Archive for the tag 'goals'

Thursday is the new Friday

NS August 19th, 2010

Thursday for me is what some might call ‘Me Time’ but in reality would more accurately be called Outsourced Housework and Childcare Equals a More Patient and Fulfilled Mother Day. But that’s a mouthful so I just call it my favourite day.

On Thursday morning, my wonderful cleaner comes. I greet her as I scramble to get shoes on excitable children and herd them out to the car where I will transport them to Grandma’s house. I feel no existential feminist guilt for this. I look after two small, demanding children all day and am self-employed in two different capacities. If people can outsource their childcare in order to work, I can outsource my cleaning. Or both!

I know someone out there will be thinking I’m some kind of pampered, indulgent, stay-at-home mother who should be looking after her own children 24/7 and cleaning while her husband works hard to bring home the bacon, but to those people I say get off that sanctimony pony, make yourself a cocktail and hitch yourself a ride into the 21st century, compadre.

I do not cook. I do not sew. I do minimal cleaning. As of next month, my daughter will be in school all day and my son with either a childminder or his grandmother three days a week.

My kids probably watch too much TV. I spend too much time on the computer or with my nose in a book. I frequently say No to playing or chasing in order to do my own thing, or do the playing or chasing only until I get bored and decide it is grown-up time again, which is usually after ten minutes.

On Thursday, after I drop the children at their grandmother’s for the day and before I go home to a clean house, I spend an hour in a coffee shop drinking lattes and reading the newspaper from cover to cover. I go for a walk or a meander through the shops. Today, I put up a couple of flyers promoting my doula services.

I drive home. Alone. I sing as loudly as I want, drive faster and revel in not being asked a hundred questions from the back seat. I might stop into the shop on my way home and nearly forget not to park in the parent/child spots. I am able to get in and out in less than 10 minutes. Another Thursday miracle.

I open my front door in gleeful anticipation of clean floors and a gleaming bathroom. The air smells faintly of lemons. It is quiet. I can hear the clock ticking in the living room. Does that clock tick? I never notice unless it’s Thursday.

I look out the smudge-free window and admire the sight of washing flapping in the breeze, juxtaposed against the blue sky and emerald green grass. I turn on the radio and listen to my favourite radio program, Robert Elms on BBC London at noon, while I prepare lunch for one.

The Robert Elms show is a celebration of every aspect of this tumultuous city that we share. For three hours a day we revel in the numerous stories and characters, memories and aspirations which make this such an extraordinary place to live and work. Art and architecture, history, movies and language, shopping, drinking, dining and dancing all carried out to a soundtrack of music for grown ups.

On Thursday I do not have to cut crusts off sandwiches or put juice in cups with lids. I nibble at olives while I half-listen to the radio and daydream of all the places I’m going to see and all the things I’m going to do once I have not only one but THREE days a week in which to be alone.

Most of those days I will be working: doing my editing job; blogging (I consider my two blogs work in that it sometimes results in payment and because it keeps my writing skills sharp, which I still hope to utilise professionally one day); administrative work, research, study and preparation for my doula business; and general household stuff like taxes, banking, shopping, doctor’s appointments, DIY, gardening, etc..

But on at least one day each month, probably on Thursdays, I will catch the train into a new part of London or an area I’ve been but not properly explored, or to a place I’d like to visit. Somewhere along the way while out and about in this wonderful city of mine, I will do something nice for someone I’ve never met. It might be something simple like leaving a note or a small gift for a stranger to find, or helping a mother struggling with her pushchair on the stairs to the Underground. It might involve a bit of street art or guerilla goodness or a random act of kindness.

When out doing my history lessons/walkabouts/random acts of kindness, I will bring my camera and use it. With no children in tow, I will have time to change lenses or adjust  for the lighting and actually learn what my long-coveted pride and joy is capable of. Killing three birds on my life’s to-do list with one stone: fall in love with London, be a positive presence in the world and finally (finally!) learn the art of photography.

Thursday is definitely, and will hopefully continue to be, my favourite day. A day for me and only me. That, in turn, makes me a whole lot nicer to everyone else.

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On not settling and the wisdom of 30

NS August 1st, 2010

Something about turning 30 made me finally feel like a proper grown-up, even though I had already acquired a husband, two children, a family car and a mortgaged house in suburbia before then. How much more grown-up than that can one  get, you might ask?

But I don’t define my adulthood by my relationships with other people, how many children I have or how much stuff I own. That’s what I believed in my teens and twenties. The beauty of turning 30 is that all those preconceived notions  you had about life after 30 are immediately thrown out the window.

