Bucket List Version 2.0

Back in 2010, I posted my bucket list. Knowing myself, as I do, I realised that the list would probably change. Nearly 2 years later, and armed with a visual version on Pinterest, I thought it would be interesting to compare the current list with the previous….

My (original) Bucket List*
– Own a house in the South of France, with lots of outside space for kids to run around and not too far from the sea – Still on the list. But have added that I’d like to run it as a retreat for yoga and painting.
– Have kids… for the running around outside of the house! CHECK!
– Spend weeks at a time at said SoF house – Still on the list
– Work from home with flexible hours (i.e. I say when I work, maybe blog for a living!) – CHECK! (not the blogging for a living part, but the working from home, flexible hours, work/life balance)
– See Tigers in India – Still on the list
– Dance at Pineapple Dance Studios (Anyone else loving Louis on Sky1?) – No longer on the list. It seems my love for Louis was in the end, superficial and fleeting. Sorry Louis!
– Go on a mega-luxury blow out holiday somewhere hot – just once – just the two of us – Still on the list, in fact my pin board elaborates with suggestions like Las Vegas or Paris.
– Go skiing, complete with log cabin and roaring log fire (will also need to add ski lessons here!) – Still on the list
– Celebrate my birthday at the Carnival in Rio de Janiero – Still on the list
– Win Strictly Come Dancing (OK, I know you have to be a celeb to get in in the first place, but I might get spotted at Pineapple, you never know!) – Still on the list, have even chosen a dance partner!
– Visit Japan – bullet train, Tokyo, Kyoto (staying in a traditional Ryokan, see a Geisha show and Sumo) – Still on the list
– Go to Paris for the weekend on EuroStar (yes, even though I might spend half my trip sub Channel – as long as it’s 1st class sweetie!) – Still on the list
– Buy something from Cartier – Not on my pinterest list. And reading this has started an internal debate. Can I get back to you on this one?
– Own ruby shoes (real ones… rubies, I mean, not shoes… well shoes as well obviously!) – My baby girl bought me ruby shoes for my first Mothers day. I wore them to my Beloved’s 40th Birthday. They’re the best. I wouldn’t wish for any other pair now. CHECK!
– Charter a yacht and spend a week sailing round the med – Still on the list
– See the Grand Prix at Monaco – Still on the list (but needs to be added to the pin board)
– Take a trip on the Orient Express – Still on the list
– Always be in love (OK, pinched that one from Brooke [Burke] – see previous post – how lovely would that be?!) – Still on the list, at the top, in fact
– Have happy kids that get what they want out of their lives – Still on the list, at the very very top

Well, it looks like I haven’t changed my mind as much as I thought I would. And what really astounds me is that I have checked off 3 things! One of them being the most important and greatest achievements of my life. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself.

And have I added any new items to the list? Of course!

– Go skinny dipping (Yep, uhuh, never done that. Shameful, I know)
– Ballroom dancing in the Tower Ballroom (or any other original ballroom) like Fred & Ginger, beautiful gown, gorgeous jewels, big band… The whole kit and kaboodle experience.
– Have a black and white portrait taken that makes me look like a 1930s Screen Goddess
– Learn to make pottery (this actually should have been on the original list as I’ve been wanting to do this for about 12 years now)
– Take a spiritual retreat on an Indian Ashram

Quite a diverse list, I think you’ll agree. But then that’s me. I always thought I should have been born a Gemini.

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Contemplation

The year is drawing to a close. Christmas is within touching distance. And my annual period of contemplation has presented itself ahead of it’s normal ETA.

My mind has wandered often during recent weeks and even more so in recent days. It considers becoming a yoga teacher. It reflects on life as a stay at home mum versus life as a working mum. It (farcically) wonders how it can be more present. It checks out bigger houses in “better” areas that we can’t afford. It even goes as far as imagining relocating to sunnier climes. It contemplates – as it does every year – the future.

Not just my future, my children’s future and the future of the world we live in. As, in my opinion, those three things are inextricably linked. I, like many others across the world, feel a deep deep sadness when I think about the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conneticut. And I am horrified by the seemingly vast number of crimes against children in my own country. Even if it was just one crime, I would still be appalled. And I search my mind, my heart and my soul. How can we keep our children safe? Where can we raise them to ensure that they will have a long, happy and healthy life? And I wish I had foolproof answers. But, I don’t.

There is something about the end of one year and the beginning of the next, that prods my inner dreamer to wake up and make some plans. Before daily routine suppresses its enthusiasm and sends it back into a dark quiet corner somewhere. It strikes me that, this year, I have experienced more endings and beginnings than usual, and that maybe, this is the reason for my process starting early.

