Staring At The Sea

I was standing on a sandy beach in Northumberland. The ocean stretched out in front of me. A vast expanse of movement. I stood as close as I could to the water’s edge without getting my boots wet because it was a three hour drive home and I didn’t fancy having to take my socks off, one reason being I hadn’t shaved my toe. Yes, it’s true, women do have hairy toes!

Kites were doing acrobatics above our heads and people were throwing balls for their dogs via ‘Chuckit’s’. Damn fine invention, Chuckit’s, because handling drooly tennis balls is a tactile nightmare for autists AND NT’s alike. URGH.

A massive Alsatian bounded after a frisbee but mistimed his jump and knocked me flying. Being British, I brushed myself off, smiled and accepted responsibility for being in his way. Then, I staggered off up the beach only to be accosted by a small terrier chasing a ball. The dog ran into The Boy and The Boy started screeching. This set the dog off on a rapid-fire yapping session which upset The Boy even more. The dog’s owner gave it a telling off (of sorts) and launched the ball in the opposite direction and off the little bugger raced, yapping all the way. YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP

However, the highlight of the day was the who dog stopped mid-chase to take a crap. I scanned the beach for it’s owner and saw a bloke, shit bag in hand, hurrying towards the crouching hound. Well done, Guy! I just hope he disposed of the bag in a bin instead of flinging it into the sand dunes. What is it with people who bag it but don’t bin it?

It was early April but Mr Whippy was still parked up on the car-park. He had a steady stream of customers as well, some of whom were buying ice-cream. ICE CREAM!! IT WAS FLIPPING FREEZING!!!! FOOKINBRRRRRRR. Keep your ice-cream, mate. GIVE ME TEA!

Back on the beach, the woofing/yapping faded away as I stared at the sea and went into my ‘zone’. I stood there for what felt like hours but in reality was only about five minutes. My zen was rudely interrupted by OH shouting, “YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. DROWN!” I looked down to see the water lapping at my boots so I did a backwards jog, which on unstable terrain is a bit risky, trust me. However, I managed to stay vertical cuz I haz the SKILLZ, INNIT?

Or maybe it was just luck?

I was lost in the waves, almost literally! I just forgot myself, see. When I look out to sea, I am peaceful and relatively sane. It blows my mind to know I am part of something much bigger than you or I could ever understand. Maybe the secrets of this universe will be revealed to us in death? Maybe before we get to heaven (or wherever) we will be given the answer to EVERYTHING and we will be like, ‘OH AYE, I GET IT NOW!

Who knows?

All I know is, for now, it is what is it is, and it is beautiful.

I know I’m not alone in my love of the sea. It has the same effect on billions of us and there is a scientific reason for it because marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols believes that we all have a β€œblue mind that is a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.” According to him, this is triggered when we’re in or near water. Basically, we are hardwired to react positively to water. This doesn’t surprise me as I definitely respond positively to water, except when some stupid cow is shoving me at the deep end of a swimming pool, giving me a near death experience.

If you can’t get to the water, bring the water to you via relaxation apps. You can be soothed by the sound of waterfalls, or waves crashing over rocks. Even the gentle sound of falling rain. Not that I need an app for THAT one. I live in Greater Manchester. It rains for 364 days of the year. The other one, it snows. πŸ˜€

β€œLook at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” ~ Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

Five Reasons Why Ageing Sucks

 

Teeth

Dental hygiene plays an important part in gum health. Brushing ‘n’ flossing keeps Gingivitis at bay but for some people receding gums can be a matter of genetics, so if several members of your family have receded gums, the odds are that you will too. I know, it’s shit.

I have nice teeth but there’s more tooth on show than there used to be, hence, I am starting to resemble Shergar. The good news is that I still have all my own teeth at 47, which is fang-bloody-tastic considering my mother had a full set of false teeth by the time she was 50. WIN!

Skin

As we age, our skin loses elasticity – it’s called Elastosis.

It’s where all those years of lying on the lawn nuking yourself come back to haunt you with skin that looks like crepe paper. You know, CREPE PAPER? The crinkly stuff we used to make flowers with at school?

Another perk (not) of ageing is that skin becomes translucent which is why we start to resemble AA road maps by the time we are in our 50s. At this stage, PLEASE GOD, DON’T WEAR MINI SKIRTS!

That said, what the hell, it’s your life so wear what you like. Just don’t whinge when somebody turns your saggy backside into a GIF and gets it trending on social media.

