To be at peace today

Today I found myself beside a pool, in the summertime, in another part of the world. 

With my best friend, all of fifty seven years ago.  We were spoiling ourselves with a little ‘extra’ pampering, post weddings, life, relationships and all that goes on in our beautiful, messy, glorious worlds.

Having longed for a pool for so very long, and ok, the body is not what it used to be, I wanted for three things:

  • To remember what it felt like as a young girl to swim.  Really swim, no holds barred. No worrying about the hair, open eyes under water kind of swim.
  • To lie in the sunshine, wet from swimming, heat on water. No stress about sun factors, technology, how I looked but just to lie and feel the beating African sun on my body.
  • To be utterly care free.

Being care free is something I have not felt for a very long time.  Life happens.  

Surrounded by Jasmine scent, white iceberg roses, deep water in a place of prettiness, I could submerge myself in it all for the lazy Saturday afternoon.  Thinking about afternoons of childhood when parents took their naps and we entertained ourselves with diving, mermaid moves and reliving the ideal of ‘chilling’ for the sake of it.

And it was glorious.  And it brought me back to the self sans FOMO, sans the next day, the next year, the next everything. 

A peaceful afternoon is a prolific experience.  A little burnt, cool, a little must get the body into shape, cool, the water experience, uber cool x

Bestie and moi got much planning achieved – like in the old days.

 

Embracing Autumn. Cosy up.

 

I wonder what Guy Fawkes would think of all this fuss about him today?  

Autumn time is a favourite of mine.  Could it be because I have an October birthday, or the intensity of the colour palette she presents to us?  Jewel colour time.  Auburns, russets, burgundy. Claret, mushroom and mink.  Nature is clear: orange, red and brown are grand at this time of year.  Poetry is grand with the Autumn mists and all that. 

In the midst of Autumn mist.

Nature may be falling asleep for awhile.  Tattered landscapes and musty earth conjures up thoughts of long walks and hot soup.  Bracing outdoor moments with slow indoor chilling.  If you don’t have a fireplace, not to worry, hot toast and lashing of butter have the same effect. Hot chocolate and dark red wine are called for too.

 

Think of Autumn decor in your home. Bring out the throws, the accent cushions, small accessories to warm your home.  Not much, but a change of season within your home will reflect the seasonal mood. Bring out the favourite casserole pot for hearty stews, baked apples – think thick and spicy.  Think comfort food. Mash and veggies.  Think of this.

 Nigel Slater’s Raspberry and Apple pastries.

Coat comfort.  Forget the standard black, go for a camel tone.  Be bold with red, claret and purple. Invest in statement boots, chunky scarves and textured hats and berets.  Be bold with colour at this time.

 Love this look. Strong Autumn colours, sweeping coat, funky boots.

  

Take care of yourself.  You may indulge in a little more comfort food, but this is also the time to engage in comfort pampering of the body.  Take long baths with scented oils, apply thick layers of moisturising cream whilst still wet for greater effect and nothing like a hydrating face mask when no-one is looking.  Your hair needs extra care so indulge in a hair mask.  The same applies to your hands and feet which tend to get very dry at this time.  Go natural or go bold with Autumn inspired nail polish to match that strong fashion statement you want. Sleep more, wake slowly and nestle a little longer.

  

One of Harper’s Bazaar choice colours for Autumn.

Halloween may be over, but the colour theme transcends through Autumn.

Autumn bless her, can be seen as nature taking care to prepare for a renaissance.  She will leave the dance in a blaze of colour – you should do the same.

Images: Country living. Pinterest. Harper’s Bazaar. The Guardian

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about the ‘Invisibility Syndrome.’

 

 

Times we feel that is all we do.  Exist. But it’s not true.  No matter how ‘invisible’ you feel – you aren’t.  You are unique and you are present.

Why is it that so many women in this Silver Street part of our lives, feel that dejected feeling of being ‘invisible? Just the other day, chatting to a beautiful and vivacious women of a certain age, she said:

‘I just feel, well, invisible right now.’ She is not alone.

It is a tricky time, this time, and many find ourselves at odds with the world.  Children have flown, parents have passed, relationships have changed. A lack of purpose for nurturing and the role we played, pretty well I think, is vacant.  No more mummy, daughter, spouse or whatever required. So what next?

It is a common dilemma amongst us fifty something Silver Streeters.  For those who continue to have positive careers, the void is somewhat lessened, but what if you were a stay at home mom for example?  Or had a part time job whilst building up the other one’s career? What if you were the eternal care-giver and that is no longer needed? What happens now?  Are you too old to begin a business, a new career path, who will hire you, how to you prove your skills – make use of all this experience you have and want to share – where to you begin again to being for the first time? What to do when you feel so low, so invisible at this stage of your life?

  • Give yourself time to just sit and sit, and sit and think.  Times have changed and things have happened.  It is ok to grieve or miss the life you had. To feel vulnerable, even frightened.  Baby steps time. 
  • Take a deep breath and tell yourself you are ok.  You do matter.  You have a lifetime of experience which you can turn into something in an entirely different direction, even if you can’t see that right now.
  • You are valued.  Even if they don’t show it, those you nurtured do appreciate you and everything you mean to them. Recognise that.
  • Have you let yourself go in more ways than one?  Take stock of your appearance, your attitude, your surroundings. You will feel better if you look better, make your environment prettier, sort the world out of the unnecessary, the hanging on stuff and clear the decks so to speak.
  • Begin with your health.  You are the only one responsible for your well being. Exercise and the right diet will transform your inner being, your outer being and charge your mind.
  • Wine is ok.  It is our go to friend if need be, in moderation. Rather than anti-depressants and loads of sleeping pills. Eating too much is not ok.  It is going to bring you down.
  • Stop being an addict to anything.
  • Start a gratitude diary. List the things you are grateful for and act on the small stuff.  Be grateful for something you do everyday.
  • And then, body right, mind right, situation right …
  • Plan.  You can. Recognise that feeling ‘invisible’ to others does not mean being ‘invisible’ to yourself.  You have history, gifts, experience and you are now ready to fly …

 

Step one.  Learning to enjoy what you do and saying no to things you think you should do, but does not make you happy.

You have the strength to start a new business, a new venture and live the life you want to. It may not be the CEO or becoming a neurosurgeon but you have passions right, act on them and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t possible.  It is. Look for inspiration from other women who have done it, against the odds, and surround yourself with friends and inspiring women who will support you.

Most important.  Realise you have decades still to live and only you can make it happen for the better.  Only you have the power to believe you can and act upon it.  Why sit and wait for the world to pity you? Change it. Be it charity work, painting, a small home business, going back to work.  Be it studying for something you love, open your garden to the public or write your life story … just do it!

The invisibility cloak is yours to use when you wish. Don’t make it your favourite fashion item.

And, you are not invisible.  I see you … and I love what I see.

Images Peintres

 

 

Plan for Joy.

 

Luxury is not measured by material possessions, but by love and pure joy.  These two things elevate life from the mundane to the luxurious.’

The past weekend I found myself in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.  The haven that is Franschoek: the occasion, a wedding that will live in my memory forever.  There are three reasons of this:

  • South Africa offers some of the most beautiful wedding venues in the world.  Nature provides the backdrop, be it in the bush, in the vineyards, on the beach … each spectacular, unique. I was reminded of this.  This is why I love doing events and weddings here.
  • The wedding was one long awaited.  Two souls who have been together for a long time,  the bride converting to Judaism to prove her love, a gesture so great, the occasion was sweeter for it.
  • A reunion of lifelong friends.  Literally lifelong as I am part of a group of exceptional women who have stayed friends since birth. Fifty odd years of commitment and joy to each other.  And we celebrated this.  We have led extraordinary lives, times uneasy, times fraught with the living of it, but never without each other’s undying support. I count myself blessed to have a sisterhood unlike any other.

As the sun clipped the top of the Helderberg mountains, turning the landscape a romantic hue of pink, love and joy were tangible for all to succumb to and revel in. We cried in our love for the couple, Tamsin and Jarryd, tears of joy as we witnessed their devotion, depth of  religion, traditions, uninhibited joy. 

Which reminded me:  we have to plan for joy.  

In the daily grind, we plod, through the routines, the schedules, the diary filled with what to do.  We become blasé to that feeling of giddiness, of exultation, of romance in our lives.  Guilty on that score when things seems dull and ugly.  So we must make the effort, we must plan for joy.  In the smallest of occasions, in the grandest of celebration, we must plan to make that moment, as it was for me, a day to remember. The event planning, the months of work, will be worth it, no matter how small the celebration, make it unforgettable and purposeful. Fill your life with flowers, with small gifts for others, put thought into making others happy.  Plan for joy.

 

Then came the interesting comment. ‘You are very brave to attend this wedding on your own.’

I must admit, since I became ‘on my own’, I have avoided weddings and special occasions, for this very reason.  My new, single status seemed ‘without the plus one’ and we know how that feels.  I pondered for awhile and then I said:

I still find myself in that luxurious state of love and unending romance. I find myself exactly where I want to be.’

