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As the wrinkles spread and the boobs head south, we still feel likes teenagers inside don’t we? Today I have a guest post from The Undercover Granny, on getting old, grey hair, and staying positive…

When I was young and heard old ladies saying they still felt 18, I used to snort with derision. How could this possibly be true? Surely there is some kind of old person’s switch that flicks the moment you reach 50 and thoughts of music, clothes and romance are replaced by a desire to knit, grow lavender and tut loudly at anyone having even the tiniest bit of fun.

Now 52 and a granny myself, I realise this is, of course, complete nonsense. I still feel as if I’m in my early twenties and it’s only the odd creak of my bones and the strands of grey in my hair that remind me I am no longer a mere slip of a girl.

When my son was small he embarrassed me hugely in a queue in a shop by asking loudly why old ladies all had the same haircut and if they all went to the same hairdresser. It is perhaps this alone that has left me determined to keep my hair longish forever and not succumb to the pressure to have it teased into a white helmet.

In most respects I feel no different now to how I did in my younger years. But it is undeniable that growing older brings with it a sense of peace.

In your teens and early twenties there’s a real immediacy to every problem. If you might have to miss a party it can feel like the end of the world. If a boyfriend is drifting away it feels, momentarily at least, as if your life is over.

With age, however, you learn that you won’t die if you don’t buy that gorgeous yellow mini skirt and, in fact, having some money in the bank or not running up an overdraft is a lot better for your emotional wellbeing.

In essence, I believe you are the age you feel – as long as you look after your body and mind – and that it can be really freeing to leave behind the tiring drama of youth. Just make sure you retain a sense of optimism and the feeling that anything is possible.

I’d love to hear how you feel on the subject.

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This evening I’m at a new writing group at The Bristol Folk House called The Steady Table.

The idea behind it is to give people the space and time just to write, be it poetry, short stories, or a J K Rowling style wizardy blockbuster. All you need is a steady table right? The trouble is, I’m so used to ‘making the most’ of every minute, of squeezing every bit of work time out of the day, that the idea of three whole hours just to write creatively is a bit daunting. I feel almost guilty, as though indulging in a passion for fiction is just that, an indulgence.

That’s the point of the group though isn’t it? Expressing your creativity should be a perfectly valid use of time, and we need to accept this, and not be afraid to embrace it. Tonight though, I’m easing myself in gently and writing this post instead. It sort of counts doesn’t it?

*looks doubtful*

The group is great – a fascinating, diverse mix of people, including a man called John who eats pizza with a spoon* – and I’m sure that I’m going to enjoy the time out once I get over the fact that I’m allowed to write made up stories. Seriously – fiction – what’s that about? You’re allowed to tell actual lies!

I love the idea of going somewhere different, somewhere special to write. If you’re the type of person who can work on their own, there are of course loads of options available – forums, online groups and flexible distance learning creative writing courses – but I work from home all week. Coming out is a treat.

On my way over in the car I did think up an idea for a story, just in case they wouldn’t let me sit down without a synopsis, but I haven’t quite got around to writing any of it down yet. I have had a cup of tea and a very nice chocolate brownie though. It would seem there are some things I feel less guilty indulging in.

If you’d like to join me to do some scribbling on a Tuesday evening,  follow The Steady Table on twitter.

*John eyes me curiously when I look up from my typing and ask if he spells his name with an ‘h’.

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“I read your blog today in my free period,” said Bee, as I prepared her a wholesome dinner of beans on toast. “It wasn’t that great. I don’t really like it when you try to be serious. No offence. Constructive criticism and all that.”

Indeed. Such tact and diplomacy these teenagers have.

“You just like it though when I write down funny things that you’ve said don’t you?” I replied.

“Well yeah, cos that’s the only bit that’s funny.”

I decide to call her bluff. “Go on then,” I challenge her, “say something funny.”

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When you’re feeling properly down in the dumps, there is nothing more likely to make you want to stab someone in the face than hearing the words ‘cheer up’.

Well meaning as they may be, the kind of people who tell you just to ‘try and be a bit more positive about things’ really just don’t get it.

Or do they? Can the way you think about things change the way you feel?

There’s a lot of research that says that positive thinking can actually have a direct impact on happiness, and that practising being grateful really can make you feel better about your life. A quick google search came up with this interesting article from Oliver Burkeman, about thinking yourself happy, which really explains it all much better than I could, so instead I’m just going to show you a picture: View Post

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What’s in a name? A rose by any other name is alleged to smell just as sweet after all, so does it make a difference?

I’ve hosted a couple of guest posts recently about choosing baby names, but today I want to talk about titles.

The BBC are reporting today of a town in France that has banned the use of the word Mademoiselle, on the back of a nationwide campaign by feminist groups to ban the word everywhere.

I am behind them 100% and all in favour of a similar spring clean of values in this country.

Why on earth in a society that claims to strive for gender equality would you discriminate between men and women in such an obvious way? Why should women have to define themselves by their marital status, by calling themselves Miss or Mrs, while men are allowed to be a Mr regardless of whether they are married or not? View Post

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