• Jane Goodenough

Becoming Smokey Mirrors

I can hardly believe it but it's been 9 months since I first started blogging as Smokey Mirrors, enough time for me to have grown a whole new person! This thought, as well as the many others swirling around my head right now, have prompted me to reflect on my blogging experience and the me that I am now compared to the one I was back in September last year.

I feel like I've had a bit of a rebirth over the course of these 9 months. Alright, I'm not actually a new person...I'm not even significantly different to the person that I've always been...but, I can feel a change. I think the main difference for me and in me since becoming Smokey Mirrors, is that I'm OK - in fact, more than OK - with me.

The start

Back when I started blogging in September, whilst I didn't really know what I was doing with it (and, to be honest with you, that part hasn't really changed), I knew that I wanted to write and, for the first time ever, I wanted other people to know what I was saying.

I'd had so much happen over the course of a few years: the end of a long-term relationship and break-up of the family I'd created and invested my life and dreams into, becoming a single working parent, my sister's traumatic illness, the move away from my home of 20 years, from friends and work and becoming a home-worker, my sister's death, my ultimately futile and challenging attempt at a new relationship and accepting all aspects of my sexuality, the end of a 16 year career with redundancy...yikes, it really does seem like a lot when I list it all out like that. Anyway, it all had the accumulative affect of knocking me so far off my axis that I felt completely lost in life and in my sense of self, of who the heck I actually was.

I felt like I needed to purge myself of all the rotten thoughts and feelings that I'd collected and start again, really start from scratch, and work out who I was.

I'd already started the process by reaching out for professional help. From being someone who kept everything very close to my chest, I'd made the massive step of admitting I needed help and not a quick and dirty, 6 weeks of sessions either. That first session with my counsellor I said I didn't want to put a time-frame on how many sessions I'd have, because I knew it would take me a long time to open up and face everything, let alone make changes to my thoughts and behaviours.

By September 2017 I'd been having weekly counselling sessions for over a year, I was single again, jobless, still feeling lost but I'd built up a sense of hope for the future and that I wanted to be happy and that for me was massive.

The middle

The process of writing a blog has been a huge amount of fun. First off there's creating a website, which I found I loved doing - firstly with a business site and then with this one. I had an idea that I would study and possibly even move into web design last year and I still think there's scope for me to do it. I didn't have nearly enough head space though at the close of last year and now, with a new full time project job on the horizon, I still don't. Never say never though and who says you can't pick up a new skill or career in your fifties?!

And then of course there's the actual writing. Truth be told, I love to write and, like a great many people, have a little daydream that one day I'll sit down to write the next bestseller. Until September though, I'd never actually written anything except a journal (and some terrible, terrible poetry that will never see the light of day) and how can you be a writer if you don't write? Of course the blog I'm writing is really just a public journal and not about to set me off in a career as a writer, but it has let me test my wings a little.

It turns out that I was right; I love writing and I think it kind of loves me too.

I'm not being a great big show-off here but people have responded to my writing. I'm not fooling myself that I'm in any way big and important but to write something and have people, even strangers, connect with what I'm saying - connect with me! - has been bloody marvellous. I've shared stories, thoughts and feelings and frankly it's been a wonder to have people read them and tell me they like it.

In some ways it's been a tricky balance to write with the honesty that I set out to maintain and not filter or edit with an audience in mind. I don't think I've always managed it perfectly but, with every post I write, I only publish what I'm completely happy with sharing. If someone wants to read it: fine; if nobody reads it: also fine. This is mainly and importantly because I started writing to help myself.

Each of the blog posts I write serves a purpose: to help me sort out what I'm thinking about and how I feel about my mental wellbeing, my motherhood, my relationships, etc. It's been a tough and, in some ways, frightening process - laying myself, my innermost thoughts, bare and for all to see or ignore has made me feel incredibly vulnerable. The affect of that though is something I didn't anticipate at all: it's made me feel entirely more resilient than I could ever have imagined.

The end

Okay not really the end because one thing I am sure of is that I am, and always will be, a work in progress. Never not learning about myself!

For example, I've learned that my difficulties with consistently sticking to a task IRL are also a challenge with blogging as well. Whereas I started off banging out blog posts at least every couple of weeks, that quickly tailed off to monthly at best. However, as I started this as an exercise in my journey to better mental health rather than as something to gain followers for or make money from, I don't feel any remorse for this whatsoever. It has in fact been hugely beneficial and I feel like I've gained so much from just taking the leap and doing it that, even if I'm not the world's most efficient blogger, it's enough for me.

Also, even if I'm not writing more lengthy posts for the blog, I'm still thinking and sharing on my Instagram account @smokeymirrors_uk. I love that I've connected with people on there and that I can again share whatever the hell I want to. I'm not worried about growing a huge following; if people don't follow or stop following me, I don't get anxious because I. Don't. Care. Like me? Great and hi! Don't like me? Also great and see ya!

I can't tell you what a humongously big change this is to my way of thinking. Like I said: I'm no different to what I've always been. I'm tall and kinda gangly, I'm a quiet person who likes talking about the stuff I'm thinking about, I'm impatient but kind, I'm spontaneous but disorganised, I'm good in some ways, bad in others. Not incredible but not terrible either.

What writing Smokey Mirrors has helped me realise is that, whilst I am all of those things and more, some people get me and others don't. And that's totally okay. Because I'm totally okay. And even if shit things are happening, I'm still okay. I'm good enough (in name and nature) that I will always have someone on my side. Wow, that feels amazing to write but it's true. Through all of the events, through the blog and my personal realisations, I've had and have found people to connect with, talk to and get that all important support I need to get through life. I may be single romantically now but my life and relationships feel fuller now than they've ever done before.

I've no idea what the future holds for me or for Smokey Mirrors but I'm really looking forward to finding out. I expect I'll keep knocking out the odd reflective, introspective post on here as has become my want - it's always lovely if they're read by someone but if not, that's fine!

So that all being said, thanks for reading!

Jane x

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About Me

Smokey Mirrors is me, Jane, sharing bits and pieces of my life for you to marvel over...how lucky you are you ain't me! I'm not interested in filters or fibs, this is life as a 40 plus woman and mum, warts and all.

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