Women of Contribution

I am so excited to share with you that I am a co-author in the upcoming, “The Pay it Forward Series: Notes to My Younger Self Vol 2” book which will be launched on International Women’s Day, March 8th 2019, in Windsor, UK.

To celebrate the official launch we are having a VIP evening of glamour, elegance and Prosecco at the beautiful chapel in the Beaumont Estate, Windsor and I would love you to join me and my 17 co-authors as we celebrate our phenomenal achievement of sharing our stories of hope, wisdom and inspiration and signing the first copies of our transformational book.

During the day we will be joining the first 18 authors of Vol 1 of the book at the first ever Women of Contribution “Destined for Bigger Things” conference so I would love you to join me for both.

Click on the link below:-
https://womenofcontribution.lpages.co/destined-for-bigger-things

Cigarette Papers

As soon as I saw it, I instinctively knew it had once been yours.  That small, green box: its once crisp, white papers, soiled now by the falling Autumn rain.
I wondered for how long it had lain there; how many other dog walkers had taken the path beside it, and of those, how many had seen it and had still passed it by. And then I pondered the manner in which it had been discarded. Had it accidently been left behind, or had it been deliberately abandoned? A new start, perhaps? Or another loss; another victim of distraction?
In my heart’s eye I saw you, slumped upon the bench above the box’s muddy resting place; watery eyes fixed on the fading future once so clearly before you. And then my vision changed, and instead I saw your heavy eyes lowered to the grass at your feet – the grass you’d once trodden together – and onto the wild flowers you’d once gifted, and to the glossy beds of clover you’d once shared.
How long had you sat upon that bench? How long…
I finally turned reluctantly away, leaving the box where it had fallen, all the while wondering if instead I should pick it up and take it home.
And as I left, it struck me that you and that inanimate object sadly seemed to have so much in common.

All Of Me (from The Huntsmen of Nethermoor)

This was not meant to be.
I had resigned myself to my fate and grown happy in its empty company, secure that its cruel hand would never break the ice of my heart.
Empty promises and ill-chosen words that rambled with such bad intention, had long since fallen on deaf ears – too punctured to listen – too bruised to care.
Kisses and caresses were as easily acted as hollow smiles, that protected insecurity, and feigned arrogance in fear.

My life became a journey of solitude down an unlit pathway with no horizon.
Never needed to look beside me for companionship.
Never wanted to look back.
And doors remained safely locked.
Nothing asked to come in,
Nothing left to come out.
An empty room suffocating on the stale air of abandoned dreams.

How was it, then, that springtime filtered into my heart and chased away the shadows of my haunted past?
When did light pour through the broken windows of my soul and find me cowering under its gentle gaze?
Who gave you permission, key holder, to stand before me demanding nothing, but promising everything in return?
What sent you to fill my mind with hopeful possibilities, when I have fought and defeated them for so long…

Do I dare to love again?
Will your light take the very all of me and lead me from these troubled seas to calm waters,
Or will you abandon me on the rocks of repeating history, and leave as I am ruined once more?

Want to run from you,
hide my eyes from your beauty,
Lock my heart away where you can’t touch it –

– But it is too late.

 

I cannot sleep for dreaming of you.”

Dressing Gown

Close the door against the fading distant engine
Glance around the empty space where you just stood
Your aftershave still lingers on the edges of my lips
Try to fight against my tears, but it’s no good.
I’d never ask you to re-think what makes you happy
I’d never beg you live your life another way
But the happiness I feel with you, depends on you and me
And it fades to black each time you go away.

Look at me, sitting here on the floor
Eyes fixed on nothing, like they have been before
Twist the ring you gave me,
Recall last night
Hope you’re safe, you’re OK
Hope when you return, we’ll be alright.

