The Music Sparkle.

Pairc Festival

Way back in August, the late bank holiday weekend, I attended the very first Pairc Festival in Birmingham. Our Birmingham Irish Centre moved from the city centre to South Birmingham just before the pandemic started. The Digbeth area of Birmingham, historically the Irish area of the city, is being hugely redeveloped. It’s like a maze trying to get around that area at the moment with all the building and road works, you really feel like you are going around the block numerous times to reach your destination.

People were not happy at the move. The city centre is easily accessible for people who live around the city and the suburbs and for people coming from other parts of the country to events. However, the new club has a huge open sports ground and park area and this is where this first ever Birmingham Pairc Festival was held over the August bank holiday weekend. I bought tickets for Sunday, the closing day, because one of my favourite Irish music stars was performing, Nathan Carter. Thankfully the weather held and even in the evening it was a warm, late Summer evening. The atmosphere was incredible all around the festival area. There were families, couples, singletons and groups of friends rambling around visiting the various stalls and attractions. There were picnic’s taking place, dancing, singing, music, food and of course drink but not all alcoholic. It looked like every county in Ireland was represented with the people attending the festival. I could see T-shirts and flags from all over Ireland and it was just such a wonderful atmosphere. Inclusive, happy, positive and friendly vibes were the order of the day.

Prosecco and Chips, we are such classy girls! The ice cream was eaten at 11.30 pm after a night of singing and dancing because we just wanted to and isn’t that what life is all about?

One of the main acts was Finbar Furey, an absolute legend in Irish folk music. He gave a beautiful rendition of ‘Sweet Sixteen’ which was a favourite song of my parents and the tears fell, silently, but they fell. I wasn’t alone and found myself holding hands with strangers who were also moved to tears by the music and song.

As you can see from the photo above, there was a fantastic crowd in place for Nathan Carter’s show stopping closure to the festival. The whole area was alive with happiness, music and song. It was truly a special event and I am so glad that I attended. My friend and I had the most wonderful day catching up with each other, listening to and dancing to local bands and big name bands, talking to strangers, dancing like no-one was watching (because they weren’t) and we are already looking forward to the acts being released for next year and planning another day of Irishness.

I didn’t take many photo’s or any video footage. I decided to leave my phone in my pocket and just be in the moment, all day and all evening long. It was freedom!

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

Restart.

Things are so different.  You wonder how is it possible for life to change so completely, so quickly and with such heartbreak and yet it has.  I know I am not alone in this.  I know this happens to people on a daily basis.  Of course I am struggling with my own loss of everything right now and so I write about my story, my grief journey and about restarting my life.  That’s how it feels, that somehow, right now, in the midst of everything I’m having to deal with this dreadful pain, the loneliness and yet restart my life.

Our GP said to me that if I was married, or had children or had still been at work, the days would be easier to get through because I would have distractions. However as my life for the past three years has been as a full time carer for my parents, with both of them passing so close together, suddenly my whole world was gone.  I have to find myself again.  Some people have said this is really exciting as I can now decide to do anything I want to, which is true.  However right now, I don’t want to.  Does that sound mean of me?  I would give my life to have my parents back with me right this second. Perhaps that is mean of me, it’s selfish of me.  I truly believe they are in heaven and fully restored to health.  Things that they both told me long before their sudden passing leave me in no doubt that they are there, together, reunited with my sister and other family members. So yes it is selfish of me to want them back here with me but I want to be with them. I miss them. I miss the life I had with them.  I know that I am incredibly lucky to have been blessed with them as parents and that I enjoyed such a great relationship with them.

Each morning is another realisation that this is it for me now, I can go out when I want, come in when I want, do what I want and I am just not used to this.  This new freedom makes me feel so guilty yet what can I do, I must keep going and build a new life. No big decisions for the time being, my brain is not operating as it was and I don’t want to do anything in a rush and make a terrible mistake.  If this is a new and exciting restart in my life I want to do it right.  Although small errors are allowed, how else do we learn.

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What was I thinking I bought Bikini’s and you know what, I’m going to wear them and not worry about curves and a bit of fat.  Holidays are coming and I don’t mean Christmas, more about that on another blog post.

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Dessert and a glass of Prosecco is never, ever, ever a mistake.

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A new favourite, Vanilla Espresso Cocktails.

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A new favourite flower, Alstroemeria, also known as Lily of the Incas.

