Walk a mile in my shoes

Sometimes I am confused by human nature, but unfortunately I am never surprised.

I think that everyone has a tendency to be selfish, to think only of their needs and wants, but there are people who take it to the extreme.  Then there are those who do something unexpectedly wonderful for you and restore your faith in mankind.

We used to run our own company and employed a lot of people.  Sadly, because we were company owners, people saw us as rich and lucky.  Some were wonderful, but many stole from us, lied, used company property  for personal use that wasn’t allowed or made decisions they weren’t qualified to make.  The company was a good one and the job we did was rewarding in itself, but employing the type of people we had to, made us very cynical.  We became embittered and always stressed.  We eventually lived, expecting trouble and tarred everyone with the same brush.  We had no faith in humanity because of our experiences.

On the day we flew out to our new life in Spain, My husband lost his wallet in the airport.  It fell out of an unsecured pocket.  In it was credit and debit cards, €1000 in cash, his driving licence and basically everything we needed for our new lives.  I remember the colour of his face draining from normal to green at the second he realised his wallet was missing.  He ran back to search everywhere he had been, but to no avail.  We had been chatting to an airport cleaner when he made his discovery and as soon as he came back to us, he said, “Well, I’m never going to see that again.  I don’t know what we are going to do.”  The cleaner immediately grabbed his hand and took him to lost property.

He reached the counter but was told nothing had been handed in, just as he expected.  They gave him a form to fill out and whilst doing it, he was thinking about how we could rent a car without his licence and that certain things had been booked using his cards and he would have to present them.  We could get money but we needed that cash for payment of bills.  He was really worried.  Just at that moment, another member of staff approached and asked him if he had lost a wallet.  He said that he had and described it.  The man said he had it, it had just been handed in.  Ian was amazed, happy to at least get his cards and licence back.  He utterly stunned when he found that all the money was there too.  Nothing had been taken at all.  We were so thankful and asked if we could give the wonderful honest person, who had handed it in, some money to say thank you, but we were told it was against policy and they hadn’t left a name.

It was a lesson in humility for us.  We were so down on human nature, so suspicious of people and their actions, ready to believe the worst in people, yet here we were, the recipients of a strangers selfless actions.  It continues much the same today.  We are not so embittered as we once were, maybe still a little suspicious, but we have found some wonderful people around us.  Help has often come from unexpected places, and people, who were just acquaintances, have proved to be wonderful friends.  Equally, there are people that thought close friends, who have shown themselves to be incapable of true friendship.

As a member of this species, I travel on, observing and learning.  We all judge each other according to our own standards and find each other lacking in many areas, but are we qualified to judge other people?  One of my favourite phrases is “Walk a mile in my shoes.”  We all live such vastly different lives, experienced pain and happiness in individual ways, how can we truly comment on someone else’s lives?

 

 

 

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Summer break

Two months have flown by without posting a blog.  Why? I hear you cry.  My crazy life, is the answer.

My summer was a chaotic one. My husband flew out to Germany and my daughter flew in to keep me company for most of the month.  In tow, were my granddaughter and grandson.  Oh my goodness,  I have definitely forgotten what it’s like to have children around.  I spent most of the time up to my ankles in the debris they dropped behind them wherever they went.  The TV was constantly on with mind bendingly worrying violent kids programs.  We lost wall lights, car keys, bowls and plates.  We found holes in walls, expensive digital cameras used as toys and leftover food everywhere as well as lovely pen drawings all over my cream leather sofas.  I also now have a challenging laptop which has developed Alzheimer’s after being dropped on the floor from the dining table, because it was in the way of the TV.

I still love them deeply, but I was very relieved when I deposited them through the departures gates at the airport.

The following day I flew out to Germany to join my husband for a few days.  I was genuinely exhausted before going and having spent 3 days sightseeing in the wonderful city of Dresden, came home needing a months sleep.

I discovered during this time that, not only do I need peace and quiet to write, I also need calm and to be in a happy place.   My brain needs space to think.  Ideas and words need to whirl around and assemble on a blank screen.  The needs of others dominate my thought patterns and the rule of once a mum, always a mum, resurfaces.  I cannot help but care for the people around me when they need it, and my creativity, thought processes and ideas are stifled until they are silent.   Sleep is also pretty essential.

