Category Archives: positive

Reframing

After my last post, where I found myself in Limbo Land, I made a decision to try and enjoy today. We are back holidaying in the caravan and this time have come back to a place we have visited many times and love dearly, The New Forest. For those who don’t know, it’s on the south coast of England and is a beautiful area. Beaches, villages, gorgeous coastline and of course the forest itself. The weather is not forecast to be in our favour but today, other than one almighty downpour, it stayed dry and sunny. We cycled around 10 miles through the forest directly from the caravan site. Coming across wild pony after wild pony. Gorgeous brooks and purple heather stretching far and wide. It was gorgeous. Once back, we all sat out in the sun and I lay back in my luxury reclining chair (a treat to myself on our last trip) and I fell asleep. Completely zonked out. Likely I was snoring or dribbling, I was so out of it. I was fast sleep for an hour and woke up feeling totally refreshed and renewed. We ate dinner out (huge bonus), followed by us all doing our own thing for a while before watching a movie in the awning (tent attached to the van).

All in all it has been a better day than of late. At times, I still felt irritable and snappy. I also worried excessively that one of the boys will hurt themselves, or that we were cycling miles in the wrong direction. I just can’t seem to ‘chill’ or ‘go with the flow’. There were, however, other times when I cycled merrily along at my own speed and just enjoyed the moment. No real yearnings for alcohol today and not wishing for something different or better. A good day.

I have started to wonder if restarting the antidepressants might be a good idea. It’s been a couple of months since I stopped them and I am noticing the difference without them. I know they don’t solve underlying problems but I have lost that sense of peace and calm I had when I was taking them. The combines effect of antidepressants and sobriety seemed to reduce the negativity and endless worrying about everything and nothing. I’m not sure, still thinking, but it is worth considering.

I had another thought today, triggered by something Collette said in a comment on my last post. I am in limbo at the moment, feeling stuck and somewhat trapped. Collette suggested considering that it might be for a reason. There could be a purpose to not moving forward right now. After today, it dawned on me how little time I have left to be with my two boys doing what we have done. Cycling, having tea out, chilling in the sun and watching a movie in the awning. Maybe, just maybe, I am meant to be standing still. I have focused on the negatives of Limbo Land but there could be positives. This is an opportunity to focus on my children. To be available for them should they need it. I have been worrying about the future, when they have flown the nest, forgetting that they are still here now. This could be the time to truly build my ‘adult to adult’ relationships with them both. It is also the time to soak up the last few years of their childhood and form some everlasting memories. I am reframing ‘being stuck’. I’m changing it to ‘taking a pause’. There will be an appropriate time to make changes and move forward again. For now I will pause, tread water and be Mum for a while.

Claire x

Happiness

Happiness is a strange thing isn’t it? I’m not even sure if I can detect when I am happy and when I am not. I know immediately when I feel sad. I am getting better at recognising anxiety, which is positive because it enables me to deal with the impact of it more proactively. It’s often related to fear. But happiness is not as easy. I think sometimes those moments of joy and pleasure pass me by without my awareness.

Maybe I was better at being ‘happy’ when I was younger. I look back at childhood moments and I can relive feelings of total happiness, like Christmas night and jumping in a pool on a family holiday. Happiness came with a sense of glee and excitement. As I moved into my 20s and 30s it was linked with having a good time, usually with booze heavily involved. I was always happy when I was drinking. Wasn’t I? I think we all know the answer to that question. Then, getting older, I guess my happiest times were my wedding day and having the boys. Experiencing motherhood and the overwhelming happiness it brought me. Feeling their love, their excitement and their sense of glee. Nothing made me more happy than hearing them squeal with delight at a new toy, watching them run around the garden or cuddling up with them on the sofa to watch a favourite TV programme. Their total adoration because I am ‘mum’ brought me pure joy.

