Flat As a Pancake #dailyinspo365

It’s only Day 1 and already the battery has gone dead. Instead of feeling all light and airy, I’m as flat as a pancake. 

Half way through day one and a dead head/sluggish bod combo are nailing me to the floor. My legs feel leaden, my bones are aching. One minute my head is as light as a feather, the next it’s a ton weight on my neck. If this is how I feel and I haven’t yet reached the end of the first day, how the hell am I going to last one full month?

I’m constantly trying to foist cups of caffeine on my mother so that I can do some deep inhaling of the fragrant scent of fresh ground, or china leaves. Without the usual toxic levels of caffeine and sugar my energy has slumped to an all time low, my concentration levels have flatlined, and I’ve a headache on the brew that I know is gonna be a killer.

Restless and lacking any kind of focus, I’ve turned into the human incarnation of the fidget spinner. I’m not down when I’m back up again, moving things from there to here, and schlepping around looking for inane things to do to pass the time because work simply isn’t happening right now.

In an apparent act of self-kindness, I’ve made myself some gently perfumed Bee Kind tea from Neal’s Yard. On any other day this would be a welcome treat, but today, as my body slowly expunges all known traces of toxicity, it’s redolent of drinking slightly lukewarm perfume, albeit one that’s floral and organic.

Be that as it may, I find myself squeezing the last honeyed drops from my little white teapot. Anything to create the illusion of drinking ‘real tea’.  However much it gnaws away inside, I know this feeling is only transient. In a few days it’ll be gone, along with the bloating, the cravings for stodge, and the quiet screams for sugar. It will, won’t it?

I’m not hungry as such. It’s the lack of ‘chewing’ that’s posing something of a challenge.

Is it all in my head? I really don’t know. Truth be told it’s currently all in my mouth as I crave something to get my teeth into. Activated nuts are allowed in small doses so when my chomping on the bit got so bad that I was in danger of it becoming a permanent thing, I smugly reached for my little pouch of Himalayan Salted Almonds. Six months out of date almonds! What’s six months to a woman desperate for something to bite down on, or for a morsel to chew.

A small handful kept the toothy wolves from the cupboard door so to speak.

As for the juices themselves?

Thus far, I’ve imbibed five, consuming a total of 450 cals. This excludes the 100 odd cals I consumed by way of the almonds. Tummy rumbling much?

The morning kicked off as usual with a Synergy Pro-Argi drink. This was followed by step one of the cleanse in the form of Water + activated Charcoal. It has a little lemony kick with a floral aftertaste courtesy of the addition of lavender. This was quickly followed by a bottle of the Cacao Nut Milk, which while it looks more chocolatey than it tastes, is pleasantly satisfying nonetheless. The Easy Green and Clean Carrot drinks are juicery par for the course; the former is a not unpleasant green juice while the latter is a standard ginger zinger albeit of bitesize proportions.

Fifth in line is an odious concoction called Lean Green. It’s made predominantly from vegetables, meaning it has that sharp, almost ‘green’ taste otherwise known in my book as pondweed. Made from ginger, lemon, romaine, cucumber, kale, spinach and celery – it’s the celery that’s the bugger – it lacks the light sweetness of Easy Green, and is an altogether more difficult drink. The proof of the pudding is in the fact that there is still about one fifth of it left in the bottle. If you do ever indulge in a PRESS VC, hold your nose for this baby.

With five hours to go before I throw myself into bed, I’ve the Clean Beet, Vanilla Nut milk and Water + Blue Spirulina drinks to go. Be still my beating heart! In desperation, I’m currently chewing the knob of a carrot, tongue firmly in cheek.

I know the worst is yet to come. Cooking and serving my mother’s dinner, not to mention the post-dinner clear up, which is foodie dynamite for the Queen of Pickers. It’s going to take all my inner stubborn mare not to bow to the Devil’s call – the fresh vegetables, dauphinoise potatoes (it’s the sauce, not the spuds that’s on my radar), and leftover flakes of honey roast salmon. Oh God, I’m already salivating. Be still my hungry heart!

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

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VC Day – PRESS_Preview #dailyinspo365

As VC-Day approaches, I don my needs-must hat, pump up my long deflated bravado, and neck as much caffeine as is physically possible in one day!

