52and39/2: Tell Me A Story

Armchair Books, West Port, Edinburgh.

Heaven for bibliophiles

Bookshop2  Bookshop1

I love books. Not just for the fables and narratives within, but for the stories of the books themselves.

Bookshop7
Who was Lizzie Murray? What became of her?
Someone's treasured memories
Someone’s treasured memories

Last Friday, we took the afternoon off with a yearning to browse the secondhand bookshops of Edinburgh and immerse ourselves in those stories.

Bookshop3 Bookshop6

We stumbled upon Armchair Books; a glorious emporium of antiquarian texts and second hand modern titles.

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“I like this book; it’s perfect”
World's Classiest Bookmark...
World’s Classiest Bookmark…

I love imagining the history of these books: who thumbed the pages? What lives had been lived in the homes those books once had? What had they seen?

Armchair Books, West Port, Edinburgh. Heaven for bibliophiles
Armchair Books, West Port, Edinburgh.
Heaven for bibliophiles, and the curious.

This is my new favourite place.

P.S. You can read more about the 52and39 project here

Dear Pols…

love always wins smaller

Love always wins,,,

A year ago, I wrote a letter to myself. That’s a kind of weird thing to do, I know, but my life was changing drastically and I guess I thought it would be nice to get a year down the line and look back at how far I’d come.

Of course life is full of downs as well as ups, and so writing this post really tugged at my heart strings. How do you tell your younger, less world weary self that she’s going to suffer the heartache of a miscarriage or the stress and worry of leaving full time employment? You don’t of course. You remind her she’s fucking awesome and hope that’s enough to see her through…

Dear Pols (aged 33 and just-over-a-half),

Well, here we are! Time has flown since you sat where I’m sitting now, and wrote to the person I am today. I still haven’t figured out this whole ‘writing to yourself’ thing, but I’m just going to roll with it. As you suspected, I’m still sitting in the same place (on a different chair at a different desk, but let’s not get caught up in the detail!) looking out at the same garden. That’s about all that turned out as you expected it would, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Of course, the children aren’t playing out in the garden as they were when you wrote to me; they’re bigger and bolder and have gone off on an adventure with their bikes!

What. A. Year. We always knew it was going to be a cracker, but it’s safe to say it didn’t take any prisoners! It would be unfair of me to spoil the joy of discovering how life is going to unfold, so I’m not going to give too much away. Also, if I tell you what’s ahead then you won’t do the thing you’re really good at. You know, that thing where you just follow your heart and trust your instincts. Of course not all decisions are ‘heart’ decisions… Sometimes your head demands a say and you have to at least listen to its point of view. All I’ll say is that whichever one you decide to follow, if it doesn’t eventually settle and start to sit comfortably (and it’s still niggling away at you when you’re doing important stuff like making cakes) then maybe you should go back and revisit it. Trust me; I’m saving you MONTHS here!

Some things are going to hurt, Pol. Some things really hurt and you might wonder if they will ever stop hurting. I can’t give you an answer to that, because I haven’t found it yet. All I know is that somehow, anyhow, you just have to keep going and hope that it does get better. Some things, once lost, are irreplaceable but they’re also unforgettable and you should keep hold of those thoughts. It’s tempting to keep looking for a reason why some things happen, but sometimes there is no reason. Not one that you’ll ever find, or that will make sense, anyway. I’m aching to tell you not to even try some things, but that flies in the face of my advice to follow your heart and do what feels right. If following your heart goes wrong, look for the lessons. Learn from the strength you found and yet didn’t know you had. Take it, use it, and be proud of it. Let yourself feel the emotions, even the most extreme ones, and remember that they make up the multi-coloured, multifaceted collage of characteristics that make your personality your own.  When it’s difficult, remember that love always wins. Always. Someone really special will remind you of that just as you really need to hear it.

