Life Sparkles ✨

Energy

My mental energy appears to be through the roof at the moment. It must be all the rest and sleep I have been getting. I have thoughts and ideas coming to me about my music, my blog, my website, the garden, you get the drift. It’s all very positive and I’m loving the flow of ideas. I’m writing things down in my many notes books (you’ll remember I wrote a post on my obsession with notebooks and lists). Messages I receive from people about my music page, or a motivational quote I have posted, increase the sparkle. I’ve been told that the motivational posts are infectious and give people a real lift in the mornings. I’m so happy about this, somehow if I have helped someone have a good start to the day, it feels great. I love motivational posts. I do have a fairly sarcastic humour at times so I’m always careful about what I post. I don’t want to upset anyone yet you have to be free to be yourself. Isn’t that what social media is about? Freedom of expression. I will post very different things on FB, Twitter and Instagram. They have very different audiences indeed. I get a lot more interaction on Instagram than anywhere else. I’ve even started learning how to use TikTok. It appears to be the place to be for singers and musicians. It’s all good, my brain is active and learning and I keep getting ideas, ideas and more ideas.

Ideas and more Ideas.

After the success of the three FB lives earlier this year, I appear to have lost my momentum and I have become a queen of procrastination. So I have all this mental energy, all these ideas and I make notes, research, investigate and yet I’m not making things happen. The confidence has taken a knock and I have no idea why. The burnout tiredness hasn’t helped in one way and yet in another, the peace, quietness and reflection has me now full of this wonderful energy. So why I am not putting things into action? I can’t answer that. I don’t know why I have this fear of putting myself out there again and singing out. There is nothing to stop me, I have the equipment, I have the backing tracks and song lyrics and I have a voice yet I’m finding excuses not to do it. I’m encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone, take the leap of faith and make it happen and here I am finding myself back on the edges of my comfort zone, not making it happen.

Woman on a Mission

My physical tiredness is at last starting to ease so I have absolutely no excuse for not getting things done with my music. I have my new laptop now and I can recommence the Women In Music Tech course and learn how to use Ableton so that I can eventually record, mix and release my own music. I’m working with my guitar tutor on four songs I have written with a view to recording them in October. I have songs already recorded that I can release when I sort out the music aggregation so you see, I have it all in hand. Yes, in hand but not out there. I need to take a huge piece of my own advice and just go with it.

Getting out of my own way.

Yes I need to get out of my way and make things happen, it’s down to me and I can do this!!!

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Stepping Back

Well, it has been a total revelation to me, the amount of time I was spending messaging people, catching up with people, checking in with people, doorstep visits to people…you get the drift. I was spending a lot of time making sure other people were ok, how they were coping with various issues in their lives, did they need anything collected, the list goes on. I am a people person, I am happy to chat away, get to know people and help people if I can. The various lockdowns and restrictions have caused a lot of anxiety for people. We have all kept in touch virtually, thank God for the internet!! But until I was told by the Dr to take a step back from everything and look after myself, I had no idea exactly how much time everyday I was spending looking out for others and putting myself last.

You do you!

At first I felt very guilty stepping back but I was so tired out, it was all I could do to get up, shower and start my day. For someone usually so full of energy and on the go this was a tremendous change to the daily routine. I realised quickly that I didn’t need to check up on people daily, or even every other day, or even weekly. They were getting on very nicely without my input. Almost all of them have family members or other friends around them to call on. I have to be honest, some didn’t even notice I hadn’t been in touch. I had taken it upon myself to be there for friends, neighbours, friends of my parents and acquaintances and was happy to be there when needed. In the process I had worn myself out. Releasing myself from some contacts was difficult as I had become someone to let out all their woes to and no matter how hard I tried to turn a negative into a positive, they would turn it into a more negative conversation. I found this particularly draining but I did put myself first and step back from the situation. By trying to help some people, you actually end up adding to their issues as they keep talking about it and then you end up feeling awful too. It’s a fine balance I think between being there for someone and knowing when to step back so you are not drawn into their story. Lessons have been learned.

