Write on

So it’s the last week in January already, and the first week of my 50th year.  Not sure how that happened – less than one year until the big five-oh.  If you’d asked me at 16 – or even 21 – what I would have accomplished or be doing by the time I hit my half century I doubt it would bear much resemblance to the life I’m living.

I suspect I would have predicted husband, kids, career (perhaps in writing), a decent-sized house and a foreign holiday or two each year.  In other words, I would have been the stereotypical, suburban, middle-aged woman – a “stepford wife” if you like.  Nothing wrong with that, however that’s not what’s happened.  Not yet anyway.

I’m a single lady (even that’s debatable some days…), no kids (but I have acquired 9 godchildren along the way), just given up my career to start afresh (never did write that novel), and trying to limit myself to just five festivals a year.  Spending time in British fields listening to music, come rain or shine, rather than lazing on far-flung beaches.  I do have a little house of my own and a grumpy cat for company though.  Not to mention a fantastic network of amazing friends who I appreciate more with each passing year.

The support I’ve received while setting up my new business has been humbling.  People are genuinely interested, and want to talk to me about it, even if they do secretly think I’ve lost my senses!  Two of my friends have signed up with me to lose weight, which is brilliant and they are both doing well.  I’m so proud of them!

Prior to becoming self-employed I worked primarily in the public sector after graduating from university, which was my preference at the time.  However after being made redundant in 2009 I spent a couple of years working in the private sector for a premium skin care company, which I really enjoyed.  Getting discounted products was a perk not to be sniffed at too!  However financial pressures dictated I needed to earn a little more and so I returned to the public sector again.

A week or so ago I met up with one of my former skincare colleagues, and posted on social media about how I missed working there, along with a picture of some samples I’d been gifted – I’m a sucker for a freebie!  A uni friend who runs a beauty industry magazine contacted me after seeing that post and offered me a freelance job writing a weekly column.  This would be flexible enough to fit around my diet plan clients and keep me out of mischief while I established my business.

So, reader, of course I said yes.  Another new chapter has opened.  I’m finally writing for a living (well, expenses and free products) – my 16 year-old self would be proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate good times

Today is my birthday; another year ticked past in the blink of an eye.  I’m happier and healthier than last year.  I’m clearer on what I want.  Still single, but I’d rather be single and happy than with the wrong person and constrained.

I spent the weekend with some of my most favourite people and was really spoilt.  I’m so lucky!  One of my fabulous friends (the previously mentioned social media guru) bought me my own web domain.  I am now a dot com.  Get me.  The observant among you may have spotted that already.

So much is lined up for the next nine months that I can’t wait to get on with it.  A couple of jewellery making workshops; a handful of comedy gigs; a music festival in Paris; camping in Devon; two weeks in the Outer Hebrides/Western Isles; a music festival in Dorset and then a week in Nashville.   All with different groups of amazing people.  I’m not sure how i shall find the time to go to work.   Sadly I have to though to fund my extravagant year.

Maybe, in the course of doing all that, I’ll stumble over Mr Right – or at least Mr Right for Now.  Keep your fingers crossed for me blogverse.  Have a great day – and eat a cake to celebrate my special day with me, if you feel so inclined.

It’s my party

So this week has been “interesting” as they say, with some highs and real lows both personally and professionally. However it’s now Saturday and I’ve been looking forward to tonight for weeks. Off to the Woo to spend time celebrating me with some of my closest friends. I can’t wait to be with people who genuinely care about me.

True, lasting friendship is one of life’s real joys. As soon as you work out those who are just around out of habit, only there for their own benefit, or while times are good, you can really start to identify the folk who are always there when you need them; tenacious supporters (& piss-takers at times) who always have your back and are in your corner. Clearly they must do yoga in their spare time to be that limber…

Anyway I’m seeing a lot of them tonight and so, for today at least, all is good. Love you guys.

Moving on

To give the boy his due, we did actually meet up and have a conversation about his “Dear John” text.  His suggestion.  I wasn’t entirely sure how things would go, but we met up in town and had a few drinks.  The conversation wasn’t too awkward, and it turns out it was him and not me.  Ha!  I’ve referred to him as a fuckwit and as going through some kind of midlife crisis and I’m not taking that back, but we left our evening amicably and as friends still, I think.

On the way home I booked tickets for a music festival in Paris as commiseration, and am also in the process of booking two weeks away in the Outer Hebrides, so there is good stuff happening.  Also had a few sneaky doughnuts (oops) but as I’ve just bought the Tom Kerridge healthy eating cookbooks, those are off the menu again now.  I refuse to wallow!

So back being single again.  Oh well.  Onwards and upwards – and I’m looking around all the corners.

For auld lang syne

So we’re at the first day of the year again already. 2017 was a challenging year, but not without its rewards. I spent far more time in ICU wards than I would have liked and, although one of the OAPs pulled through and is restored to good health, we lost another earlier this month.

Through that turmoil,  some big work changes and the start of a fledgling relationship, I’ve been surprised by the reactions of some. You think when you hit this age that friendships are set but this year proved otherwise. I’ve been humbled by the support and love given by many, and saddened by those who stepped back or away completely for whatever reason. Others have reconnected and new friendships have also been forged. On balance my circle is healthier for it.