Writing makes me incredibly happy, but instead of finishing my novel over the summer, as I had planned, I feel frustrated that it remains incomplete and that frustration has led me to delay getting back to it.  I now know there are going to be times when writing is impossible because life gets in the way.  Time does not allow me to do everything I want and quite often there is little enough of it, to do the things I need.

Nevertheless, here I am again.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I have sat down and written something.  It may be short, it may be waffle and written in a few minutes when I have a break, but it is here and just writing these few word is a cathartic exercise.  Onwards and upwards and watch this space.

 

Energy sapping heat.

The heat saps my energy and I feel the trickles of sweat down my back.  Wearing make up becomes impossible in the summer as moisture forms beads under my fringe and they merge into rivulets to drip from the end my nose.  My top lip glistens and I purse my lips to catch the salty taste on my tongue.

I have a constant need to replace the water my body is fixated on losing in it’s efforts to keep me cool.  My whole body is  sticky and feels unclean.  The dust that hung in the air is now attracted to the magnetic force of sweat and my hair, normally full of styling products hangs limply, unable to withstand the onslaught of  humidity.

With a rise in temperature comes a rise in temper.  Hauling bottles of water upstairs to the kitchen leaves me breathless and irritated.  Why don’t they bundle them into four’s instead of sixes.  I struggle to heave the weight of water in each hand, but I also need the balance.  It’s a difficult choice between two trips or too heavy.  My hands are so slippy that it’s difficult to keep hold of the thin cardboard strip that supports the weight of  24 litres.

My brain feels as though it has swelled beyond the capacity of my skull under the oven temperature of the sun and the pressure is making my eyes want to pop out of their sockets.  Each beat of my heart sends a throb of blood filled pain to my brow causing me to frown.  My breathing becomes shallow as I tense against the agony of a heat induced headache.

I drop one lot of bottles as I fumble for my keys, but they are in the pocket on the other side so I drop the other hands burden.  I try and spear the lock but the bunch slips from my greasy fingers and hits the floor.  The sun belts it’s unrelenting force against my back as I bend to retrieve them.  Come on, come on, I urge them, just work.  I need cool now.

This time I manage to open the door but heat hits me from the inside of the house as well.  I grab the bottles of water and deposit them somewhere on the floor between the living room and kitchen, and stride straight to the bedroom shedding clothes as I go.  It’s little cooler without my thin layer but my anticipation of what’s to come spurs me on.  I grab and don my bikini, pick up my towel, slip my feet into my flip flops and head back out into the belting heat.

Cool blue water beckons me like a smooth talking lover and I kick off my footwear, drop the towel and lower myself down into the refreshing blue depths of the pool.  As the water washes over my body and my blood temperature descends to normal, the little elephants that were stampeding through my head begin to slow under its caress.

I tip my head back into cool peaceful tranquility and float with closed eyes.  I feel the corners of my mouth turn upwards as my smile returns and just in that moment reflect on the pleasure of living in a hot country.

Trials of separation.

Today is the last day before my husband disappears off to Germany for a month.  We have always been pretty insular in our relationship.  We have fantastic friends but we love to be in each other’s company the most.  I know of many marriages where people make excuses to spend time away from each other and if that works for them, then fine.  It doesn’t work for us.

During our 16 years, we have always worked together and so can often be in each other’s company for 24 hours a day, but apart from the odd bicker; because we don’t row; we are happy with that scenario.  A month apart therefore, is very difficult to cope with.

The last time he went, I must confess, I had a great time.  I was busy with work so I couldn’t mope around and I had lots in invitations from friends to join them for dinner.  I arranged a girly night and had some girlfriends round for a Big Girls Pyjama Party.  It was brilliant, just like being a kid again but with alcohol.  We had facials, manicures, pedicures, music, and giggles.  In fact, when my hubby cane home, I was quite put out at having to stop the constant socialising.  I had fun.

