Rip it up and start again

Do you ever go through a phase were everything suddenly feels old or stale or just plain wrong? Your favourite foods give you no joy,  your favourite exercise class holds no appeal, not even a Grand Designs marathon on the telly gets your heart racing. You're twitchy and cranky and toying with the urge to stand up in a middle of an important meeting and bellow Homer Simpson style, BORRRRRRRING! before stalking off into the sunset?

There's been a stinky little pot of discontent brewing on my stove for a long while, but I don't think I really acknowledged it until I was away in Australia. The distance from the everyday grind helped me look back with more clarity. Spending time with lovely friends old and new and hearing them talk so passionately about their work and lives made me see that things aren't quite right.

I need new purpose and meaning and direction. I had some big ass dreams this last almost-decade – lose a little lard, go overseas, write a book that I felt such urgency to write. I never thought I'd actually do any of those things so it's bewildering to be here. It often feels like an accident, a series of fortunate coincidences that I didn't really deserve and after that really cool diversion I'm back with the real me, the same confused twerp of my teens and twenties.

Then there is a small and hopeful part that believes I must have more to offer to the world, that I can feel alive and engaged and passionate again instead of barely there with the annoying black dog humping my leg and licking my face.

I don't have the answers yet so can't tie this entry up in a neat little package but I do feel hopeful after my trip Down Under. I'm ready to do stuff to help clear my mind and move forward, instead of just dozing on the train to Tedium Town.

Right now I am shaking things up in small ways; throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. I am going out into the (limited) sunshine. I am reading a book called I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, how sad does that sound? (Thanks LBTEPA πŸ™‚ I'm looking at my neglected 43 Things list to remember things I want to do and reflect on things I've done to remind me I am capable of being bold and digging myself out of holes.

Just wanted to say again, thank you everyone for reading and writing all these years. It means an awful lot.

66 thoughts on “Rip it up and start again

  1. Hi Shauna,

    Holidays are great for giving you time to reflect on things, aren’t they? I’m sure you’ll think of some changes you’d like to make soon – your list of goals looks like a great idea.

    (I do know how you feel. I’m currently trying to persuade my husband it would be good to move to the coast – I’m pretty bored where we are at the mo, but realise I can’t uproot the whole family just like that.)

    Whatever you decide to do, please keep blogging!! Really missed your posts when you were in Oz.

  2. @Rachel – No worries πŸ™‚ Maybe some day but need to get our finances and living situation a wee bit more sorted, arrgh!

    @Lucy – Thanks comrade. The coast sounds goooooood! Maybe it’s just spring time, eh? The urge to spring clean not just the pantry and loo but your whole bloody life? πŸ™‚

  3. I’m feeling your pain Shauna. I said to my husband this morning “what if we just left it all and moved to Key West”. If you have any giant breakthroughs let us know. I could use some inspiration!

  4. I feel you, girl. I feel like I’m in a holding pattern, and that life awaits if I can just get out of this ridiculous orbit. Hope you get inspired or enlightened soon!

  5. I think it is the time of year but your trip to Oz is bound to have had an effect, hope things feel better soon, but don’t desert us, keep blogging, we love you!!! x

  6. This post really spoke to me. I have been feeling in a life rut myself – full of blah and boredom. I’m having a baby in a few weeks so while that will certainly shake things up, I also feel like there are many other adventures to pursue regarding the whole “what to do with my life?” question. Looking forward to seeing where life takes you!

  7. Hi Shauna! I’ve been reading your blog for ages (and I love your book) but this is my first ever comment! I just wanted to chime in about the “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” book. I read it a few years ago when I was having a post-college career meltdown and identity crisis and it was so helpful. The same author has another book called “Refuse to Choose” that I really like, in case you discover that you’re a scanner (like I am) and are at a loss about how to actually make a career out of that. Good luck with everything and keep on blogging on! πŸ™‚

  8. That book sounds fascinating. I wonder if it is appropriate for a 54 year old to not know what they want to do…I don’t know if I don’t know, or if there are so many things, and I can’t seem to commit passionately to any of them.

