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The Post Christmas Crumble Down

Christmas, what did you learn?  Whilst thousands of families unwrapped popular presents: Bluetooth karaoke microphones (my ears still haven’t recovered), cookbooks (to add weight to the Jamie Oliver shelf in the kitchen), and enough indulgence bathing sets to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool.  However, what was said to be tearing families apart this Christmas? 

This years hot present, that caused Jezza Kyle style repercussions, was the genealogy DNA testing kit.  Sold as a way to find out your heritage, hundreds of eager ancestry enthusiasts are sending away their cheek swabs, hoping that they are descended from some illustrious family tree.  Dreams of royal connections and celebrity lineage now filling the nightly mind wanderings and fuelling fantasies.  However, there is always another side to the coin.  Dark secrets are also revealed of family betrayals and evil twists of fate which have altered destinies.  In a recent BBC News article, a family was featured with the specific problem of paternity.  Ageing siblings finding out that after 50 years of growing together, that they do in fact have different fathers.  This devastating news has rocked their world and opened up a Pandora’s box of questions.  What was seen as a fun gift, has turned into a life changing scenario – for all the wrong reasons.  

But really, what is family anyway?  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not dismissing the importance of our blood lined brood, but I’m rather reflecting on what really matters.  Christmas always bring controversy and problems, when you spend close confined periods of time with your nearest and dearest.  So, who needs DNA tests to cause ructions?  

The above news story was in my Christmas Quiz of the Year!  A quiz I’ve long since created to keep the family peace.  This annual occurrence keeps them alert after mountains of food and the equivalent of an air hostesses drinks trolley of alcohol.  Along with family facts and questions linked to top news stories of 2018, I also got them to make various numerical guesses including the amount of kilometres I’ve ran this year.  It causes arguments, yes, but it also causes much hilarity and stops the day ending in everyone in an indulgence induced coma.  And when there’s twelve around the table, stuffing their faces like they’ve starved for the past 365 days…if I don’t keep them alert and active, I’ll be calling for the ambucopter to airlift their drowsy distended bodies from our little house.  

Move to Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and thereafter and it is apparent that I’ve spent a wonderful amount of time with my friends.  Friends, who are quite simply my family.  You see, as much as I love them all, we also can have arguments and hilarity in equal measures.  They might not be part of my genealogy bloodline but they all hold a special place in my heart.  This year brought with it a new tradition to rival the quiz- The Inaugural Boxing Day Jog and Dip.  This involved a North Sea paddle to blow those food and drink overhangs from Christmas Day away!  Followed by brunch, vodka, games and a roaring fire…more overhangs.  

Maybe my above tales make you think how lucky I am.  After all, I have beautiful family and friends who I love in equal measure.  We’ve had fun and a full house (notice how little I refer to all those presents we so desperately bought).  So you’d be right…But don’t be deceived.  There’s been many moments of worry, over tiredness, stretched purse strings and pursed lips where I’ve had to bite my tongue to keep the peace.  It’s been hard work and only today did I collapse onto the sofa and sleep for an hour solid (that never happens).  I’m now panicking about all the things I haven’t done, all the people I haven’t spoken to (sorry) and the upcoming workload of 2019.  I can’t help asking myself, is it all worth it?

What present is tearing families apart then?  Not DNA testing but our anxieties of having the perfect Christmas.  Therefore, my present to you is that I’m going to share my philosophy with you, and it’s as simple as this:

It’s only one day.  The only important items you require aren’t the ubiquitous Christmas paraphernalia but spending it with the ones you love.  Fun costs nothing!

Making memories is the name of the game.  Carry that with you into 2019 and you’ll have a belter of a year!

 

Village Idiot

When you’re a child you make certain assumptions about the adults in your world. At the age of seven you believe what your parents tell you is gospel. Grandparents are of the highest order. Old people are wise. You were told to respect authority. The Queen, The PM…

Then you come of age. Cut to 2018 and I’m not so sure that the hierarchy of authority either commands or deserves respect.

This week, well not just this week, we have yet again watched the pantomime of world politics, unfold on the world stage. A dystopian fairytale of greed, power, and aggression (and that’s just our closest ally), that could have been scripted by Orwell himself. Indeed, worrying times are afoot and where do we look to when our national security is threatened? A ridiculous cast of characters, complete with pantomime dame. It’s time to look at the adults who control our lives…

Firstly, as much as I’m not keen on Theresa May, I have to say that she has more about her than most. Being a woman, she gets things done. She’s no ditherer, and love or hate her, she seems to listen and gauge what people want. However, her biggest flaw is her cabinet (not the drinks one which I bet has had a hammering the past few nights). Bumbling around, complaining, making ludicrous comments (and that’s just Boris), they don’t seem to wield either power or influence with any man or dog. It can’t just be me who automatically eye rolls when one of them pipes up, can it? Or only be me worrying that these clueless idiots seem to have world peace resting in their hands?

But that’s just the supporting cast. When Village idiot Corbyn bumbles onto the stage, all credibility for our democratic society begins to crumble. I’ve watched this man intently since becoming leader of the opposition. I wanted to like him. I wanted him to say something refreshing. I wanted him to be honest and tell the truth. But Jezza ‘I like to sit on the floor of the train like a fool’ Corbyn, picks the wrong fights and leaves us all at a loss to what his point is – not his point, but the point of him existing is.

