Food for thought

When Life gives you lemons,make lemonade

As with most people, these past couple of years have been challenging and has affected my outlook on life. This hasn’t been as straightforward as I might have expected. Once I was able to get my head around the seriousness of the worldwide situation, I vowed to use my enforced lockdown wisely. I intended to learn new skills, get fitter, become more in touch with nature and generally work towards becoming a better person. Sounds familiar? Yes, a pledge made by many and like them, I too failed.

Initially, I was relieved and delighted at how communities were rallying round, helping one another, but as time passed, so did the weird euphoria that accompanied my gut wrenching fear.

With the planet seemingly heading for disaster, Brexit making life more challenging and the world in the grip of a Pandemic, It was me I was feeling sorry for. Angels of mercy ( medical & general public) were working every available hour, checking on and helping the sick and lonely, raising funds, supporting food banks and collecting food and clothing for those in need and much, much more. Many gave their time, after a full day’s work. I felt useless. Not only did I need to rely on outsiders for help, my health was steadily worstening, life had lost it’s promise. But far worse was to come, as my mood nose-dived. Negativity began to seep into my life. Without a positive outlook, I knew I was likely to be jeopardising my mental health.

All around, volunteers worked tirelessly, but their great work was spoilt by those who were only concerned whether they could possibly manage without their holidays in the sun. Their call changed from ‘Let me help’ to ‘What about me?’ I was sickened, how could some people lose compassion so quickly? But what did I do to try to improve the situation? How did I react? Rather than try to compensate for the uncharitable comments and selfish people, I wallowed in seas of misery and gladly shut myself away.

The following months were bleak. I attempted to shroud myself in my writing, but like all other attempts at creativity, I failed spectacularly. Regardless of what was happening in the outside world, I felt I had no legitimate reason to be here any longer.

Somehow I dragged myself through the monotony of limited daily life. I returned to my voluntary work, albeit in a restricted way, but once home, the dark clouds would come rolling in. Tears came with ease, but were awash with guilt. What had I got to feel so bad about? I’d caught Covid early on, but had recovered easily. I hadn’t lost any loved ones. I had a roof over my head and money to buy food and pay my bills. For me, nothing monumental had changed. I was fortunate, but couldn’t see it, which worsened my self guilt.

At one point I dug into my limited savings, giving more than I could afford to various charities in the hope of feeling more worthwhile. Although I’d helped a bit, I convinced myself that I was attempting to buy my way out of the situation, so didn’t get any sense of achievement, instead, more guilt. Why was I alive while others died?

Then the lightbulb moment came.

A tearful appointment with a caring GP and a change of medication, to relieve my physical pain, made a lot of difference. Now more able to meditate again, at one session, I got the sense of being given a spiritual ‘kick up the bottom’ and being told to buck up my ideas. I was taken aback at first, a bit insulted really, but the feeling intensified, rather than reduced. I reluctantly forced myself to take a hard look at reality. When my eyes were free from their shields, I realised friends had been facing serious problems, illnesses and personal dilemmas. On Facebook, I’d become dependant on a feed of cute kittens and amusing cats to keep my mind away from the real world. The ‘spiritual voice’ had been right. I needed to DO something positive before I could reap the rewards of feeling it. But how? What major issue could I challenge, or good work could I do? Another meditation, another reality check. I didn’t need to do anything newsworthy. Looking in on elderly neighbours, chatting with them, returning their calls if I’d missed them, remembering to ask how they or their families were, how the operation went, did their partner get the job, was the child happy, back at school. All seemingly small and insignificant things, but the recipients always seemed grateful. I opened my heart and welcomed new friends as I would, lifelong ones. I increased my hours at the charity shop, only staying away when my health was too bad. I stopped looking at myself and began looking at others. Wearing masks had, bizarelly, made many of us feel more invisible,. Unable to see their features, I focussed on their eyes and made sure a smile could be seen through mine. Once the spotlight was taken away from my miseries, I was able to use it to brighten other’s lives. I’m no saint, or miracle worker, but for some reason, these little gestures seemed to help people, including myself.

