Making Memories

Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.

~ Mattie Stepanek (b.July 17, 1990 – d.June 22, 2004)

Did you notice the dates in the quote above? They are such wise words for one so very young.

Do you ever wonder how your memories would replay in a movie of your life? I do. As I age (gracefully?) and particularly at this time of year my mind goes into overdrive, my life is divided into two sections – before my father’s death and after his death. It is this massive marker of when my life changed. There are times when I think everything in my life was good before that date and everything since has been awful.

But the evidence doesn’t hold up that statement, I had a serious road accident when I was 15 which was pretty bad and definitely happened in the pre 2004 section. I met & later fell in love with a wonderful man in 2006 and that is clearly in the post 2004 section. I just think that at times we are very selective with our memories.

For instance, I really struggle to recall good times in my marriage, yet I know they are there somewhere they have just been buried under all the rubbish and hurt of the last 10 years.

One of the most therapeutic things I have done over the last few years was to compile a book for my daughter’s 18th birthday. Collaborating on the book with our family and her friends, mentors and teachers made me see that despite many challenges I had made quite a good job of bringing her up. My attitude to myself as a parent changed a little from then on and I have more confidence in myself now (as a mother) and I think as a family unit we all benefit from that now.

Making memoriesThis whole blog has been about my thoughts, memories and keepsakes, hoping not to inspire others but to inspire myself to hope, build from the past and in turn, bridge to the future.

18th October 2004 (father’s death), 18th October 2006 (met my previous partner), 18th October 2015 (mind your own business) all have special significance to me and for very different reasons; do you think it strange that one particular date can have such significance? Who knows!

So here’s a bit of news for you…

I have met someone who I hope I am going to move forward with and build bridges to the future. The future could be as short as tomorrow or as long as forever but nobody can possibly tell. I know for sure that making memories is so incredibly important and that with every moment that passes we have far less time in front of us than behind us. So with that in mind we (yes WE) made a conscious effort, put our heads together and have drawn up a plan for memory building.

Would you like to see it?

To build memories we should…*

…Climb a tall hill

…Sleep under the stars

…Skinny dip in the sea

…Bake a cake

…Ride a tandem

…Fly a kite

…Choose each other’s clothes for an evening out

…Plant a tree

…Build a snowman

…Have a picnic in a field &/or in a wood

…Make a sandcastle

…Paint each other

…Row a boat on the Thames

…Visit one castle/stately home every month for a year
#1 Corfe Castle 12th December 2015

#2 Hurst Castle 17th January 2016

#3 Bishop’s Waltham Palace 14th February 2016

#4 Old Sarum 6th March 2016

#5 Kingston Lacy & Badbury Rings 30th April 2016

#6 Maiden Castle & The Nine Stones 29th May 2016

#7 Wolvesey Castle 25th June 2016

#8 Porchester Castle 3rd July 2016

#9 Stourhead 23rd August 2016

#10 Southsea Castle 24th September 2016

#11 Old Wardour Castle 22nd October 2016

#12 Mottisfont Abbey 26th November 2016

…Make a bucket list

…Kiss in a haystack

…Collect Sea Glass whenever we can

…Share a shower

…Plan & go on a holiday

…Go for a ride in a horse and carriage

…Visit Scotland

…See the Northern Lights

…Kiss passionately on a beach at sunrise &/or sunset

…Visit Lake Como

…Volunteer

Share a hot tub 9th July 2016

Share an ice cream 7th November 2015

Visit Stonehenge 23rd January 2016

Go to a Rugby match 29th April 2017

Have a go at stone balancing – I tried & succeeded on 23rd January, the challenge is ON! 12th August 2017 record so far is 18!

…Complete a jigsaw together (1000+ pieces)

…Design a dream home

Create a playlist that we both love 20th July 2017, our wedding playlist.

Kiss under mistletoe 24th, 25th & 26th December 2015

…Create a memory book/blog/photo album

…Write a love letter to each other

…Go star gazing

…Go to the ballet

…Have a snowball fight

Take a selfie 31st October 2015, this has developed into Selfie on a Bridge (wherever in the world we are).

