Tenderness

“Try a little tenderness” ~ Otis Redding

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Tenderness (n): gentleness and kindness; kindliness

 

I came home from a couple of nights away to find a box of Bloom & Wild flowers waiting in my hall. If you don’t know Bloom & Wild then let me explain that they send their blooms in a box in nets, it’s a manner designed to keep them fresh. They had been sent to me by, let’s call them a society, who knew about the time I had been having and wanted to send me a hug.

I didn’t even wait to take my coat off before I carefully unwrapped each bloom, trimmed their stems, and arranged them in water so they could perk up after their time in my hallway. Such a beautiful and caring gesture, they are brightening my mood every time I look at them.

Like the flowers needing to be freed from their nets and put in the water, we all need the right environment in order to thrive. And that is why I took myself away to Budapest. If my trip had not have been booked and paid for I would’ve travelled back to Derbyshire to spend time with Mum in hospital. But I was assured by my siblings that things were in hand and to go and take the break while I could.

So I walked and I drank and I took plenty of photos. I switched off from checking social media and I allowed myself to have time that wasn’t posting hospital updates, that wasn’t about the negatives. I gave myself that time to remember that even in hard times it is still ok to laugh, it is allowed and indeed necessary to enjoy the good things in life. And as I eventually ended up in an outdoor rooftop spa in almost freezing temperatures, I felt something in me unfurl, just like the flowers I was later sent, I, too, had needed a change in my environment.

As I have been writing this, I have been told that my family are breaking Mum out  the hospital again. She is being signed out, we aren’t indulging in Mother-rustling, but it is just so much easier for us to take her home than to rely on the hospital transport system.

Mum has been in a hospital a lot this year. There have been strong medical changes in how her MS is being managed and they have been hard on her and all of us. But her time there recently has also been eased by some of her regular carers coming in; showering her, sitting with her, spending time doing the crossword and the newspaper quizzes. The little elements of care that make it easier on Mum and by extension the family, the care that nurses understandably cannot provide, but that make her time there so much more bearable.

Hopefully these latest adjustments, this latest change to her environment, will mean she can be home for longer, that she spends Christmas with her family, that she has time to enjoy, in as much as can be, life as the new normal.

It’s her birthday soon. Presents will be focused on things with a pleasing scent, something soft to touch, audiobooks she will enjoy hearing. It’s the smallest of care but it’s what we can do. That, and time. Time spent with Mum, enjoying every moment there is.

And so I turn to you, dear reader, to return to theme of this blog; tenderness. Life in so many ways, for so many people, is hard right now. Maybe you are one of those people. And so I urge you to treat yourself with the tenderness you would show to a dear friend, to an adored lover. What ever gestures of kindness you can show yourself please do it. You are too important to neglect.

And if perhaps you are doing ok, perhaps you could call a friend, send a message, write a letter. We all need our friends, our loves, our support networks; sometimes to lean on and sometimes be leant on.

Either way, the world needs more tenderness right now. I believe Nayirah Waheed says it best with these lines:

 

With love,

Princess

 

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With A Little Help From My Friends

“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends” ~ The Beatles

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Friendship (n): the state of being a friend, a friendly relation or intimacy

 

Man. What a few weeks it has been. I don’t know if it’s been Mercury being retrograde, the apocalyptic weather, or the near on nuclear war (possibly due to Mercury being retrograde?) but since mid August life has been scary, intense, hard, and at times overwhelming.

There have been some difficult conversations. There have been more than a few tears. And not everyone has made it through to the other side.

But as I sit here, strangely in sounder mind and body than I have been in a long time, I know why I’ve made it through. The running helps, as do the weights; the time spent cooking a nice meal for myself; the sitting down at my laptop to bleed (thanks, Hemingway). But really I’m here because of my friends.

It’s such a strange thing, friendship;  how some people just move in to your heart and never leave. And, inexplicably, how you seem to do the same with them. We might never know how much space we may take up in someone else’s heart but what they say to us, how they treat us, that tells us all we need to know.

Sometimes it is the little things that remind you of the importance of you in the world. The pretty blonde with the excellent lipstick getting you a beer, the cool AF online friend being excited about the prospect of meeting for a drink, being high-fived at a dinner party for saying something so wrong but also so very right. All these friendly acts, gestures, that say ‘yes, there people in the world who actually like you’.

And then there’s the big stuff too. The friend who calls you whilst driving home from a late shift because life is too damn hard and you can’t stop crying. The one who hugs you and then knows not to let you go because you’re not ok and all you need in that moment is to be held. The ones who you hardly ever see but when it matters, when it really deeply matters, they always step up the plate.

We all need people. To laugh with, to cry with, to share thoughts and ideas and feelings. To hear the truths of our heart,  and to listen, to be open, to care, when we are trusted with the heart truths from another.

May you always have friends to celebrate with you in your triumphs and laugh with you in your disasters. And to my friends all I can say is thank you.

 

Princess

Born To Run

“Baby, we born born to run” ~ Bruce Springsteen

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Run (vb): to move on foot at a rapid pace

 

Baby, I was not to born to run.

