When…

all we are certain of is now….

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When the buds unravel and unfurl in their splendour

it’s time

when a heart skips a beat and you get lost in loves wonder

it’s time

when a mother first sees you and holds you in her arms

it’s time

when a loved one takes their last earthly mortal breath

it’s time

when the moon and stars shines light in the darkness

it’s time

when the sun’s warm embrace soothes and rests on your face

it’s time

when sadness, hurt and despair are choking and squeezing you

it’s time

and when faith and hope and love collide, and give reason and understanding, it gives power in the now, this hour, this second, this moment in time

it’s time to embrace and endure to look and to listen, to feel and to heal, respect and accept

it’s time

The Oscars…..

Not many of us expect to be talking about our ‘final wishes’ at a young age. That is usually for the very rich or the very old, who make provisions for what is to happen to them at ‘the end’. This pandemic may give us all a different view on that now.

I was thinking about the Oscars, I don’t know why, because I never watch them fully, but I do sometimes watch the edited highlights.  I watch as the camera pans to the celebrity that has been nominated, all of them tentatively smiling, looking coy or bashful, but hopeful that they will win the Oscar.  One of them will read the speech which they had prepared, in the hope that they might win.  So many potential speeches waiting to be read, full of thanks and praise for many, including their loved ones

We are currently going through a pandemic; this time it has the full attention of the world.  When it was the Bird Flu, or SARS or even Ebola, the whole world didn’t quite take note as they are now.  I myself, carried on as normal at that time, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I am sure there are many people who thought the way I did then.

This time it is a different story.  This time the virus is spreading like wildfire and like other viruses, it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, disability, marital status or religion.  This one is abiding by the Equality Act and each of us must take note.

We have all become accustomed, at this stage, to know what ‘Social distancing’ ‘wash your hands’ lockdown’ and PPE mean.   It has become part of our everyday dialect and vocabulary.  My 3-year-old beautiful grand-daughter calls it the ‘Virusy’ and wonders when it will go away so that she can give me a hug again.  How I long for it to be over now, so I can give her and my 3 other grandchildren a big squeezey hug.  I cannot answer her with certainty, no-one can.   Instead we have to ‘make do’ with the occasional ‘window visit’.

What I do know is that the longer people flout the rules and don’t engage in social distancing, washing hands, remaining in lockdown or having the required PPE, the longer this virus will dance with us and pick us off one by one and none of us will know for sure, if we will survive it. 

From healthcare workers to people on the street, Actors, models and even the UK Prime minster, young, old and in between people are contracting this virus and people are dying.  It’s like a lottery, people are chosen at random but there are no winners, only losers.  Sure lots of people will get over it and survive, but with what long lasting damage to their lungs?  Others, not so lucky to survive.

This brings me to the Oscars.  What if you get it?  You don’t know if you will survive it.   You have to be prepared.  You have to have your ‘speech’ ready.  You have to tell your loved ones, not only that you love them, that you will miss them, that you don’t want to leave them, you have to tell them what they have to do with you, if you do indeed, leave them. 

Some families only think about having to bury their elderly relatives, but this virus can take any of us and we need to let our families know, what and how we would like to happen to us at the end.  Whether that is to be cremated or buried.  Whether it is to be repatriated home if you live/work in another country or indeed which graveyard to be buried in.  Is this morbid, no I don’t think so.  It is necessary.  Not everyone has made a Will.  Talk to your loved ones, let them know what you would like to happen to you, ‘just in case’ you are the one. 

Write your closing speech.  Your speech of acceptance, in the event that it is you.  Write it in a letter.   Tell your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren, your friends.  Tell whomever is dear to you, what they mean to you, in your closing speech.  Be prepared.  You may never get this virus and the letter will then never have to be read out, just like the nominees at the Oscars, they go home with their unread speeches if they didn’t win.  You get to keep your letter if you are lucky enough to not contract this virus.

In the meantime, follow the rules to slow the spread and flatten the curve.  Keep our Healthcare workers as safe as possible, by staying home.  Allow them to not to have to be crushed by an overwhelming workload, in these extraordinary circumstances, and often, without the proper PPE.   Give them some respect.  If you do not stay home and follow the rules you are risking their lives as well as your own.  They already have enough of a burden to bear, being in the midst of this pandemic and watching people suffer and die on a daily basis.  Please do not add to their burden unnecessarily.

Take care, stay safe, stay home and give your ‘speech’ some thought as well as your wishes. 

