Artistry

“My life is a work of art – and whilst it is only I who hold the brush, and hence, bear full responsibility for the landscape I create for myself – I give thanks to everyone who contributes so much colour to my world!”

Michele Harrod

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Your Absence

To say that I miss you is akin to referring to a hurricane as a ‘slight breeze’, an earthquake ‘a mere shudder’, a tsunami ‘a bit of a splash’.

Your absence has rendered my insides hollowed out.  As though my organs have been ripped from my core by vicious hands.  My lungs are squeezed in a vice, and I can barely draw air.

How is it possible that a heart so tormented continues to beat?  That this life force persists on pounding through these crumbling veins?  There is not a cell in my body that does not scream in denial of your leaving.

I claw the air – in the vain hope of capturing your essence.  Your scent.  Your spirit.  Or ripping out the eyes of Fate.

I crave the weight of your body on mine.  Your arm across my shoulder.  Your head in my lap.  And I die, piece by tiny piece.  As the knowledge of your irreversible departure seeps into my brain.  Like acid.  Burning this unacceptable truth into a soul that has no power to extinguish the pain. 

Your absence has become this ugly monstrous thing that sits in the room with me.  Mocking me.  I begin to whisper, begging you to return.  For surely this cannot be true?  Then later, gently pleading for my own sweet demise, so that I too can be absent with you.  But the monster simply roars with thunderous laughter.

© Michele Harrod October, 2010

Science and Spirituality: Separate, or just not properly introduced?

I’ve recently been having some discussions regarding some of the ‘New Age’ spiritual speakers who are becoming popular, such as Gregg Braden, and there seems to be much debate on his credentials and credibility.  I love listening to him speak – his ideas resonate within me and stir something dormant, and I feel excited at the possibilities he and his fellow specialists paint for us.  Oh, and don’t get me wrong, there are times I totally question it all too.  It is a form of faith in itself – trusting in ‘the light’ if you will, or in our own undeniable goodness!  I loved one analogy someone spoke of when discussing religion – that rather than one be right, and all the rest be wrong – maybe they are all right, in their own way?  And when I expand this beyond ‘religion’ I can look at all the actions we humans undertake, and give them a different spin.  With no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ judgements clouding my view.  Somehow I can even accept that animal cruelty (animal welfare being my choice of work in life) plays out a karmic role of some sort.  Otherwise I’d go mad with the utter insanity/injustice of it all.

Fear is indeed a major driver of all the things that are wrong in this world.  Fear of change, fear of the next guy ‘getting our share’.  Fear of not fitting in, and fear of losing our individuality.  Wow – what a battle we go through.  What warriors we are.  And our armor is – our Ego.  I think as humans, our job is to discover it, (which we do through our childhood), develop it (which we do through our teens and early twenties/thirties) and then totally destroy it (which we do by truly seeing the other person as exactly the same as us, that Oneness).  And literally, having no Ego block our reaction to them.

Hard to do.  It’s a feisty little monkey, the Ego.  It clings to us very tightly!!!  I often do what all scientists do, and hit the research papers searching for answers.  And then I think, darn, what if it really is this totally random, nonsensical thing?  What if there is no reason at all behind anything?  But then I remember the certainty I felt when I was younger.  Before I was ‘programmed’ to mistrust my neighbours, my fellow man, the world.  And most tragically – my own instincts.

And then I see the power of positivity – or love – and what can be achieved when the Ego is simply pushed out the back door by intensely powerful energies (these things sadly only happen in short bursts and on rare occasions, or in times of strife) but when they do, wow, I see our potential and it gives me great hope and excitement.  I saw this on the streets of Christchurch, after the 2012 earthquake – I saw humanity at it’s absolute finest, reaching out to help the next person in the street – and it broke my heart a little – knowing that it took such a terrible tragedy to pull that out of us.  Surely, we have it there, and can in fact, utilise that power every single day.  Why do we forget how to do that?

