Your way

When my cousin got married on Friday she had planned (or maybe not planned ..) it entirely around the day she and her husband to be wanted. We didn’t get a postal invite, there was a Facebook group set up! There was only 30 seats in the tiny exquisite beautiful room bathed in blue sky and warm sunshine. There wasn’t an usher in sight or a wedding booklet. No singing or long speeches. No seating plans. No formal sides to sit on. No dress code. No cars with fancy ribbon. No veil. No colour scheme. No walking down the aisle. No standing around for endless photographs. No formality.

I hear later that my cousin walked to the shop without her shoes to get herself a bacon bap an hour before her do, that she played football on the beach with her kids and that when her sister got there to do her hair with ten minutes to go it was still wet!!! Still, she turned up looking absolutely stunning.

The Facebook group did say “you may have to watch us get married through the window” which I thought was a joke!! I had the honour of doing just that with our Grandad who couldn’t manage the steps inside. He probably said the funniest thing of the day when after driving an hour to get to the venue and then another half an hr managing the steep steps down to the building … during the ceremony he said to me.. louder than perhaps he realised… “I don’t know why they didn’t just get married in the Blue Lion!!”

The ceremony itself was beautifully simple. No child had to be on best behaviour and we giggled and laughed along with my cousin as she tongue-twisted around the complex Welsh words which after 15 minutes did pronounce them man and wife.

There was no photographer but a friend with a camera, my cousins eleven year old daughter also took some amazing photos as she caught pictures of the guests relaxed and unaware. Friends and strangers mingled with flutes of champagne in the garden and the bouquet was thrown and caught by the bride’s twenty year old niece, so cute!

As the day went on the wine flowed, the kids searched for insects and played hide & seek. Aunties danced in the garden along with the bare footed bride, the cake was cut, cousins gathered around the pub tables laughing out loud loving this rare time we have together, kisses and hugs were abound as we all became not just tipsy on the sauvignon but tipsy with love at this beautiful, unpredictable, informal, pretty wedding.

So, congratulations you two for doing it just the way you wanted.

I think we should all take a leaf out of their book.

Life is for making your own rules and doing it …your way!

Happy Sunday x x x

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Scrabbling

Juxtaposition. What a brilliant score at scrabble that word would be!

This week almost earns itself a very famous film title in our life but ours would be 2 birthdays, 2 funerals and a wedding.

Juxtaposition. Feelings of contradiction at the same moment.

My Nains funeral fell on my birthday. It was a sad but dignified send off and I was glad for the memories and the ninety years she had. Names of all her children and grandchildren and her great grandchildren were read out. Tesni heading the latter as the eldest and my heart felt so very sad as I hear the word ‘late’ before her name. It feels so wrong and I am glad my 6ft 2 son is standing next to me, for somehow he on occasion, now, feels like my support and that’s a beautiful feeling and it makes me feel so proud of the person he has become.

Juxtaposition. Feeling loss yet gratitude Feeling sad but proud. Like a beautiful but lonely flower.

I also get to see most of my brothers in one room and I get to cuddle 3 month babies and meet a new nephew with lovely cheeks.

I think that’s the hardest part of loss for me. On my birthday for splinters of time I kept thinking. How lucky am I? Lots of friends visiting and texting. Family nights out and lunches. I’m loved so much. I feel lucky. But I also feel like a third of me is missing. With grief there’s always a but.

We will finish this week off with a family wedding that I’m really looking forward to. I get to see most of my gorgeous cousins that I see far too infrequently. For all of us I’m sure there’ll be someone close to our hearts that we wish was there but I am reminded of the writing literally written by Tes on her bedroom wall. Make every day beautiful.

We must certainly try.

Lots of love this Sunday

Dwys x

Still bubbling

I was listening to my favourite radio station, Radio 6 on Saturday morning and I caught the end of a poet talking about writing his poetry. Surprisingly he said it was a wrenching difficult job for him because it had to be about the truth. He opened himself up to the world with his words and sometimes it led to criticism but he went on to say that’s the place we need to get to as human beings was that we need to face our truth.

Sometimes I think we live in a world where it’s a bit like having backache. If something isn’t right and we have a pain many people take a pill and the pain goes away. But the cause of the pain hasn’t gone away. It still there. We don’t face the issue. The truth.

When I wrote my blog two weeks about my mental health I was really scared and I only skimmed the top of it. It’s hard. I was worrying that people would look at me different or maybe a potential employer would Google and think oh dear she’s had anxiety. Steer clear. And then there’s the uncomfortable truth that you’ve kept this big part of you away from people you’ve loved and the biggest part is letting the world know I’m not perfect.

To say I was overwhelmed with the messages after I wrote it doesn’t cover it. Some people messaged me with their own secrets and stories about their quiet suffering and others opened up about their own concerns about loved ones and there was stories of overcoming really difficult bouts of mental health issues.

The main factor in these stories and mine is we are all different, different ages, gender, background and also we are not just surviving but we are living. We are all doing stuff. I manage an organisation that serves a population of 11000. Just because I have anxiety issues doesn’t mean that I can’t hold down a demanding job or have a fabulous large bunch of friends. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a meaningful relationship. It doesn’t mean I can’t deal with stress and it doesn’t mean I’m going mad. It doesn’t mean that I’m not dependable. It doesn’t mean I miss work. It doesn’t mean I’m down a lot. It doesn’t mean I’m weak.

What struck me most when I wrote that blog was that people were shocked. You? But you’re strong? You’ve got a good job. You’re always laughing. You never said anything. And I am all those things and so are most people with mental health issues, we just need to stop skimming around those two words like they’re an infectious disease. Reality is we all have Mental health and sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can make us poorly. Mental issues does not mean failure, in fact when you face it… You move away from the cloud you thought was protecting you and finally begin to live and face your truth .

It was really important to me to write a second part to that blog and I want to thank you for your support and also your bravery x

Lots of love this Sunday x

Nain

I had intended to write a second part to my blog from last week. The response was so overwhelming that it deserved another blog just to respond. Hopefully next week.

However as I’ve said before sometimes something so significant happens in your week that there’s nothing else to write about.

My Nain passed away this week. My gran. 7.40pm. Tuesday 29th May 2018. My Nain quietly left us. Aged 90.

Over the past couple of weeks as we’ve sat by her bed and felt her days slowly ending …it has given me time to look back at my life with my Nain.

I was reminded of the saying that the important thing about other people is how they make you feel.

From all accounts my Nain like every other person wasn’t without fault. However as her grandaughter I don’t remember anything negative about my Nain and I certainly know that for periods of my life as a kid she made me feel safe with her fussing.

My grandparents had a small holding and I have quite idyllic memories of visiting this huge house with enormous windows, hanging from them white wooden shutters over 12ft tall. I remember my Taid saying that they were used during the war to shut out all light from the threat in the skies. In the same room stood a wooden grandfather clock that I can still hear chime today.

The house overlooked fields owned by my grandparents with a river running through the bottom where me, my brother and cousin would regularly play.

I had no idea until now that those times were to be some of the most gentle beautiful moments of my life.

My memories include sitting at the table shelling fresh peas from a pod with Nain. Her playing the piano. My Taid coming in from the garden he was so proud of laden with tomatoes and cucumber. A mountain of home baked cakes that we were expected to eat. Sending us off to the hay bales to see how many eggs we could find that had been laid by the chickens who roamed entirely free. Feeding abandoned rejected lambs with a warm synthetic bottle. I can see their tails wagging a hundred miles an hour. A trip to Scotland to watch salmon jumping and a holiday to a cottage in Devon with white shutters on a blue detached house by the sea. My Taid driving us there and my Nain telling him to slow down. A lot.

My Nain quite recently still re told one story from our trip to Devon when we had taken a day ferry. Nain didn’t like boats and when she got off told the operator firmly that she would be walking home. That’s fine he said but you do know it’s 18 miles to go all the way around the harbour on foot. For a second I thought this feisty woman was just about to do that but instead reluctantly agreed to get back on to save her (and us!) the walk.

