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For SMUT and Self-Esteem, a very wise and perfectly written blog. Reflecting on everyday experience through tools such as mindfulness and Buddhist teachings.

Even at the age of forty seven I was scared about telling my mum of our plans to give up work and go off to India, particularly about selling the house. And on the way to telling her about the boat I was as nervous as if I were on my way to hospital for an operation. I played the song above, ‘You say you can’t, I hope you can, I hope you can…’

My mother is an astonishingly capable individual, potentially a lot to live up to, and who has very strong opinions. But feeling as if I’m not free to live my life as I wish to because of what she might think or say isn’t on her, it’s on me.

Again and again people say, no one can have power over you without your consent, and such like. Certainly in the run up to going away I said the same kinds of things to myself and tried to deal with it on an intellectual level. I did what needed to be done, but I made a big palaver about it, putting things off and getting stressed out, and expending a lot of time and energy on it all.

On Thursday of last week we made our first trip back to Norfolk to visit people. Firstly we went to see our dear friend K, who made us a lovely lunch*, let us go on about India, and was very supportive about my book and our ideas. She asked us each if and how we thought the year of travel had changed us. We both said we felt it had, but that we didn’t know exactly how yet.

Then we drove over to see my mum. Towards the end of the year of travel I had had dreams about this meeting, and woken feeling anxious and intimidated, as I was when I visited before I left. This time, I didn’t feel even a flicker of nerves on the way there, and sailed through the visit authentically and confidently. We showed her photographs, she made us a delicious meal**, and we chatted about general topics. We all seemed happy to see each other, and had a nice time.

In the past I had involved her too much in my life, and I had felt shadowed by her strong opinions. The year away provided the opportunity to reset boundaries. I’m sure she doesn’t approve of everything I’m doing but she appears to have accepted that I’m doing it anyway, and didn’t question or comment.

I know it’s because she cares but I have to have this bit of separation in order to fully realise my own personal potential.

I wasn’t fake friendly or fake tough, I was totally myself during that time, and that is best described as relaxed and powerful. And it just happened that way, that’s how I’ve changed. (Just got to keep it up!)

Then we went to see my son. He’s not, as far as I’m aware, working on the same things with me, but I know he’s done better the less I’ve been involved in his life, culminating in him being offered, while I was away this year, the chance to exhibit in New York in May.

(I still have to work on resetting habits and expectations re money though, now that he is almost thirty and I am not working at the moment.)

We all acknowledged that he’d done the best all by himself, and I told him what the Swiss shaman I met in Kerala had told me, that when you have a baby it is your job to ‘Give them the bliss,’ but then when they grow up you must set them free. The shaman said I must set my son free so that he can become a great artist.

*beetroot and chickpea burgers, pasta in tomato sauce and broccoli
**vegetable curry, rice, samosas, and apple crumble and (soya) custard
We were thoroughly spoiled that day!
Thank you very much for reading