I’m happy to report that positivity has found it’s way back into my heart and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon. Not every day is good, in fact there are times when life feels very cruel and unfair, but every evening, the sun sets and rises with each and every dawn.

I’m trying to revel in each day as if it could be my last, because one day, it will be. I’ve acknowledged, then packed away hurts from the past, now they can only cause pain if I allow it – and I don’t. My life is simple, nothing exhilarating, but enough for me to find contentment. I’m so grateful to realise how lucky I am.

I’m fortunate that I can still afford to buy lemons – Lemonade anyone?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I’d be happy if you’d ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ my posts . It can feel lonely writing with no-one to read my words.

Health, Peace and love to one and all

Rosie xx

Food for thought, General ramblings

Never too old to Learn.

Like many people of the older generation, I was brought up to believe that once I’d exceeded my ‘best before’ date, new knowledge wasn’t something to worry about. Our poor old shrivelled brains don’t need to be bothered with such things.

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY DISAGREE!

Agreed, information isn’t absorbed as readily as in youth, however learning anything can be invigorating and can keep life interesting, as well as helping to stave off the ravages of some forms of dementia.

Since I reached my 60s, now nearing my 70s, my thirst for knowledge has actually grown, even though I am unable to process/ retain some information due to stroke damage. However, by accepting certain limitations and changing direction in my quest, I’ve learnt that practical rather than academic subjects, are more readily stored in my brain. Favouring subjects with more relevance in my life, has been a real brain stretcher.

As someone who left school, aged 15 without qualifications, I always intended to attend adult education classes to gain at least the most basics certificates. With all good intentions, a large family & manic home life got in the way and when I was finally able to spare the time, my confidence had deserted me. I told myself that I was obviously stupid & would probably never have passed my exams, besides, how relevant could it be anyway? I can now see I was just making excuses to cover up my fear.

Shortly after my 60th birthday, my life changed dramatically when I found myself single again. With a little used brain & disabling depression, I felt like the village idiot. Try as I might, I was unable to retain anything. I was stupid!  But I knew I wasn’t! I’d simply limited my abilities for self protection. If I didn’t stretch myself, I couldn’t fail, could I?

Once I fought my way out of the depression, I needed to find something to keep me stimulated, to prevent the likelihood of a recurrence. And so my love of learning began….

It started on a very small scale, dabbling with pottery and art, with plenty of home reading. I became obsessed with holistic healing ( something I’d always even interested in.) Shortly before my divorce I’d surprised myself by training as a Reiki therapist, going on to become a Reiki Master, although I wasn’t really convinced of my worth. Once single, I began to relearn & gradually added to my list of holistic abilities. Lack of confidence was by far the biggest challenge, but no books could really teach me, knew I had to discover it for myself. Once I had achieved that, nothing seemed an impossibility, I could attempt anything that I wanted. Suddenly succeeding seemed less important than having a go.

With a lot of encouragement I became a flexercise leader ( I thought it was an easy option), but soon knew I didn’t want to stop there. Certain things were unrealistic due to health restrictions but I have since accrued a list of practical qualifications. Through my voluntary work I have taken training in Mental Health studies, courses in Life Coaching, first aid, food hygeine & safety. I am a Tai Chi Instructor, Food Waste Champion, set up a writing group and even led a women’s friendship group. I have written books, learnt to self – publish, even became a motivational speaker for a while. I can set up basic websites, and, for several months wrote a column in the local newspaper. For the last five years I’ve dedicated my spare time to a child cancer charity ‘Young Lives vs Cancer.’ I volunteer in one of their charity shops and absolutely love it.

Phew! I’m exhausted just reading that list. It’s as if it has happened to someone else, not me. Not stupid, unqualified me? Me who was only capable of making good cakes & looking after children?  Me, who thought that I was a write off!

I still don’t have academic qualifications. I enrolled on an English Grammer course, but soon realised that I was doing it for other people, for their acceptance and approval, not for myself. At my age I don’t need a certificate to prove my worth. My life is doing that!

