Friday Feels…Hectic: On Creating Empty Space

Friday feels…hectic.  You know that cupboard (we’ve all got one) with the door that you’ve got to close really quickly in order to stop everything falling out?  The cupboard that you know, next time you open it, will crush you with an avalanche of stuff?  My life feels a bit like that at the moment: crammed, stuffed, over-filled, ready to burst. (6)That’s not a bad thing, by the way.  I love how hectic my life is.  There is always something to do, everything seems full of excitement and energy and ambition.  I love that.  In fact, when I’ve got nothing to do, I become morose and fed-up.  I lambast a world full of pettiness, drivel, and…well, flatness really.

Between promoting John Sharpe, writing my second book, keeping this blog going,men-311210_640 doing my day-job, spending time with family (and the dog: he gets very grumpy if I don’t show him due attention), freelance writing and editing jobs, reading for fun, reading to review, learning French, and planning the future, it’s hard to get a spare
thought in edgeways – and I love it!  My parents have been visiting this week too, so time is even more squeezed.   It’s no wonder that my chubby little thighs and I don’t get much exercise in!

All of this though, as great as it is, means that it’s almost impossible to shut that cupboard door.  And my brain, well – it just won’t shut up, not even when I want it to!  I read a joke once that said that a woman’s brain is like Internet Explorer with 259 tabs open at the same time.  I don’t know how well that applies to the rest of the female populace but for me, that’s a pretty accurate description.  I have brain tabs open for everything, and I’m thinking of at least ten things at once.  I even spent some time training myself to be able to competently multi-task.

Rollkartei_hgIt’s great, for the most part, having a busy brain.  Except we all need down-time and as much as I’d love to be able to survive on a mere one or two hours sleep, I know that without decent down-time I will be much less productive and what I produce will be significantly below par.  Bed time is the worst.  That’s the time that Confidence and Paranoia come out to play.  Whilst Confidence spins through my thoughts like an old-school Rolodex, Paranoia has become much more subtle.

“You’ve only got a finite number of heartbeats,” he says.  “And you’re wasting them lying here.  There goes one – you’ll never get that one back.  Oops, and another.  And another.  And another.”  In other words, why waste time sleeping when you’ll be sleeping forever before you know it?  All the while, Confidence dances with glee as he lists all the exciting possibilities that tomorrow will bring – all the things that we can read and write and do.


Roy (my beloved) says the problem is that I keep filling my brain with stuff but really, I need some empty space.  Men have empty space, he says.  The thought of empty space in my head frightens me – like a hole in the head.  A missing part.  An inefficient, ineffectually used part.  A waste, just as Paranoia would say.  But perhaps he’s right (Roy now, not Paranoia).  Perhaps what I need is not more time (although more time would be great), but an empty space to go to when I need my brain to be quiet.

So I decided, lying in bed last night as Confidence and Paranoia slapped each other like children, that I would create myself an empty space – but what would my empty space look like?

Not an empty room, bare and morose, full of sadness and full of lacking.  No, it Stockholm Public Librarydefinitely can’t be that.  So a happy place, maybe?  A library full of wonderful books and a roaring open fire, a big comfy chair and some tasty treats.  But no, I decided.  It couldn’t possibly be that.  How would I stay calm with all those books around me?  I’d be up and prancing, reading titles and pulling books from shelves with delight.  So no library then.

I settled, then, on a tiny desert island, just big enough for me, a deck chair, a little table, and a big glass of Sangria (adorned, of course, with some sparkly bits).  Maybe the dog too.  And a book, because one book is okay, right?  So I went to this empty space last night, and I sat there, the heat beaming down on me, the sun glittered sea bobbing away, sand between my toes, and the qwaring of the birds above and I was happy for a while, enjoying the empty space and the banishment of Confidence and Paranoia.  The peace and quiet.

But then I started thinking again.  What if I need a wee?  (Because these things worry me).   What if the phone rings and it’s an emergency?  What about when I get that awesome idea that I need to write down immediately?  What if indeed.  I suppose I could always wee in the sea but other than that, I’m stuck on a desert island!  And alas, the answer came to me: a magic portal back to the real world, sat just behind me at the back of the island.  So there it is, my empty space but of course, with an in-built get-out clause, because my empty space couldn’t be truly empty now, could it?


What’s your empty space?


  1. Its a tricky one, finding the time and mental space to just sit and relax with nothing going through your head, just chilling.

    I begrudge watching tv or a film sometimes, becuase I know I could be writing an article or doing something more productive, rather than thinking I’ve worked my ass off today and I deserve that down time, that empty bit of space just for me.

    But on the other hand, if the goal is to be somebody who is productive and successful then, tv or this empty space isn’t the answer.

    There is a reason why we don’t see adverts for high performance products like Ferrari, Rolex, Prada etc, becuase the people who can afford them don’t watch television, they are out at a meeting, reading that book that will help them do better, sending that email or something else.

    I don’t know why television is so prominent to me here.

    There is a quote I took from a video by Gary Vaynerchuk who is a very motivational business leader that goes “Its not how much you sleep, its how much you do when you are awake.”

    He aparently only sleeps 5-6 hours a night.

    But I find just sitting there and cutting of my thoughts pretty easy, as long as I shut down my laptop and go somewhere out of reach of it.

    Just me 2cents.



    1. An excellent 2 cents 😀

      First off, I agree with everything you say about TV!

      I’ve tried having less sleep but it turns me into an irritable zombie. I admire and envy those who can happily live on only a few hours a night – I need a solid seven hours (preferably eight) or I turn into uber-bitch from hell! I definitely need down-time but, last night being the perfect example, my brain flits too fast with ideas, plans, thoughts – usually positive, and it keeps me awake. Which in turn means that I am completely useless the following day!

      I think it’s all about finding balance and creating my own little empty space should, I hope, help me to create some balance with the hectic-ness of my mind!

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. My mind never shuts off even in bed – so my trick (which doesn’t always work) is to imagine myself in a slick, silver, streamlined spaceship, which is invincible and can go anywhere or to any time in space and across the universe. 😄. Live long and prosper!!

    1. Wow, don’t you find that too exciting? I’d be off exploring the universe and discovering new and wonderful things haha! If it works for you though, that’s all the counts 🙂

    1. haha thanks Jo! I had a really great night’s sleep last night, after visiting my empty space – I’m not sure the two are related yet, since it’s only been one night but I’m hoping!

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