The Port

6 months since my last post… and I’ll be honest with you, my most recent posts have been few and far between.

It’s been a tough year for me. Love has been difficult. Love for my partner, love for life and love for myself. For 7 months I navigated tormenting waters; with a lot of support, both personal and professional. About a month ago I reached a calm and sheltered port in my heart, from where I could (thankfully) plan the next part of my journey with openness, positivity and love.

But I haven’t done any planning. I haven’t moved forward one step from that place. At best, I’m still on the boat. I may have even started to float back out to sea.

Maybe I’m apathetic. Maybe I just feel like I need a break from the ‘thinking’, the ‘working’, the ‘navigating’. But that’s how I got into those waters in the first place. Being apathetic and/or refusing to ‘work’.

I made a commitment to my partner in that quiet, sunny, beautiful port. To ‘show up’ every day, to be on our Team and to always ‘do the hard work’. I haven’t kept my promises. I’ve let him down. I’ve let us down. I’ve let myself down.

I tell him often that he needs to look after himself, love himself, find his happiness so that we can look after each other, love each other and find happiness together as a couple and as a family. But I have not been ‘walking the walk’. I have focused on our relationship, on our family, and now on nothing. Forgetting about myself in the process.

I need to get out my oars (fresh air, meditation, avocados, creative endeavours and of course, yoga!), row my boat back to port and show-the-hell-up to my life.

 

Matsui Mix Tape

There are certain smells, sounds and tastes that can literally transport you back in time. For instance, when the weather is sunny but cold and the streets are quiet, it reminds me of home. Because home, to me, is a place my family moved to when I was 14 years old. We moved in December. It was cold, but dry and sunny (I previously lived in a place which was quite ‘dreich‘) and the streets where we lived were typically suburban, and a little quieter than I was used to.

Between the ages of 14 and 16, I was starting to think about boys, about life, about the future… I was given a Matsui Stereo System for Christmas. I had my own bedroom for the first time in my life and had chosen baby blue and white pin stripe wallpaper, white bed sheets (I still always have white bed sheets) and wooden floors with a white and blue IKEA rug (very matchy-matchy).

I would spend hours in my room staring out of the window, thinking, dreaming, self-analysing and having imaginary conversations with people (usually boys that I liked but who were in love with my friend). I often stayed up late to listen to the American Chart Show (my musical taste hasn’t always been eclectic – in my earlier years I was heavily influenced by time spent living near Detroit as a child… in fact, that influence reached far further than music… and still does to some extent).

I still happily participate in all of these behaviours when I have time on my hands 🙂

Anyway, back to the post in hand – feeling very nostalgic recently for those halcyon days of innocence, when the fate of my entire world depended on whether a boy would actually look at me or not, I made a mix tape! Well, it’s an iTunes playlist, but it would have been a mix tape if I still had my Matsui Stereo. And I thought, I’d share the first 3 songs with you, because they were (by a long stretch) the most played.

When I hear them, I close my eyes and I’m back in my room, looking out of the window. I can feel the floor beneath my feet, I can see the garden from my window, the weather looks cold but sunny. It is quiet (apart from the music), and my soul is smiling.

I hope you enjoy the mix as much as I do!

Matsui Mix Tape

  1. Tender Love – Force M.D.’s
  2. The Flame – Cheap Trick
  3. If You Were Here Tonight – Alexander O’Neal

My Birthday Gift

Gosh, I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since I last posted to my blog. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

I guess (I hope) I’ve been busy being present in my life rather than just typing about it. Not that it’s been a bed of roses – life never is. But the best and most beautiful roses need manure to grow, right? And by that, I don’t mean I’ve been standing knee high in poop, haha! It’s just been a rounded experience. It’s just been life.

In 3 days I will be 40 years old.

Those years have gone fast! But, I’m not sad or fearful about my birthday. I’m looking forward to it. I feel that 2014 is our year. And I already feel a sense of freedom. A freedom that I have earned from those 40 years of life; its ups, its downs, its lessons and its joys. A freedom that I unknowingly gifted to myself through acceptance. Acceptance of life, acceptance of humanity, acceptance of myself.

