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What You Are, Not What You Do. Wednesday March 8, 2017

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I was talking to a priest the other day.

Oh, you can relax; this isn't about religion!

You see, when I first met Paul, he wasn't a priest; he was a scientist. And a musician. Well, a drummer in a heavy metal band, which some people would tell you isn't a musician at all! He would call himself a percussionist now (which apparently is) and these days he tends to play more folk music than heavy metal.

But I digress. Last year I attended his 50th birthday party. I wrote about it (Almost Heaven – 17th February 2016). This year it was his wife (the singer and harpist) who reached that milestone, and celebrated with a Mediaeval costume party! Typical really.

It wasn't until I left, that I had a chance to really speak with them. As Paul looked down at me with all that love and softness and compassion in his eyes I realised something. "You've always been a priest," I said. "I can remember coming to you twenty years ago and pouring out my heart. You listened and gave wise counsel, you were a priest even then."

"Yes," he replied. "I still can't believe I get paid for what I am; for what I've always been."

Another of my friends did it the other way around. He very nearly became a priest, but then opted for chemical physics. He too says, "I can't believe they pay me for doing what I love." He works every day, just because he loves it. He spent his last summer holidays working out a problem nobody had been able to solve for twenty years. And yes – he managed it: I got an exultant phone call at midnight to tell me.

I've seen that too in my own life. I trained as a chartered accountant and spent fifteen years in finance; always struggling, never performing satisfactorily, always getting sick with migraines – in addition to the long unexplained illnesses which I now recognise as the depressive part of my bipolar cycle. It was a miserable time. I felt a failure, and was always conscious of letting people down.

Because I wasn't an accountant – I was just doing the job of an accountant. The woman who now does my books: now she is an accountant. She loves numbers and putting them in order. She gets excited about tax to the point where she jumps up and down as she's explaining it.

It's an interesting distinction, isn't it? I do love my job as an image consultant. I love working with people to improve their self-confidence, to enable them to express themselves with their physical appearance. But I'm not an image consultant right down to the bone; I'm a writer.

I've always been a writer: from the moment I learned that words made up stories, that words could transport you to another world.

And I'll be a writer until I die.

So, my question for you is, what are you?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Jane Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 7:15am

Good morning Mary. In my heart - a poet and a writer.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:20am

Waving at a fellow soul, Jane. So - write a blog for Moodscope then! Or have you, and I just missed your name?

Jane Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 5:15pm

Hi Mary, yes I wrote a poem and a blog about not being able to sleep. There is another one in the pipeline. For me the best feeling is when writing helps others. I always enjoy your writing Mary

LP Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 7:45am

Morning Mary,
When I saw your title it reminded me of one of the last things my grandmother said to me, " People remember you for who you ARE." I believe in and am passionate about what I do, it contains alot of who I am and what I love, helping, problem solving, children, parents, teachers, teaching and writing. It's all to easy to find myself feeling drawn in to the politics of who is doing what.
Thank you for a great blog Mary and for reminding me that not only do I love what I do, but the importance of being true to who I am.
Good wishes to you and all. LPxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:21am

A very wise lady, your grandmother. Another thing: people will forget what you do, but never how they made you feel.

LP Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 11:39pm

Ahh yes indeed! X

Hopeful One Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:06am

Hi Mary- a beautifully crafted blog from a born writer and you make a good point. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson , a Canadian philosopher ,who said "An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding" So in finding what you really are you have, by his account, hit the jackpot. I wish I could say that for myself as I have no one thing I could put my finger on but I know when I choose to do something I only do it if I feel a passion for it.

Today's laugh.

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just got married for the fourth time. The interviewer asked her questions about her life, and then about her new husband and his occupation. "He's a funeral director," she answered.
He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living. After a short time she answered proudly that she had first married a banker when she was in her 20's, then a circus ringmaster in her 40's, and a preacher in her 60's, and now - in her 80's - a funeral director.
The interviewer then asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.
"I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:24am

Great joke today, HO. I have a feeling it was Emerson who disliked prologues. Myself, I love 'em. I find it fascinating to start with the point of view of another character (sometimes the murderer) or to have a glimpse of the past: a past which will affect the future of the character. All my stories so far have a prologue. The next one won't, because I need to get straight into the action, and all the backstory can be told in subtext... (sorry - getting technical there) - but thanks for the comment anyway.

Rosemary Thu, Mar 9th 2017 @ 12:39pm

HAHA oh HO you had me in stitches today's offering :) Thank you x

Susannah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:20am

Hi Mary

Love the blog! It actually raised my mood, as I did a job for 27 years. I could DO it, but I didn't CHOOSE it. It just kind of happened. As it was well paid it was hard to give up, but eventually I did just that.

I'm now so much happier in my new career. I'm not sure that it's definitely who I am, but it's much better than where I was.
I feel affirmed by your writing.

Thank you.

And to HO - one of your best!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:27am

Hello Susannah, well, considering we are all on a journey, it sounds as if you are at least on the right path. Keep your eyes peeled for the perfect trail leading off from this path. It may not be very far away. In fact - read my blog of (pauses and looks for it...) 2nd January 2015, A Passion for Onions.

