Day 25. My friendship blind spot. #talkersblock

There’s one area of friendship where I really struggle. And I’m facing it a fair amount just at the moment.

I’m terrible with friends who are in trouble with illness. Or, indeed, friends who are busy with really good stuff like new babies.

I don’t know what to do. I find myself incapable of writing words in the cards of condolence or congratulation. I can’t bring myself to ring them. I don’t know how to help.

I would love to be the sort of person who can send cards, who turns up on the doorstep with casseroles and time set aside to clean and do the dishes. I would love to be able to take the kids for a while so my friend can go to medical appointments, or just have some time to rest. But I don’t know how to do it.

When I was a child, I didn’t learn that sort of stuff. My parents were, through circumstance, incredibly quiet, private people. We didn’t have family friends coming over to the house. In fact, we didn’t really have family friends. There was just us.

So I think I missed out on a whole section of education - social education. I just don’t know what to do.

This post, then, is an admission of my failings. It is an apology to all those people, all those dear friends that I have let down over the years. And it is a statement that I intend to do better.

Today I offered to help with childcare for a friend with potentially serious medical problems. And right now I am just about to go and buy a present for a friend who has a new baby. I am going to take it round in person. With a cake. And I shall make the tea. And then we’ll take it from there.

Wish me luck.

Day 28. All about not deciding. Yet. #talkersblock

Here we are. Day 28 of a 28 day commitment. Yesterday I wrote a post that asked the question ‘Where do I go from here?’ I genuinely didn’t know where to go after the commitment to #talkersblock had ended, so I decided that I would ask for advice. And some kind souls, including some who have bravely (foolishly?) read every single post, gave me their opinions. One, my friend Nicola, suggested that I should think about the purpose of continuing. Would it be the same purpose(s) as I had in starting the blog in the first place?

So in between teaching and other tasks I got to thinking about goals.

And I thought.

And I pondered.

And at the end of all that thinking… I don’t know. I don’t know what goal to set myself for the future with this blog.

And isn’t that the way with life generally? Life is ticking along. We have certain commitments, and we fulfil them, generally with very little thought or planning. But then life changes. Our circumstances change, or the terms of our commitment change. And we need to decide whether we are going to continue, or whether to quit.

But not all decisions are simple. Not all decisions can be made in an instant. And very often, because we feel we ought to be making the decision quickly, we make ourselves anxious and try to force the issue. Which just makes us feel stressed and prevents us from thinking clearly.

I am a past master of this kind of pressuring of myself. Which is why, this time, knowing my predilection for that kind of thing, I have decided to give myself plenty of time to decide what my goals are for this blog. Which means I will keep posting daily until I have decided, because there is no reason to change my actions until I have a good reason.

So, to finish, here aree the steps I am following:

1. I want to have goals for my behaviour (writing the blog)
2. I recognise that this may take time, because I want to make sure that the goals are realistic, achievable, and fit in with the other elements of my life
3. I will therefore give myself time to decide
4. I will not change my current behaviour until I have a reason to.

Those are my steps. Let me know if they resonate with you.

Day 7. Because we can do it all... #talkersblock

I got a nasty shock this afternoon when I went to my local library with my son.

We are a bit lackadaisical about our library usage. We love books and read a lot, but we don’t get to the library every week, preferring to load ourselves with a truckload of books and then savour them over a period of a fortnight or more.

So we hadn’t been to the library for a while. We sauntered in with our large bag full of books. The main counter was gone, replaced with a slimline desk. The DVD and CD shelves to the right as you enter have gone. They have been replaced by two large machines. There is a sign over these pieces of technology: self-check out.

I ignored the machines, and went over to the slimline desk. The librarian, a lovely woman who we’ve chatted to happily for years now, led us straight back to the machines. As she led us through how to use the machine to return our own books and check them out, she explained that these machines had been put here for our benefit. We won’t have to wait in a queue any more. We can do the whole process ourselves, instead of having to wait around for a librarian to do it for us.

This is the brave new world of libraries.

We’ll leave to one side the fact that the only reason why my local council have bought these machines is that they are ultimately cheaper than employing a satisfactory number of library staff. We will leave to one side the fact that the machines are unreliable, that they don’t always read the book information tags correctly. I could rant for hours (and probably will, to my husband) about this.

The point I want to make is this.

We are being sold a lie. We are being sold these self-serve machines on the basis that we can do it all ourselves, and that this will benefit us because it will be faster.

It will not be faster. It will not be easier.

We like to think that other people’s jobs look easy. ‘I could do that’, we say. 'If it was me, I’d do it much better than that.’ And then, for the most part, we don’t think any further. This is sheer arrogance, because we haven’t taken the time to think about what the other person actually does. We haven’t walked a mile in their moccasins. If we did, we would discover a hidden world of subtlety and finesse in the other person’s job that we would never have guessed was there.

The sad reality, as far as my local library goes, is that most people are going to struggle to make these machines work for them. The wait times will be longer, and the whole process of using the library made more stressful.

And all for the illusion of being able to do it all ourselves.