Letter number nine

Dear Vivienne,

It feels that I should already have written a letter to you, but I don’t think that I have. If I have already, consider this a bonus, and if I have not, then here is your letter.

A few days ago, you read my blog ‘I am single’ and sent me a message that kinda blew me away and I have not yet responded to you. Sometimes people say things to me that seem so powerful, so kind, generous and all those things that feel so humbling. There aren’t enough words to say thank you and I love you all in one. Maybe this is why people use emojis. Sometimes words seem too little.

I met you first as a student, and my overwhelming first impression was that you were shorter than me (a lot of people are), blonde and northern. Maybe this was not so much an impression, but statement of fact. We were doing the same course and although our peer groups were different, the course was sufficiently small to create overlap. Things I remember from that time include watching you contend with a fever by bundling yourself up in a huge amount of blankets and duvets and me genuinely wondering if this might, in fact, finish you off altogether. You including me in a cinema visit with your friends and then bailing, so much argh for me, but Ghost World was officially amazing, which more than made up for the fear of having to contend with people that I didn’t know too well. And drinking with you in halls on the last night of term, where I was throwing shots over my shoulder because I didn’t want to drink them, and you not noticing until the following day when you saw a big sticky mess on the floor (It was Galiano, no one should ever shot that). I should probably write a blog about being in student halls, but that might be much too incriminating.

You were also really good with my hair. You cut it, coloured it all sorts of mad colours, stripes and bands of purples and reds. You also straightened my hair for me when I was going out. You looked after me and made me pretty. After we had finished our degrees, you went back up north, but still came ‘down south’ on occasion and always found time to come and see me. Even now you have moved to the other side of the world, you still make that time (whilst accumulating much time in the sky). It means a lot to me. When you asked if my daughter would be your bridesmaid when you got married, it was endorsement of all the love I felt for you. You are amazing. You are amazing. It is definitely worthy of saying twice.

Sometimes my life is hard and I won’t always share this with others, because talking about miseries does not always serve a purpose. Some people have told me how strong I am, how resilient I must be. And I am possibly both these things. But I am also vulnerable, which doesn’t come across so readily. Your text hit my soft bit, made me feel a crumply mess of almost tears and heart singing gratitude for you being in my life.

Thank you

Love always

Sally.xx

Map Point. Who understands my vulnerabilities?

Picture note – these are Vivienne’s words, but are surely meant in a metaphorical rather than physical way! They make me smile muchly.

Little tears of happy

Yesterday I took part in a mother and daughter yoga class. It was run by a woman who taught my young one ‘baby yoga’ when she was small. It felt strange to go back to something that we had not taken part in for such a long time, and also incredibly powerful, for many reasons.

When young one was small we went to lots of classes. We did baby sign language, music classes and we also went to yoga. I loved the stories that Caroline (the yoga teacher) told the children. They were magical and offered the little ones a quiet space, which is something that I think is genuinely overlooked. I think that I find it easy to forget the need for peace sometimes.

And then I think about how that is linked to my body. I know that I have time when I supposedly relax before going to sleep at night, and sometimes this happens. More often I go to bed just before exhaustion kicks in, which does not make for the sleep of angels. Or babies. Or something that is generally perceived to sleep well. Last night I slept really well. And I think that taking the time to actively relax during the day really helped with this. But back to the class. It was in the time at the end of the class after we had all laid on our mats with little lavender bags over our eyes and little blankets on our bodies to make us feel extra snuggly (lets not even go to the block to support our heads and the bolster for under our knees.. yoga folks are seriously into the comfy!), and the meditation started to play. I then had a moment of clarity. I had not felt this relaxed for such a long time, and to have had this time with my daughter, this utterly chilled time felt like a privilege. When I sat up, I was very much aware that my face was getting wet. Not the sort of tears that require contraction of facial muscles, but that sort that spill out unbidden.

In recent times this has happened to me a lot during moments of gratitude. I suddenly feel my eyes producing tears and am taking this as a good thing. I talk a good deal about feeling appreciation for the things that I have in my life and feeling this connected, makes me feel more me. But is it also an overwhelming experience that I need to learn to embrace. It makes me feel beautiful.