Eyesight

Eyesight naturally deteriorates with age. Over time the lens hardens and you struggle to focus. You’re permanently squinting and find yourself holding everything at arm’s length, including your kids. You can’t thread needles anymore and you have to ask your family to read the small print on food packaging or you run the risk of giving them the shits.

You also have your Kindle font on size ENORMOUS.

So, you book an appointment at your local opticians for an eye-test and end up with a pair of specs (two in my case) that will cost you the same price as a week in Barbados, depending on what extras they con you into. However, the good thing about blurry eyesight is the instant soft focus you get without your specs on. YOU DON’T LOOK AS CRAP IN THE MIRROR!

Gimme a high-five!

Feet

Feet, like everything else, change with age. The changes in our feet are largely due to good old gravity and the pounding that they take over years.

The result is more hoof, than foot.

Corns, bunions, deformities, flat and calloused feet are par for the course when it comes to feet unless you REALLY look after them but most people will succumb to at least one of these things after decades of stuffing their foot neglect.

It’s safe to say that my own feet have hit their fugly stage. Boo. 😦

However, it’s my own fault because my idea of a pedicure is to cock my feet over the loo twice a month to cut my nails. No filing them or shaving the balls of my feet with a pumice stone/Black and Decker belt sander, depending on what state the skin is in.

When it comes to shoes, the mid-life woman is more into Pavers than six-inch stilettos and men naturally gravitate towards trainers, slip-ons and sandals. The problem is when they wear sandals with SOCKS to hide their ingrowing toe-nails. To such an offender, my advice is this:

Mate, you look a div. No human over the age of 5 should wear socks with sandals. Lose the socks OR the sandals. You’re welcome.

Hairy toes?

Don’t start me.

Farting

Two thirds of menopausal women report an increase in farting. Fact.

Being post-menopausal, I can vouch for this. I’m definitely more flatulent than before my ovaries pensioned themselves off. Some experts say it’s due to lack of oestrogen, while others say it’s due to an ageing digestive system. It’s not just women though, as middle-aged men are more prone to ‘bottom-blasting’ too.

We literally become old farts.

My theory is that when we reach middle age, most of us will have had some kind of health scare requiring a radical diet change, usually to include more fruit and veg. Combine an increase of fiber with a digestive system that’s buggered from years of trying to digest junk food and you basically start farting yourself into a coma. Am I wrong?

Growing old is a privilege, so we should be grateful that we’ve got this far. However, we can still have a laugh at ourselves, eh? Laughing is what keeps us young inside..

β€œ…inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.” Terry Pratchett – Moving Pictures

Creative Commons Images Via Pixabay

 

 

Panic Attack (Fear)

Waking in the early hours

Feeling of foreboding

Fear consumes me

My heart beats faster and faster

SOMEBODY HELP ME?

I feel so cold

From the inside out

Is this where I die?

My breathing is all wrong

My lungs won’t fill

I CAN’T BREATHE!!

Catastrophic thoughts

Obliterate the logical

Please God

Not like this

HELP ME PLEASE!

Wave after wave

Nausea strikes

I retch and heave

Sparkles in my vision

Life flashes before me

The last movie I’ll ever see

I pray to my creator

To whoever is there

Make it stop

Or give me strength

To endure the end

I think of those I love

How can I leave them

When my job isn’t done?

I hear the clock

Its tick and chime

I hear my heart thump

As if I’m sprinting

Only I’m sitting still

I wait for it to explode

For life to end

Will it be afterlife?

Or annihilation?

Then it happens

My heartbeat slows

My lungs fill with air

The shaking subsides

I’m still here

I didn’t die

Creative Commons Image

The Lion, the Witch and my Wardrobe

When you’re an adult, a wardrobe is just a piece of furniture. It’s somewhere to hang your clothes and store boxes of old photographs from when you were young and energetic, not to mention packing a full set of hormones. To a child, however, it’s a porthole into another world especially if they’ve read (or seen) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe..