Tomorrow my Nain would have celebrated her 91st birthday.

I’ll miss my Nain very much but I will cherish the memories I have of her and most importantly, how she made me feel.

Have a lovely Sunday x x

Bubbling

This is one of those blogs that I get a bit nervous of putting ‘out there’. Do I. Don’t I? The main reason I think it’s important that I do is that my life isn’t just one of beautiful walks, beautiful people and beautiful unplanned meetings that lead me to write. This is a blog about life, life after a massive trauma, it is about the ‘journey’ and it would be wrong if I just wrote about the turquoise skies and luscious lakes and ignored the clouds of stormy days.

If you’ve read my blog you’ll probably know that after I lost Tes I was diagnosed with suffering with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be hard to explain, people often say – yes I’m a worrier too. Anxiety isn’t like worrying. It’s a controlling tiny voice changing your reality, creating a world of danger that doesn’t truly exist. In truth anxiety had probably been bubbling due to issues from a long time ago for a long while. It manifested itself in my late teens with severe panic attacks that lasted for years and that I mostly hid from those around me. That was a very bad move I realise now. In fact, I did try to tell someone but I was told not to be silly, I think they hoped that if I didn’t talk about it that it’d go away. So I didn’t open up again for a long long time. Suffering and coping in silence.

When I learnt that panic attacks were just serotonin levels raising due to the flight or fight instinct within my body I was very annoyed that I’d spent years avoiding things I perceived as ‘dangerous’. These included any situation really that I thought I couldn’t easily get out of… like busy supermarkets or even sitting in the middle of a row at a concert. Buses. Ferries. Planes. I was the worlds best at coming up with excuses to avoid these situations. Eventually after about 5 years and learning about the physiological causes I managed to take control back (thanks in most part to the book I’ve talked about so much before – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – it changed my life).

Anyway. Since I lost Tes over five years ago, after a 20 year absence, anxiety entered my life with a gigantic crushing wave. I spent the first two years fighting it off. Fighting it off with running. Fighting it off with wine. Fighting it off with mindfulness. Fighting it off with being ultra busy. It wasn’t getting me again. However. Get me it did. After two years of fighting, I was exhausted and admitted defeat. Ending up at the doctors before it had even opened one morning crying, asking for help. With that help medically and psychologically I learned to live alongside it and it stopped controlling me.

So it’s been a bit of a shock this last 2 weeks or so to realise that I’ve had a mini relapse. Anxiety has managed to seep it’s way in somewhere, only a little bit. More like a light drizzle than a full blown storm. I realised because I’d started worrying about strange things like where I’d normally walk and feel safe I’ve started walking in busier places again, just incase. When I’d go to sleep for a few hours (I don’t sleep much now anyway) I’d wake up at 2am and convince myself someone could try to break in. When my son was picked up to go to footie instead of watching something on tv or writing, I sat imagining the worst until he came back through the door. And I start thinking I’m getting ill. A lot. Again.

The best thing is, since I talked to someone about this 3 years ago, I’m not scared of it any more, I know I will get better and because of that I’m nowhere near as ill as I was a few years ago because I’m not frightened and I’m also not pretending that I’m fine. In fact I am actually genuinely feeling pretty much very fine. I’m thriving in my new job, I’ve lots of plans and holidays coming up, I’ve a lovely life. That’s the thing with anxiety (and I’m sure other mental health issues) it can seep in whenever it pleases at times but by talking about it with someone we trust and who can help we can also eliminate it as we would a headache with paracetamol and some rest, we wouldn’t ignore a migraine so why ignore your mental health

As I write this I know some people will think I’m exposing myself but someone else will, I hope, read it and feel some hope of their own.

Most importantly for me .. I can talk about it.. to you! That helps more than you know x

Thanks for listening.

Happy Sunday

Xx

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The great outdoors

On Wednesday I had a meeting in mid-Wales. I got up at half 5, walked the dogs, hoovered, put some washing out and left in what I thought was plenty of time. 5 roadwork stops later and trying to get through the building of a new by-pass I arrive. Flustered. Hot. 20 mins late.

The journey home was a bit better but as I got in I was feeling tired, unmotivated and unenergised.

I thought of trying to coerce the dogs into just a bit of ball throwing so I could crash on the sofa but instead I headed out with them and found myself heading for a walk to a place I can see around me but haven’t been to. The panorama.

Half way up I realise I’ve forgotten my camera and I’m annoyed. It’s a glorious calm electric blue day, the sun fills my face with warmth and as I get to the narrow road at the top I climb a little higher and turn around. To the view.

It’s completely incredible. 30 minutes ago I was all urgh from my day and now I feel euphoric. The view! It’s exquisite. I am actually buzzing inside from the natural drug around me. The outdoors. The great Welsh outdoors.

I had no camera so can’t show you it. So this is the photo in words.

It’s green. So so green. All kinds of shades of green emerald, jade, light, dark. The trees look like they’ve been painted to perfection, they almost seem pretend because they shine and they’re still and uniformed. The river glistens and winds quietly through this picture of natural beauty. The road is far away and a few cars can be seen. The town looks so small from here and there’s an inner realisation of how tiny we are on this huge planet. There’s not a cloud in the sky.

Close by the sheep wander happily eating the sumptuous grass amongst the silver grey rocks. As I look up the rockface leans over me the size of a high rise and huge boulders stand with seeming trepadation about whether they may decide to move at some point. The forest to the left of where I am feels different and I realise it’s because I’m standing with the tops of the trees. I look down to their roots where the sun can’t quite get to. I realise too I’m not alone as I spy a motorbike in the distance, parked with two helmets alongside. The riders sit precariously on the edge of a cliff. Daredevils.

I’m actually whispering to myself. Look at this. Look at where I live. I live here!

So. I couldn’t take a photo but I hope I did it some justice.

That’s it this week. Just a little story about how this beautiful place we live in can transform how we feel in a few minutes. If we just picture it.

Happy Sunday xxx

Kicks for free?

When’s the last time you did anything for free? Probably just yesterday I hear you say when you washed up or hoovered or worked in the garden. Things we usually do like this for free are still usually for some reward.. we get to live in a clean house, a pretty garden etc.

When I studied psychology I came across the word altruism as a young woman in her early 20s. I hadn’t heard of it before and I still find the idea of whether we actually ever do anything completely altruistically or not an interesting concept. Do we ever do something for free and for no reward?

I thought I was doing so last Sunday. I volunteered to be a marshall for a 10k race. When I realised it was going to be a Sunday morning at 8.30am on bank holiday weekend after a night out in Manchester I was re thinking my offer to volunteer!! However up I got and at 8.40am found myself directing cars on a field wearing a green fluorescent jacket (these jackets have powers.. they make people think you know what you’re doing!) and shortly after this I was in a field next to a pole that said marshall and I waited in the sunny silence for the runners to reach their half way point.

An incredibly short time later the first runner appeared along the canal parallel to my standing point. He had a kilometre or so to get to me.. I watched him enter the field and make his way around the orange markers finally heading towards me where I nervously clapped my hands and muttered well done pointing him on his way to the next marker! As the elite runners made headway the next batch came through ….my marshalling confidence grew as I made some ‘jokes” about beer being available at the next stop and even conducted a mexican wave all by myself. The runners seemed amused thankfully.

So was this me being altruistic?! Was this me giving my time up for nothing in return. As it turns out. Absolutely not.

From the moment I stepped on the field the buzz from the runners was infectious. The excitement oozed into my brain. I met new people and I haven’t been in a situation where so much gratitude was shown for a long time. Certainly not in any paid work! How so many runners managed to say thank you as they ran past in that heat, already tired, I don’t know. But it made me feel good.

So there’s my little story from this week. The best I’ve felt in a long time is volunteering on a sunny hill in North Wales. Working without pay isn’t on the top of most people’s list but the pay on this occasion far outweighed pounds and pence!

Happy Sunday everyone x x x