The Happy Place

Despite the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that our friends hosted last night, I woke up this morning feeling sad. R only got back from five days away at 6.30pm last night, and left again today at midday for a work trip. Lately we’ve been like ships passing in the night, and the next couple of weeks promise to be just as tough. It’s hard sometimes living the crazy life we lead, but at least we both recognise the importance of staying emotionally connected as much as we can, despite the challenges. There is a lot going on and potentially some big changes afoot for us both – all very exciting, but transition always brings with it a certain trepidation.

So anyway, I woke up feeling sad and when R left felt even sadder. But instead of sitting around moping I gave myself a much-needed kick up the arse and went for a walk to my happy place, Tenbosch Park. There is one specific spot where I love to sit and listen to the birds tweeting and just breathe. In. Out. Until I feel calm again. It works every time.

Sometimes the world comes crowding in and it’s hard to get perspective, but there is always a way to get back to what matters, and, for me at least, it usually involves seeking out nature. Trees have a particularly calming effect on me, I think because so many of them have been there for so long, standing tall and strong. Nothing moves them, or riles them. I find them inspiring, and always think when I’m amongst them that I need to take a leaf (excuse the pun) out of their book and not let things get to me so much.

Life is crazy. The best way to deal with it is to accept it and enjoy the ride. Happy Sunday 🙂

me

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Spare a Thought

For those of us lucky enough to have family and friends around us, Christmas is a magical time of year; a time when work is forgotten, food is lovingly prepared and gifts of appreciation are given. It’s also a time when the weather outside doesn’t matter one bit, because everyone’s wrapped up warm and cosy beside the fire, nursing a mulled wine or glass of fizz as Christmas tunes play in the background.

But every year at precisely this time I can’t help but think of the thousands of people for whom Christmas is a miserable experience; those who have no one to care for them, no roof over their head and no food to eat. Being homeless is a dreadful thing at any time of year, but at Christmas in particular it must exacerbate the feelings of loneliness and sadness that come with being in such a terrible situation.

And it’s not just the homeless for whom Christmas is a testing time. Each year there are also thousands of people who are forced to endure the festive season after losing a loved one, or who are elderly, housebound and alone. There are thousands more still who are penniless, clinging onto the roof above their heads but unable to heat their homes or feed their children, let alone buy them expensive presents from Santa.

My purpose in mentioning all of the above is not to make those who are fortunate this Christmas feel guilty or sad, but rather to encourage them (myself included) to be grateful for what they have; to realise what a blessing it is to be healthy, happy and loved, and to spare a thought (or maybe more) for those who have comparatively little.

Drifting apart

When we were eight everyone said we were “thick as thieves,” though we didn’t really know what that meant. Even though you were a tomboy for my ninth birthday you bought me a Forever Friends locket with your pocket money and kept half of it to wear around your own neck. Everyone was jealous of our friendship, it was such a precious thing – like gold.

But when we started secondary school things began to change. You stopped wearing the necklace, saying it was embarrassing and childish. I told you I’d stopped wearing mine too but I hadn’t-I just hid it beneath my shirt because I couldn’t bear to take it off.

You started hanging around with what my mum called “a bad crowd.” You got your tongue pierced, cut your shoulder length brown hair short and dyed it blue. You were unrecognisable to me as Sarah, let alone as my best friend. When I called you said you were busy, eventually you just stopped picking up the phone.

Because I wasn’t sporty or pretty or funny I found it hard to make friends. I wasn’t like you, with the “gift of the gab” as Auntie Lou used to call it. I ate my lunches alone. Sometimes I would catch you looking over at me with an expression that looked something like regret or sadness – perhaps guilt? – on your face, but no sooner had it appeared than it was gone again, hidden behind the tough girl mask which emotion could not crack.

I wasn’t bullied, at least. Why would the bullies be interested in me if nobody else was? I just existed in a perpetual state of nothing. And that hasn’t ever changed, perhaps unsurprisingly. When your life is a blank canvas what is there to excite you? I did the ‘normal’ things, of course, went to university, got a degree, moved to London, got a job. I even had some boyfriends though I wasn’t really interested in boys.

I often wonder this: If you’d known the path my life would take after you turned your back on me, would you still have done it? If you hadn’t taken off that locket, if you’d only loved me back in the way that I loved you, we could have been happy, you and I. But you did turn your back on me, and now I’m finally finding the strength to turn my back on you.

I will not send this letter, but rather burn it right before I cast my half of the locket off the bridge. And when I climb over the rail and follow it into the murky abyss, Sarah, I will take my leave of this world, of you. And I will be free.