Living in Abundance, lifestyle and food blog

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Week 50 in pictures



Week 50 of 2016 began with our 29th wedding anniversary on the Monday.  It was a magical day even though we hadn't planned anything beyond spending our Tesco vouchers in Pizza Express in the evening, as we both had to work during the day. There was a big old supermoon thing happening in the sky which seemed to pervade everything and first thing in the morning we opened our cards together, which we don't usually do.  As pulled our respective cards out of their envelopes we both broke into laughter as they were sooo similar!  The trees full of hearts in both pictures really sum up where we are at the moment in our lives...in a time of real growth and change and blossoming, asf well as having the strong roots and years of establishment like a tree does, so in our relationship.  How blessed do I feel to be with this person on our life's journey together.  The cards seem to symbolise for me that we finally seem to be on the same page as far as taking our lives forward.  We are working on our emotional patterns for attracting abundance, and for feeling that we deserve to keep it.  Dave has let go of the need to be serious and grumpy about our finances, which sometimes felt to him like the only thing he could control about it, and that by being joyless, at least he was taking the situation seriously!  After I gently pointed this out to him, and suggested that he could be actively and seriously be working to improve things and simultaneously allow himself to experience peace and joy, he has changed beyond belief.  I can really begin to believe after years of trying that we could actually change!

Our anniversary fun didn't stop there as despite having a cold and sneezing every two minutes, I decided that yes I did want to go out to Pizza Express, not in Brighton but more locally, so off we went and Dave waited in Jeremy (the Nissan Almera) in the service road behind the shops for me to quickly scout around for my daughter's birthday present.  I couldn't find anything, so climbed back into the passenger seat and Dave turned the key and hit the ignition button, and...nothing. Not a sausage. There had been a slight ongoing car saga which he thought he'd solved, but evidently not.  Broken cars on dark rainy drives that need to be mended in the next few hours if life is to continue have been a constant in our family life, and symbolic to Dave of failure, struggle, not being able to afford to call a man to do it, trying to keep everything functioning against the odds, that sort of thing.  Thanks to the work we have been doing on our perception of our lives we were able to burst out laughing hysterically at the irony of it all, before jump starting the thing and continuing on to a nice drink in the pub and a pizza.

The rest of the week was a little strange, due to me having to postpone some clients, and not work in clinic because of the cold.  I felt ok, but you just can't be a therapist or breastfeeding support worker who sneezes and snuffles at people because they leave feeling like they definitely will have caught a cold, and that's not the aim!  In the absence of work, and with the cold, I slipped into a bit of a low mood, despite trying to talk myself out of it.  Moods and feelings are what they are, so I just went with it, cried a lot about nothing I could actually name, and felt better by the weekend.  I do experience this every few months or so, related to moon phases and also affected by my diet and exercise patterns.  I'm looking at these feelings as a gift, and endeavouring to see the message they bring.  Usually it is 'be kinder to yourself' .  As many people are beginning to realise in their lives, that's a big one!

Friday was playschool nativity.  Watching the little ones in my grandson's year (he didn't fancy being a camel thank you very much) was a tender and sweet thing, especially as it's the same ladies running it as when my children were performing it.  Seeing the passage of time like that always makes me feel a little of something like sadness or nostalgia, almost like a loss, a sweet sharp pain.

Late Friday night, eyes wanting to close, I baked my famous and usually delicious brownies for the doula and midwife forum in Brighton on Saturday morning.  This is a wonderful thing, to meet with midwives outside of the birth room, so we can get to know one another a bit and also understand the various challenges each profession experiences.  The morning was great, my brownies were not, then I met Dave and Lily, my daughter who lives in Brighton, for a tea and mooch round, before home and a trip to the pub to see my favourite band.  We had great chats in between sets with the band guys who have become our friends, saw two of our extended family's kiddos for hugs and chats too.  The pub they were playing at was in Lewes, where we socialise a lot due to bonfire and other old connections, so when that closed, I couldn't resist diving into another before we got to the car park, for a quick bop to their band's last couple of numbers.  Thence down to our bonfire HQ, to buy tickets for the new year bash from the lovely but knackered landlord Paul.  The place was full of celebration, looking suitably wrecked by a wedding or some such, and their band was playing 'Fairy tale of New York' so there was nothing else to be done but to dance in the garden by the open window and sing along to that one, as it is our song.  Dave in his winter overcoat and me in my shirt sleeves (menopausal flush) well past midnight, December 18th.

