The Bucket List

bucket listImpossible

noun

informal

noun: bucket list; plural noun: bucket lists

definition ~ a number of experiences or achievements that I hope to have or accomplish during my lifetime.

In no particular order to be added to, edited, and even deleted as and when the inclination takes me.

#1 Pay full ticket price to watch my daughter perform professionally: And I want to keep the ticket framed.

#2 Visit Scotland: This needs to happen for so many reasons some of them deeply personal. I’d also like to meet up with some special quines who have supported me, made me laugh, and generally been awesome friends.

#3 Sign up for that counselling course: It’s been on the bucket list in my head for a while now. To do this I need to have 3 hours free one evening per week. Not easy as a single mum, but I will get there.

#4 See the Northern Lights: I have actually done this, but out of a plane window on the way back from New York so I don’t think it really counts.

#5 Kiss *name unknown as yet* deeply and passionately on the beach at sunrise or sunset: Situation vacant.

#6 Visit Lake Como: It’s a George Clooney thing.

#7 Go white water rafting: My son didn’t believe me when I said I wanted to do this. I intend to show him that I mean business! Achieved August 2015

#8 Be taken out for Afternoon Tea: I feel that it is really unjust that I have wanted to do this for AGES and then my daughter goes and does it first. Without me *stamps feet in petulant fashion*.

#9 Visit Stonehenge: My Dad took me when I was a child, but we couldn’t afford to pay to go in so we had to look from afar. Achieved January 2016

Balancing_Land_Art_by_Michael_Grab_5#10 Have a go at Stone Balancing: For no particular reason. Most of all I would like to do this with the friend I refer to in Pebbles. Achieved January 2016

To be continued…

Joining the Dots

or 10 Things I Have Learned

1. I am more youthful in mind than I thought I was- it seems that so many people my age have grandchildren and I haven’t even finished bringing up my own children yet! What I am looking forward to now is finding opportunities to do more things for me.

2. I have regrets about my formal education- I wish I had taken it further. A road accident at 15, time in ICU, and lack support from teachers whist I was in recovery led to a heavy going final year of school. I achieved good results and left school on a Friday and started work the next Monday. I thought that was good at the time.

3. I still want to obtain some qualifications in counselling- This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time but other more important responsibilities have taken priority. I like teenagers (yes, I know, odd huh?) and would ideally like to find a role supporting them in some way. I’ve taken the first steps, just a short introductory course, but it’s a start.

4. Travel- I would like to do much more travelling. I do seem to feel pangs of jealousy when my daughter can just pack and go. I love hearing her stories and especially when she starts a sentence ‘You would have loved…’. So having travelled to New York last year our adventures continue to Bali later this year. I even catch myself thinking “Where next?”.

5. I have a strong lioness instinct- now this only surfaces when my children are threatened, hurting, in danger or ill. But it’s there and she roars from time to time. Don’t test this.

6. You can’t hold on to someone if they want to leave- and neither should you. There have been many drawbacks to becoming divorced, but there have been many pleasures too. I am grateful that my last and only partner since my divorce really showed me what it meant to be loved and I am very grateful for the close bond that I now have with my children.

7. I am introverted (INFJ)– being introverted is nothing to do with being shy and nothing to do with being anti-social. It does mean that I need time alone to recharge. Socially, for me, small groups of close friends are better. Small talk doesn’t interest me and I can become bored easily. I much prefer to discuss opinions, thoughts and feelings.

8. I don’t like cheese- I have never liked cheese, someone asked me recently “why don’t you like cheese?”. This falls into the small talk category above. I don’t know why! Does it even matter why? The smell of it makes me heave and I am old enough now to know my own mind about my likes and dislikes. I don’t need to keep trying things (or trying to do things) that I know I don’t like.

9. Things won’t change unless I make change- no matter how overwhelming the challenge is there is always something that I can do to effect change. I often feel so much more empowered if I can just make one small step towards how I would like things to be. Our outside world is a result of our collective consciousness and  it can feel overwhelming at times in a world full of evil and vile acts, but if you want things to change you have to start small. Really small.

10. You can’t always join the dots- sometimes it looks like there are dead ends. Start again on a different route. Or more accurately “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” ~Steve Jobs

Join the dots

Looking Into the Eyes of Strangers

CharacterSo despite telling myself emphatically that I would not return to the world of internet dating, I have done so.

