Many years ago I decided to travel to America. It was to be a short visit; a fortnight at the most. Australia had always been at the top of my list of places to visit but opportunity landed me at DFW airport toting one tiny suitcase and a snazzy duffel leaving my parents wondering what they were going to tell the neighbours about my sudden departure. A handsome Texan, complete with Hawaiian shirt, had fallen in love with me at Victoria station in London and sent me an invitation with a plane ticket, to visit his home in Dallas while he was between rock and roll tours. 'Nothing ventured nothing gained,' I thought as I made my way through customs and into his waiting arms.
Twenty-a-lot years later I find myself taking what seems to be another Gap Year back in England with my blue eyed cowboy and my youngest daughter!
In truth I am selling the flat in London which is fast becoming a millstone around my neck. Our open ended stay is dragging on a bit!
Australia is still unvisited and my parents have given up asking me what they're supposed to tell the neighbours and have passed on.
Before my quick trip to America I lived in many different countries. I began life in Hostert, West Germany and then traveled with my parents as they diplomatically made their way throughout the Middle East. When I graduated from London University I moved from the hustle and bustle of England's capital to a small island off the coast of France.
My next move was to Southern Andalusia where all time as I knew it ground to a halt. This complete abandonment of the clock could only compete with God. After a couple of years of Mediterranean living my biological clock began ticking and I was ready to pack up my tiny suitcase and snazzy duffel to head across the pond, which is where my story began.
My blue-eyed cowboy, who had loved me at first sight, and then comforted, honoured and kept me in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, remains a faithful and perfect Southern gentleman. We have four grown children aged 27-21 who were my guinea pigs when I accidentally stumbled into the world of homeschooling. They willingly acquiesced for the fifteen-year lifespan of Wildflower Academy, the fancy name I affixed to my one room schoolhouse.
I became the mother of the year for allowing: snakes to co-habit with us and shed their skins in my bath-tub; raccoons to learn how to swim in our pool; baby squirrels to be bottle fed every three hours and abandoned opossums to cling upside down from my hands by their tails.
With children under my feet every waking hour I insisted that they pursue one common activity at a time, and that it be under a roof, I may have spawned outdoors types, but I am not a member of the jolly hockey sticks brigade myself.
First came gymnastics. With this intense sport I developed a resistance to crowded, chalk filled gyms, hard bleacher seats and the smell of sweaty gear. These skills stood me in good stead for the next activity, ballet. I soon discovered that a dancer's bag seriously challenges any other sports bag when it comes to odiferous stenches! As the children grew we transitioned to our final common activity, theatre. Grease paint and dust are the over-riding nasal ticklers here. We still volunteer, perform and work at the local community theatres in Garland and more recently, London.
The children have now all graduated from homeschool and college and are employed in their fields, sort of!
My cowboy and I solved the problem of looming empty nest by packing our bags and heading to London for a fashionable Gap Year two years ago. Our youngest daughter joined us to complete her final year at a Performing Arts College in Essex. We learned how to live as a couple having only ever had children on our minds and we found that we really rather liked it and are still mad about each other!
After returning to America, ousting our sons from our house, planning a wedding and selling our family home of 28 years we are back on my fair shores. This time our youngest is working in Covent Garden as a Star Barista and auditioning for shows and cruises.
When I'm not rushing around volunteering and walking in ancient woodlands, I enjoy reading and thinking. I write a personal blog, a Radio Show blog and guest write for Vibrant Nation. I am the host of The Sociable Homeschooler on Toginet Radio.
My gallant Texan and I share dinner dates at home each weekend, we reckon that our food is infinitely better than anything a local restaurant can set before us. We have the added fun of tasting while we cook, chopping veggies side by side, creating sauces and indulging in wickedly funny conversation.
Our dream of opening an un-plugged retreat centre is getting closer and closer as we anticipate our return to the U.S. soon!
Who knows what this next year will bring? Tune in to my show, The Sociable Homeschooler, Fridays at 12 noon CT or 6pm GMT, to find out, first hand!
"He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17)