Slowing down

Friday 14thDecember

I’m feeling quite excited.

Well, I lie, I’m excited, then terrified, then reticent, then ecstatic and then I want to crumple into a heap and sob my heart away.

This week I’ve finally made three products that I’ve been formulating for months. I’ve been sweating over the ingredients; trying to keep the products clean, local, responsible, super effective and completely fabulous. I weigh up, discuss and have deep conversations with myself about the provenance of ingredients, organic versus local, honouring carbon footprint but not skimping on efficaciousness. I’m trying to produce a fabulous all round product that does the job without adding extra complications of endless decision making for my customer. I want my customer to trust that I’ve done the research and produced the goods. And I have! I’ve managed to make a face cream that is delectable, with almost completely British and closely European ingredients as well as a Gel Serum and an Oil Serum – all aimed at slightly mature skin.

And then it was my birthday, another day to dread without my Kevin.

So I went for a walk, friends were busy. It was a week day so I thought I’d relish some quiet contemplation on the hills.

Map in hand, some snacks, water and my dog, I didn’t quite make it to the loch I was seeking, but I got some great views and we had an adventure.  All that time (5 hours) on my own gave me a lot of time to ruminate, and to get very, very cold.
I still miss Kevin, desperately.
And I lost the dog.

When I finally got home, aching and freezing, I was overwhelmed with an obsessive penchant for mulled wine. I was shivering, my fingers weren’t working but somehow I managed to throw every warming spice I could find into hot water – black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, chillies, tangerines, oh, and wine.

I covered myself in blankets, clutching the hot wine, shivering, fell asleep.

That night, at our much anticipated panto In the village, (which happened to be the worst production I’ve ever sat through), whilst quelling my children’s pleading looks, begging me to take them home, I regarded the sea of grey and balding heads surrounding us. The combination of white heads leaning toward each other, a whispered chorus of ‘what’s that she said’, ‘what did he say?’; along with the mayhem of ageing actors on the stage, fumbling with their cheesy lines, reduced me to hysterics. Oh I laughed, so much, I tried to stifle my giggles, I couldn’t breathe, I was crying and laughing and gulping for air. My children were glancing at me, terrified, giving me worried looks, was I crying or laughing? I don’t know which, probably both, but all I could think, through my streams of tears was, “Oh my goodness, what have we done?’”


Monday 24thDecember

It’s morning and it’s the brightest, clearest most peaceful morning I could wish for. For the first time in so long I have awoken afreshed. My head doesn’t feel foggy. I didn’t lie in bed, overwhelmed by tiredness and the desperate need to stay in bed, for hours, days, the winter. I didn’t lie, unmoving, trailing through a list of reasons to get up, waiting for the list to build to a critical mass convincing enough for me to move my weary limbs.

It’s Christmas eve and there’s not a breath of air. The ground is crisp with a sprinkling of frost, shimmering and twinkling, a true Winter Wonderland. The sky is pink and the moon is nestled above the horizon, full, clear, pure, awaiting its descent to the other side. 

Christmas morning at our place

We’re here. Christmas looms, but instead of dread and fear like the last three years, I feel relief, its time to stop and hole in. We’ve arrived.

We are now (almost) officially here. Our belongings are safely stashed in a locker. We have managed, thanks to a monumental effort by my hardy, stalwart, long suffering friends, to shift and clear four bedrooms, a study, a kitchen, two living rooms and four outbuildings, squeezing our life into a lockup the size of a single garage.

I look back and aside from the pain, the fog, the grief, the redundancy, the children’s rocky journey and the sheer almost unassailable mountain of a journey we have travelled – I have been clearing, fixing, shifting, chucking, recycling, freecycling, ebaying and giving belongings away for three years. It’s been endless, an unreachable goal, a constant course of obstacles. As quick as I cleared and shifted, more ‘stuff’ seemed to appear. I’ve cried, wept, fretted, worried and feared. For four months I’ve travelled up and down between Liverpool and Scotland, shifting belongings, sorting and letting go.

But we’ve done it and we’re here.

 When my oldest entered our house for the last time, empty, bare and cleared of our life, she burst into tears, running from room to room, eventually hiding in Kevin’s empty work space, well, almost empty except for a few broken drums and random bits of instruments still awaiting a final destination. My friend held her; they cried, but I couldn’t, I’ve been holding it together for so long and I just needed to leave.

It was all too much. Ten years ago we arrived to this empty new house and proceeded to alter and shift it to our needs,  we filled it with stuff, built growing beds, planted trees, laid roots and made dreams. We filled it with more ‘stuff’ than you could possibly imagine and I’ve managed, with endless help from friends and family, over three long years to empty it back to nothing, gradually wiping our life away.
And it’s been hard.

And now we’re here and I have been absolutely exhausted, my bones ache, my head aches and I just need to sleep and cocoon and do very little, for as long as it takes to grow strength again.

It’s a hard one to explain, to others that haven’t experienced it before. But I don’t want to explain. We have a wound that will always be there, scar tissue and phantom pains as of a limb that has been removed.

But here we are, now and it’s beautiful and we have Christmas to look forward to. I did try to cancel this Christmas but the children weren’t having it. I couldn’t bring myself to buy them anything – the idea of more ‘stuff’ sends me into panic mode. ‘Stuff’ is the blight of the modern world – people just don’t need it. It holds us back, weighs us down and distracts us. The Charity Shops are overflowing, refusing offerings and our rubbish tips are full.
We need to stop.

Well, we’re stopping and I just can’t wait!

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