30 December No Strings Ramble

Every Christmas I receive a card and letter from an old friend of mine. A friend I met at work as a teenager. A friend I used to go clubbing with on a Wednesday night and then stay over at her mums house after. We would all go to work together on the train the next morning laughing about the night before. The same club (but with a different name) that my girl will be going to on new years eve. My friend once, in that very same club, spectacularly stacked it in her high heels as we came down the stairs. It was like slow motion as she stunt woman rolled down them into the dance floor. I can remember it so vividly.She got up pulled her dress back down and then got out her compact mirror checked her hair and touched up her red lipstick and carried on. What a pro!!!! Another week as we were hungover on our way to work she exclaimed “I’ve got my trousers on back to front”. We laughed so much. She was so much fun and so very lovely.

As with lots and lots of lovely people through my life, we lost touch. Changing jobs, new relationships, changing homes, kids, parents, family, life, Time! Basic living takes up so much of our time especially if you have kids. There isn’t time to keep in touch with everyone in a way that has any real substance. And I always wonder where people find the time for social media. Strangely even without social media there is still a thread of connection beyond the busyness of life. Sometimes the old ways have their own romance as I love reading her letters at Christmas, all of which I keep. It’s a very beautiful thing actually. 

She had a son long before I had my girl. Complications during the birth left her son being born with cerebral palsy. Her boyfriend couldn’t cope with it and left her. But being the girl she was and with the lovely family she had around her she became the kind of mum that any kid would wish for. Leaving her job in the bank to take care of her son full time. Always being told that his life expectancy probably wouldn’t see him into an adult and yet here he still is with that same beautiful smile he has always had in every picture she shares with me. She updates me on his progress as well as her other son that she had after she fell in love again and got married. They are doing well but lockdown has been tough with no respite care and none of the usual activities he had in place. She eventually had to give up her job working in the kitchens of a school, which she loved. It was too much to cope with it all. But she always puts a positive spin on everything. Saying how much she loves getting time to go out for walks. Her letters inspire me. I mean really inside me. What an amazing  woman she is. Spectacularly amazing.

 I can always rely on my mum to give me a little lift as I picked her up early this morning to bring her back for the night. My girl is taking her to the ballet. Her Christmas present to her nan. There is something very beautiful in what is shared with grandparents. Family has always been an important thing for me especially looking after parents and grandparents. We are sharing a girly spa night altogether at mine with a Cajun chicken dinner and chocolate cake to celebrate my mums birthday which falls on New Year’s Eve. Of course my party girl mum is out and about in the evening but I get a chance to celebrate with her over breakfast before I drop her home again and the others get a chance to spend time with her. She is going out with her boyfriend to some do where hopefully she will get a chance to dance. She’s such a girl! The “One hundred club Oxford Street Girl” back in the the day. 
Oh M your eyes look very sparkly this morning” she said as she followed it up with the story she tells me at least once every year. Usually if she knows I’m in need of a little extra love. When you were a baby a man was looking at you in your pram said “I’ve  never seen such big sparkly blue eyes”. I laugh every time as my mum takes great delight in sharing it. I don’t know who that fella was but he sure did have an impact on my mum. My eyes aren’t that sparkly! But it always makes me smile. Thanks mum! 

Christmas has felt lovely in some moments and really difficult in others. But I feel like I’m really pushing now for some happiness too. I think I deserve a share of that. Trying to find space and freedom feels easier said than done but I won’t be dictated to by anyone now or put up with being spoken to disrespectfully. I’ve think I’ve earnt some respect and won’t put up with being shouted and sworn at. I may not have many choices financially but I’m not taking that shit now. It’s creating some tensions as I find myself pushing back in others having to take responsibility for themselves.  I don’t like conflict but I won’t be a doormat neither. I’ve found my mojo again. The security of a home and my girl are my priorities. If I’ve learnt anything it is that I deserve more than I had previously accepted. Practicalities of money not providing a vast array of options that feel attractive to me at this point in the show. I love my home and I’m holding on to it. I worked really hard to keep it. But I do have choices in how I spend my time and how I live life within the confines of what this is. And just in that I believe the new year is full of hope. I may be a dreamer but I’m totally a doer .It’s just that sometimes all the stuff that I’m doing isn’t particularly news worthy. I’m just a normal girl. I don’t get thousands of invitations to exciting events or have money to splash out on constant entertainment and distraction. But I love being able to share things with those I love. 

