52and40/14 Benediction


We saw Collateral Beauty.  The film whisked me back ten years to a hell of a week.  Mum had been admitted to hospital in Aberdeen with a DVT.  My son had his sixth birthday party.  I hadn’t organised a thing for Halloween.

The morning after cobbled together trick or treating, Mum called from hospital and gently explained she had terminal cancer.

The world stopped as grief started.







Who I’d been until then died with her and (slowly, painfully) a new gratitude for life was born.  Heather 2.0.  An unwanted, bittersweet fresh start.




Read more about #52and40 here.

52and40/13 Staging Interventions

I’m battling to feel Christmassy.  The weather’s telling my senses it’s Autumn.  The bagels in the cupboard and alarm clock scream that school’s still in.  My diary’s saying it’s a few days before my annual crying at the song in The Polar Express which I love but will make the rest of the family roll their eyes in an agony of stretching tolerance.


Emergency measures are called for;

  1. Buble’ on Spotify
  2. Discussions with tiny nephew re Santa
  3. Deployment of horrific sweater
  4. Rising wine levels



Read all about #52and40 here.


I’m working on clearing a great big thing right now.  It’s tightly bound with a lot of the things I thought about last year along the themes of self-actualisation, self-esteem and self-sabotage.  The thing I’m clearing is the programming of a few hundred ideas and memories that all lead to one beautifully pleated but ultimately useless conclusion about womanhood and martyrdom being intertwined and about my time somehow being less valuable than my husbands or that of my kids (and, on some days, that of my neighbours, friends, yadda yadda, you get the idea…).  The bottom line is that I seem to have a default position of being quite keen on pushing myself to the end of the list and then moaning when I find myself, quelle surprise, grasping at the farts of my dreams.  In essence, I still have some dodgy software on board and it’s fucking up my printer.

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As my kids start to really think about their futures as adults I’m acutely aware of bunging in as much good modelling as I can before they take wing.  I want them to see that home is a place they can come back to in any version of themselves.  I want them to see that they need creativity like they need vegetables, movement, sunlight and laughter.  I want them to witness that all people are equal until someone starts playing out a scenario that oppresses others or oppresses themselves and that often that oppression is unintentional but to never become complicit in it.

So how to model all of that?  I find the answer is increasingly simple – by living it.

You’d be forgiven for thinking all of this sounds familiar because you’re right.  I’ve been here before.  It’s a station my train frequently pulls into because I find this deprogramming work needs constantly revised.  And why wouldn’t it?  Every time we switch on the telly, see a billboard or thumb through magazines we’re fed messages that women do children, cleaning, sex and body hate while men are for work, play, money and adventure.  A huge percentage of older people in our society reaffirm constantly that gender balance is something new age to have a wee giggle at.  So I figure that until the messages going in are balanced we’ll have to keep re-balancing them for ourselves.

I remember the first time I went for a run.  I was shit at it.  I had to do it again and again and again and again (repeat for about 2.5 years) until I started to feel like it was part of me – that the being a runner was at least as ingrained as the not being a runner.  Forming new habits takes time, especially when we have a whole cacophony of crap going on in our thoughts urging us to jump off the merry go round and into the crash mat every time we get disorientated.  The thing that makes me persist is the idea that I really want the result because intuition is determined that it’s the right thing and who the hell said it would be easy anyway?  

My thoughts are playing hide and seek on this whole deprogramming sexism thing.  It reminds me of standing in the playground at school when I was wee, turning 360 on the spot and trying to catch a glimpse of any movement of someone else in the game who was trying to get back to base without my detection.  Sometimes it was the flash of a jacket sleeve that didn’t match any of the other sleeves in a gaggle of girls.  Sometimes it was the glimpse of a bare knee above a white sock hiding among a huddle of grey trouser legged boys.  Sometimes it was someone’s face appearing from halfway up the corner of a white harled wall and then snatching backwards again, out of sight.


I think we have to train ourselves to keep seeing it, to start remarking on it every single time in order that it gets absolutely no sanctuary in our decisions or changing self-image.  To scan the playground and notice the thoughts so they don’t get back to base before us.

