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Nearly 10pm on the last day of my 40’s and it’s been really lovely.

I relaxed this morning and went outside with Coco to play … sunny at last.

Maeve Hamill dropped in an early birthday present from herself, James and Eoin (my prince) … a beautiful pair of earrings.

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My dear friend Lisa (we’ve been friends for 30 years) rang from Oz and we had a great chat … also got to say hi to her partner Kath.

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oh look … more bubbles … celebration time

I sent them photos of Ballinamore to tempt them over and Kath printed them all off … they’ll come here in the next few years and see why I love this town.

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In the afternoon a dear friend from Sligo … Marian … drive over to take me to Lough Rynn Castle for afternoon tea and champagne.

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She gave me a card and told me I wasn’t to open it ’til tomorrow … I will show restraint and new found wisdom … and not even look at it … no really … I will … trust me  …

Marian also gave me a bottle of this wonderful sparkling red … it’s a deep rich red wine with champagne added.

I do love efficiency … 2 of my fave drinks in one bottle!

And … she gave me flowers.

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I do soooo love being spoiled … I never did understand when people look at their presents and say ‘you shouldn’t have’ … me? … I love presents and the fact that people have thought of me.

We got to Lough Rynn Castle and there was … a huge wedding and a crowd from the John McGahern festival.

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My heart sank … would we get a table?

Yup … we ended up with our own room! … big couch and table.

We ordered the afternoon tea and a glass of champers … more (supposed) bad news … no champers.

So he gave us free prosecco which I prefer anyway … lighter bubbles.

And if anyone is reading this from the management of Lough Rynn Castle … the man that served us was exceptional … he had a problem (no champers for the lovely lady turning 50) … and found a solution (give her some free prosecco) … and was charming and helpful when the place was teeming with people.

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notice stylish haircut … Mags did it! And … thanks Mum and Dad for the great genes and smooth Irish skin.

We sat and chatted for 3 hours … me sipping a few glasses of bubbles … Marian sipping tea as she was driving.

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And guess what folks … you can have your cake and eat it … slainte.

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We went for a stroll around the walled gardens … beautiful.

Click on photos to enlarge

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I also enjoyed the forrest … particularly this japanese tree … love the curves and colour.

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The castle is beautiful and overlooks Lough (lake) Rynn … and … is only 15 minutes drive from Ballinamore … amazing.

The John McGahern crew were in the mobile cinema watching a movie … we get it in Ballinamore (the mobi cinema) once a week during the winter … interesting films.

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Seats around 50 ish … and is a big truck with wheels when it’s on the road … no idea how they open it all up … cool idea though

We came back home and Marian took a few photos of me and Coco … me still posh dressed … Coco just naturally beautiful.

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After Marian went home … and many many thanks Marian for such a delightful treat … spending time with you … and drinking bubbles … you started my birthday celebrations so very very well.

I went across to Brendan to give him the key to come in tomorrow and say hello to Coco when I’m in Dublin.

And there was a delivery of flowers from a wonderful woman and fellow blogger in Americamany thanks Anne & Patrick.

The bouquet is amazing … full of life and colour and glorious scent.

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I’m a very lucky woman to have so many wonderful friends all over the world … and a family I adore … and Coco.

So … I end my 40’s with champagne … and …

… will start my 50’s with champagne cocktails in Dublin with friends tomorrow … dinner (early bird special and still gourmet) in one of Dublins top places … Eden … with Mia and Shani and Mary and Billy and Jo and George. Then cocktails at a private club … Odessa … on their roof terrace … a gift from Shani.

It’s a damn fine life.

slan

Liz

p.s if you are a regular reader (love you) and you think the whole blog looks a bit different … never fear … you are not experiencing early onsent dementia … I’ve been experimenting with a new theme and can’t get my banner back.

Never fear … my fearless brother Marc will sort it next week.

I wanted more space for Pages and my banner and the old Theme was … old.

Time for a change … in more ways than one!

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It’s another glorious sunny day in Ballinamore … hush all you people who live in sunny climes … we see that golden ball in the sky so rarely that every sunny day is a celebration.

I was up at 7.30 and took Coco for a walk while it was cool.

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The street was nice and quiet.

I saw this boat in the canal basin and thought how lovely it would be to go on a wee boat trip and wake up in different places.

