The three things I’ve learned from Russell T Davies this week

I think I’ve mentioned my love of Russell T Davies before, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve been swept away by his recent Channel 4 drama ‘It’s a Sin’ about the 1980s AIDS epidemic within the London gay community.

I feel as though I should add a caveat here that it’s funny, and just lovely, and warm and poignant, and heartbreakingly sad, because I’m about to get all serious, and I don’t want to put you off it one jot, so there you are, watch it at your first opportunity, and be prepared for accidental spoilers ahead, because I’m tired and easily distracted.

Three things have lingered with me from watching it, one as a writer, one as a parent, and one as a (hopefully) conscientious member of society.

The first thing is a note for writers that the old writing adage of finding the story only you can tell, is far more complex than it seems, and for the white middle class British people amongst us, who have never felt in a position to have experienced anything unique or unusual, there is hope. In interviews Russell T Davies has talked about the way this story is personal to him. How he had friends in London in the eighties, when he had just come out and he would visit them, in their flat they labelled ‘The Pink Palace’ and enjoy parties and how he attended funerals of friends as AIDS swept through the gay community in London, but he wasn’t any of those characters. He didn’t live in London, he didn’t work his way through men. He was at Oxford University studying, trying to save his money so he could become a writer.

It wasn’t his story to tell, it wasn’t the story only he could tell.

And it was.

Because he can write, beautifully, warmly, about these people, this community. He is a wonderful voice for an untold story. He can convey the fun of the moment, as well as the tragedy. On the sidelines, he saw things, heard things, he can use to share that world. We don’t have to be elbow deep in an experience to write well about it, and we have to assume, we might be the only one willing or able to give it a go, or to do it well.

The second thing, comes from two different wonderful speeches in the series, one from a teacher, and the other to the mother of a gay man.

The former is about section 28. (I remember a lecturer at my university in the late 90s about to talk to us about homosexuality in plays, and mentioning that what he was doing was illegal, that we were welcome to call the police, and he could lose his job, because he wasn’t technically allowed to do anything which could be construed as promoting homosexuality, which included talking about it. That was the first I’d ever heard about section 28, which had been in place throughout my entire education.) Homosexuality had been wiped out of children’s lives, and they didn’t even know it.

The latter speech was about not seeing your gay child right in front of your eyes, not looking properly, and it made my heart clench, because I want to look properly at my children, I want to be accepting of who they are. I want to know them honestly, but I was oblivious to gay people until I was about 15. I don’t think I even knew they existed.

Luckily for me, one friend came out, then another, then another, until I was surrounded by gay people and I couldn’t unsee it, but my parents weren’t homophobic, or prejudiced, they just didn’t think to mention it. They didn’t have any gay friends or relatives, and section 28 had seeped its way into their subconscious too.

I hope I show my children the world as it is, the full spectrum of humanity, so they see it, so they don’t slip into my blind spot.

The last thing, in this pandemic, was the lack of empathy for victims of AIDS, the lack of awareness of what was happening, and the assumption that whatever it was, it was due to a fault in the victims, something they had brought on themselves. We abandoned people in need, we decided there was them and us, and we shut them out in the cold.

And 40 years later we’ve told that story, but there seems to be another story every year. About people we’ve ignored who needed our help, people we’ve decided aren’t like us, so we don’t need to give them our empathy.

There are people right now, somewhere, that we’re ignoring, assuming their misfortune is self-inflicted, and we’re wrong. And it’s not enough that in 40 years time someone might tell brilliant heartfelt stories about them. It just isn’t, however glorious Russell T Davies might be.

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Am I saving the world, or making it worse?

I have a dread, that one day my children will ask me what I did to stop the climate crisis, and I won’t know what to say.

I watched the documentary ‘I am Greta’ over the Christmas break, and I was crying buckets, not because it was so well made, or even because Greta Thunberg is so inspirational, although she is pretty inspirational.

I watched her walk into her first climate conference, and sit down with a group of representatives from different countries, and I think I saw something that she didn’t, not back then.

Almost all of them looked as though they were still in their 20s. I’m sure there are people out there who get to the top of their field in their 20s, the Doogie Howsers of world leadership, but it just felt as though no-one was taking the whole thing seriously, they were sending the youngest person in the office, someone to be a seat at the table, but not anyone important.

I found that immeasurably sad, with hindsight.

That conference happened years ago, when we didn’t take climate change seriously, when it wasn’t a crisis.

Because we’re taking it seriously now right?

Right?

I have a dread, that one day my children will ask me what I did to stop the climate crisis, and I won’t know what to say.

I’m in my 40s. I’m one of the grown ups that Greta Thunberg is railing at, and I deserve it. We all deserve it, but I still don’t know what to do.

Growing up in the eighties and nineties it was simple.
1. Use aluminium drinks cans not steel because they can be recycled.
2. Don’t use CFCs in deoderant. It’s creating a hole in the ozone layer. It’s also in fridges, but you can’t do anything about that.
3. Get a catalytic convertor for the family car, and switch to unleaded petrol.
4. Replace the lightbulbs with energy saving lightbulbs.

That and turn things off at the plug, were pretty much our limit as to what we were being asked to do to save the planet.

Now I am overwhelmed on a daily basis with information on what I’m doing wrong. How I can or can’t do anything to influence my own or my children’s future survival; how world leaders aren’t doing anything; how I can do something, but it will cost me twice as much, or require at upfront investment I can’t afford, or involve me spending a lot more time I don’t have.

And I feel like a petulant child. And so so very guilty, every time I throw away plastic film, or get in my car. I want to be doing this stuff right, and I don’t even know how, practically speaking.

I write to my MP, to local councillors. I try to buy locally grown seasonal vegetables and fruit. I eat mainly vegan, but I don’t know if any of that does anything. We still have a gas boiler, and two cars, and I buy those tiny pots of yoghurt for the kids that are virtually encased in plastic.

And recycling is a myth, and my kids leave mounds of soggy cereal in their bowls, and we gave up on cloth nappies in the last lockdown, because we were just tired, and those are going to sound like pretty weak excuses, when I’m haunted by David Attenborough as we battle our way through the Staffordshire monsoon season 50 years from now.

I don’t have the answers, so I’m trying to find them out, make them simple and share them, whenever I can.

Would you like something? I made these to use as a Christmas gift for friends, but never had the money to make them up.

I was going to put them together as a calendar of seasonal fruit and vegetables in the UK, so people could glance up at the wall as they planned meals and see what was in season.

Feel free to print one up for yourself if you like. In fact please do. I would love that. I’d feel like I was doing something.

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The photographs I’m taking for my children

I have to confess, the urge to stick a number in the title of this post and turn it into a listicle, is strong, but I’m powering through.

I was thinking about this the other day, because I had a few photos printed, which I print every year, and I wondered whether anyone else has the same problem as me.

I’m curating my children’s lives.

This might be because I lost Mum just before I had small no.1, or it might be because I was 39 when I had him. Either way I felt mortality tapping me on the shoulder, and I wanted him to have access to things if I wasn’t around to show him or tell him about them.

These things have included, interviews I conduct every birthday, and a letter I write to each of the smalls every birthday telling them about what they are like right now, and a photo album.

Each album contains: –

  • a photograph of myself and lovely husband from every year since we met
  • a photograph of all the grandparents from our wedding day (it’s the only photo there will ever be of all the grandparents in one place, and it feels important)
  • a photo montage of me pregnant with them, one photo for every month of pregnancy
  • a photo montage of them every month for the first year of their life with a stuffed animal we bought when we first found out we were expecting (I am so proud of myself for managing to do this twice, I cannot tell you)
  • a photo montage of 20-30 photos from each year of their lives (I do these through Snapfish, A4 photo made up of many tiny pictures)
  • a photo of our little family together from every year of their lives
  • a photo of them on their birthday every year with their stuffed animal
  • a photo of the extended family on every holiday we go on (we usually do a week with my family and a week with lovely husband’s, so it’s a nice opportunity to get a picture of the entire family)
  • any fancy photos we have taken for special occasions (this has included a maternity photo shoot my friend for me with small no.1 when pregnant with small no.2, and a family photo we organised for my Dad’s 70th)

Because I’m starting it now when they’re still so young I’m hoping it’s a small job that won’t feel too taxing, but will add up to something significant.

