How Focus Was Lost

By Alison April 11, 2022 10 Comments 6 Min Read

I do believe I have just two modes: serene and swanlike or completely off my head. And honestly, completely off my head seems to be the way I’m rolling through most of my days at the moment. It isn’t pretty.

I try to be normal. Of course I do. I try to tumble out of bed in the morning, do a bit of yoga and pop my sensible face on, but by the time I have made it to the kitchen (to pour myself a cup of ambition) it is clear to all, sundry and the perpetually bewildered cat, that it is going to be one of those days when I don’t know whether I’m coming or going but I’d rather stay in if you wouldn’t mind awfully because I have got things to DO.

Of course having has absolutely no correlation with what will actually get done, because recently I discovered that turning fifty eats your focus. Heckity pie yes. One minute you are the kind of woman who journals longs lists of dreams, domesticity and dalliances with ladies who lunch and the next you have quite forgotten both who you are and what you are for.

I have been bonkers like this before so I’m not spooked. In fact I do believe there is an air of the kind of resignation about me, that has a person muttering “it is what it is” a lot and dancing in the kitchen when nobody is watching. For this lack of focus isn’t a miserable thing, in fact I feel quite jolly (if a little deranged), no, its more of a scattered, nine million thoughts going on at once thing? A state of affairs that rather too frequently means that overwhelm quickly turns into an afternoon on the sofa watching a crime documentary and pretending that my real role in life is working out why people go mad and take an axe to their husband’s head.

So how did it come to this? Well now let me see: there is the hormone thing. Periods are popping in just once every four months now and with them they bring a kind of oestrogen fuelled (or deprived) flu. Entire weeks are lost to bleeding till I must surely be dead and coughing my guts up till the family stare at me in fright and I laugh because I feel fine and wander off to tango while I fashion a meal from the meagre scraps to be had in bare cupboards because shopping has fallen off my priority list. And money is so tight that a person can find herself running out of inspiration when it comes to the limitations of a packet of split pleas and a block of cheese!

And then there is the Finley thing. God love my child but spare me please, for never has Mothering been harder. He has got girlfriend issues. And he wants to go out and spend money but hasn’t yet fathomed the connection between spending and earning. And he spent three months fretting about his desired university failing to offer him a place, when it was he who had quite failed to check his email asking him to submit a few pieces of the writing he seems to spill out in his sleep. So all hell broke loose when said university finally broke through his slightly crazed bubble and declared themselves ready to abandon any idea of entertaining him because he clearly no longer wanted a place. Heavens, that was a fun day. So now, after much kerfuffle and pleading, he is in, and the joy of choosing accommodation two miles down the road from here begins, so my delightfully dotty child can have the best of all worlds!

What else? Well now one of the handles has fallen off one of the bedroom doors and will not be restored so we run the risk of having to call a fire engine every-time Stevie retreats to said bedroom, forgets about the door situation and bangs it shut from the inside. The cat thinks he’s a dog and wants to play fetch twenty-four hours a day in-between trying to take a nap on my head, Ste is starting to struggle again as he is want to do at this time of year and people keep asking me to do things when all I really want to do is run off to a cottage in the woods with a patchwork quilt, my laptop and a brown betty full of Tetley’s, so I can get on with getting things done before the proverbial roof falls in altogether.

So you would think wouldn’t you, that a person losing her mind, would borrow one (from the spare heads for crazy ladies shop) and get on with things. But no. Not me. This weekend, sitting in the midst of men and boys watching horse-racing and football, while Finley wandered in and out after visits to ice-cream parlours and garden centres (because his friend now has a car and they are instantly middle-aged), I took up embroidery instead. And watched about ninety-four episodes of Friends and read a random selection of books (this and this and this) and ate a lot of cottage cheese and yesterday had something of a strop, just I thinkewwwwdsx4er (the cat did that) because I felt like it, much exasperated, as usual by EVERYONE laughing while I wept.

I am trying be normal. Of course I am. But normal is harder than it looks. One minute I’m scrubbing away at ring marks on the lamp table and the next I am assailing Fin, showing off my non-existent combat skills, worrying out loud about the price of electricity, worrying about Ste, worrying about the war, worrying about the cost of everything, and insisting everyone play musical chairs, Sheldon style, whenever I want to sit down, as I regale the whole family with the comings and goings of a dodgy looking fella in and out the empty house across the road, doing nefarious somethings and reversing his car into the wall.

