Introducing basic rituals for personal self care

It has been a while since I’ve written anything of use and there has been a reason for this. Our family has been impacted with recent bereavement caused by failings in the system.

It had been a tough year mentally already. I know I’m not alone and neither is my family. The suffering has been real for many. In fact do the difficulties ever really stop? I feel like I’m hopping from one stepping stone to another with flames of fire in between each step.

My last blog post was about the joy and hope that my garden was giving both myself and my partner. It gave us something good to focus on in between the daily life struggles. We were even taking things up a level and going for daily walks and just really looking at our surroundings. The trees, the corn fields, the blackberries, the elderberries, the Hawthorne bushes and even the nettles.

We were feeling really present with the changing seasons. It was like a form of meditation and grounding. Like children upon discovering life. It has made me think that perhaps that’s the key – to experience the little things. All to often in life we focus on the big things. The big holidays, the big milestones, the next promotion, the next payrise… the next big thing!

I felt this wonderful sense of wellbeing and gratitude. Getting into this rhythm of surroundings and realising joy was on my doorstep. No driving anywhere as everything was around me. Even my work was something that I could do at home and adapt the hours to suit a lifestyle. This is not something that a lot of people have the opportunity of achieving – the rat race, large bills, rushed with busyness. It was a really nice balance to hit.

However, the past two months have not been very nice. I also have my second son going to uni and while I’m immensely proud of him, it was an unexpected decision of his and obviously another great life change is about to occur.

I’ve still been pottering around the garden but the joy of the joyful harvest felt tainted by the bitterly sad news. I didn’t want to write a blog sooner because I guess my self care at times is to withdraw and process and that’s what has happened, sometimes writing is better with hindsight or it is more how I prefer to do it. My conclusion has been that right now and to help control my medical condition (which has been controlled so well for the past 5 years) and avoid a spiral down that it is time to put in the self care measures. Time to get grounded. Putting a routine in place just like we do as mothers for our children. Early bath time, soothing drink, early night in clean surroundings and ready to wake up refreshed. Similarly in the morning. Enjoy the day break, bring in the milk bottles, washing in the machine, cup of tea, breakfast slowly. Then time for that little grounding walk which includes just walking around my garden to see what is going on and harvesting for the day.

Today’s harvest:

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Sunflower heads

corriander

viola

The last of the raspberries

Swiss Chard (yummy and currently my favourite)

Dandelion leaves

Spinach

Chamomile

Thyme

Sage

My plans today will be to, put sausages in the slow cooker with the sage and the thyme, sip chamomile tea, make a jug full of smoothie, a salad bowl and later fry up the spinach and swiss chard to eat with the sausages.

Self care isn’t always sinking a bottle of wine (although I do enjoy doing that), it’s not always what we immediately think of having our luxury treats. I guess sometimes self care is getting ourselves back into balance, sleeping better, eating better, looking at our routine and bringing in some basic rituals. Basic rituals can become easily lost in busyness and prioritising. I think it’s about remembering how to treat ourselves as we would our child and not like some forgotten afterthought.

Rituals are something I’m working on right now and I’d be very interested in any rituals or tips that you yourself might have.

Chronic disease, try all you like… you will not steal my joy… Not while I have a garden…

It feels like it has been one of those weeks with my health. The chronic fatigue seems to have been with me for eighty percent of the time. I’m sleeping much longer than usual but listening to my body and allowing myself to sleep longer. It has to be better than the feeling of not sleeping at all. The twenty percent energy I have left is leaving me with feelings of overwhelm for getting things done and keeping my life together.

I’ve been continuing with my garden through out and the productivity has rewarded me with joy. I don’t particularly feel that way while I’m doing something strenuous but certainly afterwards. It is a feeling of joy that I thought had gone forever. That is not to say that I’ve been unhappy all of the time because I haven’t. Chronic illness has tried its best to take from me but I’ve found bouts of happiness along the way. However, I’m getting a different feeling of joy from my garden that I never knew was lost until it came back. I’m discovering that just like different types of sadness there are different feelings of joy. Similar to different shades of colours. I think it might be gratitude too as I’m aware there is a lot of suffering going on in this strange world at the moment. The thought of Covid 19 rampaging across the world is raising my level of awareness to be blessed for each given day. I’ve been telling myself that the seeds, plants and recently new Worcester Berry bush is a great little investment. Reminding me to work with what I do have which is a wonderful sized garden. I have the ability to grow my own food.

