Why we all need pain … seriously?



You know, maybe you don’t, but when you are in the proverbial corner, sobbing the eyes out at your miserable life, in the dark hours of the morning, you, like me, start reading ALL the inspirational stuff of ‘how to get your life back’ or ‘beginning again in your fifties’ sort of stuff.  Ted talks comes to mind.  Grabbing at anything positive until the sun rises and the Amazon returns to your camp.  Did it all the time … when I couldn’t face the reality of what was, what a sh…t storm my life had become.  It works. I was not alone.

But, and I have pondered over this one for a few days, when an article comes along, well meant it may be, that says …’Why we all need pain’ – I just could not buy into that one.

For starters – NO ONE needs pain. Pain is horrible, insidious, breaking of body and spirit, just bloody awful. NO ONE needs pain. Not ever.  And I say this because:

  • We spend our lives avoiding it.  Make decisions NOT to inflict it on others and try not to ever be the recipient of it.  
  • It happens, but it is never a good thing.  So you get through it, grow, change direction, not from a positive place, but from a ‘have no bloody option’ place.  
  • Spend your life guarding your children from it.  From the bullying at school, the humiliation of coming last, being chided and mocked – you build castles, fortresses, to protect your children from it.
  • When life happens and pain comes, your children are part of it.  Do you want to tell them, darling you need pain to grow?  I don’t agree – you need optimism and praise to grow, pain distorts, lessens, breeds suspicion. Your children become hardened from pain inflicted upon them.  You do too.
  • Some parts of life involve pain.  Losing your parents, a natural phenomenon to deal with. Your child no longer wants your hugs and prefers being dropped off at school away from friends in the growing up phase.  Natural pain. Getting older, natural pain. Family pets dying, natural pain.  Losing your job – sort of natural pain.
  • Inflicting pain on others. Not natural.  I have done this and regret it dearly, but do I turn to those I hurt and say ‘ Pain is good for you, I have done this for you to grow’ , of course not – I have to live with it and make it better to avoid further pain.
  • I quote: ‘By shifting the focus from yourself to something else, you’ll learn how to gradually let go of your pain and move on.’ Should we not be doing this anyway?  Believe me, when pain comes to stay, there is nothing or no-one in the wallowing but yourself.  Not capable of focussing on anyone else, even puppies, it is all about moi and how you are going to get through the day. Look at literature etc, those in pain, wrote only for the angst – were they going to do charitable acts, visit the elderly etc.  When pain and depression strikes, it is all about you, and only you, and how to put your feet into the shoes in the morning.  Pretty much useless to anyone else.
  • Some forms of pain, like a terminal illness is the worst kind. There is no growth, only despair – don’t sugar coat it with platitudes of growth and insight. It’s scary and awful and no-one should go through it.
  • Physical pain like childbirth and triathlons are a means to a better end. Opted for pain.  Any other form of pain, unexpected or deliberate in giving is rubbish pain.

So, pain may make you re-evalutate, grow, change direction but it is never without scars.  

Scars are never pretty, never.  Even if you cannot see them.

Scars fade. We do move on, and we are optimistic and enthusiastic about life when the time comes. We are never the same when pain takes hold of our lives – and I for one, do not welcome it. Life is too precious to inflict or receive pain.  Let us rather not patronise pain – let us seek to avoid it.

I love reading uplifting articles, need them at times, but let us be realistic and tell it like it is. Pain is bad for everyone.

Image: Arianna Huffington


Domestic central D-day


a5a1ef700126da1d86d24b022fa3608b need an espresso to wake up properly.  Needed three before I put on the gym clothes (yup, them gym clothes) to tackle the lego house this morning. Times a quick tidy will do and times when you can spot the muck out of the corner of your eye at night on the glass of wine and know … it’s time.

D-day for domestic crap. Heavy duty cleaning required. For a woman who likes a plan:

  • Armageddon oven.  Ovens are places where food likes to be cremated and lie there.  Cremation station. The odd wipe and dab will do but every now and then, its time to wrestle with the metal and God knows, this is a job for Bear Grylis.  Ever prepared, did the toxic spray last night.  Nearly f …king killed me, the fumes, lordy, the fumes. Near death by oven cleaner.
  • Broom cupboard and bin.  If left non-sterile, the future home of little mice. Must avoid mice.  Attacked by ironing board, found an ocean of plastic bags (I will use one day) and compartmentalised – one for rubbish, one for re-cycling and one for those pretty used Nespresso caps.

