Count To 12
Time to consider
Here's the thing: I'm fine with change when it's on my terms. - when it's something like changing from having a hot tea in the afternoon, to having a nice cold drink because it's sunny outside.
But real proper change completely sucks, because there's a point where it's messy, and it feels like nothing can right itself again.
I'm moving offices this week and none of us are enjoying it. And yes I do have too much stuff and yes, I do hang on to too many papers and Mark can't understand why I have a stash of old letters and cards, but then again, I don't understand why he's got a box of old cables. To each his own, right?
And neither of the kids understand why we have boxes of old National Geographics and Mark and I both reply that they were in this house when we moved here and date back to 1937. But the kids don’t care about that. They only care about them being stashed in boxes under their beds.
But even with the boxes under the beds bonanza, there are still tons of boxes everywhere.
My office is - or rather was - just one wee room in a small house that had a studio and bathroom. I don’t really do in person classes any more, so I don’t need the studio. Also I’m heading off to do a bit of performing/showing off for much of the last part of this year, so I won’t even be at a desk, let alone an office.
It all makes complete sense. Except…
I like to find stuff where I left it - mostly, and often especially, because where I leave stuff generally doesn’t make sense to anybody else other than me. And I can’t find anything. And everything feels lost. And yes, I know it's a first world problem and I know that there are many people dealing with much much harsher challenges.
But I really liked that office - a fact I was completely unaware of until now, when I don't have it anymore.
Now I’ve moved into my new office - which used to be Mark’s. Mark is now ensconced somewhere behind the couch in the living room while we work out where to build an office pod in the backyard. Both the boys’ beds are a couple of inches taller because of the amount of boxes under them - and Arthur who liked to come and nap in my old office and did his best to stay away from Mark’s office, now wanders between both with a “What the Hell are you thinking?” expression, to which I reply “I don’t know.”
So I’ve been doing a lot of counting to 12.
When I was sick and genuinely had something real to complain about, a doctor friend told me that the body takes 12 weeks to properly adapt to anything. So, if you break a bone, it generally heals in around 12 weeks. With cancer, they check what the progress is generally every 12 weeks. 12 weeks is enough time for change to happen. So, after each procedure, I’d give myself 12 weeks to allow the recovery to happen, rather than stress about all the ‘could bes’ along the way.
It worked so well for me then, I’ve carried on using the rule of 12. When I really want to say something out of just plain annoyance, I count 12 seconds. When I realize I need to stop for 5 minutes, I take 12 and properly reset. I use 12 hours when I’m waiting for the answer for something, or when I need to make a big decision. For 12 hours I willfully do not stress, and amazingly after that wee break from obsessing, the answer usually comes to my mind fairly easily.
I’m using 12 days for times like now. Acknowledging and expecting 12 days of probable chaos, allows me to remember how small the issue really is. Even though when I look around everything might feel out of whack, it’s not really. It will pass.
I use the 12 weeks rule all the time for work projects because writing can often feel a bit like chipping away at a mountain of rock with a teaspoon. But if you give yourself 12 weeks you will always have a clearer view of what is. It allows me to give myself time to learn.
I started writing this blog because I felt like I wanted to connect in some way outside of social media, but I was also worried about how vulnerable that might make me. Mark found me this Substack platform, and though I wasn’t sure how to use it, I figured I’d hand it over to the 12 week rule.
On week 11, three different people pledged money for me to continue. I had no idea what that meant but apparently Substack had already suggested to readers how much they could pledge, and they did. I wanted to go round to those three peoples’ houses personally and apologize for my unworthiness, and tell them the spoon and the cliff face analogy and thank them for their belief in me.
However, rather than bother them with my ridiculous neediness, I gave myself 12 weeks to develop and change. I collected the pledges and in doing so added a paywall. Then more people started paying and so I had to think of something that made it worth their while. I focussed on building stuff up - audio recording and doing little extra pieces.
I moved into this third set of 12 with an open mind about changing and developing while being mindful of consistency ( Ooh, my mother would be proud of all my grown up thoughts).
But in life the unexpected is to be expected ( so much so, that it should be called the completely expected in the first place). Over the past few days, several people have written complaining about the paywall and stating why I shouldn’t do it because they can’t afford to sign up for it, and I have felt completely shitty. I started writing Notes From The Valley as a way to connect. What happens when that connection is painful? None of this was meant to diminish anybody. But equally, I hadn’t planned on being some sacrificial victim myself.
I took 12 hours to give myself time to consider. I moved more boxes and cleared a bit more space and organized what seem to be a ridiculous amount of whiteboard pens. (somebody in this house seems to have a whiteboard pen problem.)
And, sitting amongst my own chaos, the answer became clear.
Each of us is in the middle of our own 12 week journey, and adulting can be rough.
I can’t change the financial struggles or even the reasons behind the financial struggles that other people have. But I can completely keep my side of the street clean. Money does not define people. Thoughts and actions do.
I looked at the paywall and worked out how to change it to something I thought was more apt. Rather than the $80 Substack chose for me, it’s now $52 because that’s how many Sundays there are in a year. And I will carry on writing and some of it will be for free, and some of it won’t, and some people will pay and some people won’t, and that will be fine because we are all beautiful people doing the best we can.
I reminded myself of that as I let off a burst of expletives trying to lift the last box. On the top, it said, ‘misc personal.’ Why do I have to keep everything? It was so bloody heavy, I opened it.
At the top of the box was a fax (remember them?) from when I was in Australia in 1999. It was cheeky Happy Birthday message sent from someone in London. Someone I know I’ll never see again. It stopped me in my tracks.
None of this matters. None of it. We’re all just here for a blip. Whatever immovable object we’re facing, is not immovable because we’re sitting on a planet rotating at 1000 miles an hour. Nothing is permanent. Nothing. Whether we like it or not, we all get to move forward.
If you’re struggling right now, count to 12. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months. Whatever suits best. Try it. It will probably turn out ok.
When you're going through change, nothing is normal and there comes a point where you doubt anything will feel normal again. But it does.
Till next week
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Oof, what a week it’s been. Who knew that here in the kitchen of NFTV we were being such renegades? Anyway I do have such incredible gratitude for
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