HAPPY

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Adventures

Yesterday I had a meltdown, a massive, massive, meltdown. I sobbed for a loooong time. In fact, I think A will think twice about going on holiday without me again, it was as though I’d saved it all up for his return, which is a shame because he had a great time and I’m very pleased he could go.

I was just overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed on a UK level, a global level and a personal level too. It all seemed too much, I had reached saturation point, my heart felt too full and my head too confused.

Tomorrow I open the doors to Loop Massage Studio for the first time and the massive change I’ve made will be completed. From the moment I got the key and stepped into the space there’s been a voice in my head. A voice that says “no going back now”. When we lay the floor, “no going back now”, when we painted the walls, “no going back now”, when the plumbing and electrics went in “no going back now”…. you get the picture. Sometimes it’s an excited voice, sometimes apprehensive and sometimes it’s a very freaked out voice indeed.

Sunday is the 2nd anniversary of when A & I got married. There’s a lot of opening weekend celebrations happening and I don’t think I’ll get a moment to write him a blog post like last year but these two up events are linked or looped (if you’d allow me).

For those who don’t know A. – A. is a whirlwind powerhouse of energy, creativity and stubbornness. If he sets himself a task, he’s going to complete it and it will be the best thing ever. It’s a quiet and sometimes not so quiet drive that is 98% awe-inpiring and 2% a little overwhelming. Seriously, what he can achieve in a day is breathtaking to a procrastinating scaredy cat such as myself. It is an honour and a joy to hold his hand in this lifetime (and run to keep up).

- On a side note, it means the days when he stops and we just be are some of my favourites, a relaxed A is a thing of delight. -

A. was the powerhouse behind Loop, we walked by some empty shipping containers with a sign on them saying ‘for rent’ and he said “you should have a massage studio in one of them”, in 3 days it was a done deal. A leaps without looking in the best possible ways; having been burned a little bit, I’m a toe in the shallows woman myself.

Sometimes I’ve no idea what he’s doing with me. Our skill set and personality types are poles apart. I can make the man laugh though and he likes how I write. I like to think we compliment each other, and bring out the best. He helps to make me bolder and I, I think I bring a kindness to procedures.

We have been building this crazy dream project together since last September. I have had so many wobbles, I have learnt so much, I have had to braver than I ever thought I could be and learnt to be tougher. I now know what parts of a decoration project I care about and also that I will never, ever have strong opinions on sinks (apart from the fact and I know this makes me sound like a total ditz that the first time I put the water on in the cargo box it blow my mind shhhhh don’t tell anyone).

All this time if A has had doubts he’s had to keep them pinned inside because he knows if he wobbles, I wobble. All this time he has been there holding my hand and every night before we go to sleep he whispers “I believe in you” and it makes me feel unstoppable because the person I know who is truly unstoppable believes that of me too.

Every year we go on an adventure, sometimes not the best kind of adventure, sometimes they are wild and sometimes the change your life. They are life lessons, everyone and that’s what’s exciting.

I couldn’t be more proud of this dude. I can’t say I couldn’t love him more because I love him more each day.

He believes in me, I believe in me,  together we are unstoppable.

A huge thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my next adventure.

Adventures are important, especially now, in light of Manchester. People, horrendous, violent, destructive people, want to stop us, to scare us away from adventures. But the truth is adventures are what teaches us to be brave, to show empathy, to understand different cultures and not be afraid of what isn’t the same as us. How to rise above a tiny, and it is a tiny, deluded minority of individuals who will never know what real love and compassion is. Adventure boldly, prove them unimportant.

2.5

Marriage: The first 2.5 months (longest I’ve ever been married)

Having now been married for a grand total of two and a half months, I’ve decided this fully entitles me to write a post about what I’ve learned being a wife (!). It will be long and exhaustive to represent the many, many hours of married life I have under my belt. So here are the Top Five things I’ve gathered so far….

1) When I was younger I often read Erich Segal’s novel Love Story – mainly because it was pretty short and our copy had a wonderfully 70′s pop art image on the front. It had all sorts of wonderful elements to it – college life, young marriage, hidden illness and death – oh the delightful tragical-ness of it all. It also tried to teach me that being in love, means never having to say you’re sorry.

Well, 2 months of marriage has taught me that this is bullshit. While I can see the romance of that sentiment, you absolutely need to say you’re sorry. Speaking from experience, we tend to be far more ghastly, far more vicious, to those we love best; as opposed to work-colleagues or strangers. Yet, we are quicker to apologise to those types, never mind that they aren’t going to cook us dinner, dry our tears or split the bills (well not often anyway). Far more prudent to apologise to a spouse, who, let’s face it can turn the life-support machines off. I have a fear that the consequences of not saying sorry for bad behaviour or misdeeds can ripple down the ages and I want lots of ages.

