Random Musings: On not wearing a face mask

Masks are now mandatory in many more places than previously, a ruling backed by legislation and enforced by fines. This is just a short post to request, once again, that people be kind to those who appear to be ignoring the requirement to cover their nose and mouth. Failure to comply may not be selfishness as some commentators are implying.

I read the following article this morning: Deafblind woman and sister verbally abused for lifting mask on train. The reaction reported added to my concerns about venturing into shops or using public transport. It is not the plague I fear but rather a public willing to loudly condemn those who do not act as they desire. It looks like bullying to me and can be just as damaging.

To be clear, I have no plans to put myself – masked or not – into enclosed public spaces. If I am considered a danger to others then I will keep away as much as I can. I do not wish to add to discomfort felt in these already difficult times.

I have my grocery slots for home deliveries booked and can manage a while longer without other purchases. Travel by bus or train will only occur in an emergency.

It is the potential for such an emergency that led to me adding a possible face covering to the grab bag I carry when out on my walks or bike rides. The thought of wearing it, however, fills me with a dread I find hard to define. I will keep my exemption card to hand but still fear its dismissal. I do, after all, mostly look and act fine.

It is not just wearing a mask that would be hard for me personally, it is the thought of encountering a mass of others with their faces covered, and being punished by them for not doing likewise.

 

As I have said before, the long term damage to health and wellbeing from this pandemic goes much further and deeper than the risk posed by a coronavirus.

Random Musings: Mask wearing and other plague related issues

A personal post today, giving voice to thoughts on which you are free to disagree.

Mask wearing is to become mandatory in the UK when inside a shop as well as on public transport. I read this news and suffered my first panic attack of the current lockdown. As may be expected, my anxiety levels have spiked since March. Finally this floored me, perhaps because the news came just as levels of isolation were being eased. Hope was offered that soon we would be able to move around freely again, and then it was taken away.

My Twitter feed filled with pictures of healthcare workers pointing out that they wear masks for long periods during their standard working day. ‘If I can, so can you’ appeared to be the mantra. My reaction was one of admiration (for the important job they do) and despondency (at my own deficiencies). And then the thought fluttered in that if I were to die it would bring relief. Such is the way my mind works when I am struggling. I quash such thinking, aware it is a reaction to panic that will eventually ease. I’ve been here before, although not under such widely polarising circumstances.

I claim no rational reasoning in my response to mask wearing, other than the message it sends that sections of society – perhaps stoked by a relentless media – have grown fearful in a way previously unimaginable. Fear is contagious, and always we are expected to conform quietly.

This latest ruling adds a further restriction that will be punishable by the police who, since the first lockdown rules were imposed, I encounter with trepidation. How will they interpret my rights? When I dared share this particular concern with others I was met with examples of those who, perhaps by dint of their skin colour, have long struggled to trust the police. I observed my feelings being invalidated – shut down and made shameful because others have it worse.

Do not voice dissent. Do not attempt debate. Stay alert to the words and behaviours that will see you condemned.

There is talk of a need to get the economy working again, of job losses and resultant hardship. I wonder how the numbers will stack up – if more will go into shops because masks are being worn or if, like me, people will stay away until we are freed from all recent constraints. Not entering a shop remains a choice.

Fewer customers may please supporters of mask wearing but will not help the retail trade. Businesses need clients and customers if they are to survive.

There will be exceptions written into the rules on mask wearing. Those with valid reasons will be exempt. This will not stop certain people judging and shaming.

‘Just wear a mask’ many are saying. I question the wider cost.

Please try to be kind, even to those who do not sing from your song sheet. All actions have consequences. Lives will be lost due to measures taken as well as from the virus.

Random Musings: Going up and Coming down

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It is the end of the summer, the August Bank Holiday weekend. I am nearing the end of my fourth, big summer read and I am hibernating from the world. It has been a summer of highs and lows.

