Four Stars

Four Stars

Write a review of your life — or the life of someone close to you — as if it were a movie or a book.

That was quite an action packed, intense read right from the word go!

When the main character entered the story she was so loved. She had everything she could ever ask for with both parents being there giving love and cuddles whenever she needed it. They were truly devoted to her.
But then disaster struck. Maybe it was to test the strength of the parents relationship? Maybe it was just bad luck? The lead character developed cancer of the kidney. It was such a difficult read during these chapters. It was so touch and go for a long while. The chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments sounded so harrowing. So much for such a young little mite to cope with. But she showed such strength and character throughout and always managed to maintain a smile. Just as you start to think she is getting better the doctors asked for a scan and found a shadow in her lungs. Her cancer had returned. She had secondary cancer.

Everything looked very bleak. Her Dad lost his job during a wave of redundancies. Her Nana, who had been fighting cancer herself, was becoming weaker and weaker. The odds were against my little warrior. The only option was to treat her new cancers with a strong, yet untested on children, drug.

A kindly neighbour who offered an attentive ear to listen to her Mum’s problems and he put things into perspective. Yes the doctors may be saying that there is an 80% chance she won’t make it, but what about that 20%? Hold on to that. Believe she will be one of the ones to prove them wrong.
It turned out he was right. By the time she started primary school she had been given the all clear. She felt a little silly to have such short hair compared to all her friends, but she was so grateful to actually be there. It didn’t matter anyway, she was beautiful on the inside and that really showed. Her Dad also managed to get a job back at his old employer to be able to support his family.

I was so relieved to read they things were starting to look up. She had been a tough little cookie. There was a bit of a sadness about her though. She had been through so much and was wiser beyond her years. After all she had witnessed so much trauma already in her short life.

Sadly though, this wasn’t the end of her issues. It was becoming a bit like the biblical story about Job. Was this happening to test her, to make her stronger for something else in her future? It all didn’t seem fair. You just wanted the little girl to be able to run and play with her friends but there were more troubles in store.

All the treatments to save her life caused other physical issues for her. You wonder if maybe it might have been kinder if she had just passed away rather than to continue suffering. But then maybe that would have denied her something wonderful that could have just been down the road and around the corner.
She had bowed legs that had to be surgically broken and straightened. Before she could barely walk, now she can do everything her heart desires.
She had a weak left ventricle in her heart that caused palpitations and dizzy spells. She had to drop her A levels and go part time in college. Effectively denying her a bright future as she could now no longer go on to a degree or further herself. Doctors were able to treat it with medication alone but she had missed out too much education to go down the route she wanted in life.

But there was one glimmer of hope. One little thing that seemed to be the answer to all her prayers – a guy!
It turned from a massive weepfest into a beautiful story of true love. Everything suddenly became a bit easier to read and less heavy. I wasn’t dreading turning the page and hearing the next horrible thing that this poor girl had to go through. I was now unable to put the book down and was experiencing butterflies in my stomach from anticipation of what I could see developing before my eyes.

Two years after dating the guy of her dreams they moved in together. It was like a light had been switched on within her. It all suddenly made sense. He was the one for her. He was the missing piece to her puzzle of life. A year later they were engaged to marry and they wanted to buy their own house. It seemed the more independence she had the happier she was. He was there to support her and help her develop into who she wanted to become. He was always there to hold her hand, wipe her tears and listen to her thoughts. They really were always there for one another. Apart they were always missing the other. Together you could tell how much they loved each other and completed one another. Even at social events or if they were sat apart you could sense these two were together. It was like there is some invisible thread joining one another.

They married in a beautiful intimate ceremony that I almost felt a part of by the way the author described every little detail. The wonderful songs they chose with the spot on lyrics. I was so proud of her. I have to admit that I did shed a few happy tears. I had been there with her reading along as she went through her journey.