Map Point. What makes me beautiful?

 

Fix

I used to work with people who had significant issues. My job was to help them to achieve some life skills and independence. I would metaphorically parachute in once a week and offer support, comedic entertainment and optimistically they would gain a new perspective or skill. Then I would go, and their lives would continue muchly as they had before my arrival. Interlude over. I am not trying to be cynical or undervalue the assistance that I offered, but sometimes I feel that way with friendships too. I want to be able to offer so much more. If I see pain, I try to help, but I can never really know the impact I have on others. I can guess, presume, assume (there is a difference..) and hope that whatever I am doing has value.

I have a particular friend, Cassie, whose life resembles the contents of my wire bag. This bag is a huge tangly mess and has what feels like every wire I have ever owned in it. And quite possibly it does, given my magpie-like nature.  She has many issues, and if I were to approach her like someone who I was working with, I still would find it tricky to know where to start. But I go to see her, she makes drinks and helps me with things that I find tricky. Then I listen to her and we try to bring a little order to some of her chaos.

It humbles me. Cassie is someone whose life, by my appraisal, is hard. But irrespective of how bad her day is, we have an utterly reciprocal friendship. I always feel glad to see her, she is funny, usually in a self-deprecating way, and she has such amazing strength, which she doesn’t always credit herself with. I think that she is the kind of woman that one day will see just how amazing she is and at that point, she will bloom. It is a day that I feel genuinely excited about.

I don’t think that I can ever know precisely how valuable I am to someone else. But I completely understand how valuable the people that I love are to me. They are all shiny.xx

Map Point. Who helps to fix me?

Disappointed

Sometimes, no matter how much you hope, no matter how much you have faith in people, they let you down. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes not. Other time people simply forget. But mostly it always hurts a little bit, always a little disappointment. Maybe there doesn’t have to be this, and we could see everything as an opportunity. I am not quite this enlightened as yet in my life, but I aspire to be. I forget things sometimes, and whilst I hope that other people don’t hold this against me too badly, this is my apology.

I am occasionally late. I have generally planned my outing, organised everything and I get down the stairs, with good time and get to my car. Usually, get as far as starting it too. Then I remember that one piece of vital something that I have forgotten. So I switch off the engine, lock the car, go back to my house and find whatever it is that I am so immediately in such desperate need of, and then all is well. Until a new wave of panic sets it and I repeat the process. Generally speaking, if I engage in this once, I will almost certainly engage a second time. Never to date a third, but somehow remembering one thing sets off a cascade of more things of forgotten.

Sometime I forget things altogether. This happens less often when I use my diary, but occasioanlly that goes missing too, but am improving on finding it with due haste (and abject panic). The only birthdays I remember are my three most immediate family members (and my own) and for anyone who wants photos that I have taken, I largely suggets arriving at my house with usb sticks, as this is likely the most immediate way of getting them.

But not always. Sometimes I am really good at all of the above. But this isn’t about what post is about, but I think that the word sorry is overused, and mostly an expression of gratitude to the people who show me patience is better received. So thank you.xx

Map Point. Who do I let down most often?

 

On the brink of a birthday

I have the good fortune to have some truly amazing people in my life, and with my upcoming annual celebration of life, folks are asking for things that I might like. This is hard, as there are many things that I like, but would not want to have (except a Pyrex jug, which apparently is not a suitable to gift to ask someone for). So I started to think about things that I have really appreciated that people have done for me on this remarkable day.

I was once made a birthday card by Kathryn and Tina. This gift felt incredible, as I could see the time, effort, and knowledge of me that had gone into it. And it was also both dark and incredibly funny, which is likely why I still remember it. I still have this somewhere.

On my 17th birthday, my mum invited some of my friends over to dinner as a surprise. I don’t thnk that I can remember feeling that genuinely shocked by something in all my adult life. It just felt so amazing and so utterly unexpected. I have had someone end an eighteen month relationship with me over the telephone, been told that I need surgery, and found out I was pregnant (okay, that one is a definite contender for top place) and lots of other things, but that is what stands out, my Mum organising something so incredibly kind.

