You have astonished me with your kindness. Your patience. Your loyalty. And above all the gentle advice so many of you have dropped into my inbox. Advice I have been mulling over, turning this way and that and threading into the tapestry of my tomorrows. How lucky I am to have so much wisdom at my disposal.

One of the images on my cream vision board says “Surround yourself with strong women“: a reminder I don’t really need because for so long you have all been with me, rooting for me and travelling through my ups and downs with your fingers firmly crossed on my behalf, ready and willing to all stand together and hold me up when it finally looked as if I wasn’t quite managing it alone, and for that I thank-you from the bottom of my heart.

This then is to be my very own fallow season: a time not to throw myself back into days I had been over-sowing, but instead to step back and survey the landscape of my life, to plough and harrow my slightly battered soul, but not yet to sow the seeds of new ideas, nor to keep on farming that which has been exhausted.

You have said, get help. Get a virtual assistant. Allow yourself time to recover. Give yourself the grace of self-care. Tell only the truth it feels right to share. Do nothing at all for a while. Re-create what already exists. (You have already created so much.) Be with your family. Sleep. Sit with your feelings. Take all the time you need to heal. We will still be here.

And I have read it all. And taken long tepid baths in lavender magnesium. and cried in front of the madcap, lovely doctor who told me I wasn’t coping, not because my strength had deserted me, but because yet again my thyroid has crashed and that the menopause I thought had just begun, is in fact almost over. That I have been ignoring what my body had started to scream at me, muddling through the fog of hormones gone utterly berserk, that now rest was my only option if I want to heal. And that there was something else that she wanted me to consider might be true. Something that might just explain it all.

I have tried to sit still. To read entire afternoons away and eat ready meals instead of home cooked fare. I have sat with pen and paper and jotted down dreams and fashioned a future from a doodled muddle, and watched box-sets and got up and wandered the house at three o’clock in the morning when sleep wasn’t my friend. I have resisted the lure of social media (and highly recommend it!). I have sat for hours in the library, reading and people watching, retreating to the library cafe to sip at lime and jasmine fizz and watch the children dancing in the fountain on sunny days. And I have sat in front of the women I know in real life and allowed them to, to hold me up. I have tried so very hard to be still, though still is never really how I am, at least not inside my head.

The house hasn’t fallen down. Ste has thrown himself into work and Finley has survived the first round of mock GCSE’s. Nothing has happened at all while I have been in repose. A fact that both astonishes me and confounds me: for what then is it all for, if the world doesn’t drop out of the sky when we stop believing it is us alone keeping it suspended?

All this then to say, I hear you. I am still here. Just being gentle with myself as so many of you have advised me to do. I have studied and considered the results of the poll in my last post and I am spending afternoons with huge pieces of paper spread out across the dining room table, jiggling the jigsaw of fifteen years of BrocanteHome in order to create something that is both financially viable and creatively satisfying and I will share the results of my mind-mapping with you as soon as I have given it enough form to make sense…

In the meantime, thank you for your patience. for understanding. For being the strong women I so very much need to be surrounded with right now.

Talk soon.