Experience has taught me that if I allow my thoughts to find their own path, they usually introduce themselves in illuminated fashion. And so I find myself practising patience (as I often ask Strawbug to do – neither of us are very good at it, I hastened to add), waiting for the big reveal.

Incomprehensible

This is the most difficult post I’ve ever written. Somehow, more personal and more raw than anything I’ve shared about myself. And yet, this is about something I can not really take in. And this is not about me.

I’m not even sure what I’m going to say, but I feel as if I need to write down the commotion of thoughts in my head, to somehow make sense of it all. If that’s at all possible.

I read two pieces of bad news today, within a couple of hours of each other. And disturbingly, both almost the same.

Two of my friends have each lost a child.

The first piece of news I received via email. Because the mother – a very close friend of more than 10 years – could not bear to speak the words out loud. She was in the process of losing her long awaited miracle. A 5th attempt at IVF, and most advanced to date, had failed. As soon as I read “I have some bad news“, I started to cry. I knew what was coming next and I didn’t want to read on. Devastated.

And if that was what I was feeling, I couldn’t even imagine what she must be feeling.

The second piece of news I read on Twitter, as that is how I know my other friend. Someone whom I’ve never met, but has connected with me and supported me for over 2 years online. She lost her twenty eight year old daughter. A friend had posted the news on her timeline.

Two mothers. Horrifying loss. Incomprehensible pain.

As a friend, as a mother, as a human being, all I want to do is put my arms around them and make it better. But I can’t. I don’t think anyone can. All I can do is wait and be available, if either of them ever, ever get to a point where they actually want to talk about it with me. Be it at 3am, during a conference call with a Client or during the nursery run. And be as sensitive as I can be, and give them space to grieve, if they don’t.

Babies cry, Marie!

You know, I thought it would be a breeze this time. I mean, I’m practically an expert now, right?

Wrong!

The last few days have been a bit of a challenge on the Mother ship. My baby boy has not been himself. Usually, a laid back happy little soul, he’s done nothing but cry. And, try as I might to comfort him, nothing can ease his sorrow.

Roll back 2 years and we were very used to pacing the floor with a screaming baby, whom we could not comfort and could not for the life of us understand. “Have you done the checklist?“, “Yes, twice. I just don’t know what’s bothering her“. Cue Grandma; “aww, she’s just not herself today” or worse “this is just her grizzly time, they all have it“. What??!! That’s not good enough, I NEED AN ANSWER!! We were tearing our hair out.

Granted, this time around we are significantly less stressed about the inexplicable sobbing. But, that doesn’t stop the despair when you can’t make it all better. My BFF, yogaswerve, in an attempt to make me feel better, once told me “Babies cry, Marie!” It’s true, at the time (with rivers of tears and probably a dribble of snot rolling down my face – hey, I was distraught, I had the Baby Blues) I hadn’t really appreciated just how much a baby cries. Or, probably more accurately, how helpless and useless the crying makes you feel.

So, here we are again, feeling helpless and useless. Thinking, we should have our license by now and wondering if we’ll ever “pass”. And then it hits me. We will NEVER get our full license. We will forevermore bear the L plates we were handed in January 2010. Because, every day is a first. We’ve never raised a 2 year old, we’ve never raised a kid at school, we’ve never had to worry about teenage angst. And every day brings something new.

And we don’t really get the bonus of experience with our baby boy. Because, he’s so different to his sister. The only thing we do have is a better understanding of that phrase that rings in my ears; “Babies cry, Marie!” And if I ever write the book of my blog, that is what it will be called!

A Healthy Idea for 2013

I’ve been reading a lot of the Big Idea 2013 entries on LinkedIn recently. I particularly liked the post by Gretchen Rubin about Choosing the Bigger Life. In it she describes pinching an idea from her sister, which approaches new years resolutions in a different way.

I’ve tried new years resolutions before, I try them every year. And, without fail, they’re out the window, round the corner, down the street and into the sea before the 12th January. In fact, I penned a little ditty committing myself to my resolutions on the internet 2 years ago – you can read that here. You won’t be surprised to know that it includes re-starting Yoga… needless to say by the end of Jan….

So, back to Gretchen’s idea. She pinched it from her sister, so, I figure I’m safe to pinch it from her.

