New Years resolutions….. full of hope for a new and better year…..
January, a time of hope, promises and resolutions, whether we say it out loud or quietly to ourselves….. a new year is always a source of contemplation. Before the year ends, we make promises that ‘in the new year’ we will do this, or that, give up this or that, be more healthy, change jobs, give more time to loved ones, give more time to ourselves, take up a new hobby, leave something or someone behind.
We go into the Christmas period with a measure of excitement and a measure of dread, for many and varying different reasons, and some can’t wait for it to be over, so that the ‘new year’ can begin and we can begin, afresh, renewed, awakened.
We look back and reflect and ask, what is it I want to do, to be, to have, to start to end, to give up etc etc. Some years may be the same thing as the previous year and we began with gusto, enthusiasm and motivation, only to dwindle, falter and be left with a sense of failure and nothing more than procrastination in that, next year, it will be different…..
Still, we look forward and we try. Does it matter that we may not complete and accomplish it, whatever ‘it’ may be? Isn’t it the ‘giving it a go’ that matters. Even if that ‘giving it a go’ is to just put one foot in front of the other and make our way downstairs and face another day.
For some people the previous year could have been so challenging, so devastating, so traumatic, that to just do that, go downstairs and flick on the kettle is the biggest achievement that they can muster, and isn’t that great! They did it, they made it, they didn’t give up.
When we pass people by in the street, in the shops, in our places of work, looking ‘put together’ and getting on with life, we assume that all is good, all is well with them. Of course they are all putting their best side out. We are all putting our best side out and for some, it is a real struggle.
So this January, no matter what your path, lets all be enthusiastic, that we made it. We can reflect, we can look forward, but lets not forget to be present, and to acknowledge our own unique achievements, no matter how big or small……
When the powerless is better than the powerful. When time stands still, perspective is key……
There is havoc, chaos and even tragedy in the storm, when the winds are so strong they have the power to knock tress down and knock power lines out too.
Last week storm Barra visited us and we had just moved in to our new home and we brought our grandson up with us for a few days.
This new house has not yet had the gas fire connected or the new gas hob so we were only left with the oil central heating for heat and the electric hob…… both of which do not work in a power outage.
So here we were in the midst of a powerful storm with no heat, no way to cook, no phone or wifi. ‘At least we have a roof over our head’ I said ‘and blankets, food and candles.
We lit so many candles that it created a nice bit of heat and we even tried to boil water to make tea from the candles. We succeeded but it did take nearly 3 hours!
The next day out we went to buy a camping stove and some battery operated lights. We stopped at the charity shop and bought some books for our grandson. One of which was a a book of Christmas Carrolls.
That night, for our entertainment we played the game, eye spy, followed by singing a few Christmas Carols and a game of ‘go fish’.
Had the power not gone, this would have been a missed opportunity. Like most people in today’s modern world, evenings are often spent in front of the TV. Our grandson loves the TV (just like his grandad!) and they both love to watch movies.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, it is good to spend time together, whether watching a movie at home or going to the cinema, but I just felt thankful that the power did go and that it wasn’t another night spent watching TV.
My grandson, really enjoyed the games and the singing, as did we. We all had a good laugh playing and guessing the eye spy so much that we didn’t even notice that there was no heating or all the other power filled luxuries that we are accustomed to.
To be powerless, as in having a power cut, can be beautiful. The stars in the sky shone brighter and the moon reflected in the windows and the chatter and laughter in the house was louder. It makes us more connected, more focused and more appreciative of the little things that matter more than all the other stuff. The lack of electricity brought us back, for a while, to a time when, that is how the world worked.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t like to be without power like in the ‘olden days’ all the time, but for just a while, it is not ‘just an inconvenience’, it can be beautiful, absolutely powerful to be power-less.
I took you to dinner that night We sat by the window A view of the river Lee flowing past A beautiful orchid and candle Central on the table I layed my napkin, carefully, thoughtfully, on my lap I hung my head a few seconds longer Composing myself Before looking at the chair opposite me Smiling, imagining you sitting there Knowing That sometime after dinner We would have our very last factime It would soon be time for you to go You were being called home To your eternal rest I had to prepare myself To face the reality That this was it And so, I took you to dinner And I stared at that chair Smiling at you, as though you were there
Toasted you, our friendship And told you I loved you forever I thanked you for being my friend I told you I was blessed to have met you
45 years wasn’t long enough I explained I would forever keep you with me I raised a glass to you I told you I was sad that you had to go But I understood it was time Acknowledged that you were tired And ready to go Told you how much you would be missed by us all But you already knew that You knew how special you were to us I didn’t want dinner to end I didn’t want any of it I wanted you here To be in that chair for real Laughing and chatting And being healthy and well I wanted that, more than anything And I know You did too…..
