And so to conclude...

posted on: Friday, 23 May 2014

This week, all taken up with the soul-searching of this privileged housewife and now we revert to normal service.

On other matters, I decided to order some new wellies - my old trusty Hunters have a hole in the side so they let in water. No good. Hunter have brought out lovely new designs with stripes and everything, so this makes me happy. The green and clementine ones are winging their way to me as I type.

Kate and I - oh-so-similar...
I also ordered a book by Diana Vreeland called 'Allure'. I still have a thing about real, actual books. No matter how many times I download titles on ibooks, it's never quite the same as holding a hardcover in your hand.

I listened to an interview conducted in 2009 with my favourite author John Updike. He talked about how writers had to accept that human interest when reading comes from the smallness of life; the every day. I agree; I don't write about the fantastical,

I write what is in my heart and my head at the time. I do then read back and think 'whhaaaaatttt was that?!' as the mood has passed and I no longer feel those keenly expressed emotions. This is especially the way with a blog - it is a diary. A friend of mine commented that I didn't seem to write for wider, public consumption, that it was for me alone. I think that's sometimes true - it's a cathartic thing to write. Well, for me anyway. It just happens to live in a place where it can be viewed by anyone. Bizarre. Welcome to my world.

I bought a summer blazer. I have this thing for blazers and it's been building for months. I never used to own one, except for a suit blazer and certainly wouldn't have thought of wearing one casually. Then I noticed that all of the outfit pictures I loved on Pinterest were of blazers. I SWEAR Pinterest is responsible for so many of my style choices now. You want what you see. You are what you read. I have blazer love.

images via stylista
I had noticed that my son was going to bed later and later. This happens with a second child; things that would have never happened with your firstborn creep up and become normal. It used to be bed by 7.30pm; now it's more like 9pm. The light nights don't help but still I had to re-set the schedule. So we reverted to bath and reading, something that had filtered out as he got older. At the moment it's Michael Morpurgo books - I think that man is a genuis. The modern-day Roahl Dahl.

Boo is in the middle of exams at school so evenings have been also spent cramming for chemistry and philosophy. Test me on the periodic table, go on. She is stoic and does the work, albeit slightly late in the day (her father's daughter). Next week a break for half term, which has swing around so quickly. It literally feels like they only just went back after Easter.

Where does the time go??!

And here we are; it's Friday. Have a great weekend and thank you, as ever, for your comments and sentiments.

Is your life good for you?

posted on: Thursday, 22 May 2014

OK so I did just spend a week pretty much on my own, pondering the meaning of life and wishing there was a cure for the flu virus (I so should have got a flu shot) so you catch me in pensive mood...but...I am wondering: is my life good for me? How does one know? Cue: existential panic!

I spent many years living a life that patently wasn't good for me. I was under the illusion that if I just worked really hard at everything, all the time, that it would all be OK. The net result? Eventually my body just said 'no' and I spent over three years in daily pain and not knowing why. In fact not only did I not know why, but every inkling that it was my life which was making me feel bad, I dismissed. It took me so long to figure out that my body was in revolt; rebelling as a cry for attention. It was the equivalent of a teenager acting out - my stressed muscles in uproar and the resulting tension and pain a daily reminder.

So I made lots of changes and got really serious about my well being. Now my life is a series of little events all held together by the belief that I am better. And I am better - the pain has virtually gone, which delights me, but I am left with some disquiet. I have skirted around this here for a while as it feels wrong to complain. I have been very lucky in that I was able to make changes when they mattered. I had that luxury; so really I have no right now to suggest there is anything wrong.

And there isn't - not really. But this disquiet - I am trying to identify it. I have a friend who stopped working shortly after I did and we speak often about how when we were working (she was a close colleague of mine) we longed for days at home, pottering about the house, sorting our lives in ordered piles. Now we can do this every day, interspersed by the school run, it isn't feeling quite right.

Is this a sign that I need to go back to work?! That feels kinda hasty and circumstances have changed around me, rendering my working like a did before to be an impossibility. I am now wed to being a housewife and I hold everything about our family life in my head like some sort of Mummy encyclopedia. So what now?

Those who know me well and even those who read what I write here will know that too much time to think is not good for me. But I am reaching the conclusion that by not working every day in paid employment I have too much time to think. Is this a common issue? I observe so many other women around me and on line who manage this effortlessly and I wonder - how do they do it? I can fill my time for sure, but these adjectives spring to mind: bored, lonely, questioning, ambivalent. It's not terminal, don't get me wrong, but it's niggling me.

Am I missing some enormous thing? Shouldn't this just be the best thing ever? I have freedom, I am well, I have a beautiful family, I am safe. Time to get a grip?!

Answers on a postcard please...

image via killian and co

Humility today...

posted on: Tuesday, 20 May 2014

And so to Tuesday...

Yesterday was blah, 'meh', not so good. Today - well today, I got some perspective and am trying to see the sunny side. Although the sun went in. Bye sun - see you...when? Ever? I long for a hot summer...did I mention?

I live in the town where I grew up, so I have this strange sensation where the roads I drive every day are roads that I have walked, biked, run along, driven a million times before. This leads to an acute sense of deja-vu on a daily basis. Today, having dropped my husband at the station (I always feel like Betty Draper when he goes off to the city in his suit), I drove past two elderly ladies.

They were walking towards each other, one stepping very slowly with a walking stick, the other with a wheeled walking contraption for support. As I passed I glimpsed in my rear view mirror that as they approached each other, they smiled. Firstly in those split seconds I thought they knew each other and would stop to chat, as the elderly often do, having more time than those of us who are 'busy'. But then I saw the smile was simply a conspiratorial 'look at us' smile; knowing and rueful. You see, once those ladies were probably just like me - rushing about in their lives, agile in body and thought. But today they are old ladies, dressed in old lady clothes, with walking aids. I say this not for any reason other than to point out the reliability of the human condition; we all get older! The smile was a fleeting recognition; a hello to a stranger who experiences a similar happenstance.

So today - still recovering from flu, still surrounded by an un-built house, but better.

I also watched the Danish film 'Love is All you Need' a title which says little about the actual film; someone should have named the English release better. Incidentally, my Mum told me that the Danish version's translation is titled: 'The Bald Hairdresser'! This is so typical Danish; call it what it is but with a hidden depth. For me, with a Danish mother and hoards of Danish family, watching it was so comforting and familiar. Also ridiculously thought-provoking. There is a message there: don't settle.

Meanwhile on my comments about blogs and featuring products; I feel bad about this now. Who am I to judge? I have always shied away from featuring products (you should see the variation of emails I get asking me to feature brands - my sphere of influence in the arena of search engines must span from light bulbs to vegan shoes. Odd.) I guess the 'voice' I speak with here is my own and I never wanted to share it. However there are some brands I often talk about so how am I any different to the blogs that feature them as a conscious and sponsored decision? Anyway - in the sentiment of the quote 'a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.' There is room for all.

I do love a good honest blog though - one a bit like that conspiratorial smile between two old ladies; the knowledge that we have something in common.

via suvi sur le vif

Friendship, love and marriage...

posted on: Saturday, 10 May 2014

I observe my daughter and her peers and see the delicate balance of teenage friendship; you're in, you're out, it's so precarious I wonder how on earth they all make sense of it. But then I look at more adult relationships and see that there isn't really that much of a difference in later life. Now, the friends I see most often are determined largely by geography and familiarity. My oldest friends live the furthest away, through life and circumstance and the fact that we met at University and then scattered to follow our fortunes. Since I have had children I have made various sets of friends; some have been keepers and others less so. But I am struck that as I get older I am more and more selective about who I have around me. It's important now more than ever that I am with people who raise me up rather than lower me down. And it remains that some female friendship groups are impenetrable; cliques still exist.

