I’ve always thought of myself as a shy person. Not everyone agrees with me when I say that, because once I am comfortable I am the complete opposite. I can be loud, opinionated and stubborn. I don’t really have a filter and usually say much more than I intend to…. But it takes a while to feel comfortable, and on the inside I am shy. Clayton let me be brave. He was my buffer and made me feel safe, always. He was the one that people were drawn to and was incredibly easy with his interactions, where I have always felt awkward. He made it ok to be me – and now that he is gone I have to be me on my own…. I have to be brave.

That’s a pretty steep learning curve at 47… because while I can pretend, on the inside I still feel like that shy person. I tend to overanalyse situations and conversations, and second guess myself often. I’m pretty lucky though, and incredibly grateful that I have some fabulous people around me that are so confident in themselves that it’s ok for me to be too. – it’s a strange feeling learning to re-like, and trust who I am at this stage in my life. A place I never imagined I would find myself!

And right now I can hear my mum’s voice telling me that I need to change the tone… this is supposed to be lighthearted, maybe even funny and definitely not crude! … I can’t promise any of those things….everyone knows I swear like a sailor, and I am in uncharted waters searching for whatever comes next, and not all of that will be PG rated! – in fact a lot of it won’t be PG… but here we go!

At the start of this year, I was able to rotate into a different position at work. It’s in an area that I am incredibly passionate about, and with a team of ladies that have been exactly what I needed around me. It has been an absolute safe space, and the conversations have been enlightening! No subject is off limits…. Nothing!! I am receiving an education that I wasn’t expecting, and I’m loving it!

I have lost/been let go by people who I thought were friends. I have joined support groups for widowed people – The Echo-chamber of Misery as my kids call us, and I have made some incredible new friends this way. I have been added to a tribe of women (and some men) who happily dive right in the deep end of the conversations and have filled a void in me. I have spent fabulous amounts of time with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have, which has been enlightened, rewarding and uplifting. The conversations are deep and varied. Often I cry, but I’m accepted as me, and now we just try to get the tears out of the way so we can go back to laughing and sorting out world issues!

It’s liberating having conversations that have always felt a bit taboo, and more appropriate over some serious drinks late at night – and even then, I never have! I love their confidence and joy and their openness, and I love being part of that and feeling it rub off onto me … as I said, it has been an education!

I was super excited not too long ago to be invited to my first Hens party, and can not wait for the wedding, that has now been postponed twice thanks to covid. I made the cake – appropriately (or not so much) decorated – I actually had to tell the kids ‘not to eat the dick in the fridge’! – a sentence I never thought would come out of my mouth! I have a charge on my credit card for ‘Hunks for hire’ reference – stripper! – He was fabulous, had every right to brag and smelled like a god!!… all new experiences for me, and each with its own delight.

Then there has been the shopping… I recently made some online purchases, supporting my favourite charity Love your Sister, with the fervent hope that the packaging would be as discreet as was advertised! – When you live with Boys who all online shop, questions get asked about parcels that arrive! It was absolutely as advertised and this one slid past as a ‘Christmas present’ and has been a gift for myself that I have enjoyed (another learning curve!) … I’m sure it won’t be my last purchase!

I am not alone in venturing into new territories. I had a conversation with a widdowed friend not so long ago about my above mentioned purchase and my worries about the packaging… She assured me that it is actually very discreet – unless damaged during transportation; and then went on to tell me about the embarrassment caused by said damage when her parcel was handed to her with a wink by the concierge at her apartment buiding! Her adventure resulted in needing to go to the local shopping centre to dispose of packaging, worrying about identifying markers, and the ownership of “Craig”…. a monster of enormous lenght and girth that could cause major damage if used as intended! – I have seen Craig, and laughed until crying at the story being told…. I’ve also seen a video, and the mind boggles!

So many new and different experiences that have come my way… I am living each day on the roller coaster, with all the ups and downs, and the occasional sharp curve that is the ride. I’m finding lots of positives to hang onto, and it’s been an education! It’s a whole new world for me, and all part of the next that is now.

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