The spaces in between...

posted on: Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Here's something frustrating for me: the pain is back. For ages; years really, I had jaw and teeth pain. And then it stopped. I congratulated myself on having changed my entire life around and finally managed the correct combination of treatment options to achieve this. I remarked how amazing it was to be free of it and how wasn't it all just a product of the lifestyle I had previously chosen? (Working mother, corporate climbing, too much, ALL the time). I felt I had a lucky escape from a life of chronic pain. Then, without warning or reason, this summer, the pain came back. Bummer.

Now, a few months down the line, things are the same. Despite everything I have learned about this pain and how up-close-and-personal I was to it, its return has thrown me completely. Its effect far-reaching. It makes me wonder whether life has a way of giving us challenges and then spaces in between where the challenges are conquered. I wish I had the faith and humility to see that everything is temporary and this too shall pass. But of course my inquisitive mind is asking 'why?' and questioning everything I did and am doing to ascertain the cause and cure.

Maybe sometimes the body is just not a happy camper? But I regard my peers, some of whom have no pain and others who have lots and consider how strange it is that we live this way. Part of living with pain, at least for me, is the fact that so much of the cause is this modern existence we favour. Computer use, poor posture, driving for hours a day, not enough muscle movement. Processed foods, not drinking enough water. Watching the news. (Seriously? Utterly depressing at every news item). Money. Work. BUILDERS! I need to make a life study in looking onwards and upwards! Yet so many of these things are hard to change, at least in the short term. Unless we completely check out and decide to spend our time paddle-boarding the Amazon or climbing Kilimanjaro!

The irony is, with the type of pain I suffer with, being an intense thinker can make it worse! Serious people get serious pain. Hah. Really gotta look on the bright side...

Meanwhile I revert back to the Alexander Technique lessons and the yoga. I try not to think too much about it. I instead look at new clothes and new friends and try to float past it all. Better when the sun shines or when I get a really good night's sleep or when I laugh with old buddies who make me forget all about it. Or smile as I drive my children to school and my son, when learning it is the 1st October, started planning what his Christmas morning will look like. '6am start, make a cappuccino (whaat?! I think he means warm, frothy milk drink), admire my wrapped presents, put Christmas cartoons on TV and wait for everyone else to wake up.' Really? Oh to nine years old and that carefree!

I wrangle a lot with the need to balance lightness and happiness in this writing space and with being honest about what is happening in my life. Always, truth wins over as that is how life goes. So for, I shall try to channel this sentiment:

...for Simone...

Lessons in how to be...

posted on: Sunday, 28 September 2014

Can I just say a few things about my Mum?

She's Danish and moved here when she was something like 19, maybe 20, married my Dad and she never went back. In her house she has a Saarinen table and Bertoia chairs; she was achingly cool in her design choices even before design was cool. She is unflappable. She can tell if I am OK or not from the word 'hello' when I call her on the phone (daily). She keeps old, old, good quality friendships with a handful of very inspiring women whom I came to know when growing up. She is one of those amazing benefactor Aunts who has hosted scores of Danish cousins over the years. Her house is effortlessly undone but done at the same time. She is the single biggest influence in my life; still. She doesn't eat chicken and loathes feathers, but, obscurely is still willing to cook duck for our Danish Christmas dinner. She would do anything for my brother and I. Still. If ever I have to work out what the right thing is to do, the motherly thing; I look to her. She works hard but stays calm. She is a bastion of strength and dignity. I love her so much it makes my heart ache. She's open-minded and reacts at nothing - no matter how bad you think you've been - she sees the good. This came in very handy when I was 15.

I have learnt so much from my Mum, she is the single coolest person I know.

She and I went to see the film 'Pride'. To a matinee too. I really enjoyed the film, not least because of it's 1980's backdrop and soundtrack (I heart the 80's) that reminded me so much of being 11 or 12 years old and just becoming aware of the world, circa 1985. I recall the miner's strike and listening to the news wondering what on earth was happening what I considered to be far-off places (like Wales!) in my own country.

The film is about gay rights and there is a scene where a mother is trying to persuade her son not to be gay; as if pointing out the massive downside of something so elemental will change his whole being. I found it absolutely heartbreaking to watch, not least because whilst I could never imagine my own mother trying to talk me out of something that was inherently 'me' but also because in terms of my own parenting style, I recognised that my instinct might be to do the opposite. When parenting I notice that my need to have my children behave/be/act a certain way can (I am ashamed to say) outweigh my need to allow them to be themselves. It's like modern perfectionism run amok; one only needs to log onto Facebook and see every ones 'perfect' life to understand what I mean by 'modern perfectionism'. The good news is that I can see it, stop it and revert to how it should be and how it was for me. Having a mother who accepts, even when it is not what she wants or perceives as right. Very fine balance.

I also felt shamed that as recently as the 80's, such prejudice existed towards gays, in much the same way as when I watched 'The Help' and saw that in my parent's generation there was such prejudice against blacks. What will be our modern equivalent in 20 years' time? How asylum seekers are treated now? I veer into political territory here and that's not the intention, but I see only what matters is how we parent young minds and whether we show the way and accept anyone that is 'other', whatever 'other' means.

Meanwhile one mistake my Mum did make was getting rid of her awe-inspiring 1980's wardrobe! She had chocolate brown, velvet Jordache flares, patent red stiletto sandals that looked like they should have featured in a 'Roxy Music' video. Ironic silk sailor blouses. Fur-lined collars. Oh I loved her clothes. Now, every time I have a wardrobe clear-out, it fails because I keep items that Boo might want she is older and wants to recall 2014. My Mum's influence.

