The Empty Room

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on

I am in the process of moving house. Long story short – I have bought a place on the coast more than 500 miles from where I’ve lived for the past 40 years. It’s been a major decision and one fraught with anxiety – especially during these times of Covid.

I have decided to have all the floors sanded before my furniture arrives. I have a very few temporary pieces in the house already – a blow up mattress, table, two chairs, a TV, area rug – but I’ve been removing them this morning before the workmen arrive as the floors need to be absolutely bare.

As I was rolling up the rug, my mind went to a wonderful film – Truly, Madly, Deeply. It’s a beautiful British film, made in 1990, starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. Stevenson plays a woman whose husband (Rickman) has died. She’s kept her home exactly as it was during their marriage, and her grief is so intense that his ghost moves back in with her. I don’t want to say too much more because it is one of the most beautiful films you will ever see on grief and healing, but one of the last scenes shows an empty room with its wooden floor and a rolled up rug in the corner. It doesn’t symbolize that her grief and pain has been totally eliminated – after all, she loved the guy Truly, Deeply and Madly – but it does mean she’s letting go and moving forward.

And that’s kinda-sorta how I’m feeling about this move. I have loved, loved, loved living in my apartment in the city for the past 5 years. It’s been a place of healing and joy and sanctuary, but it was a place we bought together for us to retire to. Although it was in my name and became ‘mine’ in every way possible, there was still a tie to him.

This move, this new apartment, is all me. Like the Stevenson character, I am both literally and metaphorically closing the door on ‘that’ part of my life. Where I am moving to has no memories of him or our life together. And even though we’ve been apart for almost 6 years, there was a comfort and security in surrounding myself with the familiarity of a city where I have lived for most of my adult life.

How’s it going to turn out?

I’ll keep you posted.

The Last Day of The World

That first year after my husband left me was hell.  Absolute hell.  It was sheer bloody-mindedness (as my mother would have said) that kept me going.  I know some people in this situation who took to their bed for days – and that worked for them , so I’m not going to diss it – but I feared that if I did so, I would never get out of it.

No matter how little I’d slept that night, I set my alarm for 7am, got up, showered, made my bed, went for a walk… and refused to go back to bed until at least 9pm. Continue reading

The Wisdom of Anne Lamott

I am a huge fan of Anne Lamott.  (If you’ve never heard of her, you can link to her inspiring TEDtalk here.)

When I think of that imaginary dinner party I would love to host, with some of the most amazing people sitting at my table, she is up there at the top of the list.

I love her humour, her wisdom and her grace, and it was that wisdom that helped me through some of the worst times following my divorce.  Continue reading

Finding Your Voice

For the first few years after my husband left me,  I felt like one of those plastic garbage bags spinning in the wind, being tossed this way and that.  I felt unheard, as though I had lost my voice. No matter what I said or did, I seemed to have no control over anything.

And then slowly, very slowly, I started to regain – or, in some cases gain – control. Most were baby steps, which I have documented in this blog: my year of saying ‘yes’, divorce negotiations with my lawyer, buying a house for the first time on my own, preparing a new will, changing my name.

But there was one problem I kept coming up against. Continue reading


Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels

My mother always warned me that the very worst time in your life to lose weight was when you were in your ‘mature’ years, as your skin – particularly on your face – never bounces back the way it does when you’re young.

And she was right.

A few years ago, I lost a (ahem) substantial amount of weight!  The health benefits were amazing, but… I discovered that my mother’s caution was bang on.  Proud of my weight loss (it took a lot of hard work!) and the fact I was now healthier than I was ten years ago, I jokingly posted on Facebook that, while it was great that, in profile, my boobs now stick out (marginally) more than my belly, it was a shame about my sagging jowls.

It was as simple as that.  A joke!

But some of the responses startled me, because it occurred to me that my friends thought I was either a) trying to fish for compliments , or b) terribly insecure, because they all responded by assuring me that I looked great/beautiful/whatever.

I’m pretty realistic about my looks.  Even when I was young I would never have won a beauty competition, but I’m okay.  I look fine. Sometimes I can even look pretty great. Sure I could do without some of the sagging and lines, but I’m sixty-five now. Every single line has been hard won and I’m particularly proud of the fact that the smile lines around my eyes far outnumber my frown lines.

But should my external be what really matters? To the world?

To me?

Sitting back and thinking about some of those comments, I realised that I am blessed every single morning I look at my face in the mirror, because I see my mum and dad reflected back at me in my own features.  They were good – good – people, offering me a childhood filled with love and security and values. What a wonderful daily reminder of those gifts they gave me.

Since then – and particularly since my divorce – I have been blessed with so many other gifts.

The love of friends and family.

My health.

Reasonable financial security.

I live in a safe, beautiful city in what was recently declared the second most wonderful country in the world.

Passions in my life including hanging out with friends and family, travel, storytelling of all kinds (watching movies, reading books and writing), learning, cycling, walking, cooking, my home, photography, working on this blog, listening to and playing music.

So, in the realm of things, how much should our looks – or our perceptions of our physical selves – matter?  Sadly in this day and age of social media, selfies and photoshopped images on magazines and billboards, it’s hard not to compare our outward appearance with those of others.

I read something the other day  – can’t remember the exact quote – but it was something along the lines of, “A beautiful woman loses her currency with every day that passes.”

But I look at my list above, and with every day that passes, I realise I am getting richer. My life-just-keeps-getting- better.

