Sour

Patience is needed

Warning … this post is kind of not ended…..

Will not harvest these until October. Try them now and they are the perfect definition of the phrase ‘beyond sour’. Wait till October and they become just ‘sour’. Sour is as good as this tree gets. It’s still a blessing, just a blessing that makes your eyes water…..

If only you could reattach them when the Yorkshire winds knock them off. It’s a hard life being an old Apple Tree on an exposed hill top. Even in summer, it gets a right buffeting.

I remember when we first moved here and thinking how rickety that old tree looked. What would last longer, the tree or the very old wooden conservatory. Well the tree outlived the wooden structure easily. What I didn’t visualise was how much of the cycle of life that tree would see. So much life and death. Hope then devastation and then a restart.

I was trying to think of a better word than restart. Reboot? Rebirth? Renewal? Reset? Even Resilience. Maybe Growth works. Starting again. That’s another one to ponder.

I guess the best option is something to do with the cycle of life. Constantly making our way around that big rollercoaster. Bit like the old Apple tree. Each year gets a buffeting but still produces apples.

It’s so odd, I was going to talk about some stuff but suddenly the words have failed me. I can visualise them just can’t get them into sentences. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, a few tears this morning, worries about Hawklad, maybe it’s frustrations. I’ve noticed that the last few days I have absolutely hammered myself in exercise training. Over trained. Maybe I’m just dealing with stuff. I will stop waffling on. Let’s see if those particular words flow on another day.

Take care and be safe.

Potatoes

It’s potatoes for tea tonight….. Something nice about eating your own vegetables. Anyone for chips or crisps or boiled potatoes.

In the end a few went into a warming vegetable stew. Didn’t predict that.

Before 2016 I (We) spent far too much time living the future. Thoughts about retirement. Marriage in the future. Visiting places like Canada and New Zealand – in the future. Planning for retirement, maybe even an early one. Dreaming of moving to Switzerland, down the line. Another child, one day…… And yes worrying about the future. Too much time thinking about what could go wrong with meetings, plans and life. Given all the time spent worrying it’s telling that the one thing that happened was never thought about.

Then the world caved in. That future had just died.

Suddenly my mind set changed. From spending too much time living in the future, I suddenly was living in the past. Reliving memories. Too many what if, why didn’t I – questions. Refusing to move from a door which had just shut permanently. So much wasted energy.

Now in 2020, hopefully the balance is now better. It’s more about living in the moment. Yesterday has gone, tomorrow does not exist yet and is so unpredictable. The only thing I can influence is the present. Just try to enjoy every single moment. It’s not easy but so worth it.

Not my lawn

Before you think it, this is not my lawn….

I was thinking how beautiful the farmers field was as it flowed like waves in the strong summer winds. An hour later the tractor arrived to cut it. Bit of a shame really but that’s the farm working cycle. But it will grow again.

Bit like life really. One moment your up and standing tall. Then suddenly your cut down to size. Having to dust yourself off and pull yourself up, yet again. But we do. Sometimes by ourselves. Sometimes with the help of those who care. And the cycle begins again. Hopefully each time we go through this we learn just a bit more about ourselves. Find out what and who are really important to us. And then start to stand tall again.

Now it’s time to cut my grass. I wonder if the farmer will lend me his tractor. Even better a few of his sheep.

Meditation

I really am trying to commit to meditation and mindfulness. It will take time to calm my racing mind. So everyday I’m committing time to my new mindset. I’ve downloaded some apps. If only it was that easy.

  • My Doctor recommended a mediation app. I most admit it looked good until I came across the price. £300 per year. That’s stress inducing numbers….
  • I looked at alternatives apps. Many offered free elements. The first one was really good. Soothing music, dreamlike words. All was great as I enjoyed my first meditation session. That was until the app suddenly stopped with the message – to continue please purchase the full licence. Stress rising…..
  • Then the next app was tried. Yes it kinda worked. My mind was filled with just one thought. What an annoying and patronising voice. I had a sudden urge to throw a large object at the so called calming voice.
  • Then the next app had a more acceptable voice. Lie down and concentrate on your body. Fully sense how it feels. Focus on those sensations. Let everything else drift away…. Well that’s fine but all I could sense was my tight hamstring, my sore hip and my hurting finger from the earlier incident with a kettlebell. My mind was filled with three words- oh that hurts. Stress rising.
  • Then another attempt disrupted by a never ending telephone ringing…. stress rising as I start shouting. Will you stop ringing Im trying to meditate…..

