Life Sparkles ✨

Going Live

Regular readers of my blog and those that follow me on social media will know that during our first lockdowns last year, I took the plunge and started to sing into my phone and post the songs online. I finally got my website sorted out and published it and I started a Facebook page specifically for the music sprinkled with positive quotes. I’ve been delighted with all the love and support I have received and all the positive comments, shares and visits have really given me more confidence to keep doing what I’m doing.

About three weeks ago I received a message on my music page from a lady who runs a music group on Facebook. She asked me if I would do a live set for them. Holy moly!!! Fear seized me, then excitement, swiftly followed by more fear. I was stunned. Delighted but stunned. Well I had to say yes didn’t I? This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something I have never done before. I have never done a Facebook live and I have never, ever, ever sang live in public. It’s one thing to sing into my phone and post it online but to sing live!!!!

Practicing the songs for the live event.

So I said yes and arranged the date with her. I go live on Sunday 21st February at 4 pm GMT in The Virtual Bar. I have been practicing nine songs for the half hour set. I wasn’t sure how many I would need and if I start chatting, then I may only need one or two!!! Best to be prepared and have more than enough. I’m very grateful to this lady for giving me the opportunity to sing live and push my boundaries, as scary as it may be. I need to do it.

I’ve been reading a lot over the past months about Law of Attraction and I have watched the film The Secret. It’s so interesting the concept of asking for, working towards and manifesting what you want. Since I was a child I have imagined myself on stage singing. I was in my bedroom as a teenager singing away to my records and working out my dance moves. I lost most, if not all, of that creativity and enthusiasm as life unfolded and I wandered up and down different paths. When I gave up work to look after my parents, their Doctor said I needed to have something for me to escape and unwind with. Back came the music. Now life has guided me down another path and the music has become my main focus. I’m forever thinking of songs, drafting lyrics, dancing in the kitchen and yes again, visualising myself on a stage singing. Especially over these past months when I’ve been posting songs online. Is it possible that I am manifesting my dream?

February has opened up an opportunity for me. I’m pushing myself outside of the comfort zone. I’ll let you know how it goes.

February Love.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Get Your Healthy Sparkle On

January 2021. New Year, new start and yes we’ve all been here before. We have such great enthusiasm when we start anything new and it takes real determination to keep the momentum going. Whether it’s diet, exercise, work, a new project, you need to have real passion to see it through.

Over the past years since I have been writing my blog I’m sure I have written in January or even mid way through the year about heathy starts, eating well, moving more. And yes, I’m a prime example of someone with the best of intentions that falls off the wagon all the time and you know what, it doesn’t matter. I never give up. At some point I will try again.

Whilst I was a carer for my parents I lost weight, I was on the go all the time but I wasn’t what you would call fit and probably not healthy as I grabbed at snacks to keep going. When I lost both parents in 2019 I lost a lot of weight and I looked awful. There I said it. I did, I looked dreadful. Skinny doesn’t suit me. Then I started the chocolate and prosecco diet and after a while (because you can only get away with these things for so long) the weight piled on.

Last year during the first lockdown of the pandemic, my cousins and I completed the Couch to 5K training. We would all have a Zoom call to discuss how our “run” had gone that day and we were super proud to have completed it. You know from previous blog posts that I started gardening and that kept me active. At the end of August my cousin suggested a fitness trainer on YouTube so I investigated. Oh wow, this lady has changed my perception of working out. I love her workouts. There is something for everyone regardless of age, ability or whatever area you may be targeting to full workouts. The workouts are from 3 minutes to 30 minutes and I love them. I’m fitter, more flexible, toned and the workout has become a habit. Lucy Wyndham-Read is motivational and for me and many others, has revolutionised working out. https://www.youtube.com/user/LWRFitnessChannel/featured (The photo above is me post workout).

As the weather changed and I wasn’t out gardening, running or even walking so much plus I was now caring part time for a lady with vascular dementia, once again the snacking and food intake increased. I wasn’t exactly gaining additional weight as the workouts daily were obviously keeping things in balance but I did become mindful of what I was eating. One account that I follow on Instagram, Derek in the Kitchen, had a story about Nutracheck. Like the majority of us he was fed up with various diet plans, restrictions, fasting etc etc and just wanted to see values of what he was eating. This was exactly what I wanted. I eat lots of fruit and vegetables but am I getting my five a day? I drink lots of water but is it enough? Bananas have more calories than a glass of Prosecco? Really? Yes!!!!

