Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

As long as your happiness is not dependent on afternoon tea. Or small children.

Yesterday I was 35. I remember being very excited about approaching 30 – I’d done interesting things in my twenties and felt I’d spent the decade well, and we had plans for a fabulous life.  And then suddenly I found out I was expecting Big Girl and everything changed.

And, it turned out, changed more dramatically than I could have anticipated.  Here I am, stepping into the second half of my thirties a divorced mother-of-two.  My thirties have *not* gone to plan.  And 35 feels significantly different to 30.  30 still felt young.  While 35 doesn’t feel old, somewhere over the hill – but not *far* far away – is middle age.  And I’m not sure how I feel about it.

My birthday was lovely in parts.  Big Girl and Small Girl argued about who would get to open which of my presents.  Astonishingly, neither argued strongly for it to be me.  Birthdays have always been an opportunity to celebrate the person whose birthday it is, to make them feel loved and special, particularly when the person whose birthday it is is me.  And, for ten years, I had someone doing that for me.  This is my third birthday after Ex-Husband, and the first one I had no-one come and spend the day with me to help me celebrate myself.  I missed it.

We went to Uppermill, a little town in Saddleworth which is really quite lovely.  We played in the playground.  We teetered across stepping stones, Small Girl giggling all the way.  We went for afternoon tea, my treat to myself to make myself feel special and celebrated.

Except we should have booked.  Afternoon tea needed to be booked 48 hours in advance, because it has some items which are not on the menu.

I did not cry.

But I wanted to.  I wanted to cry until someone realised this was important and fixed it for me.  Because it’s my birthday, and I’m a single mum, and have to look after myself, and this was my attempt to make something from the horribleness of being alone because my husband left me, and we’ve come such a long way, and…

The woman behind the counter stood impassively as I said none of those things.  I ordered cake and chocolate milkshake for Big Girl and Small Girl, and a cream tea for myself.  Small Girl refused the chocolate milkshake because she is contrary, and neither of them actually wanted their cake, and Big Girl just wanted to eat the maltesers from the top of my cake, and my birthday seemed to be sliding into a disaster.

It’s time to stop living a shadow-life, one where I congratulate myself on living bravely despite my circumstances. To ditch the notion that there is a life I was entitled to.  To stop comparing my life to how it *should* be and enjoy what it *is*.  I had lots of lovely presents and cards yesterday, and 61 people wished me a happy birthday on Facebook. I got to spend a day with my beautiful funny girls balancing on stepping stones and exploring and eating cake.  In the evening I went out with friends, drank cider and performed something I’d written at a live literature event.  I am not a victim of anything.

I think it’s true that I have been brave.  What happened to me, when Ex-Husband left, was shitty, and carried on being shitty for quite a while.  But my life now does not, generally, require extraordinary courage.  I’m not a delicate little flower battling against huge odds.

And I do not need special treatment from women in cupcake shops.


Happily ever after ever-after

After stopping dating, I felt euphoric all weekend.  I felt as if I was on drugs.  I only realised *how* stressful dating had been once I stopped worrying about it.  “What’s this weird feeling? ‘Relaxed’? Really? I like this!”  And I felt as if a whole world of possibilities had opened up to me once again.  Of course I hadn’t put my life on hold once I started dating, but it took up so much time and brain-space (both of which are already quite limited) and there was a sense in which my future felt less certain and not entirely within my control – there were possibilities out there which weren’t entirely dependent on my choices.  Altogether, I felt stymied.  So I was wildly excited about yesterday, Monday, a whole day and night free of children, and people, and events.  Nothing to do.  Nothing at all.  Nothing.  Nada. Zilch.

I stopped dating because I wanted more time to do the things I love: writing, sewing.  I stopped dating because I wanted to do astonishing things, unencumbered by a relationship.  What I actually did with my glorious empty day was: tidy the living room (well, you might as well when there’s no-one to untidy it for two days); ring a builder; do some laundry; and watch 9 episodes of Doll House, a Joss Whedon sci-fi tv series from 2009. Not something I’ve been desperately wanting to watch.  Not something brilliant.  Just… something.  If I *were* Joan of Arc, what I would have done is updated my Facebook status with ‘Thinking about making Charles King of France, lol’ and gone back to eating crisps.

I also spent the day checking my phone.  Has anyone updated Facebook? Not in the last ten minutes.  Why has no-one texted me? Because you dumped the only person who texted you frequently, on the grounds that you wanted more time on your own.  How are you liking being on your own now, eh?

The truth is that I like being on my own.  But I also like company.  And I measure my worth, my efficacy, my value to the world, by the opinion of others.  If people tell me I’m great, I believe them.  If they tell me I’ve done something well, I feel it must be true.  If people spend time with me, enjoy my company, I feel worthwhile.  But when I’m on my own, when no-one is paying me attention, what makes me significant? What makes me matter? Without God, or any kind of external validating agency, (and at the moment I think I *am* without God) it’s hard not to feel a sense of nihilism.  We’re born, we live, we die.  Hopefully we have a positive effect on people we encounter, the people we love, but then they die.  And what, then, is the point?

I think this is what I want to explore now.  Over the past few years, I’ve found resources in myself to survive a crisis.  And now, having done some dating which felt, effectively, like a mini-relationship, I don’t feel so much like I’m post-Ex-Husband.  Perhaps I’m no longer just recovering from my marriage breakdown.  (My sister says she certainly no longer thinks of me as ‘post-Ex-Husband’ and that I should stop whining and get on with it.  Though that *may* be my interpretation of her sentiments).  Stopping dating, I am making choices about me, and my life, and what I want to do with it.  I’ve been reading two books by Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence and How to be aloneOne of her themes in both books is that although our society prizes individualism, both silence and solitude are somehow seen as dangerous: indicators of madness, badness or sadness. And it’s hard to escape the insidious cultural belief that ‘happy ever after’ only ever *truly* arrives with Prince Charming.

Just now I want to spend time on my own, doing the things I love (and I am really hoping that yesterday my brain just wanted a bit of downtime and tomorrow it will be motivated to do more than watch television and eat Nutella out of the jar) and working out what my value is to myself, what makes me feel worthwhile, whether it really matters that there’s some grand point to my existence.  And, conversely, I want to spend more time finding and making community,  building relationships which matter.  Finding euphoria in solitude and silence and society.

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Fish sans bicycle

So I did some more dating.  I met a nice bloke and we dated for a couple of months.  Last time I was single, I’m sure only Americans dated.  But now we’re all at it.

Last night I emailed him to tell him it isn’t working for me. I really don’t know why.  He should be perfect: interesting, geeky, patient, literate, knows how to use an apostrophe.  We have a nice time together.  I like him.  But for some reason, it isn’t clicking.  It just doesn’t feel right.

It became apparent early on that I have some issues.  Every time he referred to us as ‘we’ I felt physically sick.  This doesn’t surprised me – I’ve spent a long time training myself to say ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ since Ex-Husband left, and I’m not sure how I feel about getting back into this ‘we’ business.  I’m not keen on commitment.  ‘Probably’ and ‘maybe’ and ‘possibly’ have become three of my most-used words while talking to him.  I didn’t want to meet his family or friends, and I can’t really imagine involving him in any of my life which involves anyone other than me.  It’s been painful disentangling Ex-Husband from my family and my social life.  Why would I re-entangle anyone else?  I have serious trust issues.  The normal things, and then some quite mental ones.  He has a four-year-old.  Or so he says.  Does he really? Does he really agree with me on various issues, or is he making it up? His flat looks quite temporary – has he really split up from his ex?.  Given my history, and the experiences of friends I have made since my ex-husband left me for someone else, it’s not surprising that I worry about these sorts of things, but it is quite tiring.

Part of the problem is my lack of free time.  I have three blocks of two nights without Big Girl and Small Girl every four weeks.  To make a relationship work, I think I would realistically need to spend one of those two evenings with whoever I’m seeing.  But I also want to see my friends.  And I need time by myself to do all the other things I love doing (and occasionally some housework) and it just doesn’t add up.

Part of the problem is my attachment to romantic notions of singleness (which I know is not a problem many people have).  I like being single.  I like the idea of going out and doing astonishing things, unhampered by attachments, like Joan of Arc riding into battle on a big white horse.  But (a) it didn’t end so well for her and (b) I do already have two small attachments and (c) I’m not sure there are hordes of people out there waiting to flock to whatever banner it is I would be carrying.  There’s a risk that I’ll just end up wandering around, lonely and carrying a flag.

But ultimately, I think, the issue was that, here, now, he wasn’t right for me.  If I had been excited enough about seeing him, I think all this would have been surmountable.  I don’t feel regretful – I think I’ve made the right decision.  But I am frustrated that this has not worked out; that I’ve met someone who should be perfect for me and yet appears not to be.  That we are offered stories of romance and happy-ever-after, but in reality inhabit lives which are far more complicated.  That I wonder if I am damaged beyond repair.

However, I’m young.  I’m not even thirty-five.  I’ve only been single for a couple of years.  For the first time in my life I have a good idea of who I am and what I want.  I have things I love doing.  I want to write – currently about mermaids and time-travel and also possibly something about fairy tales.  I’m applying for membership of the Quakers, and I am engaging with ideas and action and growing.  I still really enjoy sewing while listening to Radio 4.  I want to enjoy this.



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Story Slamming

Quite a long time ago, when I was trying to work out how to spend less time crying and more time being awesome, I decided I’d like to write more.  Last night I took part in the Manchester Flashtag Short Story Slam.  Here’s how it happened…

One of my friends, who organises various literary events around Manchester, posted about the Short Story Slam on Facebook. Contestants read short stories in pairs, and the audience decides which they prefer, with the winner going through into the next round.  The stories are *short* – 150, 200 and 250 words respectively.  I like a challenge, a deadline, a competition and motivation to do something interesting.  I also believe I like standing up in front of people and talking. Well, until about an hour before I have to do it.  So I entered.

And then I tried to write something, and realised I have nothing interesting to say and 150 is really not many words, and messaged my friend suggesting that perhaps they would be better with participants who can actually write.  He said of course they could find someone else, but the previous years’ winner was a newbie.  I said I’d think about it.

Lying in bed that night, an idea came to me.  I wrote it down.  The next day I did some re-writing.  And some editing.  And it was ok.  That night, another idea: ‘Once upon a time…’.  More writing, more editing.  Game on!  My third story was a little trickier – not so much an idea as merging a couple of experiences.  And then some more writing and editing, underlining words I was unhappy with and scowling at them, willing them to change into something good; reading my story aloud and trying to work out why I hated it quite so much; wondering if they would make any sense to anyone existing outside my brain; knowing that no matter how ok I thought they were, five minutes before reading them in public, scales would fall from my eyes and I would see them for the dire drivel they were, and yet I would still have to stand up and read them to a critical audience.  Finally, on Monday night, taking the one story I didn’t like, trying to work out what it was that I didn’t like (there was no real story there and the ending was rubbish – minor flaws, I’m sure you’ll agree) and which three words needed adding (labyrinth, rapacious, ravenous) and then, finally, I was happy.  That sense of relief, that I had done everything I needed to, that even if everyone in the audience hated them, they were mine and they were ok.

So I went to the event and I felt terror and despair, but the other contestants were lovely. And I listened to them read their stories, and I read mine.  Sadly I fell at the first hurdle, and didn’t make it through to the second round.  It’s a cruel world. But the atmosphere was great, and people were kind, and, once I’d stopped sulking and started drinking, I enjoyed the rest of the event.  The standard of writing was incredibly high.  I learnt a lot: performance and delivery matter.  People like funny stories more than serious stories.    And what I really discovered is how much I like writing, and how much I really really want to do this again.

So, here they are my three stories…

150 words

I lie awake, making a zombie survival plan: how to escape with my daughter.  Through the attic onto the roof? Into the garden?  I could put her in the pushchair and run.  But where would we go?  There would be no buses.  We’d run out of nappies.  And what if the pushchair gets stuck?

The zombies stagger down the street, closing in on all sides. I wrestle with the pushchair straps. Shaking, dizzy, blood thumping in my ears, I look for somewhere to escape, yanking at my baby, panic mounting, weeping with fear and desperation.  And that treacherous thought, that perhaps I can save only one of us. As I feel their groaning breath on my neck and their fingers on my scalp, would I choose my daughter?

I lie in bed, breathless, listening for the shuffle, shuffle, shuffle of undead feet in the street below.

200 words

This is a library of stories: every story which has ever been written, some stories which are yet to be written, and some stories which can never be written.  No-one knows where the first story came from, or where the library ends.

Readers enter the labyrinth of shelves seeking answers.  Everyone approaches the library with a need.  No-one returns unchanged: some do not return at all.  Some find the stories they need; others the stories they deserve. Readers seek tales of heroism, legends to give courage, stories to change the world.

But there is a price to pay for these stories which nourish and comfort you. As you read, the library’s tentacles drift through your mind, looking for delicacies to feed the next searchers, memories you won’t miss until you realise they are gone. You can’t remember your daughter’s first words? Or the pain of a broken heart? (Though you will never forget what he said, the sting is somehow gone).  Your story has been extracted, consumed and digested, added to a book somewhere, coalescing with other stories to feed the ravenous, rapacious library.

250 words

During bath-time my phone rings. I listen to the voicemail later: “Hi, it’s me. Sorry I missed your call earlier.  Hope you’re ok. Give me a ring when you get this”.  I stare at my phone, confused.  My call?  Maybe – I check my call log.  My son, playing with my phone.

I wonder how you can call me like this, so lightly, as if nothing has changed, when I have not heard from you at all this past year.  This terrible year, when my life fell apart.  When I needed all the friends I could get, and you were not there.


I heard, through friends, that you ‘did not want to take sides’. Funny, because I never asked you to. How could I? You never contacted me. Would asking how I was have constituted taking sides?  Asking me if I needed any help, with my two children under two and my lame and limping, devastated heart – would that have been taking sides?  Yet meeting his girlfriend, making friends with her, the girlfriend who replaced me remarkably, indecently quickly: apparently that was not ‘taking sides’.

Right now, I only trust the people who are willing to make a judgement, have an opinion – apparently not you.  So I restricted your access to my Facebook profile. But I couldn’t bear to unfriend you.  It’s ridiculous really: a tiny thing.  But I felt I had lost enough already.

I pause.  I listen to your voicemail again. I delete it.

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This post mainly explains how my whole life is a self-inflicted disaster. I’m mostly ok with that.

I’ve seen a few posts on Facebook recently linking to articles about how smartphones are, to varying degrees, destroying modern civilisation.  Particularly parents with smartphones.  Apparently, if your child sees you using your iPhone at any point, they will know you no longer love them.  They will be more damaged by you not listening to them while checking emails on your phone than you not listening to them while cooking, looking at the newspaper, listening to the radio or their sister or just because it is not possible to listen to anyone under five years old every single time they talk to you without your brain melting.

Actually, I have no idea what the articles say because I don’t read them.  I have enough guilt going on.  I just read the headlines, and the comments my friends make when they post them.  But, despite not really understanding people who are regularly parted from their phones – you know, the people who don’t text back immediately because they haven’t read your text because their phone is in a different room? Who are these people and how do they live? – I’ve decided to become one of them.  For a while.  Between coming home from nursery and putting the girls to bed, I will leave my phone in my bedroom (yes, where the girls can find it while they’re playing upstairs and ring people in Australia.  Friends in Australia, if I ring you, DON’T ANSWER. It isn’t me and I can’t afford it).  Instead of checking Facebook and emails constantly, I will be paying attention to my children, occasionally listening to them, and cooking dinner.

