Tag Archives: dpchallenge

Weekly writing challenge : expectations versus reality

Expectations, the theme of this week’s writing challenge. So many ways to come at this. So here are 3

1. Not quite good enough.
The parental expectation, real or imagined, of needing to do just that bit better. Exam marks really good, but surely a little better might have been possible. Even now on my iPad scrabble game I eschew the option with the teacher – harsh she is. Even with the really high scores you can pull out of the bag just sometimes, the online teacher says “excellent” and then with an unwritten but understood “but” explains what word I could have put and how many additional points that might have given me.

2. An expectation that it would be forever.
I never imagined he’d break my heart and cheat on me with a twenty something year old, after being together for 22 years. Just never dawned on me. Ups and downs of course over those years but I was the woman he talked publicly of being the love of his life. He certainly was mine.
I’ve changed with this experience. Happy in a newish relationship now but with no expectation of forever. It’s a different way of loving.

3. Expectations of behaving like an extrovert
I love people, find them endlessly interesting. They just tire me. A typical introvert. A whole day with people and I ‘m running on empty. I watch with wonder at people around me who visibly get more and more energised when round others.
I deliver training, I give conference talks to groups of 500 people at a time, I do lots of one on one coaching and can just about hold my own in a professional networking event ( as long as I’ve given myself a pep talk first!) . But put a conference chatting drinks or meal event on after the talk and I’m lost. Just don’t know how to do it. The confident trainer or speaker they experienced turns into a shy person hoping the time will soon come she can slide away for some quiet recharging time ready for the next people event.
There are so many interesting bloggers on this world of introversion and it’s easy in this world to feel one of many. But at the conference events it’s hard to spot the fellow introverts as we ‘re all just trying to fit in and not be seen as anything but the extravert majority. So expert at that camouflage we can’t even spot the other fakers like ourselves.

Ah expectations. So many , so often, so problematic!

weekly writing challenge: the power of names


This challenge is all about the power of names.

I should have been a Christopher I was told. A first born son. Instead a girl, and then another one, a boy and then unexpectedly another girl. The eldest of four. But not the eldest son.

Susan Barbara were the names I was given. Not called after anyone, just names my parents liked, when they realised as I was born that Christopher, the selected name, wasn’t going to work. Thankfully not called after my father’s mother who, given the woman she was, went by the surprising name of Patience. I wonder what age she was when her parents realised the inappropriateness of that name. Many virtues she had – boldness, energy, optimism, generosity, vision, determination but patience was in very short supply. She was in a perpetual hurry to get launched into her next adventure.

Susan Barbara. Nothing much to either like or not like about those names. Deliberately chosen by a mother who had changed her name by deed poll to Lydia when she was legally able to do so. So much did she hate the one she was given. She thought I’d be ok with Susan Barbara. And she was right. No teasing.

So Susan or Sue I was through childhood and adolescence, Susan when either parent was displeased, otherwise mostly Sue. And so it went. All fine. I was a quiet shy girl with a quiet shy name and all was as it should be.

Some years later on my first day at University in student rooms on campus, I came across someone looking as lost as me. I’m Brian, the too keen young man in jeans with ironed creases down the front (unforgivable it seemed to me). I’m Susi I replied. It was all quite unexpected. The confident assertion that I was a Susi. Not Susie, but Susi. A stand perhaps against the perfectly fine but predictable safe Susan and Sue. A new life, a new name, impatiently ready, like my grandmother, for my adventures to start.

weekly writing challenge: golden years


This weekly challenge is all about age and ageing.

I can no longer remember the day I found, with horror, my first grey hair, wiry and curly in a sea of dark brown hair. An unwelcome guest at any age, let alone at 24. Nothing had prepared me for that. It was pulled out of course but one by one more appeared. It was the early eighties and though henna really had been part of the earlier decade it seemed to do the trick. Rather have increasing lots of brash orange than grey. Seemed the smart choice at the time. And then the grey turned orange bits began to outnumber the dark brown bits and so finally defeat was acknowledged. Grey I was.

