The irony of it !

to pee or not to pee…. in the nappy, on the potty. Now that is what you call proper toilet training……..NOOOOOT

I remember the days well when my girls were only little tots and I would be running around like a blue arse fly, the twins usually going in different directions, while the eldest madam would be busy occupying herself away from both of them, seeking her sanctuary!  I would be double jobbing and multitasking at the rate of speedygonzales, only to find it would all need doing again, at the speed of light.  Going to work (outside of the mad house), to the actual office, with actual adults to communicate with, was often my sanctuary.

My husband and I had a fantastic relationship. By that I mean a fantastic telephone relationship.  We were passing ships in the night you see, him working nights and me working days.  Some times he worked days too, (every six weeks, for six weeks) but he was more than often a grump at night and just wanted to watch t.v after his hard days work.   It was very hard for him, going to work and coming home to a cooked dinner, cooked by me.  Coming home to children who if not in bed, were about to be going to bed, by me, having had their bath, done by , you got it, me.  That of course, was my job, after I got in from work.   Sometimes I just wanted to scream with the tiredness as my ‘shift’ never seemed to have a ‘clocking off’ time.

I would get home from work at 5.30 but hubby dearest didn’t get home from work until 7.30, giving me a good two hours with our delightful off spring, to cook, feed, play, wash and put them to bed before settling down to…….. do the washing, drying, ironing and not to forget studying, as I was also at college, trying to get myself educated.

In those days we did not have mobile phones, just land lines and without fail, my darling hubby would ring me every day from work and tell me he loved me and missed me and would see me later.  When later came, I got the cursory kiss on the cheek,  the ‘i’m starving, what’s for dinner’ and after that he would get all nice and comfy to settle down and watch t.v  !

There was many a time I just couldn’t wait to be in my 50’s, having raised my family and spend some good quality time with my fella, while we happily watched our delightful children stepping into the big  world outside of our house for their own crazy adventures.

Fast forward 28 years………  I don’t work at the moment.   I ‘volunteer’ in a charity shop two days a week ) but that is not work (right?) just a slight hint of sarcasm there!     I still have 2 teenagers at home, so if any of you have teenagers, you can feel my pain!  I do get to spend some quality time with my fella, as he is on a much better shift,  4 days on 4 days off.  Plenty of time for us to do things together, right….. wrong!

Sometimes we are lucky if we get to have lunch together in this hectic mad house of ours.  Yes, the big ones are grown up and don’t live here in the house, but they are never far away…….  One lives around the corner, the other lives a few miles away and another lives in the UK,  but comes home frequently.   Then of course, there is always the mobile phone, and by that I mean social media, messenger,  face time etc.  There is no escaping them, and their requests for ‘help’ and ‘support’, but does it really have to be so often!

This morning I had to take severe action…….. You see,  1 of the teenagers is away with the school on a lovely trip to Prague, so of course, that doesn’t just ‘happen’, things need to be organised, which they were, by yours truly.  The other teenager has gone to visit with an aunt for a few days.  Hubby had a training course to do in work.  Two daughters, with their children  came to visit…… in fact one daughter and her son have been here ‘visiting’ for 2 weeks (in fairness she had been ill and in hospital for nearly a week, while I looked after her wonderful son).  The other daughter came with only two of her children as the other was in school.  She too was wrecked (just as I used to be when she was little)…… as any mother is with 3 small children.  He tales of woe, were very similar to my tales of woe, at her age.  I feel her pain.  But when I was actually ‘living and feeling’ that pain, I couldn’t wait to not be feeling that pain, if you get my drift.   What I am saying is, it doesn’t end, it doesn’t end because, they don’t really leave.  They keep coming back with their children (whom I adore), but sometimes, there are days, when I still want to scream!

