General ramblings

Going where the journey takes me…

Oh my goodness.
I have been blown away by the response to yesterday’s blog post.
I made a promise to someone yesterday that I would write something every day for a week. Just to get me out of my hole, and back on that horse. So I sat down, and I just wrote that post in the 20 minutes I had before I left to pick the kids up from school.
I thought that I had lost you all. I thought no-one was reading anymore. I thought I didn’t have anything to say that anyone would be interested in reading.
Turns out I was wrong.
What was possibly the shortest blog post I have ever written, has had the most engagement I have had for ages.
So many lovely comments here on the blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.
I am genuinely moved that so many of you took the time not only to read it, but also to leave a comment, or even just to hit the ‘like’ button on Facebook. It means so much to know that not only have people read what I’ve written, but that they can relate to it. I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to know that I am not the only one with ‘scrunched up insides’.
So thankyou.

Perhaps somewhat predictably, I now feel under pressure to replicate it. To write another post that resonates. I feel the pressure and start to try and guess what you all want to read more of. But I don’t know what you all want to read more of.
I just know that this week, for now, I need to write. About anything, about whatever is on my mind.
As it happens, almost inevitably, what is on my mind is still me trying to figure stuff out. So there may well be a few more posts like this. I worry that you will get bored, and stop reading. But this is what’s on my mind, this is where the journey is taking me, and I am forcing myself to stop pre-judging, to stop guessing, and to just go with the flow. My flow. And keep writing.

I’m doing a course at the moment with the School for Social Entrepreneurs (if you have even the merest spark of an idea for a social enterprise, do check it out-it’s been amazing) and one of my cohort is a brilliant woman called Katherine Baldwin. Katherine writes and speaks about living an ‘authentic’ life, and how important it is to be our true selves. We’ve been talking about it a lot during our time together, and we had a conversation yesterday (after I sent her a very teary e-mail) about whether it is possible to be authentic, to be truly open about how you are feeling, to admit to your flaws and your fears, and still run a successful business, or be taken seriously.
There is a part of me that says “Yes, of course it is. Being real and authentic, and open and honest about the struggles and the hard times is what people relate to” and that has been borne out for me by the response to yesterday’s blog post. Nearly every single comment was thanking me for being honest, for admitting to struggling because some of you are struggling too,  and relating to my scrunched up insides.
But then there’s a part of me that say’s “NO. People don’t want to hear it. People have their own struggles and their own demons to fight. They want to be inspired and uplifted, they don’t want to be pulled down by your tales of woe and worry.”
And yet another part that thinks if I want to get published, or run workshops, or sell e-books, then I have to be ‘the expert’. I have to be flawless and strong, and impenetrable. Not weeping into my tea because my Instagram pictures aren’t pretty enough.

But do you know what?
I don’t think I care anymore. I need to start accepting myself for what I am, for who I am. I need to stop aspiring to be someone else. Someone prettier, clever-er, wittier, more eloquent.
And I need to stop trying to guess what people might want to read, and write about the things that matter to me.
I do not have a house full of tastefully arranged vintage kitchenalia. I do not have kids who run through meadows in mini-Boden just as the evening sun catches the blonde highlights in their hair. And even if I did I couldn’t take a good picture of them.
But I do think I have something to say. I do think that my Make Do and Mend message is a powerful one, and one that the world needs to hear (there is part of me that is cringing writing that. Who am I to tell the world what it needs to hear?). And I do struggle.
Everyday I battle my demons. Some days they are beaten down more easily than others. Some days they win.
That’s ok I think.
I am not perfect.
None of us is perfect.
It is our imperfections that make us human.
Maybe it is time to embrace those imperfections, those quirks and foibles, and to make peace with them.
I am tired of pretending that I have all the answers. That I know what I’m doing (blogwise or otherwise). Or even that I know where I’m going.
I’m making it up as I go along. Some things I get right (and tend to dismiss and forget about), and some things I f*ck up (those are the things I remember and focus on. What’s all that about?). It’s all a journey. It’s all a learning curve. I need to stop beating myself up for my perceived failings and start learning to treat them as the life lessons they are.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that.

