How to not go ‘Back to Black’ and find more confidence with colour!

Do you always go for the same colour when you buy something new? 🙋‍♀️

Or maybe you’ve found yourself in the changing cubicle in your favourite store having no idea if you can carry something off? You know it isn’t right, but you just can’t quite put your finger on why?

Wouldn’t it be great to have an expert eye with you to tell you whether something suits you knowing that it’s an honest opinion?

How would you like that; every, single, time?

As I write this, I’m feeling a little smug, because I now have that superpower! Continue reading “How to not go ‘Back to Black’ and find more confidence with colour!”

My ‘Magic’ night with a Stripper!

Image result for magic mike live

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a place I never thought I would ever be…. at a strip show! I’m not a prude by any means, but I’ve never really bought into the enjoyment of watching men throw their hoses around… I mean, let’s be honest, they’re not the most attractive thing are they… even with the hunky, oil clad body to go with it!

So, when a couple of friends got very excited about the Magic Mike Live Tour last year and suggested we get tickets, I soon found myself agreeing to go. I swear there might have been some anticipation that Channing Tatum was actually going to be in it which added to their excitement – like that was ever going to happen!

What sold it for me was that we got tickets to go on my birthday which, I have to be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy since losing Mum.  My 40th birthday was the last time I sat with her and had a meal, so it brings back those memories rather than celebrating surviving another year!

This birthday however, was going to be different! I was spending it with my girls… my oldest friends from school who are lovingly referred to as ‘The Butch Girls’.  We’ve still never really got to the bottom of the name, but it’s been around since our teens! Maybe it was our dancing style that provoked it… it really does need to be seen to be believed… think Tina Turner singing ‘Nutbush’… that’s us!!

So, the big day arrives, it’s mid-morning and we were on our way to London with left over Christmas chocolates and some ‘special Lemonade’… don’t judge… it was my birthday! The six of us were all staying at ‘London Butch’s’ house just a few tube stops away from central London so that was a bonus!

‘Magic Mike Live’ is being shown at the Hippodrome Casino in the corner of Leicester Square so you can’t miss the entrance!  Bright lights and lots of tasteful black and white posters of men along the side of the building. Inside the building was even more impressive.  Being set in a Casino, I suppose you would expect nice surroundings, but the staff there were also so helpful and made everyone feel special and looked after.

There was a cloakroom to leave your coats (with no charge – which was refreshing for London) so we weren’t lugging around our winter warmers all evening. And no raffle ticket system… you simply give them your mobile number and they text you your ‘tag number’. How fancy!

Who knew there was a theatre located inside of the casino?  You wouldn’t know it was there if you were visiting to have a drink or play Blackjack, but there is a small intimate theatre at the back… which was precisely where we were going to be watching young men, most of them young enough to be our sons (argh) strip off!

What we weren’t expecting was quite how intimate the theatre was.  From the floor plan when we booked, it looked like we were a little way back and safe from any ‘flying objects’ but we were shocked to find that we were actually really close to the stage, despite being on the second from back row!  I can’t lie, I was starting to feel pretty excited (not in that way – you dirty bugger) about the show now.  I still didn’t like the thought of anything flying near my face but thankfully we had one row in front of us to shield us from anything unwanted!

The show started and it was no surprise to see the usual cliché strippers coming out.. the fireman, the builder and all the other members of the Village People!  I don’t want to drop any spoilers, but thankfully, it did not stay that way and the show took a whole different turn.

What made the show for me was the ‘MC’ running the show. It wasn’t some powerhouse ‘uber babe’ with sculpted arms that I could only dream of, but a funny, relatable woman that wouldn’t look out of place in our friendship group. She was a ‘normal’ with curves and a tummy. Best of all, she was oozing with confidence and had us in fits of laughter all evening, saying it like it is and giving the ‘boys’ a run for their money!

What I wasn’t expecting from the show was how tasteful it was for ‘that kind of show’. It wasn’t all dicks flying around and baby lotion everywhere.  There was lots of brilliant dancing (think Justin Timberlake) but with plenty of tops off and I counted just one (but very pert) bottom!