Let’s just say, I planned for joy, and I found it.

Note to self.  Sometimes you have to make a plan to find joy, it needs some commitment but the rewards are unending.

Are you planning for joy?

PS whilst I was indulging in romance, love and joy in South Africa, my children were celebrating Halloween in London – with planned joy. Divine! Nothing like an occasion to celebrate life xxx

 

Images: Chatz wedding, Tasha Seccombe, Fleur le Cordeur

#boschendal #fleur le corder #okasie #franschoek #southafrica #emilysiannecox

The Gratitude Diary. A personal approach.

‘I realised that my focus was always on the negative and on what had to be done, rather than on what I’d already achieved or the things I could be grateful for.’  Wendy Fry on how a Gratitude diary helped her be more positive.

Times really don’t want all the cheeriness about.  Clichéd quotes and all those preppy, positive utterances which sort of sends me into a deeper depression than the one I am trying to escape from – back off happy hippy!

But, and she says but, I admit to having a gratitude journal.  Sort of.  Actually do, although I don’t write in it everyday and times I have to think really hard about what I can be grateful for – this is tricky when life has just dished out the latest slap on the back of my head sort of thing, so I don’t push it.  I would have to be drug induced to smile everyday with that gratitude label when it ain’t such a great day.

But, I digress.  The journal, at it’s proper time, is great.  And this is how I snuggle up to mine.

  • Morning is best for me.  With a strong espresso and a fluid, black, ink pen.  Early means the day still has plenty of promise.  
  • Everything looks more ‘to be grateful for’ in the morning.’
  • Weird as I am, I usually list one thing that is not so good. Short, sweet, just like that.  Something happened, a diary entry.  Then I write one word to address it – what I am going to do about it.  Sorts that one out.
  • List three things I am grateful for i.e. my children, my ability to travel, my home.  Pick up on the three key points, children, travel and home and think of three ways I am going to enjoy them more. In a short amount of time, I have thought of a day out with my children and something to do in my home – even getting a bunch of flowers would be perfect.

 

(The Flowers I can have, the Hallway?  Still a dream …)

In a quick sip of the espresso, I have dealt with a negative, listed three things I am deeply grateful for, and swung into positive action.

Short and so, so sweet. 

Images:  Gratitude forward TCK, writing forward, Pintrest

 

 

 

The Silver break-up. Should you remain friends with your ex?

dicea2011-0012-0001 We’ll be friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’  

Till death do you part takes on a whole new meaning.’

So the forever stopped, tore apart and lies bleeding in the sand.  It happened, and more disturbing, it seems to happen more and more when we are in our Silver Street part of our lives.  The Grey Divorce is unnervingly common nowadays and personally, I blame it all on the bucket list thing.  But I digress.

From the first stab of separation, until now, it never occurred to me to make someone I loved, an enemy.  I don’t like having enemies.  Yes, things got ugly, yes lawyers had a bloody time and seemed to enjoy it at our expense, but never did it occur to me to not to endeavour to remain friends.  In the end. 

This seems to be contrary to all advice.  Cut him dead, they said.  Cease all communication if you want to move on, they said.  End it.  Spent. Done.  Get over it and eliminate him from your life.  Sorry all, I beg to disagree.  And I will tell you why:

  • At our time, in this Silver Street time, your relationship most likely spanned the best and biggest part of your life.  It meant a great deal. To both of you.  Made each other what you are and it is into those chapters of the good you need to delve. That the relationship did not last is not a loss, but part of life. In creating an enemy you are saying that major part of your life was wrong, and you know it wasn’t.
  • There are most likely children.  They are the result of your time together and they should be accorded the friendship you keep. By respecting their father or mother, you respect them.
  • The futility of hate. 
  • Oh,  that famous blame game. Stupid game. There is always a little bit of blame on both sides, so don’t delve, wail (ok for a little while) but let this define who you are.  That you loved is a great compliment – that you can remain friends, an even greater one.
  • As the years pass, so does the intensity of loss, regret and disappointment.  Instead you begin to remember the fond times, and you know what, your ex is part of that so if it is raw now, remember it will get better.
  • For some, it also meant losing your best friend.  The person who knew you better than most. For some that is the most difficult to deal with, so be a good friend to them, after the hurt, and they will remember how awesome you are. Remaining friends will heal both of you.
  • I defy anyone who wants to live with the knowledge that they hate, bear grudges, feel insignificant and invisible.  Being the better person and forming a new understanding, a different kind of friendship, will aid the healing, give credence to the person you are and allow you to go forward, with peace in your heart.

