Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.   (Dickens)

I'd forgotten how exhausting the first few days back into a new school term are.  Was planning on writing a bit on this blog every day, to keep the momentum going and to stay focussed, but after a difficult evening with my son (super-stressed and shriek-crazy after returning to school after a week off), ...it just didn't happen.  I'm tired again tonight, so words aren't flowing as I would wish.
I wanted to write about gratitude before I start outlining the dreams that have been swirling around my head for as long as I can remember.
So often we complain about our lot, whether out loud or subconsciously in the thoughts we have, when honestly, if we stop and take a moment, there are so many blessings to be found in our lives.  Everyone is always grateful for presents they receive, an act of kindess or as a response to being served in a restaurant or a shop for example, but it is so easy to take for granted those every day blessings tied up in the mundane.
After Andrew left I nearly drove myself insane re-living our whole relationship in my head, going over every conversation, re-reading every text, searching for answers to endless questions.  Immersed in shock and pain and constantly analysing, I knew I had to stop before my life totally fell apart.  Among the hundreds of books I was reading to distract myself, was one by Eckhart Tolle entitled 'The Power of Now' all about living life in the present moment and the happiness that brings.  It provided solutions for dragging your thoughts back into the here and now when they spiral out of control into negativity.  It worked wonders for me.  Everytime I started analysing and re-playing conversations, I would speak out loud about what I was doing at that moment...'I'm just putting toothpaste on my toothbrush and now I am going to brush my teeth'....I'm driving along, changing into third gear now, I can feel the chill of the steering wheel in my hands, the sky is blue, oh look, there's a bird, hello bird, how are you today'.....etc...  You feel like a complete dork, but it honestly works.  At first I could only manage a couple of minutes before the questioning would start up again, but with perseverance, I soon managed to drown out the majority of the negative thoughts with positive out-loud chatter.  I started to feel much better.
Soon after that I began reading 'The Magic' by Rhonda Byrne.  Already a fan of 'The Secret' and 'The Power' by the same author, ( about manifesting the life you desire by changing your thoughts), I devoured 'The Magic', which is all about gratitude, and I can honestly say it changed my life.  The book encourages the reader to start each day by writing down ten things to be thankful for, and ending each day by recognising all the good that happened in that day, and then finding the best thing out of all the goods.
I couldn't really find the time to write such a list every day, but I made a conscious effort to mentally say thank you for ten things every morning....thank you for my alarm going off so I am not late for work...thank you for the joy of hot water to have a shower...thank you for central heating so my house is cosy...thank you for my health...thank you for my beautiful children...and so on.  It was an extension of dragging my mind chatter into the here and now, and I started to practice it every time I began to descend into negativity.  It worked wonders.  Soon I was applying it to everything I could think of and turning negatives into positives...thank you for the blue sky and the birds....thank you for my job, I am so grateful to have one when so many are unemployed...thank you for the money to feed us all every week (instead of ' why does the grocery shop cost so much?')...thank you for taking my man away from me because if that hadn't have happened, I wouldn't have been able to spend 3 undivided years with my children and have the bond that we now have....thank you for the gas bill because without it we wouldn't have warmth and hot dinners...and so on, you get the idea.
Very very soon, I started to feel real happiness creeping over me.  I actually started to feel real joy for everything in my life.  I've slipped a bit now on the constant deliberate finding gratitude, but I still start each morning with a big thank you for a new day, hot water, legs that work etc etc, and I always always end each day with a big thank you for all that is good in my life.  It honestly has changed my whole outlook.
So, before I start concentrating on the dream life I want to manifest, I want to express my gratitude for everything I have already.  For my beautiful, healthy children who bring me untold joy, for my own healthy body which stays healthy despite the rubbish I feed it, for the money I have that enables us to live in a warm house and buy enough food, for the car that transports us safely every day, for my precious friends, for the job I have that allows me to be there for my children, for my two cats who never fail to shower me with love, even when I get annoyed and push them away, for the gift of an intelligent and enquiring mind, for the drive and desire to improve myself and make the world a better place.
I am truly grateful.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Planning to fly

All our dreams can come true - if we have the courage to pursue them.     (Walt Disney)

I'm posting a lot this weekend, and writing screeds.  It comes from having thought a lot about this for several weeks and then having a week off work and now a childfree weekend.  I am meant to be cleaning the house after a week of neglecting it, but hey.  I wanted to get to a starting point from which to begin - to recognise what holds me back and to identify my dreams.  From there, I can take baby steps, day by day, always focussing, always holding my vision clear.


Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.   (Goethe)

I want to put some photos in and add some stuff down the sides of this blog aswell.  How difficult can that be to figure out?  Hmm.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.     (Henry Thoreau)

A well-used quote but how many of us actually pursue our dreams confidently?  How often do we get swept away in the tide of life for years and years until we lose sight of all that we wanted to be?  How many of us have a real, definite idea of what we want, and a real, definite plan of how to achieve it?  How many of us are just settling, conforming to a mainstream life of uninspiring jobs, hectic schedules, once a year (maybe) holidays, shoddy diets, sporadic exercise, snatched moments of quality family time.....tired, stressed, burnt-out, disillusioned, passionless, trying to fit into normal, societal expectations.

I don't want to be normal.

I've never really fitted in anywhere to be honest, never had that sense of belonging, always felt like an outsider looking in.  It stems from those early days I guess - of being from a single parent family when it wasn't really that common...of wearing last year's shabby hand -me- downs when everyone in my class had the latest fashions and seemingly endless money to spend on clothes, make-up and perfume...of not really having that safe place at home where it was ok to make mistakes, to try things out, find my niche.  I was just always a little bit weird, a little non-conformist, a risk-taker, a big dreamer.

Well, I am a little bit weird, and I'm ok with that.  I'm not bothered about fitting in any more.  What matters to me are the people who have stood by me for years, through thick and thin, and giving my children a solid, loving foundation upon which to build their own dreams.  I've had so much loss and been crushed to pieces by people who have expected me to conform to their ideals.   I'm taking a year to re-discover the person that I am inside, weirdness and all, and pursue my dreams.  I'm ready to fly.

My starting place

Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality.  If you can dream it, you can make it so.   (Belva Davies)

My starting place.  The platform on which I am standing from where I plan to learn to fly.  It feels a little wobbly and not at all like a very safe place to begin.  But begin I am going to.
After Andrew left I fell to pieces.  I carried on being a mum and going to work, as you do, but inside I was a mess.  I cried for months and months.  It felt like a bereavement.  This man, the one I had been searching for my whole life, the one who day by day talked about the things we would do, the places we would go, the house we would share, his vision of us growing old together, the one who promised he would never let me fall.  Gone.  Without a backwards glance.  No warning, just gone.  A text the next day saying he would leave a parcel of my things outside my door.  An email, a couple of perfunctory texts hoping I was ok, a delivery of a couple of books which he hoped would explain his dream (The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull).  It was a massive shock.  My weight plummeted, I got meningitis, I started having panic attacks.  It was as much as I could do to haul myself out of bed every day. 
Three years on and I'm in a much better place.  I recovered the weight slowly and not terribly healthily (more about my diet soon!) The panic gradually stopped, I read a million books, accepted that he needed to go and find his truth, and found peace with being alone.  What I still don't understand is how love can just be switched off and that person cast aside overnight, as if their presence never had any meaning at all.  My grandad did it to me twice, his own granddaughter, years and years of love just tossed away each time my choice of direction didn't please him.  And then Andrew.  It scares me so much and I wonder how I will ever trust love again or indeed, if I will ever find a man strong enough to deal with my fear of waking up in the morning and finding everything is meaningless.  Anyway, that doesn't concern me right now.

What else is on my starting platform with me?

My family.  All gone now.  Auntie died of cancer when I was 13.  My mum died of cancer when I was 27.  My grandad died 5 years ago of various illnesses and old age.  My stepdad remarried a year after mum died and skipped off up north with his new family without telling me (after 13 years being my dad).  My mum's brother stopped talking to me (after 28 years of being a really close uncle) when my daughter was born, apparently because he sent me a card and I never rang to say thank you. 

I'm starting to see now why I have a paranoic fear of love disappearing overnight and my presence meaning nothing in people's lives!

What's left is...

My two beautiful children.  A daughter aged 16 called Tamsin.  A beautiful, smart, sassy and confident redhead, so comfortable in her own skin it never ceases to amaze me, this jibbering heap of insecurities that I am!  A son aged 13 called Milo.  A crazy ball of energy, spontaneous, impatient and very loving.  He has Tourettes Syndrome*

