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SkegVegas: people need to stop talking trash!

It was early.  All was still apart from the gentle lull of the tide reaching in and out.  Although warm for the early hour, a slight breeze was fanning my sweaty body five miles into my run.  The burning ball of sun poured molten gold into the ocean of blue.  An expanse of richness shimmered majestically on the horizon.  It was six am and as my Nikes pounded the sea wall, I thought I could be anywhere in the world: Malibu, Bondi, St Tropez, Skegness…the windmills on the horizon, definitely Skegness.

The above might read like the opening of some trashy novel, but it’s my trashy novel – it’s my trashy Skegness.  Skegvegas.  The once jewel of the east coast.  A little seaside town at the end of the line, of nowhere, where millions have flocked to for over 150 years.  Where many a memory has been made.  Where it’s clean air, flat promenade, amusements, and multitude of chippies, have enticed holiday makers, day trippers and retirees from all across Yorkshire and the Midlands.  A family favourite.  A place some have always dreamed to retire to: the quiet pace of life; living by the sea.  

Only, some people don’t agree.  Some people think my town is a shite-hole.  Think that it’s acceptable to say our sea is a toilet, that it’s scruffy and that it’s a dump.

 “Once thought of as quaint seaside town in northern England, Skegness is now a pile of dirt bordering the North Sea with a run-down amusement park idly resting on the land.”

Firstly, for those of you who don’t really know me, I’m not really a person who would be happy living in ‘a pile of dirt’.  So let’s unpick that first.  ‘A pile of dirt’ suggests Skegness is a giant dump site.  This is an insult, not to me and my fellow Skegnessians, but to unfortunate people who are forced to live in some countries in dangerous snd unsanitary conditions.  Countries like Mexico, Laos and the Philippines, where children are forced to hunt for food in amongst toxic chemicals and broken glass.  Where orphans are forced to live off the land and make shelters out of rubbish – the only place they can call home.  

Now, although I’m not blind to the fact there is rubbish in our streets (even I can see and smell the overflowing bins), I know two things: 

1. I pay council tax which pays our streets up he cleaned (I even see the trucks coming s as no going from the beachside depot on my morning walk, or run).  Therefore, it’s not it cannot be described as a ‘pile of dirt’.  

2. That the major rubbish is from the type of people who lack social manners or grace to use a bin.  The type of person – I have witnessed – who would come during Covid and not bother to put their chip wrappings in the bin and let their children poo on the beach.  Therefore, if my town is a ‘pile of dirt’ then maybe people need to start paying it some respect.

And this brings me to my second point.  Living in a seaside town; an area of social deprivation; is both enjoyable and depressing at the same time.  It’s glorious living here at times.  To be able to finish work and walk along the beach – any time of the year.  To be able to spend weekends in a space that many will drive hundred miles to have fish and chips on the sea wall and drive home again: a smile on their faces, a sense of a spring in their step.  Skegness: a sanctuary.  But like most things in life, we tend to look at things with rose tinted glasses (it’s easy to on a sunny bank holiday).  We don’t try to dwell on those winter months when it doesn’t get really light (a nightmare for a blind person).  Where the arctic wind cuts across the sands and Skegness truly lives up to its name ‘bracing’.  And where the town’s poverty is laid bare as there’s no work; no money: and where the food bank is stretched and desperate for donations.   It can be a bit grim.  

But, let me draw you to the why?  Skegness offers a piece of nostalgia.  It has a sense of good old-fashioned fun where that so called ‘run-down amusement park idly resting on the land’ is seen as a Mecca for Joe Public to escape to.  A haven of thrills.  And as for ‘run-down’ – hugely inaccurate and hugely unfair.

This latest press coverage is dangerous.  Both for our local businesses and residents.  In a town where our council fail to reinvest in our community and make us more attractive for tourists, it falls to our local businesses to keep reinvesting, to keep building.

However, the biggest issue with me is the detrimental impact this careless journalism has on the younger community in our town.  Friday’s Daily Mirror headline of ‘Brits slam seaside town’s ‘dirty streets and brown sea’ and urge tourists to ‘run away’. Is both inaccurate and damaging.  When this came up on my phone on Friday afternoon, I discussed it with my class.  Who, I am proud to say, discussed it maturely and with objectivity.  The overwhelming feeling of ‘Skegness is crap at times, but it’s our town and they have no idea’.  They laughed at the ‘dirty streets’ – that’s the visitors.  They argued about the ‘brown sea’ – it’s the mud flats.  They saw the ridiculousness in people running away ‘200,000 tourists and thousands of caravans says not.  Proud as I was of their defending of their town, it doesn’t take away the fact that they are well aware of Skegness’s downfalls, but they also understand loyalty.  

To grow up and to try and build a life here is hard enough without the snobs, critics and arrogant of our society.  When I found out that I was one day going to lose my sight I panicked.  I longed to live my life to the maximum.  I vowed to travel; see and do things that I could recall in vivid colour when I could not see anymore.  I longed for life – not in Skegness,  But life has a funny way of working out.  To some extent I have.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve plenty to still do.  There’s so much I still want to see and do, but, against all odds I’ve raised a family, built a career and had some brilliant experiences – all whilst living in a small seaside town.  But although staying in Skegness was never part of the plan; I wanted the Malibu beach house (still do) but life, circumstances and good old-fashioned loyalty have kept me firmly rooted in the town I’ve grown up in.  Sure I’ve been away, lived elsewhere and at times wanted to leave, but something more than family has kept me here – I am lucky enough to have a beach.  

Skegness might be a little tough around the edges.  It might need some investment.  But, and this is the thing, thousands visit us every year for the sea, sand and a big bag of doughnuts.  We might be tacky, but isn’t that the appeal?  Who wants to pay through the nose for a seafood cocktail in some overpriced pub on the Cornish coast when you can sit on the prom with the bracing air and a tray of cockles, mussels and a crab stick for a fiver?  Up here on the east coast people are real.  We are friendly, accommodating and understand the value of our visitors.  

Most days, when I watch the sunrise over the sea, take RosieDog for a walk across the dunes and can hear the sound crashing in my back garden, I feel so incredibly lucky.  And I know I am.  When I mention where I live, that I go on the beach most days, people are often envious and hold Skegness in high esteem.  Memories of fish and chips Sundays and being sick on the waltzers are often shared.  These are the people who should be speaking out.  These are the people whose opinions count.  These are the people who know the beauty of our little seaside town.  And, if you’ve read the shitty publicity and think we really are as bad a holiday destination at Syria, then my advice would be to listen to our many admirers.  Come visit and see for yourself!