Just 6 months into their marriage though I thought all was going to fall apart. She needed a kidney transplant. I was starting to get quite agitated about all the plights she was going through. She was so happy and then this! Her Dad came along and donated a kidney to her. As if her parents hadn’t already done enough for her! They were now willing to spare their own organs! The transplant didn’t really seem to remove the bounce from her stride. She just kept on going. Her husband was by her side. She knew she had been through worse before and now with him there for support she could get through this.
Less than 3 months later she was back to normal. Back in work full time and ready to face the next stages in life! I did wonder if this blip might give slightly turbulent seas for the lovely young couple. If anything though, they came out stronger and more bonded. They had been close to the edge but then guided each other back to safety.

This isn’t the end for my heroine though. The story hinted at another novel in the pipeline. The beautiful couple were embarking on a huge project to build their own house with the hope of starting a family. I want to know what happens! You do wonder if with all the treatments she has been through if that might add a spanner in the works for having a family. I really hope with all my heart that everything works out for them. I could guess and speculate about what life might turn out for her but I don’t want to jinx her future!

In summary, although it was a difficult and emotional read it is good now and then to have a cry. I would definitely recommend anyone to read this if they are having a tough time. You see that anything is possible if you believe. How she managed to keep going I will never know. There is such a strength and sassiness to her that I find inspiring. She has really put things into perspective for me. Despite whatever is going on at the moment there is always hope. Hold on to that hope and it will turn into a glimmer of happiness. Keep building that happiness and it will turn into a wonderful life you will be able to reminisce about with your children and grandchildren.

Take That, Rosetta!

Recently, I’ve been struggling for inspiration as to what to write. I’ve also been finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate as my anxiety is really getting the better of me at the moment.

This led me to discover daily writing prompts for blog posts. First one:

Take That, Rosetta!

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

You would think with having been born and brought up in Wales that I would be fluent in Welsh. Far from it unfortunately.
My parents moved to Wales in the 80s from the West Midlands. They don’t have the Brummie accent though before you ask!

I went to a pretty English school. They had Welsh lessons a couple of times a week but that was it really. You would throw yourself in with all your energy with any festivities though. St David’s Day was a good one where you would get extra points for dressing as a Welsh Lady.
In the area there are schools that teach through the medium of Welsh. I would definitely have struggled with that. I found it hard to keep up normally, especially with Maths. That is like a foreign language in its own right.

With language you generally have to immerse yourself in it to be able to learn it and really make sense of it. Want to learn French? Take a gap year in France and be a teaching assistant in the schools there. Your English will be a great foreign language for them and you will learn more French in return. It is a win win situation.
The difference with Wales is that a lot of English people have moved here over the years due to the idyllic life and the beautiful countryside. It isn’t like you have to speak the language to get by. It is a completely bilingual country. All the letters you receive in the post are in English and Welsh, the signs are in English and Welsh. All of my friends at school were also from similar backgrounds as myself with not being truly ‘native’. So when we met up to play we couldn’t just converse in Welsh as we all had English in common. We couldn’t just ask our parents for help with Welsh homework as they knew less than us.

Looking back it is such a shame Welsh isn’t encouraged more. Obviously you want the kids to understand what they are being taught but you also want to keep this ‘dying language’ alive. It shouldn’t just be kept as a language that the hill farmers know. A language gives a country its own unique identity. The more who know it the more vibrant and alive it will become.
Now if I wish to apply for any other jobs ‘do you speak welsh’ is literally one of the first questions. It really limits your options for the future.

There are of course evening classes I could attend, but again with having no one else in the family I could use it with I think my newly learnt skill would soon be forgotten.
It would be worth it though for my future as you never know what is around the corner. Just before Christmas there were a number of redundancies so you can never really be certain what will happen.

Plus there is the humourous side in that all English people will think you are rude and saying derogatory things about them! You might just be with your girly friends saying ‘that guy is a bit of alright’ and they think you are bad mouthing them just because they don’t understand what you are saying! But you wouldn’t immediately jump to that conclusion if you were abroad surely?!

