OMG and OMG...

posted on: Thursday, 26 March 2015

An eventful time right now, in our little household. We hurtle towards the Spring, all feeling rather thankful that we got through winter. The things I see on the news make my heart ache with half empathy, half horror. It's hard to know what to make of these modern times. How it seems to be about being in the right (or wrong) place at the right time.

All we can do is make what we have matter and to resist the urge to dwell on the silly, little things and instead see the wider picture. Live the life.


Meanwhile, I found out this week that I have been accepted onto the writing degree course, so I will start in September! Now that it has become a reality, I look back on recent months and feel pleased that I found myself a new place to dwell. Funnily enough, I have at the same time been approached to do some consulting work in my previous profession (I quite like having two distinct professions; the before and the after). The cut and thrust of business is always there in the background and I could feel myself being drawn back into it. But I realised that I am different now. I don't want to scale up another karmic debt in trying to find loopholes and ways to do things that shave off money and time. I'd rather spend my time constructing my first novel in my head. I'll do the work for sure, as that is what pays right now, but I was interested in my own reluctance to step back into my old ways.

There's a shroud on our house since the departure of Zayn Malik from 'One Direction'; only those with teenage daughters need empathise. I am trying hard to. I can have only respect for someone who walks away to consider their own karmic debt. So fair enough.

Things are gathering some pace with the house plans - I galvanise myself for the prospect of more building work. At least this phase is more renovation than boring utilities. I get to choose stuff. I am lobbying currently with my long-suffering husband for a pale pink sofa. This will be my only departure from the white, white, white theme. He's open to it. I figure: we have so 'done' beige, I don't like purple, blue is too cold, likewise grey...why not dusty pink?! I shall sit with it.


I finally collect my re-worked engagement ring today after months at the jewellers. It broke on New Year's Eve, so it feels like a long absence from my left hand. I am desperate to get it back.

We go next week to see family in Dubai. Thank goodness for that. I need a fix of family as much as I need a fix of sun. My sister in laws and their common-sense approach to life will be there in abundance and I need some of that. It's strange; you lean on family in ways you don't appreciate until they've gone away. And as for the idea of wearing a bikini after the aforementioned winter spell - OMG and OMG. Shocker!

What else? I kinda wish I was as cool as Isabel Marant who just sounds so chilled in this article.

I read The Glass Castle; the poverty and neglect described in it made my wince. My husband gave me a late birthday present - a first edition of my favourite ever book, 'Couples' by John Updike. I was kinda blown away. He's good like that :-)

I got closer to the deer who live in the fields near my house than ever before, and didn't have my phone on me to capture it. Ironic.

Lucky in so many ways.




How much do you shop?

posted on: Monday, 23 March 2015

I find myself drawn to woeful articles written about compulsive shoppers. A life's fortune spent on something she already had in her possession. I'm interested in the idea of shopping as an addiction. I furtively watch TV programmes about hoarders who keep every newspaper and every tin can, until their houses are colossal vessels of unnecessary stuff. I observe the Great British Public out on a Saturday afternoon, participating in the national pastime of commerce. I read blog after blog, of the fashion blogger ilk, featuring more clothes than anyone can know what to do with. The excess of shopping fascinates me; we acquire and then we acquire more. It is not as if any item of clothing 'wears out', instead we replace it or donate it and 'get something new' to feed this insatiable appetite.

I am right there with the best of them.


I have a complex relationship with shopping, one which I have written about before. Even as a child I loved it and see now in my children, the love of purchasing; not going home empty-handed. If I had subconsciously tried to dissuade them from having the same shopping impulses as me, I failed.

I look back at my childhood, which was spent shuttling between divorced parents and see that shopping undoubtedly represented a release, a treat, a thing associated with pleasure.

But shopping = spending and so is inextricably linked to how much money you have, or I suppose how much money you want to spend. As time has marched on and my socio-economic status has gone up from that of a beleaguered student to that of a fully fledged member of a wage-earning society, the spend has increased. Although there is still a ceiling, a point at which I think something costs too much for me to afford it. This becomes an increasingly abstract point as the expenditure of a family holiday or school fees or a new car skew the balance.


So how much do you shop? And what for? The essential or the luxury? And how much does your shopping habit get influenced by others? How affected are you by Pinterest or magazine articles?

