This is Shadow. Shadow is my BFF. Shadow loves life. Be more like Shadow.
Shadow (slight name change to prevent friend request overload), has been my hairy best friend since I bumped into him on my regular patch for free running. The bumping into each other was literal as we jumped mid-air to retrieve a ball that belonged to neither of us. The fifth-hand saliva that lay coating the recently found ball was just too irresistible for us both to leave and thus cementing our friendship. As our own tennis balls lay unloved at our owner’s (sorry staff member’s) feet, I knew that Shadow belonged to my mischief making tribe.
I cannot remember him in my litter when I was born but I am sure he is one of my lot. I hear the two legged less hairy people say we look totally different, but I cannot see how. Those humans are just so judgemental. We have the same number of legs, two eyes, two floppy ears, one nose and a mouth so how they can say we are different I do not know. Admittedly I may be a mm or two bigger than Shadow but other than that we are almost identical.
We both love to chase balls, retrieve abandoned balls, chew sticks, chase each other, play fight in the most non play fighting ways, run alongside each other with no agenda, sniff anything we can find and pee on everything to stamp our existence on anything and everything. Ok there are some differences between us such as the fact the Shadow always listens to his two legged less hairy human, is fussy with food and has yet to get his human grandmother caught on his back as he goes between her legs to give a doggy cuddle, but apart from these, we kind of are the same. Oh yes and he is not a harness wearing guide dog but apart from that we could be twins.
Our happy , tongue floppy smiles match the joy in our hearts when we get to play with each other. Our Lady and the Tramp daily re-enactment scene with a stick instead of a piece of spaghetti, shows the love of the same things as we munch away until we meet in the middle. Shadow and I dance the dance of play in our own unique way and I never want this to change. We live carefree in the moment which is always enough and more. We chose to love life and create our own bubble of happiness that nobody can ever burst.
I hope you have your own version of Shadow in your life to chase balls and chew sticks with to make you happy. If not, I hope you find one soon to help find your floppy tongued smiling twin.
Each year our canine cuties bring award winning achievements into our lives, which deserve honouring. From Gwyn the German Shepard rescuing it’s human family from burning buildings, to Bertha the Bichon Frise strutting her stuff on the Dog walk to win hair style of the year, each dog should be celebrated. There are of course exceptions to every rule. For there to be a top of the list hierarchy, there also needs to be well….bottom of the list too. Interestingly, there are some dogs that slide between top dog and mischief maker is milliseconds. The category that these furry fireballs belong too is “The Angelic Rogues”. For the sixth year running, Minster Cooper (a.k.a. Munch) has stolen the prize for his consistant and outstanding achievements in this area yet again.
Born to beautifully behaved nurturing mother Hettie (a black labrodor) and perfectly presented boffin dad Pringle (a handsome cream poodle), Munch first placed his paw prints on this world on 18th December 2014. Arguable, the naughtiest in the litter, Munch left a mark on people’s hearts (and patience levels) since day one. Never one to shy away from the limelight, Munch has always succeeded in being central to any drama that unfolds in his vicinity without fail. His expertise in deflection has always allowed him to use his innocent looks to throw any onlookers off the truth trail whilst they look elsewhere for the source of mischief.
Playing Tug of War with a fellow canine whilst using a net curtain instead of a rope, was an early sign of his creativity during his first few months of life. After getting off a flower bed after a row only to seconds later get on another flower bed (repeated multiple times) shows that Munch has wonderful decision making skills that are malleable to any situation. From these examples of creativity and decision making skills it is clear to see why Munch was destined to be …..a Guide Dog. I mean, with such a personality what could possibly go wrong?
Taking Guide Dog training all in his huge stride, Munch passed with flying colours. Obedience training must have been…interesting. With the determined poodle streak shining out for multiple galaxies to see, Munch learnt how to use his ‘On-duty angel, off-duty rascal’ sides of his personality to the max. A straight A student on harness in work mode, he learnt how to build up enough good boy points to transfer them to his time off tantrums so that he would not get in trouble. Acquired knowledge has been key in the career path of this Angelic Rogue.
