Tag Archives: happy

When cliches start to make sense…

Why are we all so scared of getting old?

It’s easy to ward off the flab and the bad health if you just go to the gym and eat healthily – as for wrinkles and sag, I think I’d rather look natural than inflated.

I feel myself getting more and more comfortable in my skin. Life teaches you some tough lessons as you gather responsibilities. All those old cliches begin to make sense.

Be yourself. This drove me insane as a teenager because who the hell was I? Who did I want the world to think I was? Now I know what makes me happy, what’s important to me, what I will stand up for and what makes me uncomfortable. I’ve learned that ignoring these things bothers me for days. Don’t you hate that feeling of ‘God I wish I’d said something’? So now I do. (most of the time)

Beauty is only skin deep. I never even understood this phrase – like how deep is skin? Now I’ve met enough boring beauties and handsome arseholes to get it. People whose beauty conforms to 21st century standards are rarely good company. In my experience they’re pretty low in self-confidence and fairly draining to be around.

Just ignore the bullies. Yeah – cos that was possible in the playground. There was one lunchtime though, age nine, when I was in the firing line, and I leaned through the gate to talk to the lollipop man. He was elderly and hilarious – full of stories. Now I know there is ALWAYS someone to talk to, if you just look around. Bullying is a fact of life – people abuse power absolutely everywhere – so you might as well hone your coping mechanisms. I’ve also figured out that, when someone is upsetting you, think about the worst thing they could do and make your peace with it. Their power over you vanishes. I had a boss whose relentless demands nearly made me ill. When I realised that if she fired me I had genuine options, I stopped letting her get to me. I also developed those options and handed in my notice.

Love yourself. Ooft. Now if I had the answer to this one I’d call myself the Messiah. I think women in particular are very bad at being nice to themselves. I have this one friend who’s like a mirror. She and I beat ourselves up about things and turn to each other for comfort. One day we realised we would never speak to each other in the tone of our internal monologues, so we resolved to change. I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who’s adored me since I was 17 so I’ve always had a foundation of ‘if this wonderful guy loves me that much, I must be OK’. Of course the devil on my shoulder reminds me I didn’t date very much so maybe no one else would have had me. I think, as I work through challenges and counsel friends through hard times, I’m realising how powerful love really is.

It’s all water under the bridge. This once vague concept has become pretty central to it all, really. The bridge is our path through life – sometimes it feels strong and sturdy, other times it sways slightly and, let’s face it, on occasion it feels like it will be washed away by the torrent. It’s all about how you perceive the river. I try very hard to keep my bridge strong and fortify it with the people I love and the things that make me happy. Everything else I consign to the water and let it wash away. It’s not allowed to stick to my bridge. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to scrape away the flotsam and jetsam. I guess it’s like the Forth Road Bridge. I’ll never be finished painting it.


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There’s a new boy in my life…

I seem to have acquired another boy to look after – but this one is only two days a week. Meet Lucas:


I can’t quite believe my luck.

Since I was seven years old, I have longed for a horse of my own. I used to actually shake with excitement before my riding lessons. Every year from the age of about eight to thirteen I asked for “Pony for the Week” for my birthday – it was the highlight of my year to spend five whole days at the stables, grooming and feeding and riding the ponies.

Of course around the age of 14 it became more important to spend my money at Topshop than the tack shop. I’d spend the weekends planning, going to and then analysing who we’d kissed at the Archaos unders. My purple grooming kit lay forgotten in the garage, I outgrew my jodhpurs and my horsey days were over. I always tried to go for a hack on holiday – I still loved it and it’s a great way to discover a new place. My friend Dionne and I rode ponies western style across the Andes in Chile in 2005 and my friend Mairi and I would randomly book a three hour hack on the beach – took us days to recover.

But now I am right back there in the midst of my childhood obsession and I am happy as a pig in shit.

It’s all thanks to Facebook. A friend reposted Louise‘s request to find a new person to horse share and I happened to see it. I saw how close her stable was and thought I’d just send her a message and see what happened. The next evening we met up, had a chat, went for a ride (she has another horse called Corky) and it all just fell into place. It was as if it was meant to be.

Lucas and me

It has taken a fair bit of juggling to find the time to properly commit to this. Luckily Louise is flexible and I work for myself, so between us we make it work. I turn up, I muck out his stable, I lay new shavings, I fill his haynet, I collect him from the field and bring him into the stable where I take off his rug and groom him. He is so affectionate and easy to be around – the only thing he’s not too keen on is having his rear hooves picked out – we do a wee dance round the stall while I try to persuade him. When he’s gleaming I tack him up and have the joyous freedom of what happens next. For someone who’s only ever had lessons on riding school ponies, this is definitely the best bit. Today we did some work in the school without stirrups so I could improve my balance and then we went for a hack through the fields in the sunshine. Bliss.


I’ve come to realise that horse riding is the ultimate exercise in mindfulness. While I’m out with Lucas all I think about is him and me. He’s a big horse (16hh) with plenty of energy and strength, you can’t afford to lose focus. But more than that, when I’m out in the countryside, with the sound of the birds and the gorgeous views up to the Pentlands and across empty hayfields, you lose yourself in the experience. It’s exhilarating and relaxing at the same time. It’s one of the only things I do that doesn’t involve any technology. No one talks to me. I don’t need to say a word (except maybe “whoa” or “good boy”). It’s very far-removed from my noisy, harassed daily life, and I appreciate every minute of it.

I even got that old grooming kit out of the garage.

Now, where’s the nearest tack shop? I need some new jodhpurs…


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