I used to write magazine articles as a freelance feature writer. 1000-1500 words with pictures, and interviews with experts and parents (yes, experts). I was once even shipped down from Lancashire to London (Hampstead) to interview Penelope Leach. My subject matter was parenting: fertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, birth, childcare, being a parent. It was, at that point, my most appropriate area of expertise. What I didn’t know about glue ear wasn’t worth knowing. I didn’t have everything my own way. An article on the EU and baby formula milk was sought by a professional journal yet my local health visitor gave me hell for it! Therein lies the rub. We can be all high and mighty in articles but down at the grassroots life isn’t like that.
The beauty of magazine articles is that they are short and self-contained. Like a short story, they have to be fully formed in few words. Today’s features seem to be different, and often SE-centric. An article on ‘sell your home by Christmas’ in The Telegraph recently, for example, seemed to suggest a battle of estate agents could lead to real progress. You don’t get that in Devon.
Excuse me while I help myself to a spoonful of peanut butter from the jar, the joys of working from home! Delish.
Back to articles. I read one in Psychologies magazine called Cool, Calm Summer. It is about slowing down and spending time outdoors. Once again it is focusing on a family living on a different planet to mine.
The gist: life is hectic. Emails, bills, dog walking, dentists and the school run. This is the stuff of life for most mothers/parents. “Tethered to technology” we are all stressed out and highly strung.
OK, well, I currently feel if I go any slower I will come to an abrupt full stop. All I’ve done today is check hundreds of emails, filled some forms, helped daughter sort out a weever fish sting in her toe, done a bit of cleaning, washed and changed the bed, walked the dogs, twice, chatted to a friend in need, and populated Bude & Beyond. Oh, I made lunch, too. Shortly I will check on an elderly relative before making dinner.
But first to finish this.
The writer’s eldest son has GCSEs this year (yes, my daughter did those a year ago), a teenage daughter in the grips of social media (er, why?) and a cheery ten-year-old with SATs. Then there’s the husband, traditionally working his socks off with no energy to do anything other than working his socks off, presumably because the money is good.
So with all this (very ordinary, I reckon) stress, the writer needs to find ways to chill, so here they are:
- Sign up for ‘laughter yoga’ – because if you don’t have a minute to spare, a yoga (or any other) class is just what you need.
- Go wilderness camping for 2 nights – requiring true survival skills as you exist on dehydrated packets of food!
- Tend an incapacitated friend’s allotment and walk her dog. That’s kind (not sure what happens while camping though).
- Use coasteering (not cheap but good) as a reward to encourage the children to help. Hmn.
- Fill the house with brushes, paints and canvases because art is a creative time that makes you feel great when you don’t have any spare time.
- Make the children download the SmilingMind mindfulness app so they can be mindlessly mindful on the move.
- Go walking to have a conversation, involve yourselves in bilateral movement and for thinking clearly.
- Aim for a #freshairfriday
OK. Well, you see what I mean about SE Centric? Yesterday, I went to the Studio, did some irritating form filling, chatted to a few people (as in real chat, connection, wow) had a walk. Did Bude & Beyond like I always do. Went food shopping. Came home, watched a film while cooking said food, and made a decent dinner for 4. Walked the dogs (twice).
Note to self:
- Did no yoga but did walk. Also ate. Did not feel unduly stressed.
- Did not go camping but did run outside to capture the intense sunset which was jaw-droppingly awesome, so I’m sharing it with you because I’m nice. Dinner had to wait.
- Did not help the incapacitated but did some active listening.
- Did not reward (bribe) anybody to do anything.
- Did not paint or buy painting kit but wrote quite a lot.
- Did not download a mindfulness app.
- Did not converse during my walk, as the dogs don’t reply.
- Did not aim for a #freshairfriday.
Conclusion: I am not stressed and quite enjoy my life. The writer, however, sells SE-centric advice under the guise of relaxation and wellbeing, for which they get paid. Therefore, she is brighter than me.
Maybe I need to start selling my soul again, too!