More Nespresso.

  • Descaling kettle and Nespresso machine.  Tea tastes like descaling medicine and Nespresso now confused as to descaling or coffee.  Small nespresso cup overflowing on the wrong cycle. Quadruple espresso.
  • Stove and surrounds.  Hate trying to clean around the fiddly bits.  Can think of a hundred ways would rather fiddle than break nails on gas outlets.  The shine as promised from granite shine, does not shine, but streaks, like my highlights. Over it.
  • Fridge.  I have a Bridget Jones fridge.  Dead cheese, withered celery and six bottles of wine.  Rather easy to clean.  Amazing how the fridge door looks like a murder scene, so many fingerprints, all the time.

More Nespresso.

  • Washing machine and dishwasher.  There is gunk there that would make a slimy pond look lovely enough to dip in.  Soap build-up.  Wish my confidence had so much build up. Pity no-one will see the shiny insides of my machine, but I know.
  • Top of cupboards.  Well, who knew dust would congeal to state of cement? 
  • Floors.  I have a fixations with fluff and dust.  London specials both.  Brush, mop and on the knees to wipe clean and get into those little crevices – I hate my life.

Too early for wine.

54c131321d66f_-_hbx-cleaning-habits-de-s2 My kitchen and living room – NOT.

Serious workout happening here.  Luckily I have my gym clothes on.  Need to tone the coffee, add some froth.

  • Drawers and shelves.  Treasure finds.  Magazines dating back to the Millenium (not quite), expired invitations and that every handy roll of string and elastic bands.  I have never needed the string or elastic bands, but just in case.  Like the instruction manuals from equipment long dead.  Like the pretty blue ceramic pots which once housed my favourite yogurt and I cannot throw away.  Like just about everything we keep, for one day, which never comes. 
  • Bathroom.  Now this I clean all the time.  All the time, except that shitty hard water that mocks me after every shower – wipe as you will, I will return.  Hate hard water.
  • Shampooing of hair brushes, wiping the necks of toothpaste, scrubbing the loo. Sorting make-up worn past sell by date, arranged earbuds, make up brushes, tossed empty conditioner vessels and added to the death of the planet with enough disinfectant down the drains.  In fact, there is now enough cleaning liquids in my home to give me a total high.  Candles to kill the smell.

Under the beds, re-packing of cupboards, tossing clothes (for one day you know) and sorted out the washing.  Is there anything else, if so, the weak, massively palpitating heart will not, I fear, survive more today.

Note:  Apart from the obvious workout, clean, shiny home and frequent rage, cleaning on this level is great for thinking.  You can vent all your frustrations, plan, swishy to the music and clear the head at the same time.  I now have a vacant brain, right arm muscle improvement and painful knees, but I am done.

Wine O’ Clock!

images-73 Damn, I knew I had forgotten something …

Images pintrest, housebeautiful


The nestling and being a mommy


4908cc2969a91e7f66a2d2f61d13c321--bird-paintings-watercolor-paintings  curious thing happened this afternoon.  Perched in my ‘office’ balcony, I noticed those walking along the sidewalk stop, look, one even took a photograph, and walk on past a ‘blob’ before them.  My eyes are not as sharp as they used be, but I could swear it was alive.  

A nestling, all small body and tendril feet, all yellow beak and few feathers sat, fat, squat and squeaking on the sidewalk, fallen from the nest too soon.

What do we do? What do I do? Go sigh, this is a problem I know not how to deal with.  Baby has fallen from home.  Cannot even see home high up high.  What to do with the nestling who will surely not survive but cannot walk away.  Me and animals.  Most of us and animals (except for those who leered and left) and memories of my childhood attempts at being a vet with all those baby birds.  Pushing pulp of bread and milk on match sticks down their throats – I think they did all die.  We had a bird cemetery in our garden.

My childhood heart did not cope well with dying baby birds.  Oh my God, how I cried. Prayed so hard. 

