Saturday, 1 November 2008


It's been a busy couple of days in my brain and at my PC. A thought that had been wheedling for attention at the back of my mind suddendly burst into a loud chorus of conclusion on Thursday morning.
In May, I attended a brief seminar on how to progress in my career as a Breastfeeding Counsellor. The obvious next step was to enrol on the first module of an Educational Studies BA degree. For various administrative reasons, I had to get on with it in 2008 and I had to apply immediately. I am a sucker for any kind of "limited offer - hurry now" approach and was signed up without really thinking it through. (This is familiar: I all too frequently hear the words "I didn't really think it through," come out of my mouth!) Once committed, I could then use my favourite excuse: "Well, I'm stuck with it now so I'd better get on with it," not to think about it any more. There was no way I could not see it through as I had made a bit of a fool of myself last year starting, then withdrawing from and then re-applying to the Diploma. There were plenty of good reasons to do the course: it was interesting and intellectually challenging, it was about something I knew little about so there was plenty to learn, at the end of it I would be qualifed for a salaried role that I could fit part time round my children. I bought the books, I did the required work and I was fully prepared for the weekend workshop this weekend.
However, while I was on retreat, the a thought popped unbidden into my mind: "What if I used the 15 or so hours I spend on Breastfeeding Counselling each month to write ... ?"
I ran a breastfeeding clinic this week and was reminded how much it drains me.
I had a drink with one of my longest standing friends and heard myself say that I wasn't sure that being a Breastfeeding Counsellor is what God wants me to be doing right now.
So the doubts grew, until the fact that I was committed to a course, with a weekend workshop this weekend, did not seem sufficient reason to spend more time and energy walking along a path I am not enjoying towards a destination I don't really want to get to! Of course, I felt very silly pulling out, and very much that I had disappointed people, but I could not continue to be funded for, and to spend time and energy on this study if I wasn't sure I wanted to continue as a Breastfeeding Counsellor.

It took a lot of time and e-mails on Thursday to extricate myself and to explain to my colleagues what I was doing. And then Kathy posted about National Novel Writing Month, and used Heartbreak Hill as a metaphor. Within moments I was mentally set to write a novel and run the Boston Marathon. Then I remembered that I have decided not to run a marathon next year, but maybe I could do the novel thing ....

It took me until Friday morning to reach the conclusion that stepping back as a Breastfeeding Counsellor was partly about being more available for my children, and also it will take a while to notice any extra time as I serve out my current commitments. Then Mrs G. mentioned National Blog Posting Month! Here was something I could do! I post pretty much every day, excluding Sundays, so not much more to add. Focussing on my blog for a month will begin to exercise those writer-ly muscles and, who knows, I may even appeal to some new readers.
So, thanks Kathy and Mrs G. Good luck to both of you, and here I go, posting every day for a month.


Anonymous said...

Good decision on the course. I can completely see how you were just being swept along. And how feelings of guilt and duty were getting in the way. It is hard to really work out what you want to do and set priorities. It sounds like writing, running, and spending time with your children are high on your list. Now it is just a matter of figuring out how to fit them together and how to best develop each area. Oh, and spiritual development is on there, too. Sorry I missed that.

One thing I wonder is whether serving others is something that might be a high priority for you. Others beyond your immediate family. That might be one area that the breastfeeding counselling was addressing and you might need to figure out how that bigger goal fits in order to work out the other stuff.

Hope that helps. It seems like you are on the right track for now. I look forward to daily posts.

Kathy said...


It's all material!!! Nothing is every wasted! Your future novel might involve a breastfeeding expert? I have never read a novel that featured one . . .oh, I so see the comedic elements of an ambitious lactation consultant who runs marathons while she leaks all over the course . . .but I must stop there. I have another novel to write!
I am proud of you!

Gaynor said...

Thanks for the encouragement, it is so refreshing after the sense of (understandable, I guess) disapproval from my tutor!! You are right, Jo, I do want to be involved in serving and one thing I may now be able to think about is becoming a small group leader in my church again, a role I let go of two years ago.

Gaynor said...

Also, I love the idea of "my future novel"!