Saturday 5 September 2015

Perfectionism, caring and lists

I do this thing when I'm nervous in class. I'll have the lesson plan made out in advance, the photocopies and resources all cut up, my famous back to the board vocab little pieces of paper all ready to go and yet if I've been out sick for a day or two or it's a new class, I find myself explaining each and every single task I have planned next. Really odd expressions come out of my mouth that are completely unnecessary like, "the reason I gave you this handout on the differences for present perfect and present perfect continuous is because there were lots of exceptions in it that we use in everyday speaking" or "I've planned a grammar relay activity to do before we do the speaking practice so you can really get your practice in and ask me any questions you need". Nerd. This is the kind of s**t that comes out of my mouth when I'm nervous. I kid you not. Text book teacher nerd.

My students know me as an organized, reliable and easy-going teacher who still pushes them to do their best but when I've been away for a few days and inching my way back into that comfortable classroom groove again, I'm an absolute dork and when I come out with expressions like that, I can tell from the expressions on their faces that they're thinking a little on the same lines as me. It's all so unnecessary, this need to explain myself and all the things I intend to do to make things better and complete. It passes but remains a current habit in my life, especially lately, and comes from a place of perfectionism, nerves and trying to get my head back in the game.

The reason I mention the teacher babble is because this week was my first week back at work after a week and a half of being ill. It wasn't fun. In fact it was exhausting and when I arrived back to work on Monday morning, I felt like I was surrounded by some smoky haze, a thick soup of confusion and disorientation and it took me until Thursday to get my head back in the game. My students actually clapped when I arrived back in class. I missed them too. They're a great bunch and it was really comforting having their support. I started telling them how I would cover topics they'd missed out on from the previous week and how "this writing exercise will really help" for their monthly test. I was making promises to get their confidence in me back. To be liked. To feel like I was on track with all the cool things I want to do in this little life of mine.

I often have the same predicament with this blog, I've just kept all the ideas I have for this blog and my cooking/writing/photographing/philosophizing to myself, in spiraling formations, in my head. The last few months, with difficult things happening at home, my head has experienced a double whammy takeover of spiraling, thick soup confusion. My dreams for Busylittlefoodie and life in general have gotten lost in the murk and then today, came out in a burst. Not with energy but just because there was no more room in my head. I committed the cardinal sin of the creative. You see, I've been comparing myself to others in the most irrational way possible: through instagram. #No filter, my life is a long living legend, I live in a camper van me and the man of my dreams constructed, we work freelance around the world, I have 20 surfboards I've collected from all over the world, sunsets and surf are my life, yoga loving, I'm achieving all my goals and did I mention my third cookbook is out soon?, pure f*****g perfectionist instragram. 

I don't hate these people. I admire the hell out of them but last night it came down to the crunch and it ached and I was pretty close to completely deleting Busylittlefoodie, facebook and instagram altogether. Honest. All because I didn't feel, particularly in comparison to all these people, that I was achieving anything. Failure just rattled around in my head. I took to messaging my good friend Clare and she asked me why I had the blog. Was it that I loved it or was it for the money or for other people? That's just it, I never thought anyone would actually read this. When I put up that first post, it was to send my thoughts out of my head, onto virtual paper and into the world wide web. Then people started reading it and liking it and some even commented and it meant the world to me. Then I started to compare my blog to others I admired and it filled me with dread. They had all these instagram followers and twitter feeds and mailing list followers and book deals and fancy DSLR cameras.

Clare's question hit the nail on the head, though. I didn't start writing this to be liked. The blog didn't start off like my other endeavors like teaching or crafting, doing something I love and looking for comforting recognition at the same time. I started it for me. My blog was the first selfish thing I'd done in a long time, self interested, self caring, me myself and I blog. It reflected my attitude to life that I normally reserved for travelling times. It reminded me that I was important too and had creative needs I couldn't ignore. It fed my creative, inquisitive, free spirited, world-loving side. The last few months, I've gotten caught up in caring so much about instagram feeds and likes, popularity and comparisons with bloggers who feature in magazines, newspapers and editorials and rather than be inspired, it's just removed me further from any ideas I had. Before, when I had an idea, I went with it, followed through, went with my gut and embraced it all and it felt magnificent, whether it was tricky to accomplish or not. I realised that I cared more about other people's lives and endeavors and passions rather than my own. What mattered most was what I cared about, what my loves were.

So I'm writing a list in the same wave of feeling I had when I first wrote this blog. This list is for me and for you, if you care to read it. It's all those dreams I yearn to make a reality. I'm going to throw it out there, onto the world wide web and into the universe. If I do one or all it doesn't really matter. I think the important lesson for me to figure out the next while is to let go of busyness and achievements and just go with the flow. Afterall, that's my biggest dream. To ride life like a wave. To lead a simple life. To be challenged and free at the same time. To feel a pull, a draw, a childlike curiosity. To feel like I'm paddling out into the unknown but trusting myself anyway. To have all the worries washed away and feel refreshed when I paddle back in. Clean and ready to face anything. To live a life where these feelings are present in my life on a daily basis. Everything else will just run through it but there won't be this soup-like cloud to wade through. Not if I take this viewpoint of life and go with it and go with the flow. It will be that crystal clear turquoise I dreamt about as a kid and it will all be ok.

Homemade pizza from the cob oven I build
Labneh-sweet and savoury and other recipes from around the world, learnt from people
Pickling, pickling, pickling
Smoothies and juices that dazzle with colour
Sourdough bread
Surf/foodie/travel/campervan cookbook
Van life
Cocoa snacks
Date based desserts
Pancakes in every shape and size
No more packaged foods-homemade yogurts, jams, breads, milks, the lot
Seaweed that keeps on giving
Celebration food: Christmas, Easter, Birthdays
Travel food: Portugal, India, Bali, France, Ireland and its gems
Fruit, pies, puddings, preserves, jams and jellies
Fish, seafood, salty goodness
People who grow our food, make our food, creative livelihoods, heal, nurture, play
Inspiring people, places, photos, food, ideas, community, living
Food-power, politics, people
Herbal teas
Philosophical quotes
Travel photography
Food photography
Surf art, women in surfing, surfing communities
Photography round ups, inspiring everything
Cookbook worship
Simplicity is key


  1. Wonderful post. I completely understand about the life-envy evoked by the perfect instagram feed. What is that saying - comparison is the enemy of joy? So glad you are focusing on what you started blogging for in the first place!

  2. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for taking the time, not just to read my blog post but to also comment! What you said is incredible thoughtful! It's always a boost to get support from readers. Instagram can be amazingly inspiring. I just think that it can really induce comparisons and put pressure on people to present their lives in this filtered way. A balance is needed, I reckon. Thanks so much though and hope to have you reading more of my blog posts soon! And I hope you find your hustle! Great article 😊