Monday, 15 April 2019

Mid-life Crisis?

I'm not entirely sure what constitutes a mid-life crisis. 

Today, I have a birthday - yay, Happy Birthday to me. Techinically I am now considered "middle-aged" whatever that really means; I don't feel middle anything. 

According to Wikipedia it's "a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–64 years old". Hmmmm... I fall into this bracket (possibly) and in the past few years I've found a new confidence I never knew I had, I've gone (am going) through a transition of my identity - shit, it's happening, I'm having a mid-life crisis (although I can honestly say I always thought a crsis was a bad thing; I'm not getting that feeling). 

Maybe it's not that at all though, maybe it's something more than that. 

Could it be down to the "7 year cycle/itch?" (I'd link you to a source for it but there are so many with such different ranging theories I'll let you draw your own conclusion). I am literally at the very end of a 7 year period, fastly (way-too-fast) entering my next cycle. Looking back I can honestly say that a lot of my life changes have happened around the ends/beginnings of these cycles. Aged 7/8 (one ending, another beginning) wasn't all bad and life was good (as it can be for a girl who was being violently bullied on a daily basis). Aged 14/15 was the best times of my life (so far). 1985 (the year I turned 15) was the single best year I've ever experienced (odd though for that was also the year I first lost someone I loved a great day - my wonderful Nanny died just 4 days before my 15th birthday). 21/22 not quite so, but I was dealing with my Dad dying around this time so think I can be forgiven for it. Actually, the 28/29, 35/36 and 42/43 cycles weren't as good as they could have been, but I honestly can still see a pattern of change in my life and circumstances around these times. Here I am, now, on the edge of my next and my goodness the difference in me genuinely surprises me, and I'm the one living/experiencing it. At this exact moment-in-time I have never felt so in charge of my own life and destiny; I've never felt so empowered or so confident. I feel like I could take on the world. My whole mindset and attitude to every-single-aspect of life has changed. I'm about to enter my next cycle as the woman I always wanted to be, but was never brave enough to allow myself to be. It's a wonderful feeling, but I don't think it's the "itch" that's causing it. 

So, that strikes off a 'crisis' and 'itch'. What does that leave?

It's far more simple than any of the theories/ideas above (or the hundreds-of-thousands which can be found on the internet). No, I haven't found god!! It's to do with death - plain-and-simple. I am mortal, at some point (I don't plan on it occuring until I am at least 96) I am going to die. We are all going to die, and when I do I don't want to sit on that cloud with a single regret about how I have lived my life, and what I have/haven't done with it. 

I share my birthday with .... the Titanic sinking...!! Abraham Lincoln dying (both of these events began the evening before). The horrendous deaths at Hillsborough occured; 96 football fans out for a day in which they hoped to be singing on their way home, who never made it home. Then there were some pretty famous people born on the day - Leonardo Da Vinci, Adrian Cadbury (boy, do we owe him a word of "Thanks"; where would we be without Cadbury Buttons? Actually, my Nanny worked in the factory up in Brum back-in-the-day; she had a job thanks to him). Emma Thompson (who could ever forget the scene in Sense and Sensibility when Hugh Grant proposes - the Vicar of Dibley version is even better but the BBC have banned it from youtube). However, this year, on this day I turn 32 (ok, ok, I'm really turning 49 - yes. I know I don't look it which is why 32 sounds so much better!!).

Aside from how quickly my life has whizzed through to get to this point (I never understood older people telling me "as you get older the years fly by so make the most of them while you are young" until I hit 25... I totally believe and understand now) 49 is the age my Dad was when he died, and for some reason I cannot get my head around that. Not because I believe I am going to die (as I've said above I plan on making it to at least 96) but because I am still so young, have so much to live for, so much I want to do with my life, so many places I want to see. I've realised I've reached this point (age) and am living in the same way my Dad did (day-to-day) working all the hours I can, just to be able to afford to pay bills I don't really have much control over unless I sit in the dark and eat raw food. He planned on living until he was an old man; he planned on doing things with his life when he retired. He never got the chance; he died while still so full of life and promise. I don't want my life to end still working all the hours, still dreaming of doing things. That's why when I recieved the money I got at the end of last year, instead of paying off my debts (which I really should have done) I booked a cruise. It's on my bucket list, I'm ticking it off. My Dad never got the chance too (my best friend never either). I don't want someone else to complete it for me. It's my list, not theirs. 

I never thought something which happened 26 years (and 2 days) ago (still feels like yesterday) could have such a massive impact on my life now. A different decade, a different century, yet still affecting how I live my life; this time though, in a positive way. My Dad never made it to 50; not only will I make it, I shall celebrate it (when it arrives; not too quickly I hope for I have many things I wish to enjoy this year) and I shall look back on this phase of my life as one-of-the-best. I owe it to my Dad to live on for him; to go out and enjoy the life I have, for he never got the chance to.

Mid-life crisis? No. New Phase? Definitely. A way to honour my Dad? Abso-bloody-lutely. I  was dreading today arriving at first; figured it was going to be hard, yet when I awakened this morning it all made perfect sense to me. From this day forward I shall embrace life with all it throws at me (good (and bad)). We get one shot at it; this is not a dress rehearsal.


Monday, 1 April 2019

When one door closes

the next one slams shut in-your-face; the one after is not even worth trying, for someone else holds the key and it's double-locked with chains and-all-sorts. 

That's how I used to feel, what I used to believe when someone told me "Never worry; as one door closes, another one opens". Even Julie Andrews teased me with a version in the Sound of Music, although she had a window opening afterwards. I thought they all told lies; until yesterday, when I finally got what they were talking about. 

I have to go back, to get to the point I am trying to make - not that I am really making a point, at all, as such. I'm not even sure why I am writing this for I said I wasn't going to write any blog entries unless they were interesting, and this will be anything but interesting; however, there maybe someone out there right now who is being told about doors and windows, opening-and-closing who doesn't believe a word of it; they may come across this, read it, and see that even the most skeptical of us sooner-or-later understand what is meant. If I can help just one person among the billions on the planet, then my time sat here is not wasted. 

Those of you who know me, those of you who used to follow my previous blog (the one I deleted when I started again) will know that the past few years have been hard on me; 2017 being the toughest year of my life, by far - so far (I'm not naive enough to think there won't be a harder one further down the line). In the space of a few years I lost 5 of my closest friends. 1 died (so bloody inconsiderate of her for she was the best friend I've ever had). 2 were nasty bullies who I finally saw for the first time - for years I'd been blinkered to them and altough they were never friends to begin with until I finally saw them for who they really are I always believed they were. 1 was duped into believing the lies of one of the nasty ones; sadly she has mental health issues and he played her better than an irish man plays his fiddle. The other one gutted me a little, for I truly believed she was a good/kind person with a kind heart. To discover she was a liar who was only interested all the time I was of use to her, was a hard one to take. Turns out I wasn't the first to have fallen into her trap. Yes, I really was that much of a sucker in my past life. I let some real shit into my inner circle. Thankfully, I wisened up to them all (wish I'd have listened to my Mum sooner - wow is that woman an amazing judge of character? She sounded out every-single-one-of-them and got them all spot on; I have made a pact that in future if she tells me not to trust someone, or that they are no good, I'm going to believe her. She did warn me about another who is attached a friend last week, but I've had her number for a long time and have never trusted her - I can't be quite-so-stupid as I believed I was, after all!).

I'm not ashamed, or afraid, to admit that this-time-last year I had stockpiled enough paracetamol to end the pain I was feeling, and I really was in pain; sadly, that wasn't the first time I'd done such a thing either, although back then I'd spoken to someone and realised it was a stupid thing to be thinking. A pain unlike anything I had experienced before. I felt as though I was worthless; people had used-and-abused me my whole life. Bad things happened, and were followed by more bad things, which were followed by even worse things (first world problems not withstanding). How selfish is/was that of me? I have a charmed life compared to others throughout the world, but to me, at that time, in that moment, I questioned my very existance, figuring I was only here for the amusement of others. I know now, how wrong that was, that I allowed those people to use-and-abuse, and that I was the one who had to take control; take back the power I gave away to them in the first place. I did what had to be done, yet that still didn't stop the pain I was in. It didn't make me feel better. My dog being the final nail in my coffin (thank goodness it wasn't hammered tight, or I might not be here now). I have never felt so useless in my life as I did when it came to her. I was desperate to do whatever it ook to keep her alive. When I failed in my endeavour and had to have her murdered (none of this PTS bullshit; I paid a vet to kill her, and not even a nice vet) 47 years of crap crashed down on me that night, and it was only yesterday (some 15 months later) that I was able to look at photo's of her without feeling as though my heart had been ripped out; I even smiled as I watched some videos. I know I did all I could for her, that had I put her through the operation the vets were hard selling me (purely to make more money out of me - apparently £8000 wasn't enough for them) that I would have been doing it for my benefit only; yes, I would have prolonged her life for another 6,7, possibly 12 months but at what cost to her? I did the right thing and I know that now.

