Making sense...

posted on: Thursday, 26 February 2015

Along the way, I've been thinking a lot about what messages we give young girls about what the future holds for them. I have a daughter, but also I have nieces who are embarking on different paths in life. One of my nieces is incredibly talented as an actress and singer and we, as an extended family, are trying to find the right way to advise her. She wants to pursue her dreams on the stage, but as the responsible adults we all know that those opportunities can be hard to achieve; her lofty aspirations. However who are we to dissuade her? Isn't our role - or my role as her Aunt - to give her hope that there can be limitless possibilities? Not to cut her down with negativity? There is this fine balance between being realistic and stamping on a dream. I don't want to stamp. So I shan't...I shall be the crazy Aunt who insists that anything is possible.

I wonder about bringing up a teenage girl. I have written before about the need for brutal honesty with my daughter and how I have had to explain realities of life in a way I never imagined. I didn't expect I would be covering topics i) this early and ii) in as much detail. A side effect of the Internet is that everything I could think of (and some I couldn't) is known to her anyway. The role of the mother is no longer to manage the way in which topics are introduced (they are already there), it is to interpret the topics and to provide meaning. Nothing is off limits.

This can be viewed as a blessing or a curse; there was an exact point in recent years at which I said to myself: man up Lou, have the difficult conversation. Now I am more used to it, I can be found having these conversations with her everywhere; 'the unreality of porn' whilst walking the supermarket aisles, 'glue-sniffing' whilst driving home, 'the role of feminism' whilst walking the dog. Modern parenting is about bravery, from what I can see. There is no shirking away.

Because if I don't do it, the Internet will. And I'm not sure the Internet has love and trust and consistency on its mind.

I have written a separate article for the blogzine 'Selfish Mother' where I ponder motherhood and bringing up girls and boys; it can be read here.

Meanwhile, on smaller matters, here is an irony; the heavy lifting associated with bringing firewood into the house last week, to ally the freezing temperatures (well, not freezing exactly, but not warm) has given me a muscle sprain. It hurts to breathe in, the muscles around my ribs unused to the exertion required to live like frontier woman. I am not frontier woman. I wonder what type of woman I am. I was getting up at 6am to make the fire to provide heat for my family, and this is where I end up. I know I am may be over-dwelling on domestics but honestly it does lead me to conclude: what a delicate flower I am to injure myself tending house. Just as well I was not a scullery maid in Victorian times.

It's Thursday, it's drizzling, my house is a tip. But I did cover the finer points on 'boys: don't be too keen' on the school run this morning. Hurrah for that.

Educating Rita...

posted on: Friday, 13 February 2015

The open day for the writing degree was last weekend; a wood-panelled room, me and three tutors well-versed in academia. I got to talk about writing. It felt like I had come home. I think this might be good for me. Now I have to apply and see if I can get a place...

I've spent a week being busy...with some lovely interludes, like meeting my good friend Amanda at The Pig and devouring gorgeous food and even better chat.

Then, there are the domestics. Ever present.

The not-buying-anything resolution was short-lived. As predicted by my readers.

There were morning walks, with the pup, on the beach and morning runs at the marina. And yoga and circuit training. I was meant to run a 10K race last weekend and I bailed. I keep doing this; entering and not doing. I have to conclude that competitive running is just not for me. Full stop.

I am preparing a portfolio of writing to submit for the degree course; absolutely daunting. But good.

I finished reading 'Elizabeth is Missing' and worried about Dementia a little more than I did before.

Another parent's evening (Boo this time) and the clarity you get from good teachers who tell you like it is. She's a good girl my daughter; she'll do well, I hope. Turns out (in a comment from her philosophy teacher) that she can formulate an ethical argument that rocks. This pleases me. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I saw 19 deer in the fields by my house today, in a herd. The leader has grown antlers now. I quite like that we rub along, the deer and I. They don't scarper, they know as I approach that I don't mean them harm.

It's half term next week, thank goodness. The school run is killing me slowly.

I long for Spring and a semblance of good weather. The long winter is getting on my last nerve.

I watched four episodes of 'Sex and the City'. For old time's sake.

It's Friday night, happy weekend :-)

Putting yourself out there...

posted on: Tuesday, 3 February 2015

I'm a natural introvert. My friend Sarah disputes this as she associates introverts with the socially inept, shy and trembling in the corner. I am not shy but I am reticent. I am an observer and it's not normal for me to put myself out there. Yet when comfortable, I can be positively chatty and open. Almost extroverted. However, too much social interaction fatigues me and I then long to be alone. It's a curious balance.

Writing this blog has forced me to put myself out there, although it's been very much on my terms. Written anonymously; I rarely share pictures of myself or my family, that part of me that is kept very separate from what I post here. I don't tell people I meet that I blog and can go cold at the prospect of everyone I know in the 'real world' reading this anthology of my thoughts. I fall somewhere between public and private.

A while back I started a small business called L'Apothecary and for a while I completely put myself out there. I learnt an enormous amount from it and though the business itself reverted to a kitchen table exercise for me (I still take bespoke orders), it did illustrate what it can feel like to start something, believe in it passionately and then stop (fail). Did it fail? I made choices about it, which in retrospect where sensible ones. But nevertheless when I read back on blog posts I wrote at the time, I see the germ of something that could have been something and I wonder, did I do the right thing in walking away? I also see many people around me starting new ventures and making them succeed, all the time evolving them from one thing to another. I feel a combination of awe and envy.

I do wonder whether all that time I spent in a corporate environment was the polar opposite of putting myself out there. It was safe and sheltered and though I had massive responsibility in my job, I recognise that I did it under the umbrella of a corporate structure. Not a house of straw but a house of iron. It was a household-name company so ultimately if everything went wrong, there were always lawyers who could sort it all out! The only times I recall really putting myself out there was when I had an ethical objection to something which was being proposed. This happened increasingly towards the end of my time there. In fact in the end it became a symptom of why I had to leave; if you are not playing the same tune, corporate life can become swiftly less comfortable!

I have come full circle as I now seriously consider embarking on going back to University to study writing. I'll be putting myself out there again, as strange as that might feel to me. Strange but good.

The funny thing is (and this is what I have noticed about myself) in recent times, the less I put myself out there, the more life seemed to scare me.

I want it to be the other way around. Life shouldn't scare me! Time to get busy.