I’ve enjoyed gardening or appreciating gardens for a couple of decades. My own wavering health and the recently fragile health of a nearest and dearest really bashed the spade on my head for continuing with any form of gardening. My strength was needed to put the care elsewhere. Leaving me with very little energy to put care into myself. My partner however did keep trying to top my levels up and I don’t know at times what I’d have done without him. It hasn’t been possible for me to keep up with the labour side of a garden in the few previous years – digging up grass, turning over borders, keeping on top of hedges. It has been incredibly frustrating. The mind knowing how it wants the garden to be and how easy it used to be to achieve compared to the moment when you are sick and can’t. It gave a great void. Almost like a glass that was once easy to fill but I could only reach so much of filling that glass before being halted. It was like the glass had a hole in the bottom and was draining it out quicker than I could pour in. Helplessness and despair as I watched the garden go out of control. I knew ‘it could be better.’ I’d experienced better.

Twenty one years earlier, I lived in a different house to the one I live in now. I was pregnant and healthy with my first child and my garden was my joy. It too was big work in progress as I’d bought a rundown house with a rundown garden. My surrounding neighbours would always comment about how wonderful it was starting to look and how pretty the flowers growing were.

I would go out every evening after work to weed, tend and water my plants. This was actually how I managed to break my waters at thirty eight weeks pregnant. I was weeding the border, down on my hands and knees when ‘pop’ my waters burst.

My beautiful dark haired son was born in November which meant by the May of the following year I had a bonny little baby boy at the age of smiles, sitting up and the pleasure of teaching and entertaining him. It was probably my favourite summer of my life and I spent much of that time with him sat on a blanket in the garden near me while I was doing the garden. I thought I was clever for producing this gorgeous though at times serious and frowning child of mine.

Whenever I took my son for a walk in his pushchair, my neighbours would ‘coo’ and gush over him while commenting on my developing garden. Positive words of encouragement and I was contributing towards the upkeep and look of the overall neighbourhood because I could. I was fit, healthy strong and a young mum with a new baby but still doing a great job with a garden.

Life has thrown a few unexpected twists and spirals and I’m now in a different house with a large garden. I’ve been in this house for seven years. However, my experience amongst the neighbours has been different. I moved in as a single parent of three with a chronic health condition and this alone is quite a combination. We often hear healthy parents of two with regular support networks complain about how difficult parenting is. My Health condition creates more stigma because of the fact that unless I’m having a flair then it is not clear that there is anything wrong with me. I look healthy on the outside but my immune system isn’t and nobody can see the immune system. Therefore it is widely misunderstood.

My life now is very different. I’m forty two years of age and in the scheme of it still young and I certainly don’t think I am or should feel old. My life is about preventing flairs to my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Flairs that make me weak, anaemic, losing weight, walking and moving like a ninety year old and unable to open a door. Health has to be a priority for me every day because if I don’t make it so then I risk unsettling a disease and progressing it. I don’t like the medication that I’m on. So why would I want to risk trying to need more?

Therefore, there are times when I’ve been unable to keep on top of my garden. Gardens are always growing. First there was the overgrowing grass, then the hedges started going out of control, the fences began looking dilapidated and in need of a coat of paint, the weeds under the hedges seemed to pop up in defiance. So I experienced the judgements from neighbours differently this time. Not such positive judgements. After all they are mostly retired, a fair bit older than me and in their minds I’m younger, I should be keeping on top of the garden better than them and yes if life goes to plan then that’s exactly how it should be. I tried to think about how I could get round this the best. Common sense told me to explain. I tried to explain to one.