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Thursday, 15 December 2016

A page from my memoirs...late 80's and early 90's



That sweet little face in the picture will be 25 years old in a couple of days. My heart is gladdened when I see that smile; she looks like a happy baby.  When I look at the young woman cuddling her, I feel a mixture of emotions. 

Throughout my family's childhood, I hid a secret from those outside my family, and I hid it very well.  I laughed and joked and functioned and most people who saw me on a daily basis in the playground or round the shops would never have guessed that I was struggling with hidden depression.

We had five small children, and Dave worked days out of the house whilst I worked weekends and evenings where possible. Both our fathers had died quite recently, mine just two months before the birth of our first baby, John.  When I was two and a half months pregnant with my fourth baby, my second daughter Lily, my mum died after being ill for about seven or eight months, closely followed by her sister, my favourite auntie Ada.  When Lily was 4 months old, Dave's mum died.  Dave's mum's death was sudden and unexpected even though she had been ill for a long time too.  A lot of things came out after her death, and Dave had a complete nervous breakdown.  He was off work for 18 months.  I went back to work full time until he returned to work, when I became pregnant with our fifth child, Jesse.  Life was tough, and we were on the absolute breadline a lot of the time. I could deal with the financial difficulties, but not the effect of our combined mental health on our relationship. We both isolated ourselves and showing affection was difficult.  That broke me every time, I could cope with not having things because there was not money, but I couldn't cope with being unable to enjoy something that should come for free.

My resilience to this series of bereavements was low, and I had been struggling since the birth of my first baby; in retrospect I realise I was suffering with a combination of birth trauma and postnatal depression on top of the loss of my dad. Everything was a struggle.  I suffered with anxiety and panic attacks, and a heavy blanket of grey that seemed to wrap itself around me.  Getting up in the mornings was so difficult, and our relationship was suffering terribly.  I just wanted to sleep all the time, and my concentration was non-existent.  When the little one in the picture, Rhiannon, was just a few weeks old, I broke my ankle, which in a weird kind of way was a blessing in disguise, and I think the rest and time spent with my foot elevated prevented me from spiralling into full blown breakdown.  It meant that I had to let people in, to take John and Jack to playschool, and to help me.  Of course, the ankle healed, and I retreated back into my grey world.

I felt like a ghost.  Everyone recognised me in town, and would smile and say hello, but I was one of those people who slips through the cracks of their own life and circle.  I was the one who wouldn't get invited to things, not because people aren't lovely, but because I probably unconsciously pushed them away. I think people sensed something about me, an aura of sadness behind the jokes, and the invisible wall I surrounded myself with.  I didn't really mind, because the thought of socialising with people made me anxious.  I didn't like myself at all, and just felt shame for...I don't even know what for, I just felt it pervading my life all the time, so the thought of opening up and talking to people was just another source of pain.

Our house wasn't great.  The tangle of family stuff in an affluent household is welcoming, but when money has been tight for ever, and you've only got a few functional things and nothing pleasant, it's just another source of pain and shame, so I never asked anyone round. I went round to other women's houses for the kids to play and my feelings were reinforced by the difference between us.  My poor kids. I tried to keep cheery for them but children see straight through that bullshit when they're living it every day.

  I remember going to a school event and it being cancelled at the last minute.  The PTA chairwoman had dozens of bread rolls in her car ready for the event, and she offered them out to us all as they wouldn't keep.  Oh my secret delight at the thought of my ever-pressing problem finding the money for food being eased by the unexpected gift of bread.  And then my embarrassment and despair when some bright spark decided that those who wanted the rolls should pay for them...it was only fair, and made sense, but I had absolutely not a penny to my name, so I turned and walked away.

Mrs PTA Chair laid into me for being mean.  I looked at her, standing by her top of the range car with her nails, and her highlights and the enormous sapphire ring and I felt that yawning gap between us.  We were two mums in the same village, same age, and we probably looked fairly similar from a distance, because you can't see hunger.

I can't blame her, she didn't know.  How could she...I hid it all so well.  At the doctors' surgery they were a bit more canny, and the health visitors had a box in a side room full of donated items of food for families in need.  You could slip in on your way past and take what you needed.  I only did it once, and I have never forgotten that feeling of taking charity. I wondered if shoplifting would somehow feel less shameful, but I never found out.

My mum paid for us to go on holiday to Devon for a week with her, and the picture above was taken on that trip.  How I wish I'd thought to get a photo of the three generations together.  A year down the line and mum was terminally ill, and three months later she had died.  Strangely enough, and despite grieving hard for her, it was my dear mum's illness and death that taught me about the value of living my life to the full, and woke me up to the fact that I couldn't do this on my own, and that for the sake of my little ones, I needed to open up seek help. 


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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Coffee #Gratitude


Home-brewed rich smooth coffee with plush froth topped with nutmeg, cinnamon and chocolate lifts my spirits and makes for a nice treat. 

I am so, so grateful to have found my coffee machine after months of wishing that I could justify spending the £50 or so quid on the one that I thought I wanted. 

I was lusting after one of those machines where you put a little pod of coffee or whatever into the slot and off it goes...the resulting drinks looked delicious on pictures and you tube reviews.  One thing that held me back from getting one, apart from the scarcity at the time of a spare fifty notes, was the thought of all the packaging waste that I'd be creating, every time I made a drink.  That really didn't sit too easily with me; if we can avoid creating waste then I think we absolutely have to try and do that, because waste that will not biodegrade is choking our planet.


I met this love in a charity shop where he was up for a song at £8.00. He was minus the little tray and handle for making espresso, so he was abandoned until I came along!  He makes the most beautiful creamy froth, and that characteristic high-pitched coffee-is-imminent scream as he's boiling milk in next to no time. I have no milk-burnt saucepan to contend with afterwards. 

So much gratitude for that shoestring purchase from the charity shop, and also for the delicious coffee and mince pie today.
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Shift

Nobody wants to hear that the month is too long for your money.  Debt is too personal, too emotional, too complicated to discuss, especially when there’s two of you involved. I have some money mum left me when she died 22 years ago, it’s my security blanket; only I can cash it.  The amount matches our rapidly expanding credit card bill, and also the monetary worth of my husband's broken classic car, which is his dream.

The unsaid stuff has to be bought into the light.  I no longer focus my energies on cleaning enough houses to keep the wolf from the door, now I focus on birth work, some paid, some unpaid…unpredictable, but then so’s birth.  My husband turns a blind eye to my lack of regular monetary input in return for me turning a blind eye to the credit card payments which are spiralling us into enormous debt, and the car, the sale of which could save us. The discussion of these subjects means reaching into the depths, to places we don’t go, uncorking a flood of anger and aggression which is really only fear.

We talk.  Cry.  It’s unbelievably painful and big and awful, healing, refreshing and freeing.  I love him more than all this crap anyway.

I cash mum’s saving investment thing, to pay the card.  Will the money come before Christmas?  I don’t really care. The tree is up, and our children and grandchildren will all be here, each will bring some food to share.  I haven’t the money to pay my phone, or the gym, or Sky TV, or to drive to meet a prospective client, but what’s meant for me will never go by me.  I keep a tenner for petrol for the Christmas birth client who is only two doors away but birthing in hospital, and for my clinics.  Another for presents for the little people in the family.  Another for bread and milk and cat food and chocolate.  I give thanks for having all that I need.

  I look forward to the fun and cheer, the catching up, and to slipping away from the shindig when the call comes to be with a woman as her baby begins to move from within her and another human arrives earth-side to fulfil his or her destiny on this planet.
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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Best friend #Gratitude!



Ernie is my hairy best friend with the awful breath.  He loves a walk up the hill to the windmill and through the woods, unless it's night time, when for some reason he isn't so keen on that walk.

In the dark I stand there waiting for him to stop sniffing or doing whatever doggies do, then as my eyes adjust to the night I see that he's not doing anything at all.  He's just standing there, on the end of his lead, looking at me, and he resists my gentle tug and words of encouragement.  I've realised it's probably wise to trust his intuition, especially on a lonely dark road, so back we go.  Funny fella, hates fireworks or loud bangs, and black Labradors. 

Today he very kindly gave up his daytime stroll and kept me company on the bed instead.  I thought I was coping with this cold and had a list of jobs to get through this afternoon, but it go the better of me and I snuggled under the duvet with two hot water bottles, a mug of Lemsip, and Gladiator.  And Ernie of course!
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Monday, 12 December 2016

12.12.16 pre dawn light



This was taken around 7.45am and it lasted all of about 5 minutes before the sky was overcast and grey again and 'red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning' proved correct as it's been dark, wet and dingy and cold all day!! So grateful to have seen and captured this glorious beauty!
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Growing out my Pixie, 1 year on!



