This insider musing comes hot on the heels of completing my first every group retreat held on my beloved Iona this week. Oh, my heart is full! A challenging theme that requires deep personal work from everyone who made the long journey for “Cutting the Threads that Bind.” It played tribute to the concept of “Build it and they will come” and I am forever grateful to the seven of us who gathered. New dates will be opening soon, so keep an eye if that appeals.
So on to this month’s INSIDER MUSINGS …..and of course, I’ve been laughing out loud on the train writing this for you as I fly south to my mum.
It’s an 11 min read, so grab that coffee or wine and come laugh at /with me!
Have you ever been stuck in a crazy place, HISS-ing at yourself and the world, ready to burst into flames or tears with all the perceived stress…and then you somehow manage to flip the switch.
As always, I’m sharing life lessons only with you as a loyal subscriber (and not splayed over social media!) that involve me being super vulnerable about what’s unfolding, re-telling something daft that’s happened to me, or sharing life from my perspective. Sharing things in the simple hope it helps you see something differently one day.
I’ve decided that mid-life post 50’s is truly glorious, and so much happens that gives me insights, lessons or little love slaps from the universe to crack on with life.
Living on Iona as my official base camp now, I am of course part of the local Facebook IONA STUFF community group for residents only. It’s where I post about my local writing group, and stay abreast of all sorts of local updates, requests and information. Vital for navigating #islandgirl life on a remote island.
Since taking on my wee flat, I have been gathering some beautiful things to make it into a very special base for myself, and to share it as a reflective writing and retreat space for clients. I have been replacing some things that were not appropriate for the space and its new way forward.
A large black couch, a traditional slatted single wooden bed, several blinds, two chairs and some carpet needed a new home.
My plan was that upon coming back to Iona after a #citygal break, Mrs M and I had decided we would put them on the IONA STUFF group to offer them to someone who might make use of them. Great!
Recycle and re-use! I had just returned to the island, and that night someone posted about how they were coming to work in the Abbey for Historic Scotland and they have secured a house for three of the staff that’s totally unfurnished. Immediately I reply -offering up these things and approved my Mrs M. Yippee, the stuff has a much-needed home.
The only thing is they are not arriving for a few weeks until their official position starts. Mrs M agrees the huge couch can stay in her shed, and I manage to store the other stuff in my small space and jammed into the very tight squeeze of a boiler room.
But being a clutter fundi and wanting clear light space, I say to the girls ideally they need to come and collect it the day they arrive, on Iona as I too am leaving for the city again and want it all sorted before I leave. The due date looms a couple of weeks away, not too far in the distance.
I’m fine to keep walking around the two extra chairs in the passage when my new comfier ones arrive, but I can’t sort the boiler room to store all the cleaning stuff and extra linen yet, so am super excited they are coming to collect it all in just a couple weeks.
PICK UP PLANS
So a few days before the due arrival day I make contact and the girls say they are trying to borrow a tractor to trundle around the island gathering everything offered to them (yes a tractor, not a truck). I think they could start a guesthouse by this stage – such is the island’s generosity of things donated to them. In fact within two minutes of offering them our slatted bed base, it has a mattress to go with it! They magically furnished their house with excess within 24 hours or so.
Proposed collection day from me was April 1st (haha yes!).
I didn’t want to get all their stuff out the boiler room until I knew for sure they were coming. I know how tricky just getting to the island can be, let alone trying to move in and trek across the village gathering up their offerings. So I organized that they let me know before they were coming. That would give me about 20 minutes to get it all out the cupboard, half expecting it not to be Friday 1st as anticipated. I knew if I dragged all the stuff out the boiler room and it wasn’t collected, I’d be tripping over it all day, or worse it would be stuck there till I was back from my city break.
I was just finishing up with a client on the phone when I hear a voice, “Hello – Kate – Hello.” Miss B appears at the bottom of the stairs by my front door. Not able to get the tractor yet, I already knew her dad was only on the island for a few hours to move them in and grabbing the last ferry, meaning there was a very short window of time using his car to collect the stuff that will fit in the back boot and seats. We had already decided that the couch might have to be collected another day with tractor, trailer, quad, boat or transported by coos if necessary.
So I immediately say, somewhat surprised, “OH, you are here – I thought you were going to confirm a time so I could start getting the stuff out for you to save you time now!” Alas, island signal being what it is ……she was foiled at that attempt and was suddenly at my door – quite naturally – to collect the stuff. I start with the chairs in the passage by hurling (ok, gently passing!) them to her for her dad to pack, and rapidly attack the boiler room. I fling the door open hell-bent on not wasting their time on precious move day and getting the stuff as swiftly as possible.
That annoying old saying – more haste, less speed is just too darn true!
Miss “QuickShift” here kicked into gear with a vengeance. I yank the first length of the slatted bed out (it’s broken down into head and footer, and two sets of slats bound together.) Tick.
I put my hand in the tight squeeze to go grab the next piece, the larger headboard and hear a very loud THUNK as I try to lift it up over the boiler.
Ah, it must be the other slats moving I think, not even missing a beat. Yank yank it out the tiny gap in the tight cupboard. Still tut-tutting that I didn’t have a heads up time-wise!
So as I pull out the headboard from a weird angle, I see it’s ….oh no
Splotched with blue?!
It’s wet too?
Gloopy blue paint! What?
Moroccan Mint Blue!
Pic below of the beautiful colour I painted on my walls!
Thank goodness modern paint is thicker and more rubbery even though it was PVA. I remember paint as a kid being a thick liquid, rather than jelly-like?
Scrunched up my nose, confused forehead all wrinkled and HISS-ing profusely, I look at my hands now covered in mint blue gloopy-de-gloop paint. It takes me a few minutes to realise what has happened. In the meantime, I try getting the wooden piece to the kitchen while sparing the brand new carpet en route. I look in dismay to see the beautiful rich wood now splattered everywhere with blue paint.
I am cursing like a sailor, hissing and repeating and winging – I wish you had told me you were coming. I was sweating, swearing and this poor young lass with wide eyes must have regretted being the one to collect the stuff from this banshee woman.
I grab paper towel and furiously start wiping – only to smear it and make it worse. Do you perhaps have a wet towel, politely asks Miss B? I grab the nearest brand new tea towels – I don’t yet have any old rag-type fabric as I’ve only recently moved in so pretty much everything is new. Leaving her nursing the headboard I dash back to the boiler room to pull out the next item – a black blind.
Well, a partially black and wet sticky blue blind.
I’m cursing and HISS-ing. Embarrassed and cursing some more!
Then some bed slats – not soooo bad …
Then another blind – ugh blue blue blue
Another blind …..I shove those quickly in the shower to get them out of the way!
Then another set of slats – bugger-roo –blue too.
I’m still HISS-ing when the dad appears to see what’s taking so long to get the stuff downstairs. He hadn’t wanted to bring mud upstairs- but it’s already soaked in mud from the wet day and I say more curse words in five minutes than in the past few months, all in front of a young lass and her dad. Next, I start apologizing while still HISS-ing in front of him. There are NO snakes on Iona you might know, so I’m first in line to restart the population! I think I’m more embarrassed than anything to be honest – that I was hastily daft, that I’m swearing and annoyingly HISS-ing so much, that I’m wasting their time and they cannot put wet paint in the car.
We keep trying to wipe off the gloopy blue.
I try to look in the boiler cupboard properly, having not quite clocked yet what had happened? The entire 5-litre tin of paint that “miss decorator” here clearly had NOT 100% secured the lid after using 1/10th of the tin painting my final bits…had tipped a$$ over tit and was now oozing over everything.
All I can think of to be grateful for is that I hadn’t yet opened and used the dark blue ENAMEL paint I’d bought!
My new carpet was somehow miraculously spared as we moved stuff quickly to the kitchen. Of course, I was also wearing my FAVOURITE big cowl neck silver jersey, and my best work trousers, as I had client calls that morning (and I do NOT subscribe to wearing PJ’s on the bottom layer for video calls even though the world does). I happened to catch myself in the mirror, and realize I’m a silver and blue-haired disaster. In my exasperated, embarrassed and HISS-ing state, of course, I had swept my hair off my forehead a few times. So I’m looking back at a mad SMURF woman with blue hair, hands, face and clothes.
Two tea towels, and a roll of paper towels and half an hour later, Miss B and her wide-eyed dad leave with most of the stuff in their car.
Then I’m left to myself.
Time to rescue the oozing paint!
I’m now imagining how the paint will start oozing through the bottom of boiler room straight onto Miss D’s piano – she lives in the flat beneath me. Now I am dithering – I can’t think whether to try to clean the blinds, my clothes, the oozing paint in the cupboard or myself first.
I realise that if the paint dries on my clothes they will never be blue-free again, and I can handle them properly later. So I submerge them quickly in warm water.
TICK –my brain seems to be working!
So now you have a vivid picture – clothes soaking in bathroom basin, and Missy here standing in her unmentionables. The front door is still open, there’s blue paint smeared on the kitchen floor, blue oozing blinds in the shower, and I’m a hissing Smurf.
Let alone that I needed that tin of paint to do some touch-ups on the wall…so I’m also HISS-ing I’ll have to replace the whole tin at 20 quid AND get it to Iona!
Ok – so now what the hell do I do with this gloopy paint? I can’t get IN the boiler room, as it’s a minute gap next to the boiler with the larger space opening up behind the small gap. I can see blue gloop everywhere.
I’m wondering how to clean it up as I know it won’t dry properly like that and I can only reach it by stretching my hand inside the cupboard about half a meter.
Still mad at my own hurried clumsiness and the fact that she hadn’t let me know final arrival time (which means I would have had time to get the stuff mindfully out the cupboard) I’m in full irritated and blame mode – you can tell right?
Ok, Kate – focus!
I kid you not – my only thought was to use a spoon. I grab a dessert spoon and start ladling the paint back into the tin, spoon by blue spoon. I’m stretching my hand through the small gap between the wall and the boiler, when I realize I am not picking it up fast enough.
