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sticky note

Is it okay to admit that lately I’ve felt the desperate need to be utterly and completely selfish?

I’m back at the beach this morning filling my senses with the textures and sounds of the seaside. There are only a few other solitary people sharing the shore with me.
A woman and her dog. An elderly man in sensible shoes. A jogger in black shorts.

As I walk along I see the footprints of others who have walked the beach already this morning. Contours of feet and runners embedded in the sand, crisscrossing over and on top of each other.

Most of us forget about the tracks we leave behind because we’ve been taught to always surge forward, get on with our plans.
Everyone else stares at the glorious horizon as the sun mounts a new day.
But I… well, I’m just looking down at each of my steps and the imprint they leave in the damp ground. One in front of the other.


I’m taking a small break away from myself right now.

Away from mum and wife and lover and aunty and sister and daughter and friend and boss.

What’s left is just me. No labels. Not beautiful. Raw.

I’ve shed my watch and my wedding band.
There’s no makeup, no hair straightener, no heels and no designer handbags. My hair whips across my face curly-wild, and freckles show through my flushed cheeks.


The tide chases at my feet.

I ponder all those labels that have adhered themselves to me. They feel like grim post-it notes laying claim to my time and energy.
They’ve never bothered me before, yet now they make me feel duty-bound. Not trapped. But weighted down. Sinking.

I’m not paying attention and the water catches my ankle, splashing up my leg cold and foamy. I resign myself to the fact that there’s no chance now that the sand won’t stick to my feet, so I give in and walk in the low tide, enjoying the wet feeling underfoot.

Suddenly I’m not sure why I just didn’t walk in the water in the first place.

Those labels, I realise, are really nothing more than the applications of ourselves, according to who we are with, at any given moment.
And just like real post-it notes the stickiness is removable and reusable.

I stop for a minute to look at how far I’ve come, because while goal setting is imperative, it is utterly unreliable if you don’t understand the importance of seeing, for good or for bad, where you’ve already been.

And the labels, that moments before seemed like anchors, suddenly become the sum of me.

There can be relief in knowing that I am more than just ‘self’.
That I am the composite of my children, my husband, my family, my friends, the people I share my life with, those I teach, those whom I learn from.
Those whom I love and those whom I take comfort from.

They are the structures that keep me moored, that rock me to sleep, that set me adrift.


I thought I was taking a small break away from myself right now.

But really I’ve just needed some time to be with myself.

I look down and see my footprint in the sand.

I take a photo of it because,
just like every day troubles,
it won’t be here tomorrow.
And I don’t want to ever forget,
where I’ve been.
And then I go back to the little beach flat… and write myself a post it note.

Dear A and B, thank you. Solitude is a gift immeasurable.

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