Life changes and as I move into this new chapter I realise I want different things to what others might be looking for.  I’m not in my twenties anymore looking for someone to kiss on New Year’s or in my thirties looking for a man to settle down with and have kids. In fact I know I don’t actually need a man. Because I’ve  been doing it all for myself for such a long time. But love and romance are part of my make up. So I guess that’s feeling more of a want than a need.
When I was walking through London on 27th after ice skating at Somerset house with my girl, I found myself reminded of just how much I love in life.

Yesterday I saw my friend L who I loved  spending the day with. we also went to the ballet and then the pub after. She is a little teeny tiny Christmas rockstar of a friend who I was very lucky to find all those years ago now. The kind of person who has so much unseen potential to her which is so very visible to me as a friend. The kind of friend that anyone would be lucky to have and I feel proud to have as a bestie. I wish so much for her. Spending time with her is always such a treat. 

When I caught up with my mate BH just before Christmas he said Thankyou for the lovely message. He also said he had been very stressed. “Stop” I said jokingly “you’re ruining my version of you that is cool and collected.” Being a parent changes so much in who you need to be and can change who you are in amongst that. But it doesn’t really change who you are deep down. That part still exists underneath it all. It can very easily be lost and forgotten in all the various demands and realities of life. Yes it can feel very stressful as others demand something more of you when you are already trying your best. Being a parent is the job that lasts forever. Pretty easy to fuck up in a job that is every single day. Can’t help feeling a massive solidarity for other parents who try their hardest but often feel like they don’t quite hit the mark. But we do our best in amongst it all. 
I’ve heard a lot of non parents through the years who talk about how much better they would do. Until they are in it and realise that their kids are actually real people with their own personalities and minds and many other outside influences that shape who they are It’s impossible to know what that will really look like. Trying your best feels as good as it gets. And enough is definitely where I’m at. Feeling quite at peace in “enough”. Anything beyond feels like a bonus.

Perfection is hard to maintain for a whole lifetime but definitely comes in moments. Like golden times. Me and L reminisced about such a moment in the pub as we remembered all the fun of that time when me and my two besties worked together. We chuckled in how that bloody system that we were left in charge of and caused us all sorts of headaches also became our little moment of rebellion when we gave ourselves back some holiday in being able to delete it without anyone knowing. Even angels have their moments of being little devils! Sometimes it feels nice to have a bit of control. Aaahhh golden time! 
Anyways my friend BH comment made me think about how life’s  challenges and responsibilities can’t  help but change me but at the core I’m still the same girl that I’ve  always been. Like a dreamy kid with lots of heart who has an independence of mind with that bit of hidden feistyness. My life has been full of all sorts of crazy little capers. 

What I actually want is  to find more opportunities for me to be happy and do things I’ve never had the time or opportunities to do. I know I want to do things that make me feel free. In fact anything or anyone who wants to control me won’t see me for dust as I quickly reverse  back round the corner like the fast and the furious and disappear into the distance with my engine screeching. And I don’t want to be around anything that  leaves me feeling undervalued, unappreciated or taken for granted. I think I am worth more and those that really love me will know that. I’m trying to grab hold of the essence of who I am as an individual. All the stuff about me that  sits behind the various roles I often have to play. But being a kid is the easiest thing in the world for me. I could be that all day every day. Because that’s pretty much who I am really. Who gives a shit about being grown up and wise. I’d rather just be happy and have fun. 

As an actual kid  I created my imaginary friend Jerry. Aaaahhh Jerry I miss you. Having many conversations with myself down at the bottom of my bed. Me and Jerry existed in my own imagination which is a lovely place indeed. Fantastical and beautiful  and full of sparkle. A playful version where anything and everything is possible and magic can be made from nothing. A creative element that isn’t made from anything tangible but made me happy as I skipped along creating a whole other world beyond the one I lived in. Psychologists would describe it as an escape. Probably. The real world can be a bit shit. But Christmas lights tend to brighten it up. My imagination is more a place where I can just be who I am beyond the confines of the real world. Always looking for my own opportunities to be that version in the real world in different moments, at different ages, in different places. I’d really like to stretch my potential in all the unseen. Finding inspiration in myself when thinking about my moments of life where it has come out even if just for a brief moment. 

