Showing posts with label Reflection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reflection. Show all posts

Friday, 8 January 2016

Time to Commit

Walking alone today on a rare clear, sunny but very cold winter's day, with our young yellow Labrador, was a good opportunity for contemplation as another year begins its cycle.  Christmas already seems a distant memory as our lovely tree stands naked, propped against the brown bin, waiting to be recycled, which is the best we can offer in return for bringing a little magic into our home.  I do hate putting Christmas away and yet there is something liberating about the space created.  The almost empty calendar is pinned up in the kitchen waiting to be filled with whatever form our lives will take this year, a blank page waiting for its fill of the special and not so special occasions which make up a life.  

Last year was a very special year as we finally celebrated our marriage and also witnessed my youngest stepson marry his girlfriend of the last eight years.  There was, sadly, my father-in-law's funeral, attended by most of his steadily increasing family - a fine testament to his life but a sad loss to those who knew him. There is another big family wedding already booked in for June this year, my step-daughter, and another engagement has just been announced.  Perhaps there will be more grandchildren soon - an empty nest and no grandchild of my own yet is both an opportunity and a vacuum.

But, as I walked through the empty Suffolk countryside this morning, what was really on my mind was the need to commit.  Our house has been on and off the market for most of the last two years as we try and work out how it is we want to live, what is important to us, what is possible and what is just an impossible dream. Moving to Suffolk over 6 years ago, after more than 20 years living and raising my children on the Kent/Sussex border, has been a mixed experience and I have struggled to settle here.  

We have come to love this strange, relatively empty and unspoilt county with its huge skies and stunning coast line, which we were lucky enough to explore on our boat when we kept it here.  The rivers are beautiful and we appreciate the sense of space, the beautifully painted houses, the ancient towns and villages which nestle in the valleys and the warmth and friendliness of the people who make their lives here.  What I have missed, though, are the deep connections I formed during those years of school runs, plays, matches, parents' evenings, putting down deep roots in a community which takes a long time.  So, for over a year, we have really explored the possibility of going back to Kent/East Sussex and have spent a lot of time visiting the area, catching up with old friends, trying to decide if this is a real possibility or if life has just moved on too far, whether we are just chasing a dream and letting go of something that has real value to us here.  


Boxford
Walberswick
Clare
Snape
Aldeburgh
The Stour
The Orwell at Pin Mill
Butt & Oyster
Ponies at Pin Mill
 There are, of course, options three and four! Renting out our house and renting another, almost anywhere, for a year and really shaking things up.  The Ari├Ęge beckons... I have always dreamed of living in France for a while.  Or we could move almost anywhere else in the country - the Yorkshire Dales are proving a big draw at the moment as long as there isn't a river nearby.  

One way or another, the challenge this year is to commit and then to make whatever we decide to do be the right choice.  

What challenges do you face this year, what decisions and life events are on the horizon?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

But I had other plans!

The years fly by. The clocks have gone back, hallowe'en and bonfire night are fading memories and it is officially open season on Christmas in the shops, although last Christmas still seems very fresh in my mind. Where does the time go?

Every year is a new chapter, a clean page with nothing yet written/scribbled on it, an empty calendar and diary to fill up, a new list of things I would like to do, achieve, finish, start, and the inevitable fact that life will take its own course no matter how I try to impose my own agenda upon it. As John Lennon so famously said "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."


The seasons come and go, the birthdays become increasingly improbable and I can start to look back on the life already lived, the two thirds of life I have already had if I am lucky? enough to live out my natural life span and I can start to see the shape of my life and also the unexpectedness of it. Life is like a river, it picks you up and sweeps you along. I wonder where it will set me down next?


So, as the year winds down, I am thinking about what has happened, the things which have mattered to me, the highs and lows. This has been a year of painful and stressful dental and oral surgery which is now thankfully coming to an end. Sometimes it feels that life is the bits I squeeze in between sessions in the dentist's chair! There are worse things.

My partner's father is adjusting to the changes in his life, the loss of his independence, although it seems unlikely he will ever be able to go home again. More frail than ever, he is still hanging in there. It's difficult.


The children are all doing OK and that is the best thing. They are all finding their paths in life, the things and people they need to make it satisfying, riding the tiger. Now that summer is over they are making plans to visit, spend some time with us, although Christmas is going to be very different this year as they redefine how they want to spend their holiday. We might even have Christmas off for the first time in over thirty years. 


The house has been on the market most of this year but despite receiving an offer for it, we haven't sold. There is still uncertainty about where and how we want to live and I think we need to spend more time researching. Getting it wrong is an expensive mistake.

Sailing into Venice and Stockholm has been memorable, not always for the right reasons. The sea can be treacherous and should never be under-estimated - it could easily have been us, as well as our lunch, that ended up in the sea.  Our own small boat is over-wintering near Stockholm and I am looking forward to spending more time in Sweden and possibly Finland next year. I hope we will revisit Venice too, but the next trip will not involve living on a small boat with four other people and potential near-death incidents! 

What sort of year have you had so far? Did it go the way you hoped?  What are your hopes and dreams for next year?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

"What will you do now?"

"What will you do now with the gift of your left life?"

Such a lovely evocative line from a Carol Ann Duffy poem.  She has such a spare way with words and chooses and places them so beautifully.

And reading this made me think about my own left life, the children having grown and flown the nest, busy with their own lives, and my mother having recently died.  This has been a time of great change for me and a chance to reflect, reassess where I am, where I want to be, what I will do now.  What really matters.

I have loved being a mother.  For me, it has been the best thing in my life and, now that I find myself only a small part of my children's lives, it is hard to find something meaningful to fill the huge space they have left behind in mine.  I could spend hours listing the things I miss about having my sons living at home with me.  Not that I would want them at home all the time now that they are young adults - they need to have their own lives and I need to have mine.  Nor has it always been easy; far from it! Yet somehow the only time I really feel whole again, and at peace, is when they are here with me, chatting and laughing in the kitchen while I cook at meal for us all, bake a cake I know they like, feel the warmth of that primeval relationship we only ever have with the people to whom we have given birth.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

"It's coming near Christmas..."

"It's coming near Christmas, they're cuttin down trees
They're puttin up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace".

Joni Mitchell 



There's always magic in the air at Christmas.  I love to think of people through the ages celebrating the winter solstice in one way or another, from the ancient pagan tradition to our more recent Christian era.  Despite the commercialisation, it is a wonderful occasion to have a family get-together, share a feast, the warmth of our homes and the giving and receiving of gifts.  I cannot think of a better way to distract us all from what can be a rather depressing and miserable time of year, the short days and often dank weather.  I love the sense of anticipation and goodwill, the lights going up on trees in houses and gardens, the bustle of Christmas markets and the smells of the Christmas cooking wafting through the house. 


And yet, increasingly as time passes, there is such a complex layer of emotions simmering away beneath the surface and I think this is particularly the case where marriages have broken down and families have been fractured and reconstituted.  More than anything, I miss my small sons and their joy and excitement at this time of year, the carol concerts and nativity plays that used to fill my days, whilst at the same time I look forward to seeing the grown-up versions of two of my three sons and spending some time with them; the youngest, sadly, having decided not to join us this year.  My partner, too, misses the family Christmases he shared with his own children when they were an intact family and from which he is now excluded, even as we prepare for them to come and visit on Christmas Eve,  knowing that they will be leaving early on Christmas morning to spend the rest of the holiday with their own mother and her new husband.  


And, of course, this is the first Christmas without my mother.  Bittersweet.


Life is full of challenges and changes, adjustments and adaptations, the weft and the warp. Christmas puts our lives under a microscope and exposes the flaws as well as the beauty of what we create.  It is a time of joy as well as sadness, but this Christmas I hope, mostly joy.

 

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Getting There... maybe

I'm sitting here alone in my house tonight with a glass of Kentish white wine and a frittata, made with vegetables from a neighbour's garden.  I bartered the vegetables for a pot of the marmalade I make every January, a popular present.  Yesterday afternoon was spent sitting in the garden of another neighbour in the village, together with the latest additions to the next generation.  Tomorrow my next door neighbour and I are planning a blackberrying expedition in the country lanes that surround the village.



It's been just over a year now since my partner and I made the move from Kent to Suffolk and it's been a challenging and sometimes fraught time.  I have often been horribly homesick for my old life and familiar people and places, but having decided to leave my comfort zone, I am slowly beginning to reap the rewards. Friendships take time to grow, but there are some promising beginnings.



Today was spent sorting out the garden, a new challenge for me after years of living in rented houses.  It is a continual puzzle to me, what should go, what to keep, what will thrive and where.  There have been some successes and some ignominious failures. I am currently trying to work out what to grow beside my pink climbing rose, now planted in the courtyard outside the kitchen - should it be cat mint, lavender or a deep blue Hebe?  And what will do best in the very dry corner of the bed by the front door when the Cosmos has finished?  I'm tempted by a deep red lavatera framing the herbs - the silver thyme I planted there is spreading itself very nicely indeed. There is so much more to do, so many plans to make, but it's been a good first year and I'm enjoying myself, rootling around deep in the Suffolk soil.  It certainly keeps me grounded.




My peaceful time will end tomorrow, as it should.  I really wouldn't enjoy it so much if I had too much of it.  My youngest son, home from university for the summer, will be returning from his visit to his father in London, soon to be joined by my oldest son and his girlfriend, staying for a couple of days rest and relaxation - them, not me!  Then it's off to Holland on the ferry to join my partner, who took the boat over yesterday, for a week or two of cruising the Dutch canals and inland seas before it's back to earth with a bump and perhaps an end of summer Pimm's party for all our new friends and neighbours.