Some time, around the age of fifty, I seemed to become invisible and I didn’t like it!
I have never been the ‘shy, retiring type’ more renowned for speaking up and speaking my mind, a bit ‘gobby’ perhaps.
…… I’ve often said my mouth works faster than my brain and so the right words don’t always come out. For this reason, if nothing else, people would remember me, even if their recall might be: “You mean that woman with the big mouth!”
…….I would be introduced to people and a couple of weeks’ later if I met them again, they would seemingly have no recall of ever having met me. If it had happened once I might have accepted it as a minor mistake, but when it kept occurring then I began to get upset. I even began challenging people. By people, in general I mean men. Now OK, if I’m introduced to an eighteen year old boy, he is not going to care who I am or even concentrate on the introduction, but when it comes to a guy who is anything from say a couple of years younger to any age older, then I expect some glimmer of memory. But nothing! Which told me one thing – I’d lost my appeal, my looks, my sensuality, my desirability, my very being.
…….Or, was it the f****-ing menopause? Had it done something to me? I’d sailed through it. It didn’t exist in my head, I ignored a flash of heat, I was no more moody than normal, (or so my daughter kindly told me,) but clearly something was very wrong.
“Maybe it was the MALE menopause?”
But then I began to see it through different eyes. Perhaps it wasn’t really me, perhaps it was THEM. Those men who were so sure of themselves a few years ago, guys at the top of the management tree, company directors, managing directors, owners of businesses, THEY had mostly taken early retirement or at least passed the reins to a younger team, still taking the money but losing the responsibility. Maybe it wasn’t ME who’d lost my status, maybe it was them? Maybe it was the MALE menopause?
“Suddenly I didn’t care what anyone thought!”
As soon as I saw the situation through new eyes, I for one, felt much more confidant. Suddenly I didn’t care what anyone thought, I decided I was going to be myself. I’d be loud if I felt like it, quiet if I didn’t, I’d occasionally flash flirtatious eyes, (in the safety of the husband’s ring-fence,) and I’d chatter away as much as I wanted and if my companions didn’t know who I was, what the Hell!
When you swing something around and look at the situation from the opposite perspective it can be very different.
“So many women lose their feeling of value as they age…. If this feels like you, stop right now! “
……If this feels like you, stop right now! You have every reason to be proud of yourself, so hold your head high, push your shoulders back, tighten those core muscles, stride forwards and ‘own it’.
‘One simple act of kindness might make a huge difference to someone else’
Sometimes it’s much easier to be cruel than be kind. Children for example, are often naturally spiteful, teenagers thoughtless when it comes to the words they choose and even as adults, it’s often much easier to criticise family, friends and work colleagues rather than praise or encourage them.
I remember returning home after my first term as a student and saying the words: “I will never live at home again!.” For my part it was a totally throw-away comment, but those few words deeply hurt my mum, as she was to remind me several times over the ensuing years. I still feel shame when I remember saying them, (totally inappropriately as they were the first words I uttered to my waiting parents on getting off the train.) At least I still feel that shame and have carried it with me for many years.
Charles Dickens novels are filled with characters easily divided as cruel or kind and in today’s society this strong division is perhaps less visible. Or is it? Some people happily give away fortunes to those less fortunate, whilst others are never willing to share. The ‘haves’ often have no consideration for the ‘have nots’ and this has certainly become apparent in recent times.
The early days of the global pandemic showed many examples of kindness and consideration. People walking around the empty streets near their homes greeted neighbours they normally ignored with a kindly exchange, (albeit from a safe distance.) Amongst fear and panic there was gratitude, offers to help the elderly and those people ‘sheltering’, thoughtful messaging on social media, clapping for the NHS and vital services and the development of a community spirit, whether this was all part of the developing virtual world or in real life. But somewhere over time, just as the flowers of summer have faded, so has the intrinsic feeling of kindness towards others.
