I get a lot of opportunities to travel in my work and PhD study and have done a lot of it over the past 10 years. Some has been to far flung places like South Africa (which was the best trip in my life) and Florence (which was also pretty amazing). Lots has been to all the different states around our lovely country.
Last year was crazy. I went away so many times and in between got Influenza A, Pneumonia and a serious case of Asthma and by the end of it, I was a jet lagged mess (and there were no OS trips!). This year I cancelled a pile of trips and decided to stay closer to this home that I love. I made some adjustments. I was supposed to be away twice in the first week of my youngest Maxwell starting school a couple of weeks ago. These things were both cancelled but not by me. I was relieved. What the hell was I thinking?
First day of school!
This week I cancelled a trip for my PhD (a writing retreat to smash out 2 papers from my first study) for lots of reasons. I really want to get these papers done (and I will). One of the big reasons was that Maxwell is a bit sick and last time I was away in August, he was a bit sick when I went and ended up in hospital with pneumonia when I returned! So, I was just a little paranoid this time!
I also realised – I just had too many things going on. That the world would not end if I did the same work on my PhD from home this week and hooked up with my Supervisors online for input. That this would be ok. That I do not have to be the superwoman of multi tasking and jumping on a plane all the time. Some of the people I work with in Academia don’t have children. They don’t have chronic diseases to manage. They have all of their own pressures and stress and family and lives of course. But this is my life. And I am the one making the choices.
As soon as I made this decision I felt ten feet tall. I was so relieved. It is easy to become addicted to thinking you have to say yes to everything. Everyone is so busy and when you ask how they are, they always say “oh flat out, so much is going on”. This is always my answer and with doing a PhD, running my own national charity and counselling service and being a pretty much full time (on the side) blogger, as well as caring for my family and my chronic disease, it really is busy! It seems everyone has a million places to be. But so many of us also say we wish we could quit, grab a caravan and travel the country with our kids. Why is that do you think? Maybe we need to look at some of our priorities.
Flowers from my garden
I love my work. I love to be busy. I love to think, a lot. I also love the crazy mixed up noisiness that is our home. I like that we have only one bathroom (well there is a loo in the laundry but it is also filled with the cat food, litter boxes, laundry and assorted flow over items so not really a peaceful place to sit so to speak) and at bed time my hubby and I have to mingle (closely) with our 14 year old son James, bumping shoulders and laughing as we all try to brush our teeth around the sink. Don’t let my hubby hear me say that as he will tell me it is a “basin” not a “sink” (sorry but I am not that particular and in my family it was always a sink!)
I love that our main bedrooms all run along the same narrow hallway and I can hear my youngest if he wakes in the night. I love how our oldest moved out to the back end of the house and I do not have to hear, see, (or smell) his space! I like our quaint little dining room where we have to push past each other when we have guests, which is rare. We did have my son’s 20th birthday tea this week and he brought his girlfriend for her first official meal with our family, including my parents. She is an only child. She is not used to noise and chaos, but that is exactly what she got. I asked my son later if she was overwhelmed by us. “Nah” he said,”she liked it”. That made me happy. She will fit in. I felt proud.
I love that our block is sloped towards the back fence and the way the builders dealt with this was to raise the back of the house up, so it is like we are on a house on stilts. Inside it is all on one level but from the back we are up high and at the right time of year we can see the sun set over the ocean in the distance.
I love that I work from home. I can combine my love of work, of thinking and doing, with being in the place I love so much. There is something magical about that time when I have all the children and my hubby gone for the day and I return to pop the kettle and radio national on and crank up my computer ready for a day of working online with my diabetes charity, my blog and my PhD. I even love that sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I want to give it all up. I want to just stop. And. DO. Nothing.
Does that sound funny? That I love the feeling of being overwhelmed? Well it is kinda funny I guess, but what it is about for me, is the sense that I have more than enough. That I am never looking for something to do. But the realisation that I control what I do, even when meeting deadlines or requirements set by other people. It makes me stop and say “you know what? None of this matters. It doesn’t really matter”. What really matters is that I get my children on time. That I cuddle them when they need it. That I don’t miss the special moments. That they also feel at home. That I am a decent human being. Do something for other people every day. That I care for people, planet and all the creatures that live on it. That my life means something. Is worth something. Has an impact.
And sometimes? That means saying No. Saying, thanks that is a lovely offer, but this week, I am doing the big things – watching my garden grow, kissing my sons good night, cooking dinner, listening to the birds, sleeping in my own bed, working in my little home office shared with my messy teenager, laughing in the bathroom at bedtime.
And that is enough.