Open your eyes

Looking through a few flower photos and guess what I found. Another appearance from our friendly garden visitor. This unexpected find brought a much needed smile.

The unexpected hospital visit was tough. It was physically and mentally tough for our son. Hospitals are not pleasant places at the best of times but during a pandemic. Just awful.

It was a routine procedure but it made me face some demons. Waiting for news in the building where my mother died and where I found out my partner would be dead within days. Too many traumatic memories flooded back. Sat by myself in a waiting room. Yes it’s ok to cry.

Those memories and the clear unpredictability of the future made me realise what is so important to me. The things I need to cherish and make the most of. No more trying to email when talking to our son. It’s such a bad habit, you miss out on so much and son can see the lack of focus. Quality time MEANS quality time. It took something so unpleasant to clear my mind and refocus my priorities. Your never to old to open your eyes.

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 My job offer was rescinded.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.

Lost Friends

And another rose photo…. I have to say out garden is blessed with weeds and roses. Each year they appear and they always feel like the return of friends.

Last night I had another weird dream. This time it took me back to my university days. It started off by showing that my career path had been influenced by a slip of a pen. I had applied to do a degree in Economics but had been put on a Home Economics course. A degree in cooking for the worlds worst chef, OK.… But the main part of the dream was centred around friendships. All my college friends were on the course but no one recognised me. As hard as I tried, nothing. I was just blanked by them. Most unsettling.

As ever the weird dream put an end to my nighttime sleep hopes. So it was time to drink tea and think. A quick search on the internet found recent pictures of some of my old college friends. I just about recognised them. Would they remember my face which is perfect for radio – probably the same I guess. But here’s the key thing. These were really close friends. Yet when was the last time we met up in person. Our careers and life’s moved us apart. I’m not sure it was even this century. But it doesn’t stop there

  • I haven’t seen my schools friends since I first left my childhood home to go to University.
  • One really close school friend I did keep in contact with. We would meet up every few months. But again our life’s drifted further apart and the last time I heard she was living in Israel. That must be over 20 years ago.
  • My climbing friends still keep in touch via letters. Yes letters – how old fashioned does that sound…But we haven’t been climbing together in 6 years.
  • I still keep in regular text contact with a good friend who I went to football matches with. But I’ve stopped going to games now due to circumstances, so we don’t meet up in person.
  • Work and parenting friendships have come and gone.
  • Friends in the village have dwindled. Some have moved away, some have sadly left this world.

So in terms of actual physical friend meet-ups it’s down to one chap I normally work with. He occasionally drags me for a game of golf. There are so many stories right theremy golf career is about as good as my cooking career. But due to the pandemic I have not seen him since the start of March.

Life and my choices have sent me down this path. Living in a rural area, bereavement, single parenting and autism in the house have all contributed. But it is was it is. A huge element of personal choice comes into the mix as well.

Yes this is sad but I am so lucky. The gaps left here have created space for blogging friendships. I’m doing the best job in the world – parenting. Job is the wrong word, it’s more a privilege. I have a great life. But I do so worry for others. Feeling alone can be such a dark place. Alone and yet claustrophobic. No one to reach out to. No one to interact or grow with. Some choose that option freely. But many are forced into it by circumstance. Illness, age, special needs parenting, single parenting, location, social factors, fears and yes a pandemic. It’s so easy and unfortunately very convenient to forget about those who drop off the grid. Last night was a timely reminder for me.

Take care my friends.

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…..

Swiss Sunday

Now that’s a view from a train station. It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland.

Some wonderful news. Switzerland is now open again to most of the world. Hopefully soon the good people from the US will be able to get there as well.

We have not been back to this Alpine Heaven since the summer of 2015. It seems like an absolute lifetime. So much has happened.

Yes we have so many obstacles to overcome but one day WE will return.

Switzerland is just part of us now. Feels more like Home than England. That feeling gets stronger each day.

We still have my partners ashes to spread here. The view across Lake Thun with the snow covered mountains in the background is one of the places she wants to become a part of. Her Home. Our Home.

So yes these virtual trips feel like a return to what should be our home. One day just maybe that will happen.

Good to see someone maintains a balanced diet when he visits his future home…..

Tomorrow’s Rose

A few hours ago talked about a Yorkshire White Rose which has a connection with my partner. I said that it would become even more beautiful. Well here’s the proof.

This little bush produces the most stunning roses. The sadness is my partner never really got to see them. But they are such a beautiful tribute to her. That’s such a nice thought.

Take care everyone and remember to live. It’s can still be a wonderful life.

White Rose

This was the rose I gave to my partner just four months before she left us. She always wanted a Yorkshire Rose.

Normally the rose flowers on her birthday but not this year. The weird weather has set it back just over a month. But today it finally started to reveal its beauty. Just the one so far but it’s a lovely start. It feels like this rose is a connection. A link that still exists with my partner. There are a few of those links

  • The house,
  • The garden view,
  • A rainbow,
  • Her favourite places,
  • A couple of songs,
  • And most importantly OUR SON.

So today I feel just a little bit closer to her. More moments thinking about the good times. As much as I might want to linger just a bit longer, I have to pull myself away from the rose and those moments frozen in time. As hard as I try to imagine those memories they will just stay just that, memories.

So it’s time to focus on the here and now. Its time to focus on OUR son. Yes focus on me as well. I can always pay a quick visit to the rose and those memories tomorrow. Tomorrow the rose will be even more stunning.

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

Plant Life

It doesn’t look the most impressive plant but it certainly has meaning.

Something like 18 years ago we had just moved into the house. The garden was so badly overgrown. The lawn was more like a corn field. Took us three days to cut it. Having revealed the garden we found it appeared to have no flowering plants. Many weeds and one Apple tree. I guess that’s called a blank canvass.

A week or so later the village had a plant fare and we nervously ventured down to it. We knew hardly anyone there. We did meet some lovely people. Unfortunately over time those we get to know have either left or sadly passed away. Can’t remember much about the actual fare apart from my partner telling me that we needed to buy something. I randomly picked a hand full of plants. As we were late the selection of healthy plants was completely exhausted. Our new plants looked somewhere between decidedly unhealthy and dead. They didn’t survive long. All except one and here it still is. Who would of thought that the most sickly looking plant would end up outliving my partner and a number of the residents at the fare. Life is definitely bizarre and it is often so unfair. But that is life. We need to treasure it, treasure all life.

Summer!!!

This is what a summer midday looks like in Yorkshire. Quite majestic. Just trying to work out where to put the deckchair. Facing the jet blast cold rain or against it. That’s assuming the deck chair has not been sent hurtling across the farmland. Must remember to apply damp proofing to my legs again.

Today we managed to get a home food delivery. That’s two in just over two weeks. I know I poke fun at the process but actually I am so thankful to get anything. The deliveries have been just enough to keep us going over the last three months. Not sure what we would have done without them. Sometimes single parenting really does limit your options. Especially when your son is so tied to the house at present.

Anyway some provisions have arrived. Not everything we hoped for but it’s plenty in the great scheme of things. The main thing is that son got more of the foods he eats this time. Can just about serve up his usual 7 day menu. I will be eating some interesting options thanks to the increasingly creative substitutions.

  • My gluten free pasta has been replaced with kiddies dinosaur shaped pasta. Looking forward to that one.
  • Almond milk for cereal has been replaced with Coffee flavour soya drink. Not sure that will work so well with cornflakes.
  • 6 large free range eggs replaced with 4 Scotch Eggs. Not sure how you make an omelet with those. Also not sure they are much use for my planned Lemon Meringue.
  • 4 lemons replaced by 4 limes. Again not great for a Lemon Meringue.
  • Dairy free cherry yogurt replaced with rhubarb yogurt. Ok I know I’m from Yorkshire and we are supposed to love Rhubard but I’m the only one who doesn’t like the local delicacy.
  • And the best one – 500g of Chia Seeds for me to snack on replaced with 2kg of bird seed. The garden birds will eat well.

But we smile. Avoiding another week of visiting a supermarket is just fine with me. Almost worth eating bird seed to avoid that modern nightmare.

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On the subject of Summer and Baking, don’t forget the Great Blogger Bake-off happening 18/19th July. It will be great fun.