I think it’s fair to say there’s a lot of change coming. Change is good, Pauline, even when it doesn’t feel that way at the time. The trick to dealing with change will be to allow yourself to feel resistance to it if that’s what you instinctively feel. It’s okay to do that, and recognising how you feel is going to be absolutely key to dealing with what these changes will bring with them. You’re going on a journey: It’s a long one, and the path isn’t particularly smooth. Brace yourself, but for heaven’s sake don’t wear sensible shoes because if you’re going to win a battle I want you to win it in style! The nice thing about change and challenges is that when you survive them, you get the satisfaction of knowing you made it. You get to look back at how far you’ve come, and be really bloody proud that you took the first step on what looked like an impossible journey.

It’s not all heavy stuff, though. The next twelve months won’t all be soul searching, huge decisions and life-changing transformations. You’re going to go to some really cool places and do some really awesome things. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say I’m my own boss now and that’s awesome. Granted my car is a bit rustier than that flash thing you drive, and working alone means the Christmas party is pretty pants, but the freedom and possibilities are endless. Also I’m sporting some bling, baby! I’m not suggesting you jump the gun and sign up to Bridezillas R’ Us or anything, but I would advise keeping your nails nicely manicured and photo-ready, just in case…

I won’t keep you, because you’ve got twelve months of non-stop living to do, but before I go I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the self-belief you started trying to build 52 weeks ago. I’m a happier, more confident version of myself because of that and I’ve learned to love and value myself just as I am. I didn’t become like this all on my own; I got here with the love and support of the truly wonderful friends that were there supporting you when you wrote to me last, and I’ll treasure them forever.

Now, buckle up, take a deep breath, and enjoy every second of this wild ride!

With much love,

Pols (aged 34 and just-over-a-half)

52AND39/1: Look Up

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I’ve spent a few days ruminating over how I’d like to kick off my foray into #52and39, looking back at the 91-word musings which kicked off this wonderful project.

...and look up
Sometimes you just have to stop…
...and look up
…and look up

These original posts, and my own lack of inspiration, brought the realisation that I rarely notice the fascinating world around me as I push on through my everyday life. It’s time to recognise and capture these little things hidden in the background and appreciate how they quietly enhance everyday life.

Look somewhere new
Look somewhere new
Or just take a moment to see something familiar in   new way
Or just take a moment to see something familiar in a new way

Dear Pols…

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It’s my half-birthday today (I know, I know… but any excuse for cake, right?) which means it’s a year since I wrote this letter to myself. I’ll probably scribble myself a quick reply later, so I thought I’d put the original letter here. It was previously on my blog, but I deleted it because I’m a bit of an overly emotional idiot really I was having an administrative reorganisation of my blog.

 

Life has been interesting lately. Actually, that’s an understatement. Life has been a roller coaster lately. Highs, higher highs, lows, long slow climbs that you just know have an enormous drop on the other side but aren’t quite sure how far the drop is, and a whole plethora of emotions. I haven’t blogged about any of it because, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I ever want to be able to revisit most of those places in the future. I do know from conversations with lots of people, though, that I’m not the first to be where I was, and I’m certainly not the only one to be in that place right now.

 

As you all know, I’m partial to the odd trite saying. I love a cheesy cliché, I do, and recent times have been no exception to that. Naturally, my corny catchphrase of choice of late has been “this too shall pass”. It got me thinking… It WILL pass. Of course it will. Everything does. But where will I be when events of the last few months are filed under D for Distant Memory? I guess the answer to that is that I don’t know (who does?) but I’m thinking best case scenario here, and having a word with the me who emerges from this in twelve months’ time…

 

Dear Pols (aged 34 and a half),

 

How are you? With any luck you’ll be reading this in the same place I wrote it: at your desk in the office at home, looking out at the children playing in the garden. They’ll be bigger than they are now but I don’t expect they’ll have changed much otherwise. This past year will have been tough on them at first, but I suspect the children you see in front of you now will have adapted nicely; they’re tough little cookies and they have your (our? This whole writing-to-yourself thing is kind of weird) strength of character. It’s that thing Dad used to say, isn’t it? Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. It has been tough. Horrendously tough. Unexpectedly and unpredictable tough. But we’re tough too, and so are those children, and that’s why I can write this knowing we all got there in the end.