After being placed with his ‘owner’ four years ago (ha ha, as if anyone could ever own him), he turned the tables pretty quick by demonstrating his world class Leadership skills. After the very first meeting, he manageaged to single pawedly turn her into his maid. Always out front in or out of harness, Munch has led her along many paths whether she wanted to go there or not. He even got her to write a book about him and how talented he was. As What You See When You Can’t See flew off the shelves in 2019, he was perplexed to why it had taken this long for anyone to say how amazing he was. He knew that not only was he the best Labradoodle in the world but arguable the best dog in the universe. It was just a shame that the maid kept bringing up some mishaps that had occurred along the way.
Admittedly, there was that incident that got his human grandmother stuck on his back after a funeral, as he attempted to take his 32 Inch high body under her 25 Inch legs, but that was just a case of a mathematical miscalculation. The wanted posters for the worlds’ biggest ball thief that just happens to resemble him is not him he assures everyone, just a wannabe. A swift investigation of an alleged pasty thieving incident from the hands of a 3 year old was quickly quashed as Munch argued she was holding it out for him to eat. Panini Gate, where Munch upped his stakes from pasty to panini from the outstretched hand of a pupil, was happily settled out of court with the gift of a replacement panini and box of chocolates. Up until now, Munch has kept his good reputation. Things did change however earlier this week.
Trotting along on his free run, he came across one of his favourite things. A stick. Unfortunately, said stick was being held in the hands of a young boy which meant only one thing to Munch. Playtime. As Munch gently attached himself to the other end of the stick and happily pranced alongside the chatty boy, a friendship was made. Unfortunately, the friendship was short lived when the boy threw the stick for Munch to fetch and Munch brought back half the stick a few minutes later. The little boys dream of fighting dragons with his once powerful stick was now shattered as he had to set his sights on fighting ants instead. Apologies were made and another stick found but it wasn’t quite the same as the dragon fighting weapon he once knew.
Stern words have been had with Munch about taking sticks off children which is just as bad as stealing sweets from them. His eye rolls and sights say it all really, the Angelic Rogue doesn’t see the fuss. He believes munching on sticks is his God given right as a dog. It has been a hard decision but it is only fair that he will be placed in the Doggy Hall of Shame until he feels remorse for his actions. The only thing is, he sees it as another badge of honour as he sits under the Mischief Maker of the Month category. He has his eyes set on the Mayor of Mayhem award which we will keep you updated on. There is always one and it’s always him!
I have often wondered how they learn to do it. Turn taking to them seems so natural, with no need to second guess their place in the sequence that runs so smoothly. Is it an innate gift that they are born with or do they have to learn by observing through body language? The invite of a smile or the slight nod of the head must give them the nudge to become the one who now captures the gaze of others. Could it be a metaphorical pass of the baton between the speaker and recipients’ hand that keeps the spoken marathon alive? It may even be the fraught expression in the eyes of the speaker that alerts the rescuer that they need to take over speaking to help save the awkwardness drowning in silence. Nobody ever tells you how to do it in conversations, turn take that is. They seem to be experts in a field that feels magical to me.
Listening intently for the emotion in the intake of breath, my ears try to decipher if it is inviting me to join in and respond, or are they just taking a breath in silence. Does the break in the conversation mean they are adjusting their body to deliver the punchline that expands on the unsaid? In the fraction of a second that dual loaded noise leaves their lips, my brain leaps into action to decrypt if the noise will lead to laughter or cries. Are they looking towards me for my views about the subject or are they looking into the distance to have time alone with their thoughts? Their eyes must be the lighthouses towards the cues in others, that scans for safety as well as the perils in the dance of the spoken world.
This confusion is always colossal in face-to-face situations, but even more so online where the mute button silences the rare cues that can help. The unhomely Zoom room that help many feel closer, distances many of us that are left guessing on what is connecting the avid participants. Maybe they are seeing something that aligns their minds but remains invisible to ours. The genius invention of connecting multiple people together at the same place and time regardless of where they are in the world can create unity and solitude in the same moment. The ‘us and them’ may always exist in every part of society regardless of how we try and change this. Diversity should be more about recognition than segregation as we learn to understand from a different perspective.
