Friday, 24 April 2015

Glorious Catastrophising

A quick post before the day begins. I am grabbing the odd hour or so here and there this week in attempts to re-ground myself during another week of madness,

I post again after another weekend of modelling in the wildnerness. This time, it was not three degrees, there were no hail stone storms, and I did not set my alarm for 4.30am. In fact, the sun was shining, I set my alarm at a rather sociable 8am, and it was quite a glorious day in the end. I needed a weekend off really, but I am well aware that there are far worse ways to spend the weekend. I wonder too, if it was better to keep busy. Advice I was given very recently during a conversation about my research plans was not to worry; if you worry then you stop and you have to keep going. I think this is really quite relevant, especially for my life at the moment. I am an over-worrier and an over-thinker. I was the child who wrote and thought up stories of dramatic 'worst-case-scenario' terrible disasters happening... I am the person who bumps their car and assumes they have broken the engine. If I were a CBT therapist I may well situate myself in the camp of 'Glorious Catastrophisors'. Because that is what I do best. I catastrophise and my imagination needs no creative licence. It knows no bounds and it can be pretty terrifying if I allow it to breathe.

Not all goes gloriously tits up though. In fact, some things run just perfectly - rarely happens, but it does happen! I am taking a half an hour to myself this morning to get myself back into planet-earth mode. Last night Brys treated me to an early birthday night at the theatre in Newcastle. We drove up when I finished work and went for wine and olives and then saw the West End tour production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course this was stunning and beautiful and so very well put together that it moved us to tears. The story is one of truth and hope, and the human race. But what was wonderful was re-connecting to a theatre environment. I spent a lot of my teenage years in theatres and being back in them always gives me a sense of nostalgia. There was a beautiful and rather inspirational Q&A session with some of the cast members after the performance, in which I was reminded not only of the truth in the story of Harper Lee's novel, but in the rawness and authenticity of human beings when they act as vessels of stories and narratives. They not only carry and tell their own stories, but they find their own stories in the lives of others, and that is quite an incredible thing to learn about. Despite what is a very tumultuous time for me at the moment, I found some sense of 'home' last night with my sister in a city that isn't our own watching a play that was breath-taking and turning emails off. Despite such a very late night drive back down the A1, . That is probably why I can sit and type and drink my coffee feeling somewhat more grounded than I have done all week.

Life is truly being lived in extremes at the moment; client work, holding exam stress for my students, modelling jobs, birthdays, research uncertainties... And I am facing that question of 'how do I say goodbye to the last 5 years of my life and trust that my plans and hopes for the next year will happen?' I suspect that this brings me back to the old 'trust in the process' phrase that I tend to refer back to so frequently it might as well be tattooed on my forehead.

OK, typically I now have about 20 minutes until I must jump back in my car and take myself over to York. Must face the day...

Monday, 13 April 2015

21.5 hours

I am unusually awake considering the weekend that's just taken place. I have just finished assignment number 2 of 4. Two more to go until 'the end'. This assignment, although not difficult, has taken extremely large chunks of my time over these past few weeks and the final push today took about as much as I had left to give it. I am more than happy to announce that it is now all printed out and in a file ready to submit either tomorrow or on the deadline day on Tuesday. I can have a few moments to breathe now before work begins on the next one (AKA I really cannot look at the next one just yet).

When I say 'the weekend that's just taken place' I am really referring to my day yesterday. It began when my alarm went off at 4.30am and I shuffled out of bed and into my car and relentlessly drove myself in the darkness of the early morning down the M62 (then a lot of small country lanes) to a tiny lane in the middle/top of the Peak District. I arrived in a tiny car park at the top of many hills, at 7am ready to shoot. I do not know what came over me when I agreed to do this test shoot and then when I saw the 7am call time and location this really confirmed that I am indeed mad. I think the decision was made after several glasses of wine a couple of weekends ago in London. I could rant, but here is definitely not the place. We assembled on the top of the Peak District, or at least on top of one of the peaks. It was 3 degrees, hail stones, wind, rain storms, 4x4 cars being knocked about with the gusts of wind... We took a bit of shelter whilst the weather calmed down and then we proceeded to continue with the shoot. Blue hands and feet and many shots (laughs and cries) later, we wrapped and headed off on our own ways home. It was so fortunate that it was such a beautiful and lovely team of people, and of course the pictures were lovely, but so very unfortunate that it has taken me probably about 24 hours to warm back up to normal body temperature. It was, without doubt, one of those days where I stood on the top of the marshland, incredible views around, with the freezing wind blowing right through my clothes and viscously hitting my face and wondered what on earth my life decisions had come to. It is either quite wonderful or I really must re-evaluate the choices I make. I flit between the two...

