Love is the answer…

Our first weekend in Morecambe will be hosting the awesome Kite Festival. Lets go fly a kite!

It’s a done deal. Contracts have been exchanged. After weeks, no months, of uncertainty, stress and worry we will finally be moving to the Northwest on 20th June. So did we go out and celebrate, get outrageously drunk and dance on tables before hanging out in the local kebab shop and stuffing our faces with a greasy doner kebab?

Nope, we sat on our sofa with a glass of cider, united in stunned silence about what we have decided to do. Suddenly it was very real. Very real. There was the odd comment about the new house, or our lack of furniture, the upheaval for the cats and dogs, and of course I shed a tear about going so far away from Zoe. Then we went to bed.

I have woken up this morning to the sound of birdsong in my huge neglected garden. There are planes taking off from Stansted, a sound I have lived with for 51 of my 58 years! I left Nigel snoring gently in bed, fed the dogs and sat on the patio for a wee while. It’s warm already, and my view is beautiful. For a moment I felt incredibly sad. I know that in the next 25 days, for that is all that is left, I will have many of these moments, and I am sure there will be some once I am relocated. There are bound to be times when I miss what I had before. And that is ok. That is what life is about. Regret and “what ifs” are part of life’s rich pattern. But I think they will easily be overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation.

This time last week 22 people were excited and full of anticipation, looking forward to the weekend being over and a trip to a live concert. I bet they were guilty of wanting the time to go quicker, wishing and wanting it to be Monday so that they could go to the Manchester Arena to see a beautiful and talented young woman strut her stuff and sing her heart out on stage. We all know what happened next.

I am sure that in all of us there is a little voice saying don’t go to events. Don’t go to busy cities. Stay home, gather your friends and family close. It even crossed my mind that we might be “safer” in Morecambe. What tosh. It is natural to feel that way. But isn’t that what these murderers want? I do not even want to call them terrorists. They do not deserve their own noun.

This threat is not a new one. I worked in London in the late 70s when the IRA were doing their thing. We survived and went about our business as normal. I remember walking past the Old Bailey with windows blown out and debris in the street. We saw policemen with guns on the streets for the first time in my memory. We were angry but determined. Determined that we would continue to live our lives and carry on.

The IRA targeted Manchester before and the city rose up from the ashes with a new sense of community and so much strength. When I visited last year, it was one of the friendliest places I have ever been.

Life is dangerous. There is so much in the world that can cause us harm. Every time I get into my metal box and go out on the road with thousands of other people in their metal boxes I take a risk. I have witnessed so much aggression on the roads this week. It’s scary. But we carry on. We hug our children and our partners a little closer, maybe we call our friends to make sure they are ok. We smile in the sunshine and complain about the heat. We get ready for a new adventure 250 miles away. We go on living. And that is the best defence. The best way to show these murderers that we cannot be defeated.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by Monday’s attack. The families that will never be the same. The people who witnessed the horrific carnage and will never forget. The heroes that appear every time there is such a crisis, who care for the injured and give comfort to the dying.

We owe it to them to continue living our lives, caring for people in the community, whatever their colour, race, creed, religion. Everybody. Live well, live better. That is how we will win.

I thought long and hard about writing about this event. There are millions of words out there and I am sure that like me you have read too many of them. My heart aches and I have cried many times. I was sitting in my tin box at 11am on Thursday when the minute’s silence was held. I was driving through a small town in the sunshine and no-one in the street seemed aware. I sat at the traffic lights with tears streaming down my face and remembered those 22 lives. But this morning in the garden in that same sunshine I thought about life and how awesome it is. Embrace it. Live your life with pride and determination. Be kind. Treat people with respect. Share love. Love life. It’s the only way.

Love IS the answer!

For my daughter….What Zoe did next!

So here I am sitting in my house with an empty bedroom, in a whirlwind you have finally packed your stuff and flown, grabbing bits and pieces that you need at the last minute and taking them with you, along with my heart. Yes, I know, we are not gone yet. I will see you tomorrow. But I am sad.

Even the Labradors look sad. The cats…well you know…

I am sorry that I cried – but as I said, you would have been disappointed if I was not upset. After all I am the mum that sobs her way through the scene in Mamma Mia when Meryl Streep sings “Looking through my fingers” to Amanda Seyfried! Too late for me to change now!

I know every mum goes through this. We bring our children up to be independent. We hope they will be brave and strike out into the world, carving out their own futures with the wisdom and humour that we hope we have shared with them throughout their childhood. But I am so sad. Proud, but sad.

There are of course some things I will not miss! But so much that I will.

I know that you have had some crap in your life, we all do, but you are learning how to put it behind you more and more. The last few months you have found your feet and I have loved watching you learning new things, stepping up to your new responsibilities and embracing your future, both with leaving home and at work.

So what do I need to say to you now, now that you are out the door? I think Pooh might say it best

Just make sure you take care of yourself, keep well.

Today I have been remembering. When you were very small but able to wrap us around your little finger, the early days after your Dad left when it was so hard but we grew together, sitting on the sofa binging on episodes of Charmed and Friends. Our shared sense of the ridiculous and other people’s dress sense. The day I married Nigel when he made a promise to you as well. Remember how much your stepfather loves you too.

You are so excited. Giddy was the word you used! A new woman with her own utilities, her own little house that you will make into a home. A particularly well equipped home full of Pampered Chef kitchen stuff and one of our sofas! And who knew just how much stuff you and Kieran had crammed into one bedroom?!! I am looking forward to coming to see you when it is all sorted out. And I will bring your laundry!

This is not the first time you have left me. The last time was wrong, I knew it, you knew it. But it was something you had to do. This time it is right, and it is time. Time for you to spread your wings and fly. Last time I wrote you a very long, very tear stained letter. This time I am going public. Look world – look at my amazing girl. She is coming to get you and she is going to be FABULOUS!

I make no apologies for sharing this song with you and my readers again. Nigel and I will always be here for you, no matter what, no matter when. Just call.

All my love, see you tomorrow!

Mum

Nickel Creek – When you come back down

You got to leave me now, you got to go alone
You got to chase a dream, one that’s all your own
Before it slips away
When you’re flyin’ high, take my heart along
I’ll be the harmony to every lonely song
That you learn to play

When you’re soarin’ through the air
I’ll be your solid ground
Take every chance you dare
I’ll still be there
When you come back down
When you come back down

I’ll keep lookin’ up, waitin’ your return
My greatest fear will be that you will crash and burn
And I won’t feel your fire
I’ll be the other hand that always holds the line
Connectin’ in between your sweet heart and mine
I’m strung out on that wire

And I’ll be on the other end, to hear you when you call
Angel, you were born to fly, and if you get too high
I’ll catch you when you fall
I’ll catch you when you fall

Your memory’s the sunshine every new day brings
I know the sky is calling
Angel, let me help you with your wings

When you’re soarin’ through the air
I’ll be your solid ground
Take every chance you dare

I’ll still be there
When you come back down
Take every chance you dare,
I’ll still be there
When you come back down
When you come back down

Stepping out…

 

Well we are still in Bishops Stortford. The legal wheels are churning for our move, but oh so slowly and communication has not been all it should be. When we started this process, we were wildly optimistic that we would be gone by the end of April – now it’s starting to look like the end of June! Frustration, rage, depression…lots of negativity that has impacted on our health and mood.

We had an amazing week in Greece for Easter. We slept for hours, walked miles, spent time with friends and ate loads of good food. We didn’t think too much about the process, suspended reality for 7 days, came back positive, only to crash into another wall after 24 hours back in blighty.

I think we both feel as though our new life cannot begin until we get to Morecambe. But I have realised that that is tosh. So yesterday, I made a plan.

I have always been guilty of over-thinking. Whenever I have a situation to deal with my mind goes into over drive as I imagine every possible scenario, several times. I live out each imagined outcome repeatedly, creating disaster movies in my head – usually when I should be sleeping! I have decided that this needs to stop, things will resolve themselves and we will be heading up the M6 soon to start our new life.

Any major life change consists of millions of tiny steps, some good, some bad. As my regular readers know the last 3 years have all been leading me to this new adventure, and over the last few weeks there has been more lessons learned, more positive signs that we are heading in the right direction, albeit much slower than we had hoped. Let’s look at the good stuff!

