News

I haven’t paid much attention to the news lately. When I do, I see so much pain, so much sadness. And, I suppose it has always been there, it will always be there, but right now it seems magnified. I try to pay attention only to the positive stories, the little glimmers of hope, of love…

Maybe I am the ostrich, with my head buried deep in the sand, wanting not to see the world in it’s grey and tarnished state. I want to see the world perhaps, through rose tinted glasses, as a child sees it.

I know Calvin and Mia only see love around them. I know that they have no concept of the hate of other human beings, or the atrocities committed in the names of so many. But I also know that a four year old understands strong dislike, they understand the idea that someone can be a bully, that bad behavior can hurt more than just someones heart. Isn’t that just a little bit terrifying?

I want to shelter them from the news, from hearing about the pain of the world and the people in it. I want to shelter my own heart and mind, pouring all of my love, all of my positivity into my family. So whilst the negative sometimes slips through the cracks, and I choose to read the occasional news story, to keep current, to know what it out there, I will continue to seek the positive. I will seek the love and the light.

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Happiness and Tears

I feel like growing up, for me, moments when I saw my parents cry were few and far between. I remember seeing my mom cry a few times after an argument (she’s an angry crier, as am I). She cried when Princess Diana died, and when my brother joined the Army. And in my adult life, she cried when my grandfather died and when my father died. I’m sure she has cried many times that I haven’t seen, but those are the moments I have witnessed, and the times my father cried openly, were as few. But consistently, saying goodbye at the airport has been moments of shared tears between us.

I don’t want to dwell on the tears we shared today in the airport, or the tears I shed as I drove home and the tears I will inevitably cry when the kids go to bed tonight. She stayed with us a month this visit, and I want to focus on the happiness that I have felt, the experiences we shared as a family. So tonight, I will flick through the photos we took, I will look at my kids smiling faces, and I will focus on the joy.

I hope you can find the happiness beneath the tears, as they can often be the most therapeutic and cathartic.

 

Lines, Dots and The Squiggles In-between

Parenting is definitely a learning curve, that looks something like a crayon squiggle across a brightly colored wall. So maybe it’s not a curve, but it sure has its ups and downs.

I’m learning a lot about myself in the process of raising these two tiny human beings. I’m realizing things about my personality, my approach to life and really feeling more connected to my emotions in the process. And trust me, for a British person to be sharing as much as I have about my feelings, is a big bloody deal!

Calvin is teaching me every day. He’s made me more patient, more understanding and shifted my perspective on what parenting would be like. We are taking this journey together. For example, today he went running off across the field at the park. Usually he doesn’t go far and knows that he needs to stay where I can see him. But in an effort to keep up with some squirrels, my calls to him to turn his little butt back around, fell on deaf ears. I chased after him. My immediate response was that I should be angry and tell him off. Then he opened his mouth and the excitement as he told me why he had run away made me put the breaks on. I listened. And although I still told him off for running and not listening when I called, we also discussed his interest in the squirrels and also the dangers of him being out of my sight. I could have blown up, him not listening really pushes my buttons. But I’m learning.

Mia although she can’t speak, is teaching me the power of communicating in different ways. She is the most communicative child I have met without having to say a single word. The looks on her face, her bodily response, speak volumes. It’s making me more aware of my own body language and behaviors. When I approach the kids with love, I want it to really show, and when I approach them with discipline, I want my expression to read as stern and not frightening as I fear it does right now.

One Year

I’m going to try my best not to cry today. My stomach is in knots though and I want to vomit. It’s been a year since he passed away. A year since my family and I surrounded my dad in that dreary NHS hospital room and filled it with as much love as we possibly could as we said goodbye. 

I wouldn’t say I have a photographic memory, but I can recall every detail of that room, every minute that ticked by and most importantly, every millimeter of his face. I can feel his skin on my fingertips still. I can hear every sound that echoed through that tiny room, including the sounds of crying and near silent prayers passing each persons lips, begging for the situation to do a 180, for reality to shift a different direction.

I will try not to cry today. I will try to laugh with the kids, to hold them tighter, to hold Curtis tighter and remind them all for the millionth time that I love them. I will send my love the best I can across the many miles to my family. It won’t stop their tears from falling, but it may just stop mine.

  

The Stigma of Grief

I hope my mom doesn’t mind me using her as an example as I write this, but talking to her and reading the words she has expressed to me recently, has me thinking about the stigma of grief. Time.

I call time a stigma of grief, because there seems to be an unspoken timeline that people expect you to “get over” the grief you feel after loss. Most people are aware of the idea that there are five understood stages:

  1. Denial and Isolation – Denying the reality of the situation and rationalizing the emotions and pain.
  2. Anger – The pain surfacing after denial and dealing with it by projecting anger towards people/places/things as a coping mechanism and often in a search for answers.
  3. Bargaining – Trying to regain control by using “If only…” to come to terms with the situation.
  4. Depression – Sadness, regret, sometimes verbalized, sometimes dealt with quietly and often helped by understanding and support both verbal and physical.
  5. Acceptance – A stage some never reach.

The last stage, Acceptance, is one that that sticks out to me most significantly. It is the stage that not everyone will reach and it isn’t a stage that means you are happy with the situation that has unfolded, but rather you have reached a point in your mourning that you are able to move forward with coping mechanisms. The waves of grief still come, but you may not be searching for answers still, you may have let go of the anger you had felt.

So with understanding that there is somewhat of an order, then surely there is no real timeline to how long you mourn. Yet, I often see people using terms like “Aren’t you over that yet?/Can’t you just let it go and move on?” to people who are in the thick of this emotional storm. Would you ask a person who has been given a bed of nails, whether they slept well? What answer would you expect?

I’m not writing this to put anyone down for feeling this way. Some people haven’t dealt with great losses in their lives, and thus, don’t have first hand experience of grief. I certainly didn’t have a significant connection to grief other than looking from the outside in, until my father died.

I hope that when faced with other peoples grief I can offer some sort of comfort or support, even if it’s just being there to listen when they are really in the rough of it. I don’t want to hear only about the good days because you may be afraid of sharing the negative feelings with others. I want to be there for you and love all facets of you, whether they are joyful memories, or sorrowful cries.

 

Passion

I’m a passionate person. I admit that. I love deeply and I anger easily. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It has gotten me in trouble at times in my life, yes, but for the most part it is what has driven me to take care of myself and those around me. The passion I feel has caused me heartache, it has caused me anger, but more importantly, it has made me love more, it has made me care more and it has made me strive to be a better person and to support and fight for the rights of others.

I’m not an activist, I’m not even overly vocal about my political, religious and social views, but when I see someone being bullied, someone being mistreated, you can bet your ass that I will have something to say about it.

Maybe that makes me a busy body. Maybe I should look the other way, and let everyone deal with whatever issues they may be having. But I don’t feel that everyone has the voice inside of them to stand up for whats right, even if they can hear it, they don’t vocalize it. I won’t stand idly and watch someone inflict hurt onto someone else.

At this point you might think, well, adults can take care of themselves, if they needed or wanted to stand up for themselves and their rights, they’d do it. But have you ever been in a situation where you felt overwhelmed by the other person, or overwhelmed by the situation itself? I have. And in those moments I have wished for someone to back me up, to agree with my side.

So when I feel strongly about an issue, I may be vocal about it. When I see someone being mistreated, I may step in and have something to say, or I will be there to support the person I feel is in need. I’m passionate, and I’m not sorry.

I will be the person to build someone up, not to tear them down!

Change 

There are dishes in the sink, plates on the table and laundry to be done. But they can all wait. For the first time in a while, today I felt like I was just relaxing with the kids. We visited the zoo together, something we haven’t done very much in the past, but with new memberships, I hope we can do more of in the future. We set out bright and early and enjoyed the warmth of the first signs of spring as we toured the new African Adventure exhibit at Fresno Chaffee Zoo. I pulled the kids in the wagon whilst they looked at the animals, snacked and enjoyed the ride. 

  We got up close with some cheetahs which I think was a highlight for myself and the kids.

Calvin and Mia both fed the giraffes and giggled their heads off when the long tongues grabbed the lettuce leaves.
 Mia was mesmerized by the sea lions and Calvin loved feeling the sting rays drift past his fingertips at Stingray Bay. 

 

Today’s outing was a welcome break! We moved out of our house last week and into our little apartment that we will reside in until the limbo of having a new house to move into is over. It’s been a whirlwind of moving everything into our temporary home and into storage whilst Curtis has juggled work and I’ve juggled the kids. Luckily we have had some amazing friends and family to help.

I needed today. The kids needed today. Everything else can wait. We are busy making memories! 

 

On this day

On this day last year, my sister, her boyfriend, my mom and my dad, came to visit us for three weeks. At the time we didn’t know just how sick my dad was. We thought the sickness he was experiencing was a reoccurring chest infection that the doctors had been telling him he had for over a year, treating it with antibiotics and a nebulizer. They almost didn’t make the trip at this time, they were going to come in March… But that would have been too late.

They spent three weeks with us, we did a lot of mundane things, we hung around the house, but we also did some exploring, seeing Yosemite, Old Town Clovis and Sac, Avila Beach and San Francisco before they went home. 

I’m so grateful that they made the trip, that dad had the opportunity to see the kids and that we had time together as a family before everything shattered just 18 days after his diagnosis. I try so hard not to go to that dark place when I think of him. I try not to dwell on those last days, but to savor the laughs, the joy and the sweetest memories.

I’m glad that Calvin remembers him, that he says often that he misses his papa, and shows Mia photos of him. He’s three and death is a big concept for such a little person. 

Family is the most important thing to me. My little unit of four, my parents, my siblings… These are the people who make me, me.