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Midlife Exhaustion

Okay, it’s official.  I am a boring person.

I have been wandering the halls of blog pages and am amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of some wordsmiths out there.  They seem to have this whacky way of looking at the world, although, admittedly, some are so far off the wall I question if they should really be part of main stream society.  But it did get me thinking, that truly, I am an incredibly boring person.

I class myself as a wannabe bohemian – I want to be a non conformist, but I am totally unable to be.  I care too much about what people think of me.  I dream of dressing in a whacky way, wearing whacky jewellery, and having profound ideas about life, love and living.  But, sadly, I simply don’t.  I only have what I have lived and I don’t have a whacky way of viewing my life.  

I am a run of the mill human.  I am at my midlife and wish I could say that it is the best part of my life, but, I suspect, it isn’t.  I’m actually kind of tired at this stage of life and, I am assuming, I have at least another 30 years to go.  It doesn’t bode well does it?

Do you ever walk through the shopping center and wander what peoples’ lives are like?  I do, all time.  I mostly wonder if they feel as tired if I do and if they do,what they do about it.  I want to feel more energy.  Of course, I know that I am carrying more weight than any 40 something woman should have to carry and that an immediate solution to my exhaustion is to lose weight.  But I am thinking that my exhaustion is a midlife exhaustion more than it is a physical overweight exhaustion.  I find these days, I am craving the simple life.  When technology did not invade every facet of our lives, when information wasn’t so readily available.

A friend of mine has recently travelled to Kenya on a community development project.  She is a true bohemian, a true free spirit, but she is Australian born and bred and I wondered how she would cope with such a culture change.  Of course, and (ah-hem) sickeningly so, she is just loving it.  Her friends back here in “civilisation” are following her movements on facebook and it really struck me when she told us how she is showering in a bucket, reading at night by torch light, and rather than being time consuming it is time freeing!  She has time, and she is loving it!

This is part of my exhaustion.  I am constantly searching for information, constantly on the go, constantly trying to prove that I actually am worth the air that I consume on a daily basis.  It makes for a very exhausting existence.  This blog may seem to be self indulgent self pity, but that is okay, because it is.  It is a beautiful day outside, I have all that I need, and there are many things that I am grateful for, but I am just tired all the time.  Life experiences are taking their toll and rather than being in the turbulent ocean of life, I am longing for the windless pond of energy giving peace.  I suspect my friend in Kenya is going to come home rejuvenated, full of energy and gagging for her next trip to some third world country.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not jealous.  I love my life (in essence).  Living in squalid conditions are not really my thing and those bugs, urgh!  But there is a big part of me that would love to just take a step out of every day existence for a while, just to recharge my batteries.  You get what I mean, don’t you?

I wonder if I am a boring person because I lead essentially a boring life.  I don’t work in formal employment (largely through choice, although I do like to fool myself otherwise), I don’t socialise much (alcoholism kind of killed any social desirability for me), so I don’t really have much interaction and I don’t have an interest that takes me outside of the house.  I don’t even particularly like walking my poor dogs.  I am truthfully a hermit.  Please don’t mistake this with domesticity.  I am not domestic at all (as is evidenced by the overflowing dishes on the bench top, the laundry on the dining room table and the two unmade beds at 11am).  Having said this, when people do come around, I can hold a good conversation, laugh easily and make people feel very comfortable.  So, what can I say that makes me a uniquely interesting human being?  I bloody well have no idea.

My husband insists that I am interesting. He says I talk about the days’ goings on (boring), that I can talk about the state of the world today (boring) and that I am the kindest, most generous person he knows (I can feel a puke coming on).  I somehow have turned into a “Polly-Anna with a bit of a negative bent”, boring person.  When I was in my early twenties I always imagined myself to be edgy, smart, even witty.  But, alas, this has not turned out to be the case.  I am a 40 something stay at home mom who is about to become a grandmother.  Where did the edgy, smart, witty dream go?  

I have no answers and of course, as always, this is just me rambling to get the thoughts out of my head and into the cyber ether.  It is really just an observation.  Am I going to do anything about it?  Probably not.  I am enjoying the solitude I have during the day (if only I could afford a cleaner, my life would be damn near perfect!), and am really thankful I can be available for my very pregnant daughter, but I do wish I could be more interesting.  I would like to have something more interesting to offer the world other than dinner, laundry loads, and crafting.

You know what I mean, don’t you?