It would definitely be useful for me to learn Welsh. It would also give me something to focus my time and energy on to take away all my worries about anxiety and the panic attacks I have been having.

One day. We will see!

Easter Weekend!

Long weekends are great. It gives you the time off you long for and is a chance to set new memories. But it can also give you too much time to think. More on that in a bit.

Caz knew he had to do some overtime at some point on the long weekend. The power was being switched off in one of the buildings at work. So to save the servers from kicking up errors or not being happy he would have to switch them off properly before the power went off and boot them up once the electricity was on again. It is probably only an hour of work and an hour of driving to and from the site but it can still potentially put a dampener on the weekend. Luckily though he was able to stay late on Thursday to switch things off. Plan is to put everything back on at 5pm on Monday ready for everyone coming in on Tuesday after the bank holiday. Looks like a lucky escape and we will have maximum time off to spend together doing nice things.

Friday

On the Friday we decided to visit our new house to see how the progress was panning out. We have quite a few decisions coming up soon about where to put light switches, sockets and other aspects. We will have to work out the layout for all the rooms to make sure we factor in enough plugs. Like will I be charging my phone by the side of the bed or maybe in the kitchen on the breakfast bar? Lots of little things to think about!

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For whatever reason we both found today quite draining and had a to have a nap in the afternoon! We have been quite busy lately with work and the house. When building a house you can’t ever really switch off. There are always bills to pay and decisions to make. Not that I’m not grateful for this opportunity, but I will be glad once it is over and I can think of nothing at all!

Saturday

Last year we went to a food, drink & lifestyle festival in Chester. When we heard it was on again this year at the Racecourse we booked ‘early bird’ tickets and couldn’t wait to go there!
http://chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk/
Due to pre-booking tickets, we were given preferential treatment and showed to a tarmacked area for parking. It had been quite wet for the last few days so any grass parking would have been pretty boggy. From what I understand though other visitors were being pointed in the direction of the nearest large car park and that the festival had stumped up the cost.

We had left home pretty early so I wanted breakfast!
First stop – I love crepes! We both had Nutella and banana crepes. Yummy!

Then we perused all the stalls, stands and marquees.
A lot of the vendors had such pretty and colourful products

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It can be a little difficult being a vegetarian at festivals. What can you eat?! There was pulled pork, sausages, burgers, meatballs… I was starting to feel I would have to go hungry! But then I came across a cute little Citroen Van with a wood burner installed which was selling fresh pizza! I always try and go for something a little different to what I normally would and had a garlic oil as the base (instead of tomato base) and cheese, wild mushrooms and wild garlic. It was really yummy and I don’t actually know how I wolfed it all down!
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There were also demonstrations by various celebrity and well known chefs. One of them was Simon Rimmer. I caught a sly shot of him in the picture above!
We went away with quite a lot of goodies! Cheese and onion twist, berry Danish pastry, cheesy loaf of bread, a selection of macaroons, brownies, cocoa flavoured popcorn, some very spicy veggie things, pies and some meat for Caz.
We also got a really lovely big serving bowl and a glass dragonfly ornament.

On our way back Caz had an appointment to test drive a Toyota Avensis. I was full of excitement about this prospect. Not. I generally see Toyotas as just boxes to get from A to B. Nothing interesting or unique about them. They just blend in and are silver 90% of the time.
Well, we spotted it and it was a really lovely dark grey. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a hankering towards a charcoal colour car. There is just something so classy and simple about it. We got in and I didn’t instantly fall asleep from boredom. It had a build in sat nav and rather funky sound system and the dashboard wasn’t made of recycled bin lids. It actually felt well made and designed with a bit of thought behind it.
We would be selling Caz’s current ‘commuter car’ to buy this – a Toyota Yaris.

We had such a lovely day out and about today so what I’m about to say makes me feel incredibly guilty. I feel rubbish. It is like the black cloud has just come over me and is trying to absorb me. I just don’t know how to shake it. My normal tricks to try and get out of this rut just aren’t even helping to take the edge off today. It feels like you are a bystander to your own life. You are there but aren’t partaking in anything that is going on. You don’t have input as to how you feel. You desperately don’t want to feel this way but don’t know how to get out of this zone. I end up mutely just holding myself while the world continues around me.