Hello darkness, my old friend...

posted on: Thursday, 25 September 2014

And so here we are; Thursday evening, getting dark. Husband is at rugby training (yea, I know, surely there comes a point where you really should stop that shenanigans) and I have cooked Swedish meatballs. Autumnal curry sauce as per my Scandinavian Cookbook. Today, despite my internal protestations that I needed no new clothes all year, I in fact went back on my word and bought something (three things). Actually, in addition what I really think is that there is the perfect pair of winter boots out there for me. I make this assertion every year, without fail. The perfect pair - honestly, just out there waiting to be discovered. I am a google ads dream.

Meanwhile, this week has been spent in my normal contemplation. My husband, who is bizarrely full of wisdom when he feels like it, remarked to me that I was looking for the answer to a question that did not need to be asked. An existential point if ever I heard one? I am still reeling around and around trying to come to terms with being a housewife. I take my hat off to the scores of stay-at-home-mums (SAHM's as they are referred to) who have done this for years. When I was dropping my toddler(s) at nursery, circa 2007, and skipping off to work in heels, enjoying a latte at 11am, these SAHMs were doing the REAL work. I now have the curious middle-ground of being at home, but my kids are at school. Some days the hours stretch out and I wonder: what should I do all day??!! I have come to the conclusion that the possibilities are: i) train my body until I am honed to a level of fitness that would enable me to enter an Iron man context (Iron-woman?), ii) watch TV, iii) get a job, iv) do lunches or v) all of the above?

I am at a loss.

Enlighten me. What is it that one should do when one has time on ones hands?

I have considered planting a herb garden (whimsical), going to the cinema in the day time (luxurious but guilt-ridden), cleaning my house within an inch of its life (dull). Museums and matinees?

I know I have posed this question before. It is a perennial.

Ironically, there is this ENORMOUS house building project happening in my midst and I just know that suddenly there is going to be a requirement for sourcing the perfect tap/door knob/light fitting and I will find myself behind the game. I have come to the conclusion that I work best under time pressure. Until it's urgent, I don't do it.

In amongst these musings, I recall that summer is slipping away now and I get that yearning again to go somewhere exciting and new. I was there a mere two months ago, walking down Floridian beaches looking at millionaires row. Oh how times change! As winter draws in I conclude that this is me all over. Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got till it's gone?!


posted on: Monday, 22 September 2014

Each new season I tell myself I don't need any new clothes. Then the weather turns and I go into just one shop and I am awash with lust (I can find no other word to describe it: it is lust) for new items. The potential of a new season. It offers a distraction. Autumn is the worst for this. Partly due to our temperate climate and the knowledge that when it turns cold, it will stay that way for at least six months. But also due to the possibility of richer fabrics; woollens and heavy silks and leather boots. I even want a felt hat. Never has a hat featured in my wardrobe, but this season it becomes a new requirement.

I wonder how I have survived so long without a hat?!

The transition from weekend to weekday is never more apparent than in Autumn. We are just becoming accustomed to the new school term, the cooler feel to the air, the suddenly darkening dusk reminding us that it won't be long till it will be pitch black at 4.30pm. Ohhh long winter!! Monday mornings mean drop off and straight to yoga. I do this with a couple of friends and an amazing teacher who is the most gentle soul. Somehow every week, I turn up feeling harried and cross and every week I leave feeling calmer. I think Monday morning yoga should be a medicinal solution for everyone. Imagine how differently the week would start off if everyone had an 8.30am yoga class?

I know how lucky I am. I have mentioned that I do a power yoga class aswell and how hard it it. The Monday yoga is totally different and I quite like the juxtaposition of the two. How interesting that the same basic activity can produce such different feelings in me? I even got a new yoga mat. I invested in a lifetime mat; it gets better with wear. I like the thought that this mat and I are going to take a journey together for many years. The mat cost more than the aforementioned hat; a sign of investment that I have realised that yoga will be part of my life always now. No matter what.

I have a friend who has been through a tough time lately. She started something brave and new in her life; in the way that we are all encouraged to, she followed her dream. After a year of working very hard and envisaging a lifestyle that she thought would make her happy; in fact that opposite has occurred. It's so hard when that happens; after all that sacrifice and investment, things didn't turn out how she thought they would. I try to console her but know that only time will heal her bruised soul. I think about my little venture into the small business world and feel a fresh smart of the same type of bruise; the 'I tried, but it didn't work out' bruise. They say that resilience is all. When I worked for the big corporate we did lots of analysis on what made good leaders. What characteristics were displayed by our most successful executives? The one most revered: resilience. Being able to bounce back.

Am I the bouncing back type? I am more like a slow burn, I mull it all over and reach my conclusions. I do see that overthinking is a big disadvantage.

In all things, not feeling too deeply can save so much heartache and ultimately, are those who have shallow waters the ones who succeed in life?

One to ponder...

Meanwhile, life is a whirl of house, kids, dog, husband, driving and cooking. The mundanity can close in. I try not to let it. I saw some old, old family friends today, who knew me when I was a baby. Some good advice from them. Go outside and do some stuff. Get immersed in something you love. Don't look for gain in it. Don't sit on the computer all day. Travel and see stuff. Don't get cross. Stay calm.

Bounce back.

via here

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