Live and Learn

Live and Learn

The New Year has rolled in and I feel obligated to mark the occasion. Most people I have seen, have chosen to go one of two ways with this. They either choose to disregard the past year and focus on the one ahead (mostly hoping and praying that things will get better without them having to do anything), or they are complaining about what a terrible year it was and how unfair life is.

I am a realist. I don’t believe in “searching for the good in a bad situation”. Nor do I believe in narrowly focusing in on tragedy because it outweighs any good that has happened. Nor ignoring things just because they are unpleasant.

We live in a delicate web of circumstances. Everything effects everything else. Every situation that arises has been brought about by situations that came before, and will bring about situations after it. Assigning blame, feeling sorry for ourselves, lamenting, or denying will do nothing to change what has come before or where we find ourselves now. What we can do is observe, study, analyse, learn and thereby become better people, better equipped to handle future situations. We can change the way we behave and react and these things will trigger change in our lives. But I digress…

In order to “Review my 2020″, I thought it would be best to create a “Pro/Con” list. This will keep things in perspective and give me a more realistic idea of how to approach 2021.

PRO’s

1. Got engaged.
2. Got a car.
3. Graduated with a 1st Class Degree.
4. My employer was hugely supportive despite me not having worked at the company for long.
5. Was given a secondment so that I could work from home.
6. Had time to decorate the house.
7. Spent more time on hobbies and passions.
8. Spent more quality time with fiancé and cat.
9. Got to know myself better.
10. Haven’t lost anything I can’t get back.

CON’s

1. Was unable to properly start my new job due to being ‘high risk’.
2. Barely left the house since March.
3. Weight increased to my highest ever.
4. Health decreased dramatically.
5. The British public showed themselves to be more stupid and selfish than I thought they were.
6. Was unwell for the holiday season.
7. Have barely seen the family all year.
8. Had driving test suspended several times over.
9. Didn’t get another cat as planned.
10. Increased fear, anxiety, depression.

Dealing with the virus and the way it has changed the world is an unprecedented incident that nobody could have predicted (except the scientists who have been warning the public for years that we were on the brink of a devastating pandemic). I feel as though I was better equipped than most, since I am well practiced in managing feelings of fear and anxiety, I am an introvert and therefore don’t miss the lack of social interaction (living with one other person and a cat can sometimes feel too crowded for me), being a chronic illness sufferer means that I am more in-tune with my body and my health, it also means that I have endured periods of being housebound before (at least I’m still able to get out of bed and move around the house during lockdown), I have studied and worked in the biological field, frequently working under aseptic conditions (I know how to clean my self and my surroundings effectively, and I know which products will kill viruses and which will only kill bacteria, and I know what to look for on products that make such claims. Not to mention the general knowledge I have about how viruses, testing kits and vaccines work, so I know what to believe and what not to believe in the media) and finally because I am a prepper – I am prepared for scenarios where we lose all electricity and running water, I can more than handle wearing a mask and washing my hands repeatedly.

I won’t share all the things that I have learned this year but I have learned a lot, I have changed a lot, and I will continue to adapt to what comes next. All in all, this past year has been true to my general attitude towards life – It wasn’t great but it could have been a lot worse.

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

This morning I was thinking about the sorry state of the world, the awful way in which our government manages the country, and how ineffectual the police are. I was thinking about this and I considered, not for the first time, that maybe I should learn about law or politics, or both. I sure would love to have some kind of significant positive effect on the world, but have no hope of changing anything if I don’t first understand how it works.

The obvious flaws to this are that:
1. Considering the corrupt systems that are already in place, I’d have to go against my morals and ethics, which then makes me an unreliable person, in order to rise to a position where I am actually able to affect any kind of change, and
2. The subjects of law and politics are so vast that it would take a lifetime of non-stop study to know everything needed to navigate these waters.

The solution to the former, is to go outside of normal channels. Become a revolutionary, start something new instead of trying to change the thing that already exists. This though, has it’s own list of difficulties including but not limited to:
1. Revolution requires the backing of the majority and the public are fleeting and fickle,
2. The powers-that-be have means of silencing anybody who speaks against them, and frequently use these methods, not liking to be disagreed with, and
3. I’m not good at rallying people or hiding my annoyance and disappointment at the idiocy of the public. I’m am more likely to be publicly disliked than I am to inspire a new society.

The solution to the latter of my initial points, is to focus my study on areas of law and politics which either directly concern me and and mine, or which answer the biggest problems that I see in the world. The problems I see here are as follows:
1. If I narrow down my study to issues that only effect my own life then I am unlikely to affect change on a large scale,
2. The biggest problems in the world vary from country to country and are often interlinked with other issues. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to chose a particular area to work on without needing to know how other aspects influence it.