I’d also expected the women there to be rampant as they tend to be at these sorts of shows – the ones that are baying for blood screaming ‘Get ‘em off’, but there wasn’t too much of that.  It was a really fun atmosphere where nobody felt threatened… the men or the women!   Of course, there is always one! Typically right in front of us was a rather gobby girl that couldn’t help but get up constantly when the guys were walking around the floor.  We were hoping she was going to get booted out, but she eventually got the message from the security staff.

What was also reassuring was they made it clear that if you didn’t like anything that was going on around you ie; man gyrating his pelvis at you, that you simply shout the magic word… ‘Unicorn’ and they will leave you be. I have to admit, I went from ‘oooh, I’m not going up there’, to ‘pick me, pick me’ within the first half hour!

There was something for everyone in the show, all tastes were covered!  There was also a brilliant section of the show with a man and woman doing a routine which got us all a little hot under the collar.  One of my girls described it as ‘expressive dance’, but the rest of us all knew it was bordering on soft porn!!

Well, they say you should be careful what you wish for… at the end of the show I had my own Magic Mike experience! No, I didn’t get called up and asked to sit on a chair while some hunk wiggled his arse into my lap… but one of the lads did lean over me and did some kind of grinding – thanks to the row in front leaving during the last number.  Unfortunately, all I got from it was for it all to go dark for 10 seconds and that was it!  I didn’t even clock which fella it was!

So, if you’ve never been to a strip show before or never fancied one, I would definitely give this a whirl! It’s good fun and was just what we needed at the beginning of dreary January after surviving the Christmas holidays.

And best of all… Channing Tatum WAS in it… but you’ll need to watch it to find out where!

Until next time,

Love and hugs… TOMD xxx

Going with the flow & not sweating the small stuff at Christmas!

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Actually, for the first time in a few years, I am excited for Christmas!

Not to sound like a miserable cow, but I must admit, the last couple of years have felt a bit shit without Mum being here. She was my Christmas. So much of how you celebrate the festive period is built around how you spent it as a child.  All the traditions, the smells, the songs, the 80’s brash decorations! I loved all of it!

I certainly don’t want this to be a sad blog just before Christmas, but I know a few people that are experiencing Christmas for the first time this year without one of their parents, or a parent that is incredibly ill and I just want you to know that you’re in my thoughts.  It doesn’t seem like it now, but I want you to know that it does get just a little bit easier as the years pass.

I can’t believe that this is the third Christmas without Mum. I remember the particularly well…  Ellie constantly raising her glass to Nanny – which felt like a knife to the gut every time she said it, and I remember it just feeling very empty without her there.

That first Christmas was also the year that George Michael died, on Christmas Day! I’d managed to pretty much hold myself together that whole day, but when hubby came in and told me he’d passed away, the flood gates open.  I’m not sure whether I was crying for Mum or George, but I just let it flow!

I was surprised at the resilience I found to get through the day… until I’d drunk my weight in gin and the news of George Michael passing away was announced.  Your brain is a very powerful organ and it does everything it can to protect you – including pushing thoughts and feelings to the back of your mind so you can get on with life.  However, if you need to let those feelings out… do that too. My mantra was ‘just go with it’…. Your body will tell you what you need to do.

To be honest, the last few years, I’ve avoided doing some things that made me think of mum at Christmastime, like shopping trips.  It was just too hard to walk around and be reminded that Mum isn’t here. Seeing lots of mums and daughters picking out presents, having lunch with bags piled up next to them, I hated it! Thank goodness for Amazon – it’s been my saviour the last few years!  This year however, I did drag hubby for some Christmas shopping and all was fine.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is, if you don’t feel like doing things because they feel too difficult, then don’t do them.  Look after your sanity – there’s always another year.

I must admit, I have been a little more relaxed about Christmas this year.  I remember in the past, feeling very anxious in the lead up to it. I would want everything to be perfect, the house to be spotless, every eventually for food to be covered.  But this year, I’m a little more chilled.

When you think about it, Christmas Day is just another day. We get so bloody stressed about the whole occasion but how many of us think ‘thank f@ck for that’ when it’s all over? Every year I say, I’m not going to get so worked up over Christmas this year and that I will have everything done and dusted well in advance, but as I type this I still have a load of presents to wrap and a list of food shopping that I didn’t manage to get last night on ‘The BIG Shop’!  But its all good, it will get done at some point so there is no need to panic… and if I don’t have celery to stick under the turkey as it goes in the oven, Christmas will still be great, and nobody will actually give a shit!

What has also helped with the feeling of Zen around this time of year, is that Ellie seems to be a little calmer.  Christmas is not always a great time for children (and adults) that are on the autistic spectrum.  She is still obsessed with what food is going to be eaten and when (that might come from me!) and gets excited/anxious about different things that are happening, but this year it just doesn’t feel quite so fraught.  Maybe my new Zen-like state just lets it all wash over me (along with flashing the ‘Vs’ behind the fridge door).  I also discovered the magic of Reiki this year… maybe that’s helped too!

I’ve also been doing a Self-Mastery course in the latter part of this year.  What the hell is that? (yes, I hear ya!). In short, it looks at ‘your own life story’ and the struggles, celebrations, and the pivots in life that we all go through.  You then look at how you’ve behaved during the difficult times and look for patterns. Do you self-sabotage? Do you sit in denial? Do you move on quickly from something bad and not allow it to process? (I’m guilty of all of them!)

Learning to forgive, being mindful and practicing things like gratitude and self-care (along with other aspects that I won’t go into right now) has been a big part of the course and I know it has helped me greatly over the past few months. Everything we have been through in our past shapes who we are now, and this course has been invaluable to me in so many ways.  I’ll write a standalone blog on it in the new year.

If you’re still here at the end of this somewhat waffle-filled blog, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing in my journey on the blog this year and wish you and your loved ones a Very Merry Christmas. Have fun, stay safe, don’t sweat the small stuff… and I’ll see you on the other side. xxx

Love and hugs

TOMD xxx

Why ‘Ghosting’ is not cool!

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I thought about writing this blog exactly a year ago… totally because of the Halloween timing, but because I knew it would be hard to write, I put it off.

So, if you don’t know what Ghosting is, let me explain.

You usually hear about Ghosting in the dating game… if you thought being dumped by text was rude, this just got to a whole new level!  Maybe you’ve been seeing someone for a little while and all of a sudden, they’ve blocked your number, removed you from social media – they’ve vanished. You have no idea what you have done, no explanation… do you make an effort to contact them or not?  Maybe they’ve been run over by a bus!  But there you are, they’ve disappeared and you just got Ghosted!

I’ve also heard the term Ghosting being used when a friendship breaks down, or when you’re ‘phased out’.  I’m not just talking about an acquaintance here, or someone I would say hello to in the street… this is ‘Sister from another Mister’, oldest school friend since the age eight kind of friendship, and given that I’ve now passed the big 40… that’s a whole lot of friendship right there!

I’ve tried so many times to pinpoint when this all happened.  When did I start to be ‘phased out’.  I can’t.  There was no row, no bad words.  I just remember that there was a  point where I was always the one making the effort. Friendship is a two way street, however this road was only going one way.

Things hadn’t always been this way.  Not so long before the ‘phase out’ began, the friendship was very much a two way thing, maybe even swinging the other way. We would spend well over an hour on the phone of an evening when we’d be seeing each other the next day which my hubby would always find hilarious. We’d hang out as couples, going out for drinks and meals, spend time at our house, and she was a big part of our kids’ lives.. they adored ‘her’.

What I do know now, is that when things were very much about her ie; big birthday bash, getting married, I would be very much a part of her life. All the planning – yep, happy for me to be a big part of it!

So what changed? Maybe real life… and realisation of what is to come… or not to come.

There was one big difference between myself and ‘Ghosty’.  We’d had children (her godchildren), however the likelihood of this happening for her was slim.  Not in a mother nature’s decision kind of way – it was very much a choice thing.  And although I’ve never been told, because I wasn’t deemed worthy of a conversation, I’m sure this is the catalyst that drove the wedge between us.

