Wecome to my blog........
4th AUGUST 2013....MINE'S A TRIATHLON....3....2....1.....
.....and I can sit down and watch..I am not wearing the yellow headgear on the right. I would have, if I could have, But....I am not in my home country. My relatives though, ARE in the race. And so is mid life Gina. She swam, cycled and ran her way to the top of the mid life class. She did the whole race X 3 in 1 hour 3 minutes. About the time it takes me to get sorted for a dressed up night out (with nail varnish).
There is a message in there for all of us (well me). If there's an aching back, a throbbing inside thigh and the puff is not as prolific as it once was; then buck the mid lifer's lethargy. I am tentatively back in the pool, and I do these '100's' that a woman passed on from Pilates. That and free weights from Argos are getting me moving.
Last year was a wipeout for workouts. There weren't any. This year; it's a slow burn back to being able to walk n' talk at the same time, run without ripping any leg muscles, and...ohmylord...are these ABS?
My fitter family have inspired me to keep strong and keep on. My nephew nearly won the kids' fun run. And I wasn't far behind.
AUGUST 3rd 2013 : LADY OF THE LAKE....
....swim, lake, hysterical dog. She thinks I'm going to die. I didn't. But she had to have a lie down after I got back on land. The stress was just too much.
IN VOGUE - A BOSTON MARATHON TALE THAT's TOO MUCH....
Boston marathon: one onlooker describes her experience in Vogue mag. It's compelling UNTIL she starts mentioning her wardrobe. 'I was watching the runners go by (in my new Nike trainers), the bombs went off and we ran for our lives. My new sports top (Prada) gave me the freedom to get away FAST and I ended up cowering outside Nieman Marcus....(v expensive department store)' and so on. A read that made me cringe.
The lab's got no airs and grace's. 'I'm so NOT a designer dog'.
1st AUGUST 2013: LEAGUE OF LEGENDS....when you realise that....
.....you'll never be one. A legend that is. You'll know, I'm sure, that 13 year olds excel at gaming: mid lifers are probably at a disadvantage. Well this one failed. Space invaders? Different story. The happy Hippo is the 13 year old's brother's. Can't play either games (as far as I know).
In the meantime; the news in my new location is still Kate's baby, and a fight between two drivers arguing over a parking space. This was outside an overpriced whole food store. Police were called. Nuts, oats and bulgar wheat featured extensively in the dispute.
Weather update. Almost as hot as the UK. Back to losing your teeth and mind now, on Wipeout, though last night's Housewives of Orange county was stunning. DJ gets engaged to blonde lovely who sang her proposal on his show. This is now available on i-tunes: her own jewelry and clothing line, on Amazon. I can sleep easy tonight.
24th July 2013 - SO CLARE. WHO ARE YOU AGAIN?
...It is the road less travelled. This journey of honesty and courage. Where I/you stop running and stay still, and examine who we really are, and perhaps explore ways of changing because the pain may have got too much.
The Road Less Travelled; you will know it, I am sure, is still in the New York Times best selling list, and has been for years. It was the first book I read that explained how trying to avoid pain leads to more, further down the line.
If you're having a bad day, you've probably headed off to You Tube...fair enough. But, who knows, you may be on this path yourself.
My mother's death is still painful. Of course it is, It's called grief. Yesterday after work I stumbled into a John Lewis (the old name was Heelas) we used to visit as kids. My school proclaimed that a certain type of pants MUST be worn. They were like carpet. Hoover them clean, and they would have been fine. Sensible school shoes, and the smell of new leather; I can remember that too. I argued with her;' I HATE them'.
Facing myself (not naval gazing as so many would have us believe - that's their problem) is hard. It has been hard, and will continue to be tough I am sure. But once you start, it's difficult to stop. I can't be bothered not to 'do the work'. Facing my shadows, some of them murderous, (that's why I like the Sopranos - it's full of darkness), has frankly, saved my life.
I am tired of my old ways of 'doing' relationships. Picking a person (unconsciously most of the time) because I am trying heal childhood wounds that have yet to be dealt with; has become too predictable and too painful. At least I know this now.