I signed up for three months and it has opened my eyes to what I’m eating. I don’t appear to eat a lot of fats or foods with salt. I do eat a lot of carbohydrates and my sugar intake is off the scale. There appears to be sugar in so many foods! Over Christmas I enjoyed the goodies. The cakes, chocolates, nibbles and yes, the fizz. I don’t feel guilty, I had what I wanted to eat. I had a couple of walks, I didn’t work out, I had a restful holiday season. https://www.nutracheck.co.uk/Home

I wrote a post on Instagram last week about healthy eating, working out, getting fitter and everything in moderation. It really resonated with people. I had loads of messages from people saying that they too were fed up with the usual diets, food restrictions, starving themselves. I decided last year during the first lockdown that I would never diet again, life is just too short not to have what you enjoy. Just have it in moderation.

I’m not counting calories, I’m mindful of what I eat. I’m drinking more water, I’m back on the daily workouts, I have my treats and I’m getting fitter, healthier and toning up. I’ve signed up for the Country Walking Magazine #Walk1000Miles2021 challenge. https://www.walk1000miles.co.uk/ I’m off to a slow start but it is only January.

We can do this. We can get fitter, healthier and more active. Some small changes go a long way. Are you with me? Get your sparkle on!

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Hopes and Dreams

Get Ready…Go!

I appear to be full of hopes, dreams and plans for this new year ahead. I have such a positive vibe going on as I write this blog. I have my down days, where the memories fall out of my eyes and down my cheeks. January is now a tough month for me as much as I enjoy the month itself. This year it will be two years since my Daddy passed and I still relive various days over and over. Yet this year, amongst the sadness there is a huge appreciation of the blessings I had with my parents and gratitude for everything they gave me especially my independent spirit and ability to see things through.

So this year, lets see what I can make happen, what I can manifest and how much sparkle I can share. There will be good days, bad days and days that truly shine. We really are never too old to follow a dream, to take a chance, to grab and opportunity. Here’s to an amazing 2021 to us all, a year of hope, togetherness and moving on.

Winter clouds, moving on.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

2021 A New Chapter

Well here we are once again at the end of another year and what a year it has been. Who could have imagined this time last year that we were about to enter a global pandemic and all the changes that has made to our lives. Is there anyone on earth untouched in some way by Covid-19? Absolutely everything changed. All the things we did on a daily basis and took for granted were stopped. It was a shock to our system, our very being and yet here we are, on the brink of another new year. The year has sped by. For all the restrictions, lockdowns and changes, we find ourselves with Christmas over and the New Year just about to start.

New Year, New Start

We start the year full of hope. We have vaccines rolling out and we live in the anticipation that by Summer 2021 things will have returned to more of what we used to call normal life. The scientists and medics have worked so hard to discover and test the vaccines. Our front line workers have experienced a year like no other and sadly, some of us have lost family or friends to the virus. But we still have hope. We have made the best of what we have had this year. We have had technology to help us keep in contact with family and friends, to continue working, to shop, to workout and to binge watch TV shows. We have come together to support each other, help each other, think of each other and be more community minded.

Life changes, so do we.

2020 has been a period of reset for me. In an earlier blog post I wrote that I found lockdown peaceful, healing and therapeutic and I still feel that way. I have appreciated everything a lot more, what I had, what I lost and what I have gained. Lockdown and restrictions have given me a different life and a different outlook on life. I am at peace and comfortable with myself and what I want to do. During lockdown I did new things; gardening, singing into the phone and posting the videos online, chatting away on Instagram and it has been so lovely to receive positive feedback for sharing the sparkles.

I have always loved the month of January. I know some people find it a little bleak after all the festivities of December. I have always found it cleansing, exciting and the new broom of the year. Sweeping away the old year to make room for the new. I wish you all a very happy New Year full of happiness, good health and return to what we used to deem “Normal Life”.

