A look back meme

Inspired by the ever beautiful and talented Darlene at daisies (http://djkreutzer.com/moments/archives/111), who in turn had been inspired by the lovely I Am (http://themad1s.blogspot.com/2008/07/care-to-join-me-id-love-to-read-your.html), I’ve decided to do the latest meme sweeping the blogosphere. Feel free to join us – it fits in well with all the thinking and pondering I’ve been doing lately…

(a warning….it’s a little dark at the start. But it has a fairly happy ending :-))

Twenty years ago….

I was seven. And every time I see a picture of me at that time, I just want to jump in a time machine and go and give that sad, scared, lonely little girl a hug. I’ve more or less blacked (or should that be greyed?) out a good 90% of my ages 5 to 10 (seriously. I struggle to recall books I read, names of friends, favourite TV shows. The memories just aren’t there…), and all I can see in the photos of that time is a lost little girl. I was pretty and slim and bright and so eager to be loved and utterly alone. This was smack bang in the toughest period of my life, and it breaks my heart to think of how I felt and how I percieved things. The deep cord of sadness and loneliness that goes straight through my character (yes, underneath all the sunshine, smiles and joy, there’s a depth!) is pretty much a direct result of this time, I think. There were good times, I’m sure. I just can’t remember them. It’s like my subconcious took the whole time, bundled it up like you do rubbish at the end of a kids party (you know, where you fold up the paper tablecloth with all the junk on, and then shove the whole thing in the bin?), and just moved on.

Which means I’m healthy. But I wish I could give that little lonely tomboy a hug.

Fifteen years ago….

I was twelve. And I had just finished my first year at boarding school. In many ways, my time at boarding school was the making of me – I was bright, and I could learn. It taught me about friendship and teamwork and when it’s best to just shut the hell up. My boarding school was very rough, but a great place for me at the time. This was also the time that I started piling on weight… I arrived at school a healthy, broadshouldered little girl of eleven. And was bullied incessantly for being fat. With the divine irony of preteen thought, this triggered my comfort eating for the first time. Meaning I did become fat. Sigh. But as coping mechanisms go, it’s one of the least deadly. But as I try and move on from this fifteen years later, it’s amazing me how hard the cycle can be to break! I think also the fact that I was bullied by girls and boys at the time meant that becoming fat became something of a power. Because if you’re fat, boys don’t notice you. It’s a thing I’ve been hiding behind ever since, and part of the reason I think my current weightloss has stalled. Yep. I’m scared.

However, unlike my memories of seven, there are some great times I can recall…the first time I sang a solo and thought “This is what I love to do”. The first time I came top of the class. Silliness and midnight feasts and girly chats in the dorms.

Ten years ago….

I was seventeen, and smack bang in what (I didn’t know at the time) was one of the best summers of my life. A couple of months later one of my best friends would pass away and it would be that moment where I became a grown up, that point where you know you can’t go back. But in July 1998 I didn’t know that. It was a summer of babysitting and waitressing and lying on the beach and going to the local disco on a Friday and Saturday and parties and waiting for exam results and your day being made when that cute guy from orchestra looked your way. It was an amazing summer. I was very clumsy in the way I looked, and personality wise I was way more of a doormat than I am now, but the Claire writing this was starting to take shape.

Five years ago….

I was twenty-two, and had just finished university. I had a degree and some great friends and a head full of dreams and ideas. I also had a place on a college course to do Radio Production (one of my dreams!)…which I promptly lost despite aceing all the interviews etc….because they added an extra thousand pounds to the fees. Disappointed doesn’t even cover it! It was a time of hopes and fears and indecision and trying to sort out what I wanted to do. I’d had a really bad time about two years prior to this (my life up to and including twenty had it’s fair share of awfulness!), but I was finally cimbing up from it, and around here is where I really started to be the me you read here. I’m still growing and changing, but the cycle that started for me about five years ago is the best of my life. And I say that completely unironically. It may suck sometimes, it may have bad times, and heaven knows I screw up sometimes, but I love where I am now. My twenty two year old self kicked it all off.

Three years ago…..

I was twenty four. I had just finished my PGCE at Durham, after one of the busiest, most stressful, and awesome years of my life. I had worked hard and got a great qualification. I had grown immeasurably in confidence (I’m still an inherently shy person. But ten years ago or so? I wouldn’t say boo to a goose!). I had met three of my best friends (Mlle Wilson, HRH, and Jean, I’m talking about you!) and a heap of other amazing people. I had secured a job at a really good school. I was an excited wee thing! I was also the largest I had ever been, after snacking far too much when under pressure and drinking far too much when letting my hair down. I’m two dress sizes smaller now, which is brill. Despite this hitch, I’d say three years ago was a pretty great place.