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The trees by the canal are really beautiful.

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Coco and I walked to the road that takes us down to the water treatment place.

I let her off and she went dashing down the road … I think she does have greyhound in her the way she races and runs.

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I was taking this photo and admiring the morning light when I turned and saw Coco running after a rabbit across the road … as a car came along!

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The driver was going very slowly and slammed on his brakes … I thanked him and Coco noticed nothing but the rabbit … gave me a mild heart attack.

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We walked along and I admired the boats that Locoboats hire out … think I’ll loll on this one.

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Coco ran to the fence to say hello to all the sheep … not sure they were as happy to see her … they all kind of moved away at a rapid jog.

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She just stood there smiling at them … gotta love the dog.

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Sometimes in Ireland you need to look very closely at our flowers because they are wee things … tiny flowers mixed in amongst all the green.

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The meadow is nearly all yellow now and the whitethorn is everywhere.

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I love looking up at the light as it filters through the leaves … amazed I haven’t been hit by a truck yet.

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We were walking along the road when I saw a car coming from the water treatment plant … nearly called it the waterworks … which would sound like a place where people cry a lot!

Anyway … I’m trying to call Coco back … no result.

The car slows down as she runs back … luckily not at the car… more to the side of it.

The car stops because Coco just keeps running close to me and then away. Good to see she’s not running at the car.

I pretend to be walking away from the car so Coco will follow me and the car can move on … that worked.

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I then said to Coco ‘sit … lie down … stay’ in a very firm voice.

She did it all and I was able to catch her and put the lead on … with lots of praise for her.

I’ve been working on SKIL2 (note to self … update the site and thanks to Marc for adding stuff) every since … had a call from my dear friend Lisa in Oz … great to catch up.

Dropped in and saw Mags who told me this hysterical story about waking up at 5.30am this morning to the sound of guitar strings playing!

Spooked her as she’d never heard of a burglar serenading the house before ransacking it.

She got out of bed and saw Adrians guitar up against the wall with one string loose … and Patsy the cat batting the strings!

As Mags was telling the story I was laughing so much I had tears running down my face.

I want a picture and video of it.

I want to send out a heap of love to someone I just adore … my sis Siobhain.

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I think she’s one of the best people I’ve ever known and I miss her.

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I love living in Ballinamore … just wish we could pull Oz a little closer.

Off to do some more SKIL2 work and maybe go for a bike ride to Riversdale and check out the pool … and take Coco for another walk later this evening.

Coco has been sitting/sleeping in her chair in my office … when she gets bored she just stares at me as if to say ‘entertain me‘ … I explained that until she got hands and learned to speak English … I was the sole income earner.

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She just kept staring … so I got up and threw the tennis ball around the lounge … yeh yeh … I know I’m a softy when it comes to Coco.

Oh yeh … I was looking at sites for accommodation for Marc and Yang.

They’re off to Washington, Boston and New York next week.

I found this great site where you can rent a room in people’s houses for 25 dollars and more.

The people know about their town/city and you get to stay in cool neighbourhoods.

Marc has emailed a few of them.

I was delighted to have helped Marc  … and … found a website before he did!

Off to Dublin tomorrow and  working with the Depaul SKIL2 Team on Friday … can’t wait … they are a bright and highly motivated group of people.

Slan

Liz

p.s Sharon asked me to let people know that you can give blood next week.

Here are the details

Just to let everyone know that the Blood Donation Clinic returns to the Community Centre in Ballinamore on Monday 8th June 2009.

Clinic times are 3.00pm to 4.45pm and 7.00pm to 9.30pm.

We were below the 100 donations at the last clinic so we really need to get above this number at the next one or we may lose it to another town.

Thanks to everyone who attended the previous clinics.  Please try to get to this one and if you can get there please bring a friend.

My blood is RH O Neg so I’m going to be very brave (I’m needle phobic … runs in the family) and go down there on Monday. I’ll be the one whimpering in the corner … and staying the longest. My blood takes forever to come out.

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You’d think that living in a small rural town ( in the County with the lowest population density in Ireland)  might be a little … isolated?

Surely I’d meet more people living in a city … people who could support my social enterprises?

Well wonderful (and deeply attractive) reader … you’d be wrong.