When we finished shooting, after delirious laughter, and group penguin hugs, I put the heating on full blast in my car and drove up to Leeds to visit Penn. I spent a good chunk of time with her, chatting, drinking coffee and wine, catching up after a good couple of weeks, and then it reached midnight and I drove back down the M1 home. By the time I got to bed I had been awake and on the go none-stop for 21.5 hours. That is quite something... And I am still alive and awake now. Still typing, still thinking, thoughts still flowing and intact, still making sense (mostly). Some days I have no idea what keeps me going. Yesterday it was good company, many hugs, a very wonderful friend, and a good supply of coffee and a glass of red wine. It was also the thought of a lie in this morning, which I got. Until 10.30am. Feet were still cold, hair was dishevelled as I hadn't washed the product out of it from the shoot, and I still looked like I hadn't slept in a week when I woke up. Fortunately I have showered now and I look a little more human. But 21.5 hours. I am ready now to rest and face the new week. I think I may have another shoot next weekend. I am hoping that it isn't another 21.5 hour day.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The middle of the end

I am sat at my desk with an empty soup bowl next to me wondering how to spend the last hours of the day. My choices are:
Option 1: Read To Kill a Mockingbird (Brys got me tickets to see the West End Tour for my birthday, which is very soon... and I haven't yet read the book).
Option 2: Work on my assignment.
Option 3: plan for my tuition lessons tomorrow.
Option 4: Clean and hoover.....
Option 5: Continue with this blog...
Option 6: House hunt

Options are really limitless and endless. I have become skilled at not being a student and not working on my own assignments, hence my sitting down to write this, which might otherwise more accurately be known as a great distraction technique. This week has been so beautiful. It has been the first time since last summer that I have been able to drive with my car windows down and enjoy the breeze. As always, I have been between appointments and jobs and always on the road so the change in climate has been so wonderful. It is the Easter Holidays and this is the last real time my students have to revise for their upcoming exams so most of them have been having extra tuition sessions over Easter, which has meant a busier schedule for me.It has been nice to have a change in work schedule and to be able to fit a couple of new students in. After 2 years of doing this job, the inevitable happened this week, and not only once but twice, had to have the discussion of explaining that yes I do indeed model alongside my other jobs! Interesting discussion to have and I am not sure quite why I tend to keep it so private. On one hand I know that all information on the internet is so readily available so I should be more aware that people use it. I think it has always been something about the assumptions I assume people have about models... But then again that is an assumption itself I suppose. Learning to be more open minded always, even about the assumptions I didn't realise I had.

I have spent the majority of today with my A Level students helping them revise and I popped into my placement at the surgery for a few hours this afternoon. Now I have spent about half an hour with my sister and her cognitive revision I feel like I have A Level psychology flowing through my brain and out of my ears particularly this week. It is a strange time of year; exciting projects are being planned, I have been making contact with some people about my research and also making some very exciting plans about my next house move, which I am beyond ready and excited for. I have also been daring to think about life post-qualification. I am now 7 hours away from the golden 150 hours needed for qualification and that is really a sign I am on the home-straight. No looking back. I spoke a while back about it feeling like the beginning of the end. This feels more like the middle of the end now,

It is now a good few hours since I began this post. I have since entered into a political discussion with my sister in which she made some statements with great sweeping conviction. I wonder why I was not that way at 16 years old.... Hmm. I then made more coffee, tidied up my to-do list, and still have not opened up my assignment. That is my task for now. To open this assignment and stop sitting here staring at words on a page that haven't moved in days and that will continue to remain static until I decide to add and edit. What a productive evening... I have been writing about writing about nothing and drinking coffee that is just making me fall asleep...

Friday, 3 April 2015

A collection of London escapades

In the spirit of continuing with my updates, here are some recent snaps... I have been in London so much recently that none are taken on home-ground, all in London; either our sister weekend at Harry Potter World, our weekend at the conference (really a good excuse to drink wine and enjoy spectacular company, under the name of 'conference...') and a modelling trip I took. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

My work is to make peace with my body

I have been reading Yalom's new book, 'Creatures of a Day', and I only have one chapter left, which I am savouring and saving for a moment in which I know I will fully enjoy it. The book has been such a wonderful gathering of his patient stories that I know I won't wait for long and will finish this chapter probably today. I know it is a good book when it is effortless to read yet impactful in so many ways.

