Posts tagged thoughts

Memory…. is the diary we all carry about with us – Oscar Wilde

What a wonderful statement and so, so true. We tend to carry on living our lives and enjoying different experiences and often sharing them on our blog page or in personal journals to look back at in the future. I for one never stopped for one moment to think of my memory as the most wonderful diary of all. The best thing about that diary is that it is so totally limitless. There are no boundaries tied up in words and even the most creative writer can never conjure up the best images that are triggered by the other senses – touch, smell, taste or sound. There are no words to describe or produce images that you would get on experiencing a certain smell, for instance.

I remember years ago when my children were small, we lived on top of the West Hill in Hastings. Every day I trundled them all, including baby in the pram, down and up this hill that cars struggled to get to the top of, those living in Hastings will know Mt Pleasant Hill very well. Anyway, right at the top just before we rounded the corner to home, there was a bakery and a few doors up a wool shop. As a very ‘crafty’ sort of person, I was always in the wool shop buying wool, patterns and the like and after reading the above quote, which did trigger off loads of memories, I realised why it was my favourite shop.

As a child I lived a lot with my grandparents in their tiny cottage. two up and two down with a tiny kitchen out the back no hot running water , no bathroom and an outside loo with a solid wooden seat that always smelled of jeyes fluid. We bathed once a week in front of the living room fire in a tin bath filled with water heated in the copper and transported by my grandfather in a tin bucket…but that wasn’t only memory it triggered. It was the smell. The kitchen always smelled of homebaking and Lux soap. So what does this have to do with the quote and the reference to the wool shop? I hear you ask. Walking into that wool shop was like walking into my grandmother’s kitchen. The smell transported me back immediately to that time and place. I mentioned the smell to the lady in there once and she couldn’t smell it but smiled sweetly at me and nodded as if I were mad. I guess the smell from the bakery must have permeated the wool shop, the soapy smell was maybe co-incidence, but to me it was just heaven. A moment’s escape from a very busy world.

As I wrote about my Grandparent’s house a million memories came flooding back to me, more and more with each one I remembered. a mountain of tumbling thoughts and words, feelings, smells, sounds, words, experiences that I have never written down. Each one bringing its own feelings to add to an experience from a lifetime ago and it is just wonderful. I do write many of life experiences down, notes, thoughts, images and memories so that I don’t ever forget the wonderful times I have known. However, that statement brought back to me more memories than I would ever be able to transcribe to page and I have a whole new concept on life.

Life is a series of experiences, good and bad, happy and sad but there are none that we haven’t learned anything from. Our ego, our consciousness tells us we should be sad or angry about things that happened to us, sometimes it brings happy times up and then tells us to regret that we no longer have those times. For me, each person that has passed through my life, those who were there for a short while, or even longer – what is the reference ? a reason, a season or a lifetime? Some were with me for a moment, for the reason they needed to be to play their part in my experience, some saved my life, offered words of kindness yet others were cruel and left me with painful memories before they faded out of my world. Others stayed for a season or two and held my hand through difficult times, supported or encouraged me before moving on and yet others have remained with me, even if it is from a distance, from the moment we first met. I now know that each and every one was as important as the rest and as important to me and my life experience as each moment that passed. And that if I stand back and reflect, my own personal memory diary is always open to be remembered. The difference is, as I have got older, I am able to see the wider picture and now understand the whole reason for needing to record everything… I simply forgot about my wonderful memory..

I know that doesn’t make much sense but I know that one day my memories will be lost just as the memories I had with my grandparents mean nothing to my children. But in recording them in the only way I can – in words on paper – or on digital memory systems these days, I feel I try to keep the memories of past generations alive for those future generations that will never have known them. My experiences might help them to make sense of a strange and sometimes cruel world. I hope it will be useful to them and maybe a little more than just a snapshot of a time past for when my own personal diary has closed.

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Food for thought

” You are diligent in keeping your car full of fuel. Are you as diligent in keeping yourself full with good thoughts and good feelings?  You can only go in the direction you want in your life when you have the right fuel, and enough of it.”  Daily Teachings – The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

Had a busy day with three of my grandchildren today so am taking this quote as food for thought before I fall asleep over the keyboard. I love this book and try my best to follow the daily attitude of love and gratitude. All my life I have tried to shake off the learned behaviour of my family. The superstitions, the negative thoughts and the pessimism that all played a big part, handed down from generation to generation, has prevented me from growing as a person. So much that I never dreamed that I could do better than I did. I have managed to achieve so much more than my mother despite being disadvantaged as a child. OK so it took me to adulthood to believe in myself and it has been really hard work but today I am proud of what I have achieved and am still working toward better goals.