Tomorrow is VC-Day! Yes folks. After months of the down three, up five, I’m taking a cavernous plunge into the world of hardcore cleanse.

To bring an end to the long running ‘plateau show’, it was necessary for me to make peace with myself. This involved acceptance that the ‘eat today, gone tomorrow’ policy of yesteryear which had served me so well for so long, had failed to transition with me into ‘middle earth’.

Yes scores of hours – and euros – spent on personal training have given me a six-pack – somewhere, I can feel it, I swear – and while I have developed well-honed, chunky munky arms, I’ve struggled to drop a full dress size. There’s only so much sweat I’m prepared to ooze without seeing any ‘real results’. Only so much money I’m prepared to invest when there’s little or no return.

Enough is enough. It’s time to bite the bullet and go full weightloss commando. The time is now for ‘diet delivered to your door’.

‘We understand that asking you to give up caffeine for a month probably isn’t realistic so we recommend cutting down and having a maximum of one or two cups a day’ … ahahahahahaha-ha

As a men-o-pauser, I’ve been fighting the Battle of the Bulge for nigh on two years. I’ve tried countless iterations of vegan, vegetarian, and freshairian, all to no avail. Following various restricted diets – carb free, low carb, high fat, eleven day, suck your thumb, you get the gist – initially with some success, ultimately proved frustrating. No sooner would I lose three or four pounds than I’d hit the wall as they say. Trust me when I tell you that nothing is more of a motivation mauler than the needle sticking in the groove.

So here I am, on VC-eve, driven by desperation, frustration, and determination in equal measure.

“Drinking water to stay thin or is it to purify?”

“What does VC stand for,” I hear you cry – you are crying aren’t you, probably with laughter?

VC stands for Virgin Cleanse. Yerp. Tomorrow I will offer myself up on the altar of PRESS London when I lose my cleanse virginity to their V-Juice plan: “the perfect introduction to cleansing, sweet and simple”.

What does it entail? For their chosen number of days, not exceeding five, the virgin cleansee downs a bevvy of nutrient-packed bevvies including juices, nut milks, and waters. The eight cold-pressed juice and drinks daily diet consists of,

  • Activated Charcoal Water (stop sniggering)
  • Cacao Leche Nut Milk
  • Easy Green Juice
  • Clean Carrot Juice
  • Lean Green Juice
  • Beet Juice
  • Vanilla Leche Nut Milk
  • Blue Spirulina Water

The liquid-only diet can, in cases of complete desperation, be supplemented with a few activated nuts or a little raw veg. Neither caffeine nor alcohol are allowed, but herbal tea is permitted and water consumption is encouraged. (Brings to mind those lyrics from the MSP track You Stole the Sun from my Heart, “drinking water to stay thin or is it to purify?”

So dear people, this will be my dietary life for the next two days. I’ll probably be gnawing my knuckles by tomorrow night, but only time will tell.

Oh, and just because I’m a complete all or nothing masochist, the VC is only a precursor to the big event. Yes folks, for the next month, you’ll get to join me while I glug and slug my way through the PRESS Fab-In-4 four week diet plan, more of which anon.

Tune in next time when I’ll be in the throes of cold turkey in the hope of not just finally ridding myself of my caffeine/sugar/gluten/solid food addiction, but of shedding some excess Derv. Fingers crossed, may the force be with me.

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Driving me to Distraction #dailyinspo365

A post in which I reflect upon being told that contrary to popular opinion, you are indeed too old to learn!

“You’re never too old” or so the saying goes. Well, not according to my now ex-driving instructor. It would seem that I am of an age when it is nigh on impossible for this old dog to learn new tricks.

Iho there is an age when we must accept that we are too old to learn, and I’ve reached it. This sagacious pronouncement came after a particularly traumatic second driving lesson in which I was shouted at, ridiculed, and had my hand slapped. Distressed much? Just a jot! Confidence battered to within an inch of its life? Pretty much.

To explain.

I don’t particularly want to learn how to drive, I need to. While the youthful enthusiasm I had for driving has long since dissipated, I’m not exactly apathetic. It doesn’t bother me one way or another. My approach is practical rather than exuberant, that ship has long since sailed.

To bring you up to speed, I had driving lessons many moons ago. I wasn’t bad, had smooth clutch control, could easily handle a three point turn, and didn’t break a sweat negotiating hill starts. However, when my second licence expired meaning I had to apply for the test, I jacked it in, mainly because I felt that not having a car to practice in, I was at a serious disadvantage.

Fast forward seventeen years.

My parents are now quite elderly and need to be ferried here, there and so on. The taxi thing is becoming a pain – not just in terms of the financial implications, but also because one is reliant both on their availability and punctuality.

Ipso facto, it’s time to take the bull by the wheel and steer my way into a less costly state of self-reliance. The theory behind taking some initial lessons in West Cork was that it would be calmer and quieter hopefully leading to a relaxed me and thus a positive driving experience. I’ve been the front seat passenger in two bad collisions – one head on – so my nerves being a little bit shot, it was thought best to ease me gently back into driving in an area noted for its super-slow pace and relaxed attitude.

Cue drivezilla.

Of the three local driving instructors that were recommended to me, only the third was available during my stay. I booked an initial lesson for the Tuesday, and while there were some signs that I was potentially putting myself into the hands of not the most patient person on the planet, nonetheless as it went quite well, I thought “ok, let’s go for seconds”.

In hindsight, all the early signs of drivezilla were there during that first lesson, but,while the lack of a calm, professional approach ie the shouting, the leg grabbing and the sighing, did dent my already weak as water confidence, I put it down to mea culpa and promised myself it’d be better the next time.

While I am “of a certain age” (her words, not mine), I like to think that my memory is still pretty sharp and from what I can recall of my original lessons, I do remember the order in which I was taught certain things.

Things like checking the mirror and that the gears were in neutral, going though the various hand positions for changing gears, applying clutch/brake to stop, and going up and down between first and second gears were all gone through in detail. Only then was I encouraged to take my first tentative steps towards driving on a quiet road, never exceeding 30 m.p.h. as it was a built up area.

Follow your instinct.

You know don’t you, when something doesn’t gel. When you don’t click with someone. It’s not right at ‘my ripe age’ to feel afraid of someone, or to be stressed going into any kind of a lesson. So when my heart began beating rapidly at 11.55pm today I should have made up some excuse, given the instructor half the agreed fee and beat a hasty retreat to the terrace of the hotel to indulge in some sun and serenity.

I should have followed my instincts. Instead I went forward, where even the fearless fear to tread and ladies and gentlemen, it was an unmitigated disaster. I won’t bore you with the details but riddle me this! When you’re asked to clutch/brake when in third gear, and thereafter you’re told to find the bite and continue without any mention being made of changing back into first, all hell will break loose, yes?

Well, that was the tipping point. Was it too much to expect to be guided through every stage of the drive with patience and encouragement? Instead I was expected to drive in third and fourth gears on both major and narrow, winding roads having gone up and down through the gears not more than twice during the first lesson. Is it me? Am I a bit dim?

With the tension rising up through my arms and a headache pounding on the door, I pulled the car over, and said “that’s it, no more, you take over”. There is only so much abuse – physical and verbal, ridicule and rubbishing I’m prepared to put up with from anyone. Angry screaming is not conducive to calm driving. Neither is expecting the learner to fill in the blanks.

To drive or not to drive that is the question.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, except when it comes to an abusive teacher. Her final words to me were, “If you DO decide to continue, you’ll come to realise after a time that it’d probably be best if you go for an automatic car”.

So, the decision that now lies before me is whether or not to continue.

After what I’d previously been through, it took every ounce of my strength to once again sit behind a wheel. Now what? Is this a ‘forever fear’ or was I just unlucky? Only time and another attempt will tell. But when that’ll be, well, that’ll require a bit more inner strength than I’ve got in the tank just now.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

The Menopause Manual p1 #dailyinspo365

The menopause journey. With no clear start or end point, odd diversions, and an estimated time of arrival that can span years, menopause is certainly a trip, and then some, that requires some turn-by-turn directions.

Nobody tells you what the menopause is like, or how bad it is.

My mum never discussed it. The reasons for that were probably twofold. One, she is of a generation that invariably struggled with ‘taboo subjects’, often finding broaching them embarrassing, impolite even. Two, she never went through the menopause, having had to undergo an hysterectomy in her late 40s. Today, mum’s a lot more relaxed about discussing certain topics, gynaecological and sexual included. However, as she’s clueless in the menopausal department, there’s little point in broaching the subject with her, as it’s an experience about which she remains oblivious. Lucky her!

Experience – did I just call the menopause ‘an experience’? Well, what do you call it? A condition, a situation, a phase, a bloody pain in the arse? It’s not an illness, although many women suffer excruciatingly from its symptoms and side-effects.

menopause
noun
the ceasing of menstruation.
  • the period (haha, lexicographer’s comic irony) – in a woman’s life (typically between the ages of 45 and 50) when menstruation ceases.

Anyway, getting back to the point, rarely are women told in graphic widescreen, dolby surround sound detail about the menopause. A high level overview, as they say, being the best we can hope for. Why? Probably because we women are still too embarrassed to a) admit that we’ve arrived at the ‘biological downturn’ commonly referred to as ‘change of life’, and b) discuss the finer details of hot and cold running sweat fountains and the resultant boggy bra and very public perspiration patches, middle-aged acne, and morphing into Fatzilla, queen of the middle-aged spread.

While many arrive unexpectedly at the menopause – “Surprise, surprise. Hello, it’s me, Men O’ Pause. I’m here to change your life completely, let’s get this party started!”it’s also fair to say that most of us will reach that point with little or no clue of what’s about to happen to us.

Now don’t get me wrong, we women know the basics, no need to be ‘splaining us thank you. The problem is that no-one talks openly about the menopause, so pre-Perimeno (and when did that become a thing?) most of us truly don’t know how bad it is, or rather will be.

So, how bad is it then?

For some, lack of sleep is the worst. Annoyingly, it doesn’t necessarily come with the onset of menopause. Instead, sleep disruption, like a spot on the face of hopeful innocence, can pop up at a time of its own malevolent choosing. Poor sleep mixed with night-sweats is a fate you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Not that I know first hand per se, but I do suffer from random bouts of insomnia and have borne the brunt of hot flushes, and they ladies, and gentlemen – if there are any of you actually reading this – are no bloody picnic!

Hot Flushes: Menopausal Woman’s Bane – Sounds like, giddy middle-aged embarrassment; Feels like, being slathered in molten lava from the décolletage up to the crown of one’s head.

Seriously, no words can describe the combination of shock, confusion, and heat that hit you the first time you have a hot flush. It’s like being ducked into and held down in boiling water for a minute plus, and then left dripping in rivers of rapidly cooling hot sweat, cue the shivers, while your armpits are like two perspiration filled paddling pools cosseted within the sleeves of your now seriously soggy jumper/blouse/tee-shirt.

Anyone who has experienced a heatwave, sat at length on a packed bus/tram/train on a hot Summer’s evening, run for more than 30 minutes, or been cooked in an oven at 180 degrees, will know only too well that the afterglow soon turns to ice cold sog.

Rank isn’t it, burning up until you think you are internally combusting and then having to sit or stand around in clothes wet with cold sweat? Now, times that x five and instead of a running track or bus, place yourself sitting in the middle of a business meeting, surrounded by a few colleagues, mainly men.

It’s your turn to offer up some suggestions on an upcoming project but … oh dear. You’re overcome by a wave of heat of equatorial proportions, beads of sweat have broken out on your brow (oh Jesus, can they see them?) and the floodgates have opened up under your clothes. Your train of thought has run out the door and in a two-fingered salute to your now drenched upper torso and reputation, your tongue is as dry as a camel’s hoof.

That’s a hot flush for you.

The big problem with flushes is they can happen any time, any place, and in any situation, and they recur with irregular frequency. Five in a row can be followed by an hour’s downtime before being followed by a series of anything up to ten in quick succession. I sat crying on the sofa one night as I experienced flush after flush after flush, again and again until I could take no more, ran upstairs and jumped into the shower.

Having broken all possible records by having eleven in forty minutes, I spent most of the following day on Google search seeking remedies (HRT had already been ruled out – that’s for another post). Finally, I found the saviour of my menopausal world – Sage – bought a bottle of Menosan in the chemist, and never looked back. For the next six months, the Sage drops eradicated all traces of hot flushes, after which they started come and go intermittently, a shadow of their former selves. Certainly nothing of the epic proportion I’d previously experienced.

True story – I actually have the ability to bring on a hot flush. If I focus really hard, I can make myself so hot that I can draw on a flush. Another tip – embarrassment is a magnet for hot flushes, so if you think you’re going to feel a bit bothered in a public situation, try to calm yourself (Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a great calmer). Hopefully you’ll fend off the flush.

When I started writing this post, I didn’t envisage going through the granular ins and outs of the menopause but as the late Magnus Magnusson used to say, “I’ve started so I’ll finish”. But not today

To recap. Hot flushes are like flashes of feeling incinerated from the boobs upwards. They last about one minute during which you’ll be drenched in sweat and your concentration temporarily wiped out. They can occur once, twice, thrice, multiple times per hour. Every hour. 24×7. They can’t be stopped by iron will or fresh air.

They can be stopped by HRT if you can tolerate it, or more holistically by taking Sage tablets or drops. You’ll pick up sage in its various forms in pharmacies and health shops. Sage won’t eradicate flushes completely but it will minimise the impact. If there are other remedies, I’m unaware of them.

You’ll still suffer from over-heating particularly during exercise including walking. You’ll need to prep for sweat in places it never was before. Keeping a supply of tissues in your pockets helps. Always keep travel deodorant in your bag. And, if travelling, bring a spare top.

You’ve probably got the gist of hot flushes by now but don’t run away, there’s plenty more crapola where that came from.

We’ll see you back here for the Menopause Manual p2. You never know, if some feminist movie producer happens upon my blog we could end up with Menopause Da Movie! Now, unlike the meno, wouldn’t that be fun!!

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Simply Bee #dailyinspo365

Bees have always held a childlike fascination for me.

It’s their furriness, and those bright neon yellow stripes, and the constant bouncing around and grappling with flowers. The cuteness!!

It’s always worth hitting the pause button ‘to stop and stare’. To immerse oneself in the deep, wondrous pleasure to be had in watching a bee flitting from flower to flower before coming to land on a nearby purple patch, expanse of echinacea, or flock of fuchsia. Becoming ever more rare, these joyous occurrences should be savoured, each and every moment of them.

When a boisterous and buzzy bumble got stuck into a lunch of lavender today, I could not but be enthralled. This chubby little ball of coloured fluff hovered and capered, buzzed and bumped, foraged and probed.

He suckled and excavated a myriad floral honey pots, and when his nectary need was more than sated, flew off to another world, another floral universe.

So, when is a bee not a bee? When it’s a wasp. Hymenoptera Apocrita Vespidae – are neither bee nor ant. While the vast majority of wasps have no hand, act or part in pollination, a few species can effectively transport pollen and pollinate several plant species. Considered pests, especially in late Summer when they down tools and come a lookin’ for high GI sugary foods wasps will, like fraudsters, sting anyone that gets too close to them.

I’d take a bee over a wasp any day of the week, wouldn’t you?

🚨

Late addition. I’ve just come across this on Twitter thanks to Luke Turner of tQ. Wolfgang Buttress is showing the most sublime installation at the Greenpeace area at Glastonbury. If you’re there, please support art, the bees, and the environment by connecting with this immersive multi-sensory experience. If like me, you can only watch from afar, here’s a beautiful video soundtracked by the most delicious pastorale. The sculpture itself is accompanied by soundscapes by BE along with contributions by Kelly Lee Owens, Daniel Avery, Camille Christel , Spiritualized, and Coldcut. 🙏

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Valley of the Squinting Windows #dailyinspo365

Brinsley MacNamara’s take-down of Irish small-town life and human nature in general is sadly still as pertinent today as as it was when it was written.

A century on, Irish windows still squint, and often in both directions.

Valley of the Squinting Windows has become a stock-phrase implying nosey neighbours twitching their curtains, usually in small communities. In MacNamara’s fictional village of Garradrimna, almost everyone is beastly: begrudging, hypocritical, mean-spirited, malicious even.

We have a serious dose of the squints in our boutique cul-de-sac, our very own private Garradrimna –  without the privacy. Curtain twitching and window peering abound in equal measure.

The strange thing is, that the people who think nothing of staring into neighbouring windows have not just built ‘fortresses’ of trees, bushes and porches around the perimeter of their own gardens, their windows are perma-clad with net curtains, blinds, and super-thick drapes. No chance of a cheeky gawk there, I can tell you!

They’re also the very people who in the past have baulked at anyone espying their less than exciting daily grind – not the mine is any more exciting mind. Cue several hastily planted bushes and a fence being plonked on top of a party wall at 7am, without so much as a by-your-leave.

