It is 11:00, I am late for my next meeting. I  run out of the building, and smile a distracted hello at a colleague from IT. I curse myself for forgetting to pack an afternoon snack for my daughter, and to talk about season greetings cards for our partner universities. Again.

I turn out onto the street: The morning fog has lifted, leaving behind sleek dark pavements shining in the curiously warm sunlight. I hear a tram, birds, the ridiculous whirr of a moped. The air smells musty, with a hint of diesel fumes, and warm bread. I stop in my tracks and smile.

However tough the last few months have been, little moments of grace have been reminding me that life is beautiful:

  • I spent a week in the UK scoffing biscuits visiting dear friends, which was wet but great.UK visit


  • The day after the Paris attacks last month, Mr Xmas and I hiked high above the valley, to catch our breaths, feel the sun, and anchor ouselves in the quiet mass of the mountains.


  • I completed a course in mindfulness, which is a kind of meditation.

It made me laugh at times, and I still do wonder if what I’m doing is meditation or just sitting-on-my-bed-very-still-focusing-on-my-breathing, but somehow, I find it helpful.Meditation

Other than that, work is erm, interesting… I spend virtually my entire time trying to stabilise my team, with four new staff and a steady stream of crap coming our way. Yeah.

This means that 6 months into the job, I still know very little about international relations. My own management sometimes takes an issue with this on the grounds that I am the head of International Relations,  not Make It Up As You Go Along. I can see where they’re coming from, but hey, I’m doing what I can.

When I get home to a tired pre-teen who refuses to come down for dinner because: “I don’t want to see you”, and his tired six year old sister who refuses to eat the soup I’ve made because: “it’s disgusting”, I often get the urge to find a very large bin to throw them both into get the distinct feeling that I am failing as a mother too.

This has taken its toll, and I often feel bone-tired.

Thankfully, Mr Xmas is true to his word and picks my daughter up two nights a week, my mum came to the rescue last week, I have stopped taking my computer home, and somehow, I am still (mostly) standing.

I am also thankful that chronic overload keeps my mind from dwelling on the fact that I am single and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future I don’t live in Syria, Irak, Sudan, or Afghanistan.

My oldest brat son keeps listening to this strangely addictive song.

The FatRat – Monody (feat. Laura Behm)


10 thoughts on “Running

  1. Sadly that sense of exhaustion rings a few bells here, and I also do not live in one of the war-torn areas of our troubled globe but when you lose your sense of perspective and life becomes something to deal with rather than enjoy you have to change something, either in yourself or your circumstances. That is what I am telling myself anyway, although part of me seems to tired to hear. One thing which does raise my morale is seeing blog posts from people I like so thank you for posting this. It brought a smile of recognition to my face, and a smile of any sort is always a blessing 🙂

    • Dear Peter, thanks for your kind words, but are you ok?
      You sound both tired and down, so I hope the sun comes out from behind the clouds soon for you.
      I do recommend seeing the film called “Demain” (tomorrow) if it comes out in the UK: It is the antidote to all the crazy carry-ons in the world, an ode to all the usually untold great initiatives everywhere in the world. Even in the midst of carnage and despair, the world remains full of hope. Big hugs xoxo

  2. If it’s any consolation this sense of crazy-busy-ness is universal (reading your post is strangely comforting to me – if that makes sense!). I have been reaching the “end” of myself these past weeks with life in complete overload mode and am literally counting down the days to the school holidays! Great stuff on the mindfulness course. Mindfulness IS watching the breath in parts so if you are watching your breath you are on the right track. The key is to not think of anything else WHILE watching your breath 🙂 Re.. pre-teens…luckily MY pre-teen is a girl so I am still very much on the “inner circle” for her and am not shut out but her Dad bears the brunt similar to what you are describing. I am bracing myself for when my son becomes a pre-teen and I am on the receiving end!! Sending you so much love and strength and Christmas bisous xxxxxx

    • Hey Emma, you’re right, so many parents feel like they’re stuck on a hamster wheel, I find it baffling.
      I have a really good life, yet the moments when I feel I can truly enjoy it are few and far between. Most of the time, I just try to keep my head out of the water, which is ridiculous.
      As for mindfulness, I find it interesting, it’s a good way to counter the constant pressure to keep up.
      Re-pre-teens, ouch, what’s it going to be like when he reaches actual teenage?? 😉
      Lots of love to you and yours for Christmas xxx

  3. I so enjoy you and your writing. I love the little crossed out “real thoughts” which are somehow less real because there is a line through your words. It gets me every time. I think your handling yourself just great so hang in there. And yes, do congratulate yourself on completing the mindfulness course. Even if you are your left leg, you are an awake left leg. I end up a snoring pile of drool whenever I try anything remotely like mindfulness.

    • Dear Sandra,
      I take your comment as a huge compliment as I am a fan of your writing!
      The mindfulness course was a surreal and funny experience at times because it is so far from my default scientific-approach comfort zone, but I did enjoy it, and the host of little tips and techniques do help me cope…
      Anyway, hoping that the sun is shining on your week, with as few ups and downs as possible 🙂

  4. I love your sense of humor and fun sense of self. I feel like we’d be friends in real life.

    I’m glad Mr. Xmas has kept true to spending time with your daughter. And I’m glad you two have maintained a nice relationship where you can go hiking and appreciate these moments together. Beautiful picture, btw.

    Also glad to hear mum helped you and you are still standing. Work sounds crazy for you and trying to balance kids – especially spritely ones – with all that can make one feel like they’re running on fumes.

    Btw, I won’t judge you if you actually throw that bin at any of your kids. Lol! I sure as hell have a few moments I’m not proud of but lost it and now my kids know not to mess with me. Lol! 😉

    I wish you a wonderful Christmas with lots of good sleep and obedient kids! Xoxo

    • Hey Athena! Know what, I think you’re right, we probably would be friends in real life 😉
      Mr Xmas and I took a while to figure out how to be friends again, but I think we’re finally getting there…
      Thanks for the compliments and well-wishes for the festive season: let’s hope that my kids hear you!
      Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas too: you’ve such a long way since the last one…

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