Soul

We watched the Pixar movie SOUL last night. Felt like perfect timing. Trying not to give the movie away but it makes you think about life and what it means to you. Its really good, funny in places and sad in others. At times I found it uncomfortable as it was a little to close to home for me.

I came away from the 100 minutes thinking

Life is maybe not about the things I thought it was about (confirmed what I’ve been thinking for a while now)

Actually what are the things in life that make me spark and feel alive

Just how time is wasted

Fears of looking back at life and regretting lost opportunities

I can still grasp those opportunities…..

A few hours later and I’m still reflecting on SOUL. Life and the pandemic have kind of hemmed me in (hemmed many of us in). We have been in our own lockdown for almost a year now. Likely to be in lockdown for much of 2021. Time is to precious to just be content with performing endless holding patterns until life changes again. Have to find ways to live TODAY…

Big sky

I’ve talked about it before but two things really sold our house to us. We were thinking about starting a family. We wanted somewhere quiet with a bit of a garden. We looked at a few places and then we visited this little bungalow in a small village on a hill. The bungalow was a bit small and run down but then we looked out at the overgrown back garden. That view and that sky. There was nothing to block out the view of the clouds. It was a BIG SKY. That was it were were hooked.

It’s definitely still a BIG SKY.

It still kind of takes my breath away. I’ve always been a town and city person. Grow accustomed to buildings and trees blocking out large parts of the sky. At night the artificial lighting just drowning out what sky that is still there. That just doesn’t happen here.

A BIG SKY definitely deserves big dreams. I do need to start working on those. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall back on memories. It certainly is for me. Not today. I’m going to get wrapped up, brew a mug of something steaming and go outside. To look, to breathe and to dream. All thanks to a big sky.

Can wait

Yes much darkness but if you look hard enough – definitely blue sky can be found.

I’m sat looking at the window overlooking the garden. We are on the edge of a small hill. The last hill before the ground falls away and the ground is largely flat for miles. So I was looking into the distance. Looking at the brooding sky and thinking.

Sometimes I look at life and relationships and realise things don’t work out as well as I had hoped for. Maybe some things won’t pan out as I would have loved them to do. Often it’s just down to circumstances. Out of my control. I am just just forced down a different path. In that moment I was pondering which dreams I could still cling on to and which ones I should really put to one side.

Then my eyes caught sight of a small patch of blue sky. Yes small and definitely well into the distance. But still blue sky. I could so easily have missed that. Too caught up thinking about the past and an imaginary future. Standing by closed doors from the past can be both reassuring and emotional. Gazing at so many memories. Yes future dreams are important as well. They provide so much hope and direction. But they do not represent the here and now. You still have to remember to live.

So the little patch of blue sky worked its magic. Time to do some living. The future and the past will still be there in a few hours time, they can wait.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly trip to beautiful Switzerland. We haven’t been able to go back there recently but it’s still a country which means so much to our family.

As a child I would visit the local library most Saturday mornings. I would spend a couple of hours reading books while sat next to the libraries little goldfish pond. One of my favourite books was an old book on climbing. Lots of pictures of a dreamlike country called Switzerland. It just seemed like a different world to a young lad from a grey and rundown Yorkshire seaside town. I so wanted to go there. Many years later I got my wish. See dreams can come true.

Flying towards Geneva and seeing The Alps for the first time was awe inspiring. Then the next seven days confirmed just how special this country.

It’s that good that photographs just can’t come close to capturing how beautiful and epic it is. Simply breathtaking.

So I will keep dreaming that soon our family can return there. Because dreams can come true.

Goals

It’s strange how my goals can shift. This time last year I was thinking about cranking my runs up. Eyeing up some longer trail runs. Trying to find ways to fit them in during school hours and work. Then building towards a 22 mile Moors run. Something to aim for during the winter months.

Fast forward a year and the thought of trail runs has long gone.

Now just a walk across the farmers field to that tree in the distance seems like a real goal. An aim. Something to dream about. How many times can we get to that tree over the next few months.

Until life resets again then that is something to hold onto. I realise it’s important to be realistic. To take account of the circumstances that are currently in place. Short term goals need to change to take account of this. But I can still dream on a grander scale. Push that horizon further. Hold those dreams close and maybe one day when life shifts, and it will, they become the achievable goals.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual trip to beautiful Switzerland. A place we haven’t been able to visit for 5 years now but which still holds a special place in our hearts.

Times are tough. Travel and seeing the world is almost a nonstarter. That actually applied to many even before a pandemic kicked in. It certainly feels that way for our little part of Yorkshire. A little piece of the world that seems to contract just a little bit everyday. But some things still provide hope. Shine a light in the darkness.

To Hawklad and me Switzerland is one of those beacons of hope. A land which is almost too beautiful to seem real. As if you are visiting a land formed in an old art masterpiece. Maybe a perfect fantasy world created in a brilliant mind.

But Switzerland is real. It is that perfect. We endlessly look at old photos of our family trips there. Those memories brighten and expand our world. Sustain us through the dark days. Provide hope.

The thing about having hope is that it keeps you going until the clouds of life start to part. When it does for us there is always Switzerland.

Keep that special place close to your heart.

Pointing

One of the advantages of exercising first thing in the morning is once I’ve finished I get a chance to enjoy the view. It always amazes me how damp our ground can get when we have had no rain for days.

Clearly it’s very easy to feel damp. The weather can cause such sudden changes. It like life and the soul.

