Blogtacular coming up over the next few weeks, but I feel like some of what I took from the weekend needs some time to percolate before I share it. It was an intense weekend and one that, at this moment in time, feels like it was life-changing.
When I say 'life-changing' I do mean big changes - I came to a lot of big conclusions about my life and my future over the weekend that have resulted in pages and pages of notes, long chats with Rich and lots of plans. But, as Kate said in her Community talk, you have to wait until the story is ready.
The big story isn't ready yet.
So here are the little stories.
I have been lonely.
Portsmouth is a new place for me. I have never lived outside of North London and I've blogged before about leaving a place that is so much a part of who I am. I was lucky in coming here that we already have friends here, that I am not so far from London that I can't pop up to visit friends and family (and attend a blogging conference!).
But I am now in a 9 - 5 job that does not allow me the time I once had to spend time with the people I love. My evenings are truncated and my weekends often sleepy. I have been lonely.
You cannot be lonely with the women of Blogtacular around you. I have never before attended an event at which every single person there was ready with a smile. Spaces in groups are opened up, you are ushered in instead of shouldered out. I've been chatting to the women I met there since and realised that I don't have to be lonely here - there are so many great women on my doorstep with open hearts and arms that the sending of an email, a gentle 'I'd like to hang out with you again' feels safe and good.
I didn't take care of myself.
In struggling with finding time in this newly conformist lifestyle, I have let so very much go. I didn't knit as much, I often found myself rushing to catch up with writing this blog and, most destructively, I didn't work out.
The last couple of days, I have got back on my yoga mat. Every evening, I would have preferred to collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea and Harry Potter, but instead I rolled out my mat and showed the hell up for myself.
It hasn't been pretty.
My suppleness has abandoned me. My strong 10 push ups are down to a meagre shaking and feeble one. My limbs feel rigid and my spine like a lampost - there is just no give in me anymore. Perhaps this physical stiffness has contributed to a recent brittleness of mind. I cannot bend, so when the pressure piles on, I break instead.
But no more of that. I roll out my mat and afterwards I reward myself with lots of water and a salt scrub in a hot shower. Every day I'll bend a little more and that's good too.
I lost sight of myself.
In trying to make sense of whether what I'm doing right now is right for me, I lost sight of the bigger picture. I was so focused on the minutiae of income and savings and career ladders, that I didn't stop to think of how many of those things are concerns of mine and how many are things that the world thinks ought to concern me.
Goodness and kindness, curiosity and adventure and play, creativity and wellbeing. These are the things that matter to me, that I consider the building blocks of a successful life for me.
The sending of an email, the daily rolling out of my yoga mat, the salt scrubs, the stitch here and there on a project, the scrawled pages of the thoughts in my head that are no longer just dreams but plans, real emerging step-by-step honest-to-goodness plans. All of these are small victories, but each is a stepping stone back to myself and forward into something better for me.
I'll blog later about the day itself. The bigger story will come later still, when it is ready. Right now, despite the plan, it is very much a beautiful dream that isn't quite ready for public scrutiny.
For now, I'm just grateful for the small victories.
With thanks to Will Ireland and Mollie Makes for the pics.