Wish I may

It’s 12-12-12 and that means it’s a wishing day. Last time I did this was in 09-09-09 and looking back at the post I’m amazed by how many of those wishes have come to pass. There’s something to this gentle wishing thing… will you join me today?

I wish for a weekend of reading books. I wish for security. I wish for continued good health for my family. I wish for the perfect pair of jeans. I wish for a never-ending supply of instant film. I wish for a lover who’s brave, knows how to cook and wants to explore the world with me. I wish for silence. I wish for time to write my new book. I wish for a month in New York City. I wish for passionate kisses every single day. I wish for deepening friendships. I wish for upgraded hormones. I wish for forever cuddles with my nephew. I wish for a gingerbread latte. I wish for my own line of journals. I wish for soul trust. I wish for more London adventures. I wish for sunny days. I wish for a detached house in the countryside. I wish for free broadband. I wish for clarity. I wish for a full-time assistant. I wish for morning optimism.  I wish for an ever-expanding heart.

I wish for love.

What do you wish for?

One month later…

This morning I realised it had been a whole month since I left Bath and I shook my head, amazed. That went really fast.

When you decide to make a change it can take ages to get to the actual jumping off point. There’s all the preparation and procrastinating and fretting and double-guessing: is this the right thing to do? What if it goes wrong? And then the day arrives and you make the jump. You move house. You leave the country. You tender your resignation. You tell him you can’t live like this anymore. And before you know it time is passing and you’re living in your imagined future. You took your courage in your hands and made it happen.

You did it.

New beginnings are best when you embrace them. There have been several times in my life when I was convinced it was game over. That what had happened was surely earth-shattering enough to halt the sun in its tracks and stop everything. But no, the sun carried on rising and setting dispite what was going down in my little world. Time passes and we can either adapt to our new situation or flounder. Sometimes it takes a lot longer than you’d like, but you do reach a point where the new becomes the familiar again, even if the new was borne out of the fire.

New beginnings are a wild ride. I feel completely remade as I work my way through this transition, and the process has been far from smooth. I’ve swung between the highs of falling back in love with the city to the uncomfortable realisation that old ways of being just aren’t going to work in this new place. There’s always something that you hadn’t prepared yourself for, always an emotion or situation or possibility you hadn’t factored in. It’s never what you thought it would be, but in my experience it’s often better than you’d pictured. The trick is to stay fluid, to be gentle with your remade self and to lean on the familiar practices you can wrap around your shoulders like a cashmere blanket.

This is proving to be incredibly fertile time, for even as I’ve been turning round and round like a dog trying to find the right place to sit, I’ve been making notes towards something that’s been wanting to be born for a while — i just didn’t have the right headspace. Until now.

I’ll tell you more about that next week :)

The fire of change

A lot of people have asked me how I’ve managed to get my flat looking so pulled together in such a short space of time, and the truth is I started before I moved.  I got back from the book tour knowing I had to move house and plunged into decluttering while still jetlagged. I also visited the new flat twice so I could measure up the space to ensure my furniture would fit. At one point I drew a diagram of the rooms to help me figure out what would go where — i even decided what would go in the kitchen cupboards beforehand. Yes, i really am that anal organised. It really made all the difference and meant I could get the basics done quickly, leaving me headspace to grapple with the more emotional challenges that come with a big move.

One of the great things about moving house is the opportunity to touch every single thing you possess. It’s like doing a really thorough life edit, scrutinising each item to decide whether it stays or goes. I got rid of a lot of furniture, but it’s the smaller stuff that’s most satisfying to weed out. The last couple of days I’ve been organising my photographs and journals, and have indulged in a few meaders down memory lane. I’ve some photos dating back to my childhood but the majority are from my 20s, when I was in a relationship and tirelessly chronicled our holidays, birthdays and evolutions. I’ll be turning 40 in February and what I am loving most about being older is having proof that I can survive when bad things happen.

I survived the end of that 10-year relationship in 2003 — a very sad but necessary ending that was deeply painful for both of us. We were two people clinging to each other out of fear of the unknown yet were both so fundamentally unhappy. We knew something had to change. I feel proud of 30-year-old me for being brave and making her escape. He went on to find love again and is now married and has two gorgeous kids. For me, it was the first step onto the path I am now on, one that brought much deeper pain with it a few years later, yet I know without a doubt that this is how life was supposed to unfold. How it IS unfolding. I wanted more love, more passion, more thrills and spills. I wanted to become a bigger version of myself, and to get to that place I had to dismantle the safe numbing life I had and re-enter the world like a newborn. If I’d have known what I know now the transition might have been less bumpy, but sometimes you have to go through the shit to find out what you’re made of. To find your true strength. To let the fire of change burn away the old to make way for the new. To have a chance at finding real happiness further along the path.