I don’t have a photo of my family from every year of growing up. I would LOVE to have them. Maybe my kids won’t care, but just in case, I’m willing to try and do this.

It’s also made me wonder whether I have photographs of me from every year of my life.

This has pulled together 11 of them out of 43, and I have a few school photos somewhere in my dad’s house, so I’m embarking on another project, to collect together a photo from every year of my life in the world’s strangest flick book.

Maybe one day, the smalls will be as interested to look through that.

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A statement of intent

I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to live intentionally.

I’m really very tired. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since small number one arrived, which is coming up for four years ago, and I tend to wander off mentally, so it was a way of saying I should try not to let life drift, think where I want to go, and steer things accordingly.

The real question there is where do I want my life to go?

I took voluntary redundancy from my job in local journalism at the end of maternity leave for small number one, so I’m a stay at home mum these days.

The industry I left has shrunk considerably since then, and I’m not even sure I would go back if I could. I don’t think it was my kind of journalism. I think I could be better, and be more focused, looking at things in a different way.

I suspect that what I really should do, is not look for a job at all, but make one up, or make several up, and piece them together into a new work life, but I am terrified by that.

My usual approach to things that terrify me, is to walk slowly toward them, gauging what exactly is frightening me, and tackle it head on, but right now I have an 11-month-old baby, and it’s a long way from here to when I’ll have a chance to take on my fears.

I am in the process (in my sleep-deprived state) of breaking down each element of my potential (slightly pretentiously labelled) portfolio career, and then slowly researching how interested I am in it, whether it’s a crazy idea, not really for me after all, or something I might love but not be able to make any money from.

The other thing I’m doing is trying to create space, and time.

Counter-intuitively, this involves watching a lot of You Tube videos about domestic faffery, cooking, cleaning, budgeting and such, but I think it’s useful (please tell me if I’m delusional).

I think if I can pace the everyday, always there parts of life well, I can steal back minutes, hours, and then use them to start working on the important things.
If I can cook in batches, meal plan and clean systematically, I can carve out Virginia Woolf’s Room of One’s Own, that my mum was always banging on about (I think – reading that this year – I might start banging on about it too then).

So, I’m wondering really, whether anyone else is out there, trying to do the same, whether, since I’m putting all this effort in, you might like me to share what I find with you, so we all have a little more time to live intentionally.

Let me know.


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My mum still has cancer

Today is Mother’s Day and I was looking around my hard drive, searching for a photo of my sister and I with her, wondering what she would make of this global strangeness, when I realised something.

90091093_10157008821397045_3744544018424397824_oIn all my thoughts, I was protecting her because she’s vulnerable. Over 70 and immune-compromised by chemotherapy. My imaginary living mum has aged, but she’s kept the disease that killed her.

In my dreams too, on the rare occasion that she visits (and I’d love to see you more often Mum) she wears her wig, she talks about the disease. It has become a part of her.

Mum discovered she had cancer when I was 18, just off to university. She had just started a degree of her own in Fine Art, and chemotherapy cut through her new-found enthusiasm and energy like a sucker punch. She had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The people treating her were my dad’s colleagues and they were going to nail this one, so they could look my dad in the eye. They knew Mum from parties and meals out and they didn’t want to let her down.

We had one lonely Christmas, quarantined from the rest of the family because my cousin had chickenpox and we didn’t want it.

And then she was fine.

For years.

For a decade. Mum was one of the NHS success stats.

It came back when I was 31, just months before I met Lovely Husband, just before another Christmas, just weeks before I was made redundant from my job, but to be honest it didn’t seem like a big deal, because everything had changed, and now there were new drugs, and although it was technically secondaries, which technically you can’t really treat all that easily, and they were just slowing down the growth, they might slow it down for years, and she was older now, so they could stretch out her life for as long as it would have stretched on the regular elastic we all get.