My favourite chapter so far is one where he discusses a patient of his who was dying; one whom he has written an entire book about, so I imagine a precis of this in just one chapter was a challenge to write. But of course he did this beautifully. He writes about his patient's lack of connection with him, but then he realises that all along his patient was hugely capable of such deep connection that he was the one who was missing out; he was the one who was protecting himself. It was not her.

His patient wrote to him:

'I'm alive now and that's what matters.
Life is temporary - always, for everyone.
My work is to live until I die.
My work is to make peace with my body and to love it,
whole and entire, so that, from that stable core, I can reach

out with strength and generosity.'

Righteous anger.

This post must (really must) be kept brief because as I sit here, I am once more surrounded with a pile of work I must do. This is a somewhat familiar situation for me to be in. Since I wrote my last post and have been part of some discussions about what is/is not appropriate to share, I have come to a realisation that I would like a little more 'realness' in here. I received a message from a friend recently who asked what I meant in my last post. I can be so cryptic that even my good friends search for the hidden meaning. I was also sat on the train to London and another very good friend of mine noted that I rarely write any more, and that she knows there is much more than I will ever say, almost like I filter out what I write and every couple of weeks once I've gathered enough of a rose-tinted perspective can I permit myself to write. This was not meant to be the point of this project that I began five years ago, and if I read back, I see that there was a point when I wrote more freely about life and the decisions I was making. I have been asking myself, what is the point in writing if I am not writing the truth? I was at a BACP conference over the weekend in London and one speaker particularly sticks in my mind. Not just because her name was beautiful (Aqualma), but because she was speaking her truth. It was engaging and it was real, and there is nothing more liberating and powerful than that. I have decided to speak less cryptically, to adopt more of a real tone, to be less defensive about what I share, but to also make active decisions about what I decide to write and what I decide to protect. I don't want to reach a point where I read over my own writing and can't even de-code what I write about my own life.

I think it is safe to say I don't spend every day at yoga drinking juice and coffee and celebrating birthdays with friends. I do need a little spare time to write, so often I write on the days when I can go to yoga and make good coffee. But of course life is not always bright, the sun is not always shining, and sometimes like any other human, I can feel anything but gratitude and love.

As ever, today is about balance for me. I was supposed to keep the day free for a modelling job, but then got a message saying 'you are not needed now'. So that is fine, I have a free day. But after rearranging all my work for today to different days and ensuring my schedule was free, that turns out to be nothing but a wasted effort and it might not be so 'fine' after all. One day I know I will 'retire' from this modelling work. I keep telling myself this, and I keep knowing that as I progress with my career and 'other life', it is difficult to keep up with last minute travel plans or schedule requests and I am past the point of wanting to work for free to improve my book. In fact, my book has been in London for about two years and I haven't even used it since I left it at the agency there. I am past the point of wanting to go to the casting because the director might see me and like me, because that client might have lots of jobs for me, or because that photographer works around Europe and knows all the good clients around the world. But wait a minute... He might only like me if I skipped dinner for the past week and if I grew a few inches and my skin was as clear as water and if I measured up. Only on the condition that I measure up. I have gotten to the point of developing such thick skin, so thick that it has broken me and I have re-built it again.  I have reached the point where I can say 'I am not in this world to live up to your expectations...' You are you and I am I. But when yours is the only voice that is saying that, it is a lonely expedition indeed.

So despite my thickened skin and tolerance for last minute changes, (I have even learnt to embrace last minute changes) it is times like this this that I have now granted myself permission for righteous anger. I do have a day off, and the time is a gift I am sure. But I know now why I am more likely to rebel. My time is so important to me and feeling that my time is de-valued isn't too dissimilar to feeling like me (who I am) is de-valued too. This isn't the place to rant, but as I was reminded not so long ago, ranting is not always a 'bad' thing.

Ranting aside, and anger accepted, I shall continue with my day. Perhaps only now I have written this I can get on with what I need to do. I have already done my washing, gone to town, thought I needed to shop and distract myself but really only reminded myself that I don't like shopping so I came back home. So I sit here, papers by my side. I have another rant left in me, but that is for a different day. I wrote that this post must be kept brief. I am not sure I met that criteria... But I don't know when ranting was ever kept brief.