‘I have Rheumatoid Arthritis’

The response was:

‘I’m in my seventies and I have a bad back’

The neighbour didn’t want an explanation of what Rheumatoid Arthritis is and to be fair that was their choice. They didn’t want enlightenment on the immune system that is ageing. I’m younger and obviously it can be seen that if you put us both side by side that my face and body look younger. However, we can’t take our immune systems out of our body to compare with each other. If we could then my immune system would probably look exactly the same in age or even worse and they don’t have the three children or work to manage on top of a garden too…

Another older neighbour did have a little more understanding:

‘You need to pay somebody to do your garden, that’s what I do.’

Ok. I have a partner but we don’t live together for practical reasons. Mostly size of the home and he has a daughter too. Financially I had three dependents. Affording somebody to do my garden at that point was not practical. I was paying for driving lessons for my eldest son and saving up money for him to go to university. I genuinely wanted to invest in my family to help them. As a single mother in the UK and knowing full well the extent of our foodbanks, I felt lucky to be able to do that. The garden had to take a back seat. I needed to plough into work for financial gain just to be able to do that.

Another neighbour had even better advice:

‘You can get your sons to help you.’

A single mum, with teen boys who are fairly close in age. How many teens are enthusiastic to do their part without a lot of nagging? I don’t believe I have teens who are any different to others. Chronically ill mothers can only nag so much before they become ground down and there were many times I found myself in bed just after our evening meal just by doing that.

Then of course, I do have a partner but there were reasons for him not being able to help keep on top of the garden. Mainly he has his own responsibilities, bills, a child and at that time the work he was in were really working him like a work horse. He was becoming sick himself.

However, this year seems to have been different. We have a world wide nasty virus and I’ve been shielding with my family. My teen boys seem to have grown more into themselves, my partner is in a better job with a better quality of life. My disease is under control with medication, diet and self care techniques. One technique has been to carry on and ignore judgemental neighbours because I knew we would lift at some point. Offering advice or judgements but never offering help. Of course I can forgive this and we are now all on much better speaking terms. I don’t know what problems they’ve got going on in their lives.

We’ve been able to tackle the overgrown garden and it is developing wonderfully. The teens have joined in a little too. I’ve grown edible flowers, wild strawberries, rhubarb, peas, beans, many herbs, pea shoots, chilli’s, lettuces, radishes… to name a few. Not everthing has been a success. Many of my peas have not survived and I felt disheartened as they are supposed to be easy. Chronic illness has taught me to have a back up plan. I’ve therefore planted some French beans as a replacement.

It has been a joy regaining control over the garden. To the point that last night while watering my garden and planting a Worcester berry bush I had one of those comparison moments. I was taken back to being pregnant with my son, it was an evening in late July and I had decorated my dining room a lovely lilac colour. I was outside on a fresh and new built patio, watering pot plants and looking back towards the dining room that was lit up… Feeling proud of my house that I was improving with my hard work and very little money. Contentment washed over me and that was the summer before one of the best summers of my life.

Yesterday evening in late July, I looked up at my lit Kitchen. It was decorated a couple of years now, by my own hands… a nice teal colour. I was swinging my watering can happily after watering my plants and a thought crossed my mind. What if this is a sign that next year is going to be another best summer of my life.

I forgot how much gardens can give us hope and I am feeling quite grateful for that wonderful feeling.

Why I’ve given up the saying… ‘it could be worse’ No… actually… ‘it could be better…’

Afterall, nobody wants to be near somebody who is complaining or moaning do they? Stiff upper lip culture… us brits we are great at it. Get on your marching boots and off we go. We seem to be split amongst us of those who like to appear to have ‘our shit’ together and the others who are a bit more honest but normally add the saying ‘It could be worse’