I used to have nightmares about it, losing her. I knew it was a nightmare. I knew it was coming, but still, it snuck up on me.

I was 38 when Mum died. She lived with cancer for eight, maybe nine of her 67 years, and my subconscious can’t see fit to cure her of it. Frankly, it’s rude.

Sorry Mum. Happy Mother’s Day xx

 

 

 

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The well is deeper than you think

We had a scan yesterday for our second pregnancy, and we’re having another boy.

This made me a little sad, which made me feel more than a little guilty, but the more I think about it the more I think it’s about something more than it seems.

I think I need to be honest with myself about this stuff.

At first I was sad because of a promise I made to my mum when she was dying. I promised her I would name my baby after her. Our exact conversation led to her saying it might be a little more difficult if it was a boy, but she wasn’t taking herself seriously. I don’t think. Anyway, I’ve tested out the idea with Lovely Husband and it doesn’t fly.

I was happy to do it with a girl though. I had a name lined up and agreed to with Lovely Husband.

So I think I was a little sad that I couldn’t keep my promise.

And then as the afternoon progressed I found I was sad that I couldn’t pass on the information I’ve learned about being a woman.

I’m not very good at it. Being a woman. But that’s a learning experience too right? The number of bad outfits and bad haircuts and bad jobs I’ve experienced. My inability to talk to boys and then men. My lack of knowledge at how to respond when people told me I had a man’s name, that I looked like a man. My inability to do my hair or apply make up properly. I’ve got some of the answers to all of that now, in my 40s. I feel like I could help steer someone through some of that stuff.

And then when I thought longer about it and considered the fact that I don’t know what kind of sons I’m going to have, how I’m going to be a female role model for them, how I might end up giving them my feminine advice on fashion, and make up application, I found it wasn’t really that which was causing the sadness after all.

At the bottom of it really, was grief. These days it feels like it’s always grief, the well of grief is deeper than any of us can comprehend.

I am not a girly girl. My sister told me this in a text message today in response to the fact that I’m about to be living in a very boysy household. ‘At least you’re not a girly girl’.

She’s right. And she’s wrong. I don’t wear particularly feminine outfits or a lot of make up. I don’t spend much time on my hair. I don’t go to spa days or out for drinks with the girls. I don’t know if I even have ‘girls’ like that.

I have female friends. Beautiful strong-willed women, who are funny and intelligent, and I love them.

Some of them dress stylishly and wear beauty products from department stores and look excellent in make up and hold down families and jobs and femininity equally well. We laugh and we talk politics and we talk about the things that feel important…

But we don’t talk about any of that. We don’t discuss make up tips, or go shopping together, or to spa days. We don’t catch up over cocktails.

When I think about doing any of those things, the only person I’ve ever done them with is my mum, and since she’s been gone I just haven’t done them at all. And they weren’t a big part of my life, but I can’t work out if they were an important part of my life.

At the moment we have no money to speak of, so my clothes shopping consists of the few items of maternity wear I’ve had to buy since I’m two stone lighter than I was last time I was pregnant. Shopping trips involve a two-year-old, or a fatigued husband, and the desire to get whatever it is out of the way.

Self care is occasional moisturising and a daily shower. I cut my own hair. I watched a video on You Tube.

I used to do these things, not often, but I did, browse clothes shops, buy beauty products. I went for cocktails, I even went to a spa once. I did it all with Mum. We were never sure if we were mocking or taking ourselves seriously, but we did them.

Now it feels like a world I don’t get to go back to. I can’t buy my way back in. I don’t have the time, or the freedom or the finances or the support.

Because being with her was my support, my encouragement that however dubious I was about my own femininity, she was there for me, we were cut from the same cloth, and no-one was judging.

God I miss her.

The well of grief is deeper than we can comprehend.

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Knowing someone

Someone I know died this week.

I would love to say a friend of mine, but I’m not sure I ever earned that privilege. Social media has created a situation where you can be constantly in touch with someone and still not be sure whether you are a friend, or just a voyeur.