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May not seem possible, but you will smile at the beautiful times you had.  They are the ones you will remember when the pain subsides, they will be the ones you cling to when Silver turns to Gold.

So, from someone who knows, and chooses to remain friends, I say to you – being friends is what is being grown up is all about.  I choose to love, to be friends and make my life with my ex significant in the most positive way possible.  Tough when they move on and re-marry, uber tough on that score, but only you can choose the new chapter and how the words will be written – and I choose love, in a different, but embracing form.  

Till death do us part, I want to be friends, for our children, for the significance of my life.

When all is said and done, when the battles are fought, and lost, or won, you want to live a full and healthy, positive life.  In our Silver Street, loving the one you lost, in a different way, is the greatest compliment you can give yourself.

We’ll be friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’  

Even longer.’

Images. Pinterest

 

 

Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden

Petersham-Nurseries-Shop-Covent-Garden-1 A shop to love xxx

I remember finding the ‘secret’ Petersham Nurseries many years ago.  Down that hardly seen driveway near Richmond. The sheer delight of going into this gorgeous place never wanes.

And now, it’s come to Londontown.  In the heart of Covent Garden, the shop overflows with vintage, floral and colour.  Grand Chandeliers, oversized cupboards and patterns – it is a botanical infusion.

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Fresh flowers burst from their space in the deli which will tempt you in every way possible.  A cacophony of perfume and choices.  Pale pinks, weathered woods, candles, one feels like privileged guest at a gala and the shop is true to the beautiful nursery near the banks of the river Thames.

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Covent Garden could not be a more fitting corner of London for this exquisite emporium of delights.  If you are visiting London, this is a must see destination.  If you live there, like I do … the giddy delight welcomes me every time I step inside the door.

Images: Covent Garden

Death cleaning. The new renaissance in clutter bashing.

fullsizeoutput_7837  Talk about Karma and a little bit of background.

We re-located to England a number of years ago and I insisted on taking with me, every piece of memorabilia I ever owned.  Literally.  Talking about diaries from high school, an old uniform, tokens from holidays, photographs, the works.  Chatted about this yesterday, about keeping my children’s childhoods intact in the boxes – well, they all followed us across the ocean.

No space, but made space.  Years later with my mother passing away, I boxed up her life and dragged it, literally, around with me.  Add to this a divorce and trauma of where to live and ALL the stuff congregated moved again. Let’s just say the shipping companies did well.

blue-purple--green-gift-boxes-set-of-3_a I am the keeper of everything!

Today it is me and the past of everything. So the the Karma thing.  An article I found, today of all days, is about Death cleaning – and how we should take care Not to leave our children with so much stuff to deal with when we are gone. Go figure, this is me.  

Guilty as charged.  As much as I wanted to carry the legacy of my life through all the changes and decades, I was doing just that.  Leaving my children with tons of stuff they would have to deal with when I am gone, like my mother did with me.  On the one side, I valued it, on the other I was living her past life, right down to the souvenirs of all her trips, postcards, hair locks, report cards and the like.  The burden is heavy.

So today was the day I escaped from the world: slowly read and re-read all her history, my history and decided a few tokens would suffice for my children to know our lives, but the clutter had to go.

A bittersweet day.  Fortunately there are many who could cherish something I was simply putting in a box.  Swept through the stuff, kept the important and said goodbye to the rest.  Why would they want to read my love poems to Robert Redford?  My accounts of everyday life decades ago? Slips of paper that meant something to me, but would never to them?  A day of de-cluttering.  If I died tomorrow, they would have the best of me, and not the entire rest of me.

Strangely, it has been a liberating experience also.  I am far from gone, but I have taken the past, the material past and said goodbye, in so many ways.  I have a lot more living to do, than live in the past of other’s lives and though I have kept some poignant pieces, I am free now to create and accumulate new experiences.

It feels fantastic, it has been hard, but I am now down to a box or two of memories that will tell them all about me and my family past.  They can keep their childhood memories until they too decide, it is time to let go.

More than wanting them to know I had a crush on Robert Redford, or was it Kris Kristofferson, or even Bruce Lee?  My first dates, my lost loves, jobs and more jobs, ambitions and failures – that was my time and they shall have the mom time.  For me, the best times.

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My darling mother, I have you in my heart.  Your things have to go.  Darling me, a simple letter will suffice when I am gone to remember me by.  Shred, shred, shred, the boxes are bare.  My legacy is in my living years and I am officially de-boxing stuff to leave to my children a few tokens of love.

