The M M Mouse

As I sat as quiet as a mouse under my umbrella in the garden yesterday morning an old song I like found its way to me from my random playlist. I love this tune. It has such power, hope and motivation in moving forward. It gave me that once before.

The rain poured around me as I sheltered. Just feeling the tickle of its spray on my bare shoulders.
Looking at the red rose bush that I cut right back a few weeks ago but is growing back up again with healthy new stems and accompanying leaves of red and green that look so vibrant in the rain.
The combination of everything gave me a feeling that I love. Like a beautiful simmering fire building within me from the depths of who I really am. My voice telling me that I can do anything. If I want to.
And I am.
As I finally start making plans to see people that I love. Just “say yes to adventure” as my new hammock cushion says with a picture of a bike with wheels of daisies. The reappearance of the vanishing lady commencing with chocolate and ice cream on Thursday.
Feeling real movement within as well as beyond as I start to move and reengage. Feeling the connection to myself as well as a connection to what surrounds me. Of course I got a little help from my beautiful friend who helped this little person put her shoes back on. The little person who was actually once a mouse.
The mouse who knew how to fearlessly navigate a maze.

The battle that immediately exhausted me got a boost as I received beautiful wild flowers from my neighbours and a reminder of what my care can do in listening to the young woman in her twenties in the next block. She was feeling the pressure. The flat she inherited a few years ago when she lost her mum. A larger than life woman who had old school east end fight and would see prospective builders running away with their little tails between their legs.

This young woman who was once a little girl when I first moved in. Stunningly beautiful like a young Lisa Bonet.
“Let’s just do what we can. It’s all we can do. We are totally in this together. Just enjoy your day.” These words said quietly with big concrete meaning.
Feeling that powerful solidarity in a group that care about each other and are fighting as one.
Funny how and when and where you find the things that you always look for. Suddenly feeling like I fit with a group of very random and different people that have one thing in common. We all care about something more than just ourselves.
The old boy who has vowed to lie in the road and the giant polish guy in the next block who said he will hang like a cross on chains from the buildings should they try to take it from us.
What a fucking army this is.
I have to find the comedy in another ridiculous episode in my life.
The forest bravehearts.
This is a group I can be part of.
This I can connect with.

Conformity is like a prison for me. A way of making me the same, like a robot on a conveyer belt. Doing what I don’t wish to do. Making me fit into a box that I don’t want to be put in. It just makes me feel trapped. I thought for a moment that I wanted to fit. To be part of the many. To be part of what on the surface looks like more.
But really I just want to be dreamily happy and have fun.
I know how to have fun. I’ve had a lot of fun in my life. But the fun is always related to who I am sharing it with and the kind of energy that I feel in that. I’ve felt the different energy in different crowds, groups and individuals. I can be doing exactly the same thing but the difference is made in the feeling I get from those around me.

In those perfect moments when I find myself somewhere at the right time with the right person and the right surroundings then that feeling of fun doesn’t have to be searched for. I feel it inside myself and in who I’m with and I am completely lost in it.
It’s real, it’s felt and it’s memorable and epic.

But trying to be part of the many just the sake of being part of something “more” just doesn’t provide that feeling. My heart has to be in and so does theirs.

I thought maybe I avoided it as a protection for not fitting. Feeling sad in moments because I don’t know how to be part of it.
But I know I’ve always found many times people and places when I’ve been completely part of it.
Times when noone fits which makes them fit. When no one has to adapt. Just be you.

I feel more alone when I have to become what I’m not… minus the energy and fire I have when I’m alone and I don’t.

My heart rules my head. Sometimes I have to follow my head to survive in this world but when I follow my heart it is to live and to love.

It’s easy with people I love. It wouldn’t much matter where we are or what we do. They’re there. It’s all I really need. And I love sharing what others love.

When I am on my own and feeling that fun and happiness I always know who I wish to share it with.
Wanting to transport someone in just so they can feel it with me.

I found myself feeling that perhaps there was something wrong with me because I don’t see things the same way or I don’t get it.
Or that I don’t have the ability to be part of groups and enjoy all that comes with that.
But it just depends on the group and how accepting they are of what’s not like them. Groups that allow you to be who you are without consuming you or owning you. I don’t like that feeling of being smothered by a majority who place me in a role that I have to conform to. No room for evolving as the demand to be what others want from me steals away the freedom to just be and give what I want. Feeling their disappointment when I don’t deliver and feeling my frustration in having to be a one dimensional version where all the rest is suppressed.

A selfishness and arrogance perhaps in not wanting to just do as I’m told. Only I don’t think I’m either. I don’t require others to do what I want. I’m happy to avoid what isn’t for me. Less rebellious and more just wanting my space to just breathe and live.
To be as I am without all the constraints that come with fitting.

And I like the quiet. And often it can all feel so crowded and noisy. You’re in or you’re out. With everyone telling everyone what they have to do and be.
A lot of white noise
Don’t do it like that. You need to do it like this.
I can disconnect from that very quickly.

I don’t always know who I am or what I want. So how do you know?

I guess I like peace. I like space. I like to be just as I am without being told who I should be. I like doing things spontaneously just because I feel it. I like feeling free and autonomous.
I like living life in my own way, in my own style and without feeling the need to do what others want me to do.
I like having people around me that understand that and don’t feel a need to control me.
I’m my own person. I came into this world on my own and I will leave it on my own but in between I would like to feel all the love and fun that makes this life worth being a part of.
That makes me feel connected to more.
Caring for those I hold dear in their moments of need but trusting in their ability to do what they want when that need isn’t there.
I’m just there.
I try to give what I wish for.