Picking up baby,  lice crawled over my hands – are these birds really infested so much?  The chirping did not stop, but more so, I could hear an echo to its cries. Mother was close.  In a box I popped it, as we do on a bit of paper towel and placed it back on the lawn to observe from my ‘hideout’ up high.  And called the vet.  Bring the baby in.

The thing is, when I went back outside, mother was right there, feeding her nestling and flitting about in panic.  She did not care for my presence, her mind on her young one.   A neighbour found another, we put them side by side, all the while mother close, on the grass, up and over, diving and darting with bits of food.  Together we made the decision to place the babies (at least they are together now) on the top of the hedge and pray for the best.  Let nature take it’s course sort of thing.  And I hear little now, hoping they are asleep and plans are being formulated (the vet told me this) for the mother to get them back to the nest.  How, but how I wonder.


More than that. I keep thinking about the mother.  God will decide on the young.  The mother, I saw such panic, and such bravery in her angst. Protective instincts in overdrive, loss and panic. As small as she was in this big world, nothing mattered but her young.  

am an overprotective mother.  I have hovered, or helicoptered, around my children for they are my purpose.  This is part of my dilemma.  When and how to let go. For too long I have been the centre of their Universe, and they mine, and what happens now when they are grown and gone.  And how fortunate that I had them close, not scared and far from the nest when they were young.  The horror some mothers have had to endure, like bird mother, I cannot imagine. 

We speak of animals and letting nature take it’s course.  The world will take my children elsewhere.  So difficult for moms, and dads.

sit here now, praying that they will be safe, those little nestlings, and mom will make a plan. The neighbours have been to check, I listen for sounds but it is quiet. Going to pray hard tonight.

Images pintrest, crookedhouse

Popping with positive ideas – and you?



 “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” 

— Winston Churchill

Like Churchill, I am well acquainted with The Black Dog.  We are great friends though times, like when the summer is truly here, the dog must to his kennel.

One of the many things that arrive in the summertime in the city, are pop ups.  Spontaneous shopping, eating and discovering new things and I love the fact that it gives others the opportunity to show their talents and sell their creations.  Pop up is such a good analogy, now you see it … refreshing and optimistic. As are the ideas flooding into my head on a daily basis.

Quotes on change

So, a few things I have decided to try, or new ideas I am working on this week:

  • Getting one new app on my phone that is useful.  @camscanner.  No matter where I am I can scan documents without the hassle of finding a scanner. Love it, love it. #cool #useful #scan
  • Milk art. Soon I shall be able to make interesting art on the top of the coffee.
  • Writing an article for a friend’s blog on re-branding in your fifties.
  • Instagramming at least once a day which makes me look for opportunities in everyday life.
  • Ditching the old make-up, clothes and files I thought I would use again … one day.
  • Going without sugar. This does not include wine, which is medicinal.
  • Planning a day out, or a vacation in December, getting in early.  This does not include my trip to Paris which is my thing at Christmas time.
  • A new playlist on Spotify.
  • Going to bed earlier and getting up super early to give myself that extra hour.
  • Planting up my ‘office’ balcony.  Added a David Austin ‘Litchfield Angel’ to the pot after mermaids demise. rosa_lichfield_angel_david_austin_roses_lg It was the ‘Angel’ in the name that did it for me.
  • Committing to one ‘quiet and relaxing’ activity per day.  Be it gardening, embroidery, reading or sorting out photographs.  No noise, no distractions for an hour.
  • Begin watching a new series and buying a new book. If you have any ideas, most welcome.
  • Writing for an hour a day, without distraction which is not essentially relaxing but forms a dedicated routine.
  • Taking off my wedding rings.  I am no longer married but sort of hung onto that one for a while, habit, and a clear signal that I was not available. I am still not available but the rings seemed a little redundant and my heart knows who it loves anyway. This was a big pop up moment.
  • And whatever else that is new and untried within my path this week.

If you are as much of a procrastinator as I am, mornings begin with ideas and evenings with nothing accomplished, most of the time.  This week is different – I have listed my endeavours and will endeavour to execute them, which give purpose and positivity.

Just think of the things I could do next week!  And you!

