It’s my birthday at the weekend and i’ll be 59. I don’t feel old but I am having a crisis. I’ve been saying i’m going to retire for a few years now but kept saying yes to jobs and seemed to limp along. A bout of illness at the end of last year made the decision for me and I had to cancel work bookings. It’s definitely a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. I feel lost, invisible, isolated, guilty and am driving my long suffering husband to distraction. I want to be useful, I want to do something for charity, I need to be creative … my head is ‘a shed’ and I’m not sure where I go next.
This morning I received an e mail from someone I went to school with and haven’t seen for 40 years! They were so lovely about my book Learning Through a lens and had taken the time to contact me. You have no idea how much that helped me. It really did make a huge difference and made me determined to make sure I tell others how much I appreciate them.
So at the minute, I’m trying to turn my sewing into a productive hobby (very frustrating but rewarding), I’m investigating charity ideas and planning to spend my birthday with my two grandchildren at my great nephew’s 5th birthday party – how can you feel down when surrounded by so much joy x
Is Tommy favourite saying at the minute. He loves cardboard boxes and whenever he sees a large box he gleefully demands that you build him a house with it. Along with generations of children before him he is fascinated with cardboard boxes. He will climb in, on, under them, or failing that he will walk round with them on his head. A door cut in the side is fascinating to him.
In Shanghai last week the 3 year olds were no different. Playfully colouring in the inside with chalk and then climbing in ( I waited fearfully for the complaints about dusty uniforms from parents which thankfully never materialised) building cardboard cities with their own tower blocks, ariels and lights.
Children are the same the world over – imagination is priceless and cardboard boxes are free
It’s advent soon and I’ve nearly completed the advent sacks for Tommy and LJ. This isn’t my idea or even a new idea but it is lovely and I decided a bit of positivity was called for today.
Instead of chocolate I wrap up 24 different books and number them, then put them in a sack for my grandchildren to open one each day. It’s great that they love books, there is something so special about having a warm wriggly child snuggled next to you listening in awe or playing with the interactive books with a giggle. Seeing books as a treat and as something to associate spending time with someone you love is priceless.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune – I bought a pack of 10 books in TKMaxx this morning that had a RRP of over £60 for £12.99. I add a couple of Christmas books but many of the classic children’s books too. There is a special one for Christmas Eve, I includeda personalised one and a beautifully illustrated one from YSP last year.
Ps there are ideas on Pinterest if you want an alternate to using a sack.
Share your ideas for what books would be great in an advent sack?
The last few weeks have seen a lot of reflective thought. Mum’s dementia and death have made us all stop and re evaluate what is important.
What is important? What is It that defines us and makes us what we are? The values we hold now are rooted in our childhood and the values our children and grandchildren will have are rooted within us.
My grandson Tommy has been my inspiration this year. His constant smile and perseverance have spurred me on. I talk to him and promise that I will support him and make sure he is the best he can be. He makes me smile. I’m in awe of the fact that if he can’t reach something with his little arm he will use his feet. At only a year old he has learnt to cope with only one hand, he crawls, pulls himself up, balances objects and literally makes my heart melt when he strokes my arm with his little arm. He is fascinated by people and when out with him it takes me twice as long to do anything as he beams at complete strangers who then come to talk to us.
If you ask anyone about what makes a person special they will talk about personality and character – why then do we still judge by appearances, why are so many of us on diets bemoaning our shape and our cellulite?
My own grandmother always said ‘ a little bit of help is worth a lot of pity’ that from a women bringing up 7 children in a 3 bed roomed terraced house with no bathroom and an outdoor toilet – oh and her bitter, jilted great uncle living with them too ( he taught us all to swear, took up residence by the open fire, smoked a pipe and never ever removed his flat cap). No wonder she judged people by their response to and care for others. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard since her funeral when all 7 of her ‘children’ (then in their 60’s and 70’s) recounted tales of bath night and teasing dad who as the eldest got first go in the tin bath in front of the fire. When the lads talked of arguing who’s turn it was to empty uncle Ernest’s chamber pot (apparently one of his skills was to fill it to within a millimetre of the rim) tears were running down their faces as they laughed and remembered their childhood.
Values are talked about frequently in education. What values do we need to encourage and develop.
The Dalai Lama said ‘I have no religion, my religion is kindness’. We encountered such kindness during mum’s last week. It didn’t take much, a cup of coffee, a hug, a listening ear, an e mail, a regular text – all served as reminders that we weren’t on our own.
Today feels significant as it’s the first home match of the season. For the last couple of years that meant that either I or my brother had to go and sit with mum. If I’m painfully honest I dreaded it. It was like being stuck in mum’s frightening and frustrating world for several hours. The last time I did this was the week before I went to Kakuma which now feels a lifetime away. Dad is still struggling, life is very surreal at times – a phone call from my uncle with a message from mum via a medium, a first birthday party, the planning of holidays, taking flowers to a whole range of graves as mum’s ashes are in the same village cemetery as my son, her sister and her mum…and life goes on. Sunday is the anniversary of my eldest son’s death 28 years ago. At the time I couldn’t see a way forward and felt that I would never be happy again. I have friends who are suffering the loss of people close to them, I have friends who are celebrating- all I know is that kindness helps and we should never underestimate the power of friendship.
I spent the morning doing a ‘photo session’ for a local primary school in their foundation outdoor learning space. The children were delightful. They were happy, polite, friendly and self sufficient. I then spent the afternoon editing images from Kakuma refugee camp where the contrast could not be more marked. – We are all living our lives, due to a total random ‘accident of birth’ and we are the lucky ones. x