onwards and upwards and the worldly winds

today has been a good day.  My hubby has his job in our lovely place, the job that was put on hold while he saw the doctors, now it is all confirmed and a start date in place.  The decision is done.

No more shall we, shan’t we?, no more what if or maybe?.  It is done, we are leaving our home town for pastures new, and it feels ok.  The rock of indecision has left my shoulders, I am able to move forwards.

This past six weeks has been a roller coaster of emotion, at times I felt I was at the bottom of a very dark pit, suffocating and unable to see the light.  It was then that a beam shone from so many friends and family, a brightness in the darkness enabling me to look up and not down.

A few really helpful things were said to me.  One person talked of the Worldly Wind, of how sometimes we are caught up unexpectedly in a hurricane, a tornado, when everything is upside down and nothing looks right.  They said that at these times we have to allow ourselves to be carried on the wind, fighting is futile and leads to chaos.  Lying back on the current, waiting for the drop is difficult, the spirit wants to fight, to restore order, and yet time must pass.  All winds eventually change direction, all tornadoes burn out to a breeze. It is then, my friend says, in the calm after the storm, that you can stand up straight, dust yourself down and work out what this new land has to offer you.

So, today, we are in our Welsh paradise, we have begun the process of dusting ourselves down and looking around us with new eyes.  A new job will bring new people to meet, new experiences and the chance to learn new skills. For this Hubby is excited.  I am already working out how to balance the old and the new, a plan is forming, and I am beginning to believe that all will be well.

This is a new adventure, a chance to live a different sort of a life, where our priorities will shift and in time things will settle down.  I have had these adventures before.  I once moved to a town where I knew no one, on my own, with a partner absent working in London town, my four children and I quietly got on with the business of living.  I did it then and I can do it now.  Only this time I shall keep the links to our home town, to those we love, the ladder of our shared experiences will reach between the old and the new.

As we head home tonight to begin the process of packing and sorting, I am grateful.  Grateful for the love of friends and family, grateful for having options and for being able to make choices.  There is much to do, but I know now I can do it, the next stage has begun, the winds have dropped it is time to settle.


on distance and perspective

today I woke up in wonderful Wales,  the sun shining brightly through the windows and all was looking well in the world.

Hubby and I had our breakfast and listened to the Archers Omnibus, something we seldom do together, but a habit of so many years, indeed without this Radio 4 classic, we may not ever have met, all is well.

Later, having eaten our lunch in the sunshine of our garden, we join our neighbours for a couple of drinks in the warmth of summer.  It is here, telling them the troubles of the last couple of weeks, that I begin to get some perspective on our situation.

I am thinking that is certainly isn’t a bad thing to live somewhere you love.  It isn’t a bad thing to make your home somewhere near to the sea, and where you have friends and neighbours.  All together this feels ok to me.

Hubby will tell you it is the gin talking, and he might have a point, but, for me being somewhere you love with friends close by is not a bad situation.

Perhaps enough tears have fallen, the worry wasted, and it means that we are making the right choices.  Maybe for the next few months, this field in the Welsh hills will give us sanctuary, a bolt hole from the bad things, a place to be happy, every day. I am hopeful it will be so.

Tomorrow hubby will go to see about a job, the very job offered and withdrawn, this time with evidence of his health, and then maybe the next stage in this wonderful adventure will begin.

I hope that our friends will come and visit, I hope that it will work out but at the end of the day we are together, and  when we said, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health, it seems we both meant what we said.


on ups and downs and big girls pants

so, last time I wrote the problems were solving themselves, hubby was back at work and we had the prospect of a little house to live in.  So far, so good.  As quickly as things were going right, it all fell apart again.  It seems our references didn’t pan out.  My zero hours contract means we are not a good enough bet for the landlord so the house is gone as quickly as it was found.

Time to ask for help.  Online I am looking at social housing, filling in an enormous form, twice, actually because in my fragile state I forget to save it, and yet I don’t give in.  Then up to the town hall to give our documents in, to prove we are who we say we are, that we exist.  I leave with tears threatening to fall, in the street, crying is not an option.  Once home I lose it completely, the feelings of failure, of being ridiculous, thinking I shall never feel secure again.

