The ability to be grateful

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
Albert Schweitzer

Have you ever Googled yourself? I know that its an odd thing to do but usually when you do it you find out that there is someone with your name that lives the other side of the world and seems to have a much more interesting life and profession than you do. Not so long ago I googled me and I, the real me, came up first in on the page. This genuinely shocked me, surely there was another Janet Pullin out there who had more to say, more fun to share, more ‘life hacks’ to impart to the world, but apparently not. So the number one search result for Janet Pullin is a 53 year old women from England who has been emotionally smacked about a bit by life over the past 4 years and if you read my blogs, especially the original ones I wrote after Jacob’s death, you might argue that I have little to be grateful for.

We all have trauma of some sort, whether it is the death of loved ones, financial insecurity, relationship struggles or mental health issues. No one on this earth is immune to the waves of life. It is easy to be consumed by this trauma, and some days it is all you can do to keep your head above the waves. Days where you think that your spark has gone out and can never be lit again. I have had those days, we all know people who have had those days or are having them right now, so how can we feel gratitude?

I recently listened to a piece on gratitude, on what we can be grateful for. It didn’t talk about possessions or jobs or holidays or money, it talked about people, the people that help relight your spark, who walk with you no matter what. Some will come into your life for a period of time, some will come into your life and you will walk the entirety of life’s path together.

So what am I grateful for?


My faith sparks my life. I will admit that after losing Jake my faith was rocked to its foundation, I was taken into the depths of myself and I was so lost and angry, for weeks all I could say is why? I hear you ask, how can I still believe? I believe because my faith is the one thing that really gives me hope. This world does not give me hope, things do not give me hope, many people do not give me hope, but when we lost our son, God sent a torrent of loved ones to us, people who waited patiently for us, who cried with us, held our hands. My faith… no, my God has shown me that this is not the end, that beyond this place is an eternal light where we will never be put out. My Christian belief gives me a reason for being and gives me people with shining souls to travel with.

Soulmate and little lights

To say that I am grateful for my husband and children would be an understatement. After the death of a child many marriages fall apart, broken heart become broken relationships and broken homes. We knew that it would be difficult, that some days would be hard to bear. We, as a couple, made a conscious decision to cling to each other rather that to push the other one away. It is not always easy, but marriage is not an eternal round of flowers and hearts and long moon lit walks on the beach. We know, as a family, that we are damaged people, but we are not the only ones and after the things we have had to endure we have every right to be damaged.

I am grateful for my children. For the 24 blessed years I had with Jake. For the continuing blessing of Joel and Evie. That we continue to be a family, the five of us and that Jake is still alive in all of us. I am grateful for my beloved mum and the wonderful relationship we all had with her and the years of laughter and joy she brought to me especially. She was an example of an independent women who herself was tossed about by the storms of life but survived. And of course her undying love and devotion for her family.

Our walking buddies

To my last breath I will be grateful for those who have walked this life with me, to those who ran to us in our hour of need. Who stayed with us, fed us, loved us and prayed for us. I often wonder to myself how one woman can have such a wonderful family. Those who are related to me by blood and marriage and those who have become as dear to me as family.

It’s funny how you don’t realise how wonderful people are until you hit a brick wall. How the world is full of truly great, kind and compassionate individuals. We see so much that is wrong with our world, so much selfish and power grabbing ways, but there is also so much good. Little acts of generosity, angel voices whispering hope into your ear, long hugs that speak a thousand loving words. I have experienced and felt so much love for myself and my family that gratitude can be the only response.

To be grateful does not mean that you forget, that the things that have scarred you have magically disappeared. It just means that you are grateful for the people that held your hand during the hard times and grateful for those who continue to hold it still.

So I say thank you to all of you out there that helped rekindle my spark and continue to rekindle. To my faith, my family, my friends, your are a blessing to me; may we journey together always. I am and will ever be, eternally grateful.

The great indoors

It has been a long time since I last blogged, not sure what happened really. It’s like my creativity or my drive to write went into self isolation for a few weeks and I couldn’t find the words to write. I think that my upcoming operation (which of course was cancelled) Jacob’s birthday followed by sorting out Evie’s 18th over ran and overwhelmed me, but strangely enough, in amongst all this madness, I feel calmer, more me, more focused, my husband even remarked that it was good to have me back.