Be kind to yourself.

I also realised that some contacts weren’t happy with the reduction in contact not because they had anything wrong with them or needed help but because they no longer had access to me or what I was doing. Another revelation! People are nosey, who knew!!! I’ve always been a bit of an open book. My Dad often said to me that I didn’t need to tell certain people everything and not all those who pretend to be friends actually are friends. How right he was. I’ve always known this of course yet by stepping back to look after myself I was surprised that some contacts just wanted news. Honestly, I really don’t have that exciting a life…but I’m working on it!

Honour Yourself.

The huge positives of the stepping back is that I found I had lots of time to do me things. I caught up with housework which I know can be mundane but I actually enjoy it. Finding Mrs Hinch has been amazing for cleaning hacks. I caught up with outstanding administration which had been sat there awaiting action. I sat back and strummed my guitar and wrote some songs. I researched and ordered my new laptop for my music course so that I can download and learn how to use Ableton (Digital Audio Software) go me!! I got out in the garden when the weather allowed and pottered about out there. I was careful not to overload myself with a heavy ‘To Do’ list. If I was tired, I slept. I am so happy to report that apart from still being physically tired, mentally the stress, overwhelm and constant feeling of needing to do something, has gone. I feel so at peace, relaxed and open again. I have fully understood now how important it is to look after yourself especially as we get older. All the time I was spending on other things and other people was preventing me from doing what I wanted to do, because I just didn’t have time. This epiphany has been very welcome indeed. Life has changed so much in the past two years for me and yet it is only now that I am emerging and seeing my life as my life. It’s time for me to do what I want to do. I can still be there for people, help people and support people, I just need to remember to put my boundaries in place and look after me first. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from a empty cup.

Self Care Matters

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Birthdays

A beautiful hot, sunny month of July, well mostly hot and sunny, and it was my birthday month and it feels like I celebrated my birthday for most of the month. Perhaps we have all gone a little celebration crazy after all the lockdown birthday’s of the past year or so. I have to say I am so lucky and so blessed that I have such lovely people around me who wanted to meet up, celebrate, talk, laugh, cry and generally re-connect. I have kept my social circle quite small especially as I am supporting himself with his Mom. I don’t want to take any risks with her health. I have my stock of lateral flow tests and anytime I see anyone, I take a test a few days later to protect anyone I may see as well as myself. So far so good, all negative.

Because of my extreme tiredness, all social dates were very well spaced out which is probably why I feel I was celebrating all month long. There was birthday cakes, prosecco, pizza, barbecue’s, prosecco, beautiful cards and gifts, more prosecco…you get the picture. It was just wonderful, all of it, absolutely wonderful and I loved every second and felt very loved by everyone involved in giving me such a fabulous birthday. I am so grateful and blessed, the sparkle was in full sparkle mode.

These are just a few photo’s of my celebrations on various days. The birthday, in the pink manicure, the beautiful blue skies and sunset. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of my five cousins who spoiled me so much as they aren’t on social media at all so I haven’t posted my snaps with them. I probably do enough social media for all of them!

Needless to say, additional weight was gained during this glorious month of celebration and I enjoyed every single mouthful. My clothes are bursting at the seams post lockdown and birthday so time to get my act together regarding goodies and exercise and let’s get this sparkle show back on the road again.

Here we go again!

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Burnout

The weekend after our quick trip to Broad Haven I was tired. This was no normal tiredness, it was completely debilitating tiredness. Having a shower meant sitting down afterwards for at least twenty minutes to get some energy back. This was unknown tiredness for me. Only five days earlier I had been uphill and down dale on a very long coastal walk. Weeks earlier I was out every other day for a thirty minute run. Now a shower was wearing me out? This tiredness continued into the following week along with irritation with music. MUSIC!!!! Music was irritating me!!! I had little or no interest in anything, I didn’t even go online – a sure sign I wasn’t right if I hadn’t made a trip to Instagram! I was that tired I couldn’t travel to himself to support him in looking after his Mom. This was tiredness on a whole other level.

The world kept turning and I got off for a while.

After a week I spoke with the lovely Doctor who had looked after my parents, he knew me well and it meant I didn’t have to tell my history as he already knew it. He arranged for a whole raft of blood tests as it has been quite some years since I had been to see a Dr. I explained that my Vitiligo appeared to have increased significantly. I had been told I was very pale when in fact it was the Vitiligo spreading on my face. All blood tests were fine which is great. So what was causing this tiredness? The Dr felt burnout was to blame. The double trauma of losing both parents so close together and having to re-start life, to then have lockdown’s and to commence caring for someone else would, he felt, take it’s toll mentally and physically. Alongside this I am trying to get my music career going, support a number of other people with various issues they are suffering, doorstep visits to people who needed support, plus the day to day house and garden maintenance and trying to keep up with phone calls, emails and messages. I was overwhelmed with everything, I was getting nothing done for myself and my body had spoken. Enough was enough.

You don’t have to do everything.

So, the plan of action is to slow right down and concentrate on priorities. As the Dr said, real life happens and we have to keep going up to a point. I put himself, his Mom and me and my work as the priorities and everything else can wait. I have slowed right down on everything else. We find it so hard to say no don’t we? As things are opening up I had more and more people asking for lunch dates, coffee dates, call in for a drink. I’m very lucky to be blessed with so many people who want to see me but I’m not ready to return to what used to be. The last eighteen months has been a revaluation of life, not just for me I know, it has affected all of us. I have rarely put myself first and maybe it is time I did. I found that I was spending so much time on other things I wasn’t getting the things done that I really needed to and that was overwhelming me. This has been hard for me as I am always so full of energy and on the go. I haven’t experienced debilitating tiredness like this since 2019 and the loss of my parents. The difference this time is that I go to bed and sleep almost immediately and straight through until morning and wake up shattered.

Let it go…

Taking time out for me has been a revelation. I caught up on outstanding admin and emails – oh what a feeling! I started to do a few tasks within the house and garden and that felt good, as you know I love getting out in the garden. It was my birthday in July and I had some lovely celebrations with my cousins and close friends (post to follow). I have listened to podcasts, read my book, had a manicure, made some headway in my songwriting and planning my business. I feel in control of me again and that feels so good. I am no longer overwhelmed and I am learning to put me first for a change. Himself said to me recently that it’s my time and I have to use it for what I want to do and not what anyone else wants or expects me to do. That resonated with me. I spent so many years not thinking of me at all, or doing anything that I wanted to do because I was a full time carer, I’m just not used to putting me first. I have no regrets at being a carer, I am at peace that I did everything I could. Now is my time. I don’t know how much time I have so perhaps I will be kinder to myself from now on.

Resetting my boundaries.

Taking things slower is helping. I’m still tired but nothing like I was a month ago. There are things I can do to help my body repair. Healthy diet, build up my exercise again, listen to my body and not push myself, rest when I need to. I’m thinking of documenting my journey back to full energy as it may help somebody going through a similar thing. I know from various messages I received that my blog posts as a carer helped. It helps me to write it down too and in a way, as I have lockdown weight and more to get rid of, makes me accountable too. Life can be tough and we are very hard on ourselves. We can’t fix everyone, we can’t support everyone, we can’t be there for everyone but we must be there for ourself. We can’t help anyone unless we are replenishing our own soul.

