A no spend/make do and mend year

I’ve been keeping this quiet for the last six weeks but i have decided to go public and use my blog as my motivation to stick to my goals. There is so much waste in the world and i am just as guilty as most people of adding to it. I’m not doing it just for altruistic reasons though, i’m doing it for my own peace of mind, my own benefit and to improve my own bank balance. See, not altruistic, totally selfish.

betty its all aboout me  Anyway, here is where the story began back at the end of December. I’ve been keeping the diary ever since but it would be too much to put into one blog post, crikey, even i would get bored of my writing if i had to wade through all of that in one go! So, to catch up, it will be a few days at a time and then as and when i make an entry.

I’m hoping to succeed. I hope that you will join me on my journey.

Have a happy day.

Anita.x

29th December 2017

Today I had an epiphany. I was standing in Next, surveying the sheer weight of the sales rails and I pulled out a rather nice grey checked shirt in brushed cotton. It was just my style. Long sleeved and long bodied, perfect for wearing to work and enabling me to bend over a wheelchair without revealing the dreaded builder’s backside. It’s not a look that I particularly relish others getting a peek of. And, now this is the best bit…the shirt was half price! Absolute bargain, total steal, that really should have been the clincher. I should have grabbed that sucker, elbowed my way past the elderly lady trying to decide between a peephole bra (don’t go there, it’s not a pretty vision) and a more conservative version and gone straight to the till, no, I don’t need a bag thankyou, my car’s outside…

But instead, something rather strange happened instead. As I stood my ground against the rather pushy, blonde haired, stiletto heeled buxom wench that was trying to get in front of MY RAIL, I had a vision of my bedroom. More specifically, the four door wardrobe already groaning with so many clothes that I have to open the door very gingerly to ensure nothing falls out. If it does, I may not be seen again for weeks. I am ashamed to say that there are some impulse buys in there that are still adorned with their price labels and have therefore never yet been worn. There are others that are a size 10 and no longer fit but I’m sure I’ll lose that stone and a half one day and then I will get into them. It’s not totally inconceivable is it? Who am I kidding? I’’d have to starve for at least six months to lose that and I happen to think that life is far too short to deny myself cake.

It’s still a waste though. I have so many clothes that I never wear, and it’s not all because they are too small and I can’t bear to part with them, just in case. I am one of those people who saves things for best. The problem is, I don’t actually know when best is? I rarely go out anywhere special to warrant having any best clothes and I wear jeans for work.

My epiphany? I put that shirt back on the rail, turned and walked out of the shop empty handed.

My buy nothing new, make do and mend year had begun.

 

30th December 2017

Well, that challenge didn’t last long. I went into The Edinburgh Woollen Mill today and they had reduced the price of a Country Rose tunic top that I have had my eye on for a few weeks. Well, I just couldn’t resist it. And, technically, as I was paying for it with my left over Love To Shop vouchers that I didn’t spend in the lead up to Christmas, does it count as spending at all? It probably does, I could have used them in Iceland and restocked the freezer with Slimming World meals for one (with an eye to actually losing that extra one and a half stone and fitting into those size tens again) but it wouldn’t have been half so much fun.

Anyway, as it’s my 50th birthday on the second of January and the boys have collected together to send me to London for I know not what reason yet – I sort of love surprises, but the control freak in me is really going ballistic right now – then to start the challenge now would be just a tad foolhardy. So, I have decided on a period of reflection. I need to work out some groundrules of what I can and cannot buy during this period of deprivation, sorry, read that as restructuralisation of my lifestyle, and the challenge proper will begin on January the fourth 2018 when I return home.

 

Have a happy day.

Anita. x

Musing on getting older

It’s another new year and the beginning of my 50th one on this planet. I don’t feel like 50. Some would say that i don’t look like 50 either, sometimes i think they are just being nice, other times i take their compliments, run with them like the wind and scream ‘Wahey!!’….Well, in my mind i do. I’m far too introverted to actually run and scream out loud…more’s the pity.