It seems a little trickier now for some reason. I don’t think it’s that I’m not happy, I just don’t seem to take the time to realise those moments when they do occur. They do still happen. There is a difference now though. My happiness comes from within a lot of the time. It isn’t out of a bottle of wine. It’s generally not because of a new purchase, though I am a sucker for gifts. It comes when I’m feel content and comfortable in my own skin. Being a mum still brings me happiness of course but I can’t rely and depend entirely on others for joy. I miss those moments of pure hilarity or craziness that used to happen years ago. That said, there are times recently where something or someone brings a smile to my face, makes me laugh right from my belly, triggers those old childhood feelings of excitement and joy and absolutely, without doubt, makes me happy. I am very grateful for that.

Claire x

Today

I have a mindfulness journal. I found it in a cheap bookshop and art store. It was £3. I have almost filled it with thoughts and emotions. There are exercises and prompts to help focus my writing and one of the final questions was …

What do I want to do today?

I’m not a writer by any stretch of the imagination but this is what I wrote ..

Today I want to move forward 
Today I want to feel acceptance and gratitude
Today I want love, peace and kindness
Today I want calm
Today is a day for people who love, respect and care for me
Today I want to let go
Today I want mindfulness, joy and laughter
Today I want nature and fresh air
Today I want family
Today I want friends
Today I want to look in the mirror and say ‘I like you, you’re ok’
Today I want to breathe
Today is the day it happens
Today I will move forward

The instruction was to write down one thing but as always I went rogue and created a huge ‘to do list!’ I won’t accomplish it all today, but TODAY is where it begins.

Love Claire xx

Thank you

This is a really quick post to let all you lovely people know that I’m ok. Yesterday was an awful day but I survived and I’m a teeny bit calmer this morning.

Thank you for all your amazing comments, support and love yesterday. I can’t tell you how much your kindness helped and how much it meant to have you all here. I was going to delete the post because I felt slightly embarrassed and self pitying but I’ve decided to leave it there. I think it’s important to read the comments when I feel that way again and to remind myself that, no matter how scary it was at the time, I got through it. It may help someone who stumbles across it and connects with the emotions and distress. So it will stay.

Thanks to you all once again. You really are the most amazing group of people. Your love and care for me yesterday was palpable.

I’m still here

Love Claire x

Life goes on

Last night I had very little sleep. I received a work email at around 11.30pm and stupidly I looked at it. I won’t go into details but I’m currently in one of those situations where I’ve taken on an additional role, not been paid for it but I wanted to do it to support my team. My grade for my regular post is significantly lower than anyone else doing the same job across the UK anyway and my employers have never been too fussed by that. Anyway, the long and short is the email made me feel incredibly devalued and demotivated. I have made a decision that I won’t continue with the additional role because the offer of any pay increase is minimal in real terms and the trust (I work for the NHS) won’t address any of the issues I have raised. They want me to continue working like a crazy woman but only do the bare minimum to support me. I would be a total mug to carry on.

Many reading this will wonder what the issue is. If the package isn’t right, don’t do it. The problem is more complex than that. When I’m challenged at work and have responsibility for making changes and decisions, although stressful, it motivates me. It actually keeps boredom and depression at bay. I want to make changes and influence our service for the families, children and adults we treat. I get a real buzz from that. It’s only possible to be influential if you are in certain positions and are mixing in certain circles. However, if I continue to invest the same level of time and energy with absolutely no recognition or support, I’ll likely end up struggling with my mental health anyway, just from the stress and resentment alone.

What to do? I don’t have the answer. Maybe it’s time for a change anyway. I’m limited with where I can go with my specialist clinical skill set and location constraints. I’ve considered volunteering for the Samaritans and have applied. I was going to put this on hold due to work pressures and time commitments but maybe that’s the way forward now. I’ve considered further education and completing a masters or even a PhD … finally using research to validate a patient outcome measure I developed years ago. Last night I was so wound up and frustrated at reading the email. This morning I cried big tears as I wrote to the individual whose role I have been covering, informing them I would not be continuing. Now, though I feel sad about the situation, I am already looking ahead and making new plans. I recognise this is so different to where I was a year ago. I’m not hungover, jaded and feeling sorry for myself. I’m calm and I will manage. I am hurting though. Life always seems to throw up little challenges and tests along the way. Decisions to be made. Keeps us on our toes I guess. Dealing with them sober is the only way I can cope. Thank God I am sober.