This has really become very apparent to me on social media platforms. Earlier this year there were lots of posts designed to create a ‘light mood’ with happy pictures, memories, or positive messaging. Somewhere in the virtual confusion of our Covid world, this seems to have largely stopped.
….To the extent that suddenly I see people criticising each other unnecessarily, to the point of being hurtful. Of course you can politely disagree with something, that is each person’s right, but there is a way to disagree without being spiteful, by carefully choosing your words, or in most case, perhaps it is better to say nothing or to ‘unfollow.’ One big problem with social media, is in saying something unkind to someone, we have no idea how fragile that other person is, because, of course, we often don’t actually know our ‘friends’ and our ‘followers’.
If one of my family or my close friends says they don’t like an outfit I’m wearing, I’ll probably pull a face, say I don’t care because I like it, or call them a bitch….Then I’ll go and relook at myself to see if they were kindly telling me the outfit really doesn’t suit me. However, I trust my relationship with those people and also value their opinion and taste, (which may be very different to mine of course.) Their words are unlikely to have a lasting effect on me, or my mental health. But, if I put a picture on Instagram because I think I look good in something and someone writes. “Terrible look!” that’s a slightly different matter.
(This hasn’t happened by the way, although I have had some pretty pointed comments, but if it did I am pretty sure it would upset me, even if I have no knowledge of the other person or any reason to be distressed.) ……..Now I consider myself to be sane, and pretty level-headed and I wouldn’t describe myself as mentally fragile, but if I’m admitting a stranger’s critical words could upset me, then just imagine what it would be like if my mental health was poor!
I recently read a very long piece on Instagram, posted by a highly professional person whose account is about giving advice in a very serious manner. She had recently been ‘trolled,’ personally criticised and repeatedly victimised, to the extent that she said she had been lying awake at night unable to sleep, is highly distressed and struggling to get through the day. Almost as soon as I’d read her heart-wrenching words I saw another person who said she was leaving social media because it was interfering with her life and she had become obsessed. I’m appalled on many levels when I read things like this. For me, social media is about inspiration and ideas, information and communicating in a positive way. I believe whatever I post should be done with authenticity, reaching out to people (predominantly women) with whom I can share ideas and knowledge and absolutely showing thoughtfulness and kindness.
And this follows through into real life. These strange times have shown me that there are a lot of people out there feeling lost and lonely. Sometimes a smile is enough, but a quick message can mean so much. We need to show we care. One thing I’ve really seen over the last months is reaching out to people and talking about my own fears and worries helps them. I think most of us have had a few ‘black’ days, and that’s to be expected. Sharing your feelings and finding others are going through the same emotions can really help you and the people with whom you’re communicating.
I hope, in the end, the experiences we are all going through will have some positives we can take with us through the rest of our lives. For my part, I’ve realised how, as humans, we need each other. Wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever age we are, we need to feel kindness extending out to us. The warmth that feeling brings will give strength, positivity and hope and goodness knows, we all need some of that at the moment.
So think about it! A simple act of kindness each day doesn’t need to take any effort, doesn’t need to cost anything and doesn’t require much time, but it might make a huge difference to someone else.
I don’t want to delve too deeply here. I’m not looking for the answer as to why we exist or anything, but if we don’t have a purpose then it’s all too easy to get lost in the fog of life. Clearly the Pandemic has had a negative effect on every one of us and although I am not blaming Covid-19 for my own wandering mind, what it has done is provide time to think about things, on all the long days when I’ve been at home.
So purpose- well I lost mine this year. Well and truly. I began to wonder who I was, what I was doing and where I was going. I’ve always worked. When my daughter was born I was a freelance makeup artist, so there was no maternity benefits for me. I only stopped for three months and then went back to work, although in truth, I rarely got a job more than three days in a week.
I’ve always been passionate and focused in my job and deeply involved with the people and the brands I’ve worked for. Then I stopped. It was my choice, but the word “retired” doesn’t exist in my vocabulary, so I needed to embark on my next journey.