She took her own life.

I feel like a voyeur, not a friend.

I was with my dad when I heard, and he said (as he has many times before in similar situations, where we’ve heard news of a suicide amongst colleagues or distant connections) “It’s so awful for the family, and for her friends. I always think it’s such a selfish thing to do”.

But I was thinking. I knew this person. She was not a selfish person.

She was a happy positive person. She talked about friends and family. She empathised. I was also thinking that the person I knew would not do this.

Which raises two points. Firstly that I didn’t ever know the real her, and secondly that I am not good at seeing beyond the cheerful disposition people show to the world, because clearly there was more.

There have been several articles on the radio recently about the harm of our social media image. That fictional us we portray to the world, showing our best selves, our cheery dispositions. I don’t know how guilty I am of that (my sister helps keep me real by posting unflattering photos of me eating or talking with uncanny regularity).

She had reached a point where suicide felt like the logical thing to do. Life had concentrated itself down to one option.

I have no idea what that feels like, but I know this. I have felt down. I have felt lonely. I have talked about it here, and on social media, and endlessly to unsuspecting new mothers in my village, and people have offered me help. A coffee date, an offer of a visit or a playdate with children, the freedom to call them at any hour.

I haven’t taken up any of those offers, because somehow they didn’t fit in with the gap I was trying to fill. The quite probably Mum-shaped gap.

I have really appreciated the very good friends who just turned up, or emailed, or called, but most of my very good friends have small children of their own, and full time jobs, and live far away, so this is understandably rare.

The point is that these cries for help, and responses, my rejection of those responses and sulky petulant wish for better, closer connections with the people I love, made me feel like a terrible person. Like I couldn’t mention it again.

My cries for help led me to feel worse about myself, and not find the help I was after. I can see how that spiral can start. I have never been anywhere near where it ends.

I’ve been considering recently whether I should reduce the number of connections I have on social media, because the idea saddens me that I might meet (one day in real life) someone I haven’t seen since university, and I might not ask how they are, how they’ve been, what their life is like now, because I already feel like I know, because I’m keeping a low level background surveillance on them, checking in from time to time. I already know all about them.

And really, obviously, I know nothing.

Wouldn’t it be nicer to actually know nothing, and to ask, and to listen to the response?

I can’t decide.

Someone I know died this week. I’m not even sure I can claim that.

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Resolutions

I had resolutions for this year.

I didn’t dare voice them here, but I gave them a go, and I thought since I hadn’t been entirely honest about them at the beginning of the year, the least I could do was turn up here now at the hinge of the year (lovely phrase stolen from Emily Portman song) and fess up about what I did and didn’t manage to achieve, and whether it matters.

My first was based on the assumption that Lovely Son would be two and therefore about to receive free childcare, thus freeing me up to venture into freelance work. This has not been the case, we are not quite on a low enough income to qualify, which is a good sort of bad news, and since I discovered this early on in the year I haven’t really put much oomph into resolution one, which was to prepare two series’ of writing workshops for two different audiences.

I still want to get this ready and raring to go, but I’m not feeling as pushed for time. I can relax and get it right.

Resolution two was to complete the NHS Couch to 5K podcasts. I took this on twice before, finished once, and didn’t quite make it the second time, but this year I smashed it. I started in May and finished as Lovely Husband finished his school year and had a healthy summer of three 5K runs a week, which collapsed when the dark cold wet nights arrived, and I haven’t run in months, but I got there, and I think I’m still there, I might just need to ease into it a little. Time and sleep have disappeared with a two year old’s sleep regression.

Resolution three was to take part in a Park Run. I nearly managed this, but it turns out getting up to run by 9am on a Saturday morning is logistically the trickiest thing I have ever attempted. Timing it around breakfast and who is watching Lovely Son while I have a shower, and making sure the cars are juggled correctly on the drive the night before so I can get mine out. I was about to say this weekend is my only hope, but as I type I realise it’s Saturday night, on the last Saturday of the year, and this officially isn’t happening.

