The wood AND the trees

I have been in a persistent funk lately. Since Easter really. It’s a bloody long time.

I’ve been functioning. I’ve read. I’ve written some stuff but I have had this weight around my neck. What I haven’t felt is really happy. Momentarily I’ve lightened up and laughed. I know, it shocked me too. As for sustained joy to the world, not more than a few minutes at a time. Even things I really enjoyed, I’ve just been meh about. My Klout score have plummeted, as I, gasp, even had some downtime from twitter. Why am I telling you this?

It has been a reminder to me, that I can’t do it all. I’ve written about this before and here and here. The pressure to be a great mother, good housekeeper and home manager, work too and then in my spare time (ha!) write, so my mind doesn’t desert me; it is too much. Not the doing of it, for which I have a seemingly endless capacity. It’s the internal dialogue which keeps telling me I can do better, do more, get more organised, have a tidier house, be a better partner, mother, step-mother, worker, writer. God it just goes on and on and on. It is literally a pain in the neck. My neck aches with the stress of it. My osteopath is young. She puts up with fixing the same bit of me over and over. I suspect in 10 years time, she will have clients like me and just deliver them a good slap.

Yesterday, the lovely man persuaded me to go out for a walk round the lake. It was pretty cold. Walking over the Kings Avenue bridge on the way back, the wind just bore a hole through one ear and out the other. We talked about things. He is convinced we are on the up. He outlined all the rational reasons why this is so. In spite of it being cold, at least we were out as a family for a while, which can be tough in the middle of winter in Canberra. I listened in between wishing I had a hoodie on and the hood up firmly around my ears.

I dedicated today to seeing both the wood AND the trees. It is called No Jobs, Fun Monday. It is a simple idea, naturally I stole it from other mamas on twitter. Don’t do any jobs, no lists, minimal grind to keep body and soul together. Other than that just be. Toddler and I went to the National Gallery. It was raining so the romp in the sculpture garden was out of the question, since I still haven’t bought the bloody gumboots (other story). But we had fun inside. We made our way through the mysterious ‘Within without’ by James Turrell. It is nice way to enter the gallery by going once round his piece first. Then in we went, a quick tour of the abstract and minimalist works and up to the members lounge. It faces out to the lake. It is quiet on a Monday, and is a sun trap. Perfectly behaved toddler (bless his little cotton socks) read his book, played with his new magnetic blocks and ate his biscuit. I had a coffee, felt warm and stared out the huge floor to ceiling windows.

After a second cup of coffee, and a quick trip to see L’Oiseau dans l’espace [Bird in space] which is still one of my favourites, with C.O.Y.O.T.E by Louise Bourgeois, we were out in the cold damp air again. Once past the fountain out the front so Toddler could run his hand through the water and off we went.

There is probably a sound psychological principle behind these activities. It is something about changing your environment radically to enable thought patterns to change. Today, I let someone else make the coffee, enjoyed someone else wiping the table and picking up the bits of discarded Sao. I provided my child with interesting things to look at, to smell, touch and hear. It was a morning well spent.