Life is what you make it ~ love that saying, but also it can be tricky when life gives you a dodgy hand to play with! It's fair to say my life has been a combination of wonderful, magical memories ~ a truly fabulous younger life. My primary school years will always be cherished and bring a smile to my lips, it was a different era, one where people were more trusting, forthcoming to help and there was no internet, computers, mobile phones etc. Perhaps I look back through rose tinted glasses but to me it was a magical time of scrumping from fields, climbing trees, making dens in the woods and playing Pooh sticks in the stream. We walked or biked everywhere and spent our days out with our friends burning off energy and getting up to mischief.
My secondary school years are more turbulent. I was sent away to boarding school, which I hated! I met some fabulous people there and it wasn't them I hated but being away from home, the loss of privacy and the rules and lack of freedom! I missed my home, my old friends and being able to just get up and go out when I wanted to. Mum was also diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma whilst I was there too. I rebelled and did poorly in my O'levels and it took me a full 5 years to get "asked to leave" and never return. So, I was back with my old primary school friends and stomping ground for the sixth form.
The next few years were happier, mum was in remission and I had my freedom again, although perhaps in hindsight I should have knuckled down a wee bit more as I came out with two unclassified certificates at A-levels ~ but then garnered more qualifications afterwards at night school.
Life moved on, I got a job locally and a car. Had a ball partying hard and working hard. Sadly my Nanna, who lived with us, passed away after a battle with cancer which left a huge gap as we were very close. She was a real card, as they say, a funny old fish who made me laugh, I still miss her.
|My Nanna, loved her to bits :)|
Then I became re-acquainted with The Dave (we have a long history, known each other since I was 4 years old), moved in together, got engaged (which The Dave's mum celebrated with us but sadly passed away before our big day) and then married. Our wedding was brilliant, we remembered The Dave's mum and know she would have approved even though it was not what we would have organised for ourselves, but as we weren't paying for it we let mum take over and do it her way. It was great for us, all we had to do was turn up for fittings and leave her to it ~ mum was in her element and thoroughly enjoyed herself. The day itself was magical, perfect in every way ~ mum had done us proud as had my sister who designed and made our bridesmaid dresses for us too. Seeing mum so happy made us happy in turn, it didn't matter one bit that it wasn't how we would have planned it because it turned out better then we ever could have dreamed whilst mum was surrounded by her friends enjoying the fruits of her labour and her dream wedding.
|Me with mum before leaving for the Church.|
Then came children, 3 daughters, although again life wasn't plain sailing as it decided to give us 5 miscarriages to deal with too (all boys). The girls are treasured but their early years were blighted by illness and many hospital visits. Mum and Dad were always there to help and support us as by then The Dave was working away to support us.
Eventually we moved to be with The Dave and once we had sadly mums cancer returned, so time was spent commuting backwards and forwards to see her and attend hospital appointments and chemo with her. The girls seemed to improve health wise and life seemed to be going well. Mum improved and life, for a while seemed great. Mum and Dad watched the girls for us so that we could go to America for The Dave's 40th ~ so off to Nashville we went, visiting so many great places including the Jack Daniels distillery and Gracelands. Then things started to go downhill again. Mums cancer returned and her health steadily deteriorated until December 2009 when it eventually took her from us. We don't know if that is what caused things to go pear shaped healthwise with the girls or not but the stress was very great for them and mums death left them very traumatised. as we all were.
|Mum Christmas 2008, the year before her death xx|
Then came ME and Daves heart attacks, we have battled many health issues since 2009 that have left is weary and bewildered. BUT it has also made us reassess our lives and decide on what is most important in life and what makes us happy.
If being happy means being a little selfish then do it ~ we spend so much time trying to appease and please others it can sometimes make you lose sight of our own happiness, we push aside what we would prefer to do to accommodate others. Whilst this is commendable and appropriate on some occasions, don't make a habit of doing it.
We are now focusing on ourselves, our daughters and how we approach life and it's trials. I am currently provisionally diagnosed with ME/CFS, I have to return to the GP in a few weeks time after a course of Vitamin D (as my levels were low) for referral to the ME Clinic. We have 2 out of 3 daughters battling ME too and all 5 of us have issues with our mental health (which our therapists have told us is not surprising considering what we have been through in recent years ~ which I won't share with you here, although I share a lot, some things have to remain private).
So, we do what makes us happy - we love tattoos ~ I surprised myself and my family by having my first one on my 41st birthday and have since had 3 more, all of which I LOVE.
|My first tattoo in memory of mum and the 5 babies I lost|
|My second tattoo, depicting family ~ the M for Mawer interwoven with a heart blended with infinity symbol|
|My third tattoo, designed and hand poked by my daughter who wants to be a tattoo artist, so practising on me :)|
|My latest tattoo, photo taken in tattoo studio as freshly inked ~ relating to our ongoing mental health issues #projectsemicolon|
I had my nose pierced too, which also makes me very happy, I have no explanation for why it does, it just does.
|Me with my nose piercing and a penguin face paint design (as you do)|
It depends on what side of the fence you are on ~ some folk may find my tattoos and piercings disgusting (as I know some of my family do). I'm okay with that though because I had them for me, they make me happy and I have reached that point in my life where I can confidently do what feels right for me. It just took me until I reached my 40's because I'm a bit slow like that!
It's the small things that make me happy and belly laugh. The company of my daughters who are incredibly witty and slightly off centre. The Dave who is not only my husband but also my best friend, he makes me laugh every day and understands my oddities, of which there are many. The dogs, our Hairy Trio, they give unconditional love and sense when you need them to come and cuddle you. Our family caravan in Filey, which is right on the beach which means I can sit and watch the sea to my hearts content. It's these things that keep me sane and moving forward. That's why the latest tattoo is so significant for me and relates not only to my own battles but to those of my family too.
|My wonderful crazy family, taken a couple of weeks ago at our seaside retreat|
|Taylor and Skyla our two Border Terriers|
|Loki, our cross breed - we think he is a mix of Jack Russell, Pug and Border Terrier, but not sure!|
So I leave you with this, be a little selfish, cherish yourself, laugh as much as you can, remove the negative people from your life and surround yourself by the ones who nourish you and understand your crazy. Embrace yourself, who you are, what you are and learn to love yourself without apology. If like us you are restricted by physical and mental health issues then do what you can within those boundaries, accept help from others and live in the moment, drink in all those unexpected pleasures, don't conform. You are unique, you are special, you are quite simply you.
Although I am not religious, I don't belong to any church, instead I class myself as spiritual I do embrace the motive behind this faith-based project and support it.
YOUR STORY ISN'T OVER YET
Project Semicolon (The Semicolon Project) is a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire.