Bleak

It’s another bleak old day. Definitely a two jumper day. July 4th was the day when many places like pubs reopened in the England. Well in some parts, rather briefly. A local attraction here opened at 10am and closed a couple of hours later due to the bad weather and high winds. Definitely a two jumper (sweater) day.

Definitely a day for no house work. Disney Plus movies, warm drinks and giving son the attention he needs.

This photograph reminded me of old times. Pre parenting days. When I went through tough periods. When I went through challenging times. Times when I seemed to stumble and constantly lose my way. I would need to reset my inner self. Take a breather. Back then I would book a climbing or walking trip. A weekend in the wilderness. The bleaker the better. That’s what I needed to do my personal reset. Yes I would be tired on my late Sunday drive back but normally I was in a much better mind set. Ready to rumble again.

Fast forward to 2020. Those climbing and walking trips are no more. Single parenting means no timeouts. No weekend long resets. Just keep going. Any internal resets have to be done on the hoof. So with some uplifting words from a friend swirling around my mind, I find myself outside. Sat on the garden fence with a hot drink. Taking a few minutes to breathe. Imagining walking through the bleak landscapes and starting a reset. Yes definitely time to go again.

Another day

Another hot one. One more day then proper weather sweeps back in.

Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s overthinking. Maybe it’s these crazy times. Maybe it’s lack of sleep. Maybe it’s feeling just a little bit alone in this fight. Maybe it’s just one of those days. But today has been on off day. A down day. A misfiring day. A depressed day. I get these days. Not as many as I used to but it doesn’t really help when they strike. These days it definitely feels like good weeks and bad days. So it’s a bit of a surprise when the bad days sneak up on you. All the more frustrating because there is not a definite cause. No warning. Just wake up feeling this way.

A day when

  • The mojo has gone on holiday.
  • Life feels hard and unremittingly uphill.
  • Just feeling yucky.
  • Everything is an effort.
  • The daily workout was completed but never got out of 1st gear.
  • You just want to sit and slouch.
  • That smile is an effort.
  • Routine things become annoying.
  • Those various body injuries just hurt that little bit more.
  • An old photo which made you smile yesterday today brings a tear.
  • That inner demon is just a bit stronger today. The negative voice is just that bit louder.
  • Definitely a little snappy and quick tempered.

Basically low and deflated. It will pass but until it does then it’s no fun. I was going to swear but I won’t. Let’s get through the day and see what tomorrow brings. If it’s the same feeling then maybe a bit of shock therapy is required. I think I will ask son to fill a huge bucket with cold water then fill it with ice cubes and whatever else he fancies. Then he can dump it over me. It worked last time I was like this, maybe it will work again. Only one way to find out….

Wembley

The Yorkshire version of Wembley Stadium. Can you spot the pet trying to once again sneak into the photo.

Even comes with a discerning crowd.

If Aspergers Parenting was a football game, well today feels like we have had a key player sent off….

I always naively assumed that if and when son got an official diagnosis then a support package would be out in place to help with his life chances. How silly of me. I didn’t count on year after year, having to fight the system. Trying to prize just the hints of support from a system which has been hammered into the ground by a Government which only looks after itself and it’s friends. To summarise

  • A school system repeatedly fails kids who do not fit into the factory production line which is the UK school system. Two options, either fight for a place in one of the few special schools or accept your child being bracketed as ‘low attainment’ and consigned to the bottom set. The school will then forget about the child and then pat itself on the back if the child gets just one certificate.
  • Letter after letter, call after call trying to find a clinician who is prepared to look at your child’s case.
  • Passed from specialist to specialist who don’t have the time or resources to add your child onto their case load.
  • Service after service cut by a Government which believes that only the rich should be able to buy access to essential healthcare. A Government that sees Mental Health as no more than an excuse to avoid work. Let’s not forget they described a child taking time off from school after a bereavement as an extended holiday.
  • When you do finally get access to a service you then join the growing waiting list. Finally when your child is seen it’s virtually always by someone new, with no understanding of the back story.
  • Finally your child starts to get older and the few services he has had access to are withdrawn as he is now above the age threshold. You see the Government likes to think that after 13, services are pointless and far too expensive. Adults have to sort themselves out.

We have had three brilliant exceptions to this.

  • A Clinical Psychologist who worked with out son consistently for three years. She even delayed her retirement to ensure son’s diagnosis was officially approved.
  • An Occupational Therapy service that worked with him every few months to help with things like coordination. A service which was cut when he reached 13.
  • A wonderful Nurse Counsellor who worked with our son for 3 years helping with his anxieties and joining the fight for additional help.

We entered June 2020 with just the Nurse Counsellor left from his entire care package. And now the player is sent off.

The Nurse phoned today to let us know that she had been reassigned. She is great and some other kids are really going to really benefit from her time. We are eternally grateful for everything she has done. She is going to desperately try to find another clinician to take over from her. I know she will really try. We may get a replacement. The Nurse was the only clinician he really has connected with. Those connections are rare for him. Making a new connection is going to be tough and most certainly not guaranteed. As the Nurse said it feels like we have lost the progress made over the last few years.

Today feels like one of those tough parenting days. As a friend wrote recently we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and start again. We most certainly do. But it feels like it’s a much depleted team taking on the struggle. Forgive me I’ve not used a Lord of the Rings metaphor for a while. It feels like the heavens have opened. The hordes are massed outside the walls and I’m stood alone on the Battlements of Helms Deep. Just me protecting our son now. Doesn’t feel like Gandalf is riding over the horizon in the morning. I’m going to have to just find a way of doing this myself.

I’m off now to kick the ball into the net a few times. Maybe with a bit more force than usual. Then the fight starts again.

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.

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.

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.

Labels

It’s yellow rose time.

It’s simple being a rose. Just got to worry about getting the colour of the petals right. Can’t have a White Rose suddenly going red. That’s just a no no in Yorkshire. Would I trust myself to be a rose – probably not. Hopefully the gardener would attach a label to remind me what colour I needed to be.

For the last few years I’ve labelled myself. First of all I labelled myself as a WIDOW. Initially I was a YOUNG WIDOW but the young bit was stretching the truth a little too far. I was also labelled a SINGLE PARENT. Son also correctly labelled me a MUPPET.

I can think of a few other labels I could go for but sadly they would not be widely accepted…

  • Chef
  • Gardener
  • DIY expert
  • Multilingual
  • Musical
  • 6ft tall
  • Thor like.

I can think of a few more labels which are more applicable to me..

  • I’ve been called a Socialist before – with some of my views, I probably am,
  • Plant Killer – oh yes,
  • Weapons Grade Cook – can’t argue with that,
  • Metal Head/Headbanger – the cd collection and the Iron Maiden T-shirt gives that away,
  • Newcastle United Fan – otherwise known as a Loser….
  • Little Bro – yes I am the youngest sibling but bizarrely I am the tallest…

But last week I was reading a post by a wise blogger who can actually call himself a gardener. Suddenly I came across another label. A label which potentially fits as well.

BACHELOR

I call myself a widow but in the eyes of the law, I am not. We were together for nearly two decades. Living as close as any couple. But we never got round to get married. We (I) thought we had plenty of time. My worst ever call. Going to take that mistake with me to my grave.

So given that fact then yes I am kinda a BACHELOR. It doesn’t sound right to me. It’s bizarre that until last week I would never have thought that label applied. Never crossed my mind. I know that I’m starting to overthink this. It’s only a silly label. It’s what’s in the heart that matters. But it did unsettle me for some reason.

Does WIDOWED BACHELOR sound any better.

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