#Lockdown ‘Every cloud has a Silver Lining’ #MondayMotivation #MondayBlogs

I live in Spain and we’ve been on Lockdown for ten days now due to the Covid-19 virus and I haven’t written a single post, until today.

I’m not going to talk about facts and figures, prevention, medicine or science, because I’m not an expert on any of those major aspects and there’s plenty of reliable information online.

I’m going to write about my personal reflections, feelings and how my life is being affected by the lockdown. This means owning both the positive as well as the negative experiences derived from imposed isolation, because every cloud has a silver lining.

First I’m going to tell you about the clouds, or what I miss:

 

1) Hugging my children and grandchildren. 

I have four wonderful grandchildren (ages 3,5,6, and 9, and a fifth on the way!) I love playing board games, ping pong, telling stories, going to parks and fun fairs, or just chatting with them. 

My husband and my daughter walking in the countryside, near where I live.

2) My daily walks.

My husband and I have retired recently and we enjoy long (2-3 hour) daily walks. We choose different parts of the town and countryside, have a coffee or a beer on the way there or back, depending on the time. We chat, take photos, pop in to museums or exhibitions, wherever takes our fancy. No walks allowed now.

I took this picture of some of my oldest friends last year at a local flower festival ‘Flora’

3) Going out with friends.

I enjoy going out with friends. We go to the movies, to a coffee shop, window shopping, real shopping, or out for drinks and tapas. No going out with friends.

 

Last year we popped over to Bari, on a bargain Ryanair flight, just for the fun of it!

4) Impromptu outings

We love getting in the car and popping over to Malaga (an hour and a half drive) to walk along the seafront, or to meet up with friends and family, or to any other city for a day trip, weekend at home or abroad.

60th Birthday Party at home with some of my best friends!

5) Receiving guests

I love cooking and having guests, especially when the weather’s nice and we can eat in the garden. On other occasions, friends come over for tea or coffee, some home-cooked cake and a chat. 

Secondly, this is my silver lining, or what I can appreciate about this situation.

1) More time to write. 

I’ve just finished and sent the umpteenth draft of my latest novel to my editor, Alison Williams. I managed, to block out the lockout and get on with it with no one to distract me. I plan to continue with other unfinished novels and literary projects, too.

2) More time to read

My TBR pile is slightly smaller! At the moment I’m reading and enjoying When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, on my kindle and listening to L J Ross’s Alexander Gregory Thriller, Impostor, its Book 1 in the series (I read Book 1 first by mistake!). She’s a wonderful author as I learned when I read her DCI Ryan Mysteries.

The Alexander Gregory Thrillers

3) Watching series I never have time for.

I’m not much of a TV viewer, but I was able to binge watch over a couple of days, eight episodes of The Stranger, by Harlan Coben staring Richard Armitage.

4) Phoning + texting friends and family 

I’ve spent the last few days contacting friends and family all over the world, by phone, text and email, making sure they’re all OK. I haven’t finished yet, there are still a few more to contact.

With my three best friends from London University, celebrating our 60th birthday, last July, back on our College site, now luxury residential homes.

5) A time for introversion and reflection.

I’ve never been faced with so much time for myself or so much worry about family, friends and myself. Facing one’s own vulnerability in such an unpredictable world is daunting. Facing our finite and limited time on earth and the possibility of illness, or even death in complete isolation was not how I expected to spend 2020.

Momento Mori is not welcome, but it’s a necessary reminder that my life is brief and finite and every moment is precious.

Stay safe, virtual hugs and love to you all.

Stream of Consciousness #Saturday #SoCS ‘Mean Mothers’

This post was written in response to Linda G, Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. This week’s prompt is ‘mean‘. Feel free to join in or read other posts.

Nobody expects an adult woman to complain about having a mean mother. It’s considered too childish or an exaggeration, and yet there some, fortunately not many, women who have toxic mothers, also referred to as narcissistic mothers. I’m one of them.

My name is Lucy and I have a toxic mother.

I feel like an addict owning up to an addiction. I’d been thinking about writing a post about this for a long time, and when I realised that today’s prompt word was ‘mean’, I saw it as a sign to own up once and for all. It’s a first step, and it actually feels great to be able to get it off my chest and share it with readers in cyberspace.

I didn’t realise why my relationship with my mother was so distressing until recently, a couple of years ago, when I started hearing about the topic and investigating in psychology blogs, specialised articles and manuals.

As a child I always felt guilty about being the cause of my mother’s anger and disdain. I wasn’t clever enough, pretty enough, or good enough at anything. She never liked my friends and she especially never liked my boyfriends.

She tried to convince me I was bad to the core, from birth, because when I was born I looked at her with ‘evil eyes’ and she knew I would cause her problems.

When she was feeling especially mean, she would tell me she was convinced I had been changed at the hospital and that someone like me couldn’t be her daughter.

