The Pleasure Report. Week 4. The healthy solitude edition.

This, week 4 ……

Before we get into the pleasure this week, I have a few thoughts on measurement or tracking progress in the year of pleasure.

(Skip down to ‘The pleasure’ if you care not a bit about measuring your year of pleasure).

Would measuring pleasure sap the very life blood out of it?

Like measuring, assessing and analysing, art and giving it a grade. Euch.

An uplifting stirring piece of art straight from the heart, painted or created with such feeling it brings tears to my eyes.

Ah yes but technically speaking it doesn’t demonstrate the techniques required and isn’t annotated with the inspirations for the piece, so it’s a ‘C’.


It’s a short hand I know, one that makes it quick to guage things, but still, euch.

I’ve been holding back on the matter of measurement for just this reason but this week, one of my clients was describing how there is just no fun in one area of her life and how she’d like it to be instead. About how she’d like there to be more smiles and laughter there. Not so much a measure but a sign that the absent thing is now present and visibly so.

I could live with that for a start.

It’s not measurement per se that I resist, it’s pairing up the incompatible. Mixing qualitative pleasure with a quantitative measure like scores out of ten or percentages.

Art and beauty are the same. I think words or noises would be better indicators than numbers. To hear the story of how having something in place makes your life so much more pleasurable or just hearing how much you love something because of your happy sigh.

OK, so the matter of measurement is moving forward and there may yet come to be a measurement of some kind that feels truly sypatico with pleasure.

So far we have smiles, laughter and happy sighs. And for me a soft stomach, relaxed jaw and inner glow of satisfaction and contentedness.

And now here we go for this week

The pleasure, a selection from the week.

The pain, a selection from the week.

The pain I did something about.

The Pleasure

Fifteen points. That stood out enough in my memory to make it onto the list of pleasure recalled this week.

A selection of pleasure

Fanatical Sabbatical

This is one huge pleasure, to see a client restructure entirely how she wanted things to be. She asked for AND GOT a sabbatical. Waaaaay outside the box. No pandering to previous ways of being. No letting them be in charge of what could be.

Imagine! A sabbatical!

Generally the province of academics and those who’ve worked for John Lewis for 25 years (I think it’s 25…it’s a long time anyway) and she negotiated one!

Her boss is extraordinarily intuitive and flexible, however, it’s her unfettered imagination that led her to conceive of this and to ask.

It’s hard for me to contain my excitement. Because…..she asked, because she got it, because she’s calling it her fanatical sabbatical and because I’ll soon see her and hear about it. I’ve missed her.

Pleasure for busy people

Giving attention to anything takes time. Making this the year of pleasure and my personal focus means I’m making it a project and giving it a fair bit of attention. People have been saying they’d like business and their lives to be more of a pleasure too but struggle to find the time just to give it consideration. So here’s an ‘on the hoof’ version.

Every mealtime, as you chew or sip,  look ahead at the the next period of time (till the next mealtime) letting your mind sweep over what’s coming up and whether you anticipate it being a pleasure or a pain.

Then at the next mealtime, review how it was and let your mind sweep over the next period of time and so on. Once a week use the review to gather up what’s been a pleasure and what’s been a pain and whether there are things you’d like to do differently. And see where you are in a few weeks.

There IS a way living together could work

My gentlemanfriend and I plan to live together at some point down the line. For now we want our respective children to live near their respective schools so until they’ve finished school we’re happy to stay as we are. After that, geography won’t be a factor and we will be able to move.

However, I’ve been living as a single parent for a number of years now and have such a need for solitude and for time to think, that at the back of my mind I wondered whether that was ever going to be compatible with living together. No matter how calm, gentle, gorgeous, understanding, tolerant, helpful and supportive he is. And he is.

Well, this week it came to me.

I will have a study.

It will have my desk and swivel chair on wheels and office things.

And it will have a sofa for reading and computer on lap, writing.

And most importantly it will have a door, which can be shut to guard and protect my solitude or time to think or read or write and all will be well.

Last week I realised that I aspired to guards and this week they’ve turned up, in the unexpected shape of a door.

