Saturday, 30 December 2017

How to Start all Over Again - The Interlude.

When I wrote this post back in June I named it ‘part one’ because it seemed like I was in a growth spurt and I was learning lots about life and thus yoda-Alli had much wisdom to impart. 

However, One of the harsh realities of life is that progress does not often follow a steady upward curve but instead a jagged line of peaks and troughs and sometimes what seems like an endless mediocre stretch of time where the gradient is not there at all. 

In truth I do have part two of ‘How to Start all Over Again (Again)’ written, at least most of it. But the way of progress lately has been more a steady slog and that makes for a lot less exciting writing...and reading. 

So, I thought an Interlude should be indulged and acknowledged, especially considering it is that strange period of time in-between  Christmas and New Years, a time of binging on Netflix, eating yourself into a diabetic coma and of course melancholic reflection. 💀

How’s your year been? Mine has  been one of my most difficult years to date (and that’s saying something).  That’s not to say it hasn’t been a good one, there have been rekindled friendships, wild nights out and many comforting solo cinema trips. But it’s also been a year of extended stress leave, a break up and learning to live with the disapproval of others. But I’m still standing! In fact I’m standing on my own two feet more than I ever have, the independence is both empowering and  lonely. 

With the new year approaching and all the ‘new you’ rhetoric being bandied about, I sought my particular Hogmanay wisdom in the latest production of Little Women:

Nothing is ever perfect 
But it can be just right. 

This year I aspire more for contentment than improvement. Happy New Year xxw

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Path Ends Here

A sign at the end of the road, a warning, turn back! Uncharted territory lies ahead, rough terrain, brambles and stinging nettles, wild dogs and bogeymen. A wiser soul might take heed.  But there, beyond the perimeter, is my domain.

I am adventurer born out of necessity, an exile turned pioneer. If ‘Reluctant carver of new paths’ - is not etched on my tombstone I’ll come back to haunt all you mothereffers, because surely in this modern day,  a consistent Instagram bio is by default the assumed epitaph.👻 

I digress. 
Here, in photographic form, is laughable truth - a metaphor. 

Can you see it? beyond the boundary, onward still past fringe and margin, and even further, through the wild terrain  - look on - from the overgrown and untamed it emerges...bethel, sanctuary. 

They say she can only be found by narrow path. They say “don’t stray, you will only find one thing from your wandering - you will only find yourself (dang, really? Let’s go)....No wait I hadn’t finished , you will only find yourself lost.” 

Yet here, in the wilderness, the bell tolls,
For whom? For me - the wanderer.

And should it really be of any surprise that here I find sacred space? for even if I make my bed in the depths - He is there. Even in that bed. Even there. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Ophelia was the Rebel Girl

I put my best self on. I primp and starve and plank. I laugh but not too much. I’m smart and savy,  independent and aloof. And still, the movies lie, they don’t fall for you the way they say so. The pursuit is short lived. The attention span brief. My appetite is merely wet whilst theirs seems satisfied or perhaps refined to a taste that is impossible to pin down but definitely not: me. 

I heard someone say once that tinder has ruined men. Perhaps.  It might soften the blow to boil the issue down to one particular cause, but the culprit is legion. The culprits are the message makers bombarding us everyday with a multitude of choices, reducing us to bafoons unable to rest content. And I participate and perpetuate the charade with my “I woke up just like this” facade. The synthetic connections of glance and wink. The peacock dance of it all. I am weary, I have repetitive strain from the left swipe. And burn out from the matched flirt. I am perplexed by the chase and soured by the sweet nothings. 

I feel It may be time to hang up my relationship hat  whilst the children are small. It is too much upheaval to hope and feel and fall and then pick up all the little pieces afterwards. Pieces that are not just mine but theirs too. For they too wonder what it would be like, hope and pang and get attached. A constant absence is better than a perpetual loss, I think. 

And yet I observe the world and know it true that the game does not grow more fair as women age. The words from Zoe Moss in 1970 goad us still today:

Listen to me! Think what it is like to have most of your life ahead and be told you are obsolete! Think what it is like to feel attraction, desire, affection towards others, to want to tell them about yourself, to feel that assumption on which self-respect is based, that you are worth something, and that if you like someone, surely he will be pleased to know that. To be, in other words, still a living woman, and to be told that every day that you are not a woman but a tired object that should disappear. That you are not a person but a joke. Well, I am a bitter joke. I am bitter and frustrated and wasted, but don’t you pretend for a minute as you look at me, forty-three, fat, and looking exactly my age, that I am not as alive as you are and that I do not suffer from the category into which you are forcing me.

As these words resonate, I know the only fit response is to live as If the categories do not exist. To rebel against them, straining against every chain. I do try. I try to live self differentiated from what I feel is expected and presumed of me. 

But then again I don’t.  

