finding Him

How was your day, today, my love?

Was the train on time?
Did your meetings all go well?
Did you work your lunch, or take the time, to look
out of the window at that bluest of blue sky we had today
and wonder if I’d seen it too?
And are you seeing friends tonight?
Or snugging in
with season four, a beer and take away?

My day?

The same …
the train, the meetings all went well, the lunch, the bluest of blue sky,
the friends, the snugging in …
and yes, I did, take time to wonder about you.

I know,
it’s strange
… you haven’t met me yet, don’t even know my name.
Our ordinary days go by, our lives evolve,
our paths wind on their way.

But know that, on just one of your so ordinary days
You will look up and see me there and wonder
is it her?
The one who I’ve been waiting for?

And I will feel the same.

Don’t rush, my love.
That day will come and if the time is right,
There’ll be no need to shout, and wave to stand out from the crowd.
Our paths will cross
And I will know you are the one
And you will know it too.

And there will be no more so ordinary days …
… and you will know for sure that when you see the bluest of blue sky

… that I have seen it too.

x

 

 

 

 

finding Positive Solitude

 

 

“Claim your space. Draw a circle of light around it. Push back against the dark. Don’t just survive. Celebrate.”

(Charles Frazier)

 

She had never heard the expression “positive solitude” until a few days before, but it described perfectly the place she was on her journey.  

When she left her marriage, she knew loneliness would be her achilles heel, so had, of necessity, taught herself to embrace solitude.  The thought of a day on her own still had the capacity to leave a dull thud in her stomach and an uneasiness which she couldn’t quite put her finger on.  But, for the most part, she could get through a day alone, in fact, more than get through….

She found that keeping busy, or at the very least, having a plan, was the key.  Yes, of course, those plans very often displayed all the symptoms of running away, to escape the day-to-day, to break the routine where the silence of no early morning message from him would break her heart again and again. And sometimes, those plans were the end result of anger and defiance standing firm together in a “sod it, I don’t need anyone” kind of way.  Of course, in an ideal world, she would have given anything to be with someone who loved her, simple as that. But there is a difference between wanting and needing.  It took all her strength, but it was that anger, disappointment and hurt that gave her the momentum finally to step out into the world and say “bring it on”.

Holidaying alone, of course, was something else altogether, though she found that fear, when you are brave enough to look it in the eye, has nowhere to go.  

Florence was her first solo trip.  Alone, she spoke less, noticed more … and those moments when it would have been so wonderful, later, to say “Do you remember when …?”, sat in her memory bank alone.  More than anything, she came home with a sense of achievement that made her spirits sour, and still the memory of speeding through the Tuscan hills on a Vespa, that life-affirming rush, that freedom of spirit, left her grinning from ear to ear.

And so to Lisbon. A last minute, need to get on with my life, kind of booking … without any preconceived notions of what to expect.  A deliberate attempt not to be too touristy, to step out of her comfort zone a little further than before. 

And so, she sat typing this story, in a sun dappled courtyard just east of Alfama, the hilly artisan quarter of the town.  A local resident, Jose, popped his head out of his window and offered to put on his favourite fado music to keep her company.  Hauntingly beautiful voices, mending all those lost dreams in a soothing wave of melodies floating through the lemon trees, the delicate blues of heady agapanthus and lavender, across the white washed terrace outside her tiny apartment. For all Lisbon had to offer, she would remember most the magic of that moment. It was perfect.

She realised how far she had come.  So terrified before of even being alone, here she was, in a foreign land without a single soul to turn to. For her, this was being brave beyond her wildest imagination, and she knew she would be fine.  That’s quite a journey!

 

finding Her Path

IMG_2057

“He who is outside his door, already has the hardest part of his journey behind him” (Dutch proverb)

She found herself again on that same bench. It was one of those mornings when Summer isn’t quite ready to let itself fade into Autumn.  

It was one of those days when she woke up, and, despite a good night’s sleep, it felt like being brave was just too hard.  It was sometimes.  With the best will in the world, and despite doing all the right things, some days it really all felt just too hard.  But she did know that one of the right things to do … was to get outside.  

Five minutes from where she lived was the most glorious park that had been within walking distance for the best part of her adult life.  It was the must-go place for firework displays every November, which she’d gone to with her boyfriend, then to be her husband, then the father of her children, who themselves had been thrilled at the ever noisier pyrotechnics.  For the boating lake, always a draw for silly teenage antics, and home to a variety of tail-wiggling ducks and haughty swans, so frighteningly humanised and bloated by the constant availability of crusts from over-zealous toddlers.  For the stunning landscaping, with a clear nod to Capability Brown, it’s perfectly placed trees and gentle hills … hills for screaming down riding out-of-control toboggans speeding to the water’s edge, hills for chasing dogs careering towards the resident geese, hills for pram-pushing a overwrought baby in need of an afternoon nap.  So many memories.