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Living in Ballinamore makes me deeply happy … it has become the core of my sense of peace and contentment …  and having that core … allows me to make leaps of imagination and risk I might not take if I lived somewhere else.

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Small is good.

I am surrounded by the best neighbours and friends a woman could ask for … people who look out for me (and I them) … people who (rarely) bat an eyelid as I talk about Life Dreaming and SKIL2 … they take delight in what I do … even if they aren’t quite sure what it is!

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And … Ballinamore has broadband.

It enables me to write this blog … email my brother Marc in Singapore as we develop Life Dreaming and SKIL2 … email family, friends and clients … research and learn online … connect on social networks …

It connects me to people I would never have met.

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Here’s an example of the serendipity and synchronicity that happens for me.

A woman left a comment on this blog yesterday.

Kim had read about Life Dreaming on Marcs blog and downloaded the workbook. She wanted to thank me for giving it away free (just click on the Life Dreaming button at the top of the blog for your free copy).

I read every comment people leave … and if the person has a blog or site … I go visit … it’s just neighbourly.

I visited Kims site and was fascinated by what she did … knowledge management lecturer and consultant … a Masters in Chaos and Complexity Science … an interest in empowerment of individuals and communities …

A kindred spirit.

I emailed her and introduced myself.

I told her about SKIL2 and asked her if she would be my SKIL2 KM/ Chaos/Complexity mentor … because what I’m trying to create in SKIL2 is an online learning space that captures and shares the complex and chaotic elements of workplace learning.

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Yeh … there’s a teeny tiny challenge … my learning curve is vertical folks.

She replied this morning that she’s love to be a SKIL2 Mentor … very cool.

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I now have SKIL2 Mentors in … design (Marc) … learning technology … computer coding … social media … KM/chaos & complexity … Joomla … global mentors that I found by wandering online and visiting heaps of sites and blogs … and then asking people to help …

My motto … you don’t ask you don’t get (and my other one is … moderation in excess … and excess in moderation)

Kim has a lot of great plans and she wants to use my Life Dreaming Workbook to focus and refine them … and every time someone says that the workbook is useful … I feel delighted and humbled.

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So … from reading Marcs blog … to leaving a comment on my blog … to me emailing Kim … to her replying … a connection of mutual benefit has been made.

I love how that happens.

I also love how many wonderful … complex … creative … and value driven … people there are in the world.

OK … the economy stinksand … there are literally millions of people who have hope and confidence and the guts … to create the lives they want to lead.

A life and a community that is not driven by doom and gloom.

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A life and community that has a belief and hope in its capacity … and audacity … to create amazing enterprises … to look out for their neighbours … to value the kindness and courage and sheer bloody persistence that’s in people.

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A life and community where people are prepared to try new (old) ways of living … barter … cooperatives … community gardens … skill sharing … recycling

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That’s not just my dream … it’s a reality… it’s so very doable.

So … I get to live in a great town … and … meet people around the world online who encourage and support me … as I hope I do for them.

Doesn’t get much better than that folks.

One more cool thing … Sharon (Cannaboe Confectionary) ... emailed me yesterday to say that some of my readers had gone to her site and ordered chocolates to be delivered … to other countries.

Some lucky people will soon be eating the chocolates … and all because they were online … read my blog … and linked to Sharon’s site.

Now … Sharon has a quality and value offering … and … she has a site that lets the world know about it … and she links to other sites and blogs.

That can only help create new customers.

By the way … if you’re an enterprising Ballinamore business and want me to link your site to this blog … leave me a note.

And … no … I don’t charge anyone to promote their businesses … that way I can write about who I want … and … I believe very strongly in our small Ballinamore businesses.

Did I tell you that Coco had me out of bed at 7am … on a Sunday … that’s why I’m writing at 8.30am!

Back to bed for a read and a cuppa.

Slan

Liz

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Guess who had me out of bed at 7.30am … on a Sunday?

Yup … Coco pup.

We walked out the back to … snow falling.

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Everything is white and I love the crunch crunch when you walk.

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The street is so quiet and still and I just stood in the middle and enjoyed the snow falling gently.

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I took a photo of Derek & Lynda’s ex cottage.

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Back in and the fire is going … Coco and I are relaxing on the couch in our lovely clean cottage.

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The big white blob in the top/middle of the photo is the nearly Full Moon … not snow.

I had an email from one of my dearest friend in Australia … Lisa.

