Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Pieces of Life

It's been more than a week since I arrived home but the jetlag is still lingering. 

I don't know if it's the exhaustion of 7 gruelling weeks on the road or a symptom of something else (check-up is this week; no doubt the GP will say: "Try and stay off the International Date Line for 6 months"), but I've been sleeping 12 hours every night. 

I'd forgotten how wonderful an early evening at home, and a warm bed on a cold night could be. 

You know that feeling?

Unfortunately, I still have work to do and a book on Provence is due. (Uh-hem, was due!)

But this past week of sleeping, writing, working, sorting bits retrieved from the bottom of my luggage, reconciling travel receipts, catching up on emails and friends, and generally realigning life's quarters has made me think about what one friend dubs "the pieces of our existence".  

None of us ever has a neat, perfectly formed life, do we? Our lives are made up of the flotsam and jetsam of our movements; a few bits from one place; a few more bits from another.

We are the sum of these pieces. 

But sometimes it feels as though some of these pieces are missing.

And sometimes the pieces seem so disparate as to confuse us. And we struggle to understand how they jigsaw together to form our identity. 

Are we a mother first? A wife? A partner? A sister? A writer? Or even (as I feel at times) a simple housekeeper? 

Do we belong at home? In New York? In London? In our offices? Or somewhere else, beyond the doorway, or indeed the horizon?

I've spent the past month connecting with friends whose lives have become 'un-jigsawed'. (Terrible grammar but go with me on this.) The pieces of their lives have, for various reasons, fallen apart. Marriages have collapsed; careers have flatlined; their lives have come to a jolted stop; like the 7.12 train, halfway between two destinations. 

As one friend put it: "My garden of life seems to have overgrown when I wasn't looking... How on earth did that happen?"

(Oh, so many metaphors here!)

Another dear friend confessed to me that, despite being incredibly successful and even winning an Emmy in LA this year, she had a teary moment recently when she realised she was 41 and her life was something of a discombobulated state. 

Who hasn't felt like that at times? 

Life shakes us around, like a cold snap in spring (which the Northern Hemisphere has just had), and I think it does it deliberately, just to see how we cope. That's my theory. 

I also think that the best way to cope is to be kind to yourself. And be true to yourself, to use an old cliche. Remember your strengths. Remember who you are, not who others perceive you to be – especially those who may have only met you for a minute.

Remember what you can do. And how well you do it. 

If you be gentle on yourself, and wait for life to settle once more, you'll soon be able to see the corners of your jigsawed existence again. 
And the rest will fall into place in no time.

That's my words of wisdom for the week anyway...

(All images mine.  Images from New York, London and the Rothschild garden on the French Riviera – which was actually incredibly beautiful.)


  1. I feel like I've just had a good pick-me-up session with a very skilled Therapist. Medicare need to award you an Item #/Rebate Code for this post, I got a heap more from it than a 100 sessions with a Shrink could ever do. I can see a Guest Editor's stint for you with Psychology Today arriving in your Inbox just about.........NOW!!
    Millie xx

  2. An old boyfriend used to say that he had to be had on himself because no one else would be but I subscribe to the be kinder on yourself theory.

    I miss those gardens, the meals, the hotel and those lovely lovely lovely women on the tour who were interested and interesting ad engaged and warm and who shared their stories so generously.

    Seriously when in life do you get to meet so many like minded kind people all at once? Lucky.

  3. Oh Janelle. So thoughtful and moving. I can relate so entirely to where you're at. Wish we lived closer. J x

  4. I'm a big fan who never comments, but oh my - I could hear one of my own jigsaw pieces clicking right at the end of reading this. Just lovely.


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