Midday

That’s more like a Yorkshire midday. Very dark and brooding.

The sky may be bleak but it’s actually quite inspiring. Makes the landscape feel full of character and emotion. In a funny sort of way I prefer looking at this type of sky to a blue cloudless one.

Did I just say that!!

I came inside freezing cold, jet blasted and very very damp.

I guess the point I’m making is that in an ideal world I would have a view filled with snow capped mountains. It’s a climbers thing with me. I feel at home with the peaks. If I can’t have that view then maybe a view of the Sea. That is down to someone being brought up in a Yorkshire Fishing Town.

That is just not happening where we live. A small hill top 40 miles from the sea. The view we have is open farmland and countryside. Lovely yes but not on the surface that inspiring for me. But it does have something special. The sky. As we are on a hill top with no surrounding peaks or high buildings or trees …. we have a big sky. So I look to that for my inspiration. Hence my liking for a dark, brooding sky. The kind of sky that really deserves the old Hammer Horror movie treatment. Doesn’t have to be horror. A sky perfect for Jayne Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

I remember my mum would listen to sad records to cheer herself up. My partner would watch sad movies to lift the spirits. Which is kind of understandable when you have to live with me. I guess a brooding sky does something similar with me. It sparks my imagination. Helps me dream.

So that’s another item on the list of things to be thankful for. For me it’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the bad things in my life. Depression brings all the bad thoughts to the front of my nogging. They end up dominating my thinking. Doing all they can to bring me down. But the reality is so different. I am so fortunate. So many wonderful things are a part of my life. Yes I’ve known sadness and loss but that’s the human condition. We will all venture down that road in our life’s. So that’s not unique to me. Life deserves to be lived. And yes that can mean smiling at a brooding midday sky.

So let’s dream under that sky. Shall I be Heathcliff or Dracula. Let’s not kid myself, with my looks it better be the Bram Stoker character then.

Meaning behind the door

My partner loved the Moors. She was always happy there. When our own family lockdown ends it will be one of the first places we visit again. It was one the first places visited after she had left us. It did take quite a while but we made it.

Is it really 4 and half years.

I have often talked about a vivid image that really helped me over that time. My grief felt like I was stood next to a closed door. A door that had suddenly locked shut and would never open again. I could see what’s behind the door. Memories. I can’t change or add to them. Just look at them.

So I had a choice. To stand by that locked door or take a leap of faith. Set off into the dark and see if I could find some new doors. Doors that are open allowing new memory experiences. I could either can actor or just a memory viewer.

I have mostly set off in search of new doors. Mostly…..

This door image has worked for me but I never fully understood its meaning. I always had a feeling that there was to it than life needs living. Why did it help with my grief. Why did it make me feel more at ease with myself.

I’m currently reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Suddenly the penny dropped.

In the book they talk about grief and dealing with suffering. They made a simple point that really struck home. Grief can either help lift a person up or drag them down. The secret is the focus. If you focus on the person you have lost, what they believed in, what they hoped for, their dreams THEN grief can have a positive side. It demonstrates LOVE. It can motivate you to live. ‘A determination to fulfil their wishes’. But if you focus on yourself then grief can bring you down. Focusing on things like how can I cope, how can I manage as a single parent, how bad will my life become. Those thoughts are negative and run the risk of dragging a person down.

Suddenly my image has meaning to me. Remaining stood by that locked door was not about my partner. It was about me. I was doing what I thought I needed to do. My partner had hopes and dreams that would not be nurtured by me remaining by that door. To keep those hopes and dreams alive, I HAD TO MOVE. Searching for new doors is best for my partners legacy, it’s best for our son, and yes it’s best for me. The end result is much more likely to be positive and uplifting.

It’s taken me over 4 years to suss that out. I actually don’t feel to bad about that. It took the great minds of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu to work it out for me. That’s not a bad couple of minds to defer to.

We can do this. It will take time but WE can do this.

Worry about it

The thaw has set in. No more snowy sun roses this week, maybe not until next winter.

I wrote a few hours ago about how I was missing the snow when it’s gone. You only really miss those things that are special to you.

