatively) be “nothing ventured, nothing lost.”

At least when one does not seek to rock the equilibrium in their life they can be relatively assured that nothing will change for the worse – right? I used to think so, but since joining the ever-growing ranks of the redundant (well, nearly-redundant – I got out just in time) I no longer agree.

Why? Because there’s no such thing as equilibrium in life, it’s a fallacy. Everything is shifting and changing all the time. Anyone who thinks they are immune to change is most likely in for a nasty shock at some time or other, whether personally or professionally. We humans are hardy creatures, but we’ve evolved over millions of years to be this way. If we hadn’t adapted to change we would no longer exist. Just like the dinosaurs – and HMV.

What I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that it’s far better to seek out change than to wait for it to be thrust upon us. At least that’s the argument I’m currently using to make me feel less panicky about the particular path I’ve sought out; that of the part time PR professional/part time freelancer.

Last night I sat down and took a long, hard look at my finances. And it wasn’t pretty. If I was scared to go part time before, right now it wouldn’t be far off the mark to say I’m petrified. But as I’ve already said, there are no guarantees of constancy in life, and who’s to say I won’t make millions from my leap into the unknown once the initial (and sadly inevitable) period of poverty has passed?

Today, in reaction to the rising sense of panic about my impending part-time-dom [sic], I’ve been updating my online biographies and tidying up my website in preparation for my ‘official’ launch as a freelancer. I’ve also emailed a couple of agencies about getting on their books. Already I’m enjoying this feeling of being in control of my career. Long may it continue.

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This pic makes me laugh – it was taken during a pub quiz a couple of years ago where the quizmaster gave each team two pots of play doh and challenged them to make something. I forget the exact theme, but I was clearly feeling similarly worried about money – or lack thereof – as I am now if what I made was anything to go by!