Being blind does not mean that my sight needs to be fixed, but it does mean that my world view can be changed from learning from the sighted. I will never pretend that I know what facial expressions mean in the context of a conversation as that is something I have never seen but I do know that a sighted person may explain to me something that I have missed. If I jump into a conversation halfway through a pause of someone speaking, I am crossing my fingers that they will understand that I did not know and was not doing it to be rude. When people use visual language in front of me and feel bad when they realize I cannot see, I take that as a complement not an insult as I feel included.
The basics of conversation may not seem like a barrier between the sighted and sight loss community, but it can be greater than you think. The life gains I feel sight loss brings does not extend to every part of life. Hiccups happen and misunderstandings are inevitable when we bring alternative knowledge into a world that we all share. Life would be boring if we all lived alike and never had another viewpoint. Being the blind one in a conversation with a sighted person, enlightens me to see the unseen which holds such beauty.
Mothers create more than just a physical child. When a mother gives birth, she gifts the world with another piece of love that will fill the hearts of others as much as her own. She will nurture a fully functioning being that will in turn nurture other living beings. She births the professional that may go on to save your life and the lives of many others. Clearing the path for her child to freely explore the world to become the person that they really want to be, shows that a mother is happy to be led by their teacher.
The beauty of a mother is that on the surface no two will ever appear the same. The helicopter mother who wants to protect their child is no more of a mother than the permissive mother who allows their child to learn from their mistakes. The perfectionist mother is no happier than the go with the flow mother who gets it done in the end. High achieving mothers may have different goals that the mediating mother has, but both achieve in their own way. There is no perfect way to mother, there is just your way.
Whether babies are human or of the furry kind, adopted or metaphorical, they will always remain a baby in the eyes of a mother. That empty nest syndrome that drains the hearts of mothers worldwide is the universal mother language of a living loss that takes time to adjust to. Where once she wished for peace and quiet, she now craves the chaos that once was in the home they built together. As the curl from the first haircut lays safe in the draw, their grandchild sits in the hairdressing seat awaiting the same to happen to their own curls.
The one thing, that we all have in common is that we would not be here had it not been for our mothers. However, you celebrate this Mother’s Day may it be full of love, appreciation and forever memories. Happy Mother’s Day to all the miracle makers that have created us as there would be no world without them.
What does my Five-year old granddaughter love about herself?
“I love my hands as they help give things to people. They can also do sign language to people who cannot hear.
I love my eyes as they can help see things for people who cannot see, just like you Mam.
I love my ears as they can listen out to help people who are deaf.
I love my mouth as I can talk to people who need to chat”.
I have always known that she was a beautiful soul, but I never realized just how bright her light within was constantly alight until I asked her this simple question. This glimpse into the mind of an innocent five-year-old who has yet to query her worth in life, took me to a place that I wish we could all live. These ideas have not been forced into her mind in any way, they have just emerged from her authentic perception of what it is really like to live in a world with others with needs that are sometimes greater than her own.
She was just nine months old when Munch my adorable Guide Dog came to live with us so she cannot remember a time where Munch was not a permanent fixture by my left-hand side on days out. She has always been my eyes. When I drop something, she picks it up without being asked. She holds things close to my face so that I can get a better view of the blurry object and she mastered using my white cane as soon as she could walk, just because she felt like it. To her sight loss is no big thing, it just is part of her grandmother’s life.
Munch to her is not a Guide Dog, he is just family. I was told once by her teacher when I picked her up from school, that they had asked that morning what the name of my dog was. She looked puzzled at them and asked what dog ? With Munch weighing six stone and his head measuring thirty-three inches from the floor clad in a bright yellow and white harness, she thought they were talking about some other dog. She told them he was not a dog; he was just Munch.
When children grow up with disabilities and other differences around them, they can only see normality. They accept the whole of a person as they are and know no different. Children who grow up alongside difference see an expanded version of the limited world other’s live in. They learn that for every problem there are a multitude of different solutions and they learn to love unconditionally and never with condition. They are the teachers that speak with the wisdom that we never thought we would here.
