making memories

When my baby girl started to like live music we did everything we could to encourage her.  Driving to theatres, clapping and singing along, then later sitting outside venues waiting for her to come out, always with friends, always excited and so alive.  Full of tales of the bands, the people she had met and of the music, it has always been the music with our girl.

These precious times are long gone, she has lived in other countries, beating her own path to the life she loves, and more recently making her home in a city close to all our hearts.  To say I am proud of her is only a part of it.  I am proud of how she lives her life, how she is brave, and beautiful, funny and compassionate.  I love that we are still so connected despite it being years since we shared a home.

Today she rang to say she had managed to get a ticket to a concert tonight, the singer we both love, his songs cheer and bring back many happy times.  I am happy for her.  Then tonight I am on the beach, a place I love, the sun is sinking into the sea and she rings.  She is there, in a theatre so like the one I took her many times as a child, she is recounting memories and the happiness is literally contagious.  She misses me, we should both be there.  There are Mum’s with little girls and Mum’s with grown up girls, she is on her own and loving it.  Sharing with me with text messages and yes I wish I was with her, but I am more that happy to have his music on as I am typing this and knowing that she is there, living her best life.   As a Mum, this is all I have ever wanted.  For her to know who she is, and to choose her life.

Job done.

on being a ship, not in a harbour


When I wrote this piece I was in a state of flux, and now some four maybe five years later I can only gasp at how much we were yet to know.

It seems that when you leave the harbour the waves do get higher, the winds can be angry or still, and without a map or a chart to find your way, well you just don’t know what is coming.  If only I had known then what I know now.

We ploughed on through our adventure and have found ourselves in a safe haven of hope and lovely things.  We have friends that mean the world, who we would never have met had we not moved with the tide.  I have spent years in an amazing job, with wonderful colleagues and amazing young people, and everywhere we look the sun is shining today.

The best bit?  Well we haven’t lost all the good things we had.  We still have our friends, we talk to people we love every day, we are planning a retirement and will hopefully spend it in the beautiful town that has become home.  Unless those worldly winds decide it is time to move again, and if that happens we will set sail again, knowing that the journey is possible, and carrying the memories made with us every day.


for as long as I can remember I have had a quote on a wall where I have lived.  Several different versions, from the first one I purchased from a religious book shop in Liverpool as a student, to the present bought in a gift shop on the North Antrim coast several years ago.

You see I always understood that being safe wasn’t the same thing as living well.  Despite, or perhaps because of, Mum’s determination I would never do anything dangerous and uncontrolled, I longed for adventure.  I recall many arguments as I tried to explain to Mum, if she didn’t let me get lost, I should never find my way anywhere.

So, today I am thinking of the recent few months.  The upheaval of packing up a home, the chaos of belongings I had no idea we owned and the decisions of what to do with them.  The people left behind, the people still to meet.  It seems that the worldly winds are lessening, the storm is passing, but by no means over yet.  I awoke this morning wondering where I was.  I remembered, and instead of being happy in this, my happy place, for a brief moment I felt dissatisfied, this was not how it was meant to be.

The sun is shining here, to be fair it often is, washing has dried on the line, yet more possessions have been dealt with, and plans for the coming weekend are forming in my mind.  It seems to me that I need to pay attention to my own favourite quote.

‘a ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for’

I was comfortable in my harbour, and having been forced to set sail amid a storm, it is going to take time to find my feet again.  We are, I believe keeping an even keel, and the pitch and toss of the sea below us is becoming less unsettling daily.  Land is not yet in sight, but we are safe and moving forwards.




the truth about motherhood

it is a universal truth than nobody ever tells anyone what it is really like to be a Mother.  You learn, by osmosis, by watching firstly your Mother and later other Mothers come into view.  You assume you understand it.  A year of so of broken nights will be followed by fun making things with toddlers and supporting them until they go off to university and a life of their own.  What could be easier?

The reality is so different.  What no one ever talks about is the all consuming fear you get from loving that little person so much. From the first night they sleep without waking, to waiting for them to come home from partying Mums live life in fear.  There is the fear that something will befall our precious babies, to the fear that we are not good enough parents.

I doubt there is a woman in the world who thinks she got being a Mum right.  Despite the evidence of mature functioning adults, living useful lives, she will always remember the times it went wrong.

