Jet

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It is just over a month ago that we lost our family pet, Jet, and I have been meaning ever since to write him a tribute… but I needed time enough to do him justice… as he was a very “special” kind of pet 🙂

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Jet was a complex little dog who was many things at many times… he could be cute and adorable, he could be silly and really stupid, he could also be aggressive and there were times when you had to know to leave him alone; but in the end he was our dog – we loved him and he loved us back.

We got him in April 2000 when he was 9 weeks old… and the fun started there. He was a naughty puppy – he got kicked out of puppy training and it didn’t take us long to realise that he was very anti-social as he would always try to bite other dogs, even if they were just minding their own business. He often ran away and I remember him jumping the fence on many occasions… and also remember searching the neighbourhood, knocking on doors asking if anyone had seen him.

Even though Jet could be a pain sometimes, we soon realised that a lot of his aggressive behaviours stemmed from the fact he was actually terrified of unknown things; that he got nervous around other dogs and then tried to bite them. Realising this helped me to understand why he didn’t act the same way as most other dogs.

As he got older, Jet mellowed a lot. When he was young, he was the one taking us for walks, choking himself on the lead in desperation to walk at the front. As time went on, he slowed down and didn’t mind trailing behind at the back any more. He used to have a lot of energy and run round the house in crazy loops when a member of the family came home. In the last year or so of his life, he just about managed to wag his tail for you when you came in.

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There are so many stories about Jet’s craziness that made us laugh over the years… like the time he ran across an iced-over lake to chase a bird and then fell in…

there was the first Christmas with Jet, where dad put a bird decoration on the tree, and Jet tried to eat it…

…when Jet learnt to climb the stairs for the first time, but got stuck when he realised that he didn’t know how to get back down again…

But as well as all the crazy things, Jet was a friend when we needed him most. He used to keep my sister company when she was writing essays; he kept my other sister company when she spent a year living and working at home after graduation, and, as for me, daily walks with him got me through a difficult time in my life and I feel forever grateful for that.

Jet… we loved you and we will never forget you… thanks for all the fun times

 

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Home and Away

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Yes… I’ve borrowed the name of the Australian soap opera for this blog post, which fits nicely because I very much intended to write about my trip to Australia on my return, there are so many photos, a couple of videos, and so many experiences I could write about (and probably will, when the time is right). However, since my return I have very much enjoyed all the simple things I missed when I was away and all the things about being at home.

In the couple of weeks since I got back from an amazing trip away, I have actually enjoyed just doing normal things like sleeping in my own bed, and enjoying living in a new area of London, where I do feel a lot happier.

I have also enjoyed spending some lovely days with my family (there is a wedding to prepare for!) and some lovely catch-ups with friends. A few days ago, our family also said a sad good bye to our beloved dog Jet, who had a long, happy (and crazy!) life.

When I get a little more time to reflect, when I can give these things my full writing-attention so I feel I am doing them justice, I will write more about Australia and also I am planning to write a little tribute to Jet.

But for now, I just wanted to write this post to say that whilst I had an amazing time away, I am also happy to be home, and happy that I feel so at home in my new flatshare. I feel that I have returned with a refreshed, invigorated outlook.

Watch this space for the upcoming blog posts… possibly featuring a video of some whales 🙂

 

From London to Australia…

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Today is a big day. Later I will be catching my first ever long-distance flight and will be away for nearly a month. It’s going to be the biggest trip I’ve ever done. I’ve got a huge backpack and my passport. Everything seems ready.

I’m comforted and happy that I am looking forward to this trip and have been more organised with the planning of it than trips I did last year. One of the first blog posts I wrote on here (about 4 years ago now!) was called ‘Travel’ – simply about how I enjoy travelling; at the time I thought travel would always be something that made me feel excited, happy, adventurous.

However in the last year, I lost interest in travel and didn’t feel excited about trips anymore. I felt scared deep down, but on the surface it was like I felt nothing. I didn’t plan trips with anticipation like I had before. I can see now that maybe that is because I had lost interest in everything I had enjoyed. When I realised I’d lost interest in travelling, I felt I had lost a part of myself and I didn’t know if I would get it back again.

But after several months of positive changes (and lots of them, in all different parts of my life, including food, drink, house move, new hair cut, just generally taking more care of myself), it is like the Me That Travels is back!

And here I am, ready to go, I even prepared this map of my trip (it’s quite technical and I think you can zoom in to see things closer). I’ll keep in touch as best that I can, maybe not on here but perhaps on Facebook and Instagram! See you on the other side of the world 😉

Ynys Mon: Old and New Memories

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Last week, on May Bank holiday weekend, I went on a somewhat risky holiday to North Wales.

  • Risk 1: the weather – everybody knows that Britain does not have the best weather… and especially in North Wales it can be very wet and windy. I was just praying it would be dry!
  • Risk 2: nostalgia – should you ever go back to a place you once held happy memories? The risk is that the changes you find from past to present are upsetting, or stirring up old memories could be emotional in a way that you are not prepared for.

This was not a typical British holiday. My sister, parents and I were going to be staying on the Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon in Welsh – and sorry for those who know there should be a circumflex on the o but I can’t get my computer to do it!), which we left about 21 years ago, when my sister and I were 7.

Old memories

I have a lot of happy memories from my time there, and nearly all of them involve being in the outdoors, on the cliffs, at the seaside, in the woods and in all weathers, too. Splashing at the windy, cloudy beach, in wellies shaped like frogs; searching the woods for the Three Bears’ house (thanks Mum & Dad!); being pelted in the face by hailstones at school pick up time; a school trip on a life boat; walking past long reeds and grass, thinking of the adders that could be lurking there; picking honeysuckle from the roadside as a gift to a teacher (a little bit of a teacher’s pet, clearly!)

I left a piece of my childhood heart in Wales and I really wanted to go back, most specifically to the South Stack, where there is a lighthouse and where we used to go and look for puffins with Dad. This is a place I always remembered fondly.

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South Stack

New memories

Going back 21 years later, it was time to look back but also to create new memories in the present, being older and wiser and more able to appreciate the stunning scenery around us. We won the gamble we had taken on the British weather as it was sunny and warm throughout our stay, with hardly any wind on our trip to South Stack and Holyhead mountain. It felt like a miracle to see the sea with no white breakers and to be walking around Anglesey in short sleeves… and having to put sunscreen on my fair British skin. I was no longer the child hiding her face in her coat to stop the painful white ice-stones pummelling into me. (As you might have guessed from that old memory, that was the day I learnt what “hailstones” were).

Another new memory I will take with me about Wales is a sense that it holds some kind of spiritual, magical feeling. There were times when we were walking through woods with the sunlight slightly breaking through the leaves, the flowers and undergrowth dappled with light, a peace around us, everything so still but also as if it was somehow waiting to come alive. I’m not sure I am really describing this feeling very well, but when you think about Welsh myth and legend, with the red dragon emblem, it does feel appropriate that this sense of magic seems to live and breathe in the Welsh landscape and countryside.

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a sense of spirit and magic

 

Scenery

I have mainly written this post so that I can let the photographs I took really speak for themselves about the beautiful landscape and scenery of our trip. The sunny weather was the perfect backdrop to show it off, but also, if it had been gloomy, it might have brought out a different “moody” feel to the landscape. Whatever risk there is with the weather, this nostalgic trip has awakened a deep love in me for this part of Wales, this “home” I left, and still carry with me in my heart.

South Stack and Holyhead Mountain

 

Woodland Walks

 

Coast and Beach

 

Snowdon National Park – Llyn Idwal

A Letter to Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

My toxic friend, my emotionally abusive lover, we’ve had an on-off relationship for years (mostly on… but you know there were times when you weren’t there).

You know what you do to me and how you make me feel.

The intense times, the passionate times, that is when you are most destructive. You make my head spin, my heart is in pain, my breath is short, I shake, I feel as if something terrible is going to happen, I cry, I snap. You are all-consuming.

Other times you aren’t so intense, but your damage is always there. Making me feel sick to my stomach, making me feel restless and edgy, making me upset at the slightest thing.

Sometimes we even have a threesome with depression. It’s like you two hang out together. Feeding off and into each other. Into me.

But, Anxiety, I’ve lost touch with you recently. To be honest, it’s like you just walked out on me. Where are you? Where have you gone and how long for?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to rush back. The last few weeks have felt so good without you.

But then… maybe I’ll start to miss you and the things you do for me. Because you are someone I go to as a knee-jerk reaction, a default setting, and in a very backwards way you are protective and safe.

But right now, I’m telling you, Anxiety, feel free to stay away as long as you like. Seriously. I love it now you’re not here.

When you come knocking at my door again, there’s no guarantee I’ll let you back in, but if I do, it won’t be for long. I might even be strong enough to kick you out.

Love,

Jo

 

Starting to communicate is hard; Continuing to communicate is harder

Hello friends 🙂

I was very touched by the response I got to the last post where I opened up about having depression (it still feels scary to write); several people personally messaged me offering support and reassurance, and every message, comment or ‘like’ was greatly appreciated.

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The thing is, since that post, I haven’t written any more about it because it is very hard to voice the experiences and feelings that happen deep within. If initially opening up was hard, continuing the line of communication seems to be even harder.

But today I’m going to try, and I am not only suffering from depression, but anxiety too. That seems to be worse at the moment. As I type, my eyelids are heavy from lack of sleep -OK, yes I was out until late, but I have also had several nights which alternate between periods of wakefulness, experiencing nausea, or periods of restless sleep with eventful, dramatic and emotional dreams.

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A recurring dream I have actually seems to suggest that there is something stopping me from communicating or expressing myself. It’s not a pleasant dream and I’ve had it twice this week already. In these dreams, my mouth is full of a material which shouldn’t be eaten, to the point that I am in danger of choking on it. The material tends to change but it has been: gravel, sand, flakes of plastic, plastic microballs (the kind you find in skin exfoliators), and a weird, thick, gelatinous liquid. I try with difficulty to spit out the substance, but if I manage to get it out, my mouth immediately refills again. In a similar dream, there was a ribbon in my mouth which I tried to pull out, but every time I pulled, it tightened round my throat.

I’ve thought about what these dreams might be trying to tell me, and my conclusion is that there is a kind of blockage between what I feel and what I express.

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So today I thought I would express some of the anxiety I have been feeling, starting from Friday night. I’d been out with friends and had a lovely evening, but on returning home I had some sad news; my nan, Norma, has been ill for some time but just before Easter she fell and broke her hip and was hospitalised. However, during her stay in hospital her other illness worsened and there is nothing more doctors can do. Essentially there is nothing anyone can do, except wait, and keep her comfortable until the time comes.

I woke up on Saturday feeling weird and distracted, but also I had booked to attend a yoga class (which I have written about before!) I thought it might be helpful to centre and focus me and generally make me feel better. I walked to the class in the morning sunshine, no coat on for the first time this year, distracted but also feeling hopeful.

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Walking in the Spring sunshine 🙂

But when I got to the class, there were a lot of people waiting to go in, a lot more than I’ve seen there before. It was also a different instructor and I suddenly wasn’t sure about it. I sat down on the chairs outside the studio and experienced a sensation of dizziness, just for a second. This then triggered other thoughts, which I know now weren’t true; it was anxiety talking. I can’t cope with the class. I don’t want to faint. I should have eaten more before I came out. 

However, knowing this was anxiety I tried to push through it. It will be good for you. You’re here now, just go in. I went inside, but seeing all the mats (no floor space at all), outlines of all the people (not fully seeing them), I immediately turned round, out the door, and went to sit down again. I was debating what to do, and thought I would sit and wait until I felt better enough to walk home, or until I had gathered enough courage to walk into the class before it started (although I was running out of time for that).

With all this in my mind, the instructor then popped her head around the door.

“Are you on the waiting list?”

“No, I have a space, I’m just not sure if I’m going to come in.”

“Why not? Come on, I’ll see if you’re on the list, what’s your name?”

I followed, alongside her, sort of being swept along into the class.

Several other questions followed, in between them, I was answering “yes… no… mmm.” not really being given time to finish; not really being able to articulate a sentence anyway.

“Are you new to yoga? Did you get used to the other instructor? Have you done this class before?”

At one of the questions, my eyes suddenly started tingling and tearing up. Oh god, now I’m going to cry as well! 

The instructor must have seen. “Let me get you a mat, and we’ll put it next to the door, in case you want to leave… and the thing about yoga is, if you find you can’t do a move, just have a lie down!”

I was grateful for her kindness. And I did the class. I did cope with it. It did help me.

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At the end of the class, I thanked the instructor.

“Yes, there were a lot of people here weren’t there! I even felt like turning around and walking out when I first arrived!”

I didn’t believe her, but there was understanding there, and she was trying to lighten up the situation.

Even though I’m not always able to share experiences like the one above, and other (more) difficult situations, I know (as my dreams are suggesting) that I do need to find healthy ways of expressing my feelings.

I had a thought, as I typed this blog post: what is harder than having anxiety and depression?

Answer… trying to hide (even from yourself) that you have anxiety and depression.

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I really hope that I can continue what I have started here; that I can write here to express my feelings; and that I can get over the fear of expressing my feelings in general.

Thank you to all the people who have supported me with opening up; every kind word and acceptance helps me reduce the fear a little bit more.

xxx

 

 

 

 

This Blog is about ALL of me!

I’m writing again for the first time in weeks and it feels weird, a little scary, but I am enjoying the tap of my fingers on the keyboard because I have really missed it.

I have not felt able to write; there are things I could have shared but chose not to because I was too afraid.

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But maybe… maybe today will be the day where I feel I can. Because it will explain why sometimes I blog again and again… and other times there is a great empty chasm of weeks or months where I don’t, won’t or can’t write (I don’t actually know which verb to use here).

The thing is that back in October I made a huge change in my life which in the short term has been really difficult, but hopefully in the long term will have a lasting positive effect, allowing me to move forward and experience more joy out of life 🙂

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Back in October I began to accept that I suffer with depression and I started taking medication to help me with that.

(That just felt SO SCARY to write!)

The reason why I am finally sharing it on here is that this blog is so important to me; it’s as if writing is a part of me. By not allowing myself to write about the bad times as well as the good, it’s as if I’m pretending they don’t exist, as if I’m denying them. In doing so I am also not giving myself an outlet that may actually be helpful to myself (and potentially others too).

The blog is called Life Is Beautiful. And I believe that. But it doesn’t always seem beautiful. Sometimes it seems so hard, so exhausting, so painful.

Other times it is so joyful, so exciting, so uplifting.

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There are good times and bad times in our lives. And I need to stop avoiding writing about the harder times. They happen. But we get through them.

I’m trying not to be afraid of them.

I’m feeling better, stronger, and after this blog post I feel as if I can write about ALL of me, and not just the parts I think are nice for others to read, but write about the parts I am afraid to share. Because if you are afraid of something… perhaps what you really need to do is… take a deep breath… and do it!

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