Discovery and recovery

I learned a few things about myself this weekend. None were surprising, except perhaps the extent to which they impact my subsequent behaviour. I will endeavour to remember the lessons though. Being aware and acting to alleviate issues is important if I am to manage my life. I am responsible for my own well-being.

The first lesson was that I am not as physically capable as I once was. Having spent several days in a row carrying and shifting heavy items of furniture and their contents, cleaning up as I went along, the extra efforts put in over the weekend to complete the jobs that I had undertaken took me close to the limit of my capabilities. I had to make a concious effort not to take out my extreme tiredness on my family, who had been willingly helping me as best they could. It is not their fault that I am ageing yet am still demanding so much of myself.

When I eventually sat down to rest, late on Sunday evening, it took quite some time before the myriad of aching joints and muscles began to relax. A couple of glasses of wine helped, but I needed to consciously stretch out and think about relaxing each part of my body. I felt exhausted.

Perhaps it was because I was so very tired and achy but, when I eventually dragged myself upstairs to bed, I slept badly. The next day I made myself go through the normal tasks that are required of me before walking to my local swimming pool. I had hoped that a little gentle exercise would help, but I believe what I really needed was complete rest. Having slept better last night, that is what I am going to allow myself today. My body has given what it can and I need to allow it to recover.

As a stay at home mum I am sometimes asked what I do all day by those who hold down jobs or pursue active hobbies and social lives. It is hard not to consider and be influenced by other’s comments, often not unkindly meant, and I find that I am keenly aware of how I spend my time. For now my body is telling me that rest is needed and it is forcing me to listen. In my state of exhaustion over the weekend I was finding it hard to engage with my family. If I cannot muster the energy to involve myself in as much of their lives as they allow, to offer them my interest and support, then I must act. For now, that action is to indulge myself in a period of inaction.

The second lesson that I learned over the weekend is that my children are likely to be more accomplished than me academically. I have suspected this for some time but, as most mothers think that their children are amazing, have been reluctant to elucidate this thought, even in my own head. For me, the significance of this is that I am at risk of being considered an imbecile by my family unless I demonstrate my other capabilities. I am not so naive as to think that I will be able to impress my teenage children and sarcastic husband, but neither do I wish them to write my opinions off as unworthy of consideration just because I cannot display the in-depth knowledge of topics that interest them.

Unlike the rest of my family, I do not possess a detailed understanding of science, maths and IT. I have a grounding and an interest in these subjects but, when topics come up for discussion, I am rarely able to offer any useful contribution. More often than not, if I try I simply exhibit my ignorance. My elder son can be quite intense when he wishes to further his understanding on a topic. He can become impatient if I interject with some attempted witticism or contribution that is irrelevant to the point he is trying to debate.

I know that I have other skills. For the first time this weekend I found myself thinking that to myself and finding it a comfort. It is probably also true that the skills that I have are not those that my son will admire, but I do not require his admiration in order to gain self fulfilment. This was a light bulb moment for me; to realise that, however much I love my family, I can be satisfied that I am succeeding in something without their support. They are all so hard to impress, but I discovered that I do not need my family to admire my achievements in order to validate their worth. It feels as though a rope tethering my balloon to the ground has been cut and I have been set free to fly.

The final lesson that I learned over the weekend is how important my writing has become to my contentment. This is still a fairly new endeavour for me. Although I have been writing on and off since I was a teenager, it is only this year that I have started to give the thought and time needed to experiment with form, style and ideas. Apart from this blog, most of what I write is experimental and therefore private. However, just because I do not publish what I write does not mean that it is not worth the effort. I do not write for public acclamation but for my own satisfaction.

Over the weekend I was just too busy to sit down quietly and pour my thoughts into my electronic pensieve. It felt as though all the words that were building up in my head were fighting to get out, leaving me feeling tense and frustrated with no opportunity for release. I craved a little quiet time, yet the only moments of solitude that I could fit in were late in the day when I was too exhausted to consider coherent thought. I need energy and a clear head when I write as well as a peaceful and quiet environment.

Lessons learned are worthless if we do not then adopt better practice. After yesterday’s attempts to ease my aching body with light exercise, I have granted myself this morning to totally rest; and to write. Much of this weekend’s activity was required to complete the work that I have been doing around the house. My daughter’s bedroom is finished, new curtains have been hung in my bedroom, and our home library is stocked and in use. As I had hoped, this is a fabulous room for my favourite indulgences.

