Typically Topical

I tend to find the content of my blog posts seems to mirror whatever is going on in my life at any given time – whatever is life-topical at the time, inevitably becomes blog-typical.

When I first started blogging over eight years ago I was 50 years old, living in a one-bedroom first floor flat in London with no garden or any outside space at all, and my blog reflected that reality. I went out a lot, just to be outside, and typically took pictures of big city life, of parks and public spaces, of tube trains and buses and buildings and inevitably people – nameless and generally faceless strangers, commuters and tourists and locals and incomers.

I took pictures of flowers in other people’s postage-stamp front gardens, taken from the outside looking in. I took pictures of trips we went on, visits to Brighton and to Scotland, including trains shots and track shots and station shots and landscapes seen through train windows.

And then in 2019 we sold up and moved back to Inverness, buying a detached house with a garden of our own front and back, and I slowly settled into making our new house a home. Sadly a few months later the Covid pandemic hit and for the next while – the longest while, as it turned out – everybody’s world necessarily shrank to the size of their own back yard. But at least now we had one to call our own.

No visitors allowed, no travel or trips allowed anywhere, no doing anything at all that wasn’t strictly necessary. It set the pace for a slow life, a small life, but a potentially safe life. Inevitably my blog posts shrank accordingly, mirroring a life that was slower, smaller, and supposedly safer. Even when I caught Covid myself in early January 2021, long before we were all vaccinated as a population, my blog followed my progress along the way.

So here I am in 2022, looking my 59th birthday in the eye with an increasingly dodgy arthritic hip and the last lingering remnants of Long Covid, wondering what comes next for my blog? And I know that that depends one hundred percent on on what comes next for my life as I approach my 60th year on this planet? Typically still lots of garden pics, but hopefully something more too – maybe a few trip pics, a few tourist pics, a few more city-scapes and lots more landscapes again?

Whatever it is, you can be sure my blog will continue to reflect my life as it happens, typically topical as ever… 🙂

Weekly Prompts: Mirror

A Vagina or a Voice

‘Let’s face it, it’s like, you’ve either got a vagina or a voice, you don’t seem to have both, do you?’

Sharon Moore

Comment from a BBC report on women’s health in relation to female medical conditions, discussing how many women still feel dismissed or not taken seriously by health professionals…

One Liner Wednesday

Secretly Missing the Solitude

When the Covid pandemic first began and we went into our first national lock-down, like many others I really resented being required to stay at home indefinitely. For the first while I resisted a bit emotionally while nevertheless obediently remaining physically within the confines of my own home and garden as dictated by law.

But then I rather quickly got used to the peaceful patterns of enforced solitude, and soon found it to be a strangely comforting release from the usual societal requirement to be out there mixing with people all the time. Suddenly I had a legitimate reason for being a naturally unsociable introvert, and in so many ways it felt shamefully liberating.

Especially after I caught Covid in January of 2021 during our second period of lock-down, when staying at home helped me convalesce uninterrupted in much-needed peace and quiet. Sadly I developed Long Covid which 18 months on is a lot better and improving all the time but occasionally it catches me out and the last dregs of debilitating symptoms dog me still.

So a good two years on from where we started we are now well beyond the height of the pandemic, vaccinated against the worst of it and no longer restricted by regulations. Life has slowly returned to the nearest to normal it can be, the outside world has opened its doors again and once more staying at home alone is no longer seen to be a socially acceptable life choice.

I do truly love the freedom of being able to see my family when I choose, but otherwise oh, how I desperately miss those long leisurely days of actively avoiding all unnecessary contact with others, just being able to enjoy being quietly alone at home alone without external judgement and without feeling defensive and guilty, as if I have to explain or apologise all the time.

I’m still finding it hard to think about going back to the full levels of mixing that will be expected and required post-pandemic. Too many places, too many people, too many potential social interactions for my liking. I find as I’m getting older I’ve seamlessly adapted to a different way of being that suits me far better than the full-blown ‘normal’ life we lived before.

Personally I miss much of the social simplicity the pandemic restrictions brought to my life. They gave me a socially-distanced space to breathe freely, a space to exist comfortably on my own limited-contact terms that I’m finding hard to give up on now we’re all geared up and on the move again…

Idle Time

Idle Time…

Choose to idle away many hours
Sitting out in my garden of flowers
It’s my own time to waste
Any guilt is erased
As I soak up each plant’s healing powers

I enjoy not just colour but scent
As I savour the time that is spent
In the fresh airy breeze
Doing just as I please
Sitting quietly, smiling, content…

Weekly Prompt: Waste

PS The image is a photograph of a page of a little book titled ‘Self-Care: How to live mindfully and look after yourself’ by Claire Chamberlain 🙂

Mixed Metaphors and Muddling Through

I’ve been having a bit of a post-menopausal crisis of identity lately in that I feel I’m no longer completely who I was, but find I’m not yet quite fully formed into who I will be, either. I’m lost in limbo, held hesitant in a strange transitional place, a liminal space on the threshold between yesterday’s me and tomorrow’s me, waiting for the way out to become clear so I can move forward with confidence once more.

