Browsing about, I happened on the work of illustrator Sow Ay, which I dug.

So, aye… The word ‘mindful’ gets thrown about quite a lot at the moment, conceptions of ‘presence process’, thinking ‘right now’. Some aspects of That Sort of Thing work well for me, anyway.

This cartoon by Sow Ay is a nice reminder that one may be feeling good, all over it, even, but not to take that for granted.

Not drinking alcohol reminds me that my brain works in certain ways, quite a lot of which can be positive, but there’s a lot of excitable over-thinking, unsolicited extrapolation and fret as well. I’m getting to appreciate that the brain waves are easier to stay afloat on without a body full of booze.

Today? I was shovelling a tonne of compost on to the veg patch, which I suppose works as a metaphor but was, also, an actual tonne of actual compost on to an actual veg patch… alongside other first-day-of-holiday, warm-sunny-weather-in-late-winter hyphenated pottering. Lots of time with the kids. Oh yeah, Leeds won as well. It was A Good Day.

Not taking it for granted, no sir, not saying I’m full of understanding… but yeah, recognising when it feels good.

Finally a week’s holiday arrives at school, with parents’ evening bringing a long day at the end of a long week closing out an interminable half term.

Yet the busyness was actually a boon, and we seemed to end for the break all feeling a positivity at odds with the stresses of the preceding days. Time can seem to go quicker when it’s packed with tasks. On top of the inspection that took up three days, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in some Continuing Professional Development (CPD): two days of training on mental health and well-being issues facing children and young people, alongside intervention strategies.

The training provided some personal insights as well, with several useful reminders of processes, situations and responses from my past that seemed directly relevant now. It was a week in which I found myself having a fair few mirror conversations about drink, anxiety, motivation. Taking private moments to talk through feelings and frustrations, signs and symptoms.

Had a good word with myself today, the executive washroom summary of which is that I am feeling resolute.

Resolute in the face of a familiar triad of exhaustion, release, and relief, all of which had by the end of the day nudged forward an oasis mirage of a refreshing trio of beers. I was in the washroom taking a few minutes out from talking through exam grades and chances and personalised targets. I was thinking about beers. Beers that would probably have acted as a prelude to a continuance of drinking, lasting probably all weekend and – given the onset of half term – probably into the middle of the next week.

It would not have been hard partying but, if past practice is any guide, a determined slow chug from each mid-afternoon and on. For days. Each new day an accumulation reinforcing an old and tested pattern.

Dear reader, it is the pattern this set of writings is intended to chart! A pattern I have resolved to explore, trace out, colour in…

Reflecting on this resolution, the urge to give in, to allow myself that reward, to get home, kick back, have just a few and then applaud some kind of strength in so doing… was easier to overcome. Yes, I damn well amn’t, I thought, washing hands and inspecting my face. The beer bottles dissolved in the blast from the hand dryer.

Yet… I know the booze is just one of a number of factors here. Overcoming the sneery interior voice critiquing this positive affirmation as a tad self-congratulatory, a bit simplistic, was on this occasion a matter of pistol fingers and a silly face before leaving the washroom. But it was interesting to hear that tone make a slight return.


Shit, they might have got away.