Tag Archives: living

Remembering

 

”When one person is missing
the whole world seems empty.”
Pat Schweibert, American Author

Twenty-one years ago today, the light went out of my world. My DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) had died. There are no words to tell how I felt for the next few months. Nothing and nobody could fill the void.

I was lucky that there were three young grandsons around to cheer me up. The eldest, three-year-old James, said “Granma, when it stops raining, will you stop crying?’ and ‘Look Granma, the sky is crying because Grampa is dead”.

Of course, he was far too young, as were the others, to understand the devastation that had crept /crashed into my life.

At that time I didn’t know how I was going to go on with the rest of my life;  but it doesn’t come with a choice. One just has to go on living.

I had no friends or family who had suffered such a loss, and while they were all very supportive, I really was on my own on this journey.

But through this, I found a reason for being. I became a Life Coach and directed my energy towards others who were grieving and attempting to survive. My volunteering was (and still is) in a hospice where people were struggling with their loved ones imminent end of life. How quickly I realised I wasn’t the only one on this survival journey.

I wrote a small book Suddenly Single and gave it to my clients and then friends who found themselves in this situation.

And I found I could go on with my life. Even without the person with whom I had grown up, and who was most supportive of everything I did, and eventually, I realised that life could be good again.

Later, I started blogging and through this medium, I met others who had survived and who became friends.

And now, twenty-one years on, I have made a happy life for myself. There were a couple of major hiccups along the way – the death of the Architect in 2015 followed by my disastrous misadventure in 2016 – but in all life has been good to me.

I know that some of you are just starting on this journey, or are new to it. Please believe me when I say there is a way out of this storm of grief and everybody’s journey is different. If you are suffering, please contact me. I should like to send you a copy of the newest version of my book. This edition is called Stepping Stones.

 

 

I propose to publish it and put it on Amazon but until then, I’m happy to give you a copy.

End of misery post. Tomorrow I shall be back to normal. As my children always say – Pollyanna is alive and well and living in Wellington, New Zealand.

And for now, as Shirley MacLaine says:

“I think of life itself now as a wonderful play
that I’ve written for myself and so my purpose is

to have the utmost fun playing my part.”

 

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Another Year Begins

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel,
stride down there and light the
bloody thing yourself.”
Sara Henderson – From Strength to Strength

Did you make resolutions on January 1?  I didn’t because I know that they won’t last even until the end of January. But I do like these resolutions from Bridget Jones Dairy.

“Resolution number one: Obviously will lose twenty pounds.
Number two:  Always put last night’s panties in the laundry basket.
Equally important will find a sensible boyfriend to go out with and not continue to form romantic attachments to any of the following:
alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobic’s, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits or perverts. And especially will not fantasise about a particular person who embodies all these things”

I began to look back at the posts from January in past years. I started blogging in March 2011, so the first January was in 2012.  During that month I posted about reaching my first milestone of 100 followers. How excited I was on that day. I wrote about crop circles, Friday the thirteenth, the Madman who was actively engaged in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary. At that time I was posting a blog a day and so there are 31 posts in that January. All I need to know is probably my favourite post of that January.

By January 2013 I was no longer posting every day and so there are far fewer to choose from. In a meandering post, I took a trip down memory lane and wrote about growing up in the East End of London (again). And in that month I posed the question what would you do If Today Were Your Last?

January 2014 and I had just returned from my sojourn/adventure in Florence. That month saw only one post – The Kiwi Bach

January 2015  and I was enjoying life with my Late Love, The Architect and wrote about our peaceful corner of the world comparing it to the mayhem and confusion caused by terrorists in other parts of the world.

By January 2016, my life had changed again. Now The Architect was no longer alive and I was moving on alone. I like to think I was going from strength to strength following the path trod by Sara Henderson. Most of the month was taken up with my story about Sandy and the woman who claimed to be her daughter. Those posts were fun to write. Maybe, someday I’ll go back to them.

So to January 2017. By now I was used to living alone again and had completely recovered from my misadventure of the year before. How very glad I was to leave 2016 behind. I wrote about friendship and how much easier it is now to keep in touch through Skype, email and of course the blogosphere. And I compared myself to a vintage car. I too have to be maintained. I’m cleaned, polished and primped.  I have regular services from hairdressers, manicurists, dentists etc, So at my vast age I know I am vintage.