So it’s over to you guys. I want to hear from you what you struggle with, and possibly more importantly, any tips you have for embracing your imperfections, and fronting up to the world authentically, warts and all. Maybe we can all help each other out, remind each other that we all struggle, and help each other to overcome them. Or even if we can’t help overcome them, we can just be here, holding virtual hands, and doling out virtual cuppas.
Shall we?

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  • Reply glutenfreeness July 11, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I think one of the worst things in the world is people who are not authentic. People will see through it eventually- you have to be real, even in virtual reality. Oh how I hate the internet for it’s fakeness sometimes. What I mean, is people who post only the rosiest view of their life on Facebook or bloggers who only post staged photos. It feeds into this human weakness for comparing ourselves to each other (Oliver James write some great stuff on this!) I actually truthfully hope you don’t write an e-book- it might be great, but everyone seems to write an e-book these days!

    I actually had a little on-line rant about this on my blog recently:

    So please don’t go with the flow- be counter-cultural and more importantly be true to yourself. That is the only way to be happy. Write a blog because it makes you happy, or it helps you figure life out. Not because you want to be the next great blogger, publishing an e-book and making a mint out of it! I have been trying to get off the internet more and more lately, particularly social media- it is not good for our mental health and it is not real!

    • Reply Jen July 12, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Hi Lizz
      Yes, I totally get where you are coming from and this is something I feel really conflicted about myself. I have purposely not pursued having ads on the blog as it feels very counter to the message of the blog. I don’t feel like I can write about buying less, or consuming more consciously, whilst advertising ‘stuff’.
      Despite my recent wobble, and losing my mojo, this blog is genuinely something I love. It allows me the space and the freedom to explore the issues that I am grappling with, and it has enabled me to discover a love of writing that I never even knew existed.
      I genuinely believe in the message behind the blog, and in trying to spread that message and the lessons that I am learning along the way.
      And to a certain extent that is where the conflict comes in. In order to spread that message, and to reach as many people as possible, I need a ‘platform’. And having a book (e-book or traditional print) is a proven way to help establish that platform. I am so passionate about Making Do and Mending as an alternative to the constant treadmill of consumerism, and I spend a huge amount of time on the blog and all that comes with it. In some respects being able to generate an income from that validates that work, and people paying you for the work you do is the way our society shows that that work is valued.
      I have a whole blog post brewing in my head about value, what that means, and how much value something can have aside from it’s financial value.
      I have a massive block around believing that my work, my writing. my message is something that will pay for, but I do think it’s important that we are all valued for the work that we do, whatever form that takes.
      I like to think that there is room for both, and that there is a way to strike a balance. I’m still working on trying to figure it out though!

      • Reply glutenfreeness July 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        I have just read your value post and added some comments I hope will be helpful to you. It is a very difficult balance to strike, in a world where we also need to earn money. I don’t think we have fully gotten our heads around these new and emerging occupations like blogging, vlogging and working from home in its many online formats. I think it also falls under the same category as artists and other creative professionals, who often find that people value their work but not enough to pay for it.

        • Reply Jen July 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm

          It’s such a tricky one. I need to be able to work from home so that I can still be here for my kids, and have the flexibility to be around for school assemblies, and sports days, and days when they are sick. I chose not to go back to work in the profession I trained for partly because I it was slowly sucking the life out of me, and partly because I wanted to be able to be around for the kids while they still want me. As you so rightly say, there needs to be a balance, I don’t want or need to earn mega bucks, but I do want to feel like I am contributing to the family pot, and like the work I do is worth something financially. I’m still struggling, still trying to work it out. I don’t know if there is a ‘happy ever after’ solution, or even a compromise, but I’d like to explore the options!