So, I am very interested in some of Gregg Braden’s ideas, I’m a scientist too, but I have always felt that science falls short by completely negating everything that it can’t physically measure. I have seen and experienced some incredible things that have had no basis in science, and are simply inexplicable from a scientific perspective, so I am what one might call a scientist with a spiritual bend. I think one day, when ‘science’ can measure the many things it currently denies exist, the human potential will be fully realised, and we will use our personal energies far more effectively and proactively. Science is just the study of what makes things work around us – and I think ‘science’ as a discipline is probably at the equivalent of primary school on the scale of all the knowledge that we are yet to discover. I sometimes wonder – if we hadn’t burned so many books in history, of great writings of the early Romans etc, if we would be years ahead of where we are now? The wisdom we have lost over the centuries is mind-boggling in itself.  Let alone the wisdom we have yet to attain.

I am convinced that we under-estimate the role every single one of us plays in the energies that create the world around us. I KNOW this, inherently – I can’t explain it, nor prove my hypothesis by conducting a repeatable experiment – but I love to explore the potential and power of human desire.  Probably because I grew tired of just witnessing the destruction that comes from human despair.

I like to think I live in exciting times where science will be turned on it’s head and made to say – “well, yes, there you go, that energy field really does exist – and just LOOK what it can achieve!!!

And I believe this ‘energy’ that Science remains baffled by – is DESIRE.  Albeit desire to survive, desire to attain, desire to love, or desire to destroy.  I think, somehow, it is what drives every single atom in our Universe.  It’s a very unscientific explanation isn’t it – but I even used to sit in classes, and have this whispering in the corner of my consciousness.  It is desire that drives our DNA to evolve – science can say we are a mutation, I say we were the result of a burning desire for ‘more’.  Just what that ‘more’ we are after is, is yet to be seen.

I believe we exude energy, be it peace, love, hope, desire, rage, anger, hatred – and the world around us responds in exact accordance to it. It’s that simple.  Turn on your television, and you will see the manifestation of our stress, our frustration, our anxiety ridden Ego, screaming inside for peace, but delivering only war and anger, and fear.

And also, do you notice how animals will respond to a person, so instantly?  THAT is to the energies I think we exude – science tells me this idea is just me ‘anthropomorphising’ the animal, ‘humanising’ it – to even imply it has ‘feelings’ or ’emotions’ like my own to even recognise ours.  And that it is in fact just scent, and some primal response from the animal.  But even if it is, it is something science cannot yet define.  “Give me the formula for that scent then”, I ask them – but they cannot!!.  So what chemicals do I release when I’m sad that makes my cat come up and snuggle even harder into my lap?  What is it I release when I feel intensely desolate, that makes dogs come running away from their owners and sit with me on the beach, and not just next to me, but crawling right into my lap and leaning into me, eyeballing me (this has happened twice, much to the shock of both owners).

I try to imagine that I can see that energy coming off others, or at least, I try to ‘feel’ it.  Especially when the ‘other’ is someone I react to in a negative way, someone who perhaps behaves in ways I find sickening.  Or believes in something I find untenable.  It is incredible how much forgiveness, or empathy I can create by doing that.  By seeing this frightened soul underneath the hard exterior.  A tiny loving person with an Ego that has sabotaged their inherent goodness.  This is how I manage to ‘process’ animal cruelty.  And it is how I try to process the madness that plays out on my television screen, whenever I turn on the world news.

I would do anything to be able to crush that aspect of the human ego, that allows us to kill, hunt, torture and maim – both animals and each other – all for reasons that are no longer valid or excusable.  I get very frustrated as a scientist realising how far away I am from finding the cure to this madness.  So, feeling into the ‘souls’ in the process – that helps me stay sane – and focused.  Because I have to believe we do, collectively, have the power to create that change.

That ‘Science’ and ‘Spirituality’ will, someday soon, meet – perhaps in a crowded bar.  They’ll strike up a conversation.  And start to enjoy each others company.  The piano man will sit down to play, and our new friends will clasp hands and start a slow dance.  And show us all how to move together, in a way that will take us to a whole new level of understanding.  Of sharing, and of loving.  Whilst burning with the DESIRE for a better world.

Image

I invite you to dance with me – to the tune of change.

