Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Taken By the Sea (excerpt from Lisa's memoir 'Daddy Tattoos')

In honour of the 12th anniversary of Paul's passing, I've decided to publish an excerpt from the book I wrote last year. The memoir is an exploration of grief, overcoming adversity, processing pain and anger, and finding peace in forgiveness. It's how the death of a man ultimately became the re-birth of a woman.  'Daddy Tattoos' will be available soon on line and in print. 

'Taken By the Sea'
Gara Rock, Devon, England, September 2004

You can still see the ghosts. But you can’t see the sense.
Why they let the monkey go and blamed the monkey wrench.
Rocking at The Tea Dance, The Rainmakers

Of course when I look back now, I can see things so clearly. The wind and the ocean are natural co conspirators. The unpredictable duo entered our lives, our future and our consciousness by force. It was indeed as they say, a dark and stormy night and what makes dark and stormy nights so scary is precisely what makes them strangely comforting. I do love the sound of the elements raging outside while I am Protector on the inside. Doors locked. Family fed. Children sleeping. Rain being chased by the wind right up to the windows, throwing itself against the glass, banging loudly to be let in, while ParaMama and I are sat by the fire with a glass of red wine.

‘Batten down the hatches’ my father used to say when he was the Protector of our household in Missouri. I have inherited his bedtime habit of locking the doors and testing handles vigorously, much in the slightly paranoid way that one switches off the iron but turns back one more time to check. It’s the double checking that is most important in this ritual. After firmly rattling the doorknob, he would ceremoniously and vigorously rub his hands together, satisfied that his job to keep us all safe had been performed for the night. I find myself doing this once in a while, so I know the glorious feeling of warmth created by the friction in my hands, that spreads up my arms and all the way to my cheeks, a physiological reward for my protective tenacity.

I am not a movie wife. You know, the kind that wakes with a start by a sound somewhere in the house and nudges her husband to go have a look. Helpless. Afraid. When it comes to the possibility of harm to my children, I am Fearless. I am Mama Machine. I am Boudica, but I will never allow my daughters to fight alongside me. They will be tucked up in bed with hot cocoa and a book.

ParaMama is not para-lysed. My faculties, when tested, are capable of loosening their grip on immobilising fear and without further thought, they and I storm into the unknown ready to tear apart anything that may get to my babies.

My ears never sleep. They are high functioning audibility soldiers, ready at my command to march to the threshold of hearing. Upon first alert, I am quick to investigate anything that dares to bump anywhere near my night. I am certain there is a direct correlate between childbirth and increased auditory perception.

That night was different. I say that now, but I knew it then as well. Belle had been born two years earlier and our family was now complete. The six of us were on our last holiday in England, having made the decision to move back to the States. The beauty of the Southern tip of the country had lured us out of London and down the motorway for many years, usually with friends who were heartily dedicated to the overrated art of camping.

I tried, really I did, but the cold, faithful rain of a typical British summer lies many miles outside my comfort zone of civilised relaxation. Nevertheless, due to monetary reasons or peer pressure to not look so ‘American in need of mod cons’, I have woken many mornings inside the damp reality of sleeping on the ground, to face a day of not being able to stand completely upright while going about my daily tasks.

The rugged coastline snakes along the English Channel from Dorset through Devon twisting its way along Cornwall through Penzance, past Land’s End to St. Ives and back up along the Atlantic.

The first time we were there, Paul and I were shocked by the way the farming fields go right up to the cliff’s edge. Lumpy patchwork quilted fields in shades of yellow, green and reddish-brown look like blankets of salad leaves. Dark spinach, bright romaine, neon endive and mahogany brown radicchio, cut into little squares and triangles, laid end to end and stitched together with thick rows of curly parsley.

The farms of Missouri familiarity were flat and earnestly swollen with corn, soybeans and conservatives. Farmland crept up to the side of the highway where enormous outdoor advertising billboards, 100 feet in the air, stood day and night, whistling and winking, trying to get the attention of the motorists.

When we wanted to go the scenic route from London to the coast, we would take the tedious A303, suffering through endless roundabouts, which made driving a bit like trying to have an adult conversation with a small needy child in the room, just as soon as you are about to get somewhere, you are interrupted and then have to start over again. The payoff usually soothed the frustration, with up close glimpses of lovely thatched roof cottages and the fact that it provided one of the most astonishing drive by viewings in all of England:

You come up over the crest along the Salisbury Plain and there it is on the side of the road like some sort of pre-historic Holiday Inn. Oddly out of place, I always felt like it should be hidden at the end of a long, windy, tree-lined drive, in the middle of a clearing. But, we never tired of the giddy flutter-in-the-tummy feeling upon seeing that amazing monument in this way. It was one of our regular Toto-I-have-a-feeling-we-are-not-in-Kansas-anymore moments.

2004 was a very active Atlantic hurricane season affecting the States and islands in the Caribbean. August had already been battered by Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Frances (ironically, the first and middle name of my fifth and youngest child, who would be born four years later). Two days after Paul’s last birthday on earth, Hurricane Ivan was born and began a murderous rampage that resulted in ninety-two deaths.

Tropical storms and hurricanes are to coastal inhabitants as twisters and tornadoes are to us Midwesterners. Confident that we were safe in England, we watched from the bleacher seats, empathetic but grateful. ParaMama fanned the flies away while we concocted a detailed plan on how, if it were us, we would board up the windows and tether the family together with a long piece of rope so that the angry wind couldn’t separate us.

But just like the wind, the sea cannot be contained. The churning hurricane stirred up the Global Ocean sending concentric waves from the Atlantic, west to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and east to the Celtic Sea into the English Channel to the shores of Gara Rock, where we were living out our last holiday.

The foreboding, tempest effect of that night didn’t dawn on me for nearly a decade. The beginning of the end of our family unit. The last vacation. The tumultuous night of rough seas and strange distant knocking sounds was like some sort of seaside Blair Witch Project. In the morning we took the twenty-minute trek down the steep coastal path where sheep clung to bushes, blissfully unaware of their not-so-agile counterparts that lay rotting at the bottom.

When we got to the beach we were astounded. The huge boulders that we had seen season after season, quietly reigning, in what we assumed, were the same locations for many, many years, had been rolled off their thrones, rendering our beloved holiday spot unrecognisable. It was disorienting. Confusing. We couldn’t fathom how powerful the surf must have been while tossing these rock monsters around in a bizarre game of marbles.

We wondered if it was only our perspective that was changed? Maybe the tide line had moved and we couldn’t get our bearings. It reminded me of the snow in Missouri winters and how it alters the shape of everyday objects, a car, a garden gate, a fence, making them rounder and less like themselves. Late at night the frozen powder-covered streets fall silent apart from the sprinkling patter of snowy feathers falling from the sky. The next day, the beautiful white of the streets turns to black slush from traffic. The birth. The death.

In southern England, if you were so inclined, you could walk for eight miles east along the south west coast path, past tall fuchsia foxgloves with stacks of tubular bell shaped blossoms that looked like floral percussion instruments on long sticks. Along the route, you would encounter the legendary pirate coves of local folklore, the striking white lighthouse, faithful guard of Start Point and the ruins of the small fishing village of Hallsands, infamously ‘taken by the sea’ nearly a century earlier.

Once a thriving fishing village, it was destroyed in the winter of 1917 by man’s greed. After years of irresponsible shingle dredging undertaken by a company who had the contract to extend the naval shipyard at Plymouth, the village gradually slipped into the sea, its once-fortifying beach slowly eroded by machines. When we were there you could still see remnants of the stone houses and the old road that ran parallel to the beach.

‘Taken by the sea’ is such an ominously powerful statement, one of those phrases that you have to turn over a few times in your mouth before swallowing an understanding of exactly what it means. We became fascinated by the story of this South Devon tragedy, so we made the short trek to the viewing platform to see what was left of the village.

Craning out from the wooden barrier, observers can glimpse the strong lessons meted out by Mother Nature when she is in one of her moods. The buildings and boats and fishing baskets were replaced with a misty unease that settled in among the remaining broken structures. Brittle clumps of betrayal, hardened with time, clung like barnacles to the cliffside. They would never succumb to the sea.

We tried to take it all in, thinking about the families fleeing to higher ground and the ironically perfect view they then had of their lives being washed away.

Strong waves were partnered in crime with a vicious easterly wind that blew the ocean in, extending its reach, encouraging it to commit atrocities that it normally wouldn’t. The rolling sea stretched in on a bungie cord, breaking off a bit of a building each time, before springing backward and taking with it a wall, a roof and the family chattels of an entire village.

