Headspace

I have a confession, I have a big head. Not in the “I’m full of myself sort of way”, but in a can’t find hats big head. So when I went into David Jones on a whim on Saturday afternoon, I anticipated a tantrum-inducing experience as I looked through the hat racks. The irony is, is that I love wearing hats, but I’m typically stuck with stretchy beanies and floppy berets. But I’m always on the hunt for a felt hat with that lovely structure for winter. Cloche in a perfect world.

But as I picked up this Milana hat, I had a vague sense that my 60 cm head (the average is about 57-58 centimetres) might actually fit within this felt beauty. I tried it on. It must be too good to be true. I ruffled through the vortex that is my handbag, found my phone and took a selfie to send to my Canadian based stylist (and bestie) who can always be trusted to tell me the brutal honest truth. Silly or cute I ask?

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 I mean, how adorable is that face?

So I bought it. Its harder than I thought to pull off – it had its going to work début today and the cape/hat combo was harder than anticipated. I kept knocking the hat off with the capes collar. It totally ruined my mystique, particularly as I hobble-ran to the bus. I suspect I may have looked like I belonged in the mafia or a bad detective novel with my dark glasses. But I love it all the same.

Before the struggle between cape and hat begun
Before the struggle between cape and hat begun

In some ways my head-hat problem is also reflective of sometimes how we all feel. Like when my boof head tries to squeeze into a hat, sometimes our head feels too big to contain all the dilemmas, thoughts, pressures, goals, dreams, fears and feelings at any given time. I’ve tried in the last two weekends to un-plan myself, doing the bare minimum and taking that time out to do only things that energise me with people who’s company I love. Creating that headspace and being honest with myself is really important.

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There is a cult of busy. A competition on burdens we carry. The demand that we ought to be doing more for ourselves or others. Creating headspace to decompress is hard.

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Taking time out is vitally important for wellbeing, mental health and the ability to increase resilience. The ability to “push on” is not necessarily a long term strategy. I love being busy, but it got to the point that I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favours by pushing through. I was lethargic, de-energised and grouchy after a long six months of injury (recovering from), travel (harder than it sounds), work and study.

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This is not just a me problem. Brigid Schulte talks about how leisure time is a feminist issue, despite its value for mental health and resilience. Leisure, she argues is not something that is not socially constructed for women, even before entering the workplace became mainstream. It was designed for the wealthy male; who had the paid or unpaid services of others who could complete his household, or administrative functions. Today this persists, but despite more women working than ever, they remain the principal care-givers, house-slaves and administrators, despite working full time. For me, I am fortunate to have a partner in all senses, who does an equal share; but this structural problem remains. In Australia, according to Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought, “76% of full-time working fathers have a “wife” or stay-at-home spouse. Only 15% of full-time working mums have the same”.

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But the second problem in accessing leisure or headspace, is the drive to “have it all”, however you define it. The pressure to build that empire, is immense. The ability to re-frame having it all will be increasingly important for modern women, rather than continuing to ruminate on what’s next, what’s wrong and where you are lacking. Taking time-out to re-frame your goals, opportunities and weaknesses is the way to achieve your “it all”, because you are not becoming a spent husk, from continuing to run the gauntlet-shaped treadmill.

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