Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Feeling 14 again!

It's official. I have pre party nerves!

All the cleaning, organising and scrubbing are doing nothing to allay the feelings that are reminiscent of being a school girl waiting for her first date to arrive. Excited, nervous.

I know it'll be great. I have wonderful, generous friends who'll relax and have a ball, and so will I once the doorbell starts ringing. In the meantime, I'll run around making things right, changing beds, wondering if I've done enough shopping and full of nervous energy.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

On being Selfish

Whether we are great celebrators of New Year, makers of resolutions, or not: it is that strange time when one year tips into the next and is a marker on our journey. I've been looking back and forward a little. Reflection being no bad thing.


I sometimes wonder how people respond to the title of my blog. It's called what it is for a very specific reason. I needed to learn to look after me, not just those around me. The demands of caring for sick parents and other stresses had exhausted me and I fell to pieces. I needed to take some time for myself. After all, I'm useless to others if I'm not ok.

I guess to today I'm wondering if it's still as relevant as it was. I think it is, but in a different way. Dictionary.com defines 'Selfish' thus;

'devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.'

I agree still that this is what I needed to do - although it has never been regardless of others - but I did, and still do, need to push my needs up the hierarchy. Those needs have changed now. I've learned to say 'no', and not push my feelings to one side. The eldest sister in me will always struggle with this a bit.

More importantly, I think I'm beginning to believe that I deserve to be loved and supported too. Not just by looking after myself, but also in accepting these things from others. For so many years I have been so very scared of being vulnerable that I've succeeded in pushing people away, coping on my own and not letting them love me. I don't trust easily but I am learning. I am learning that other people may want to be part of my journey, not out of pity but from companionship, love and friendship. Finally I feel like I deserve it. They deserve not to be pushed away.

The walls are crumbling, and it's time that I understand that I too can to be cared for, and accept the love and support on offer. Being vulnerable still scares me, but now I am also a little excited by learning to receive and letting people see me.

The 'selfish' in my title will stay a while.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Shopping - A lesson I never learn

Shopping drives me nuts. Shopping drives me even more nuts when everyone is buying as much as they need plus 50% in case their guests are extraordinarily hungry, car parks resemble badly kept ice rinks, and we've all run out of patience......


I love Hogmanay. I am looking forward to having my friends and siblings here, and having fun. If I do it all again next year, please remind me that I can have some nice man with a van deliver all the food and drink courtesy of the internet and that I hate mobbed supermarkets, cash and carries, and the volume of people they contain!

I completely understand toddler tantrums in public places on days like today. Arghhhhh!

Grant me sanity for the the rest of the week, and remind me that it will all be worth it when the pipes have played, the whisky's been drunk and my house guests have at last departed and I'm looking back, smiling and grateful for the wonderful people in my life.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Insomnia

Last night I went to bed exhausted. Ready for sleep. I couldn't find it.


My busy brain unable to focus on the radio's soothing tones from the world service. The last time I remember looking at the clock it was 5.20am. Not so good. Too many thoughts running round my head and competing for attention. I don't know how to set them free.

I'd seen two of my oldest friends, their partners and children. They've been in our home town for Christmas. I love them all, and miss them. Seeing them makes me sad too.

At what point did our lives go in such different directions? We shared so many rites of passage, but somehow along the way our paths diverged. I am happy for them, but envy what they have. They've found love and families, they're creating new memories and traditions. I am treading water.

I live my life as best I can, making the most of my independence and freedom, embracing new challenges and opportunities. It all feels rather like a charade. Meetings like yesterday's are happy occasions. I love seeing their kids and I love that I am god mother to one of them. Returning home to my empty flat feels exactly that, empty. I don't know how to fix it.

Sadness, loss and unmet desires kept my brain whirring and sleep at bay. Today I must do something that makes me happy.

Friday, 25 December 2009

A Christmas Card

I still write a Christmas card for Dad. I know as I write it that he cannot read it. I keep writing anyway.


We'll visit tomorrow and do our best to bring him a little cheer. He won't remember, but perhaps he will be left with a sense of some happiness. It is Christmas, and it isn't the same without him. I can only hope there will be a glimpse of my Dad - the man, my father - there.

We will try to put the sadness of it all to one side and celebrate what we have.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A daily ritual

Most mornings I stand eating my breakfast and look out the kitchen window. I love watching the birds. I wish I knew more about them.

I would love one of those clear plastic feeders that stick to windows, but I haven't been able to find one. I'd love to be able to see the small birds up close. Feed and water them, watch them. They fascinate me. Even the smallest, plainest little brown creatures are beautiful in their weightlessness and grace.

I would love to be able to fly.

When I die, if my soul carries on, let it be a bird.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Children - To be or not to be?

I've talked occasionally about whether I want kids or not. My last post, on a cheerier note, mentioned it too. Writing it and time with my nephew has made me think a little about whether I'm be completely honest on this subject – with you and with myself.


I've been vague with 'if it happens, it happens. If not, that's ok' type comments.

I'm not sure that's true. It's what I tell myself.

In about a month and a half, i'll be 35. I'd always imagined I'd have settled down, married, be having a family now. It hasn't happened.

I don't let myself dream about being a wife and a mother because it seems so far away from reality right now. It's something that, courtesy of time and biology, seems to be slipping from my grasp. It means I have no choice but to consider what an alternative life might look like, and live the one I have as best I can.

The truth is, even if it scares me, I would love all of it.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Festive feet!

I some times wonder if I want children, but nights like last night make me think it wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.

Long story, but I received a marvellous festive pedicure from my 3 1/2 year old nephew. We had wonderful fun and just glancing at my feet today makes me giggle. Here's why.....







Saturday, 19 December 2009

I wonder....

I had an odd flashback yesterday. I was driving through the countryside on my way to work on a beautiful sunny, snowy day.

I suddenly remembered that last similar day. About a year ago, perhaps less, my journey was ending with a date. I had completely forgotten about him.

A doctor, guitar player, reader, conversationalist, Gaelic speaker and lover of various causes. Attractive and charismatic. We dated for a short while.

I hadn't been too keen when he first asked me out, but I thought 'why not'? There was no one else on the horizon, and he was an interesting character. He surprised me in wit and broad views, and with a book as a gift on our second date that I devoured and have re-read since. I enjoyed his company. We laughed, talked, had some good debate and interesting times.

He pursued me and then one day, he stopped calling.

I don't know why.

I emailed him once, after a couple of weeks of not hearing a thing, just to say hello and never received a response. I deleted his number at some point along the way and forgot about him.

It was a strange thing because it felt like a situation that was full of opportunity. It obviously wasn't right for him, which is fine, but today I wonder how he is.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Who needs drugs or meditation?

Nights like tonight remind me how important one part of my life is. A great informal gig with some of our finest indie/folk musicians, in a small club. It was an impromptu set as the support act was taken to A&E by another of the musicians. Both made back in time for the second half, one with crutches. Then an unexpected performance from one of our best known folk singers who'd popped into the hospital to check on her friend.


Three years ago I moved cities, became a carer and started living on my own. I did something else too. Not having flatmates meant I could play music again. The kind I wanted, not what had been expected of me as I grew up.

So, after a 14 year absence I started playing again. I went from a strict classical viola upbringing to rustily playing the fiddle, embracing our folk tradition, new and old, inspired by evenings like this one. I go to classes, play weekly in a local pub session with friends and strangers, go to gigs and distract myself at home.

I'm still not playing at the level I once could, but I don't care. Music is the only thing I do where minutes turn seamlessly into hours. It absorbs me.

I've made friends, had some weird and wonderful experiences and rediscovered a passion. My thoughts are elsewhere. Lost and happy, watching, playing, listening.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

And so, the journey begins again

I woke up this morning and cried.

Yesterday's counselling session had left me feeling stupid, and sad, and unable to see for myself how I can stop getting it all wrong. I guess if I knew the answer I wouldn't be there. I'd be somewhere else being happier.

I know I need to unpick things before I can put them back together. I know this stuff takes hard work and patience, but I do get so very tired of trying to be strong and positive. I feel like a kid lost in a physics class that logically flows but by the time I get home it all looks like Greek.

Will I ever be able to learn how to let people see me, love me, just be me? Do I even know who 'me' is? I given so much of myself away over my lifetime that I'm not sure what's left. I am lonely and a bit scared.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

"The times when things go wrong often make the best memories"

This little truth of another blogger's family wisdom struck a chord with me (although in browsing I lost track of where I read it so apologies for the lack of reference),but it's not an uncommon sentiment. These things do make the best stories in the pub, and generate moments of laughter and connection that would not have existed otherwise.

My recent holiday (captive in Marrakesh) was a classic example of this, and we reminded ourselves along the way that one day it would all make a great tale of adventure and the absurd, even though it felt very far from it. My companion enjoys spinning a good yarn and I look forward to hearing how the tale evolves!

It also reminds me that sometimes it serves me well to be grateful for the things I have/had, rather than the things I haven't (like making it to the mountains, seeing the flamingos or the ferry from Africa to Europe....). Trite and sentimental perhaps but, hey, we all need to find a little joy where can, so here are some of the things I'm grateful for in the adventure gone wrong;

1.Four people, from three different countries, laughing uncontrollably over breakfast in shared moment of seeing the ridiculousness of the on going van part/can we stay another night saga...

2.Laughing so hard I that I cried about names that sound insulting but are actually a Yorkshire man's compliments – apparently!

3.Not rushing anywhere, we couldn't

4.Being covered in mud whilst my companion wore paper pants (I use the term very loosely – and for Americans, not sure what you call men's underwear, but I don't mean trousers!)

5.Being shown kindness without words

6.Eating fish and chips, Moroccan style, on the square amongst the locals and watching bits of sheep being carved up from parts that I didn't even recognise

7.Remembering that people are people the world over, and that teenagers don't change much either as we listened to them play guitar, singing and laughing under the stand in municipal gardens

8.Content and easy silences

9.Chatting like school kids in bunk beds after lights out in the loveliest camp site I've seen

10.Regretting teaching him how to play gin rummy........

Not bad at all.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Children aren't scared of dementia

Today my dad laughed.

He smiled.

He also cried.

It was the ward Christmas party. There were musicians with a guitar, fiddle and bodhran and singing. His kind of music.

He wore his Christmas tie and was happy to see us. He knew we were there, and – I think – who we were. Music is so emotive, and I suspect his tears were of recognition. Were they also of loss?

Seeing him cry made me cry while I sang along with the music, to him, holding his hand and tapping in time. Seeing him laugh is so precious as it happens very rarely. Today he was with us.

There was a raffle – raising money to help pay for more of these small breaks from an unending routine - and food, and laughter. Families were there trying to make the best of what they have left together and sharing in a mutual effort and understanding of the sadness latent in it all.

It was worth the tears to see Dad laugh. A charming 3 year old girl in a Santa hat sang for him, and waved and chatted, and he laughed and smiled. She didn't know what's wrong with him, and nor did she care, to her he was just a man smiling and laughing along with her and us. (My nephew is the same, insisting that my brother buy the shortbread that is his favourite, in a tin shaped like a bus - for Grandpa.) He is my dad, still, sometimes.

I love him and miss him so much. Typing this has made me cry again, but that's ok because he laughed. Let this be my memory of him. Dad laughing.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Urban landscapes

I'm sitting at the table in the bay window looking out at a very cold scene. My flat is unusual because noone over looks it, despite being in the middle of a large, industrial city. I can see trees, not people or traffic.


In the winter when the leaves are gone, I see far more of what lies beyond. Not today.

It has been foggy since early morning, and through the day the mist thinned a very little, reflecting what December light there is.

It's beginning to get dark, it's 3pm. The fog is thickening again.

Somehow it is calming and empty. The fog leaves everything soft and cold and still.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Bring on the lifeboats

Yesterday I did something brave and wise.

I emailed my counsellor.

I am all out at sea at the moment, and beginning to sink. It seems my life is becoming about other people again and not about me, and it weighs heavily. I lose track of what I want and need, defering instead to pleasing others, keeping the peace and surviving what needs to be done. I get lost in it all.

I need to regain perspective and myself, putting me before others so I can live well and healthily.

I've been shutting people out and behaving in ways that don't sit well out of fear, old lessons taught badly, and not knowing what else to do. I need to take a step back, regain, rebuild.

I saw him today. In this environment there's no room for bullshit or excuses, I have to face myself head on and it's not easy. It's easier than going back to where I was a year ago.

I've stopped the crumbling in its tracks. I've decided to act and take control before I sink. It's a strong and difficult decision take to make. At least I know I have the choice and can recognise the signs when the clouds come.

It's about people this time. Not specifically things they have done, but things I haven't done it seems. And integrity - his word. I sort of knew this, but it takes someone else saying to make it real and unavoidable. I could have ignored my guts and kept hiding. I've chosen to escape instead. I have to put myself back in that room and brave what comes.

I will learn one day to live with an active connection between the emotional and intellectual rather than burying how I feel. Bring on the roller coaster.

It scares me, but I am proud of swallowing my pride and asking for help.

I also feel a little like a failure.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Bugger.

My mother thinks her cancer might be back. I know she's serious because it's taken her over month to tell me, and she hasn't told anyone else. Smaller problems are shouted to anyone within ear shot.

It's six years since that first phone call to me which she didn't tell anyone else about either. She was diagnosed within the week. It's been a bloody hard slog for all of us. We always knew that it would reappear, and I guess I must face this very real possibility head on. Bugger.

I'll worry when we have facts, and in the meantime there's nothing to do. Well, I say that. I will worry, in a background noise sort of a way, but will try not actively think about it. At least today she has called her nurse.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Once upon a time...

I spend much of my time trying to be positive, but there are weights that will not lift from my shoulders, and some days they seem to be heavier than others. There are days where I'd like to share the joy I find in small things.


I would like someone to bear witness to the ups and downs, and participate in a life that is about more than me.

I'm not looking for a grand romance, a knight in shining armour or someone to rescue me. I don't need these things, but I do want to trust and be trusted, have a companion and a lover. Children, perhaps. I want a relationship that's strength is patient and celebrates an ordinary life. I want to feel safe and content. I want to give these things too.

I'm reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, and these words seem to have stuck in my head;

'her trust makes me faithful, her belief makes me good....'

I'd like to be 'her', some day.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Award and some blog thinking....

This blogging thing is a funny old game. There are a number of reasons why;

1.I never knew where I'd go with this, or what I wanted from it. I still don't. I do know that it is a place I now value for words I may have nowhere else to put

2.I feel like part of a community. Albeit a virtual one. People share their thoughts and hopes and fears, and support mine through constructive criticism, humour and kinds words. I know I'm not alone on whatever road I'm travelling. I don't even know some of your names, but value your participation nonetheless. I guess you don't know mine either....

3.This space has enabled me to communicate and share some of myself with a select few people who know me in the real world. Hopefully they see a more whole me or a me that would never initiate a conversation about some of the things I scribble about because they just don't come up in every day, catch up conversation.

4.I like it. It didn't know I would. I am surprised.

For all of these reasons, and many more I'm delighted that you keep reading. I'm even more pleased that recently a couple of you have chosen to show your support with blogging awards. McCaffery33, I've already said thanks, but thanks again for this;



Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to five most deserving blogger.


-Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom s/he has received the award.

-Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog, and link to The Scholastic Scribe, which explains the award. http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/2008/10/200-this-blings-for-you.html

-Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr Linky List. That way, they'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honour.

I also understand I am to:
Notify winners of award with comment on their blog.
 
I'm still catching up with myself afte a lovely break so will pass on in due course....and some thinking....
 
In the meantime check out Ponderings and Other Stuff at http://mccaffery33.blogspot.com/ for some real honesty and insight

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I hate Alzheimer's

I saw my parents for the first time in two weeks this evening.

I usually see them two or three times a week, taking mum to visit dad in the hospital where he now lives. I am used to his shrinking stature and abilities. Every time I go away and take a break, I come back and am shocked. I forget how much he has disappeared and how little he knows me. It kicks me in the guts, every time. I lose him all over again.

Tonight was particularly bad. Mum got very upset over a Christmas decoration, a long story....and ended up shouting at the ward manager when she was actually upset that Dad had had a good day yesterday and today he was so very absent from us again. These glimpses of the man – the husband and father – that he was once are so painful because they remind us of what we've lost and the ghost we now see.

It's tough going. I was always closer to Dad. He was getting very agitated at Mum being upset, I was trying to keep him calm and couldn't sort both of them out at once. Logically, I am terribly sad for Mum, but she has cried wolf at times, and the dramas of her own illness are so often that I now feel very little when she gets upset. It's just part of life with her. Unfair, I know.

Now I'm home and feeling guilty that I was not more focussed on her needs. I've lost him too, and sometimes it's so very hard to stay calm and strong for both of them.

She lives with chronic pain, and usually her crazy behaviour is courtesy of vast quantities of grief and morphine, the drugs do the talking. It's not her fault.

Sometimes, I just don't know what to say any more. I try to listen, try not to blame, try to not be angry with her. Often I fail.

I miss them.

Monday, 30 November 2009

No place like it

What is home?

A roof and walls?

A place?

A feeling?

A person?

A Family? One you come from or have created?

Perhaps it is the intersection of these things, all or some at any time. Somewhere that is safe, and holds moments of joy, and sadness and the ordinary.

I came back tonight to a flat that contains my things, my work, my life It was cold. It is where I live. I will light candles, defrost lentil soup and drink red wine, and be glad that my sister picked me up from the airport and that Mum called to say 'Hi'.

I will pretend, for now, that this is home.

Time to check in

I step outside for a cigarette, for one reason only. To stand awhile on French soil.

The truth is, I could be anywhere.

The airport is a concrete sprawl of car parks, numbered sections and suitcases wheeling past. I know I'm back in Europe only because the skies are grey and it is cold.

I know I am not at home, because there it would be dark at 4pm.

I know I am not in Scotland, because the road signs are for Paris.

I am in transit, in more ways than one. I return inside to drink machine made coffee and browse perfume counters before joining another queue.

Anywhere.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Walk beside me

Some of you will be wondering how I've fared holidaying with an ex. I had wondered too.

Despite all the ups and downs of an adventure that didn't work out as planned, thanks to mechanics, it's been great in many ways.

I feel rather like I've rediscovered a friend. I've remembered why I liked him in the first instance.

We have been in each other's company almost 24/7 for ten days. Depsite some frustrations at our situation spilling over in minor moments, there are very few people whose company I could so easily share without having needed more space by now.

We have had conversations and not others, and ticked along with a little understanding and patience, with moments of much good humour. In his company, I can relax. I am me, and he is he. I hope.

Our silences are comfortable and safe.

I had worried that we may fight, or be frustrated by history. Instead, I have learned to cede control and trust him (I have also learned that I am bad at crossing roads in foreign countries!).

It is uncertain if people can ever fundamentally change too much of who they are (and with this in mind I wondered if demons of my past would reappear), but I am sure that we can use what tools we have differently. Maybe my hard work over the past year or so has bourne fruit after all and I have learned a little a least.

Once I had him on a pedastel. Now I hold him in regard, and as an equal.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

The first evening we resigned oursleves to a weekend of waiting for the van and headed out into the medina and its rambling narrow dark streets. It can be a pretty intimidating place and feels like living in a maze. There are no landmarks to guide the way.


We started to wander home to discover the gates of the souks had been closed for the night, and blocked our way back. We got lost. Not hopelessly, but it felt like it the time. We stood out as two releatively wealthy Westeners amongst the beggars, dealers and theives.

Young men will offer you directions, for money, before leading tourists on a wild goose chase and abandoning them. We needed to choose carefully who to ask for help.

In the grottiest of vennels we stopped by the stall of an elderly vegetable seller. We asked where we were. He didn't understand. We tried again in French, a commonly spoken second language here, but with no joy.
Andy called our Riad. Merwan, our host, asked him to pass the phone to the Morrocan. The vegetable seller looked at the mobile being offered to him as if it were a piece of moon dust or some other strange thing. He nervously said 'hello' a few of times before hearing a familiar language coming back to him through this device. A conversation began. Location was established. We were going to be ok.

The man who had helped was old and weather beaten. The grapes, carrots, tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes on his stall looked much the same. We could be in any century. He had long robes, a small cap under which were bright dark eyes and a fascinated smile. He was a gentleman.

He pullled across a tatty plastic crate and a sack to cover it so that I could sit.

He trusted us, the strangers with the weird speaking machine, and treated us with kindness. I was grateful.

Marooned in Marrakech

I guess this will be the first of a string of ramblings from Morcco. Courtesy of a series of other people's inefficiencies we're stuck in Marrakech when I should have reached Spain and my flight home today. Lucy, the beautiful 1974 VW camper van, is still in the garage.


It's been an unexpected week in this city of contrasts, and in many ways blessed, although a little frustraing. Worse for my companion than me. I wish I could fix it but I can only sit back and offer what small words of comfort I can and distract as much as possible.

I have now rescued my laptop from the van. Not writitng has made me realise the place it has in my life and the space I need to let things out and away.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Travel - places and people

On Thursday I'm off to Morocco to join a friend who's travelling there in his 1974 VW camper van. We'll hang out in Marrakesh for a few days then head north to Spain. What a lovely adventure.

I'm very much looking forward to visiting this amazing country again, and spending time with someone whose company, daftness and views of the world I enjoy.

Some of my friends think I'm crazy for taking the trip. Why?

He is an ex boyfriend.

Not only is he an ex, but he is an ex who hurt me quite badly because of the sudden way our relationship ended.

Some people think I shouldn't be his friend because of our past. But, why give up on someone who brings something to your life? I'm being selfish, not generous. He is someone who gets my inner geek. He makes me laugh. He makes me think. Our friendship has been hard won. It has required unearthing of unresolved arguments, and reshaping how we relate to each other.

Others are more understanding of my attitude.

Others blame the fact that he is a widower for the demise of our relationship. Don't they realise that neither he or I are perfect? No matter what our pasts contain. We failed to communicate well enough and to work at making it work. The timing was bad. Blame is pointless. It happened. Sad.

I would be mad to reject someone from my life because a particular aspect of it didn't work out. I wouldn't be going on an adventure if I had.

As one of only three 'real' people who know about my scribblings, he will read this. And that' s ok. Or maybe I am crazy after all....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A little bit of fun and a pleasant surprise


'Always A Mom' Thank you for this award. I very much appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read, and for thinking of me when passing on this lovely addition.

So, for a more light-hearted post than usual....






A few simple rules apply to the recipients of this award.

1.Thank the person who gave you the award.
2.Copy the Award.
3.Post it in your blog.
4. Tell Us 7 things that your readers don't know.
5. Link 7 new bloggers as recipients.
6. Notify winners of award with comment on their blog.
7. Keep being Awesome.


Some things you don't know about me;

1.I very often talk too much, and say too little

2.When I was a kid, I was obsessed by Sherlock Holmes, and had a particular love of the old black and white films of the books starring Basil Rathbone

3.I sleep with my toes crossed and interlinked....don't ask me how!

4.If I could retrain and do anything else, I would like to reupholster and restore furniture

5.I love Russian art and literature, particularly from the late 19th and early 20th century

6.I had to have a nose job three years ago, a year after someone opened a shop door into my face. My nose no longer has the hump I was born with so i'm retrospectively grateful to the drunk student who caused the damage

7.It is likely that I will develop breast cancer at some point in my life, and lose one of two parts of my body I actually like. The other is my hands. Funny that both things come in pairs.
 
Anyway I shall ponder who to pass this on to. In the meantime, I am grateful that some people take the time to read what I scribble. I am surpised that my blog has now been read in eight countries, on five continents but I only have four followers - how does that figure? I know who some of you are, as you've chosen to follow. I would love it if others leave a comment, follow or just say 'hello'. Thanks again for reading and sharing, and allowing me to share in your thoughts - joyous, insightful, dark or otherwise.

Always a Mom can be found at http://llmoore2.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Onwards and upwards

It's hard to be positive and look forwards when so many moments that could have been something, and I let become nothing, have passed by. One day I will learn to accept kindess and love. I understand why I don't, mostly, partly.

I don't know how to fix it though

When difficult things happen I find myslf in a mire of old memories and other occasions were I did the wrong thing because I didn't, couldn't believe in myself or let myself trust. I don't trust myself to do the thing that is best for me. I end up in a bog.

I must climb out and find what I need. I just can't always remember what that is. For now I will cling to the glimpses of better.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Too many questions

Two weeks ago I left the pub after one drink, and my sister's boyfriend behaving like a spoilt child. I haven't been back since.


It's Friday night and I'm home alone after an exhausting couple of weeks. Glass of red wine, too much to eat, cigarettes, junk TV and some domestic pottering.

Despite phone calls from three of my usual Friday evening companions, I just don't want to go out. I've made lame excuses. I can't figure out if I'm tired or grumpy or worse. I worry when I get into this hiding mode that I'm on the verge of wanting to stay away and wallowing. Is my response my response to the idiot boyfriend reasonable or rational? Am I playing out one of those old stories of my child hood again and not recognising it?

I can't find the root of this. I wanted those phone calls, and still rejected my friends. I wanted to know they cared, and miss me, and still I am here not there. Why?

The longer I leave it before I return to their company, the harder it will be to go back to the fold without creating something of nothing. It wasn't nothing though. It mattered to me. It just doesn't matter to them. I am making the boys uncomfortable by my absence. If I were there it wouldn't be an issue, by not being I am shining a spotlight on an argument so far unresolved and making them complicit.

Am I punishing them for not standing up for me when I needed it? Would I have accepted help if they had? Probably not. The reality is, I am the only loser.

How do I regain myself and let it go?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Changing days

It is 10am and the first proper frost is still clinging to the trees, grass and cars outside. The sky is hazy and bright, and the sun is sitting below the tops of the trees, each of them looks like a silhouette. The last of the yellow leaves are floating free.


Winter is coming and I will plan cosy nights with friends round my table. Red wine and filling, comforting  food will be consumed while we laugh and debate the ways of the world. Come Hogmanay, I will welcome friends, family and neighbours with champagne and whisky to see in another year.

Will my home be first footed by a tall, dark man carrying cake or coal or a coin to bring us all a prosperous year? We will raise a dram and celebrate.

Still I wonder where I will sleep when the glasses are empty and the taxis have gone.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Perhaps there are enough people on the planet already

I spent a lovely afternoon with around twenty friends and their kids at the 30th birthday lunch of a great friend. I love these people and I'm so pleased seeing them with husbands, partners, children, pregnant bellies - settled and happy. I was one of only two single people there. It's a club I'm not part of.


Somehow, somewhere as our lives have progressed they've succeeded in finding the people who they want to build their futures with. I haven't. I'm not unhappy but it's a strange place to be in. Marriage and kids are rites of passage and experiences I know nothing about. I can only look on from the sidelines and share glimpses of the joy their children bring to them.