As we drove back in the car from my birthday outing in November with my friends I told them about my time at school when I put together my own show. Years of being cast as a farmyard animal in the nativity when I wanted to be Mary or an Angel  had taken their toll on me and I decided to cast myself as the star of my own show. The Sound of Music.  Catholic school… I am just a by product of my early influences. But I loved that film. Remembering seeing it the first time with my gran on one of those many rainy seaside holiday days. Went to a sing a long version with my friend K which I loved. My version as a kid was a moment of taking control of my destiny. I auditioned all the kids in my class for parts. I adapted the script for a condensed version, I made the costumes, the scenery, collected the props, made the programme in which I gave myself the main part of Maria and then listed myself for every element of the show including director. I guess a massive moment of narcissism in its most visible and comical form. I was so in complete control of MY show. For that very brief and fickle moment my popularity grew and I was noticed. Suddenly everyone wanted to be a part of my world. Ooooohhh the Power! But it wasn’t really about that for me. It wasn’t really about being seen by others,  or being popular, or being in control of others. I think it was more about seeing my own  potential beyond the confines of the box I had been placed in and what could be achieved, if it was given an opportunity beyond. The people that I really wanted to see it weren’t even there. My mum and my dad. Despite the fact that all the other parents came, who had been sent tickets, that I had made and distributed, and rocked up on the day of the performance much to the surprise of all the nuns, who I had failed to inform, knowing that they would have said no. Instead the nuns called in other kids from different classes to lay out the chairs for this quiet but purposeful 11 year old nobody in her directorial debut. 
My friend M said to me “what a big thing to do when you were 11”. When I think of it now, it really was. Especially when I think about who I was back then and where I lived in that hierarchy of popularity and influence. Nowhere!
And since then been thinking about other things I did around that too. The really shy and quiet girl who lacked so much confidence in the crowd but in my own strange  and wonderful 11 year old way had some version of creativity that was random, without any hype but just made me happy. It makes me smile as I collect inspiration from within myself in what I might be capable of. 
It’s funny when I  think about it.  There’s all sorts of moments. I was the most uncool kid but I didn’t care when others laughed at me. Ok well maybe I did. I guess deep down I wanted to be as cool as the people I saw on top of the pops. But it didn’t seem to stop me. Perhaps in my own mind I thought I was super cool!
Like when they had the fancy dress competition at the school summer Fete that had lots of perfect looking princesses in their  costumes bought from holidays in Spain and Florida. I instead rocked up in my home made Pinocchio costume complete with a  long putty nose that kept drooping down limply as I paraded round the school field in the hot sunshine. Street cred minus a billion . I don’t know whether I won for  pity or originality but I didn’t care. I was just happy to win something as I trotted home holding my prize , my putty nose and my annual bags of goldfish. A costume made of my brothers rolled up tracky  bottoms with buttons sewn on, braces, white top, big bow tie and an Alpine  hat that I borrowed off EL who had brought it back from that school trip to Switzerland. It certainly didn’t  increase my already non existent chances with the popular boys but I felt really good. Oblivious to what a knob I must have looked. I like to think now, a lovable little knob. 
A similar feeling that I had when I entered myself into a talent contest  at that infamous and special caravan park holiday that my mum maxed a  credit card for, and as the only single parent in that place, for her efforts was pulled out to judge the hairy chest competition. That must have been mortifying for her but she took the laughs. I meanwhile sang Hello by Lionel Rich Tea  as my brothers came in from the pool table  room looking incredulous. Once again the shy girl finding her confidence in crazy little moments. Although I won that too I might add. Dream big they say. I’ve said it too.  But really I just liked doing stuff. Most of which no one knows about or would care, but I know in all it’s random little Episodes  in life that make me laugh to myself. Not with an externally version of cool but feeling pretty cool and epic to myself at the time. What is cool anyways?!Who decides?! 

I’ve always been very playful and fun. A version that felt quite stunted in that last chapter but still showed itself in random and magical moments. And I find myself once again wanting to find things that can pull at any potential in a part of a brand that has got lost behind so much. I’m not even sure where to even start but feeling that quiet and hidden excitement in anything being possible. It’s on me! Not needing to be a success. I just want to see what else I might be capable of if I give myself a chance to try. 

Feeling the uncool 11 year old girl calling out to me again and asking me..

 “What you made of M?”

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