The hard part? I am authentic and honest, most of the time, and if I inadvertantly touch another's unresolved pain, you can bet I am in for a shed load of blaming and shaming from their side of the street. It seems the more honest I am, the more hassle life can become. Or perhaps it means the people who really care stick around, and those who don't are not worth knowing anyway.
But what's the point of any relationship with a friend and/or lover if it doesn't nurture us, and love us into a wiser and deeper space. Draining and selfish people (I am sure I can be both sometimes), who dismiss swathes of the population; who are rigid, controlling and angry, are not worth the effort. Suggest that they might choose to look inwards, and you're ridiculed for your insight.
Who needs that kind of abuse? As I have experienced, life IS too short, pleasing other people and diminishing our/my soul isn't freedom, it's incarceration. Colluding with other people's shadows, drags me into their darkness; I become an actor in their dysfunctional melodrama, and I didn't even audition for the part.
Getting out of prison may prompt excrutiating pain, as old beliefs and old behaviours crumble. Then who are you? Who am I? Who are WE in relation to each other? For me, this is a more truthful way of living. More joyful (yes, really), and more loving. I want to live this way, because, ultimately it costs me less, stops me getting sick, helps me love others properly, and nudges me towards letting go of things that no longer nourish.
I don't get it 'right'. That's another shadow. Who said life was about getting things right? Let's find another stick to beat ourselves and others; why don't we.
As I cry for my mother, and all that she meant; as well as all that she faced as a war time child, I realise, in many ways, I am crying for for myself. I don't think it is selfish, it is essential. I am part of her, and she is part of me, shadow n' all. And that, I can now celebrate.
JULY 22ND 2013 - BREAKING NEWS (SPOOF) KATE'S BABY WILL BE TASTING PIPPA'S ROYAL TREATS ...
JUST A LITTLE CAUTIOUS....
STORY MOVED ON...AND IT'S POSITIVE FOR PIPPA....BUT HERE'S THE ORIGINAL (NOT ACCURATE) COPY....BELOW.
....almost first with the news. Kate's newborn's first gurgles were for mum's milk, not her sister's home made fancies'.
That's according to Royal watcher and top chef 'Ivor royalrecipe'. The birth was met with cries of joy from confectioners everywhere'.
Sister, Pippa lamented, 'it's a shame, but there are many unborn babies who'd have loved it, so it's still on sale'.
Icing experts welcomed the royal revelation with glee. 'It's sad that Pippa's cake isn't Kate's baby boy's first choice, in or out of the womb. But we're not giving up, and neither should Pippa.
We're focusing on mum now, and working round the clock to make sure the future Queen has melt in the mouth topping WITH decorations'.
The new mum has yet to try these sweet temptations but a Kensington Palace spokesperson said, 'you can be sure she'll be very pleased with this confection perfection'.
The press team refused to comment on whether sweet craving Kate would try and persuade the tiny tot to take a bite.
JULY 21ST 2013 HELLOOOO WEMBLEY, I SHOUTED...
...and woke myself up from the strangest dream this morning. I will spare you the details. There is nothing worse than being regaled by other people's night time revelations.
Taking a break now for an hour as the White Queen is on. Corsets, push up bras and 'scenes of a sexual nature'. Love, Madonna's done it all before you. And at Wembley.
...AN HOUR LATER.......
Is there NO getting away from them?
BABIES.. ONE ON (the telly) the OTHER still on the FLIGHT path. It's delayed. The THOUGHT of all those journalists shoving mics into your mouth.' All I'll want is a dummy (from Fortnums) so I'm staying put'.
At least the White Queen had the decency to squeeze hers out in five minutes. Hello's beside itself with frustration. Next week's Royal baby feature?
. . . . . Sister, Pippa, creates the perfect party cake for the UNBORN CHILD !!!!!
MID LIFE babyhood MEMORY: Tiny Tears. The doll who peed and drank milk all at once. I gave mine lemonade. Her insides seized up and prompted a nasty discharge. A premonition of womanhood well illustrated.
17th JULY 2013 SMALL PEOPLE TEACH ME BIG THINGS......