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Have breath, will write … but for the fear

Writing for me is like breathing.  It is something I have to do to stay alive.  It is, simply, who I am.  However, and there is a big resounding BUT here, I do not write enough.  Writers want to be noticed, they want to be recognised, and they want to, more than anything, connect with people.  But it is a double edged sword.  What happens if you don’t get noticed, recognised or, more disastrously, don’t connect.  What if people don’t like what you have to say, what if what you feel you have to say, doesn’t matter, doesn’t make one single ripple in the pond of life.  It is a terrifying thought for a writer.  One that, sadly, could and does become a reality.

For me, I have listened to that fear for a very long time.  It has prevented me from writing – literally anything – for a very long time.  For me, it is not enough to write in a journal.  I have to impart my thoughts to someone on some level.  I am, in essence, not really writing for myself, but writing to make my voice heard.  It is my way of speaking so that the world may listen and perhaps, if I am lucky, hear.

The result of this fear and subsequent lack of verbosity on paper, is that my thoughts remain in my head and oh my, what a mess!!  The nice thing about writing is that you can put a thought to paper, draw it out, embellish it and then it is out of your head and on the paper.  There for eternity, for history and posterity (okay, I’m being a bit overly ambitious here!).  The trouble for a writer that doesn’t write is the fact that when it stays in your head, you frankly become insane.

Buddhists have a wonderful term called The Monkey Mind.  In my opinion, this perfectly describes my life.  My life is a series of story lines.  I am constantly thinking about how people I meet could make wonderful characters, how events that have happened to me would make great story lines.  This all makes for a very messy neural network that keeps me awake for hours at night.  I meditate to try and ease this pain, but meditating is not my strength.  Of course, one might ask why I don’t just write.  Indeed, I ask myself that very same question.

Why is it that a lot of us writers don’t write?  Of course, it is the fear.  The fear of rejection, the fear of admitting that it is all that you want to do in the world, but may in fact not put a good chunk of food on your table, the fear of facing a reality that you have in fact been blessed with a gift that the world does not really appreciate in the way that they appreciate the calling of say, teachers, nurses and stockbrokers (dammit).  Of course, we all compare ourselves with the big name authors.  We pour over their life stories.  My personal favourite is J.K Rowling – conjuring her famous stories on the train ride to and from work and being rejected a number of times before a publisher took their chance on Harry Potter (bet the other publishers are kicking themselves now!).

But I don’t have a Harry Potter in me, nor a Twilight or Hunger Games, or anything that I think will blow the world away.  But I want to blow the world away (yes, I am stamping my foot).  I want to write something that is so magnanimous that hollywood is banging down my door to make a movie of it, for isn’t that the ultimate validation that we as writers have made it?  But why, why do we want this?  Is it because of the validation or is it because we want to be able to put a decent income into our households?

I feel like writing is a crap gift to have (I call it a gift without really knowing if I am any good at it, because writing is all I think about and I have been told that whatever gives you joy is a gift).  Why is it crap? Because it is so damn competitive and bloody political.  I once was planning to go to a writers festival.  Before I went, I attended a writer’s workshop.  All the writer’s there wanted to go to the festival, so we asked our tutor about it.  She told us how because of the competitive nature of it all (“it” being writing), we should be careful who we talk to and who we approach.  We didn’t want to come off as naive, or inexperienced, don’t you know.  Oh, of course not, because that’s not what festivals are all about.  I left with the distinct impression that writer’s festivals are all about self promotion of published writers and since I didn’t qualify, I shouldn’t go.

When are you a bonafide writer?  When do you reach that threshold where you can legitimately call yourself a writer?  I mean in the sense of “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a writer.” If I say that, people automatically ask me if I’ve written a book (and by written, they mean published a book) and secondly am I published AT ALL (and by that they mean perhaps an article in a magazine).  The answer, for me, on both counts, is a resounding no.  But that doesn’t mean I am not a writer.  Writing is how I breathe, it is how I function, it is how my life becomes bearable to live.  But we have to have that validation, don’t we?  Society dictates it.  I just don’t see people from other professions having to validate what they do.  “I’m a doctor.” Oh really, have you saved a life?  Okay, bad example, but you get my drift.  No-one asks those questions.  They just take it as a read, you’re a doctor.  But writers have to validate their passion, who they are.  Yes, yes, I hear you saying that by the very definition of being a writer, you have to write, which is very true.  But do you have to be published, and in what sense do you have to be published?

I sound cynical in my own musings, but I cannot help that.  I am angry, partly at myself for allowing myself to buckle under the fear of non-validation, but also at society for putting the fear of failure into us hesitant writers in the first place.  Of course, people say that writing has to sell, because after all it is the money that makes the world go round.  Perhaps.  But there are a great many people with a great many gifts to impart in the written word that are lost to us because of this wretched fear of failure.