To Judge

People say they are non-judgmental, but I think people judge all the time, if only for a while…

Judging……

My grandson turned 5 yesterday. He is a very clever, observant and smart boy. He is definitely in tune with his feelings too. The night before his birthday, he go very upset, thinking that once he was 5, he would no longer be able to do crafts or colour in pictures of spiderman etc as he would be too old. His mother reassured him that not only could he still do his crafts and colouring, but that he would get better and better at it and anything that he did, the older he gets. He was very reassured and of course, believed his mother.

I went to see him on his birthday, well to have a social distance visit with him so I could leave his birthday present in the garden for him. After thanking me, he proceeded to tell me that he been upset the night before his birthday because he thought that he would not be able to colour or craft once he was 5 but that his mammy told him that he would be able to and not only that, but that he would get better and better. I also reassured him that yes, that was the case and that I am now 55 and I can still paint, draw and make things and that I got better with age. He smiled and nodded.

We were both painting at my house about a month ago, I was doing an abstract. He told me that my painting looked like a child had done it! Now thinking back to our conversation yesterday, I am a little perturbed that when he smiled and nodded at me, he was being polite, thinking that by 55 I should be able to paint better than something that looked like a child had done it! I think he may have been judging me!

These are very different times which we live in, especially the last few weeks and it is having an impact on everyone, all ages, across the world. This sensitive 5 year old picks up on everything around him and he is alert to everything in his environment and the people around him.

Last week he and his mother were having a chat which lead to how he views the family around him and it goes something like this:-

Nana L – drinks tea

Grandad L drinks champagne

Nanny M smokes

Grandad J builds

Nanny C Judges (means bosses everyone) 🙂

Grandad K works all the time

Daddy drinks cans of boost

Mammy drinks milk (no I don’t) she says

Jess watches Netflix

Jake says cool stuff

Uncle D gives out to B every day!

Aunty S tells C not to tease

Little J goes to school

and S…. poos

Well, we did have a giggle. Out of the mouths of babes hey. Well me being Nanny C, I took a little time to reflect. Am I really ‘Judgey/ bossy’? Well, yes I guess I am. It’s not the first time and I don’t think it will be the last time that someone will say that to be honest

I Judge EVERYTHING, straight away, and I am not ashamed to admit it. However, I am not the only one. You do too! People like to say that they don’t judge but, we all do. You are judging this piece of writing right now. I first wrote this in a notepad in a beautiful leather bound case which I bought in a shop in Dingle. I judged it as soon as I saw it, thought it was beautiful and bought it. Others may have seen it and thought it was just OK or too expensive, that would be their judgement on it.

The dictionary definition of to judge is:-

to form an opinion or conclusion

We all form opinions everyday, from the weather to what to wear, eat or how people interact with each other etc, etc. The dictionary definition is to form an opinion OR conclusion, not necessarily both, at the same time. In my defense then, I would say that when I form an opinion I do not always come to a conclusion on something, that there is room for manoeuvre. For example, lets take the weather. I may say ‘I don’t think it will rain all day’. That is not a foregone conclusion, merely my opinion. A meteorologist may be able to put me right, given that she/he is more expert in the field of weather, but even experts sometimes get it wrong.

I mind this particular grandchild 3 days per week whilst his mother is at work and sometimes at the week end too, until she gets back from work. He spends a lot of time with me, in usual circumstances, at this moment he is locked in at home with his mammy and loving every minute of having her home! He has been known to call me mammy 2, in the absence of mammy 1, but mammy 1 is his absolute number 1 person in his life I might add. As much as I love him and my 3 other grandchildren, I am known to somewhat spoil them more than I did their mothers when they were little. That is a grandmother’s prerogative is it not? Having said that, I still have to ensure he is ‘fed and watered’ properly and nutritionally first. I also have to ensure he is ‘bathed and bed’ by a reasonable hour, so I can absolutely understand his view of me as being ‘bossy’.

Also, I still have two teens in the house and boy oh boy do they test my patience at times. My little 5 year old is often a vicarious party to the conversations which go on between us plus the fact that they often have to be coerced, encouraged and told what to do and how to do it by yours truly, moi! Hence, of course I am a bossy boots.

I would imagine he has taken in a great many of the conversations we have had regarding, teens, indulgent and otherwise, boys, clothes, and make up styles to name but a few. Make up, especially seems to be a regular topic in the house in that I see lots of people contouring their faces to within an inch of their lives. Making themselves look like drag queens with the over made up eyes, lips and enormous eyelashes, that a bird could build a nest in. Then of course, there are the eyebrows and the shiney noses. Who really in their right mind wants to look like Groucho Marx about the brows and Rudolph with the ‘shiney nose’. Girls, put down the high lighter and step away from the brow pack…. Dont you know you are to only enhance what you already have, not recreate it with a pencil! See there I go again with the judging.

