Hello lovelies…it’s been awhile. Great to be back.

Thank you for your patience.  It has been a while. Times every strong woman needs to take a break, reflect, ponder, and pause.  Just writing for the sake of writing is good … and times not so good when the heart is not quite in the right spot.  The dagger is not fixed, the words ‘a warbling. So for me, taking time out is when things happen.  And much did.  And it is time to write again.

I have never presumed to be writing for the world, success or business, it has always been for the few who can resonate, at this time of our lives and go … what happened? When the picket fence all but fell down, people came and went in our lives and we are at a stage when it can be a little lost, more difficult, but never anything but interesting.

I write for my tribe.  For women in their fifties and getting older, but smarter.  For women who have questioned their relationships, their confidence and their place in this vast world we call home.  For me, having changed many homes, lost and found many relationships, watching my children blossom and leave, work related, future unsure, it is for those who sort of didn’t get the memo of being, well, mature and what to do with the baggage of it all … the present of it all and the future only we can forge.

Because I live it, more than most, I want to share the stories, how dark it became, how unbelievably frightening it was, and how exhilarating it can be to be a baby boomer in the present.  There are many, like me who write and they are my inspiration. What can be a lonely and fretful boat out there, listless at times, it is also the best time – I had forgotten that.  This is the time we have ourselves to face – no longer daughter, full time mother, perhaps spouse, post menopause, post turning fifty, post just about everything.

Some see this as the downhill from here. Job done and what to do with the rest of your life. I wallowed in it. Product of the grey divorce, the leaving and the trying to just hold it together, I also realised that facing myself and my future meant going through the difficult times and coming out on the other side

Coming out on the other side and not just coping, but thriving, is the answer.

Much has happened, change and resolutions made.  Doors closed and doors opened and I shall share this with you for this is going to be the best time of our lives.

Trust me, been there, done that and I don’t want the T-shirt. I want it all.

Don’t you?

Chat soon x

Image:Twitter

Dry January is for sadists and the Instagram standard winter uniform.Standard stuff.

Let it be said, she tried. January 19th and she admits … wine before all. Hopeless and happy.

Imagine the day.  I do hear the birds early this morning.  Cannot see them in the dark, but they are there.  A day off work to view possible new dwellings lined up.  Tidied the flat, checked nothing on that should be possible result in burning down of flat and checked the usual.

Mobile phone. Check.  Backpack with computer, books, pencils and ink, check. Don the first layer of Uniglow gilet, the second  protector jacket (thin lined but devastatingly effective against cold) checked.  Long black coat post wrapping up of Lavin scarf, coat, gloves, winter beanie, house keys and she is set to go.  Movement will be slow but warmth is uppermost – it is four degrees and staying.

Optimism in the mornings wraps the soul.  Coffee at my usual joint, hello, hello, oat milk cuppa with no chocolate before the dash to the tube. This bunny is organised, down to her cotton socks over the standard black tights – I know it will be cold all day and will be in the cold all day. I am viewing new address.

Music in my ears, instagram checking, emails calling – my office is the moving train to Kew.  Fast forward to four viewings – can I live there, should I be made to live there, where is the sun, and the laughter and ok, it’s doable on a rental which would buy me a castle somewhere else.  Not fazed at all – the sun is out, my finger tips are Checovian winter, the electric aura in my hair enough to light a fire.

Always a thing in winter.  The more the sun shines, the colder it is.  Do I prefer the sun and freezing cold, or that endless cloud that sits on my shoulders and I know the sun lies above.  not sure.  Disappointing options.  But she carries on.  When do we not and what is the alternative? More coffee. loads and loads of more coffee.  Two agents stood me up, me pacing the sidewalk to keep warm.  Two came through and I say the inside of other’s homes and thought, dear God, do you actually live like this? One very positive option on the green with Kew garden alongside so yay, she is upbeat.

Train, bus, walk.  Train, bus, walk.  And forever in the uniform.  For all I think, I could be stark naked underneath – no one will know.  Why dress at all, if coat, gloves and beanie takes precedence?  Why dress at all?  I could be in the La Perla best, the Tam Tam gorgeous lingerie for the actual clothes, not witnessed at all.  And I thought of all those past photographs of me in the winter in London – the coat is all you see … the coat is all that shows.  I am the coat, the black coat.  Maybe I should wear a bikini tomorrow, under the coat and be awesome beneath the coat.  Who would be any the wiser, they only see coat, as I see the coats on the tube, on the way home.  We are wear coats, one glove, the other hand free for mobiles, the beanies ranging from rabbit ears to covering the eyes beanies.  We are in uniform. Standard stuff. Moving along, standing, fighting those silent wars for the seat thing – I am eyeing that seat madam, standing in the middle waiting to sit sort of thing. Someone gets up, I am ready for action and don’t even think about it. This is mine, I’ve got it sister … sitting and you stand. No prisoners this time, I earned it, got to the right spot and ready to lurch to sit.