Skegness is my trashy novel.  It’s my life.  Like anything it has its ups and downs, but there are worse places…Everyday my heart lifts when I see the beauty around me, I’m sure it would be a tonic for you too!

The following articles were used:

I Come With A Disclosure

Before I begin, it is worth noting that I have whole days, sometimes simultaneously, where I just float through the motions.  Live on autopilot and lack acknowledgement of my RP.  And when I say ‘lack acknowledgement’ it’s not that I’m denial, more that I’m just ‘getting on with it’.  Which, you might know – those of you who observe the car crash that I am (because that’s how I often feel, that I’m watched like a car crash) – I do it in my own way.  

At times, these ways make me self conscious.  Other times, I do it unknowingly; a series of unconscious mechanisms that I have just developed through time.  It’s  during these times I don’t care, so used I am to being adaptable.  However, whatever and whenever…whether I consciously or unconsciously do any of these things, it leads me into periods of extreme exhaustion, paranoia and worry.  And I can guess, whatever somebody thinks about my capabilities. I’m thinking I’m ten times worse!

This said, I do realise I have to pack away any negativity and embrace my inner strength and tenacity.  The simple fact that I manage to well, manage, a daily life, is something more than some can do.  I’m lucky, I’m still functioning and it’s down to the way I’ve learnt to deal with ‘the daily struggle that is sight loss’.  Below, is a list of things I actively encounter daily and, this is the important bit fact fans, how I try to overcome them.  So, strap yourself in and enjoy learning about my distorted world.  

NB this is about things I have learnt to manage.  Therefore, there’s no mention of yellow wet floor signs.  Until they are fitted with audio sensors, they’ll always be my nemesis.

I Am Not A Robot

Being able to shop and work online enables a partially sighted person to live a broader life.  We can shop on our own.  We don’t have to worry about getting to and from the shops.  Plus, we can adapt many apps and sites (more on that later) meaning we can navigate our way through the computer highway, like a seasoned shopper in a mall.  However, the process of setting up accounts, passwords and particularly proving I’m human, can be headache inducing and stressful.  Finding ‘all the traffic lights’ or ‘stairways’, wouldn’t be possible for me in the real world (my blind spots would mean I could miss one) but faced with tony squares and grainy images, I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall.  The optimistic person in me means I try and fail, only to produce another grid with smaller squares.  Frustrating…so how do I cope? In these cases, I ask one of my trusty aides.  

People I know

People are always an issue.  Whether they hang about in my blind spots, or expect me to recognise them, what they need to understand is that it’s not them it’s me!  However, here’s some pointers.  Tell me you’re there.  Then I find you and I plot it into my spacial awareness (maybe I am a robot).  And secondly, tell me who you are.  Faces aren’t always an issue, but distance and tiredness sometimes means I need a little help.  Just like when you feel a bit poorly, or are having a bad day, checking in always helps.

People I Don’t Know

These are the ones that can be forgiven for the car crash face.  They don’t know me and have no idea that I manage to function on a daily basis.  Instead, they can be forgiven for thinking I’m rude, stupid, drunk and ignorant.  They say first impressions count don’t they? My chaotic entry certainly leaves on impression.  And for years I’d silently berate and punish myself in an embarrassed hole.  Metaphorically turning myself into a tiny ball.  Now?  Well, they get what they see.  I’m kind, (too) talkative (I’m known for TMI) and friendly.  Pretty soon I’ve either bulldozed them into interacting with me, or sent them running for the hills.  By then it’s got nothing to do with my blindness, it’s to do with my marmite personality.

The Dark

Winter, nighttime, nights out and dimly lit restaurants can all be a challenge.  My sight struggles to adjust to night vision and as a consequence, I am immersed into another world.  This, I think, is my most challenging hurdle.  To have – what is effectively- my arms and legs cut off, leaves me feeling trapped.  It can be isolating and leave me feeling vulnerable.  However, years of adjustment have meant that I’ve learnt to find ways to manage.  A well trained guide (Moth is great(, or a mapped out area.  But the best thing to happen to me is the iPhone – a camera, a torch and google all in one?  It’s like the Kinder Egg of the electronic world…

Black Text on White

…and speaking of my Kinder Egg of a phone, thank goodness for ‘Smart Invert’.  What the Jesus did I go before I could convert everything?  In fact, once I’d discovered the accessibility of an iPhone, I learnt about the ‘Seeing AI’ app, which, I’d argue, is not just for blind people.  Do you wear glasses? Fed up with eye strain?  Feel tired?  Dyslexic?  Well, Seeing AI, is bloody brilliant.  It reads labels, documents and even handwriting – to name a few of its functions.  On a bad day, I scan in whatever I want reading and it reads it back to me.  Genius!  It’s the thing I once dreamt about and I use it every day.


Seeing AI can read colours to me, but that doesn’t help when shades of grey, green and brown merge into one.  Walking down the street can be a challenge at times.  Lampposts have to be mapped.  As do kerbs and pathways…For about four years now I have struggled with some colour palettes.  This was once a nightmare to me.  When I first learnt I would one day be blind, i panicked that I would end up wearing mismatched clothes of varying colours and patterns.  That my ‘hidden disability’ would be for all to see when I paraded down the high street in the lime green leopard print shirt and brown floral trousers.  Thankfully, between my phone and my crew, I am usually well dressed and bruises are at a minimum.  Any mistakes – fashion or injury wise, are entirely my own.

A Changing Landscape 

I map familiar places.  I make sure I know where things are and how to avoid hazards.  It’s not foolproof but it helps my day go smoother.  Therefore, imagine how hard it is for me when people decide to change things!  Whether it’s moving the bin, not putting away things (I’m a clean freak), or living in chaos, I just can’t cope.  Blindness, and finding ways to live a normal life’ has made me organised.  But the fact I can’t control everything I map is difficult.  

Christmas Merchandising

Well…it’s the worst.  I mean, i know they want to maximise sales but I don’t care! There are only three shops I really go in and feel comfortable in.  They think their remerchandising  is so clever.  But don’t they realise why the blind girl is lapping their store?  Luckily, most staff are very helpful (that’s why I shop there and not the busy cattle markets even though they are supposedly cheaper).  

