Essential maintenance

I haven’t blogged here for a while and I was wondering why I’d left it so long. Normally, I’m full of ideas and can’t wait to put them into writing. But now I’m realising that I’ve been rather low on energy over the past few weeks and that’s sapped my creativity.

Why have I been low on energy? Well, I think it’s a combination of doing too much, thinking too much, worrying too much, obsessing too much and spending too little time sitting still and getting in touch with myself and my feelings. I’d lost my centre – and that’s where my creativity lies.

But after spending most of yesterday in peace and solitude and doing lots of self-care – including prayer, meditation, painting my toenails and treating myself to an hour-and-a-half massage – my urge to write is back.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been venturing into the world of dating after staying out of it for about a year. I should just say at this point – for the benefit of anyone who spotted me in this week’s issue of Woman Magazine talking about being 40 and single – that my return to dating began after I gave that interview! When I spoke to the magazine, I’d just come back from a camping and mountain biking trip with a bunch of single friends and was loving my freedom.

But, after that interview, I decided it was time I started dating again. After all, I was 40-and-a-half. Of course, I’d planned to date as the New Yorkers do (or at least how I think the New Yorkers do). I’m not sure if I’ve got this from the movies or from my New Yorker friends but it seems they go on a number of dates with a number of people and try and work out who’s right for them. I’ve never been very good at that. I tend to go on one date with one person and then throw myself into it to see if I can make it work, irrespective of any reservations I might have. Is that the British way? Or is it just my way? In the old days, I’d be aided by a good level of alcohol. These days, I do it sober, but the patterns seem to be pretty much the same.

So I’ve spent the last few weeks ‘seeing’ someone and it’s been a challenging experience that’s forced me to look at a lot of my ‘issues’. It’s also been a rewarding and empowering experience that’s helped me to grow. Now, you might be thinking at this point that dating isn’t supposed to sound that way – it’s supposed to be light and fun. Perhaps it is and perhaps I’ll have that experience one day. But I also have a lot of self-awareness and it’s no surprise to me that the same difficulties I have in other areas of my life – around decision-making, finding peace amid uncertainty, trusting myself, letting go etc – follow me into my dating life.

But what I’ve also realised over the past few weeks is that I can very quickly lose myself in a relationship – even before it’s become a relationship – and lose touch with what’s right for me or what my needs are. And why do I do that? Well, it’s because I’m too attached to the outcome. As I wrote in my Who’s running the show? post, I want things to work out a certain way and I’m so attached to an imagined end result that I lose sight of myself. I put the relationship or other person ahead of my own needs or desires and I become ever so subtly inauthentic in a bid to move things in the direction I think they should go. I don’t even realise I’m doing it until after the fact. Inauthenticity, though, isn’t sustainable, at least not for me. The truth always comes out in the end – thank goodness.

Despite everything I’ve learned about myself and about life – about the futility of trying to control things and the need to surrender in all areas – I’m still very attached to the idea of ending up married and having a couple of children. And I have a pretty clear image of what that looks like, or what I want it to look like. But who am I to say whether that will happen or not? Or to try and control it or force it to happen? And as Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women, points out in her latest post, Forty, single and childless, dammit!, it’s a high risk strategy to put all our eggs in that one baby basket. I felt quite challenged reading Jody’s post. Do I have a Plan B? Would I be happy with that Plan B? Am I working on my Plan B even if I’m still hoping that Plan A will work out? Am I developing my passions, interests and hobbies? Am I pursuing my dreams? I thought I was, but Jody’s post and my dating experience over the past few weeks have made me think again. That can only be a good thing. I’m ready to look at my life through a new lens, I’m ready to take another look at my passions and dreams and I’m ready – at least I hope and pray I’m ready – to surrender the outcome in this area of relationships.

I feel like I’ve done a better job at this over the past few days. I feel restored, emotionally and physically. And I’m writing here again, so I must be doing something right. I’ve realised that the best thing I can do when I notice I’m losing myself is to bring things back to basics and do some essential maintenance. So, on Friday I went for a swim and sat for ages in the jacuzzi bubbles at my gym. On Saturday, I put air in my rather flat bicycle tire (it’d been pretty flat for weeks!) and I left an earring at the jewellers to see if they could fix the clasp before I lose it again (I almost lost it a few weeks back and was really sad).

Autumn - my favourite season

I cycled slowly through London admiring the Autumn colours (aren’t they amazing?) and had a bath and an early night. And on Sunday, as I mentioned, I spent all morning praying, meditating, reading and writing, painted my toe nails, went for a massage and went to church. I feel like I’ve found my centre again.

And from this stronger, more balanced and more spiritual place, I’m much more able to make healthy choices for my life. So whatever happens with my current ‘date’ and whatever happens in my future, I know I’ll be OK if I keep looking after myself, stay connected to my core and keep listening to God.



About Katherine Baldwin

I am a writer, coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. I specialise in coaching women and men to have healthy relationships with themselves so that they can form healthy and loving romantic relationships and lead authentic, fulfilling lives. I coach 1:1, lead workshops and host retreats.
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4 Responses to Essential maintenance

  1. Jodykat says:

    Hi Katherine,

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve ‘found your centre’ again, and happy to have been of some help with that. Fritz Perls (1960s founder of Gestalt therapy) had a great expression: “lose your mind and come to your senses” which was not, as some people thought, an excuse to go crazy – but more of a call to come back to the “here and now”, and stop spending all our time living in our head.
    It sounds like you’re doing a pretty good job of it.
    Good luck with your Plan A and your Plan B.

    Hugs, Jody x

  2. Aneta says:

    Hi Katherine,

    Thanks for this post! You sound so grounded and peaceful.
    Funny, I’ve been having similar thoughts recently (and similar chllenges, i.e. dating). And, like you, I’ve decided to do some essential maintenance. It’s so sensible and things seem to fall into place as a result – I feel that my life is becoming more orderly and managable.

    Also, having a Plan B is a great idea. I think it leads to peace and it may actually help your Plan A to work out. When you have Plan B, you don’t feel anxious or tense about the outcome. Being desperate is less attractive than being hapy and relaxed. Thanks for links to Jody’s post – I’ll have a look.

    All the best 🙂
    Aneta x

    • Hi Aneta,
      I agree that having a Plan B is a great way to help our Plan A work out – and if it doesn’t work out, then at least we’re well on the way with our Plan B. Best wishes for your own maintenance, the dating and your Plans A and B.
      Katherine x

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