We managed only a few days away; once again there was no big family holiday this year. The children could not agree on where they wanted to go or commit to dates when they would be free. Even the weekend we booked was boycotted by elder son who preferred to stay home alone than come away with us. At least this precluded the need to organise a chicken sitter as he can be trusted to look after our feathered friends.

Yet these difficult to please children provided me with the major highlight of the season when they managed to achieve straight A’s in their exams. Elder son can now apply to the universities to which he aspires. After two years of focused effort daughter will be going up to medical school in October. I am so incredibly proud of their achievements.

I announced to the world that daughter had achieved her dream and was accused of crowing. Other friends quickly stepped in to reassure me that I had every right to feel proud. My view? It would be sad if, after dealing with all the crud that teenagers throw at their parents, we were not permitted to take enjoyment from their successes.

Life goes on. After the highs of family celebrations came the inevitable low. I have been through this often enough to know that it will pass but have still to deal with the noises in my head. I unfold each of my strategies: good food, regular exercise, fresh air, early nights. The lethargy of body and relentless questioning that anxiety brings drain my reserves.

Thank goodness for my books. I have read some wonderful works this summer. I discovered Urbane Publishers who sent me ‘Leaves’ and ‘Eden Burning’, both of which I enjoyed immensely. Another small, independent publisher, Influx Press, sent me two non fiction works which turned out to be fascinating reads; look out for ‘Imaginary Cities’ and ‘Total Shambles’. I had the big books set aside for summer to enjoy: ‘Purity’, ‘The Bone Clocks’, ‘Wolf Hall’ and the incredible ‘A Little Life’. And then there were a slew of less demanding but still thoroughly enjoyable works. I have written reviews for them all, do check them out.

We now have this long weekend at home before school resumes for my boys. Both are entering academic years which will culminate in yet more important exams. Daughter will be with us for another month before going up to Imperial College in London. There will be shopping to do, packing for her move and then the challenge of a drive into the city to settle her into her new home. Husband is already saying that he does not wish to deal with the inevitable difficulties of traffic and parking so I, the reluctant driver, will be taking on this challenge.

Life goes on. I received no new books in the post this week. My husband is pleased as he tuts at the size of my overflowing TBR mountain. He is not a reader. He does not understand. Although I feel no entitlement to ARCs the buzz of receiving them never diminishes. When a publicist offers me a book and it does not then arrive a little part of me shrivels. Do I not write good enough reviews? Is my readership not big or diverse enough? I comfort myself with the thought of the books which I already own that I can now read instead.

I had planned to attend an event last week to hear an author, whose book I enjoyed over the summer, talk about her work. Then my little car died. Husband diagnosed the problem, ordered the necessary part and left elder son to fit it. I was dubious but he did a careful, effective job and my car is once again on the road. I should have more faith.

I should have more faith in myself. That is my biggest challenge.

 

 

Random Musings: Mental health and genetics

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‘What have you got to feel miserable about?’

‘No point in wallowing in self-pity, why can’t you just snap out of it?’

One of my good friends has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. When she first told me this news she mentioned that her mother had the illness too. She was seeing first hand what her future may be if medical research does not advance. I mentioned genetics. It was absolutely the wrong thing to say. My friend has children and reacted with horror at the thought that this previously unknown flaw in her makeup could be passed on to them.

When I first started suffering from anxiety I wrote about it in my blog. One of my cousins responded that her mother, my mother’s sister, had also been anxious. It made me think about a possible genetic link. It caused me concern that I may pass on a propensity for this miserable malady to my children.

In my younger days I self harmed. Not often and never life threateningly but cutting myself provided relief from the very real pain that my dark thoughts triggered. I often considered suicide. I made one attempt with pills in my twenties but regretted it before I had swallowed enough to do damage. The body’s demand for survival is strong.

I did not speak of this to anyone. I felt ashamed. I believed that I would be regarded as an attention seeker. In my head I could hear the voices of the many who opined that those who truly wish to commit suicide succeed.

When my babies were born, three children in three and a half years, my life became too exhausting for me to think about much other than our day to day survival. I realised how alone I was. All around me other mothers appeared to be coping. I observed their social lives, the cakes they baked, the committees they sat on, the crafts they made. I felt a failure. I put on my outside face and tried hard not to complain. Always there would be someone worse off than me, those with money worries or a sick child. I took every implied criticism of my parenting choices personally, storing it all away to berate myself with later.

I still feel my stomach clench and nausea rise when I remember a situation where I said or did something that I subsequently construed as foolish. As a child, a teenager, throughout my adult life there are decades of foolishness that I struggle to set aside. I suffer palpitations, cold sweats, occasional panic attacks when asked to face certain, very ordinary, situations. There is no sense to any of this. Mountains made out of molehills still have to be climbed. Sometimes the energy to do so cannot be found.

I have never sought medical help. Although I have suicidal thoughts from time to time I would not do that to my children. No matter how utterly worthless I may feel at times I accept my duty as their mother.

My worry is that I have passed this on to them. What if my genetic legacy includes a switch that will one day cause my offspring to feel as I do? There is love in this house but will that be enough to ward off the worst effects of this imbalance?

There are those who are working hard to raise awareness of mental health issues and to challenge the stigma that it carries. So many have notions of justification and blame. They judge and find the mentally unwell guilty, although rarely as guilty as the sufferers find themselves.

I know that I am lucky. My issues are mild and generally manageable. I recognise my problems and many of their triggers. I avoid adverse situations where I can and have strategies for self help. It is only in my darkest moments that I feel overwhelmed.

My children’s genetic heritage includes a familial propensity for heart disease, stroke and various cancers. I feel no particular guilt for these as we must all die of something eventually. There are many in the family who have lived well into old age. I hope and pray that my children may be amongst this number.

I suspect that my fears for their mental health stem more from the issues surrounding quality of life. Parents wish to see their children happy. Anxiety and depression can kill, but for most sufferers it is the living that is the challenge.

Random Musings: Worry

I worry.

I worry about being late, about getting lost, about having to face my husband with a speeding fine if I accidentally drive over the limit, or a parking fine if I am delayed and stay longer than my prepaid time in a car park. I worry that I will be blamed.

I worry that my children will see me as dull or foolish and think that this is typical of a mother, a woman. I worry that my husband will see me as dull or foolish and decide to leave. I worry that I will express myself badly and cause offence or that my silence will suggest agreement with something I find offensive.

I worry about losing my muse, about the quality of my writing. I worry about not reading the books I have requested for review as fast as is required. I worry that my review will cause pain to the writer who may think I do not appreciate how awesome it is to have created an entire book and had it published. I want to remind them that each reader is unique and nothing is ever universally adored.

I worry that I will get sick and inconvenience my nearest and dearest, cost our beleaguered health service a foolish amount for treatment that merely delays the inevitable. When it is my time to leave this earth may I depart quickly and quietly, no fuss as I slip away. I worry that I will waste other’s time and money.

I worry about letting my family down, about not fulfilling my duties as wife and mother. I worry that I have lost whatever it was that drew my husband to marry me, that I have allowed it to be submerged under all of my worries.

Shortly after my second child was born I went to the supermarket with my toddler daughter and young baby. When we returned I parked my car in the driveway of our home and carried the sleeping infant to his crib before returning to unload the bags of groceries. My daughter had climbed out of the car and, in my mind’s eye, had accompanied me into the house. Now she was nowhere to be seen.

I searched the house, checked the car, walked around the garden calling for her. I looked up and down our road and in neighbour’s driveways. From a mild irritation that she had not followed me as expected I moved to a concern over where she could have gone. It did not take long for full blown panic to set in. Retrieving her brother from his crib I locked the house and set off on a frantic search.

I worried. I worried that she would wander in front of a car, that she would fall in a pond, that some stranger would see my beautiful little child and whisk her away from me forever. I worried about how on earth I would explain to my husband that I had lost his beloved daughter. I had one job, one important job, and I had failed.

