The Scent of A Man

Morning Noon & Night

“All male pheromones are not equally attractive”

All men are not equally attractive, I’m sure the same can be said of women too. It fascinates me how we are attracted to some people and not others.

Take my ex husband (go on, be my guest) at some point I was attracted to him but these days I cannot see how that was even possible. So apart from the lying and cheating what changed? I am pretty sure that we are genetically programmed to value those people who are just plain nice to us. So when they stop being nice, they stop being attractive. It would be fair to say that I stopped being nice to him when he couldn’t support me in my grief. A man who couldn’t care at that level just stopped being attractive to me. So he went and found someone who would be nice to him (he was a type 4 spouse). Simple.

My friends are nice to me. Some of them I love, some I adore, some I like to spend time with. I don’t want to sleep with them though. What makes that difference?

When I became single after being married for 21 years, dating was terrifying. I had two young children had been through a bit of an ordeal (my father’s death, husband’s infidelity and other stuff not for sharing here), but I absolutely knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.

Internet dating? It seemed like a reasonable solution but I have to say, what a struggle that was! You look at pictures, rather like a clothing catalogue and decide if you like them, then order them, then try them on for size (metaphorically, of course). I was lonely NOT desperate! How on earth do people think that because you ‘dated’ them that you want sex with them!

I took a different tactic and focused far more on trying to read between the lines of their profiles, decipher what people were trying to say and what they were trying not to say. I found a description that I liked. I didn’t like his photograph though. I decided that I would only date someone who was prepared to invest the time in getting to know me online. Someone with patience. Someone who I could ask lots and lots of questions of, in a way that you couldn’t with a face to face meeting that early on in a relationship/friendship. By the time we decided to meet, some six weeks later, I already knew that I liked him.

When I met him, he smelled good, really, really good. That was probably enough for me. I love this man, I loved him more deeply than any other man I have ever known. He was kind, he was gentle, caring, compassionate & considerate. He was nice to me. All of the time. NO exceptions.

So there are two factors here. He was nice to me and he smelled good.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself in the same situation again. Single, I think. I think? Yes, because I don’t really know for sure. But I do know, sure as hell, I am not going through internet dating again.

So rather than looking for just a man, I am looking for a person who can be present in my life, who is nice to me and who smells good!

You’d think it would be simple. Apparently not!

Weeds & Wishes

Ebony Makes a Wish
Ebony Makes a Wish

When you were younger did you blow on dandelion seeds? Did you ever think to wonder why we do that? For me, it was very simple, my mum told me to and she would say ‘make a wish’ and as a young child I would close my eyes and wish hard. No one could know your wishes and I don’t remember if any came true but the simple act of wishing always gave a moment of hope.

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago by a friend posting a picture of her little girl on Facebook and automatically I posted ‘make a wish’. It wasn’t a ritual she was familiar and it made me think about why we do this.Dandelion FB

Here are a few things I have found out about these weeds:

Can you blow all the seeds off with one blow? Then you are loved with a passionate love. Do seeds remain? Then your lover has reservations about the relationship. Seeds remain on the globe? Then you are not loved at all, or very little.

At various points in my life, I am sure that had I blown on a dandelion I could have achieved all three of these results. I am grateful to have known truly passionate love and I would like to think that I will know that kind of love again. Not passionate as in all consuming, but passionate, intense emotion. The other lovers remain untended and do not grow or flourish.

For telling the time: Legend has it that the number of breaths it takes to blow off all the seeds of a dandelion that has gone to seed, is the hour number.

Time passes, wounds heal, and grief subsides but never really leaves us. But like the dandelion clock, if we blow hard enough we can appreciate the seeds that flourish later. After all a weed is just a flower that has mastered survival skills!

The dandelion is called the rustic oracle; its flowers always open about 5am and shut at 8pm, serving the shepherd for a clock.

I’d love to know if this is true! I like to think of shepherds clocking off duty by dandelions.

The dandelion makes a good barometer, when the flowers have seeded and are in their fluffy stage, you can tell if the weather is going to be wet or fine. In fine weather the ball extends to full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella.

Haha, this is very much like me! When the going is good I feel that I can extend my mood to others and feel open to challenges, ready for anything; but completely close off to everyone around me when the going gets tough. This is my own personal coping mechanism although I have got much better at dealing with this recently.

Folklore says that blowing the seeds off a dandelion is said to carry your thoughts and dreams to your loved one.

Far better to share your thoughts and dreams personally with your loved one! They are not mind readers. However, that said, I would do anything to be able to send my thoughts and dreams to those not here.

Dandelion clocks are said to transport fairies, and as a reward for blowing on the clock and sending a fairy on its way you can make a wish.

This is my personal favourite. Now think about it…you blow on a dandelion and might release fifty plus fairies. In my mind the fairies look like these sculptures – Fairies Dancing with Dandelions

So when you see dandelions do you see weeds or wishes?

Photo courtesy of @Anniewebbo
Photo courtesy of @Anniewebbo

Autumn

& Everything it Means to Me.

I do not know why, but my mood changes in the Autumn, more so than any other season. I notice the onset of the season and stop and think about many things.

I am sure that part of my thought process relates to the fact that my birthday is in October and it’s a time to reflect on the years that have passed and those ahead. I know most people would tend to do this over New Year but I try & ignore that celebration altogether.

The last time ever spoke to my Dad will be 10 years ago this Autumn and it was my birthday, I have mentioned this before. When things like this happen on normally happy occasions, you can never let the day go by without thinking and reflecting. I adored my Dad and I only wish that my own children could have experienced that with their own father. I felt safe with him, I felt protected and loved even into my adulthood. He always had my back no matter what.

I also met my (missing) partner in October, actually on the anniversary of my Dad’s death. I have pondered this coincidence many, many times! Since starting this blog I have tried many times to openly express how I felt (still feel) about the gift of his love but I do not have the words yet. I hope that one day I do.

If you have been following my journey you will know that I started writing for therapy for myself, to become more open and (re) learn how to let people into my own personal space. It has worked too.

I have learned that although the leaves fall, the new growth will appear. In the last few months I have made more new friends, received so much support and found some like minded people who interact and seem to enjoy what I have to say. I am beginning to find my happiness again I must say I like it when I catch myself smiling.

with kind thanks to @pixodentist for permission to use this beautiful photograph
with kind thanks to @pixodentist for permission to use this beautiful photograph

Pondering the Purpose of Slugs

Yesterday didn’t end well, I had issues with my ex during the evening. I got into my nightwear and decided to put the rubbish out. On my way to the bin, barefoot, I stepped on a slug. I emailed a friend and finished off saying “and yet the world still turns” This was her response…

Oh my !
That definitely counts as a ‘not ok’ sort of day.

Yes the world still turns- but how dare it when slugs and exes join forces against you.

Still, as we know slugs and exes occupy a similar place on the evolutionary scale and are better off ignored or fed to birds or even drowned in beer- who cares as long as they don’t impact on those we love.

Thinking of you and very much hoping today is slug free xxx

It diffused everything!

(No picture on this post because slugs are gross)

Friends – I Bet You Think This Blog Post is About You!

Writing this blog and joining Twitter was my way of trying to expand my network of friends or at the very least learn how to reach out to others. As a single mother over the past nine, nearly 10 years I have been responsible for my children 24/7, 365 days a year and opportunities to meet new people are few and far between, I don’t get alternate weekends off like some divorced parents do!

At times of stress and emotional turmoil I withdraw from contact with others and the last 10 years or so have been full of stressful, emotional events. Without a doubt this started with my father’s death. It was sudden, shocking and very unexpected. I withdrew from my then husband and this behaviour was undoubtedly a contributory factor in his affair that followed. This is the part that I take full responsibility for.

From then on my withdrawal was like a snowball effect. The other woman was known to us and one day I even spoke to her and commented that her ‘new man’ must be good for her as she was looking glowing and well. Why is the wife the last to know? My self imposed alienation from my circle of so called friends (so many of them had known of the affair and not told me or even hinted) just grew & grew as I tried to escape the gossip and keep my pain private. I value the people in my life highly, but I value trust and loyalty too.

This isn’t a poor me post though.

There are always friends that you haven’t met just waiting to be found. When this gossip and speculation by the Playground Mafia was rife, one person who I had never spoken to before made the effort to talk to me every single school day and if she didn’t collect her four year old daughter, then her older seventeen year old daughter took her place. They were both friendly faces in a sea of people who I no longer trusted. Ten years later I am still in contact with them both and I remain incredibly grateful that they reached out.

My personal circumstances also resonated with someone who I met at the same time through my work. We spent many evenings chatting online about partners, life, sadness and eventually dating. Without his support and encouragement I would never have had the courage to set up my online dating profile, met my partner and experienced the love we shared. He’s also held firm as a friend despite moving thousands of miles away and has remotely ‘been there’ for me over the last couple of years since my partner went to work in a war zone and has not been seen since.

Then there was a fellow ‘dance mum’, who I had previously passed the time of day with, she was also experiencing divorce. We have shared so many similar life events since (apart from the one where she gets married) and have, I am sure, many yet to share!

What about when I became ill and ended up in hospital, there was the friend and her husband who stepped in, visited me, taxied my Mum to hospital to see me all during the extreme winter of 2010/11? Not only that, they offered me work afterwards enabling me to escape the corporate job that was making me more and more unhappy every single day. Their entire family, although we see less of them now, has been rock solid for me and my children.

So my friendship circle got pruned. But like the overgrown shrubs in my garden that I mercilessly and viciously attacked earlier this year there are new shoots sprouting again in places where you wouldn’t think possible.

It’s very true that strangers are friends that you haven’t met yet.

WP_000061 (2)(taken on ‎21 ‎August ‎2012, ‏the last full day that I spent with my partner)

A stranger reached out to me recently and gave me hope that there are still new friends to be made. I can already feel the difference that this one gesture has bought me, some of the unhappiness has lifted and life looks more positive. It gives me more confidence to make bolder moves towards others that seem to be offering friendship where perhaps I haven’t been very open.

These people change your life and sometimes they don’t have a clue how much.

Family Ticket

Why are family tickets mostly available for 2 adults and 2 children?

I appreciate that offering a discount is a good thing, but how about just reducing prices generally? What about proportionately reducing entrance fees the more people that you have in your party?

On a recent day out we decided that the historical venue that we wanted to visit was really just too expensive for us and over lunch we discussed the pros and cons of reduced entrance fees and the undoubtedly high cost of opening stately homes, castles and places of interest to the public. Is it just me or are days out just becoming prohibitively expensive?

I think it’s really sad. My son is a visual learner and these kind of days out can increase his knowledge of say, history, in a way that he really enjoys. It enthuses him and inspires his desire to learn more.

My family does consist of two adults now, it’s just that one is my daughter, yet we are still very much a family, we just don’t ‘fit’ the prescribed format to qualify for discounted tickets! Strangely enough, my son is also classed as an adult at some theme parks and also on some forms of transport. He has also reached the age where it seems I now need to buy him adult clothing (oh and pay the increased tax on them too)!

Life is complicated enough. Families come in all shapes and sizes and children should be classed as such until they are legally adult. End of rant.

More to Life Than School

I’m going to begin this with a caveat; these are my opinions, on my blog and I am sure that some people will disagree with me! Bring it on!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been faced with some challenges (nothing new there!), mostly surrounding teenagers and this time not mine. It’s given me the opportunity to look sensibly at the way I have bought up my kids. I say sensibly because I have found that being a single parent leaves you, most of the time, wracked with doubt over your decisions mainly because you have no one close to bounce decisions off of.

My daughter, just reaching her last teenage year has been particularly vocal regarding my parental skills during this time and I have really appreciated it. Instead of looking at what I may have done wrong, I have been able to look and see what I have done right.

I have had the pleasure of seeing so many teenagers come through my door, family members, friends of family and even the odd waif and stray. I also volunteer with a group of 10-18 year olds and whilst I am not what I would consider a natural mother, I do enjoy the company and discussions this age group can start. Given the opportunity they are a passionate group of people.

And there’s the key… GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY!

It can go so very wrong with teenagers and my recent experiences have made me try and see why this is. I think (yep, this is only my thought, there is no scientific evidence to back any of this up) it goes right when children are allowed to find their “Thing”. Their “Thing”- the one thing they are good at, the one thing that gives them pleasure, that gives them a reason to get out of bed, that gives them belief in themselves, that gives them confidence to face the world.

This is not often found in schools (yep, there I go again, spouting my opinions). Michael Gove (MP for Surrey Heath) was sacked as Education Secretary this week and I could not be more pleased. He is married to Sarah Vine, columnist for The Daily Mail (urgh!). I find their xenophobic reporting about as vile as I perceive Michael Gove to be.

Children really need opportunities to thrive outside of school, especially for those where school and academic qualifications are difficult. If they don’t have interests outside of school, where do they turn when school isn’t working? When school friendships fall apart? When family life is challenging? When the pressure to achieve is insurmountable? It’s at this point that the teenagers in question fall apart, they fall through the net or they hit the tabloid headlines for one reason or another.

Not all children can achieve the coveted A’s or A*’s, that doesn’t mean they are not worthy individuals, but that certainly seems to be the ethos of education these days, especially under Mr Gove’s period in office.

Do high scoring GCSE’s make you a better person than the child who put in 100% effort and achieved a D or an E? Of course it doesn’t! Children are being drilled into thinking Results = Success and this is wrong. Effort = Success and you cannot possibly measure everyone using the same scale.

I have been on a low income for many years and yet I have given my children opportunities; you can find a way to do it if you are motivated enough. My daughter is passionate about dance, she found her “Thing” early on. My son has tried a few things and may be on the cusp of finding his. In both instances the benefit of friends and mentors outside of school and the successes (and failures) outside of school have helped them achieve in school and learn how to cope. By achieve, I mean to the best of their ability where they have worked hard and put in the effort and gained the results.

They have coped with the split of their parents, they have coped with difficult friendship issues, my son has coped with his diagnosis of autism and they have coped with family losses.

There is more to LIFE than school and as adults we know that, so why do we allow others to make our children think there is no life outside of school?

Helping kids (yours or others) find their “Thing” is about as rewarding an experience as you can possibly find. Some teachers are very, very good at this and they should be revered. I have been lucky enough to have encountered a few of these during my time as a parent. Of these excellent teachers, they have all without exception supported my child’s outside interests.

Makes you think. There really is more to life than school.

School and Life

What’s Your Social Story?

Social Media Cans

If you have any contact with a child with Autism you will be all to familiar with the term Social Story, but that’s not really what this post is about. However, these days, we all have a social story of a very different kind. The story that we set out to show the world via Social Media.

The end of my marriage coincidentally was the beginning of my social media story. It all began when my daughter wanted to have a Facebook account. The only way I felt comfortable enough to let her do that was by having one myself and ensuring that I had access to her password and could monitor and close the account down should I feel that it was ever being used inappropriately.

I quite like Facebook, or possibly did like Facebook. Life as a single parent is pretty isolating at times and more so when you have a child with additional needs and also have very little money for babysitters. It means you don’t get out much! Facebook was useful for keeping a virtual eye on teenage habits (the trick is to watch & not comment) it also enabled me to keep in touch with friends, some who lived many miles away and some who lived in different countries altogether. What I hated was the teenage idea that more Facebook friends meant that you were more popular.

I “cull” my Facebook account quite regularly, it might seem harsh to de-friend people, but if they are just there sitting on the periphery of my life and have no interest in interacting with me what’s the point? It’s the equivalent of the friend that never responds to your invites and doesn’t call you back. There comes a point where you have to let them go.

Linkedin is another social media site where I have had quite a lot of experience. I was asked by a friend to work with her on a project on Linkedin. It involved me working from home (perfect for childcare) and coincided with me needing to change my job from a well paid role with an IT company where I was so desperately torn between my new (sole earner) family responsibilities and my children’s needs for a more present, calmer mother. I’d also has a spate of illness which ended in me needing an emergency operation. Ill health focuses the mind to what really matters! Working from home it was then.

It was perfect timing, I was able to regroup my family, recover and work evenings. I grew a Linkedin Group from 1800 members to nearly 18000 in just under two years. I knew very little about the field that I was working in, but I did know how to talk to people and encourage conversations. Social Media conversations do not start themselves. You have to be present and you have to put the effort in. Just like in real life.

Jumping forward to the point where my son wanted a Facebook account, I considered that I was quite savvy in the world of social media. WRONG! This is the point where I became more wary of social media. Whilst any social interaction for a child with autism is seen as a step forward the pitfalls are so exaggerated. Bullying is more rife than in the real world as people are somehow braver (or more stupid?) sitting behind a keypad, keyboard or touch screen. It reinforces my instinctive belief that you  have to be a part of your child’s online activity. I have deleted content, blocked and reported (to the police at one point) a great deal of vile content from his Facebook. It’s very clear that many parents do not have a clue what their children are up to on social media. Yet it remains a valuable means of communication for any teenager in this world today.

My relationship with Facebook is love/hate. I love seeing updates from friends (real friends), I enjoy feeling that we are still ‘connected’. I hate a great deal of the ridiculous stories that get shared about on this forum and I mostly hate that children are not monitored in their online activities.

So what about Twitter? I find myself with a relatively new Twitter account mostly because said daughter has fallen out with Facebook and defected to Twitter, she has also moved away from home and it’s a nice way to touch base with her daily life and occasional rants. More than that though, I have found that I am in a odd place myself.

My long term relationship seems to have ended, my children are older and I am craving the company of like minded people. I know that I need to ‘get back out there’ but I am not really ready YET. At the moment  I am enjoying ‘meeting’ new people on Twitter. Sharing parts of my life that I have, until now, kept really private and finding out that my story, not just my social media story, resonates with others. I feel safer sharing some of my experiences with people who otherwise don’t know me but I also value the human interaction that has been missing in my life.

I am being myself and being totally up front and honest about who I am, with a view to learning that despite some challenges along the way, I know that I need to steer my story nearer to where I would like it to be.

 

Moving On or Moving Forward?

Is moving forward the same as moving on? I don’t think so. Moving on seems more final.

On Valentine’s Day 2014 I took off his ring. It was given to me “for love and commitment”. The memory of the day he gave it to me is one that I treasure and one that I do not want to forget. We had a discussion about what finger I would wear it on, I know that he was pleased that I chose to wear it on my ring finger, left hand. That was a definite moving on moment. Moving on from the past of a painful divorce.

I do not want to forget. I do not want to feel unfaithful. I do not want to feel that I have let him down.

I took off his ring, not because I wanted to move on, but because I wanted to move forward.

Moving forward is hard, because I always have the “What if?” questions in the back of my mind.

What if he is still alive?

What if he just turns up one day and I have moved on?

I would rather just move forward, day by day. This is my choice.

Moving On