Life and What Matters Most

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week asks:

What’s the best thing you’ve got going on in your life at the moment?

It’s a really good question, and it’s really brought me up short. Life may be far from perfect for me at the moment, but I know in the past it’s definitely been a hell of a lot worse. Not only do I still have a lot going for me, but also I need to acknowledge that every cloud has a silver lining.

At grass roots level, the best thing I have going on in life at the moment is life itself. I’m still sitting here, safe and warm in my own home, with lots of people around me to love who love me too. I have food in my belly and clothes on my back and money in the bank and hope for the future.

OK, so I have a few annoying health niggles, but I’m a post-menopausal woman in my late 50s who has had poor health since childhood so perhaps that’s only to be expected. And yes, we have a few quite serious family worries just now, but at least I have loving family members to be worried for.

So there we go – I honestly think without doubt the precious reality of living has to be the best thing in my life at the moment 🙂

The Tempo of Life

If I were to divide my life up into musical movements, I would say my life from birth to about 15 was lived vivace, lively and fast. From 15 to 30 life was lived allegro, fast, quick and bright, and from 30 to 45 things slowed down slightly as I preferred a more andente tempo, a far more comfortable walking pace. From 45 to 60 I’ve been living more adagio, slow with great expression, and from 60 onwards I’m looking forward to life lived largo, slow and broad 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Tempo

Stuff I Share…

My blog is a place I share stuff… personal stuff, everyday stuff, overall life stuff… thoughts and feelings. I like that level of sharing, photographs I take and poems I write and experiences and opinions and the occasional rant and just… I don’t know… a general commentary on my very ordinary existence, day by day. I don’t share everything, of course, that would be creepy. But what I do choose to share is real.

My favourite blogs to follow tend to share the same kind of everyday things as I do. Some blogs are more image based, some are poetry based, and some just share the same kind of ongoing everyday life stuff as I do. There’s just something human that connects us when we know someone’s name, and what they look like, and where on the planet they live. And the longer we stay connected through our blogs, the better we get to know each other.

My blog content inevitably changes along with my reality – when I first began blogging I lived in a one-bed flat in London with no outside space at all, and now I live in a three-bed bungalow in Inverness in the North of Scotland with a garden front and back, so of course I now have a completely different lifestyle. And over the last 20-odd months we’ve all had to adapt to the global Covid pandemic, too. Lives change, circumstances change, and so our blogs change, too.

As a result what I share on my blog depends mostly on what’s going on in my life, how busy (or not) I am, and how I’m feeling about things going on around me. Sometimes I share quite a lot, but at other times, not so much. Some days I’m just more chatty than others, and on some days I just want to hide away from the world and shut everyone and everything out.

So I may as well take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone for sharing my blog with me, and for giving me the opportunity to share yours with you, too… Here’s to all of us keeping on blogging! 🙂

Weekly Prompt: Sharing

Nourishing and Flourishing

So many of my blog posts over this last year and a half have included images of or references to my garden, and I worry that I might be boring everyone with my growing personal passion for my outdoor space.

But to be fair, in an effort to survive emotionally on our pandemic-ridden planet my garden has necessarily become a huge part of helping me feel grounded in reality as the seasons progress. My daily world has effectively shrunk to the size of our property boundary, and I must admit that now I’ve got used to it, I find that’s perfectly OK with me.

Since 23rd March 2020 as a country we’ve either been in full stay-at-home lock-down mode or alternatively in varying degrees of Government-imposed restrictions (greatly reduced for now but still not fully lifted), and with the continuing rise in numbers of the Delta variant here in the UK, it may be some time yet before any return to any real semblance of ‘normality’ as we knew it.

Like millions of others I’ve had no option but to learn to live under whatever set of necessary restrictions are currently imposed on us, although thankfully it seems that some of us have been blessed with the wonderful circumstance of finding ourselves being nurtured by nature right on our doorsteps, in the privacy of our own gardens.

So for now I spend much if my time in my garden in a mutually beneficial relationship based on nourishing and flourishing, and I am content. Happily it looks like my garden is quite content with the arrangement, too 🙂

Buoyant

Sometimes my mood can feel quite buoyant, but at other times not so much.

Sometimes I can bob around quite happily on an easy-going flat-calm sea of life but at other times I know I struggle to stay afloat in an ever-undulating ocean of atmospheric depression, limbs flailing in desperation as I fight to survive wave after wave of stormy waters, sinking slowly into the depths, drowning in despair.

All I can do when I hit such rough seas is keep swimming, and hope the storm passes soon enough…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Buoyant

This Is Your Life…

When I was younger there was a TV programme here in the UK called ‘This Is Your Life’, with the premise that host Eamonn Andrews would surprise a well-known celebrity ‘live’ with a big red book containing the story of their lives as told by friends and family and photographs and anecdotes. The ‘lucky’ star concerned would then be taken to the studio set to sit in pride of place and as their life story unfolded page by page over the next half hour, as all other guests involved in the secret would come through the door to tell their part in the tale to date.

But I often wondered – that’s all very well if you have a nice straightforward successful life moving seamlessly from childhood through adulthood to a fantastic future filled with fame and fortune. But what about the shadowy bits of your past that perhaps you’d rather not re-live, people that once were important to you but who you no longer speak to by choice, places you’d gone to you’d far rather sweep under the carpet, or things you’d done that you wish you and everyone else would forget?