Yes I have a nice husband, nice home and nice kids, everything I ever wanted, but is it too much to ask for some peace and quiet in my own house, with no one else in it, just occasionally?   So just as daughter with the two children said she would soon be leaving, I shot a look at the other daughter, waiting for her response that hopefully she too would be leaving….. but no, nothing, not a squeak…..   Children shouting and roaring in the back ground, t.v blaring out BLAZE  for the millionth time this week and my house beginning to look like it had been ransacked by burglars, again for the 100th time this week, washing machine squeeling as it spun it’s best, vibrating as it went, due to its over use no doubt over the last two weeks, and the dark barking at anyone or anything that moved, as he too, appeared to be going mad with the constant flow of people, big and small, in and out, up and down stairs, doors slamming, bickering, food throwing, drink spilling, toast popping……..  What could I do but the only thing left to do, I asserted my rights!!!!

‘Ok, Ok, that is it’ I began.  ‘You go get yourself and himself dressed and head off, its time now you went back to your own house and left me in peace.  I have work to do and just cannot do it with anyone in the house.  I need to hear nothing…. no  thing….. .  No children, no chatter, no t.v, nothing  I want to hear silence, I want to hear my thoughts, I want to get on with my housework, in peace, just me and the dog, in the house, doing some work, or doing nothing, if I so choose, but whatever I choose, I want to do it without you being here!    It’s a beautiful day, maybe for a walk, or go to the park but whatever,  spit spot,  off you go’!!  I finally blurted out, trying to keep my composure before the top of  my head actually did blow off!

I wouldn’t change any of them for the world, but sometimes all a girl wants to do, is to be able to to get ‘stuck in’ even if it means ‘chucking them out’.  I must let you know a great deal was in fact achieved today and the amount of rubbish I ‘chucked out’ by getting stuck in was amazing and made me feel good.  I don’t imagine that is how Cinderella felt on a daily basis, but for this Cinderella, today was a good day!

Tonight, it is just my husband and me in the house.  I cannot remember the last time it was just the two of us at night in the house.  What a treat!  To celebrate we treated ourselves to a chinese take away and himself supping on a can of lager to wash it down.  When he was finished, off with his plate he went, to the direction of the sink and duly plonked it there, BESIDE the sink for the sink fairy to wash it, while he retreated to the sitting room, yes, you got it, to watch t.v!      I eventually went in to join him, as  I have had a rather hectic day, cleaning and sorting and chucking out, only to find him blissfully snoring in the chair!

I wonder what I will be doing in another 28 years from now!

 

 

 

A friend in need is a friend in deed -Deeds not words

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I was at a meeting today,  with 2 other women and we were discussing and talking about people with Autism and how best to support them.  During the conversation it inevitably came up, not only about their potential and abilities, but also their rights.  ‘Rights’ are a thing many of us take for granted or indeed shout about, if we feel are being violated.  We use our voice, we march, we demonstrate one way or another, usually without fear, to exercise our right to ‘freedom of speech’ and to get things done.

A person with an intellectual disability, often, may not have that voice to exercise their  right to ‘freedom of speech’.  Some may not even know or be aware of their rights, and therefore need someone to ‘stand up for them’ and be their voice.  Again, we can do this without fear of repercussions.   It may take a long fight to ultimately get whatever it is we are seeking for the ‘person’, and  we may not get what we want for them at all, but we can try, and we can fight, and we can shout and be heard, even if it falls on deaf ears.

Today is the 100 year anniversary of the suffragettes victory in allowing women in Britain  the right to vote.  There were, however, conditions in that the women must be over the age of 30 to vote and well educated.  Women were not however, treated equally to men and didn’t enjoy the same rights across the board.    Thankfully, a lot has changed in that 100 years.  We have more equal voting laws, we have better discriminatory laws. Here in Ireland, we were the first country, in the world, to legalise  same sex marriage.    We don’t send women and children to the work houses.  Women, whether married or not can now work.  Up until 1973 in Ireland, married women were not allowed to work!  Children have more opportunities to go to third level education, regardless of social class or status.  Yes we certainly have come a long way since Emmeline Pankhurst chained herself to the railings, seeking rights for women, or since Emily Davison, threw herself under the Kings horse for the cause.  Emily was certainly dedicated to Pankhurst’s motto of ‘Deeds not Words’ and ultimately gave her life.