ParaMama chatted with me about how best we could protect the children in this instance, bringing them to safety after packing everything we owned, and holding their hands tightly in the wind. Would they be cold? Would they be frightened? Would we make it to the top in time? She looked away when she answered, so I couldn’t quite hear her. I didn’t ask again because something inside me didn’t want to know.

That night, the night of wind and storms and reverberating hurricanes and boulders rolling on the shore playing shuffleboard, we were mercifully tucked away in a little cottage at the top of Gara Rock, comforted by the illusion that since we couldn’t see the problem, we needn’t fear it. Water and air have no real borders. Neither do people. What happens to one of us, can be felt in some way by all of us. We weren’t being spared, we were being deluded.

Years in the future, the lessons of that night would be discovered. Paul didn’t learn them. The children and I did.

Nature taught us that she is not required to give warnings, but she always does. That the placement of things can completely alter overnight, even though they appear to be immovable. That really, we are all linked together in some way, feeling the ripple effect from far off. That the things we are drawn to, which bring us joy and happiness, can also be the cause of pain and destruction.

That there is no holding back the tide.

Even the wind knows that.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

3,652 Days. In Memory of Paul.

On the morning of my late husband, Paul’s funeral, I was incredibly overwhelmed. This of course was to be expected, but it wasn’t because of the deep feeling of dread that had been cruelly inching its way up from the pit of my stomach lodging somewhere at the back of my throat. It was because, like every other day as the mother of four young children, I just had too much to do.

That Morning, I was running late, with everything. The service and the wake were meant to be held on the beach in Seattle just down the road from our house, but it had been pouring with rain and the forecast was even worse. I knew this meant that everyone would end up back at our house because it was big enough to accommodate the group.

Paul spent the last two weeks of his life at home with us, in a hospital bed set up in the living room. He always loved a good view, so in spite of the fact that he was completely unaware of his surroundings, there he was in the window overlooking The Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Painfully beautiful.

That Morning, the house was a mess and a crowd of people were imminent. On top of that I was still writing the eulogy, the children were hungry, all of the cereal bowls were in dirty piles in the sink or stacked on the countertop encrusted with hardened pasta from a previous dinner. Bills I was never going to be able to pay were spread all over the floor near boxes of unruly paperwork displaying numbers that mocked my future.

A day or two earlier the kids and I walked to the aptly named ‘Value Village’ for a shopping trip en masse to purchase pre-owned grieving garb with my newly acquired food stamp debit card. At the register I was told by a rude check out clerk at the top of her voice that ‘we don’t accept THAT kind of payment here’. Cue smirk and sideways glance at other customers. I tried to scrunch myself up into a little ball of widow-ness and roll out the door but instead made a flippant remark that embarrassed my oldest daughter. I wanted so badly to scream to my judgement committee ‘have you noticed that all of the clothes in this pile are black?’ But, I didn’t.

That Morning, my crumpled black bargains needed ironing. My three year old, not entirely sure of what was happening was struggling to put on her tights, my six year old had cut his own hair the day before and needed it to be evened out. When asked why, he said he just wanted to look like ‘a lawyer’ to match the receding hairline and occupation of his now deceased father, my ten year old needed a button sewn on his shirt and his trousers hemmed up and help with a poem he wanted to read at the service, my teenage daughter dreadfully burdened by the pain just needed so badly for me to be there for her, to listen, even when she wasn’t speaking.

Other family members were busy getting ready at their own houses. I was so tired. Inside and out. The emotional and physical toll hammered at my senses preventing me from thinking straight. I just couldn’t see how in the hell I was going to get it all done in time and what I really, really, really needed was for Paul to just walk through the door and help me get ready for his funeral.

Just to be clear, my multi-tasking skills are right up there. Spot on. Well worn. Top notch. I could do ten things at once long before it fell in and out of fashion. One finger on the pulse, nine fingers doing a bunch of other crap. In 1991, I was a copywriter and voice over artist for an American mid-Western cable television station. When our eldest daughter, Grace, was born, I took a short maternity leave and then she came to the studio with me until she was nine months old. She was strapped to the front of me while I recorded various commercials, her head inches from the microphone never making a peep (on the other hand, I had plenty of whingeing colleagues who clearly missed nap time on a regular basis).  I was also working on my B.A. studying by the Mickey Mouse nightlight on the rare occasion that she decided to sleep.

