Me, and my money jar. I learn, and I shall earn, and do it my way.

In 1970 … something, a defining turn of events would forever change my course of history.  Mid junior year, the nuns of The Notre Dame Convent, my little school, were instructed to cease teaching arithmetic and begin teaching maths. Babes, us all.

Boxes arrived with green books for the students and a red one for the teacher.  The answers were written in the red one.  No-one, including the nuns, were sent on preparatory classes, understood it quite frankly:  numbers and the alphabet in between, it was simply easier to reveal the answers and let us run, with barely a passmark. I ended up hopeless at maths, and though I loved arithmetic, was left with a deep distrust for anything that made no sense to me.

Rather Pluto than Pythagoras.  By no means ‘ahhhhh ‘ I can’t do it, or understand it, but rather, if I did not need to … I have other things to do.  And so, Belle left the financial investment side of things to darling during marriage – such a cliché now isn’t it?  Darling and Financial Advisor would build the portfolios, pension funds, growth this and risk taking that and I would make sure the children had swimming costumes for the gala, and run the car and diary. Tax was like a distant relative, one I had heard of but never really to meet up close.

Personally, half the reason I didn’t really pay attention, other than I was not required to, is that I was weary of predictions and all that stuff – I mean, every economist in the world, still claims they did not see the Sub Prime coming, and they were supposed to be the experts?  Anyway, I digress:  when darling did decide to leave, and the shock and horror of divorce anaesthetises your very existence, finances are the very last elements you are thinking about.  Yes, you do think you will die, and I did believe that I was going to end up in a council flat, but that was only because I was dealing with a pocket full of not knowing what the hell my future finances were.  I never want to be in that situation again, ever again.

Whilst re-training to breath and a very odd habit of hiding money under the pillow, just in case –  (anyway started the fuck you fund far too late – was never going to happen) also informed by those at the head of the Financial portfolio Information desk, what I would and would not be getting.  No negotiation,  no requests, and honestly, no reason to not accept, so hopeful was I of a turnaround and romantic ending.  I was also told that apparently no-one leaves a relationship without planning it for a long time, so if this is true or not, there would be a few elements to the Financial Portfolio that could well have been omitted for sake of brevity and a swift separation. Besides, I did not even think of challenging or questioning or whatever, demanding an audit whilst flaying myself religiously, I mean, what could I have done about it anyway?  Possibly nothing then, but certainly now.  Some notes:

  • It never ends as badly as you think it will.  It will be bad and you may have less than you imagined, may have to start all over again, but hey, you have control of your life now.
  • Whatever you thought, or did not know about finances, astonishing how fast one learns.  Wunderkind you!  Was that you I saw reading the FT, you go smartie!  Still a trifle boring though,  methinks…
  • Back to the having little left.  That little is like the magic bean, it is going to propel you into many different actions, a job, a career, investing in your own or someone else’s business.  It’s like having pocket money all over again, and remember how so little was all the money in the world!  
  • Cutting down is so in these days. Minimalist everything is sexy and strong.  
  • Nothing like that drive deep in your heart to prove to yourself you can control, and empower your own life, to make you sit up and be the Chairman of your own financial portfolio. Take advice, but let your decision be yours, the person you trust the most.
  • Finally, the learning to say ‘no’ because you are saving money, does not make you a poverty queen, only that saying ‘no’ means it does not work for you, and you have other plans.

When darling told me; ‘ It’s time to take control of your own finances,’ I thought he was kidding.  That’s not fair, I whimpered, mumbling I was too old to learn. Hah, thanks for doing that darling, I am so loving this new adventure, and today, when my Financial Advisor suggested something, I could actually say … it doesn’t work for me and let them know what I wanted to do.  Felt fabulous and something else, my darling was right, he knew I could do it.

When said FA told me would not be able to afford a property,  let alone get a mortgage in the future,  I thought to myself … time was I would have simply believed it, and now, thinking, maybe it’s time I made a plan, or find someone who does believe like I do.

More on The Jam jar, but for now, there are many great women out there with brilliant financial advice, many women who work in conjunction with Divorce lawyers to assist in this transition and make sure you are supported all the way.  I love ‘The Wealth Chef’ and blogs by Mary Waring for inspiration but if you are looking for more details on professional contacts I have to help you, please email me.

We are there for you.

Those darling nuns, no-one to provide some help, but how times have changed – bless them!

 

Images: 123rf, 

The ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Banish it.

‘We can live in a world that we designed …

However big, however small, let me be part of it all.’

A million dreams. Pink.

‘This psychological phenomenon, known as Imposter syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

In short, it’s a hot mess of harmfulness.’  The Muse.

Imagine if we all just trusted ourselves.  Believed that we were worth something, not just in glimmers of light or a break in the clouds, but that we were always worth it, and stopped self sabotaging – first do no harm of course, but more importantly, do no self harm.

