I made it through September. I feel a real sense of jubilation at that fact. September is always the hardest month. It is a month of transition from the endless days of summer to the full days of autumn. The mornings are very different to August mornings. Mornings are important to me, as I am sure is abundantly clear from this blog.
Lots of my social and voluntary groups take an August break and then we all try and catch up in September. The challenges we were able to hide from in August suddenly take centre stage again. The teachers start putting pressure on parents to ensure their children are all top of the class. Countdowns to Christmas pop up on my social media feeds – seriously they do, I have a Christmas-obsessed family.
Even the news becomes more serious again, I feel less able to pretend it’s all going to be ok. And as for work – those gentle hours of August where I have the time to think before responding, where I have the space for a bit of creativity – all gone and replaced by more emails and more demands on my brain than I can possibly cope with. And not enough space in my day to stop and work out which fire to fight first.
I also added to September some amazing family weekends and a week’s work travel to Rome, as well as another two weeks of travel in UK for work. What I have abandoned are my friends and Scouting. Which is why I now feel a joy at the new month. Everything that I got wrong last month can be put right in October. To all those who have not seen me for a month, or who are waiting for something from me – it’s a new month. All shall be well. I shall once again be efficient and available. Here’s to blind optimism induced by an arbitrary dating system.
I spend a good deal of energy trying to reduce our energy use as a family, I am regularly turning off lights, chargers, TVs, all that sort of thing. Sometimes though I forget to switch off my own brain. It’s not quite as easy as flicking a switch. Ooh it riles me when I write that – it really is as easy as flicking a switch, why is that so difficult for my housemates?
Anyway, back to switching off the brain. I finished a work day by continuing to work on a train journey and then switching to doing some volunteer work via emails and some thinking about a new project.
I didn’t stop when I got home and did some more thinking and emailing (apologies to those Scouts who I inundated with emails last night). I headed to bed later than I should have, but I did go through the usual rituals and I did unpack my case, so I thought I was well settled.
Nevertheless, I started to wake early, possible about 04.30 and my brain was already back in the Scout emails I had been occupied with last night. Not in a bad way, not worried or anxious, just back in that zone. I gave up trying to sleep at 05.30 and have done the emails before I can even settle to this. I don’t feel tired, I feel productive. I will not at 2pm this afternoon.
I am guessing that settling down to watch an hour or so of TV last night may have helped. It is these times that TV is perfect for moving my brain into a different space. It honestly did not occur to me to switch the TV on.
Or maybe I just need to accept that sometimes I just don’t sleep as well as I need to, and today will be hard, but it’s one tired day. I will of course be fine.
Not quite half way through a meetingtastic week and my brain is beginning to fail. So instead of waking up and trying to write a blog, I decided to do some volunteering this morning. This is totally possible because I am mainly volunteer in a sort of busman’s holiday style in a few realms.
I am a Scout – not a Scout Leader, I never go anywhere near a campfire (which makes me more sad than I had expected), but instead I am a Trustee of a Scout District. A large part of that role involves emails and phone calls and meetings. It’s about overseeing budget, checking that plans fit the aims of Scouting and everyone has the resources they need to create the amazing opportunities that the Scout movement gives to young people. Opportunities to have new experiences, to have fun and to challenge themselves with a ton of support from a group of volunteers dedicated to making sure they are safe and generally having a ball. I have the absolute luxury of feeling a small part of it whilst sipping coffee and writing emails. I am humbled by those who are much more active in their volunteering.
Scouts has an interesting image in the wider community, some still think it is a boys’ organisation – it is not and has not been for years. Some think its old fashioned in its activities. It’s not, but sometimes it is traditional, but I am not sure that is ever a bad thing. Surely a bit of a mix of activity is a really good thing? I have a general concern that we tend to encourage our children to focus on one activity far too early in life, Scouting offers the opportunity to try lots of things, some active, some less so. Some modern activities, some much more traditional, but not less interesting or useful. Tying knots stood my offspring in good stead when they did a course of technical theatre, the course tutors were amazed as the offspring capably tied the ropes for the pieces of set.
That said, they have also learnt a huge amount about team working, leadership and how to cope with challenge, as well as so many activities I cannot list them all here. My mantra for years has been “no, not paying for that, you can do it through Scouts, it will be SO much better”.
And all of this through the dedication of volunteers to the cause of making the world a safer, more enjoyable place for children. And looking at the leaders – young people who grow into enthusiastic citizens, keen to be an active part of their local community.