Observations from behind the apron.

Thank the Pope for the end of the holidays.  Love them, indulge and then get totally over it. Life must have structure she says.  All that eating, drinking and trying to remember what day of the week it is … too many left over chocolates conflicting with the resolutions.  So she rises in the dark of London … lights on at five am … yuck … thrilled to hear the tubes working and off to the ‘other job’.  Yay, life is moving again.

For the newbies, I am travel consultant/event planner/writer and part time waitron.  The latter gets me out of my little abode that can at times become trying and into social engagement. I disappear behind an apron and try to remember the orders, which all of you, be a little more compassionate with this brain and all those silly requests for extra hot/one shot/almond milk/a little more foam but no foam and put it on the side sort of thing.  I don’t mind, I am floating above all over you and whilst you ponder the Silver something behind the apron, I in turn prattle, enquire and entertain.  And observe – life in a café is a life lesson of note.

You reveal all your stories.

Keep mine close.

Today there were tears.  She is meeting her ex to discuss the schedule for children caught between their letting go of each other. Both defensive and staring at diaries rather than each other.  She has heard bad news, trying to smile but her eyes are maps of her misery over the espresso.

He misses home in Australia. It’s tough spending the winter here on his own and all resolve to forge a new life is waning in the missing. Feels left out from it all back home – the smiling and saying it’s all good wanes with the need to chat.

Her child shifts the eggs around on her plate.  Mother on the mobile, not with her. Dealing with the world, but not with her.

A flat white and a slice of banana bread to pass the time.  She is alone, her Silver hair speaks volumes of figuring out what to do next.

The three year old boys faces a barrage of entrance tests to get into the right school. He wants to read books, mother wants to groom him to get it right and the competition is fierce.

Discussing the next safari – but where to go?  I say nothing but it is not easy. 

Bringing all the post with them. Christmas cards to be dealt with – they have been away and life has happened in the meantime. Unopened they tear them one by one, it is past … someone took the time to send them wishes. I clear the table to dispose of the wishes.

London wakes to the New Year.  Going back to work.  Shall I see the regulars asking for a discount?  Have some changed jobs, locality, have some taken that leap and changed everything?  Around the world have some taken a resolve to begin again, move house, change jobs, relationships?  In this little space much has changed since Christmas, and little has too.

‘Thank God you are still here.’ happened.

And I am still here. I know your favourites.  Your little scenes you think I don’t notice. You know little of me and that is the way it should be. Behind the apron I gather stories, make friends, give solace and learn.  I always learn from you.

Good to be in this space. I grow and gather.

Never stop learning, and listening and realise, as I do, that life is life for everyone – and then you make the choices.

Wow, it is awesome and I am going to take each story, everyday I am behind the apron, to high five life and to realise that the fat lady is far from singing.

I kind of like the idea that I have pushed myself out there, to learn a little more, take it all in and build a life anew.  Far cry from the past of madam had it everything, but close to the life madam is going to embrace.  The apron will not last forever, but the memories of being empowered, will.

As a student I spent all my free time being a waitron.  I earned my way. It changed my life, my direction in my studies and taught me so much.  Now, forty years later I am the waitron again, with a little more strain on the body, but not in spirit, I have gone back to learn, and remind myself that observing others is the way to stand back, behind the apron, and in time, leap into a new direction.

And if you, in your Silver Street time, are feeling a little lost, a little unaccepted or unloved – go find an apron. You are never too old to begin again …

 

Image: mylittleparis

 

 

Christmas winter in Paris.

Thank heaven, for little girls … they grow up in the most delightful way.’  Maurice Chevalier

I have two delightful little girls whom have grown up into the most remarkable women.  My eldest is enjoying the sunshine of the Southern Hemisphere, so it was to Paris with my youngest for four days, to take in the love we both share for Paris. My son loves her too.

Most people avoid Paris in the winter. I love Paris throughout the year, but it is in winter when I return to end the year in the heart of this magical, enchanting city of lights, and love.  Paris in the Spring, the summer and Autumn have my heart, but when the clouds hang close and the starkness of architecture and nature are at her height, I love her most.  It is quieter, more solemn and poetic for me.  Her buildings melt into the grey, her love for the linear in planting comes to the fore. We walk for miles, huddle in her cafés and brasseries, character abounds, the ghosts of writers and revolution with tips of gold on her statues, all impact when the crispness of winter envelopes.