* A note about Tourettes Syndrome.  The documentaries on TV about Tourettes are hilarious.  Great entertainment.  Living with it is not.  Only 10% of sufferers have coprolalia and copropraxia (obscene words and gestures), and most documentaries don't make you aware of the host of other symptoms that don't make such great viewing.
My son has had Tourettes since he was 6 years old.  It started fairly mildly with a few minor tics and some funny noises and gradually worsened until, currently, his symptoms are relentless.  He manages to suppress the worst of his tics at school, but the minute he gets in the car to come home he blows like a pressure cooker.  He shrieks at such a pitch and with such an intensity it pierces your eardrums and shatters every nerve in your body.  This he can do 50 times a minute and it doesn't stop until he falls asleep, exhausted, late into the night.  All this accompanied by muscular tics which leave his little body convulsing and rigid, and various other loud noises.
He also has frequent fits of rage, part of the syndrome, where he will explode over the slightest thing, lashing out, generally at his sister, followed by periods of remorse and self-loathing.  His self-esteem is non-existent, and he needs constant attention and reassurance to feel accepted.  He knows the impact this has on his family and that upsets him greatly.
Normal family life is very difficult.  Watching television is an ordeal, as is trying to have a conversation.  He will provoke his sister as soon as I leave the room, and most of my time is spent mediating and trying to prevent an explosion of anger.  It is heartbreaking to lay in bed at night listening to him, wanting to scoop him up and make it all better, but knowing my presence will make him even more stressed and worsen the symptoms.   It is draining and exhausting for a parent and even more so for a sibling.  Thanks to Emma from www.tourettes-action.org.uk for her words of advice and comfort in the kitchen at a support meeting.

My friends.  A handful of seven precious people.  Sharon.  My best friend for over 35 years.  We met when my mum moved us down here and were inseparable for years until my quest for love and affection sent me into the arms of boys, and our lives took us in different directions.  We could be so mean to each other when we argued, but oh...the belly laughs we had that still make me laugh out loud now.  We drifted apart for a while but kept in touch always.  I've never told her how much she means to me and how much I treasure our friendship.  She was and is, the most amazing friend anyone could have and she put up with me throughout my selfish, self-absorbed years.  How much I wish we lived nearer to each other.  I love that girl. 
My other friends, Brenda, Anna, Helen, Cliff, Kevin, Yung...met over the years through work and college and clubs.  Treasures of kindness and support who have seen me through my darkest hours.  Love them all.

Two cats.  Romeo, a black and white lazy ball of fluff.  He reminds me of Dylan out of The Magic Roundabout, a laid-back hippie cat.  He's vacant, chilled, paranoid and a complete numpty.  Poppy, his sister, sleek, black, the brains of the duo.  She is an 'in-your-face' cat, demanding and needy.  She became a little bit deranged after we sold all her kittens in the space of 2 days, which is fair enough.  I guess I would be a little bit deranged too if somebody sold my babies!

A job as a teaching assistant which fits round bringing up the children perfectly, but leaves a lot to be desired both financially and in terms of fulfillment.

My home.  A rented house which is cheap and modern and spacious and in a perfect location for college, school and my job.  It is owned by a flakey lady who gets caught shoplifting and never pays her bills, so the bailiffs are frequently knocking on my door trying to take my furniture (which is mine and not hers!)  It freaks me out and keeps me awake at night and I never answer the telephone, but I'm not financially in a position to move right now.

An overdraft and a credit card debt, a car loan, a bank loan and a bit of government support to top up my ridiculously low wage.  I hate not being in control of my own money.  I am so grateful to the government, of course, but they do crazy things.  Like tell you you have been underpaid for a year, spend a year giving you more money, then tell you they have overpaid you and want it all back.  Like immediately.  Despite the fact that nothing in my life changed.  And treat you like something the cat dragged in when you ring and ask for a payment plan.  Out of my control.  I hate the stigma.  I hate being in debt.  Those words from my grandad and the other ghost keep haunting me..sponger...parasite...liability.  I feel intense discomfort receiving gifts, having somebody pay for me, even being invited to a friend's for dinner, because right now I haven't the money to reciprocate, and those words....always present. 


Saturday, 23 February 2013

More ghosts

My last post was really long, so I apologise to anyone who reads it.  It feels good to spill the stuff that has haunted me for years, and to recognise that the overwhelming fear I have of only being lovable and loved when I am being what people want me to be, still affects every part of my life.  It is, by far, the biggest barrier to me becoming all that I want to become, and I can't tell you how much I want to be free of that.

I don't really understand why my mum was so cruel to me.  Things improved when I left home at 17 and travelled for a few years.  She told me that the day I left, she sat on my bed and cried for hours.  That breaks my heart.  If I'd known she felt like that about me, I probably would never have gone away.  We were never really that close even after that until she got sick - to be honest, I think I shut her out a lot, too scared to hope that we could be like a proper mother and daughter and too hurt by her cruelty when I was younger.  I understand that her childhood was sad and she probably didn't know how to love, but when my first baby was born, all I ever wanted to do was show her how loved and wanted she was.  I have never, ever felt the need to repeat family history.  I'm appalled by it.  I get that life was a struggle for her, as a single mum now myself, I really get how hard it is, but I will never understand how any parent can hurt their child, however many demons they may be secretly fighting.