Michele

© Michele Harrod 19th November, 2012

Photo retrieved from : http://manvela.com/rains-terrify-me/

Animal Cruelty – how to find the balance you need when you work in an emotionally challenging industry

Baby elephant on Koh Samui, Thailand

I am in my second year of University, studying Animal Welfare.  And I am often baffled at how the word “Welfare” actually made it into the title, because some days it seems I see so little of it – I think I am perhaps studying the ABSENCE of it.  And when you are in an industry, because of a strong driving love for those you are trying to care for, their abuse and suffering can be a very heavy load to bear.  And I am no saint.  I have dark days (and sometimes even months) where I conjure up all sorts of dire acts of revenge that I would like to dish out to my fellow humans.

But then I remind myself that I didn’t get into this industry to take my love away from humans, and give it to the animals.  Surely, the well of love is big enough to find enough inside of me for both.  And I don’t want to lose the love I have for my fellow man in this process – and yet sometimes, I feel like I come very close to losing it entirely.   So I have to work very hard to maintain a balance.  And it isn’t easy.

Some fellow animal advocates were talking about how difficult it can be some days to not actually ‘hate’ other humans, and I shared these thoughts with them.  If you also work in the animal industry, and have days of darkness, I hope these words can bring you some comfort and guidance to come back to a place of light.  The animals need you.  And the animals feel your love, so don’t ever let those people on the planet who haven’t yet found enough love in their own lives, steal yours away!!   Here is what I shared with them today…..

Ah, yes, I have been in that place of dark hatred many many times – and I still go there, often.  But believe it or not, I have found a way to ‘understand’ my fellow humans.  And I work very hard on finding a place in myself where I can also forgive them.  And it is so incredibly hard, and some days I just get so damned angry that there is no forgiveness inside me.  But them I quieten back down, breathe deeply, and hit the meditation pillow again.  And rather than ask – “why do they do that” – I imagine that I am that person.   I try to find that place of ‘Oneness’, rather than ‘Separation’ (that is the core of all the world’s problems).  I try to imagine/understand their background, what has happened to them, influenced them – remembering that they may not have had my education, or been exposed to the things I have in my life.  And I try to imagine – “how could I have done that”“What messed up way of thinking did I fall victim to, to act this way”?   And as strange as it may sound, I become flooded with answers.  I feel the gaps in their lives, the sadness, the desperation.  The stories they have been told, and that they have brought into that have shaped the lives they live.

And then, I come back to the one thing I truly believe – and that is simply this – I believe that when we die, it isn’t ‘God’ in heaven who judges us – I believe it is US, who judge ourselves.  From a place of pure love, where our ego has completely disintegrated – and I imagine we must be utterly appalled with our actions at that point, if we haven’t gone through a major process in this life of changing things – if we’ve wallowed in ignorance or been too ‘lazy’ to care or make the effort to change the world around us.  If our ego has totally over-ridden our heart.

And I think we judge ourselves very, very harshly indeed.  So that gets me thinking even more – and  then I wonder if the suffering we see in the world, is in fact, the manifestation of all of that shame – that we actually ASK and WANT to come back here and suffer to pay for our past sins. (A sort of self-directed Karma if you will).

So, I could then be very cynical and say “well, let them all suffer – they are probably right, they absolutely deserve it”.  But then I remember, I too am human.  I too have made very poor choices at times.  And I am sure will in the future too, sometimes not even intentionally knowing the suffering I might cause to another.  I was born into a culture (white European) for which I feel immense shame for the many things that have been perpetrated by ‘my people’ in history.  In the name of Elitism, in the name of Eugenics.  I have born that shame very deeply at times.

And I could just say – hey, it wasn’t actually ME that did that, and anyway, I can just let it all play out, it can’t all be my responsibility – but then the cycle just goes on and on and on.

Instead, as hard as it is, I sit with the horror and disgust, and rather than push it out of my mind, or fight it – I let my soul take it on board, and I just end up feeling deep, unending sadness for every single soul involved in this circus called life.  And I wish I had the power and capacity to forgive every single one of them – because then, maybe it could stop? But, as hard as it can be at times – I really do find that forgiveness.  I found forgiveness for myself for my own bloodline, and I found it for my past eating habits.  And I find it, even in the times I truly doubt it will come, for those I perceive as the most vile and terrible people on the planet too.