This is the the only thing that remains true, 100 years on and perhaps 1,000 years on is that  motto,  ‘Deeds not words’.  The old adage of ‘Actions speak louder than words’, whether it is a friend in need or a person who does not or cannot use their voice, don’t we have a duty advocate and demonstrate on their behalf?   By doing good deeds for the greater good, by standing by and standing up for our rights, for our fellow man, woman and child, we are honouring and continuing what those suffragettes started.  Don’t we owe it to them, to ourselves and to those who cannot speak for themselves, the right to enjoy the same rights of their fellow human being?  Like British rail, we have come along way, but still have a way to go.

I salute the bravery and tenacity of the suffragettes and I feel angry at what they had to suffer and endure in their world 100 years ago.  I thank God that I didn’t live in that world.  I shall raise a glass tonight to those women, for daring to do ‘deeds’ for all women so that they may enjoy, not just the right to vote, but for equal rights across the board.  It is now our generation of women and men who must continue to do ‘deeds’ in order to fight for the rights of any person unable to fight for their own.

Let’s not  forget  vera twomey, our own ‘suffragette’ seeking the right for her child to receive medical cannabis to improve her quality of life.  To make a difference, it starts with one voice…….. make your voice count.

Happy 100 year anniversary!

 

All in a days work?

The 9 to 5 or the 24/7 ? when do we really clock off? When is it time for a new direction?

 

 

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I never really knew what I wanted to ‘be’ when I left school and in my day, girls were really just geared to be secretaries or housewives.  There is nothing wrong with either and I have indeed, been both.  All I knew, way back then, is that I wanted to be ‘something’ and I wanted the ‘something’ to make me feel good about what I was doing, and to do what I was ‘doing’ well.

I left school at 16 because I was offered a job in an office.  I  and another girl, were recommended by our school principal, to a local plumbing contractor, as  ‘good candidates’ for the position.   After our interviews, I was offered the job and took it with both hands.  I hadn’t even had my exam results (Inter-Cert) so I figured, I must be good, as he offered me the job on my merit, rather than my qualifications.  This, indeed, made me feel good.  The year was 1981 and lots of people left school at 16 to go to work.  It wasn’t really a big deal.

I found the job quite lonely and even boring sometimes as it was just me in the office, while the boss and his apprentice were out fulfilling contracts.  I was there to answer the phone, type any letters and send out the invoices.  I was even sent to his accountants to learn about v.a.t and all other essentials needed to do the profit and loss accounts.   This wasn’t quite the idea of ‘being something’ that I had envisaged, but I had a sense of pride and took pride in my work.  I also left home and rented a bedsit nearby, so I could easily get to work.  My parents lived 7 miles from the town and our village didn’t have such a thing as a bus service.  I had no option but to move into town to get to my job.

Since that first job, I have had many many jobs both in Ireland and in the UK.  I can honestly say I have ‘drifted’ into most of them.  I first got involved in legal office work (law firm)  when I went  back to live in England, the place of my birth and home until I was 14).  I was 19 years old at this stage, and my best friend, from my childhood, got me a 2 week stint as an audio typist in the firm that she was working in.  Another secretary was going on her annual 2 week holidays and my dear friend recommended me to cover her leave.  I was terrified but excited too.  I had never done audio typing before, but it was work and I needed the money.   I lasted the two weeks and was given a good recommendation by the Solicitor that I worked for.   That was my first taste of working in a law firm and I really enjoyed it.  Years later I went on to not only work as a legal secretary but also to study and practice law.

As an adult, I have  studied a lot and changed direction a lot!  The thing is, I always need to ‘do something’.  In order to ‘fill me up’ I need to feel that I ‘am worth something’.  I need to feel that what ‘I do’ means ‘something’.  I’m not the sort of person that can just go to work and say ‘that will do’.  I have to make sure, whatever it is, that I have done my best at it, because, it matters. Right?  There has to be a value, for ourselves and for the task in hand.  It has to matter, to someone, to something, to us?

