Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Some surprises I love

Yesterday I blogged that I had a sense of anticipation and had no idea why and said "perhaps something wonderful is just around the corner waiting for me ~ who knows but here's hoping."

Well, something did happen ~ later that afternoon my old school pal and partner in crime was in the local area and surprised me with a phone call to say she would be round in 5 minutes.  It was a completely unexpected surprise as she lives 2 hours drive away and we rarely get the opportunity to organise getting together ~ the last time we managed to catch up was last summer.

So there you go, sometimes, when you least expect it, good things can happen. Needless to say we were too busy gas-bagging to take a quick photo to mark the occasion so these will have to suffice.

Wine fuelled poetry writing in our late teens.

in our twenties now

Last summer with our Goddaughters

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Do you ever get that feeling?

Do you ever get that feeling of having butterflies along with a sense of anticipation? The kind before you take a test, exam or have a meeting to discuss matters of huge importance to you ~ I have that today and I have no idea why.

There are many changes I wish to make in my life, some are major which will affect the entire family, some tiny which are just for my own benefit ~ time will tell if these are going to be achievable but I have hopes that they are and can be brought into place over the next year or so.

My first small step towards implementing these changes is to start walking the dogs again on a daily basis ~ I miss my long rambling dog walks. The girls tend to sleep heaviest early morning which would make it the perfect time for me to take the dogs out ~ but first I need to fully master the walking of three young pups on the one lead. To that end I been searching through numerous review sites going through various dog harnesses as I want ones which are light weight and breathable so the pups don't get too hot and preferably help to stop excessive pulling on the lead. Eventually one name kept coming up with great reviews and thankfully they aren't too expensive either, so I just purchased ready to trial three Sporn Non pull padded mesh dog harnesses. They should be here in time to take with me to our holiday home in Filey where I shall practice walking them all together with The Dave being close at hand should I need some help. I have a great long soft lead with added triple extension to allow me to walk the three dogs from it, so all being well by the end of the next fortnight I should be confident enough to start venturing out alone ~ just need to be sure I have mastered the technique of poop picking with the one hand whilst dog juggling (and controlling) with the other.
Another challenge I am going to be tackling is whittling down all our hoarded tat that is cluttering up our house, loft and sheds ~ this means on our return from holiday organising ourselves to go to car boot after car boot to offload it onto other people who are intent on collecting more tat into their homes instead of mine. I will systematically go through the sheds, loft and then room by room until all the excess tat has been removed ~ what doesn't sell at the boot sales will be sent to charity shops, recycling or the skip ~ depending on what it is.
There are many more changes I wish to make but for now they are under wraps and will shared with you in due course as I am superstitious so don't wish to tempt fate.

For today though I am trying to figure out why I feel this sense of anticipation ~ perhaps something wonderful is just around the corner waiting for me ~ who knows but here's hoping.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

It's a Kaftan Thing

What do you think of when you hear the word Kaftan? For me that one word brings back many very happy memories of my mum, a crazy wonderful woman who had a penchant for wearing loud patterned clothing and had quite the collection of Kaftans which she wore around the house ~ she was so much a lover of these garments that when we were younger she made us our own Kaftan each to wear instead of dressing gowns at boarding school, much to our horror!

What brings a curl to my lip and a chuckle to my throat is the fact that now I am getting older I find myself drawn to the Kaftan despite myself. When I look into the mirror I see my mother looking back at me because as the years progress the similarity between us grows. I thought this would bother me ~ all my life I was told how much like my mother I looked and it irked me, but now it doesn't.  I was young and had no desire whatsoever to look like my parent, it was hugely insulting to the younger me. But now with age I find it comforting, my mother passed away far too young, I was nowhere near ready to let her go but the choice wasn't mine to make. So now if ever I am told that I look like my mother I feel hugely comforted, she is forever a part of me ~ I like that.

I am now the proud owner of two purple Kaftans ~ the obsession with purple is also growing with age! I wear my Kaftan with pride and smile to myself every time a receive a strange look on the street or raised eyebrow. Finally, at long last, I feel comfortable to go out wearing whatever I like no matter how bizarre it may seem to others. Mother, at last I understand you and I salute you for being so happy in your own skin and not giving a hoot what anyone else thought of you.

