1 month…

(Warning gruesome photos included) Does a month seem like a short time or a long time to you? I think it often depends on what that month entails. I’ve been waiting for 11th January to arrive, and it seems to have taken some time. But it has now arrived. Today it is one month since my last tonic chlonic seizure – also known as grand mal, or big fits! After the last year and especially the last six months that is quite a major step. I have hinted at aspect of these seizures in previous blogs but I haven’t said anything specific. The seizure I had on the 11th December, well I can’t say a huge amount about what happened I can only really share the results. But the results may give you some idea as to why I’m so grateful today. I was home on my own, and had had a shower. I woke up on the bathroom floor with about an inch of water around me. I was VERY confused. I tried to get up but it is very difficult to get up on a wet tiled floor. I somehow managed, and walked out to the hall where the carpet was soaked as it was in the bedroom. I tried to dry up the water but all I wanted to do was sleep. I was eventually persuaded by my mum and some friends E and H that I should focus on the sleeping – the water will still be there and I needed to look after me. So PJs, sofa, sleeping was what happened, with gradual worrying about the water! As the afternoon went on I started to notice that my face was hurting, and that I was finding it difficult to talk, drink, or eat. I then took this photo Hmmmmmm not good! The swelling got worse, and my jaw was incredibly painful. A couple of days later … There’s honestly some improvement! This is one of the worst seizures I have had, and I am grateful not to have had any tonic chlonic seizures since. I am still having myochlonic (twitching and confusion) every day but I am dealing with that and I am closer now to going two months without a tonic chlonic which is closer to six months! We’re back to taking those small steps again!

Small

Last night myself and the husband were having a screen catch up with a friend. For some reason even when I was talking I kept going off screen. My beloved husband suggested it’s probably because I’m so short! Nice! Luckily I was sitting next to the arm he’d had a jab in this week! Anywho, I’d never really thought of myself as short, but over recent years more and more people have pointed it out to me. This is obviously exasperated by having a 6ft7 husband, but I have also found that short trousers do fit better! Anywho, is it an issue? Well, I don’t think so.

We often associate larger things with better. Our goals may be for bigger things, which may mean more expensive, more memory, or physically larger. However, if we look at the photo above we see hills, but those hills are the result of innumerable tiny grains of sand. The next day those hills will be completely different because the tiny grains will be in different places, moved by wind or sea or people.

Our lives are like those hills, made up of so many small things, but creating something magnificent. We need to recognise the small things as it can sometimes be something that we do to those small things that affects the magnificence of the entirety.

In my previous posts I have spoken about the journeys we are on; those journeys are made up of small steps. Our dreams may be big, but we have to be willing to go through the small steps to reach those dreams.

Yes I am considerably smaller than my husband but we both have our uses and together we work as a team. We are all different but there are many of us, and together we can create a team that can truly make a difference.

I’ll finish off with a couple of examples…

I do cross stitch – lots of individual stitches that make images eventually

I’ve played in Orchestras and sung in choirs – the different harmonies make a tune

What’s your role?

Brave

Since the first lockdown I have been regularly zooming with a prayer supporter from the diocesan healing centre. In our last session I was not in a good way, it was soon after I had damaged my jaw and I knew that I wouldn’t be seeing my mum over the Christmas break as well as being generally low. Anywho, she ended our session by reading a passage from the Bible which I can honestly say I was not familiar with: Jeremiah 6:16

This is what the Lord says “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…”

This passage was so perfect for me on that day, and still is today… I’m at a point when I don’t know what my future holds. This is partially because we don’t know what is happening as a result of the pandemic, but also I don’t know how I will respond to the new medication that I am taking, and how/when I’ll be returning to work.

Today, as I went for my walk I was listening to a song the lyrics of which include:

‘Cause you make me brave… you call me out beyond the shore into the waves’ (Bethel music, You make me brave

I am most definitely standing at the crossroads, and I have been convinced that there was only one path that I was destined to take. However, since hearing that passage, and listening to those lyrics I’ve realised it’s more that there’s only one path I know, and that I need to be willing to look down the other paths, and brave enough to try them if they are good.

There is a difference between braveness and stupidity and I think that’s what I’ve got to focus on the most. When I’m considering the different paths, even the one I’ve always been convinced is correct I need to ensure I would be brave to attempt it and not stupid.

Hmmmmmmmm that could be interesting!

The importance of hope

Last week on Christmas Eve I felt a renewed sense of understanding of the hope that Christmas brings through the birth of Jesus. What brought this understanding to the forefront of my mind? I finally got a prescription for my new medication which I had been waiting for for a long time, and my hope is that this medication is going to make a difference.

A definition of hope that I found was

“Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes”

Within Christianity there is a belief that Jesus is the light of the world, that his life brought light in to the world. We all know that light breaks through the darkness, and that is the hope that Christianity associates with the birth of Jesus. There is darkness in the world, but there is a hope that the light can be seen and can remove the darkness.

