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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A Tale of Two Views

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ~ Charles Dickens

Autumn again…its approach signals a great deal of personal reflection for me and it seems this year is no different. My birthday is in this season, I am Libran, the only inanimate sign in the zodiac. As Librans we are supposed to be able to stand back and look at matters impartially! Yeah right! Did you know that some astrologers regard Librans as the most desirable of types?Well, we are *special* because Libra represents the zenith of the year, the high point of the seasons, a harvest of all the hard work put in earlier in the year. I don’t suppose it’s any co-incidence that the Autumn Equinox also represents balance between day & night.

It’s pretty clear to me that I have always strived for balance in my life and that my most challenging times have been when balance is absent. I definitely do not have balance in my life at the moment and yet uncharacteristically I seem to be coping quite well. Other people’s problems and worries seem far greater than mine, putting my troubles and woes into perspective.

So why do I not have balance?

Consider these two views:

PicCollage

Last weekend I was staying in a beautiful hotel, eating delicious food, blessed with warm, unseasonal weather, in the stunning Wiltshire countryside (should I mention the company I was keeping?). This weekend a trip to the local amenity tip (sorry, recycling centre) with piles of garden waste from the previous day! That is quite a disparity!

For the moment these two parts of my life are distinctly separate but what needs to happen is integration and I don’t have a bloody clue how to go about this!

 Is it the best of times?

It’s certainly not the worst of times.

Am I wise?

Or am I foolish?

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!

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.