I started this piece by saying my 5 year old grandson is a very clever, observant and smart boy. I have judged him correctly on this occasion, not only is that my opinion it is also my conclusion about him. I also observe that he too can be a little bossy at times….. he must take after his nanny C.

In conclusion, however, to his list, when I am no longer ‘actively’ parenting or childminding grandchildren, I propose to be more like grandad L, and drink Champagne…..

want to break free ?

from early on we strive to build friendships, work, build networks and build a home, but during all this ‘building’, do we ever feel overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed and then feel the need to break free?

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We are conditioned by nature to seek out relationships.  We are engineered by our environment as to the types of relationships we build, based on what and whom we are exposed to.  Some of us are born to our families and remain with them all of our formative years and maintain good relationships when we flee the nest.  Others do not get to stay with their family of origin but may still have some form of contact, or none whatsoever, depending on the circumstances and the circumstances can be many and varied.  We are shaped by the people around us, parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends.  We learn from each other.  We build and we adapt, depending on whom we are with and what we are doing.  We often ‘go along with things’ so as not to stick out, be the odd one out, rock the boat.  To keep the peace is often the easier option. We may surpress what we really feel and deny ourselves the opportunity to be honest and open.  To do so could offend, incite an argument, evoke scrutiny that we may not wish to recall or simply we may think it is kinder to not be honest in certain situations.  After all, we all have different tastes, ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, and that is fine.

Sometimes though, it can all become too much.  We are but one person.  In order to survive we NEED others, we NEED  relationships.  We need to love and be loved, to feel value and give another person a sense of value.   We need relationships on some level, for us to feel full and complete.  This can lead us to feeling good, yet overwhelmed.  As the saying goes, ‘we cannot please all of the people all of the time’.  One person, whether a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a child, we must ‘interact’.  It is in the interacting with all of the people in our circle and indeed outside of our circle that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed.  We can deny ourselves so much and so often, that we don’t even realise that we are denying ourselves.   It can become a way of life, a habit, and habits are easy to form yet difficult to break.

Like an animal, taken from the wild and placed in a zoo,  it can adapt to his new surroundings.  He will be fed, exposed to company, given somewhere to live, given the basic things needed to survive, but, will he be happy, all of the time or for that matter, any of the time.  Yet he stays, no option but to stay, he is so tightly monitored and guarded that his existence is secured.  He learns to adapt to his new way of life, but may still yearn for his former life, for his independence.    His offspring born in this new habitat will no nothing of the wild as they would have been born to this habitat and will not know any different….. but what is their instinct.  They may not know how to hunt, how to take care of themselves, how to survive in the wild, but perhaps they have a desire to find out.  Perhaps they have a desire to break free, perhaps their instinct is engrained in their DNA.

We are the same.  We were born into our surroundings, guided, nurtured, ensuring or needs were met.  We conform to the rules of our environment and of our society.   We built friendships, relationships, homes and families of our own.  Some of it is easy, some of it is difficult, but still we strive.  However, there comes a time, often more than once, that we may want to’ break free’.   Not necessarily forever, maybe just for a day or a week or even a few hours.  We need to break free for our sanity, for us to be us, the person we were born to be, not the person someone expects us to be.  For a short time we need to take care of us, we need to take the time to be free, to recharge, re-energise, reflect and reconnect, if we so choose.  We have to NOT deny ourselves of what we want or need. We need to practice self care, in order that we can fulfill and continue to be part of all the other relationships that we encounter and are party to.  We need to go and find something, a place, a thing, a journey, whatever it takes, but we need to find our joy,  our peace, our inner calm and ourselves.  If that means you need to break free, then break free, just do it – you need to love and have a relationship with you!

 

Picture authors own taken at Fota Wildlife Park.

 

 

Moving ?

A time comes in our lives when, at some stage, most of us move home. For others we move many times, which can be very moving

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There are many different reasons why people move.   To leave home, to move in with friends, to move in with partners, to move to a bigger house, to downsize, to move into a residential home, to move in with foster families, even to move onto the streets.  Some of it is planned, some of it is circumstantial and beyond control, but whatever the reason, there is an impact – good, bad or indifferent.