I know my posts are fairly random as in randomly written but that’s just how I am, my brain is on automatic pilot, it feels like cotton wool some days but the blogging is such good therapy for me.  My wonderful chap makes me laugh and looks after me so well. My friends and family are good to me, checking up on me, taking me out, we have laughs, long talks and some tears.  My neighbours have been very supportive and are looking out for me too.  I have some great support and for that I feel blessed and very grateful.

Thank you.

 

With love and sparkles xx

Life Sparkles

First Steps.

Going out for a walk with himself and then having lunch was an experience.  It was perfectly pleasant, a normal kind of thing to do except that we haven’t done anything like that for a very long time.  It was a strange experience for me.  If I did pop out over the last three years I had the phone almost always in my hand, just in case I received a call to come home quickly.  I was forever checking the time to ensure I was back before the carer who was covering for me had to leave.  This gentle stroll and going for lunch was an experience for me as I no longer need to check my phone for missed calls.  I no longer need to be back home by a certain time.  There is no one at home that needs me anymore.  My brain is having huge problems processing this information.  “New Normal” has not yet kicked in.  For now I shall continue to write about my journey from carer to former carer, from daughter to…what?  I suppose I still am a daughter but my parents are gone ahead and I can’t see them although I talk to them all the time, it helps.

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Yes, another glass of Kir Royale kind Sir.

 

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Bistrot Pierre – reasonably priced and always, always busy.

 

 

Thank you for your wonderful support xx

Life Sparkles

So Far.

So far I have managed to put one foot in front of the other everyday and keep going. Some days have been easier than others and some days I just haven’t done anything, because I just haven’t been able to.  I have become very conscious of looking after myself because I am all my Mom has.  I didn’t really think too much about self care before, Dad was here, he always knew what to do, who to contact and make the decisions.  Now Dad isn’t here, it’s all down to me and once you start thinking about that, it’s scary.

So far I have managed to get Dad’s memorial cards designed, printed and I have sent the majority of them out.  I have had a meeting at the hospital about the disgraceful lack of care my Dad received (I will blog about this separately).  The meeting really took it out of me, I was physically and emotionally drained, but it had to be done.

So far I have gone back to my music slowly.  I never feel like singing or picking up the guitar but once I do, I feel so much better.  Because I concentrate so much on what I am doing it releases stress and pressure for a little while and that feels good.

So far I thought I was doing well, coming to terms with things, not crying too much and then all of a sudden on Sunday night I had a huge outpouring of tears which came on suddenly and without warning.  Thankfully my man was here visiting and I could leave the room so that Mom didn’t witness these tears.

So far I haven’t done anything about the website I was putting together for my music. I have made a slow start to this.  With the website building taking place I will be downgrading my blogging plan here on WordPress.  I will still be blogging, I enjoy it and it helps me plus the wonderful fellow bloggers I have met on here which I certainly wouldn’t want to lose.  From July when I have the blogger plan I think any videos I have to share with you will have to be on the website.

And so far finally I haven’t really been up to that much.  At the moment I like it this way. I don’t want to have a full diary, or things planned ahead, I’m just not in that mindset yet. I want to take things slowly, to spend as much time as possible with my Mom, to plan my music and try to plan for the future.  As we know, the future doesn’t always go to plan.

A few photo’s of life over the past couple of weeks.

With love and sparkles xxx

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Tears totally out of the blue and when you least expect it.

Some delicious Irish Soda bread my cousin gave to me on her recent visit.

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Prayer is what works for me, it keeps me calmer, it soothes me and it makes me feel closer to my Dad, my Sister and all those who have gone before me.

And a little Snapchat to make me smile, take away the black circles and remove wrinkles 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Life Sparkles

Pampered.

Back at the end of March was Mother’s Day here in the UK.  The hair salon I visit is also an Aveda Spa and they had put together various packages for sons and daughters to purchase for their Mothers as a treat.  Now I know I am not a Mom in the true sense of the word but I am Mom at home to my own Mom and I was for my Dad too.  The salon were only too happy for me to come along and have a bit of “me time” and have a treat.

I was still stressed leaving the house even though one of my most trusted carers was with Mom.  I knew Mom was safe and sound, looked after and I was ten minutes away but I still worry.  However, somehow, I actually did relax and for the first time in years I did cut off from the real world for at least ten minutes and just totally relaxed and listened to the sounds of the waves on the seashore that was gently playing in the background.

