Where Love Grows

treeWhen I think of a holiday now I imagine lazy days where time is my own, the thrill of not knowing what each day will bring and the opportunity to have some down time.

Rewind the clock by 28 years and I’m 16 with the thought of a holiday raising my heart rate in excitement. Is it the down time or the lazy days that I anticipate so breathlessly?

Neither.

It’s the possibility of romance.

That elusive little spark called love first flickered into existence in precisely this setting. In my fantasies I was holding hands with a tall dark stranger under the stars on an exotic beach. In reality I was holding a mop bucket for a muscled blonde stranger on a heaving boat in the middle of the North Sea!

Now that’s what I call a reality check!

First Sight

This blonde stranger was one of twelve 16-18 year olds crewing on a 72 ft yacht as part of the Ocean Youth Club program in the UK. I had convinced my parents that it was very safe to send me away for a week at sea, bunking down in mixed gender cabins and going without a shower for longer than is sanitary!

Five school friends and I set off on our adventure of a life time at the tender age of 16, waving anxious parents goodbye on the dockside at Ipswich. Feeling excited and giggling with nerves we chose our bunks and met the rest of the crew.

And that’s when I saw him.

Taller than the rest, obviously the oldest amongst us, he carried himself with a swagger that claimed ownership of anything he graced with his presence.

 I detested him immediately.

Swearing, smoking and cocksure, I found every opportunity to challenge his innate sense of authority. I wanted to put him in his place.

And it wasn’t long before I did.

Sailing across the North Sea is a dirty business. A heaving boat leads to heaving stomachs and after two days at sea we arrived in Holland and were promptly given the task of cleaning the vessel.

Now I had a face that looked like butter-wouldn’t-melt and nobody believed there was an evil bone in my body. For these angelic qualities I was rewarded with the important job of allocating the cleaning amongst the crew. And allocate I did.

The ‘Heads’

The nautical term for a toilet is a head.

With a bit of imagination you can imagine how these minimally equipped facilities fare when being frequented by 17  people. Add to that the disturbing lurching from side to side, the chronic sea-sickness and the lack of a toilet brush and you’ve pretty much got a watered down version of how appealing they are!

Using the heads is like trying to pee in a potty on bouncy castle. There’s a lot of room for error!

So it was with great satisfaction that I allocated this job to Swagger Boy. Of course I wasn’t a complete bitch – I offered to supervise him!

It turns out that Swagger Boy had never cleaned a toilet, so I taught him! And it was somewhere between passing the disinfectant and wringing out the cloth that our eyes met across the mop bucket and something flickered between us.

Well, maybe it didn’t happen quite like that but indulge me, there has to be a place for fantasy somewhere in this story!

What did I discover while cleaning the heads with Swagger Boy?

That  we shared a sense of humour, that we loved to challenge convention, that we had a chemistry between us that made me breathless.

His slightest touch was electric and my senses were super-charged when I was near him.

What did he see in me? Well I like to think it went beyond the fact that out of the 6 girls on board I was the only one who wasn’t sea sick!

There’s nothing quite so unattractive as the whiff of last nights dinner re-surfacing during a kiss!

We were kindred spirits. Adventurous. Rebellious. Carefree.

Swagger Boy was my first love and I light up from within when I remember these times.

He was also my adventure of a life time.

first love holiday romance

 

 

And we are still living that lifetime together. 

 

 

Love 24 years on

 

In Celebration of Friends #friendsday

Besties

Besties

After bemoaning the fact that I was lacking inspiration on what to blog this week, I put the phone down to my Bestie and thought about what she’s said:

I love reading your blog posts, you always write something amazing, I don’t know where it comes from!

Don’t under-sell yourself.

That was just what I needed to hear – support, encouragement and belief.

 

And that got me thinking about friends.

What are they and why are they so important to us?

Most people seem to have at least one, some have more than a dozen.

There is definitely an invisible compass that measures the degrees of friendship, letting you know when you cross the line between good friend and BFF. Female friendships are more tricky than boyfriends, primarily because you (usually) only have one boyfriend at a time, but you can have multiple friends. Unlike multiple boyfriends, you can introduce your friends to each other and although it’s not necessarily a ‘match made in heaven’, a punch up isn’t guaranteed either!

I have shared my life with many friends from different countries, continents and cultures, and this week I’m reflecting on the complex beauty of those relationships.

My five favourite friendship quotes and how they define my friendships:

 

Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.

Shirley Maclaine.

I’m a big believer in opening your heart to people and diving in! Fear of rejection, feelings of inadequacy and over-thinking things holds too many people back from making friendships that could change lives. Don’t make strangers of people who could bring you inspiration, joy and adventure!

 

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod, my shadow does that much better.