Home. Heating switched on.  Begin the undress. Gloves off. Beanie off. Coat off. Uniglow jacket. Uniglow gilet. Hello clothes … forgot you were there. And then … mmm, another night of dry January – hell no. Hell, hell no!

Today I saw the best and the worst of other’s interiors. Spent the entire day outdoors in weather that I forgot existed and that without the vitamin D pills. Its was good though, productive, educating and despite the moaning, the tube delivers on stories of life I sometimes cannot believe I am part of – but then I think, it has been ten years of living like this so surely I should to be used to it? Be used to the winters, the coat brigade, the ants commuting, the exhilaration of urban life? Why do I still feel it is foreign in some way?

Home and thinking about the premise of  …. three worst things to happen in your life is death, divorce and moving. Have done that in abundance and the moving thing is happening again. Which is all possible, we are strong in our tribe of Silver Streeters, it is a doddle in all. But the uniform of the coat, beanies and gloves … not the best instagram option. So, let it end with the coming of Spring and I will be able to leave the flat, old and new, without the uniform and instead … that summer frock.

So, dry January is good. Really it is. I tried it and loved it with all the new years resolutions, but dear Lord, one picture of not the coat, the gloves and the beanie that covers my eyes so I can see properly again

The wine is sweet.  So sweet. Done the whole winter thing, survived it and now for the instagram of me with suntan, feeding grapes and no boots.

And the lesson is: Estate agents call for wine. Every time. Cheers to Dry January. I earned it.

Dry January only works if on a beach. Enough said.

Image: V and A.

 

Colette – a quiet lesson to remind yourself to be yourself.

 

“Is that you there all alone under that ceiling, booming and vibrating under the feet of the dancers? Why are you there all alone? And why not somewhere else?” Yes, this is the dangerous, lucid hour. Now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.

There are times, following a hard day working, flat hunting and generally that phew moment, that you just … well … don’t want to go home.  The city is bustling with after office hours catching up, lots of options on offer.  So I found myself thinking … rather than crack open a furtive bottle of wine in Dry January, I shall to the movies.

Right now, on my office balcony, the singing of post work drinking revelry is in force on the sidewalk below. I have come home to download the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack of ‘Colette’ by Thomas Adas.  I am post wonderful film scenario.  It stays with me still.

‘Colette’ was exceptional.  The story, the film locations (oh the house in the country), the music – all was strong, so strong. I learnt something new – never knowing about the tale of Colette: a young woman from the country, married and ghost writing for her husband – encouraged to engage in different relationships for his, and perhaps her growth, to the point where she realises that it is her story for which credit is absent. Words of her childhood, her nuances, her thoughts … she has instead gifted her husband her tale and he takes credit, urging her to write, for him, until she cannot stay in the shadows any longer and despite financial hardship, she takes control of her own life.

Literally takes control, engages in a relationship (which was then still frowned upon) and risks all to live life on her own terms. Bring in the fantastic score.  Would we fare better in our own stories if we had the most enchanting music to accompany it?

What was it about the film that made such an impact?

What did I learn tonight?

We go to the movies to escape, to pause on our own realities, and also to be empowered through someone else’s ideas – the written work, the notes, the ideal of it all. We are transported to what can be, what was, what others have experienced and come out there, in the dark, winter’s London night and think, hey, I have a story too. May not have the brilliant collages and film locations but have the story nonetheless.

Why not be glad for it? Inspired by it? Add to the necklace of our lives and be proud? Sometimes we need to relate to the stories of others to remind ourselves that we too have deep, rich and meaningful lives to lead.

Be yourself.  Others may not like it, judge but it’s ok.  It is your life. Be so very proud of it.

Think of the necklace of your days.  Add the pearls. I put the Fengal in my bath (my mother’s favourite), poured the wine (don’t tell anyone) and thought … this movie has been great for me.

We need heroines to champion the kindle of our own heroism. Mentors and music to get the juices flowing, the sparkling of an idea,  alight.  We need examples of struggle to muster our own.

And the music is hauntingly beautiful.  The idea of Paris is there for me.  Popcorn gone, and hour and somewhat blissfully born and so I shall tell you, watch this film – I even googled the film locations for the country home and thought, this is where I shall go and write, buy a little property and be amongst the wheat fields and poplars, to the city of lights and endless romance – to find it was filmed largely in Budapest (where I have not been) but no matter …. I continue to dream of how it touched me.

And I have the music to write by.

Images: The Guardian, pintrest

 

 

 

 

 

The scariest time of the year, is here …

I warn people well in advance.  Stay away to be safe, to be sure, for the week between Christmas and the New Year is a dangerous time to be near me.  I hate it.  Loathe it.  It’s like the dark ages, Medieval times – a time of fog and brooding thoughts.

For someone who likes routine, life and business, the enforced public holidays, nothing happening, dark afternoons and endless nights bodes ill in my home.  Totally forget what day of the week it is, literally, what is today? Oh, it seemed as long and lifeless as yesterday.  Little, if anything happens, if you discount the madness of zombies packing Oxford Street for the sales and returning of gifts given in love and swopped with disregard to the giver.  ‘Didn’t like them socks, or them jumpers … gonna swop them for somefink more suitable.  For when we go to Ibiza and me holidays.’ Christmas cheer seems to disappear into bustling and jolting on the high street – ugh, note to self … do not seek life in the midst of post Christmas retuners of gifts.  Discarded Christmas trees all around. So depressing.

While some may revel in the lethargy of the week, I brood.  Don’t want to watch another Christmas movie, post Christmas, fat and flabby from the festive fare, hating the lack of sunshine and totally unmotivated.  This is when the gremlins come. The pixies of self doubt, another year looming and what are you going to do that is different, how to change the things you don’t like in your life, what will the new spiffing diary hold?  That is if you can actually read the diary in the half light.  Lack of Vitamin D.

This sunshine girl is all too aware of the sun shining somewhere else.  True, the weather has been the mildest Christmas I can recall, but when will the evening be later that four in the afternoon I beg – I plead, I have done the duty, been super positive, so please, please let the world begin again.

It is a dangerous time.  Despite feeling like a monk in a half lit seminary most of the time, it is a time coming close to the ending of the year and why I do not know, but for me, a time to look back and see the loss, the mistakes, the ‘God what happened to my life’ and being so very lonely in the fogginess of post Christmas, not quite New Year and the ghosts in-between. My ghosts don’t come at Christmas, I love Christmas, but descend around now, with the little to do, idle hands, idle thoughts and idle memories.  Am I alone in this?  Maybe if I could go snorkelling, or lie on a beach it would be different but London, love you as I do, you are stale post Christmas until the New Year starts.

All however is not lost. Though I feel loss more acutely at this time, danger is a good thing.  It is a motivator, a sifting of sorts.  The lull of this time is a motivation of self.  For one, I am packed. Still not sure where this one is going, but packed.  Moving on. Acceptance of the situation is at hand.  It is a driving time of saying ‘where am I at right now.’  ‘Where will I be going?’ ‘What will suit me when the bells chime on the brink of a New Year?’ ‘Will I be ready for the change in my life?’ And I will.

The lesson:  My dear friends keep saying ‘you are always like this betwixt Christmas and the New Year.  True. Am a Greek tragedy at this time, every, single year. Ever nostalgic for life before divorce, change in living circumstances, children all grown up and doing their own thing. Still lamenting parents gone – do we ever recover from it – and now, when the sun is missing and a longing for Spring deep, I am not going to succumb to the bleakness this time, in my little office on the balcony, but resolve to do the dangerous thing, in the dangerous time of this betwixt it all – I am going to change, absolutely everything. For good. Change the way I depend, rely and look for affirmation. And it is exciting.

The other day a friend asked me why I write about the not so great things. Most blogs are about yay, uppity and beautiful aspects in life, or alternatively about the down side of it, but I write about it all.  Times of just living, seeking, wondering, fretting, fearing and being so very part of the Silver Street part of our lives.  The changes – the not being the centre of a family anymore, the finding your children wanting to take charge at times, the not being the one to come to, admitting that sometimes, no I don’t know the latest technology and what is happening right now – but also, the one who knows what it was like, how lovely it was, how you meant the world.  And the change.  We have to adapt to the change. Life changes.  Parents die, children leave, relationships change.

And this is the dangerous time when it all comes home to roost because I have only my thoughts and the days fall from one into the other, the weather is close and dark and the calendar in flux with what to do until 2019.  The dangerous time. 

So, thanks for the invites for New Year celebrations, I am working.  On better and greater and what I shall become in the New Year.  Hope you are too …

We are going to take this time, this foggy time between Christmas and New Year to plan and deliver.

Dangerous for me … great for me. And for you.

Images Flick

 

 

Presents for Christmas … for all those on the ‘lovely’ list.

Christmas starts really early here in London.  I mean really, really early.  August had the major superstores reveal their Christmas goodies. August for goodness sake, but the marketing is for tourists who want to take home some ‘genuine’ English goodies.  We begin early.

By October the ‘Love Actually’ nativity plays commence.  Trees to be bought before mid December or you will lose out.  And I held out, looking upwards and sideways until the first of December and then … whoosh … look at the lights mama, look at the baubles, the santas, the sleighs and let’s face it, London does Christmas like crack.  Spectacular high Christmas situation.

Totally on board.  Revelling in it.  Rolling in it.  I am every morning mince pies with coffee ( a la eggnog), till the mandatory Christmas movies at night.  The shop windows ooze Christmas, tinsel everywhere.  Bus drivers with antlers, cash up ladies with sparkles.  We wear them on our nails, put on the Christmas jumpers and still, yes still, take a minute to write Christmas cards. Supporting charities left and right, the homeless, the donkeys, Crisis Christmas.  Bake muffins with Rudolf at the fore, and it’s time to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to those travelling to families in Australia, America, South Africa and beyond.

Christmas advertisements done. Which one won? To the presents.  Ummm ..

What are you planning present wise?  For me, goes like this:

  • One for each that gives back.  A donation to charity.
  • One for each to learn.  A subscription to a worthy education.
  • One for each to use.  Practical stuff.  Coffee machine, mug and such.
  • One for play.  Happy lipstick, nail colour, make-up or cologne.
  • One for remembering.  Candle to light the way from past till now.
  • One for the personal.  A gift that only they will understand.
  • One for love.  The maverick one.  To show how much I love them.

And what do I want in return?

  • Christmas with family.
  • Knowing I have thought of those who will not be with family.
  • Christmas mass and carols in the cold.  With mulled wine.
  • A diary to make plans for time at the beach.
  • Blue eyeshadow to defy those who think I am past blue eyeshadow.
  • Wine for a year.
  • Time in Paris.
  • Cashmere in abundance.
  • Diptique candles for the remembering.
  • Lots and lots and lots of hugging.
  • Sweet whispers from lovers.

Not much actually.

And it is done.  The food will follow and the bellies will groan, I can so overdose on the party food (come on, we do it once a year) and make all those resolutions I am sure to break later.

Some of my loved ones hit the naughty list this year … mmm … what to do about this? Naughty or nice, grinch or Christmas fairy – I am in the mood for forgiving, as one does at Christmas, and so presents for everyone!

Truth be told.  When I really give into the spirit of Christmas, London has given me all the presents I need.  I am a child with light infatuation.  Regent Street, Oxford street, the windows of Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges.  Winter wonderland, ice-rink fantasies.  The reflection of Christmas on the river Thames – cannot describe the wonder of it all.  And I am recipient of all the presents I need, I am with my family in the wonder of Christmas in London.

Two weeks to go – what an explosion of goodwill, love and kindness. Thank you bus driver for wearing your reindeer jumper, the ringing of the bell on the corner, the every shop getting into the spirit.  Magical Christmas, it stuns and elates, heartens and thrills – as my family takes it all in, sings a carol, lights a candle and wishes every friend, every stranger good will, it is a Merry Christmas indeed.  Presents done, all has won, all is good …

Images londontown. pintrest, bjournal

Christmas, dealing with it when you are on your own. And those parties …

It’s Christmas …

Right in the middle of the ‘Christmas Carol’ at this moment, I am.  All the ghosts of past, present and future just swirling and swirling around. Don’t you find Christmas can be the most marvellous, and also the most emotionally profound, all at the same time?  I am such a memory hoarder! Such an emotional button.

Technically not alone, as I have my precious darlings to celebrate with, but technically, and especially when it comes to those umpteen Christmas parties (the office kind) well, it sort of a hit and miss situation at times.  Of course we know this madam is doing about four different jobs (all of which I love) at the moment and that means lots and lots of year end celebrations.

Given that these are not careers but jobs new in the making, the Christmas parties are either with many I do not know well, or mostly those a few decades younger than me.  Interesting when it comes to the Secret Santas and I am National Trust when others are party games.  I am the thinking of leaving pronto for my bed and the rest are only just starting the night’s festivities.  For me, a Christmas party is watching the Christmas movies with loads of popcorn and Sauvignon Blanc.  Oh how dated I seem…

Then there is the single situation.  And the commute situation – getting home seems like Hannibal crossing the Alps. Also, and it must be said, having a great night out and walking to the tube past so many homeless sheltering in doorways from the bitter cold, is upsetting.  On the plus side, I am the chipper versus the hungover brigade next morning.

