When I take down the Christmas trappings and chuck the cards in to the recycle bin, I hold one back. This one I store with the tree decorations. That way, next December I will have it to hand when I set about composing my reply. My correspondent was the sweet and gentle suitor of a wonderful elderly neighbour. She died 7 years ago and this is a remanent of our friendship I suppose. Joan was quite disabled when she passed away age 84. Practically blind but loathe to admit it, she served me tea in china cups with red lipstick stains. We talked about her life as a single gal in London in the 50s’,60s’ etc and she was always eager to hear me read anything I had written or prose I had stumbled across. Her son went to drama college. How proud he made her taking the lead roles in Shakespeare productions. She couldn’t mask her disappointment when she recounted the steps that led him to leave the profession to get a ‘real job’ selling double glazing windows. When I left the street and moved in with my boyfriend I maintained the visits and calls but they were not so frequent and soon I had the distractions of a young family. My first ever letter from Geoff, her boyfriend of 50 years, was notice of her death and details of the service should I like to come along. There were 18 of us at the crematorium and I felt privileged to be in that intimate grouping. I was shocked to discover Joan’s age from the Eulogy – about 10 years older than I had reckoned. Geoff painted a wonderful picture of a wonderful woman. Her 16-year-old grand-daughter sang a haunting rendition of Over The Rainbow. In Geoff’s christmas card from 2009 he told me that Jessica had landed the role of Sophie in the West End production of Mama Mia.
Joan’s bequests included a wish for a bench in Kew and occasionally I get an update on its progress. Throughout the year on our outings to the Botanical gardens I find myself checking out the memorial plaques for Joan’s… Geoff tells me I could be waiting some time. It’s not as easy to realise as you might think.
So the way the card works – Geoff will wait until after he has received and read mine to send his to me. Then I sit on his greeting for almost a year before picking up the threads in the Christmas card I post back.
Christmas is full of traditions and this is one of mine.
I have felt held back by the memory of paths I’ve not walked, of leads I’ve not followed. But this very day as I thread treacle (just like I did yesterday and the day before) I actually don’t think that’s the block. Not anymore. Maybe that’s progress of a sort. I can’t trade on being an ‘almost this’ or an ‘almost that’. I am as I stand here before you.
An act of indulgence this morning saw me surf the web and loose myself in possibilities and other realms of existence. I bounced from sites and blogs to you-tube clips and tweets.
Here’s what’s stuck:
“The only difference between a rut and a grave is depth.” I’m still looking for my rope but know I’m probably going to have to get my hands dirty as I start to claw my way out of mine.
“Thoughts become things”. Yep, so I’d best get thinking about lots of lovely things. That idiom came from Mike Dooley (The Secret) and he suggested we start scrapbooks or mood boards and fill them with representations of what it is we want. A scrapbook is on my shopping list.
I read about a workshop I’d love to attend: Breaking the habit of being yourself by Dr Joe Dispenza. It’s a real shame that I’ll be awat.
Following some threads took me to a 3 minute chakra test which I failed miserably. 6 of my 7 chakras are closed. The least sickly one is ‘weak’. For $139 I could have got myself the tools (by adding to cart) to have the 7 spinning in harmony. Funny, I don’t doubt the diagnosis.
I listened to Mumford sons singing ‘Roll away your stone”.
More about esoteric me in another post. Right now, Indeed.co.uk and Guardian jobs need stoking
It probably started on Sunday. We missed our usual church service and to ease my conscience I made a plea to myself that I could always catch the 5 o’clock one instead. Sometimes that’s enough for me. No action required. But I followed through. And afterwards I wished I hadn’t bothered. The previous Sunday we sat uncomfortably as a good parishoner urged us to ask ourselves if we were contributing enough to the church’s weekly collections. Hard hitting pep talk. But then to follow it up as they did ….envelopes with pledge cards and pens handed out to every adult. We were given some minutes to fill them in before they were collected. I could almost feel the vapour of the parish priest breath on my neck. Totally OTT. I did use the pen but only to fess up to my redundancy and therefore my inability to make a pledge. I shouldn’t have been forced to show my hand like that.
The tone for the week was set. I found myself being railroaded on some other matters too. At school. At home. So I kicked back. And I feel the better of it. I even wrote my first post on mumsnet. Joining a discussion I’d followed since February. Goodness pugnacious me!
My dad was bemused when I said I was celebrating my wedding anniversary by going to see Jimmy Carter in conversation with Jon Snow. Yes, the ex-American president, yes he’s still alive and no, he’s not in peanut farming anymore. The buck’s in cotton. How lucky was I! I was sooo excited when I heard he was coming to town and expected my americaphile husband to be as well. But he hemmed and haughed over my anniversary date suggestion. Then a couple of nights later we watched a TV programme about Obama’s capture of Bin Laden. With surveillance they were fifty percent sure they had the right man in the Abbottabad compound but someone had to make that call. The CIA agent said Barak Obama had the fate of 300 m Americans in his hands. I looked at my husband and we knew in that moment (of the documentary) that we had to see Carter, another individual who had carried such a hefty mandate. I booked right there and then – missing the climax of the programme, though of course I knew the outcome.
So on 5 October we reminisced over our wedding day nine years ago. But mostly we looked forward to our appointment with President Carter at 7pm.
He didn’t disappoint. What an amazing evening. Jon Snow wearing his signature colour bar tie welcomed us all to what would undoubtably be a very special evening. He seemed a little nervous. He admitted to feeling more at ease in a TV studio than a huge auditorium like the Royal Festival Hall. Then Carter took the stage. Though ‘senior’ he is displayed a mind as sharp as a President’s. He spoke eloquently about his time in the White House, America today, Peace hopes for Israel and the great work of the Carter foundation especially with respect to the lot of Africans and the successes they are having in eradicating the Guinea worm, a blight of many of the poor. The audience shot questions at him that he answered without a flinch or filter. A great account of any man, but especially given his age – 87 last week.
As if the evening couldn’t get any better, Peter Gabriel came on stage wheeling in a blue globe-shaped birthday cake with one candle (truth be told – it looked like a bomb with a smoking fuse!) and singing happy birthday. We all joined in, then gave him a standing ovation. What a night. What a man. What a city.
Maybe because my daughter is 7, the same aged version of my former self pops in to my head quite a lot these days. Dungaree clad, in my pokka dot shirt with airplane collar – buttoned to the neck. I’m wearing clogs or T-bar shoes. Most likely its clogs. My wide open face full of hope and entitlement. What must mini-me make of me now! I’m guessing she’s proud of my progeny. Especially this one. Amber is so like I was at her age. Last night when I put her to bed, she pleaded to finish her diary entry and fell asleep gripping her pen. The OCD that overshadowed my teenage years probably started around about my eight or ninth year and I’ve been watching for the tell-tale signs – ready to pounce and reassure. Amber’s obsessions are mild at the moment so no intervention needed yet.
” 7/10/11. I lost the pencil that I’m writing with right now, it was in the middle of the road. Alma (her pal) begged and begged her mum to get it until she said yes..finaly those precious words came out. They got it for me. Thats a relife (relief!).”
Quoted without the author’s permission but with parental consent.
The need to record events, to document, runs deep within me and that seed has taken root in my daughter too. There are other traits I’m not proud of passing on, but this isn’t one of them.
Amber and her brother Sawyer love me to read excerpts from their baby journals. Though created to record the first year, I scribble little updates all over the place. And when I visit my own parents – who were way to0 busy rearing children to be reflective- I seek out the blue faux leather BWIA (British West Indian Airlines – no longer in existence) crested flight bag – jammed with my diaries crammed full of my highs, my lows and later my teenage angst. I dip in and out of those days and know I am disappointing those mini-me’s. They are still with me though and despite the time warp, the ravages of years, we are, all of us, hopeful.
Suggestion is mighty powerful. Placebo’s work on me. I get seasick standing on the shore. And the queasy stomach I associate with long road journeys starts paces from the car. So I shouldn’t be surprised by the level of comfort I get from my expanding library of personal growth books. I know what I need and I’m patiently knocking them off. Like an assassin. At the base of my stack is Feel the fear and do it anyway – my foundation tome – surly the best book to build upon. I have The Secret of course and Deepak Chopra’s The 7 spiritual laws of success. In a BOGOF offer I picked up the Obama autobiographies. Losing my virginity – the Richard Branson’s biography fell in to my lap when I went to drop off old toys at a charity shop. I have dusted down my Heal your body and acquired Coach yourself and the Paul McKenna Change your life in 7 days workbook (with CD missing – an omission to be expected for 99p).
So what’s stopping me….
Please note: I want you to know I was given a gift of Cameron. I didn’t get very far with it. I don’t like him or his politics one little bit. I didn’t realise he was in my tower. He’s not there now.