posted on: Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My friend Natalie and I - we have this generic title for our need to speak very often each week (even each day) - we call it 'updates'. Many an email subject heading and first word on a telephone call. It's time for updates. I am about to set off to the Middle East for a holiday but in the meantime I didn't want to leave you in the lurch.

In a twist of irony, the laptop I use for work has decided to only function if I am sitting in my corporate office, plugged in with an actual cable. Working at home = no. Using the marvels of modern technology to start work at 7am in your pyjamas: nope. None of that. So I am doing it circa 1990 and trekking to the office on every work day and having to get everything done in the knowledge that there is no 'checking my email later'. It's a challenge. And an irony given I work for one of the biggest and most well-known technology companies in the world.

via cape cod collegiate
After the trials of joining running club last week, this week Boo has wanted to go to every session. So as I said I would, we are. This means frantic evenings of late meals, missed homework and hefty glasses of wine once they are finally in bed. But she gets to run and I watch her in the evening sunlight with her ponytail flying in the wind and I figure - she loves to run. She should run.

In preparation for the Dubai trip - last minute shopping - some of which was a hit; some of which was a miss. I realise my wardrobe is confined to school runs, occasional nights out in temperate climates and not enough shoes. The prospect of going to a place where it is 39 degrees (I checked today) and where fabrics such as silk can be worn, is a heady one.

via cape cod collegiate
A thing I have learned this week: sometimes you have to let go.

Other things I have learned this week: it's revision time and my recollection of high school geography has lasted; oxbow lake anyone? Definition of a meander? Ask me...

The lovely lady who is teaching me the Alexander Technique - God bless her tenacity at sticking with me - has told me to spread my fingers. It seems I spend most of my time with my hands bunched in fists. One to ponder...

I see the news and I am unsure what to think about the world we live in.

I think about rekindling friendships and honesty and habit.

I got rid of the split ends and I had the pedicure; my toenails are 'Rococo Red'.

I look forward to the sun on my skin.

Ahhh the joy of updates!

The go-slow...

posted on: Monday, 13 May 2013

I have had one of those days I relish...I spent hours and hours alone! I love days like this...where I mooch and potter and do very little indeed. When they are rare, I long for days like this; on a go-slow all day long. I do wonder why this lack of activity has become so appealing to me as I never used to be this way. Now I break down each event into a time-span so I know just how long it will be until I get back into go-slow mode. Even better today; I spent the whole day in yoga pants (and I did not do any yoga). I did both drop off and pick up dressed down (thanks to this genius pair) and I DIDN'T CARE. This is momentous. I feel like I am growing. I tidied up, walked the pup round the fields, did my Alexander Technique semi-supine thing, internet-shopped and cooked dinner. That was it and I loved every minute.

via crush cul de sac
I check myself, in the knowledge that at some point in the future I will rue the day I enjoyed doing so little. I get the impression that this is very much a product of having too much to do and that when that tails off - empty nest time, for example - that I will miss the busy-ness. I wonder if I will no longer be able to fill my days in the way I do now, when they are always punctuated by the school run. But then I figure - there will be time to do all of those other things - like going to London to frequent galleries and see a matinee of the ballet. Or having leisurely lunches with old friends. Or planting a flower bed. Something that is open-ended and has no time constraint.

I still spend an utterly disproportionate amount of time thinking about clothes and outfits and I do wonder about my own shallowness in this regard. Why does it matter so? But then I figure - it's a hobby for me - nothing more, nothing less.

I idly consider what I would say if my little business grew and grew and I became the next Josie Maran (but without the supermodel credentials). I ponder how I would do it all and whether that sort of work wouldn't feel quite like work as it would be beautifully self-serving?

I decide 'for' and 'against' arguments for repainting the picket fence round our house; my thinking is that  I quite like it weathered and tarnished. But then maybe not...

I consider if it will ever properly be summer in this country again.

I spend a lot of time checking my posture.

I get excited about future plans, about visiting family in Dubai in a few weeks and having old Uni friends to stay in June.

And some evenings, I watch an episode of 'Gossip Girl' and think about what it would be like to be fabulously wealthy and not yet 18. Pure escapism.

I try and stay really positive that one day I will be pain-free.

I feel lucky countless times in the day; for the good life I have.

via patterson maker

Fall or walk on...

posted on: Wednesday, 8 May 2013

I am working on a monster, juggernaut of a project at work that is taking up every waking moment. The lack of balance right now is almost comedic; if I were a tight-rope walker I'd be in that wobble where you don't know if the walker is going to fall or hold it together and keep on walking. C'est moi, right now.

via cape cod collegiate
We did however go away for a couple of days to the Isle of Wight (a small island off the south coast of England). I can see this island when I walk on the stretch of beach nearby and it's only a few miles of water that separate it from the mainland. Still, getting there on a boat and staying a day or two felt so much like a proper holiday, I can't tell you. We stayed right on the water (dream come true for me) and watched the boats go by as if watching birds flying by. I am not boat-y - people round here really are - and I have always shunned it due to a fairly terminal sea-sickness affliction. But seeing people on the water and watching the tide ebb and flow; it all worked for me like a little restorative kick. And...there was more sea glass than we knew what to do with.

