Thursday.

The end of my week in the office; Friday brings a day of working from home. I breathe out as I get closer to home. Clouds move rapidly over Dartmoor; wind turbines burl furiously in the fields which lie between us.

In the furthest room of the tumble-down barn, yesterday’s clay work dries, hidden from the damaging claws of feline interest by a door which fits just barely enough to offer closure.

I walk the half-mile to the local shop, joking with friends I’ve made since I started to call this place home. ‘Don’t tell the wife,’ he says, the names of Czech beers all rounded edges and walnut forests in my head. The skies are grey, portentous; the elderberries are already darkening on the trees, sloes appearing like small cannonballs. Dinner is procured on a day-to-day basis when my children are not at home, and I revel in the luxury. Cider and hummus. Crisps. Pizza, with olives. Contraband of the finest order.

They return on Saturday.

I fit shelves for my elder girl’s books, reusing wood from the bed I drew on the back of an envelope once upon a time. I tidy my younger girl’s nest, sorting through clothes which show too much wrist or ankle now, the lengthening of five-year-old legs a spectator sport, almost.

A pile of ginger fur, multiple paws intertwined with patchwork, sleeps nearby as I work.

This evening smells like autumn, and I feel a mixture of sadness and energy welling up in me as it does every year at this point in the turning of the world.

It’s been a while.

I didn’t particularly intend to take a break from writing regularly; somehow, life just got in the way. Some things have changed: The Man and I got married in June, and we moved December before last to a thatched cottage in a tiny Devon village near the edge of Dartmoor; we have also acquired two familiars in the shape of Loki and Puck, ginger gentlemen of a feline persuasion, in addition to the existing familiar, Hecate. Some things, meanwhile, stay the same: where the fuck is the time for creativity and for Important Things like writing, spending time with plants, and Making Things, a particularly important sub-category of Important Things to the extent that it nearly warrants its own, um, yes, well…; this house is full of noisy short people who seem to need significantly less sleep than is civilised; and where the fuck did that mouse come from; why do I always want short hair when it’s long and long when it’s short; is pink hair sustainable for a professional; etc.

I’d like to get back to writing regularly. I miss the space it gives me to think about my life, and to try to introduce some order, albeit retrospectively, to the chaos that swirls in my head on any given day.  I’m currently flatter-broke than I’ve been for a long time, due to things like The Man’s six-hour commute proving unworkable longer-term, and also the changes in tax credits in recent years, so if I’m to keep this place, I need to actually use it, and get something out of it in terms of my sanity. We shall see, I suppose.

In the background, in the quieter recesses of my mind, I’ve been working on a story. I’m thinking of posting bits and pieces about that here, in a bid to get myself working more regularly on it, and also to try and avoid being precious about my writing. Fiction-writing is strange for me. Ten years and more of working in academia has inculcated various things in me, including a disturbing impulse to reference every other thought and to give a bibliographic list of said references at the end of the paragraph of thoughts. It’s taking a while to feel that I’m not an imposter, trying to write anything other than the sort of shite I throw out here from time to time, but see above under preciousness.

 

On Monday.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Divine Comedy lately. In particular, I’m taken with ‘Our Mutual Friend’, though quite a bit of the most recent album has slipped into my consciousness like an earworm, taking up residence in my brain in a manner resolved only by considerable repetition courtesy of Spotify. I find myself thinking that if forced to choose between open-access Spotify and the rest of the internet, I would take Spotify; from the moment I wake up to the minute I sleep, there is music in my head, no matter what I am doing, and the joy of having so much music at one’s fingertips is just indescribable.

As an aside, I love the narratives that Neil Hannon creates in his songs, and in ‘Our Mutual Friend’ I love the way he enunciates ‘I visualise her’, and I also love the North-by-North-West-reminiscent tambourine which kicks in as he sings ‘it’s hard to hear your own voice / Above the beat and the sub-bass’. There is something almost reassuring about hearing someone sing in a lexicon familiar from one’s own speech; ‘She told me that she really liked me / And I said “cool, the feeling’s mutual”‘ makes me smile.

