on another decade

yesterday on my birthday my age changed to one with a 0 at the end. The end of one decade and the beginnings of another.  In truth I am just one day older than the day before, but numbers matter.  They matter as they mark the passing of years and when we enter a new decade it perhaps matters more.

I remember other 0 birthdays, the first one I was very excited to be in ‘double figures’. 20 was spent in a alcoholic haze and by the time 30 came along I was busy with babies and no time to think about birthdays.  40 arrived and with it a plea from my little boys who decided to hold a ‘surprise’ party for Mum.  They had no money of their own, so they asked me to buy the food and help them decorate the room.  It was still a surprise though, it had to be, they told me it was.

50 was probably the most difficult.  A party, planned on a bus in Southern Spain, when good times seemed all around, was very different once January drew to a close.  The person I thought would be by my side was choosing another path, we were having a tricky time, when the future was very much in doubt.  The party went ahead, friends and family gathered and a good time was had by all.  I on the other hand was happy on the outside and sad on the inside.  I wish I had known that day how things were going to be.  In truth this decade was the turning point.  It was in these years I made choices based on the life I wanted to live, rather than accept the one I had fallen into.  It was the decade that saw all my children grown to adulthood and it was the decade I became a Nana.

So now at 60 it is fair to say that I am in better shape than for at least twenty years. Emotionally, physically well and healthier than almost ever before. I have a real sense of ‘self’.  It is as if I had to do the decades before, to arrive here, now, with peace and friendship and love all around.  A party was held, at the end of a week of celebration.  My, now adult, children organised everything.  From a surprise mini break and concert tickets midweek, to a fabulous get together in our local pub for family and friends on the day itself, I am truly blessed.

I looked around the room at the party guests and realised that these people, sitting, laughing, chatting and catching up, these are my tribe. Some I have known forever, others from more recent times. Together the people in that room have supported me, propped me up during bad times, they have laughed with me through the fun times. Each and every one of them has helped me to be the me I am right now.

Earlier last week I was told, for about the tenth time, that I don’t look 60 years old.  Well, I said, think again, for this is exactly what 60 looks like!  I have no idea what this decade will bring, surely that is part of the fun, but I have no intention of becoming old.  I have more life in me now that in most of the previous decades.

So, I say, bring it on.  This seventh decade begins in style, with love and friendship, with laughter and kindness.  The world may well be in a tricky place just now, but I am grateful for the life I am able to live and very thankful for my tribe.  I love them all dearly.

on dealing with this ‘new world order’

January 2017 and the last piece of the nightmare jigsaw that began back in summer 2016, has fallen into place.  Each time I have thought, ‘no, that won’t actually happen, surely not’ and yet each and every time happen it does.

So, did I go marching with the women yesterday?  I did not.  In my life I have been on more marches than most people, I have shouted ‘out! out! out!’ sang songs, with the miners, the ambulance service, the NHS, Greenpeace, Stop the War, and much more and each time I have relished in the shared community of protest.  I understand this stuff.

I no longer believe it means a thing.  Nothing, at all, save from giving those marching validation and a good feeling.  Then everyone goes home, back to work, to kids, to life and nothing changes.  That is how it seems to me.  My social media feed has been full of photos, hundreds and thousands of people on the streets, people taking pride in witty banners, in coming together, and I am thinking, is this all part of the plan?  It feels very safe, very middle class, very organised, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

I have no doubt many people walked away from the marches yesterday feeling good, they had their say, they stood up.  But did they?  Why has it taken a misogynistic millionaire to galvanise people.  Has there not been enough to be angry about?  Why are people more angry with comments against women than they are about sexually exploited children?.  Why has no one taken to the streets to protest about the missing lone children, who have fled from war and no one knows where they are now?  Why, why, why, is this march all over the media.  The TV news, the internet, radio news, all documenting the mass marching across the Western World.  The same media that has ignored dozens of protests when they don’t fit the narrative.  It is easy to march against one man, however, vile as he maybe, much, much worse is being done to the world than he will ever achieve.  So, why is this such news?  I am cynical, I don’t believe for a minute that the people with power care a jot who is in charge.  This is smoke and mirrors on a grand scale.

So, this time I am not going to march,  I am not going to give my precious time to realise once again that nothing changes.  Instead I am going to get on with looking for the good in the world, I shall spend my time with people who do, rather than talk about doing. Those that reach out and help, those who say what needs saying and those who are struggling. I will support and cheer on everyone who takes action that effects change.  I will encourage everyone I know to be kind to each other, I feel we are going to need a lot of that just now.

Meeting oppression with the power of love, looking the haters in the eye and just keep on keeping on.  Do you know if enough of us did this, we could change the world.

on a friends birthday

today one of my best friends in the whole world has her birthday.It isn’t a ‘significant’ birthday, you know the ones that end in a zero and mark the passing of a decade, no, this is an ordinary, middle of the road birthday, but one I am happy to celebrate with her.

This friend is my go to person, the one who my daughter calls her second Mum, the one who has laughed with me more than almost anyone, and the one that has helped me cry through trouble many times.

Without her my daughter would never have learned the fun of roller coasters, I would have struggled often to move house and furniture on my own.  Without her I would never have understood just how important football is, and I would have missed some magic moments.

Always kind, she has no clue just how special she is.  Her caring for her family, her friends and for those she doesn’t know but offers a home is the one thing that sets her apart.  She is one of life’s good people.

I have this quotation somewhere, it used to be on my fridge, but I think it sums us up.

‘A friend, as it were, is a second self’

Happy birthday my lovely friend, I hope we have many, many more years ahead of us, to walk and talk, to laugh and hold on through those tough times and most of all to watch our gorgeous girls grow even more into beautiful women.


the sense of those we love

yesterday we went to visit relatives, a bit of New Year cheer and as always when we see those we don’t see often, memories were resurrected and remembered, people now gone were spoken about and those we love felt a little closer to us.

On the way home we are chatting about our day and hubby asked if one of the people we visited had changed her appearance, she was not as he remembered her being. Despite having been with her not an hour or so earlier I had no clue what he meant.  To me she has never changed.  Not since I was a child and she a pal of my Mum and Dad, she has always looked the same.

It dawned on me that those we love and have loved all our lives we seldom see.  What I mean is that the image of them is so imprinted in our brains that we no longer need to see their physical presence today. So, when I sit with my family I am content with my sense of them, I tune into the person I know to be them and take little notice of how they actually look.

Holding my Aunties hand we chat of the past, she has had great sadness recently and I wanted to be a comfort to her, wanted her to know I cared.  I have realised that she knew this, because she was also seeing her sense of me.  I am sure there were times when she looks at me and sees the child I once was, then the young Mum who looked to her and her husband to help, having lost my own Mum and Dad.  Maybe we all do this, the sense of someone, this knowing who people are from the inside as well as the outside.

As we talked on the way home it became clear to me that this is the essence of love, the understanding and acceptance of someone exactly as they are to you, with no other thoughts necessary.

Memory is a super power, for within our minds we can conjure up the best of times, a sense of continuity, a sense of self, and within that the sense of those we love, never changing, always there.