I feel like I’ve written this blog before, or one very like it. I thought about going back through my previous posts to have a look, to avoid repeating myself, but I didn’t want to. I just wanted to write. So here I am.
I’ve just taken my mum up to London on the train and then across London to Euston Station on the tube. I sat her down on her train back to her home in North Wales and then headed back to Waterloo. I’m writing this on another train heading south.
I led her, sometimes by the hand, through London’s crowds, on and off the Underground and up and down stairs. She shuffled along behind me, a look of fear in her eyes, almost quivering, like a tiny animal that had just been separated from its mother. Bless her.
Watching her, I felt sad – sad that she has aged and lost the ability to do what she used to do. It wasn’t that long ago that she used to get the train from Wales to London then hop on a bus to my North London flat, then make her way back to Euston on her own a week later. Now, even by my side, even holding my hand, the crowds and the noise were too much for her.
Watching her, seeing her fear, I wanted to cry. But then I had to ask: how much of that sadness is about her and how much of it is for me, because I’m heading that way too, if I’m lucky enough to reach old age.
Yes, dear readers, there’ll be a day when everything I take for granted today will no longer be there. There’ll be a day when I won’t be able to do as I did this morning – leap out of bed, wash and hang up two loads of laundry, dye my hair, make breakfast and lunch, pick up mum’s suitcase, check train times on my phone and use an automatic ticket machine (without having to put on glasses).
There’ll be a day when I won’t be able to jog down the steps of a Tube station with a heavy bag in one hand or deftly navigate hoards of fellow travellers. There’ll be a day when I won’t be able to swim front crawl through the sea or manoeuvre my paddle board off the roof of the car (I can only just manage it now). There’ll be a day when I won’t be able to see this screen or when my brain or fingers won’t move at this speed.
I don’t think about it much. I take my ease of movement and the speed of my mind for granted. But I can’t help but think about it when I see my future reflected back to me by my increasingly frail and vulnerable mum, more scared than ever to step out of her very small comfort zone.
Nor do I spend much time thinking about who’ll lead me by the hand through the London Underground when I’m old and frail or put me on and off long-distance trains. I have no sons or daughters.
Call it denial. Call it avoidance. Or maybe it’s quite normal not to think about it much. But it seems I still have that sense that I’ll live for ever, and that my partner will live forever, and that I’ll always be able to do all this stuff that I take for granted, on my own, without a helping hand.
I still feel that way even though I have evidence that I’ve already aged. I’m not as robust as I was when I was younger, my joints already show signs of deterioration, my mind isn’t quite as sharp and my capacity to spend time among the bright lights, loud noises and hectic crowds of London is vastly diminished.
Yes, I have aged. I have changed. I just don’t want to age any more. Who does?
But there’s an upside to having these thoughts and feelings – they inspire me to make the most of these days, of my mind, of my body, of my age. They inspire me to seize the day.
And they inspire me to urge you to do the same.
So whatever it is we want out of life, let’s go for it.
I accept we can’t have absolutely everything we want. That’s life. And I find accepting that reality makes life much easier.
But there are things we want or dream of that we can have if we find a way, if we work for them, if we do our inner work and tap into our courage. I am living proof of this. So whatever it is you desire – that home by the sea, a partner to love, a book in print, a thriving business, a healthier body, an exotic holiday, a decluttered home (my challenge for the summer!), a stronger heart, whatever it is – can you go for it?
Try to stop procrastinating (I am oh so guilty of this). Don’t live in regret (I can waste time wishing I’d done things differently). Yes, mourn your losses and disappointments but move on as soon as you can. Move forward. (I’m writing this for myself as much as for you).
If it’s love or a different life you’re looking for, why not read my book or sign up to my 6-week How to Fall in Love course that starts this Monday? Or find someone else or something else to support you on your personal development journey. The key, I believe, is to recognise that we might need to do some work on ourselves in order to have what we want – and then to sit down and do that work, with whatever support works best for us.
If you want your voice heard out there in the world, if you want a blog like this or of a different sort, why not come to my blogging workshop on Tuesday if you’re near Bournemouth or sign up to my online blogging bootcamp? Or find another type of support so you can throw off the shackles, write from the heart and share your message with the world.
You don’t need me to tell you that life is short. You’ll have ageing parents of your own, or parents or other relatives who’ve passed away, or you’ll have aching joints or eyes that don’t work as well as they used to. It happens to us all.
So identify your dreams, find a way to make them happen, then go for them. Take baby steps if you need to, do your research, go and explore that place you want to move to (as one of the ladies on a previous How to Fall in Love course is doing right now), check it out, test the waters and then when you’re ready, leap.
It doesn’t have to happen overnight. It took me a few years to move to the seaside after declaring on this blog that I was leaving London. But I had my goal in sight and I made it happen. It took me many years to work through my dysfunctional relationship patterns before I was ready to fall in love, but I knew I wanted a life companion so I kept trying and failing and trying and learning and changing until I got it right. This blog is testimony to my growth as are the two guest blogs I’ve written for Gateway Women – the first in 2011 on The Power of Testimony and a blog I wrote yesterday, asking if love can heal the pain of childlessness (thanks to Jody Day for the space to share).
For many years now, I’ve been moving forward, growing, developing. I still am. I have a long way to go. But I’m committed to growth and change. I’m committed to achieving my dreams. Sometimes I need to rest. Sometimes I need to take a break. But when I’m ready, I’ll pick those dreams up again and start working towards them. I wish the same for you. You have dreamed those dreams for a reason.
One life. Create your best one. Make your miracles.
I’ll end on the quote I began the final chapter of my book with:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – Mark Twain
If you like what you’ve read here, you may enjoy my book: How to Fall in Love – A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. It’s for men and women who want to heal and transform their relationships with themselves and live fulfilling, wholehearted lives. You can download the intro and first chapter for free on my website if you’d like to try before you buy. My How to Fall in Love course begins Monday and I am planning a one-day retreat later in the summer. Check out my website for more details. You’ll also find details on my website of a blogging workshop and a blogging bootcamp if you’d like to start or develop your own blog. Finally, have a think too about joining my free Facebook community for women who are committed to living wholeheartedly: Being Real, Becoming Whole.