I think sometimes my mind needs a rest as much as my body does. When you have had to be strong for a while and keep going even though you just want to sit down cry can really leave you feeling drained. I should have at some point in this last week put my hands up at work and said I’m swamped, can someone give me a hand. But I didn’t. I just battled on regardless. I’m getting better at asking for help but for whatever reason I didn’t on this occasion. A combination of my colleague preparing to be off the following week, a couple difficult tasks from a client who doesn’t know the meaning of manners and just being pretty busy!

Late in the evening Caz said he was going to bed and did I want to go to. I said no. This was a mistake. I ended up searching for the most painless ways of killing myself. Apparently there isn’t really. Luckily the website I stumbled upon had a lot of advice. Talk to someone. Wait at least 3 days before carrying out any potential life ending plans.
http://lostallhope.com/

It isn’t that anything has gone catastrophically wrong but just I’ve felt so low and anxious for like a month now without any let up. I hear time and time again that depression is a treatable illness. But my experience of it is that it is never-ending and there is no way out. All I want is a brief rest-bite from this and to have a glimmer of hope and happiness for the future. I have been there, done that with counselling. It helped to a certain degree but I got to a point where it was more a nuisance than a help. I exercise, eat healthy, have a few hobbies and try and sound out my thoughts but I’ve been struggling with an inner voice that just won’t leave me alone. I don’t know if I should go back to my GP and ask about medications. I just want to find something to ease this.

Sunday

Sunday is probably going to be quite a lazy day. Besides, I don’t have the energy or motivation to do anything.

We sat in front of the TV and watched the first race of the season for British Touring cars. There have been lots of team changes, new faces, old faces, sponsor changes and different cars. I sat proudly wearing my Pirtek Tshirt and Fleece in support of Andrew Jordan now he has moved to MG from Honda.
We only got around to watching race 1 and 2 of the BTCC but it was such good fun! We shout at the telly at dodgy overtakes and cheer when our favourite teams or individuals win.

I mentioned about Caz potentially thinking about buying this car we test drove yesterday. Well, to afford the car we would probably have to sell the Scooby too. It would be a very reluctant sale on Caz’s part. We bought it in 2011 and it has been so good to us. Nothing has ever gone wrong on it or even hinted at wanting to fail. It is just such a good car! So fast too! I would desperately miss it too. I just feel so cool when driving it! But we have had it for quite a few years now and it is perhaps the time for Caz to try something new.

Well Caz ended up removing the fun decals we had put on the Subaru and then I gave it a good clean.
We took it up to an interesting spot and took the pictures for the ads.
If you want to share the link go ahead or if you know anyone that might be interested please let me know!

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http://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/subaru/impreza-sti/subaru-impreza-wrx-sti-type-uk-widetrack-dccd/3881863

Monday

In a way, I feel I’ve not made the most of my long weekend.
Yes, we went to the Food & Drink festival but that is about it on the list of what I achieved.

So we booked tickets to go to the cinema to see the long awaited Fast & Furious 7.
I was curious as to how they would handle the fact that one of the main actors – Paul Walker – died during the filming. Without giving too much away, basically this film is a direct follow on from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (and we had a bit of a recap to Fast & Furious 6). The brother of one of the bad guys that the crew defeated is back to get revenge. They travel across a lot of the globe trying to stop the guy and use a load of technology to help them. They just don’t want to end up going to any more funerals for their crew members. Will they manage it?!
At the end is a montage in tribute to Paul Walker. There can’t have been a dry eye in the house after that. Too many feels.

I actually really enjoyed seeing the movie. Really Fast & Furious is a big budget film franchise with rubbish plots. But boy do Caz and I love it! We have seen all the movies together now and is just one of those funny traditions we will always do – go and see these crappy movies!

As it was a nice day, we decided to go out for lunch. We went to a local Water gardens that has a Dutch Pancake house attached. The restaurant was full when we arrived but they put our name down and told us to come back in a bit. We walked around the fishing lake, taking in the views and scenery as well as saying hello to the ducks and chickens that live at the water gardens.

What a view!

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Easter themed pancake!
I was sooo full afterwards!

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There are also tropical fish and other critters you can look at and purchase at the water gardens. They have reptiles and creepy crawlies too!

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When we got back home we had enough time to relax in the garden with a cup of tea before Caz had to go to work to finish his task of turning all the servers back on.

While he was gone I had cheese on toast for tea and decided to watch more of The Rock (you can never have enough of The Rock). I settled on watching Pain & Gain on netflix.
Based on a true story, 3 body builders decide that they deserve more. They kidnap and rob one of the clients at their gym and then realise they can’t just free him afterwards so they set about trying to kill him. They then decide that they didn’t get enough from that plan so want to do it again and accidentally kill two people. Their ways finally catch up with them and they get their comeuppance.
When the film finished I wasn’t sure if it was good or dire! It was meant to be a black comedy but felt like a bit of an endurance… It was over 2 hours! It had a pretty big cast in it with Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Ed Harris in it but for me that wasn’t enough. I often find these more dark tales fascinating and often watch documentaries taking a look into the minds of serial killers. But I think comedy wasn’t the way this film should have been portrayed. There has to be some respect and dignity towards the victims and that just wasn’t captured at all in this film.

This has been a long post! But then I guess I did quite a lot over the last 4 days.

I had better get an early night before work again tomorrow.
Today has been a better day but I never want to take these things for granted as I don’t know how fleeting these good moments might be.

10 positive things

I have accepted to do a challenge of writing 10 positive things about myself that has nothing to do with my mental health issues. This originated from https://bipolarwhispers.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/10-positive-things-a-challenge-to-my-readers-and-fellow-bloggers/ and then https://losttothedark.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/10-positive-things/ took on the challenge too, which inspired me to write my own list of 10 positive things.

I want you to write 10 positive things about you that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues. Post them on your blog and link the link in the comments. If you are not comfortable writing a blog post and linking it, you can write the 10 things in my comments section on this post.

10 positive things about me:

