After

I’m in a book hangover. I love it.

For those of you who have never been fortunate – yes, fortunate – to have experienced one yet, let me explain.

A book hangover overwhelms you. It’s when, after – and arguably during – reading a particular book, you get so engrossed in what you’re reading that the essence of the book surrounds you. It’s like being in that book’s bubble or fleece throw or…like that books lens. It’s a warm glow. You think about the book …its words, it’s essence….its ideas. How it made you think and feel.

I’ve read many, many books in my life. Only a small handful have made me feel this way.

I started, and finished, the book within 12 hours including some sleep. I started it last night, read 3/4 before forcing myself to switch off the light at 2am and then finished it this morning.

The book, ‘After you’ by Jo Jo Moyes, just gripped me. It’s a sequel to ‘Me, before you’. That also gave me a book hangover. I’ve had ‘After you’ for 18 months. I started it but wasn’t ready – its themes too painful. 

‘After you’ is a fictional book about living life, starting life again after bereavement. It’s a love story,  a life story. It’s not a self help book or a work of literary heritage. But it moved me to the core. It may not for you – and that, that is the beauty of reading.

I’ve read a lot recently – since finishing my job. That’s one of the biggest ironies of life- as a full time English teacher, I never have the time to read normally. Sad, isn’t it?

I’ve read lots of trashy novels of late – Shades of Grey and others. Sometimes that’s what I want to escape into – stories of passion, strong men and strong but feminine women. It’s not the sex, although there’s nothing wrong with a sexy scene, but I actually like these books. I like reading about how in even romantic fiction, relationships are messed up by people’s pasts, insecurities and jealousy.

And so, here I am. Back in my multicoloured garden, shrouded by my book hangover… which has deliciously merged with other thoughts and events in my head to find those amazing coincidences in life which make you sit up and listen to what the world is trying to tell you.

Life is meant to go wrong.

It really is. Read that again, let it sink in. Life going wrong, is actually right. It’s what is meant to happen. Every wrong turn, bump in the road, false start, stall, breakdown, cruise control,  speed chase….all of it is part and parcel of a normal life.

Often, events on the road of your life happen without you. You don’t cause them or instigate them, but they happen anyway. Sometimes, a seemingly wrong decision- or indecision- causes them. I don’t know what’s worse in that case. But it’s what we do after that matters. What we learn, how we pick ourselves up…it doesn’t matter how long that takes.  It doesn’t matter if we limp or crawl, jog or sprint. It’s just the moving again that matters. Because not moving, is not living. And we have to live to feel alive.

So, after a false start at my new school, today is my last official day there. I’ve spent it so far, finishing a wonderful book and then sitting in my garden with a coffee.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve left my job again. It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent 18 months feeling lost. What matters, now, is what I do after. How I move forward. How I keep going.

The path, road, I’ve been on doesn’t disappear as I move forward. If I turn around and look – something I’ve been doing far too much of – its still there. Every obstacle and every clear road is there for me to see. They’ve shaped me, in a way. But it’s more than that. I’ve shaped myself. I’ve had to adapt to each and every deviation.  I’ve had to overcome it all, one way or another. And I have. I have.

I’ve moved very, very slowly for some time now. But that’s the thing, when you’re moving. You can look out the car window and not have any idea what speed you’re actually going at. The world passes you by at seemingly the same speed regardless of how fast you’re actually going.

And that’s how life is, isn’t it? Time passes regardless. Every moment is a before and a now and an after. The trick is to hold on all at the same time and keep moving. Looking only backwards slows you. Staying in the now stalls you. Looking only forward scares you or makes you race without seeing what’s going on around you. Hold on to all three and just keep moving…moving towards your happily ever after.

Advertisement

The rat, the dog and the Honeysuckle

Oh sweet, sweet coincidences!

I will learn your lessons.

