It’s a sign…

Bit of a grumble this week. It’s been bugging me off and on for a few weeks now.

I often walk along the gorgeous river Dee with branches sweeping over the narrow paved trail, the ducks gather in safe places and occasionally I see my new friend the magnificent silver grey heron. Sitting tall and splendidly still, waiting. I like to walk here after the visitors have gone home and I often sit on the slate like stones while my dogs sniff and discover the crumbs of what tourists may have left behind. On one side the view is of the bridge and the silhouette of the town in the distance and on the other the river widens and above sit the hills.

Sitting there after work gives me a rare moment where I sometimes do nothing and just look at the river rushing up in places, it’s fairly noisy but not in a bad way, in a soothing way. I’ve always loved the sound of water.

So – you may be thinking where’s the grumble?!

On my way to this beautiful place I pass many things that I find annoying. It’s not just here, it’s absolutely everywhere. Signs. Signs that tell us what to do. Signs actually that usually tell us what NOT to do.

No feeding the ducks

No ball games

No dogs off leads

No dog poo

No drinking

No littering

Use this park at your own risk

No anti-social behaviour

They remind me of that old Billy Connolly sketch when he talks about parents who put ‘child on board’ signs on their car. Thank ****, Connolly says, because otherwise I was seriously thinking of ramming into that car but now I’ve seen that sign, I won’t!

You might think these signs are all valid points and really they are BUT do we really need them to tell us how to behave. Again I can hear you say well some people might but really?? If you’re going to let your dog poo on the grass a sign won’t stop you and if you’re going to fall off a swing a sign won’t stop you. The reason I don’t throw litter isn’t because of a sign.

Really what grates on me is the negativity and the crazy health and safety messages that seem to deter us from having a good time. I refer to the book that more or less ‘saved my life’ as a woman in her early 20s (Feel the Fear and do it Anyway) – and in one part it said that parents often warned their children of the dangers as they left. Be careful. Watch out. Don’t go down any dark alleys. Etc etc. I’m one of the worst for doing this!! In the book she advocates instead that we say ‘have fun and take risks today’!!! That might sound a little far-fetched but living in this climate of fear and worry and rules and regulations can’t be good for us.

So I advocate we have more signs!!….

Something like…

Have fun today

Enjoy the slide

Have a Prosecco or two

Play with your kids

Put your phone away and have a chat

Take 5 minutes and listen to the river

Say hello to a stranger

Tell a joke

Lie down and look up at the sky

See how high you can go on the swing

Smile at the world

Those kind of signs I might take notice of.

Happy Sunday

XxX

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Less saying NO..

Summer holidays equals a lot of parents trying to think every day of some way to entertain the kids over those long six weeks. I’m not in that boat anymore but a visit by a 9 year old got me scratching my head about what we could do. We eventually settled on mountain biking.

Now…. for some reaaon I had thought this was going to be a leisurely ride around the woods in Llandegla but just on a mountain bike I haven’t ever been ‘proper’ mountain biking before. This didn’t fully dawn on me until a lot later.

Even the slow incline that continued to climb… for some reason gave me no clue about what I was going to face. We assured the 9 year old… just around this corner it’ll be a flat. It wasn’t to be though for at least 25 more corners.

Doesn’t sound much fun so far? The thing is it was. The bikes we had hired were fantastic and we cycled up fairly easily. The view of the trees standing proudly 80 ft above us wavering under the partly blue sky took our minds off any concerns of not being able to make it.

Then finally the promise of the flat became a reality and the climb stopped. At this point I STILL had no idea what lay ahead. The track narrowed slightly and we came to a sign that advised us this was the beginning of the ‘blue descent’.

I was still quite naive thinking it’d just be a nice easy hill back to the car park.

I was last to go.

The screeches coming from the two that went ahead as I let my bike begin to free wheel did start to raise some alarm bells. The squeals echoed all the way around me as my bike caught speed. What happened next was probably the most exhilarating 30 minutes of my life for a very long time!!!

The track narrowed and the descent increased, as I cycled over the first small jump I joined in with the involuntary squeals, partly terrified. The bike manoeuvred through the track approaching the corners with an occasional screech of the tyres turning to the next obstacle. I continued the cycle down through dirt and puddles. My face splattered with mud as I got more confident and increased speed. The trees became more of a blur as I felt overwhelmed by this sense of freedom and risk taking and FUN that I hadn’t felt for a long time. The sound of the wheels brushed fiercely against the soil and I felt exhilarated and ever so slightly out of control as the bike increased its speed again . At one point i found myself momentarily (and I do mean a split second!) off the ground and as my heart found it’s way back from my mouth I gripped the handlebars tighter, smiling from ear to ear!

As the track began to ease and a reservoir appeared to my left we found ourselves back at the car park. The three of us couldn’t stop giggling we laughed at our muddy legs and faces.

It’s never too late to get our there and try something new!! Even when you don’t exactly know what you’re getting into to!