If I’m honest, I’m probably one of the least observant people you’ll ever meet. Apart from a cursory sweeping glance when I go outside to perform mundanities like putting out or taking in the washing, I rarely look up at other people’s houses or windows for that matter.

I look straight ahead when I walk, my mind usually in some bubble of thought or planning. I rarely gawp or gape at other people’s houses unless checking out their flower garden or something stand-out catches my eye.

The truth is, I have little or no interest. I’ve enough to be getting on with thanks.

Others, however, obviously have less mental processing or daily busy-ness to keep their thoughts occupied and so throwing the side-eye, casting a peripheral sweep, or simply just playing at ‘to stop and stare’ has become part and parcel of their daily routine.

A few weeks ago, I pulled back our downstairs living room curtains, situated at the rear of the house facing onto a tree-lined, fenced garden, only for my eye to be drawn upwards to a neighbouring bedroom window, wherein the man of the house was standing half-hidden by a curtain, staring down at me. He continued to do so until he realised I’d seen him, when he quickly disappeared with a flurry of vanilla material.

Mind you, ogling and nosing is par for the course with this guy. In fact, I’d go so far as to call him a voyeur, and I don’t so lightly. I don’t know how many times I’ve caught this man peeping through his bathroom window at my sunbathing self, or gone out to do something at the line only for him to magically pop up at his wall, like some geriatric jack-in-the-box, by the way fiddling with his green bin whilst peering through the cracks in the bushes.

Unfortunately for us, his house overlooks ours. Luckily for him, ours doesn’t overlook his (our houses are  perpendicular to each other).

And it’s not just him invoking Nosey Parker.

We have our resident ‘stop and stare’ merchant. Armed with the pre-requisites – baby in a buggy plus additional roaming toddler for that extra straying power – she is quite adept at scaling driveways, mounting pop-up surveillance, and scoping out areas you’d never think possible! A one-women wonder of espionage, she’d give M16 a run for their money.

Yesterday evening, whilst sitting on my bed chatting with a client, I turned around to find another one of the neighbours staring up at me while walking past our house. Did they wave, nod, smile, or salute? Did they heck! They did the same thing this morning. I was searching my mother’s dressing table for something, and pulled back the curtain to throw some light on the subject only to find them stood at their shed staring up at me. Hence the Valley of the SQ springing to mind.

Funny thing is that people seem to think it’s okay for them to stare in at others, but not ok for others to look out at them.

For instance, the rent-a-spy buggy lady’s house is a closed shop, in a permanent state of ‘dropped drawers’ and closed blinds. Similarly, there’s the young man whose house is in a constant state of shutdown; blinds drawn, curtains closed (except for the three inches that allow for peeping out – one rule for one etc), windows opened to a minimum, completely surrounded by high trees and bushes.

A couple of years ago, Mum, who as you know has dementia, was sitting in the spare room looking out the window. She used to do this not just out of boredom and loneliness but primarily because she was waiting for me to come home. Pre-retirement, pre-dementia mum was always too active and occupied to bother with looking out windows or the comings and goings of our small community.

The particular young man in question – who I might point out, never speaks or says hello to anyone – came down the road, obviously caught some motion out of the corner of his eye, and walked up to our gate. He stood staring up at my octogenarian mother until she got up and walked away.

Stood staring at an old woman looking out of her own window. Doing no harm to anyone. Such a lack of charity and humanity is sad in one so young don’t you think?

Of course, the irony of a curtain-twitcher taking issue with an elderly woman sitting looking out her window was doubtless lost on him.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The Valley of the Squinting Windows is alive and kicking in our village community. Sadly, human nature doesn’t change!

Derv

PS I’m dedicating the Smith’s This Charming Man to my devoted voyeur. If only he could show the same  dedication by cutting back the tree that’s now grown over five feet into our garden.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Nowhere to Turn #dailyinspo365

Where do you turn when you’ve nowhere to turn? When the person or persons you always turned to in times of strife, trouble, or woe, are for whatever reason, no longer there.

Very few of us have multiple people to whom we can turn in times of woe. Yes, some are lucky enough to have large families, others a large cohort of friends. But in the main, each of us has an average of four close friends, with that number dwindling after the age of 40.

