Embarrassing and Amusing Choices

I have an amusing and embarrassing concern. Sometimes I think “It can’t just be me, surely!”

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I have a choice to make.  A lovely, and to me quite funny choice.

The past two months have been energetic and I seem to have dropped a dress size without trying which is blooming awesome.  There are plenty more dress sizes I’m keeping as spares, no risk of wasting away.  However, it’s not just dresses that have been dropped.  I have spent the day puffing out my tummy in an attempt to keep my “foundation” clothing in situ!!!  Basically, my underwear is now too big and if I don’t puff out my tummy and/or walk funny it threatens to fall down!

I think I need to stop off at a store this evening and make an appropriate purchase in smaller sizes to prevent this minor debacle resuming tomorrow.  It is making me giggle and go cross eyed with concentration all at the same time.  Is it just me that thinks this is a hoot?

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

The resolve of British folks to make hay while the sun shines should be their defining characteristic. It’s magnificent.

I love the old saying “make hay while the sun shines”.  It harkens back to the days of manual agriculture with large teams of men scything hay in the fields but waiting until the warm and hot days of summer to cut and stack the crop lest it turn damp and rot away.  Without accurate weather forecasting it would have been a harvest which was anticipated and hoped for but couldn’t be planned specifically until conditions were perfect.  The farmer and the labourers wouldn’t know weather was perfect until they woke on the day itself.  In my minds eye I see people calling to each other,  drop your plans, today it is hay day, get a move on, pack a lunch, we’re heading to the fields, hurry up this is urgent, move it, got your kit, right, let’s go.  Then the shire horse would trundle into the field pulling the cart which would receive the harvest and the men folk and maybe some women would begin and finish while she sun shone.  It all rested on being ready to go as soon as the call came through and being willing to throw your back in to the work.

The British tolerate changeable weather for much of the year.  The location of the British Isles falls under the convergence of several weather systems.  There could be clear and blue skied days in the deepest part of winter, there could be hazy cloud cover on summer days.  Rarely is there a predictable weather pattern where snow or sun could be accurately anticipated.  The Brits wake each day and look out the window.

Brits make hay while the sun shines.  It is their defining characteristic. I have never seen nor heard of towns and cities coming alive so quickly as a British town experiencing a surprise warm spell or a snow flurry.  It is comparable to flowers blooming in the desert after rain.  It is extraordinary, exciting and beautiful.  Plans are hastily made, friends visit with friends, people go out for al fresco lunch, laughter can be heard all around.  British people endure tepid weather well in the hope and anticipation of a hay making week here or there and when it happens they really go for it, they completely go to town.  These occasional weeks or days here and there are enough to tide them over until the next time they can be overtly joyful.  While not perhaps being the first thing one thinks of when considering the attributes of British folks, I think this quiet resolve to enjoy where they are despite the conditions and to be joyful when the conditions finally become temporarily perfect is something which should be noted and held dear.

The New Normal

Life is normal for the first time in 4 decades and I think I’m becoming a fan.

So much has changed and is changing for the better (knock on wood) that the ease of the transition has been a surprise.  Sure, I slogged my guts out for weeks straightening the houses – and dropped a dress size in the process thank you very much – and there is still a lot to do, there will always be a lot to do, but the new normal is starting to sink in and I think I like it.

I have a nomadic heart so the idea of staying put for the next 25 years was a huge adjustment.  It vexed me and demanded my emotional attention but the concern, and it was concern, is dissipating now.

We have painted walls and we have fresh, new carpet.  We have a place for almost everything but I know those places will be altered in due course, I still have to put up the blinds but that is much harder than it looks, particularly when you drill where the brackets should go only to find loo roll, toilet tissue paper, padding out the void behind the wallpaper!

But the house is pretty easy to live in.  Some houses work, others don’t.  Rentals generally don’t work unless you go for a fancy one.  Invariably they were purchased by the owner because they were cheap, and they were cheap because they are difficult to live in.  This one works.  According to Missy “the flow” is right which I think means how easy it is to move around a house and use the spaces available.