Less saying No and more saying YES!

Happy Sunday xxx

Standing still

When’s the last time you stood still for more than 30 seconds?

When’s the last time you stood still for more than 30 seconds outside?

And closed your eyes and let the sun glow through your skin and feel the warmth on your cheeks?

Not often I’d bet.

We are much more relaxed and have been normalised by being slave to our morning alarm, rushing breakfast, getting to work with seconds to go, having half conversations with people because we’re too busy, shouting at drivers who get in our way. It’s far easier to throw down a sandwich and rush a text when a call would be so much nicer. We do three things at once and live to work rather than the other way around.

We’re sleeping less due to the stress and then feeling impatient while doing more the next day. There’s no wonder most of us are exhausted. Rushing around is a far easier state of mind than taking a moment for yourself. A real moment. Not one with the phone or tv.

I tried it this week. It was 6pm and I was at the end of my normal 12hr shift of dogs work drive family food dogs kind of day ….and as I walked along the path towards the field bathed in sunshine I realised I didn’t know how I’d got there. I couldn’t remember the walk. So when I got to the field. I stopped. The dogs looked at me funny. I looked to make sure nobody could see me! Then I stopped. I turned towards the orange rays and closed my eyes and stood still. I felt momentarily silly however this was replaced quite soon with a feeling of calm and serenity. I stood there for about a minute. Eyes shut. Just taking it in. The warmth, the peacefulness, the quiet, the me!

When you take a moment to be still and you find it difficult it’s surely telling us something. To take more moments?

Happy Sunday xxx

Doing nothing.

I received a message this week from a friend. She reminded me a few years ago she talked to me about a sensitive issue and after a long discussion I’d said. Do nothing. Be there, love them but do nothing. They will come to you when the times right.

Turns out she did nothing. For about 4 years. One day the person came to them. Grateful for the space and love waiting and thankful for the space given.

I do remember the conversation. What I felt when I got this message is I really need to start taking my own advice!! I am impatient. I want things to happen today. I hate waiting for things. Like everyone else I’m constantly learning and this small message from my friend has reminded me that this is one area of my life I need to work on. I get knots in my stomach when I’m waiting. Seconds can seem like days. Minutes like weeks.

We’re not used to waiting any more. Music can be bought in a second, films downloaded. Friends can be instantly contacted and we’ve all been there knowing that message has been opened but not received a reply!! We can order food to our door in minutes and read a book without even holding it.

With that we’ve lost so much.

I loved popping to HMV to pick out a CD as a teenager. It wasn’t just the shop but the buzz of the people, the posters, the physical feel of the headphones as you stood listening to your favourite artist. A downloaded film can never beat the experience of the cinema where the smell of popcorn and the inability to pause makes it wholly different. Talking on the phone or even better face to face over a glass of wine will always beat an instant message and taking time to cook a meal, play with spices and new recipes will always taste better than a take out.

Of course this is the society we live in now. Having everything in an instant is how it is but sometimes waiting for something can mean so much more….. we just have to learn to be patient!

Happy Sunday xx

What’s a family?

Friday night was special to me and epitomizes what family is.

Most of us are no longer part of the 2.4 white picket fence brigade and if you’ve ever been the one that stepped out of that comfort zone you’ll know it’s a tough journey. People aren’t generally sympathetic to decisions that mean comfortable normality has been broken.

Whispers about what this will do to the children and rolled eyes that last many years telling you without words you’ll be sorry bore into your back. Single parents still, I feel, are treated as somewhat second class when it comes to the ideal family.

It means you always have to try harder. It means when your children do something perfectly normal like have a toddler tantrum or get into trouble at school you’ll feel at fault because you did this, you’re the single parent. You feel judged. Always.

On Friday I popped in to see my son at his dads. It didn’t start off well as there was an unfortunate dog poo incident which found me saying sorry a lot and ended with me on my hands and knees with Ecover trying to get it out of the white rug.

Ex wasn’t best pleased. He went off to the park and his little one wanted me to come too. I adore that! This little unrelated person belonging to my ex loves me. After a chat with my son I followed on to the park where football, scooters and a chat with ex on the bench ensued then his lovely wife turns up and I have a second of thinking is this weird for her that she arrives from work to her husband with his ex sitting on the bench. But no. I know it isn’t.

Anyway one conversation led to another which basically meant we all spent Friday night together at mine with wine, cheese and chip wraps with garlic mayo (divine), angel cake, cider, long conversations, special one to ones, dogs chasing balls, cheering on Mo at the athletics, the occasional tear and lots of laughter.

What’s a family?

That’s it isn’t it. It can be any shape. The most important aspect is that your family…. be it with cats and dogs or a partner or with ten children or none…. is your comfort blanket. A warm place of imperfections and love.

Happy Sunday xxx

Where has Wonder Woman gone?

