I am typing this from a guesthouse in Dublin. Next to me is a silver pot of coffee and a scone with jam that Sara, the lovely Spanish girl behind reception, has just brought up – I didn’t even ask for it, she just said that she thought I might like something to help me get on with my work.
Last night her colleague, Rhona, caught me coming up the stairs and asked me if I’d like a snack. ‘What kind of snack?’ I asked. ‘Well, I just made French toast for a fella and he’s still standing,’ she said.
I asked for a cheese toastie and it was delivered to my room, with a pot of tea and a plate of custard creams. I ate this feast on my bouncy bed while watching a Sandra Bullock movie. I fell asleep just after 10pm and didn’t wake till gone 9am this morning.
If there is a heaven I think this might be it.
Anyway upshot is, I’m taking a break. A break from work, from life, from the blog.
The truth is the wheels have been coming off over the last few weeks and it’s time to stop before I spin out of control.
Shock horror, it turns out that examining every element of your life and doing that in public is a weirdly intense thing to do and it has taken its toll.
The tipping point came last week when I was writing a magazine article about always being single. I was in a cafe getting queries from the lovely editor: Have you ever been in love? Do you want children? What do you see in your future? All massive, personal questions to be answered on deadline for the whole world to read about. Again.
I wouldn’t mind but I was in the middle of trying to write my eulogy/80th birthday plan at the time. On that Tuesday afternoon in Starbucks it felt like I had to decide on every element of my life, while a crappy version of ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ was playing on the speakers.
It should have been funny but I was too strung out to see the humour. I felt exposed, exhausted and embarrassed – the culmination of a crazy introspective, soul-bearing, fear-facing year.
I don’t know how I’ve become someone who exposes every bit of her head and heart to the world, it certainly wasn’t what I set out to do, it’s kind of crept up on me. I have no regrets about any of it – I’m so proud of this blog – but I think it’s time to step back for a moment and take stock. It’s time to press pause.
For months I’ve been preoccupied by the fact that this project is so behind schedule. I’ve been trying desperately to plough on because look, it’s December and I’m only on book eight! – but I think I have to let that go. This blog no longer fits into my original plan but so be it. Real life doesn’t always go to plan and, for all its ups and downs, this blog has been real.
For now I’m going to give myself an early Christmas present – the gift of time. Time to reflect on everything I’ve done this year, time to sleep, time to put funeral plans on hold and think of nothing more deep than what I’m going to have for dinner.
With all the best will in the world my head cannot take any more self-help this month.
So I’m officially calling time on the 30 Day November challenge (I was pretty crap at that anyway) and announcing the launch of Ditch Self-Help December which will lead us nicely into the Chill Out Christmas.
I’ll pick up the 7 Habits again in January (oh how telling! I’ve fallen at Habit Two of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People!) and I’ll get through the rest of the 12 books at my own pace.
I’m determined to get through them all – we still have dating and mindfulness to do, two of the biggies – but there’s no point in me doing them with my brain half dead. Sometimes taking time off is just as important as doing the work.
After the twelve books are done, my award-winning bestselling book will somehow get written. Or not. Whatever happens, I need to slow down in order to speed up, retreat to advance.
Maybe it’s a sign that self-help is working – the fact that I no longer want self-help to tell me what to do. I know best what I need right now – and that’s a lot of rest. And scones. And possibly more Sandra Bullock. Oh, and Guinness. Of course.
I’ll be in touch soon but until then Happy Ditch Self-Help December. Love to you all. xx
PS: I overheard a funny thing on the street today. A Dublin guy was on the phone to a friend delivering this bit of news: ‘My family’s mental. My Granda’s only gone and run off with a Brazilian!’
HA HA HA HA. Who needs self-help when you’ve got that?! xx
PPS – If you’re ever in Dublin I recommend Butlers Townhouse in Ballsbridge – www.butlershotel.com. Honestly, they’ve been beyond lovely – and they’re not paying me to say that. Although, you never know, I might get a couple more scones out of them.