I have always loved the sound of autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet, it makes me feel like I’m in a film. I imagine the opening scene of a raw, honest movie about a woman’s life.
She’ll go through struggles, misunderstandings and funny moments but ultimately the film will end with new friendships and light at the end of the tunnel as they always do.
I struggle finding the right song for the opening titles and skip through the playlist in my head, with the record getting stuck at ‘A thousand miles’ by Vanessa Carlton.
I don’t even like that song much.
Well, it’s alright, but not the song I want to represent my character and it has nothing to do with the plot-line of this film that doesn’t, and never will, exist. But in any case, it’s certainly not a love story, so the song’s wrong.
I tell myself that I will spend more time looking for a song that fits when I get home to remember for next time, but I never do.
My train of thought is always interrupted by the sounds of the kids playing on the tree down the path, the one with the rope swings.
The walk to Tesco Express is a short one but beautiful, as it sweeps along the natural part between the houses which is virtually untouched, apart from the path that has been worn down by people’s feet.
Trees and bushes line the way until the left side drops dramatically to a huge field lined with houses, the kind that looks like it would be an incredible sledging arena.
When we finish our shopping, the kids always run down the bank, screeching with joy as the hill takes their feet faster than their brain assumes they can go.
‘Can we go to the tree?’ They ask, running there anyway, knowing I always say yes.
I enjoy that little window of time, slowly catching up to them at the swing tree. It’s the time I get to myself to swim in my own thoughts and pretend movie.
‘NO! IT’S MY TURN!’ I hear in the distance, breaking me out of the jukebox in my head.
I noticed the feeling of the big bag of spinach I was clutching between my fingers and worried that a leaf was caught and I was bruising it.
Nope, all good, the bag just felt thicker as it had folded over itself.
It would have fit in the bag I had over my shoulder, but then it would have gotten crushed under my armpit, so I had decided to carry it separately.
‘Huh…’ A sudden realisation hit me. ‘I am a proper adult now.’
Whatever that means.
In the context of this scenario it’s a comparison to the way I used to be, not so long ago in the grand scheme of things.
I was the woman who would throw stuff in my shopping bags with reckless abandon, not giving two hoots if the apples would bruise because I was only buying them to feel like I was making an effort to be healthy, not to actually eat. I was the woman who was actively participating in throwaway culture, forcefully yanking things that were stuck behind something else in the airing cupboard even though it would rip the paint off the walls as it scraped itself free and damaged anything sitting in it’s way, just breezing through life lazily with an ‘i’ll deal with it tomorrow or just buy another one.’ attitude.
Now, I’m certainly not perfect, but I am much more mindful of my responsibilities and think about the impact of my actions.
I am less wasteful and flippant, even when it comes down to a simple bag of spinach.
I read an article the other day and it said something like (can’t be bothered to find it) statistics show that by 2020, depression will be the second most common health complaint. Most of us go through life berating ourselves, and we all know that has a lot to do with the messages given to us by the media. Feelings of not being good enough, not being pretty enough, not having your shit together enough, not being an organised enough mum etc… That doesn’t leave a lot of room in our minds to notice and acknowledge when we have grown and ‘improved’.
Unless it’s a specific journey we have tasked ourselves with, such as losing weight for example. That gives us actual numbers to keep track of and see changing in front of our eyes… but all the rest slips by un-noticed.
When I was a kid, I used to watch my mum in awe. All she was doing was peeling carrots, but that seemed awesome to me. The way she stripped the skin off of dozens of long orange vegetables with such speed and professional precision. Simultaneously swapping a peeled carrot for an unpeeled one whilst knocking a rouge slither of skin into the bin without even looking.
‘I’ll never be able to do that!’ I’d think to myself.
About two and a half years ago, in the throws of life as a breastfeeding, hormonal mum with a 3rd baby, I sent my mum a text reminiscing about watching her cook and told her about the carrot story.
‘I have just burst into tears because I am now that mum! I am now peeling carrots super fast and I never thought I would be able to!’
We laughed at how hormonal I was, but it was true!
All these new skills we acquire through life go completely unnoticed in favor of focusing on all the stuff we can’t do or haven’t achieved or the great successes of our corporate peers… the road we never drove down in favor of something society deems ‘less than’.
I have made a decision to notice the small things I have achieved, all the awesome things I have progressed with and positively acknowledge my own journey.
What about you?
Sure, having a high flying career, running a marathon or owning your own house is fantastic… but what about all the things you’ve missed?
What about all the little things you wished you’d be able to do as a kid, looking up at 21 year olds thinking they were the epitome of adulthood because they could drive and had a bank card?
What did you wish you could do then, that you do now without even thinking about?
I am 30 years old, and I now think about how I pack my shopping bags so that things don’t get crushed.
The spinach in my fridge is pristine.
That’s pretty awesome progress.