.......I have lots of kids in my life, but not 'my own'. This is both an adventure and a sadness. I fall into the indefinable space between grown up and 'younger and smaller' person. Smaller, only in the physical sense; often 'bigger' than me in understanding, accepting 'the other', and having FUN. As I look after the little girl within more, so I get more pleasure out of kids' company. Somedays, the grown ups are so, well, grown up.
WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO THROW YOUR TOYS OUT OF THE PRAM?
Kids aren't all lovely, though. Llke my mid life generation, they vary. The ones I find the hardest are those that scream, shout and don't do what they're told. That is because, I would have liked to have done that when I was a smaller person. When I first recognised this, I laughed out loud.
WHO WANTS A SENSIBLE STORY...
My nephew's complete acceptance of my mother, in her later stages of parkinsons, was wonderful. I didn't mind her jumbled up sentences, and neither did he. We all had a perfectly good conversation. It just didn't go in a neat straight line. I used to hear them both chattering away in her bedroom; both of them perfectly happy in each other's company.
Kids, teenagers, twenty somethings; they often get a bad deal. They're picked on by the press, blamed for all anti social behaviour, and criticised for their truly top notch technical skills. 'She's always on the computer/ipad/texting mates...headphones glued to her head........'
PAYING THEIR WAY FOR OUR CARE
I am 'lucky', I suppose. It's not that I or many of my contemporaries have it easy, but in my 20's I didn't have to face living permanently in debt, there were more jobs around and the prospect of working into my 80's was inconceviable. Whether 80 will become the new retirement age, who knows, but there are a heck of us mid lifers who'll need someone to pay the taxes to support US in our 'wisdom' years.
YOU MEAN...GROWN UPS DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING?
I love it when I find myself in a situation and I realise how much I don't know. That can be scary, but it's also a huge relief. And it happens more often than I'd care to admit. I had to learn to edit pictures for a job. 3 of us were sent on a course to get this sorted. The 20 somethings were out of there in an hour, I was still struggling well after they'd gone, and the people were still 'fat' on my film. I got there. Better late than...
Strange how the under 12's come into their own when the computer says 'no'. Do we complain when they sort it in a few seconds? Never. Give 'em some slack. If they can handle cookies and Trojans, I'm in awe.
16th JULY 2013 .....SHORTSIGHTED SHOCKER....
...both literal and metaphorical. Got a 2 month gym membership (after tough negotiations to get a 'special price'), just so I can use the pool in this 'eat. All fine until I come to unpadlock my locker.
LOST IN THE LOCKER ROOM
Dripping wet, and with towels strewn on the floor, I realise I can't see the numbers on the lock...... unLESS I walk and squint from several feet away. How do you get into a locker when you're half away across the changing room and your arms won't reach? Get close up, and the numbers fuzz like unshaven legs.
This has me nearly on the lap of the ladeeee behind me. Fortunately she likes a laugh. Last time, when I was more flush, and was a 'member for life', I could see padlock numbers, a spare pair of pants underneath the bench, and a nasty hair ball in the shower plughole.
THE BI-FOCAL FAIRY SAYS.....
'Ah ha! It'll get harder to focus as you age'. Clearly it has. Cozzie still fits though, and I'm a FISHHHHHHH in the water. Backstroke's a bit off though, as I can't see the end of the pool.
Was going to write about our shortsighted view of death. Great piece in the Times this week by Libby Purves. 'Dying with dignity must be given a reprieve'. Pay your pound and read if you feel in the mood. Thought I'd leave that, though, for another day.
MID LIFE MEMORY: had to wear a weird skirt type swimming costume at school. It was made of nasty nylon, and didn't do anything for anyone, even Kim who could carry off tank tops. But I beat her at diving.
14TH JULY 2013 - BEAUTY BLOG - AFTER A DAY PAINTING A WALL...
....I'm doing what they used to tell you in Jackie (mid life memory). 'Got a minute, go on experiment', with 'make-up colours you've never tried before - ATTA GIRL'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Since mum died, there've been all these images in my head. Like a slide show on my computer, the pictures flood in. Holidays, clothes, arguments, me putting on a swimming costume on the beach and mum saying 'your father says can you be a little more discreet, Clare'. I was not quite at puberty - and mum was no prude. But if your dad says.......
Everyone else undressed in these weird towelling tents. Looked like boxers fighting underneath a blanket, to me.
