I’m a Stuck Mum, which means I’m – quite literally – living my life in limbo, my body here, where we are, but my mind and my spirit mostly elsewhere, far away, pining for life in England. For red Post Boxes and foggy Autumn mornings and Soreen fruit loaf and strawberry Angel Delight and Earl Grey teabags and Sainsbury’s value range chocolate chip cookies and seeing what bargains I might find in The Works and car boot sales and – well – many many more things I miss so much I cry for at least 20% of my day, every day. Crying myself to sleep is a ‘normal’ I never expected to find myself living.
So, in the spirit of my pervading Britishness, I’ve just got to make the best of it and get on with things. Aside from nostalgia for England, and sadness for the loss of my freedom, loss of parts of myself I held dear, and the loss of my marriage, and frustration that I’m living somewhere I do not want to be, I live with this morbid, panic-filled, sense that my life is passing me by. I feel like I’m in stasis, not some Walt Disney sort of optimistic cryogenic state, but a panic-inducing state where I’m suffocated by a sense of dread, that I might not be able to accomplish everything I want to accomplish in my life. It’s horrid. It wakes me up at 2am, keeps me from concentrating on even the simplest tasks, stresses me out when I’m trying my best to relax.
I can’t live like this any longer so, prompted by Charlotte’s Bucket List, I decided to put together my own ‘Things I can do while I’m stuck here’ list, things that will add to the quality, and enjoyment levels, of my life. That I can do whilst I’m in my limbo state. [I’ve taken the liberty of adding a couple of things I’ve already done to the list – I think I’ve earned a little bit of a confidence boost!].
Here goes (in no particular order):
1. Start a blog, I Will Bloom
2. Get my book out of my head and on paper (in progress via NaNoWriMo!)
3. Learn Italian (been promising myself this one for far too long and as I’m now fluent in Spanish, I think I’m ready to give it a go)
4. Take singing lessons (I have this recurring fantasy that I’m a jazz singer)
5. Re-learn to be happy in my own skin. Radiate that happiness from within again. [A friend said, the other day, that he missed my presence. I was taken aback, as I remembered I did have presence – and quite a lot of it – and I seem to have lost that, which is sad. I WANT MY PRESENCE BACK!!!!]
6. Take dancing lessons (for the fun of it and to get to know my body again. Hah! I write ‘for the fun of it’ but the idea terrifies me. I’ve decided, however, that the only way I’m going to re-cultivate my presence is to do stuff I find scary. Nothing’s going to change in me if I don’t take risks and I cannot continue living like some shadow of my former self).
7. Re-launch my editing business (it was a thriving business, pre-theft, and I need to build up my income sources again!)
8. Give scrapbooking classes here (it’s a talent I have and there’s a market for it and I’ll meet some people, which is always a good thing for me, as I live in my head and now is definitely not the time to be living in my head)
9. Make a vision board for the next five years of my life (I’m a great believer in the power of vision boards). Thank you, guys behind Pinterest, you made it so easy to create my vision board. It has saved me from many a dark, dark thought. [I am a capable, strong and determined woman. Armed with a plan – a vision – I will get us out of this mess].
10. Run a marathon (I’m up to about 15K ‘comfortably’ as of writing)
11. Make the quilts from my children’s baby clothes (don’t just sit thinking about it)
12. Be creative every day. Paint. Collage. Write poetry. Write a letter. Just do something creative every day (this is so important for me but it’s often the thing that gets left to one side which is silly because, when I do it, I feel so much stronger and able in all areas of my life)
13. Start taking photos regularly again (I started again, prompted by Chelsea, but have stopped again. I must get back in the habit – it’s a lifeline for me, always has been).
14. Be serious about my portrait photography project (as with 12 and 13, it will fill me with joy and, from that, confidence)
15. Get in to the habit of writing letters again
16. Practice daily acts of kindness, including – especially – to myself
17. Learn to love myself again
18. Learn to trust in people again (I can’t let one bad, very bad, man destroy my world view – it’s a daily struggle but one I have to win)
19. Finish compiling my 40 after 40 list (as with my vision board, this is a lifeline. Just imagining all the places we’ll go is the air under my wings some days) – there’s a visual compilation here. Yep, I want to go to Thailand, India, Tibet, Japan, to see the Northern Lights, to see Alicia Keys, Tony Bennett and Diana Krall in concert, to meet Richard Branson and many, many, more things….[I’ll be damned – probably literally damned – if I don’t get to do all of these things before I die, because that would be a huge sin. A sin against myself and all the talents I have that should be put to good use to make these things happen].
20. Build my faith. It began as faith in myself. Has been joined by faith gained from meditation. Then faith from something that feels like God. I’m on a daily mission to have more faith. As I read somewhere, “There isn’t enough room in your mind for worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there”.
And that’s it…a list to rebuild a life (three lives) from.
If I’m not OK, my children won’t be OK. As my psychologist says, with a wry smile on his face, “Helen, what would Churchill do?”. I bit my lip to prevent me from biting his head off the first time he said it but now it makes me smile, every time I think of it.
I’m British. We British are not known for laying down and giving in. I’m not going to let my Britishness down. It – if nothing else – will carry me through this, stoically, onwards and upwards.
I’ve modified the psychologist’s question in to a somewhat more feminine version, preferring to ask myself now, “What would Lady Mary do?” (it makes me smile!). Having watched all of Downton now, having seen her deal with a dead Turkish man with aplomb, deal with the potential loss of her family’s fortune with grace, deal with the death of her husband with stoicism, I’m now a living, walking ‘pretend-a-like’ Lady Mary.
Bring it on. I will deal. Armed with my bucket list, that will empower me again, I’ll learn the lessons I need to learn at this stage of my life. I’ll thrive. I’ll go as far to say that I Will Bloom.
Bring it on.