We have yet to turn the heating on in the house, despite the cooling days. Thus I am currently sitting at my desk, thick socks and slippers on my feet, wrapped in a duvet. I will write until all the words have been poured out of my head and I feel the now familiar, pleasurable release. My body and my spirit will recover, but only if I grant them the treatment needed to do so.

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The

Tired but happy

For a few days at the end of last week and the beginning of this week I have had a carpenter in the house doing the structural work in my remodelled book room. I knew that he had done some good work for a few friends in the village and came recommended. He turned out to be a quiet, tidy and competent worker so no problem to have around. I still found that I couldn’t relax.

My days tend to vary depending on what I need to do that day and what I feel like doing when I wake up. I realise that I am incredibly lucky to have this flexibility. With someone around I started to fall into more of a routine. I would try to get out each day to walk or swim, but when I was at home I would shut myself away for much of the time he was around. A lot of dust was being generated by the work, which was a good enough excuse to limit my attempts at housework. I found myself spending even more time than usual on line.

And then this stage of the work was completed. I am delighted with the result, and suddenly find myself with a vast amount of tasks that need doing all at once. Not only does the entire house need to be cleared of a thick layer of dust, but all the displaced furniture needs to be sorted and moved. The bookshelves that had been in the room that is being worked on were to go in my elder son’s room; my daughter was to get his bookshelf along with their younger brother’s. We are redoing my daughter’s room so space needed to be made for her new bed by dismantling her old one and moving her desk. As each piece of furniture is moved, the dust and cobwebs that lurk behind need to be cleared and cleaned.

I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning the book room and moving furniture back into it. My children have instructed me to start calling this the library, which I find rather pretentious but will acquiesce as it is quite amusing given it’s size. It now contains two comfy armchairs with a cushioned footstool between them and two little tables at the side of each for my coffee or wine glass. The room also contains my desk and our piano, thus providing my perfect environment: books, writing, music. As no shelves have yet been fitted in the structure built to support them it does not yet actually contain any books. Hopefully this will be rectified later this week when the carpenter hopes to deliver the shelves he is currently making to fit.

I have been hassling my daughter to clear out her room so that I can get it sorted ready for the new bed to be delivered at the end of the week. Last night she completed this task so, today, I started to take things apart and move things around. The shifting and cleaning was hard work; no need to visit the gym today. In between pulling large items of furniture around and apart I was carrying armload after armload of books downstairs ready to be sorted and placed on our new shelves when they are delivered. I nearly ran out of rags wiping down walls and skirting boards that had been unseen for years.

Having got my daughter’s room looking pleasingly clean and tidy I moved into my elder son’s room. All I needed to do here was move one tall bookshelf out and two in; these were very heavy to shift. He will need to sort through his own things before the room can be properly cleaned. It would be nice to think that he will do this quickly but we shall see.

My younger son’s room did not take long to sort out as it is small and never seems to get into the same mess as his brother’s, probably because he spends so much of his time on his computer. I was able to move everything out, clean and replace in just over an hour. By then though, I was feeling the effects of my busy day.

I still have the study to sort and the rest of the house to clear of dust. I dislike having jobs hanging over me but realise that there is only so much that can be achieved in one day. When I was younger I would just go at a list of tasks until they were complete, sometimes working into the night. These days my mind is willing but my body cannot cope. I need to prioritise and delegate; the latter is no bad thing.

I can understand that the children do not relish the task of sorting and tidying their rooms, but they do like the finished result. If I can get them to act before things get too out of hand then the results are more likely to be pleasing for all. They know where they have put their belongings so can find them again; I can get in to clean without having to step over random piles of stuff.

I am writing this from my desk in my (a’hem) library. I am going to enjoy having this space. I suspect that it will take me some time to get the books in place once the shelves are in, but what a fabulous room it will be. I must make sure not to become too antisocial. Perhaps I should allow a family member to sit on that second armchair rather than the pleasing collection of old teddy bears who already look so at home.

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My weekend

I believe that I may be unusual amongst my friends in liking Mondays. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy the weekends. There is just something about a new week beginning that makes me feel positive.

