Friday, 26 October 2012

Celebrating those you love

Four years ago today, my world turned upside down when my mum died. At that time, it seemed that nothing would ever be the same again.

I remember shortly afterwards bumping into an old work colleague - an American gentleman. He usually kept himself to himself at work and didn't tend to get invovled in the usual chitchat and banter that went on around him. But he'd heard my news and stopped and said "Boy that must be hard - mums are hard to lose." 

I had lots and lots of touching messages from friends near and far and yet for some reason this is the message that stayed with me most - mums are hard to lose. He'd hit the nail right on the head. They are hard to lose or certainly in my case, mine was. My greatest fan and well intentioned critic, the teller of bad but immensely enjoyable jokes, a listening ear, a storyteller, a messenger that every cloud holds a silver lining was gone. Until that point, she'd always been there for me. She was a constant in my life. She was the person I ran home to when I didn't like what life offered me. She was the one that made a pot of tea and told me everything would be all right.

I was lost for a long time. I felt like I was searching for something and I just couldn't find it. I gave up reading, something that had always given me immeasureable pleasure. Gatherings of friends became difficult. It all sounded like noise - noise in my head that I wanted to go away. As a friend put it, the sparkle had gone from each experience and the sparkle had gone from me. These were grey, heavy days - days when sleep was the best escape.

But time passed both quickly and slowly and with it came acceptance. Love, friendship, new experiences and shared joy brought colour back into my days once more. Also came the realisation that my mum helped shape who I am today. I know that she would want me to be happy, content, well-travelled, independent, loving and someone who is able to take joy from small pleasures as well as the bigger experiences in life and you know I think I'm doing it.

And so with a glad heart and a smile on my face, we will celebrate your life mum. Today we will take a trip to the lakes, walk in the air, disappear amongst the palette of brillant autumn colours, reminisce about old times, find somewhere to drink tea served from a china pot, tell some bad jokes and laugh and smile and remember.

Monday, 11 June 2012


I am currently a participant in a writing challenge being run by a guy called Jeff Goins who lives all the way over in the US of A but of course with the wonderfulness that is the Internet it feels like he is right here besides me every day, motivating, persuading, challenging and cajoling me into new writing territory.  His link is on the blog if you are interested in finding out more.Today is day 5 of the 15 day challenge.

I've managed most of the challenges to date including declaring myself as a writer, getting up earlier and writing in the mornings and commiting to going more public with my writing.  And then the weekend arrived and everyone was invited to take a break for a couple of days. 

Despite eagerly awaiting today's challenge, I had a visit from an old friend first thing this morning. I know this friend pretty well. He always arrives uninvited, he always wants to hang out and he is extremely distracting. He often sits in my writing space, and won't budge even when I ask him politely to move. He has a loud, dominant voice - I'm sure you know the sort. He is not someone I like being around. He loves to tell me his opinions particularly the negative ones. He tells me that he doesn't believe in what I'm doing, he questions who would be interested in what I have to say and he also asks me who on earth I think I am - what nonsense thinking I can be a writer. I call him Kevin, although you may know him better as Resistance. (Apologies to all you Kevins out there). 

This morning he and I had an argument about getting up early to write. He said, why bother? He added, stay in bed, it's warm and cozy and who cares whether you get up early and write. No-one's going to miss you. Sleep a little longer. It will all be ok. I listened to him for a while and his argument was quite tempting and then I heard a smaller yet clear and strong voice saying - don't listen to him. Give him the push he deserves. I want to spend time with you this morning.

It was Simone. I like having Simone visit and wish she'd stay longer. She is good fun and easy to have around. She says what if and what next? In addition, she tells me not to worry about things. She invites me to sit down beside her and write and see what happens. Let's enjoy this she says and we do. She encourages me to push myself a little harder and to get up a little earlier. When she is around there is room for the two of us in my writing space. 

Connie comes to visit too. Connie often likes to visit when Simone is around. I generally have to keep the two of them apart, as they don't always work well together. Connie is here now, giving me a nudge to get this post up on the blog. She looks over my shoulder correcting my punctuation and asking me, could we put that a little differently maybe or perhaps you might like to try it this way.

I wonder who will visit tomorrow on day 6 of the challenge. Hopefully Simone, my muse will call into my ear tomorrow morning, and Connie, my editor will swing by later to support me. I'm hoping that Kevin will give it a miss, but you just can't tell with him - he can show up at the most inappropriate moments.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Four Little Words

They say that three little words can be the hardest to say.

I've not generally had any trouble with the three little words, sharing these with my husband, the cat, my family and even extending out to close friends, letting them know how I feel about them and how happy I am having them in my life. What's the big deal? Just let others know how you feel, I thought.

However, there is something that I've been keeping under wraps and not sharing. I've even been hiding it from myself. For me, it's not three little words that cause me angst, it's actually four little words. And so here goes, here is where I've decided to say them - yes out loud and as a declaration to the world:


Ok, there you go, I've said it. Want to hear it again:


There I've said it and I can't take it back now.

Just one more time for good measure:


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Homeward Bound

Homeward bound,
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

These lyrics have been playing over and over in my head all morning as today is the day that I am indeed homeward bound after a delightful couple of weeks in America.

There is a great deal of pleasure in travel. It seems that the newness of everything opens the mind, gives you a fresh perspective and creates independence. It also enables you to meet and mix with new people, which in my opinion is always a wonderful opportunity.

But for me there is a such a joy in returning home. Home to my cat, home to my things, home to where there is comfort in the familiar.

And most importantly - home, where my love lies waiting, silently for me.

The Jigsaw Puzzle of my Life

I've spent the last two weeks in Princeton Junction, New Jersey staying with a very good and old friend of mine. Old in terms of the fact we've known each other for over 30 years - thought I should preface that, just in case she reads this post.

It's been a marvellous, yet gentle and easy time. How wonderful it is to fall back into the company of old friends. It seems that no matter how long ago it's been since you've seen them, time has no real meaning and you slot back together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. No explanation is required and there is no need for us to fill in all the gaps. Instead we talk about love and happiness and we reminisce about times gone by and boys that made our hearts beat faster. We work together in the kitchen, preparing supper and singing to old Sister Sledge songs and we laugh. We laugh a lot. And it makes me think that the jigsaw puzzle picture of my life would not be complete without my friend Julie in it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Sloping Off

Ever done anything that seemed a bit naughty but which made you feel great? I had a day like that on Tuesday. Being self-employed does have some benefits - one of which was sloping off for a day out when everyone else was at work. After years of being in the corporate world and having to book holidays way in advance, there is still a delight in being able to decide at a moment's notice that you will have a day out.

Even better - as my husband is also self-employed, he was able to join me. So a delightful day in Bath was had by the two of us including lunch at Jamie's Italian.

It's good sometimes to be less sensible and to do something impulsive. And it's also good to appreciate these opportunities and be thankful for the life you have chosen which enables such freedom.

What do you have to be thankful for today?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Share the Love

It's that time of year once again. That time when it becomes impossible to book a last minute table in a restaurant, that time when if you wanted to send some flowers you should have placed the order weeks ago and that time when the shops are filled with giant heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. And is it just me or is there an awful lot of red around? Yes, in case you haven't noticed it's Valentine's Day - a day that puts fear into the hearts of men and a day which raises unusually high expectations from many women.

But that aside it is a day to share and express love. So let's put all thoughts that it's a giant ruse from the greeting card manufacturers to boost sales to the back of our minds and simply or extravagantly (however you chose to do it) express our love to our loved ones. And if you don't have anyone right now to share your love with, then ring a close friend and tell them how important they are to you or just treat yourself to something wonderful or do something great today to celebrate yourself as a fantastic human being.

As I am writing, I can hear a blackbird out in the garden sending his love call to a waiting lady blackbird. I hear her respond.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Letting Go

I've just finished a giant office and household paperwork sort. Isn't it amazing what you can accumulate over the years? Articles, blog posts, things torn out of magazines and newspapers, ancient paperwork relating to houses you no longer live in or to things that you no longer own. I'm sure that you have heard yourself say too many times I'll hang onto that just in case I need it. And it turns out I didn't. I didn't need any of it. It had sat in boxes and filing cases and ring binders awaiting that moment that it would be needed and that moment never came. During this process, it's strange what can happen. I definitely felt lighter. When the paper went off to the confidential shredder or into the recycling bin, I was able to take a big sigh. It was gone. I was no longer hindered by all this unnecessary stuff.

It's easy to do this in many areas of our life. It's easy to keep amassing more of the same. I love to read and buying a book is a real pleasure to me but again just before Christmas, we had a book culling in our house. We took over 100 books to Oxfam, after all are you really ever going to read that thriller again, especially when you already know that it was the long lost cousin who committed the murders. In addition, I like the thought that someone else is going to get the opportunity to read that book that I really loved and hopefully keep passing it on.

And I'm sure that we do the same thing in our emotional lives too. We fill our heads with all this stuff - the what-ifs, the maybes, the shoulds and coulds and as a result we can easily weigh ourselves down with the thought of it all. We forget that we can choose to let go of these thoughts in the same way we can let go of a book or an old piece of paper. I know that over the years I have worried unnecessarily about things I had no real influence over and it got me absolutely nowhere. In fact, solutions often seemed to materialise more readily when I just stopped worrying and let go of the thoughts. I agree that somethings are worth hanging on to, but have a good think about what you're holding onto. Could this be a good time to let it go and to take that big sigh?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Surrender to the Exhale

Surrender is not a word we hear very often and it can have a negative connotation in a world that often feels full of challenges.  You'll often hear people talking along the lines of winning this particular battle or I can fight this or never give up.  It all seems to indicate that you have to push and struggle onwards to get to your desired outcome. 

The word surrender is linked to giving up and in battle is an indication of defeat.  And yet at a recent yoga class during the relaxation session, the yoga instructor asked us to surrender to the exhale.  What a wonderful moment that was to just let go, let the body completely relax and yield.  It was a pure moment of being in the now and being able to escape to a place where everything felt ok - a place where thoughts were able to drift in and out of the mind and for the muscles of the body to let go and sink deeper into the support of the mat and the floor beneath.  In that moment there was a level of clarity and a sense of freedom.

In this world of rushing from one thing to the next and of trying to fight the ongoing battle to get to the end of our to do list, perhaps we should take some time to simply surrender to the exhale and let go - if only for a few moments each day.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The plot thickens

I've been reading a fascinating novel called My Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas.  One of the topics raised in the book is about the fact that the main character is trying to write her novel and is struggling to do so.  She is able to ghost write and writes a series of books under this guise, yet every time she sits to write her novel, she ends up deleting more and more until there is virtually nothing left.  So the author is writing a novel about struggling to write a novel and I am reading a book about struggling to write a novel when I am struggling to write a novel. 

It feels as if I'm looking into one of those massive mirrors and I can see hundreds and hundreds of reflections...

Was that a silent scream I just heard?