The good old days...

posted on: Tuesday, 23 February 2016

It was half term last week, the week of absentmindedness. Not a long enough holiday to actually switch to no-school mode, sufficiently short to wonder each morning whether I have to get up and go by 7.30am. A week of arrangements and logistics and the usual tag-teaming of having two children four years apart; not much entertains them both simultaneously. I had an ill-timed three day college sequential in the middle which meant that the planning got trickier. Thank goodness for friends and family at these times.

Meanwhile, winter continues and I long for some sun that might lift these doldrums. Today is better.

Now they are back at school and my life resumes with some order, or at least I can be alone to gather my thoughts and write a little bit. It's funny; when I am with my children constantly it can be too much and when they go, I miss them. I see again that motherhood is no happy medium. It's all things and every thing in one hit.

I am thinking a lot about it at the moment as another realm of parental challenges have come our way, with each passing month or year my children change and things come to fore and we have to deal with them as a family. I see that I am reactive in the worst way, for all of my discussion about parenting, especially parenting teenagers, I struggle to keep my cool. I say things, I say too much, I explain and make a dialogue that is not helpful. I need to stick to my guns more, say 'no' when no means no but also say 'yes. I find that I am habitual, I stick to old habits and fail to recognise that the thing they're wanting is actually reasonable. To stay out later, to travel alone, to see friends that are outside of the pre-ordained set that I am familiar with. This is all part of it, it's just that as a mother, I find myself resisting. Then I have to analyse why and let it go. If there were one thing, one quote that was perpetually relevant to me it is this: let it go.

Meanwhile the house is not yet finished, still the requirement for electricians and carpenters to complete it. But the space itself is done and I can see now the benefits of living in a home where everything has its place and where the decor pleases. For so long it grated, before, when it was a labyrinthine old cottage, everything old and brown. Now it's an open space, glass-walled and white-washed and that works much better for me. It's like a blank canvas each time I come downstairs in the morning and that somehow makes my soul a little bit happier. I rue the fact that I am so affected by my surroundings and see a fickleness in it, but nevertheless it is making me happy.

The academia of last week tails off and I go back to my writing habits, edging closer to a completed manuscript, it will be done I think in the next month. I then have a monster editing task and a re-write, but I shall, if I submit it, pass my first year. Yay me. One step closer to obtaining another degree! I do ask myself sometimes why I am doing this? Doing a Masters has been invaluable to me, it lifted me out of the boredom of housewifery and gave me a huge challenge - to write a book in about nine months - and I am nearly there. I would recommend it to anyone, it's been my salvation mentally.

Physically I am still doing yoga - which I maintain is the answer to all ills - and I've started running again. The combination of these two things enables me simply to maintain the status quo of my body and I wonder, with awe, how women my age take on challenges like marathons and triathlons. For now me and my 5K run is fine a couple of times a week

I've got to be honest; do you mind? I am however finding life a little quiet. Maybe it's the time of year, maybe it's just where I am at right now, but it seems like the lustre has lessened. I am grateful for this time in many ways; a quiet life is an easier life surely? But equally I see that at the responsibilities we have right now are conspiring to create a drudgery. I'm sure there was more fun in my 30's? Or is that rose coloured spectacles? Either way, happy and healthy has got to be the best outcome, even if achieving it is not the most thrilling! Have a good day...

The un-shop...

posted on: Wednesday, 10 February 2016

I set myself another no-shop challenge, but this time I want to really stick to it. I am about a month in now and I can see that this could gather pace. My shopping habits are governed by this process:

I see something on Pinterest or on someone's blog or even some stranger I spot in the street and I start thinking 'that item of clothing could have a place in my life!'. This is tempered with seeing a thousand other images that I will mentally discard with the opposite: 'this has no place in my life.'
I then start the Internet search; going to the brands I like, seeing what's out there.
I generally then recoil at the cost of things and start the Internet search part 2, which consists of trawling the high street stores - like Zara - for a normally priced version.
I abandon many possibilities because the buttons look cheap or the fabric is 100% synthetic or I just think 'no, it's not a good deal after all.'
I go through the thought process of finding the one I like.
Or I don't find it which is wildly frustrating.
I may order.
I then wait for the postman; he comes and there is held breath (mine) whilst I unpack, decide in the first few seconds: yes or no.
You may wonder: why doesn't she just go to a real shop? This involves waiting and having time and being in a place where real shops stock the right stuff in the right sizes. More or less never.
My experience with designer clothes shopping - I can almost never tolerate the price tag, even in the sales. Rarely I covet, save up and buy something, I can't attest to it being a wild success. Except possibly with the big ticket item like the coat or boots.

