on messages for my Granddaughter

Today is your very first birthday, the anniversary of the magical day we met for the very first time.  In the year since we have got to know you, and are delighting in watching you grow from a tiny baby into a clever, bright and beautiful toddler. It seems that already you know exactly what you want and you are not afraid to reach for it.  Good.  The time we spend together is happy and brings back the memories of your Daddy as a baby as I remember the love and fun a baby brings.

As the family gathers to celebrate there will be gifts and cards, wrapping paper to shred and cake to be eaten.  We will come together to be happy you are here and to congratulate your Mummy and Daddy for getting it all so right.  There is a present I would like to share with you, not something I can gift wrap so I have put it here.  I want to share with  you the things that I know, things I believe will be important for you to know, if not today, as you grow up and go through your life.   I hope you always know the following

1.  Know you are loved.

2.  Know that you can be whoever you want to be.  Believe in yourself and know you have to put the effort in, you can do it.

3.  Know to make the right friends.  Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, who challenge you in the right way and who will watch your back, always.

4.  Know to avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable.

5.  Know you are in charge of your body, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you get to chose what happens to you, no one else.

6.  Know that your Mum and Dad have your best interests at heart, always.  Know this especially in your teenage years, and remember when they tell you NO they are telling you they love you.  Tough but true.

7.  Know that you can do anything you want to if you want to do it enough.  There really is no such word as can’t.  Make plans, work hard, follow your dreams.

8.  Know to hang loose some of the time.  The best adventures happen with the least planning.  Learn to trust your instincts and to listen to your heart.

9.  Know your family history.  There are a long line of strong women in your past, all of whom are rooting for you, even those you never got to meet.  They faced tough times and survived.  So will you.  Know the men in your family who you were not able to know.  Gone before you arrived, they would have loved and protected you, they would be proud of you and your Mum and Dad and as with the women in your past, a part of them will always be a part of you.

10.  Know that learning is power and it will be up to you to find out about the world and work hard to learn about what is important to you.

11. Know how to find the fun, how to laugh at the moon and dance in the street. Be sassy, be confident and be happy.

12.  Know you are loved.

Happy Birthday darling girl, loved more than you would ever guess.  A funny little girl who understands her world.   We are blessed to have you.

on harnessing the wind

this morning I took my breakfast outside to eat in the early morning sunshine.  Within a minute I was back in the kitchen.  The unseen element of this sunny morning was the strong and gusty wind blowing across from the hills, making sitting outside very uncomfortable.

Once I had eaten my next thought was what can I wash?  It would be such a shame to waste the wind. Minutes later the beds are stripped and in the machine, and soon are pegged out on the line, blowing madly in the air.  I have had to return twice to adjust the pegs, it really is windy, and now a couple of hours later all is dry and smelling that magical smell you can only get from the open air.

Washing on the line was an everyday feature of my growing up years.  Everything was pegged out and then brought back in to air on the rack, a pulley in the kitchen.  Mum would stand and iron in front of the rack and place the freshly laundered clothes in piles for returning to wardrobes and drawers.

I guess in the days before tumble dryers or radiators, the line was the only hope for freshly dried laundry, and I do feel a connection to all the other Mums who have spent so many hours bringing clothes in and out of the house.  In my first house my neighbours would knock on the door to let me know the rain had started, and I would scurry outside to bring it in quickly.

So, once again us humans are using our environment to help us manage our lives.  When I go the sea in Wales or alongside the estuary of my home town, I am struck by the majestic sight of the white windmills standing proud in the sea, providing electricity for hundreds of people.  I enjoy watching the small crafts, sails up making headway across the water and I love watching the trees bending and waving while standing tall and still.

Walking with the wind at our back, although playing havoc with the hair, gives you the push to walk a little faster, and walking against the wind makes the journey more difficult.  It is strange to me that this invisible force of nature is capable of so much.

It is so interesting that something we cannot see, and struggle to measure, can be so powerful.  It makes me think about what other invisible forces can affect our lives.  Things like hope and love and imagination, all invisible and yet essential.  Many feelings and emotions are not on show to the world and many of us keep them buried deep inside, and yet like the wind they will surface and effect us from time to time.

So, next time the wind is blowing and the clouds are racing across a blue sky, take a moment to pay tribute to the invisible powers all around us and to focus on positive energy within us all.

on life’s lessons learned

I was born in the late 1950’s a time of rock and roll, of working class heroes who could never of imagined John Lennon, a time of hope after war, of new and exciting foods back in the cupboard.  I had my childhood in the 1960’s with my Sindy doll and my Lady Penelope car, an annoying little sister who pinched my stuff and cried to Mum.  All standard stuff.  The 1970’s were teenage years, no alcohol, it wouldn’t have been allowed but music and youth clubs and cadets and friendship.  The 1980’s and 1990’s passed in a blur of children, nappies, school books, friendships and red wine.  The new century, yes I have lived in two centuries, saw me in a new life, a new town and a growing family.  That was then, today is now.

I have lived through almost six decades, and do you know I have learned stuff along the way.  I know more now than I have ever done.  I have experienced a lot of life, been a Daughter, a Mother, and a Wife (twice), I have buried people I love and I have bathed beautiful babies and watched them grow.  I have worked and played hard.  All of this has given me experience, I know stuff.  Lots of stuff.

So why now have I suddenly become invisible?  I have been categorised and dismissed,  Believe me, until you have sat in a doctors office being told ‘well you are getting old’ you have no idea!!  Getting old!!  I am not even sixty, it was five minutes ago when I was dancing in the street.  When I look in the mirror I still see me, I see sometimes see a tireder version of me, some days I even see my Mum, but it is still me, I am still here.  I still know stuff.

I know that babies don’t cry forever, that one day the nights sleep you have dreamt of will happen and you will wake with a terror that quickly turns to a smile.

I know that money isn’t everything but life is really tough without any.

I know how to feed and clothe four children without them noticing there is no cash.

I know how to make memories that last a lifetime.

I know the value of friendship.

I know that life is a two way street.

I know that love is a gift and once you find it, it must be cherished and cared for, never ignored or taken for granted.

I understand how the world of work, works.

I know the only person you can truly trust is yourself.

I know that to have dreams come true, you first have to dare to dream, and how sometimes you have to take a chance.  No, I know that often you have to take a chance.

I know that change is growth.

I know how to take care of people,

I know how to listen to older people’s stories and understand their world as it was.

I know how to hear young people trying to work out their place in the the world and I can encourage both to tell me more.

I understand the value of a kind word, a smile and acceptance of a situation

I know when to challenge and when to sit back, (not often I do that mind you)

I know that if you save things for best, they often never get used.

I know that it is possible to be the one person, at that one moment, who can change someone’s life for the better

How amazing is it that I know all this stuff?  It is not stuff I learned in school, or I have written essays about, although I have done a fair share of that sort of learning over the years, it is stuff I know because I have lived it.  I made the mistakes that taught me everything.  I took the chances that sometimes ended disastrously and sometimes wonderful things happened.  I learned every step of the way.  I am still learning.  I learned this week that people do judge a book by the cover, I already knew that, but I wasn’t ever the book before.  If I can do all this in under six decades imagine how amazing it will be after another couple?

But, to a doctor, who I reckon has only lived through about four decades, and met me for less than 5 minutes I am an old person.  I need to understand that my body is old.  The hell I do.  My body is the same age as me, and I am have a lot of living still to do.  You see, this invisible women is going to be dancing in the street, and the world had better deal with it.