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The latest Tweets from Auriens (@auriensliving). A brand new later lifestyle concept launching in 2019, dedicated to luxury living, tailored to later life. London, England.

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Is it appropriate to write your own son’s dating profile?

6 Minute Read

Michele Kirsch, learns the hard way, that it is not.

The son has done a mutual and amicable break up with his girlfriend of six years. He is only 21 so she was the main one, probably the only one. When I ask why they split up - I refrained from hysterically crying, saying how much I loved her, how he would never find someone who looked as much like Mila Kunis as she does, how she was the ultimate package deal: beauty, brains, personality and manners, asking him if he was clinically insane, that if so I would draw on my pension early to pay for psychological treatment, or ghostwriting love letters from him to her saying it was all a hideous mistake, and would she marry him and have babies with him - yes, I did NOT do all that stuff, because he just might not have appreciated my making his break up all about Me, Me, Me, cos kids today, ay, they don’t like a drama. So, I have to accept it, that my head-turningly-gorgeous son (this is not my prejudice, he actually turns heads when he walks into a room) has decided, in an outrageously mature fashion, that they had grown up together and as the way of these things, had also grown apart.

Now I have a history of trying to intervene in his love life, from the age of 11 (him not me, though you could be mistaken) when he fell for a girl called Clementine. It was Valentine’s Day, and after I got him some flowers for her from a Tesco Metro - ‘Mum take the Tesco thing off, I don’t want her to think I am cheap’ - and we jointly stalked her house, and he was just going to leave the flowers with a ‘Be my Valentine’ card and run away. I said, ‘No, son, you want to do a GRAND GESTURE’ - so in chalk, we wrote outside the house, on the pavement – ‘Be my Clementine’. I thought it was ever so original and clever, and we decided against tossing clementines around her path, because we could only get satsumas, and maybe she hated citrus fruit or had a fatal allergy to them.

I never found out if the flowers were received, or if the chalk message was rubbed away in embarrassment. Clem wound up going out with a friend of his, and my boy met his lovely gal when he was in his mid-teens. I think he did. I was drunk off my arse for most of his teens so it is a little foggy.

So anyway, fast forward to…not that long ago. He comes over to my flat cos we are going to do what we do, which is go for Pho and chat shit for ages. It is by far my favourite thing to do. He mentions he has joined a dating app, not the really popular one Tinder but a different one, where you can only potentially hook up if you swipe each other at the same time. I think. I don’t even know what swiping means, except it doesn’t hurt and you do it on your phone and nobody gets pregnant. He shows me some of the girls, and I am shocked and sickened cos they all look EXACTLY alike, like the Kardashians, big arses, small waists, cat’s eyes, virulent lippy, eyebrows shaped by people who do not understand eyebrows, and wait it gets stranger. They are all 22 and all either philosophers or curators or anthropologists. Weirder still, they all pose with their friends who look just like them, and they do some strange photoshop thing to put on kitten ears and kitten noses and whiskers. And I’m like, ‘I don’t get it, so all these kitten women are curators and when you go out with them, you get the friend as well?’. Oh yeah, and lots of them are holding bottles of Prosecco aloft.

I do not understand any of it, so I say, OK, have you swiped any of these girls? Did you meet any, and do they actually have kitten faces and strange brows, and he goes no, he has not really swiped any cos yes, they do all look a bit modified, a bit altered, a bit samey, but the thing that really gets to him is that they all have these fancy pants jobs, and he works in construction, though he was a model til he decided he hated it because he did not want to be judged for his looks. So I say construction is a noble job, honest, everyone needs something constructed. But he feels it is not really impressive enough, and he does not buy my line, ‘Oh, I know these curators, they like a bit of rough’ so he feels that his profile does not really do him justice. I say, lemme look at what you’ve written. (Voice inside screaming - don’t interfere, it’s his date, not yours, but other voice goes, interfere. It is in your genes.) He has a lovely photo, a modelling one I think. So I go ‘Great pic’ but then the first thing he writes is – ‘This is an old photo’ and I explode: ‘You can’t put that! It is only a year old, maybe two, but you look exactly like that, maybe better. If you put ‘old pic’ they are going to think you are 75, bald fat and have halitosis and those strange hairs that grow out of old men’s nostrils and ears.’ He is not convinced. He also does not want to say he is in construction cos it sounds boring. And I’m like ‘no, everyone loves a builder. If you were a curator as well you would just talk hi falutin boring art shite all day and it would be a passionless relationship. You would have to go to galleries and museums, not clubs or festivals, with a clever kitten woman. NO!’.