‘The Secret’ is a brilliant little book that brings to life just how positive thought and belief can change your life by using the law of attraction. Since reading this I now understand more about myself and my past and am beginning to change the way I think even more. I always endeavoured to be positive but childhood experience ingrained in me that failure was inevitable. If I tried my best I had no support, no-one behind me to say well done and in the end you stop trying. Since stepping out and just doing the things I like doing, like my art and my writing, I am learning that I am successful, I can do these things. I have often been so grateful for the gifts I have and long before I read this book and yes, my work improved and got better and better. I should have realised it then, positive thinking gives positive results.

I have a long way to go, maybe I always will have and I shall never stop trying to improve myself. ‘Every day in every way, I am getting better and better’ is my mantra as is the gratitude for the journey I have travelled. In case I forget, in my pocket I carry a pebble, my little ‘gratitude rock’, just to remind me to give thanks for all the wonderful people, gifts and things around me every day.

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Postaday2011: making mistakes

There is so much I could say on making a mistake and when I think back on all the decisions in my life I can honestly say I have made my share of bad ones. But have I? I am aware of all the right decisions as they shine out with positive vibes and the consequences have all led to other things. I sometimes think my life has been charmed or at least I have an absolutely amazing guardian angel who gets it right every time!

Each decision I have ever has had two sides to it. Even though it was the right decision for me then someone else had to hurt. On the other hand, had I not made those decisions then I would be hurting. Sometimes we have to choose, those choices are the most difficult in the world.

At one stage in my life I was at the point of suicide, I am ashamed to say that now, but it was just the kindness of someone I knew who sat with me over a cup of tea that got me to take control of my life. That I wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s happiness if they weren’t prepared to meet half way. I made my decision, there was a lot of pain, a lot of bad stuff happened but on looking back to then and examining where I am now, I know it was all part of a pathway I had to travel. I needed those lessons to give me strength for other challenges in my life. My children were hurt back then, but we learned to talk.

Today, they are all fantastic people and all succesful in the pathways they have chosen for themselves. They are also children to be proud of. None of them have been in trouble, they respect the world around them , people and other’s property, nature and each other and well as myself. They all have great interests, hobbies or employment that they excel in and are really good people to be with.  Considering I have 8 children, from different marriages, I think we did ok and I am certainly very proud of each one of them.

Some of my decisions I have regretted initially but it is only on reflection and comparison to my life today that I realise it had to be. I am glad I made those decisions and am proud of myself for making the necessary adjustments to make my life work. It has all been worthwhile to be right where I am at this moment in time.

My secrets are: never hold a grudge; make the best of what you have instead of wishing for something more; forgive easily; never stop loving; never be afraid to say ‘I made a mistake’ and ‘let’s talk’; never be too proud to apologise; if life isn’t working – change it, it’s nobody else’s problem but yours; eliminate the word ‘hate’ from your vocabulary; Love – totally and utterly unconditionally; forgive yourself; smile a lot; be thankful for everything you have and always remember we are all on a different journey, it’s just great if sometimes we cross another’s path and decide to stay, if it doesn’t work out there are always other friends passing through.

So for me, I don’t think there are mistakes, if it happens – it is meant to be, for whatever reason. We might regret a decision at the time but that’s not saying it was a mistake, maybe it just takes a bit of adjustment before we realise that actually, life is great because of… not in spite of. So there are no mistakes, merely new adventures and experiences that will open new worlds and each one of us are responsible for ourselves.

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Postaday2011: Busy Bank holiday

I have just a few minutes to post a blog for today. Sometimes I sit here and wonder why I do this, I have done quite well so far but what is the point? I mean I can write on the topic subject, my day, things I remember, so may things and I enjoy writing but as the year progresses and spring has crept over windowsill, I have found many more thing to do and it is getting later and later before I write my blog.

Today the glorious sunshine half shone through dirty windows. The winter had left its shadow in street dust that shaded the sun. Car exhausts have belched their fumes and stirred the dirt from the road that has stuck fast to the windows and facias of our house. Bank holidays, well bank holidays are good and it is really good to have H at home. I really struggle with some things so that’s where he comes in. Today we cleaned all the windows in the house, inside and out and I washed the curtains. What a major difference!

The sunlight is clearer, the rooms brighter, the nets look bright and reflect the sunlight instead of a gloomy room through the dust that has been captured in the lace. The whole place looks cleaner and brighter and we are only a fraction through our de-cluttering. Today several bags went off to the charity shop and I tidied and sorted the toy cupboard but the major thing was the letting in of the sunlight. To me that is the real beginning of spring!

Along with all these events come a list of other things to achieve, my list gets longer and time, although the days are longer, seems to be in short supply. So why do I stick at writing every day on my blog? There is far to many other things to do. I don’t even get the time to turn my computer on at the moment! Ah well, I said I would do it so I will continue.. Feels really good to spring clean as  well as de-clutter though.