At this point I truly lost the plot.  Sadness overwhelmed me, a sense of injustice, of guilt, had my decision making in the past led us here.  There is a case for that to be sure.  I needed to be reminded that I have always done what I thought was right at the time. If history shows I was wrong, well there is not much I can do about it.

So, that was me, yesterday, feeling about as rubbish as is possible.  Then along come my family and my friends, those that know me best.  Talking sense, and making me see that all is not lost.  I start to remember the things I am thankful for, start to see that moving to somewhere I love is actually not the end of the world.

Once again I find my big girl pants.  You know the ones I mean, when you take charge and remember just what you can do.  My back is straighter and my head clearer.  Last night, the first in weeks, I sleep right though and wake up feeling positive  This is an adventure.  We do adventures well.

I am a firm believer in the universe delivering what we need, even if sometimes we don’t understand the whys or wheres of it.  Only good can come of this, because we shall make it so.

Big love to those who helped so much yesterday, they know who they are.  I am still humbled by the amount of support and love flooding into my in box on a daily basis.

I am sure there will be more wobbles along the way.  The consultant appointment for hubby arrived yesterday, seeing it written makes it real.  I have no doubt they can and will sort him out.  The future is before us, and we shall make the best of every day.


on things can actually only get better

oh my goodness.  I have been writing blogs for some time now and yet have never, ever had the response I had for my last post.  An outpouring of love, help and support from all over the country, thank you everyone. In this really tricky time the warmth of friendship and the kindness of  friends and of strangers has been amazing.

A couple of days further along this journey and things are thankfully looking up   Having made the decision to give up searching in our home town for a house to live in, we went along to an last appointment for a viewing, made last week, it would be rude to cancel.  This time it is cottage, on the end of a row, a bright sunny spot and a sweet little front and back garden.  To our surprise this felt good, somewhere we could perhaps lay our hat for a while until all the medical mayhem is done.

An hour or two later and the application is in.  We are hoping that our limited earnings at the minute won’t be a problem, we have our fingers firmly crossed. It is a sunny day, the warmth of the rays healing on my skin, and gradually my spirit is settling.  I am daring to hope that things might be getting better at last.

Then the doctor phones to speak to hubby.  It seems they, our GP team, have, as they promised, met and between then, having reviewed all his history and current tests, they decide that hubby can go back to his job.  Providing he remains symptom less he is good to go, until we get to see the specialist.

I feel as if a huge weight is no longer hanging around my body.  In some ways I feel a bit giddy.  Can this be so?  After weeks of anxiety and fear, a house and his job are potentially sorted in an afternoon.

It isn’t done yet.  I still have to find the energy to pack up this house, to work out what we need and what we can do without.  We are awaiting the application process for our new home, references are being taken up and we are being assessed.  I hope we will pass.

Friends are hugging us, glad for us, strangers are still messaging me, offering support, I feel wrapped up in a universe of love.  One friend said that we have an army of supporters behind us, and she is right.  I had never dreamt that we could be this lucky.

We are moving on, having no control over what happens to us, but we have control of how we chose to deal with things.  I am choosing to deal with everything with hope, and love and if nothing else comes of this horrid experience I have learned that there is power in friendship, that the world is a good place with mostly wonderful people. Thank you everyone, you will never know how much this means.



on when life knocks you sideways

to be honest I feel ridiculous just now. Despite being reasonably intelligent and hard working I find myself on the brink of homelessness and poverty, all within a month.

It started in June when our private landlord, previously a good egg, informs me that he is splitting up from his wife.  I nodded sympathetically, until the penny dropped.  There would be implications for our house.  Basically he wants it back.

Now I know that bricks and mortar alone do not make a home.  I have moved enough times to understand that happiness is portable.  But, this time, this hurts.  It hurts because this house is in exactly the right location, here my darling granddaughter can walk up the road holding Mummy or Daddy’s hand to visit, it is a delight to watch her approach from our kitchen window,  I have had visions of one day, her coming under her own steam, calling in on the way home from school, to chat the day away.  I could see a future here.  Now that is not to be.

