Going on hiatus

I’ve decided to pause blogging here. I don’t imagine this will materially affect anyone’s life apart from mine.

I started this as an experiment really, and it’s both succeeded and failed.

I wanted to write, and since the standard advice is to write about what you know, I chose to write about living alone and how to do it well. Sometimes I stayed on topic but more often than not I wombled off into peripheral ideas and completely unrelated topics. I don’t know where I’m trying to go with it any more and I’m loath to make you wander aimlessly in the wilderness with me while I figure it out.

My initial intention was to offer advice and insights into living alone. I’ve lived alone for decades, and more importantly I enjoy it and choose it. That makes it a very different experience for me than for those who have it thrust upon them.

But I discovered that I feel uncomfortable telling anyone “this is how to do it”. (Ironic, as I’ve had to train myself to stop giving unsolicited advice and problem-solving other people’s lives in real life). Particularly since if you don’t want to be alone, having someone tell you that the way to do it is to embrace it, is like telling an insomniac the way to feel less tired is to get a good night’s sleep.

In terms of success, I count the fact that I’ve blogged pretty much once a week (with a few lapses) for over 2 years. One hundred and forty two posts, counting this one. I wanted to write and I did.

I may be pausing just at the wrong time. I don’t pay much attention to blog traffic but today I did look and total views over the year have grown. More surprising to me was where they’ve come from:

I love that someone in Nepal and someone in St Vincent & Grenadines once read a post! This is the long tail of readers — I haven’t shown the high end, but it includes the expected US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and others.

Still, I want to take a break and rethink what to do with this blog. I may decide to embrace the rambling, head off in a new direction, or give it up completely. I’m not yet sure so in the meantime I’m going to stop posting.

But not before saying thank you for reading and for the “likes” you’ve given posts. Until you do this blogging business you have no real idea how significant a view or a like or a follow is. It’s impartial validation – since you don’t have to read or like or follow, the fact you do is incredibly encouraging.

So thank you for humouring me and for showing your support by reading.

I may be back, but whether I am or not, may you live well, alone or in company.

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Planning a social life

Yesterday I went walking with my friend G. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed a lovely couple of hours walking through bush with views over the sea. At the conclusion of our walk we went to a cafe for lunch and shared a slightly geographically confused but very tasty paella and pizza.

Like me, G lives alone and also has RA. We both acknowledge the need for regular exercise so we make an effort to get together and walk somewhere every few weeks, because walking is a good way to catch up without dealing with noisy cafes or bars.

I know these catch ups are important to him. He’s told me how he makes a real effort to plan his weekends to ensure he has social contact and doesn’t just sit around his flat feeling sorry for himself. I suspect he has a much greater need for social engagement than do I, do I think it’s very self aware of him to be so proactive about organising his time so he makes sure he gets the level of interaction he needs to keep well.

It occurred to me that this is the very issue I face, but I’m not as disciplined as he is. My issue is how to say no to engagements so I get the solitary time I need for good mental well-being.

People think it’s hard to reach out to others to ask for help, and it is. Asking for company can sometimes feel needy rather than an act of sharing. But it’s very difficult to refuse when someone offers to share their company with you. I feel rude and ungrateful and I suspect I always will. But I’m still going to say no.

One week in

I go back to work on Monday after a pretty decent break. Here, we get 2 public holiday days for Christmas and two for New Year so for 6 days of annual leave I got a break of 15 days. Nice.

It’s now the end of the first week of 2018. So how is it looking so far?

About the same as last week, truth be told. But this is no criticism. The promise of New Year is that we can transform our lives into a more perfect version through the act of wishing it to be so. Unsurprisingly this doesn’t work. If it were the case, we’d have wished it so a lot earlier and we’d no longer be in this imperfect place.

Transformation is jolly hard work and mind numbingly boring, tedious and uncomfortable. This morning I went for a run — I’m easing back into training again now that my medication side effects are better controlled — and it was horribly hard work. I kept needing to stop and walk, my lungs hurt, my legs felt like lead. I thought to myself, “why is this so hard? It wasn’t before, I used to be able to run, maybe I shouldn’t even try” (because of course there is a Rule that if you’re rubbish at something you have no business doing it, right?) But of course it’s hard: I’m starting from square one. I could run 21.1km before because I’d spent months running regularly before I reached that goal, and I have simply forgotten how painful and tedious and frustrating and occasionally miraculous those “learning” runs were.

We all do this, focusing on the end goal we want to achieve and glossing over the hard yards required to get there. I know I’ll forget this repeatedly throughout the year but I hope I can remember it just often enough to keep going no matter how hard it is and how rubbish I am. As someone wise wrote,

Practice isn’t for those who know how, it’s for those who don’t.