Mum I don't quite have your cushion wearing skill down yet, but I will with practice
My first ever Kaftan which I wore for the first time down to the opticians.
My second Kaftan, newly purchased and en-route as I type.
Finally, as you may already have gathered I have an obsession which I can't control with anything purple ~ my trip to the opticians was to collect my new prescription glasses which are in ~ yes you guessed it ~ purple! I am ridiculously excited and love them partly because I can now at long last see but also because the colour is beautiful and they are also just a little bit sparkly too. Much to my own amusement I have also invested in a cord to hold said glasses around my neck to prevent me from losing them ~ I am inching with each year closer and closer to that mad old purple woman notoriety, this makes me immensely happy.
I wonder, is it just me or are other women arriving at their mid-forties also feeling this great release of not giving a damn about what others think of them and embracing living life their own way?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

What are you doing today?

I woke up this morning to the curtain billowing into the room, the scent of glorious fresh air and three warm dogs snuggled up against my body ~ it felt good! I haven't slept properly (again) except for a couple of hours broken sleep yet I still feel content. Several strong cups of coffee help to revive me and my body starts to feel human again.

Not really sure what has got into me today but I decide to bite the bullet and put on the dress my daughter bought me for my birthday. Now, if you don't know me you would think "so what" ~ but if you do know me then you also appreciate that I never wear dresses, skirts or in fact anything remotely feminine. It's not for any reason in particular other than that I am a person who opts for practical and comfortable clothing, so usually trousers and trainers. I don't wear make-up as I don't like the way it feels on my skin and rarely wear jewellery because I tend to react to it, no matter how pure the metal. My daughter, however, has often tried to prise me into a dress or skirt ~ something pretty and womanly with no luck. That is until she came up with the cunning plan of buying me a dress for my birthday which would then mean I would have to wear it otherwise it would be considered rude and ungrateful of me.

Well, Tara my love, it worked and I am wearing it today ~ although admittedly with my magic pants underneath to hold and control my stomach, which if left unguarded would revel in having freedom to undulate and party without decorum which quite frankly is undignified of a stomach that age and so needs reining in! I am finding the dress surprisingly comfortable and lightweight, which is a blessing in this heat.  I must admit to feeling a little exposed though as if I'm not wearing sufficient clothing.  Very strange sensation indeed, as I am used to being hemmed in by trousers and then covering up with loose tops.
So today I am mostly wearing a dress, nothing ground breaking or astounding but a breakthrough for me at least.

The weather is also glorious, no matter how grumpy I feel when I look outside and see blue skies, fluffy clouds and wonderful warm sunshine it instantly lifts my mood.
Additionally today we met the guy from Nisai and signed Tara up for her Maths and English GCSE courses starting in September. She will have her induction around the virtual classroom in August and assessed for ability to ensure she is grouped properly as they don't allocate classes according to age.  It is very exciting and my gut tells me it is absolutely the right educational choice for Tara too.

Just fyi I am now going to make a cherry smoothie, slap on some sun cream and sit in the shade (if I can find any) with my Terry Pratchett discworld novel.

So, what are you going to do today? I am nosey and love to people watch whenever I have the opportunity, my curiosity makes me wonder what you are doing today ~ are you trying something different, doing something that you would usually avoid, working, following your usual routine or just having a day off and sitting enjoying the beautiful weather?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Front Step Cha Cha Cha...

In the words of Miss Baltimore Crabs "Front step Cha cha cha, Back step Cha cha cha, Side step, Front step, Back And turn!" I reckon life is a little like dancing, you go forwards, backwards, sideways with a few twists and turns thrown in along the way. Not always a negative step to not move forward, gives time for contemplation but there are times when you itch to take those giant leaps forwards and get ahead of the game although I suppose you could say it helps avoid tedium and complacency having these regular challenges thrown at you.

So much can happen in a week yet you when you stop you realise that although your time has been spent dancing furiously you find yourself standing in the same spot as when you began. This week it feels like that yet we've been making tweaks and adjustments preparing to move in a forward direction, our journey is more of a swirling loop of twirls, side and back steps with tantalising sensation of a forward motion thrown in here and there.

