That day of the year.

It’s that day of the year that gets me thinking about things. I know I am not alone in this. I think it is a day that we should at least pause for thought In our life.

And so here it is, that day has arrived once again. Although I am not bothered about being a year older. I am glad that I am here and I still have my partner and my dog to share it with. It will also be nice to catch up with my Mum as I haven’t seen her for a few weeks. I don’t have big fancy plans, a favourite meal in the evening and have seen some of my friends over this week. I am conscious of the fact that it is a blessing to be here and that in itself is my celebration. Age is no indication that we can remain. The world loses many wonderful people young and old every day.

I had planned to do certain things just for me by the time my birthday came around this year, but alas I have not managed to achieve half of what I wanted to do at this point in my life.  However, this year has only just begun so I will just have to get stuck in.

But… To return to my original subject now I talked to a few people about my writing in the past month or so and they have said some nice things which motivated me to try some things that I had put to the back of my mind. The first thing being to get the first book out there in physical form.  When I set out to publish my first book two years ago I didn’t think that it was important to have a hard copy of the book, but how wrong was I?  Time and again the people  I know have said to me that if I had a printed copy they would buy it so I hope that they will now.

At the time I just wanted to get it out there and thought that people used kindles anyway, so it seemed like the easiest way to self publish.  But since then I have realised the importance of a physical book to so many readers.

I must admit, that when I go to the spoken word poetry nights there are paperback books, sheaves of paper, notebooks and the occasional phone which people read from. I have not yet seen a kindle in use.

So I set about my task for this week, to edit, spellcheck, read through my book once again and attempt to put it into print. This time proper print, which people might actually read on holiday, or the bus, or in their coffee break or anywhere really.

If nothing else, this is my Birthday gift to myself, that I have done it, approved it and sent it for publishing. So that at least my parents might be able to have a copy of it at last.

One thing that I have learned in the last week whilst I have been doing the slight adjustments to the book is that my writing has improved. It felt somehow naive reading those poems back. Although I know that I am my own worst critic. I can see my work warts and all. Thankfully there are also people who enjoy some of it, which spurs me on to write more. But these days I feel more confident as a writer. Like I can actually do it now. I also feel that my poetry has changed quite a bit. Of course the subject matter differs from piece to piece anyway, but I think I am more at ease with the flow, however it comes to me.

So hopefully, as from next week now my book will be available on Amazon in a paperback version as well as the original kindle one here. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sentimental-Journey-Poetic-Stories-Vol-ebook/dp/B01N2IIREW

I hope that if you haven’t taken a look already it spurs you on to do so and if you like it, drop me a line to let me know.

*A quick update to this is that the book went live for my Birthday after all, to get the paperback version now just click this link The Sentimental Journey – Paperback Version

I will also be creating the second book of poems this year. A long time ago I had a number in my head that when I’d written that many I would make the selection. But that was some time ago. I wasn’t feeling as though it was the right time to publish so I just kept on writing more. I now feel it’s time.

It has been suggested that I write some poems for children, which should help me along the way as I want to get into reading them out in public.  I began a children’s story book a couple lf months ago which I hope will grow over time and I have two people that I would like to illustrate it for me, but since I haven’t finished it yet, I feel that I can’t ask them until its ready. I also have lots of other ideas. So who knows what this year will shape up to be by the end of it.

Daily Prompts – Age

Reflecting on the past year.

This has not been the year that I wanted or expected it to be. Neither has it been the year that I manifested for myself, the one filled with good things which would change my life for the better.  That’s not to say that it hasn’t been eventful to say the least. But this is not the sort of year that one would ever wish to repeat.  It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, so don’t be put off reading.

In February, my partner sent me on a trip of a lifetime to visit my very dear friends in Australia. Travelling alone the whole thing was the most amazing experience and I will carry the memories with me forever. I was so grateful to him for doing that for me and whilst I was in a warmer climate, eating a tonne of fresh fruit and veg and drinking filtered rainwater. My health improved greatly, rather like pressing a reset button.  I was devasted to find out whilst I was away that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had four weeks of radiotherapy, he had decided to do this alone whilst I was out of the way. He doesn’t like me seeing him ill. I was worried silly about him. He had been unwell for a while and I suspected that he had relapsed. Although he is not yet well, he is pleased that he has made it through thus far. Neither he or I were sure that would even happen at several points this year, something that over the Christmas period we have been celebrating.

