Where do I belong and is the treadmill set too fast?

February 26, 2017

 

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Nowadays, as the world seems to be turning upside down, more than ever, I wonder where I belong. Born in one country, a child in another, an adolescent in yet a new place and an adult again, elsewhere.

I now have a husband, children and a job. My friends and family live and come from all works of life, all religions, all ethnicities. I can Skype, FaceTime, FaceBook and yet I feel alone much of the time.

From an early age I have envied those brought up in a tiny village, with generations of family before them, ahead of them and around them. Perhaps, in reality , as I look at that life as paradise, they look longingly  to the outside and want to escape their bubble. Who has the better world?

Previously I welcomed many into my life, but lately I am closed to this sharing. The new people I meet experience a wall; a dense, hard, impenetrable wall. Is this a normal part of growing up, of the pressures of work, family  and life? I can’t say I like it. I preferred who I was before.

My disabled child opened up a new world, I met other parents and did charity work, but now, I find I have shut the door on this too as he ages and worsens. Or perhaps support just naturally falls away when no improvement is seen and the ‘project’ becomes never ending .

There is that old story about putting the carrot, the egg and the coffee bean in boiling water. The hard carrot softens, the fragile egg, becomes hard and brittle, but the coffee bean changes the water. Yes, yes, yes, I desperately want to be that coffee bean, but each day I become harder and more brittle, in grave danger of shattering.

Perhaps like my insane Dalmatian pictured above, I should just put my ears back and run, run into the unknown and just experience undiluted joy. To her, home is where her family who love and feed her reside, a simple solution to the problem.

That’s the trouble with humans, sometimes we just overthink life. Perhaps all we need is quiet time, a time to meditate, or pray, be peaceful, to listen to birdsong, to feel joy, to be present here and now, just like my Dalmatian.

February 12, 2017

A short story for those longing for the sun in the long winters She folded her legs under her and rested her book to one side. As she lay her head against the wall she was a small figure in the window seat, seated in the few rays of sunshine penetrating the winter gloom. […]

via Diaspora tabanca — Headless

Diaspora tabanca

February 12, 2017

A short story for those longing for the sun in the long winters

 