My lovely Zoe has found a new home and will be moving out next week with Kieran, her boyfriend. She is excited and busy, thinking about her new life, learning new stuff, stepping up to a new role at work and I am loving seeing her taking giant steps to move her life forward. I am going to miss her, and there will be tears, but she is amazing and I am feeling proud. I am also feeling grateful that we will have their room available to stack boxes! See…every cloud…I am determined to find those silver linings.

As usual the Universe has been intervening, throwing good people in my path, old friends who have reminded me of things I needed to remember, new friends who are giving me strength, new contacts who can help me with my change of career, and some complete strangers who have managed to renew my faith in the world in general.

Part of my over-thinking consists of re-examining my past life. Perhaps an essential step to  leaving stuff I don’t need behind? I have always been hard on myself. Too self-critical. I have talked before about feeling as though I was on the outside of many situations, a gate-crasher turning up late to the party, feeling out of place, or as if I just missed the punch-line to a fantastic joke that everybody else knows. I have realised that this is just fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing, offending someone, not conforming. It has been life-limiting. I learned to bluff my way through situations, the Leo in me stepping up onto the stage and covering for me by acting braver than I felt. But leaving the scared doubtful Penny in the dressing room feeling inadequate.

Recently I have felt a new resolution bubbling up inside myself. A desire to be brave, to put myself at the front of things, to be a little selfish, to find something for myself. This newfound courage has brought immense rewards already. I have found myself stepping out with a new-found confidence which has resulted in new friends, more business, and a determination to change that part of me that has held me back all my life.

On Saturday I was talking to one old friend and one relatively new friend. Both of these lovely ladies gave me quite a lot to think about. We were talking about our move, and about my change of direction. For once I was not seeking approval for my choices, but sharing my excitement for what was to come. But I was referring to past events, and the old me. I talked about my last couple of years in that horrid stressful job, and what a horrible person I felt I had become. My old friend, Vicky, who I worked with for many years, gave me a completely different perspective. She told me that I was not horrible, that in fact I was still caring and supportive to people around me. Not the ogre that I believed I was. It was a bit of a revelation, a light shining on a situation that I felt ashamed of. A situation that I was still making excuses for in my head. And it made me think that perhaps I should be more forgiving of myself for past mistakes, or past situations that have been a negative influence on my life for years.

Then my new friend Katie, who I met through a networking group several months ago, remarked on the changes she has seen in me since she met me. She told me that she has seen more confidence and that I am less apologetic. That statement made me realise that I have spent my life apologising! For everything. Accepting blame, even when it was not mine to take. I don’t want to do that anymore.

My new-found braveness has found me stepping out without my wigs. I decided that I did not want to be bothered with my wigs while we were in Greece. Even though we did not expect it to be that warm, I did not want to take them with me. (Maybe it was laziness rather than bravery!)

Anyway, I thought that if I was going to be brave / lazy I had better own it. So, I went to the hairdresser, had my hair cut really, really short and coloured it bright red! I owned it! And amazingly, no-one reeled back in horror at my bald head. No-one shielded their eyes from the light reflecting off my skull! After a few days, I even forgot that I was not covering my head. It was very liberating. And since I got back, despite the old fears re-surfacing, I have been brave and gone out wigless. It even earned me a round of applause at a networking meeting. I still cringe if I catch sight of myself in a mirror, but I am persevering. I am tempted to buy another wig in the bright red colour, that would really be making a statement!

All this is about me being true to myself. Being authentic. And I have realised how important this is to me and for me. In the past, I would be so pathetically grateful to make a new friend or find a new recruit for my business that I would put up with being treated poorly, or taken advantage of. This has brought some very toxic people into my life. I always look for the good in people, and that is not going to change, but I think I am now wise enough to be able to walk away from people who are not genuine and honest.

A quote from one of my favourite speakers

Anyway, there you go. Another step down the path, another step closer to that drive up the M6. I have planned the next couple of weeks, filling them with tasks that will prepare for our move and get me ready to launch into my new life as soon as we get there. Unpacking boxes in my brain, but packing boxes in my house. Necessary preparations!

Happy Friday!