It feels as if the worn fabric of my old life has been torn, leaving precariously frayed edges and a yawning gap of vulnerability and weakness that initially left me holding my breath for fear of causing further damage. My first thought was to try to mend the rupture immediately, stitch it up tight, put a patch over it to provide reinforcement, remain in denial of my long-lost youth. But then with the tension already released I started to wonder what bits and pieces might be hidden away deep down and sheer curiosity caused me to forego my fears and rummage about a bit beneath the surface.

Inside myself I found not only all those parts of me I ever was, but also multiple bulky boxes of Wishful-Thinkings and Maybe-One-Days, Roads-Not-Taken and Ideal-Imaginings, never unpacked and simply kept stored away for potential future use. And at 58 years old I realised that the contents of many of these unopened boxes were no longer dormant dreams to be taken out and aired at some point, but over the years had somehow become stagnant in stifled obsolescence. They were filled with myriad Things I Will Never Do and People I Will Never Be, some by choice and some by circumstance.

And I also realised that it was long past time to let many of these musty old boxes go. I need to lay them to rest peacefully and deliberately so the ghostly disappointments of so many discarded dreams do not haunt my identity into my future. Because thankfully I have found no real major regrets in there – it seems the things I wanted to do most in life I have actually done. I may not always have succeeded in all things I have attempted, but I have tried and sometimes failed or have changed my mind about them, and having had that experience is enough for me.

Life is always about prioritising, making choices between one thing and another, adapting and assimilating and becoming anew, time after time. In the past I may have dreamed that one day I would write a book, but I know now I never will because I simply don’t want it enough. In the same vein I will never have a proper career, because having a family first mattered more to me and I preferred to work around their needs. I have to accept that I never will grow up to be tall and slim, the lithe leggy athletic blonde of my youthful dreams because my genes have determined otherwise and I simple cannot be what I am not so why upset myself wishing for the physically impossible?

Better by far to make the most of what I have rather than yearn for an imagined ideal that I can never attain. I am a middle-aged post-menopausal grandmother with ongoing health problems and at times a heavy heart. Depression and anxiety have always played a huge part in my life to date and with the best will in the world they will not be going anywhere soon, so inevitably all of those weighed-down dusty boxes of hopes and dreams belonging to someone more emotionally robust who has not experienced a lifetime of mental health issues also need to be placed gently but firmly in the growing pile marked ‘Leave Behind’.

I feel like I have enough experiential emotional baggage to carry around with me without bulking it out with all these outdated optional extras whose statute of limitations has effectively long run out. I feel like in order to know myself into the future I first need to be sure who I am not, who I will never be, draw a clear line in the sand and step beyond all those potential dead ends that belong firmly in the past. I know I will find a way through this and feel whole once more, but right now I’m not quite there yet.

And I know in my heart of hearts that however lost and confused I may feel right now, as I start on my later-life journey towards becoming an old woman I’ll also be moving more freely towards becoming a new woman, too…

My Snazzy Walking Stick

My snazzy new walking stick with its blue wood handle and patterned metal height-adjustable shaft – I decided if I have to walk with a stick, I’ll have a fun one! 🙂

PS I also have a plain burgundy stick for when I feel the need to be more sombre… I might even start myself a small collection of different sticks to match my many different moods…

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Snazzy

April A-Z: Y is for Yoga

In the ideal world of wishful thinking I’m someone who’s good at yoga, someone who practices regularly and is strong and supple and good at stretching. I love the thought of having the clarity of mind that goes with yoga, the balanced chakras giving a healthy flow of energy surging from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes.

Sadly in the real world I’m stiff and stressed and however many times over my lifetime I’ve really tried to encourage myself to build up a regular habit and properly get into my yoga groove I really struggle to get anywhere meaningful so become despondent and sooner or later always end up giving up… sigh!   

Life events have conspired to pull me away from blogging over the last couple of months, and the idea of taking part in this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge seems like a good way to try to get back into the habit of reading and posting regularly. Originally I thought of just using any old random words to go with the particular letter of the day, but realistically without a clear theme to work towards I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my focus for a full month… So instead I’ve opted for a relatively simple, if slightly self-indulgent work-around: This year I’ll be posting 26 things about me, nothing too taxing to write about yet still fulfilling the brief!

