On holiday in Scotland last year we stayed in a delightful little lodge which once belonged to a big estate. The rear garden was sheltered by a wood and from our bedroom window we had a direct view of the bird table. We had a variety of winged visitors but on the fourth day we were honoured by the presence of a red squirrel. We have pesky grey squirrels in our garden at home, which dig up my bulbs, vandalise the bird feeders and this year took all the buds from my tulips. I'd never seen a red squirrel in the wild before and he was delicate, glossy, shy and beautiful.
I was thinking about this squirrel because I come from a family of hoarders. Historically we have had a tendency to squirrel things away for a rainy day. I am married to someone who likes a good clear out from time to time so on that domestic front life is a constant compromise. Last week, at my school visits in Hull, I talked to the students about the value of writing a diary. In the past I have found that writing things down, especially when you are going through hard times, can help to clarify feelings; by giving way to anger, grief and despair on the page it can help you to pick up the pieces you want to keep of your old life and plan for new beginnings.
There has been a sense for some time that our family is on the cusp of change. This afternoon, (I am beginning this blog on Thursday 14th May), my daughter has her final exam and today is officially her last day at university. After approximately 26 years all of our children will have finished their 'education' in the traditional sense of the word. As parents there is a sense of relief that we have got through these schooling years so well but also a little wistfulness too. My daughter has got a part time job in her university city so, for the first time, will not be home much over the summer and although my husband and I are looking forward to this new phase in our lives we know it may take us a little time to adjust.
Maybe it has been with this in mind that I have begun to go through my old diaries. They have dated back almost twenty years with tens of thousands of words between the pages, some happy and some sad. It has suddenly seemed the right time to let them go. Some of them I have not been able to bring myself to read, others have been useful where I have written musings about plots and characters. These latter pages I have torn out and kept. The remainder have been shredded. And it has been immensely cathartic.The house feels better for this initial de-cluttering and my husband is happy too.
Whatever you are doing this weekend, whether de-cluttering or bringing new things into your life, I hope it brings happiness.
Thank-you for reading.