This is possibly the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written because I’ve truly enjoyed the eleven months I’ve been writing here and, more so, the friends I’ve made along the way. But because I need to sever some ties now I won’t be posting any more.
While certain people still have access to my life through these ramblings, I’ll never truly feel disengaged from them. Despite promises to the contrary, they’re still here, injecting their toxicity into my life and unless I cut all contact, I’ll never be able to move on.
I’ll be changing my email address - those of you who’d like to stay in touch can still contact me on the old one (dioritt (@) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk) for the next few days or so but I’ll eventually stop checking that account. You can have the new one, though. If you have a Facebook account, please feel free to add me there too. You’ll find me under Sharon Jacobsen.
Thanks to you all for the wonderful comments you’ve left and the inspiration you’ve given me. It’s been a lot of fun, you’ve given me food for thought, and I’m gonna to miss this part of life. But I'll still be visiting your blogs, so I won't disappear entirely. You don't get rid of me that easily.
I may be blogging again some time in the future. I’m just not sure yet.
I was a bit pi**ed off yesterday because my house was a mess. “Bloody pig sty”, was my first thought. But then I thought again…. “hold on, Sharon, pigs don’t live in messy houses”.
Now I’m no authority on pigs - I’ve never kept them, never lived close to them, or had any other dealings with them other than that parts of them sometimes appear on my plate. But I do remember being on a weekend break in Wales a few years ago, and watching the pigs on the neighbouring farm go about their business. The male pig especially fascinated me.
He had a field to himself with one of those tin hut type things that pigs often live in. Nothing unusual there and had it not been for the fact that he was dashing back and forth between the road, his hut and a corner of their field, I probably wouldn’t have taken much notice of him. But I did. And he was tidying.
The end of his field ran parallel with a relatively busy road and it was clear that some of the passengers in the cars using the road had had no qualms about throwing their unwanted rubbish out of the window, much of which had landed in the pig’s field. Said pig clearly wasn’t impressed and was diligently sorting through it, taking useful stuff into his hut to improve the comfort of his bedding and the not so useful stuff to one corner where it was, if not gone, at least tidier.
Richard and I watched Mr Pig go about his business for ages, completely transfixed by his behaviour. He clearly knew what would add extra comfort or warmth to his bed and what wouldn’t and at one point even dragged the remains of a rather large cardboard box half way up the field and into his hut, moved his bedding, placed the cardboard where the bedding had been then piled the bedding back on top. How clever was that?
No, my house didn’t look like a pig sty. It looked like a human inhabitance full of the kind of mess that only we can make.
A friend died recently. Not a close friend by any means but none the less a person who I probably knew better than many of those who saw her regularly. We were in hospital together five years ago, both having suffered a blood clot that had led to our bowels decaying inside us. It’s a condition experience by very few (thankfully) and thus rather unusual that we were both admitted at more or less the same time. Over the course of several months as in-patients, with our beds next to each other, we were taught how to deal with the major changes that would be necessary to continue to lead anything close to a normal life. We were very different personalities but even so, we developed a bond that was different to what I’ve had with anybody else. We shared something that, unless you have to live with this, you simply can’t truly understand. We shared our innermost thoughts and feelings, sometimes things we just wouldn’t normally talk about. Nothing was taboo.
One of the problems with being an IV feeder is that our immune systems are seriously compromised. A simple bug that most people can shake off in a matter or days - weeks at the most - can kill us. If that bug gets into the feeding line it can then get a foothold in the heart (the line goes into the subclavian artery) and from that point on there isn’t too much hope of survival. This is what happened to my friend.
She had the bug that was going around before Christmas. The same bug as I came back from Malta with. She was given anti-biotics and all seemed to be well but after a four or five days she started to feel poorly again. Her husband took her to their local hospital where she deteriorated quickly. She was then sent to the specialist unit in Manchester (where we first met) where her feeding line was removed but unfortunately it was too late for her. The virus had gone to her heart and although she was put on a heart machine, it didn’t help as other organs then started to shut down. First her kidneys, then her lungs. She died during the night. It all happened very quickly.