We live in strange times indeed. What to say about the Corona virus that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over already? As far as I can tell people fall into one of three camps. The first are those who are racked with fear and anxiety, who struggle to cope with the disruption to their lives, not because of any selfish motive, but through difficulty dealing with change and the threat of illness, not always their own but members of their family. The second are the majority of the population who rightly feel a degree of anxiety over this whole situation but who listen to the advice given and follow it, considering others health, not just their own. These people will do what they can to help others, even if this means staying away from them. Then we look at the third group, you know these people, the ones that consider any limitations to their freedoms or civil liberties totally unacceptable. Those who believe that the rules to protect others do not apply to them. I am not talking about those who continue to try to work to feed their families, not because they want to, but because they have little choice. Hopefully this will be sorted soon to give these people security, no, I am talking about the people who have little regard for others or believe this is all a bit “over the top”

What does a pandemic show us? Well it shows us that there are no real borders, that actually we are all the same under the sun. Disease and illness doesn’t care where you were born or what you do or did for a living. I think what makes the corona virus so difficult to bear is that it targets the elderly and the vulnerable, the people that we should be caring for the most anyway. I believe a society will be judged on how it treats the vulnerable, surely after this we will be judged on how we protected them, cared for them, loved them or gave them dignity as they moved on.

Secondly it shows us that regardless of all our technological break throughs, our wonder at our own achievements as a species, our pride at how we have evolved, we are not in control here, nature, especially when we ignore her, has a way of letting us know that we are not in charge. For all we are, for all we have done, a virus can bring the world to its knees.

Diseases have always come and gone, some stick around a bit longer than others, it has fallen to this generation, like many before it, to deal with a new one. The history books will record and document the virus of 2020 and I am sure that all of us living through these days will never forget it, but in the distant future all this will just be a history lesson or a chapter in a book.

For the majority of us in isolation this is just an inconvenience. We are not in a war zone where we cannot leave our house for fear of losing our lives, where parents sing to their children to mask the sound of the falling bombs. Some will sadly lose loved ones, some will lose jobs and businesses. Many will show the bravery of a beautiful heart and will work in key jobs to keep the rest of the nation going or volunteer to help the needy in our communities, the rest of us who watch on in gratitude praying that these amazing souls will get the recognition they deserve.

So what will I do? Well like most I will try to keep myself busy. I will go to the shop when necessary, take my one allotted outside walk a day keeping two metres from others doing the same and as hard as it is I will not see my beloved friends and family. It’s funny how when you cannot see someone you long to see them even more. I have loved being in constant contact with everyone, I appreciate them more understanding that the freedom we normally enjoy is a gift not to be squandered. I do know that when all this is over, in hopefully the not too distant future, that I will be hugging all those I love and have not been able to see, and probably won’t let go of them for a while.

My prayer for you is that you stay safe and well, follow the guidelines and then hopefully, very soon, the streets will be full of people getting closer and being grateful for each other. That the feeling of thankfulness will last a long time, that we as a generation will not forget and will never take what we have for granted.

God bless


New year, new you?

It’s 2020, a new year, a new decade but just another day. I gave up on making proper New Years resolutions many years ago. I may have a vague idea in my head of things I would like to achieve, things I would like to change, but so many resolutions end in us feeling guilty for our lack of progress or our lack of ability to see our resolutions through, another unnecessary pressure on us when so many have enough trouble just dealing with the day in front of them.

So, we have got through another Christmas and New year relatively unscathed. I wish I could say that I love this time of year but those days are gone, I cope, I survive, that is good enough for me now. But the question that is on my lips is, what now?

We are in our new home, that hurdle has been crossed, now we need to discover where we go from here. The house feels more like home. I am beginning to feel comfortable in finding my way around and we are starting to make connections in the area. My prayer is that the kids can begin to make a life for themselves, consider their own futures, have a bit more self belief, but what about me, what lies ahead for me, what do I want to do, what is my purpose on this planet.

When you have had the stuffing knocked out of you as we have, its difficult to really know what you want anymore. I had no particular career, I had always worked but had generally fallen into my jobs our of necessity and financial needs like most people do, but what now. I am not getting any younger, my face is sometimes unfamiliar to me but Janet still lurks inside, beaten by grief, but she is still there and she needs to decide what her God given purpose is now.

