There is a quote by Justine Musk: “Reading is the inhale, and writing is the exhale”. It spoke to me, particularly at this point in my life: Knee deep in the “working mum with toddler” stage. At the moment I’m shallow breathing it through each day; not taking full breaths in, and breathing out only to the extent that my lungs don’t explode. The last time I remembered to practice mindfulness and put myself and all my senses in “the moment” I was unfortunately in the midst of a blueberry induced nappy explosion, and I skedaddled back on out of that moment before my brain could fully catch up with my nose. Suffice to say, as the cliché goes, the past 18 months have been “the most challenging and rewarding time of my life”. How many times have we heard that one!
I am definitely an introverted person. I’m not really shy, and I do enjoy (most) people. Sometimes people say that they think I am an extrovert (some of this might be due to learned behaviour through my job as a clinical psychologist). But as introverts do, I draw my energy from within myself (where extroverts gain their energy from being around other people), and I feel tapped out when I’m around other people too much. A night out at a birthday party for example, gets to be too much quite quickly for me, and I will often seek refuge and retreat to the comfort of my home, my dogs and my TV before the cake is even cut.
People are exhausting for me! And for some reason I didn’t think about this beforehand, but do you know little people are people too?! I’ve been blessed (and cursed hah!) with an amazing firecracker of a kid with a strong will, adventurous spirit, boundless energy and an amazing, social temperament. He relies on me for everything (as he should!) and I haven’t had any “me” time since he came along 18 months ago and caught us on the hop 5 weeks early, just busting for his next adventure of “life on the outside”. To be honest, I feel so selfish even writing the words complaining that “I haven’t had any me time” – cos he is a gift, absolutely, and I couldn’t be happier or more in love – but I am keeping it in here, because it is true, and it’s really hard sometimes. And I’m writing a blog to process stuff and “exhale” if you will, so I might as well be real with it, or what’s the point?
On top of being a parent, I didn’t follow my 12-year-old self’s literary heroin Cathy Earnshaw’s advice to marry rich (Hi honey!! Love you!) so I also have to WORK, can you believe it?! Hah. As I said earlier I’m a clinical psychologist and I do love my job, and find a lot of meaning and identity in it. But it is obviously very people oriented, and with a few hours of toddler chaos in the morning before work (he is an EARLY riser), and a few hours of hubby and toddler after work before collapsing into bed, there is little time to decompress and recharge, particularly for an introverted person who needs that time alone. I’ve been finding myself becoming irritable, stressed out, and am beginning to notice familiar and uncomfortable signs of anxiety like hair pulling, biting nails, stress eating (I’ve put on 8kg in the past two months, hellloooo!), and going back and forth between not sitting still for a second and sitting frozen like a lump not being able to comprehend moving, scrolling through facebook to make it seem less alarming. My mind is racing a mile a minute most of the time and I don’t know why we aren’t made with an “off” button or at the very least a “sleep” mode. Something has to give! That’s where the above quote with the inhaling and exhaling business comes into it.
BT (Before Toddler) I used to live with my head stuck in a book; I was drawn to books, to bookshops and to libraries like a magnet, and I’ve lived a thousand happy lives in between those magical dust covers. I lose time, feel connected to the world and gain that elusive sense of “flow” that earnest hipsters, creative types and mindfulness people talk about.
So, here begins my challenge to myself to begin to inhale again, by taking some time out to recharge every day. That will hopefully include a lot of reading and writing, among other things! And I am going to take time to properly exhale too; lest my inhalations become another chore on my to-do list. I am going to process life as it happens, IRL and on this blog, mostly for myself but you are invited along, and I hold the hope that that might keep me accountable to continue! I might write about books, psychology, working, parenting, trying to be healthy, annoying things people do; anything that pops up in my life and is on my mind, probably.
Well, thank-you very much for reading this far (I’m assuming “you” probably consists of hubby, mum and maybe dad if mum shows him) and I hope to be writing again soon!
PS: Please forgive the inevitable typos, its 10:39pm and I haven’t stayed up this late in over a year! I’ll sleep well tonight!