I had never felt so alone though, at-that-point. My friends had all gone, my dog had gone (my cat just 7 months before  - that's right; both my furbabies in one year) and while I had my Mum (she was struggling herself too), my brother, my number 1 and Nathan, all of whom checked up on me regularly (number 1 almost daily) I still felt so alone. I had to be strong for my Mum because she was suffering probably worse than I was, for the dog stayed at home with her each day) so I felt I was dealing with her grief more than my own at times. My brother and number one both have their own crap to deal with so I would try not to burden them, and Nathan isn't here; he is the one person on this planet I talk to about everything (and I mean literally everything, even the stuff you'd not normally discuss with a guy - he's such a big part of me life; has been for such a long a time, and will be for even longer) and while I spoke to him every-single-day, it wasn't the same - he wasn't/isnt here. At that point in my life, I felt like I had nothing, and nobody. I saw no reason for continuing. in fact, in January of last year I laid in bed one night (I was suffering with chicken pox at the time) and said out loud "fuck it; enough is enough. Take me. I'm ready to die" and I really was. How glad I am now that whoever is waiting for my time so they can come and take me, didn't pay any attention to me.

What made me really think yesterday, about doors, windows, opening and closing though, is how odd things have been since then; odd in a good way.

6 months after my dog died; 1 year after the last friend went, I got a letter from a company I had contacted almost 5 years previously, regarding a PPI claim. It had been refused; I took it to the ombudsman who told me I didn't have a hope (they did try for a couple of years to get me something - all to no avail). Then, this letter arrived, and with it the offer of a cheque (if I was willing accept it) for a lot of money. In fact, it was the almost exact amount I would have needed for the dog. Ironic? Had it arrived before I would have spent it all on my dog, and it would have all been for nothing (well, those few extra months, but it's pretty much certain she would have struggled/suffered during that time). 

I put that cheque into the bank; opened up a savings account and decided to use it to knock something off my "Bucket List" (this year I realise that I need to do these things while I can; my reasoning for that is a blog for another day though). There aren't many things on there, and the ones which are, are all visiting places (aside from one; I'd like to get married some day too). All 50 US states, Saltzburg, Berlin (and Auschwitz) and the Norweigian Fjords. So, guess what I did? That's right; I booked a cruise to the Fjords (and I don't even like boats; the thought of them sinking scares the crap out of me). Not a stateroom or anything; just a basic inside cabin, but we're not flash/fancy people. The simple things are what makes our world go around. I'm taking my Mum with me; when I think about how hard my life has been, I look at her and realise it's been nothing compared to hers. She's also the only parent I have (my Dad died 26 years ago) and I know how precious life is. I want to spend as much time with her and make as many memories with her as I can. Neither one of us will be here forever. So you see, as the door on my dog's life and past friendships closed, a new one opened up for me.

Had I still had my 'friend's in my life, I wouldn't have booked the cruise - well, not for Mum and I, atl least. I'd have ended up using it on trips with them; trips which would have been great to visit wherever we went, but would have made me bloody miserable because of how they treated me. All the things I might want to be doing in the places we visited would have been pushed to one side, whilst we did all the things they wanted, yet I would have been the one paying for it all. Now, I'm going where I want, when I want, with someone who might drive me crazy at times, but who has always put me (and my brother) before herself. At the time it happened I thought about how it was weird; like a door closing, and one finally opening. 

Yesterday though, everything really struck me. 

Not only did I lose those 'friends' and my furbabies, but towards the end of last year I also lost some members of my family. They weren't blood but they were as close to me as family should be. They became so because my own family had walked away from us many years ago - for reasons we never knew (or understood) until now. As a result I found a new family, but they were never mine to begin with and have told people they " don't speak" to me anymore and "want nothing" to do with me. Their perogative.

I understand, why. I called them out on their behaviour and lack of respect, in front of their older sister and her husband. Why they have chosen to cut her off too though, is anyone's guess. They know I will always be there for them if they ever choose to pick up the phone and ask me to be, but I will not put myself out for them anymore. It almost broke my heart to walk away, they were (still are) 2 of the most important people in my life, but they are adults now, free to choose their own path. The consequences of their actions are their own responsibility. All those morals and values their Mum tried to instill within them; gone. She would be devasted to see how things (and they) have turned out. She did what she thought was right (at-the-time) yet she got it so wrong. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as is hope, and I hold on to hope that there is still enough of her within them for them to realise what they've done, what they've lost, and they sort-it-out. Not for me, or their sister, but for themselves and the gorgeous little niece they have. They are missing out on so much because of it. They could be a part of something so much bigger.

However, as they closed the door, instead of the next one slamming in my face, it opened up, widely, and presented me with blood relations I had lost contact with. An older relation I had been extremely close too (looked up to, asmired, wanted to be like) and her family; her kids, who I've not seen for over 20 years, don't really know, but all of whom have welcomed us back into the family with the biggest of arms. The hugs have been amazing. I've gone from feeling so alone, with nobody in my life and the smallest circle of people, back to being part of a family. I spent 4 hours the other Saturday with my cousins daughter; she was 6 when I saw her last. She's never known me, never got to know me, yet the second we were in each other's company I felt as though I'd been present throughout her whole life. There was that ease you only get when you're with people who know you, as well as you know them. Reconnecting with them all is wonderful; we are still in the early stages but for the first time is such a very long time, I actually feel whole again (cheesy, I know but the only way I can describe it). I feel a contentedness I've not felt for a long time (not sure I've ever really felt it). I feel so positive about everything right now. Life is great, wonderful even. I believe anything is possible. I'm living, loving and very much enjoying. 

It's going to get better too, as I get to meet the rest of my family Stateside later this year. I am sure feeling blessed.

Of course, I am more-than-aware that things can come crashing down in a split-second, but until they do I am going to carry on enjoying and embracing, and knowing  if they do (for they may not; I might have finally made it to the top of that "wheel of fortune") there are now people in my life who genuinely care and who will be there for me, because of me; not because I have something they might want. 

Hey, even my shop door is opening more often these days too. Business is Blooming (yes, pun intended) and each day is opening up more possibilities - those lead to more doors opening to. 

It would appear, Julie Andrews, was right (almost - as someone who doesn't believe in any kind of god I'd have to point out it wasn't the lord opening and closing for her) :)

Thursday, 7 February 2019

On this day

8 years ago, at 8pm in the evening, my best friend left her house, walked over to my car (a renault megane coupe, 2ltr auto, in midnight blue) which was parked in a bay to the side of her house, got in, popped some Take That on the stereo and set about having a chat.

It was her Mum's birthday; the first one without her Mum who had died just 8 weeks before on Christmas Eve, after an extremely hard fought battle against cancer - my goodness she was one tough cookie who absolutely refused to give in. 

We both lit a ciggie, cranked the windows down a tadge (so we didn't choke to death - although not too far as it was pissing down with rain and only just above freezing on the temperature gauge) and for the whole length of smoking that ciggie we never said a word. I knew what she had to tell me, she knew what she wanted to tell me, yet neither of us could bring ourselves to mention it. Eventually she turned to me with a steely determined look in her eyes and said "I got the results; I have cervical cancer" and then she cried. I'll be honest, in that moment, at that time, I saw it only as an inconvenience. To me she was going to have treatment, fight it, win, and give it her all in the zimmer frame races along the seafront we'd always talked about when we both got to our 90's. It was a blip. Oh how wrong I was. 

She'd been married just 6 months at this point; I realised on the morning of her wedding she was making the biggest mistake of her life (and believe me, up until that point she'd made some pretty shocking ones previously) but she was determined to go through with it. Her Mum was dying and more-than-anything she wanted her Mum to see her walk down the aisle - sadly her Mum despised him, telling me she'd like to "chop his head off" however, who were we to tell her what to do with her life? 

I know full well that a fuck-up at the hospital is what ultimately sealed her fate, but he turned out to be the nastiest vile piece-of-shit I've ever encountered (and I'd dealt with his brother years before telling me he had lung cancer, asking me how my Dad had dealt with it when he had it; turns out he'd never had it and was using what I'd told him to fake his symptoms so he could garner sympathy (and possibly money) from sympathetic people - the whole family are nothing but scum). She would have fought harder, had it not been for him, and his blood sucking family. They are truly the dregs of society, but very clever manipulators; they even had 2 of her closest friends side with him when he was finally kicked out of the house. These are 2 people my best friend went out-of-her-way-for, neglecting her own self at times for both of them. Just days before she died they both broke her heart into a million tiny pieces, and all because of him. I only hope when just 6 months later and he moved his new fiance into my friends house (a house he forced her to sign over to him as she lay writhing in agony, dying on the living room floor in front of him) that they saw him for who he truly is. I hope they still carry that guilt and how they treated her within themselves every day; they do not deserve to have had one good nights sleep since they did-what-they-did to her (damn right I'm still bitter about it; they treated her worse than I would have treated him, and I wanted to slit his throat and cut him into tiny pieces). 