My mother was one of those people and I grew up watching that, she probably too had that instilled and conditioned into her. I myself have grown up and in my darkest hours thought how there are people who are in worse conditions than myself and how it could be worse. During that time it was clearly what I needed to tell myself, I guess to get through things we all need a little brainwash and as long as it’s not prolonged then I feel it’s not harmful as it’s true there are always people who are having some sort of situation worse. I have a roof over my head, warm (though at times in need of a repair house) large garden, money left over after I’ve paid my bills and outgoings. Work I enjoy. I will never be wealthy and don’t really aspire to be as I’m certain that comes with other difficulties, but like most people comfortable is nice. We have a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment. Comfortable would be nice. A partner who absolutely worships me. Obviously I’m aware that it has not always been like that. I’ve been in situations where it could have gone one way or another. Rolled the dice and hoped for a six. Wondering if it was going to end on the one. I guess that is life and some times we can roll our dice and see what we end up with and it’s not too opposite a risk or chance. Other things in life are out of our control. There are other times we have the chance to roll the dice and we simply don’t for what ever reason. Happy to live a simple, slow and steady life and sometimes at the risk of unhappiness in areas – complaining about areas but not really changing anything and sometimes it’s not the right time to do so. We have to wait, trudge along just looking at our feet. I’ve been that person too… One marching boot in front of the other. Not stopping. Not listening. My soul probably suffocated and wondering when I was ever going to stop the rhythm, breathe, open my ears, look around me and look upwards at the sky not down.

It has not always been like that as I’ve taken risks, those risks that the choice either way will take us into opposite directions. Sometimes the risks have been absolutely necessary and they’ve involved what ever way I walked down the road wasn’t going to be good. And I’ve taken the risks that meant the way was clear ahead a certain time and a really easy choice to make but looking back too the easy way is not always the way. That easy way can actually bring you to other obstacles further on.

The risks I’ve taken that have sort of been easy. Were leaving home at a very young age to the other side of the country and escaping a toxic family but didn’t completely cut them off, that’s a whole different story and probably caused far more suffering down the end of the road. But I guess I needed to learn that lesson. Moved into the circles of what I thought was the perfect existence and to be honest for a while it completely paid off. I worked for a comfortable existence, good jobs, took little unharmful risks, changed workplaces even if it meant slightly less pay but normally that involved another climb quite quickly. Climbed the property ladder, taking more risks and was in a position to have my children reasonably young.

Looking back I guess that was a bit of a risk, perhaps it needed a bit longer because after my children I couldn’t be separated in a career woman sort of sense from my children so I took a risk and gave my career job up. Decided to try other things and study for a degree because I still have a brain and with the hope that when the children were of an age I’d be a Teacher, which sadly if my family hadn’t been a toxic family and I hadn’t felt so unsure of myself would have been the road I’d have gone down before leaving home. That takes me back to how sometimes our circumstances make us choose risks that seem fairly easy but cause other problems.

You see I always wanted to be a Teacher. I’m now a Tutor but that’s more choice because of health problems and health has to come first. I’ve learned it’s not worth playing that risk dice game all of the time and I’m fairly lucky to have that choice. Not taking it for granted after all, life is a learning curve and it could be one of those more difficult risks further on down the line. But my wits are telling me to stay put for now.

The time I took a leap of faith with three children and I was quite poorly, into the unknown was my biggest risk as it didn’t just involve myself. That was one of those risks that meant it was going to be a long road of hardship no matter what and there are certain risks looking back that I regret. Risks to my health physically and mentally. Hind sight is a great thing because looking back there was an easier route. Should have… Could have… mainly it would have been to change the environment around me, focus on my own health and wellbeing. It took me far too long to reach that point of risk. Letting other people and their judgements hinder my life, judgements based on their own capabilities or inabilities. My health and the future of myself and family – the rest would have followed with that level of trust not fear. I’ve learned the most difficult way that sometimes you have to do what is best for yourself especially if you have the opportunity to do so.

I’ve had the joy of reward in working for Charities that support families with social issues. Had training in areas such as Domestic Abuse. Admittedly it was against women not men and we alll know that men can suffer too but this was about women. This is another area that I’ve grown up around. I’ve been a child in a women’s shelter. I was very young and all I can remember now is that it was dark and sheets on the bed were crisp white and clean. I was confused but feeling safe.