  • Reply Jo July 6, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve followed your blog for a long time now and commented occasionally. Lots of the things that you say do resonate with me and I’d be absolutely delighted if you find those mojos again. But please be yourself. I don’t mind if the posts are not in perfect English or repeat something. I just appreciate the honesty that comes through – the ‘this is how I am’ and ‘let’s find out together’. Forget the pressure and please let’s find out a bit more, all of us together : )

    • Reply Jen July 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

      That sounds like a brilliant plan Jo, thankyou!

  • Reply Tass July 6, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Well, I’m not a blogger but as you’ll have noticed, I do comment from time to time on your blog. I follow your blog because you have always been refreshingly honest and open to new ideas – very much a “here’s an interesting idea, let’s try it out and see what happens”. I like that. I’ve *never* thought your post was preaching to me or saying ” look at me and all I’ve achieved”!
    As for life’s journey, I’ve struggled for many years thinking that being fiercely independent is a really positive attribute and that my ideas are naturally the best ones. Believe me, that’s got me into some difficult scrapes!
    After attending a course that delved into neuroscience (brain stuff / psychology) I’ve realised that life’s much easier when you reach out to people, put yourself in their shoes, listen to their ideas and practice mindfulness. Having a quieter mind is very relaxing and it’s helping me make better sense of the world and focus better too.

    Take a look at:
    “Your Morning Cup of Tea or Coffee Can Be Your Meditation – Huffington Post”

    Enjoy that cuppa!!!

    • Reply Jen July 8, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Thanks so much for this. Mindfulness is one of those things I really think I would benefit from, and that I keep meaning to start, but then it gets added to my other list of other things I have ‘failed’ to do. I will definitely check out that article, thankyou!

  • Reply French Toast Tasha July 6, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    I teach a lot, mainly teaching adults to knit. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and when I started, I definitely felt pressure to be the expert and have all the answers. As time went on though, I started to realize that what matters most is the quality of experience students have in my class, and that some of the teachers I admire most connect with their students precisely by being open and vulnerable with them. I definitely think there is a balance there—of course I do need to know what I’m talking about, and I wouldn’t tell my students everything I’d tell my best friend. But it doesn’t really help anyone if I pretend to be invincible either. I find that by being honest about things (like everyone is going to be frustrated with their craft sometimes, but you can work through it and here are some tips, etc.) and being engaged with them as people, we all have a much richer experience.

    • Reply Jen July 8, 2016 at 11:53 am

      Very good points Tasha, thankyou!

  • Reply Jennifer July 6, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Hello! I am a new follower, and very ambivalent about social media. I love how it can connect people, but dislike how “perfect” it is. Maybe you are on to something. How to blog the imperfections in a we are all imperfect way not crying in your tea way. I’m going to give that a try myself and see if it makes me feel better about participating in social media!

    • Reply Jen July 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Hi Jennifer!
      I totally hear you about social media. The one I struggle with most is Instagram. It’s all so curated, and so perfect. So much style over substance, and I start to worry that my words and my writing and my message won’t be seen or heard because I can’t take pretty enough pictures.
      Oftentimes pictures on IG will have a beautiful image, and then some words about the things the poster is struggling with etc, which is at least a way of acknowledging that everything is not always as it seems. But I still find it really hard.
      Do let us know how you get on with your journey into social media. Remember you are just seeing what people choose to let you see. They all have their scrunched up insides too, they just don’t want you to see. xx

  • Reply Essex Hebridean July 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    I read it. And it got me thinking, It got me thinking a LOT. It also got me writing again – this is the first time in AGES I’ve posted two blog posts in a week, never mind on consecutive days, so thank you for that! I’ve not got any tips for you I’m afraid, bar possibly the thing I said in my post – sometimes, it REALLY isn’t you, it’s the rest of them. Battle on. x

    • Reply Jen July 8, 2016 at 11:49 am

      SO pleased to hear that you’ve started writing again, and I really loved your post. Onwards and upwards 🙂

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