That day, the day she lay dying, is the day that her daughter finally had him removed from the house. We found out he'd taken control of my friends meds, was feeding her morphine like it was water and not because he was trying to end her suffering (at that point she'd still been very much able to get about and live her life) but because he wanted her dead. She was an inconvenience. He'd taken control of everything, mentally (and physically (I found out that night)) abusing her. He wore her down to a former shadow of herself. I visited her in hospital that night (thankfully a neighbour had let herself in, found him standing over her, watching her die and had called an ambulance). I'd only seen her a few days before but when I got to that hospital I walked right by her; I didn't even recognise my own best friend. The woman I had been through so much with over the 25 years we'd been friends, and I didn't even see her; that broke my heart, more-than-a-little bit.

Her daughter had already phoned me at work to let me know what was going on and to tell me she'd had him removed (every day she's made me feel proud of her for different things throughout her life, but that day, oh that day, my heart swelled with more pride than I could ever have imagined for her). She was the only one who could have done it (well, that's a lie, my besties brother could but he's the biggest waste-of-space on the planet - he even screwed her and her kids over the inheritance from their mother as his own sister lay dying; she really did not have much luck with the men in her life. In fact I think her brother is possibly even lower down the scum chain than her ex; her brother owed her everything and he took all he could get - and more). Her daughter phoning me was how I ready for him when he called me, less than 30 minutes after he'd been removed from the house (which sadly, was still in his name and his to take charge of once my friend died - he did this just 7 days later, turning up with all his family (he wasn't man enough to deal with a grieving 20 year old girl and had to take reinforcements with him - pathetic little creature) to kick her daughter out of her family home. He saw her out on the streets with nothing; he kept everything, including the single quilts from her younger brother and sister's bed (not really surprised by that though as it turns out he is also a paedo who likes little girls; I know, my friend really wasn't in the right place in her head when she hooked up with him)). 

He called to tell me what was going on, expecting me to side with him - I would never take anyones side over her daughter (she is my number 1) and he knows/knew that. He then said to me "well I'll have the last laugh; as her husband I'm her next-of-kin so get to organise her funeral. I'll make sure none of you know where and when it is, and I'll throw her ashes in a bin" to which I replied "I think you'll find we'll all have something to say about that and will make sure you don't get to organise it" to which he spat back "then I'll leave her rotting on a slab". Yes, that's the kind of man he was. Luckily we kept her death quiet and her daughter and another friend organised it all without any of us (her other friends) knowing the details until the last minute. I made all her flowers, with no idea what funeral directors she was in. This was done so that if we were contacted or hassled in any way, we could honestly say we knew nothing about it. A couple of people no longer talk to me because they were convinced I knew what was going on and was choosing not to tell them; no skin off my nose. In a way it was a good way of ridding myself of people I didn't want in my life to begin with.  Right up until the day she dies (and after as they didn't know she had at this point) his family sent her threatening and abusive messages.

Just 13 months after that night we sat in the car, I went down to her house for the last time to say my "goodbye". She died just a few hours before I got there on a sunny Monday afternoon. I'd spent the previous Saturday with her, we'd said all we needed to say to each other. We knew her time was limited, but I still never imagined that would be the last time we actually physically spoke (believe me, I talk to her all the time these days in a non-physical way). Not a single day passes when I don't miss her, especially as she is now a grandmother; how she would have loved her granddaughter. She would have been the best nanny any little girl could have asked for. I am still angry over how things played out, how she was treated, the mistakes that were made, and with her for not fighting harder, but I've learnt how to channel that anger and deal with it so that it doesn't eat me up (until days like today when it all bubbles to the surface again; it doesn't last long though, turning quickly to sadness, then back to me smiling as I remember the bloody crazy things we got up to). I know how proud she is of her eldest, but also how disappointed she would also be in her youngest 2 right now (they're going through some kind of phase, and are sadly influenced by their father way more than is good for them - she'd still love them (unconditionally), regardless, but they would be breaking her heart a little right now with their behaviour and she'd be kicking them into touch if she were here). 

She was definitely one-of-a-kind. The epitome of forgiveness (the shit her brother put her through and not once did she walk away from him) the kindest, most caring and considerate person I know (she was there for everyone, even those who had treated her badly) and quite possibly one of the funniest people to spend time around. The scrapes she got me into. It was always her fault - although she had a really clever knack of nobody ever believing it was her, therefore allowing me to take the blame, and she could not make a decent cup of tea for love-nor-money. She was so much more than just my best friend; she was my confidante, matchmaker (although she tended to stitch me up in that department too (with the exception of Louis; when it came to setting me and him up, she got it bang on)) and the woman who allowed me to experience the love that comes from being a parent. She knew I couldn't have kids and she willingly, without any exceptions to the rules, allowed me to share her children, to be a part of their lives; that was the greatest gift (sometimes a headache!!) anyone could have bestowed upon me. That's the person she was; kindness, compassion and warmth radiated from her. She made a difference to so many peoples lives, asked nothing in return and didn't even realise that she was doing it making her the most modest of human beings. We still had so many things we were meant to do, so much we were meant to share, so many experiences to enjoy. Damn right I miss her. Every single second, of every single day.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Social Media

Over a week ago now, I deleted my personal facebook account - I still have the one which connects to the shop (you have to have a profile to get a business page) however, that's not one which gets used for anything other than giving me access to the shops page. By delete, I mean I deactivated - this means I have no access to my facebook information and people on my friends list, but can still keep messenger, which is how my friends and family choose to communicate these days.

When I did it I thought I'd most likely last as long as the daylight hours and would be back on there before the next day, at the latest. To find myself now here, all this time later, still not on there is a feeling I'm not sure about, yet most definitely getting used to. I can honestly say "I've not missed it". Don't get me wrong, I've missed not seeing what some of my family are up to; I've missed the funny side of it, but that's a side that doesn't really get seen on there that often anymore anyway.

Why did I delete it? Good question.

I did it because I realised I had turned into one of those vacuous people (the self absorbed, up-my-own-arse narcissist from the "look at me, look at me" world; the irony of that when I (in real life and on the inside) am one who shies away from such things). I became someone who was sharing stuff just to be noticed; when people didn't click "Like" on something, I felt it as a personal dig at me, which is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things going, and not the kind of person I consider myself to be at all. It was when nobody liked a funny thing I shared (at least I thought it funny) it struck me that either they didn't like it, or they've just not bothered to click the bit where they get to see what I share and therefore, hadn't seen it. If they're not wanting to see my posts I don't know why they kept me on there in the first place. That was another thing I realised. I have people on my page because it's "the right thing to do". People I don't want on there; people I never speak to in real life unless they are somewhere I find myself. People I've never liked, yet there they are; all on there and I have them there because I accepted their friend request when they sent it (I'd certainly not have sent them one). Why they would send one is beyond me too, because they dislike me as much as I dislike them.

Messenger is really just-as-bad in a way; I sent a message to someone I've been meaning to catch up with over 20 days ago; I can see they were on less than 23 minutes ago, and yet they've not even bothered to open my message. I hate that because then I start to question "Why?" This person is someone I thought I was really close to. They've opened their messenger up every day (I know this because messenger tells me) yet not bothered to read the one from me. I have no problem with that in the grand-scheme-of-things; that's their perogative (I just can't be like that; wasn't brought up to ignore people) but I absolutely hate that side of social media. If someone like me (who has always been a very rational kind of person) can suddenly find myself questioning people, friends and my own self worth, then I can only imagine how someone with issues of that kind to begin with must feel.

I used to hear about how people said social media is bad for those with mental health issues and didn't understand how on earth it could be. I love how it lets me connect with my family overseas; I love being able to see what they are up to, how their kids are growing. I think that is an amazing part of it all, however, I do now understand what they mean when they say such things, because for every great part of it, there is an equal dark side to it.

There are the people who insist on sharing every single bloody timehop photo facebook throws at them; these photos were not interesting the first time around. There are those who only use their pages to share their politcal rants; there are the "Vaguebookers" who put up a status just for attention (it really does seem to turn the most rational people into narcissists). People from school who would do nothing but ignore you back then, suddenly deciding to add you as a friend. Why? They never spoke to me in school. I'm sure they do it to make themselves feel popular (again, falling into the narcissim trap) for they are the ones who also share how many friends they have. I've always kept that part private. There are the ones who constantly share photos, which are the same as the photos they've shared many times before. These are new photos, but could have been taken at any point over the past 10 years, because they always have the same people, in the same pose, in the same area, doing the same thing, and I am sure they share them only to show people how amazing they believe their lives. I have so many people on my FB whose status updates I no longer receive because they repeat the same stuff, day-in and day-out, yet I am just like that (not resharing stuff; I absolutely hate that and try to never share a similar picture to one I have shared before) but I have turned into one-of-those attention seekers, for that's all any of these people are.

I will go back; I have groups I belong to which I don't really want to give up and cannot find anywhere else. I have family on there who I want to keep in touch with and facebook really is the best way of doing so, however, when I do log back on it will be to delete anyone who isn't family or a close friend. I will make it so nobody can add me as a friend, and I will remind myself how much less stressful my life has been during this past week, without having to have everyone's dramas and opinions rammed in my face each day.

Yes, I understand now, I get it. Social media really is the devil-in-disguise, and a blessing at the same time. I just need to find the right balance; find my yin and yang.

Friday, 18 January 2019


My Nan, at the age of 52 married a guy of 27 (my Grandfather). The cradle snatcher nabbed herself a "toyboy". She lied to him about her age (nothing unusual for her - she lied about many things) telling him she was 42 - he didn't know until long after they were married that she was, in fact, 10 years older than she'd told him. This happened in 1965; she died in 2007 (or thereabouts; I can't quite remember. I didn't like her much) and they were still married the day she died (who says age-gap relationships don't last?).

Once I was old enough to understand the implications of the age difference, I remember being shocked and utterly disgusted at her. She was old enough to be his mother; comprehending what she must have been thinking, and how she could possibly hook up with a man so much younger than her was just not something I was able unable to fathom. As I've said, they lasted the test-of-time so it was obviously the right decision for them both.

To me, boyfriends were meant to be older - once old enough to embark on relationships I averaged a 4 year gap with mine (them being the higher end of age, and not the lower). This to me was the "right" way it should be. Anything else was just.....  wrong.  Then I met Louis!

I was 24 when I met him and believed him to be 22 (I got this info from friends and his own mother). He was a beautiful soul; inside-and-out. I know "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and so to some he would have appeared as plain, and not at all good-looking, but to me, I thought him very pleasing on the eye (when I first knew him he had long black hair, and the most gorgeous tan - I do like a man with long hair (as long as it's nice hair!)). By the time we hooked up he'd had it all cut, but this just emphasised his features even more. For 7 years we had the weirdest relationship I have ever had, will most likely ever had, and it was perfect-in-every-way for us both. He had the kindest, most honest heart of anyone I have ever known. My life changed forever the day he died. However, this isn't about sadness and heartbreak, this is about "Toyboys" for you see, I had a slight issue with him being 2 years younger than me, just not enough for it to stop me from spending my time with him. He knew, everyone who knew me knew, how I felt about older women dating younger men; this would be why nobody told me, that in fact the age gap between us was 6 years. He was just 18 when we met, 19 when we finally became a couple. I was mortified, but there was no way I was going to allow it to stop me from seeing him, and so I became "one-of-those" women. Patted on the back by some for hooking up with a 'youngling', scorned by others who felt the way I had always done before he came into my life.

I still didn't get my Nan though. 25 years difference! That was just plain wrong, and it still shocked me when I read about older women getting with younger men. Madonna being 10 years older than Guy Ritchie (although with Madonna you really do expect anything - she's since had a boyfriend 30 odd years younger (I definitely wasn't comfortable with that difference)). The film director Sam Taylor Wood was 41 when she started dating her husband, Aaron Johnson; he was 18. I had an issue with that too (had they both been 10 years older it would have been slightly different but I couldn't (still don't) understand why/how a woman over 40 could want to be with a teenage boy). They've been together 10 years and have several children though, so what do I know?. Both Sharon Stone and Susan Sarandon have dated men 30 years (and more) younger than them. I didn't get it. Until.......

Over Christmas I watched The Greatest Showman, saw Zac Efron for the first time, and thought to myself "well now, I'd let you make me breakfast in the morning. Turns out he's 17 years younger than me. I also rewatched the movie Dunkirk, really looked at Harry Styles for the first time, and thought "yeah, I get it; I can see what the young girls see in him". He's half my current age (24 years younger than me, and does very much remind me of Louis too, which is probably why I can see it). Now, I'm not saying I'd want him to make me breakfast in the morning, but a small part of me now gets these "Cougars" who hook up with younger men, and it's not because they are some sick paedo type female at all, and I don't think it is because they are trying to keep their youth, or make themselves feel younger.

I think the trouble is, that while our bodies age and our hair becomes greyer (way too quickly for me - I've had to give up on dyeing mine or I'd been doing it every-other-day (Embrace the grey)) our minds don't. I feel no different in my own mind now, to how I felt back when I first met Louis. I think we reach a point in our lives when we become 'fully grown' in our own minds, and once at that point we do not advance at the same rate as time. Let's face it, humans created time to help make life easier, and that's fine, it works well and keeps a certain order, but maybe that's not how it's meant to be. Maybe, I reached my point at the age of 25/26 and as such (in my mind, at least) haven't advanced past that age (except for the calendar and change of year tells me different).

It's similar to people who can't remember their age; I never understood that. How could you not know how old you are? I'd ask people and see them counting on their fingers, or asking what year it is so they could work it out. I assumed that was just because their minds were going a little bit. I know now, that's not true at all. Someone asked me for my age last year, and without thinking I came straight out with 33. I watched them write 33 down on their form and it was only when I saw the numbers I realised that wasn't correct. I then stood there (and just like the older people I'd seen as a youngling) used my fingers to count out my real age. My brain could not comprehend that 15 years had passed since I was last that age. Maybe that's the real age I reached my point, and not 25/25. Who knows? What I do know, is that I will never again judge someone (which was wrong of me in the first place) on any age gap they have between themselves and their spouse. As long as they are 2 consenting adults, then who am I (or is anyone else) to say whether it's right, or wrong?. As long as they make each other happy and hurt nobody else in the process what right have any of us to pass comment, or judge?. I certainly never thought I'd look at a man 17 years younger than me, and think "hmmm... yes please". The whole idea of that would make my stomach churn. I would put/twist it into a different context, and imagine being a 27 year old woman with a crush on a 10 year old. Sick on so many levels, but I wasn't a 27 year old looking at a 10 year old in that way, I was a 48 year old looking at a 31 year old.

Maybe my brother is right (he says it to wind me up for he knows too well there was no-love-lost between me and our Nan - I despised the woman) but maybe, just maybe, I really am more like my Nan that I thought. 

I'm off to get myself a date with a 55 year old now, just to put some balance, and restore some order back into my life - or will I? :) :)

I couldn't find a 'copyright free' photo of a cougar, so here's one of a tiger I took a few years ago :)

Monday, 7 January 2019

All of a tither

With the news that google+ is shutting down in less than 3 months, I find myself in a bit of a quandary for I share the rubbish I waffle on here, on there, and I get loads of people who pop along for a read (I know, I often wonder why too - my last post got almost 14000 reads; who are you people?). Now it's going I have no idea where to share to any more. 

I have my facebook (personal one) but let's face it, the people on there are my close friends and family who already know all there is to know and wouldn't bother to read this crap to begin with. I do have the public one (you'll find a link for it and all the other places I vacate on top of the main page, which can be found by Clicking Here ) but does anyone really click through on the links from facebook? How about Twitter and Tumblr, I have those too, however, I am unsure if they actually make a difference. I guess some of them must do. In fact I hear talk that Tumblr really is the blog to be using these days, so that then sets me another dilemma. Do I move away from google completely? Do I try to find another blog hosting program? I looked into Wordpress but it's expensive and nowhere near as user friendly as google, or do I stick with what I know for now, and hope another platform for sharing my crap will be released?

First World Problems, and all that :) 

One thing I do know I will most definitely be doing, is sitting in my garden, waiting for those little feathered creatures to pay me a visit. Photographing birds has become a bit of a new hobby for me; one I actually find myself sticking too. For 7 hours (yes, that's 7 hours) on New Years Eve, I sat in my back garden. The temperature was hovering around 4 above zero (there was a slight chill) but I was determined. The object of my attentions were the blue tits which keep whizzing above my head whilst I sit in the garden. I 'd taken a couple of photo's of them on Boxing Day, however, lack of sleep and a hangover, found me staring at some very blurred images, so I set out with a determination to get some in focus. I'm proud to tell you all.... I failed... hahaha. 

About 3 hours into it, 6 of the beautiful little blue things flew into a fir tree we have. I had the camera settings at what they needed to be; I had my longer lens on, and the focal point was perfection in itself. I lined it up to a bird sitting right on the edge of a branch; it was almost perfect. Just as my finger was about to hit the shutter button, so my neighbours crashed through their back door sending every single little feathered friend whizzing off in all different directions. I cannot tell you how pissed off I was, however, that's the joys of neighbours. By the time they came back it was beginning to get dark and every shot I took needed the use of photoshop to sort it out, and those of you who know me, know I refuse to mess about with my images. I went indoors that evening extremely chilled though, and in more-than-one-way (I couldn't actually feel my big toes anymore by the time I went in). 