  9. This post rings so true with me – I’m not happy about something, well specifically my work, but I’m damned if I know what I want to be doing instead. The rest of my life is slowly getting where I want it (I think) … but work … yuck. I’m not sure that sodding off abroad and owning a windsurfing club is really a viable career objective though … :-s

    In the meantime I enjoy reading about your life – FAR more interesting than mine!

  10. I think everyone has to have this kind of feeling at least once in their life – it reminds us that we can’t rest on our laurels or whatever the saying is… I’m positive you’re going to find the next great thing, it’s only a matter of time. I can remember having a similar feeling after teaching English in China for a year – for me, I repatriated following that experience and found myself frustrated that the next step in life wasn’t just laid out like the first day of school outfit your mom picks for you. I don’t think you’ll be spinning your wheels for long, though. πŸ™‚

  11. @Diana – Yes! Laurel resting always makes me feel guilty. Gotta move on on on, as they say in the classic tune “Funky Town”.

    Thanks all for your comments groovers and for indulging my rant… been trying to write around it for six months so just needed to spew my guts.

  12. How I know that feeling! It stinks that after success, whether big or small, there is always that “OK, Now what?” feeling.

    I hope you find you’re next step, and remember it doesn’t have to be a giant leap to still be fulfilling!

  13. Love that book title actually, all the verve in the world doesn’t make much difference if you don’t know what you want to DO with it!

    It’s spring, and the early thirties, and life sinking in.

  14. I have been reading your book and just popped online a few times. I find you a big inspiration. I think now a days with so many choices, adventures, actions, ways to live your life, we often get scared or confused. Having all these options is thrilling and scary and well we sometimes stay safe as well.

    I know that I can relate, sometimes its just making lists and meditation that can really help your focus πŸ™‚


  15. Hey Shauna. Can definitely identify with your pain. I think there’s always a kind of let down after completing something big–like doing a marathon, writing a book & going on tour, moving, getting married, living in a new country. Oh, wait, haven’t you done all those things in the past few years? πŸ˜‰ Seriously, though, you are a smart cookie & you’ll find your way. That angst you feel has been felt for centuries & by some damn wise folks. Look for solace & wisdom in books, friends, family, & most of all, yourself. You will find the answers you seek. Just keep looking.

    & keep writing!

  16. Shauna… first, THANK YOU for all that you’ve already done. In the past month I discovered and read your entire blog as well as your book, and feel that you are one of those amazing and rare writers who has the ability to not just describe, but actually bring the reader into your experience and allow him/her to feel like your best friend. I’ve enjoyed it so much… have laughed out loud with delight many times… and I’m 54 years old and quite fussy about what I like to read!

    Anyway, during the course of reading your wonderful blog, which included hearing you mention many times your love of travel, I found myself thinking what a wonderful travel writer you would be. Your ability to bring the reader into your experience would be invaluable as a travel writer. You could be the travel writer “for real people”– starting, perhaps, with writing about Scotland and Austrailia, for people like me who live on the other side of the world who wouldn’t have a clue about all those fun little details like unique food items at the grocery store or places locals like to hang out. Seriously, think about it, and approach one of those magazines you’ve worked with. You do have a journalism degree… so you know your stuff.

  17. Dearest Shauna, I so know how very off this kind of situation can make one feel. I hope you’ll find your new direction, something fresh and new and shiny very soon. I’m very interested to see where things take you. Also, for the record, I think you and Dr. G would have absolutely fabulous children *turbohugs*

  18. Yes, I know exactly what you mean about shaking it up. I’m mid-shake-up right now, what with up and quitting my job. It’s frightening and exciting. Embrace it!

    And I feel like I personally owe YOU a hearty thank you for all the inspiration you’ve provided. You’re wonderful.

  19. I think Becky has nailed it. You need to find someone to pay you to travel and write about it. I would LOVE to find a guide book/website that might tell you about the cool galleries and museums but would DEFINITELY tell you what the best local choccy biccies are!

  20. Hey Shauna! I don’t usually comment here but had to chime in with others to say that you are a fantastic writer (your blogging always grips me, and your book did too). It’d be great to see you push the writing further. Have you got contacts on magazines that you’d like to write for? (I’m guessing you might from the Dietgirl interviews.)

