Thursday, August 18, 2005

Taking it easy

Following my little health scare, I've limited what I do to the bare minimum for the forseeable future, I am still called onto do the odd job which will probably be unavoidable, but I suppose the minimum that's actually practical. And unlike before, I am telling people, as I have little choice if that's how I have to operate, and they are so far very understanding.

What I can do though is house related work. I've started the doors and windows which the builder saved for me to do to save some money. The windowledges are now a very nice shade of pale blue, soon to be followed by the doorframe area, though the door itself being wood has to have a different paint which will be unlikely to match exactly. I can also keep playing sport/gym work, as it seems to actually help, I'm used to it and can always stop if it's too much. But waiting even 5 minutes in a queue at the moment takes it out of me more than an hour of tennis. I've just shown it's not physical exercise that makes me tired, but stress.

I've just started my second of three pictures to go to the gallery, and even though some of the features are up to an inch away from their actual positions it looks good and I'm not moving them for the sake of photographic accuracy. I hope it'll be finished this time tomorrow. Meanwhile I've managed to have a run of friends visiting. Maybe it's because I can do fuck all else they've decided to come to me, some were just passing by but the amount of take-away food deliveries arriving is increasing three-fold, I just had an extremely good pepperoni tomato and onion stuffed crust pizza after a Chinese last week and Indian the week before. I appear to be drifting to the 'I had a bowl of soup and a slice of bread at ten-past one, just before the phone went and then I went to the toilet and used four pieces of paper' type story my grandma is well-known for, but as I eat those pizzas regularly this one just happened to be a cut above the usual high standard. I apologise for my autistic attention to detail and will try not to let it happen again.

Today's visit was from an old friend of the family, one who lived two doors away from us until the year before I was born, and I now live two roads away from where we both live. He remembered a lot from then, though he left at 3, as I do who left at 5. He hadn't been here before and we traced a path around all our old haunts, including meeting the woman who now lives where I used to. Very nostalgic. Tomorrow's plans, as I said, are painting both inside and outside, and another friend I've known all my life coming in the evening who I haven't seen for a couple of years since his marriage broke up.

The recent illness has forced me to reassess how I both spend my time and make arrangements with other people. I have no choice now but to put my foot down, as I physically can't do very much and interestingly both my friend today and I had spent a lot of time over the last few years looking after another family member, and both agreed it was far better to not be working and so be available for them at any time instead. If I'd been working two people in my family would have missed a good number of shopping and hospital trips as well as gardening and other work. If I had a choice of working and someone in the family having to call in strangers to help them (which they would have) I'd rather be there for them, why work for a stranger for money when you can do something for people who looked after you for years in earlier times? There are no other people in my generation, I was the only grandchild of both sets of grandparents, so there is no one else available if I'd been working as I used to. It's not an excuse, and my friend had to stop working as his mother was so ill, and money can come from many other sources than a regular job.

In the time I haven't had a job, besides bits and pieces I did in my chosen profession, I spent a year taking the home courses that allowed me to become a professional counsellor and psychotherapist, and took two terms of weekly shamanic practice courses at college, only stopped as the time changed to an odd one which apparently no one else could manage either so it was cancelled. Of course I painted a few watercolours which are now all neatly arranged on my general site , and of course spent many happy hours with my girlfriend who was also not working, during our better times. I'd rather have done that than had the money any time! I have also been able to write articles fluently, which in my case means starting one and only finishing when it's done at maybe 4 or even 5am. But it keeps the flow going, I email the results and have had every one accepted as it was written.

But the original and commonly held view work=stress is proved wrong. I had a job for 5 years with annoyance at times, but little stress. If I had a similar job, I wouldn't have stress from that either. Stress is everything else that happens at random to us all from time to time, and if it comes in bunches as it has to me, is too much and pushes us over the edge physically and mentally. Family illness, major house, tooth and car repairs, and financial disaster all within a few months make no difference whether or not I had also been working. In fact a cushy job would have kept me out of the way some of the time and also solved my money worries providing a regular, though minimal income. So, I have reinvented my priorities, and been forced to change the way I do things purely to survive. Adding to that a positive attitude which I've proved to work, that is whatever my body does to rebel, I'll do whatever else it lets me do has let me focus on the 'can do's' rather than the opposite, which makes a lot of practical difference when you can't do very much. So besides avoiding longer trips in time or distance, I've done most of my usual things and got just as much done as I did before, thank goodness, due to my attitude. I am learning, it's never too late and critics of my negativity in the past here will see I haven't been floored by the latest run of shite, far from it.

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