The Imposter Syndrome is often associated with those who are already high achievers: the doers that have done and now doubt that they actually did achieve, but continually inflict doubt upon their abilities and in so doing, lessen their own self worth.  We think of the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as one pertaining to specialists, business men and women, those who are of high standing and successful.

But we suffer from the Imposter Syndrome on every level. No matter who we are, we doubt, and it is that doubt that cripples us.  Others may never see it, we may not show it, but it exists in every one of one us – I am not capable, I am not enough, I am not worthy. Who will believe in me, can I really do this, am I up for it … how will I muster the courage to invest in myself and in so doing, make a difference in my life?

I have felt the fraud.  Life has made me doubt myself.  What do I really have to show for myself at this age, was what I did before amount to nothing if I don’t have the label, the status, the financial wealth and the social standing others have?  Do I count at all and more importantly, how do I go on from here – how to begin again, gain the confidence to break free from any ties that bind and make something of myself.  Good old doubt, good old disbelief that it is too late, has amounted to little to show for it, that my life has been, well average. I hear you. I hear me.

There are types of sufferers of The Imposter Syndrome.  The perfectionist who will not ask for help, believing that if they did not do everything themselves they would eventually be caught out as frauds, as imposters.  There are the Super people who continue to study, to gather certificates by the dozen in the belief that enough is never enough for fear of being, caught out.

The genius, always the overachiever, who fails to keep up with the expectations of others, or the expectations they perceived that are thrust upon them.

The expert, according to ‘The Muse‘ who is always lauded for being the go to person and cannot ever admit to not knowing, but fears being found out for not knowing everything.

Recognise yourself?  I am guilty and have been for a long time.  For a time it was simple, follow the rules and do the duty, but when faced with another life, a different situation, fear of being seen as less, not worthy and incapable of driving myself forward, I fell into the Imposter Syndrome.  Whatever I thought I could be, evolved into falling short of my belief that I was not capable.  On the outside I knew it all, had done the homework and could speak for hours on every subject, give advice, but actually put the dagger to the sticking point – well that was a whole different story.  Who would trust me if I did not trust myself?  Asking for help was a sign of failure, of weakness.  Yet I always spoke of it all, tried a little of it, and never quite took the leap into the unknown for fear of falling short.  I would then, I believe, be found out as the fraud, the talker rather than the doer and rather than face failure and possible mockery, did little. Best to hide behind the knowledge than fail in the trying.

Sadly, the Imposter Syndrome was of my own making. And there were always excuses.  I have them, and then I hear others at this stage of our lives, succumbing to the listless living of little gratitudes, of acceptance rather than trying, perhaps for the first time, to be the person they were meant to be.

Can’t do that.  In her acceptance speech at the Baftas, Phoebe Waller-Bridge thanked her mother, who said: ‘ Darling you can be whatever you want to be, as long as you’re outrageous.’

My mother said, find a good husband and live a simple life. Like I did.  Don’t stir the waters, so to speak. Bless her heart. Within that beautiful world of marriage and raising children, I did feed the burning curiosity of learning about absolutely everything, but not acting on it.

I didn’t believe I could. Never felt the imposter in pouring my life and knowledge into them.

And when they grew and left, I felt inadequate to try anything new, something I thought I could do, but held back for fear of being the fraud. Confidence lacking syndrome. Imposter Syndrome; Hold so many degrees, certificates, diplomas and nurtured the mind but launch myself into a business, open a shop, put myself out there, at my age … was too big a task, even for myself. And I have procrastinated, lingered, loitered in the green room. What if my family saw me as a fraud, not the example to follow, if others rejected my ideas, if no-one wanted me? The doubt was my own invention and in that the Imposter Syndrome, at this age, became the milestone around my own neck.

it doesn’t matter what it’s called today, Imposter Syndrome or the lack of confidence, it is what it is. A lack of belief in that I matter, that I can do what I want to, to fulfil my life in the coming years.  It is a question, when it comes down to it, of whether I am going to settle for a gratitude journal or walk tall into the unknown, trying and failing and trying again until I can actually say:

‘However big, however small, let me be part of it all.’

Not a spectator to my own life.  Not a feeble excuse not to try. Not the gatherer of knowledge and ideas and the instrument of my own doubt.

Ageism is a thing of the past. We form one of the largest communities of doers, changers and those with an income for change. Paid our dues, worked hard, contributed in our own way, but if we begin to fear lessoned, reduced in anyway, it is our own imagination. Time for a re-brand.

Whatever your situation now, it is never acceptable to resign to life. Life is only what you, now in your situation, will make of it. Re-brand with the confidence that you can choose a different path, fall hard for it will make you feel more alive, change if you have to and in the end, realise that you can overcome the ‘Syndrome’ of resignation and defeat and find another beacon to reach.