  1. My husband, Carwyn, is the greatest thing to have entered my life! He manages to make me smile even when I feel it is so impossible my body just won’t remember how to raise the corners of my mouth. Without him I feel certain I wouldn’t be here today. He has given me a reason to live. We love a lot of the same things and I’m sure we were actually created from the same mould as we are so similar it is sometimes scary! Caz adds a vibrancy to my life and takes it from black and white to full technicolour.
  2. Bear with my while I get to my point! In 2012 my Grandpa passed away. I found this time really difficult to cope with and it hit me hard. I didn’t see my Grandpa tonnes over the years, just at the big holiday occasions like Christmas and Easter. But there was something about him that was so recognisable in me. His humour was very similar to mine as well as a lot of his thoughts and ideas on life. My Grandpa decided to leave some money to me in his will. I desperately wanted to make the most of the money as well as hopefully knowing I would have made him proud. So my husband and I thought we would put it towards the property market. We looked at houses for sale but nothing felt right. Then we thought back to our chilled out evenings watching Grand Designs. We decided to properly look into it before we ruled it out. We went to an estate agent and asked to have all the pamphlets for plots of land within our chosen area and budget. We went out for a drive and visited every plot for sale and one stuck in our minds. It was perfect. It was also owned by friends of the family! So we booked an appointment with an architect, got our dream home drawn up and then proceeded with our plans. Today the main shell of the house is there and hopefully in the next couple of months we will be moving in! I will eternally be grateful to my Grandpa for thinking of me in his will. I obviously would rather he was still here and could see my house in person and spend many happy days with us but I will live knowing that I put his money to the best use in bettering my life and making my future more stable and comfortable.
  3. I have a crude humour! I greatly believe this is a gene I inherited from my Dad’s side of the family. Fart jokes, stupid noises, whoopie cushions, puns, witty one liners… All get me howling in hysterics!
  4. I live in a beautiful part of the world in North Wales and am so grateful for it. I live a 5 minute stroll from the beach, but am also within a short drive from the big mountains such as Snowdon. I regularly go past castles and constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be living in such an amazing area. I thrive in this part of the world. Spending time out in nature really seems to boost me and it also inspires me.
  5. Reading has to be one of my favourite past times. As a child my parents read to me quite a lot. The Hobbit was regularly read to me and perhaps developed the fantasy world that now resides in my head! I then got to a point where reading became difficult to me. I found it hard to concentrate enough to read and I would end up re-reading many sentences and almost have to say bits out loud just to be able to move on from it. Although I have never been diagnosed with dyslexia, I do think I might have it to some degree. When writing with pen and paper I merge words and often really have to think which way around a b or d goes – they often get muddled around with me. But now I have rediscovered the joy of losing myself in a book. I tend to just pick up easy to read ‘chick lit’ novels but occasionally I will find something that really challenges me. Books about the war or more memoir type books are appearing on my radar now and although they can be difficult reads it is so life enriching and rewarding. I’ve also ventured into my local library and that has opened up another realm of options to me!
  6. I contain spare parts! In March 2011 my Dad donated one of his kidneys to me. Health problems had plagued me ever since I was a young child. So now I’ve got this new lease of life I want to make the most of it. To mark my kidney donation I have a plush zombie kidney! Maybe one day I will get a tattoo to commemorate it – a butterfly with a green charity ribbon as its body (this is for organ transplant and donation awareness) or the date in my Dad’s handwriting just above the scar on my lower abdomen.
  7. With my health problems I had always found exercising difficult. I would end up out of breath very quickly and quickly feel demotivated and unwilling to continue. But now I have a new sense of determination because Caz and I are hoping to begin thinking about starting a family (once we are settled in the new house). I want to achieve all I can within my limits. I want to do all I can without being hard on myself. In January I started running. When I say running I do a bit of jogging and a lot of quick walking! It has given me a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. I’m not great at it, which is frustrating but it shows just what I can do when I put my mind to it.
  8. I love baking. Not just because of the yummy rewards at the end but because in a relatively short time you then have something to show for your efforts. If I know someone is coming over I will bake a chocolate layer cake or scones. But more often than not I will just bake because it is something I enjoy doing. Because there are just two of us we can’t eat everything I make ourselves! Caz takes a lot of it to work and comes home with the compliments people have given to the cakes or biscuits. I have even made things for Caz to take to work on request! It’s nice to be acknowledged for something you do well!
  9. Fairies are something I collect. I currently have 6 fairy ornaments displayed on my sideboard. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about them. There is just something that draws me to them and if I spot one when I’m out and about in the shops I will have to impulse buy! The fairies I collect are pretty sexy and ethereal. I particularly love the ones by ‘Nemesis Now’
  10. I am vegetarian and have been now for over 12 years. It all began when I was in college and applying for all the free things on the internet. One of these happened to be a ‘going vegetarian’ pack with leaflets and information. I was shocked at the conditions animals were generally kept in and especially sickened by the process from farm to table. I pretty much decided there and then to become vegetarian. I love animals. I grew up with a dog being my ‘sister’ and would love to one day be in a position where I can volunteer my time to a rescue centre. I think being a vegetarian has helped maintain my kidney function as too high an amount of protein can be difficult for your kidneys to process. It has also helped my figure as it is a low fat diet!

When negativity is second nature to you it can be very hard to come up with even one positive thing about yourself. I also wanted to try not to record anything physical, because beauty is generally within and around us. It actually took me a good two days to come up with this listing! It was quite therapeutic having to overrule the negative voices in my head. It definitely got me thinking and maybe, just maybe, gave me an insight into how I could one day become. It is possible to be kind to myself and with daily practice it will gradually become my way of thinking.