Have you ever had your personality analysed? I read an interesting article about a writer who uses the Enneagram system to build believable character profiles. When the pilot was a headhunter in London, he asked me to try out one of the tests they used on their clients. It was a Jungian Psychological profile – I came out as ‘Counsellor Idealist’ – along with Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Oprah. Right. Who knew they had time for Psych profiles? I bet you, were they still alive and hanging a painting, Mother T or Gandhi would not have just - uncharacteristically (one of those afternoons, you know ..) yelled ‘f***’ when they hit their thumb with the hammer only for the toddler to mimic ‘Fug, fug, fug!’ as he happily wandered past. Jung once wrote: ‘Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.’ Who knows, perhaps somewhere in here there’s a ‘counsellor idealist’ fighting to get out (or no, she wouldn’t be fighting would she – she’d be waiting patiently, counting petals on lotus blooms).
BC (before children), I used to be a very calm person. In an article I archived at the weekend from a Mother & Baby commission on relaxation a few years ago, I wrote that pregnancy intensified my ‘normal zen-like state’. What? I’m sorry? I do a very passable impression of the Hulk on a daily basis at the moment. What I probably meant was pregnancy made me near-narcoleptic and unable to hoik myself off the sofa. That was a different life. At the moment I feel like a guitar string that is being tuned higher and higher until … Is it just me, or are we all under more stress than normal? Even on a good day, it feels out of control. From sleep we are dragged to news headlines of recession and demanding, beautiful children yelling to get out of cots/dirty nappies/have breakfast. I have a ‘can do’ attitude to life and resist drugs (optimistically bought a book called ‘Potatoes not Prozac’ that suggests dietary equivalents to the calming effects of modern medicine. A visiting Mum said ‘But why not go for the real thing? It’s wonderful.’ She smiled benignly as the children played). Angels and demons. I love my angels. As Mario Andretti once said ‘If everything seems under control you’re not going fast enough.’
Patience is vital – as parents and writers. Out of 30 speculative submissions sent out on Friday so far one article query has been picked up (one …) by a glossy UK gardening magazine, (yes, I have a pitiful track history with killing plants but it’s going to be about Georgian follies and pleasure gardens in case you were wondering …). They might – might, be able to fit it in in 2010. So – that’s not going to help with this month’s groceries then. Back to the drawing board or tap-dancing on street corners. Ideas on a postcard welcome. Do not lose heart. Hey – so I’ve exhausted UK Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook – there’s still the US Writer’s Market lurking on the desk. Tomorrow's another day. Send another thirty out. Send sixty. Sock it back to them. Writing, child rearing – said it once and I’ll say it again – the only reason to do either is LOVE.
TODAY’S PROMPT: Take a deep breath. Take several. Take as many as you need until you calm down. This is the single simplest thing you can do to help if you are feeling angry, frustrated, trapped. With everything that is going on am I the only person who has caught themselves holding their breath – literally? So, breathe. At the risk of sounding like grumpy old men and women, why not take a few minutes and let rip – write out your anger and frustration. Anger is a bitch if you internalise it – it becomes depression, anxiety – research links psychological repression of anger with the body self-imploding with physical illness … as mentioned, there’s a lot of Celtic seething in our family’s history (a lot of repressed anger, addiction, tragic early deaths – and creativity). Figured out early on the need not so much to Let It Be as to Let It Out.
Here’s a rant to get you started: From today’s headlines alone, I am livid that hard working middle income tax payers struggling to get by are bailing out the banks whose greed got us all into this mess in the first place (and sending them off on jollies to spas of all things – grrrr). I am incredulous that a whole country (Iceland) can be bankrupted. I am incensed that a drunk driver who killed two young boys and paralysed their father will be out in three years. I am beyond furious that thousands of old people will be unable to heat their homes this winter because of the oil prices. And that’s without getting personal. (Today, I am thoroughly ashamed that after failing to hang the painting because the fifteenth century damp cottage wall crumbled – (probably built of hay and horse shit), I yelled ‘I hate this wall!’ and the six year old sobbed ‘No you don’t you hate me’). Children take it all to heart – to them, they are the centre of the universe, the cause of everything good and bad that happens in your home. It stopped me in my tracks, (and the 'worst mother award goes to ...). We had a hug, popcorn and a movie curled up under blankets before bedtime. Nothing matters as much as them. The old adage – never go to bed angry is one to live by. At least they know their mother’s not a robot (push too many buttons and watch out …) but I don’t want to inflict my frustration (which rather than coming out on how slow publishing is, how dire the economy is – comes out on nails and walls).
So – have a go, try catharsis, get it out safely, get angry (Google anger management if it’s bothering you, I did – or sing along to Meredith, Kelis, Alanis - or Jack and Adam if you are feeling pretty witty and gay) – then (importantly) let it go, take lots of deep breaths. Lighten up. Wouldn't it be great to be Mother T, G, the Mighty O one day – but right now I’m feeling pretty challenged, fallible and human … how about you?
Separated at birth?