I mentioned last week that Keisha was in the midst of doing her 4 weeks NCS challenge which she is finding hugely rewarding although it is really pushing and testing her anxiety and social skills.  I am immensely proud of how she is coping, she has succeeded in finishing her first two residential weeks which you can read about here and here; now she is working with her team "Team Futures" to raise funds for their chosen charity Arena, a local church based charity which provides numerous services for those in need locally they have a child care service called Acorns, charity shop (including coffee shop), support group for those affected by substance abuse,  a community garden and a foodbank. Keisha and her team had the opportunity to visit this charity during their second residential week and spent a day helping out in the kitchen making up food boxes.  They are now focused on planning fundraising events for this week and next to help support the work this great charity is doing for the local community.
Team Future
My first born child is rising to her challenges and although experiencing some turbulence is hanging on in there and determined to finish what she started ~ this makes me immensely proud and I hope this experience will stay with her and remind her that she is capable of far more than she realises and to not limit herself in what she decides to do with her future.  

Tasha, my second born daughter has been physically very up and down recently but I am very happy to say her mood now appears to have stabilised and she seems to be in a better place mentally. I wish the same could be said for her physically.  Her ME appears to have improved slightly ~ not wanting to tempt fate but hoping that this is going to be a continuing trend.  We still have to rely on the wheelchair but within the home she is able to get dressed every day and come down stairs with us for longer and longer. She has been allocated a fabulous Peer Mentor via a Charity called Children First who we were referred to via our local CAMHS team. It is a sad truth that many children with ME become isolated from their peers, you can only say "I can't" so many times to invitations before they inevitably stop coming which can lead to loneliness and loss of social contact. Especially, when like Tasha, you are not well enough to attend school/college and so have no outside contact with your own age group. She has a couple of older friends who have been wonderful to her and in particular her friend Alex comes over and if she is having a good day utilises her blue badge and takes her round the corner in his car to where there is a Costa, they park directly in front of it which means no walking and they sit outside with a drink, have a chat and then he brings her home again. If this is too much then he brings it with him and they sit outside on the patio instead. The Peer Mentoring service though has been wonderful for Tasha ~ she has been paired with a young woman who has gelled well with her because they have so many common interests.  As Tasha isn't currently well enough to be taken out and about for any activities as it is too exhausting for her her mentor comes to the house once a fortnight and spends the afternoon chatting whilst they both experiment with different artistic mediums, from glass painting, fabric painting to watercolours and acrylics.  Tasha looks forward to these afternoons and she gets a lot from them. Physically there are issues, it would seem that she is currently experiencing some underlying inflammatory flare which we have yet to identify the source. This is resulting in gastro upsets, pains in all small joints, flare of psoriasis and contact dermatitis along with a sensation of constant nausea similar to travel sickness and episodes of excessive perspiration.  Tests via GP have all come back as normal and so we now have been advised to request a gastroenterology and any other possibly relevant referrals via the Consultant review on the 15th August to seek out the cause and then with some luck treating it effectively.  I am confident if we can cure this inflammatory response we can then move forward and build on rehabilitation and pacing with the ME.

Tara, my youngest, has also been suffering additional issues other than her ME. She has a chronic bowel complaint which we think has now resulted in malabsorption of nutrients causing malnutrition. Our very thorough and kind GP has sent us for every test she is able to send for (our second visit to the blood clinic was Monday this week for the final round of tests).  She has pre-warned us that she expects them all to come back as normal because she feels that the physical manifestations we are seeing are due to the body not receiving the essential nutrition it requires.  By having these tests already completed though means that when we visit the Consultant on the 15th we can say we are ready to move forward to a referral with the gastroenterology team to find out what is not absorbing and why so that we can treat it and also follow up that with dietician referral.  This means that although her ME appears to be stable right now her physical health is very poor as she is extremely fatigued, nauseous and in pain.  The weight loss has levelled off for the moment and we hope we can prevent any further decline in weight but it's a hard job and a struggle for her to eat to ensure that she has enough calories.

It feels like right now we are treading water with my youngest two daughters yet they have incredible positivity and strength.  They don't complain, they get up, come down and make us laugh ~ they make the best of life and ensure those around them do to. They aren't invincible though and have moments of despair when the pain gets them down and being cheerful isn't easy but these episodes are short lived, a cuddle and knowledge that they are understood seems to help them to lift their chins back up and carry on. My eldest daughter struggles to see them fight so hard and feel so ill and it is hard for her to have time with her siblings as by the time she comes home they are too tired to interact with her much and inevitably go to bed.  She has her own struggles which are different from her sisters but equally as difficult to negotiate, yet she does, she doesn't give up either.  I have no idea where they get this fighting spirit, determination and unwavering spirit from but I am grateful for it. They have abnormal normal lives which have forged them into unique creative souls with a empathy for others and a vision of life different from their peers ~ perhaps there is some as yet unseen path for them for which this life and struggles is preparing them for.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Positivity Challenge; 3 things each day for 5 days

I have been nominated via a friend on Facebook to take the Positivity Challenge; where you post three positive things that have happened in your day for five days. I thought this was a lovely exercise to focus the mind on the good aspects of each day and decided to turn this challenge into a blog and photograph (where possible) those three positives.

Day 1
  1. My Palm trees who I named Grant and Marguerita after my parents, have doubled in size since I bought them last year, for someone who hasn't got a green thumb and a knack for killing plants this is hugely positive.
  2. My decorative feet ~ normally my feet are hidden, my husband really dislikes my toes as he says they look like jelly babies stuck onto the end of my feet! My lovely Tasha offered to paint my nails for me after seeing my efforts where it look as if I had blobbed black currant jam onto my nails.  She did it all properly with base coat, two coats of varnish and top coat. She then gave me a gorgeous anklet and toe ring to bling them up, now I am less embarrassed about my skanky feet and wearing flip flops in public.
  3. I dropped my phone the other day, face down and my bumper case saved my phone screen but smashed the bumper.  I ordered another one yesterday morning which came today and now I have a lovely purple bumper with matching earphones and my phone is protected once more.
Day Two
  1. Today I managed to get hold of and spoke to our lovely contact at the Nisai Virtual Acadamy to sign Tara up for her Maths and English GCSE's with them.  He answered my questions, could we have Tara's exams in the home if she is too unwell to travel to the exam centre and have rest periods etc and told no problem.  Meeting with him on Thursday next week to fill in the paper work and for Tara to ask any questions she may have ~ then just a quick assessment to see which ability class to put her in and to call her laptop to check that the broadband connection is strong enough for the lessons.  Then lastly plan her induction prior to starting in September.  Hugely positive!
  2. I bought Tasha a couple of Henna Tattoo Kits and spent the morning with both Tasha and Tara working out how to mix the henna powder to the right consistency, then how on earth to then get it into the teeny tiny application bottles. It took some skills and team work but eventually we did it, although it was extremely messy. Tasha did a design on me first a infinity love heart with family inside, and then I did one on each of the girls.  Here are the results...
  3. After a rest to recover we then spent the afternoon painting tote bags ~ the girls continued doing bags they had already started and I decorated one for transporting the dogs bits and pieces in when we go to the caravan.  I have only photographed my bag as the girls haven't finished theirs and didn't want me to show them half done.  It was a very gentle quiet afternoon, all peaceably sharing the dining room table whilst painting in amicable silence.  The girls then went for a lie down afterwards.
Day Three
  1. I got up and managed to get the house, bathrooms and floors cleaned in record time (I loathe cleaning!) All the windows are open, the sun is shining, the house and air smell clean and fresh and now I can flop!
    I should also add dogs to the list too!
  2. It's a gorgeous day, the skies are blue, the sun is out, dogs have a paddling pool which I am dipping my feet in and making foot patterns on the decking and giggling to myself, thing is it's SO hot that they are drying as fast as I am making them ~ however, I feel it is very important that you pander, on occasion, to that inner child don't you?
  3. I received a surprise visit from my wonderful friend Tracey who I have known since I was 18 years old. Sadly for various reasons we both moved from our home towns and now are at opposite ends of the country, so geography has got in the way of us being able to see each other as much as we would like.  This means we get to see each other about once a year if we are lucky.  We have thoroughly enjoyed chin-wagging and catching up, followed by a delicious Anoki Indian take-away and cheeky glass or three of wine too. Nod to the lovely Marilyn (Traceys mum); thank you for your compliments and thinking I am attractive, that is a fabulous positive stroke and is very much appreciated, although I have to be careful now not to allow my head to swell!
Day Four
  1. Assessing how I feel this morning after the excesses of last night and happy to say, no hangover and feel great.
  2. First born child returned this lunchtime having completed her second residential week of NCS. The next fortnight is 9am-5pm locally doing whatever their chosen project is, so at least we will have her home at nights ~ I cannot convey via this blog how exceptionally proud I am of her having done the residential part which was no mean feat considering her anxiety issues. This is massive progress also bodes well for her going to Leeds festival later this summer. This photo was taken during her first residential week which was an activity-packed camping trip to Barnswood Scout Camp near the Staffordshire Moorlands region of the Peak District National Park. (You can read the first instalment of her NCS blog here).  Later we celebrated her return  by enjoying the menu of Keisha's choice which was fresh crunchy vegetable stir fry with tofu followed by baked cookie dough cheesecake. 
  3. Doesn't sound positive I know BUT we visited the GP with youngest child this morning as her back pain is becoming unbearable and stretch mark collection is growing ~ GP listened, was attentive, lovely to her and heard our concerns.  Her gut feeling is that the stretch marks and back pain are due to malnutrition due to nutrients not being effectively absorbed by the body as her BMI is below normal too. HOWEVER, to be on the safe side she is requesting more blood tests to check for connective tissue disorders among many other things ~ this means we can go armed to our Consultant appointment and show all preliminary tests have been done via GP and push forward with gastro referral & absorption tests and then a specialist dietician referral to combat the deficiencies. 
Day Five
  1. Tasha gave me one of her bandanna's along with a lesson on how to wear it to keep my growing fringe out of my eyes.  This is SO much more comfortable than the hair bands which were bruising the side of my head.   
  2. The Hopi Candles arrived so I can treat first born at home which is more convenient, comfortable and cheaper. I shall be treating her later this afternoon.
  3. Enjoying having a day with nothing planned (after doing the Hopi), no appointments to go to and no demands to have to meet ~ may just stay in my "lounge wear" and take the day as it comes. It's so hot and yet it's tipping it down outside, not seen any lightening yet but heard the odd rumble of thunder. So planning the perfect lazy day with films, snuggles with dogs and girls and cooking whatever we happen to have in the fridge/freezers.
So that's it, my 3 things a day for 5 days positivity challenge.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Do you conform?