The diet is going really well so far , day three covered! Exercise routine established and bless him, Harry has been joining me in my 10 minutes a day wriggle about to reggae time. I say wriggle because as I need a new knee, dancing isn’t really the right word. I just do what I can within my limitations as long as I move and exercise, it counts. My goal is to be slim enough to have the surgery and to be able to walk like I used to along with a million other things I used to do with ease. My garden for instance. Right now I am suffering for using my one good arm for cleaning the windows. I am thinking positive.

Well I have 2 minutes to post today… phew maybe I will just make it.. xx

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Postaday2011: What do I want to accomplish with my blog?

What a brilliant title for a blog entry and one that gives me so many ideas for writing. You know, at first I got caught up in the draw to be noticed, a bit like good old Facebook. Your success was the number of friends you have, never mind that half of them were so obscure as to be insignificant in your life, if they are on your friends list, they count. I think not! A friend, to me, is someone who is touchable, reachable, at least knows something about you that you can’t read on Facebook and someone you can call on for a night out, a meaningful chat, a hug, a friendly word, someone who knows you personally, I could go on and give you a million definitions of a friend but at the end of the day they are more than a name on an internet list…

I began much the same, other bloggers were boasting large numbers of readers and ‘like’ clicks, I wanted to be like that and when my readers rose from four or five to seventy odd once I was so excited and wanted to write more and more. Then I noticed other bloggers were getting hundreds of hits and it suddenly hit me, I would have to be amazing and work really hard at achieving that. My computer life is far less than is necessary to read and reply to that many readers, in fact it is a miniscule part of life for me because my family and real people that I know and love are extremely important to me. Besides, if someone dropped by my blog I would consider it so rude not to reply, I could be all day on my computer! No, I decided there and then that my blog was for many reasons but none of them to achieve popularity in cyber space with people I shall never meet.

I don’t want to sound at all ungrateful to all the lovely people that I have ‘met’ through my blog, those wonderful people who share similar lives or journeys, that it is a pleasure to share with are so important to me. I love to read their blogs and read their comments and would miss them but to me those few are far more precious to me because I can spend time getting to know them through my blogging and theirs, whereas, if there were’ hundreds’ would any of them be as special? I think not.

Mainly I write my blog for me, my children and friends who like to keep tabs on me. I keep a copy of it all and this postaday challenge will give me a year of thoughts, tipsy ramblings, actual events and well, my life and me daily for a whole year. I am notoriously hopeless at keeping a journal but I have always kept everything I ever wrote, even if it was just a few days of a holiday. It is fantastic to look back and see what I was up to, what I was feeling and best of all remember the moments when I was actually writing them. They serve as a strong memory link for me. I wrote some of my first poetry as a child and I have them still, every time I read them I am whisked back to that time and remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote them. A bit like certain smells or perfumes that trigger a thought or memory from the past, my writing does the same, only better.

My children are scattered all over the world and although we keep in touch regularly, they all tell me they feel more in touch because they read my blog and know how I am feeling. How much more of a reason would I need for writing a blog? Hearing that made me feel so emotional, I never thought of that. When you live with someone you know the little idiosyncrasies, moods, silly stuff we do and how they are feeling but once we all scatter and have families of our own, we lose that intimacy. That is my second best reason for writing my blog.

Thirdly, I have friends who say the same and query when I miss my blog. I find this so really touching and it makes me realise just how many people out there actually do think about me and care. It’s a warm feeling and I love it.

Lastly, but not at all least, are the people I have never met who pop by and comment on my blog. The biggest compliments I have had was like the one I had yesterday.  When I have finished a day’s work and I need to relax I can read your blog and either escape or be inspired. This is something several people have written to me. I love that so much, not the just compliments but the fact that the mindless meanderings through my butterfly mind can actually be useful to somebody else. Can help them to forget a stressful day, can inspire them to rethink their own thoughts and take a breath or unwind. My blog can actually be meaningful in a positive way! That is awesome!

So, I am glad I gave up on being popular to many and am absolutely thrilled to be comforting to my children, inspiring to other bloggers, offer an escape for a few moments from the busyness of life and most of all give myself a book full of happy memories that I can recall at the turn of a page. I thank everyone who reads my blogs and who take away something from them for themselves, that is precious, that is what life should be like. Letting me know that is like returning the gift tenfold. The pebble in the pool or the smile to a stranger syndrome? It all helps to make the joy and love of life go round. Thank you all.

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Postaday2011: A blank canvas

Why I entitled this blog that I have no idea because my mind is completely blank at this present moment. I suppose if I put my mind to it and compare life to my art work it sort of does make sense. I mean, every day is just that isn’t it? A blank canvas! We my have plans and list for what we want to achieve in any one day, we might have assignments and things we need to accomplish but every one of those tasks relies totally on whatever happens throughout the day.