You see, we are facing tough times. At home our streets are becoming more dangerous by the day. In London, street crime is at an all time high. And since when has it been socially acceptable to set up a memorial for the perpetrator at the crime scene? It seems there is no authority and respect and no one to teach it anymore. The Tories have made so many cut backs to our trusty health service, national security, policing and education system, that we are struggling as a country: no one feels safe and our children’s’ futures look quite bleak. This is fact. Corbyn likes to remind us of this when he’s offering to give back to our poor country from his magic money tree (Probably, the same magic money tree Blair used to get us into this bloody mess in the first place). Abroad, we know things are tougher. The media appears to be veiled in so much propaganda that none of us know what to believe. But, rather than reassure the public (some people did vote for him), support the tough job that Theresa May is having to do, he seems to like siding with the devil himself. This, I believe, is unforgivable and plays totally into Putin et al hands.

But, whilst Corbyn tries to grow magic beans, over the ocean, our closet ally likes to resort to playground tactics to make his point. In any other production he’d be the ultimate pantomime villain. The orange tupeed warrior, who continues to make us all look as uneducated and ridiculous, as the baddies would like to believe we are. Offering people out via Tweeting is both childish, and surely against the Geneva convention? Not only is it highly inappropriate, it discredits the power and respect that America once held. And by default, tarnishes us also. Displaying such a lack of intelligence, as those who voted for him in the first place, makes the whole ‘air striking of Syria’ appear unethical and ill thought out. Who starts a war by Tweeting? Churchill must be turning in his grave.

It’s not easy watching the news with the children at present as there is so much that threatens our futures. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment. Surely they should stop arguing and do that thing we do to our own children – telling them it will all be fine and ok? Instead, what we are given is more worry and a clear division. And this makes me angry! Division is a weakness and shows how little backbone some of these politicians have.

All is not lost and I’m going to reveal the heroine of our story. Our PM. May knows about division and this is why she is standing by America and France. She also has the courage of her convictions. Both show what a strong and intelligent woman she is. That’s why Putin and his band of nasties are scared of how this is all unfolding. She does what she says. She makes no idol threats. She takes a tough stand and must have nerves of steal. She holds Trump’s hand for a reason – he needs her more than she needs him. Love her or hate her, can you imagine the Village Idiot navigating us through such a stormy time? Westminster might be divided but we need to trust in Theresa May at least.

Meanwhile, whilst we all pray for world peace, was there ever a better reason to bring back Spitting Image…

Sprung a Leak?

What makes you get up in the morning? What motivates you to scrape yourself from your warm pit on a cold and frosty morning? Let’s be honest, it’s been difficult for the last few months. What with a winter which has pushed us into austerity with the sheer size of heating bills,and the extra food and alcohol required to keep the wolves from the door. It’s been a cruel harsh winter hasn’t it?

Spring, apparently, has finally sprung! And with it we gain a certain joie de Vivre. A lighter step and countenance emanates from us all and suddenly, with the miracle of lighter days comes joy, laughter and positivity! After months of our bodies struggling with lack of vitamin D, we can now bask in the April sun…if only!

The rain, for the most part, has almost certainly stopped play!

Our great British weather. How lucky we are. By carefully planning my days, I’ve managed to do various jobs in my garden. I’ve prepared it for the ‘summer’. For those three days when I’m bound to be at work, when the sun shines brilliantly and we are all lulled into a false sense of security. Where we’ll make plans to barbecue, picnic and naively buy a bottle of Pimms. Be honest. How many of you have been stock piling garden stuff from the season aisle in Tescos? Foolishly purchasing plants, new gloves, play sets, seeds (you’ll never plant as it’s too cold to go out), patio furniture (you stupidly let yours rot) and a new barbie, plus accessories, in eager readiness for a summer season? And I bet you can picture you and yours sitting, no luxuriating in the warm summer sun in a picture perfect setting.

And you’d be right to. A good lifestyle is something we all, quite rightly, aspire to. Some of us want the glitz and trappings of a celebrity setting. Some of you have aspirations of living a life fit to style the cover of Home and Garden magazine. And some covert the look from the latest Vogue cover. Whatever our dreams, aspirations and goals are, it’s worth remembering that life should actually be about having fun and making allowances.

Always have a plan B.

The above, as my various children will tell you, is my motto for life. Always have another escape route, path, way to success and be happy. For example: I’ve always wanted to back pack around the world. Due to varying children of assorted ages, we have never had the luxury to do this. One day, me and Him, will be the oldest back packers in town. However, until that exciting prospect comes to fruition (we have fingers crossed that all the things we want to see haven’t been ruined by man. Therefore, please recycle your plastic) we are left with creating various travels we have made (and aspire to make) through culinary wonder. This past week we have travelled to China (Him more than me), France (happy times where I had no wrinkles), Greece (love and sunshine on a plate), Italy (where we are our greatest meal ever) and the a Lebanese feast (I long to visit Beirut but Him less so).