All the best for 2018. Grasp it, enjoy it, live it. It’ll be awesome, it’ll hurt, you’ll laugh and you’ll cry. Submerse yourself in it and do the best you can. Life is short; don’t waste it, make it count.

As my favourite group of Swedes would say (and did say, way back in 1979)  Happy New Year.

No more champagne
And the fireworks are through
Here we are, me and you
Feeling lost and feeling blue
It’s the end of the party
And the morning seems so grey
So unlike yesterday
Now’s the time for us to say…
Happy New Year, Happy New Year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy New Year, Happy New Year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Sometimes I see
How the brave new world arrives
And I see how it thrives
In the ashes of our lives
Oh yes, man is a fool
And he thinks he’ll be okay
Dragging on, feet of clay
Never knowing he’s astray
Keeps on going anyway…

Seems to me now
That the dreams we had before
Are all dead, nothing more
Than confetti on the floor
It’s the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say what we’ll find
What lies waiting down the line
At the end of eighty-nine…

It’s a new dawn, new day

I had a date tonight.  We ate cheese, drank wine, laughed, and talked a lot. Will I see him again? I doubt it.  He’s a lovely guy and on paper he’s pretty much the perfect match. But… Chemistry. That elusive spark. Not there.

Sometimes I think I’m single because my expectations are too high.  Sometimes I think they aren’t high enough. I want a soulmate. Someone who champions me, believes in me, loves me unconditionally and can tell me to rein it in.  I know they exist; several close friends have found theirs. There’s always hope.

What I don’t want is someone with so much emotional baggage that we can’t carry it between us.  Someone so involved in their own drama that they can’t see anything else.

I ran into an ex and his current girlfriend last week at a party. Those who knew we’d dated were being all over-dramatic about it, waiting (hoping?) for fireworks. We disappointed them; had a hug and a quick catch up then moved on.  I thought it was entertaining and was pleased to see him happy.  She seems a challenge, but I liked her.  It reminded me of why we didn’t work out and reaffirmed that not “settling” is the best road for me.

I know what I don’t want. I sometimes think I know who I want, but then talk myself out of it.  What I do know is hope springs eternal. And, to quote Nina Simone, this old world is a new world and a bold world; I’m feeling good.

Que?

I got a bit philosophical on Facebook this week, after some fairly childlike shenanigans in my main social group leading to most of us being blocked and unfriended after someone was challenged over some fairly inappropriate behaviour.  It’s the second time this year a couple have chosen to extract themselves from the group with no explanation and it’s sad, in most senses of the word.

I always assumed that when I was a “grown-up” that kind of behaviour would be left behind in the playground, but it seems to just as prevalent. Maybe social media brings it to the fore, and maybe also brings out the worst in some people.  Gives them a platform with the shield of not being face to face or having to own their behaviours or choices. Who really knows, but it’s caused some turmoil and really revealed that you don’t always know people as well as you think.

I’ve always been lucky to have a fairly large social circle. About three main groups with very slight areas of crossover if mapped on a Venn diagram.  One is my “home” group and comprises those I met at infant, junior and secondary school and am still in contact with, plus people I worked with while a student. It’s a fairly static group these days; the new additions mainly being babies. The second is my “uni girls” group. Again, fairly static, I’m the only single one and the majority have children and/or work in education. The third and biggest group is the “woo folk”; people I met through a male friend at uni and have known since my late teens and early twenties. The core is fairly constant but there have been some departures and arrivals over the years, but this year has seen real change.

As well as the “it’s my ball and I’m taking it home” nonsense, others have also been dealing with serious health issues and family problems. However we have also had great times away together as well as celebrating birthdays, an engagement and a wedding.  And we’ve also had some new people join our group and it’s been fabulous.  I said on Facebook that they’d arrived “crashing in with glasses in hand and it feels they’ve always been there. And they’ll stay”. It’s true. Although I only met them a relatively short while ago, we are connected.  I feel know them better than the ones who chose to leave, one of whom I’d known over twenty years.  

I was in a virtual chat with two of them after midnight yesterday discussing dating, kissing critique, enormous cheeses and flavoured tequila. It involved Fawlty Towers impressions, hobbit references, train journeys and tears of laughter. It was wonderful, refreshing and ridiculous. Perfect.

 I call these combined groups my tribe. It may sound corny or trite, but I don’t care. We are all connected through mutual friends, shared values, similar interests and experiences, some losses and ridiculous senses of humour.  But at the middle is mutual respect and love. They both shine through.

This year has been a bit of an odd one in terms of friendships particularly, but I do think it’s been a leveller as well as an eye-opener.  People’s reactions to change, and to you making life-changing choices, can be very interesting.  Particularly when it throws their balance off when you refuse to engage with their power games and instead challenge their belief that everything revolves around them.  For me it’s helped to reveal what and who are truly important. I feel I’ve found my space and it’s a good place. Life is short. Grab it, use it, love it, don’t waste it.