Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Grief is love.

Losing someone you love whatever their relationship to you is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to ever go through.

It’s not the easiest of subjects to ever write about but there seems to have been a lot of people around me experiencing this right now and so I thought I’d share with you the loss that I’ve been through, how I dealt with it and how it’s shaped me.

I always think losing someone around Christmas and New Year must be exceptionally hard as usually the beginning of the year is filled with promise of new and positive things but often life just doesn’t unfold like that and we need suddenly to find a way forward in a situation that seems impossible to cope with.

Losing someone whether it be a family member or friend is an incredibly difficult thing to process and can often feel very surreal. The first few weeks can be especially daunting as you can’t imagine surviving until the end of the day let alone the month.

Grieving is a very personal thing and different for everyone it seems. My first real encounter with grief was when I was sixteen years’ old, we lived in a fairly big house and rented out a room to a young girl, she was eighteen years old at the time and went to our local university. Her name was Sue, she was a twin and her sister was at another university only a few miles away. We became very close and I remember thinking she was the coolest thing ever. She introduced me to football (which I loved for many years afterwards and can still be persuaded when in the right mood…) and we used to sit and talk for hours on her bed about nothing in particular. After living with us for nearly a year, Sue died suddenly within twenty four hours of getting ill, of meningitis. She was admitted to hospital during the night whilst I was in bed sleeping, my mum and dad accompanying her whilst neighbours sat with us and her own parents were on their way to her, although I don’t recall much of this.

Looking back now I think as this was the first time I had ever had to confront mortality, I was in utter shock for probably months afterwards. As a teenager, I struggled to comprehend it all and became very withdrawn, low and scared of my own mortality. I couldn’t talk about it or cry about it. It took two years, a house move, lots of tlc from my family and a few brilliant sessions with a grief counsellor much further down the line, to sort me out. I got there in the end and promised myself I would never hold tears in again. If I needed to cry I bloody well would. No matter where I was or who I was with, it was better out than in.  

As much as this time in my life was very difficult, if I hadn’t been through it then I don’t know how I would have survived the death of my mum that was to follow some years later, when I reached the age of thirty.

I was incredibly close to my mum, she was the most wonderful, beautiful and caring woman. We laughed, we shared stories, so many things that I can’t put into words, we were the best of friends. I never thought I would survive without her in my life.

Feeling thankful.

After mum died from her battle with cancer, I did temporarily lose faith in everything. Grief for me was feeling utter heartbreak and trying to make sense of the world again without her in it. As it turns out, it really is only time that can help with this. I made it my mission to cry whenever I needed to, whether that be at home or at work, or in the supermarket I would often disappear to the loo to have a good cry. This alone I think helped me immensely.

I never wanted people to feel sorry for me as I have always felt utterly privileged to have had her as my mum until the age of thirty. I will always be eternally grateful that I reached adulthood with her by my side. She had a huge influence on my life and who I have become today.  There will always be a little piece of me that holds onto the feeling that she let me (and my sisters) go, so we could fly.

Loss has made me a life crammer

Undoubtedly. Losing mum has most certainly made me a life crammer. I want to do everything! 
Well, maybe not jump out of an aeroplane but I just don’t think my life ‘to do list’ will ever get any shorter! I’ve always tended to want to have a go at it all and being highly conscious of the fact we don’t have forever isn’t a bad thing I don’t think. I am keen to put arguments to bed quickly and am generally good at moving forwards if something doesn’t go to plan. I embrace change and am excited by new opportunities and meeting new people.

Still taboo

When you lose someone, after time, whether that be weeks or months or even years, you can feel like you’re suddenly not allowed to grieve anymore. It's like you should be ‘over it’ and that people just don’t want to listen to your woes anymore.

Well here’s the thing , the real people in your life that care about you will only want you to do what you need to do to make yourself feel better. If that’s cry and scream over a cup of tea with a good friend then that’s what you need to do. My mum died nine years ago now and I still have days when I wail like a banshee with friends and family about the fact she’s not here to see her grandchildren or pop around for a chat and a hug.

I seem to gravitate towards women especially that have lost their mothers. I have two or three very close friends that have lost their mothers early on in life. It’s a great thing to be able to have some solidarity in that. Firstly, you don’t feel so hard done by that you’re the only one, secondly you have people that absolutely understand how you feel.

The reason I wrote this post

I guess ultimately my reason for writing this post is that I wanted to reassure for those in doubt, that there will be a break in the clouds. Nine years down the line and even though the loss is still hugely felt, time allows you to manage your feelings in a different way and you are able to be positive and strong again. Be kind to yourself and put in place whatever you are able to get you through the most difficult days. Surround yourself with people that care about you and want the best for you. 

As this very famous lady said

‘Grief is the price we pay for love’- Queen Elizabeth II.

 And none of us wants to go through life not loving.

Betty X 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Thank you 2016

You were a pretty testing year to say the least and had many moments of playing out in ways no-one could have predicted. You unfolded stories across the globe that were unexpected, revolutionary and for many, truly shocking.