It’s not just about Big Girl and Small Girl though.  It’s about me.  I don’t judge my value as a person by how many friends I have on Facebook (420, if you’re interested.  That’s a lot, right? Look at all those people who like me! Though I wonder how many of them started hiding my posts when I posted about Small Girl pooing in the bath).  But occasionally I find myself checking my phone, hoping for some kind of communication from the outside world, some sense that people are liking what I’ve put, that feeling that people want to know me.  And sometimes, if things are a bit quiet, I find myself checking more and more frequently.  I’m not neurotic, but when you live with a two-year-old who behaves as if she hates you (it’s not personal, she hates the whole world) and a four-year-old who cries and says she is no longer your friend because you put milk on her cereal when she wanted to do it herself, there’s a desire to engage with people who can carry out social interactions in a sane and reasonable manner; to feel liked for myself rather than my ability to meet the stringent, irrational and unstable demands of two mini-tyrants.

I’m reading a book I borrowed from the Quaker Meeting library about simplicity: one of the five values Quakers try to live out.  The other four are peace, truth,equality and environmental sustainability.  I know where I am with the others: I have some issues with a complete commitment to peace which I still need to iron out; I agree in principle with being truthful but it’s a bit tricky sometimes; I’m passionate about equality, particularly feminism; and I absolutely think we need to live more sustainably, but it’s hard.  Simplicity, on the other hand, fascinates me.  It’s about getting rid of all the things which distract us from the important things in life, whatever they are, and I crave it almost as strongly as I hold on to the massive amounts of clutter in my life.

Simplicity does not come naturally to me.  I am a hoarder.  I believe that it’s safer not to throw anything away, because you’ll only want it.  I secretly hope that one day I will do something of enough significance that someone will archive all my papers, so I keep them for that day.  I’m a procrastinator. I love Facebook, and wandering round the internet reading debates on Mumsnet about parent and child parking spaces rather than going to bed.  I think life is honestly better if you can see everything you own on your kitchen table rather than tidied away.  I’m mildly interested in everything. I would always rather watch West Wing than do something useful.  I start new loaves of bread before finishing the old ones, and leave the last few slices in the bag going mouldy.  Along with the last inch of ketchup and the remaining crumby scrapings of butter in the fridge, and half a tin of baked beans I didn’t use and now can’t move because it’s growing a new species of mould.  I’d rather start something new than tidy away the last thing I was doing.  And I live with two small children who haven’t learnt anything positive about housework from living with me.   (Fortunately for them, they have two parents, and their other parent is much better at this sort of thing than I am).

But I see the idea of a simple life, and it attracts me.  My house is sliding into chaos.  It is entropic. I can imagine that if I stopped wasting so much of my precious time on meaningless things which are not really satisfying (deleting emails from companies I was never that interested in; desperately trying to find my railcard which is buried under a ton of paper on the table; checking facebook again for the tenth time before bed despite the fact that there is nothing new) I could spend the time doing other things I like to do: writing, sewing, sleeping, having proper friendships with people I talk to, doing things which feel significant.

So stepping back from checking my phone a million million times is a small part of learning this discipline.  It’s tiny steps forward, and altering little habits, and looking for the things which resonate with me and doing them first, clearing away the things which matter too little and the things which matter too much.  I’m not expecting to become a monk, or a minimalist, or even to have a tidy kitchen.  But I’m hoping to spend more time being the sort of me I like best.

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Ongoing Awesomeness

If my journey into single-parenting was a pregnancy, I’d be expecting a baby any day now. 9 months ago Ex-Husband left me. While it doesn’t feel that momentous, I notice the date each month – but it doesn’t make me cry any more.

