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.

The third sequel

The third sequel already. The Trilogy done in one day. Eat your heart out Peter Jackson.

So this is the third instalment in the ‘what has changed over the 6 months of pandemic isolation’ saga. This time it’s what has changed for me. I guess this one is called The Return of the Kermit the Frog King. So what has changed then for me.

  • With Hawklads increasingly pronounced Social and Health related anxieties the last six months have seen a ramping up of the parenting pressures. Fewer breaks, more challenges and yes less support. In the UK small amount of support that has survived the Conservative Funding Cutbacks largely stops when kids hit the teenage years.
  • Have become a home educator. A school facilitator. A Classroom Supplies specialist. Much smirking…. After 6 months I’m still winging it.
  • I’m sleeping less. Much less. Just can’t seem to reset the insomnia cycle.
  • Certainly more isolated in terms of actually meeting people outside our little bubble. In 6 months I’ve seen family members twice, one work colleague (and good friend) maybe three times, neighbours a handful of times, the local shop workers maybe a couple of times a month, the dentist once, one visit from the boilerman, a few health workers and doctors. That’s about it. Oh actually forgot one person. The Postman, the only person I see regularly. I count his fairly frequent waves as my most regular physical contact. Luckily I have lovely online friends.
  • With not meeting too many people I’ve started noticing human life more. I notice dog walkers in the fields, cyclists, passing cars, voices from the street, even planes in the sky. A reminder that a bigger world still exists out there.
  • My conversation skills have never come easy to me. I have to work on and practice them. That’s just not happened for months. Even on most phone calls I can feel myself becoming increasingly wooden.
  • My largely unseen dress sense is becoming increasingly avant-garde.
  • I have lost 6lbs but you wouldn’t notice it. Having to resort to consuming far too much Soya (Soy) which isn’t great for my tummy. No I’m not pregnant.
  • I’ve stopped running and walking and road cycling. Must admit it’s not doing my old contact sport injuries any good. Bits are starting to seize up. So I’m trying to find my inner Yoga. Or as I call it Controlled Falling Over.
  • Work has dried up. This was supposed to be a really busy year. Lots of new jobs and major events. In practice that all was cancelled. Remains cancelled. Some plans have been put in place but really I’m not going to get much work until 2021.
  • I’m more able to fill my day without leaving our little household world. No need to visit shops daily, coffee shops, cinema, visit family or friends. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it comes easier to me now.
  • I do tend to overthink things now. Can have days when I do sober too much time internalising stuff. With me that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s such a short stroll to self doubt and negativity.

Yes things have changed for me. They will continue to change as our personal lockdown is not going to end anytime soon. Potentially months more, maybe much longer. With us being an Aspergers Family that was kind of in place before the pandemic. Maybe many of these changes were already happening before the March lockdown. They have just become more pronounced. Maybe these are longer term changes. Maybe it’s much more than a three episode trilogy. Maybe it’s a permanent feature.

Where did that go – The Sequel

The quickest sequel ever. Only a few hours ago I wrote about where did the summer holidays go! Where did the first 6 months of lockdown go. It’s ending for many but not for some. Not for us. That got me thinking, which is dangerous🤪🧐

What has changed for Hawklad and me over those 6 months.

So for Hawklad the following have been the big changes…

  • His fears about health and illness have gone through the roof. Just exploded. He is wracked with anxieties and the need to wash is never more than a few minutes away.
  • His social anxieties have become more prominent. He is more inward looking, and less likely to interact with others. As a result he had become more isolated.
  • He is more aware of the world.
  • He is more aware of Aspergers.
  • He is more aware of the incompatibilities between the outdated world and those who are on the spectrum.
  • His reading has really come on. In his words – ‘more of a part time dyslexic now’. The irony that happened without direct school teaching.
  • His available world has shrunk. The days of school, trips to the beach, a hill walk, an outing to a historic site, a visit to a friends house – they all seem a distant memory. Most days he can’t even get to his own front gate.
  • He has shot up. Now taller than his Dad.
  • He has become thinner. Need to watch that.
  • He became a teenager. Almost instantaneously he suddenly found movies like Dumb and Dumber, Bill and Ted and anything by Will Farrell hysterical.
  • He has a truly shocking hairstyle. Dad is great at doing them and he has so much hair to mess up.
  • He can now talk about his mum without so much sadness. Much more about being proud of her.
  • He sleeps much less now.
  • He is becoming more clingy. Needing more reassurance that I’m in the house somewhere.
  • Many of his personal traits, those that are often identified as being Aspergers, have become more pronounced. More marked.

So many things have changed for our son. Changes in circumstances, physical changes, changes in personality. Some of these changes could be down to the lockdown but it could also be a natural development. It’s a difficult time for him, to be a teenager. But add in Aspergers and it can be such a disorientating period. Trying to find a fit between the complex world and the need to find personal identity. Finding that sadly Aspergers is still not widely seen as being socially acceptable. What to do? Try to confirm or be himself. All this at a time when he may become more inwardly looking and less likely to talk to about his emotions. Potentially troubling times ahead. Maybe that’s the next theme for our journey. We shall see.