The scent of the honeysuckle is bordering on overpowering for some, but not for me. My garden, overgrown as it is, doesn’t have many flowers. There’s quite a few buttercups. Some determined forget-me-nots made an appearance weeks ago. If you look hard enough, you can see a cheeky aquilegia, popping up here and there. My daughter bought me a couple of plants which I potted and they look nice. And in the overgrown ivy, the weight of which is pulling down the decorative fence my dad and uncle built, there is the almost luminescent glow of the red-pink climbing roses that my dad loved, the ones we put in his coffin and a fact that I had forgotten about until this moment. (It’s the anniversary of his death, and it’s my uncle’s funeral this week. Another coincidence.) And then, blending in with it all visually are the honeysuckle.

I can’t remember when I planted them. I would guess around 7 years ago or a little less. If I remember rightly, it was definitely before dad died, when I went throught that gardening phase again. I had subscribed to a garden magazine and bought them on offer. I think there was a clematis too, but I guess that one got smothered by the ivy.

Cheeky aquilegia and my birthday pots.
Dad’s roses
Can you spot the honeysuckle?

When I was stood outside at 5am this morning, dressed only in a vest top and knickers and an air of despair, the scent of honeysuckle was one of the three things that hit me. The scent was stunning and brought me to a halt. The second thing, was how beautiful the morning is at 5am. I breathed it in through every sense and cell of my body: the green, the smells and the sound of garden birds. A sense of wellbeing like no other enveloped me in a warm embrace. The last thing was that I knew, there and then, in that second, that Everything was OK, and I know now that Everything will be OK.

**************************************

The past few days have been hell. I can say that now I’m on the other side. I’ve been tortured by my own mind.

My children left on Wednesday evening. As always, it comes with a sense of relief that I get a break and a sharp pang of loneliness that they are gone and I will never get used to that oxymoron of feelings.

Thursday I was overwhelmed with loneliness. It was a beautiful day and I was determined to do something but with a heart-wrenching acknowledgement that I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. A museum? An art gallery? I knew that being outside made me feel better and I considered a National Trust property. But the desire to be with someone stabbed at me every turn. My sisters and daughter are on holiday. Wildcard is in his country, where I should be if I had got on that booked plane a few days ago. My friends? Ha! What friends?

As I tried to decide where to go, past friends haunted me. Why have they all disappeared? Am I such a bad person? Do I walk away or do they?

That loneliness just compounded everything I was feeling already. Dark, dark thoughts. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Despair.

At some point over the past few days, I’ve prayed for help. I’ve prayed for my dad or my grandad or any of my family to help me. To guide me where I feel lacking.

The first coincidence is that I opened up WordPress in an attempt to write out my feelings, but couldn’t. Instead, I went to my notifications and saw that a previous post had been liked: 5am. Not remembering what it was, I read it. It was from December last year, and recounted the exact feelings and situations that are now plaguing me. Six months later, I’m back in the same situation.

Now is not the time to go into detail on this point, but the summary is this… I have, yet again, to make a career decision. I’ve a number of opportunities in front of me and I need to decide between money, time and career prospects. I’m stumped.

The coincidence of opening that post and reading word for word that I am in a similar situation (but with a lot more positives, I hasten to add) was not lost on me. I didn’t see the positives yesterday, I saw that I hadn’t moved or changed. The acknowledgement that I was still stuck, lost, undecided…wasting my life…added another layer of self hatred and despair on to me.

I’ve contemplated everything the last few days. The thoughts have been fleeting but there. Maybe I’m better off not here. What good am I to anyone? I’ve failed in everything. I’ve lost everything. I’m alone and no one cares. I’ve dwelled on my time at my last school. The end of that time has destroyed me and my confidence, even now a year later. (That I know now, sitting in my garden breathing in honeysuckle.)

I’ve considered my relationship with Wildcard. Is it worth it? Am I waiting round like a fool again, only to be left at some point? How can this ever work? Will he ever, truly and officially, commit? Today, of course, Honeysuckle Day, I see how consistent he has been, unlike others. Whilst he has not yet committed to me in the way I want, we have discussed it and he has been consistent in every other way, more than anyone else. My fear of losing him, my everything outside my children and sisters, terrifies me. I know I will never love again when I lose him, whichever way and whenever that may be.

I went to bed last night broken and dejected. A failure. I couldn’t sleep at first, not because of my thoughts, unusually, but because of the rodent.