She chooses a single word or phrase to represent a theme that will overarch the entire year. Like, Free Time or Awareness or Peace or Bigger (which is Gretchen’s theme for 2013). Gretchen does this in addition to making resolutions, I don’t think I’ll bother. Seems a safe bet that it’s a waste of time (for me, personally).

But I have chosen a theme. Healthy.

My big idea for 2013 is to ‘get healthy’. Not in the lose “14 stone in a day!!!” sense. (Anyone not familiar with the work of Peter Kay, should most definitely check him out). But in the sense of balance. Healthy emotionally, healthy financially (wouldn’t that be a boon!), healthy mentally and yes, healthy physically too (eat well, exercise – all the things “I don’t have time for” now).

I’m hoping that with less rigidity and a bigger picture approach, I’ll have more success than I’ve had in the past. But, don’t dismay, one of the best ways to achieve great emotional, mental and physical health is Yoga. And so, I will endeavour – for the gazillionth time – to start practising again!

Be brave

My baby boy has a hospital appointment today. It’s a follow up test from an infection he contracted when he was 10 days old. I’m dreading it. It’s an intrusive test.

I’m not brave by nature. I tend to shy away from confrontation, well, confrontation from someone else that I’m not prepared for. Fight or Flight? I’m probably 20% Fight, 80% Flight. But that’s an improvement. (caveat: not that I think 100% fight is the right approach either)

Explaining the world, and rationalising baseless fear, for an anxious 2 year old, has forced me to think about my own fear. I’ve had to defer to the left side of my brain on many occasions when, in her shoes, I would myself probably succumb to the right. It’s difficult to explain to someone with little or no reference points for life, that some things are dangerous and therefore she should rightly be wary of them, yet other things – unknown things – are often nothing to be scared of at all.

In the case of today’s tests, my fears and anxiety are not groundless. They are based on 5 days spent in hospital with a tiny baby, needles and tubes everywhere, being poked and prodded by doctors and potentially having the worst infection a child can have (thank heavens it turned out to be something slightly less sinister). And more than anything just wanting to pick him up, hold him and make it all go away. Which of course, I can’t.

I can’t even begin to imagine how parents of kids with severe or terminal illness cope.

So, I find myself experiencing and learning alongside my kids. As, by way of example, I have no choice but to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. When it comes to being brave, it is not being fearless that counts, it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Hello (again) world!

So, here I am again, siting in front of the WordPress editor, full of disconnected thoughts and ideas, desperate to say something interesting, witty, clever and downright ROTFL… but not quite knowing where to start.

I know… I’ll cheat. Copy, paste, voilà!

Here’s one I made earlier in true Blue Peter fashion. A post from my old blog which might give you a bit of an insight into my psyche (if you’re into that sort of thing) and also explains the title…

Well, it’s been nearly 2 weeks since my last blog. Wow! Isn’t it a pain in the ass when life gets in the way?! I’d like to be able to say that something major had happened. Like, I’d been kidnapped by aliens and only just got back from Mars, but I can’t. Truth is work got really busy and I let it take over my life. I’m sure I’m not alone.

How many times a year do women’s lifestyle magazines run an article on the elusive work/life balance? And to be fair, I’m sure a lot of men out there feel the same way. Though, I don’t read men’s lifestyle magazines, so I’m not sure whether it’s a hot topic in those publications. You know, I was really enjoying blogging and for the first week of my “absence”, I really thought this blogging lark is hard! You have to keep on top of it all the time! For the second week, I didn’t even think about blogging. Until yesterday.

We had a very lazy morning yesterday (French coffee and croissants in bed) and then spent the afternoon with friends drinking tea and eating cake. I was lucky enough to have dinner cooked for me and then I spent the evening watching my favourite TV show of all time, whilst drinking a really nice glass of red wine. And I realised, it wasn’t the blogging that was difficult. It was making time that was hard.

I love blogging! And during my first week in blog-land, none of it was a chore, every second was exciting. I couldn’t wait to get home and write something down, share my thoughts with the world wide web. I was always thinking about it and constantly scribbling down ideas when they came into my head. I was consciously making time and it was easy.

So, what was different about the 2nd and 3rd week? In all honesty? I’m not sure. I admit I’ve not always been the most motivated person on the planet. Always well intentioned but not always a “completer-finisher”. You’d need both hands and a foot to count the number of times my good friend and I have started Yoga classes (and subsequently given up about 2 or 3 weeks later) yet I love Yoga too! Maybe it’s priorities, maybe it’s society, maybe it’s just me. But, (and this probably won’t be the only time I say this) I’m going to start blogging again! Wish me luck! 🙂