Feels awesome to have done it.  Now what shall I buy next?

Images:golakechelan

The sentimental sort of mothering.

IMG_6255 Just as there can never be enough space in a mother’s heart for her children, there can never be a greater compliment for a child when their mother holds onto every little bit of their childhood.

I am so sentimental!  One of the problems of downscaling and moving house, has always been my dogged commitment to keeping every little piece of my children’s years; their early ‘interesting’ art, scribbled phonetical lines.  Their letters to Santa (which of course were posted), reports on poems said, galas swum and of course the birthday cards, inoculation cards, dance cards and then there are the photographs. These tangible pieces of their lives are lugged around from country to country, home to home, at times in lieu of furniture or favourite pieces, for these are the days of their lives (literally)

IMG_6263 Times life changed from the plan, and they grew up.  Times they did not want reminding that Mom was always reminding them of ‘when you were young’ – Mom, don’t do that sort of thing – but she does.

‘Grown don’t mean a thing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart, it doesn’t mean a thing.’

Toni Morrison.

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Today I dipped back into the boxes. Old friends.  Laughs and giggles and in a way, a reminder that I did good.  I am the keeper of childhood, the maker of the King and Queens and overall, in the large scheme of things, as life as it throws us like surf on the highest wave, I did good.

I am a sentimental mother.  Guilty and giddy with the thought.

 

A day in Paris. A day is all you need to fall in love x

IMG_6159 Oh yes, you have heard it, Paris is always a good idea …

Always.

Quite a daunting task to organise a trip to Paris for a group of fabulous women in a day, but a day was all we needed to inspire future visits.

Most had encountered her charms before, for others it was the first time, so it was a challenge to create an itinerary to accommodate all tastes, in a few short hours, a taster so to speak, of the French capital. 

IMG_6158 The day began early.

Catching the Eurostar at Six Fifteen from London meant an early rise.  The train trip alone was fabulous and I am a great fan of Eurostar.  So a little of what we did in a day:

  •  Arrived 9.40 am at Gare du Nord. Always find it a little disappointing after St. Pancras and there seems to be more and more beggars about every time I go. Not the greatest first impression.
  • The Uber thing.  To the Opera with her golden tinged statues and incredible architecture – with time being of the essence, the Metro meant a change and Uber is ideal.
  • The Wow factor, done.  More than that, it was time to discover a time old favourite of mine, a place where my Grandmother took my mother, my mother me and me, my children – it was for coffee and croissants at the famous Cafe de la Paix. Grand on a grand scale.
  • A short walk to the beautiful Madeline. No, we shall shop at Fragonard at some other time, this is for now and you need to see her.  The Madeline Cathedral is one of my favourites, a place of sanctuary and stillness.  To light candles for those we love, as I do everytime I visit. 

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Close by, was the once Madeline cemetery, original burial place of Louis and Marie Antoinette. 

  • The Rue Royal.  From the steps of the Madeline one gets the most amazing view towards the Concorde and Les Invalides in the background, her Golden dome glinting in the sunshine. Surrounded by gorgeous shops such as Maille, Laduree and Fouchon, we stop to chat about Maxims, a lovely Art Deco style Brasserie once favoured by Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevallier and Edward XVII.  
  • Place de la Concorde. The heart of Paris.  Upwards a view of the Arch de Triompe, in the distance the Eiffel Tower, and a lovely walk in the gardens of the Tulleries. Place of many executions per favour of Le Guillotine.
  • Ambling through the Tulleries is important and perhaps, as I show them, a visit, next time to L’Orangerie, to view the magnificent works of Monet’s waterlilies. 

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  • The Louvre.  Of course, the Louvre, largest art gallery in the world, place of Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, The Nike of Samothrace and many others.  The Pyramid of glass, the immense,  overwhelming feeling of culture and art.
  • Lunch is away from the crowds.  We to view the Notre Dame and to the island of St. Louis to my favourite restaurant for Onion Soup and fresh baguettes.  

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  • A short walk to the Left Bank, stopping at Shakespeare and Co. which sadly is now so popular the crowds line up outside to enter.  Hemingway would not have approved.  
  • The left bank is for the Sorbonne, the Luxembourg Gardens and all the beauties of St. Germain des Pres. 

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Sadly, it was too soon before we had to return to the station and rail our way back to London – it has been a long day, up before sparrows and home after dark, but the hours in-between were wistful, wondrous and taste of Paris in her Autumn splendour.  Till next time xxx

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Contact me at karen@mysilverstreet.com if you should want to experience a day in Paris too!