It feels like you wait forever and then all of a sudden the moment both arrives and passes and all that you were dreaming of is now your new reality.
Oh yes, dear, lovely Housekeepers, we have moved in and though there is still one room full of boxes, the rest of the house is more than liveable and best of all, I have broadband and can enjoy your company all over again…
Here is what relief on this scale feels like: the gentle deflation of one who did not realise she was holding her breath. A hot bath after a long, long day. A hug from your Mum. It is all this and of course it is so much more to I who holds the very premise of “home” so dearly to my heart.
I am trying not to rush this new love affair of mine. Trying not to be in a panic about creating picture-worthy rooms or creating a home before I understand the house. For this is what it takes to make a home: familiarity with the peculiar quirks of the bricks and mortar – the door handle that will not close for you. The sliding door that opens with a startled groan. The sunlight streaming through the skylight on the landing. A heating system we do not yet understand. The bedroom door that slowly opens all by itself in the dead of night.
But there is so much to love: how sunny this place is compared with my former dark little nest. An abundance of cupboards to delight me. An under-stair cupboard Harry Potter would be thrilled by. Floors that are easy to clean. A proper hallway! Glorious coving and ceiling roses on ceilings so high one would need a ladder in order to waft a feather duster about. And a garden that will when it is finally completed be quite the perfect blank canvas for a gorgeous outdoor space.
At first Finley wasn’t sure. The day we moved in there were tears. Tears that spoke of too much change. The worry of being able to walk to school and having to do without the chats in the car that have long punctuated our days, horrified him. But for the first few days, the house was filled with people: my Dad helping Ste to bring two vans full of my things here. Ste’s wonderful family arriving en masse to help us put the house together. The men doing the heavy lifting and the wise women controlling my dithering about what was going where and making decisions on my behalf they rightly told me I could always undo. Finn didn’t have time to mope. We were giggling and erecting bunk beds. Drinking celebratory glasses of good wine and showing him how very close the park was. And all too soon it was time to go to school and he said I must walk with him. That I must meet him half-way upon his return for he would be worried about coming home by himself. He said he would get lost (impossible), that the clowns currently harassing school children around these parts would no doubt chase him down a dark alley and kill him stone dead while cackling like crazy witches, that he might (oh heaven forbid) get run over if the lollipop man turned out to be a weirdo he could not allow to see him across the road. Oh yes. He said all this and then two girls knocked at the door and asked if he would like to go to the park and all to soon my back garden that isn’t quite yet a back garden was filled with an assortment of teenage stragglers and he was showing off his moves on a scooter and I stood baking a ginger cake at the kitchen window and knew without a doubt that all shall be well.
For this is what I want you to know today: all shall be well. Even when you are buried up to your neck in fright, soon enough all shall be well. I so desperately need to remember this lesson: all shall be well. Even the darkest night is eventually blessed by the rising of the sun and we just have to have faith. And patience. Yes. Patience matters. for it is when we are not patient: when we work ourselves in to a frenzy believing that nothing will ever be right again, that the stress and fear manifests itself in depression and physical ailment and we find ourselves petrified by the unknown.
And so today is the start of this new life of mine. I have enjoyed a lovely week, puttering here and lugging stuff about there and now it is time to start establishing new routines. The rituals that will sustain us here. A commitment to the shape of our days in this house that will help us thrive.
This morning I did my miracle morning routine and felt alive again. Yoga on the living room floor, watched no doubt by an audience of bewildered men in hard hats. I have been to the local supermarket and bought a little bunch of berries and woody flowers for the sideboard. Lit a black pepper candle in the kitchen. Taken delivery of a sofa I bought for a song on Schpock and sipped at a carrot and ginger smoothie sitting on it rather delighted with myself. Later Ste will arrive home after a 24 hour shift and I will lay the table so we can all eat together before taking a magnesium bath and slipping in to bed in a room that looks for all the world like the storage room of the home for retired books…
Darlings, I do believe this is happiness. Boxes of books and all. Won’t you help me make this house a home?
Well now the week I have been waiting for is finally upon us: we move on Friday and though I am up to my eyes in boxes and muddling through the packing up process all by myself because Ste is working such long hours, I am giddy with excitement and simply cannot wait to begin the process of making our new house a Brocante Home.
