Ctrl-Alt-Del – Happy New Year!

So here we are again. New Year’s Eve. Facebook is full of people bemoaning 2016, promising great things for 2017, and wishing everybody the best. Everywhere is awash with sentiment. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising, I actually love the way that this time of year encourages people to review their lives, and decide to strive for better. To press the reset button and start over, a year older, wiser and hopefully stronger. It’s something we need, to be able to make a clean break and move on.

2016 has been a crap year for many. I am typing this while watching a humorous and irreverent review of the year. You seriously could not have predicted some of the things that happened this year, could you? There have been times where we did not know whether to laugh or cry, or we simply sat in stunned silence as events unfolded. Some of these events brought out the worst in people. We saw friends squabbling, horrendous accusations flying around social media, and between strangers in the streets. It was not a pretty sight.

We also lost so many wonderful celebrities, in such quick succession that we could hardly catch our breath. A couple of months into the New Year we suffered a much more personal loss. Barbara, my lovely mother-in-law passed away at the beginning of March. It was apparent that she had had enough, she missed her husband, and she simply slipped away, fairly quietly. We spent a few months learning about wills, and probate and lots of official stuff like that. With Nigel’s inheritance, we were able to finally start to improve our home with repairs, a new kitchen and the like. But we were quite unprepared for how much we would miss Mum.

To all intents and purposes, we had a brilliant year. We had decided on a year of experiences, not “stuff” and that’s what we did. We ate in brilliant places, we did theatre, and lots of live music. We had a fabulous holiday in Greece, we made lots of lovely memories.

We also had some quite difficult moments, and my health has been quite poor on and off during the year. We have not got to grips with a healthier lifestyle and in fact the last six weeks of 2016 have been a bit of a blur with both Nigel and I being very poorly.

Work wise I tried lots of things, and by the end of the year I had made decisions about my path forward and acted on those decisions. We also explored the possibilities of realizing a long-held dream, to relocate to the North West of the UK. That dream looks like it will become reality in 2017, and although it won’t be easy, it will be worthwhile and will create a new future for us.

The move will finally move me forward from my past. Although difficult for many, for me this year has been very cathartic and I actually feel very grown up – some might say thank god for that!

Over the years I have often found New Year’s Eve unbearable. It can be the most miserable time of the year. Expectations are high, with everyone expecting to have a good time and to find someone to kiss at midnight. I have hosted parties, visited pubs and hated the years when we have had nowhere to go, and no one else to share it with. I have also gone to bed and cried myself to sleep because something was ending. Over the last few years,we have fallen into the habit of staying in and tuning into Jools Holland but a bit of me felt as though I was missing out on something, that everyone else was out partying and having a better time than me. But not this year. Tonight I am right where I want to be, with my lovely Nigel. Hopefully Zoe will be home from work too. I am content.

Some of my friends and Facebook buddies are setting off on their own adventures next year. Another friend is starting the year planning a funeral for the love of her life and is grief stricken. Others are making their own very difficult decisions. We are all hoping for more, longing for better. Life can be fabulous and it can be difficult. It is always worthwhile. Every obstacle, every difficulty moves us along, teaches us something we need to learn. We cannot always see that at the time. Our vision is blurred by the struggle. But we have to keep moving, one step or one day at a time.

I think that what I am trying to say, is that life is a continuous process, you can press Ctrl-Alt-Delete every New Year’s Day, or more often than that if you like! But every now and then you get a free pass, you actually avoid many of the obstacles, dodge what is thrown at you, and avoid falling into deep and troublesome crevices. And along the way you can collect many rewards!

So, this New Year’s Day I am not pressing the reboot button – I am going to be moving up to the next level!

I would like to wish you and your families a Happy and Peaceful New Year. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Many of you have helped me more than you know this year. I hope I have returned the favour to some of you.

Let’s welcome 2017 in with a smile and full of optimism for what this level of the game will bring us all.