Despite all this I still wanted to say thank you, thank you for teaching me more about myself.

This last year feels to have been massive for me. Massive as far as personal development goes and learning more about the person I am now, today. The last two or three years specifically, I’ve felt a pretty big shift in the essence of me and I think that’s for several reasons. Here are a couple.

Our children are getting older

I have begun to peek out the other side of the totally manic, exhausting and all-consuming baby, early years’ madness.

I have always been very career minded and from an early age the signs of my love for all things creative was there. I went to study Theatre with Media at University and drama school and continued after graduating to work as an actress mainly in the theatre. Gradually over the years I moved into television production which was a crazy, wonderful and exhausting career all at once. Most that work in the arts will tell you, if you are in it, it becomes a way of life, not just a job. It seduces you and to be successful you pretty much need to give yourself over to it 24/7 which I happily did as an unattached young woman in her mid-twenties.

I travelled like a maniac all over the country and the world for a good few years, filming all sorts of people in all sorts of weird and wonderful places, until meeting my now husband. Not too long afterwards we had our first son and my full-time job became caring for our brand new tiny human. It’s certainly called one of the hardest jobs in the world for a reason but it was a job I was over the moon to have the privilege of doing. I must say, if a career in television prepared me for anything it was how to be massively flexible and if you need anything as a new parent it is this. A skill I am still eternally grateful for!

Maybe I’m slightly delayed in this as I’ve a husband that works away often but now our boys are a newly four and six-year-old, I can feel that the woman behind ‘mummy’ is finally making a re-appearance and trying to get back in the zone. I’m not entirely sure who that woman is yet (I’ll keep you posted) but I have for the first time in years slightly more brain space to start daring to think about what I need for me as far as work and potential future projects may go. The downside of this is that after waiting for what seems like an age to get to this point, I am now very excited but impatient and want it all now!

I’ve become tougher

I have. This year all my experiences in life seem to have compacted and somehow made me feel tougher. I won’t go into all those experiences now – that’s another blog entirely -however I’m confident I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and pretty much know the limits of what I can and can’t handle.
It’s rather a nice feeling to know that you can survive many things and are equip with enough skills to get out the other side of most situations still fighting.


January - The month of promise

So here we are. We survived you 2016 and we find ourselves in the month where traditionally we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to change, join the gym, dust off the nutribullet and be ‘that person’ that we think we want to be in our head.

I don’t believe in resolutions, it’s too much stress and let’s be honest, none of us need any more of that in our lives.  However, I do think it’s good to have a positive focus for the year. A project you want to complete, a holiday you’d like to take, an old friend you would like to visit or a course you’d like to enrol on. Large or small and whatever my focus is for the year It’s always nice to have got to December and be able to tick it off.

Me Essentials

I march into 2017 having learned what my ‘Me Essentials’ are during this past year.
By ‘Me Essentials’ I mean the things I need to keep me happy and functioning at my best in this busy old life. In no particular order:

·         I am 100% happier, a better person and certainly a zillion times better mother if I have some sort of work or project on the go, even if it’s for only an hour or two a week. I need to feel personally fulfilled, that I am doing something for me and pushing myself forward.

·         Not to try and do too many things at once. By this I mean trying not to cram too much into my day or week. I always end up frustrated with myself as I hate to do things badly and someone or something always suffer when I try. Sometimes less really is more.

·         A bit of a cliché but exercise. It’s obvious but I always feel better and have bags more energy if I’m exercising regularly and with two young boys in the house I need all the energy I can get at the best of times but especially when the other half is away.

·         Family time. Uninterrupted time that features the four of us and no-one else. I’m all for socialising as a family but time as a four is precious and very special to me and our boys.

·         Friends! I love my friends. I’m so very lucky to know such wonderful beings and I need to have lots of contact with them in person (preferably) but failing that lots of interaction via the wonderful technology this century has bestowed upon us.

·         A vague social life. I say vague as those of us with small people know it’s often just not logistically possible to get out socially. I don’t need much but now and again it’s great to go out, drink wine, eat food and laugh -a lot!

What are your ‘Me Essentials? What can you not do without that keeps you a happy rounded person? Do PLEASE get in touch and let me know.

So, thank you 2016. You weren’t wasted on me. In fact, the very opposite.

Betty X

Monday, 2 January 2017

How to be good in 2017 

 (By my eldest son. Age 6)

I thought you would all enjoy this marvellous little list that my eldest son came up with as to how to approach 2017...

Be Nice

Don’t hit

Don’t squirt people with water pistols

Don’t throw toys at people

Don’t tip your food on the floor at the dinner table

Do share with little brothers

Do not whack people with toy light sabres

Do play games with your children

Don’t whinge

Look after your things

So there you have it. Simple, sound advice for the year! Lets hope the world and it’s politicians are listening…

Happy New Year All. I wish you all things wonderful. Be bold, be brave and be kind to yourselves.

Betty X