Although, note to M&S: moving my gluten free quiche and falafel is not a clever move even if it means you can put more turkey gravy and smoked salmon out.  


But no matter how much i plot, plan and adapt, travel is probably the most daunting thing I attempt.  Trains, planes and automobiles – I’m at their mercy.  Always on other’s time and having to rely on others.  For somebody so proud and independent, I find it difficult to accept help.  Recently, however, I bit the bullet and had disabled access in Manchester Airport.  When I arrived I went to an accessibility point and they gave me a lanyard.  It meant t was given access to the ‘Assisted Travel’ lane and was fast tracked into departures.  A God send when crowded airports and the drama of all the red-tape that comes with it, can send somebody like me into a spin – no matter how much of a seasoned traveller I may be.  

Above is only a snapshot of things I have to plan and adapt for.  My head sometimes aches with it all and like I said previously, it can make me very tired.  I am a mum of three; I have a gorgeous doggie who takes up at least an hour of my daily life; I work full-time in a very demanding job; I write, read and find time to socialise…all of which need navigating.  But I am damned if I’m going to give up.  I’m alive and as long as I’m breathing I’ll fight for living the best life I can.  

My disclaimer:  I might get grumpy, tired and sometimes cross, but I’m not dead yet and will never give up.  Like I always say ‘let’s be kind’ and the world will spin a bit more happily.

Seeing AI:

Manchester Airport Assisted Travel details:

Sight-loss is my Superpower

When you gradually lose your sight, you literally don’t see it coming.  Like the way dusk creeps around day; wrapping itself around stealthily; filling the corners, before infiltrating the periphery; total darkness.  It was light once and now dark.  And although my central vision is okay, it might be that one day it isn’t.  

Only you know how blind you are.  Nobody knows and truly understands what you can see and by extension, what you can do.  This means that the words ‘partially sighted’, ‘severely sighted’ and ‘blind’ mean a lot of people second guess you and write you off.

This is both soul destroying and difficult to navigate, in an already blurred world!  But, as you lose your sight, your confidence ebbs away and it leaves you wondering if people are right?  Should you let them right you off?

Not bloody likely!

The blind community, as well as most people living with disability and hidden illnesses, are bright and resilient.  We work really to hard to continue to live the best lives possible. We don’t think about our limitations, but rather find ways to broaden our horizons (no mean feat for somebody with peripheral vision!).  We want to experience life, be successful, and look good too!  But, behind that determination and vigour we are faced with ignorance within the world.  A world where people want to write you off and make you feel like a nuisance or burden.  Which, on a wonky day, you feel you could quite easily subscribe to and quietly crawl away from your fight…

Luckily, the last few years of my journey have taught me many things.  They’ve taught me that I’m a good person.  That I’m resilient and worth more than I ever believed.  I’ve grown in voice to articulate my ‘issues’ without feeling ashamed.  

Sadly, I didn’t feel that way five years ago.  I was dying inside and allowed negativity to breed in and around me.  But, like I said, ‘luckily…’

What has made the difference?

  1. I’m learning that it’s okay to have a voice.  To say ‘no’ and ‘wait up!’ and of course ‘I need this adapting’.  I’ve also learnt that having a voice can make others uncomfortable and challenges their preconceptions – how great is that?  Showing the world the blind community kick-ass.  
  2. I work incredibly hard to plan everything I do.  I can’t manage surprises very well (unless they are of the ‘im whisking you away to New York variety, which although would be tricky – I’d many some how!), so I write lists (on my inverted screen on my phone), plan each day, week, month to make sure my stress levels are kept low and my life calm.  In fact, my logistics are so on point, I think I could run Ukraine’s military defence.
  3. I’m kind to myself.  I used to be such a martyr and a worrier.  And although I’ve ditched the former, the latter creeps in during times of tiredness and stress.  However, being kind means I look after my mind and body because I’m worth it.  To say that to myself a few years ago would have had me running for the hills.  I’d see it as selfish.  But now?  I know that by looking after me, my family, friends, colleagues and students, get a better deal.  
  4. It’s okay to make mistakes.  Everybody struggles to say ‘well done’ and ‘you’re doing great’, but they are happy to say ‘you’ve made a mistake’. Rude feckers.  I think it’s because it makes others feel better about themselves – especially those with an ego or competitive gene.  However, my mistakes are because I’ve missed something, not because I’m stupid.  I felt stupid for a long time, but to work full time in a pressurised job, with low vision means my brains not dead yet.  
  5. Finally, I surround myself with good people.  They bring sunshine into your life and warmth to your soul.  Everything is possible when your wrapped in love.  And I am truly humbled and grateful for everyone of you.  

For many years, Living with sight-loss made me live in a perpetual state of panic.  I allowed others to make me feel shame and inadequate.  My determination not to let it define me meant that I ran from it until it crept up and got worse without me knowing.  

Four years ago, I was having a breakdown and had no idea why? I was clueless.  I honestly never realised how living constantly on the edge had tipped me over it!  I had no idea my sight had got so bad – seriously!  But now, in my calmer and freer world, I see that woman and my heart feels heavy for her.  She’d have never thought to ask for help, to take time for herself – see didn’t feel she was worth it.  

Yes, I still have hurdles to overcome.  I have many issues and situations to navigate, but I’m not afraid of the dark any more.  Being blind is my superpower and there’s a lot more to come.  

Dubai Heights, Arabian Sights

During the last week of term I taught Shelley’s Ozymandias.  The self styled ‘King of Kings’, who ruled over ancient Egypt, thought himself so powerful and important that he had an eighty-three ton status made of him in the desert.  ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!’.  His legacy was meant to be worshipped and admired, but this ancient monument was found over three thousand years later in six huge pieces.  All around him was an empty desert.  

As you can imagine, this caused quite the discussion amongst the fifteen year olds.  Our Gen Z representatives, who are exposed to more news and social issues than ever before, are always interested in the abuse of power; human rights and knowing right from wrong.  TikTok, Instagram and the power of Google mean, without knowing it, they are becoming more socially aware than previous generations.  With the freedom and platforms to orate on, it is evident that our future leaders have a breadth of social conscience that exceeds their elders.  Therefore, Ozymandias appeared to them to be a deluded tyrant.  They likened him to Putin, stating that ‘once he’s dead they’ll be nothing but destruction – what’s the point Miss?’