Love Claire xx

Liebster Award

Well, how exciting! The lovely Collette nominated me for the Liebster Award and although I hadn’t come across it before, her description of the meaning of the German word ‘Liebster’ is lovely. Look it up. Whilst you’re at it, take a look at Collette’s blog Wine to Water. It’s one of my favourite reads and she writes beautifully. It’s honest, thought provoking and true to life and I just know you’ll love it. Thanks so much Collette, I am very flattered to be nominated. I really enjoyed finding out about you in your Liebster Award post. I hope I do the nomination justice.

Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Share 11 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions.
  • Notify your nominees one you have uploaded your post.

My answers to Collette’s questions …

  1. If you had the ability to turn back time, what time period would you return to? My answer to this is a little dull really. I’d like to go back to the naughties. 2004 to 2014 specifically. I’d love to just experience my little babies once more and also the toddler and early school years. I love them dearly now but if I had a chance to experience it again …
  2. If you could return anything you own and get a refund, what would it be and why? My food processor. It was on my wedding gift list and it’s huge and literally never been used. It has 101 attachments and a billion different functions. It scares me! It’s sat in a cupboard for almost 17 years and I can’t bring myself to bin it. Oh the guilt!!
  3. If you could get rid of one vegetable or fruit in the entire world, what would it be and why? Raisins. I don’t think I even need to give an explanation. Devil’s food.
  4. Is there an item you find completely useless and it shouldn’t even exist in the first place? Eyelash curlers.
  5. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? This is a really tricky one as I’m not really very well travelled. From the things I’ve heard, read and seen I’d like to try New Zealand. The outdoor living with beautiful scenery. The ‘Swiss Sundayposts of Bereaved Single Dad have definitely put Switzerland up there in my top three. In all honesty though, I love the UK. I don’t like how it’s run and there’s a great deal I’d change if I could but it’s a beautiful place. I’d perhaps move nearer the sea or into the countryside though.
  6. What is your biggest fear? I’m frightened of losing those I love and cherish.
  7. What is your favourite family vacation? We have had some fab family holidays but I have to say, my favourite is probably our trip to the US a couple of years back. We saw so much, visited amazing places mountains, beaches, New York, Washington plus we spent real quality time in North Carolina with my cousin and his gorgeous family. All four of us had a phenomenal experience. It was the perfect family holiday.
  8. What would you change about yourself if you could? Hmmm 🤔 how shallow should I be here? My wrinkles, my pot belly, my inability to do anything musical? Actually my first thought was my depression. It is something I really wish I didn’t struggle with but I am much better now and it happens less and is short lived. I just wish it didn’t happen at all, mainly because of the impact it has on those I love.
  9. What makes you really angry? Injustice and unfairness. In anything. I’ve had to learn to let those things go a little more as it only leads to bitterness and resentment. They are not a good look!
  10. What is your proudest accomplishment? Can I cheat and have two? The first is my boys. I’m so proud of them both and the young adults they are developing into. The second, without doubt, is becoming sober over 5 months ago. I had a very dependent relationship with alcohol and it was a hugely important part of my life. Giving it up has literally changed my life, for the better. I am a different person and I take all the credit for getting to this place. I don’t mind boasting about it!
  11. What was the last movie you went to? What did you think? The Rise of Skywalker. This is the final film in the Star Wars trilogy. It was generally quite boring and all a bit far fetched and fairytale. I don’t often get to go and watch films at the cinema of my own choosing. It’s often star wars, marvel or similar. That’s the joy of being a mum of boys I guess.