So I am unlikely to achieve the kind or change that I want. What I can do is join a political or revolutionary group that already exists and hope that I can help to affect change. Or I can learn as much as possible and hope that an avenue will open up to me that I did not consider before. Either way, I need to learn, a lot, and I should really pick a place to start since I’ll never have time to learn everything.

Or I can just take my family and run away to start our own private community in the wilderness. Always an option.

As Above, So Below

As Above, So Below

Prompt: 21st September 2020 – Earth vs Air

A dance, a rising and falling, sweeping back and forth. A gentle wisp, touching, kissing, playing with all it reaches. The dust leaps up to join the ballet. There is a rumble from the deep. Far beneath the surface where nothing can survive, a red, bubbling heat. Everything above floats on this hellish lake. What was once solid and stable, shifts and moves. The rumbling grows and echoes, engulfing all. A crack, a crunch, a crash, the world is collapsing. Massive sheets push against each other, grinding. Then all is quiet again.

It begins with a jump. For so long these twigs have been home, but a time must come to take the leap. Hesitant steps patter against the edge of security. Beady eyes flit between the ground and sky. Wings stretch and begin to beat as the instinct to fly overcomes the instinct to hide. Then the jump, followed by a frantic fall. Desperate, terrified, beating feathers suddenly find purchase. An invisible hand lifting them away from danger and guiding them into freedom. A lifelong friendship has begun.

It ends with a sleep. The sweet, green meadow has given so much. It nourishes and protects. It is the first thing that can be seen when the eyes begin to open. It is where the young ones play and the elder ones nap. It is soft and lush under the paws. It collects the refreshing morning dew. Yes, it has given much and still now it cradles the body as the hopping becomes shuffling, and old bones lay down to sleep one final time. A lifelong friendship has ended.

Up, down. High, low. Fly, stand. Poles apart and yet so similar. As above, so below.

A Dream (or A Commentary)

A Dream (or A Commentary)

Last night I dreamt I was on a starship. There were only about 20 people on board and we were all young, inexperienced and not particularly knowledgeable. But, we were part of a larger fleet and in constant contact with the fleet commander who had a lifetimes worth of experience and knew exactly what he was doing. Unfortunately for us, our captain, and owner of our ship, was impetuous and eager to prove herself. She attempted a maneuver that was not sanctioned by the commander. Something went wrong and we ended up warping to God-knows-where, losing all communication with our fleet.

After some time trying to regain communication and failing, the crew determines that we are actually caught in the gravitational pull of a large star. We have burned all our fuel in the warp so are unable to break free. We will be burned to death in approximately 7 years. Some time is spent trying to figure out if there is a way to stop it, but none of us really know much about space-travel or the inner workings of the ship we’re on, so people quickly give up and calmly resign themselves to their fate.

The ship we are on is huge and was built for habitation, so it contained anything and everything that you could ever want. Everybody swiftly went about making the most of their final 7 years. Some focused on learning things that they wish they knew, some busied themselves with hobbies, from gardening to crafts to fitness, some indulged in entertainment and gluttony, attempting to pack in as much care-free fun as possible. Whatever the people chose to do, they did it whole-heartedly. Not me though. I could not ignore the fact that we were headed towards our death. I began by trying to find a solution, but I knew I wasn’t smart enough and it would take me decades to learn everything I needed to know before I was even able to implement anything, so I gave up on that. I tried to do things that used to make me happy but everything now seemed frivolous and pointless. I would start things half-heartedly and then give up before I finished it. I spent many hours just sitting or lying down, staring at nothing and sighing deeply.

I envied everyone else for being able to find joy in a hopeless situation, and was simultaneously infuriated by their willing ignorance. I felt utterly alone, like I was dying a slow death while everyone else was “living their best life”.

I woke up before we reached the star, but I was left with this feeling of apathy for life.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

It was my birthday on Friday. I turned 30 years old. I’m not worried about aging in the same way that a lot of women are. I’m actually looking forward to having a face covered in lines and creases, and long grey/silver hair flowing down my back. I look forward to having a face that suits my wise, old soul, and a body that looks as fragile as it feels. But when I woke up on my 30th birthday, I rolled over to see my sleepy-faced fiancé who said “Happy Birthday” and kissed me sweetly, we could hear the cat meowing softly outside asking to be let in, and this one intrusive thought pushed its way to the forefront of an otherwise lovely morning; “Where are my children?”