Other recent listening has included Steve Reich, for whom I have a long and abiding love. His ‘Nagoya Marimbas’ is utterly entrancing.

Music has been a constant presence in my life for as long as I can remember. As a small child, I used to fall asleep to the sound of my parents playing piano duets in the room diagonally beneath me. When I had progressed to the deceptions of teenage life, I leaned perilously far out of the bathroom window, cigarette in hand, reassured that my transgressions would remain undetected as long as I could hear my mother practising Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ or Ravel’s ‘Le Tombeau de Couperin’.

As an adult, I lost many of the pieces of my childhood for several years because they were contaminated by the immense grief I felt when my mother died; in her instructions for her funeral, she asked for Holst’s transcendental ‘Venus’, together with ‘Ondine’ from Ravel’s ‘Gaspard de la Nuit’, and both were lost to me for a decade thereafter.

Today, I can listen to those pieces and find myself once more in the church where I moved through her funeral as one asleep, but the distance that fourteen years of time has brought is a kindness; I ache to see her, to tell her of my life, to ask her all those questions that as a twenty-two-year-old I did not know I needed to ask and to which I will never now know the answers, but as a woman of thirty-seven I can think of her without always following the well-worn path to her deathbed.

Today has not been an easy one, and I long for the understanding I feel she would bring me. I wish I could ask her how she balanced the demands of her children, of her own inner life, of the dreams she still had as a fifty-something, many of which I know she felt unable to act out in the narrow version of life that reality offered her. I wish she could tell me that I am doing OK, that she understands, that it isn’t all a big and irretrievable mess. Just at the moment, just in this fugitive moment that I know to be transient but which feels nonetheless very permanent as I write this, I feel alone. Experience has taught me that these flashes of sharp grief will pass leaving nothing but a mild sting, and yet still I cannot seem to learn anything beyond the merest, most superficial awareness of this as I live through them. I repeat, by rote, ‘this too shall pass’, and I know intellectually that it is true even as I feel emotionally that it makes no bloody difference, and that my life is a D. H. Lawrence-inspired parade of one damn thing after another.

I sit at the kitchen table. I survey the warmth of the oak kitchen that I drew on the back of an envelope a little under a year ago, and which a lovely yet slightly intimidating man made into reality for me when we moved here. I look at the silver shine of the kettle, sitting atop the Rayburn and awaiting the first fire of the year. Six demijohns of plum and apple wine glug contentedly on the windowsill. My girls sleep, one in pyjamas with glow-in-the-dark constellations, the other a Victorian-length nightdress covered in squirrels. It is all a balancing act. Life is painful. Life is beautiful. Perhaps the pain is what makes it beautiful. Perhaps this constant paring-away of one’s image of oneself until one is left raw and unguarded is the ultimate beauty.

Sunday.

Listening to Nick Drake’s ‘Thoughts of Mary Jane‘ while contemplating tidying up the kitchen. Also loving the new album from The Divine Comedy, ‘Foreverland‘.

A day tarting up a website for copy-editing and proofreading, digging around in header code and otherwise fiddling. A day spent thinking about the house sign I’m in the middle of making, for this house I own, since December – my own house, and all the more lovely for a feeling of security and permanence I don’t think I’ve ever known before. I now own a kiln, and a thirty-foot barn in which to house it. The barn is a front wall full of acrow props just now, but I can gloss over that because of the sheer delight of owning so much space. Space that isn’t really necessary or being used to its full capacity is such a bloody luxury. I’ve spent much of September pruning my possessions, Gumtreeing and eBaying various things I’ve lugged from house to house without ever really knowing why. The result is that I’m over a hundred quid better off, and that’s being translated into a freezer, which will live in the barn, in which to store, super-smugly, fruit from the orchard at the bottom of the garden.

The barn is pretty clear now, for the first time since we moved, and with it, I feel something clearing in my own head. I have been seized by a longing for emptiness, and clearness, and space, and order, and bit by bit I feel I am getting there. The garden is getting a little wilder as I organise living and storage space rather than vegetable beds, but it seems a worthwhile digression. On a deep, dark, hardly understood level, my soul craves order.

Places to put things. Put things away. 

The childebeest have started at a new school, in the village where we now live. We walk the five minutes up the road together each morning, stopping to chat with various feline ne’er-do-wells on the way. I miss the feeling of community, and the colour, of their previous school, but I know it for a myth, and I don’t miss the general unease, and the feeling that at any minute, I might get a call to say one of them had been lost, or hurt, or worse.

We have six raised beds. The children have grown potatoes, calendula, beans and sweet peas; tonight I made soup with tomatoes, potatoes, garlic and onions from our beds. A quiet miracle, these things we grew, so easily translated into bowls from beds.

The house is quiet. I hear the plum wine fermenting, its gentle ‘plop-purlop-purlop’ just audible over ‘Three Hours‘.

The man is in the shower. He is struggling today, a bit. Sometimes we each struggle, just to understand, and to show that we try, even if we fail. ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.‘ How to accept – and just be with, be open to – someone’s feelings, when they bring out the defensive rationalisations that would not help were they offered to you in return?

Judi Dench has a tattoo, given to her by her daughter on her eighty-first birthday. ‘Carpe Diem’. I contemplate following suit. She reminds me of my mother, and my voice changes when I speak of her, I notice.

I want to write again. I want to find time to create stories, and to weave words, and to spin from the thin air the characters who jostle fatly for space in the tight confines of the corners of my mind. This time of year has always been my favourite; as we head into the darkness, I watch the little lights twinkle amongst the wisteria that grows in wild abundance over a dilapidated framework brought low by the weight of such enthusiasm. Just visible through the foliage. Perhaps this is how I should write – a little glister here and there in amongst the leaves. I have long since abandoned the idea of any given task as requiring uninterrupted time, as that is in such short supply. But I feel potential in the air all around me, and a restlessness that speaks of makings, and beginnings. Carpe diem.

I want to have a child. It’s madness, of course. I don’t even know if it possible, on either side. I am as old as the hills, and all the sensible voices in my head decry such a thing as foolishness, and selfishness, and irresponsibility. I look at the man, and I wonder what our child would look like. Would she have his eyes? Would he have a voice like his, dark and soft and sweet? Would I hear his voice in that child, years after the world has turned and taken him from me, earthly flesh bowing down to the allotted span no matter the determined mind? Would the child be there when he cannot be, any more? What about my girls? How would they feel? Would selfishness translate into a beautiful creature, filling this space that appeared as I felt that third child transform into a fond notion rather than a possibility?  Is it even fair to think of it in such terms? I sit in a liminal space, the cobweb-thin strands which shape my boundaries pulled taut.

But I feel a clarity at the edge of my vision. ‘Better or Worse?’ he asked me, raising a lens to my eye in a poem he wrote just about a year ago. Better – a thousand times better.

I hesitate to write these words – the man has been known to read these pages, and I have no wish to cause him pain; I am particularly good at fitting my Sagittarian feet into my mouth. But it is how I feel, and I’ve spent too long not looking at my own thoughts too hard for fear of finding they didn’t fit with my circumstances. I don’t want to do that any more. Carpe diem.
[This is all impossibly wanky. But fuck it.]

I can’t think of a title.

One of the reasons I’ve not posted here for a while is that my site got hacked. I’m still trying to find time to bugger about with the resulting different template, and to organise myself a bit better, but for now, at least, the site works again, so all good.

Anyway.

April.

Here we are.

Four months into 2016 already.

The man and I went to Edinburgh over the Easter break, while the childebeest went to Sussex to spend some time with their father and his mum. They weren’t tremendously keen to go, and we ended up saying we’d talk to them more before making arrangements for school holidays, although I doubt their dad will be keen to hear the things that I am hearing, and may indeed just not listen to any of it, and in the end the girls decided to stick to existing arrangements, but largely, I felt, because I promised that if they want to be at home next Easter, they will be. It’s difficult, this navigating of two-household waters, but it always feels easier when it’s them bringing me something they want – I find it much harder to face the inevitable shit when it’s on my own behalf rather than theirs.

Anyway, the man and I wandered around for a full five days, eating nice things (Henderson’s), looking at nice places (lots of bits of Fife, including Crail), buying the odd pretty thing (Ragamuffin), and generally enjoying ourselves. We saw a film (at the very lovely Film House -Hail, Caesar! – which was actually pretty good) We also did a lot of sleeping, which was pretty awesome. It’s amazing how different things feel when you’ve had enough rest, and a bit of time to finish a conversation before being interrupted.

We also came up with a sort of modus operandi for being together – some priorities, some reiterations of things said or felt, some ways of making life smoother and a little slicker. It felt very good to take a look at our life together and work out how we can strengthen it, how we can support each other, how we can make the changes we each feel need to happen.

It’s two weeks since we made that list, already, somehow, and last night I managed to get some yoga in, in the garden room, which is now getting pretty warm as the days grow longer and the sun shines a little more reliably. I have put some solar-powered fairy lights in the trellis across the courtyard, and as they came on I was watching the bats flitting in and out of the upper storey of the barn, slightly groaning my way through fifteen minutes with Sadie Nardini, and feeling actually in charge of my life for the first time in some weeks. I so needed this to be the year that I got some stuff organised, properly, and I am beginning to really feel that happening. My divorce was finalised in February; I have a mediation agreement which was most of a year to run (we will gloss over the hitches that will no doubt come up for now); Hero is talking to me more about her thoughts and feelings than she ever has before, due in part to a course the man and I went on (Siblings Without Rivalry – highly recommended) and in part to settling into a new rhythm since we moved and can begin to put down proper roots; I am living with a man who actually does the things he says he’ll do, and who wants to talk about how we can make a good relationship better. Oh, and I got a spiral tattoo the day I heard my divorce was done (quite by coincidence – there was a three-week waiting list for the chap I wanted to do it; the universe evidently had plans for me that day), and my nose pierced the day of the mediation session. I am back on to looking after myself better, taking advantage of what I think would probably be best called the humid room (it’s a wet room, but not in the supercool ultrachic way you’re envisaging – think more of dodgy water pressure and a non-opening roof light, complete with clouds and clouds of steam) and a rediscovered love of Faith in Nature shampoo. I am getting back into yoga, and have ordered a massive wholesale quantity of the very lovely Amy’s Kitchen lentil soup so that I’m not tempted to eat crap for lunch when I’m working.

I’m probably the worst case of ‘go straight to the problem area, ignore all the good, and work out the worst-case scenario’ that I’ve ever known, so this is me, just noting the good stuff, and saying thank fuck for that.

Monday.

Well, we got a day past the mediation agreement (no major changes for a year; no last-minute alterations; the importance of routine and reliability with children of this age; no bad-mouthing in front of children) and the girls’ dad attempted a major change, telling me he’d been offered a job which would mean working alternate Saturdays and Sundays (the pattern is that the girls are with him on a Sunday), hotly followed by a persistent request that Hero try Brownies in the village in which he’s now living, changing their drop-off routine and adding a late night to Mirth’s schedule, had I gone along with it.

Today we had a row by phone because he feels the girls are growing away from him, because he sees ‘so little of them’; apparently the blame for this is mine, and is not a consequence of his own behaviour. I am a hypocrite because Hero asked to stay at home on Mothers’ Day, and this one request that I took to him, that we be allowed that day, is just the same as the months and months of messing about, of changed plans, of forgotten arrangements, of guilt trips and hard times and Poor Me. Now I don’t care about reliability, apparently. It’s all easy for me, apparently, because I have plenty of money and he knows ‘your set-up’. His mother feels that time the girls spend with my father means she gets an unfair offering, and that the time should be equal in every way. Fairness. So little of this situation has to do with fairness.

I despair. Really, I do.

But yesterday I spent a few hours in the garden, in the cold March air, beginning to get to know this piece of land that I own. We have a fire pit, now, with large branches surrounding it, on which to sit, to poke the fire, to eat, perhaps. We have talked about buying a tripod, so we can branch out into tea-making, and other such civilised notions. I pruned, and tidied, and weeded, and burned, and generally worked some of the frustration, the anger that I feel, out and into the earth. I felt earthed, literally. The sparks settled, and I breathed out.

The man picked Mirth up from school today, and they came to collect me from work. Mirth ate chocolate cake in the café in the building next to mine, and is getting to know the staff by name. She danced around the patio area, and painted with a watery stick, courtesy of the fountain. We came home to find the leaking overflow pipe has been fixed; the central heating, fired by the Rayburn, is back online, but is operating with only three of its usual six radiators and is thus a little lively. How different, though, to have work like this going on when I feel in control of it; we have a date for the chaps who are making the kitchen to come and fit it, and the electrician and heating engineer are coming back on the day, to tie it all in together.

We talk of bell tents in the garden, and parties. We lie awake in the quiet dark, imagining holidays we have yet to take, and places we have yet to visit. We laugh at children’s phrases, and share confidences they have vouchsafed unto us.

This anger, this frustration – it too shall pass.

More of life will be good than bad. Is already.

Gratitude.

:: deep pink tulips on the table, because today is my mother’s birthday

:: A-Ha

:: Hero wearing her squirrel outfit, which I finished cobbling together at about 11.00 last night, into school, and talking non-stop about the bushiness of her tail

:: Mirth telling me how she doesn’t like tickling, while continually clambering back on to my knee for more

:: the realisation that at least some of my grump this week has been caused by my missing headphones. Less music is not a good thing. Realising that its lack is pissing me off is the first step to fixing that, though.

And you?

 

Noticing the good.

The Muddy Peacock and I were talking a little about gratitude, and noticing what’s good in life, and the transformational effect this can have on your own view of your existence (she talks about this in more detail here). This got me thinking that I could do with noticing what’s right with my life, and being thankful for all that is good, and perhaps laying off the worry and the fear and being driven thereby. This is my year of healing, after all. So, without further ado…

:: Sunshine after a brief yet intense hailstorm

:: A cup of Earl Grey rooibos brought to me first thing, by the man

:: Chocolate cake going begging in the work kitchen

:: warming the man’s cold hands with my own, permanently fingerless-glove-clad paws

:: ‘Every Breath You Take

:: These beautiful paintings of Scotland, via the Peacock

:: Myrrh tincture, which is proving useful in helping to heal my newly-pierced nose

:: All the pretties (nose studs galore) on Etsy

:: big flouncy trousers (the man bought me my first pair of hareem trousers a while back; they are turquoise and fabulous, courtesy of the extraordinarily lovely Haruka Clothing), which never fail to make me feel as if all things are possible, in a world of infinite possibility

:: snowdrops emerging in the garden

:: plans for growing things, and a rhythm for the weekends which includes bonfires high on the list.

 

And you?

February

I sit surrounded by chaos today. We got back from a few days in Cornwall on Friday afternoon having, I thought cunningly, had a chap working in the house while we were away, renovating the slightly idiosyncratic (for which read: totally insane) heating system. He’s made good progress; one of the two chimneys is lined, and the other has had the messy prep work done while we were tootling about on the ferry from Polruan to Fowey, or gently steaming in a hot tub while watching the stars and the darkness of the pines. This is all good. But we are without heating while he waits for a part, which is a bit of a bummer, and my teeth are itching because of the mess and the waiting and the mess and did I mention the waiting? It seems that ten years in renovation projects takes its toll; I am much saner, this far into living once again in a house that requires some TLC, than I thought I would be, and I am glad of it on a soul-deep level – once my marriage began to fall apart, I felt that I was in some way lacking because I couldn’t cope with the strain of a house that needed that level of intervention while looking after small children and attempting to maintain an adult connection with ANY sense of one’s own, private-in-your-own-quiet-self life beyond that a distant memory… But ultimately it turns out that it wasn’t the house that was the problem. Fancy that.

While this bout of work is pushing me a little, and I am spending too long online scratching around for Things when what is needed is simply for some time to pass, fundamentally I feel that we are making good progress – since we moved in, we have painted the bathroom, Mirth’s bedroom and our own, fitted new blinds in every room bar the garden room, destroyed half a hideous garden trellis, organised woodworm treatment for the cob barn (the first step in what will lead, I hope, to a pottery space, and somewhere sane to store the wholesale order for the Essential Trading buying group I run, of which more anon, perhaps), designed and had made the most smug-making cabin beds for each girl and booked an electrician and a heating engineer, as well as the very lovely Nigel, who will be making a kitchen using the oak flooring the previous owners included in the sale (there is one cupboard in the kitchen at the moment, and virtually no work space). Sometimes I find it difficult to carry in my head all the details for the various bits and bats of work which are happening, and for which I need to plan and source things, but overall, it’s a different universe from my previous experience of renovation, most importantly because I feel in control of it – no-one else is dictating the timescale or the approach, and no-one is telling me that I should be doing more of it myself because it’s cheaper that way.

I have baggage in this area; does it show?

I haven’t got the work/life balance bit sorted yet, though. At the moment, I’m working an eighty-per-cent-of-full-time contract in my day job, and fitting freelance copy-editing around that in the evenings and at the weekend. Something has to give; it’s been weeks since I had a block of time off for a reason other than illness, and I am constantly tired and frazzled. The man and I used to have Sundays as a sacrosanct day, it being the only time the girls spend with their father, but lately, with a string of coughs, colds, and sore throats which arrived in September and looks set to stay until the summer arrives, those days have disappeared, and it’s been mostly work. I’ve asked to drop my contracted hours to sixty per cent of full-time, but so far the answer has been no, because senior managers who don’t even know me, really, can’t see that it would be helpful to me. I had a few weeks off with stress just before Christmas, having dissolved on my very sympathetic GP when I went in about a continued bout of tonsillitis; of course, this totally screwed my sickness record at work, and I’ve been told that more than two days’ sick leave between January and June will mean some sort of escalation of the general feeling of being on a yellow card, and that I can’t ask for any of the flexible working options that usually go with my current post. Increasingly I feel the universe is trying to tell me something, and that, in line with my year of ENOUGH ALREADY, I should find another way to earn my living, and something that really makes me happy, and go the fuck with that. But in this universe, it’s highly likely that I will shortly go to court to try to settle the custody situation with the girls’ dad, and walking away from a reliable and well-paid job seems like a madness I can’t afford, just at the moment. I like the people I work with, and I am fortunate to work in a place the value of which I don’t doubt, but long-term I wonder how much of my current dissatisfaction won’t be answered until I make the leap and find a route to earning money from something more creative, even if it’s only part-time. I want to keep the freelance work going, because I’m just so tired of being the parent who can’t go to lots of school things because I’m always working, and the parent who uses the bloody breakfast clubs and after-school clubs, and holiday clubs, and so on; freelance work is both easy and flexible, and I don’t have to pay childcare to do it, so it seems like the way forward… But it’s not immediate.

Whinge, whinge.

Mediation on Wednesday. I want to stay as we are; the girls’ father wants them to live with him for fifty per cent of the time. They’ve been with me at least six nights a week for sixteen months, ostensibly so that he could sort himself out, though it seems that very little has changed in that time, or ever will – he has a very low income, a renovation project for a house, and a car which breaks down constantly; he has also done nothing whatsoever to address his continued depression, although as far as I know he isn’t drinking at the moment (I have an ongoing problem working out what I can believe when he tells me these things: when someone tells you they’ve lied to you for the entire time you’ve known them, it makes it a tad tricky to work out where the exact area covered by the pack of lies, and which bits might be truthful, and how the fuck to tell the difference). He pays no maintenance for them and never has; he tries to change arrangements almost weekly; he sees no point in ‘just social stuff’ for parents, at school. I buy their clothes, their school lunches; I pick their friends up for tea; I remind them to send postcards to their grandmother; take them to the dentist; talk to their teachers and try to be a part of the community at school; wash their hair and cut their nails. On one level I know it’s probably ridiculous to feel worried that going to court may well mean they go back to him for half the week, but it’s a hard fear to shift, and I sometimes feel completely paralysed by the fear that court may make an already difficult situation worse, and how would I feel then, having brought it on myself?

My decree absolute came through a couple of days before half-term. It was a strange mixture of relief and sadness. Once upon a time I got married, and I truly believed it was for life. This life, a more honest one, is not the one I expected, though there are parts of it that are better than I believed possible.

My tattoo, one of the things I promised myself I would do as part of my year of healing myself, is pretty much healed now. Its stark black lines are a constant joy to me, and a reminder that I can draw lines, literally and figuratively. This week I’m intending to get my nose pierced – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never quite dared, and it feels like the time is now. This is the year when I will find my path towards spending more of my time on things I want and choose to do, rather than on things I feel I have to do. More joy and less duty. More space, and more freedom, and more embracing the now.

I am reading Martha Beck’s fabulous Steering by Starlight, too; a gift from the lovely peacock.  I would never have chosen this book, but fuck me I’m glad she thought of me when she’d finished it herself; so much of it is ringing very fucking true, and I am learning a metric fuck-tonne as I go.

I am also reading Fuck It by John Parkin, and loving it; I happened upon it in the local community bookshop, and, having just asked to reduce my hours and started reading the Beck book, definitely felt the universe was trying to tell me something.

Hiding behind fear is a bit of a pisser, as is feeling that you can’t do x, y, or z, because what about a, b, or c? Beginning to see that the fear is perhaps a tool that you keep handy so that you don’t have to change any of these things and can stay in a nice comfy state of chasis about everything… Also a bit of a pisser. But, you know, you can’t fix the shit bits about yourself until you’ve worked them out, or something more psychological-sounding.

And you?

2016

This year’s word is healing. By fuck, I am done with beating myself up. I am done with regret and pain and self-doubt and second-guessing and undermining myself and recriminations and constant, nagging, gnawing questioning. I have just had enough of it. It can fuck off, and it can take with it exhaustion, frustration, mistrust, revisionism, endless revisiting, vacillation and their friend guilt. That last one can fuck right off, in fact.

Into the acres of space which will open up following the departure – with a good heavy shove – of all that shit will step time, self-care, rest, acceptance, acknowledgement and peace.

Enough already.

Happy new year.

I am contemplating tattoos and piercings. I have long had a yen to have my nose pierced. The last few years have taught me many things, and I want to mark this in some way. I can’t quite decide what is shouting at me more loudly, but I think I am tending towards the tattoo. I have in mind a small spiral, on the inside of my right wrist, with a couple of small dots after it, in black.

I am also contemplating the work/life balance, and how the fuck one achieves it. I work 80% of full time in my ‘day job’, and then make up the extra time doing freelance editing, which, at the moment, eats up a couple of hours each evening, and, when a deadline is looming, whatever time I can manage while the girls are occupied in some manner or other. I’d like to make this the year that I take more freelance and knock my contact hours back. Traditionally I’ve been too scared to make the leap, too worried that it’ll backfire and I’ll end up broke and vulnerable. Other people make this work, though. I’ve been working for one particular agency quite a lot recently, and it seems as though the work will keep coming. I don’t want to spend the next five years agonising about whether to shift my pattern only to find I could have had all that extra flexibility if only I’d dared. So in the spring I plan to make a change.

In the meantime, we are settling into a new house. Crooked walls; a wood-fired Rayburn; a tumble-down cob barn; a rambling garden full of potential, trees and nettles. Big views towards Dartmoor from the drive home. Sheep on the hill behind the garden. Slate and oak. Lime plaster and a buggered enamel bath. A space for pottery, in the barn. It feels like home.

This feels like the year to let go of the past, and just move the fuck on; lighter, wiser, a little battered about the edges, but also stronger.

And you?