This time, my daughter has decided to spend most of the month with me.  She is bringing my granddaughter and grandson and has informed me that I am going to teach them to swim while they are here.  Apparently I taught her and her sister but Wierdly, I have no recollection of that, but, if being Nana is teaching them to swim, that’s a good job done.  We will have fun and it will be great to spend more time together than we have been able to in years.  We are still going to have a girly afternoon or two though, where the girls of the pyjama party persuasion will be invited.  I think maybe the Big Girls BBQ.

I will fill my time with fun stuff and enjoy my grandchildren, but I hate this last day.  Tomorrow’s trip to the airport and the goodbye for a month is looming at me.  The thought of coming home to an empty house is horrible and so are all the extra jobs I have to take on because they are usually his.

I know the dogs will be unsettled because a pack member has gone and I will have to change their routine so that they sleep in my room.  That’s not because they won’t stay in their own bed, but because I keep hearing odd noises when I am on my own.  If the dogs bark, I have something to worry about.  If they don’t, I know all is well.  Unless I have deaf dogs.   Since we met, my husband and I have had a phrase.  “I know I can live without you, but I don’t want to.” and after all our years together, that is still the case. Mushy? Maybe, but true.

The time nears and the packing starts.  Maybe one day when I am making money through writing, either he won’t have to go or I can go with him.  Who knows, but for now, we have to go through this ritual and I live in awe of the people who do this on a regular basis.  We are pack and separation is unnatural.

Relaxing holidays

It seems ages since I last wrote my blog, but I don’t suppose it has been.  It’s been a very busy few days and finally today, Sunday, is quiet and tranquil.  I have spent all day sitting around the pool, writing my book. I know it’s work but the story is in full flow and I want to get in down in black and white while I can.  It has become more of a passion than a chore of late, and when I look back on previous chapters, I know I am going to do lots of  editing to get it to the standard of the writing I am producing now.

I have joined a couple of writers sites and finding  truth in the words, the more you write, the faster you become and the easier it flows.  It’s true.

This evening we have decided to look at our holiday.  Originally, we were going to go to Venice.  My husband likes to look at all the options, so a short holiday there became a cruise from Venice, going to Greece and surrounding islands, Dubrovnik and many more destinations.  Growing tired of waiting for replies from companies that don’t seem to want the business, we decided to stay in mainland Spain and visit Cordoba, Seville, Granada and then onto Portugal.  Having looked at those options, my husband has decided that 3 cities and sightseeing is a bit too much as he wants to spend some time relaxing, but doesn’t feel cities are conducive to that state.  I agree with him so now we have reverted to the cruise.

Maybe that is the best option for us because then we won’t have to spend hours and heated discussions about which hotels to stay in.  We will have a hotel on the sea, daytime trips as we want them but we can’t relax around the pool because it will be November.  No, scratch that, I want warmth. I want to go in September but there’s nothing available in September.  Ok back to the drawing board.

How difficult can this really be.  What happened to walking into a travel agent, flicking through some magazines and saying, “we want to stay there.”  The internet has made choosing you holiday so much more interactive and, dare I say, difficult.  The choices are vast and more varied and you can’t possibly stay in any resort until you have checked out the reviews on Trip Advisor.  Whereas we used to rely on the recommendations of a travel company, now we read with interest the opinions of the people who can be bothered to report their findings.

I can’t help but feel a little distrustful of those.  The people who complain bitterly seem to do so for insignificant reasons.  Obviously, there things that go wrong, but the main problems seem small in the great scheme of things.  Then there are the amazing reviews, which I find equally worrying.  I have stayed at some amazing places in my time, but never yet found one that is perfect.  Perhaps we just have people who are on the opposite ends of the optimist/pessimist scale.

Whichever it it is, our holidays remain stressful to book, always more expensive than we plan for, but once we get there, it is our attitude that makes it.  I ignore the niggles,  chose to have a great time, become culturally more educated and return home enriched.

Oh yes, where did we choose?  We’re touring.  Cordoba, Portugal and Granada.   Happy vacation everyone.

A stressy day.

Ok, so it hasn’t been a particularly stressful day but irksome would probably be more accurate.  I had many plans, but for some reason I don’t feel like I have achieved much.  I have started making a check list every day.  It’s mainly for one reason and that is to make sure jobs get done, so that I have enough time to write.

I read a blog this morning which issued a challenge and I decided to take it up.  For the next 30 days, I am going to make sure I swim for 30 minutes.  I do have this procrastinating attitude to exercise and although I promise myself faithfully that I will stick to my regime, I can be found convincing myself that 3 times a week is enough and I’ve done them already.  By swimming first thing when I get up, it gets it out of the way and I can concentrate on other things.  In theory anyway.

That done, I then turn to phone calls and annoyingly having to sort out something that I thought had been organised yesterday, but no, apparently it’s too difficult to give me the correct number when I first ring in.  I have to waste time, my frustration and phone calls to get someone to answer the question.  Nothing too bad, just a little irritating.

Then shopping.  Food shopping is one of my least favourite things to do without my hubby on hand.  It’s always way too heavy for me to lift inside in one go and invariably one of the bags breaks.  Then there’s finding a home for it all.  Boring!  Never mind though, it has to be done, so off I go.  I notice that the door lock spins a couple of times before locking, but it’s done it before, so I wasn’t too bothered.

I bought a box.  It’s a collapsible plastic thing.  Perfect, I think.  I can get quite a lot of shopping in there.  It will fit in the boot of the car and stuff won’t roll around.  Pleased with myself for my organising head, I pack all the fruit, veggies and bottles in it, wheel the trolley to the car and… Find the boot of the car full of equipment. Husbands car! No other box is going to fit in there.

There is is a law here in Spain, that prohibits “stuff” being put on the seats and it’s a hefty fine if you are caught.  Ok, I can’t put it there then. I know, I’ll put it in the front footwell.  So I pick it up and realise it’s really heavy.  In fact, it’s so heavy that the box suddenly seems a bit flimsy.  Add to the fact that the temperature has soared into  the 30’s and I am struggling in full sunshine to manoeuvre this box that weighs a ton, between 2 parked cars to open the passenger door and deposit said box.  I wheeze and sweat and manage to get it in, only to find it’s about 2 cm too big and the door won’t close.  Oh joy.

The box ends up, with some not too gentle persuasion, balanced precariously on top of the stuff in the boot.  I drive home, praying that it won’t fall and break the eggs.  Luckily the eggs did survive, but yes, it fell.

I had to make a couple of trips to get things upstairs to my front door and the sun was not letting up.  I arrived there, overheated and in need of a drink, with my hands full and a bag of rapidly melting ice cream that I had, kindly,  bought for my husband, only to find that I couldn’t get in.  The front door key was just spinning and spinning I the lock.  Wonderful, thinks me and I ring my husband.

Suffice it to say that I eventually got in.  My head was pounding with the sun, my shoulders feel like I’ve just done 10 rounds with Lennox Lewis and it’s now much later than I expected.  Lunch, that’s what I need. So I start to prepare something and plan what I need to do next.  I have an hour of ironing, then cleaning for guests that are arriving on Thursday, I want to do some writing and I also need an hour practicing the piano.  I also have a gig tonight and looking at how many hours I don’t have left, I realise something is not going to get done.  Then the phone rings.

Its the owner of the bar that I am working at on Saturday.  Cancelling!  Great!!  No work, no money and little chance now of getting another gig at such short notice.  So my day has been irksome.  It is a day designed to take away pleasure.

This is now a decision for me to make.  Do I remain irked or shall I change it.  Well, first thing now is to take some pain killers to get rid of the tension headache, to have a quick jacuzzi to wind down and then enjoy my night.  I chose, you see, to change it.  Tonight I get to sing to some fabulous people in a fabulous place that has a view to die for.  The breeze will be in my hair and the music will flow.  Life doesn’t get much better than that!!