January 2018 found this aged mind taking off in a variety of directions. On the first, I looked back on the year that had just gone and looked ahead to the year about to start. I wrote about Talking into the Future with my friends Chris in Ontario and Joss in Cuenca and we marvelled at how lucky we are.

And that brings us to January 2019. Years have passed since I started this blogging journey/adventure. New friends have been made, some friends have died or moved on, Unfortunately, my Late Love was among those that died.  But what a great time I have had over these years. I have visited new places, have proved that you are never too old to dream another dream or set another goal and so I move into 2019 with a joyful, grateful heart. Best wishes to you all and thanks for being my friends.

Waterfall

“And as the water continues in its downhill rush over rocks
and the thoughts continue to tumble around in my brain
with no defined pattern or path,
they eventually find and settle into a safe place
and the void is suddenly filled
and my mind is active once again.”
Judith Baxter, survivor, blogger and friend

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Into 2018

“Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.”
Mary Oliver

About this time of the year, I look back on what has gone before and set some goals for the next 12 months.   Not Resolutions as I know that for me they don’t last through the first two months and are usually dead before the end of January.

I use as my guide what I learned from the story of Noah and the Ark.  I first wrote about this in January 2012 and then used it again in December 2014.  The following year, 2015 was not great, my Late Love the Architect died and 2016 was hardly any better.  I had my misadventure in April and then my contretemps with a chair and a rug in December, so I was glad to see the back of that year.

And now it’s 2018 and I am looking back on 2017.  So what dd I learn?

  • I did listen to the voice within when deciding to remain in my little apartment in my daughter’s house.
  • I followed my intuition that I would be safe here
  • I hadn’t made my preparations in advance as originally, this was to be a  stop gap while I found somewhere else to live.
  • My life was built on strong foundations and those foundations are my two very supportive children and daughter-in-law, and the four large grandsons who are growing into fine young men.
  • My possessions were brought from storage and some fitted well into my new little abode.  The rest found new homes via the Salvation Army.  A win-win situation.
  • Once again, I chose my companions well and cut the few toxic people out of my life
  • I still love my companions and fellow travellers.
  • And some of these travellers aka my children I set free once again to return as and when they wish or if they are needed.
  • Yes, I did listen to other people’s opinions but always made my own decisions.
  • I learned that living in a house with two teenage Grandsons is never boring.
  • I make time for quiet meditation which nurtures my soul.
  • I embraced many new experiences since writing the original posts.
  • I was brought up in England and have always loved the feel of the gentle rain on my face.
  • And I also love the sunshine and notice how differently people behave when the sun is shining.
  • I volunteered at another Hospice; the one where my Late Love died and continue to believe I got more from the experience than anyone at the Hospice does.
  • I have learned to accept the assistance offered by others – I hope this acceptance has been gracious.
  • I know that there will be hard times interspersed with the sunshine and light.
  • I have known for a long time that we share this planet with a myriad of other creatures both large and small, and we don’t must share the bounties with them
  • I continue to nurture an attitude of gratitude.  I am very aware of how very lucky I have been all my life.
  • I know that one woman with a strong belief in herself can overcome just about anything life can throw at her.

So with a cheerful heart and a desire to see what this New Year will bring this aged adventurer, I am ready for 2018.

“I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself,
and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.” 

― Shirley Maclaine

 

 

You Can Survive

On re-reading some of the articles I had published on Ezine Articles I came across this one from December 2010.  During that time I was wearing my life coach hat and most of my clients were grieving as was I.   I thought it worth reposting 7 years later just as it appeared.

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When we lose someone we think that we will never get over the loss. We are in the depths of despair and can see no way out of it. We might fall into depression, caring little about what we eat or how we look. In some cases, if this goes on for a long time professional help will be needed.

But for most of us, with the help of family and friends and somebody who has been where you are now, we can survive. We can come through these days of despair and learn to live again albeit in a different world.

When I was first alone after 41 years of being married, I didn’t know how I would go on. I had grown up with my soul mate and was absolutely bereft at his passing.

For several weeks I wallowed in my misery but then I realised that he would not wish that for me. We had talked in a general manner of what to do if one or other of us died. But obviously, these talks were very general and didn’t touch on the actual day-to-day living alone.

I went through all the stages of grief. Resentment, anger and frustration that this should have happened to me (note the me inserted there when in fact it had happened to him); I then became immobilized and couldn’t think, I was fearful and wanted to hide. My family and friends were great support to me through these trying times. How lucky I was to have them.

Then I went through the blocking mechanisms stage. Some people employ alcohol, drugs, sex, excessive spending for me I turned to work. I worked all hours so as not to have time to think of what had happened. I fell into bed every night absolutely exhausted. Of course, much of this was nervous exhaustion.

After a length of time and with the help of friends and family again, finally I could recognise how lucky I was to have had the years with my love, to acknowledge and accept that this awful thing had happened and that I was strong enough to move on with my life.

There is no defined time for ‘a length of time’. It may be weeks, months or in some cases, years after the actual loss. And accepting in no way minimises your feelings of grief and loss. You can go on grieving (as I did) long after you accept the fact that this has happened and now you have to live the rest of your life without that special someone.

If you are suffering through loss and grief I empathise with you. I have been there. When I was first alone I was fortunate in having close friends and supportive family to help me acknowledge and cope with my devastating loss.

Now there is a program to help you do just that.Brittany Watkins has been where you are and will guide you step by step through the healing process.

This amazing program is called Move from Grief to Joy [http://www.griefandlosssupport.com]. It is full of ways to help you move through the stages of grief and live a normal, interactive life again. With this program [http://www.griefandlosssupport.com] grief becomes manageable and you can survive.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Judith_Baxter/221670

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5595313

Voices

“and there was a new voice which you slowly
recognized as your own, that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do —
determined to save the only life you could save.”

 

Today I read this post “I Have aVoice “from Joss at Depth of a Woman.  I immediately responded in the comments section – Another good post and as Mary Oliver says in The Journey “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice “

The quote above is also part of the same poem by Mary Oliver.  As Joss says, we are all held up at some time in our life by these voices, whether from friends, acquaintances or others, or even that voice in our own subconscious.  These voices choose to manipulate us and it’s only once we recognise that, that we are able to move forward.

So today I urge you to ignore those voices and take the first or the next, step on your journey.  Only you can determine where you are going.

OK Life Coach hat off for the day!

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And today the sun is shining here so no excuses for not getting out and walking or maybe even doing some work in the garden.  Since last year’s adventure, I have had a team of people who come in every 4 weeks to weed, mow the lawn, clip hedges etc.  They also plant for me.  But though I am in no way a gardener, I miss doing some of these things.  So today I am going to pot the plants I bought yesterday (in the pouring rain) and then after a visit to the audiologists (one result from the adventure) I shall return to sit in the garden with my book and a cup of tea.  How’s that for a good plan for the day.

 

It’s a Small World Indeed.

I have written before about my friendship with blogging friends around the world and in particular, Chris at Bridges Burning with whom I have a Skype visit each Friday.  We talk about anything and everything and yesterday we talked about her latest post.  If you read it you will see that while doing her research into Orphan Annie, she mentioned that this ancestor had been born in Hackney in the East End of London.  Well, this is where I was born and brought up.  She knew the address of the children’s home into which Annie had been placed and I offered the help of my sister who lives in the UK and who visits Hackney regularly to meet her family members who still live there.

Marianne, my sister was happy to help and photos and messages were exchanged so another friendship was formed.

Yesterday, when talking about serendipity, as surely this was such a case, we talked about other such happenings.  I told her about a woman I met recently who had arrived from Montreal and had lived in the same suburb as we had many years earlier.  I told about the woman I spoke to on a bus going to Oxford some years ago.  She had a brother living in New Zealand.  Did I know Wellington?  Well, yes I live there.  Did I know Scots College? Well, yes my son and grandsons went there.  Her brother was the Headmaster of Scots.  And there have been many more such experiences.

But the strangest of all was some 30 years ago.  I had a friend with whom I worked.  One day she said she had a school friend, now living in Majorca, coming to visit.  Her friend was Scottish and Jean, my friend, thought we should meet.  On the day, with husband out at sport, the two women duly arrived for afternoon tea.  During the course of conversation, I was asked by Jean’s  friend where my husband came from in Scotland.  I replied Dunoon to which her reply was she had lived in a small village beside Dunoon.  “Well, I said, it was really Kirn but it was such a small place that I never expect anyone to know of it”  Her response was that in fact, she came from Kirn.  Imagine my surprise then when I found out she was the daughter of the local dentist whose house my Father-in-Law had purchased when he remarried.

So imagine.  Two young girls meet at school in Colchester, England.  Then each goes their own way while keeping in touch.  One went to Majorca with her husband, the other to Wellington New Zealand with hers,  Some 30 years later, two other women meet in Wellington and become friends.  The second woman is married to a Scotsman who comes from a small village on Scotland’s West Coast.  Years later the three women meet and surprise, surprise the woman from Majorca was born and bred in the same small village as the Scotsman and what’s more, lived in the house now being lived in by the Scotsman’s father.  Small world indeed.

“Friendship … is born at the moment when
one man says to another
“What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 

 

Who Shot Kukki Gallman?

I dreamed of africa

I have just finished re-reading (for probably the 6th or 7th time) one of my all-time favourite books, “I Dreamed of Africa” by Kukki Gallman and posted a review on my other site Books and More Books.

Having finished the review and posted it, I decided to see what the world was saying about Kukki Gallman now.  And horrors – I read in the Guardian UK, that she was shot on a Sunday morning in April,

We are told that on that Sunday morning, April 23,  she was keen to inspect the ruins of Mukutan Retreat, her luxury tourist lodge, which had been set ablaze the day before. She drove there, accompanied by armed Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers and one of her scouts, to find total devastation. As she said, “Ash hung in the air like snowflakes.”

Many years of living with the threat of encroachment, poachers and occasional violence had taught her caution, so the visit was brief and, as she always did, Gallmann left by a different dirt track to the one she had driven in on.

Reaching the higher plains she found a felled tree blocking the route. The Rangers had finished moving the trunk when her scout called out to her, telling her there were three people approaching, but before she could turn to look the shooting started and she was hit in the lower abdomen as she sat in her Land Cruiser. She was hit again and three more shots hit the car before the Rangers chased away the ambushers.

Following the shooting, she spent a fortnight in hospital before being discharged to convalesce in her house in Nairobi. But she says she is not yet truly home.

She longs for Ol Ari Nyiro, “The Place of Dark Springs”, an 88,000-acre nature reserve in Kenya’s central highlands overlooking the Great Rift Valley, where her husband and son are buried.  In recent months this quiet, peaceful reserve has become embroiled in a violent struggle between the private landowners and the semi-nomadic herders. But though her wounds from the shooting are grievous she is determined to go back and fight.

“As soon as I’m allowed I will go back,” she says. Her doctors tell her that she is not yet strong enough and security officers advise her it is not yet safe, but “in my heart, I’m there,” she says.”

This is a different photo.
Not one of a trophy hunter having killed a defenceless animal but
one of a distraught Kukki with a killed elephant.

Kukki

Sad story: Gallmann with an elephant killed by poachers on her land. Photograph: AFP

In earlier times, I followed Kukki and her daughter in their conservation quest and now feel sorrow for this woman who has faced sorrow in the loss of her husband and son and now could lose her beloved home or even her life.

Get well soon Kukki and go back to your home in the hopes that peace will return once again.

And always, Zig has a quote –

“It’s not how far you fall,
but how high you bounce that counts.”
― Zig Ziglar Author, salesman and
Motivational speaker 1926-2012

 

 

Grief Revisited

Like a thief in the night
Grief slinks silently back into my life
Disturbing the peace I have fought so hard for
It is like a fractious child demanding attention
And as the mother with her child, I give in
And am taken back to the beginning
When days were so long and nights even longer.
When I thought there was no way out of this slough of despair
And I am once again immobilised by it.
But I have been here before
Many times since that April night
And I know I can climb out
And once again put grief back where it belongs
Until the next time.
Judith Baxter, Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Blogger and Friend

Yesterday I had a long talk with a neighbour,  His partner of 15 years literally dropped dead in a restaurant a couple of weeks ago.  He had suffered from heart problems since an early age and apparently had an enlarged heart.  The death was quick and painless for which my neighbour was very thankful.

Tekapo

Lake Tekapo where Natu died

Drew, the neighbour, put the link to the video of the funeral on my laptop and I heard him singing. Drew is an Opera singer and to hear him sing If You Go Away to the love of his life brought tears to my eyes.  I have heard many singers sing this song, but none with the feeling of Drew.

And then I went off to the Hospice for a few hours.  Here again, I was faced with death, but they were all expected deaths, none so sudden as Natu’s.

So of course, all this and particularly the Hospice brought back that day in 2015 when my Late Love, The Architect, died.

But today is another day.  Nothing changes; the grief for both of my loves lies just below the surface, ready to spring to life at any time.  But I am stronger than I was and can face the days without either of my loves.

“Where you used to be there, is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime
and falling into at night.
I miss you like hell.”
Edna StVincent Millay.

Thanks for reading.  Today I am back to being my usual cheerful self.  As we say “PollyAnna is alive and well and living in Wellington, New Zealand.”

 

One Day

This is where it all begins.
Everything starts here, today.”

David Nicholls, One Day 

Have you said to yourself One Day I shall

  • Start to exercise and lose this excess weight
  • Read a book of fiction rather than for a reason – self-help, weight loss or whatever
  • Reconnect with that friend to whom I haven’t spoken since we had that disagreement
  • Go to the sea
  • Take a trip
  • Talk to my neighbour
  • Begin my walks
  • Finish my …..?

Well, today is that One Day.

  • We can start by leaving the car behind and taking the walk to the store.  This can also be your exercise for the day.
  • Or take a trip to the library.  The librarian will be happy to discuss recent books with you and help you choose just the right one for you.
  • Pick up the phone and call that friend.  Someone has to make the first move and someday that person may no longer be with us.
  • Call the neighbour and ask her/him over for a cup of coffee.

Today the sun is shining, or at least it will have risen even if it is hiding behind the clouds.  Celebrate today it will never come again.  And at the end of the day, how I hate that expression but here I mean it literally, when you look at your To Do List and see what you have accomplished you will be glad you decided this was to be the One Day.

Butterflies

And of course, my favourite Mary Oliver quote (are you bored with this one yet?)

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

What were you thinking?

As Einstein said – “There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
I choose the second option.

On this day four years ago, before I had met and reconnected with my Late Love, the Architect, I wrote this post, Waltzing Matilda.

Of course, I had no idea how my life would change in such a short time.

Soon after writing that I decided to make some major changes to my life.  I decided to go to Italy for a few months and I put the house on the market and it sold very quickly.  Meantime I met up with my Late Love again and what had been a friendship quickly turned into a love affair.  But having made the decision to go away for three months (at least) I journeyed to Florence and blogged every day letting my friends and relatives know what I was doing.

Then when  I returned to NZ I moved in with my Late Love, the Architect.  And in October last year, a prompt from Patricia at Patricia’s Place spoke to me and so You Are Beautiful was written.

A 5-week long visit from my sister in the UK had us showing her around Godzone – or Aotearoa (New Zealand).  A great time for us all and my sister and the Architect bonded as I had hoped and they became great friends.

Then 13 weeks in Europe catching up with friends and revisiting places we had been before but with our spouses.  And then

Unfortunately, unknown and unbidden, a tumour was growing in the Architect’s brain and suddenly it took over and won the battle, so ending the life of my Late Love.

And still, “Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime
and falling into at night.
I miss you like hell.”
Edna Vincent Millay, 1892-1950

So yet another a new chapter started in my life.  Early in 2016, I had a serious accident (I refer to it as another adventure) which necessitated a stay in rehab where I saw so many others so much worse off than me.  Then fully recovered, one day there was a contretemps between a chair leg and a rug – the result was the chair fell with me sitting on it and so a fractured shoulder.

As we know everything passes and once again I’m back to my normal self.  But the question now arises, what to do with the rest of my life.

I’ve begun to write again and once again have decided to write my blog posts if not daily then more often than I have recently.  I have begun to volunteer at the hospice where my Late Love died and again, I know I get more from this than they do.  Oh and as I have been reading and reviewing so many books recently, I started a new blog Books&morebooks.  Maybe one or more of the reviewed books might appeal to you.

Sorry that this post has been all about me.  This January is confirmed as having been the worst in 30 years.  Rain, wind and very little sunshine.  But yesterday we had summer.  It was just as summer ought to be.  Warm, sunny and no wind.  But alas, this morning it has reverted to what we have come to expect this summer, wind and overcast and now at midday the rain has started. The standard roses are taking yet another battering and some of the pots have blown over.  Summer, sorry not here.

summer

And of course, no post is complete without a Mary Oliver quote

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

These beautiful words, from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, remind and inspire me. They remind me that, first and foremost, my life is entirely what I make of it and as I have only one life,  I mean to make the most of it.