My wardrobe quakes with replicated contents. I noticed a few years ago that I started buying the same thing over and over again; grey jumpers, the 'perfect' jean, Chelsea boots in varying colours. But ostensibly all the same. I tried to kerb this habit or at least shop much, much less for much, much more desirable items. Cashmere instead of lambswool. Leather instead of plastic etc.

Now I no longer earn money, my habits have changed again. I get the guilts in the knowledge that a pay-check will not come at the end of the month and wipe the slate clean. I return things that are not essential. I constantly monitor whether something has been sufficiently worn. I toy with selling on e-bay. I make platitudes to myself that maybe my daughter will be happy to inherit the more outlandish items that have caught my eye; the dresses that I have no where to wear but with which I can't part.


Shopping, to me, is the pursuit of style. Much is written about style and why we aspire to it. How some just have it, whereas others don't. Shopping is the acquisition of items that enable style to happen. An external human expression. The endless possibilities of a 'good outfit day'. I do watch those who don't partake in this constant pursuit. I have the desire to wear sweatpants every day vs getting properly dressed. I secretly long to do the school run in my pyjamas and Uggs, without being ironic. But I don't. I show up dressed in varying degrees of the formulaic Mummy uniform and I go about my day...wondering what to shop for next. First World problems...

image via crush cul de sac

What I really want for them...

posted on: Sunday, 22 March 2015

Anecdotally, when asked the question: 'what would you like for your children?' most parents will retort with unfailing consistency: 'Happiness'. With a capital 'H'. Of course. But increasingly as this parenting journey continues (I am 13 years 10 months in so far) I find that it is far more complex than simply wanting happiness for them.


I want resilience. I want them to be able to ride a storm. I want them to come up smiling after they get mud in their eye; literally and metaphorically. I want them to be able to see that bad times pass and good times arrive, almost imperceptibly and when they are least expecting it.

I want them to be able to chill and relax and not sweat the small stuff.

I want them to feel confidence. I want them to be able to walk into a room and not quake at the prospect of oh-so-many people to speak to. I want them to feel that they are the best version of themselves. I want them to look in the mirror and like what they see. I want them to get the feeling that they nailed it when they did their best, even if not everyone agrees.

I want humility. I want grace and resonance and the ability to look at the bigger picture.

I want ease for them. I don't want life to be too hard. But it can be a little bit hard so that they develop perspective.

I want for them to appreciate the way the world works, but not to distrust it.

I want for them to see value in everyone; male or female. I want them to know what feminism is.

I want them to be honest and true.

I want them to need me even when they are fully grown and living their own lives; safe in the knowledge that I will still do their washing and make their favourite dinner every now and then (as my Mum still does for me).

I want to like the people they choose as their friends, their confidantes, their spouses.

What I don't want is greed. Or over-reaching ambition that eclipses everything else. Or unkindness. Or for them to abandon everything that we raised them to believe in.

But of course all of these attributes weigh heavy and they may not exhibit all (or any) of them.

Parenting, as it goes on, is about accepting the children you have. My husband made the point, after last week's challenging interlude in the raising of a teenager daughter, that she is the product of nature AND nurture. What we didn't give her in genetics, we gave her in upbringing. The proverbial buck stops with us. And in that vein I have to say, I observe some parenting styles, the 'laissez faire' ones that come to pass as the teenager becomes too much of a handful and the response is: let go, let it be. Do less. As for me, I do the opposite; the harder it gets, the harder I work at it. I want to instill the important values when I have the chance.

And so we keep trying and keep talking and hope that what we are doing is working. But also that we are not over-egging the pudding; becoming those parents who do too much, try too hard. If ever balance were required, it's now.

I look to those who went before me, parents who have come out the other side and have raised functioning adults and say: I applaud you! It is not easy.

painting by jessica cooper

The power of suggestion...

posted on: Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Midweek arrives and I grapple with whether I should go running. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love the idea of it; usually late at night when I can't actually go for a run, but imagine how nice it will feel and how I will get that familiar ache afterwards, of muscles expended. This usually coincides with some time browsing Pinterest or Instagram where I see some fit person looking motivated. But then the morning comes, I wake and think: maybe I won't run. I go through this internal monologue every time 'shall I? shan't I?' until I force myself to commit. Go for a run Lou.