I spoke to my best friend from school yesterday.
One of only two people I remained friends with from that time of my life. Love them both. This particular friend has always been lovely bubbly beautiful. And she looked out for me when we were kids. I say I kept in touch but in fact she always reaches out to me when I go missing for a while.
But yesterday I reminded her.
Her response being as ever to address me by my full name. The name that was given to me at birth before i got married.
It always makes me laugh that she calls me that. Like a reminder that I’m still that same girl.
“MN We’ve always loved your smile laugh and your kindness. You’ve never changed” she said.

And with that we made a plan for me to go visit her in Suffolk in September.

In order to run I have to leave the past behind. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t take some of that with me into my future whether that be what is held inside me or in the special relationships I have that can be shared in a new time and a different place.
Because I love to run on my own but as I run I always find myself wishing to share it with those I love and who love me too.

Run with me ❤️

Hear the gentle girl Roar !!!!

“I Object”
Yesterday I felt the strength and courage of the lion within me as I whipped my blonde mane in defiance as I pressed send.

As I’m writing this I can see a tiny baby snail moving slowly across my garden. In no rush. It’s long black tentacles at full stretch as it senses the way. Carrying its home on its back while it navigates the various obstacles in its path.
Those moments of hiding away replaced by some movement. Completely up and at em in very slow motion as it silently glides along.

Yesterday I went into battle.
For a moment transforming from the down to earth and friendly blonde bird who lives at number x to a rebel leader for the over 70’s crew in the flats.
They’re just nice people. Lived here much longer than me.
I remember their husbands or wives that they’ve lost.
They remember me in my early twenties as I came home from drunken nights out and then as a young mum.
I was never no trouble. Never having loud and crazy parties at the flat.
Always preferred to go out for fun.
My home being more of a sanctuary.
Loved singing out loud to my tunes that I can never remember the words to. “I heard you singing” they would say.
But I always respected the rights of everyone else in the flats. You live so close together it feels important to be considerate. I was grateful for that when i had a tiny baby to get to sleep.
There is something special about this place. Old fashioned I guess you would call it. Filled with all sorts of different characters. Actually they are a crazy little lot. I got stories that would make your hair curl.
New people coming and going and always welcomed but the majority have lived here for twenty plus years. It has a nice little down to earth vibe where everyone looks out for each other but without invading your space. When I close my front door I feel like I live in a house.
Even though I always hear the polish man upstairs playing the piano. I love that.
We’ve grown and evolved together like a strange little family.

As I finished writing my objection which took me two days I thought about how much I’ve learnt from getting up this time. It’s been the hardest version of what that has looked like. An exhaustion felt after coming full circle as I finally stopped.
So much loss. So much difficulty. So many scars.
And yet it is feeling like my strongest return as I start to see my strength and energy grow.
Dealing with a lot but I’m seeing so much in myself that I feel really proud of. I’m certainly a tryer with a very good heart.

I think I also feel the strength from getting myself back up. Not relying on others. Not wanting to be a victim or that person that can’t sort her life out. It’s just been a very tough chapter that’s all. I took myself out of it all, gave myself a chance to just lie down before shouting at myself to “Get back up!”
And not just to get up but to fight harder for me as well as those I care about. Putting in some time and effort in looking after me too.
Because I’m worth it and I deserve to be cared about too.
So I’ve been doing it for myself. Without feeling like I’m a drain on others.

Feel like I’m rising in realising how well I have done in surviving it all and reflecting on what I’ve learnt in it all.
Gentle I may be but I’m pretty resilient by all accounts. I think many might have ended up having a nervous breakdown. Believe me I’ve come close a couple of times. But kept pushing through. I definitely feel something else emerging. Someone wiser and more capable.

Trying so hard for my girl right now. Sometimes I think I turn a corner and then other moments it feels like we are getting nowhere. It’s hard not being able to just fix it.
But I keep my faith that time will mend things. She’s such a sweetheart. She certainly deserves to be happy.

I felt good as I tiredly submitted my carefully thought out 6 page document that addressed all the various points in their plan.
Using their gifted line of “plans reflecting the limited possibilities of the existing site” as a basis for ripping their limited possibilities apart. A poorly thought through proposal that is based on a fantasy.
I love a fantasy myself but this existing building doesn’t have foundations deep enough to safely support a build on top along with a whole host of other dangers. A little like the picture of Henry VIII’s 4th wife, the drawing looking nothing like the reality.
As they talk of communal areas that aren’t in fact communal.

Their limited possibilities being so limited that they actually don’t exist at all.

If I’ve learnt anything in life it’s how important versatility is. If you have nothing else sitting behind as a back up then you’re not gonna get far or last very long. Things change and if you can’t find a way of adapting to that then you will just fall down and stay down.
I’m reminded of the amount of times I’ve had to adapt in this life in order to survive it.
I think a lot of mums especially will recognise that. It’s probably why I’m a jack of all trades and master of none.
Change doesn’t really scare me. But being controlled does. I can change but just don’t tell me how to. I don’t want to change the fundamental values that drive me. They come from a really good place. They will never make me rich but I sure do feel proud of them.
And eventually I find a way. Something new within myself that emerges to meet a need as I keep the rest in tact. Making no apologies for being who I am because I know I don’t go around hurting others.
I just like doing my own thing in my own way. I don’t tread on anyone else to do that. Even my swimming lot know now that I look for my space.
I love being around people but I also find a lot of people demanding. I just like to get on with it and I have my little moans on here. Noone has to read them.
Realising that I don’t really fit with the way of the many and no longer wanting to try. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. I don’t want to feel like I have to try to be what I’m not.
I can armour up for need but I just want to be me the rest of the time. Without having o try and be part of the cool set with all their fabulous lives and confidence and go getting ways.
I can’t relate. It all seems fake. I’d rather chat to the old boy at swimming where it feels warm and genuine.