    Also, have you thought about freelancing for other blogs? I’m currently a part-time MA student (creative writing) and I scrape together the rent, bills etc mainly from blogging for a few great sites. It’s work I love, I can do it from anywhere with a net connection, and it pays well.

    Good luck with finding your direction, and I look forward to reading about where you end up going with life!


  21. Hi Shauna – long time reader here too! I know just what you mean. I feel exactly the same way that there must be something I should be doing (with a passion) if only I knew what it was! It must be hard going back to Scotland after the Australian sunsine – any chance that you can persuade the dear Dr to move ??

  22. I think you need a crazy adventure with Phil and I, we’ll give you a taste of home (maybe Phil more so, cause she actually sounds like an Aussie, unlike me!) and an adventure as well…

    we’ll add some spice to your life! :O)

  23. Last time I felt that, I enrolled in a part time course for a year in Marketing. I had no interest in entering that industry, I just wanted to learn about something different. It gave me something to focus on, something different to think about, and it worked! By the end of the year, I was out of the mental rut I was in, had a new qualification and was with the man I ended up marrying!

    At a bit of a crossroads again now – though not so much a rut this time. My husband was made redundant a couple of weeks ago, and I’m due for maternity leave in about a month… We’re thinking of using the opportunity to move well away from where we are and do something new and different. Nothing like changing your life completely when you have a newborn to keep you distracted from any other problems!!

    Good luck with figuring out what you need to do – you’ll work it out!


  24. I too can identify with how you are feeling – I felt a little lost this last year having spent the past 10 yrs travelling, living overseas, studying, fighting an illness etc. All of them gave me something to fight for and then suddenly I had conquered them all.

    Rachel’s comment “Might it be a baby-shaped hole?” cracked me up – my thoughts exactly. That said, I have baby on the brain at the moment so manage to relate everything back to babies (am due in August – a weird hormone thing has kicked in so some freak has taken over my body and just talks and thinks babies all day long – even I am getting sick of her).

    So I can vouch that getting up the duff will certainly give you new focus!! (and think of all the new writing material).

    And if the idea of a wriggling, squawking sultana doesn’t thrill you (am guessing by your reply to Rachel that now is not the time!) then what about a new project to focus on – you’ve proved to yourself that you can do anything, you just need ideas!

    So, ideas:

    1. Travel – anywhere you haven’t been but are kicking to go? Egypt? Africa? Space?

    2. Career – maybe you have always fancied being a lion tamer but never thought you could do it – what have you got to lose by jumping in and giving it a go? It doesn’t do any harm to look up Seek and send out a few resumes and see what happens(feel free to substitute ‘lion tamer’ with writer/journalist, social worker, nudist resort owner etc).

    3. Hubby – anything you have been dying to do to or with your darling? Community classes? A race to see who can sell the most crap on Ebay? (and fund a dirty weekend away – winner is in charge for the weekend!).

    You get the idea. Hopefully, other people have better ideas for you than me – all that keeps popping into my mind is stupid baby-related stuff…!

  25. Hi Shauna! Let me just say THANK YOU for writing this! I look at you and think you have your compass, but I guess our compasses keep changing. I thought I was the only one. You are a success in my book! Now, I’m going to buy that book…

  26. Oh, I know that feeling so well.

    Don’t they say that people change career up to 6 times in their lives these days? I’m sure that applies to everything, not just career – we change direction every 10 years or so and start pursuing something new. Nothing to worry about, totally normal!

    There are heaps of great suggestions here, and that book sounds like a winner, so I’m sure it’s just a matter of thought and experimentation to find a new goal/passion/distraction/whatever.
    Just don’t get down on yourself for not knowing what that is straight away.

  27. Honey, I totally understand that whole ‘I know I have more to offer than THIS’ feeling. Of course, you may not want to follow my example and just up and quit your day job….

    Remember that whatever you are feeling will be harder to handle right now because you are on post-holiday come down. I don’t really know what causes it, maybe a combination of jetlag+end of relaxing holiday, but whenever I’ve returned from overseas I go into a sort of depression. It’s not imaginary (some of my friends get it too) and it’s probably not the time to be hard on yourself about ‘doing something’.

    Does it sound too Bridget Jones to tell you that you are fine ‘just as you are’? You don’t need to do anything earth-shattering or be anything other than what you are in order to be wonderful. You are uniquely fabulous just being you, no matter if you have applause coming your way or not. XX *hugs*

  28. Like the “stinky little pot of discontent” allusion (right word…no idea!!) Think I am in a rancid vat of chocolate-wrapper strewn blahness…soon be no room in here if I eat much more!! Hope you find your mojo again soon xxxhug

  29. Shauna mou πŸ™‚

    Why can’t we just be in my terrace RIGHT now and talk about this?

    There are times we just need to be less of what we are. And it really is fantastic. There is no daily race. Just the quest for a daily pleasure. Or ten!

    The bet is won when the pleasure, moments or hours after its consumption, makes us keep smiling on its remembrance.

    I have trully and fully missed you!!!

  30. I felt just like this when I returned from my holiday. I’m nearly 47. I didn’t come to any sort of conclusion, really, except that I must finish my novel. I think maybe it is the time of year and the need to spring clean body and mind. Good luck with whatever you decide. I agree with people above in that you’re a great writer and really should make a career out of it, if you can. TV presenting would also suit you.

  31. (Let me preface this with saying I LOOOOOVEEEE my kids, they are the cutest, smartest, funniest, most amusing 3 and 2 year olds you could ever come across – no biased there ?@?!!~!)BUT I glad to see that you are not leaning towards ‘oh I must have a baby to fill this void’ – good on you!

    Anyway, I am feeling a little lost myself and yet I know I have so much to be grateful for. Its weird, everything I ever wanted (except a weight loss like yours) has eventuated for me. I have met the man of my dreams, who makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world, he has given me two beautiful babes, we have a house close to the beach, previous to this I had an amazing o/sea’s working holiday experience, and had a pretty good life prior with all the ups and downs that the 20’s offer.

    But all that being said, right now, I don’t know what I want next. What do you do when in reality you have achieved so much and there doesn’t seem to be a next big ‘to do list ahead’. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wish list, and I am working on achieving some of those. But the reality is, we are all bound by finances, committments, work duties etc etc and big change is so much harder/riskier to take at some point. And that is when the ‘what next’ feeling kicks in.

    I can’t tie this together either…How ironic I say that and yet you are such an inspiration to me. You have achieved so much and been so brave – so always hold your head high. Good luck, will watch this space

  32. I am trying to remember how old you are – ?

    I am very thankful that you are still writing – after all these years – look forward to reading about your new adventures.

  33. Hey Shauna,
    Am reading your blog after loving your book – we were married in the same chapel!
    There’s a great book called ‘Thirty something and over it’ by Kasey Edwards, she talks about what to do when you lose your ‘give a shit’…may not give you the answers but it does get you thinking. She’s an Aussie author so happy to post you my copy if you like.
    Take care

  34. Oh WELL DONE you Shauna. You’re right, it must be unnerving to have achieved all those big, huge, seemingly impossible goals. But I applaud you for continuing to push the boundaries, continuing to try and make your life better – rather than just sitting back, on your laurels and turning to mush.

    You don’t have to make these decisions right now. And you don’t have to make perfect choices. You have time and space and a whole life ahead of you to try out some new stuff, work out who you are and what you want to do. Think about where you are going.

    And I have to say, I can’t wait to hear about your “journey” (blurgh word, but the best I could come up with at 8pm). And what happens to Dietgirl next. Good luck dearie.

  35. “I Could Do Anything…” is practically my bible. Not all of us come into this world with a well-defined purpose in life and unfortunately I am one of them. Many starts and stops and dead-ends along the way but this book always helps me to feel hopeful that I’ll find that passion that gives more meaning to my life. Great post!

  36. Write your novel, Shauna. For advice and encouragement read: How to Write a Bestseller by Celia Brayfield. Only after you’ve got a few novels under your belt should you consider the distant prospect and vague and remote possibility of taking a crack at motherhood. AS IF! Perhaps. Maybe. Sometime. Never. Whatever. If a girl hopes to write a novel at some point in your life, then she should write it before she finds herself in thrall to maternalised domestic bliss, because history shows it’s kind of trickier aftewards.