Rest Yourself.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Comfort and Perspective

Is it just me or does anyone else find themselves changing as they get older? I don’t mean in looks or body shape but in what makes you comfortable. I have discovered that I see things from a different perspective and I’m not sure if that’s a new me breaking through with the value of life experience or if this is part of the old me breaking through once more. Perhaps it is a little of both. As my caring journey unfolded it was very much that I didn’t really exist as the priority was my parents. My life was completely on hold and I have no issue with that at all. It was a requirement of the role I was carrying out in looking after them. It’s taking a little time and now I feel bits of the old me coming back and also the lessons that life has taught and continues to teach me as my life progresses.

I think too that the various lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic has also changed my perspective on life and perhaps this too is because the pandemic arrived quite quickly after my parents passed away so it was a continuous transition. I’ve written in earlier blog posts that I found the lockdown healing and therapeutic and I know that I am very lucky in that as for a lot of people the lockdown was soul destroying, isolating and disruptive to their lives. Maybe because I hadn’t been out of the house very much during the caring years, I was used to a type of home lockdown and I was able to adapt better than a lot of people.

This past two years for me has been a period of ongoing evaluation. It’s very difficult when life changes suddenly and life as you knew it just stops. I know that I found my strength and independence from within. I realised that I had been taught to be that way by my parents and family. It’s now that I feel I am emerging and although I am the same I’m also very different. I know that doesn’t make sense and yet it does. My core values remain the same; honesty, trust, love, truth, kindness and laughter. I also realise that I need to be a little more selfish with my time. This is now my time. I have no real commitments a I did before so it’s down to me to make my choices and spend my time wisely. None of us know how long we have here.

Love this.

I have stepped away from toxic and negative people so that I have peace in my life. Social media has been wonderful for connecting me to some wonderful people. Authors, musicians, poets, dancers, artists and beautiful, kind hearted, warm kindred spirits. People who support you, who you support and cheer on. Deep conversations are held as are lighthearted chats about shows on TV or Netflix. It’s all good and it’s all happy. There is no pressure, no arguments, just pleasure.

People make life beautiful.

I spend time with himself and help to care of his Mom. I see my cousins and a couple of very close friends and I’m happy with that. My perspective as the social butterfly that I was pre carer role has completely changed and I’m comfortable with that. Maybe because I am getting older and have experienced various life lessons, I truly understand about the little things meaning so much. I know that this is my time to push my comfort zone, work hard and follow my passion. I am comfortable with that thought even though somedays it’s scares me so much. I know deep down I will love it.

Exactly!

Be comfortable in your life but keep pushing that comfort zone to experience all you can. Look at things from a different perspective, you just don’t know what you may find. Life is for living so make sure you live every single day. Be a little selfish with your time and do what sets your soul on fire.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Running, Again

Yes and once again, the mood attacked me to start running again. You may remember I shocked everyone who knew me, none more so than my parents and himself, that I completed Couch to 5K (C25K) in 2016 and also completed the 5K Race for Life for Cancer Research in a very respectable 38 minutes and then I didn’t run again. Until last year. As lockdown descended three of my cousins and myself started C25K, completed it and then continued to go running until around September when the weather really changed. We are fair-weather runners.

During the Winter I kept fit by going for walks and working out with Lucy Wyndham Read https://www.lwrfitness.com/ Great workouts, all abilities and various lengths of workouts. I really enjoy doing my Lucy’s. This year I decided once again to download the C25K app and get running. The thought of the longer runs filled me with dread. Positive thinking I thought, you’ve done this before, you can do it again. The positive thought was also the negative one, I was going to have to do the long runs again. I have to say though, I felt stronger and fitter this year working my way through the nine weeks and was just delighted with myself that I completed the training.

Like a complete beetroot when I get home after the thirty minutes, I ache and I feel great for getting out there and doing it. Like walking, your mind wanders, your thought process is clear, solutions to issues are mulled over and for me, thoughts on what I want to do and what I need to do to manifest my life and my dreams. Most times I was up and out in the morning for the training and now the runs. It’s quieter and I can feel a tad self conscious as I’m not fast at all, just steady. A few times I went out mid evening once the rush hour had passed. On a beautiful evening or an early morning, the sheer exhilaration that I’m out running, getting fitter and helping my body just feels so good.

