The Lost Days of Summer

Apparently it’s Wednesday. My phone says so. Which means that unless there has been some international data breakdown, I assume this is right. It’s week 1 of the kid’s summer holiday and I already lost track of days. I am trying not to be disturbed by this but I admit to failing.

It is odd really, because at Christmas I do really enjoy the loosing track of days, when each day becomes just like the other filled with food and family and board games and reading by the fire. In the summer though, I have stuff to do. Deadlines to keep, so losing track of the days makes me anxious, because what if I forget to deliver that job or reply to that email? What then?

It’s great for the 11 year old, though. I remember summers as a kid, the days seemingly stretch out in front of you forever. Possibilities of what I could do every single day, I miss that boredom, miss hanging out at the lido, miss riding my bike everywhere, reading without interruption. And then at the end of the summer, I looked forward to going back to school (yes, I was that kid) and having a bit of a routine again, but while it lasted, I loved every minute of it.

Now, I am grateful that I work from home, I am grateful for it every single day. Yet, I admit that summers change my routine of “kid is at school, time to work”. It’s 6 am. I have already been at the computer for more than an hour doing some admin stuff for my work. Planning what I need to do today. I am quickly typing these thoughts down and then roughly at 6.15, I will start my work day. The work day is fractured with time spend with my kid, because a) goodness knows how much longer she wants to hang out with me b) I like spending time with her and c) I am easily distracted when she is around anyway.

I am often faced with people that tell me that this sort of working cannot be productive. Or that, because I work this way during school holidays, means that what I do is not real work. Years ago, that really bothered me. Now, I just smile. The amazing thing I have learnt is that these fractured days are mostly super productive in terms of work. The work load gets done. I am happy, too, because I get to do stuff with that human I have created. And then when I sit down, my brain just seems to slot into whatever job I am working on. And every year, I think: Look at this, you work well this way, why not incorporate it into your life when September comes, get up early, do some work, then after lunch when you are tired, you can snooze for 30 minutes. Yet, every single year, as soon as September comes, I return back to the way of working that society seems to find acceptable: Sit down at the computer and work for a solid 6-7 hour block. Push through that tiredness, forget about going for a walk, forget about taking care of yourself, that is for those hours outside of the work block.

I have plans to push through this conditioning this year and have put reminders in my google calendar that say: Remember summer, remember all the work got done and you still had fun.

And now, some coffee and work. It’s 6.10.

Self-care thoughts – Humpday Musings

At the moment, it feels like that wherever I go, I’m bombarded with marketing that tells me if I only buy this product, I am going to feel well. That by buying this, I will look after myself and feel happier. Treat yo’self, woman.

I wonder how long this has been going on and why this year in particular, I can see it everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like to have a soak in the bathtub in something lovely – though I hate bathbombs – but I do know that it’s not the bath foam that makes me feel good but the actual break I take being in the tub. Allowing myself 15 minutes to just chill. No phones, no social media, no work, no housework, no demands on my person. I even lock the cats out from the bathroom.

I have been thinking lots about self-care recently (hence, why I most likely see it everywhere, it’s called confirmation bias) and what that actually really means. Winter has been taking its toll on me and as I found out yesterday, my Vitamin D levels are once again really, really low. I am not sure, why I have not cottoned on earlier, after all, that happens a lot and I am also not sure why I don’t simply start taking Vitamin D as soon as the autumn equinox is done and dusted. This winter has just been so dark, so cold and so wet, that it’s no wonder that the levels need support (in the form of a Vitamin D3 supplement taken with some good fat – not a doctor, but that’s how I am told to take it). I know that within a week, heck even within days, I will feel so much better. I even felt a lot better just being outside on a mostly, sunny day last Saturday. But yeah, I have been neglecting self-care here.

I am pretty good at prioritizing something that is important to me and that I class as self-care: Reading. Wherever you look, taking time with a book is often classed as one of the key things you can do to relax and to look after yourself. I got that down to perfection as I practice this everyday. I even leave the phone in another room.

Other things, I am a constant work in progress: Asking for help, when I need it, for example. I am so terrible at that. Most women are. Maybe men, too. Getting enough sleep is another, I go to bed early, but I am often up at 4 am, but I hope that the Vitamin D will help with that. Just sit down and do nothing, not even reading a book; I have this odd thing that I always feel the need to something, if I don’t I think I am lazy. Hence why the baths are so important, yet, I often listen to an audiobook while in the tub, so I guess that’s slightly counter productive (yeah, always thinking of productivity, so hard to stop). So I sit down to meditate (I consider that doing, despite it being important), I sit down to read (important) but I hardly ever sit down to just be. You know daydream, stare out of the window and be a bit bored. I miss being a bit bored, my days are so full, that I rarely am bored, but at times I think it’s a good thing, because creativity will come out to play when I am a bit bored.

Self-care is important, it’s a luxury in itself to live in a place where you can sit down in a warm house with a good book and read and feel safe and be healthy (enough). Proper luxury, yet, business tells us, that it’s not a simple thing to do. That we must spend money to feel better about ourselves, download an app (that costs money and forces us to spend more time on our phones), spend money on going to places to experience self-care. I am really concerned about this, because: Are we really losing our ability to just be? Isn’t that a crucial bit that makes us human?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this? Am I alone in my concerns? How do you look after yourself? Or do you even?

Menopausal Mysteries – Humpday Musings

Considering that approx. half the world are women, it is quite fascinating how little we talk about all the mysteries that concern women and their bodies.

It starts with periods and you think that would be better now than 40 years ago, but sadly it is not. I overheard my daughter and her friend talking about the impending “doom” recently and my daughter’s friend said: “It’s like having a giant wound inside you.” Erm, no. Before I could chip, thankfully my daughter cleared up the matter.

Now, that I am nearing the end of my cycles, I fully admit that I am not going to miss them. I was never one to embrace the monthly bane of my life, for it was marred with too much pain and sickness, so there is a huge part of me that is a bit “good riddance” for the time when I am through this current phase.

I am currently perimenopausal which is the term used for the period that leads up to the menopause, also the period during which you will have most of those symptoms, you know hot flashes, irritability, loss of sleep etc. etc.

What gets me is not so much the fact that there is so much conflicting information about this available, after all just look at the different diets, some praise low fat as the answer, others call it the devil’s invention. No, what gets to me is that women talk so little about it. I mean why aren’t there “Perimenopausal Clubs”, like a bookclub but you can talk to other women about how you feel and feel less alone and less crazy. Even among friends, we barely touch on it. Occasionally, we recommend a supplement or moan about a sleepless night, but we don’t look into the abyss with each other.

I wonder why that is and if it was ever any different. Probably not because most women would have died before they even got too far into their perimenopause let alone get to the menopause.

All the books, I have read either annoy me or confuse me. The annoyance can range from “if you are a spiritual sound person, you will fly through the menopause” to “just deal with it” (but how, how, how?) and the confusion is that one book will claim this diet will heal you, yet another condemns that diet.

I guess the simple reality is that there is no clear answer, no clear path, not one common experience, just loads of experiences that are kinda similar and mostly, us women just find ourselves alone in the wilderness navigating this change. It’s a miracle that most of us come out the other end without having lost our marbles completely. If you can count 1 or 2 people amongst your friends who totally get it, then you are a lucky, lucky individual indeed.

I am sorry if you came to get some insights or answers, there are none here. I am still searching, unravelling the mystery for myself, trying to listen to my body and my mind. Some days, it feels really hard to keep it together, those days are thankfully not all that many at the moment, but they are there and I try to embrace them with as much kindness for myself as I can muster. “Here,” I say, “Melanie, be kind, have a hot bath, a cup of tea, read your book, go for a walk. It’s one of those days, you know them and if you fight them, you only harm yourself.” Some days, I accept those words, others, I will fight it with teeth clenched and fists raised and achieve nothing other than a form of exhaustion that is completely new to me.

The cycles – while they are still here – are hell. There is no other word for it. This time was never easy for me right from the beginning, but now, I am mostly just in a heap somewhere, a little bundle of misery and pain.

So no insights. No words of wisdom of what you can do. Just me, waving my hands, saying: “I get it, I got it, me too, it sucks, it will pass and here is a piece of chocolate.”

Happy Humpday