All About The (Baby) Boy

Being able to share in someone’s joy is a distinct privilege and honour, especially when it is due to a life changing event.  Earlier this week our department threw a baby shower for a colleague.   A few of us early birds gathered in the decorated office, eagerly awaiting her entrance and consequent reactionary surprise.  Sleepy-eyed and unaware of the spotlight, she breezed in to find a sea of faces gazing upon her, lit with mischievous smiles, glistening eyes and, with bated breath, we watched her expression change from quiet calm to happy chaos.  Balloons bobbed around on weighted ribbons, others taped to her computer screen; bunting and banners adorned walls and doors; wispy pastel coloured shapes floated down from the ceiling; a ‘Mum to be’ sash sat perched on the back of her chair, wanting to be worn; and a large blue-iced sponge cake with letter block design atop, sat proudly at the centre of her desk, hand made by a colleague.  Suffice to say she was shocked. Once we felt she had been embarrassed enough we dispersed wishing her a happy shower day. 

At lunch time we laid out the party food, to which we’d all contributed, enough to afford us lunches and snacks for the remainder of the week.  On display, upon a cleared desk sat a large cardboard box, dressed in baby themed wrapping paper, overflowing with gifts. Rather than a collection we’d opted to buy presents individually. For a department of around 20 staff this was an impressive, and very generous, haul. 

Now, I’m not a fan of babies, but I am a fan of parties, especially of helping to organise them; and this party was extra special.  The mum-to-be silently suffers an irrelievable pain that comes from being unable to carry your own child. What should be every woman’s natural born right – to procreate – has been denied her; for a woman with such maternal instincts and desire for a child, this truly is one of life’s cruellest injustices. However much it will remain a tragic lament in the depths of her heart, it should pale into insignificance thanks to the imminent arrival of a 9month old baby boy into her and her partner’s lives.

The adoption process is arduous and characteristically intrusive with good reason of course; the safeguarding of a child is paramount; but considering two spotty teenage oiks can perform a drunken have-at-it and immediately fall pregnant, the lengths two genuine and decent people have to go to seems relentlessly burdening.  Still, perseverance has proffered what they wished for; a child to raise and call their own. Biology isn’t everything and it’ll make them no less of a Mummy and Daddy, in fact it’ll make them more so.

After the lunch and gift opening had finished and all was cleared away, as if right on cue, she received a call from her social worker to confirm the adoption had been signed off and paperwork was in the post. It was official. All that remains is for them to be introduced and, at the end of a week of supervised meets, bring him home; a beautiful new chapter to begin together. 

For the rest of us, we are all sharing in their joy. We’ve been kept in the loop over the last year as to what stage they were at; the trials, the hopes, the upsets and now the reward.  It’s fair to say that we all feel we’ve adopted a part of this baby boy; we are Aunties in waiting (and one Uncle.) No doubt we’ll be seeing him inside and outside of the office very soon.

On the whole, at work, we are a unified team. The women I work with are incredibly compassionate, generous, loving, caring.  Having been on the receiving end of the cushion of love and support they instinctively provide at times of need, I knew exactly how the mum-to-be felt….overwhelmed.  Needless to say the bubba has no idea how much love and fun he is about to inherit from his new folks….not to mention his army of work Aunties!  How unique it is to proudly call your colleagues family.

JG 23.05.15 

Chasing Happiness

Sometimes you get an overwhelming compulsion to run away or to radically alter yourself/your life; perhaps both.  Either way they are escapist notions born out of sheer boredom.  Suddenly the life you lead becomes insufficient, mundane, frustratingly routine.  The work you do is no longer challenging; the relationship you are in becomes stagnant; the stay at home mum gets tired of laundry and relentless tidying.  Life gets dull for us all from time to time.  And this is where I’ve found myself recently.

It’s taken a few weeks to get to a point where I needed a time out, whereby my tolerance for everyone and everything fell through the floor – not ideal when you are mentoring trainee staff that constantly need answers to their questions.  Suffice to say I had to apologise to one patience-testing individual who, on the second occasion that I snapped at last week, I told to ‘piss off before I slap you one.’  Fortunately I am well known enough for my reaction to be seen as both out of character and in jest (ish.)  No lasting harm done; not that there is ever an excuse for having a bad attitude, hence my apology.  This, and other coinciding events, brought me to one single conclusion – I needed to be alone.  Frankly, and ideally, a month or two on an isolated beach with zero interaction with any human being is what I fantasised about; but for the self-employed woman, just beginning a renewed contract, a long weekend had to make do.

I sat on my bench on the green after work on Thursday night and called my Mum regarding the day, the decisions, the tears with colleagues, aka my mini meltdown.  I said that I have so much planned for May/June that I barely have a weekend free and that, while I am looking forward to them, I’m not excited.  I’m not excited about anything lately.  I have become increasingly unhappy, and when you feel unhappy there isn’t a physical thing you can do to change it; you just have to let it pass.  Happiness is an inherent state of being; not a beach you are on, not the job you are in, nor even the company you keep;  but all of those things can perpetuate your happiness if you are already within that place.  I digress.

So my Mum wished that I would hurry up and settle down, preferably up North nearer to where they moved to, put some roots down, instead of always, “Chasing happiness.”  Those two words, unbeknownst to her, stopped me in my tracks.  ‘Chasing happiness.’  Is that what I do?  Given some thought it becomes a desperately depressing statement.  Am I the (relatively) young, free and single girl with money to spend, places to visit, experiences to have whose ideology is spontaneity?  Or am I the middle-aged purposeless woman, filling my free time with adventures and escapism to evade an otherwise crippingly lonely existence?  Do my escapades from hotel to motel; North coast to South coast; theatre to opera and everywhere inbetween simply fill an aching void before a meaning, a reason, a purpose for my time on Earth finally presents itself?

Chasing happiness….

I don’t regard myself as unhappy, generally; I’m just having a blip.  Mundanity has crept in.  Running away, as idyllic as it sounds, is never a solution.  Problems will simply pack their bags and tell the cab they just got into to follow yours.  Time out is good though, to find some peace and quiet, some solitude away from the daily clucking of fellow battery caged office workers.

The long weekend of doing what I pleased and having quality time with the tonic that is my best pal has calmed my stormy seas, for now.  Old routines must go, mundanity is not acceptable.  Big changes are a must, but for now, it’s back to work tomorrow….more relaxed….and hopefully with a better attitude.

Perhaps I should apologise to my colleagues in advance….just in case…!

JG
27.04.15

And Then…..You 

The night before we meet

(Though we’re totally unaware

To this do we’ll both be going)
I wonder what I’ll wear
The dawn before we meet
I think about the day
Where I’ll be, what I’ll do
If the sun will chase this grey
The afternoon before we meet
Tomorrow comes to mind
A meal for one, a film at home
A chance to sit, unwind 
All that was has changed
For now is when we meet 
Despite the crowd, your eyes meet mine
And we forget to speak

Rebel Girls – Wake Up Call

I time-travelled this morning; sadly not in the Doc and Marty sense. You know when something sends you instantly to a previous time of your life….a smell, a song, a season…..suddenly you are transported. It is quite incredible, quite powerful, to know that your brain can instantaneously return you to a feeling that you hadn’t had for such a long time; a time and a feeling that can never be repeated, it was exclusive to that period of your life. And yet, with that one song…

It is a rare occasion, these days, that I will let my mobile phone alarm play the entirety of whichever song I have selected. Usually, no sooner have I heard the first chord I hit the snooze button, repeatedly, until it’s at least an hour and a half post wake-up time and I’m running late for work. This morning, quite by accident, I let it play. I was having such an in depth dream (where all the satellites orbiting the Earth, fell in one big, simultaneous hit across the globe; mostly in my back garden, in case you were wondering) that the song became a part of the dream. Before I knew it I was jolted awake, bopping along in by bed to Incubus’ “Rebel Girls.”

I bloody love that song. I only found it around this time last year, perhaps a little later, just as Spring had sprung. I have remarked on this before, but that was the start of an incredible few months for me. Hearing that song play out took me straight back there; and whilst I basked in that formidable memory for a few moments, recalling the excitement, the promise, the new experiences, the romance, my regular visits to my beloved Brightonia and most of all, the amazing feeling of being truly alive; it got me thinking about now and what a difference a year makes.

So much can happen in life. You gain people, you lose people; you may change your job; your finances. There is relentless change. The friend, who became a lover, is now lost from my life. The conversations we used to have were highly entertaining and insightful, but it clearly was not meant to continue. Another friend walked away from me last year without reason, but that’s okay too, that brief friendship had more than run its course. There was so much light at the start of 2014 and yet towards the Autumn it became so dark with the strain that cancer puts on a family; I truly find it incredible how things can change so rapidly in such a small amount of time.

2015 has begun quite non-descript, which is probably a blessing in itself. For a couple of people I know the absolute unthinkable has happened to their loved ones – one couple are coming to terms with the loss of a child to illness; another friend is coming to terms with a sibling being imprisoned in what has been a heart-breaking miscarriage of justice. I am quite thankful for the monotony given what could be happening. Although to say ‘monotony’ is doing life an injustice. There are things happening; I have more savings than I’ve ever had, which is all going towards my deposit for my Brightonian (or nearabouts) home; I’ve been given a further 6months contract at work, which is amazing and has smashed any prior longevity of contract before now and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still there at Christmas! Which would be just fabulous.

