Talk about your parents

Today my email prompt was:

Talk about your parents. How did they meet? How are they a part of your life today?

How do you start to tell the story of your lifetime? For if these two people had not met, I would not be me.

My parents were both living in Manchester at the same time in the early seventies.  My Dad was born in Brighton, lived in Bristol and moved to Manchester just before his teenage years. My Mother was born in Manchester and moved between there and Norwich several times during her childhood until she was fifteen and back in Manchester.

She was shy and kept her associations to family (brothers and cousins) and worked in an office; he was a social butterfly working four jobs including prop-master at Manchester opera house.

One day a colleague of my Mother’s asked if she would babysit while she performed in a local players group, she agreed as they were friends and Mother had met her husband before. Meanwhile Dad was at his job as a barman and was asked by a mate if he could take a look at his leaking window at his house, Dad agreed. Then one early Friday evening Mother walked to her friends house ready to babysit that night when she approached the drive she looked up and saw a young man up a ladder fiddling with the window of her friend’s house. He looked down as she walked up the drive, “Hello” he quipped; “hello” she replied.  Inside the house she went and chatted to her friend inside.  The young lad finished fiddling with that window and refreshed himself in the kitchen with his mate Dave. He left soon after and the friends went out for their performance.

Not very long afterwards Mother’s friend, Marie, remarked that Dave’s friend liked the look of her, would she be interested in a drink, “I don’t think so”. But Marie and Dave persisted and invited each friend to a drink at a local pub, Mother went along for a drink with Marie and found the young lad there too.  After a short chat (and it really was short) he asked her out for a date, “No thank you”, puzzled he asked “why not”, she replied honestly “I don’t like to go out because I have panic attacks and I faint, it’s embarrassing so I’d rather not”. He smiled broadly, “Well that is ok then, I volunteer for St John’s Ambulance, you’ll be safe with me”.  Persuaded she agreed.

Like a storm in a tea cup or a whirlwind of emotions, they met once and then twice for dates, he then left for a three week holiday in Scotland with his aunt Maud and she stayed behind.  Those three weeks were long, a postcard arrived suggesting another date, when and where.  She turned up as suggested and it was like no time had passed at all.

The following week he took her to lunch at a local garden café, he sat across the table nervous, but pushed himself on, “Will you marry me?” Flattered but sensible she talked him out of it, but he continued again but that time he talked her out of it.  By the end of that afternoon he asked her one more time (just to be sure I presume!) and she said Yes. So did he!

After six weeks there were engaged, courtship followed for another year – him working his shifts and turning up at 2am after the theatre to see her (but usually fell asleep on her lap), family introductions were made too and at the end of that year they planned the wedding. After saving and planning it was two years in, they were married and blissfully happy.

A book was run at their reception – how long before divorce? I give them six months, a year but Maud was generous and gave them two years.  None of them would realise they’d still be together celebrating forty years later. Still happy (mostly) and still content (practically always).

I am an only child, for good reasons but hard reasons. I grew up in a very loving home and atmosphere. I’ve been supported and encouraged in anything I’ve been through. We’ve argued and fought, but we’ve always made up. Today they are both my best friends. I go to the pub with Dad and socialise frequently with him and mutual friends.  Mother remains family social and I make sure she gets treats like Afternoon Teas, Spa breaks and theatre trips.  They are both the people I turn to in times of fear, heartache, and joy.  Each of us independent from each other, but a team.

Hippos, Exmouth
(c) A Girl from Devon
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In a year where do you want to be?

Today my email prompt asked me

In a year where do you want to be?

This time next year I am Project Manager extraordinare delivering fine heritage projects across Great Yarmouth. The car mostly sits at home in its cosy private parking spot, enjoyed at weekends (it has been a long time since driving has been ‘enjoyed’ and now it is each time the engine starts). The bicycle is now the main mode of transport to and from work. My legs are slimmer and my stamina tenfold increased. This new beginning lark has been amazing.