And so, it was almost without thinking, that, on the day she left her marriage, she should find herself there in that park, on that bench.  Back then, so absorbed in the enormity of what had happened, she hardly noticed anything around her.  Passers-by, though curious to see a middle-aged woman sobbing her heart out in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, would have scurried past, best not to interfere.  She could only remember the overwhelming sadness but also sense of relief, like her lungs weren’t big enough, and the total shock and fear, as it dawned on her that she had taken that first irreversible step on her journey.  

The bench was set high up in a dappled grove, tucked away from the activity around the lake.  Today, she could see from her vantage spot, a straggling crocodile of year 8’s, their red and black uniforms appearing then disappearing between the trees as they reluctantly jogged their way around the lake’s perimeter. One athletic boy determined to lap his classmates and show off to the girls, who of course giggled and feigned disinterest.  Life seems to simple when you’re young.  And a lone walker, with a frisky spaniel darting its way between the bushes, determined to catch the waterfowl unawares.  

Back sitting on the bench again, over four years later, she contemplated her journey since that afternoon, and realised how far she had come, and that she had been brave …. and that it was OK sometimes, to feel like she hadn’t the energy to be brave any more.  She sat, closed her eyes, and tried to make sense of it all.  It was at once overwhelming and terrifying all over again, her lungs still did not feel big enough, but for all that, not for a minute, had she looked back and ever thought leaving was the wrong thing to do.

She looked up, and realised for the first time, that the grove was planted with oak trees, growing stronger by the day and standing firm, there at the top of the hill. Oak trees rustling in the crisp morning breeze, heavy with acorns, some already fallen,  starting to spread out new roots, creating new beginnings.  Just like her.  

 

finding how to Face Your Fears

Funny thing, fear.

It has the potential to paralyse us, to insist we dismiss other options and go for what is safe, to stop us looking forward, to anaesthetise us from pain, to put the brakes on any ridiculous thoughts we might have of doing something wildly adventurous, to trap us in our comfort zone, to force a “no” from our lips when we should be squealing a “yes”. Tricky little blighter, fear, that’s for sure.

Unfounded or not, fear has different boundaries for each and everyone of us. And those boundaries are dictated by our life experiences, and how, having looked fear in the eye (by choice or not) … we have come out the other side. When we face fear, we reset the boundaries, which in itself is terrifying and utterly exhilarating at the same time.

None of us have any idea how our lives will turn out. But we all have a choice. Either to stay in our comfort zone, taking reassurance in the familiar, knowing that even if something does rock its foundation, in essence we can tuck ourselves back into the safety of its warm embrace and sideline change as best we can.  Or to recognise and embrace an opportunity, open our mind to the possibility that different might even be better, and take meaningful steps to live the life we want to live .

It all comes down to be brave enough to try.

She had discovered that, once looked in the eye, fear has little place to go.  And it was that realisation, more than anything else, that had changed her life.

There was no stopping her now!

 

 

 

finding 445 Days

FullSizeRender (9)

Day 444. His message read, “I’m leaving with the morning tide”.

A lifetime before, it was his freedom of spirit that had called to her soul. Those impenetrable eyes that would always seem to hide his darkest secrets, sparkling then, as he told her of his plans to sail the world, of being brave enough to dream impossible dreams.

So how it would end, was written from the start.  A cautious heart with any sense of self preservation would have wished him well and moved on.  Hers was neither, and in that moment as she fell under his spell, the pendulum set in motion, marking their days.  

The other lady in his life had stood proud and tall at the marina’s edge when at last they were introduced, and later, as the three of them glided out into the heady blue, the wind caught the mainsail,  and their spirits soared as one.  Anchored under the stars that night, time, it seemed, stood still.

The months passed. She waited and watched in awe, while he poured over tidal charts, swathes of blue surrounding tiny dots of paradise, and lavished his every waking hour on resolutely fettling his dream into a reality. She breathed his salty air as it seeped into her very core, and, for all the voices that told her she was crazy to give up everything she knew for his dream, she believed him when he said “meet me on the other side”.  

The last day. He silently slipped the ropes, a morning fog wrapping its icy fingers around the bow, stealing her heart and the promise of their tomorrows. She held her breath as the pendulum caught the final whisper of the prevailing breeze, it’s heartbeat faltered, and stopped.  

He took with him a piece of her, lost to the heady blue and the whim of the salty skies ….. and was gone.

First published by Reflex Fiction (Spring 2017)

 

finding Summer

I love you
I love you
I love you

No need to say it back

I tell you
because it’s how you make me feel
because somewhere in the depths of
this bruised heart of mine

is a feeling that is
for you alone
and I will shower you with it
like confetti

because it makes every day
feel

like Summer

finding Bigger Dreams

It was the usual kind of question you ask when you first meet someone, and she was expecting the usual kind of answer.

“Where do you live?”

