I should have written this ages ago but it has been a funny old month and practically as soon as I came home from the blogging conference, the very last thing I had the energy to do was blog. In fact, I’ve barely opened my laptop for weeks; I can keep in touch on my phone and I’ve not had words to write so unless I’ve needed to print a maths test (!) the laptop just hasn’t appealed. And maybe, just maybe, some of all that also came from the stuff I learned about myself that weekend. It comes in two parts – me as I am and who I want to be from now on. (There is also discreet reference to purple dildos).
My ability to cope in social situations as a rule does not impress me; I’m small talk inept, I struggle badly anywhere with loud music (WHY,WHY WHY would they play music so loud at a place where people want to talk? We were nearly reduced to Twittering each other!) and I don’t really do well at being witty, entertaining or any of those things. Worse, I have a bit of a stupid ranking system in my head, which tends to assign people to being ‘socially out of my reach’ and I also assign them a ‘won’t be interested in me’ viewpoint too. How rude 😉
All that is a bit silly. I have fought and fought it over the years and I really do better at it now, but mostly when new environments and crowds come up, I have to really gird my loins and force myself to overcome my conviction that no one will want to talk to me.? What I learned that weekend is that in fact I can manage just fine in a place where I properly know almost no one, don’t have Max to protect me and have to stand on my own two feet. I had a great time; with my room mate, with me new friends, going places I didn’t know, getting chatting. From pub, to restaurant, to late night chatting in our room, to Dildo Decorating Party, I had so much fun. And all that was good.
What that proved to me, as really I’ve always known, is that you only are what you make of yourself. I knew who I wanted to meet. I wanted to meet Jay, and Tara and LauraChora and I got to spend my first evening with them, alongside people I had already got to know like Rachael and Josie and people I didn’t know I wanted to know but am now really glad I did. It would have been so easy to wallflower and not dare to tag along, but I did and I had a ball. When I was alone and lonely at school, it was because I didn’t know how to put myself into a group and so I alienated people. I think, at the age of 37, I may finally have overcome that.
On that first night, I also learned I am not the only person who can go the longest way in Christendom to any destination 😆 On the second night at said Dildo party, my biggest laugh was possibly at the person who said “you can tell you are a craft blogger“. I won a prize for that particular creation. I hope you are impressed. My prize has diamant??? trimmings. And buzzes. And I swear, if she doesn’t let CraftMerrily sponsor that party next year, we may never speak again.
Socially, the CyberMummy day itself was great, but very full on. I didn’t spend long enough speaking to Cara or Ella but did get to meet Sally, curl up with and accidentally insult Emily and ran giggling from a room with Ruth, who is variously of many sites but gave me one of her gorgeous business card holders. And there was Hannah, who really just made me laugh a lot. At the end of the day I found myself sat at a table with people who were friends, women I admire, speakers in the crowd sourced keynote, women who I know have really made change happen, write well, have created the careers I would like to move on to now. What i realised is that I had achieved a huge thing – believing I deserved to be sat with them.
But the conference itself, one particular part of it, utterly altered my perspective. Listening to the charity speakers talk and how they’ve used their blogs to raise awareness about desperate issues around the world, really clarified for me what I want to do with my writing. Lovely as freebies and sponsored posts are, I don’t court them and I don’t need them desperately. I get lots of that from my own successful internet business. I’m happy to do them, but I’m unlikely to ever try to create a business from doing them. But I listened to Josie and Sian and Rosie and I knew that I have reached a point in my life where I want to have something to say. A long time ago I joined a correspondence writing course but at 19, the flaw was I had nothing to write about. I’ve been passionate, and sometimes politically active, about home educating for 9 years here, but these days I could talk about cleft lips, or autism, or allergies or learning through doing or SCBU or losing a baby. I could help people. I write well enough, I have those experiences and it’s time I did something to use what voice I have to make some changes in the world so people do not go through some of the things we have been through, or at least go through them better.
I came away knowing that I didn’t need bags of freebies (I left most of it for the hotel staff) but I do want to be making some differences. This blog might not be a home education blog for much longer, but it will always be a body of experience, as I am – and it’s time to get off my backside and make that count somewhere. I’m already fortunate to know Josie a little but on the Sunday I also happened to get to have breakfast with Sian – who is just a ordinary person too and has made a difference. It was pause for thought. I’m not sure where I go from here, particularly with potential up and coming events, but I do know I need some focus, some new direction and to become an advocate for one of the things I am passionate about.
It led, finally, to a realisation about why I no longer feel so involved in the business. These days, PlayMerrily is Max’s and the team he has built arond him. I find it hard to get involved. I get brief flashes of excitement and then it goes again. I still love our business, the toys we sell and all of that, but I’m no longer driven by it. I realised on the train home that I’m an ideas person, a starter, a self employed work-aloner. I’m no longer passionate about dedicating myself to the business because I can’t see personal proof of my own efforts. Other people drive it. My goals have changed, what I like to do (home ed, write, think, make, do) are new. I’m not driven to make money any more.
In the end, that means I’m no longer who I was. I think probably that change has come from the experience of losing my baby boy and growing up another level too. But I need a new vision, something that I can be when none of these children need me any more.
I wonder what I should be?