Liminal Luminous

a wandering, wondering space of devotion, creativity and freedom.
creativity Disability/Chronic Illness/Mental health

When you can’t hustle

Maybe it’s the media and the blogs that I read and podcasts I listen to, but everyone says that in order to achieve anything you have to work really hard, with lots of long hours, working before the kids get up, after they’ve gone to bed, during holidays, weekends etc. I agree with the fact you have to put the effort in to achieve anything, but surely not at the compromise of everything else.

It’s fine if you’ve got the energy. But there doesn’t seem to be much out there about how to have a good life when you don’t have all the energy in they world. That the necessary exercise leaves you needing a lot of rest, not just a 5 minute down time, or even time reading a book, but a proper rest with either just music or a well known audiobook, not a book which you haven’t read before.

I’m happy with the idea that I am not going to have a multi-6 figure income, as I heard a podcaster say they had today. She is somehow churning out several books a year, plus running a business and doing ultra long walks and and, and, and…… Now she is talking about how to stay healthy and well.

None of this applies to me. I had a session with a physiotherapist yesterday to assess how my body is doing after the complete breakdown a few years ago. He said that I’ve now got a strong body, that I am doing well and I can absolutely start personal training, upping my cardio and weights. But then he also said that I need to keep doing what I am already doing – swimming 3 times a week, yoga each morning (only 20 odd mins), plus all the walking I do – generally at least an hour a day on the swimming days and about an hour and a half on the non swimming days. The walking isn’t optional anyway – I have Buster who turns into Buster The Destroyer if I do not exercise him properly.

I was utterly elated that I’ve managed to recover my body as well as I have, it’s been a long hard graft. But I have to add in more exercise on top of that? When I am hoping that I will be able to pick up some more work soon? I’m just not sure that I will have the energy to do it. Do I have to give up the idea of getting back as fit as I was again? While I can accept that I may not run a half marathon or a triathlon again, I’m not sure I’m ready to accept the spare tyre about my middle.

And what about my creative projects? I’m writing more here, which clearly doesn’t magically happen, I’m writing short stories, working on my novel, oh and working on my grade 1 piano (the exam is at the end of March), and practicing my pieces for the flute for band and my grade 7 (exam hopefully in November).

If I want to turn this blog into an income stream, or if I want to build up my self employment business, or build my writing into an actual career I need to hustle that too. It all sounds utterly exhausting and makes me want to go to bed and have a nap.

There must be people out there living with a chronic illness, building their business to a modest income, it’s just they don’t podcast, do lots of blogging etc. The notable exception is Michael Nobbs who podcasts about having a chronic illness and still creating. Also people living modestly tend to be rather, well modest, in their work. Plus blogging and podcasting takes a huge amount of effort, which they may feel is better focused on their actual work, especially if they do have a low amount of energy.

As usual I don’t have any answers, just more questions. It is tricky living with a chronic illness and I want to find THE ANSWER, with THE FORMULA which will allow me to live my life well and fulfill my creative urges and desire for some level of success. One day I may accept that it doesn’t exist.

7 Comment

  1. I’ve put a note in my diary to try and tackle this topic next week – thanks for the prompt! I have ongoing pain and energy issues, am self employed and just about holding it all together so maybe I can say something useful on the subject.

  2. Dearest Jen, I love everything about what you’re writing here and agree with it on so many levels. It has inspired me to respond I hope you don’t mind. I might even blog about this myself! I read this article a while back and it really spoke to me on some level: What If I just want a mediocre life? Shocking isn’t it. To just want that. In Greece there is a phrase: Why to bother? And I feel like that sometimes. I like it’s honesty. Where does all the striving and hustling really get us? As this guy says here: ‘Success is a bullshit fairy-tale people tell you to inspire you to continue reading more bullshit fairy-tales and make you feel like you’re on the road to somewhere great, without actually getting you any closer. It’s an addiction, a longing, a lacking, a hunger. For there to be an idealized vision of success, we must first need to view ourselves as insufficiently successful. We must have somewhere to aim, someplace to go — a distant star worth reaching. And then we get there, and we don’t feel much different. That’s success. That’s the bullshit. ‘ I could also add that maybe that’s what keeps this capitalist, consumerist hamster wheel going… but I don’t want to get political about it. Do we see the animals or the trees on the land striving? Or the fishes in the sea… hustling? Or the birds in the air pushing through? Do the trees feel somehow that there life isn’t good enough or they aren’t worthy? A good and wise friend of mine once said to me: You know everyone is striving to leave some ‘mark on the earth’ To make a difference. I just want to leave it as untouched as possible. That spoke to me too. The humility of it. Another friend of mine told me that our capacity to truly love and affect people really only extends as far as a handful of people. OK some Mother Theresa’s out there who are the exception that prove the rule but If I can make the world a better place for my close family and friends – that’s good isn’t it? It is OK to want to be good, be at peace, to live a gentle, calm and kind life. One where the simple things fill me with joy. Where I’ve mastered finding the beauty in the mundane (Lord knows I have a long way to go with this one) This is what the shamanic way of life endeavours to teach us too – that there is a beauty in the mundane. In the chopping wood and fetching water. Is it not noble to want to love and be compassionate as much as I possibly can…. And at times to feel the sheer ecstasy of being alive, to feel giddy with excitement, connection, energy. To feel awe when I look at a sunset. To once in a while feel like my heart is going to burst with love when my little ones say something sweet or I watch my husband and kids play in delightful abandon. In the end, as John Gorman explain above… the effects of ‘success’ are a short-lived high… and then… on to the next thing. That’s a bit of my message with my calm heart work…. If people want to be ‘successful’ according to what society and culture tells us that is… then great..go for it. It’s a path. And often one with noble intentions and noble outcomes. These people can and have made a huge impact on the world – and often for the good of many. But there’s also an art and nobility to loving the life you live as it is now… with all its mess and simplicity and mundanity! For me the answer to this dilemma lies in the regrets of the dying After all… when we come to the end of our life – we want to feel good and clean and not have regrets. And the dying tell us: 1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 3) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. 4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 5) I wish that I had let myself be happier. Not one of these top 5 regrets is: I wish I had more money. I wish I had achieved more. I wish I was more successful or worked my ovaries off! Much love to you my sweet friend xxx

    1. Ah Tania! I think you should use this comment as a blog post in and of itself, so full of wise words.

      Yes, the post on a mediocre life is one I have read several times as it resonates – Renee, who commented above told me about Krista’s writing a while ago and I have enjoyed her site ever since.

      I struggle to find the beauty and the joy in the everyday, it is why my photography practice started up, to actively look for the beauty while I could hardly walk. I think I should take this up again….

      It’s rare I feel ecstasy at being alive, I would struggle to think of an example to be honest.


  3. I don’t have a chronic illness but I don’t hustle (I absolutely can’t stand the hustle message), and everything about my life is rather modest – my readership, employment, impact, etc.

    In my experience, there are no answers or formulas 🙂 even for those of us with theoretically more energy or physical ability.

    Do you read my friend Krista’s blog. You might like it.

    Krista is my dear friend, she’s the real deal in terms of living a life of purpose, wanting to achieve goals – in health, career etc, but also not sacrificing yourself (the hustle) to get there. She is all about progress not perfection.

    1. I seem to recall you are the person who pointed me to Krista in the first place, I have been reading her posts ever since- about a year ago I think?

      I think it is your way of living that keeps me reading your blog, even though on the surface we have very little in common.

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