My measure of success

Before I get to the actual point of this blog post, several all important things have been on my mind this week….

Why, when we send a parcel by car its called a shipment and when we send something by ship it is called cargo and why did kamikaze pilots bother to wear helmets. How come a ‘W’ is called a double ‘U’ and not a double ‘V’. How come a theme park camera can capture a clear picture of you whizzing past at 60mph and yet when you watch crime programmes the camera photos in banks are all grainy and blurred.

I had the great pleasure of recording a podcast with my friend Carolyn and one of the things we discussed was the pressure we put on ourselves unnecessarily to be like other people. I never stop hearing about people who, during lockdown, have Marie Kondo’d their entire house or pickled 20 different vegetables, made jams and chutneys, made a macrame lampshade, actually, I dont know anyone who has done that, but you get the point. It makes those who have done very little, feel inadequate or like they have wasted their time. I want to know who sets the benchmark for what is succeeding and living life to the full?

I feel the same way about the increasing pressure on women in midlife to take up a new career, develop a new skill, learn a language, run a marathon. If thats something you have always wanted to do, but were previously too busy, then great, go do it. But if you have spent the last 25 years raising your kids and running your home and now all you want to do is read all the books you never got around to, dont go and sign up for a course you feel you should take, reach for that book and plonk yourself down in your favourite chair.

I have done about 7 qualifications in the last 10 years including Nutrition, personal training, floristry, marketing, so that when I filled out forms I could put something in the career box other than housewife, and so I could feel like I was ‘doing something’ when all I really wanted to do was walk in the countryside and write about what I think about. For me, the measure of whether you are living your life and succeeding is whether you are content, and now that I am spending my days walking writing, I am.

8 thoughts on “My measure of success”

  1. Cargo and shipment – that is brilliant. It is going to bug me for ever.

    I don’t think the pressure to do a course or different career in mid life is particularly new although it does seem more acute. We fear not being valued and until/if ever being a housewife is viewed differently we are going to allow ourselves to feel that pressure. It was simpler (yet of course unfair) in the past and I hope we are just in a period of transition until ‘working’ women start to big up the role of the housewife (aside from the fact that the notion that a housewife isn’t a ‘working’ woman is ridiculous). The fact that they don’t comes from a place of fear. It seems we have come so far (education, choices) and, in other respects, not very far at all. Come on, surely we are all in this together.

    I wouldn’t have thought you regret doing those courses, do you? Lots of writing fodder …

    1. Thank you Annie for giving thought to this. I agree, in so many respects, we as women have come so far in terms of equality, but in the battle to be considered equal to men we sometimes loose sight of the things that make us so incredible as women such as being mothers.

      No regrets on the courses at all, have skills I can use in everyday life. Motivation behind them was probably misguided, but the end result was still good. Just off to the post office to ‘ship’ my Christmas Presents ? xx

  2. Hi Jo,

    I love this post. And as a midlife woman who is facing looking for a new career at 57 years old, I can’t agree with you enough about plunking down in that chair a just reading a good freaking book. Seriously, I’m a total believer in the power of the law of least effort. Now that my kids are FINALLY grown and gone, I actually have time.

    You always make me smile, and I’m so glad you’re here sharing your hilarious insights.


  3. Hi Jo
    First of all , I’m still hoping that one day you will write a book with your thoughts!

    This housewife title that so many look at with disdain is a title that ought to be worn with pride! I was a housewife for a period of my life, because of stronger circumstances (hubby illness, moving from Lisbon to Paris, with two toddlers to look after, in a city I hardly knew a person apart from husband’s family who don’t account to much, and learning a new language) was a real challenge for me ! Being a housewife can be imposed by different circumstances and it can also be a choice. I had real problems giving up my other working/ earning a living life to become a housewife! And I admit that I was even ashamed at times that on school forms I had to write “housewife”, but today, I’m at a complete different level! I’m proud of what I did, being there for my husband when he needed me, looking after my children being available for them rather then being placed with nannies was the best of gifts I could have given them ! Housewife or any other title does not define me! And although society still stigmatizes this role, I’m hoping that one day it will be recognized with all the values it ought to have !!! As for doing other things I agree with you that the important thing is to feel content!
    I decided to go back to some sort of activity about 4 years ago, but that was a decision I made on my own as I saw that my kids were big enough (they are now 13 and 10) and I like being occupied, so when I realized that the French market wouldn’t accept me as a worker (due to probably the age factor, being a foreigner, plus the unemployment crises… ) I decided to teach English for kids at home ! And I’m proud to teach French kids to learn English properly! And yes I’m always entertaining the idea of learning something new and dive into things that passionate me !!! (No time yet to read all the books I want to read ) but I’m learning that I can also press the pause button, take sometime for myself, rest, read, do mediation, whatever, because “pause” and “reset” are difficult things for women to do ? thank you for bringing up the subject ! And looking forward to your newsletters if you are the crest one with your site !

    1. Linda,thank you so much for this wonderful comment. I imagine you are an amazing Mum and the pictures show you have 2 beautiful children. (Well, one picture I saw) I think the point you make is an excellent one. It doesn’t matter what we choose to do as long as it really is your choice and not what you think society wants from you. Your English students are so lucky to have you. Take care my friend xx

  4. Double U has always confounded me!!

    Remember that book Superwoman? She must be in midlife now. Time to take the foot off the pedal, I say.

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