I didn’t know I was allowed so much love in my life.


Books of my own

I’m going to have a book amnesty.  I recently did it with all my library books; it was such a huge relief that now I will do the same with my own books.  Basically it is a declaration that I am not reading any of them.  I seem to have about half a dozen books on the go, with bookmarks at various points in their pages.  Truth is I’ve drifted from them all.  This is no reflection on how I feel about their contents.  If I really don’t like a book then I’m happy to not finish it, which I know for some people is a travesty.  Not me.  In all these cases, though, I haven’t finished them because I’ve had other distractions, other areas to focus.  After a period of voracious reading, I’m not currently reading anything – the books are just sitting there in a pile.  Every time I glance at them I feel that I *should* be reading one of them as I’ve already made a start.  Still I don’t.

Enough of this cycle!  The bookmarks are coming out of them all.  If, when, I want to return to them then I can start afresh.  Ground zero, so to speak.  How light it feels already!  And I know already where my reading will recommence: back to my roots, to the origins of this blog, with Joanne Field’s A Life of One’s Own.

The Girl in the Grey Flannel Dress


I’m currently reading Ali Haggett’s Desperate Housewives, Neuroses and the Domestic Environment, 1945-1970 (Pickering and Chatto, 2012) for the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.  Without wishing to pre-empt my review, it’s a great book full of fascinating examples.  Haggett’s discussion of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (p.21) particularly caught my eye.  She astutely observes that this book (1955) and subsequent film (1956) were part of a broader trend of critiquing suburbia and the mass market conformity of the post-war decades.  I had never heard of the film but it piqued my interest because it echoed the title of a pattern featured in Woman in 1960: ‘The girl in the grey flannel dress’ (19 March 1960, p. 13).  It is not clear whether the pattern name was a deliberate reference to the earlier film, but it is unlikely that the staff writers were not aware of it.  It is tantalizing to imagine what their thoughts were: were they trying to evoke the film and if so, why?  Did they share its socio-cultural standpoint?  Were they adding a gendered dimension to its critique?  Or did they just think it was a good pun?  As is so often the case with researching periodicals, we cannot possibly know.  There is no way to find out the thinking behind the hundreds of small decisions that went into producing each issue of a magazine, yet we researchers may spend hours (nay, weeks and months!) grappling with a single sentence, trying to figure out what lies behind the words themselves.  Coming up with some kind of answer to all my questions would probably take more time than it would to actually make the grey flannel dress itself.  Maybe I should give it a go.


Carpe Weekend

As part of The Queen Sweep programme that I’m doing with the fabulous Anna Kunnecke, we were encouraged to spend a tiny amount of time each day working towards our big dreams and goals.  The reason for going with a tiny amount of time is that we have less excuses for not doing it, nor does the prospect of working on something for a short time intimidate us as much as thinking ‘I’m going to spend the whole afternoon on it’.  My tiny amount of time was five minutes per day.  I’ve been doing it for a week now and, oh my, it has exploded!  So much has happened, so much stuff has shifted, so many possibilities opened…and I’m also finding that I have much more than five minutes per day now that I’ve started on it.

I don’t feel quite confident enough to declare publicly what my dream is just yet, but one of the things that I’ve been doing as part of working towards it is start a document where I note down all my thoughts and ideas about it.  This includes questions to research, ideas to follow up and inspiration about what I could actually do.  As part of this, I was suddenly struck by the urge to start a weekly suggestion on my blog.  Inspired by the Rich Juicy Starry Beauty missive that comes from Anna Kunnecke each Friday and Susannah Conway’s ’Something for the Weekend’ posts, I want to create something similar.  I had assumed that this would be something that I do *one day*; one day being I don’t know when, possibly when Oprah asked me to write a column for her magazine or some other kind of external proof that I had the right to do this.  In this shower this morning, I though ’**** this.  I’m going to start it today’.  So here it is: my first Carpe Weekend post.

Carpe Weekend

Most of us are familiar with the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’, or ‘Seize the day’.  Yet rather than seizing every day, often it is only on the weekend that we feel we have time to stop, collect ourselves and breathe.  This feature is designed to help with that: a small suggestion, tip or hint for you to try (if you wish!) over the weekend.  Maybe it will make a difference to your life, maybe it won’t, maybe it will prompt some other thoughts.  Enjoy – and seize your weekend!

Start a memo or similar in your phone labelled Shopping List.  Whenever you come across something that needs replacing (or even better, will *soon* need replacing), or you remember an item that you want to buy, simply add it to the list.  I’ve found this really helpful when I spot that i’m running low on particular toiletries, especially because my phone is never far from hand.  

Delete the item once it is purchased, but keep the list ongoing – or even create a list of regular purchases, rather than having to think afresh every time you’re in the shop.  If you share the shopping with someone else, maybe you could create a shared list in Google Drive or similar.  Of course, having a list to hand doesn’t mean you’ll actually remember to look at it, but it’s a start!


Over the last six weeks, I’ve been taking part in The Queen Sweep, a group coaching programme with Anna Kunnecke, whose work I love.  So much has been transformed through this process, from the glasses I wear to the way that I see my time.  Much of the programme is about sweeping out the dross and allowing the beauty of one’s life to shine through, or for new beauty to come into the spaces created, both literal and metaphorical.  Such has been the change that after months of inactivity, I suddenly feel the compulsion to blog again and that I have the time (and head space) to do so.  I posted the other day, and just sat down to do so again.  Only my mind has now gone blank.  Oh the frustration, when I know that I have *so much* to say, so much to tell, so much to share with the world.  I had the same experience when I first started A life of one’s own; a vast amount of time angsting about it all then complete brain freeze when it came to write a post.  And coincidentally, that very first post came four years ago yesterday.  I hadn’t realized it, but Tumblr kindly sent an email to remind me.  What a journey it has been.  What a journey it still is.  What I didn’t understand then but that I know now is that this journey will always continue.  I will never get there, wherever there is.  The journey is all I have, all anyone has.  As we used to sing at primary school, ‘One more step along the world I go’.