  37. I’ve kind of been feeling like I’m “dozing on the train to tedium town” myself. I’m not sure what to do about it, but it is definitely a problem. I have DEFINITELY had the urge to stand up in a meeting recently and bellow “BORRRRIING!!” at the top of my lungs. My job is great as far as the pay and the low stress level, but it isn’t the most fulfilling otherwise. That said, I’m thankful I have it given the economy. I just think I need some new goals outside of work to fuel me throughout the day.

    I hope you figure out what will spark and inspire you. I have to say, selfishly, that I hope to figure that out for myself as well. I’m with you, girlfriend.

  38. I’m waiting for a book about living in Scotland… I love all your posts on WNP, especially the ones where you experience new uniquely Scottish things!

  39. Sounds like you’re searching more for meaning and purpose than for just something to do. And also maybe feeling boxed in by the Dietgirl thing.

    Hope you figure out a new project to tackle.

    By the way, your comment on my blog makes me wish that they would rerun other countries’ TBL on our cable channels. I’d like to see what is different on the different countries’ shows.

  40. I was going to say baby, maybe not.

    Hey are’nt you are publish author? Are’nt you meant to rich enough to quit work and live on a tropical island.LOL

    When you came out to aussie. I half expecting you to announce some appearances and book signing stuff.The trip could of been a tax right off

    Seriously I hope you find something to get you out of the rut.


  41. Yeah – that blah feeling. I think of it like gardening. How long do you work at your little plot before giving up and moving to a better/different one and if you move, will it be better?? A tricky choice.

    Good luck with your quest, but really, any progress is meaningful; it doesn’t have to be world shattering. You’ve just set the bar pretty high for yourself over the last few years.

    Lesley x

  42. Hehe… nice one Katt πŸ˜›

    I know you were LOLing, but I get the “why do you have a day job?” comments all the time! People’s perceptions of authors seems to be quite different from the reality. For most it’s more about the lurve than the money πŸ™‚

    The ALCS did a big survey of UK authors in 2007 with some interesting findings:

    Β· A typical professional authors’ income is 33% less than the national average wage
    Β· UK’s writers operate in a ‘winner takes all’ market – the top 10% of authors earn more than 50% of total income.
    Β· Only 20% of writers earn all their income from writing.
    Β· 60% of professional writers need another job to survive.

    Thank you groovy groovers for all the comments, thoughts, ideas, etc πŸ™‚ You RAWK!

  43. Shauna thanks for those facts the media has a lot to answer for. I think we focus on all the real well known authors and think every one that writes a book must rich. I think we live more with perception than reality sometimes.

    Hope that makes sense my brain is still defosting from this morning temp, minus two in Melbourne brrr it was really cold.

  44. Ah, gotta love moments like this in life. Hey, it’s what makes things interesting.

    But seriously, from your book, to all the archived posts I’ve read, your an amazing person. I’m sure you’ll find your way πŸ™‚

  45. Actually, I’ve always thought you need to be on television, and I don’t understand why no producers have had the foresight to snap you up.

  46. Steady on there Shauna girl πŸ˜‰

    I bought my sister a copy of “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was”. After 11 years in the Navy, she trained to become a beauty therapist.

    For the record? She’s booked out well in advance and loves her job. That book – albeit cheesey as – CAN change lives.

    Good luck,
    Linda J

  47. You know what really rocks? It’s your honesty. I DO have those moments of waking up and saying “Oh, Ugh, is this what my life is?” Sometimes, it’s lovely old Depression. I’ve had 2 bouts in my lifetime–once without medication, and once with. Your book mentions that, too.
    But it seems like job dissatisfaction rears its head for you. I still say that you wrote one beautiful, accessible, terrific book. It is something you are great at, you have garnered all kinds of loyal fans. Is writing for profit the thing that will allow you the most flexibility and freedom in life? I would read anything you put in print. I think outside of writing great novels–I’d especially love to see you freelance in magazines. Or have a regular column. By the way, I wrote to Oprah’s show website and suggested she have you on.
    Love you, Miss Inspiration. Your writing always makes me think of what a wonderful person you would be to know. I think you have all the gifts you need to be wildly happy and independently wealthy. I blather on here, but I mean it.

