The blue shoes and all that they represent...

posted on: Tuesday, 25 November 2014

So I am standing in an LK Bennett today - the bastion shoe shop of the career girl - whilst chatting to a school mum who witnessed me furtively checking out jodphur-style black trousers (comfort vs style?) I spy a pair of cobalt blue heels. They are reminiscent of the Carrie shoes that she wore for her wedding in the film (I ponder whether anyone who doesn't get this reference can still be a friend of mine). I think, with sadness, that I have nowhere to wear these shoes and that is why they will not find their way into my life. Yet they haunt me all day and I want them like I wanted patent red Mary Janes when I was eight. Hmmmm.

Shoes and I - we are comfortable bed fellows.

Meanwhile, I was meant to be Christmas shopping, but that kinda fell by the wayside in favour of lining my own nest. Every time I make an assertion that I will not buy anything else and then every time I falter. In my job I used to make assertions about legal principles; now my assertions are slightly less weighty.

There's a new 'One Direction' album out. This means a constant loop in our house. I know the words by heart already. 'Her mother doesn't like that kind of dress'.

We are in the depths of winter now; darkness falls at 4.30pm and we all hunker down for the night long before we should because it is so damn dark outside. There is nothing to make of this other than the observation that England sucks this time of year. I look at summer's Florida pictures and marvel that we ever basked in the heat and watched the sunset on beaches whilst toasting s'mores on a fire pit. Roll on mid-winter and then we come out the other side.

I have started working on a little venture. I know, I know - I have said this before. But this one is close to my heart and I have no expectations of it. I am going to sell on Etsy and that's it. No broad and lofty plans of world domination. Just a little something that might make a difference to someone, somewhere. I will share more soon.

So back to the cobalt blue shoes. There was a time, before I was steeped in mud and dog walks and school runs, when those shoes would have been just my cuppa tea. In fact the angst would have been about my inability to afford them rather than their suitability to my life. Oh how times change. I am still contemplating going back and getting them. Out of principle. And I ask myself again: why is life not more like Sex and The City??!!

all images via they all hate us

Chill your beans...

posted on: Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I've been absent; time spent battling away with a million little things that have added up to form one big thing, resulting in these life observations:

With me, stress has its effect at least three months after the event itself. It's a delayed programme.
I am not such a good housewife. But conversely the chaos of mess really bothers me.
I am predictable in my emotional reactions to things.
My husband is a patient man.
My children are oblivious.
I ask everyone I meet what they think about x, y and z and yet still can devise no single solution or plan for myself.
I write about it here and imagine long term readers sighing quietly into their coffee and thinking 'here she goes again...'
I am rather too hard on myself as I read this back. Type, delete, type, delete.

As an aside - it remains utterly bizarre to me that people sit in their houses, or in their cars scrolling through this blog reading my thoughts and musings. I had a lovely anon comment recently saying 'I so love your blog...' and it warmed my heart, as when you hit publish, sometimes it's hard to imagine that the content goes anywhere that will actually reach someone. Nice.

But back to life observations.

The sun has come out for the first time in a week today. As I walked on the beach this morning, I thought to myself how the weather makes such a difference to mood. Hard to get excited about the day when it rains constantly, there is mud everywhere (rural life) and the sky is low and grey. As my friend Tania The Writer would put it: dreich. I would like to be known as Louise The Writer one day. I have a friend, who sensing my need to not be stuck at home housewife-ing, offered for me to join her in her funky TV production office in order to get my creative juices flowing. The tenderness of this offer floored me. She knows me well. She sees the signs. Home alone is not good for me.

Meanwhile I spent last week having lunches with ladies. All very interesting; these are the demographic of the population, of which I suppose I am now one, who don't do paid work. What they do is learn french and craft things and do Pilates and generally 'keep themselves busy'. This observation belittles the work rate they maintain of managing a home and husbands and children. It is a never-ending, up at dawn siege interspersed by driving and cooking! It's not 'hard' of course, but it can be somewhat draining in its monotony. More kindness and offers of company and entertainment and I see for the first time in a long time, that the inclusive embrace of the school mums can open up and give support and validation. I enjoyed this at the school my children previously attended, but as time has gone on, it has lessened. The schedule demands of two children at different schools and a corporate (absent) husband can count me out of many of the activities that bond women together. Rightly or wrongly. Turns out making friends after 40 is as hard as making friends when I was 8. It's just a different playground.

I can report that the leather leggings have not yet had an outing. I am painting a floor in the house white (surprise) with thick boat paint; I want it to look like a glistening deck. The mantra I keep saying to myself is 'Lou: chill your beans'. I can't even get my head around Christmas - my son tells me its is 38 days away. Eeeek. I downloaded an app called Gratitude where you enter a journal every day of what you are grateful for. It's meant to be life changing if you do it for a month...shall we see?!

images via annixen blog

Of mice and men...

posted on: Wednesday, 12 November 2014

It seems motherhood extends to Auntie-hood. My niece is working on an essay in which she's keen to gain an 'A' grade. She called me for help; as I am a literature grad. It transpired it was an essay on a book I had never read (Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men') and I couldn't blag my way through with musings about the American dream. Turns out modern education is actually pretty good; there were no flies on her. So I agreed to read the book (overnight, in time for her deadline) and provide support and guidance, as all good Aunties should. Result: speed-reading like I was at Uni again (and flashbacks of my friend Nikki knocking on my Halls of Residence door hurrying me along for our lectures). I quite enjoyed the whole throw-back exercise, remembering my academic roots when the glittering career stretching out ahead of me seemed full of promise and possibility! Perhaps I should have done a PhD?! Incidentally I texted my old friend Nikki to ask her view (she's an English teacher nowadays and probably recites that book in her sleep). Calling in the big guns, so now we are all hoping to get an 'A' grade...