I have forgiven her, of course, but I feel robbed of that unconditional love that every child deserves. 

My second ghost I need to lay to rest.  A few years ago I got into a relationship with a man which was wrong on every level.  I won't go into detail, there's just too much wrongness to even bother.  I stuck it out for over a year, believing that I could make it work, but one night when I questioned our future, he said 'you have 2 kids and no money, where can this relationship honestly go?  You are a liability'.

I can't begin to describe how worthless his words made me feel.  How worthless his words still make me feel on a daily basis.  I ended the relationship after that.  Of course.

Shortly afterwards I met the love of my life.  A man who felt like home before we'd even started dating.  My true soulmate who spent a year and a half telling me I was his soulmate, taking great care on a daily basis to show me that I was special and loved and safe and I never need worry again.  We had our whole future planned.  I started to feel a tiny bit secure, that I actually was worth loving.  One night he told me that he needed to travel the world and he couldn't wait.  Ten minutes later he walked out of my life and I never saw him again.  He sent me a long email a week later to say that to travel the world had always been his dream.  He promised me I was the love of his life, his true soulmate and that one day he would come back for me.

That was 3 years ago.

So.  My three ghosts.  Ghosts that have left me feeling pretty awful about myself.  It has taken me 3 years of intense soul searching to realise that security and worthiness are an inside job, and only I have the key.  It feels quite terrifying and I'm not quite sure where to start, but I'm determined to.

A Messy Head

My head is all over the place, a jumble of thoughts and emotions wanting to spill out of me so I can let them all go and find a place of calm.  I've been thinking about writing this blog for a few weeks now, about becoming so frustrated with my life and its restrictions, and the restrictions I impose upon myself, that the desire to find a way to fly free is overwhelming.  What started as a whisper is gathering momentum and turning into a shout so loud I can't think about anything else.  I found this quote yesterday:-

Nobody wants to change until the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.       Nido Qubein
This feels so true right now.  Don't get me wrong, my life isn't bad at all, and I am truly grateful for the abundance of good in it.  It's just that so much of it isn't me.  It doesn't reflect who I really am.  I am carrying around so many ghosts that I want to lay to rest and so many fears that I want to walk through.  I can't remember the last time I laughed a deep belly laugh or bubbled over with excitement, or did something wildly spontaneous, or talked nineteen to the dozen because there was just so much to say, without a cloud of worry and fear.  I feel heavy, like my spirit is crushed, like I am wading through rivers of treacle just trying to hang on and keep everything together.  And I don't want to feel like that anymore. 

And so the ghosts.  The ghosts of my childhood which have haunted me throughout my adult life.  I'd like to think I am fairly intelligent, and heaven knows I have read so many books and spent so many hours trying to figure it all out.  I know all about living in the 'now' and not dwelling on the past and not giving energy to thought patterns that I don't want to keep showing up in my life.  The truth is, a bad childhood scars deeply and it isn't always as simple as it seems to let it all go, however much of the theory is amassed.

I grew up an only child, the result of my mum's affair with a married man, and my mum came from a long history of family abuse (physical, not sexual).  She and her brother were beaten, their dad and his siblings were beaten, and I believe even the generation before that were beaten.  I never knew my dad but I know he was the love of my mum's life.  From the little information I know about him, he was a successful business man, tied to his wife financially and unable to commit fully to my mum.  She waited ten years for him, then moved us away.  She married my stepdad when I was 14, but I know she never really got over her one true love.

Mum wasn't an affectionate person.  She carried a lot of bitterness from her childhood (the abuse, and her own mother had walked out when she was just 7) and having a baby out of wedlock in the 60's was frowned upon.  She never really talked much about it, but she said she was disowned for a while by my grandad and his sister (who had moved in years before to bring up the children).  The struggle to bring me up on her own turned her into a hard, cold woman and she could be quite cruel to me.  I was often beaten.  I don't really remember any affection from her at all except after she had beaten me.  I try and I try, but I just can't remember ever feeling loved or safe or wanted.  The overwhelming memory I have of my early years is always feeling like I was a burden, a nuisance, of my mum being tangibly annoyed by me being around in school holidays or being off sick.  I tried really hard to be everything I thought she wanted me to be, but I just never seemed to get there.  As soon as I could, I turned to boys, seeking the love and affection that I so craved throughout my childhood.

