Golden Hour

‘How did you enjoy your extra hour in bed mum?’
Well pretty good thank you. Wrapped up like a sausage roll, nice and warm and the luxury of knowing there’s no pressure to get out. A whole hour! All those times I’ve prayed and begged for more time and what do I do? That’s right ‘wasting it’ by spending it in bed (My 14 year old self can hear my mum’s words echoing in my ears).
‘What about you Ezra?’ She agreed that the sleep was awesome. However, what I didn’t explain to Little E was the prelude to my waking. A dream which panicked and upset me in equal measure – the late for work and nothing goes right dream.

Probably inspired by another long daunting term. One which, however prepared I am, feels like a mountain of planning, marking, meetings and (worst of all) long dark winter days punctuated by s few hours of daylight only to be seen from my classroom window. This nightmare meant I was wearing a ripped silk nightdress, back to front, which, couldn’t be removed as I was too fat to get it off. Stuck in this, what I can only describe as greying parachute silk (think silly knickers gone in the wrong wash) I began to have a panic attack. The clock was ticking and Hjm ripped it over my head. Only to realise both my knickers – red, lacy, fluffy and full of holes, weren’t suitable either (I do not actually possess any of these items). Not only I was having a pants problem but also a tights one too. It seemed that every time put my leg in it came out of a hole! Clock still ticking my hair was wet, my skin was breaking out and I felt sick…scene change (that happens doesn’t it?) and I am at work, dressed and doing fine.

So what was the message? I’d like to think it was a reminder that it’ll all be alright, rather than an ominous tale of things to come…

I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to make time work for me. And, although I’d like to think that I’m in control of running our lives (on a military mother type way) I can’t help feeling that one day I’ll slip back into old ways, you know, in a John Cleese ‘Clockwise’ type scenario. (Who, ironically, is also a teacher.). When I think back over the last 30something (I can hear the coughs from here thank you) I am faced with a lifetime of lost time and opportunities; most of which were spent doing nothing. Now as relaxing as doing nothing is, it’s neither exciting nor productive. It leaves you with no sense of satisfaction or happiness. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not putting sunbathing, spa days or resting into this category. All of which would be accompanied by something interesting to read or good company to spend it with. I’m talking about my wasted youth – in my bed. The unproductiveness of my time, where I couldn’t be even bothered to do the pots, tidy up or get up more than 20 minutes before I was due at work. I think that I was possibly ‘lazy’ (I’m cringing saying this). Everything beyond work and play (I was very good at both, so much so my mother would often use a phrase incorporating ‘candle’ and ‘both ends’) was (in my older childrens’ words) ‘effort’. Latterly, o feel I’ve wasted opportunities. Times I’ve procrastinated rather than actually doing. My most niggling example is the book which I began writing eight years ago. Pure laziness has stopped me pushing forward with it. It’s as simple as this: I’ve not been disciplined enough.

But, in true Swan style ‘I’m on it!’ Once a problem is recognised I’m all about the solution.

NB. There’s many things on my mind which I cannot solve but where’s there’s a will, there’s a way. If it’s in my control I can overcome.

The solution is very simple as I woke up yesterday morning and realised that I finally had more time on my hands. For nearly a year we’ve lived through the stress of moving, renovating a house and living like paupers to achieve big goals. At times I’ve wondered if we’d survive. I’ve had sleepless nights counting the jobs and cost of it all. We’ve all made sacrifices; austerity hit quite hard at times, but we seem to finished all of phase one!! Apart from a couple of things which can wait, our home is now a home! Also, in all this time I’ve managed to maintain my work, reading books and articles of interest and this blog! Which, the catharsis of writing has helped me through some very trying times. Now, 2018 is almost certainly ‘the year of the saving’ with phases two and three to be started (this I can deal with, due to the fact we now have our own spaces). What comes with austerity (you learn a lot about waste when you are saving) you find comes a time to embrace the abstract. That means thinking smart and focussing on what we really want and ‘need’. With this in mind I’m intending to take my literary creativity by the horns and steer it into those wide open plains of story telling. The eight year book has been shelved (along with two others) for a time which I want those stories to be told. Instead I have had a narrative weaving its way around my head since April. It’s a story I want to tell and for you to enjoy…you see the time is now.

Whether I make it or not, I’m not going to know if I don’t try. I want my regrets to be few and far between when I reach my life’s winter days. But I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t something I’d like to be successful at. When, in a year or twos time, you will find me on a Sri Lankan beach. Floating like driftwood on the shoreline, with only the sounds of the waves and my family’s laughter and bickering (nothing’s perfect) to listen to, Etta James will be my inner soundtrack ‘At Last’

There’s a reason I’ve wasted time, procrastinated and done things in the order I have. If I hadn’t have lived my life the way I have I wouldn’t be who I am today. If I hadn’t have made mistakes and missed opportunities, I wouldn’t value and cherish what I have. If I’d have finished any of the books I’ve started writing, I’d have been laughed out of the doors of Penguin House. With time comes confidence and also knowledge. Every new day brings new revelations and experiences. I thought I knew it all at 16, 17, 18…turns out I still only know half of it now. After all, it’s taken me this long to embrace time and use it kindly and carefully.

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