I would never be worthy of her love and kindness, so she refused to love me unless, and for a short time, I was completely compliant to all her requirements, be it the clothes I wore, the friends I had, the food I ate, the places I went to etc., well into my adult life.

When other people are present, there are two possible scenarios. In the first, she makes an effort to point out my good points, because she’s responsible for all my achievements, as if I’m a trophy, which is why only those who know her well (and many do, eventually) can see it’s an act. In the second, she humiliates me pointing out my failures and lack of achievements, because I didn’t follow her advice.

She constantly reminds me that if she hadn’t been my mother I’d be a useless wimp, or in the second case, that’s what I am because I don’t pander to her demands.

I left home when I was 17 to work as an au pair in France and then left for College when I was 18. After College I moved to Spain. I’m 59, so I haven’t lived under my mother’s roof for 42 years, but that doesn’t stop her being mean, by phone, when she visits me, or when I visit her.

Her latest (last week, when I visited her) meanness: you’re a wimp, you’re too fat, your hair’s a mess, you’re useless, I always have to clean up after you, your work isn’t important, you didn’t bring up your children well enough, your husband is worthless, and of course, she hates my novels: ‘How can you write those awful things’, she says. My character also has terrible flaws, I’m ungrateful, selfish, argumentative and insolent, because I don’t let her rule my life.  

Toxic / narcissistic mothers have two types of husbands, the enabling type, who simply pander to their narcissistic needs by supporting them at all costs, in spite of their cruelty to their children, or the missing husband, the one who leaves and never looks back. My father was the latter.

I’ve never known how I should react to this continuous, mental abuse, because as I said, I wasn’t aware, although I did suspect something wasn’t right, my mother had a psychological condition. When I was a child, I would argue as infrequently as possible, to keep the peace, and I continued doing so for most of my adult life. Most interactions with her leave me feeling emotionally drained, worthless and guilty.

Now I know much more about this personality disorder, I am aware, because the experts seem to agree on this, that it’s incurable. There’s no magic pill or therapy to change a toxic mother’s attitude towards her daughter (and although I haven’t gone into this aspect, in my mother’s and many cases, the rest of the world).

There’s only one solution for the daughter: to keep contact to a minimum and refuse to be drawn into any type of argument, which will only feed the toxic mother’s ego and give her an excuse to lash out abusively, thereby still maintaining the power to upset, humiliate, and make her daughter feel guilty.

I really miss not having had an affectionate and understanding mother, someone I could talk to, ask for advice, or simply chat with, without feeling upset and humiliated.

I’m a teacher and I’m very grateful to my own teachers for the encouragement I received, especially as a child and a teenager. I believe in the power of education to improve our lives by giving us access to knowledge and opportunities.

As a teacher and a mother I’ve always believed in the benefits of positive thinking, and I make an effort to increase my students’, children and grandchildren’s self-esteem and confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Ironically, I have my mother, partly, to thank for this, because I have always been determined not to be like her in any way, so without realising it, she made me the better person.

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This Stream of Consciousness post was easy to write, because it’s been on my mind for a long time, but it was hard to make the decision of sharing such a personal experience publicly. I’ve decided to post it to purge myself and also in the hope that it may help other daughters, of any age, who are coping with difficult relationships with their mothers.

I’m not an expert and this is a vast topic. I’ve simply shared a small fraction of my personal experience. There’s plenty of information on the web if you search for the terms toxic or narcissistic mother, father or parents. It can also affect sons and other close relatives.

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Feel free to share suggestions, advice, opinions, knowledge, or personal experience in the comments.

#SundayWalks ‘Flowers and Patios’ #Tanka #Poems

 

In ancient gardens

Dismembered, Roman statues

Watch pruned, potted plants

Bursting with fragrance, glowing

In lush, flourishing patios.

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I went for a walk to visit the World Heritage Patios Festival in Cordoba, Spain, this morning with my friend Gabriela. What a stunning place to stimulate all my senses!

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I hope you were able to take an inspiring walk this Sunday❤

 

#SundayWalks ‘A Rose at the Zoo’ #haiku ‘Not a Rose’ #Poems #Poetrymonth

A rose at the zoo

Watches elephant cry, while

Poet writes haiku

Not a Rose

The rose is a rose,

Loveliness extreme.

The elephant is not a rose,

And it is not lovely.

An elephant at the zoo is

loneliness extreme.

The poet is a woman,

Who writes about beauty and despair,

While she thinks of lonely elephants,

Watching lovely roses, wondering

Why an elephant is not a rose.

****

I went to the zoo this morning with my children and grandchildren, and two things struck me; the beautiful roses and the downcast elephant. Well here they are, joined by my pen to be shared to the world.