Then there is this:  The shift.  It has happened.  

My gorgeous children want Christmas at their home this year.  No longer Christmas at mum’s.  If I were still in the family home with a dozen Christmas trees in every room and cooking enough to keep the Romans off oysters, I may just sink into the redundant spot of self pity.  This year I am in the transitory living situation so my abode is somewhat cold in hospitality and I am happy to join rather than host.  But it is something to ponder – is this the ghost of the future coming a little too soon? Has it happened to you?

Find myself thinking of Ghost Christmas past and it gets me so teary.  Little people with big eyes and huge expectations at the Barbie/Postman Pat/lego possibility.  Family large in generation, feasts and fondness all around. God, I loved Christmas then.

Ghost Present and small, but significant.  Survival and change.  Micro family, with greater depth and understanding of the fragility of life but equally loving and kind. More appreciate of the essence of family.

Ghost Future.  Oh this is a nasty thought.  Looking forward to the grandchildren and oh, hugging is going to be my favourite pastime, but to the further than that.  The thought of me being sat at a communal table of white haired grumpy people, paper hat on head and warbled voiced ‘Santa’s coming to town’ as the tissues and tears flow, and a box of ‘Celebrations’ as my only reward for staying alive, fills me with dread. The hoping the children will come and visit the death nest and my teeth in a glass, well some know me – not on my itinerary.  Not going to have a Christmas when someone denies me wine and I cannot chew the mince pie.  But I digress …

Back to dealing with Christmas when you are alone.  Truth, never are.  

As depressing as your situation may seem, you have it good.  The need around Christmas time is greater than any other time of the year and you have the ability to make a difference, no matter how small.  Charities are desperate for people like you, for an hour, a chat, a touch of hand upon lined hand, for making food, saying a prayer, simply being there.  You have no excuse not to be part of another’s story at this time of the year.

It is then when I look past the shiny shiny, the glitter, the surge in celebration.  Then I can say, I cannot walk past the homeless and not stop, moan about just about everything and know a mother is struggling.  Someone is lonely, another is grieving.  Alone, no, not alone, rather a little timid at getting out of the comfort box to be a fairy for good.

The thing is.  The other night I lead a tour (in blisteringly cold weather, wind chaffing, fingers numbing cold) of ex-pats joined by a singular company on a Dickensian experience through South London.  There were all – religions, cultures, ages and gender.  What London was like in the earlier centuries when kitchens were unknown and heating was scarce.  We were all different yet all together, far from home, new home and linked.  A little mulled wine, some mince pies and story telling and another Christmas story was written. 

Ending along the ever riveting Thames, Christmas was good.  I had made a difference to their Christmas, in my small way, and that is what it all about.

To Bridget Jones, The Holiday, Love Actually and all the movies that make me cry buckets for Christmas past … to the joy of being able to watch them in Christmas present and again in Christmas future.

Don’t feel alone and stand in the corner at the Christmas parties.  Be yourself and give of that substance that is you, to others.  The gift will be returned.

Images: BBC, history.com and pintrest

 

 

 

 

Are you going to sit it out, or dance?

There is a line from a song that goes’ are we all lost stars, trying to light up the dark?’ and let’s face it, times our little stars are fading, tarnished and dim.  Youth and our stars are bright with possibilities, and now, we think, forget the stars, just survive. What happened to the glow?  The bright, fierceness we once possessed?  Are we going to start sitting out, or dance? Dance card empty … phew, not even almost.

A few days ago, I was back in the dark place.  The new normal was not to be but once again change is thrust upon me … and I felt like that little lost star, spinning out of control.  Needed some deep breathing for sure. Yoga was not going to help, meditating not so much, the breathing was fractured, fear installed, panting and shallow.  And then I thought about this star that was spinning …

And turned it into a pirouette.

Let’s face it, living in this time of our lives brings so much change we are caught in the spiral and it can take us down.  Or it can take us up and up is where I am going.  Things are going to change for sure.  Some of us are lucky to have the normal and the continuation of self, relationships, home and family, and then there are some of us, like me, that finds each day a whole new one, in every way.  I think I tend to start again, every single time.

Which is scary, but also good.

It is the making of self.  I know of many woman, and men, at this Silver stage wondering what the hell … how did this happen, what is going to come of it, where to go … despair in the face of the future.  More than that, many of us have children or close friends who we know, look up to us, waiting and hesitant to see how we shall fare.  A little more pressure, a few more smiles and deep within, when the stars turn dim, that is the time to get to the shining.  With dance … may not be centre stage, but it is your stage.

The thing is, the thing is … it is your call.

How you respond to life and its challenges crosses all decades, all ages, but in the mature times, times the mantel gets heavier. And so back to the pirouette …

If you think growing older is growing weaker, think again.  The body failing and flabbing out … only if you want it to.  Strength, still there.  Effort? Takes  little more but totally doable. And please, don’t burden me with talk of ‘getting older’, and the sighs … I don’t do the sighs.  I begin with the music.

The playlists. The not sitting it out playlists and thinking you are old. They are dancing to life playlists. Do you have them?

Mine:

A playlist for early in the morning, upbeat and groove challenging. The kind you hit the sidewalk with and go … got this day? Totally!

The public transport/driving in the car/ getting there playlist.

The workout playlist.  When I go … don’t want to but when the music starts, I am Martha Graham, musical theatre, hit the treadmill type of playlist.

Paris playlist.  Pretending I understand all French and oui, my, of course mon ami.  Perfect for walking the streets of Paris in the evenings before dinner at Chez … of your choice.  Shuffle and dance at the thought of romance. Trés sexy stuff.

London playlist.  Strong, artsy and hip. The strutting stuff to take in the history, the diversity and walk faster than the tourists – bold music to shimmy too, and yes, I am doing the shimmy rather than the close moves. You should see me on the platforms of the tube … moving, not standing. I am the one doing the moves with music in my ears. You may not hear it, I hear it.

Italian playlist.  I have so many songs I dance to in Italian and don’t understand a word, get the meaning, the total immersion of it, if you get my meaning? Love, love dancing to Italian music.

South African playlist.  This is a mixture. Home stuff, Afrikaans country and words of the mountains and beaches and earthiness.  Nostalgic and slow appreciation of being part of the story. Dancing to the beauty of her.

My writing time playlist.  End of the day, calm and nostalgic.  The pattern of my life in music, good and sad. Songs that take me back, fill me with love and romance, inspirational and moving. Goes well with wine and dreaming.

All dancing … never sitting this one out.

As I have said before, dance like EVERYONE is watching! Even in the dark, undecided, unknowing times, dance is the liberation of the spirit. Dance and then dance some more. A little jig, a small shuffle, in public, in the kitchen, in the bedroom… dance and, never sit it out.

Thinking about doing some adult ballet classes again. What about you?

We are not lost stars just yet, and ready to sit it out … no, going to light up the skies and light up the universe. Not caring how it looks, just how it feels.

No matter the moment, the dance will solve it all.  Get up and do it.

Images Pintrest and arts live.ca

A rainy November day. To learn again …

Some may despair when the rain comes down on a November day.  I try to always remember the drought, the longing for rain in my childhood days and for me, rain is good.  It is a mantle of thoughts day – inward day.  A normal but never normal day (for she is never the ordinary good, or bad.)

I love the rain. The enveloping of it all. I love especially, remembering how much I loved the rain whilst at school – it meant, Art days.  Rather than try to compete on the sports fields, Art was the colouring, painting, expression of self time.  Can still smell the craypas – or pastels as we call them now.

As I began the long journey to Ham House, knowing full well that none would want a garden tour in the falling rain, it would be the perfect venue for working in.  Warm Orangerie, cheese scones and tea – the sort of mother comforting day.  Another misunderstanding lay heavy in my heart, we get those, but it matched the mood.  Still, as I walked down the foot paths in heavy rain, the drops from falling oak leaves and puddles before me, it led me to the Petersham.  And there, in the rain, the graves beneath the carpet of leaves were so full of stories, other than my own. I could not help but stand in their moments, some far back, some never back from war, and felt gifted, to just, in silence, pay homage and think, well madam, you are still here.

Perhaps ‘Melancholy walk’ seems more poignant when you are dripping with raindrops and standing before a bench of someone once here, loved it here and now … a name on a bench.  At least they were loved enough to have a bench – will I be rewarded a bench, I think, be rooted to memory in a favourite spot – and where will that spot be, I think and nod to this person, and move on.  I am alone along the river, covered in mist, the boats moored and listless.  Even the horses I pass have their heads low under the dropping, the dropping of rain.

But it is not a sad day.  It is a winsome day. Chatting to Tom in the Orangerie, he is full of dreams of acting and performing and I am lifted by his resolve. Dreams are such good things.  Blow me down, not only am I deep in working, but there stands, waiting, four eskimos ready for the tour. In this weather, me freezing and unequipped?  Strange but true and the tour is muddled around puddles – they are here and I deliver, wishing I were elsewhere instead, like a warm bed, with a great lover and conversations of life.

