Why is it that there are some lessons in life that we never seem to learn?  I know that things I dread or expect to be difficult or painful are rarely as bad as I suspect, yet that doesn’t stop me panicking at the thought of them or allowing myself to imagine absolute worst case scenarios for them.  ‘Catastrophising’ is, I believe, the psychological term for this.  I certainly ‘catastrophised’ the PhD editing process that I’m currently undertaking.  I let myself be convinced – by myself, no-one else – that this process would involve me being locked in my room for a couple of months, working 18-hour days & having to put all other plans & commitments on hold until it was over.  Of course, it hasn’t worked out that way.  My days are much like before; I’m working hard but I know when I’ve had enough.  Nothing outside of work has been postponed or delayed; I’m not going to arrange any holidays or trips away until it’s finished, but I’ve not become a hermit. 

And today, two weeks into the editing, I’ve even taken a day off.  This was unimaginable when I allowed myself to indulge in doom & gloom fantasising but absolutely not a problem now that I can actually realistically assess my workload.  For my dad’s birthday, he wanted a family trip to Drayton Manor theme park (also home to Europe’s only ThomasLand – a crucial draw for our family as my four year old nephew is Thomas mad) and today was the day of the outing.  Seven of us having an amazing time: rides, picnic, ice cream, playtime, lemonade.  Just pure, uncomplicated fun.  It often seems popular to portray spending time with children as hellish punishment.  I suspect some people think that not liking children – slagging off prams in public places etc, as if only people who can walk should be allowed out of the house (the same people who make these comments often wouldn’t dream of saying something similarly critical of the space taken up by wheelchairs) – is somehow fashionable, making them seem avant garde or alternative.  Usually it just makes them look miserable & self-centred.  I admit that I find children hard work, but that is as much about my own shortcomings (especially in the patience department!) as it is about any inherent fault of theirs.  Anyway, I digress…

Spending time with my niece & nephew, aged nearly two and four, as well as their ten-year old cousin, was so uplifting: from my niece attempting to copy her cousin’s cartwheels (her version involved her bending over to touch the floor with both hands, lifting one leg up then the other leg.  Genius) to my nephew referring to one ride as the ‘crash, bang, wallop’ (he meant the dodgems!).  They were the perfect antidote to the introverted seriousness of my work, which I am now refreshed & ready to resume in the morning.  No panics, no catastrophising about deadlines, just sweet dreams about having my picture taken with the Fat Controller.  The best day off I could have wished for.

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