Reverb 10 – Dec 31 – Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

(Author: Molly O’Neill)

Heart, South Beach, Aberystwyth - Dec 2010

Gosh. My last #reverb10 post.

I started something, and then I finished it
.

And in between those two important achievements I put in a fair bit of work. It was hard, sometimes, fitting in posting around preparing for Christmas and doing a job which has a tendency to sap both my mental and physical energy, but I chose to keep going, because I believed in the project – and crucially, I enjoyed it.

I’ve just spent some time quietly reading back through every post I made, marvelling at the way my posts developed. I began to find places where I could use photos that I’ve taken over the past year: photos that sat seemingly forgotten on my hard drive were given a new lease of life through being shared with you.

My writing has loosened up and become tighter at the same time – does that make sense?

Taking part in reverb10  led me in new and unexpected directions: now I’m reading about the intersection between productivity and creativity and communication and having flashes of inspiration about how these ideas could be applied to my day job to improve the quality of patient care. The more I stimulate my mind, the more it works in exciting and surprising ways; I’m one of the Ideas People again.

One of the things I love about writing is that however measured and deliberate you are, every single word also exists in the much larger context of everything else you’ve written. Reading back through the larger whole – as I have done with my #reverb10 posts – has thrown up some interesting patterns that I wasn’t aware of when I wrote them. I’ve made some connections which seem blatant in hindsight but to which I was oblivious at the times.

It struck me how often I’ve written about being blessed with wonderful family and friends.

From the nucleus of myself, Leo and my son, to my extended family, and my friends – who I like to think of as my ‘chosen family’ –  it’s been the people who have made this year worthwhile. I used to think that having too many friends or a large and bustling family would be overwhelming – too demanding and too much pressure on my time. I’ve changed my mind. I want lots of people in my life – loads of them, in fact! – what I have to give I have in abundance and there’s enough to share with everyone.

This last year has been one of looking at what worked in my life, and what didn’t. And then working out how to make things better. I decided I didn’t want to be an angry person any more.

I worked out that trying to be in control – and inevitably failing, because being in control of everything ever is simply not possible, no matter how much time and energy you devote to trying- was at the root of a lot of the generalised, but exhausting, day-to-day crossness and niggledness I was feeling. This was a massive revelation!

But, you know, allowing events to take their own course, letting situations develop in their own organic way is OK. Nothing got broken and nobody died, and the time and energy saved allowed me to step back a little, to find moments of  stillness where there was no need for frantic mental chatter. When things got hairy, I knew that my instincts – which I’d allowed to flourish – would guide me safely.

It’s been a funny old year. Micro-analysis suggests I had more than my fair share of challenges to deal with, and yet the resounding memories are of learning and growing and feeling proud of myself for getting through them. I don’t always believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger –   it might not destroy you but it can still leave you feeling battered, broken and sorely disillusioned – but I feel curiously self-contained and capable right now.

I’m moving into the New Year with a feeling of purpose and direction
.

Note that I said ‘a feeling’ there – I’m not entirely sure what my purpose is or which direction it’s taking me in; I have some ideas – and one of my resolutions is to make sure I start capturing all these ideas – but I’m excited, you know?

The possibilities are endless, and I’m looking forward to all of them.

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Reverb10 – Dec 21 – Future Self

A nice cup of tea - gwaan gwaan gwaan

Image by papalamour via Flickr

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?
(Author: Jenny Blake)

Time travel always confuses me. So let me get this straight, this is me in five years time writing to me now, advising me about the coming year…

  • Stay focused. It’s not always easy for you, but it’s worth it.
  • Enjoy being organised, and the freedom it brings.
  • Keep learning about productivity, and take what you learn into your workplace, because you can help bring about positive change.
  • Be mindful.
  • Be as strong as you can, but remember it’s OK to ask for help sometimes.
  • Cherish the people you love.
  • Drink tea not coffee!
  • Don’t be afraid to grasp life tightly with both hands.
  • Make time for you, and use it productively.
  • Remember that by looking after your body, you’re also looking after your mind.
  • Meditate.
  • Slow down and take it all in.
  • Blink
  • Breathe

Reverb10 – Dec 16 – Friendship

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
(Author: Martha Mihalick)

I don’t think I can narrow it down to one friend. Not because I have so many, because I don’t, really. I’ve learned with age that when it comes to friendship, quality is vastly preferable to quantity. So in no particular order, here’s a big shout out to all the people who made me feel loved, accepted and worthwhile throughout the year; good people who I’m blessed to have in my life.

B has been my best friend for years. We met at college but I thought she was too cool for school (and that I was woefully inadequate to be her friend) and we only ever hovered round each other on the edges of intersecting social circles. Somehow all that changed when we had babies and moved close to each other – geographically and emotionally. You could quantify our friendship in years (25), children (three between us), phone calls (too many to try counting) and loving support through tough relationship dramas (mostly mine), but it wouldn’t do it justice. B has taught me to never shrug off complacency, to reach high for my dreams, and to live in the moment – this year probably more than any other.

K is my close friend – so close that in the past four years we’ve briefly dated, shared a house and then lived in houses 25 yards away from each other. She’s always there with a cup of tea, a cigarette and her uniquely twisted humour, always ready to see the utterly hilarious or ridiculous side of life. I can always hear her laugh above the hubbub of a crowd. For several months this year she was right there beside me, bolstering my strength and keeping an eye out on my wavering health. In three days time she moves house – only half a mile away but further apart than we’ve lived in years – to move in with her lovely partner. It feels like the end of an era, which is why I choose to celebrate it here.

D is someone I’ve known since school, although we haven’t really seen each other properly in years; but through the magical powers of the internet, and indeed #reverb10, we’re getting to know each other again; I’m looking forward to catching up with her in person in the New Year.

The other D, who has been through so much this year, but remains dignified and focussed, despite working a hellish job with sometimes hellish people. She is a talented writer and photographer and this year has sold some of her work, which I find tremendously inspiring.

My son… well, I’m loathe to tempt fate and say that he’s definitely through the Adolescent Hell Years, but our relationship has improved, dramatically. This year has been one when I’ve stopped and taken a deep breath and thought very hard about whether or not to engage in whatever battle’s being thrust at me. By choosing wisely, and through laying boundaries – horribly, painfully strict boundaries at times – I’m starting to see the side of my son which will make him a good friend – to me and everybody else in his world.

I run the risk of being horribly cheesy by writing about my girlfriend here, but Leo is as much a good friend to me as she is my partner and my lover. I’m not going to make you all cringe by going into any kind of detail: suffice to say, Leo is great, and I am lucky.

There are all sorts of other folks who deserve mentioning: my work colleagues – the vast majority of whom are supportive, generous and hilarious to work with; the pub quiz team folks; the Wrecked! ladies… all of whom have made me feel like I’m worth it – which is priceless.

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