Meanwhile, my studies have progressed. I completed that online course I started a year ago and passed it with flying colours. Knowing the basics of mindfulness and CBT served me well when I started the NLP certification course the other month. This education is fascinating and I’m meeting lots of new lovely people who want to help others too.

Holistic Therapist is fast becoming a reality, all I need is to complete this course and find one on Indian Head Massage and I can set myself up in business.

My pathwork has taken me to places I did not imagine. Personal growth has flourished and my past is now firmly behind me and appreciating the present is a reality. My next stop is a visit to Glastonbury to experience a pagan festival.

This place I will be in a years’ time excites me. Fills me with hope, ambition and motivation. Finding my potential and truly living a genuine existence has been (or will be if we are now back in present time) liberating.

Lao Tzu: Patience for clear water

The turning of the season

Yesterday I bathed in the sweet warm sunshine in my garden. All the scents around me sparkled like glitter, tasting sweet and succulent. The sun set behind the shed and as the pink and yellow glow engulfed across the skyline, the pale white moon rose. It ascended the sky in beautiful tranquil beauty and the sky turned navy.  After an hour the first bright star appeared and twinkled like a little bell. Summer bade farewell and closed her eyes for her nine months of slumber.

This morning as the sun rose, the leaves stretched and crackled their stiffness free; dew set upon the grass wetting toes and paws as we walked on.

The air was crisp and fine, a different scent filled the air. Akin to a light dusting of cinnamon and metallic dampness filled the air.  The ash tree flopped its branches down and swayed in the cool breeze. This transformation happened overnight, one day previous it was summer and this morning it is autumn.

Short days and long evenings await, by a warm fire and cosy nook you will find us, curled up with a book (and marshmallows).

Natures transformation is subtle but quick, I stand in awe of her eternal beauty and fierceness.

May your harvest be plentiful.

Carlton Marshes, Lowestoft

A walking contradiction

Open the heart

Please excuse me as today this note will be more personal than philosophical or poetic.

Most of the time I like routine, but sometimes when I am bored of routine I crave adventure and when adventure becomes overwhelming I crave routine.  Probably like most women (or people) I am a walking contradiction most of the time.

One of my favourite songs is ‘Simple Kind of Life’ by No Doubt.  I seem to resonate with the sentiment.

The simple kind of life – but what is that really like? What is simplicity to me is not to my neighbour and vice versa.

Simplicity to me is waking when I am ready to wake. Walking my dog and sitting still for an hour before I do anything.  Simply reading a book brings me pleasure, as does watching a boxset I enjoy.  Simply making decisions that only affect me and not giving a damn whether it pleases anybody else.  Simply cooking a straight forward meal with no bizarre ingredients and too many steps but tastes delicious, that is a something I would enjoy – not thinking about whether what I am eating will harm me later.

Simplicity to me can be routine, something familiar and generic.

I am guilty of being an over-thinker, an analyser and fixator.  The mind is what makes things so complicated, so un-simplistic, because it needs to be working all the time. Because the mind is clever at keeping itself occupied.  But the mind should not rule and that is a lesson I am slowly learning.

Learning to focus purely on the NOW, not what is coming next or should be next or what I would like to say if I wasn’t so afraid.  Not what is past and how stupid I may have been or wishing what cannot be changed could be.  The NOW. It is frightening to the mind because it resets it.  The NOW is peaceful and ultimately simplistic.  In the NOW there are no problems, challenges, stress, anxiety or fear. The NOW simply IS.

What is simplicity to you?

A time spent within clouds

I have long envied my Dad and my Aunt, when they recount their youth I feel that mine is nothing to write home about. I haven’t had many adventures in comparison, I am not a daredevil, and my dramatic side fixes on a movie quote “A life lived in fear is a life half lived” and I think a lot about the opportunities I have turned down out of fear.

Then I shake myself and realise that I have done things that others maybe wouldn’t. For example moving 300 miles away from home at 20 completely on my own to a place where I didn’t know anybody. The countries I have visited and explored (albeit with my parents, but still…. I have ventured).