I will get there. I will crack this meditation thing. The benefits are too much to ignore. But maybe there is a simpler thing to remember. Just walking outside. Sitting comfortably and just watching nature at work. The natural worlds stress busting app is still the best option out there and it’s free.

Timing

I drafted this just a few minutes before Wednesday deteriorated so rapidly. I guess it’s kinda apt now.

Sometimes your just in the right place at the right time. 20 seconds later and I would have missed the winged visitor.

It was the case with my partner. I was in the right place at the right time. She gave me the most wonderful times. Now I carry on with our Son. Trying to burn as brightly as she did. Hopefully making a few people smile along the way. That’s my excuse for the terrible jokes.

The timing of that winged visitor got me thinking. Yes I know that’s dangerous. 20 seconds later and I would have missed it. So if I had not answered that annoying telemarketing phone call then I would probably have never seen the winged visitor. So something annoying led to something quite wonderful. We (I) often forget that. It’s easy to think that ‘Bad stuff leads to more bad stuff’. Well it doesn’t always. Sometimes the bad stuff presents new opportunities.

Looking back I very nearly never took the job that led directly to me meeting my partner. I was due to take a better paid position somewhere else. At the last minute the organisation I was due to move to changed management structure. My job offer was rescinded. Next day I applied for the job that would change my life. A bad thing leading to something beautiful.

Now I’m not going to argue that the loss of my partner led to something beautiful. It was truly awful and will remain that way. But it certainly did change me into a better person and a much more complete parent. It forced me to ditch a career and opened up more quality time with our son. I certainly live a simpler more sustainable lifestyle now. I find it much easier these days to be thankful. So yes a truly awful event did lead to positive life changes.

I guess it’s all about accepting that bad stuff happens and not assuming that bad necessarily follows bad.

Bit battered

Poor thing has been a bit battered in the recent bad weather. Well I still think it deserves a moment to shine.

I was having a chat with our son last night about how life has changed recently. It’s only really now that some of the implications are starting to feed through. I will only focus on one small part of the conversation as this post could have ended up as long as the extended Directors Cut version of War and Peace.

Son struggles with social settings. It’s a well established element of Aspergers. He will actively pull away from crowds and groups. One of the only exceptions to that has been Rock Concerts. He still feels uncomfortable there but for a variety of reasons he can cope. He can put his hood over his head and no one will notice. He likes the fact that rock crowds seem very welcoming of any person, any look, any characteristic. With the noise no one is likely to talk to him. When the lights go out, no one can see him. You are just one hidden person in a sea of people. Plus he really loves the music.

So far he has seen Iron Maiden, Hollywood Vampires (with Johnny Depp), Alice Cooper, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thunder, Shinedown, Status Quo, The Darkness, The Damned, The Stranglers and Status Quo. He’s also seen his favourite band – Alter Bridge.

Before the pandemic kicked in he was hoping to see more. The likes of Whitesnake, Foreigner, Europe, Ozzy, Aerosmith and The Who. But the pandemic changed the world. Most of these have been postponed or cancelled.

When concerts restart what will they look like. Will the days of standing shoulder to shoulder return. Will people have to wear masks. What number of fans will be allowed in. How close will you be able to get to the band. Will you need to be vaccinated before you attend. Will certain fans be excluded (age, health factors). Will all the fans want to return. Will it just be open air concerts. Will it be the new idea of drive in concerts. Will some bands just give up. Who knows.

The pandemic also changed son’s life. It has sent his social and health fears into overdrive. Changed the balance and how he sees the world. Things which were acceptable have been tipped into the no go area. Those changes might be temporary or they could be permanent. Only time will tell. But certainly his concert days are at best on long term hold. That’s the thing about Aspergers, changes in external factors can have a huge internal impact. Lasting impacts.

Regardless of any more virus related developments, I just can’t see son wanting to go to a concert this year, probably next as well. Maybe that fragile corridor that allowed him to venture into a concert crowd has been broken on a much more permanent basis. We just have to wait and see. Maybe going forward our own music festivals are the way forward. Buy a concert dvd and hold the event in our living room or garden. We can still put the T-shirts on, have the snacks, drinks and a burger. We can even turn the lights out and crank up the speakers. Best thing – no masks required. No queues for toilets as well….

That doesn’t help the concert industry. I just hope they and the bands find a way through this mess.