It hurts because initially we never intended to stay, our thinking was to rent until we find somewhere to buy was the way.  It was at least until our landlord, yes the same one who wants his house back, told us he wanted long term tenants, people to stay for many years.  We laughed, how we laughed, as I said this felt like it could be our forever home.  He was happy to have good tenants. We improved the house, as we always do, we made it our home.  We have decorated and in the three plus years this has been home we have made it better in every way.  There are tins of unopened paint waiting for the kitchen walls, that was to be my next job.

So, more fool us.  We gave up the idea of buying and bought a caravan in Wales near the sea, mostly because I felt vulnerable, that we needed somewhere that was ours, and all was well.  We have settled in this, our rented, forever home.  We love our neighbours, the view of the hills from the bedroom window, the big skies over the field in front. We love having our friends and neighbours who have become friends close by.  My daughter is content, this is the base she needs to return to while she makes new plans.  One of my sons has been sleeping here at times, things are tricky for him, it is good he can come to us when he needs to.  Except now he can’t anymore.

Nothing lasts forever.  I am old enough to understand this, but this time I am tired.  Too tired to pack up all our possessions and move.  Too tired to think about where we shall live, what is available, where can we go.  It makes sense to move to our caravan.  It feels good to know there is somewhere safe for us.  Somewhere no one can take from us on a whim.  The fact we will be 60 miles from friends, family and work is a worry, but we are practical people.  We can do this.  We shall relocate until we find somewhere secure in our home town.

We are lucky in that we have skills. My job is part time and I can commute, we have great friends offering me keys to their home as a bolt hole once a week, this will work.  Hubby can work anywhere and within weeks has secured a new job close to our caravan.  Amazingly the pay is better, the conditions are better, he is excited and so am I.  Ok, this is not of our choosing, and I am still tearful to be leaving, but we shall make the best of this.

So, one job is gone, hubby is on route to his new job, all is well. Then fate gets us again.  A medical for the new job goes wrong.  It seems my handsome fit as a flea hubby is not as healthy as we thought. In a heartbeat the new job is gone.  As is the old job.  Doctors confirmed it and hospital appointments await.  So now, we are about to be homeless and he is jobless.  As our main breadwinner this is a real issue for us.  My job won’t stand scrutiny for a new rental,  our caravan is too far away from the doctor and hospital.  For once in my life I do not have a clue what to do next.

I mostly cry.  I cry in the doctors, I cry at my friends house, I cry in the car and I cry myself to sleep. This is not my style, as a child I was taught that self pity is a luxury, but I don’t know what else to do.

Hubby is quiet, he is always quiet, and stoic and yet inside he is also crying.  How did it come to this?  From happy in our lives, our jobs and our home to the brink of losing everything.  In just five weeks.

People are kind, those that we have told are offering support, practical and emotional, but it is no good.  There is another job, hubby can do, part time, things could be worse, but I am lost.  Lost for words and lost for actions.  Despite it all, the biggest worry is hubby and his health.  I want him well.   Finding out we have to wait for almost eight weeks to see a specialist is another blow, time to worry and wonder, time when life is on hold.

I have weathered many storms, but this one, I don’t know.  I think I have been just too tired, too sad and feel cut adrift in a way I have never felt before.  I have no answers.   A decision needs making and I am fairly sure we know what we shall do.  We will be glad that we have our lovely place, somewhere we can be ourselves and spend some time while we wait for the universe to decide what will be.  In the scheme of things this is ok.  We are still the luckiest people on the planet for we have friends and family who love us, we have a plan and we will be alright.  We have to be.

to run or not to run????

regular readers will remember last summers Million Mile Challenge, where I went from sitting down all day eating cake to walking 500 miles in nine weeks.  Well, since then I have been busy, I am still walking everyday, and I have managed to get other people to walk too.  So far so good.

Now a new opportunity has arisen for me to get involved with an amazing event where people will be inspired to change their health through exercise and movement. It looks wonderful, music, fun and famous people, what is not to like? The catch is that on the day there is the opportunity to run.

Now walking is one thing, I have got that now, I can put one foot in front of another at a fair to middling pace and get myself up hills, down dales, walking is easy.  Running is a whole new ball game.

