A year ago I sat down at my desk and began to type. Id been promising myself every New Years Eve that this would be the year that I’d take the leap and start to write. For the last 8 years before that I’d spent my time writing down the stories of other people. On some level I think I had waited for someone to ask me what was my story, I gave up waiting and created the platform for myself. If I genuinely believed that everyone had a story worth telling then I had to believe the same for myself.
A blog can change a lot in a year, I thought Id spend most of my time writing amazingly insightful pieces about life, the universe and me but what I found was that the more I shared the more I wanted to keep some of my universal truths silent. That baring your soul makes you feel more vulnerable some days and that a bad mood can swiftly pass but a blog post remains forever. (unless you delete it, but that’s beside the point). That was when I stumbled upon the idea of asking people about their spaces, where their gaps existed between themselves and other people. I actively sort people out who had a new perspective on life, one that I thought other people could benefit from.
Over the next 365 days my blog wasnt far from my mind. It shaped the way I viewed the world, every experience was a potential post, every heartbreak a possible share and every achieement a possible exploration. Ive worked out that not all of my stories are mine to share and Ive also found that the power of telling my story has released me from its stronghold. Onwards.
For all 22123 visitors over the last year, for the average Joe or Josephine that stayed for around 3 and a 1/2 minutes I say thank you. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy days to read and comment…when I looked back over what I’d written I felt both proud and amazed that in between 2 chickens and 2 step-chickens I found the energy to tip tap away on my trusty mac. Perhaps Ive just been avoiding the washing up for a whole calendar year?
For those new to my blog, or those keen to know what stood out, the most popular posts about other people’s stories can be found here, here and here.
The ones where I laid my little heart on the line resonated here, here and here with people.
Thank you to my husband for reading and listening and for kissing me on top of the head, not using any words when he reads something he doesn’t know about me, thankyou to my new lovely friends at Sydney Writers Centre who push me to keep going, thankyou to my new friends in the online world and thanks to my brain – for trusting that what I thought might be worth jotting down.
Hip Hip Hooray
A few days ago I took a little excursion to a suburb Id never been to, to collect a book that I needed. On the way home I was mulling over the conversation Id had with the nice man that I’d collected the book from. In the middle of my brain fog I missed the exit off the freeway and then had to drive on, way past where I lived only to finally turn round, drive back and then miss my exit coming in the other direction. Epic fail.
I’d mentioned to the man what I needed the book for, what I was studying. When I mentioned ‘missing’ he mentioned the C word. Closure. Ive had a few families like this one point out their disdain for the word and I think driving home I was wondering what other words we shouldn’t say. And then I got to thinking about who makes the rules about what we can and cant say.
My girl, in the infinite wisdom of a almost 7 year old, likes to point out words that belong on the can/can’t say list. She has a whole heap of them that she adds and takes away from the list depending on her mood and what might have slipped out of my mouth. Chubby is her forbidden C word, its always been on her list despite her strong desire to watch the Biggest Loser while eating Maltesers. She’s cant spell irony just yet.
I was trying to work out how we all make the list of the right and the wrong words, they seem to attach themselves to people as we grow but more so as we encounter new life experiences. Loss and trauma will do that to you, a conversation can be a virtual minefield of word based bombs. Ive dodged a few in my time….like most people have. Sometimes the need to say the right thing makes you say the complete opposite. Working in the mental health field before moving to missing I noticed how many words litter our vocabulary that paint a pretty crap (apparently that’s a good C word) picture of how we view people that are struggling with poor mental health – crazy, loon, psycho. We throw them around without thinking what power they have. When I started working with families who had lost someone I was cautious about how I discussed things, not to use flippant cliches and not to do dumb stuff like calling a dad by the name of his missing son. More than once.
The thing is no words are ever going to be right, we cant all be conscious of how our words can be misinterpreted when our overall message is one of support or love but we can be open to hearing about what words really rub people up the wrong way. To learn more about how they are heard by others. I was waiting for a friend at the movies last night and lurking on twitter thinking about my shakespearian twist on what comes out my mouth when this quote grabbed me, and then I realised it doesn’t matter how we say things, it matters that we reach out in the first place.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Do you have words that you cant stand? Do you tell people not to use them?
Big personalities are a little hard to contend with. All that jostling for space, talking over each other and not really taking turns to speak and share.
I finished something this week that had been hanging like a metaphorical albatross round my neck since last year. I think at the time when I said yes I thought that the helping would make me feel like I was giving back but it really became the opposite. I noticed that in helping I felt more depleted, I felt bossed aroundÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â and I felt a little sick at the thought of it all.
I couldn’t sleep last night tossing and turning and having imaginary conversations with myself where I stood up to the big personalities, where I told them really what I thought…they’ll remain imaginary because part of the thing of getting older means you realise that clashing with people in spectacular ways isn’t useful. It just inflames things. Walking away on the other hand, realising that helping doesn’t have to mean giving up a little piece of you is the stuff that life lessons are made of.
I’m helping in my own way from now on, I might not have a purpose or a role but Ill have me and that pays it forward more than any way I know how.
Have you ever found that a nice dose of helping actual became a big dose of blah?