The plot, of course, is that four children are evacuated from London in World War Two and sent to live with a professor who lives in a large country house with big wardrobes. The youngest child, Lucy, has a root round the Prof’s house and finds a wardrobe which also happens to be a portal to a magical land called Narnia. Having pushed past all the moth-balled infused fur coats, she wanders out into a forest where there is a lamppost. Here she meets a dodgy looking bloke who invites her to his house for tea (always say no, kids) but it turns out that this bloke, Tumnus, intends to betray her to Narnia’s resident evil overlord known as ‘the White Witch’. The White Witch has ruled over Narnia for, like, ever, keeping it in a permanent state of Winter. This is to keep the Narnians in their place though it may be due to a bad case of hayfever she had once, who knows? Anyhoo, old frosty chops has an intense dislike for humans so the Narnians are under orders that, should they happen across one of the blighters, they are to turn them in or she’ll start removing fingers/claws/whatever. Tumnus is well up for a bit o’ betrayal in the beginning but changes his mind when he realises he likes Lucy. Oops! Now he feels proper shit that he wanted to hand her over to the Refrigerated One so he does the decent thing and takes her back to the lamppost which is where it all goes tits up. You know how it goes…

When I was about 8 years old, Mum and Dad bought a wardrobe for my room, well, actually it was a combi-robe which was a combined unit of a mirror, shelves, drawers and a single wardrobe. However, to me, it was more than a piece of furniture..

I liked to sit in my wardrobe.

There, I’ve said it.

Thing is, I used to feel safe in there, especially if it had been a bad day at school.

It was a confined space, even for me, who was of Borrower proportions, but I could sit in my little wardrobe, close the door, and cry it all out without anybody knowing..

I was also familiar with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by then, having read the book and seen it on TV so I would re-enact it because my imaginative play was always about acting out what I’d seen in life or on TV.

The concept of a magical world being accessible from inside my wardrobe fascinated me. What would I have given for it to be true? Only, in my magical world, evil witches wouldn’t be allowed because there was one of those at school masquerading as my class teacher..

A few years later we moved house and two things stopped me throwing the MOTHER of all meltdowns. One was Dad buying me the new Adam and the Ants LP and the other was the walk in wardrobe in my new bedroom. Never mind sit down, I could go horizontal in this one! WOOHOO! The wardrobe also had pretty brass knobs on which I liked to mess with.. which did not please my mother.

“Have you been messing with these ruddy knobs again, Madam?”

“Er, no” and I’d leg it downstairs as fast as my fluffy slippers could carry me.

One of my favourite wardrobes, EVER, was my Nan and Grandad’s because it was JUST like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and yes I did shut myself in it until the whiff of moth balls put me into a coma, Not sure about Narnia but I did find a nice clasp handbag filled with various corn plasters and a few furry Polo mints..

It was easier to re-enact the story in an 1800s Gloucestershire house than in my 1960s built bedroom. More authentic, y’know? Well, as authentic as it can be until your mum walks in and bollocks you for ‘rooting’ through your Nan’s things..

I’m not sure how old I was when I finally stopped sitting (not a typo) in wardrobes. No doubt marriage and motherhood left me with little time to indulge my love of wardrobe interiors. Also, they were jammed full of cricket paraphernalia, old shoes and other such crap that builds up when one has to share their abode.

Then there was that incident where one of the kids mistook their wardrobe for the toilet. *shudders*

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Narnia existed though, eh? Without the resident bitch, of course.

How fabulous would be to have a really shit day and declare, ‘SOD IT. I AM OFF TO NARNIA!’ Though knowing my luck (and tendency for catastrophic thinking) I would most likely step out into the forest and be instantly mauled to death by a psychotic beaver..

Maybe I’m too old for sitting in wardrobes but I will never be too old to revisit Narnia via the book..

See you there?

β€œI wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

C. S Lewis ~ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere Only I Know

I wake up with a racing heart..

‘Fer f**ks saaaaake!’, I whine, a bit pathetically.

This time it’s different though because I don’t fear the sensation. It’s unpleasant but it will pass. I’ve been here a hundred times before.

‘Don’t you DARE look at the clock!’, I warn myself, though I imagine it’s around four. I elbow OH in the ribs because he’s snoring like a bastard, then I make myself comfortable.

I close my eyes..

I breathe in for four seconds.

I hold my breath for four seconds.

I breathe out for four seconds.

I reach into the certifiable mess that is my mind and retrieve a happy memory of a sunny day on a beach in Wales. I remove the people from the memory so there is just me. No stressed-out parents, no screaming kids and no Mr Whippy van with his highly irritating mechanical chimes..

I change the weather from hot to warm, because I can.

Editing done, I start to walk along the beach, seeing myself in first person perspective, just as in life. Though it has to be said that my feet are hideous..

There are sand dunes to the left of me, cliffs behind me and the golden Welsh sands stretch out before me. I walk for a while then turn to face the ocean..

I love the sea. It has the ability to take my life within minutes, yet can soothe my frazzled mind. The only snag is I can’t swim.

