Another week has gone by since I last wrote. It has been a mixed week. I've stuck to my plan and have been out on my bike. I definitely could have done with stabilizers on the first day as I wobbled like Bambi on ice. The second outing I was a little more confident and actually enjoyed it. Unfortunately the gears would not move from the hardest one and my thighs felt like I'd gone for a sixty-mile ride not the very slow six I actually did. I have since managed to rectify that and the third outing was far more comfortable.
I've been writing two positive things from each day. Saturday I actually had several positives and had my best day in a long time. I went to Holly Hill Woodland Park. It's a historic parkland and stretches from Sarisbury Green to the River Hamble. There are lakes with islands and waterfalls and dams. We walked around for several hours chatting, laughing and really enjoying being out. I felt relaxed and calmed by my surroundings. The colours, the smell, the sound of the water, the birds. I need to appreciate more the beautiful places' nature gives us so close to home.
There are a couple of wood carvings that you can see in the pictures. (I'm no David Bailey and my pictures do not do them justice). The carvings have been done by a guy called Paul Sivell. He takes dead or condemned trees and creates these sculptures. There is something quite beautiful about it. Something that is no longer viable, dead, decaying, and he transforms them into pieces of art that can be appreciated for many years to come. I found it strangely comforting that a new life/purpose could be given to something that would otherwise rot away.
One thing I noticed about the faces on the carvings, they were all smiling. I spent quite a bit of time Sunday thinking about this. About what a smile can do and how it can make you feel. I've missed smiling and I've missed seeing smiley happy faces.
I know that for most of us there hasn't been a lot to smile about this year. Since the wearing of masks we can't see if people are smiling at us, we can no longer see if the person in the shop smiles when they give you your change or if the stranger you've held a door for smiles as they pass through. I have found that quite sad.
It's very difficult to ignore a smile. If someone smiles at you, our automatic response is to do the same. Smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers and Serotonin. These natural chemicals reduce physical pain, relax your body and elevate your mood. Smiling is a natural drug. Smiling is good for us! 😁
I have been told by several people that what they loved about me was that I was always smiling. It's really not a difficult thing to do and even when I'm feeling down, not having a great day, seeing someone smile can make me feel better. I am making a conscious effort to smile more. Even wearing a mask, a smile reaches your eyes, it changes your voice (you can always tell if someone is smiling when you talk on the phone). If a smile can make me feel better I hope it could do the same for somebody else.
For a few days after my trip to Holly Hill I was definitely beginning to feel much better. I was sleeping and eating well. I had certainly smiled more. Monday a friend came to stay (we are in each other's support bubble so lockdown rules were followed 😁). We chatted for ages, and he did manage to get me laughing. He also gave me something I haven't had in a while. A hug. I hadn't realised until that moment how much I needed that simple human contact.
Tuesday I struggled. I tried really hard to keep busy. Work was really productive but I found myself very distracted. Tuesday evening dragged I couldn't concentrate on tv or reading and listening to music just made me worse. I love music, I love to sing (badly), I usually love how music can make me feel, remind me of places, people and things that have happened in my life. Music can take me back to that moment. Lyrics can hold so much meaning. They can inspire me. But not Tuesday!
I often think my playlist knows what day it is, taunting me, a bad joke. If there is an anniversary or something happening in my life it seems to deliberately play songs that evoke memories or seem to be related to what I'm going through, like a soundtrack to my life. And that's exactly what it did that night. I had it on shuffle and the first three songs that played transported me. It took me back to happier times, when I was excited about the future and that left me feeling incredibly sad. I didn't sleep well that night so yesterday started off rather miserably. I managed to focus on what I needed to do throughout the day but retreated to my bed when I got home, to hide away from the world.
Today is my birthday! It started out really badly as I found out my mother-in-law has breast cancer. She has known since September, had surgery last month but decided to tell me in my birthday card. This really hurt. I am of course incredibly worried about her but left feeling even more cut out of my late husband's family. I was feeling very emotional and was contemplating going back to bed, but then something happened that left me speechless, which is usually quite difficult.
I was completely and utterly bowled over by human kindness. I had set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook for The Rowans Hospice. I hoped that I may raise a little to help them as I know charities are finding it particularly difficult this year to fundraise as normal. The Rowans Hospice is very special to me, I can never repay the debt of gratitude I have for them. I know a lot of people this year are finding it particularly tough financially and I really didn't expect to raise much. I was literally lost for words when I checked my page to see the donations. I had friends donate that I haven't seen in 30 years. Other friends had shared my page and complete strangers had donated. A school friend who has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer donated and shared my page. His comment was extremely humorous although a little warped (I do appreciate warped humour).
I stared at the page and cried. I was so moved by people's generosity and my friend's sense of humour during a horrific time in his life, that I sat and took stock. I felt incredibly humble. I thought about what I have in my life.
I have two amazing children who continuously make me proud and who make my heart swell with love for them. I have a good job that even though I have only been there a short time is providing me with challenges that I thrive on. I have my own home. I have some amazing family and friends that love and care for me. I really am very fortunate. This has inspired and motivated me to get back to being me. This has helped me turn a corner. With all the misery and sadness in the world there is still so much to be grateful for.
Tonight for my lockdown birthday I am being taken out for a drive and treated to fish and chips at the beach. Thank goodness for heating in a car! Something very simple and inexpensive but much needed.
So I find it quite ironic that on my birthday, 46 years from the day I was born, I feel like I'm waking up for the first time in a long while. It's really corny but I feel like I've been in a cocoon and finally the cocoon is opening. I've been in a mire of self-pity and sadness. On a rollercoaster of emotions for several months. Concentrating too much on what I've lost and what I don't have. Those acts of human kindness and generosity. The human touch. Appreciating what nature has to offer and the realisation I have a lot to be grateful for has shown me that I do have a life ahead of me that I want to live. It's not mapped out, there is no grand plan, but it starts today!
I'm already making plans for the days and weeks ahead. Things to look forward to. When I started writing this blog I just wanted to get through the day, then the next couple of weeks. Now I'm embracing what I have and starting again to work towards what I want. I believe in fate, that everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff.
I'm continuing with the bike and writing the positives from my day. I can feel a little spark inside of me. It's not yet a flame but it's the start. I know it will take time for me to be back to my happy self but I'm finally on the right track. Who knows what is ahead? I certainly don't but it's kind of exciting.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this. Keep well, safe and keep smiling 😁