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I often make the comment that I have now rendered myself completely unemployable. It is only partly in jest. I now cannot believe how much of my working life I have spent marching to the beat of someone else’s drum. I cannot believe the Pavlovian response I have to the sound of a bell. It’s lunchtime… you have twenty minutes to eat your lunch starting from NOW! But I’m not hungry at 12:15. But I will be by 4:00 if I don’t eat while everyone else does.

After two years I am slowly shaking that one off. I eat when I want. Mostly.

I also go to bed when I want, and get up when I want. I have discovered that the frequent insomnia is fading. I can now sleep 6-7 hours at a stretch, but its usually from 2am-9am ish. When I was working in school I was sometimes lucky to get 3-4 hrs in total. I am sometimes quite productive in those quiet hours after 11pm. Maybe it is to do with that phenomena I wrote of in the last post, being unobserved and letting my mind wander…?

I can now follow my own rhythms. I cannot now conceive of doing a “proper job” ever again. (fingers crossed I never have to) The workings of my body and mind and yes, including hormones, now dictate what happens during most days (I do have days when I work freelance for other people, but they are not too intrusive – I do recognise that some money has to be earned!).

Yesterday I had a bee in my bonnet about a proposal that had been sat taunting me on both my physical and virtual desktops for about a year. I re-read it, and decided with minimal tweaking it was still valid and workable and actually would be a good thing to do. So I tweaked, rewrote, re-formatted and sent it off. Just like that! In about an hour it was done, and in someone else’s inbox. My mind was in that place, so it was easy. I recognised that I was in the right frame of mind, so decided to capitalise on it and I wrote two more proposals and sent those off too. POOOFF! just like that. I then felt a bit sick and shaky and had to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory with some toast just to calm myself.

One day last week I did binge housework. I cleaned all the upstairs rooms in a mad fit in my pyjamas before breakfast, thinking that once I went downstairs I would be distracted by something else and it wouldn’t get done.

I know that some people thrive on routine (I’m talking about you Nicki Kelly!) but I’m not one of them. I thrive on whim, reaction, inspiration, and occasional bloody-minded stubbornness. On Saturday, once again unobserved, I plugged in my looper. I was determined to sort it so that I could record my singing on top of all the loops, through GarageBand. After an hour of RREEEAALLLY bad language, I got it sussed. So I spent the next six hours singing, looping, recording, playing. The output, I have to tell you, was bloody shocking. But no one was listening so it didn’t matter did it? It was six hours of totally unselfconscious play. I was in the zone, in a state of flow. I tried out all sorts of things that didn’t work, and a few things that did, but were unfortunately out of tune or the timing was off. None of these things matter. What mattered was doing it. Learning curve zoomed up!

The ability to do these things guided by when your mind and body are in the best possible condition to do so, is a real luxury. The quality of my work has gone up because of this ability to react and respond. One week out of four, as a woman of 55, I am pretty bloody useless. Pun unintended, but I shall leave it be. Those weeks consist of tea, hot water bottles, paracetamol, sleeping through continuously broadcast episodes of BBT, and anti-social belligerence. I let it happen. I try not to make decisions. A couple of days later I’m fine. Productivity increases two-fold, and time is made up. I’ve been reading things lately about the gradual removal of the taboos surrounding menstruation and the menopause. I’m joining in by not editing the above pun. I am acknowledging the rhythms of my body. There are some jobs which have to be done within a certain timeframe, but there are also jobs women could do as and when they felt more able. On some days, a twelve hour shift is not only possible, but relished. Other days are best signed off. An acknowledgement of this in the work place would make a huge difference I’m sure. By saying a salary is for so many hours a month rather than 7 hours 24 minutes a day would be worth doing maybe? Although… does the synchronisation of cycles really happen to women who work together? Would everyone be “out of office” at the same time?

 

This is clearly a much bigger issue. My point is, that I am now able to strike while my iron is hot. It is my iron, not anyone else’s. If you want to borrow it you can sod off. I wouldn’t give up this sort of freedom without a big old fight… and the person who picks the fight had better check my calendar before taking me on!


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