Many years ago, before motherhood, before fibromyalgia, before gaining weight, I did run.  It was called jogging back in the day, we had trainers and leg warmers and everything.   I was rubbish at it.  I never got very far before breathless and bored I would stop, heart pumping and sweat forming.  I came to the conclusion I am a not runner in 1985. since then nothing has happened to change my mind.

The sixty year old version of me, the one I am currently using, has flaws.  A painful knee that often seizes up, a funny lower back that can let me down and give me pain.  A default position of laziness and a need to always do the head shift thing to even contemplate moving swiftly,  not to mention little legs, almost as wide as they are long, this body is not built for speed.

The big question is, to run or not to run?  There is no pressure on me, I can take part in the event, I can walk and I can have fun. I don’t need to run, but a big bit of me fancies having a go. I get frustrated when people run past me on my walks, their steps are building so quickly, especially when it is cold and damp, I would love to be able to run.

So this morning out for my daily walk I thought I would give it a go, what can I lose? I set my stop watch on my phone and I decide to run for as long as I can.  I am running, one foot in front of the other, quite quickly, it is fine, not difficult at all, I keep going for ages, feeling so proud.  I stop and check my stop watch, one minute thirty nine seconds!!!!  Really doesn’t time fly when you are having fun?  That was possibly the longest minute and a half of my life.  I get my breath back and walk for a bit, before running again, this time for just over a minute.  This running thing is easy!! Except it isn’t.  My knee is already complaining and my heart rate is rising, and breathing normally is very over rated I think as I pant and puff. I walk the rest of the way.

I am not giving up, I need a buddy, someone to run alongside me for a minute or two, someone who won’t mind me gasping for breath and clutching various parts of my body in agony.  Someone with a high embarrassment threshold and who is kind.  I am not sure I can do this by myself, although I probably can, I need to remember that this time last year I couldn’t walk at all and I have come a long way, literally a long way, since then.  It is going to be an interesting couple of months.

on being sixty, one week in

today I was relaxing at home in the afternoon, the cat sleeping on my lap I was paying little attention to the television in the corner,  Countdown, how I love word puzzles, was halfway through when I switched on.  Who can resist a conundrum?  So, there I am, as my lovely daughter pops into the living room.  ‘Oh mother, you sure are being sixty’ she laughed.

To be honest I was a bit shocked.  Yes, I guess I was fulfilling a certain stereotype this afternoon, but the first week of this decade has been full on.  Actually in the last eight or so days  I have done at lot of stuff.

I have spoken to a crowd of 200 plus footie fans and got a huge cheer, I have played board games late into the night with teenagers, I have danced at my own birthday party.  I have walked 51,000 steps, some up very steep hills in a forest, despite having two days on the couch due to feeling poorly.  I have been on a demo in my home town,  and walked the streets with hot chocolate and met loads of new young people, in one of my new jobs.

This past week I have also recorded a pretty cool interview for local radio, packed loads of donations ready for sending out to refugees, commissioned web designers for an amazing new fund raising project – so exciting can’t wait to tell all, watched The Lady Vanishes (such a good film), spoon fed our ridiculously old cat, and discovered Pink Dog gin.

So, being sixty, means I can in essence do what I fancy.  I can catnap with the family pet while pretending to solve anagrams, I can march in the street in solidarity with others.  I can shout loud when needed and I can pretty much be myself.

I guess what I am saying is that I am comfortable in my skin.  My daughter can laugh out loud, she wasn’t being unkind, because I know she is as proud of me as I am of her.   There is much to be said about growing older, sixty is not the new forty, but it is suiting me very well so far.

on another decade

yesterday on my birthday my age changed to one with a 0 at the end. The end of one decade and the beginnings of another.  In truth I am just one day older than the day before, but numbers matter.  They matter as they mark the passing of years and when we enter a new decade it perhaps matters more.

I remember other 0 birthdays, the first one I was very excited to be in ‘double figures’. 20 was spent in a alcoholic haze and by the time 30 came along I was busy with babies and no time to think about birthdays.  40 arrived and with it a plea from my little boys who decided to hold a ‘surprise’ party for Mum.  They had no money of their own, so they asked me to buy the food and help them decorate the room.  It was still a surprise though, it had to be, they told me it was.