It is time to believe in us, the Mums who did their best, that were good enough Mums and understand that our children love us, the best bits and the not so good.  Mums make the world go around, we need to be proud.

not losses but gains

we all have rubbish times, we all have days, maybe weeks when the world seems against us and the future looks bleak.  Sometimes bad things happen and we have to learn to deal with them.  I know about these times.  These times have happened throughout my life, just as they have for everyone else.  We lose people we love, we worry about illness, we struggle for money.  All are familiar and normal part of being a human.  I think the clever trick is to not allow these dark times to overwhelm us.  To look for the light in the dark, even if it feels very far away.  That way we remember that day follows night and we can survive

Despite having lots of experience of dark times, I have found the last three years a challenge.  Those worldly winds took their time in throwing us about.  The worry of illness, coping with change, well it has been quite a time.  There may well be more to come.  However in this years Advent, which will start on 1st December, I am going to look at the gains and not the losses.

You see amid all the sad, difficult, life changing events of recent years, we have had our share of light.  It has come in the form of people and places, actions and kindnesses, that had we not been thrown into chaos, well we would have missed them.

We have found our happy.  We have stuck together and laughed, cried and sometimes danced our way through, four house moves, two hospital stays, and through the darkness we not only saw the light we claimed it for our own.

Happy has been a long time coming, and we know more that most that it might not stay, but here right now I will be celebrating the light in the dark, that led us to find our happy.

on waiting for the right time

it seems to me that there never really is a right time for anything.  A bit like the ship that hovers near the dock but never quite comes in to shore, or the dreams for tomorrow that disappear with the new day, for tomorrow never comes.

The right time has to be right now, always.  We don’t have any other option.  What actually was I waiting for all those years, I will be a writer when I have time, I will learn to cook, to knit, to sew, one day, one day.  Suddenly you relalise that the day is here already, the time is waiting you just need to decided how to fill it.

I am not talking about the big stuff here, of course it takes time to get a degree, to grow a family, to loose the weight, gain the information or whatever it is you need to do.  It seems to me that none of this happens with a beginning.  Without actually doing something, about not waiting until the time is right but making the right time now.

I used to think about the future, when I had a houseful of babies, then toddlers and eventually teenagers.  The spacing of my family meant I had children for twenty eight years, before they were all adults, and even then they needed me.  It came as shock to me that now is the time I was thinking of through all those years.  Now is the time for me to choose what to do based on my needs, not theirs.  It isn’t easy.  For example, I love to write, I have several ideas for books developing in my head, some have even made it to screen and paper, but nothing is ever finished.  I didn’t have time.  That is not true, I had time I just didn’t do it.

So now is the time, I need to do it.



walking and listening

The loudest sounds happen in the quietest places.  Mostly I hear my heartbeat, regularly thumping with a rhythm of its own.  It echoes in my ears as I climb the hill.  It is beautiful here, always.  My thoughts are loud in my mind, as usual I am comfortable with them rattling around my brain.  It is different thinking when walking, I move to a meditative state along these familiar roads, trees and views.  They give me the space to hear myself.  I mustn’t get too insular though, I don’t want to miss the crash of the waves as I reach the top of the hill.  I hope there is no one around, for this is my favourite place to be, and I would rather not share it.  Down at the shore I am letting the noise of the waves wash through my head, listening to the gulls calling,  the clouds are running by and the wind is whipping up.  There is a peace in this place, for here I can hear my ancestors, also on this beach, perhaps also thinking thoughts.  For nothing is new, all my troubles have  been dealt with by those gone before.  There is a peace to that, and to the silence of the noise of the sea.

it is not too late

it’s a funny thing being my age now, I feel much as I have always done, but deep down I know that things are changing.  My bones ache in a way they never did, my eyesight is being compromised and I am sure my hearing isn’t great, but inside I am still me.

I heard someone say that a recent celebrity, who had died aged 79 had had a ‘good innings’, which may well be true, but I am just fifteen years behind him, and I have much I still want to do.  I am struck by the thought that maybe it is all a bit late, that perhaps I am running out of time.

This time next year I will have finished working, hopefully forever, and will have free time to spend doing things I really want to.  I feel it is important to make sure that this time, and the months leading up to it are used well, that I make the most of this life I am living.  There are so many things I would like to do.

When I think back to my teenage years, my fondest memories are those spent in and on the water.  Swimming, canoeing, rowing having fun I would like to do more of this.  So it is on my list.  Similarly there are places I have yet to see, and places I want to return too and spend more time in.  There is music I would like to hear played live and people I want to connect with.   All of this and more is going onto my own ‘it’s not too late’ list.

Alongside the planning and the thinking about the future, I am not forgetting the Now.  I hope to make each day count, by doing something positive, something helpful, and something that makes me laugh. Little things that make for big changes, so when I am counting my blessings I am changing my thinking, and by understanding that my actions are mine to make and my ‘good innings’ is a work in progress, I can steer myself where I want to go.