 

Tiredness versus Blogging

The idea of my blog is for me to write everyday but, yesterday was impossible.  So I ask myself, is it really possible to commit to this everyday?  Even today I have the perfect excuse not to bother and that excuse is exhaustion.    It is a very content exhaustion that stems from work well done but nevertheless it’s hard to write when all I want to do is switch off my brain and sleep.  It is however, only 6.30 and I am sure, most will agree, that’s it’s too early.

As someone that has hereditary high cholesterol, despite being a vegan and not eating much fat at all, I have decided to up my exercise level in order to try and reduce this potentially dangerous substance in my body.  Reassured by my instructor that Zumba would be beneficial to my weak, held together with titanium rods back, I enrolled in her class.  The first week was great.  I kept the intensity low as I was a little worried and was pleasantly surprised that I was not at all stiff or aching the next morning.

Feeling that I was onto a winner, I boldly attended another class on Thursday night and, having been lulled into a false sense of security by my previous success, entered into it with more verve.  Mistake!! Two thirds of the class later and I was in pain.  My back hurt and the pain shot down my leg and into my foot.  Perfect indicators that a I am not as strong as I would like to be and time to tone it down a bit.  Lesson learnt.  Zumba needs to remain low impact.

Once home the pain travelled upwards and I went to bed wincing with a migraine.  I awoke on Friday to find my shoulders had elevated to my ears with tension and my brain was groggy.  My eyes felt cloudy and I struggled to get out of bed.  After a tedious lunchtime meeting that went on far too long and then teaching a vocal session, I tried to prepare for my evening gig.  On taking my brand new dress out of the washing machine, I found splashes of blue dye all over the light pink material.  The conclusion is that dyeing other clothes in the machine to give them extra life, has in fact cost me more.  So gutted about my dress,  I hurriedly hunted for something else to wear.

Time was of the essence, as I had a long drive ahead, so I threw things into bags, chose clothes that would do, although not perfect, and shoved my gear into the car.  Feeling that the day had gone from bad to worse and dreading the drive ahead, I called my husband on my hands free.  Even that wasn’t working properly and I hung up, unable to have my little moan and feeling very frustrated.

Working day and night is difficult for anyone and it often seems to be a case of feast or famine. It’s either sit around all day and earn nothing or run around like crazy and earn well.  If only there was something in the middle.

It was at this point that I decided I needed to calm down and be grateful instead of harassed and stressed.  So I sang and warmed up my voice, gave thanks for the beautiful countryside and the fantastic gig I was going to and guess what?  It worked.

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i arrived at my destination easily, met some fantastic people, giggled with friends and enjoyed the fabulous singers that were also on the show.   My first set was a little gentle, starting with Dock of a bay and ending with the classical Nella Fantasia, but the final set was a blast.  There was no way I was letting those people sit down.  I played and sang one dance tune after another until, not only they were breathless, but so was I.  They called for more as I tried to leave and I gave them a rendition of All that Jazz from Chicago.  They even danced to that.

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There are times in a performers life when you wish you had stayed at home.  The audience is surly and doesn’t  want to know you, and nothing you do is right. These are the worst times because an act is only as good as their audience.  It can be demoralising, frustrating and kick your self esteem from under you.  Many people think we do the job because we are confident and want the acclaim. Some of us do, I suppose, but I do it because music is my passion, my voice is my gift and I am lucky enough to be able to earn a living from it.  It has kept my family fed and clothed and taken me to some wonderful places.

In truth, performers put themselves up for more ridicule and criticism than any other career.  Our spirits can take a nose dive with every negative comment because our talent is so personal to us.  However, even if no one makes a comment, you always know when it’s a good gig and the feeling of warmth that emanates from a crowd that is enjoying your show, is second to none.  Last night was one of those.

I drove the long journey home on a high, knowing I had done my job.  The adrenalin gave me enough energy to make it and even though it was really late, it still took me a long time to wind down enough to sleep.

Today, I hosted my radio show and had a great time, but now, there is no adrenalin.  Tomorrow is a day off,  my body is going into relax or relapse mode and my brain is shutting down all functions apart from the necessary.

Is is it possible to blog when exhausted?  Yes.  My feelings of gratefulness abound and I am so happy that being grateful turned a disaster of a day into a night that I will remember for a long time.