Benny Goodman may have died in 1986 but with my Dads taste in music his spirit was still very much alive at home when I was a girl, especially with me being a Daddy’s girl. Sing, sing, sing is one of the big band tunes that I remember being swirled around to, and it is one that my youngest likes to whisk me off my feet to a whole generation later.
I love music and am always on the lookout for something new to listen to, so I hope the 30-Day Song Challenge inspires some of you to share.
1. Are you celebrating or have you celebrated any holidays this December 2018?
For most people who know me, and perhaps if you follow me on here, it is quite clear that I have a tenuous relationship with Christmas. As a mum to two wonderful little boys who love this time of year I do celebrate Christmas. The way that we have celebrated this has changed recently…
2. Describe your typical holiday celebration.
Last year was the first time that I have taken full control of Christmas, while still giving my children the experience that they would like. Christmas eve we spent pottering around, Christmas morning the three of us open gifts and have a nice breakfast. Lunchtime takes us to somewhere wide open with a camping stove and some form of piggy goodness. Last year was Dartmoor for Bacon sandwiches, this year will be the beach for pigs-in-blankets hotdogs. The afternoon sees us cooking a slightly more traditional turkey joint, this time with chips and peas (with extra veg on the side for me) Late boxing day we head up country, towards extended family, when everything and everybody has calmed down a little.
3. Now tell us how you really would like to spend your holiday season.
I wouldn’t change anything. I have the Christmas that I have worked hard to be allowed.
4. This time of year broadcast TV is filled with Christmas movies. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
5. Does your place of work do a gift exchange or secret santa? Do you participate? What gift did you buy to giveaway this year? What gift did you get?
It has been many years since I worked somewhere that did a secret santa, but last time I did I knitted a beautiful hat for one of my staff. I was over the moon when she turned up to shift week-in week-out wearing it, not knowing who it had come from.
I would say either B or Cornish Chick. They are two of the worlds most wonderful women and I am so pleased they found their way onto my life. My first two give-and-take friendships too, a learning curve for all of us I believe.
3. Do you think a relationship should be 50/50 all the time?
No relationship can be 50/50 all of the time. Whether that is friends, family, play partners and lovers, needs fluctuate. Overall I think there should be a balance of give and take, or it stops being healthy, but as I have learnt with the two lovely ladies I mentioned above (and many more wonderful people) you can ask for love and support as well as give it.
4. When was your most recent act of kindness? Was it appreciated?
On saturday I was in a race (my first ever trail event). The water station was absent for some reason and I had gone prepared with a bottle of drink…just in case. There was a lady who was struggling so I let her have some of my drink. She was very grateful.
5. Are you a good friend? Why or why not?
I hope I am a good friend. I certainly try. Though this is very much an ongoing lesson for me as most of my adult life I wasn’t allowed to have friendships of my own choosing and the ones that were permitted were P’s friends first and foremost, so I was mainly isolated.
6. What is something that you tried really hard to like but just couldn’t?
PRAWNS!!!! These are very much a hard limit. The taste, the texture, the smell, the way they wriggle around in the bowl, they way they look. Definitely enjoy watching them in the sea and in rockpools, but as soon as they are for human consumption… This was particularly difficult when I was a manager of counters in a supermarket. The fish counter was my favourite one to cover, but whenever I had to serve prawns I’m sure I would turn a delightful shade of GREEN.
Bonus: How was your month of July? Did you do anything fun, interesting, new?
July has been a great month for trying new things. Starting the month with a broken cane and a sad goodbye I haven’t played this month. I was very excited to be asked to take part in an interview by Posy Churchgate for her weekly “share our shizzle.” The children and end of term stuff has kept me busy, which is no surprise. I was able to start taking my boys climbing, but as I went to look round the climbing place and the owner asked if I would be joining them I heard Ps words slip out of my mouth “I’m not strong enough for climbing…”. Instantly I stopped myself and finished the sentence “…so I’ll give it a go!” This alone shows how far I have come in my confidence, and after almost 18 months of counselling I have decided to call it a day. My counsellor told me that my enthusiasm for life is infectious. And then I have completed my first trail event, and as I went along alone I had the pleasure of meeting a number of new people over a cup of tea afterwards. Of course coffee and cake were required after that…so I headed for the nearest town and found a new coffee shop. There have been so many new things this month, from shoes to toys, through to new events and experiences.
This is something I love about my new life.
I have the determination to experience new things, the confidence to get out on my own and some wonderful friends to tell all about it afterwards.
On paper it should have been something to look forward to, a time to cherish with my boys. P had told me, in no uncertain terms, that when I ended things with him I had ruined Christmas for him forever. With that in mind I would “need to have the children for the big day.” No big problem, you would think, but he had always made me feel like a failure at Christmas so any joy that I may have brought from my own childhood had been reduced to zero over our marriage. The confidence I had in making it a nice day for the boys was not high. Add to that his desperately sad Facebook post on Christmas day 2015, and my eldest spent the build up to the festivities worrying about his dad.
What about M? He would be around, surely?
The plan was that he would spend Christmas eve with his mum and the day with his dad, who had just lost his wife to cancer. Then he would hot foot it up the coast to spend Christmas night and boxing day with me and the boys. I was always excited to see him, and I knew the boys would wrap him up in festive fun. M was as enthusiastic about Christmas as I was, and when he called me one lunchtime with a strained voice I knew something was up. There was an offer to join a friend of his to deliver a yacht from Portugal to the uk. He didn’t know whether he should go, or if he needed to stay and fulfill his duties as son and boyfriend. I gave him my blessing, genuinely excited by this opportunity. A little jealous perhaps, but genuinely happy for his opportunity. Once he had built up the courage to talk to his family they were all happy for him too.
As the dutiful girlfriend I drove him and his friend to the airport, dropping them in the car park before heading on my way.
One message pinged through before I was 5 miles away:
Thank you for bringing me, and being so wonderfully you. I hope you are not too sad, show me your smile. xxx
To which I responded with a quick selfie, of me trying to smile with wet eyes. I had a few hours to kill so I went on a mini adventure of my own to a nearby seaside town where I could have a cuppa and a walk on the beach. Sitting down to a steaming brew after a long cold walk I opened my phone. First thing was a message:
My beautiful girl. 🙂 Fire alarms, airport evacuated, delayed flight. Off again now. I’ll let you know when I’m safely landed. I love you xxx
Then I tapped my Facebook app as I sipped the cup of brown liquid. M had updated his profile picture. There I was! The picture I had sent him just a couple of hours ago. That put a smile on my face.
Getting home, still smiling and feeling loved, I collected the boys.
They had been with P, for their first Christmas. Hyped up, full of sugar and singing daddy’s praises I got them to bed. Two more days to the big day and they were only going to get more excitable, as children do! By Christmas eve I was feeling overwhelmed. Getting them to bed on the night before christmas was such a challenge. Then I had to organise the presents and by the time midnight slipped past I was in floods of tears. Dreading the noise and excitement of the following day, missing M, just wanting a cuddle… And to top it all off I had burnt my red cabbage trying to get ahead of the game! A game I didn’t want to play, but that I felt it was expected of me.
Surrounded by wrapping paper and piles of gifts my phone suddenly began to ring.
Through the tears and the snot I answered the phone. He was just pulling in to harbour where the two of them would be resting and collecting the third sailor for the long stretch home. He missed me and wanted to say hello as he knew how hard I would be finding the preparations. We chatted about the boat and his crew mate as well as how his journey was going so far. With his voice in my heart I slept well and woke to the excited voices of two little boys who had received a visit from father Christmas.
The day was as difficult as I had expected.
Excited children and my grumpy mum. My home filled up with my brother and his family mid-afternoon, just when all I wanted was to shut the doors and regain some calm again. More food, more gifts, more excited children. And one more phone call from M, who had spent the day trying to cook a roast dinner as they sailed across the bay of Biscay. Now they were all sat on the deck eating together, and he was in range of masts so could talk to me and the boys. Somehow that grounded me enough to get through the rest of the day until, with the boys in bed and the dishes done I was able to sit down quietly and chill out. Stretching out on the sofa I flicked on the Christmas news and saw that George Michael had died. This was all the encouragement I needed to let out the tears which I had been holding back all day.
1. What was your biggest worry five years ago, do you still have that same worry or feel the same about it at this minute?
Five years ago I was heavily pregnant with a child I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to love or care for. My first birth was followed by 3 years of not liking my son, and this surprise pregnancy brought back a lot of those feelings of inadequacy and fear. Add onto that P had decided we were going to find out the sex of the baby, and upon discovering we were having another boy repeatedly made the points that he had a wanted a girl, he was deeply unhappy that I was growing a boy and I probably should have had that abortion he had suggested at the start of the pregnancy. (He is a real charmer)
Five years later and my fears have been proven unfounded. I didn’t experience postnatal depression second time round, and though there have been very challenging times I have removed the highly toxic P from my life (as much as possible) and found a strength of character which is proving to be more than good enough for raising two lovely little boys.
2. Do you have a positive or negative body image? What factors contribute to your self body image? a. advertisements b. media and social media c. comments from others d. introspection and analysis of self
I finally believe I have a positive body image. I see my body for what it is, and I am proud of what my body can do. Over the last five years I have gone from loathing my body to being fairly ambivalent about it. Just in the last year (from my heaviest last October to a healthier weight now) I have come to really appreciate certain parts. My breasts were the last part, with everyone else having the perfect shape or size and mine being, well, different. Following tasks from an exasperated Sir, and some great photos I have realised that when I say “all breasts are beautiful” that can include mine too. So much so that I even got fitted for a bra two weeks ago! Got to love Sir’s tasks and a spot of self-counselling.
Sadly, no amount of people telling me they like my breast, bum eyes or [insert preferred body part] has helped me in this journey. I have friends and lovers who enjoy my body, and sir has always been appreciative. But he has set tasks so that I can accept myself in my own time. And as my confidence has grown in my body so has my appreciation of it, and my willingness to look after it.
I have been a bit frustrated at the media and certain apps, one called My perfect body which allows you to shape and mould your photos to create the “perfect” shape. It makes me worry for the next generation. I may have downloaded it and had a go…
3. How confident are you as a person? a. no confidence at all b. confident around friends and family c. confident at work, and in my job d. very confident in my surroundings–work, social settings, with strangers
I have a quiet confidence which I find useful in most situations. From meeting strangers, to public speaking and with people who I know well. Strangely it is the people I know a little but not well who I feel shy around. Perhaps with strangers I can have the walls up, and those I’m close to have already found the secret hiding place for my spare door key. Those in the middle ground are, perhaps, more risky? Who knows…
4. How creative a person are you? Why? a. not creative b. average creativity c. creative in some situations d. very creative
When it comes to food I am very creative, particularly with store cupboard staples. Otherwise I rely on reflection or academia (writing) and patterns or pictures to copy (drawing and crafty things) I’m happy with my level of creativity.
5. Do you resent things being uncertain and unpredictable? Why? a. agree b. undecided or Don’t Know c. disagree
I can find uncertainty challenging, but resent predictability.