When a five-year old talks of including those in society that are often left feeling excluded, they will never be alone. It is this type of child who accepts without effort or limit and sees beyond barriers that need never exist. Kindness can only come from a place that it organically exists if it is to be omnipresent in every situation in life. When we are choosing to be kind in life, we are choosing to live an enriched path that will never see us alone.
What do I love most about my granddaughter? Her pure existence and everything that it entails.
It’s that time of year again, when our hidden condition gets talked about. February is Marfan Syndrome awareness month which means that people are eager to talk about a syndrome that not even all health professions are clued up about, although this is improving slowly. Each person with Marfan Syndrome is affected differently, ranging from mild to severe and every form inbetween. Diagnosing such a complex syndrome is not the easiest for health professions but since I was diagnosed at 4 , this is just my version of what living with it is like.
Life is never boring with Marfan Syndrome around. I mean, expecting the unexpected in regards to health kind of keeps you on your toes and prevents you from taking life for granted. Being a connective tissue disorder means that most parts of your body are prone to playing up, although it is an unlucky lottery to which ones actually do. In general, Marfan Syndrome can affect the heart, eyes, lungs, skeleton and blood vessels but can affect any of the body’s connective tissue. From affected gums and overcrowded teeth to gastrointestinal issues and persistent fatigue, there is no size fits all diagnosis that applies to all. Personally speaking, Marfan Sydrome only affects my sight (registered blind with only partial sight from birth,) weakness in the lungs and skeletal system the most (scoliosis, multiple dislocations, joint pain, breaks and ligament and soft tissue damage). It could be far worse.
Growing up, I looked the odd one out, being the tallest in the class and being really slim with extra thick glasses. Today, you would find it hard to tell I have Marfan Sydrome being only 5’7″ (pretty short for a Marfan’s person), having a body that is built more for comfort than speed (my thin days are looooong gone) and I no longer wear glasses but my white cane and Munch my attention seeking Guide Dog may give others a hint about my sight. In my family where we have several members with Marfan Syndrome, the odd ones out are the ones without Marfan’s.
For me and many with Marfan’s, pain is a normality and I only acknowledge the pain when I am pain free. Joints often hurt, scoliosis sucks and random injuries like to make an appearance but that is just life. I opt for yoga over pain killers to help relieve pain and laughter over sadness of living with something that can be more than slightly annoying. I often forget I can’t see until I bump into something (a talent of mine) and always remember to thank my body for doing such an amazing job of keeping me alive. Yes living with Marfan’s can be tough but it can also be quite beautiful.
If I had lived elsewhere in the world, I may not have been able to have my 5 operations that I have had due to complications from Marfan Syndrome. If I had not understood the importance of health checks from such a young age, I would never have appreciated the beauty of life. If I had been born with perfect vision, I would never have experienced the perfection in life that runs deeper than surface value and would never have been matched with Munch. If I had grown up thinking that I needed to look like everyone else then I would never have developed an unconditional love for all. If I could go back and chose to be born without Marfan Sydrome, would I? Definately not.
Marfan Syndrome is a life long condition with life long lessons. Knowing the symptoms can help to save a life. Unfortunately, many do not find out that they have it until it is too late. Fatal aortic dissections may be the first and last indicator that someone has Marfan Syndrome. Those of us who are diagnosed with it are blessed to have the medical care to help monitor our health and have medical interventions to help us live out life to the fullest and for that I am eternally grateful.
I think this snowperson is stuck, just like the other ones were. Where are it’s legs? Not even a nudge from my six stone Svelte hairy body is moving this solid cloud, let alone the little organic stream of piddle that I shared on it’s derriere could encourage this one to move or play with me. What is wrong with this picture?
This is not the first one I have seen on my walk today but the third and is possibly the most stubborn. At least the first one that I jumped on moved some of it’s body as a part of the belly scattered all around me. My grumpy spoil sport Dog Walker told me to stop as someone had put hard work into making this snowperson. He actually expected me to listen, pffft. The second snowperson’s head was more than willing to come with me for a play as it bounced onto the floor after I jumped on it, but the body dug it’s heels in (or lack of) to the ground and remained put. I thought it would be third time lucky with this one but apparently not. What am I doing wrong?