Pumpkin time is over and somehow the starkness of the garden shows another side to landscaping – the bare structures reveal the bones of her life.  Stark hedges, the kitchen garden with little to offer at this time – menus and diet were seriously compromised a hundred odd years ago.  We are fortunate now to be able to buy fruit and vegetables but then, it meant little people and lots of sickness so lucky us. Don’t ever give up on your Vitamin C!

Surrounded by wonderful stories, the rain continues unabated and the second tour, thank God, is empty.  It’s only two pm but I know that the dark is coming and she does, at four today.  A long walk to Richmond, another bus and this time the stories of today are hustled and closeted in the red bus that takes an hour longer because of the weather.  Oh my, the spirits are failing as a child kicks my seat, another is screaming and I cannot see out of the window for the vapours that are humanity as we move at a snails pace and then ‘your bus terminates here.’ Here! Where! This is nowhere for me!

The romance of the day is gone in the public shuffling to get home.  When I do, cold, soaked as a frail, discarded afterthought, darkness all around, I am still not defeated by the day. It was a up and down day, a day when others were troopers in their heady gear, full of dreams of youth, colouring in day, London winter day filled with history and stories day, I know that in so many hours of this day, I felt hopeless, invigorated, saw history, touched the future and survived public transport too. So many stories to share, to learn from and warm again, it was a good day.  The misunderstanding I shall rectify, the rain is feeding the daffodils and love will survive the seasons.

As for those still wanting the tours in the darkest, rainiest days – bring it on!

 

I’ve got the magic in me.  So how was your day?

 

You were not born to give up easy …

Do you ever think of yourself as a heroine?  Times maybe, often not.  Life just shatters the spell I guess … and we fall and fail and then the music comes again.

I know you dance in the kitchen when no-one is watching.  When the playlist pops up and the rhythm takes hold.  Guess what, that thing about dancing like no-one is watching works sometimes.  We have the moves, do the thing and all of sudden the mountain seems doable don’t it?

So it’s Saturday night and yes, I am with pj’s, face mask and music. Nothing like the days of heading for the night out, but the night in can be just as amazing!  Week done, hard work and who wants to go out to prove ourselves right?  We do our little jig on the quiet, with pleasure and take stock of where we are right now. Great place to be, empowering sometimes, on our own … taking stock of our worth.

Did something different today.  Ascended the heights of a building I don’t like too much, going up many floors I didn’t feel for – its not the height thing, but the thought of too many movies growing up that had Towering Inferno’s and such.  Not a good thought and the Sponge Bob building never on my scale of lovely places in the city. But I did it. I went sky high for a friend, and stood there, gazing at the skyline and thought, another coup. 

We spend so much time climbing don’t we?  We build lives, careers, family dreams and past ‘I wish I could have done this and that’ and we get there, or we don’t, and then we come crashing down at times. Those down times stick … we forget the highs and mud stick is what we become when it’s hard. It is a lonely place.  At times.  At our age, hard is not the word for it. Lost maybe?

Still, I climbed and saw and stood there and then it got me thinking. 

Heroines fly.  They soar and don the cape and bust the world.

Frigging make it happen, despite the odds.

Despite the curve balls, the twists and unforeseen villains who lurk in the shadows.  At the highest point today, rather nervous and timid in the scope of all that was all around me, my life seemed, well small.  Maybe even for a moment, insignificant.  And then it dawned on me – I was part of that history that lay below, my story did count and will if I make take the option to make it.  When you stand so high, so very high, and everything seems so small below you,  your problems do to.

Countless individuals never got to go high.  But you are different.  We have options some never did. Centuries of women just survived and now you may feel like them, but I stood there and I realised … in this time, at this moment, we do not give up easy … we adapt.

Look at the situation and if it’s not so good – go with it.  It will make you grow. There was a time I thought, I cannot go on, and I did, because I had the choice in this modern age to do so.  Everyone struggles, in the past, and now.  But unlike those in the past, we are more able to make the change.  And soar again … believe me, soar again.

On my little balcony, past office of ‘where the hell am I going to go’ and ‘life sucks’, it is now my office of ‘ you were not born to give up easy’. You can make a difference, don the cape and be a superwoman if you want to.

I conquered the fear of height today.  After that, the view was awesome and I realised, I belonged in that view.

Just saying.  To the wonderful woman who wrote saying it seems impossible, I am telling you, dancing in the kitchen, it is. You were never born to give up easy … you were born to make a difference, and most of all, to be the legend you are are.