This story has a happy ending. A stranger had noticed my little girl as she toddled alone down a neighbouring street. He saw me and stopped to ask if I was looking for this child, pointing me in the right direction; stranger need not always mean danger. As I rushed to find her a friend who had been watching for me came out of her house with my daughter. She had seen her alone, known this was not as it should be, and taken her in to safety until I could be located. She offered me a brandy, concerned at my shaking and ghostly face.

I worry about being responsible, about doing the wrong thing. I worry that I will make a decision to act and it will not be what was expected or required. I worry about being blamed.

And I am blamed: for preparing and cooking the same boring meals or presenting a change that is not enjoyed; for trying to discuss a topic when my detailed knowledge is lacking; for not being as smart as my former achievements suggest I should be. I am berated for not fitting enough approved activities into my day or for not being always available and willing to do as others wish. I am blamed for not meeting the expectations that they have of me.

Occasionally I will book outings for myself to events that do not interest those I love. I work hard to minimise the inconvenience this causes them but still worry at my selfishness.

I worry.

When did I get like this? When did the smart, independent, young woman I used to be turn into this worrier?

Perhaps I would worry more if I did not recall that that smart, independent, young woman had her own, very different demons to contend with. My worries are a burden, but only because I am no longer so alone.

 

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Beauty

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I have a very beautiful friend. She has it all: small frame; slim, shapely body; fabulous poise and posture; long, straight, jet black hair; smooth skin; good teeth; an open, friendly smile; brown eyes you could drown in. She is married with a kid and a part time job, she and her handsome husband own their own home. She also suffers from severe depression.

People ask her all the time, ‘How can you be depressed when you look so gorgeous, when you have so much?’ Society appears to equate beauty to happiness, with a lack of understanding that more may be required. On the other side of the same coin, when a person has an obvious disfigurement it is assumed that they deserve to be pitied.

When I read of a person suffering facial burn wounds commentators will look on the outcome differently depending on gender and age. If it happens to a young girl it is considered a tragedy that she has ‘lost her looks’. There is little discussion about the potential infections or future pain that a serious burn wound can cause. The discussion centres around the potential for cosmetic surgery, how she will feel when she looks in a mirror, how society will treat her.

None of this is new of course. We notice beauty and are initially drawn to a person based on outward perception, although this view is quickly coloured by actions and conversation. Still though, health appears to be undervalued except by those whose quality of life is adversely affected by a condition. When the illness is unseen there is a tendency to assume that the sufferer could get over it if they really tried.

In recent years there has been more open discussion about mental illness, yet still it is assumed that the young and beautiful have no cause, no right to feel down. Outsiders, sometimes even supposed friends, will look at a person and judge if they have an acceptable reason to feel the way they do. Years of suffering and self hatred are swept aside as well meaning passers by suggest losing weight, getting out more, a change in attitude as a cure. Become a different person and all will be well, just do it.

When the sufferer already looks perfect there is incomprehension that they could want more than they already have, as if beauty were the pinnacle of achievement. Could this be why, as an older woman, I hear certain peers talking with concern about losing their looks?

There are many older people who look fabulous, but even highlighting this is to give credence to the idea that beauty is so important. At what cost has this look been achieved, how does the person feel, what else have they achieved? When we read of mental health issues amongst the rich and famous does it help us to empathise if we can see something about them that we consider could be improved?

Nobody chooses to suffer a mental illness, and there is no treatment that can yet cure it. The best that can be hoped for is a strategy for management, improvement to allow for survival.

There is no doubt that achieving a healthy weight can improve physical health and thereby quality of life. An attractive haircut or a flattering outfit can give a temporary lift. What an ill person needs though is not a demand to change, but support and acceptance for where they are now, however they happen to look. Well people would benefit from that too.

 

 

 

 

Me and my neurosis

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I have recognised for quite some time now that I do not get on with big celebrations. The pressure to act in a certain way proves too much for my head to deal with and there are repercussions. The problem is I have yet to figure out how I can avoid these situations. I want to be a good wife and mother; I want to do whatever makes life better for those that I love.

The long, holiday weekend had it’s highlights. Husband decided that the weather was too good on Friday and Saturday to waste around the house so we went out walking. Before children this was how we spent a lot of our down time, and it was pleasing that we were accompanied by our boys on these recent outings. We walked for many miles through our beautiful county, enjoying the sunshine and fabulous views. We returned home feeling wind blown but relaxed; physically tired and achy but in the best possible way.

We decided to forego our traditional Friday supper for a barbecue. The kids left their computers and joined us in the garden where much food was eaten and ping pong played. We watched a film together that we hadn’t found time for since we received it at Christmas. Although I could feel myself becoming agitated I managed to keep my nervousness under control. I was experiencing vivid and disturbing dreams, but I was coping. Things almost went as well as I could have hoped for.

Sunday I had invited my in laws round for a big, Easter lunch. If you are familiar with my blog then you will be aware that I have lost all confidence in my ability to cook, and what would be considered normal socialising for many has become a challenge for me. Deciding that I could do this felt like an achievement. We had invited good friends to stay the weekend before and that visit had been enjoyed by all. I was feeling resolute as I cleaned my house and prepared a welcoming meal that was long overdue.

As ever, I cannot pinpoint any catalyst for what went wrong. Yes I was on edge but I was doing okay, right up until the time when I was not. The meal was a rare success and we had left the table to relax on our sofas and chat. I excused myself for what should have been a moment, and for no reason that I can fathom, mentally crashed. More than anything else, at that moment, I needed to put my head down and get away.

Husband was brilliant. When he came to find me he held me, reassured me that it was okay. The world would not end because of how I had behaved. The effort of holding myself together became too much and I unravelled; I guess the only good thing to look back on is that I found a quiet place alone in which to implode.

It had felt as though I was doing so well. After my in laws left, after I had behaved hysterically with husband, I rested and then rejoined the family. I was exhausted, drained, all feeling washed out. Monday I felt worn down and numb, spending most of the day on the sofa, off line, with my book. Heaven only knows what my in laws think of me; I am probably best not following that thought. Husband assured me it was okay; I must leave it at that.

For my husband’s sake I wish that I could be better, but I do not know how; I truly did my best. I am so weary of this brain of mine with it’s hang ups and neurosis. Today I feel an element of anger that I cannot just behave as I wish, yet I recognise that I have obligations even if I do find them difficult to fulfil.

I am improving. A year ago this type of crash would have taken me weeks to recover from. Although I am disappointed in myself, that I could not hold out for just a little longer, my reaction was contained. Perhaps this is really just a big deal for me.

Today my little family returned to work and school. I can spend the day putting my house in order and recalibrating my inner calm. I am blessed to be surrounded by love and support. Those hugs kept me grounded this weekend, despite the storms.

 

 

 

 

Understanding Ithaka

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I start each week with a fierce determination to make it better than the last. I rarely feel satisfied with my accomplishments, although I am not sure why this should be. I am trying to get to some place that even I cannot fully picture, let alone actualise. The best I can do is to take small steps that feel like a move in the right direction, that give me a feeling of satisfaction rather than despair.

Last week I had four good days in a row. I put down a lot of writing, ate sensibly, met up with a friend for a walk and kept on top of my duties to my family. I wasn’t demanding too much of myself and I was feeling good. Then, on Friday, it all started to slip. Over the weekend I had a major slide and yesterday my mood totally crashed. I cannot explain why any of this happened, there were no specific triggers. I knew that I had to get myself out of the pit so I did what usually works: I immersed myself in a book.