I thought 30 meant a settled, boring life with little room for fun or growth. I believed that if you hadn’t done your travelling, established a career, given up partying, become health conscious and gotten a foot on the property ladder by the time the 3-0 fell on you like an ax, you were doomed to lead a life of misery and/or juvenile denial, desperately trying to catch up with peers who’d had their heads screwed on straight.

Then I turned 30.

And instead of feeling resigned to my ‘fate’ and depressed at all the things I hadn’t managed to accomplish in my 20s, I was overcome with an incredible sense of determination to reach my goals. And not only would I fulfil them, I would do them well and joyfully, I promised myself.

I never listed those goals here (though I did talk about some of them individually here and there) because I needed time to work out exactly what it is I feel missing in my life, what I want to accomplish and what matters most to me. Slowly, over the course of the past year or so, I’ve been making a mental list and adding and taking things away until I have before me the opportunity to make myself happy. Make myself happy, not waiting for someone or something to fall into my lap or chasing dreams that are someone else’s, what society says I should be aspiring to.

Learning that lesson, not ‘settling’ or what you’ve already got, is what being 30 is all about, I think. If our 20s are for growing and experiencing, our 30s are for finally learning the lessons we glossed over in our haste to beat the clock. What I didn’t know then was that I had set that clock against myself.

Finally realising that I could turn the whole damn thing off, that I didn’t have to keep hitting snooze and sleep-walk through the rest of my life, is the best gift that being a 30-something has given me. I can only imagine how much more I will learn as I progress through this decade.

So now, I am working my way through my new goals and finding the most amazing sense of self as I tick one item after another off my list, or plan and work towards the day I can.

  • Become a runner and complete at least one race
  • Repair and strengthen my marriage
  • Rediscover and appreciate music
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Become successfully self-employed
  • Explore the fantastic city I live in
  • Make people smile with random acts of kindness
  • Fight for a cause I truly believe in
  • Learn the art of photography
  • Read at least a few pages of a (paper) book every day
  • Control my reactions to things  I cannot control
  • Enjoy my children and live in the moment
  • Write for the sake of writing, as and when I want to
  • Learn to be unafraid of what others may think of me

I’ve already completed some of the things on this list and have plans in place to complete the others. Some are works in progress that will be ongoing, not items I can ever tick completely off my list. These are not things I want to do, but rather processes and learning experiences for who I want to be.

I’ll never settle for anything less again.

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Tiring of aspiring

NS April 3rd, 2010

By now I thought I’d be a writer. A ‘real’ one with a regular byline or a book jacket, my name in ink stamped upon the printed page. So far, the name that has gotten me the furthest, the closest to my dream, is not my own but this one — Noble Savage.

It’s a great name, isn’t it? I read it or say it and I feel more confident. Noble — grand. Savage — grrr! It makes me feel smart and unique and clever. But it’s not me, it’s the spinner of this particular tangle of web here in cyberspace. As Noble Savage, I can tell you my darkest secrets,  sweetest moments, most haunted memories and things that make me laugh until my atrophied stomach muscles collapse into puddles of quivering mirth. I can write off the cuff with little self-censorship and press publish before a clearer head, a red pen or a no-nonsense editor can tear chunks out of the sometimes nonsensical and emotionally-overladen projectus that spews forth from my brain, dribbles down onto my keyboard and then out onto the information superhighway. This freedom of self-expression can be a gift but perhaps it’s also a bit of a curse.

Am I actually bettering my writing by blogging or am I, without any structure or professional feedback, actually distancing myself from my dream of being published? Does blogging make me a lazy writer? Should I be taking my ideas for posts, all those raw emotions, and pour them into the articles, essays and book proposals that swirl around my head at any given moment, or am I selling blogging short as a real avenue for creative and professional fulfilment? Maybe being a middlin’, indecipherable and often-times apathetic member of the blogging community is as far as I’m going to get. And maybe I should stop fighting that and just accept it.

After all, blogging is New Media. It’s the wave of the future! It’s what everyone wants a piece of, right? Except that very few bloggers actually ‘make it’ so I’ve never really taken it too seriously. But is getting published any easier? Is standing out from the crowd clamoring to get their names in ink any different, less competitive or easier to crack than the elusive blog success story most of us secretly dream of from time to time?

I know this is all going to sound really self-pitying and melodramatic; I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to sort the wheat from the chaff and which bits of my words are me and which bits are Noble Savage and whether either have any hope of success. Am I a blogger or a writer in the more traditional sense? Can I be both or does one always have to be done well to the detriment of the other?

For those of  you looking to become published authors or journalists (or who already are), how do you balance your professional aspirations with your blogging? Do you think they complement each other or do they compete for your attention?

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