So maybe that’s no concerts for Dad as well for sometime. But it is what it is. I’ve been so lucky to see so much music over the years. So as I move into a barren concert period let’s pause and see what my memory is like. Lets see how many of the artists I have seen over the years, I can actually remember. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve set myself 10 minutes (so I might miss a few). Here goes….

Whitesnake x4, Motörhead, Deep Purple x3, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Dio, Rory Gallagher, Tin Machine (David Bowie), Scorpions, UFO, Meatloaf x3, Blackfoot, Mountain, Alaska, Saxon, Magnum, The Firm, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Ronan Keating (x2) my partner to blame for that…. Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper x3, Gary Moore, Deacon Blue, The Kinks, Kirsty MacColl, Pink Floyd, Nils Lofgren, Killswitch Engage, Birdland, Bernie Torme, Roy Harper, Suzy Quatro, Paul Rodgers, Chris Rea, Marillion, Runrig, Asia, Al Stewart, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Terence Trent D’arby, Simple Minds, Lou Reed, Bonnie Riatt, Chrissie Hynde, Jackson Brown, Little Steven, Bryan Adams, Squeeze, Tina Turner, Extreme, Was Not Was, Lyle Lovett, plus those with son.

Ten minutes up….

Where’s the shed

Here once stood the garden shed. But then an ageing Oil Tank had to be changed. The new rule was that flammable items had to be at least 6 feet away. A wooden shed just 3 feet away just didn’t cut the mustard. So it had to come down. I remember the day so well. My partner organised the skip. She took the first swing with the sledgehammer and then left the rest to me. It was a tough fight. Eventually I won the contest on a split points decision. Yes the shed was down but most of it now appeared to be imbedded in me.

We never did get round to putting a new one up. Actually we didn’t need one. The area became a little bit more green. A place to randomly put those potted plants which we have collected over the years. A nice home for a 90 year old wooden bench which has long since served its purpose and has been retired. It’s also a bit of a magnet of our sons footballs….

It so needs a good weeding but actually yellow poppies and wild strawberries are starting to grow here. Well that’s my excuse.

I’m not sure what my partner would make of it. Maybe a bit too chaotic for her. She liked organisation. The new shed was high up on my list of things to do before the world changed. But then she left our little world. Then every weekend her mum would pop over for an hour or so. She loved it. When she came over at the weekend she would often sit and look at it while drinking her coffee. Thinking about life. Watching the birds make use of it.

I’m writing this at about the time her mum would have been visiting. I’m sat in the chair she would be sat in. Yes I do think the little green area works. Maybe that new garden shed can wait for a few more years. Sorry my love…..

Needs work

Another moody Yorkshire summer afternoon. Everyday it’s such a blessing to wake to this view. No wonder my partner fell in love with this house within seconds. And as ever she was on the right side of the conversation. The ‘needs work’ line was a little weak. Actually it still needs work but that view is still here. Tell me what’s more important.

Looking back my line about ‘needs work’ was more about avoiding change. Sticking with what we had. Avoiding that leap of faith. That’s been a theme of my life story so far. I always think my past climbing hobby is a perfect reflection of life. Many goals set but never attempted. It was easier to avoid them, find excuses. Too much caution climbing routes. Using fear and self doubt as an excuse to avoid those more challenging climbs. Backing away from leaps of faith. Yes I had fun but what could have been.

Now the life safety net has been removed. Single parenting and being without that person who held my hand on those big steps. Life has changed but so am I. It’s a slow process but it’s happening. Now is the time to face some of those fears which have held me back. Time to start ditching those constraints that have grounded me. Time to re-evaluate myself. Only by doing that can I be that parent our son truly deserves. Yes the one who protects him but the one who also encourages him to truly flourish. To be that person who he truly wants to be. To live his life.

Quarantine and Mental Health

So pleased to have another wonderful post from Katie and Evee for you. Can’t thank them enough. They also have just posted something from me on their site as well. If you get the time please check it out.

Thank you so much.

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Our current Quarantine Routine, looks a bit like this:

– Katie wakes up and makes us both a coffee and works out

– We read, write, blog or go on walks or bike rides.

– Evee works out

– We cook dinner together

– We have our own evenings where we chill out, talk to our friends, or watch Netflix. (Evee falls asleep significantly later than Katie (usually with the odd noise complaint thrown in!))

At the beginning of quarantine, there was a clear and obvious push for people to make the most of this time. People were learning how to make banana bread, teach themselves how to do handstands, and learn Spanish or Italian. We also had good intentions; to paint, write, eat completely cleanly and have a strict regimented workout plan.

