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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Changes

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but there’s something amiss in my world at the moment. Possible reasons are:

a)      The weather (if in doubt, blame that)

b)      My best friend moving to San Francisco next week (I’m excited for her but will miss her tremendously – just thinking about it makes me well up)

c)       Lack of exercise – after months of marathon training it’s now been over 6 weeks since I did any exercise due to my training-related back injury, so the endorphin supply is running low

d)      Lack of sleep – probably due to all the other reasons, but in recent days my quality of sleep has dropped dramatically, and I’ve noticed when my alarm goes off I’m often slap bang in the middle of a traumatic /stressful dream, which doesn’t get my day off to the best of starts

e)      My overdraft, which is once again getting so large it’s scaring me

f)       Pressure to succeed in writing (see point e, though this is about far more than just money, it’s about realising ambition – or not, as the case may be)

g)      The onset of wanderlust (which may or may not be related to point b)

h)      A combination of all of the above (most likely)

Whatever the reasons, I’m feeling out of sorts and stressed, and I need an action plan to ease me out of the doldrums. That plan is as follows:

a)      Hmm, not much I can do about the weather…

b)      Not much I can do about the friend moving to the US either…Oh dear…

c)       Aha! Here’s one I can work on! Lunchtime Pilates class booked. Let’s see how that goes…

d)      Earlier nights. Switch off technology, have a relaxing bath and go to bed with a good book. This approach I shall trial tonight.

e)      Stopping spending is the obvious one, or moving out of credit crisis London? Neither looking all that possible in the immediate future…Stop eating perhaps? Become a Breatharian?

f)       This one’s obvious: Write more. And believe in myself more. Also maybe give up sleeping and socialising as well as eating in order to find time to get my writing where it needs to be.

g)      I would say go travelling again, which would certainly address point a), but since it would do nothing to help point e), in the short term I’ll just have to settle for booking a (very) cheap weekend away in the UK to keep the wanderlust at bay.

I’m so glad I decided to write it all down. Just a few ‘small’ lifestyle changes and I’ll be back on an even keel before you can say ‘it’ll never work’….

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Eyes on the Prize

Aside

No writing has been achieved today, which isn’t ideal given that there are only three days left of NaNowrimo (two in which I will be able to write) and I’ve got a whopping 8,000 words to get down if I’m to chalk up another win. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I work best under pressure, so I’m just going to have to have faith in myself and hope that a couple of late night scribing sessions will be enough to see me through.

The truth is I’m shattered. Last night wasn’t the best night’s sleep as the wanderer had returned and was up to his usual nocturnal activities (not that i’m complaining as I love having him home – but, on that note, if anyone knows of any tips to help restless sleepers they’d be gratefully received). I can’t blame my tiredness entirely on my boyfriend’s return, however – I think it’s fair to say the relentless cycle of training and organising is finally beginning to take its toll.

Fortunately, however, I’ve only got thirteen more days of work before almost a month of holiday, so now it’s all about the countdown-I just have to keep spinning those plates for another few weeks and then I can relax. As far as a constantly on the move trip to a part of the world that’s recently been devastated by a natural disaster can be called ‘relaxing,’ that is…..

The Wall

After an exhausting two weeks of trying – and mostly failing – to juggle the craziness of work royal visits/VIP events, NaNoWriMo and the fledgling weeks of the marathon training plan, this afternoon I’ve hit a wall. And not just any wall; a great big Berlin Wall sized wall, that’s virtually impossible to circumnavigate. I say virtually, because with the imminent arrival of my boyfriend’s entire sibling clan (currently en route from Devon on the Mega Bus in order to celebrate his birthday weekend – the first night of which starts tonight at the Booka Shade album launch party), I really have no choice but to suck up the tiredness and crack on with the fun. Needless to say for the next three days at least my word count for NaNowrimo is going to be looking pretty shoddy-not ideal after yesterday’s lack of writing due to the evening event with work, but what can you do? There are only so many hours in a day, and this week it’s been Work-1, Writing/training/sleep-0. Nevermind, once the fun has had its wicked way with me I’m sure the pendulum will swing back the other way and restore some much needed equilibrium-and hopefully also sleep..Zzz.