January.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Merry Christmas

I want to wish you all a very happy, holy, blessed and hopeful Christmas. Thank you for all your support this year as I returned to the online world, restarted blogging, became an Instagram diva (😂) and started singing into my phone during lockdown to spread a little musical happiness which in turn has given me so much confidence. Whatever your plans, your hopes and dreams, I hope that the magic of Christmas touches your heart and that the sparkle of Christmas gives you the warmth of Christmas magic.

Merry Christmas.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Preparations

This year we are all experiencing a very different Christmas due to the various restrictions in place, the ever changing restrictions to protect us from Covid-19. Personally this Christmas feels different anyway. Last year I think I was numb with the pain of loss and I got through everyday surrounded by my amazing cousins and a wonderful best friend. This year I can actually feel the pain of the loss. However, as weird as it may sound, because everyone else is having a very different Christmas, I don’t feel alone. We really are all in this together. I have done a little bit of decorating and preparing, of course I have, I love that Christmas sparkle and if we can’t sparkle at this time of year, when can we?

Himself buys me an Advent Candle every year.
The large Christmas Tree hasn’t been up for years so I decided to decorate it this year and have it in my Christmas Song Videos.
Mom and I bought this Door Wreath a long time ago, I decided to hang it up this year.
Cappuccino and mince pies – yummy
Dragged out the vintage apron and started baking.
Some very old cake decorations that were my Mom’s alongside some newer ones of mine.
A Chocolate Christmas Cake I made for my lovely neighbours who look out for me everyday.
A Christmas Wreath to hang up on Christmas Eve with himself.
Another Chocolate Christmas Cake for friends of my parents.
One for my parents and one for my sister celebrating Christmas in heaven.
Love Came Down at Christmas.

Are you all prepared for Christmas? What plans do you have? Small Christmas bubbles are in this year. Thank God for technology, Zoom calls, and being able to speak to our friends and family online. Yes it will be a different Christmas yet it is still Christmas. Christmas is a time for hope and joy and that’s something we all need right now. So make the most of what you have and be sure to enjoy the sparkle of this beautiful season and hopefully, next Christmas will be better for us all.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Autumn falls away to Winter

I was out walking again. I was south of the city, close to where I was born and brought up. It still feels like home in the south although I have lived north of the city for a very long time.

Autumn was just ending and Winter was taking hold. It was a very chilly and beautiful afternoon and it felt so good to be wrapped up and in the fresh air. The colours around me were stunning so of course, out came the phone and I took a few pictures.

Love the Sun through the trees.
Autumn leaves 🍁
Stunning Autumnal colours.
Late afternoon in the burbs.
Winter approaches.

I’m sure onlookers think I’m crazy looking up to the sky with the phone in the air. Perhaps they think I’m taking a selfie! I just cannot resist these kind of scenes.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

A Random Weekend

After many months apart due to Covid-19, we formed our bubble in early August. Himself is shielding his Mom and so we have to be very careful with our contacts which is why I have barely come out of lockdown myself. Earlier this month he was able to take a break and he spent the weekend with me. We ate junk food, drank wine, watched films and as the weather was great we had a very long walk. It was such a happy and wonderful weekend. These are things we took for granted before the pandemic, now these are treasured, special, magical times.

Himself does make the best pancakes…I had the blueberry one.

Beautiful afternoon for a very long walk, I ached. It’s been a long time since I walked 9 miles.

It was such a simple, happy and sparkling weekend. It was so good to spend some time together not working, not in a caring role, not carrying out domestic duties, but real quality time where we just had to concentrate on ourseleves. No plans, no stress, no deadlines. Just time to relax and just be. One of the many lessons I have learned over the past two years is to value the small things, take time to enjoy the simple things and to spend time with loved ones when you can. It could be some time before we get this opportunity again, it was over in a flash and yet we felt refreshed and ready to tackle the world again.

With love and sparkles xx

Life Sparkles ✨

The First Christmas

I was dreading Christmas 2019. The first one without my parents. It wasn’t the best Christmas in 2018 however we were together and we made the most of the time together. I have been lucky enough to always spend Christmas with my Mom and Dad. When I lived away from home I was always back for Christmas Day. I couldn’t imagine things any other way.

As I look back on Christmas 2019 I truly believe I was still in a state of shock, numbness. I cried a lot yet it felt as if I felt nothing which I know is hard to understand. I wasn’t going to put any Christmas decorations up at all, my heart wasn’t in it. Mom and I would always undertake this task with Dad on hand for the more difficult tasks; the places we couldn’t reach. My bereavement counsellor suggested I look at things a bit differently, do what I feel would be right to do in memory of and in honour of my parents. Himself said that as I love sparkle so much perhaps I could put up a few sparkly items so that Christmas isn’t totally missed within the home. I decided to put up the old Christmas tree in the porch for Mom and Dad. They had this tree since they got married in 1960 and it had been put up every year since. I was happy to do that.

The Old Christmas Tree from 1960

Christmas 2018 I had purchased a small fibre optic tree because Mom was in the hospital bed in the lounge. There wasn’t any room for our usual Christmas tree. So last year I put the small one up again, with some sparkle on the window sill and a photo of Mom and Dad underneath.

A touch of Christmas Sparkle.

I attended Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve which Fr Michael was offering for Mom and Dad. I had many tears hearing the beautiful hymns and carols what we had sang all my life. The church looked so beautiful in the stillness of the midnight hour and hearing the bells ringing out for Christmas was just heartbreaking and yet healing.

The church was adorned with Christmas wreaths.
How beautiful the altar looked.
The Baptismal Font in all its Christmas glory.

This year is going to be a very different Christmas for everyone because of the Covid-19 global pandemic. We are all under various restrictions about what we can and can’t do, where we can and can’t go and the message everywhere about staying safe, washing hands, keeping a social distance and looking after ourselves and others. Things we previously took for granted will not happen this year. However, we must do our best to stay positive. We must celebrate Christmas in some way, in each household, as before. Whether we have many internet calls, social media pictures, videos of sparkling lights or candles lit. Glasses of good cheer or hot chocolate with cream. We have to make the most of the Christmas holidays during these strange days. Don’t let this wonderful time pass us by. Christmas is a time of celebration, of hope and joy. We must hope that when Christmas 2020 arrives that we are looking at a brighter, happier and more positive 2021.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Graduation

Long time readers of my blog may remember that when I was working and looking after my parents, I was also studying for a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care with the Open University. http://www.open.ac.uk/ I graduated in July 2017 and I was scheduled to attend my graduation ceremony in October 2017. Unfortunately on the day of the event my Mom wasn’t well and I couldn’t attend.

I was re-scheduled to attend the following October however my Mom was in hospital and I was staying with her in the hospital and I therefore missed the ceremony. I contacted the Open University to explain why I had missed this second ceremony and they were very supportive of my situation and arranged for me to re-book for October 2019. Little did I know that by then I would have lost both of my parents.

As graduation day drew closer I really didn’t feel like going at all. The two people who had gone through all the studying with me, read all my assignments, revised for exams with me weren’t here anymore. Himself, my cousins and my friends all told me to attend. After so much studying and having to cancel twice before it would be a shame to not go and celebrate my achievement and that Mom and Dad would be watching from above, so proud of me.

I was allowed one guest at the ceremony so himself was with me. It felt amazing to be amongst all these people of various ages who had all managed to study and pass a degree in all manner of subjects whilst working, bringing up a family, caring for someone or suffering ill health themselves. It wasn’t a straight laced and staid event, it was full of fun, laughter and shared community spirit. Afterwards there was glasses of Prosecco to celebrate and you know how much I love fizz!

We then met up with my wonderful cousins for a fabulous celebration afternoon tea at The Ivy in Birmingham. https://theivybirmingham.com/ followed by cocktails at The Cosy Club https://cosyclub.co.uk/location/birmingham/ which was a favourite haunt of mine when I worked in the city. It was an unexpectedly wonderfully happy day and although I did shed a few tears, I really did feel the presence of my parents.

Ever the poser…
I really did do it!!!
I may have enjoyed more than one glass.

With love and sparkles xxx