 

You’ll have learned a lot in this past year, I expect. One of the lessons I’ve already learned is that sometimes there is just no right way to handle a situation. Or, if there is, it usually comes with the benefit of hindsight. I guess everyone in life is just muddling through as best they can. Maybe other people would have chosen different ways or different paths, but I did the best I could and I hope the road I chose for us has brought you to a destination where you’re happy. I’m pretty certain it has. When I look around me now, I see the green shoots of a promising future. The clouds have been many, but the silver linings have been plentiful too and I hope they’ve long outlasted the clouds.

 

I’ve been working harder on being kind to myself, so hopefully I’ve made that job easier for you. I’ve learned recently to take the lessons from the times I could have handled things better, and let the rest go; chuck them in that proverbial fuck-it bucket and move on. I’ve also learned to stop taking responsibility for the way other people deal with situations. I hope that’s worked out well for you. People react to stuff in their own way; it’s not your job to work through that for them or to accept responsibility for how they feel. Nor is it your job to guide them to the truth, or to explain yourself.

 

You have some really wonderful friends, Pols. People whose support and love has been unending and unconditional. I hope you have the opportunity to repay that to them one day. Meantime, they know how much they mean to you because I’ve told them. You should know who your friends are by now, because I’ve pretty much figured out who’s in it for the long haul, and who isn’t.

 

I know this will find you in a house full of happiness and love, because that’s what I’ve been building for you. A wonderful, crazy home with laughter and fun and a never ending source of strength. You’re loved, you’re wanted and most of all you’re utterly fabulous. I know that last bit because someone we know told me. Your future is bright, and anything else will pass.

 

Be happy, Pauline. Let me know how it goes.

 

Love,

 

Pols (aged 33 and a half)

Saying Goodbye

Pols80 birds grey smallest

This is a post I wrote on December 1st last year, and never published. Today – overwhelmed by the myriad emotions of this seemingly endless journey – I went looking for it in the hope of rediscovering perspective.

I was never sure how I might feel when The Night finally came; that long awaited night when we’d finally pack up all of Jessica’s male things and say goodbye to them for good. It’s fair to say it’s taken me a long time to reach the point of acceptance, and I know my emotions are still a little fragile. Loving Jess is easy, but coming to terms with losing Him was a long and painful process. Last night was The Night, and I finally said goodbye to the man I’d fallen in love with.

How I loved that man. He literally swept me off my feet and loved me in a way I’d never experienced. The memories of our days together, him and me, are among the most precious things I possess and they remain a beautiful but bittersweet place to visit in my mind. My mind is overflowing with memories of things we did, places we went, and feelings which grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I spent months torturing myself with trips down memory lane, where my mind was haunted by that amazing man who stole my heart and then left me. I looked again and again at my favourite photographs, knowing they would break my heart a little bit more, and I missed him so much that it ached.

Of course, he hadn’t left me at all. All he’d done was throw off the mask he’d spend a lifetime wearing to reveal Jessica, the woman he’d been hiding inside all along. It didn’t take long for me to see that, beneath her feminine exterior, Jess was that same wonderful person I adored. She had the same sense of humour, the same gentle manner, and the same twinkle in her eye. The safety and comfort of the deep love we share had given her the confidence and the self-belief to be herself, and it truly is a beautiful thing to behold. I’ve watched this wonderful, courageous woman emerge from behind a disguise she thought she’d been condemned to wear for life. Jessica isn’t second prize; she’s the star turn taking to the stage after the warm-up guy finished doing what he’d set out to do.

So, as we packed up his things and bundled them into the bin, I finally discovered the answer to the question of how I’d feel when it was time to say goodbye. Thankful, that’s how I felt: thankful to him for being the person to introduce me to the incredible woman sitting opposite me as I write this. He showed me that it was okay to let go of him, and that my heart would be safe with her. He gave me the strength and courage to choose this path, and he held my hand as I took the first tentative steps along it. As Jessica and I set off on our new adventure, we’ll remember him fondly as the reason we’re together.

Gooodbye, J. Thank you for the memories.