I used the NHS C25K app https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/ and I’m now using the NHS C25K Stepping Stones podcast https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-plus-running-podcasts/ which is for graduates of the C25K training plan. You do need to build up week by week and not go straight to the longer runs or you do run the risk of hurting yourself. I’m hoping that I can keep the running up this time. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I hate getting out of the door to do it and love it when I’m in my stride and that feel good factor when in return.

In other news, I did the shopping…well there was a special offer at the supermarket and you know all those memes we see that say “I run because I love chocolate, pizza and wine”, yep, that’s me.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Nature Heals

As they say in Ireland, the weather has been cat. From the snow in February to a very cold and windy March and April with the odd warm sunny day. The wettest May for decades and then, at last in June some sunny warm days which meant I was able to get out in the garden. Long time readers of my blog will know that during lockdown last year I got outside and tackled a very overgrown and neglected garden and I fell in love with gardening. Whatever you do out there you get instant results to sit back and look at and be proud of. From lawn mowing to weeding, planting seeds or plants, it is just lovely to get out there and work and let your mind roam wherever it pleases. I find it very therapeutic and healing.

It was like a jungle out there. The grass was so long, the Willow tree was not blooming at it should (the Willow saga continues) and as for weeds…OMG absolutely everywhere and growing fast. I got stuck in and over a three days period which made my body feel as if I had been doing continuous squats, and crawling up the stairs to bed, I did make some headway. I’m learning that no matter how much you do in the garden you are never on top of the work. It really is a work in progress and I really do love it.

I love this Camelia, unfortunately almost as soon as it blooms the rain comes and knocks the blooms to the floor. I also love Viola’s and my hanging basket has looked lovely so far this year.

Obsessed with the Snowball tree this year. I don’t think I have ever seen it bloom as beautifully before. I have had to get the Willow Tree partially cut back, in the hope that it will grow back stronger. By cutting the tree back it let a lot more light and space into the area below it and the Snowball Tree has thrived.

Finally, after over twelve months, I managed to get a garden storage box, WHOOP! There was a huge shortage because lots of people took up gardening last year. I had a busy afternoon planting plus my neighbour gave me two tomato plants. I am growing potatoes, garlic, spinach, dwarf green beans, beetroot and radish. Out of view is a gooseberry bush which my neighbour gave me last year. I didn’t think it would survive the Winter but it did and is actually blooming, fingers crossed.

The Shamrock has gone crazy with the sun, heat and rain, looks beautiful though. Me, tired out after a day gardening.

I grew these!!

I planted two halves of a spud in February and yielded fifty small potatoes in early June. They tasted amazing. I have planted some more now for harvesting in September. I honestly can’t believe I’m gardening and growing, or having a go, at growing my own vegetables. It’s very satisfying and I do find that ideas for my music flow whilst I’m out there and my mind is uncluttered and free.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Perfect Time To Be Happy

At last, with vaccinations, restrictions being lifted at various times and a new normal way of life happening it has been just lovely to get out and about a little more. I have to admit that I personally think I was very lucky in the lockdown period. Caring for my parents meant that I was more or less in a lockdown situation for four years. I had just started to venture out and about again when the real lockdown arrived. I was more or less used to not going anywhere socially or even shopping although as usual the minute you are told you can’t do something, you want to do it even more.

Anyway, back to this year and things getting a little easier and days that the sun has shone so brightly and it has felt warm outside. I had a lovely afternoon catching up with my cousins in their garden and it felt like a holiday. So good to see them in person rather than on video calls. Yes, there was Prosecco.

There were a couple of birthday’s amongst the neighbours so I set to baking some cakes. My Mom and my Sister were fantastic cake bakers and I was always just awful. The sponge never rose for me, more like a biscuit base than Victoria Sponge. However in the last couple of years my cake baking has improved. I like to think Mom passed it to me. One of these days I’ll have to bake one of these for himself so that I can have the odd slice. Not even I could finish a whole cake!!