The browsing of images though - the Pinterest boards, tumblrs and Instagram feeds - they are suggestive; pervasive even. The sphere of influence that I am subject to every time I swipe refresh on my phone is unreal, when you stop and think about it. And it's not media in the traditional sense; these are not all brands vying for my loyalty and my money, these are friends and acquaintances, people I am associated with or know of. Some are celebrities or ambassadors for whatever it is they do.

I am a self-confessed Pinterest freak - and actually would say that of all social media environments, it is one that harbours (as far as I can see) the least hate. On the whole it's good stuff and that is why I like it. Some of it saccharine sweet, for sure. But on the whole good and honest.

I've written before about the more subversive side of social media sites - the subterranean world of Instagram that isn't talked about, but is very much there. I see that the positive influences I look at can be just as powerful as the negative images that others look at. I occasionally stalk Instagram like some sort of bizarre reverse-troll. If I see something bad and negative - an account devoted to self harm or self-loathing - I report them! Honestly, you couldn't stand on a street corner showing off and glorifying pictures of suicide without being moved on, why should it be tolerated on line? Making things change in the world is all about many people taking action. If everyone did the same thing, maybe these accounts with names like 'wrecked mind' or 'slowly drowning' would close down. Maybe young girls wouldn't feel compelled to attract thousands of followers every day. Impressionable kids who don't appreciate the perversion of clicking 'like' to a picture that illustrates deep suffering.

So my idea is this: surround yourself with positive stuff. Good images. Happy people. When it gets hard don't get into the spiral of self-doubt. Get instead some resilient strategy to feel better. Walk the dog. Call a friend. Watch trashy, light-hearted TV. Go for a run. Anything but what lurks underneath and on line. Make the suggestive image a good one, not a bad one.

I know I sound rant-y. I know it. But the enormity of this access-all-areas Internet mess that we have created is overwhelming! There is always a counter-argument that for all the badness on the web, there is also good. There is kindness and camaraderie. There is finding your tribe. There is blogging and all the goodness that comes from it. I completely accept that the very thing I enjoy and exploit, in writing this, is also the subject of deep worry and concern for me. Bittersweet.

Surely the rule of thumb should be: focus on the good? Ditch the bad...


What I know about chronic pain...

posted on: Monday, 16 March 2015

I saw the trailer for Jennifer Aniston's new film 'Cake' which depicts the life of a woman suffering from chronic pain. I got a jolt of recognition; just her body language: hunched shoulders, winced face, gallows humour. You see, I have suffered with pain for years. I had tooth ache and face pain and seized shoulders and a sore neck. My head hurt. My jaw clicked, alarmingly.

Medically, they drew a blank. Misdiagnosis went on for an age; the single most distressing part of the whole experience was that countless doctors and dentists told me that they didn't know what it was.

They said it's all in your head. Take some pills. Anti-depressants will do the trick, even if you're not depressed; the only side effect is that you'll feel comatose and like you're walking through treacle most of the time. Not great when looking after children. Or trying to do a job. Oh it takes six months to see if they are working and oh, no, they didn't work. Ahh well, try some more pills; this time epilepsy drugs. No, you haven't got epilepsy but this is about altering the pathways in the brain (layman's explanation). You perceive pain all wrong. It's all in your head. The end.

Nothing about the pain (especially the source of it) changed and meanwhile I was indeed going slightly nuts. I kept a lid on it and carried on as honestly, compared to what a lot of people endure, this was more on the uncomfortable side than the agony side. I could function, but over time, it became cumulative and over time I started to wonder if I'd ever feel the absence of pain again.

I then turned to alternative therapies, case studies, real-life experience summaries, anything that might explain what was going on. Google was my best friend.

It's a magnesium deficiency. You need bone broth!

It's an iron deficiency. More kale!

You can be healed. Just download this e-book!

It's teeth-clenching. You need to wear a mouth-guard to bed!

You need to do jaw exercises; strengthen the muscles. Open and close your mouth a lot!

It's tongue position. Anchor it to the roof of your mouth!

It's the food you eat. Pulverise everything to a pulp!

Hydration. More water!

It's your posture. Relearn to walk/sit/stand/run!

It's your cranial muscles. Use a different pillow! Hard pillow, soft pillow.

You're just too stressed. Chill out!

It's how you sleep. Don't lie on your front!

It's about stretching. Do yoga!

Run. Walk. No, run. No, walk.

It's adrenal overload. Meditate!

It's driving a car. Walk!

It's your handbag. Get a satchel! Be hands free!