This week we approach Boo's twelfth birthday - it's staggering it has been that long since she arrived. She is the coolest companion right now; her father's wit is manifesting itself and she is full of dry, smart commentary about life - from the eyes of a tween. One last year before teenage-hood... ;-)

My days are still punctuated by dog walks, school runs, yoga and appointments with specialists about the pain. A glint of hope on the horizon that a dentist I have seen not only gets what it is, but has suggested a possibly that might help. I have acknowledged that it is a multi-faceted thing and if I am ever to be free of it I have take a multi-faceted approach. I read things like this with real interest though as it suggests to me just how holistic a view one has to take to understand the effects of a stressful life.

Some really thought-provoking comments were left to my last post - I love how it becomes a debate when I type what is in my mind and people leave their view. Not once have I ever encountered a troll-esque response, even after years of blogging. I consider myself lucky for that as some of my thoughts are self-indulgent to say the least. It's good to know that we all have these periods of introspection and that they are necessary.

Things far on the horizon are starting to come into focus - back to Portugal this summer, where we will spend Christmas, planning a big house renovation next year. Working it all out...life has bumps but in all seriousness: life is good.

via cape cod collegiate

I changed my mind...

posted on: Tuesday, 7 May 2013

There is incredulity in our family; for years I said I would never get a dog. I was resolutely a cat person and had no understanding or empathy for dog lovers. The smell, the hair, the slobbery chops. Didn't get it. Then one day I did a complete and utter U-turn. My kids could not get over it. And before I could change my mind, within days we had our puppy. I did the unthinkable in parenting; I went back on what I had originally said. I gave mixed messages! I changed my mind.

But...getting that puppy was an enormous life lesson to me. It changed our family - without wanting to be over-dramatic - it was like that moment in 'Anne of Green Gables' where Marilla Cuthbert said that the reason they were sent an orphan girl was because He knew they needed her. We didn't know we needed a dog until he became a part of our lives and now - we are richer for it. And I love him. As in LOVE him.

via elsa may, photograph by william waldron
And so to changing my mind. For years I staunchly defended being a working mother; in much the same way as I staunchly declared that I would never own a dog. I knew my arguments for and against and I was sticking to them. This is what I thought (in no particular order):
  • Being a working mother meant I was a good role model for my kids; particularly my daughter (I suspect this was a feminist notion; I studied feminism at University but I wonder if I have a slightly warped idea of how it can apply in real life).
  • I would have interesting things to talk to my husband about.
  • I would maintain my career and achieve professional progression.
  • I was using my education.
  • I was using my brain.
  • I was financially independent; I had the ability to earn money.
  • It got me out the house.
  • My mum did it (I think this is a crucial point...)
  • It meant I didn't have too much time on my hands.
  • I was not 'just' a housewife....eeek!
The final of these is the most controversial as I realise now that I was so clueless about what it actually means to run a family properly. I thought if I skimmed the surface of everything then it would all fall into place. It took me a really long time to realise that there is so much more to it than that. Being there - being present - being reliable and 'in the room'; that is what it's all about. And if that bears the label 'housewife' then so be it. It's a noble profession.

I saw absolutely no reason why I shouldn't work, albeit part time, after my children were born. I cherished my job, I worked tirelessly year after year, getting promoted and keeping up a professional reputation in my field. I rushed everywhere as I was always on borrowed time and got so used to living this way that frankly, whenever anyone questioned me I would be defensive. In early posts on this blog I write about how much I enjoy working and I can sense the defiance in my voice; I would have gone to the ends of the earth to protect that status quo.

So fast forward a few years. What changed? What gentle persuasion formed a now opposing view? How is it that now I look back and think: what on earth was I doing all those years?! Was I brainwashed? Was it naivety? Is this an age thing? Does approaching forty mean that life starts to make sense in a way it never did before? Or is it that underneath it all, I realised that there was such a cost to my choice of working. Women can do anything and everything; it's just that in doing everything you exhaust yourself to the point of delirium. And who gains?

Of course there is a financial reality and in many cases there's no choice. I look back on career counselling at school and wonder how we ever thought it was so easy as choosing a career and pursuing it. For me it was a series of little things that finally led me to working with the law and I look back and realise I never really chose that path. It chose me.

I definitely don't regret it, I'm just curious that I never really understood the drive in me to work. Even when working stopped working. One to ponder. Funny how life goes...I am not sure that in years to come I will follow a life choice that has such far-reaching consequences without giving it more thought...