Archive for December, 2010

Well today, I’ve been matched with my Volunteering visitee. I think you’ll understand if I don’t say anything about them, their life is private and I intend to keep it that way. However, what I will talk about is how the experience makes me feel, how it affects my life, my thoughts. At the moment i’m actually feeling quite a lot of trepidation. Will they like me? Will they think I’m silly, will I actually be able to help at all? Do I actually need to help, or does just being there make the difference?

I’m holding on to the ‘just being there’ thoughts – I can make a good conversation, it’s not a difficult thing really, and well, I’ve been told mostly, that all we really need to do is listen. So as far as listening is concerned I keep re-reading my ‘Listen’ post. I must remember that. My charge may well be frustrated, upset, or equally happy and bouncy, but realistically, it could be anything. They’re just normal people like you and me – but with no one to listen. To hear what they’re saying.

This is worrying me too – what if I form a really close relationship with my charge? What will I do if they’re no longer around? How will that affect me? But again, i’m ahead of myself. So many what ifs… Deal with the here and now. My first vists won’t be until after Christmas now, gives me time to ponder and get used to the idea. I often wonder how I can shoe horn more value and time into my life, but as far as I’m concerned, a few hours a week to give a listening ear to a neighbour is such a valuable thing. It costs nothing. It reminds me that beyond my circle of experience and friends and family, there are more people out there – not glamourised, or stigmatised and demonised by prejudicial media broadcasts.

So – overall, I’m terrified, but I’m also excited. I can feel that little bubble in the pit of my stomach. I can feel that something is changing – is it me? My perceptions? Will this change me for the better? I think it will.

Well after the meeting it wasn’t particularly good news. Was to be expected, but everyone is in a state of numb shock. Others in complete tumult. I tend to hit tumult as when I feel an injustice is coming I get frustrated and angry. Very rarely do I hit despondent, but I know… that there will be injustices served. When people get fearful, oftentimes the really ugly side to human nature comes out. It’s not like I haven’t been through this process before a couple of times though, so other than getting annoyed about other’s reactions and the lengths some will go to to preserve themselves, I’m attempting to remain calm.

There are a couple of young colleagues it’s hit quite hard, so I’m trying to remain calm for them too. I’m hoping that it won’t be bad for them in the end – there’s a possibility it won’t, and I’m holding on to that hope. Funny thing is, there has to be a good side in all of this too. On the other side of the doom and gloom there can only be positives to come. Once the worst has happened, how can it get any worse? Other options may occur but at least you’re prepared for them, if you expect the worse in such situations, anything else that occurs can only be better.

Anyway. Having plugged in to my most soothing music,  I’m now reflecting on the Volunteering Induction I had last night. I was  starting to get a little lethargic over the whole thing as I had to keep putting my induction off due to work and other issues and I was beginning to think that perhaps I just didn’t have the time in my life to do this. But. I went along last night and everything was explained to me, procedures etc and I found myself looking forward to the opportunity again. And it is an opportunity, to help someone, to just be a ‘friend’ to someone who needs one if I can. So now, I am an official Volunteer. Something that when I was younger, I had NO idea why anyone would give up free time to do something like this. Funny how priorities change as you age and experience life.

Experiencing life is exactly what I’m after. In order to be able to write music, write words, how can I hope to express myself if I can’t experience what I want to write? Other than the companionship aspect of personal fulfilment, I love listening to the views of others, the thoughts, the turns of phrase, the experiences of others in their lives… Also to help if I can, I doubt I can help anyone much, despite being in my own little world, I have no doubts I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. I’m quite fearful of a lot of things deep down, so I often try to push my boundaries to rid myself of the fears, to conquer them if I can… Mostly successfully, I can often fail badly too…

The point is, life is for living. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in the mundanes of life. Sleep, work, money, tv, sleep, work, money, tv… but there is so much more out there to be experienced if you just take time out to step back and look for it…

I was speaking to a good friend of mine yesterday about Identity. We live in a free society, we can forge out our own roles, our own careers, our own paths. We can pretty much do as we please, but still, we find ourselves increasingly despondent and lacking, down about our options, and increasingly dependent on money. We might be able to do what we want to a certain extent, but we all still have to have money to live, and also, a little bit of money to do the things that make us happy.

I hear the low hum of dissent ‘you don’t need money to take a walk in the countryside’, ‘you don’t need money to sit on a beach’, no – I know all that – I do such things as often as I can. But you do need money to feed yourself, to heat your house, to rent or own a property, so I see such things as going for a nice walk as something you can do after all the other things are done. So for instance. If I want to indulge in my hobbies of singing and composing and writing – I can not do any of that for free. Manuscript paper costs, as do pencils etc. What’s my point? We all have a goal which makes us truly happy – but there are limits, constraints, big compromises you have to make to get there. How does this affect identity? As a woman, I sadly have to concede that in my mid 30’s it affects me a lot.

Call me broody, hormonal, ticking clock – whatever you like, but my identity is difficult to mark. Something’s missing. I do not have the money or luxury to pursue my creative endeavours as much as I want, and more than that, I really feel the gap of no children in my life. I immerse and throw myself into many different tasks to ‘give me a purpose’ and quieten that ticking in the background. But we are all still animals, instinctive beings, as much as civilised society can mitigate such instincts to a certain degree, we have to still acknowledge that huge part of us all. What actually is my identity?

Men – provide, take care of their families, earn money, ‘hunt’ for food, protect. Old fashioned – but how I’ve been feeling for the past year – and I know i’m not the only one… Women – nest, care for their family, take care of the home, worry, cook, clean, I know not the same in all cases, but I know this is how I ‘feel’ and how a lot of my friends of the same age feel. So when we can’t do what we feel we should be doing we feel lost. Lethargic, inertia, trapped. I can’t immerse mysef in the things I love because the day job must come first. It pays the mortgage. It is stressful though, and my hobbies help with that, but… it still doesn’t help with my identity. I’m not a career woman, i’m nothing special at my job, so therefore I just pootle along – another worker on the treadmill.

What’s the answer? I don’t know. Life isn’t easy. We all know that, I feel a change coming, I feel restless and agitated and frustrated. Maybe it’s the looming of the meeting on the 13th? Maybe I’m just not happy with my career choices – I can’t regret what I’ve done because it’s got me a home, and I do participate in many things which make me happy, so it could be SO much worse. Ungrateful? Perhaps I am. But I just can’t ignore my feelings. Ignoring my feelings put me on medication twice this year so I need to face this head on. Just not sure where to start quite yet – maybe it’s time to relax and enjoy the festive season, the new year brings new challenges, I always find a new determination too…

Yes – a famous Fleetwood Mac Album. Also – something the office is rife with at the moment. As the 13th looms ever closer, more ‘confirmed’ elements are revealing themselves and people are ‘making assumptions’ based on the ‘facts’ presented. As a depressive i’m excellent at making assumptions based on ‘facts’. They’re usually not the most positive of assumptions either. But to be honest, in this case, how can the news that’s going to be imparted be anything but bad?

This is not my depressive side talking, this is common sense. We’re in a recession. We rely on Public Funding. The Public Funding as recently been cut. Our office has made a loss for the past five years. Doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out bad things are afoot. Athough we’re actually not doing as badly as other offices, the fact all the other offices are having meetings with an HR member present and at exactly the same time as us on Monday it really doesn’t bode well.

So how am I going to cope with the rumours and the inevitable fallout? Quite honestly I’m rather nervous. I’ve been coping really well since the last of the medication left my system – occasional moods, but then that’s normal for me, keeps me on my toes, lets me feel nice and human. Am I scared that bad news is going to tip me over the edge? Yes. TBH I am. I suppose it all does depend on what the bad news will be, which is why i’m not panicking yet. I’m not going to give it a second thought. How can you control something that you know nothing about?

But again, it’s control that is my big thing isn’t it? I like being in control, and well, this takes away my control. Uncertainty and rumours and the worried comments of others always does that. So. I must take a deep breath. Try to be calm and to prepare everything as best I can. Assume the worst, hope for the best, and keep my head at all times. Sometimes there is surprise in life, who’s to say that what will happen on Monday will be for the worst in any sense?