Plutarch

Well said Plutarch! I did not choose my friends to humour me, they are there because I value their opinions, individuality and originality! When I ask my friends what they think, I know I can expect honesty sweetened  with a measure of compassion when necessary! Because I respect my friends I work hard to be honest in return, even if that means having the difficult conversations when things aren’t quite going to plan.

 

Men kick friendship around like a football, but it doesn’t seem to crack. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces.

Anne Morrow Lindberg.

Wow, this one rings true! The simplicity of male friendships is enviable at times, but it’s the complexity of all that emotional investment that makes my female friendships so intense! I have had friendships that are like delicately blown glass, they are beautiful and absorbing, but so easily broken! Sometimes it’s a clumsy word, a miscommunication that shatters it, but the fall-out is usually messy and leaves more than a few scars.

 

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood.

Lucious Anneaus Seneca

These friends are the BFFs of my life. When I’m with them I feel like I’m on the same page, the same wave length in mind, body and soul. These friends understand my passions, pains and petulant moods! They are the cornerstones of my life and although they number few, they are as essential as breathing itself.

 

A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from dying out completely.

Pam Brown.

‘Little and often’ is my personal motto; I thrive best when I receive regular texts, random acts of kindness and quirky birthday cards. I strive to give the same back but I confess that my long distance friends do suffer neglect at times. Those friends who depend on me finding the time to write an email, send a photo or make a phone call have had to survive in some very thin soil! And that is why I thank Mark Zuckerman for creating a tool that enables the lazy busy friend to connect and comment, share a photo and never have an excuse to forget a birthday! Thank you Facebook!

You help me to mulch, water and grow my friendships around the world.

 

Lets turn today into a day to celebrate a friend.

Mark Zuckerberg  #friendsday!

 

This post is dedicated to MJP my BFF with love x

 

Do You Have A Vision?

vision board collage dreamsA Vision of Chaos!

Little did I know that a hot hectic day in the middle of January would mark the birth of something so special.  It was just a little thing that became a big thing without me realising it was even happening!

 

After a disgustingly early start for school holidays, (we already had 2 hours of football training done and dusted before 10.30am) I was foraging under Berry’s bed, discovering missing school hats, dirty washing and random Lego pieces in preparation for the arrival of 3 excitable 12-year-old boys. It wasn’t until sometime later (probably before the tenth pizza and between shouts of ‘Marco’ and ‘Polo’ from the pool) that I realised I had doubled booked myself.

 

I had been invited to attend a vision board session hosted by Veronica Smith from The In8 Parent,  but had also planned a multiple sleepover for Berry on the same night. Thinking that Veronica probably wasn’t expecting a vision of chaos with my pre-teen entourage in tow, I called Excel-Man to bail me out! Needless to say feeding, entertaining and refereeing the rowdy crowd while I went to a ‘women’s thing’ was an underwhelming prospect!

 

So that’s how I left the house, harassed, hot and feeling like it was all too much like hard work!

 

I had not given the vision board a second thought all day, and I was totally un-prepared for what was to come. In a weak effort to show some enthusiasm I’d armed myself with scissors, glue stick and coloured pens, but I was ready for a passive sit-back-and-zone-out session where other people did the talking and I nodded thoughtfully.

 

But…it turns out that you have to create your own vision!!

 

Faced with a table of magazines, a blank sheet of card and a bowl of Cadbury’s Favourites I sat back to flick though the pictures, eat some chocolate and chill for the first time that day.

 

I really didn’t have a clue what I was looking for!

 

Having just discovered that a vision board was a personal, flexible, visual creation, representing your hopes, dreams and goals I felt a bit brain-dead visionless.

 

So I decided that I’d just cut out pretty pictures. I way was too tired to think about hopes, dreams and goals.

 

And then something happened.

 


 

It

began

very slowly.

I didn’t even notice

inspiration seeping in.

Cutting, sticking and creating

a vision of me and all I want to be.

 


 

A Vision of Me

 

Without realising it, I had started to shed the layers of mother, wife, teacher and friend. Pictures began to form a vision of me.

 

vision of me

 

My vision board didn’t get finished that evening, but it began germinating.

 

I watered it with hope, fertilised it with dreams and I left it in the sunshine of opportunity.

A vision was growing.

 

For the next few weeks I collected magazines where-ever I went and when I had the house to myself one afternoon I set about completing my vision board. It turned out like this.

 

finished vision board

My vision of home, heart, health and happiness

And now the vision board sits right in front of my desk, and while I write I look up at it and pause.

It affirms what I want in life.

It reminds me to connect, grow and create.

It inspires me to be passionate in all that I do.

It speaks to me of fulfilment, love and family connections.

My vision board is who I am, and who I will be, and I love it.

 

Links you may find useful

 

If you’re interested in creating your own vision board here are a couple of useful links: