Best Face Forward

Best Face Forward

So, which mirrors are telling the truth? The ones at home, or, the ones we encounter  in  changing rooms, gyms, hairdressers or public loos? Which is it? Because, based on recent evidence, I shouldn’t really leave the confines of my own bedroom if I want to be seen at my best.

It’s taken me a lot of years, and a lot of mirrors, to understand that the problem lies with the approach to mirrors outside the home versus the ones inside. At home we check our appearance, perhaps apply make-up, do our hair and privately make the decision, that yes, we look okay to go.  We’re used to the lighting in whichever rooms we get ready in and tweak accordingly. The mirrors outside are very different!

We have no control over the lighting or the positioning and the majority of them will involve other people, movement and, something that is quite alien to our generation… publicly declaring that we are happy with what we see!

Take the hairdressers as an obvious example. Not only have you had to sit in front of a mirror catching a glimpse of what you actually look like when you speak, but you’ve possibly watched your hair be turned into nothing you asked for, get shown your head from angles you wouldn’t normally see and had to say whether you like it….in earshot of a salon load of other women!

Pass a certain age and the quest to find an independent shop, selling something that looks good on a body lager than size 0 is quite a task. I sing from my soap box about the demise of the high street, how all towns look the same and claim to love small boutique shopping, at least I do, until I try something on! Almost without exception, these shops won’t have a mirror in the cubicle they have fashioned from a curtain suspended from the ceiling. So, having disrobed and squeezed yourself into, what, on the hangar at least, looked perfect, you have to walk out into the shop to look in a mirror which at this point feels like a ten mile walk away. With no idea what you look like, you walk the said distance to glance nervously in the mirror, whilst the eager shop assistant/owner appraises your appearance, along with any other person in the building. This can go one of two ways…you hate what you see and scurry back to the comfort of the curtained cubicle or you actually like what you see and have to do that thing where you swivel from back to front standing on tip toes and agreeing with the sales person, that yes, you look amazing. Is it any wonder that on-line shopping is so popular?!

Then there’s the gym! I vividly remember my first Zumba class in an overly mirrored studio, wondering why on earth the woman in front of me kept going the wrong way and how she looked strangely similar to my mother. It must have been a good ten minutes before I realised it was me and to be honest I really didn’t need to know!

In conclusion it would seem that, unfortunately, the mirrors outside are telling the truth and the bedroom mirror has been lying to me for a very long time but I love her for it. So if you see a woman walking around with an overly large gilt edged mirror on one shoulder and a bed side lamp on the other, don’t judge me, I’m just privately trying to put my best face forward.

 

 

 

 

 

The Youth Of Today

The Youth Of Today

They can get quite a bad press, these “Millennials” of ours, but you have to speak as you find and I’ve seen some great examples of our future generations recently.

Waiting in line at our local Co-op, with just a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk in hand , I suddenly realised that the queue was moving very slowly. On seeing an older lady at the till, I assumed she was struggling to pack or get her money out, however,what was actually happening, was the young cashier, carefully removing fiddly plastic tags and pre-opening jars and packets, so that the lady would be able to open them when she got home. “Her hands are a bit stiff”, she explained. I was so touched by her kindness and told her so when I came to pay. ” We do that for her every day”, she explained.

One of the nicer things about our kids growing up is being able to spend more time with the Husband and this week we snatched a couple of sunny days away in Brighton. The hotel was lovely but we were amazed at the young and seemingly inexperienced staff being left to run the whole show, we needn’t have worried, they were great. Everyone from the receptionist to the bar manager was a true professional with a genuine interest in their job and a love of the area. So refreshing.

However, my favourite example of great kids was last Saturday night, when Husband and I had planned a quiet night in for ourselves but agreed to number 2 son having “pre-drinks” with his mates at ours. Instead of secreting themselves in a separate room, they joined us in the garden, one having brought us a bottle of wine he thought we’d like. Before we knew it, the clock had literally struck 1am and we’d had a great night drinking, chatting and yes, boogeying ,with our boys and their friends. Priceless.

The fact is that all of us have been or will be the “Youth of today” and we’ve all had a bad press at some point. Personally, I’ve learned a lot from my kids. I love their openness, their acceptance and their realisation that our generation have a lot to answer for.

 

Care to Dance?

Care to Dance?

I’ve always loved to dance, any opportunity to strut my stuff and I’m there with bells on. I’m not particularly good at it, but it’s fun, and formed a large part of my childhood and teenage years. Dancing classes made way for night clubs and when I felt a bit too “mature” for those, parties,weddings or indeed a few friends and a few drinks, still provide the perfect excuse for a boogie. (How aging is that word?) It’s not unusual for my boys to catch me dancing round the kitchen and depending on who they’re with or what mood they’re in, they can be anything from roaring with laughter to dying of shame!

According to them, clubs no longer “slow things down” at the end of the evening, which is such a shame. How many couples met after having that slow dance before going home?

My own parents always loved to dance, that’s how they met and they knew how to do it properly. Waltz, Foxtrot and best of all a Jive. They were really good. I was always quite jealous of those old-fashioned dances in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, they all looked so glamorous and romantic. Disco had a lot to answer for, but even that was better than nothing.

This weekend I was lucky enough to be transported back in time whilst visiting the impressive Ned hotel in London with some friends. This renovated banking hall has retained all of the glamour of the 1920’s and has to be seen to be believed but perhaps best of all, on a Sunday night, they have a live jazz band and couples of all ages, young and old, turn up to jive and Lindy hop amongst the Art Deco pillars. They were amazing and yes, I did join in, no, I couldn’t do it properly but I had a good go and it was great! How often do you and your husband get asked to dance by complete strangers intent on teaching you how to dance? I was in heaven.

My boys would have died a thousand deaths if they had seen us but one of the many joys about being our age….we didn’t give a damn!

Sleepy Head, part 2

Sleepy Head, part 2

Forgive me but last night was such a classic example of my inability to sleep through a night that I just had to share.

It had been a fairly normal Friday evening with everyone having been engaged in some social or sporting activity, all those old enough to have a drink had done so, but not to excess and everyone was tucked up in bed uncharacteristically early by normal standards, at 11pm.

So far so good.

I was awoken at 2.44 (I know this because I looked at the clock as soon as I opened my eyes), by the unmistakable sound of someone being sick. My husband was fast asleep beside me, so I knew it wasn’t him. My first thought was that the instructions I’d given my youngest son, on how  to heat a spicy chicken pizza, must have been lacking, my second was, that one of my older sons must have drunk more than I’d realised.  I get out of bed to investigate only to find that all 3 boys are fast asleep and certainly not being sick. I go to check on the dog, but she is out for the count too. And, yes, she is a useless guard dog!

Back in bed I hear the noise again. This time I look out of the bedroom window and seeing various cars outside a neighbour’s house,decide that one of their guests must have been ill in the street. Nice.

Back in bed again, I try to get back to sleep,only now there is another noise…purring, above my head.

There is a very tall tree that overhangs our bedroom roof and our bed is directly under the slope…I now know that, when sleeping, squirrels purr!! Sweet, if it wasn’t so damn annoying to be kept awake by so many other living creatures.

True to form, husband, sons,dog and the bloody squirrel, were bouncing around full of energy this morning, whilst I felt like I’d been out on the town all night!

The menopause has a lot to answer for!

Sleepy Head

Sleepy Head

We’ve all heard the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young”, but I’ve got a new one;

“Sleep is wasted on the young”!

Remember those heady days when you didn’t want to sleep in case you missed anything but when you closed your eyes, it felt like you were opening them just 5 minutes later, refreshed and ready for a new day? No… I can barely remember them either but when I watch my boys heady disregard for the wonder that is “A good night’s sleep”, I realise that nature has got it all wrong. After all, who actually needs their beauty sleep? Them or me?

Teenagers can seemingly sleep forever, when they really should be doing something far more useful and productive, whereas the elderly struggle to stay asleep for too long and have hours of their day to fill.  Just as a woman starts to appreciate the benefits of sleep on her skin she starts having babies and her relationship with sleep is irrevocably changed forever.

Of course, nature prepared us for this, as anyone who has tried to sleep comfortably with an 8 month bump will tell you, and, somehow, we get a practice run at learning to function on just a few hours of shut-eye.  Eventually, depending on how many babies we have, these years pass and we slip into a slightly better, if not perfect, sleeping pattern again. But then she’s back, mother nature returns and this time it’s the menopause which for many of us means hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia.

However, as inconvenient and unattractive as these symptoms are, I believe they are our body’s way of preparing us for the next stage of sleeplessness, that is, life with young adults and teenagers!

Who knew the day would come when you wouldn’t tuck them up in bed and enjoy a peaceful evening; that instead, they would stay up longer than you or go out till the wee small hours bringing their friends home to continue the party at yours? Most annoyingly of all, you will have been awake for half of the night but they will have drifted off into a deep and restful sleep. They will wake as if nothing has happened, whilst you’ll look like death and probably lie awake for nights after, feeling hot and sweaty and worrying about your parenting technique.

No wonder we get wrinkles. No wonder we drink wine!!

 

 

Life in the Midlife Lane

Life in the Midlife Lane

So , why am I writing this blog?  That’s easy; Middle Age is amazingly complex and I am astounded, on an almost daily basis, by the amount of hurdles we have to jump, decisions we have to make and life changing situations, either our older children or, even older parents, put us in. And where’s the help? When you think about all of those parenting books available to you when you’re pregnant, have a new baby,  breast-feed, bottle-feed or toilet train. Then there are the books on how to dress, how to cook, how to furnish our homes, keep relationships alive etc but very few tell us how to do these things whilst juggling the complexities of adult children living under our roof, aging parents needing our help, normally a couple of hormonal teenagers too and our own menopausal symptoms to boot. It’s a minefield and I know there are lots of us grappling with the same issues. It’s not all bad though. This age should still be about fun and hopefully we’ve got a bit more time for ourselves too. So this blog isn’t about answers, more an outlet for the highs and lows that come along and I hope, a chance to find out how you other mid-lifers are dealing with middle-aged life, whatever that might mean.

 

Thanks For Telling Me

Thanks For Telling Me

When my eldest son turned 13 some 9 years ago, a friend laughingly advised that I should ask him anything I needed to know because,as of today, he knew everything. Now the proud owner of a 22, 19 and 15-year-old I often reflect on how right that friend was as there is no end to the advice I receive, unsolicited or otherwise.On any given day I can learn how I should be, driving a car, roasting a potatoe, seasoning a chilli, ironing, talking, consuming or not consuming alcohol…. the list is endless. In fact, how I navigated life in the 40 years preceding my eldest’s 13th birthday is a complete mystery.  In the words of Kylie, “I Should Be So Lucky”. Yes, Kylie, who is unbelievably the same age as me, but, as I often explain, hasn’t pushed 3 people out into the world and had the benefit of their opinions for the last 2 decades! The irony is that I still feel  there is so much advice I still need to give them and I’m running out of time. Two of them have already spent time living away from home but when they’re back they’re so busy advising me, I can’t get a word in edgeways.