Mother’s Day after mum has gone

I could be sad this weekend. I could lock myself away and cry. But I don’t feel like crying. I feel like living.

My mum died in December – just four months ago and I have cried and and I have been angry. But also from the day she died and even before, I’ve told myself you have to make the most of every single day in this life. I know it’s a cliche but sitting and holding the hand of someone you’ve loved for four decades while they slip away puts your own life into perspective.

Things seem sharper now. More in focus.

Sure, I still have not-so-great days and I’m not leaping out of bed every day singing The Sound of Music and striking 50 things off my bucket list but I feel like there’s a constant clarity here now – one that I’ve been lucky enough to have glimpses of in the past.

I guess I’m recovering from grieving because the joy I feel in living is a result of experiencing the deep pain of loss. For me grief was a heavy ache in my chest, sometimes a sharper, deeper cut. Intense tiredness and the foggy hazy confusion of the first few weeks. I’ve also felt such a strong desire to let her go, it made me question others who maybe wouldn’t let her go so easily. I feel like my mum had a whirlwind of a life. It picked her up and put her down in various places, good and bad. When I think of her 63 years it seems like a blink. When I think of my 44 years it also seems like a blink. Also – my mum is still with me, I know that, so I don’t feel loss in the ‘gone forever’ sense. Others say how much they miss their loved ones and how they’ll never get to speak to them again. You can speak to them anytime you want. And if you listen very carefully you will hear them talk to you. Try it.

This week has been a particularly spiritual serendipitous one. I’ve actually felt a bit high which scares me as I wonder if there will be a low to follow. I’ve just had to think of things and they’ve happened (yes, really). I’ve stopped to listen to people more, taken time for myself and tried to be more accepting of everything. I think I’ve just slowed down a gear and doing that means I can see everything more clearly along the way. I hope this continues.

My gift to my mother this Mother’s Day is to enjoy my life as she would have wanted me to do – more than anything in the world. I know that 100% because I am a mum too. And if I could only have one wish – it would be, it is…..that my children are happy.

Exeter streets paved with gold!

Following on from my moan about money (or lack of) post the other day I just wanted to give you a quick update. After scouring loads of money saving and debt freeing websites and blogs I decided to start with a couple of easy to do projects. One is the money jar idea from money saving expert and the other was to enter more competitions.

So the money jar is pretty much what it says on the tin. We have a sealed sweetie jar we fill with spare cash as a way of saving. Anytime we have any spare coins in our purses, we empty them into the jar. You can save for anything you want or need but after reading lots of debt advice sites, I’m going with setting up an emergency fund first so once the jar is full it will be transferred to our credit union account. Ethical local savings which are not easy to access – unless of course we have an emergency! Then we will start another jar to save for Natasha’s new piano!

Apparently thousands of UK families are just one pay cheque away from poverty (us included) so I’m trying to change this around. One funny thing I came across was adding ‘roadkill’ to the jar – this is money you find apparently. Well spookily as soon as we started the jar, we started to find money on the street. Ok maybe a 2p here or a 5p there  but I love finding it and it all goes in the jar. Me and the kids found two really shiny 20p’s walking home the other day – it’s like treasure and great fun to look for with the kids!

As for competitions…..I’ll do another blog on this in a few days. Don’t forget to add your comments below. I’d love to hear your money saving ideas, tips & advice.

Hoping for Hope!

From the age of about ten I got hooked on helping, developing a passion for volunteering once I realised that little old me could actually make a worthwhile difference in this crazy world. I must thank the www.wwf.org.uk as they were the ones who put on a sponsored walk in my local park and this gave me the opportunity to take part in something which had a tangible result. Raising money and giving my time gave me a buzz back then and has done repeatedly over the years for the many community and charity projects I’ve been involved in.

Creating a community orchard
Creating a community orchard

So 34 years on from that WWF walk I’m currently working full-time fundraising for a Hospice charity but I have been looking for an interesting challenge for a little while now. I’ve jumped out of a plane for NSPCC and climbed the highest mountain in North Africa for Rainbow Trust, helped build our local Community Centre and done several years political volunteering standing for elections etc. amongst other things but it’s been a few years since I’ve felt excited about a new…big project.

Rainbow trek in Morocco (I'm in yellow)
Rainbow trek in Morocco (I'm in yellow)

As I know I can’t actually fix the entire world (although I do sometimes lay awake at 3am trying to work this out) I would have to say the two things I currently focus on are animals and children. My previous job was fundraising for an animal sanctuary and I’m a dedicated vegan. I also have two rapidly growing children who are my world and I cannot bear to see children suffering anywhere on the planet.

