I have said for a few weeks that I thought we were going to have an early spring. Despite it being only January my clematis have buds on them (they are being cut back tomorrow) and the narcissi and daffodils were standing tall. In fact the winter had not really been that harsh so the crocus were few and far between but that may change now!
We have been working in the garden, clearing the logs from the trees that were cut down last year; cutting back the brambles,and generally making some final headway for our plans for the future in our garden.
At times the sun has been really warm, and I said to Rich that I thought we were going to get an early spring, and I still do, despite this happening this week..
There is nothing like a Welshie in the snow to make you smile..
Harley, ever the poser. Wiglet, ever the Wiglet!
But there is still a battle going on, today the temperature had risen from -2 to 8 degrees; the snow has melted here but not in other areas, but tonight we are due to go back to -2.
I don’t care what they are, as I sit in our new seating area, with a Welshie asleep beside me, and the fire burning I am counting my blessings: not least the amazing supportive friends and family I have, including the cyber community that I interact with.
So tomorrow we are back in the garden, it’s all part of the big plan now, we’re not going anywhere. As a dear reader said to me people would give their eye teeth to live where we do, problems an all. She was right, and I am thankful.
So, enjoy our winter garden, and the beautiful sunrise I caught this week; and look forward to seeing the spring photos soon.
Have a good weekend folks.
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My faithful followers of this blog may have noticed a distinct lack of blogging recently. There have been a number of reasons:
That I have been disenchanted with life (mainly people in it); that I have come to realise that I will have to lower my integrity towards people to survive, because I know that some people will take joy (sadly yes) if they read what I am going to write; and I have had to consider whether I was going to give them that joy; and mainly because I know that people love my positivity and I have felt very negative due to experiences since living here, that have now come to a head in the last couple of months.
I have come to realise that I have always tried to look at the positives to such a degree that I have not considered the negatives; and perhaps now I need to.
For the first time in a long time I wrote in my journal, and I reflected on our life here and realised that whilst I always try to look at the positive was I ignoring what life was showing me, by not acknowledging the negative as well? Our well ran dry, our water heater was not working properly, resulting in a huuuuuge bill, our roof blew off, our truck engine seized (despite being only 6 years old), work had been difficult and my! Have we had some humdinger employers! And many other things, not least Tinky Tiny Tilly never coming home. (But if you look at the balance Wiglet the PIglet came to live with us instead.)
On the Monday before my birthday I asked Rich if he wanted to stay here in France and he answered honestly that he didn’t know. So I set to writing my journal, and asked myself some honest questions. I know that people read this blog for its positivity but I always said I would say it warts and all.
As I lay there in bed with Rich snoring and asked myself if at that precise moment in time if I had won the lottery would I stay: The answer was no; but I have to emphasise it was at that precise moment in time.
So I started to consider other options in my head: moving to Spain, where it would be warmer and (my understanding is) the cost of living is cheaper. I considered moving back to England! The main problem with that was that we would want to live somewhere remote, and would never be able to afford to buy unless it was a shit hole! But I considered it, expressly Wales, where there is more countryside and less people. Then I considered Ireland; my dad was Irish, I have relatives there, the countryside is similar to France, and the properties are cheap. But most of all the benefit of Ireland was that they speak English.
I knew that to be realistic we really needed to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper because all of the things to consider would get lost in our heads.
But as always, even though I had lost my belief a little bit because it has been so hard, I believed that life would show me the way.
So on my birthday when I mentioned to a dear friend, who is there in the background, that I was considering our options they messaged me and immediately asked what’s up! They then pointed out to me how lucky we were and that they would move here in a heartbeat. They don’t know how much that simple comment meant.
As part of the numerous birthday wishes on FB a number of people said how I was living the dream; another friend excitedly posted that she was on the move, and when I responded she said that she was following my lead. My dear friend Mary has already ventured on a big adventure and all of these people have been inspired by us; I felt a responsibility to them. And being a girl who always believes that life shows you the way I then started to wonder if this was life trying to make me think. Add to that our impromptu invite to the lovely neighbours, Rich’s FB site that I have set up for work resulting in him getting some work from it, I started to think that perhaps it was.
On Sunday we went for a windy walk down our lane and visited a farm where Marc’s uncle lived and loved until he died last year. It was sad, with the doors blowing in the wind no longer loved; but when I looked at how that man had lived it reminded me that I had come out here for the simple life, and this was it. What did I want?
On the walk Rich and I stopped and looked over the rolling hills and Rich looked at me and said ‘I can’t go back to England Mois, I cannot be surrounded by people.’ And I agreed, we had at least made a decision on something.
As the week has worn on we have come up with some other ideas to make some money that I am now busy working on (let alone my blogs, and my book) and I am looking forward to what they may bring.
As I have always said life will show us the way.
We have both decided that we are not beaten yet; I mean, bloody hell, if you look at all of the obstacles that we have overcome to get to here we can do anything if we put our mind to it!
I have been honest in describing what happened to me re my mental health in England and in all honesty I think that I was still ill when I came over here. So I then became overwhelmed with the volumnious amount of paperwork that need to be completed; got sucked in by people who I thought were going to help me when in fact it was the opposite and I lost my mojo – which is that I take no crap from anyone.. But now I am back, I have lowered my level with regards to integrity and compassion, you get to piss me off three times and then your out! I can look after myself and others who are kind to me and I will not be beaten.
But part of this consideration is also that I have acknowledged that we are on an adventure – it was never set in stone – and if part of the adventure is to move to pastures new then life will show me that, and I need to not be afraid of it and stop beating myself up that I have to make it work here: to stop thinking that there are no other options. There are always options and right now I choose this one. Who wouldn’t?!
Then on Monday a darling friend (I have written of him before and the wonderful music he sends me) sent me this for my birthday; with a beautifully written card with it.
He also said to me on Messenger:
‘Remember Moi, we are the good ones, we too are the sensitive ones! We are on the bus, if the wheels fall off we just have to put them back on again!’
He is right, I am on the bus, my wheels on firmly back in place and let’s see where this baby takes us.
Watch this space folks let’s see what happens, and whatever it is I will Face Everything and Rise.
I have just used this quote in my other blog, but I love it so much and it sums up this post!
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Both sides now – Joni Mitchell
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It’s been a strange couple of weeks, my sister turned sixty (60!!!) on the 18th of January and it made me realise as I turned 56 last Friday the 25th just how time is of the essence. But more of that in future blogs.
One of the best things about living here is that we are blessed with wonderful French neighbours; out of all the arseholes we have met over the years on this adventure none of them are French!
Our neighbours knew that things had been difficult for Rich and I, and my darling friend Martine knew it was my birthday, so a couple of Sundays ago they rang our bell and invited us for aperitifs at their house on the 18th (my sisters birthday). It was so lovely of them, and it made me feel better because I couldn’t get to see my sister on this landmark birthday (that is all part of the adventure, but I am sad I missed it).
On the evening of the 18th our neighbours and friends Marc and Nadia picked us up, and when we got to Martine and Michel’s home the assortment of aperitifs was amazing: mussels, stuffed cherry tomatoes, olives, little hot dog balls, spinach in pastry, so many things!) Out came the champagne and I found myself, in my basic French, conversing with my French friends about politics, and language.
We laughed about the hot dog balls being called knackers! Explained the dual meaning of that word in the English language which made them laugh, and this led to a conversation about the word for testicles in French! They have a fantastic sense of humour and really are lovely people.
Fast forward to my birthday, I had given myself a gift of a day of doing nothing: no logs, no new FB sites, no ironing, washing, writing, no promotion of my book and blogs on social media, nada! In the early evening I did venture out to the postbox and Marc called me. We were invited to their house for champagne, and when we arrived there was a big bunch of flowers waiting for me. The time flew by, as it always does with them and it really made my day. Hubby cooked me a Mexican so hot I couldn’t eat it, and it was the day I wanted, with some added extras along the way.
