203 weeks and 5 days | Going Grey

‘Going Grey’ was the phrase on my lips this weekend.

I’d decided late on Friday night that I was going to repaint the snug.

Again.

I’d only painted it just before Christmas but the colour just didn’t suit.

And hey. It’s only paint at the end of the day. I’ve never been one for shying away from trying new colours.

If it doesn’t work, paint over it.

So — instead of a pale silver (that did the room no favours at all) —  I decided on the darkest, moodiest charcoal grey instead.

My boy and I make a great team — especially when it comes to painting and decorating. I am responsible for cutting in with a paintbrush whilst he fills in the middle with a roller.

We adopted those roles so naturally. I don’t remember there ever being a discussion — we just started out that way. And here we are, twenty years on, doing the same thing.

Twenty years on.

Twenty.

A whole lifetime.

And here-in lies the thing that had been bugging me since my birthday last week.

I am getting old.

Going Grey
Going grey: painting the walls to match my hair!
Going Grey
In love with the colour — Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball

My skin is beginning to show signs of age.

And, like the walls of our snug, my hair is going grey.

But the visible signs of ageing are not really the thing that was upsetting me. Odd that when you start talking about ‘growing old’ everyone just assumes you’re talking about looks.

I’d posted a pic on Instagram early on Saturday morning.

Nothing unusual about that. It was a normal pic — nothing special — just a picture of me in my lovely new coat, that my boy had bought for my birthday.

But as I’d posted it — instead of a little caption about my coat — I’d gone off on a bit of a tangent and ended up writing about how I was feeling.

This prompted a fantastic response on my Facebook and Instagram threads. Lovely friends trying to allay my fears; reassure me that I didn’t look my age.

But it really, really wasn’t anything about looks.

The post was written in fear — rather than pride. Fear of the future. Fear of losing my parents — Richard’s parents. The dread of losing the love of my life. Anxiety of not being around for my own beautiful boys.

Going Grey
My gorgeous baby
Going Grey
Love this cheeky little face!

My birthday — instead of promoting joy and excitement — had thrown up so many negative thoughts.

I don’t look my age. And I certainly don’t feel my age. But chronologically — and biologically — I am that age.

But I am not ready to be any older. Not just yet.

I want things to stay exactly as they are. And this is the crux of the matter.

Things are perfect at the moment. My boy and I are so happy. We have each other; our health. We have our beloved sons; who we’d waited so patiently for.

We both still have both of our parents. All of our siblings.

We both have our own businesses — careers that we love. Working for yourself can be scary and unpredictable (especially at first) and for quite a few years money was very tight. But for the first time in ages we’re doing well financially.

Sure we could do with a bit of extra cash (who couldn’t?); but things are comfortable after a long time of scrimping and saving.

Life is good.

Life — for me — is perfect. There is nothing I want that would make it any better.

Apart from to stop time.

Going Grey
Roller-King
Going Grey
Edges-Queen

Things can change in a heartbeat. I know this only too well, through losing my friend.

But — death aside — one of the things I’d questioned, in my little rambling Instagram post, was whether I’ll actually ever begin to feel my age? I certainly do not feel as though I’m in my mid-forties, that’s for sure.

In my head, I’m still twenty eight.

Which brings me on to an interesting theory, flagged up by one of my friends in response to my question. Which would certainly explain why I feel the age I do.

He said that the disparity between chronological and mental age usually starts at around the age of eight, when we start to think of ourselves as older than we are; a fourteen year old thinking they’re eighteen for example.

The gap begins to close and at the age of twenty-five — or thereabouts — our body and mind finally sync and we feel our age.

Hurrah!

Although — don’t get too excited.

After that, the gap in chronological and perceived age starts to grow apart in the other direction. By our early thirties there is already a noticeable difference by just a few years. The gap continues to grow and those who are sixty-five have a perceived age of fifty.

Which is how he knows about this stuff.

He works for a funeral plan company and said that although they market their funeral plans to the over fifties, they know full well that the majority of people don’t even begin researching them until they’re sixty five. As that is when they think they are old enough to start looking at those sort of things.

He finished off by saying.

We’ll always be much younger in mind than body. All we can do is to try our very best to live young too.