  48. I hear ya. That’s one reason I decided to train for a half marathon – something big and different enough that I get that “new and shiny” experience, without completely and totally ripping my life up and starting anew. Did that 2 years ago and don’t regret it, but more subtle was the key this time. Good luck figuring it out!

  49. I am *totally* with you on the whole “need to shake things up”. I hope you find what you’re looking for…. in fact, *I* hope *I* find what I’m looking for too! haha….

    I love the 43 things site… it really has helped me the past few years to “remind” me of my goals. Hope you can cross some off soon! (or, review/change any of them)

  50. I read your post nodding frantically. I’m having similar feelings since finally finishing my PhD and my licensure as a psychologist. It had been my main goal for my entire adolescent/adult life to date. The “now whats” were extremely strong about a month after my final exam. One exercise that my friend told me helped her (I’m resisting doing it myself, because I think it sounds kind of hokey) is to think about what you would want written in your obituary/said in your eulogy, and then work backwards to fulfill those goals before that fateful day. I will probably break down and do it, so I don’t continue to feel aimless, but I have to get over the “hokeyness” factor. Anyway, good luck with the shake-up. I’m sure you know you’ve got lots of people you inspire, make laugh, and make think on a daily basis!!

  51. May I be so bold as to suggest you start a whole new blog? Stop writing as Dietgirl – been there, done that. Keep it online for the benefit of dieters everywhere, but close the comments and shut the door.
    Your work here is DONE.

    ((big hug))

  52. Hey lovely DG

    This reply has been a long time coming so apologies! I sooooo got where you were at with this post. And clearly so did so many others. I have written something on core beliefs (well, I haven’t, my lardbusting pal has), which I hope resonates for you. (It was when you wrote, “I never thought I’d actually do any of those things so it’s bewildering to be here” that prompted me to make it happen.) I got her to write it for you, me and anyone else on the weight loss/maintenance train!

    Anyway, keep on keeping on. You are so talented (just take the compliment!) and bring so much joy (with the occasional tear jerker thrown in!) to us all and we love you for it.

    You’ll find your way, I know you will.

    Massive hug. xxxxxxx

  53. Sounds like you’re on a new journey…very exciting. In know things look a bit clouded when you’re in transition, but I have no doubt that you’ll find your way. Me thinks the author in you is getting restless, and I can’t wait to buy (and of course read) your next book. You’re a brilliant writer and you’ve definitely got the gift, so get going πŸ˜‰

  54. Me too!!!!

    Just. Me too!

    I’m thinking about changing career, getting more qualifications, perhaps winging my little businesses on my own… Just yes. Right there with you.

    PS, liked the visual on the black dog humping your leg πŸ˜‰

  55. Hi! You have totally changed my life. Eventhough you are in a funk just remember the great things that you have written and that you have inspired others like me. I have already emailed you part of this but I started the Medifast diet after reading your book on Feb. 1. I have lost 40 lbs and won the biggest loser contest at my Jazzercise class. I am now transitioning to Weight Watchers because I am afraid that I won’t be able to keep this up after school lets out. I talked about your book at my first WW meeting to help others. Also, I am having a surgery for a hernia repair so I decided to do a little breast lift/augment at the same time. So see all of my weight loss has helped me get new boobs thanks to you! What about writing a weekly column for a newspaper or something? I think that would be awesome. Your writing skills and humor are fantastic. Also, are you working on a DG t-shirt because I would certainly wear it.

  56. OMG Shauna! This is exactly how I was feeling for the last couple of months…I think I’m out of the funk now that I had a new project arrive at my brains doorstep the other night…it seems that this is the only way for me.

  57. Hiya Shauny!

    Time to do something scary again, I’d say. Nothing is as satisfying as getting over a deep and dark fear.

    Talk in public? Run a dieting support group?
    And never stop learning, even if it’s just bookkeeping or dog grooming. Have you ever tried yoga or TM?

    Your blog is my daily point of reference (yes, that’s sad, I know! But I’m suffering for the good of the long-term plan!) and I love, love, love it.


Comments are now closed on all Dietgirl posts. For fresh conversation please visit me at