posted on: Tuesday, 28 July 2015

It's been the longest time. I last wrote when in some kind of personal maelstrom, struggling to make sense of the return of horrid pain symptoms I had thought were behind me. And then...things got a million times worse! Hah! Always the optimist, I found my way through. Oh, if that were true! In fact I kinda cracked up for a while as the pain increased to an extent that was reminiscent of childbirth. I had a bad wisdom tooth. This didn't become clear until there had been weeks of simultaneous pain and panic. The thing with living with chronic pain is that you have to re assimilate the fact that each day there is pain. When it is a known pain it becomes like an annoying but tolerable acquaintance; you recognise it, you can live with it, it will never finish your sentences but it is part of your life, nonetheless. Then...the pain changes and everything is on its head. This new unknown pain was traumatic - I wondered if my life was just going to be that way from then on? Excruciating pain, forever. Google that and you find some pretty dark places.

And so, the day it became clear that I simply had a bad tooth, despite my near-phobic emotions about dentistry, I was pleased. A bad tooth I can deal with; a life of abject misery I can't! And so I had it out. Emergency wisdom tooth extraction the day or so before I went on holiday and whilst my home was being pulled down around my ears by the builders! It was testing, I am not going to lie. But now...well now it's much, much better. In fact I have had no pain since that bad tooth was taken out and honestly, it had been bothering me for months.

And so - what do we learn? Everything in life is a phase; the best of things and the worst of things.

We went away to Jersey - in the Channel Islands, a place I have never been to before but loved. Beautiful - wide arching beaches and dramatic cliffs. We went with our good friends and it was lovely, however in one of those spooky twists of fate, there was a sickness bug that hit 7 out of 9 of us! Yep, really. The week was spent managing the progression of this nasty virus, disinfecting, and then disinfecting again. It was a shame. We tried to make the best of it! And all the while, the view outside remained as stunning as ever. I would love to go back.

We returned, unable to stay in our tumbling-down house, we have rented a local cottage in a pretty place near here right by the water. Rather surreal to stay in a holiday home in your home town but it's refreshing. Unlike where we normally live, there are people walking by outside, it's not rural but boat-y. Everyone looks like they are ready to take on the high seas. I love living at the coast, never more than now. I don't think I could ever live inland.

Meanwhile, half way through the summer holidays, the days are merging as I try to keep up with the displacement we have in our living arrangements and my children's social life. I hate that I find the holidays so disruptive; they broke up on July 3rd, I mean, seriously? It's a long way to September...

And then deep down I know...September means back to school for me too. The reading list for my Masters has been released and this provoked mild anxiety and excitement for me. I am starting to realise the enormity of what I am taking on. Another degree? I haven't done a degree in twenty years. All of the self doubt I have ever had stored up is seeping through the cracks in my resolve. Trying to hold it together. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this!

The unwanted visitor...

posted on: Tuesday, 7 July 2015

I have been absent I know; a horrid recurrence of my jaw pain symptoms have floored me. I have lived with this chronic pain for so long, on and off and I genuinely thought I had made peace with it; it affected my life, yes, but I managed it and most importantly (for me) I could control the way I felt about it. It's such a psychological trigger in my little world. It causes a downward spiral that I really struggle to stem, despite the regularity with which it comes back. It started in April, got worse and worse, I went to see another specialist whose diagnosis initially pleased me, (no bone damage), but meanwhile the symptoms became more and more entrenched. Now I am just in it.

painting via here by martin wehmer
I know deep down it will pass, I know life has a way of offering up phases, I know it's meant to make me stronger, I know that there will be a Pinterest quote to get me through the dark moments. But I just wish I didn't have it. I have read extensively about living with pain and one method is to embrace it; to welcome it in and study it, rather than try to run away. I am trying. But in amongst the rest of my daily existence, spending time with such an unwanted visitor is beyond trying. I don't want to be that mother/wife/friend - the one who is always quiet because I am breathing through the pain.

Funnily enough, the specialist I saw described the profile of those who suffer with this particular condition (he called me an 'Olympic' teeth-clencher! My facial muscles are shot). Nine out of ten times women, deep-thinking, they (we) install 'coping strategies' to deal with life's stresses which mean complete and utter internalisation of feelings. Achiever. Fine bone structure. Intelligent. Takes life waaay too seriously.


I think I'd rather be stoopid and carefree! ;-)

Otherwise, life is about summer holidays and clearing the house ready for the build which WILL start next week! Hurrah. Well - kinda hurrah. We will live out of a suitcase for most of the summer, an eventuality which we have convinced ourselves will be character-building and exciting. We have rented a cottage by the sea near here for a week or so to have a 'stay-cation' and will be returning to Portugal later in the summer. I am looking forward to it, and hope in our absence the worst of the work will get done. Clearly, I get the parallel of this life challenge and my pain. I guess that upheaval and I don't sit well together. Delicate flower that I am!