Having said that, all that we value comes at a cost and we must determine, at what cost is what we do, worth it?  Whether it be leaving our children with a childminder, to go to work so that we can put that food on the table  or take them away for a holiday.    Some people work so hard and such long hours that  ultimately it could cost them their marriage, quality free time or their mental health.  Recently in the media, what cost had actors and actresses have to pay to get to where they wanted to be?  How many other people in every other profession or industry had a high price to pay, for a days work.   In their working relationships how easy is it to Relay, Shun, Ship what we do and what we don’t want?  Of course, some of these scenarios are quite extreme, but not unlikely or unheard of.

Four years ago I was studying (yet again) for a degree, working part-time in my daughters pre-school and working part time in my salon.  I  was also (and still am) work ing 24/7 as a housewife and mother to my two remaining children at home (my foster children), and when the need arose, looked after my grand children.  Some days I would wake up, with a start, and think ‘where should I be today, the school, the salon, complete the assignment or mind one of the children’.  It was a full on busy, busy time and I was always chasing my tail.  I wasn’t now enjoying any of it and didn’t feel the value in it. I began to feel ‘that will do’ when I did something, and ‘that will do’ attitude began to  make me feel bad, so what else could I do, but change direction. I completed the degree and God knows how but, passed with flying colours.

I finally decided  to take a complete ‘year off’  from working (apart from in the home) and gave myself permission to ‘just be’ a housewife and mother.  I needed to readjust and re evaluate what it was I wanted to do.  Sure I have a new degree, but I need a job to fit in with the family, and in a social care line of work, that would be a challenge as  my other half works shifts, so that had to be factored in.  So for the last 3 years I have worked as a volunteer  twice a week in a charity shop (along side my 24/7 job).  I have been at my (grown up) children’s beck and call and my parents’ beck and call, when needed to step in and help with grandchildren/lifts/hospital appointments etc etc.

What this often translates to is ‘drop what you had planned your service is required’.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, grand children and parents.  I love my life (most of the time)  and I have a certain amount of freedom and flexibility in my life.   There are times though, when being the ‘beck and call girl’ is just too much.  The hours are not defined,  the structure of the day changes, the plans go out of the window and the unwanted feelings of guilt and sometimes resentment can be a burden and a heavy weight to carry.

I look, from time to time, for paid work, only part time, to fit in with the family and the other half’s shifts. It’s that constant need again, to ‘be something’, something other than the ‘beck and call girl’. The trouble with being the ‘beck and call girl’ is that feeling of being  viewed as someone who ‘doesn’t work’.  Charity work is not a ‘proper job, you don’t even get paid’ sort of scenario!  If I did get a ‘proper job’ what would they all do then?  They would of course survive and they too would find a new direction – no one is indispensable and at the end of the day, its all in a days work!

 

 

Time to Escape

The ‘burden’ of responsibility. We all have it – some take it, others shy away from it and some ignore it. Ultimately, however, we cannot escape it, or can we?

Responsibility‘ –   to be in a position of authority over someone and to have a duty to make certain that particular things are done.

There are many definitions and interpretations of the word ‘responsibility’, and no matter what, there comes a time when we all have to stand up an ‘be responsible’ or ‘take responsibility, in any given situation.

Take a ‘typical’ family situation.  It usually consists of at least, one full time parent but often two. Usually one or both go to work, to make the money, to pay the bills, and someone takes care of the children, or at least organises, child care for the children.  With all of that comes responsibility and accountability at some level.  I don’t think anyone will dispute that.  It seems a simple and feasible scenario.  The reality is, that it is not always so straightforward or simple, because we all know, ‘life is simple, its just not easy’ right?  That is because ‘responsibility’ is often a ‘Burden‘.  The definition of Burden :

‘A load, typically a heavy one’

The ‘breadwinner’ carries the burden of providing for the family, even when they may hate their boss, their colleagues, their job.  A parent has the ‘burden’ of teaching, protecting and getting the child ‘world ready’ for when he/she takes his/her independent steps and faces the world on their own.  The child has the ‘burden’ of making their parents feel ‘proud’ of their achievements, as this will equal that the parents were successful in their parenting.  Or is that necessarily so?

