Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Husband puts his foot in it again

Husband said, 'Are you watching television tonight?'
'Yes, but I have to do my pre-holiday beautifying first.'
'So, no, you won't be watching television then.'

I glared at him and he thought quickly. 'I mean it takes you a long time not that you need a lot of beautifying.' 
I frowned doubtfully.
'I think you're gorgeous as you are.'

Hm, think he can get away with that?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

George is a wimp

When we take a path unfamiliar to George he likes to let me go first. He did so today and as I was walking I said, 'You don't know, George, the monsters could be watching us and working out that you're the soft touch and they'll pick you off from the back.'

As I said that I turned around to see him and, yikes! He'd disappeared!

Then he came trotting from the corner. Phew!

* * * * * * * * *

On Saturday I invited the Barham Babes to come to Caswell cafe in the evening for a ukelele gig. 'What time?' they wanted to know.
'I don't know. We'll just turn up.'

Big mistake. We turned up and the cafe was closed and shuttered.

So change of plan. We drove to Langland, had a little walk around the cliffs and then enjoyed coffee/hot chocolate/tea and cake in the cafe there.

Ffion had done something ridiculous like run a marathon earlier in the day so grumbled when I made them keep walking until we reached a suitable point to take photos. (But she's smiling and that's an achievement.)

Two women walking by stopped and one said, 'Would you like us to take a photo of you all together?'
'Oh yes, please.'
I gave her the camera, which she then handed to her friend saying, 'You're better at taking photos than I am.'
We posed and the friend took our photo. Then she said, 'I'll take another one to be sure.'

So it's very odd that, on checking when I got home, there were no photos on the camera of the three of us. It's not that they were blurry or she'd cut off our heads: they just weren't there.

But the custard slice was very nice.

Monday, April 21, 2014

In defence of anti-depressants

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a really bad headache or a pain in your chest? The sudden awakening combined with the ache for a moment convince you that you're dying and you experience what could be called night terror. Then you shake yourself, take some paracetamol/indigestion pills, quickly fall asleep, and feel fine when you wake up next morning.

Now imagine feeling that terror for 95% of the time.

It started when I was in my teens and peaked in my late forties. That's a long time to be living a part-life and at its worst a barely-life where, for example, I was too scared to go to the cinema just in case, and I had to psyche myself up to go to Sainsburys for the weekly shop. I was prayed for - and felt guilty when it made no difference - and I saw a number of doctors. I had counselling - she gave up on me - and tried therapy. That helped me understand myself better and see things differently but it didn't cure me.

The thing was that I didn't think of myself as having depression. Depression was a proper illness; I just worried too much. The slightest thing and I'd worry. Not just worry now and again but all the time. Thoughts would go round and around in my head repeating themselves incessantly. Until the next insignificant thing happened to give me something new to worry about. I carried out all the normal everyday tasks but my mind would be buzzing. It wasn't illness particularly or even death that scared me - unless it was one of my children that preoccupied my thoughts - but fear itself. The what-if fear. 

There was nothing logical about it and knowing that, as I did, made it even worse. 

But, no, I wasn't depressed, just anxious. I was simply stupid; I couldn't stop worrying and I was an idiot. I couldn't control my thoughts; my life and, more importantly, family life were adversely affected. I couldn't concentrate or enjoy the good times. And it was down to my stupidity. That's what I thought. It wasn't until I finally convinced the doctor that I couldn't go on living this caricature of a life that she prescribed anti-depressants. Little white pills containing serotonin. Magic pills that changed my life.

Yes, they do have side effects: my emotions are, well, drugged I suppose. I don't feel the highs and lows that others seem to experience but I can live with that. But having said that, for the last few months I've been halving the dose. I was doing really well so I thought I'd give it a go. (Doctors tend to encourage you to get off drugs if you can.) But recently I've noticed that my lows seem to be happening more frequently. I may start taking the prescribed dose again or I may go and chat to the doctor. One thing is certain, I'm not going back to that place of misery again. 

The reason I'm writing this now is two-fold. Elder Son posted a link to an article written by a journalist 'coming out' about his mental health problems. It's quite long but a very good article if you're interested. In it he says that when he eventually saw an expert he was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). 

Now when I think of OCD I think of people who have to keep washing their hands or checking they've turned off lights but in his case it's his thoughts that are obsessive and compulsive. And I see that his symptoms are very like mine. And that's a great relief. Not particularly to have a title or a name for my problem but to hear of someone else with similar experiences. Knowing I'm not alone. And allowing me to believe that maybe I'm not just stupid and incapable of controlling my own thoughts and mind.