And I’ll wrap my body up inside your dressing gown.
Your initials resting somewhere near my heart
Pull your belt as tightly as I can, around my failing strength
Tie it in a knot, so I can’t fall part

Watch the clock hand as it slows and then reverses
Existing day to day with spare time on my side
When you ask me if I’m OK, I just laugh and say I’m fine
Then you’re quiet, and we both know that I lied.
Carry on with all the things we do together
Work life balance an equation always wrong
Wander room to room, still looking, hoping you just might be there
Full of memory, full of us, yet it feels wrong.

Look at me, sitting here on our bed
Ears fixed on nothing, but the voice in my head
Twist the ring you gave me,
Regret that fight.
Hope you’re safe, you’re OK
Hope when you return, we’ll be alright.

And I’ll wrap my body up inside your dressing gown.
Your initials resting somewhere near my heart
Pull your belt as tightly as I can, around my failing strength
Tie it in a knot, so I can’t fall part.

Hear you laughing at the things you did with others.
Hear you whisper that you’re finding it quite tough
Hope you know how I hard it is for me to hear you carry on
Hope you’ll always think that I will be enough.
Paint my face, dress up well, keep my nails long
Live each day as if I lived all on my own
Feigning strength just a diversion from the gaping hole inside
Counting down the days until you’re coming home.

Look at me sitting here at your desk
Heart fixed on nothing, but the void that you’ve left
Twist the ring you gave me
Fight or Flight.
Hope you’re safe, you’re OK
Hope when you return, we’ll be alright.

And I’ll wrap my body up inside your dressing gown.
Your initials resting somewhere near my heart
Pull your belt as tightly as I can, around my failing strength
Tie it in a knot, so I can’t fall part.

Stand and watch you as you make your way towards me
Teenage butterflies still prove that you’re the one
See you smile that smile, and crumble as your eyes begin to shine
Seems you missed me just as much when you were gone
Touch my cheek with gentle fingers, eyes are brimming
Shake your head, drop your bag upon the floor
Wrap your arms around the body that’s been lonely for so long
Tell me there’s no need for sadness any more.

Look at us, sitting here, side by side
Hands locked together, with nothing to hide.
You twist the ring you gave me
Recall that day
Glad you’re back, you’re unchanged.
Glad you’re saying we’ll always be OK.

And I’ll wrap my body up inside your waiting arms
Place my grateful face somewhere beside your heart
And your dressing gown will hang back on the peg that you put up
And gather hints of you ’till next we’re pulled apart.

Love, By Any Other Name

Five years.

Five years have passed since that morning; the morning the phone rang too early; the morning we raced in convoy across the South Downs praying we weren’t too late; the morning the rising sun was too beautiful – too gentle. The morning everything changed…

It still hurts like it did that morning, yet I’m able to cry more freely now than ever I was then. Whosoever said it gets better chose their words badly. There’s nothing better about it – just different.

I remember that you used to talk about your parents – my grandparents – for years after they’d died; those special moments; those wonderful family times. Their names prompted a toast nearly as often as the ones of those celebrating. And I loved you for it; for your undying love for them. But I never quite understood.

Yet now I do.

And now I do the same.

And not out of respect for you. But out of an undying love that places you still at the heart of things, where you and mum always were.

I miss you, dad.

I miss you every day.

Sometimes I miss you so much that my heart breaks all over again.

But that’s love for you.

And someone once said that grief is just love with nowhere to go. And in a funny kind of way, that sentiment makes the pain a little easier.

For perhaps if I’m still grieving, I’m also still loving.

And love was never anything to be sad about.

The Wispy-white Throng

They came on the breath of a warm summer breeze
In the silvery light of a vast setting sun.
Below them, white horses skipped over the seas;
Those white-feathered wisps, that travelled as one.

At the edge of the cliff, in the whispering grass
A circle, where footsteps had gathered before,
And spider web crystals, that sparkled like glass
Lit a fairy-light pathway back down to the shore.

All at once, in the blue, the feathers were gone
As ethereal light fell the air seemed to shimmer.
One by one, they descended, the wispy-white throng
Took their place, side by side, in the soft evening glimmer.