Sure, when I was a skinny teenager, all legs up to my armpits, I loved it and would run easily anywhere. But these days I am a 3 stone overweight, practically middle-aged woman. I have pulled muscles and lingering foot issues and running does not come easily to me. Yet, strangely I enjoy it and having not done it for so long I found myself regularly lacing up my trainers and getting out there. I knew it got serious when I downloaded the Runkeeper app.

There are 3 people I credit with me getting my running mojo back – @AlmostSenseless @Twohungrymen and @The_Lady_Sybil, two of whom I love dearly and the third I hope to share a gin with one day. As, when I was feeling in a rut and needing to do more, there each of them were on Twitter, on Instagram, going out, getting rained on, sweating, and showing that it can be done. And it was more than a little bit of “if they can do it so can I” I booted myself back out of the door.

There are great health benefits to it. I can already feel how my breathing is better, my movements are less laboured. Some days I run well, some days it just isn’t happening. On those days I walk more then play on the outdoor gym for a bit. Because I genuinely love exercise, I love the testing and pushing, feeling my body move and work.

But I don’t just run for the health, I run because I’m vain. Because I’m overweight and I hate it. Because I have this horrible voice inside me that says awful things about how I look. When I run I feel lumbering, blubbery; when I am home and I see my naked self in the mirror I don’t see my body as pleasing. I see my lines and curves making a mocking face (work it out, I ain’t posting you a picture), the sheer breadth of me makes me want to cry, especially my stomach sideways on. Though I will admit that the curve of my arse is actually uplifting. But I don’t like my body and it makes me sad that I feel that way. I have this horrible disconnect with my body as thing of beauty, of great strength and functionality. I should love all these things about myself, I should embrace them. But that voice has been doing this to me for years and is strangely hard to silence.

But I have found another voice when running; a voice that encourages me, that tells me how well I’m doing, that cheers me on to the next tree or bin or park bench. The first time I realised I was speaking to myself in a way that was positive and good I nearly fell over. I can only imagine this is what being on really good drugs must be like (just say no, kids). The idea that I could be nice to myself is the most revelatory thing that has come from running. And it may not have silenced that other voice but it has certainly given it some competition and that’s got to be a good thing.

I still can’t actually run as far as any of the people who inspired me to start running again. I haven’t ground out a 5k yet, never mind smashed one. But I’m still going and that’s what counts.

So no, maybe I wasn’t born to run, but I was definitely born to keep trying.

 

Princess

Love, actively

“It must be love, love, love” ~ Madness

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Love (vb): To have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for

 

Consider love as a verb not a noun. It’s a doing word. An action. That means our love is expressed not simply in words but what words we use, how we use them, and, most importantly, how we act.

If you claim to love someone madly yet you never ask how they are, never throw them a tender smile or proffer a gentle hug; can that then truly be said to be love?

And, conversely, even if you would never dream to say “I love you” to someone yet you send them messages of encouragement, take photos to make them smile, pause in your busy schedule to check in with them; is that love?

It can be all too easy to say we care, to say someone matters, but unthinkingly neglect them. To get caught up in our lives, our own cares, and not pause to say “how are you?” to someone and really listen to their answer. Listening, letting someone speak the truths of their heart, that is a form of love. Making time in your life for someone else and their life might only take a few minutes of your time but for that person it could make their day. 

So love actively. Choose words that express how you care and make your actions fit those words. There can never been enough love in this world; it’s what makes it go round, after all.

 

Princess

No More I Love You’s?

“No more “I love you’s”, the language is leaving me” ~ Annie Lennox

Or, as defined by my dictionary

“I love you” (phrase): An affirmation of affection or deep caring, especially to a family member. An affirmation of romantic feeling to a lover or spouse. A platonic expression of strong inclination or liking to a friend

 

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day. That day where for years cards have been exchanged, flowers sent, gifts bought, all in the name of love. And, in more recent years, the increased complaints about the commercialism and the statements to not buy into it.

I hear you, I really do. I don’t get those heart shaped balloons either.

But.

But.

I don’t get not celebrating the concept of love either. Tell someone you love them every day? Good for you. So why, for the love of Cupid and Eros, would you not do it on a day that is now set aside in the calendar for such a purpose?

You don’t have to go out, you don’t have to send flowers, to buy presents. My parents bought each other such perfect cards nearly 20 years ago that they have just exchanged them every year since. And as for going out for a meal… Well, the restaurants may inflate their prices, but a bowl of pasta and pesto with some fine green beans, cooked at home and served with a decent bottle of red, that will cost the same as it always does. If you feel like it go crazy and light a candle and share a box of chocolates for dessert.

Just don’t sneer at it. You can dislike crass commercialisation whilst still liking the sentiment. A day about love? Literally what’s not to like? A day for hopeful tentative expressions of appreciation, a day maybe enabling you to contact someone to tell them you like them. Do not dismiss the enabling power of that. Especially not if you already are in a relationship, share that love with someone. Don’t keep it all to yourself.

Because that’s the point of love, isn’t it? To share it, not to keep it wrapped up privately in your heart.

If you would say I love you or do something nice for a loved on on any other day of the year then don’t refuse to do it on this one out of principle; the world needs more love right now not less.

I love you

Princess