If necessity is the mother of invention, that’s why I started this blog. When I realised I needed to get more out of my days and stop putting stuff off, I figured that writing about it would lock me in to a kind of mental arrangement with myself. I hate the expression ‘mindful living’ – it sounds like something you’d do at a yoga retreat, but living in a considered way and not taking for granted what you’ve got, really is the crux of it.
You see, 2016 was not a great year for me. Being freelance, I can more or less control the volume of my work. So when we moved house and my daughter started school, I took the odd commission here, did the odd shift there but, professionally, nothing over-stretching. I blamed the house. Being something of a work in progress, I convinced myself that project managing renovations was more important than writing features or securing interviews, and prioritised letting joiners in and collecting carpet samples over everything else. Truthfully, I could have been doing more. I mean, I made a lot of tea – the kettle was never bloody off, but I wasn’t doing anything meaningful. I might not have been sitting around on my arse all day playing Candy Crush but my Modus Operandi was sedentary. I had stopped being productive and it was unfamiliar territory.
And then something happened. A close friend’s mum got ill and it shook the foundations of our world. Suddenly, it struck me how much I’d been taking for granted. Realising, guiltily, that I’d been squandering my time, letting it drip by like a leaky tap, I gave myself a shake. Days were passing by and I had nothing to show for them. Even simple pleasures like watching films and reading books had become obsolete. Taking procrastination to the next level, it appeared the less I was doing, the less I was motivated to do. I was not living life to the max. In fact, disconnecting from things I once deemed important, I was sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand of minutiae and I’d got stuck.
It got me thinking. How hard would it be to claw back control of my time and complete one fulfilling activity a day – one thing that added value to that day or bettered me as a person. Watch a wildlife documentary, perhaps? Make a cake I’d never baked before? Do a spin class? In addition to this, could I learn one new skill a week? Like, say, speed reading. If not a skill, maybe something like overcoming a fear: scooping a spider out of the bath with my bare hands. Too often we approach life’s obstacles negatively because we assume we’re incapable of dealing with them. We say: ‘I can’t’ even before considering whether we can, defaulting to the path of least resistance through fear or lack of faith in our potential.
Well. It turned out that the more I rolled up my sleeves and ‘had a go’, the more productive and, consequently, happier I became. And it was catching. People seemed to buy into the philosophy and adopted the sentiment for themselves. Emails and messages came telling me of the marathons that were being run, the cakes that were being decorated. My Instagram followers were particularly supportive and this, in turn, lead to the launch of the She Can & She Does Facebook page. The page’s mandate is to filter feelgood stories and news of female accomplishment, and its sister group is an arena where women can share everything from advice on tax returns to motivational memes. It’s the absolute product of women building up other women, and me noticing that such a platform didn’t really exist – unless you’re in the mum gang.
But just as I was told that my pursuits were inspiring others to get busy and stop putting stuff off, I found myself being impressed by the achievements of others. That’s why I’ll be blogging a Q&A Case File with a different woman who personifies the phrase ‘She Can & She Does’ every fortnight.
It’s no coincidence that my web address nods to the Sports England campaign that claims to have got 1.6 million women exercising: I’ve had Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On ringing in my ears the whole time I’ve been writing this post. It’s like a call to arms; it gets the adrenaline pumping. I want to be the best person I can possibly be, and I want everyone else to get the bug.