As I wrote my objection I was reminded of those diploma essays that I hated doing…. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 ,3.1 etc what a waste of time.
I had no motivation for what felt like a pointless process. I thought I had gained nothing from that other than jumping through another hoop.
Now I have to jump through this hoop to protect my home I realised I learnt something very valuable from that previous experience. I know how to write in a way that is required.
Not an emotional rant. But a clear and concise argument that highlights the flaws and the mistakes and the inconsistencies in a plan that falls short of lots of standards.
This building is just a job for them. I know how to do a good job in something that holds no real interest for me. I cal it work. I always wish to feel proud in whatever I do even if I don’t enjoy it. But it’s just a job.
But real passion, real fire comes from caring. From really caring about something where you push beyond your limits to a place you never thought you were capable of. That gives every ounce of who you are because it really matters.
If passion helps wins the game then let’s play.

Fighting for what’s ours in a document that is now doing the rounds as I am suddenly seen in a whole other light. Being told that “no expert/surveyor or lawyer could have done a better job”. And that I’m a very clever lady”.
Can’t lie. It was lovely to be seen as clever. Not just the friendly smiley girl. Just because I don’t have a fancy place and a fancy life doesn’t mean that I don’t have a brain. Getting judged in how I speak has often been a thing in places I’ve worked. Immediately assuming that they are so much more intelligent. I’ve heard an awful lot “educated” people talk out of their arses.
I might not have those bits of paper but I’ve learnt a lot in just living.
And I always loved writing when I was at school. And I’ve always been curious and pick stuff up along the way.
I may not be a genius but I certainly do think for myself.

But this quiet “legally blonde” girl has learnt and grown alot. I’m not intimidated and I won’t be pushed about now. Standing my ground alongside others who don’t want to be pushed about either. There is a lot of passion in our little army.
Perhaps we won’t change the outcome but there is something to be said in just standing up and being counted. So just in that …
Hear this gentle girl Roar !!!!

Armour vs Amore

Armour or Amore

How do I live and survive in this world and keep hold of all the parts of myself that I hold dear.
Being gentle, warm, dreamy, kind, caring, and loving.

The realities of real life in this real world always requiring me to be something more. Something different.
The real version can chat to lovely J in water world where I don’t have to worry beyond swimming.
But in the real world where I am responsible for more than just me especially in these particularly difficult times where everything feels uncertain and there has been so much sadness and loss, I need to be more than just caring and loving.

I have to be a protector. Like a warrior armoured up. A version that most people don’t see but I would not have made it through so much if I didn’t have it in me.
There is no one there protecting me. There never was when I was a kid. I learnt how to do that for myself.
When I did show my vulnerability I just ended up getting hurt and feeling stupid.
Because the reality is that in order for me and others like me to survive in this world when you don’t have that luxury of protection that others just take for granted, you have to toughen up. You have to scrap it out. You have to do things you don’t want to do. You have to hold yourself back.
And sometimes you have to fight.
Being able to just be the soft and dreamy version is so wonderful. It’s when Ive felt at my happiest in this life. To be able to share that is epic and rare.
Especially as in the wrong company it just made me appear weak.
Made me someone that you can bully and laugh at and look down on.
Made me doubt who I was and who I could be.

J gets the real version when we smile and chat in the pool as my defences take a break and I just swim.

But in the real world, especially now, as the world starts to turn again and I start to see what that new version is going to look like, there is no choice but to armour up ready to do battle with those who don’t see life in the same way as me. Who don’t hold any of the same values as me. Who don’t care about the things and the people that I care about.
That feel that they have the right to walk over those they see as weaker.

In the end it’s those people that own this world. That have control over the things I need in order to take care of those I love.
They don’t care about people like me. We are just inconveniences in this world who they see as less than them.

And yet inside I know the opposite is true. Because even though I have to armour up in order survive in their world, inside mine, there is something pure and beautiful that they will never really understand.

This one is for all those beautiful natures, who are out there in the world battling.

The Fast Lane

This morning as I started to drive back from swimming this tune caught my ear on the radio reflecting back how I’m feeling this morning. Feeling better after last night releasing my frustration and sadness in my previous post.
It always feels good to get rid of it so I can take the next step.
To speak out loud. Sometimes removing when it feels more personal but just putting it out there for a moment makes a difference.
The song lifted me a little more after my up and at em swim with a lovely encounter at the front desk with my old boy J who I’ve made friends with in water water. I normally only see him in there and at first he didn’t recognise me with my long hair down and clothes on.
I like him the best probably because he’s smiley and very sweet and chatty but in a quiet and gentle way thats not in your face. I recognise that.
He looks and sounds like an 80 year old version of my bro.
And he’s a doer.
Alternating days in the gym and in the pool.
I love his gentle and warm way and his amazing energy.

While I sit and have my morning after swim cuppa on the hammock before I tackle todays job of putting in my objections to the 3 x proposed plans for our flats, I felt a wish to post my previous thoughts that had already been written just prior to receiving that letter.
Before my lack of motivation set in as I thought “why can’t I just live in my own way in peace?”
And then ending up watching the hunger games part 1 and hearing the phrase. After survival comes the fight.
Yep love that but I wasn’t quite ready for it as I tiredly went to bed.

I made myself laugh as I just wrote that in how I can turn my much more boring version of trying survive in this life into something more dramatic in my own invisible revolution with some movie provoking inspiration.
Perhaps the odds are always stacked in favour of those with more power but that doesn’t mean I have to become a victim in it and not fight back. Win or lose I gain something in standing up and being counted.
I’m not just gonna lie down and be walked over without throwing back a few punches.
Can’t be bothered unless it feels important.
Don’t try and bully me. I may be small but I have the strength of a one woman army.
With a brain that I am using as I look through the plans and spot their discrepancies and mistakes in them. Talking of communal areas that are contained in my lease and land registry. Thankfully the solicitor back then was very thorough. That lease last for another 980 years.
And I was just as meticulous over the past month as I spent my time going through every old piece of paperwork. Shredding what was not required so I could easily get my hands on what was. All easily to hand in this moment.

