Reverb 23: letting go

Day 23: what will you let go of?

Name three excuses — stories you tell yourself that are holding you back — that you are going to let go of in 2013.

1. As previously discussed, ‘ought to’. The idea that I cannot level up to ‘decent human being’ until I complete tasks X, Y and Z – when it would be much easier to complete said tasks if I had first accepted that I am a decent human being, accepted and valued as such.

2. My writing is terrible and I can’t plot for toffee. And that this is an immoveable obstacle. In fact, I’ve proved to myself this year that plotting comes with practice.

3. That everybody hates me. This is a mindworm that comes free with depression, and ranges in severity from ‘I’m not very popular’ to ‘I am completely pointless and useless’, by way of ‘everybody that claims to like or love me is either lying or bonkers’ and ‘I should not try to make friends because I will just look stupid’.

I could really do with letting go of my fear of looking stupid.

Reverb 21 and 22: dreaming, giving, receiving

Day 21: what’s on the dream list?

What items did you tick off your dream list in 2012? What other, unexpected, dreams came to fruition?

What are the top three items on your dream list for 2013?

I was assigned to work with the LGBT group, which is a post I’d hankered after ever since I joined my employer – and discovered that, like any other group, it is full of people, some of whom are easier to work with than others. As a direct consequence I went to some Prides on purpose.

I walked all the way around the Isle of Wight, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long while. This was unexpected in a way, because I’d originally planned to do Offa’s Dyke, but decided against it for financial and fitness reasons – then realised that I could walk the coastal path, the way I’d always wanted to.

I bought myself a dinner jacket, and have worn it twice this year. With the monocle.

My top three items for 2013? Actually, that’s quite a difficult one, because I am waiting for certain things to shake down. 2013 is the year that everything changes, and it’s hard to see how to be ready when you’re not quite sure how it’s going to change. But here’s how I’d like things to work out:

1. Tony finishes his PhD in style, floppy hat, etc., and finds that there are jobs on the other side.
2. Anne gets well enough to be able to come and live with us.
3. I get myself into a position where I have a choice to stop working where I work now, if I feel like that. I don’t have any plans to do that at the moment, but I feel as if I would like to have the option.

Day 22: your most important gift?

What was the greatest gift you received in 2012? What was the greatest gift you gave?

What do you intend to give yourself in 2013?

In terms of the difference it’s made to my self-perception, the greatest gift I received was, I think, the support and encouragement of the Pico community. The discipline of posting snippets of writing, the enjoyment of reading other people’s, the excitement when somebody says something nice about my own, all keeps me interested in my own writing. We had three months of Pico this year, and it was all extremely useful. It’s a gift that makes more of my gift, such as it is.

As for the greatest gift I gave – well, I’m still trying to take my youngest birthday to the theatre, but he is on stage so much himself that it’s been difficult to find a weekend. Use of our spare bed, for various friends and family members, also springs to mind, though it’s damned uncomfortable. Honourable mention goes to yesterday, when I was entrusted with the proceeds of two whip-rounds, and came back with a) a sponge bag filled with smellies, and an extremely enviable travel journal, for the person who is leaving our office to go travelling; b) a set of baby-gros and a box of Roses, for the person who is currently on maternity leave. I ended up with 30p left over, which I thought was pretty good going; I am usually rubbish at that sort of girling.

In 2013 I want a new camera. Mine broke and I borrowed Tony’s, but, even though it is the identical model, it is NOT THE SAME and I want my very own. My photography was improving no end before that happened, and that’s something that I would love to keep up.

Reverb 20: losing, finding

Day 20: what was lost and what was found?

What was lost in 2012? What do you intend to find in 2013?

What was lost? A lot of faith in a couple of institutions that, in one way or another, define most of my life. One of those I’d rather not discuss online; the other I’ve talked about a lot recently. So I shall leave that there.

In 2013 I intend to find: my box of diaries from years past; my confidence; my top F; time to read The Faerie Queene; time to write every day; possibly a new direction; clothes I want to buy.

Reverb 19: nourishing

Day 19: how did you nourish yourself?

How did you nourish your beautiful body in 2012?

What self-care practices will you take with you into 2013?

In February I got into a useful habit of making a large batch of soup on a Sunday, which could be heated up in the work microwave, and did three or four lunches, and got me eating more vegetables with less faff. This went on for some months, but I have got out of the habit again. The problem is that Sunday is my busy day, and I do not always find time between morning church and evening church to cook – sometimes, to cook twice. Not to mention shopping and all that.

I went through a phase of consuming daily multivitamin pills and St John’s Wort (in the vague hope that they would sort out my immune system and the brain slugs respectively) but got out of that habit as well. I’m no good with pills.

At the moment I am eating a lot of clementines and satsumas and things, because they are easy and cheerful.

I have been wondering (vaguely, again) about getting a veg box delivered. I do tend to use food up if I actually have it in the house (unless I have completely forgotten about it). We did decide against it a while back, on the grounds that the market is so good, but we don’t actually go to the market, because of having to carry everything back. (I suppose the trike would help with that; but it is still a journey that I don’t necessarily have time to make.)

Also, try not to fall over so much. And go to the dentist.

Reverb 18: colouring

Day 18: the colour of you?

What colour best represents the year you had in 2012? And why?

What colour would you like to invite into your life in 2013?

Be as literal or metaphorical, clever or crazy, or just plain off-the-wall with this as you choose!

I think it’s been a blue year.

Lots of different shades of blue. I have had turquoise seas and skies that faded from a blue almost as bright, paler and paler, until it darkened again into navy, midnight.

I have been looking for gold shells on blue backgrounds. Bright, vibrant, royal blue. Gold stars, too, and arrows. It’s a very medieval colour scheme, as much at home on the ceiling of Sainte-Chapelle as on the waymarkings of the Camino de Santiago. (Neither of which I’ve seen in the flesh this year, but let that pass.)

Something blue. I’ve been to four weddings this year, missed one because I was ill, and heard with pleasure of three to come next year. (Two on the same date, but there you go. I suppose there are only so many Saturdays.)

The blues have been squatting in my head for a while. Never mind them.

Next year. Next year I’m not sure about. Perhaps something very crisp and bright, with a glow around the edges. Yellow, perhaps, or a very young spring green. Something new and full of potential. Something that’s going to explode into something else.

Reverb 17: making a difference

Day 17: How did you make a difference?

Think of one person whose life you made a difference to in 2012.

What did you gain from this?

How will you continue to make a difference in 2013?

This one was difficult.

First it hit me in the self-esteem. What have I done this year to make a difference to someone else’s life? Precious little. I have bought a Big Issue here and there… I found it very difficult to put my finger on one action that made one difference to one life. In fact, the only event that feels like it fits the bill is a tweet from one of my friends, saying that they had found one of my posts helpful, when they tried to get their head around synodfail.

What did I gain from this? Validation, I suppose, affirmation, a sense that my maunderings made sense to somebody outside my own head but inside the whole mess. The encouragement to continue to share? But my sense is still that I am the prime beneficiary here, that it was all for myself first and foremost.

In my head I have John Donne saying that no man is an island, and Carl Sagan telling me that, if I want to make an apple pie from scratch, I must first invent the universe.

There is nothing that I can do that will make a difference to somebody else without also making a difference to me. I will never know what difference I can make to someone else, because I can never get outside the fishbowl of my own mind.

And usually I am OK with that. I got used to the idea of being a cog in a machine long ago. I am – usually – quite happy to be a cog in a machine, so long as the sausages that come out of that machine are known to be good. I would rather – usually – be a good cog than an indifferent fork.

This year, that doesn’t seem to have been quite enough for me, and I’m not quite sure how to move it on. I think I need to reach out more, to open myself up more, to find a way of doing more without over-committing myself. To find something worth doing outside work and church, because those are two institutions that have been driving me right up the wall recently, and I’ve been beginning to doubt that I can make a difference in them.

See more people. Know more people. Love more people. See more of the people I know; know the people I know better; love the people I know.

Goodness only knows what that’s going to look like. We’ll see.

Reverb 6 and 14: learning and rewriting

Day 6: What did you learn?

Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?

The one thing I started doing this year that I’d never done before was letterboxing, and as a result of this I have become reasonably good at using lino cutters to carve rubber stamps out of common-or-garden erasers, which is something I’d never attempted before. I have found some letterboxes made by other people whose skill has left me in awe (The Hero of Sherwood is spectacularly good; unfortunately I can’t show you a picture) but I’ve managed to make a few stamps that have a recognisable picture.

I’ve become competent at cycling on the road. This is mostly confidence and etiquette, but it bears mentioning.

I’m beginning to learn how to get proper plots into my stories. Mostly it happens without my conscious decision; part of me watches with bewildered gratitude as I exclaim ‘but of course A would do X if it turned out that B had done Y!’ – but it’s very exciting, because that never used to happen before. So I must have learned somehow…

There were various nifty little tricks I learned on various Microsoft programs, but that’s boring.

Day 14: the path that brought you here

Sometimes I spend too long at the end of the year planning for the new year ahead, so something like #reverb12 is so good for me.

This year was so full of change for me and mine that it feels like it wasn’t a “good one”. While I welcome the fresh breeze that change can bring, too much change just leaves me itchy and skittish, the ground loose beneath my feet. Then, when things settle again and the road ahead looks smooth and delightful, I think – what’s next?

But I need to remember to look back at the winding path before I start walking.

My question is: what was the most important thing you learned in 2012?

I think the most important thing I learned this year was that ‘I ought to’ is a very bad reason to do anything. I had run myself into a wall with ‘I ought to’ and had lost sight of what was actually important for me.

When I had learned to reformulate every ‘I ought to’ into either ‘I want to’ or ‘X needs doing’, I was able to see much more clearly where I was, what needed doing, and whether it needed me to do it. Then I was able to do it, but in a way that did not stress me out, or not do it, and not feel guilty about not doing it.

It has allowed me to do things – some of them very big, scary, things – on my own terms. The whole thing broke a very damaging pattern and I very much want to remember it, and take it forward into next year with me.