At the grand age of 65, I thought I’d share some facts about my experiences which have taught me many life lessons. May I be wise enough not to repeat them is all I can say.
Follow your heart but decide with your head:
So often, I have found myself following my heart and making decisions with it. Like when I was accepted to read medicine in Toulouse. I fell in love, which did not work out. So what did I do? I escaped both medicine and the country.
Take Cod Liver Oil:
At age 42, I went to see my excellent GP with terrible pains in both hands. She informed me that I had arthritis and suggested taking cod liver oil. Within days, the inflammation went down with my daily cod liver oil intak. 23 years later, I can only thank her for this suggestion. Although I still experience some pains once in a while, I know that without this supplement, my hands would feel and look terrible like my aunt’s, who suffered from arthritis and used to go to Austria every summer for treatment.
There was no love lost between my mother and her sister-in-law, my aunt. When my mother was expecting me, she said to my aunt, who in 1956 had no arthritis, only beautiful, well-looked-after hands, “If it is a girl, I hope she will have your hands.” “Is that the only thing you like about me?” my aunt replied.
Why do we tell white lies? To make ourselves feel better, right? I went to New York recently. One of my oldest girlfriends whom I had not seen for 36 years, asked me to buy her a perfume that she could no longer buy in the USA. After getting up at 3 am and a long airport check-in process, I was ready to board by the time I remembered. I felt annoyed at myself, and excuses went through my head. Maybe I could say, ‘The duty-free was still closed’ or ‘They did not have it.’ In the end, I decided to tell the truth, which of course felt right. Hopefully, I will go back soon and will remember to buy the perfume for her then.
Fear and a lack of self-love are, in my opinion, two reasons why we postpone doing what we need to do. How many of us rush to make an unpleasant phone call? Because we fear the outcome, we delay it. In the meantime, our imagination creates scenarios that are often unfounded. Again, how many of us find chores to do instead of doing yoga or going for a good walk first thing in the morning, for example. Or dieting? ‘I’ll start on Monday,’ we say. If these excuses are not because of a lack of self-love, then where do they come from?
Learn to ignore certain cliches:
Close your ears to comments starting with ‘At my age…’ OK, maybe it is too late to become an acrobat, but why is age an excuse not to start a new activity? Or a new life?
Those who have read my previous articles would know that I attempted to move to my birth country in 2020. My financial situation was the main reason for this move. I thought, my brother and nephew live in the same region, a good exchange rate, sunny Bodrum, the sea, why not? Well, I tried. All my furniture went there too. Covid postponed my departure, which turned out to be in my favour, for I discovered that some friends could be as close as family, the power of trees, and the charm of the countryside. On the whole, I spent many happy months in their house, some so-so months in Turkey and a miracle happened last Summer while I was back in the UK for a few months, dreading the return to Bodrum, the annexe next to my friends’ house became available.
There is no change in my financial situation, but the rent is affordable so here I am back in the U.K. with all my furniture. Of course, I had so many people objecting to this in Turkey. Why was I returning to the grey weather, a tight money situation? Plus, all the removal saga again? Wasting money? Yes, I agree that the weather, although much too hot in July and August, is not comparable. Despite the insane inflation in Turkey, I was still very comfortable financially. Packing-unpacking twice in such a short time plus the cost of UK-Turkey-UK transportation of all my belongings. Yes, these are not negligible.
However, where is my heart? I might have a birth country and an amazing family history that I am proud of, but where is home? My only regret is leaving my brother. Not that we saw each other a lot, but after 47 years, we were in the same country again. I am so grateful for all the help he has given me, and hopefully, we will see each other even more often. This is my wish. I am also very grateful to reconnect with some of my old friends and many new friends with whom I became very close.
Listen to your gut feeling:
You meet a person with whom you start a relationship. Very early on, some of his, (could be her too, but I will keep to ‘his’ for my case) behaviour makes your stomach churn. Or you discover some unpleasant traits of his character but because this is all so new, there is an attraction, so you choose to overlook these traits. Well what you overlooked at the beginning comes back to haunt you. Listen to that gut feeling at the beginning and don’t even give him a chance I’d say.
Concentrate on the positive aspects of your life:
Repeat as many times as you want all the good things which have happened or are happening in your life. Those trigger good feelings. But don’t keep repeating how your wallet was stolen, as each time you tell a new person, you are re-living this negative experience and getting negative feelings.
Read before signing:
An obvious one, you might think but not in my case. When in 2004 my ex-husband wanted all the details of my teaching position, salary etc. I gave them to him and when he asked me to sign the documents saying, ‘Aren’t I a good husband, I am putting your name on the flat I own?’, I did so in good faith. I was signing re-mortgaging papers! To pay off some of his debts, he made me a joint owner because I was a teacher and therefore a reliable source of money. Yes, you are probably saying how stupid can you be? I agree. Especially when a few years later, during the divorce process, I found myself face-to-face with all the monies he owed and ended up paying them all because I had my name on the mortgage! Did he pay me back? Not even a thank you did I receive.
Be friends with money:
We used to receive bank statements, do you remember? Well, I never opened them. I had no idea how much I had in my account. Maybe because I do come from a wealthy background, I assumed money somehow would always be there; no need to check. At the same time, I feared money. This fear is still an issue that I am working on, but at least I know exactly how much I have.
Listen to your solicitor’s advice:
Had I done that, I, too would own my own home and be in a better position financially.
The older I get the more I am aware that we create our own life. Of course, some sad things happen which are out of our control, but the sooner we get over them, the better it is. Being bitter and angry only harms ourselves. I had/have a good life; I am in control, and it is better late than never. I am back home. I am okay with being alone, i.e. single. I have two incredible sons and many friends all over the world. And I do own a studio in Liverpool, which causes me some concern, I must admit. I bought it in 2018 as an investment with a company that is both the developer and manager. The assured/ promised 8% net return immediately became 5%, and the monthly rent income became more sporadic, plus the communication is appalling.
I need to make an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau. No postponing!
Zeynep is back and I for one am thrilled. I was sad when she returned to Turkey, her birth country, but I understood why she was doing it. And I understand now why she is once again returning to the U.K.Zeynep is a fascinating lady, with a colourful past. She has lived in many places, speaks three languages and has a very encouraging outlook on life. We used to see each other fairly regularly for chats and these chats were very real. We discussed the world we lived in, the things that scared us, and the experiences that uplifted us. Our mothers died at a similar time and we turned 60, a milestone birthday, a year apart. I was always fascinated to hear about her Turkish upbringing in Istanbul, where all religions lived side by side supporting each other, when she was young. Grace and I are so happy that she is back to share her life lessons in what we hope is the first of many more articles. Annabel