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i love my jobThe close of one academic year leads to thoughts of the summer ahead and the arrival of another academic year in the autumn: one cycle ends, another begins. And whilst there is always a need to start preparations for the new year before the summer ‘recess’, I am keeping in mind how easy it is to flow from one cycle to the next without proper time for withdrawal and renewal - making space for what Fritz Perls would call the ‘fertile void’. Maybe because I have just shepherded my first cohort through the two year MSc programme this particular year end has had me reflect on the nature of my work. I re-trained as a therapist, in part, to make my leave from academia; and yet I find myself ‘back in’. As much as I love the interaction with trainees and engaging in the scholarship and mastery of my new profession that University life offers, I still find myself recoiling somewhat from academic processes (and admin!).

I’m a realist though, and I appreciate that all work comes with the polarities of enjoyment and obligation. How we carry our work depends a lot on our attitude, how we view what we do and how it contributes to our life situation; how it helps us meet our passions, our purposes; and how it helps us grow as individuals, in relationship; and how it provides meaning - a reason to perhaps get up in the morning. How do you view your work? I thought I would share a few ideas I have in the post this week.

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holding onWhen I see people around me struggling - friends, family, colleagues, clients and indeed myself - I wonder how we keep going. A client asked me yesterday “how do I keep going with the daily grind when all this is blowing up around me?” I know this from my personal experience: how do I get up and continue my life, go to work, or engage in community when my internal world feels so chaotic or empty? How do we get the children to school, turn up and do a days work, keep the household in order when life is unstable, when our inner world is on the verge of exploding outward? Freud wrote about the need for work and love, vital components that bring a thread of consistency, stability. Ground to hold on to when everything feels groundless. I’ve been considering this a lot recently: seeing friends go through relationship break ups, illness diagnosis, job loss threat - how do we carry on when often the mundane feels so unimportant compared to our inner woes.

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Its taken some time to get the blog post title this morning: various attempts to frame my view on anxiety - it used to be a foe of mine. “Used to”, not because its gone away, its often a visitor (although as I write, its not, probably because I am giving it some air time). Rather it used to be a foe - now I have allowed it to be here with me, a companion of sorts, although I have also learnt to not give it a constant identity: its textures, speed, colour, tone…they all shift. Sometimes it is in the foreground, other times it recedes.

Anxiety seems to be in the air right now: less so for me, but certainly for many of my clients and the students I work with at the University (the end of the academic year meaning marks and futures being decided). My own struggles with anxiety over the years allow me to get alongside these people; to know how crippling anxiety can be and how urgently its grip wants to be overturned. Being in my awareness, I’ve noticed that quotes about anxiety have been catching my eye - so this week, I wanted to share a few with you.