People asked me what presents I wanted for my birthday. After thinking about it, I realised, I want for nothing. I am where I wanted to be when I was 30. I have an amazing partner, I have 2 beautiful kids, a lovely home, a job that affords my life balance, great friends and strong family bonds. In short, I have true love.

What I didn’t realise at 30 was that I wasn’t ready for all of that. Even if I had all of those things 10 years ago, I would not have been happy. Because the glue that holds my world in place is the love I have for myself. And it has taken me more than the last 10 years to achieve that.

It is the greatest gift of all.

We’re not keeping up with the Kardashians, but that’s OK

My baby boy is nearly 1 year old. He was born on Father’s Day (UK) in 2012. We will be holding a small, intimate, family celebration this weekend. My sister and my Beloved’s sister are travelling up from London for the ‘event’. My BFF (yogaswerve) will be there. My brothers and my parents will also be joining us (along with significant others and dependant children, obviously).

I love family get togethers. I love family. I’ve written countless times about the importance of family to me.

I’ve also written of my rose-tinted view of my family.

I see my family as a Kardashian style unit. (Albeit, without the Momager and the millions of dollars in the bank). They hang out together. They have fun together. They help each other. They fight all the time, but then they talk about it and make up “like” minutes later. Say what you want about how they make their living, but as a family, I actually think they are quite good role models.

The truth is, that we’re just like any other family. We lead different lives. Some are separated by distance, but whether we live around the corner or 200 miles away, we’re still really bad at picking up a phone on a regular basis to ask how each other is doing. We are really bad at saying ‘I love you’. And we are really bad at talking through and resolving gripes, problems and serious issues. Not very Kardashian at all.

I maintain, though, that in a crisis, we are always there for each other and we stick together like glue.

We’ve had a couple of crisis points as a family, recently, and the observations noted above have all proven themselves to be true. To the point where sticking together has been difficult, given that some of the crisis that we have faced/are facing are ‘internal’ rather than ‘external’. I’m not saying that we’re not sticking together. I’m just saying it’s difficult.

So, I’m a little nervous about the weekend’s upcoming festivities. I doubt there is actually anything to worry about, because we are actually quite good at avoiding conflict and pretending everything is fine (well, I am). I do wish though, that there wasn’t so much of a stigma in my family about sharing your problems with the outside world. But I guess I have to respect the wishes of those whom I love most in the world and go along with it. (You’ll notice that I’m writing this without actually telling you anything).

Maybe the first step is to be able to talk about our problems with each other without fear of consequence. And we are all working on that, I think, in various break-out groups as well as the congregation as a whole.

My Beloved and I are one of those break-out groups. For our own benefit and for the benefit of our children. We want them to live life being open and honest with their emotions and themselves. To be able to communicate how they feel, good or bad. To be able to resolve issues, gripes and problems without fear. Most of all, I want them to know that they are loved, no matter how they feel and they can talk to us or each other about anything.

As for my family and our impending get together this weekend, we are working on getting better. Each of us in our own way. And we are doing that because we love each other. And if we have love, what else matters?

Disconnected

Forgive me readers, for I have lapsed. It has been 1 calendar month since my last blog post.

And in my last blog post I shared with you the challenges I (and my family) were wrestling with, due to my having to travel for work lately. Well, the travelling came to an end a couple of weeks ago, expedited (I think) by a case of the Chickenpox in my 2 year old. So, I’m almost back to my happy equilibrium.

I say almost, because I find myself (as I seem to quite regularly, these days) with the need to process a handful of seemingly unconnected thoughts currently bouncing around in my head, in my heart, in my soul, even.

And so, I take to the keyboard, once more, in pursuit of catharsis.

My first thought, is that I am tired. We all are. My 2 year old has had a tough couple of weeks and has been at home with us (see above), my 10 month old still refuses to sleep through the night, work has been crazy, busy and stressful and of course there was the travelling.

You may or may not be familiar with the effects of sleep deprivation, but it pretty much screws up your ability to function on a daily basis and certainly messes with your ability to think straight. Therefor, your normal world view gets skewed into something more akin to a fairground Hall of Mirrors than a direct reflection of reality. And so, to give clear context for the following 4 thoughts, I felt it was necessary to mention this first.

