Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Onwards and Upwards

I've struggled a bit so far this year.

The Russian Winter seemed longer than ever before, mainly because it WAS longer; it started in October and left it's white dandruff on the ground until mid-April.  (And yes, that, right there - that use of the word 'dandruff' for what I would formerly have called 'snow'-  is a pretty good representation of my disillusionment with a season that in previous years I was enchanted by).  The days seemed darker and shorter, and the evenings longer and lonelier than in the previous years we've spent here.  Again, there is good reason for that; the powers that be insisted on continuing their practice of ignoring Summertime - meaning that the sun didn't rise here until nearly 10am in December and we were 4 hours ahead of the UK between October and March rather than 3 - and Husband spent most of the working week abroad.  He has done since last summer, actually.

Throw in what seemed like perpetually grey weather, a bad back that prevented me from doing the one thing that took me into the great outdoors in previous winters - cross country skiing -and being hit by flu, colds, and children's ailments, and the time between January and May has dragged somewhat.  'Swimming through treacle' is a more than apt expression for how I've felt, if I'm honest.

I've been questioning what I'm for.

A close relative, not so long ago, struggled to come up with anything positive to say about my role in life, and whilst I know that that is because they don't see my day-to-day slog but rather the end result - a family that is happy, nurtured, and wearing clean underwear - it stung.  A lot.  I know that I work hard - but not much of what I do is visible to those who live so far away.  And yes, of course I can hold up my hand and shout 'Look! Look at all the stuff I do, the writing, the blogging, the copy editing, the novel!' but all that's still just so much... fluff... to that person, and frankly, I don't want to.  Why should I?  I don't ask them to justify their career choices or to give me a line by line account of their working day, of the meetings they have, the invoices that result, the bottom line profits which their efforts increase.

But I know why this is getting to me, really.  My inner Judge - the woman who measures herself on results, profits and let's face it, bottom-line contributions, and who I thought I had sent packing after two years of counselling when I stopped working outside the home turns out, 5 years on, to have just been on a long sabbatical.  She's got in touch again, high-heels, working wardrobe and all, and is texting and emailing my subconscious.

'How's that blogging thing going?' she asks  (I can almost imagine her making those really annoying apostrophe signs in the air when she says the word; 'blogging').  'Making any money from it yet?  Are you making a difference? No?  Never mind...  What about the copy-editing?  Getting anywhere with that?  Oh well, bits and pieces are fine, aren't they...?  And there's always the novel.  Isn't there?'  Well, yes, I reply.  Except, I've reached a place that I'm reliably informed many writers do when, approximately 2/3 of the way through their book they get the wobbles, look at what they've written and think 'Well, this is just so much shit...'

But.  Summer is here.  The days are longer, the sun is (mostly) shining, the school run is now by bike rather than huddled in the car, shivering in snow pants and layers of duvet coats, and the summer holidays are on the horizon. It's hard to stay depressed when the sun blazes down and there's a nightingale singing it's heart out in the back garden.

And as far as the book is concerned, I have a plan.  It may be shit, but bearing in mind my subconscious is untrustworthy enough to resurrect the Judge - a part of my personality I thought I had moved on from - I think I will ignore what it's telling me, get some objective advice from others, and just get on with finishing the novel.

So.  Onwards and upwards it is...


  1. Since when do you have to justify the reason of your existence to anyone. Isn't it enough to just be? Does there have to be some measurable result to show for that? The whole purpose of life is to learn to like ourselves and the people we love and to get along with ourselves and them as well as we can. That's all. If you can do that, you're doing great!

  2. I think we spend too much time worrying about what we are for and what we amount to. If there's one thing being ill has taught me, it's to appreciate just being here and being healthy for my family was such a gift, and I just took that for granted. What you are doing is being a wonderful mother to your boys, and filling your own time creatively. You don't need to be CEO of a company to make a difference in life.

  3. One thing to remember about most people with "careers" - they're all working for somebody else. At the end of the day someone else is making a lot more money out of them than they're actually taking home. I swore when I stopped working corporate, that I would never line anyone else's pockets again.

  4. Have our inner judges been talking to each other, d'you think? Mine is getting a bit active again. Perhaps it's inner judge season. Mine says: "Now your children are at school all day, what on earth do you do? It's great to be a full-time mum when they're babies or toddlers, but when they're not even in the house for several hours a day, it's getting a bit thin, isn't it?"

    I like NVG's comment. Being, not doing. That's the key. As Irene says. So hard to keep in mind, though.

  5. I think as long as you are happy and fulfilled with what you're doing, it doesn't matter much what anyone else thinks. The question is: are you? Granted, it sounds like a Russian winter would cause almost anyone to feel a little cynical(I am a basket case in the winter in Seoul, and our winters are not half as severe), but still: maybe it's time for a change of some kind. Speaking as a trailing spouse myself, I realize the career opportunities aren't nearly as plentiful when you're overseas, but maybe all this unrest is pointing you in some new directions.

  6. I was thinking about this recently. Women seem to go through a strange cycle. They have a career. They have kids. They try to work and have kids and find it really hard. So (many not all) give up work and do something creative. We convince ourselves that it's what we want to do and that it's best for the kids and secretly it's so much easier than trying to juggle work and kids. But at some point it all seems too easy, not ambitious enough. And many start over again, heading back to the workplace. What I haven't heard is how they feel once they're back there. Whether the grass is greener back in the corporate world. Whether that sense of purpose is fulfilled. Or whether we will always be looking to the next thing to find fulfillment, regardless of where we are or what we are doing.

    One of the hardest things in life is to just give ourselves permission to be happy with where we are right now. I haven't managed it yet.

  7. Oh and this: 'Except, I've reached a place that I'm reliably informed many writers do when, approximately 2/3 of the way through their book they get the wobbles, look at what they've written and think 'Well, this is just so much shit...'

    Pretty much where I am at right now....


Go on - you know you want to...