I used to go swimming a lot. I looked up how to do front crawl and printed out tips from Dundee Arnhall swimming club (randomly) (thank you, they were great) which I used to read before getting into the pool and hold in my mind: fingertips enter the water first, pull back towards your belly button with the flat of your hand… Of course I never thought I was that good, unfairly comparing myself to club swimmers half my age in the neighbouring lanes. I used to overdo it. I often used to swim a mile (sixty-four lengths), would berate myself if I only did forty. I remember once sticking to a routine of doing seventy, eighty lengths, even when my shoulder hurt deep inside.
As you can see I hadn’t yet gotten with the programme re veganism (think of the cows!)
But in between overdoing it in and out of work somehow a little bit of light and awareness managed to get through.
This is what happiness looks like (First published in May 2014)
I called my sister. My nephew answered and we had a good talk about ICT- his favourite subject, I did my best with my limited knowledge and gave him encouragement with regard to school as he struggles in some other subjects. I spoke to my sister and invited myself to visit. She put me off until half term which is a few weeks away but still, we have arranged a date. We had a bit of a chat, it was nice, easy.
My husband and I got dressed up and went out for dinner.
I went swimming three times this week. I bought nuts, seeds, dried fruit, herbal tea and vegetable juice. I went a whole week without eating cheese.
My boss agreed for me to have a six month break from my therapy group. Usually therapists get burned out and need a break from their patients but in this case I need a break from the other therapists. Even though some of them were annoyed, I felt ecstatic, like a huge burden had been lifted from me. I didn’t even feel guilty. It gives me loads of extra time too.
I noticed the serendipitous little events and occurrences that make life that bit sweeter: arriving at the pool one day after work, hungry, I found a packet of crisps my stepdaughter had left in the car. And exactly enough change to get a Snickers bar out of the vending machine (which shows that my healthy eating turnaround isn’t yet totally embedded). The pool, normally so busy at that time of day, was half empty and the one or two swimmers I was sharing a lane with were polite and considerate, pulling over to allow me to overtake.
I texted a couple of friends to arrange meeting up. Another friend called me out of the blue and we went out for a curry and to the cinema. I got lost one day and went into a veterinary surgery to ask for directions and the receptionist very kindly printed out a map and directions for me.
I am training to be a healer and was invited to attend the organisation’s AGM. It was on a Saturday morning and I was probably feeling neutral at best about attending a morning meeting on my day off. When I got there I discovered the time had been changed and I was there an hour early. I felt a little put out and considered just leaving but I stuck around with a group of other early people who complained about the organisation- proving that being a healer doesn’t necessarily guarantee continual sweetness and light. After the meeting, another trainee who is further along than me was getting assessed and I had the opportunity to watch. In the event I couldn’t hear what was going on and my teacher said, don’t feel like you have to stay, I know you were expecting to leave earlier. I checked my phone; I had a couple of missed calls from my son, whom I had loosely arranged to meet up with after the meeting. But I was drawn to stay and say goodbye to one of the examiners who had held my hand for a long time when we had been introduced and had said quietly to me, when it is your turn, you will pass, I have just assessed you. So I waited until he was finished and afterwards he asked me to demonstrate on him. He told me that I was very powerful and one of the best trainees he had ever encountered. Sometimes obstacles are put in our way to test our commitment and if we remain committed, we are rewarded.
At work I did some healing as part of a staff wellbeing day. I worked for two hours nonstop, nine people in total, with noticeable, powerful effects. We were set up in the dining room and had such a queue of people that we went on into lunch and I was still standing there, eyes closed, arms outstretched, looking like I don’t know what when the maintenance department came in to have lunch. Its official, I thought, the weirdest girl in school is now the weirdest woman at work. Only now, no one seems to mind!
In Stephen King’s book On Writing he describes a phase he went through when he was drinking heavily and the whole family had to revolve around his work. He said he used to have a huge leather desk that dominated the room. Now he says he has a small desk in the corner of the room. Life is not a support system for art, he says, it’s the other way around. I didn’t fully understand when I first read it, now I think I do: my life used to be tormented by my writing; always thinking about it, always thinking should I be at home writing, declining invitations. I thought writing was The Thing but because it was so hard I used to wonder about and experiment with giving up completely as I said before. Now I realise, Life is The Thing. Writing is my own personal support system for life. I live, I write it down to help me make sense of it. I live a bit more. It relaxes me, supports me, wipes away ridiculous worry thoughts and OCD by calming and focussing my mind, giving me clarity of purpose in my life. That’s all it is. That’s ALL??!! Sounds pretty amazing really; I have a personal support system that can be bought for the price of a decent pen and a pad of paper. Isn’t that better than winning the Booker Prize?
Like my spiritual journey, maybe I have been on a writing journey, pushing myself, experimenting. As a child I wrote stories. As a teenager I wrote poetry. In my twenties I wrote a film script and a novel. In my thirties I finally plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and wrote everything: all kinds of poems and stories, even a novella in a month. I wrote and performed spoken word poetry and performance stories, learning everything by heart. I wrote and had published several short stories of women’s erotica, culminating in putting on a launch event at a local sex shop. Now in my forties, I wrote a therapy self help manual and a relationships guide with my husband before my most recent project, my spiritual memoir. But it was all still with the overall aim of achieving some kind of end product. Even my spiritual memoir, even though I found it very helpful and even though I kept thinking it was about something other than writing a book, it wasn’t until after it was finished that I realised: it was about something else, it was about living. That’s what’s so great about blogging: The living comes first.