Resolution four was to finish a second draft of my novel and let someone read it.

I am so so close to doing this. I planned to get it done for June and out to a handful of readers for feedback, but I was nowhere near that and I almost gave up at that point, but I grabbed back my impetus, and I have pulled at this thing in every direction, I have transcribed it from third person past tense into first person present tense. I’ve filled in endless plotholes and smoothed things out, and it still isn’t anywhere near right, but it’s much closer to being readable. It’s eons on from this point last year, so I’m not going to feel like I’ve failed.

Resolution five was to own less stuff. I don’t know whether looking at my house you would see any difference, but I know I have removed boxes and boxes of stuff from my life this year. A new kitchen removed several boxes of unused kitchenware. Finished books I might have kept in case before, have gone as soon as they’re finished, as have books resting on the shelves I know I’ll never return to. Half of my clothes are gone. All the cases from our CDs are gone and the shelf that used to house them, replaced with a small compact case. This feels like a win.

Resolution six was to start toilet training Lovely Son. He is so not ready for this yet I’m not even going to pretend to have tried.

Resolution seven was to finish the fields quilt. I have not done this, but again, I have done so much. I’ve finished the patchwork, the really slow work, and I’m ready to start on the quilting in the new year. Next year could be my year for this one, but this year has been a lot of work and a sense of achievement too.

Resolution eight was to weigh no more than I did pre-pregnancy at the end of the year. Even with eating nothing but chocolate, cheese and crackers for the last few days I am currently two stone lighter than I was when I got pregnant, and not overweight for the first time in my life. It took about a year to do that, but I did it and then some.

The final resolution was to work my way through a pile of books on my bedside table that I’ve been meaning to get around to and putting off for years. I couldn’t really afford to buy books this year, so I dipped into unread gifts, and aborted starts and I had stacked up an unreasonable amount, which had started to judge me from the top of my desk.

I plodded through them slowly. Some were fiction, some non-fiction, some plays (nice and short), some achingly long, some favourite authors I’d been saving to linger over and one was the last book Mum read before she died and I didn’t want to waste it.

They are all read, some disappeared from the house instantly, some were passed to Lovely Husband, and some have become cherished favourites, but they are all read.

A new pile awaits for this year, we;ll have to see how we go. I’m currently struggling through ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’ which I bought more than a decade ago and have started reading about three times. I’m further in than ever before. Wish me luck.

Others waiting to be tackled include Catch 22 and a biography of Mao. Anything could happen.

There may be more secret resolution for 2019. I haven’t decided yet, but I promise I’ll tell you about them at some point, succeed or fail.

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Me too – an afterthought

When everything came out about Harvey Weinstein and the ‘me too’ campaign was launched, my social media feed was deluged (as I’m sure many were) with short anecdotes about incidents of sexual harassment my friends and acquaintances had experienced over the years, and I was genuinely shocked by them.

In truth I’ve read a lot of blog posts by predominantly US writers talking about their ill treatment by men, and society’s acceptance of it, and I’d become used to a sort of internal tutting, and resignation to the fact that America seems decades behind the UK when it comes to men being able to express emotions healthily, and not through violence, or women being expected to act or look or dress a certain way (I’m basing my opinions on feminist blog posts and US tv here, so I might be incredibly wrong about the whole thing).

Essentially the problems being railed against across the pond are not problems I’ve encountered. Wolf whistles, creepy men on public transport who won’t take no for an answer, and many more have not crossed my path.

And #metoo left me with the same sort of feeling. I’m walking a lucky path, I cannot think of a single example of anything like that ever happening to me.

And then, the other day, out of the blue I was thinking about my old job as a newspaper reporter, and I remembered how my editor, who had a bit of a drinking habit, once came over to chat to me about something and started giving me a shoulder massage.

I remember the sympathetic looks from other women in the office, and from men.

I remember him walking out of the office, and everybody laughing about how creepy and weird it was, regaling each other about things he’d said or done to them.

And I remember feeling freaked out, and then normal, because everyone had a tale to tell, between us we had normalised it.

