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

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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

7th May 1998

Some weeks. There is nothing else that I can possibly write about other than what is right in front of me. Tomorrow would’ve been my daughter Tesni’s 20th birthday.

So. It’s a short blog this week. Birthdays are hard when you’ve lost the person that’s not here any more. But they’re also the day that brought them into our lives. However long that was meant to be for.

It’s something we know but most of us forget often. We’ve got this one life. Hug a lot. Kiss a lot. Hold hands a lot. Tell people you love them. A lot. Work to live. Forget about the small stuff. Take risks. Live for today.

Tes, your birth day was a day of joy, shock, overwhelming love and pride that has never left me. So happy birth day tomorrow my beautiful girl. Wherever you may be.

Some of my favourite pics of you, Tes xx xx

Keeping mum.

I’m inbetween both of my children’s birthdays and like many parents these important days give me time to reflect on my parenting.

Have I been too soft? Spoilt them? Not pushed them enough? Done too much for them? Been around enough? Taught them life skills? Encouraged them to be decent human beings? Opened up their minds?

Parenting.

The best ‘job’ in the world. And the toughest. And the hardest. And the most worrying. And the one that brings out love from your heart that you didn’t know was there that makes anything tough about it insignificant.

As they get older one thing I love is learning from them.

I realised this week despite thinking I’m positive about life I can be seen as someone who is tired and… well… grumpy… about work in particular. I realised that I come home with stories less than flattering about going out to work because I’m focussing on the difficult bits and because of that I’ve made daily life sound sometimes like a bit of a drudgery.

It was a bit of a shock.

I’ve realised what I’ve done. It’s what a lot of us do. The stuff we talk about or relay back that day are the things that stand out. More often the negative stuff about how busy we are or how tired we are or how someone was shouting or how badly someone was driving or how rough the weather is or how annoying a colleague is or how that meeting was dull or .. how tired I am (again).

We don’t often come home and talk about the less noticable parts of our day. I don’t tend to talk about those things. A great piece of music playing on the way to work, the fabulous mountains of scenery that I pass, the thank you cards received and cakes of gratitude for a service from the surgery, the smiles from colleagues and happy tales from their weekend, the comparison and sharing of recipes at the lunch table, the giggles shared from one desk to another, the arrival of a new baby, the talk of a visit to family far away, the tales of wedding planning, the tender support shown through tough times, the hugs, the party planning, the sharing of photos of usually… our dogs or most likely…. our kids!

It reminded me how easy it can be to focus on the negative stuff and we can forgot all the good things happening because they’re almost incidental. For some reason we have some kind of obsession with bad news. Just look at the tv, the newspapers and even social media. It’s not about getting away from those truths but equally some of the nicer stuff should be our headlines too.

 

Happy Sunday x x x

Perception

An event happened this week which reminded me of some advice I’d read many years ago. How you label the event depends on how you experience it.

It can be simple stuff like being stuck in traffic.. . You can decide to get impatient or you can sing along to your favourite tune. Or the person your meeting is late. You can be cross or you can enjoy a few rare moments alone with your thoughts. Or when things don’t turn out as you’d want. You can mull over what should have been or you can label it as a new unexpected opportunity.

So…

I got home from work and I was feeling so positive. I’d got a lot done and things seem to be turning a corner from fire fighting to an element of control. I got home and my gorgeous dogs as usual pounce on me and smile at me (yes!!) And LOVE me so much no matter what mood I’m in I’m utterly in love with them too and the first thing I do is get on my boots and we go for a walk.

I’m wearing my new tartan dress this day. I’ve decided winter is setting in so I’ve got my new “thermal’ tights on too!! You know you get those days where you just feel good. I was feeling good.

We went on our walk down past the river. It was a beautiful night and there were a few tourists around. I smiled as I passed them and the dogs barked as they were excited waiting for the ball. I played ball with them and youngest pooch ran back and forth for 20 minutes. A guy at the park with his son looked over and smiled a few times. I could see he must be impressed at my dog with her recall skills. Me too!

I then walked back around the green damp grounds and passed a woman who said hello and smiled. I took a left and sat by the river for a few minutes and enjoyed the sound of the swell. I decided on this occasion to walk back through town which I don’t do often. I pass the guys I’ve got to know at a restaurant. They all said hi and smile and I walked through town . I passed two couples in their 60s all in leather bike gear carrying helmets. I smiled. They smiled too. I stopped at some shop windows and peered in at jewellery that I’d had my eye on and waved at the woman at the till. I passed the deli that sells my favourite artisan bread and crossed over passing the ice cream parlour that hosts the most divine vegan ice cream. The dogs greeted two Dalmatians and I chatted pleasantries with their owners.

As I got back I saw my neighbour and shouted hello. She seemed to avert her eyes a little and wasn’t so enthusiastic but she said hello back.

We got back in. The dogs were tired and I was ready to make dinner. I bent down to open the fridge and somehow my hand caught up in my new tartan dress. But it didn’t just catch, it was stuck. In my dress. In my dress that was also firmly totally tucked in to my thermal rights. At the front. My dress was totally tucked in to my tights.

So as I’d walked happily around and felt warm at the smiles of strangers it dawned very quickly on me that these were less smiles of politeness but more likely smiles of embarrassment. Smiles of cringe. Smiles of poor thing.

For a few seconds I felt a bit sick. I’d made a total fool of myself. I’d walked around my home town with my skirt tucked in my pants!!! Then I looked and I thought. You know what. My legs aren’t bad. My legs are ok. So what

People saw my legs. In tights. When I hadn’t intended. So what. I’m proud of those legs. I laughed at myself and with that I untucked myself. Poured a glass of wine. And got on with dinner.

What’s the saying.. .. life is what you make it!

Happy Sunday xxx