Showing posts from 2021

Happy new year! Here’s to love, connection and time with those we love.

 2021 we had such hopes for you. But we should have known by then. Covid was a constant backdrop to our lives. Vaccines offered so much hope with good reason and yet freedom did not feel secure. Plans were rarely more than tentative. We delayed bookings and failed to rebook until later in the year. A summer plan became autumn and instead of warmth we had the glory of Scotland’s colours, rust brown and gold trees called out to us. Look we are here they say, and we hold our presence as your calling.  Scotland you own us with your beauty and your message of ‘you are home’ speaks straight to our souls. These souls starved of touch, of company of comfort and of love. How could we resist your promise of presence, of the comfort of the familiar, of safety we assumed but ultimately who can promise so much in such times of uncertainty.  As Christmas approached we thought, this year will offer so much. Christmas with family and New Year with friends exploring new territory, new traditions, new p

For Rosa

  For Rosa Rosa,her smile tells stories straight to the heart. She speaks in two languages; signing illustrating her emotions, spoken words the context  for us who are awed by her. That stride off to nursery with no hesitation. She knows none of the  fear her parents hold. But for noticing that they hold her a little too tight. Omicron-a benign name Like a young sister of a unicorn maybe? Magical almost- except-except The truth is that it’s another viral variant Spreading its tentacles across our city, the country, the world a renewed threat to our lives and our well-being. For Rosa much of her life so far has danced between the full colour version then back to the greyed out  Lockdown version. Play boxed away into homes Fearful of a virus that doesn’t  only change lives-it threatens to take life. There’s the fear, not captured in Rosas short memory but for her Mum and Dad its very real sitting by her bed. An orchestra of sounds and light the hospital machines symphonies tell of labour

Always look on the bright side of life….I tried,honestly!

  I decided yesterday to write a blog on what has been the impact of becoming a disabled person in an ableist world. And the truth is sometimes I forget how much I have had to give up, adapt, accept and buy to keep going in a positive way. Why positive, you may ask? Because I can’t live my life focussed on negatives as that takes a brutal toll on my mental health. I know this as I was stuck in that place earlier this year, with an internal black dog facing constant pain and an external context of evident climate crisis and a pandemic still being measured by excess deaths. I’m fortunate in that I have an internal reset button that helps me feel so grateful for the wonderful people I have in my life and the stability of an income that enables me to buy things that make me more comfortable. And to survive well, quite frankly, you need both.   This week I’ve just bought two mobility scooters! I started on my journey with mobility scooters just before my spinal operation in June 2018. I w

In search of Healing

Difference Between Healing and Curing                                                                               I read this article today and it really resonated for me. It’s perhaps because I’ve been stuck recently. Stuck in the sense that a flare up in pain had stopped me sleeping and that in turn had tipped my equilibrium. I was buried by my many health issues, trying to find an escape route. Sleep loss and feeling low meant that I forgot about ways to escape and mostly put my hopes in medication to re-establish some balance for me. Anyone living with chronic pain knows it’s much more complex than that. I know that how we react to and interact with pain is complex and yet I was clinging to the myth of the magic bullet to fix me. And perhaps worst of all I’d lost my joy in life.  Reaching out for support recently has really helped me re calibrate. I now can see again what makes life special and I’m being kinder to myself. But as with anyone who lives with cancer knows, we have ha

Through the eyes of a child.

                                                                                               York Minster  We should all see the world through the eyes of a three year old. It’s an exciting place full of opportunity and wonder. It’s a world where firing a nerf blaster at your birthday guests can fill the room with all our laughter. But it’s also a world where what you remember most from a trip to York, that took in the Railway Museum and a Viking Centre, are the bells of York Minster. Even at three years of age we know what a rare beauty that is. Our Grandson’s life and vocabulary expands daily and its joyful to watch. He got every kind of vehicle for his birthday, even emergency ones that made their own siren noise! If Eskimos have 50 words for snow, then he has a similar number that make car brrrroom noises. It’s even magical to see him play with toys that were once his father’s, especially super ted whose super powers live in the imagination of the children who have loved him. Wha

Walking each other home?

  I used to have a list of places I really wanted to visit.Like the Himalaya, Canada and the Rockies, and I would also dream of returning to Orkney, France, Italy, Switzerland, to our balcony looking at the Rila mountains and so on and so on. Perhaps the whole family could tour together and then take a villa to reflect and recover. I was rarely short of ideas, more commonly just short of cash! And I would of course be walking in the hills, through wildflowers and diving into cool wild waters to be refreshed until the sun dipped and we were also cool enough to eat. In those times I was unencumbered by pain, disability and fatigue. My body was symmetrical at lease, more rounded than I was ever happy with but didn’t let me down too often. Did I take these times for granted? Perhaps but I always felt gratitude that my life had allowed me to explore more of the world than my parents generation did. And I didn’t expect it to change as soon as it did. I’m from the baby boomer generation who t

Are you awake?

  It’s August already, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Who would have predicted these recent times. These times of isolation, fear, uncertainty and our lives changed for ever. A time that will divide the past from the future. Much of our restrictions in Scotland are now lifted but it would hard to describe it as normal. And what does that mean, that word, normal? Is it simply that good or bad, it’s familiar, a predictable rhythm over the year? Or is it that it doesn’t trigger a stress reaction anymore and however grim, it’s the new reality and we recognise it. So much so that many of us reach quickly for a mask or resist busy places and avoid public transport. The trajectory of normal has shifted again and we look to the winter with suspicion. Having lived through four cancer diagnosis and one of a benign spinal growth leading to severe pain and disability, I absolutely recognise the resilience of human beings and how we can adjust to the previously unthinkable. It does have

When summer hurts.