I could hear it gnawing.

I suspected a rat. The noise was too loud. Plus, a few days ago, I noticed that there was a lot of carpet fluff that had been chewed off upstairs near a closed door. I’d shut all the doors and blocked a previous hole I had stupidly left open from a previous year. The coincidence here is that I had stupidly said, not a week ago, to my neighbours, that I’d had no mice in the house since I had my cat Arlo.

Yep, I invited them in with that comment.

I banged about, and let my dog out of my bedroom to see if he would scare it off. Sure, one of the cars would have been better but they do nothing on command so the dog would have to do. The rodant was scared off luckily, enough so we could fall asleep. On my visit to my mum yesterday, we’d talked about the menagerie of pets and how tying they were – part of the reason I hadn’t pushed to use my plane ticket to see Wildcard and why I left mum early to get home to check on them. In answering her question, no I would never get rid of my dog because he makes me feel safe: I bought him when Dad died and I felt so alone in the house. He makes me feel safe.

So we slept. Until 4.30am and the sound of the gnawing woke me again.

It was loud. I wandered out and turned lights on. It was coming from my son’s room, next door to mine, and I walked in to find the noise. I felt the reverberations of the gnawing on the bare floorboards under my feet and I jumped in fear. I stamped on the ground and the noise stopped enough that I went back to bed. It of course started again as soon as I lay down. Somehow I knew that blocking the hole had trapped it.

I went to the bathroom. As I bleakly considered what the hell I was to do as i washed my hands, wishing again I wasn’t alone, I heard a bang and a squeak and shrieked as I saw the rat, being chased by my dog up the stairs and on to the landing. My dog stopped- either by my shriek or as I now suspect, by the scratch he received on his nose the moment he nearly caught it. The rat, now confirmed, hid under the large antique dresser on my landing, close to the previous crime scene of chewed carpets.

This, this was the point that I went downstairs and outside, noting it was 5am as I strode through the kitchen . This was the moment that I stood on my lawn in my knickers, wondering what the hell I was to do, when the smell of honeysuckle, the vibrancy of the morning green, the symphony of birdsong all overpowered me. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t wed the borders or even cut the grass. It was beautiful and peaceful and perfect. This was the moment that all the coincidences came together…when I knew that I had received my messages, my answers, my support, one way or another.

Be it a message from my family, from God, or my own mind…I’ve heard it.

Everything will be ok.

************

If you are wondering, I took my older cat – the only one around – upstairs, after locking my dog in the kitchen. The cat wasn’t interested and ran back downstairs. I went back outside and found a spade, let my dog back upstairs, and attempted to singlehandedly move the antique dresser whilst hoping I would be quick enough to grab the spade and whack it. Realising my optimistic stupidity, I was moving the dresser back when I saw a flash, heard a sound of something ‘falling’ down the stairs and realised the rat had made a dash for it and had no doubt escaped down and out the open doors to outside. My dog made no move to stop it and had simply watched it go and then looked at me. With a small scratch on his nose and the fact it had ran straight past him with little fear, I could hardly blame him for not attempting to get it again. He’d done his job. And seemingly, coincidences have now done there’s.

My heart

Needless to say if you read last nights post, I was feeling low this morning and fearful of how Wildcard may have reacted to my very late night text (which I didn’t think he would see or respond to until the morning) and our subsequent tear filled phone call.

As always though, he called, he was fine and I remonstrated with myself for doubting him. I’m not sure what he needs to do to stop me thinking like that -and that is the answer. It’s me that needs to change.

Somewhat happier but still overcast with the gloom of cancelled flights and the unknown future, I went into my Dad’s shed to cut some wood for the fire. Apart from the addition of more wood, it is exactly how he left it when he died. I go in there only when I have to and that tends to be when I have ran out of bought wood so need to cut some. Dad wouldn’t be happy with either of those facts. In this large shed, I have memories of packing potatoes, Halloween parties, Dad’s flatbed truck and in later years, Dad’s beautiful wood carvings.