NB: The latter I created for our friends with Mickey Flanagan ringing in my ears (just like when I found myself dipping gf bread in balsamic vinegar and ordering s veg box, earlier on in the week) about being ‘middle class’. Not so Mickey, just escapism. vinegar, earlier on in the week) about being ‘middle class’. Not so Mickey, just escapism.

Cooking a meal, listening to good music, planting some new herbs in the garden and making optimistic plans for the summerging in my ears (as I was dipping my gf bread in balsamic vinegar, earlier on in the week) about being ‘middle class’. Not so Mickey, just escapism. are ways of beating the drudgery. An ideal life does not exist but having s good life is easy. Plan B? Cook a meal inspired by a gorgeous location – you’re there. Run in the rain like you’re 7 – you’re alive! It’s a freezing cold morning and you don’t know how to entertain the children. Stay in bed, watch a film and drink hot chocolate – savour a guilty pleasure.

Life isn’t about painting that perfect picture. Roll with the punches and ride the waves. Turn that shit around! Happy spring, it’s going to be epic.

 

The Wobble

It’s official: I’m the worst person to ever walk this perfect planet. Fresh from putting ones foot in it and side stepping conflict, I waded into a worthy battle and the result is that I’m a terrible person!

You see, I can’t stand lies. I also can’t stand selfish and disrespectful behaviour. So when I saw a disaster looming I stepped in…

Without going into too much detail, all I’m going to say is: Kids, who’d have them? Well, me but not after the age of 13. They are delightful, fun, witty and loving when babies and above. Sometimes I long for the sleepless nights prompted by a tearful baby – who only needs milk, changing and then a snuggle cuddle. My goodness, how I miss those fuzzy lovey days filled with awe and wonder of watching them sleep. What do o have now? I’m riddled with guilt of all the things I’ve ever done wrong and my sleepless nights involve tremors of self loathing for all the mistakes I’ve made. So, I’d suggest that someone invents a pill to numb the teenage years.
But it’s not just the children I’ve failed, it’s all those around me. This week I awoke from a twenty year slumber to realise that most people who succeed are liars, cheats and charlatans who seem to swan through life on a lie and a prayer!

So why I am so cross? I think it’s the frustration of life. This past week has been positively hard and arduous to endure, long working days, dealing with stuff which I can only ever come out as the bad guy in and culminating being swindled by some scam on the internet (this is prime example of cheaters winning)

This has all left me in a spiritual wobble. Which has since led to me feeling like I’m at a crossroads in my life. It doesn’t help that I think I’m losing my faith in the world. I used to believe that if I gave out good and prayed for my much loved family and friends – selflessly (I always say, I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for them) that good karma would bathe me and provide inner peace and calm. But maybe that’s the problem, maybe my desire for good karma channeled through helping others, makes me selfish?

And selfish seems to be the word I have thought about the most this week. Selfishness seems to be the thing that pulls us apart and unites us. Relationships are built for selfish reasons. Relationships shatter for selfish reasons. And not just that but is it me or do most people only see their lives through their lens? Do they ever consider another perspective?

So my wobble has made me think. I’ve had to do a lot of running, walking and play lots of music to search my troubled soul. I’ve decided that (in the words of Phoebe) there are no selfless acts. I can’t fight for (my) world peace as human nature dictates that it’s not possible. So what do I do to please, placate and selflessly help others?

Well, I though about taking a vow of silence. No comment, no words, no offence…however, I’m not sure that’s going to work. I’m a talker and a blogger. Getting stuff of your chest is cathartic and enlightening. Plan B involves reexamining my belief system – but deep down, although my core values appear outdated in this awful millennial world, I still believe I’m right. So its Plan C. This is the exciting one. What do they say? If you don’t like it, change it. So that’s what I intend to do. So I’m going to start by letting go of the bad stuff. Not caring so much and protecting ‘me’ from the evils of the world. And then, once I’m sated and happy – like the ready brek kid, I’ll be infectious and be able to spread that glow everywhere!! My selfish act of self preservation will enable me to produce selfless acts in tenfold.

See, I can always turn the frown around. Happy February xxxx

 

When It All Gets Too Much Look Beyond Your Own Nose

I’ve often heard and felt the old adage ‘one step forward and two steps back’ rather keenly. Life it seems can throw many a curve ball and that is certainly where we are currently at. The other idiom I am also familiar with has to do with ‘putting ones foot in it’. (Only I wish someone had and preferably in my mouth!) Teaching these ‘pearls of wisdom’ to a class of literal learners – that life is more than the visual, the tangible, that it has many metaphorical layers, is something I get paid to do on a daily basis. However, learning meanings is one thing. Learning lessons from the meaning is another.

I’ve two clouds on the horizon. I also have an anxiety with what promises (long term) to be a brilliant ray of sunshine (more about that at a later date). So what do I do? At present I’m having, what the Americans coin as a ‘mental health day’. Only it’s been two and it’s still not any better. So they say a problem shared is a problem halved…so with the censorship of my situation I shall hypothesise to protect all involved.

I often feel that if I (this is a generic I and applies to all) was lying dying on the floor, people would just step over me to get on with their own agenda. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way wallowing in self pity with this statement, I’m only being a realist. Most people I know are too busy within their micro-worlds to even look beyond their own nose. Consumed by matters pertaining to their own back gardens, they choose to ignore anything which requires effort and empathy. Maybe it’s the modern way? Gone, it seems, are the days of ‘love thy neighbour’. Society seems to have bred a mass of people so full of their own self importance that they don’t care who they hurt in the process. You see, I’ve a gut instinct for people, situations and such like. I can smell rats a mile off. And I have a keener sense of smell than the Rosie Dog. However, when faced with confrontation I’m no good. What do I do? I retreat and let dust settle. I hide away because as good as a case as I have, I can’t stand the battle, the retorts and the bloody aftermath. I make plans (I’m a strategist) and work out various scenarios. However, whichever way I look at it I always end up in the wrong! (Maybe it’s my face.m?). This is what I can’t stand – being vindicated for someone else’s shitty behaviour. I feel I’m always outed as the bitch, the awful person who has issue upon issue. However, much I know I have grounds for disgruntlement, I feel like the person ‘dying on the floor’ (do not see this as a sign of self pity. It’s more a sign of frustration). Like I said – people like to self preserve and from someone who had it drilled into them to say sorry from an early age, I wonder why modern society seem to struggle with the word and prefer to blame others?

So, yes, I’m not perfect and often inadvertently say things I shouldn’t. However, it’s not malicious and certainly not to be seen as bitter and twisted. I say shit and realise I shouldn’t (I was told this at the age of 16). Only I seem to get caught, hung, drawn and quartered for it on a daily basis. I used to think it was because people didn’t like me – an unpopular soul. But, I’ve recently realised that (again a flaw of modern society) that judging and punishing someone is preferable trying to see the good.

When was the last time you heard something about negative or shocking, about someone and tried to give them the benefit of the doubt? Be honest! Modern media has embedded within our culture a selfishness of being. People love to take the higher ground. They love to sit at the lofty heights of ‘self righteousness’, often forgetting, or ‘brain erasing’ past misdemeanours. So where’s this heading? Well firstly, if you think this is about you it’s not! It’s a generic rant on behalf of anyone who feels they’ve never had a fair hearing. It’s a crutch to hold anyone up who feels that life is ‘rewarding the bad and slapping the good’. It’s also a reminder to all you beautiful people that none of us is flawless and, as my ‘mental health day(s)’ have taught me: to look around me, absorb the bigger picture, breathe the air of devils advocate and realise that ‘it’s not all about me’

The clouds and the anxiety ridden ray of sunshine will still be there in the morning, but worry I not! Instead I shall be forging ahead for a brilliant year to come.

2018: The Year of My Life

So what does 2018 mean to you? How many of you made lists on January 1st of utterly wonderful goals? How many of you started with the most excellent of intentions and somewhere over the weekend they have begun to slide? Well, it’s day fourteen of ‘New Horizons’ and the year I’m calling ‘The Year of My Life’

Now, the title suggests that something extraordinary has happened over the Christmas holidays. How else could I be entering ‘The Year of My Life’? Well actually no! My statement is more of a state of mind, which is, if truth be told, (big nervy breath) my feeling of coming out of a storm and being able to breathe the crisp and brilliant air! Now I do realise that dark days run alongside light days but something in me has shifted, and, I think it’s come from realisation that following your dreams and believing can lead to wonderful things.

Why? I’ll take you back to a time when I felt like we were constantly peeing in the wind. Whatever we achieved, we fell back three places. Bad luck seemed to haunt us around every corner. At one point I didn’t know how we could ever continue…it all seemed so insurmountable. You see life is a complete ass at times. So much so we felt we must have committed some terrible atrocities in a previous life. There didn’t seem to be a way out. The walls and obstacles surrounded us. We had nowhere to turn….years and years of bad luck negates every happy moment.

Our situation wasn’t unique. Everyone struggles – but you just don’t see it. Silent battles. Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders can be extremely isolating and exhausting. You don’t want to share because a) no one can physically do anything, and b) people don’t really want to know. (Let me just say that the latter comment is not a negative it’s just how it is as everyone has a difficult journey to follow at some time or another). April 2016 and I truly felt that my 30 odd years of life had been arduous and ageing. That we’d used all our dreams and prayers up on the serious stuff and the consequence were that we were living the legacy of survival.

And then I had a dream.

Don’t laugh, it was no Martin Luther King moment but it did indicate a turning point in our lives. Two things happened in my vivid dream and they came true. Things which, at that time, weren’t possible (I even remember saying it in my dream ‘how did this happen? It’s not possible?’) but within two weeks the first happened and four weeks later the second.

What’s this all got to do with 2018 ‘The Year of My Life’? Lots really. Him and I spent most of Christmas lost in attending the needs of our nearest and dearest. We spent any spare time we had doing nothing other than talking and walking the Rosie Dog. Prior to the big day we discussed presents and decided we needed nothing important – nothing that couldn’t wait. Instead we talked about living a fun life; one to embrace and enjoy! And within all this talking and looking around, seeing how lucky we were, I realised that dreams come true and life can change on a sixpence.

For a long time I believed that if I embraced and enjoyed life it would come back and slap me in the face. Make me sorry for my happiness and remind me that life is actually harsh and lonely. But, i think that I needed to think differently. Instead I needed to find my belief and embrace it.