We talk about change and if we are not happy about something then we should change it. But there are times when it’s not possible. Acceptance and normalising situations at times is exactly what happens. That wasn’t something I was trained in, that was what I witnessed first hand. Through the eyes of a child.

A woman getting dragged down the road by her hair. New to the experience. Her neighbour a little more experienced comforted, her after the incident.

‘Come on love I’ll make you a cup of tea, let’s go and talk about it, it gets easier’

And so the words begin ‘It could be worse!’

There is always somebody who is having it worse. You don’t need to change anything because there are people having it worse.

However, there are people who are having it better.

It could or should always be better.

I have a new wine recipe this Friday because home made wine is one of those things that can be worse but can be better.

Why I’ll always choose a creative kitchen over a tidy kitchen… Making Wine… again…

As I write this, I’m sat in my front room which is currently as tidy as my kitchen. To the left of me, I’ve got packs of vegetable seeds, some half open, books about healing flowers and earth energies, bunches of garden sage hung up in a bundle, a bucket with bottle brushes ready to clean some wine bottles. To the right of me are note books, pens, pencils, brand new tomato plant food and fertiliser to be put away and to the front a succulent project (involving a gold fish bowl) in the making and some newly dried towels ready to be folding.

The downstairs in my house is only two rooms with an added downstairs bathroom. A front room, squashed into a front room dining room and a kitchen that was supposed to be a kitchen diner but it most certainly isn’t. Hence the adaptation. I need space to work in a kitchen because I find cooking, baking and making wine enjoyable – when I have the time. Cooking is something I have to do and do quite enjoy cooking meals for my family, baking is something that requires patience and time… something I don’t always have time for at the moment. Especially as I’m trying to develop a from the garden to the kitchen (while learning as I go) with food supplies. Wine is something that I do enjoy making and is something that can be experimented with. I grew up with a grandfather who was an active country wine brewer.

Now brewing is not something I actively pursued from a young age. I actually only started experimenting with it just after I reached 40 years of age. It’s fun to try new things, it keeps our minds fresh, vibrant, learning and questioning. I can remember the first batch of wine I made… carrot wine. Carrot wine was the first wine my Grandfather allowed me to try and I remember that I really liked it. When I say batch… I went for a full 5 gallons worth and was boiling carrots for most of the morning. With nervous anticipation I really wanted it to work. I’m the sort of person who cares and if I do something I really want it to go well.

It did work but not straight away. It took a good five days for the yeast to activate and the bubbles to appear and I was quite astounded by how fizzy, bubbly and lovely sounding they pop. It was fascinating and relaxing. Just like when you sit and watch tropical fish. I can understand why children with autism perhaps just enjoy sitting and watching lights in sensory development. Perhaps all of us need time to sit and watch bubbles, fish, stars, lights – like a form of meditation.

Similarly after I’d syphoned the wine into demi-johns and bunged them. It was just as therapeutic monitoring the sediment slowely falling to the bottom as the days went by, the bubbles floating around the plastic tube to tell me how much air was still pushing round.

I did achieve successful wine, I carried on experimenting with other wines. Wine is one of those interesting things that it can be made from anything including potatoes or just t-bags.

I gave up making wine for a little while. Life had other priorities but today I’ve been back in that kitchen and making wine. A sort of mix of herbal wine with pears. My kitchen is now nice and messy. A lot has been going on in there.

My inspiration for today’s wine has been white clovers, Lavender, lemon balm, thyme flowers, left overripe pears, lemon and some tea tannins, with water… put together with sugar and I’m nearly at the point of sprinkling in the yeast. I’ve not been crazy with quantities of how much I’m making as I guess we can’t live off wine alone – although it would be nice! For me, this is just trying to build up some self reliance and though I lack house space I do have wonderful garden space. Small house, large garden is the perfect combination. My inspiration has been to just use up bits and pieces. My herbs (not the lemon balm) are still quite small as they were new plants to go into the ground this year. I have masses of white clover in my lawn and it smells beautiful when you have a clump in a dish. It takes a long time to pick enough clover to make a pure clover wine. My family are unfortunately busy today but if you have a young family, I’m sure they’ll delight in picking clover flowers.