My grandad and auntie though, I adored.  I don't know when they patched things up with my mum, but I always remember happy times with them.  I used to sit on my grandad's lap and he would tickle me and I would play with the wrinkly skin on his hands.  I loved seeing them.  My aunt was very victorian, very prim and proper and quite disapproving of young children, but I always felt loved by her.  Until one day that all changed.  I chose to travel instead of going to university as was expected of me.  Overnight my aunt stopped talking to me and my grandad wrote me a letter telling me I was a sponger and a parasite, despite the fact that I had three jobs whilst I saved for my airfare, and I worked pretty much the whole time I was travelling.  Their reaction shattered me.  It seemed to me that I was only loved and accepted by my family when I was saying or doing the right things.  Every time I tried to express myself as the real me, I was rejected.  It hurt and the insecurity amplified within me.

I eventually stopped travelling and got a 'proper job'.  Grandad and auntie mellowed.  I went through a ton of relationships, always moving on, searching, still trying to find security.  I met the man who would become my husband, and three months into our relationship my mum was diagnosed with cancer.  We married eight weeks before she died and I remember being crouched down on the floor in my wedding dress, sobbing, because in my heart, I knew the man I was about to marry wasn't 'the one'.

Mum died when I was 27.  We became really close in the eight months I nursed her.  We didn't talk about anything deep and meaningful, but for the first time ever we did mother/daughter things - as much as we could while she was hospitalised.   I painted her nails, we did jigsaws, we laughed and chatted about superficial stuff.  It was a terrible terrible time, infused with moments of pure beauty and I thank god for those eight months when I truly felt my mum loved me.

I stayed in my marriage for 8 years and had 2 beautiful children.  It wasn't bad by any means, but there was no connection, no passion, we were more like brother and sister.  That's another story.  When I eventually found the strength and courage to leave, my grandad once again disowned me.  He wanted a relationship with my husband and children, but not me.  This time it not only hurt, it devastated me.  In my mind, here was proof again that I was only loved when I was saying and doing the right thing.  All the insecurities inside me came flooding to the surface.  For 5 years I wrote to him begging and pleading for him to see me.  His standard answer was 'he didn't beat you, so you had no right to leave him'. 

I forced him to see me eventually, when he was very very sick.  The first few times were awful, he did nothing but spit venom at me, but I persevered.  When he was a couple of weeks away from death I was sat by his bedside, playing with the wrinkly skin on his hand, when he turned to me and said 'you haven't done that since you were a little girl.  You've taught me what love really is.'


Friday, 22 February 2013



This is my first blog post.  I'm a little bit computer illiterate and have to confess that the whole technical side of writing a blog has me baffled. My 16yr old daughter set this up for me so far.  As I evolve, I'm hoping my expertise will too, and I can make this visual layout a little more interesting!
I've been thinking a lot recently about truth and fulfillment.  The soulful and spiritual kind.  It dawned on me that over the years, through work and marriage and divorce and motherhood and loss and a broken heart, I have compromised so much of myself that I hardly know who I am anymore.  The life I am living reflects very little of who I am on the inside, and that feels pretty scary.
Then I got to wondering how many of us are actually being true to our souls on a daily basis.  How many of us are trapped inside the lives we are living?  Stuck in jobs that just about pay the bills but don't fulfil us?  Living for the weekends.  Days full of 'musts' and 'shoulds' and just snatched moments of the stuff that really makes us feel alive?  When I sounded this out to my friends, it seems that whilst we are all generally happy in the grand scheme of things, a trickle of unrest is whispering...is this it?
So I've made a decision.  I want to live the life of my dreams as I have created it, with intention and purpose.  I want to make a difference in the world.  I want to see how much is possible when I fully commit to living my truth, to creating the life I desire as opposed to reacting to whatever life throws at me.  I want to see if this quote is true:-
The moment one definitely commits oneself - then providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur that would never have otherwise occurred.   Goethe
This isn't about becoming rich and famous or having the best of everything materialistically.  It's about starting from a place that feels restricted, frustrating and a little bit hopeless and journeying towards a life of truth and fulfilment and freedom.  A life that, right now, feels a little bit like an impossible dream.
I want to document my entire journey for a year from where I am now (and I'll write about that gradually) to where I end up, having identified the life I really want, made real plans, overcome real fears and taken real steps towards making it all happen.  I want this blog to be real and raw and totally honest - (I have issues and dark places, just like everyone), even if that leaves me wide open and vulnerable.  I have no idea how many people will read this, nor am I really so bothered.  This is about my promise to myself, my committment to being the best me I can possibly be, holding myself accountable by putting myself out there..... but a tiny bit of me hopes that along the way I can be an inspiration for other souls who are feeling a little bit lost too.
So...a deep breath.....today is Day One....