But I am at a crossroads……
Is it my age?
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I have been neglectful of this blog recently because my other blog https;//makingthisbetter.com has taken off again and I am now on target to achieve over twenty thousand views by the end of this week!
In addition the blog has helped me tighten my book and I am editing like a fury into the evening every evening.It will be published this year; even if I self publish.
But both of my blogs are important to me. I think that the other blog has taken off, and taken over, because sadly January is a month when most people find that their problems are compounded: perhaps it is because it is the new year and they can see no change in sight; perhaps it is because Christmas,and all the hype that goes with it, often makes people feel as if they should be happy; that they should put their problems to one side for a week or so (delude themselves that everything is happy) but inevitably reality kicks back in to bite them on the arse again in January, or even Christmas evening! Or perhaps it is because people feel that at this time of year they should consider change, should reflect, that they find that they have no option but to do just that; and they are afraid of what they may see. Hence the visits to a blog that may help them.
But this blog too can help them, it is real, it is reflective, and I noticed how some are also finding their way here from makingthisbetter, and I am glad, and they are welcome.
So on to why I thought that I would share with you this rose on this blog, my first blog, the blog that got me to where I am today with regard to my writing: This rose currently sits on my windowsill in my living room, and it overlooks the front of my garden and the wonderful view. I bought this rose on the second but last weekend in November last year! I kid you not! Seven weeks ago!
We had no money, every penny counts (still does), but as I was leaving the supermarket a lady was there who represented a society for people with arthritis. They were asking for you to either buy a brioche (a form of sweet bread) from them, or a rose bud, and the money would be used to help people with arthritis who could not work and were on a low income. I could not afford it, but something made me buy this rose for two euro. I looked at Rich and said ‘I have arthritis, and I know we have nothing but surely we should all try and help other people.’ (Correction there we do have loads: each other to start, a house over our head, water, hot shower all of our blessings: you may want to read my ten consecutive posts around counting our blessings here is the first one Counting my blessings: Day one ) and I bought the rose.
And here is the rose: still alive, bloomed and still looking out over the view seven weeks after I bought it! I think that it is saying that it just loves it’s life looking out over the French countryside and it will stay as long as it can, it will keep going.
I did not realise the symbolism of a white rose, of which there are many, but two of them are hope, and new beginnings.
Every time I look at this rose I smile, because I know that it is a message being sent to me to tell me not to give up. For me it symbolises a number of things:
Hope – because it is still alive today, and it proves that anything is possible.
To enjoy the moment, enjoy life, whatever it holds; if you look at life there must be something positive in it. Only recently Rich and I have talked about the human brain being pre-disposed to see the negative and how every day when I wake, before I get up I say thank you:For Rich, for Tom, for my family, for my beautiful dogs, my cats, the roof over my head, running water, having a hot shower – back to the counting my blessings posts……!
But more than anything at what is a difficult time (there is always good and bad) this rose tells me to keep going.
And trust me, I will!
There will be more posts this week folks. I promise.
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Over the years I have shared with you the mental health problems that I experienced after working many years for the NHS – it is often said of that institution that it can chew people up and spit them out – or burn them out as it did in my case; that is true, and that is why you will not find me to be an overly excited supporter. Sadly I have seen it warts and all!
In the same way that I do not think that infidelity or heartbreak should be hidden under the carpet, I do not think that mental health should not be discussed either. But this post is slightly different this post is about how I have now come full circle and realised that the parts of me that have been suppressed are in fact exactly what I need to survive out here for now; perhaps that has been part of the lesson to know that the my strength is an assett!
Over the past few months I have come to realise that when I first came to live here I was still ill; it had been less than a year since I had first become ill, and looking back I had been optimistic to think that I was back to firing on all cylinders.
