I’ll tell you a secret my dear friends – I’ve never really felt that I’ve belonged anywhere. As a child I would stare through other people’s windows, see the table set, the dimmed lamps and laughter and shared love. I thought it was lovely, but I never felt that would ever be part of my life.
I’ve glimpsed it but never felt that family blanket of love that would catch you whenever you fell whatever you did. Just never had it – and take it from me if you do have it cherish it with all your heart. It is a gift indeed. My early lesson was that I had to be the good child, not rock the boat and to work as hard as I could to keep any kind of show on the road. I don’t blame anybody anymore it’s just how it was.
I loved my Mother very much. It broke my heart when she died and left me at 19 with no family support and -perhaps even worse – no female role model to shine a light on the path ahead. I feel so sad when I look back at the bewildered, terrified and isolated young woman that I was.
But – I got the point pretty quickly necessity is so often the “mother of invention“. We really are stronger than we think – but only if we choose to be.
I strapped my boots on, dusted myself off and made a clear intention – I was going to survive and in the words of the wonderful Maya Angelou I was not just going to survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.”
And reporting back from the grand old age of 56, battle-weary maybe from some of life’s most horrid hurdles and a little beaten and bruised, I figure it was a pretty good intention to live one’s life by.
I have survived and I have done so – I hope – without losing the ability to care, to be kind, to connect and to live with utmost integrity. This final point is, I believe, the magic ingredient that is always required if one wants to live a happy life. Your body and soul knows when you are mean, tell fibs, speak badly of others – every fibre of you knows this and it will come back to get you.
But there’s something else that I want to share. Something that has formed a critical pillar in my life and has given me strength when I’ve needed it and comfort too. It’s the thing that keeps me up and I know will never desert me.
It is female friendship. Throughout all of my life I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful girlfriends. Some are new – I’ve met somebody recently who I’m quite sure will be a friend for life – others stretch back to school days, first jobs, yoga classes, friends of friends, my children’s friends Mothers. I have had the most amazing joy and some sense of family through these relationships.
So a lady wrote to me the other day and said how much she enjoyed my blog. I was so touched. And then she said the magic words – she’d given my blog to her daughter’s to read and they’d so enjoyed it. She asked me to write more – so my dear reader this post is really for you.
And here’s why. My early path in life, with no female role models, was bleak. I probably chose a particularly ruthless path – newspapers, fashion journalism, TV journalism – but I never found anybody then who I could look up to. I so wanted to see the woman I wanted to be – but they weren’t there. Looking back maybe I wasn’t ready to find them.
There is something inside me so strong that I want to model for young women what good looks like as one gets older. The negative narrative in the media of empty nests, demise, becoming invisible does not speak to me as it just isn’t true. Getting older is such a privilege denied to so many, I feel so blessed that I can spend my life trying to do something good, memorable, helping others – however small those gestures might be.
I am so blessed to have so many great women in my life – but believe me I’ve worked at it. All relationships need work and, second only to being a good Mother and Grand Mother, is my desire to be a good friend. It is the best investment that anybody can make.
And there was I thinking I had a full complement of female friends and along came one of the most magnificent women I’ve ever met. Sue Woodd https://www.suewoodd.com/is a human dynamo, fizzing with vibrancy, energy and so much humour and joy. She has been a life saver for me and now a kind of spiritual guide. And now, through her, I’ve met a whole tribe of other women who I feel completely at home with….. dare I whisper it almost like a family.
There are so many kindred souls out there if we choose to open our hearts to them. In these troubled times, what really matters comes to forefront. I hold my friends hearts very tightly and never want to let go. They really are as good as it gets.
Stay safe out there and much love