heart and home, life lessons

Birthday Blues

birthday cake

Birthdays are an odd sort of mix aren’t they?

Our childhood frames a structure around celebrations – it is our day to feel ‘Special’ where we are surrounded by our friends and family. Big parties, people showing us how much we are cared about, cake, cards and presents.  I remember lovely childhood Birthday parties – I once had a magician who pulled a live rabbit out of a hat – there was always cake and singing and that lovely glow of feeling special.

presents

As an adult it is hard to maintain, life just isn’t like that, is it? Our friends have busy lives, family may not always be able to drop everything. We may have to go to work. The day does not revolve around us – our parents aren’t there to make it special.  Our loved one might not understand the complexities of the emotional baggage that surrounds that one day marking our entry into the world. As much as I hate to admit – Birthdays leave me in emotional turmoil every year.

Childhood memories are mixed, my Birthday was a bit of a burden arriving just after Christmas and the New Year. Aunts and Uncles would inform me that my Christmas present were more expensive than my siblings, because they had combined my Birthday and Christmas into one big gift, but I knew it was a lie. Early on, I envied siblings who had Birthdays in Spring or Summer without being overshadowed by Christmas and the New Year. It bothered me so much that I made sure my children were Spring babies!

Icing on the cake

It is surprising how much anxiety I have had over the years about celebrating my Birthday, I hate that it arrives at the one time of the year when, quite frankly, I am tired of feasting and rich food and I am all partied out. I am also aware that most people have stretched themselves to pay for Christmas – to burden everyone with yet more present giving makes me feel uncomfortable.

This is an awful situation – friends and colleagues knowing its your Birthday and wether they feel like giving you a present or a card. I am not very comfortable receiving, it is embarrassing. But what if they don’t? What if I plan a party and no-one comes, what if my friends choose to ignore it or forget about it, what sort of message is that?

With reflection most of the anxiety is down to trying to maintain the childhood celebration in an adult world – it no longer fits.

I am uncomfortable being the centre of attention – that might surprise some of my friends because I never come across as shy. But there is an awkwardness about Birthdays – there is still deeply buried  five year old girl who wants to feel special, but an adult knowing that to be honest, for everyone else it is just an ordinary day. There is also a woman that needs to feel she is connected and supported, loved and cherished.

In her book, The Simple Abundance, Sarah Breathnach writes:

We need to see life as it is, not hold ourselves captive to a vision of how it ought to be. Surrendering our expectations opens us up for the gifts of spontaneity, serendipity, enabling us to cast off old agendas of what is supposed to make us happy.

Birthdays don’t have to be celebrated in a particular way, I can escape the past and do something different! Claim the day as my own, forget the old worn out hallmark celebration- it is time to map out the day to my choosing, let it unfurl with opportunity, rather than a barbed measure of my popularity.

reading in bed

I am going to take responsibility for my own happiness; not give it away to whims and echoes of the past, or the expectations of others.  I am going to fill the day with things I love to do – most of which can be done on my own.

In a world where there never seems to be enough time – a whole day seems such a gift.

Of course you know the old wise saying about Birthdays – those who have the most Birthdays live longest.

How do you celebrate?

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life lessons

The joys of house hunting!

Box of clippings dress and button box

It has been a bit of a rollercoaster for the last 18 months, we have been trying to find a home, for various reasons we thought we would rent rather than buy. What a headache it is proving to be!

I have discovered that despite being willing to pay quite a considerable sum each month, perspective tenants are treated with distain.

Here is the following list of excuses so far before we are even allowed a viewing,

My elderly dog will wreck their beautiful home and pee all over the place. (He has never disgraced himself)

My elderly dog will viciously attack the owner’s lovely little dog, and she cannot stand the trauma. So she refuses to allow perspective tenants the same joys of dog owning she enjoys herself.

We were strung along for over two months, while the agent requested to know more about our finances than a tax inspector. Form filling, followed by more form filling, followed by more questions. Oddly enough we were expected to trawl through several years of accounts working to tight deadlines – only to be left hanging for weeks while the owner ‘decided’. They told us there were two people in the running, more questions, more waiting around for an answer. Then we were told no. So we organised more viewings only for them to return a week later with more questions. After a further two weeks we eventually phoned the Agent. They had gone with the other couple – the reason they came back to us with questions is because the ‘other couple’ they had chosen kept on failing their financial references. It was cold comfort to be told that our references were absolutely fine. The agent was simply using us to make it look as if they were doing a great job and the owners had chosen people who failed their financial referencing three times… good luck with that.

There is no redress, Agents tell you what they think you need to hear, to keep you dangling along. We are now going through the process for the 9th time – and despite a huge cash holding fee paid, yet more referencing and account details, contracts being drawn up and ready to sign the owner has had another couple put in an offer and wants to consider it. All we can do is sit back and wait, (yes that is me smiling through gritted teeth!)

Box of clippings

I have found that something that should be a joyful adventure has been an absolute lesson in detachment. There was the property where we got so far as having the key, when the owner woke up two days later and ‘changed his mind’ for no good reason other than ‘having a feeling’

I understand that renting a property has its risks, but we have often provided more information that would be necessary to obtain a mortgage and yet we are still judged and treated with scorn.

If you rent you are expected to move in within two weeks, there is no concept that we are a customer, the deadlines are tight. One agent showed us a property and we told her we were going away for a long weekend and would be in touch after that. We received a text from her the first morning of our break, ‘pay your holding fee in the next hour otherwise I am showing three people round this afternoon’ She ruined our weekend away, we had to find a bank and organise a transfer, to hold the property for us while the paperwork went through. Oddly enough despite paying nearly £500 when there was a delay on our side, she informed us that another person had looked at it that afternoon and was moving in the next day. all because we asked to delay for a week.

Box of clippings1

So I have learned to let go of the hopes and dreams you have about having our own home, and simply get on with other things. Thankfully I am going through a busy period with work.

One of the things that helps is the little boards of inspiration I make now and then, cuttings from magazines that make me feel uplifted when I see them.

It helps.

ttfn x