She’s going to be in London at the end of February and want to treat me to a visit.

I’d walk all the way to spend time with her.

I was deeply sad to hear about the nearly 70 people who have died in the fires in Victoria (Oz).

Devastating.

Two of my brothers … Sean and Eamonn … have been firefighters for years and it’s just awful for the people who deal with the fires … as well as all the people who lose their homes … and their loved ones.

And the saddest thing is that many of these fires are started on purpose.

Our capacity for stupidity and harm  never ceases to sadden me.

And … there will also be stories of people helping strangers … putting themselves at risk.

These are the qualities that make me happy to be human.

Have a peaceful Sunday.

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mine is the pink cottage and Mags is in the red one

Slan

Liz

p.s. a half hour later and the sun is up … here are some day snow photos.

I let Coco run around a bit and she loves the snow … something new to sniff and play in.

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Here she is in the background … obviously just spotted a bird … she goes into a pointing position and stands very very still.

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Street still and quiet.

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A Snowy Sunny Funny Garden

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Can’t resist photographing the bare bones of trees … natures sculpture.

Mags shudders every time she sees these bare bones photos … she wants the lushness of leaf filled trees … soon Mags … soon.

And now Coco and I will relax by the fire … maybe go and build a snow person later … it’s really really cold outside.

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Happy Friday wonderful reader.

It’s been a lovely week … walks and play with Coco … time with friends … lolling by the fire … playing online … hearing from fab readers … cooking healthy food … read about 6 books (I’m a really really fast reader) … had the Magical Mystery tour (thanks Gabriel) … had long email chats with my sis Siobhain … took photos for Smyths shop …chatted with my brother Marc online … thought about SKIL2

Nice.

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My sis Siobhain (on the left) sent me this photo today. That’s Caleb and Bridie (her kids) … and Wendy (Seans wife) … and the limo that’s part of Seans transport fleet in Exmouth (west australia). Notice they are not wearing coats or scarves … yeh … sunshine. Too hot for me as it was around 40C+ … still … nice to see the sun and heat.

Went walking in the late afternoon yesterday and even when it’s a bit dull (weatherwise) the sky can be really interesting.

There’s a particular shade of light blue that I only see in Irish skies … and it always makes me happy for some reason.

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Coco … as always … was beyond delighted to be off the lead and running free.

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Today is my Ma and Pa’s birthdays.

When I was little, I thought that was how Mummies and Daddies got together … they were matched by birthdates.

Seems as good a method as any.

I never met anyone with the same birthdate as me … would that explain my single status? … nah … I just love living by myself with Coco.

Happy birthday to you Ed and Molly … and here’s to a thousand more.

I’ll be ringing you both as soon as I finish this post.

Off to lunch at Smyths with Miriam … want to chat about our DIY for women workshop … details will follow … but if anyone is interested leave me a note and I’ll get back to you to ask what you’d like to cover in a session.

And tomorrow evening Mags and I are having a wee farewell party for Derek and Lynda. Drinks and nibbles … all Irish … berry poitin punch … boxty … chocs from Sharon … local ice cream. Then down to McGirls much later in the evening. It will be fun.

To everyone … I send you big wishes for a relaxing and happy weekend.

Slan

Liz

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Me (this time last year) in Exmouth WA sipping champers on the beach … brother Eamonn provided bubbles … thanks bro.

2 days into 2009 and I’m still alive and kicking.

The weather here in Ballinamore is that wonderful clear freezing kind … no rain or wind … so you can just wrap up well and enjoy it.

Today Dee (The Forge) gave me a lovely knitted blue cap that covers my ears and keeps out the cold … and I bought some very warm gloves from her.

Coco and I had 2 long walks and she got to be off the lead running for a lot of the time.

When I let her off her lead it’s like letting a race horse out of the starter gates … she rockets off with her tail wagging madly and her mad dog grin across her face … always make me smile.

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notice the slightly glazed/crazy look in her eyes … spooky … imagine being addicted to fresh air and exercise … should be illegal!

Just back from the 3pm walk and the sky here is clear … and as the sun goes down there are streaks of pink.

It’s so peaceful.

I’m typing this  by a blazing fire and Coco is happily curled up asleep on the couch (after trying to eat a piece of my turkish delight … she has no shame).

I’m also sipping some of the elderflower cordial I made in the (faux) summer we had in July.

I froze a bottle so I could have the taste of summer in the cold of winter … lovely.

Come June I’d encourage you to go looking for elderflowers (pick on a sunny day around noon to get the driest flowers still full of their natural sugars) and make your own elderflower cordial.

I made lots of the cordial and shared it with friends and neighbours.

I also made about 16 litres of elderflower champagne with a dozen flowers … very very very tasty … and all gone now.

I’ll share the recipes in June.

Made any resolutions ? … I hear you ask.

That’s for next week when I do a huge life webmindmap on the wall of my office and have a think/feel about all the things that are important to me right now.

This is my week for dreaming and drifting… not thinking and acting.

The  life web & mindmap are two of the activities in my Life Dreaming Workbook … that I hope to publish this year … ahhh … one dream already dreamt.

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I will continue to write this blog … it’s 2 years old sometime this month … there you go … another resolution.

No more until next week … I’ll just let my unconscious have a dance before then.

I found out who sent me the toy Citroen Deux Chevaux … my dear friends Mary and John in Perth WA.

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Me with Mary in Perth WA last year … ahhh … short sleeves.

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John & Mary at a winery on our way home from a trip to their luxury villa by the beach in Oz … Feb 2008.

John has one of the long black Citroens gorgeous … that’s John and the car!

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Thanks Mary … the wee car is a dote and helps me keep focus on what I want … although the price for a real one will have to drop to make it achievable … or maybe someone will barter one for me … hmmmm.

I hope your 2009 has started well.

Slan

Liz


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I’m not highlighting a business in this post.

My sister sent me a letter that was written by the writer Erma Bombeck when she found out she was dying.

It was about what she would do differently if she had her life over again.

I thought about it and wrote this back to my wonderful sister Siobhain.

It’s off the top of my head and written in about 2 minutes … so don’t expect War and Peace folks.

Dear Sis,

I always loved Erma Bombecks writing … a down to earth and witty woman.

I’m grateful that you are in my life.

I’d not change much of how I’ve lived my life … but I would have liked to have spent more face to face time with you and the mad brothers.

I feel that I’ve lived my life with my heart and spirit … and definitely my ever whirling mind!!

I’ve had some really great times with family and friends … lots of laughterread more books than I can ever remember … drank lots of fab wine and bubbles (and mostly because I was happy) … really enjoyed nature … listened to my intuition … acted on impulse many many times … been crap in relationships … tried to be kind and generous … slept in lots … done stuff just because … not worried too much (hardly at all) what people think of me … cried and felt deeply … enjoyed eating … had dreams and made some of them happen … had my heart broken (more my pride) but never really been in love (that’s a regret) … had courage when I needed it … asked for help … was honest as I could be … played a lot … was always learning or exploring something … made a difference in some peoples lives … felt despair … felt elation … felt content more times than sad … got to be creative … had some individual style … found a hairstyle that suited me (big life moment! am growing it back to the bob) …

Not a bad life when I look at it … still more to come hopefully.

Love you Von.

xxxx Liz

Erma ends her letter by saying – Don’t Sweat the small stuff.

She has a point.

SO … this Christmas … enjoy the company of people you love without magnifiying their irritating characteristics … see what you enjoy in them … spend as little money as possible … actually … set yourself the wonderful challenge of seeing how you can spend less money … and speaking of food … don’t get yourself into a frazzled wreck trying to do everything from scratch … chill … buy some stuff ready made …

Basically … you don’t have to be perfect … everyone else doesn’t have to be perfect … no such thing as perfection … way too much hard work … and pretty dull.

I think the thing we probably all need is a little patience – with ourselves and others … and lots of deep breathes.

Leaving the room also helps when it all gets too much …forget about Paris or African safaris … bathrooms are great places to just get away from it all … and it doesn’t look like your having a tempermental fit.

I know it’s a great big cliche  … but taking the time to just reflect on what is good in your life (are you breathing? Great, that’s the first good thing) can help provide perspective when it feels like it’s all going pear shaped.

Me?

I’m going back to bed for a sleep in (can you call it that if you’ve already gotten out of bed?) …  and a read … then I’ll light the fire and decide whether I’m going outside into the cold and the rain today … we’ll see what unfolds.

Slan

Liz


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