It’s been a funny old summer
It was my birthday yesterday. At exactly 2.30 in the afternoon, I had been on this planet 56 years. I don’t feel it. Part of me is still ten years old (even younger when in a bad mood) and I still want to dance and sashay like my 25 year old self. But reality is that, unless I outlive my amazing Aunt Maudie who left this mortal coil aged 111, I am way past the half-way mark.
Even if I achieve my dream of reaching 92 and popping my paws in a rocking chair while slurping my own home-made sloe-gin, I am way past!
Being 55 was alright – I was still closer to 50 than 60. Being 56 is different. I have been dreading it. In fact, it has rattled my self-perception and forced me to sit back and think. This started a few months ago – hence the stony silence on Staying Sassy. I did not know what to write. I wondered if a woman in the latter half of her fifties even had the right to use the word ‘Sassy’ about herself. I looked at life and thought ‘What have you done?!’ I looked ahead to another ten years of working and thought ‘What are you doing?!’ I looked at life in general and wondered ‘Where are you going?!’ It’s been a funny old summer.
However, out of fear comes frantic activity. Now that I look back over the past two months, I realise that all the negative energy was being played out in doing things differently. Changing things – both in body, mind and action – which has meant that the autumn starts very differently to the summer.
So what are those little changes which I really did not realise were adding up together?
- First was energy. I got off my backside and really started exercising. Every day I walk four miles or cycle for six. I walk the beach to clear my mind and minimise my bum. I did not do it to lose weight – more to stop the worry of seizing up and walking like an old woman. The result is that I am fitter than I have been in years.
- Second was the fat duvet. I have been over-weight for years now. Much of it was related to years of grief – losing your father, your mother, your aunt, your uncle and a dear friend in four years is never going to help your cortisol levels and that pesky hormone piles on the pounds. But it had become an excuse. So, inspired by the ever shrinking Sassista Two, I joined Slimming World. I did not believe; I poo-pooed the simplicity; I expected to plateau; I insisted it would not work for me. I was wrong. I am 18 pounds down and six to go. Not quite at the point of sashaying, but at least my stomach does not wobble if I do!
- Third was courage. My wonderful Dad left me a boat – Blue Su. That boat holds all my memories of him. The days of fun when I was little; the adventures every summer; the year we sailed round Ireland; the year we sailed around Britain; the frantic passage through the Caledonian Canal; getting fog-bound in Orkney; the night we went ashore and drank so much we could not find our own boat in the harbour; the long evenings just chatting in the cock-pit with a Blue Su vodka (that’s vodka which only gives a centimetre of glass to the tonic!). But since I lost him I have been terrified to take her out. The thought of being alone at sea without his wisdom and guiding advice put me into a paralyzing panic. Three years later, I had to get my Dad’s courage into my own soul. I did it. Maybe only in a small way, but I have been sailing my boat – my Dad’s boat – our boat. With the encouragement and kindness of a good man called Jonny, I found that courage. Next step – the Azores!
- Fourth was future. I am a serial responsibility mug. Everything is set aside to ensure that the work is done first. The result is that other loves never get done. I want to be a writer. I have written books and people say they are good stories; authors and tutors have told me I can write, I have agents who want me to keep working and submit more. But have I put my passion first? No. The result? Another three years and I am no further towards my future. So I have pulled out the manuscripts, found myself an editor and dusted off the lap-top. This weekend I will be in 1298, murdering another monk in Sempringham Priory!
- Fifth was acceptance. We all go through life thinking some things or some people will always be there. We think it is set like concrete. But things and people change. We can fight and rail and cry – but the change is still there. In truth we change ourselves. This is not the time or place to talk of others and pain. But just like the fear, pain leads to awareness. And I know I will be fine.
So – it’s been a funny old summer.
As for the question of can I use the words Sassy – damn right I can! And it’s good to be back.