The year of new beginnings

As someone who dreads the Christmas period, I was ecstatic as I watched the televised New Year celebrations. Suddenly I felt a weight being lifted and inexplicably went to bed feeling really happy.

I am invariably ill on or around the festive season, this year was no exception. I suffered a small stroke in early November yet felt too pressured to slow down enough to fully recover. By the time the so called ‘big day’ arrived, I felt really washed out. The annual flood of tears over limited family contact hit me harder than usual and I spent the entire weekend dodging the threat of depression. It sat on my shoulder, whispering, no, bellowing negative ideas into my head. It knocked me for six.

It’s been quite a while since I felt so negative – I felt as if I was virtually oozing with darkness. Bizarelly though,there was still another part of me that held tight to the belief that these feelings were transitory. Unlike the days when depression ruled my every living thought, I Was sure this would pass and it has. In fact the relief as Big Ben chimed cannot be put into words!

January 1st – how I love that date.
I woke feeling totally refreshed and eager to get to grips with my life. I had allowed things to stagnate, I needed to clear away any self doubt, ready to face 2017. I always use The first day of the year to clean and clear, doing many of the little irritating jobs that have been put off. Why do I allow myself to procrastinate? Actually DOING something, rather than thinking about it is so liberating.

Recently my resolve hasn’t been as strong as it was, partly because my thyroid levels have gone awry. I have been particularly slow and inactive, needless to say this has led to weight gain – something that I promised myself would never happen again. Like so many others, my first reaction was to make a resolution to diet, exercise more etc.etc. But I know that the outcome would be failure. A quick fix isn’t the answer. What I needed was to have a total re- evaluation and find a way to regain my positivity and resolve. But how?

I found an unexpected solution. I noticed a website offering a course on decluttering and letting go. As many followers will know, I am a devotee of this already. I felt envious of the people who signed up for the course, they would be lucky, they would be learning new skills, whereas I already knew them, I’d just lost the knack. Then it hit me – why shouldn’t I join too? Was I so pompous that there was nothing for me to learn? Suddenly I knew that I had found the site for a reason.

I signed up immediately and was delighted to find a community of fellow travellers. Reading some of their comments put me to shame, they were so excited, optimistic, determined to change their lives and were eager to soak up any advice and help that the site could offer. Me? I’d just allowed my attitude to become lax. I had felt that excitement when I began the path of self discovery, the amazement when I realised how freeing decluttering and letting go was. Then I’d let it become mundane. Well no more!

Tomorrow life gets back to normal, people return to work, children back to school but for me it’s going to be anything but normal.
I am excited at the prospect of regaining my strength, my figure and my zest for life. It will be hard work. Having put on weight, it’s easy to let things literally slide but I won’t! I’m not going on a diet but I will lose weight. I am letting go of whatever it was that was holding me back. I’m reaffirming my love of life! I have already restarted decluttering. I have collected a huge box of things that will go to the charity shop tomorrow. I have included a few pieces of jewellery that I had hoarded, I don’t need them, someone else can benefit. In my food cupboard there are plenty of things that can go to the food bank. I have so much that I don’t need. I have hung on to possessions for security, but security comes from inside, it can’t be bought.

Letting go is a wonderful gift to learn. It touches more parts of your life that you can imagine. It clears clutter in the body and the grey matter in our heads as well as our surroundings. It frees the soul, spirit, heart and head and body. It’s fantastic.

I’ve hated how badly I’ve let myself go but now realise that I needed to hit a real low to allow myself to rise like a Phoenix!

2017 really is going to be the year that I sort myself out in every sense. I will do the things that I know that I am capable of, rather than find excuses for not doing them. Bring it on!

Thanks for reading this.
Rosie x

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Not allowing myself to wallow

This blog is very different to my usual tone. I wanted to write about something that affects many of us.
In advance I want to apologise if what I write may cause offence to members of my family. It certainly isn’t intended but part of this blog will touch on personal issues.