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:47am

I am a talker and a listener and a thinker and a hugger and a helper and someone who can't answer a question in one word!!!
Mary thanks for your blog.

Jul Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:52am

Lol!! But this sounds a lovely combination. Julxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:39am

Oooh - a hugger! The world needs more huggers.

The painter Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:49am

Hi Mary, I always love your writing and I often know it's you before I get to the end - you have a distinctive style. Your job sounds interesting, I'm an artist, teacher, counsellor, mentor and support worker. These are all my jobs at the moment but my true vocation is simply... healer.

Keep writing, have a lovely day. X

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:42am

Now - healer is something I would love to be. When I see my son almost sick with the pain of his fibromyalgia, when I think of my darling friend robbed of his music by deafness, my mother and father racked by the cruel infirmities of old age, I long to heal. I can only pray for healing. Emotional healing too: often more important. Bless you Painter.

Jul Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:50am

Hi Mary. Is this a question of how one defines oneself? There were a few jobs I would have loved to have done/do now and which I didn't ever get the chance to do. I am not sure though that I would ever define myself by my job, "you are your job sort of thing". However if one is a painter, writer, musician, one can say that's who I am or one can say this is my passion but I am other things aswell. So for me, I am not sure who I am. Like Hopeful one says. Difficult to put my finger on any one thing. Thank you for your blog. Julxxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:43am

Sometimes it's what is your purpose? Many jobs can fulfil your purpose. My purpose is to create beauty and generate joy while having fun. Both my writing and my image consulting fulfil that purpose.

Adrian Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 9:38am

Great question Mary and lovely thoughtful blog.
For me I find it easier to think about "what is my mission?" and having arrived at that after years of searching then what I am is someone striving to fulfil my mission and seeking to enjoy the journey.
A x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:44am

Absolutely Adrian. See my reply to Jul, above.

FairIsle Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:17am

This is such a good question, and so difficult to know, but I think at the end of it all, people will say I'm a teacher, as that is where I found the greatest joy and meaning. I'm not currently a teacher, and I haven't been for a few years. Much like many others, I have trodden a path based on earnings, but this work I currently do is deeply unsatisfying.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:45am

Ah, FairIsle, I am so sorry your work is unfulfilling. For many years my husband worked in Banking - again for financial reasons. He is now a teaching assistant and loves it - because he has always been a teacher. Your time may come again. I hope so.

DAVE Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 11:54am

Hi Mary, thank you for you thought provoking blog.
I don't really know how I would define myself. I had about 25 jobs up until age 24, Bipolar always seemed to prevent me from succeeding...Very low in confidence, very introverted, feeling a failure.

I then got into professional selling capital equipment, but like others it was the financial attraction.

In all about 30 jobs including my own company, until I retired at 60.

But I suppose people remember me for my kindness, concern, and compassion, (as throughout my earlier years life was full of failures and experiences), listening to their struggles and, not just offering to help them, but sharing and seeing them through difficult times. The changes in one or two of their lives was miraculous, that was a turning point in my life, I felt and feel 'useful' at last.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 9:28pm

You are maybe a pivot. Or a catalyst for change, then.

Orangeblossom Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 1:15pm

Hi Mary thanks for the blog which I always enjoying reading. have tried various occupations but for the past 11 years I have been supporting disabled students by note-taking, journeying alongside them as a mental health mentor. I am better in a supporting capacity. I also enjoy working in my various ways to encourage students and o help them minimise their difficulties and manage their lives as effectively as possible.

Lacey Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 1:28pm

I have loved nearly everything I have done except running a pub for two years which nearly killed me and ruined my already very shaky marriage.
I ended up walking away from my husband who I loved very much and developed bipolar disorder as a result of eight years of turmoil.
These days I teach and give talks on how to self manage this 'condition ' and have become a Mother Hen to friends as we talk through our experiences and difficulties in life. Also,I'm in the process of becoming an ambassador for Dogs For Good.Im very excited about this in the future.
I love the teaching and talks I give on how to deal with mental/emotional thoughts,feelings and actions and consider myself very blessed to be where I am in my life
Take care Mary x

The Gardener Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 1:35pm

Mary - I am a frustrated writer, quite simply. Writing 'came upon me' when I was 40 - I've done loads, now there's nowhere to go. So many outlets have succumbed for economic reasons - freelance writing has almost stopped - you can't 'get at' Editors due to the Cerberus guarding them - in that any form of intro does not get through the technological guard dogs. I've written two historical novels, translated into French, published privately - people love them - I have gone through all the correct channels to publishers - stock answer 'No new authors, no historical novels'. I am a trained historian and researcher - I have had a couple of tries at academic journals - just too frustrating - all those copies, referees, then at the end you get 25 free copies - only really useful if done to further your academic career. My pen name is probably the nearest - will go and practice it in the garden of the house for sale. Orangeblossom, what a service you give, and how necessary - much admiration