Rebrand yourself.  Gather the knowledge of life and use it for good.  For your good, for your sanity and satisfaction and banish that Imposter Syndrome to the the wings while you take centre stage of your own production.

I am scared about doing it. I doubt still. I have no choice though, for I cannot submit to idea of just being content.  I need to be fierce still, to be worthy of my life and in the end, to be just in that I gave myself the opportunities to not be a fraud, but a legend in my own eyes.

And if I can reach. fall and reach again, so can you.

Image: The format.

 

Welcome February (my Macbeth month)with snow, ice and colder than a witches tit.

Four am on the 1st of February – and she is awake.  The snow is beginning to fall.  For me, snow is still the thrill of it all.  I love snow, will not complain … no, don’t complain, and revel in the silent whiteness.  I am standing at the window, transfixed on the flakes.  Silent gorgeousness. A few of us wake at this time, we work, we worry, we rise to babies, and we watch the snow beginning to fall.

It’s the beginning of the Macbeth month in London.  The shortest, and the bloodiest. Christmas joy pales, January sales lapsed … now to wait for the crocus and snowdrops.  To endure, only today was special … white magic came. Rising to give a tour of the hidden icons of London, daunting to say the least.  Having lived here for a decade has me well prepared, thanks to Uniglow 

Just call me the Michelin lass.  Can barely get the arms to meet with all the padding beneath.  Two pairs of socks, tights, more, more and more.  The black outer uniform, gloves, beanie and she is good to go. Oh, and the music – cannot live without the music and forever grateful for the present. It’s coffee before the tube, oat milk heaven.  Hope I don’t have to stand all the way to Victoria.  I do. I do not care, there is snow.

Son sends the picture of morning at Sandhurst. Landscape.

My clients are a mum and daughter team, mum’s first visit to London. How to make her fall in love with my city when the horizontal, ice rain whips at every turn? Coutours does not flail in frosty climes. Little giggy, get warm dance in Trafalgar Square and tea at St. Martin in the fields crypt. We are happy, we are learning from each other.  Great women.

But for me, rainy days are shopping days and I need to go to the department store.

Did I add that the umbrella flipped? Walking against the beast. Fingers frosted.  Time for comfort food and retail therapy.

It is most definitely a mash and mushy peas day. We have the finest restaurants and coffee shops in the world, but days like this, it’s the comfort food, comfort comments, ‘how are you love?’ followed by ‘oh darlin’ colder than a witches tit innit? For sure darlin’ – for sure.  And what is so special is all the learning I do on the tours – going back to what the winters were like in Shakespeare’s time.  God awful in the murky streets of London with little warmth, little work and literally no money.  No wonder gin had such a popular following!  A tot for a pence, would have begged for it – death by cold was not an attractive option when sober.

We have amazing stores.  John Lewis, Debenhams, Selfridges, Harrods – vast stores of goodies. Designer everything, choices like petals on the prettiest flower. I traced the fabrics with my fingers, pretend choose lamps for the pretend home.  Waved evening dresses before the mirror, decided on shoes I could not afford.  Spritzed the perfumes, smelt the cheese and decided, once more, to discard all I have and start again – when I have lost the pounds around my untoned sculpture of me. Do that everytime, don’t you?  Going to shed and start again, the mantra of my life.

Big stores remind me of happiness.  When I was a young girl, in a small town, twice a year, my mother and grandmother, would take us on the train to Johannesburg, for shopping.  Starting at John Orr’s, we would begin at the top with anchovy toast and tea and then the expedition began.  One floor at a time.  An entire day of lists to be ticked.  Home, clothes, luggage – costumes for the seaside.  Patient in the following with the reward of a toy at Lilliputs before going back to the station. We shared much on those days, those mother and daughter days. I loved my mother more when we went shopping together. She seemed so organised and in control. Just the girls. The tradition continues with my girls.

Rainy days on holidays were always for shopping. Greenacres, Stuttafords, ‘De Hup’ as my grandmother would say … to the stores when rain descends!

And it was a rainy, snowy day today.  A nostalgic trip to the department store. May they never disappear. mecca of offerings and sharing lipstick trials. Bought dumbbells (do not comment) , lingerie (love great lingerie) and a Barbour T-shirt – had to have the British injection on that one.

Going to be a long February. “What’s done, is done” Macbeth

Oh the snow, she intrigues me, oh the tour, she was wonderful. Oh, the shopping on a snowy day, she was exactly what I needed.

Be kind this February… be kind to this soul.

We have much to do.

 

So, how are those new year’s resolutions going?

 

 

In the illustrious words of Ebenezer Scrooge, all re-iterate, ‘Bah Humbug.’

All those New Year’s resolutions frosted and veiled in the post Christmas overload when the party food (all miniature of course), prosecco vapoured and jumper infused loathing has now come to the party,  A little late, but we do not judge.