This deprogramming work can, of course, be a little unsettling.  Unpicking beliefs that have shaped identity, experiences and personality is like walking into your comfort zone as if it were a cosy room and setting at bits of it with a pickaxe.  Shelves fall down on one side.  A previously perfectly propped cushion lands face down on the rug.  The tie back goes missing from one curtain and pages get ripped out of your once tidy stack of magazines.  Then there’s a phase of simply learning to sit down anyway; getting comfortable within the uncomfortable followed by reorganising things so they’re less fragile.  Putting up a new pickaxe proofed shelf.  Choosing new magazines or chucking the lot in the bin with a yee-haa of liberated delight.  Ripping down the other curtains and getting someone who knows what they’re doing to make you roman blinds for the joy of their simplicity, common sense and beauty.  Putting the cushion back unpropped and unplumped, because it’s easier to relax and sit back like that without a thought to what appearances you’re despoiling.

This morning a Twitter friend shared this wonderful footage of Jada Pinkett Smith talking to her daughter about life balance.  Whether a woman has children or not, what Pinkett Smith has to say is undeniably powerful.

Bottom line: when we fail to act upon our own need for happiness, nothing works.  

52and39/51 Back to the Future

I’m feeling festive in fleeting bouts that buzz like wee jingle belled flashbacks, all present and sparkly then, gone.

Nonetheless, home is hyggelig at this time of year.

Following prelims, my son’s deciding what to do with at least some of his future.  My head tells him to go with his heart.  His heart says he mightn’t be good enough.


Watching someone struggle with a truth that you can’t wrestle to the ground…  it’s hard, isn’t it?  The future will have to wait a little.  For now, back to the (Christmas) present.



Then just like that, there’s only 1 more week to go of #52and39. Read all about it here

52and39/50 Changed Days

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Years ago I read that the things we struggle with in other people are usually the things we most need to work on in ourselves.

I think we all have a thing or two that we do which doesn’t serve us well, is easy for others to spot and yet rarely (if ever) bleeps on our own radar.

I spend regular time trying to see what’s in my blind spot.  When my mood is balanced and objective, with energy for the exertion of the mental trip, I dare to go there.

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We’re All Going On A (Mental) Holiday….

I’m learning that if I can change the subject for long enough, I can change my life.

Sometimes, I need a holiday from my troubles.   If I don’t remember to rein back thought processes about the worst case scenario at their tiniest beginnings, I can easily get stuck in looping grooves of inner negativity.  Being able to swap perspectives for another view is a great tool for stopping thoughts from becoming overwhelming.

Friends who let me laugh first and give me the choice about whether or not I want to speak about what’s bothering me are the best kind of friends for me.  This awareness feels cringey now as I realise I’ve not done this very thing for friends in the past.  I’ve made well intentioned blunders thinking that being a good friend meant almost forcing someone to put words to the worries in their life; that relentlessly talking about it would reduce their problems, allowing them to make two or three painful but productive moves on the snakes and ladders board without slipping down a reptile.

I was wrong.   

Sometimes, the difficult things are best left in a cupboard with the door firmly shut for a few hours, days or weeks.  Hell, some things need months, years or decades.  Life doesn’t let difficult things just disappear; it brings them continually back to stand in front of us.  So why I thought I needed to ring fence that process for friends now escapes me, but I guess I felt an urgency to workshopping emotional problem solving as if it were speed dating.  These days I take a longer view.

As we get older big ideas get simpler but logistics are more complex; we have more people to consider, plans and feelings are intertwined in ways they weren’t twenty years ago, we have a greater sense of what we need but have to juggle making the time to get it or keep it.  Spending time lying on a cognitive sun lounger or dipping our toes in a warm salty sea of positive, enriching distraction is an essential thing, if we’re to avoid being overwhelmed.  Sometimes changing the subject offers vital perspective that shrinks the negativity of other situations and allows us to feel that perhaps the stuff in the cupboard can be dealt with, after all.

I’ve started telling the people closest to me when I need a little holiday from my troubles and asking them to come and sit on the sun lounger beside mine while I soak up the rays and gently buzz off just talking about life in general or whatever’s on their mind and needing release.  While our minds are relaxed and busy elsewhere our subconscious gets busy with fixing the tricky stuff, without us even being aware of just how noisily the gears are grinding.  To allow our minds the space they need to work on things with intuition rather than intensity we don’t need denial; we just need a change of subject and a more relaxed perspective.


52and39/41 Bring Down Your Washing

We’re going on holiday and I’m losing it about suitcases.

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My kids throw jeans decorated with food and grass stains at bags and consider themselves packed.  No big deal.  They’ve forgotten everything from lens liquid to underwear and chargers but they’re ready, apparently.  Were it not for the fact they’d totally cock up the holiday at the other end by being filth packed for a day’s gaming I’d go with it and shrug my shoulders right back at them. 52and39

Instead, I’ve been patient, child-centered and nurturing for 72 hours.

Now I’m freaking.