As the year ends, and we look back at the joys, achievements and disappointments of the past twelve months, it’s worth taking some time to recognise what our efforts have demanded of us and where our resources have been depleted.
Whether you have spent 2015 bringing some long-cherished project to fruition or simply trying to keep your head above water, it’s likely that this has come at some cost to you.
I feel slightly diffident writing to my own prompt. I’m also amused, both by my own foresight in knowing that I’d be feeling like a wrung-out dishcloth by this point in the winter, and by Kat’s timing in putting it up today, when I am feeling much like a wrung-out dishcloth that I was sent home sick from work, and have spent most of the afternoon asleep.
What have I spent 2015 doing? Editing Speak Its Name and preparing it for publication. (I’d rather hoped that it would be out in the world at this point; it’s getting there, but slowly, slowly… I’ll take stock at the end of December, and hope to be able to give a publication date then.) Planning and executing what one of my colleagues calls a ‘birthday parade’ – a succession of activities and celebrations to mark my 30th birthday. In my case, it was a four-day walk from Reading to Winchester, which I am intending to write up on this blog before too long, a birthday party with a ceilidh and a ride on a 1935 Renault TN4F and a 1959 Leyland Tiger Cub (both buses, if you were wondering!), and seeing Joan Baez at Cambridge Folk Festival. Replaying an old work pattern, where I get bored in a quiet period and then over-commit myself for a busy one. Working through some fairly mind-blowing mental revelations.
Yes; it makes sense that I am feeling a little run-down! And I’m still in this over-committed pattern: coming down with this bug today has meant that I’ve missed two social activities already, and am likely to miss at least some of the four planned for the long weekend. The first day I have that’s completely free, where I have nothing planned and no obligations to anyone, is 22nd December. I’m not going to let that happen next year; I’m going to fight for my free weekends.
This year I’ve also come to notice just how much of an introvert I am. The week where I had two conferences, a leaving do, a 60th birthday party and a huge family lunch was a bit of an eye-opener; I ended up hiding downstairs crying on that last day. I am reluctantly realising that I just can’t cope with that many people for that sustained a length of time. I need to build much more solitude into my life.
So how to replenish my resources? I wrote yesterday about a two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off cycle. I would like, without burdening myself with yet more obligations during this over-committed Advent, to start thinking about things I can do during my recovery weeks to refresh myself. More: I would like to start doing those things now. I would like to find blissful gaps in all this bustle and charivari. Why not? I need replenishing now.
Take long, warm, baths. Shut my study door. Read poetry. Wander around parks and museums in my lunch break. Read old, familiar books. Read new, exciting books. Lie on my sofa and listen to grand opera. Go for long walks. Notice things.
What do I need most of all at this moment? To go to bed. Good night, all.