Secretly I make them.  Never to vow or vocalise, for I am the breaker of so many rules.  Dry January is great for me, on every other night, the night post the morning of … ‘I am never going to do this again!, sort of night.  Gym, well I don’t like the guy, he does nothing for me and all attempts at liking have resulted in pools with clouds of chlorine and little ‘de-germing’ water puddles I have to step into, that is anything but. I have tried, dear Lord I have tried, but the idea of swimming with others in a pretend lane, watching nose plugs and swimming caps, pales to swimming in a pool on a sun kissed day. So lark it, leave it, Gym went down the plug hole. Swimming in a REAL swimming pool, outside, preferable naked, is still top of the list.

January is different.  We have all these … yeah, going to do it, re-invent myself and be amazon, is just lovely my lasses, but for me … this year’s resolution is … picking the year I loved the most about myself, be it a decade or decades ago … and whatever, going to do it again.  So what was your best year?  Apart from all the psychologists saying go back to when you were ten … which I loved by the way, running, jumping, halter neck tops and dreaming about all sorts of things, the simple life. my year of choice for this year is 47.

I loved myself at forty-seven and it is the year I will be again.  I don’t want to be younger, nothing like that, but be the fabulous I felt about myself then. I was fit (without the gym), drank copious amounts of wine, wrote endlessly and felt, well invincible. I was in the throes of lust and love. Like that very much. All still doable.

You see, it’s not about the age, or the decade, but the attitude. For a long time, circumstances have made me feel, well old.  Others around me speak of this time as a great gift – you get free bus passes. You can wear purple hats, be silly, go to bed early, eat soup You can let the girdle go, instagram your breakfast and go grey. Not me … for goodness sake, if I make another year’s resolution, it is to still the ageing thing as a gift. Me and William Blake, we do not go gently into that dark night. We go …

The New Year’s resolution is a mind factor.  A time factor of a great year and working on feeling those same feelings, living the same vibe and just discounting the numbers, wrinkles and sagging muscles to throw all to caution and be bold and silly and romantic and lustful and curious and wanting more. Settling is not just about the New Year’s resolution of go to the gym or not drink or not dream.

At forty seven I was in a different place to now.  The skinny dipping will be difficult in the city and sure to be arrested if I try in the Hampstead Heath pools, but I am undeterred. The size ten may be elusive but the will to flaunt it does not die. Travelling is not going to be … oh have to get up early but darling, I am on my way. Full Brazilian wax still there. Hair done, no grey darling, not yet.  Paint those nails, wear the make-up, strut the stuff, kill this fluff.  That is my New Year’s resolution. Times change, working harder than ever before and that is good.  It’s all good – the balcony swan song is done.  The hideous gown when I get home is done. The lamenting is gone. Needed it, went through the valleys and all gone.

So, what am I saying?  If you are doing the January New Year’s resolution thing – pick the best year and take it forward. If there is one thing I have been guilty of is only looking back, and those were the sweet times, but now, in my Silver Street, I am going to be forty seven forever.

What it your ‘Good Year?’ See yourself there. Be there. I am sure it does not involve any settling.

Image: Urban matter, kut.org.

 

My favourite perfumes and why I need to add to them. Or do I?

Can you remember when you first began to wear perfume?  Which are the ones that personify you best?  Memories are bottled with the scent and for me, when things are a little ‘untoward’ which seems to have been for a pretty long time … it’s my favourite perfumes that transport me from feeble fairy to fabulous self.  Perfume, music, candles and wine … and a great love.

It’s five thirty and I know there will be days like this, but the pain of black outside is not a good sign.  So, let’s deal with it.  Christmas packed up, trees wilting on the side walk, done.  Bye, bye sugar.

It’s summer on my mind.  In all the packing, one thing staying close is my ‘Beach‘ perfume by Bobbi Brown.  Alas, no longer making it and you should have seen the reaction to the news.  ‘Beach’ brings back so many of the loving things:

  • Summer.  Of course.
  • The beach.  Holidays and permanent cozzie time.
  • Smell of sand and sea – you know what I mean.
  • Thick beach towels to wrap the body after a swim, and you nestle.
  • Pool games.  ‘Marco … Polo.’
  • Watermelon
  • Barbecues in the evenings.
  • Cold wine (when I was much more grown.  And still now. With ice)
  • Dogs swimming with you.
  • Mermaid parties with mom’s garden furniture at the bottom of the pool.  Not impressed.
  • Cooking oil when sunscreen was done.  Sure, we did it.
  • Keeping the LP’s from melting outdoors.
  • Melting ice-cream.
  • Walks on the promenade with my parents, and now my children.

One scent can take me to all these special places.  So I nurture her like a wilting rose, hoping to prolong the feeling I get for as long as possible. And find again.

A little spray and I am immersed in the scent of summer.  A true love.

If you can’t be where you want to be, find something that gives you joy and reminds you of it and make  a commitment to be there again. Some more of my favourites.

