Person in Progress

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

Not to put to fine a point on it, most of the last year or two has been toxic in alot of ways. It has not gone well, besieged by illness and tormented by the past and situations which I felt powerless to change.  But underneath it all, little did I realise that actually I was changing. We are ever changing and sometimes, it creeps up on us and whacks us over the head with the proverbial hammer. Sometimes it needs to.

I needed to change, so many things.  My self-destructive thinking, my approach to people always thinking that it was my job to make them like me and getting awfully disappointed and even upset if they didn’t. My attitude to myself and general way of thinking. I had to stop taking things so personally, but the trouble with being an empathetic soul means that unless you take time to protect yourself, then it feels as though it is all on you, your responsibility to make things better for others, to listen, to advise etc, etc. Sometimes it is just too much to cope with.

Then someone wonderful sat me down for a little talk, well actually a lot of talks over quite a long period of time. She told me that I was a nice person, (I have always tried to be) that I am loved and that people should be proud to know me and work with me, that I am an inspiration and encouragement to others and if they didn’t like me, then it was their problem and not mine.

That last bit, I have to admit was a bit of a thunderbolt. I don’t think that I was equipped to deal with it at the time, but it was nice to hear it.  But there it sat, at the back of my mind for months and months.  Slowly over time, I began to view myself differently, I looked at the things that I could do, the ways that I could help people and even in some small way, I decided that if people didn’t like me, then that was it. I wasn’t going to beat myself up trying.

This was a sign of a new me emerging.  I also found my usually reserved thoughts, creeping out, when someone made me angry, or sad, or hurt then I became vocal about it. I occasionally swore, whereas the previous me would have done almost anything to avoid this, I have become more like my siblings who don’t hide their emotions. It didn’t always make me nice to be around, but as time has gone by, I have been fighting invisible illnesses which people do not understand and trying to keep a brave face.  Sometimes the cracks show.

I have looked into myself, rediscovered my spirituality, things that make me tick, instincts which I have long neglected to follow, recognition of things that I know to be true.  I have looked at alternative ways to heal physical ailments. Having been let down by medics who are supposed to help, left out in the cold I decided that it was not good enough and would look at alternative therapies, return to reflexology and homeopathic remedies in the hope that it would start to make a difference and slowly it did. Little steps, bit by bit I began to change.

I have consciously tried to regain my confidence that had been ripped from me by the people who tore away at me. By the circumstances which have caused havoc in my life lately and by the grief caused by the loss of loved ones.

But, I am still the new me in progress. My eyes have been opened to so much in the past few months. The toxic people and relationships which I have had to sustain in the workplace just to get along, are gone along with the job. I have found that by having time to work things out in my head and realise people for what they were has given me a better understanding of their behaviour.

I miss working, in the normal sense but I now realise that I don’t have to accept their bad behaviour any more. Lately I have been concentrating on getting my health back to normal and I am still a way off. I am less trusting of people now. I no longer take them at face value, I watch for the signs, body language and follow my gut feeling. As someone who was watching my back once said, “if something looks too good to be true, it usually is” the same can be said for people.

The environments that I had been around had become toxic, there was bad feeling all around me and it was making me more and more sick. Those of you who have followed the blog for a while will notice that some of what had been happening, or had happened in the past has been mentioned sometimes at length and this has been part of the process of healing from it. Fixing my mental health along with my physical health and finally I feel as though I have turned a corner.

I took time out from the norm, actively encouraged, (well pushed and shoved kicking and screaming would be more apt) to go off and take some time out, to see friends not knowing how my health was going to be in the future it was arranged for now. I was also encouraged to do things which caused happiness and to get creative, which I have been busy doing for a while now. In conclusion it has been exactly what was needed.

So have I rebooted my system, for want of a better phrase?  I hope so. I think I am becoming a different person and it isn’t just about growing up and being an adult. Time changes us, situations change us, relationships change us, so we remain ever-changing, evolving into hopefully a new improved version of ourselves, before we get to grow old disgracefully, having the time of our lives, surrounded by loving people who will miss us when we are gone.

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When Loved Ones Revisit. 

