A kingdom asunder

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I took this photo from a taxi window, speeding home one day last week. There’s St. Paul’s, and Tower 42, and the Cheese Grater, and the Walkie Talkie, and just out of frame is the Shard. I will never get over the fact that I live in London. Every day, I wake up feeling lucky. Blessed. This city has been good to me and my family.

But after the #Brexit vote last week, what’s abundantly evident is that London, my city, my home, might exist in a bubble. That we in London are unaware of how the rest of England feels, or what privations it suffers.

This country which has been my home, which welcomed me, sheltered me, brought me my husband, raised my child, this amazing kingdom, is torn in two, rent asunder, friend against friend, family against family, with no clear solution in sight.

My position as an EEA national in the UK is up in the air – will I be allowed to stay? will I have to jump through any number of hoops? should I register as a Qualified Person? So many questions, very few answers. To say I’m emotional about this would be an understatement. I’m sad and I’ve cried more times than I’d like to admit.

So today, knowing my penchant for planning, and my need for strategy A, B, C, D and E, Husband and I sat down over breakfast and quietly talked through our options. If we have to leave, we want to do it on our terms. First world problems, right? We now have a rough idea what our fallback plans are, and I am relatively at peace with these (after a few more tears).

I’m still sad for the people of the kingdom who are in limbo, with no idea what’s coming next, and no idea what their long and short-term future looks like. The politicians in this nation owe their people some solid answers and some solid action and SOON.

 

 

The courage to be imperfect

wpid-img_20150825_141358.jpgIf you read my post Wholehearted last year, you will know that my favourite quotes and talks on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame come from Dr. Brené Brown, research professor and author of Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong.

Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 19 million views.

Here are some of her quotes which really resonate with me:

The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.

‘Crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.

I can encourage my daughter to love her body, but what really matters are the observations she makes about my relationship with my own body.

Are you a Brené Brown fan? Have you watched her TEDx talk? What did you believe about vulnerability and being vulnerable?

Yule 2015 – mellow sounds

mellowIf you’re needing something less upbeat and my sugar-happy tunes aren’t doing it for ya,  here are some of my favourite songs for darker nights…

  1. Song for a Winter’s Night – Sarah McLachlan
  2. One Little Christmas Tree – Stevie Wonder
  3. Rudy – The Be Good Tanyas
  4. Mistletoe – Colbie Caillat
  5. The Holly & The Ivy – David Francey
  6. O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
  7. Auld Lang Syne – Mairi Cam
  8. Christmas Must Be Tonight – The Band
  9. Maybe this Christmas – Ron Sexsmith
  10. Christmas Song – Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
  11. Christmas Day – Dido
  12. Long December – Counting Crows
  13. Christmas For Two – Sixpence None The Richer

Between Wednesday & Friday, I organised and managed the wrapping, packing and despatch of over 400 copies of the January edition of the magazine. It came down to the wire but we made it with ten minutes to spare. Lovely blogger friends, if I have a crazy idea like this next year, please remind me AND STOP ME! 🙂

‘Tis the season of conflict

Sorry, folks. I’ve had enough. Every which way I turn, I’m being bombarded with another message or update of some disaster, man-made or otherwise. There are children freezing and IMAG0397starving, waiting to be allowed in to Europe, having left behind everything in the homelands. There are children freezing and starving in the UK, because the current party in power has made the poor, poorer and the
rich, richer. The shootings in Paris. The shootings in America. The floods in India. I’ve had to take a break from almost all media, social or otherwise, to not fall down a crazy panic-anxiety-depression spiral. I’ve been knitting myself calm. I’ve worked on my Pinterest Christmas board. I have drunk a LOT of herbal teas.

But I still get requests for aid in my inbox and by snail mail. And I feel guilt. So much guilt. For being able to afford a decent Christmas. For being able to afford to have a holiday at Christmas. For being safe. And warm. And I’ve had just about enough guilt now.

I love this time of year. I love the lights, and the silver and gold, and just the wonderful slow-down (in my family). We’ve never been big on the gift-giving tradition as a family, but when it comes to food and vegging out with movies, we do that like champs for the two weeks between 18 December and New Year’s Day. I cannot and will not give up my joy in these moments.

So what’s the alternative? I will continue to give to charity via my bank account every month, but this holiday season, DD & I have hatched more immediate & productive plan. DD gets a visit from the Icelandic Yule lads every night beginning on 12 December. They always leave her something little in her sock, like fun stickers, or a lip balm, or a bookmark. This year, we’re going to imitate the Yule lads. We’re going fill a box (or maybe boxes) with seasonal goodies (they have to be dried or canned, so we’ll have to get creative), and take it to our local food bank so another family can enjoy a good Christmas, too. I show my love by feeding people, so this idea makes perfect sense to me. Doesn’t charity begin at home?

How are you handling all the dire news? Do you ever feel completely helpless and hopeless about the state of the world? How do you put things in perspective for yourself? For your children?

Autumn Falling…

I don’t know about the weather where you are, but here in London, it’s taken a decidedly autumnal turn early. Waaaaay early. So early I wasn’t ready. And I’m ALWAYS ready. Maybe this was the trigger to feeling totally off-kilter this last week.

I spent the week at work plugged into my headphones and working away, working through the blahs (or just ignoring them). It was enough to concern a few colleagues. I’ve earned the reputation of being somewhat of a cheerful soul (say what?) and they sensed I was not myself. Friday, I had the office all to myself and when you’re in a small open-plan office, this is a real luxury. So I revelled in my aloneness and decided I was not going to push it over the weekend. I was going to just relax, and read, and remember all the reasons why I love autumn so much.

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Jumpers. The colour orange. New boots. Mulled drinks. Stews. The smell of wood fires. Toffee apples. Pumpkin anything. Onion soup. Braised red cabbage & apple. Knitting projects. Crunchy leaves.

(My favourite memory of crunchy leaves is the boxful I was sent from a friend at Smith College in Massachusetts. It was my first autumn in New Orleans and let me tell ya, autumn really isn’t a season there. There are lots of things I love about NOLA but autumn isn’t one of them, so that boxful of leaves was the best care package this freshman could have received.)

I spent the weekend reading recipes, spiking my coffee with nutmeg, and mulling over what I should knit next. I’ve got a full-blown case of the warm and fuzzies now. The niggling grayness is hovering at the edges of my vision, but for now, I’m going to smother it in pumpkin spice.

How do you welcome autumn? What are your family traditions?

On Purpose

The end of Joey’s post stated: Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to share the purpose of your own life and what you’ll take home with you when you leave. ALL OF YOU ARE NOMINATED.

I accept the mission.

I’m starting a job tomorrow which everyone seems to think is ‘made for me’, but which is a total tectonic shift from my very corporate life of the last, well, for ever. Sure, I’ve worked in a few industries, most consistently finance, but this role feels like a step off a cliff. And there may or may not be a safety harness tethered to my ankle. That’s not strictly true, of course. I’m married to my bestie, and as much as he drives me crazy, he’s got my back. My daughter, my beautiful daughter, she’s got my back.

We’ve had a girly week together, because the husband is away on work. My entire universe has been brought down to her level. My life took on a new rhythm. Sleeping earlier, waking rested, giggling, laughing, going tech-free, talking about books, taking mad selfies, making root beer floats, dancing out to Stromae… and it made me wonder why we don’t do this more? I’ve been relaxed, and happy, and my husband has noticed this growing trend over the last few weeks. I’m coming to terms with the restrictions coeliac disease imposes on me, and trying to have some fun with it. So maybe I’m excavating my mission slowly. My aim for the next six months is to contribute and support this family without sacrificing my sanity (or morals).

No one in the world was ever you before, with your particular gifts and abilities and possibilities.

Long term, I’d like to be whole. Being healthy, or having some hold on it, makes me happy. Living a smaller life in terms of my footprint. Living a larger life in terms of moments and memories. Being able to help people when I can.

If you’re reading this, what’s your purpose, your mission? Will you share it?

Caffeine-free Coffeeshare #2

If we were having coffee, well, you’d be drinking coffee and I’d be drinking some delicious, fragrant Kusmi tea that the Breton Bestie brought me back from Paris. Two years in London and she still doesn’t trust the tea here. I’m delighted by her thoughtful gift, because as a newly-minted coeliac disease sufferer, I’m trying to be as kind as I can to my digestive self. Atoning for my previous gastronomic sins includes avoiding caffeinated drinks. It’s a small price to pay (or so I tell myself).

I’d tell you the other amusing conclusion from the labs done the other week is a shocking Vitamin D deficiency. As in, soft bones and teeth. Finally!! A sensible explanation for the creaking joints and cracked teeth (I’m sure grinding my teeth with stress didn’t help). So I am on mega-doses of Vitamin D to redress the imbalance. And I have to go sun myself for at least 10 minutes a day WITHOUT SUNSCREEN. Talk about living on the wild side! I intend to fully embrace this, once the English weather cooperates. Seriously though, when is this weather going to let up? Can we shunt some of this rain to California?

Speaking of California, David Anderson, a neurobiologist at CalTech, is attempting to create more specific treatments for psychiatric illnesses. How amazing would it be to walk through the rain with an umbrella, instead of feeling like you were stumbling through, slightly blind and bewildered, with a tarpaulin thrown over your head? Am I the only one who feels like this on meds? I can’t be! David’s research greatly excites me, for all the possibilities it opens up. Watch his TEDx talk here: 

I still have no clearer view on Bloglovin’ – check out all the comments on my last post and feel free to add your two cents/pence/pesos. I might just sign myself up and see if I can create a simple user guide, and work out the pros & cons. Anyone else want to join in?

What are your plans for the weekend? How are you feeling this week? Is it nearly summer or winter where you are?

Happiness is…

#Habits #happiness #quote

I’ve always feared my life was a carefully crafted house of cards, or Jenga blocks, waiting to crash about my ears at any second. Watching my daughter play the other day, I wondered: what if it’s not a house of cards? What if I’m more like a plant which needs hard pruning, before I can grow new ideas? 

With older plants (such as myself), severe pruning may be needed to remove old, worn-out growths (or ideas), or branches growing over windows (or thoughts blocking out light). Drastic shortening of long branches & removing sections of older stems may be necessary. My recovery will require the pruning of old patterns & beliefs. A careful approach is needed if larger branches are to be removed and where a branch is twisted, it may be necessary to trace back before removing it. See? Slow steps to recovery after a root-cause analysis. You’re aiming for a skeleton frame work of well-spaced branches, ready to shoot new buds & ideas, and develop new habits.

Last week, I was worried about my daughter being bullied. I got some incredible feedback from fellow bloggers. This week, the girls in question have started a club and excluded my daughter. She admits it stings, but she’s more relieved that she’s figured out how fickle friendships are at this stage. She’s 9 years old, and she’s figured this out? Instead of being angry, or sad, I’m so incredibly proud. She says she’s just going to make some more friends, expand her circle and keep having fun. Clearly, she saw these posters before I did! Her habit is happiness.

#happy #happiness #quote

Breathe deep and act normal

#panic #anxiety #depression

Possible trigger alert!

She felt hemmed in. Every second in this taxi was choking her. She could feel the sheen of sweat hovering over her skin. Her fingers tingled and twitched. She tried to breathe deeply, but the air was so thick. 

The driver was talking about the crowds, the traffic. Suggesting alternate routes. She could hear herself responding, Sure, whatever you think best. No, no rush.

Yes, there was a rush. Get me out. They passed a hospital. She looked longingly at it, picturing the cool white beds. Slightly starchy, rough sheets. Breathe in, breathe out. Flex the fingers. Wipe sweaty palms.

The traffic thins out, as the pain radiates from the epicentre of her chest. Can you crack ribs from this pain, like a stress fracture, she wondered? The feeling that she is about to tip over the edge dances on the fringes of her vision. 

Yes, thanks, up ahead on the left is fine, thanks. She falls out of the taxi like a limp noodle. Her throat hurts. Her teeth hurt. Has she been clenching her jaw again? Walk. Walk. Move forward. Say hello to the neighbour. Yes, lovely weather, isn’t it? 

Unlock door. Put bag & shoes away. Wash hands. Sip some stale water. Curl up in ball on the floor, and let the silent tears out. Home.

Whelmed Wednesday

I had one bad migraine over the weekend and now I think the hayfever meds are getting me down (looking piteous). I am not feeling ‘one with the words’ today, so I’m going to do my post in the form of interpretive dance (tries to choose music, set up webcam to record…)

Sod that, you’re just getting photos today.

Anthropologie mug

My new pretty mug…in my favourite colours!

No, it's NOT too big for my face!

Does this mug make my face look smaller? Score!

I baked banana bread this morning. Recipe to follow…perhaps in the form of dance. I think the ‘peel & mash banana’ bit could be loads of fun.

Fellow bloggers, how are you feeling? How do you lift yourself out of a case of the ‘blahs’?