What happens though when life, marriage, divorce, job opportunities, fallings out, illness and even death wipe out that small tight-knit group? Where do we go for comfort, to whom can we turn for solace?

If like me, circumstances (and there’s been a lot of them ‘lil critters) have bowled out those few remaining post-young adult period friendships, your options are limited.

Faced with the choice of getting out there – solo – and seeking out new friends, or bedding down and forging even closer ties with female relatives, it’s a rock and hard place no matter how you twist it.

Me? Well, I stuck my neck out and went for rock.

I did the salsa class (and got put into the line with the guys), the book clubs (I was the youngest member to join all three), the interior design class (I was the only person not in a pair), the concerts (people think you’re weird if you strike up random conversations with them), and a myriad exercise classes (note to self – people don’t go to exercise classes to make friends). Several false starts, partial lift-offs and damp squibs later, led me to abandon option A and settle down for my own private mumsnet, tea and biscuits optional.

See, I’m doing it again. Trying to make light of a grave situation.

For years now I’ve had two close allies in my life. Both women – strong, independent, intelligent, feisty, knowledgeable, worldly, stubborn, go-ahead, supportive, loyal; you get the gist. But today, I found myself alone. Alone with my bad news and emotional melodrama.

Nowhere to turn. No-one to turn to. Bit like Eleanor Rigby, staring out the window, outdoor face put safely into a jar for public and special occasions.

Today I needed to talk to someone, to offload, but there was no-one. Absolutely no-one, in a world full of people. How strange is that?

Where do you turn when you’ve nowhere to turn, and no-one to turn to?

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

The Disappeared #dailyinspo365

The world we live in is full of ‘the disappeared’. What spurs people to walk away from their lives, and to where do they go?

These are questions I often find myself turning over in my head, but as yet, they remain unanswered!

Every day several thousand people ‘disappear’. I’m not talking about those who are abducted, or go on the run out of fear for their lives, or those poor lost souls who wander away in a demented state.

I’m referring to those who walk out the door of one life and, having shut it firmly behind them, step willingly through another door into a new life.

A clean sheet, blank canvas, and artistic licence with no expiry date.

Where they go and why, what happens to them and with whom, is simply a mystery, which they very obviously want it to be one. Or do they?

Do they leave without a trace because they wish never to be found, or do they leave in the somewhat foolish or naive hope that someone, a loved one most like, will play detective and go looking for them? I don’t know. We’ll never know, because in the main, these ‘disappeared’ are rarely found.

They seldom resurface and even when they do, it’s often several years later, and with an unwillingness to impart any detail on those ‘missing years’.

We have a ‘disappeared’ in our family. They walked out the door at 5am one morning and have never been seen or heard of since. Oh, there have been a couple of supposed sightings, and a few scraps of hearsay, but nothing concrete. Nothing definite to go on, no confirmed sightings, nothing in the official records, no communications, hints, or clues.

I didn’t know them. I wouldn’t know them now if they were to pitch up in front of me. But every now and then I wonder where they are. If they are alive or dead, happy or sad, fulfilled or still dreaming, well off or impoverished, surrounded by loved ones or sad and alone.

I, we don’t know, and never will, because there is simply no trace of this person, anywhere. No record or mention of their name in any database or medium spanning four decades.

There are/were several worrying factors about this person’s disappearance: their young age; the fact that they left without taking any clothes, money or personal effects; the fact that they never contacted or sought to contact any members of their immediate family since they left home. This was a legal minor with few friends, no valid paperwork or identification, and no employment.

Worse, they had little or no experience of ‘the world’.

Why they left, where they went, where they lived and with whom, how or if they survived, and where they are now, are all questions that remain unanswered. Yet, they’re more than likely out there somewhere, under some name, living a life behind invisible walls in a parallel universe.

In this iteration of the universe, they’re just another name on a missing person’s list; another one of the disappeared.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

Much Ado About Nothing #dailyinspo365

There’s a new philosophy in that town called Trend, and it’s called ‘How to do Nothing’.

That’s right folks, the latest cult top-tip to live your best life and “recover a more humane world in an accelerating age of commodification” is, to do nothing.

After years of being told to get our high-achieving energiser bunny on, we’re now being blitzed with a library of books chock-full of life-size hints spawned by self-appointed, self-help gurus on how to reverse all those boom-time, life-size hints that we were assured – in Dolby Surround Sound – would colour our otherwise wishy-washy vanilla lives.