My poor sight now excludes me from so many jobs that most people would just take for granted, I cannot use normal computers, use machinery or work a till.I have always been blessed to find employment even with my disability, but it has been 15 years since I last started a new job and things have defiantly changed for me since then. To be honest I am not sure if I have the patients or the endurance for anything too mundane now So, what next?

I wish I could say this is a midlife crisis but think I am possibly too old for one of those now. If it is a midlife crisis then apparently I should go out and by a fast car, no good for me seeing as I am unable to drive, or have an affair, defiantly not my style, or go somewhere to find myself, and seeing as I know exactly where and who I am, that wouldn’t work either.

So, what next? I need to feel useful, to have purpose, to help others in some way. I need to be able to use what I have been through, what I have experienced, even learnt. I would still give my last breath to be able to turn back the clock 3 years, but if I cannot do that then I need to us it somehow just to make some sort of sense of it all. My writing has dried up over the past few weeks as I have felt uninspired and a little overwhelmed by the changes that have happened recently. Considering your options, looking at your abilities and skills is daunting in your 50’s so I am just going to move a little at a time and see where the path takes me.

The future is unknown and probably a good job too, if we could see our futures, many of us would not get out of bed, but the future is coming.

My purpose is unknown, I am sure that I must have one, we all do, but I am at a loss to know what mine is. It would be much easier if my purpose would come in letter form through my letter box, or come out of the sky, gently lowered by a flock of white doves, but its not going to do that, so I guess I will just have to try and work it out for myself. I know God has a plan, he just hasn’t read me in yet.

So, what’s next? I have a few ideas, things that rattle round in my head, its just the logistics of them, the working out of the kinks and seeing how I, with all my limitations, can actually move forward in them. I think the best we can all do it at least try, at least look beyond our four walls, at least look into the hearts and eyes of others around us and at least live and love. We owe it to those we have lost, those who wait for us and watch to see how we are doing.

I wish I knew what was next, what is around the corner, but I don’t. I do know is that its up to me how I approach it, how I deal with it. My purpose is as yet unseen, but its my job to search for it, to track it down and then to make the most of it.

My wish for you is that you have a blessed 2020 and that your purpose is filled with joy and peace.




Say hello and wave goodbye

We are here. We are in our new home and what a few weeks it has been. In the end we exchanging on the Thursday and moving the following Monday, not ideal and defiantly not our idea, but there it is, we are here in our new home.

We lived in Uxbridge in our old house for 20 years and to be honest I had forgotten how stressful moving is, that or I just coped better last time. Walford rd had been our home in some good times but also many really awful, traumatic times. When we lost Jacob, I knew straight always that we would need to move, but initially the house was so full of him and mum that it was too difficult to contemplate going. Two and a half years later and the truth is that without mum and Jake there, it was becoming less of a home and just a box full of memories, but memories go with you, they are not confined to 4 brick walls, they live in you and me, so it was time for a change.

In a strange way I use the past two and a half years as the bench mark for what is truly stressful, and I know in my heart that nothing in my life can ever compare to the loss of our child, that is true stress, true anxiety, but moving house was defiantly a difficult experience and I am not sure how some people move around so much.

There have been some parts that were laughable to, the guys packing literally everything in the house. They came two days before we moved and there packing included as well as all my clothes, all my underwear. Being asked by my husband if I had any clean knickers for myself as my had been packed in a sealed box, then Joel realising that they had packed every pair of shoes that he owned. If I was to give advice to someone else it would be to have your house professionally packed but to keep an emergency bag that included everything you needed until you get in your new home.

The moving day came, and the usual back and forth waiting for money transfers and so on whilst you watch all your possessions disappear into a large van or in our case two medium sized vans. The actual loading process took five and a half hours, then the hours drive to our new home then another five hours of unpacking and reassembling of beds etc. Was it a difficult day? Yes it really was, for all of us. I walked around my empty house in Uxbridge, said goodbye to the echoing four walls that no longer held my precious photos or the bits and pieces that we had all accumulated over the twenty years. It was a shell, a place of old images and memories, but no longer our home. It was time for us all to leave, it was time to say goodbye. I kissed the bedroom walls were my mum and three children had slept, walked down the stairs and them we closed our front door for the final time.

So we have moved.