There are of course mixed emotions… some of me feels as though I am abandoning my Mum here in the bungalow. That she will be forever alone once we have packed the final boxes in to the van we have hired and I can’t seem to quite put this plainly silly idea to bed, though the rational me knows I carry her with me wherever I go. Finley is woeful about moving: flinging himself between crying and raging and accusing me of all manner of things from having stupid hands (?) to failing to provide him with the security of a permanent residence over the past three months between selling our little house and moving in to the next one! And Ste meanwhile is thoroughly non-plussed and though I have tried to instill the spirit of BrocanteHome in to him, he keeps reminding me that a house is just a house and it doesn’t matter where we live. Doesn’t he know I am Mistress of HOME IS ALL THAT MATTERS??
And so in-between stroking the head of a sad boy with a permanent tummy ache and sending Ste to the tip whenever he can spare half an hour, I am getting on with the business of packing everything from hangers to hammers, spending many an hour trying to decide which of Mum’s belongings need to cherished in our next home and which can be safely recycled – and indeed trying to make the whole business as puttery as possible…
To that end I have been making Ste simultaneously giggle and roll his eyes with my rather lovely “Moving House Box” which I am stuffing with all the teeny things I need to transform the shell of a (lovely) house into a place that feels like home and from a practical point of view (for I can be oh so very practical from time to time!) gathering all those fiddly little things I don’t want to hunting around for on moving day.
In my box? My favorite Amber Noir candles. A few bottles of Hyacinth Zoflora (the fragrance of home). A packet of good biscuits and some tea-bags. A picture hanging kit (For a reason I can’t explain pictures are a worry on my mind). A stack of new tea-towels. Some batteries. Our phone chargers. A new dish-brush. A gorgeous glass bottle full of sandalwood air fragrance. A bottle of peppermint oil in case I get flustered (because I am prone to fluster don’t you know?). A tiny notepad and pen. Two bars of my favorite orange coal tar soap. A bottle of Method Grapefruit surface cleaner. A bundle of microfibre cloths and a bottle of Kalms in case I accidentally smash my oh so precious terracotta bust of a girl wearing a bow tie and find myself throwing the kind of dicky fit even Finley couldn’t match.
So yes: I am almost ready. Today I am laundering all the bedding ready to be thrown on to the beds on the first night, placing a food shopping order for delivery the morning after we move in and spending lots and lots of time snuggling Alfie because I am going to miss him so very much but know he will be more than happy in the bedlam of Helen’s house with my Dad, the dogs and the boys.
Tomorrow the WiFi will be switched off here and sadly Sky have not yet confirmed when it will be switched on in the new house so service here at Brocantehome may yet again be intermittent for a while, but very, very soon order will hopefully be permanently restored and I will be able to blog my little heart out thereafter.
This m’dears feels to me like the end of one chapter and the start of a new, happier one. Life has been intensely difficult over the past years and I am so very ready to move forward and live the kind of life I have long been designing in my head.
Thank you as always for your ongoing support and dedication to me and to BrocanteHome. I truly cherish it. I will be back soon, refreshed, inspired and ready to create the kind of routines and rituals that will take Brocante in to all of it’s tomorrows.
This morning I have started getting all my technological ducks in a row ready for our very first Salon webinar next month (details for Salon members coming very soon!) and to say I am nothing short of terrified might just be an understatement. I swear my mouth looks wonky when I move it!
But anyways, I do know I mustn’t bore you with my own rather deep-rooted insecurities and must instead inspire you with some of the things I truly know for sure. You see the subject of our first webinar is going to be “Living Life the Brocante Way” and as I have been putting together a script of sorts, it struck me that the line ” a life less ordinary” is something I bandy about with alarming frequency and though I know what I mean when I say it, it struck me today that YOU might have no clue whatsoever…
And so this afternoon I want to tell you what my vision of a life less ordinary looks like. I want you to know that a life less ordinary doesn’t mean picture-perfect Instagram worthy home, heart or even hair, it simply means creating a way of life that reflects every last ounce of authenticity in you. Even the weird bits. And the wonky mouth.