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She folded her legs under her and rested her book to one side. As she lay her head against the wall she was a small figure in the window seat, seated in the few rays of sunshine penetrating the winter gloom.
Where is home now she wondered? Should I call home the place where I was born, or this place that I know like the back of my hand? She placed a protective hand over the imperceptible swell of her belly.
Soon they would be moving, far west, a place they had giggled and chosen by closing their eyes, holding hands and placing a finger on a map. At the time it had seemed adventurous, bohemian, but now she was just scared. They had visited, sleeping in their car, unable to afford even the cheapest motel. Would home soon be the place she brought up her children, where she rested her head at night? Could anyone nowadays call one place home?
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She could feel the sun beating down on her back, the smell of curry in the air, the music pounding in her chest, making her heart beat faster.
She opened her eyes, a child again, on an island in paradise. There were so many people, so many colours. Women oiled their dark, shining, waist length hair with coconut oil, their saris bright in the sunshine. There was Mr Chin’s son taking the money in his father’s shop, calculating sums in his head, faster than you could press the buttons on a calculator.
When she closed her eyes again, she swore she could smell the sweetness of the steam floating from the laundry.
She hugged herself, the winter cold penetrating, despite the thoughts in her head. She closed her eyes tighter, a tear running down her face, despite her efforts to stop the flow. Sometimes she heard angels lately in her dreams. It reminded her of the choir raising their voices past the high roof of the church, in the hope of reaching heaven with their sound. Some faces pale, some peanut butter brown, some dark as night, all smiling, all joyous. Did they remember her?
As darkness closed in she remained at the now icy window. She listened as the boiler clicked in. If she kept her eyes closed she could journey to a different night, a different time. A time where night breezes caressed her skin, not embraced her in icy fingers. A time where she was careful of the hot oil in the clay diyas. When she would blow her tiny child’s fingers then light more diyas, and see a world full of light, as Divali celebrations spread throughout the country.
But, the colours faded as the plane drew further away, away from the white sand and smiling faces, away from where the mountains touched the clouds.
Now they were moving to the sea again. On their visit she had inhaled deeply and fallen in love with the rich, salty smell filling her nostrils, where they had sat on the beach and shared their single portion of fish and chips, feeding each other and speaking of the future. The voices were new, Gaelic apparently, but she liked the way it sounded.
She would open her eyes in the future to ringing bells and friendly arms, pale and long reaching out to pull her in. It would be cold, with walls of stone and no sun. Where the gravestones bore the same names as the roads, the places and the people who called to her. They had chosen a magical, protected place, where the roads were narrow and twisting, the roofs thatched and children played in the nearby green. Where her stomach would swell, then flatten, in an endless, age old cycle.
Their new home would look out onto rolling green fields, cattle blinking in surprise and the sheep huddling together in fright as you approached them.
But for now, she was tired, too tired, she opened her eyes to wide roads and tall buildings, where as she swayed and swung on the train daily, the men were all in black and no one smiled, as if someone had died. She often wondered why no one smiled, why everyone and everything had to move so fast. She had lived here a long time, so why now did she close her eyes, turn to face the sun and long to see a smile. Her stomach rumbled, reminding her she must eat, must feed the life growing inside her. She stiffly unfolded her legs and climbed out the window seat. She picked up a shiny hard, red apple and crunched the crisp texture. She recalled a time when the sun beat down and she picked soft, yellow mangoes, and ate them, relishing the juices dripping down her chin. She discarded the apple in distaste.
Her husband came in and put his arms around her. The last of the boxes were loaded, it was time to leave. She leant back in his arms as he kissed her neck and caressed her belly.
If she opened her eyes and looked towards the future, she would know that when their children hugged her tightly and friends reached out to hold her, there were many places that she would now call home. But, for now, as they pulled the door closed, and said farewell to London, their journey was only just beginning.

Stepping out of your box

June 12, 2016

Being in a box. Being put in a box. Fighting your way out the box. Whatever way you look at it your reaction to the box the world puts you is what makes you; not the actual box. People tend to forget that. 

My first realisation of this was when I wanted to take part in a carnival parade, the costume was a bikini. When I told a frienemy(that’s a thing , part of the social niceties of being female and a whole other blog post) she laughed loud and hard at the prospect. Box: I’m a Mum with a comfortable post baby body, suitable for school runs and fundraising.

Did I cringe, drop out , say you’re right, what was I thinking. No? I bloody well got up at 5am(only free time that could be found with 3 kids) and I walked. Uphill, downhill, the scenery changing daily. I rocked that bikini. 

  
Fast forward a few years, I now have a big, strong,lazy son, that’s his thing, that’s his box. But I’ve come to realise his family contribute to keeping him in that box. It’s easier. 

Take a recent conversation 

Me: can you help me clean out the shed?

Dad(before son can draw breath): why would he want to be doing that? He won’t like doing that in his summer holidays. 

Son: shrugs, yeah, I don’t want to clean out the shed. 

What Dad could’ve said: what a lovely project for you and Mum to do over summer holidays. I look forward to seeing your ideas to transform the shed. 
But he put him back in his box. Families do that a lot, that’s why on family occasions , people revert to their childhood roles and squabbles. 

The ‘pretty’ one-she’s now CEO of a massive corporation, I think she can talk about something other than her hair. 

Or there’s the bookish one who ‘hates’ kids- she’s a devoted Mum whose family comes before her job. But the family only talk about her job and ask about her plans for the next step up the ladder. 

Being boxed in limits your mind, your thinking and your actions, but it’s up to you to fight your way out of a box you don’t like. If your family and friends help, yeah, if not, don’t give up, it’s your life, not theirs. Did I put my kids in boxes, sadly I did, “you’re going to be this when you grow up and so on.” Sound familiar?

 But I’ve finally stopped  and I can’t wait to see how they turn out when they’re not boxed in and the sky’s the limit. 

  

A woman’s strength. Generational gaps? 

March 25, 2016

  

Women never cease to amaze me, but it feels like it’s skipped a generation. My grandmother’s generation , 85-105, like the Queen are unfaltering, hard working and inspirational. 

Then there are the 56-84,weak willed, complaining, expecting and rude. Why, what has happened in society to create that divide?

But the warriors have returned. 36-55.These women fight for their rights, and their children’s rights. They fight to find why their children have autism, fundraise to find cures. They blow their elders out the water. 

I’m doing a postgraduate qualification at present. And as I look at the women around me I am inspired. 

One, unable to find a desirable partner, but having supportive parents, has found a sperm donor, had a baby and breast feeds in between lectures. 

Another has had a traumatic loss of her baby. She still turns up! She doesn’t moan. 

Another will be days away from giving birth at the final exam. She hasn’t deferred, she hasn’t complained. She hasn’t missed a lecture. 

I don’t see this in the 25-35, they expect something for nothing, they are lazy and show no solidarity. 

But 15-24, these teens and early 20s are fighting against unemployment, showing innervation and getting on with it. 

Obviously I generalise but it is an oddity. Do strong women raise weak women? Are the strong women inspired by their grandparents, not their parents? 

Just my observation. What are your thoughts?

Competing with myself

January 24, 2016

That’s supposed to improve you. Make you better.

What about the downside? The obsessive A type personalities, who strive and strive until they break.

Maybe there comes a time to say, hey, I’m good enough. And learn that delegation is not an admission of failure.

The past: Taking on a full time senior position and working long hours, regular exercise to keep slim, keeping a four story house spotless, looking after 3 kids and training to teach my disabled son at home. Keeping going until my body fell apart.

The present: I’ve recovered and a few years later find myself heading down the same road. Taking on more and more and more. Back to insomnia, severe anaemia, fatigue and this time severely overweight (the 3 hour gym sessions ceased with a torn shoulder). God, aren’t we supposed to learn from our mistakes.

The future(hopefully):

  1.  Accepting I cannot do as much as I’d like.
  2. Stopping caring about people’s opinions so much. I’m paranoid they’ll think I’m not good enough, I’m useless. Why? Who gives a f***.
  3. Finding the happy.

It’s not going to be easy. Change takes practice. But step one is the willingness to change.

Self improvement does not mean self flagellation. Being better than I was the day before, it’s time I interpreted that in a way that’s good for me, a better me.

Conditional vs unconditional love

July 28, 2015

With time and age I no longer believe in or give unconditional love. I made this decision in 2010 for my mental wellbeing and to give myself the ability to move forwards and stop looking back. Lately I’ve been reminded that I let this life rule lapse. 
I cannot give my love freely…

 to those who abuse,

to those who dole out continuous servings of hostility and unkindness,

to those who take repeatedly(and I mean years) without giving back, 

to those who, on a daily basis, deliberately say words designed to cause maximum unhappiness to the listener, 

to those who rate you by how much material matter they can get from you and turn their noses up at your time, effort or love. 

I can understand these people. I can empathize. I can feel their pain and sadness. But I cannot keep them in my life. I cannot keep my arms held tight around them as they repeatedly stab and drain my life blood. 

Is it selfish to want to have something left within me to give myself and others?  
Perhaps those who say we should give unconditional love have themselves been loved unconditionally. 

To be loved freely. The thought is like the deepest gulp of the freshest air. Heady. And nice.  
 I am now blessed to have some good and incredible people in my life. 
I give them all of my conditional love. Perhaps in time they will teach me this elusive unconditional love. 