And as far as single-parenting goes, I’ve got really good at managing two children, making decisions for them, living with mountains of washing up and inventing meals from 5 unrelated items in my fridge because I’ve failed to order shopping yet again.

Co-parenting is a different matter. We’ve not got the hang of that yet. Trying to make decisions about your children with someone who has a completely different idea about what they need and no longer gives a shit about what you want is, it’s fair to say, a challenge. Trying to separate out what is best for them from how I feel is really hard – but I am doing a good job.

And what about making my life more awesome? I feel like I’m falling down there. I’m existing, but my life is miserable. Well, I say it’s miserable. A couple of weeks ago I went out for my birthday – drinks and cocktails at The Cornerhouse followed by dancing at Fab Cafe. And this weekend I went to Chill Factore and threw myself down a snowy slope on various different bits of equipment, followed by food and cocktails at Hard Rock cafe. It sounds pretty miserable, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s just the other bits. The rest of my life. I blame the West Wing. I’ve become addicted to the passive escapism, the dream of my life being meaningful in the way that only fictional members of a US administration can hope for.

And while my original goals (writing, sewing, climbing, learning) are not some kind of Holy Grail for a satisfying existence, they were things I enjoyed doing. Climbing is on hold – I need to see how my free time will look when new contact arrangements for the children start in September – before I commit to a course to learn how to belay and mess about with ropes.

But sewing – I’m missing the satisfaction of spending a few hours creating something that I’ll then never wear or use. So I’m setting myself a goal. Here are two pairs of jeans which have worn into holes. I’m going to use them to create two new items in the next month six weeks or so – watch this space…



Six months on…

It’s six months today since Ex-Husband left me.  Last week I had a bit of a wobble. But you know what?  I’m actually doing really well.  When he first left I wanted to die because it hurt so much – I did not know it was possible to be so badly hurt.  Now I am glad I didn’t die. Here are some good things that have happened over the past six months:

  1. I have bought some new crockery, decided I’m not that keen on it but not really wasted that much time worrying about it.  One day I’ll buy some more, and hopefully I’ll make a better choice.
  2. I have started going climbing.
  3. I have learnt how to love being with my two children most of the time.
  4. I’ve worked out, all by myself (oh, and with advice from most of my friends on Facebook), how to get Little Girl to sleep
  5. I have learnt to pick my battles – and to fight them.
  6. I have discovered, and been overwhelmed by, the number of people who care about me and quite how much they are willing to do to help me.
  7. I have cried while pushing a pram along the street, half way up some stairs in a church and in the kitchen at work.  I have cried as often and as loudly as I damn well pleased.  My tear ducts are impressively clean.
  8. I’ve made a sewing room.  I don’t really have time to use it but I like to know it’s there.
  9. I’ve been to a poetry reading.  I quite liked it.
  10. I’ve worked out how to replace a toilet seat, how to fix a blind and how to lower a cot base.
  11. I’ve finally decided which oven I want to buy to replace the one in my kitchen which has never worked properly in the six years I’ve owned this house.  And I have a plan (two, actually) for finding someone to fit it.
  12. I’ve had a Christmas party. Just because I wanted to
  13. I’ve lost weight.  I wouldn’t recommend this diet, but it’s definitely a benefit.
  14. I’ve dealt with juggling breastfeeding a baby and vomiting.  Twice.  Seriously, once you can get through that, you can get through anything.  I am invincible.

And there are a lot of people I want to thank: the friends who, when Ex-Husband first left and I kept telling them it was all my fault, kept arguing with me until I finally got it. It wasn’t all my fault.  The friends who listened to me talk about what happened and how I felt about it repeatedly.  The friends who looked after my children so I could sleep or go to mediation with Ex-Husband.  My Home Start volunteer.  My friends who have invited me to stay.  My friend who came and cleaned my house for me.  The friends who brought me chocolate in the early days and lasagne more recently.  The friends who talked to Ex-Husband and tried to convince him to try and make our marriage work.  The friends who got incredibly angry on my behalf. My parents.  And my best friend.  And everyone who has read this blog, commented on it, told me that they like reading it.  Thanks.  I like writing it.  It helps me to reframe things more positively, encourages me to stick to my goals; and helps me make sense of my life.