Sometimes we just have to let go, feel the fear and do it anyway. When we let go it is exciting, exhilarating and liberating
It’s nearly completion date and that can only mean one thing….. time to start packing and sorting and selling off/giving away what I no longer need, the ‘stuff’ that is surplus to requirements.
We all have it,’stuff’ even if we don’t mean to have it, but the ‘stuff’ piles up, in our homes, our cars, our bags, everywhere.
We accumulate over the years. We change our cars, our furniture, our decor and style, and our homes.
Now I am changing my home, yet again, but this time, for a smaller home. I have lived in small before.
When I first left home at age 16, I lived in a bedsit, tiny room, shared bathroom and shared kitchen. I owned very little, as it was furnished. I owned easily removable things, like my record player and records. Some pictures and a few ornaments.
Over the years my properties have got bigger and bigger and so has the amount of stuff and furniture. This one is the biggest, the one that I am about to leave. This one I designed, on a piece of paper, handed it to an architect and then proceeded to build it. From start to finish, it was my project, my taste, my style, my design.
It has housed my husband and I and our children for 23 years. We have fostered 13 children and have 4 grand children who have all walked the floors of this house, slammed the doors, laughed and cried within the walls and played out in the garden.
The decor has been changed numerous times. The rooms have been re organised many times and we have ran a couple of businesses from it over the years.
We have accumulated a lot of stuff in the process and now I have to undo the doing, because now, we are going smaller again, but big enough to still be a down size….
Will I miss my house? yes of course. Do I feel emotional about it? certainly, but the time is right for our next adventure.
The only thing is, most of my stuff is too big for the new house, or the wrong style. I have a very eclectic taste and I have some wonderful pieces of furniture, from Edwardian to Victorian to very modern.
When we decorate rooms we always feel better about them and are pleased with the changes we made, but eventually, we tire of it, well, I do anyway, and so we change it again.
We do the same with cars and clothes and they seem much easier to shed and to move on without any major emotional distress, right?
That is what I keep telling myself now, about shedding this house, and all we have done here, with all the aforementioned people that were here with us.
I keep telling myself, ‘it is just stuff, you take the memories with you’. But I do feel a little bit attached to some of the stuff too.
Then I think, but someone else can get the pleasure out of that beautiful piece of furniture and I can get excited about sourcing a new piece for my new house. I get a buzz from finding ‘nice things’. A new project, a new beginning, a new style, a new neighbourhood. Exciting, daunting, liberating, all at the same time.
The sorting and packing and picking and choosing, now that is the real dilemma, but it has to be done and so today I made a start.
I cannot tell you how many times I changed my mind about things, but then said, just let it go, like Anna, in Frozen, time to let go.
My pictures, my paintings, my bits and bobs, they can be easily packed. My books, now that is a different matter, I would nearly need a small van for those alone, I cannot let go of them quite so easy….
The procrastination has come to an end and the ‘sorting’ has begun. It is with mixed feelings, but ultimately, happy and excited ones about the change that we are heading into as we progress to our downsizing.
Were going from 6 beds to 4 beds from 3000 square feet to 1600 square feet and from an acre garden to a quarter acre and can finally get rid of the ride on lawn mower and cut down on the mowing!
I look forward to a smaller house to clean, to paint, to decorate, to garden in and to have new walks, new views, new people to meet, new places to discover, a new place to make and call home, for our family to come and visit and enjoy with us.
So it’s full steam ahead and on the home stretch now, into completing the transaction for our new home! Watch this space……….
Big boys don’t cry…… This to me is a damaging statement, because boys have feeling too and like us girls should be able to be free to express how they feel…. right?
I collected my grandson from school last week. He thought he was staying in after-school club because his mother was working, but I rang and told her that I would collect him early and bring him over to his aunts house, so he could see and play with his cousins. He hadn’t seen them in a few weeks as both my daughters have been busy with work and other commitments.
When he was in the car I asked him if he was surprised that he was being collected early and he said he was, because he thought he would have to stay in all day. He is only 6 years old, I might add. He also had to be dropped to school early for breakfast club, so that his mother could get to work on time, so it can be a long day for him.
As I looked at him through the rear view mirror, I thought he looked pale, tired and also he looked like he had been crying. I asked him if he had been crying to which he replied no. I said ‘oh you look tired, maybe that is it’. He confirmed yes he was a bit tired as he had been in school for breakfast club.