Secondly, my Beloved and I have lapsed in our efforts to spend quality time together and focus on our relationship (i.e. me and him, as opposed to mummy and daddy to 2 young kids, lots of bills to pay and chores to organise). I am just as guilty as he is. I have not taken the opportunity, during the little time we have alone in the evenings on weekdays, to say “hey, why don’t we turn off the TV, put down our phones and listen to some music or just sit and talk. I want to get to know you even better than I do now”. I have not made time or arrangements for date nights, I have not cast my laptop aside and spontaneously called out to him “let’s do lunch! come on, get your coat on, let’s go!”. I have not done any of these things for some time.

Thirdly, I have neglected to take time for myself. I have neglected to shower daily (gross, I know). I have neglected to do my hair. To put on make up. To paint my nails. To do yoga. To breathe in and to breathe out.

And so, I have left myself feeling empty. And it is needless. Because fulfilment is completely within my own control.

What is it that ‘They’ say? “You cannot control all the things that happens in your life, but you can control how you feel about them”. I think ‘They’ are right.

‘They’ also say, “If you don’t like something, change it”.

I need to reconnect with my Beloved, on all levels. I need to reconnect with myself. So, I’m going to get my finger out. I’m going to utilise my (allegedly) legendary organisation skills and make some immediate changes that will take me closer to my 2013 goal, on a personal level.

My first step will be out into the sunshine, to close my eyes and breathe.

Book Club

I’ve been inspired to pick up a book and read (an actual book with actual paper pages). Strangely, I’ve been inspired almost exactly at the same time from two different sources. Firstly, there was my Twitter buddy (@billy_mccallum), who’s been reading War and Peace and tweeting a synopsis of the plot lines as he goes. I never thought I could read a book as long as War and Peace, but his ingenuity with 140 characters makes the story seem very accessible. And then a suggestion from my Beloved, to turn off the TV for one night per week, turn on some relaxing music, read and talk. He’d picked up on something I’d mentioned in the passing about wanting to read more. How thoughtful!

So, I’ve started reading. As has my Beloved. Not War and Peace, but a fairly lengthy tale, and one that I have read before. A story that I love. In fact, I would probably say it’s my favourite book of all time (so far – I don’t read that much). The Count of Monte Cristo. The original (though, I’m sure even it is based on another original) tale of love, loss and rebirth. And I’m tweeting my synopsis (though not nearly as amusingly as Billy.)

Bear with me, whilst I digress a little… Another little hobby that I’ve been working on recently, is developing my family tree (more of that in another blog). The information that I am coming across is fascinating. But what really strikes me a general realisation about the world and human nature.

The story in the book, the stories I have discovered in my Family Tree and the stories I have lived in my own life, can all be threaded together by similar themes. Young love, loss, greed, lust, injustice, unrequited love, “illegitimate” children, “living in sin”, birth, death, relationship breakdown, mental illness… the list goes on and on…

But despite ideas held firm by my parents and grandparents, of things being different or better in the “Good Old Days”. They were just the same. Because fundamentally, human nature has not changed much over the last few centuries. And every generation lives through the same trials and tribulations, the same highs and lows. That’s life.

And that’s one of the wonderful facets of books. Some books offer escape, some knowledge. And many offer re-assurance that we are not alone, that someone else has walked this path before us and survived.

Another year has gone by, and what have I learned?

Today is my birthday. I’m not looking for felicitations but (as it does for many in my stage of life) today, my train of thought has hurtled out of the station and is racing to an unknown destination.

My birthday used to be a REALLY BIG deal to me. And I’ve blogged about this before. It was my one day in the year where I got to be the centre of attention (in reality, I was quite the attention seeker and so managed to manoeuvre myself to the centre on quite a lot of days). But fairytale dreams of Prince Charming, lavish gifts and generally just being adored, built up horrendously unachievable expectations in my mind (Damn you Disney/Hollywood RomComs!).