He looked at her with those impenetrable steely blue eyes that would always fascinate her as she tried to work out exactly what he was thinking.  She never really did. He never let her, or anyone else for that matter, see into the depths of his soul.  But in that moment, he knew that what he was about to say was not the usual kind of answer.  The slightest smile crossed his lips. Lips she would grow to love and yearn to feel touching her own.  A teasing glint in those fathomless eyes.

“I live on a yacht.  And one day I’m going to sail the world”.

He watched her, those eyes sparkling, challenging her to react.  Her heart missed a beat, his freedom of spirit reached toward her, wrapped its arms around her fragile heart, showing her in an instant how life could be made of bigger dreams, bigger than she could even dare imagine.

They talked, lips moved, eyes met …. but neither of them heard any more. Life went on around them while their moment stood silent and still, waiting for them to give it a name, waiting for them to breathe out and know that this was their time.  He knew it.  And so did she. It was their time.

 

 

 

finding Love at First Sight

How was it possible to just glance and see him sitting there,
and know?

How had my heart bruised my chest with the force of its beat,
when I hadn’t even seen his face?

How did I know it was our destiny to meet,
when I could simply have walked on by?

How had fate interwoven our paths and lead us there,
without a warning bell?

How might I have missed him altogether,
if I had passed by later, just by a minute or two?

How did I find him and open my heart,
when looking for love was so far from my mind?

How did I not even know his name, that he existed at all,
until then?

How can a normal day become an extraordinary day,
when everything changed?

How did all that happen …

… the moment I walked in the room?

Also published by Mantra Mood (September 2017)

finding Love, Again

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”

(D H Lawrence, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”)

A year since he had broken her heart, almost to the day.

A year of finding her way through an emotional whirlpool of desperation, anger, devastating sadness, fear, loneliness, self-doubt … let no-one say that letting go is easy.  It is not.

Nonetheless, she’d made it through.  Where once the thought of just getting through a day seemed more than she could bare, at last she found herself looking forward instead of wondering what could have been. She no longer needed to wear the mask that told the world she was fine … because she was.   She had chiselled away at the mountain of hurt with a courage and determination that she would no longer let it stand in her way.

They say you have to love yourself, before you can love someone else. She understood that now, and perhaps that had been the problem all along. While she struggled to find out who she really was, she’d looked to him to fill in all the gaps, to show her the way, to prop her up as she dipped those first tentative toes into her new life. May be it had all been too much to ask.

The past cannot be changed, so the only way forward is to accept it, learn from it, and find out a way to mend. She was still finding out, but she’d come a long way  in a year… and it showed.

She could feel the life she’d imagined pulling her forward and she ran to it , arms outstretched, with the hope and belief that it was hers to live, right there, just in front of her grasp.  She had come through, trusted in her journey, and her heart was open. She felt a force coming towards her, so strong that it would change her life.

So when, a few days later,  she saw him for the first time, she knew …

 

Also published in Mantra Mood (September 2017)

 

 

 

finding Hope

“Patience means knowing it will happen . . . and giving it time to happen.”
(Susan Jeffers, “Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway”)

Hope comes in all forms. Those who love us, truly love us, are there no matter what. To listen, even when they’ve heard it all before and they knew, truth be told, that this was how things would end. It’s the knowing that they are there, no matter what, that forms the foundation for the journey forward. The knowing that their support will never change. Those kind of friendships are the precious ones, the ones we should never take for granted, the ones we should treasure.

What surprised her however, was the hope that came from the most unexpected places, the most unexpected people, those unexpected drops of hope that ripple out, and change the course of things forever. Hers came from a wonderful colleague, someone she saw every day, who, unbeknown to her, had observed her from afar, and felt troubled by what she saw. It is extraordinary how our emotional state manifests itself in our physical being. She’d seen it herself in another friend, an elegant, beautiful woman, full of exuberance and sparkle, who seemed to have faded away, had lost her very essence of being. She recognised the signs right away. A woman does. “He was so beautiful” she’d sighed. And he had broken her heart.

She felt it too, but did not realise how it showed, until that colleague gently stopped her one day at work, and offered her a book about facing up to fear. The generosity of the gesture overwhelmed her. So humbling to receive such kindness, such care from someone she hardly knew.

Little did she realise then, but that simple gesture, that tiny fragile drop of hope, changed everything. It had never before occurred to her, that, at the very time when she felt so very afraid, that her life was so out of control, that her heart would never mend …… she had the power within herself, to control it all. It was nothing short of a revelation.

She saw, as if for the first time,  the incredible love that surrounded her, and started to accept the things she could not change. And she finally released those tears she had held back for long, and breathed out his betrayal like a black soot from her lungs. She was beginning to mend.

We are all the sum of our journey, and the person she was with him, created, for better or worse, the person she was now. Hope was not lost, it was just that hope with him was lost.

Letting go took a year, almost to the day, but she was still here, still loved, and still had before her a whole extraordinary life to live.

There is always hope …