I’m sitting listening to Sigur Ros today working, and I can’t quite believe I’d forgotten just how much just ‘listening’ to my music raises my spirits and makes me more productive! I’m a bit annoyed with myself really, all through my low time and withdrawal from my tablets, I had not been listening to my music.

After all I preach about ‘doing the little things to cope’ and how much my singing was helping me, I suddenly realised I’d not been ‘disengaging’ myself from everyday stresses by just plugging into my MP3 player. Shame on me. Such an easy thing, such an effective thing, and how it’s making me feel this morning, it could have helped me so much! One huge note and post to self ‘Listen to Sigur Ros, or some other chilled music – nothing compares!’.

And it doesn’t, nothing compares to this feeling. The huge expanse of sound, freeing the mind, taking my thoughts elsewhere, the conscious slowing of my heart rate, the reduction of stress, the small smile that just emerges and sheds all that tension. You would really think it was so obvious to do. Definitely time to listen to more before I kick myself so hard I’ll give myself a complex!

Suffice to say, I purchased the ‘budget’ tree for the office yesterday, and everyone is really pleased with it (well, at least they’re saying they are…) so tomorrow I’ll go and get the chocolates. Colleagues are very excited about the chocolate prospect… Just a nice treat through December, again, little things lift the spirits! In my case, where chocolate is concerned my spirits always need lifting!

Time to re-immerse in music and work – strangely enough Monday doesn’t seem that bad with such wonderful music to listen to…


As I’ve been busy today, I thought I’d plug my project that I’ve been working on for my friend’s Jewellery site… complete fantasy, but good escapism… Any comments would be welcome!

Busy flurries of clean white powdery snow, swirling, eddying

Settling on the ground, slushy or is it icy? Watch your footing!

Slipping and sliding onward progress is treacherous

Always prepared, a little snow isn’t going to stop us!

Snow in the UK is no small event. Snow down the south of the UK? Total disaster. The infrastructure isn’t in place to support it. It happens so infrequently, why would there ever be an infrastructure to support it? It is marginally daft that everything grinds to a halt come a flurry of snow, but on the flip side, there’s lots of hills around where I live, and well, on my way to the office this morning, very nearly didn’t make it out of my road… So what’s my point?

Planning for things. Planning for the unexpected. Pessimism, optimism or just plain considered forethought? In the case of snow, well, there’s only so much money you can spend on a ‘what if?’ and I don’t think we do all that badly really. It would help if more people employed a common sense approach to such things, but, then, not everyone is blessed with common sense, and it is for those who DO have common sense to try and look out for the less blessed. So if planning for weather is such a minefield, how can you plan for your own emotional wellbeing?

It’s not easy. It’s not something you can really ‘plan’ for, but you can ‘prepare’ for it. Which is why I set up this blog, for my planning and preparation of my future. Dark thoughts, low thoughts, troubling thoughts, they all come in different forms, never the same, always disturbing and upsetting. How do I cope with these? By trying to remember what happened last time. To look at how I coped last time and what the eventual outcome was. As with everything in life, the best lessons are learned the hard way, usually by trial and error. You can’t ever know how to expect the next set of low thoughts and depressed mood, you can only ever know that there will be some at some point. It’s like the snow. You have a little warning, you dismiss it as unlikely, and then it hits you with full devestating force. It’s how you deal with it at that point that ensures how the rest of the impact is mitigated. Do you throw down plenty of grit to get a grip, or blindly struggle on slipping and sliding and doing yourself damage by ignoring the fact there’s a huge sheet of ice underfoot?

So as with snow, deal with low moods in the same way. Instead of the bucket of salt and grit, have to hand the things that have worked before and lifted your spirits before. Things that make you happy, projects, hobbies, friends, activities. The reason why I write all of these down for myself is because I have a really terrible memory when I hit the obsessive lows. I become blinkered, I can’t see anything else but the obsessive thought of the moment. But as this blog is a big part of my life now, I force myself to read a little of it every day, or take a look at the pictures I’ve posted on my Pages. This is my little grit box for times of ‘bad weather’.

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