Soon I will try to do a similar list for me. What’s changed for this Kermit the Frog.

What could have been

Sometimes you get those moments when you just sigh. Sigh and think – what could have been. Now I could go down many routes with that thought. But today while watching a sunset flicker into life my mind was in schooling mode.

A fruitless day with school and the education authorities. Does look like support will be minimal going forward. The message is that if you can’t start back at school next week then it’s the parents responsibility to keep your child in line with classroom progress until they return. Suddenly the parent becomes curriculum specialist and teacher. I guess the hope is your child returns to school quick enough that they don’t fall too far behind. But what happens if it’s not a quick return.

We have a medical letter informing school that because of his severe anxieties and fears our son cannot currently return to school. No timescale has been set. Son has mentioned the end of October as a goal. The start of the next term. If that was the case then it’s 7 weeks of trying to keep up with the classroom teaching. But that’s just a finger in the air date. We have no idea when he will be in a position to return to the cramped classrooms. The first goal is to try and get him into a less anxious place. Then it’s to see if he can start venturing out into the wider world. Then we move into trying to get son more comfortable being inside with other people. Only then when he is more comfortable with life, can we consider a return to school. I’m not sure our PM or Education Secretary actual realise that to truly learn you need to be in a good place. Content, relaxed and comfortable. Actually they probably do realise this but they just don’t care. In their eyes it’s all about set teaching approaches, targets and discipline. Anxieties about a pandemic are brushed aside – schools are perfectly safe – no risk at all – force them back into cramped out of date classrooms – trust us or we force you back. Not ideal learning environments, a nightmare for those suffering from anxieties and fears.

But it didn’t have to be like this. Speaking with the school there was another way. School has introduced a very good homeschooling online system. It worked during the lockdown. The plan was from September that most pupils would only spend 50% of their time in school. Apart from those with exams, pupils would spend part of the week at home doing remote learning. That would allow school to further spread pupils out and create enhanced social distancing. Great plan but the government has dictated that all pupils must return full time. So the online schooling system has been turned off. So a potential route to help those pupils who are unable or uncomfortable about returning is not available. A method of helping a number of pupils to keep up, to learn and to avoid them being disadvantaged has been ended by the Government.

That’s a lot of school weeks that we have to navigate and try to stay in touch with his classmates. It’s going to be a real challenge. And it just won’t be our family in this position. Much sighing. Might as well enjoy the sunset.

End of August

The end of August. Still no clearer on the road ahead. Apart from the fact that my knees may develop frostbite if I keep wearing my shorts.

Not having a clear road ahead at the end of August is not a new experience.

August 2019 – trying to get my head around Hawklads granny’s rapidly deteriorating health. Maybe days until I’m asked to make a call on ceasing treatment. What to do. School refusing to move Hawklad up sets and no sign of additional support. What to do.

August 2018 – Almost time to switch schools. New teachers, bigger school, less flexibility, no guarantee of support. The only message – he will be in the bottom set. What to do.

August 2017 – Struggling to get any support for Hawklad. What to do. School is trying but they are so small they don’t have the resources to cope. Much needed services have been cut. My finances are a mess. I’m a mess. What to do.

August 2016 – Partner in a hospice, just waiting now. Effectively I am a single parent now. What will I do. My job that won’t fit my new life. In fact what is my new life. What happened to the old life. What will I do.

So it’s August and here we go again. Is it true homeschooling or my attempt to mirror classroom schooling until he can return. Support at best is sketchy. The pandemic has not only messed up schooling it’s doing its best to mess up my job as well. Will the job be here in a few months? What will I do.

All a bit perplexing but that is August for me. Should be used to it by now. And that is a source of comfort. September will arrive and life keeps moving. The road ahead might still be confusing but it is heading somewhere.

You

This was a year ago. I stopped on one of my long runs to take this photo. It would have been just after 9am and Hawklad would have been in school. After the run was finished I would then drag my muddy body to the supermarket. Definitely seems like an eternity ago. I wonder when I will go running here again. Probably not in 2020.

We all need those things in life to hold on to. A person, a friendship, a love, faith, a hobby, a destination. It will be different for everyone. Maybe it’s one thing. Maybe it’s a range of things. But we do need these in our worlds. For our health and wellbeing. I remember listening to a politician who I really respected. He talked about his love of hill walking. How walking had become such an important part of his life. But he was sad because due to work demands he had been forced to stop something he loved so much. Tragically it didn’t work out for him and his life was cut short. We do need to hold onto these things which lift us up. We all need to find the time. Listen to what our inner selves are telling us and needing from us. Hold onto and treasure those things and people we love.

So running has gone. I’ve found better more enriching things to focus and care for. But I realise that I do need a fitness activity to replace running. Ultimately the exercise bike is monumentally boring. So at present running has been replaced with yoga. Briefly stopping to take a photo has been replaced with failing to get anywhere near holding a handstand. Happy Days. I feel another lego yoga post coming on. You have been warned.

Joking to one side, please remember to find the time for YOU. You need that.

1000 odd days

This is a photo from 3 years ago. I stumbled across it while looking for some old climbing ones. Another typical Yorkshire August day – all four seasons in one day. It got me thinking – what’s the same and what’s changed in those 1000 odd days. See that’s what a professional accountancy qualification can do for you – I’m good at those complicated adding up calculations.

THINGS WHICH ARE THE SAME

  • Getting no dyslexia support from school,
  • Getting no Aspergers support or accommodations from school,
  • Still bereaved,
  • Still a single parent,
  • Still a metal head at heart,
  • Hawklad is still a lovely character,
  • No holidays, no Switzerland,
  • Pets causing chaos,
  • My football team is still useless,
  • Still see myself as European,
  • Brexit is still a shambles and a monumental exercise of self destruction,
  • Vegetarianism,
  • Can’t cook,
  • Still exercising,
  • Still 5ft 10 and a half (don’t forget the half – it takes me beyond average height),
  • Still not climbing,
  • Still can’t work out the TV remote control,
  • The garden is still a mess,
  • Still don’t like U2,
  • Still haven’t seen Avatar without falling asleep,
  • Haven’t seen my brother even though we live only 50 miles apart,
  • The garden gate still needs fixing,
  • The washing machine is still possessed,
  • Still having bought myself that ginormous telescope,
  • The blog is still going,
  • Still writing about the same stuff,
  • Still waiting for official recognition of my stellar poetry skills,
  • Still haven’t won the lottery,
  • Still losing my car keys.

THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED FOR THE WORSE

  • As Hawklad has reached the teenage stage many of the health support packages have been removed,
  • The waiting list to see The Paediatrician is now approaching 2 years,
  • A pesky pandemic,
  • Hawklads anxiety levels,
  • Hawklads isolation from the world and other kids his age,
  • Due to circumstances had to stop running,
  • Boris,
  • Trumps antics,
  • Might be a metal head but the days of skin tight jeans have gone,
  • Lost a couple of much loved pets,
  • Don’t really see my sisters anymore,
  • School’s view of Hawklad – definitely revising his perceived ability levels downwards,
  • The number of times I have to shout or pull my hair out at school is rising,
  • I’m physically meeting less people,
  • The list of things on the need sorting out when funds are available is growing.

THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER

  • Hawklad understands himself and his Aspergers much better now,
  • Hawklad is overcoming his dyslexia,
  • I understand now that it’s just as ok to Laugh as it is to Cry, YES it’s ok to live,
  • Friendship
  • Close Friendships,
  • Faith,
  • Love,
  • Happiness,
  • One step closer to home schooling (hopefully),
  • My dress sense – I finally chucked out some of my pink climbing shirts.

You might be thinking that looking at the relative number of entries on these lists that the last 1000 odd days have been generally bad. But look at some of those things on the last list. It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Yep looking at that last list, over the last 1000 odd days we have challenges but some really good stuff has still happened. That’s why there is always hope.

The Irony

The old Apple Tree. Definitely enjoying the sun and the rare windless conditions. A good day for a garden meeting.

Well today didn’t go as planned.

Son was primed for his garden meet-up with his new nurse counsellor. These things don’t come easy to him. Often it’s about trying to build a bond. A bridge. Only when that link is formed can any meaningful work be commenced. He had that link with his last person, we can only hope a similar one is formed again.

So yes he was as ready as he could be. The garden was setup…..

Then the call from Nurse Reception. Unfortunately the counsellor had taken ill in the car and had turned back. Headed home. Really sorry and they will rebook the session when the counsellor is back at work.

So hope that she is alright. These things happen. But the irony.

A session to work on Hawklads Health and Pandemic related fears cancelled due to illness.

The irony has not been lost on him. Oh sorry forget, HES not supposed to get things like irony….. A Doctor once said that to him during a consultation. Hawklad fixed him with a Paddington Bear Stare and said “Are you a proper Doctor?”. The Doctor looking a bit flustered and talked about his qualifications. Hawklad them calmly said “ok a Doctor but clearly not a very good one…..”.

So we just have to wait for another appointment. Absolutely no idea when that will be. Probably after schools go back in September? That’s another potential return complication. It’s certainly added a little to his fears, now. When the meeting does happen I’m betting on Hawklad asking for the garden chairs to be further spaced apart. Thats something which won’t happen at school.

We dust ourselves off and we just have to go again. The cancellation may be for the best. Stops anything unpleasant coming into our safe area. Plus it forces me to do something rather than rely on others. Just got to up my game.

Yes another odd Monday.

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. 💙