Sometimes I have to wait and be patient for those moments while I keep my head above water.
And then times like now, to play them at their own game with my own strategies and intelligence as I swim a little harder and faster to assert my right to retain my little bit of space in this world. You want it then you’ll have to fight me for it.

Sometimes in life there is no choice but to join the fast lane…..

The Fast Lane

For the past three days I’ve been swimming in the fast lane.
Originally not by choice but the whole pool was heaving. I had the choice of being caught in the slow moving lane where I couldn’t swim, the crowded middle lane with the majority, as they struggled to find any space to swim or put myself in the speedier, but less filled fast lane.
So over the barricade I went taking a deep breath.
Swimming amongst the three men who when I entered were already controlling the pace.
The young white man “The Shark” in black hat black goggles who powered through the water with super speed but with a seamless accuracy to his stroke that created few splashes as he silently and invisibly glided through the water with purpose. I was always aware of how much distance there was as I started another new lap but never knowing when he was behind me until I could suddenly feel his presence on my heels. Id make it to the end just in time and then wait at the steps as he glided on by.
The young asian man “Splash of Red” complete with red shorts, red hat and black goggles.
I always notice all the little details even when I’m swimming.
Again front crawl with a few splashes but considerate in sharing the lane. Much faster than me but after he did a few lengths he would take short breaks before then continuing on.
I had enough distance there to avoid being caught for at least one length before then swapping back to being the follower. Worked for me.

And the older fella. Also asian. “Beach Boy”
He reminded me of my friend, just in an older version and with no hair. But a greying beard. No hat required, black shorts and no goggles either. He smiled and I would say the odd word every now and then as I finished a lap.
Just swimming lane small talk. “Isnt it busy” “feel like I’m being chased by a shark”. Again faster than me with his messy front crawl, making loads of splashes.. but after 1 lap he would take a long rest. I mean a looooong rest man! He just had this super chilled thing going on. Not a serious swimmer all all but with a presence that said I belong in this lane.
Timing his moment to start a new lap when the coast was clear and swimming as though he was in an azure blue sea before just standing around in the water feeling the sun.

Made me feel like I belonged in there too despite my lack of similar speed and style.
He has been in there every day that has followed. Always starts out in the jacuzzi first. Always stays till the end of the session.
Feel the comfort a little more in that lane, because of his chilled out vibe.

And then me. “Miss Broadstairs Breast Stroke”. Sounds slightly porno but anyways .. swimming quietly and without a single splash or ripple. That’s ripple.

What I noticed in that environment was that I had to adjust my strategy. No changing of directions in this lane. Having to push myself a little harder and stopping for a few seconds at the end of each lap to avoid shark attack. But in the main swimming up and down at a slightly faster but still consistent pace. I felt happy if a little more under pressure. But what I lack in speed I make up for in stamina. I just keep going for 45 minutes without a rest. Only those few second pauses for the shark.
Like a swimming Duracell bunny. I just keep going. I like the feel of the water as I push it to the sides with my arms as though I’m laying a pathway through the water. I like the weightlessness. I like the feeling of leaving another world behind me as I enter this water world where everything feels more peaceful and simple and everyone exists together in all their different swimming types and styles without any serious discussion in how to achieve that. Just swim.
But in the fast lane I feel the pressure more. Having to hold my own to prove that I have a right to be in there.

Of course Water World isn’t a complete utopia. I’ve heard the odd argument. Some lady got her swimming cossie in a twist one day because the man in the fast lane was splashing so much it got her hair wet. The man said sorry but she then complained to the lifeguard. He didn’t know what to do.
I mean its water world .. you’re gonna get wet.
But I guess she just wanted to avoid having to wash her hair.
My gran would have been the same but whenever she went in swimming she would always put on her big flowery cap. Like a Vivienne Westwood creation. Full protection in place for that rinse and set.

Anyways as I continue on with my thoughts from the other day, I found myself this morning taking my “work a little harder” approach back into the middle lane. The fast lane was rushing like a motorway. It’s a Sunday. Im needing something a little less crowded.. but there were only two of us in the middle for the last half hour. Interestingly the man who tried to race me when I wasn’t racing.
Starring at different ends of the pool. I had the space to be able to swim my perfect version of swimming. Where I have space to really move through the water with more grace and strong arms pushing that water to the sides with wide strokes. Taking my breaths at correct intervals as I moved rather than forgetting as I avoid others to find space.
Pushing myself a little harder as I felt energetic and strong. Setting myself the objective of catching “The Racer”. It was less competing and more to see how much of the gap I could close if I was trying. Little by little passing him nearer to his end as I felt the gap begin to slowly close. Not within a couple of laps but over the course of 20 minutes. I could see it closing little by little and I could tell he did too as he pushed off a little harder against the wall. But I kept on coming until I found myself swimming just a little way behind. At which point I diverted off into the empty slow lane and rolled over into my back and floated away slowly like a little kid.
I didn’t feel a need to go past. It wasn’t anything to do with beating him it was to show me that if I have the space and try a little harder and believe in myself a little more then I’m a force to reckoned with. It’s in me. I was only really racing with myself.

“All battles are first one or lost in the mind”
Joan of Arc

And heart ❤️ totally heart ❤️
Don’t underestimate what cannot be seen

Air Space

Air Space.. I’d never heard of it until I watched the film Burlesque.

Cher’s club was saved from an unscrupulous property developer that tried to woo Christina Aguillera with his millions. Until she discovered his plan. To knock down the club that was home to a little community of dancers, musicians and bartenders.

Me and my girl love the film but I’ve never thought anymore about air space beyond a trip to Austria where I paraglided off a mountain and flew alongside an eagle with a random fella attached to me. Austrian .. Nice bloke!

That is until a letter came yesterday afternoon that made me investigate further.
In the film the little club was saved as a rival developer who was about to sell his luxury flats overlooking the sunset strip and the ocean, paid them for thin air in order that those ocean views would not be compromised.
No sea views from here but the forest sits across the road.

Yes, that’s right the property developers have turned up in my corner of the world.
Only unlike Cher this is a less happy ending.
All the recent new legislation hidden under the cover of covid has made it a done deal for those with rights to the roof to build on top.
Another two floors in fact containing 12 flats in total across all three blocks.
But only for a developer who wishes to turn our quiet residential flats by the forest into an 18 month building site
News travels fast as all my Friday plans turned to dust in trying to find out more. The letter only mentioned one block. But secretly attached to the lamp post was the bigger picture. All of us would be affected as well as the little houses that sit in this quiet close and will see 3 monsters emerging towering over then in a way that we e don’t right now.

Who cares? Why does it matter?
Because it does. Because these are our homes and the rules are completely weighted against us.
It’s just life. It’s just business, it’s just change, it’s just evolution, it’s just the modern world.
Accept it!
Do you mind if I don’t.
I’ve read all sorts. Previously it would have been more difficult to push these things through.
As the little flats community converged to work out what to do there was an optimism that “right” was on our side.
Only when you read up on it as I did, the law now disagrees. And when I investigated further it’s happening everywhere. Anywhere where there are green spaces.
What was previously a place not on the cool list is now a very desirable place that people want to be.
So let’s build up.

All that hard work to hold on to something that felt like it belonged to me and I could seek refuge in. Refuge from all the other many changes that make me feel like I don’t belong. But it didn’t matter because I belonged in this friendly and unpretentious place.
That belonging feels like it is being attacked by the usual greed of everything being about money.
When the pandemic began lots of people came to the forest and parked their cars on a field at no cost.
Now it’s become a cash cow as parking costs have been introduced and it has gone from the people’s forest to a nice little earner.
Just little by little always making things a bit harder for the average Joe.
Pricing people out of things they always loved which then become the playgrounds of those who can afford. Once they arrive changing it into what they want it to be with more expensive prices as a sausage roll becomes a gourmet sausage patisserie.
Take me to Greggs.

Of course these new flats will have a tag of affordable housing. Affordable for who? I couldn’t afford my own place now.
They were barely affordable when we bought it 20 years ago. Stretching to the very limit of what we could borrow to afford it and so happy with what we had.
People telling us we should upscale but I didn’t ever want the pressure of that. I was happy with my little lot.
I didn’t need more space. It was quit and we had a whole forest on the other side of the road.
We could pay the bills and still just live.
Giving up the luxury of bigger and better homes and cars for more fun time with my girl.
Sacrifices made in not having more kids in the hope of just living a good life with what we had.
Life can be pretty harsh and that along with changes and different choices and difficult times saw that once happy life being lost. I take my responsibility in that.
But so much effort and anxiety went into saving the little that was left. This flat.

But of course a pandemic threw a spanner in the works as it took away livelihoods whilst dealing with more harsh realities.
I’m certainly not alone in that.
And other challenges of life being magnified by a lockdown. But I keep pushing through.
It certainly has taught me how to survive in this world even though in many moments it’s been very difficult to “just live”.
As I listened to all that initial pandemic talk of “we’re all in this together” I knew that it was just words.
Always feeling my closest near as they dealt with their own versions too.
In the end you’re always in it on your own.
When the chips are down and you are just trying to survive you have to rely on yourself.
While a beautiful new glossy world is being marketed whilst behind the scenes people are getting shafted al over the place.
Did we all rise above our stations?

This stuff has always bothered me but now it has become personal.
Like having my home, my space, my peace, my safety being attacked with no form of defence.
A lot of the residents in the flats are older. Been here their whole lives. Many of them now widowed.
Living a simple life in peace and quiet.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve morphed into them before I remind myself that I’m just trying to take care of my girl.

Instead we have the prospect of that peace being destroyed by a building site.
All to give our 1960’s flats a modern look on top.
“To ease the housing crisis” apparently.
I wonder if these people who make the rules for others would like someone to come along and build on top of their houses.
But of course the rules will never affect them. They are very detailed in that respect.

It’s hard not to feel disheartened again as I painted my fence today. One of the jobs I had in my list yesterday but felt no motivation for. Knowing that should it be approved I will be able to spend very little quiet time in it.

Just so those that can will buy those flats and then rent them out charging much more for a tidy profit.

To end on a higher level myself it did prompt me to have a “fuck it” moment as I decided to purchase a cheap return flight to Naples to attend a friends wedding. With a couple of days to enjoy before.
If I’m gonna have my quiet space invaded I might as well enjoy something beautiful in advance.
Argo covid!

Sing it Cher!

Water World

Why do they call a particular swimming stroke the butterfly.
It should be called the whale as a tidal wave was created across the pool as the big beefy bloke with shoulders that look like they would carry a bucket load of damsels in distress, throws both both arms over at the same time punching the water “Wreck it Ralph” style.
The old timers hanging on to the sides as they lose their balance while they stroll up and down in the slow lane.
I love swimming. It’s just a whole water world of wonder.
And it is fascinating to observe and be part of. I love it.

The early mornings giving me something right now that is different to the evening.
Slightly later on a Sunday just for an extra few zzzz’s and a longer pre swimming sit in the garden.
A first morning image of food really did “amuse bouche”. And then I did what I’ve been doing every morning. Letting my phone choose my first song of the day through shuffle. Dawn being today’s version.
Ok ok it’s not real. It’s my dreamy head and imaginations. Is it?
Cause it sure does feel real to me as I sit quietly in my own little space in the world. I certainly don’t make it up and it often feels a lot more real than what I sometimes experience in the “real world”.
It’s just no one else sees or feels it in that moment.
My tune to accompany this post was just shared with my by my little sweetheart who said she likes it.
The more we are connected right now the more I see some of the crossovers that she rarely reveals externally but are what we shared when she was a little girl. Kids experience the world in a very different way. I think their senses being more attuned to what’s beyond.
It’s a beautiful song. It resonated with me a lot.

Anyways back to water world.
It’s my only version of socialising right now.
A very peaceful and relaxing version where few words are spoken when you are swimming. Otherwise you would swallow a whole load of water. But nods and smiles suffice.
I like the peacefulness of it.

I even like the process of going for my early morning swim. Get out of bed, Shorts, t shirt, flip flops, put my hair up, have a cuppa in the garden for half hour and then off to swimming.
Followed by Shower and wash my hair after to make myself more presentable to the world beyond.
That’s about as far as I can go with am actual routine every day. But I like it… right now.

I like the good mornings at the front desk and then with those in the changing rooms. Little small talk. It’s a really friendly place.
There is a diverse mix in the morning but I notice it’s not the place of the young bird.
Everything else but.
Although saying that they are quite rare in the evening also.
The gym is visible from the pool and they tend to exist up there in all their cute outfits looking beautiful.
Less jealous more reminiscing in my differences in being twenty to now. Would love to still have my 20 year old body and lack of responsibility. But Its just evolution.
I wonder what the world would be like if it was only filled with twenty somethings?
All over by 30. What a strange thought.
I’ve liked so much in every decade so far. But I think I fear walking up and down the slow lane in the future and yet they always look pretty happy even with their aching joints and their wrinkly buns.

What I notice is the way I swim which reflects quite a lot about me as a person and how I live life and then the other different types of swimmers which makes me wonder if they reflect the same.

So when I get to the pool I jump under the shower and do a quick scan of the pool before I walk in. Not checking out the talent. Well I’m sure I would clock that too if some god walked through. But instead deciphering the different types of swimmers and how I will fit into that. Something quite analytical about that.
Slow, medium, fast lanes. And the three jacuzzis to the side. In the evening they are testosterone fuelled as the body builders and fitness fanatics sit in there after there rigorous workouts.
Still haven’t set foot in the gym since my initial walk round. Doesn’t hold any desire for me.
Have a bike at home and would prefer to ride my real one through the forest. Feeling the motivation rising in that when the next lot of sunshine comes. Doing everything as it feels right and I’m ready.
My stars this morning that my girl sends me every week said that this is a time for taking care of myself. This period will last till October. Blimey.
And it also said “you do so much for others. From now until October is a time to pamper yourself and find peace. Time for You”.
I love that. Time for me sounds lovely.

Once again I got slightly diverted in my “rambles”

So fast tends to be full of the front crawl or whale stroke swimmers. Splashing everywhere, ploughing through the water with intent. They tend to have proper serious swimming attire complete with swimming hats and goggles. They always seem to have a plan as they check their waterproof watches and set off against the stopwatch. These swimmers mean business. They aren’t there to relax. They are there to work every muscle in their body and … well I don’t know what goes through their mind as they swim. Come on Faster faster… or perhaps nothing at all. Zoned out under water with just the sounds of their own splashing.
Sometimes they warm up with push ups against the side. I can’t help but chuckle inside. Mini Olympians. I like their style if perhaps not their waves.

I only enter that fast land if the middle is full and there are no other swimmers in there. But as soon as I catch sight of a serious swimmer I move straight over. Too much pressure and getting drowned as they overtake and you get caught in the riptide.
I’m just not a serious swimmer. I don’t belong in that lane.

Medium lane. This tends to be my main home. If it’s packed and slow is empty it’s a similar scenario to the first. Again I don’t like to impose on a lane that tends to be for very slow swimmers and walkers. So only if it’s empty. Generally it’s the older golden crew who are out in force in the early morning swim.
I like them. They smile and talk to me like I’m the twenty year old of their water world. They always make me feel young and lovely as I stroll round in my bikini as though I should be at the beach. I don’t have a swimming costume. Don’t like them. Uncomfortable. Feel the freeness just in the lack of constraints of clothing and heels and perfect makeup and hair. Not that I’m ever that put together (more of a jeans and T-shirt girl) but you know… I like to dress up for the right occasions.

What I notice pretty much within the first five minutes is the middle lane pace. It can be very mixed as everyone swims up and down. Up and down. All in a little line. It’s emptier at nights. It’s why I liked that version. So I’ve had to find what works for me in this busier version. While in the shower pre getting in I generally clock fastest to slowest within a lap. This forms the basis of how I swim. Again very analytical.
Why? Because I never overtake.
The main difference to how I swim is that I
change directions at certain moments. I do this so that I don’t hinder other faster swimmers but more so because it allows me to find more space to swim in. Switching direction behind the fastest so I don’t get caught behind the slowest.
I hate that feeling of someone being right behind me and imagine they must feel similarly.
And overtaking always feels a bit like saying
“You’re too slow”.
We all have our pace. I like to think we can exist within the same lane without having to make someone else conscious of theirs.
Changing direction in moments creates a lot space.

I swim breaststroke which is slower than front crawl but I’m still fairly speedy in that especially when I have space.
I’m also a very quiet swimmer. Don’t make any waves or even ripples. I could easily be invisible as I tend to glide silently through the water and weirdly just as in life people always smile at me. I do tend to catch people’s eyes. Think actually I smile first and then they smile back.

You can tell the competitive types. I saw it today as a man from the middle moved over to the fast lane and then raced against me without me racing. What’s that about? I caught him checking over several times as I stayed side my side as he started splashing a little more.
I laughed inside.
I don’t have that competitive streak. I just like swimming and just carried in at the same pace. He finished just in front of me and looked very happy. I guess we all need what we need as I turned round and came back the other way.

I’m not sure what I’m taking from any of it than I notice that I’m better at changing directions and creating the space I need than I think. Sometimes that strategy works as I see everyone following going up one way as I have a clear path ahead going back. It feels nice. I’m able to switch off in those moments and feel free to swim in my own way without having to worry about anyone else.
Swim for thought 💭

Thoughts from an early morning swinging hammock

I love the early morning. It’s once again become my salvation as I swing on the hammock that looks so good… as if it’s been to the Bahamas for a month. Standing so proudly against all those beautifully revitalised emerald green leaves from all the rain.
I moved my umbrella over a little. I sit here in the morning rain or shine.

God I love the rain. I’ve said it before, it’s old news but I really do.
I have a selection of umbrellas that I’ve picked up at different times. I just like them. Not the practical sort that sit in my bags for work. But the ones that stand by the door. Not efficient in being able to fold and put in your bag but they just have something more special about them.
My favourite one is a bright red umbrella with a red handle and black and white stripes underneath, that I see if I look up. It feels so Parisian.
I used it yesterday as I took two walks to the shops with my girl. Once to pick up my new books and order another two more recommended by two friends. I plan on reading all of them, plus two my friends gave me, over the summer.
Hopefully finding some days to myself amongst some various plans that my girl has now made.
Each of them a dilemma when they come closer but with encouragement she enjoys when she gets there . As well as days when she works at the cafe. That helps her too. She likes the structure. Right now my previously very confident and independent girl has lost so much of both. A massive loss of confidence in her ability to make choices. Even the simplest decisions.
Repetition as we try to unscramble them when she gets Overwhelmed. None of it life changing. Simple little things. My “make it up as you go along” version coming into its own for once against the planner who struggles more with change and currently needs to be in control of everything.
Control and loss being the key words at the moment. I won’t lie. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. One because she’s my girl and it is just so horrible to watch someone you love struggle and hurt herself in this way.
But also because I feel like I need to be “on it” all the time. There is very little respite. She is very needy right now.
Giving her space but finding her looking for me wherever I am.
It is tiring and she is aware of that. Beyond her moments of anger and frustration and other times a deep sadness, I feel her love with such a power. I feel so connected to her even beyond our normal. It can feel hard to differentiate what’s hers and what’s mine at times.
She likes the security we share in a home she has always been in.
At this moment I never felt so relieved in working so hard to keep hold of that. I feel both of our versions of the fall out from all the chaos and difficulties. It’s been a tough couple of years.

Over and over again I question my decisions and actions . But always coming back to the same. I did my best in it all.
And I can only deal with what is in front of me now.
Doing my very best in that.
And secure in the knowledge that I have always been right there for her the whole way along. Trying to protect her from the chaos and sadness that has swirled. But she’s a human. She has felt it along with all her own changes beyond.

As I am writing this I heard a little thud on the window and a little garden bird (a baby great tit) fell onto the paving stones in front of me. I got straight up to help it. Giving it some water and some crumbs whilst thinking about how to keep it safe from the crow that looked it was ready to pounce on it. “It’s ok you’re safe with me” I said. I won’t leave your side. It let me get so close to it. A little concussed I think. 15 minutes later it flew up to meet its mum.
I looked up their symbolism. Love hope and faith.
Do I imagine it when these things happen in these moments. Do I see what I want to see or are they messages from the universe, sent by those that care about me. Whatever the truth I feel them.
I need them right now.
I took a photo of the little bird. A name that was once given to me by another friend from my past.

We also yesterday went to pick up cocoa powder for a devils cake we decided to bake together.
Even if she didn’t eat it there felt something good in just the process of baking it.
We ended up taking some to her friend and her family who are currently isolating.
That same little friend brought flowers when my girls grandad died.
I love their old style care.
We were too full up from a dinner we cooked together. Chicken, dauphinois potatoes and brocolli and carrots. It was delicious. She was then upset that she had eaten too much and that she didn’t just have a piece of chocolate cake instead. “We can have it tomorrow” I said
I stroked her hair all night until we went to bed.
Another small victory in her eating a full meal. I hold on to all of those.
But I can’t tell you how sad it makes me to see her like this.
Sometimes I find it so hard and exhausting but I just keep trying my best.
“ I believe in you” I tell her.
I believe in both of us.
Extra support coming on Monday.

Thinking of food reminds me how much I love the images that come through on pretty much a daily basis of various dishes from different places.
I quite like that they don’t have recipes.
Just an image. This is what it looks like. Now you imagine what it might taste like. Sometimes they tap into something of my world like the ham and cheese burger or the baguette boats.
Just an image. Nothing surrounding it.
I really like them.
I receive a variety of different images from my friend K. Always relevant in that moment. They make such a difference to my world without any words. But I love hearing her version of them.
Get that same feeling with a different version in images of places around the world.
Quite often remote, hidden and empty spaces. I love them too.
Falling in love with a red spiral staircase surrounded by books with light coming through a stained glass window. It had such a beautifully romantic feel to it against the pure pleasure of a jacuzzi on some decking next to the sea where you could feel water cascading over you as a relief from the heat. A strand to inspire dreaming of travels.
But the narrow street in France hit some kind of nerve.
I think because of the various thoughts my friend shared with me that then left me questionning myself and the choices i make.
Joining in or being left behind. It wasn’t so much about being left behind. In those first five years with my girl
I was completely left behind. People and Technology moved on without me. I was no longer part of the world they inhabited. My world held no interest to them. I was playing in boxes and having tea parties with all our teddy bear friends.
When I returned to work my history of high pressure and large responsibility roles in big organisations counted for nothing.
No one cared. Can you use Microsoft office? Do you have a degree? No on both counts. In that case go away.
I had to start from scratch again.
Working part time to begin with opening the post. Literally that is exactly what I did. Hundreds of envelopes and a letter opener. Slice slice slice.
And then dividing the contents into two piles.
But I loved the chats with others every morning. Another random bunch made mainly of students and old timers.
There was a lovely comradeship between us.
One of them was a jobbing actor. Went to see him when he was moved up from understudy to one of the main parts for a night in The 39 Steps in the west end. Such a nice unassuming fella.
He liked my Enemy cd as I would often drop him to the station on my way home. I wonder what he is doing now? Words I say every now and then about random people I liked. He was one of those people I met along the way who saw beyond the job you do. Talked to me beyond being the letter opener. Not a pretentious bone in his body. I wonder if that’s because he was northern?!