I have no expectations this year, in fact I can’t even be bothered celebrating. I told my Beloved in advance I was going to “save it up” for next year – the big 4.0. (Not really sure what “it” is – I guess it’s any amount of energy I can muster…) I also told him that I wanted 2 things for my birthday – 1) space, time all on my own and 2) a shower. I should really have added a full night’s sleep to the birthday list but I’d have to actually decant to another house to get that so, it seemed more than a tad selfish.

So, I’m sitting here feeling fresher than a daisy, alone, writing, with music playing loud and not another human being in sight. Bliss!

Don’t get me wrong – in about an hour, I’ll be bored. I’ll be glued to NurseryCam and texting my Beloved telling him I miss him like crazy and what’s his expected ETA. (Tempramental – I know. It’s just one of a long list of adjectives on the list of words that, I have come to realise, describe me to a tee :-)) 

But for now, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet and I wouldn’t swap it for an Omega watch even if you paid me. Because I don’t need the Hollywood dream anymore. I am happier than I ever imagined I could be. And it’s all because of 3 things;

1) Family – My Beloved, my 2 beautiful babies, my Parents, my siblings;
2) Friends – I don’t have a wide network of friends but I have a few close ones that reciprocate the love and trust I have for them and
3) Security – I feel secure. Not because I have millions in the bank (no where near it). Not because I have a fancy house with state of the art alarm systems. But because I feel loved. Truly loved. And I am finally beginning to understand who I am and accepting myself for who I am. And that has only been possible because I have 1) and 2) above.

How times have changed.

*The train of thought has now reached it’s destination*

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.

My Top Tens

Today, I bored my followers to tears on Twitter with my Top Ten Smells of all time. I was about to then begin listing my top ten other sense pleasers but thought that they’d probably read enough for one day. So I decided I’d list them on the old blog-a-doodle.

So, here they are, in no particular order (and I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that for completeness I have also included my Top Ten Smells);

[caveat: like most things in my transient mind, these things will probably change from time to time, do feel free to leave a comment and remind me of what I’ve missed :-)]

Top Ten: Smell

  • Freshly brewed coffee
  • Just cut grass
  • Fresh Basil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Freshly Baked Bread
  • A Barbecue
  • Fresh Coriander
  • The Christmas Tree in your home
  • A new car
  • Fresh Mint
Top Ten: Sound

  • Waves meeting the beach
  • Birds tweeting/chirping/singing
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Silence
  • My baby girl ‘chatting’
  • Tall grasses ‘swishing’ in the breeze
  • Thunder
  • The distant rise and fall of thrill seekers squeals at a theme park
  • Loved ones voices at the other end of the phone
  • The word ‘Brilliant’
Top Ten: Feel

  • Freshly laundered sheets on the bed
  • Water on the skin
  • Hugs
  • Grass under your bare feet
  • Silk
  • Taking your heels off after a long day/night
  • A warm blanket on a cold night
  • Popping candy on your tongue
  • Kisses from my beloved
  • My baby girl in my arms
Top Ten: Taste

  • Ice Cream
  • Apple & Cinammon anything
  • My beloveds Lasagne (the BEST, I swear!)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Milk & Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Lobster/Langoustines from the barbie
  • Caprese Salad on a hot day
  • Creamy blue cheese
  • Mint tea
  • Apple Martinis
Top Ten: Sight

  • My baby girl
  • Blue blue sky
  • Smiles
  • A twinkling blanket of pure white snow
  • Tigers (such majestic animals)
  • Flowers in full bloom
  • My little cat snoozing
  • Dancing (anyone, any kind)
  • The haze of heat you can see on a hot hot day
  • Rain on the window (when you’re dry on the inside!)

Always

Image by Anna Cervova

Inspired to try to capture the extent of my feeling, I penned this for my Baby Girl:

From the moment
That you came into my life
I have been immeasurably thankful

From the moment
That I laid eyes on you
My soul has been deeply humbled

Every moment I am wakeful
Every moment that I sleep
My heart is forever hopeful

Every moment of our future
Every moment of our past
I know that I am blessed

Your happiness is my everything
My everything is you

My dear little Strawbug,
Precious and true,
Know in your heart, my love for you
Always