Rather than stay in my usual hotel, we were invited to stay in a flat in Pigalle.

Dubious I was.  Pigalle is the place of the Sexodrome, of the many sleezy nightclubs and the once, or is it still, famous Moulin Rouge?  I am of the Opera, the left bank sort of gal, but we were grateful of the opportunity to explore – and loved the experience. The apartment was tucked away in a side street, just up from the falafel and ‘private viewing’ offers, but it gave us an insight into the living of Parisians behind the many doors you see.  Courtyards and apartments that are quiet and filled with character.  

By night, the lights of hedonistic living are everywhere, by day, the tarnished remnants of a bygone era greets me. The streets are wet from the winter drizzle, rubbish on the pavements, leftovers of people who frequent and go about their lives in this city.  Every city has her ‘other side’ and yet, people are living here, they thrive here.  Waking and longing for coffee, I experienced Paris in a different light, a good light, a city that has history but continues to build upon itself. Within the realm of what she is.  London does this too.

  The Moulin Rouge in the stark light of day. Still a landmark.

It had been some time since I visited the D’Orsay museum and it has been too long.  The Impressionists are a favourite, so, and so, hello to Van Gogh, to Pissarro, Monet and Manet. To all those who dared to defy the norm, reach for the different and make that happen.  Go early, the tourists are still there with their damned selfie sticks and loud voices.  I detest standing before a portrait to hear the uninformed comment and move on after a hundred or so photographs of them just being there. Is it my age that makes me grumpy with the ignorant who confuse all and this is most more irking when we visit ‘Shakespeare and Company.’  Over the years I have loved entering this little shop that offered a haven to writers so poor they needed the comfort of Sylvia Beach?  Hemingway would pop in to collect his mail, to borrow a few francs and hope his books would make it onto her shelves.  Nowadays, one bustles and breathes deeply in the hope of some reprieve to find the book. As I always do. 


As the light slips away, the candles lit at Saint Sulpice for my loved ones, time for stocktaking of the day. People watching, a bierre blanche with a view. Dinner at a brasserie. Deep conversations about life and where we are going in this interesting time.

I love the rain. We chose shelter in the company of the Luxembourg Gardens in the rain, leaves dripping and statues soaked in their frozen marble forms.  Pools of light on the pavements in their wetness. Escaping to the passages of Belle Epoque – children’s toyshops and miniature furniture stores.  Gift shops and ballet shops where point shoes and tutus take us to another place. I follow a number of Parisian bloggers and one in particular, Paris Breakfast, was doing exactly the same thing at the Gallerie Vivienne, so I knew I was in good company. Love her watercolours.

Dined at our favourite place on St. Louis, our favourite film locations from ‘Midnight in Paris’. tasted fruit and visited our favourite florists. Chocolate Chaud at Café de la Paix, where my family tradition in Paris is manifest. Brunch at Buvette, mandatory hello to Deyrolle, Claudelie, Les Deux Margot. Prayers and candles at the La Madeleine as is custom with every visit.

A creature of habit, the final day before returning to the Gare du Nord is Galleries Lafayette. She is Christmas Paris for me, besides the gorgeous Lindt chocolate close by, but her display is magnificent. Her view the same.  In the winter of Paris, the walking, the rain, the greyness of her beauty, I must to the rooftop of this place, with a view of the Opera, I am of the Phantom, the rooftops, the unique character that is Paris.  

Because I go to Paris so often, many have asked me if I have a lover there.  Of course I do.  It is she. Someone once introduced me to her loveliness and I return over and over again, for the inspiration, the history, the hidden promise of love that this city holds close.  

I love Paris. That you know.  The wintertime is particularly magical.  

‘That I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why oh, why do I love Paris?
Because my love is near’

Till one day soon …

 

 

In a day …

 

Times when living in a small apartment is too small and the getting out to remind myself that living in London is a privilege means hopping on a bus, any bus (as it turns out) to navigate into the city. 

