Thursday, 20 November 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are finding, writing, dressing, thinking, beginning.

We have been finding room for a sofa that I saw in a second hand shop, and asked my parents to help us buy for our Christmas present. It meant clearing out the conservatory add on at the back of the house which has been much used, but a little unloved. We cleaned and emptied, burnt and shifted to make it a space of sculpture and wood waiting to be sculpted and plants, which meant we could subsequently find space in our living room for the new to us sofa when it arrives, hopefully at some point today.

A couple of weeks ago somebody (a writer) said to me, out of the blue, "you are going to write a book, aren't you?" Perhaps I would, if I ever had a coherent idea. Anyway, it made me think about writing. Just think about it though.

Snake and I went to the coast for his birthday last week, and found ourselves booking to eat in a smart hotel restaurant instead of picking up fish and chips to eat on the beach, which is what I'd envisaged (there isn't always much option in between those extremes in an out of season seaside town on the east coast here). I only had jeans and a scruffy jumper with me, so we visited the charity shops, and I ended up dressing in a new to me outfit of a long alpaca wool skirt, a Gap t-shirt, and a Betty Johnson cardigan, all for under £10. I still had to wear my ridiculous winter boots and my dog walking coat, so I wasn't exactly smart - in fact, I probably looked very much like I'd botched together an outfit from a charity shop - but I was happy.

I've been thinking about what I do, and whether what I do is enough, whether it's OK to just keep doing it. I went for a drink with a friend, BB, and she asked what I'd do for a career if I could do anything, and it's a really hard question for me. She is ridiculously accomplished and successful - among many other things, she is some sort of fellow at Cambridge University, and I found out this week when she casually referred to it, has for years mentored somebody massively influential whose products are used by me and most of the people I know. She is already thinking of when her boys leave home, and what she can do next. But my job is OK at the moment, and I am involved with Fawcett, and the school where I'm governor, and my family and friends. I find it hard to look ahead, or to imagine myself in a role that I haven't fallen into. Maybe I should have a back up plan. Maybe I should have said "I'm thinking about writing a book".

At work,  I think I'm beginning to see new ways to lead the team through this transformation we've been asked to instigate. There is a huge challenge in somebody who has little interest in processes (me) and is comfortable with feeling the way and making it up, leading a team who have previously been pressured into micro processing every stage of their work. We're all working on finding some sort of middle ground, between my vision of a colourful, every changing swirl of activity, and others need for a clearly signposted path. It's good. At the moment, I like my work.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are laughing, crying, cooking, looking, planning.

There has been quite a lot of lovely laughing this week...perhaps most intensely last night. Snake and I went away to the coast for his birthday, and late in the evening went for a walk on the completely dark beach. As I headed towards the sea, Snake reminded me that the shingle drops away very sharply at one point. I was assuring him that I'd be fine at the very moment that I stepped into mid air and landed flat on my back, my fall cushioned by the wine I'd drunk, and pebbles. 

Not crying, I don't think. Should I be worried?

At the weekend I ended up cooking for nine people at a couple of hours notice. A group of us frequently have a shared Sunday meal, usually at Ms' M's a she has the biggest table and biggest oven, and we usually share the actual cooking bit, but because of a set of complications, the venue was changed and I was supplied with ingredients but not the usual help. It went fine.

It could be said that I went looking for a UFO today, although I am entirely pragmatic and lean more towards the lighthouse and comet theories to explain the weird occurrences of the 1980's sightings in Rendlesham Forest. Still, it's a spooky type of place, not the usual friendly woodland I walk through. I was glad to be out well before dark. Also, last night, after my fall finding myself looking straight up at a very beautiful clear night sky.

Uncharacteristically, I am already planning Christmas. Snake's mother and my parents are coming here this year. There's a lot about Christmas that trigger anxiety and just a specific humbuggy misery in me, but the getting lots of people around a table for too much food is the good bit, and I'm thinking quite happily about what will be best to cook to please everyone.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

You were right about the end

Time has felt strange to me this last couple of weeks - light, pliable. The weeks are going quickly, but last weekend could have been a year ago.

I think it's because time has stopped dragging at me. I'm not battling my way through the hours any more. I think it's another aspect of being well.

Walking through a thickening dusk at a speed I couldn't manage all last winter, when I pulled myself on daily walks through mud and rain and wind, mile and hour after mile and hour. I'm walking still along the same paths, through the same elements, but the air isn't fighting me now, and moving forward, choosing my pace, travelling at speed, feels...sort of....joyful?