The kitchen is untidy, I’m blogging and about to start a couple of tutoring jobs in an hours time. Perhaps messy kitchens are a sign of being busy, productive and using a kitchen properly rather than being lazy.

No doubt there will be more to update on the wine front over the next week with the recipe once I’ve written it all up and in order.

I hope whatever you manage to fit in this weekend that a little creativity is pushed into it. I know I’ll find something.

The Wine so far…

Sunday – the wellness day… preparing for the week… Grounding self

I have a busy week coming up. Lots to juggle. It feels a lot to juggle for me. I generally spend Sunday thinking about the coming week and what needs to be managed.

Over the coming week, I’ve got a few extra bits such as going to the Doctors for my monthly blood tests, an engineer coming out to fix the boiler, medication deliveries. Plus some finances that are going to involve phone calls.

This will be on top of my normal juggle of managing teens, ensuring daughter is doing her school work during the lockdown, the food shopping, daily cooking, washing, housework and tutoring jobs.

For a healthy person a few extra jobs in the week is just that. A few extra jobs. For me, I start feeling anxiety that I’ll remember to do the jobs and achieve them, hoping my brain fog doesn’t kick in or that I won’t become too fatigued to manage. Hoping that too many unforeseen emergencies don’t happen to change the priorities.

The jobs no doubt will be completed, they always are. Then I’ll have the lovely feeling of reward from the productivity. I try to not be too hard on myself and remind myself that I am living with a chronic health condition and therefore my productivity measure needs to be adjusted accordingly and accordingly as to what is going on in my life at that time. Sometimes things will be very together other times they won’t be and that is something I understand very well and can accept. This has not always been easy. Not when you have responsibilities and people in your midst who may not have the same understanding of the extra struggles living with a what can be an invisible disability. They can’t see the medication, the side effects or what is going on inside the body.

How I’ve learned to manage this is to go back to traditional times of Sunday being a day of rest. Something our fast paced society doesn’t always allow for. I might watch box sets for the entire day. Allowing the housework to build up but ensuring we all have a lovely wholesome meal cooking in the oven. Other times it might be a trip out in nature. Time to sit and read, pamper myself or at the moment it seems to be pottering around the garden. And when I say pottering, I mean just that, not rushing around.

I generally find if I can have and enjoy this day of rest it brings my anxiety of the coming week into balance. By doing joyful and simple things I’m resting my body and relaxing my mind. Then once Monday arrives I’m normally revitalised for the hamster wheel of the week to begin.

Whatever your week holds in store may you recognise and be grounded to begin.

Who is going to want you now? Helping healing with nature…

Words that may be designed to hurt us…

I never set out to meet another partner after I divorced.  Not a full time one anyway.

On my way to being a divorced woman with three children. I was sinking in debt.  I have an autoimmune disease that had me fatigued and walking like I was closer to being in my nineties than somebody just out of her twenties… Who would want me anyway?

So I convinced myself, it was not going to happen to me.  Not a full time one anyway.  Perhaps a part time one.  But not a permanent one.

As I write this, I am not entirely sure I can write to show you the complete despair that I was feeling at the start of my journey.  The decision to face being alone with my three children between the ages of 5 and 10.  It was ten years ago and the feelings I that I have in the pit of my stomach are fairly calm and joyful compared to the huge raging storms that were going on at the time.  I’m looking back at a chapter of my life that I’m no longer in.  A lot happens in a decade.  Every now and again it’s good to look back to see how far we’ve come.  I do remember that it felt like my brain was thunder and lightning, up high in a dark sky.   My stomach the sea beneath, raging with anger, swirling up high, spitting froth and crashing against rocks.   Never stopping, nothing would stop it.    My whole being was the boat and not a modern sturdy boat but a wooden pirate boat and its sail had just blow off.  Just crashing about, not really knowing what the future will hold, just trying to survive and stay afloat of those waves with the strong force gales hoping the storm to pass quickly.

That was the start of it.  Some storms pass quicker than others.  But this one wasn’t going to be like that.  I was sat on the conservatory floor, staring my debt.  The tears falling down like the first rain drops and hitting my lemon three quarter trousers, I watched the way they fell and hit.  It felt slightly cleansing.  I knew that it was going to be a long lasting storm but still I headed into it with very little protection. I was making a decision that wouldn’t just impact upon me but my entire family.

‘I will be ok eventually’ the words I uttered many times during the first year.  Possibly through prayer.

With shaking hands I reached out and phoned the authorities to ask for support as to how I could leave my marriage and everything behind.

This wasn’t an out of the blue decision, this was something that had gone on for years.  Slowly in marriage and motherhood.  My exterior life was not matching my interior soul.  I was not moving in the direction that was true to myself.

Like many people who get together young, when they don’t fully always know themselves.  Some grow another way and it unsettles the relationship.  Some grow together.

We grew apart.  We went from young freedom to society expectations of ‘keeping up appearances’  This had a profound impact on my mental and physical health.  I lost myself.  A lesson I’ve learned is that our exterior must match our interior else we do become imbalanced.

The next few months following the conservatory breakdown were a blur.  The transition from the marital home to finding a new home for myself and children took time – my failing health was not making things easy.  After a while my husband seemed to take the news that I was leaving quite well.  I quickly learned that it was because  as soon as myself and the children moved out he then moved his new girlfriend in.

His final sentence before I left the door, a smirk on his face:

‘Who is going to want you now?’

 I think he thought he had beaten me to some game.  Bruised egos we all react differently, and I guess it’s natural to want to stick a knife in.

I don’t blame him for that. However, I did for a while as really, who wants their children introduced to a new partner so soon when the children themselves are healing? I would have liked it much slower process for the children but there are some things when we make a decision that we no longer have a say in. 

‘Who is going to want you now?’

Those words didn’t hurt as I’d already convinced myself and to be honest somebody else wasn’t what I wanted.  A part time one maybe.. After my marriage experience I’d started to question whether women got the easy part in a relationship.  A part time one.  One who I didn’t need to cook for, clean for, wash his socks.  I had children to do all of that for.  A part time one would be fine, possibly perfect.

I was off to build a future with my children, find out where my lost soul was and grow without the shackles of marriage that I’d felt for many years.

Ten years on and as I sit on my purple armchair overlooking my lush green garden and admiring the purple lavender heads swaying slowly in a gentle breeze.  I think back to that pirate boat trying to survive the storm.  I guess it did survive that long hard, cold, bitter storm that shook all its sails off.   It did eventually land on the shore, very battered around the edges and it now lives in a different environment.  A much smaller environment, open more to natural elements including sunshine, joy and the scent of flowers including the heady sweet calming effects of lavender. It has taken a while as there have been little storms in between. Yet Gradually the ship has recovered, even becoming a little varnished these days.  Sat firmly anchored and hoping it doesn’t have to set to stormy seas again but in life nothing is certain. I’m no longer that just left the twenties but walking and moving like I’d entered my 80’s.   I’ve now left my 30s and can now skip, hop and jump.  Still good days and bad days but grateful that lots of those days a little light shines in or just a rainbow.

And did it happen to me?

Well yes it did. 7 years together and though we got together in imperfect circumstances, we’ve managed to create something quite perfect to us. Probably much to the surprise of many around me. You see it wasn’t just my husband who uttered the words.  There were others.

‘Who is going to want you now?’

What is going to become of you?’

Are any of us better off staying just in case nobody else is going to want us?  Worrying what is going to become of us…

I guess there was something a little higher up, perhaps sat steering that boat who told herself. 

‘It won’t happen to me. It doesn’t matter.  I’ll survive this and eventually find happy days no matter what.’

And she did.  And in the process learned a lot about resilience, hanging on and that stormy seas don’t have to last forever.

 Ship wrecked boats can get together and fix each other’s sails and when it happens.  It’s quite a beautiful thing. 