Feeling a friend's tummy as her growing baby kicks is an amazing thing.

I do wonder if I want kids of my own. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated to answer that. I did want a family. Do I now? I don't know.

I have a friend who will seek out a sperm donor if she hasn't found a partner by a given age. I don't understand the strength of her longing for motherhood.

If it's something I do, it will only be as part of a committed relationship. If it doesn't happen for me, then that's ok too. There are other ways of having a wonderful life. However, I do need to think about how much it matters (or doesn't) to me.

I am 34. In a few short years I may not have the choice. Time flies when you're busy doing other things.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Words from the wise

Each week I read the e-bulletin of a man I greatly admire. He is an activist in the social enterprise movement who shares not only news of the sector but his own reflections on life as he ages. He is now is his late sixties, perhaps a little older, I think. He is well read and wise. He also posts excerpts of others people's writing. This week he shared something that may seem a little cheesy to some, but struck a chord with me.


I'm sharing it here for someone in particular (you know who you are!), but instead of sending it by email I thought i'd post it here as others might enjoy it also.

The Zen Master – Shunryn Suzuki (1905-1971) said ‘‘there is no set path for us. Moment after moment we have to find our own way. Some idea of perfection set by someone else is not the true way for us. Each of us must make our own way – and when we do, that will express the universal way. This is the mystery. When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything. The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything. The search for our essential self is life’s mission and only resting place.”

Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday night - Home alone and it's OK

Last weekend my sister's boyfriend chose to have a drunken rant at me for being wallowing and self pitying, prompted by me breaking a glass and being over apologetic.

I didn't recognise myself at all in the words coming from his mouth. Yes, I have rough ride over the past few years, and I have sought support from those around me. However, I've done my best to keep my head up, keep smiling, laugh it off, and not take the 'woe is me' position. Maybe I have been self pitying, and just not realised it. Have I?

There are times in my life, when under pressure, that I have have exploded. I am ashamed and horrified by them. I remember that gut wrenching feeling of losing control, not understanding what was happening to me, almost seeing myself from the outside, and the proverbial red mist descending.

This was not one of them.

I don't feel like that any more. Facing my life head on has dismantled the fear and anger that was once a tight fist in my chest.

I listened calmly while he ranted, asked questions when I didn't understand what he was saying, cried a little and then asked a friend to call me a taxi. I crumbled when I was outside in the rain and let the tears flow.

Tonight, I tried quietly and politely to ask if we could clear the air. I asked gently without blame or accusation. He ran away in childish huff. I left the pub. I had no wish to spend an evening in someone's company who would't talk to me.

Weirdly, I was quite pleased and proud. No anger. No red mist. I let it go, even though I was upset. I said what I needed to, I can't do anything else now.

One day, one incident, or problem or challenge at a time, I am proving to myself that I am OK. I have sunk as low as I could go, and have risen again. All that fear and anger has dissolved.

The stroppy toddler can take responsibility for himself. I've done my best. And a glass of wine and skype chat with my best friend in Dubai will do as well as the evening I had planned.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Nearly November

Sometimes, when it's cold I sleep with woollen socks and a hot water bottle. Other times, I sleep in my smaller, cosier spare bedroom in the single bed. Every time, it is never as nice as having strong arms wrapped round me and a hairy belly against the small of my back.

The clocks  have changed. It is dark by 5.30pm. It is getting colder.

For the first time since last winter, I am wondering where I will sleep tonight.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The general synopsis at 0015

Often it takes a while to calm my busy brain and find sleep, even if i'm exhausted. In bed I listen Radio 4 and the World Service, concentrating on the words coming from the little radio alarm beside my bed enables me to focus and steer my thoughts away from my day.

The shipping forecast hypnotises me. My mind wanders round the map of the British Isles and its shipping areas, and I think of all those others listening on boats and ships from Iceland to Spain. These calmly delivered words have become a sort of nautical and meteoroligical meditation....

The general synopsis at midnight:

Low 600 miles west of ireland 985 expected 120 miles south of Iceland 993 by midday tomorrow.

The area forecasts for the next 24 hours:

Viking: Southeasterly 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 later, veering southwesterly 3 in southwest later. Moderate or rough. Rain. Moderate or good, occasionally poor.

North Utsire South Utsire: Northerly 3 veering southeasterly 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 later. moderate or rough. Rain. Good, becoming moderate or poor.


Forties Cromarty Forth Tyne Dogger: Southeasterly 5 to 7, veering southwesterly 4 except in northeast Forties. Slight or moderate. Rain. Moderate or poor.

Fisher: Variable 4 becoming easterly 5 to 7, veering southwesterly 4 later except in northeast. Slight or moderate. Rain. Moderate or good...........

and on into the night....





Monday, 26 October 2009

This is enough for now

I want to be happy, and right now, for the most part I am.

When I think of happiness, I do think of laughter, or joy, but mostly I think of contentment. I don't need to be joyous to appreciate what I have, and to be grateful for living my life well (I haven't always). Life, as we all know, is messy and complicated. Somewhere within all the difficult bits, and the moments that shine contentment has emerged.

After a week of music, friends, debate, being on the receiving end of a painful drunken rant, and some small achievements I can say that right here, right now on the cusp of a new week that I am content with the one that's passing. If that's happiness, it'll do for me. Simple pleasures, truthfulness and good company.

PS this is now a highly edited version of last night's witterings. I had a lovely evening at an exhibition launch and then an accoustic session accompanied by a generous helping of red wine. Noone should be allowed to be (mildly) drunk in charge of a blog!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Happy ever after?

Last night I received a marriage proposal.....

It's just a pity it came from an old friend/ex fling whose logic was thus;

We are attracted to one another, we know that that side of things would be fun

We are friends, and can laugh and talk and trust each other

There's not enough frisson for us to have been anything more than lovers in the past (we did try some dating earlier this year). However, if things don't work out with his current girlfriend, he reckons I'd do......he was being earnest.

Unsurprisingly, I declined.

Unsurprisingly, he was drunk. And this whole conversation was carried out by telephone while he ate pizza. Clearly romance isn't dead!

Today we laughed about it.

Friday, 23 October 2009

And again....

That red and purple was beginning to be a bit over-powering, so it's back to something calmer but still a little bleak. Perhaps my blog's appearance will follow my moods like some virtual chameleon?

I will try to continue to learn to tweak and add and all the rest. I love colours and stumbled on this site a while ago. There is a huge range of down loadable palettes, patterns - easy to use with hex and rgb codes, various down load options - but mostly I love love it because it's beautiful.

http://www.colourlovers.com/

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Trick or treat?

Last night an email hit my in-box that made me cringe.

An old friend is having a Halloween party. It'll be a fun evening with good people; no bullshit, no agendas, just simple straightforward giggling, conversation and so on. No pressure.

So, what's the problem? Fancy dress.

The last fancy dress party I went to was an ex's 40th. The location, format and company for the weekend were perfect. Problem was that the more he looked forward to the idea of dressing up, the more I felt awful. The Elvis costume was booked for him with much glee.

I was already nervous about the weekend as it would be the first time I would meet his family and many of his friends who live in different parts of the country. I offered to do the catering, which I enjoy, as a birthday present. Added worry, but also fun and something I could do for him.

The closer we got to it the more hideous I began to feel.

I wear clothes because I have to. I have a completely neutral view towards them and my body. They serve a function, and I do my best to look reasonable, but they hold no joy for me. I wear simple things and quirky jewellery (I love vintage beads more than anything). I'm not glamorous, but can be elegant. I never wear anything that makes me stand out from the crowd.

Fancy dress makes me feel awkward and shy and clumsy and fat and ugly and self conscious. It is not fun. I understand that some people think it is.

I tried not to say too much about as I didn't want to spoil his excitement and any minor comments were brushed off with 'you'll be fine' kind and conciliatory responses. I didn't tell him how sick I felt about it all.

When it came to it, I had a friend help me do my hair and I reluctantly got organised. I was running later than everyone else as the food took first priority. I wanted to run away. I delayed going into the hall. Got into ticked off for being slow and eventually emerged. I refused to be made a fuss of in thank you speeches, and luked in a corner. I didn't want anyone looking at me. Of course they were - 'Who's the girlfriend?' 'what's she like?'....

Horrible. I felt like an incompetent child and didn't behave as socially as usual. Typically I'm a great hostess, and I let myself down that night.

So, I have to face these demons all over again on the 31st or will I just make an excuse and not go? Will I go and not dress up – disrespectful and fun-spoiling? Will I put on a brave face, drink too much, smoke too much, hate every second?

These people are friends, they love me and accept me for who I am. Why can't I do the same?

Why can't I bring to bear the confident, creative, clever girl I am in my professional life to a world of devils tails and witches hats and cross dressing?

I will paint on a smile and endure.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A question

There are a millon sentimental quotations out there on the subject of regret (better to regret the things you have done than the things you haven't, better to have loved and lost etc.....). I wonder if people believe them, or if it's what we tell ourselves to dull the pain of loss or stupidity or moments of weakness?

I'm not sure I believe people who tell me they have no regrets.Who are they trying to convince, me or themselves?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Is there anybody out there?