I don’t know if you believe that loved ones who have moved on to another life visit you to remind you from time to time. I am a firm believer in this. The Robin who appears every day singing its little heart out on the hill whenever we are there. Who first appeared when we scattered some of Kato’s ashes in his favourite spot. It always comes to see us in front of the house, singing loudly to announce its arrival. This year it showed us its new baby, just as we did. We showed it ours and it returned daily whilst we were there. 
Yesterday was the year anniversary of my last accident. When a wonderful surgeon spent three hours stitching my face back together after going off duty. For which I will be eternally grateful. She did a wonderful job. Quite often you can barely make out the scars, the skin has healed very well. I am still working on the emotional ones. It takes time.

Then one year ago today we lost our beloved Kato. It broke our hearts a day we will never forget when we had to say Goodbye. We have been grieving for a year. Yesterday we were talking about him. We often do because we talk about most things and it helps us both. 

As we spoke of him suddenly we were joined in the garden by the most enormous and beautiful dragonfly we have ever seen it was four inches long and just as wide, you couldn’t miss it as it flew over us.

Now dragonflies are known as reminders of loved ones who have passed away.

The dragonfly swooped around in front of us both and swirled around our heads. Roki stood up and barked, which is unusual for him and went over to where it stopped to take a look. It landed on the honeysuckle right where Kato saved the baby bird by letting me know it had fallen from its nest and was trapped in the branches and made sure that I rescued it and set it free.

The dragonfly sat there for about five minutes. It was larger than life and close up it looked black and white with silvery wings. Of course it was. It embodied everything that Kato was in that sentence.

It made me quite emotional to see it. Touched by this thing of beauty. I went inside to get my phone to see if I could get a photo of it, it took a while to see it sitting there camouflaged in the bush but look closely on the middle of the bush as I did to get this photo and you will see it. After I spoke to it, it flew skywards. I prayed that it would have a safe journey and return to me. 

I am sharing with you again today my poem Butterflies and Dragonflies written last year, a short while after he passed away.

https://indiablue.co.uk/2016/09/03/butterflies-dragonflies/

In My Solitude.

 

(In My) Solitude.  A song that I have not heard for some time now it was on an album of  Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits which was given to me by my Great Uncle, when I was about thirteen years old and which I had cherished for many years.This song is one of my favourites from the album, which I would belt out singing in times gone by but I also find it slightly haunting when hearing it again, but have a love for it.  I think I was fortunate enough to make a cassette tape of it, but due to the damp in storage, too many things were ruined and so they were disposed of.

But I have been feeling pretty blue and it set me off thinking…

It also prompted me to write the following poem, my first in over a month.

In my solitude.

Oh Teddy you were so beautiful, it is plain to see.

It brings a lump to my throat to know that you are free.

And as my eyes fill with tears. I remember once again,

That in your face which I held near, you could not hide your pain.

But when we danced, around and round and laughter filled the air,

We sat upon the floor together as your paw stroked in my hair.

We often sat there thinking as your eyes gazed into mine

You were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and were simply divine.

My wonderful boy your expressions were just filled with love,

Remembering the times that you’d also cajole and shove.

I’m flicking through the photos that I will here keep on my phone.

I think of when we lost you and feel somehow alone.

In the flesh you are now gone, but in my mind you remain.

To not dwell in the past, I will try to refrain.

You fur kept as a keepsake, your ashes by the bed.

And as I say goodnight and rest my weary head.

I say goodnight to all of you, my safety there to keep.

And often think of you again, which always makes me weep.

The tears fall here again as I sit in solitude,

Thinking of the times we had and being so subdued.

The love that you gave to me, was second to none.

And as I hope to heal from loss, I’ve only just begun.

But now there is a new boy here to comfort me, he sits here at my feet.

The soppiest one whose staying near you’d ever hope to meet.

A loving boy we’ll cherish with a heart of gold

I hope he’ll stay with us for years till we all grow old.

Young Men aren’t supposed to Die.

 

A couple of days ago we said our final Goodbyes’ to my partner’s best friend Tommy. They had been in each other’s lives for over 40 years. So now my man is grieving again, for another lovely man like so many taken before his time.  I wrote this poem when he died.  His family did him proud though and gave him a nice service with wonderful tributes for a life well lived. He was a good man and a great friend to my partner and boy do we miss him.  This photograph was taken the day he died, from the slipway where he regularly launched his boat with his son and his friends, it is a special place. May he rest in peace now, but the memories and stories will live on.