You need an Osteopath. No, a physiotherapist. No, a chiropractor. No, an acupuncturist, No, a reflexologist. No, a homoeopath...

And all in the newly acquired knowledge that millions of people suffer with these unspecified problems and that they affect women more than men. Why is that so?!

Memories of events were coloured by the mental overlay: was I in pain that day? Parties spent in agonising smalltalk. Needing to lie down, to rest from the pain, the put my head down. Making conversation saying everything is fine because frankly, after years of saying it's not fine, who wants to know? What more is there to say?

And in the end, over a really long time, I had to change everything about the way I live. I studied myself to learn the triggers (some of which still allude me). I tirelessly learnt 'The Alexander Technique' and found indeed that it was postural and muscular and the enemy was within me; I was causing much of my own pain! Jaw clenching and muscle tightening and an entire overload of the system.

Now of course, it is better. For months at a time I can be pain-free. And what I do get an 'attack' I can manage it and cling to the knowledge that this too shall pass. I'm careful about getting enough sleep, I do yoga, I walk every day, I try hard to sit well. I gave up work. I take it easy. I try not be frightened of the dentist. I don't stress.

I look on with envy to those people who don't translate their worries into physical symptoms; they (in the words of Taylor Swift) shake it off. Somehow for me it became completely internalised. And now ,well now I take each day as it comes...


Growing up...

posted on: Saturday, 14 March 2015

I had a lovely birthday - thank you for all of the well wishes. 41; so far so good. I have a weekend of kid's sporting fixtures to logistics ahead of me; with a slow-down tomorrow for Mother's Day.


Some things on my mind:

With a daughter under my roof, issues that face young women are super-relevant to me (if not exactly for now, but I am getting prepared; the secret to good parenting?) This great post on sexual consent is about as clear as it can get and I will certainly refer back to it. This message should be taught to all teens; boys and girls.

Even though Spring and Summer feels like a long way off, I have decided that I need palm tree trousers - so this year it's these. I am in love. I also like this.

I started a new yoga session this week. I find yoga classes fascinating. For an activity which is so self-centred, for the self-aware, I am amazed how much attention the class pay to each others abilities. For beginners, who don't know their pigeon pose from their tree pose, it can be hard. I am now a few years into doing yoga and can hold my own, but there is something of beauty to be found in those whose practise flows and who can perform each position with ease. I have so been there (after the power yoga debacle) where every muscle is shaking and I feel like I am about to pass out from effort.

I have registered to vote; our country will choose new leadership in May and after all the Suffragettes did for us, it's criminal for a woman not to vote. Only 64% of women voted in the last election...

I have an American friend, Robin, who is building a little empire, one cool idea after another. She redid her uber-stylish home and got it featured all over the place and then started a fashion tote bag sideline. Meanwhile, her Pinterest feed is something else. And she rocks pink-tinged hair. I like people who make stuff happen.

Having discussed the existential side of growing older, can I also comment on the aesthetic side? A few times on this blog I have written about feeling saddened by the passing of the years and how ageing is affecting my appearance. A handful of commenters said that they found this disappointing, that I should embrace the process and not worry about what I look like. Meanwhile, I observe friends with interest and note how some are more affected than others. Here is an irony: I have an age spot (liver spot? sun spot?) on the side of forehead, and every time I get my roots done, the stylist thinks it's a splash of hair-dye and tries to rub the age spot off! I can see the funny side and depending how forthright the stylist is, they sometimes ask outright: is this mark part of your face?! I explain; they blush. They are usually all of about 20 years of age. Age spots have not arrived on their horizon. Have I learnt to love this age spot as it is a testament to a life lived? No, not really. Do I wish I had applied better sunscreen? Yes. Does ageing kinda suck? Yes. Do I wish I looked younger? Well, kinda, yes.

I do make a point of celebrating women whose faces show age and am often alarmed at those who medically intervene and look unrecognisable as a result, Renee Zellweger style. But I so understand the impetus to intervene, although the prospect of actually doing so scares me silly. It's not fun looking older. It's not nice when people say 'she looks good, for her age,' as the qualifier to the statement. And although it's all tied up with how society perceive age and how we should all find beauty in the different and the imperfect, it is an inscrutable fact of life.

I figure there is only one way to go - ignore it. Buy more clothes. Read more books. Inhabit the possible and not the impossible. Get some Vitamin D from the rare shards of sunlight that make it through the March cloud. Drink red wine. Happy days.



The quality of your thoughts...

posted on: Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Struck by the immediacy of the web, I scour for the perfect Spring coat. I actually get frustrated when I can't find what I want at the right price. I marvel at this, remembering how, pre-Internet, I used to actually go on shopping trips (invariably with my friend Dawn) and choose items in situ, in an actual shop, emerging with a real, live purchase. Now the postman is a trusty and long-suffering participant in my habit.


I am stuck halfway between a great book and a gripping book. The gripping one (The Girl on the Train) won over and I have read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours. I feel slightly dazed now; words swimming before my eyes. A satisfying read though. I will now revert to the great book (The Lives of Girls and Women) which is entirely more high-brow, but slower in pace.

It's my birthday tomorrow. After all of the fanfare last year of turning 40, what can I say a year down the line?! It's been a funny old year! The thing I wanted the most (freedom from working and space for myself) has turned out to be a challenge. Of all the times in my life, my 40th year saw me with more time on my hands than ever before and the reckoning that life had altogether shifted and changed. There were a few factors here; having a teenage child (which serves to remind you how long ago it was since you were 13) to noticing how many of my peers have returned to paid employment after years of housewifery. I did it all the other way round. The realisation that if I spend too much time alone, at home, I get this pervading feeling of stillness/frustration/boredom - even when there are a million things that need doing. The urgency seeped out of me month to month and instead I went from day to day; opening the blinds each morning and thinking: can another day have passed?? It's a curious thing.

So not an unhappy year exactly, but a pensive one. And I now conclude that the time is up for all that thinking and instead it's time for doing. I know, I know, I have said this before; bear with me.

I realise (and this could be my maturing years) that in fact the quality of your life DOES indeed depend on the quality of your thoughts. It's all about how you look at things.

I move steps closer to securing a place doing a Master's Degree in Writing; I had an interview yesterday, waiting to hear. I realise that of those million tasks that the housewife should complete; many can wait. I can steal a dog walk or a pub lunch with my husband when he works at home and feel grateful that we have that luxury. I covet things on line and then get over myself a day later; the beauty of the 'add to cart' option that never progresses to 'checkout'. I ponder whether I am too old for boyfriend jeans (I'm saying I can wear them; just). I try not to think too much about how it's all going to feel ten years from now. Or twenty.

I guess this year has been spent carving out a place I'm comfortable in. It feels as if before now, there were a series of choices (career, marriage, home, kids) that now, at the ripe of age of nearly 41, have come home to roost. Me? Mother of a teenager and a nine year old? Married for fifteen years? Washing my kitchen floor and hoovering most days? Seeing photos of myself and thinking - where did those laughter lines come from?! Furtively wishing I had once in my life been platinum blonde and wondering if I ever will be. Genuinely and actively deciding whether to age gracefully. Having a genuine interest in face creams that promise miracles. Being outraged by things that didn't used to outrage me. This is all part of life's rich tapestry...happy birthday me.


Useful...

posted on: Friday, 6 March 2015

A slow week as it happened; by choice, but still I get to 9pm every night and think how the day just ran away and I got nothing useful done. Useful stuff like cooking and cleaning but not useful stuff like building an empire. I take solace in reading books, I have a pile just so high by my bed and I dip into three or four at a time. I think to myself: these writers had weeks where they got nothing useful done. I try to listen in to the struggle that went on in their lives as they wrote those words, constructed that story, located their written voice. I read book reviews online; of books that I don't think were any good. I wince at the critiques and wonder: it is better to write a bad book than to write no book at all? It's these moments of self-doubt, how they creep when I have not done anything useful all week.


But then I think, actually no. I made two recipes that went down a treat and were super-healthy and super-tasty and I found that if I just get a little nudge I can rediscover an interest in cooking and not dread the hours from 6pm to 8pm where somehow, over the course of time, it's become expected that I will produce a crowd-pleasing dinner for four (or three) each night! This week, I triumphed. And oddly I did it without meat. I am wondering whether we really need to eat meat? Meat (with the exception of The Sunday Roast) has become an addition that has not really earned its place on my plate. Not even sure why it is there, a protein fix? Lentils work much better and then I don't get the guilts when I pass a lorry-full of sheep, crammed in together in a claustrophobic, nightmarish last huddle. Not one to dwell on.