‘It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.’ ~ ee cummings

I’ve been dreaming about that time a lot lately… unsurprisingly. Where I live now is not far from the flat she escaped to and I’m planning to take a walk there soon, to step back into her shoes for a while. Memory lane can be a perilous stretch of road, and i absolutely knew that I’d be walking it if I came back to the city, so rather than skip around it I’ve got a compass and walking boots and am striding down that mother at full speed. The only way to heal painful stuff is to feel it, full on, full tilt. I don’t want to push any of this back down. I’m not going to hide from it.

So 30-year-old me made her escape, and because I’d never been on my own before I fell into another relationship very quickly — and you know how that ended. I’ve had a lot of time to wonder why it happened — what my life would have been if he hadn’t died. If I hadn’t met him. If I’d stayed together with my ex. Yet when I look at all the possible paths, the only one that feels right is the one I’m on now. Alone (for now) and more fully myself than I have ever been, knowing I can survive. Knowing that when it all falls apart I really can rely on myself <—- that actually makes me quite teary

It’s all blowing my mind a bit today.

And I know that so much of this is because I’m back here in my beloved city of memories. I am so ready to make new memories here, but right now I want to sink into the past and really taste it. I want to work through this to be freed from it. No more fear or regret. No more sadness. No more what-ifs.

We have to clear out our cupboards for the new stuff we want in our lives. The upgraded even better stuff. The stuff we can’t even imagine right now, but it’s out there waiting for us to bravely make space for it. 30-year-old me couldn’t have imagined I’d be where I am today. Nearly 40-year-old me doesn’t have a clue where I’ll be in another 10 years, though I have some hopes and wishes about that.

A snippet from When Death Comes by Mary Oliver:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing, and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Notes from the first week

As I mentioned in my last post, remaking all your routines is exhausting. Even something as simple as making coffee in the morning requires me to use different parts of my brain — I still try to turn the kitchen taps the wrong way when filling the kettle. It makes me realise how I ran my days in Bath on autopilot. I could throw together lunch with my eyes shut; I knew all the washing machine programmes by heart. And that’s normal, isn’t it. Just as toddlers thrive on routine, we tread the paths through our home until new neural pathways are formed. It’s comforting — essential, even — to helping us feel safe. Because home is where we most want to feel safe.

I do not feel safe yet. Everything is so new, and while having my own furniture around me helps ease the transition, I’m still bumping into things and fretting about locking the door. I still got back from a weekend away on Monday anxious to see if the flat was still standing (read: not broken into).


It takes time to rebuild your nest. I’m definitely a homebird. After the book tour I wondered if perhaps I could be location independent, living out of a suitcase and working wherever I found a decent internet connection. But I now realise I just needed to leave Bath. I needed to grow, and growth required movement and change. Being away for a month helped me cut the ties to my old home and inevitably that’s left me feeling unmoored. But what’s helping is remembering how I’ve been in this situation before — many times — and it’s always gotten better.

This is the 18th time I’ve moved house as an adult, and the third time I’ve done it on my own. Living alone has proved to be the most soul-nourishing thing I have ever done. It’s my hope that in the next couple of years this status will change, but for now I am relishing the opportunity to make my surroundings exactly as I want them.

Navigating such radical change makes me wonder where else I can bring in the new. My Google Reader suddenly feels heavy and repetitive; I’m itching to change the view I see through my laptop window. I want to curl up on my sofa and read for hours. I’m building myself up to attending lectures and workshops to feed my brain offline (can you imagine?)

I’m gently holding the “now what?” feeling that’s bubbling in my stomach. I’m here… I made the jump…. now what? I swing between the excitement of wanting to do EVERYTHING and total and utter inertia.

It doesn’t help that I’ve yet to refind my work rhythm. Emails need to be answered and next year needs to be planned out… but i’m still changing my address with the utility companies and wondering where my electricity meter is. Even writing this post feels clunky somehow, the words sticking in my head.


I’m waiting for the flow to return, basically. The ease of intimately knowing my surroundings. Fluffing the flat is bringing me joy, don’t get me wrong. I’m dreaming of the rug I want to buy myself for Christmas, and the vintage lamps and chairs I hope to find down Portobello Road. I know it’s just the beginning, and that beginnings can be bumpy.

I don’t have a neat ending for this post. I’ve barely scraped the surface of what I’m feeling right now… But I can tell you this: I’m so glad I made the move.

More soon. x