Why do we feel this need to conform, to fit in?  Why can't we explore our individuality and find out through our hits and misses who and what we are without feeling the need to pigeon hole ourselves and behave, look, do what society expects from us.

I have been wondering about why I feel this need to conform and in my case feel I fit into the type of conformity as explained by Dr C George Boeree as "somewhat conscious and not quite voluntary. It is usually brought on by social anxiety ~ fear of embarrassment, discomfort at confusion, a sense of inferiority, a desire to be liked, and so on.  I think it should be called defencive conformity."

I have spent my life trying to do what has been expected of me, all be it with some disastrous knee jerk reaction moments when I deliberately did what was not expected of me even when I didn't want to, just to spite those who I felt were pressuring me to do otherwise.

As a child I was exceptionally shy, prone to blushing during interaction with others, loathing any attention being given to me.  I was fearful of everything, going into shops and requesting goods over the counter, walking alone down the street, talking to new people, asking directions, answering questions in class and catatonic with fear if I was asked to stand up and read in class or speak in public.  I have no idea why I was this way, I can only assume that it goes back to when I was very young, my older sister by only 15 months used to do everything for me, talk for me, open my gifts ~ everything.  We were inseparable and during that time I was happy and not at all anxious, I had my big sister, I didn't need anyone else ~ let alone learn to rely on myself and stand alone.  This changed when she reached secondary school age and left me completely alone, adrift, no support or companion as she had gone away to boarding school.  This is when I realised how lacking in confidence I was, how shy I felt without the comforting presence of my sister by my side.  It was awful.

Left by myself I felt I had to do what others did in order to "fit in". Wear what they did, do what they did, look how they did.  I didn't have the courage to do what I felt to be right, wear what I wanted and go and do what I enjoyed. I believed you had to be thin and to wear make-up to appear attractive and that only the  academically clever would go anywhere in life, so not me. I wish I could go back now and speak to the younger me ~ I would tell myself to have the strength to follow my own beliefs, desires and gut instincts.

I conformed and did what others expected of me, in short I became a people pleaser.  This lead to conflict during the ensuing years because in order to please one person I inevitably ended up upsetting another.

I was also guilty of comparing myself to others ~ yes I can see that this can be a good way to evaluate yourself and used as motivation tool but it can also be damaging and create self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness too.  "Comparison is the death of joy," said Mark Twain ~ I couldn't agree more; it is dangerous to put your self worth down to how you compare to others and can create jealousy and feelings of inadequacy if you don't come up to scratch but also you may feel superior if you are doing better than others which is awful, who wants to feel good on the back of someone elses misfortune? 