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


There's a brilliance that comes with singleness. Blink and you'll miss it. Especially when you're looking in the mirror. 

But sometimes, if it catches you in the right mood, in the right kind of light, You can see the luminous brilliance alight upon you. And you realise that you have freedom and fluidity and you can grow in any direction you please because you don't have to take into account the impact on your partner. 

Relationships can be fulfilling, but they can also divide you up. Your problems aren't always halved, sometimes they're doubled. That's the stuff a thoroughly unattached, truly single person does not have to deal with. 

So if you find yourself single and not quite comfortable with the idea of exploring the alternatives to that, I implore you: INDULGE yourself. Claim your city as your territory, put serious devotion into lasting friendships, go on mate dates with total strangers, drink your wine, sing Sheryl Crow songs at 2am, Buy that damn dress, gladly receive those compliments but entertain them no further. Because you've got that brilliance and for now that's enough.

Monday, 19 June 2017

How To Start All Over Again, Again... Part 1

It can happen in a multitude of ways. It could have been of your own making, it could have been done to you, or it could be a deadly combination of both.  Perhaps it was an event that’s left you stunned. Or maybe it quietly seeped in without your realising till now. Now you know though, it’s obvious. Life is remarkably different and you didn’t plan it this way. 

In the long hours of frustration where you try and figure out “how” and “why” and “what the actual fuck” you’ll periodically find yourself sighing, shutting your eyes slowly and surrendering aloud “It is what it is”. Your identity was once so bound up in what you had, but now you feel much more defined by what you’ve lost. You’re forever changed, you’re the walking wounded, there’s a limp to your step, you’re a cat with a big ol’ chunk taken out of her ear. You visibly tell a story of the shit that has went down. 

There is an uncomfortable stillness now and a ringing in your ear. There are gaping voids that used to be full to brim. When you wake in the morning, there are no messages waiting to be read.  Your weekend plans are nil and the streets are full of ghosts from your former life. Your resources are depleted and you feel vulnerable. 

Though the circumstances will be unique and that can leave you feeling so very isolated, the sobering reality is - you aren’t the first. 

Yes, you don’t know it yet but by feeling like you don’t belong in your own life you’ll find belonging among the least likely of sorts - those who’ve lost their jobs, their faith, their hope, their loved ones, their standing in a community, their lovers, their friends, those who have lost respect for themselves, or others. The loss makes you feel like a loser and losers don’t feel like they have much to bring to the table. But you’re welcome at this table 

Welcome to the club that you never wanted to be part of. You recognise some of the members, maybe you used to throw them sympathetic glances as your sped by in the fast lane, maybe their limping slowed you down and frustrated you, maybe you found them altogether unsightly and turned your gaze away. Well, you’re one of them now. At first you’ll be ashamed. But then you’ll start to feel a sense of belonging among the Comrades in Loss.  Eventually you’ll feel proud of your membership. You’ll learn that all the greatest people walk with a limp and when they speak, you’ll hear the hard earned authority in their voice, a voice that has a warmth of humility that can only be gained through the humiliation of life going unexpectedly off piste. 

But all that wisdom and solidarity is yet to come. For now you have to let the dust settle.  It’s hard to see when the air is thick from the aftermath.  Like a wave hitting you, you’re scrambling under the surface needing a fresh supply of air but not knowing which way is up.  It’s disorientating, I know. 

For those of you that needed the repetition of ‘Again’ in the title: you didn’t think you’d find yourself here again, at least not so soon.  For you, this isn’t just 'Plan B', you’ve worked your way further into the alphabet by now.  Maybe you thought you’d already had your portion of lessons learned? Maybe you’re confused because you’ve already stepped into the great unknown and built a life from rubble.  Maybe you spent years quietly growing in confidence, learning to own your story and even grew to be proud of your battle scars.  But we all know what pride comes before. And so here you are... again.  

All the old motivational platitudes fall on deaf ears because really, sometimes what doesn’t kill you...accumulates. But here is one aphorism that is important for you to hear:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” - Heraclitus

You are not the same, this is not the same.  Yes old wounds may be opening and that is producing an all too familiar pain. What you thought was fresh, green, hope has not gone forth and prospered. And you’re back to the dust again. But you’ve acquired muscle memory - and you didn’t have that the first time around. It is precisely because you’ve been through this before that means your approach and perspective can be better, your recovery process honed. I’m trying hard not to say the phrase “fail better”, but dammit it’s true, you’ve learnt to fail better. The muscle memory engages and you know that right now is not a time to react, “this is the time to be slow, lie low to the wall, until the bitter weather passes.” (John O'Donohue)

This is your desert time, but it won't last forty years because you've read Oh the Places You’ll Go too many times. You, my friend are resilient and despite how you feel in this terrible moment, you'll eventually find the courage to build things again. But first reflect, recoup, take stock...

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Upon the DVD Release of La La Land.

When I went to see La La Land back in October I seemed to take an unconscious vow of silence on the film. With hindsight, I can see that this was because I was living through the decline of a relationship that had started beautifully and yet I knew, deep down, was headed (Spoiler alert) in the very same direction as the denouement of the film

Before I went to see it with friends I promised the boyfriend in question “If it’s good I’ll watch it again with you”. Well it was good, but I was silent about that. There was no way I was going to watch it with him for I knew he’d feel it too. The impending end for us had become the ever present elephant in the room and viewing La La Land together would have been like said elephant consuming the ‘Eat Me’ cake from Alice in Wonderland. No cinema screen could have contained it nor could any relationship have further ignored it. The reality was that someday we both knew we’d be strangers in a bar giving each other a gentle nod of acknowledgement to what had passed and what was not to be.

I knew it fair well and yet I wouldn't let my thoughts linger on it for a second. For another 5 months or so I continued to stomp my feet in defiance of what was inevitable because *stomps feet* this time I wanted that dream sequence ending.

Amidst the plastic, Hollywood ascetic and cheesy tunes – there was something commendably real about La La Land. So real that I can’t say I received it enjoyably. It cut too deep, resonated too much. Now the salt on the wound is that it’s released for consumption in your very own home and I am indeed living the outcome of the film. La La Lump in the throat.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Loved Real.

“You know what I’m going to do this year? I’m going to open a credit union account for my face lift – It just makes good sense.”

I shuffle in the chair, make interested ‘uh huh’ sounds and inwardly debate the merit of waging into beauty-parlour-small-talk with my opinion. I try my best to bite my tongue, but I just can’t. What becomes of us if we all just leave these attitudes unchallenged? So I take a deep breath 

“Hmm It’s fun to make the most of what we have, but we are all getting older, isn’t it just better to learn to accept this somehow? – won’t that ultimately make us happier and better people?"

“I hear what you’re saying, but what about Victoria Beckham?”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“She isn’t aging. Some people defy aging.” 

Admitting defeat on such specificities I offer my last tuppence worth,

“I guess it’s all fine and well, just as long as you’re giving as much attention to what’s on the inside as what’s on the outside” (preaches to self) 

I am met with stunned silence. Then I hear her whisper-repeat my comment to herself…..more silence. 

“…what’s on the inside, I’ve never heard that before.  I like that. I’m going to remember that”

And now I’m stunned. Stunned and grateful that I move in circles where face-lift-fund comments (and the like) do not go unchallenged.  

It’s all so seductive – you can make yourself a brand new person, again and again.  All you have to do is shop, exercise, groom, tan, bleach, pluck and…. vajazzle (latter worth mentioning on grounds of it’s existence being my case and point. Also, because vajazzle is a funny word)

I pay for my (totally unnecessary and overpriced) treatment and meet eyes with myself in the mirror -  Am I better now? Do I cut it? Can I compete? These are the questions I ashamedly ask myself far too often, I’m no different than face-lift-fund lady really, but I guess at least I know that there are other voices to listen to and there are other faces to look at than Victoria Beckhams (nothing personal on good old posh, I bet she’s a great girl). 

With so many messages thrown at me, It’s hard to hear the signal amongst all the noise.  I’ve heard it said that my value shouldn’t decrease because of someone’s inability to see my worth.  But isn’t that all dependent on how I attribute worth?   If beauty = worth and "Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them." (or, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), then what if no eye beholds and no mind contemplates me? What then is my worth?

We all misplace our worth in some way. I want to hold fast to what I know to be true of my worth.  I believe that I am not loved because I am valuable.  I am valuable because I am loved (cough cough, that was a God bit). So I need not boast in my own efforts, nor must I toil and “try try try” to earn what is freely given. Keeping perspective of this when dating, that is a work in progress because dating exists in a cruel, savage world of first impressions, where image is king. And alas it is The Year of Dating. Survival demands I must learn that dating is something I do, not something that defines. 

To borrow from the Skin Horse in the Velveteen Rabbit (and to manipulate the metaphor somewhat to meet my own needs here) I want to be so real that I don’t mind being hurt, because I know that I am loved though I be shabby and loose in the joints. Imagine how absurd it would be for the Skin Horse to go and get the toy equivalent of a face-lift (all pimpled out like a Bratz doll?) considering the love that has been lavished upon him. He need not earn it.  It’s there. 

I am not my job, I am not who I date, I am not the dirty dishes piling up in the sink, I am not how fabulous my hair looked yesterday, I am not the fine lines forming around my eyes, I am not the mysterious feathers that have somehow exploded all over my car, seriously. 
(It's ok to be psyched or bummed about these things (especially the feathers). But I'm learning that a disproportionate response to them is telling of a misplaced sense of worth.)

I am loved, really loved and loved real.