And one by one, I process that, and I can only hope that that will be one soul who WON’T choose to come back and play a part in this disgusting suffering any more.  I then imagine the power that could be wrought if we could all find this forgiveness, and start spreading it outwards now.  The entire planet seems to be so desperately in need of it.

If I didn’t think these things – I’m pretty sure the hatred would have overwhelmed me by now, and all I would then succeed in doing is feeding the negativity and probably doing something insanely stupid like taking out a few misguided individuals, in my pursuit of justice.  And then losing my own life or sanity to the unconquerable despair.

And I’d be damned sure I was right in doing that too.  Until I died – and then found myself sitting there, ready to pass that judgement on my own life.  And I would see those people as the pure souls they actually are, underneath the covering of ‘personality’ they were born into.  And I would look at myself, in the space of pure and utter love.  And I know, with all the hatred gone – I wouldn’t be happy with the choice I made.

So, FORGIVENESS.

This is the only solution.  And when you get to a place where you can find it, I swear, it empowers you to create change in a way anger never can.  And when it gets really hard, and you think that forgiveness is unachievable – just go watch an abused animal reconnect with a human being – they are the EPITOME of forgiveness – and they might just be here to teach us to be the same!!!

I think it is in books, photography and music that I find the ability to reach this forgiveness plateau.  They are like lights at the end of long dark tunnels at times – and I need to revisit them often, and immerse myself in their beauty.  To keep the darkness at bay, and connect with the infinite flow of love that is buried within us all.  And I think it is important to reach out, to others who share your passion, and understand the depth of the grief that can accompany it.  Sometimes I feel very alone here, fighting the world in what sometimes seems such an un-winnable battle.  But then I meet one other person, who’s passion shines even more brightly than mine – and I am reminded – we may be spread far and wide, but we are an army, and we are strong, and we are a TEAM!!!   Together, we just may change the world.

So wherever it is you find your peace, visit it often.  I hope it can bring you comfort too, so that the darkness doesn’t overwhelm you.  Remember – the animals need you, and I am very proud to be on your team!!!

© Michele Harrod 05.11.2012

Words of Wisdom for the New Arrival

Today I wrote a card for a friend who has just had a new baby. I wanted to offer some sage words of advice for this wonderful new human, and it got me to thinking – if I could sit with him today and tell him the top 5 most important things I have learned at this moment in time, they would be this….

1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are indeed a wondrous, rare and precious miracle – as is every other wondrous, rare, precious and miraculous human being on the planet. Love them all as much as you can – 99.9% of them are inherently good – they are all, at times, a little bit lost and often confused, as you will be too. But provided you can remember not to take yourself too seriously, you will find your way. And with good humour, and a heart filled with love, you just might help a great number of those other rare diamonds find theirs too.

2. Perspective. Gain it wherever you can, and judge nothing until you have considered it. Every view of the world is unique to the observer. You will feel intensely right at times, yet viewed from another’s perspective; you may find that a fact is more of a mirage, than a solid object. You may learn that you can also not be exactly right about all things, and that your opinions, like the wind, can change. Always be open to this, as the world will change around you every single day. Be ready to dance to her evolving music. Life may be a foxtrot one day, and a tango the next. Don’t be stuck in a place, or perspective, that no longer serves you.

3. Everything isn’t your responsibility. But be responsible for every action you take. Don’t take the world on your shoulders, as it isn’t your load to bear alone. Sometimes it is OK to ask for help, and it certainly is OK to say “No”. You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, but you are always responsible for how you handle their heart, in the process of the pursuit of your own freedom. Be kind to everyone.

