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.

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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To consume or not consume…

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Our beloved flat screen television, centre of our living room, has been dying a slow death over the past few months. A flickering, jumping, distorted picture would eventually come back to life after 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes. But a few weeks ago, it didn’t even do this anymore and the television grave (landfill !) beckoned. So we’ve been without a conventional television for several weeks but we’re using our laptops to watch TV, iplayer mainly or the occasional film. Put it this way – I’m not rushing out to buy a new telly….just yet.

As a family, we’ve downsized a lot over the past 3 years and we try not to have too much stuff. We also try not to buy new things if we can get something second hand or even free. Our extremely comfy (new) double bed was from a lovely lady in Kilmington via Freecycle. My 7 year old son’s latest bike is a hand me down from his step-uncle now in his twenties. I’ve just bought the most gorgeous red jacket from a local charity shop and my latest favourite purple cardi was from the clothes swap at Transition Town Honiton’s Sustainable Saturday in February. It’s not something I can say is a recent transformation, I loved charity shops and antique shops when I was a teenager too, but I did go through my twenties buying mainly new things as we climbed up the career ladder, then got our first house, had our children etc.

I’ve just read George Monbiot’s article ‘Let’s stop hiding behind recycling and be honest about consumption’ and he says “on 24 April, the Committee on Climate Change (a body that advises the UK government) will publish a report on how consumption emissions are likely to rise, and how government policy should respond to the issue. I hope this is the beginning of a conversation we have been avoiding for much too long. How many of us are prepared fully to consider the implications?”

In the local paper today, there’s a piece about a family in Axminster who lost nearly everything in a house fire a couple of weeks ago. There’s a photo of them looking quite happy to be alive and a photo of the charred ruins of their family home. I remember reading about the fire there when it happened and thinking how they all left their house in the morning, a home full of things of sentimental value they’d accrued over their lifetimes – to return at the end of the day to find everything they own had gone literally in a puff (or two) of smoke. I had a similar experience at the age of 17 when my family was made homeless, and all I took with me was what I could stuff into a small bag in a hurry. Luckily I was able to go back a few weeks later and pick up a few more things which meant something to me. By that time, I’d changed my mind about what was important anyway but unlike the family from the fire, I did manage to get my childhood teddy bear, photos and precious books etc, most of which I’ve carted round the country until this day.

I would love to hear your comments, your ideas and views – are you making a conscious effort about what to buy and what not to buy? What things are important to you in your life?

Little things to make you feel good

I stumbled upon a brilliant blog today via @CassiefairyTutu on twitter. 31 little things to feel good is the first 2013 blog entry by Cassie Fry on her Living a Girl’s Adventure Tale blog.

Cassie talks about often getting the January blues so she’s compiled a list of things to do during the first month of 2013 to keep her feeling top-top. My January blues usually come a lot earlier – in October or November as the nights start drawing in and lack of light begins to strip me of my fairly abundant energy and positive spirit. I’ve known I suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder for quite a few years now and like Cassie try to do things to keep upbeat when the days are grey and a little drop of sunshine is hard to find.

Cassie’s list of things to make her feel good include a lot of things I really enjoy too – and if I lived anywhere near Kent (which I don’t as I’m in Devon) I think we could be good mates Cassie!

Things from Cassie’s list which I try to do too are:

walk in the park

Take a stroll along the prom or in the park

Sing a song (hairbrush optional)

Wear red lipstick

Drink lots of water

Go see some art – something fun!

Eat chocolate in a big bubble bath (one of my absolute favourite things to do!)

Hug someone

Book gig or theatre tickets (something to look forward to)

Bake cookies

Make plans with a good friend that you hardly see but really miss

Make a wish

Paint your nails

Here’s some of my own additions:

Buy yourself some of your favourite flowers

Buy flowers for someone else

Go swimming (indoors heated pool generally nicer than the sea in January)

Drink champagne

Walk in the woods

Do something crafty & creative

You can add ideas to Cassies list by visiting her blog here and please add your own ideas below too. How do you keep the January blues at bay?

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I just want to leave a committed life behind

Martin & Coretta with their four children, Yolanda, Martin, Dexter and Bernice
Martin & Coretta with their four children, Yolanda, Martin, Dexter and Bernice

Martin Luther King was my age (39) when his life was cut short in 1968. Thought I’d share one of his quotes with you.

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.”

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Have you been in an aeroplane?

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A little boy told me he was afraid of heights today. I said so am I.

He said “have you been in an aeroplane?”.

I said “honey I’ve jumped out of one!”

Someone else told me they thought I was ‘fearless’ the other day. I’m not. But life is really far too short to be afraid of things, to let things stop you. Who knows if you will be here tomorrow? I’ll be 40 in January – where on earth did those 40 years go? In a blink another 40 will pass by and I’ll be 80 (hopefully).

Embrace life.

Go jump out of that plane!!

That’s my rant for today over…

Don’t forget to add your own comments, what do you think?

Extra small condoms for 12 year-old boys go on sale in Switzerland

Just read a discussion about this article in The Telegraph over on NetMums and had to add it to my blog as it’s so interesting following my article from yesterday on how to reduce teenage pregnancies in the UK.

Alexandra Williams reports that “the ‘Hotshot’ condom has been produced after government research showed 12 – 14 year olds do not have sufficient protection when having sex.”

Emily on NetMums says “Personally, I think it just gives out the message it’s ok for them to have sex.”

Tracey adds “ok – im in fear of being shot down here BUT the uk currently have the most prudish approach to sex education and the highest teen pregnancy rates outside of the usa. I did a study on teenage pregnancy and the epidimiology speaks for itself really. Switzerland has the 3rd lowest teen pregnancy rate in the world and a teen pregnancy rate of aprox 7 in 1000 where as the uk has aprox 30 in a 1000.”

Emma says “I hope along with these condoms for sale, there is extra attention advertised alongside them, to the fact they are not 100% protective against pregnancy and disease. If these are available then what is going to become available for girls to take as protection?  Having sex at 12 is illegal, and if they these extra small condoms are available to 12 year olds, then whoever sells them are they breaking the law? And if underage 12 year olds can buy them, what is to say a 7-8-9-10 etc year old can’t?? where do you draw the line when they are all classed as underage?”

Read the whole discussion over on Netmums – the local parenting network

You can read the whole article here