And then years later, faced with a barrage of other similar stories, I had normalised it so much I didn’t even think ‘me too’, I thought ‘poor them’.

I don’t know what I’m getting at here exactly, but I’m an enlightened feminist, I think, so really I guess I’m wondering how my mind got to be this blinkered. How bad is it out there? How bad is it in here?

I guess there should be a writing lesson here, and having just transcribed my entire novel out of third person past tense and into first person present tense, I’m going to say it’s this.

I need to start thinking about my blinkers, conscious and subconscious, because we all have them.

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Doing my best

So I started writing a post earlier this week about weight loss, because reasons, but I stopped because I was boring myself, and because I think what I really want to write about is the psychology behind things like weight loss, or any targety thing I do, maybe people in general do (I’m not sure how weird I am with stuff).

In context, recently I have lost some weight. I set myself a target to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the end of 2018.

Just before I got pregnant I was about 12st8, and after a year and a bit of coffee, cake and breastfeeding I was about 13st2, so I downloaded an NHS weightloss app (you’re bored already, right), and started counting calories, last November, and then around January I did that, I reached pre-pregnancy weight, and started eyeing up something bigger, more spectacular, one of my actual life goals. The idea that I might not be overweight.

This is the undreamable dream. I have never not been overweight. For my height I should be somewhere between 8 stone something and 11st2, and I hit obese at around 13st3, so I’m always teetering on that edge, or half a stone away.

When I was 29 I was nearly 15 stone, and I decided to just go for it, and spent seven months on a strict diet, and got down to 11st4 for my 30th birthday, which was crazy and which lasted about 24 hours, but I’ve never gone all the way back, so losing two stone, doesn’t seem that impossible.

Skip forward several months and…

The thing is this. I am currently 10st8. I am the lightest I have ever been as an adult. I checked through my teenage diaries even, and when I was 14 I was 11st1.

This is unprecedented.

I want to reach the middle of my healthy BMI before I stop, and I’m pretty sure I’ll get bored before then and give up, but I have no idea what people do then. How they stop themselves going back up. My body will want to go back up. We shall see.

And I could waffle on about what I’ve done. I’m happy to, except I bore myself. I don’t have a lot going on in my life at the moment, so this has been my thing for the last nine months. Lovely Husband is tired, I’m pretty sure.

But the other day I saw this quote/motivational thing/ bon mot/meme…

FRIENDLY REMINDER THAT ‘DOING YOUR BEST’ DOES NOT MEAN WORKING YOURSELF TO THE POINT OF A MENTAL BREAKDOWN.

And I thought, there’s no chance of that.

Then I thought, am I doing my best? Is this my best?

I’m bringing up my son. I’m doing okay at that. I shout too often, (more than Lovely Husband who works with children and knows how to stay calmer for longer) but we have fun together, and we try new things every now and then, and he smiles a lot.

I’m trying to read a stack of books that have been sitting on my bedside table for years. I’m plugging away at them, but there are other things I should/could be reading, and I have reading guilt.

I’m trying to redraft my novel, which I’m doing very very slowly, and not as well as I want to be. I can feel it missing where I want it to be already, which is annoying.

I’m trying to manage my allotment, which is failing to grow many different vegetables, but has produced strawberries and rhubarb and raspberries and gooseberries, which I have used.

I’m trying to get fit, in tiny 15 minute slots every day, and I’m doing this big fat diet, but I will stop, I will probably fall short of where I’m aiming.

There are friendships I’m not keeping up with, so many projects I’d love to be doing, and the thing is, I don’t know.

Am I doing my best?

Because what is my best?

How do I know?

This is my big self-revelation. I have no idea what my best is, what I’m actually capable of.

I constantly feel like I’m not hitting it.

I had a school report in primary school which graded me A for ability, B for effort, and I feel like that’s followed me round my entire life.

But I don’t know how to know. I just know, or feel like I know I could do better, if I could just work out how.

I have no idea where my ceiling is, and I’m too tired or lazy or maybe even scared, to look up.

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