By the time my second child, Will, came along, I was a weekly newspaper columnist and reporter for the Daily Chronicle in Dekalb, Illinois, a Chicago outpost. I worked mainly from home instructing the kids to use sign language for ‘blood’ or ‘fire’ so they could determine the right time to interrupt mommy while doing a phone interview. During that time I decided that it would be a real kick to take on an M.A., because hey I had nothing but time.

I continued writing my column after moving to London. While I was in labour with my third child, Nick, I wrote a column about writing a column while in labour (it was the only idea I could come up with in between contractions). By the time my fourth child, Belle, was born, I was carrying her in my teeth while home educating the other three children. When my fifth (I know, I know, somebody stop this woman) and youngest child, Charlie, was a baby, I was writing for a UK magazine, singing in a band, conducting a choir and the vocal coach for Felix’s School of Rock in London. I invested in a decent pair of ear defenders so he could come to work with me.

Back to That Morning. My juggling skills were frayed. Without Paul, I had to enlist the aid of my sisters, my parents, my Aunt, my brother-in-law, neighbours I barely knew and a preacher I had only just met. (I had already been visited by big-hearted friends and family who flew to my rescue from all over the world.) On the beach, speeches were made. Tears flowed. Arms clutched each other. He wasn’t there. When it was all over, a solitary, thunderous wind came out of nowhere roaring vigorously through the trees. We all looked at each other.

When I think of how much he has missed, I am engulfed with sadness. A lifetime has passed since his ended, abruptly, tragically. We were, the children and I, stunned.

I’ve missed the history we had between us, the funny little stories and private jokes, the sound of his voice, the feel of his hand in mine, the looks we exchanged when admiring one of the children, those special glances that parents give each other when they suddenly share a moment of overwhelming love and joy for the child they created together.

What he has missed is altogether different. The assumption is that the important occasions like births, weddings, birthdays, mother’s and father’s days are the tragic losses of the dearly departed and the sacred times when we mortals might catch a glimpse of their spirit. And, while I did have a very strong and very unexpected sense of him that day on the Seattle beach and one other time years later during our oldest daughter’s University graduation ceremony, my own experience is that the big events are well, rather uneventful when it comes to this issue.

What he has missed are the tiniest of moments, the barely notice-ables that are a fraction of themselves, singular in their existence, but collectively form a salient whole. The touch of a small hand, sticky fingers interlaced in mine, a wisp of fine hair across a soft cheek, the weight of a sleeping child heavy in my arms.

So many things went unnoticed before, in our old life, together. Bereavement heightened my senses. Many times over the last ten years I have quietly been in awe of exactly what I had, that he no longer did. His death made the details more visible.

They were there all along, these glorious nothings of my world. Tissues, Lego and socks on the floor. Wiping noses, bottoms, tears, and toothpaste out of the sink. Breaking up arguments. Chopping up veggies. Slicing up cheese. Worrying about money, worrying about the children, worrying about war, worrying about things I can change and things I can’t, worrying about worrying. Getting stuck in traffic. Homework, teacher meetings, packed lunches, the school run. Muddy shoes. Dirty sheets. Office politics. Being late for a meeting. Missing a deadline. Paper cuts. Stubbed toes. Broken glass. Broken promises. Broken hearts. Eating something delicious. Eating something disgusting. Drinking a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, a cup of Earl Grey tea, a glass of Shiraz. Leaving the fridge door open, the toilet seat up, the shower dripping, the lid to the milk off and the lights on. Ironing a shirt. Folding a towel. Wrapping a Christmas present. Smelling a flower. Having coffee with a friend. Dropping my phone. Losing my phone. Ringing my phone from another phone in an attempt to find my damn phone. Forgetting stuff. Remembering stuff.

This is what he has missed.

That Morning, I mistakenly, foolishly, optimistically assumed that Paul and I would begin a new supernatural, beyond-the-grave sort of existence, whereby I could ‘feel his presence’ as is always said. Over the years, I tried summoning him when I was raging with anger over his death, terrified at the future, desperately missing him, terribly sad for the grief I witnessed but could not repair in our children’s hearts, extremely pissed off at the rest of the world for seemingly, heartlessly carrying on with their lives as if the loss of his never made a ripple. I assumed that the love we shared would allow me special access to him. But, that was just not the case. I wondered over and over if the fleeting connections would be because our bond was so strong or because it was not strong enough to transcend death?

Mostly, I just felt that there was only one reality. He is simply ‘gone’.


