Do Life

I have a lovely friend who, until recently, wound me up with his expression “I’m off to do life with … ” or “let’s do life together.” I use to think it was obvious that we all do life and that’s what goes on. But I’m now not so sure everyone “does life”, I think there are people who just get on with things and put their heads down and don’t enjoy life.

This weekend my husband’s Uncle Ron died. Here was a man who “did life” even if some of the family didn’t get it and thought he was being irresponsible. Nine and a half years ago he had a horrific car accident which cost him his legs. He was a big man and was wheelchair bound with no legs so never a possibility of walking again. I only really met him once not long after the accident and he was in hospital, but even there he was busy. He had decided to grow tomatoes on the roof of the hospital, where patients were allowed to go. Even though he didn’t know what life would bring he was planting something for the future. From what I heard from my mother-in-law Uncle Ron was always having barbecues, growing various flowers and vegetables and keeping his carers busy. He had to have full time carers because he couldn’t even get in or out of bed without help. Last summer him and his carers went on holiday to France. He wasn’t going to lie down and die. Because of his over-eating and lack of physical movement he had problems with diabetes and in the end that was what killed him. Uncle Ron could’ve decided to eat properly and give himself an extra five or ten years but he would still have been in a wheelchair, and in fact from the accident he did get another extra nine and a half. He could have died in that accident but didn’t and decided to “live life.”

My friend who has the expression “do life” is also someone who has see death and come through it. Life is a big thing fordo life him. As we get older we do see more and more people die, some in old age, some too soon, but eventually we will all die. The big thing actually to always ask ourselves is “have we lived life.” What does that mean?

To Uncle Ron it appeared to mean enjoying life, inviting people round to eat, and planting flowers and veg. For the friend I’ve just mentioned it means going on mission and giving to others. To some it means going to war torn countries and nursing or reporting to let those people know they are not alone. For each of us to “do life” means something else. As I mentioned in an earlier post about being able to “act on what transpires” which actually is living life. I don’t know what will  happen next at all. Take this morning – my neighbour and I set out with our dogs and were in the middle of a long deep conversation when we aspired a fellow dog walker and his Labrador puppy so we walked with him a bit, then he went off and we got back to our deep conversation, then bumped into some other walkers and walked and laughed with them for another hour. That wasn’t planned. In fact the plan for me was to have a quick walk then get to see a friend for coffee, who had cancelled that morning because her son wasn’t well. I was going to “do life” with her but in the end got on and “did life” with what transpired. Maybe this was the same for Uncle Ron. He never planned to be without his legs for the last nine years of his life but he made the most of the life he had without those legs.

We do all need to plan and to put things in place to look to the future but we need to be flexible so that things can change. And when we do put things in place we need to hold them lightly but hold them with joy and then hold the changes with joy and not with fear. Life is too changeable even in nice middle class England (a place I know and love).

So thank you John and now I get it completely. I have been lucky and not personally come close to dying but I’ve enough to know life isn’t static, isn’t predictable. There is a choice to live in fear and just get on with it, or to “Do life”. What do you choose? What do I choose?

Good Morning 2015!

My Facebook status this morning was “Good morning 2015! What’s the plan?”

There is so much for me that is new and strange about this year. I start it with no job. Never in my life had a not had a job. Most of the jobs I have had have been menial jobs due to my love of travel, fear of sticking at anything, and from home schooling my children. But every year I’ve had some form of job; paper round, leaflet delivering, Avon, bar work, packing job, and also some “real” jobs too – bank clerk, office worker, typesetter – and even two new years where I was “in ministry” which actually involved lots of admin and counselling work. But this year I start without a job of any kind due to an incident with my previous job which led me to feel that I needed to leave.

So a new year, a new blog, a new direction! This year will be more planned; not just my blogging but also my career plan. It seems odd to be 53 and only just really starting on a career plan. I have just completed a degree and have finished the first module of an MSc but these have been things, like with  ministry or previous jobs, that I have “fallen into.” I now feel that the reason I had to leave my previous job, even though it was very painful and I’m still aching from the scars, is so I can become directional. I have never seen myself as a reactionary person but in reality life-wise I am. This is all very new.

In fact it has been a very new start to the year. This year, 2015, I woke to a house all alone. My husband has just spent the last few days in the Peak District with old university friends and their families, 60+ of them in one youth hostel. I am becoming more of an introvert as I grow older, or maybe admitting to it more, and knew I could not cope with all those people, and also needed some space after the trauma of giving up my job. He’s been away like this before but normally I have my daughter with me, but this year she went to Edinburgh with friends. She realised this was the first time in her 21 years she’d ever been away just with friends. Previous times she’d travelled or gone on holiday had been with me or with an organised camp. A new year! So I saw out the old year and in the new without any other human contact for the first time ever. As a child I had my parents, before children I did the expected party thing, even as a single mum I had my kids in the house. I wasn’t totally alone because I had the dog on the bed with me. Dog and I were in bed by 10.30pm and slept most of the way through though he did growl gently at midnight when our street exploded with fireworks and singing.

All I have brought into 2015 apart from relationships with family and friends is my MSc in using creative writing for therapeutic purposes. I started this at the end of September 2014 so am only one term into it. My first assignment is due in on 10th January. I am almost there on the word count.

Adventure sounds like it should be crazy and full of unknowns, which I know it will be, but also for me the adventure will be to walk boldly in a direction not just jump from branch to branch. I am a planner in the ordinary course of life, needing things on the calendar, needing to know when everyone will be home, etc but it has struck me how I don’t do that with my life wider. I have never looked at my gifts and talents in a way that would take me in a certain direction. I have been insensitive with blogging as I have splurged across the page my thoughts and feelings, hurts and pains. Even my blogging is going to become more directional. To become something in the world of creative writing for therapeutic purposes one needs to be an established writer of sorts. I want to be a blogger. I’ve always wanted my work read and now I will do in a way that will be something I will be proud to have read.

So “Aspirational Adventures” has been so named because I am going to spend time looking at what I wish to aspire to become and how I will journey to find that place. Every journey is an adventure 🙂

From a friend in response to my Facebook status “2015 is the Year of Plenty – as in plenty of good things, a sense of abundance, nothing to do with greed or acquiring stuff. It is also about realising all of the good things we have.”

The year of plenty is where I’m going, that feeling of abundance, of being grateful for what I have.This is the adventure I aspire to walk in.