My daughter and granddaughter

Hope you were able to take an inspiring walk this Sunday❤

#MondayBlogs ‘To Do Lists and To Be Lists’ #MondayMotivation

I’m a compulsive writer of ‘To do lists’.

Before I leave my office, at school, every day, I check my notepad and cross out the things I’ve done which were on yesterday’s list and I add my new tasks for the following day.

It makes me feel as if I’m in control of my work life and it actually works, because it means I usually get (almost) everything done (almost always) on time.

I also write shopping lists and weekly menus. Having three children and four grandchildren, who still often come home for lunch or dinner, this also makes me feel I’m in control of domestic matters.

There is a wonderful lady who’s been looking after the rest of the housework once a week for the last twenty years, which means I rarely have to worry about it.

Fortunately, work and housekeeping, (usually) run smoothly, which frees my mind, so I can devote the rest of my time to my writing.

I also write (sort of) to do lists related to my writer’s life. When I wrap up, I write down my word count, what I’ve done (writing, editing, rereading, researching, etc.), how I feel about it, and what I’d like to start with the following session. These reflections are a great help in focussing because I can’t always write every day, and losing track would be far too easy.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do away with my lists, but as a result of recently reading a short yet enlightening post by GunRoswell, I realised I wasn’t writing the most important list of all: My to be list.

So I’ve put it up on the window of the room I usually write in, to remind myself to make sure I take care of being as well as doing.

I’m going to be thankful every day for everything I am and have. The importance of gratitude can’t be overstated.

I’m going to be kind(er) to those I interact with, because we don’t know what other people are dealing with and because we all know what goes round comes round (ain’t karma a bitch!).

I’m a teacher a wife, mother and a grandmother, so being patient should be a priority, and it is, but sometimes I it isn’t easy, and on other occasions, I forget.

I need t find time to nurture my mind and be creative by devoting time every day to either reading, writing, playing the piano, photography, etc.

I need to remember to be in love, because love is the strongest feeling which binds people together. I must never forget to make sure those people around me who are special, such as family and friends, know I love them.

I also have the right to be happy. In spite of tragedy, pain and suffering which exists around me, I can allow myself to enjoy moments of joy.

I also need to be at peace with myself. I have made mistakes, and probably will continue to do so, but I need to forgive myself for making mistakes, as long as amends are made as soon as possible, stating the reason, expressing regret and offering repair.

I can’t do much without taking care of my physical health. If I’m sick or unfit, it would affect every aspect of life negatively, so I need to be healthy take care of my body by doing exercise, eating well, and making sure I keep up with my regular check ups…

I should never forget to be prepared for the worst and yet be optimistic and expect the best to happen.

Finally I need to be alive, ‘feel the rain on my skin’, because ‘no-one else can feel it for me’.

Do you write lists?

What’s on your To Be List?

#SixWordSaturday Getting Ready for #Christmas Family Reunions

Christmas Tree outside the shopping centre.

Close up of the Christmas tree.

Inside the Christmas tree!

November’s a longish, coldish month.

Today, while doing my weekly food shopping, I noticed a Christmas Tree in the square outside the shopping centre, and plenty of Christmas decorations inside the shop.

I didn’t buy anything, not yet, but it reminded me about the family reunions ahead.

This year I’m looking forward to having all my children and grandchildren at home for a few special days.

Have you seen any Christmas trees yet? 

#FlashFiction ‘When I grow up’ @NorahColvin @Charli_Mills #amhealing #WWWBlogs

Healing Lilly

“How was your day, Lilly?”

Tears spilled.

“Tell me about it.”

“No-one wants to play with me and they call me names.”

“So, what are you doing about it?”

“Crying, mostly. Sometimes hiding. I don’t want to go to school.”

“Lil, listen to me. You’ll get good marks, make wonderful friends, be a great teacher and have your own family one day.”

She stamped her foot. “I’m ugly and silly!”

I held the picture of my younger self to the mirror.

“Look at me, Lil. You can and will do it. Anything you want is there for the asking.”

****

 

Fifty years and still healing. Lucy at about 8 and 58

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Lilly or sometimes Lil was my nick name at home when I was a child. My sister couldn’t say Lucy, so she named me Lilly. Elsa died many years ago, and nobody has called me Lilly since, but I know Lilly’s still with me. I encourage her and remind her not to worry and believe in herself, every day. I think it’s working, Lilly is healing and Lucy is happier every day.

We all have hang ups from our youth. Speak to pictures of your younger self, tell her not to worry because it will work out. Believe me, it works. We can heal the child within.

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This post was written in response to Norah Colvin’s prompt on Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest, coordinated and inspired by Charli Mills.You can take part in the contest or just post your flash on your blog, which is what I’m doing.

Norah asks us to cast ourselves back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.

Geoff Lepard is hosting the challenge this week at his blog. Check it out if you’d like to join in.