Just in case you didn’t see the post last week, I’m not hanging around this blog anymore.

I’m blogging over here. Come and find me!

Make sure you update your readers and email subscriptions…

Today is the day!

I’m really happy (and a little nervous) to announce that from now on I will be blogging at http://fionalynne.com/blog/

I’ve spent the last few months working on it and getting it ready, and although I’m sure there are a few kinks to iron out, I’m ready to show you all.

So head on over and I’ll meet you there!

(Don’t forget to update your readers if you read the blog there. Also, if you get my updates by email, you’ll need to sign up again over at the new blog…)

I’m in a bit of a funk this morning. I am tired and a bit emotional. There’s lots to do and I don’t want to do any of it. This is the morning I looked for the laundry basket and realised it was still down in the laundry room waiting for me to collect the washing from the middle of last week. This is the morning I got up slowly and remembered too late I actually had somewhere I could have been with real people. This is the morning when whichever way I look, I am not happy with what I see.

We all have those mornings, right?

This morning I also read a post by Kelle Hampton, on her blog Enjoying the Small Things. I love her writing and her openness to share her life. Last week (I’m catching up) she had this to say:

There is no life-altering crisis here. In fact, a mind x-ray would reveal things that might be trite and silly to some, hardly reason for a deep life conversation or going apeshit on a toy basket. There are however a lot of little things I can change right now–bad habits, inattentive routines, shift of focus.

For all the times I spent crying on my bed when I was younger because, God forbid, my world was changing a little bit, I’ve realized somewhere around thirty, I developed a healthy addiction to the very thing I’ve hated my whole life…change. Change is growth, and without it we are stagnant. Stale. Boring.

…I used to think emotional “funks” would just ride out on their own–grab a board, ride the wave. I find more comfort now though in the truth they hold. Funks aren’t the cause of emotions; they are the effect–messages to which we need to listen and respond.

Whether our response is monumental or something as simple as rearranging a living room or cleaning out a toy bin, it’s the action of responding that is empowering–funk-erasing.

So today I’m listening and responding.

Uni friends

Out for Bangladeshi food in ST Andrews on my 23rd birthday – so young!

I’m signing off early this weekend to drive to Bonn for a weekend with two old flatmates from uni, Hannah and Ellie. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, so despite the long drive this morning (winter tyres on two days ago so I’m prepared for anything!) I am excited to finally leave.

We’ve not lived in the same country since we graduated, spreading out between England, Germany, Belgium, South Africa, the USA… we’re a mobile bunch I guess. So the chance to be in the same room together for a whole weekend? There’s nothing quite like it.

So happy Friday, have a wonderful weekend and I hope you find many moments to enjoy your friends.

One of the benefits of these short days during winter, is that I get to see the sunrise every morning. At the moment it appears around half past eight, just when I’ve said goodbye to Rasmus and kissed him out the door, and taken the remains of my breakfast into the study to start my day.

I love the sunrise, but my love for sleep and my cosy bed tends to keep me from seeing it most of the year. And I’ve also lived in a place without a view of the horizon for the last – well there was actually only one year I did live where I could see the horizon from my window.

This expanse of sky is perhaps what I love most about our new home. The space and the light bring me the breathing space I need to start my day in a positive frame of mind. And how important that is.

Image via pinterest

Two months ago we moved into a new apartment, in a new city, in a new country. We’re slowly settling in and finding out way around, and our flat already feels like “home”, which is so nice.

Our apartment is a duplex on the 3rd and 4th (top) floors of the building we’re in. That’s 4th and 5th floors for my American readers. On our floor there is just one other apartment, but I think there are five more apartments being lived in downstairs (three more are offices I think).

The negligence of our washing machine installers allowed us to meet our neighbours on our floor in the first week we moved in. The tap on the washing machine had not been tightened which led to my neighbour knocking on my door half an hour after I’d put the first load of washing in: “um, the laundry room has water all over the floor. Did you install yours today?”

I met both her and her husband that day as they helped us figure out where the water was coming from and fix it. They were kind and friendly and welcomed us to the building. But I haven’t seen them since! We haven’t happened to be leaving or returning to our flats at the same time. I’ve never bumped into them in the laundry room or the garage or collecting the mail. This is the curse of city apartments.

My plan is to, ahem, get up some courage to knock on the door and invite them around for an aperitif one evening. This seems like a suitably French thing to do since they are from that neighbouring country.

But do you have any more suggestions for how to introduce ourselves to our neighbours? In our flat in Belgium, I lived there for two years and only rarely bumped into our neighbours. Another flood (this time from a broken pipe two floors above us) helped us meet some for the first time (drinking espressos together in pyjamas and wellies while we waited for the water to stop – it was an interesting moment) but even after that we rarely saw them.

I’m not expecting to become best friends but it troubles me not to know who I am living next to. For one, it is always nice to be able to tell someone “hey, we’re going on holiday, can you keep an eye on everything?” But having grown up in a small village where you knew everyone in the street, it just feels strange not to know who’s on the other side of the wall (and who’s cooking that delicious smelling food!).

So what are your tactics? Do you know your neighbours? What would people in your culture respond to well? (any French readers want to tell me what my neighbours might appreciate?) Do you even think it matters if we know them?