I was putting together a post for tomorrow. A Swiss Sunday post. Looking through some photos. Then I came across one. Looks like one of those family photos. I’ve cropped this one down severely. The photo is my partner sitting next to our son on a bench.

How had I missed this photo for so many years. It’s from 2015 and our last trip to Switzerland. The last day of the trip. My partner was not very well and on a lot of medication. We didn’t know how ill she was. The doctors didn’t. Exactly one year later she was in a hospice and she was gone a few days later.

Finding this photo shook me in two ways.

Firstly this might be our very last family photo. The last photo of Hawklad with his mum. Don’t think there was another photo with my partner in. I had never thought about that . Never thought about the last photo. Well this is probably it.

Then there is one more thing about this photo. A completely forgotten memory. It’s what my partner is pointing at. I think she knew what was on the horizon. That afternoon we randomly seemed to get onto the subject of where she would like her ashes scattered. She is pointing at one of the places . A rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful lake. It wasn’t a serious conversation. Our son helpfully suggesting some interesting places to consider. I didn’t take it seriously. We surely had many years to go. Finding this photo has really shaken me. As I say I had forgotten about the photo. I didn’t know she was actually pointing at where she wanted her ashes scattering.

I really don’t know what to say.

One thing is that it’s a beautiful location.

I wasn’t sure about posting this at all. But what did convince me was one thought. You just don’t know what is around the corner. Don’t assume you have time. If you have dreams to live, don’t wait, try to do them now.

The shape of bread to come

See the sun does shine in Yorkshire – occasionally.

How can baking be so hard. Everything seemed to be going so well and then you end up with very odd shape bread. One day, one day.

Maybe I can blame these baking woes on a lack of sleep. At least it ended up tasting ok. So it’s kind of a result.

I was sat drinking my herbal tea and having my misshapen bread with some hummus. Really, is this what life has become….. sudden urge for proper coffee and a sausage roll. But that is life currently for me. I might wish for something else but circumstances dictate otherwise. Wow that feeling could cover so many things. But at that precise moment my eyes wandered to a book on the table. A book about Ski Jumping. One small dream is remembered.

I have always wanted to go to and see just one Ski Jumping competition. Have never got round to doing that. Circumstances have repeatedly prevented that. Now as a single parent with a son who struggles to get to the front gate of the house, those circumstances seem to be even more insurmountable. Another winter will pass. It’s definitely not happening this season. Maybe not for a number of years.

Yes it’s a little deflating but don’t get me wrong. That dream hasn’t died. It’s still there. Still cherished. The future still offers hope. Just have to deal with the here and now. In all likelihood autumn and winter will see no real change in our circumstances. The next 6 months will be largely restricted to our house and garden. Very few social encounters. Single parenting day in day out. More days of dodgy bread and hummus lunches. But it is what it is. Will just deal with that. But I won’t forget those special dreams. That what keeps me going.

A time to dream

Life becomes really hard when you stop dreaming. When you stop imagining a wonderful holiday, the perfect job, achieving a goal, publishing that book, being with someone, seeing that better life. Whatever the Dream is, they are precious but they are so easily switched off. I’ve been there. It’s a not a good place to be. After I lost my partner, my dreams did switch off. All I saw was a void. Nothing to look forward to. No reason to hope. Nothing was going to change.

I was lucky in that I did have something to drive me on. I still had to be a parent. Actually a double parent now. In effect my life continued because our son needed me. I lived life through somebody else’s eyes. Unfortunately far too many with dreams switched off don’t have such luck. That’s a dark, scary and lonely place to be.

But dreams are always there. It still can be a wonderful life. It’s all about finding a way of switching them back on again. It took me a long time but now they are back. I can see some wonderful dreams again. Now I have to nurture them. Cherish them. Those dream muscles need to be worked out each day. Make them stronger. Make those dreams more real. Fine tune them for me.

Hopefully one day I can harvest them now.

A new day

It is a new day. The world keeps turning.

This is what is best described as a free form post. Just writing as the words pop into my head and then I will post it. No checking or editing.

At virtually this exact time four years ago my life changed. Our life changed. I received that late night phone call. I didn’t need to pick it up, I knew the words that I would here. I was right when I did answer the call. It was the Hospice. My partner had passed away. Even though I knew those words would inevitably come it didn’t lessen the pain. The loss. I called her sisters and her mum. I decided to tell our son in the morning after he woke up. I then just sat. I sat all night. Trying to get my head round life and death. The new situation. My old world was gone. The door had permanently slammed shut on that place. The new one was already starting. But it didn’t feel like that . It was just blackness. No light. No new doors to walk through. Nothing. Such a big part of my life was gone. All those unfulfilled dreams suddenly binned. Nothing. What do I tell an 8 year old boy. How do I raise him up when I am utterly flattened.

Looking back. I handled that chat with our son as well as I possibly could. I bumbled through that next period of my life. Can’t believe how devastated I was but still the world kept turning. I felt like I was still looking for a new door to walk through but I just couldn’t find one. Actually that was wrong. I had already walked through the door, I just hadn’t found the light switch. That took much longer to locate. But it was there all along we just find it when we are ready.

Four years on I am filled with emotions and memories. I still feel that loss. I can still feel that dark chill to my soul which I experienced that night. I feel a deep sadness but I may not mourn today, we shall see. It might be a time for tears but it might also be a time for reliving happy memories. I will definitely remember the wonderful times we had. The ways in which our fallen member of our family left the world she found a better place. But I will also not forget that it is a new day. The new crop of dreams still need planting, nurturing and harvesting. I can definitely today look back as well as forward. Here’s to beautiful memories and new dreams.