I know we all pay lip service to  the idea that ‘looks aren’t everything’, but sometimes we need to step back and really acknowledge, deep down in our souls, that all the other stuff that has nothing to do with they way we look – the real stuff in life – is what truly matters, and be very, very grateful for it. And if we have our health, we are doubly blessed.



The Power of Words

Photo by from Pexels

I have loved books and reading since that first Janet and John book in Primary 1.  When I was a child, my mum joked I had square eyes because my nose was always buried in a story. (Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five was my favourite!)   Until a few years ago, I always had several books on the go; one by my bed, one in the bathroom, one in the kitchen and one in my bag.

And then my husband left me and I could no longer concentrate on the printed page.  I tried to, but would find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again, the words refusing to connect with my brain, so I walked away from one of the passions of my life.

Until the last couple of years. Continue reading

Ghosted – Dating after 60.

A while back, I wrote about going out on my first date in over 40 years!  The first date went well, I thought, as did the following two.

And then he ghosted me.

It was the beginning of Covid and he hadn’t been feeling well, so I texted him to make sure he was okay.  No response.  I gave it a couple of days, then texted him again.  Still, no response. So I checked out his FB page. He’d added several posts in the days since I’d seen him.

I didn’t send a third text.  I’d got the message – loud and clear.

It wasn’t a great feeling.  I’d been so nervous about getting back into the ‘dating scene’ anyway, fearing even a small rejection after my husband’s massive one.

And here it was.

What was I going to do about it?

After my husband left me, I vowed – vowed – I would never ever risk having my heart broken again. I wasn’t going to even consider letting a man into my life again.

Maybe that had been the wisest decision? Maybe I should just stick with my original plan.  After all, Covid had put paid to social gatherings, and my life is good.  I have friends.  I am busy.  Until the pandemic, I was travelling.  A lot.

And yet…

Despite everything, those three dates had been fun.

I’m reading the book Everyone Brave is Forgotten by Chris Cleave. It’s set in the UK during WW2 and I came across this line.  “There are two kinds of dinner and two kinds of women.  There is only one combination out of four where both will be rotten.’

So maybe – maybe – when Covid is all over, I should replace the word ‘women’ in the above line with ‘men’.

A 75% chance of having a nice evening out – with no expectation of the relationship going any farther – is pretty good odds, don’t you think?

We will see.


The Power of Poetry

I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with poetry.  I hated it when I was at school, dabbled a bit in writing angst written lines when I was a teenager, then once I got married and ‘real life’ took over, it fell off my radar for years.


Until a few weeks ago when a writer friend of mine suggested we each write a poem.  I had no idea where to start, so she suggested we take a line from one of her favourites – Love After Love by Derek Walcott – and make that our beginning. Continue reading

The Power of the Picture

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

Photographs reveal lot about family dynamics, our emotions and self-belief.

I remember my mum looking through early family photos of my ex-husband’s family. She noticed that my ex and his sister were always thrust to the front of the photos, with their mother’s arms around them, while the other brother was left to his own in the background.  It didn’t just happen in one photo, but in picture after picture. It tells you a lot about their family dynamics, and the fact my ex-brother-in-law – to this day – still feels like the odd-one-out in the family.

Almost ten years ago, we – my ex and I, our two kids and their spouses – had some family photos taken outside our house.  They’re lovely pictures.  We all have our arms around each other, either in couples or as a large group.  It’s a family, whole and complete, where everyone belongs.

Since the divorce, we have a big family/friend photo taken on the steps of my daughter’s deck every Canada Day.  My ex isn’t invited, but everyone who is there for the Backyard BBQ and celebration is included in the picture, and we all jostle up against each other to be in the frame.  I love those pictures.

And then this week, my daughter arranged for us to have family photos taken in our local park by a Flytographer.  They’re beautiful images – three generations enjoying being together.  Some are formal, most are casual and relaxed, with the photographer catching some gorgeous candid moments.

But one image in particular caught my eye – and not for the right reasons.  It’s the formal group picture – me in the middle with my son and daughter and their families on either side of me. Each group has its arms around each other while I am standing alone. (When I discussed this with my daughter, she saw it differently – I am the centre of the picture. They wouldn’t be there without me.)

When my daughter and her family were being pictured together, she asked me to join their photo, but I changed the subject and didn’t join in.  I didn’t realise at the time why… but I do now.

Comparing the photo from ten years ago to last week’s, I realise that over the past five years, I have internalised a belief that I’m no longer worthy of being loved and wanted – by anyone.  I know, rationally, that my ex rejecting me – especially in the way he did – says way more about him than it does about me, but the person it’s had the greatest impact on – despite the amazing support of friends and family –  is me.

How could I not believe that my daughter simply wanted me in that photo?  There was no hidden agenda in her request.  No feeling on her part that she’d better ask me in case I felt left out.  The simple truth is, she just wanted me in her picture for me… and I chose not to acknowledge her request because of the way I subconsciously feel about myself since my husband’s rejection.  If he didn’t want me… why would anyone else?

I was speaking to a friend last week who was recently widowed, and I almost feel jealous of her.  She is in the throes of grief, but her husband didn’t choose to leave her.  She was worthy of love.

Me?  I guess I have more work to do on myself than I realised.  Even after five years, I guess I am not as ‘over it’ as my rational mind tells me I am.  That even though I am loved… I still don’t quite believe I am worthy of it.