In the springtime, we went away to our home in Scotland. It was awful when we got there to find that our neighbour had in our absence erected a 6ft high fence all the way along the front of our property, blocking our view and stealing yet more of our land, but we were not in a financial position to fight him to get it back. Even more devastating was when he arranged for his brother to attack my partner and my dog when I had left to come back South to deal with urgent family matters. The police were called and things went from bad to worse up there.  We couldn’t come back quickly enough, feeling unwelcome in both places where we live leaves you wondering just where you are supposed to be and questioning so much. We thought about leaving there and not going back, but then we aren’t used to backing down. We have fought so hard to make it work up there. He suffered injury and ill health throughout the summer, largely down to the stress of it when he was supposed to rest and recuperate and his health has not improved either.

This wasn’t the year that I ever thought that our family would get smaller, it was an awful shock to lose my brother, who was only in his forties suddenly and heartbreakingly in an accident whilst he was working abroad.  It was not how he wanted me to travel, to go out to the place where he worked to bring home his belongings, but he knew that I was the only one who could actually do it and so he made me next of kin although I didn’t realise this until he died.
I had to travel to Corsica alone and deal with matters there and meet his colleagues who had become like family to him, I realised the profound effect that my brother had upon all who knew him there. Within a couple of months he had become a part of their extended family, was respected and accepted and greatly missed by them all. They were all left reeling from the circumstances and it was both difficult and totally necessary that I went out there to meet them. His employers were totally supportive and arranged everything there. I could not have gone if it hadn’t been for them.
During this time I realised that I had hidden the strength that I once had so deeply. The strength that I doubted I still had within me, but I had to hold it together for the sake of my family and  I showed courage and achieved what was required of me in his honour. We gave him the best party ever as a send-off and over 400 people attended his funeral with around 200 people in a celebration of his life afterwards. The organising skills I once had, came to the fore once again and on that day I stood in front of them all and read one of my poems for the first time ever in public. The whole thing wiped me out and my health suffered a knock back afterwards, but I had the support of my loved ones and our relationships have strengthened through it also. United by grief, my sister and my mother and I have grown even closer and other friendships that were lost have been rekindled. My brother left a legacy that continues to inspire people. He also inspires us to not give up and to achieve things now and step outside of our comfort zones.  I have since gone on to read more of my poetry at spoken word events since then. Something that in recent years I would never have thought possible due to a severe dip in my self-confidence. We all feel differently since he has gone. We are all grieving and Christmas time was especially difficult since he would normally visit us. But his loss has definitely changed our lives and his spirit lives on and reminds us we will never be apart.

But it was the year that justice was finally served on my neighbour in the south who has terrorised and threatened my partner and I for over two years. He was given a fine and a criminal record for only a fraction of what he has done, but at least he did not get off Scot free and has been held accountable for some of his actions at last. I also got a restraining order against him banishing him from contacting me or coming near me or my home. That was a good day and although I do not feel as though I am safe and I cannot afford to become nonchalant about it, at least there is some recourse if he does anything in the next few months. If nothing else it has bought us some time in which to figure things out and possibly move elsewhere whilst under the protection of the order.

I have been writing again lately, poems mainly and trying to write about other interesting things and be less of a dreamer. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have been writing on another blog lately, trying to find alternative subjects about which to write. But dreaming is where I gain the most comfort I think. I take comfort in the good dreams but due to the illness I have I have had to take some new medication and this had given me the most awful dreams which I did not wish to dwell on or write about. I had hoped that I would awake and they would be gone, alas it was not to be. It has caused depression to return lately and with it other difficulties.  I thought that I would get used to the new drug. I thought it was only a matter of time before I could get used to its effects, but I now realise that is not to be.  Three months in, I know that I will have to change to something else entirely or have to brave it out again as I did before without meds. I now regret that I succumbed to pharmaceuticals once again and look for the herbal alternative instead which might give some relief. I have been writing more honestly, I do not know if I will publish much of why I have written, but it is there and I have written it and I feel calmer for the process. It has been a huge part of my healing process over the years.