Garden to the Kitchen… Promoting simpler living

Welcome to my blog – Wine Making Friday…

This is the start of my journey to self improvement through what I’m fortunate to already have around me. I’m a big believer in expressing gratitude and appreciating some of the small things we might have in our lives. It is often the simplest things that can give us so much joy. I guess even reading blog posts are a simple past time that we can spend a few minutes absorbing into somebody else’s world. Learn and gain some inspiration that encourages us to push on. I certainly hope that this is the case upon visiting my blog. If I achieve this within the next year then I will be very happy.

Building a sense of community…

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. As a child I would create short radio plays and cartoon type character books. I very much enjoyed reading and writing and have very much carried that on throughout my life through various study courses and publications.

Unlike reading and writing – gardening was not something I was overly involved in as a child but I always had a curiosity and would question and talk to a neighbour about her garden. It was after a long stay with my grandparents when I was aged 15 that I really began to enjoy plants and flowers. My Grandfather said to me: ‘you really enjoy plants and flowers’ I guess we all have somebody in our life who perhaps instill passions and interests within us. I’m certain it was my Grandfather who instilled much of mine. He was an avid fan of making his own beer and wine, enjoyed cooking, reading, local history. All of the interests that I myself have enjoyed throughout my life. His influence most definitely helped and some of my achievements were working in his favourite (though very small) Museum and being published in the local county magazine that he’d subscribed and read each month without failure since the 1960’s.

I believe that my Grandfather was never bored because he had so many interests and his interests were fairly simple and never required a lot of money to do. I think that might have been generational. We seem to have moved into an era that has become incredibly fast paced and though I’m not a Scientist or a Doctor, I often wonder about the alarmingly increasing anxiety rates that we have due to the fast pace, the constantly doing attitude that we have.

Of course, that’s not to say that the older generation wouldn’t have had problems. They certainly wouldn’t have had access to the technology or household appliances within the homes that we have now which none of us can deny certainly is a huge advantage. However, I question how much we’ve progressed but then perhaps regressed in simple rituals.

I believe we’ve reached a point where the things that have helped to speed society up could have been used much more to an advantage in giving us free time, free time to utilize how we choose. I guess the current Covid 19 Pandemic has made many of us think about our lives before and what we want after the crisis is over. Many of us are also probably coping with less money at the moment and thinking about ways of cutting our cloth. I think this is something the older generation certainly seemed to hold the edge with their savvy resourcefulness.

This was something that hit me 14 years ago after the birth of my third child and I became quite poorly with Rheumatoid Arthritis. No it’s not ‘just arthritis’ it’s not ‘wear and tear’ I was previously a healthy young woman and quite physically strong and active. It’s a systematic disease managed with drugs that can give awful side effects. IT is also a progressive disease.

It’s all another story but my failing health took a lot from me, financially, relationship wise etc… It has been a huge learning curve on the impacts a disability has on a persons life. It also took a way a lot of my joy. The things I’d previously enjoyed such as gardening and writing just seemed to be too much hard work. I guess I still had children to look after and health to get back on track.

The bounce back…

Health problems, physically and mentally take as long as they take to heal, there is no timeline as to how long it should be, it’s an individual process and journey. For an active person the frustrations of learning to live with a chronic disease has been huge. 14 years on, I’m still not sure I’ve hit ‘my new normal’ but I do feel like I’m getting there. And the joy I gain from gardening is coming back and no longer feeling forced. It is also taking me away from my own vice with technology and social media which ironically hit after I became poorly – like I’ve said previous there are advantages. A great way for us all to be on equal footing when we are housebound or fatigued. I feel the gardening is lifting some of my own personal constant fatigue – celebrating those small victories. Showing my friends my latest plant that I’m growing etc.. That expression of gratitude whether it’s planting some seeds, watering plants or just pulling out weeds. The scent of the earth reminding me to get grounded.

I hope this blog encourages others to create something and I hope it promotes positivity on addressing and dealing with health problems using simple methods. To give home and encouragement that there is enjoyment to still be had and that you have every right to do and enjoy.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

May we start building our community.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.