Today is Black Monday. It is the day I begin to hunker down with my box of paperwork and my computer files and put together my ten thousand page document to send to my tax accountant. Okay, I exaggerate just a little. But did I mention that it is also time for my annual CPD declaration? Yes, its the time when I also have to gather evidence of all the courses I have done to satisfy my professional body that I am meeting the minimum requirements for continuing professional development.
I have put these filings off again. There is no reason I didn’t do them sooner. In fact, it would have been helpful, had I done it sooner. But, I didn’t. And now, I must pay the price of pain as I enter the dark abyss of filing deadlines that is my personal hell.
I jest but I thought I’d better write my gratitude post before I get grumpy because I am up to my ears in electronic data filing while everyone else is out skating and drinking mulled wine and falling in love and kissing under misletoe. Well, at least, it often feels that way.
And as much as I hate all this preparation, I am grateful for my accountant. I am grateful for the preparation he puts into helping his clients organise their information and it really does make it – if not enjoyable – at least easier to give him the information.
I am also grateful for my professional designations. They required an incredible amount of hard work and stress to achieve and a couple of weeks of training and documenting my training every year is a small price to pay to keep them current. I am grateful to AC who suggested I try to get qualified after my Master’s degree. I never wanted this vocation, but it has been able to pay the bills and I have been able to do some pretty interesting work unrelated to the original qualification simply because I have that professional designation behind my name. I am grateful for that.
I am grateful that I have the time to put all my documents together at the start of December instead of the end of December! I often get so tied up with end of year work in my place of employment that finding the time on a weekend and evenings is not easy. I am grateful that I’ve been able to find that time at the start of the month because this year is going to be a bit trickier, I think, and I may have to chase down some information.
Recently, I said to a friend that I have lost my joy. This has nothing to do with my current filing hell. Oh, I still find moments of joy every day but it really isn’t quite the way it used to be. I feel like I have stayed too long at a party and it has passed its peak. I seem to recall that last year at this time the weather was great and we had a lot more sunshine. I suspect that this has something to do with my mood.
Yesterday I went to the National Portrait Gallery. I woke up dizzy (and I still am dizzy but no flu is allowed to keep me down from the paperwork that must be done this week) but decided that I needed to get out anyway. I went to see the Taylor Wessing photography exhibition and prize winning photos. I was reminded of why I love photography. I am particularly drawn to portraits. I think it is because, as a writer, I am drawn to understanding the complexities of people. Portraits, if they are done well, can tell you a lot of information about the sitter and about the photographer.
I sat in the final room and took notes furiously on the images that captivated me. My favourite was not the winning image, although it did win 4th prize. There were so many associations with that image and it sparked the writing mind in me. I said I just had to sit on the bench and take notes and that spurred me to go back and write about my impressions of several of the other photos. Afterwards, I thanked the staff in the room and told them it was an excellent exhibition.
And although it was dark, wet and cold when I emerged from the gallery, I had found my joy again. When I think back to last year at this time, I realise that I raced through my writing to get outside and photograph things – anything – all depending on the light. My writing has become more of a focus over the last year and somehow other people’s visual art has overtaken my own. I need to get a little more balance back in my life. Yes, I love painting and sculpture and street art. But I lose myself and all sense of time behind the lens. For me, I enter into flow and I am in that thing we like to call Oneness.
For a few moments looking at those portraits, I was in that flow right there, with the photographers and my writer’s mind working overtime. I like their work, but I need to make some of my own; I miss chasing the light.
Finally, I come again to service and I have been a sounding board for a friend of mine who has a lot of anger and resentment. I have been a sounding board for 4 months now and I feel the energy growing denser rather than lifting with ‘being heard.’ So, I am going to stop being a sounding board and become more of a mirror. I think that sometimes we need our good friends to tell us when we are hosting a pity party and to help us to see another side to the tale we are telling ourselves. I hope that my shift will help my friend shift.
And I turn it over to you as we turn from November to December this week, and launch fully into a festive season, I am aware that our lives don’t always match what we think they should look like or what life in the films looks like. If the holiday season is hard for you, I encourage you to keep your gratitude journal every day. And just for today I will ask you to consider this: