A New Word, A Storm & A Headache

Today I have a paint headache. I did yesterday too. I have been painting all kinds of stuff in my house over the last few days and have now been forced to leave, as I was starting to feel pretty sick with the fumes.

The reason for this intense activity is simple. My house is a scruffy mess. Walls and doors are shabby and shameful. Furniture scratched and unfit for any nice thing or person to sit upon. The last two days of warp-speed activity was long overdue and – because I am me – and I have tried to fix a million things all in one go rather than take a planned and steady approach (like a normal human being might), this has caused some considerable upheaval throughout our home. The living room that I am currently hiding from, is this very minute strewn with newspapers covered by various bulky items of furniture gently emitting their evil post-updo fumes (hence the headache).

Sitting with my husband at the weekend (prior to me having thrown the house up in the air and trying to catch it all with my trusty paint roller) we were listening to somebody else discussing some upheaval or other in their lives. My husband noted …

“You never hear much about ‘Downheaval’ do you?”

Hmmm, interesting – Is that even a thing? I quietly pondered this for a little while and realised, well of course it is a thing! Not only that, but one I have some experience with.Read More »

Lessons Learned Log: My mind is not a sausage machine

Some of the best advice I was ever given was by a friend of mine who knew I was wrestling with a particular problem, and making myself sick trying to force the answer to emerge. She bought me a greeting card and gave it to me, a few days before I took myself off on my first ever silent retreat, to try and figure out what on earth I was going to do next with my life.

The card shared the following words from Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves”

These words (taken from a letter written by Rilke in 1903) continued ….Read More »

A Refreshing & Entirely Inappropriate Conversation

Yesterday my mother and I went to get our hair done. It is a little ritual we do every 10 weeks or so. Some quiet time for her to read magazines and drink coffee, and a nice little me and her thing, which we don’t often get the chance to do.

When I went to pick my mum up I was in a terrible mood. It had been a tense week for one reason and another, and when my dad asked me “So, what is new with you?” my brain leapt immediately to “Nothing good!” and I clammed up, as I so often do when asked this question.

For others I might try to invent a positive slanted something or other that tells them absolutely nothing. For my dad, I sometimes try and fudge together some diversionary train of thought, perhaps about current affairs (which he loves), or what somebody else we know has been up to lately. Yesterday I just didn’t have the energy or the imagination or the heart to even do that. I shrugged and said. “I have no idea”.

So my mum and I headed out to our hair appointment and I was left feeling agitated and dissatisfied with how my life is going just now.

The new junior (who recently started working at the salon) came over to take me to the back room, in order that she could wash my hair. She was very young, and very keen and very chatty. For me, the extraction of a tooth is often less painful than the extraction of small-talk, but I tried my best, so as not to squash her springer-spaniel spirit.

She asked the usual questions:

“Do you have any holidays planned?”
“What are you doing with the rest of your day?” 
“Any plans for the weekend?”

I have no holidays planned in the foreseeable future. The rest of my day was probably going to be spent trying hard not to get my grump all over my parents. And the weekend felt like a big gaping void of nothing fun at all at the present time.

Then the conversation took an unexpected and alarming twist.Read More »

One Small Step

The blanket’s embrace is calling
As it did yesterday
As you know it will tomorrow
But your dreams cannot breathe under there
Your dreams are at the windows
Noses pressed, breath shaped questions on the glass
Looking in
Contemplating the small amount of hair hiding there

Just one thing
It doesn’t have to be a big thing
One small step outside
A walk to the end of the road
A glance at the sun, a testing of the air
That might be all you can bear
Or you might walk a little further
It doesn’t matter if you don’t
Just put on some shoes

You know what has to be done
But it seems wholly monstrous from here
With its eyes fixed and teeth bared
You are sure it will feast on your fear
Yet instead it would seek to converse with you
To share its true nature and cares with you
If only you’d dare to come near
Despite the beast’s seeming enormity
It would happily walk gently in your company

Just a few steps
The world need not be traversed in one day
See those pieces on the floor?
Pick one up … just one
Feel its shape in your palm
Just do that bit
I won’t ask too much
I won’t bring you to harm
Just choose one piece to hold
We’ll take it from there
And if that feels too much
I’ll understand

No agenda
I promise
Just go stand in the rain
I know you like rain
I know, I know, but try to breathe through the pain
Just let some drops fall and see what comes
You don’t have to get drenched
Just let it fall upon your skin
And see how each drop feels within
One small step
Just dip one toe
You never know

 


Copyright © 2017 · Words & Images · Forty and Everything After

Place it down and walk away

That burden you carry
That bag of dark matter
It is sapping your energy
Draining your spirit
Put it down here
Right here
And walk away

You have carried this load far too long
And each peek inside that bag does you harm
And showing its contents to other people does you harm
It is time to accept this burden has nothing left to give you
Apart from more things to carry
Place it down here
And walk away

As you collected these heavy effects
They had a purpose to serve
They contained lessons you needed
They contained valuable gifts
But you have harvested those now
All that are left are empty vessels
Give me your bag dear
I am going to place it down here
And we are going to walk away

You can look back at it if you wish
But you may then stumble on your road
Pay attention to where you are putting your feet
Each step forward has fresh gifts to share with you
The ones behind you are beyond their use by date
Why carry a bag at all?
Set it down there my love
Don’t you feel lighter?
Come, take my hand
Let us walk away

 


Copyright © 2017 · Forty and Everything After

Release & Renewal – Reflections & Wellbeing Through Writing

A Guest Piece By Forty & Everything After For Lesley Pyne 

I was contacted by Lesley Pyne recently, whose website was an absolute blessing to me, when I finally felt able to look my childlessness full in the eye.

Lesley asked if I would write a guest post for her site – which supports childless women to heal and create a life they love. She hadn’t realised when she asked me that her site was the very first place I had ever shared a piece of writing publicly. It remains the hardest writing I have ever done. The hardest story I had to tell. And it was thanks to the inspiration and support I found on her website that I found the strength to do it.

If I could tell that story, strip myself bare – not just down to the skin, but to my absolute heart – release it into the wild, perhaps I could release some of my fear and pain, confusion and grief along with it. If I can write that, I can write anything.

And here we are now, on this blog what I made – Thank you Lesley :)

Read More »