A life less ordinary is created by a woman who wants her world to reflect her soul. It is fashioned by she who may not know exactly what she wants, but knows for sure, precisely what she doesn’t want. It isn’t a perfect life. It is sometimes messy and muddled. Constantly changing direction, not on a whim but to reflect the growth in her soul. For she who lives a life less ordinary is never static. She is always learning, needing, wanting, growing. She wants more and she knows with every inch of her being that more will never be delivered to any door she is content to hide behind.
For there’s the the rub: The woman who lives a life less ordinary doesn’t hide behind her own truth. She doesn’t pretend she can tolerate dull conversation or a job that has been numbing her lovely mind for years on end. She ends the marriage, says no to the invitation, moves out of the house, creates a business, books the plane and decorates herself and her home any damn way she chooses.
Sometimes she is scared. Sometimes she is broken. But always she is alive. With possibility. And dreams. Alive in a house that holds her like a hug. Not picking every last piece of furniture from one catalogue but giving her very own sanctuary time and space in which to develop a personality that truly reflects who she is and more than that, who she wants to be. Sometimes she is frustrated. A little demented. But she never finds herself standing at the school gates making the kind of small talk that makes her want to scream, nor tolerates the kind of practices designed to create robots instead of children. She reads, She meditates. She journals. And above all else she nurtures a rich inner life she does not have to share with anyone, for it is hers and hers alone.
You see I know far too many women who are empty. Who live to make money or please their husbands. I know women who are martyrs to their children. To terrible relationships with their Fathers. To housework and the botox in their foreheads. To trying to give the rest of the world the impression that all is well behind their own four walls when there is little beyond borderline alcoholism, a pile of ironing and yet another box set. I know women who say spiteful things because they are hurting. Who gossip about those living authentically because they so desperately want that authenticity for themselves. Women who simply don’t care that her relationship with her partner is non-existent as long as he brings home enough pennies to put another shiny car on the drive and pay the second mortgage on their holiday home and women who barely know their children at all, but enforce the kind of home rules that stifle their little souls.
I know these women. And I wish I didn’t. I wish I could give them all the key to their own authenticity. To grant them permission to be real, honest and even a little ridiculous at times. I want them to know that no-one cares whether the pictures they parade on Facebook show the perfect 2.4 family, but some of us care whether the woman who took those pictures feels alive. Feels hopeful. Feels energised by her own life and the routines and rituals she has created to support it. I want to say stop now. Take a deep breath and let’s examine all that is true and necessary and abandon all that is dis-honest and done only to keep up appearances. I want to say stand in your own light and reap the beautiful consequences. Feel the scary highs and lows. Cry and scream and throw in the tea-towel on something that isn’t serving you. Decide here and now to only tolerate that which brings meaning to your life.
Visit galleries instead of holding coffee mornings. Go the theatre. Go to Italy! Read and read and read some more. Take the course. Do yoga. Climb walls. Have therapy. Buy the shoes. Take your son away for the weekend. Tell the doctor you feel like death warmed up. Tell the man/mother/teenager that from now on you are simply going to rise above their histrionics and let them stew. Walk out of the room and seek silence. Go for long walks when you should be hoovering. Insist on being truly kissed. Kissed until you can’t breathe. And if he won’t kiss you: leave. Eat well. Throw away all your money on really good food. Tell the friend you find her attitude to her children abhorrent. Speak the truth even when you have to squeeze the words out. Choose the wild wallpaper. Dye your hair. Forget playing safe.
Remember what it is to be you. Before you were a mother or a wife. Or a cashier or a teacher. Find a way to integrate that real you in to your everyday, in to your relationships, your obligations and resolve here and now to weather the storms of protest that just might come when you finally decide to be your best self.
This then is what I mean by living a life less ordinary. It is the reason why BrocanteHome exists and it is a gift I so very much want to help you bestow upon your self.
Oh but is so very good to be back! Here I am again… back in my spiritual home. My laptop on my knee and a cup of minty green tea at my side. It is unseasonably sunny today. Though my heart yearns for the russet gold of Autumn, an Indian Summer seems to be upon us and I am trying so very hard not to wish it away.