Images fine gardening, pinterest, success.com

After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world. Christian Dior


1459537177-jaclyn-journeyAngeliqueSmithPhotography Kraak 3CF-188-960x1443Carla Coulsen

After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world. Christian Dior

When I was little, my friends and I would wait for the banksias to bloom.  Small white and yellow roses forming an arch over our garden gate.  Transformed to brides, the petals were confetti.  Petite, and pretty stuff happening in our lives.

“The Earth Laughs in Flowers.”
–  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

We have loved blooms ever since. Have longed for spring ever since.  My mother planted daffodils, tulips, freesias and blue iris’ in the garden.  Hyacinths in pots in the house. Roses bloomed as did my childhood dreams.  Fridays were for fresh bouquets.

I follow the same pattern. No matter where I am, the attraction of flowers enhances a window sill, pavement, corner stand – art in nature.

My first ‘real’ bouquet denoting love was in my freshman year at University.  Signed ‘Muffin.’ So not romantic – I loved the flowers and forgot about muffin.  Did you get a secret Valentine’s rose?  I remember every detail of my wedding bouquet. The roses at my children’s christening.  Flowers sent by my sister when I turned fifty, in a new country, feeling a little lost. We do that, don’t we, remember the flowers given by those we love and cherish them.

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
–  Claude Monet

No matter where I live, rich or poor, my house is filled with flowers.  I need them like air.

Poets know about the power of flowers.  Playwrights do. Artists do. Any occasion warrants these beauties and why am I writing about this tonight?

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”
–  Emma Goldman

Because I could post a thousand pictures of flowers … and wax lyrical about the qualities of a single petal, but I want to say … if you are feeling a little lost, a little down, a little unvalued … I am sending you a bouquet of blooms for you are worth it.

Carla's Wedding flowers

Images: ,jacelyn journey, Angelique Smith, Carla’s wedding

I need Dusty tonight.


Can I say, I sensed terrible news?  A sleepless night, watching the horror at 4am and by 5am all the messages began coming through.  Are you safe, are your children safe … ping, ping, ping.

We are all safe, but none are safe in this radical, fanatical onslaught of insanity that taints and bloodies our streets with the lives of our children. I am sick of it all, sick and tired and so wary of it all – we are not safe. We are tired, but we are not frightened.

I just hope that all those sad, deprived lunatics who think Nirvana awaits with a thousand virgins for them arrive in the afterlife to find grotesque, haggard, withered and septic hag like virgins to spend eternity with. Macbeth hag virgins. And I hope the hag virgins boil them in bile, just enough not to let them die, but to rot, rot and rot in everlasting pain.  I am that angry. Tomorrow I shall be calm.

I want Dusty tonight. Dusty soothes me.  I have many favourite musical soothers but tonight Dusty will do.

The thing is. The thing is I find it is not just attacks of violence that make me weary.  Witnessing criticism and others hurting others on a daily basis drags my heart down, down and down into my weary feet. At work today, impatience brought insult, customers, unaware of the hard work are easy to judge and throw their unkindness about.  The dishwasher stands for eight hours over a sink and cannot satisfy fast enough. Children with no manners throw tantrums and end up being rewarded.  Bad manners abound in a small space and as I drag my stampeded, battered body and soul home, I wonder at how quickly others judge, ignore, neglect and hurt to the point where animosity and indifference become the norm.

So I need Dusty tonight. A little soul in little things. Moments to sit back and reflect on whether I have said something hurtful today; forgotten how to be kind.

When attacked, we rally with human kindness and solidarity but why do we wait for tragedy to be kind and nurturing?

Sitting on my little balcony, with Dusty, and I am learning. My children are safe tonight, other parents mourn and thinking, what am I really doing to make it better?

Dusty, lighten the mood please …

PS little spider is doing well beside me.  Her web blew away but she is, as I hope to be, resilient.

Image Rock hall of fame

Manchester, London, Paris, Nice, Istanbul, Damascus … the world.


IMG_4909 Evening Express. 24th May 2017

I went to the city today. I went into London. Our security alert is critical following the slaughter of innocents in Manchester on Monday night.  Murdered by a possessed young man who dreamt of something I can never fathom, and my grief for the parents, friends and colleagues of those killed and wounded will stay with me.