Maybe it’s not all the same vibrancy of what last Spring had to offer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In these quieter times, we can put all those little pieces of life together. We can reflect, appreciate, send our gratitude out into the ether. Personally I feel nothing but love and thankfulness for all that has been; and use this time to appreciate the calm which is such a blessing after all the stress of last year. My brain can calm itself ready for whatever is coming next. I may not have a song attached to this period to send me into rapturous reverie this time next year, but it doesn’t make now any less poignant.

How wonderful that Rebel Girls, no matter what happens in life, will always fill me with joy.

Have a marvellous day.

xx

Saying Goodbye

A final goodbye is such a peculiar hour. Today I attended the funeral of a Great Aunt. She was 94yrs old, widow to her husband who had died over four years prior. He had reached over 100yrs old; they had been married for 71yrs. They had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. They were adorable people and a loving couple. My Great Uncle, was the sweetest, most gentile and kindest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I remember them both very fondly. As with all goodbyes, it was a sad and sombre affair, reflecting on the loss of a loved one, but also turning the focus to your own life. The reality of death makes you ask yourself if you are living enough, if you are free, if you are doing it right.

Maybe it’s my advancing years and rapid approach to midlife, but at this service I found myself worrying about my own inevitable funeral. Should I live to a ripe(ish) age, the generations before me will likely be gone. As I have no children of my own and am never likely to, just who will be left to see me off? I won’t be remembered as that loving matriarch who had the longevity of a harmonious married life; a soulmate; a family. Okay so, by the time I die, if fate is in my favour, I may have my soulmate, I may even have that longevity of marriage, but I won’t have the family. I have never been that way inclined.

It struck me as odd today that I’m not pro motherhood, personally. I am missing the maternal gene, yet I have so much love to give, so much compassion; I think I’d make an awesome mum. All bar one of my cousins have ever growing families of their own. Despite being older than some of them I remain partnerless, marriageless and childless. It filled me with a desperate fear that I may truly end up alone; with merely a few blue rinses from the bingo at my funeral, mostly happy that with one less player there’ll be more money in the winnings pot for them.

There’s not a great deal I can do about that. Some of us are meant for certain things, others…not so much. One can only hope that at my final goodbye, no matter who is left behind, that if I am thought of half as much as those that have gone before me, I must be doing something right.

One can only hope.

Happy New Year!

Ah….a new year….and what a change already. For the first time in a long time I haven’t been glad to see the back of it. 2014 was good to me, on the whole. It began somewhat dubiously but ended on a high with new additions to my life that have come to mean a lot.

2014 saw a romance, albeit brief; friendships lost; friendships gained; the long awaited finality of an insurance claim; a nice amount of saved earnings putting me well on my way to having a deposit for when I buy my first property (hopefully this year); my Mum beating cancer down again; my first holiday in years…..all sorts of things. Pretty awesome! And I am excited. Excited about my future. Even though I still have no clue what I’m meant to be doing! It will come, all in good time.

The best thing to come from last year is a new level of peace. I am happy in myself right now. I have a good head on my shoulders; I’m under no illusion that the peace could be shattered at any moment, so it’s worth being thankful for every day that passes without a scrape, and thankful I am.

Today, for some reason, I found myself being excited about love. There’s no-one special in my life at the moment, no-one remotely of potential for holding my interest, yet I’m still excited! I think it’s because, deep down, I have faith that I will find the absolute one. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes anymore. Even if I found her on my dying day, it would be utterly worth it, just to feel that all consuming, all powerful love….the real thing. I have had love in my life but not the love of my life. She is out there. Somewhere. Going about her day. Maybe hoping to meet ‘me’ too. Wondering when she is going to meet the one to be bamboozled by. How can that be anything other than exciting?! It seems impossible from time to time, but I remain inspired by the notion.

Workwise, I have three months left of my contract and then I am to be set free….who knows where I’ll end up. I know where I’m hoping to be, but time will tell. Frankly, I can’t wait! Although it will be a painful day in March when I pack up and leave….there will be tears. I love them all, it has been a distinct pleasure to be back in that family.

Whatever happens to you this year, may you all be blessed with success and thank you for taking time out to read my little bloggy.

Sending love,

Joey
X

Minimalism Is The New Black

materialistic

adjective
1.
excessively concerned with physical comforts or the acquisition of material things rather than spiritual, intellectual, moral, or cultural values.
“Consumerism:

A social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts.”

There is something about shopping that can render it a most exhilarating experience. Maybe it’s the sense of achievement; perhaps of status? Walking away from a shopping centre with bags galore, you can’t help but feel somewhat elevated in mood, albeit a bit knackered of feet.

I own these things.

I earned these things.