2018 ‘The Year of My Life’. What’s new? Well, I’m facing stuff that used to terrify me (you wouldn’t believe The Fear’ and how it takes hold in the most innocuous situations). I’ve attempted dry January but failed. Although I’ve found that I’m not that keen on drinking anymore! (I’m sure it won’t last). Six chapters of the book are written and its feeling good. And, last but not least, my faith to believe feels stronger and healthier than I can ever remember it feeling before. When running, walking Rosie Dog, spending time with my family, I am smiling outside in. It’s too long since I’ve felt this way, long may it continue.

My dreams come and go and I feel a peace within me. For a long time they were haunting and traumatic but now they give me a sense of hope. And what is my point? Why is any of this relevant? At my lowest times I’d read inspirational quotations and tried to find answers. I’d search for words but couldn’t find the comfort. They say that we can learn from our experiences…I needed to know that the sun would not only shine again but I’d feel the warmth. What I’m not trying to do is say ‘look at me’ (please don’t!). However, what I want to do is show those of you who are tackling The January Blues (or something bigger) that there’s a brilliant light waiting. I felt that I’d never feel it again. I felt worthless for s long long time. Now I don’t care as I don’t think about me and just love living a life I’m proud of! Nothing is perfect and nothing has really changed, what has changed though is my state of mind.

Happy 2918 and let’s make it the best one yet xxx

All I Want For Christmas…

500 Santas running through chilly rain, across a squally beach, to the backdrop on a grey sky. All on an icy east coast with a bitter arctic wind whipping off the sea; I’ve done more pleasurable things on a Sunday morning. Where would I rather be? Warmly wrapped in my quilt. Reading a book. Having a cup of tea?

Well no actually! Am I mad? Probably! And I’m not going to guilt trip everyone and come across all holier than thou, due to my dedication to the cause, my students and mostly my family, instead I’m going to explain my epiphany.

This week I’ve been Christmas shopping (again), ordered my meat and veg, written more lists, delivered Christmas invites, organised stuff, been to carol concert number one, put up a rather impressive tree (so impressive that my American family have commented how good it is – praise indeed), Him has put up outdoor lights, put up outdoor tree and foliage (I know posh), and ran a soggy Santa dash along a rather dramatic crashing wave beach. I’m bloody exhausted! However, content I most wonderfully am.

But guess what? Here’s the negative – I’ve still not really bought my children any presents. Now normally I’d been waking up having panic attacks and palpitations in the middle of the night. I’m not though. Not s flicker, not a slightly raised pulse, in fact I’d call it that I am unusually calm…

So Wednesday morning carol concert…When in the beautiful church we were married in, where all our wonderful children were baptised in, and where we’ve spent the last 16 years bringing Christmas day in, I had a revelation. You see, I do like a story, so the Reverend’s Message is always a high point of the service for me (This is something I extend to my daily listening, I often set my alarm to listen to Radio Two’s Thought for the Day. Also, don’t tell anyone but one of my children enjoys it too). Anyway, the message on Wednesday was all about a dog (winner), children and a family at Christmas. The message was about ‘love’ being the most important thing (Well, I’m sure we all agree that we don’t need to be told this). But, what I think we always need reminding of, is not losing sight of what we have.

If we are lucky enough to be loved and have love – in whatever guise, I believe are lives are the richer for it. However, the merry-go-round of modern life drags us down, makes us mardy (sorry), and can weigh down so heavily we forget why we are doing what we are doing. Now, due to house, friends and dinner prep, I’ve had no time to shop for my children. Are they damaged by my neglect? No, not at all. In fact, in all the activity over the past few days, they are positively glowing. They are looking forward to our party, our Christmas Eve plans, Christmas dinner – and arguing over what they are doing (no one wants leaving out), excited tor a million other things…but have they mentioned presents? Barely. Yes, they might have discussed this or that but it’s no way the main topic of conversation. If truth be told, they’ve actually no idea what they really want. And this makes me proud. Not only am I proud of the way they are behaving, I’m also proud of the way they did the fun run in the horrendous winter weather this morning. My proudness continues when I remember that they have offered to help cook the charity dinner for 25 people. Upshot is my love for them in boundless and enriched by the way they show compassion and love for others.

Yes, love is all you need.

So, what do I want for Christmas? Nothing, as how can anything be as fulfilling and beautiful as the love I have for my family?

And I’m sure, if you all look at your micro world. If you consider what you have, you will feel enough love and happiness to get you through the shite stuff. Pinch yourself, it’s true. And if you haven’t? Go out and grab the beauty of life and you too shall find love. We all deserve it, we just have to know where to look.

Happy loving Christmas!

PS. I’d quite like some new trainers, perfume and pyjamas, if anyone wants to know.

 

 

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Losing It

So, I think I’m losing it. Not in a ‘go into a room and forget why you’re there’ type of thing, or ‘purse in the fridge’ way, it’s a bit more serious than that. It’s a re-evaluate and prioritise your shite type of thing…

You see, for many years I’ve experienced the above. It’s the social norm. I hear people at work often murmuring it, along with mutterings of talking to oneself – we all do it. It means we’re not perfect. Our minds are sometimes preoccupied, illness can dull the senses and they can struggle with little aspects. For example: earlier this year I had a nasty chest infection which resulted in me having to double check spellings of basic words – weird eh? But, I knew why it was occurring, it was a result of the fight my body was incurring through the nasty bug. My brain was overworking in just enabling me to stand up!!No, the thing that makes me feel on the steady decline is much worse. This week I forgot how to cook potatoes (please feel free to laugh).