Recently I’ve been unwell, a slight stroke highlighted some other problems, which hopefully are now being addressed. However the exhaustion & threat of losing my personal care has causes quite a bit of worry and stress.
Generally I’m still upbeat and positive but my mood is definitely slipping.

I live alone and because of previous life problems, including a 17 year bout of agoraphobia, the plight of those facing loneliness is always on my mind. I am doing all that I can to highlight the problem. I write a column in the local paper trying to address this serious issue. The difficulty that I have is that I literally feel their pain. When I see or hear someone who is alone or feel unloved, it actually hurts me. If I could, I’d wrap my arms around every lonely person, even the difficult and unlikeable and welcome them into my home. No one should have nobody.

I guess because of the time of year, the whole family thing is going round and round in my head, everyone is chattering about how many visitors they will be having and so on. Unlike many, I am fortunate, I do have family, however we are no longer very close and I have in fact lost contact with two of my sons and their children. I find this really hard. Because of the family situation, I spend most Christmases totally alone. I receive very few presents & only one or two cards from my family. I try to act as if I don’t mind, but really I do! It’s not the being on my own for Christmas Day that’s the problem, after all, it’s just another day. I don’t mind my own company. I have a good social life with lots of friends and lead a very full life. But Christmas highlights the separation between us. I don’t complain, you can’t force someone to like/ love you, even your own flesh and blood.

Everywhere you hear of families driving miles to be with or fetch their distant families, people will be getting together, maybe having a great time, maybe not, but at least they are together. I will be alone, like many, many other elderly people. Through my voluntary work in a charity shop I have spoken to many people in a similar boat. Several tell me that they have family that rarely contact them. I wonder why it happens?

Years ago it was accepted that families stuck together. Now through people relocating all over the country, even world, families are not as close knit as the were. Divorce/ remarriages have added to the problem. It is such a dreadful pity. Youngsters no longer have the security of the family elders ( often grumpy or difficult) but usually a source of love and comfort as well as knowledge. It taught older generations how to tolerate and accept the ‘batty’ great aunt or uncle with peculiar habits. Children were taught how to handle these situations, how to accept the differences between the generations. We played family games, knowing that certain elders would insist on winning, equally we learnt who could be relied on and who would help us cheat ( playfully) at times. A bit like Christmas Cracker jokes, memories of past Christmases can often be remembered with a groan, but we understood our place in the family, our role.

How will young children learn to accept and help older relatives if they are kept away from them? One day, they too will be the elders.

Of course there are a huge majority of families who take their responsibilities seriously and include the older family members, whether they are very fond of them, or not. In some families the elders are very much loved, important figures who are totally involved with everything. The children from these families will undoubtedly be more rounded in their attitudes to others.

Since the split up of families has become so widespread, many children will grow up without knowing their grandparents or Great aunts and uncles, maybe even their cousins. This is such a shame. It is a relationship that cannot be found again. Although there are many extremely successful step families, in most cases, somewhere in the background are the now unwanted relatives.

I’ve been as guilty as many others, having been short sighted about my children keeping in contact with blood relatives, when divorce caused separations. I believed, ( wrongly) that consistency, being only with my side of the family was less painful and less harmful for my children. I know realise how badly I got it wrong. Inadvertently I was teaching them that relatives could be dispensed with, or forgotten about. That was such a bad lesson to show them. It’s understandable that I have now become dispensable.

With my generation, we were taught to accept our responsibilities and would travel regularly to make visits, topping up with at least weekly calls. It wasn’t always convenient or easy, at times the cheerful, chatty banter had to be forced, especially as the years went by. Now that all of my elders are gone, my brother and myself are the new elders. He is fortunate that his family is extremely close knit, I’m sure that the family dynamic doesn’t always run smoothly but they get over difficulties and remain very close. I am blessed to be quite close to this side of the family and love seeing how the younger members are growing. My own relationship with my parents wasn’t always easy, in fact at times it was dreadfully strained but now I can look back over those times spent together and feel so grateful that I have those memories, good and bad.

In years to come, there is a real risk of family unity bepreaking down totally. What stories will the children hear from their rambling grandfather or funny memories of their fussy grandmother? Children are richer for having grandparents. The relationship is very different from the one with their parents.

Times have changed, I understand that, the clock can’t be turned back but I really believe that the younger generation will be losing out.
In many countries the elders are revered, known as a source of wisdom which undoubtedly can only be attained by age and has nothing to do with educational knowledge. Here we are frequently treated with indifference.

Most of us have past memories of times spent with our elders, doing things that our parents didn’t have the time or money to do with us. I am so glad that I have mine. I pity the children that won’t have that because their parents are too tied up with their own lives to include the nuisance older relatives.

I will spend this weekend alone, if I’m lucky I’ll get a few fleeting phone calls. I’ll sound happy enough and I won’t complain. I can’t alter their mindset, but deep down there will be a heartfelt sadness, not just for what I’m missing, more for what memories are being lost from the younger generations. Not just in my own family but in those homes up and down the country who have decided not to bother about the irritating oldies.

I will not allow myself to wallow in sadness, I will keep myself busy with one of my many interests, but not everyone will feel the same. I wonder how many tears will be shed? How many pensioners will be dreading the coming few days?
How many will only have a carers company for an hour or so?

Remember, one day, you too will be that oldie and without having anything to follow,there is every chance that you too will be left alone.
As I said at the beginning – No one should have nobody. None of us are islands.
We all need company, some more than others.

I hope that this gives food for thought. Make that unexpected phone call or trip, it may be an inconvenience but think of the joy that you could be bringing.

I wish you all love and happiness and hope that the coming year will b good to you.

Rosie x

Was there life before trust?

As followers and friends will know, I believe totally that everything happens for a reason. I believe that the Universe has a plan for me and I am regularly tested, not to test me, but for me to judge for myself how strong my faith is.
I realise that to a lot of people this sounds like madness, but it matters not, I no longer need anyone elses approval – it works for me.

A week ago my world came close to crashing down around me. I had 3 major financial hardships in one day, meaning that I am going to have to rethink my life.
Although it came as a shock, I can now see the reason for it happening.
I’ve not got a very good relationship with money, over the years it has caused me much heartache, both in having it and not having it. Following years of severe financial strain during my marriage to an alcoholic, where I had to watch every penny & had no financial freedom whatsoever, when I found myself single, with money in the bank I couldn’t cope.

The money that was rattling in my bank account was thanks to the sale of our marital home, from a marriage that I had desperately tried to save.

How I hated that money!!!
Advice came thick and fast – go on a cruise, buy a huge television, buy all the things that I wanted. I tried, really I did. After a few months of renting, I bought myself a small flat, thus getting rid of a huge percentage of what felt like ill-gotten gains. I didn’t want any of the luxuries that friends told me to buy, I gave quite a bit away, then went on a silly spending spree. I would buy anything ‘pretty’ or ‘girlie’. After a life time surrounded by 5 sons and 3 husbands, pretty, girlie things were in short supply. The thing is, I didn’t really want these things and the novelty soon wore off.

Because my needs were minimal ( I don’t have a car, drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble etc) at first the money didn’t really go down much. I began giving a lot to charity, in a way it was penance for failing as a wife.
After a failed business attempt, where I lost quite a lot of money, suddenly there was very little left. So I began spending on credit cards instead.
I hated the years when we were living in such debt, yet I seemed hell bent on reliving it. I began buying all sorts of things, most of which I never used.
Worried that it could be the return of my mental health problems, I consulted a psychiatrist who assured me that it was a delayed reaction to my stressful marriage and that it would settle in time.

It didn’t.

The difficulty with any habit is that it can get out of control. I became the butt of many jokes about the amount of things that I was buying.
Thankfully, I came to the realisation that it was just comfort buying and that it was no more than ‘stuff’, not really even possessions. I began to declutter my flat ( well documented) I sold a few things but gave most things to a charity shop where I volunteer. Unfortunately as soon as I was getting rid of things, I was replacing them with further clutter.
I wanted to stop. I tried selling a few more expensive things but couldn’t bring myself to ask for anything like the worth, almost paying the purchasers for the privilege of rehomeing my things.

When my first credit card bounced, it came as a shock, never the less the spending continued on another card.

During this time I began to realise how much I despised many of the things that filled my home, so increased the decluttering/ donating. However this wasn’t helping me pay off my outstanding bills. I was running into big trouble and knew it!
I made many lists, cutting out unneccesary direct debits, working out how to save money, but nothing really changed. I looked at homeless people and felt dreadful, I couldn’t even help them because I had nothing left.

I prayed for guidance.

By now, having decided to raise money on my flat through equity release, rather than easing my worries, my haphazard spending increased, bringing no pleasure whatsoever.

Then my guidance came, but not in the way I’d expected.

My expected loan against the flat was refused, due to the high cost of the service charge, making it non viable. Boy was that a shock!
The same day I received two other financial setbacks,one being the quadrupling of my care contribution, also some anticipated extra money didn’t materialise. On top of all of that, adding salt to my already weeping wounds, my computer caught a nasty virus that cost an unexpected near Ā£100 to repair.

I should be devastated, but actually I’m so thankful!

It has forced me to really look at myself and my wasteful lifestyle. My money could have done so much good, yet I wasted it, now with my outgoings far higher than previously and with no equity release to pay off my bills, life has to change. My increase in care contributions was beyond my reach, so I have been forced to cancel my carer. Although I’m nervous about it, as she has been my lifesaver, I realise that I am being told to take personal responsibility.
With no leeway on my credit cards ( all maxed out) it will take me years to get back onto an even keel. But with the financial shocks, coming all together, it has jolted me back to reality.

This week I have searched through my flat and found several things that I don’t use, so have successfully sold them. I have looked at my bursting at the seams food cupboard and have decided to use it up, rather than buy new. Rather than investing in another overflow freezer, as I’d intended, I can actually eat what’s filled up the old one. I have reduced my eating lunches out, choosing to eat at home instead. I have stopped a lot of subscriptions to sites that I rarely, if ever, use.

At last I feel more normal. I’m just a pensioner with a very small income, I don’t need to spend so wildly. However I’m not panicking, or too worried. Things will work out, I’m sure of it. Opportunities to earn money will present themselves. That’s what I’ve needed – to earn what I spend, to give it a value.

To many readers, this will sound bizarre, probably thinking that I don’t know what hardship is – believe me I do. I spent so many years without a penny to my name, convincing the kids that playing games by candlelight was fun, when in fact I had no money for electricity. Hiding from debtors, court summonses etc. Believe me, I’ve been there – for a huge chunk of my life! I now owe more than I ever have, with very little means of paying it off. But pay it off, I will.
Something will come to show me the way. An opportunity will show itself. I really believe that.
When things improve, I want to be able to appreciate what I have and own, not to come across endless carrier bags of things I’d bought on impulse and not even unwrapped. Thankfully my tastes are fairly simple, so most purchases came from second hand shops, I’m not into high living, expensive perfumes and the like.

Yesterday my mobility scooter decided to play me up, I need it for my independence, so will have to get that looked at too. But the Universe wants me to feel more humble and be more grateful for what I do have, not just spending money that I can ill afford, to buy something new. I understand that. I am so grateful for that understanding. Without this wake up call I could have totally gone under, but I don’t believe that this was the Universal plan for me. I need to be more honest with myself. More humble. Live more simply. Something will present itself. Maybe I should apply to magazines or similar, touting for freelance work? Maybe I should get my book finished/ published ?

