Time out: Fitting your own oxygen mask before assisting others

I’m sitting in a cafe in Montmartre.

From my table at the window I look out at a Sunday market in the tiny Place Lino Ventura. A full length mirror is placed outside a clothes stall directly in my line of vision. A middle aged woman trying on a leopardskin coat transforms before my eyes. She swings it this way and that, coming alive in front of the looking glass. She isn’t thinking about the shopping, the cooking or the week ahead. She is suddenly radiant in the light Parisian drizzle, imagining  where such a coat might take her.

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The Reluctant Grandmother

I have never been especially keen on the idea of being a grandmother.

Periodically my children would threaten me with it just for fun. I’m way too young, I’d say. Turns out I’m not as young as I thought. Or as immune to the lure of a newborn: first born of my firstborn, unwitting trailblazer of a new generation of my family, tiny repository of untold hopes and dreams.

black and white, baby, newborn, feet, grandmother | See more at www.diywoman.net
Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

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Coffee: the weak, the white and the extra hot

My father used to like his hot drinks hot and his cold drinks cold.

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Photo by Dave Michuda on Unsplash

He preferred his soup to be at palate-blistering temperatures well beyond normal human tolerance. But that was the way he liked it and that was the way it was served up to him. No skin off anyone’s nose – the roof of Dad’s mouth was the only potential victim here.

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You can thank me later: How diywoman selected her own funeral music and saved her children hours of work

‘I’ve found this guy who turns CDs into vinyl.’

I came across this sentence the other day while looking up material for my ‘gap year’ memoir. It was in an email I had sent to a friend in February 2015. I didn’t know it then, but it marked the start of  my career as an occasional compiler of funeral music. Occasional as in ‘infrequent’. Funeral music is always ‘occasional’ in the other sense.

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In praise of consequential strangers

Today I cried down the phone to a stranger.

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Photo by Louise Blythe on Unsplash

It’s not the first time I’ve done this. During my two years in the emotional wilderness following my separation, I regularly cried in front of people I’d only just met. Real estate agents, bank managers, municipal officers, shop assistants—no one was safe. Some of them – the consequential strangers – made a lasting difference to my life.

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Speaking up

No matter the size of a family, the role of each of its members will be unique.

The good girl, the pleaser, little girl, speaking up | See more at diywoman.net

If the firstborn is a dictator, the second will be something else. Once a job description has been filled, another must be created. One might be the high achiever, the next might be the peace-maker and so on. I was the third of five children; the good girl; the little sister who knew her place; the older sister who indulged her younger brothers; the good student who wanted to do well. Let’s face it – I was the pleaser. My twin desires to do well and to please instilled in me a rather suspect work ethic. Combined with my ‘look at moy’ attitude, I must have driven my school friends crazy.

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