The show has been cancelled for years – I don’t suppose there’s much call for that kind of famous personality ‘reveal’ show any more. With social media and so much public sharing of what was once so private, much of everyone’s past is already accessible online and anything worth knowing has already done the rounds of the gossip rags if not loudly proclaimed on Facebook. And anyway, everybody worth anything in public life writes their autobiography nowadays. I do love reading people’s personal life stories – if it’s someone I like, of course.

I still wonder, though – what do you choose to put in, and what do you leave out? And how do you write it? Do you write a kind of personal essay, a timeline of important moments revealed in chronological order, or do you build your life story as a series of little vignettes linked by factors other than time? I mean, with me the things that most people would most likely like to read about from my life are the very things I’d rather avoid being out in the public domain altogether. The bits I wouldn’t mind sharing are the boring bits no-one gives a toss about.

I think it might be fun, though, to have a go at chronicling choice bits of my life – only the bits of my life I choose, mind – in words and pictures and mementos and memories. Make my own style of ‘This Is Your Life’ book just for me, and maybe even for my grandchildren to see one day. Snippets and stories and silly stuff to share, for no other reason that I’m alive and having a life matters, even the most boring of lives. Start somewhere, with something – I was born, I grew up, I started a blog – and see what happens… 🙂

Blogging Insights: Distractions

What distracts you from blogging? Apart from family or work what factors or forces prevent you from creating content?

Very timely question from Dr Tanya at Salted Caramel this week. What distracts me most from blogging – and from eveything else that counts as fun in life for that matter – is the infinite black hole of recurring depression.

Chronic depression is (and always has been) without doubt the single most difficult life issue for me, and after the last couple of seriously down weeks where focusing all my efforts on still going to work and otherwise maintaining the basics of life as a priority (cooking, eating, cleaning, keeping the household ticking over, etc.) was the absolute best I could do, I’m beginning to feel it’s time I picked up where I left off and got back to creating some semblance of blogging normality around here.

So I’m going to make a concerted effort to try to join in with some of my usual prompts and challenges over the next couple of days and see how I get on… wish me luck! 🙂

An Ordinary Life

All I want is a quiet, ordinary, unassuming life, full of simple, peaceful pleasures. I’ve been out in the garden for much of the day today; washing drying on the line, weeding getting done, darting little birds following me around at a distance, curious to see what else I might have dug up along with everything else.

In many ways ours is just an ordinary garden, nothing spectacular but oh, how I really enjoy spending time outside in my own private space. There’s just something about being at one with fresh air and green grass and flora and fauna that feeds my soul, lifts my mood as if by magic. I’m definitely an outdoor girl at heart.

Earlier on I was sitting on the conservatory doorstep having a well-earned tea-break, thinking that seriously, this is definitely the kind of lifestyle I could get used to. And then I realised that this is actually my life now. Even once lockdown is over, this is still my garden, and I can still spend as much time in it as I want 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Ordinary

Things I Am Not

I’d love to be one of those people who can look back on life and say – Yup, I’ve absolutely nailed it! But in order to be able to do that, you first have to know clearly what it is you want out of life, have a long-term plan to work towards, and then stick to it. I don’t really have a fixed plan – to be honest I’ve never had a fixed plan.

I’ve always been more of a non-plan plan girl…

When I was really young, I was ill a lot, and I remember thinking I might want to be a nurse. Then as I got a bit older, I thought I might want to be a doctor. And then when it became clear my school grades weren’t going to make medicine an easy possibility, I shifted away from healthcare and towards thinking creatively about studying art instead. I even applied for Art School in my final year, but wasn’t accepted straight away after leaving school.

At that point I just drifted away from the idea of study.

So not long after leaving school at 17, while working locally in retail and still living at home, I started going out with a local boy I used to go to primary school with, and we soon got engaged, planning our wedding for the following summer. I’d discovered sex with a bang, felt grown up in the smug self-important way that overly-hormonal teenagers do, and the thought of studying became a distant memory. I was going to be a wife and that felt fine.

And then not long after I turned 18 I got pregnant and embarked on the trepidatious journey of motherhood.

It wasn’t a happy marriage. I tried so hard to make it work, we had three children together but the honest truth is I know now we should never have got married in the first place. I struggled with depression throughout, as I did before and after. I still struggle on and off with depression today. We separated when I was 24, had a very acrimonious divorce that took four long years to go through, and in the end the children stayed with me.

Over the years I did my best in bringing them up, but sadly I made many mistakes along the way. Messed up some, lost my sense of direction, took more than a few wrong turns.

And so one way or another my ongoing non-plan plan has continued evolving organically ever since. Decades have past. Lots of water has passed under lots of bridges, none of which have been burned beyond repair. I’m not a nurse or a doctor, but for a while I did work in a hospital as a physiotherapy assistant. I’m not an artist, but I am still quite creative. I’m not actually a career girl of any sort in any way, shape or form, full stop. I’m still a mum. I did eventually study though, graduating at 40 with a First Class Honours Degree, and thankfully at 56 – I’ll turn 57 later this year – I’m now happily married with six grandchildren.

Hopefully life is finally mending and healing for all of us.

So I wouldn’t say I’d nailed life, I’d say it was more screwed up than nailed down. But it’s still holding together and at this point I’m not about to quibble over whether I should have used a hammer or a screwdriver to get here – a tool is a tool is a tool. You use what you have to hand, and you get on with it. Stuff is fixed in place, is where it needs to be, and that’s all that matters. It’s my life, and I try not to have too many regrets. I’m not exactly proud of the convoluted path I’ve taken to get here, but I’m no longer as ashamed of it as I used to be.

And I think overall that has to be a good thing… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Nail