Angel by Thierry Mugler. My sister introduced me to this one and since then, fascinated by the chocolate note.  Back in the nineties, this was the going out to dinner choice, the evening wear choice and still today my children associate me as a mum and Angel.  Face it, we all need angels in our lives and even though this scent may be a little passé, she is still a go to when I want to feel angelic. With chocolate and vanilla.

 

  • Young mum with her gorgeous brood
  • Loving my husband and when we went out for dinner
  • A lazy evening on the veranda, good wine, just us and the stars
  • Baking and birthday parties
  • Dinner parties
  • Packing to leave on a family holiday
  • Planting annuals in the garden
  • Trips to the farm
  • Christmas eve in the summer
  • My home

I think my first perfume love had to be Babe by Fabergé.  Think my sister had it first and followed everything she loved.  Huge crush on Margeaux Hemmingway, the idyllic 70’s model. Strong, bold scent, made me feel all grown up.

Babe represented the teenager into twenties years.

  • Seventeen magazine
  • Best friends talking on the corner of the street
  • School and University
  • Boys
  • My first car
  • My first job
  • Endless notes in the diary
  • Dreaming of becoming an actress
  • Dreaming of my wedding dress
  • Dreaming

There was a time when in the later twenties, that heavier perfumes such as Cinnabar and Opium were the objects of desire.  Heady stuff, very distinctive.  Think it may have been to laden for me at the time but what did I know – all about feeling even more grown up and must have doused myself in them. Estee Lauder was more about Karen Graham, another iconic model than the actual scents for me.

Mademoiselle Chanel – a gift from a lover one and loved still. Always special that first gift.

Monsieur Hermes – and Paris.

Love all Hermes perfumes. Hard to choose just one, but the personification of Grace Kelly, and Paris.

24 faubourg Saint Honoré.  

 

Passionately in love with Paris.  24 Faubourg Saint Honoré is in a street I walk along with stars in my eyes and love in my heart.  Parisienne chic, deep romance and longing for the beautiful in the world.  The scent reminds me of that love, the passion of art, of fine dining, of architecture and fashion. Elegant desire.

  • Taking the Eurostar
  • Gard du Nord
  • D’Orsay and the Impressionists
  • Coffee and croissants
  • Classical hotels
  • Divine restaurants
  • Luxumbourg Gardens
  • The left bank and Ernest Hemingway
  • The lights reflected in the Seine
  • Pretending to understand the French music I’m listening to
  • Pretending I can afford anything in Printemps
  • Bittersweet good-buys

This is my adult perfume.  The choices I made and life I have now perfume.  More mature, wiser and when love is deep and satisfying even if life is far too layered now. This is the personification of me at this moment and Paris beckons.

Perhaps it is time for a new perfume du jour?  Perhaps.  Have tried many of the new scents and maybe  it is this time of my life, but the memories associated with my lovelies is what I want right now, to compress a life well lived, not only in photographs but in the smells and scents of the perfumes that travelled in my suitcase.  If I did choose something new, what do you think it should be?

Oh, and a little admission here.  I never fall asleep without a spritz of Kiehl’s Musk

Heaven.

Images:  cafleurbon, hermes, babe, Thierry Mugler

Did Chanel have a toaster?

‘Pardon Mademoiselle Chanel, avez-vous une grille-pain?

Before you think there were no toasters around back then, there were, developed in the late 1890’s in fact.  And I stood here with my toaster a few minutes ago, thinking … do I really need you anymore?  Such is the packing of self – in more ways than one.

When one is about to box up your life, once again in my case, and relegate it to storage, which is a costly endeavour, one tends to scrutinise every item in terms of ‘do I really need this?’ We all know about the accumulation monster – mine is intrepid and has no limit.  Where did all this stuff come from!

The life gets smaller and smaller.  Has nothing to do with age – I am not one of those who goes ‘ah getting older etc, etc’ I loathe the giving in to age simply because another candle has appeared.  In many ways, it gets more exciting, exact.  Handbag has gone from the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ and all the maybe’s you need when children are small, to the functional cross-over from Guess that contains the wallet, diary and keys.  Liberating and far less cause for harassing fellow passengers on the tube.

So to the packing.  I am going to discard all that no longer serves the new life I am planning, which could well be directionless at present, but easy to store and recover when needed.  So what to pack, and why Chanel?

More like a changing of attitudes.  I was of one order, from one origin and so the collectables suited.  Work hard at school, get a degree, get married, have children and the proverbial picket fence home.  Had everything that went with it.  Boom came next.  For years I continued to carry the Albatross of past life along; the memories of dinner services, old Christmas trees, enough framed photographs to cover every surface, coffee table books, medicine in case and of course the clothes that one day, on a dream day, I would still fit into.  Oceans of luggage.  