I stopped because I realised I’d lost my passion and in doing so, myself. I’d spent my entire working life aiming to make people and brands look good, helping them become well known, but what I discovered, was in doing so, I’d ignored my own status. I felt I was an under-achiever, unsuccessful. I’d lost my way. To the outside world I seemed confident and sure, but inside I felt I wasn’t good enough. It was as if I’d achieved what I’d achieved by ‘imposter syndrome’.
I’ve spent a long time looking deeply into myself and though he would be devastated I’m saying this, I know it’s partly my father’s fault. He was overly strict, not a risk-taker by any means and inclined to say I wouldn’t ever be a success if I progressed my teenage dreams (in my case of becoming a fashion designer.) And for some reason I cannot explain, I went along with him.
I know I am not alone in behaving in this way. Far too many of us have under-achieved or not reached their dreams (at least in our own eyes,) because a parent has stopped them.
People have said to me, “Why don’t you do it now,become a fashion designer!” But for me, that moment had past. However, we are adults and it’s never too late to pursue our goals. What I’ve discovered is mine have changed, but the ambition is still there.
I believe we all need to think what we want, how we can get it, and then make plans and set goals. Now I’m not suggesting you set about ruling the world, it might be you want to support a charity, learn a new skill or sport or even set about improving your home or garden. It can be as small or as big as your vision.
What I will say is that it was only when I confessed my own lack of purpose and saw the reactions from others that I began to find it! Suddenly I felt great warmth and it opened up my thoughts and if you like, my creativity.
I realised I needed to open my arms to women and give them guidance, empathy and strength because I realised we could all find our purpose together. We could gain mutual benefits by sharing our knowledge and our experiences. So here I am, writing words I hope will resonate with you.
Have you noticed your hair is falling out more than usual? I have. So has my daughter. Whilst I wouldn’t say it’s a serious problem in our cases, the shower blocked up and we saw more hair than usual falling out when we washed our hair. And apparently we’re not alone. Over the last few months many other people have become aware of their hair thinning.
A few weeks ago actor Alyssa Milano ‘went viral’ after posting a video in which she spoke about her personal experience of hair loss after contracting Covid 19. On her video, posted on Instagram and Twitter, Alyssa brushed through her hair to show just how much her hair was ‘falling out’.
Hair loss is not unusual after serious illness and is also commonly associated with stress and trauma, which probably explains why so many people are complaining of hair loss, even if they haven’t had any actual illness. Clearly, over the last few months, lots of us have certainly been affected by stress. From the experiences of lockdown, to job and financial uncertainty, an inability to visit family and friends, to cancelled holidays and the threat of quarantine, 2020 has thrown all kinds of trauma at us all.
The form of hair loss associated with illness and stress is called ‘telogen effluvium’. Of course, in itself, suffering from hair loss is both stressful and distressing, which can make matters even worse. The good news is, if you happen to have this issue, it’s very unlikely to be permanent and in time your hair will grow back.
However there are a few things you can do. If you have an up and coming hair appointment, do mention your concerns to your hairdresser, who should be able to offer advice. If the problem is serious, the solution is to seek advice from a doctor, dermatologist or trichologist, but for most people trying products readily available will help solve your problem, (although, due to the growth cycle of hair it may be 3 – 6 months before you notice a real difference.)
Obviously it’s normal to lose hairs from your head each day and the fact that during lockdown many of us tended to wash and brush our hair less than usual could be one reason noticing your hair fall. And remember, on average people lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day, plus, the longer someone’s hair, the more they will notice the loss.
So what can you do yourself?
One brand to look at is Anacatelos (anacatelos.co.uk ) It’s a scientist-owned brand with absolute efficacy and formulations based on chemistry. Products include a Hair Growth Serum that’s trichologist approved and results in visible hair growth.