And so it goes round again.

I go through stages - mainly in winter - when I am just so bored with jeans and jumpers that I LONG, YEARN, PANDER AFTER something new. Something else. But in reality from October to May I wear a 'muggles uniform' and I don't really deviate. I am trying to accept this. If I do buy anything, it tends to just be more of the same which in itself becomes rather pointless. Especially when I spend my time walking the dog and sitting at my laptop trying to write the book. 1000 words a day. 1000 words a day. Repeat after me.

I hate with a passion buying something that is not right. It languishes in my wardrobe and I feel bad when I look at it and it sends bad vibes back at me. If clothes could talk. I love when I get it right and I have a hard-working, good quality, stylish item in my wardrobe that gets an outing most days and always looks good.

What I really want is to live in a place where the weather doesn't render most outfits ridiculous - no bare ankles for six months of the year - and I want to resemble Isabel Marant in her insouciant coolness. Or to wear a skirt! A skirt! How revolutionary.

So this is new experiment - the anti-shop - let's see how that goes. I am making do. And trying to avoid being swayed by things I see. I'll report back.

Meanwhile, it's dreary February but the fantastic news is that it was not dark at 5.30pm last night, this is big progress. And I walked on the beach today and the sun came out for a few minutes and it was glorious. One day...spring will return!

April, come she will...

posted on: Friday, 5 February 2016

There's this crazy-sentimental side emerging in me, well, it was always there but it's just got a lot more distinct lately. I see pictures taken from the seventies and eighties, you know with that slight haze and all that brown furniture and I think: pure childhood. I hear a Simon and Garfunkel song and it makes my heart ache; I don't even know why because my parents didn't even listen to them that much when I was growing up - more like The Carpenters or The Eagles. But still, it's steeped in sentimentality.

It might be to do with the book writing; it makes you trawl your memory for every little forgotten detail and the feelings you associated with it. Or it may be because last Friday my husband's parents lost their oldest, best friend in a dreadful car crash. I find it hard to write that, the finality of it makes me hate looking at it printed on the screen. Like if I don't type it, it won't be true. But it is true and it's pulled everything about the past and the present and even the future into very sharp and sad focus.

People you remember being around your family when you were growing up; your parents best friends, the friends of your siblings. I look at my friends now (see previous post) and think about how my kids will remember them when they are older and look back on when we have had dinners or parties or days out or holidays with these buddies. How they'll get a strange feeling of comfort when they see them far into the future because it will make them think of that purity of their childhood.

I think about the present and how we get up each morning and go about the day, making a million little choices that don't mean a whole lot: what shall we have for dinner, have I paid that bill? Remember to call so-and-so. 1000 words a day. Collect the kids from school. And it all meshes into this big thing called everyday life.

I look to the future and wonder what the hell that's going to look like! I have no clue - all I know is that the weeks seem to be going by awfully fast and yes, this year my husband and I will have been together for TWENTY FOUR years! This figure just seems impossible. Then I imagine us maybe aged 90 and 94 respectively, talking about how we have been together for an age and we will be interviewed for a documentary. Maybe. And along the way we all just secretly hope that the bad stuff doesn't happen to us so that we get to carry on and be happy.

It's a peculiar thing.

I have to refrain from thinking too deeply about 'what it's all about' and instead cling to the day to day. A college submission due on Monday (3000 words). Soup for lunch (pea and leek). A night out in London tonight (Fulham wine bar). Getting my roots done next week (thank God). Half term looming (what shall I do with them?). Where shall we go on holiday in the summer? (my vote is Cape Cod). Waste a few hours online; scrolling here and there (Pinterest you are a time-suck). Really ought to finish that submission...

I hope this weekend finds you relaxed. Try not to think too much; note to self: I shall do the same!