Me in London

I’d be lying if i said that hitting this milestone is a breeze, but it’s certainly not as bad as i thought it would be 30 years ago when i hit my 20’s and just couldn’t imagine ever being as old as 50. But i do believe that i am so lucky to be able to stand up and say, ‘Hey, i’m 50. And i don’t actually care who knows it.’

So many of my old school comrades either haven’t made it this far or are in poor health and therefore struggling to make it through every day in this disablist world we now live in. I can call it that. Although i am fit and healthy, i work in the care sector and see every day how people with disabilities are discriminated against behind the guise of political correctness. Just don’t get me started on the idiots who think it is ok to park in front of a dropped kerb…i guess they have never tried getting a wheelchair onto a pavement without one, but ignorance is never a reason, it is just an excuse for bad behaviour.

But i digress. What have i achieved in the last 50 years?

  1. I have survived (yes, that is the correct word, it has been touch and go at times).
  2. I have brought up my three sons just about single handed and i am as proud of the men they have become as any Mother could be – let’s just gloss over the fact that my coping mechanism when they were all tired and teasy and bickering at each other was to just tune out and let them get on with it…
  3. I have educated myself through two undergraduate degrees whilst working and bringing up my boys on my own.
  4. I am currently half way through a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing whilst working full time …can no longer lay claim to the bringing up the boys though, the little blighters are just about self sufficient now.
  5. I work in the care sector, and have done for 18 years. It’s a hard job at times, but, for me, the pros far outweigh the cons.
  6. I have been published as both a poet and a theatre reviewer. I’m still working on the fiction thing. See point number 4.
  7. In the last year i have finally been brave enough to go on holiday on my own. It was a frightening and enlightening experience for someone as initially timid as me.
  8. I have loved and lost. Far too many people.
  9. But ultimately, i have survived, for that i am grateful.

 

So what about the next 50 years? Would be handy if i could have a peek inside a crystal ball, but on the other hand, where would be the fun in that?

Image result for crystal ball

I have no idea what the future holds but i do know that i am not intending to let ‘old age’ and ‘diminishing years’ hold me back from my plans for the future. I intend to write more, make my voice heard. I may be quiet in person but my mind and my fingers are itching to tell you so many stories…once i get the words in the right order that is…

I intend to live more and not rely on just surviving as i have in the past. I am bored with letting the fact that i am single dictate my social life and stop me from doing the things i want to do.

Finally, i intend to be happy. For all those who haven’t made it this far. For all those who have and are struggling to get out of bed unassisted or just make it through until bedtime.

We all deserve to be happy.

Take care,

Anita x

Make today a happy day too!

 

 

The Importance of ‘Stuff’

We are all surrounded by ‘Stuff.’ Stuff we think is important and that we cannot possibly live without. We spend our lives pushing ourselves forward in our acquisition of stuff. Stuff that we discard shortly after as we lust after bigger and better stuff. A bigger house in a better area, a posher car…or two, expensive holidays in the sun.

What do we do to get our stuff? We work…around the clock. We go to our offices/shops/factories. Make polite conversation with people whom, sometimes, we would rather not and stress over issues that are quite often taking far more brain power than they deserve.

With the recent London, Sweden and Syria atrocities I feel this has been brought even more to the fore. In London, a dedicated policeman was doing his job, laughing with tourists and having a selfie taken with them. Minutes later, in the call of duty and astonishing bravery, he was callously stabbed to death. A woman on her way to collect her children was mown down by a speeding car while another was thrown over the side of the bridge into the cold, unforgiving water below. I think that in their last moments, their possessions were the last things on their mind.

I have worked in the care sector for the last seventeen years and within that time I have been tasked with clearing out the rooms of those that have departed. There is little to compare with the sadness of that clearing process. The throwing away of a person’s treasured possessions because they mean nothing to those who are left behind. Clearing out my parents house was even harder. In the top drawer of my mother’s dressing table I found a cross stitched card that I had made her for Mother’s Day many years before. Inside i had written ‘Cheer’s Ma, I don’t know what I would do without you.’ If that didn’t hit me hard enough there was then one solitary, unlit cigarette. Her emergency stash that she kept just incase she needed to have a fag one day. It is testament to her strength that in five years of cancer treatment, she never smoked that cigarette. Finding it broke me.