Sometimes the sickness will deny,
But young men aren’t supposed to die.
The chance for them to fulfil their lives,
Not leave behind children and wives.
But what is young and what is old?
Who’s the one who’ll break the mould.
One with love, who’s heaven sent
A long and healthy life that’s meant.
Over the years he’d come to show
A friendship that would grow and grow.
So Dear Lord, hear my plea
Although from pain, this one’s now free.
But all along, much life to live,
For friends and family, love to give.
One dear friend who’d help the poor
In cherished memory, here no more.
I think of the extra time we’d happily buy,
Time spent to wonder, or understand why?
Taken from this life way too soon,
The light went out, an empty room.
They fought so hard to be the boss,
Left startled by such sudden loss.
So as I stop and loudly cry,
Young men aren’t supposed to die.

Never Underestimate It.

9/11/16

Never Underestimate It.

What’s that? I hear you ask….

The effect a dog can have to help you to heal.

I read some time ago about how dogs have helped with PTSD and Depression, I know that having Kato around at my darkest times was probably a lifesaver, even when my partner didn’t know what would help, Kato always seemed to. When my partner was in grief for the loss of his family members and no-one seemed to understand, our boy was there, by his side to get him through each day too. When I was unable to work and ill, he was there for me watching over me, watching over us both, he always knew when we weren’t well and would be especially vigilant until we were better. I will be eternally grateful to him for all that he gave us in his life, the love and support and loyalty. I daren’t hope that we could find that again, so soon after losing him.

I read an article about prisoners caring for shelter dogs, for veterans who feel that they have no-one. The power a dog has to rehabilitate a person is astounding. A transformation can take place in such a short time and the bond that forms is incomparable.

The trauma of the summer will heal in time. We needed the distraction of our trip, we both needed to take time out and think about what we wanted in our future. It was there up on the hill that we decided although we have each other and that is enough. The icing on the cake would be to share our hearts and space with a new furry person, one who needed a new start, for whatever reason. I said that we would know when we found the right one for us, but that we did not need to rush. He kept getting me to look, almost daily. Had he decided that it was time, was he right?

We looked, we made a few phonecalls, sent messages, almost going through the motions, but I didn’t know how we felt. He could not even meet a dog without tears forming, he missed him so much. His buddy, his friend, he felt lost. We missed everything about not having Kato around and it was eating us up. We talked about whether it would be too soon and how he may have felt about us sharing our love. We concluded that he would want us to be happy. Meanwhile no-one even responded to our messages or calls. We thought maybe it wasn’t meant to be after all, maybe we hadn’t found our one yet.

It was a Saturday night, we had our favourite lovely meal and a bottle of wine, he asked me to look, there had been no internet signal all evening, at about 1am, I tried to shut the computer down but there was suddenly a signal. I again looked at the dogs which were up for adoption and rehoming. We had been speaking to a rescue lady the day before, but there were some issues with the owners and he wasn’t sure. I found three dogs which I thought might suit us and called him to look at the pictures. Two of them were Black and White, which I gravitated towards, but this was not just a decision for me. My partner told me that he would prefer someone who did not remind him of our Kato. He wouldn’t want to make comparisons and the new one would have big paws to fill. They were all between 2 and 5 years old. We wanted someone who we would have a chance of a good few years with.

Then there was Rocky.
He was so different from Kato, a blonde bear. Sable & Cream with a smile full of puppy nonsense. He looked as though he had a sweet nature. Such things are important. We barely got any sleep and as I gave him the list of the three numbers. He rang only one. He spoke to the man who was giving him up. We asked if we could visit on the way back South, we asked all about him, all the things that we could think of that we might need to know. We made an arrangement to visit a week later and the man promised that we would be the first to see him.

As the week passed we kept thinking about him. I had saved the photographs to look at them. We anticipated our visit.
Exhausted we travelled back from Scotland had very little sleep and then called to confirm our visit. When we arrived some hours later, my partner wanted to meet him first. He said he wouldn’t get a look in once he had seen me. The man let Rocky in whilst he was upstairs. He came down minutes later to find me sitting on the floor with this beautiful dog sitting next to me, having his ears stroked. Rocky came over to say Hello to him and came back to me for more fuss.

We stayed for hours, he barely left my side, we took him for a walk in the park, off the lead, after all we were with his owner. We were thrilled that he was so good and did not react to other dogs other than to go and say hello and run off again. I was holding the lead so I called him back, he returned to me every time and I praised him. He walked by my side so nicely. We had all decided by the time we left that he would be coming to live with us. As we departed Rocky tried to get into our car to come with us, there and then we knew. Resistance was futile but I had to send him back to his owner, telling him that I would be back next week to see him again. We trusted our instincts when we met him, came home discussing him all the way, I think we’d found our new son.

I was on tenterhooks all week long, hoping that nothing would go wrong. We spoke midweek and all was set, we would have a meal with his family and then we would be bringing him home. When we arrived he was in the garden on a chain, it was pouring with rain and he was soaked. I asked why but did not get an answer and asked for a towel. When the rain died down a bit we all took him for a walk. Otherwise the evening was lovely.

He said his Goodbyes, we will stay in touch and Father and Son can come and visit him when they would like to. It was an eventful drive home, 80 miles with him talking and whining all the way, he wanted to be in the front and climb onto my lap. I could not fit in the back to comfort him, there wasn’t room for me in his bed and I didn’t want to invade his space. We showed him around his new home and garden he was thrilled, I gave him a new soft blanket, he took it into the lounge, we laid it out on the floor and I sat on it with him. He just wanted to be cuddled. We gave him lots to drink and when it was time for bed, we decided that he could sleep in the lounge. Access all areas except the bedroom. We slept with the door open so we could hear him. He layed down to sleep and did not cross the threshold until he needed to go out. But kept coming to the doorway to check on us, he was amazing.

In the morning, when we woke up, he came into the room to see us and climbed up to put his paws on my shoulder, giving me kisses and a hug. The best good morning a new mummy could hope for.

There will be learning, there will be things which test us no doubt, like the tantrum when we put his Halti on, but he settles down. He is after all an Alaskan Malamute and it is in their nature to test, but so far he is proving to be a wonderful addition to the family and our home, full of character and love.

Our healing has begun and so has his. We have been in limbo for a while as we grieved. He is still in our thoughts daily, but I no longer sob nightly at the thought of him, that stopped only days ago. We still speak to him and tell him about his new brother, we are sure that he would have loved him too. I am telling him about the daily nonsense, he would have kept him in check a big brother to watch him.

The little one whom we adopted just three days ago, who is full of love and affection and has already changed his life for the better since his arrival.
He has no desire to sleep in his basket we brought back with him. He would not even climb into it so it has been put away. He was pleased to get a new harness which didn’t make him itch and wears it with a smile. The soft bed was washed three times, but he will not lay on it, not even disguised under his new blanket. He has plenty to say, where he was quiet when we visited him. He is finding his voice. He wakes us up to say Hello and give us kisses but were told he wasn’t very kissy. He kisses me after I feed him to thank me and comes to tell us that he has eaten his meal, for praise. He follows us everywhere, it is early days maybe this is normal to have a new shadow. There is no rush to eat his food, he is not so hungry, no-one will remove it, the cat won’t eat it if he leaves it. It is still there for him. He eats when he is hungry, leaves it and returns to it later, tail wagging that it is still there. He is not hunting for treats all the time, the obsession with food is gone.
We didn’t change his name, just how it was spelled.
Ecstatic that he was given his first toy by his new Dad on the first morning when he awoke he proudly presents it to us many times throughout the day and is happy to share it with us whenever we ask. He will fetch it back and wait for it to be thrown. He will wait when asked to and has wonderful manners. He wants to play, night and day and is chasing his tail for the first time today, dancing around the room as I write this with plenty to say.

We are smiling again, big smiles which are right across our faces, there is laughter and merriment in our house, three days in a row for the first time in months. The light is back on we are all happy, so very happy to be parents again. There are no second thoughts, no doubt or did we do the right thing? We realised that this was meant to be when we sat shattered from the journey, to see my brand new sleeping furry son head on my lap with a beautiful smile, for him to be squarely between the two of us, comforted by the feet of his new Mum and Dad.

The Daily Post – Second Thoughts

 

 

Getting Creative Again- Making and Photographing Driftwood Sculptures.

26/10/16

img_2926Yesterday evening as the sun was setting we went for a drive to Largo. It was where we spent a lovely Christmas & New Year in a rented cottage after the roof came in up here.  I have fond memories of us all three, running along the beach. Kato skipping over the huge rocks like a mountain goat, when in other places he could trip on a pebble.  My partner and I hand in hand walking along the sand.

I have a photo I took of them when I wrote Happy New Year in the sand on the beach when the tide was out. Yesterday was different, I wrote a tribute to our Kato in the sand as the sun had gone down and the houses in the background were lit up like Christmas. We still walked hand in hand and combed the beach for driftwood.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I felt like being creative.

So this afternoon, with a couple of hours to spare, I decided that I would make beach combed sculptures. You know the type that rely upon gravity to hold them into place.  Inspired by the stone sculptures held together just by their position in river beds, with the water gushing past.

We have a wonderful brook alongside our house, my partner built it for me and lined it with stones, so that Kato could play safely in the water of what was once a mosquito infested ditch. It is now a pretty stream thanks to his efforts.

So I set about positioning the driftwood and a few beach pebbles that we collected yesterday, I also found a few interesting shells.

I wondered how I would leave them, but knew that I would have to photograph them.  The mantelpiece seemed like the perfect place.  It is a stained hardwood top with a rough plastered white painted chimney breast behind it, which I thought might make a good backdrop.  Unfortunately I didn’t do this until the evening, so the only light in here is from an overhead bulb which created some shadows which I wasn’t always grateful for.  However generally I was pleased with the end result.

The one thing that was unexpected was that it got the imagination going, I could the shapes like animals in the wood, an alligator, a sheep, a whale, a Dragon, can you see any of them too?

I thought I saw a wolf,  a man showing you something inside a hole and some strange sea creature.

I saw a strange lizard and there is a shell, which has almost worn away, which has a small pebble firmly lodged inside it.

I left the sand on the shells and the logs, the logs were still damp from the beach and were drying out when I brought them back.  I tried to Balance some and was intrigued by the wormholes.

This was my drift pile before I assembled them, pretty uninspiring and it’s surprising what you can do when you make the effort.

The photos below were just the same one piece of driftwood.

When I came to position the stones, I hung them precariously over the edge, they did not fall, I stood a family on the top, I imagined a mother, a father and a dog, at first it looked a little like the third person, but I repositioned it to better signify our family.

I looked at the father stone, a close up of this showed a mournful face, as though crying out. It signified to me the grief Kato’s Dad has experienced in the past three months since we lost him.

img_3110

It’s strange how the imagination can bring emotions to the fore.  As we have almost come to the end of our break here, we are not looking forward to returning South. It has been hard to be in our house without our Little Bear here in the flesh, remembering all of the things that previously we enjoyed as a family here.  But, we are planning things for our future however long or short that may be.  We are planning a future in Scotland.  More time spent with the friends we have made there, would be a blessing.  We have met some lovely people on this trip, spent time with old friends who have been pleased to see us and made some new ones along the way.

The Daily Post – Rearrange

The Nunight Song

For those of you who do not know, Nunight is slang for Goodnight.  In our house growing up we always used to say it, before heading off to bed and I carried on the tradition. Up until recently I used to play a particular piece of music for Kato and I to go to sleep to, it was Binaural music, intended to relax and sent both of us off into a calm and deep sleep in minutes although sometimes, we would play it twice.  I nicknamed it “The Nunight Song” he always knew when it was coming and would be snoring within minutes… I highly recommend it for peace and meditation if you have trouble getting into the right frame of mind and shutting all the other noise and thought out. I found mine via Mindvalley.com  Meanwhile, as we try to adjust almost two months later to the fact that he is no longer here, our days and our bedtime routine hasn’t got any easier and we miss him so much.

Nunight Sweet Pea, Our Darling Boy We love you xdscn4903

The Nunight Song…

As I play the Nunight song
And Daddy says he won’t be long.
Whilst I clamber on my bed
And say Goodnight to Little Ted.
I hope that I will feel you near,
As I wipe away another tear.
As time goes by and weeks have passed,
I wonder will the feeling last.
The one where every night to sleep
I lay my head and gently weep.
And feel the sadness of it all,
That you aren’t here to answer my call.
The raw emotion in my heart
As such huge loss, we are apart.
Until the day we meet once more
The Furry Son that I adore.
To see your fur, Black and White
Translucent shining, your eyes so bright.
To once again feel your kiss
And hold you close would be such bliss.