11 facts about me

  • My birthday is on Sunday
  • I have ‘twin toes’ on my right foot
  • I love to sing but I’m awful at singing
  • I cross stitch 😡 🧵
  • I am a Speech and Language Therapist and I work with children and adults with cleft lip and palate or speech issues related to palate function.
  • I have two boys. They are 15 and 12 years old. They are polar opposites of each other in every way.
  • I love to play scrabble. My new favourite obsession is Word Feud online.
  • I can balance on my right leg for 149 seconds and on my left for 147 seconds. That’s my best effort to date!
  • I love all things ‘theatre’ … one of my favourite activities is a trip to the theatre. Musicals, plays, classical performances, concerts … anything. I’d love to have acted on the stage but never had the guts (or the talent!)
  • I have a fiery temper.
  • I am sober and delighted about it.

My nominees are:

  • Anne at Nomorebeer2019. This lady is sparky, bright, funny and honest. She can vary her style of writing and is always fantastic to read. Her support on mine and others blogs has been invaluable. She is one of my ‘Wordpress tribe’ and has a great way of saying it as it is.
  • Paige, Beyond Hedonism, is new to this … blogging and giving up the booze. She is doing brilliantly at sticking with something that is incredibly difficult to do. She is following a path many of us have walked down. Go check her out and support her.
  • Bereaved Single Dad has most likely been nominated for this award before but hey ho, he now has to answer my questions! His blog is a delight to read and he touches on many different subjects, with an unassuming and self deprecating style of writing that draws you in.
  • My final nominee is Anna, Storm in a Wine Glass. A lovely lady who has shared some really honest experiences about her life and who is forever encouraging of others. She too is open and honest and a huge support to many. Plus a great writer to boot.

I’m excited to find out more about my fellow blogging nominees so here are your 11 questions ….

  1. If you could have had any job/career what would it have been?
  2. If you were stranded on a desert island what three items would you choose to have with you?
  3. What the thing you like most about yourself?
  4. If you could relive one day again, exactly as it was before, what day would it be and why?
  5. If you could only see one more band/singer live, who would it be?
  6. What is your biggest achievement in your life so far?
  7. What’s your favourite way to relax (keep it clean please!)?
  8. You can have a superpower for a year. Which one would you choose?
  9. What’s your favourite time of day and why?
  10. What are you most afraid of?
  11. What are your ‘words to live by?’ Name the three most important for you.

Thanks again Collette for nominating me. I look forward to reading the responses to my questions and a few little facts about some of my favourite bloggers.

Love Claire xx

Easter kindness

I have to say, I don’t always find writing on my own blog very easy. I love reading other people’s and commenting but I just can’t seem to find the right words for my own post. Having said that, I’ve sat myself down in front of the lap top and I think I’m just going to chat about my Easter weekend. Just roll that dice, take a chance and have a ramble!

On Friday (Good Friday) it was a luxury to wake up late and not have to switch on my work laptop or check my phone for work emails. I have been grateful for work in recent weeks, its kept me occupied and stopped me descending into the Claire world of over thinking life, the universe and everything. I was so exhausted by Friday though and I made a purposeful decision to not ‘work’ at all for the Easter break. I lounged about in the morning, drinking tea, reading blogs and catching up with friends via what’s app. Then I went into the garden. Boy did I go wild in the wilds of our little oasis. The bushes and trees that run the length of the left hand side have not been touched since we moved in … 16 years ago!!! Once I start, I’m unstoppable. I pulled out weeds, that then suddenly became whole shrubs. There were trees with stumps as big as a bowling ball that came out in my hand when I pulled … because they were dead! I left huge gaping holes in the bushes. The neighbours are going to be delighted we can watch them sunbathe and also see what they are up to in the kitchen. Literally 3 days of cutting, pulling and bashing and its still no where near finished. You can imagine the pile of garden waste that now sits under, behind and in front of the trampoline. Oh and no garden waste collection (I forgot to renew it) and no refuge centres open. Oooooops. My husband is still not really speaking to me!

The gaping hole where the holy bush once stood.
Look what I did!!!

On Friday night we had a family quiz with my ‘in laws’ using Zoom. It was great fun. My parents joined in but I think I’m going to ban them from any similar activities until they agree to have their hearing tested. Multiple repetitions of each question becomes rather …. repetitive. By the end of the game people were clearly drunk, falling around and shouting at their respective devices. I sipped my alcohol free wine and was thankful that I gave it all up nearly 5 months ago. Sobriety has enabled me to cope with this lockdown and Covid-19 situation with a positivity and calmness than would not have been possible had I been still addicted to wine. Sure, I have bad days, but as Anna (Storm In A Wine Glass) said in her recent post ” I realise how my worst day sober is still a million times better than my best day drunk.”