With September drawing to a close I realised last week that I had been procrastinating about many of the tasks that I had decided needed to be done. Over the weekend I took myself in hand and set in motion a number of things that need to happen before these can be completed. I am now likely to be kept busier than usual for a few weeks to come.

It was a fairly typical weekend in many ways. I picked up the children after school on Friday and took my younger son swimming. For a lot of the time we had the pool to ourselves, which was lovely. None of us had particular plans for the evening so we watched a daft but light hearted and funny film (Johnny English Reborn). I like it when we all sit down as a family to watch a film, not least because we can then discuss it together afterwards. On this occasion, however, my daughter could not be persuaded to join us. As she is currently swamped with school work and trying to sort out work experience placements I think she just needed some time to herself.

I didn’t sleep well so, rather than disturb my husband with my tossing and turning, got up stupidly early on Saturday morning. As is usual, my day was spent cleaning, tidying and sorting the laundry. The boys had a hockey match and my daughter went to the gym in the afternoon so I made the most of a quiet house to enjoy a couple of hours writing. This put me in an excellent mood for the evening. We had a late dinner and I then went to bed. I find that I now need at least a couple of early nights each week or I start to feel very run down.

On Sunday morning I took my daughter shopping as we are planning on redoing her bedroom. She is still sleeping on the bed we got her when she was eighteen months old. The mattress is no longer supportive and a couple of slats on the base are broken. We cobbled together a fix for these but a replacement is overdue. I had been putting this off as I had expected her to move out in a couple of years when she hopes to go up to university. However, she is going to try to get on a course that will take six years of study so will be returning home regularly for some time to come. I think we can justify spending some money to get her room as she would like it.

Most of Sunday afternoon seemed to vanish as I searched the internet for the bits and pieces we couldn’t find in the shops we visited earlier. Most of the things are now ordered so it was a successful enough day. I did manage to fit in a bit of gardening before I had to prepare food for the evening meal. I did not manage to tackle my pile of ironing so that is a job for today.

Sunday evening we had pancakes for tea which was a lot of fun; my kids love pancakes. I make up bowls of fillings and they sit round the island in our kitchen chatting and eating as my husband cooks and tosses the batter. My daughter is trying to persuade her brothers to join her in taking part in NaNoWriMo this year; I may even give it a go myself.

When all had eaten their fill I sat down with a glass of wine and some music to catch up with the on line news. The children had dispersed to their rooms and my husband was engrossed in his book; he is reading his way through George R.R. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Our weekends are now so different to the way they used to be when the children were younger. There seemed to be years when we spent day after day driving the children to: football or hockey matches; taekwondo or judo training; swimming or music lessons; drama; dance; and, of course, the ubiquitous birthday parties. These days life is calmer and we have more time to ourselves. We also spend more time together as a family rather than rushing off in different directions to take part in the next activity.

Even so, when Monday morning comes I am happy to be able to spend some quiet time on my own. Perhaps this is why we need to have our children when we are younger and still have the energy for all the running around that is required. Either that or I have just grown used to being able to take life at an easier pace. I guess we adapt as we need to.

This week my daughter and I need to empty her bedroom in readiness for it’s remodelling. With the work still ongoing in our book room downstairs it feels like a lot of change. There are items of furniture, books and pictures being stored all over the house as we wait for jobs to be finished or items to be delivered. Having set everything in motion I now need to keep on top of the necessary preparation.

For myself though, I want to sit peacefully and write. I can only indulge myself so often; there are too many other demands on my time. I am enjoying a feeling of satisfaction that I have made progress with the tasks I had been procrastinating about, but the busyness that this has generated does not suit me. I like my thinking time and my quiet creativity. Having found this good place to be it can take a force of will to leave it.

If I can make a good start to the week then the rest will generally fall into place. The days seem so short though; I guess I must be enjoying myself.

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Letter writing

I have a birthday coming up later this month and have received some cards already. The best thing about these cards is that they contain letters; I do so love to receive letters. In these days of instant communication and prolific use of social media a personal letter is a rare treat, especially when it is my only contact with acquaintances who are uncomfortable with sharing details of their lives on line. Although I would welcome more regular contact, these occasional updates are appreciated.

Most of the personal letters that I receive are from family members. My parents do not own a computer and I dislike talking on the telephone. We have been corresponding regularly since I moved to England twenty- five years ago. These days I word process my missives and print them off in a large, clearly spaced font as my mother’s eyesight is failing. She would probably like it if I wrote to her more regularly than I do. However often I wrote this would probably be the case.

When I was growing up I loved to write letters. I had many pen pals and, every few weeks, I would craft pages of rambling prose about my life for them to read. Perhaps this was the precursor to my blog.

Today I received letters from my brother and his wife who live on the other side of the world. Although (or perhaps because) my brother has worked with computers for much of his adult life, he will not sign up to any social media sites. The letters that we exchange at Christmas and birthdays are now our only form of contact. He left our parent’s home when I was a young child so my view of him has been gained largely through this correspondence. I sometimes wonder how well we know each other at all; I guess the same could be said about anyone though.

In his letter my brother told me that he has recently celebrated his thirtieth wedding anniversary. His wife seems so lovely and I regret that I have not had the opportunity to get to know her better. She shares my brother’s mistrust of social media but is also kind enough to write the occasional letter to me. They both write of the same experiences but in very different ways. A letter can be a window to a personality, but only through a glass darkly.

A lovely young lady, who is the daughter of a good friend of mine, also sends me a letter from time to time. I would love to get to know her better but value the communication that we have. One of the attractions of Tumblr is that it allows me to gain a better understanding of the next generation. It is too easy for us oldies to mix only with their peers. How are we to support young people with the issues that they must face if we do not have any understanding of the lives they must live?

Sitting down to write a letter takes more time and discipline than a few lines on a social network. A letter is crafted for the recipient whereas a status update is offered to a crowd. I do not gain the same pleasure from writing letters that I once did, perhaps because I write of myself in so many other ways now. I am still more comfortable corresponding than talking though. I find it hard to express myself as I would wish with the spoken word.

Communication with others is so valuable yet each of us harbours different preferences for achieving this sociability. I will read and reread the letters that I receive but can only interpret the information contained therein based on my own experiences. Conveying an intended message with words is an art form; perhaps that is why so many shy away from it.

Although the letters that I receive cannot show me the entirety of the writer, they can open up a side of them that others may not see. Our personal writing style can be as individual as our character, multifaceted and full of a curious ambiguity.

We can never fully get to know and understand another individual, not least because new experiences are constantly changing how we think and feel. The occasional snapshots offered by a letter are still of value. They are a reaching out that tells us we are thought of; a sharing of highlights offered for our delectation. A letter does not invade our time and space but may be enjoyed at our leisure.

I hope that there will always be those who are willing to write to me; the consideration offered is appreciated as much as the update.

English: Postbox for letters and bird box. Woo...

Book snob

A few days before his latest book was published, I came across this newspaper article which made me laugh: Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown. I read The Da Vinci Code a number of years ago, when everyone was praising it as a ‘must read’, but found it glib and shallow. Sure, it was easy and entertaining enough but, in my view, the story had been told so much better in Foucault’s Pendulum. I was not impressed with the way Dan Browne wrote and felt that this journalist (Michael Deacon) captured why. I shared the newspaper article with my friends on Facebook and thought little more of it.

Then, a couple of days ago, I read this: 30 things to tell a book snob. It made me think about my attitude to books, what I read, why I read what I do, and how I judge others based on what they read. I have written many times about how I hate being judged and try not to judge others so this made me uncomfortable. I was concerned that I was being shown to be a book snob and I didn’t like the way this made me feel.

I love books. I love the excitement and anticipation of holding an unread book; of turning the pages for the first time before immersing myself into a new and exciting, unknown world; getting to know the characters as I learn about their lives and adventures, their trials and pleasures. For me, there are few more enjoyable ways to spend time than curled up on a comfy sofa with a good book.

When I reach the end of a work of fiction that I have enjoyed I feel a sense of loss. As I process the tale in my head and consider what I have just read, there is a feeling that people I knew well have moved away and I am unlikely to ever see them again. They have been a part of my life for a short time and now I must move on. I usually need a few days to get over a book. Their stories touch me and change my way of thinking, even if only slightly.

It is not just the words that I love but also the physical books. Shelves full of books make a room look so comforting and inviting. I look at pictures of rooms full of bookshelves such as this one book lovers staircase  or this one book lovers room and I want to get to know the people who live in these houses. With all of those books read or to read I think the residents must be so interesting. I want to look through their books and discuss the ones that I have enjoyed, to share what I think of the stories and the authors.

I guess I think that if I read the same books as someone then we may have views and opinions in common; I am interested in what they enjoyed or disliked about a book that I would rate highly, or what they thought of a book that disappointed me. When I lend out a book I want to know what the reader thought of the gift that I shared with them. Perhaps I can gain further insight into a tale or a character from a new reader’s perceptions. I want to improve my mind through reading, to challenge my preconceptions through literary characters, to gain knowledge from research done by diligent authors, to enjoy reading a well written piece of literature.

Am I a book snob? I much prefer it when I see people reading even trash novels than not reading at all, but I do consider so many books that others seem to enjoy to be little more than mildly entertaining fluff. I rarely enjoy reading books by ‘best selling’ authors as I find them predictable and repetitive. Obviously there are plenty of people who choose to read these books and therefore, presumably, enjoy them.

I was annoyed when I discovered that some of these authors think up their plot lines and then get ghost writers to produce a manuscript written in the required style. There are so many talented writers out there with original ideas, yet the publishing houses prefer to churn out repetitious books by authors they know will sell. I can understand the economics but rail at the lost chances to improve the depth of our literary experience.

I always have a pile of books that I am eager to read if I could only find the time. It takes effort to stop myself buying more and more books, there are so many out there that sound interesting and worth investing in. I value recommendations from friends and love to receive books as a gift. I have no wish to own an ereader. I want to hold a book in my hands, to smell and feel it as I turn the pages.

I guess I do form views of others based on the books they read, in much the same way as I am influenced by the television programmes they watch, the films they enjoy, or the effort they put into how they look. These interests and preoccupations are a part of who they are and offer insights into their psyches. I am able to empathise more with someone who reads because books are such an important part of my life. I may not be able to understand how they can enjoy certain types of books, but will not condemn them for this. A variety of tastes and interests in any area of life is a good thing.

A story that I find shallow, weak and predictable may be the escape that someone needs from difficulties they face in their life. Just as I look for challenge and stimulation in my literature so others may seek rest and recuperation. Books provide a door to another world. Most readers will try many different types of books, enjoying some but not others. Whatever books they read and for whatever reason, if they derive pleasure from the experience then their book has served it’s purpose and is, therefore, a good one for them.

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

On being boring

My son came back from work today in fine form. He and his colleagues had spent the afternoon dismantling faulty computers and rebuilding them from parts that still functioned as they should. He enjoyed the banter as much as the engineering; a good day at the office. My son is fifteen and on a week of work experience.

His dad is working nearby and my son has mentioned a few anecdotes picked up along the way. Apparently my husband has been known to complain to tech support; apparently he can be quite demanding. I laughed when I was told this, recognising the attitude and the description, but my son frowned at my reaction. He had divulged information from a secret world that I could not understand. I do not go out to work; I am boring.

How many blog posts have I now written about my recent neurosis? How much am I repeating myself, indulging an issue that is slowly being resolved? There are so many other things going on around me, and I have taken enough small steps now to feel that I have made progress. The mountain is being climbed; perhaps it is time to start thinking of other things as I ascend, before my sharing becomes tedious. Perhaps I have reached this state already and need to move on.

This is a good sign. I am no longer reeling under the impact of unexpected and uncontrolled feelings. I am no longer having to pour all of my energy into just going through the motions of my day. I am coping and I am healing. I am thinking of other things.

It is not unexpected for a teenager to find their stay at home parent dull and exasperating. With their burgeoning plans and hopes and dreams it is understandable that they should look at my life and wonder. I appear largely content to cook and clean, wash and iron, stay in most nights to read or write and go to bed an hour or even two before midnight. They must wonder at how I can feel fulfilled with this life I lead, and conclude that I am indeed dull.

I will not share with them, or anyone else, the world that exists inside my head. I invent characters whose lives unfold in complex and relentless detail; I write tale after tale in my mind, the adventures fantastical, magical, improbable. My characters may have skills or super powers; wealth and achievement; they may have survived a childhood of poverty yet overcome this to silently seek a ruthless revenge on those who tried to hold them down. My stories are convoluted and intricate; my heroines strong and unbeatable; most of all they are mine, never to be shared but never humdrum.

