Money, money, money, it’s so funny in a rich man’s world. Hmm is it? Funny I mean, I guess it is if you have loads of it, then the concept of money could seem quite hilarious.
Many people I know wouldn’t want to live where I live. In casual conversation they tell me my street is ‘not safe’ or ‘I wouldn’t live there, not with my children’ or ‘I couldn’t – wouldn’t live in that neighbourhood’ and ‘I wouldn’t let my children walk around there at night’. These words sit squat, toad like, catching my thoughts as they fly by. Am I careless with my kids? Am I attracting ‘bad vibes’ or bringing my children up in a place they cannot thrive? Would they be ‘better off’ in a different neighbourhood, where there was more wealth? I choose, we choose, myself and my husband have chosen to prioritise spending time together as a family. I do work, but not full time, so I could earn more money but I chose to be around after school. I am now here in my house with a 15 and an 11 year old, their childhoods have been here in Bristol. Those early years cannot be re-played, summers frittered away splashing in paddling pools, ice-cream; winters cuddled cosy on sofas. I wonder if I have done them a disservice keeping them away from beaches and faraway places. I could have worked harder, faster, longer. The message I hear passed down from our government is ‘You are screwed. You with your dreamers head and creative abilities. Take the first job you are given. Earn more money. Earn more money. Earn more money…’
So when I also hear these messages unconsciously echoed from people I care about, I question whether I have made the right choices after all. I don’t have the money for holidays abroad or dinners out in restaurants and I’m already carving an extra notch on my belt, so I can make it a little tighter next year.
The thing is, I have consistently made the same choices for the last 41 years. I have prioritised my family and our creative dreams. Always believing in the importance of taking time when we need it; valuing and connecting with ourselves and our community. I like second hand things ingrained with history and seething with stories, I love people who want to make, re-create, are happy with a fire and good company. I want my children to know I am available and I can hear what’s important to them. Yet as I trawl through job applications, I feel the weight of my motherhood in the individual cells of my body, resting in my brain, exposing the time –gaps in my CV – when I stayed in this place, being here for my children.
I know we live a life of abundance in a multitude of ways, we don’t go hungry or cold, we have a roof over our heads and a garden to play in. With the chants of ‘money, money, money’ and ‘work faster, harder, longer’ shouting out from newspapers and TV screens, I look at the people around me, investing in their families, communities and creative dreams. I know I’m in the best place I could be right now and this is where I’ll stay for a long time to come.
Arvon has been shrouded in mystery for some years for me, I’d heard it’s only for real writers, people who take themselves seriously. I always presumed I wasn’t quite good enough to go. How do you know when you are a real writer? Most people I know have feelings about being ‘found out’ one day, classic ‘imposter syndrome’. I certainly feel I reside in a culture of ‘fake it, till you make it’, so how do you know when ‘it’ becomes real?
Adults like to play just as much as children – that’s a fact. Whether their playful nature is unlocked by downing six pints of cider and singing karaoke, or taking children to the park and swinging on the swings while they watch. It can be hard to play joyously when bills are pressing, squashing creativity flat. Harder still when no-one wants to come out and play because they are too busy playing computer games. Playing can become more elusive if the ‘right’ time is being sought after, ‘I’ll just go shopping’ or ‘I’ll just phone my sister’ or ‘I’ll just look at Facebook’. Before you know it time has passed and no fun has been had at all. With all these thoughts in my head, I went to go and talk to my friend Sam. We both decided we needed to get out more and not just to the pub. Open Mics beckoned and in Bristol we are spoilt for choice, there are:
Buried deep under piles of paper, I am busy researching for my next project. It’s easy to lose myself as ideas rain down on me so fast, I run in circles trying to catch them all. At the beginning of something new I once again feel like I know nothing at all. Words I’ve heard in workshops, such as, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing but it’s OK.’ spoken by Holly Stoppit, other sayings I have read like: ‘Leap and the net will appear’ – John Burroughs, float around in my head. So I become reckless and and seek connection and it’s in this space I stand when I offer a snippet of a story I wrote a while ago. A four minute beginning of a fantasy I often have, losing myself in a stationery department, sniffing paper and touching pens…
Are you sitting comfortably?
I go to a gym, nothing wrong with that right? I have got to that age where frankly if I don’t exercise the many years of drinking and body abuse I have indulged in, starts to show. There were many obstacles for me to overcome before I could go regularly to a gym, the obvious being body image. I never, NEVER, expected that I would voluntarily go to a place to exercise.