2021 Out, 2022 In…

Another year in this life has been lived…

A year of love, tears, trials and triumphs.
With Covid still here, hovering, attacking, omnipresent…
And anxiety alighted, to tell me that there is danger, physically and mentally… but of what, I’m still not sure…
And yet there was also, so often, laughter, enlightenment, chatter, family, friends, sunshine, sweetness and serenity.

This previous spinster of the parish, now gained significant others – a partner and his family, as we weaved our way through new chaos and connection.
In this year there have been holidays and hell; confusion and clarity… all of life’s mixed bag and more…

And now 2022 is coming to an end, whilst another awaits…
So… for 2022 I have no demands or resolutions, but I WILL ask questions…
How should I be? How can I help me, to help you, to the greater good?

As we meet another year, I wish you faith, fearlessness and fun;
that all your positive plans come to fruition;
and
that you listen, to what ever your speaking soul tells you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Choosing Your Christmas

Despite my anxiety of late, I went to bed last night, content. And I lay there counting my blessings, reciting all the people, things and phenomena I was grateful for. In my head I said I was grateful for a warm bed on a cold night, for a full belly, for the people that are close to me, for my car, my cat and so many other things.

I woke up again today with a smile and a stretch, pulling open the curtains on a grey day and greeted the world outside my window.

Slowly I came to, until my cat yelled outside my door that she wanted fuss and breakfast.

I followed her downstairs, feeling the knot of anxiety in my stomach slowly tightening with each step down, as I went to face the day.

It would have been too harsh to my senses to flick on the switches of my workaday lights, so I wandered round and turned on my Christmas lights instead, to feed off their soft glow and to slowly absorb what is next today…

I have some dread about what’s ahead, but I shall tread carefully and take one small step at a time.

I know now I am having some times of calm, times when the tight knot of anxiety unravels within me. I know too that it comes back – flexes and fluxes, trying to take me over. I accept that and yet I ask my fear to teach me, not to diminish me. Humbly, I know there are lessons still to be learnt and choices to be made.

But for now I simply choose to breath… out and in…

I trust implicitly that the rest of what ever needs to happen, as the day unfurls, will just BE…

Right now, I need to keep it simple. Sit with the soft light and listen to my cat purr.

Christmas has crept up on me, softly, and I am quietly embracing it.

And that is me right now. But know that for YOU, what ever the week ahead or the year or minute may or may not have in store for you, that this is YOUR Christmas, to do with what you will or no, in your heart or head.

Maybe you will celebrate, maybe be alone, maybe you don’t or won’t celebrate Christmas – but that’s OK, it’s still YOURS, whatever shape or sense it has. So whatever that is, I wish you well. I wish you inner truth, peace and clarity, but mostly I wish you CHOICE.

When The Solstice is Telling Me to Stop

Dwindling daylight has shrunk to shortest day.
And tomorrow light lengthens again, as the sunshine starts to shine for a little longer – partnering in its’ ever transitioning cycles with the moon.
It’s time to turn towards sunlight and Spring again, as well as to turn over the fallen leaves of autumn, and sweep them away from my dim winter doorstep.
MY Winter though, actually began some months ago…
And whilst I wanted to keep the darkness quiet and work through it, that meant that I was feeling it, but not admitting to it.
One day in the early hours of a May morning, I woke up in panic, breathing hard and feeling terrified. My thoughts were spinning and tumbling, but I rationalised that it was a simple nightmare and the feelings would dissipate with the dawn.
But when I woke again, I felt a knot of anxiety at my core. My body felt flooded with Cortisol. And this stayed with me, over days and weeks – always, always that tight knot of anxiety, the feeling of being in fight or flight mode inside, no matter what I was doing on the outside.
Thinking I was simply stressed and needed a rest, I booked myself a spa break, thinking I either needed to be there or in a padded cell… But to my puzzlement, rest and pampering were not the cure – I still felt that anxiety at my core.
So I sought support. Talked to my GP, and saw a gynaecologist – as I believed menopause might be the cause and he tested me and agreed.
To me you see, it felt like a physical, rather than mental health issue, but still I did what the medicos said and sat with a counsellor, on the phone, talking it out. Whilst it felt good to vent, I found the process unfulfilling… It just wasn’t getting to the heart of what ever the matter was, or revealing anything I didn’t already know about myself and my life.
Yet things improved, time moved on, and the knot unraveled.
Then life started to happen… bereavement, trauma, stress, crisis, pain, surgery, illness…
Then to compound it all, my car broke down, and so did I. Driving home one evening, I stopped at traffic lights and my car stopped too. So I turned on the Hazard lights and started to sob with self pity and roar with indignant anger that this had happened to me. Passers by and police asked me if I was alright as they pushed my car to a side street, then left me to call for help, as the tears eventually subsided.
Well, help came, eventually. I called breakdown assistance, and waited 3 hours for them to cart my car away to a garage. And then my boyfriend turned up with a hat and mince-pies, to warm me up, cheer me up and drive me home.
And whilst all ended well, the knot of anxiety had returned, wound tightly within and this time I just could NOT unravel it.
Still though, I carried on with my life, as it was. I felt anxious and stressed, but this wasn’t ALL I was, I worked, loved, laughed, supported and smiled, too.
I talked to my loved ones, I went back to the doctor. I found a new life coach.
Yet life kept happening, there was more stress, and more to do, in every part of my life, with deadlines looming and decisions to be made.
But then you know, I’m ‘self aware’, a life coach, so I knew what was going on and what to do about it. Only I DIDN’T do it… Instead of facing up to it, I backed away from it, switching from thinking to doing, to block out the feeling. My survival it seemed, depended on hard work and getting things done – despite anxiety, illness and exhaustion. In response my brain shut down it’s consciousness, so I worked like an automaton. But I also stopped exercising, eating well, and writing – and so many of other things that fill me up, nurture me, and engender a sense of contentment. Instead, I continued to toil, as I was wading through mental treacle, feeling indecisive, slow and ineffective…
And Christmas was around the corner, or rather Chris-STRESS, with a 1001 ‘to does’ needing to be ticked off a long list, on top of everything else I was not doing or doing badly…