Funnily enough, these snowpeople hardly come out to play in the Welsh town we live in. Over the last 4 years of me being here, this is only the second time they have come to visit. Strangely enough, they only come out when the snow comes. It must just be a Welsh thing, they are funny like that! My maid was telling me that in different parts of the world they have lots of snow often. Why did my Maid have to live in an area with a snow drought? If we could use the abundance of rain we get to create an equivalent, I would be one happy dog but sadly that’s not going to happen.
I can see lots of snow on the mountains a few miles away and despite trying my hardest to lead the maid in that direction whilst I am on harness in Guide Dog mode, she is not cooperating. I know she can’t see the snow and we are not aloud to do any unnecessary travel to places due to the Covid restrictions but surely this is essential to my play time but apparently not.
If you have any spare snow in your area, would you post some to me please? Even if it will take a couple of weeks to get here, I am a patient dog and am willing to wait. I promise to build a little village of snow people where I play with them, give up my carrots for their noses, promise not to chew their stick like arms or bury their hats. Well maybe not 100% promise but I will try my best….sometimes. I will never leave them alone and will smother them with kisses and only wrestle with them if they start it first. Thanks in advance. I will eagerly await your parcels of snow to drop through my letterbox. Love and cold snowy kisses, Munch
What has it been like counselling young people during a Pandemic? Pretty s**t to be honest.
The young people themselves have been inspirational to say the least but hearing the impact this pandemic has had on their lives has been soul destroying. If you think we have it hard as adults, you can almost guarantee that there are some aspect of life adaptations that have been twice as hard for young people. Securely formed relationships, experiences of critical thinking , resilience building skills and a lifetime of coping strategies in our toolboxes of life gives us the ability to think outside the box of the global pandemic that we find ourselves in yet, we are still struggling. These character-building qualities that we have gone through as adults are areas that have yet to be gifted upon the young which makes their life that much more difficult.
Adding to that, many have laid blame at the feet of young people through the narrative in the media that they are ‘super spreaders and a breeding ground for the virus’, has not helped protect the mental health of young people at all. From listening to young people speak for the last ten months about how they have felt about being seen like this by many, they are whole heartedly doing everything that can to avoid being the super spreaders that they are called. They want to avoid contact with their vulnerable relatives and do whatever they can to keep their loved ones safe, but this is one thing we rarely hear of in the media where the blame game is very much alive.
Babies born during or just before Lockdown are growing up in a world that is strange to say the least and has the potential to have a negative impact on their development in many ways. Being born into a family with highly anxious parents is less than ideal but is a reality for many babies. Parents losing jobs, financial insecurity, concerns of health risks and deteriorating mental health will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on children’s development through no fault of anyone involved. Early year settings have seen an increase in delayed early development milestone such as toilet training and feeding skills such as use of cutlery, due to many childcare facility provisions being restricted and families being overwhelmed with life demands leaving them less time to dedicate to these nurturing skills. Again, nobody is to blame, it is a biproduct of where we all are collectively.
Families that are living in fear and doing their best to protect their loved ones from getting ill or passing anything on, are in turn isolating themselves from the support networks that were once part of their children’s everyday life. As the child’s world gets smaller and smaller with schools closing and family gatherings a distant memory, the only place that they can begin to heal is at home unless of course home is not a safe space. With domestic abuse incidents ever increasing and welfare checks from closed schools being ever more difficult, children need support now more than ever.
Being in lockdown has not only held negativity but it has also brought about its bonuses. From learning new skills to working from home in our pyjamas, if we look hard enough, we can find as many positives as negatives. Working with young people is no different and school related issues have become less of an issue for some as young people are forced to work from home. For children suffering issues such as bullying, and social anxiety for example have reported an increase in happiness due to school closures. Children with disabilities who find school unbearable at the best of times, are happier in their own secure surroundings where they are understood and accepted for who they are.
How can we help to enhance the lives of the children and young people in our lives? It may be easier than you think? Spending hundreds of hours listening to what young people really want during a pandemic has taught me a lot about the value of simplicity and acceptance. Treating a young person with equality should not be just an ideal that is hard to put into everyday practice as we navigate our way through parenting a teen, but is a basic human right for them just as it is for us. Intergenerational voices work best when in harmony so what can we do to help? Here are a few tips that can help both you and the young person in your life live a happier life.
