I was sat on my bed moments before I heard the tragic news of Kate Spade’s death. I remember in the minute before the sun was shining on my face and it felt all warm and lovely, and I was looking out to the view of Brighton station in the distance…I could see the trains pulling in and out and I thought (as I often do) about the people who might be on that train. I thought lazily about where they might be going and what they might be thinking. We’d just put the kids to bed and I remember feeling perfectly content in that moment. I won’t go as far as saying I was “happy” because I feel like as soon as you think “oooh I’m happy” it kind of breaks the mood and ruins it. I much prefer “content”. You see, “content” feels SO good to me these days, after that bleak period of total sleep deprivation and PND when I had with 2 babies under 2. I think you can relish contentness (if that even is a word?!) much more after depression. You appreciate it more. So it felt like such a jolt when I glanced down at my phone to read the tragic news of Kate’s death. The terrible thing is that news of suicides seems so horribly common these days. So often relating to those people we assume “have it all”. In many ways Kate Spade’s life was a replica of my dream. A successful mother with her own business. She’d made her millions by the time her kids came along and was able to sell it and enjoy their upbringing. She was creative. She’d used her talents so wisely. On paper she had the dream. I spend so much time wishing for stuff like this.
My thoughts on a daily basic include…”I want Mum’s Back to be the number 1 market place for mum gifts. How can I get there?” “Oh god, so and so on social media is CLEARLY doing SO much better than me. She’s so popular. I’ll never be that popular. I bet her kid sleeps too…” “I’m getting old! 37! I’ll never make it as a businesswoman, I started too late. I should get a proper job” “I need to have the mind set. Maybe I’m not ‘go getter’ enough” “I’m not doing enough! I need to write more blogs! Get in more papers! Sell more hampers! I’m just not ambitious enough. I’ve got to do 1 hour more work every day and sacrifice Netflix time”, blah blah blah…I could go on.
I am ALWAYS berating myself. For not being successful enough. For not having enough followers. For not selling enough hampers. All these things are so easy to measure supposed “success” by. But let’s, for a moment, imagine I DID fulfil all these aspirations. Would I be any happier than I am now? I’m not so sure the answer is a definite yes. I’ve had some small tastes of success. Nothing major, but successes all the same…..articles published in The Guardian and other National Press. I’ve made appearances on live telly. I’ve spoken to large audiences. The kind of stuff that I probably dreamt of when starting my business just over a year ago. Did it feel good when I achieved those little milestones? Yes it did. But the next day life went back to normal and I went back to wanting more. Always more. MORE MORE MORE. I’m not sure this want for more ever really stops, does it? For me I think that’s true. I suppose that’s a symptom of the human condition. To always be striving for something. Always needing to make that next step. Not relishing those feelings of content in between.
I realise now the ultimate success (for me at least) is being happy with my lot. Of course, I realise I’m in quite a privileged position so it’s easy for me to say that. I have a husband, 2 kids, food on the table and a roof over our heads. The trick for me is to truly tune in to the gratitude I feel for that. Because I definitely feel it. I just need to focus more on it.
Kate Spade’s death is a reminder on how indiscriminate mental health issues are. We can be the most successful people on paper. We can apparently ‘have it all’. Mental Health conditions don’t give a shit about that. It could be any one of us and we could be at the peak of our apparent “success”.
What Kate’s tragic death has taught me is to try and enjoy the journey more. And those moments of contentment? To really tune into those. Those times I look at the view out my window with the sun on my face and think “that feels nice”…to drink that in and FEEL it. Savour it. Enjoy it. Because to be able to feel that level of contentment is an utter joy and a privilege, and not something to take for granted.