The first three days we lived in amongst a sea of boxes, how do we as human beings accumulate so much stuff. The boxes had to go, I could not live or function with them baring down on me, so within around 4 days all the boxes in the house were emptied (of course we won’t talk about the garage at this point as I am trying to put forward an illusion of perfect organisation). In this respect I am a lot like my mum, once she started sorting things she would not stop until the job was complete. My mum was an organiser, she had to be I suppose, bringing up two children on her own in a time when a single parent family was still quite unusual.

It has been difficult, working out a new home, a new area, new transport links, new faces and places. I haven’t slept terribly well. You have all heard of a drunk purchase, well I had a lack of sleep purchase were at 4am one morning I bought a cat tower for by poor confined fur babies. Goodness knows what I was thinking, it is a pretty big beast which only one of my cats sits on, or uses to gain access to the window ledge to look at the birds that he is planning to terrorise when he is finally allowed out.

Moving house was difficult, it was stressful, it was traumatic but I think it was more so because of what we had gone through in the house, because of the memories, because of the past we held there. We are emotional creature, you do not put your emotions to the side and become a robot just because you are moving house. We made a choice to move, in contrast to all the events that were not of our choosing over the past two and a a half years. Will we find it difficult to properly settle, yes, we are and we will. Twenty years is a long time in one place but it was just a house. We will always keep our old friends whist maybe making new ones.

Any change is tough, me and my family understand that more than most, change will come, it will happen.

So, we have moved. Life can be hard, it tend to knock you about a bit. No one goes through this life without difficulties or problems. There is no league table of traumatic events, if there was I expect we would be near the top somewhere, but no one skips through this life. People often say to me “of course I haven’t been through any thing like you’ve been through.” No, maybe you haven’t, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t been through truly awful things, that your pain isn’t valid or real, of course it is, of course you have your cross to bare as we all do. Pain and grief is pain and grief regardless of the form it takes.

We moved because we need to look to the future, we had a choice, to make, move or never move, to stay in our house of memories. They say life goes on and I suppose it does, but it is not as simplistic as that. I still to this day do not recognise so much of my life. That is not just the moving house, we are a changed family, changed forever, irreversible. We acknowledge what we have all been through, our families and friends acknowledge it but it is us who deal with it on a daily basis, who see the effect of it ripple though all our lives in the full knowledge that it will never leave us, that there is no rest from it. So we hold it all close and walk with it everyday. We move forward, we try, we breath and we live.

A new chapter begins, but the old one does not close, nothing and no one is ever forgotten. We hold all that has been close and those we love closer. For the many who have helped us walk this narrow, winding path, I thank you, you will always be welcome in our new home, which is now full of all my precious phots pictures and things, but more importantly is full of my happiest memories which I have taken with me and full of love for my beautiful family.

God bless



New beginnings, the misunderstood necessity for change.

New places, new things, new people are always a little intimidating, a little scary and a little unsettling. Yet change always comes, whether we want it or not. Even when it is a wanted change, it can feel like a heavy weight of uncertainty that sits on you shoulders.

I sit in a cafe in Debenhams in Newbury town, a place I have never been before. It is a pleasant enough cafe with its inoffensive decor and framed landscape picture of nowhere in particular, the obligatory child screaming and crying in the corner. It has been a long morning and I am consoling my aching feet with a a sweet treat and a fizzy drink. Our day started early and so it is now time for a well earned break.

My daughter is at her induction day and we have travelled for 2 hours to get her here as we are hoping to move into this area in a few weeks and I being the dutiful mother wanted to come with her to support her. So i find myself in this blank canvas of a cafe wondering how she is getting on and considering the many changes that are to come in our lives.

We have had so much change, my children have had to endure so much of it. They lost their nan and then their brother, they have had change rammed down their throats for 3 years. In amongst this they left school, college, uni, we even lost the dog. Change can be so cruel, can come into your life unannounced and barge its way into your whole being.

I know I ask a lot of my children to endure more change, but moving is something we all want.

So why more change now? It’s time. Time to look at new streets, mew buildings, new things. Time for our memories to live in our hearts and head rather than on every street, in every door way. My hope and prayer is that maybe we could then settle, find consistency and stability. Find a new home and build new memories whilst carry our old ones with us where ever we go.