Her death has really brought it home to me just how lucky I’ve been. I’ve had two infections in my feeding line but both times they’ve caught it quick enough and I’ve pulled through. My heart hasn’t been damaged.
I’m still struggling with the aftermath of ‘the bug’ myself. It's left me feeling very weak and it’s taking a long time for me to regain any decent amount of stamina. But I’m alive. And for that I’m grateful.
One thing I’ve learned from this - and this is something that her husband said to me - was that avoiding doing what you want to do and never pushing yourself further than you should is no guarantee that you’ll last any longer. It’s better to go being glad that you did the things you did than regretting the things that you didn’t.
The streets are quiet here during winter. The children are at school during the day and in the evening they’re all inside, most of them playing on their games consoles or watching TV. It’s such a reversal of what it’s like here during summer, when our street is alive with children riding their bikes and generally messing around, having fun.
But it’s dark, and parents don’t let their kids out in the dark. Or in the cold.
Ok, I can understand that to a degree - they’re worried about their children’s safety in public areas after dark, but the dark and cold themselves won’t hurt them, not as long as they’re dressed properly. But they don’t even play in their gardens. Everything’s quiet.
Children need fresh air and to use their bodies. They need to go outside to do that. They need to kick a ball about, skip, run and jump. They need to climb and they need to discover all the mysteries that lurk under stones and rocks, in the earth, on leaves and in trees. They need to learn about the natural cycle of life and they aren’t doing that through computer games.
All that’s needed is a decent back yard light and some good, warm clothing. Kids are generally pretty resilient and their fear of darkness isn’t something they’re born with, but something we adults teach them.
When I lived in Norway, the children were always out playing in the dark. It was either that or stay inside the whole time because darkness was something that was there when they left for school, was there when they came home and wasn’t going to go away for many months during winter. They wrapped up well, and played for hours.
Is it any wonder that children here in the UK are increasingly suffering from obesity, allergies and other health problems when they’re bodies aren’t getting the exercise needed?
One by one the earth’s creatures are disappearing thanks to man’s selfishness.
Apparently, wild seahorses were once found in every ocean from 20 - 100 feet below the surface but over the past 10 years their numbers have dropped by around 70 percent. Nowadays they’re so rare that they’re hardly ever seen.
Why? Because over 20 million of them have been harvested year in and year out for use in ‘natural medicine’, primarily as a natural form of Viagra.
Now I’m all for natural medicines as long as they do the job but not when innocent creatures are threatened with extinction and certainly not when it’s for nothing more than us humans being able to get our legs over more often!
When we will learn that we can’t just keep on taking from nature? Sooner or later the balance will be so off kilter that nothing, humans included, will be able to survive.
I’d like to hibernate from 1st November until 31st March. If I had a huge freezer full of food, the cupboards well stocked and the milk delivered, I’m sure I could do it. I’d have to save a to be able to afford all that shopping in October though! I'd also need lots of books, bundles of yarn (although my stash may well keep me going through a few winters), and a full craft drawer to keep me occupied.
Seriously, I hate the cold. Really and truly despise it. It makes my bones and muscles hurt so much that sometimes I feel like crying. If I could avoid ever leaving the house during winter then I would. Really. No joke!
Not sure how I’d put my rubbish out though. Or feed the birds.
I’ve decided to join the 101 Things in 1001 Days thing that so many seem to be doing.
The Mission: Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.
The Criteria: Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).
From: Thursday, 1st January, 2009 To: Thursday, 29th September, 2011
Yes, I actually started this on New Year’s Day but I forgot to post it. Doh! Never mind, I haven’t achieved anything yet anyway.
As I move through the list, items that are in progress will be shown in Red Italics If an item has a strikethrough it’ll mean that’s it’s been completed.
Hopefully there will be lots of strikethroughs by the time 29th September 2011 arrives.