And then they asked me what I was doing over half term…and I explained that I was going to visit my family in Dubai, which caused a frenzy of excitement and questioning regarding ‘Lambos’, ‘tall buildings’ and the show ‘Dubai Bling’.  So, off I went with a list of questions they inevitably wanted answering.  

Dubai.  What can I say about this sprawling metropolis which isn’t orated to you over the eight hours of in-flight entertainment (I switched channels and watched multiple films instead)?  This engineering masterpiece, which stands tall and proud in the Arabian desert, is totally unapologetic for its sheer bloody mindedness.  Dubai is the King of Kings of cities.  Grown from sand, the city is truly a monument to what ‘man’ can achieve.  

The best gift we can leave behind for future generations is teaching them to have the courage to venture where no one has dared to go before; to reach new heights that no one has thought of before.”  — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

And he’s certainly achieved it.  His legacy is bold and brave.  It defies the rule book and takes you a step beyond what you ever thought possible.  Dubai is indeed built on courage and determination. The Fifth Element world which, like Bruce Willis demonstrated in this 1990s cult film, will have flying taxis within the next three years.  It is a billionaire’s playground; an adult Disney World, where you can go to do your food shopping at the mall and have a go on a rollercoaster at the same time.   

But as I explored it’s riches, I had to ask: what is the cost?

Obviously, the financial cost is billions.  Money is clearly no object and the place drips it.  Being brought up that ‘talking about money is vulgar’ this ostentatious show of wealth is both unsettling and rather challenging.  We flew a few days after the Turkish/Syrian earthquake and the disparity of situations bothered me a great deal.  I wanted to know if, with all their wealth, if they had a social conscience?  

Speaking to my daughter, it transpired that some of her colleagues had been directly affected.  One friend of hers has a family member who had lost their legs when their house collapsed on them.  Living in Dubai meant they could send relief home and help their loved ones – to places already experiencing poverty before the natural disaster.  Others come from places where bread and baby milk is too expensive to buy.  Dubai has been a lifeline, not just to them, but their families too.  But, as well paid as my daughter and her colleagues are, they are only successful as they work incredibly hard to keep the Dubai machine going – they are the worker bees helping make the honey.  

Dubai appears spotless.  It’s beautiful and calming in the fact that everywhere you go there’s nothing dirty, broken, or ugly spoiling the landscape.  To the point that even the public toilets are a pleasant experience.  Everything is stress free.  Everything is perfect.  But as we know, there’s no such thing – Looking closely: the face of Dubai is a mask.  

Where all cities endeavour to be progressive and innovative, we are all acutely aware of social and economic issues surrounding their built environment.  London has areas of deprivation, homelessness, high crime rates and is heavily polluted.  However, community programmes, charity, shelters, and environmental initiatives all create inroads into finding solutions.  In fact, the same can be said for many cities.  Driving through Sheffield yesterday we were alerted to the fact they too are going to start charging emission charges.  But Dubai appears to buck the trend; goes against everything you’ve ever thought possible and challenges expectations – you almost feel like we’ve a got if wrong.  But, the irony is, it’s all hidden.

The tiny cogs in the well oiled machine are poorly paid.  They live in relative poverty, hidden amongst the skyscrapers they help maintain.  Street cleaners, maids and even nannies, come from places like the Philippines with the hope of  earning enough money to support their families back home.  But when they are paid the equivalent of what is costs to buy a meal out, are they just examples of modern slavery?

Additionally, when you look at the iconic skyline, there is mostly a cloud of ‘dust’ (as they call it) which permeates the entire landscape.  This ‘dust from the desert’ can stop the breathtaking views from the Burj Khalifa, putting a stop to watching the super cars move like ants along the six lane highways.  Or the yachts cruising down The Palm fronds which stretch out into the Arabian Gulf.  And the buildings, which look like Lego when you look at them from two thousand feet…it’s easy to blame the desert and the power of nature when you control it (they make it rain).  But what if the ‘dust’ is a development of smog?  Carbon emissions don’t seem to register on their radar and judging by the colour of the sea – when I dove into it – neither does water pollution.  And f do not get me started on the giant landfill which is ,the Arabian Desert’ …

Ozymandias certainly believed himself to be a King of Kings.  Of this I have no real evidence.  However, it is believed he was cruel and arrogant – his legacy was almost certainly built by slaves.  Dubai, in comparison, certainly does deserve the title King of kings.  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has undoubtedly achieved his dream and created a legacy that generates billions and leads the way in innovation and prosperity.  His dream is to be admired and enjoyed.  But, as the old song goes ‘A wise man built his house upon the rocks’, Dubai built itself defiantly on compacted sand.  It’s sinking and so much so that their ‘Millennium Wheel’ copy isn’t safe enough to go on.  You have to wonder how long these ‘Mighty works’ can be looked upon?  Will the legacy end up in pieces?  As Shelley wrote ‘Nothing beside remains. Round the decay. Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare.’  Or, in the modern and futuristic world of flying taxis, weather and tidal control; plus, speedboat super cars (this I did see), will they, as my daughter’s partner tell me ‘they’ll just rebuild’?

I’ve been lucky enough to see ancient wonders, Venetian cities and breathtaking landscapes, in my life.  All with their own, maybe shocking, often innovative histories.  They were all a product of global change.  And they are all valued and protected – all loved by their custodians.  Dubai is no different.  Maybe, in three thousand years time, from a galaxy far far away, some beings will visit and discover what remains.  

Dubai is loud, unapologetic in its wealth and expensive (I will be spending the next few months not spending!).  But, it’s a must see.  An education and an experience.  I got lucky when I visited the Burj, enjoyed a dune buggy ride across the desert and sailed around The Palm.  However, for me, the best part was spending time with my family.  I’ll go back next year and probably do the same again.  And just like my grandson will have grown and changed, so will have Dubai.  

Inner Star

Thursday morning.  Groggy post-op, I was sitting on the Bakerloo line, eye patch, sunglasses, mask – all firmly in place.  My ‘look’ above neck, gave Stevie Wonder a run for his money.  The ‘look’ below neck was something akin to (according to Him) ‘a kid from fame’.  Vibrant skirt, vest top, denim jacket and gold ballet pumps were my way to pull the eye away from the face.  However, I’m not entirely sure that anyone other than Him could spot my inner dancer, inner star.