There’s a difference between missing something and worrying about something. The disappearing snow is also worrying me a little. During the national lockdown the snow helped create an impression of a really small available world. What we can see and touch is all that is available. We are not missing out on much.

But is the thawing snow a symbol of change?

Some Governments are keen to reopen and relax restrictions. Is that way too soon. Who knows. But the message that it will be soon open for everyone misses the point. It’s not going to be open for everyone. Anxieties and Fears don’t get fixed overnight. The vaccinations won’t have reached many people including the kids. Many will only have had one shot. We have rapidly changing mutations. Some will continue to wear masks others will ditch them.

The works will open for some.

For us the lockdown will continue. In a few months I will have had one of the two vaccine shots. So I will be partly covered but that’s not the point. Hawklad’s fears are actually rising. He knows that I and other vaccinated people can still pass the virus onto him. He knows that he won’t be getting and vaccine protection. He can see that children can get covid and the more severe long covid. He is fully aware of the associated serious disease that is affecting some children. He can knows that some people will drop their guard. Basically his fears are not going away. So our lockdown will continue.

So the disappearing snow kind of symbolises something else. A world is out there. It is opening again but not for us. It’s not a small available world anymore. It’s a big world again but one that we are locked out of. Beyond our reach. That worries me and makes me sad.

Sad to see the snow go.

But then another thought. A better thought. Other people, other families can hopefully start to enjoy these places again. To have adventures. Other young ones can have holidays again. Have more fun. Can be safe doing that. Memories can be born.

Maybe the snow going is a good thing.

Here we go again

I came outside for some fresh air. More home schooling mayhem, messed up housework and lost clothing items. The usual stuff. Feels like a Nanny is required.

Oh Nanny where do we start.

Just hours ago I wrote about Pixar trying to flood the house with tears. Imploring them to at the very least give some warning before they try to break our hearts with death and bereavement.

So Pixar is on the naughty list and off the viewing list here for a while. They just can’t be trusted. Not with providing tear free family entertainment. So let’s stick with Disney. How about a good safe movie like Mary Poppins. How about the 2018 Mary Poppins version. That’s totally safe. The original was perfectly fine.

Oh Nanny what have you done.

Within 10 minutes we find a husband in a mess after his wife has died. Three kids to look after and a home soon to be repossessed.

REALLY……

I’m sticking to watching Peppa Pig and the TellyTubbies…..

Pixar

The sun always rises. It always rises in cartoons – eventually.

I so would like to have a word with those really talented people at Pixar Studios. You keep making the most wonderful cartoon movies. What a list

Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc, Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, on and on

I don’t know how many times Pixar has become the essential Parenting Tool over the years for me. Keeping both child and Dad occupied and laughing. But I need to have words. What is it with the fixation with death and loss. Is it possible to go a few years without have your cartoons venture into the subject. If I want to be depressed then I can pick up a Leonard Cohen cd or watch Love Story. When I’m trying to find fun things to do like watch Pixar movies I really don’t want to venture into the sad stuff.

We endured UP the other night. It’s a great cartoon with some really funny bits. But man those first ten minutes where Carl losses his beloved wife before they lived out their dream. I was in buckets of tears. Really Pixar. It’s not big and it’s not clever….

So come on Pixar stop going all Love Story on me. Or at the very least bring in a labelling system. List movies like UP as ‘contains mega bereavement’ at least then I can prepare myself for it. Or even better do more movies that are just slapstick ‘buddy’ adventures where I can park my sad emotions for two hours.

Open my eyes

Too often I can’t see the wood for the trees. I’m looking but my eyes are shut.

Focusing on stuff that will probably never happen. Still hoping to walk down paths that are closed. Looking out into a landscape which is grey. Trying to find new adventures to find colour in life, but too often failing.

But then….

Two feet from the front door. Just a little bit of colour. Just a little bit of hope.

Just needed to open my eyes.

Lift

It’s amazing what difference a little bit of sun makes. It’s a pleasant landscape. Last week or so it was the perfect landscape for a moody horror movie. Think Hound of the Baskervilles, think the start of American Werewolf in London.

