Life has shrunk down, for weeks I have been in final edit stage of my book and that has meant a pretty rigorous schedule of school run, interspersed with yoga or running, then at my laptop for hours on end. To some degree the process of doing a Masters was one I questioned a few months ago. I felt as if I had opted for a really hard route – anyone can write a book, it’s entirely within someone’s capability – but I chose to do it accompanied with a tough academic backdrop. The requirement is that I produce a first draft and critical analysis of it by next Monday. So I’m working. I sent the first three chapters to my friend Dawn – an old and trusted friend – and her feedback was so lovely it made me cry! Not because she was gushing and facile, but because she was honest and constructive and I for the first time I thought – I might actually be able to pull this off. I question why I would be wracked with self-doubt at this stage? It’s such a curious process to write a book. It dredges up stuff you haven’t thought about for years and exorcises themes you hadn’t realised you were attached to. And I’m a fairly self-aware person; note six years of navel-gazing on this blog.
So – it is all book, book, book and in amongst that we hurtle towards the end of the school year. My daughter has exams and I can feel the pressure building for next summer when she sits the ‘real’ versions. My son is struggling to keep up with his own sports schedule and my husband has been away so much that I had to stage an intervention. It’s very much feeling like a treadmill.
I pacify myself with thoughts of summer sun in Florida – where we plan to go in August. Yes, I know it’s going to be scorching but honestly, I don’t mind. I am lizard.
Now the house is more or less complete I am incredulous at the build process we went through. Now everything is covered over and lovely I can hardly recall how very ugly this house became and how much I thought we would never finish it. Now, in all of its whiteness – I even chose a white patio – I find myself getting this pious glow of happiness about it. I am so pleased its done and I am so pleased we persevered. All of my musing about how affected I am by my surroundings, I can honestly say that living in a space that is pleasing does good to my soul. As does the process of following a long-held dream to write a book.
I met with old friends for lunch this week and we discussed how far we’d come; given that we met when our kids started school. Of all of us, I have changed my life the most. When they met me I was deeply entrenched in being a career woman, I’d just gone back after my second maternity leave, I was an amped-up force in high heels. Now, I am a bohemian writer. I wear kicks all the time, I can barely walk in heels. I put yoga before most things. I kept hearing myself say ‘you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome,’ meaning that when you sit round a table of 40-something women and we all complain about life, we must make a change if we want to be having a different conversation in a years time.
Things I have learned. It’s true what they say about creativity; it releases something in you that provokes contentment. If I don’t do yoga my body hurts. If I don’t get good sleep I am gloomy the next day. It’s worth cooking a meal for the family from scratch every night; I’d say this is one of the biggest changes I’ve made. It’s gruelling, but the family meal is the cornerstone of everything for us – and for anyone who is dropping by. I love hosting friends of my kids and sitting down to a proper meal. On a weeknight. I learned that to retire completely from work is not a great idea; there’s a flaw to work like a dog then abruptly stop. Better to keep doing something but do it less. Or do it more and stop doing something else. We all make our choices.
Meanwhile our house gets, this time of year, the most crazy wisteria. Honestly I am obsessed with it for an annual two week period in May I am out there photographing it like a maniac. Prettiest thing. I learned that I am very lucky.