What’s inside of us all is very different to what people see.  I’ve banged on about perception a great deal.  How we present ourselves; how others see us; how much is real?  Be honest, how many of you dress to present a certain view of yourself to the world?  How many personas have you created?  

We tend to present ourselves as a way of dealing with the outside world.  We choose a range of ways to assault the senses (whether consciously or unconsciously) to gain an acceptance within the society we live within.  But, going back to the original question: what about my inner star?

Now, confidence has eluded me for most of my life.  People might not realise I live in a pretty constant haze of self-doubt, paranoia and worry.  Frustrating as this is, it doesn’t stop me propelling myself into scary situations (with sweaty palms, sickness and chest pains) to gain the results I require.  I have tricks – not the magical kind – not the deceitful kind – but tricks which I use to make the world feel like a less dangerous place.

So back to the Bakerloo line.

I’d been in London for a few days.  It was the finale of a seven week drama; preceded by a global pandemic, a botched operation (later put right) and tears of living with a degenerative eye disease.  A week which took me out of my comfort zone and scared the shite out of me.  But first the drama…

Living with sight loss means my other senses are heightened.  I rely upon them to enable me to do tasks some might take for granted.  For example: when I cook I use my hearing to know when something is cooking.  I might hear a sizzle.  I might hear water boiling.  Then there’s my taste.  I taste and season to yell when things are cooked.  I smell to know the depth of flavour.  And I touch with my asbestos hands…all crucial when you can’t see properly. Moreover, I’m known for my supersonic senses.  I can smell things a mile off.  Often called upon to identify snd clarify situations (can you smell burning/shite/drugs?) I’m a sniffer dog.  It makes me feel empowered that I can.  That my crappy body can do something well.  

Crappy body? Well yes.  Covid has been awful.  Two vaccinations and (in hindsight) I was weakened by them (I’d do it again though). My immune system, which is negligible, at the best of times, couldn’t do it.  Flailing since the beginning of May, I seemed to be constantly ill.  Cold, sore throat, sickness, lethargy, headaches, cold sores, and being mentally drained, I appeared to be running on empty.  So was it any surprise I actually caught the bloody coronavirus!  And not just mildly, but in a way which has left me with ‘long covid’ symptoms.  Symptoms which ironically seem to hang around like a bad smell.  And so what? You might say.  Millions have and are in the same situation.  It’s crap and it’s not what we ordered.  The past sixteen months have led to this.  

But this is the drama: not the covid itself and not the time it’s taking to recover: it’s all the chaos it causes.  

I’d waited months.  Struggling with a dodgy left eye.  Covid had put the breaks on treatment.  I was super ready for a life changing (not dramatic as anything that enables me to see better is ‘life changing’) surgery.  Covid stopped it.  But then, after that, I had to isolate before hospital.  This meant that I’d been looked away for weeks.  Lonely, bored, and either working (you can work but you can’t play) or being a ‘domestic goddess’ (like that’s my happy place), I feel I’ve spent some of my best time flatlining.  Just existing.  Trying to make every day count has been tough (especially after all the lockdowns…).  I’m all about the journey and this little bird has had her wings clipped.   Life has felt like a cage.

But that’s not all.  As we know, life can give out in spades.  Therefore, not being able to taste snd smell for a month has not helped the situation.  Flowers and candles have never been less comforting.  Well thought out dishes (I do like to cook) can’t be enjoyed.  Life took on a two dimensional quality.  It has lacked colour.  


But back to the Bakerloo.  

The patch, mask, glasses, vibrant skirt…I was struggling.  I was tired.  I was scared what would happen when the patch was removed.  But beneath all that, I was dressed to shimmer.   I wanted to be free.  That’s the person I wanted people to see. 

A while later I was off the underground.  I was sans mask and patch.  I now had glowing skin (lashings of Liz Earle) and a slick of Dior lippy on.  The glasses made me look cool.  There I was sipping an iced coffee outside a trendy London hotel.  My smell had been returning for a while.  My taste too.  I could already see better and life was buzzing around me.  Both images show two different women.  However, inside she is the same.  

This is a very watered down version of my recent dramas.  I’ve not mentioned all the things I’ve learnt.  I’ve not talked about all the people I’ve met.  I’ve not even mentioned all the obstacles I’m still to overcome.  All I’ve done is shared a portion of my story.  But that’s because I get bored of talking about me.  I like to know about others.  I want to know about you!  

So here goes…

I’m looking for people to tell me about themselves for a new project I’m working on.  I want to share real life with real people.  What makes a celebrity so interesting?  Aren’t we all living our own stories?  I love telling stories.  ‘Shallow Lives’ is about there journeys.  ‘The Golden Figure’ is shaping up in the same way (50000 words in).  Both fictitious but both drawn from real life.  And as much as I love weaving fictional worlds, I want to celebrate the real.

Soooooo…watch this space and get ready to share.  


Ten days ago 

After waking up somewhat broken for a number of days, I decided to reframe my brain.  12k later, after a long lost cross-country run, I was reminded why I might still love my life.  Lost in the verdant landscape: snapshots of summer fields, blossoming hedgerows, chalky beach paths, mud flats, brambles, muddy pools…I felt like a lucky girl.  I was an explorer in her own private wilderness.  All on my own little doorstep. 

Today was a good day.  A day to quieten the niggles of anxiety.

Eight days ago

Some days the heavy grey coat is too much.  Yesterday seemed to precursor today’s ominous nature.  

I was quite happily preparing a rather tasty roast dinner when I couldn’t breathe.  Quickening of breath and chest pains: it seemed the coat of worry was back. Something snuck onto my shoulders by the naughty mental health fairy.

So today, the anxiety decided to hover.  I think the constant worry about my oncoming operation might be partly to blame. However, I think the pressures of covid, the past year and a half; the intense feeling of failure of not attaining goals; and all the other rocks which appear to have built a dam around me, have started to give…

Seven days ago 

What she said but worse.

My head is throbbing and I feel so heavy. Stress seems to be the common conscientious.  The pressure seems to be mounting and I feel so afraid.  

Am I at breaking point?

Six days ago

London, as always, was exhausting.  Eerily quiet, we navigated our way around the once packed streets.  I couldn’t see (never for a change)  In fact, I ‘see’ more of the capital in a haze than not…And then they told me I wouldn’t be able to see for quite a while.

Tiredness, frustration and guilt.  I’m desperately grasping for reasons why I’m on this journey.  I feel more lost than did on that long run.

