The first quarter

As I sit here listening to gentle music and seeing the last bit of the sun setting on the hottest April day in 70 years and it also being the 108th day in the year, I’m reflecting on this first quarter of the year, which has been eventful, as on my previous reflections there have been ups and downs, but what has struck me about this quarter is of what I’ve learnt and what also what I’ve been reminded of,

What I’ve learnt..

Some of the things we learn are not from the most pleasant of things but are worth mentioning and this is what I’ll start with

1   About  loss

Not too long ago someone I knew from the age of 8 died from an illness.  The relationship I had with this person wasn’t always good, although there was a period where we weren’t at odds our relationship did not end on good terms, that saddened me, for in spite of their faults, I didn’t dislike them and I didn’t hold any ill will over our last contact.  Whilst others can mourn freely I can’t in the same way for the same reasons, I can’t shout their praise from the hilltops but neither do I want to tear strips off their life or pretend I was their best friend.  So my learning was to to how to navigate this loss, respecting others memories of this person but also allowing my own experiences of them to surface privately yet freely.  The other the thing that struck me was that knowing that I’m not immortal is one thing but being reminded that someone you’ve known a long time is not immortal either and this is something I have to remember.

2     Dealing with Danger

I recently found myself in a dangerous situation, the details of which I won’t go into for all sorts of reasons.  The thing I learnt about myself in that position is how my resilience kicked in  and even though at one point I knew I had no control about what would happen next, I still had control inwardly and how I responded to what was taking place and was surprised at my clarity of thinking and decision making processes were and in spite of the situation how very little emotion reaction at the time.

3   War and Peace

Read a book called Cross vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus makes sense of Old Testament Violence by Gregory A. Boyd.  It was mostly a really a good book, it made me think over my non pacifist position, see my blog post called War and Peace. It hasn’t made me a 100% pacifist but certainly explains alot of the reasons in the way I can relate to for the reasons for the violence, and one great thing was he doesn’t blame God.  I learnt a great deal about some beliefs around the times of writing the old testament and it was a very well researched book. You’ll just have to read the book to find out more.  The timing was pretty apt with just last week or two of more raids from the British and US forces on Syria, the more I know about the situation the less I want to hear, just because of the possible propaganda/misinformation surrounding it all and the fact again we might be at war based on lies.  What I have learnt history certainly teaches us much about war and governments seeming to do more to go to war rather than to prevent it from happening.

4     When not to use the word “You”

I attended a marriage/relationship seminar for a day and one thing I learnt was in a conflict situation not to use the word “You” as it is often used in terms of accusations which causes people to be defensive, very useful, instead  say when this happens…or I heard …. being said.

Now to the lighter moments

5   To say Yes to invitations and opportunities

Life is to be lived to the full and that means not saying no to opportunities or invites and that’s what I’ve been doing this year, I met up with people I’d never met before through social media which was a wonderful adventure, invited to meetings and day conferences, now attend a book club run by one of our church leaders and possibly attending a bible course in September.  Saying no means closing the door on experiences whether they be good or bad, for me the only reason to say no now is either I just can’t do something as it clashes or I have a strong sense not to do it.  Otherwise any door that’s open I’ll walk through it.

Reminded of…

6  Being ordinary

Being comfortable with being just an ordinary human being, merging with the rest of the world and how freeing that is,  not having to keep up with the somebody people think you are or might be or you might want to be.  That doesn’t mean we humans are not valuable or having nothing to offer the world at large, its just accepting your ordinary and normal and that really is OK, you don’t have to be somebody to make a difference, and that was my lesson

7   Simple fun

Being reminded that fun doesn’t have to be complicated gave me a great deal of pleasure.  In January I purchased a google home.  On this device I discovered a quiz which I played on my own but you can also play with others.  So on an evening in March two of my nieces and I played the quiz together, the game gives us nicknames to play which made us all laugh for some reason I was mushroom for some strange reason it reminded me of my childhood with pictures of red toadstools with white spots on.  I loved the fact my nieces really enjoyed the quiz which happened completely by accident, simple and spontaneous fun make people happy.

8    A change is as good as a rest

In March I attended an interview for a job which unfortunately didn’t have a happy ending for a couple of weeks it certainly got me down and it was a job I felt I really wanted too.  One Friday one of my friends invited me to an impromptu drive to Sheffield with another mutual friend to visit family.  It was beautiful scenery with all weathers and good company.  I came home feeling a ton better and is if everything had completely changed  certainly  a reminder to me if I’m really down to just do something completely different or go somewhere on the spur and I’ll feel alot better.

Certainly these last 16 weeks have been intense at times, but I’ve also had time to be creative with another poem or two and another attempt at songwriting and more flapjack making.  I could add more but as I need to be up at 5:30am I need to finish.

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Reflections on 2017

As I look back over 2017, I consider it to have been a fairly good year.  Certainly there have been highs and lows, the old and the new, but a good year I feel overall.

January

The year started with frustrating roadworks and and some annoying financial matter to sort out which resulted in me having to venture out at silly o’clock to get it sorted out.  Happily by April that matter was addressed and so were the road works.

February

Doris blew herself out in February as well as me finishing a few books that I’d not finished reading.

March

A quiet one, nothing that I can really recall, apart from me inadvertently scaring one of my neighbours visitors coming out of the house.

April

April saw me preparing for my friends wedding which meant spending some money, a friend took me out shopping, she was very helpful and got the gear together for the wedding which was beautiful.  Baked some oaty biscuits for the wedding which went beautifully well.

May

Managed to wake up with an injured wrist in May but did recover eventually.  I think it was this month that I got reacquainted with some old friends, it’s wonderful when that happens.

June

General election time locally the result didn’t go the way I wanted it too but I also saw the bigger picture.  I also got a smart meter, no more untimely visits from meter readers. I hurt my knee but like my wrist did recover. I attended my eye appointment one month earlier than I should have done, well I had to laugh I am registered blind, not surprising  really. I met some new friends where cake seems to accompany my visits to their home.

July

In this month my cousin informed me and the family through social media I’m going to have a new cousin. A busy month with trips out with friends and a return to some stunning gardens I love locally.  At times pretty hot too. My eye clinic appointment was speedy, to the point I wondered if the specialist really cared.

August

This month heralded the start of my poetry writing stint.  Which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I attended a BBQ where I saw the most amazing sunset from the hosts home.

September

As mentioned in my previous blog  on my amazing summer.  I was with Mr and Mrs Bubble who re amazing hosts, I celebrated my birthday in quite sultry weather, it made a change from cloudy days.

October

More outings and meeting some new friends who I’ve regularly visited who’s company and food I’ve much enjoyed, laughter and music sharing were also highlights and many late nights.  The unusual red soon greeted me on the way out of my voluntary work which stopped many in their tracks to observe. I ended up with a chest infection that thankfully lasted fortnight but for others they have suffered alot longer.

November

Spent a day with friends who had married earlier in the year saw their home and enjoyed the baby shower I attended who’s baby is due in January.

December

My Christmas was spent with Mr and Mrs Bubble again, where my highlights were my own stocking, playing with their son’s new drone, delicious food, one meal consisted of a turkey curry followed by syrupy pancakes and of course I had some parmasan, a specialty in that part of the UK, laughter at my friend’s laryngitis laugh because of a joke her husband shared.

In summary

Now there’s  a few hours to go before midnight what can I conclude from my year, in my introduction I said there were some highs and lows. Well the highs being reconnecting with some old friends and making quite a number of new ones. The lows are a friend moving abroad although that’s a mixed blessing as I’ve been invited to see her, the death of someone I met in rather tragic circumstances, another friend who became seriously ill, but thankfully recovered.  The roadworks which will be returning again in the New year locally, some of my friends going through difficulties. but for me the good outweighs the low points, my amazing summer and feeling hopeful.  Spiritually I’ve deepened in my relationship with my heavenly Father, who has as always been with me through both the highs and the lows.  Finally I would like to thank (hopefully with these name change people will know who I’m referring to)  Mr and Mrs Bubble, Mr and Mrs PIndia and little Pea, Mr Windy B, Mr E Laurette, Mrs CT Midwife,  Mr P Drivencrazy, Mrs Truly,  Mr & Mrs JC One, Rev Greathinker. If I’ve forgotten anyone please don’t take it personally I can’t come up with names that easily , and thank you contrary readers for reading my posts 🙂  So as the New year draws to a close in a few short hours I wan’t to wish you all a very happy new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My summer

Whilst listening to a lovely relaxing album called Dancing Rivers by Alberto and Kimberly Riviera which contains lots of weather titled pieces such as sunshine, Storm and whirlwhind, I ponder on one of the best summers I’ve had.

It all started with a conversation with a friend, after they had offered to take me somewhere and I asked them for some help with a task I needed doing, it then led to chats, outings and meeting other people.  I’ve met some people I haven’t seen for a long time and some made some new friends along the way.

Some of my trips involved furry friends including an owl, birds, a dog and a cat. My only real love affair this summer involved one of these furry creatures a dog, who seemed to be scared of me at first, but trusted me in the end.  The cat seemed to enjoy walking around all these people in their parents lounge as these other strange people joined them in discussion, the cat Mr Ginger at one point decided to jump on me which made me jump as I wasn’t expecting it and I think I was listening intently at the time.  I met two new friends beautiful owl, which brought some consternation as no one quite knows whether it is male or female and the couple concerned have always referred it as a he and now it looks like a she after our visit to an owl sanctuary.  It makes conversations rather amusing when they said he isn’t in a good mood and I remind them don’t you mean SHE!  The birds I met by a set of bird tables situated right outside my new poet friend’s lounge window, when my friend and I paid him a visit, we would see the birds come over to pick up any birdseed left for them.

The birds although quite mesmerising weren’t as mesmerising as the gentleman poet I was listening too, who has had poems published. His delivery and writing hauntingly beautiful and inspired me to write a few of my own some of which I covered in my previous blog post.

Other delights was an impromptu visit to a park, a band gig, a large local garden area, some visits to one of my favourite eating venues KFC.  Oh and lots of cake particularly at Mr Ginger’s home who I mentioned earlier including, chocolate cake, apple pie, carrot cake, lemon drizzle, oh and the list goes on in one week I think I about 7 different lots of cake, no not at the same house.

The weather has been mainly kind on these outings and never really affected anything we did, apart from occasionally, feeling a bit hot as it would suddenly get really warm.

Travelling as we have done has meant meeting up with old friends unexpectedly and new alike, including two trips to see Mr & Mrs Bubble, who I haven’t seen for a long time, which resulted in an off road driving trip which I had never done.  It’s particularly amusing when your blind friend takes the driving seat and drives over puddles and you feel like your going to end up ejecting out of the roof of the car, but it was a thrilling experience.  It was wonderful to see longed missed friends those people who would sometimes be mentioned in conversations by others who had seen them since I had, which always stirs longings of desiring those you’ve met and bonded with in the past.  New friends like Mr Gingers parents and their friend who would give us talks, my poet friend and others I met at various gatherings, promise and bring new experiences to be enjoyed and shared.  One friend seems to lead to another like an invisible cord that reminds us that in many ways we are all linked, one friend reminds me of another or introduces me to another who knows someone who knows me or someone else I know.  I’ve often realised that the most important things you can give anyone is memories, and having many shared ones is wonderful with many people is even better.  I can sum up my summer in five words, animals, memories, friends, conversations and travel.  I can’t redo those experiences but I can certainly hang on to the memories and look forward to what the autumn/winter will bring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My creativity bug

As a child attending shcool I wrote essays, poetry and other forms of writing rather dutifully, there was no particular love or hate for writing.  The feedback I got from teachers wasn’t exactly encouraging, in comparison I hated maths and loved the bit of chemistry and biology I did and learnt some German which I revelled in for other reasons.  History I found stimulating and absorbing, but the general chore of writing to task was dull.  The end result was that although my spelling was excellent at the time I came out with a D for my GCSE English, which didn’t inspire me to think that I had any talent for writing or any particular spark of creativity.

However strangely as an adult things changed.  I worked as a proof reader for a while and the company I worked for decided to produce a newsletter I felt to write something I wasn’t sure why but went down very well, and it encouraged me to write more.

When my mother was terminally ill I felt inspired to write a story for her which she loved and others who saw I since enjoyed it.  To some degree this blog came  out of all that.

Now one of the creative tasks I found difficult was poetry and song writing, but lately something rather odd has been happening.  I’ve been writing little bits of poetry and possible song writing material, how did that come about.  It all started when I visited a man known for his poetry and I really enjoyed listening to his creativity, really appreciated the depth coming out of him, not long afterwards one of my friends embarked on a creative spurt of song writing, after conversing with her and a couple of other friends words started coming to me inspired by the conversations.

I’ve been wondering why now, some of the stuff coming out is quite emotive and personal which I’ve been surprised by.  I’m  generally not been a big fan of poetry, but what I’m doing now I’m really enjoying it’s stimulating and fun.

I feel as I’m writing I seem to be drawing stuff out of me or attempting to get to the bottom of something, either way the conclusion I’ve come to is that this is exactly it’s purpose to either draw something out or find something deep.  whichever way I’m happy to go with the flow and I feel whilst that inspiration is there to grab it with both hands and run with it.  So I’ll end with a little bit of inspiration.

Now I’m alert to this creativity spurt, I’ve got so much pleasure by this written treasure, I’ll continue to dig deep, for the words which will speak through this season of time, for I don’t want to bypass this gold mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some 70’s reminiscing

Today I’ve been listening to an audiobook called Jubilee by Shelley Harris, part of which is set during the time of the silver jubilee in 1977, it certainly evoked memories for me not just about the jubilee but about my own childhood during the mid 70’s.

After my mum gave birth to me in the early 70’s the family moved to  a Close somewhere in Stafford.  The street was lined with houses that petered off to the left on one side, if I remember correctly.  The unusual thing about that street for me and I’ve not seen it since was the white pavement and road, it wasn’t the usual grey and black of our roads and pavements today, since looking it up on google it looks fairly different now.

On some weekends my sister and I would go to the local fair for a bit, on the Saturday, mornings would be spent watching the tv, various cartoons and perhaps eating some space dust one of the many treats from the local sweet shop.  Either my sister and I or my dad and I would trudge up there, I vaguely remember an incident when my dad and I walked through the subway or tunnel out to where the shops were and two lads on bikes came perilously close to me and my dad telling them off.  Once there I would look wide eyed at all the treats on offer I remember coming away with Spangles I think lime or the cola ones were my favourites at the time.  I think sherbert dips or dib dabs were my other treats from there, for the life of me I can’t remember what else they sold there.  Sometimes on a Saturday my sister and I would go to the local park, I don’t remember much being there at the time apart from a slide and a couple of swings.  I remember us both in not very good moods singing nobody loves me, everybody hates me…  We used to attend a local hairdressers on the same street as the sweet shop, but my mum was not pleased when she felt the hairdresser had ruined my then curly hair as it became all straight.  She then had a lovely hairdresser who would put rollers in my hair with pins in to try and curl it.

Sometimes other children would be round and we used to play in the garage area I think just outside the side door to our house, I had a little orange car that I would drive around or a little  blue and red trycycle.  Outside in our garden in the summer time I would sit with a large yellow bowl of my mums and remove pods from garden peas, which I would find rather therapeutic now.  I remember us having a street race and I either fell off the thing I was riding or was upset because I came last, I certainly had a few bruised knees those days!

I remember a party we had and Rod Stewarts Do you think I’m sexy was playing either from the stereo or the telly.  Some evenings my dad and I would watch Star trek on the telly or one of my favourite programmes at that time Monkey.  Equally I remember Saphire and Steel another great programme.  Unfortunately I was plagued by nightmares as I watched the armchair thriller and some other horror movies as I didn’t always go to bed when I should have done.

I remember my cousin teaching me to read on a magnetic board with magnetic letters and bringing home Peter and Jane books then Janet and John books, followed by Enid Blyton books.  But my favourite reading was the Mr men books, hence the image of the mug my mum bought me, in which I used to drink hot chocolate or Ovaltine.

Our tea or dinner times would include tinned salmon with potato and peas, sometimes my mum would bring something from the bakers who I found out later may have been distant relatives, Victoria sponge, éclairs, meringues.  My mum would sometimes do jelly and ice cream.  I used to have trouble eating, so either my sister would play aeroplanes with me, or my mum would give me a dose of minidex.  I remember the crisps were not in these foil wrapped packets you get now, oh on they were in flimsy bags and not that much choice of flavours then either.

Well what I can remember of the jubilee was us having a party at some neighbours house where there were many children and adults, I think I sat at the top of the table.  I think triangular party hats were worn and the plates were union jack plates.  party blowers and balloons were the things of partys in those days, the balloons weren’t as fancy as they are now, but yes definitely some pops and fizzy pop too.  I tended to drink lemonade in those days.  At the time of the party our family had not long come back from abroad, so I think that jubilee party was in the August, as I was going to be starting boarding school in the September.  I don’t think I wore red white and blue though. .

70’s music always reminds me of warm summers, I vaguely remember standing outside the front of our house hearing I’m not in Love by 10c blaring from the lounge or kitchen, the charts I would record on the stereo on a Sunday on tape, which used to be recorded on my dads open university tapes which he would get very cross about if he discovered I’d used them whoops.  I would often tape myself singing or doing things, play with cars or my weebles or read some of my sisters Jackie comics even though I was not the right age to read them I had the reading ability to read them.  I remember reading Jane Eyre which I found rather chilling at the time, I don’t think it was quite the adult version though.  My particular children’s’ comic was called Twinkle which I loved.

What is my most abiding memory of the 70’s though well something I alluded to earlier, I suppose for me it will always be the music, from the bad soul album being continuously played on my parents stereo, to the gentle tones of Demis Roussos, played on my little tape recorder to help me sleep at night. Music got me through anything and everything. the other abiding memory is the fact we weren’t always in the UK, but I may write about that another time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why it still hurts and what changed

As I write this in just a few hours it will be mothers day.  For me on two counts it’s not as I’m neither a mother or have a mother.  So it will just be an ordinary day apart from the clocks going forward as I live in the UK. I lost my mother in 2012 from a short battle with cancer.   You certainly do change when you lose a mother, it’s hard to put a finger on how that change impacts you or always put into words how it  affects you, but as far as is possible or reasonable or printable I will try to share how it has changed me and why it still hurts when we are now in 2017.

From discussions I’ve had with others and through observation the impact  a parent’s death has on a person is profound.  When my mum’s father died she went to pieces, her was her soulmate, there was always a pervading sense of sadness around home I often think that was why, I don’t think my mum ever got over losing her father and it was rather poignant she died at the same age as her father did and on the same weekend.  I’ve heard say married couples when one of their parent’s dies how it impacts them and thus their spouse and sometimes ends their marriage or contributes to it.

I remember reading an article about grief of a mother in an online Oprah Winfrey magazine.  It summed up well how it impacted me.  The strange thing from the article I had read and  certainly became true for me was the new sense of freedom I felt, no more nagging and worrying from my mother, I didn’t have her looking over my shoulder every time I did something or travel somewhere.  I definitely felt guilty about being happy about having those shackles lifted off me, but that was my ultimate vulnerability that I didn’t realise at the time as unfortunately it did make me a bit reckless, but freedom can do that to you when boundaries have been removed and I learnt the hard way that I needed that stabilizing influence of my mother that I actually really still needed. It was certainly right that I had the freedom but I also needed the stability which is something I lost and I actually had not necessarily valued.

One of the incidents that struck me was when following my mum’s coffin up the church I knew at that point things had changed family order wise, I felt older and more responsible.  There was a lighter moment at my mum’s internment when I attempted to get over some snow only to discover that I’d climbed a tombstone instead to the helpless laughter of my nieces.

I had to adapt to going to various shops on my own that used to going to with my mother, my mum used to help me shop for clothes now I couldn’t rely on my mum to give an honest opinion about what suited me the best or what really looked terrible on me, now, I now have to just try and judge for myself feeling my way through and hoping that I may have made a good choice but I still don’t always feel that confident that that I’ve made the right choice as my mum’s choices were excellent.

My mum’s standards were high and my ability to wash, iron and cook to her standards are nothing compared to hers, and she would assist regularly with ironing, but now she is not around so I have to hope for the best when I iron it’s not a disaster.

The two things I miss most of all are my mum’s attention to detail and her sense of intuition which I didn’t always appreciate, she was always thoughtful, if I was staying over night she would set my breakfast out  before I came down (if I had to be up early), everything was set out she knew what I liked with little I had to do to put my breakfast together, I liked hot chocolate in the morning at the time, and that would be in the mug ready for me to just pour the water in for example with me not having to go hunting for the hot choc container.  She was even like that when she was ill, which obviously  I didn’t expect from her at all.

But the thing I miss most of all about my mum and why it hurts so, is that I could trust her, not in the sense of being a confidante as she wasn’t a friend, but it was in the sense I could trust her regarding me, she always had the right motives concerning me, I knew she would do me no harm.  If she did give me advice it was always with my best interests  at heart, no guile no deceit just pure love.  Of course I trust people but not in the way I could trust my mother.  It has made me more cautious, and yes this is what hurts the most.

At the same time I’m grateful that a support network materialised through one thing or another which has helped me come to terms with her loss, but yes it’s changed me and yes it still hurts.  I wish a happy mothers day to those reading this, but my thoughts are with those who have no mother or are not mothers themselves.  So to those who still have mothers or have children don’t take either for granted you don’t know if it’s the last shopping trip or outing you will be on or the last bunch of flowers you can buy your mother, or toys you can buy your child embrace and enjoy every moment you spend with your child.  If you can please spare a thought for those of us who can’t enjoy doing what your doing, and if any of us look sad or far away, don’t think we don’t want you to enjoy this special day just know for us it just still hurts.