Out of My Comfort Zone

What do you do when you’re feeling anxious and depressed? Perhaps it’s not a problem for you. Perhaps you meditate or exercise or take a bath or just breathe. Me? I tend to curl up on the sofa with Netflix and maybe a glass of wine. But all that does is take my mind off things for a while. The stressful routine of a carers’ life does not work well for someone like me who thrives on variety and new challenges.

And while I can’t easily change my current circumstances, I can make little changes to my daily routine, and this week I managed several big ones!

Smallest first….

I cut my own fringe. I’m always afraid of making a complete mess of it, but no one has noticed so I think it will do until I manage to book an appointment with the hairdresser.

Meeting new people for world mental health day. Always scary. Will I make a complete eejit of myself due to nerves? Will I trip or spill my coffee? In fact I enjoyed myself and it was great to have a brief chat with others who are dealing with crises similar to the one in my own family.

Finally, I went wall climbing at the nearby Awesome Walls with my fabulous running group (on a day off). I must have the climbing gene, as when I was a small girl I climbed trees and rocks with no safety harness and often on my own. Not usually a problem apart from the day I fell into a hollow tree…  And some of my friends will recall that even last summer I seized the opportunity to climb a tree when no one else would. Awesome Walls looked absolutely awesome. And it was. I don’t think it will become another hobby because it’s quite time consuming and lacks variety, but as an occasional treat, bring it on!

Awesome Walls collage October 2018

So those are my three challenging reasons to be cheerful for this week. Check out more at Lakes Single Mum.

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Reasons to be Cheerful 5.10.18

Once again I’m so thankful to Becky and Michelle for hosting Reasons to be Cheerful, and reminding me to look for them: This week has been mostly about self-care to enable me to keep going as a carer.

#MagicOfOctober – this Instagram challenge from theclotheslines.ie is distracting me from other thoughts as I try to find something to fit each day’s prompt.
Instagram #MagicOfOctober
Bargains – chocolate counts as self-care I think, and what could be better than a bargain 10 cent bar I found in my local Tesco!

Zumba – I know I’ve mentioned Zumba before, but dancing is proven to be good for the soul, mental health, and brain health too, and it’s the one weekly fixture I hate to miss.

Running – a lot of running happened this week. Beginning with an assisted run with B on Saturday at a nearby Parkrun, when we got to test a real running buggy, and I hope to blog about that experience properly soon. On Monday I went for a run along the Royal Canal with a pal, and yesterday I was absolutely delighted with this result from a training run with my Phoenix Park running group.

Strava Phoenix Park Run October 2018

Hope you have a great week xx

 

 

A light for when all other lights go out

It’s been another week of emotional earthquakes, and I don’t know if I’m numb or shattered in the face of it all. But on Monday a little light was thrown into the disaster zone of my life. A mystery parcel arrived from an unknown sender and when I opened it, I found it full of good things and encouraging messages, including this candle.

A light for when all other lights go out

I can’t tell you how much this thoughtful gift means to me. I will be dipping into it for weeks, and one day hopefully I can pass on the favor to someone else in need.

The package was actually sent by Michelle, aka Mummy from the Heart, the founder of the Reasons to be Cheerful linky that I have been doing since 2010. Finding positivity really does help to bring light when all else seems dark.

It also reminds me of the power of those people who brighten up or illuminate our lives in different ways.

My disabled daughter whose smile can light up a room – or even a stage – which she did last Friday when she made her acting debut at Dublin’s Helix Theatre, part of the cast of The Big Musical Mashup. I never thought I’d see my daughter on the stage, so huge thanks to her service for arranging it.

The Big Musical Mash Up

On Wednesday I attended the launch of a report designed to shine a light on some of the darker practices in Irish schools, and I was there to support one of the brave families who came forward to tell their story. Not a cheerful day, but hopefully a good day for the children of Ireland if this report leads to positive changes in the way that disabled children are treated. It can’t come soon enough.

Seclusion and Restraint report

Yesterday I brought a little light into my own life when after an emotionally difficult meeting I took myself off for some grown up time and attended an exhibition. Okay so it was an exhibition of wheelchair accessible vehicles, so still disability related, but everyone I spoke to was positive and constructive about my mad ideas for my next van, so I came home feeling hopeful that maybe one of my dreams can still come true.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Reasons to be cheerful 21.9.18

I removed my rose tinted blogging specs this week to mark the anniversary of the current crisis. To keep it real and tell it like it is. But I don’t want to lose the positivity on here either, so I’ve been scratching around to bring you some reasons to be cheerful this week too….

An unexpected outing

B and I plus a friend planned a flying trip into town to book theatre tickets as a birthday treat, but due to a mix up over the box office opening times we ended up hanging around for a bit of light shopping, dinner out in a local hotel, and watching a race on the water in Dublin’s Docks. B loved it!

Normality

A brief taste of normality when I attended another meeting of the Human Rights Committee at my daughter’s adult service. It’s empowering and encouraging to sit around a table with an inclusive group who are committed to making positive changes in the lives of disabled people.

Mornings

My morning alarm has been moved forwards by 15 minutes to 6am – always my watershed time, and despite a difficult week, I feel much more awake than usual, and I’ve got more done in less time so far today.

I’m also making an effort to appreciate the semblance of normality when my youngest is asleep – like the option to close internal doors.

Swimbags

As I trudged from a nearby housing estate to B’s service for her assisted swim laden down with a rucksack, two pool noodles, her special but awkwardly shaped float and a selection of towels in another plastic bag that had sprouted an inconvenient hole, I decided there had to be a better solution.

Thanks to Google, I found one. Its unfortunate name is Big Mummy Mesh Bag, and while I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet, I can confirm that it easily fits four towels and our swimming gear, so it’s looking good so far.

Birthdays

And finally, it’s my eldest daughter’s birthday tomorrow. She’ll be 26. I’m as shocked as you. But she’s grown into a mature, caring young woman who is determined to change the world for the better. I believe she will and I’m very proud of her 💕

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

When visitors make magic happen

The magic starts with me: I am almost transformed into a domestic goddess at the prospect of visitors. Suddenly I can find the energy and incentive to clean the house from top to bottom.

My children rise to the occasion. They smile, they put their problems aside as much as they can. They enjoy the company. They make an effort, even when it’s hard.

There have been a few brave visitors this year, all of them have a made a huge difference, and made memories for us as a family.

Last weekend it was my brother’s turn, and for a couple of days life seemed almost normal.

Broken things were fixed. Lunch was eaten out. With dessert of course.

Banoffi Pie

There was a trip to IKEA that involved more than just eating meat balls!

IKEA

There were family dinners, I even made a hearty vegan salad one evening and there may have been a tear in my eye at the sight of the empty plates…

On Sunday we went to Farmleigh in Dublin’s Phoenix Park for Nepal Day. We were a bit too early for the celebrations, but B enjoyed showing the sights to her uncle.

Sadly the magic ended at 6.15 on Monday morning, but it was good while it lasted.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Reasons to be Cheerful 7.9.18

Once again I’ve been struggling to write anything positive. It feels false to suggest things are mostly fine here. When they’re really not. I don’t like presenting a misleading image to the world, that I’m a great mum who copes cheerfully with all the challenges faced by my daughter and son, when the truth is a little different, especially in relation to my youngest, who is still going through a very difficult patch.

But if I give up writing these posts, I may stop getting cheery reminders about them from Michelle and Becky. Even their weekly tweets force me to take stock and remember any good things that have happened.

So here’s a selection from the last while:

I’m still losing weight.

I finally downloaded the Calm App, and it’s helping me to go back to sleep when I’m worrying in the dark hours of the night.

The end of the summer means the professionals are back at their desks, and a trip to Accident and Emergency has galvanized the system to take action in relation to the needs of my two younger children. Hopefully we will see real results soon.

B now has a Personal Assistant for 8 hours a month on Sunday mornings. It’s a busy time for me, and now she can go out with her PA instead of watching videos.

Meeting a former neighbour by pure chance.  I hadn’t seen her for at least ten years and it was good to catch up.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

The Cliff Edge

How did I ever find the time to write? I really don’t know any more, and I don’t know what is to become of this blog. The more things I cut out of my life, the more stuff is thrown my way. And that’s mixed with all the challenges that are not going away any time soon either. Sleep deprivation has recently been added to the mix, and I *may* have vented on social media as a safe way to handle the relentless pressure. But so far, every time I think this family is going to fall off the cliff edge, I have a good day, or even just a good few minutes. And that keeps me going for a little bit longer.

So what has cheered me up recently?

I’ve reduced my exercise schedule to four times a week, and one of those sessions is usually assisted running. Which means pushing B in her wheelchair. Many of you will know that we took part in the Alanna Russell Memorial 6K race on the  Sunday before last, and we both had a wonderful time at this superbly organised event in memory of a very special young girl who died last year.

Promises have been made and some action has been taken – B now has a Personal Assistant for 8 hours a month to bring her out on Sunday mornings. That’s a busy time for me, and now she will have something more entertaining to do than watching videos!

A home visit to test out a domestic lift and see how it works, and I can report that B had to ride up and down in it on her own, which only worried her at first. It’s a neat and unobtrusive solution that stores the lift in whichever room you are not using at the time. It can also be used to transport all sort of heavy stuff between floors, not just people in wheelchairs! It does mean that a two storey home really could work for us, though obviously not as well as a bungalow.

A lovely walk in the sunshine with a very good friend and the chance to test out the fare at the Gourmet Food company near Portmarnock.

Malahide Beach summer 2018

A Rainbow Junior Arch Club trip to Imaginosity, an interactive children’s museum in South Dublin, including a van disco on the way, with loads of dancing in the back! It wasn’t really suitable for B, but I was on duty for the Club and she enjoyed being my helper and watching all the children having a great time.

Imaginosity B collage

Hearing my daughter laughing with delight as she is wheeled up the path and home after another great day with her friends at the Central Remedial Clinic..

More reasons to be cheerful over at Lakes Single Mum.

 

Being productive, being brave, and being cheerful

The house has been calmer this week, and that overwhelmed feeling is beginning to recede. I’m finally crossing items off the to do list, and even little things like finding the time to clean the cooker hood feels like progress.

I also began clearing the attic, as a small step towards my plan to downsize from this house. It was not a pleasant or easy job – lugging very dirty and dusty boxes through the attic hatch, down the step ladder and the stairs, and out to the shed – but it was satisfying. I was super cautious, and wore googles and a dust mask, so it’s just as well that no-one rang the doorbell! Then hidden among the boxes I found this…

Bridal headpiece hairband
Memories of a very significant and happy day! Even though it all went wrong later.

I said no to a few more requests this week, helping my productivity and reducing the guilt of not being available at home.

When I heard a radio ad for the 100th edition of Now That’s What I Call Music, I realised it would make a perfect unbirthday present for B. I could’ve added it to her gift list for October, but I wanted to get her a few treats. Just because.

We also raided Penneys (Primark in the UK) and B got a couple of T-shirts, and I bought a cute green jacket – the first time in ages I’ve bought something I wanted, but didn’t actually need.

Finally, I watched in amazement last Saturday as my social media filled up with images of blogging friends in swimwear. It was another tribute to Kate Sutton and a way to publicise a Go Fund Me for her sons. Obviously I was NOT going to do anything like that, or so I told myself over breakfast. By teatime I had my most popular Instagram post ever. I think Kate would’ve appreciated that, and it shows how many women were inspired by her positivity and bravery, and her impact will surely live on for many more years, and I think that’s a good enough reason to be cheerful for this week.

Swim wear
R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Reasons to be cheerful about friends, family and more

The last few weeks have been an important reminder of the difference it makes when you talk to someone, tell someone, stop bottling everything up. It began during the Great Escape to Kerry, when the floodgates opened after a couple of glasses of wine. Since then I’ve not been able to stop!

And family and friends responded in ways I did not expect at all 😍

Just a few hours ago these lovely flowers were dropped in by a friend I haven’t seen in real life for a long time. I answered the door with my apron and a scowl expecting someone selling something, but Claire was gracious and we agreed that we MUST meet for coffee soon. And a commitment made in a blog post is totally binding, right?

Flowers

My eldest is home for the week, and jumped at the offer of a proper family Sunday dinner with a roast chicken and all the trimmings. The leftovers have kept me in meals all week (note that I’m still a human dustbin, my mother’s influence from living through the War, and maybe reading Stig of the Dump too many times…).

A trip to the cinema with eldest also happened amidst a fair bit of chaos and I can’t tell you how good it felt to get away from it all for a couple of hours.

Helen, a longtime friend from my London days in the 1980s encouraged me to join in with her 30 day plank and squat challenge – just the kind of thing that helps distract me and gives me a sense of achievement when I feel like I’m failing at everything else. You can find out more at Fit Fab Fifty.

Plank, Me, 2018

Finally I have to pay tribute to blogger Kate Sutton (@IAmWitWitWoo) who sadly died after a stroke earlier this week leaving a gaping hole in the blogging community that formed around 2010. Her huge personality lit up my twitter feed and her hilarious and honest accounts of dating in your 40s were always an entertaining read. My heart goes out to her two sons. Yet in the middle of all the sadness, there was an upside – her death brought me back into contact with some of the bloggers and former bloggers that I’d lost touch with over the years, and to hear how well their lives are going is a reason to be cheerful.

Have a great week xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

A butterfly with fragile wings

Progress is a beautiful thing, but in this house it’s fragile and easily damaged. Progress means hours when I feel almost normal again, when my anxiety levels go down, and everyone else in the house perks up too. And yes I’m having to write in riddles and hints, but I did promise that this blog would focus mostly on my disabled daughter B and myself – and not on my other children – so I can’t tell you exactly what’s been happening.

But I can tell you about my other reasons to be cheerful…

My weekend away with B, that I wrote about here.

Kerry

Rain. Only a little bit of rain, but I was so glad to see it, as I was beginning to worry if it would ever return! I know that sounds crazy, but extreme weather events have become the norm even in Ireland, and nothing seems certain any more. Not even rain. (Of course some people were complaining.)

Getting out for the whole day to attend a country funeral to provide support to a couple of friends. It was a risk, but everything at home was okay while I was gone. On the same day I agreed that B could go to the circus after hours without coming home from her day activities first. And that went well too.

I bought a different newspaper at the weekend to begin doing crosswords again. All the challenges this week (to counterbalance all the progress) meant that I am still trying to finish the first one. But it’s a start.

B and I joined the first outing of the Rainbow Junior Arch Club’s Summer Programme last Friday and we had a wonderful time exploring the Airfield Estate and Farm in South Dublin. We visited it once before a couple of years ago, and I wrote about that visit here.

Sculpture Airfield Estate

B and I went house hunting again, and with new bungalows as rare as pink butterflies, I decided to look at new two storey houses with large downstairs toilets and room to install a lift. And we found one. Of course the developer is only interested in selling to first time or cash buyers, but I’m not giving up just yet! At least I’m finding options.

But the butterfly of hope is fragile and elusive, and I’m always afraid it will fly away if something changes. This week though I will try to be cheerful and enjoy the way things are right now.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart