Thoughts from a Small Island

Random words from my mind

Put Some Lights On!!

This isn’t Christmas related in any way.

Instead it is something that has been annoying me for a little while now.

As some of you may or may not know I am a runner. Not mega fast but good enough for me (there’s that ‘quote’ again….see?). I usually go running in the evenings after work due to the fact that a) I’m not getting up early just to run and b) I can’t get out of my warm bed at that time of day as it physically holds me under the duvet. Also, I find in the evenings that there are fewer people about to dodge past and there is also less traffic on the roads which then means I have to stop less when trying to cross the road. At this time of year here on the small island it is winter which means the evenings get darker earlier. Now, this in itself is not a problem but when you’re a runner it means you have to be safe. When I go out for a run in the evening I am lit up like a Christmas tree (just a reference to Christmas, not the tone of the blog…..honest) and can probably be seen from space if you look hard enough. I have lights on the heels of my trainers, brightly coloured knee-length funky socks, a fluorescent yellow jacket, a high vis vest, fluorescent hat and lights on the front and rear of my jacket. I also have reflective strips on my gloves too just in case the rest of it can’t be seen from miles away. I wear this, not to make a fashion statement (although it is pretty striking), but to make sure I don’t get run over. It also helps other people to see me coming along the pavement towards them.

Lately however I have seen a rather worrying trend happening. I seem to be coming across many people running without ANY kind of lighting / high visibility clothing. I even saw (once he was right in front of me) a guy wearing black shorts and black t-shirt while out running!! How does that give anyone a chance to avoid him until it’s too late? I have had various comments shouted to me while out running because of the way I look but I’d rather put up with a few mindless comments than run the risk (no pun intended….this time) of ending up in hospital.

This doesn’t just apply to runners though. I have also seen cyclists without lights darting out of junctions at risk of getting flattened by cars. I have even seen cars driving through town without lights on and then the drivers wondering why other cars are flashing their lights at them.

So why does this bother me? Surely it is none of my business that others are willing to put themselves at risk because of their own ignorance / stupidity (*delete as appropriate*) but it is something I genuinely get annoyed by.

I began to think about this a bit more the other day after it came up in conversation at the anxiety cafe I go to once a month and it got me thinking of a rather dodgy link to mental health in a round-a-bout kind of way. Like one of those tenuous links on the news or between programmes on daytime t.v. it kind of made sense to me. If we don’t light ourselves up and speak about our mental health how can we expect anyone to see us and begin to understand the importance of mental health? If we (metaphorically) cover ourselves up in dark clothing we will go unnoticed and get (again metaphorically) flattened.

Now, I’m not saying we should go out all guns blazing like the annoying neighbour who lights up their house with so many Christmas lights (no more Christmas references……I promise) that the glow can be seen from all around but that we should make ourselves visible to others. This is not an easy thing to do as it involves breaking out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up but if you can just speak to one person, be it a family member, close friend or work colleague it will help to be seen. I am more visible now than I probably was this time last year and I intend to keep that going when the decorations come down (sorry, last one) and the evenings get lighter. Therefore I’m pretty sure you can expect to hear more from me in future.

May I just use this last paragraph to say a big thank you to everyone who has read, commented, liked my blogs and ramblings over the last year. It means a lot to me that what I say resonates with so many other people and my only hope is that if what I say helps just one person then my work is done. Blogging has been incredibly therapeutic for me as it has helped me make sense of my head. As I write my thoughts down I find myself answering my own questions and this has helped to ease my anxieties about some of my issues. Hopefully as others read it, it can help you to understand more about how mental health and how it can affect people in so many different ways.

Merry Christmas (yeah, yeah, yeah I know I said it wasn’t Christmas related in any way but seeing as it is that time of year it probably should be mentioned). May I wish you all the best for the season and remind you that it’s o.k. to take time out on the big day if it all gets too much. Sometimes we get so caught up with thinking we should be happy all day that we just need a 30 minute break on our own may be enough to recharge and calm ourselves down again.

Lots of love, hugs, hot cups of tea to all of you.

Thank you xx


What A Week (and it’s only Tuesday)

Hello dear readers

This week has been a bit of a week for me already and we’re only a few days in to it. However, it has had a ring of positivity to it (not in a Xmas type way) and made me feel much better about the direction I am heading in.

Sunday was a day at work and went as well as any day at work can. It was busy but uneventful and just coasted along until I finished at 5pm. I then took the bus to the local leisure centre to watch my daughter swimming in another competition. Although she’s not the fastest swimmer (yet) she is consistently improving and was only 0.4 seconds off of her personal best which made both me and her mum incredibly proud of her and how she approaches things.

Monday was my day off and it was a day I had both eagerly awaited and nervously dreaded at the same time. It was time for me to actually take part in my 40th birthday present which was given to me by some amazing people in my life. I was to go to a village here on the small island and visit a glass works to make my very own paperweight. I have collected glass for a little while and have a reasonable collection of pieces from glass works here on my island (it’s not actually my island but you get the idea) and I am fascinated by the processes involved and how something so fluid can turn into something so beautiful. I will eventually post a photo blog of my day and the piece I made but I have to go back on Saturday to finish it off first. I was nervous of the day as it involved me making the piece in an area that viewed by the public and with my anxieties I was unsure if I would be putting undue pressure on myself. As it turned out I was booked for 10am (when they opened) and the only people there were my parents, me and the glassmakers. Anxiety levels returned to normal and then the excitement kicked as I found out I was making my piece under the guidance of the main man himself. The session was incredible and I will never forget it. It has given me a greater understanding of the craft and work that goes in to it and in a way it has also released another part of my creative side. I was asked if I wanted my piece ’rounded off’ to make it look more like a round paperweight but I politely explained that I wanted to leave a kind of awkward wonkeyness to it (a bit like myself really) as I would then feel more pride it as I had done the whole thing by myself. I was so proud of myself at the end of the session. Not only for keeping my anxiety in check but also for making a lasting object that I could be genuinely proud of and show off to people. I will return to complete the base, polish it and then engrave my name / date on the bottom and then it will be truly finished


(the picture above shows my molten piece with all of the colours swirled together)

Which then brings me to today.

Today marked the end of my journey (in a non X-Factor way) through group therapy. I have done three different groups and I can genuinely say that my eyes have been opened to my own mental health and reasons behind it. I am more aware of my failings but I am happier to accept them rather than fight against them. The main thing I have taken away from the groups though is that none of us are perfect and are NEVER going to be. Once I start to accept who I am I believe I will be in a better position to help others going through similar issues. Another thing I have done is make a promise to myself to be kinder to my mental health and give myself more time to do things that I want to do instead of focusing on things I can’t do or change.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

I have no intention of setting up any generic ‘New Year Resolutions’ for myself as all they do is set me up to fail and then I beat myself up about them because I haven’t done the things I said I would.

I have no intention of overloading myself with things to do so that I then become anxious about having so many tasks to juggle at once (I’m a crap juggler anyway and can barely manage 2 things in the air at once).

I have no intention of surrounding myself with negative people and will walk away or say no to situations I am not comfortable with.

What I will do instead is take my time with things and just see what happens.

I am by no means ‘cured’ and will continue to seek out ways to make my mental health issues easier to live with. I have a new-found discovery of my creative ‘talents’ and will be pushing my work out there a bit more so that others will hopefully appreciate the work I do. This may or may not include a website of some sort in the future but for the time being I will be setting up a Facebook page soon so keep your eyes peeled for updates on that in the new year.

Until then, if I don’t have anything to say before the festivities begin for Christmas then I wish you all good health and thank you all for taking the time to read the words that have come out of my head and been written down (well, typed really) for you to get an insight in to my life here on this little island I call home.

I love you all

Thank you…………………

Tis The Season To Be……..

Tired, emotional, fed up, over excited, bored and cold (but mostly emotional).

As we are now in December I think it is now perfectly acceptable to talk about the ‘C’ word.

No, not crisps or chocolate (although they do feature heavily at this time of year).

That’s right…….CHRISTMAS.

The season of goodwill to all and the time when we lie to our children. That second point might a bit be a bit harsh but it is true in that we all at some point have been told the story of Santa only visiting good children and if you are on the naughty list you will get nothing. This means you probably spent most of December being incredibly hardworking around the house and you were extra nice to your siblings (if you have any) so as to avoid being on ‘that’ list. The first point of goodwill can also be stretching it a little as there is always one person who you really don’t want to be nice to but ‘because it’s Christmas’ you swallow your pride and keep your tongue in check.

Christmas has always been a bit of a funny time of year for me. Looking back on my life since I have been made more aware of my mental health it seems to be the one time of the year when I have felt more alone than any. I have an incredibly supportive family who have always given everything they can at Christmas and I have never been unhappy with what I have received from people. In fact I have had amazing gifts through the years and have always been amazed at people’s kindness. I also love watching people’s faces as they open the presents I have given as, for me, that is one of the highlights of my day. For some unexplained reason I just feel like I am alone and I’m not allowed to let myself be happy.

What I don’t enjoy however, is the enforced happiness of it all both during the day and in the maddening run up to it. I work in retail so in effect we have Christmas thrown at us from September onwards and understandably I have had enough of it by the time it actually comes around. I am expected to be happy all day when the reality is that I just want to feel ‘normal’.

I don’t want a lot of fuss.

I just want to have a nice relaxed breakfast. Followed by some time with my wife and daughter opening presents before we get stuck in to preparing a lovely roast dinner for the 3 of us. Then, leaving me to wash the dishes while bouncing around the kitchen with my headphones on, my wife can relax in the living room watching rubbish on the TV and my daughter will no doubt be glued to her phone ignoring us all. I don’t want to make myself feel guilty for not having a good time while I struggle with my own insecurities and emotions. I don’t want to make myself feel like I am letting my family down when I don’t want to join in with games. Is that too much to ask?

At this time last year I was to begin the most scary part of my life so far as I descended deeper in to my depression and anxiety. I had been signed off work and was staying indoors for most of the time unless I absolutely had to go out. This year I intend to make more of an effort but to still feel comfortable.

In the weeks leading up to the big day itself I have a number of things to look forward to. One of these is my 40th birthday present from my work colleagues and I am going to be going to a local glass works and making my own paperweight. I will be gathering the glass, adding my own colours and blowing the shape all by myself (with some help of the master glass maker) and then when it’s all done I can polish the bottom (sounds a bit dodgy if you ask me) and engrave it with my name and date. I can’t wait for this and I am genuinely excited for this day to come.

The other important thing to look forward to is that we are getting central heating and a new boiler in our house. This gives us another thing to tick off the list of jobs to do in the house.

Finally, in other news, I have sold my first piece of artwork. Those of you who follow my blog will know that I have got back in to drawing. I have my own ‘style’ and while it’s not to everyone’s taste I am proud of it. So much so that I am going to be setting up my own Facebook page for my art work so that I can push it out there a bit more. It’s not going to give a me a retirement income yet.

But you never know what is around the corner………………………………..


Just Accept Things

In the last couple of weeks I have had two common threads of conversation with varying people.

One of these has been how ‘epic’ my beard is becoming (and it is if I may say so myself). I have had customers at my workplace commenting on how it is getting fuller and that it really suits my face more. Not one person has said it’s gross, ugly or unruly and my wife even likes it. Although I suspect that she maybe tolerates it more than liking it. My colleagues and friends even said the other day that they have never seen it so full on me before and that I kind of look like the ‘old me’ again. My mother however has said that I look a little bit like Forrest Gump when he does his run across America but that’s ok cos she’s my mum and I can let her get away with saying things like that (plus she reads my blog so I’ve put that bit in there just for her).