I’ve been deliberating whether to write about ‘this’ today because ‘this’ isn’t a happy subject. In fact that’s why most of us pretend ‘this’ isn’t going on because we don’t want to put ‘it’ on others.

So what is it?

There’s a few names I have for it… the black cloud, sadness, grief….my bad Tesni days seems to be the closest to how I properly describe it. It probably happens every 6 months or so. I think it’s a build up of what’s there that eventually has to surface.

It started Sunday night and it ended properly on Friday. It arrives with force. Tears. Lots of them. Wailing. Stomach hurting tears. Swollen eyes. Lack of interest in anything. Bed becomes the only place I want to be and I sleep. For the first time in months I sleep. Properly. Lots of sleep. I made myself work on Wednesday from home and Thursday I dragged myself back to work. I felt like I was walking around with water swimming in my head. Like I wasn’t really fully in the moment.

Not sure why I’m telling you this. I write about things in my life, what I see and feel. A lot of it is positive but I’d feel a fraud to not talk about the purely awful times too.

So how did it stop? Just like if I’d been physically ill I received a prescription. On that prescription were many things and eventually I got well again.

The first dose of medicine came from one of my oldest friends who happened to be back home. A hug. A chat. A glass of wine. It was a start. Secondly when I rang in sick I didn’t lie and say I had ‘a bug’ I told the truth. I was low and not coping. The reaction was just lovely. Almost every person I work with messaged me and when I got back I came in to flowers bought from the reception team and lots of hugs. My partner drove miles to see me in an already busy life even though I was no company. My dogs still insist I walk them and the rivers and trees distract me for a short time. I was taken out for lunch with mum and my boy. Despite being miserable they wanted to spend time with me. I saw my nephews for a short while and even though I couldn’t stay because I was going to cry I love seeing their faces. A phone call from my brother that I couldn’t answer. I knew he was thinking of me. Some photos put through the door from my sis in law which have made my temporary abode feel a bit more personal. Crazy friends who cycled 50 miles (yep!) to catch up. A text from someone I haven’t seen for too long to arrange lunch. A step dad who gives up his morning to help me and an uncle who swore a lot while doing it but got on with some diy at my house.

To be honest the list could go on. It made me realise that we can be very open about our mental health. In fact it was by being honest that I received so much help and although I’m rubbish at accepting help and am fiercely independent and determined to make every day a good one…. sometimes you just have to accept… as my lovely colleague Barbara said to me … for goodness sake Dwysan you’re not Wonder Woman!

The week has ended far more positively and there’s a couple of pieces of exciting news in terms of my house situation but I’ll have to keep some of that until next week… the biggest news is… I know the suspense is killing you.. …YES….. I have a BED!!!!! Hooray!

Bit of a ramble this week. Thanks as ever for reading. Have a lovely Sunday xx

Sauces and scrabble

Firstly. Still no bed. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m living in a Japanese themed bedroom and the mattress on the floor is all part of some unplanned feng shui phase.  Reality is I still have no date for my new house and I’m still mainly eating pizza or mostly going out to eat because I feel quite disasociated in my temporary home.  The house is fine but it is not my ‘home’.

It got me thinking what is a home. I’ve lived in a few houses through my life. 12 actually. Some of those houses I lived in for years and they never really felt like a home. Some for much shorter periods of time that became home.  What makes a place your ‘home’?.   You know that kind of home that even after a lovely holiday you’re excited and glad to step back into it.

For me.

The family inside, the pencil on the wall marking your children’s growth, a flower that miraculously grew from the seed you threw into the soil, the birds that visit regularly, the patch in the garden where the sun warms your skin, the ingredients in the cupboard waiting to be cooked, the postcard on the fridge and the scribbled note kept safely. The pooches playing with a new toy. The red nose that has been left on the wall from a home made Christmas party game. That tea set you had to buy. Heart decorations bought just for you. A box of collected memorabilia. The shells picked up from your favourite beach. A special photo that always makes you smile. Music that you have to dance to. A piece of furniture that you love. A charity shop bought jug full of your favourite flowers. A suitcase of letters from a time before Facebook.  The phone ringing with someone just checking in. A friend popping in for coffee (or wine!). Snuggling under a throw with your favourite film. A game of scrabble. Books.  Chats over dinnertime. Hugs on tap.  A notebook of dreams.  Pennies collecting in a jar.  Candles and fairy lights.   Pillows.  A box of crafts to be made into cards.  Recipes photocopied bearing food splashes.  A favourite mug filled with camomile tea.  The smell of home made tomato and basil sauce simmering. A piano waiting for you to finally learn that piece.  And of course. Most importantly…

Family (furry or not!).

Moments.

Memories.

Safety.

Security.

Love.

…….and also perhaps……..a  comfy bed!!!

I’m so excited to build all these memories again in my new home that will add to life’s memories of my last….

Join me next week for the next episode of…. ‘is Dwysan still sleeping on the floor?’ ….

Happy Sunday everyone xx