Not every pensioner willingly shuts down their brain on retirement, many aim for continuing achievements, however far too many aren’t.

I’m not advocating that everyone follow my path. There isn’t one right way. Everyones’journey is different. However I wanted to share this with you all, to prove that nothing is impossible. If I can encourage one person to achieve something that makes them swell with pride, I will be delighted.

Life is very different for upcoming generations, where women in particular are more self – assured and able to follow their dreams more easily. Pre 1960s,Women were mainly required to be proficient housekeepers, wives & mothers, perhaps reaching the exalted heady heights of shop assistants once their children had left home. I was none of these. Thankfully that is in the past.

We are fortunate to live in a Country where we have many choices. Few live in squallor, in fact most are able to live reasonable well, in comfort, even if not in luxury. However, it breaks my heart to see so many older people, resigned to a life of loneliness & misery because they feel unworthy of anything more. Their latter years are filled with little more than a television for company. Too many don’t strive for, or expect to achieve anything more, believing they aren’t capable of anything else.

Three words : YES YOU ARE!

Two words : TRUST YOURSELF.

One word: BELIEVE!

Rosie x

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Food for thought, Uncategorized

Spreading your web.

Recently a friend asked how I tackled being alone when I first moved to this area. Was I lonely? Yes of course I was! I was 60, knew no-one & wasn’t sure where to begin.
There is really no definite formula that I can guarantee would work for everyone, however there is one tip that I believe always helps – that is to put yourself ‘out there’ and be pro-active, strangers are unlikely to knock on your door, begging for your friendship!

As I have previously said, at first, although nervous, I joined lots of groups and clubs until I found my feet and had begun to build a social circle, then I re-evaluated the usefulness of the clubs, dropping those that weren’t really working for me, leaving space in my life to join others If and when the opportunity arose.

Through these groups I was able to make contacts, through those contacts, further ones and so on. The point is that everything has to have a starting point. Wanting to make changes won’t work unless you actually do something about it.

As someone told me many years ago:

Nothing changes until something changes.

Think about it – then DO SOMETHING!

Loneliness is a dreadful thing and the longer the situation continues, the more difficult it is to resolve. That first step will never get easier, there will never be ‘the right time,’ the time to take action is NOW.

Don’t allow the fear to hold you back. Nervousness won’t kill you, it may feel like a step to far & that you’re not ready yet, but when is that likely to change? It is unlikely to. The first step is to make a personal commitment, the second is to walk through that door! Sure, so some people will turn and look at yo, just as people did when they first started, just as you probably will when newcomers join after you. It doesn’t mean that they are being unkind, generally they are just intrigued about who this stranger is, possibly wondering if this could be a new friend for them.

That very first time is scary, the next time it will be easier, soon you won’t bat an eyelid, so go on – do it! Make 2017 the year that your social circle will expand. But don’t wait till next month, or the spring or summer or your birthday, or any other excuse, because that’s all it is – an excuse, a reason to put off something that seems scary.

Please do it. Decide on something that you would like to join, ( if retired the local U3A is a good place to start.) find out details, phone up the contact number if there is one ( this will actually soften the blow), make a date to join and don’t let yourself talk you out of it.

Life is only as good as we make it so make it good!

Be brave. You can do it!

Take care

Rosie x

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Food for thought, General ramblings, Mental health awareness

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

Food for thought, Uncategorized, Writing as a career path

Christmas illusion.

As someone who spends Christmas alone, I am saddened by the amount of people who tell me how much they dread the enforced jollity.

There are a couple of points here.
First of all, although I agree that family get together are rarely ideal, at least they are fortunate enough to be invited. However if it really is such a trial, why don’t they decline the invitation? Getting along with your fellow man can be tricky at any time of the year but when expectations are running so high, it’s so easy for arguments to flare up.

The other side is how false it all is. This whole Christmas thing has become a huge obstacle to sanity!

People inviting people that they don’t like or want to be with, others accepting invites that they don’t want to go to.