So, in I go. I balance a long, thin strip of wood so that I can hit it and split it with the axe. (Don’t try this at home). I managed to split a few before one stubborn piece leaves me panting and frustrated. I smack it a few times whilst it is on the ground, spraying soil and wood shavings around. And then, something springs up from the ground, uncovered by my frustration and ineffectual use of the axe.

I recognise its shape immediately. It’s a large wooden heart.

Dad made heart shaped necklaces (which I wear whenever I need him near me). He made me a beautiful wooden heart plaque made from 3 hearts from different stained wood.

This is bigger though. It’s covered in mud and I don’t know what state it is in underneath. It is now sat on my woodburner, drying out, before I can brush off the mud and see what is underneath.

Regardless, the sight of that heart appearing from the dark soil…hidden for so long, made me smile. Dad is watching me and he is telling me that love can survive the dark times – it is still there, even when it seems hidden or far away.

Thank you Daddy xxx

Signs and coincidences

This week I ventured into the unknown and the downright dangerous. I cleaned my car.

This just shows the level of my boredom and need of distraction. My car was bad. Three kids. A total lack of interest in my car and the knowledge that I can barely cope with my house. The car is right at the bottom of my priority pile. So you can imagine… Toys, food wrappers, food, shoes, coats, carrier bags, receipts, books…..

The boot was particularly bad. I’d taken to piling things on top of what was already there. Embarrassing but true.

I found some truly interesting things in my car… Think, ‘oh! That’s where it was!’ Like my marriage certificate, which I had to pay £50 for a replacement when I applied for my divorce. Or my son’s lost PE kit. And some books that I bought from a second hand book shop when I went walking with my friend…in October.

I love reading. I’m an English teacher. But recently, I have really, really struggled to read. I’m not alone in this, fellow book lovers on Facebook have reported the same thing – the level of anxiety in our current world is affecting our ability to concentrate. I can’t read the books for book group. I can’t read my favourite books. I can’t read books I have bought recently that I really fancied. Nothing is grabbing me.

But, finding my little paper bag of books was a bit like finding lost treasure. My friend and I had been to visit the historic sight of the Pendle Witch Trials. Anyway, we both love books and second hand book shops. In one such second hand shop I bought an old leather copy of Jane Eyre and I also bought the following book, just because I liked the sound of it:

So, as you do when you buy a new book, I flicked through the first few pages and read a few lines… Then a few more… A day later and I have almost finished it.

This book is scary. No, it’s not a horror. It a memoir, a true account of a woman who reconnected with her long lost love 20 years later. No, what’s scary about it, is how much I can relate to it. I bought this book before I met Wild Card online.

The writer is 39 years old and the book starts off where she is in an unhappy marriage:

Just how I felt…
I had a conversation like this with my friends
Me and my ex had this conversation (apart from the having kids part as we already had three!)
I’ve had this response from many family and friends.

And then there’s the descriptions of how she feels about her foreign lover…

Er… Yep. Exactly.
Yep, we have both laughed at my stupid misunderstandings
I am 5ft 5 too. And Wild Card is only just taller than me and we had a conversation about shoes…

And then the description of arranging and first meeting him:

I had this conversation.
I may have had a few errant thoughts like this… I was certainly scared he wouldn’t pick me up.
Yep.
Baggage didn’t delay me, but passport control did. And he called, worried that I hadn’t come out yet. I wasn’t wearing a dress. Or a thong.

And then, when we had met…

Yes to the love, yes to being scared and even yes to the ‘wife’ part.

Even ignoring how I can relate to this book, it is a lovely read… Romantic and heart warming and well written. I strongly recommend it.

And once again, ‘coincidences’ have shown me the way. Today I should have been flying out to be with Wild Card. I’m heart broken. But this book is giving me hope. You can have a happily ever after.

The calm after the storm

I can only hope that the ‘jealousy’ incident a few days ago and our conversation about it has made us stronger. It certainly appears that way.

I don’t know whether it is me or him but things have shifted again but for the better.

Since my own self reflection and processing, I’ve tried really hard to be positive and to stop my anxious thoughts in their tracks. I’ve definitely felt happier, if you can in these weird circumstances across the world, and have tried to smile more and laugh more. Any time something has happened which starts an anxious and jealous ruminating, I’ve repeated my mantra in my head or re-read my own post. It’s working so far.

As you know, I rarely believe that coincidences are coincidental… A couple of nights ago, whilst I was trying to process all this, I received a private message on Facebook. It was from a man that I have ‘befriended’ through a group we both follow. He is his 60s so I’m guessing he is not after anything romantic (!?) but rather that he is lonely. He’s from Germany so the conversation was a little stilted as we both referred to online translators. We talked about this and that – our dogs, Coronavirus etc etc. But then he commented on my profile picture. He said that I was a pretty woman with a beautiful smile and that I should smile more. I was a little taken aback. I wondered whether this was translation gone wrong. I questioned him a little more – he apologised for his directness and has since done so again – but said that my pictures had contained less smiling recently. The next day he apologised again for his directness. He’s told me that he has a brain tumour and so no longer feels the need to guard what he says as much. Sure, there are a few alarm bells ringing here and I’m thinking he’s just a lonely man needing some online community in this challenging time, rather than someone mercenary.

But even if he isn’t, his comments made me reflect on myself in the past few weeks. I do need to smile more. Even when there isn’t much to smile about. And so I have: I’ve pushed away the smile-crushing negatives as best I can and therefore have been/appeared/felt happier.

And either because of that, or because we talked about it, Wild Card has seemed more affectionate. I’m still getting the same amount of time and calls but more verbal affection – a few little compliments subtly given and many more ‘I love you’s. He is still being his cheeky and teasing self but I wouldn’t want it any other way – we appear to have the right balance at the moment. Long may it continue.

Love highs and love lows

A weekend of highs and lows. It just seems to be the way at the moment.

Friday was fine overall – we chatted in the day and he called me a couple of times at night. I’m starting to realise more that when he’s quiet it is usually because he is tired.

Saturday, I did not get up in a good place. I’d spoken to one of my friends who had been self isolating for four days due to a medical condition. He’d spent those four days scouring the net about Corona. So by the time I spoke to him, he was extremely anxious. Whilst I had tried to comfort him, some of what he had said stuck with me. I woke up emotional and negative. I was questioning the importance of everything, Wild Card included.

But Wild Card and I got through that. We spoke numerous times over the weekend. The teasing, the laughing, the affection is all there. We even had some sexy talk.

The highlight for me was rather unexpected though. 90% of our communication is through videochat and over the course of a day, we are probably online two to three hours. (That’s what made the day where we didn’t talk much, so bad.)

This weekend though, I got a phonecall. Yes, you read right. A phonecall. ‘So what?’ I hear you say. Well, the thing about a phonecall with someone you are attracted to, is that you can’t focus on their face and expressions. It’s all about the voice. And my goodness, what a voice. I hadn’t realised just how sexy it was! As in, my heart was pounding and I actually felt turned on. Oh. MY.

It also felt a little like when I first met him in person. I knew him, knew his face and his voice, and yet experiencing that without a screen felt familiar and yet other at the same time. I remember sitting in the car on the way back from the airport and just listening to his voice in real life and thinking, wow. Perhaps that’s why it had such an effect on me this week. I’ve heard his voice practically every day for months now, and yet without the video it sounds different. And really, really hot.

Last night ended up being a lowlight unfortunately, after a weekend of positivity.

Where to start. His ex contacted him whilst we were talking. He told me she had messaged him. I remind him that she had messaged him before and he had told me what she said. (She misses him. Nine years and a marriage to someone else later.) He asked whether he should reply and I said it was not my business, at first, which he found amusing. I may have then made my feelings clear about contacting him when she was married. I asked if she knew about me, expecting a no. He admitted that he had told her about me and that he was in a relationship with me. She’d asked him how it was going and he had said good, he liked it.

So I was happy with that. But then somehow we got on to my past relationships and although I told him what I thought he already knew , something I said hit a nerve. He went very quiet very quickly and said he was going. I wouldn’t let him, saying we needed to talk about it. He wouldn’t. I could see he was agitated but he wouldn’t talk. So I talked too much. And cried, again. He doesn’t like it when I cry. He told me that he loved me: ‘you know that’. He said I had done nothing wrong but… I know there was something.

