Bit of orange

It’s been a good year for roses here but so not for other flowers. But occasionally the colour shines out. Just as summer is closing we get a couple of late visitors. They are must welcome.

Hawklad is due another home counselling visit this week. Every two weeks is the plan. Part of a long term care strategy to see if they can help him with his anxieties and fears. An attempt to help him feel sufficiently ok to venture back into the wider world. He needs that professional support. Some things are just a bit outside of my parenting skill set.

Even with that help it’s going to be a long process. We need a fair and supportive wind to help the process along.

Like in many parts of the world pandemic numbers are rising. Unlike some parts of the world, the UK is trying to navigate these stormy waters with no effective government. They have a natural talent to make things worse, to add oil onto the fire. So it’s all a tab chaotic and shambolic. The PM sticking to his whack a mole strategy. His words not mine.

I was contacted by Hawklads care team to let me know that they will have to keep assessing if the service will be able to continue in the short term. They are receiving contradictory instructions from the top. It is likely that the home visits will have stop at some point. Probably very shortly. When they do stop then they will look into things like video appointments. Better than nothing I guess but far from ideal. Hawklad really struggles with that type of thing. The worry is that if the visits are forced to stop then they will not probably restart until after winter.

It’s just one of those things. Outside my control. Outside the care providers control. We just have to make the best of it. But it does add to the feeling that a return to school is a very long way off, if at all. It kind of feels like that our castle drawbridge is being raised again. Time to start manning the battlements. That’s a bleak thought. AND that’s why seeing a couple of small orange flowers in the garden is such a big thing for me.

Working hard on harvesting

Apparently we are enjoying the last few days of summer weather. It’s kinda sunny and kinda warm – if you ignore the cold wind. The forecasters are warning that soon the weather will be most definitely very different. Very cold, wet, grim and grey. As a result the farmers around here are desperately trying to get on with stuff. Even working when it’s dark.

It’s also time to start harvesting our own little garden crop. Today it’s a few apples, onions, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Some have done better than others……

Can anyone speak carrot. What’s the carrot for ‘you do know this is Yorkshire and you are about to be given a right weather spanking. You don’t have months of sunny growing weather left, you have no more than 3 days. So get a move on….’

Why is it so simple to grow weeds yet those so called easy grow carrots prove so pesky. It’s as if the carrots pop out of the seeds, feel the Yorkshire soil and go ‘YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING’.

So if the carrots play ball then we are moving into a spell of living off stews, soups and apple crumble. I can happily live with that. I’m always thankful for whatever the garden yields. It does have to contend with the muppet gardener and Captain Chaos.

So yes it’s that time of year. The weather starts to break OR in our case, break even more. It starts to get colder and darker. For many it can be a tough change. Heralding a long period of what feels like ever increasing claustrophobic imprisonment. Me included. That’s where friendships, happy things and dreams are so important. They can help soften the sadness, even lift us into a better place. So for me it’s time to increasingly focus on those things. I can’t do anything about the weather but I can do influence the truly important stuff. Soon the autumn colours will become spectacular. The important stuff can lift the soul. Yes the following months can be bleak BUT they can also yield so much beauty and wonderful moments as well

Now it’s time to give those carrots a good talking to.

Running to or from it

A view from one of my old running haunts. A wonderful place. Basically had the tracks to myself. Me, some farm land and nature. I enjoyed the peace.

Isn’t that strange. Looking back I really valued my space. Having some solitude. Yet fast forward to September 2020 and I fear the solitude and isolation becoming a prison. Surrounded by cold, grey walls.

Just can’t make my mind up can I.

But it is a genuine fear of mine. Becoming completely isolated. Cut adrift.

At present I am ok. I’m finding a way through the ever present danger of isolation. I still have dreams of a different life. There are people who care. We can find ways to stay in touch. I have a workable life balance at present. Not great but not too bad. The risk is that I know myself. I know how easily I can lose confidence. How my social skills can desert me. How I can start to overthink. Become too inward looking. That’s the danger zone for me. Then I can easily be sucked into a completely isolated lifestyle. A lifestyle which is not sustainable or healthy for me.

The other worry is that in the modern world it is so easy to be cut adrift. So easy for people to stop calling round. To stop noticing you. Just one unknown face in the crowd. It felt like that for a long time after I lost my partner. People stopped calling. I was just that unseen face in the crowd.

So for me it’s finding a balance. Enjoying more solitude but avoiding complete isolation. I guess it’s like climbing in thick hill fog. You might be relatively close to others, but they can’t see you. You might as well be alone. The solo climbing can be enjoyable but it can also be unnerving. You are never quite sure how close you are to the precipice. How close to falling over the edges do when your alone, no one will be there to stop you.

But the hope is that if it’s like the climbing metaphor. I’ve been caught out in those white out adventures many times. Yes they have been challenging, a little scary at times. But I’ve so far avoided falling off the edge. That represents hope.

Almost ready

The apples are almost ready.

It will soon be apple crumble time. Now what to go for with it – Custard or Ice Cream?

There is always something to be thankful for. Even in 2020.

I heard someone on the radio say that to him 2020 was the worst period he had ever known. We are all different. We will have our own very unique years to forget. Suffering years. To me 2020 has been an odd year. Yes some new battles. Mainly filled with old battles. More isolation but not that much more than previous years. BUT crucially some wonderful things have also happened.

Eventually when I look back at my life 2016 will take some beating as my worst year. But even then that oversimplifies things. The first 6 months were not bad at all. Then the 6 weeks from hell. Lost my mum and then my partner. Came crashing into the competing worlds of grief, depression and single parenting. Those 6 weeks changed everything for ever. The despair associated with those 42 days and the following weeks just mark 2016 as a bad one. But you easily forget the good stuff that happened before and after. For example November 2016 witnessed the arrival of this well behaved and sensible four legged chap.

Yes it’s easy to forget that good stuff happens all around us, even in the darkest years.

5 things about death.

That kind of weather day. Moody, cloudy, wet, windy, cool. Five things completely associated with a Yorkshire Summer’s Day.

A few days back I did a post about five unexpected things to do with the pandemic. Well let’s do another one.

Five unexpected things I encountered during bereavement. Could do a huge list but let’s just try to pick out the five main ones.

    Just how much paperwork, leg work and phone calls you need to make in the weeks leading up to the funeral. Speaking to the hospice and hospital. Letting friends and families know. Registering the death. Trying to sort out joint bank accounts. Solicitors. Informing government agencies. Cancelling cards, subscriptions, memberships. Returning work assets. Selling a car. Pension authorities. Tax authorities. Changing things like house deeds. Changing insurance cover. Booking a funeral. Arranging the service. Inviting guests…… And on and on. This is all at a time when you are at your lowest ebb.
    Just how quickly the phone calls and visits dry up. Within weeks your suddenly alone. No more checks to see if you are ok. You’ve stopped but the world has kept turning. That’s when the mental health issues can really kick in.
    One person down and just how empty the house feels. Deathly quiet. Too many empty spaces. A very empty bed and sofa.
    Just how many times your mind plays tricks on you. Going shopping and you still buy stuff for the person you have lost. When you make meals you automatically make one for your partner. You drive back home and see your partners car in the drive – the first thought is too often – wow she’s home early today.
    Just how long the the legal side of the death can drag on. In my case the Will took well over a year to be finally signed off by the tax authorities. One bank account took two years to be finally transferred into my name. The telephone and TV accounts are still in joint names – given up trying.

I guess the message is that it’s going to take you to the depths of despair. It’s also going to be a bureaucratic nightmare. You just need to prepare yourself for the long hall. But there is stuff that helps. An empty, deathly quiet house is easily fixed by a mad puppy. If you know someone who is going through loss then why not phone them or even just send a card, especially if it’s a few months down the line – they probably really need the thought. Accept any help when it’s offered – you don’t need to do this alone. Take your time doing this – you don’t get a medal for completing as soon as possible. You need to spend time focusing on yourself, you really do.

Night

I was brought up in a busy Yorkshire seaside town. Then I’ve done a bit of an English City Tour. Lived in Newcastle, Coventry, Portsmouth, London, Birmingham then York. Places with lots of noise, people and action. You get acclimatised to it. Becomes the norm.

Then we moved to a village in the countryside.

It all suddenly changed. The very first thing that struck me was how dark the night was. In a city you get street lights, car headlights, light shining out of window after window, late night shops, restaurants, advertising billboards …… its night but it’s never dark.

But in our village it’s all different. This is the view looking one way down the village street after the sun has set. It’s so dark.