My guide to looking good, feeling great and getting out with zero income

June 27, 2013

My guide to looking good, feeling great and getting out with zero income.

Feminism means choices. Fact or fiction?

September 16, 2012

Sometimes I think feminism be dammed, I just want a Richard Gere,Sally Field moment. Yes, I want a handsome, seriously fit guy to scoop me up and carry me away from all my problems. Ha, the next guy in a white suit scooping me up and carrying me away will more likely be an angel after I’ve been hit by a bus.

So, maybe I’ll scrap that idea and figure out another way to support my family. Being a full time mom would be my preference. It’s a hard task, 24/7 and requires all your physical and mental energy. But, here’s the catch, it pays zilch.

So we women work both inside and outside the home for financial reasons, are uber organised and pray no one gets sick. How many of us get to lean on someone else and have our Pretty Woman moment (without the hooker bit). How many ‘feminists’ are supporting their family, bringing in the money, keeping medical insurance going, smiling when their partners downsize or quit the rat race because they are exhausted and the woman earns more anyway.

Feminists put down your placards, I’m still for equal pay, after all I’m not busting my balls for less money. But when you were screaming for certain rights, were some of you perhaps living in a rarefied world of choice and affordable childcare? Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the chance to vote, get a job and all that , but so many of us work because we have to in order to keep a roof over our heads and pay the bills, the choice to be full time moms has been taken away.

So until we get the luxury of choice, the only option is to switch on the DVD, pour a glass of wine and escape for a few moments to our magic, movie worlds. I can understand the surge in sales in cookery books and Cath Kidston aprons. Some of us want to escape, to pretend we are serving up home cooked meals, looking gorgeous with smiling kids and a handsome husband round the table,whilst also being super woman and earning bucket loads of money of course. Actually, that thought is so far  from the reality of coming home exhausted, sticking a pizza in the microwave(an oven takes too long) and leaving everyone to fend for themselves that I want to laugh, albeit a hysterical , exhausted laugh.

Fact or fiction

Snakes and Ladders

September 16, 2012

Snakes and Ladders

Qualified. Got a good job. Had work linked credit card. All petrol, overseas calls and Vogue paid for(once a fashionista always a fashionista). Yep, I was only landing on ladders. I had the cutest, best behaved baby possible, we nicknamed him the Gerber baby, he was that cute. Stunning house, mortgage paid off in full in a few years. I was not yet 30. I was so in sight of number 100 on that board.

Then baby number two, then autism, then epilepsy. I was landing on a few snakes, but I could still see the number 100. Then adverse reactions to medication, brain damage. Baby number three. Life was too hectic.

We decided to move, make a fresh start. In hindsight I believe this is called a stress reaction or trying to run away from your problems. Please note this distraction will only work for so long. In a stressful situation, take a holiday instead and reassess things,or sit on top of a hill and drink in the view and breath. Do not  buy a massive, overpriced Victorian wreck(Sarah Beeny’s influence has a lot to answer for). For a while we did lose ourselves in restoration and creating a thing of beauty. It was a brief interlude, I think we must have missed a few rolls of the dice at that point.

Then recession and reality hits. Bridging loans. Job losses. House prices dropping like  stones. The snakes were getting longer and I was forced further down the board.

We are forced to sell. We relocate and after a couple years we finally manage to buy a little house,but of course, now have a big mortgage. I throw the dice again. Another snake, more redundancy,sick child,too broke to pay my bills(what is it with the gas and electricity companies increasing the bills drastically year after year). I am nearly back at the beginning of the board. Crap. How did this happen. Why aren’t I landing on ladders any more?

But I’m not throwing the board and dice at the world in a tantrum because I’m losing,although I can sometimes relate to that feeling aka packing it all in and back backing around the world or sticking your head in the sand. I’m still in the game,I have no choice,I have to win this game. Odds are, having encountered so many snakes I’m overdue to climb some ladders soon. Vertigo here I come. I’ll handle the dizzy heights better this time round.