So what happens when you get phased out?

For a while, you continue as you always did, texting funny stuff, trying to arrange to meet for a coffee, but those texts stop getting answered and there is always an excuse not to catch up.

After a while you start playing the game ‘lets see how long it takes before she makes contact’.  You leave it for weeks, months and then cave!  Then there would be more excuses not to catch up. It would leave any further meetings more awkward with this big fat elephant in the room.

Things that you traditionally do in the year don’t happen. Christmas presents get dropped in by others, birthday cards delivered when you’re on school run and the message is clearly given that you’re not worthy of their time.

It’s not you, it’s them…

The one thing I took from the whole situation was that it wasn’t just me.  My other friends from our friendship group were being treated similarly, I just seemed to be taking it the worst.   I also found out that I was being blamed for the breakdown of the friendship group as a whole.  Nothing to do with the fact that ‘ghosty’ was being a shit friend to all of us! I found that pretty tough to take.

What is so difficult about the whole Ghosting situation is that you don’t get closure.  You don’t get to say your bit. You don’t get to ask why.  What would I say if I had the chance? I must have gone through a conversation in my head 1000 times.  But I was never given the opportunity to say it.

So how does it feel to be Ghosted?

It’s a complete head fuck to be frank! You get to wonder what the hell you did wrong.  You get to analyse every text message you ever sent to see if it was something you might have said.  You feel hurt when they ignore you, pretending not to see you as they walk past you in the street.  You feel heartbroken.

Don’t just take my word for it…

This is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much

I know what it’s like to go through grief when someone dies, and whilst this will never touch that experience, losing your oldest friend of 30 years and not being told why is a pretty significant second place.

We shared so many memories, from dancing in my bedroom to Wham, to school discos and college parties to pop concerts and hen weekends.  You go through a grieving process of not sharing those memories with that person anymore.  You think about all the things you did for them in the past and feel bitter for how you’ve been treated.

I totally get the fact that people move on in different directions during their lives, and I’m cool with that.  What I have found difficult is not being given the courtesy of a conversation and to get closure on the whole situation.

Time to move on…

I can’t lie, it has taken me a good two years (probably more) to come to terms with it and it’s not just affected me but my family too. Thankfully, I have bloody amazing friends. I make sure I surround myself with positive, supportive people that light up the room… not turn all the lights off!  I don’t have time for negativity, stubbornness and constant critique of every situation – so maybe I actually got the good end of the deal!

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My advice though, if you find that you’re in a similar situation with a friend, a true friend, do the decent thing and have a conversation about it. Don’t be a dick and ‘Ghost’ them!

 

Until next time…

Love & hugs,

TOMD xxx

 

 

Find Your Tribe… Love Them Hard!

silhouette of four people against sun background
Photo by Dennis Magati on Pexels.com

Ever since I started my social media course last September, I have had many experiences of  ‘women tribes’.  They have come in many forms… course cohorts, networking groups, and workshops.

What I’m talking about here isn’t my usual group of friends… not my ‘girls’ that have known me forever, who have seen me at my best and my worst (which was probably face down pissed up on a pavement in Newquay!).  These are women I have never met before, who sometimes live in different parts of the country, come from different walks of life but all thrown together for the same cause.

As you may have read in previous blogs, I have recently started a course involving mindset and how you can up-level your business by getting over your fears and negative thoughts.  Last week our cohort of nine, plus our mentor Andrea, had our first Zoom meeting – posh term for ‘a meeting over the internet’!

The conversation involved how we got on with writing ‘Our Story’ (see previous blog)  and what our ‘Wins & Stretches’ have been this week.  What was so refreshing was to see how everyone was completely honest about how they were feeling. No pretence, no making out everything was great.  There were tears and fears laid out for all to see, and whilst there were apologies at first (we are British after all!) this vulnerability was so refreshing and gave us all permission to bear our feelings.  This is how you build trust within your ‘Tribe’.