Saturday and Sunday followed much the same pattern. Lots of gardening (well, destruction and demolition), chilled out lazy mornings and a trip to the supermarket for our food shop and one the for lady down the road. I arrived home from delivering her groceries to a little ‘care package’ left on my door step by my brother and his partner. He lives about a 40 minute drive away and had made the journey over to bring me some gorgeous goodies and treats. Their kindness overwhelmed me and I already knew I had a wonderful brother, but he really is the bee’s knees. I started thinking about ‘kindness’ after I’d checked out all the little gifts. It’s a quality I value greatly and true kindness is really a beautiful thing when it happens. I’ve had a lot of criticism throughout my life. Self-criticism, overt criticism, ‘subtle’ criticism and criticism meant to be constructive but really not. It has led to me being a little too judgemental and often having mean and unkind thoughts about others. In the past I have slipped into, not particularly nice, conversations about certain people and not really given it much thought. Since ditching the booze I have made a conscious effort to not do any of this, practicing kindness in how I act, behave and think. It’s actually an easier way of being. I still can find people irritating as hell and that’s ok. I’m not super human and people piss me off. I am, however, more able to understand a situation. I’m less bitter and resentful of what other’s have and do and I’m more at peace with my own world. In a selfish way, being kinder towards others has improved my ability to be kinder to myself. It’s a quality I want to instil in my boys. Plus you get really cute little gifts every now and then too!! Its a win win.

My little treats in the ‘care package’

Today, Monday, I have stayed out of the garden and left my husband to try and salvage something from the wreckage. I ran 5 miles and cleaned the house. I’ve made a tandoori chicken and rice tea for the boys and now I am sat typing this blog. My life is so different than it was 6 months ago. I am living under government restrictions but I am the most free I have been in a very long time. That’s a lovely feeling and I am going to savour the moment as my first sober Easter weekend draws to a close.

Love Claire xx

Cows spotted on my run, not following social distancing rules.

My week (in pictures)

When I left you last I wasn’t in a particularly good way. My unwelcome visitors were, well exactly that, unwelcome! Fortunately for me, this time they did not stay long and both Mr Anxiety and Mrs Depression went on their merry way as the week wore on. It’s hard to express how grateful I am that it was short-lived and I am following the advice you lovely people gave me. Yes, it’s normal to have periods like it and really important to continue telling myself it will lift. Things do get better.

The week trundled on. I was working in the hospital for two days and working from home for the other three. It’s been ridiculously busy but only in terms of organisation of services to enable patients to have some form of contact where needed. That’s been successful so far and assessing speech and communication over a video link has not been too tricky. I think it might be due to the ‘screen’ factor. I appear to be far more interesting now I’m on their phone, tablet or laptop. We cover an enormous region as a specialist service and I think this will change how we work in the future. It will enable some families to access services much more easily and not have to commute a one to two hour journey to see us. Every cloud eh? All staff have now received a letter informing us that we may now be redeployed to work on the front line and requested to cover shortages in other locations, in area outside of our usual roles. I just hope they give me some basic training if I have to do anything, particularly if nursing based – I could be more of hindrance than a help.

I’ve continued to support those in need in our local area. The people have been lovely and so appreciative of being able to have some shopping done for them when self isolating. To be honest, they are very straightforward as far as shopping goes. Compared with my own Dad anyway. His list consisted of baby plum tomatoes, Sainsbury’s taste the difference sausages, Rachel’s coconut yogurt, Coleman’s English mustard and a partridge in a pear tree! He and my mum are doing well with self distancing and I’m proud of them for sticking with it and following all the guidelines. We decided to delay Mum’s surgery for the skin cancer on her leg and nose. We agreed it was better to take the risk of a slow growing cancer getting worse than picking up Covid-19.