I wasn't allowed Jackie. Neither did I want 'Look And Learn'. 'Look n' Learn innit'. (Translation to 2013). Hilary had L and L - and she was just TOOOOO clevva
The 'mag' used to be big on CAPITAL LETTERS and EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!!!!!! Especially when it was pushing us teenagers to our limits.
Howzabout starting a BIZNESS? Getting some more QUALIFICATIONS? Climbing Mount EVEREST? NAHHHHHH that's not JACKIE! We wanna know, 'how to GET a boyfriend', how to KEEP a boyfriend', how to sew those motif thingies on our JEANS', and NOW....how to WEAR blue nail varnish!!! YEAH!!!! It'll be a surefire hit at the DISCO, but make sure you put your hands in your pockets at SKOOL'.
Mum loved me doing her nails. She had a classy shade of pale pink, so in her memory.....
COLOUR ME BEAUTIFUL...
I went blue, after having gone green earlier in the day. This was due to painting the wall 'fern' in the heat. I did the blue nail thing (not quite as full on as the pic), after a shower, while the Sopranos were doing their best to paint a rival red.
My toes were turquoise, then navy on top as I hated the turquoise. Even the word sounds as if it's trying too hard. Then I tried to remove the whole lot, and ended up with a multi coloured tattoo on each toe. As Jackie would say, 'GO FOR IT GIRL - SURPRISE YOUR MATES - AND MAYBE YOU'LL SURPRISE HIM TOO!!!!!!!!!!!
In the Next issue: a David Cassidy plastic bracelet!!!!!!!!! (This was, of course, a pre app and pre virtual time in history)
Mid Life moment: Cutting down my faded (with rips) jeans to Shorts; due to the heat. The left bit is longer than the right. And I DON'T MIND....(now as a teen that would have been 'cringeroo' - I was a late developer, you understand).
10th JULY 2013 ...TODAY IT FITS.....
....Probably for the first time in 18 months, or maybe even longer. Sometimes we think we can't live without certain things: people, jobs and possesions. Even more terrifying is the fear that we can't live with ourselves. That, it seems to me, prompts all the 'activity', all the 'I must check my blackberry'. Because I am so IMPORTANT.
We're not really. Not like that, anyway. I was in a busy city square earlier in the week, and so many people looked miserable. At a guess I'd say that 75 percent of them were on some kind of medication. Nothing wrong with that, of course, It can be a life saver. Or perhaps they were medicating on rushing and urgency? Something I do myself too much.
It is probably a crime to admit it, me being a journalist n' all, but WHY do we need 24 hour news? Why do I/you/they need to check the Q10 (I've got an upgrade, so stressful - for a moment there I thought they were giving me vitamins) Every time that little red light flashes, is it really an email from George Clooney?
Over the last 18 months it's been not so much a roller coaster ride, as a stop start journey on a Ghostly sluggish zombie train. The things I thought were important, are now nasties in rags, with dodgy teeth and a bad attitude. Today, the shoe just fits, and there's no chafing. (I love that word...chafing, chafing, chafing). I've got no Cinderalla complex, I just like being comfortable in my own skin.
MID-LIFE MOMENT: Bizzy Lizzy. (Kids TV series in the 60's). She was perfectly content with a magic daisy (!) on her dress. A simple life/show that no-one, except me, seems to remember.
JULY 7TH 2013 - HOT PLEASURE......if you were expecting a bonkbuster....
....you'll be disappointed. Sorry.
Summer one: It's the bamboo that's been keeping me hot and bothered. The only dodgy connection? It's a sign you're into wife swapping. A radio 'phone in gave me this info, so it must be true. I dropped it into conversation with the nice couple next door - not meaning to offend; simply making conversation. I was trying to cut down the shoots that had colonised their garden. 'He' moved the subject swiftly on to tree surgeons, as there's a looming ton of greenery threatening to break into the top flats.
Summer two: Went into cafe opposite and the owner was swatting flies with a tennis racquet. 'I'm aiming for centre court' he wheezed. Then promptly fell off his chair. He's still in one piece, and Murray made it. So everyone's happy.
Summer three: Couldn't sleep, so turned on the radio for the midnight news. Got the end of 'Poetry Please'. Instant depression. The bloke's voice was so miserable, I had to cheer myself up with Haribos. 'Poetry PLEASE, NO!' The news you EXPECT to be a downer.
Summer four: KISS FM pumping out 'rappaaaa innit' tooones, ALL DAY. A neighbour's clearly got a thing for mobile network ads, (Every 5 minutes). I'm switching to TALK TALK. You get more KISS FM 'raponmesummericedlolly' minutes n' texts.
1st JULY 2013 - MID LIFE MOLARS NEED WORK.....
....so life's a blast. Honestly, there is NO reason why you can't see my teeth in the main pic above. I had another root canal dug today. I'd woken up thinking someone with evilllls on their mind, was stabbing me in the jaw.
IT WON'T BE THE HARIBOS OF COURSE (I don't want to end up in court), IT'LL BE MY BRUSHING REGIME....
Weirdly, two friends of mine said that when they lost a parent (that's the only ref I will make to this - see earlier posts for full story), their teeth tripped them up. Probably because sad emotions run us down. Or maybe it's the sweets I eat at 4am?
OBAMA UPSTAGED BY A SMILE
Red tie man ( sat behind Obama during his South African speech), has great teeth. So great, that his smile has gone viral, and brought him wide mouthed admiration worldwide. Meanwhile, back in the chair, my dentist's performing molar magic, and his assistant squeezes my arm when the drill is on.
Life's little pleasures eh....
30th JUNE 2013 - SMALL GRIEF RELIEF: (very small) THE MAFIA AND BOYFRIEND JEANS.....
...neither helped that much but gave me short moments of respite during a tough weekend. Of course there are 'things I must' do. I dragged myself out to Waitrose. It's normally Tesco's, but the former is nearer Shepherd's Bush Tube. Part of me wanted to shout: 'my mum has died, why are you SHOPPING?' It's the Waitrose next to West Life (I know, Westfield, it's just what I call it) .
I think this is, in part, called displacement activity. I stood next to the 'luxury puddings' section, and watched a woman stack the shelves with dozens of instant heart attack cream cakes before you could say Tiramisu.
I found myself in a '60 percent off all jeans shop', and got the pair in the pic, for 30 quid. I was then run over by a child in some kind of plastic car, hired out to make shopping 'fun' for the little ones, whilst the grown ups fought over the credit card. Then I came home.
Displacement; hmmmmmm. I've had some of that from other people. Meaning well, of course. Trying to be kind, I know. But ultimately, I think, not really able to cope with their own fear of loss. A few well intentioned aquaintances have said 'well it's a blessing, after the parkinsons'. It's as if they think I don't KNOW this. My mother is still gone.
Then there's the 'now you can move on'. Move on from what? Loving my mum? Fortunately, I have some great mates, who've been through the business of death, a funeral and the deep sadness that follows. They all say, the notion that you 'get over it', and 'move on', is mainly due to a fear some have, of facing their own and others' mortality,
Grief, I think, changes shape, takes as long as it takes, and is still there for the rest of life in some shape or form, perhaps inhabiting a different space. You come to terms with it, in your own time, don't you? Not because someone else wants you to 'be ok'. Why is grieving 'not ok'? Why is it a crime to be 'sad'?
Meanwhile, the Mafia, in the form of the Sopranos series one box Set (I bought this before the great Gandolfini died), is giving my brain a rest. The mix of cold blooded killing, and deep love/connection to 'the family', should be an almost impossible mix, but it isn't. I suppose, all death is brutal in its own way. Yet the ties: call them familiarity, memories, love, call them whatver you want, remain. Burrowed deep perhaps, in the DNA, the soul, and the memories of those still living.
A grief observed on Page 2: (earlier thoughts) the start of the journey.
I remember watching you perform this! You 'played' with army ranks - wasn't there a Major (Scandal? Disaster? Triumph?) and a Colonel in there? Funny and thought provoking- as ever. X
Suggestion: make a deal with a shortsighted swimmer swimmer like me. They read your locker; you read the clock at pool side.
At my most myopically pathetic, I once had to stop the car and ask a passer by to read the A to Z for me. Colonel Blimp