1.Allow them the right amount of space
Too much nor too little will work, but somewhere in between is ideal. When a young person who retreats into the safety of their less than hygienic bedroom, they are doing so because they need too. It is nothing personal, but they need space . Laying in their beds for most of the day is just part of the evolving teenage brain so why try and change the inevitable. Us lounging on the sofa after either a hard day at work or a boring day of doing nothing tires us out as it does to them too.
It is also as important to connect to prevent feelings of isolations creeping in so scheduling in suitable time for family activities that you all agree on is important. Rediscover the fun you used to have when the children were younger and get the Play Dough out. Choose something that reminds you all of happier times and decide as a family what the right amount of space works for everyone.
2. Relax the routines.
The brain loves a bit of pattern and predictability but being a slave to tightly scheduled days can be as detrimental as having no routine at all. Routines work best when no changes ever happen in life but if there is one thing that we have all learnt during the pandemic is that change in life is inevitable. Children brought up with an extremely strict daily routine can have their worlds turned upside down when they are forced into a situation they have never been in before. Anxieties, uncertainty, lower adaptive skills, and impaired decision-making skills can all result when things are the opposite of having nothing but structure in a day.
We know that the world of play needs unstructured play along with structured play to allow the imagination to grow and life is no different than that. Questioning whether the family routine suits you alone, as opposed to the needs of the whole family can help. Exposing children and young people to change and decision making is helping them build cooperative skills for the relationship now and in the future.
3. Sleeping patterns are individual.
A new-born baby can sleep an average of 17 hours a day, a 5-year-old up to 10 hours a day and 8-year-old 7 hours a day. When it comes to teenagers just scrap all that. As the teenage brain parties on until 4am and sleeps in until noon at the earliest, we need to make exceptions. They are not purposely annoying you when you can hear them up and about in their bedroom , they are just doing what the brain is meant to do. Asking a 14-year-old to be sleeping by 9pm is like asking you to stay awake until 4am. Unrealistic and never going to happen.
Sleep for most people has changed during the pandemic and many of us have been invited back into the world of the teenage brain as thoughts and worries keep us awake at night. Try and help them develop a good sleep hygiene plan that helps them sleep for a length of time that suits them, not necessarily you. If it does not work, be patient as this stage in their life will not last forever. Giving them a hard time about not being able to sleep will not help but understanding will. If they need a mid afternoon nap so be it.
4. Listen to what they are not saying
If you see a change in your young person, ask them about it and really listen to what they have to say, if they do not want to talk to you, make sure they are talking to someone. Do not be offended if you are not the one that they want to confide in, see it as a compliment. It is so hard to talk openly about emotional issues with those closest to us as we do not want to hurt them. Whether it is a family bereavement or an issue with identity, they sometimes need to speak to someone who is that one step removed from them to be able to open freely without feeling judged or hurting a loved one.
If you notice a change in behaviour such as severe withdraw or being stuck in one emotion (anger, sadness etc) start the conversation. Offer them unconditional love and support and if that fails, research with them to identify a place that they can talk whether it be with another family member or with a counsellor or online charity. Reassuring them that you are there when they need to talk is all that is needed sometimes to help them feel safe to open up
5. Show gratitude more than regret.
You are the best teacher that they will ever meet so use it wisely. If you are always complaining about everything that is wrong in life, they will see a life full of disappointment. If talk about a life full of fear, then you are teaching your child that the world is an unsafe place. You cannot expect your child to find the happiness in life if you have never showed them where to look. When your child catches you smiling at your playful kitten, they will learn to love cats. When you show them that they are loved no matter what, they will learn to love the flaws in others. as much as their strengths.
Explore together situations in life that bring both good and bad reactions. Be grateful that they got the motivation to sign into half their online lessons and not focus on the missed ones. Be thankful that you have had more time together as a family at home and not on an expensive holiday. Thank them for helping in what they do and not highlight everything they do not do around the house. They are doing their best so acknowledge this.
Life will not be like this forever, but it is like this for now so let us learn to embrace more and judge less. The mask you are wearing that shows the world that you are holding everything together , could be the same mask that your child is wearing too so unsubscribe to the masquerade in life and choose a different way to connect with your mini me in life.