And now I like to think a little Judy Dench-ish, but a younger version. If i look anywhere as good as her at her age I will be delighted. I look in the mirror and am happy with my silver grey hair. So few of my peers are grey, on the outside anyway – between them they keep hairdressers in business topping up alternative colours. Not ready yet for grey. I can understand them. For me it’s different. So much longer to get used to it.

The lines mystify me a bit. My carefully lit bathroom gives me the start to the day I need. All looks generally fine til I later catch sight of myself in an unexpected mirror and wonder who the face belongs to that is looking back at me. Surely those lines aren’t mine.

I remember being a teenager and my very eccentric grandmother said, in her eighties, that when she looked in the mirror she was always surprised because she still felt young inside. With the arrogance of teenage-hood I looked at this very very old lady who wore knickerbockers and smelt of lavender and wondered how on earth she could think that. And now I find myself in a similar spot. I feel not much different inside – more experience, a bit less certain on my views on everything (my student years where all seemed to clear…), more tolerant, perhaps a bit less spontaneous, the occasional twinge in one hip. So I feel very similar inside but that face belies that feeling. So I’m sometimes surprised at the face that looks back at me. Surprised but not unhappy. It is a face that shows a life well lived so far – open to more that lies ahead.

My grandmother was always my role model. Eccentric, given to passing fancies and enthusiasms, with a gusto for life and living. Hopelessly impractical, an adventurous spirit, someone you never forgot meeting. Intensely embarrassing as a teenager to be invited to afternoon tea with her in town – because she always told everyone around how clever her granddaughter was – how mortifying. But at the same time I loved her stories, real or imagined, it didn’t matter much, of her life out in Africa running a coffee plantation where enthusiasm was greater than expertise so she saved herself from financial ruin by marrying the local Barclay’s Bank Manager. Such impressive problem solving!

She spent a life challenging the norms of what a woman like her was supposed to do or say and died in her late 90s, having spent almost every penny she ever had, which was lots. Until the last few years was still a force of nature. I really loved her and her energy.

Here a great photo of her in her car which she drove across Africa with a female friend. What a surprise she must have been to so many.


Very rarely do I mind being older. Almost always I am happy to be the age I am and look the age I am. No need for all the things people do to try to cheat time that give them tight faces and foreheads that don’t move.

Getting older along with all my long term friends is just fine with me. We look out for each other, share glasses round the table when people can’t read menus, prompt each other when we forget names or tell the same story twice. And mostly we keep each other laughing, sharing, loving and enjoying the lives we have. Who could want for better than that!

Weekly writing challenge: the sound of silence


I thought for a bit about this challenge – silence, perhaps something left unsaid or something better left unsaid, or just silence. Lots of ideas came to mind. One i decided to pursue – the silence you experience when it feels like time has stopped moving…enough explanation. Right into it.

Back from a couple of weeks in China, a strange greeting, tension in the air she didn’t understand. Perhaps jetlag or not having seen each other in a while. Troubling. But she went about the little normal things after a trip, while he finished the last of some work on a laptop on the dining table. Cases opened, things thrown in the washing machine, phone put on charge, a shower. The shower head lower than normal. Strange. She adjusted it back up.

Feeling a bit more refreshed, the smell and feel of an overnight flight now gone, she dressed, thinking about the evening they were going to spend together. A few words exchanged but not many. He needed to get the report done so she continued.

She ambled through to the room that had become an office though little used for work, each preferring the brightness of the living room. She plugged in her ipod to synch and download the next lot of podcasts for the long flight back to China in a week. And as she connected, up on to the monitor screen popped a photo.

Time almost stopped in that moment. Her brain ever so slowly took in what was before her. An image. Of people. Of Paul. And who was that draped on his lap? Debbie, the twenty something year old from his office. What was she doing that for?

A sharp intake of breath. Silence. Time stood still for what felt like forever. A rush of emotions and still no sound came. She closed her eyes and opened them again hoping that it was all a mistake. No mistake.

In the silence, breath held, eyes now full of tears, her life changed had forever.


Daily prompt ; don’t you forget about me

I read this prompt about what legacy you want to leave behind, how you want to be remembered.

So here are some photos to explore this…


Why this one?

Taken just this morning in Plymouth my eye was drawn to the spaces between the uniform lines of the old train lines and the shapes of the cobbles – the green.