Until I just HAD to stop.

Because the panic attacks had come back and the anxiety was now a constant screaming pain in my gut.

So I started to confess my dirty, not so little secret – that the ditzy, positive, capable person that so many relied upon, had crashed and burnt.
And whilst I believe in openness and honesty, when people asked me how I was, I lied and said “I’m good”, fearing the consequences of revealing my ‘weaknesses’ and being a failure. It was a way in which I could exert some control over the chaos I found myself in, when in fact, it was actually covering up a LACK of control…
But then my doctor said ‘enough’. I had tried to keep all the plates in my life spinning, but instead they were crashing to the floor. But now someone had validated that I HAD to stop. And I’d known that for some time, but filed it away under ‘want’ rather than necessity, at the back of my brain. Looking back, I realise, that I wouldn’t actually stop, until someone else had given me permission…
So now, a few days later, I’ve slowed right down now, but not stopped as yet… I’m winding down to that and to Christmas. Instead of going cold (Christmas) turkey, I have been easing myself in, making changes, asking for help and having faith that all will work out as it should.
And as for Christmas, it will still happen – even if I only had the energy to put up one tree this year, the presents aren’t perfect and fewer cards have been sent. My health and happiness is far more important than any of these things. My gift to myself is the choice of a sweet and slow Christmas, with those I love, taking care of myself first and foremost, so I can be at my best for all the rest…
And whilst the doctor rubber stamped the stopping, it’s down to me now – to put myself first. To love who I am, instead of hating what I think and do. To give myself permission to do less, so that I get more (out of life). Deciding to let the world take care of ITself, whilst I take care of MYself. And not least, asking those around me for understanding and support.
The irony is that I have preached self care and self love for a long time now, exhorting others to ‘put the oxygen mask’ on themselves first, but still… here I am… So, as the bible says, ‘physician heal thyself.’ Be this physical or mental, unhealed trauma, hormonal or causal, I need to stop doing now and start BEING.
I write this not for sympathy or pity, because I know that I have so much to be thankful for in my life. This life is a gift and I want to make the most of every precious moment of it.
And to do that, I wanted to confess, to stop pretending to everyone and anyone about what is going on for me. And by being beautifully selfish about that, I want anyone going through anything similar at this moment in time, to give them self the permission to stop, too.
Please know that you CAN pause, rest and re-evaluate. What ever is going on for you, or your brain, sense of duty or someone else is trying to tell you.
Know that this is the way of life – Winter Solstice is giving way, slowly, to Spring. Nature is following its course, so that after all the darkness and cold, all is ready to be reborn and grow upwards, towards the sun. And as a creature who lives under that sun, it is now your time to do that too.
And where ever life finds you right now, may sweet solstice blessings be upon you, xx

December is here, but I’m not ‘there’

Well, December is here…

I’ve been compiling lists and making arrangements.

Suddenly, Christmas music is blaring out of my radio.

But I’m not ‘there’ yet – the music flows pass me, hitting some other random target.

It feels like a faux, forced party of excess and expectation is suddenly being shoved at me.

Since like last weeks snow, I’m melted.

Feeling wilted and tired, but still Noel is near…

And then I hear a snug song, that somehow chimes to the rhythm of my hesitant heart.

And I smile, softly inside.

And I feel festive, in my own, weird way.

And then I’m ‘there’…

And ‘December will be magic again’…

Sparked by the unique inspiration of the wonderful ~Kate Bush~

Good Bye to Vi

So, we came together today, to celebrate a life, from birth to beyond…

And we said good bye to that earthly part of Vi – or maybe Violet, Miss Round, or Mrs Barker, to you…

We chronicled her courtship, her work and her motherhood; transitioning on to Nanna, then again to Great Granny.

And today we all had our own memories, and smiled with recognition at the ones we shared about her, too, as we shared some of her 91 years’ long, life.

‘My’ Vi was feisty, fearless and sometimes scary. As a child I held her awe, watching as she blazed her own trail – teaching herself to play the guitar, going to night school and leading Keep Fit classes.

She was the mother of my best friend, so I received countless kindnesses from her and her husband George: spending endless Sundays in the back of the family car on trips to the country; or sitting at the dinner table, eating freshly buttered bloomer from a side plate, nestled next to a larger plate with a neat ham salad.

As time moved on, she mellowed more and whilst we had all grown up and left our parental homes, still we gravitated back to Vi’s living room – to laugh, chatter, drink tea and chomp on sausage sandwiches.

Vi would fix you with an eagle eye and speak her mind. So I remember treading on eggshells around her as a child and then turning the tables on her, by teasing her lovingly and remorselessly, as an adult, which she always took in good stead, with a knowing smile.

Along with that, her humour was as dry as a snapped winter twig, and her laughter loud – filling an entire room with its deep chuckles, surrounding you with its vibration, leaving you helpless to do anything other than guffaw along with her.

Her legacies are legion. For me I have the greatest gratitude of the gift of her daughter Susan – my friend since we were five years old. A friend who became kin, now the beating heart of her own growing family.

So Vi is part of the landscape of my life, held in a myriad of remembrances and smiles. She’s gone in one, 1 dimensional way, but here for ever in many more, held as she is, in so countless hearts – not just on our lips, as she was today…

So good bye Vi.

Give em hell in heaven, you 😉 xx

This photo is just so ‘Vi’ 🙂

Sensitivity is my Super Power & My Curse

Whilst sensitivity is my super power,

It can also feel like a curse…

Harsh words grate and are hurtful.

Others taking sides and making judgements,

is blind siding.

Venting coarse bile is wasteful and vengeful.

It cuts the person who wields the knife,

as well as the person they slice into.

Only when you stand at a distance, can you know.

Then listen and let go.

Not spit nonsense.

Not grow horns.

Not take your bad day out on another.

Think before you throw your poison darts. They’ve landed in my heart.

Lodged and bleeding.

My heads says it’s OK, and I will rationalise.

But my soul is sore.

My core is sensitive,

despite my hard shell.

I bruise like a fully ripened peach,

since I don’t understand your priority.

But I’ll just let it be.

Heal gradually.

Not give a fig, in a week or a decade’s time.

Use my sensitivity to divine and investigate and feel my way in to someone else’s receptive psyche;

in another moment, on the wind of another day.

Because sensitivity is my super power.

Hormones in the Time of Corona

I’ve lived with menopause for a decade. It’s been a bumpy journey. With mood swings, brain fog and anxiety, quite apart from the hot & sweaty sleepless nights.

I lost a lot… of friends, work, confidence as a direct result of it.

Then there were the tears – of confusion, rage and self pity and the gallons I shed when I realised I never would have the child/ren I always wanted…

Sometimes I’ve been silent about what I’ve been through, but so often I have spoken about it – to men, women, anyone… And I always felt listened to, even when I was lost.

And I WAS lost… dazed, indecisive and exhausted, living with it and getting on with my life. Managing it around moon cycles and hormone spikes. All the time with those hormones darkening and sharpening my thoughts. So at those times I avoided the daily commute in motorway traffic, undue stress and processed food. Instead meditating, breathing deep and educating myself.
13 million women are going through this in the UK alone, and it’s still such an unknown quantity.
I visited my GP for years, but traditional HRT would only ever temporarily manage my excessive symptoms. I wasn’t even aware until today that there are NHS Menopause clinics. Now I’m genuinely shocked I wasn’t referred to one; although looking at the map there is only one in my part of the country. Instead, eventually I went to a private Menopause clinic – this as far as I was concerned, was a necessity, not a luxury, and it made a major difference to my quality of life.
This isn’t a pity post. I’m finding my way through, taking action with mind, body and soul. And, I’m delighted to say, I feel no less of a woman right now or more over the hill, than at any point in my life.