It was having my own children that made me re-evaluate how I lived my life.  I didn't want them to feel that they had to conform to the mainstream beliefs on how they should look, dress and behave. I allowed them the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they wished. My eldest daughter had 6 imaginary friends, all had specific character traits and were included in conversation and places set for them at mealtimes because that was her wish. For a while my middle daughter dressed exclusively in boys clothes and would only play with stereotypical boys toys. My youngest daughter liked to mix weird and wonderful combinations together and wear odd outfits - such as jazzy tights, patterned swimsuits and welly boots to nursery school.  My parenting technique caused many a raised eyebrow from other parents and shaking of heads. As they are growing up I have allowed them to dye their hair all colours of the rainbow, have piercings and all three have not followed the normal educational route due to circumstance out of our control.  We allow them to express their opinions and try to never talk down to them.  This has led to us have 3 daughters who are finding out who they are, what they like and where they want to go in life. They are independent thinkers, creative and not afraid to speak their minds.  I am exceptionally proud of them and believe that they have the strength to follow their own beliefs and desires without feeling the need to conform.  Their teen years have been far from the norm due to chronic illness and this has further developed their individuality and ability to work out what they feel is best for them and to follow that path rather than doing what others may feel they should do.

I am learning through the courage of my daughters to look at my own behaviour and beliefs.  I have now stopped saying yes to things I really don't want to do and now have the strength to say "No", I don't give excuses but will if necessary back up with a valid reason.  I have made a point of asking for what I want ~ I may not always get it but at least I am starting to work towards getting there.  I am expressing my opinion, it may not be the same as other peoples but that doesn't make it invalid either. I have made the big step of working at believing in myself and my abilities, I am currently working at writing my first novel.  It is an ambition which up til now I had decided I could not achieve because I am not academic, I'm no writer but why not go for it? To complete my book and have it published will see a dream come true, I am doing it purely for myself and no one else. If people read it and enjoy it then that will be a huge boost but not the reason I am taking this on.

The hardest part of this challenge though is trying to stop myself worrying about what other people think of what I do or how I look.  I am practising doing things my way ~ yes I carry some weight but does that make me a lesser person? No of course not.  If someone judges me as being less than I am because of my weight then that is their issue, not mine.  I also dye my hair bright unnatural shades of purple because I love the colour and it makes me feel happy.  If people think I shouldn't have bright purple hair at "my age" then again that's their opinion and not mine.  I will listen to other peoples opinions and advice but ultimately now I intend to follow what my gut instinct tells me to do. If I feel strongly about something and it goes against the advice of others I will do it not to spite them but because I want to ~ whether I succeed or fail.   I am trying to learn the art of compromise as I recognise that sometimes I can't blithely just do what I want without considering the feelings of others ~ so in some instances a compromise needs to be reached to keep both parties happy.  I am practising the art of assertiveness (still a work in progress), this is harder than I thought and requires me facing my fears and speaking out.  Lastly I am developing a shell to protect me from other peoples displeasure at my choices, especially when I chose to take the path they are against and don't comply to their wants.  This does not mean that I am being selfish - I recognise when there is a need for me to prioritise the wants and needs of others and will put their needs first when necessary.  It's a learning curve, trying to find the right balance that sits well with me.  I am no longer willing to be a pushover, at the mercy of other peoples wishes and expectations.  

I love this quote;

"The greatest acts of kindness are those done by choice, not out of fear or guilt. If you're doing things for others because you would feel bad if you didn't, is the action really genuine? Would you want others to help you under those terms? And, if you're helping others to such an extent that you are neglecting yourself, is that really wise?

It is my responsibility to my daughters to lead by example and I am grateful to my husband for understanding and supporting me through my transition from people pleaser to individual thinker. I am exceptionally lucky and am finding through age comes wisdom and that gives me the strength to change ingrained patterns of behaviour.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Life is a series of changes

This morning I awoke to a noise resembling a cat meowing, I lay there in bed wondering if perhaps at some point last night before we closed the patio doors a neighbours cat had snuck in to the house and become trapped. This strange mewing went on for about 15 minutes, completely baffling me as I couldn't quite locate where the sound has come from until Skyla Minx got up and started pottering about the room, when it clicked - the mewing was our little dog passing wind on a frequent basis!  The Dave, for it was his turn to get up with the dogs this morning, got up laughing and on opening the doors onto the garden watched her shoot out and do her business, her bottom does however remain rather musical this morning.