I’d like to be remembered by people who knew me at work as someone who looked between the lines, the expected. Someone who found and created possibilities. Someone who generated ideas and enabled new and unexpected things to happen with and for people.

Someone who made a difference.

And those who knew me in the rest of my life ?

Perhaps this :


A romantic and eternal optimist who lived a life without regrets.
Someone who brought pleasure to others, adding colour and life.
Someone who loved her friends and family, especially creating meals for others to savour round a dining table.
Someone who needed lots of quiet and space to be able to really enjoy her time with the people in her life. A contented introvert able to bring a sense of peace to others.
Someone who was always there for the people she cared for.
Someone who made a difference.


Weekly writing challenge : my funny valentine?


The writing challenge is write about Valentine’s Day and one option given was write a card to someone, a card you’ll never actually send. So with a minor tweak i am writing the Valentine’s card message I didn’t send, back as a smitten 16 year old.

You’ll be wondering who this is from. You have probably hardly even noticed me. The girl trying to look older and more sophisticated than she actually is I am sure that Jenny might say – jealousy on her part – though if truth be told its hard to look sophisticated carrying one of those ice-cream trays. Luckily you don’t get to see that bit. you’re busy relaxing off stage. There I stand or sit on the right at the back by the door, or on the left if you are looking from the stage as you do. I try to manage those latecomers disrupting the magic you create up there. Ring a bell? Dark curly hair ? I’ve enclosed a photo just in case you can’t remember.

You won’t know that I scour the advance information about the plays coming down to our little Plymouth theatre. As soon as it’s clear you’ll be performing, then I sign up for every evening and weekend matinee I can. My parents wonder at my sudden passion for theatre. If only they knew that it’s the sight of you, the sound of your voice that makes my heart leap – nothing to do with Shakespeare or Brecht. It’s all about you Nick.

I can hardly sleep the nights before that week starts. Will this be the one when he notices me, tells me I am the most beautiful girl he has ever met and off we elope somewhere exotic ? That’s what I ask myself every time. You haven’t yet Nick but just want you to know that when you do, I’ll be ready.

Happy Valentine’s

Weekly writing challenge – leave your shoes at the door

This challenge asks you to step into the shoes of another. What’s their world like?

I do love her. That’s not in question and she knows it. I’m still mystified why me, why she’s with me. The explanations she gives me somehow don’t convince. For as long as it lasts though, that’s good for me. But I won’t be surprised if one day we have the kind of conversation I imagine might come. Hopefully not but I’m a realist I think. I know she’d like the public commitment and admire her optimism after her experience of marriage – I just can’t muster up that same optimism and couldn’t face another failed marriage so best avoid it. It was all so incredibly painful last time for me. I just can’t let that happen again. Just can’t. I am sorry though as I wish I could say yes. Making her happy is so important to me. I’d do anything, well almost anything. Just not that.

Anything that annoys?
Annoys is perhaps too strong a word. Surprises. Let’s call it that. Or maybe mystifies. How is it that she just can’t put the top back on anything – jars, bottles, tubes of toothpaste ? Anything with a top. It turns the kitchen and bathroom into a potential assault course – things slip from my hands without warning, time and time again. I’ve asked her gently about it and she says she will do something about it. I am sure she intends to. Perhaps even manages for a day or two but habits return. It’s just now a feature of my life.
And while I’m on the subject of slightly annoying things I never cease to wonder at her capacity to create piles of stuff around the flat. It’s like a field with a family of moles. A new pile appears, and then another. Good intentions kick in every so often and a pile or two are tackled but there is always a new one that pops up somewhere else. What is all that stuff and why can’t it just be somewhere out if sight in one of the many drawers or cupboards ? And I’ve never seen so many bathroom products. Who knows what they all do.

She tells me it’s nearly four years now. Nearly four years of tops off jars and piles about the flat, but also nearly four years of loving and being loved, sharing, putting up with me and my crazy work hours.I wouldn’t have missed any of it. And I tell her so. Probably not often enough. She likes it all that talking about relationship stuff. More than me. Makes me edgy. But she knows I love her and she tells me that’s what matters. And I do.