Imagine if you could have a tete-a-tete with yourself. I wonder what your 50yr old would tell your 20yr old, because dreams we have in our early days don’t always go according to plan. They can take years to manifest themselves & we can become somebody quite different to the one we envisaged. Judith Chalmers ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Now she had my dream job! I could write about beautiful, exotic locations, try delicious cuisine from around the world & persuade others to try it too…..surely it couldn’t be that hard? A smart flat in London & a second one in Milan (with a surname like Bellavia I could never go wrong in Italy) & my life would be sorted. If not a travel journalist/presenter, a tennis player was next on my list followed by anything to do with food & finally, something that involved singing. Well things didn’t quite go that way. I became a teacher, got married & my colourful & lyrical Italian name of Caterina Rosalia Bellavia was replaced with ‘Kate Baker!’ For 25 years I was known as Mrs. Baker, the school teacher! It’s really not as bad as it sounds though. Teaching was a wonderful career. What could be better than working with children, priceless moments that still make me smile even today. Not to mention the long holidays! I had my fair share of enormous highs & deep lows but sadly, never created the opportunities to expand ‘creatively’ for myself. But all I know is this. That every experience, whether joyous or painful, will always have an element of positivity & it will ultimately become an invaluable learning step in our journey of self-development. It was during these years that I discovered my greatest role that nothing will surpass……the role of a mother.
Pictures ignite feelings, emotions &, like music & words, can also provide one with such comfort. My mother’s hectic life never allowed her much time to devote to her hobbies but I do always remember her with a camera close at hand. Black & white photography back then, her iconic ‘Practica’ camera ready to get the next shot….if time allowed. Her photography was always thought-provoking & beautiful. I wonder, if things had been different for her, whether she would have pursued a career in photography, doing something for herself. Selfishly, I’m glad she didn’t because she succeeded in becoming the best mum anyone could ever have in the world & I owe her so much. She inspired both my sister & I & photography has become a way of life for us too. Thanks to technology, all of our thousands and thousands of photos can now be stored without fear of losing them. But the family dreads us returning from a trip with cries of;
“Yes, we’d love to see your holiday snaps Jo & Kate” (shaking their heads knowing they couldn’t possibly endure another 25 photographs of the same thing but shot at a different angle or in different lighting!) But nonetheless, our passion, & who can argue with that. Every now & again, a unique photo comes along signifying a moment, feeling or time zone in your life. Although you didn’t realise it at the time, it reveals so much about you & helps you to understand.
So yes, it is possible to live a life of total, uninterrupted bliss & it’s also possible to live a life of pure comfort, happy in the knowledge that you know exactly what’s coming next. But what happens when one morning, you wake up & the next page of your life story has become distorted. The words are blurred, the comfort or indescribable happiness has gone & fear steps in. What happens then? Some of us resort to alcohol. Some to chocolate, absence from work, endless hours of daytime TV, shopping, sleep, sleep & more sleep & of course bitterness towards the ‘reason’ that caused the distortion. For anyone recognising these traits will know that what I’m ultimately describing is loss. Whether it be your health, a job or a loved one, loss leaves you vulnerable, challenged into making decisions & grief, which is an inevitable part of the process. Things happen & having experienced loss myself, in many forms, I’ve come to realise that it’s not worth wasting another day on things, that have been taken out of our control. So grateful for some of the best & worst years that I’d already had, I knew now that I needed to be strong & to take this as an opportunity to re-visit my early dreams, make a serious change for myself, push boundaries, & let go of the fear! With the encouragement of family & friends who truly loved me, I trusted & believed that I’d be ok. Suddenly, I became aware of what I was truly capable of…………