So what have I taken from all of this? That the acquisition of stuff shouldn’t be the driving force of our life. It is the memories that matter most, the people that we choose to share our lives with and the little things they do that make us feel secure, loved and wanted. The random hug, the handmade gift, the memories they leave that last long after they have gone.

Carlyon Bay-29

I know it is a cliche, but hold onto those people and tell them you love them because, like those brave people on Westminster Bridge, you don’t know when you get up if you are going to get back into your own bed again tonight.

Most of all, make today a Happy Day.

Love, Anita. x

Facing our own mortality

prince-purple-rain

 

Today has seen the death of yet another Superstar music Icon. Prince was only 57 and as the news broke this afternoon I felt myself transported back to my teenage years of the 80’s, dancing to When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret and, of course, Purple Rain in our own iconic beachside Discotheque ‘Gossips.’ However, he is not the only one to have passed away recently, yesterday we also lost Victoria Wood, a comedienne in an absolute league of her own and one who never failed to have you rolling in the aisles with her quirky music and unique, comedic take on the average human with their own quirks and foibles. More icons from my 80’s life that have also passed are Glenn Frey, Natalie Cole, Paul Daniels, Percy Sledge, Maurice White, Sir Terry Wogan and of course, David Bowie. In fact, I have just read a list of 35 celebrities of the stage and screen who have lost their lives in the first few months of this year.

I am struck with wondering just why does the news of their passing hit us so hard? After all, it is not as if we ever met them. It is not as if we ever will. They are never likely to sit at our dining tables, regaling us all with their tales of life on the road. They are never going to relieve you of your parental taxi duties so that you can relax in a nice warm bath with a chilled glass of Prosecco – yeah, i’ve no idea what that is like either – and they are never going to be there when you are down and need a hug. Or are they?

Don’t we always revert to somewhere we find comfort when we are feeling sad? When we need a hug and need to feel safe and secure? Don’t we look for the music of our youth, when life wasn’t complicated and when we were happy and free to do what we pleased? Isn’t it just those unreachable icons who sustained our youthful dreams and were always there for us when we needed them? They never told us off, they never screamed or shouted, slammed doors as they walked away. They were our saviours. And they were immortal. They didn’t die.

Also, they didn’t grow old. When did David Bowie get to be 69? There’s no way he’s 69 we all cried as his news broke. In our minds, he is still Ziggy Stardust, singing about floating around the sky in a tin can. And Paul Daniels? He was 77! We are all still angry at him shacking up with that starlet, hussy assistant of his, despite them being together with her never leaving his side and defying all of us doubters for the last 28 years. 28 years? No way! The thing we all find when we hear of any of our favourite, or not so favourite but equally as known, celebrities passing over is that it brings us up sharp to the realisation that if they can suddenly grow old and die, then so can we. Suddenly, we think back to those happy, carefree nights dancing to our heroes at the disco on the beach, the cold, rainy evenings watching sketch shows on tv and we realise that they were quite a long time ago. Our stars have moved on and if it can happen to them, it will also happen to us.

With that in mind we need to learn to let go more and enjoy the hand we are dealt. Nothing is given to us, all of it is worked for. Those celebrities didn’t just wake up one morning and miraculously find themselves as front page news with salaries to match. They saw an opportunity, worked to perfect their skills and fought their way to the top of their chosen profession. Ok, so Prince and David Bowie were born with those phenomenal voices, but they still had to work to get themselves into the position that the public could hear them. They still had to work to control those voices, learn how to pitch them so that they could alternately make us either soar to the highest plane or crash into floods of tears. We need to use our own gifts, hone and perfect them, take the criticism and shape our talents into a form that gives us pleasure. We need to stop living on planet dreamland and realise that we are only here for a finite amount of time and in that time we should be happy, with whatever it throws at us.

As Prince has told us:

I never meant to cause you any sorrow

I never meant to cause you any pain

I only wanted one time to see you laughing

I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain.

 

Today I am alive. Today I am grabbing my bucket list and delving inside to see what I can tick off.

Despite the sadness pouring from my Facebook page, that makes today an awesome day.

Make sure yours is too.

Anita.x