Cool

It’s hot in Yorkshire. Very hot for us. 🥵 86F (30C). That’s officially beyond Yorkshire’s Safe Operating Temperature. Law and Order will break down. The Ferrets will start to get unusually frisky. The Rhubard will go on strike. Cricketers might even have to unbutton their top shirt buttons. Those rather fetching knitted handkerchief hats will need to be donned….

In Yorkshire we have two expressions for this type of unusual weather.

It’s Mafting…….

It’s crackin’ t flags ……. translates to – it’s so hot the the paving stones are starting to crack.

It was too hot for my outside weights and kettlebell session. I definitely left a water trail marking out where my exercises took me. A nice run through a cool forest would have been ever so nice. The photo was from August 2019. Seems like a lifetime ago. Almost seems like a different world. A lot of things have changed for the worse. Some new really bad things have hit. Yes some life stuff has remained unchanged. And here is the crucial thing. A few things, some new stuff have definitely been an absolute blessing. It’s so easy to focus on the bad stuff but actually some wonderful things have happened. My Life is better because of those things.

So in 2020 when some days life seems unduly bad, I need to remember the good stuff. Yes life can and still will be tough. BUT it can also still be exceptionally beautiful. It can be a wonderful life.

Reflection

This is one of those posts that start with a single thought. No real idea of the direction. Yes it starts with me being reflective.

When I’ve been at my lowest points in life, I’ve felt so very alone. Maybe the two go together. It’s such a hard thing to describe. The world closing in on me. Darkness and a lack of hope surrounding me. But worse is the feeling that I am alone. There is no one who understands me. No one who really cares. No one to turn to. No one who will just listen. Even those close to you seaming so distant, so utterly unable or unwilling to understand. The two worst emotions for me – No Hope and Being Alone. Here’s the thing. That wasn’t actually the case, it just felt like it. I had closed my eyes. Stopped looking. Started listening to the negative voice in my head.

But I’ve been so fortunate. Even in those dark times, I’ve managed to eventually find something which has pulled me through. Either a caring hand or a flicker of hope. That’s all it takes sometimes. But don’t believe for one moment that it is easy. Just reading a few words probably ain’t going to do it. Sadly too many don’t find a positive way. Having been in those dark places I can so understand that now. It’s so hard to pull yourself out of the darkness alone. AND it does feel like you are completely alone.

For those in the darkness. I send you my thoughts and love. I just hope you find something. That caring hand. That bit of hope. The will or energy to reach out. You may find that beacon of light already close to you but often it doesn’t come from the obvious sources. But so often IT IS THERE. WE can do this.

Time to breathe

Maybe too many days we feel hemmed in. Surrounded by the same walls. Dealing with unyielding constraints. Fighting seemingly never ending battles. Difficulty trying to believe in dreams. Struggling to breathe.

Well that’s certainly me…..

The days of climbing rock faces in Scotland and the Lake District. Walking and running along wind swept beaches. Standing under the mighty Eiger and Matterhorn. Walking and touching history. These all sometimes seem such a distant memory. Things which might never happen again.

But there is always hope. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Yes it could be those four walls again but it could just be somewhere else. Somewhere we can breathe. A chance to spread our wings and soar again. That’s a lovely feeling. So I dived into my photo library and randomly picked a journey. A time when the wings were unfolded. Yes that is in the past BUT it could also be tomorrow.

Reality

Late last night I was watching the news channel and a government expert was being interviewed about people struggling to leave the house since lockdown was eased. We will ignore the fact that the easing has been halted and areas are starting to fall back under emergency regulations. The experts take was that it was perfectly safe for everyone to go about their normal business. People should get out, go to the park or better to a restaurant. Those struggling should be brave and get out. Those still struggling to get out should arrange to see a health professional. This Government had put in support to facilitate this.

Ok…..

