My memory is unreliable
Everyone’s memory is unreliable because we all see things differently: you might see the plum tree with its delicate white blossoms and the wind rustling the leaves on the red currant bush beside it; I might see the blackbird sitting on the branch of the tree, singing away to its heart’s content as if expecting a reply from a soulmate. Both our memories are valid but neither are a fair reflection of what the garden looks like.
I’ve always been a bit out of sync with the people around me
Nowadays there would be a queue of people looking to put a label on me; I have the attention span of a gnat and my mind processes the world in a manner often out of sync with others: in a conversation I might come out with a comment that seems random to you but not to me; what I find uproariously funny might make most people barely crack a smile: I look at some slapstick comedy and I yawn; someone is carrying a plank then it follows someone will get hit with it. To me, that’s predictable, not funny.
I never wanted to be an accountant
Through a series of incidents and accidents, not least of which was my father dying in the last year of my degree, I became an unwilling accountant. It’s had its upside; I earned good money; it made it possible for me to travel to Sudan and Kenya, as a volunteer and then as a consultant; being a self-employed accountant combined well with motherhood. But after thirty years, I decided it was time to try writing which felt more me.
I value acceptance of difference
I was in my mid-thirties before I realised, I’d always felt like an outsider seeking acceptance. It was our then eight-year-old, eldest daughter who provided that lightbulb moment. We were sitting in a café, just the two of us, and she said something I remember as:
‘I don’t want to be like everyone else. I just want to be accepted, the same way I accept everyone.’
At eight, I’m sure she did not use these exact words but she did express the sentiment very clearly and succinctly and I was blown away by it; it was exactly how I felt and how I had always felt.
When our children say things like ‘so and so is weird’, my reply is, ‘thank goodness for weird.’
I read The Secret Garden to each of our four children
I read The Secret Garden separately with our four children, each time was wonderful but different. I always cried when Colin stood up and walked to his father and I relate to the robin showing the way to the garden; in life, I find comfort in the presence of a robin, especially when someone close to me dies.
I love when I reconnect with the child inside me
I seek the child in Yeats’ poem, “To a child dancing in the wind”; I want to dance upon the shore and not ‘care for wind or water’s roar’; in those moments, I want to feel unfettered by life’s knocks and challenges.
I tell myself to get over myself
In stressful situations, I try to remember to ask, ‘what is going on for me? What is going on for the other person?’ I tell myself to ‘Pause. Pause again. Let it go. Give up the need to be right.’ When the proverbial hits the fan, I wish I found pausing easier!
About the Author
After thirty years as a reluctant accountant, Vanessa retired from figures to focus on writing and over the last seven years has taken part in writing workshops at Bantry Literary Festivals, The Irish Writers Centre and The Big Smoke Writing Factory.
When not escaping to West Cork or further afield, the author lies in Clontarf, with her husband, three of their four children – one has flown the nest – her black dog Yoda and her black, epileptic cat named Cat. Her debut novel Deniable Memories is due for release 12 June