H|A|L|T

HALT

 

People ask me, ‘when did I first know that I was a creative’. I answer, ‘I think the kids around me at school seemed to know before I did. I think my mother always knew, but we didn’t talk about it.’ I had my first creative experience when I was 12, so I was an early starter on that front and then it just went from strength to strength really. One minute you’re hanging a curtain, next you’re applying for summer jobs at interior design agencies in the big smoke. 

Being a creative person has it’s ups and it’s downs, quite literally. At times my brain feels like a packed semantic motorway full of professional racing drivers all on performance enhancing drugs. At times it all crashes down and the silence is profound.

 We didn’t have much money growing up, and by not much, I mean I remember getting my first job at 11. For me working wasn’t for pocket money but more a practical way of contributing to the weekly bills and improving our lives. Despite being on the breadline I remember going up to my bedroom regularly and thinking, ‘oh no, this will never do’, going to the garage and searching for old tins of paint or literally anything I could use to pep the look up of my space.  On one occasion all I had to hand was PVA glue and tinfoil. 3 hours later I had a very shiny cast iron fireplace with a fairy light insert. I used to visit the local charity auction and return home dragging three seater settees and all sorts. My poor mother was constantly bemused by what I expected to achieve with these tatty old bits of furniture. 

 

Throughout all of this though and as I carried on into adulthood my racing mind and hurricane like ability to swirl up a pile of ideas has remained the same. One of my pals thinks I’m like a Labrador – very useful with the right training. By that I assume she means as long as I keep my brain in check I can really get a project turned around nicely. Either that or we shouldn’t be friends.

 Labradors. Cute. When trained.
Labradors. Cute. When trained.

 

So this mind of mine has served me well over the years, but it has been a constant source of exhaustion. Sometimes I get home after a days blabbering and bartering with my unconscious and literally have no energy left for the person I should most prioritise. I can be so tired at night that even going up to bed feels an insurmountable journey. I long to live in a bungalow. 

 I blabber. A lot.
I blabber. A lot.

 

With all of this in mind ,anything that I can find that helps me on the daily to temper my frankly crazy mental state is always welcome. Because I am a Labrador, my attention span can be at worst non existent and at times negligible so I like short, sharp statements that keep me on track.  I recently heard of HALT and it really resonated. Hungry: being who I am I regularly forget to eat during the day (I totally make up for that in the evenings so don’t worry on that front). Angry: sometimes how I feel can stop me from being productive and actually that can quickly consume my days. Lonely: being self employed means a lot of time alone and this can rapidly have a knock on effect with how I feel without me even being aware. Tired: finally with the Grand Prix going through my head pretty much constantly that can really drain the batteries quite rapidly. 

 I love me an acronym. Not an anachronism which turns out to be something totally different. Who knew!?
I love me an acronym. Not an anachronism which turns out to be something totally different. Who knew!?

 

HALT. Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. There is such power in just referring to this throughout your day when you are going about your business. Being aware of how you feel is in itself empowering. Even if there is nothing that we can do about it in the immediate. Maybe you can’t have a cheeky wee nap right now, but for sure if you can acknowledge how you feel then you can make informed decisions about what your next step should be. Loneliness is not a preserve of the old.  I can feel lonely many times throughout the day. We live in a world of social media where most believe that companionship is offered through these channels. It is not. There is nothing like hearing the voice of another that cares for you. There is nothing that will replace actual, physical human interaction. Just even going to the corner shop to buy milk can make you feel better than 6 hours of desperately trying to find comfort in whatever is your app of choice. Find someone. Talk.

 

I go back to HALT several times throughout the day now and just check in with it. I tag thirsty in with hungry because I’m a right bitch to be around when I’m dehydrated.

 

Try it. HALT. It’s good for what ails ya!

Happiness

 

I got to thinking the other day about happiness and how I don’t really connect with it in the way I used to. This isn’t to say I am not a ‘happy’ person. It’s just that the older you get it seems to be a more and more convoluted concept. 

 

I feel guilt for this at times because lets face it I have very, very little to complain about. I have love, health and a roof over my head.

 

I was going through what I meant with my partner the other day and the best way I could put it is through the terms of childhood.  Everything is so cut and shut when you’re a kid. When you’re at school, you’re not happy because you’re at school. That’s the law. The bell rings to go home, and your happiness light ignites. Dinner time arrives and maybe it’s something you don’t really want to eat but you know you have to or there will be hell to pay so you’re not happy. Standard. But then you’re happy again after tea when you can play. Unhappiness comes around again when it’s bedtime because you don’t want to go to bed yet. It all seemed very straight forward until exam time came and you became aware of this crazy little fuzzy monster called stress. That blew things out of the water didn’t it! Sleepless nights!?  They were a special occasion reserved only for night terrors as a small child.

 

From then on out the water just seems to become more and more cloudy, as adulthood begins to introduce to you the smörgåsbord of bonkers things that you need to deal with. Happiness starts to turn into an abstract concept until it fully evolves into a vapour that almost floats above you from time to time. In the past I have actually found myself at times thinking ‘this is when I should be happy, so this is me being happy’. What the fuck is that all about!?

 

They say life is what happens when you’re making plans and that phrase resonates so strongly with me nowadays. I’m so busy battering on with everything I think it would be a good idea do to that I had lost the ability to slow right down and actually feel feelings. Apart from the negative ones obviously. I’ve totally nailed them. Not bragging.

 

So recently I’ve been working at actually enjoying the good things when they happen. Sadly it does not come naturally to me anymore I have to confess. Fuck that though. I am going back to carefree childsville, stopping off at laugh until you cry and passing through the impossibly large smiles neighbourhood. Whatever adulthood has done to my happiness connectivity I am determined to reverse. There are some things that I can see now I need to adjust. Some parts of my life that are just basically not conducive to the feelings I want to have now so I’ll be tweaking away over the coming weeks and months but I’ll be damned if I’ve spent my life working so hard to get to this stage only to miss out on exactly what’s in front of me.

 

I do often wonder if I am alone in this. Do other people just connect with happiness in the same way they did as children? Is it just me? 

 

So if you see me walking down the street with a goofy smile plastered across my face, that’s just me going through therapy! Either that or I’ve finally lost it. Either is very possible at this stage.

 

Let me know what you think will you?