Silky white garments, satin white skin,
Vapoury skirts below corsets of lace.
Pearl-buttoned jackets; blouson to the shin;
Serenity shone from each beautiful face.

Their melody came like the call of the wind
From nowhere, it gathered, and pressed them to sway.
And there, in the orchids, their waltz did begin
To a song, from a dream, and a land far away.

They twirled and they whirled through the grass, hand in hand
Eyes locked in rapture, united as one.
And they danced till the dusk-light darkened the land,
And the sea shone like gold as it swallowed the sun.

On the breath of the breeze, away they were bourn
Above, in the black, the moon shone alone.
And all that remained, in the chill of the dawn,
Was the glitter of dew drops, from where they had flown.

Look to the sky, see more than the clouds,
Don’t let your dreaming by silenced by fear.
Open your heart to the life love allows
And know that the throng will always be near.

Xxx

Loosing control?

Forgive me for sounding biased, but I firmly believe that women are indeed extraordinary. Many of us represent the sun around which the remainder of our families orbit. Whether it be lost PE kit, a last minute birthday card, or that elusive shirt (which was exactly where it should be), whilst striving to maintain our professional/home life balance, we also have in our arsenal the remedy to most of our family’s daily dilemmas. We assume responsibility. And though we may be tired or stretched, something within a great many of us feels that the day has only been a true success if we have we have found obvious solutions in places our relatives never thought to look. But herein lays a great problem. And though it may go against many of our nurturing natures, what we really should be doing, is standing back.

My lesson in being a ‘fixer’ was a toughie. I am glad to report that I have now emerged; perhaps a little straggled, but a whole deal wiser, from the other side of the obstacle course. Had I known now what I know then, I would have faced the climbing net, hand on hips, and firmly declared, ‘no!’ I would then have removed my trainers, and with a polite smile, handed them over. “Forgive me,” I would have said, “but this of your making and is yours to climb. I’m off to take my own, rather easier path. I’ll be cheering for you once you reach the other side…”

High insight; the worst and most unbearable of all life’s “told-you-so’s!”

Trying to find a balance between compassion and control is nigh on impossible when you’re in the thick of it. I thought that my actions, as daft as they appear to me now, would really make a difference. Looking back, my behaviour was so alien to my usual self, that I struggle to recognise the person I had then become. I strayed so far from my own path in trying to help another, that in the process and desperate not to lose them, I almost lost myself. At the time, I congratulated myself on what I perceived to be my unconditional love. Now, however, I accept that there was in fact only desperation. Love in its truest form, accepts another as they are, and respects that, as difficult as it often is to witness, they must be allowed to follow their own path.

We are all on this beautiful, challenging, storm-cloud and rainbow earth to learn. The school of hard knocks often places us in classrooms with others. What we learn by the end of our joint lesson either propels us onto the next wonderful, enlightened stages of our lives, or demands a resit. I had to endure several resits before I finally took on board what my life coach was trying to tell me. Wasted time, though? Not at all.
I woke this morning with urgency about writing this piece. Perhaps I needed to reaffirm it for myself, or perhaps I needed to do it for someone else. Whatever the case, I no longer try to ‘fix’ others. If my opinion is sought, I try to answer in a level, unambiguous way. But I always try to end a reply with, ‘but the decision must always be yours.’

And not because I’m copping out.

But because, their final decision will have either have positive or negative repercussions and these repercussions will mark the start of another lesson in their lives. If they are unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions, and I instead do it for them, they will forever seek answers from another, rather than from inside themselves. As a result, they will never become the magnificent individual they were destined to be.

Don’t try to control. Instead, lead by example. If your light is bright enough, it will illuminate the way for others.

But always remember, whether or not they choose to follow, is entirely up to them.

With love. Xxx

Herbert And Trevor

And The Poison Ivy Fairy Cake,

(Based on an idea by Leanne & Lou McPherson).

Herbert was the worst of them – The Boggy Brothers, two,
His hair all full of fattened lice, his fingers smeared with poo.
Stubby nails from scratching, teeth black with decay,
His stench was reason on its own to frighten folk away.

He hadn’t always been so foul – in fact he’d been quite fragrant,
But failing eyes had turned him from a prince into a vagrant.
What looked like food, got shoved inside, because it was still hot,
You’d never want an evening meal from Herbert’s cooking pot!

His brother, Trev, though not so foul, was sneaky to extreme,
And jealous that old Herb was called, ‘The Meanest of The Mean.’
So, though he played at being friends, Trev’s plan was always clear.
He’d seal old Herbert’s downfall – become ‘ Trollest of the Year.’

One night as Herbert feasted, on rabbit dropping roast,
washed down with muddy milkshake and served with snake-skin toast,
Trevor lumbered from their bog and laid old Herb a trap –
A poison ivy fairy cake, for Herbert’s midnight snack.

As midnight struck, Herb’s stomach groaned, “Time for me to eat,
‘What I need is something fresh – a juicy bit of meat…”
“But what about your pudding, Herb?” Trevor kindly asked,
“You’re looking pale, dear brother. No need for you to fast.”

Herbert laughed, and farted, then laughed again quite loudly,
“Sniff that,” he dared, and trumped again, this time very proudly.
“Pudding’s just for sissies – give me something I can chew,
If I eat nowt’ but pudding, I’ll end up just like you!”

“That’s where you’re wrong though, Herbert, for pudding’s full of fat,
It keeps Trolls fit and healthy – every troll knows that.
A troll that won’t eat pudding, gets so fragile, he could break.
A clever troll is one who knows it’s vital to eat cake.”

Herbert frowned, and picked his nose, he really wasn’t sure,
‘I’ve read the Trolling manual, and I’ve not heard that before.”
“Are you sure you didn’t miss it, Herb?” Trevor asked him sweetly.
“The manual’s writing’s very small – and you can’t see completely.”

“Pud, it is, then,” Herb declared, and turned and trudged away.
Behind him, wicked Trevor Smiled, “I’ll be crowned by break of day,”
“See you before sunrise” Herb called, scratching at his bum,
“I don’t think so,” Trevor whispered, “I know what’s to come!”

At break of dawn, Herb returned, belching as he lumbered,
And placed a thank-you gift beside his brother, as he slumbered.
When Trev awoke, and looked around him, Herb was lying still.
“Hurrah,” Trev cried, “it looks like Herbert’s really had his fill!”

Then, by his side, old Trevor spied, the gift left by his brother,
A scabby squirrel – but all the same, a present from another.
And feeling peckish from his sleep, Trev shoved it in his gob,
But as he chewed, it struck him, that the squirrel tasted odd.

Herbert peeled an eye open, and glanced down at the ground,
No fox where we had left it – he was glad it had been found.
He’d pretend that all was normal, and he wouldn’t say a word,
For if he told Trevor the truth, he’d think he was absurd.

But Herbert was traditional – a proper kind of troll,
And always conscious that he had his bad name to uphold.
How could the ‘Trollest of them all,’ go eating fairy cake?
What kind of dolly-Trolly reputation would that make?

So when he’d found the pudding that he knew dear Trev had left,
(And not to seem ungrateful or to leave old Trev bereft),
He’d killed Trev’s favourite supper, and opened its mouth wide,
And checking no-one saw him, he hid the cake inside.

Fogotten Princess

The moon on her skin, closed lashes on cheeks,
Mist through her fingers, a smile at her lips.
Bare painted toes brushed the blooms at her feet,
Whispering breeze through her locks to its tips.
She twirled, and she whirled, to a tune of her own,
At a ball of her making, in a dress from her dream.
And the song that she heard from a place far away,
Chimed like crystal rain dew-drops into a stream.

