They say there are three types of people: one who thinks their glass is half-full, one who thinks it’s half-empty and one who says ‘beer? I never ordered beer!’
There’s actually a fourth type.
Dad would say: ‘despite all evidence to the contrary, my glass is not simply full, it’s overflowing and while you’re asking silly questions can you buy me a doughnut to eat with my drink?’
Dad’s enthusiastic plans and reality were not so much loosely connected as operating on parallel lines that would never actually meet.
He had many schemes:
- we’d move to a fancy house by the sea;
- I’d have lots of fashionable clothes;
- I’d go to a posh school (akin to the ‘Chalet School’ where everyone was extremely nice to each other and they had lots of adventures);
- we’d go on holiday to a French gîte (a new trend at the time);
- he’d buy a brand new fancy car like one on ‘Top Gear’. (At the time, I should point out, ’Top Gear’ featured cars affordable by ordinary people.)
What I actually got was:
- the dark house we already had, which was possibly haunted (or at least the cat and I thought a corner of my bedroom was);
- hand-me-downs from various richer cousins;
- the school I was already at where I was bullied and the main adventure was hiding from them;
- Maybe a crumbling holiday let in Britain, one of which had a hole in the ceiling from which I was fairly sure a massive spider peeked when I was in bed
- a car which was pretty much a tin-can held together with duct tape. And I really mean mostly held together provided you factored in several pit-stops on a long journey to patch it up again.
Sometimes Dad did get frustrated when life didn’t go to plan but generally he simply ignored things going awry and everyone else got frustrated instead (mainly with Dad).
I’m not even going to pretend I’m like him in this respect. While my glass is probably half-full in general, I find plans going to pieces overwhelmingly stressful until I get to the point when I give myself a shake, which is sort of where I am at the moment.
One of my friends posted an image today – many are available – which is about what is or out of your control. In brief:
- In my control are my thoughts, my words, my deeds, my reactions.
- Out of my control is pretty much everything else.
It made me feel a bit better because it made me reflect on what I can and can’t do and what I should or shouldn’t let get to me.
When asking me about writing on top of working full-time and having a family and all the other stuff, people often ask ‘how do you manage?’ and usually I just answer ‘it’s difficult but I fit it all in somehow’. The second half of this year, I have to be honest, the answer is more realistically ‘I’m not managing’.
Don’t read this as a complaint. I’m overjoyed with all that I have, including good health, an interesting (if sometime exasperating) job, a lovely family and all the other stuff even though this year has been stressful on most of those fronts for one reason or another.
Creativity whether cooking, photography, painting, sewing or more usually writing generally keeps me sane and lets me channel something else for a bit to reboot my energy.
In the second half of this year however, work plans haven’t gone to plan and since this impacts on my time and energy for creativity, I’m in a bit of a vortex of frustration.
With work, obviously one of the things that keeps me going is that it pays the bills but I’m also fortunate to be working towards a worthwhile goal in a great team with people I consider to be good friends.
Writing of course, I could stop at any time. Only I don’t want to largely because I know I’d be utterly miserable without it – even the difficult aspects of it (e.g. when something won’t come out right, or editing chapters is like wrangling thirty cats into a cat-carrier built for one).
I can’t do anything about some of the things that have gone awry with work – they are well and truly out of my control. I can’t therefore do much about the lack of time I have at the moment. I can simply make the best use of the time I do have and focussing on what I can do, rather than fretting about what I can’t is a great release.
Something that keeps me going rather than giving up is knowing I’m not alone.
I have a number of writer friends. Some I’ve known for years, some for a short while. Some I’ve never even met in person and will probably never meet. But at one point or another, each of them has found their writing targets going to pot. Illness has meant one took longer than she’d have liked to finish her project. Another is struggling with ‘blocks’ of various kinds – perhaps caused by doubts in their (considerable abilities) put in their minds by other people. Another, like me, thought they’d have ‘finished’ something by now but reviewing and revising has taken much longer than they thought. Another finds they can’t find an audience for a book which is just as good if not better than many that sell in the thousands.
It’s hard not to get discouraged and feel out of control but I’ve been encouraged by others who understood when things are a struggle. Just a few words here and there have helped immensely.
So just in case you need it too, whatever the thing is that you’re facing at the moment – try to focus on what you can do and how you react and have a virtual hug from me.
Words and photograph copyright 2019 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.
4 thoughts on “My Glass is…”
You certainly are not alone and I totally sympathize with you. I’m a teacher and just started the school year today and I can’t tell you how anxious I have been for the past week, knowing that I would have to give up on the freedom of sitting and writing pretty much any time I wanted. In my head, the knowledge that as a teacher I will be expected to go to many after school events, meetings and all around things that will put a serious damper in my writing production almost made me physically sick. Like you, I’m fortunate that I have a job that pays the bills (my writing would not) and that I mostly enjoy (as much as I complain, I do love the kids) and, as my husband often points out, I could always quit writing. Except I can’t. Writing is my passion and my therapy. Literally the one thing that keeps me sane in a world that often depresses and confuses me. So I do the best I can. I have sacrificed a lot to be able to write during the school year including some things I used to love doing and I had to learn to say no even when people play the guilt game on you. And then there are those days when no matter how much you try you just can’t write and I’m learning that it’s okay.
So yes, there is no point in stressing about things we can’t control. Instead, just try to work with what you can and don’t drive yourself crazy 🙂
Great post, Paula.
‘Writing of course, I could stop at any time.’ Don’t be ridiculous, woman. 😀 It’s too much a part of you to ever give it up. The cat carrier could have been built for an enormous cat with 30 tiny kittens, all the other problems can go in a book and be magically turned into HEA, and the reciprocal hug is winging its way to you on the back of a friendly dragon.
Great post Paula! I can so relate to all of this! I am constantly torn between never wanting to give up and wanting to give up and get a proper job! I constantly feel I am failing at everything but I try not to listen to those negative and cruel voices in my head and just carry on, day by day. It’s not easy though.
I can totally identify with you. I haven’t been writing the sequel for One more smile… since early August as I’ve been struggling with myself and other people’s behaviour towards me causing me to feel depressed and not in the mood of writing. Luckily, I have started teaching which has helped me change mood and now even if there are chores to do at home I leave them for some other time and concentrate on my writing.
I think I’m doing well, especially if you consider that I’ve reached 56.000 words in 1 1/2 year!
That’s a miracle.
No matter what happens in our life, we should not give up. Instead, we must carry on till we feel content with ourselves that today we accomplished something.