Cath Rapley
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The dreams I once had, and how the life ...

The dreams I once had, and how the life plan didn't go to plan.

May 17, 2022

I'm writing Snafu on Toast (also on Substack), a newsletter about what happens when the life plan doesn't go to plan. These are tales of some highs but quite a lot of lows, stories and reflections of a life that’s not such an extreme failure it counts as a bestseller misery memoir (think Maid, Monster), but not so highly successful that I’m at content to read about other peoples’ struggles while pulling my organically-dyed lambswool throw round my shoulders watching a Sicillian sunset. I can’t yet afford that throw or that beachside holiday, so I’m writing to try and earn one. Yes - full disclosure - at some point I would like to be like one of those famous bods on Substack like Dominic Cummings or Suzanne Moore and have paid subscribers to this newsletter. But for now…

..some facts.

I’m 51

What I thought my life would be like at this age. I’d…

  • own my own five bed home by the sea, somewhere sunny

  • be comfortable enough financially not to worry about the months’ expenses and have a large savings cushion. Be able to wake up looking forward to the day!

  • be happily married having great sex (why do I still worry that my parents might see this and realise it’s something I want??)

  • be a size 12, with really shapely arms. The Sheryl Crow-kind, that look good in vest tops (just Googled and confirmed). Oh yeah, I’d have a Pilates plank stomach too

  • have a wardrobe full of Hush, Omnes and Maeve clothes or basically any cool indie brand that pops up on my Instagram.

  • have children with the potential of the next generation on the way

  • be able to go on holiday regularly

  • be a successful writer

  • be thinking about slowing down at work

The reality is

  • I’m renting (about to be housesitting) I do own a studio in London so not done too bad in that respect, but it’s leasehold, I’m behind on lease payments and trying to renegotiate terms. It’s on the market but NO-ONE IS LOOKING AT IT

  • I’m in debt (again), when oh when will I wake up and not worry about this? When will I end the boom and bust cycle of my spending life?

  • I’m divorced

  • I’m 14-16 and constantly battling with my weight/Slimming World/dodgy knees and there’s more wobble on my upper arms than a strawberry jelly.

  • Tu at Sainsbury’s is my go-to staple new season wardrobe choice (location and budget)

  • I’m childfree not by choice

  • Going on holiday regularly in my younger days contributed to lifelong debt problems.

  • I just started writing professionally again after a 12 year hiatus

  • There’s no way I can slow down at work, in fact I need to speed up or spend retirement cutting coupons and eating Cup-a-Soup.

  • I’m mostly self-employed which has turned out to be a really bad option in 2022.

I’ve spent quite a long time (at least 6 months) ruminating about writing this, but I’ve got to the point when actually, I can’t run from it any more. I’ve had this constant nagging thought that I just ought to tell everyone (anyone) what I am feeling and that maybe, by sharing the life experiences that I’ve had - the disappointments, the pain, laughter, struggle, glamour, success, failure and insights might help someone else.

So this newsletter series will variously cover the subjects of debt, dating in midlife, divorce, friendships, childlessness/childfree living, writing, dieting, toned arms, shiny hair, wrinkles, going grey, manifesting, meditation, trying to find somewhere decent to dance…basically if you are under 40 you’ve probably already moved on now but I hope you stay! You’ll learn that you never feel old inside.

Say what dear: When you realise a lot of people think you’re old ( and it feels surreal)

My very attractive 51-year old friend sent me this ad she saw recently for a tea party on Zoom. I am sure whoever put it together meant well, but we really had to dig deep not to flip out. No offence to the model, but I really don’t think that me at 50 is anything like lilac-cardigan-lady. Hello terribly-well-meaning-but-totally-uninformed poster-designer - the 1980s called and wants its really-out-of-date concept of middle age back.

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