What is the darkness in your life? How can you bring hope and light in to those situations? What is your hope as we enter 2021?

My hope is that my new medication makes a difference and that I am then able to make a difference and bring a hope and light to others.

It is what it is?

I was watching the Paul O’Grady programme where he has been having a staycation in Kent. In the episode I was watching he was going shrimping in Dungeness, and the person he was shrimping with was saying that it was just what his life was, as that is what he has grown up doing.

I went for a walk with a friend this morning and as we were talking, walking and drinking coffee we ended up saying that that’s what life is, it is just what it is. We’d been talking about grammar schools – obviously- and she asked if there were grammar schools in Birmingham so I told her my story…

Yes, there are grammar schools in Birmingham but the ratio of grammar schools is considerably smaller to the ratio in Kent. When it came to choosing secondary school I really wasn’t that fussed. It came to the open morning at one of the girls grammar schools and I thought ‘I might as well look at it’; so I looked round the school and I thought ‘I might as well take the tests’; so I did the practice books and took the tests; I found out I’d passed and thought ‘I might as well go’. None of my friends were going, I knew nobody but for some reason I decided to go.

I can honestly say that decision made my life what it is; and yet none of it feels like decisions but just a series of ‘I might as well’ ‘It is what it is’.

It has been a VERY long time since I have written and that is simply because I have been struggling mentally and physically. The brain has been playing up which has led to numerous seizures and numerous injuries including black eyes, broken toes, and a bruised jaw! However, although there has been frustration I have often responded to people ‘It is what it is’.

My seizures started when I started secondary school, the two weren’t linked – more to do with age! They have been a part of my life ever since. I don’t believe there is a reason why they are a part of my life but they are. I just live with it, and do what I can, and don’t do what I can’t. I’ve known I’ll never drive; I know I spend most time around the end of the year indoors at night due to fireworks and Christmas decorations; I know not to go to discos; and I know I need to allow my body to rest after seizures. After all, it is what it is.

2020 has been a very strange year for all of us; it is very easy to focus on the negative. For example, this Christmas we weren’t able to see either of our mum’s in person. However we were able to speak to them both, go to church and spend time our family there, and have a blessed time just the two of us. There was no choice – it was what it was.

As we enter 2021 maybe ‘it is what it is’ needs to be a motto we try to hold on to. As I look back even when I haven’t really made decisions Good has come out of it; even as bad appears to be happening good can also result. I believe we all have a Path that we are walking along, we have company but may often feel alone. It is our path, t we may not understand why we are walking it, or why we are walking different bits at different times. It is at this point that I find I need to say…

IT IS WHAT IT IS

Traditions?

What traditions do you have? Are there certain meals you have on certain days? Certain dates that you do things? Certain decorations you use?

17 years ago the husband wanted to follow a tradition. 5 days earlier we had already decided we were going to get married, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. Then we were going to a service at canterbury cathedral, but went to the cloisters first. Gav got down on one knee and asked me to marry him (officially). In those 5 days he had phoned my dad and asked his permission. He wanted to follow tradition. I believe my dad, quite typically, responded “please take her from me”

I’ve just been watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during which they have the Yule Ball – a traditional dance where people wear traditional clothes.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment of whether Christmas is going to be cancelled. What this really means is are the traditions going to be cancelled. After all it’s not possible to cancel what Christmas celebrates. But what are the traditions people are worried about? Winter wonderlands; festive food courts; parties; turning on of lights etc

Why do we like traditions? Often they mean something to us, and will bring back memories. Sometimes it’s because we’re told that that is what we’re supposed to do. But do we need them?

I know after the event of 17 years ago my traditions started to change as the traditions of mine and the husbands merged!

I think we’re heading more to a time where we really do have to focus on what we’re able to do each day and be grateful for that than worry about what we’re not able to. Traditions can be good, can be fun, can be nice but there’s more to focus on at the moment.

Search to find

It’s not been an easy return to school. As well as dealing with bubbles, one way systems, social distancing, face masks, and virtual worship. I’ve also had to contend with a lump on the head, a black eye, an eye infection, the arm falling off my glasses mid lesson; numerous seizures and currently a broken toe.

E and another friend asked after my toe today, and once I’d given the update they both mentioned something along the lines of “at least it’s healing”. E now has a new name on my phone – “bloody positive friend”. No matter what is going on she will find the positive and she will encourage me to find it as well – I’m sure she’d agree that there are times it’s much easier than others.

At our church we have a part of the service which is called “moment of the week” – an opportunity for us to share what has happened in our week and to thank God for it. I always used to be someone who could be relied upon to share something during this time but since September I struggled, and rarely contributed – after all everything seemed so rubbish. However, a couple of weeks ago I was meeting with my house group from church and as part of our discussion we read an extract from Philippians 2 where it talks about not grumbling and shining like stars.