Today it was the number 39 and 87 (the new major has bestowed on us locals a free second bus within an hour) and so to Clapham Junction and then onto Parliament Square.  Being on a bus is still and remains a novel experience and the best way to discover the city.  Being high up, I have the opportunity to gaze into windows of apartments, into the backyards of dwellers and peer into the lives of urban citizens in every shape or form.  Pristine, unkept, rented, owned. Some with neat squares of garden, some with weeds overgrown amongst bins and debris. People are living there is the story. It is the London few tourists see, hidden and sullied in urban resilience . And resilience is what it is all about. I am in awe of these great Londoners.

It reminds me of the shock of actually becoming other than the tourist.

Still, there is something fundamentally brotherhood in seeing the council houses, the chicken and kebab shops on the route. The bus fills with personalities of all race, ages and types.  Chocolate children and young mothers with no wedding rings, glued to phones in the standard track suit of daily being. Their lives are as small as a punnet of strawberries, tasted and forgotten. The route is of children with instant dinners and soda, of turbans and old ladies with shopping carts. I sit on this bus with the idea of a past life and a story no-one cares to hear.  Some are silent with music for comfort, other talk loudly in broken English.

‘Yeah, innit just the most random my man.’

‘I swear, the baby is gonna get that conjuncti … summin’ that glues up them eyes and makes them brutal sick an she got no man and no babysitter sort the shit out when she gotta go to work.’

‘Well he said, that she said, that he said that Shamiqua was throwin’ her booty around like last year’s Christmas puddin’ and so he said that she said that he said …’

Everyone’s listening to everyone else … everyone is clutching the grocery bag.

They get off closer to Westminster Abbey. Life for them is not the places tourists visit, nor do they know of these, many having lived here for years without tasting any of it. It’s expensive London.

  

I see what the tourist don’t see.  I see a city in it’s totality. The poverty, seediness, delight and creativity of city living. I pass the back alleys, the derelict churches, the rising mosques.  I see demolition and growth and try to remember what was there before.  I pass MI6 at Vauxhall and think of Bond. I think of Brexit. I think of the Co-po funeral plan. The London that swells and shifts and the river that runs through it.

One of millions of making it through the day.  And as I alight in the Parliament of power, those people are gone, tourists and corporates take their place.  The London of postcards, the winter of lights, the tree from Norway on Trafalgar Square. Looming in her ever present state, The National Gallery to which I am headed for the shaking of life and the falling into another.  The lives of painters, long gone, now revered on walls. Their poverty and struggles are in the colours.

   

Cravavaggio.  He is a favourite and I am sad he died alone on a foreign beach at such a young age. I can stand before him now, with Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh. Room to gallery room I am in the company of historical genius in Art. They too were the lowly ones, the hired guns of the paintbrush, the angry young men, the dreamers and students of others.  There are never enough hours to stand before greatness, created by the gifted from stories not unlike those I left on the bus a few moments ago.

In a day, on a bus, from a sector of London to another, the richness of life on the streets to the magnificence of Cezanne and Manet.  Lautrec to Lavender Hill.  This is London, in a day, a short day with so much more to discover. There are artists now, the city inspires, the stories of everyday life are waiting to take their place …

And on my way back, on the bus, now clouded in human vapour and rain pouring down the windows, I wonder of my own place, somewhere in the middle and what it means. The opportunity to witness the greatness and the ordinary man – and who knows what talents lies within the city still?  Blessed I am to see it all.  Food for thought for sure. I am privileged to be part of this moving life …

 

The Guilt and ‘grrr’ of beggars on the street in Paris.

No woman, man or child should ever have to beg for their lives, dignity or daily bread.  In an ideal world, which we all know is nothing like the stories we read as children.  

Watching people beg upsets me. Coming from Africa, I thought myself quite immune to this, right down to the many street children with cupped hands at the lights.  But no, children no older than four doing the job for mother who is breastfeeding by the side of the road tears me up.  Or the blind man being led to my window for change.  I am a wreck when this happens and like PMS, on an emotional day, it’s me handing over all my money and sobbing all the way home.  Why is life so unfair?