I have in fact being wishing away so many of my days lately. Wishing my house was sold (it is!). Wishing the pain in my chest would go away (it has!). Wishing the Summer holidays were over so I could reclaim my routine and myself (they are!). Wishing it was time to move house (just two weeks to go now!)…
That old adage I repeat so frequently, this too shall pass, turned out to be so very true. I guess it is just a matter of believing that this is simply the nature of all things: nothing lasts for always. Faith in that during hard times would I think, make all the difference and yet so often we are too paralyzed by fear, to do much beyond wring our hands and weep when no-one else is looking.
And still I cannot help but ache for Autumn: for a few weeks in to the future when the hurly-burly of the packing, unpacking and enduring two house moves in as many months is finally over and done with and I greet the dark morning of late October with candles and cosy warmth, in our new red-bricked Victorian house. When Finn can walk to school and I can experience what it is to pick up the strings of routine and ritual all over again.
Impatient though I may be, I no longer feel petrified by stress, and though I swear my doctor’s face lit up with excitement when I told him I had both a pain in my left arm and a peculiar tingling in my left breast, I am rather hoping that all the heart tests and scans he has got me lined up for will reveal nothing more than the pain and movement of the hiatus hernia I have got tucked away in my chest wall. I feel so much better. I am back to practicing the rather comical version of yoga I indulge myself with, and though I am still struggling to eat much, I am nibbling at a number of mini-meals each day and remembering to have the voice inside my head speak kindlier words to myself daily. We women are so very hard on ourselves aren’t we?
Here on BrocanteHome I have finally got around to making a few of the changes so many of you have requested. As sometimes we have to move backward to move forward, the home page has gone, so you can once again hop straight in to the blog; all the Salon and Living Room resources are now living on one lovely page; and there is a log in and log out button right there on the menu bar so you don’t have to waste time hunting around for a way into our inner sanctum anymore.
There is much to catch up on and it has been nothing short of infuriating to not have been able to throw myself in to writing recently. But I am here now. Though I may have to come and go according to the whims of moving house and having working broadband in the process, I am here again. In mind if not always in body…
Autumn, dear darling Autumn cannot come soon enough.
I am neither here nor there. I am in fact all of a fuddle. Between houses. Between seasons. Between two minds.
I am scattered and exhausted and so I am going to take a blogging holiday. To complete The Autumn House and a few other projects currently outstanding. To answer emails and make plans for the last quarter of the year. To spend some time with Finley, in this the last Summer of his childhood, before he turns thirteen at the beginning of September (thirteen!). To pack up the bungalow and say goodbye to the house when it finally completes on the 26th of this month. To sew labels in to new school uniform and sit in the garden watching ruby red butterflies flutter around this proliferation of icy blue hydrangeas.
Though I have had barely anytime at all to blog over the past few weeks, the guilt is very real: when I’m not blogging I truly wish I were and a fluster of emotions from frustration to obligation has me demented. And so rather than post half-heartedly I am simply going to do as so many other bloggers do in August and sign off until September.
Just two weeks me Darlings? I will still be available via the Living Room, but otherwise I will be joining Bill Bryson as he meanders around Britain in The Road to Little Dribbling, walking the dog on the beach before he goes to live with my Dad, setting up new routines to allow for the shifts Ste will soon be working, and basically trying to glue myself together after the relentless stress of the past few months.
Do enjoy the end of your Summer too won’t you? Switch off all social media and remember what life was like before it revolved around Facebook. Make time for just sitting quietly in the garden. Mix up delicious salads, take fragrant lemon showers, read The Little House on the Prairie, wash vintage linens in a dolly tub in the back garden and seek out the shady cool of the deepest, darkest forest near you. Hold hands. Go jogging on the beach. Eat fish and chips on the prom. Dance in the moonlight…
Till September then…x
Today contracts will be exchanged and the house will no longer be mine. I will eat Meze in a new Turkish restaurant with friends and spend many hours before hand in search of something to wear. I am fat with discontent. Grey under the Summer tan. And I have developed a hole behind my right ear. A hole!
