Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Holding the fort

This is how Z described it while she's on Granny duties. In truth it's more a cross between baby-sitting and crowd control.

I've been tasked with looking after the chickens and the tots (Anastasia and Natasha - Russian Tortoises).

While the tots are content with basking in the glow of their heat lamp, eating copious amounts of lambs lettuce and swilling vodka doing their traditional Russian dancing, the chickens are another matter completely.

They lulled me into a false sense of security. Sunday evening they milled about the chicken pen innocently, pecking at the ground; they ate their dinner and went to bed without any bother. Yesterday morning however, they put their plans into action. I greeted them as normal, "Morning ladies." They ignored me and huddled together. I opened the door and a little black hen made a break for it.

Okay, I thought. I'll deal with you in a bit. I've looked after small children, I know how to prioritise my battles. The others merely watched as I filled their grain bowls, gave them a couple of bananas and some bread. Meanwhile, the little black hen taunted me from outside.

Fine, I thought. I'll deal with you now. I opened the door to go out.

The chickens rushed me en masse. They squeezed in between my legs and the door and that was that; they were out and free as, well, birds. They taunted me. It's true as God is my witness. They taunted me. 

I've looked after small children, I know how to prioritise my battles. 

I left them to it. They spent the day, scratching and pecking outside. I popped my head up every now and then to make sure they were alright. They were. In fact, it was wonderful to see them wandering around, scratching under hedges, squabbling over stuff. A lady pheasant even joined them for awhile. The cockerel is full of himself, as you'd expect. He struts around, looking all important trying to boss the hens. He doesn't take it too badly that they mostly ignore him. 

Late in the afternoon, I knew it was time to prepare for battle. After all, I've looked after small children, I know when I've got a battle on my hands. I girded my loins.

If you come across the little known fact that chickens are direct descendants of dinosaurs...believe it. It's totally true. Steven Spielberg knew what he was on about. The little buggers. I ended up having to herd them in several batches. 

When I got to the pen, there were some who decided it was getting close to bedtime and why the hell was I late with dinner? Then there was the majority of the group who wanted me to work a bit; to make it clear that they were only coming in because my antics had amused them enough and they felt sorry for me. Plus, they fancied a bit of bread before bed.

Then there was the cockerel and two of his co-conspirators. They'd decided to do a Peter Rabbit and see if Z had planted anything worth eating in greenhouse. Thankfully, they were a few weeks early. As far as I could make out, only God knows how they got into the walled garden, because when it came to it, the chickens sure as hell wouldn't get out the same way.

In the end, I had to herd the three chickens, one at a time back into the pen. Each calling me names under their breath as I waved my arms about. If it wouldn't have been for the fact there's been a fox that's been thinning the flock, I'd have been tempted to let them stay out. I was supposed to be in Norwich to meet up with a friend, I apologised profusely for being late.

I suppose as excuses go, "I was herding chickens" was at least different.

I learnt my lesson. This morning I just let them straight out. We all pretended that was what I wanted to do in the first place.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Showing Up

This has not been the best weeks I've ever had. The euphoria of being free to pursue my creative and caring impulses has died down to be replaced with: Oh My Gods - what was I thinking? Closely followed by: I Can't Do This; and the ever-helpful: I Am Not Worthy of my Dreams. The job stacking shelves at Tesco when I'm 80, because I don't have a pension, has been calling me and 2, 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. I won't lie, I think I cried my way through half a box of tissues yesterday.

I picked up the Big Girl Pants and put them away. I gave myself permission to be scared, fearful, doubtful and terrified. I sat with them and then when the time came, I went out and got good nails and fabulous eyebrows. Because if I'm going to fall apart, then at least let me have two bloody eyebrows!

Today, hasn't happened very quickly. It's taken me all morning to do my workout, get clean and dressed. I've cleaned my hearth, hauled my wood and coal and built my fire. In the spirit of great procrastination, I made myself a massive lunch and as I ate I watched this:

Elizabeth Gilbert is my latest guru-crush. There's a lot about her that I adore: her humour, her courage and she talks sense to me. But in this TED talk she really nails it down, why I've been struggling so hard and for so many years about my creativity.