…Have afternoon tea

…Visit a European city that neither of us have visited before

Grow vegetables to eat August 2017, an amazing tomato plant with bigger plans for the future

…Spend the whole day in bed

…Do a fire walk

…Learn a circus trick

…Play Twister

Go for a bike ride 24th January 2016

Play a board game 28th November 2015

…Watch each other’s favourite film

…See a musical

…Kiss in the pouring rain

…Pick Strawberries

…Visit a temple

…Redesign the garden

Revisit the bench in the garden at Mottisfont 31st October 2015

…Make Elderflower Cordial (this looks like a good recipe)

Write our Wedding vows 20th July 2017

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A bridge to the future ~ Sept 2015

*All this has been compiled and shared with the kind permission of Mr Bojangles and some of it you will recognise from my own Bucket List.

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Eat, Pray, Love, Hope

Someone told me yesterday that a blog post was well overdue. He’s a good friend, a wonderful friend and I have shared many secrets with him (and him me), late night conversations, tears and laughter.  Our pasts have included ex-partners with similar traits and we understand each other…

Eat, Pray, Love – one of my daughter’s favourite books and a go to film for restoring a good mood. It’s also responsible for her fascination with Bali. This feisty, young, feminist woman was seduced by a book about the pleasures of eating good food, about meeting people, about looking at yourself and learning, about using travel to heal and about finding love…I digress, but bear with me.

My friend lives in Bali (see the connection now?) and despite moving there in 2012 he makes more effort than people on my doorstep to keep our friendship alive. He’s asked me to go and visit him many times. The invitation has always been on the table. One day in October 2014 he told me that it was likely that he was returning to the UK and if I wanted to visit it had to be soon(ish). Oh shit! I hate being put under pressure to make expensive decisions AND I was in the middle of having work done on the house.

This is how the decision process went…

Oh shit.

Oh shit, how can I not go?

Oh shit, the daughter will hate me if I go to Bali without her.

Oh shit, the son won’t want to go!

Oh, bugger I can’t take one without the other and still enjoy myself.

How can I afford it? I could afford to take myself (just) but not three of us.

Bollocks- I can’t go.

Fuck it, I have to go! We’re all going. Decision made…

Steamed Duck
Steamed Duck

EAT – He constantly share photos of food with me. I wake up in the mornings to photos of what they had for dinner the previous night. The food looks incredible.

PRAY – I am praying that Mount Raung behaves itself. The ash cloud from the erupting volcano is playing havoc with flights in and out of Bali.

The Bali Squad
The Bali Squad

LOVE  – I will be with people who I love.

HOPE – We all long for genuine human connections and without it our lives can feel very empty. I have a beautiful family and I have lovely friends and I am grateful. Every.Single.Day. I know the trials and tribulations that my friend in Bali has been through and I know he has found the happiness that he deserves. I have shared my internet dating horrors with him, I have spared him some of the details, but this morning he said “There’s a normal one out there somewhere for you”. I hope he is right.

Finn’s Beach Club ~ Bali

“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert

So that’s it…I am going to Eat, Pray, Love, Hope, and participate relentlessly.

Never the Same Love Twice…

…or Jane & the Mr Men

It has been over two months now since I re-embarked on my internet dating adventure and I thought that some of you might appreciate an update.

At first it was hell.

Then it got better.

Then it got worse.

Then it improved and so on…

I have definitely come to realise that I am in a good place to start a new relationship, unlike some of the people who I have either communicated with or met. I’m not really surprised though, I spent a great deal of time preparing myself and working out my motives and being sure. I loved, that is true. I can love again, that is also true.Never the same love twice

I have been very honest about my past. It’s not something that I can change, nor do I want to. I am very aware of the fact that it is pretty unusual. In every case, if meeting up with a prospective date was a probability, I have shared my blog with them. In the first instance, it wasn’t intended that I would do that, but the questions posed to me naturally led me to take that step. As it turns out, I think it has served me well.

Some have said “will you write about me” and I thought (out loud sometimes), “don’t flatter yourself” and yet here I am. To be fair in the interest of your boredom some identities have been merged…

Mr Axe Murderer– had a great profile, lovely photographs, wrote charming emails at first, and apparently had strong family values. BE WARNED, not everything is as it seems. As communication progressed there were tiny little alarm bells going off in my head and all to do with the unusual grammar being used. Anyway, I shared my blog- after all it’s out there anyway- but I used a unique bitly link. I’m glad I did. He had already told me that he was in the forces and posted abroad, fair enough I thought. But when the link I sent was accessed it wasn’t from the same country where he had said he was. Not even close. The moral of this story is ALWAYS trust your intuition!

