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Day 237/365: Just Being Me

This morning my husband surprised me with a ticket to Drawn By Light, a photography exhibition in the Science Museum in London. I noticed the exhibition when I went to the museum with the kids a couple of weeks ago and was disappointed that we couldn't fit it into our busy day. In reality I knew that the kids wouldn't be interested anyway and that their boredom would distract me from enjoying the experience.  Today was the last day of the exhibition so I figured that it was just not meant to be. I am so in the habit of just letting stuff go that I didn't get too hung up about it... Except that almost a decade of letting go of the stuff that is important to me has taken its toll. The constant self sacrifice that comes with putting others first is an excellent breeding ground for resentment. It also means that I am slowly losing track of the elements that make me individual and unique, which erodes my self esteem. I strongly believe that it is important for our kids to see us as a unique and special person, in addition to being their loving mothers. Kids benefit hugely from watching their mothers feeling happy enjoying the things that matter to them. This is one of the reasons why my doll collecting has been so positive in our family. The children see me as an individual with my own separate interests. It is even better that it is a hobby that is not understood  or even sneared at by others. I have had opportunities to demonstrate the need to follow my own personal path, even though it is different to others.  I always promised myself that I wouldn't get lost in the role of motherhood, but I totally underestimated how difficult that task would be. Almost ten years in, and I have forgotten how what it feels like to be just "me". It doesn't help that that I have surely changed a lot since I last had a solid sense of who I am. My husband was aware of this and gave me the ticket with the instruction to go and enjoy some time alone. Just being me! 

As I was getting dressed Bear looked at me and asked, "Are you being [my name] today?" When I said that I was she just looked at me and smiled, content and clearly pleased to see me being happy. The kids were so lovely telling me to have a nice day and taking the time to ask about it when I returned. The truth is that I am no longer "me" in isolation from being a mother. Being a mother is a huge part of who I am now and I am delighted with that. I just need some alone time every now and again to ensure that being a mother is not all I am. 

I had the most amazing day. It was so wonderful to drift around London with ease and more or less in silence. I was able to take the position that I love most - watching, listening, reflecting and making connections between things. I had no demands upon me and it was so amazing to have the space to think. 

The exhibition was wonderful. It was a display of some of the photos from the Royal Photographic Society Collection. There were some of the earliest photos in existence alongside some iconic images of our time such as Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry. I was so curious about how they achieved each of the photos. There was no information on the settings used and I don't have a sense of the kinds of creative decisions that earlier photographers had to make. Most of the photos predated the digital age and I wondered about the processes involved in creating these images. 

Alongside the Drawn By Light exhibition was the Make Life Worth Living exhibition. This was a  collection of pictures taken by Nick Hedges in Britain in the early 1970s to highlight the poor living conditions of many families at that time. The original project was funded by Shelter, the charity for homeless people, and was intended to raise awareness of the needs of families living in poverty. The project was considered to be a success and was partly responsible for triggering a period of social reform in the 70s and 80s. The photos are engaging and powerful. I love this type of photography. It tells the stories of real people in wider world contexts and leaves you wanting to know more.   

After the photography exhibitions I had a few hours to float about taking pictures of what ever I fancied. This is the sort of thing that becomes very challenging with kids in tow. It was nice to take my time to play around with settings and composition. I took my 50mm for ease of transport, which led to the usual frustrations. I will bring my Tamron next time. 

This is the giant ring in the Science Museum. It is hypnotic because light bars zip around it and "bounce" off each other. It also flashes up interesting science questions and some answers that young children have given. 

As I had only just been to the Science Museum a couple of weeks ago, I decided to hop across the road to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I love this museum. It can best be described as a collection of beautiful creations. I visited once when I was in my early twenties but found it boring. It was only when I went again for my birthday last year that I could understand the creativity, skill and work that went into the works of art housed there.

This glass hanging is a good example. It serves no function apart from being beautiful, creative and amazing. It was such fun to photograph. I love glass art. There is something so very pleasing about it for me. I like the way light travels through it and the solid, cold, smooth texture. The transparency often results in lovely colours or effects too. I enjoyed it's modern craziness against the very traditional archways and dome above it. The colours and light from it were mesmerising. I was really in my element by this point. The nice thing about being in a museum is that you can usually take photos to your heart's content and no one thinks anything of it. It is what people expect you to do. 

I was missing my husband at this point and found myself drawn to the metalworks exhibit. He loves decorative ironwork. It is one of my favourite parts of the museum too. 

Who knew that keys and locks could be so beautiful?

I rediscovered my love of curvy lines, spirals and twirls. I love art nouveau styles. 

You have to pay for the Wedding Dress exhibition. I didn't bother this time, but you can have a sneak peek from one of the balconies. It looked stunning. 

