I haven’t blogged in 11 months. I needed a break. The last two years of my life have seen a huge amount of upheaval. My marriage ended and my mum passed away. I was working on two blogs, a decluttering course, my web business and I was also being mum to the three kids. I reached a point where it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t keep it all going, it was that I just didn’t want to. I stopped caring. My quest for living with less was always about freeing up the time and space in life to achieve my goals. But then I stopped caring about my goals.
Looking back I can see that the changes I was going through were bound to throw me off course. I needed to take time out, but I’m very all or nothing. If I’m not going at something 100%, I stop completely. And so it was with life. I cut my work back to the bare minimum. I stopped blogging. I stopped everything. Just about the only thing I did do consistently was exercise – something that has kept me just about above water in the darkest days.
I went back to visit Mum’s grave at the weekend for the first time since her ashes were interred. It made me realise how long the grieving process really is and how almost two years on I am only just at the point where I can let go of the trauma of losing her so suddenly. After she died I processed everything as rapidly as I could. I sorted through her flat, her belongings, arranged the funeral, had long chats with relatives I hadn’t seen in years. I did everything that I had to do. And the same with my marriage. I made new routines, overhauled my finances, focused on the kids and how best to make sure they were happy.
I am very good in a crisis. I deal with things. But what I am not so good at is allowing myself to feel. And so what happens is those feelings build up, like a great wall of water behind a dam. And then, when you don’t expect it, the dam starts to leak or break down completely and those feelings flood your entire life. It’s something that is hard for me to recognise, even though I’ve been through this cycle before.
I’ve realised over the last few weeks that I am ready to start thinking about goals again. Not just existing, getting through each day, and making sure everything is ticking over.
I’m in the best place, mentally, I’ve been in a long time. I looked around the house today and realised that clutter, chaos and excess has crept back in over the last 11 months while I was focusing on myself and how low I felt. With three children, the influx of stuff into my life is constant. Clothes, toys, books and paperwork. We have too much here now and I spend a huge proportion of my time putting things away (or not and then feeling crappy about sitting in a big mess). I want to get back to where I was 11 months ago. Only this time I’m content on the inside.
Live And Learn
What I will say is that I have realised the value of two things over the last year:
- Exercise and its place in my life
- The importance of relationships with other people
My ‘time out’ has given me joy in two areas, so it has actually been the most worthwhile of drop-outs. Exercise, oddly, is something I have kept up to a greater or lesser degree for the entire year. I’ve stopped tracking, and measuring. I run now because I love to run. It is a genuine pleasure to go out and run and it makes me feel great, even if the weather is crappy (I even run in the rain – something I would never have done a couple of years back).
I have closer friendships now too. I know I can be emotionally distant, hot and cold. I feel insecure and proud all at the same time and letting people get to know me can feel like an exercise in fear-management. But not so much now. I care less what people think, I care more about what other people are going through, and I have stopped judging myself so harshly. And having been through the character building process of online dating I can tell you that so many people out there are fighting their own battles and we should all be kinder to each other. I would love to blog about my adventures… but I think this is not really the place. I will say however, that I have been lucky in who I have met. Maybe more about that another time.
Life With Less Is A Choice
Going forward, I don’t know if I’ll blog often or rarely. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself when life is already full to the brim. But I do know that I’m ready to start doing more than just getting through each day. My children are getting older (my youngest is now almost 4 and a half) and when she starts school in September it’ll be a new phase of life for all of us.
Living with less is a choice, and I believe it’s a choice than can benefit everyone, as well as the planet. I would really love to be able to demonstrate how paring down what I have (and do) has enabled me to achieve goals that I would have not have met otherwise. It feels good to have goals again, good to be back, and it feels good to have had the rest.