On Saturday we headed into the city centre to check out the flea market (six very cold looking sellers with overpriced merchandise – I’m hoping it improves in the spring) and get some food from the farmer’s market (very good!). And then on a whim, because it was a stunningly sunny and beautiful morning, we headed down the steep valley side into Grund, and wandered around until our toes got too numb to walk any further. It’s a beautiful little neighbourhood and I’m imagining long summer evenings sitting on the banks of the river with a glass of Luxembourgish white wine…

Grund Luxembourg Alzette river

 

Grund Luxembourg Alzette river

 

Grund Luxembourg Alzette river

 

Grund Luxembourg Alzette river

 

Grund Luxembourg Alzette river

I came out of the changing room, two skirts over my arm that fit and were in the sales, feeling quite pleased with myself. Shopping is often a fraught and emotional outting for me and I seemed to have come out unscathed and successful from this one. I headed towards the stairs to find Rasmus in the men’s section below, but as I rounded another rack of clothes, something caught my eye.

It was bright red dress, hanging in a rack of navys and greys which is why it had jumped out at me. My size. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to try. I headed back to the changing room.

Despite it being the second weekend of January, the shop was almost deserted and I had the changing room to myself. I slipped the dress over my head and then pulled back the curtain to see myself in the big mirrors. What I saw made me smile. This dress was bright. Like the kind of bright that makes heads turn when you walk in, the kind of bright that makes you easy to spot in a crowded room, the kind of bright that just about glows.

Red dress

I smiled again, did a little twirl and slipped back into the changing room. Downstairs, Rasmus asked if I’d had any luck. Yes, I replied. I found these two skirts, and also this red dress. We headed for the cashier, me clutching my purchases close.

Because you should know about me that I am not normally the kind of woman who buys a red dress. The clothes in my wardrobe are various shades of grey, navy, dark green, the odd splash of blue thrown in. A yellow cardigan is about as daring as I get in colour. When I go to a party the goal is blending in rather than standing out. I’ve become comfortable over the last few years with public speaking as my church gave me lots of opportunities to practise, but the thought of being the centre of attention is still more likely to make me feel flustered than favoured.

But the smile when I saw my reflection in the mirror came easily. I liked the joyful bright colour. It is cold and mostly grey in Luxembourg at the moment and this flash of colour brought memories of hot summers, meals on the terrace, long evenings with friends and glasses of wine.

So I bought it.

But old habits die hard. Last night Rasmus and I went out for a fancy meal and I planned to wear the red dress. But once it was on and we were preparing to walk out the door, the old fear of being noticed came flooding back. I must have asked him three or four times “Are you sure I look ok?” Yes. Was always his reply. You look great.

Red Dress

The restaurant was trendy and buzzing, hidden in a back street of a slightly downtrodden-looking neighbourhood. I sat at the bar, downlit with red and pink lights and sipped my raspberry cosmopolitan and looked around me. Nearly every other woman in the room was wearing black. And I felt suddenly very glad that I had found the courage to walk out our front door in a dress that shouted colour!

Because I need to welcome back colour in my life. I need less black and grey dresses that claim to flatter but make me look like everyone else. I need less worrying about fitting in and more courage to just be myself. I need less gloominess, less realism and resignation, and more confidence, more positivity, more carving my own path.

Brave is a red dress. And this year I’m wearing it.

Red Dress

Did you know I’ve been hanging around this little wordpress site for nearly four years??!

Four years is a long time. Four years ago Angelina & Brad had their twins, we were feeling sad about the death of Heath Ledger, Cyprus and Malta adopted the euro, China had its worst snowstorm since 1954 and I had not even met the man who was to become my husband.

Yes, it was a long time ago. Which all means it’s time to give this wee blog a facelift.

Last autumn I joined the fantastic Girl’s Guide to Web Design course, run by the amazing Amanda. She put us 74 ladies (and one man) through a busy and fun eight weeks of designing, coding and building, to show us how to make the website of our dreams. And gracious it was worth the money.

I’ve been working on my new blog design (and a couple of other secret projects) for the last few months – wrestling with html and css and the occasional scary bit of php – and it’s oh so nearly ready to show you all…

But I am going to make you wait 12 more days until 24th January, until I finally unveil it to you. Why, I hear you ask, am I making you wait such an unbearably long time? 24th January 2008 was the day of my first blog post here. So it somehow made sense to me that I do the big move on my blog’s birthday.

I’m looking forward to revealing all my hard work…!

Brave is my one little word for 2012. Sometimes I’ll be sharing my thoughts on it and how it is shaping me, with you all here.

Brave Openness

I have a little figurine that my mum gave me a few years ago, one of the willow tree ones that are so popular now. She’s one of their angel series, and her name is courage.

Her arms are open wide wide wide and her head is thrown back, face turned upward.

I love that this is how the artist chose to capture the spirit of courage. This is no defensive battle stance, fists raised in aggression, or arms folded in defiance. There is an openness in this position. A letting go. A freedom.

I’ve stood in this position a few times before. Often it has been at the top of a mountain, a hill, a cliff. Something about the wide open skies, the space before and around me requires me to spread my arms wide and throw back my head in celebration and awe to take it all in.

This is also the position you see bungee jumpers take sometimes as they launch themselves from bridges and cliffs. Now, I can’t see myself ever doing that, but I love that idea of stepping out, leaping out and feeling the thrill of falling head first into life, with its mix of joy and fear.

Maybe this is what it is to be brave, then: this openness to life, even when it is so big and overwhelming it awes us to silence; this stepping out, even if it means un unknown freefall into something or someplace new.

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