I do applaud Amazon in this instance.  With its Kindle publishing project authors can now get “published” at the click of a button, allowing society at large to determine if the author is worth the effort he/she put onto paper, and not the publishing house.  I suspect though that writers at the writers festival would not consider this a legitimate form of becoming a writer (much like getting a medical degree through the post, I suspect).  I do not poo-poo it (no, that isn’t a word, but I like it!).  I have yet to go down this road (the fear of rejection strikes me even now) but I do intend to do it.  I intend to write that book, which is no mean feat by the way, and to press that button, and upload my book so that when I next say “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a writer,” and the question of “are you published?” yet again accosts my ears, I can give a resounding, legitimate “Yes, actually, yes I am!!”

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The Kindness Project

Dear Mom,

So how is it out there in the universe?  Do you sense us, or are you now part of some superhighway of joy and light with no memory of us?  We remember you mom, every single day.  I am almost dreaming of you now.  You are still only a shadow in my dreams, and I still long to hear your voice, but I think my inner being is beginning to let the reality set in.

So, what has been happening in the life of the physical me?  Well, quite a lot actually, although to the outsider it won’t seem like it.  Jess is still on bedrest.  She is now nearly 26 weeks gone, so the baby now has even more chance of surviving.  She is very “mammievas” and doesn’t like me doing anything else but sit with her to watch TV, or keep her company whilst she surfs the net.  I know this might seem a bit indulgent of Jess, but I know that she is frightened, and bored and I am happy to oblige.  It means the housework isn’t getting done and I am somewhat bored myself, but I feel it is a fair sacrifice to make.

Because of this inactivity, I have been given the opportunity to evaluate things that have gone on in my life.  I am tired, Mom, of being so angry.  I have spent the past 4 years being a very angry, bitter person and it just isn’t who I am.  I truly am about being kind and believing that in each person is some good.  We are, after all, damaged goods, and each of us responds to that damage in different ways.  But essentially, I do believe that the essence of us is all connected in some way.

I have decided I am going to start a website called The Kindness Project.  In the end I think we all want a world where people only treat each other with kindness and love.  I have toyed with this idea for so long, but have put off doing it because I have felt that because of the path my life took, I don’t have the right to start such a site.  But I am learning, that each of us bring to the table something that matters, something that is valuable and that is meaningful.  We are all searching to connect with each other and find our sense of self.  I hope that starting such a site will just reach out to people, that is all.  For a while I got caught up in trying to monetise my site, because as you know working is a bit difficult for me for a number of different reasons, so I was really trying to find ways to get my site to earn me money, but that is not really the aim I am hoping for.  I just want to reach out, to feel connected and hopefully inspire people to make small kindness changes in their life.

What do you think mom?  Do you think I can do it?  Sustainability and persistence is not my strong point, you know that.  I am worried about starting this project, having no idea of what I am doing, and then just giving up.  How do I overcome that – yes, I know, one day at a time.  I love the idea of it so much and I have been drawn to sites that offer the same message (which has kind of scared me because, Mom, they are SO good!).  The world has to become a kinder place, don’t you think?  We cannot go on like we are.  The world is at war, each country is at war with itself and it seems that people are just at war with each other in various ways.  I don’t understand it really.  If we could just show kindness and compassion.  That is all it would take.

So, there you have it mom.  The Kindness Project is about to be born.  Well, not really.  I have signed up the name, but that is all.  I now have to think about the message I want to portray, how to deliver that message and how I am going to set it all up.  I just hope it all turns out okay.

I wish you were here in the flesh, Mom, to thrash out the ideas with me, but I am also okay with what we are doing now – me talking to you and you receiving that message in the energy ether.

Lots of love and light to you mom, thanks for listening.

Love Sarah x

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Life must go on!

Dear Mom,

It has been 1 year, 8 months and 3 days since you took your last breath.  I simply cannot believe that it has been that long since I last spoke to you.  Actually, it was a couple of days before you died that I last spoke to you and well over two years ago since I heard your normal voice.

I asked Dad to bring me some videos of you so that I could hear your voice.  I was really insistent that he bring them and in true Dad style, he killed himself to get all of the videos put onto DVD for me, spending money he probably did not have.  He arrived with them and then I couldn’t watch them.  He was disappointed, I know he was.  I just couldn’t face watching you and knowing you had gone.  I have since watched a few – my christening, Jess’ 1st and 2nd christmas – but that is all.  It is weird to watch those things and know that two people I loved very much are gone.  Life is simply so unfair.

