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

Difficult Questions.

Having just read a post about homelessness ( happiness blog)
It has hit home how I am as guilty as anyone of not doing anything pro-active to help the homeless.
I care deeply & am in fact writing a novel that features this subject. I try to be friendly but feel awkward about my inability to make any difference to their lives. So I may give a little loose change – big deal! What help is that really? A coffee, then what?
Why are we, as a society, so afraid of upsetting the apple cart by making a noise about the plight of those who, through no fault of their own are without the security ( or comfort) of a roof over their head?
Are we really willing to attempt to help, or are we trying to clear our consciousnesses?
Why do we feel so uncomfortable?
I tell myself that I am caring & considerate, so why am I so impotent over this? Am I really doing all that I can? The answer is simple-no I’m not doing enough.
Caring doesn’t give them a bed or regular hot meals.
Caring doesn’t give them security or the opportunity to get back on their feet.
I suspect that I do more than a lot of people, yet really do so little. Why?
I guess I’m waiting for someone else to set up a workable initiative that I can join. Coward! Why don’t I put my energies into helping instead of simply being concerned?

The happiness blog posed so many questions which are reverberating around my head.

I want to help more. There must be a way. I’ve no idea what, but one thing is certain, bleating about it won’t change anything. Action is needed. Positive, practical action.

Will I do something major to make a difference?

To my shame, probably not.

Rosie x

I’m being honest. Maybe it’s time that we all were?
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No questions without answers.

Today I have felt dreadful.  There’s no point in me dressing it up – I have felt absolutely awful!

I had made plans for today.   Depending on how well I felt, I intended going out for a wander around my hometown or if I wasn’t strong enough, I’d stay at home & continue with my decluttering.   What I hadn’t reckoned on was to wake up with a banging headache.  Unusually for me, I had a very disturbing dream,  one of those that you can’t shake off!  Although not a nightmare it was quite unnerving.  I tried to return to sleep but my mind wasn’t going to play ball, it was insistent that I carry the images from the dream around with me all day. Try as I might, it wasn’t to be ignored!

After forcing myself to get up, feed the cat & follow the initial morning routine, I realised that today would be a wipe out unless I got some quality sleep.  Much to my cats’ disgust, I returned back to bed and slept and slept and slept.   I finally opened my eyes well after midday. It took just a matter of a few seconds to know that I actually felt worse, not better!  I am telling you this, simply to set the scene for my pondering.

As some of you will know, I’ve been unwell for quite a while now, which has hit me very hard, especially since I have been flying high for several months prior to this.  During that ‘well’ time,  although still in tremendous pain, I managed to have a very full & enjoyable life.  I knew that I had been pushing myself too hard ( fibromyalgia hates being pushed) so wasn’t at all surprised to have a relapse, but the severity has taken me by surprise.    Enough whinging!    Suffice it to say that a ‘well period’ feels very much overdue!

Thankfully throughout this difficult period, I have remained          ( on the whole) cheerful & have managed to keep depression at bay.   However recently I have been writing a lot,   including a book about a difficult period in my life. As you may understand, this has brought up a lot of previously buried emotions.   Add  to this my support for the ‘Time to Change ‘ campaign, which is trying to eliminate the stigma attached to mental health difficulties (please see my recent blog). and it’s not hard to see that I have had to fight the black dog ( depression) which has been snapping at my heels.  Yesterday was a particularly melancholy day,  not helped by it being the anniversary of my Mothers’ passing, a couple of years ago. All in all it has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster!

Needless to say, I felt unable to go out today & as soon as I began to do any form of activity,  it soon became apparent that that was to be a no no also! The most physical thing that I have achieved was washing a few dishes & boiling some potatoes for my meal.

As someone who has had previous long term agoraphobia, I am very mindful about not allowing myself to go down that road again. Now, especially since I have felt so exhausted, I have been staying at home most days & have been concentrating on my writing.  If I’m honest, I’ve quite enjoyed being a hermit, but in my circumstances it is a risky strategy!    Since not being able to do much else today, I decided to sit & write, except that falling asleep again was all I managed.  After my 3rd or was it 4th nap?  I gave up the idea.     As many people know, when you create a void, something needs to fill its’ space, in my case it was a churning brain, firing questions at me.  I began to worry if I was getting mentally unstable again, but quickly dismissed that idea. But then I reasoned if it wasn’t that, was I being punished for something?  By now getting into dangerous territory, I gave myself a bit of a shake & looked  at what has actually happened.

Yes, I’ve been unable to go out much,  which has had a knock on effect of my spending being reduced. Positive outcome!

Yes, I’ve been forced to take a lengthy absence from my voluntary job.  I found this devastating, but it has helped me to see that when I return , not only will I be more physically able to work,  I will be able to re-evaluate  quite what tasks I should & shouldn’t take on. Resulting in a decision to make a slightly different work schedule. Positive outcome!

Yes, I have missed many groups & clubs.  Result being that I had realised how much I had been burning the candle at both ends.  I needed a rest.  I knew it.  I ignored it.  Now I can see that as a pensioner, with a variety of medical problems, I should prioritise & concentrate on what I need to do, rather than what I want to do!  Life won’t grind to a halt if I withdraw from one or two activities. Life will go on, as will the clubs without me.  Positive outcome!

Yes, I’ve had a lot of spare time on my hands.  Result being that I have used that time decluttering  my home, making it a much nicer, airier space.  Definite winner all round there!

Yes, I’ve had to let a lot of people down, something that I hate doing.   Resulting in being able to catch up with overdue paperwork & also old friendships via social media.  Positive outcome!

Yes, I have been unable to buy fresh food. ( someone does get me essentials).   Result being that I have been forced to use up food from my freezer & store cupboard ( or black hole, as it often seems!)  I have also invented many simple, tasty & nutritional vegan meals & snacks for myself. Some of which I will at some point share on my sister page http:// Rosieways,  howdidisite.com . My kitchen cupboard agrees it ‘s definitely been a positive outcome!

Being unable to do everything for myself , I’ve had to swallow my pride & ask for help.  Result being a lesson in humility that I badly needed.  Positive outcome!

Finally for now, Yes, I have been unable to keep up with housework, laundry etc.  Result, first of all – does it really matter?  Mainly though, enforced resting has given me plenty of time to write, write, write & write some more.  I have wanted to dedicate more time to creative writing, but never found much spare time. In the past few weeks I have actively written more than I would have thought possible. I have created a writing routine. I have sorted out my writing books into one place, easy to find & use.  Have found many interesting websites to aid my muse & have entered a couple of competitions.  Positive outcome!

Although I already knew about not being given questions ( & hardships / challenges ) without being given the answers  (or solutions)It took an enforced rest to help me actually take notice!

The end result to all of this episode will hopefully be a much more relaxed schedule with more ‘me’ time, more space for creativity & maybe even a healthier bank balance.

I certainly have a lot to be grateful for.     Namaste X

Love & Blessings to you all.

Rosie X