So apologise and mean it when you ought. The making up is rather fun.

2) Compromise is not a mythical and far away kingdom. It’s more like the name of the next street over, you actually have to walk up and down it regularly, especially if you’re popping to the shops.

I learnt more about this when we were planning our little celebration recently. The celebration started life not having anything to do marriage, it was about growing hair etc. I had secret Pinterest boards and fantasies about flower crowns, it helped brighten the vegetative post chemo days.

Then we eloped and boom the party had another meaning too. Which meant another human (who I’d just promised to share everything with) suddenly started having opinions! I mean WTF?!? It took me a little while to get used to this new state of affairs. Obviously I was gracious and accommodating at every turn, it definitely was not when I learnt the importance of an apology.

However, at some point, when my version of events was not entirely tallying up to A’s version. I realised how lucky I was to have such a hands-on and interested partner. It would have been awful if he cared not a jot, simply grunting in response to the hundred paper cranes I folded.

3) Apparently married couples who hobby together stay together. I can testify to that – even when A and I split up, we still co-managed our allotment (which probably was an indication that we weren’t entirely done yet). The was often a lot of angry digging or weeding but neither of us backed away.

You always have something to talk about with shared hobbies but what I’m learning the other side of “I do” is; that having separate hobbies can be jolly useful too. While I’m sure A wishes I was more interested in bikes or space and while I sometimes wish I’d never pointed out to A. that he swims like a frog. The time and space away from each other means we are ever so pleased to see the other upon our return. Plus, as we don’t have a TV it gives us more topics to talk about…

4) That song from Guys and Dolls is wrong, you can’t “marry a man today and change his ways tomorrow”. Thankfully I figured this out pre-wedding. The fundamentals of a person cannot and will not change. You marry them and their inability to navigate (me) or their need to hit an inanimate object which has some how wronged them, e.g. the chair they stubbed their toe on (A).

It is far, far better to try to find these quirks endearing or, in a pinch, ignore them all together. But seriously folks, you picked the strawberry, if you really wanted the apple, pick the apple because flambé, bake or liquidise – that strawberry ain’t never going to be an apple. You and your fruit will end up rotten, and mouldy probably with incredibly low self-esteem, for reasons of poor fruit choice. (I’m writing this on a fast day and clearly have food on the brain)

5) There’s a scene in When Harry met Sally where Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby’s characters have been listening to the angst of their dating friends. Carrie turns to Bruno and says “promise me, I never have to be out there again”. The best bit about marriage thus far? Being legally bound to my best friend, who also happens to be really rather yummy. It’s awesome. I recommend it to anyone. While I don’t think it has entirely changed our relationship or how we feel about each other. The safety of never having to be “out there” – be that dating or job-hunting or a hospital waiting room – alone is liberating. But please pick someone as opposed to anyone.

Now A. is nearly home from work and I’m going to have to put all of the above into action because I nearly burnt down the flat today (electric stove vs. plastic chopping board). So perhaps number 6 on the list will be that you can’t divorce someone for being scatty. A is a subscriber to little blog so I’m hoping he’ll read this, shake his head and thank his lucky stars he loves a scatty woman or shake his head and realise that he loves me despite of my culinary pyrotechnics.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

We had a little celebration. Actually that’s underselling it as we had a lot to celebrate! It was overwhelming, in the best way, to be surrounded by all the people adore the most. We gave speeches, I’d not managed until the day to read mine without crying but I just about got through it. Dad and A gave lovely speeches, I definitely blubbed through them. It was a lovely, lovely day and not one I’ll forget. Below is the speech I gave, it’s just one big thank you, which is why I wanted the party in the first place! It’s a thank you now, to everyone who has ever read this little blog.

Well, these speeches seemed like a good idea at the beginning of this week, I was pretty smug, truth be told, I thought my love of writing, would make this easy. What I’ve been learning however, is that it’s actually very difficult to convey precisely what I want to, when faced with a room full of people I think the world of.

In many ways the message behind this speech is pretty simple, 10 seconds would suffice. It’s to say thank you. Thank you for coming today, thank you for helping us celebrate. But that’s too simple and I can’t let you all off the hook that easily….

This party started life as a bit of an idle daydream, enabled by Pinterest. I had to spend a great deal of time inside last summer, watching the world go by, not feeling as though I could participate. It became very important to throw a party so I could wear flowers in my hair (because I’d once again have hair) and so that I could see everyone I loved, in one room at one time. While I was ill, I was overwhelmed by just how many amazing people I had in my life – kind, generous and supportive people. It helped me count my considerable blessings to know I was so cared for. So this party became more than about flower crowns, it became about finding a way to tell all you lovely folk how grateful I have been for your support. So the first toast is to all of you and it is just a really big thank you. To everyone!