Getting political !
Getting political !

So having been looking for something to help with for a little while two programmes touched me and gave me the direction I’d been looking for. First of all watching TV presenter Saira Khan in Adopting Abroad being handed a tiny baby left on the orphanage steps in Pakistan completely broke my heart. As a lifelong feminist, the fact that this was a baby girl really hit hard, one of the lucky ones not left to die alone soon after birth on a rubbish tip in a culture which values males far above females.

The second programme was Kolkata with Sue Perkins which highlighted the work of The Hope Foundation with street and slum children in this Indian city of 15 million people. I was sold. Hope needed volunteers and I had my cause.

So I’ve applied to spend 3 weeks in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) volunteering plus fundraising in advance and trying to help raise the profile of this incredible little charity which I will tell you more about over the next few months. With working full-time and having a family I can only commit to the minimum volunteering stint of 3 weeks. So while I wait for the interview and reference process to be completed, I’d love to hear comments from you of the things which have made you jump up off the sofa and do something useful with your life and any tips and advice on travelling and staying in India also appreciated. Please post your comments below…

Sue with the street children The Hope Foundation helps
Sue with the street children The Hope Foundation helps

It’s broke & we gotta fix it !

Had a bee in my bonnet for a few days about not having any money and having a look around the online community I frequent, it seems I am not the only one! Apparently Frugal February is upon us and we’re all feeling a post Christmas panic at the lack of cash in our pockets and wonga in our accounts.

I do find this rather perplexing however as we’re a family (mum, dad, 15 yr old & 11 yr old) who do not go mad at Christmas in any way, shape or form and certainly do not spend any more on food or drink. For me personally, my Mum died in December so I was not even in a place where buying presents for anyone was even on my radar. Luckily for the kids, my husband had it all sorted via online shopping but did not go mad.

So back to now and it seems that there just is not enough money coming in from our two jobs. I must add that we both earn less than the average UK wage although we’re both graduates in our mid-forties. I could go on about our extortionate Devon rent, poor south west wages etc. etc. etc.  but the reason I am writing this blog is to say I’VE HAD ENOUGH!

I’ve had enough of being poor and struggling and I want a better life. I want to pay off our debts and get a decent secure place to live.  Ideally I’d like to own again one day but Dan and I would happily live in a shipping container home or a timber kit house.

I’ve been scouring the ‘how to be debt free’ websites for tips for our already pretty frugal family and have come up with some ideas which I will be sharing with you as I try them out. Be great to hear your comments, tips and advice too  as long as it doesn’t involve leaving Devon or selling the kids to slavery!

One Month

A month ago yesterday I lost my Mum and I’ve never been less afraid of dying than I am today. Living is the complicated confusing exhausting and sometimes exhilarating part. But mostly mundane, everyday, you-know-what, do what we have to kind of living we all do which makes it hard to ‘live everyday to it’s fullest’. Hard when we’re tired, grieving, working, getting the kids to school and paying the bills.

I sat holding Mum’s hand until she decided to let go. Of the disease, the pain, a colourful, certainly never dull life and her loved ones. And then we all faced the dazed days afterwards, sometimes together, sometimes alone. I said to my brother it will soon be days then months then years since this day. And now as I write this, one month has gone already. I will soon, in the blink of an eye no doubt, be reading this after one year – December 2nd.
In just a few days time my newest nephew will be one whole month old. He is Mum’s 7th grandchild who arrived one week to the day after Mum had gone. I held him when he was less than a day old and the last tender caring kiss a week before became the first nourishing hopeful protective kiss. Life goes on.
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One day more….

les mis cosetteI was googling for photos from the 2016 Honiton Community College production of Les Miserables and came across my old blog post from when the school put on the show before back in 2011 – see www.sharonpavey.org/les-mis-at-honiton-community-college

It was amazing back then when I went to watch it with my nine year old daughter Natasha. What makes it more amazing this year is that Natasha, now 14 is in it! She sings a duo with her best friend Finley as factory girls and they they feature in nearly every scene singing and acting their hearts out in the chorus.
I went to the opening night on Thursday and last night’s closing night where almost the whole cast were in tears – a very emotional journey for them. The whole production was a stunning ensemble effort and certain characters stood out for me. They were Inspector Javert (a student from Sidmouth College who came in at the last minute), Jean Valjean, Fantine and Gavroche. The Madame Thenardier scene with the French bread was hilarious and the orchestra were incredible – particularly the percussionist switching seamlessly from one instrument to another at the blink of an eye.
Fantine’s I dreamed a dream had me in tears on the first night and I really enjoyed Do you hear the people sing, Drink with me and Javert’s Soliliquay before he hurls himself off the bridge!
Natasha is shattered after weeks of rehearsals and four performances of Les Mis but off down to The Globe Theatre today in Plymouth for rehearsals of her next production with her Italia Conti Plymouth drama school. They’re doing The Best of British in a couple of weeks so looking forward to that. You can follow Natasha on Twitter @natashapavey.uk or her blog http://natashapavey.uk

Pre-heating the world?

