Porcupine

The other morning despite getting up when the town sounded fast asleep and the stars were just disappearing while the sky remained black and the street lights shone orange beams on to the pavement… I still find myself two hours later rushing around to get out of the door so that I could get to work on time. Mascara was to blame.

I have a pink and orange floral box on my 70s wooden retro dressing table, it has some make up and bits inside. The main function of the contents is to assist the morning transformation from porcupine like hair to smooth shiny locks and magic a face of sleep lines and still tired eyes to one where creams and colour erase a miraculous fifteen years from my birth year. That’s the hope anyway.

At the end of this ten-minute routine (cheeky…. it doesn’t take *that * long) I searched for the item needed to finalise the job, my new black mascara which also promises to make my lashes thicker by a zillion times with the also subtle promise that with one sweep of black liquid I’d walk out the door looking and feeling like Kate Moss.

I couldn’t find it and I convinced myself it was lost so despite the small size of the floral orange and pink box and despite rustling through it more than ten times which now also made me ten minutes late… I couldn’t find it.

I began therefore to open drawers and start scattering head bands and paracetamol and used face wipes and odd socks but I still could’t find the mascara that was going to change me from scarecrow to supermodel. I empty another drawer finding a Bluetooth speaker and another European plug adapter. Why do those disappear right about the time you set off on your next foreign holiday and then magically reappear as soon as you’ve bought a new one?! I digress.

With my bedroom now looking like it should belong on ‘storage wars’ I go back to the box for one more look. I know it’s there. I need to calm myself down, move away from mascara gate and take it slower. I need to stop looking so hard. I look again as my mobile phone glares at me… telling me I have a few minutes left before I need to leave. Behind the tinted moisturiser I spot plump mascara noir sitting alone and I grab it, thankfully. My naked eyes are saved.

As usual it’s often a small moment from my week that leads me to other random thoughts and in this case specifically how sometimes we can search so hard for something, we miss what’s right in front of us.

How many of us search for the perfect house, job, experiences , wealth, friends, holidays, love, evening, weekend, look…. when just like the mascara it’s more likely a lot of those things are right in front of us should we take a bit more notice. Our landscape, the sea and the trees not yet explored , friends not yet met, overlooked items bought but forgotten, a home undiscovered, unfound friendship, love.. right in front of your eyes.

I suppose it was a strange reminder as I searched for the mascara that all of us probably spend an infinite time looking for something we think that’ll make our life better when if we looked around us a bit closer. It might just be right there.

Happy Sunday x

I will, always.

I’m into Whitney Houston at the moment.

I was driving along to meet my very gorgeous friend during the week and had ‘I will always love you’ on LOUD! I drove through my small town towards the traffic lights passing the painted white houses and the restaurant with the blue chairs outside.

And Iiiiiiiiii will always love you…..I SING out loud, I even dance a little in my seat Also in those few seconds I have my usual little day dream while singing. Though this one was an extension of my normal one. The daydream is the one where I have had secret singing lessons and all of the sudden I can actually sing because I do know I can’t sing even though I sound like I CAN sing when I’m singing along. I know I can’t because I’ve done that thing where I’ve pressed mute during the song and I actually then hear my cat like screeches rather than the Whitney esque tone that I think I sound like.

Anyway, in my little day dream I’ve had some singing lessons and I’ve applied for X factor secretly and I get to audition for Simon and I go through the story in my head and the fact he rolls his eyes at my age and then I start to sing and the whole judging panel smile in awe of this Welsh beautiful perfect sweet voice and they get up on their feet and the audience is dancing and it ends with a standing ovation. In addition, in this little day dream, it’s televised too and I imagine the faces of my family and friends watching me on TV, shocked at my new singing talent.

We all have these daydreams right??!!

Anyway I drive towards the traffic lights, I’m so excited to see my mate – we haven’t had a proper catch up in months and she’s one of those that just makes you feel good inside, you can cry with, you can laugh until you almost pee yourself with, you can talk politics or talk lipstick with. I’m singing along and I’m going through the X factor dream and I catch myself thinking, I’m happy. I’m feeling happy.

I am happy much of the time I’m sure but I rarely catch myself knowing and recognising that happy feeling in my belly.

BANG!

The whole world stops for the tiniest of seconds and there it is.

GUILT.

This won’t be pleasant to read but I say it as it is – a voice comes into my head and immediately tells me off. Don’t you remember your daughter has died?… it says. Don’t you remember you are a bereaved mother? How can you be happy? How could you feel happy? Don’t you remember??

It feels like my life has stopped, it really does.

It feels like a breezeblock has been placed on my head and it has the word GUILT painted on it.

I can’t hear Whitney any more as my happiness drains from my body through my feet making a dart for the car door, I almost forget where I am but I realise I’m at the traffic lights and it has just turned green, my concentration is poor for a portion of that second because I think I can turn right but just realise in time I can’t and I have to give way to oncoming traffic. Because I’m distracted away from guilt for that split second, I gain a little bit of energy and I have slightly dented GUILT because I had to remove focus from it to concentrate on driving. It’s all it takes, it has taken many years of practicing to get here but I have just gained the upper hand against guilt because I have taken away it’s power by focussing on something else. With that I gain momentum and I kill the last bit of guilt by turning up the volume to the highest level, imagine myself back on the X factor stage and continue to sing (using that term very loosely) out loud along with Whitney.

And I… will always love you, ooh…..Will always love you…You….My darling, you…

I will always love you. We always will love them. Those we loved who aren’t here. We will always love them. We are also allowed to be happy.

Guilt 0. Happy 1.

Happy Sunday XXX

Destiny

My mind constantly hurtles from one concern to the next…. am I doing a good job? Do I spend enough time with my dogs? Can I stop Brexit? How do I stop thinking about mushrooms and Trump? Or more random things like does the sign on the motorway telling people to drive responsibly make any difference?? to…should I get a piercing? (I’m sooo in the throws of an almost mid life crisis).

It also jumps from one idea, this week’s is I’d like to become a photographer… (if you know me you’ll know I’ll probably end up doing it!!)… just signed up to a 10 week course since writing this first draft!……..or maybe I should be a counsellor… or write that book.. . Or actually turn that idea into a business.. …

I get a new job and I’m always wondering is there something else better out there. I move house yet I still get new property alerts.. . just incase! I can be impulsive yet careful… risky yet risk averse. My mind is rarely on pause.

I give myself a hard time quite a lot. I often feel I don’t quite fit in to my surroundings because I’m always wondering what’s next, is there something more?…what else could I do rather than stand still??.. but I’ve learnt my inquisitive, impulsive, busy, sometimes risky mind has led me to many many happy times and life experiences too that I’d never ever give up.

The road to where we are standing right now is the most complex narrow windy full of potholes journey that we could ever imagine. Yet we are very much programmed from school to all be the same and with that I think many of us lose our individuality, conforming to what’s socially acceptable in relationships, work and beyond.

We are programmed to believe power, exams, money, security are what’s important. Most of us are paying a large proportion of our wages into a pension pot, when people my age are destined to work until they’re at least 67. We, on average, are only expected to live until we’re 77!!! What the actual hell is that about??! Working hard and saving hard (which therefore renders us mostly skint now) for, if we are lucky, ten years of life away from work that to be frank is not going to be at the time in our life when we are likely to be feeling as well as we do now!!

Our destiny has been written out for us, unless we choose otherwise. Exams. University. Money. Power. A big house. Being in a relationship just because. Newest car. Design labels. Being the busiest. Having the most important job. Are these the most important things in life? I am not saying the opposite is true either or that some of it can’t make us happy ….it’s just about choices. Knowing there’s a choice.

Caring, kindness, making the effort, making time, sharing, empathy, loyalty, loving, being fair, witholding judgement, make people laugh, positivity, be in love, make a difference. Care for each other, our planet, our animals, nature, the environment. These are so important too yet are rarely taught in school or set out as things we should aspire to be.

The foundations of being a successful happy human will never lie inside a wallet, house or a car…its the essence of who we are that’s important, choosing our own life path …make your own destiny.

Happy Sunday x x x

Bring it on…

My Sunday morning blog x x

There’s no other way to put it but it’s been a challenging week. The most challenging in a very long time. And it coincided with me. On a detox . Fabulous. Friday night the eventful end to this already testing week was me having to evacuate the work place. I finally left thanking an amazing fire service for keeping us all safe before heading over the hills to home. Exhausted.

It can be hard to see the positives in weeks like this but they’re there. You just have to look a bit harder.