I came to the realisation that at times it’s not going to obvious what my moment of the week is going to be, but if I search for it I will find where God is at work. This week my motw was the family friends colleagues and pupils taking care of me and my broken toe!

You may know I’m a strictly and GBBO fan, both of which have only been possible because people have been willing to sacrifice their families to be able to go in to different bubbles. Both of these programmes have bought smiles to people’s faces and strictly especially has bought the necessary sparkle. The passage in Philippians talks about shining like stars in the sky, but in order to do that we need to search for the good that’s happening, be willing to make sacrifices and share the brightness around.

Go on SHINE!

Safety

What do you think of when you think of safety? You may think of a place or a person. You may think of an action or an outfit. At the moment you may have a very specific idea related to the pandemic. We will all have very different ideas of safety, and I know it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently and something that has actually been challenging me.

You may wonder how the concept of safety can be challenging. I’ll try and explain. Growing up I was a very accident prone child. Whether it was cycling off a bridge, ending up in hospital for six weeks after my second session at judo. Numerous cuts and bruises – I knew where the medical box was kept, and I knew quite well how A&E worked! Since being diagnosed with epilepsy I’ve also had some quite magnificent seizures, down the stairs at school, face first on a concrete floor, and down the stairs at home resulting in a lot plaster during the summer which is not good for someone who tans easily!

Injury has always just been a part of my life, not in a bad way, but just as a result of living. It never really bothered me. Yes there were frustrations but it seems to have changed now.

Over a year ago I had to stop running, why, because I kept losing my footing when walking so the result of that running would not be good (as I found out when I thought I’d give it a go and I fell) – essentially I didn’t feel safe. Last year we started a new system at school where a colleague would come in and check on me when they arrived in the morning to make sure all was ok. Over lockdown when the husband has been working, if I’ve gone out I’ve had a system where I’ve text a friend if I’ve been going out for a walk and texting when I’ve returned.

Safety has become forefront in my mind. I’m scared to do things on my own, I sometimes won’t leave the house because I’m worried I’ll have seizures, or even just fall whilst I’m out. I don’t want to become someone who just doesn’t do anything because they’re afraid they may get hurt, but I also know that I have to take my well being and safety seriously.

I was challenged on Friday to create a safe place in my office at work – not with cushioned walls but where I can go if I need it. But first of all I need to work out what safety is for me, how it has changed but also how I can try to ensure it doesn’t go too far the other way.

I pray that you feel safe in your life and journey

Jump

Tonight we happened to catch a bit of the first round in Total Wipeout – for those uneducated amongst you it’s basically a bunch of people, water, mud, and a bouncy inflatable assault course. The aim being to get round in the quickest time. The necessity being to JUMP.

Previously we’d watched/fallen asleep to the latest adaptation of the BFG. Again another necessity for jumping both to be able to collect the dreams, but also for the BFG to be able to travel between the land of beans (human beings) and the land of giants, finally for Sophie to hide from the not so friendly giants.

Last week we were walking by a river in Warwick. There were a bunch of kids who were jumping from a bridge into the river. I have to say I couldn’t blame them – it was boiling! Then there was this one lad who had climbed over the edge of the bridge and was holding on. He’d been there for ages. He just wouldn’t let go. His friends were jumping and he just stayed there. Im assuming he made it from the bridge at some point – but whether he jumped or whether he climbed back over I don’t know!

It’s nearly time… time to go back to school. I’ve had months out of the classroom, but even going back it’s all going to be different. I have to admit I’m scared, I’ve had a lot of thinking time, there’s things I know I need to address, things I need to change.

But most importantly I know I need to jump… it’s a necessity. Holding on isn’t going to be any help at all, but I need courage and I need to know the support I have around me. JUMP! I’ll let you know what happens when I do!

Layers

This morning we were sitting on the bus for a trip to the seaside. The husband was looking at his ‘memories’ on fb, and kept asking questions about them. Literally questions about the order in which things happened. I didn’t know the answers. In the end I just said ‘can we focus on today’.

Earlier in the week we finally took one of the duvet layers out and oh my goodness the difference it has made has been amazing.

We find layers everywhere in life. We are made of layers. Everything in our life has layered up to create who we are today.

However, we need to be careful. We have a picture above of a lovely layer cake but I’m sure we’ve all seen photos of the disastrous layer cakes. We can be the same with our layers, so how can we try to be more like the picture above and not the disasters?

Sometimes we need to let go of some of those layers that are holding us back. Sometimes we need to appreciate the layers that are building us up but focus more on the layers we’re part of at the moment. Other times we need to think about the layers ahead of us and what we need to do to build those layers

Layers are part of our every day lives, we are made of layers. They make us who we are but we need to make sure we don’t focus too much on what layers have taken place, what layers are going to happen but…

Remember and appreciate where you are.