30 is a landmark birthday and, as much as I love my fiancé and my cat, I should have been woken up by little people scrambling onto the bed and yelling “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” in my face at a ridiculous volume. I should have been presented with hand-made cards covered in glitter that gets everywhere for days, and a drawing of unrecognisable shapes that are obviously our happy family. But we don’t have children and, as wonderful as my birthday was, I felt their presence was missing.

I have wanted children since I was 16 years old. I feel like my purpose on this planet is to be a good mother. I never wanted anything else for my life and that’s part of the reason I was so late to make anything of myself. I didn’t want an education or a career, I only wanted to be a mother, so in stead of working hard at school and looking for a job, I spent the years looking for a man to father my children. Wanting to be a good mother though, I wasn’t going to settle for someone who was immature or unstable. I wanted to make sure that my child was given financial and emotional security.

By the time I was 25, I realised that men weren’t always reliable and most my age were still terrified by the idea of having kids. So I came to the conclusion that if I wanted a stable environment to have children in, then I’d have to create it myself. To do that, I would need a well-paid job that had a good amount of security and flexibility so that I could take time off when I needed to, to have and look after my family. To get a job like that I’d need a degree, so I went to uni.

During my time at Uni I met my afformentioned fiancé who just so happened to be mature, dependable and wants children, and we are going to have a family. But college and Uni took 5 years of my life, so here I am at 30 years old celebrating my birthday as a mother without children.

Hopefully, this will be the last one.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything Happens for a Reason

I am a person who believes that everything happens for a reason. I have to with everything that has happened to me. If I didn’t then the universe is just cruel and unfair and what’s the point in struggling against the tide? But in stead of hopelessness, I chose to believe that, although I may not know why, and may never know why, the things that occur in my life have to happen in order for some other event to happen that creates balance in the universe. This belief brings me peace of mind and allows me to carry on trying when everything is telling me to give up.

5 years ago I went back to college to do an Access course so I could go to University. Halfway through my college course I got a very severe flu-like illness and never fully recovered. I got M.E. I was still able to complete my course (just about), but was unable to get the work experience required for the University course that I wanted to do. I was rejected from all four of my University choices and left pretty distraught. I was on the verge of giving up when my favourite University offered me a place on a different course. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was close and it could lead me to what I wanted to do, so I accepted and went to University.

1 year of that course and my health had deteriorated to the point where I was almost completely bedbound. I was still managing to get the work done (and was getting good grades) but my tyrannical course leader said that if I didn’t show up for class then I would be kicked off of the course. If I was kicked off of the course then I would be kicked out of my campus accommodation, making me homeless. I somehow managed to get a meeting with the leader of another course who said he’d be delighted to take me on. I ended up loving that course and that department and they supported me with my illness so I was able to graduate this year with excellent grades.

If I had been accepted onto the course that I originally wanted to do then I wouldn’t have wasted a year on a terrible course and I would have graduated last year and been in work this year when the virus hit. And what was that course that I wanted to do? Child nursing. Yep, if I hadn’t gotten M.E, I would currently be a Nurse in the NHS right now.

Just saying… everything happens for a reason.

Cold Feet?

Cold Feet?

I am engaged. My partner asked me to marry him and I said yes. We have begun planning our wedding.

On day one, I was excited and so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. On day two, the anxiety began setting in.

I love this man and have wanted to be his wife since our first 6 months together. He will be an amazing husband and father and I would spend the rest of my life with him without thinking twice, but then he asked me if I would spend the rest of my life with him.

The proposal didn’t come as a great surprise, we’d talked about it a lot before and I even knew that he’d bought me a ring and was having trouble with getting it delivered during a pandemic, so I knew it was coming and never worried about it. I have looked forward to being his wife for years and never felt anything but happy and confident about it, so why am I feeling like this now that I’ve said yes?

I keep asking myself, as is my practice, what is this feeling and why am I feeling it. The first thought I had, in it’s rawest form was, if I swear on all that I believe in to be with him for the rest of my life, then I actually have to do that. I only make promises I intend to keep, I will only consider divorce in the most extreme of circumstances. So then the questions follow; do I not want to be with him for the rest of my life? Do I imagine us splitting up? Is there someone else I’d rather be with? Or would I rather be alone? But as I already said, I do want to be with him and only him until I die. I’ve wanted that with surety and steadiness for a long time. So it’s not that.

I delved in a little further and found a fear that I would lose my independence. Every decision I made in life would have to include or consider him. I wouldn’t be free to do whatever I wanted without first considering the impact that it would have on him. But I already live like that, and have done for the past two years. I don’t want to do anything that would impact him negatively, and everything I do want are things he wants too. So that’s not it.