Go dance in the kitchen. Make your own playlist and dance like EVERYONE is watching! You are worth every move …

Image: Living loving hobart

 

Its not always about us. We have a job to do …

‘Here I am, trying to find my feet and totally forgot those following in my footsteps.’

Struggling is an egocentric occupation.  We are immersed in our own, each grappling with issues at this age that may have been the broken winged dove and though futile at times, let’s just say we have the experience to make a difference from here on, forward.  And we do…

The past few days, oh Lord, help me but I have had this Wilson Phillips song beating a path through my brain – you know the one ‘Hold on’, the catchy, ‘Bridesmaids’ theme – hold on, boom, boom and things’ll go your way. And of course, let’s be honest, the line really pounding away is … You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess … ‘  mmm … really … what gives … mmm.  And we keep going upsticks with some truth and hopefully some solutions.

But, and but is all important here … it is not always about us.  Never before has the younger generation been so stressed, so unable to deal with sadness and global scrutiny as before.  I live in a city with so many young, talented and gifted young people … unable to cope with life.  With the challenges of proving themselves, making their mark, earning well and being happy … and failing on all counts for the stakes now, are so much higher than I remember.

“This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market and at risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential in their wake’ Telegraph April 2018.

The pressure is immense.  Flashback here to moi, fifties born boomer and that final matric day.  Mother says … ‘darling would you like to go to University?  Get something useful behind you before you marry and have a family of your own?’ Oh yes, for sure.  Of course, what to do with the time in between, a nice job, money for rent, petrol and drinks with friends.  Seems good, think I will study Drama, or Humanities, or Law and then all will be sorted.

Did I do the same with my children?  No. It was, study child, be the best you can be, create your own business, be successful, get that pension in place and when you are a millionaire, maybe then you can buy the restaurant/guest house/ villa in France and so on.  It was the way it was and not apologising for it, but in the stopping and thinking, I believe our children, the Millennials did exactly that – they worked hard, hectic school hours, studying, extra curriculums and for some university … and now our super achievers are in crises. The world is levelling and the dream is crumbling.  The need to achieve and be … be perfect at everything is a burden cloak suffocating rather than letting them fly.

Let’s face it – no-one expected us to be perfect by thirty. A millionaire with a trust fund and five figure salary, with future children in the rights schools, a mortgage paid off at fifty and a seventeen hour work day. How did this happen?  Did we take our own failure and insecurities at this age to project it all on our children?  Did we find ourselves incomplete and expect them to be so before they turned forty?  Do we want our incomplete dreams to be their complete ones?  We lived in small enclosures of life, they live with global comparisons – and happiness comes second to success it seems, and in that we look behind to find sad young people, who strive, and fail and feel that in the failing, they are half of what they should be.

They were watching us.  They still are.  They thought us perfect and when the dream shattered and mothers, fathers and others stumbled in the path, they were there.  Mine, well, they were the catchers of mom, the consolers of hurt and carers, for which I will be forever grateful and so this is what I am saying …

Maybe it was good that we, at this age, get lost.  The picture perfect person has cracks too.  Maybe it is good that they know that we are human.  For maybe, in the human mess that is us at times, we also teach them that it’s ok to just be … well human.  That it is not all about achieving but living .. with good times and bad times and in the end, good times again.  That by falling, and standing up again, we are showing them that it is fine to be fallible, weak and lost at times.  Not all perfect all the time.  Maybe life is not about the success, but the road to saying, even we, with all our experience and knowledge, still have a lot to learn.

I don’t want to live in a world where young people are stressed and afraid.

Where the job is everything and success is a stamp that means nothing.

Thinking now… maybe the best lesson I can teach my children, and those young, beautiful young and stressed people, is that life gives us highs, and abject lows, and then the highs come again, not with success, with money or status, but with love as the thread that goes through it all.  Love your job, love your place, if you want more, let it be because you love it, go further because you love it and when you finally, pause, remember that all the little things you do, the people, the hobbies, the home, the garden and the small moments are those you can love.  Fail, yes, falter, yes, we did too … and if we can inspire you, let it be because we were human, young and still young at heart.  We need to inspire our followers at our feet that the ground will be sandy, rocky, steep at times … but always worth it.

If I can inspire these stressed, striving and beautiful young people through my example, it is to not be ashamed of my story, but proud that in my small way, love got me up from the floor, out of the shadows, stepping behind the wings and when it all comes to the light … I loved growing, more than being the best, but being the best one can be. Holding on is great when you realise it.

We have a job to do.  Knowing we are being watched, let’s inspire the younger ones to know that life may bring baskets of lemons, but lemons are the most beautiful fruit in the orchard.

Image: Pintrest.