 

Bad hair day!

Back in November 2011 I embarked on an epic “journey” with a local network magazine called Project Penny. It was a brave and challenging step and I know that many of you have stuck with me through my ups and downs since then. I was very lucky to be introduced to many wonderful people, some of whom are still very much in my life. With lovely Dawn, the editor holding my hand, I lost 2 stone which I have kept off, got some amazing life coaching with the fabulous Jo Painter, which really helped me sort my head out somewhat. I met another Jo, my amazing nail technician who has become a good friend who supports me at every twist of the road. Lovely Jo and Tracey at The Toning Rooms. And many others, too many to mention here.

The other lady I met was the amazing Ann Fegan. More of her in a moment.

The interesting, and possibly slightly sad thing about Project Penny (PP) was that for the first time I developed a negative body image. My struggles with my weight are well documented. I am currently around 7 stone lighter than I was at my heaviest in 2000. Some of that has been lost with hard work, some of it disappeared when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2001. But even at my heaviest I did not hide behind big cardigans and shapeless clothes. I flaunted my cleavage, wore figure hugging clothes and generally was not bothered how I looked. Now, when I look back at pictures of that time I am horrified. I was a 30 something working mum, struggling in a difficult marriage that ended in violence but on the surface I was blissfully unaware of how awful I looked. Project Penny changed that forever.

The worst thing for me at that time was how awful my hair was. When I was a teenager I had very long, very thick hair. But over the years of bleaching, perming, backcombing it had become a shadow of its former self. My hair has always been fine, but by the time of PP the volume had reduced significantly. My shiny pate shone through the fine wisps blinding the locals! And I was horribly aware of it.

Back to Ann Fegan. Ann is a hairdresser, a brilliant hairdresser. She works with many ladies who have problems with hair, including those who lose their hair after treatment for cancer. She took me under her wing and we began trying different things. We used a laser, we tried extensions, some other topical applications and then finally in early 2012 she introduced me to something called a volumiser.

This is a hair piece that fits over your own hair and is held in place by tape. Once it is in place it looks like your own hair. You can wash it, swim in it, style it. It is an amazing invention. It is refitted every few weeks. It changed my life.

For nearly 5 years I have felt confident, brave and yes pretty, however vain that sounds. I have had 3 volumisers in that time and each one has been better than the last. It has become part of Penny.

OK, so that is the preamble. Why am I writing this blog? Well as you know we have made a major life decision to relocate to the North West next year. It is unlikely that I will be able to get my piece refitted up there. Also, it was time for a new one and it is a pretty major investment. And finally, after all this time I think I need to give my scalp a rest and see if my hair can recover. So I made another major lifestyle decision….drum roll….I decided to try a wig.

Yesterday I went to the hairdressers and had my volumizer removed. My plan was to try on a couple of wigs, have the volumizer put back on, and think about it. But my current piece has really reached the end of its life and it would have been difficult to put it back on, not impossible, but I knew that it was looking sparse and didn’t feel right.

At this point brave, confident Penny deserted me completely. I was in tears with a full chin wobble. Trying hard to conceal my complete distress. The lovely girls tried to comfort me but I was totally traumatised.

We tried the first wig on. It felt terrible! Like wearing a hat and all I could think was of it blowing off if I went out in the wind! (I am smiling now, but yesterday it felt like the end of the world). The second wig felt better but also felt more “wiggy” – hard to describe but not brilliant. I was so devastated that I rang Nigel and he came over to see me. I experienced such a sense of desolation, a sense of loss of Penny. I was really not prepared for how awful it felt.

I took a deep breath and tried again. We discovered that the first wig could be adjusted. The second wig was fun. They were less expensive than I expected. I walked out with two wigs.

But. I am a mess. I feel bald. It is stressful and traumatic. I am avoiding mirrors. I find it hard to imagine wearing a wig all day in the house. I am looking forward to being able to wash my hair and feeling the water on my scalp. I am sure that my body thermostat is going to enjoy me sleeping with nothing on my head. I hope that my hair may recover now that I am out of my stressful job and tackling my health issues.