Perhaps it’s the idea of the ceremony. I am religious and he is not, nor are either of our families, but if I’m going to make these solemn promises to him then I want it to be in my tradition and with blessings that mean something to me. He is more than happy for us to do that and is helping me to plan that kind of event, but it still feels self-indulgent. To stand up in front of our friends and family and say “this is who I am and what I want so this is how we’re going to do it” makes me feel uncomfortable. But then again, the wedding is about my partner and I making promises and commitments to each other, not about putting on a show for our guests, and as I said before, I would want to make those promises in a way that is meaningful to me, otherwise they won’t mean anything. So I guess it’s not that.

I have always feared change in my life and getting married seems like a big one. Except it’s not really. My name will change and some other legal formalities (nothing major, nor detrimental) will occur, but other than that, we will still live in the same house, with the same cat and the same jobs and hobbies, we’ll just be married, that’s all. So it’s not that either.

Currently, I believe that what I’m feeling is a generalised anxiety that comes with making any large decision in your life without having certainty of the future. We cannot foresee what may happen in our lives and making a commitment so big on faith is a scary thing to do. I have experienced similar anxieties when choosing a university to go to, or buying a car. The difference with those things is that the commitment was short term and reversible, this one is not. Therefore it is not completely unreasonable to expect a higher level of anxiety.

The fear of loss and hurt is strong in me too. Maybe he’ll leave me, betray me, lie to me, and even if he doesn’t, eventually he’ll die, and I don’t know if I can handle a loss like that. There have been many times in my life where I wanted to avoid investing emotion so I would not experience such pain, but I was convinced by well meaning people to ignore my instincts and take the risk (“Life is risky”, “What if everything goes right?”, “If you don’t take that chance you might miss out on something great”). Then my fears would come true, and I’d be destroyed again. Every time I have trusted someone not to hurt me, they have hurt me, usually very badly.

It’s also worth considering that I have never seen a marriage that I coveted or admired. I was never a girl who dreamed about her wedding day and never saw marriage as wonderful thing to aspire to.

So there are no real reasons for me to feel so anxious, and yet many reasons why I am. I will try to meditate on these things and hope that I am consoled by the idea that these fears come from nothing substantial. I have to assure myself that the potential gains outweigh the potential losses and then take the leap of faith.

The Loss of the Familiar

The Loss of the Familiar

B.L (Before Lockdown) I was taking one of my many busses to one of my destinations. There was an elderly man sitting at the front with a walking stick. During the journey, the bus hit a bump, or halted suddenly, and he dropped his stick. Someone sat nearby immediately jumped to his assistance and returned the cane to its rightful owner.

It made me think of all of the times (and there were very many of them) when I dropped my cane. Sometimes people would help and sometimes they wouldn’t. Usually someone nearby would ask “Should I get that?” or “Do you need help with that?”. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I would probably prefer that they ask that just presume, that’s not the point of the story.

The point is that I saw something mundane, even inconvenient, and reflected on it with nostalgia. In that moment, I missed my cane. It had been a part of me for such a long time that, even though I was glad for the freedom, I missed having it with me. I talked about it before as being like an extra leg, a part of my being, my body, my person, so even though I was whole and didn’t need it anymore, it still felt like a part of me was missing.

It was a strange sensation and difficult to explain, I guess I’m just saying that we become comfortable with the familiar and whether that thing is a positive or negative part of us is irrelevant, we still miss it when it’s gone.

New Year, New Decade, New Experiences.

New Year, New Decade, New Experiences.

To listen to me read this blog post, please click here: Reading “New Year, New Decade, New Experiences”


From what I can tell from my social media pages, most people seem to have had a rough 2019. I, therefore, feel lucky and guilty that I have had a good year. The first half was a little touch-and-go but the second half was the best I’ve had in as long as I can remember. And I plan to make 2020 even better.

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is going to be self-indulgent and a little braggy. If you don’t like reading about other people’s happiness and good fortunes then stop reading now.

There’s no denying that the main reason for my happiness is my improved health and, as mentioned in a previous post, that is almost completely down to my amazing, supportive partner. I spent the majority of my illness thinking about all the things I would do if I wasn’t ill. Therefor, when my health began to improve I began to do as many of those things as possible. My main restriction shifted from energy levels to time in the day, and that is an incredible feeling.