A little stop on my run yesterday

I’ve carried on running. I’m getting back into it slowly. It’s an interesting experience where some people make a lot of effort to move out of your way and there’s a clear mutual respect of the distancing rules. Others are not moving for nobody. No way. Not even a pretend wobble to appear like they are making an effort. They just keep on walking, sometimes two or three people across the path and I end up being forced to run into the road. I never ceased to be amazed by some people. Like those who are busily clearing out their houses of junk with all th spare time they suddenly have. Said junk is then bagged up and helpfully dumped outside charity shops who are, surprise surprise, shut. Never mind eh? I guess they are being ‘good’ by donating their useless crap to charity. Just someone else now needs to deal with it all.

Before the gardeners came off the Xbox to help

I’m trying to have some ‘me’ time but with work and having the boys home it isn’t easy. To be fair, they’d be happy on their screens all day long but we are trying to restrict that. Today they helped in the garden. It needs a lot of work and much to their disgust they had to spend 3 ours weeding and picking up the pruned branches. I spent my day cleaning. Let me just say, I HATE cleaning. Unfortunately, my anxiety was not the type that encouraged me to get cleaning and tidying. I particularly don’t like cleaning toilets. But today I did three of them and the surrounding areas. I also gave the kitchen a good going over. It actually felt good! My brain switched off and I sang and wiggled about to 90’s Indie music. I’m not promising anything, but maybe I might be persuaded to try the lounge and back room tomorrow. It could be a rock day for Alexa. Who knows?

A sparkly kitchen and alcohol free wine!

So, with the guinea pigs fed, our burgers ready to eat and my alcohol free wine poured, I’ll sign off. I’ll add some photos to make the whole thing more interesting. Oh, one more thing, I have reached 20 weeks sober today. 20 weeks. TWENTY WEEKS!!! I’m just going to give myself a big round of applause. Still the best decision I have ever made.

Biscuit and Toffee enjoying tea

Stay safe all

Love Claire

Up and running again

One of the weirdest weeks ever! Every single day, four or five times a day, things change. Plans are made, then unmade. People can’t work from home, people MUST work from home unless they absolutely can’t. Some of my staff are all guns blazing … let me get out there and fight this thing, others wanting to run away and hide. So challenging to deal daily with tears, tantrums and hysteria .. and that’s just my own.

So, I am finally set up (kind of) with the technology required to work from home for some days. How long for is unknown, like so many things right now. I may be redeployed to help elsewhere. God help anyone I have to care for. I’m not even sure where you shove a thermometer.

My first experience with Zoom teleconferencing was hilarious. Clearly the NHS world is not used to this type of futuristic magic. There were people who just did not realise they needed to mute their screen. We heard someone home schooling and yelling at a very bored child, saw someone relaxing on his hammock in his back garden and listened as a member of staff went to the bathroom. It was the highlight of my day.

Today I had an SOS call from a neighbour. They’d seen my leaflet and wanted someone to get supplies as they are elderly, in poor health and their son is now self isolating. She sent me her shopping list and told me it might be difficult to get her bread as she’s glutton free! I wish I was glutton free. Then I might not have this wobbly chocolate belly,

Finally, today I managed to go for a run. I have really lost my exercise mojo over recent weeks, even months. Today, however, with the sun shining, I stuck on my trainers and off I went. I walked/ran for two miles and ran for another 3. Shattered but good to get out after 3 days of high stress and anxiety (not mine for a change, other people’s). I’m planning to run most days now. Make it a routine.

I was asked by a fellow blogger to post some photos when running, so here they are …

It’s been a week of many firsts and of rising to challenges. I’m coping with change without panic and emotion and with a little bit of humour. I’m doing all of it sober. In fact, what I now know is that I have to be sober to deal with it. As people around the UK clapped for NHS workers, care staff, frontline employees, supermarket assistants, delivery man … etc etc … I realised that we have to ride this storm. I intend to do just that and to do it sober.

Stay safe, look after yourselves and keep in touch by blogging or commenting.

Claire xx