We cannot foretell what the future will hold or how ‘children’ turn out, is strictly down to parenting.  Yes it is influenced by it but there is more in the pot than just parenting, in how we all ‘turn out’.  It is a mixture of ingredients such as, personality, peer influences, other significant role modelling, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, self esteem/worth, emotional intelligence to name but a few.

The burden though, is how we ultimately deal and cope with our ‘heavy load’, in all of the different relationships we have with others.  This is why, in my humble opinion, I believe we all need to ‘escape from it’ from time to time.

I had my first ever facial when I was 36 years old.  I had been laid up for a long time, after an operation on my back .   The burden that I felt I was putting on everyone was monumental, especially as I am usually a very active and independent person.    I felt quite useless as a wife and mother, being unable to do simple, usual daily tasks.  For Christmas that year, my other half, bought me a voucher for a facial.   I really didn’t know what to expect, as I had never been inside any sort of beauty salon in my life.

I spent one hour in the salon having my face, cleansed, toned, masked and moisturised to within an inch of its life.  The gentle hands of the therapist, the beautiful aromas of the creams and the gentle sound of the music, sent me off into one of the most relaxed states I had ever felt, EVER.    I didn’t know, having something done to my face, could do that!  I had been laid up for almost a year, slowing getting down and feeling useless, and in just one hour, this therapist worked her magic on me (not just my face) but me, the whole person.  I felt wonderful.  This one hour allowed me to escape my burden of responsibility somehow.  It was like a magic tonic and I literally felt like a new woman coming out of the salon and vowed, like #Arnold Schwarzenegger, that ‘I would be back’.

Not only did I go back, I went back to college and studied beauty therapy, worked as a therapist at a world class spa and then opened my own salon at home, to work around my family’s needs.  Stepping away from my usual day to day burden, for one hour, gave me a new lease of life, LITERALLY!

Yesterday I took my mother away for the night to a beautiful hotel and spa #Lyrah.  She is a very young 70 something but has some health issues, as you would expect for a 70 something.    It’s hard to think of great gifts to get for Christmas presents, so I thought, spending time with her, away from the burden of daily life, would be just what the doctor ordered…… for both of us!  Not only did I feel a sense of duty to spend some quality time with her, as my own day to day life is very hectic with teenagers, grand children and work, I could think of no better present to gift her.

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We began our day with a delicious lunch in a beautiful setting, had a fine dinner, attended a great show – The Three Amigos’, had restful sleep before our sumptuous breakfast.  Next we headed to the spa for a fabulous massage each and a dip in the pool.  Of course we couldn’t leave without yet another helping of their delicious food fare and enjoyed a cream tea, a.k.a pot of tea with warm scone, clotted cream and jam……Stupendous!

The moral of the story is whether it be a day at the spa, a walk on the beach, a catch up with your friends or a run up a mountain.  Take some ‘time’, leave the burden of responsibility for a short period and Take responsibility for your self and your well being.  Spend time, quality time,  with loved ones, that you don’t see all the time and step out of that ‘comfort zone’ of the heavy load.  Remember, one hour, in the hands of that wonderful therapist, turned my life around.  Go on, take the time, you owe it to yourself, to your family and to your soul!

 

Leaving the Baby!

When its time to go back to work!

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Someone I know is returning to work today after being on maternity leave for 9 months.  It is her first child and what a beautiful child she is.  The funny thing is when I read her post about returning to work, my tummy lurched and my heart went out to her.  The first 9 months, spent intensely with your baby, knowing its every move, its every need and its every likes and dislikes.  Even before that, the initial 9 months carrying the child, the bond you have  and the protection you feel for it is intense.