The other reason for this long and probably boring to most people post is that recently it's been suggested to me or implied in conversations that I should give up my medication. 'What you need is God/fresh air/exercise.'

I would like to suggest that I have plenty of all of those - probably more than most - and they don't help.

If I were on blood thinning medication would you suggest that I stop taking it and run around more? If I were diabetic would you tell me to stop injecting myself and improve my diet? No, of course not.

I have a chemical imbalance that the drugs correct. It's no different from any other condition. Just because it's in my head and the symptoms aren't obvious to you don't make it any less real. Or life diminishing if untreated.

That's it. Rant over.

If you've got this far, thank you for reading. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Easter reflection

So it's Easter and one's mind naturally turns to bunnies and eggs ... oh no, wait, that's all those heathens out there. As a good Christian girl my mind should be focused solely on the death and resurrection of our Lord. (And the odd egg or two.)

Easter is the most important festival in the Christian year; it's the reason for our faith and no amount of chocolate can diminish that truth. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the hope that gives us who follow him of life after death, going to heaven - whatever that may mean to you (my idea is pretty vague as you might expect) - and salvation. And therein lies my sermon for today.

Some very lovely and sincere Christians are wont to ask, 'Is your husband saved? Are your children saved?' I know what they mean and I appreciate their interest but the way it comes across  it seems to me that salvation is the be all and end all of our faith. (Yes, I know, strictly speaking, it probably is and I'm struggling to find the right way of saying this. I bet the Pope doesn't have these problems.)

I think my thoughts have been going around this subject since last Tuesday's bible study into Jesus as Lord. Someone - I can't remember who - said, 'If I confess that Jesus is Lord then I am saved.' And, yes, that's true. The last thing we want to do  for people - people who are in desperate need or difficult circumstances, with erratic lifestyles and problems - is to make turning to God seem hard: it's not. Like the father in the prodigal son story God is running out to meet us, arms open wide, and he throws a party for us. He wants us to turn to him. God doesn't want anyone to be lost. (But I don't think that means that we all will be saved; we still have free will and have to make a choice.)

But if salvation, life after death, is all that we get out of this then we're missing out. I haven't said eternal life when referring to after death because I believe that my eternal life has already begun and the phrase that I love, that keeps coming back to me, is that Jesus came to bring us life and life to the full. That means right now not at some later unspecified date when we die. (Hopefully much later in my case.)

So yes, if we're to have life to the full it means taking some responsibility too. It means trying to make the right choices - not always easy and I certainly make far too many wrong ones - and giving God a say in our lives. From the ten commandments onwards through the words of Christ, the 'rules' are there for our benefit. If we break them, if we sin, then someone, either us or someone else, usually gets hurt. I suppose one of my particular sins, or at least one I'm willing to tell you about, is gossiping or bad-mouthing others. It does me no good, although I might enjoy it at the time, and if my words were to get back to the persons concerned then it would certainly do them no good. 

So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Jesus' life, the example he gave us, the lessons he taught, the love and compassion he showed the outcasts and most vulnerable in society, is of huge value. As we remember his death and resurrection let's not forget the bit before.

Now, where did I put that egg?

Photo round-up of my life

Okay, I've been quiet on the blogging front for the last week or so because Daughter and family came to visit and then real life just took over. So a brief photographic summary.

No visit to Granny's is complete without a trip to Verdi's. Granny says so.

Just before they were going out for the day GrandDaughter - in her best frock so very carefully - helped me make the cake for Zac's.

Once they'd left life returned to more or less normal and George and I had some lovely dog walks although George did miss Holly.

The wild bluebells are not in full bloom yet but lovely nevertheless.
Today, Easter Sunday, I was up at 5.45 am and it wasn't even George's fault. Christians from different churches across the city gather on the beach for a sunrise celebration and afterwards they're invited them back to Zac's for bacon butties and croissants. 

I set the alarm thinking it would give me time for breakfast and a shower. It wasn't until I had my dressing gown on and was about to go downstairs that I realised I'd be cooking - and having - breakfast in Zac's. So I could have stayed in bed for an extra ... ooh, 15 minutes. Not that it would have helped much: I woke at regular intervals in the night thinking, ' I have to get up soon; is it time yet?'

About 70 people came back for breakfast so we were very grateful for the donation of warm freshly-baked croissants from our local Tesco.

