Sunday, 29 November 2009

Musing on the Muse

I find it very hard to be creative at this time of the year; my inspiration seems to disappear as soon as the grey days start and rain falls. I've been doing some meditation on that and I think that my frustration at feeling unable to connect with inspiration gives my usual seasonal depression an additional edge. I'm no longer sure if it's the depression blocking my inspiration, or if my depression is partly fueled by my inability to create and both are caused by a third thing - ie the darkness.

My meditations and workings recently have all been centred in healing and health - for me and my family - but once we're all in good shape again, I'm planning to start meditations on inspiration and seeking my Muse again. For me, meditations on the sun seem a good place to start, but I wondered what other people use to kick-start their creativity while having a dry spell?

Obviously, being out in nature helps, but due to my back injury that has been difficult recently. This injury and our recent combined family ill-health have been a real shock to the system. It is scary quite how vulnerable we are, and how much of our carefully ordered life falls apart when I'm not very mobile even for a short while.

I think confidence has a certain amount to do with inspiration as well - or maybe it's just that confidence enhances my receptiveness to inspiration. I'll tend to question it less and act on it more when I'm feeling good about myself and my abilities. This is clearly also linked to my depression. Recently I read a certain famous series of books which, despite being bestsellers, are *really* badly written and it really knocked my confidence for several weeks. What is the point of spending years learning and practising my writing (and still not being published) when other people can get such badly written and derivative drivel published and have such a huge volume of sales?

Time is another factor. Sometimes I get a moment of inspiration but I'm in the middle of shopping, or doing some activity with the kids. If I was single with no ties or responsibilities I could write whenever the mood struck, through the night, without worrying about getting meals. I know these mundane things shouldn't interfere, but realistically they do. My kids have a prior claim on me, we all have to eat. Since my writing isn't bringing in any money, perhaps the time I spend doing it is self-indulgent and I shouldn't be trying to tempt the Muse at all. Maybe I should be glad I can't seem to write at the moment, and use the time to do some actual paid work.

I think I'm having an inspiration crisis, so I need to meditate on that. Any thoughts or wishes welcome!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Children, Schools & Families Bill

For those who may not have heard of this, it is a Government Bill which introduces all kinds of new things for parents, schools and home educators. For example, schools will have the right to restrain your child without your permission or even knowledge. Parents will have to sign contracts with the school which usurp parental choices in education (and also in family time), and may impose fines on parents not complying.

Not to mention the part about home education which gives local authorities a power to enter homes and interview children alone which even the police do not have unless they have suspicion based on eveidence that a serious crime has taken place.

This bill, if it becomes law, will fundamentally change the balance of power between the state and parents in favour of the state. Do you think this won't affect you? Think again. It will affect anyone with children in this country. They're starting with the home educators because we are a minority, and one that many people are suspicious of, at that. But if this bill goes through, it's only a matter of time before *all* parents are CRB checked in order to look after their own children, before health visitor visits become compulsory, before the state is able to tell you which school your children must go to, what qualifications they have to take, who they can and can't see in their family time, before the state can inspect *all* parents to check on their 'suitability' against a state measurement.

Don't let this happen. Sign the latest petition to keep family life free of state control, here.


First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Better & Worse

We seem to have a had a real catalogue of disasters since my last post - most of them relatively minor (but annoying!) domestic problems such as the light bulb in the fridge blowing, the doorbell falling off and some parts disappearing in the night, the handle of my daughter's window breaking meaning we can't open the window.

Others have been more worrying - another round of colds meaning none of us get any sleep, the fact that fell down the stairs getting up with my son in the night and hurt my back quite badly. This last one has set back many other things too - planting the rest of my onions and garlic, getting parts and mending the items damaged in the recent wave of domestic disasters.

It's very frustrating to be able to see what needs doing, have the time to sort it, but be unable to walk or cycle to the hardware shop, not to mention being unable to bend down or lean over to do the work itself.

But on the other hand, it was really nice to have a friend round yesterday and chat about stuff that had nothing to do with the kids or their education. Hooray for talking about other stuff!

And I also had a builder from a local green construction firm round to give us some advice about all our damp and condensation problems. I wasn't sure what to expect - maybe a hard sell for their firm to come and sort things out? But no, he was incredibly nice and incredibly patient. He looked at all the problem areas and gave me his opinion on what to do to sort them out. By the time he left, I had a list of stuff which would all help, in order of priority and in order of expense. None of the things were that expensive, a lot of it we could do ourselves, and one suggestion he made seems to have helped already, overnight. So, I'm feeling a bit better about the house now, hoping we can stop the damp and mould in its tracks. It's been a real weight off my mind, I had been so stressed about it all.

This year is really getting away from me though. I can't believe it's almost my birthday again. I'm determined to actually do something nice this year as last year everyone had a sickness bug for several weeks around my birthday and we couldn't do anything at all. Maybe a bit of celebrating in the greyness will help.

This post is brought to you courtesy of Philips Bright Light my cheery winter breakfast companion which, together with a couple of days of sunshine, is helping me continue on my weary way with at least a thread of humour...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


As you may know, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. People don't really tend to take this very seriously, I've found. After all, doesn't everyone get a bit down in winter? Well, yes, probably in our country most people do, but what I get is actual SAD, real dperession, which I struggle with most winters.

And this winter, it's set in very early due to the dull weather and being unable to get out of the house very little the last few weeks due to illness in our house. Winston Churchill wrote about his depression as being a 'black dog', but I find mine to be more of dull grey fog which settles over me and muffles everything. I find I lose my creativity and inspiration which also has a knock-on effect of its own on my mood. I feel exhausted all the time but when I go to bed I can't sleep for ages. Then in the morning I can't wake up and feel really sluggish. That's if I'm lucky enough to get a full night's sleep at the moment. I find that getting enough sleep and in a regular pattern can really help the SAD, but my son seems determined to deprive me of this right now, thus making everything much worse.

Another reason for the early onset this year is that my son has finally been cutting down on the breastfeeding - I'm losing out on all that lovely, mood-enhancing oxytocin from those long early morning feeds we used to have. And my body doesn't seem very good at producing mood-enhancing chemicals on its own.

I find myself craving all the things which I know from previous experience actually makes the SAD worse - chocolate, sugary and stodgy foods, staying in bed in the morning for hours given half a chance, giving up trying to achieve anything. I know that regular bed time and getting up time, enough sleep, good food, chocolate only in moderation actually help, but I can't help but think 'oh who cares? I can't be bothered'. It all seems such an effort.

Every day I drag myself out of bed and force myself to do all the things I should be doing - cooking, shopping, studying, allotment - all the jobs to keep the house running well but my heart just isn't in it right now. It just all feels dull and grey and thankless and without end or satisfaction. I can't manage to write.

I should probably dig out my sunshine lamp, which I haven't need the last few years due to breastfeeding hormones and getting out in the daylight during the day a lot more - but I can't be bothered. I'm falling into fiction again to escape the nothingness of my own brain, but I'm not sure this is quite the healthiest thing either - living vicariously on other people's vividness and then feeling my own life to be colourless in comparison. I tried to summon up a bit of enthusiasm for my birthday, coming up soon, but making actual arrangements for doing anything remotely enjoyable just seems so difficult that it seems easier to let it go by, even though I would actually like to mark it somehow.

I'm hoping for a sunny day soon to lift this feeling before it sets in for the whole winter. I don't want to feel like this any more. I'm sick of making the effort to carry on as usual. If anyone can send me some sunshiney thoughts, I'd appreciate it. I'm struggling.