This morning, on what is starting to become a nasty ritual, I sent a long text once again stating what I feel for him. I told him that those past relationships had led me to him, had made me value him so that I could cope with the challenges of an LDR and I really believe that. I told him we needed to talk when he was unhappy with something. He text back, briefly, but said all was well and pretended that nothing had happened. I couldn’t do any more.

Some days, I really feel that the world talks to you, if you listen carefully. There are no coincidences. Whether it’s God or a loved one, I don’t know. But somehow, things fall into place.

For instance, it was my first day in work since the schools shut down. I was asked to do something really unusual – write a letter which I then had to post manually to local residents. It was bizarre but the best thing. I was in the Spring sunshine. It gave me thinking time but equally, it put everything into perspective. I saw beautiful flowers hidden under hedgerows. I saw a red leaf on the ground which looked like perfect pouty lips. Little things that pulled my mind out of despair about Corona and my currently tumultuous relationship with Wild Card.

I got a videochat late afternoon but it was one of those where he wants me present but we have little to say to each other. I suppose it feels like us sitting in the same room whilst one person is watching TV and the other is reading. It lasted about 40 minutes despite that.

After the call, I went on Facebook. Maybe there’s something on there that scans your phone and sends you content pertinent to you. But 3/4 of the articles on there were about self love and the importance of loving yourself if you want a relationship to work. (I haven’t written or searched for self love btw). It all hit home. I’ve got to be more positive. I was allowing everything to drag me down again.

I got up and thought about everything. The messages I had received from the cosmos. That I need to practice self love and that was something that I wasn’t. To value the little things again. I was crying too much, being sensitive too much. It needed to change. I needed to be positive.

How different the other calls were after that! The last call felt like this last few weeks hadn’t happened. We were laughing at the stupid things I have said when our language differences have led to misunderstandings – and believe me they are stupid. We had much fun remembering them and talking through them and we both laughed freely. He is intelligent and witty and I love that about him. And how, even though we are laughing at my stupid mistakes, I can see the love in his face. It’s a weird concept because no other boyfriend has made me feel humble like that but I really like it. He loves me for me, mistakes and all. Highlights and lowlights.

Coincidence

For the second night in a row I’m struggling to sleep. True, I’ve not slept in my own bed for the past two nights but I’m tired enough and unwell enough that this shouldn’t matter.

I’m on a residential course for work and it’s been really inspiring. It’s been nice to focus positively on my job and on my role and feel empowered again. Whilst I have always been committed to doing a good job, even in the beginning of my grief, I haven’t felt that passion… I haven’t cared about my job as I used to. It’s just a job: I will try my best and that’s it.

This last year has drained me of strength. My break down/burn out last November and then the sharp decline of my Dad’s health, leading to his death in June…they’ve drained me. I’m still not myself and I’ve begun to wonder whether I ever will be again. I can’t be the same me as I’ve never been me without my Dad until now. He’s not there behind me; encouraging and supporting. How can I possibly be the same person now?

My current struggle is around the spirituality of his death. Let me explain.

I miss and love my Dad so much that I cannot believe he has truly gone. I know he’s dead and I know he’s not coming back. But a part of me still believes he’s there.

In the past two months, I have been on a few trips. Each time, things have happened that have made me feel like my Dad is near. Not ghostly happenings. Just coincidences. A lot of them.

Today, for once, immersed in my training, Dad was not there. My mind has raced and planned and considered and evaluated in order to implement this training effectively when I return to work. The distraction has been good, empowering. My mind has felt clearer, more focused than it has for a while.

I’ve thought about Dad today – of course I have. He is always in my thoughts. But my emotional baggage of grief took a welcome back-step today.

And then tonight, as all of us delegates sat eating dinner together, two of Dad’s songs came on. One from his death and funeral, another that I sang to him when he was unconscious. It’s not the first time that this has happened, even though the songs are pretty old. Think how many thousands of songs there are – what are the odds?

