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. 

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Twenty Three

It has been a really tough time lately and although I’ve been writing occasionally little of it has made it to the blog. But on a happier note, it was our 23rd Anniversary yesterday. This is for my darling who has been there for me all of this time. Thank you!

Twenty Three.

It seems that we are twenty three,

I’m wondering how, this could be.

When we met at twenty one,

Our journey together, just begun.

Who could have said or could have foreseen,

That you would treat me as your queen.

For those of them who were in the know,

Who would have thought the love you’d show.

I’ll be frank no need to be rude,

My life is filled with gratitude,

Good times we’ve had there’s many more,

Not knowing what life holds in store.

So if our time is long or short,

Our love has grown, pleased to report.

The futures bright, is our outlook.

Another page to our long book.

What we’ve encountered to here thus far

Would send most off to the nearest bar.

But we get through and carry on,

Because together we are strong.

When we are pulled back from the brink,

Take a moment to stop and think.

Here we remain side by side,

The only place my for heart to reside.

No other person could ever replace,

My beloveds’ eyes and handsome face.

However many more years we see,

That you remain right here with me.

May beauty be there to behold,

In our hearts til, we grow old.

Suddenly we are twenty three,

I wish you Happy Anniversary!

And as I hope for many more,

We start another, our twenty four.

This Little Spider

Daily Post -Disrupt

This little spider.

Who rushes out to greet me again this evening,

Who crawled up my arm yesterday night,

And abseiled his way down from my glasses the night before.

Who sits in the living room

Quietly waiting for visitors to arrive.

Waiting for dinner time,

Where we all sit together and eat.

For the TV to stop and the chatter to quiet.

For the lights to go off and us all to sleep.

This little spider,

So small that you barely notice him.

Who does not disrupt family life.

Keeping me company, watching over me,

Doing his work and sharing our home.

A Growing Bucket List

sMjU7VJu.jpgThis is a 2-Part Post, the first part written in February 2017…

The Bucket List is a wonderful film starring Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson it is one of our all time favourite films and was on TV recently we watched it again. Clearly inspired my partner has been dreaming again of things that he would like to do too. I hope that he gets to do them.

So as I try to think of the ways that I will actually begin to tick things off my bucket list. My partner is thinking of ways that he can make it happen for me.

What is a little bit bizarre is that although things get mentioned from time to time. It is not written down anywhere. So he is going from memory which at times can be a bit sketchy. But it seems that he is quietly planning my bucket list for me. Making it happen. Like the trip I mentioned where I find as many Art Deco and art nouveau buildings and photograph them. Well, I as anyone reading this regularly will know I am just back from Barcelona a last month. Within a week he was already pointing out a hotel break, 2 days in Venice in a beautiful 4 star Art Nouveau hotel. Would I love to go? Yes of course I would. What worries me is that he has no intention of coming with me since travelling by air is an issue. It has been for some years, but now he is concerned about his respiratory system since he has been so ill lately. But he wants to send me. He told me at New Year that I would have to get used to travelling on my own. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I guess this was why which is so much better than the alternative since I can comeback and tell him all about it and drive him crazy looking at the photographs and now write about it too.

Of course I wouldn’t have to travel alone if a friend or family member wanted to join me, so that’s always an option. I don’t know how I’d be abroad totally on my own. I think I need a bit more confidence before I take that step. But there’s hope for me as I’m only uncertain not terrified at the thought of it. Time would be my own and I wouldn’t have to do a particular thing. There again though it wasn’t like that when Mum and I travelled, it was very relaxed. We did not have an itinerary just expressed a wish of things to see and she noticed things that I did not when we were out and about. A beautiful doorway here and there, or architectural detail. Something on the bus which I made her get off to show me so I could capture it.

We did say that it would be interesting to see how many of our photographs were of the same things since we shared a keen eye for so many of the sights.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, merely an enthusiast but I would love to make a living doing this.

Yes, I am an enthusiast of so many things.

So along with my growing list of things that I’d like to do this year. I’m afraid my bucket list is growing too and I don’t think that’s a bad thing really. It simply means that I have not had enough of the experiences of this world. There is more and more that I wish to see and do before I die and if I don’t get to do it all soon, then I’ll just have to live a long and happy one. I don’t know how long it will take me to get to Australia but I will get there one day and collect hugs from my extended adopted family when I do.

April 2018… Continuation

It is strange that this post has remained in my “Draft” folder for over a year untouched and incomplete but what is even stranger, for me at least is that I have just ticked another thing off my Bucket List. It was a big one of the things which I had no clue as to when it might happen, my only hope was that it would. As you will have seen from my posts recently, I got to hug my extended adopted family in Australia sooner than I thought and I travelled there alone. (Does that count as two things, I wonder?)

Of course this has not quenched my thirst for new experiences at all. If anything I am relishing the thought of what will come next. Its turning out to be an exciting journey after all.  Now how IS that ever increasing Bucket List coming along?

 

Image: Morguefile

 

I’m Alive!

I am relieved to have some sleep on the second part of this journey.

We passed by Bengalaru and Goa and Colombo and have been crossing the sea. As we travel I am thinking of these places, wondering what some of them are like. I never studied geography at school, I foolishly thought that I would never get to see the world. Dreams and ambitions were not to be encouraged and neither were flights of fancy. Curious as to what I would see and experience at ground level. I make a mental note to look such places up later and find out more about the wonders of the world in which we live. We have Drawn level with places named Nikitin Seamount and Investigator Ridge which are on our right whereas to the left of us are Phuket and Singapore A short while ago we crossed the equator and suddenly the blue hue that has been with us for many hours changed.