New Years Day saw me with a list of jobs the length of my arm which needed completing, so I left the camera on it's tripod, still sitting within easy reach though; just-in-case.  I pottered about doing things in the garden, whilst my Mum was banging and crashing about in the garage (reason in itself for me not to have the camera set up :) ). Feeling the chill, I headed indoors to make us both a coffee. Just as I got to the garage area of our garden, something on the small fence between us and our neighbour caught my eye. I cannot tell you how excited I was to realise there was a Dunnock sitting there, minding it's own business. I wasn't excited just because these usually shy birds was happy to be so exposed, I was also excited as it was the very first time I had ever seen one. I managed to catch Mum's attention without scaring it off so she could have a nose, at which point she said "Why don't you go and get your camera?". I laughed, telling her "it will never still be there if I do" however, I had nothing to lose by trying, so I walked as slowly as I could down the garden; I didn't want to scare off our resident pigeon who was chowing down on some seed I'd put out earlier - he'll let you walk right up to him and not fly away, but he doesn't like loud noises and I knew if he took off, so would the Dunnock. I had to unclip my camera from the tripod, switch it on, set it up and get back up the garden (2 levels and 40 feet away) without him flying off. To find him still sitting there when I arrived was the very best start to 2019 for me). He even let me take a couple of photo's before a dog barked in a neighbours and he skitted off. 

I'm fully aware there are far better photographs, and shots of these lovely little creatures (before some of you - you know who you are - go and point out it's flaws) but to me, this is one of best photographs I've taken, and I am more-than-a-little chuffed with it. The only downside is that I now want to win the lottery even more so I can spend more time armed with my camera, looking for feathered creatures. Damn those numbers never matching the ones I choose :) This little bird though, he helped to start this year for me in a truly wonderful way; it can only get better from here-on-in. I hope it's started as wonderfully for each-and-everyone-of-you reading this, and continues to be throughout the year.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

My Zippity and Bippity

have got their doo dah and boo back - although, I'm not sure they were ever really connected to begin with (for me, at least).

I woke up the other morning, thankfully; I wasn't entirely sure at one point I was ever going to wake up again, as I'd rolled over in bed during the early hours of the morning; by rolling I mean I flung myself from one-side-to-the-other (something I am sure everyone has done at some point) and I  smacked my head so hard on the wall the other side (the joy of a small room) that I actually saw stars (and not the ones outside, behind the window). It's not the first time I have done that either, having done it in January while laid up with chicken pox (I know, at my age). That night though I am sure I did knock myself out, for I'd not slept in 3 days, and after banging my head (which really bloody hurt) I found myself coming too 7 hours later. It may just have been that I was so tired I nodded off, however, part of the reason I flung myself was out of pure frustration where I was so tired and yet still felt so wide awake. It was that week (the chicken pox week - which was more like 10 days than 7) when I first laid there and thought to myself "I really no longer care, if I live, or die". Never before had I felt that way; no matter how tough things were, within me there was a fighter who refused to give up, who had (still have) so many things in life she wanted to do, that she kept on going, determined to do those things. Death (and the thought of it) also scared the shit out of me, so there was no way I ever wanted it to happen. That night though, I honestly didn't care. If I'd not woken up I wouldn't have sat on my cloud and thought "ahh fuck it, I had so much more I wanted to do", I would have sat there and said "well, there you go; the pain and hurt finally ended". I think that was the moment I realised just how deep into myself I had gone, just how black the darkness which had been gradually creeping up on me my who life, had finally got. 

Like most people, there are 2 of me. The one the outside world sees, the one who is real. I should have been an actress; I'm damn sure I would have won awards because I am so good at letting people think they know everything about me, whilst I know they literally haven't got a clue. I share only what needs to be shared. I'm sure some people who know me may come across this at some point, may read it, and may sit there and say "holy shit; I never knew she was feeling that bad". That's because they either A) have never bothered to take the time to get to find out how I am, or what I am feeling, or B) because I have hidden it and covered it so well. There are things I share, and things I don't, and I can paint on a smile far better than any clown when I have to. I've been out the back at work before, sobbing to the point where I cannot breathe, yet the second a customer comes into the shop, I walk myself back through, paint the smile on and they would not have a clue.

Anyone who knows me, knows how I was bullied as a child, and well into adulthood - in fact, even this year I have still allowed people to (pressure me maybe, not so much bully, although there is a very fine line between the 2) make me feel as though I am not worthy, that I am just a thorn-in-their-side they tolerate, yet don't really want to be around. I've sat back and said nothing about things when in fact I should have shouted about them, but I kept quiet "because it's easier" and because I didn't want to upset or offend someone else. How sad is that? It was/is ok for those people to make me feel worthless, to upset me, yet god forbid I actually speak my mind and upset them. Yes, that's the world I have been living in. That's the world I've been allowing myself to live in; that's how I allowed people to treat me. What a waste of 30 years (ok, ok, I know I'm older than that, but cut me some slack!!).

I've experienced some things in my life that I would not wish upon anyone - including those in the past who have made me believe myself to be worthless, and those who thought it ok to smash my head against a concrete pillar, and worse. I figured those things happened because I was worthless, a nothing, a nobody; I deserved no better. From there, things then just seemed to escalate and I got so caught up in my own world of doom-and-gloom, I then believed all the bad things which happened in my life were because of how worthless (and useless - oh yes, I've felt like a useless being) I was. There's no denying that my Dad dying as he did, that Lou dying as he did, that Donna dying as she did, that Myrtle going through what she did, was hard on me (and they are only things which have happened in the past 25 years - the things before were equally as hard, however, they were my things, things that happened just to me, things that weren't shared with anyone) but DLD and M weren't just about me. Other people also suffered as a result of their losses far more than I, it's just that they were just the ones which hit me the hardest. It wasn't my fault those bad things happened (yes, I really did, (often) think it was all happening as some kind of punishment to me - what I believed I was being punished for I have no clue). They happened, because sometimes, life is fucking shit. We have no control over those things, and I think that makes them even harder, because, at the end-of-the-day, no matter what anyone else says, we all have a little "control freak" living inside of us. 

I never felt as though I fitted in, anywhere. For as far back as I can remember I always felt I wasn't worthy (even as a child, although I am sure back then I thought of it in a different way) and that I was the odd-one-out (that feeling I don't think will ever leave me, but I can accept it now, own it for what it is). I always felt as though I should be doing all I could to please people, or to be a better version of the person I am (I know I should have accepted myself for me - I am who-I-am, the best version I can be at all times). I grew up in a family with 3 older cousins, and 1 the same age. The constant comparison to them all (not by my parents I would like to add - they never compared me to anyone, accepting that I was the daughter they'd been blessed (burdoned I am sure at times) with) was blatantly obvious for even a blind man to see. I was the chubby one; I would cry at my size growing up (because I'd been bullied about it) and Mum would tell me that it was "Puppy fat" and I'd "grow out of it". She lied :) Not the only lie she told me - the best one being " a spider will never crawl on you because they have cold blood and you have warm". The shit I got from my Dad when I absolutely freaked out at having a big, black hairy spider crawling up my face was second-to-none; I so blame my Mum for that! She did it all because she loves me though, and I can never hold that against her - I do enjoy mentioning it though, every now-and-then :)

The cousins were all way more intelligent than I could even pretend to be (and as we've ascertained, I am a good actress, I could have pretended to a point). Because of this I was made to feel stupid, useless and inadequate, hearing often that I was 'never going to amount to anything' or that I wouldn't 'go far'. So, there I am, a kid of 4 or 5, feeling fat and stupid, all thanks to my peers and some nasty little kids at school. What's a fat, worthless, stupid kid to do? That's right; attract the very creatures who feed off such negativity, and that's how I found myself plunging deeper-and-deeper into a world I wanted no part of, yet had no clue how to get out of it (it's taken me until now to finally rid myself of those creatures). There were some kind ones who made it through and that's only because, like me, they were also being bullied and feeling in a similar way to how I felt. Some of them are now raging alcoholics, some (like me) still gorge on food which really does make you feel better at the time, until you catch sight of yourself in a mirror, or have to buy clothes another size bigger; that, then, adds to the circle you are caught up in, so you eat because you're depressed, but it's the eating which aids the depression in the first place. I also ate (I use the word 'ate' as I am currently on a health kick, that I know, for the first time in my life, I will succeed at) to hide myself away. Nobody pays attention to the fat person, unless it's to be mean or take the piss out of and I was used to that; it's a different kind of attention - yes, that is a lie in-a-way too because sometimes people do take notice of the "fat" one and use-and-abuse them in a different way; that's not something to be talking about on here though. 

I have allowed people into my life who should have been told to "go and do one" when I first realised how badly they were treating me, yet stupidly, I kept them around; I thought they were my friends. How crazy is that?

As a teenager I (mildly) self-harmed, not knowing at the time that's what I was doing. I'd take the ring-pull from a coke can (other fizzy drinks were available) and I'd snap it in half so that there were 2 jagged pieces and I'd use those to gouge the skin away from my fingernail beds, or carve into my arm, always making sure to cover it so that nobody could see; if anyone did notice I'd tell them I ripped the skin on a tree branch in the woods, or a thorn on a rose bush. Earlier this year, one of those gouges made an appearance on my wrist (I found that quite odd as I'd not seen any scarring for years). It reminded me of that girl though, and showed me how far I have come in life. The fact I am still here is testament to that; weird how it showed up this year. Even weirder is how it showed up just after I had reached the darkest time in my life. A time I never, ever thought I could reach. 

For a week earlier this year, I fell into a real "woe-is-me" point in life. I think a culmination of everything finally caught up with me. I got so angry with myself for feeling that way. At the end of the day what do I have to feel sorry for myself for? There are families whose kids are dying, slow, horrific deaths and there isn't a thing they can do about it. There are people sleeping under bridges and in doorways who have nothing, and no one in their lives. There are people being blown up in war torn countries; people like you and I, just trying to make it through each day. There are children being tortured and abused, teenagers being stabbed to death on a night out with their friends; people my age, fighting diseases which are ravaging their bodies and they know the outcome is not going to be good, yet still they fight. What the fuck did I have to feel sorry for myself about? What right did/do I have to feel sorry for myself, when compared to all of these people (and many millions more) I have lived an exceptionally charmed life?. I only need to look at my own number 1 to feel humbled, and ashamed of myself for allowing myself to wallow in self pity; what that girl has been through, is going through and will continue to go through I would not wish on my worst enemy, yet every day she gets up, she puts a smile on her face and she gets on with it. To me, she is inspirational; she has far more right when I could ever had to feel sorry for herself (and at times, she does; she is only human after all) but compared to her I have nothing to complain about at all. What kind of selfish, arrogant, narcissist was/am I still? With such an attitude as I had/have (I can't change who I am overnight) then I do deserve all I have dealt with. I have created the person I am today through my own self-loathing, and self-pity. It was during this week (the darkest one) I talked to my Mum about my funeral wishes, told her where my life insurance was kept, discussed what should happen with my bits-and-bobs should anything ever happen to me. I did it in a way that wouldn't have rung alarm bells (had they rung I would have known about it) and I sat back and worked out that it was time for me not to waste any more time feeling sorry for myself. I could not see any light through the trees, and so I told myself there was no point in me living on this planet any longer. It's shocking for me to admit to that; to know I had allowed myself to wallow in so much self pity I believed I should no longer be here. Thankfully, that part of me which has kept me on this planet all these years, that little fighter who lives somewhere deep within me, took me by the ears, shook me about (quite violently) slapped me around the head a few times and made me realise I don't want that. I don't want that at all. What I do want is to show everyone, prove to anyone who has ever doubted me, put me down, said I would never be able to do it, or achieve anything, that they are wrong. That I am good enough and that they are not, and were never, worthy of being welcomed into my life as they were.

In recent years I have rid myself of wastage; people who made me feel bad, people who were blatantly only being my friend for what they could get from me, people who make no effort whatsoever to see me, have been kicked-to-the-curb. It's meant I've found myself in a very lonely place, but I think that is a good thing, for that is what has helped me to finally wake-up. I've learned that for every person out there who doesn't want to spend time with me, there is another who does. I got/am so sick of always being the one to make the effort, getting nothing in response, that I have walked away from people I genuinely care about; I am worth more than that. I got to the point where I decided if someone wants into my life, then they are welcome (as long as they don't bully, try to manipulate or put me down). If they don't want in, that is fine. It is their choice and I wish them well in all they endeavour. We cannot force people into wanting to spend time with us, just as we must stop forcing ourselves to do what others want. I have a 3 strike rule because at the end of the day we are all human. I've had people send me a message, read it, gone to reply to it, got distracted and not given it another thought, until later when I get another message, and I'm like "ooh shit; my bad". I do then reply. I often contact people. who I can see have read the message, who don't reply. A while later (weeks/months) I may send another. The same thing can happen. The third time they don't bother, they go. It's pretty obvious they have no interest in me. I can take a hint!! Several people have been removed from my life over this Christmas period. People who've not bothered; if they can't be, then why should I be? I've spent my whole life giving; it's time for me to do some taking, and if that means other people's noses get put-out-of-joint in the process, then I'm afraid so-be-it. Maybe if they'd given a little more thought to my feelings in the past I'd not be cutting them out now. I'm done with putting others first (except My Mum for she will always come first, no matter what; I'd not be here if it wasn't for her) It's time to put me first, and other people are either in, or they are out. They no longer get to dictate my life. When I woke up smiling the other morning, I realised that my happiness is dependant on me, and only me. I hope some people want to stay in my life, but if they can't accept I may not always do things how they want it done, and that I will do what I want to do, then that is something they need to sort out. I will never set out to hurt anyone, or be mean to someone (that's just not in my nature and I know how it feels to be on the receiving end) but I will not let their misery, unwillingness and lack of thought for anyone but themselves ruin my day, my fun, or my time. If they don't want to join in, that is fine, just so long as they understand I'm doing it with, or without them. I've spent 48 years of my doing what others said I should do, behaving how others told me I should behave. I refuse to spend the next 48 being anyone's puppet. I am good enough, I always was. I only wish it hadn't taken me so long to realise it.

I used to keep copies of every message and email I received, partly because I would often forget what someone had told me and would need to go back, but mainly because there were certain people in my life who would say things, then twist what had either been replied, or said by me. I kept those to defend myself. What I realised when I 'awakened' was that it doesn't matter, they don't matter. If they have nothing better to do with their lives than stir up shit for others that is their problem; not mine. If the person they are spreading their shit to believes what they are being told, again, that is not my problem. I do not need to defend myself to anyone. As a result, all messages and emails have been deleted, except those which have info relating to travel or days out, which are needed for me to know what I'm doing and where I need to be at any one time. I know what I have/haven't said, or done, and to be honest what someone else thinks means absolutely nothing to me. If they want to believe bad of me, then they're not the kind of person I want in my life anyway. I even deleted the messages I'd kept that Donna and Louis had sent me; I figured it's time to let them go, let them rest. I have more than enough memories to remember them both by. My keeping hold of such things isn't going to change the outcome, it's not going to bring them back.

The past is what-it-is and while it has shaped me, I cannot allow it to define me. It's been, it's gone, it's over; I had no control over it, but what I do have the opportunity to shape my future. I cannot allow the past (or my inner kindness that always feels it should put other people first) to stop me from doing so. 

And so I find myself facing 2019 with an optimism, a gusto and an excitement I have never felt in my life. It's all kind of weird to me (and a little scary at times) but in such a great way.

I think I might even sit and make the time to write that book I've always promised myself I would write. Maybe, just maybe, I don't need to base it around my imagination; maybe I need to make it about life, real life, my life.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

You want to be a florist, huh?

2 things, on an almost daily basis, I hear in my shop; one slightly more than the other. The first one being "it will be a nice one, won't it?" (an alternative version of "make it nice" is grouped into the same bracket). I often reply "no, sorry, I only do bad stuff" - if I think the person saying it won't be offended (these days you can never be too careful). It's actually quite an insulting thing to say if you really sit and think about it. Good job we're thick skinned (this will be repeated in a different scenario further into this blog entry too). 

The 2nd is "Oh, I'd love your job. It must be so wonderful to 'PLAY' with flowers all day". One woman even said to me once "I wish I could just fiddle around enjoying my hobby all day for money". I'll be honest; I wanted to punch her. 

Yes, I have a great job (the best job) one of the most rewarding, but I promise each and every single one of you, 'Playing' with anything, is not part of my job remit. 

Let me explain.

This morning I've taken some photographs of my hands and forearms. I'd been at work for just over an hour when I took them and the first customer of the day said those words to me (the "I wish I was a florist" words). When I showed her my forearms, the look of shock on her face was one I would love to have recorded. At this point I had made only 2 holly wreaths - since then I have made another 3 dozen; I cannot share photos of how my hands and arms now look, for it may be distressing to some people to view. Each and every single red dot you can see, is where the sharp end of a piece of holly has burst a hole into my skin. The scratches were also caused by the ever-so-popular dark green, lethal plant.

The red dots on my left arm shown in the picture, are not part of my tattoo. Remember, these photo's were taken after making just TWO holly wreaths; I've made 38 in total now.

It's not all about this time of year though, about the holly stabbings and scrapings we deal with an on hourly basis - which by the way all have to be treated with antiseptic, just-in-case. It would take too long to constantly open up a tube of savlon, or germolene, so instead I have Surgical Spirit in a spray bottle, and after making a wreath, give my arms a spray. Try it sometime. Prick your finger, just one little prick, and then dab on some sugical spirit; then imagine you have a hundred of those pricks running up and down the inside of your arms, where the skin isn't quite so tough as your fingers. Welcome to the world of being a florist!! But hey, I'm just playing, right?