The other way facing East is even darker.

No street lighting here. Hardly any cars on a night. The nearest shop is in another village 5 miles away and that shuts at 5pm. There’s a pub in another village 3 miles in the other direction. Another village a few miles away has a coffee and cake shop – that only opens a few hours a week. That’s it.

That takes a lot of adjustment for an urban bod like me. The first week I was here I went out to post a letter in the village mail box – after dark. I foolishly went without a torch. It was too dark I couldn’t find it. In fact when I decided to go back for a torch, I couldn’t find our house. Took me ages to stumble upon it. That’s properly dark.

The peace and quiet is wonderful. Not having to continually lock your door is refreshing. So is the feeling that your kids can wander a little more safely. To see the night sky without light pollution is awesome – you can so easily forget just how beautiful it is. But there are prices to pay for that.

No popping out for a loaf of bread or takeaway meal in the evening. It’s a 20 minute drive to the nearest late night shop. By the time you return with takeaway food, it’s cold.

Although you are in the country. In natural space. The night can feel suffocating. Very claustrophobic. No sign of human life, you can so easily feel a million miles from anyone. Especially in winter, you will go days without seeing another person. What was the ALIENS line – no one can hear you scream in space.

Village life has so many positives but you need to be prepared. It can be so tough as well.

BUT ITS WORTH IT….

A story to tell – one

We all have a story to tell. All stories are just as valid and important as the next one. Sadly many stories are not told. Well actually that’s incorrect. Sadly many stories are not heard. They are replaced by stereotypes. Too many jumping to conclusions. A view that fits better into the needs of so called modern society.

This week again stories of single parents coming from The Government and it’s Friends. Scrounging off society. Shying away from work. A life of luxury…. That fits in with the message. BUT Cut to a supermarket. A parent is struggling to control a child. Those knowing looks and tuts from other shoppers. They have no idea of the back story. Just how tired that parent is. Trying to figure out a way to feed the family with so little money. Trying to cope with zero help. Being crushed by anxiety and living no life at all. Crushed by circumstances. It’s often easier for some people to cast the first stone rather than offer a hand of support.

The story of kids with Autism and Aspergers again often not heard. Drowned out by stereotypes and unfounded assumptions. Each and every child is different, unique. Each child has their own back story. But so often we here – uncaring, cold, demonic, unfeeling, lacking empathy, no sense of humour, unable to love, a burden on society, low attainment, not really like a kid should be.

Wrong, wrong , wrong. Every child is unique. That’s the point of this blog. Others bloggers do it far better than my drivel. But we try to show the real story of our kids. Hawklad has Aspergers yet he can be funny, caring, have empathy, play games, understand others, be funny, have talents, be lovely, have dreams they want to achieve, have a sense of humour and love. All kids deserve a chance. Deserve a childhood. All kids.

Everyone has a unique story. Maybe as a society we need to start listening.

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.

Get it

The rain is finally starting to pass. The cold is moving on and the temperatures are slowly rising. Perfect time to visit a Rose.

Over time we all lose things that are so important to us. That could be love, friendships, people we care for, pets, our health, our passions, relationships, parts of our very essence, our personal freedom, a space to breathe in, that perfect job, our hopes and dreams. Life can be so very hard.

Often it’s so easy to think that you are alone dealing with these things. That no one understands. It’s such an unsettling feeling – thinking that no one GETS YOU. Believing that you are alone in these struggles. I’ve certainly been there. When you do open up, the awkward or baffled looks you get. The indirect suggestions to ‘get over it’, ‘move on’ or ‘sort yourself out’. The overt signals to ‘please shut up and change the subject’, not even wanting to listen. Often these come from those who seemingly know you the best or are close to you. Friends, family and partners. You do end up feeling isolated and alone.

But there are people out there who understand, who have been through similar experiences, who care or genuinely will listen. Just got to find them. Maybe they end up finding you. Maybe it’s just a random encounter. They could be many many miles away. That’s what happened with me. I’d given up hope, fully accepting that it was just me alone taking on this struggle. But I was randomly found. Suddenly I was genuinely listened to, understood again. BELIEVED IN. Now I don’t feel alone on this journey. Yes I can do this and if I do fall then support is there. A shoulder to cry on and a comforting hug. Will always be so very thankful for that. 💙