We’ve been lucky. We might get to see a nurse this month but we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for that. Because of cutbacks son has not been seen by a Paediatrician in well over 2 years now… 6 of his 7 support services have been removed. But again we are lucky. Far too many don’t get any support at all.

It’s 3am and I heard our son call. He had gone to the bathroom and because he had gone barefoot he desperately needed to wash his feet. So just before the morning bird chorus started I was running the bath so he could ease his anxieties. He is currently not able to touch taps. Towels can only be used once before they are washed. His bedding has to be washed daily. He has to wash his hands every few minutes. He can’t even touch is own shoes and clothes with his hands. Tell me how he is supposed to be brave and just get outside. The government just has not got the slightest idea of the problems facing so many in our communities. The health professionals just don’t have the resources to cope. It’s taken a pandemic to expose the true folly of focusing cutbacks on mental health and support services. When will our leaders wake up to the reality of life for so many households in our countries.

Groundhog Day

One of Hawklads favourite movies is Groundhog Day. Must admit a I’ve always liked that film. I’m showing my 1000 year plus age now by saying FILM. Anyway I liked that Bill Murray film because it was funny and a bit about redemption. Repeatedly through life I’ve had that Groundhog Day feeling. It’s so hard to put down on paper. That feeling that on this long journey, the circumstances and challenges remain unchanged. Never ending. What ever I do, they just seem to repeat. Slowly it’s starts to eat away at my inner self. Plays havoc with my emotions. My inner belief ebbs away. That’s when it feels like I need another caring hand to lead me into a new tomorrow. So yes I get this movie.

Hopefully I’m not as bad as Phil was at the start of the film – sorry movie. But again it is starting to feel like days are starting to repeat themselves. Even when I try to introduce something new, try just that little harder, then the next day starts very like the previous day. Stuff just keeps repeating itself.

  • A largely sleepless night,
  • Get up and do the same exercises in the garden,
  • Try to get the dog to go outside for his charge around and do his morning constitutional,
  • Check the news – these days it’s always the same headline and the same frustrations,
  • Sticking to the same fasting diet regime,
  • Cooking the same meals for Hawklad (he has the same 7 day food menu which he sticks to),
  • Sort out the mess the pets have made,
  • Hoover and clean the same rooms (we only have 5 small ones, a bathroom and a kitchen to worry about),
  • Try to get the old washing machine door to lock so I can do a wash,
  • Have the same thoughts about been able to run free beyond our garden fence enclosures, *** don’t get me wrong I am so thankful for the garden, so many wonderful people don’t have that***
  • Look at the same walls, with the same pictures, often feeling like they are closing in on me,
  • Spend far too long moaning about the weather,
  • Check the work system and email the same people, saying basically the same thing,
  • Wash up the same plates and cups,
  • Make a list of today’s challenges and they are the same as yesterday’s, the week before, last months…..
  • Jump on the scales and whisper PANTS,
  • Want to eat healthily but having to rely on Soya (Soy). Then watching my body just basically say NO,
  • Try to find my keys which are missing again,
  • Walk 40 yards to the post box to post a letter – my big trip out of the day,
  • Start the car up to make sure the battery doesn’t go flat,
  • The things that brought pain and doubt yesterday are still here today,
  • Check the bank account and whisper BIG PANTS,
  • Talk to Hawklad about hand washing every time he goes to the bathroom – which is about every 10 minutes,
  • Wash my hands constantly to help ease Hawklad’s fears,
  • Unblock the toilet and kitchen sink once a day, the builder who installed those was clearly having a laugh –
  • Reset the WiFi at about the same time every day as it’s gone down with cabin fever,
  • Try to get the cat to eat it’s gluten, grain, dairy free food when clearly it just wants to eat all the stuff that gives it diarrhoea,
  • Bake and Fail – that’s a great book title…..
  • Field the same calls, from the same companies offering the same services I don’t want,
  • If and when it rains, try to stop a flood next to the back door. Basically ends up mopping out the pools of water,
  • Paying bills,
  • Trying to chase moths and insects out of the house – the price you pay for living next to a farm,
  • Fight the same fears and demons,
  • Face the same self questioning,
  • Once a week cut the lawn with a lawnmower which basically hates cutting grass,
  • Every second Thursday realise the garden bin is still basically empty so have a mad gardening rush,
  • My dreams are still just dreams, seemingly no nearer becoming reality,
  • Go to bed so hoping for sleep, yet…..

Now don’t get me wrong some of the routine is just so fantastic. I just wouldn’t dream of changing those things. Going out in the garden at about the same time every day and talking with Hawklad. Spending time with him. Thinking of friends. Finding ways to make connections with those who are special to me. Looking at beautiful photos and videos – and smiling. Having fun playing games. Doing a bit of writing or waffling depending on your viewpoint. Saturday night movie night.

So yes it does feel like Groundhog Day. This time it may well keep feeling this way until our personal lockdown has been partially lifted. Maybe this time it’s could be labelled as Cabin Fever. Whatever it is, just like Phil in the movie, it often feels like I am the only one stuck in this repeat cycle. AND let’s not forget a really important factor – some people long for that repetitiveness. Hawklad is one. So maybe Groundhog Day can also be a good thing. Just got to go with the flow, make each day count as best I can and worry about tomorrow if it ever arrives.

Doubts

Much needed colour on a very grey and damp start to the day.

Some days are just greyer than others. Yes still smiles. Somethings just don’t fail. But then you come up to the surface again and it’s still grey. Crack on with stuff until you can immerse yourself in the good stuff again. Up and down. Swings and roundabouts.

Might have said that before. Sounds familiar. Sounds a bit like the lines ‘I’m going on a diet’ and ‘I’m going to have an early night’.

Another thing I’ve said over the last few hours – a one day heat wave is due on a Friday. Every time I look excitedly at the forecast, it just gets warmer. Now it’s supposed to be 29C (84F). That’s really hot for Yorkshire. Now I wonder what the reality will actually be. Let’s show you the current weather.

Wet, windy and definitely not warm…. Less than 24 hours until we are supposed to be hot then. Doubts definitely building.

I read some haunting words last night that brought tears. A really good person having so much to deal with in life. Honesty about the pain and sadness suffered. Yet unbroken with so much spirit, heart and love. Definitely made me think about that person and what a symbol of hope they represent. It also made me think about my life. Its too easy for me to take so many things for granted. I’ve been a bit up and down recently. A few too many down moments. Far too many doubts. Yet I have so much to smile about. Things which I far too easily take for granted. That needs to change. I’m not saying it’s going to transform me into a constantly smiling creature but maybe it will make me more balanced and honest with myself. I might believe my life is tough but looking at others, it really isn’t that bad at all. I’ve been so fortunate in many areas. I need to remember that and be more mindful of what others are dealing with. I’ve had opportunities which have been cruelly denied to others.

So it’s time to be much more thankful for what I have.

It’s a good life for me and actually it’s frequently a wonderful life.

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.

Ski Jumping

This is a special rose. It’s very old and has moved houses several times. Every year I have a goal of keeping it going for one more season. Thankfully it looks after itself.

I’ve talked about trying to become multilingual. Its not easy for me as I even struggle with English. German is my next best language. But currently my learning has been a little unfocused. No real time limited goal to strive for. Previously it was a trip to Switzerland which would spur on the German. Sadly not been there since 2015. I’ve kinda drifted. So I need a new language goal.

At Christmas I will attempt to read a book in German. It might take me ages but I’m going to give it a go. So which book?

