Pink shorts and snow.

Everything is relative isn’t it. Sometimes I hear myself complain about stuff and I instantly feel bad and that saying ‘there’s others worse off’ rings in my head.

Still. I found myself getting pretty frustrated/almost crying as I tried to get to work on Friday. Accidents, delays, gripping the steering wheel tight at 10mph. It’s amazing what chaos a few inches of snow can cause.

As I write this I’ve been driving for 4 hours and 26 minutes. I want a wee and my stomach is growling. It took me this long to start to think that this could in any way be a positive experience.

Then I looked out of my passenger window.

At this point the guy in front got out of his car to take a look at what was causing the delay. A portly guy with a red beard having a cigarette. We chatted and I was introduced to his 2 year old twins and 3 month old new baby. His clothes had been left at home in the dryer he explained. Hence the pink shorts.

After five hours and five minutes I sprinted through my door straight to the bathroom! I felt so agitated as I’d stressed myself out during the 5 hour journey so I decided to take my laptop and go off to the local Italian cafe. Before I knew it I’d ordered a goats cheese salad and a large glass of sauvignon!!

As I sat there the snow literally fell all around and I was smiling as I looked out of the cafe window. An elderly man keeping his wife upright as they braced the slippery path. School children walking by, incredulous that the school staff had taken advantage of the closure and were enjoying a bottle or two in the cafe. A group of boys having a snowball fight. A matching set of snowmen sitting on my street with babybel cheese for eyes. Two American young women sitting in the snow screeching and taking selfies and best of all a young boy of about 3 who excitedly told me his grandad was taking him sledging for the first time.

My stress started to seep away as I took in the positives of the snowfall. And from today’s new batch it looks like I’ll be forced to slow down again and spend my Sunday finding a few more things to be grateful for.

Happy Sunday xx

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Don’t worry?

I heard a comedian on the radio talk about how he dealt with ‘life’. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control he said. He woke up every morning and thought about what he could control that day and he’d only give his time and energy to those things.

What a good idea I thought.

I’ve always been told I’m a born worrier.

I don’t think I was a born worrier actually. It’s something I’ve learnt to do.

So. How do we just stop worrying about what we can’t control?

This week two people very special to me have had their lives changed forever by loss of loved ones. One who commented often on my blog. We can’t control people dying and leaving us. Can we really stop ourselves worrying about it though? My experiences have at times heightened my worries around death. Understandably so. Worrying though changed absolutely nothing. My tearing myself into a ball of anxiety isn’t going to stop bad.. or good things happening out of my control.

A quote that sticks with me is that worrying is like carrying around an umbrella waiting for the rain. It’s a lesson that I’m learning and I’ll keep trying to learn every single day. Concentrate on what’s actually happening now and not on what we’ve no control of tomorrow.

Worrying may be ingrained within our busy chaotic unpredictable lives. We just need to balance it out with the stuff that makes us feel good too. We can control all kinds of things… hugs, smiles, picking up the phone, walks, taking that photograph, kindness…. it makes far more sense to direct our energy into actions that make us feel better. Things we have control over.

I wonder what J may have said about my blog this week. Something articulate, funny and utterly sensible no doubt.

Give someone an extra big hug today xxx

Sorry, can I just..

There was a couple of minutes this week that reminded me of something I see and hear so often and something I do myself. Though I keep trying not to. Over apologising.

I was driving to a meeting. It was early. We’re all a bit impatient at that time and everyone is rushing. A woman in her 40s approached a zebra crossing with a worn laptop bag in her gloved hands. There were two cars in front of me. The first car deliberated a little too long about whether he could get over the zebra crossing before the woman stepped out.

He couldn’t.

She had moved up a gear with her steps. Also late no doubt. She was a quarter of the way across at about the same time car number one realised he wasn’t going to avoid her if he kept going. So he brakes. Really suddenly.

The woman doesn’t stop walking. She side steps away slightly, still managing to stay on the black and white surface. Then. Incredibly. She lifts her hand and looks at the driver. Waving. Mouthing thank you. And also mouthing sorry!!! She was thanking the driver for not running her over and apologising for being there in the first place!!!

It made me think how we are always apologising for things even when there’s no need.

I’ve tried to remove sorry from my vocabulary unless I really mean it. So I’ve stopped saying.. . Sorry can I ask you
.. sorry can I just… sorry do you have? It’s hard but there really is no need to be sorry all the time for no reason!!!

One area that I’ve not managed that so well is when I talk about Tes. I still find it hard to say all I want for fear of upsetting or bringing people down. I always apologise and sometimes even the next day send an apology text because it’s on my mind that I’ve ruined an evening. This week though I at least stopped myself doing the texting after a lovely dinner with an old friend. She had reassured me it was fine to talk. Even about the black bits. I’m slowly learning I need to stop feeling bad and apologetic about that.