Also, oceans of thinking everyone else was doing the same. Can I say that I wondered at those women who chose never to marry, or have children?  Women that worked since they were fifteen and do so still?  Some never other than renting, never owning a car, being on the PTA or holidaying at the beach?  It was coming to London, and Europe that all these gorgeous women became part of my world, opened my mind to individuals other than me … and, how to put this, now that my world is more akin to theirs, the stuff of past life needs clipping.

So I thought of Chanel.  I refer to her on a tour I give.  Success after a severe beginning.  Basics grew to belief. It’s wonderful that she could re-create from nothing, and an inspiration.

‘My life did not please me, so I created my life.’

At present, my life does not please me.  So I am creating a new one.

And the toaster does not fit the brief.  As a child, no vegetables but loaves of bread. No longer.  Sugar too. Don’t do the dinner parties anymore, so why hang onto the ice bucket and tablecloths, baking trays (can count a dozen) only taking up space.  Unused martini glasses in case James Bond popped in. Mouldy Christmas tree in the damp garage.  Mother’s clothes packed in grief, to hold and talk to.  Coffee table books, outdated cookbooks and enough silverware to please a Medieval feast? Know what I am doing?

Photographs of all above when used and enjoyed are enough. Tables groaning with food, friends around tables, children decorating – have them all and so the actual articles no longer suffice. Good times still, just going to do it a little differently.  Going to acquire new memories, with a slender inventory and a new resolve.

And so the lady thinks again …

 

Style does not need a million pots and pans.  True living no longer requires post Christmas cards, twenty unused note pads, linen from era dot and cookie jars without cookies (re no sugar).  Thank goodness for charity shops around here, they are on the receiving end of a gorgeous time.

What will I keep?  A single, something Silver Streeter, will need only the photograph albums, some pretty cups and saucers, excellent wine glasses and a multitude of pencils.  These are for drawing and setting up the new enterprise.  Don’t need medicine, or a recipe for jam. dog bowls (no more dogs) or that Jenni Button suit circa 2007. Actually, may keep the suit, just in case the lack of bread and sugar will get me back into it sometime…

So that is what goes. And what next?

Sexy, new linen to slide into.

Fresh, hedonistic towels.

Totally new make up and beauty products.

Holiday planner.

New lingerie to suit the no sugar, no carbs, new body.

New business, finally, to suit the needs of this woman.

New playlist. Face it, I need music to live by, to strut and be empowered by. Think I will keep some of the old songs … they are what I am. They are the ones I love forever …

Keeping the things that I love the most.  Letting go of things I love but no longer fit the new brand.  Letting go of things that don’t fit anymore but acquire those that fit the new experience.  And Chanel, if you could have the fabulous life, perhaps without the toaster, I am converted.

So, what are you going to let go of, to create the new, fabulous life before you? Let me know.

Images: red on line, biography

 

 

 

 

 

Take your anger to the quiet place, with tea and toast.

‘Set an intention to heal any unexpressed anger that may be present in your life.  Go to a quiet place with pen and paper. Take a few breaths. Ask your anger to speak to you. Write down the thoughts and feelings. When you are finished, forgive yourself for holding onto the anger for so long.’  Iyanla Vanzant.

Blessed with quiet spaces in the heart of the busy city.  You may have a garden, a little alcove. a haven beneath a tree.  Favourite chair in the cafe – anywhere the white noise stops and breathing becomes calmer.  The shelter.  The sanctuary.  The Quiet place where all that craziness in your head, all that anxiety fizzles in a cup of tea.  A cup of anything warm.

The day did not start with anger.  Rather well actually, when sun brings frost and frost brings glitter to grass.  Red buses seem brighter.  A happy Winter’s morning. Alighting on the bridge, grand father Thames lay low and resting: mudlarks time.  Today was to be the admin day.

Following the once again coup of moi – the little flat is no longer quiet.  Packing begins.  Not the place to work anymore, so to the softness of one of the quiet places I love to work.  Walking along the river is breathtakingly beautiful, past a smattering of small children like dodgems on the grass.  Buffered to the hilt against the cold, more like cheese puffs in neon colours. Immediateness of tiny ones.  You fall, you cry, you find a curious incident and watch, want it, take it.  Life within a metre of your face.  Would love that sometime.

It was minutes in the reverie of toast and tea that the death eater emails came through.  The sadness of separating assets and all the dust of love that lies within the archives now.  Anger rose as anger does when people misunderstand, do not value, do not care and you are powerless against the sails of indifference.  The worst feeling.  Cannot change the hearts of Rushmorean stone.

And then, you can.  The quiet brings it down:  the veil of gentle grace.  Tea was made for calming and anger taking properties. Pen takes the words of anger and then … I look at them … then look out of the window … there is a walled garden across the lawn, a small gate of wrought iron.  A little wilderness.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh ‘shall we to the wilderness’, wilderness. My anger follows the path but fades before it gets there.  Anger is not worth my day, I have things to do.