I spent quite a while by this window. I was fascinated by the light and how to capture it. I wanted to preserve some detail of the outside world along with some aspect of the tiling. I could have stayed there longer. My self-consciousness eventually caught up with me. 

The performing arts exhibit gave me tingles of excitement. Retro posters are another of my favourite things, as are beautiful stage costumes. One of my main goals for this year is to visit the theatre more. Now that the boys are old enough I can take them along with me to share the experience with them. I hope to go to the ballet at least once this year. It has been forever since I last went. I was a whole different person then!

The V&A had it's own photography exhibit. I had read about this project by Nicolas Nixon . He photographed his wife and her three sisters every year for forty years. I think that is so brilliant. It was a nice surprise to find some of the project here. 

I was captivated by this photo by Sally Mann. Many of her photos are of her four children. 

 On my way out I stumbled across this statue, which moved me greatly. I think perhaps it is the exhausted but attentive look on the mother's face as her child is slowly discovering more about him/herself. I guess that I strongly related to it. 

Apart from the mother's experience I was touched by the child's wonderment at his/her hands. Child development is something that I find fascinating and is ultimately my chosen career, but I also find the child's vulnerability here very emotive. 

After the museum I was happy to meander around for a bit. This is a luxury that I rarely have these days. I love walking around cities and will generally walk for miles before I consider taking any form of transport. Having said that I do have a lot of affection for London Underground. I have fond memories of South Kensington station because I used to work in a nursing home near here when I was only 19. I used to grab breakfast, a rubbish croissant,  on my way to early shifts which started at 7am. 

One of the best things about wandering around cities is that you stumble across treasures that you never knew existed. I love the art deco style of this building. 

I wanted to drop into Harrods today, as you do! When I was 16 years old, and hoping and wishing that I could move to London, I imagined walking past Harrods in the snow at Christmas time. Over the course of the 20 odd years that I have been here, I think that I walked past at Christmas time once... and it wasn't snowing. It was still lovely though. I don't go to Harrods very often because it is way of the beaten track and it is totally bonkers in there. If I am honest it is a rather crass display of wealth. There was something that I wanted to check out though... 

I enjoyed the food emporium very much. The displays are lovely and I do quite like looking at food. 

I bypassed all of the fancy schmancy jewellery,  handbags, perfume and clothes. Those things don't interest me much. No, today was about following my heart and personal interests. So I made a beeline for Toy Kingdom. 

They have a fantastic soft toy display. It is a little pricy though... 

This bear?... £2,499. Ouch!

This giraffe? .... £3,299. Why yes thank you! I'll take two please. Who buys this stuff?

I did like this cute little Paddington though. 

And I bumped into a little friend. 

Harrod's Toy Kingdom makes me wish that I was a little girl again. I would have died at the sight of these beautiful dresses. Having said that, Harrod's Toy Kingdom is no place for small children. I saw a lot of pouty little kids. In fact, we made the mistake of bringing ours a few months ago. Never again!

These magical rocking horses would have made me pout A LOT as a little girl. They still do actually. I want them both. These horses are custom made and don't even have a price on them. I will just have to accept that I will never ever have one. Pout!

This is what I came to see. Tonner Sindy dolls. They were made earlier this year to celebrate Sindy's 60th anniversary. Sindy was my favourite doll as a child and was the doll that tempted me back into doll collecting as an adult. I am smitten with her sweet little face. I have seen lots of photos of these dolls online but I have never seen one in person, until today. The dolls themselves didn't disappoint but I was not so impressed with how they were displayed. Look at the unladylike pose on the beach girl. Honestly! These two girls have secured their places right at the top of my wish list. 

The bride didn't do much for me, which is lucky because she is the most expensive. 

Here are a few more dolls that tickled my fancy. Wilde Imagination Patience doll. 

Madame Alexander Punk Alice in Wonderland. PUNK Alice in Wonderland. I love it.

Vintage style Barbie doll. 

Scarlett O'Hara Barbie doll. Oh yes please!

There were lots more magical dolls to see. I enjoy going there because I get to see lots of the dolls that I read reviews for but aren't for sale in regular shops. 

It was time to re-enter the real world and start the journey home. I had a bit more zipping around on the tube before taking the train home. I do love the tube. I find all of the people and the posters so interesting. I find my mind racing with fresh ideas and stories when I scurry around the tunnels and ride on the trains. I fell so proud of myself when I can figure out routes without using a map. It is so wonderfully stimulating... until it is too stimulating and I just want to be home again. 

It was a truly amazing day. I loved feeling just like "me" again. The kids and my husband had an equally fun day together and everyone finished the day happy and fulfilled.