After breakfast Loki decided to help us with the gardening by seeking out and removing what grass remains on the lawn amongst all the weeds. Our lawn is 75% weeds because we haven't got round to the weed-killing due to our worries about using chemicals on the lawns in case they affect the dogs.  This little scamp does make me laugh...
Taylor being the old boy he is just mooched about with eyebrow raised at the antics of the young 'uns before slouching off and lying on a blanket to snooze.  

Tomorrow Keisha leaves for her first week participating in the NCS ~ it takes her away for the next 4 weeks of which the first 2 weeks are residential.  We shall miss her but it sounds like a great opportunity ~ I have spoken to the head of her wave and he was lovely and promised me that there will be someone discreetly available for her within her team to support her should she have any episodes of panic or anxiety.

Tasha and Tara are still at the mercy of their ME crash at the moment, it makes life tough, especially during the summer when their friends are outside and socialising, going away on holidays and trips.  We have arranged to go back to our caravan in Filey twice during August and hope to be able to take them for a couple of picnics on the beach to get them out and away from their familiar 4 walls, hopefully the sun and sea air will work it's magic on them.

I had my registration papers arrive in the post on Saturday for my reflexology course which detailed how much time and commitment I would have to give to it.  Unfortunately, due to our current position at home and after a long chat with The Dave, we have decided that it would be for the best if I postpone doing this for perhaps the next 2 or 3 years.  I would hate to start something and pay the large course fee to then be unable to dedicate the necessary time and energy that it requires.  I also don't want to unsettle the girls routine which would be unavoidable if I went ahead as it would also mean an awful lot of juggling and compromise.  So we have decided that we are going to focus on building on the girls health, working with the CAMHS team, OT, Consultant and Osteopath with requests for further tests and dietician input too. We are going to trial a new OT protocol, once it has been researched a little more, which involves using a heart monitor whenever the girls carry out any activity to try and control their pacing.  We will also set Tara up with the Nisai over the next few weeks to start September, Tasha with her art therapy and Keisha a part~time job along with some ceramics and jewellery making courses. We feel is more than enough of a demand on my time ~ so in the meantime, whilst at home, I will also get my head down and work on finishing my book, which is something I am passionate about completing.


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Our first attempts at Agility Training

For those of you who follow my blog you will be familiar with our three dogs ~ for those who are finding me for the first time we have two Border Terriers; Taylor, dog aged four years, Skyla Minx, bitch aged three years and Loki, our Jack Russell/Pug Cross dog who is just one year old.  They are a very happy family unit ~ Taylor is the lethargic grumpy old boy who occasionally asserts his status as top dog when necessary to keep the others in check, Skyla Minx is the mother hen with a slight OCD tendency towards cleaning the ears of her two boys and Loki the mischievous loveable baby of the group who is always up to trouble.
Our dogs, I have to admit, aren't brilliantly trained ~ I hate to say it as he is my wonderful boy, but Taylor really isn't all that bright, mix that with stubborn and selectively deaf and you can understand why he was advised not to return to for further training after completing (and failing) his puppy training course. Skyla is brighter but not all that much more than Taylor, she is happy to blindly follow whatever you ask for her so long as there are treats involved and she is able to bark at everything for no good reason. Loki is a bright little thing, he manages to solve lifes little problems, such as how to unravel a complete toilet roll and wind it around the house like the Andrex puppies do in the adverts, how to bring in large sticks from outside when they are too wide to carry in through the door (puts down on ground, goes through door and drags it in lengthways!), he has mastered how to unzip cushions and pull out the insides and is a Houdini escapologist too.

I don't get to take our three puppies out for walks very often due to being a full time carer for my youngest two chronically ill daughters.  I have mastered the walking 3 dogs on one lead though and once they calm down from the excitement of going out they behave pretty well on it.  However, the vet has been impressed by how fit they are and the fact that the surplus weight that the older two were carrying has now been lost ~ I used to walk 5~7 miles a day with them but on the lead.  The conclusion we have made is that they get far more exercise at home by chasing about our garden together, than they did on their long walks on the lead.  We have fenced off the majority of our garden for them and they have several mad episodes a day where the 3 of them tear around the patio, garden, in and out of the borders, playing chase, drop and roll.  It is hilarious to watch and they come back in afterwards panting hard before flopping down and napping for hours until the next romp.  However, I wanted to try something fun with them in the garden and try and teach them some tricks ~ so I decided to buy a small agility training kit ~ cue the hilarity!
This is our mini course ~ the plant pots containing weeds hold the tunnel in place as it is so light weight it blows around the garden otherwise.  Our plan is to keep it set up for a few days so the dogs can get used to it and it doesn't frighten them.  We have a gate across our patio area, so when we take them one by one round it the other two can watch from there.  
The tunnel initially did frighten them and so I decided to crawl through it and show them what to do ~ and got a little stuck half way through, much to my daughters mirth, instead of helping as I was giggling whilst trying to wriggle out she just laughed and took this rather unflattering photo!

The dogs eventually went round the course and became familiar with each item.  Taylor did weave through the poles brilliantly, although very sedately, following the treat in my hand ~ Skyla and Loki just bounced around each other darting between the poles randomly searching for any dropped treats that may magically appear in the grass.  Both Skyla and Loki went through the tunnel ~ Skyla in particular seemed to quite like it and started running in and out of it on her own just for fun.  Taylor poked his head in and with much encouragement went through once (with the treat held just millimetres from  his nose to coax him through). After his maiden journey through it he decided to only watch the others from the sidelines as it wasn't for him right now.  The hoop we lowered right down onto the grass to encourage them to step through ~ Loki and Skyla did start to jump as we lifted it a little higher and Loki seemed to really enjoy this part of the course going backwards and forwards through it for treats.  Taylor poked his head through but wouldn't step in let alone jump, instead prefering to stand with it surrounding him like a picture frame, posing regally until a treat was given and he would move on.

We had great fun introducing the dogs to their new playground and I hope once we get the hang of it to buy more elements to make it more complex.  But for now we have more than enough to do ~ our first mission will be to get each dog to complete the full course, which will be a challenge considering their stubbornness.

It is great exercise and fun for us all ~ although the excitement of their exertions left them all absolutely shattered by the end.  Taylor usually likes to lie on the windowsill like a cat, but was too tired to get on properly and so flopped half on half off for his snooze.
I look forward to seeing how this develops and with a little luck I can overcome their stubbornness and manage to train these characters to have some semblance of obedience.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Calamities of Ageing

This morning I had to hunt around for my glasses when I finally had to admit to myself that I had to wear the damn things or put up with not being able to see with any clarity.

This revelation was brought to me by the attempt at reading the washing machine cleaning fluid instructions ~ or should I say struggling to make any words out of the black blurred fuzz that was before my eyes. Once found and perched upon my nose it was really quite astounding at how the fuzz transformed into words - ones that I could read ~ although still not quite as clearly as I would like, I could still decipher their meaning.  Why were they not "working" as they should are you wondering ~ I am currently awaiting my new glasses as my eye test a week ago has proven further deterioration of my sight and I now need to wear glasses for everything it would seem other than walking!  Having the opportunity to purchase new glasses allowed me to select a fabulous pair of purple frames which typically for me are out of stock and so should be with me in approximately a fortnight (I shall share with you a picture of their gloriousness when they arrive), so until then I am making do with my old weaker prescription glasses.

Anyhoo, I had also made the decision to grow out my hair and go for something softer, more genteel and feminine, going for the just below shoulder length look.  Again, for me, this is not a good look ~ the growing out thing ~ it seems that only my fringe is growing at any speed and so I have been left with hair over my nose at the front and the only solution is to push it back with a Alice Band, not worn since my primary school days!  To say that I feel slightly odd and vulnerable now is an understatement, I am so used to hiding behind my long fringe that it feels quite odd to no longer have that security.  

I am a forty~five year old woman with scraped back Alice Band hair and glasses, not a look I had foreseen going for and gives me quite a shock whenever I catch a glance of myself in any reflective surface. I feel I have a look reminiscent of that of the vintage cartoon Dangermouse and the character Penfold ~ what do you think?
So today I am going to go out and purchase some brighter purple hair dye as the one I currently use is rather dark and subtle.  It won't make me look much different but being a huge lover of the purple I will catch glimpses of it and it will make me smile.  Furthermore, when my purple glasses arrive I shall feel even more confident within myself ~ as that is the power of the purple!

I adore this poem by Jenny Jospeh called Warning, if you click on the photograph below it will take you to the youtube video where you can hear the lady herself read it for you (I couldn't work out how to get the link to work to put it into my blog for you).

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

The calamities of ageing are now upon me, so rather than shirk from them I have decided to embrace them ~ my purple wearing days are just beginning although I may not go all out and learn to spit I will certainly endeavour to work through some of the misdemeanour's in this poem with relish.