Right here, at this little table, in the quiet place.  More plans are made in the quietest places, than on vast battlefields of anger.  More hearts are healed though quiet than hollow, loud words. I know why gardeners cannot live without their gardens – they find their quiet souls there.

Taking responsibility for causing anger in others is important too.  That anger, of which you were the substance, needs to be penned and forgiven for.  Penned and put to bed. Do not live a life of guilt, or anger, but when you do feel hard done by, victimised and wretched (love that word), truly wretched, it is not the quiet corner of disobedience days, but the quiet place of openness you need – and then, a beautiful walk to the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Autumn soul.

For someone who is never at home, lacing her life between jobs, commutes and contacts, today was a gift.  A nothing day, and an everything day.  A day, now darkening beneath the first of the true grey days, that I have not spoken a word to anyone.

The beginning of Autumn.  Light hides now, the sun weak and rain draws patterns on glass. On waking, with a day to myself, the urge to turn into the duvet was tempting, but for me, the first, true Autumn day, is the soul day.  For cleaning of life, of space and spirit.  Inward time.

Preparing for the winter, and myself to get through it.  Most know I take little responsibility for my misery dans the London Winter, Lord knows that I struggle with it still – but for the first time, I choose to stay this year.  Much has happened with little choice of my own, so I am sort of surprising myself on this one, and may I take the opportunity now, to yet be held unaccountable when the grey monotone smallness of post Christmas slithers beneath my heart. 

I do love Autumn though.  Always have, its my birthday season, as nature sheds her clothes and stands naked, without fear, as one does when the lover loves regardless and still finds the beauty.  Land becomes carpets of jewels, the fox blends and rosé turns to red. To bed and fire and books and stories of closeness – and family.  Of memories and the world can wait a little – the pace can slow a little – the questions are left unanswered and the messiness of life matters not – for in Autumn I refrain from questions and trying to prove.  Resolve to linger a little longer, love a little deeper and bring the threads home.

In Autumn I still have the faith that though things have changed, beauty remains.  In Winter I grieve for the things that have changed.  Autumn is soft, voluptuous, rounded with berries, scented with earth and passion.  Winter is a grave yard of buried hope. Unless it snows, unless it’s Christmas, unless love still lives there.  Autumn is falling, yet landing softly.  

The Autumn soul is a kind one.  And I hope above all, I can still be that.  So, in this quiet day of preparing for Autumn, the things of others are packed to take out another day, to reminisce about with care and affection.  The candles are lit, the wine is poured, the lack of hearth is not yet lamented but the soul is calm.

‘Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness …’  Keats

Mellow we shall be.  Mellow and still moved by the magic that lingers.

Autumn brings the heart to a quiet mindfulness.  And it remains the same.

Painting by Madison de Villiers

Image: Wow247

 

Dance like everyone is watching you …

‘Tripped and fell, stood up again … and I am dancing still.’

Consider myself a dancer.  In the early years, nothing greater than the new pair of ballet shoes, and waiting in the wings for the day I could finally graduate to the beloved tutu. Oh, to be given a tutu, that stiff, gorgeous bit of Swan Lake. Most of the time, being the tallest in the class, I was rather the sailor, or the tree, or the mountain top, but the tutu escaped me until my mother had one made, just because she loved me, and I have the picture to prove it.  Years of ballet classes in the hope of point shoes … oh the hope, and when I finally got them, black satin I wanted, just to be different, the ankles said no – not a chance you were going to be on point, forever.  Ugh.

Shattered dreams.  Giselle was still out there, but rather than give up, I changed to contemporary dance.  The satin, black, beautiful point shoes are still in a box somewhere.  The changing led to an Honours degree in dance, and my love for Martha Graham, for Isadora Duncan – doyennes of the different dance. Danced until they dropped, the one getting old but still dancing, the other, killed by a gorgeous scarf trapped in the wheels of a car. Ah, the drama was my intoxication.  And their differentness became my life dance.

I learnt that the dance need not be the traditional.  It may not be the classical, the formal, the stylised acceptance – it was the free form of dancing, of moving to music, to rhythm and even now, at this age, when the music comes, the dancing comes. Not on a stage, but on the stage that is my life, in the any place where dance makes me happy.

But it is more than that.  Dancing is a metaphor.  The way you live your life.  Times we feel awkward and exposed, incapable, clumsy.  We fall and trip and crash to the ground. Life does that.  But as we lie there, there is always the beginnings of the tapping, the notes that begin to play and it ignites us to doing again, to get up again, and move again.  How we move, matters not, we move, and we shimmy, and we shake, and then we rise above and lose ourselves, find ourselves and rather than dance like no-one is watching, we dance like we were born to do it. On the open stage of life. Our own style.