Giving gifts is the same – surely presents should be given for the right reasons, not because ‘it’ll do!’

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get this right?

Many people dread the idea of being alone at Christmas, others are horrified with the thought of their family sitting alone, so people are shipped across the miles so that they can sit there, uncomfortable, like a spare part.

In an ideal world families would be closer, always caring about their elderly or single members but this isn’t an ideal world.

Being alone at Christmas isn’t really any different from any other day – it’s our expectations that make it so.

I find it so false when Granny or Grandad or Great Aunt are invited & then treated as an incombance. What we need is more honesty and a more caring society.

Are people so short sighted to believe that most elderly people want to sit in a room full of screaming, overly excited children, fed totally unsuitable food, then are delivered back home once the family need to get down to some serious drinking. Why are there not more centres where older people can actually enjoy themselves at Christmas? Company needs to be good and interesting, for it to be enjoyable. Not for pensioners to be marginalised or patronised, but to actually offer the form of entertainment that they would actually enjoy.
No one should be forced to be alone at this time of year, but neither should they be coerced to go where they feel uncomfortable.

There will be a lot of people who disagree with this post but I feel it needs to be said. When our Children are young, Christmas is a wonderful, magical time, even when money is tight, the wonder on their faces as they spy the wrapped gifts and all of the glitter and glitz is what it’s all about. A good Christmas with family games, laughter and few treats is what we all aspire to, yet in reality it’s rarely like that. Alcohol, stress, arguments get in the way. Too much emphasis is put onto the achievement of the ‘perfect ‘ day.

So what would be perfect? Surely it all depends on the person involved?
Different ages will usually see things differently. Nowadays it’s all about money, buying the biggest, most expensive gifts. Is that really right?
What about Granny or Grandad? Do they just get chocolates or toiletries or some other thoughtless gift? I bet for many this is true.

Can’t we have a rethink? Putting the Christian aspect to one side, the social & economic drudgery that can be caused is a travesty.
I would willingly help out at a lively, cheerful alternative get together.yet there are so few available. I have previously volunteered at a homeless shelter on the big day ( & a great day it was) but why aren’t there more options? Eating out at Christmas as a single person is virtually impossible. I don’t want to be an imposition on my family but I would actually like to have fun too. Holidays at this time of year are beyond the reach of many pensioners so what choices do we have?
I’ve done the tearful holiday period, now thankfully I’ve come to accept how things are. I’m used to living alone and actually enjoy it, but not everyone feels like me. I’m fortunate enough to have a great social circle so although I won’t have company on the day, I have plenty of events both before and after.

There will be many who are loved and cherished who will be warmly welcomed by their loved ones, they are very fortunate.
With everything shut, too many pensioners will be totally alone, totally uncared about. This is so wrong.
Everyone who believes in the season of goodwill, wherever you may be, bear a thought for others less fortunate and maybe think of something positive that you can instigate for future years. It isn’t charity or pity that most pensioners want, it’s just a bit of genuine consideration.

Let’s put the ‘Happy’ back into happy Christmas.

I wish you all a lovely time.

Rosie x

Uncategorized

Help through sharing

If my Waffling has helped you at all, or you feel that you could add something constructive to my perspective on life, please do contact me & share your feelings.

Writing my deep innermost thoughts is very therapeutic for me & I  hope that you may find it of interest, however please remember that these viewpoints are entirely personal. Nothing that I write is intended to be anything other than my own view on life. I accept that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion & certainly don’t expect everyone to understand mine.

Please respect my feelings, as I will yours.  As a sufferer of depression & previous low self esteem, I am acutely aware how lonely & isolating mental illness can be.    Although I can’t promise to be of help, I am happy to receive  your  messages. Sharing is very liberating.

Remember that life is never as black as it sometimes seems.

Some days it may seem like you will never feel happy again, but the Sun always shines when it needs to. When you see it, feel that warmth, bask in it, smile & feel invigorated.

life is there for you, live it to the best of your ability.

Be happy xx