And this morning we saw both a heron 

and the Easter bunny. Or possibly the Easter squirrel.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

George is not popular

It's 7.15 am and George is whining. I pretend to be asleep in the hope that Husband will respond.
7.20 am, the whining increases in level and Husband is still apparently asleep.
7.25 am, I turn over and go to get out of bed.
Husband mutters, 'I'm ignoring him.'
'You can't do that; he needs to go out.'
'No he doesn't; he wants his breakfast.'
'No, he wants a poo.'
'He can wait.'
He's desperate!'

I get up and go downstairs to let George out. He rolls over when he sees me coming so I can tickle his belly. Mid tickle I say, 'Hey, I thought you were desperate to go out.'
'Oh yes.' He stands and goes to the door. I open it and he bounds into the garden and begins to bark at a passing stranger. I shout at him and he wanders around until he finds the perfect spot for pooing.

I make tea but refuse to give him his breakfast. 'You can wait,' I tell him and go back to bed.

At 8.15 am when he starts to whine again I shout, 'Shut up, George!'

As I'm up early (for me) I decide to hit Sainsburys before the crowds. Unfortunately everyone else has the same idea. You would not believe how many people are in Sainsburys at 10.00 am on a Saturday morning. Don't these people have beds?

Brushing all aside

So Husband is on the kitchen roof when he calls and asks me to throw up the sweeping brush.
As an obedient wife I do as I'm told. The extra big garden brush you note.
I'd like you also to note the position of Husband's hands. He is obviously not expecting me to be able to achieve this. 

And I don't. And the brush comes sailing back down. Straight into my nose. For an instance I think this is what boxers must feel like when punched in the face and I put my hands to my nose dramatically. Husband laughs.

As does Son-in-law when I tell him. 'Didn't you think to catch it or step aside?' he asks.
At this Daughter laughs. She knows full well where she gets her lack of co-ordination from.

I hoped I would have an enormous bruise for which I could gain sympathy and possibly chocolate but my nose stayed strangely pale though painful.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lost: 1 mojo

I'm sure I had it a few days ago but I've looked everywhere and I can't find it. No doubt it will turn up soon but in the meantime ... 

Pull yourself together!

Met with Sean on Sunday to find out what I was supposed to be leading the bible study on on Tuesday. He said to skip the end of chapter 7 of John's gospel, go to chapter 8 and look at the story of the woman caught in adultery. Use it to lead a discussion on the idea of Jesus is Lord. Okey dokey.

Tuesday afternoon I settle down to prepare and read the passage. Read it again. And again getting progressively more panicky. No matter how many times I read it I still can't find any mention of the word Lord. 

Wonder if I got the passage wrong but am convinced it's what Sean said. The closest I can find is where the woman says, 'Yes, sir.' Check in other versions and find it does indeed say Lord in some. Wonder if there's some other idea I can take from it but decide to go with it and hope that the bibles we use in Zac's say lord.

They don't. 

So I explain the problem to everyone and ask if we can just pretend it does. Luckily they are an amiable bunch and we talk about everything - except Jesus as Lord. No, we do cover it a bit but no-one seems to want to dig into it - or maybe it's just that the idea is unpopular: giving someone else control of your life. 

But Rowland, our tribal elder, is very complimentary at the end of the evening so I'm happy. (And I don't think it was just because he had a birthday cake.)

Meanwhile I have volunteered to be at Zac's at 6.30 am on Sunday to help prepare bacon butties for the people who come back after the churches together Easter sunrise celebration on the beach. I really hope I've found my mojo by then. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Part of a bigger picture

I called George to get his attention and when he was looking I threw a stick. He continued to stare blankly at me.
'Go and fetch it, you silly great plonker!'
'Oh right.' And he lolloped half-heartedly down the beach. 

I despair of my dog sometimes.

Following the winter storms there is a lot more sand on Swansea beach. There are also, coincidentally, an awful lot of tiny shells. I'm sure it coincidence as they were there before the storms.
It is wonderfully pleasurable walking on shells. I love the sensation and the crunchy noise beneath my feet but also the feeling that I'm part of something much much bigger. I'm doing my bit for nature, helping the erosion process so that my grandchildren (to the power of 10 at least) will still be enjoying a sandy beach. 

* * * * * * * * * 
Yesterday we enjoyed lunch at Verdi's with my 'old' blogging friend, Shirl and her husband, Pete. They called in on their way back from visiting family in west Wales and we were delighted to see them.

* * * * * * * * 
And now I'm off to prison for my weekly dose of inadequacy and feeling like a bad Christian. It's slightly worrying that I feel more at ease with offenders than I do with Christians, lovely though they are.