So I guess we should start with my physical improvements. I have talked about this in more detail before so I’ll just highlight my favourite bits. I do yoga. Walking a mile to the shop is not something I have to worry about. I took up running again. Every morning I can get up, shower, brush my teeth, dress, do my hair and make-up and feel ready for the day, not ready for bed. But more than that, we can go out, for meals, to shows, to fairs and fetes, or just for a walk around the park. It’s so good to spend time with the man I love outside of this house. And inside the house I can indulge my inner housewife with cleaning, baking, mending and crafting. I can “waste” energy on doing things that are completely frivolous and purely for my own enjoyment. I feel like I can function normally again and that is such a blessing.

Secondly, this is my final year of university, which for me is the culmination of 5 years of pursuing the future that I wanted for myself. Going back to education as a mature student with anxiety and depression was daunting enough, but to get M.E in the first year of this journey really tested how much I wanted it. In year 2 I was almost completely bedbound but still managed to drag myself through because this really is the most important thing that I have ever done with my life. I am sad and scared that it is ending because it has become familiar and safe, and has helped me to grow and develop as a person. I am also excited to move onto the next step of this process and actually begin living the life I have been working towards. So many more doors will open up to me once this one has closed behind me. I have also done some work experience over the summer which provided me with connections, taken on some part-time work which has given me experience, and given guided tours of the university to potential applicants which made me so proud and happy for the next generation of Biology students.

Self improvement has been a big focus for me this year. Physical improvements I have mentioned, educational improvements too, but I’ve also spent a lot of time on self-reflection and observation. I saw a councillor for a while and she was great. She asked the right questions and got me to focus on who I was and what I can do. Often we look outward to place blame and seek happiness. This year I have learned and internalised the idea that I have no control over others and the world around me, but total control over my own actions. I am responsible for my own happiness and I am to blame for my poor choices or reactions. In this way, I can make my life what I want it. My self-reflection has also lead me to ask the bigger questions too and I’ve revisited Zen Buddhism and listened to the Bhagavad Gita as well as “Letting Go” by David R Hawkins M.D PhD, and “The Madness of Crowds” by Douglas Murray. I also listened to “Battle Scars”, “Break Point”, and “First Man In”, by the hosts of the TV show “SAS: Who Dares Wins”, Jason Fox, Ollie Ollerton and Ant Middleton respectively. I also scattered some fiction in between because even made-up people in made-up situations can teach us things about ourselves. I started a Bullet Journal this year too as a creative outlet and to organise myself, but I also found that it motivated me to be more productive and to enjoy taking time over small details.

My domestic life this year gained a house, a cat and an improvement in my relationship. I don’t wish to talk too much about this as it is not just mine to divulge. My home life is shared with my partner and he deserves his privacy. I will say that I am feeling more like a wife and mother than ever before and that is a warm, comfortable feeling for me. I will be having my 30th birthday this year and I am more than ready for this phase of my life. In fact, I have been waiting for it for a long time but it has been waiting for me to be in the right place and the right time. All the chips are falling into place now and I feel like I am becoming the person I was always supposed to be.

So, to summarise, 2019 has been a year of exponential growth. It has been hard work, exhausting at times, but also enjoyable and so, so worth it. 2020 should continue this trend and although this time next year my life will look completely different, it will also be exactly as it should be.

Happy New Year. Best wishes to all of you.

Age, Death and the Soul

Age, Death and the Soul

My body has been living on this planet for 29 orbits of the sun. In general, the human body can only survive for 80-100 orbits. At that point, the cells are no longer able to reproduce or repair themselves. When this happens we say that someone has died of “old age” or “natural causes”. But no one can really die from being old, their internal organs have to fail. It is highly unlikely that all organs fail simultaneously, so I’m curious to know what starts the process of death. Does the brain stop sending signals to the organs to make them work? Maybe the heart stops sending around oxygen and nutrients? Perhaps the lungs just won’t take in air anymore? And then what? Once the body is dead, is the soul then free of its fleshy prison and able to roam the universe, experiencing it in a new way previously unimaginable? Does consciousness just switch to another being, like changing user? Maybe the energy that was used to power this body is now available to power a different body? Are what we experience as ghosts just echoes of left over energies, like static? In Zen Buddhism, they teach us that there is no before and after, there is only this moment and as soon as you realise it, it has already passed and you are in a new moment. However, people who have reached enlightenment or the highest state of consciousness have reported that there is no time at all and that all which exists is the connected oneness of everything and the unity of the Truth. So maybe only those who have realised and experienced this connectedness are able to shift their consciousness at the moment of death and everyone else who believes in their separate singularity ends up dying alongside their bodies.

Maybe it’s all irrelevant.