So. Less apologising and more being ourselves. Has to be healthier for our busy minds eh?

Lots of love on this Sunday xx

Choosing

Three episodes happened this week and I reacted differently each time. Only the third time did I feel happy about how I responded. When I reflected, I realised that how I behaved resulted in how I felt.

First off I visited my 91year old Nain (Nanna) at hospital. We got there unfortunately at lunch time. Quite quickly and sternly we were told one of us would have to leave. Having visited my Nain at this hospital before on a different ward I hadn’t thought it would be an issue as we had never been asked to leave. The ward had 5 patients and only 3 visitors between them. I asked the staff member if we could stay and explained the hours journey we had. No. Maximum one per bed, she said. In my mind I thought we could spread ourselves amongst the other patients and the rule would then be adhered to. I volunteered this solution and was given a wry smile. A stand off ensued. Not wanting to create more of an issue in front of my Nain I backed down and left. In a huff. And annoyed. Feeling the glare of the sister who’s name I had asked for, piercing my back.

The second scenario. I was walking to the chemist yesterday when I heard a raised voice of a guy. I turned around to see a couple in their 20s. He was shouting at her angrily. I slowed down. He grabbed her arm as she reached for (presumably) their child in the back seat. He continued to shout vitriolic accusations towards her as he manoeuvred her away heavily shutting the back door on the child. You’ve made a fool of me, he shouted. I didn’t, she weakly replied, starting to cry. Then she got into the passenger seat. I watched them drive away and I worried what would happen when they got home. I thought about it all day. The fact I did nothing sat badly. I’m still not sure what I could’ve done. It happened so quickly.

Third scenario. I stopped at a pet shop to get the pooch a new lead during the week. I got out of the car and spotted a well dressed woman about 50 yds away sitting on the cold pavement, looking very out of place. I wondered if she was ok as other people seemed to walk past. I almost went into the shop but I couldn’t. I turned back and walked over to her. Are you ok? Yes dear, she explained she had lost her keys!!! We had a chat about where they could be and I left. Thanks so much, she shouted. In the pet shop as I tried to choose a harness the lady appeared again. No luck? I asked. She shook her head and said no and started looking inside the Christmas dog toys. I started to look with her. By now two employees were also helping and a guy who was in buying hamster stuff had put that down and joined in too. Having felt like we had looked through every dog chew and collar in the place there was still no sight of the keys.

The woman went off to phone the AA as myself and the hamster man decided to try one more time amongst the cuddly toys. The guy almost disappeared into the vat of green stuffed animals. All smiles he appeared. With the keys!! He ran outside and gave them to the very grateful and happy woman. Thank you. Thank you!!

Three stories. Three different endings.

It’s not rocket science but how we behave towards someone , ultimately, is the feeling with what we are left with inside. So being kind doesn’t just help the other person. It helps you and me too. Win Win!

Happy Sunday xxx

The Americans

My other half arrived on Friday evening for the weekend. That’s what I love about you. What?? I said. I can knock on the door with two strangers and you just let them in, without question.

Of course. I thought. Probably one of the top reasons why we get on so well, being similar in that way. What’s the saying? People are only strangers until they become your friends? Something like that.

So. The strangers. Other half found the woman and man lost outside. They’re from Florida. Now they’re standing in a damp dark cold bit of North Wales and I can’t help immediately wonder why they’re here.. and not in sunny Florida! Anyway, they’re looking for an Air BnB that they’ve booked. Apparently on this street.

They’re both of similarly round short figures. He’s got a shaved head and tells me he ships antiques as he strokes my refurbished nest of tables. She wears a faux fur jacket and has bobbed hair with red streaks. It transpires the other half has rescued them from a cross woman who’s door they had knocked on in error. What do you want? She scowled. You’ve got the wrong house. She shuts the door.

They stood there perplexed.

So… where’s this house? I ask. The house they think it is… isn’t it… clearly. I connect them to the Wi-Fi so they can try and find more info but the address is wrong so we dig a bit further. Can I see the house? There a picture of a lovely looking grey Victorian 5 storey home and I’m pretty sure I might know where it is. It’s raining by now so I get my jacket and put the torch on my phone and off I go with the two Americans strolling up the road. I walk fast and they struggle to keep up with me so I slow a little. Convinced I’ve found the house I use the heavy brass door knock but the house is in darkness. No reply.

The Americans are tired and now also damp. Not put off my mission I knock on next door and eventually a guy peeks out from the back looking at us with suspicion. I explain the predicament and although at first he’s clearly not sure about us I think he has recognised me vaguely so he says he will ring the owners. Americans start to hopefully smile and I leave the woman waiting and walk back home with the guy beside me as he gets their car and their luggage.