A good book is such an amazing piece of portable magic. Curled up on my sofa, ensconced from the demons that whisper insidiously inside my head, I travelled back in time and across an ocean to live alongside a twelve year old girl whose family had messed up due to the death of her sibling when she was a baby. Donna Tartt’s ‘The Little Friend’ is a rich and engrossing read. It has it’s flaws, which I may cover elsewhere, but it gave me enough food for thought to enable me to process my own issues. It did it’s job for me.

I considered writing a post about how I was feeling on Sunday, but decided against. I was feeling depressed, but I do not consider that I suffer from depression. I have friends who do and I am in a much better place mentally. That I can pick myself up so quickly suggests mood swings more than illness.

Many years ago, when I was being treated by my doctor for ME, it was suggested that I might benefit from counselling as mental issues were a possible factor in this recently recognised malaise. I was granted six sessions under the NHS and went along because I wanted to talk to somebody, anybody, about how I was feeling, the storm in my head. I had been living in England for some time and was struggling to make friends. Although I had a lively social life, I found the English distant compared to my native Irish.

Growing up in Belfast it was common to call in on friends or family unannounced. When I first moved to England and started to get to know people from my place of work I would do this, and soon picked up that my behaviour was considered odd. I learned to phone ahead, to check that it was convenient before visiting. It made me feel that I was not welcome.

What I needed back then was a close friend, a confidante. I had plenty of acquaintances, but none who I could talk to about how I was feeling. Thus, when my doctor suggested the councillor I swallowed what scepticism I had and agreed to give the proposed treatment a try. It proved to be an interesting experience.

From my personal study of psychology and sociology I knew how counselling was supposed to work. It was unfortunate that the counsellor assigned had serious issues of her own. By the fourth and final session (I cancelled after this) she had unburdened herself and I realised that I could be a sympathetic listener, drawing her out, encouraging her to share. When we parted company I knew more about her than I wished, whereas she knew next to nothing about me. Perhaps I should have considered a change in career.

I found strategies for dealing with my own issues independently and life moved on. Now that I am, once again, having to deal with my demons I yearn for that still elusive confidante. My sister remains the only person who seems to understand what goes on in my head, but she lives in another country and has her own life to lead.

My mood swings may well be to do with age and the stage my family is at. Although the manifestation of my social awkwardness may be atypical, I do not believe that my neurosis is unusual. I wonder do most people simply have someone that they can talk to, or is the world filled with people struggling alone. Am I simply less concerned than most about admitting that sometimes I find the act of living tough?

Having spent the last three days getting through my latest storm I am now behind on a great many tasks. My house is a mess, I have stories unwritten and my urgent ‘do’ list grows ever longer. In three days time my children break up from school for Easter which will throw my everyday schedule into disarray. With important exams approaching stress levels are high and finding the balance between offering personal space and support tricky.

Life is the journey not the destination. I appear to be travelling without a map or a compass. I never did like surprises.

Ithaka (C.P. Cavafy)

 

 

Progress

Did I mention that I had a busy week coming up? Having reached the half way mark I feel that I am on top of things, but only just. I have worked my way through the mind storm that blew up over the weekend, which I wrote about on Monday, and moved on. My husband is treading carefully around me. He recognises that I was hurt; I feel loved.

Yesterday was his birthday so we had a family celebration. It would seem that age is inversely proportional to the volume of presents received, but a cake was baked, champagne drunk and we had an enjoyable evening out at a local pub restaurant. It is becoming increasingly rare for my whole family to choose to spend time together which made this special.

Since the weekend I have been thinking about how just a few words can be misinterpreted causing unintentional pain. My daughter put on a new dress for our evening out and looked fabulous. It skimmed her figure perfectly, defining her waist. I commented that it made her look slim, which she immediately took to mean that she normally looks the opposite. It seems that I made a mistake mentioning size.

Are we particularly sensitive about the things that matter to us, or about the things that society values? I was hurt by the suggestion that I was wasting my time writing, despite the activity being of benefit to me and thereby also to my family (a happy momma is an aid to all). My daughter, despite being slim, healthy and beautiful, frets over her size, probably because it is discussed by her peers who see it as important.

However much we recognise what matters and what is superficial, it can be hard to live within a society that is critical of our choices. I wonder if this is one of the reasons why I find it so hard to cope with social gatherings; my way of thinking goes against the conditioning of so many.

My mother worries about my weight because, to her, how a woman looks will determine her standing in society. If I question her views then she takes this as a personal slight, a criticism of how she is. I know that she loves me whatever I look like, but the superficial is important to her and she will never be able to comprehend how little it matters to me. I say little because even I cannot dismiss it entirely. I can tell myself that it does not matter, but struggle to shrug off the influences I have lived with throughout my life.

Yesterday I attended a Parent / Teacher evening at my children’s school. My youngest is choosing the subjects that he will study for his GCSEs so it was important that I attend. I thought long and hard about what I should wear, how I should present myself. I did not wish to embarrass my son when so many of his classmates would be present, and I wished to appear competent and interested in front of his teachers. On this occasion, how I looked mattered.

I sometimes think that I would like to live in a small cottage in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by beautiful countryside but no other people. I could indulge in long walks, write to my heart’s content, and not worry about how I was perceived by anyone else.

Real life is, of course, not so straightforward. I wish to be with my husband and children, and they gain pleasure from the company of others. When I do get together with my friends for walks I benefit from their company. I am not an island.

I have progressed enough to understand my need to cultivate a greater acceptance of how others think and feel. I rail against what I see as attempts to change me. What I need to be working on is accepting that others choose to grant importance to how they are perceived; these differences need not be seen as criticism of my choices. Just as my mother cannot comprehend how looks matter so little to me, so I must not judge others harshly for caring about such things. What difference does it make to my life if they value how they are coiffed and costumed?

Today there is a cold, thick fog oppressing the countryside around my home. Tempting though it is to stay snug and warm inside, I will venture out to the gym. I will feel better for a little exercise, especially after last night’s delicious but indulgent meal. Improving my health will take time and work. At least this week I feel that I have taken a few small steps towards improving my mental well being.

superficial woman

Waiting out a mind disturbance

I have been thinking about friendship, about the ebb and flow of friends. I do not consider myself to be a particularly good friend. I do not invest enough of my time in maintaining the bond that close friendships require.

Relationships are rarely evenly balanced. There may be give and take on both sides but these do not always match expectations. Resentments can grow when effort appears to go unappreciated, or when demands are perceived to be too great. I have walked away from people in the past because time and again they asked for more than I felt comfortable giving. I find it easier to give than to take, but can only offer so much for so long.

I do not blame the people that I have walked away from but rather my own requirements from the relationship. I suspect that I am not an easy person to befriend with my regular need for solitude and my social awkwardness. What I am capable of giving may well not be what the recipient requires.

Over the past few days it has felt as though the internet has not been my friend. My main source of information and communication has not been providing me with the satisfaction that I have come to expect. I suspect that I am asking too much. Walking away is a possibility, taking a break from going on line. This is not a solution though if the problem lies closer to home.

I have a favourite t-shirt which has this image on it.

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I try to live my life like that, enjoying the journey rather than focusing too much on an end point, a result. In so many areas throughout life we are encouraged to strive for something rather than taking time to notice the good things to be enjoyed along the way.

Last month I decided to sign up for the 100 Happy Days challenge (detailed here http://100happydays.com/ ). I am struggling to continue with this, to pick out a different aspect of each day to focus on. I am undecided if the challenge is proving to be counter productive given that my inability to post each day is making me feel that I am failing.

It is not that I am feeling particularly negative, rather I am suffering a disturbance of my inner peace or balance. Non specifics are bothering me and my usual sources of calm are not helping.

I can walk away from others, from the internet, but I cannot walk away from myself. Zen Dog’s little boat has reached choppy waters.

I must find ways to hold on whilst minimising the damage. I know that this too shall pass.

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