When we couldn’t bring ourselves to be productive, we were filled with guilt at the thought of wasting this precious gift of time ( https://thegriefreality.blog/2020/05/06/the-gift-of-time/ link if possible ). It was almost too easy for our minds to wonder back to the days of our own lockdown after Mum’s funeral and the depression that followed. During these days, counsellors encouraged us to mark small things as “wins”: showering, exercising, or eating healthily. But also, to the even smaller wins, like waking up in the morning, making the bed.

After our mum passed away, we were completely alone. As said beautifully in Gary’s post, there does come a point when people stop checking in and stop asking how you are. Apart from a few golden people, many individuals you thought were going to be with you until the end, become memories as well. It is a desolate place to find yourself in.

Thankfully, we have always had each other, and through trying to look after one another, we found ways to build ourselves back up.

Simple acts of self-love may appear futile or irrelevant when the future holds so much uncertainty, but we cannot imagine what our health and wellbeing would look like without them.

Lockdown has been a journey and has impacted our mental health, alongside thousands of others’. For us, it felt hauntingly similar to those grey days of 2018 that bore witness to some of the darkest moments of our lives. But through self-care, we learnt self-love.

Self-care grew to become an essential part of our healing and an ongoing exercise for our health and wellbeing. It is a wonderful thing to do that we strongly advocate, and promote heavily on our blog: Plant those little seeds of self-love into your body and mind.

As with any new exercise, it has been a difficult lesson to learn. But today when the world finds itself in so much chaos, we know to focus our attention on making ourselves feel happy and healthy. Eventually, our calm approach to life and clarity come back to us, and we ground ourselves once again.

One simple act of self-care is to sit in the bath, with a face mask, cuppa tea, bubbles and a coconut oil hair mask. It truly is amazing how much these luxuries make a huge difference to our wellbeing.

We have linked a post of little self-care tid-bits, everyone can do; it doesn’t have to eat up too much of your time. (if you could link this post https://thegriefreality.blog/2019/04/03/i-dont-self-care/ that would be wonderful ) It can be as small as making yourself your favourite tea before bed.

Hold tight, eventually, the hustle and bustle of normality will resume, and when it does we hope you carry forward these acts of self-kindness. In doing so, we have no doubt you’ll be more than capable and prepared for it.

Katie & Evee x

Horse Racing

Another post and another rose. At least I can grow a few roses. That’s a start isn’t it. A start is usually a good thing…. In this post today means yesterday thanks to WordPress refusing to post last night.

This morning I started looking at employment options. It looks like my job will get mothballed for many months. It’s so dependent on public and sporting events. Realistically these will not properly restart any time soon. So it looks like the sensible decision is to close the company down and then relook to launch again in 2021. Which leaves a decision to be made. As it’s a great fit with my single parent circumstances, do I try to survive on savings until it’s back again? Or do I find something different to either fill in the gap or completely change career path again. So today I today I started looking at available options. I have to say trying to find a job I can make fit round our Son is not easy. I really fell on my feet with this current role. Yes the money is not great but the flexibility is such a bonus. Today’s search just confirmed that. Couldn’t find one option which would work for us. Especially when you factor in the potential commitment to full time homeschooling. But I will keep looking.

Dad not sure a Train Driver is a great idea. Even on tracks you would just end up getting lost.”

True…. what about a Zookeeper

Dad your scared on spiders, snakes, wasps and parrots.”

Ok what about a librarian

Your far too noisy and you can’t even put your own books away.”

Pants that’s true. What about a parking attendant. I would get a free hat.

You are too nice, you would never hand out any tickets.”

What about a chef.

Just NO.”

How about a window cleaner.

Have you seen how dirty our windows are”

So after drawing a complete blank we headed outside to contemplate life, the universe and the state of our windows. There we heard a sound which we haven’t listened to since March. Horse Racing… Our nearest neighbour is a lovely elderly lady. I’ve known her for 18 years now. Over those years she has become increasingly frail and hard of hearing. Each year her TV volume needs to be turned up one extra setting. Definitely now turned to 11 on the 10 scale. Which is great as I can turn my music up just a little louder without fear of upsetting the neighbours. Not sure the quaint old village is quite ready for loud Mongolian Throat metal quite yet… Its certainly not something you hear from my neighbours TV.

She only watches one thing really. Horse Racing. Today Horse Racing restarted without crowds, in the UK and it’s most definitely on next door. That means my neighbour is happy. And that’s a good thing.