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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 21 May 2012

Precious time; precious people.

There`s nothing like a `health scare` to make you really appreciate the time you have, and how you spend it.

And because mine was exactly a year ago this week, I`ve been thinking hard about what would have happened if the outcome of my operation had been different. If the high grade but still pre cancerous area they found...had been more advanced. If it hadn`t been so easy to `zap it` with three weeks of radiotherapy.

People get bad news about cancer every day. News that can knock them for six; make them re-evaluate what, and who, is important to them.It`s happened to plenty of my loved ones and I was pretty damn sure it was happening to me this time last year.

And so today I`ve been reflecting on that. Taking my time.Choosing who to spend that time with, and how.

Family`s a good place to start.Our eldest daughter`s finished her university finals, and so last week we decided to spend time together in a little French cottage in the Normandy countryside. Reading, shopping, cooking...eating... OK, we threw in a day trip to Paris but there were plenty of opportunities even there to stop and watch the world go by. We avoided the sights, the big glitzy stores and the museums and galleries and pottered round the Latin quarter, and its smaller, independent shops. It was like a colourful but quiet oasis, offering us respite while the rest of the buzzing, throbbing city carried on in the fast lane, just blocks away.

Sometimes it`s just the simple stuff which can make your time with someone feel really precious. Just days before at the cottage, we`d decided on a recipe, and scoured the market stalls in a place called Conde Sur Noireau, to find vegetables we`d need to cook our meal that night.

The food cost just pennies, but the pleasure we got, taking our time to select our produce and hold brief conversations in French with the market traders, was immense.

Today was another gem. A simple lunch out with a former colleague; who`s become a friend. A fantastic couple of hours catching up on news we`d missed. Precious time. And another reminder that it`s not just time, but people who are precious.

In my extended family, there`s a band of 20 first cousins who, if put in a room together right now, would be a party all by themselves. Funny, loving, lovely and there for each other. And now the next generation of cousins are proving to be just as much fun. You can`t choose your family...but this is the one I`d choose.

Like the friend I met today, if I don`t see them for months, or even years, you can just pick up the pieces. People like that shine on your life like diamonds; offering you genuine friendship and above all, loyalty. Others might attract you...shimmer a little....draw you forward...but you find they`re fake; not what they seem and they end up, like the words of the song `just somebody that I used to know`. Sometimes it takes years to work out who you really shouldn`t waste your time on.

So that`s my conclusion on this contemplative day. If there`s someone in your life who you know, in your heart of hearts, would race you to the lifeboat, rather than help you into it...don`t waste your time on them.

But if there`s someone who sticks by your side and makes you smile, and will be there for you come rain or shine; treasure them.

Here endeth the thoughtful stuff.

Oh...and back in that Normandy`s our fab tea that Juliet cooked in that cottage in Normandy. She`s quite a diamond actually....

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