I’d also like to say a huge thank you to our families, for everything they do for us. Thank you for not freaking out when we rang you and told you we’d sneaked off and got married. It was to hardest secret for us to keep but because you have always been so supportive, we knew you’d be nothing but happy for us. I feel very lucky to have been born into the family I was and I feel very privilege to have joined the wonderful family I have.

I can’t let this moment pass without mentioning my mother. She was the one who taught me to count my blessings and what grace in the face of illness is all about. She told me not to marry until I was at least 30 and to marry a practical man. I didn’t always listened to my Mother but in this instance, I did. Hers is the face always missing from the party and the face I will always miss the most. Though I’m not too sure how cool she’d have been with an elopement…. but thank you Mama for marrying the best man you could, so I knew what to look for, for your fierce love and for all the advice, whether I listened or not.

There are two people in this room, who deserve so much more thanks than I would ever be able to extend here. And another of my blessings is they are now both legally obliged to LOVE ME, how lucky am I?! So I turn my attention to My father and to my A.

When you are in trouble there are no better hands to be holding yours, than those attached to these two humans.

The owner of the hand who has been holding mine the longest is an incredible human being. Words really do fail me when trying to express what I owe him and how grateful I am to have him. He is the kindest, calmest, smartest human I know and I really lucked out that I get to call him Pa. No matter what I have thrown at him, figuratively and (I’m sure as a teenager, literally) he has never dropped the ball. He has supported me, encouraged me and supplied me with a lot of cake. I have always known he was a super hero, but he really excelled himself last year, he was with me at every appointment, he listened to the anger and the fear, he took my grumpiness of the chin and made an impossible situation seem possible. When I was little he was the best guide a girl could have but I think I am most grateful that I get to know him as an adult, he’s the best friend a woman could have.

I always thought it would be impossible to find his equal, and here I have to count yet more blessings because I did.

While writing this speech, trying to come up with anecdotes, it became apparent that A and I are not conventionally romantic – one year we were only reminded that it was our anniversary when A’s mum, rang to ask if we were off somewhere nice for dinner – we were in Asda at the time, discussing cheese.

Neither one of us can remember the exact date we agreed to get married, suffice to say there was no big proposal. We decide together, one evening while Andy was chopping kale.

So far so not very Rom-Com.

No, our style of romance is a little different, it’s the work A puts into our allotment because it’s where we like to hang out together, it’s the fact that he’s my biggest cheerleader when I’m ready to throw in the towel, the thousands of nicknames he’s given me, the dances he does around the flat to make me smile, it’s the fact that he was the only one who could make me laugh during chemo, it was shaving my head and convincing me I was still lovely and it’s because he always remembered who I was and would be again, when all I could see was the sick, bald person in the mirror.

So no, we are not Rom-Com fans, we don’t fit that image. In truth, and here’s an another little known fact for you, A and I love incredibly bad blockbusters. The more implausible and poorly written the better. Which is why, so far this summer, we have watched people parched in a desert, shaken by earthquakes and chased by genetically modified dinosaurs. During one of these classic films, distracted from the razor sharp dialogue and nuanced plot, a question popped into my head – would I survive this situation? It was a question almost as quickly answered. Yes, because I’m a badass but also because the person who’d be standing next to me is awesome, he’s interested and interesting, he’s challenging, funny, gives the best hugs and most importantly in a blockbuster situation – he can do anything, he could even tame a velociraptor, I’m pretty sure. Together we are a fantastic team, he’s my best friend and when he is beside me, I am sure and I am certain, even when things go bump in the night

So Hollywood can keep it’s rom-coms and it’s blockbusters because Andy and I have faced our own monsters and natural disasters and we managed to make our own kind of romance out of that.

The thing that bugs me most about the movies, is that you get the happy ending but you never find out what happens next. So, I thought i’d finish with a verse from the poet and writer, who’s books lined my childhood walls;
Shel Silverstein

There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.

Surprise

So This Happened…

A and I are home from an adventure jet-lagged and muzzy with lack of sleep but very, very Happy.

Last year I introduced little Blog on Facebook with the phrase “so this happened”, it felt important to announce this very happy news the same way. Put some demons to rest, so to speak.

A and I got married at the Office of The County Clerk, New York City, just over a week ago. We kept it a secret, had just one, very lovely witness and had just about the best day ever!

The bride wore Banana Republic, The Groom wore Levis.

After the ceremony we ate Lobster Rolls, Skate Salad and drank Prosecco. We had fun in a Photo Booth. We then moved on to Cocktails at the Mandarin Oriental, which has the best views and very welcome air-con!

The exclusive after party was held in Central Park where we ate Cupcakes.

We had a million photos taken.

It may not be conventional, but it was a perfect day, a perfect wedding for us.

Oh and the bride is keeping her own name!

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