However, I have also been on the other side of hostility emanating from those I thought I was helping.  Those very same children would, at times, reject my offer of nourishment – it’s the money for glue they want.  I have been spat on, cursed and told, with laden sarcasm, to ‘have a nice day because you can.’  This is the ‘grrr’ part coming to the fore.  I must say that in London, most homeless/jobless people are selling ‘The Issue’ and always polite.

The reason for writing now is my trip to Paris was riddled with beggars on the street.  Why do I always forget this part? Perhaps it’s my eternal romance with the city that causes selective memory but when it’s cold like this in December, at Christmas, the beggars are on practically every corner.  Some wearing Christmas hats.  All ages, men and women, sitting on cardboard or mattresses, many with animals beside them.  I believe they are given more government funding if they have and maintain good care of their dogs and cats (I actually met a man with a white rabbit on the sidewalk yesterday – quite entrepreneurial as the children could seldom resist.)

I know this is a controversial subject.  Been going on for years.  I thought I was immune.  I am not.

Reading up on where these individuals come from, Google has endless articles, all with varying opinions regarding the beggars in Paris.  Be it the older women, kneeling on the sidewalk, the mute but persistent young girls who thrust clipboards under your nose (and once tried to whip my Starbucks from the table – you should have seen me move and tell her to f … off, much to the delight of my children – goes to show what instinct brings out in all of us.)  Then there are the ‘did you lose this gold ring’ scam and the unwashed babies who should be safe and warm.  The signs and plastic cups are now so far placed in the middle of the sidewalk, one poor American kicked it over by accident – you would have thought he had killed Bambi. Kicking the man when he’s down’s cup is kicking the man when he’s down.

There is help.  Charities work tirelessly to feed, cloth and home the homeless and the hungry.  It is not a permanent solution.

I cannot give money to everyone. I work hard for mine and if I want to buy my children Christmas presents, it is my right to do so without guilt.

I would rather buy a broom from a person who has risen and found a solution to poverty by selling their wares rather than simply holding out their hands.

Every year for Christmas, each child receives a present of charity in their names:  a meal for a homeless person, a school uniform for a child, a lifeline for a donkey, these are some charities we support.

A few months ago, when I was in South Africa, I watched a documentary of a man who climbs down into the sewers everyday, wading through the muck in hope of finding objects he can sell and raise money for his family.  You would be surprised what treasure lies within the merde – diamonds and rings, cutlery and mobile phones – and though he may be killing himself with the toxic fumes and ecoli exposure, the man is doing something positive in his life.  He is not begging. 

To those I walk by, I do feel so guilty that I cannot make all your lives better and warmer this winter.

I feel powerless to help you when there are so many.

I should never develop a disregard for human need and those less fortunate than myself.

But there are times, and forgive me, when I just feel the ‘grrr’ of demands expected from me when I am doing my best not to make demands upon others.

And I hope … that there are Samaritans out there for you.  Or Angels, angels would be better …

 

Images Bread.org and Daily mail

The Winter Garden – beauty in strength.

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart… She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871

It always seems strange that I spend half my life in the other half of my world so to speak.  Less than a month ago I was going into a Spring garden in South Africa, and today I sit, late Autumn, beside a fire in the Orangerie writing this to you.  The garden is dormant.  No blossoms and the smell of that intoxicating star jasmine, but a stark beauty is visible through the lead windows.

The Winter Garden is like no other time of the year.  Autumn has passed and all is stripped bare.  For me, it is a time of masculine qualities, like Michaelangelo’s ‘David’, naked, self-asserting, with a dynamic energy and confidence in self.  The bones of design and form are revealed in the Winter Garden. The Gardener’s blueprint exposed and some of these designs are more beautiful at this time of year.  Symmetry is revealed.  Textures of paths and statuary seems heightened.  If one is fortunate for snow and ice, fountains freeze, the earth turns white … lonely cries of a murder of crows screech in the silent sky.

  Trentham Gardens Staffordshire

Apart from the landscape design, what else do I love about a Winter garden?”

  • Love the winter flowers, like the Helleborus, in shades of white, cream or dusky hues of pinks and aubergine.

  • Cyclamen    – those pretty bonnets that brighten up the gloomiest of dark days.
  • Dogwood     – like fire sticks – Kew Gardens is a favourite to find them.
  • Heather        –  feathery, heath loving warriors of the wintery weather.
  • Quince          –  Red blossoms that seem more fitting for Spring but they cheer up no end.
  • Witch Hazel  –  Just love the name, all spells and wiry witchy stuff.

The grasses are a favourite, like mops of wet hair under dew and snow.  Really shaggy and yet in the summer, with full blown roses, the combination in true Oudolf style, is inspirational. I am a great fan of Piet Oudolf, have been for years and the winter landscapes have been ideas for my own gardens in the past.

  Wisley gardens

oudolf.com

The dramatic seasons in the Northern Hemisphere each have qualities akin to their own.  We all look forward to Spring and the blossoms, Summer and the halcyon days, the drama of Autumn and then … winter.  Winter in an urban city is not easy.  Winter in the garden, in nature is humbling and beautiful, to be enjoyed for the hard work done during the year.  A time of response.  Planning your garden to be enjoyed at all times of the year is the making of an excellent gardener.

My favourite for last.

The lost gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

A sleeping beauty.  Winter rest, landscaped wonder.

Gardens in the images above are part of the National Trust.  

  • Stow
  • Trentham Gardens
  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Wisley Gardens is part of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Hope you are inspired to create the perfect garden to be enjoyed all year round.

F&M popping up at Somerset House for Christmas: blades, fondue and mince pies.

 

If only the reality of moi avec ice-skates were not the stuff of jarring thoughts, I too would be gliding across the ice like an extra from ‘Frozen.’

You have seen the ilk of me before.  Pained (fibreglass boots that never fit), terrified (look down), sadistic (the edge for holding on is all mine, all mine) and rigid attempters who vow every year we shall never do it again – but as you all know, the allure of slooching over ice with pretty lights and the allowed hot chocolate often produces the cruelest of momentary lapses.

Somerset House is one of my very favourite places along the Strand.  It’s grand.  It’s filled with Art and lovely restaurants.  Now, in the Christmas season, it has an ice -rink, slap in the middle of 17th Century architecture.  Place of history, tales of executions, renamed Denmark House and once a palace – as I said it is a grand place.  But I am getting carried away with the rest – and here to talk about – Fortnum and Mason is at Somerset House for the winter!

Returning to reside in the West Wing, it’s like having your own personal tour of the home shop in Piccadilly Street.  Hope the hoards that frequent the Piccadilly store don’t discover it.  Let’s just say, in my dream home, I want this wing – just this wing – adorned by F&M for Christmas.  Where Tea smells of hearth and candle echoes tea scent.  Where picnic hampers and tartan are the seasonal must have.  Like Prestat, and Laduree, the colours of F&M and in particular her trademark hue, is lifted to a new level in luxury packaging (and seriously, I am mostly buying for the pretty boxes and ribbons.) 

 

If I were to attempt the ice skating thinny again, it would be for the package of ‘Blades of Glory’ meets ‘Swiss fondue.’  Mulled wine.  Totter off the ice into the warmth of wooden floors, crackling fire, dipping into cheese and smelling that Christmas Spice – I get hot just thinking about it. The mince pie thing has been going on for a few weeks now so for me it will be the entire diving into 70’s style Swiss Chalet Fondue. Enough to tempt even the most hesitant.

 

 

London transforms herself in this season time – compensation I think for the early darkness, the multitude of sparkly, sparkly, lights and Christmas decorations are a fairyland to delight all ages.

Images: Fortnum and Mason

 

 

 

To be at peace today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Embracing Autumn. Cosy up.

 

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

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

In the midst of Autumn mist.

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

 

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

 Nigel Slater’s Raspberry and Apple pastries.

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

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

  

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

  

One of Harper’s Bazaar choice colours for Autumn.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about the ‘Invisibility Syndrome.’

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Images Pintrest

 

 

Plan for Joy.

 

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

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

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

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

Which reminded me:  we have to plan for joy.  

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Are you planning for joy?

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

 

Images: Chatz wedding, Tasha Seccombe, Fleur le Cordeur

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