Joan Collins
Joan Collins

Whether you love her or loathe her, you’ve got to hand it to Joan Collins; she’s one of life’s perennials.

No matter what life has thrown at her, she’s grabbed it in her perfectly manicured hands and thrown it right back with a toss of the head and a pithy quip. When someone dared to ask her if it was a problem that her current husband is much younger than her she sardonically replied, ’No darling, if he dies, he dies!’ What a gal!

La Collins gave a recent magazine interview talking about her eventful life. She’s suffered her share of hardships including several divorces, losing her father to Alzheimer’s and being the breadwinner in her relationships.

I contacted her when I was putting my charity book for Alzheimer’s together (cue unashamed plug: ‘They Can’t Take that away from Me’ published by Accent Press, all royalties go to the Alzheimer‘s Society) for a memory contribution to the book. She replied with a beautifully handwritten note on gorgeous paper, embossed with her name at the top.

Her handwriting was as glamorous as she is, looping theatrically across the page, everything about the woman screams femininity and pizzaz, yet it is mixed with an impressive strength that I could almost feel radiating from her note in my hands. She is now 80 years old, when asked what her coping strategy for life is she claims; you’ve got to eat life and not let life eat you. The most important thing is to not get sick.

She says taking time out for yourself is of the utmost importance, that an individual is like a bank, if you take too much money out, you go broke and it’s the same with a person. She’s right!

Having some ‘me time’ is something that many women find almost impossible to do. It’s not that they can’t find a few restful moments but that they feel guilty spending time on themselves. Yet time out is incredibly important to our physical and mental wellbeing.

For many years I hurtled through life as a carer to my mother who had Alzheimer’s. Her illness became the centre of my universe, I fulfilled her every need immediately, eventually this took its toll resulting in me developing panic attacks and crippling agoraphobia.

When mum died, I married, became a mother then became a carer to my father with Alzheimer’s and again I saw to everyone’s needs unquestioningly, overlooking my own, until I collapsed in a heap on the floor and my father had to be taken into respite care. I lost my father in June.

When you take on the mantel of being all things to all people, others step back and soon let the willing horse do all the work (and a worn out horse usually ends up in the knackers 

The unfortunate truth is that many women don’t feel worthy of being put on their own list of priorities. Instead of putting their feet up to recharge their batteries, they will tackle a mountain of ironing instead.

These days, after the morning school run, I make a cup of tea, sit in the silence of the house and simply look at the sky. I find peace in stillness. Solitude is the holiday of the soul; we need to incorporate little islands of peacefulness into our day to help us cope with our work/life/family pressures.

Women demand so much from themselves in this fast-paced world, but the harder we push ourselves, the more time we need to replenish ourselves. I see women around me coping with incredibly difficult situations. Single mothers trying to be both parents to their children. One lady I know recently lost her husband, he was only in his thirties, and she now finds herself alone raising their two children. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she is in the midst of a health scare and currently faces a barrage of hospital tests to find out what is wrong with her. She is trying to take it all in her stride. I asked her how she’s coping. She said she’s trying to keep calm and carry on but is grabbing pockets of me time to simply spend meditating in prayer. She too finds strength in 

‘‘God won’t give me what I can’t handle,’’ she smiled. Thinking of what she’s been though so far, I couldn’t help but remember the words of Mother Theresa who said: ‘‘I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.’’

No doubt many readers will identify with this. Remember the importance of being good to yourself, if you don’t have plans for your time someone else will!