Meanwhile, in efforts to be like Elle Macpherson I have finally bought leather leggings - much to my children's amusement when they saw them hanging up. My daughter declared them 'Gangsta' (with an 'a') and my son asked why there were 'motorbike' trousers in the house. Elle: you have a lot to answer for. God knows where I will wear them, but having them makes me smile.

As previous posts attest to, there is altogether too much navel-gazing going on, so I set myself some corporate-style attainable goals. When's my appraisal?

Firstly, listen to 'Women's Hour' every day. For perspective.
Secondly, spend an hour a day writing. No matter what.
Thirdly, join a writer's group. I did this and will be penning for 'Selfish Mother'.

Go me.

What else?

I use this space to write what is on my mind and sometimes what is on my mind has no real place here. It's hard to judge; honesty here has always been really important, but equally when I look back on previous posts I see how frustrating it must be to read what I write! There is a vulnerability in me at the moment and I fear it shows. There is a theme; my ex-boss once identified a trait in me; I am like a dog circling in its basket! I know I do that; it takes me ages to settle and I realise how odd it must seem to observers. What can I say?! Bear with me. I am sure I will work it all out at some point and once I am clear, I hope I will relax.

It's all about what it's all about...wait; what's it all about?

posted on: Sunday, 9 November 2014

Another week; one without much writing in it, I am afraid. This, owing to the fact that my husband has been working from home and we share an office at the moment, so my days have been interspersed with conference calls, pipeline reviews, sales cadence and so on. All a lot of corporate jargon; he spends his days sharing information, measuring and being measured. Hey, it pays the bills. But it's distracting when you are a bystander.

Meanwhile, I got a couple of days of contentedness. I get this. Days where I look back on recent months and think: what was that all about?! I've written before about the funk I have been in, that hinted at itself in March, took up full residence in June and here we are in November, still niggling away. Turning 40 turned out to be rather more challenging mentally than I had expected. But then what did I expect? I Googled turning 40 and found articles about well-preserved celebrities who felt that life was 'better than ever; I am so sure of myself compared to my insecure 20's'.

Well yes, there is that. You learn and you learn and become sure. What I can liken it to, for me at least, is that my life is like a box of stuff that I keep filling up. Friends and family and children and items and memories and experiences and films and songs and places, you get the picture. Although with me, I never forget anything. I have an elephantine memory of things that have happened, been said, been observed. I develop theories constantly in my head.

The conclusion; the box of stuff is already feeling full! Lid is coming off. Sides bulging. I find this somewhat alarming as isn't the mid-life crisis meant to denote exactly that: the MIDDLE of life?!! If the box is full where am I going to put the next 40 (God willing) or more years?!

This leads me to the need to jettison many of our belongings in an attempt to empty the box. The box is a metaphor - does that make sense?! Probably not; I expounded this theory to my friend Dawn last weekend, walking the streets of Amsterdam and sensed, looking sideways, her wry smile recognising that this is vintage Lou. Or some such nonsense.

If I were to characterise this year so far, it would be one of realisation. So many things have come clear and many of them have been thought-provoking. The reality of living with a teenager daughter and all the challenge and joy that it entails. At the moment it's calm, but there is a spectre of something, somewhere on the horizon, where it will undoubtedly get tricky again! And then raising a son, who is growing up rather fast (a modern phenomenon? nine is the new twelve; thirteen the new sixteen?). A marriage that is nearing fifteen years old (not to mention the 7 years that predated the wedding). That's over twenty years!! Whaaaaat. It's all good and I am blessed for sure, but seriously, where did the time go?!

And if it feels like this now, what on earth is it going to feel like at 80? That's one to ponder....

I assuage my thoughts with the following:

A commitment to myself to wear only clothes that please me. Like I am crafting an outer version of myself. I am embracing the different.

I cook and I cook and I cook. And then I clean it all up. There is a regularity and dependency to it.

A single, dogged, sometimes hair-brained willingness to cover any topic with my children with truth and honesty.

An acceptance of the fact that even though he still doesn't hang up his towels, nor empty the dishwasher, nor has any inclination to do the laundry, my husband is the one. Still. As Dawn reminded me last week 'Yes yours, my love, is the right human face...'* which is from the reading she gave at our wedding.

The knowledge that this is the deal right now. I know it is. I am a cliche.

A daily walk with the pup where I put the world to right in my head and come home afresh. Walking rocks.

Trying hard to make it all fit in the box!

* From 'The Confirmation' by Edwin Muir.

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