When tragedy strikes you life you only have two real choices, to carry on and try to live as best you can, or to lay down and never really get up again. So this is our way of trying to carry on, to start to rebuild a little, to try at least.

Nothing is ever set in stone, you can plan, but I and you know that things can change, you need to look down a different path. We try to take each days as it comes, what do they say, to live in the moment. I am not sure if I live in the moment, but what I do know if that the change that is coming can never be as bad as the change that has been. We have lived and survived the worst change that could ever happen to anyone.

I am proud of my kids, proud that they can still stand upright, proud that even though they are sometimes full of anxiety and doubt, they continue to get up every time they fall down.

We are not always successful, things don’t always work out the way we would hope, but we keep on trying, keep on fighting. There are occasions when I don’t like this world much. It is full of people who cannot see beyond their own noses, but we have such amazing support, people who have stood along side us as we have navigated all the changes in our lives.

Change will come, there is no stopping it, no halting it in its tracks. It will walk with you, occasionally nudging you of course or pushing you to the ground, want it or not, eventually it will come.

So I sit in my seat, drinking my fizzy drink and watch the people as they pass me. I can see by their questioning looks that they are wondering what I am typing, but for now it is a secret.

So much change makes me uneasy but it is a familiar emotion, one that has been a close friend for many months now, but it will not consume me, not today anyway. Today I will ‘go with the flow’ and pray that one day uneasiness will pass and routine will return. Pray that my beloved husband and children will walk a path of their choosing rather that one they are dragged down. If we have each other, if we continue to love those here and those who wait for us, then we have much indeed. Change is coming, change is already here. As my yoga teacher reminds me ‘ just remember to breath’

So we will take one breath at a time, one step, one day and everything else, including the future, will just have to wait for us to catch up.

Disability and independence – Navigating the world of the “normal”

There is one thing wrong with me, well lets be honest there are many things wrong with me, but the one thing that holds me back and stops me functioning as so many others do is my visual impairment.

I was born with terrible eye sight and wore glasses from a very young age. The doctors asked my mum if I bumped into things at home, I never did and have always managed to stay as independent as possible. Many people have difficultly believing that I have sight loss as I have no lovely dog leading me around and do not always use a white stick. I think like most disabled people I do not flaunt my disability and certainly do not want to be defined by it.

My condition was misdiagnosed up until about 6 or 7 years ago when a routine eye check up for my daughter lead to a chain of events which took most of my immediate family to an eye hospital in London were nearly all of us were found to have a genetic disorder called North Carolina macular Dystrophy, a rare condition that they believe came originally from Ireland and was first described in two Irish brothers in the USA, hence the name. Unfortunately for me the consultant said the I had the worse case sinario.

So here I am, sitting on a train on my way to Poole. Travel is a tricky one for most disabled people and this includes those who suffer from a mental disability as well as a physical one.

My husband came with me to the mainline station to help me find the correct platform to board from. Train stations are a confusing place. My disability means that I am unable to read the information boards and many of the signs. I have problems finding my way around an unfamiliar space as I have not been able to yet memorise the visual queues I use to find my way around. Those with a hearing impairment will not hear the announcements being made, wheel chairs will struggle in such a crowded space as a mainline station in rush hour and those with anxiety must find these places pretty distressing.

I needed to find my way to the front five carriages, a simple task I hear you cry. So I walked and walked as the platforms at Waterloo station in London seem to go on for ever and I was unable to see where the front of the train was. My initial plan was to just walk right to the front then make my way back for a couple of carriages but after walking for what seemed an age, I got onto the train and asked someone which number cartridge it was. A kind fellow passenger, having spotted my white stick, told me it was number 3 carriage so I settled down for my journey.

The trip it self was thankfully uneventful. We had informed the train company that I would be travelling alone and as we neared my destination stop the guard announced that he would be walking through the carriages to see if anyone needed assistance, so I grabbed my chance when I saw him and asked about my stop and the distance from the train to the platform.

The guard was genuinely pleased to see me as he knew someone with a visual impaired was on board but had not spotted me yet. By now it was dark outside and I was very grateful for his help in disembarking as I had managed to place myself on the part of the train which would stop at the darkest part of the platform. Although I do have sight, my ability to see is diminished in the dark. My friends met me outside the station so all was well.