Daughters of the Soho Riots - The National

Thursday, 6 November 2014


This is a currently link up with Ot and Et and Harvesting Kale who every week provide inspiration in the form of 5 words. This week, the words are reading, running, sending, liking, valuing.

I have been reading Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moor for real life book group. Also, Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky because I love her VI Warshawski series. And then as well, postings on how this week, women in Britain essentially stopped getting paid until January if you take into account the widening (how can it be widening?) pay gap with men. Other things I've been reading this week are responses to a Mail on Sunday article which lied to try and discredit The Fawcett Society by claiming that T shirts with their slogan on where made in a sweat shop. They weren't, and the idea of The Mail giving a shit about women in a developing country is laughable. They are far too busy in their work to firmly place women and minority groups here into second class citizenship status.

In this new school, Goldie has been  running in county cross country again. He had a break from it because of knee issues and because it took his focus off football, but he was put into a heat for a race and he's got through to the next round of whatever thing it is. He's a little ambivalent about it - sensibly, he doesn't massively enjoy running several kilometres through mud, usually with some form of sleet or hail in his face, and being jostled by many other panting, sweating boys. However, he's competitive and though he does no specific training, he tends to scrape through the heats and feel compelled to go on to the next round. Which means that I am then compelled to drive across East Anglia to stand in the mud with the hail and rain in my face, watching him for the brief minutes he's actually in view.

I have been sending my girl pictures of kittens over Facebook. She is a fairly pragmatic, unsentimental person, but kittens are her weakness.

What I am really liking at the moment is feeling that I'm better, that this is the point I needed to reach in terms of managing my mental health, and that there is a plan that if I stay on meds for another 6 months then the theory is that this level of feeling able to cope, able to see a future, able to interact with people will be my norm again. The way I experienced depression is that it wasn't possible to see how life could be different, or what that would look or feel like. The meds give me that ability to believe that there is something better, that it is possible to get through the darkness.

I am valuing the team I work in, the way they've accepted me as a new manager who was landed on them without notice, and not only that but have come along with me in testing out new ways of working that demands huge change from them. As public sector workers, we are woefully under resourced in terms of tools or staff to do the job we do, and in addition have been denied any pay increase since this government came to power, meaning that in real terms we are working in ever more difficult circumstances for  20% less pay than we were getting 5 years ago. But, so far, this team have stuck with me, stuck with the innovations, kept taking on all the incredibly difficult stuff that it is our job to carry. Kept finding reasons to laugh.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

We look younger than we feel and older than we are

I was drinking tea with Ms M this evening when another friend came in and told me how shattered I look. She's right - I checked, and I do. But I'm actually OK I think. She told me that my work was destroying me, and I paused to thoroughly prod and examine that idea, but work feels OK. Busy, unpredictable, requiring much absorption of anger and sadness and anxiety, but not MY anger and  sadness and anxiety, and I'm able to respond usefully.

Also, finding blessings in random things. It's so long since I've done that. When did I last do that?

Due at a meeting in a very remote, rural location this morning I set out with plenty of time only to get stuck in traffic for a couple of hours. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, the views were the huge fields and endless skies of the fens. People were climbing out of their vehicles to find people to chat to or to wander up the queue of traffic to see what was going on. I opened the windows and listened to radio 4, and loved the pause of it, the space and emptiness of it.

I work with a woman who makes me laugh, a lot, without really trying. She also questions and challenges in a way that is useful and satisfying - she listens! she thinks! I'm still getting to grips with how detrimental it was for me last year when I was working in that small, male, management team where I spent so many hours absorbing their circular, empty, ego driven shit. I love that there are so many women where I am now, and that we work collaboratively, taking into account the cost on ourselves of the work that we do, looking after each other.

I took photos of the moon when I came out of work tonight. The flip side of coming out into the dark after a long day, now that the days are shorter, is that sometimes you look up and there is the ghostly glow of the moon right in the middle of a huge cloud structure that seems to give off it's own light.

It seems like a long time since things like the moon and the fields have made me happy. So, I'm guessing the citalopram is working. This time I need to do it properly, which means 6 months from now, 6 months from feeling good. I find that difficult - I avoid putting mind altering substances in my body, even caffeine, even sugar, but I'll give it those 6 months, I'll give it this one winter, if that's what it takes.

The National - It Never Happened