All the clothes

What a strange kind of day it’s been. About a year ago I put away all the clothes that didn’t fit me any more and hid them behind a set of chest of drawers in my bedroom. Out of sight, out of mind.

Well today I thought I’d have a peek into the bags and just see… if maybe… possibly… some of the clothes might fit me again? So I grabbed the six bags of t-shirts, dresses, jeans and skirts and started rifling through them one by one.

And guess what? Some of them fit. I have a whole new wardrobe without spending a penny.

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I am loving discovering these lovely clothes once again, even if they are hidden under layers of ponchos and scarves.

A new sofa

I am an advertiser’s dream. I’m sure if I was to turn up at ‘Derren Brown does Hypnosis’ at Sheffield City Hall, I’d be an easy target. But I do have some kind of self restraint. This much I know. I have wanted a little two-seater sofa for a few months to go in the gaping space in front of my radiator, but instead of ordering a £1000 made to measure sofa from Habitat, I have been making a daily trek down to the Next Outlet near my house to see if there has been an appropriate return. Ooh – will the brown two-seater do? It’s 60% off… NO. IT WILL NOT DO. So every day I go back, looking for all the world like a weird shop lifter walking straight to the discount sofas, and walking straight back out again.

But…

Today, oh my, today was different. Today I walked in and found my perfect sofa. It was small, perfectly formed, and purple. PURPLE! Oh my days. I thought I was looking for a grey sofa, but it turned out I was actually looking for a purple one! And there it was! And so I bought it. And Paul – the man with a van – is going to deliver it for me tomorrow. So hang fire, folks, and hopefully this time tomorrow I will be able to give you picture of my new purple sofa in situ! Now the question is, will I cover it in fairy lights…Purple fairy lights

Waiting, waiting…

I WANT TO PUT MY TREE UP. I am the opposite of bah humbug. I would have the Christmas spirit all year round if I could get away with it. One thing I’ve started doing recently is leaving one extra set of fairy lights up all year – in a bowl, in the window, in the garden, in the fire place. Where ever I can get away with it, to be fair. I’ve even got my youngest hooked – he was thrilled to come home from school last week to find I’d draped his banister rails in bright white fairy lights as a treat. Boy after my own heart!

Well, at the moment it’s still November. So I can’t go for it just yet. Convention dictates WE DON’T DO CHRISTMAS TILL DECEMBER. Three days to wait. Get me to Dec 1st and my house will be lit up like Blackpool, and I will be beside myself with joy! So for now, I wait. Patience is everything at Christmas…

Christmas tree

 

Adventures in Norwich

A weekend away. A weekend of friends and love and glorious sunshine in Norfolk.

And it only took 3hrs to get there. 3 fantastic hours with my boy, listening to his favourite punk pop CDs all the way down the A17. And as usual, as soon as we get there, it was like we’d never been away. I love the precious time I get to spend not only with my boy, but sharing him with my amazing friend and her daughter.  We have made plans – plans for next year, plans to get together again soon and now my boy is old enough to babysit, plans to actually go out!

Good times. Good times.

Swings

When do they teach you how to let them go?

My baby got big. He got all big and grown up and then he started thinking about moving away. About moving on.

That means I’ve done my job well, right? That means that through divorce and illness, through financial hardships and guilt, I managed to do ok by him. That means through all those tearful evenings worrying about whether I’m doing the right thing, some of the decisions and choices I made might have been good ones. All those days of encouraging him to do his homework/empty the dishwasher/do his piano practice, they are all but over now. Buying his winter coat and shoes may still come down to me, but choosing his bedtime story won’t. I might be called on to lend him my car so he can take his girlfriend to town, but it won’t be my job to check he’s got the right change for a cappuccino. I don’t even remind him to brush his teeth anymore. Well, not EVERY day…

Knowing I’ve done all these things that ultimately mean he can make his own way in the world, does give me sense of pride and enormous love. Doesn’t make it any easier to let him go, though.

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A room with a view

Tonight I am in a different city, in a different bed, with a different view. I’m listening to the hustle down below and wondering where all these strangers are heading, and what lives they are leading.

I remember the first time I became aware of my sense of self within my own head. I was about 11 and on my own on a bus heading into town to meet my friend at Top Shop. I noticed someone walking along the pavement next to the bus and was struck by the fact that I would never know what they were thinking and would probably never ever get to meet them to even ask them their name.

Sometimes it takes a change of view to remind us of ourselves. To remind us what it is that makes us unique and special. To remind us to consider our outlook, and be thankful for what we see.

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Good food

Good food is essential to keeping a calm head and a strong body. It is so easy to get food these days. It’s packaged in handy plastic containers, and sold in portions, just for you! I am not the best cook. I struggle making food that isn’t yellow. But over the past few months I have tried really hard to  learn how to cook food from scratch – with a little help from my friends.

One of the beautiful things about social media, is our friends are always next door. And that means ‘pass it forward’ becomes easier than ever. I have a few recipes that I inherited from from friends over the years, but these days, help is just a click away. I recently made a pasta/quiche/vegetable concoction that I would never have risked without message support from an experienced pasta quicher. Good things come to those who have access to social media stalkers to help you measure your pasta/eggs ratios.

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New things

Learning new things keeps our brains ticking over, apparently. Learning a new instrument, a new language, a new sport. All these things are proven to get the synapses firing and keep us on our toes.

Well today I did a new thing. I had to go somewhere I’d never been before. I didn’t know the route and I didn’t know the destination. And it was dark. I was sensible – I used the satnav on my phone – but it still made me anxious. The roads were really winding and the new LED street lamps lit the roads up like a weird computer driving game.

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But I made it – made it to the car park. Good. But now I realised didn’t know where I was going when I arrived! Gah… No satnav to find a music recital in a school building. Time for a phone call I think.

 

What does Work Life Balance look like?

We’re all so busy… Our days are full and our weekends are fuller.  As we get stretched more and more by our families and our managers, by our responsibilities at work and at home, we start to think that we are failing if we can’t keep up. Something’s got to give…

We’ve all heard about ‘Work Life Balance’, but what is this elusive thing that other people seem to have that we don’t? What does it actually look like? I’ve gathered together a few ideas that are accessible to all of us, no matter how busy we are, that might bring back some measure of joy into our days and weeks.

Essentially, work life balance (WLB) is about allowing ourselves the time to choose an activity, or experience, or task (or absence of these things completely) without guilt, instead of continuing ever onwards with work-based jobs. It’s a well-planned diary where there are pockets of ‘me time’ that remind you what it is that you enjoy about being in the world. A regular exercise class, a gig at a local venue, a meal out with old friend or new friend. A book to pick up and read, just for pleasure, just for you. When was the last time you were able to properly do it for yourself? We know all these things are good for our soul, but we get swept away with the pace of work and the panic of our never-ending to-do list. So we need to plan it, and stick to it.

Once a week, make sure you take an evening off. Handbag Wednesday.  This is a real thing. Managers up and down the country are enforcing Handbag Wednesday as we speak, and if yours isn’t, maybe you could suggest it? On this day, you don’t take anything home except your handbag – and gentlemen, we know you have handbags too… So now you’ve found yourself with an evening off! You could go swimming after school with your children, or for a run. Pop into town and buy a new top. Plan a book club night or join WI. Learn a new craft by checking out some local classes. There is a whole world outside that is there to be experienced. But you have to plan it and plan it well otherwise you’ll ‘just leave it for this week’, then a fortnight has passed, and then you might not pick it up again. Get a calendar and write the dates on the calendar in PEN. Book the babysitter and pay the course costs up front.  Organise the book club AT YOUR HOUSE so you can’t cancel at the last minute with ‘I’m working tonight. Can we make it next week?’

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All of these things are important. Work out what is important to you and your family and begin to bring that balance back into your life. Sometimes, the smallest things can make a massive difference.