And you saw, and you watched, and your eyes never strayed.
Your future, to hold her, this was your chance.
That princess you’d place at the top of all things,
And you’d never forget how she loved to dance.

The days on her skin, damp lashes brush cheeks,
A cut on her fingers, concern on her lips.
Once painted toes hide in house-slippered feet,
Coffee mug cold, too busy to sip.
She sighs as she chops, and she washes, and folds,
Glances out of the window, and pauses to stare.
Clouds racing, storm brewing, blue fading away,
Imaginary bars lead outside to nowhere.

And you see, and you watch, but your eyes never stop.
Your present, you have her, this is your chance.
That princess you’d place at the top of all things
When was the last time you asked her to dance?

Old age on her skin, thin lashes bat cheeks,
Your rings on her fingers, shared years on her lips.
Worn fragile toes crammed on shuffling feet,
Knees that won’t bend, nagging pain in her hips.
She sinks to her chair, she stares at the fire,
Watches the flames as they leap in the grate.
Says nothing, but watery eyes speak instead
Time now to give her, but time is too late.

And you see, and you watch, and your eyes never stray,
Your past now your present, never once seized the chance.
That princess you swore was the top of all things,
How soon you forgot that she loved to dance.

Mum’s the Word

“Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you will ever do, with the least amount of training…”

It’s Thursday, and I’m preparing for another ‘Positive Parenting’ session; despite my initial reservations, the course and its methods are very effective. It’s true that a great deal of what I’m learning is common sense (which doesn’t help silence that inner critic), but I console myself with the notion that there are times when common sense eludes us all. And because understanding and a sense of comradeship underpins each session, for a couple of hours at least, my inner critic takes its place on the naughty step.

If you’d asked me years ago if I could ever see myself on a course such as this, I probably would have laughed! Being a mum was an ambition. I viewed myself and my temperament as perfectly suited for the task. My own mum was/is amazing. As a child with a brother 10 years my junior, I watched my mum and her methods with hawk-eyes, making a mental note of everything I later wished to imitate. It never struck me, as I watched the kindness and the patience, that in moments of solitude, she might have wept or shouted her frustration.

My son is incredible. He’s loving, funny, boisterous, determined, competitive… And he’s bloody-minded; to the point that he will argue, whilst spitting crumbs, that he is not eating a biscuit. I make no bones about the fact that I struggle with his strength of will, and make no apology for the fact that I don’t enjoy confrontation. But I also make no apology for him. And my reluctance to embrace the aspects of his personality I find challenging, is not his problem, but mine.

We set examples for our children every day of our lives. As I once did as a girl, children watch their parents carefully and mimic what they see. If we raise our voices, or interrupt, or put down, we can hardly be surprised when our children do the same. The blank canvasses that turn our worlds upside down when they arrive need the best of our behaviours to give them the best chance to succeed. All the time we wear the ‘Parent hat,’ we must remember that our children don’t know any better and that it’s up to us to show them. So, at the end of the day, when we’re tired, frustrated, unwell, or plain fed-up, we have a responsibility to place our knee-jerk reactions on the back burner – for adult company only – and react to that request for another glass of water with a patience that contradicts every one of our aching bones. In years to come, when our children are dealing with their own children, surely it will be better to be proud at their reaction to a similar request, than to wince?

I have often wondered why no-one, mum included, warned me about how hard this job could be. That amongst the talk of booties, and cuddles, bath times and gazing, no-one actually said, “there are going to times when you question your suitability for this task to the point of self-destruction.” But of course they didn’t. Because, for one reason, there’s also a lot of joy. And for another, learning to deal with a challenging child puts a whole new perspective on handling difficult adults.

And finally, but probably most importantly, if my lovely mum had warned that being a mother was one of the hardest jobs in the world, I might have misinterpreted that as a slight made against me.

And to this day (and possibly one of the reasons why I so wished to parent like her), my lovely mum has never, ever done that.

 

With love to mums everywhere – and especially mine. You’re doing an amazing job! Xxxx