Mr Pervert– enough said. I’m not a prude, but I have had my education expanded.

Mr Rude– If I am not ready to answer a question then I will say just that. Patience as well as honesty is key as far as I am concerned. Don’t tell me I am stupid though.

Mr Unfaithful– Yep, not all people looking for a date are single.

On the plus side I have been out more in the last couple of months than I probably have in the last three years. I have been treated nicely, I have enjoyed male company, and I have felt feminine again. But not with any of the Mr Men mentioned above!

In the wise words of Lisa Arends (Lessons from the End of a Marriage); A first date is an interview for a second date, not an interview for a marriage and don’t take rejection personally!

Onwards!

Courage, Bravery, Daring, Bold

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What is the difference between “courage” and “bravery“? Are “bravery” and “daring” the same thing? Then of course, there is also boldness.

On Tuesday last week, my daughter (ENFJ) really unsettled me with her courage, bravery, daring and boldness. This is not a new thing where she is concerned but this time it was very different. I watched her perform a piece of work for a fellow student’s dissertation choreography; in dance and dialogue she recounted the memories of the day, no, not the day, but the moment that my ex-husband told my children that he was leaving.

The intricate detail that she recalled shocked me. She could remember precisely where she was sat, how she was sitting, what she was wearing, where I was in the room, where he was stood, and the exact placement of inanimate items in the room. She told this to a theatre full of people. I wasn’t the only one crying. Daring? Brave? Bold? Courageous? I think all of these and I am incredibly proud.

I think that both of my children have faced their changed world bravely, showing their courage in some very difficult situations. They have both dared to be different in their own way and boldly faced things head on.

 “What’s the most daring thing you have ever done?”

This was a question posed to me by a potential date at the end of last week. Had I been looking at one of those Bear GryllsAction Man, no-time-for-a-real-woman-in-my-life-I’m-too-busy-sliding-down-mountains type profiles I might have read the question slightly differently than I did. Of all of the questions that I have been asked during this strange experience of internet dating, this is the one that I found the hardest to answer and also the one that, being INFJ, I have thought about most.

For the curious* person reading, this was my reply, or more accurately, they way that I dodged the question:

Tough question because this very much depends on your definition of daring! I think there are many things that I have done that are brave and I think this is a good conversation piece to really get to know someone. Occasionally, I need a metaphorical shove to be brave. That said, jumping out of aircraft or off high things on a piece of elastic? Ain’t never going to happen!!

So on reflection, no, I don’t think I am daring at all- but I am trying to find out if there’s a part of me that is and maybe it’s been hidden away. Courageous? No, I don’t think so. I am possibly bold at times. But brave, yes, I do think I have been brave and I have battle scars (real and metaphorical) to prove it.

But most of all, I’d like to know how you define these words, whether you think they apply to you and how would YOU answer the dreaded question…

 “What’s the most daring/bravest/bold/courageous thing you have done?”

*just plain nosey

Is it Like Riding a Bicycle?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am having another attempt at internet dating. It worked for me once before so I assume in my more optimistic moods that it can work again.

Initially a new profile on a dating site (particularly the one that I first tried) is bombarded with what I can only liken to a ‘new meat’ type feeding frenzy. To start with, before I changed sites, I was weeding out the daily onslaught of suitable matches using the following criteria:

  • too young- I mean REALLY young, I was certainly old enough to be their mother, apparently that’s a thing!
  • too old- I have challenge with my upper age limit because my stepfather is not that much older than me, so I don’t really fancy a date or a partner older than him.
  • Cross dresser- nope, not for me.
  • Kinky- as in ‘can you send me a photo of your *insert word here*?’
  • Potential axe murderers.
  • and yes, even “married but available”- these ones I would like to string up by their you know whats!
  • No communication skills whatsoever- I mean zero. How am I supposed to respond to a message that just says ‘Hiya’?
  • Blatant lies on profile.
  • Too many dog photos- dogs are fine by the way; I just don’t want to date one!
  • Too many action man photos.
  • Too many photos in speedos.

I could go on. Do you think I am being too fussy?

My two basic criteria still stand; I want a man who is nice to me and who smells good!

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!

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!