And in-between it all, there is always the siren song of BrocanteHome calling to me. So I sit up at night piecing together what I have pulled apart again, because it didn’t feel right, missing you all and calling Fin and Ste over in turn to say “What do you think?” about this section of the site, or that idea, or this platform and they look at me with real love and a whole lot of careful speculation in their eyes as they weigh up whether or not to hold in the answer that must surely be, will you just get on with it Woman, and stop bloody worrying!

So yes. This is how focus was lost.

A whole heap of worry, a spoonful of perfectioniism, a sprinkle of the kind of neurodivergence apparently no longer interested in wearing a mask, and the general lovely lunacy of what I suppose is instinctive eccentricity and a penchant for laughing too much.

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all shall be well. Once the Easter holidays are over and Vladimir Putin starts behaving himself, and somebody does something about Rishi Sunak and Fin’s friend, Tom takes me for a drive so I can give his driving marks out ten and declare him fit to drive my precious bundle about, and I feel like eating something else that isn’t just cheese sprinkled in turmeric and pepper, and accommodation and finance is secured for my university going child (though obviously I will be locking him up in my non-existent basement before then so he can never leave me) and I’ve got the washing in, because its raining yet again, and the Goddess of Laundry likes to have a laugh at my expense.

Gosh. My apologies. I sometimes think you arrive here hoping I’ve turned in to one of those wonderful bloggers who arrange pretty pictures of cakes on plates and rate the quality of afternoon tea in fine establishments across the land, instead of having to read about my curtain twitching antics, odd (but nutritional) eating habits and erratic attitude to life in general.

But if I was, I kind of hope you would be disappointed.


  1. Margaret says:

    Yes, sweetie, I for one would be disappointed if you turned into one of those bloggers. I love your blogs just the way they are but do feel for you and wish we could both sit down with a Brown Betty full of tea and set the world to rights.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Oh Alison, this is so timely. I don’t know how many afternoons I have spent watching a True Crime documentary while munching. I must try your cottage cheese with turmeric!

    I always admire how open and honest you are, but with a sprinkle of sugar and a bouquet of flowers

  3. Keri says:

    Oh Alison, I love you I love you I love you. Sending you ALLLLL the hugs in the world and some for Ste as well (you know he and I share some demons). These things are all horrible and terrible, but they WILL pass-I promise you. I’ve been there and am out the other side of it now and life will be beautiful and glorious again.

  4. Debbie D says:

    I would much rather have you than one of the pretty picture bloggers. You are real. You are me.
    I can relate to you. I can’t relate to the perfect picture of the perfect kitchen tableau, in the perfect house, with the perfect yard. Does this make any sense? Anywho – don’t change, you give us all hope.

  5. Carlie says:

    Wouldn’t we be disappointed, dear?!? Heavens yes! We love you in your jolly swan state and we love when all is crackers and polka dot storms! I just moved to a new house and can’t find the tea kettle. I can relate. I hope my kettle turns up and the Vladimir Putin minds. I just love the jolly news that Fin got in to university and is now messing about with pals in cars! How fun!

  6. Kelly says:

    We would be VERY disappointed indeed!! 😆 It is YOU we want to be regaling us with everyday antics, not some cookie cutter paper doll in her perfectly serene house! We know you understand us, commiserate with us, dance with us, putter with us and binge watch tv with us. It is EXACTLY this sisterhood that makes you and BrocanteHome such a delight and friend. Happy new week to you Dearest!!! 💞

    1. Deb says:

      I’m a little behind this week (for I too have been wearing gasoline soaked panties running through the hectic flames of life), & just read Allison’s post. I must say, your comment is absolutely perfect. As I was reading it, I thought your words were exactly mine.

  7. Gill says:

    Indeed, indeed, we come to be reassured that this too is normal and we are not the only one who feels this way! Thank goodness for you, telling it like it is, honestly, truly and with your wonderful, wry sense of humour. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all SHALL be well!

  8. Karen Doerhoff says:

    Dearest Alison, don’t ever change! Your blog brings us so much joy. And yes, all manner of things shall be WELL. 💖

  9. Lesley Townson says:

    Pray tell, what is this “normal” of which you speak? It is a foreign concept to me, and getting increasingly so! Anyway, why be normal when you can be fab-u-lous anyway! My cat thinks I’m round the twist anyway, judging by the expressions she pulls – I believe she’s studying me for a sociology paper to present to fellow cats about weird human rituals! At 58 yrs, I can recommend being a “50-something” and “ploughing your own furrow” in life. Best wishes from Ulverston , Cumbria – tomorrow I’ll be walking the first bit of the Cumbrian Way, which begins in Ulverston, rather than doing the housework I should be doing because I’m such a rebel now!

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