And I realize that I have to let him go out there and meet these kitten women and make his own mistakes. He rejects my profile rewrite - ‘Can strangle a giraffe with my bare hands, if needed, though I love animals…particularly cats’ even though I protest it shows brute strength and sensitivity all in one phrase. And what do I actually know about dating in the modern world? Nothing. What do I know about my son? Enough to know that he’s smart enough, charming enough and gorgeous enough to make his own way in the world of dating. The stuff I find funny (OK, you meet one of these kitten ladies and find out that she does not have kitten ears and nose, and you look at her in horror and go, “But your ears and nose looked so different in the photo… this is really false advertising. I loved those damned ears and nose…”) leaves him cold. We abandon the app and go out for Pho, and I count my blessings. He’s happy and healthy, I am sober, and life is very sweet right now. He will meet his sweetheart, one day, and I will love her as much, if not more, than the last one.

My New Career as a People Person

10 Minute Read

It was six years ago, when I was 46 years old, and I was lying in bed and feeling terrible on an island in the Hebrides. I’d come away on holiday to a place I’d always yearned to go to and things weren’t going well. I was there with the man I was going out with (and subsequently married but that’s another story) and we were uncomfortable with each other. We hadn’t known each other long enough to be holed up in a too-small, too-isolated ‘love nest’, far away from other people.

It had been my idea, my dream. I’d always wanted to head off to the Isle of Harris with a rugged bloke and be entwined for days on end. It hadn’t occurred to me that maybe my idea of intimacy was someone else’s idea of hell. And, anyway, he wasn’t in love with me then. He was too wrapped up in a past relationship to really be available to love anyone - not me and certainly not himself either. But I have never been one to let reality ruin my fantasy. Until then.

As I lay there wondering why this man I thought I was in love with plainly wasn’t in love with me, I started thinking about all the times I’d messed up my life. There were so many. I’d been a terrible girlfriend, a messed-up mother, a loose cannon, a wayward lover, a drunk. I had, in the past, sunk way too much and too far and done things I felt deeply ashamed of. I’d hurt and humiliated people I cared for. It didn’t feel good But, more than that, I realised I’d lost all sense of self.

In a vain desire to have some sort of ‘standing’ in the world, I’d sold my soul to journalism. I didn’t even know what integrity was any more. I’d argue on both sides if the money was right. I felt that I’d worked so hard for so long to be successful that I couldn’t possibly turn my back on the industry I’d strived so hard to belong to. I'd become obsessed with money. It had taken me over in a way that was out of kilter.

It wasn’t that I was poor. I’d inherited money from my father but my ex and I (the father of three of my four children) had frittered a worrying amount of it away on such fripperies as outdoor furnishings and club class tickets to exotic locations. So I didn’t seem able to turn paid work down. I was obsessed with the fact we’d run out of money so I found myself saying yes to every job I was offered. I had no filter. I’d write anything for anyone. I wrote about my intimate relationship with my then-partner. I wrote about my family, my dead-dad, my friends, people I knew, people I barely knew. Nothing was off-limits. I wrote article after article and the subjects begun to get increasingly personal Things came to a head when I was asked to write about my children.

At first, I saw nothing wrong with a quickly penned piece on how tricky it was bringing up my much-loved, much-wanted daughter. I didn’t think I’d written anything terrible. I’d just pointed out how much nosier and demanding she was compared to her three older brothers. My first inkling that anything was amiss was when various radio stations and daytime television stations called asking me to go on air and talk about my ‘controversial’ piece. Then the internet went mad and I became the scourge of parents, outraged at my comments. It was a bruising experience and it left me bewildered. Had I really said something that bad?

From then on, everything got worse. I couldn’t write anything without hoards of online trolls making my life miserable. In the end, I came off all social media but I could see that life, or at least my life as a journalist, had to change.

So there I was, in the Hebrides, moaning on about how sick I was of all of it when my boyfriend said, rather nonchalantly, 'Well, why don’t you do something else then?’. Something else? Jesus. The thought had never occurred to me.

'Like what?'.

'I dunno. You like finding out what makes people tick. You’re interested in people. I think you’d be a good therapist.'

I sat there feeling somewhat stunned. Then I started googling courses on becoming a psychotherapist and, it seemed, I could do a six-week introductory course and see how it felt. That was six years ago. The six weeks went to a year, then another two years then...somehow four years passed and there I was, a fully paid-up, qualified counsellor. I couldn’t believe I’d done it.

In many ways, I’d turned my life around beyond recognition. Instead of going out I’d studied. I’d stopped partying, misbehaving, being an arsehole. I spent days and nights on end reading and learning and scrutinising myself and crying. Lot and lots of crying. I went in to therapy. I started therapising other people. I felt like an imposter – to myself, to them, to everyone. The first client I had was when I was working at a Youth Counselling Centre. She was 18, had dyed blue hair, many piercings and studs and was covered in tattoos. She was in the waiting room glowering at me as soon as she saw me. Her rather nervous mother kept prodding her as I asked Helen (not her real name) to come with me. “No,” she said scowling. In that moment, I almost turned and ran. What on earth was I doing there?