I am hoping to move, to downsize, to sell my family home and I have no idea where I will buy, yet!   I feel that the time is right.  I feel there is a new beginning waiting for me and I want to explore it.  Some could say its a mid life crises, others will say it is risky or selfish and some may say it’s brave.  whatever it is, it is my choice to make and therefore my consequence to to accept.

This garden of mine was nothing but a field 19 years ago and together, my husband and I build a home, literally.  We sourced and ordered materials, tradesmen and craftsmen and mucked in ourselves and assisted in the building of our house.  We planted every tree, every shrub and bulb that have now created a beautiful mature garden.  There are oaks, beech, laurel, italian alder, cordyline, magnolia, lilac, phormium, scotts pine, apple, pear, dogwood and many more trees and plants in our garden.

I particularly like this time of year when the bulbs are poking through and out pop the lovely daffodils, the crocus, the hyacinth and peony.    From my kitchen window, as I look down the garden, it is bursting with colour in amongst the fiery red dogwood and it makes me smile.  Soon the forsythia and cherry blossom will show off in the front garden and give a spectacular display and year after year, it never disappoints.

Not only did we grow build a beautiful home and grow and a lovely garden, we grew a family and it has been home to many more children, other than our own.  The walls of this house have seen and heard alot, of tears and laughter, of joy and sadness, of hello’s and goodbyes of ups and downs.  It is only 19 years old, but it holds a great history of all those that have lived here.  All but two of them have moved on to their own homes, their own journeys, but not necessarily their final destinations.  This is not my final destination either and I don’t think my next move will be either.

Will it be moving (as in the emotional sense) ?  Yes of course, there are so many memories here, from the laying of the foundations to  the erecting of the boundary fence. The nurturing of the children and grandchildren and watching them grow.  However, the foundations we laid in them, is far more important and powerful and  the boundaries of memories, know no bounds, so will stay with us all, no matter where we are.

I hope therefore, whomever buys my home, will love it as much as the love that went into it and be happy here.   For me, it has served it purpose and it is time for me to try something else new.  To lay some new foundations and plant a new life, with all my memories tucked safely away and  where some new memories will be made.  Whether I am crazy, or selfish, taking a risk or being brave, it matters not, what matters is that I am moving, moving forward and exploring the next stage of this thing called Life !

 

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Photo by Vicky Tran on Pexels.com

 

Do you Smoke?

Going for a check up ‘down there’ is never a pleasant experience and always embarrassing, but unfortunately it is necessary….

 

 

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

We have had a terrible amount of tragedy here in Ireland in relation to the Cervical Smear Scandal.   Tragedies, which could have and should have been avoided.  Women who have or are dying of cervical cancer, which needn’t have and shouldn’t have.  Human error.  Human mistake.  It has and is costing lives.  Taking women away from their families, husbands, children, friends, THEIR life,  THEIR  future.

If anything has come out of the ‘massive blunder’, it is that more women are heading to their G.P surgery for the dreaded smear test.  Others are still waiting in anxious anticipation that their results will be good news.   My own adult children have attended recently to get their smear test done.  There is a 5 MONTH wait on expected results.  That is a long long time to be worried, particularly if you have any sort of ‘symptoms’ going on ‘down there’

Symptoms can include, spotting, soreness, painful intercourse, increased discharge, unexplained back pain…….  My personal experience, years ago, when I did indeed have ‘symptoms’ and begged for a smear, was told I was too young.  Too Young….    I was 23.    I was planning my wedding.  I experienced painful intercourse.  I was told to go to a sex therapist, that there was nothing wrong with me, it was all in my head…. I was too young.

Long story short, I went to the sex therapist…. It was still sore……   I badgered my G.P again and again to do more smears…. I wanted a baby once I was married, but  thought if I can’t get anything in, how the hell can I get anything out!

I changed my status from single to married, endured painful intercourse and  also changed G.P.  after several ‘clear’ smear test results.  Roll on a couple of years I finally found a G.P that LISTENED to me.  Sent me to see a Gynaecologist.  As he was about to examine me, and I was totally mortified with embarrassment, he asked ‘Do you smoke’.  My first reaction was to look where he was probing, to see how could he tell.  Were there tell tale signs down there!!  I felt doubly embarrassed then.

Finally,  after listening to my tale of clear smears for the last couple of years,  sex therapist sessions and still painful intercourse, he arranged for me to have a  colposcopy, where a scan of the ‘area’ is done and a biopsy is taken.

‘Oh yes my dear, there is definitely something wrong here’ were his exact words as he was ‘scanning’.   Relief, was my first emotion, that I was not indeed mad or frigid!  Terrified was my next emotion.   I had to wait 2 weeks for the results and I can tell you it was 2 weeks of hell on earth.

My cells were at precancerous stage.   Any longer and it would have developed into cervical cancer proper and I would not be here to tell the tale.  My point is this.  Had I not insisted and badgered and kept going back to my G.P by the time I had other ‘ symptoms’ it would probably have  been too late.  It took me several clear smears, over 2 years and a colposcopy and all the embarrassment that went with it to find out, there was indeed a problem.

I was treated almost immediately in hospital and stayed 5 days for them to blast and burn the cells, in 2 areas ‘down there’ and was followed up every 6 months thereafter for a couple of years..  At age 30 I had a hysterectomy due to other reasons, but the fear of Cervical Cancer had now been totally eliminated.

I still have no idea why the gynaecologist asked ‘Do you smoke’.  I’m still hoping there is no way of telling by looking at said region, but I was too embarrassed to ask him, why did he ask me that, so I will never know!

So for all females out there, get over the embarrassment and get the test done.  If you are not totally happy, even with a clear result, go badger your doctor for a Colposcopy…. it may just save your life.  Lets not have any more Mistakes!

 

That’s me in the Corner

When everything else looks the same, when you are looking at what you expect to see, take a look closer. Look for something that seems different, look for the unexpected and you many well have your mind opened and be so totally pleasantly surprised……

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I think of the words of R.E.M…… just look at them and think about them…

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger
Than you and you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
Try, cry
Why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
Dream

These words can be interpreted in many different ways. For me, it brought to mind my wonderful grandson. Last night he participated with his school and other schools in our National Opera House in a concert called ‘Sing out Loud’. The Irony is, my grandson cannot speak. He is non verbal and has autism.

As I watched him, with immense pride, I was amazed at how he managed to stay on the stage for an hour and a half, with others, singing and dancing and playing instruments. It was indeed a spectacular show. I was truly mesmerized. I was particularly in awe and mesmerized with my grandson.

Children/people with autism are very sensory and react, often in a negative way to sensory overload. The noise on that stage, to him, must have been so bombarding on his hearing that he must have thought his ear drums would burst. Instead, my heart bursted with pride, at how he stood there, and at times sat, but nevertheless, he remained there, on the stage, at all times, with his peers, PARTICIPATING in a SING OUT LOUD, concert.

It was a full house. I knew he had autism, his father and his brother and a few other people who know our family, know he has autism. The rest of the audience did not. I imagine most were too busy watching with pride, their own family members on the stage. However, if they did happen to notice the boy, wearing the ear phones, NOT SINGING, and wondering, what he was doing there, let me tell you. He was being INCLUDED. He was being acknowledged and recognised by his teachers, by his school, as a person who could and should be allowed to participate in, and be engaged by, and with, what they were doing on that stage – having fun!

At school he has begun to communicate through a model called R.P.M. (Rapid Prompting Method). He touches a stencil, one letter at a time, in between his stimming and perceived lack of concentration, and his teacher (and his mother, my wonderful daughter, manages to get some words down, spelled out by him – (by the way he has taught himself to read and spell out words, because before RPM, it was considered that he would not learn like ‘typical’ children learn…. How wrong was EVERYONE!

Today, his teacher did an RPM session with him in school :-

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Could we, as his family, be any more proud or in awe of him? NOOOOOOOO . He is wonderful. He is incredible. He is astonishing. He is important. He is entitled to be included. He is not an empty vessel. He is trying, so hard, to communicate. He is patient. He is kind. He is funny. He is sometimes isolated. He is amazing. He is hope. He is our everything. He is ENTITLED to be loved and acknowledged as a typical person. He just cannot speak…… He tries. He stimms… Do not think he is not a worthy person. He is, and more. He has to do more to prove is worth. He has to stand on a stage, with his peers, with them singing and joining in, while he stands there, with his toothbrushes, which he loves, and he has to look on, and endure the noise and the lights and the heat, and the stares and the knowing looks, some may give him, but he perseveres and he stays there, and he enjoys himself, BECAUSE, he has been included. He has been ACCEPTED as an equal to his ‘typical’ peers.

So, the next time you see a person, who may look or act or seem a little strange, remember our boy and the joy he communicated the day after he was treated like his ‘typical’ peers.

Always look for the extraordinary, for the odd one out, for the boy in the corner, and you may well be so suprised with what you will find out! Smile at him, accept him and know how amazing he actually is. Believe in the unbelieveable and never judge a book by its cover…… There is a whole new world inside!