A broken clock

I think I broke my mother’s heart today.

We’d gone out for a family lunch, me, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and my two nephews, B (2 ½) and R (4 months). R is normally the happiest baby in the world, perfectly satisfied in his car seat, but unfortunately at the moment we have a nasty case of teething. That plus a cold means he’s not a happy boy. As a result I spent a lot of time carrying him, having him perched on my lap and just having all round cuddles.

Oh the hardship…

I think the fact that I spent so much time with R and also drawing pictures with B gave my Mum the idea that more grandchildren were on the cards as it might indicate that at long last my biological clock might (finally) have started ticking…

Alas, my clock seems to be broken… Sorry Mum, but if I were you, I wouldn’t be counting on any more grandchildren.

broken biological clock

That might sound harsh but at 31 I’m not getting any younger and when you’re single without the slightest hint of any romantic prospects and no real desire to actually look for the so-called Mr. Right, it’s not so much being harsh as realistic. And whilst I could do it alone either via one-night stand or a sperm donor, having a baby is hard enough when there are two of you. I have nothing against single parents; I know a lot of them who do an amazing job. But being a single parent through death or separation is a totally different matter to setting out with the intention of being one.

But in addition to that I also have to consider my history with depression. I would be at high risk of both ante-natal and post-natal depression and I’m not sure I can knowingly do something that would put me at risk of feeling like that again. There is also the risk of any child of mine being more susceptible to this horrible illness than the child of someone who doesn’t have depression. Now whilst anyone can suffer from depression, but it’s more likely. I don’t judge anyone who has had depression who has then had children, I’m just saying that it’s not right for me.

Add to that there’s the small issue of I just don’t want to have them and you end up with a biological clock that just doesn’t tick. No Ally McBeal-style dancing babies for me. No ticking clocks. Just a quiet life.

And that doesn’t make me unhappy. It’s just the way it is. I think my Mum would prefer my biological clock would start ticking loudly but such is life.

Do you want or have children? Do you think that you can have a happy, fulfilled life without children?

Average Josephine x

Taking a battering

What many people don’t know about me is that my blog isn’t the first thing I’ve tried writing. When I was younger I was a voracious writer. By the age of fifteen I’d written two stories which were long enough to be described as books. Don’t get me wrong, they were melodramatic crap (I was a teenager, enough said), but to have written that sheer volume of words is, in my book, pretty impressive. All I wanted to do was to be a writer, to be able to spend my life moulding words for a living.

But as I got older and the pressures of life and the prospect of having to get a “real job” loomed, my writing was the one thing that fell by the wayside. A lot of it was due to the fact that as my poor depressed brain got sicker and sicker, my confidence dropped lower and lower until I had so little faith in myself as a person, let alone as a writer, I couldn’t face this thing I loved becoming one more thing I failed at.

And then nearly half a lifetime later, I discovered Twitter and through that the world of blogging. It took a couple of false starts before I started this blog and although it doesn’t have the biggest readership in the world, I am so grateful for each reader and each comment I get. I might never reach my dream of being a professional writer but having an outlet and a way to express myself is invaluable.

So when nearly two weeks ago, someone accused me of stealing copy for having offered to blog for a brand they had already covered (despite the fact that it was for a new and totally different product) and responding to two Twitter-wide tweets for bloggers, the little confidence I had gained was pretty much obliterated.

But the thing I have come to realise is that when faced with such baseless accusations, it shows much more about the person making the accusation than it does about you. Whether this blogger was worried that she’d lifted some copy or just generally insecure and worried that another blogger might produce a better post than her on a similar subject, I don’t know but unless someone has lifted copy directly from your blog, my vote would be to not accuse people, especially when you’re not aware of all the facts. It creates a lot of bad feeling and could do long-term damage to your credibility as a blogger.

As for me, I’m still very hurt, angry and upset. I’m even more upset that the issue has caused some serious damage to a long-term friendship which may well be irreparable. I’m not the sort of person to have a million and one friends so to have one take our friendship so lightly is something that hurts immensely. And the blogger? Well, time will tell what happens but it’s one time I really hope that Lady Gaga was right:

Lady Gaga "Karma" quote

Average Josephine x

Finding yourself…

I feel sometimes like I have failed at life.

When I was younger I had a set idea of the woman I was going to become.  I would go to university, have a successful professional career as an accountant or a lawyer or something similarly prestigious, meet a wonderful man, get married and maybe have a couple of kids plus the obligatory dog.

By the age of 31, I thought I would have at least reached the getting married part of this plan but with one thing and another, it’s not quite worked out that way.

I have a career, albeit one I’m not really sure I want. I am an exam qualified accountant, all that stands between me and the three letters that signify six years of hard work is a mountain of paperwork and whilst it seems ridiculous to let so much hard work go to waste, I do wonder whether accountancy is the right career for me.  Whilst part of me loves the rules and structure that it has, the lack of freedom and creativity is a bit stifling.  After all, creativity within accounting tends to be frowned upon…

So a successful career, that’s definitely not a checked box on the list.

As for being married, well having been single for nearly six years, that isn’t looking likely in the near future. And bizarrely this bit doesn’t bother me that much. I have stages where I want a relationship but to be honest, if I live on my own for the rest of my life, I’ll be OK with that.  I have my cats and my friends, two adorable nephews who I’ll get to be the crazy aunt with and that’s enough.

So whilst the married box isn’t checked, I’m kind of OK with that.  And the kids box we’ll be leaving unchecked as well. It doesn’t make me feel less of a woman but I can’t help but feel that other people are disappointed in me for not settling down and having a family and having a conventional life.

The biggest issue I have had over the past few years though is that I haven’t been happy.  I’ve been the opposite of happy for the most part and the fact that I have put so much pressure on myself to find this perfect version of myself hasn’t helped but I have never understood why.

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself" George Bernard Shaw. Photo: Samantha Hadadi

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself" George Bernard Shaw. Photo: Samantha Hadadi

But when I saw this quote by George Bernard Shaw I started to realize exactly why I keep failing at these expectations I have set.  I set these ideals according to my parents’ expectations of me when I scarcely knew who I was, let alone who I would become. I’m never going to find this “perfect version of myself because she doesn’t exist; she never has.

My life is mine to create and whilst I admit there have been some twists and turns I didn’t anticipate and would rather have been skipped, they have helped create the woman I am today.

We all come into this life as a blank canvas. Nature and nurture help determine what the picture looks like but eventually the only person who determines whether the picture is a true work of art is ourselves.

A little too much of my life has been this:

Edvard Munch "the scream" Source: Wikipedia

Edvard Munch "the scream" Source: Wikipedia

I guess we will have to see what the final artwork looks like…

If your life was a picture, which picture would it be?

Average Josephine x

2012- the start of the rest of my life

2012- image from techland.time.com

2012- image from techland.time.com

So here we are in 2012, the year the Olympics will come to London.  Can I just ask everyone one small question?

How the hell did that happen?

It seems like no time at all since we were celebrating the millenium (for a variety of reasons a night I will never forget) and suddenly here we are twelve years later.  A lot has happened in that time both on a global scale and on a more personal one but when people said that time goes quicker the older you get, I didn’t realise they meant quite this quickly.

So 2012, a new year and, for me, another new start.  Trust me when I say I’ve had a few of these.  But I’m determined that this one is going to be different.  Because I’m different this time round. My life is different this time round.

The biggest new start for me is moving back into my flat.  I’ve owned my flat since 2006 but have probably only lived in it for maybe two years in the intervening period.  The reason for this being that with my depression there were problems with me living on my own. Basically I couldn’t be trusted to keep functioning and doing basic things like eating and cleaning. So for the rest of the time I have been living with my parents.

The lack of cleaning thing means that in order to move back my flat needs a really good spring clean.  So that is my first job for the new year and it does equate to sort my life out! But I am looking forward to doing it as it is a step towards the independence that I haven’t had for so long and that I need in order to move on with my life.

Also, there is a good chance that either me or one of my parents may die if we keep living together much longer. There is only so long you can live with your parents and answer the “where are you going, when will you be back, what are you doing today” questions when you have had the freedom to do what you want, when you want before.

Of course, moving back to my flat means that I’m going to be spending a lot more money as I haven’t really been spending money on food or anything similar over the past couple of years.  The thing with that is that in the past I haven’t exactly been what you might call financially responsible.  Ooops? So I’m going to have to start -gulp- budgeting and getting my finances in order as at the age of 30. Alvin Hall, here I come.

My other aim for 2012 is to get comfortable with my biggest demon: the mirror. Like a lot of women I really don’t like what I see in the mirror, despite Operation Fit and Fabulous, I don’t live comfortably inside my own skin.  As a result I’m going to focus less on what my body looks like and more what it can do.  So I’m going to run.  I ran a bit at uni but an old back injury flared up and I stopped but I’ve been inspired by the fabulous Bangs and a Bun and her various incarnations of Team Bangs on the Run.

So come September I am going to run the Run to the Beat half marathon.  13.1 miles that may very well kill me but I’m going to do it. And luckily I have a partner in crime for this in the gorgeous and fabulous Mrs Samantha Hadadi, one of my best friends and a truly gorgeous woman, inside and out.

I’m also going to make a special effort with my diet, try and take my own food for lunch instead of relying on whatever I can lay my hands on when I’m at work.  This should help both the finances and the waistline as I’m sure I’m eating a lot of calories I really shouldn’t be with lunch.  I’m going to see a nutritionist to help with this as having been told I can’t eat gluten I think I need a bit more help with my diet to make sure I’m getting all the right nutrients to support my body.

The most important part of what are effectively my New Year’s resolutions is to love myself. I have a horrible habit of beating myself up for every tiny little perceived mistake and whilst it is something I have worked on in therapy, I still have a long way to go.  The good bit is that 2011 has brought me some new friends who will help me with this.

And with that I want to say goodbye to 2011 with a massive thank you to my fantastic friends, the lovely people who have supported me through some tough times. Special thank yous go to Samatha Hadadi, Cate Merrick, Jo GiffordSarah Williams,Jayne Hardy, Lea RiceAli Edgar and Andy Hagan. You guys are brilliant and I love you.

Another thank you goes to the lovely people who read my blog. I am hugely excited whenever I get a new follower or a comment so thank you and please keep reading.

What are your plans for 2012? Have you made New Year’s resolutions this year?

Average Josephine x

UPDATE: I meant to put this when discussing Run to the Beat above but if anyone wants to join me, Sam and Jo (who has commented she will be joining us!) then please let me know! I’d love to keep in touch with anyone planning to run and we can all keep each other going through the training- I’m going to need all the support I can get!!