Quite how a beard can become such a big topic of discussion is beyond my limits of comprehension but I find it amusing that people have said the ‘old me’ is back.

Does my facial hair have some kind of effect on my mood? Was / is my depression caused by shaving?

The simple answer to both of those questions is a resounding NO but I do believe I use it as a kind of fuzzy security blanket (except it’s not a blanket and it’s actually attached to my face). Ever since college I have had a beard of one form or another. Goatee, scruffy, designer stubble and now a full beard. Only once in approximately 25 years have I had a bald face and that was due to workplace restrictions which have now relaxed allowing me the freedom to be a weirdy beardy again. I class it as part of my identity and I genuinely felt lost without it and like I was a different person. However, I discovered while I was without it I could still be a husband, father, friend and general all around decent human being (as I have always been).

So why am I so attached to it? Well, other than the fact it actually grows on me, I like it just for what it is.

Which then brings me on to the 2nd topic of conversation. I have had numerous comments on my art works (I call them doodles but make of that what you will) and even suggestions that I do more with them. While I struggle to see anything special in them myself I am beginning to accept that other people appreciate them as more than just a scribble in a notebook. I have also received compliments to my work from members of my own family in that one of my cousins shared a picture on her social media feed of some doodles on her notebook which appear to have been ‘inspired’ by my works. I also received a beautiful drawing from my niece of a drawing she did after seeing my work on instagram too. I was (and still am) genuinely proud to see that she did that just for me.

Does this make me an artist?

I don’t know, but like my beard I am beginning to accept my art for what it is.

Finally I have ended this week on a bit of a high note. We had a little bit of a housewarming party and invited some friends around to help us celebrate our new home and although I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the prospect of lots of people, noise and mess in the house all at once I actually enjoyed myself. We all had snacks, drinks and interesting conversation and it was nice to feel that these people cared about us to see our new home. I was anticipating that I would spend most if the evening holding on to my glass whilst nervously trying to engage in discussions ranging from types of cheese to the state of the world in general.

But rather than build myself up to worry about it, I spent the week prior to it just getting my head ready for the evening in question and accepted it for what it is.

And alongside my beard and my art I’m enjoying this new path in life.

Long live the revolution

Or my slight shift in mood at least…………………

(P.S. the picture of the man with the awesome beard at the top isn’t actually me – just in case you were thinking otherwise)

Is It Art?

Hello again everyone.

It’s been a while since I last wrote down anything here as, to be honest, I’ve not had much to say.

That’s not to say that I haven’t done stuff in my day-to-day life but (in my eyes at least) I don’t really think it’s been newsworthy.

I have recently finished my course on self-esteem and it has been an eye opener for me. While much of it has been familiar in the sense that it has informed me of what is happening inside my head there has been an element of it that made me deeply uncomfortable. I’m not going in to detail here about what was talked about (what happens in therapy, stays in therapy) but suffice to say it knocked me a little bit and it is only now that I am beginning to process the thoughts that have arisen from the sessions. A recurring theme has been the fact that I have ALWAYS been an anxious person. Right from childhood I have found it hard to make friends and I have been perfectly happy with my own company. However, during high school years this has become one of my rules for living and it has left me with a sense that I am never going to be good enough for anyone (including myself).

Through all of my adult years I have then found it hard to accept compliments from people as I have always felt there was an ulterior motive to their comments.

“Your hair looks good today” people might say to me.

My self-esteem would then make me think that I looked terrible the day before, or has never looked good. I would retreat in to a world of my own (and still do sometimes) until I felt able to accept myself again.


I am trying to change.

I have made a conscious decision to accept compliments for what they are. A compliment. No longer do I reply to a comment with a negative, instead I am trying to say thank you. It doesn’t sound that hard but in all fairness when you’ve spent a lifetime deflecting things away from you it is hard to just say those two words (and mean them). I have comments from customers at work on the look of my beard which is getting ever more bushy and instead of telling people I look like a homeless person sometimes, or like a grizzly bear I have said thank you and left the conversation at that. And guess what? It actually feels good.

Another thing I have begun to do is offer my doodles and ‘art’ for sale. I don’t consider myself an artist but I do consider myself to be creative. I must be if I can write random thoughts for strangers to read. Anyway, back to the art. I have discovered a ‘style’ that I enjoy trying to draw and I have shared some of my art on here previously. I have now taken it a stage further and begun customising vinyl figures. I put one up for sale over the weekend that I had done and to my astonishment a friend of mine approached me with a view to purchasing it. To think that someone appreciates my work that much has blown me away and I am a little humbled by it but as part of my new-found ‘thing’ of accepting compliments I have taken this as a huge positive. This has done wonders for my confidence and spurred me on to push my work out there a bit more.

I think that art is a very subjective thing and what one person loves, the next person might hate completely. I am under no illusion that some people might not like my art and that is fine with me. It doesn’t offend me in the slightest, it’s their choice.I can accept that I am never going to be perfect (honestly, who is though?) but I am now beginning to believe that I am becoming good enough for me and that is a massive achievement.

What I am going to keep doing though is more of it. I will flood my instagram with it and there will be no apologies for this as it is mine and I am genuinely proud of it.

If anyone is interested in a custom piece or just wants to see more of my stuff then feel free to look on my instagram (steviebabes1977) and contact me through there or through the ‘message me’ bit on my Facebook page

Until next time, look after yourselves and I’ll be in touch again soon

A Wave of Something

As it is half-term here on the small island I am officially on holiday. I am staying in a lovely big house on the west side of the small island with family and (so far) it is uneventful. No arguments. No fallings out (yet) and plenty of places for me to go and sit in quiet.

Today we have been driving about getting annoyed at the lack of diversion signs due to roadworks. We were trying to get to the garlic farm (yes, there is such a thing) as our relatives were keen on sampling some of the things on offer. If you ever get the chance to go I would suggest that you DON’T buy the garlic beer though as that is positively disgusting and not something that should even be considered……..ever.

Anyway, I digress as always.

The point of this post is that today after the trip to the garlic farm (which, according to most ‘local’ people on the small island is all the way on the other side) we returned to the house for lunch before relaxing for the afternoon. My wife took a nap, the kids played quietly (or as quietly as my 11yr old can) and I decided to go for a little wander to the beach which is only 2 minutes down the end of the road.

We have recently had the tail end of 2 storms come our way and while we have got away relatively easy compared to other parts of the country there are still some high winds and rough weather coming around.

Today at the beach there were some pretty big waves around and a good crowd of people were watching them crash against the sea wall, me included. Armed with my camera I moved closer to the edge but still far enough away to stay safe but I managed to get some great photos. One of these is the picture at the top of this post and it sums up my mood completely at the moment. Much like the man in the photo I feel a sense of joy (as I am on holiday) and there are no worries. However, what the photo doesn’t show is the moment the chap gets soaked by the weight of the water bearing down on him.

And it is this moment that I am waiting for.

There is a sense in the air of a big weight of emotion bearing down on me and it is all going to consume me. I don’t know why this feeling is there as I have had a good day today. I’ve had some garlic (which was abso-bloomin-lutely amazing *if that’s even a real word*), been for a walk, been out for a run with my sister-in-law and then watched my daughter putting her all in to her swimming training in the evening. My general health is good right now and my mental health is on a bit of a level for the time being.

I’m assuming it’s my head playing games with me and trying to get me to take a step back.

But do you know what?

I’m going to turn my head around and face that big wave head on. I might get a little bit of spray in my eyes. I might get my feet a bit damp. I will probably get completely drenched all over but I will enjoy it and return at some point in the future to do it all again.

However, the next time I decide to face a big storm though, I think I should probably take a coat…………..

The Magic of Dance

Today’s blog is all about dancing or in my case awkwardly swaying to music.

Yes, you did read that correctly I have been dancing.

It all began with the introduction of the Anxiety Cafe daytime sessions on a Wednesday morning in a church hall in the town. I haven’t been able to go to the first couple of sessions due to work and personal commitments but this week I thought I’d give it a go. What have I got to lose? Apart from my dignity……nothing. This week the theme was Movement for Wellbeing which, for me, conjured up the image of elderly people in a park moving very slowly in a Tai Chi sort of style but I was open to the concept of trying.

I turned up a few minutes early as usual (I can’t stand being late for anything) and was pleased to see the familiar face of Cupcakes and Anxiety at the door. There were also a few faces that I recognised as more people came in to the hall and this helped to ease my fears a little.

After a brief introduction and a cup of tea (everything goes better after tea) we all met the lady who was to be leading the ‘class’ this morning. Now, I had imagined someone all dressed up in dance gear as if they had just stepped out of the film set to ‘Footloose’ but this lovely lady was just in casual wear. I don’t know if this was an attempt to make us all feel at ease but it made the atmosphere (in my case anyway) feel a little more relaxed. It still felt as awkward as it could be but seeing as I had made the effort to go to the session I should at least show willing.

The first activity was to introduce ourselves. Easy right? Not when you have to add a movement that describes you. We went round the room and everyone did their movement in turn (there was only 8 of us so not too much to remember) before it came to me. What do I do? Do I be over the top and make a tit of myself? Do I do a small action just to show willing? I know what I’ll do…..I’ll raise both my arms in a ‘ta dah’ kind of way to draw even more attention to myself. That’ll work. And it did, and nobody laughed  or even bothered as they were all too busy concentrating on their own movements.

Second task was a team task where we were all shown 3 movements and then told to wander around the room and meet each other with at least one of these movements. Awkward? Yes. Fun? Yes

On a side note this was probably the first and only time I have been encouraged to touch strangers without the fear of being slapped or arrested.

I won’t bore you all with the full run down of each activity but suffice to say they were actually enjoyable once we all got started. There was once or twice where I did consider sitting down and taking  a break but when I looked around and saw that everyone else probably felt as uncomfortable as me I soldiered on and pushed myself even further out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t easy to do but I am proud to say that I did it and so did everyone else in the group so far that I think we should all be VERY proud of ourselves.

You don’t need a huge amount of rhythm to ‘dance’ like we did today but I would encourage anyone to move a little every now and then. Whether it’s a wiggle while doing the ironing or full on headbanging around the house you will find it highly satisfying and actually quite enjoyable. I have zero rhythm (ask my wife, she’s seen me try and dance) but I could do these movements with very little fuss or effort so if I can do it……so can you.

Oh well, after all that effort I now need to eat a couple of jam doughnuts and a sausage roll to replace all the energy I’ve used up.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it………………………………..


How Are You Today?

Today is World Mental Health Day.

What does this mean to us all though?

Everyone in the world has their own mental health and well-being to look after each day.

However, there are 1 in 4 of us who lives with a mental illness (I am one of those 4). For those who battle daily with a mental illness I just want to say one thing.

“Stay strong. You’re doing a great job”

My own personal battle with my mental health eventually raised its ugly head just over a year ago but if I’m being honest with myself (and my readers) it probably started a long, long time ago. Before the days of mobile phones, WiFi and social media. For some of you this may be difficult to comprehend but for those of us over a certain age it was actually great fun and less stressful in some ways. Days were spent playing with our friends, building dens in woods, creating networks of tunnels in hay barns and then returning home before it got dark. As long as we told our parents where we were going everything would be ok (most of the time, if we didn’t get caught). Very rose-tinted but true.

Through the self-esteem course that I am currently on I have been looking at myself in a different way to see how I can understand myself better and this has brought up some uncomfortable realisations. I have never complained about my childhood and I feel that I had what I consider a pretty awesome time. My parents and family are the best I could ever have asked for and we have made some amazing memories over the years. But……one thing I have come to realise is that I was always a pretty awkward child. I found it hard to make friends and when I did make any I was always thinking that they were only friends with me because there was no-one else. Don’t get me wrong I did have friends and we did loads of crazy stuff together but I never had that one ‘best’ friend who I could rely on when things got too tough. I never had that one person who would know I wasn’t quite right one day and just ask me how I was doing. The one person who knew when to pull me out of situations that were too ‘risky’ for me.

I was a pretty geeky kid (still am as an adult) but also had the added advantage of being a teeny bit sporty too. I was in the rugby team for 4 yrs at high school and also did well at athletics when the weather changed. I guess one of the main reasons why I was never bullied was because I had friends in both camps but I never felt like I was ‘one of the gang’.

I think (or more importantly, I know) this is probably the reason why I have always preferred my own company and like going out on my own. But (and it’s a really big but) it is also the main reason for my depression and subsequent anxiety issues.

I have always felt like an outsider.

I have never been the cool kid.

I have never felt accepted (apart from within my family).

Looking at these statements as I type them I understand myself a little more and think do I really want to be the cool kid? Isn’t it better to be an individual? Do I really need acceptance from others for my own decisions? I don’t have the answers but I always have plenty of questions to ask myself.

I have also found it quite a strange feeling when I have settled anywhere for long. Almost like I should move away again to avoid getting too close to people. I moved around a little bit as a child but I have never regretted this part of my life. I have lived in some fantastic places and been close to beautiful scenery and feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. There has been times though when I have not settled deliberately for fear of having to move again. I remember when we moved from Somerset to the small island and my dad asked me how I felt about it. At the time I said I wasn’t sure as we had been in Somerset for 10yrs and it was the longest I had ever been in one place. It wasn’t until years later that my dad told me he never knew I felt that way about moving. As I said before I do not regret moving around but just wish I had had that one person I could shared it with as I grew up.

Now it’s been 22yrs that I have been on the small island and I feel now like it is somewhere I could finally settle for life. I have friends (but still not that one best friend) but at times I still feel myself deliberately distancing myself from them for fear that they might leave to find something better. Quite why they would is anyone’s guess but it’s something I have instilled in myself as a safety measure.

Which in a round-a-bout way brings me back to my original question. How are you today?

If I can impart one bit of knowledge it is to say that a little bit of kindness can go a very long way. You might not receive it today but one day what you give out in good will and kind thoughts will come back to you when you need it.

So ask the geeky kid, the sporty kid, the outsider, the loner how they are. It might be the one time that they open up to someone and ask for help. They might not answer at all but deep inside it will make a difference that someone noticed them.

At my lowest points in life just someone asking me how I am has made me feel like someone cares.

So, how are you today?

Where Have You Been?

Not actually a question I have heard since I have been offline but I guess some of you might have wondered where I’ve been lately.

The last couple of weeks have been a complete roller coaster of emotions for me as I have moved house (I may have mentioned it once or twice in a previous blog….or two) and there has been all the stress that goes along with that too.

For once I have been relatively stable at work and my days have gone quite well due to my little routine that I have apparently keeping me on an even keel. Due to a complete mix up with the quotation on our removal package we ended up having to pack up our whole house in just a week. Stressful enough at the best of times but when you’re literally just throwing things in to a box and marking it for a particular room there is little time to actually organize what you need straight away in the new house. This has meant that the things we need have been split between boxes and we’re still trying to piece bits together as we have no idea where they might be. Thankfully for us (but not my parents) Ryanair have been cancelling flights all over the place so it meant that they were both available to help us pack and tidy up. I genuinely believe if it hadn’t been for them, my wife and I would never have got as far as we did before moving in day.

Anyways, on with the story. On the morning of the move we were all up early trying to finish off packing some of the loose bits and bobs still left in the various rooms of the house. We had some breakfast with the bits of food we had left in the cupboard and a cup of tea (because everything goes better with a cup of tea…..right?). Just after 8am there was a knock on the door and standing on the doorstep were 3 guys from the removal company. The main man had a little look around to see what the situation was and then made a comment about how much stuff was left. His exact words were “There’s a lot of clutter. We can’t move that lot”

At this point, my already fragile mind was starting to crumble and I started to have a bit of a rant at the main man. I could see he was just taking it in his stride as I’m sure he’s probably seen worse houses but it felt like a personal attack on me so I continued my verbal assault (albeit in a slight polite kind of way).

We agreed for them to take the boxes and main bits of furniture out to the lorry and then they would go for breakfast and give us an hour to try and box up the ‘clutter’ ready for going on the rest of the lorry.

It was at this point that my world came crashing down. I felt a complete lack of control and my head was beginning to get the familiar fuzzy feeling, complete with tingling arms and legs. I began to shake uncontrollably and started crying.

I felt useless

I was a waste of space

I was just getting in the way

It was just another thing that I couldn’t get right, or so I thought.

My wife spoke to me calmly and re-assuringly and made me remember that I had got this far and should be very proud of myself. I put on my ‘big boy pants’ and made an effort to get things finished. The lorry got loaded, my mum and my wife drove to the new house to get things ready for them to unload and my dad and I brought up the rear to pick up some of the loose bits still in the house.

We arrived at the new house and I helped unload. I began to feel a little more relaxed as I had some control over what was happening from now on. I was directing the guys in to the relevant rooms with their boxes and even standing at the lorry telling them where the pieces of furniture were going before they unpacked them. I was in my element as it made me feel important and needed again.

The rest of the day was spent creating walkways past boxes and then the Sunday (the day after the move) was spent taking control again and organising the garage while my daughter sorted her own room and my mum helped my wife sort out the kitchen cupboards and shelves. We are now at a stage almost 2 weeks later where we have a usable kitchen, a usable lounge and bedrooms that we can walk in to without tripping over boxes. The dining room still needs work, as does the front box room which is due to be my wife’s craft room and the garage needs electric in it so I can use it as my little ‘man cave / doodle studio’. However, the main feeling now is one of contentment. It feels a bit strange knowing that this pile of bricks and roof tiles is all ours and we will never need to ask someone else if we want to decorate it or change something but it is also a good feeling to know that this is our home.

Elsewhere in the last 2 weeks I have been trying to sort out address changes for various places and sorting out the various utilities being transferred to our new home. Not overly stressful but when your original order with your phone and internet company doesn’t appear to have been done correctly and they have to put another order in (resulting in a 2 week delay with out phone or WiFi) it doesn’t make it easy to contact people. But by using various free WiFi  hot-spots and messaging people when possible it is finally sorted and we are back in the 21st century.

However, no WiFi is not actually a bad thing as it meant we had to talk to each other and appreciate each other’s company again. It made us connect with each other without the distraction of YouTube or FaceBook in the background and I must say that I really enjoyed my time away from ‘modern life’

I have also started my next group of counselling sessions and this time it focuses on Self Esteem. It’s pretty hard going so far as it has made me think about events in my past that I may not have even considered. This has been difficult for me because as far as I remember I was never mis-treated as a child and I like to think I had an awesome childhood. My parents gave us everything they could (and they still do) and we never wanted for anything. I was never bullied at school but I found it hard to make friends. My counselling has begun to make me think about myself as an individual and make me think about how I look at myself against how I perceive other see me. Like I say, it’s hard going but I think it’s going to help me in the long run.

The other big step I have taken this week is that I am going to try and sell my pictures. Today I found the pack of canvasses I had bought and I did the first one. It is a larger version of the picture I called ‘Silent Night’ and I am pretty chuffed with it (in a not very big headed type way) but I have no idea how much I should try and sell it for if anyone actually wants it. Still, I’ve put a piccie below for anyone to have a look at.

2017-10-06 10.56.11

Oh well, thanks for making it this far and not falling asleep at my wittering on. Hopefully normal service is on it’s way to being resumed and I shall continue to try and keep heading forwards………………….


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