I asked him how he felt when the teacher told him that ‘nanny’ was collecting him early. He then said that he was happy and excited and that he remembers now that he did cry then, ‘happy tears’ and that he could feel the tears coming again now because we were going to see his cousins and he was happy about that.
This made me feel both happy and sad. I know lots and lots of working mothers have to avail of child care so they can work, before school and after school. I had to do it myself when my girls were little. It’s not easy to do, to juggle, but it is the life for many working mothers. I couldn’t help but feel sad a little because it is a long day for him. I also felt happy that he could express himself. He is very good at articulating what he thinks and feels.
I told him it was OK to cry, whether they are happy or sad tears, as that is the Emotion, he was feeling at that time. ‘What’s emotion’ he asked me, looking back at me in the mirror. I explained that when we feel happy or sad, angry, excited or frightened for example, our body reacts somehow to that emotion.
‘So when you were told you were leaving early you felt happy and excited and your body reacted by your eyes welling up and having happy tears. Likewise, sometimes when you feel angry, you might shout and your body might also want to slam a door, punch the pillow or throw the toy’ I said, eyeing him carefully in the mirror as we drove.
‘You might also cry because you feel angry because you are frustrated, same as when you feel sad and upset you may cry. That is your body’s way of dealing with the feeling and that is what ’emotion’ is.
I explained how the body also reacts when hungry, in that it lets us know by our tummy growing and rumbling, that it is your body telling you it needs food.
‘oh, he said, so sometimes I get ‘hangry’ when I want food and so does mammy’ he said, matter of fact. ‘ Yes I said, that’s right, when you are hungry you very well may get a little agitated and angry, because it’s your bodies way of saying ‘feed me’.
I explained that emotions are good to have as it helps people see or read how another person is feeling by the way the person looks or by the way a person is acting and that lets us help, if any help is needed.
I asked him to think of his mother and how that makes him feel. He closed his eyes, his face softened and he smiled saying ‘I love my mammy’ as he opened his eyes looking at me in the mirror.
See, that is emotion I said, and your face, your voice and your body all reacted to that feeling, so don’t be afraid to cry, whether happy or sad or angry tears because that is just your body reacting to your feeling and that shows other people how you are.
It made me think about boys and crying and how they are sometimes told ‘big boys don’t cry’ or man up as they get older, especially into their teen years. This in particular concerns me. Why is it viewed that it is OK for girls to cry, but not boys.
I am quite the feminist and all for strong independent women and for equality and parity , but I also believe it is OK for girls/women to cry, AND also for boys/men.
They say that women can ‘cope’ a lot better with life’s stresses because they talk to their female friends and ‘offload’ about how they are feeling. A problem shared and all that.
Shouldn’t we be teaching our boys that not only is it OK to cry, it is essential, so as not to suppress that natural emotion that they are feeling, for to do so, they are denying a fundamental biological process. If they denied themselves food, when they are hungry, they would starve.
With so many mental health problems, especially amongst young men, isn’t it crucial that, from a very young age, we not only say it is OK to cry, WHETHER happy or sad tears, but it is essential and normal, as it is the body’s way of dealing with the feeling?
I would hate to think that my grandsons, when they are going through the rigours of the teenage years, when they are trying to navigate puberty, emotions, fitting in and identity, that they would feel that they cannot openly cry, without fear of being called a ‘sissy’ a ‘girl’ a ‘whimp’ for example, by their peers. It makes me want to cry!
Why is is OK for girls and not boys? What is wrong with showing emotion. In my mind, it is a sign of strength, not weakness to be able to express oneself, in order to be true to oneself and to feel whole. To suppress any emotion is damaging and the last thing we want to do to ourselves, to our children, is to damage them, right?
So, I say to all the boys out there, when your body wants to cry, whether they are happy or sad tears, go ahead and cry the same as you would laugh, if you saw something funny, the same as you would feed your body, when it is hungry. Not only does it give you a release to cry, it allows someone close to you to try to help and share the burden/problem with you in the sad tears as well as the joy in the happy tears.
There is pure strength in being in touch with your feelings and in my mind any boy/man than can openly cry and express or try to express how he is feeling, is a man I would want in my life, because it lets me know he is honest, open and compassionate.
If anything I prefer dogs over cats. Having said that, I wouldn’t be cruel or leave them out. So what do you do with a stray???
We always had dogs, growing up, in our our house. Most of them your usual mongrel or mixed breed, whichever you prefer to call them. We loved them and they loved us.
When my eldest girl was 8 years old I promised her I would get her a dog. We were moving to Ireland and I intended to be home more, taking a part time job, instead of working full time. This would be a factor in getting a dog, so it wouldn’t be on its own all day.
We go a lovely mixed breed dog and called her Sally. Half sheep dog half collie and she looked like an old English Sheep dog. She was such a loyal and friendly dog and we had her for 10 years. It was pure heart break when she died. So much so I swore I would never get another.
People often say that after drinking too much and getting so drunk. They swear they will never touch the drink again. Like the drunk, with his self promised promises, I did indeed relent and get another dog a few years after Sally died.
This time it was at the begging of my other children (twins) who at the time were 14. We got a little miniature Yorkshire terrier and called her Indiana. She was cute. Not very smart, but cute and she was loved. Sadly, she came to a very sad end and was hit by a car after getting out of the drive. It was torture and we were all devastated…. again
‘Never again’ I said, and I meant it. It is too heartbreaking.
Again, I relented. A year or so after Indiana died, my eldest asked me if I would take a little west highland terrier, who would face certain death if I didn’t….. Well that isn’t blackmail….. much!
I took the said little Westie, Jack, and he too became part of the family and stole our hearts. He was 6 months old when we got him, but by the time he was 12, he was quite ill and deteriorated very quickly. We prepared ourselves to be heartbroken again. Indeed, we were. That was 15 months ago now, and I can categorically say, I will not have another dog. It is too too sad knowing, that they will pass before you and I don’t want to set myself up again for heartache. However, watch this space!
During the years of the dogs we have also been frequented by stray cats…. It started with the farmer at the bottom of our garden. He had cats, but they would wander down to us and of course, we began to feed them as they always seemed hungry and anyway, they are good to keep the mice and rats away.
After the farmer died the cats were taken by the WSPCA to be re-homed. However the odd stray would still come and hang around our house. As we live in the Country I would feed them as they are a good deterrent for the mice and rats.
Rusty has been coming to us now for a few years. We feed him daily and tend to his medical needs when he has gotten into a scrape, but he is feral and goes away after feeding, grateful for his daily nosh. Sometimes he hangs about in the yard, but he is a bit of a loner.
About 6 months ago or so, a black cat appeared. Quite a friendly cat with a lovely shiny coat. I advertised on all the local platforms trying to find its owner but to no avail. he would come, around the same time as Rusty and then off he would trot, back down the drive and to, well I am guessing, his own home.
Cats are like that aren’t they, they like to wander off.
Anyway, not only was he coming ‘at feeding time’, he would now push rusty out of the way and start eating his food. Well, I couldn’t have that, so reluctantly, I would also put a plate out for him. I couldn’t let him watch on, and not give him anything.
Black cat, affectionately named Blacky, how original, is cheeky though and if we leave open a window, will climb in and lay up on a bed or a sofa like he is King of the hill. What a cheek!
Rusty, wouldn’t have the same amount of cheek or nerve, he is far more ‘reserved’ and not so presumptuous or impertinent as Blacky.
This morning, I went to go out the door to feed them. Both of them on the step, waiting and the black cat, actually had the nerve to slap poor old rusty in the face to get him out of the way, so he could get the lion’s share. I was utterly gobsmacked!
Because of this I wrote a little ditty….. I hope you enjoy it!
I feed these cats
They are not my cats
But aside from that, which is a fact
I feed these cats
I don’t like cats
But they are good scare the rats
So I feed the cats
So they can do that
1st came the ginger one
Feral, shy, coy
I’m only grateful, that he is a boy
Takes his food then off he goes
To where I wonder,
Then came blacky
He is black
He is a more forward cat
He is not at all shy, not one little bit
In fact, I would say, he is a cheeky little git
He pushes in first when I open the door
Knocks rusty out the way
Hoping he will get more
He is quite a greedy black cat
I cannot say much more than that
Soon as he’s fed off he goes, strutting
Wagging his tail, and swaging his but
In all the style like a cat walk model
Unlike rusty with his old man waddle
Sits on the bench like he is the boss
Licking his fur and shakes off the dross
Sits all day, til he gets a more peckish
And scratches at the door like it’s some sort of fetish
I looked out once and guess what I saw
Roland rat scurrying on all fours
Blacky the cat, didn’t even blink an eye
Let old Roland just strut on by
Am I too soft or feeding these too much
Cos I’m sure it’s nature they should hunt their lunch
Off he goes not even a hissing sermon
Coming from the cat to this passing vermin
Rusty plods back late in the evening
Head hung low, as if he’s been grieving
Jumps up on the window sill
Patiently waiting for me to give in
Black cat though has no such reserve
Can’t even open a window, cos in he will swerve
He has no shame nor decent good manners
I do protest and I don’t mean with banners
I chase him out like a cat and mouse game
I’m sure he’s laughing cos he has no shame
He’s quite cunning that little black cat
But he won’t best me you can be sure of that
Rusty comes like a big drowned rat
When the heavens open, but I let this cat
Come in side and eat his grub
He seems so grateful and I give him a rub
Mr black cat I swear has a home
He’s Just so greedy he comes here to roam
Costing me a fortune, cos I couldn’t leave him out
When I’m buying all the cat food to share it about.
Making plans is all well and good, until life decides to throw you a curve ball…. that is a whole new story
Fail to plan, then plan to fail…. that is how the saying goes, right?
I have always lived by this motto, to a certain degree anyway. I always like to have a plan or a project, a goal to work towards. Whether it be skill based, knowledge based or pleasure based, like going on a nice little week-end away or holiday.
I like to keep evolving, growing and developing one way or another and I encourage those around me to do the same. At the same time, however, I like to be spontaneous, dive in, take a risk. Some you win, some you lose, but at least you tried.
I would rather fail by trying than regret that I didn’t try.
Years ago, my husband and I decided to try to invest. We had a lot of equity in our home and well, it was boom time, so we thought we would release some equity and buy another property abroad as an investment for our future and for our children.
Long story short, we handed over our cash to our Solicitor, who also happened to be the developer of the property we were buying. He is now very famous, here in Ireland. michael lynn, Solicitor, Developer, Gangster. He took our money and that was the last we saw of it. He did a runner with our money, the full purchase price of the ‘property’ we were buying, that of other ‘victims’ and lots of financial institutions.
We tried to be savvy, we thought we could invest in our future. We understood property value could go up or down and it was a risk we were willing to take. We thought we could trust a Solicitor. We were wrong. Having fled the country for a good few years, hiding from what he had done, he is now back, after being extradited from Brazil. I think he thought he was Johnny Briggs. He certainly seemed to want his notoriety.
That was a long time ago now, 2007, and we are still paying for that risk, but we survive. ‘We have our health, we have our home, the kids are healthy’ are what I said to my husband at the time it happened, ‘it’s only money’. We had both worked hard for what we have. I meant it. As difficult as it was to loose such a large amount of money and a picture of future we had envisioned, I had to look at what we still had.
‘Your health is your wealth’, is another saying and I would hear my parents say it all the time. They are right. If you have health, you have everything. No amount of money can replace it. Now of course, we expect, as we get older, for our health to let us down and fail us somewhat, so we have a responsibility to ourselves to not abuse our bodies with the wrong food or total lack of exercise.
We have a responsibility to not indulge in the excess. Everything in moderation, as it were. That includes stress. We all need a certain amount of stress, that is healthy, but stress in the excess, can cause untold damage to us and we may not even realise it, until it is too late.
So how do we know if we have too much stress. How do we know how much stress is healthy stress. Getting on with our day to day lives. Working, eating, relaxing, exercising, sleeping and repeat, over and over and over until one day, whilst doing this, you start to get aches and pains, you feel a little bit more sluggish. You want an extra 5 minutes in bed. Is that the time to say, enough is enough. I am over stressed.
Tell tell signs, are they always there? My husband had been feeling stressed lately, more so than usual at work especially, lots of pressures going on there. He felt so stressed he began to get chest pains, which lead to a doctor’s appointment, which lead to a hospital admission, which has lead to needing surgery, cardiac surgery. What a shock it has been for him, for me, for all who know him.
He is not yet even 60. We had made plans of what our future would look like when he retires. We hadn’t anticipated or bargained that he would ever suffer with poor health, not at this age. We thought we were clever. We thought that we had our plans for the future sorted and what we would do when he retired. He was planning on retiring a few years before retirement age, maybe 62. We thought that from that age and for the next 10 years after we would seek out an adventure and go travelling and/or trying living in another country for a while.
Having cardiac issues was not on our radar, at all. It is not predominant in his family history. His parents were in their 80’s before they needed any sort of health intervention. He is in his 50’s.
The moral of the story is, yes we can make plans and for the most part, we may be successful in executing them, but sometimes, we are thrown a curve ball and it knocks us off the path of the plan. Because of this, live life well, live in the moment, this moment, still take the risks, be spontaneous and be as healthy as you can be whilst living your day to day lives, but remember, take nothing for granted and while we are all busy working, making a living, making a better life for ourselves and our children, make sure we don’t neglect our health or put it on the back burner, because it really is our wealth.