50 was probably the most difficult.  A party, planned on a bus in Southern Spain, when good times seemed all around, was very different once January drew to a close.  The person I thought would be by my side was choosing another path, we were having a tricky time, when the future was very much in doubt.  The party went ahead, friends and family gathered and a good time was had by all.  I on the other hand was happy on the outside and sad on the inside.  I wish I had known that day how things were going to be.  In truth this decade was the turning point.  It was in these years I made choices based on the life I wanted to live, rather than accept the one I had fallen into.  It was the decade that saw all my children grown to adulthood and it was the decade I became a Nana.

So now at 60 it is fair to say that I am in better shape than for at least twenty years. Emotionally, physically well and healthier than almost ever before. I have a real sense of ‘self’.  It is as if I had to do the decades before, to arrive here, now, with peace and friendship and love all around.  A party was held, at the end of a week of celebration.  My, now adult, children organised everything.  From a surprise mini break and concert tickets midweek, to a fabulous get together in our local pub for family and friends on the day itself, I am truly blessed.

I looked around the room at the party guests and realised that these people, sitting, laughing, chatting and catching up, these are my tribe. Some I have known forever, others from more recent times. Together the people in that room have supported me, propped me up during bad times, they have laughed with me through the fun times. Each and every one of them has helped me to be the me I am right now.

Earlier last week I was told, for about the tenth time, that I don’t look 60 years old.  Well, I said, think again, for this is exactly what 60 looks like!  I have no idea what this decade will bring, surely that is part of the fun, but I have no intention of becoming old.  I have more life in me now that in most of the previous decades.

So, I say, bring it on.  This seventh decade begins in style, with love and friendship, with laughter and kindness.  The world may well be in a tricky place just now, but I am grateful for the life I am able to live and very thankful for my tribe.  I love them all dearly.

on dealing with this ‘new world order’

January 2017 and the last piece of the nightmare jigsaw that began back in summer 2016, has fallen into place.  Each time I have thought, ‘no, that won’t actually happen, surely not’ and yet each and every time happen it does.

So, did I go marching with the women yesterday?  I did not.  In my life I have been on more marches than most people, I have shouted ‘out! out! out!’ sang songs, with the miners, the ambulance service, the NHS, Greenpeace, Stop the War, and much more and each time I have relished in the shared community of protest.  I understand this stuff.

I no longer believe it means a thing.  Nothing, at all, save from giving those marching validation and a good feeling.  Then everyone goes home, back to work, to kids, to life and nothing changes.  That is how it seems to me.  My social media feed has been full of photos, hundreds and thousands of people on the streets, people taking pride in witty banners, in coming together, and I am thinking, is this all part of the plan?  It feels very safe, very middle class, very organised, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

I have no doubt many people walked away from the marches yesterday feeling good, they had their say, they stood up.  But did they?  Why has it taken a misogynistic millionaire to galvanise people.  Has there not been enough to be angry about?  Why are people more angry with comments against women than they are about sexually exploited children?.  Why has no one taken to the streets to protest about the missing lone children, who have fled from war and no one knows where they are now?  Why, why, why, is this march all over the media.  The TV news, the internet, radio news, all documenting the mass marching across the Western World.  The same media that has ignored dozens of protests when they don’t fit the narrative.  It is easy to march against one man, however, vile as he maybe, much, much worse is being done to the world than he will ever achieve.  So, why is this such news?  I am cynical, I don’t believe for a minute that the people with power care a jot who is in charge.  This is smoke and mirrors on a grand scale.

So, this time I am not going to march,  I am not going to give my precious time to realise once again that nothing changes.  Instead I am going to get on with looking for the good in the world, I shall spend my time with people who do, rather than talk about doing. Those that reach out and help, those who say what needs saying and those who are struggling. I will support and cheer on everyone who takes action that effects change.  I will encourage everyone I know to be kind to each other, I feel we are going to need a lot of that just now.

Meeting oppression with the power of love, looking the haters in the eye and just keep on keeping on.  Do you know if enough of us did this, we could change the world.