Meanwhile, I notice that with each passing year (40: so far so good) there are barriers that come with even the most established of friends. The busier we are and the more complex our lives, the endless juggling of jobs, children, marriage, home and travel, I see a veneer that presents 'how life should be' instead of 'how life actually is'. This is not dishonest or even deliberate, but even with my best of friends there are now conversational taboos - topics that don't come out of the woodwork like they did when we were in our 20's and 30's. It's as if the older we get, the more we have to accept that a lot of our choices are made and we must now live with them. Our capability to make significant changes in our lives is lessening. By this I mean careers, husbands, locations - the big stuff.

And no matter how close the friendship, when years and years of marriage start to add up, we are less inclined to share the gory details, out of respect to our husbands and families. I find this curious but absolutely to be the case.

However despite the reservedness that sometimes arises, I know my friends would defend and support whenever necessary. There is solidarity in time and longevity. I like the knowledge of this; the idea that if the shit hit, I wouldn't be alone.

Having grown up with divorced parents, I don't have a yardstick by which to measure a successful marriage. I used to think this was a hindrance but I am now starting to consider it a blessing. I have no pre-conceived idea of how established marriage should look or feel. All I know is that I am interested in how marriages fare as time goes on. I have a good friend who I have known for many years, whose parents struggled to stay together when she was young. They made it through and she observed that they did. The lesson? That even when things get rough, when you look at the person you married and wonder 'who is this?!', when you think you two will never be the aged, retired couple sitting on their Adirondack chairs reading the paper through spectacles, it does get better. That is love. And to my husband - who may read this and think I am talking about him - I'm not. It's just an observation about the long haul. It takes time and effort and thought. But most of all perseverance to a greater good that is not weighed down by the day to day. Those are today's observations on friends, love and marriage. Happy weekend :-)


posted on: Wednesday, 7 May 2014

There are many recurring themes in what I write here, for example;

my ongoing and relentless search for certain perfect items of clothing or shoes,
the merits of white-washing everything in your house,
curry nights and Sunday roasts,
motherhood and all its glory,
Pinterest (in general),
the pursuit of kindness,
comparing and contrasting working life to stay at home mother life,
missing old friends,
balancing life,
making fresh starts,
the book that is apparently in me, but is shy in making an appearance,
first world problems,
and on and on...

I am now nearly ten months into my 'retirement' and life is good. Well, what I have found is that life has all of its ups and downs, as it always did. What has changed is my ability to see them coming and roll with them. I must admit I am not much better at handling stress than I ever was; once a worrier always a worrier. Which is annoying because my worries have shifted from the minutia to the enormous - things like the state of society or my children's future happiness. Things which I can't for one moment hope to know or really influence. But I am doing my best. I am trying to embrace my quirks.

The novelty is still there of having a day stretch out ahead in the knowledge that I could, if I wanted to, read a book or watch a box set episode. I rarely do, as it happens. I seem to spend my time shuttling items around my house, running errands, thinking all the time. There is a beauty in the simpleness of my life, but there is also an impatience for the next thing; whatever 'the next thing' might be. I love having time and have become fiercely protective of it, guarding my schedule like the most well-trained secretary and never over-squeezing the day. But the mundane can get to me and I wonder why then I don't get stuck into the other ventures that are there for the taking. The business. Or the book. It turns out that after many years of hard work, I am now reluctant to work hard. Funny how it goes. It might be possible that the habit of working hard is exactly that: a habit. And one I have got out of.

It's not as if I am idle, but I am certainly not at full (even half?) capacity.

But it's OK - there is always the house building work which is going disastrously not to plan. It's a laugh or cry decision; I choose laugh. Or Boo's birthday next week (13!!). She got braces fitted and we spent the weekend trying every soft food known to man. Braces REALLY hurt. Or the perennial de-clutter. Or the entire back-catalogue of 'Gossip Girl'. Or walking on the beach, like I did this morning in a deserted 8.15am setting.

My thoughts turn to being 20 years old and having all of this set out ahead of me. Now I have arrived. I have the evening kitchen table covered over with kid's homework and jam jars from the morning and 'to do' lists and a glass of red wine...

Is this all part of the process?! Wisdom please :-)