Now, the less culinary of you might think this is quite natural. But not for me. I’m a cooker. It’s in t’blood. I can knock up a banquet ‘en masse’ in less than an hour, with only strobe lighting (think strip club) and a two ring electric Belling to aide and assist. (Last Christmas. No kitchen. New house. Family needing feeding). Potatoes are something I can do in my sleep. But scarily Him had to broach the question of why I was trying to steam my potatoes?

However, it hasn’t stopped there. I seem to be losing recollection of things that happen. I forget what I’m talking about half way through s sentence. Most alarmingly, I can’t always understand an instruction. Now, I could blame the above on sleep deprivation and being a busy lady, however, here’s the thing, I think it’s my body’s way of telling me it’s time to stop. Stress, anxiety and paranoia…

Now, stopping doesn’t mean living, because that would be stupid! I’m a spring chicken with loads of plans and an exciting life to yet lead. No, what I’ve got to stop doing is carrying this constant burden of worry and anxiety around like Marley’s ghost and his chains. Work seems to be a constant millstone around my neck and quite frankly that is unacceptable.

Firstly, the guilt I forever feel as a working parent needs to stop. My beauts have a good life. Love is always in abundance and fun a necessity. So what if I forget 50p for this, or I’m not even a feature at the school gates (at parents evening many had no idea who I was)? I’m a good mum. I’m here every night, they have food, they’re clean, cuddles are a must, I rarely leave them and am always on hand ‘maid style’ any time – day or night. Apart from…work days, nights I have to spend working, times I’m exhausted and Him has to do it all (my God, what would I do without Him?). And yes, I know it’s not really good enough. To be ‘that parent’ which is heralded as ‘worlds wirst’ with ‘poor neglected children’, I’m am to be frowned upon for my shoddiness but if my only crime is one of overworking to provide a wonderful life for them, if I was in charge, I’d absolve me of my sins.

Then it’s the pressure of trying to hold it all together. Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to fix an old holey water pipe with sticking plasters. Trying to placate everyone to keep the harmony. First world issues that seem so important to us but in the grand scheme of things…

It has to be noted that I never wanted to grow up; I wanted to be that free spirit, back packing around the world with a baby strapped to my back. Following the Inca trail or trekking the foothills of the Himalayas (I’ll still get there) This sentiment of escapism makes me always feel like running away and hiding. Knowing I can’t just up sticks and leave all my loved ones behind, I hide. And that’s what I think my brain is doing – it’s telling me all this has to stop by reminding me how fragile I am.  It’s hiding crucial information to make me stop and think.

Hiding/running, it’s the paranoia within me that seems to feed this feeling, if I feel out of control, out of my depth, if I feel excluded…I’m so worried about what people think of me, I’ve extracted myself from most social situations. I find it all incredibly embarrassing. It’s something which is leading me into a solitary life – like one of those reclusive writers who I always thought so cool! But what am I achieving? Being a hermit and hiding just feeds the monster and ‘the fear’. Growing like the gremlins in the dark cupboard. Like I said before, stress, anxiety and paranoia. Those three words sum me up completely. Each one a label on my Marleyesque chains. Lugging the heavy bleeders around day and night being an encumbrance. Sound familiar?

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol to make a point. He wanted people to think about the imprint they made then left in life. Our souls burdened by choices in and beyond our control. We all have silent battles we are fighting, crushing us at times and dragging us down into the depths of despair. I see my present ‘dementia’ as a sign. It’s my body’s way of telling me, like Marley did to Scrooge, about what’s important. I need to find that euphoric zest that always got me through in the past. I need to cut through the quagmire of self loathing and begin to love myself again. I need to stop worrying about the haters and I need to channel my inner sunshine. I need to understand and feel like I’m worth it,  Marley’s sole mourner turned out to be the best friend he could ever wish for.  He gave him a gift to absolve him of ‘the fear’.  Many of us seem to need our own Marley.

So, with Christmas dinner for twelve to cook, I better get my shite together quick and fast! Otherwise the Lord himself only knows how I’ll cook the sprouts…

 

 

Sunday

Sundays, what are they for? As a child I categorically hated Sundays; especially in the winter (summer Sundays are fit for picnics, playing out and are a prelude for the holidays). Dark, cold and filled with days keeping warm in a bed heated with an electric blanket (haha, as it! I wonder if people still use them?). and wrapped in what my mother coined as a ‘candle wick’ bedspread, was the only comfort to my misery.

We lived in a tiny village, no shops (not that they opened on a Sunday back then anyway), only only a few houses, church and a school. It was hardly an exciting metropolis of glamour and modernity…Our home was an old eighteenth century farmhouse with a Victorian extension. It was the epitome of living in Scrooge’s lodgings. Many a morning I’d awake with ice on the insides of the single glazed sash windows. When the wind blew it’d lift the carpet up like Jacob Marley had arrived…and whistle around the roof. This resulted in my inability to face reading Dickens for many years, as it was all too familiar and real to me. Especially the boring bits where the women would sit around fires doing nothing – that was me on a Sunday.