You see, it really isn’t too late and I can do things I want to do, I hope to follow my Nina who managed some ten decades on this planet, that would be fun, but I guess it isn’t really how much time we have, it is how we use it, and that is up to me.

Advent Day 17 – Sliding Doors

If you could have seen our house at Christmas back in my teen years,  Mum had very fixed ideas of what was tasteful and loved to decorate for the season.  We had a six foot tall artificial white tree complete with fairy on top and lots of lights.  Never tinsel, tinsel was frowned on in our house, as were paper chains.  Instead we had shiny metal coloured lanterns that folded out and hung from drawing pins on our ceiling.

One year she decided to change them and instead set to to make her own.  I am not sure where she got the large branches of a tree from, but I remember her spray painting them and adding glitter.  These were then hung in the corners of our living room ceiling where she added big baubles hanging from the branch.  To be fair they were unusual and beautiful.  Things went slightly awry at the Christmas dinner table when Dad opened a bottle of fizz at just the right angle to send the cork straight through the glass baubles, covering the floor and some of the table with shards of bright coloured glass.  Oh dear, I don’t think we drank the fizz, and the lunch went cold as we cleaned up the mess.

Our family traditions continued in our own adult homes, where we made new ones with our families.  My very first Christmas as a newly wed in our house, well Mum and Dad came to dinner.  I was nervous, but think I managed to cook up a decent roast.  The next year we were without Mum, but still made a table of six or seven, then the next year it was just two and our toddler son.  When the grown ups die, that makes you the grown up and in my mid twenties I don’t think I was ready for that.  Still we made the best of it.  I will never forget setting that table, and remembering the people no longer with us.

This Christmas we will be home alone, and yet with technology we will be able to watch our Granddaughter open her gifts, and our family will be together apart.

Advent Day 16 – Sliding Doors

we have had many deliveries to our door in the past few days.  Unable to see our lovely family in ‘real life’ this Christmas we have been busily posting gifts to each other.  Some have been bought and wrapped in the usual way, then re-wrapped and taken to the Post Office, others are coming via a well known online retailer.

There is the problem.  Our family like surprises, we enjoy not knowing what we are getting, and the fun of opening packages on Christmas morning. As  the packages are building up and to keep the surprise we have decided to gift wrap the boxes, without opening them, so that on the big day all will be revealed.  Now this is all well and good, and would work perfectly, except that we have no clue which package is which, and indeed which contain non present items.  What a lark. I spent a good half hour yesterday determining which one of six newly delivered boxes was the correct one to open.  All was well, we found the right one.

I would never have thought that this Christmas would be one to look forward to, but seeing all the boxes  under the tree, well it is quite exciting.  It made me think about all the other things we are given that we don’t expect or even at times pay heed to.  Maybe 2020 is the year that I realise exactly what is important, and also that which is not.


Advent Day 15 – Sliding Doors

today is a working at home day, again.  With schools closed until the new term, we are once again phoning, messaging and emailing all day long.  It is fine, we are lucky to have a job that transfers to home working, and an employer willing to support us with the right technology to do so.  However a down side of home working is that when things are getting on top of you, you can feel at bit closed in.  With no colleagues close by to have a brew and talk things through, sometimes your head can feel like exploding.

This is when I am doubly lucky.  For just fifteen minutes walk from my home office is the coast, the beach and the waves.  Today a lunchtime yomp down through town and the park, and over the bridge to the sea was exactly what was needed.  I decided to rest a while, and found a very special seat.  Our lovely friend lost her fight with this awful virus back in the Spring, and the bench installed by her family is a perfect place to rest a while.  As ever I touch her name on the silver plaque and say hello.  Then I, as she did many times before, I look across the sea.

The sky was very blue today, with fluffy white clouds, the winter sun surprisingly warm on my back.  I look across the water at the majestic windmills, ever turning, doing a synchronised dance above the waves.  The size and power diminished by distance, they stand tall and proud.  Renewable energy.  How fitting I thought, for this view, this sea, this bench and memories of my friend, well they do exactly the same thing.  They renew my energy.

I have always loved the sea, and as I head back home to work once more, I am reminded of how this water, these waves, this beach, well they have always been here.  Back over a hundred years ago when my Nina was born in sight of this same sea, it was all there, the waves predictably washing the sand twice a day.  I like to think of that, of her perhaps paddling, feeling the sand between her toes, and then I think of my Granddaughter, and how in time her children or Grandchild may also paddle in this sea.

Life goes on, and although we like to think we have all the answers, I expect the wisdom of the waves is that nothing is new, the world keeps turning.

Back home, windswept and breathless from climbing the hill, I am nonetheless feeling more able to get on with life. My energy is renewed, and I am counting my blessings.