But add to that moving to a new country, the house not being what we thought (everything leaked, the cesspit, did not only not conform it was inside the cellar and leaked into the cellar, the heating did not work, you may want to see some of my old posts) and our son not talking to us it was a tough time.
Despite all of that we had the excitement of a new life to keep us going. It was all new and I accepted whatever life offered: I embraced the autumn and the winters, and as time went by I learned that, to quote the Tao, where there is bad there is good and where there is good there is bad. I understand fully that there cannot be one without the other. But…..
Over this year, and mainly towards the end, I have realised that I have turned into my mum! She was always a caring and giving lady, and followed the life rule of ‘don’t do unto others as you would not want done unto you’. But, sadly, other people do not have the same adage: so you keep doing good things for them and they keep takng them! I have found (as I have written about before) that the saying ‘people see your kindness as a weakness’ is a truer adage. This philosophy towards life, and the constant disappointments, eventually over time made my mum ill, because people were unkind to her often and she could not understand why, when she was only kind to them.
Now I have always been a kind of fiesty girl and when I was younger and my mum cried I used to tell her to just tell them to ‘fuck off!’ But I was young then, and over time and during my career I developed a high level of empathy; but sadly too much and that is what made me ill. Slowly over the years I have taken on the attribute that my mum had, I became an empath; it was bad enough that I was taken advantage of in England but since living here it has taken on a whole new level! Add to that the philosophy of the Tao: that we should see the good in everyone, and be kind to everyone that I tried to adhere to and on this adventure, and I was on a hiding to nothing! With the exception of literally a handful of people, I have had to learn a lot of hard lessons. I have learnt that most (not all) people are also surviving and to do that they will treat you with suspicion if you are kind, and they will do what they need to do to survive; and if that means fucking you over: then so be it. God knows I have seen that often enough.
I understand that it becomes a vicious circle: because everyone else has been stabbed in the back they become wary, and then they stab people in the back and so it goes on and on in an ever decreasing circles; I am not saying that I will automatically stab people in the back, I’m just not that sort of person, I am a more upfront person who says it to your face! So now, as I have said in previous posts, I am not going to lower my tolerance level and if my gut is screaming at me about someone I am not going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore!
But you see the crux is that I am not an easy person to get to know. I am kind, anyone who reads my other blog and the comments that I share with others will know that I also try to be measured and I have learnt to see both sides of the story; but I can also be very direct, and not give a shit if I get pissed off. I have tried to suppress that part of my personality but now I don’t want to; now I am inspired, now I am going to do what we need to do to survive and if that means fucking people off then so be it. Bring it on! Where my life out here is concerned I need to stop. We need to survive and I need to go back to the Moisy that I used to be: If you put my back up against the wall I will come out fighting and I will not be beaten.
I have learnt a lot about the narcissist and how they target people with high levels of empathy and integrity; in fact I think that it is fair to say that I can probably spot one at a fifty mile radius now; and this time I will not be so quick to give them the benefit of the doubt if the alarm bells are ringing. Correction: There is no benefit of doubt with a narcissist you just have to detach yourself and walk away. Or shall I? Fuck it! Shall I have a game?
As I write this post and reflect I have come to the decision that sadly I need to just be fiesty old me; those who really love me still will, those that don’t won’t! I forgot my own lesson of the mini bus of life! So I have stopped calling people to see if they are okay, I am back on my mini bus with the right people, and given that there is fourteen seats, six of them are empty – remembering my philosophy that is about right! The mini bus of life
So as I told my sister of yet another horror story of people we had encountered the other day I found fiesty old me talking to her; I judged them (correctly, but something that the Tao does not advocate): I knew that they were trying to get something for nothing because they thought we would do anything for the money. they were wrong! Not anymore! They got told no. Or as I said to my sister they can fuck off!!
But really what I did was use all the skills I have learnt over the years when considering them: The tell tale signs, from their behaviour, that all was not well in their mind, or with the family set up (they tried to hard to appear happy!) ; the boastfullness of their character; the fact that they wanted to tell me many stories of what they had acheived, and what they had got, and I could see it. Was it judging? Maybe. But for me it was listening to the warning signs and not giving people the benefit of the doubt any more.