I have never understood stress before now. I simply didn’t know how physical it is. How your heart booms and your head aches. How shaky you get inside. I have known pain and trauma but stress is different. Stress renders you devoid of emotion but riddled with anxiety. And though you know anxiety isn’t real, though you are more than capable of rationalising every fear your demented mind presents you with, still it has you trembling. Wide awake in the wee small hours. Snappy and strained.
While there are huge things to worry about, it is the little things that have me coming undone.
A wasp in the car that had me screeching at Ste “What part of “I’m scared!” do you not understand??” as he edged his way through a crazy road he could not possibly stop on and looked back at me in bewilderment while the kids stared in amused horror at the woman once thought of as sane.
A meltdown because he will not go to the corner shop and buy me a Pot Noodle though I have become utterly convinced that a chicken and mushroom pot full of pretend food is the only way I will possibly manage to get anything down a throat closed in fright.
Tears in the bathroom just because no one is looking and I can.
In the midst of stress there is a red hot rage. Rage is new to me too. I can’t usually manage it. But during the five months between the offer to buy my house and the completion of the sale that won’t happen for another two weeks because my buyer has not got around to getting his funds in place, I have witnessed so much incompetence and been told so many lies that I frequently find myself ranting at estate agents and solicitors to no avail at all beyond making me feel momentarily better and getting rage off a chest that seems to be expanding by the day and will soon be walking in to rooms before the rest of me.
So ummm… yes. Stress makes your bosom expand. And makes you want to round up every estate agent and solicitor in the land and have them lick your boots with their lying tongues. Stress makes you irrational and mean and gives you a preposterous yearning for Pot Noodles. These m’dears are your take-aways for the day.
Very, very soon I hope to be back to dispensing sensible advice and encouraging you to live lives less ordinary. Lives less ordinary but hopefully not as downright bloody ludicrous as mine…
Do as I say not as I do and we will all be better off. I have got a HOLE behind my ear don’t you know?
Apologies for not being around in the past few days: life is to say to the least, absolutely mental and at the very last minute my house sale seems to be delayed all over again. But hey ho these things are sent to try us aren’t they?
Last month’s Salon and Living Room competition prize was a copy of The Complete Book of Home Organization and today I am here to announce that the winner has been chosen by random number generator and the results are in!
Catherine I do believe it is YOU! And as soon as you send me your home address your book will be delivered directly from Amazon…
Next months prize? 52 Lists for Happiness because having list prompts is quite the most inspirational way to journal your way to authenticity… and the easiest.
The Prize Thread will open in our lovely LIVING ROOM Facebook group next week, but remember you have got to be a member of either the Salon or the Living Room (membership starts at just $15.00 PER YEAR!) to enter our lovely monthly prize draw….
Congratulations Catherine: may every inch of your home be organised…x
I am probably a week away (fingers crossed) from saying goodbye to my house for always and the mixture of both relief and sadness is palpable.
I shall miss this little house of mine, but it is no longer what it used to be. In fact I haven’t lived here really for six months and now a house that was once fragranced by lavender and love, smells musty and neglected.
But it wasn’t always so: once the little walls of this tiny Victorian terraced cottage were a celebration of all that puttery and lovely. An ode to the kind of abundant domesticity I have been recommending to you for the past twelve years.
But houses are more than just the pretty. More than just the routines and rituals of daily life. They are memory boxes. The walls lined in our own history. And I had to move out because that history had started to stain my rosy wallpaper and I couldn’t escape it.
Of course there are good memories as well as bad ones. I brought my baby home to this house and found it filled with balloons and flowers…
I spent so many happy hours here laughing. Playing. Singing. And content.
Sometimes I hugged the house and sometimes the house hugged me. (We all need hugging sometimes don’t we?).
Even when the bad times came the house still felt like a sanctuary. I put everything I had in to making it into a gallery of my soul, and I loved nothing better than closing the door on the world and hibernating there.
But if I have learnt anything it is that life cannot be static. And that sometimes we have to be brave and move on from places and people that are no longer serving us.
Doors close so we can open another don’t they? Though I am so very grateful to my little house and to how it shaped me as a homemaker and I do believe I will miss it for always…