There’s all the usual brilliant constant people who are always there. Thank you xx

Then there’s the friend who knows exactly what you’re going through. There’s the person you’ve only known for a few months that you know is going to be in it for the long haul. There’s a big bear hug from your little (but tall) brother that you haven’t seen for six months. There’s the message from a complete stranger telling you the group you run for women helped her at a difficult time (that was sooo special). There’s the amazing health care we are so fortunate to have with their brilliant staff (thank you!). There’s my dogs waiting for me each night in the porch. There’s an al fresco lunch while watching the world go by which includes a jack russell strapped in as a pillion passenger on a motorbike! There’s the view from the top of a steep 2 hour walk….that I’ve never seen before. There’s the catch up with my other brother over the phone who’s many miles away and the funny stories of my nephews on their travels. There’s the giggles around the lunch table at work and happy groans when I sent around my Friday cheesy joke. You want to hear it dont you?!

What did the cow say to its child when it left for school?

Bison.

See. Group groan.

Made people smile though.

So. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday Thursday. Friday. Saturday. You tried your best but you failed!! I’m standing up to you and I can still find good in it so there… bring it on Sunday!

Have a lovely day x x

Stand up

On the radio yesterday, as expected, the conversation turned to Trump. Politicians refusing to stand up to him mainly. Politicians skirting around his cruel policies that create a thunderous division in our world. Not one person dared to stand up to him. They swerved around his kids in cages, his lack of knowledge, his patriarchal hold over women’s rights and his treatment of minorities. Nobody mentions the fact over twenty women have accused him of sexual assault. Everyone is perfectly and nauseatingly respectful.

Face to face it can be difficult to stand up and be the person who disagrees. People often find it easy to fire off an ambiguous Facebook post aimed at ‘somebody’ and behind the wall of pseudonyms Twitter users find power in their anonymity to stand up to everyone.

The point is… we need to find a way of standing up for ourselves and most definitley for others, not in secret but with confidence. If something doesn’t affect us directly it doesn’t mean we should become bystander and say nothing. I faced some third hand homophobic comments about me this week. It really hurt me but then it also made me angry which after a day or so turned into this blog because I want to ask you that you don’t become that politician that turns a blind eye to discrimination. Of anyone.

Be you dad, uncle , mum, sister, friend, colleague… don’t be a bystander to words and actions that hurt. The world surely would and could be a happier place if all of us decent and reasonable people stood up to the minority that want to tear us apart.

Peace and love!

Happy Sunday x x

5 years and two days.

One of the hardest things I find about meeting new people is waiting for them to ask me the inevitable question of. How many children do you have? Even now. 5 years and 1 day later, I dread it. Not for the reasons you may think. I’m entirely happy and comfortable to talk about my daughter Tes. Alive and also not. My dread is for them. The question they think only can have happy connotations is met with.. well.. death. And that’s tough for them.

I have started a new job 3 weeks ago and of course my new colleagues unfortunately have had to hear this sad story and I feel so sorry for them as they try to find the words. They’ve managed beautifully I have to say.

As I left on Friday I carried the gorgeous orchids that my new colleagues had bought me as a gift in recognition of the anniversary date we lost Tes. The 21st of April. Someone passed me on the stairs on my way out and cheerfully asked me … What have you done to deserve them? I always think about lying at times like this. To protect them. But I don’t lie. So I have to tell him the truth.

I dont know how you deal with that. He said.

I found myself replying and saying something that I hadn’t before. Not in the last 5 years and 1 day.

I dont know how to answer that, I said.

And what I meant was. Neither do I. I also don’t know how I deal with losing Tes. I have no idea how. I do know that many many people deal with loss and also get up and also put their mascara on and also get pleasure from wearing their newly bought shirt. That others turn the music up loud and sing along and that others go out for dinner and drink a glass of their favourite wine. I know others too still love the beach and their mountain walks. Still giggle with friends. Still find a lot to live in this life.

But I don’t know how.

I do know it’s wrapped up in immense guilt. I do know I do all those things and I also have a weight that feels like it’s as heavy as a house right there in my heart of pure and utter grief and pain… that sits just by the side of where my immense love for Tes still is. Always will be. I know now that massive heavy stone of loss will never go.

But I know too that despite it, I will get up tomorrow. I will get up on the day that’ll make it 5 years and 2 days. I will walk my dogs. I will choose a lipstick. I will drive to work. I will text friends and arrange to meet. I will look forward. I will. I’ll go the cinema and to that gig and to see that comedienne. I’ll meet those friends for afternoon tea and go on that holiday near the sea. I’ll celebrate birthdays and I’ll meet friends for the weekend.

I will look forward. I don’t know how. But I will.

And she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

We miss you Tes. Every bit of every second of the last 5 years and 1 day. My 14 year old and 350 days old beautiful gorgeous fun busy clever crazy knowledgeable sensible organised human being that I was and am still immensely proud to call my daughter. I miss you more than I could ever write, even if I had a million words.

Xx

Thank you

I drove home on a beautiful shiny sparkly hot day. The road stretches ahead and I remember the reason why I bought this car in the first place. As the salesman busily tried to sell me the car that was within my budget, I spotted the purple and silver car behind him. I saw it as soon as I drove in. I test drove the ordinary one first. There were no gadgets or playthings or sat navs or blue tooth music devices. It was nice but it was ordinary. The purple and silver car stared at me as much as I stared at it. There was no contest. How much is that one, I say, dreamily. It didn’t really matter how much it was because I knew I was going to get it (the pain of that decision kicked in about 3 months later!).

 You see as soon as I test drove that one, I pressed a tiny button and the roof disappeared in one swoop. I was driving a convertible. Sold!
So, I was driving home from work and as normal I have my ‘Thelma and Louise’ moment as the road stretches towards Denbigh (rather than Mexico) and I press that button. The blue sky eeks through second by second and before you know it the wind is messing my already messy hair. I’m practically on a movie set and the journey home becomes significantly brighter.

That is until there was a clunk. That is until the lights on the dashboard started to flash. That is until I remembered. You shouldn’t open a convertible roof when you’re driving 60mph. I pull over and the roof is mashed up. It’s stuck fast. I push and shove and shout and swear a bit. It won’t budge. And by now in a few minutes the sun has decided to do one and it starts to speck drops of rain.

I’m really frazzled. I drive on in such a stomp wondering how much my ‘Thelma’ moment is going to cost me and I almost start to whimper as I’m already a bit fragile and anything extra to deal with is just one thing too much! What am I going to do? I’ll freeze in the winter. How many layers will I have to wear now that I am driving a permanent convertible??

I drive less enthusiastically for many minutes and then from the corner of my eye I spot a garage that I’ve not been to before. I drive past as I’m not confident enough to just walk in and say – hey can you help me, I stupidly have broken my convertible car because I’m so impatient. I get to the roundabout and decide. No. I will go in and ask for help. The reception is full of men in navy boiler suits with oil on their faces and hands. Funny that.

 I sheepishly say, I wonder if anyone can help me and go on quietly to explain what I’ve done. A smiley man about my age comes out and has a go. Nope. No budging there. He looks at me with a look of ‘no idea sorry’. I look back at him with a desperate ‘please help me’ look. He says ;come on then let’s have another go’. He spends the next twenty minutes millimetre by millimetre edging the angry roof while getting me to press the by now tired button. Hey presto. It’s done. Yay, the sky has gone, the button regains consciousness and the roof is safely closed.

Thank you so much I say. I have to refrain from hugging this man in a boiler suit that I haven’t ever met before. It’s fine he says. What do I owe you? Nothing, he says. Wow. Thank you so much I say again and head off without any thought of Thelma or Louise. Or Mexico.

A few weeks later I pass the garage and I remember this kindness and I think I should’ve gone in with something to say thank you and at that moment I drive to Tesco and get some Thorntons and drive back and drop them in. I imagine that mechanics don’t get many boxes of chocolates from the look on their faces. I drove off and I think I felt happier than they did about making the effort to say thanks.

So with this in mind I’d like to say a few more thank yous! 

I want to say thank you to you who let me talk freely about Tes although it might be painful to hear. Thank you for telling me that I inspire you despite my protestations and for telling me that you look at your life from a different more positive perspective. Thank you to those who trust and confide in me. Thank you for still texting me from afar and just asking, how are you? Thank you for making me laugh, not just a chuckle. A real belly laugh. Thank you for the hugs. Thank you for helping me even though you hardly know me. Thank you for fixing things I’m no good at fixing. Thank you for coming over unannounced to drink tea. Thank you for making it known how much you value me. Thank you for being so generous. Thank you for your honesty and thank you for loving me despite my flaws. Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for letting it known I can ring any time. Thank you for talking about normal things. Thank you for not avoiding subjects. Thanks for sharing those photos. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Thanks for your enthusiasm. Thank you for leaning on me and making me feel useful.

Thank you x