My children had to go to work.  Many thousands did the same and life does not stop, regardless.  Evil is never far, and I did hesitate, as I did times before, and then with the weather as beautiful as this, I went into the city.  The presence of our British police was everywhere and I, rather than fear, am comforted by it.  They work tirelessly to protect us, and God knows how many attempts have been thwarted of which we do not know.  Friendly, all. Helpful, always.  The enemy now do not announce the battle, but steal their way into happiness to kill.

There was nothing noble in my gesture to go into the city.  It is my home and I had errands to run.  Believe me, as one who has lost two family members to murder, I am not naive.  What I do know is that when it happened, I wanted more than anything for normality, never the same person, but a sense of normality.  So I went to the city, the first real day of summer, to find the worshippers of rays littered across the parks. London is strong and a lovely place to be.


Of course I am vigilant.  My children have learnt how to travel on the public system and be alert.  But we cannot deny our children the opportunity to live, to go to concerts and meet friends.  Go shopping, to school or the playground. So you fanatical, unfaithful madmen, I cannot see you, will not hide from you but carry on for those you stopped.

Now if Trump came to London, I might stay home.


The baby boomer, the cat in the sack and a tattered ballgown.


02514e3e8eb7577f95bf52b55822357c--ok-quotes-inspirational-quotes  Begin the mantra, and do it again, and …

I thought I was a princess.  My mother thought she was, kept telling me I was  so I believed it.

Daddy went to work, mommy princess built a home, baked on Fridays, created a garden and picked me up from school.  Daddy took us to the drive-in on Saturdays, forgot the birthdays and prize giving but it never mattered, it was not his job, he was there and would never let me fall.


I was a princess mommy.  Daddy went to work, princess built a home, created a garden, baked on Fridays and collected my children from school. Told daddy about the birthday’s, went to the prize-giving alone, but it did not matter, it was not his job, and is always there to catch his children when they fall.

He watched me fall.  I think we dropped each other, and I know I was not there to help him stand when his legs were weak and his heart fearful.  My heart and dress are tattered and this ‘letting go’, ‘begin again’ and ‘new windows’ stuff wears thin when the I lost the map and the castle lies in ruins.

The princess wallowed for many days.  She tore through the forest in the dark, and all she had was the sack, the one the cat jumped out of and scratched at her fiercely before fleeing into the night.  The cat, the story, the fairytale had vanished.

But as it goes, time came to visit, the baby boomer got a job, looked at the lines on her face, forgave herself and found a path that led to a small cottage, a stream of consciousness and some breadcrumbs.  No more cake.  Crumbs.  These she scattered around the neglected garden.  Growth began.

Could the princess thing have been a cruel illusion after all?  Would the princess be able to live with all the broken fantasies, the cold realities, the new possibilities?

The truth was in the small cottage, in the tiny garden, with the lines on her face as she stood in the tattered ballgown.  And she realised …

I am not a Princess.  I am now a Queen.


For the love of a garden.

Weeping silver pear Sissinghurst

gravetye-manor-garden-large ‘The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass onto others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.’

Gertrude Jekyll.

Times I am asked what I miss most about my past life, in another country, in another place.  There is so much, so much, but what I do miss most, is my garden.  True, a garden is the window to the soul, and I remember so clearly, in the early morn, at sunset, being in my garden and feeling utter peace. Contentment. Serenity. A good day’s work tending her, done. And their prettiness shone at dawn and at dusk, offering her gifts without prejudice.

As a young bride, my first garden was a flat, dusty piece of land.  We had built and all around was, nothing.  I did not know what topsoil meant, where to begin, only that I wanted a garden as beautiful as the one my mother had created with beds of daffodils, trees of plums, banksias stripped for confetti.  Her garden was her masterpiece and I would hanker for the same.

When we sold our first home the lady that bought it saying ‘I love this house for the garden’ and I knew it was true.  We had created a haven of Icebergs, of Duftwolke reds, mulberry trees and boxed hedges.  Christmas trees planted in the new year, now thriving in the copse beside the birches.  My second garden was my work of art for I was older, more experienced, part of the garden club, chairwomen of the Rose society.  I choose carefully, planted methodically, nurtured cherry blossoms, frangipani’s, Julia roses.  Liquid ambers and dogwoods heralded the seasons.  By then I had found my trusted companion, Thole, who had a passion for begonias.

telegraph  As I grew, so did my gardens.  Trips to England meant trips to all the great gardens she cosseted on this tiny island.  So great was my fervour that I drank in the designs of Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, Pashley, so many that my map of England was the map of her gardens.  The frustration of returning home and demanding to find a Silver Pear Tree at the local nursery, pebbledash and peonies was tantamount to despair, but I, unhindered, whispered to my David Austen roses and breathed in them the will to live in the heat of Africa.

Weeping silver pear Sissinghurst Sissinghurst Garden and the Silver Leaf Pear.

My last garden in Africa was one inherited. Full of tiered steps, raised beds and enough old roses that I had not choice but to give them release.  The foundations I cherished, for once not beginning from scratch, but adding to a legacy left.  I loved that garden more I think because I was continuing the guardianship of a life lived loving it. To it I added a fountain and the evenings spent listening to the water dance, the setting of the sun over the leopard trees, upon the ivy around the clivias and Joseph’s lillies, it was my place of peace.

Hidcote manor bbc Hidcote Garden Manor.

There is an irony to the new life in England, surround by all the gardens I used to visit and no garden of my own.  For the past eight years all I had on my balcony was a crab apple that bless her, tried and finally said, this is too sad, even for me. She did good though and I thank her.

So, the love of a garden.  I have never been happier than in one.  Being able to create one.  For now, I go to the glorious gardens and parks nearby to feed my soul.  Kew, Ham, Regent’s … I come now to revel and make you my garden. Watch you change your seasons and be imbued by your loveliness.

The plan is to one day, find my garden again. If it is on a balcony, or on another continent, it does not matter, for my love for a garden will be the place I want to sit on a deck chair, with coffee or wine, and just know, I have found a little of God.

The chatty gardner - early morning gardens And I will be home.

Images telegraph, mary keen, sissinghurst


Are you human – you betcha!


c2fc74506e953f5b212776752929e0ab  Times I open my wordpress to find the words ‘are you human?’  Times I go … bloody robot, and then times I think … totally monsieur.  Thank you very much.  Times I wonder and times I don’t give myself enough credit for being just that, human.

Waffly stuff.  The thing is.  The thing is.

When life goes super swimmingly, we hardly stop to do the deep philosophical delving thing.  You know the one where we question and despair and bring out the cat-o-nine-tails to beat ourselves still further in the wallowing pool?  When life goes swimmingly, it’s all blossoms and sunshine – like when we are passionately in love.  Then we love the other and find no fault, and we rather think ourselves grand too.  Nothing like being in love to blood rush going and let’s face it, being loved is the best medicine in the world. Being loved makes us feel perfect.

And then, when we have the black dogs circling our hearts, we take ourselves apart.  Compare ourselves to all around and find ourselves wanting.  We are no longer perfect but the hag with warts and toads for company.  We doubt, question, lament and flay ourselves for falling short; love has moved next door.  We allow ourselves to be tortured and worse, we torture ourselves.

Ever noticed that when we feel so down, life goes grey, and everything goes wrong? Sad scenes in the movies rip into us, a minute late is chaos, work is hideous and if you are like me, rather than lose weight, weight is the only thing that adds up.  Global problems are manifest as personal, oh, the list is endless and the light is dim.  Like winter. And then, and then, when asked ‘are you human?’ that chink, that glimmer breaks through the damp wall.  Of course you are! Yay!  Thanks for the reminder. Life becomes rather splendid. All of it.

Which is exactly why we step, totter and fall. Do different things and take responsibility for our lives, good or bad, but it is who we are.  Other may not agree, judge and frown like the Senate, but I want to tell you … trying to be perfect, is exhausting.  Being human, is interesting.  I opt for interesting any day. If I broke the rules, hurt and judged, being human is also being able to say ‘I’m sorry’. I will do better tomorrow. Promise.  We have the erasers to begin again.

But love me for being human, and more importantly, I must love myself for being so. Times we feel unloved and the blossoms fall from the trees, but that is also part of the journey, and our story.  Then love pops up and feeling perfect is gorgeous. Then being human is a level of perfection, on our own terms. Then the pencil is ready for the drawing of a new scene.

Robots cannot love.  We can and that makes all the difference.