Useful things? I installed a desk in my daughter's room so she can do homework there - instead of hunched on her bed, periodically checking her phone, as she describes the differences between Stalin and Mussolini in History.

I cleared a cupboard or two. Fluffed and folded. Drove about. Walked the pup.

There is something wonderful about having nothing useful to do. I really can't knock it. My friend has returned to work in our (my) old profession after a 14 month break. She described sitting at her new desk, feeling self-conscious about taking a lunch-break, clock-watching till 5.30pm when she can hurry home and get on with that 6pm to 8pm dinner production and get her kids to bed. I don't miss being a working mother for that very reason. I admire her tenacity. This life of housewife and mother carries on and on; work can be a welcome interlude. But it's by no means easy for either the working or the stay at home mother. I see that I am a novice in this new life really. I still sometimes wake up and think I have a presentation to give or a paper to write. Muscle memory of the corporate kind.

So it's Friday; the weekend ahead with that subtle (although not significant) differentiation from the working week. We have unseasonably warm weather - well at least it's double figures in temperature for the first time since Autumn. The yearning for Spring grows each day...I think that one day, it will be possible to wear cotton and not wool. To have bare ankles. Or to leave the house without a coat (padded shroud)! One day...



Jam jars and sleeping over...

posted on: Tuesday, 3 March 2015

We went away for a night; my husband and I.

I wanted him to see 'The Pig', a place I've frequented a few times recently. It oozes a Mumford & Sons feel that I knew he'd like. You know the type of thing: drinks served in jam jars, achingly cool/pretty staff in a uniform of Converse, skinny jeans and a shirt and tie, claw-footed, free-standing baths and understated shabby chic decor. I felt like we fit the demographic as we ploughed through lunch, dinner and then breakfast, nourished on the luxury of no interruptions and no washing up.


Hotels, for me represent my old life. Invariably, we go there to escape our house and our kids. I sit in the dining room and wonder if all of the other couples are doing the same thing. Some bring very young babies - ambitiously - tucked discreetly under tablecloths in rocking seats, praying that they will sleep through the three course meal. I regard them with interest; couples younger than us - or at least they seem it - we embarked on parenthood so early, maybe that is just my perception. I revel in the lack of activity required when staying in a hotel. There is nothing to do except mooch and read and sleep and eat. How it differs to my normal life. My husband usually starts a well-trodden monologue about how he would like to run an establishment of his own (a long-held ambition of his) and I retort that it has to be a labour of love, there is no money in it and it's crazy-hard work. Looking after the Great British Public is not necessarily my idea of fun, but I can see that running an uber-stylish hotel might be quite interesting.

The very done-ness of hotels appeals to me, as we still live through the undone-ness of our house. Hotels don't overflow with possessions, drawers crammed full of family life. Cupboards begging to be cleared out. The never-ending cycle of family life.

I spend the time not wanting to be one of those couples who don't speak at dinner; marooned on their own table with no conversation to act as an oar. But at the same time, when silence ensues, I enjoy it, because it says something to be comfortably silent with someone you've sat opposite for twenty years.

Staying away makes coming home all the sweeter.

In other updates, I have had to abstain from moving anywhere too fast due to my log-carrying injury! I returned to yoga this week which was as challenging and as lovely as ever. I am mildly obsessed with a brand of active clothes called Montiel - as recommended by my friend Robin. This kit works.

My sister in law Natasha, who moved with her little family to Dubai last year, has started blogging again. I am intrigued to read her views about changing country with two small children and what's on her mind. One thing about blogging is that it gives a window in to the every day world of the writer - I often notice that friends and family don't email me to find out what I am up to - they don't need to, as they read about it here! I am looking forward to reading Natasha's bulletins and staying more up to date with her...

Enjoying the latest series of 'Girls', particularly how Hannah has quit her rural, high-brow writing course as it was just too damn hard. Makes me think about my plans to re-enter the educational sphere and how, at the age of 40, I'm hopefully better equipped to cope with success and failure, whichever presents itself first! I heard from my old boss today and got an insight into the corporate world I have left behind. No regrets, but it is strange to see how my own trajectory has peaked and dipped. As ever, in the fullness of time I can see how the dips serve to inform the peaks and it's all part of a necessary journey (here I am; still neck deep in existential mid-life thoughts).

It feels to me like the Spring might be coming, although it is still necessary to shroud myself in a down coat every time I step outside. Maybe one day it will be warm again...