12th December. My wedding anniversary, 29 years this year, and my 1 year hair growth anniversary!

Same necklace, same earrings, same nose-stud, same knickers, only joking. I have waited a whole year to put this picture up!!! It is exactly one year on from the very last time I cut my hair!!

My last salon visit was actually 17 months ago, and from then on I cut my own hair.  I honestly couldn't have sustained a pixie cut without being able to see to it myself.  Not only would the cost of visiting the salon every 2 or 3 or even 4 weeks been prohibitive, but I just am not the kind of person who has salon visits as part of my routine.  Even if money were no object, I just can't be arsed with that sort of commitment.  Doing it myself was the only way, and I had only just used my brand new hair razor when this photo was taken.  It was super easy to use, much better than thinning scissors or ordinary scissors. 

I had already decided that this was my last cut though, and I was looking forward to seeing how it grew out.  I photographed it every other month as you can see, and some months have been more painful than others!  It was ok all the while it was still 'short' hair because I could style it as such, but May and June were a struggle as its so coarse and thick but was still too short to be put up.  July saw the breakthrough I needed and I could make a teeny-tiny pony tail and clip the rest out of the way. 

Halfway through November I suddenly became able to put it all up in one elastic.  It doesn't yet stay there for any length of time without copious clippage, but it felt good to reach that milestone.  The actual hair has grown a good 6 inches, so that's great, but due to its thick curly nature and the fact that I have a huge head, that growth isn't yet enough for me as it still appears to be just under chin length.

The other issue has been the fact that with it being so short, I have been bleaching it as being short and grey was too far into grannyville for me.  After around 8 months of solid bleaching every 3-6 weeks, my hair is showing signs of damage.  I decided after bleaching it on the 16th October that it was ridiculous to be trying to grow it and systematically destroying it at the same time, so I have stopped for the time being.  We'll see how that goes, but I am loving the dark grey that's coming through front and back.

To support my poor hair's health whilst growing it, I have purchased some Damage Remedy shampoo and conditioner from Aveda.  I already have the Intensive Restructuring treatment from Aveda's Damage Remedy range and it is fantastic.  The following month I bought the Moisture Remedy conditioner too, and a little travel size shampoo.  I can't recommend this highly enough.  My hair looks so, so much better for these shampoos.  I don't even freak out over the colour when my toner washes out because the hair just looks so great.  I still use Nutrogena's coal tar shampoo for dandruff every so often, as I get a sore scalp, and I am attempting to leave at least two days between shampoos to stop my hair from drying out.

Hair grows faster in the spring, so I would estimate that my next milestone will be around then, with me feeling like I finally have left the legions of the short haired.  I'll post an update soon, and review my Aveda haul in more detail if you'd like?
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Week 49 in pictures



The morning of Saturday 3rd December was super-busy with costume preparation. I know, its the very end of Bonfire (boo-hoo, and thank God, all at the same time) and you would be forgiven for thinking that I had all the costume I ever needed to hand by now, but we missed the penultimate out meeting in Hawkhurst and somehow over the course of that 12 days or so of not bonfiring, costume got spread to the four winds. Plus we had a guest bonfirer coming with us, who needed kitting out as a pirate.  It was great to have Trev along, but I was a bit concerned about how he'd cope with the evening, due to his health issues. Luckily he has relatives in the village we were visiting, so he had somewhere to retreat when he needed to. 

Before leaving for Rottingdean, we attended a very special birthday party for two little honeys.  It was lovely to see the little ones playing, and spend time in a room with some of my very favourite and most important people.

Monday saw a trip to St Marks intestinal failure clinic with Trev. A chance to talk over his ever-present symptoms with his specialists, and make sure that his care is all in place.  I had slipped on Saturday night on the wet road in my pirate boots and bruised my coccyx and found the car journey rather painful, though mercifully traffic free for once.

The large glass of Sauvignon happened on Thursday evening in a pub located very close to the house I grew up in.  I had just enjoyed the Volunteers' Christmas dinner at the hospital, and when Dave came to pick me up, we headed off to the pub to chat over our days.  I love going back to this absolutely huge Victorian building, and thinking that when I was a little girl, safe in my bed at home, beer was flowing here then, as now.

At the weekend I put up some coloured Christmas lights as everyone seems to have cold blue or white lights up (including us) so I bought some £7 lights from Wilkinsons for the tiny tree in the hall, and they went all round the mirror too! 
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