Today, menopause is a fact of my life, and it’s an element of how I live it, but it doesn’t define me. It’s a transition, not a catastrophe; and I’ve decided how to handle it and go with it, as I move on through my life.

And I can still learn – that includes watching this programme this evening. For me, it was compelling and educational, even though I felt I knew a lot about the subject on many levels already (and the private doctor Davina speaks with, is the one I consulted with too).

There is still so much to learn… #davinamenopause https://www.channel4.com/programmes/davina-mccall-sex-myths-and-the-menopause?fbclid=IwAR1mVdJ5-CEO8yqDWIc-ErjlnYJ2z8JTOufNmgG-OJIRY_hMdV163O3PT7Q

A Runniversary in the Time of Corona

It’s my first running anniversary today!

Since my first run a year ago, I’ve graduated Couch to 5K and also broken my ankle.

But that wasn’t the end. Instead it was just an adjustment…

Roll on to today and I completed an 8 mile walk this afternoon. Did a 5 miler yesterday and am now doing regular HIITs and yoga workouts with a group online. I now run maybe once a week.

In truth, I find all the exercise I do tough, but so rewarding. I’ve lost weight and improved my asthma.

Some good things have come out of a year in semi isolation and this is one of them. I’m properly proud of myself 🎉✨

Pray tell me now, what have been YOUR positive outcomes from the time of Corona???

Women’s Day in the Time of Corona

On International Women’s Day, as I go about my in business, I’m singing Helen Reddy’s anthem ‘I am Woman’…

Several days ago I watched the biopic of her life, of the same name (on Netflix). I must admit I had scant if any (conscious), knowledge of her life and work, so it was illuminating and entertaining. ‘I am woman’ came out in the 1970s and was regarded by many as man hating and controversial. The USA Congress was in the midst of finalizing the Equal Rights Amendment for state ratification and the U.S. Supreme Court was in the throes of deliberating Roe v. Wade, when it was recorded.

Helen has said that she was undoubtedly influenced by the women’s rights movement at the time, but her motivation was to write a song about women that would be different from those that were common on the radio back in the day.“They were all cotton candy and garbage. No one else was writing songs about strong women, so I thought, why not me?”

Some things have changed since those days, yet still, MY wish is to be regarded on the basis of my own characteristics, skills and personality, where gender is intrinsic, but not defining and I stand as I am.

Helen died in September of last year and I don’t recall that being in the news. Yet she was one of the biggest recording artists of her time.

I’m now re-listening to the body of her work, to celebrate her, me and you on this day. And these words keep flowing around my head…“I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman…”

I Am Woman

Helen Reddy
I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible…

Source: Musixmatch

Freezing in the Time of Corona

THE BAD NEWS AND THE GOOD NEWS

SO:

🙁 My fridge freezer has kaput and its’ contents are slowly melting…

🙁 Everyone I know has a full freezer, so cannot ‘adopt’ my food failures…

🙁 Due to lock down, I cannot invite anyone round to share in the quickly spoiling spoils…

🙁 I’ve got to eat, cook, or throw away good food…

AND:

Sophia asleep

🙂 The cats are dining on steak, salmon and mince (I mean, LOOK at this pic: Sophia the sated cat, sleeping off a full belly breakfast)…

🙂 Today the household is eating the most spectacular buffet imaginable… So far on the menu – samosas, bhaji, burritos, Chicken goujons, Yorkshire Puddings, pizza and french fries… & we are adding to it by the minute…

🙂 Over the next few days we’ll be guzzling chicken stew, ravioli with the most delicious, chunky, gourmet sauce, and many other foodie delights, bounded only by my culinary imagination (I LOVE being presented with a set of random ingredients and turning them into delicious dining. Got THAT on acid!)…

🙂 I’m getting a new, bigger, more environmentally friendly, fridge freezer which (apparently) won’t need defrosting or smell of niffy food…

🙂 I used local trades people…

🙂 I have to eat, cook and have a clear out [ALL things I LOVE doing]…

So… I could see this as a disaster or an opportunity… And I chose: Laughter, a full belly, ingenuity, learning, and not to overstock or overthink. Ultimately I saw the silver lining and what can I tell you about that? Well, it was moist with condensation from all the chilled out food… Told you then.. 😉