Dad was back there, in my head, pushing work out for a few moments. I didn’t cry – for once – but I felt him near. I’m still here, I’m with you. I wasn’t looking for these signs. For once, Dad was not at the forefront of my mind. And yet, there they were.

As I returned to my room, thinking of him, thinking of this situation, my eyes alighted on the pictures in my hotel room. I looked at them before, when I arrived. I knew what they were but the association only appeared as I returned to my room. Pictures of carved wooden ducks, just like my Dad made. Not live ducks. Not a painting of ducks on a lake. A painting of carved ducks on a shelf.

Is this coincidental? Spiritualists believe that coincidences are messages. Are you with me Dad? Are you telling me that no matter where I go, you’re still around?

I hope so. But is this wishful thinking? Is this a grieved mind fighting for hope and survival? I am in internal conflict: reality v hope. Realism v spiritualism. Is this what grief truly is? A hazardous path to acceptance?

I have no way of knowing. No one does. So all I can do is focus on this moment. Memories of my Dad, reminders of my life with him are all around me. And if they make me feel like he’s near, then so what? Whether he’s a spirit giving signs or strong memories being recalled, it really doesn’t matter. Dad was a huge part of my every day life – is it so surprising that so many things bring him near? I feel him close either way and that is all that it important for now.

Coincidence

I once read a book which talked about coincidences. My mum was very much into Spiritualism at the time and recommended into me. It was less about Spiritualism as such (mediums and clairvoyance etc) and more about our relationship with the natural world. They advocated spending time with nature, eating simple organic food, meditation…. And taking notice of the coincidences around us, messages from our guides. Putting the Spiritualism to one side, it was a powerful book even if you were not a believer. (When I remember the name I will post it in the comments)

Coincidences have the power to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Whether you are just simply attuned to them or they just happen and you are alerted to them, they’re pretty weird. From reading that book, I’ve always believed that you should take note of them: whether from an ethereal being or simply your subconscious trying to tell you something, it’s worth having a think when they crop up.

Last week, for the first time in about ten years, a pupil made a comment about my weight. He’s not a pupil that I know very well. I’m nowhere near as heavy as I was in January this year thanks to the Keto diet. I am however still a stone heavier than I was a year ago. I know I’m overweight. It’s quite obvious I’m overweight. And I’ve no doubt that there has been many a pupil that have called me all the ‘fats’ under the sun when I have had to sanction them. But, they’ve always had the respect to not to do this to my face. In fact, one of the boy’s friends, a boy I do know, openly said how “sly” it was after it had been said. In some ways, this actually made me feel worse about my weight – like it is something the pupils who I get on with pity me for. The other pupil irritated more for his lack of respect, not what he actually said.

Anyway it was dealt with, calmly, and we move on.

This morning I woke up and, looking in the mirror, felt huge even though I have only put a few pounds on since Dad got ill. It’s the second day of my period and I’m going out tonight – always a source of anxiety for someone overweight (What am I going to wear? Will I actually be able to find something that makes me feel nice and pretty?) But, knowing that keeping positive is always the best way to stay on a diet and feel good about yourself, I chose some nice clothes to wear, felt good, and went out early to the shops.

So far so good. I even dared to think about whether I might see a handsome single man, fresh from the gym, browsing the Booths’ aisles at 8am in the morning. Fat chance. 😊

Instead I saw someone I used to work with twenty years ago. She’s older than me, 50 in a couple of days apparently, but we used to get on well and she even came to my 21st birthday party. It was nice to see her and have a catch up, and we laughed about how hard it was to shop with the kids (My four year old was being a little demanding) when she said it.

“Ooh, are you expecting again then?” to which I just patted my stomach and replied,

“oh no, I’m just fat I’m afraid.”

She was embarrassed and I felt sorry for her, rather than myself – at that moment anyway. Being honest, the comment has not left my head ad ever since.

Yes, I am overweight. Yes, the top I wore could be perceived as a maternity top (light, floaty and nipped in under the bust and designed to hide a belly, pregnant or not). Plus I had a young child with me and am still, just about, in child producing age.

Coincidence or just the world telling me to lose weight? Who knows but I know I need to listen.