It has taken a build-up of weeks and a gentle push from a friend for me to do this. The first step was writing my profile. I find expressing myself on paper relatively easy WHEN I have the right inspiration but in this case I was certainly lacking. I kept my blurb short & sweet with a view to expanding it if or when I become more comfortable with the idea.

In the meantime, if they want to know more, they will have to ask!

In the interest of keeping a sense of humour about all of this I shall share with you a few snippets of a conversation that ultimately led to me hitting the send button on this ‘adventure’.

On taking the plunge: They are your rules to make.

On casual shagging: It’s a bit like eating crisps; you really fancy them, they’re good while they last, then ultimately they are unsatisfying and best forgotten. (I haven’t got the time or the inclination for that.)

On grammar and poor choice of words in some profiles: Dominant? Or dominate? I’ve just choked on my tea (either way it means ‘deploy barge pole’).

On appropriate response to inappropriate suggestions: Send a message to him immediately- You disgust me you repellent arsehole, no wonder you are single.

So we all know that I like a man who smells nice and since the internet hasn’t yet identified a way to determine this, these are some of my first thoughts:

  • It feels like catalogue shopping.
  • I can’t get past a profile that doesn’t use at least some basic punctuation.
  • Why post a photograph in which you are not smiling or at least hinting at a smile, Mona Lisa style?
  • Why post a photograph in front of a fast car? ‘That don’t impress me much’ – Shania Twain
  • Why post a photograph in SPEEDOS?

And finally for the moment, I totally dismiss anyone who hasn’t taken the time to hit ‘rotate’ on their photograph.

I don’t understand the need to have identical hobbies, likes & dislikes. People are interesting, I like interesting people. They don’t have to like the same food as me, or have the same taste in music. I don’t want a clone of me. I want someone to complement me (compliments are nice too). In my experience the best guarantee of any relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, is a basic moral similarity and values that are harmonious. <This may have to go in my profile.

No. Wait. Before you go. One more thing… I have been categorised by my income, job and ambition and other personal statistics and that is fine except for the fact I am so much more than that. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Wish me luck!

Will You Smile With Me?

Last year I took the conscious step of trying to heal myself. This year I want to smile more.

Today I was reminded of something that I used to do whilst my daughter danced at The Urdang Academy in London.

The Great Hall at The Urdang Academy.
The Great Hall at The Urdang Academy.

Every other weekend we would travel to London for her classes. She saw very little of the city; we would travel up, she would spend 8 hours in a dance studio, eat and travel home, but I got to explore, shop, eat and observe. I used to try and make eye contact with people, endeavour to walk round with a smile all day just to see if I could get a smile back. It was VERY hard work!

Generally speaking, people don’t seem make eye contact in big cities. New York was different. Or maybe New York was different because WE were different, we were on holiday, we were happy, we were smiling and people respond to that. So here are some things that make me smile:

My children make me smile; they make me cry too, but mostly smile. I cannot think of a better reason to smile.

My friends make me smile; they also make me laugh, proper belly laugh spit out your drink laugh and last year in my ‘healing phase’ I found a new friend. I also found new friends that I haven’t met yet; lots of smiley faces have been shared. Thinking about people like this and remembering conversations- that makes me smile.

When I walk to work and drivers slow down to let me cross the road safely; THAT makes me smile. I have three difficult junctions to manoeuvre across when walking to work, some days the drivers don’t even bother to indicate and I spend ages hesitating at the side of the road. On other days I hit the jackpot and get let across all three. That’s a good start to the day! They can’t know that I got hit by a car when I was fifteen and spent months in hospital. They just slow down and take a brief pause in their day for me.

I have to give cake away!
I have to give cake away!

Cooking & baking make me smile; I ‘stress bake’ which means that if life is challenging I go into the kitchen and bake.I find it therapeutic. If the urge to bake happens when there aren’t enough people in the house to eat the resulting baked goods I give them away; take them to work, share with friends. I hope that makes them smile too.

Thinking about our next adventure coming up later this year, now that really makes me smile. More on that coming soon.

Some of my memories make me smile now and that’s a good thing because it means that part of my self-healing has taken place and it’s time to find more reasons to smile.

So what makes you smile? take-a-smile

The Only Thing That Matters…

IMG_20141218_181910…are the people in your life.

Unlike some people, I prefer to reflect in Autumn and I find New Year celebrations a challenge. What changes can possibly happen over just one night? Well nine years ago tonight my then husband told our children that he was leaving. I choose not to write too much about him because no good would ever come of it and this is my place for healing.

I am introverted. I have again chosen to be at home on 31st December; I am happy with that choice. According to famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung- an introvert is most obvious and vulnerable when he or she is in an overstimulating environment. As an introvert, parties are hell for me. I don’t like drunk people- I had a hideous experience with a drunk at a work Christmas party. I am not shy, I am just happiest with a close circle of people around me. I like to socialise, but with beloved friends and family and above all I like to laugh and love, passionately and unconditionally.

I hit rock bottom in March of this year, there was no major trigger point, I just fell apart and sobbed and sobbed whilst in the middle of a pile of ironing (maybe that WAS the trigger). My grief and loneliness had overwhelmed me, I was bogged down by work, the house, bills and the thought that life would never get any better, I no longer had any joy in life and it had to change. My daughter found me and the look on her face when she said ‘Mumma, please get help’ was enough to galvanize me into action. She tells me that I often go into automatic pilot and find solutions when challenges are thrown at me and this was no different.

I had to challenge the introvert in me, expose my thoughts and feelings, reach out. Guess what? I succeeded!

New York made me feel brave.

I have met (and not met) some wonderful people and a special friend that I hope I will have for life.

I realised that I have experienced great love and although I miss him, nothing can erase memories.

I have been educated in Doric, the dialogue of North East Scotland. It’s not lost on me that my partner was Scottish and I have somehow been drawn into a part of the world that he wanted to share with me.WP_000367

I struggle to thrive in any kind of chaos and I had some work done on the house, this proved to be great therapy in so many ways!

I have enjoyed watching my children grow and develop into practicing adults. It has been a real pleasure for me to see their closeness grow now that they don’t have to live together! I can see that I have been a good role model and mother (oh yeah, middle finger to the ex mother-in-law who said I would fail and lose my kids).

If I had to give a name to 2014 it would be The Year the Laughter Returned.

Pebbles

Pebbles“I know not how I may seem to others, but to myself I am but a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with” Plato

I gave a compliment to a friend a little while ago and added the following codicil ‘You can deflect it if you like but it’s my opinion and you will have to respect it’.

In turn she bounced it back with ‘One day I will describe you as I see you- just so you know’ and then followed that with my own words ‘You can deflect it if you like but it’s my opinion and you will have to respect it (someone very wise and dear to me told me that)’.

It’s true; we find it impossible to see ourselves as others do!

Are you aware of the Johari window? Give people the opportunity to anonymously tell you how they view you, yeah that’s scary! I am still mentally processing the results of this task, but it has strengthened me.

So ******, to me you are:

Complex –

In a way that there is no standard definition. To me you are interesting, layered, intriguing, fascinating, beautifully complex.

Loving –

I was going to say powerful because to me being loving is the most powerful thing you can be. I chose loving instead because powerful has some negative connotations these days. Being loving changes lives, not by force, rules and regulations, laws and instructions but by consistency, example and faith in others. Like a river slowly smoothing pebbles, gently and irreversibly.

Warm –

Like hot chocolate on a cold day. I would say like fruit tea, but I know you would see through that as the tease that is most certainly is. What’s the point of tea if it contains no actual tea, right? Warm and comforting, but no marshmallows or cream because you’re not sickly at all.

Wise –

Wise enough to know that you are fragile. Wise enough to be strong for others. Wise enough to be humble in knowledge. Wise enough to hang on in there.

Silly –

I had to include this one, because you make me laugh so much over such silly things. I tried and tried to write about the laughter over the ‘getting laid’* incident because I wanted to capture my feelings at having been able to laugh at the silliest of things. I wanted to hold on to how good it felt to laugh randomly and inappropriately, to lose all decorum just because the thought of our conversation popped back into my head.

Brave –

Because despite all that life has thrown at you, you are still here and I am so grateful for that and to know you now.

I haven’t known her for very long but I have been changed by knowing her. We have had long and late conversations some silly, some serious, some deep and some not so! As a whole she has made me think, particularly about the way that my ex-husband treats me.

When I met her, I felt that I already knew her and this has made me question and probe my own beliefs and foundations. Through conversation, and something that I wrote about here, it transpired that we nearly met a few years ago, well nearly ten years to be more precise.

WP_000060 - Copy
Words by KnotTheMeYouSee (@tanglesofme). Photo taken on the last day spent with Jon trying to see who was the most effective King Canute.

This led me to wonder are we always destined to meet the people we meet. What do you think?

If I had met her then, would the connection have been as strong? I doubt it. If I had met my partner at a different time would our love story have a different ending?

*Getting laid has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with a new floor.