4. The best things in life are free. From the moment you open your tiny eyes, we will be bombarding you with marketing campaigns to make you ‘want’. Society will demand that you ‘crave’, and your ego will demand that you ‘have’. When the screams of advertising become too loud, step outside and sit with your old friend Mother Nature. She bears you gifts every day of unbelievable abundance: the sea, the trees, a lake, the birds. Walk the streets and watch the people. A smile may befall you from a stranger, a tune from a street musician. Talk to an old man at your local library. Lie with your head next to an animal’s chest and listen to it purr. These free things will add more value to your life, and light in your heart, than any object you will ever buy. Feast on them.

5. This too shall pass. There will be days of great joy and days of immense sadness. All will pass. Days to come may surprise you, or delight you. They may break your heart, or light it up like a sky filled with fireworks. Let these come as they will, but don’t ponder them too much before arrival, nor dwell on them too long after their departure. Today is the day you should spend most of your time in. This moment right here, that you have right now, in the palm of your hand – this is your life, treasure it. Live every single moment with everything you have. For this too shall pass.

Vineyard’s Own Cure for the Flu

I started this blog from the confines of Lurgy Quarantine a couple of weeks back, as I was struck by the dreaded bug that seems to wreak havoc as the seasons start to change and tease us with promises of spring. I have been astounded by the numbers that were down with me over the last few weeks locked away in sickness, and by the innumerable modus operandi that this clever little virus uses on different people. For me it started with a sore throat – and I mean sore. Cut glass jammed in your tonsils and a bonfire at the back of the throat would be a good description. So it’s off to the chemist for Difflam, and Benatine throat gargle (that alleges to kill both bacterial and viral infections). I am sure I will be all sorted by tomorrow! By 5 o’clock that day, none of these things have made an ounce of difference, and I’m slugging ice and the ears feel like they are about to explode out the side of my head. So it’s off to another chemist, and after loads of sign language, (as it really is so bad that even words can’t get pass this throbbing red mass right now). Something for the pain, I manage to imply, and some Strepsil throat spray comes home with me. With the first spray, the only analogy that comes to mind for me is ‘pouring petrol on fire’. And I paid for this?? Finally, I realize that what I really, really need is a good old Nurofen hit.

I am almost at the point that I’d willingly mainline it, but thank goodness for the new fast acting stuff, I just drop a couple of tablets and about twenty minutes later- what a relief. Why is it that we think of all of these external cures, like lozenges and sprays and gargles, when at the end of the day, it’s what’s going on inside your body that is the problem. So my tip for you is – painkillers first. Well, this war is over I’m thinking as I finally sit back with a sigh of relief. A sigh that doesn’t make my throat bleed – you have no idea how heavenly such a simple thing can seem. A nice hot bath, a quiet night, and she’ll be right. Oh, how I underestimated you!

The next day, the chest infection starts. A bit of a cough builds up, and it becomes increasingly hard to breathe through the litres of liquid rubber that my chest seems to have produced overnight. It’s a wonderous thing the human body – it plans to drown the virus you see. Very clever. It’s just fails to understand that we will drown too if we lie down with this. And it’s not just trying to drown the bugs in my chest, but in my eyes and my nose, oh my goodness, it is flooding in here. Not sure if you’ll all remember the 80’s TV series “The Young Ones”? But right now, I feel like Neil in the episode where he was expelling so much gunge, his flatmates nailed a black rubbish bag over his head. It seemed so hilarious on the telly at the time. Poor Neil. I’m sorry I laughed, really I am.

So I manage to sort of sleep, sort of sitting up, for the next three nights. And then finally, it is back to the chemist – for the Codral Night and Day. I have to make a plea here – I am all for the John Key plan to eradicate the plague of P in this country. But John, you can’t take away my Codral Night and Day. Not unless you run a jolly good special on black rubbish bags, nails and good loving health care trained flatmates. I’d be doomed. Seriously.

Today, I finally relented and actually went back to bed for a nap. It lasted 5 hours. I feel like I’ve smoked half and ounce of pot my brain is so fuzzy. And I’m sure I still have enough rubber in my lungs to produce a couple of spares for the next Indy Car challenge. But I feel like I’m winning here. We don’t just have colds for a couple of days anymore. Colds like to behave like fine wine, They want time to ferment. Between one and two weeks it seems, just like wine again. Interesting! And during this time, yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape into ethanol (which is of course, alcohol) and carbon dioxide. Liquid is then transferred to vessels (just like from chest to face perhaps?).