Sometimes life is hard to fathom. You would have thought that the better weather would lift my overall mood. Pick me up. Bring smiles. Well that’s the theory….

So why was I stood in this field feeling down. Sad. Melancholy. Lonely. What was wrong with this view.

How can that happen. Is there something wrong with me. Am I missing something.

It was a while later before the penny dropped. For weeks my view has been restricted. Often no further than the next fence. Yes it was moody, it was also a limited view. No evidence of a wider world out there.

Suddenly the world opened up again today. My gaze lifted. It is such a beautiful world and yet it’s out of reach to me. No real chance of heading towards (or past) those distant hills. 950 miles that way takes me to the Swiss Alps. Look in another direction and it’s family and friends. Look behind me and it’s a frustrating football club and then the mountains of Scotland. Several thousands miles in another direction and it’s….

Those things have been out of reach. In all probability they will be well out of reach for a large part of 2021 (maybe much longer).

That’s why my mood fell. I was reminded of life’s potential. Reminded of life’s current constraints.

But I will keep telling myself that there is always hope. Maybe tomorrow if the sun is out again then my gaze will lift my mood as well.

Mud

Mud glorious mud. If only we could sell mud then we would be quids in.

Sometimes it feels like life is just a constant trudge through waste deep thick, clinging mud. Much harder than it was supposed to be? Was parenting supposed to be this demanding? Was the bank account supposed to be that empty? Was the career supposed to abruptly come to an end? Was my social diary supposed to be as empty as my bank account? Was I supposed to be this out of synch with life? Was grief supposed to hurt that much? Was I supposed to be walking these fields on my own? Why did depression and anxiety have to come knocking at my door?

But wait. Mud is good for the complexion. It keeps you grounded. Walking through it makes you stronger over time. You learn things about yourself. You grow. So……

Does a large bank balance matter – NO IT DOES NOT. Is living rather than following a career a better route to happiness – YES IT IS. So is parenting supposed to be this good and rewarding – YES IT IS. Is grief just another way of saying you love someone – OH YES IT IS. Do your real friends and those who truly love you always stick with you – YES THEY DO. Can I overcome my demons – YES I CAN.

Is it still a wonderful life – YES IT IS. It most certainly is.

That feeling

Holidays, special occasions and anniversaries can be a beautiful time BUT…

They can be a nightmare for many. A time when isolation, fear, anxieties and loss are amplified. Where a spotlight is directed on what is no more, what will never happen and what is looming. A time when probably the last thing you want to hear about is all around you. Blasting out from the TV and Radio. Seemingly the only thing that people are talking about.

I know that feeling because I’ve been there. Been in that position. I know what it feels like. Even after 4 and a bit years (is it really that long). Even though I’ve started down new roads, new paths. Even though I’ve learnt to smile again. That feeling can still be there. It probably always will be.

With me it’s a double edge sword. That feeling hits. My heart and spirit drop. I want to retreat. Hide away in my room. Find safety and sanctuary there. Yet doing that immediately opens up that feeling of isolation and being confined in a small space. A prison. Feeling even more alone.

So yes I so understand this feeling. That feeling still lives with me. Not all the time but it’s never that far away. Especially at these special times.

If you are in that place. Your not alone. I’m with you as well.

Slow cooker

Tis the season for cobwebs.

Grief and Loss is an odd thing. I can feel fine then something unexpected sends those emotional waves crashing over me again. Four years ago those waves would be constant. Permanent high tide. These days the waves have largely ebbed with only the occasional rip tide. Because these tides are so unexpected, they really take the breath away.

The other thing is that these days it’s often random things that set me off. Definitely not the usual stuff. Not the kind of thing that I can prepare for. Just like last night.

I was trying to find a packet of microwave rice from the kitchen cupboard. It had clearly fallen off the back of the shelf. As I rummaged I came across a box. An unopened Slow Cooker. My partner must have bought this. I have been using the one I got from my mum’s house when I cleared it out. I now held this unopened kitchen gadget and felt incredibly sad. Those waves started to crash over me.

My partner never got round to using this. She never will…..

Not an old photo. Not a favourite song. Not an old letter. A SLOW COOKER had set me off.