There is no spontaneity when you are a disabled traveller, you cannot just get up and go and work it out as you go along. My independent journeys have to be planned and marked out. Which trains to use and full instructions and directions once I have left the train if I am in an unfamiliar area. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for wheelchair users, so much of our transport network is completely inaccessible for anyone who is unable to stand or walk.

I knew from an early age that if I wanted to be independent I would need to use public transport, “you will never be able to drive or operate heavy machinery” was the incredibly helpful news that was given me by the hospital when I was a young child. Finding a way to go places, alternative ways to do things and recognising when to ask for help because I cannot do it on my own, has been a life long adventure for me and the fact that we will be moving to a new area will mean learning new routes and memorising new areas, but I am fortunate to have the help of my family and friends.

The world we live in is not set up for difference. If you have a difference of any kind, whether it be physical or mental, you need to find your own way of navigating the world around you, this sometimes can be incredibly difficult and limiting. Sometimes I wish I could drive so I didn’t have to rely on other people, I wish I could see better so I could get a job without any limitations, I wish I could read my own handwriting still. I am realistic and know that those days are gone and then I look around me and see so many others that struggle with far greater challenges than I have to face and I know that actually I should be incredibly grateful for the level of independence I do have.

There is no “normal”. This concept has been created to find a middle ground, but what is normal? We are all so individual, no two people are the same. I have never met a “normal” person in my life and I am glad of it. Diversity, including disability, is what makes humanity so interesting, so exciting. All I want is that my personal difference does not define who I am, does not hold me back completely, that society acknowledges my difference but does not judge me by it.

To travel as a disabled person can be difficult, even annoying at times but I do not want these difficulties and annoyances to stop me from trying to keep my independence as much as possible.

I had a wonderful time at my friends so all the preparation and planning were worth it and having travelled on my own on the mainline trains once means that next time I will not find it such a daunting prospect. You see as a visually impaired person I don’t want or need anyone to hold my hand, I just need society to help me find my own way. Disabled people are just that, people. They are not of lower intelligence or somehow want different things from able bodied people. I am not my eyes any more than a person in a wheel chair is their legs or someone with anxiety and depression is their brain, we are whole people, mothers, sons, daughter, fathers etc.

Yes I am visually impaired, yes the chances of me recognising you from across the street are nil and yes I do have to sit that close to the TV, but first and foremost I am me, Janet, daughter, wife, mother and actually an alright individual.

Do you sometimes struggle with things that others might find easy, are you or do you know someone with a disability? Why not let me know your’s or their’s experience of navigating this world. Maybe we could share tricks and tips to make our literal and figurative journeys easier.



The image of you.

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

So many of us are unsatisfied with the image that looks back at us in our mirrors. Too fat, too thin, too short, wrong hair, wrong eyes, too many chins and of course, the dreaded cellulite. In short, we are unhappy on how we look or how the ravages of time is taking a tole on our bodies.

Not wanting to age is a common thing, but increasingly now it is the young that are unhappy with their appearance. Perfectly beautiful younger people are taking to surgery or creams and potions to try to achieve an unreachable goal, and most of them realise that what they see on Instagram or online is not a real image of a person but a filtered, adjusted one. So why then do they, and we, still strive for what society shows us to be the perfect face and body?

The perfect image of a women has changed dramatically over the years.

In the renaissance period women were painted as curved with round faces and pale skin. To have a little bit more flesh on your body meant that at least you had enough to eat, in an era when survival was more important than looks for the majority of the population.

Queen Elizabeth 1 was crowned in 1558 and is famously picture with Snow White skin and deep red lips. White skin was a sign of upper class status as the poor had to work outside so were always tanned. Those who wanted to be seen as coming from a higher status group followed the queens example and she continued to slap on the face paint to keep her virginal image and later to hide her small pox scars. Consider now that some spend copious amount of money to have tanned skin which in the past would have been considered a sign of poverty.

It’s worth remembering that make up was worn equally by men and women and after the French Revolution the aristocracy wanted to distance themselves from the image of the past and so paired back on the make up and went for a more natural look.

In Victorian times the Pale, frail and weak look was all the rage. Society dictated that being a mother and staying at home should be enough for a women and her body shape, dress and face should not show her as strong. In some quarters the sick, weak look was seen as beautiful. Make up at this time was positively dangerous. Ingredients included substances such as mercury, lead and nightshade, most women knew that what they were putting on their faces was deadly but were willing to risk it to look more beautiful and to please their men.

Fast forward to the 1920s and women who had worked during the First World War had a taste of independence and were not willing to give it up. For the first time the perfect body image of curvy and fertile change to a more boyish look. The Flapper style was short hair and slim and unfortunately began the modern day obsession of being thin.

Since the 1920s the perfect woman has varied to some degree but on the whole it is still slim, flawless skin and perfect hair as soon as you step out of your bed in the morning.

It is amazing to realised, that women especially, have always been dictated to on how they should look and let’s be honest here, most of it is so that women look more desirable to men. We have so much more equality now but rather that us becoming freed from the shackles of image, men are now being dragged into an endless bombardment of how they should look. So much money is spent on image that companies have realised that men can be shamed into buying products just like women can.

Do I buy beauty products? Of course I do. I have grown up and live in the real world like we all do, but I know that at 52 years old, time has the upper hand but after I have departed this world I would rather be remembered and loved by my family and friends for what I did and not for how fab I looked. My concern is for the younger generation who are hounded by images on social media. Unattainable, fantasy images. You cannot become or emulate something that is not real. Eat healthier and exercise because it will give you a longer illness free life, not because what you see in the mirror scares or disappoints you.

We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made”. We are all different and meant to be that way, you cannot be a carbon copy of someone else nor should you want to be. Yes you can have plastic surgery or fillers to change your appearance, but you will still be you underneath, no amount of money, products or going under the knife or needle will change that. If we could only teach the next generation to take care of themselves for the benefits to their mind and body rather than how many likes they get in Facebook or Instagram. We are breeding a generation where how you look is everything rather than what you do or achieve or how much love and kindness you show to others. We need a generation of young people who’s hearts and souls are beautiful.

So when you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you look to criticise or do you look with realistic eyes at the person you are, the great as well as the not so great. Do you see what you could be, the good you could achieve. Do you look at yourself with the same loving attitude as you look at others; with the same compassion. Buy your beauty products and clothes that you like, but because they make you feel better about yourself, not to be someone else or because you feel pressured to be and look a certain way. Our mirrors show reality, even for those filtered and photo shopped models we see on social media.

My husband says I am the perfect wife, not because I am amazing, but because I am visually impaired so do not really see imperfections in people faces. To me everyone looks great. Maybe its time that we looked at each other with imperfect eyes and see the perfection in others. See beyond the face and body, see beyond the projected image to the amazing person underneath. Maybe its about time that we looked at ourselves with those same imperfect eyes to see the beauty that is on the outside and the inside of us. You are who you are for a reason, for a purpose. We all have beauty, we are all unique and I say that surely is what we should all see in the mirror.

Grief is a thief

When you truly grieve for someone or something your mind is no longer your own. You are not the same person and no matter how much you or others try to get the old you back, that person died on the same day.

So what do you do?

Life is about choices. I have learnt that there are many things I could not or cannot control, thats just the way it is, but I have also learnt that there will always be choices in the things I can control. How we deal with things, deal with others, deal with the rubbish this life throws at us is our choice.

When we lost our boy we were lost too, striped to the bone. Just

functioning on any level was the greatest achievement of the day and some days it still is. We had a choice to make, to completely give up, fade away, disappear forever in our grief and pain, to live a living death, which believe me when I say that I could see how that could defiantly happen, and would blame no one for it. In some ways that would have been a lot easier, but we had others to think about, it wasn’t just about my grief or my husbands grief. We could not allow our other children to loss their parents as well as their big brother, so we made a choice.

So why is grief a thief?

Grief robs you of the future you thought you had, of the certainty that once existed in mind, of what you were sure off. Grief foresees you where you don’t want to go and takes everything from you for a time. Your life and soul are ransacked as you desperately search for things to hold onto, for memories and snippets of your former life. Grief takes so much, but it does not take everything, it can never rob you of your love for what you have lost or of the choices you have to make.

Change will come, it has too. We had change thrust on us without mercy, but now the changes that are coming will be our choice. Grief robbed me of so much, but it can never rob me of my ability and write, to express myself. I write because I must, I need to. Now I see the world as it really is, more so now than ever before. Grief will make you furious at the world, but cannot take your compassion for it. Grief will take whatever it can but it cannot take your love, your faith or your soul.

Time is a healer they say, nonsense, time just helps you get used to grief, to find ways of managing it, some things cannot be healed. The future is uncertain, as yet unknown and unwritten, but it is on its way whether I like it or not, but what we do with it is our decision to make.

Going with the flow, a yoga expedition.

I had done some yoga before. I went to a yoga class years ago and was one of many women who were all desperately trying to look graceful in a large sports hall, all praying for the words “now its time for the relaxation”. I had found it quite an impersonal experience, so like many others who try something for the first time, I soon faded away from yoga.

So there I was many years later, having walked along side my mum and been with her through her two year battle with illness until she passed away. I needed something for me, but what? I wanted it to be mental as well as physical, something to ease my mind as well as help my body, something that might help me be able to avoid the same illness that had so cruelly robbed me of my mum.

One day a leaflet came through my door detailing all the events that were happening at my local community centre and there it was, a new yoga class around the corner from me, like a little divine nudge to get myself going, and so I signed up and went to the first class that was being run by a brand new yoga teacher.

Three years on I am no expert, but like anything new that you learn, you have to persevere and give it time. I am not naturally flexible, my balance is pretty awful and I have had many ups and downs on my yoga journey, but it has definitely become easier and my flexibility has certainly improved. Am I great at all the poses? Absolutely not. Do I find some poses easier than others? Yes, but I have been blessed to find a wonderful teacher who helps us to accept the way we are, work with our own body and have fun along the way.

Being in Sabina’s class from the beginning has given me a fantastic grounding in my yoga and I cannot impress enough on you how important it is to find a wonderful class and teacher that will keep you enthusiastic even when the going gets tough.

Doing exercise is not just great for your body, studies have found that mental health is also positively affected by doing some form of exercise too.

Yoga has so many health benefits, these include:

Improving your posture and flexibility – the postures encourage you to stand and move in certain way making you aware of how you stand and helping you to hold poses for longer which increases your flexibility.

Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol – yoga can help reduce your stress levels, it can also lead to a slight weight loss which can help lower your chest oral and blood sugars.

Helps with weight loss in conjunction with a healthy diet – like all exercise yoga has to be done regularly and in tandem with a healthy diet to help with weight loss.

Improves your breathing – the breathing exercises in yoga help you to control your breathing and to use more of your lung capacity,

Improves your circulation – the poses in yoga, especially the inverted poses where your head is below your heart can help to improve your circulation.

Increases your energy – at the end of a yoga session, rather than feel tired, many feel energised. I love to do yoga in the morning to get me ready for the day.

Helps with mental sharpness and increases your sense of well being – yoga is amazing for your well being. Whether it is just the fact that you have exercised or that you have made an effort to do something for yourself, yoga can calm your mind and help you switch off from the world for just a little while.

There is no denying that all exercise is great for you but ultimately I took up yoga not just for the health benefits but for something more, for something that was just for me, a chance to be still, to put the stresses and strain to the side for just a few moments. To learn how to breath, to be still, to move with purpose and then to relax. Now when I hear the words “its time for the deep relaxation” my thoughts are not gratitude that its over, but wonder at how quick it has gone.

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I see you

I see you,

I see the scars that life inflicts,

I see beneath the “I’m fine”,

I see the thick layers underneath,

That hold the wounds of life,

The war weary,

The battle hardened,

I see where you have been beaten and battered,

The lines that show your grief and loss,

The longing for those passed,

Places never seen,

Voices no longer heard,

I see the dreams that languish unfulfilled,

I see where you wish your feet had trod,

Hands never held,

Lips never kissed,

I see you,

I see that you are more than you,

More than that revealed to the passer by,

More than you skin and bone,

More than your body and brain,

The parts of you hidden in the darkness place,

The bits that have been kicked and punched to the ground by living, by life,

I see below the shell,

To a soul that sings and cries,

Shouts for joy and screams in despair,

Under the tormented waves to the still below,

To a swimming ambition, a drowning intention.

I see you,

You walk,

Your head held high whilst your spirit droops and stoops like an old mans frame,

You muster strength to bolster your fortress,

Prepare yourself to stand strong again,

As life swipes at your knees to bring you low,

But, I See You.