HISS. HISS! So next I try the paint tin lid that’s lying innocently next to it. Nope – far too awkward and clumsy in the small space. I’m going to dislocate something.
APRIL 1st MADE ME DO IT
I’m trying to do things with relative speed here, to prevent any leakage below. The best option now is to become one with the paint and immerse my whole hand in it of course and start scooping it up!
So there I am, bent over, most of me covered in blue (as it went through my clothes) and my hands smeared the rest – I swear it was like Smurf wrestling personified. At least it was pretty matching Italian underwe@r – in BLUE!
I then do THE UNTHINKBALE!
If I’m going to be daft enough to use my hand I had better look more closely at what I’m doing – in case there are some splintery pieces of wood under the blue gloop. But I can only JUST get my head through the gap.
I don’t stop to think it through – NOOOOOO I just push my head in, don’t I? Like a baby who sticks their head through bars and then turns its head, not able to back out, I now swiftly realize my daft predicament.
My head only just went through the gap, because I kind of forced it through, but panic hits me as I realize exactly what reversing out entails.
I instantly feel my adrenalin kick in as the reality of getting wedged here lands on my brain. Instant Panic. But I somehow flipped a switch as I realize that if I stay in panic mode I’m gonna be in real trouble. So I start getting HYS-terical with laughter. The ludicrousness of it all and the image of the local firemen volunteers having to dash up the stairs and rescue send me into guffaws of laughter. The entire of Iona and Mull would know what my #smurfblue skin and underwear contribution for the annual calendar might look like!
I started gasping for air I was laughing so much. Then crying.
Tears of laughter streaming down my face was making blue streaks mixed with sweat running through my cleavage. I somehow managed to pull myself towards myself and back out – yanking my poor ears in the process.
The cartilage had to bend forward as I reversed, but no serious damage was done! Only ego got hurt in the process.
I’m was now weak with the panic and the laughter but it was time to have a shower with the three blinds. At the very least I wanted to rescue them if possible and remove the fast-drying gloop and get them to the girls. I had promised them blinds, and I was going to deliver them! Next, I wash my clothes on a hot machine wash, and set about cleaning the kitchen. I still had blue paint on my skin two days later when I went for a swim!
The only downside – I never stopped to take ANY pictures for proof. But the boiler cupboard is forever blue. I just didn’t want to stick my head back in to get the pic for you! Every now and then I find little specks of blue – on a mug, a cupboard door and I did find a small speck on that new carpet. I think there is forever blue paint on their headboard on the other side of the island as a reminder!
The whole escapade that should have taken just ten minutes to hand over some stuff, took me well over two hours. Later on, I walked to the village and bumped into the dad again – and met the mum – so one again I apologise profusely for swearing and HISS-ing so much in front of their poor daughter and slink off sheepishly, remnants of blue everywhere, laughing to myself.
So, if you have read this far – I hope you got a good laugh at my blue expense.
WHAT’S THE POINT Kate?
Why did I even decide to share THIS laugh at myself with you this month?
It’s a tool that has served me well throughout life – to find the funny side of things, to seek out and witness the ridiculous even amidst the pain. To roar with laughter and guffaw at things I see. Because I spend a lot of time traveling on my own for work, I have even learned to be able to do this solo – I can sit on a train and burst out laughing at stuff. Like today writing this out for you – laughing away to myself. If I can’t find myself amusing, I’m not living right! I simply don’t care what others think. Rather than noticing it’s funny, and politely chuckling internally, I prefer to let folk wander what is amusing me so much by chucking out loud..
Can you laugh out loud next time?
It shifts your energy lightning fast. I Promise! Just like babies who shift in and out of different states of being – one minute giggling, one-minute eating, one-minute crying, and the next laughter.
It’s my favourite remedy. Life is tough, stress is real, and loss is imminent, but our point of view can re-frame anything. The next time YOU are deep in your own version blue-gloop, I wonder if you can flip your switch from HISS to HYS and find a faster way out?
It’s why I am so excited to be traveling to Greece this week with my Mum – we always land up crying with laughter together. A Lot! Then I get to hang out with my dear friend and business partner Sarah while running our writing retreats as we offer three back-to-back retreats in Greece and Italy this summer at last (there is ONE spot left if you pop me a mail)
It’s been two long years since we gathered together- and the thing I miss most is just how much we laugh together!
I wish you tears of joy, the ability to get deliciously HYS-terical when required and find a lighter way through life, no matter what.
I wish you sweet joy and lightness.
IF YOU WANT TO WORK WITH ME….
I’ll be opening up my next mentoring slots and virtual retreats at the end of July again. Why so far away?
I am not taking on any new private clients so I can immerse myself and nurture the folk flying across the world to write with us. I prefer to stay focussed and not spread myself too thin for better results for YOU.
IONA IN AUTUMN:
If you follow me on socials I will also be opening up the next IONA retreat soon, on the back end of the first one just competed this week! Bookings are not open yet!