We scattered his ashes on his beloved River Thames foreshore in London where he spent countless happy hours mudlarking, an amateur archaeologist with a remarkable eye for artefacts. After debating for ages, I carefully tipped out the essence of a man, my husband, their father. Immediately, the wind blew it back at us, little grey flecks on our hats and scarves.

Eight years after he died, I sat in a bright, white marquee watching my gorgeous oldest daughter graduate from University. It was a stormy day and as soon as we were all seated, the wind invited itself to the ceremony whipping around with fearless glee. Next to me was my second husband, Vinnie, his hand in mine as we beamed with pride. And then, like magic, the sound of the wind interrupted my thoughts and I suddenly felt Paul’s hand instead, markedly different, softer and rounder than Vin’s long, thin fingers. I stopped breathing. It was extraordinary.

He’s been gone for 3,652 days. 10 years. A decade. Quantifiable only as a specific measure of time that we all share exactly. But, to count the beautifully mundane everyday moments that constitute living would be like trying to capture the wind. Impossible.

Today while I write, a cool Australian Autumn breeze blows hard through the open window wrangling for my attention, slapping the palm tree leaves, jangling Paul's wind chime urn, displacing the papers on my desk, chilling my shoulders and warming my heart.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Getting over getting older. The absurdity of hating your age.

So it has transpired that in a few short hours, I will have been living and breathing on this planet for half a century. In celebration, I am consuming a last supper of Sauvignon Blanc and a bag of dates. I’m not sure if it’s all of that painfully acquired wisdom talking or more than likely the combination of fermented and dried fruits, but I realise that for a few years now I have been tormented by the rather irksome issue of age-guilt.

For most of my 5 decades, like many of us and in particular women, I couldn’t wait to be older and longed to be younger. I don’t recall a time when while basking in the numbers associated with my existence, that my self-esteem blissfully reclined on a chaise lounge of comfortable ageity (yes I made that word up – I’m 50 and I get to do crap like that now).

When we are younger we lie about being older and when we are older we long for those days when we were younger wishing we were older.

Am I alone here? I think not. And, I would like to help. I am conducting a little survey in the hopes of discovering how many people out there are just like me.

QUESTION: Do you think you, A) have been born at some point in your life, and B) are one day older than you were yesterday? If you answered YES to both, then congratulations and welcome to the ‘Being Alive Club’. Member privileges start at conception and involve coming into the world, growing older with each passing moment and then dying.

Roll with it people.

With that, I offer my birthday mantra; I am 50 years old and I really don't give two hoots and a barn owl!

Given that life as we know it could last anywhere from a millisecond to 100+ years, is it not a rather pointless exercise to be somewhere along that spectrum but always wishing to be somewhere else? So many ‘Carpe Diem’ tee shirts, so little money in mouths.

It’s like this, from infancy we are trained to propel ourselves forward. One minute you are born, and then suddenly without your knowledge or consent two annoying minutes have gone by and you are already getting old. Successes and failures begin dropping through your own personal hourglass determining a socially accepted perceived age ratio. This mainly breaks down to a cultural expectation that when you are young you should work hard to look, grow and act older and when you are older you should basically just lie about your age.

It begins during babydom, prodding the unsuspecting mite into submission with the normal calculations of weight, length, milk consumption, sleep.

Your doting parents, blinded by sleep deprivation and bored by the aforementioned mundane observations take it upon themselves to dig deeper and examine every detail from cradle cap to the all important poo hue. ‘Is honey mustard really the right colour for a 2 week old?’ (TOP TIP: Don’t go searching the internet in the middle of the night when you have not shut your eyes for two consecutive hours within two consecutive months. This makes you very susceptible to TMI Syndrome when the availability of Too Much Information will convince you that your child has all manner of diseases and disorders, probably leprosy or at the very least the Black Plague. TOP TIP #2: Don’t go wake your husband and try to persuade him of the same thing.)

As toddlerhood descends, so do the societal chastisements for behaving like a ‘baby’ and praises for ‘early’ achievements whereby the tiniest hint of progress warrant 10 zillion photos, a video uploaded to You Tube, a phone call to the grandparents, a Facebook status update and a tweet or two.

Soon after, you are whisked off to institutions designed especially for the swift growing up of little creatures. Writing instruments are tucked into chubby fists faster than they can say ‘fine motor skills’ and incorrect formation of letters or numbers furl brows of authority. Somewhere in the background, a mad soundtrack of ‘Keep Up’, ‘Get Ahead’ and ‘Do Your Best’ plays on repeat. 

All these milestone measurements are ticked off in a competitive and timely fashion. Grave concern descends if children do not walk, talk, eat with a fork and wear underpants right on schedule. Shortly after mastering shoe tying, it is expected that any self respecting parent will ensure their child acquire the skills to discuss the finer points of Existentialism, review an exhibit of the Pre-Raphaelites, double their pocket money on Wall Street, run a four minute mile, successfully navigate the instructions for any piece of Ikea furniture and give a Ted Talk all by the age of 10.

As a teenager you are forever being told that your one mission (apart from removing the items growing mold in your bedroom) is to grow up, be ‘mature’ and have a firm idea of your career choice by the second day of highschool. And yet, constantly being reminded that you are far too young for pretty much anything that looks even remotely interesting to you.

At some mysterious point we begin to dabble in the ‘harmless’ practice of age shifting. Most of us have lied about our age as teens. The rewards always just out of our reach, to drive, to drink, to vote, to buy cigarettes, to be taken seriously by a potential boyfriend/girlfriend who certainly wouldn’t be seen with someone sooo young. Or, to be allowed by our parents to do certain age associated things that always seem to have a relative value attached to them based on how ‘cool’ your parents are about stuff like staying out late or having holes punctured into ears, noses, belly buttons and other more painful unmentionables.

After the age of 20, birthdays with zeros are meant to make us dive head first into an expensive vat of face cream. The dreaded ‘signs of aging’ wag a finger of warning at us from ad land. We are consumed with the fear that we too just might do the one thing people have been telling us to do all of our lives, but are now being told to avoid like that plague we nearly contracted as babies, and that is…get older.

At 25 I lived in fear of the number 30, the benchmark for being married with 2.5 children and publishing my first bestseller. At 35 I trembled at the thought of Over the Hill bras and that ‘still losing the baby weight’ was no longer a viable excuse. At 45 I spent five years trying to complete my ‘Before 50’ list so that my Bucket List wouldn’t be too long.

Looking back, I can’t actually recall the mystifying point when I reached the socially acceptable moment of perfection as the moon and stars lined up, deeming me to be exactly neither too old nor too young. There must have been a tiny little break in the clouds but I couldn’t quite catch a glimpse while looking over my shoulder into the future.

At 49 years and 364 days (give or take a few time zone hours accounting for the fact that I was born in an entirely different hemisphere), I made a startling revelation: Being 10 years younger is only desirable when we are 10 years older.

So at this holy juncture, I chose not to spend my transition from 40 something by googling nearby Botox clinics and crying into my bowl of regrets. The 60 year old me would be ecstatic to be sitting in my place right now still fitting into these leggings.

Today I am grateful that my Lessons Learned most certainly Runneth Over with an array of duplicities and realities.

I haven’t lived under a rock but wanted to crawl under one many times.

I’ve felt like I've got it all under control and like I haven’t got a clue.

I’ve been strict with my children and have also let them get away with murder.

I’ve scrupulously cleaned my house from top to bottom and, nah, who are we kidding here, never did that.

I’ve been single, a wife, a widow and a wife again.

I’ve been a twenty something who wasn’t going to have children and then I had a homebirth and then another and another and another and another.

I’ve been bossy and been bossed around.

I've been ecstatically happy and incredibly depressed.

I've been pleased and fulfilled, guilty and ashamed.

I’ve had peaceful times and VEERY stressful times.

I've been a scantily clad singer in various bands for many years and a mummy in my big comfy jim jams falling asleep into my cup of tea on my nights off.

I have a two Degrees but need to summon the children or husband to help me work out how to turn on the stupid television (Whatever happened to 'on' and 'off'? #toomanyremotes).

I’ve been a runner, a swimmer and a yogi with a healthy diet and well, let’s just say that if chocolate turned people blue after consuming it, I would by now be the world’s tallest Smurf.

I do not have the body of a 25 year old. And, the reason for this is because I AM NOT 25 YEARS OLD! Sheesh.

Things I’ve gained: perspective, patience, weight

Things I’ve lost: weight, patience, perspective

My Ups and Downs: Bank Account, BMI, Confidence (as a parent, wife, lover, singer, writer, teacher, learner, woman-living-in-the-real-world).

So, back to my point. When one reaches the sought after age, why do we desire nothing more than to go back to the age when we were wishing to be at an age, that when we reach that age, makes us want to go back to that age again? Let’s do the age warp again.