Perhaps, in a few years time, when I feel that my services are no longer required by my children, I will take up a new interest. Perhaps that is what I have already done here. I do not feel either the need or the desire to write down the fictional, fantasy adventures that entertain me in my head, but I do like to write. I enjoy pouring the words into my computer, playing with the expressions and fine tuning the narrative.

So, I read and write; walk and work out; cycle and swim; take care of my home, my family, my hens; dream my dreams. If I am enjoying how I am spending my time then that time is not wasted, and I have never felt that I have too much time on my hands. I always have more tasks that I wish to complete than I have hours in the day to tackle them. If others look on my life and wonder at what I do then perhaps it is because I choose not to share; perhaps by asking the question they show that they will not understand.

I do not expect my life to look interesting, neither does it need to. So long as I am not bored then I can live with being considered boring. I have my thoughts and schemes and interests. However my life progresses, so long as I can gain enjoyment and fulfilment from the experience, the actuality need not be noteworthy.

“Dance as though no one is watching you,
Love as though you have never been hurt before,
Sing as though no one can hear you,
Live as though heaven is on earth.”
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Self improvement

I very much enjoy receiving feedback on my posts and welcome all of  the comments that readers have kindly taken the time to submit. Some of these come from people who do not know me and have found this site by chance. If they are also bloggers then I will try to visit their sites; I now follow several of them and enjoy considering their posts immensely. There is only so much that I can manage to read in a day but I welcome the chance to gain a perspective on their lives and on the thoughts and issues that they discuss.

Other comments come from people who know me outside of the internet. Often these are posted on my Facebook page, where I always include links to the posts that I publish. As these people know me personally, and have often done so for many years, their comments can be more of a challenge to deal with. They are not just basing their reactions on the words that I write but on the person that they know. It takes more courage to share thoughts and feelings with friends than with strangers. If things go badly then I have more to lose.

If I were not happy to receive such feedback then I should not write about personal or controversial topics. That, however, is one of the aspects of blog writing that I enjoy. I like to put down what I am thinking; I find that it helps to clarify in my own mind what are sometimes fairly woolly thoughts. It also helps me to see where I have done my own thinking and where I have simply believed what others have told me. Much of our knowledge is obtained in this way but, when I choose to disseminate an argument, I am taking it as my own. I am well aware that I have valued friends who will strongly disagree with many of my views.

What has been particularly interesting for me has been the general feedback that I have received on the methods that I appear to employ when considering a subject. I have been told that, whilst I claim to encourage reasoned debate, I do not always come across as accepting of others point of view when they disagree with me. I state that I respect the right of others to think differently to me yet display an exasperated manner and speak impatiently of their choices. It would seem that others do not see me in the way that I see myself. When I think about this honestly, I believe that they are right.

I find it easier to clarify my thoughts in writing rather than face to face as I need time to consider what I wish to say. I am not good at debates; my mind is not quick enough and I cannot recall the detail of enough factual knowledge to make it sound as if I know my subject; I do not have a good memory for detail. At school I was better at the subjects which required problems to be worked through rather than a regurgitation of memorized information. I failed miserably at languages as I just could not recall enough words. When faced with a friend who possesses a memory to rival Google I feel bumbling and foolish; I need time to consider new information and to work through my thoughts on this new information as I would a mathematical puzzle.

When I am considering a subject I will try to read around it, but even this can be fraught with difficulty. I cannot help but have preconceptions and it is so easy to read opinion pieces that agree with how I already think. When a writer, well qualified in his subject, creates a cognizant argument with well researched facts, figures and references to back up my point of view it feels so satisfying; it is as if I am being proved right despite others not agreeing with me. Much harder is to read a similar document that is equally well put together but carefully argues that I am wrong in my thinking. This makes uncomfortable reading. I am working hard to make myself seek out these difficult pieces and grant them proper consideration.

In my head I find myself thinking that those who disagree with me cannot be reading and considering the information that has encouraged me to think the way I do, but that is disingenuous and beside the point. This is not about me changing others – I have no right to attempt to do that – it is about improving myself. Effecting change in the way I think is a challenge.

If I wish to become the person that I have claimed to be then it will require effort but I truly do not wish to be closed to new thinking, neither do I wish to be accepting of flawed arguments. Living with ourselves can be difficult enough at times; by promoting myself as this open and reasonable, accepting and respectful individual I have been outed as a hypocrite. Now I need to do something about it.