Now, instead of having it all, doing it all, leaning-in to the point of collapse, and burning our three wick super-size Jo Malone candles at both ends in the hope of reaching twenty-first century super woman status, we’re being told by a new gaggle of so-called ‘experts’ too young to worry about Botox, to order arms and ‘go out into the natural world’.

Gee, why did I never think of that?

‘How to do Nothing’ the latest on-trend best-seller manual-for-life, was written by a young lady – she’s 33 – who ‘wants to give readers permission to be a human, in a body, in a place.’ In the words of Mrs Brown, “that’s nice”.

” … you can make a small decision to just notice things that you haven’t noticed before,” she extols. “You can always do that, no matter where you are, even if they’re not pretty.”

Such pearls of wisdom from one so young!

What have I been doing with my life that I never copped on to getting out into the natural world and noticing stuff? How remiss of me!

You know what? A few days ago I wrote a post about wanting to write a book but being too bowed by insecurity and indecision to have dotted the first ‘i’, and crossed the first ‘t’.

Having read about this latest deluge of self-help books I’m debating whether to join the multi-million dollar fray. After all, I could write one of those books riding a bicycle backwards blindfold.

I’m >33 with a Pandora’s box of life experiences from across the spectrum which if opened wide, would fill the leaves of enough books to max out the new books section of my local bookshop.

Write a book about doing nothing except skiving in the natural world and looking under stones to find wiggly things I mightn’t have yet happened across? No problemo! When do you need it by?

I don’t know about you, but all of these wellness cum self-help trends are beginning to wear a bit thin. Isn’t it time we rolled back to when common sense prevailed and people took a no-nonsense approach to life?

They worked, got outside, ate well, enjoyed the weekends, and kept luxuries and treats to a minimum. Pretty basic really.

And yet here we are, millions of us forking out chunks of our hard earned cash for books, workshops, and weekend retreats to be told to do just that. Buying into clean-eating regimes and paying ‘experts’ to teach us how to ‘live normal healthy lives’?

While I might write the odd post about mindfulness, I’ve yet to write a book giving people permission to be human, or anything else for that matter.

Food for thought though! What do you think?

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

A Dream within a Dream : Words On a Grey Morning

Our world has become a dream within a dream but we will face this, our incubus, together.

Tuesday 21st March, 2017

Outside a cold, unfeeling grey light has settled itself around the landscape. It will rest there, for the next few hours, in a non-committal way, showing no signs of the day to come. Like an heartless anaemia, it drains all colour and life to create a world of half-shadows, settles a stillness on the chittering giving it a spectral air.

Inside too is grey despite the wan disinterested glow from the high wattage bulb. It’s almost as if the pre-dawn’s grizzled aspect has by some form of underhand osmosis, crept its murky way into my world. Blurring, confusing, bleaching, bewildering.

Grey /grei/adjective – of a colour indeterminate between black and white , as of ashes or lead – silver, pearly, smoky; silver, hoary; ashen, wan, sickly, bloodless, drawn, deathly, ghostly – without interest or character, dull and nondescript: noun – grey colour or pigment, “dirty indeterminate tones of grey”: verb – become grey with age

I have tried for too long now to fictionalise this more than factual storyline. Pushed it around like a piece of gristle on a cold plate. Uncanny then that reality bites during this cold and hoary hour which belongs neither to night nor day. I awoke into its uncaring coldness to the harsh reality that, as they say, the hour had cometh. For my world, is indeed fading to grey and at a speed that appears to be accelerating by the week. I am living in a landscape fast losing its colour, in a storyline that has rendered me impotent.  

I am losing her, I am losing her, I am losing her. Right in front of my very eyes, like a rudderless boat drifting out onto a vast lake, its course getting more uncertain, its speed quickening with time. I am within reach, touching distance of a hair’s breadth and yet here I am, grasping at nothing, chasing shadows that cannot be caught. She is here and yet she is not here, or rather like a will o’the wisp, she is here and then she is gone.  

The time has come for me to walk into this fast encompassing twilight and to stand with her, side by side, to take her hand and squeeze it. To let her know, during our more lucent hours, that I am there, I will be there, always, through both seeming and reality. Our world has become a dream within a dream but we will face this, our incubus, together.

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”Edgar Allan Poe

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!