Category Archives: Life

The Stoic’s Guide to 2017

Starting a New Year is filled with anticipatory anxiety. Who will die this year?  Will I lose the weight this year? Will I find the perfect lover? Will I clear out the junk drawer?

So many expectations and yet so many surprises come and smash us in the face year after year and we’re in shock. This wasn’t on the “To-Do list,” we moan. Of course, it wasn’t on any list, no one writes down:

  • Bury Dad
  • Find lump
  • Attempt suicide
  • Have car crash
  • Get robbed.

I find standard goal setting is futile in an uncertain world. My 2016 was better because I had no idea what my year would look like, instead, I just worked hard on myself and stayed open to opportunities,  and I certainly didn’t have any presumptions about what the year was supposed to bring me.  I am not #blessed, as some like to write on Instagram. As though they were chosen above all other to have such bliss enter their life. I am not blessed. And for the record neither are you.

I have experienced two years of drama, and every time another blow came, I just shook it off and kept going. Not because I am so amazing but because I didn’t have a choice.

So, if I have learned anything from my two years of cataclysm and calamity, it is simply that you cannot predict an outcome, you can only control your role in the process and nothing more.

This week, I spoke to a friend whose child is undergoing serious and potentially life ending treatment for cancer.

“Stoicism wins the day. You can control your part of the process in your son’s life but nothing more. Stay centered and process driven. 🏹🏆”

Now here is my list on how to set goals like a Stoic and be a process driven machine.

  1. Write down what you want to do.
  2. Assess the current state of your situation.
  3. Where are your weaknesses?
  4. Where do you need to improve?
  5. What can you do to turn the weaknesses into strengths?
  6. How will your life have to change?
  7. What will you do when people question or even mock you?
  8. And finally, how will achieving this goal push you towards being the person you want to be?

Let’s look at this in relation to  a real goal.

Perhaps your goal is to have a book published.

If you are setting stoic goals, the goal would be not to be published but instead, the noble goal of bringing you closer to your fated self.  To write something that you are proud of,  that you hope will help people or bring enjoyment to others.

To write something that is the result of you pushing yourself to become a better writer with each draft, to assess your writing, and your process and see where it can improve.

Take a writing course, read more, make more time to do both of these, so perhaps you have to give up watching television two nights of the week. Will your loved ones support you in this? Will they step up to help you reach the goals of becoming a focused, principled, learned writer?

Get it?

And will this bring you to the initial, naive goal of being published? Who knows? If the Fates allow, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is- make the goal noble, make the process stringent, and change your life to support this. The rest is up to destiny, and after the clusterfuck of 2016 we have learned that life turns on a dime and the best we can do is just make progress however we can, with harm to none and the hope that we will be closer to our true selves by the end of 2017.

Peace to you and may 2017 bring you to your best self.

 

Kate

x

 

 

 

 

Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice*

God, hasn’t it been a while? I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without posting. I started several posts over the past months but all of them were bullshit.

I was thinking about blogging yesterday, and why we read blogs and why we write them.

For me, there are two types of blogger. The one who shows you the sweetened condensed version of life, the one who skates over the nasty sinkholes in life, and reading their blog is like dipping your hot feet into a cool stream. You want their peaches and cream life, and the simple perfection of their Instagram-worthy moments.

Then there are the bloggers who are brutally honest about those potholes. They tell you about the nasty shadows that live down there and warn you about what will happen if fall in. They are in and out of those potholes, and reading their posts is painful and addictive. You want to help them, you worry for them, but you can’t read them often because their lives are just so deeply difficult.

I don’t know where my blog fits into that. I don’t have a brand. I should have one, according to publishers and so on, but I don’t because my life is a shift between refreshing cool streams and dark sinkholes.

I could tell you about the past few months of moving house, and not really liking it here because it’s not for very long, and the neighbors are fuckwits, one of whom quoted local council by-laws at me the day we moved in, or the one across the road who drove into a friends car and then took off without a note or word.

And I could tell you about writing four scripts for TV shows and loving every single minute of it, and being able to work with my dear friend Edwina Exton, which is us just drinking cup of tea and laughing at each other and then writing down the jokes. And how I wonder if I will ever be asked to write more.

I could tell you about deeply personal struggles that I’m still wrestling with, but I don’t want to give them any airtime.

I could tell you about my sweetpeas which have finally blossomed and the baby raven we have been feeding who now plays with Bert the dog in the back yard.

I could tell you about the three ideas I have for screen and book form, but then in the next sentence tell you I doubt that I will ever have any good ideas again.

I could tell you about my new job and how much I love the work, and in the next breath tell you I think everyone hates me and that I will be fired at any minute.

I could tell you about my perfect Saturday, pottering, resting, reading, cooking, but you won’t know that upstairs a loved one was sicker than I’ve seen in a long time, and my day was spent with one ear open for their calls from above.

I could tell you about how proud I am about my new book, and I know it’s the best one I’ve written, while knowing it’s not selling as it deserves due to decisions out of my hands.

I could tell you about the Saturday night I spent in a hospital, worrying for a friend of my kid, and the gratefulness I felt for my daughter coming to the hospital at 3am to wait with me. The juxtaposition of her winged eyeliner and her diamonte choker and hooped earring, against the stark walls, made the nurses smile as they passed her in the hallway.

I could tell you about the TV series I sold, and how I worry what they will do with it and if my ideas will be pushed aside.

And finally, I could tell you about the excitement of my girl heading overseas and applying for university interstate, and the overwhelming sense of loss that looms when I think of her not being in my house anymore.  That even writing that sentence caused my eyes to burn with hot tears.

This is life. Peaches and cream, and sinkholes galore.  I have come to learn about darkness and light in every moment.  Standing by my father’s body was the most painful yet beautiful moment. The deep love I got to share with my family over the eleven weeks of his illness was incredible. Seeing the astonishing love, support, and friendship that have surrounded friends who have had awful and invasive cancer in their lives making them feel so alone,  illustrates the dichotomy of life.

While I don’t know if anyone even reads this blog anymore, and I don’t say that so people tell me otherwise, there is so much on the web, why check in on a dormant blog, I do know it’s good for to read about other people’s lives for reference, especially when they’re honest about the sludgy moments and those confetti filled days.

So here I am again. One blog post at a time. One sinkhole and peach pie at a time.

It’s good to be back.

Happy Monday.

 

  • Title by E.M. Forster from A Room With A View.