Changed For Good

Wicked

Yesterday was such a strange day. Late the night before I had finished and published my previous blog post Not A Dear John Letter, it was a deeply personal piece and I was in two minds whether to publish it or not, but I did albeit under cover of darkness when I thought nobody would be looking. I shed some tears, quite a few actually.

I started writing my blog after a complete and utter failure to hold myself together. I started crying whilst ironing (yes, I know, who wouldn’t?) and was unable to stop. As far as I remember there was no trigger, no anniversary, no jolt of memories, just an overwhelming sadness. Years of ‘being strong’ had obviously caught up with me, but the worst thing about this incident was being held by my daughter and her saying ‘please get some help Mumma, I don’t know what to do’.

I didn’t want help, I wanted him back and no amount of therapy was going to make that happen so I sought help from me. I decided that I had to let myself grieve but also look towards a future that didn’t include him but to do this in a positive way if at all possible.

This morning a friend shared the lyrics to For Good from Wicked with me. The words are so appropriate, not least because it’s a musical that me & my children love (son is off to see it for the third time on Thursday), but because I have been changed for the better by loving him but also changed for good by all of you.


I’ve heard it said,
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are lead to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood.
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better
But because I knew you.
I have been changed for good.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you’ll have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea.
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood.
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

Not A Dear John Letter

A box of memories
A box of memories

Dear Jon

Where do I even start? This is the letter that has been trapped inside of me for months. The thoughts rattle around in my head and bounce back & forth on a daily basis.

I want you to know that I love you, I love you with all of my heart and that will never change. I no longer know where you are or what you are doing or if I will ever hear from you again. I have tried my best with the resources available to me to find out what has happened to you but each time I have met with a brick wall. You either do not want to be found or something dreadful has happened (we are unable to confirm or deny blah blah blah). I now have to accept this.

If you are safe and well, I wish you love, security and happiness. I want you to find your place in the world and to find a peaceful retreat. I want you to sleep gently and soundly like you once did in my bed, in my arms enveloped in love. I used to love watching you sleep.

I want you to know how grateful I am for the time we had together. I do not know who said these words, but I wish it had been me –

“And even if we never talk again please remember that I am forever changed by who you are and what you meant to me”.

I mostly need to thank you for the way your loved changed me. You made me feel beautiful and adored, cherished and wanted.

I have some specific memories and a small box of cherished items. I’ve opened it today, the box that’s been close to me all the years that I have known and loved you.

~A gold gift card from your first Christmas gift to me. It just says “love Jon xxxxx” we’d only know each other a couple of months, a few weeks really, but five kisses showed a lot of promise!

~A card from La Fenice, the local Italian Restaurant where we first went out as a four, you, me and my two children. It wasn’t easy, but it was a milestone.

~A tiny orange post-it note with my name on. Remember the silly game you thought up for Christmas with my family? It descended into total chaos, but we loved it. They also all loved you.

~A piece of lavender from Spa Fields in Islington. We dropped Emma at dance school and walked for miles looking for a peaceful space, not an easy task in London on a scorching hot day! To this day, the smell of lavender reminds me of the conversation, the very public kiss (the place where the bandidos live) and the feeling of total absorption in one another.

~A tiny photo of the corner table in The Chesil Rectory in Winchester, the oldest building in the city. You embarrassed the waitress remember?

Waitress: Have you decided?

You: Yes I have. I have decided that I love her.

It wasn’t the first time you had told me, but it is the one that sticks in my mind.

WP_000062 (2)~My ring, given to me for “love and commitment” it is beautiful, I’d like to put it back on but I dare not. It would undo these last few months that have got me to this point.

~Two small shells from Barton on Sea. I wanted shells; you sifted through heaps of stones to find me two shells with no cracks or chips. WP_000060You wanted to be near the sea that day, but somewhere quiet. A big ask in August bank holiday weekend on the south coast of England. I took you to where my Dad used to live, I hadn’t been back since his death and I thought it would be hard for me. It wasn’t, it was like introducing the two most important men in my life to each other. It gave me peace and tranquility although I doubt I could go back again. This was the last day that we spent together.

WP_000061

~Lastly, a shiny 1p coin. The first thing you gave me, or rather lent to me. I hate owing money and you lent it to me the first time you had to go away. It was to reassure me that you were coming back. Every time you returned you asked if I still had it. I still have it now and I guess it’s mine by default; you can collect it any time.

These are just small things and big memories and wherever my life leads from this point on I will take a part of you with me.

All my love,

Jane xxxxx

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