April A-Z: X is for X-Ray

Long before there was the possibility of ultrasound scans of babies in the womb, pregnant women were sometimes given X-rays of their mid-section to see how the baby was lying – my mum had multiple X-rays during her difficult pregnancy with me in the early 1960s. I ended up being a transverse breech so I was delivered by emergency Caesarian Section in the middle of the night after mum went into labour nearly a month early. Although a breech birth is where the baby is born feet first, or sometimes bottom first, a transverse breech is where the baby is lying sideways across the uterus. (See, I told you I was indecisive – even in utero I was prevaricating as to which way to be born, up or down, and ended up being taken out a different exit!)

Fifty-eight years on and I’ve had another flurry of X-Rays more recently too as my arthritic hip has been giving me more and more mobility problems and my Orthopaedic Consultant wanted to see my slightly crumbly hip joint from several different angles – I even had an MRI scan a couple of weeks ago, which was a completely new experience for me. So hopefully I’ll find out at my next clinic appointment (in about a month’s time) what the long-term plans will be for fixing me up so I can move more easily again… fingers crossed… 🙂

Life events have conspired to pull me away from blogging over the last couple of months, and the idea of taking part in this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge seems like a good way to try to get back into the habit of reading and posting regularly. Originally I thought of just using any old random words to go with the particular letter of the day, but realistically without a clear theme to work towards I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my focus for a full month… So instead I’ve opted for a relatively simple, if slightly self-indulgent work-around: This year I’ll be posting 26 things about me, nothing too taxing to write about yet still fulfilling the brief!

April A-Z: W is for Walking Stick

Historically I’ve always loved walking everywhere but currently have an arthritic right hip so out of necessity have been using a proper heavy-duty walking stick for the last few months.

To begin with I was so self-conscious about using a stick at all, concerned that people would be looking at me and wondering if I was some kind of attention-seeking fraud pretending to be in need of a walking aid when at my age I really shouldn’t. But I soon realised that walking with a stick is a much better option than limping along in pain outdoors or hobbling around slowly indoors, and as I’ve got used to it I find I don’t really care what other people think any more. At least I can still walk, albeit on a much reduced scale, and keeping as mobile as possible is what matters most for now.

And anyway, with my walking stick as a visual cue to others I find it’s definitely so much easier to cross the road safely when drivers can see I’m not deliberately dawdling, it’s more that mechanically I’m just a lot slower than I used to be…  

Life events have conspired to pull me away from blogging over the last couple of months, and the idea of taking part in this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge seems like a good way to try to get back into the habit of reading and posting regularly. Originally I thought of just using any old random words to go with the particular letter of the day, but realistically without a clear theme to work towards I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my focus for a full month… So instead I’ve opted for a relatively simple, if slightly self-indulgent work-around: This year I’ll be posting 26 things about me, nothing too taxing to write about yet still fulfilling the brief!

April A-Z: M is for Menopause

Menopause has been a bit of a double-edged sword for me to date.

I’d struggled on for years with uterine fibroids giving me a bulky womb so now not to be bleeding copiously and continuously every month is absolutely the best, truly liberating, but I’ve found the lack of female hormones affects so much more than just my ovaries in various hidden behind-the-scenes ways I’d never previously given much thought to. And I must admit that feeling so flat hormonally is not so great either – to my surprise I miss the regular cyclical highs and lows of mood and energy that had been an integral part of my life for so long.

Regular systemic HRT is not a suitable solution for me, so along with my GP I’m currently exploring other options to help me deal with some of the harder-to-handle changes currently taking place in my body. Sometimes I do feel an overwhelming sense of freedom from fertility, but at other times I still mourn the final loss of fecundity, however natural a process it may be at my age.

Of course it’s probably a merging together of several niggly age-related health problems (including Long Covid) all coinciding with menopause to create a perfect storm of misery but right now it feels to me like I’ve lost my vitality in life, as if the last vestiges of youthful vigour have dried up along with my oestrogen. I’m sure I’ll develop a new, improved identity for this third stage of life soon enough and even though I know I’ll properly embrace it in time once everything settles down, for now I think I’m still grieving the loss of the whole vibrant woman I felt I was, and to be perfectly honest that feels quite sad… 

Life events have conspired to pull me away from blogging over the last couple of months, and the idea of taking part in this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge seems like a good way to try to get back into the habit of reading and posting regularly. Originally I thought of just using any old random words to go with the particular letter of the day, but realistically without a clear theme to work towards I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my focus for a full month… So instead I’ve opted for a relatively simple, if slightly self-indulgent work-around: This year I’ll be posting 26 things about me, nothing too taxing to write about yet still fulfilling the brief!