Visit at least 3 countries outside the UK (0/3)
Visit Lise in Norway twice (not included in above) (0/2)
Spend at least three consecutive nights in a remote place by the coast somewhere in the UK
Go camping for at least one night
Visit Mum & Paul at least four times even though I hate London (unless she moves up here) (0/4)
Go to the cinema alone
Take Poppy to Joey The Swan (a local park) at least once a month from May - September
Visit the theatre at least three times (0/3)
Take part in a pub quiz night
See an opera performed live
Tidy all the 'rubbish' in the garden (broken pots, bags of gravel etc)
Write a letter to at least three friends who I rarely see (0/3)
Send thoughtful gifts to three friends “just because” (0/3)
Give a thoughtful gift to each my closest family members “just because” (1/4)
Write a letter to Paul every month while he’s away (0/?)
Befriend an old person (this means more than just say hello to them - the word FRIEND is key)
Get back to pre-smoking strength
Go to bed before midnight for a week
Dance my way through an entire song
Get new glasses
Get contact lenses
Put on 20 kilos (1/20)
Stay out of hospital
Take a walk around the neighbourhood 3 times a week for four consecutive weeks
Knit a Norwegian sweater
Knit or crochet a blanket for the living room
Knit or crochet a blanket for the bed
Knit a cardigan for Mum
Knit myself a jumper
Crochet an item of clothing
Knit 30 hats for the local preemie unit (0/30)
Only buy yarn for specific projects rather than stashing it
Use yarn from stash for at least half of my knitting projects
Read 100 ‘new to me’ books (1/100)
Buy a camera of my own (unless I receive one as a gift)
Make curtains for kitchen
Make chair cushion covers to match curtains
Make a tote bag
Hold a pot-luck buffet
Eat only made from scratch meals for two consecutive weeks (some can be from the freezer)
Try at least one local dish in any country I visit
Teach LM to cook well enough to be able to follow a recipe and make up her own
Compile a recipe book for both of my daughters
Cook at least one meal I’ve never made before, once a week for four consecutive weeks
Sort post as it arrives instead of letting it pile up for at least four consecutive weeks (hopefully this will create a habit)
Switch to only pictures and ornaments that have a special meaning to me in the living room (most already do so should be pretty easy)
Only decorate kitchen (when redesigned) with pictures and ornaments that mean something to me
Have shelves put in bin cupboard to use for recycling
Spend a whole day naked at home (remember to lock door and keep curtains closed!)
Stay in a caravan
Find an environmentally friendly hand/bath soap that I’m satisfied with
Improve storage in bedroom to get rid of clutter in the black hole next to the bed
Hang at least six more family photos on wall (0/6)
Find and hang curtains for what’s now Paul’s room but will eventually be the guest room (get rid of roller blind)
De-clutter entire house
Get rid of rockery in front garden
Have my kitchen completely redesigned and decorated
Have the downstairs loo and back porch decorated
Have a shower installed, bathroom decorated & new floor laid
Have electricity installed in garden
Switch bed for normal sized double bed (or maybe even a single!)
Grow at least two types of vegetables (0/2)
Have at least six pots of herbs growing simultaneously (and keep them alive for a whole season) (0/6)
Acquire a gate-leg table and four folding chairs for the kitchen
Finish painting two kitchen chairs (these will stand permanently next to above table) (0/2)
Save at least £500 in an emergency fund
Pay off credit card 1
Pay off credit card 2
Pay off loan
Pay off all small debts
Save 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 coins in my jar until it’s full
Spend at least one Internet free day a week for six consecutive weeks
Get at least half of the old photos digitalized
Put photos in albums
Get three quotes for landscaping the garden (0/3)
Plant a blueberry bush
Get at least 20 minutes of sunshine on my skin whenever the sun shines during the warmer months (this is for my vitamin D deficiency)
Find some kind of volunteer work that I can do (there must be something!!)
Sponsor a child
Start a “Special Needs” awareness group on Facebook (done: 04/01/09)
Write a thank you letter to an author whose book I’ve particularly enjoyed
Put all digital photos on discs
Paint a garden ashtray
Start using a calendar PROPERLY
Find a wooden chest that can double as storage and seat for porch - get rid of shoe rack and replace with a console table
Get a hair cut I’m happy with (haven’t found a hairdresser I’m happy with in my 7 years here so far)
Keep a charity shop box and deliver every time it's full
Buy/make all Christmas presents so that I have them ready to wrap by November 15th
Build up a wardrobe I’m happy with using only second-hand clothes (apart from underwear & possibly footwear)
Swim in the sea
Build a sand castle
Host a games night
Take a trip in a hot air balloon
Start a memory box
Buy and attach a bird feeder to the kitchen window
Watch at least one foreign film with sub-titles (Norwegian not included)
And one that I know what is but that I’m not willing to share with the world
I’m also going to award myself £5 for every item on the list that I achieve. Should I achieve them all (well, you never know) that’ll be £505 for me to spend on whatever I want!
I’m actually glad I’ve done this. It kind of gives a bit more structure to what I want to do. Mind you, life, abilities and priorities change so if anything changes I’ll amend the list to fit. It will be noted though.
Because of my inability to work on any kind of regular basis my income comprises solely of what the state choose to pay me. It’s not a lot but still a whole lot more than what some people in this world have and I’m grateful to the taxpayers whose earnings my income is dependant on.
There have been other times in my life where I’ve been dependent on benefits too. When Paul was little he was very difficult to handle (profound learning difficulties led to irregular and sometimes dangerous behaviour) and when several child-minders had given up and pretty much left me in the lurch, I realised that paid employment just wasn’t going to work out. I had to be at home with him and as a single mum that meant going on benefits.
I’ve never liked just taking and not giving anything back though so I did voluntary work instead. That way I could take Paul with me when I needed to and have time off when he was ill (which he often was back then). I enjoyed the work I did and felt I was doing something useful as a way of saying thanks for the support I was getting.
At the moment I feel kind of stuck though. I’ve looked into all sorts of voluntary work but they all want people who they can depend on to work regularly, something I can’t promise. When my stamina’s good I can work, but when it isn’t I can’t even get out of bed and downstairs let alone out of the house and actually do something. So that’s no good.
I’ve been doing the odd bit of charity knitting and am planning to do more but that doesn’t feel like enough somehow. And I give to charity shops of course, but who doesn’t?
Ideally I’d like something I could do from home like typing for example, but nobody seems to want that.
Do I really have to go on just taking without returning anything? Surely there’s more I can do?
Today I’ve been tidying my bedroom and chucking out stuff that’s just cluttering the place up. By chucking out I obviously don’t mean that I’ve put it all in the bin for the landfill, but generally banishing it from my life. Some of the stuff will be going to the charity shop, some of it will be going to the Salvation Army collection point at the recycling centre and some will be going on Freecycle. It took a while because I had to keep resting but it didn't half feel good to be getting on with it :)
My immediate problem now is my wardrobe. I don’t have a lot of clothes because I got rid of all my size 16 and 18s a while back when, as a size 10, I realised that there was no way I was ever going to use them again. I’m now a size 12 but my goal is a size 16 (20 kilos away I reckon so it’s gonna take some time) and while I do have some clothes that I’ve bought from charity shops and boot fairs, I’ve realised that I’ve just been buying any old thing just so’s I have something to wear and nothing really goes together. There’s no style over anything… what I wear these days says nothing about who I am. And let’s face it, our clothes are a kind of uniform that give signals to the rest of the world about who we are and where we stand. A woman in a power suit says something completely different to a woman in long flowing skirt, gypsy blouse and hair tied back with a velvet ribbon.
I couldn’t chuck out everything I don’t really feel is me because that’d just leave me with too little to wear but I am going to start switching things. Even though I’m going through temporary wardrobes at the moment I still need to feel at home in my clothes so I need to be more mindful when I visit charity shops and the likes. Hence, I’ve decided that I shall build up a wardrobe I’M HAPPY WITH using only second-hand clothes for each step towards my size 16 goal. Then, and only then, will I treat myself to something new.
Ok, so there will be new undies and probably some vest tops bought new along the way but nothing expensive or “this season”. I prefer clothes that will keep on going for years - in fact I still wear a jumper that a friend bought for me twenty odd years ago (remember the pink one with the dog on the front, Carol?).
I also love brooches so will be looking for more of those and I need to start wearing necklaces again. I’ve neglected my wardrobe for too long and when you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, you feel happier. Well I do, anyway.