Such similarities. I have decided to marry like with like. I am so totally repulsed now by the sickly sweetness of cough mixtures and throat lozenges, that I have decided to turn to the medicine of the gods. Wine and Whiskey.

So I’m now off to find a good heavy Cabernet Sauvignon. And of course science now agrees that resveratrol, a compound found in all red wine, will reduce the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s. So it’s really a very positive thing. Thanks to this cold, I’ll now have some lovely red wine, and chances are, I won’t forget the name of it either! Splendid. So if you are laid up somewhere with the horrid bugs, just remember, that there really is a bright side to everything, and like good fermentation time, even flu’s come to an end. Hang in there, have a drink, and take the time out that your body is telling you it needs.

Gee you look a lot like…

 I have the sort of face that was never meant to be photographed.  Truly, you’d be lucky if 1 out of every 100 photos taken of me even resemble a human being.  I have large features, and they are not remotely symmetrical – which is apparently the foundation on which ‘beauty’ as we know it, is measured these days.  Perhaps many years ago, I would have been the perfect model for the great artists (certainly Picasso – in fact, I think God might have been having a day of dabbling with the Picasso look when he made me) and every year, I can certainly see that I am becoming more of a Rubenesque work of art than ever before. 

 But remarkably it seems that I have a face that always reminds people of lots of other faces.  For years I have been compared to Stevie Nicks, Charlene Tilton, and Kerre Woodham.  And at first I was rather miffed when people made these comparisons – not because these women weren’t all utterly fabulous, but because I was trying so damned hard to be like ‘Michele Harrod’, that I felt like all I was managing was to be a mere shadow of someone else.  And I was desperately wanting to make a far bigger impact that that. 

And I just couldn’t see the resemblances at all.  I wasn’t a great fan of Fleetwood Mac at all, so really hadn’t even seen many shots of Ms Nicks. And whilst I was a huge fan of Dallas, Charlene was just little Lucy, and I wanted desperately to be like Pamela.  And I had left for London when Kerre Woodham had first hit the scene on TV and Radio, so was really quite unsure whether to feel complimented or offended on that one.  When I got back to NZ, there were mixed messages out there in the world of media about Ms Woodham.  Which ‘one’ of her did people think I was like.  I was remarkably suspicious.  And the comparison was relentless.  I used to wonder, does Kerre Woodham ever get told – hell, you remind me of Michele Harrod?  It must drive her nuts!?   

I had the same wild curly hair and of course, now that Kerre’s book is out (From Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner) I can completely understand – I am indeed a short fat chick.  And I do have a rather loud and distinctive laugh…   

I was recently clearing out an ancient chest, with my treasured childhood toys – my Rupert Bear, and Noddy and Big Ears Annuals, my matchbox cars, (that are still in that sturdy little cardboard bag with the metal handle that was later my first school bag), and my buidling blocks.  Really, it is quite incredible I never ended up a city planner, or in politics, with that sort of educational foundation!!  And there amongst this paraphernalia of the past, were years of photo albums.  As I was going through the photos, I stopped in sudden shock.  Oh my goodness, there was a photo of Stevie Nicks at one of our parties at the flat in London?  I don’t remember her being there?  Ha, I suddenly realised…. I really did look like her back then.  A lot.  You remember that really long frazzled hair we had back in the eighties, well before any decent product or my now revered GHD’s came into existence to get all of that wildness under control?  Wow, how cool, to have looked like the great Stevie Nicks.  I did have to laugh.

 And late last year marked the 5th birthday of the Sunday Herald.  Oh my, I can still remember the day the Sunday Herald was first published.  I had grabbed a copy and there was Kerre Woodham’s column.  This was when I began to really see who Kerre Woodham was.  And I remember reading it and actually yelling, YES, I totally agree!  I was almost exploding with pride.  She ‘speaks’ just like me, thinks just like me (or rather – I think just like her).  And I’ve been a converted follower ever since.  Her wit, wisdom, and wry rhetoric leaves me in awe.  So, needless to say, as time goes on, I feel truly honoured to be told that I remind people of Kerre Woodham.   In fact, I feel a bit like a fraud, like I have to step-up. 