My course hadn’t prepared me for this. But I stood my ground, told her she was coming with me and somewhat frog marched her up the stairs. As we sat silently staring at each other, I noticed she had a picture of a rat on her mobile phone. 'Is that your pet?', I asked her. Suddenly this angry hurt teenager started smiling. It was the beginning of a very fruitful relationship. I have learned so many things; teenagers are difficult to counsel but, once they trust you, they really are magnificent in their ability to grasp therapy and run with it.

Adults take more time. We’re far more set in our ways and we’re scared. Therapy is work. It takes a form of bravery to walk through the door. It has to involve trust and interest and something between the therapist and client that has some ‘juice’. People ask me if I get bored. How could I? I’ve heard so many different stories from so many different lives.

I now know how to shoplift and how to remove security tags. I know where to buy any sort of drugs from. I’ve seen the scars from those who self-harm and I always consider that an honour. I’ve been to the backstreets of Faro via Google Earth where one of my youngest and saddest clients grew up. She was a little homesick girl who just wanted to show me the life she had before her mother died and her father came to the UK for work.

I’ve met some truly fascinating people. I’ve met people who believe they have done terrible things. Sometimes I’m not sure if I am friend or foe. Therapy goes like that. I look like I’m listening. I am listening. But I’m also thinking - what’s going on here? Who am I for this person? I notice the minute - a change of dress, the body language, the defenses, the endless defenses we all use to avoid the things we don’t like about ourselves.

I’ve seen jealous women clad in green and scarlet women wearing scarlet yet neither of them realising it. I’ve had a man who couldn’t grieve develop huge styes in his eyes without connecting it to his inability to cry. I have seen people in desperate pain. But I’ve also seen people heal. I’ve been wept on, shouted at, flirted with, denigrated, exalted, insulted, complemented. And I just sit there. I sit there because that’s my job. And I love it. It feels serious and proper and kind and caring. I delve into places I’d been terrified of going to before I chose this work. I learn as much, if not more, from my clients as they do from me. I still do. Every time I meet a client I feel a sense of wonderment. 'What journey will we go on here?', I think.

It will never stop, this learning. That’s what I love about it. There’s so much to know. When I tell people – people I used to know – that I’m now a therapist, they look momentarily confused. Most struggle to believe that I would give up a seemingly successful public career for something that sounds so different. But I point out that they are not that far removed.

Therapists are interested in people, in why people do the things they do. We’re interested in theory and practice and relationships and the past and the here and now. What might appear to some to be quite simple – I sit in this chair, you sit in that chair, is far more complicated than that. As my clients tell me their stories, I am working hard concentrating, filtering, alighting like a butterfly on one piece of information, gathering a bit of pollen from it, then flitting off to the next bit.

It’s a quieter life held in some sort of suspended animation as myself and my clients sit together. No one but us knows what goes on in that room and, sometimes, we’re probably not all that sure what actually has gone on. There is something mysterious about the therapeutic relationship that leaves people baffled and intrigued.

People always ask if I enjoy what I do. I always answer that enjoy isn’t the word. I am sort of completed by it – by doing good, by being intellectually stimulated, by meeting so many different people letting me in to their complicated but fascinating lives. I’ve met a more full range of people than I ever did as a journalist and now I am not forced by put-upon editors to find a headline.

I am strangely changed and yet unchanged – as Winnicott said, the worse breakdown we fear is the breakdown that has already happened. I feared losing my status, my income, my social standing but really that fear was about getting to know myself and that’s been around for a long time. I draw back the veil every day by an infinitesimal amount.

And, of course, dear reader, I did marry the man from the Hebrides. But it would never have happened if I hadn’t chosen a different path for my life. Becoming a therapist has helped me see relationships in such a different light. I am far more tolerant, kinder, more giving and more forgiving than I ever thought I would be. There is some sort of innate blind trust that enters the room when a client walks in.

It’s a form of love. You take a leap. You trust the leap. It can all go a bit wobbly but if you do the work, feel the trust, love and support, you get there in the end. I could have walked away from this, from him, from my training. I could have jacked it all in and there were many times I nearly did.

But I am so glad I didn’t.

Battling Pervasive Ageism | US News

5 Minute Read

Older people who have negative views about their aging live on average 7.5 years less than people with positive attitudes. In fact, they walk more slowly, experience memory problems and recover less fully from a fall or fracture, among other things. Their attitude literally pulls them down.

Read the full article here: Battling Pervasive Ageism | US News

Black Tie, White Lie: boisterous street theatre with a bigger purpose | London Student

8 Minute Read

It’s Saturday morning, and a group of elaborately dressed revellers are trying to walk in a straight line on Waterloo Bridge. Stumbling, cheering, slurring and singing, wearing tuxedos and ballgowns, the merry band of partygoers are drawing curious stares and giggles from passers-by and buses are slowing down to honk their horns and wave.

Read the full article here: Black Tie, White Lie: boisterous street theatre with a bigger purpose | London Student

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