My pamper session consisted of a mini facial, a rejuvenating eye treatment, a hand and arm massage and a wash and blow dry complete with a head and shoulder massage and a glass of Prosecco and chocolates. It all felt amazing and I was so glad I left the house and treated myself.

 

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles

Easter Blessings.

I know, I’m a day late which is pretty good going for me really.  It is still officially Easter as it is Easter Monday.  I hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful long weekend, for a change here in the UK the weather has been amazing; blue sky, sunshine and warm temperatures.

Easter was another in my “year of firsts”, Easter without Dad.  The build up to Easter I found very emotional, it actually felt as bad as it did when Dad first passed but with more realisation of what had happened.  However, I watched the online services from Knock Shrine, I kept in touch with people via social media and I looked after my fairy of a Mom, my number one priority.

A few picture below of things that have kept me going the last few days.

A hanging basket of Viola’s I thought I had well and truly killed off last year bloomed beautifully.  The Robin Tree, Flame Tree and Willow Tree are all coming on this Spring. I’m doing my best to keep Mom and Dad’s garden in good shape.

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My own little growing project is coming on.  Our porch is like Spain when the sunshine and heat come through during the day.  I’m thrilled to see something I planted grow.

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Look, it had to be done, Snapchat filters are amazingly kind to me!!

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Happy Easter.

With love and sparkles xx

Life Sparkles · The Music Sparkle.

Back to the music and other happenings.

I wasn’t at all sure about the return to the music just yet. I wanted to and I didn’t want to, if that makes any kind of sense.  Was my heart truly in it?  Would it feel the same? I’m glad I gave it a chance.  The singing released a lot of built up stress, pressure. It just came out as I sang.  I was careful what I sang though, it’ll be a while before I can sing certain songs.  It did me good to sing.

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I wasn’t as rusty as I thought I would be upon my return to the guitar lessons. This was a different release to the singing.  My mind had to concentrate so much on what I was doing I relaxed for forty-five minutes and gave my attention to guitar chords.  I’ve made a list of the songs I was getting good at plus the ones I wasn’t very good at, at all.  This is my list of songs to practice until perfect with a view to an acoustic recording session and hang on, dare I even think this…gigging.  I just need to find some time to practice!

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One from last Summer, it feels so good to be able to play a song on the guitar.

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The list!!!

It was Mom’s birthday recently.  I think she knew it was a special day and she did enjoy opening lots of beautiful cards.  She received some absolutely gorgeous flowers. We made it through another first without Dad although I have the feeling he was most definitely here.

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Himself has got into the habit of cooking something for me.  He knows that if he goes to the trouble of cooking something I will eat it. I’m very lucky in how he looks after me when he can get over here and that he is a good cook.

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Quorn Pasta Bake and it was delicious.

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Himself.

I started to do a bit of cooking myself too, for Mom.  I was very pleased with myself that I made her a quite acceptable leek and potato soup, go me! I’m going to try her with smoothies next.

 

A little gardening project for myself for the Spring and Summer, you see I am endeavouring to keep myself busy and do some things for me whilst the carers are here to help me with Mom.

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As we have had some fairly nice weather I have started to go for a walk around the block when the carers first arrive as Mom is usually still asleep so I can get about an hour to do something for me.  Usually it is taken up with administration but it does feel good to get out in the fresh air.

 

Spring blossoms out far too early yet still so beautiful.

And finally for this particular blog post, mixed emotions and note to self.

 

Pictures are my own and these last two quotes are via Pinterest.

With love and sparkles xx

Life Sparkles

Automatic Pilot.

Well the weeks continue to roll by and I keep trying to make sense of things, adjust to this “new normal”. I still feel as if I have brain fog which is almost protecting me from the reality of losing my Dad although I feel reality is coming home a little more every day. Automatic pilot is wearing off, the tears fall and time is just flying by. I cannot believe we are into mid April already although I’m still a little behind on my blog posts.

I thought I’d do a “this is what I have been doing” blog post so that you can see I really am trying to deal with things, look after Mom and try to return to some sense of normal.

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Another “first” without Dad, we raised a glass to him and I hope there was one huge hooley going on in heaven.

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After telling me to start eating healthy and look after myself, himself rocks up with these little temptations.

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Aforementioned drinks for raising a glass or two!!

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Not traditional Irish fare for us for St Patricks Day – we had Indian instead.

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Signs of Spring.

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A “me time” cappuccino during a long overdue trip to the hair salon.

It’s the little things that matter the most.

Until next time, with love and sparkles xx