The head is still killing.

Four days ago

I’m full of cold.  Paranoia and the fact that the covid net seems to be closing in, means I’ve done a LFT every day since last Friday.  All negative. I’m really hoping it stays that way too.  As much as I am afraid of this operation.  As much as I’d rather be going to one of the new ‘green countries’ on a fabulous holiday, I do know (in my sane mind) that I have to be sensible.  

The cold also seems to be escalating my misery.  Not only have the chest pains increased, but my skin is breaking out in sores.  I’m a bit of a mess.  Unattractive and miserable – it’s not the best of looks!  Also, quite depressing on the eve-of-that-day-I-hate, beginning with a ‘b’ and ending in a ‘y’.  Another year older snd I feel like a dirty grey dishcloth that’s been used to clean the floor.

Three days ago

Remember that dish cloth?  Well, I think the dog might have got hold of it snd ragged it around a bit.  Misery seems to love company; therefore, my cold has exploded; head pain has increased and the tears keep falling…because everything seems such a mess.

I thought I wouldn’t feel like this by now.  I thought by this ‘another-day-older-day’ I’d not have the worries and insecurities plaguing me like I do…

Two days ago 

Well, the head is exploding.  Emotionally, I feel calmer today. I’m more settled and reflective.  It’s like the calm after the storm.

However, I feel like shite and sneaky covid symptoms have crept up on me. Breathlessness – I took RosieDog for a walk upon the beach snd I found it exhausting.  I also ventured into my garden.  As I can’t see at the moment, I decided to stick my head in a few of my flowers and herbs – nothing! A panic ensued and another test was done.  Negative.  

Devastatingly, my candles, creams, lotions and potions cannot lift these spirits.  I cannot smell.  My mouth tastes like marmite.  

Two days ago 

  • later on…

Little E has two suspicious test results.  She’s got a bad headache and sore throat.  


Strangely I feel quite calm.  Maybe this is actually the eye of the storm?


Fifteen months of living in a bubble.  

Lives on hold.  

Holidays and trips can be counted on one hand (nothing fancy as we haven’t had the luxury of going anywhere we want to go).  

Missed celebrations.  

Months of isolation.  

Days of monotony.  

Hours upon hours of trying to stay positive.  

Hands, face, space.

Being careful.

Mental health negligible.  

Waiting, waiting, waiting to have my left eye made its shiny best.  

Loading with a plethora of vitamins – daily.  Eating better than most people I know.  Choosing to make a quick salad, or omelette instead of the ‘big fat takeaway’.

Daily exercise a must.  

The constant clean, spray, wipe away.  

I’ve tried to be good.  

Two filthy vaccinations, which I loathed to have.

And guess what?  As the government decides that covid isn’t a threat – vaccines work – all my hopes and fears are realised…

Those headaches, fears, little E: it’s here

A Note From a Mother

This week the main theme has been shame.  It started with the year ten poetry, and the ‘shame’ surrounding a pilot who didn’t complete his kamikaze mission.  Then, the shame I felt when I realised I’d forgotten to give out positives to some of my most wonderful students, after they finally returned to my classroom!  Followed by the feeling of shame, then the self-punishment, and purgatory I felt, after eating a family size bag of crisps and drinking a bottle of wine (I had to drink a lot of water and do a lot of dry brushing the morning after) on Friday evening.  And then there were the old feelings of shame came back when I knew I was struggling to read a recipe book – hot on the heels after learning I needed another operation on my eyes.  All such a mood killer.  All so sad it you let it be.

But that’s not the real story.  Nowhere near it.  

Sarah Everard was a beautiful, talented and loved young woman, who had a wonderful life ahead of her.  She was tragically kidnapped and killed, and all she was doing was walking home.  Such a heartbreaking story, but one I, and many others, identified with straight away – she was walking home in the dark and straight away I felt the worry…Dangerous.  

But then you see, I realised that I’d been allowing this worry to dictate my life for too many years.  Leading me to feel utterly ashamed to be a women in the year 2021, and being so accepting of the fact that women can’t safely walk the streets alone.  

I’m ashamed that I’ve let this happen: I’m a woman, a daughter, a mother to three girls…and I have to ask myself: why have I allowed this acceptance to go on for so long?  I’m a fighter and instead, I’ve exercised some passivity towards something so restrictive.

The danger I feel as a women:  all my life this has been an issue.  Not just for me, but for every woman I know.  We feel anxious when we walk somewhere quiet and hear footsteps behind us.  We arm ourselves with keys in our fists,  in case we are ‘jumped’.  We are conscious of the way we dress; where we walk, who we talk to – how many of us have been polite and that person has taken it as something more?  And, as careful as we are, we still aren’t always safe; if not safe, not always trusted.  We build our daughters up to be strong and independent, and in the next breath, we are telling them to be careful, not go out alone, get a taxi.  And what about our sons?  

Recently, whilst publicising my book online, I had many offers of people wanting to review it.  This is a great way to get noticed, to get the word out there, but you need to choose the correct collaborations (I’m so Insta-savvy right now, but that’s a story for another day!).  I looked at accounts, communicated with many reviewers; however, not all were suitable.  Some read fantasy, sci-fi and nonfiction – they just weren’t going to reach my target audience.  When I explained to one reviewer that I didn’t think we could work together, he was upset because he thought I’d declined the deal because he was male.  I was horrified, but at the same time felt some vulnerability – on both sides. 

There is a huge debate here.  How do we all stay safe?  How can we redress the balance without being sexist towards men?  After all, there are many wonderful males out there who feel as anxious as women when walking down that lonely path.  How can they show that they are of no threat?  Rationality and fear fighting for the top spot…and like when in the middle of the night we struggle with the rational, we tend to think the worst in darker moments.  Moments of stress.

My lot were mostly busy today.  I saw them all at some point and did some doorstep deliveries.  I couldn’t see my family in Yorkshire, and no one could go and see nan, as the home has covid again.  It wasn’t the most amazing day, but I felt loved and lucky to have such a beautiful family.  Them all being safe and thoughts of brighter days for us all.  And if I did feel a bit sorry for myself, I thought about those without today.  Those who have recently lost loved ones to covid and other illnesses.  And I thought about Sarah Everard’s mum.  No one should bury their children.  To be cheated of what she would have continued to bring to the lives of those who loved her. 