It wasn’t that my parents were religious, but we were surrounded by it. We had a pub next to a church (they usually are) and whenever my parents moved into a new community they’d make it their policy to get to know the local vicar. I mean who can blame them really? It brought a lot of money into the pub as they’d end up holding all kinds of church gatherings and religious shenanigans with us. The lovely old vicar used to like a pint with my dad (so much so he had his own stool and a picture hung on the wall above where he sat). Plus all the oldies would rock up after Sunday service for their three course luncheon. This lucrative move meant we had to occasionally attend important services (dressed in our best bib and tucker – usually, for me, a velvet M and S number with a bit of tartan on it) and this I didn’t mind too much as I liked the hymns (I went to a church school where we prayed twice a day and sang cracking hymns constantly – I never questioned this until later in life). However, I wasn’t so keen on all the prayers I didn’t know and the sermons. Plus if you got the stand-in vicar he always picked the rubbish songs that required no ability to sing but all the mastery of a linguist to be able to get the words to fit the music – all in a high pitched tone. But I digress, in the winter the old village church was on par with my icy bedroom. Therefore, a church Sunday could be a double whammy.

Luckily though (I say this loosely) most Sundays were spent by me being lonely and bored. Mum and Dad were so busy feeding the silver hoards, that I pretty much never got a look in. If I was good I got two dinners – a mini one at the beginning of service and then another at tea time (for those of you who have ever eaten her cooking will know this is jackpot winning gains). However, it wasn’t enough to liven up the dullest day of the week. Busy, overworked and stressed as they were, they had little sympathy. According to them, when they were kids they ‘had’ to go to church and Sunday school. They ‘had’ to wear special clothes and they weren’t allowed to play (this all used to come out in the same spiel as the one where they made their own games from sticks and tin cans, their world was all about horrible margarine and without butter, and they were forced to have baths in s sink…). Therefore, I was to think myself lucky I had a telly (one with four channels which only had Blue Peter and The Queens Nose on, on a Sunday morning), a fire (we had no heating so we developed chilblains from October to March by turning at the hearth every five minutes) and an ‘Acorn Electron’ computer which took half an hour to load, with the graphics verging on etch a sketch quality. So, in my true spirit and style, I had to reshape my Sundays into something wonderful.

So making wonderful i did. I requested a midi hi-if, blank tapes, vinyl, music mags, and created my own radio show (you see always wanted one). I’d DJ my way through the top 40, create playlists and mix tapes (way before Apple even thought it). Then I stepped it up. My ‘miserly Yorkshire’ father, ‘he who wouldn’t pay for Sky’ did buy me multipacks of blank tapes from the cash and carry. The deal was that I could have one blank tape if I spent my free time ‘taping’ (that sounds hilarious now) all the telly they missed when they’d ‘be packed downstairs’. So in return for recording ‘Cell Block H’, ‘Only Fools’ and ‘Corrie’, I was allowed to fill my tape with ‘Top of the Pops’, ‘Chart Show UK’, and other random shite that I’d spot and press record on (it was never instant because the button used to take five seconds to kick in so I’d always miss the best bit). From my producers chair, I’d create my own E4 style show and analyse the dances and clothing of various pop stars (my goodness, I’m wasted in education). I’d create dance routines and costumes to accompany them (I was so cool in my fingerless lace gloves). This all provided me with a panache for organisation, an ear for good music and an eye for a worthy trend (I tend not to try and follow flash in the pan silly ones – harem pants et al). But as time went on I needed cash to support my fledgling Vox Pop career. So I went All Sir Alan and started my own business. Sunday mornings through to lunchtimes would consist of me washing cars in the pub car park. This highly successful venture finally ended when ‘the miserly Yorkshireman’ needed his teenage daughter to serve the ‘silver hoards’ for slave wages in his restaurant.

So the wonderful Sundays turned to just another day…

Twenty five year later and I can tell you that I haven’t ‘been to work’ on a Sunday for about ten years. Since the dark days of living in Ebenezer’s Palace, the pace of life has moved on rapidly – mores the pity. Less people go to church, shops now open and no longer is it seen as a sacred day of rest (for the record it was never a day of rest in our house). And although I have what seems like a thousand channels on my telly (I can never find a thing to watch though…) strike me down now but I crave for the boredom of that seven year old sometimes. The empty day which made me creative and enabled me to discover who I was.

So I thought about this today (I was singing ‘In the Bleak Mid-winter’ to Little E) and Sunday self discovery, had today led me to:

identify with my old blusher brush – it’s hanging on in there even though it is old and has alopecia. Replaced my the middle one with a newer better looking model, I felt sorry for it and felt guilty ending its functional life. A glance in the mirror and a look back at old picture reinforced this feeling – I am definitely feeling my age and hope to God that doesn’t mean I have to stop wearing skinny jeans and start shopping at Bon Marche.

Am I replaceable by a newer and fitter model? This enlightenment has probably been triggered by my middle baby turning fifteen. The beautiful one who we all spent an uncertain half an hour today rooting for, when she decided to dye her hair silver (it was touch and go for a while but it didn’t work). All reminding me how uncertain i felt at that age, and how I was desperate to find my place in the world…And when she asks ‘can I go up town?’ I want to say ‘no because it’s Sunday’ and then I realise to a young modern ear this will sound ridiculous!

My final discovery was that as old and wise as I now am, Him deigns to treat me like a petulant and untrustworthy teen. There is no coincidence that I’ve been playing Happy Mondays very loudly whilst I cooked the habitual dinner (that they won’t come home in time for and won’t clear away) and the fact Him is refusing to buy us tickets to see them live next month because ‘it’s on a school night’. My ‘loud’ protest and my ‘silent’ dinner will provide a masterclass for the children in ‘How to Throw a Strop’ – y’ twisting ma melons msn’.

For the next two hours I will have to work (eurgh) although the bonus is that I’ve forgotten to bring some documents home – that’s given me an extra hour! I will have help Little E make a 3D model of Saturn and her rings. Then dinner will be served and Sunday night sick feeling will start to seep in. Is that where ‘no rest for the wicked’ originated from? They say careful what you wish for, but I wish for Sundays to regain their sanctity. I’d like us all to shut the world day on this old day of rest. Whatever you believe, whoever wrote the bible, they were very wise. Although creation is a fairy story, it’s worth thinking about what it’s ancient author was trying to say. Not about greed, not about temptation (they really knew what they were on with didn’t they?) but about on the seventh day he rested. Why is life so demanding now there’s no room for rest? Sundays, what are they for? They’re for doing nothing (if you want) so go and put your feet up…

Optimism

When the black dog is looming on the horizon, it can take great strength to try to steer away from it. To succumb would mean accepting the darkness, wrapping yourself in it like a blanket and shrinking away from life. To fight it, to ignore the sick feeling in your stomach, to suppress the deep dread washing through you is incredibly hard. It’s like walking a tightrope between black and white.

Where does it come from? Is it something which lurks within us all? I’m wondering, no convinced, it’s to go with the modern world. So fast paced, demanding and full of expectations, that the constant pressure to live a good life can mean that it loses its lustre. This in conjunction with worries about family and friends, plus managing a busy life, is quite simply a recipe for mental health disaster. You see, quite frankly I need a break.

I’m currently teetering on a very thin line. All my self taught coping mechanisms are keeping me going but I feel like I’m heading for a fall. All the stuff I do to make myself feel better I am struggling to do. When even the thought of changing my bed sheets overwhelms me (yesterday). When I see a beautiful sunny autumn day and feel upset because I want to skulk into depression under the blanket on my sofa (this morning). And when I realise that the constant sickness and tension within my body is my default setting (all the time), I know I need to do something.

That’s what I’m now doing. My first answer is to write it down and commit it to the electronic screen. The second will to be to talk to someone. I will tell them that this has been building for about five months. I will tell them I have started to tell people bits, however, no one knows the full story. But, this is the big problem – where do you start and who would you want to dump hours of your depressing talk onto? (Even writing it bores me).

That’s the thing though: it bores me. I categorically hate the way my body and brain are currently working against the inner optimist within me. My metaphorical mantra of ‘build and they will come’ has pushed me through many a trying time. In the way that if the task ahead felt unattainable and hugely daunting, I’d push myself forward with a steely determination where I would allow anything other than a win to happen. Only now, at a time where I am searching for a new sign, one that reassures me and gives me hope, is nowhere to be seen. Instead my gut is telling me something is wrong. This I hate. Even more so my body is telling me enough is enough. I seem to be developing psoriasis on my scalp again, spots and I have a mouth full of ulcers (all signs of stress). I want out and I want to be able to sleep again.

I’m almost sure I’m not alone in any of this. One of my reasons for writing it down for others to read is because keeping stuff locked up inside can destroy the soul. By sharing it can lessen the load. Also, if you too have bouts of deep loathing, wanting to hide, feeling stressed and worry, I know it can feel very lonely. It’s like being the only person on a wild and windy precipice, with angry waves lashing against the jagged rocks; teetering only metres from death. Vulnerable and fighting for survival – the gale force winds pushing you towards the edge. All you want is someone to come along with a thick blanket, flask of tea and to whisk you away into a bear hug of safety. If that describes you then I want you to know that I want to be the flask carrying hugger in your life.

You see, I much rather fancy the role of rescuer than being the rescued. I despise the maudlin nature which lurks like a bad smell within my being at the moment. I want to be upbeat and happy. I’m sick of those black clouds hovering; threatening to spoil my life. Yes I have worries (there’s a truckload at the minute) and yes I don’t know how to fix things but I’m not going to let it beat me. I have lots to be thankful for and that’s more than some can say. So (brushing oneself down) I’m going to retrain my brain into thinking that ‘nothing bad will happen and it’s ok’ from the ‘I feel panicky, sick and tearful as I think the whole world hates me’ feeling. It’s going to be tough but with Him, them and Rosie Dog to hold my hand (with a soundtrack playing optimistically in my head). I shall aim for that sunset happily ever after I know we all actually deserve – that’s both you and I. After all, my story isn’t unique, it’s a symptom of modern life. I’m painting my smile on and working on the inner self.

Happy Sunday love to you all.