They don’t call life a rollercoaster for nothing. You have a dip, and then suddenly before you know it, you are climbing back up the ladder of life and squealing with delight at the top of the world. Does the universe just work it’s magic sometimes without you really knowing? I really believe it does. Could I ever have imagined a year ago when I first thought up the idea for a week’s writing retreat for my 40th birthday present, that the week that I chose was probably the week in my entire life when I would need it most?
All the dips of the last year – lost babies, a medical maelstrom, chromosomal chaos – have been overtaken by the climb back up. I write this with the sun on my face (yes, the universe even chucked in some hot sun on the west coast of Ireland in March to prove it’s mystical magic). I have found a peace I don’t think I’ve felt in years. Even the six hour drive was a treat – I’d piled up the passenger seat with CDs I haven’t listened to in years, and belted out my youth as the sun shone on my road to the sea. I arrived on Sunday, and admittedly felt like the twelve year old who has arrived at boarding school. I missed home, I missed my girls, my room looked lonely and I was the new girl. But when I woke up on Monday morning in Anam Cara (Irish for Soul Friend) and pulled back the curtains, I literally stopped breathing. And I realised this place really was going to be a friend to my soul. The sort of friend who throws a blanket round your shoulders, bakes you a chocolate cake and hands you a slice with a large mug of tea. The view still takes my breath away. The desk in my room is against the window and every time I look up from my laptop I am still surprised by the beauty. The shimmering sea glistens in the crook of an arm of mountains and cliffs. I’m in the land of ancient celtic heritage. Mystical stone gatherings and folklore litter the landscape, while my own literary landscape has become as endless and textured as the mountains around me.
I write every day, and I walk, and I talk with the other writers here. Even my belly is swelling with happiness – although more to do with the freshly collected egg breakfast every morning and warm baked blueberry muffins, rather than my busy baby. As a self-diagnosed terrible sleeper, I am shocked to find I have to prise open my eyes in the morning to break the seal of sticky sleep.
This is a very special place, and a vey special time for me to renew, regather, regenerate – to write and sleep and to think (there are so many glorious places that make you want to stop and contemplate life it’s amazing any writing gets done at all!) I needed this. So thank you universe for conspiring to make this happen, and thank you hubby for taking care of our girls for a bit so I can take care of me.
Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.