I came to do this course following a workshop I did a couple of months ago.  Again, this involved women who, once they all got in a room together, realised they’re not alone in feeling inadequate, not good enough, that they can’t reach their potential and that they’re too fearful to push out of their comfort zone for fear of failure.  (Read ‘Yesterday, Three Women Changed My Life’ for more details).

During my six month course with Digital Mums, I was put together with six other women who were taking the journey with me.  We would meet over the internet every Thursday evening and talk daily on WhatsApp.  The fact that these other women didn’t know me from Adam nor I them, almost gives you permission to be your most honest… almost like a counsellor does.

During the six months of the course, we all went through the ups and downs and we were all there for each other on a daily basis… not only to get through the work that we needed to do to pass, but life in general.

Six months after qualifying, I still talk with my ‘Frida K’ girls daily and we managed to meet up in real life just after we graduated in May.  Another meet up is due soon… it’s just a logistical nightmare trying to get seven women free at the same time!

Something really incredible happens when you get a room full of women together… and I don’t mean on a Hen Night! 

On Saturday I went to a ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ workshop to support a wonderful lady I have recently met whilst networking.  I took a friend along with me and I had met a few of the  other ladies there before, but only really as much as ‘what do you do for a living?’.   However, once we all got chatting about how we felt about ourselves, there was a shift.  There was this ‘green light’ where it was perfectly OK to share our vulnerability.

With all these experiences I have come to realise, that it really doesn’t matter who you are or what your standing is in the community… we are all women going through similar things in our lives and we are best when we support each other, not tear each other down.

So, don’t be afraid to do something outside your comfort zone. Go and meet new people – whether it be at an exercise class, running club, mother and baby group, further education or workshops.

You never know where you might find another ‘Tribe’.

Until next time,

 

Love and hugs… TOMD xx

Writing ‘My Story’! Intro week of ‘Get Excited About Your Life’

blackboard chalk chalkboard concept
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This week I started my Introduction or ‘On Boarding’ for my new course ‘Get Excited About Your Life’.  This is a course which will help me to look at key points of my life and help me to move my mindset to a positive place which will inevitably help my business.

We’ve had a few actions to take on for this introduction week – one being to do a Facebook Live to our group.  Now, for me it was fine as I’m a complete show off, but for some of the ladies in my group it was a real baptism of fire… and they all nailed it!

The other big task for the week was to write ‘My Story’.  No rules, no template to follow… just write my story as I ‘feel it’.  This will be used as the basis of my 1:1 sessions with my mentor Andrea.

Jeeez! Where to start with that! How long should I make it?  How much detail is required?

I decided that I would tackle this after a meeting on Thursday.  I stayed on at the venue and made the most of the unlimited coffee and continental breakfast bar!   I powered up the laptop and started to type away.

Two hours later and I’d covered a lot of ground, revisiting lots of events in my life that I hadn’t thought about for a while, stuff to be proud about, stuff that I learned from and other situations in my life that still affect how I deal with situations today.

There was a point that I found incredibly hard to type about.  The experience losing Mum.  It’s amazing how my brain has managed to cope these last two and half years and almost put a lot of the feelings into a little filing cabinet so that I am able to function on a daily basis. Now and again though, the filing cabinet is opened and the documents come falling out… or the tears come falling down.

Being sat in the middle of a Brewsters crying at a laptop is not a good look so I made a hasty exit.

When I got home I managed to finish my story, warts and all and submitted it to Andrea.

After putting it all out there I thought I would feel like a weight had been lifted, but for a little while, the opposite happened.  I felt heavy and filled with anxiety! The following day I couldn’t catch my breath and just felt generally shitty!  Was this meant to happen after baring all in a word document?

That night I was due to go out with hubby for the night, and whilst I really just wanted to join my son and put my pj’s on at 6pm, but instead I got dolled up and went out.  I’m so glad I did.  Spending some much overdue time with my man was just the tonic (with Gin) that I needed!

Since then I have felt much better and I’m really looking forward to working through all the aspects that make me who I am and turning it into positive mindset.