Another brand to look at is Viviscal (viviscal.co.uk ) As well as a densifying shampoo and conditioner, they have Viviscal Max Strength Tablets, to promote the growth and repair of hair cells.
Kerotin (kerotin.com ) is a self-care brand helping women successfully steer through changes in their lives. Even in normal times, women undergo many hair transitions, Kerotin aims to provide high quality products to help women achieve their hair goals. Look at Freshening Shampoo and Conditioner to rejuvenate the hair follicles and stimulate hair growth.
Of course, as we age our hair changes too and post menopause many women notice their hair thinning, but don’t suffer silently! There are products to help and advice to be gained. Beautiful hair doesn’t have to be a dream, it’s accessible.
On 14th March we drove back to Cornwall from London after deciding not to get on the plane for my planned birthday weekend in Seville. (A wise decision BTW as the flight back was cancelled.)
Since then I’ve been here in Cornwall. That’s a first for me, as my habit (and work life) has, for the last 16 years, meant I’ve been in London for 2 days most weeks. Being here, at home, has had a profound effect on me and forced me to learn things about myself I didn’t realise………
Firstly I’ve recognised my frequent absences from home have meant I don’t know many people and have a really small circle of friends, so I need to work on not being lonely. Secondly, my programme of self-imposed travel meant I was always catching up; getting ready to leave, planning meals, trying to get on top of shopping, laundry and cleaning, and as a result, often feeling tired. Thirdly I’ve discovered my passion for the sea is much stronger than I imagined. In those Lockdown weeks when we had to stay near our home base I found myself longing to jump in the car for the short, (but banned,) drive to the sea. It resulted in some truly dark days and when I could finally walk along the cliffs and beaches, a profound joy.
Back at the end of March I wrote an article for a website on mental well-being during Lockdown and talked about finding your creative side, reading books, writing, learning a language, painting etc etc. By mid-April, I realised I wasn’t going to actually do any of those things I’d written about. It was as much as I could do to drag myself out of bed.
…………I thought too I’d write regular blogs, make videos, learn about SEO and growing my following……but that never happened.
Then there was the cooking. Goodness we’ve eaten well! Life and conversation centred on food. What shall we have for lunch? Dinner? Breakfast? Afternoon tea? Which supermarket has a delivery slot? When’s the local fisherman selling his scallops? We’ve been lucky to with a weekly artisan bread delivery from ‘Baker Tom’s’ van, parked in the village pub car park; fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese and meat from the local farm shop and fish from the wholesale fish merchant, whose normal schedule is delivering to restaurants all over Cornwall and as far away as London. Then there was a point, several weeks ago, when I felt as if I never wanted to cook again. (A friend said it was my own fault as I’d “raised the baton too high to start with”!) ….And thankfully the last few weeks of sunshine and warmth have led to us having an unprecedented number of barbecues, which requires (at least on my part) a lot less flare.
So, five months later, I’m still here in Cornwall and not going anywhere.
And that brings me to this blog. I started ‘Behind the Woman’ to talk to women, (and anyone who cares to read my ramblings) about style, beauty, makeup and hair, inspired by the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career……but I’ve decided to add Cornwall into the mix, so from now on, you’ll see snatches of walks I’ve taken, places I visited, restaurants I’ve eaten in and photos of the places I love. I guess, it’s about a glimpse of my life, and one I hope you’ll enjoy.
When did this start? What am I talking about? What day of the week is it? When did I last wear ‘proper’ shoes or pick up a handbag? What shall I eat tonight/for breakfast tonight/NEXT? What day is tomorrow? ……,
These and other rambled and scrambled thoughts are constantly going through my head at the moment!
I just checked and this is day 11 of the UK’s version of ‘lockdown’ & day 18 of my family’s self-imposed social isolation. I only know this because it was my birthday on March 15th and that was the last time I got anything like dressed-up….Now, that seems like a lifetime away.
I’ve almost forgotten the feeling of hurrying to get ready to go out, ambling around shops or going for a coffee. I’m not looking at the online sites I browse when there’s nothing on Netflix that appeals…. though it has to be said there have been a few Amazon purchases & deliveries, including a bark shredder, and EIGHT bags of Buckwheat…. ordered in error instead of wholemeal strong bread flour! Well it sounds similar doesn’t it? Fortunately Buckwheat makes very good pancakes and with 1/4 wholemeal flour, highly acceptable bread. Phew!!
But let’s face it: LIFE IS WEIRD.
Strangely enough though, there’s a feeling of security- at least for those of us not working on the ‘front-line’. That old saying: “An Englishman’s home is his castle” rings true.
As long as I’m in the 4 walls of my home, I feel safe. Then there’s the silence and the new sounds it brings! Do birds always sing so loudly? Except!!! At certain times there has been a cacophony of chain saws and power-tools… and the distant moan of the power-hose. No wonder the sales of online garden tools are rocketing!
But I’m also all too aware, whilst I’m here in my quiet ‘castle’, not far away people are gasping for their lives and medical staff are working to the point of exhaustion and more. In supermarkets, staff are dealing with a frustrated and often rude public, whilst putting their own health at risk to serve us….
It’s as if there are 2 parallel worlds and we, the ones safely in our homes, will hopefully never have to cross that line into the other chaotic and frightening world.
And everything I read tells me I should be using this time to be creative, learn a new language, keep a diary, de-clutter my wardrobe or read more…. but so far I haven’t had the time -or inclination.
But maybe it doesn’t matter. This is about survival…..,Better go and have a cup of tea and a crumpet whilst I think about being grateful for being here, now.
If you usually go to a salon every 6-8 weeks you may well be having an inner-panic at the moment. Now I KNOW in the current scheme of things hair colour is very minor, in fact you may be thinking: ‘who cares as no one’s going anywhere.’ BUT I know personal appearance is very important when it comes to mental health.
‘Beauty is in the of the beholder’ as they say, and let’s face it, most women dress up, get their hair and nails done and put on their makeup primarily for themselves. However, to every woman who gets her dark or white roots done on a regular basis, I am currently saying one thing: SHOW YOUR ROOTS.
Yep! I know there are a mountain of boxed colours on sale in supermarkets and pharmacies and they should remain open over the next few months even when we’re in ‘lockdown’, but quite frankly, it’s SO easy to F*** up your hair colour when you do it yourself. And I’m not just talking about going mauve, orange or green, I’m also talking about the condition, but the main thing is, if it goes wrong, you won’t be able to correct it! And it’s a fact: hairdressers make a lot of money from Colour Correction services.
So what can you do? Well firstly, if your hair’s flat or slightly greasy your roots will show more, so make sure you wash it regularly and apply conditioner mainly to the mid-lengths and ends, this will give you more volume at the roots.
If you can’t wash your hair for any reason, then us a dry shampoo to create this root lift. Hair with volume and texture also hides roots, so think about apply a volumiser to your hair. Spray evenly from roots to ends and use a medium round brush to blow dry. You can always get some additional volume by turning your head upside down and blasting your drier to the roots. Finish your style with hair spray for style longevity. And don’t forget, you can still buy hair products online, so you can maintain #socialdistance and #socialisolation with confidence.
NO MAKEUP or NATURAL MAKEUP looks can be as hard to apply as stronger makeup looks such as the every-popular “smoky eye”, but of course, most of the time, you just want to create a better look than the real you, to give your confidence a boost and to feel good about yourself.
Then there’s the problem of time. Everyone seems to be rushing around these days, so most of the time you want your makeup look to be achieved in minimal time.
My solution to this is to achieve the max results with minimal products. And, here’s my solution: 5 minutes and 5 products.
Starting off with a good serum foundation, with a protective SPF, I used Bobbie Brown Intensive Serum Foundation Factor 40. This is easy to apply with finger tips, a brush or a sponge, gives good coverage (enough not to need concealer) and importantly offers your skin protection.
Next, under my cheekbones I used a soft, biggish brush to apply PÜR Mineral Glow Illuminating Bronzer 8306 with a soft brush. I also used this in the crease of my eyes.
On my brows I used Rimmel Brow Pro Micro to refine and shape.
I used PÜR Big Look black mascara on my top and bottom lashes….so effective you only need one coat.
On my lips I used Bobbie Brown Crushed Liquid Lip in Hippy Shake and also applied 3 dots to the “apples” of my cheeks, blending with my fingers.
Lastly I applied a dot of PÜR No Filter Primer to my cheekbones, blending upwards and outwards. Then I added another dot to my eye-lids.
This is my ‘go to’ kind of makeup when I haven’t the time or energy to make the effort, but just want to enhance my face and I think you can see from my before and after looks – a bit of effort is definitely worth while!!!
The ultimate classic haircut, the Bob, is once again bang on trend and I’ve embraced it!
I hadn’t had my hair cut or coloured for 4 months, even managing to go through Christmas and New Year without a visit to a hairdresser, but a few weeks ago, my lack of style got to me. I think your hair leads your style image. It doesn’t matter if it’s one length long hair, as long as it’s shiny and healthy. Mine looked “endy” and as I’m lazy when it comes to styling I knew I need the chop!
I toyed with a few styles: a layered mid-length look with a fringe, (very Boho,) a round layered shorter look, a Lob, or a classic one length, bob without a fringe. My lovely friend, TIGI European Session Director, Maria Kovacs, took one look at me and said, “No question! Bob!” So we found a corner in our studio and she cut inches off my hair. This she did by cutting from a centre parting so I can wear my hair parted on both sides or in the middle, and on the side it gives a slight asymmetric look. She styled it with Bed Head After Party and spritzed with Bed Head Headrush…..And I was instantly revived. The compliments haven’t stopped coming since.
In wearing a Bob I’m joining an elite group! The Bob has seen a huge trend resurgence led by Hollywood celebs and looks to be the hair cut of 2020. Straight or waved, ‘Lob’ length or short, the hairstyle of the moment was seen at the 2020 Golden Globes and Oscars on a huge number of stars including Naomi Watts, Greta Gerwig, Zoey Deutch, Reece Witherspoon, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Lucy Boynton.
“The Bob’s timeless!” Maria said, “It’s youthful, chic, and lends itself to many textures. It’s really adaptable too. Anyone can look good wearing the Bob. One of its enduring aspects is that it instantly gives the wearer a new image, without compromise or the fear of losing too much length.
And look who’s worn a Bob! What about Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra? It’s an historical reference..and it’s Elizabeth Taylor!”
But there’s more to the Bob than being stylish as there are underlying links of this on-trend haircut to historical, political and economic changes …and the on-going rise of ‘girl-power’. In fact you could say it’s a symbol of emancipation and freedom, not just an enduring trend.
Nowadays the word ‘empowerment’ has become symbolic with women’s rights, but this evolving movement has been bubbling up since the women first won their political and social freedom during the “roaring twenties”. With an increased number in work, for the first time women had financial freedom, so it’s no surprise that during the 1920s both fashion and hair styles demonstrated women’s emancipation. And, it was during this decade The Bob became widely popular, having first been worn some 10 years earlier by a forward thinking few. It’s even been suggested that perhaps the name ‘Bob” was a reference to the androgyny of the cut itself.
In the early ‘20s The Bob was often ‘Marcel-waved,’ or permed, but in the latter years, the shape became more severe, as famously worn by the Jazz Age icon, actress Louise Brooks. The characters Brooks’ played were rebellious, seductive and showed sexuality, leading to the Bob to be linked to freedom and sensuality that strongly appealed to young female movie-goers of the era.