That’s what we do each year. Walk into the New Year not knowing what will happen.
Will we change a little of ourselves in an intentional way, or will change occur naturally as we evolve in our own unique lifetime ? Will we create into reality what was once a dream, or will we stick to the safety of the known and do what we have always done? Will this year finally be the year that we stick to the ‘New Year, New Me’ motto that universally fizzles out by the start of Sping, or will we just learn to present our true selves to the world that will love us in any way we are?
Does this year promise to hold more magic than any other year has for us, or will we believe that magic only exists in fairytales? Does our success this year depend on our Midas touch from our build up good Karma, or will the Tainted Touch of others halt us in our tracks? Does the thought of plans make you feel secure, or do you like that life is fluid and changes happen?
In 2020, we walked in blindly believing that our way of life was controlled by us. We believed that our family life was unchangeable, our jobs were ours, the education system was working and our futures would never have to be put on hold. That year would be like any other with only a few minor tweaks. Not many could have predicted the extent of how 2020 would leave footprints in history in the way that it did.
We stopped, we paused, we grieved, we raged, we rebelled, we cried, we laughed, we shared, we regrouped, we changed, we gave, we took, we started, we were stopped, and then we repeated. This was not the first year any of us had experienced these emotions but maybe it was the first year we had experienced them collectively. 2020 gave us the gift of unity in adversity.
The beauty of being led blindly into the unknown is that change has no option but to appear. Each new step we make on the path of discovery, creates opportunities to grow into someone you never imagined you could become. Stepping into the new, is as exciting or dreadful as you make it so choose your intentions carefully.
Whatever 2021 brings you, Munch and I wish you happiness, health, unconditional love and abundance in every way possible as you walk blindly into the new.
Nothing feels the same anymore for anyone. Wishes for a normal Christmas may not be granted in memorable 2020, but many new wishes may well come true.
For us, I am expecting less footsteps to walk through the door as mixing with loved ones is discouraged by those in power. The chaos of the usual Christmas cheer that comes with a large family, may be quieter than any other year. Recycling bags full of wrapping paper may be overfilled on another living room floor from our gifts that get opened elsewhere. The shelves in the fridge may groan with less food as family members eat in their own homes over the festive period. Christmas Eve may lose its magical powers when no cookies or milk are left out here for Santa, but I am sure he will not starve. These changes may not be ideal, but they also need not be devastating.
We will soon mix again with the army of family that we are blessed to be born into and seek out a rare spare chair in a room full of people. Four different conversations between loved ones will at some point fill each of the four corners of the room as people catch up with each other. The desire for giving presents may be replaced by the gratitude of the pure presence of loved ones alone. Food will once again taste better when sneakily shared from a friend’s plate when social distancing is a thing of the past. Santa’s best fan’s will at some point leave him goodies in front of equally excited friends and family just before the little footsteps make their way to bed. The new normal button will be pressed again after this seemingly long pause.
With a new baby Grandson bringing hope and joy back into the family, Christmas is far from spoilt this year. It may be different, but different can be a refreshing place to be in as change is sometimes as good as a rest. As with most, 2020 has made me stop and re-evaluate life from a different perspective. We can either choose to battle the unfairness, pain, and hurt of this year or we can choose to celebrate what we have been left with. Either way, we are going to create more of what we feel and think about. Admitting to ourselves that our version of life is just one way of seeing things and acknowledging that there are more positive ways of seeing things can sometimes be the most bitter pill to swallow in life. We are not always right; we are sometimes wrong.
For the first year ever, my four children will not all be here on Christmas Morning. My eldest may be with her partner and my two beautiful Grandchildren whilst my other daughter will be doing her midwifery duties of helping to deliver babies on Christmas Day. The house will still be full of my two son’s mischief and beauty as they play with Munch and Angus the cat, so half of Christmas will remain the same. It may be a different Christmas, but it does not mean it will be a less special one for everyone in different ways.
However, your new version of Christmas goes, I hope you find peace and beauty in places that you may have forgotten existed after living in this year of change. New traditions need to start somewhere.