I kind of underestimated the importance of spirituality to me in connecting with other people, and writing last night has reminded of its impact for me in relationships and attraction.


Of the encounters below, I've had two conversations on the subject – from completely different perspectives. One with a man who, in his early forties, has decided that after all he does believe in God, and hasn't quite decided what that means for him yet. He is open to exploration and acknowledges his views will grow and change.

The other was an adamant atheist. An atheist who was scornful about those who do hold religious views, have a faith or any kind of spirituality or curiosity. He's made his judgement, and believes himself to be correct and all others wrong. This was a huge turn off.

Until my parents became ill about five years ago, and caring responsibilities kicked in with full force, I did believe in God. I haven't ever rejected God, but instead found myself abandoned. That sense I had of a dialogue disappeared. I was upset by this, and sad that when I needed someone, something, anything to bring relief to my life that that solace and refuge had gone.

I'm not a great fan of religious dogma and I've always struggled with the church as a formal institution (although I do appreciate the community that it offers). Over the years I've explored my faith (or lack thereof), read and discussed the issue with many. I've engaged with it. I've listened and I've challenged my views. I respect the choices and beliefs of others. It is not for me to judge, which is why the staunch atheist's dismissals irritated me. It told me more about him as a person and his limited degree of empathy than many conversations might have.

The uncertain believer was open to listening, sharing, acknowledging and not judging, which in itself surprised me. I've known him for many years, ordinarily he's man of very strong views - politically and otherwise.

So, where do I stand on all this now? I would loosely describe myself as Christian Humanist.....it's the closest I can get to something that makes sense. But, labels are only labels.

A sense of spirituality exits for me, in that I do think about these things and I'm overawed by moments in life that go beyond and by beauty in its many shapes. These moments, however, are often very ordinary.

If spirituality is a journey of understanding, seeking wisdom, value and hope, looking harder and deeper and acknowledging that there is more than the individual, then it is important to me and the connections that I make.

The 'Christian' simply acknowledges the faith that I once had and the cultural paradigm I grew up in. I also think Jesus seems like he was a good guy, divine or otherwise. As a friend puts it 'Jesus was a social worker'. I like that.

Humanism makes sense to me, although I'm agnostic rather than atheist. It is postive and inclusive, seeking out meaning, purpose and takes responsibility for the common good. Weirdly, I quite like going to church. I like the quiet meditative moments, beautiful buildings and the singing.

So, I guess I'm open to sharing my life with people of all views,as long they respect mine, but not those who belittle. Bigots – it seems atheists can be as closed as any religious fundamentalist - are not welcome in my life. That particular atheist would be shocked to learn that's how he appears.

Anagrams and physics

Attraction is like magnets, not like glue. It can't stick people together, it draws us in and can be pulled apart. Without it there is only friendship. This states that the obvious, but sometimes I need to remind myself.

There have been men in my life where lust has led us to one another, but has been insufficient to make some greater intimacy grow. Horse before cart. Over the years I've experienced lust, and tried naively to create the desire to know someone better where intimacy couldn't exist, hoping lust would become more than than sex. I've given in to it also, acknowledging that is all it is, and enjoying its fruits without guilt or expectation.

It amuses me that 'lust' is an anagram of 'slut'....

For me, lust is not attraction. It is the cheap substitute which often blinds and confuses, unless taken at face value.

However, this year has seen me face the opposite problem. I've been back on the dating scene again, enduring awkward coffees and fun times.

There are three men worth noting, weirdly beginning on the first of January and setting the scene for a different kind of year.

They have been creative, intelligent, amusing and intense encounters. A scientist, photographer and a musician. Each of them I have wanted to be more than they became. On paper, wonderful men who should have captured my heart, mind and body. But, that spark hasn't been there. That sense that even though you're not sure what is, you want to know more. That undefinable thing that makes you crave knowledge of another human being, physically and mentally. I have wished, and wished and wished for it to appear and all I have found is companionship or sex.

That spark has emerged with men who I haven't been sexually drawn to in the first instance, but something....something has made me seek out more. And that has grown into a physical desire that was invisible at first meeting. Not this year.

It has confused me. I was beginning to wonder if I wasn't seeing something, was there something about me that couldn't play this game? That, because of my past and its weakening hold over me, only dangerous or needy men would ever be attractive? Hearing my therapist's voice in my head, I have tried to be patient, give it/them a chance. I eventually realised I was leading two of them on out of a selfish want for something that could not be.

It has deepened my belief that I need to feel that spark of potential to desire wholly - physically, mentally, spiritually and in compromising, loving friendship – for me to work past the first tentative steps and roller-coaster early months.

The score sheet?

Lust 1
Friendship 1
History books 1
Spark 0

I'm turning into Bridget Jones again. Gag me if it gets worse. Really, do feel free....

Friday, 16 October 2009

Yoga isn't enough

It's Friday night and I'm home alone, well, apart from my mother's dog. I have a cold and a chest infection and this week has been a write off. All I want to do is hibernate. I'm not sick sick. Just not well.

I work from home and could so easily not leave my flat or see another human being from one day to the next. I make myself go out, do things, play fiddle in a pub session, have lunchtime coffees.
Today has been beautiful, bright and cold and the dog forces me to go out. We walk, I need this. I could so easily have gone nowhere, done nothing. At least being ill has given me an excuse this week not to feel guilty about wallowing.

I need to develop a better routine, or this could become all too tempting.

Fortunately, being ill has strengthened my conviction that I need to get back to gym. I'm not a sporty person but I fell in love it, much to my surprise when I started exercising seriously for the first time about five years ago.

Sweating out my frustration and stress was something I loved. I loved what it did to my body too. Now everything feels too soft. I need to get some of my power back. I want to be stronger, fitter, more able. I want that time to switch off my ever racing mind and sweat it all out. I want to cede control to a bossy instructor.

I am competitive enough that I will work hard.

I want to regain command of my physical self. I can do something about that.

Will I?

Humph!

I'm not a skilled template tweaker, and somehow, somewhere I managed to fuck up my other one in trying to move the site meter (it's saved somewhere, but where?). I liked the photo at the top, even if the rest left much to be desired. So, until I fix it or find an alternative, this passionate and somewhat violent red will have to suffice. To be avoided by those with hangovers I suspect.

One day I'm going to figure out all this techy stuff. Who needs Latin, when there's Html to be learned? I don't suppose the poetry's so good though!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Deaf Ears

I don't need to have the last word. I don't need to be right or wrong. I just want to be understood. I sometimes wonder if I'm speaking a different language. I am trying to stop editing my words so that I do not offend, or upset, or challenge losing my voice along the way. I am trying to be truthful.

My mother has spent my life telling me that 'if I say black is white, black is white'. Any attempt at putting across another opinion or asking her to see someone else's view met with that helpful remark. I learned that it was her way or no way at all.

I didn't shut up, I kept fighting, kept trying to be heard, kept getting shot down. I was relived when I left home. I was tired of trying. Tired of fighting. Tired of not being heard. I learned to save my energy for the battles I could fight and hid the rest.

In all those years, I don't know I ever told my mother about the name calling, and the like. I remember being told about sticks, and stones....' Perhaps I did try. I know I stopped telling her things. A recent conversation has shown she hasn't got any idea of quite how much I put up with, and probably never will.

Any argument or discussion where I feel I am not being understood still stirs up that urge to fight back and be acknowledged in some way. I am thirteen again.

If someone tells me 'there's nothing else to say' or 'let's leave it there' or 'let's agree to disagree' or, or, or.....

It lights an old touch paper. These words translate in my head as 'your views or feelings are unimportant, I don't care, I don't want to know what you think, I don't respect you, I don't love you'.

I fight back harder than I should because I am thirteen again, not thirty something, and I am trying to be heard. All I want is for someone to ask me 'what do you think?' or 'I don't understand, why don't you tell me?'. Is that so much to ask? Perhaps it my responsibility to be more eloquent.

But am I thirteen again, and hurt, and scared of everything slipping through my fingers. I fight back in a fit of unreasonable proportion. Or, I am silent. Choosing my battles. Or, I am silent. Scared of my vulnerability.

She still doesn't listen.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sleepless

I woke in the middle of the night with a start. A noise had disturbed me. Was it the front door, a window? Someone in the house? I gave myself a fright. Panic.

I'm sure it was just my mobile phone battery dying, reminding me to plug it in. Another lost hour of sleep.


Sometimes I hate living on my own. I light candles and switch on the TV or radio in order that there is something living and bright and noisy.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

An introduction

Some time ago I explained my reasons for writing here. My blog is anonymous to all, apart from the friend who's been mentioned here previously. It is a space for thoughts I have nowhere else to put or struggle to say out loud. It is a diary of sorts and a world apart from reality.

Somewhere along the lines I became a person who performed for those around me. I learned to conform to expectations, learned to please, and hid myself away. I felt like a fraud.

After crumbling last year, I started counselling to help me sort through the quagmire of broken bits. I could never have anticipated the journey that process began. It was a journey that started with external influences on my life, and then turned inwards. Through turning inwards, I am beginning to learn to share what I found there. I'm learning to give a bit of myself, take risks with my emotions and let people see the 'weak' version of me. The two selves may emerge one day as a whole, mask removed and integrity in place. I hope so. I'm trying.