I have always loved Alpine Sports. The three which are closest to my heart are Skiing, Biathlon and Ski Jumping. Ski Jumping always seemed the most atmospheric sport to a young lad from boring Yorkshire. Yorkshire is a Cricket loving place. Now you might understand why Ski Jumping looked so cool to me. Over the years I’ve got to understand this cool sport so well. Can name all the hills, the competitors and the coaches. One coach in particular always fascinated me. I loved his passion for the sport. The former Austrian coach Alexander Pointner. But he also has a really tragic back story. His daughter committed suicide. He has battled depression for years. When I’ve heard him talk he has real insight on life when you are at your lowest. He is brutally honest. So that’s the book then.

Now I have a goal. December 1st, I start reading this book.

Meaning of life…

Fast coming up to four years since my little world changed forever. One day maybe Hawklad will write about his feelings. I won’t try and second guess them or put my words into his mouth. So it’s time for a bit more me, me, me….

2016 sent me into some really dark places in my mind. My life was shaken to the point that the foundation’s crumbled. Those dark places are scary and very lonely. I felt completely helpless and alone. I was suffering in silence. Unable to think straight and utterly disoriented. Thankfully I never got to the point of suicidal thoughts but I now better understand why far too many sadly do.

When I did pick up the courage to admit this what did I find. I quickly realised who were true friends and who where not. I found a health service starved of resources and with little interest in mental health. The health professionals I saw operated from the same care pathway protocol. Ask SIX questions to determine if I was suicidal. Once suicide was ruled out I was prescribed some antidepressants and sent on my way. There should be many more options on the care pathway, but these require funding which is just not available. I’ve still got the unopened boxes of antidepressants somewhere. Clearly that pathway didn’t work for me.

What got me through those dark times was our son. I had to give Hawklad the best possible childhood. I had to be the very best parent I could possibly be. I had a purpose. That was the key, A PURPOSE. A meaning for life. A reason to live. Without this I dread to think how much darker those dark places would have been. Things like antidepressants would have just been a short term fix. A way to temporarily mask the real emptiness. It would have been the same with things like alcohol, or gambling or splashing the cash on a new car or big television. Just short term fixes. The only way they would have worked for me would have been to continually try to top them up. Continually trying to hide the real underlying issue. The need for a reason to live. A reason to pick myself up again every time I fell.

So looking back my dark places were fundamentally about not being able to see a reason to live. A meaning for life. Bereavement masked them from my view. Suddenly I had no dreams, had no reason to endure the pain. As soon the parenting penny dropped they slowly started to dissipate. Life opened up again. Four years later I believe that I am living again.

Penny drops

I tried to get an appointment to see my doctor for the first time since the pandemic hit. That was an experience….

  • First listen to the 3 minute recorded message about the pandemic,
  • Then listen to another recorded message about the importance of wearing masks,
  • Now listen to a message about the doctors and nurses avoiding making unnecessary face to face contact with patients,
  • Then join the queue for a receptionist,
  • Finally a real person. Need to describe any symptoms and the reason for calling. I can have a telephone appointment for later in the day,
  • Doctor calls and basically says that it is currently unsafe to bring patients in for appointments. Much safer to stay at home and avoid crowds. A few questions and then it’s a quick medical opinion. Time for stress busting, relax, have a break and hopefully things will sort themselves out. Probably been trying to burn the candle at both ends since 2016.

Having a break is not happening so it’s stress busting time.

  • Eating healthily – well I will try……
  • Mediation – I really must get my head round this, more free apps downloaded…..
  • Mindfulness – I thought that was mediation, free apps downloaded……
  • Yoga – the mind is willing the body is less inclined to bend…..
  • Plenty of sleep – I’m trying, been trying for ages……
  • Go hill walking – not going to happen this side of Christmas, tempted to add 2022……
  • Calming and relaxing music – I guess that rules out metal then…..
  • Make time for friends and doing fun stuff with them – I certainly will……
  • Find more time for reading – it would be great if I could……
  • Herbal teas – ok I can do this one……

In a nut shell I will try to improve things but need to recognise the current life limits. Maybe the secret is to be grateful for the life I have and to smile. Yes smiling more is a good start.

Sometimes the penny drops….