I watch as the waves roll in and out, synchronizing them to my breathing. Then I become aware of my bare feet sinking into the cool sand and a catastrophic thought creeps into my mind. I see myself being dragged under by deadly quicksand. This is because Mum, bless her, nearly ended herself on a beach in Bournemouth. Thankfully, all she lost was a flip-flop and her dignity.

The seagulls fly above me but there’s no danger of them crapping on my head. Nor are there any Carling cans and fag-ends jammed into the sand ruining my view because this is my special, no shit allowed, place.

Suddenly I feel something cold on my leg and look down to see a beautiful Lurcher with his nose pressed against my leg. He has golden fur, the kind that’s comfortingly rough. His eyes are caramel brown with more love inside them than you could ever imagine..

He starts to dance around me, nudging my leg and woofing like a mad thing.

He wants to play..

A piece of driftwood appears, as if by magic, and I hurl it into the sea with all the finesse of a shot-putter, not that he cares. Off he bounds into the waves, barking excitedly. He finds the driftwood and brings it back to me. ‘Again?’ his eyes implore me..

So I indulge him, again and again until I have to tell him to sod off because my arthritis is giving me gyp.

He hurdles the waves, like Usain Bolt, only with fur. He is uninhibited and for a moment I envy him because he isn’t scared of anything..

After a while he tires himself out and makes his way towards me. I crouch down to his level and stroke his face. He makes this noise, like he’s singing, only it’s more of a howl. It’s dog-speak for ‘I’m happy’.

Miraculously, his fur has dried out. How did that happen? Because it can, that’s why.

I put my face to his and breathe him in. He smells like sunshine. His aroma comforts me and I can feel my heart rate slowing right down. This moment lasts as long as I need it to, then he gives me one last look with those beautiful eyes before he ambles off towards the dunes..

I gaze down to see two sets of prints in the sand, one of hideous size 4 feet, the other of paws.

My four-legged friend is nowhere to be seen. No doubt he is lying in the shade somewhere chasing rabbits in his dreams..

A gentle breeze stirs up so I walk some more, watching as the clouds pass along the blue sky like big balls of cotton wool. If heaven exists, I want this to be mine.

My heart rate has returned to a steady beat and my breathing to normal. I am calm.

I stare at the ocean one last time then make my way towards the dunes where there are a set of steps. In reality, those steps lead to some public bogs that reek of piss but I edit that bit out because, well, it’s a bit shit.

As I climb the steps, I congratulate myself because Fear didn’t win this time. I showed that little shit who’s boss, i.e. me.

By the time I reach the last step, I am opening my eyes and blinking in the sunlight, or dinge, whichever is applicable. Back to life, back to reality..

The brain is a powerful thing. Thoughts can destroy and heal you in equal measure. My brain frustrates me on a daily basis with it’s catastrophic thoughts yet the memory of a much loved friend, who died over ten years ago, has the power to heal me.

The memory is real and it’s a privilege to have, just as it was a privilege to share part of my life with such a loving creature.

The first time I saw him in my guided relaxation, he simply appeared without me having thought of him. Did my subconscious bring him to me? Or did he find me?

Either way, I am grateful because each time I wake up panicking, I go to my special place and there he is, waiting for me.

Friend and Healer.

Footprints CC Image via Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shutting Down

Sometimes I need to shutdown.

I just stop functioning.

Even if I want to speak, the words won’t come.

Not even yes or no.

I am aware of you talking but I can’t answer.

Like a form of paralysis

I have no words to reassure you.

A storm is raging within me

My inner fight.

I’ll get through it.

As all storms pass

There may have been a trigger

A memory, thought or word.

Stuff builds up.

Things you’d never imagine would matter.

Trivial to you.

Astronomic to me.

Leave me to unravel my thoughts and I’ll come back

But for now I have to withdraw.

Like a computer that’s frozen

I need to shut down and restart.

I can’t process these thoughts..

They whirl inside my head.

Building momentum.

Overthinking.

Catastrophizing.

Big fuck off mountains out of molehills.

Thoughts you wouldn’t want..

So when I leave without explanation, let me go.

To sleep.

To escape.

In order for my mind to unravel itself.

I’m not doing it to hurt you.

Nor am I being intentionally rude.

It’s just that it’s necessary.

Survival mode.

My brain is wired differently..

Incompatible with this world.

Too much information

Sensory overload.

So I’m asking you to understand as best you can..

The reason why this happens

That it’s not you.

It’s me.

Spectrum Sunday