Olympic Effort

The Olympics has got me thinking about what it means to achieve something. I find myself thinking a lot about achievement. What I want for my children. What makes my life worthwhile and what will define achievement in their lives, for them and for me – almost certainly likely to be two different things. How much is enough to have achieved in a lifetime for any individual? What constitutes satisfaction or a life worth living? Is it enough to have loved people well and to have been loved yourself? Is our measure of self worth purely connected to the messages we get from our family and environment early on or is there some external definition? Do we all have our own equivalent of an Olympic medal moment at some point. Most of us won’t. But can we adjust our dreams and define our personal achievement in other ways?

I worry about going back to work with three children under three. Until I quit a job a few years ago and spent 18 months doing my MA and whatever work I could get hold of to get by, I always felt my status and position at work defined my achievement. I don’t want to sell these much wanted children short by always being too busy. I particularly don’t want to spend my life being busy and stressed out by jobs that I don’t feel contribute much to society or even to my personal satisfaction. But perhaps this is a pipe dream. We all have to work and I want to work. I think I always will as it gives me a sense of achievement but I would be disappointed in myself if I never did anything but work in television. It’s not a bad career and it pays well considering but not for a whole life.

I’d like to see our new Herons Centre do well and build up a repertoire of interesting courses in creative and wellbeing related activities. I’d like to know that my effort and attention could
make that successful and be the basis for a future direction for the family business – one day it could make a great location for an arts retreat – but it won’t pay the bills in the short term. I’d like to carry on with my photography and do some freelance work but I know from the period when I stopped to do my MA it’s quite easy to get bits and pieces of work but not so easy to make it pay.

Most of all I don’t want my three children to remember me as someone who barely seemed interested in them and was hardly there. I feel Lucas is desperate for my attention and barely getting it right now. After this initial tricky bit is over I really really want to enjoy their childhoods as everyone says it goes by so fast. And I think we will look back on these days of them being small (and compliant!) as golden times.

I’m on my way to the Excel Centre to see the Olympic weightlifting. The tickets I thought I’d never get to use because I’d be too pregnant. Never thought I’d have had time to give birth, recover and get on public transport. This will be the furthest I’ve been from home since May (apart from the hospital in Chertsey which doesn’t count as I went there in an ambulance). My confidence to travel on my own two feet is coming back.

I’m told the weightlifters are all under 62kg and can lift up to 350kg. What’s the life/effort equivalent of lifting six times my weight? Do you even know if you don’t try?

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