The Second Chapter

By Alison February 23, 2022 10 Comments 7 Min Read

Sometimes the need for change wallops you in the face. But more often than not, its a creeping sensation. Truth that wraps around you like a vine, tendrils growing around static discontent and moss forming on all the stones so far left unturned.

A few months ago I felt it. A vine around my neck. Thorns poking out the truth. I am not my own version of enough. It’s a modern day cliche, isn’t it? You are enough. I see it everywhere. “I am enough” tattooed on people’s wrists. “You are enough” in a thousand Instagram memes. And it doesn’t do to argue. In fact announce that you can’t help but think that you are not yet enough, that you, and your life, are but a work in progress and you will be met with a disappointed frown because you seem to have fallen off the positivity bus. (Strap yourself in, it’s a hell of a ride), Oh the shame of it. The utter shame of not being enough, and heavens with the size of this bottom, rather contrarily, all at once being too much!

But as I dance in the margins of the achievement that is almost fifty years on this earth trying to tame hair that will not be tamed, and hold in opinions it doesn’t do to share, It struck me that recognising that I am not my own version of enough is in fact just the right kind of positivity, because it does not seek to deceive but instead to inspire much necessary change.

And so I became still. I barely read and didn’t lose myself in idle chatter beyond that about wrestling I am obliged to have with my child. (Twenty-four seven). I worked on the Brocante programs I am blissfully in the midst of creating and allowed myself to absorb the lessons within. But above all else, I bore witness to that we so often seek to hide from ourselves. The pain and the disappointments. The little sadness’s, huge outrages and missed opportunities. And the fear. Oh damnit, the fear. All the things I cannot control! I sat in the corner of my bedroom, feet in silly slippers and a granny blanket on my knee and I stared it all in the face. My hand flying across the page confronting it in a journal wrapped in vintage Liberty, while a fountain pen splodged words I could hardly bear to write on to heavenly thick paper

And then I paused. I took days away from the page to tidy up my life so that I could see again. I threw myself in to making the bedroom as lovely as can be again so I had a calm space in which to dwell (in both senses of the word) and I turned away from all that I don’t want to towards all that I do in my second chapter, squinting at that which I have in recent years set aside to grow a teenager in to a man and manage Ste’s illness. I have, I suppose, been going through the motions. Treading murky waters as I waited for a gong to chime and remind me to live again. And then chime it did! A chorus of chimes! A whole opera of the darn things, banging away, disturbing my sleep, poking me awake and saying do something! Do something NOW!

I once read that passing through all the stages of grief takes seven years and as we approach the seventh anniversary of my Mum’s sudden death, I can tell you that it is true. In fact some of me thinks that it is only in the past twelve months that I have let myself feel the overwhelming sorrow of losing someone so precious. But it is her driving me now. And the lessons to be taken from her, and from her early death that I think have created this fierce, urgent need for change in me. You see so many of the women in my family have died at 64. And it struck me that 64 is just fourteen years away and THAT ISN’T ENOUGH TIME. My Finn is eighteen now, but he was four only yesterday. Time flies! I want to be around for him for much longer. And I want to feel fulfilled by life long before I will be ready to go. For there it is! The hole! I no longer feel fulfilled. I want Something More for I do believe I have already worked my through the eight stages Sarah Ban Breathnach identified before it: Sensing, Surviving, Settling, Stumbling, Selling Out, Starting Over, Searching, Striving, and finally, Something More.

This isn’t about throwing in the tea-towel and travelling the length of the British Isles in a camper-van (though I do think that would be rather nice wouldn’t it? We could all do it and gather in far-flung fields, stringing fairy lights between our vans and sitting around the fire at night to share slow-cooked stews and stories), but is instead I think just another piece of the jigsaw. It is my MUSE making herself heard.

Once upon a time I worked in interior design, but eventually gave it up because I was bewildered by those women who seem to think I could fix their heartache with a mural of ivy and cherubs (forgive them: it was the nineties!), and so BrocanteHome was born: to try to share my belief that home is a sanctuary we should endeavour to make our own, blessing it with routine, ritual and celebration. But I see now that even that isn’t enough: that so many of us have the desire to keep house the Brocante way, but simply do not have the energy. And the older we get, the bigger the challenge.

I sat for a while with all of this. All these thoughts. The sensing and the searching. I thought about my own health, for despite eating a decent diet, supplementing myself up to the eyeballs and having good heart health, hypothyroidism and the damn menopause have got me getting bigger by the year and a knee injury that never really healed has made me less flexible, slower to the point that some days I rather feel like I’m waddling! I thought about my Mum, and the women I have recently coached through the first round of my lovely Brocante Bootcamp and it struck me that living well lights me up! That I want to be able to coach with the authority not just of hours of research in to how we can pursue our own betterment, but with a certificate in hand that says I truly know what I’m talking about. And I want to challenge myself to live better in its pursuit.