I gradually over time worked my way back into a job with more responsibility. But never interested in managing anyone else again or progressing high up the ladder. I only wish to be in charge of myself.

In the right places I love joining in. I’m a really friendly person who loves to chat.
I loved that place. It was my favourite of anywhere I’ve ever worked. Would never have left had it not been for those dragons.

I actually question often my reasons for not joining in with the new mediums of connection that everyone uses now.
I have joined in with lots of other things without a single thought.
I think perhaps because I’ve never really had time and I like my anonymity. I joined linked in because it was work related and I did find a new job on there.
But the social stuff I’ve never bothered with. I suppose I’ve never felt a need. I question it. But find it difficult to see what it would give me.
And too many work online meetings to wish to spend my free time on those. I just find that stuff draining. Computers equals work to me.
And i guess as It becomes this monster that seems to be in control of everything I feel less inclined to be involved. I’ve never much liked anything that makes itself the majority.
Besides those old timers who don’t have access but I bump into in the coop provide something more in those brief encounters. I’ve always loved an oldie. I’ll be one, one day.
But that picture of the narrow street made me question my openness.
Even though I’ve always felt very open to so much in this life. And yet am I being narrow?
I love those images on those blogs but I guess I like the anonymity of it.
I often wonder who posts them and that very secret and unknown element is part of the wonder.
I don’t know the answer to the question posed by another but has been on my mind ever since.
I suppose I just haven’t felt a great need or desire for it.
I know I read an article that said it you aren’t on there and don’t join in then it is as good as not existing in this world.

As I sit on the swinging chairi that is soaking wet, as it soaks through my shorts I find myself not noticing beyond the first couple seconds.
Instead I just feel that moment of stillness before the day begins when I feel rooted to a spot and can just feel who I am inside.
Less dreaming but more alone in my tiny quiet insignificant and invisible space in this world. Just existing.
Before life requires something more.

Its just a moment of peace as I prepare myself for another day where I might help someone I love to find her smile again.
She has such a beautiful smile ❤️
The sort that when we find it will make me smile too.

Diary of Small Changes … Day 11

I listened to this song last night after sitting in the forest with my girl as we shared over a bottle of wine. Girl to Girl .. Woman to Woman.
Feeling like I turned a little corner in finally understanding a little more in where she is at and where her sadness lies.
All of it steeped in so much loss.
Silence and whispers and tears. Not that gushing variety but the type that Is so controlled on the surface but inside felt like an explosion of all that pain and sadness that sits inside her as a few tears ran down her face behind her sunglasses.
I felt it and it cut through me in not being able to protect her from it.
Tears that held so much in so little as I Istroked her hand. Her face showing all the pain of sadness she is trying to hold.

My own pain in not being able to scoop it all out of her so she doesn’t have to feel it anymore.
Feeling helpless in that.

Instead just sharing my versions of similar with her with honesty and openness which prompted her to share more of hers.

It was so honest and heartfelt with such a deep connection that held all of our sadness.
A connection in sadness with someone that you truly love is filled with so much strength and love and trust.
Being able to cut open your wound and show it to someone you know who truly loves and cares about you is just so real.

Sadness isn’t something you can just fix. It takes time. Has to run in its own course.
I don’t mind swimming in it with her or her swimming with me in mine.
A plaster is just a way to keep going.
Whereas the real healing can only start when you allow yourself to really feel it. And it’s painful and tiring and makes you feel rubbish.
But you don’t have to be alone in that. Sadness shared with Sadness is sometimes easier than sadness shared with happy.

I felt so lucky last night to have that connection with her. 19 years in the building from the moment she was a baby in my arms looking into each other’s eyes in the quietness of night as I would stroke her hand to soothe her to sleep.
For a moment like last night when she needed less of a mum but more of a friend. Her words not mine.

No clever words spoken, no silences in the right moment or well thought out questions.
Just pure love and care that can’t fix it but could most certainly leave me feeling it in a way she needed me to.
As we were packing up we hugged and she said that she was glad I was her friend and proud of me for everything I had done over the past two years and before.
In an instant my feelings of whether all those decisions and struggles were in vain were rescinded. I knew inside in my heart that I had made the right choices for the right reasons in those moments despite the costs to my own wellbeing and happiness but to hear it from her gave me the validation I needed.
It could not have come from anywhere else.
All those sacrifices and losses in order to try to protect her and provide future security.

She laughed for the rest of the evening when we got home and had our baguettes 😊

Today with a lighter feel to her. We are only at the beginning I know but as the song goes it was a very good place to start.

Just as I finished writing she walked through the garden like a sunny little vision carrying red roses for me.
“Thanks for being so nice to me”
“You’re my girl. What else would I be.
I love you. ❤️