Christmas, present…

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Image | Copyright Chiromancer 2017

I have always loved Christmas, even though I’m a grown up and don’t quite believe in Santa any more – well, a little bit of me does, so I always leave a carrot out for the reindeer, but that is another story!

I love the sparkly lights, I adore the shiny decorations, I sing along to cheesy Christmas songs. Most of all, I love Christmas dinner.  Well, everything except the Brussels Sprouts! Since I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere, we always had dinner on Christmas Eve –  doing a roast with all the trimmings on the day is a bit hectic when it’s 30 degrees celsius outside and you are dying for a swim instead of turkey with stuffing!

This year, my Christmas will be special.  My mom and middle sister are joining us – me, The Belgian & his 2 reindeer – for a continental Christmas. I feel so grateful we have this chance to connect and spend concentrated time together.  It’s been over a year since we’ve seen each other, and several years since we’ve had a family Christmas.  This brings a whole new set of blended traditions – crackers, trifle, hapjes and kroketten – unfortunately for me, I’m outnumbered by the Anglo-Belgian mini cabbage-lovers! 

One thing I do know – there will be loads of food, laughter and warm memories made. It’s the best present I could hope for. So…here’s my present for you –  wherever and however you choose to celebrate – I wish you peace, I wish you light, I wish you hope. Merry Christmas 2017!

Sisters under the skin…

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It may of course be my age and stage in life, but frankly I don’t care for the Kardashians, the TOWIE babes or any other half-witted, self-promoting bimbos. I may have boobs, but I do have brains, and no – my face isn’t at chest level nor is it surgically enhanced!

It seems to me that these days, superficial is super-cool, plastic (as in surgery and friend-fakery) is fantastic.  If you don’t have 40.5m followers on Twitter, you aren’t working hard enough. If you can’t influence on Facebook you are simply not worth friending.  Not writing your own cook-bake-make blog …while hand-knitting nappies for your test-tube triplets?  Shame on you, woman!  Worst of all, social media has given ordinary women such an inferiority complex, we have actually begun to buy the crap promulgated by popular culture. We actually think it’s ok to be a size zero, or to deprive ourselves of coffee, sex or ice-cream…all in pursuit of some photo-edited ideal that simply isn’t reality.

Instead of supporting each other, I see countless examples of women being disparaging about other women.  And no, the Kardashians are media freaks and do not count – they are only nice to themselves and Kanye!  Eating disorders are at an all time high. It’s estimated that 10% of young women will suffer this.  And the phenomena of on-line bullying is a worrying trend. Not content to bash you in the playground, girl-on-girl violence has evolved to the digital age. We’ll get you in cyberspace…For goodness sake, our’s is the era that has spawned the term ‘frenemy’…as in, people you loathe but are friends with? I rest my case!

As a grown up (sometimes) I’ve experienced first-hand how mean, petty and bitchy women can be. At one time, I used to be the only single woman at the dinner table…or not. Sometimes I was not invited, because being single clearly I must be on the hunt for a husband/promotion/shoes and therefore a huge threat.  Really? Shoes and promotion, I earned and paid for myself several times over.  Husband?  Well…I wouldn’t want to steal your bald, fat wallet! 

However, I’ve also seen how wonderful, supportive and giving women can be. Instead of competition, collaboration. Instead of combat, caring.  Women friends who hear your sobs and will be your solace, women friends who will cheer your success with champagne, women friends who leave money behind or buy you dinner, so you don’t need to worry about spending, women friends who will send you postcards so you don’t feel alone. Perhaps it’s a female destiny to love too much, feel too much or give too much…but it’s done gladly.

So here is a shout out to the women of my generation -my friends and my family. Let’s support each other. Let’s be present enough in each other’s lives to share the good moments, and the bad. Let’s be pleased for each other’s bravery, success or happiness – not envious. Let’s share the love, and magnify the support. Because…whether or not we are related… we are all sisters under the skin.

 

Sea fret…

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As Autumn magnificence fades into the melancholy of Winter, we’ve been treated to the most stunning fog here in the coastal reaches.  Soft tendrils of grey wrap the landscape, softening hard edges and blurring reality. It’s hard to see which way you are meant to be going.  Which is rather apposite, since I find myself wandering in the kind of limbo that only ever afflicts the sure-footed in times of flux.

Poised between two worlds – I’m finalising my affairs in the UK, in preparation for a move to the continent – I feel…fog-bound. Tied to a spiritual sea fret.  It’s hard to see which way I’m meant to be going.  I find myself in a new reality. All blurry edges and deeply confusing. Of course, I put this down to a mammoth ‘to do’ list which is just on the wrong side of overwhelming. As someone who is very work-orientated, I’m not so good at ‘down time’.

Although changing everything is a big step, it’s no leap of faith. I may not be sure footed at present, but I am sure about the love that beckons like a lightship from across the Channel.  Light is the best cure for fog. And love is the best cure for loneliness.

The Year of Living Dangerously…

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I’ve never considered myself a daredevil. I’m no coward, but as I get older, my sense of self preservation prevails over my sense of fun.  The realisation that if I break myself, I shall be unable to work is probably a more powerful incentive than wanting to show off my hell-raising skills.  Well, on occasion I have been known to channel my inner vixen on the dance floor, but that is the subject of another blog entirely!

For this reason, I tend to avoid hobbies like base jumping, snake charming or dancing the cha cha on the wings of an aeroplane. This year, I decided life would be a little different. Having laid out my annual manifesto in my Burning Woman post, I concluded that unless I learned to live dangerously, life would stay predictable. So…I took a risky decision. I dared to chance it all on love.

Which is why I now find myself commuting by ferry, celebrating Christmas in two countries, and generally leading a life I thought was well beyond the reach of one so resolutely single. Stepping up – and out  – of my comfort zone has been scary and exhilirating.  Kinda like dancing on the wings of an aeroplane. But you know…50,000 feet up, without oxygen…feels less like something life-threatening and a lot more like something lovely.

This festive season, I wish my family, friends and dedicated readers of this blog as much love, light and laughter as they can handle. Merry Christmas!

Home…

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If home is where your heart is, what happens if your heart has been stolen by someone in another country?  As some of my regular readers will know, I made my home in the coastal reaches several years ago.  In the small seaside town where I live, life has proceeded in fairly uninterrupted fashion.  That is, until The Girl in Row B met the man of her dreams halfway across the Channel.

I’m a firm believer in the power of the universe to grant wishes.  I’d asked for someone intelligent solvent, own hair and teeth, etc. I’m a Virgo (a.k.a. fussy), so as you can imagine, the product spec was quite lengthy...

In previously universal requests, I’d also mentioned I might like someone who didn’t live in the same place as me.  Now don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t wishing for someone on the other side of the planet, just someone who didn’t live in the same place as me. Not too near, not too far.

The lesson here is to be extremely careful what – or who – you wish for. Because I now find myself in the curious position of contemplating life on the continent, having just completed the renovations on my new house – which isn’t.  And this got me thinking…

A house is just bricks and mortar. It’s the memories you make with the people you love that create a home.  Wherever that might be.

The Girl in Row B…

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As a singleton, one of my fantasies always involved meeting Mr. Right on a plane. And no, this does not involve becoming a member of the mile-high club, so you can stop reading right away if that’s where you think this blog is going!  

Anyway… in this particular airborne dream, Mr. Unique would be sitting next to me – sharp suited and smelling of expensive aftershave.  I’d be channelling trans-atlantic chic. He’d be ruggedly handsome and interesting. I’d be interested. We’d talk and find we had so much in common…

Uh...well, I don’t know about you, but… the gods that rule the check in system seem to take particular delight in putting me next to smelly old men and sociopaths!  If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume this was some sort of cosmic prank.  On my last plane I sat next to a guy wearing socks, sandals and a comb-over!   And I haven’t even begun to tell you about the annoying parents who spent an entire long-haul flight back to SA, bickering with their three year old in between bickering with each other. There is a lot to recommend business class, and I’m not just talking real cutlery here!

Still, you do sometimes meet interesting people. Snoggable…? Erm…no.  Fascinating…most def!  On a flight back from the US, I met a guy who had invented robotic fish with hidden cameras, which were used for conservation purposes. In Finland, I met a super cute four-year old, who spent the entire flight introducing me to ‘Katten’ – her favourite cuddly toy…My Finnish is rubbish, but just as well I can speak ‘kid’.  I’ve also met a man who insured space ships for a living…sadly, there is no ‘alien abduction clause’…I checked!

For readers of this blog who think my rich imaginative life has been the balm that soothes the melancholy heart of a solo traveller?  Well, what I didn’t tell you was that the girl sitting in Row B also happened to be sitting next to the man of her dreams when she flew to Spain last weekend. We met mid-air, but not on a plane. He is…ruggedly handsome and interesting. He does not wear socks or sandals, and he smells good. Really good!  I am…of course, smitten. But that is the subject of another blog…

 

 

 

Loud like love…

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Since I work for myself, I am periodically required to do paperwork.  Yep, nothing so certain as death and taxes… 

I love my accountant, but I’m less keen on the rafts of invoices and receipts I need to submit each quarter. The only way I get through this is to pour a glass of wine – only one mind, clearly I can’t be doing with drunken submissions to the VAT man – and… to crank up the music. Placebo and Sugarcult usually do the trick.  There’s something about the nihilism of a good rock tune that makes my self-imposed bureaucracy more bearable. The louder, the better!

So today, as I find my feet tapping along with my fingers while I fill in yet another Excel spreadsheet… I’ve been thinking about the other things in life that are less certain than a P60.  Love, for instance…

It often arrives unannounced, unexpectedly and usually at the most inconvenient time. Boo yah!  If you aren’t factoring it into your life plan, it can be a bit terrifying. Sometimes it’s loud. Really, really loud. Accompanied by the bass beats of a hungry heart. Fireworks, even. Sometimes it sneaks up on you like a deadly assassin with a crossbow. You are bleeding terminally before you realise you’ve been eviscerated by cupid. Unlike death and taxes, if it’s real, it’s probably the one thing you can’t – and shouldn’t  – live without.  It’s also the one thing you can’t control, which for a control freak like me, is a bit like having those dreams where you are at school wearing pyjamas instead of a uniform…more on that in another blog! 

This post was inspired by the music of Placebo.