Buckets of Lemons

So, it seems somewhat churlish, during what everyone else considers a mid-life crisis (despite the fact that to me it feels like the sanest life choice I’ve ever made!) not to have made a bucket list. Well dear reader, churlish I shall not be called, for a Lemonaid bucket list there is…

Now I kind of take issue with the term ‘bucket’ list, for various reasons. First I don’t want a list of things to do before I die, I want a list of things to do to feel and celebrate the joy of being alive! Second, well, after two children the word bucket takes on a whole new complexion (Lea had cesareans, so she’s currently gloating!!).

The Lemon List, as it has been renamed, is available for your perusal on the site, and will probably be added to at various points. When we tick something off, we will invariably write a thrilling piece about it for you to vicariously enjoy the experience. There is also a lemon lust list that would really get tongues wagging, so to speak – but that is X-rated 😉

So apart from feeling like an obligatory part of the perceived crisis (aka emerging maturity??! Just sayin’!) why a lemon list? What exactly is the point of sharing a list of stuff that we want to do and writing about it?

Well, it feels like an intrinsic part of the fizz in this Lemonaid. After all, you don’t leave the father of your children, upset their, his and your life to be miserable. We’ve done this to be happiness catchers, to open ourselves up to more joy, delight, love and fun. To be committed to living in an authentic and wholehearted way (don’t vomit, ’tis the truth). Lea was once ‘accused’ of living a life of pleasure, to which she was in full agreement that this was exactly her aim in life! This was not the expected response…I think she was supposed to feel ashamed. Not very Lea!

Yet we often feel guilty for this, believe that life should be hard or a struggle, that we must ‘work hard’ to deserve any good. For anyone who’s read any of Pam Grout’s books, you’ll know that this belief is just that, a belief. Not fact. Pam advocates greeting all experiences with joy (even the shitty ones) to open us up to unlimited happiness, believing that “the Universe is limitless, abundant and strangely accommodating”.

For me it’s about accessing my free inner child – you know who that is…it’s the part of you you would have been before all your stuff got in the way. My free child quite often pops out but never for quite as long as I’d like. She usually gets spooked by ‘shoulds’ and ‘normal’ life and expectations that go against who she is and what she wants to do. What I want is Pam pumped into me intravenously 24/7! – That sounds so wrong now I’m an outed dyke :0

So, our lemon list, we hope, will allow our spontaneous, happy, carefree, joyous little children to ‘come out’ to play, and, may just inspire yours out too! Right, off to manifest my menoporsche…

Deconstructing Defences At Dinner

One of the seemingly simpler things on our bucket list is to spend time with people we like as a couple. Coming together at this stage in our lives means we inevitably have different friends and social circles, and we’ve agreed it would be nice to be able to socialise with people we both like and can forge new friendships with, together.

This has been a challenge over the past year, as we’ve struggled to integrate and maintain existing friendships when the dynamics have so obviously changed. For in finding ourselves in love and openly displaying that, it seems to have thrown the proverbial cat among those damn pigeons. We’re fully aware that in daring to make difficult decisions and pursue our own happiness, it can hold up a mirror for others to look at things that, in their own lives, may feel a little too uncomfortable.

To cope we’ve inevitably turned ourselves inwards for a while – partly from the shock of discovering that not everyone feels quite as delighted about us as we’d hoped, partly because processing our shit together and having four kids to consider on top of work is a full time job in itself, and also because we adore spending time together…yep even doing the mundane shit like food shopping!

This weekend, however, we turned outwards and bucket list-wards, and had friends over for dinner. Joy, is a mutual friend who has known us separately, and Jo is one of Lea’s friends, and who is now also good friends with Joy, a fellow illustrator. We were flattered that Jo would choose to drive 3 hours on a Friday afternoon to come up just for the night – which was all the rest of us, as mothers, could spare (especially when she does cool shit in her spare time like go to Echobelly gigs! Jealous, me? Yes!).

Given my recent discoveries about the many defences I use to not be seen, I was nervous about the evening…

I had only met Jo once at Lea’s birthday, when I got drunk, played the loudmouth fool and didn’t really allow anyone to see beyond the ‘clown’ exterior. I’ve often felt intimidated by Joy, so I’ve tended to keep her at arm’s length in much the same way or become my Sid James-esque alter ego as a way of lifting myself up at someone else’s expense/discomfort. All to divert attention away from what’s really going on for me – feeling inadequate and not good enough.

A slight misunderstanding via messenger prior to their arrival didn’t steady my nerves and I went into the evening sure I wouldn’t be able to relax and allow the ‘real’ me chance to ‘come out’. However, Lea and I were in a very connected place, we’d spoken about me trying to relax into being me, she spent most of the evening physically connected to me in some way – so I felt loved and cared for and seen and held – and I’d had a big glass of Prosecco!

We spent a relaxed 5 hours together – eating, drinking, talking, laughing, playing guitar and various ridiculous percussion instruments, singing, eating some more and sharing quite personal and intimate things about ourselves and our lives. No unease, no sense of needing to hide, no feelings of needing to dilute my relationship and happiness with Lea to rescue anyone else. Just frank and honest conversations where we were all able to see each other and be seen in return – and accepted and cared about.

Given that this level of connection is something that I am always seeking, it was quite astonishing to find it so easily in two people I didn’t know that well and it was a relief to be able to allow myself to be seen, which is a credit to both Jo and Joy.

It was also interesting to have others see us as a couple and how, as part of that couple, we are seen differently than perhaps people expect to see us – with Lea, the dominant one, and me less so! Having others see us together – and how our roles are actually more fluid and interchangeable than that – feels like the reality of who we are is being seen more fully and showing more of each of us in our entirety.

After a year of feeling like we’ve had to water down and even hide our lemonaid, tread carefully on many fronts, and generally feeling unsupported in various quarters, the evening was a really important milestone for us.

It’s reminded us of all the messages of love and kindness we’ve had from less obvious places and, that as Joy herself so beautifully put: “Some people you inspire and some people get jealous. I shouldn’t worry about the jealous ones“.