My tummy lurched because it brought back memories of the first day I had to return to work after I had my first child.  In those days we had 4 months maternity leave.  I remember the days leading up to having to ‘leave her’.  Finding a suitable minder.  Meeting the minder and checking out everything I could about her and the service she provided.  I kept looking at my baby, the child I knew everything about, and I couldn’t help but think, that when the day finally came, she would hate me for leaving her.  This made me feel sick, it made me feel sad, it made me feel guilty, it made me hate myself, just a little bit too.

I remember trying to be extra cheerful that morning after very little sleep, as per usual, because she was not a good sleeper anyway, and of course the level of trepidation I was feeling prevented a peaceful slumber!

She loved being in the car, and all the way to the childminders I felt like I was leading her into a false sense of security.  A car ride usually meant shopping or visiting friends and family.  This car ride was leading her into the hands of a perfect stranger (even though I did introduce them prior to this dreaded day).  Not only was I driving her there, I was going to be leaving her there, until her daddy collected her, when he finished work.

I suppose we were lucky in one sense in that I was returning to work on a part time basis in the afternoons.  He on the other hand was working the early shift 6.00 a.m. until 2.00 p.m.  This meant my child would have a total of 2 hours per day with the minder.  That,  for me was 2 hours of torture!

Next to tears, before we arrived, I kept thinking about when she was born and for her daddy, life continued as normal, in that, he still had to go to work, to ‘provide’.  However, he had the luxury of knowing she was a home with me, being well cared for and looked after.    He was used to this ‘going to work’ scenario.  This was a whole new ball game for me.  This new Relay shun ship was filled with all sorts of emotions…. none of it was good!  Yes I could impart all the relevant information to the child minder, her likes, dislikes, nap time, colic, screaming fits, due to colic, tiny naps, due to colic, infacol in the bag, due to colic.  I could not, however, shun my increasing feelings of anxiety and guilt, the nearer I got to her house.  Knowing I had to actually, really leave her there.

Walking up the path, I could barely speak, looking down at my precious bundle in the car seat, and her smiling up at me, not realising she was being tricked and what a bad mummy I was for tricking her!  It was not nanny’s house, or our friends house, this was the ‘Torture House’.   I was startled out of my guilty trance, at the door opening and  the woman greeting us with a very warm welcome, assuring me that everything was going to be just fine.  She could obviously sense my dread.    Again I reiterated all the instructions on how to care for a child.  How to care for my child!  She is different to all the others, she has colic you see!  Do you know how to deal with colic?

Oh my God how am I going to leave and get back in the car and then go to work.   Not the job I had left to go on maternity leave.  Oh no, that had gone into receivership whilst I was on said leave.  This was a new job.  Brand spanking new.  I was the new receptionist.  The FIRST person to greet the clients.  The person to answer the phone.   No pressure!

I squeezed her tightly in my arms. Kissed her a million times, and like any good villan, handed over the precious goods.  I could hear the screams as I was walking down the path, then realised, that was in fact me screaming.  My baby was cooing and blowing raspberries, whilst the childminder, sweetly smiling and reassuring me ‘Everything will be just fine.  Please don’t worry’.  Easy for her to say!

By the time I arrived at my job, not a trace of make up was left on my face from all the crying and wiping away the tears.  Double checking in the mirror to make sure I didn’t have any sign of panda eyes, I proceeded to enter the building, trying to pull myself together, but looked anything BUT professional, with a big red blotchy face!

I was greeted by another girl on reception (older than me, married with children).  She gave me a knowing look of ‘been there, it, done it, got the T shirt!  She took me under her wing and, in between my sobbing, showed me how to use the switchboard.  Luckily for me  (and the company) she was to be with me all day and for the first week, to train me in.  It was  the worst I had EVER felt in my life, that first day.  I felt like I had just shipped and dumped the most precious thing in the world, for what,  the route of all evil – money!