The perfect dance, like a play, like true theatre, always has the scene of … well, all fall down. It’s a classic. The betrayal, the broken heart, the what do I do now moment.  The suspended pause. Will we fail? Will we rise? Will we get up again … of course we will! Life dance always builds to the great ending and we do the same, only we do not wait in the wings, or stay in the chorus of our own lives, we adapt, we find the scarf in the derelict box, the talisman and change our perspective. And we dance, in the open, unafraid, for everyone to see.

As we are this dancer of our lives, when we get dropped by the lead or fall back into the shadows for a while, we are also being watched – we baby boomers are exposed in our glory, or defeat, by others, younger than us.  Times it is not a pretty sight to see the principal loose her footing, but the important thing, when things go wrong, is to show those who follow us, that the dance is not yet over.  We do fall, we do succumb to doubt and awful disappointments and lie there for a while.  But we do get up again, and we can show that change may be required but the dance will go on.

And it does.  Without the perfect leg rise, the perfect pirouette or the handsome catcher who was absent as we crashed.  For still, there is the grand jeté, the leap of faith … the can can.

When we dance, as if everyone is watching, we dance in truth. We spin, we turn, we stumble at times and we get up to dance again. Technique in dance, and life, may have escaped us, but style, oh yes, style will be the climax of the dance.  We will fall, and we may just fly, trying and dancing is all.

Live with your own sense of style, and you are dancing in the light.

Images: google, motivationalreads,pintrest

You are your brand, even if it’s a re-brand and all those words that go with the idea.

 

‘Owning myself is a way to be myself.’ Oprah Winfrey.

So missy here confessed to the laying it bare and what a great, naked, euphoric feeling it has been.  Nothing to hide, no dark corners anymore.  The scars on the body visible but proudly displayed. I am sure the black dog will come again, nip that naked behind quite firmly, but somehow dealing with said dog I think will get easier from now on.

And so to the branding, or re-branding of me, naked and all.  Not going to happen all in one go, and not pretending to recreate a persona, business, set of environmental spaces all in one go.  I have time, the important thing is that I made it across the Rubicon and am, I surmise, still in one piece. Would rather have been skinny dipping than forging through black mire, but skinny dipping is on the list.  Not the bucket list I might add as I have an aversion to the very term, ugh, squirm and to hell with that, one last time sort of defeatism, but the list of freedom.

I digress.  The branding begins with what no longer fits.  Let’s begin with the outer look shall we?  If you are like me, I have held onto clothes that ‘maybe’ I can use one day when I am next in a place I will never be again.  Those went  in the black bag dragged to the charity shop and cannot explain, but always with a somewhat guilty expression on my face? Why do I feel guilty about taking clothes to the charity shop? For another time.  The clothes went, along with the linen and tea towels and shoes.  The coat I bought my ex the first time we came to London and I thought he looked like an RAF pilot and left for me to sob over and put on post sauvignon blanc. Gone. Important to clear clutter of pain pre sauvignon blanc.  Remember that.

Unlike Carrie Bradshaw I have only a few pairs of shoes I personally would sleep with.  Unlike Carrie, I can barely hold my balance on the heels, once elongating the long legs and power to exude grace.  Public transport has put a stop of any idea of heels. Short of wearing sexless trainers, I am to practical yet classic footwear. Sob, bye, pretty heels. No, be firm she says.

A happy confession to make.  Even in the dimmest grey of depression and angst, this plum never descended into trackpants/hoodie/bargain/pj’sallday look.  So none to throw out. The slippers can stay. Take heart fluffy slippers, you can stay.

A shameful confession to make.  One, dear Lord, oversized, velour gown in lilac, avec sobs, wine stains, candle wax and numerous food history which would be ‘walk in, put on, sit on balcony and scare the passers by mode.’ I looked like Barney on drugs, the day after, doing the walk of shame. I actually did not dispose of said evidence, my children demanded it. She is gone.

Darling has gone shopping

Little budget for such things but one does not need, no imperative not to get all in a fell swoop.  The excitement of being a little selfish, a little cheeky and adding to the new wardrobe is hours of therapy in one afternoon. Do not believe I do not care anymore to see the fatness in the cubicle and go – I don’t care, this is me – no, it sucks but it is motivation 101 also. I don’t like the letting go, not about to embark on an epic marathon of blisters but I will make it happen.  For later.

Love the new additions to the family.  One in particular, in the pic above, has become my closest friend.  I have fallen in love with her.  Lovely  comes from Cos and her fabric is like satin, her colour ice-blue and her flow is lyrical. She is so lovely I want to buy her sister, do you think I should?  The dress is simple: I am Maria in the convent, and Maria, in love in the conservatory. Think I should buy her sister and that is the point, when something fits, when it makes you happy, it’s an epiphany of style, and the adding to the brand that is the better you.

Wearing Lovely today.  Found matching nail polish, ‘saltwater happy’ by Essie, to match and you will find me, far from the sea, but as I only choose colours if the names make me happy, this is a given. I am.