During the Swinging 60s, the Bob, along with short hemlines and The Pill, again demonstrated the rebelliousness and freedom of women, perfectly worn by fashion designer Mary Quant and model Twiggy. The Bob was part of a style trend that illustrated the power of ‘youth’, and came with a decade of change in social norms with the emergence of new music genres, drug-taking, sexual freedom, political and student uprisings.
In the early 90s women began to gain real power (or so they thought.) The shiny Bob re-emerged as a trend-led hairstyle. From Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham, to Courtney Love and Winona Ryder, women began symbolising a new rebelliousness and a shiny or textured bob was a stamp of their power. And for some, like American Vogue’s Anna Wintour, the Bob has become an enduring style significant with their power and image.
100 years after women first wore the Bob it has re-emerged as a fashion trend. Is this linked to a female empowerment? Women are certainly fighting hard for equal opportunities and equal pay, making their ambitions heard at the highest level. With the ‘Me-Too’ movement they are increasingly standing up for themselves, yet in reality there are still few women in top roles and women are still abused in the work place. Does the Bob signify success or is its androgyny the appeal to women wanting to make their mark in the world?
Which brings the Bob back to me. This isn’t my first generation Bob. I had a permed, curly bob in the mid-80s, a soft layered bob in the 90s followed by a sharp Lob and full fringe. It’s been a while since I’ve returned to this look, but one thing I can say, in all its variations, it’s made me feel as if I can conquer anything, stand up to anyone and definitely rock it!
Have you found your tribe? Do you have a group of friends with whom you share the ups and downs of your life, as soon as they occur; women with whom you can laugh or cry, dance the night away or talk for hours without ever getting bored?
A few years ago I attended a breast cancer charity ball, with a group of women. At a certain point in the evening, and (I should probably add), after several bottles of fizz had been drunk at our table, there was a charity auction, with the usual “prizes” such as signed footballs and celebrity photos, spa days and dining experiences. ‘Just for fun’ we joined in the procedure, sticking our hands up in the early stages before quickly dropping out. Then a villa holiday in the Cevennes, in the south of France, came up. One person on our table stuck her hand up and, with her back to the auctioneer, mouthed: “If we ‘win’ we can go on holiday together!” Before we knew it, the hammer went down. We’d “bought” a holiday!
A few weeks later we were at Gatwick Airport with another bottle of fizz in front of us, (you might find a pattern here,) awaiting a flight to Montpelier. At this early stage, roles quickly emerged. One person had immediately taken upon herself to organize flights and car hire. On arrival in France, another, who had lived in the US and was therefore more experienced driving on the right, championed herself as driver. Another became map-reader and tour guide. A couple of hours later we arrived at our (remote) destination in a tiny village with no shop, café or bar. Not even a bakery. I’d had the foresight to pack enough ingredients to make a pasta dish for dinner so became head chef, as well as finding the villa owner’s wine stash under the stairs…and the other member of the group proved to be the perfect ‘fire-starter’. (It was mid-April and freezing at night in the hills.)
Over the following few days we found easy agreement to a daily schedule with trips around the area and beyond, supermarket visits to buy provisions, (fizz and wine being a priority,) and evenings spent telling stories around the dining table, playing loud music and dancing like no one was watching, (they weren’t really.)
We are actually, all quite different people, doing very different jobs with different characters and in different stages of our lives, but we found a common ground – an ability to feel free and laugh together; that has remained over the ensuing years. That first Spring-time trip away has been on repeat over the last 7 years, usually in slightly warmer places than the Cevennes, but always with the same sense of closeness and appreciation.
Early on in our group friendship we called ourselves “Goddesses”, partly as a joke, but also as an ‘homage’ to one of the group who had recovered from breast cancer. Now each December we have a “Goddess Night” to celebrate ourselves as women. We glam up, exchange small gifts, drink fizz and embrace the importance of having found our special tribe. One year, one of the group bought us all “Goddess” mugs, and every time I drink from mine, I feel thankful and lucky to have found my little tribe.