These things have made me happy.

Or have they?

This elevation is only limited to time and mood. In the blink of an eye they both pass, and what you are left with is a mound of meaningless possessions and a depleted bank account. What does this consumerism really mean?

During my twenties I was in credit debt to the tune of around £33k at its peak. Ms Romford, my partner at the time, and I, were in over our heads and when I finally understood the trap we had fallen into and began working hard to control and repay our debts, she would still spend. It was the most depressing experience I have ever had; declaring all of our income and expenditure to a debt recovery agency, bi-annually; writing to creditors asking for them to accept token payments; receiving threats of bailiff action, of bankruptcy, of eviction. I think I have blocked out most of it as it was all such a long time ago; but when I do tap into those bad memories and negative emotions, I realise how incredibly grateful I am to have had the vocational opportunities over the last eight years, that have seen me become debt free.

We were reliant on my family and some friends to help us out on a constant basis. It was truly soul destroying. However, as with all things, there are positives in the negatives. Once our relationship ended I worked hard over the following five years, I took risks. I have sacrificed a lot in life, but the relief I felt when I made that final repayment, nearly four years ago…..there was no greater weight lifted from my shoulders, and those risks and sacrifices, as tough as they were, became totally worth it. I savoured the moment. I had cancelled the standing order so that I would be able to manually send the money. When the time came I logged into my online banking, set up the transfer, and hovered over the ‘make payment’ button for what felt like an eternity. It was like a rebirth. All those years of struggle, borrowing/repaying, borrowing/not repaying, were over. I had reached the light at the end of a tunnel that I thought never existed. Taking it all in, I sent the money. It was done. I owed nothing to anyone.

To this day I have never needed to borrow or partake in credit of any description, not even so much as an overdraft; I am not interested. I work hard to support myself, I never wish to be kept by anyone. I earn enough to save, shop, travel around the U.K. visiting friends/family. I have no need to saddle myself with the burden of credit again and neither will I. But shopping I love, even food shopping. I remember my first experience, in my early thirties, of going to a supermarket and not having to use my mobile’s calculator to add up my purchases so that I didn’t exceed my meagre budget. It felt incredible.

Most likely, my spending over the last few years is a direct rebellion against a decade of debilitating, life controlling debt. (Though, I completely appreciate that I, stupidly and naively, put myself in that position in the first place.) I have been making up for lost time. I am far more reserved with spending and able to save these days, (I have Ms Manchester to thank for that. She really did teach me the fine art of saving.) Yet I have been on two, or three, shopping sprees lately that have bordered on obsessive. (Though you should see what I’ve got, it’s all lush!!!) The reasons are, I’m afraid, far less jovial and quite sad to be truthful.

I fervently rebuke the notion that I am materialistic, I certainly don’t feel like I am, yet to anyone else, the accusation of such would seem justifiable. I live for the hope of love, knowledge, wisdom, emotional and spiritual release, not mere possessions. In reality, I need nothing. I like nice things, I enjoy giving myself a good lifestyle, I have truly earned the right to it, but the shopping simply attempts to fill a deeper void. It’s a comfort. A safety net. A blankee for a frivolous adult’s inner child. It’s what I can rely on to cheer me up, even if just for a moment, when I need it.

When I began writing this, I was travelling home from my recent familial visit, laden with stuff I had bought over the weekend, aware that it’ll probably just end up in my hope chest (which was another impulse buy whilst in Bristol in August.). So what does this consumerism mean to me? Absolutely sod all, of course. I am like a cleptomaniac, seduced by the sparkling wonderments in shop windows and with enough disposable income to bring them home. For the girl who’s life is filled with people, but with no-one actually at arms length, I seem to be making good use of my blankee.

My temporary home is quite symbolically poignant of having a life overflowing with unimportance. As I look around me, my eyes are drawn to a million different things adorning shelves, bookcases, a desk, a bedside cabinet, the bed, the chair; if it has a surface (including the floor) it has something on it; things I have accumulated over the years. Yet, none of it is essential to my life. All of it could go and it wouldn’t make a difference. The things that are important; my friendships, relationships, socialising, interacting; these are not present during each working week. (Apart from with my fabulous colleagues, whom I love dearly.) Possessions have replaced love. I have attempted to use shopping to fill a void. Just as I believe not every person you meet is meant to be a part of your life, so not everything you want is meant to be owned.

Although my eyes brighten as I look at the things around me, there is little, or no, emotion attached. I see them now, for what they are, and actually, they’re beginning to look ugly. My eyes have cheated my heart into believing love resides in these character reflective items; these extensions of me. Now I just feel cluttered, invaded by the high street. It’s time to bootsale my indulgences and the proceeds can go to charity. A good de-cluttering is in order and then a search for something real to love can begin.