The problem I have is that there are too many kitchen cupboards and I keep forgetting where I put my items so I have to go on a cupboard opening hunt for the items I need every evening while I mutter “D’oh, for the love of Sundays!”.  I find it amusing.

When the summer comes I’ll empty and repair the sheds, decide what we are keeping and chucking or selling, jet wash and treat all the wood in the garden on the deck and the fences and sheds, I’ll get a new hatch put in to the loft with a pull down ladder to make access to the roofspace less arduous.

Actually, if I do the loft hatch first, all the bits laying around which don’t have a home yet can be put away and that’ll really break the back of finishing this thing.

It’s never going to be in Country Living or Homes & Gardens but I can Pinterest he heck out of this and make it work for us and be a cozy place to be when we don’t have to be somewhere else.

It’s normal now to drive through the neighbourhood, to say hi to the neighbours and stop to chat with them for a while.  They’re all lovely so far.  It’s normal to sit in the back garden in the sun and read a book for a few minutes when I get in from work, it’s normal to look out of the kitchen window while I do the washing up, it’s normal upon arriving home to call up the stairs to Missy who will almost invariably be in her room and ask her to come downstairs and pick up after herself.  I love that we’ve been there long enough for me to have made it untidy and tidied it up again.  I love declaring “This kitchen looks like a pig pit!!!” and quickly doing a couple of bits and it’s back to looking good again.

Life as such isn’t easy, we all still have to work hard to earn a crust, and we still have the chance to get involved with things which matter to us, and we still have friendships to maintain and enhance, and we have tired days and energetic days, it isn’t easy but it can be made easier than it would have been.

I don’t recall ever having had normal before, I think I’m becoming a fan.

My Curly Haired Baby Finishes 3-16 School. 

16 year old kids are ready to leave school, I however am not ready. I am a hot mess.

OK, so I might have been a hot mess last night. I might have managed to keep my “I am so pleased for you, congratulations sweetie” composure as Missy dropped the news that she leaves school officially on Wednesday lunchtime. The penny dropped. I suddenly twigged that my little curly afro haired baby who’d been wearing a school uniform for over a decade would be finished with uniforms as she enters study leave for her exams. My curly haired baby who looked at me so doe eyed in those first days of school was now laughing at me getting misty eyed as she talked about the final ever classes with her favourite teachers and how they were taking pictures with the students and giving them pep talks. My child is a child to me. Sure, the world sees a 5′ 10″ young woman who is capable and confident but I see my baby fresh out the hospital or in her oversized polo shirt with a logo. They see someone doing really well in the sciences and I see Chip and Biff early reader books. They see someone who stands her ground and I see someone who needed defending. 

She is ready, I am not. 

After this summer, adulthood looms. She is going to be magnificent and rock everything she sets her mind to. I will have to continue letting her move away and acclimatise into opportunity and responsibility.  My whole mandate for 16 years has been to let her be free enough to be a child, safe and loved. Now my mandate is changing and it is happening so quickly that it is difficult keeping up but I will get there.  She still has two more years of school but is more like junior college where they’re more autonomous. My baby is no longer a baby and it has come as a surprise. 

I am often behind the emotional curve, this is nothing new, no major surprises. I am very pleased with the woman she is becoming and look forward to standing back and observing her in adulthood in a few years, but not yet. I need a little more time. 

Brakes, a requirement?

When your brakes are being handed around to apprentices as a cautionary tale, there’s been a problem.

A squeaky sound began emanating from the wheel on the passenger side front wheel. So I asked the fellas at work to confirm my thinking that the brakes might need attention and they gave me 50 scenarios but the end result of their entertaining rambling was yes, it’s the brakes. So I booked an appointment at a garage for Saturday. The squeak worsened and the car started juddering. When I dropped the car at the garage they offered an estimate and started dismantling. Half hour later another call came through, “Mrs Pollyanna, there is no disc or pad, it is purely metal on metal, I am really glad you brought it in today”. So, double the estimate but still cheaper than buying a new clunker, the car is fixed, unsqueaky and back on the road. I have only had the car 9 months, it still has amother 3 months on the MOT, and had a full set of new tyres a couple of months ago. There should be a light on the dash to indicate problems. But still, all safe and legal. I am glad that I booked the appointment as soon as I realised there was a concern. See it, do it.