I trust, absolutely and totally. I was living in a fantasy world. Being honest on here, and to myself has been very freeing. I will be alright. I will find the way that I need to put this right. I have many talents and skills that I’ve not felt confident about.

I give thanks to the Universe for this painful, yet powerful lesson.

NamastešŸ•‰

Rosie x

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If only we had a delete button

I had cause to think about something hurtful that had been said to me earlier today. I hadn’t been particularly upset because I’ve grown very thick skinned, however it set me thinking about how easy it is to cause hurt through careless comments.
As a sensitive child, I was very easily brought to inner turmoil when something that felt personal was aimed in my direction. Quite possibly many of these comments were not intended to hurt, more likely they were just stupid thoughtless words but due to my sensitivity they wounded me deeply. I carried this hurt for much of my life. This pattern was repeated throughout my teenage years & subsequent marriages.
Thankfully now having learnt the art of ‘letting go’, I can see things for what they were but for a long time I lived under the delusion that it was very much a one sided offence. Of course now I see that I was just as guilty, as I suspect, we all are.
I would never have intentionally hurt anyone ( Mrs Do-as-you-would be- done by, really influenced me as a child). But now, as someone aiming for self improvement, I can see that I must have hurt many people throughout the years.
A few memories spring to mind that I am deeply ashamed of. One that I would take back is a nickname that I gave to a school friend who was ‘amply endowed’. I said it as a joke – one that stuck through her entire school years. How I regret giving her that name. I wonder if she was traumatised, as I certainly would have been?
I was fortunate enough to have lengthy therapy with a wonderful counsellor which helped me to understand that my failings were no worse than anyone else.
I have always been damaged by harsh words – something that my ex husband used to good effect but now I wonder if he truly understood the harm that he was causing? I prefer to believe that it was alcohol induced spite & not personal but I doubt I’ll ever know for sure. Thanks to my counsellor I found the ability to forgive & move on from that baggage. It’s been a long process but one that I am succeeding with. I have learnt to rectify the false self beliefs & replace them with more appropriate ones.
It seems that the destructive tendencies between friends, family, partners & strangers is far more wide reaching than is generally accepted. I wonder how many people are weighed down by the damage inflicted through hurtful words? It’s quite a scary thought!
Now, in the days of widespread internet access & social media, it is even easier to instil hurt with thoughtless texts or inappropriate tweets. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to delete these things, taking the knowledge of them to the bin as well. Unfortunately once said, even if later apologised for, a comment can not be taken away. once uttered or written, the spite is out there, in the Universe, easily accessed by the recipient to use for self abuse.
None of us know what damage our ill worded jokes will cause, but nothing can delete them. Even accepting that they weren’t meant, they have already taken up residence in the recipients brain & stored in their memory bank.

Is there any way that we can make amends for unfair words? Probably not. They’ve been said. How many times I’ve wished that I could grab them in mid flight & force them back into my mouth! But it’s impossible.
As far as I can tell, the only solution is to be more mindful about what we say to/about others.
I try not to be judgemental but every now & then I find odd little snipes spilling out. I try to see good in everyone but I’m human, although I abhor gossip, it’s so easy to get carried along with the flow of a conversation. Our desire to ‘fit in’ makes it likely that we will say things that really aren’t fair.
I try to accept my wrong-doings & limit any harm that I may cause but we all need to do more. Next time there is the temptation to bitch about someone or throw insults at your partner during a row, try to visualise those words before they leave your mouth, hit the imaginary delete button & choose different wording. Yes, it’s virtually impossible, a fairy story, but even fairy stories can have a happy ending. Isn’t it worth a try?
Even though I’ve been working on this personally for a long time now, I intend to try much harder. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone carrying the hurt & baggage as I did. The problem of course is that no one can see it. It just sits there & festers. I make a vow to limit anymore pain that I may cause.
It is said that what goes around, comes around & that you reap what you sow. I want to reap happiness, joy, kindness & love, so that is what I will endeavour to always give out. I hope that you do too.

Until next time, take care,
Rosie x

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