Both children have broken up from school so we are already into lazy mornings and a million haphazard arrangements to occupy them. We have yet to fall into a rhythm. There's not a lot of writing going on - a fact which bothers me more and more as I consider September looming. I thought I would have written the bare bones of something by now in readiness for my Masters Degree. But no. Life got in the way. I conclude that this is normal; this is why not everyone who can write is a writer. It takes such discipline; daily toil. I am sure a change of scene will help.

Take care and above all else, see the funny side! xxx

She wore a raspberry beret...

posted on: Wednesday, 24 June 2015

There's a local event brewing, a thing that needs to raise money for a worthy cause. There was talk of a ball or a banquet or some such evening that required dressing up and putting on a show. Then the voice of an underbelly of discord who suggested maybe we should just have an 80's disco? Of course I was sold. Anything 1980's is my bag. I opted out of a ball gown and into neon leg warmers. I have to say, as the 80's actually happened and I was their witness, neon leggings were never worn. However I certainly saw some on 'Top of the Pops'.

Every now and then I catch an 80's tune on the radio, I am always a sucker for Blondie who seemed cooler than cool as I grew up. Debbie Harry singing 'roll me in designer sheets, I can never get enough'. Little did I know that the adult life she hinted at does not consist of designer sheets, but instead of endless laundry of sheets, not of the designer kind. Oh the irony.

I decided this week that it is a travesty that I have never seen 'Annie Hall'. Does this make me culturally unaware? Is 'Annie Hall' a rite of passage?

Meanwhile the need for palm trees grows and I texted my husband to say that I wanted to wallpaper a wall of our downstairs loo with palm tree wallpaper. This is a recurring theme with me. Most of all I would like the quintessential paper named 'Martinique' like the one from in Beverley Hills Hotel, circa 1942. I can't work out whether it is good taste or bad taste. I am not sure I care. I just know that I want it. I wonder if what is really behind this is the feeling that my house should resemble the set for 'The Graduate'.

via here
I am utterly into 'The Affair'...I am literally waiting week to week for the next instalment.

Today was a hairdresser day. Three hours spent restoring my hair to the colour and condition it used to be naturally. Oh the irony again!! I am now an inadvertent blonde...

My sister in law is back! Hurrah for that. After eight months in Dubai she has returned for a month or so to escape the summer heat there. Happy about that. The other sister in law (also a Dubai-ite) will come in a week or so :-) Family is all.

I walked at the beach this morning and was struck by the way in which dog walkers greet each other. Before I owned a dog I had no idea of this sub-culture! It's so consistent and so sweet that I have become very fond of other dog owners.

And then there is shopping; fresh white converse and a necklace in the sales.

On the home front, we navigate the choppy waters of teenage relationships and ten year old boy fixations. She wants to be loved and he wants a new pair of trainers. Parenting is as challenging as ever. I stick to my tried and tested line, which is: reasonableness, gentle influence, truth and honesty. Even when it's awkward. Trying my hardest.

 I find myself looking at old ladies in the street and wondering what life they have lived and what they told their children. Did they think they were brave like me? I hope when I am an old lady someone asks me what I thought and felt at 40...

You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye...

posted on: Wednesday, 17 June 2015

I have many times lamented the fact that when living in rural Southern England, my sartorial choices are limited. There is always the mud and if not the mud then sand from the beach. There is always the changeable weather (typical Brit: weather-obsessed). There is always the lifestyle; dog walking, school run, pop to the shops, yoga etc. Oh the life I lead! Anecdotally, I realised yesterday that I have a fair amount of guilt about the life I lead. I feel inherently that I should be doing more, all the time. I decided this whilst reading my favourite John Updike book (best for writing inspiration) in the middle of the afternoon. Sigh. I then felt it again as I prepared healthy snacks for my unwell daughter, with all the time in the world. Again when I hung out seersucker bed linen on the washing line and then later when I brought it in, dry, it smelled like childhood. Even though I know these activities are good and real and often necessary, not least because I have made a conscious life/health choice to do them, I still get the guilts. Anyway, whilst leading my lovely life...I wear my usual muggles uniform.

Being away last week afforded the chance to properly dress up. I remembered how much I like dressing up. To my peril though, as I opted for the blue shoes whilst strolling from our hotel. It was uphill in Monaco and I suffered sore feet in return for my style choice. Some people lead a life where a blue shoes equivalent is required every day. How lovely. Maybe their feet are more hardy?!

And can we just touch on French style? I know there are a million homages to French style; what it is, how to get it. There is something so special about it. Not least because those wearing the clothes are healthy and beautiful and undone without being done. It's an elusive thing, clearly. As far as I could see there was no one, single thing, more like an overall effect. And the appropriate use of hats. Like when you see a girl on a bus, who has a flower in her hair and perfectly applied red lipstick. N'est-ce pas Simone?!

What it boils down to is that I am impressionable about style. I know what I like to wear and have an ever-present conflict between classic/elegant and boho/quirky which I am sure, as I age, will drive me to distraction. If I see something, just an image or a glimpse, I get mini-obsessions that last a few days where I HAVE to find that item. More often than not I don't buy it, even if I locate it. But the mystery and possibility of finding the perfect item and it being mine is almost too much to bear! I definitely have too much time on my hands... :-)

all images via prive de sommeil
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