I recently read that we are in danger of building each other up too much.  The ‘you’ve got this’ can lead to us ‘not having this’ and hiding away crying at our shame of failure.  So, I thought about this.  I thought about all our secret struggles.  I thought about how we tend to live with things we can’t control.  We can’t control human nature – good, or bad.  History books show us that there has always been a distinct battle between the two.  But what we can control is our capacity for compassion.  We can continue to be kind.  We can continue to build each other up by small gestures, making each other laugh, and by holding each other up with love and advice.  Solidarity – whatever your gender – is the key here.  After all, hindsight always shows us that good eventually prevails over evil.  

Whoever, whatever you are, all the love for another week in this crazy scary world.  Keep being kind and let’s stick together for good.  

Dramatics and the Real

Growing up, I watched every soap opera going.  Corrie, Eastenders…plus, all the Aussie ones (Prisoner Cell Block, with Bea on the press being a particular fave).  And then Alexis et al, bitch fighting in their finest shoulder pads and diamonds.  I loved, watched, and obsessed about it all! After all, what else was there to do in the eighties?  No Netflix, internet, and with only a computer which took the entirety of dinner time to load – well, the FOUR channel telly was our friend.

Like the Waltons around the ‘wireless’, we’d sit down as a family, and watch our daily fix of drama – all recorded onto VHS (we ditched the Betamax as you couldn’t hire any good films in it) – and watched them all between our pub opening hours.  

The more ridiculous the storyline the better.  The weirder the character – or funnier even.  And then there were the gorgeous Aussie pinups that we all wanted to date on Summer Bay beach.  Mum, Dad, Nana, and Grandad: it united us all.  We particularly liked a good juicy affair, punch up and cheeky one liner; Dad’s interest being piqued by sayings such as ‘she’s one sandwich short of a picnic’…

But then I grew up and lost my television stamina.  Enjoying doing stuff and being busy.  Although, there was still time for some old favourites – I had a particular fondness for Corrie, with its beautifully written comedy and realistic presentation of Northern life – but then, I found that they were becoming depressing.  Favourite characters would be killed off, given cancer, go through devesrating life changes…my life was dramatic enough.  I switched off.  I could no longer cry real tears for fictional characters.  I needed laughter.

An example being, one of my favourite characters: Jonny in Corrie.  When he first made his appearance on the cobbles, he had a lightness and energy about him.  His relationships with those around him were heart warming and I found him a relatable character.  However, as I watched his character descend into the usual pitfalls of a soap opera life, I turned off the final soap.  

This week, the RNIB and Retina UK both shared the story of Corrie dealing with the storyline of Charles Bonnet Syndrome.  Something which I have suffered with for many years.  A condition, which is said to affect 30% of people living with sight loss.  

CBS is where people suffer hallucinations, due to the brain having to recalibrate as the eye is not able to send the expected information it requires.  These hallucinations can be ‘simple’ in the way that a sufferer might just see patterns like bricks, mosaics etc. (I have these daily).  And more dramatic ones, which are called ‘complicated’.  These are where you can see all sorts of normal to weird and wonderful things (my most recent being a dragon popping over the sand dunes – not the Sue Perkins one may I add!).  

After suffering silently for many years, I was told about CBS, at a sight loss meeting.  Imagine my surprise when I learnt it was normal to see a lady floating, or a bat flying across the room.  All perfectly normal and it didn’t mean I was going slightly mad (a matter of opinion you might say).  

Finding out about CBS enabled me a reboot.  Used to feeling isolated and slightly unhinged, my anxiety levels were always high.  Especially when I couldn’t rely upon what I was seeing 100% of the time.  You see, not only did the fear of missing a handshake, or walking into a table freak me out, so did my worry that I’d talk about something that wasn’t really there…

I googled the storyline.  Jonny has MS, he’s in prison, and he has CBS – which is leading him to hallucinate his dead son Aidan.  

Poor Jonny.  I’m glad I turned off when I did.  It sounds like his life has gone from bad to worse.  

Awareness is everything though, and hats off to Corrie for talking about something which affects 30% of visually impaired people – a third and we know nothing about it.  That’s over 100000 in the UK fact fans!  

Therefore, if you see me twitch or go a funny colour, I might be trying to process something you can’t see…that’s okay though.  There’s lots I can’t see, but there’s lots others don’t understand too. Upshot being: we all need a bit of understanding.

These hallucinations are just an illusion: no voice, no smell, it can’t communicate with me…Over time, I’ve learnt to find it all rather entertaining.  I’m not to worry, freak, or feel silly; I’m just lucky.  Who else gets such a live show?

The soaps might not be my thing anymore, but they have a place.  9 million viewers tell us this…they can make you laugh, cry and tackle lots of issues too.  They are a good platform for showing the masses previously unknown issues.  Meanwhile, whilst Jonny eat al. teach the masses about hidden battles, I’ll be drafting my own drama, with the unfolding story of the Golden Figure…Out later this year.

And if you haven’t already, you can find my debut novel on Amazon:

Be kind

Less Eggs, More Flowers!

My relationship with social media has never been a smooth one.  Instilling fear and sadness; mixed with moments f happiness and achievement – I’ve never found it easy to ‘share my life’ with others.  This might surprise you, after all, I can be accused of being an over-sharer: a blogger who talks about her life.  And you’d be right.  However, as honest as I am, I can be an unreliable narrator.  I tell you my thoughts, some of my experiences, but there’s plenty I don’t.  It’s not because I’m secretive – I’m quite the open book – rather that it’s irrelevant to the conversation.  And sometimes, unbelievably to some of you, I might be out of words!  Therefore, with the release of the book, I’ve had to open myself up to the fear of Facebook and the Twitter.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been crapping myself about the whole thing: the book, people reading it; the feedback, the sharing, the comments – I just can’t cope! I’m in constant fear of offending someone.  I worry that I’ll let the readers down.  I’m now panicking about not having the audiobook ready for the blind and partially sighted community – I promise it’ll be here before the end of February.  And then there is the fact that I’m rather rubbish at working the Facebook et al…

Apology here: if I added you to a messenger ‘room’ (I have no idea what this is and how it happened!) on Thursday evening, then I am extremely sorry.  All I wanted was to send you a begging message!  All I wanted was to start my Friday with a bang! It seems I might have set up some sort of group call on the same scale as Biden’s dual Zoom screens for his signing in!  And, not content with this, I then managed to share the other ‘Lucy Swan’s’ (remember her from last week?) books with my community – asking people to share…

I know, how am I allowed to educate children?