I had this idea the other day when I was baking (random I know but stay with me!). Most recipes start with ‘pre-heat your oven to such and such a temperature’ don’t they while you then spend ten or twenty minutes preparing the food to go in the oven….

preheatovenI read something a couple of years ago in an environmental tips book or article that said DON’T pre-heat your oven…..as it’s really not necessary for most recipes. It will also a) save you money on the electric/gas b) save the planet by using less fuel.

So back to my recipe – I’m making scones with my thirteen year old daughter and we get to chatting about this. What if there was a campaign to educate people to stop pre-heating their ovens, this could surely save a hell of a lot of fuel and money on bills in the long-term. And there could be other environmental hints and tips too as part of this. Anyway it’s just an idea at this stage and would need investigating. It would be good to hear from some chef’s about the pre-heating idea. Treehugger.com says it’s a myth, an old wives tale to pre-heat your oven. The Energy Community takes my idea further saying switch off your oven 5 minutes before the recipe says too thus saving even more of that precious energy – genius!

So there are clearly websites out there with some great tips and advice us greenies love to read BUT how do we get these messages through to everyone? What do you think – I’d love to hear your comments, please add them to the blog.


Climate Change – how do we make a difference?

It is now 5 years since I ‘woke up’ to what was happening to our beautiful planet.

earthReports on the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen were all over the media in 2009 and this caught my attention. I felt the need to do something about climate change and decided entering politics was the way I could try and make a difference. I joined the Green Party and stood as Parliamentary Candidate for East Devon in 2010.

Since then I’ve stood for town, district and county councils and I’ve been a town councillor for Honiton Town council since 2011. I was a founding member of East Devon Green Party in 2011 and helped set up Transition Town Honiton the same year.

The East Devon Green Party has grown tenfold over the past three years and now has four members working hard as parish councillors. The support for the Green Party in this rural traditionally Tory area was illustrated in the results for Honiton St Michael’s last year, when I polled 25% in the Devon County Council elections.

So……five years on I’m thinking, is being in politics the way to do something about climate change? I’d love to hear from you, please do leave a comment, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Volunteers Needed in Honiton

8717873_origLooking for a voluntary job – can you spare 2 hours a month? We need you at Honiton Plough and Share Credit Union. I am the volunteer co-ordinator for the branch which is basically an ethical community bank. They do savings accounts and loans but unlike these notorious payday lenders, they offer affordable loans to people who perhaps cannot easily get credit at a low rate elsewhere. We could do with a couple more volunteers – just to do one Tuesday morning every 4-6 weeks. This is from 9.45am until just after 12. There is training and it’s a great way to meet people too. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more – contact me.

An Ethical Community Bank in Honiton

credit-union.gi_.top_The Honiton Service Point is part of the Devon wide Plough and Share Credit Union which is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Devon’s own Plough & Share Credit Union is celebrating having a service point in Honiton for a year now. Completely staffed by dedicated local volunteers, the service point is open once a week on a Tuesday from 10am – 12 midday in Honiton Library on New Street.

Town Councillor Sharon Pavey has recently taken over managing the service point and says “I am passionate about being able to provide an ethical community bank facility here in Honiton and have been involved as a volunteer since we started over a year ago. In order to make it a success we really need everyone to support it. We need more people to open savings accounts and we need to spread the word that we can offer an alternative to payday loans, because we offer affordable borrowing options.”

Sharon is hoping the local churches and schools can help promote the Credit Union which only serves the people of Devon. A small steering group will be set up to oversee the service point. Sharon adds “We need a few people who believe in the importance of having a local ethical, affordable banking option. They would need to give a little time to oversee the project, help recruit volunteers and publicise the service point.”

A Credit Union is a democratic, financial co-operative owned and controlled by its own members. Full details about the credit union are available online on www.ploughandshare.co.uk or you can call Sharon on 07447 597390.