Hello lovelies? Did you miss me? Are you ready for me to spill my brain on to this polka dotty virtual page all over again?
Here I am, back in the land of the living, or more specifically back carousing the hallowed aisles of the world wide web, notable because ten minutes on-line and I am already experiencing the kind of information overloaded fuzzies I get when I find myself faced with long lists of scrumptiousness I cannot wait to share, news I need to digest, apps I want apply, mags I want to read and books I want to download…
From the mouths of babes…
Last week Finley and I went on a date to Cafe Rouge, ( a restaurant chain that will happily serve Finley a gluten free meal of cheesy omelette, peas and chips followed by jelly and ice cream, unaccompanied by the kind of fuss oft to be found in many a restaurant who will frequently assure me, when I make enquiries about a meal for a celiac kid, that their menu is “nut free”. Rah!), and never was there a more convivial dinner companion.
There he sat looking handsome in a long sleeved white t-shirt and dark denim jeans, re-arranging the cutlery and listing one by one, the qualities and attributes of each child in his class. And I sat and agreed that Ben was hilarious and Hannah can do good hand stands, and Alfie surely doesn’t eat much, and then we got to Rachel, and he looked me straight in the eye and said “Rachel is special Mum”
“Why Sweetheart?” I asked, knowing as I did, that we were talking about a gorgeous little girl with almost genius levels of academic capability.
“The thing is Mum, you probably think she’s really, really clever. But it isn’t that at all.”
No? Then what is, pray tell, my pint sized little sage?
“Focus, Mummy. That’s what makes Rachel special. She’s completely focused. She doesn’t notice all the noise in the classroom. She just concentrates really, really hard and doesn’t care about what everybody else is doing. She wants to learn, so that’s all she does.”
Oh dear. That’s where I’ve been going wrong, this past thirty eight years. And don’t I just know it.
I’ve learnt a lot this week. About myself. About why my way of life is causing me endless gyp. About why I feel constantly exhausted. And about why now, having recovered from the yukky abcess and sudden deafness I had last week I have now developed a stinking cold and a spiky cough and writing this post finds me, sitting at nine o’clock in the morning, curled up under my duvet with a hot toddy by my side…
And it all comes down to one thing: FOCUS. I haven’t got any. When my maker was sewing me together he forgot to stuff the focus gene under my skin and instead gave me extra helpings of infinite curiosity and the attention span of a gnat.
Isn’t it a bore?
You see when we flit from pillar to post, touching base, but never really achieving anything, we fail ourselves. When we move around every room in the house, picking this up and dropping it there, wiping a careless hand through the dust and occasionally giving our all to cleaning windows that look in on a house knee deep in neglect, we fail ourselves. When we list thirty things we want or hope to do, and then move on to do something else entirely without ticking off a single one of our deeply felt ambitions, we fail ourselves. When we eat another mindless “meal” of beans on toast because we can’t summon the energy to cook anything more inspiring, Darling, we fail ourselves all over again.
We deprive ourselves of creative opportunity and we exist in a state of the kind of permanent mindlessness that spends far too much time flitting about and smacking our fuzzy little head against the light bulb like a demented, dying moth.
God love us.
We never reach our potential because the journey from A to B takes a detour around the rest of the alphabet.
Where I’m at…
The thing is this: people change. They grow and they develop. Realisation washes over them and ennui with long term fascinations sets in. How then are we to have FOCUS if we are always shifting the goal posts further down the pitch?
I don’t know. I’m just like you and I don’t have the answer. But what I do know is this: if we get to thirty eight and we are barely achieving anything by our own standards, then it is time to focus on a whole new path. It must, in the whole scheme of things, be ok to say, I cannot FOCUS on that, because truth be told, it no longer interests me. I cannot be a great housekeeper, if this house no longer inspires me. I cannot create culinary wonders in the kitchen if routine has it that the supermarket delivers the same old ingredients week in, week out.
It must be ok to say I have reached the end of the road and now I have to take a new path if I am to be inspired enough to have FOCUS.
But where to begin?
We can begin by hushing both noise and obligation. By taking, at least in the short term, the pressure off the need to create and instead spend many an hour lolling about deciding what it is we want to create, and optimising the circumstances we currently exist in, to the degree that they won’t hamper us when we are finally in a position to commit our creative minds to a single task.
For me this means re-assessing my work-life balance. Ceasing promising what I cannot deliver. Seeing out existing commitments and then focusing all my creative energy on identifying what it is I want to learn. What it is I want to be consumed by, now that I am now not who I was ten years ago, five years ago or even last week. Now that I am older. Wiser. Different.
And as always once we have done the internal work that is recognising the need for change, serendipity steps in and starts presenting us with all that we need to move forward.
Last week I switched off the computer and read and read and read. I read a list of old novels I had been aching to read and then I spent a few days reading the kind of books and downloads that asked more of me: books that said here is who you are today, and here, my sweet, is who you could be tomorrow…
1. First up, The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel. Rare is it that I read a book that strikes me as transformative. But this one has been it. A years worth of occasionally daft but always joyful inspiration from a man with a soothing, conversational style I immediately believed in.
2. Focus, by Leo Babutua. Because in my eyes Leo Babutua can do no wrong and this is an astonishing (free) manifesto for the kind of change that can only be brought about by seeking simplicity in the age of distraction. Read and learn.
3. And finally, Simple Blogging by Rachel Meeks, which is the first e-book I have devoured wholly, certain in the knowledge that it speaks to me as a Mummy, a blogger, and a woman with quiet ambitions all of her own.
The future of BrocanteHome?
Who knows? What is certain is that I remain committed to Brocante because it is my second child, and thus I am utterly responsible for nurturing it to it’s potential. However I am not who I used to be. Only recently have I acknowledged to what degree my personal interests and development as an emotional and intellectual being shape what it is I want to write. Not the scrumptious trivia I will always deliver, because Brocante is above all else a scrapbook of all that makes my heart sing, but that which I want to teach. All that I want to learn. That upon which I truly yearn to FOCUS on, while still living a life that satisfies me creatively and doesn’t alienate my lovely, loyal audience.
It’s a conundrum. But what this week has taught me is that it is absolutely right to take stock occasionally, and that the first step on the route to FOCUS is slowing down and breathing long and hard. Long enough to recognise what it is you don’t miss. To identify that which strikes you as unsustainable or untenable and to embrace all that you want your future to be shaped by.
Today I am going to be doing one of the first exercises in Eric Maisel’s book: creating my personal bookshelves full of what interests me now. There’s no hurry. I’ve got all day to do it. Just me, my books and a china cup full of white tea.
Patience, m’dears. This is, I suspect, what I need right now. Patience.
Won’t you come play with me?