I hated the fact that we needed for me to work too, but the reality is we did need the money to pay the bills.  The other reality is, I actually would NOT have been satisfied to be ‘a full time stay at home mother’.  In that moment, that is all I wanted, but the more she went to the childminder, happy to go and and happy to ‘play’ and interact with the other babies and toddlers, the happier I settled into work.   We both achieved a good work/life balance.

So to all you young mothers, out there, at whatever stage of maternity leave you are on, feeling the trepidation, the guilt and all the other associated feelings, you are not alone, but trust me, and trust yourself in your selection of childcare, all will be fine.  They will be fine.  YOU will be fine!

 

 

Friends and Frenemies and those inbetween

20180122_0619391938561942.pngI must admit, I am a bit fussy when it comes to friends.  i like to suss them out first, you know, just observe, then maybe ‘try them out’  A bit like when I am deciding what colour to paint the wall.  I slap on a few different shades/colours and live with it for a few days.  I then pick which one I feel most happy with.  At first I love it and am so please with myself that I definitely make the right choice.  It goes so well with all of the furnishings in the room.  Except does it,  really go with everything.  Is it fighting with the colours in the rug.  Friends are a bit like that.  What I mean is, for the most part we generally get on very well with our ‘Best Friends’, but there will be some aspects about them and us that we don’t necessarily ‘get on’ with.

My first friends came as a duo.  They were sisters and I have known them forever.  However, we were only babies when we first met.  Our parents were neighbours, not next door neighbours, but around the corner neighbours.  It was through them that our little trio was formed.  You could say we were thrown together due to a set of circumstances that we had no control over.  Our parents’ were not necessarily close friends, but in those days, some 50 odd years ago, there was a close community type of friendship among neighbours.

Anyway, thanks to them, our friendship was born and I am happy to say I would consider them as the ‘sisters I never had’, especially as I don’t have any ‘real sisters’, but I do have 2 brothers.  I would therefore consider them ‘Kenzoku’, which is Japanese for Family, (not that I speak Japanese).  I just thought I would educate myself and some of you with a new term from a different language!  You are welcome ‘Vous etes les bienvenue’ (you are welcome in French).  I am sad to say, I do not speak French either 😦

So what is a true friend?  Well to me, it is a shared interest in some things, but not all things, having similar values and respecting each others points of view.  You may not agree with all of their points of view, but respecting, accepting and supporting them is a good start.  It is someone who will have your back when the chips are down and someone who will help you in your hour of need.  It is honesty, loyalty and integrity.  Someone to tell you the truth….If my bum does indeed look big in this, tell me.  I can then decide whether to still wear it.  In this RELAY SHUN SHIP relationship scenario, I can decide whether to wear it anyway, ditch it, or wear a longer jacket, but thank you for your honesty.

I think a true friend has no trouble being honest, but in a kind way, unless they are drunk, then they might insult you, in an endearing way…. hopefully….. The Sex and the City girls are a classic example of true friends.  Yes I know I could have used  the example of Friends the sitcom either, but I am biased and those 4 women were my once a week friends and I loved them and their friendship.

My next ‘true friend’ friendship came when I was 11 and at secondary school.  I consider her Kenzoku too.  We were so similar in many ways and even looked similar.  Once our paths collided, in a natural way at school, that was it and to this day, we are still ‘besties’.  The best thing about these type of friends is that, even though we hardly see each other anymore, because we don’t even live in the same country, we would be there for each other at the drop of a hot, literally.  That is what family do isn’t it, they would drop everything for you if they needed you or you needed them.  The years spent building the foundations, sharing experiences, laughs, tears, trouble, fights, time and space is enough to sustain the absences of the physical day to day contact.  I love these friends like I do my children…… unconditionally.

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Other friends we meet along the way of life or through our Best Friends.  We are not exclusively each others, we may branch out and have more friends.  There are some times though, that we may not necessarily ‘get on’ with our friends, friends.  There may be nothing obviously wrong, you simply don’t connect and that is OK!

