Well this is nice. It’s 8.30am. I’m in a coffee shop, post gym, using the 90 minutes I have between the end of the changing room kerfuffle and the start of my working day to bask in the glow of having hauled myself out of bed early to do good things for my body and my mind.
This part of my not-every-morning-but-some-mornings ritual is my favourite. I feel good, my mind is alive, I’m ready for the day and my brain is buzzing with so many words and thoughts and ideas it’s hard to make sense of them before they spill out of the tips of my fingers. It is my time, for me only, before I have to answer to anyone else. I get to read, and I get to write. My very favouritest of things. There is just one small problem that has, for some months, prevented me from getting here, to this place, in this moment, that I love so much.
I work in whirlwinds, that’s no secret. I’m slightly haphazard, 100mph, fireworks and chaos and a cheery zest that only gets temporarily suspended when no one gets up to offer their seat to the pregnant lady on the tube. But for the most part, this passionate commotion of my life WORKS, and somehow I manage – apparently – to pull enough of my shit off. With a smile on my face. Haphazardly, hurriedly and only slightly frantically navigating work, home, relationship, cherished friends, social life, family, diabetes, gym, blogging, cruel mistress London, the news, world affairs, not being in my overdraft three days after payday, the Internet. In varying orders, and to varying degrees.
Despite operating in this way for many years, over the past couple of months I’ve felt myself… slipping. All these pieces of my cobbled-together-but-somehow-functioning machine started jarring, fragmenting and pulling me apart. The resulting (or causal?) restless sleep meant the gym alarm was cancelled, and this cherished coffee shop writing time became but a hazy memory. Evenings were spent wiped out on the sofa, work was not entered into with any kind of energy, my usual irritatingly positive spirit was wavering, and my beloved blog started to feel like a chore. The cogs weren’t turning. Intentions to do everything were there; explosive beginnings, exciting plans, endless Evernote notes, email notes, Notepad notes, and actual pen and paper notebook notes, reading, mindful intentions and at times a serious talking to in my own head… but real-life, consequential actions?
Thoughts were just thoughts, and confused ones at that. I was doing and living and ‘fine’, but I was just passing through. And fine is a shit word anyway; barely even a feeling. Existing and wondering what it’s all for. Restless. Discontented. Despondent. Slow. Not taking time to stop and delight in the details: the simpler things, the gloriousness of moments, viewing the beautiful world as an endless and ever-evolving love story –which is so entirely cheesy and elevated and a little woo woo, but, you see, there’s nothing I can do about that because it really is just who I am.
The blog was the thing that did it. This area of mine, that I nurture and caress and obsess over and adore – and you guys who blow my mind every time you choose to return here, and make it such an entirely wonderful and cherished space to be in. Feeling on the verge of something really awesome and relevant, and yet wanting to disappear from it entirely? This writing thing, these words that I have always loved so much?
I knew something had to give.
Living with type 1 takes a lot of energy, relentlessly. Contextualising it and writing about it in a way that people can relate to without alienating anyone or treading on toes or giving the wrong advice, more so. Preaching without practice made me feel like I shouldn’t be preaching at all. And usually it is the type 1 that demands your attention and makes you slow down. This time, the type 1 was the only thing that really remained constant. It was just a background hum. My hBa1c results next week may well tell me otherwise, however.
So was I failing? No, dear reader. Not once did I ever think I was failing. I was stumbling, that much I knew, but being aware of that and doing something about it is as far from failure as I believe you can get. I acknowledged that it was temporary, but I also acknowledged that it was real. It made me stop, and just take a breath. Remind myself what it is that I cherish the most, and what I was giving too much of myself to with no valuable return. Because, as I continually profess, you must do what makes you happy, and makes you feel authentic, and comfortable and at peace when you go to sleep at night (there it is – the woo woo).
The easiest thing I could do here was stop filling my mind with other people’s noise, that at that time was either confusing me or making me feel less accomplished. When you’re in a good place, other people’s stuff builds you up, makes you think, helps you learn and grow. But I didn’t want to be absorbing other people’s thoughts while I tried to make sense of my own. I didn’t need to know how big Kim Kardashian’s baby bump was, or how many books other people were publishing, or how other members of the Diabetes Online Community were being asked to speak as an authority at this conference and that event while I wondered if everything I was speaking about and putting out there was actually nonsense. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Be assured that this is no reflection on anyone else – I knew that the problem here was my own discontent. Normally I’m front row and centre with a foam finger and pompoms, shrieking loudly with encouragement and supportive joy. Because normally, I’m content with myself and my thing. My groove that I’ve carved, that involves writing in coffee shops at 8.30am.
So email push was turned off. Twitter was closed, with the exception of work. I kept Instagram alive to keep a photographic record of the things I was doing, a snapshot in time that consistently helped remind me how wonderful my life is, along with everyone in it who has chosen me as much as I have chosen them. You see, I really like liking myself. You’re not supposed to say that, are you? But why? It’s wholly clear to me that my life has been the most fulfilled, the most delightful, the most glorious, when I’ve felt fulfilled, delightful and glorious about myself. When I haven’t chastised or berated myself for having bad blood sugars, or a less-than-taut tummy, or not being a millionaire, or not keeping my shit together at all.
So to me, stepping back was an act of kindness to myself. I can highly recommend it. And now I’m back, in this here coffee shop, writing, because I feel like I may have something useful to say. It feels freaking good.
And I’m not ashamed to say so.