I have been back to the breast clinic this week. I have suffered with pain in both breasts for nine months of this year and having had two mammograms and a scan I’ve been told that I don’t have cancer this week which is a huge relief. But, they don’t know why I am still in pain or why it would be there.  So it’s back to the drawing board again.
On the other hand, I have ENT and Rheumatology appointments booked for March which is the earliest I can be seen, These are to look into the constant pain I’m in, the lack of my sense of smell which largely disappeared almost a year ago and the tremors and spasms I now suffer with daily. It’s more of that waiting game. Meanwhile, I did not expect that all of my benefits would be stopped and I would have to start from scratch again just when I thought that things could not get any worse. If it had not been for the support and help with food from my family then I do not know where I would be now, I was worried that I might lose my home being left unable to pay for it or the bills. That really scares me. It is sorted out now for the time being, but I am now worse off financially than I have been for the past 3 years of being unwell and I had to take on more debt to cover the interim.

I have certainly learned to adapt this past year. I lost my sense of smell in the early Spring, right when I had thought that I would be making scented products in my spare time and might be able to raise funds in this way and incorporate a hobby. I had to have a rethink, I made things which weren’t scented or used only the tried and tested recipes which I had already which is rather restrictive. I concentrated on cooking new things instead, my taste buds were working just fine so I baked more interesting things and tried new foods.
I spent time with my sister and got creative again, trying new things and found that my artistic skills had improved, my drawing and painting and I took some stunning photographs to cherish. I sold things to make ends meet and sourced be things which I hoped would raise some funds and learned from my experiences.

I know that life has taken a turn in a different direction now. I am not sure what the future holds for me in my working life at the moment but I have changed as a person. I will be true to myself and if I am unhappy in my work life I have promised that I will not just stay there and make the best of a bad situation. I owe it to myself never to go through what I did before again. I do deserve better and I will no longer settle for less. I don’t even know what I’m capable of right now. With chronic fatigue and other health issues its very limiting but there must be something out there for me. I have received a lot of encouragement in my poetry writing since getting it out in the open, so may begin work on another book early next year. The first one is still available on Amazon if you feel like having a read and meanwhile  I’m still writing my reviews on Trip Advisor occasionally which have had over 17000 readers to date.

So, on that happy note. Christmas has been a very quiet time for us, dwelling on what has happened has not been easy, but the gratitude we have for still being here and together as a family is immense. The fact that there was food on our table, the generosity of our family and the kindness of friends meant that we had a happy Christmas and are looking forward to the new year with new hope.

Yes, we hope that things generally will get better for us. We certainly don’t want them to get any worse. Rock bottom has not been very nice and we have been held down there way too long. Things will have to change for the better soon, we will do all that we can to make that happen. We are still fighting for a healthier life for us both and improvements to our surroundings.  There are times when we have been unwell and depression has taken hold but thankfully despite our ups and downs this year, we are still in love with each other and if you have love, then anything is possible. Our mindset is positive. We will not let this past year bring us down. We are not giving up or backing down we are stronger together and looking forward to a healthy and happy future together.

We do not make resolutions, there has been little point when so much of what has happened has been out of our control. We will make plans, but also intend to create more happiness in our lives, spend time doing more of the things we love, visit the places, see the people and cherish whatever time we have left together. As this year has taught me a valuable lesson. Since tomorrow is promised to no one, hold your loved ones close. Live each day not necessarily as if it were your last, but make something good of each day. Note your gratitude, it will reassure you when you are feeling low. Hug the ones that love you and if you love someone, tell them.  You are worthy of love and you deserve love in return. Think of the wonders you carry with you every day, the things you see and experience and love the skin that you are in, it will love you back.

May your New Year 2019 be Healthy, Happy and Blessed.