But this time I have done something that my Dad hasn’t and is jealous of. While on holiday with said Aunt, I went parasailing.  I was nervous as hell and almost bottled it twice, but after a phone call to my Dad and encouragement from my Aunt I paid the man and got on his boat and into the harness.

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It is difficult to describe the level of enjoyment I experienced, but I will try. I had envisioned being strapped to the parachute and being flung up into the air with a huge amount of G-force pulling me backward until I was dragged behind the boat.  How far wrong could I have been!

I sat on the back of the boat, attached to the parachute there was a tug but I didn’t move, then the man released the winch and I gently rose up off the boat and out over the sea. It really was gentle and completely undramatic.

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Once up there with the clouds I settled into the harness; my bum and gravity teamed up at one point but after a slight shuffle it was quite comfortable suspended there above everything.

Although windy on the boat it was a breeze up there, the sky was so clear apart from the odd puff of cloud floating past. You are aware that you are incredibly high up but at the same time because the sea is so blue beneath your feet, looking down it didn’t feel that high at all.

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I waved to the people on jet skis going beneath me, they waved back (or first); a few people on another passing boat waved and I took a picture. The coastline was incredible, so densely populated.  The mountains in the distance were obscured most of the time by clouds but every now and then they parted to a wonderful clear view of them towering over the city.

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It was incredibly peaceful up there. No drama unfolding, no noise oddly except the whooshing of the chute as the boat changed direction. Time stood still you just couldn’t comprehend how long you were there floating above everything. I was gently winched back in and the boat took us back to the dock, it was over.

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What I learnt that day up in the clouds is to not let my perceived fear hold me back from doing things that have the potential to bring a lot of joy. Keep fear in check and context. Live.

Fences

Tall grey steel meshing across the view
Barriers between one place and another, rocking in the winds
Hard wooden screens not view through, over or between

Fences topped with wire to barb you if you climb
Fences keeping evil within and innocence without
Fences for security but some for sheer malice

Fencing in the cattle, fencing out the people
Fencing one group of people away from another
Fences cloaking barracks or camps, who knows that they are there

Fences at the boarders, reserves and homesteads
Are they really necessary in every place they stand

Tulips at Chatsworth House
(c) A Girl from Devon

Rebuild, Reborn, Repeat

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It was a cold winter morning, the sun had not yet risen but dawn was breaking. The tall fern trees covered in snow stood high above, imposing almost, surrounding the small village of huts and cabins. The ground was hard and damp, blackened this time of year from lack of sunlight.  It was a dark village set far away from any other.

A small patch in the centre was smoking wistfully, the embers still burning but the fierce fire long gone out in the middle of the cold windy night. Bella looked around her, stood in the village centre shivering in her plain tunic. She had left her furs back in the hut, where blood dressed the walls and two bodies lie still forever more.  Her breathing was heavy, pressing out into the air in front of her.  Coming to her senses Bella picked up a long branch from the nearby campfire and dowsed it in oils. She needed one little spark and it was alight. She threw it back into the hut among those bodies and closed the door.  She turned and walked on towards the trees.

20180226_181648.jpgIt was time to rebuild her life. Far away from the terrors she had experienced these last few years. The depression, the hopelessness, the bullying; they had all deserved it for what they did.  This was her harvest, she had sown her seeds of hard learning and patience, it had grown into a quiet confidence until the time was right to strike out on her own and walk away.

Now is Bella’s time to rebuild her life to what she wanted it to be.  As she walked on, Rebel the wolf pack runt, strutted up to her side. Without a glance or a word they walked on together. Rebuilding their lives together, one step at a time.

Moment by moment they became each other’s eyes and ears, bonding into one being built on trust and respect. They ate and slept together, keeping each other surviving until they reached the next village. This village was Bella’s true home, where she was taken from as a child. Bella had come home to rebuild herself, reborn into the fiery pixie she always knew she would be.