Just as I place the first brush strokes on the canvas, I have no idea what the end result will be. I may be trying to replicate a photograph and to one extent, I will achieve that aim but somewhere along the way that little thing called emotion will creep on in there. A memory, a sudden idea, a dream of something you wished could be and the picture has changed completely.

That is so much like life. No matter what you plan, at any one point something can drift into your field of understanding, be it vision, hearing or a sense of nostalgia, a smell, a feeling, each and every one of these things can change how you feel. It is those feelings that change how you handle your day. And each of those emotions is totally out of our sphere of understanding and control whether we accept that or not.

Is it Karma, a breath of life from the Universe, a kindred soul touching us from the past? Whatever we want to call it, something happens each and every day to influence the out come. We may be totally unaware, or we may look out for it, either way it happens. I rather like to think of such things as the ripples in the pool. When you throw a pebble in the calm pool a force is thrown up in the form of ripples. They grow and grow until finally they crash upon the bank or the shore, they can disrupt the bank or shoreline or carry something important necessary for the continuation of life at the edge.

Imagine life like that. If, when you rise in the morning you stub your toe, the toothpaste has run out, you spill your coffee and the day has started badly, you are in a bad mood. You go to work and snap at those around you and tip their mood over to respond to your attitude, the mood travels on and on and the poor guy at the end goes home to his/her family carrying all those ripples. What a heavy load to bear… Kick the cat syndrome we call it.

So, what if the opposite was to happen. You get up and be thankful for the day, you bless the fact that you have a good home, family, or maybe a friendly pet to greet you. The day is bright and you feel positive and happy. Whatever your situation, if gratitude is in your mind, you carry that with you also. So employ the pebble in the pond rule again. Each compliment, happy thought, even each smile that is passed to another person gives them the same feeling… get to the end of the day and maybe, just maybe, each person you touched with your positivity has been exhilarated by having a great day without knowing why. You have changed the world around you for the better.

So this is why I look on every day as a blank canvas. A picture waiting to see what life will paint on it. The decision is ours to make it a brilliant picture with many bright aspects that touch others as they admire it, or to make it a dull and depressing image that cheers no-one. My challenge is to everyone, take up your brush and colour your life with gratitude and positivity, no matter how hard it may be. Your picture will one of joy and colour that everyone will want to share. Treasure each blank canvas but be aware that others share in it too, a moment, a while or even a lifetime, make every second, every brush stroke every thought mean something good.

 

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Postaday2011: Back to blogging

After the worst night I have had since this bug, where I couldn’t lay down for coughing and wheezing and so spent most of the night in the chair, I have suddenly stopped coughing so much and ok, I am tired today but I have a bit more energy and think finally, I am over the worst. Much as I love my grandshildren dearly, I don’t think I could face another bug this side of next Christmas so I will be trying to avoid them if they have one. Gonna be sooo hard though.

Anyway, back to my blog… the challenge for today was the nearest book to me, 3rd paragraph, second sentence and write it in my blog. So the book is The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie… ‘ The wood had swollen in the rainy weather.’ Hmm that sounds like every door in our house but I am sure that’s not what was meant by writing about it and as I can only think of something creative I will go back to my blog question of however many nights ago it was.

Did I have a favourite brother? My brothers and I came from a very disfunctional and abusive background that began for us when my father left. I have also to say at this point, that although my mother’s choices weren’t the best ones and she could have changed things for us, I in  no way blame her for what we went through. I have no idea of what made her the way she was and I know she suffered a lot of depression, her own childhood wasn’t that great so I will never judge her. I believe that we experience what we do in life to help us on our spiritual journey. Each one of us has a different experience, even my brothers and I, despite being from the same family, will tell a slightly different story.

My story might be horrific to some but I know others whose story was wonderful compared to mine and yet for them it gave them a bad time as an adult. So, each experience is relavent, it doesn’t matter what it is that has led us into a despair, depression, excess drinking or whatever we have been through, it was our journey and it leads us to where we should be in this life. I am glad I went through what I did, I learned from it, gained a lot of empathy, took a lot of understanding to my work place and so on. I worked in a boarding achool for boys aged 7 -14 who had been excluded from mainstream schools. I like to think I made a small difference to some of their lives because of what I went through, and I actually like who I am.

Because of our situation, our mother had to go to work, we were left with teenage babysitters or people who didnt want to be there and thought nothing of giving us a good smack or two, eventually I was left to look after my brothers because they had other things to do. Here was I a child of around 9/10 being responsible for caring for four younger brothers. Mind you we had fun. The only bad times were when the oldest brother cut his ankle on a broken bottle and we had to take him to the hospital. I had no idea what to do and it scared me. I cleaned it up and placed a sponge on the cut to hold the blood, bandaged it up and got him to the hospital in the baby’s pushchair to be stitched up. Not the best thing to do but it worked.

The summers were good and we played in the garden, when times were tough, we were there for each other. We went out together to the park and the local playing field and ,particularly the two older brothers and I, spent a lot of time on the beach. We fought and argued like siblings do but there was never anything serious in it, there were other areas of our life that were serious, we didn’t need it in our play.

I went to the school medicals at junior school with the boys and that was another horror story for me, I guess we weren’t too clean, the boys in particular and I remember taking my little brother from the infants to wash him in the boys toilets before I’d let them look at him. Such a responsibilty for a child in junior school. It wouldn’t happen today thankfully, anyone not cared for would be picked up by social services and investigated. A lot has been said about Social Services but we might have had a better childhood had they been around then.

Back in the 50s and early 60s the laws were all so different and the house we were renting a flat in was sold, everyone was given notice to quit and unable to find a home they could afford, we were split up. The National Assistance Board, as DSS was in those days, would not pay out any money and we watched as they went through our home and told my mother the things she had to sell before they would give her any assistance. After that, myself and the two oldest boys went to my paternal grandparents and the rest of the family to the other Nan. It was there that we were taught true family values and where, I believe, we learned many of the important lessons that have got us through life since.

When we all moved back in together, I remember spending time in the ‘front room’ which nobody used, and trying to teach my youngest brothers some music and singing. We did many things together and were always there for each other. I left home at 16 to get married and have my first son, bless him, now 42, and left my brothers behind. It was so hard, I needed to get away but hated leaving my brothers, it was us against him..However, I had got the age where I could leave and I did.

It was those days as a child that gave me the strength to bring up my baby without family support, indeed as I did with all eight of my children. I don’t think my mother ever visited my home more than twice in all the years I lived in Hastings and certainly never since being here. So I am grateful for having to take responsibility for my brothers and everything I had to deal with because I was able to step into married life with a baby easily.

So if you ask me if I had a favourite brother I would say yes, all of them! It has been lovely over the years to see how they have remembered some of the little things I we did while we were children. I have one brother who shares my deep love of nature and is an excellent carpenter, another who is great with craft things and DIY, he even learned to knit and knitted me a lacy matinee jacket for one of my children, the two youngest are now both musicians and are also brilliant craftsmen, (Midnite Shift – George and Colin Okines from Hastings) who play clubs and pubs as a Swing band in and around Hastings. Best of all, no matter what differences they might have between them, and no matter how long it has been since we last met, it like we have never been apart and my love for each of them is just the same. Not surprising I guess since I was more their mother than their sister.

Many people would think I would be bitter about what happened to us but I am not. My brothers fared worse and still harbour a lot of ill feeling, because they were home a lot longer than I was but I have learned to let go. I can honestly say that I have fogiven the man who did all those awfl things to us because, like my mother’s life, I know very little of his life. I know he was abandoned and brought up by an aunt but nothing else. Somewhere along the way, something made him into the cruel and sadistic person he became. I felt sorry for him having to carry that burden all the time. I learned that as humans we all have a great capacity to love and to forgive. It is when we are able to let go and love that we cease to carry those burdens ourselves. It is without those burdens we can walk on with our lives easily. After all, like the wood that soaked up the rain, it is far to heavy to carry and no good to build anything with, better to let it dry out so it can be of some use in the world.

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Postaday2011: A message from my son.

I wrote yesterday that I had run out of ideas and floundered misreably with my post. I also said that writing about my family might be boring to anyone reading my blog apart from my family. Then this morning I got a wonderful message from number one son on facebook… He said he loved reading my blog, seconded by my oldest daughter, and he also suggested some ideas. Well those questions have triggered off a million thoughts and a renewed excitement for writing. I have had an amazing life and such a lot of experiences so I am going to look at the things he has asked me over the next few days.

First of all my son, David, is my first born. I was just sixteen and a half when I gave birth to him. I hear many people saying ‘but you were just a child’, and yes maybe I was but my life experience had hardly been that of a child since I was nine years old. By today’s standards, I would have been labelled a ‘teenage Mum’ but to me, it was no problem,  I was a mum and so very much a proud mum.

See, when I was thirteen I was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and was told I had some unpronouncable problem and that I would never have children. Red rag or what? I was the oldest of a family of seven and my life experiences led me to want a baby of my own more than anything in the world. But, that is part of the later story.

I will look at the brilliant questions that Dave has asked me one by one… We can and do talk about anything but I feel and I think he knows, I might just reveal a little more about my life, our life, than I would in one to one discussion. So the next few blogs are for my children as much as anybody but I do hope that anyone else reading them will gain a little understanding about their own lives too.

His first question was about my earliest memories. As time has passed memories, although clear, are more difficult to place in time. My first memories are playing in the garden with my brothers. In those days the sun always shone and we created games and activities that lasted for ever. Well they seemed like forever. We made mud pies, built camps, pinched vegetables from my father’s vegetable garden and just played. I had four brothers, Denis, John, Colin and George… it was only later that I had two more siblings, Peter and Katie, one slightly older than my sons and the other younger.

To me my life was well, just my life. When you are young you don’t question what is good or what is bad, you just are. I remember summer days when my aunt and cousins came over and we had wonderful afternoon meals in the garden, salads, home grown of course and just playing. Memories then were only of the basic, playing and eating.

My other happy memories were when I visited my father’s family. They were to become my saving grace in a very roller coaster kind of childhood. My grand parents were everything to me and the only place I felt really loved. I never knew why and I never really understood this until later in my life. Unfortunately, much later and long after I was able to go to them and say thank you for everything they gave to me.

The first time I came to realise that life sucked was when I was around nine years old.. My Dad left my mother and although he had never been prominent in my life it was to become the beginning of the realisation that the unhappiness I had experienced when my parents fought was when I began to understand sadness, confusion and most of all, a lack of love or close relationship with anyone apart from my brothers.

When I went to Uni when I was fifty, it was that first traumatic experience I chose to write about. My story gained me a brilliant mark. I will conclude this post with that story but I have to say that there were other memories that were more important to me, it was onlymany years later that I was given them back, having lost them during a very unstable childhood, when I was training to be a play therapist. But that is another story and I will save it for another time.

 

Colour Me Yellow

I screwed my eyes against the yellow glare of the sun as it emerged from behind clouds that had spread across the sky like sour milk in coffee. The wind blew into my face and I could taste the sea. As I squiggled my toes into the cool sand, a young mother struggling with a small child and an armful of brightly coloured bags and buckets wandered into my view. Several slightly bigger children clung to her skirts as they limped over the stones. Their excitement tuned their voices to a higher and louder pitch as they made their way toward the sand. “Come on Dad, we’re leaving you behind.”

The man was struggling too, he carried a pushchair and as he walked the wind kept whipping the canopy into his face so that he couldn’t see.

A knot tightened in my stomach as I watched the little family find a place to sit. I hastily brushed away a tear that had trickled the length of my face. It dropped onto the sand and disappeared, sucked down to become a part of the sea. As I looked up the older girl caught sight of me watching and waved. I smiled and waved back.

Mum had been awfully quiet that day. As my brothers and I ate breakfast, we passed knowing looks between us and tried to fit in with the seriousness that hung heavily and statically across the kitchen. If one of us laughed another kicked their ankle under the table. We tried not to look at each other; a glance from any one of us would initiate the gut-jerking snigger from the throat that would start us all laughing. We were used to this.

 

Having finished our meal, we gathered our things for school and left the house. I leapt over the huge flagstone step and past the pillars, so big to my smallness. I stopped. The boys hadn’t noticed.

We often helped Dad to load his market things into the van, but today he shouldn’t have been here. Here should have left a long time ago. The market started early.

His mouth gave a smile but it never reached his eyes.

I looked on up the hill to where I could see my brothers walking ahead of me.

“ I want to talk to you, you can catch them up in a minute.” Dad nodded toward my brothers.

I waited, holding my breath.

“I must go away for a while.”

I barely felt his arms as he hugged me. I was too busy concentrating on holding back the sobs and tears that threatened to burst into the world from somewhere not so deep inside me. How I wished this wasn’t happening. How I wished those warm, safe arms would stay; I needed them.

Home became clouded by a shadow that was difficult to understand. Mum no longer sang around the house. The difference was invisible to all outside our family, and it was silent. A colourless void of colossal proportions filled with unspoken words, hastily reclaimed glances and deafening silence.

Spring came and our world began to change colour. The sun brightened our hearts and lives; flowers bloomed red and yellow in the garden, the perfume of the wallflowers floated lightly in the air and crept over the sill and in through the open windows. We made daisies into long chains, picked buttercups and held them against our chins. ‘Do you like butter?’

Soon it was summer.

One sticky day we were bored, hot and fussy until Denny had a bright idea.

“Can we go to the beach?” We looked pleadingly at Mum; four bright eyed faces and a baby who didn’t know why.

“ Pleeease?”

Mum smiled, “I need to do something first, keep an eye on the boys will you? Shan’t be long.”

It seemed like forever before Mum arrived back…. I noticed a white mark on her finger as she held out a brown paper bag full of beach shoes.

 

The beach was hot and smelt deliciously of salt. The sand was soft beneath our feet and we squiggled our toes into its coolness. We laughed and ran through the tiny lapping waves and searched rock pools that reflected the clouds as they scudded across the sky above us. We leaned so close to the water that the smell of the rotting seaweed made us wrinkle our noses as we dipped and searched with our fingers in the sand at the bottom of the pool for the creatures that had been left behind by the tide. Gentle breezes blew across our faces and tousled our hair leaving it dry so that our fingers no longer slipped through it. Jam sandwiches tasted sweeter as the salt clung to our fingers and lips. The gritty sound of the sand on my teeth made me wretch.

Nothing mattered that day. The sun beamed down on us, I lifted my face to feel its warmth on my cheeks. Yellow shone through my closed eyelids,

enveloping me in a blanket of sunshine. We had been so busy playing and building sand castles that we hadn’t noticed the tide pushing us further up the beach until there was no more sand and the huge black rocks had disappeared beneath the waves.

“ Time to go home!” Mum’s voice broke into our playing. We pleaded for more time to fill our pockets and buckets with shells and pebbles to take back with us.

Mum didn’t see me watching her. Her thoughts were far away; as far as the horizon that she was staring at beyond the ocean, maybe further, but somewhere I had never been and where, I felt, I was not wanted. I watched her brush a tear from her cheek; she, too, didn’t want the day to end.

The boys clung to Mum’s skirts as they stumbled over the pebbles and back up the beach. It was late but we were tired and happy. I dragged the pushchair up the beach while Mum carried Georgie.

“Come on, we’re leaving you behind.”

The sun glowed orange as it sank toward the sea. I looked back and half closed my eyes against the brightness; The yellow had gone.

I guess that this post answers two of my son’s questions, my earliest memories and the time when I realised that the world was not such a happy place.

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Postaday2011:Running out of subjects.

So how do you decide what to write about? Prompts are ok but when they are totally irrelevant to your life, they are not much use. I could spout endlessly about my day and my family but although they are everything to me, it might be a trifle boring to other people. The trouble is, my life is pretty uneventful, and I know some people might say that’s really good, but when it comes to blogging it doesn’t give me much scope for subjects to write about. I know, maybe I should write a fantasy blog, where I become the heroine of a great adventure.  Hmmm that might take some dreaming up, but then…. I am a writer.

I woke this morning late, I had woken earlier and seen the clock showing 6.30. Wonderful at least another ninety minutes in bed before I really must start my day. I slept, not the deep silent sleep of the tired but that fitful dreamful sleep of the restless. I wandered corridors and met people I had long forgotten, replayed scenes from my childhood. I saw myself, the small child hiding in the corner and trying desperately to avoid both the classroom bullies and the eyes of the teacher who like nothing better to single me out and make a fool out of me… I didn’t like that dream. In my dreamy state I decided to change it… What if I could control my dreams? What if I could control my life? I could see no reason why it was not possible so I focussed on the little girl in the corner. The teacher asked one of the bullies a question.. she was unable to answer. Slowly I put my hand up. ‘Answer the question if you can!’ the tone was intimidating but I was in control. I answered correctly, not only that I added some information that the teacher never knew. She flustered and moved away to ask another question. Again I put my hand up. No one else had an answer and she was forced to look at me again. I answered correctly. This continued for the whole of my lesson and by the end I was so really pleased with myself.

However I was not contented with just showing the bully teacher I was clever. I switched my dream and became the teacher. The child at the back was a difficult child who failed to respond to the lesson. Her clothes were not terribly clean and she was a bit of a loner. I picked a subject that I felt everyone would know about. The girl never answered, she spent her time scribbling on her notebook, drawing little pictures. At the end of the lesson I called for the books to be handed in. That night I marked the answers to everything I had asked. The girl at the back hadn’t written a word but carefully, beside each number was a tiny drawing that showed a picture of the answer… and I realised that somehow, this child had slipped through the net and was having difficulty reading and writing. No wonder everyone had thought her stupid, no wonder she had been unable to join in… I arranged time after school for some reading classes and took her right back to the beginning with picture books, simple words then little stories. Within a few weeks she flew, her reading took off and her writing skills  developed tremendously. I had triumphed and everything changed for this child. She became popular because she was really clever only now she was able to articulate clearly and write amazing stories.

I switched my dream back , this time I took everything I had learned with me. As the teacher asked me to answer a question I stood up and said clearly. ‘I don’t understand the question,Miss, ‘ She never answered. I sat down. The girls that had been bullying me sat quietly. The teacher became angry and began shouting, ‘Answer me girl!’.

‘She don’t understand , Miss. You can’t make her answer if she don’t know.’ The teacher’s attention remained on me.. I held my breath. ‘ I can’t answer that question, I am sorry.’ She looked round at the other students and each of them glared back at her. The bell went for lunch.

The alarm clock rang into my dream… Heaven knows where I was going with this story but I seem to think that if we could all be honest with ourselves then the rest of the world would fall into place…maybe a story I could develop further.. now it is time for bed…

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Stress?

What a topic to have to write on. Stress! I mean it is so many different things to so many people. What stresses one person could relax another. Personally, I am not a stressed person these days although there have been things that have caused me great stress in my past. So much so that I learned some strategies for coping. Meditating for example, reading a good book, maybe. Then is it stress when you are so involved in a good thriller that you are on the edge of the seat? The same feeling in a different situation would definitely be stress. I can think of a recent few moments where my stress levels were at their peak. I take comfort in that many other people in my situation might just be as paranoid as I was.

Now anyone who knows me personally knows I am, hmmm let’s just say on the cuddly side. Not the best way to be but, it is never-the-less a fact. Recently I was summoned to the hospital for an MRI… No problem, thought I  as I remembered a cat scan I had a few years ago. Piece of cake! or …  just like a doughnut over me, I can do this… and I duly turned up early for my appointment.

‘Come through.’ said a young girl. I looked at her quizzically until I realised that she was the nurse in charge of the operation. When did they start employing children? Ah, now I know I am getting older… policemen, doctors in fact everybody I might pop along to see anywhere, are all getting younger. Anyway, the young nurse explained what was going to happen, how long it would take and that they would play me music because the machine is noisy. Still I had no inkling of what was to happen. She directed me to lay fully clothed on what I can describe as an ironing board size table that was attached to a beige coloured monstrosity. Oh, the indignity of it all. Bits of me did not want to fit on there and I defy many smaller bodies to be narrow enough either. A wedge was placed under my legs which made it marginally more comfortable and allayed the little bit of stress that was niggling away inside me. Then suddenly when I realised that I was actually going inside that minute tunnel thing that I hadn’t taken a lot of notice of, and not the nice wide doughnut,  the trigger was set off.

‘Your arms will touch the sides.’ said the child beside me. ‘But don’t worry, that is fine.’

Fine? fine?! You must be joking. My shoulders began to slide into the entrance of the machine. No way! Girly was totally absorbed in talking to someone else in the room and I scrunched my arms and shoulders in order to even slide into the entrance. This machine was not going to let me go and I was slowly forced into position. Ear phones were placed over my ears and a bell push placed into my hand – in case I needed to call them. How about now? I thought to myself.

The machine began whirring and a loud noise roared through the tunnel. the sides seem to close in and wedged my shoulders even tighter into the tube. Despite being told to lay still my arms were being painfully pressed into my sides and I had to move them across my stomach to even get into the machine. The music started but the loud claxon sounding roar drowned out most of it, then I did the stoopidest thing. Here was I being crushed into the tiniest tube imaginable. The tightness made  first my hands, then my arms go numb.. I must lie still, I must lie still. Only ten minutes, that’s not long! Might have been an hour because I lost track of all time from the moment I opened my eyes …. and saw just how close the top of the tube was to my face. Every nightmare I have ever had ripped into my stomach… Don’t panic, don’t panic, claustrophobia gripped my throat, I wanted to scream but I could hardly breathe and besides I did not want to look  any more idiotic that I felt. I closed my eyes tightly and tried to concentrate on the music. It’s only ten minutes, think of something, anything to take the image of being trapped very tightly in a beige rabbit hole whilst laying on your back. I don’t think it was a good thought but lets just say I sure know what a sausage must feel like as it is forced into its skin. I concentrated on the music and held my eyes tightly shut. One song finished, now let me see, each song is between four and five minutes, so, that must be about two to three songs and I would be out of here. Do not open your eyes! relax, keep calm….

eventually, the machine stopped and I was aware of being pulled back out through the tube the way I had gone in. By this time my arms were completely numb. A strapping woman stood beside me. ‘All done.’ she said. I tried to sit up as I weakly smiled and took my first decent breath for the last 10 minutes. There were no sides to this table thingy and nothing to grip hold of, my numb arms were unable to support me as I tried to sit up. I fell back laughing. ‘Do you think you can give me a hand?’ I asked. ‘Oh no dear, we aren’t allowed to lift any more.’ Now, by no stretch of the imagination was anyone going to lift me anyway but I managed to persuade her to just lend an arm for balance because I couldn’t feel my own to push myself up. She braced herself like a sumo wrestler and I cringed but I sat up easily. Pins and needles began to tickle my hands but it was nothing to the jelly I was feeling inside. I was so glad it was all over.

I reckon that constitutes stress on many levels, don’t you?  I could even say it was sheer blind panic and I would be fairly accurate. Looking back, it was not a nice experience and it was extremely stressful but I like to always look on the bright side, I am just so glad I am not a rabbit having to make my way down a small burrow just to get home or , or, even better… a sausage in a sausage making machine.

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