A conversation has made me want to share a little of the external self here too, and give this a context.

In real life I work in the not for profit sector. I am privileged to work in a world of passionate and committed people who really do believe they can change the world bit by bit (so do I).

I am an outspoken, clever, compassionate girl with good friends. I am active and busy. I volunteer. I play the fiddle. I have fun and interesting times.

All sounds a bit conceited. The next bit? Sentimental, trite perhaps.

But, I'm a bit like a three legged dog. I live life and pursue my career reasonably well, but I often stumble. I am inhibited by the part of me that is more present in these pages than the everyday me. They are both real and true, but quite different. The scared, vulnerable, hurt me is here without the fa├žade.

Not embracing the blogging 'me' has caused me to damage many things. I am a procrastinator as I'm scared of success/failure. I argue over things that are seemingly insignificant because a button has been pushed by someone to whom it is invisible and fires up things in me that are terrified. I run from emotional intimacy because I'm scared that if someone truly knows me they will dislike what's on the inside and on, and on, and on....

I am doing the best I can to reconcile the two. I will get there. I could not continue as I was. So, some days are good, some days are bad, sometimes I just want to record a moment in my day. For years I have told everyone what I thought, not how I feel. It is time for this to change. These pages are part of my journey.

I neither need nor seek pity or praise, just somewhere to explore.

One day, I would like to learn to write.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tomorrow

Yesterday was not a good day. I was distracted and exhasted. Today is a flat, non day. Tomorrow I will do better.

Too much noise

I'm never sure what I should do with so many of my thoughts. Where should I put them? Where do they come from? I just sometimes want some peace from my own head. I just want to feel safe. And loved. And calm. Just a little bit of quiet.

I don't trust many of those thoughts. I have sabotaged myself so often that I worry about which I should ignore and which I should listen to. In many ways I know myself well, and sometimes I think I don't know myself at all.

Once a thought plants itself and grows roots, I can't let it go. Each day or week something gets stuck in my head that dominates all other thinking and gets in the way. I would like to be able to choose. Do we all do this? I don't know. I don't like it.

Today I am distracted, absent. The thundercloud is present and I have behaved like a bitch.

I went for coffee with a man who I had a reasonably successful date with a few weeks ago, but had decided I didn't want to see again. We had an evening of interesting discussion, and of talking music, and laughing a little. He is intelligent, tall and creative but something about him was missing. I wasn't attracted to him. I am attracted to his beautiful photography, not to the man.

I did the decent thing and told him afterwards that I didn't think there was enough of a 'spark' for me. The dater's euphemism for 'I don't fancy you'. He had emailed telling me how wonderful I was. It made me uneasy. A couple of weeks passed and, bravely or stupidly, he asked me out again. I agreed to see him because I felt bad. A very poor reason for going on a date. I'm supposed to be focussing on what's good for me, on emotional integrity in my actions, and learning not to do things because they are what other people want. This situation is one where I've not been so successful. Self sacrifice in action. Marvellous.

Today was the day. I didn't want to go, because I knew it might mean having to through all the polite declining all over again. Last night I had some friends round for dinner, so this morning I was tired, fuzzy headed and not much in the mood for being beguiling, witty or even just a little attentive to a near stranger.

I struggled to make any kind of reasonable conversation, he made an effort. I apologised for being on bad from at the start. Less than an hour in I had to make my excuses and leave. He deserved better. He deserved someone to make an effort for him.

Do I now email and apologise for being useless and agree to see him again or do I just let it go? Is this now the thought that will occupy me for the next few days?

It seems that my scribblings of late have been quite focussed on men, and my questions about relationships. I trust this phase will pass as I don't want this place to become some low rent, Bridget Jones style rambling about the woes of a single girl. If it does, shoot me. There are enough women despairing of their single lives and spewing forth on the subject already.

I am lodger free for the first time in six months, and feeling weird about being home alone again. I should be excited about being able to be naked, play the fiddle, make mess, or live tidily, bathe endlessly, instead I am a little jumpy.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Smiling?

I am confused by anyone who is enthusiastic about me, or tells me I am beautiful, or tells me I 'can have anyone I want'. How can I respect someone who holds these thoughts? I cannot believe them to be true, I struggle to respect someone whose opinions are so strange. So I seek out, unknowingly, men whose feelings reflect my own. Any man who feels the way I do about myself can never love me. I sabotage my connections with those whose spirits otherwise could make me sing.

I have a photograph of myself aged about six or so. I am untidy. Someone has tried to sort my hair out, straighten my school tie, make me acceptable. I am trying to smile whilst covering my squint brown first teeth, they have no enamel. I cannot close my mouth properly. I cannot smile properly. It is a sort of awkward grimace instead. This picture makes me weep. I pity the little girl who cannot smile like everyone else. She is not beautiful, or cute. She is loved. And lost. She knows she is not the same as the rest. We are none of us the same though. I hate the lie of our society that celebrates sameness, and punishes those of whose faces do not fit.

My father, when he could still speak, would tell me I was beautiful. I never believed him, but appreciated the gesture.

Logic dictates that I am not fat, nor ugly, nor unacceptable. That I am fine, perhaps even attractive in some ways. My personality is built on rising above the bullying and shame. Have I become externally invincible, impenetrable? Whilst all the while still trying to hide my fear and ugliness. The person I have grown into is capable and independent and worth knowing, but inside I am still the little girl staring back through the years.

Some days I accept myself, even have moments of pride. Today is not one of them.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Friends indeed

The strange gift that comes with having crumbled is that one becomes far more aware of the signs in others, and you recognise those who have come through the other side.


I have a very good friend who is coming apart at the seams. Sadly, in the process she is alienating all of the people who could and have supported her this far. They only see the bad behaviour, the selfish ramblings and cancellations. Three of us, thanks to bitter experience, see her differently.

She lives at the other end of the county, so talking seriously isn't easy. When I saw her last I did let her know I had been worried about her. She brushed it off, saying that our last meeting had just been on a bad day. End of conversation. I wonder what I would have done if a friend had suggested to me a year ago that I wasn't ok and that perhaps I needed support? I imagine I would have said that I was fine, just tired. I would have been a bit angry, and denied they were right. Brave face and proud.

I want to do something but am a bit lost. Watching her fall to pieces is hard and logic seems to have gone from her relationships with friends, family or otherwise. She is alienating those close to her. She does not see it. We have spent many hours trying to think of what to do or say. She is prone to exploding and blaming. She will not let us be the friends she needs.

Perhaps the only option is to stay present and be there to catch her when she finally falls. She will fall hard.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Restless nights

For one reason or other I'd kind of let this slip for a while, but sharing it has reminded me why I started out in the first place, and has got me thinking again. Odd how small conversations can lead into a chain of thoughts.

How many millions like me are there out there? How many blogs and the words that they contain? I am fascinated by what people choose to share anonymously, publiclay shout about or quietly record whether read or not. One thing I do know is that writing these things, any things, helps me focus on the 'now'. I have, for a long time, been looking over my shoulder or wondering what's next. This at least means I turn to the present.

I am learning to enjoy and appreciate what I have, and reflect a little to recognise what's going on. Not always understanding why, but acknowledging nonetheless. It is a small and active thing. I am learning not too worry too much about tomorrow, but instead just slow down a little with fewer expectations and less concern about the views or actions of others. There is great joy in it.

Last night I dreamt about my father and my grandfather. Somewhere in the chaotic thoughts of a restless night my father was talking, walking, smiling, being a Dad. It has made me think of him as him, and not as he is now. I am glad that somewhere in the vestiges of my mind that these images and the sound of his voice are still with me. He is present still. For a moment or two, I do not need to grieve him and I had his company again.

Small steps and revelations

Last night I did something that scared me, and something important. I let someone in the real world, a friend, read what is written here. It another small step towards letting the world see who I am, truly and not the facade that is so often presented, or the person who tries to please, placate, support or give people what they want. There is an honesty in it, and my words found acceptance and support – I think. Letting people see me as I am, exposed and vulnerable, terrifies me but each time it happens I am finding my way towards a more satisfying existence.

Sometimes I wonder why I do this, blog that is. Two reasons, I guess. Firstly, an outlet for thoughts I have nowhere else to put and, secondly, to remember. I can't bear to read the diaries of my youth. They are few though. I don't own a camera. So much of my life is unrecorded and I have either forgotten how I got from one place to the next, or I look back with the proverbial rose tinted glasses or with sadness. Those perceptions of my past have an unreality. I hope, one day, I will be able to read over these words and recognise things as they actually are now and not what I thought they were looking back from a different paradigm.

Hopefully I will see myself for who I am and what I've become, and remember those who have touched my life along the way. I am blessed that they are many in number, and include some very special people. I am blessed that I am loved. I need to remind myself of that in dark days and memories, and in the happy and sad times that come along. I am no longer ashamed of myself, and trust that openness and honesty will enable me to find the intimacy and companionship I seek from friends, family and lovers. I want to give them something of me, as they allow me to see them. Small steps and revelations.