Dragonfly Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 1:40pm

Right now I'm afraid I just feel like a failure

Jul Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 3:35pm

What a lovely evocative reply you have from Dave below. Life can bring us down Dragonfly. It does me! But not all the time. Throwaway remarks from others or failure to respond to a request can bring me down until I hear back from someone or realise that I have interpreted the remark wrongly. My spirits can soar as quickly as they fall. I am sure you are not a failure in every aspect of your life Dragonfly even if only temporary. No-one is. Take care. Tomorrow is another day and we don't know for certain what it will bring. We may think it will bring the same old feelings but it may surprise you. Julxx

Dragonfly Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 4:12pm

Thank you Jul. I feel I've detracted from Mary's blog which is inherently positive. I've emerged from a 'friendship' which I knew was damaging, manipulating and controlling, with someone in authority and who would boast of their wealth. I felt envious and insecure and persevered because I thought this was supposed to be something good in my life. I lost my way and my perspective and can't make any sense of it. I feel I'm at fault for not having been able to conform to the t&cs of the friendship. It brought out the worst in me, because I felt that the other person involved took advantage of my soft nature, but somehow I couldn't break free because I thought that if I tried hard enough things would become good - even though I suspected the motives of my 'friend' weren't entirely altruistic. I still feel confused and envious of this portrayed lifestyle even though I know it was a facade. I feel so lost x

Hopeful One Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 5:27pm

Hi Dragonfly- try and not judge yourself in such a sweeping generalisation whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter.

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:42pm

Dragonfly I can relate to what you are saying. It is hard when other people let you down but you then blame yourself for your decisions. Jul, Dave and hopeful one have all offered you caring replies. You have expressed yourself in your writing so well in your comments today and on other days. That is a real skill and I see you as a caring person as you often comment in a compassionate way and as a writer as you can communicate your feelings on difficult issues so well. Take carex

Dragonfly Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:59pm

Thank you Leah. I do appreciate everyone's support. I feel awful for hijacking Mary's blog but I've felt so desperately low and ashamed and really haven't been coping well x

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 9:23pm

Dragonfly Please never apologise this is the place to be yourself- no hijacking at all. You are just taking us to a place where we have all been. No shame either, this is the one soft place to land where you can be yourself. So please no more apologies and shame at least for now. The blogs are just starting pints for conversations. Please listen to the support and appreciate your great writing and communicating skills. X

Mary Wednesday Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 9:33pm

Coming in late, Dragonfly. This is a place where reaching out for a helping and supportive hand is never hijacking. So pleased you've had some support while I've been absent from the site. I wish you well - and totally understand feeling a failure and failing somehow to understand and live up to the ts and cs of relationships.

Dragonfly Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 9:53pm

Thank you Mary x

DAVE Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 3:19pm

You're not a failure Dragonfly, you've just temporarily lost your ability to fly, it'll pass as it always does, and you'll soar again, leaving that negative feeling behind.....The secret, I believe, is to trust in your own judgement and realise, that doubts in ourselves, will always wait in the 'wings' when our confidence slips, but to 'RIDE' the groundings and the 'uplift' will lift your spirits....besides there are millions of different flowers, you just happened to have landed on a nettle !

Dragonfly Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 4:05pm

Thank you Dave. The trouble is I frequently seem to land on a nettle and feel that my judgement is flawed - or I ignore it because my self-esteem is so low. I appreciate your support and encouragement

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:46pm

Dragonfly Dave below has written so supportively. This is what I like about Moodscope the way people reach out to others. Your honesty will help many reading these comments who are feeling like you and Dave's reply will make many feel supported. AS Dave said 'you're so delicate right now but your strength will return. Those words will help me, you and many others.

Rosemary Thu, Mar 9th 2017 @ 12:42pm

That's beautiful Dave, you are a wordsmith indeed

DAVE Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 5:06pm

Beneath the surface there are areas in our lives which to us, and (not necessarily to others) creates lack of confidence and low self-esteem, you're not alone, as confident as I am, there are still the areas (from past) thoughts, words and actions which try to cause me low self-esteem.
Affirmations can help...i.e. Write on your bathroom mirror "I am as good as anyone, NO better...and NO ONE is better than I".
Look for the good, and the love from within others, but most important forgive others who've hurt you, and learn to forgivie yourself is paramount to 'come to the surface' and breath freely once more.
Do your very best, treat others as you yourself would want to be treated...with one proviso, no matter how they respond...either good or not so good, when you look back in that same mirror, you'll eventually feel your self-confidence takes time, but you'll start to like yourself once again.
Do take care Dragonfly, you're so delicate right now, but your strength will return.

Brum Mum Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 10:38pm

Thank you, Mary, and what a challenging question. I have always done jobs which help and support people. I currently advise teachers on their employment rights and worked for 18 years in social housing. I think I like to fight the good fight. But underneath and deeply engrained is the need to write, and writing my blog for Moodscope is enough for me right now. I find the advice work and similar jobs energy zapping but writing, whether the blog, a research report or political piece is always energising. Thank you for reminding me of what's important to me.....and not just what I do to pay the rent!

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