Of course, it's not always about this month, this time of year. Yes, this is particularly hard on our inner arms, but what about the rest of the year. Check out my gorgeous hand. I'm not a smoker, they are not yellow because of nicotine; they are that colour thanks to lilies and flower stems. Yes, that is spray paint on my hand. I spent 20 minutes last night with a nail brush scrubbing at my hand to get it off. In the end I saw blood, so had to stop; I'll try again later tonight to remove the rest. As for the ground in pollen and flower stem stains; well, they have to wait until I have enough time to soak my hands in bleach for an hour, to try and remove them. Still, I get to 'play' with pretty things all day, right?


So, how about the other stuff. How about the times I get to 'play' when I have people in the shop?

Let's take the man who was drunk the other week; to the point where he could barely stand. He thought it would be ok to pee on the plants I have out the front of the shop. He then came into the shop to tell me he'd done it, before throwing up on the floor and walking away. It's not the first time I've had that happen either, and this time of year the amount of alcohol fueled people through the door trebles; none of whom are customers either.

Then, there were the 2 guys a while back. It was one afternoon when I found myself alone; outside had been wet and miserable all day, so it was dark by 4pm. All the neighbouring businesses were shut. It was just me and in they came. Tall, well built, they towered over me. They somehow managed to position themselves one either side of me, blocking my way out of the shop, and my way to the workroom or office where there is a phone. I don't think I have ever felt so vulnerable in my life as I did that evening, especially when the one furthest into the shop picked up the scissors I had been using and started opening and closing them, while they both questioned me about what kind of day I'd had, how busy I had been and whether takings were good. Now, I am really lucky in that 99% of my business is card based. If I take £50 a week in cash that's a lot, and I did point this out to them, but that didn't make me feel any safer. The obviously (thankfully) believed me though, for they said they'd get back to me on what flowers they might be wanting, and then left. Still, at least I get to 'play'. 

How about the days when I'm not quite feeling it? Let's take the day I got a call from my best friend to tell me the guy that I most likely would have ended up married too, had been found dead that morning - he was just 26 years old. My boss was away, there was just me and the office girl at work. I had to carry on through that day, a 10 hour shift, wanting to be anywhere but where I was. I remember one particular guy coming in that day being a right twat going on about buying some roses for his girlfriend. I wanted so bad to tell him to "fuck off" but I couldn't do that. That would not have been acceptable, so I stood there, for over half-an-hour with him, thinking himself funny, when a big part of me had just died inside, and my heart had been ripped from my chest. Fast forward a few years, and the daughter of my best friend (the one who had called me that morning with the news) was calling me to tell my that very same friend, the one I had spent over 20 years laughing with, crying with, was going to have zimmer frame races with when we were 90, had just died - she was 42. My only thought in that moment was getting down to her children (20, 12 and 9) and as I was just about to lock the shop door a family arrived, wanting to order flowers for their 98 year old Nan's funeral. I stood, I served them, they were in bits, and I wanted to scream at them about how their Nan had at least lived her life, yet I couldn't; when in a florist you have to behave in a certain way. Just last year - the 23rd December to be exact - I found myself in bits. My much beloved dog had been put-to-sleep the evening before after I finished work (I'd lost my cat just 5 months earlier; 2017 was not a good year). That day I dealt with drunks, people wanting Diamonds for the price of glass; my arms were ripped to shreads so bad I was covered in plasters, I was knee deep in leaves and stems where I'd not had chance to tidy (it was exceptionally busy); there were orders still to be made up for the drivers to take, people coming in wanting things "now" and getting shitty with me because I didn't have time to stop and make what they wanted immediately (I can perform miracles, still struggle with the impossible)  and some woman said to me "I'd love your job; such an easy thing to just play around with flowers all day". I wanted to beat her to within an inch of her life, and I am not a violent person.

Thankfully, the day my Dad died I wasn't at work; however, I'd been there to take the call 18 months before telling me he'd just had a heart attack in a city 2 hours away. I had a boss back then though, and was lucky enough to have been able to leave and go up to him. 

How about these (see the photo below). These are pretty, aren't they? Surely, I got to 'play' thanks to those? That depends on your definition of the word 'play' because before I could make any of these, I had to deal with the grieving relations of the 2 year old little girl whose funeral they were organising the flowers for. Now, while some of you may then see me 'playing' whilst making the tributes up, to me all I could think about was how a family were in the deepest depths of grief and that I should never be having to make any tribute for such a little person. If that is me 'playing' to you then you seriously need to think about what kind of person you are. Roughly 50% of my daily life is dealing with families at the most vulnerable and emotional time of their lives. I've had people in the shop so consumed by their grief they have been literally breaking down and falling apart in front of me, yet there I am 'playing' away. 

I'd love to come into work, pick up a few flowers and play; how great would that be? In order for me to do that though, somebody else would have had to scrub all of the vases, top them up with water, empty them every-other-day and repeat the scrubbing/watering process. Someone else would have had to take each wrap of flowers, strip off every single leaf which will be below the water line, then cut them, place them in a vase, and rearrange them on the flower stand, each-and-every day. In order for me to 'play' someone else would have to answer the phone (one lady this morning talked for 7 minutes before I even got a chance to speak) sweep the floor (many, many, many times) and serve the customers who walk through the door. They'd also have to write the cards, keep social media up-to-date, and keep an eye the bag of stems and leaves which are slowly beginning to rot in the bin bag (composting spores can be quite hazardous) . Someone else will have had to counsel the grieving families who have been in to organise funeral flowers for their loved one and someone else will definitely have had to try and steer the local lady who has mental health issues and no understanding of acceptable boundaries, from getting up into the face of that grieving family before she can ask them "has someone died?" and "are you sad they are dead" usually followed by "how did they die?"

Will you be happy to spend 9/10/11/12-16 hours each day, 6/7 days per week, on your feet (which will be pretty much constantly soaking wet from all the water you are working with - you may, on occasion also need to wear support tights; not comfortable attire). Will you be happy to have hands so cold during the winter (there's no such thing as a heater in a florists) that you cut straight through your fingers and stab yours palms without realising you have done so until you start to notice there is blood dripping everywhere?. Will you be able to smile your way through serving a bigoted, racist homophobe, so he goes away thinking you genuinely like him (a florist has to deal with such things and smile sweetly; it takes 100 customers saying good things to earn you a new customer, but just 1 saying bad things to lose you 100 - believe me, 'sucking-it-up' is one of the hardest parts). Will you be able to put up with a Valentines Day (every person regardless of their job should have to do at least one Valentines Day in a florist - the respect we would suddenly earn would be priceless). Will you be able to stay professional at all times, whilst counseling a family through their grief?. Can you switch off your own emotions/feelings the second you walk through the shop door?. Can you cope with people constantly telling you how easy you have it? Will you be happy with people constantly telling you that you are "ripping them off" - a plumber or electrician charges you £80 just to come out to your house, before they've even done anything, whilst you, a florist (who has also trained for as long) is expected to work for nothing?. Will you be happy explaining (many, many times each day) the difference between supermarket flowers, and those from a florist (by-the-way - if the grower wants 20p per flower and the supermarket wants to pay 10p per flower, then the florist is charged 30p for the SAME flower, to make up the difference the grower has lost; that is why we have to be more expensive - we've paid three times as much). Will you be willing to tell a customer that the particular flower they ordered just the night before (which you never guaranteed in the first place) hasn't been available for the wholesaler to purchase which will then leave you subjected to all manner of abuse?. Will you be able to keep your calm, on one of the most stressful days of your personal life, while a bride emails you 32 times, asking you the exact same question just in different guises, when you have already explained to her (before she even began the emails) that the flower she wants, does not exist, at all, in the real world?.  If you are happy with all-of-the-above and willing to never drink a hot drink again, and don't mind leaves, spiders, worms and bits of stem in those cold drinks, then maybe, just maybe, you too could begin a life 'playing' with flowers.

Oh, and I do all of this (and so much more) for just 2.36 per hour. But hey, I get to play all day with flowers, right, and am out there making a fortune from my hobby?

Friday, 7 December 2018

Little Scrotes

A while back I made a decision to try and not let things anger me any more - at the end of the day all getting angry ends up doing is making me feel worse, and that's never a good thing. It also means the subject of your anger is beating you, and I prefer to not let people get away with beating me these days; the kinds of people who would anger me are also not worthy of my time and effort. However, I am still human, and there are times when things piss-me-off and last night was one of 'those' times. 

Like a lot of people in the world, I work bloody hard. I was taught "you don't get anything by doing nothing" - alas, that's not the case in this country and it seems those who choose to work hard get shit on from great heights, while the low lifes of the world who choose to scam the system and not work for their living end up getting everything - yes, there are some who can do both; I know of 2 people in the area I work in who claim to be single mothers (yet, in fact they have - and always have had - men living with them) who have thousands thrown at them each week in benefits, and they are also both running extremely successful businesses - 1 of them from home, the other from shop premises. Neither of these businesses are declared so they really do have the best-of-both-worlds (and to think my parents couldn't even get £20 a week to help with their mortgage as my Dad (who worked every day of his life from the age of 14 (as did my Mum too) lay dying). There are also those who are unable to work due to illness or disability; again, they get shit on. Honesty really does not pay in this country, but all that is by-the-by and a rant for another day. Today is about 2 little scrotes who believe it's ok to take what they want.

Yesterday, when I got to work someone pointed out to me that the business on the end of our small block had had the bottom window in their door smashed. Now, I'm going to be honest with you, I could have called the police (I actually dialled the number to call them) then I remembered they would be arriving at work in just over an hour, and that the other week they refused to take in a parcel for me, telling the postman "we have nothing to do with that devil whore" so I didn't go through with the call, instead thinking to myself "well, there you go, Karma has paid you a visit". Not very neighbourly, not very charitible, and not really the kind of person I am (or at least, the one I used to be). I did try to check our security cameras to see if they had picked up who might have done it, and to check whether they had made any attempt on my shop but at the time I was unable to connect to the camera server, so got hold of the IT guy who said he would check it for me; everything is accessed remotely and not stored anywhere in my building. 

Not having the footage stored on the premises turned out to be a good thing, for it means that if anything was to happen to the shop, the cameras would keep on rolling; which is exactly what they did. That is how at 8.30 last night I found myself staring at moving images of 2 little scrotes trying to break into my shop via the back door. The anger those images brought forth in me, took me by surprise. I was far beyond livid. Thankfully, they were unable to gain entry, but that hasn't stopped me from wanting to track them down and peel the skin from their bodies, layer-by-layer. How very dare they.

I've been running my own business for 12 years now. For the first 7 years I took off only 2 days each year (Christmas Day and Boxing day and even then I came in one Christmas day). In the past 5 years I do now take off at least one week each year, and try to take 2, but as a small business it's not easy to be able to close for a week to have a break. The shop is open for 47 hours each week, PLUS, I am there at least an hour earlier every single day to get that days orders made up before I open; I also work later a couple of evenings each week to keep the paperwork up together, and more-often-than-not am in on a Sunday prepping for funerals I may have the following week. On average I work a 65 hour week - this doesn't include the time I spend in the evenings replying to emails, messages and queries from customers, or the time I spend with brides. Now, do not ever get me wrong. I love my job, I love what I do, I am extremely lucky to be able to do what I do, but when I look at my bank account and see how much I am earning (less now than I was 30 years ago) to see some little scrotes try to break into my shop with the intention of stealing from me, when they are probably earning more in a day from sitting on their arses being little scrotes, makes my blood boil. How fucking dare they? 

I was lucky enough to be brought up in a really good area; sadly, in the past year (since our police station closed down) things have gone rapidly downhill. Every single day a different area of town seems to be hit. Houses are being burgled, businesses are being burgled, cars and bikes are being stolen, elderly people are being mugged, and so what does our government do about it? Cut down on the amount of police we have. This week they've been sitting in a large building, paid for by the tax payer; their food and drink is paid for by the tax payer; their wages per year (far more than I could earn in 2 decades) is paid for by the tax payer; their security staff, is paid for by the tax payer; the policemen and women who guard them are paid for by the tax payer (the same tax payer who no longer has a local police force to check they, and their property is ok) yet what does that tax payer get in return? A crime number when they've been attacked, broken into, or had something stolen. A crime number!! "Here you go, Miss Bradbury, have a crime number to take to your insurance company".  "I'm sorry you were mugged, Mrs Jones; grab a taxi to take you to hospital, and use this crime number to see if you can get back what was stolen from you". I see lots of things on the web about "Broken Britain" and now I understand exactly what they mean. 

While they (the government - themselves a huge drain on society, the biggest benefit scroungers of them all) debate a Brexit plan (do not even get me started on the total-and-uttter shambles they are making of that - what happened to this once 'Great' country I was born into? We are now a minnow in the pond of useless and a laughing stock to the rest of the world) in one area of London, on the very streets they may drive through later (when I say they, I mean the people who are paid (by the tax payer) to chauffeur them about) a young person may well have just been stabbed to death. Every single day there seems to be another story about a young person, a person with their whole life ahead of them, being needlessly stabbed on the streets in our capital. More scrotes with nothing better to do, who have been born into a society that allows you to just take what you want without having to do anything for it. I hear people say we should bring back National Service, but to be honest, I'd not want these little scrotes to be out there, looking out for me. We live in a society of self-entitled scrotes who wouldn't put themselves on the line for anyone but themselves. We (as a society) have allowed this to happen, and we are the only ones who can do anything about it, yet our government, who should be helping us to tackle the issues, are sitting in their warm building, eating their expensive food, washing it down with expensive champagne, while the rest of us struggle to make the ends meet, and watch having those ends stretched even further by little scrotes, because we have no police force left to tackle them, stop them, and deal with them. 

I don't blame the force at all (except the wanker who left me stranded on the motorway after I was hit by a 40 tonne lorry and had no way of getting home, instead having to sit on the hard shoulder for an hour in zero degree temperatures, with no coat - it had been in my car which got towed away where it was a total write off) they are under immense pressure and up against it on a daily basis. I can't even imagine the job they have to do and how frustrating it must be for them to try and do their job the way it should be done. I know a copper who retired early because he said when they were catching people 'red handed' the courts were throwing the cases out because there was either not enough evidence (apparently video footage of them committing a crime is not enough) or the pathetic sentences they could dish out weren't worth the effort and paperwork. How is that ever a good thing? How has it come to pass that a huge majority of the time, the criminal is treated bettter than the victim, because they have "human rights". I'm sorry, the split second you commit a crime against another person you should have no claim to any type of rights. I'm not saying we need to be draconian and start locking people up for jay walking, or some of the ridiculous things they were locked up for in yesteryear, but we damn well need to make sure anyone who commits a crime is punished, made to pay for it, and recieves no privileges whatsoever. Yes, I do believe in a 6x4 cell, with 3/4 to a cell, and the merest of rations. Jeez, some of the prisons we have over here are better than 5* hotels, and that is never right. I'm all for rehabilitation of some (it can work really successfully) but I also believe punishments and prisons, should act as a deterant. It's not going to stop all the crimes, but it would damn well make a lot of them think before they acted. What justice is there when a 96 year old man can be beat to death in his own home for the sake of £20. What will happen to the piece of scum - COWARD - who did such a thing if he's caught? He'll get some do gooder on his side bleeting on about how hard his life has been and get a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. My life has been hard, bloody hard, but I don't go around beating elderly people to death. My number 1 has had a horrendous life, yet does she go around stealing from people, beating up people? No, she gets off her arse every day (regardless of how sick she is herself dealing with her own incurable illness) and goes to work in her job as a nurse, helping other people. 

Things need to change in the UK, and they need to change fast, or we're just going to plunge deeper and deeper into a lawless filled society; we're supposed to have moved on from the "olden days" we're supposed to more "civilised" yet here I am, right here, right now, talking about how worse this country is than when I was a child, and how the scum and scrotes of the world seem to be living the life of reilly. It's not just this government to blame, but they are the ones currently in power, and they are the ones who need to implement the changes; the chances of that happening though are zero. They can't even agree on how to walk away from Europe, for fear of upsetting them all. We're being screwed from all angles and there is nobody willing, or brave enough, to take it on and make the changes that need to be made. I fear for this country; I used to be proud to be English, now I'm just ashamed for the people who make the decisions. The UK (I have to include all 4 countries because that's the "correct" way) is being dragged further-and-further into the abyss and if we're not careful, pretty soon there will be no coming back. 

"An english mans home is his castle" except when some little scrote decides he wants to enter it, walking away with whatever he wants. God forbid that castle owner tries to take justice into his own hands. How very dare he try to protect all he has worked for, saved for, and given up for, against some piece of pond scum who believes he's "entitled" to help himself to whatever he wants, for the full force of the law will come down upon that castle owner far quicker than it ever would on the scrote. I'm not afraid to put it out there; if someone entered my home without my permission I would do whatever it took to stop them taking whatever they wanted; if that meant they never walked, talked, or breathed again, then so-be-it; they won't have given thought to me, my feelings, or my life if they entered unlawfully, I'm damn sure I'm not going to worry about what happens to them. It's not often I agree with the USA and it's Second Amendment, but there are times I can't help wonder if I was able to purchase a gun, whether I would, or not? A few years ago I'd have said "not". Now though? It's definitely something I would consider, and I never thought I would hear myself say such a thing. I work hard, really hard, and I will not allow someone to take something I've worked my arse off for, so some lowlife scrote can come and take it for himself. I don't own a lot, but everything I do own, I've worked for. My business has taken over my life for the past 12 years; to see 2 scroty lowlifes trying to illegally enter it, to do god-knows-what and take whatever they could get their hands on (not there is much they could take) pisses me off. 

Damn right, I'm angry.