Twisted optimism

Do you know that feeling of never having enough hours in the day, always chasing your tail to get things done and even then constantly feeling like you’re not doing anything properly? Work’s piling up, the walls are slowly but surely closing in until you struggle to breathe but there’s no let up? The working days becomes endless rounds of sweaty tube journeys, work, short evenings and insufficient sleep? You try to eat a balanced diet but after cramming in the evening running sessions you rarely have the energy to pull yourself up the stairs, let alone come over all Gordon Ramsey? You scarcely have a moment free to think about what you’d rather be doing than the activity you are doing at any given moment, and even weekend mini-breaks feel like a tease because they invariably leave you feeling even more exhausted than before you left?

Know that feeling? Yup, me too. It’s time to book a proper holiday, friend-you and me both. Or at least it would be if you could a) spare the time or b) spare the money. As it is you’re probably best off sucking it up and putting on that stuff upper lip we Londoners wear so well, confident in the knowledge this too shall pass, and the rainbow on the other side of the storm will be all the more beautiful for it.

The runner

She closed the door behind her and began to run, her feet pounding the pavement with reassuring clarity. As every second passed she felt the muscles in her chest relax. She breathed air deep into her lungs and expelled it forcefully. In, out, in, out, as if she was on autopilot. He couldn’t hurt her here, the streets were her domain. They whispered all their secrets in her ears. They knew she was like them; sleepless, never alone and yet lonely beyond words.

Nobody knew what she was going through, she was too ashamed to admit it – sometimes even to herself. She’d known from that first time it would be silenced, swallowed somewhere deep within her like Jonah in the whale; too far down for her screams to ever find release. He’d apologised, of course, begged for forgiveness and wormed his way back into her affections. Like a maggot in the core of an apple he’d corroded her from the inside out. She still looked the same on the outside, but inside she was empty, a gaping, hollow chasm of pain and despair.

Still she ran, as the sky began to darken and fat rain drops plopped onto her cheeks and mingled with her tears. How could she leave him? Where would she go? He’d severed all her ties, there was nobody left to save her. Her bruised skin slid like water over the weary mountains of her bones. Each step sent shooting spears of pain up through her veins like bolts of lightning. But she didn’t care. She would run on, she knew that now. Until her body was as tired as her mind and she began to stumble on the cold, hard ground beneath her. Until the night turned into day and the birds began to sing their morning song. She would run on.

The plight of Rhinopharyngitis

The Common Cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, acute coryza and, my personal favourite, rhinopharyngitis).

Symptoms: Frequent sneezing; throat like sandpaper; obscene amount of snot flowing indiscriminately from nasal region; general fatigue and listlessness, decreased appetite for everything other than tomato soup and chocolate-based foodstuffs.

Incompatible with: Sleeping soundly; going about your daily life, exercising, being cheerful.

Cure: INCURABLE (to put this in context, there’s recently been talk of finding a cure for AIDS, yet the most common illness of them all cannot be conquered? Who are these scientists? And are they serious?).

Did you know that the average adult contracts two to three colds a year, with the average child contracting between six and twelve? Whilst not debilitating, colds have the ability to zap us of our joie de vivre, making even the simplest of tasks seem suddenly unbearably difficult.

It starts with a general feeling of malaise and exhaustion. You’re too tired to go for a run, to cook dinner, to meet friends for a drink. Even the thought of hanging up the washing leaves you drained beyond all reasonable measure.

Then comes the sneezing; huge howlers that catch you unawares on buses and tube trains, prompting all those in the immediate vicinity to turn away in disgust. You wander the streets like a leper, residing in the shadows with mouth covered and a grotty tissue clasped in your sweaty hand.

Your throat is scratchy and no amount of water, wine or hot Ribena (just me?) can quench your thirst. You catch sight of yourself in the mirror and feel certain Caspar the friendly ghost would envy your complexion. Even your hair is lacklustre.

You go about your tasks like an automaton; without enthusiasm. You begin to avoid people, conversation dries up. Your single waking thought revolves around your need to be in bed – alone, and with a box set of your favourite TV programme. You have, in the space of a few short days, become a virtual recluse.

If armies used the common cold virus against their enemies in war it would surely help them secure victory. Imagine a whole squadron of trained killers feeling a bit below par, having to stop every now and then to blow their nose or take some cold and flu tablets. Imagine the gains the opposition could make!

Put simply (and crudely-from the mouth of someone in the throes of one right now), the common cold sucks balls – big, hairy, snot-filled ones.

So there.

I’m going slightly against my picture rule today but thought I’d spare you a picture of my ghostly face and eye bags, and instead post a picture of the common cold itself. Pretty little blighter ain’t it?