Debt Free At Last, Free At Last!

Debt is a form of modern day slavery. Well, with a little luck, this Woman is about to get her freedom papers.

If I have my numbers right, and I am quietly confident that I most likely have, in 2 months I will be completely without debt excluding a mortgage and regular bills. Did you hear that?  (knock on wood)! *runs around the house with her shirt over her head screeching hallelujah’s*.  

I have within my grasp the idea of being debt free for possibly the first time in a long time. I am excited to start building rather than repairing. I am excited at the idea of getting out in front rather than keeping up.  I am excited that the £28100 rent in the past four years didn’t quite pull us under. I am excited that elbow grease and value for money service providers were the biggest component in fixing this home, I am grateful for a wizard of a Mortgage advisor who negotiated a very manageable deal. 

Now, in among this happiness let us not start planning a new wing on the house, or moving to Kensington SW1 in London, or buying fancy things. We will, by the grace of whatever we believe in, and with a trade wind in the right direction, have enough to get by. We will, putting aside the obligatory emergencies, be able to live comfortably enough to to have everything we need and a little of what we want after building up a little reserve for the future.  I will not have to do mathematical gymnastics and keep a mental and physical spreadsheet log of everything draining our resources and their current APR.

Now, although exciting to me and joyful, it is also a little embarrassing to have been in this predicament.  Lesson number one, when the boy says he needs all your money and you have to pay the daycare fees and household bills too, don’t do it. He will have nice clothes and you will not. He will go out with friends and you will not. He will put your shared houses in his sole name. He will be a toe rag but you will not. 

In a month the divorce will be through. I am going to see if I can push and have this all knocked off before then. It is a big ask but wouldn’t it be grand to have matrimonial and financial freedom occur simultaneously?!  A woman can dream and then wake up and get to work to make her dreams come true.  

Writing a book via Email.

How could I help her remember her roots and learn from others experiences? I decided to write a book just for her.

I email myself things I want to tell my daughter when she is grown… things I wish i’d known about how the world works. I have the intent of compiling a book for her for when she heads to University.  Hopefully she’ll take a few moments to browse the pages and be able to incorporate some of the things shared.

There is so much I wish I had known and stumbled upon this idea a few years ago. Not wanting my daughter to fall into the same trap of starting from scratch I came up with a way to pass down the things I learned through graduating from the school of hard knocks.  Things on budgeting, careers, prioritisation, staying very close to friends and paying particular attention to the quality of your girls who are friends, making time for oneself, becoming subject matter experts in things which she is passionate over and which are useful to the wider community, health, how much I love how she can work a room, how much I love how she notices the people who need someone to talk to, some memories of her before she can remember, how I found moving beyond my own wants and needs led to a happier life, a reminder of her childhood dreams and aspirations, some photos of her early artwork and some comments perhaps about her to me over the years from our nearests and dearests.

Whether she loves it or not, it has been a delight to compile over the years.  Emailing myself little memories or thoughts on the hoof, from anywhere in the world using my phone, helped me to gather a wide repository of items to share.  Even reading back over early entries at this point in time shows me how quickly we forget the little things which make a life.  There are entries on subjects and events which until prompted I had completely forgotten even though I was the author.

I have noticed that when I stop and notice the good things in life, I am more prone to continue noticing the good things.  This has been a blessing to my life as it helped me focus on someone other than myself and helped me look for the good.  There is a sense of enrichment.  It also fortifies me against the moments which chip away at happiness.  It is like the id says “this rubbish thing may well be happening, but look at this vast array of successes” as it throws its arms wide over all the collected moments.

So, as much as this has been for Missy to peruse at her convenience at some later date, it has become a talisman of goodness in my own life, right here and right now.  I am pleased I started and pleased that I didn’t think to myself “ah, she’s already 10 years old, it is too late”.  Transpired I remembered much of her little years when she was 10, and as we start to focus on adulthood there are things for which I want her to be positively aware.  It wasn’t too late.