What has this got to do with being on an adventure? Perhaps part of this type of adventure is finding yourself again, and this time using it!
As my sister said ‘Thenk God! The Bitch is back!’
Yes she is; it has only taken five years, and she feels good!
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I am sharing this well written post by a man who had an affair. Even Twelve years later it has made me re-think some of what Rich has told me, and I have realised some of what I didn’t believe was the truth.
I truly believe some of you will find this helpful.
This is a response to a comment I got. I just knew it would be too long to comment to so I am making it here.
Couple questions: I’d like your thoughts, acknowledging up front that this is not an attack on and you do not speak for all men, but you can offer a male perspective – being a man yourself and knowing other men in that “bro” way the women aren’t part of.
Re: Full disclosure – It seems that a very large percentage of cheaters (male only as I have no experience re female) don’t give full disclosure. They give the bare minimum. Some claim to not remember even the simplest things, such as “Where did you go to have sex?” “Were you with her on (an important day – betrayed spouse’s bday, anniversary, cheater’s bday, Xmas eve)?” I find it impossible to believe…
I have recently started to follow a new blog and it inspired me because every year the lady who writes it picks a word to live that year by. I have included a link to her blog below, it is inspiring.
After all of my pictures recently, and things I have learnt over the last year I have decided to pick ‘Dawn’. Because every dawn, every sunrise offers new opportunities, offers you the chance to leave things in the past and move into the new.
And living here every dawn, as I stand with my beloved cup of tea, makes me smile.
I have written many times about winter in rural France. I have said how people dread it, how it can be very grey (although that is one of my favourite colours!), and how work can be scarce to the point of non existence; add that to what can be one of the most expensive times of the year with fuel to find, and it can be hard.
So this year we are approaching winter with a different approach, in fact this year we are approaching a lot of things differently, but more of that to come over the year!
Firstly we have wood, in our garden, our own wood. So we spend at least one afternoon a week chopping the wood (don’t get me started on the log splitter!). I enjoy it, I enjoy working with my husband, with the puppies running around us, and I find it rewarding.
Secondly we have decided to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t do. I believe if you keep going what you need will come, so since the new year we have done the following:
We went for our New Year day walk around the medieval city of forgeres
I said we are going to enjoy the winter in my previous posts, and I hope by doing this I will inspire others to just embrace each and every day.
Rich has decided to use his time, and has painted our toilet, and hung the radiator on the wall. We have decided that this is the year that we will take control and this is one way to do it. To decorate the house, with the paint we already have, and to do it well and how we want it. This house will be unrecognisable.
He has also re-arranged our living room, so that we take more advantage of the log burner with a ‘snug area by the tv and fire. I love it, it has gone from this……
To this..(dog leg not included!)
He has opened up the seating area at the other side of the room, and we have decided not to have a table. We never use it! So it’s going up for sale and we now have a huge amount of space. From this….
We have a long list of jobs that we want to achieve this winter, pulling all the logs from the overgrown dead grass around them, decorate the hall, paint our living room and kitchen ceiling white (the leaking roof has been fixed, properly this time without any odious little people in sight!) and decorate both rooms. I am sure in-between all this work will come Rich’s way.
And last, but never least I will continue to cherish the scenes around me, because they keep me here. So here are some winter sunrises and sunsets from 2019.
Sunrise Ambrières-les-Vallées January 2019
Let’s be positive, and honest with ourselves this year.
Sunset Ambrières-les-Vallées January 8th 2019
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My most favourite poems is ‘The Listeners’ by Walter de la Mare. I have loved it since I was very young, one of its themes being opportunity lost.
‘Tell them I came, and no-one answered
That I kept my word, he said…”
How often are we rushing so much that it is only when we lose what we treasure so much, that we realise we had not treasured it at all?