This is all so weird because I have spent 4 years gleefully telling everyone I meet that I have a hair piece, wiggling it to prove it, telling the story with confidence. Sharing in the hope that it might help someone else. So why am I so agonized about wearing a wig?

I have woken up this morning feeling dreadful. Figured I would “write it out”! My sensible bald head tells me that I am being stupid. It’s just hair after all. I am still Penny, whatever is on my head. But I feel ugly and unfeminine. I did not expect to feel this way.

I am going to sit and play with the wigs, hoping that my confidence will grow. We are going to Morecambe for a fleeting visit this weekend, to look at the area and some houses. I will be anonymous and perhaps that will give me confidence too. Maybe at the end of this I will have several wigs and can be a different Penny each day of the week! I hope so. My split personalities are quite excited!

I just looked for some wig quotes and found this lovely quote from Dolly!

If wigs are good enough for her, they must be good enough for me!

 

 

Wig 2, the fun one!

 

 

 

 

Wig 1, the sophisticated one

Watch this space. 2017 is going to be an interesting year.

 

Old year resolutions…

every-chance

So we are into the last month of 2016 and it’s been quite a year. We started the year with what seemed like endless celebrity deaths, an constant stream of the beautiful and the great departing this life and leaving us with fabulous memories, but an overwhelming sense of sadness.

For us, our year was marred by the death of my lovely mother-in-law Barbara. Not unexpected, and she had obviously decided that she had had enough and it was time to go. We were sad but accepting, but I do think we underestimated just how badly it would affect us. Her bequest has allowed us to make some significant changes to our home, which in turn has allowed us to make some decisions on our future, which I think she would approve of. 2017 is going to be a very interesting year. These plans were highlighted in my last blog in October

For me, this has been a very reflective year. As you all know several major life events have left me milling around in a soup of indecisiveness, trying things on for size, learning more about myself and my abilities, supported by a very patient and loving Nigel, who was willing to allow me time to sort myself out.

Anyway, over the last few weeks things seem to have dropped into place, some of the mist has cleared and I have cleared the decks, ready for a New Year, a new start and a new adventure!

Also, I have decided not to wait for January to make my resolutions. I love the whole New Year, new start thing. It makes perfect sense to me. Something about New Year’s Eve wipes the slate and opens a whole new book. Yes, I know it’s ridiculous but something about it pleases me! However New Year is over 4 weeks away and I can’t wait!

One of the new lessons I have learned is that sometimes you need to let go. We all hang on to things for too long. Whether it is a friendship, a marriage, a business partnership, anger, all kinds of things. Why do we do this?

I am never brave enough to make a quick decision. Instead I hang on till the bitter end, kicking and screaming, holding on to every last bit of misguided hope. It’s as though I see giving up on anything as a complete failure. This results in sleepless nights, much agonizing, plenty of stress for Nigel and then eventually I do what I knew was right in the first place and sort things out!

So, my Old Year Resolution is to let it go…trust my instincts and try defying gravity….oops sidetracked into musical theatre there! But you get the gist. I am going to let it go….(Idina Menzel is determined to get into this blog!!)

In 2017 I will be

  • More decisive
  • More forgiving
  • More positive
  • More believing

2017 will be the year of more!

I am also going to be starting a new blog venture called A Year in my Kitchen – addressing my relationship with food and eating with recipes and food ideas, lots of good stuff. Look out for it.

I wish you all a peaceful and loving Christmas. Thank you for all your support during this difficult year. Your encouragement and love has made all the difference.

I do have song lyrics for EVERY occasion, and this song has been playing through my head for months, and was mentioned in the last blog. Guess I need a new song for next year!

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by
The rules of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes
And leap

It’s time to try defying gravity
I think I’ll try defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

 

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