Or not.

I am sailing into the future with a new attitude. I urge you to join me. Give yourself permission to be ok with your state of being. Honour your day of birth. Embrace your true age.

Accept it. Shout it. Tweet it. Text it. Blog it. Vlog it. Vine it. Write it in lipstick on the bathroom mirror. Get over getting older. It’s what we do.

I AM 50!

Have I said that already? Ah yes, I’m repeating myself now. A sign of my age I’m afraid. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Revolution of Change

As a newspaper and magazine writer and columnist I have always thought blogging to be a natural progression for me. In every inspired locale: a long airplane journey where hours are mistaken for days in terms of what I cram unrealistically into my carry-on bag to accomplish on the flight, the beach tent before the kids come running back from the surf demanding food and kicking sand all over my thoughts, the deafening home alone silence hindered by my restlessness to do a million things at once, I scribble two or three lines meant to launch me into blogdom, a false start fleeting and abandoned as the outside world beckons.

We-hellll, this year is gonna be different (apart from the repeated activity of recycling last year’s list of revolving aspirations by crossing off the old year and writing in the new number). I am happy to announce that with this writing, I thee blog. I am now free to bask in the smashing success of fulfilling my first New Year’s resolution. From. About. Four. Year’s. Ago.

What a shock it was to discover that I am already a blogger and have been since 2010! Yes, I remember it well.  Oh January, my January, when I engage in my annual ritual, the one where the Earth completes a 365 day spin around the sun and my brain takes up temporary residency on the moon.

Armed with a cup of tea and a little tub of leftover Christmas fudge I have hidden from the children, I make a list as long as Neptune’s winter – lose weight, clean out loft, teach children not to swear, start blog… By evening time on the first day of the new year I am swiftly moving on to achieving the unachievable, attaining the unattainable and as for the unfathomable, well, let me just say ‘hot damn do I love to fathom’!

What is it about the promise of change that makes me want to abandon my cozy life of cluttered unproductivity and drag all nearby loved ones down with me to the depths of fault-facing hell in search of flawlessly-functioning heaven? It’s the POSSIBILITY that this time it might actually happen.

As a longstanding and erstwhile member of the ‘Fix Our Organizational Latencies Society’ (a.k.a. ‘FOOLS’), I am intermittently obsessed with straightening up, flying right and walking the straight and narrow, hypnotised by blindingly shiny new leaves turning over willy-nilly.

Hindsight being a wonderful tool for pointing out the foresight one should have had in the first place is rather inconveniently in short supply. So my resolutionary reality means that I spend countless hours perusing the tools by which to tame a mad woman: the titillating little blank squares of an empty calendar, the all-you-can-eat You Tube video platter of people who are seemingly already doing that which I aspire to, websites, forums and email reminders from said people, my not-in-this-lifetime ‘Vision Board’ and last year’s list of everything I didn’t do, but still want to do compounded by the current list of everything I want to do but probably won’t be able to do because of everything I didn’t do last year. And the year before that. And before that. Confessions of a serial serialist.

I think I must possess some sort of ‘delusion gland’ all porous and spongy soaking up a plethora of advice particularly that associated with numbers. According to various sources of various levels of credibility, it takes 21 or 28 or is it 30 days to form a new habit or break an old one. Based on my thoroughly haphazard internet search I have concluded that there are basically 12 tips for taking 8 steps toward 10 hints that involve 15 things to avoid when taking the 1,000 thingy challenge. The great news is that the end result will be a perfect yoga body thriving on fresh, organic, free-range meditation, a budget plan that will launch my husband and I into a balmy retirement where the water meets Shangri-La and an eye watering book deal to keep me writing into my dotage, wrinkle free.

And so, ‘Operation Uber Sort’ (or ‘Same Crap Different Year’) has begun! Wall charts have been designed, calendars filled, routines created, elaborate plans made scheduling myself and my family to the microsecond, shower 6:59 am, dress 7:02, breakfast 7:10, brush teeth 7:16. This, it must be noted, is a vast improvement on my normal morning when I arrive breathless at not-quite-on-time-o’clock bare hands struggling to pry open the day as the colossal weight of it threatens to shut on me.

Wheeee! Off we go into the wild blue new year. With the weight of my dirty little secret lifted from my shoulders, I am no longer the only non-blogging blogger in existence. Go me.

See you next week, or in 2018.