Puppy Love

If you follow me on instagram (@sharlzed), it would be hard to miss that I have just become a new fur-mum.  Yes, some people have puppies (and I honestly thought I would be one of those), but it turns out I have a fur-child.  You can tell this by the number of   photos of the dog sleeping, eating, running and (oh I can’t describe the joy this brings me) wee-ing on the grass rather than on my newly cleaned wooden floors.

Everyone said – “You’ll end up doing all the hard work”, and they weren’t wrong.  But I was ready for a dog.  I haven’t had one since I was a child, and even then my experiences weren’t great.  Poor old Honey, sent to romp in doggie heaven because of bad eczema (I remember sitting in the front of my Dad’s VW bus, under the tree, being told Honey wasn’t going to be our dog anymore).  I was about 6 I think.  Then there was the little Jack Russell, who as they are wont to do, ran away and got run over.  I think I was 8.  And that was pretty much it for my dogs.  There was Lady – my Dad’s bull terrier, who was unjustifiably blamed (and yelled at by an hysterical me) for biting off the top of my 2-year old brother’s finger – when I was ten.  For the record, he got his finger caught in one of those stable-style kitchen doors that slammed shut in a wind gust.  Poor Lady.  My other memory is of her drinking out the toilet bowl.  My dad loved that dog.  I should probably mention Steffie the Staffie, but I was long grown up and moved out of home by the time she was around.

So, I was ready for a dog.  And it is a good thing too, because they are hard work.  A lot like having children – you have to feed them, train them, be patient with them (not my strongest point), provide endless cuddles and attention.  And, just like children, they have a mind of their own, that is not always aligned with mine.  Ah, the frustration of independent thought 😉  I find I do a lot of wheedling with everyone in my family.   Is that just me?

But the dog is such a blessing.  His sheer enthusiasm for us – from his early morning bark to say “I am awake, wake up and love me”, to the jubilant wriggling that occurs when we come back home, forces me to stop and appreciate the moment.  You have to pause and give him love, and it reminds me to take a breath and pause and give attention to the people I love too.

Working from home, it is gorgeous to have a little living thing at my feet, just quietly content to be near me.  If I get up and make a cup of tea, he follows me and plops down beside me patiently.  He is like a little shadow.  A solid little shadow I have tripped over several times, but a delightful one all the same.  And it means I have a reason to talk out loud – a habit I got into when my kids were babies and I haven’t managed to give up yet.  A dog provides at least some semblance of an excuse for these random mutterings.

The children christened the dog Rocky long before we met him.  It is an ironic name, since he is far more fur-ball than dog-of-steel.  And they hate it when I call him Sylvester.  A cultural reference far beyond their ken, they are convinced it will confuse him.  So Rocky it is.  Or Puppy.  Or Dog.  But only when they are not around.

Yes, I have a bad case of Puppy Love.  And I would recommend it to everyone.



On being older. And wiser.

Lately, I’ve been feeling old.  Maybe it has something to do with spending lots of time with the young and happening things at my acting course.   It is hard not to let their perspective of you take hold.  And they don’t mean it in any negative way – but really, I am a contemporary of their parents, regardless of how I see myself when I look in the mirror.  No wonder they apologise when they swear near me.

It has had this concertina effect though.  I’ve suddenly noticed how far away I am from the girl I was when I was 20.  In my own head I’ve always, as I suspect most of us do, felt fairly close to my 25-year old self.  It’s not something you pay attention to, but there are strands within us, fears and self-beliefs and dreams that won’t lie down, that stay with us and bind us to our past selves.

But being around people who are in their twenties highlights the differences.  With an intensity that can be quite difficult to bear, it shines a light on the fact that I am far removed from my 25 year old self.  I’ve lived twice the life of these beautiful, young people brimming with optimism, standing on the doorstep of their lives.  And it shows.  Not just in the lines and wobbly bits, but in demeanour.  In gravitas.  In aura.

I am not twenty any more. I am shaped by a plethora of experiences that they have yet to have. I have travelled in numerous directions, dabbled in a multitude of different  things and seen so much of the world.  I have inhabited multiple roles, with each adding a new dimension to myself, to my perspective.  Remembering that, and more importantly, respecting the complexity of who I am now, has made me a lot more comfortable with being older.

Perspective is something you gain with distance.  And age is just that – distance from the cradle.  Distance from those confusing-as-hell years where you are trying to please the people you love, and desperately trying to work out who you are in your own terms.  Where you are a beginner at everything and the worry about whether you will “make it” gnaws at you and makes you restless.

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And the perspective I’ve suddenly got is an appreciation of how well I do know myself and how much of life I have lived, and that my value, your value – everyone’s value – is as a human being, rather than because of anything we’ve achieved.  This is the bit I really have to try and hold onto, the realisation that there is no destination.  There is no “it” to make.

If you spend all your focus on achieving something, and don’t allow yourself to enjoy the road there, then you’ve achieved nothing.  Time doesn’t stop.  And whatever you’ve achieved will soon be behind you.  In a blink of an eye, it’s already in the past.  And if you haven’t enjoyed the trip, well, what have you got?

So, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for indulging my desire to act, even at this late stage.  And I’m throwing out my admonishing internal critics who lament that I should have done this 20 years ago, and now I am too old and now it is too late.  And I am giving myself permission to enjoy the process, to fail spectacularly so that I can learn and to have as much fun as possible along the way.

That is the gift of age – understanding that there is no ultimate goal – that if you want to do something, you just need to do it, to step forward in that direction and take a leap of faith.  With a smile on your face.

And, its not just acting.  It’s writing.  It’s running my business.  It’s being a mom.  It’s all the things I fill my life with, that are coloured by the fear of failing that comes from focusing on “making it”.  So, here is to me, and to you, and to all of us human-beings, creative creatures that we intrinsically are, for grabbing life at whatever age and whatever stage, and sucking the marrow out of it.  And, more importantly, enjoying it.