  When Summer Hurts Summer hurts  Not sunburn No, it’s heart burn Heartsore, heart broken. A summer of loss A path untravelled A climb unreached A beach untrodden  A Loch unexplored. Images abound of this glorious time from Scotland shimmering in the sun  the beauty catches the breath, attracting wild swimmers and  free walkers taking in this marvellous land. Searchers for a different world. I long for these images each one invites me a vicarious traveller  yearning to share it. And still the loss digs into my soul. I rail against my body. I resent I can no longer trail sandals in hand along those empty beaches or walk the softly shaded woods, they can no longer soothe my spirit. Spontaneity of summer  sucked dry with endless planning and no access stumbles. How can a simple trip be so very arduous? I don’t want your sympathy! I want a world that invites me in, that includes me, clumsy, in pain. Not this one that makes it too easy to stay home,

Summer in Scotland

  In Shetland it’s the simmer dim a name that shimmers like the light that hovers between not yet dark and not yet light. Summer    edging forward, vibrant colours fill our skies sunsets of fire, never tire. Scottish summers, not about heat. But about abundance of stunning views of soft whispering breezes. It’s the machair  defining the boundary of    beach and sea. Birds call a welcome, gulls riding the currents. I miss walking our velvet paths nothing to mind but the passing of time and the indulgence of the season. I miss walking. 

Socially secure?

                                                                                              Charley Macksey If I had worry beads, they would be down to the string just now. It’s not been an easy first half of the year. And I’m going to say straight away, I also know I’m very fortunate. I have so much that others start each day worrying about keeping. I don’t have to worry about finding a home or a job or even social isolation. But what we have had in the close family is a series of ill health, a horribly broken wrist and most recently covid has affected my grandson and his Mum and Dad. Thankfully we are on recovery paths now but it’s shaken us and also because it’s not been me who has been unwell for a change! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve a whole lot going on as ever but nothing unexpected or acute.   We humans are amazingly flexible and resilient but we are also vulnerable. Not only can our bodies let us down but so can our society. During lockdown we have seen so many people lose thei

Are we languishing or is it more than that?

  I recently read an article by the New York Times, recommended by a friend. We had been having a conversation about so many people describing a lower mood. Not a clinical depression but a greyed out life experience. A lack of energy for living. Not the black dog, more I can’t be bothered to walk the dog. Perhaps you recognise this in yourself? I admit I did. The article was describing this and said the term ‘Languishing’ had been captured to describe the state.  Feeling Blah During the Pandemic? It's Called Languishing ... › Well › Mind ‘Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.’ The article describes that languishing is somewhere between a clinical depression and flourishing and that it can be a precursor to depression if left to decline. I found myself react to the medicalisation of what seems to be such

Pale prisoners of a virus

                                                                         Spring 2021 Has there ever been  a spring so welcome? A blue sky - a cold underbelly. Lockdown easing-uneasy. Masked by vaccines ‘Have you had yours?’ Edging out now distanced and yet together our plans more tentative. Losses again awakened grief steals the anticipation, a sharp stab of memories of words unsaid. ‘Bring it back next time’ a casual assumption of friendships surviving, of us surviving. But we are here, Pale prisoners of a virus, the unseen assassin the stealer of life and living. But I need to be out to see the hills to paddle in streams, to breathe freedom in the air. I want to clasp my family close and together sit around the table to celebrate life and make plans for living again. A visit to the hebrides, to a gallery, an exhibition of colour filled stories, to see a play or a film and talk about it afterwards. To feel normal, there it is, that word, normal, an aspiration  so measly. But headlines

I’ve been struggling to write, to be honest

  I’ve tried to write a few blogs these last few weeks but a few things have stopped me. Mainly I guess we’ve had family illness and trauma so that’s personal to others and it’s not appropriate to write what’s essentially their stories. And worry is so disabling. I know, I do best when I stay in the moment, and I’ve tried but I’ve not done well really. And although I try not to communicate my worry I’m sure this leaks out in a thousand ways to become a burden for others. It’s a bit self indulgent. I feel so helpless and that troubles me.  My self image was of someone who could do things to help; it’s so ingrained; to make soup, do shopping,  washing, ironing (?). But instead I watch as others help the people I love and I’m part of the complexity not especially helpful at that time. It grieves me deeply and I also know it’s not about me so I stay quiet and bring what I can which is my listening ears and a bucket of love. Sometimes advice is welcomed and I know what might help. I’m guil


Image This is a video the ALLIANCE made of me reading this poem for a workshop. It brings this work to life, I hope you enjoy it.  Shielding.            Its beautiful today, blue skies and sun dazzling snow. Children sledging and shaping snow into fun creations. Their calls and screams a joyful burst in a long lockdwon winter.  They don’t notice me. That’s me there, across the road behind the window. My social calendar is empty, bar the NHS.  My “walks” with friends were highlights  Until the bitter east winds came. “Stay in” calls resound.  And snow is not the place for the vulnerable. I’ve done my share of sledging, skating on thin ice ( ahem) and building lifeless snowmen.  Instead I huddle in doorways. The offical photographer for photos I never appear in. Shielding they call it.  I’m at risk of the virus that haunts us each night on the news I try to avoid but cant. I’ve been in ICU before  it terrified me with drug induce