What Is Normal? + podcast link
Exciting news for September and our first WWW podcast is live!
Wow, that was a cracking storm last night, did you have one too? It lit up the sky and rang through my ears, at one point we were all out on the front doorstep both marvelling at what we were watching but also bellowing over the sound of the rain trying to coax the cats inside. Eventually, they came flying through the night, shouting their miaows as loud as their little voice boxes (do cats have voice boxes?) could manage. Since they were kittens I’ve dried them with towels so we were armed and ready and they purred heavily as we towelled them down.
It. Is. Finished.
It's as though Autumn has flung the door open and marched right in, announcing its presence and shoving summer firmly back into July and August. Enough! It is finished! But with the onset of Autumn and the turning of the leaves, a type of death if you like, comes a new beginning – term time. Saying that, it’s ALL change for us this year.
My son, Myles, did his A Levels this year and has decided to take a year out before going off to University next September. My daughter will be taking hers this year, so we have one going back to school, which in itself is a bit weird as for as long as I can remember (slight exaggeration but you know what I mean), it’s been that frantic and exhausting gear change that tends to leave me reeling. However, this summer has been different. Myles has been working and Beely has been hanging out with her boyfriend for most of it. So I’ve been less busy than a normal summer. I’ve had a few trips away which have been fab, but I’ve been also getting ready for two big things in my life... One being the relaunch of the podcast (scroll down for the link) and two, it’s not just Beely going back to school - so am I!
For reasons that I won’t go into this time, I left university after my first year, in 1992. For the last 15 years, I have hankered after getting some type of academic qualification and I’ve gone round and round in circles, each time talking myself out of it “you have nothing to prove, you have a good job, you provide for your children in the way you always wanted to ….” etc! However, I always come back to it again and again and again.
Unfinished business - it’s personal!
So, I finally decided earlier this year, that it’s not about whether or not I have a good job, or proving myself or qualifications for the world to see, or money-making or anything other than this: it’s unfinished business that is personal and important, to me. It doesn’t need to have a reason or need to make sense, other than the fact that it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for such a long time and it just won’t go away. So, I decided to go for it and now that the kids have almost got through school, on October 3rd, I will be starting at Warwick University on the MA in Writing course which I am thrilled about. Who knows where it will lead and what will happen next, but there’s only one way to find out! And yes, the worry dreams have started already. I dreamt last night about being stuck in corridors amongst crowds of (much younger) people that I didn’t know – anxious? Of course. Excited? Beyond!
So, the podcast is back, renamed and revamped and very much about not falling in line or fading away. It’s about finding our brave through the stories of other women who’ve had to find theirs. It will come out every other Tuesday, I’ll send a link here in my weekly letter to you, and obviously you can access it on all the normal podcast platforms as well. If you are a paid subscriber, you will also get access to the unedited video conversation (starting next episode). It won’t be polished like the podcast is, and won’t have my chat at the beginning and the end, but will give you the opportunity to see how the interview actually went in real time, warts and all. It will also help keep the podcast going without the need for random ads! If you haven’t and would like to, you can upgrade by clicking below…
… but please note that if you’re a free subscriber, you don’t miss anything! You still get all the best bits in the podcast itself :)
What is normal anyway?
We start this week with a conversation laying out the concept that challenges our perception of normal. We so often berate ourselves for not being like someone else, or everybody else, but ultimately, normal is best measured against ourselves. Dr Sarah Chaney joins me in this episode to talk about how this concept of normal came about, and just how flawed it is.
Sarah touches on her own experience growing up, of trauma, living with grief, being bullied, self-harm and feeling immensely anxious on a daily basis. She’s a wonderful example of being shaped by her experience of life so far, allowing that process to mould her into who she is today and embracing her past in order to shape her future – surely that is the ideal example of finding fulfilment?
Culturally we have become obsessed with happiness, but I think contentment and fulfilment is so much more valuable. Those things don’t come from what we have or what others see, they come from allowing ourselves to embark on our own journey, by owning our past and allowing it to shape who we are today and carry us into tomorrow.
Sarah has written 2 books, Psyche on the Skin – a history of Self Harm, and Am I Normal – the 200 year search for normal people (and why they don’t exist). She’s also produced a fascinating podcast series called Living With Feeling and if you can follow her on Twitter @kentishscribble
What’s your plan?
So, September and new beginnings, here we go! I would LOVE to know what new beginnings you have this season so if you care to share, please do so in the comment box below. We did great with the movies last time, it was a fab blast from the past seeing all your favourites. You can also comment on each other’s comments so please don’t be shy – share away! What goals and plans do you have this September that work toward your own sense of fulfilment and growth?
I hope you enjoy our first WWW podcast. Have a great week and I’ll write to you again next Tuesday.
Good luck with your MA - I did a Masters in my 40s and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My fellow students were considerably younger than me - this concerned me before the course started but they included me in a range of social activities. It also led to a change of career but that was an accidental by-product.