Falling Down & Getting What We Need
15th August 2018
The right projects and people come into your life at the right time.
Earlier this year my youngest nephew turned seven. I met him and my brother at the park for an ice-cream and a demonstration of how one rides a new purple bike without any stabilisers, dontcha know? He looked super cool in his skinny jeans and skater dude helmet but when it came down to putting his foot on the peddle, he was tentative. At first he was wobbly without my brother’s help and that’s sort of how I feel as I write to you. Let me explain.
It’s been a while since I sent a thoughtful note and even longer since I recorded a podcast interview. I’ve been sick in my head and sick in my stomach, so for the first half of this year I retreated from the world in order to get better. I left the house for strolls in the immediate vicinity, for groceries, for therapy and medical appointments. I spent much time not sleeping at night and feeling useless during the day. I wrote a lot, I binged on Netflix (but didn’t binge on many of my favourite foods thanks to my gastric issues). I started giving away my possessions. I cancelled walkshops. I cancelled on friends. I took medication for the first time and hated to admit it helped. It is still helping.
My brother and close friends helped me during the moments when it seemed I’d fallen so hard I couldn’t get back up. I’m coming through it all and reflecting on how the right projects and people come into your life when you most need them. Soon I’ll be nipping along the path happily, just like my darling nephew now he’s a BMX expert.
The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places.
– Ernest Hemingway, novelist and journalist
The projects included writing about animal therapy for Department Store for the Mind’s forthcoming books. I discovered how cats can make us more mindful thanks to Susannah and Cat; I interviewed many caregivers about how hen-keeping transforms the lives of older people and those suffering with dementia; and I learned how loving canines can unite communities. Can’t wait to share more of these stories with you when the books are out in the autumn.
There was also a photoshoot at Stepney City Farm where, for the blink of an eye, my beautiful editor Katie and I posed next to each other holding new feathery friends. My handling technique didn’t please ‘Duchess’ (who was really blooming heavy…).
Other welcome writing projects: sharing my London hidden gems for Balance magazine and becoming Life+Me’s urban wellness expert. Yes, you read that right. I’m proud to be part of the work Sam and her team is doing but it all seemed terribly ironic to be labeled an expert in wellness when I was struggling with clinical depression and physical illness and felt like an expert in Just Being a Bit Crap.
The thing is this: I experiment with what might help me live a healthy and purposeful life in my beloved London and I share what I find in the hope that something might inspire or inform another frazzled urbanite. I don’t claim to be someone who has it all sussed. ‘Fan of experimenting’ is perhaps a better title – ha!
As for the right people at the right time: three young graduates from India appeared on my doorstep one winter’s night. It’s a long story. Suffice to say we are an unlikely quartet of friends now. These IT gurus helped reignite my enthusiasm for my city, my language and life in general. Seeing the world through the lens of a twenty-four-year-old man who is a non-drinker from another part of the world, who had never left home before, never taken an international flight and who microwaved prawn mayo sarnies was the best medication I could have asked for. We shared stories of our countries and culture, we sang the theme tune to the Sound of Music and danced in my kitchen at 10pm on a Tuesday night. I introduced them to cake baking and they made me dosas. See things differently and feel better, right? Works for me.
Today I am getting back on my podcast bike, you know, if talking to men and women doing impactful stuff in the world were a two-wheeled thingy. And I’m creating new walkshop routes – one of my favourite things to do! Glad to be back.
This is an excerpt from a recent edition of Thoughtful Notes. See the full newsletter here and scroll to the bottom of this page to subscribe.