One year ago…..

I was twenty-six, and working at LASA (Lady Annaly’s Summer Academy, the summer program/finishing school) with some amazing girls. I was feeling pretty good about my teaching after two years at the same school, but the seeds of change were starting to sprout, and ideas for other projects and pursuits were starting to take root. I was lucky enough to have an amazing bunch of friends. I loved my blog (still do!) and was very excited to be hoping to meet some of my fellow bloggers when I holidayed in Canada a few months later. I’d just passed my driving test (third time lucky!) and was looking for a car. I’d recently joined a little movement called ‘Join Me’ after reading a book my friend had recommended (I had no idea what a knock on effect this would have!). Life was pretty darn good.


I had a lovely day. The sun was shining, and there was a crisp light breeze coming in off the Firth. I went up to see Erin and her beautiful boys (the universe, in its infinite wisdom, has given me many wee people to coo over. Which for someone as awesomely broody as I am, is a powerful gift). I drove along the coast path to meet Sam for lunch and we sat out on the deck, watching the clouds wisp across the Firth towards the moutains of Caithness and Sutherland. I went to Elgin and bought books (still one of my favourite treats!) and met my friend Ewen. We went for Irn Bru and chat. I drove home in the sunshine and had tea with the fam. I sent some email, checked some blogs, and then headed to the park where I sat and chatted with Ross, Ewen, Harriet, Jamie and Andrew, before we all headed in to watch a Ben Folds Five DVD together. I remarked that a day like this was pretty much one that my seventeen year old self would have adored – all the fun, just with more diposable income, a car, and broadband internet!


It’s 11.15, and I’m writing this in my PJs. After this, it will be reading blogs, reading books, writing postcards, cooking, maybe a swim…. The pace of life in Forres during my summer holidays is blissfully relaxed.


Who knows? More holiday fun, I would guess.

In the next five years…..

I have so many dreams and hopes and ambitions. If you’ve seen ‘Never Been Kissed’, there’s a point where Drew Barrymore’s character asks another character what she wants to be when she grows up. The other girl answers with a list of about eleventy million things – that’s how I feel.

I want to help people and have fun and create and change the world. I would like to fall in love and have adventures and build a home and have babies. I wish such good things for the people around me – love and success and peace and goodness. I want to write stories and sing songs and bake cookies and take pictures. I hope to be brave and silly and good and clever and kind. I want to dance at gigs and laugh with friends and wake up in the arms of someone who just makes my heart sing. I want to make a difference and be inspired and love life and encourage people. I would like laughter and late night talks and challenges and so much. I want to be a positive in the lives of others.

I intend to be busy. 🙂

Oooh, and what a perfect opportunity to post one of my current favourite songs – ‘Five Years Time’ by Noah and the Whale (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8YCSJpF4g4).

I really enjoyed doing this meme. It was a job and a half, but I’m glad I did it (and thank you if you persevered and read it all!).

What would yours say?



  1. bee
    24th July 2008 / 12:53 pm

    i want to ask you sooooo many questions now…this meme was so poignant.

  2. Joan
    24th July 2008 / 1:45 pm

    Lovely, lovely claire,thank you so much for doing this meme, and yes, I did read to the very end :)I too had seen it at tanaya’s and dar’s but have yet to comment on their’s as some posts take time to digest before one is able to properly respond… but! I am sitting here having early morning coffee and want to tell you how insightful and affirming your meme was…I too, have years like yours from early childhood that have been totally erased. I do not remember being nine at all… none of it.But that is a defense mechanism that we have that wraps those years so neatly and stores them someplace safe, someplace where, when the time is right (and the time may never be right)those lost years will be returned to our memory in bits and pieces as we are able to handle it… at least that is how it has been with me :)I love how your meme revealed little facts of your life thar I would otherwise not know… such as boarding school! I always wondered what boarding school life would have been like.It’s funny… when I was young and misbehaved my mother would threaten to send me to ‘Brightside’ which was the orphanage on the hill run by the Carmelite nuns :(And about your feelings after two years of being at the same job, it is what happens to creative souls, souls longing for adventure and change… I always felt those very same longings.Continue to love this glorious life you have been given… your friends and loved ones who share your dreams and your visions… drink in the coast and the incredible countryside, allow yourself decadent coffee concoctions, and books that you can hug to your chest, reveling in the marvels that can be contained between to paper and leather covers…life is so good, and I wish for you your dreams come true each and every one.thank you so much for sharing your life here, it is a treasure.I too shall do this meme in the next few days, just as soon as I can find a pocket of time long and quiet enough :)thank you again, this was such a beautiful way to start my day…love to you!xo

  3. angel, jr.
    24th July 2008 / 2:56 pm

    I am so glad that you shared so much with us.I am happy that you have grown too.

