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

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Music Diva

It has been a while since I blogged about what I’m doing with my music. If you don’t follow me on Instagram or FB you won’t have seen my various leaps of faith over the past year. You may remember that I had started to learn to play guitar. My sessions were very start and stop due to my caring role and then the sudden passing of my parents last year. I returned to the vocal coaching and guitar sessions towards the end of last year. Just before lockdown was imposed here in the UK, my guitar tutor informed me that he felt I was ready to attend an acoustic night and feel the waters of performing live. I was happy I was finally at that stage of my learning and I was also so scared. The thought of actually getting up on stage to sing and play guitar…absolutely terrifying. And then came lockdown, great weather and the gardening.

Leap of faith time.

As lockdown ensured all live gigs were cancelled, social media, especially FB, was alive with people performing. Singing, playing instruments, comedy sketches, art work, you get the drift. I decided that now was the perfect time to try some of this for myself. How hard could it be to sing into the phone? Actually, it was nerve wracking. The number of times I had to say to myself “you don’t have to post this online, it’s just a practice run”. Sometimes it took hours to sing and record a song. I would lose my way in the song (sometimes I get carried away with the melody and forget the lyrics). Sometimes I forget to come in at the right point in the song, sometimes I sing in the wrong key. I can tell I’m going to be a very interesting act when the time comes.

I made a start and my first effort sounded ok (I’m terrible at self praise), I looked like a statue on the video. My friends all gave very positive comments and messaged me to say “why aren’t you smiling?” or “why aren’t you moving?”. It was difficult enough for me to stand there and sing into the phone, remember the lyrics and come in at the right point of the intro never mind move or smile.

However, each song I sang I became a little more confident. I shared my songs to various groups on Facebook and I was blown away with the amount of views and lovely comments I would receive. I started to receive messages with requests and I’m making my way through the list. I’m so enjoying that people want to hear me sing!

I have a wobble now and again, a crisis of confidence, wonder what on earth I’m doing, think that I’m not good enough. Then I have a word with myself and tell myself to just go for it, do what makes me happy and if I want to sing, play guitar and be sparkly then I should just do it. It’s so easy to measure yourself against what someone else is doing, or how others appear to get shared everywhere and I’m plodding along. But plodding along is good, I have a lot to learn about the music industry and how it works and what I need to do, the next steps. I’ll get there. A lovely lady once said to me to take the long road up the mountain, the scenic view, it’ll be better for me when I reach the top.

Another piece of advice I was given is about believing in myself because if I didn’t, nobody else would.

It’s up to me to do this!!

I have written some songs which I am working on with my guitar tutor. It really is the most amazing feeling to hear the music that was in my head come to life. I’m loving practising the songs on the guitar. We are even talking about getting into the studio next Spring and recording a CD. This is the stuff dreams are made of, well that my dreams are made of.

Find me on https://www.facebook.com/DawnMaxwellMusic

Or https://www.instagram.com/aurora_sparkles/

Not forgetting https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVHLg_2erVoITLESQY5trTw?

With love and sparkles xx

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

Life Sparkles ✨

Planning

I love lists. I love making lists. I have lists for everything. I appear to have amassed a number of notebooks over the past twelve months for various things. There’s the notebook for house administration, a notebook for things to do in the house, a separate book I purchased all beautifully sectioned out to keep track of house cleaning activities. I have a notepad for my new found gardening “to do” lists. There’s a book on the kitchen counter with the week ahead activity lists and any telephone calls I need to make. Yes I am officially a crazy list woman!

When I was working I had a diary on my desk where I recorded the daily, weekly, monthly tasks and kept a track of what was needed to be done. I had a similar one at home. The sudden, life changing events of last year turned my brain to mush and as such my organisational skills were kaput. I found a blank notebook in a drawer last November and started to record what I was doing on a daily basis. I was attempting to restore some order to my life, to keep track of myself and very slowly it started to work. I felt more control over myself and what I was doing.

I was also recording what I was eating. On the whole I was fairly good with my diet; some days I was bad with my diet and I just went with the flow. Getting myself back to me was more important to me than any lack of fitness or weight gain. I’m a lover of Instagram, my newsfeed is full of lovely people, positivity, sparkle and lots and lots of things I want to buy…that’s a whole other blog post!

When lockdown hit in March it caused another revaluation on my life. I decided that life was far too short too be worrying about diets and that I should just eat healthy 80% of the time and have some treats along the way, in moderation. That it was important to move more, get active, look after my heart, lungs and brain. Yes, that’s another blog post also.

I noticed on Instagram that a number of people were purchasing a box from Nonna Diary https://nonnadiary.com/ mostly to track what they were eating as they were following various diet plans. People were raving about this box of goodies arriving and in the end, after much visits to the website, I gave in and bought myself one.

My Nonna Diary Box

Oh was I thrilled when it arrived. A personalised diary for tracking what you eat, your water intake, your exercise, goals for the week or month which do not have to be diet related, your own general goals can be recorded here. Lots of motivational quotes, a notebook, a shopping list pad, a to do list pad, a pen, a lovely shopping bag, a wishing bracelet…you get my drift. I love these kind of things and I have used it everyday to track myself, motivate myself, dream big and allow myself to be without pressure. I set goals for the week and check at the end of the week on what I achieved and what I didn’t achieve and why didn’t I. This is helping me to keep engaged with me, it’s getting my brain back into gear and a huge benefit is that I’m supporting a small business.

One area of my life which is not at all orgainsed is the music. Oh I have notebooks galore, but nothing is listed in order, nothing is neatly written, nothing is easy to locate. I can only assume that the musician within me is so creative that I cannot be bound by the tidiness and countless lists of the homemaker in me.

To another happy day of lists.

With love and sparkles xxx