 And to think I used to get miffed.   Sadly, now there is less and less chance anyone would spot any similarity.  I gave up with the long curly hair a few years back.  And the simple fact of the matter is – I’m never going to have the audacity – or the courage – to step up and run a marathon.  I believe I should get a gold medal when I get off my butt on a weekend and walk around Western Springs.  At least a bronze if I just nip round to the dairy and not take the car.  No, Kerre has surpassed my realm of ‘likeness’ and gone on to uber-fab.  And sadly, I feel a tad bereft.  

As a younger woman, evolving from the tom-boy that I was … (come on, surely you got that – Rupert Bear, matchbox cars and blocks?  There wasn’t a Barbie in site – I was like a little female Pinocchio – a lost cause on ever being a real girl) … I in all my arrogant and youthful glory, felt it rather insulting to be compared to other women.  Then the older I got, and the more wonderful female friends I acquired, my admiration and respect for these glorious creatures just grew and grew.  Suddenly I found there were role models that I was secretly aspiring to all over the place.  I was, for years, convinced that I would wake up at 32, and be just as dignified and graceful as my heroine of the time, Princess Di.  But alas, not one iota.  Still far more like the husky, bolshy, loud, power packed bomb-shells that are Stevie/Charlene/Kerre.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

 I’ve crossed over to the ‘dark side’ now– out of the perfect thirties, and into the forties, where everything that we once thought so important starts to literally drop off, like old ceramic tiles that can no longer cling to the bathroom wall.  And at last you realize, that all the regrouting in the world is not going to restore this bathroom to its former glory.  It’s time for a total makeover.  Finally I have quit the fantasy that I will attend Yoga and Pilates classes 7 times a day and end up with a body like Gwenyth.   And there is nothing sad, or sorry about this transition either.  I can’t tell you what an enormous relief it is to finally not have the pressure of having to LOOK like someone else.  

 Now it’s all just about the being.  Being me, and finding ways of dong a better job of being just that.  Day after day.  And that’s where I am suddenly finding massive inspiration from all of these wonderful role models, all right there around me, shining like the glorious stars they are.

 So I’m watching you closely Kerre, you are leading the way.  And I have to confess, having seen Annie Whittle in ‘Four Flat Whites in Italy’ earlier this year, and having had the pleasure of immersing myself in Peta Mathias’s “Can We Help It If We’re Fabulous”, I am suddenly incredibly excited about the future.  I’m even excited about the concept of being 50 one day.  How utterly magnificent!  I have even considered trying on an outrageously floral Trelise Cooper dress, and have already purchased a pair of her gorgeous reading glasses.   Yes, really, I need reading glasses – I’ve finally made it!   

I’ve quit worrying about the bits of this body that I have tried viciously to change over the years without one iota of success.  When I’m out in public, I’m now highlighting the positive, and positively hiding the rest!    Those bits are MY secrets, and if you can’t see them, then I don’t need to worry about them.  How simple it has always been.   I’d heard that famous line – that women are like fine wine, and improve with age.  I can assure you, when you are young fresh Reisling, you think this is the biggest load of codswallop you have ever heard.  But as I pass from a lively Pinot Noir into a develping Merlot, I now cherish my continual improvement into a wonderfully rich port.

And look, I’m the first to admit, we ladies give up on it being ‘all about the looks’ simply because the ‘looks’ give up on us.  Nature is a vicious fiend who can strip your dignity down with one foul pull of gravity the minute you’re not paying attention.  And the fortunate ones amongst us, we leap off the beauty wagon and to that character train just as fast as our growing thighs will allow us.   Gravity ADORES character.  It seems to pull the sheath that we have kept it covered up in for years, (our skin perhaps?) out of the way so like a glorious flower, our true selves can emerge.  And then the real party begins.  So, the next time someone says…”gee, you know, you sure remind me of…..”, smile, and hope like crazy they are right!