With all this in mind, I started Friday a little jittery.  Him said ‘what do you want to do tonight to celebrate?’ Me: ‘nothing’.  And then, an hour into my daily walk: ‘what I want to do and can do are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS ENTIRELY!’  Instead, I did my make up and went for my weekly outing to M & S, which involved a mini panic attack at the hill.  All because I knew I needed to do the whole social media thing when I got home.  

But worse than the ‘Fear’ and my ineptness, of the world of social media, are my nagging doubts about my book.  

I found writing the book was a real labour of love.  The story, the settings, the characters- it all had to make sense.  Be truthful.  It all had to evoke an emotional response.  Without that, there was no point.  I needed it to take people through a range of emotions.  Like life, it needed to be real.  My characters became part of me; their stories had to be fully fleshed out, relatable and engaging. As their creator (Frankenstein moment here – look how that went!) I got to know them and didn’t want to let them down.  If my readers didn’t invest in their journeys, then I’d done them an injustice.    After all, their stories are important.  They are written to be understood and provoke the reader to assess their own thinking, and most of all, enjoy!

What if my readers didn’t though?  What if (big mistake here…) they write reviews like some of the ones I’ve read about other books on Amazon?    Books which I’ve loved!  Books which have won awards!  

I suppose this is what happens when you raise your head above the parapet…and to reach a wider audience, that’s what I’m going to have to do!  

So, as I launch myself onto a platform for all to survey, I can only hope that less eggs are thrown than flowers.  It’s nerve racking sharing something which has become such a part of me.  But even more so, those of you who have been kind enough to buy my book, I don’t want to let you down! 

To download a copy:

Paperback and audiobook to follow soon.  

Madness and Meltdowns

The story of my life really. If you ask me to sum it up in three words it would be that.  A life, which so far, has let me on a ridiculous path of hilarity, sadness and the downright bizarre.  And it wasn’t until I found myself talking out loud to myself yesterday, that I realised how being slightly bonkers was saving my sanity.

This week.  Week two of lockdown.  Well, it’s been an interestingly busy and stressful week for someone who has only left the house for a covid test, and to Tescos where I thought ‘there’s just not enough wine to sort me out at the minute’.  A week where I have been knee deep in detoxing, battled a cold, which then went! (Seems the detox and extra vitamins are working), and where my book formatting went to shite and all I wanted to do was throw it away and pretend I’d never even thought about writing a novel.  

First world problems, I’d agree.  This was not lost on me whilst I scrubbed my kitchen clean (the middle one informed me it ‘needed a deep clean’…)in a blind haze (I have to touch and clean everything because I can’t actually see properly – I could feel the dirt though and it was shamefully disgusting).  And realised, whilst reorganising my spice rack (oh how my weekends have changed) that the rabbit hole of insecurity and madness I was heading down, was almost certainly a ‘long standing behavioural pattern’ , which I had historically fallen into before.

Alarm bells rang…

CBT  was something my therapist taught me about last year.  I’m sure most of you know what it’s about, but it isn’t until you face an ‘episode’ of despair and that feeling that you can’t cope (three glasses of that vat of wine in and I’d fallen asleep.  The next morning a hangover!  The detox had broken me), that you truly get what to do.  You see, even as I was stuffing my face with hummus crisps – I know, hardcore dirty food right! And drinking that first glass of wine, I knew none of it would help.  I knew that others things such as: meeting friends, going out for a change of scene, going to my mum and dad’s for a cuppa – well I couldn’t do any of them.   Stupid covid. I had to rely on my ingenuity to find a way through.  CBT meant change and flexibility…

Now don’t get me wrong.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve used it.  I have had to think about my sessions quite often in the past year.  My friend and I sometimes talk about the ‘catastrophising’ which I am prone to.  The way I think the worst case scenario will always happen when in actual fact it rarely does.  My lovely therapist taught me to think about best and worst case scenarios and tell myself it’ll be somewhere in the middle – or even closer to the best.  Positivity and optimism is the key here apparently.  With a bit of realism thrown into the mix.

So, digging deep I started making lists.  

Last week, amid the loneliness of teaching from a virtual classroom (I miss 3D people with flesh and bones), the crappy weather; my aching poorly bones; my ‘publishing problems’…well the diary remained pretty much untouched.  I felt stuck.  Starved of plans for the future…oh, and my house was descending into a mucky mess due to me being superglued to my laptop and my poorliness (all I can do is watch whilst the scruffy lot LEAVE EVERYTHING OUT!  Although, I’m getting good at ‘mute’ shouting orders  ‘unmute’).  Well guys, I just didn’t know what to do.  

And don’t even get me started on the news…

So CBT and happy places.  Away from nasty Covid and the Trump shit-storm…all the hate, headlines, negativity.  

Lists, lists, lists…the diary is filling and it feels good.  

  1. I made a playlist called ‘Happiness’ and shared it.  It’s a beauty of four and a half hours of tunes, which feel like drinking from my lovely, and ever growing ‘Pukka tea’ collection.  
  2. I have reordered my kitchen to suit me.  I can now see better in there and (hoping) I get less bruises and break less plates and glasses, due to its new configuration.
  3. I’ve also broken my aim of not shopping in January, by buying some things which make me smile.  A very inexpensive few frivolities and it appears I’m sleeping sounder and more relaxed.
  4. But, the one thing I have found is that as much as I miss ‘people’ I also miss my own space.  I adore my family and never want to be without them,  I also realised the need for ‘alone time’,  someone physically or mentally I can take myself for a while to reflect and think.  I’ve found it’s very easy to all get caught up with each other’s dresses and strains; breeding a confined environment of tension.  After all, up until last March, I think the longest any of us has sent together for a prolonged period of time had been the family holiday!  We are used to the busy.  We were used to not sitting down…I escape by writing, reading, exercising, walking on the beach, cooking, long baths and a face mask…me time.  Oh, and that talking out loud to oneself – never underestimate the value of a little madness.  

I think it’s easy to forget in the midst of madness and meltdowns, that’s it’s okay to not be okay.  Not only should you be kind to others, you need to be kind to yourself too.  Show yourself some love – it’s not selfish to keep yourself well.  After all, how can we support each other and fight this battle on a nearly empty tank!