It has now been 7 years since I graduated with my BA in Creative Writing. I've had my hands full in this time. It has to be said that since then, my life has not been all shitz and gigglez as the kidz do say. However, what hasn't helped is my self-sabotage. I have been afraid of committing myself to my creative process. I hid behind an office job, my wish to economically sustainable and basically pretended that my creative process and longing didn't matter. I tried being "sensible". 

All that is changing. Today, I am still sharing my space with my doubts, but I've peeled them off me and told them to go sit in the corner and to be quiet.

I am showing up. 

It's like this Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to write genre fiction. I want to write paranormal romances with elves, wizards, vampires, witches and werewolves. I want to write about kick-ass women and the adoring men with whom they live happily ever after. I want to write the books people read to unwind after their days working, the kind of books that get dropped in the bath, taken on holiday, loaned to friends and never returned.

There you go. That's what I want and I am owning that now. My goal is to write for Harlequin Nocturne and then to have my own series published independently. 

I'm letting go the idea of writing "proper" fiction. I'm always going to go to the Voewood Literary Festival as a gawping attendee. I'm letting go the idea that people will have heard of me and that they'll have read my work and liked what they read. It's a hard one to release, but I'm going to have to set it free because it isn't my dream and it's not who I am. I may yet indulge my literary fantasy, as I don't really have any pensionable options, I may yet write that Pulitzer prizewinner when I'm 80. In the meantime, I will be having fun.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Hello February

When January began, I had everything all planned out. I wrote in my diary the time table for getting fit. I planned out my first novel and wrote down when it would be completed. I was waiting eagerly for the start of my Introduction to Counselling course. I was exceptionally nervous and full of doubts, but ready to go for it.

And then I went back to work at the office.

I've been at Insight for over 4 years. It is the longest I've ever worked anywhere. Ever. It's been absolutely brilliant. No two days have ever been the same and the people are brilliant (if slightly bonkers, which is probably why I got on there so well).

After the first couple of weeks and the start of my counselling course, I realised it was time. Those two weeks I was distracted and grumpy and tired because my heart wasn't in my work. Neither was my head. The counselling was course was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

I took stock of everything I want to do this year and where I want to be at the end of it. I realised there was only one thing for it: I had to go for it. 

I have to put my energy 100% behind the training and the professional development that will put me on the path to becoming a fully qualified counsellor. I have to put my energy 100% behind the three creative projects that have been rumbling around my head for years, to move them from my imagination and into the world. 

A couple of weeks ago I handed in my notice. Last Thursday was my last day. In between me handing in my notice and my leaving working, I hardly slept. During the day, I've been focused on making sure I left work in as tidy a fashion as I could. But at night...well, that's when everything hiding in the crevasses all day, came out to play. Plans, hopes, fears. Everything.

I only started sleeping properly again a couple of nights ago...

The last few days have been busy as well. There's the small matter of my tax return that needed to be filled in. And then, there was my Yuletide present from Dave...a gin making afternoon at the Adnams Distillery in Southwold.

But that's a blog post for another day...

In the meantime, I've be rearranging my working space. Dave being his usual lovely self, gave me a new desk. I'm now working in my front room as it's more comfortable. My study space is now being turned into my exercise area. I've got a lot of catching up to do. I'm more than aware that if I am to achieve everything I hope I can this year, I've got to be healthy and well. 

I am going to be 45 this year. The clock is a-ticking. There is no "safe" choice in life. Everything comes with a price and safety is the most expensive choice of all; one, I have never been very good at paying. It may make my life look a bit bizarre and haphazard from the outside, but I can't face the slow, living death of un-fulfilled dreams. Far better to take the leap into the unknown and face the consequences.

Waiting for Paint to Dry

Yesterday evening, I thought I'd finished the triptych. I kicked back, drank a glass of raspberry beer and contemplated my work. As I co...