Episode 2: We are not the Energizer Bunny 🐰

In which our protagonist realises not all inputs give the same outputs

Hello there, dear reader. Welcome back to my world, where the journey to self(ish) continues apace - or at least as quickly as it can when the sky is grey and crying and the city is in a plague-driven lockdown apocalypse. That generally means I’ve been living the dream, and doing not much besides reading and writing. My inner child has been squee-ing, which is nice because she deserves a little love and attention for once. 

But in amongst all of this reflecting and reading and trying really hard to avoid doom-scrolling, I’m discovering. A lot. And not just from the writing and self-care books I’ve been devouring.

Here’s what I’m learning. Or, rather, here’s what I kind of knew but am now understanding much better and starting to take the right action on in a bid to make this thing called life work better for me (phew!): there is no need for slash and burn, or for shock and awe, or for any other kill-it-all metaphors you care to throw at me. There is no all-or-nothing, and energy recovery is not about cutting everything and everyone out of your life in a bid to start from scratch. Clean slate. You failed; try again. Doing that will only end up with the same mistakes being made over and over again, and put you back in the same position in a very quick time frame.

Trust me. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (It’s not even an ironically fun t-shirt.)

I’ve quit the job that’s killing me only to end up in a new one that’s even worse, once the honeymoon is over. I’ve moved to the other side of the world because I was stuck in a rut and needed a break, only to fall off the rails without a safety net. I went freelance for autonomy, only to forget how to say no to work. I have, of course, publicly declared that I’m in a bad space and need to look after myself, only to drown myself in deadlines and tell myself I didn’t have time for exercise or meditation - it’ll happen once I just get through this one last thing... 

This time needs to be different. This time IS different. I’ve learned from past mistakes, and I know more about my energy than ever before.

Yes, energy. Not in a woo woo way (though also, yes, in that way), but in a scientific, logical input-output kind of way. Just like you’re told by every dietmonger and every personal trainer you’ve ever had: what goes in and what goes out have a relationship. Have you ever sat and really examined what you get from what you give? I’ve been doing that - a lot of that - in recent weeks and I’m here to tell you that not all things are created equal, energetically speaking. 

We are not the human equivalent of the Energizer Bunny: We do not keep going and going and going. There is no battery we can switch out and start over with - crikey, I’ve been searching for that secret for years. 

The search is over; instead, I’ve been focusing on these steps in the last few weeks:

  • I’ve carefully analysed where I spend my time, with who and on what, to assess the energy exchange.

  • I’ve asked myself what I, personally, am getting out of the time and energy spent on these people and places.

  • I’ve asked myself: does that entity give me more than I get out of it? And if I give more than I get, am I comfortable with that exchange?

For those entities that are voluntary or non-essential, and that are more time-and-energy-suck than warm-and-fuzzy-bringing, I’m planning my escape. I’ve even had a few Houdini moments already. 

Let me be clear: when I speak about the give-and-take, I’m not looking at it in a mercenary way, nor in terms of commodities. Time and/or perceived effort is not the only barometer by which we should be judging these things; it’s also about energy. I never considered that before. I always assessed on time spent rather than what it took from my soul. Simply put, spending time with one group might bring me joy whereas another sucks my motivation; right now, while I’m in recovery, I need more of the former and much, much less of the latter. Just because I’ve extricated myself from one thing does not mean I’m extricating myself from all like things, especially not if those like things bring me joy and positive energy. I need those things to replenish my life. 

This is my self(ish) stance. It’s not rocket science, as they say, but it’s essential to recovery. At least it is for me, and at least for now.

Gratitude 🙏

One final note: I wanted to thank you, dear reader, for the support you’ve shown me since I issued the first episode last week. You’re all wonderful humans, and I’m grateful to have you in my life. I’d love to hear how you’re tackling your own journeys to self(ish). Hit reply on this email, or leave a comment below, depending on how you’re viewing this here missive. Until next week...

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PS yes it only took two weeks for me to work the bunny angle. Are you really that surprised?

On the stereo 🎧

Juliana Barwick, Healing is a Miracle

I discovered this thanks to BBC 6Music while driving home from the osteopath around New Year. It’s a glorious soundtrack to help my morning pages practice. 

Visual confirmation 📷

My life, my love, my furry child. She is my inspiration. She is a total diva, and doesn’t suffer fools (or picking-ups) gladly. We got her a giant cardboard maze for Christmas, and she’s already made it work better for her, redecorated to her own needs through manual work (i.e. ripping it to shreds). I watch her closely while I recuperate my energy, and I learn to listen and adapt.