When life feels hard, puttering away my troubles is the answer. And so I wander through my days in floral pajamas topped eccentrically with a pink jumper, fussing over the arrangement of my underwear in my Marie Kondo-ed drawers, arranging books on the mahogany bookcase I have my son help me carry up the stairs: me breathless as I shuffle backward and him crying with laughter in teenage mirth.

Then at my dressing table. A Himalayan salt lamp, a bowl full of the essential oils I use daily, some meditation mist, the ochre silk-lined jewellery box my Nana bought me for my thirteenth birthday, candles, so many candles, rose quartz, a little stack of prompted journals, a glitter bird pecking at a photo-frame I have yet to fill, a tarot card tucked into the frame of the mirror, a pot filled with make-up brushes I never remember to use, a box of fabric-covered matches, a photo of my Mum, a card from Ste and a scattering of tiny gem-stones. Everything that matters…

Fiddling with the inside of the white bathroom cabinet. Deciding preposterously to apply a stripe of Vitamin C mask to a nose sprinkled with hormones: a wild-haired Adam Ant scrubbing the bath as she listens to Penelope Keith reading the latest Agatha Raisin, and lights yet more candles from the abundance she received for Christmas.

Then patchouli and lime burning in the bedroom. A sprinkle more of patchouli over the ochre corduroy cushions my child is determined to nab for himself, stuffing them down his t-shirt as he kisses me goodnight, and making me giggle as he pulls a sad face and says “not mine?” with a cheeky wink, and I wrestle them back and listen once more to the deliciously intense woes of my fifteen-year old baby.

Now sitting on my bed. Feeling like a teenager who has fashioned the cosiest of sanctuaries from her bedroom. Giving myself five minutes to worry. (For worry must have both a beginning and an end or else it is likely to consume a person). Then bursting back into life, for this is how my energy flows: in sudden flurries of purposeful madness and then floppy exhaustion as if the life has been unexpectedly drained out of me. Ever astonished by what it is possible to achieve in-between.

I have been walking. By myself. The same route each day past the post-office and turning left, down towards the church. Peeking into the bits of other people’s lives they choose to display in their beautiful Victorian bay-windows and swapping places with busy women dashing in and out of their front-doors in heels and serious coats. Walking and wondering. Not worrying, for there is a time and place for that, but instead wondering. Playful thoughts I allow to flit in and out of my mind like so many moths, as I stop to look at the crocuses on the green and admire the house with the red door long enough to surely have the residents discussing the mad lady at their next dinner party. Just one more of the slightly deranged who seem to people this proud little village.

Then another hour trying to bring order to the bills that are piling up in a menacing fashion. Offsetting their menace with a pretty file and paperclips topped with blue-ribbon. Stapling things together as if I am back to playing “Secretaries” with my little sister, before popping my apron on and playing a lonesome game of House. A frenzy of laundry thrown on to the line and a kitchen floor scrubbed in hot water, white vinegar, and pine oil as I warble along at the top of my voice to the Harper Valley PTA. Making myself giggle as I swing the mop around and try to decide whether this isn’t the first sign of the kind of domestic hysteria only a really good pot of tea will delay…

And then quiet. Tea on a tray with crumpets topped with marmite and cucumber. The furry blanket we all fight over, all to myself. A morning well-spent and a nap sure to follow.

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