Friday, 4 September 2009

here I go again

back to clean slates. All changed. More to the point beginnings that I ended. Sad, but truer than than creating situations that can never be. At least I have found new friendships along the way.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Small things

Yesterday my father smiled. A rare and precious moment. Insigificant to anyone else, but a reminder that my Dad still exists somewhere, somehow within the shell of man whose Alzheimer's now controls his life. A reminder that the hospital visiting and sadness of watching his decline are worthwhile, that somehow, he is still there. He is still my Dad.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Perhaps?

Perhaps I am changing, perhaps I am learning? Perhaps not?

It is fair to say that I am utterly confused. I met man a few weeks ago who is sweet and kind and gentle. Everything I’d like a man to be. But it leaves me feeling very strange. I don’t know what to do with his affection and kindness. There is no challenge, no disaster on the horizon and I am left feeling completely at sea.

He is the things I would like, but I just don’t know how to work with these differences. I know what to do with a rogue, or an unattainable man, or a man who needs fixing. I also know that these will always fall to pieces. I set myself up for failure. This time I have set myself up for success and I don’t know what to do! But then again there is geography which could create disaster. As he falls towards me, I push back. I want him, but I don’t know how to be. Or do I simply like the idea of him?

He is talented, musical, clever, patient, ordinary. He is not handsome, but still he is attractive.

I do not want to lead him on, promising something or someone I don’t know how to be. I do not know why I have chosen another man who does not live where I do. I can speculate, but can’t pin it down. I can’t also breakdown my feelings, behaviour or confusion. Find its root. Recognise it. Challenge it. Do something, anything, different. Give him and me the chance to be something special.. There remains two constants. Firstly, that he feels like someone important. Secondly, that nagging question about long distance. I have been burned before because of it. Can I let myself just go wherever the road takes us and stop worrying about the consequences? I don’t know.

My lodger is staying another month. The extra cash is nice. Loss of my space, and fiddle playing, bathing, pottering, hostess-ing time is not. Is it worth it?

I am left grumpy, listless and lost with it all.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Finding freedom

I haven’t felt much like writing much these past few weeks. Maybe working full time again has just occupied enough of brain instead. After a weekend in Cumbria, and now typing from the west highlands I’m in reflective place again. So here we go…

It’s been a strange few weeks. An encounter with ex, that should never have happened, but weirdly I’m ok about it. Perhaps we have proven that he and I will never have what we both wanted from one another and can never go back.

However, a had a significant moment of revelation about the effect counselling has had on my life. Not only my ability to let the ex thing go, but in in translating feelings that would have once overwhelmed me. I was at a music festival watching a band amongst a crowd of folk. I turned round to realise my companion had disappeared without a word. Another, had gone for wander so I didn’t where she was either. I had a sudden rush of panic of being alone in this crowd. Ever since being mugged last year, crowds have freaked me out a little. I think they perhaps highlight my vulnerability and always need to know where my escape route is. I looked all over the marquee and couldn’t find either person. I had to get out I had to know where they were. I was scared - of what I don’t know - but there it was. I eventually found them. In previous times I would have confused this feeling of fear with being angry with my companion with having abandoned me. Instead, I was able to calmly explain to my friend, when asked, what was wrong. Had he simply let me know where he was going, and when he’d be back, I would have been fine. He wasn’t to know that I’d end feeling he way I did. I told him what had happened, and why the situation made feel like it did. For the rest of the weekend, he simply told me if he was going somewhere and when he’d be back and it was fine. A year ago I would have been angry with him. Perhaps not telling him, and telling myself that I was being silly, or perhaps been grumpy and let him know I was annoyed. The beauty of being able to simply express and understand my feelings is a new gift. Hard won, but wonderful, and let a situation pass so much more quickly. I finally feel like I’m free of my anger and confusion and fear of my irrational behaviour I have now have a language for it.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Paddling faster

That sense of calm is somehow disappearing. It's there, but not in such great strength. I am struggling without time for me in my week, and without time dedicated to focussing on making my life better. I am procrastinating and struggling to write, which in turn leaves me no outlet. I guess I'm scared of facing some stuff head on, on my own and it's freaking me out a bit.

Despite exercise which ususally clears the cobwebs sufficiently, my head seems to be stuffed full of things I don't want to think about, or that aren't good for me. I'd love to have the ability to tackle life one step at a time, instead I rush around doing small bits of everything and then not finishing anything and worrying about it all. Not good. I wish I was one of these delightfully systematic people! Then again, life would certainly be less interesting.

What steps next? How do get myself back to a place where I can breathe?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Comfort eating is rubbish!

I don't know if it's even comfort, but today I have consumed everything I shouldn't polished off with a nice glass of wine. I am calmer than i have ever been and still one small chain of thoughts sends me for the fridge. Hopeless! I should alarm it! Maybe I'll just blame PMS, or not enough sleep, or something. It's a strange and frustrating thing.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Calm

Maybe it's the sunshine, or maybe it's me, but depsite a world of things that need to be done I'm just feeling calm. Something i'm not quite used to....I certainly can't blame it on the yoga as this morning's attempt saw me nearly binning a temperatmental DVD. Instead of getting annoyed, I just thought 'Fine, wehre's one that works...'. Very odd indeed. Not complaining either!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A year...

to the day that my newphew was in hospital having life saving and devastating heart surgery; a year less a day since I was visiting two parents in two different hospitals both having had accidents because of other illnesses; a year less two days since I split up with my last serious ex. All that was important to me was vulnerable, and so was I.

A year later, I'm not glad any of those things happened but they were the catalyst for me to go places I never thought I could, starting a chain of events that have left me far better. It has been a strange and incredible year. Today I must at least acknowledge those changes and achievements.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Endings

I've been scribbling here on and off for a little while, but have never said anything of why. For the past seven months or so I've been seeing a counsellor. It all started after a series of hideous events that left me completely exhausted and lost. I hit a dangerous low.

I'm not sure what made me pick up the phone, but I knew I needed help. I had nowhere to turn, and things had gone too far to get myself back on track alone. I googled counselling in my work post code area, found the nearest centre and called it. No research, no idea of what I was looking for. Within hours I had an appointment arranged, and I couldn't let myself turn back.

I have found the process extremely painful and liberating, but it has also enabled me to write. I found that I couldn't often say what I need to immediately. After a particularly difficult lunchtime session, I got back to work upset, in tears, and needed to let some of it out so I started typing. My counsellor has received thousands and thousands of words from me since. Writing it all allows me to reflect, and give a voice to things I've struggled to say out loud.

Today that process came to an end. My last session, for the time being anyway.

I'm sitting here in tears wondering where there is for my words now. And I guess that's why this space was created. It as been the hardest and most important thing I've ever done. I'm very grateful for the generosity and understanding of a very patient and intelligent man who knows more about the real me than virtually anyone else. I guess it's time for that to change and for me to bring all that I have learnt into the real world, find my voice and my place. I am sad and proud. I will miss that space in my week, and I hope the blog that was created to keep my words going outwards will flourish instead.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Change...

is a strange thing that sneaks up on you. Intially we resist it when we see it coming, even if we wish for it. We end up wishing it were a different kind of change. Then we forget it's happening and we go along with it. Get used to it. Forget about it, get on with living working or whatever. Then, we remember there was someting afoot a while ago, what was it? We remeber it was change and we were scared, or excited, or confused, or resistant, or optimistic, or, or, or...

Looking back at recent change is, in my current circmstances, hugely cathartic. I've come along way in the short period of a year. I'm shocked and proud of it. I've had a lot of help. Help I had to seek out because I knew I couldn't chnage my circumstances without it. But that in itself, is something I'm really proud of. Over the years I've tried to ask for help and failed. Maybe i wasn't specific enough, or too scared to actually let those around me know how I was feeling. I don't know. This time I succeeded.

Anyway, the reality of change has sneaked up on me. Crept into my life while I was busy focussing on getting through what was in front of me, day by day. Today I looked backwards with new eyes and I was proud. I have come a long way, and I have a long way to go. At least now I know I have it in me to let that change begin with me.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

More of the past



Here is a woman I didn't know. She was my great grandmother and I bear her name. My mother thinks we look alike. I can't judge. There seem to be many mysteries in the communal past of our family, are they actually secrets, or is it just that we can never know everything? I am sometimes shocked by words that come out of my mouth. Shocked because they are not my words, they are my mother's. I, like a parrot, occasionally find myself speaking phrases, commands, opinions that are not my own. How many of these came from her mother, and her mother's mother? Are there family phrases and opinions that still remain which came from the woman in this photo? Words distilled down the years gaining strength or becoming weaker in an intergenerational game of chinese whispers.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Is it...

...perhaps that I need to do something in order to think nothing and merely feel? Is this stating the obvious?

Music and yoga

What is it in music that enables us to be more alive whilst at the same time completely switching off? Today has been a challenging day. I was confronted with questions about things I couldn't grasp, no matter how hard I tried. It's all a bit like being back at school. Sitting in the physics classroom, understanding everything that's going on until I get home take out my notes, attempt to do my homework and realise that none of it makes any sense. I got at the time, whilst I was in the room, but that understanding failed to become part of me.

No matter how I'm feeling my fiddle lifts into a different space. Completely engaged in something and with other people but somehow totally switched off. Concentration and listening blocking out any other thoughts. It leaves me feeling calm, even after a busy session of fast and furious tunes.

Exercise is the only other thing that seems to do this for me. Daft that I can be lifting weights, or furiously buzzing round in an aerobics class, surrounded by loud music, lots of other people and a shouting instructor and inside I am completely focused and calm. What is it about these things that achieves this? Are we all the same? I don't know.

Today has been topped and tailed by yoga and fiddle playing and I am calm, despite what confronted me in the middle.

A little creativity...

I have finally figured out how to tweak the appearance of my Blog! Who knows if it'll stay this way for long. Playing with it could be fun, and frustrating. Help courtesy of some plain English at http://www.bloggerbuster.com/2008/01/cheats-guide-to-customising-blogger.html. Worth a look.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Deja vu?

I returned to the city I grew up in two and half years ago to help care for my parents. My father is now permanently in hosptial and my mother is coping better on her own and is in remission for now. So, for the first time since I've returned I'm finally finding the space and time to get to know this place again.

I've always spent a lot of time here, weekend visits, uni holidays and so on. But I've seen the city through the eyes of my young self. Somewhere I was returning to, looking backwards at. I'm quite suddenly beginning to look forwards at these old familiar places and take what I want from them. Reshaping the paradigm. Finding a new community in familiar places and looking in the corners I'd never stopped an explored before. I have new eyes.

I will do my best to continue this journey and delve below the surface of the city I thought I knew, and only now realise how little of it I have discovered. It is an odd thing seeing the same things with a different view. I hope it is a journey I will enjoy. It can only be embraced with an open mind and in allowing myself to peel away the layers of years to discover its reality.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A different kind of working

I love that all spaces are now my office, and that there seems to be a whole world of people with their laptops and mobiles, drinking coffee and working in nice places. Today the an arts centre cafe, tomorrow a local cafe 'co working' with other freelance/job seeking friends, tomorrow who knows. Home maybe. I wonder what these folk are up to. What brings them here, to this place, alone, what's going on in their heads?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Re reading the past continued

Today I found the letters to me from the one man I could have, should have, spent my life with. A kind, generous, funny bear of a man who adored me and I him. Nine years have passed since we parted. I left him. I was too young, or so I thought, at twenty five to settle down. My career was just getting going, I had finally found my feet in the world, was trying to make friends and a new life. Somehow there didn't seem to be enough space for moving in, making a home together, settling down, when I felt my adventure had just begun. I haven't thought of him for a long time and I am surprised by the sadness I now find in me reading his letters, cards, so on. We were in love, and I let that precious gift go. Am I looking back with rose tinted glasses? Perhaps. But it is nice to dream of happy times and old adventures.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Re reading the past

Thinking about the past is an odd thing. I’ve spent the afternoon clearing out a suitcase full of stuff that I moved here with two years ago and have never opened. Lots of letters. I re read many of them. Some lovely, some fun, some frustrating and some upsetting.

I read all the letters my grandpa sent me whilst I was a boarding school for sixth form. I don’t think I’ve read then since. It was lovely to think of him and his struggles with typewriter ribbons and the like! He the wrote the last one days before he died. He was a wonderful man and I still miss him. It has made me wonder if he’d be proud of the person I have become. I hope so. He would be hugely proud of my professional life, and he’d probably adore that I continue to play his fiddle, even though I have a better one, it is his and I love it. Music was his gift to me. He would be disappointed in some of my bad behaviour. He would be sad hat I don’t have a family of my own, but he would be sad for me, rather than being sad that I hadn’t produced great grand kids if that makes sense. He would be sad that my faith has disappeared. He was so pleased when I was confirmed, and wrote to me of the importance of it. He would be glad that I am home and helping my parents while they need it. He was a great friend and a bit of a confidant, something I have lacked with my parents. He would tell me I am like my mother.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Brief & Random

Bit of an odd one, a small moment of no particular signifcance but important to me in an odd way....I was aware of what I was doing as I did something I never do;

Yesterday I was crossing the the road when I saw a penny lying on the road. I am not a superstitious person, but I like the whole lucky penny thing. It appeals to me in its simplicity, I guess.

Anyway, I always do one of two things when I see a penny lying on the ground;

1. Pick up and give it to somebody else

or

2. Leave it there and think 'someone else needs that more than me'.

Yesterday, I picked it up, put it my pocket and kept it. Maybe it is my turn for some luck? Maybe I am changing? It seems I am learning to be selfish after all.

Waiting....

Ok, the elation of having a new world at my feet has somewhat subsided in face of having to sort out the details of it all. Procedures, confidentiality and secrets restrain me. I can't share with those whose company in which I spend my days. I want to end my discomfort and thiers but until the detail has been determined, I am bound.

I want to share my anticipation of the future and the sadness of losing those who have helped me craft and shape my skills, experience, and passions. I feel like I am betraying those memories by hiding behind procedures. There is no alternative. I want to let the words out, and thank them for all that they have given me of their knowledge and friendship and support. I must try to patient and dignified.

Monday, 23 March 2009

A whole new life!

Well, lists temporarily suspended as I've spent the past week ironing out the details of an unexpected redundancy situation. I know it was always a possibility, but didn't anticipate it in reality. The job and organisation I've loved for four years and I are parting company. I t thought I would be sad, worried, panicked...in fact I'm elated! I can't quite explain it. I have the excitement of a whole new world at my feet, enough to keep me going for the next six months while I explore all the options available.

After a difficult year, suddenly I am free. I am being graceful, integrity intact, walking away with head held high and and no idea what's coming next....I am excited!

Monday, 16 March 2009

No list this week past as i've been on holiday (well, off work at least). I have been visiting one of my very best friends who lives in the middle east, and has been in Scotland for a few days. So good to see her, and another old friend. Lots of fun but also good and meaningful conversation. There's something about reminding yourself of the good times, that reassures for the future.

This week I'm feeling just a bit unfocossued and generally like i'm treading water. Pinning down the stuff for me, for good this week is looking quite difficult. One thing everyday seems like an awfully big ask right now! Got to try anyway;

Monday - clear desk at home
Tuesday - fiddle
Wednesday - yoga
Thursday - working day & eve, so suspect it's not an option to be nice to myself today although even a nice coffee for the journey would count I guess
Friday - drinks with friends
Saturday - tbc
Sunday - tbc

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Putting it off

Why do people procrastinate? Laziness, fear, uncertainty? I can understand that putting off the big things is easy to do. Huge tasks can seem insurmountable unless broken into small steps, but what excuse for the small stuff? What holds me back? Why don't I just pick up the phone, pay the bill, load the diswasher? I want to, but yet my ability to avoid often small and mundane things amazes me. Why do it? Why not just get up and get on with.....Is blogging simply another distraction from reality?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Hmmmm.....

I'm new to this world of the blog. I've read a few others regularly, dipped into many and skimmed hundreds. I love that there's no editor other than ourselves but find myself frequently disappointed in over sentimentality of quite a numer. I am scared of my blog becoming that, lacking humour or insight and being over indulgent. I will continue to read others out there and learn what I can from the most human of them. With a whole weird and wonderful world of the internet out there where does girl begin?

I'm also very curious to know what the average blogger's like....male, female, anonymous or open, motivations for being here and so on.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Another week

Being kind to myself is not easy, not something I've ever learned to do. I was taught to put others before myself and it has damaged my ability to see what I need. I must accept that I am no use to anyone else unless I am ok. My reserves have run dry, years giving and of trying to be the good sister, friend and colleague have left little of me.

I now have to honour myself, learn to love me and be kind to me. Selfish? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Difficult? Yes.

This week's list looks something like this;

Tuesday - fiddle class
Wednesday - see dad in hospital on my own
Thursday - Yoga
Friday - Old friend and his new partner coming to stay
Saturday - Lake district
Sunday - more of the same
Monday - catch up with me, my home ad maybe my finances

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lists for the better

I have been challenged to have more fun, to do things for me, at least one thing every day. Unless I write it down, think about, make it real, i'll never do it.....all sugestions welcome

I'm hoping this week looks something like this;

Tuesday - fiddle class
Wednesday - leave work early & yoga
Thursday - more yoga, some pampering perhaps?
Friday - DRink with Uni freind
Saturday - .......more yoga and what else?
Sunday - make a coffee plan

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A new beginning

After years of putting other people first, I am learning to look after me. Sounds daft, perhaps? ‘Selfish’ a word we - I - generally view as negative. In reality unless we can look after ourselves we are no use to anyone else. Now in my mid thirties, I finally concede! I'm sharing my thoughts and feelings as an audience focuses my words. When I write for me, explanation, clarity and iteration are superfluous. Will anyone read? who knows?! Knowing someone might is enough, maybe somewhere along the road I'll find others willing to share with me. To those of you who do, thank you! The beginning of a new journey.