  4. I AM
    24th July 2008 / 4:35 pm

    “I hope to be brave and silly and good and clever and kind.”My dear…I think that you already are! Such an incredible goal. What a joy to read this post from you. Wasn’t it well worth the time? I’m happy to have this chance to get to know you better.

  5. Cheryl
    24th July 2008 / 7:02 pm

    Excellent and insightful. There are things I wish I could block out, but I can’t. It’s a challenge. I know that scene from the movie, and I know that feeling too.

  6. Christielli
    24th July 2008 / 8:11 pm

    Great meme! I’ve just been thinking that I need a good meme to do, and I’m so going to do this one!It’s great learning so much about you. You are clearly a very strong person, and I think that you rock. I think it’ll be awesome to come back to this in five years’ time and see how things have changed.Yay you! :Dps that song rocks!!

  7. Violet
    24th July 2008 / 8:49 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad to get to know you through this meme =) I can really relate to the emotional eating and it is a hard cycle to break!

  8. daisies
    24th July 2008 / 9:29 pm

    wow … this just says so much about you and makes me want to so get to know you even more 🙂 am so glad you did this!!did you know that my husband works in radio when he’s not banging on his drums? he’s a technical sound prouducer and i know a few producers at other radio stations .. i always though it would be kind of cool to work in such an environment too …so much i want or could say but am only going to say … enjoy the rest of your vacation beautiful you, xoxox

  9. writer chick
    25th July 2008 / 12:38 am

    Wow Claire, that was just beautiful. I was sad to read that your very early years were so sad – young children should only have mirth and fairie tales and hot chocolate in my opionion. But as I read it was like watching you grow up and expand and see the world through new and excited eyes. Lovely. Thanks for sharing these parts of yourself.Annie

  10. Jocelyn
    25th July 2008 / 1:11 am

    you have beautiful ambitions/dreams/hopes!

  11. Miss Ash
    25th July 2008 / 2:26 am

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us Claire, it was very candid and insightful.

  12. Coby
    25th July 2008 / 3:34 am

    Man what an awesom post! I have a ritual around Halloween time. I read Blubber by Judy blume. Your year fifteen reminds me of that book, not the title either its just very simmilar in content.Year ten, I think I can relate there as well. Awkward years were great werent they!As in the song title: Yesterday All my troubles seem so far away, at least with broadband anyway!Never Been Kissed? are you kiddin me? Gr8 movie! I just love the song throughout “Tessie” by the Drop Kick Murphy’s. I had a conversation just today about my love for “Chick Flicks”I don’t know about this meme thing but it sure produced a fantastic read! Thank you!

  13. JLee
    25th July 2008 / 10:53 am

    Thanks for sharing this and it’s wonderful to see how you grew over the years. I LOVE that movie “Never Been Kissed” and maybe sometime I will do this meme. But then I would have to tell people my age 😉

  14. running42k
    25th July 2008 / 11:28 am

    very informative. Let’s hope the next five years are great.

  15. Sparkling Red
    25th July 2008 / 3:48 pm

    You are such a sweetheart! With all the darkness in your past, it’s even more amazing how bright and sunshine-y you are. Thanks for bringing your honesty and faith forward to share.

  16. Heff
    25th July 2008 / 5:37 pm

    20 years ago…I was 20. Damn I’m getting old !

  17. Anonymous
    25th July 2008 / 5:56 pm

    Girl, if you had grown up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA, we SO would have been friends! I relate on so many levels about what you wrote. I too have the “blackout years” – it is crazy what the brain does to protect you from too much hurtfulness.You are one cool chick!Erin (cK’s Erin)

  18. cK
    26th July 2008 / 3:05 am

    I’ll have to post something about this exercise because it’s very similar to one I used to put students through…only it reminds me of something I got very wrong about that exercise back then.Must try to do that tomorrow evening between painting my brother’s basement and making dinner with the Girl from Fort Smith, Arkansas.-cK

  19. robin-bird
    26th July 2008 / 5:42 am

    this is truly a wonderful way to be introduced to more of the ‘you’ that makes you claire. i especially felt moved by your desires for the next five years. it is heartwarming, and humble, fresh as clean air and i hope you are able to experience all of those things. it sounds like full life. a good life. it is always good for my spirit, my child self to meet and hear other’s who have stories to tell that allow me to connect and feel comforted. remembering i am not alone is the single most important thing i do everyday. this is a lovely meme and i believe you when you say it was a “job and a half”.xo

  20. Riot Kitty
    28th July 2008 / 4:23 am

    This is neat. I need to get off my ass and do something like this…thanks for sharing.

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