I ventured along the plane to see what the outside looked like. A wonderful skyscape there before me, like icebergs silently moving by amidst the blue waters below. But here we are above the clouds. It plays tricks upon the mind, as though you have seen something entirely different. I take photographs not only to savour the memories and moments but to paint such things later on.

I knew that I would be making memories on this trip. I am visiting beloved friends who I dared not hope to see so soon, after all they emigrated to the other side of the world. Normal people don’t get to go and visit.

I wanted to show my Mum and my Dad these pictures. I took video as well. It reminds me of a very early memory I have as a child, when my father showed us slides on a projector of his flight to Italy in an aeroplane, there were a lot of photographs of clouds. At the time I did not understand the magic of being above the clouds. But as I have grown up, it is something that I have grown to love. I have no fear of flying just anticipation and joy at the new things I get to see along the way.

As I did on the other flight at what looked like sunrise to me. I am utterly confused and have just witnessed the most beautiful sunset and have been basking in its glory. As I glanced out the window It looked just like God’s feet are sticking out from the heavens reminding us that he is higher still than we can even imagine. It is about 7.30pm wherever we are currently travelling past. Touched by it’s beauty I am overcome with emotion as this part of the world our sky is plunged into darkness. I feel totally alive. I hope that I never forget the feeling of being up here travelling at 37000 feet and cruising at almost 600 miles per hour. The sun as it breaks through some hours from now and the clouds again look like a swirling seascape of surf underneath us. Looking as though we are barely moving but being transported on cloud nine, my new experience has definitely begun. What a wonderful way to experience a rebirth, to recognise that the future is going to be different and better and fun and I will embrace whatever energy I have to experience whatever I am able to.

This is such a gift for which I will be forever grateful and indebted to he who loves me and decided that I should go now whilst I am still young enough to enjoy it.

In the words of Nina Simone which ring around my head “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good.”

We have reached the halfway point on this leg of the journey as we head onward past Jakarta and towards Australia and all the treasure that it holds.

Full Moon over Baghdad

There is something quite surreal to be looking out of the window of an aeroplane at 4.30am local time cruising at 41000 feet past Baghdad and seeing a beautiful full moon out of the window. Lights of an unknown landscape are scattered below me.

At times, it looks like we have somehow come to a halt in the sky, so it’s difficult to believe that we are actually travelling at almost 600 miles per hour.

I didn’t think for a minute when we booked the flight about the countries it would pass over on the way around the world. Bizarrely it didn’t even cross my mind, but as I look at the flight path and it takes me past so many areas that have appeared in the news over the past few years and months, it does get me thinking. But I am not worried, just thinking…

En route we have passed Germany, Belgrade, Budapest, Istanbul.

The awesomeness of this trip of a lifetime suddenly kicks in and I am feeling such gratitude for the opportunity that has been given to me.

I remembered that I thoroughly enjoy flying. The take off, being in the air, the views from the window. Where we I travel once I am on the plane all of the stress that I have felt in preparing for the trip, after the meltdown of finding the airline had cut the luggage allowance, once I had arrived at the airport is gone and but a memory.

As I continue to write we are flying on past Basrah. I don’t know what I expected to see through the clouds it looks just like any other area at night.

The world feels such a small place when you view things on the map and you remember people you have met and the places that they come from. I find myself thinking “ So I know someone from Tehran”, as though they live just up the road and I could pop in to see them.

Many years ago I had a boyfriend whose family were from Kuwait. Although I have never visited these places before, there is something that links me to them as I travel on this journey.

The hostess has just handed me a hot tortilla wrap. It was unexpectedly delicious. It is 2am at home and I wouldn’t normally eat a chickpea curry wrap at that time of the morning, or even anything similar to it but extenuating circumstances apply. Like that occasional naughty kebab on the way home after night outs in my youth.

So although I might body is starting to tire, I didn’t sleep much last night either due to last minute packing and excitement. But I dozed earlier and have awoken with renewed energy and enthusiasm at what else I will see on the next leg of the journey.

Between the snatched sleep I have been listening to Jazz and relaxing chill out tunes. Since my eyes are tired and dry I didn’t want to try and keep track of a fast moving screen with a movie if I was to have any hope of sleep.

I took a little walk around this level of the airbus earlier, since nice my hips were threatening cramp and realised that there were lots of empty seats, people camped out with legs sticking out of blankets everywhere and the poor tired baby who cried for the first two hours has finally gone to sleep. Alas I spoke too soon and the little one has started up again. It always makes me want to give them a cuddle and see if I can help. Sometimes I miss that connection from a past life as a babysitter and honorary auntie.

We have Dammam and Bahrain left on our way to Abu Dhabi and will arrive in about an hour from now. So far it’s been a lovely flight as it is just getting light and the scenery changes again we are blessed with the sunrise from the tail camera on the plane and a new day in this time zone at least. Welcome to March.

Such Excitement

Such excitement I can hardly breathe.

If you wish hard enough and do believe.

Then all the bad luck we’ll rearrange.

And things at last are going to change.

That it really will come right in the end.

Thanks to my dearest on whom I depend.

He’ll embrace my heart to follow my dreams,

To make things happen and set the scenes.

Of adventures to happen in this life,

After all the trouble and strife.

The trip of a lifetime, a far off place.

He’s there in my heart and back I’ll race.

To tell him of the places I’ve been,

And all of the wonders I have seen.

To share with my love my stories and cheer

Of all the new things that I hold dear.

Things that he pushed me to achieve

At times my aching heart will heave.

To not have him there right my my side

My hand to hold my journey to guide.

But even though he’s there at the start.

We’ll never feel we’re really apart.

To head off alone can fill me with dread,

But I’ll always hear his voice in my head.

To leave him here I do feel mean,

But he’s sending me off to fulfil a dream.

So when time is done and this Earth I leave.

My life lived and travelled I do believe.