So I spoke to Ste. And I ruminated. And researched. And finally we agreed that our fiftieth birthday present to me would be the Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching course (click the link to try a sample class). A year long intensive course in holistic transformation. Something for me. Something that is by extension, for you. For it is my intention to take all that I learn and fit it in to all that I already teach here: that we are more than the vintage plates we eat off. more than the candles we light, and that we owe it to ourselves to align home, heart, body and soul for all our tomorrows.

What will it mean for BrocanteHome?

Not much and so very much more. Recently I have realised that I feel overwhelmed by what I have created. that there are parts that no longer fit well with me and other more neglected parts (like the blog) that my whole being yearns for. I know you feel it too. And over the next few weeks I will be adjusting what I offer. Trimming it, refining it and making room for what comes next. There will be recipes and meal-plans. More alignment between puttery joy and authentic betterment. More Bootcamps (because the first was a bit wonderful and so many of those who completed it have adopted new habits they tell me they will be embracing for life!) and a focus here on the much-neglected site, for it is here that the body of my work has long-lived and will hopefully continue to live for many years.

This feels huge to me. The first major change I have chosen for myself (about me, for me) since I decided to create BrocanteHome instead of returning to work when my baby was born.

And above all else, it feels right.

And when right comes along, we owe it to ourselves to embrace it don’t we?

On the Calendar Today

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  1. Learning is so invigorating, I hope your course is everything you wish for and more x

    1. alison says:

      Thank you lovely lady… I started a few days ago, and I’m already loving it.x

  2. Laura_Elsewhere says:

    Oh, this is good to read!

    Echoing Katy’s comments, and standing up to applaud you wildly in a standing ovation for stepping out of the shadows into the sunlight! Hurrah! Brava! Hurrah!

  3. Rosemarie says:

    Absolutely echo the others thoughts – this was a lovely read and your course sounds perfect. I look forward to hearing what you learn. Also, only yesterday I got out my printed copy of your 365 days of housekeeping and am starting to work through it again – and loving it all over again. My house feels so much lovelier when I take care of it little tiny bit by bit each day rather than trying to storm through and make it “perfect” once a week. Thank you for all your work Alison and I look forward very much to the second chapter!

  4. Barbara Ann says:

    Alison…you echo my feelings. Having spent a good part of my life raising a daughter and two grandchildren (oh and husband too) I now find myself with the focus of what do I want. Me. It’s liberating and scary at the same time. I’ve been pondering and meditating on it and feel like I am getting closer to the ME I want to be for this “third Chapter”. I’m 73 and I do have another chapter in me.
    You are courageous to step out into where you are going. Congratulations! And thank you for sharing your new adventure with us. You are inspiring me to start my next chapter too!

  5. Kelly says:

    Awww, Lovely Sister 🌸, I am SO excited for you!! A big YES, YES, YES to everything you wrote! I adore your writing. It’s like you pluck the words right out of our heart gardens and put them into the loveliest of bouquets for all of us to enjoy. I’d be right there with you with my little, vintage camper complete with bunting and faerie lights!! Oh what fun we’d have!! 😆🥰

  6. Those birthday milestones so often encourage us to shake things up and evaluate our lives. I will turn 60 in August and am feeling some stirrings within. I look forward to following along on your new adventure.

  7. Karen Humphries says:

    This happened to me many years ago and I found a treasure which helped me miraculously! A workbook called “ Build your own Rainbow” by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scully.
    I hauled it out recently as I am lost in my early retirement! I am also hampered by waiting four years for a hip replacement, which means I am now almost bed-bound. It isn’t right for me, but in my early forties it was a wonderful process and outcome, for changing my career and lifestyle! I cannot recommend it highly enough for those who don’t know where to begin.
    (My only tip is think about completing the book ‘physically’. I was pleased that I wrote everything in a separate book).

  8. Melissa says:

    Best sentence in this post… “And so I became still.” Thank you for that. Now, to apply it. ❤

  9. Marie says:

    I am interested to see how you incorporate your new information into this site. One of the things that I struggle with is that maybe banana bread and tea feed my soul, but I can’t stop at one slice… and being a sugar junkie and perpetually 20lbs overweight makes me feel very unhappy. Fortunately I love running, but there is nothing “puttery treatish” about donning lycra and going to the gym. Being a “bad ass” seems the opposite of the cozy-cuddly-home lover.

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