I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time here, I say. It’s a fab town. We will, he says and tells me he’s watched a lot of documentaries about the town. Also my descendants were Evans he says. So I have a Welsh line. Oh.. I say. My previous surname was Evans.

He stops in his tracks and looks at me incredulously.

Evans??!

He bellows and laughs out loud.

Geee.

Evans?

He laughs from the depths of his stomach and it’s apparent he thinks we’re practically related….. he see’s me as a distant relative even.

A friend.

And I guess in a small way.. by opening the door to these strangers.. we are just that.

It doesn’t take much to change someone’s day.

Happy Sunday xxx

Timing

In the whole time I’ve written my blog I’ve never said that I’ve been hurt by anyone’s words after I lost Tes. In fact I’ve always been on their side. I’ve heard it all. From.. you’ll never get over it (that’s a brilliant one when you already feel like throwing yourself under a bus) to… don’t worry I won’t walk on the other side of the road like others will when I see you… to.. at least you still have a child…. to …. at least you got to have children.

I still believe that nobody ever tries to be upsetting when they impart this advice but also it’s time from my perspective to say what helps and what might not.

This week without realising the fog lifted that bit higher. I took some hours owing and finished work a little earlier on Wednesday and spent an hour to myself in the new town I live buying some fruit at the local shop and choosing cheese at the deli. I wandered around a couple of vintage shops. During this time someone I vaguely know came up to me. She moved her head to one side slightly and frowned a little. “Still managing to get up each day, dear? Well done”.

Of course the intention is good. How do I feel? Guilty. Sad. Reminded. Fog falls a little. I go home.

So. Can you give advice to help with grief? I’m not sure. It’s sensitive. It’s unique. Maybe though these things might help you or that person dealing with loss so as hard a read it is and as hard as it is for me to write these are some of the things I think about helping someone with loss.

1. Never say… you’ll never get over it. Even if it’s true, nobody when they’re feeling at their lowest …wants to hear this. Ever. Plus. We already know this to be true..

2. Don’t tell parents to be grateful to have had children/have a child left. They’re grateful and they love their child as much as ever but their other child has died. Simple.

3. Be tactful. If that person looks like they’re having a nice time this may not be the time to remind them of their loss. Same goes for texting. I’ve been out with friends only to receive a comment about how nice Tes’s grave looks. Well intended but ruined my afternoon. I don’t like her grave. I never will and I’ll never think it looks nice.

4. Don’t stop talking about your own child.. even the bad bits.. like how much they’re driving you nuts. It’s fine and although there may be tinges of wishful thinking or what could’ve been it’s important to feel your friends are being themselves around you

5. Talk. Be there. Grief is horrid and people have gone quiet even disappeared because I guess for all these reasons of fear of saying the wrong thing. Yes it’s hard to find the right words and we all get it wrong but being there and trying are the most important bit.

I’m not sure this is useful or whether it’s just a cathartic bit of writing. It’s not meant to be critical or dictating, it won’t suit everyone.

I suppose sometimes we just want to forget about grief… just for a bit. I can still feel the part of my heart where it sits in half a second. I can point to it. Sometimes though I want to shop and eat and laugh and pretend it’s gone. Just for a short time and I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Those moments without grief are rare and that might be the time to allow that person to have that moment.

Hope you have a lovely Sunday xx

Childish

Us adults have become quite sensible haven’t we. Conditioned by school and society to behave in a certain way. Be polite. Go to work. Fit in. Wear the right clothes. Watch the same programmes.

Stress, anxiety and depression are massive problem and I think these pressures to fit in and be like everyone else or worse… better than everyone else don’t help at all.

So I’m advocating some rebelling!! I’m not suggesting we all dye our hair green (but why not!). Move out of that familiar zone.

I started this week by a little regression. On my bike ride on Wednesday afternoon along the canal I purposely rode my bike through every puddle. Like 6 year old me would. The mud splashed all over my clothes and on my face. I giggled inside.

When I walked the dogs later that day I ran and kicked through the autumn leaves watching the colours briefly leave the floor. For some reason it felt naughty and a bit silly… adults don’t kick leaves? Why not?!

Talking. We’ve stopped talking to strangers. A child will walk into the park and make a new friend in seconds. Adults may, at best, politely smile at a stranger. We met a couple yesterday asking directions. We ended up seeing them three times over the day and they waved us off on our bike ride back home like old friends!!

Maybe if we delved back to our younger selves a bit more we’d feel less heavy.

Skim stones. Wear what you want. Shout. Laugh out loud. Tell jokes. Be less self conscious. Paint. Draw. Write stories. Blow bubbles. Be amazed by everything you see. Think just about the present moment. Talk to anyone. Roll in mud. Kick those leaves.

We can’t do it all the time but we can definitely kick against those rules some more of the time!

Happy Sunday xx