Between the global pandemic, losing my parents and helping himself to care for his Mom who has Vascular Dementia I have realised that what my Dad used to say to me on a regular basis is so true. Life is for living, don’t take life too seriously and the time to be happy is now. I am at peace with my choices, I am free and I have been told that I make people happy with my music, my posts and my random Instagram chats. This makes me happy. I know we all have duties, obligations and worries but we also have life and we owe it to ourselves to be happy and make someone else happy if we can.

Be Happy.

Do something everyday that makes you happy. Now is the perfect time to be happy.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Moving On

Life changes and we have to make changes and however difficult they are, we just have to get stuck in and do things, make things happen. Otherwise we remain stagnant and this makes it all the more difficult to move on. In the grand scheme of things I’m moving on slowly, in my own time and sorting things out when I’m in the right frame of mind to do things. This post as you will have noticed is very much focused on “things’ and in a way, that’s exactly what this post is about. Clearing out things, possessions, material items because although we may have an emotional attachment to them, they can never touch in depth the feeling of love or the memories we hold of those who have themselves, moved on.

Memories and Love.

I am of course talking about my parents clothes and other possessions. It has only been in the past months that I have felt in any way ready to move anything, donate items to charity or throw things away. Being practical I know that it’s the right thing to do to go through the various drawers, cupboards and presses. Sometimes I can be quite quick and decisive, I find something and know straight away whether to bin, donate or keep. Other times I have to sit and relive memories before I can let things go. I have donated almost all of Dad’s clothes to a local charity run by the church which gives clothes and food to people with nothing and to help refugees in our city to get on their feet and make a life. I have made a very slow start on Mom’s wardrobe and for some bizarre reason have managed to donate a lot of my own things!

A random weekend that himself managed to be over with me, we cleared out what was Dad’s room. I have decided to decorate it and make it into my music studio/office. Deep down I have the feeling Dad would be happy with that decision. It was hard moving out the furniture and I was overwhelmed with sadness when the charity came to collect it yet there was also this feeling that a family somewhere would benefit from these items and that was a good feeling. My parents were very giving, it is the right thing to do,

They are just things.

There’s a lot of work to do to get the music room ready and I will enjoy transforming it.

I’m mindful of the fact that should something happen to me, himself would have to come and go through everything and that would be hard enough with just my clutter never mind having to deal with my parents possessions. So I am being practical. I know that these tasks need to be done and I know that I am the best person to do them. It doesn’t make it easy and somedays are better than others at doing these tasks. I’m getting there. It does feel very liberating to go through paperwork that has been filed away for years and clear it out and vow not to let that happen again…yeah right, we all say it and it still piles up.

So moving on. It’s difficult, it’s easy, it’s emotional, it’s sad, it’s liberating, it’s happy, it’s any number of feelings all at once. Most of all for me, it’s healing. I can look back on the memories with happiness and feel blessed that I have such wonderful memories and that cannot be taken away from me.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Snow Days

We haven’t had a real good snowfall in years. The last one I remember was in 2017 and my Dad thought I had gone mad as I got all wrapped up and headed out for a walk in the snow that day. We are very lucky in The Midlands area of England as we appear to escape the extremes of weather that hit other areas. I was delighted when a few weeks back I woke to find it snowing quite heavily and that it was settling on the ground. Oh it looked so beautiful. Yes, I was up and out walking in it and it was magical. Hardly anyone around due to lockdown restrictions, no cars disturbing the snow on the roads and the wonderful sounds of children playing in the gardens with their parents. It was almost silent in places as the snow fell. As you would expect of me, never without the phone in case of photo opportunities, here are my photos of my walk and a celebration of St Bridget’s Day in Ireland, Imbloc and Groundhog Day!

With love and sparkles xxx