One of the other poems that has always inspired me, that I hear myself quote quite often, is the poem ‘Leisure’ by W H Davies.
‘What is this life, if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?’
(If you would like to read it then I have added it to the bottom of this post.)
I also read a post today about social media, and how people take it literally, making them feel anxious and inadequate. In it the writer reflected on how years ago people had time for quiet contemplation, time to think without the bombardment of the world attacking them all the time. In fact years ago (many) when I was at school, we had a library session every week to just sit and read in silence. At the time I hated it, now I would embrace it!
All of this got me thinking and I realised that when I started to ‘plan’ in my diary/planner for this year I had not given myself any time to ‘stop and stare’. No time out, to just play with my puppies, even though I cherish every day because I know their lives are too short, and I should treasure every moment.
I also know that when I was ill that was all I was ‘allowed’ to do was stop and relax, because my brain had become totally overloaded, and I had lost the ability to stop thinking!
The wonderful Deepak Chopra tells us to set aside a little time each day to experience silence, and contemplation at the very beginning of ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’.
So I have crossed out my day chocked full of things to do, and I have written in between my jobs and aspirations, ‘play with dogs’, take dogs for a walk, sit in silence, and I have given myself ‘space’ each day.
WH Davies – Leisure
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?— No time to stand beneath the boughs, And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass: No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night: No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance: No time to wait till her mouth can
So here I am on my final post of the ten day series Counting My Blessings and I am going to cheat, I am counting three in this post, and will put it under the heading ‘My Family’.
First let’s talk about my son Tom. I chose this picture carefully because he is on top of a peak in the Lake District in England, with the sun behind him, and for me it symbolises how he can do anything he wants, he is young, and his life is in front of him with every opportunity available should he wish to take it.
I am proud of him: how he has coped with mum and dad moving to France, has pursued his dream of working in the gaming industry and has never given that up. I don’t think he realises just how much strength you need to pursue your dream, and exactly how much strength he actually has.
He is full of fun, empathetic and learnt his lesson to walk in others shoes and is loved by so many people. I am proud of him.
Now my second blessing, my sister. She will kill me for putting this photo on, but she has to be in this, not least for the support she has given Tom over the past four years. The second photo is of Tom and I, with Tom getting ready to walk her down the aisle.
We have had our ups and downs, as sisters do! She thinks she’s always right ( and annoyingly more often than not she is!) But she is always there, she cares, and Tom would not have his dream job without her tenacity and love.
Now last but never least:
My husband Richard.
If any of you have read my serialisation of my soon to be published book (it will happen this year whatever) https://makingthisbetter.com you will know how Rich I and sailed The Ocean of Despair for a long time, to get to where we are today.
This man fought tooth and nail to keep me; he evolved because he wanted to, not because I asked him to; because I never did! After what happened he had to keep up with me, I wasn’t going to wait for him!
And every minute of every hour of every day he did.
I once had someone say to me that they ‘had never had a man look at them in the way Rich looks at me’ and that was true, I know I am truly blessed to have that in my life.
He is a kind and gentle giant, who enabled me to trust him enough to come on this adventure. He makes me laugh every day, literally every day, with his dry sense of humour, and silliness.
Everyone he meets loves him, because he just sees the funny side of life. Look at him in this picture, he is so naughty he has led them all astray.
I am blessed to have this man in my life, he is sensitive and loving; strong when I need him. I could not be on this adventure without him. We are blessed to be as strong as we are now, and we both count that blessing every day, and NEVER take it for granted.
I know he will cry when he reads this; and that just makes me love him even more.
So my final blessing, my family, but more than that: the pride I have for my son, the hope I have for him too.
The understanding I have of my sister, and the respect too. My book wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for her!
The respect I have for my husband, the love I have for them all. I am truly blessed.
I hope you have enjoyed this series; And I hope it has made people think about the small things, because, trust me, they are the things that keep you going in life. So in this New Year, please take time to stop, and see the small stuff.
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