I might seem an obvious solution but until I let it be alright that I needed those things, that they were valid, that solitude is healthy and not always an antisocial thing and that it needs taking care of, I wasn’t ever going to see how to take care of them.

This is a subtle but big shift for me to allow what’s important to me to be happily taken into account WHEN there are others to also be taken into account. When I’m on my own it’s no problem to go right ahead and take care of things. When there are others there I (until now) have to take care of them before I take care of myself. Big shift.

The pain

Nine points this week.

A selection of the pain

Clenched jaw on holiday

It’s our half term holiday and my wee man had a few days in London with friends planned. My ears pricked up and my eyes raised themselves skyward in the way that they do when they think (somehow) that’s where they need to scan for signs…. to see if it’s true that I might be about to have a few days of solitude and freedom from day to day responsibilities.

They scanned, it was true. Woo hoo.

I checked my diary, cleared a bit and wrote myself a permission slip for 2 days off.

It was meant to be for leisure. For reading. Fiction.

And eating whatever I felt like cooking, egg sandwiches if I didn’t feel like cooking.

Wine with lunch if I was in the mood for that.

I nestled in……

Doris Lessing ……………….yes

Local free range eggs ….yes

Alarm clock off……………… yes

Answer machine on…….. yes

Let the reading commence.

But my to do list would not vacate the space at the back of my eyeballs and let me have two days off.

Beauty and order. It wanted me to take care of the things that make things lovely to look at and work effortlessly.

To do list. Sweep the pebbles and leaves off the patio and weed along the wall.

Me.             But I want to read.

To do list.  Yes that’s fine…after you do these things.

Me.              I thought I was the one in charge here.

To do list.   Ha ha ha ha ha.

Me.               Would you look at that. My jaw is tense and I’m on holiday.

To do list.   Ha ha ha ha ha.

We negotiated. But goodness me, there’s an issue here.

Pain I did something about

What you need not being things generally recognised as being needed, but asking for them anyway.

This follows on directly from the  jaw clenching.

I need things I’m surrounded by to be beautiful and cared for if I am to function well and think clearly free of distraction.

Also. Routine maintenance jobs which attend to the above beauty, bore. me. rigid.


So….Princess. Get your lazy bottom off your silk cushion and get cleaning already.

It’s not ok is it?

So it’s ok for the doctor in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to read at lunchtimes and have people scurry round looking after him and making sure his reading time is sacred. I know he’s a fictional character but the point is there’s no balking at the description, just a dreamy eyed longing for such a set up.

And it’s ok for Somerset Maugham to write every day from 8 – 12 and then lunch with his guests on the patio and exercise in the afternoon and have people do all the domestic lookings after. I know that’s from a byegone age but still, there’s people not so far from me now, for whom this would be ok.

But if I were to do that (work part time and still get help) it would not be ok, (according to my mind).

This week I made it, (gulp) ok with myself that this is the case, and said it out loud to another human being. And now I’m saying it to you. (Gulp).

I’m yet to work out how this could be the case or to make any firm arrangements but I’m clear just what the ideal conditions would be for me to really enjoy working the way I’d like to work. Hello year of pleasure.

The balance of support needed to embrace a certain challenge is different for everyone. I’ve found it hard to ask for what I need when it’s different from the accepted norm. (I hate Norm).

Physical needs are clearer. If you have a broken leg it’s perfectly accepted that you’ll need crutches to get about and that you’ll be slower for a while. No-one says slacker, get a move on.

If you need a wheelchair to get about, there’s no question, it’s plainly what you need.

If you’re new in a role you’ll need to get to know certain things before you can function.

If you’re paralysed by routine tasks you ……..have to carry on with them anyway? That’s not an accepted state of play. No wonder depression rates are high.

I’m in hopeful anticipation of  what could happen now that a point of acceptance is here. No matter what anyone says. This is how it is.

All in all

A surprising week of accepting the previously unacceptable.

How about you?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Your pleasure, pain or pain you did something about.

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If this sounds like your kind of thing but you’d like to know more about this year of pleasure, then here it is.