Here’s to the next six months!



Crashing, burning, and rising, phoenix-like, from the ashes

Monday is the six-month anniversary of Ex-Husband leaving. I was building up to a triumphant post about how far I’ve come, what I’ve achieved, just how amazing my life is and how happy I am.

Unfortunately, the past couple of days have been shitty. I had my hopes raised and smashed, and got quite badly hurt. I think I thought I was impervious to more hurt. I’m not.

So what do you do when you get hurt again? First of all you cry. In the kitchen. At work. Then you go home and put your children to bed. Then you cry some more, ring your best friend and tell her how shit life is, and how unfair it is. Then you reflect on how doing things to make your life better doesn’t necessarily make you feel better. And then you wonder what to do next.

Well, I did plan to go climbing tonight. I didn’t exactly want to, as work is really tiring, but there’s free coaching and I didn’t want to not go in case I just never went again. And then one of my friends mentioned an event he’s organised at Blackwell’s bookshop at Manchester Uni. He organises events every so often and I can’t go because I have the children. Tonight I don’t have children.

So I’m going to listen to some poets I have never heard of and not drink free beer (because I don’t like beer – what are the chances of there being free mojitos too?) and mix with the Manchester literati, who can marvel at my eclectic dress sense – what happens when you mix work clothes and climbing clothes… I’m hoping to have fun, and maybe even buy a book.


Welcome to Project Awesome

In October, my husband left me.  Shit! Suddenly, unexpectedly, I found myself a single parent to a 4-month-old and a 22-month-old.  So I did what anyone else would do – I cried.  For four weeks, I cried whenever I felt like it: walking down the road pushing a pram and wailing; half way down the stairs in a church building, sobbing – fortunately I’m very good at crying and have little shame about it.

Then I stopped crying and started raging.  This felt better but it was quite tiring, particularly with a baby who liked feeding every two hours through the night, and didn’t like sleeping in her own bed.

Christmas arrived with the gift of laryngitis.  The New Year brought January and 2012 (Olympics! Woo! Yeah!) and the realisation that this wasn’t going to go away, and my husband wasn’t going to come back, and the life I thought I was going to have was probably not going to happen.

So I decided I’d have a good life anyway and after a little help from Psychologies magazine, I set some goals – thought about what I like doing; what I’d like to achieve; what I’d be doing if time and money were no object; what I’d be doing if I knew I’d be a success.

  • I want to get out of the house by myself, do some exercise, get fitter, meet new people.  Inspired by once free-climbing on the Great Orme in Doc Martens aged 17 and not falling to my death, I’d like to try climbing.
  • I want to use my brain again – I love thinking about and discussing ideas. I’m hoping to study something – and eventually finish the masters I was working towards when I found out I was pregnant.
  • I’d like to be more creative and to develop a skill, so I’m going to get out my sewing machine and make things. Probably not very well, as I’m not one for straight lines or anything requiring manual dexterity, but I’ve signed up for Pinterest and I’m collecting lots of inspiring ideas for things I’ll probably never get round to doing.
  • And I used to write. If I could do anything, I’d write a novel. A story that would make you cry and feel your life will never be the same.  If I could do anything, anything at all, I’d be Audrey Niffenegger and spend the rest of my life knowing I’ve written ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’.  However, as that seems unlikely to happen, I’m going to settle for starting with this blog and seeing where I go from there. I’m hoping that as I get more sleep and more practice, my writing will become more interesting – so bear with me.

So that’s Project Awesome – making my life the best it can be. Feel free to drop in, see how I get on, and maybe share your own ideas about what would make your life the best it can be.  Or even suggest things you think I might like to try – suddenly I find myself with everything* open to me and I think it might be fun…

*Everything subject to the demands and constraints of a toddler and a baby, that is.