Please continue to comment on the subjects that I write on. I am going to try to read more of those disagreeable but well argued opinion pieces and to give more consideration to why I have accepted a certain point of view. It will be interesting to see how my own thinking changes, if at all. I doubt that I will be able to debate any more effectively, but I hope that I will grow closer to being the person that I have claimed to be.

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One step at a time

Opinions and comments

Oh dear. I seem to have rattled a few cages with some of my recent posts. Although not my intention, it is an obvious risk when I write as I do. It is fine for me to say that this is my blog and I will write as I wish, but I put links to my posts on my Facebook page and my Twitter feed, thus offering them up to the people who have got to know me outside of the internet. It can be difficult to square my wish to write as openly as I can with my wish to be sensitive to the feelings of those who may recognise the people and events I refer to. Remember readers, this blog is a collection of my thoughts and opinions on a mix of random topics. Just as a conversation can reveal differences in views amongst friends, so my interpretation of events as put down here is likely to differ from how others may have experienced the same situation.

Another of the perils of writing such a personal blog is the risk of becoming narcissistic. I read this very funny post yesterday How To Write A Blog: 10 Obligatory Blog Posts Every Blogger Has To Write At Least Once | The Official How To Blog. which made me both laugh and cringe at my own guilt on a few of the points mentioned. I think we should all be able to laugh at ourselves from time to time. I will try hard not to take my writing too seriously; please feel free to do the same!

In keeping up with current affairs I do develop opinions on some serious topics, but rarely feel competent enough to comment immediately and directly. I seem to need time to mull over what I am thinking; to put my thoughts in some sort of order. Having written a general post on societies acceptance of women being at fault if they are sexually assaulted  (The unacceptable passing remark « neverimitate.), I read with interest the various newspaper comments and blog posts on the Steubenville case in America and the rape culture that is prevalent and accepted there. Two that stood out were I Am Not Your Wife, Sister or Daughter. I Am A Person. | The Belle Jar. and Listen to Steubenville Because It Speaks | Banjos and Bordeaux. The apologists for the perpetrators of this crime make me despair, but at least there is now a debate going on. Let me know what you think of these posts.

I started this blog as a way of taming the jumble of thoughts that were rambling around inside my head. Just as I start my spring cleaning at home with a good clear out, so writing my thoughts down in this way is helping me to restore order; I have found it very therapeutic. It is always interesting to know what people think of what I write and I welcome the comments that I get, especially as the majority of them have been encouraging, constructive and reflective. I have had to put up with just the one troll but I guess that is another peril that can be hard to avoid if publishing publicly. Just as in the outside world most people will behave reasonably most of the time, so on a blog the vast majority of readers can be welcomed.

I don’t plan to stop writing and I do hope that people keep reading. I also realise that I have just written a blog post about writing a blog post which must count as one of my 10. I’m working my way through that list nicely.

writing

Learning to Blog

Twelve days into blogging and I am taking note of my behaviour. I started this as a therapy; as a means to exorcise the seemingly constant stream of conversation and discussion that was going on in my head and never got shared.

When I did have a real time, face to face conversation with a known person about any of this sort of stuff I never seemed to get across either the feelings or the meaning of what I was thinking. I have no idea if this is typical or unusual, but it was getting me down. Writing this blog has helped. I can think through and edit what I want to say. I am hoping that it comes across as I want it to; that it is real.

What I didn’t anticipate was how I would react after I had emptied my overfull head of those thoughts. I was doing this for me yet I started watching the blog stats; the number of new visitors, views, likes and follows offered a validation of what I was doing. I started to note what seemed to be of interest; the best time to publish; where the views were coming from.

I can’t say that any of this has affected what I write. I sit down at a quiet time of day with a soothing drink, put my feet up and log on. What I produce is what is in my head, not what I think will be read. I am still doing this for me. I find it interesting though that I do take note of how it is received. I generally have no idea who is reading, just the numbers. I have no idea what readers think, but I still like the fact that it is being read. I am not just writing and storing the document in my computers memory; I am publishing and it is being read. That is a satisfaction that I had not anticipated.

It will be interesting to see how my reader stats evolve as the novelty of posts from a known person diminish. Will I pick up new readers from shares, searches or tags? Will it matter?

Thus far the effort I have put in has been more than repaid. I have found writing to be like a sports massage for the mind. It still feels good to be read though.

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