Dad is with Maureen now.  You probably know that, but I needed to let you know.  Do you remember that time when you were in bed, so weak, and you asked me if I thought Dad would find someone else?  I know you couldn’t stand the idea of being replaced by someone else.  I knew in my heart that dad could not be on his own for long and I think deep down inside you knew it too.  Gail reacted very badly to it.  I was more accepting, after all Life must go on, right?  But I defended her – I always defend her.  No-one understands her like you and me mom.  No-one cares for her like we do.  I really wish I could bring her over here.

So dad is with Maureen.  It is weird.  Death is like that – a stark reminder that nothing ever remains the same and that life must go on.  Dad is happy, I think, but I know that he misses you so much.  I am grateful that he has someone to fill the void that you so obviously left behind.  You were his rock, mom.  His guiding light.  I think he is a bit lost without you.  However, you will be very proud of how he is progressing with the B&B.  I know you worried about how he would be able to manage the business, but mom he has done so well.  He has learned how to use the computer, learned how to manage the online bookings and the B&B has grown because of it.  Dad has also connected with his family.  Ann and Dad see much more of each other now – in fact I would even venture to say that they are probably as close as they have ever been.  Jo even went to spend the weekend with dad recently.

Dad has kept in touch with your side of the family.  Not much, but he does still stay in touch.  I have had some lovely emails from Sandra and I am in constant contact with Aysha.  Despite their dysfunction (and who isn’t dysfunctional), your side of the family is so lovely, so warm.  I do wish we had spent more time with them.

We have moved into our new home.  It was bittersweet for me – I so wanted you to see it, to feel the excitement of moving in.  But Dad got to see it at Christmas.  Christmas is hard for dad.  I feel so much for him.  Having Jordan has so given me a better understanding of Dad and I am a lot more patient with him.  Life is so black and white to him, but within the parameters of a moving goal post.  It is hard sometimes, but I really enjoyed having dad here.

Jess is expecting a baby – yes, you are going to be a great grandmother!!  I cannot believe that at the age of 44, I am going to be a grandmother.  When Jess told me, I am ashamed to admit that I was ashamed.  Ashamed of her for falling pregnant and having no sense of direction.  You were never ashamed of me mom, never ashamed of how I lived my life.  That was your gift mom, to the world, your unconditional love of whomever came into your life.  I hear and feel your love every day mom and I promise that I am no longer ashamed of Jess, I am proud of her, of all that she is, of all that she achieves every day.  She is very afraid.  Afraid of life sometimes, of making the wrong decisions, of not having direction, and especially of being a mom.  But I know that if I give her the kind of support you gave me, that unconditional love, she will be okay, just as I am okay, even with you gone.

Jess is having a boy.  They are going to name him Cameron Donald Ingram.  I like the name Cameron.  I wish we had more money to help them out, but I also recognise that this is the universe’s way of helping her and Matt to grow, to learn to budget, to learn about sacrifice.  It isn’t easy for Jess, but she is resilient and she will make it.  I love her so much mom.

Jordan has been going through some difficulties and it has been hard not having you here in the flesh to talk them out with you.  Being on the autistic spectrum is so difficult for him.  For some reason, I went into a momentary relapse of denial.  I just started worrying about what it would be like for him in the future, what it would be like for us.  He barely leaves his lounge, barely does anything except read his Naruto Fan fiction.  It is heart breaking to me, but the flip side is that he isn’t out getting into trouble.  Dave and I have haven’t been out in the longest time.  We go shopping, or we may go for a quick lunch, but that is that.  Our relationship has suffered, but thankfully, we are still very much in love, although I suspect I am a tad more distant and disengaged than I have been in the past.  It is true that I now live in my own world and have become a recluse.  I am okay with that though.

I am okay, Mom.  I miss you every day.  I miss being able to speak to you.  I miss the compass you used to be in my life.  I miss your friendship.  My soul broke when you died mom.  But I think I am slowly on the mend.  I am doing a course called Soul Restoration and it is helping me to face my demons.  Those demons that I spent so many days and nights drinking away.  Sobriety has not brought the things I thought it would, but it has brought me something more.  I am slowly mending mom.  Slowly finding my sense of self.  I found out that I love to create mom.  I love card making, scrapbooking, painting (even it it is just abstract) – I just love to create and then give it away.  Of course, I still like to write.  My mind is forever a series of story lines.  Story lines with no body to them, but perhaps one day I will have the patience to thrash them out.  You know, of course, that I am afraid of rejection, afraid that I am not good enough.  But that is the story of my life I guess and at the end of the day, my life must go on.

I have to go now mom, we are off to friends of ours for a curry.  I will write again, soon, I promise.  I hope you are warm and happy wherever you are.  I love you.

Love Sarah x