Amen to that.

And so endeth the tale of ‘going grey’.

The snug looks amazing in it’s new shade by the way. And I feel better, having spent a full and happy weekend surrounded by friends and family. My fears have been shelved.

Until next birthday.

And the moral of the story is, no matter how old your birth certificate says you are, unless you’re twenty-five you probably won’t feel your age.

Going Grey
So the walls may be going grey but our life is still full of colour

Styling The Seasons — May

Forget-Me-Not-book

At the beginning of this month I felt so ridiculously bogged down by everything.

Too much to do and not enough time. And the inability to get a grip on the situation — and manage my time effectively — was addling my brain and making me feel a bit miserable.

Amazingly my lovely friend Leigh — who writes the award winning blog Headspace Perspective — is also a qualified life coach and had just set up a new business called Bright Mind Spirit. She’d offered a handful of bloggers an hour long session each and I was lucky enough to be picked.

She told me that coaching can often show us that we have the answers to our own problems.

‘Stepping out of our everyday maelstrom will help us to see what’s what.’

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

We discussed so many things and at the end of the session my head felt much clearer.

It was like mentally trying to unravel a knotted and tangled ball of string. Initially, I had no idea where to even start.

But throughout the session, everything started to become a little clearer and I could see that making small changes would make the world of difference to my work/life balance.

I made promises to be a little kinder to myself — cut myself some slack — and take time-out of my working week to occasionally s.t.o.p.

Take a walk.

Practice my calligraphy.

Read a book.

Paint a picture.

So, as May has tumbled on, I have done exactly that.

My workload hasn’t lessened but I’ve certainly felt as though I have a better handle on everything. Putting work aside for half an hour, a couple of times a week, has given me a little more clarity.

Given me time to breathe and take stock.

And my styling the seasons post this month is sort of a bi-product of that.

Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May

I picked some Forget-Me-Nots a few days ago — put them in a little bottle of water and popped them on a shelf.

They’re so pretty. Papery thin; sky blue and lilac petals. Some of them tinged with blush pink or mauve. A golden eye in the centre of each flower, almost like a little star.

I decided to paint them.

I’ll never be a good painter but I love the process. So nice to focus your mind and concentrate on the brush strokes. Lovely to watch how the paint merges with the water and settles into the paper.

Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May

It’s a great way of pushing out unwanted thoughts and giving your mind a little breather.

And as I sat there, concentrating on the little flowers and their spindly stems, I thought about the last few weeks.

I remembered that this month marks the first anniversary of my nana’s death. And in just four day’s time, it will be the fifth anniversary of my lovely grandad’s passing.

And that same date marks a full twenty years — to the day — that my beautiful boy and I got together.

Twenty years!!!!

And it struck me that it’s the month of May — which was my Nana’s middle name — and I’m painting Forget-Me-Nots and thinking about them.

Such lovely symmetry.

Styling The Seasons | May
Styling The Seasons | May

Many thanks to lovely Leigh for giving up an hour of her time and, in doing so, giving me back my perspective. If you feel as though you could do with a little bit of help finding your focus, pop along to Bright Mind Spirit and have a chat with her. I highly recommend it.

Linking up with Katy (Apartment Apothecary) and Charlotte (Lotts and Lots) for #StylingTheSeasons

 

129 weeks and 5 days | Cherish the Ordinary

This weekend something happened.

One of my school friends — a girl who had been one of my very best friends in the 6th form — died.

42 years old. Vibrant, funny, beautiful. A wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend.

Gone. Just like that.

She’d been bravely battling cancer for months; I found out in January and she told me she’d been undergoing treatment since October last year. We haven’t seen each other for years but always kept in touch and messaged occasionally over Facebook and with written letters and cards. Particularly over these last few months.

Words of positivity and hope (her) and encouragement and support (me).

It’s so dreadfully sad. I cried buckets on Friday night; for her, her husband, her children.

Cherish the ordinary.

This is the second, relatively young, person I know to have lost their lives to cancer this year. Their journeys were totally different but the outcomes, tragically, the same.

Another similarity I noted was that, once these two people found out about their illnesses, nothing was the same from that point on and their decline was relatively rapid.

‘Normal’ life went out the window and was replaced by an ominous merry-go-round of tests, consultant’s appointments, days in hospital, weeks in a hospice.

And it struck me that our lives can change, literally, in a heartbeat. Something may happen to spin us off the path we’re treading and our lives can alter dramatically. I’m not just talking about illness but a change in circumstance; redundancy, divorce — war even.

cherish the ordinary

Ordinary life is something to be cherished and revered.

Simple everyday things — walking to post a letter, the big supermarket shop, cleaning, mowing the lawn, fixing a picture frame — may seem mundane but, no doubt, if the ability to do those things was taken away we’d give anything to have it all back.

Exactly as it once was.

There are so many folk striving for something better, something different — extraordinary even. Thrill seekers, adventurers, people who are just not content with their lot and are tempted by the mirage of lush, green grass on the other side.

And, in their determination to alter their lives, they may be missing out on some of the most perfect, beautiful moments. Ordinary doesn’t necessarily mean boring. Ordinary can be the most amazing times of our lives.

‘Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.’

 

William Martin

In memory of my beautiful friend Jenni Brindley-Pye who sadly passed away on Friday. Rest in peace lovely girl. You may have gone but you’ll never be forgotten.

 

115 weeks and 4 days | Me and Mine {May}

May. What a mixed month, for me and mine.

The weather’s been better, we’ve all been better, plus there have been lots of lovely things going over the last thirty one days.

This month’s photos of the four of us were taken on the way to a friend’s house for supper. We saw a golden field and — as we were all nicely coordinating with it — decided to stop and take our family photo!!

They’re not the best pics ever. The light was poor and, as we only had my phone, the shots are a bit grainy plus being whisked out of the car to stand in a field of Rape flowers wasn’t on the twin’s agenda and — you can see by their faces — they were not at all impressed.

Me_and_Mine_May3

Me_and_Mine_May2

We’ve given Dolly — our caravan — her first outing of the year and had a fabulous little camping weekend, in celebration of a couple of our dear friends turning yet another year older.

We’ve spent practically every weekend entertaining – or being entertained by — various friends or family.

There have been lots of days out; and some happy days spent at home too, just pottering about.

I even won a prize! I’d entered a blog post into a competition which asked ‘what does the word Home mean to you?’ and I’d designed a little printable to go with my entry. Unbelievably last week I had a tweet to say that I’d won!

But there’s also been sadness and a little bit of heartbreak.

My nana passed away a couple of weekends ago and we had the funeral last week, so that was very, very sad. She was the last of my grandparents and it just seems really weird — and so incredibly tragic — that an entire generation of our family has now gone.

It makes me really appreciate what I have and also — at this age — it makes me question my own mortality. Not a comfortable thought. It comes to us all eventually, doesn’t it, but we’re never fully prepared when we have to say goodbye to someone we love.

So as well as the pics of the four of us, I have included some other ‘me and mine’ photographs. Weirdly, they were taken exactly two years tomorrow. The Twinkles were just eleven weeks old and they were meeting their great grandmother — my nana — for the very first time.

These shots make me feel sad and happy. Happy that my boys actually got to meet one of their great-grandparents but very sad that they’ll never get to know her. She’ll just be a lady in a photograph who they won’t remember.

That said, I’ll remember her and — through my stories and my memories — hopefully they’ll feel like they knew her too.

Me_and_Mine
Meeting Bertie for the first time — named after her husband :)
Me_and_Mine_May4
Such a special day (my nana looks tiny in these pics!)
Me_and_Mine_May5
Me and Mine — the four of us with my nan and my own mummy
Me_and_Mine_May7
My nana laughing — as I will always remember her

So just to re-cap for me and mine in May.

This month’s highs ~
• Taking Dolly out for our first camping weekend of the year.
• Winning a prize in a competition!
• Spending lovely weekends, mostly in the garden, with our nearest and dearest.
• Setting up my brand new homes blog hop with my lovely friend Jess!
• Seeing my cousins — and their children — last week at nan’s funeral.

This month’s lows ~
• Losing our lovely nana — the boys’ great grandmother.

Gone but never ever forgotten, may she rest in peace with her beloved husband; my grandad Bert.