But in thinking about actual stuff that requires direct purchase, my brother has given me some things that I have really liked over the years. They have mostly all been Zelda themed and this is good! He also gave me his orange woolly bobble hat that is likely the most awesome thing on the planet (If you have ever seen the TV series ‘Firefly’, the hat will make perfect sense).

I am at a place now though, where I don’t know what I want. I feel so utterly blessed with the life I now get to lead, that thinking bigger than the now, beyond my present, actually feels really hard. So maybe for my jubilant cycle of the sun, what I would really like is a new perspective.

Map Point. What would be the best gift someone could give me?

 

 

All day, all you can eat, breakfast buffet

This morning started without breakfast. I was meant to ‘break the fast’ with a friend, but they cancelled. I felt somewhat cross with myself for not having had a ‘pre-breakfast’  first. I am a woman who could definitely eat two breakfasts, maybe even three. Okay, okay, just sit me down next to an all day, all you can eat, breakfast buffet and I will keep going. So my new plan was to get home and have.. (imaginary drumroll)

‘the most incredible breakfast ever conceived in the complete history of all breakfasts.’

Just because I utterly could. I had a bowl of cornflakes followed by some olive oil toasted toast with two eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. It was a very good breakfast, not sure whether it would live up to ‘best breakfast ever’ but it was pretty decent. I then wondered whether or not I would have bothered with a somewhat fancier breakfast than normal if I had not been let down.

Sometimes I do cook myself some truly amazing meals. I make ravioli from scratch and other such malarkey. I can be an exceptional cook. But a lot of the time I am not exceptional, I am somewhat dull and predictable in my food assemblage. It surprised me that my un-met expectation of a good breakfast spurred me enough to make my own (pressing and drying all those cornflakes from scratch was a task of great monument!). And then I thought about how being let down sometimes seems to provide most excellent motivation.

I go through phases of ‘hell hath no fury’ productivity to outright apathy. Motivation is hard for me to keep constant. But motivation inspired by feeling let down? It feels kind of strange. If I do something kind for myself, the person that benefits is me! It shouldn’t have to go through the conduit of frustration. And then I got to the actual question. Why am I not nurturing myself in this way, to begin with?

It can be a time thing or an effort thing. When friends come over, I do nice things for them, but if I am home just by myself, it can be too easy to forget, too easy to just make do. Over the past few years, my self-nurturing has increased massively, but it can be incredibly useful to be reminded. So I feel gratitude for the cancelled breakfast, it was an amazing reminder to look after me!

Map Point. Where am I actively choosing to delay my happiness?

 

 

Celebrate

It occurs to me that there is much to celebrate. Next month is my birthday and that is definitely reason enough. Celebration is and should be an inherent part of our existence. I read once about a tribe that didn’t celebrate birthdays, but instead, when a person felt that they had achieved something, the tribe celebrated then. I like this idea a lot. Bringing people together for reasons of happiness is something that I intend to do more often.

I was thinking about all the good things in my life that I would like to celebrate. My upcoming interview for my master’s degree, the end of one of my jobs and likely countless other events that qualify as happy making. Tangible things are easy to recognise achievement with. But much like the argument that people are more sympathetic towards physical illness than they are towards mental illness, it is easier to recognise things that have a physical presence. But what if we started to celebrate the non-tangible things in our lives? Taking this further to start celebrating our emotional and intellectual achievements too?

What if I went a whole month feeling that every time I wanted to say something that I could? What if I picked out nice clothes for myself every day for a week? Are either of these things worthy of acknowledgement, if only by me? I am deciding that yes they are. Progress is progress, irrespective whether you are ticking off dates on a calendar until your birthday, a new qualification, or finally feeling that someone might want to listen to your words. Having that deep sense of gratitude for what is in my life is an amazing feeling.

Map Point. What do I want to celebrate next?