My best friend at school had other friends but they were not really my  cup of tea. If she wanted to hang out with them, I would just go play, quite happily, two ball on the wall.  By that I mean I would bounce two balls off a wall (tennis balls).   I am digging myself a hole here, in case you thought I meant I played with two other type of balls….. certainly not – I went to an all girls catholic school 🙂

I really enjoyed playing two ball and it was a great game for co-ordination and memory.  As you would hit a ball off the wall, in quick succession with the other one you would sing a tune e.g.  ’10 boys names I really must know, so wish me luck and away I go’.  A ball must hit the wall per word sang, so that was the rhythm.  The next part was to sing then sing 9 girls names, 8 types of animals, 7 countries…… you get the drift.  The skill of the ball throwing also got more difficult.  At 9 girls names you would throw the ball up in the air (upsies).  At 8 types of animals, you would throw them over arm at the wall, and as per each decending number of  ‘topics’ you would throw the balls, underarm, slam the balls from the floor but it then must hit the wall (slamzies), under one leg, then the other, slamzies under one let then the other, straddle front ways and slam off the ground to the wall then straddle back ways and slam off the ground to the wall.  You MUST catch the ball each time or you were out.  If you were playing on your own like me, just start again from the beginning!

Being a contortionist would also have been a great help with some of the moves! I did manage to perfect the game as I had a lot of practice!  So there are in fact, advantages as well as disadvantages in every relay shun ship, in that I still had fun, didn’t have to pretend to like the other girls and learned a few new skills along the way.  I wasn’t mean about the other girls.  I would just say I felt like playing two ball.   They probably thought I was an odd ball, but that’s OK too!

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Other friends I have now, I have met through my varied studies, groups I have joined or jobs.  I have a few circle of friends.    It is amazing how you can meet one person though and through that friendship, grow a bigger circle.  I met a really nice girl when I decided to  study Beauty Therapy.  I was  fast approaching 40, which I know, seems a bit old to be studying beauty and there is a back story, but that is for another time – maybe.

Anyway looking around the class at all the (mainly) young, school leavers, there was  a girl who caught my eye.  Not a school leaver but not an almost 40 year old either, but nearer to my age than theirs.    The usual ice breaker at the beginning of a new ‘adventure’ had begun and it was the usual, ‘ Hi my name is X and I have always wanted to be a beauty therapist’ routine.  When it came to me I said, ‘Hi, my name is Carrie and I have NEVER wanted to be a beauty therapist’.    (I completed the course, as I am no beauty school drop out)!  The girl who caught my eye,  impressed me with  pursuing her dream of becoming a beauty therapist.  She had given up her life, lock stock and barrel and left a good job to do it.  She was my kind of woman.  I had, on a few occasions walked away from my life, lock stock and barrel too and jumped in feet first to things.  That too is another story!

We both found employment at the same world renowned spa and it was there that we met another girl and befriended her.  She was funny and the most laid back person I had ever met.  Younger than both of us, but we were young at heart.  They decided to look to house share and it was during that time, we met another girl who knew ‘our friend’ from  a previous work place.  The three of them moved in together.  When I first met her, she was very wary of me as she thought I was ‘abrupt’ and was a little scared of me.   Fear not, I am not really that scary, but I can be direct and yes, I suppose abrupt, but only when the need arises!   I wasn’t too sure about her either.  I felt we had nothing much in common, except my other two friends.  I could see she was professional, focused, driven and a go getter, but there just did not seem to be a shared connection.

Fast forward a few years and lots of events and parties later, we became more connected and realised that we  were not as bad or scary as we first thought.  It was through her I met another another couple of her friends, one she used to work with and went to school with and the other was her current work colleague and friend.    She and I had much in common, like we were both born and had lived in the UK.  Both had our own children and step children and both knew the challenges of fitting in to a new Country.  We hit it off straight away.  As she puts it herself ‘she would love to have a friend like herself’ and she is absolutely right.  She is funny, warm open minded and isn’t afraid to open her heart.    Aren’t these the qualities we look for in a friend.  A bit of give and take,  some consideration and an acceptance to value the things we do like in each other and  ignore the things we don’t!