The course is all about putting yourself out there, having belief in what you’re doing and owning it. I have no doubt that by the end of the 13 weeks we will all be nailing it and completely owning it!

I hope you will follow along with me on the journey!

Until next time,

 

Love and hugs,

TOMD xxx

If you’d like to more about the course I am doing – check out Andrea Callanan on Facebook…. https://www.facebook.com/AndreaCallananVoice/

 

It’s time to get excited about my life!

As I write this post, I’m not exactly in the most excited mood.  I’ve been suffering literally all day with a hangover from hell which I can only put down to the fact that I’ve had two unscathed weekends away and my night out last night with hubby was my major payback.  Better to have happened here at home rather than at Center Parcs or beautiful Barcelona!

So why am I getting excited about my life?

Well, if you’ve been following my blogs, you would have read about how three women changed my life at a workshop I attended in Bristol.  One of those women was a lady called Andrea Callanan.  She made such huge impression on me (read the blog Yesterday Three Women Change My Life) and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a free webinar she was offering a couple of weeks ago.

So, I attended the webinar with a group of around 20 women, listening to Andrea talk through my laptop screen.  She spoke about all the of kinds of insecurities and fears we face as women in business (saying that out loud is still weird for me!) and life in general.  Talking about why we put things off, why we doubt ourselves and how it stops us moving forward.

At the end of the webinar, Andrea explained that she was about to run a new 12 week programme called ‘Get Excited About Your Life’.  It covers;

Week 1 – Get Present  Week 2 – Own Your Story  Week 3 – Healing Week 4 – Acceptance Week 5 – Self Worth   Week 6 – Self Care  Week 7 – Kick Ass Mindset  Week 8 – Desire  Week 9 – Intention  Week 10 – Vision  Week 11 – Planning  Week 12 – Execute, Achieve, Celebrate.

Whilst this looks like it will be quite intensive and Andrea has already warned us that it will take a places emotionally that we probably won’t want to go (I’m sure the loss of Mum will come up more than once) I am genuinely excited about changing my current mindset.

I literally find myself constantly swinging from a kick-ass attitude of ‘I can do this’ to self doubting thoughts of ‘I’m gonna fuck this up’! I’m forever playing the following questions over in my mind;

Can I really make a go of this blogging and working with companies in the well woman arena?

Will they want to work with me?

Can I work with companies and help them with their Social Media?

Do I know enough?

It’s true,  I didn’t jump in straight away. Why?  The fear. That bloody fear and self doubt of course.  Will I have the time?  Can I afford it?  After having a night to sleep on it, I decided that it was well worth investing in myself and took the plunge and signed up!

Over these next 12 weeks this course will help me get over these insecurities which in turn will help me to plan and building my brand ‘Tales of a Mother’s Daughter’ and also my social media training business ‘Social in Somerset’.

I really look forward in sharing this journey with you and passing on the things that I have learnt… and it all starts tomorrow!

Until next time,

Love and hugs from TOMD xxx

Barcelona with ‘The Butch Girls’!

I know, you’re thinking who on earth are the ‘Butch Girls’? It sounds like it could be some female wrestling tag-team (might have to Google that!).

Let me explain. ‘The Butch Girls’ are my wonderful group of school friends that still keep in touch and do stuff together 31 years after first meeting at secondary school.

I’ve come to learn that this is actually quite unusual, to still be in touch with girls from secondary school. And whilst it’s true that we have been in and out of each other’s lives, especially during our 20s, these girls will undoubtedly always be in my life.

So, why are we called ‘The Butch Girls’?  We can’t really remember where it came from. None of us are particularly masculine or as the name may suggest, that we might bat for the other side (or is that the same side?!).  I remember the reference ‘Butch Girl’ first came up at my 18th birthday party… a long, long time ago!  It seemed to stick and we’ve been ‘The Butch Girls’, ever since!  I suppose if you happen to see us strut our stuff to Tina Turner’s ‘Nutbush’ it might explain it! It really is something to behold!

Anyway, this weekend was time for our annual getaway.  I worked out that it’s our eighth year now of doing something together.  It started when three of us went to visit one of the ‘Butches’ who now lives in Germany back in 2011 and it carried on from there. We still make Germany a bi-annual thing and visit somewhere different in between – this year it was Barcelona.

Now, I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account of what we got up to in Barcelona – most of it is the classic ‘you had to be there moments’ and we certainly had plenty of those; I’m certainly not going to try and recreate them on a blog.  However, I did want to share with you my thoughts on this Spanish city.

We stayed in the Gothic quarter of the city in an apartment which was a stone’s throw away from Dr Stravinsky’s Cocktail bar  (just for reference), which actually took us three nights to find as it was so well hidden!  It was a perfect location and I recommend staying in this part of the city if you can.  Lovely bars and restaurants are close by along with the wonders of the food market and great shopping.

What can I say about Barcelona. It’s so colourful and beautiful… and crazy-full of little streets that you can get lost in.  It’s literally like something out of Harry Potter – you get easily get lost in these interconnecting alleys within the Gothic quarter and with my hideous sense of direction, I was just glad there were five others with me who knew their way better than I did!

If you go to Barcelona, I totally recommend grabbing a bike from one of the many hire shops as a way to see the city.  We took ourselves down to the beach and cycled along the promenade stopping at a couple of bars for food and drinks, and then more drinks.  The sense of freedom felt amazing and so much fun… once you get out of the crazy streets and are able to use the cycle lanes without the fear of crashing into someone!

We learnt during the weekend, whilst sitting with a man in a cafe (we don’t normally sit with men in cafes, but there was only one table left and we kind of gatecrashed it!) that the beach in Barcelona was man made before the Olympics in 1992 to make the city more interesting.  They certainly succeeded – it doesn’t feel like you’re in a major European city when you can you cycle to sea and sand just 10 minutes from the city centre. So, if you like sea, sand and sun with your city break, this ticks all the boxes!

You can’t go to Barcelona without visiting the famous Gaudi Cathedral.  I have to admit, I’d never heard of it before (architecture isn’t exactly my forte) but this ‘wonder’ of a cathedral is mind blowing! You could literally look at it all day and still find new things. There are mixtures of so many different styles, some beautiful, others odd and some bordering on ‘Vegas’!  It has never been finished, but when it is (somewhere around 2026), it will be the tallest of its kind.

Barcelona shopping certainly has something for everyone.  If you’re after department stores, you can find them down on the rowdier Las Ramblas, or you can take in the beautiful boutiques which are found in abundance in the Gothic quarter.

On Las Ramblas you will find plenty of tat and weird stuff if that’s what takes your fancy. My particular favourite was packets of plants and flowers that will grow to look like genitalia! Nice!  Whereas if you fancy a little accessory treat, like a new bag or scarf (like I did!) then you won’t go far wrong with the little shops that can be found in many of the winding alleys through the city centre. I’m actually a really lazy shopper but even I managed to pick up a couple of pretty little things over the weekend.

With restaurants and bars a plenty, along with shopping, beaches, culture and plenty of red wine and Sangria, I’m pretty sure I will see you again soon Barcelona!

Until next time,

Love & hugs from TOMD xx

Remembering Mum… Performing Dusty Springfield from her hospital bed and showing Cancer a f***ing good fight.

img_0599-1Last night was the first night in a long time that I had a period of not being able to sleep… normally, once I’m out… I’m out!  Last night however, was different.  Two years ago at almost the exact time I woke up, I was on my way to the hospital to pick up my Dad.  He’d made the call an hour earlier to say that my Mum was now at peace and had passed away.  I was now reliving it all instead of sleeping.

This phone call wasn’t a shock . A month previous, Mum was admitted to The Beacon Ward at Musgrove Park Hospital as she was losing a lot of blood. Mum had been fighting ovarian cancer for five years, having multiple rounds of chemotherapy, but we had reached the point where nothing further could be done, and in the last few months, it was clear to see her body was getting weaker and weaker.

After being admitted to the ward during the night, we went over to the hospital the next day. When the consultant visited, she told us that Mum’s blood pressure would keep dropping with each loss of blood and that they would keep Mum comfortable and pain-free over the next few days (the time they now expected her to live).  As you can imagine, this was completely devastating.  I couldn’t believe that in a couple of days, we would lose her forever.  Even though I knew this day would come eventually, please, not yet.

I called my brother and he came straight up to Somerset from Dorset with his family.  That night the grandchildren had to say their goodbyes to their Nanny – it wasn’t fair to put them through the final days as they were all still so young (aged 10 and under).   That was one of the hardest nights of my life.

Little did we know, Mum had other plans.  Two days later, the huge blood loss she was experiencing had stopped.  What was to be a couple of days was now going to be a little longer.  Mum was still completely bed-bound, and it was clear to see that her body was starting to give up on her.  The consultant agreed that they would keep her at The Beacon Ward instead of moving her to the local hospice and Dad stayed with her the whole time, sleeping on the chair in the room.  My brother and his family stayed with us with the children staying at their grandparents when they visited whilst our children went to school.

Mum’s room for the next week was a hive of activity with visitors coming to see her – and we basically took over the family room and took it in turns each day to bring in lunch and treats from the supermarket on the way in.  I remember a lot of laughs that first week.  Mum could still chat here and there, she took pleasure in hearing us all talking and laughing together.  Humour is the only way we know how to get through crap times in our family… we’re a bit sick like that!

There were some evenings where Mum’s breathing got really shallow and the inevitable felt very close indeed.  We would all sit around her, holding her hands, and trying not to cry. We would sit for an hour just listening for her breathing which would be so erratic that sometimes it felt like the next breath would never come.

My Dad said jokingly one of these evenings, “Give us a song Else” … and with that Mum quietly started to sing ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ by Dusty Springfield.  We sat, jaws dropped as Mum gave us a rendition of Dusty, complete with facial expressions  (eyes still closed) and an air grab that frightened the life out of us all!  Even in the face of death, Mum was still making us laugh.

Mum amazingly went on a little more than a couple of days. My brother had to go back to Dorset during the week so could come up and visit on the weekends.

I swear, every time a nurse finished their run of shifts, they were amazed to come back to see Mum still occupying the room!  Even my friends, were being asked by their work colleagues “How’s your friend’s Mum?”  “Still here”, they’d reply.  It was just unbelievable.  The kids would ask me every day, ‘Is Nanny an Angel yet?’.

It was a Sunday morning and I was getting ready to go to the hospital. Mum had now been there for three weeks and five days.  My brother was up for the weekend visiting and was at the hospital.  Mum had been asleep for most of the week and had now not eaten anything for several days and even fluids were next to nothing.

However, today was different.  I had the call to get over to the hospital quickly.  Mum had woken up for the first time in days and was chatting.  “I don’t want you to miss this, come over now” my brother had said.  I’d read about this (I was a bloody expert on the process of dying by now) when a patient has a huge surge of energy just before they pass away.  All I kept thinking all the way there, was that I can’t miss her.  I sprinted across the car park, my legs were like jelly, my head willing them to move quicker.

When I got there, she was awake.  “You made it” she said.  I’ll never forget it.  I managed to show her the infinity ring I had bought with their birthday money for my 40th, promised I would buy a beautiful leather biker jacket with the rest so that she’d always have my back, told her how much I loved her and that she must not worry, we were all going to be ok, we had each other, we would be fine.

She managed to talk a little, see  some family and was more alive in the those few hours than she had been in the last two weeks.  It was wonderful, even if it was short-lived.

Once Mum had drifted back to wherever you go when you’re pumped full of morphine (which she told me was wonderful btw) my brother and I decided that we wouldn’t visit anymore.  He was about to go back to Dorset so wouldn’t be around and I felt awful being there without him… just as he did when he thought I was going to miss the ‘final moment’ as I made my way over to the hospital.

This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Watching this amazing woman deteriorate the way she did was just heartbreaking, but I was really struggling to watch it anymore.  She had no food or drink now for several days, this disease truly is evil.  I kept thinking that back in the day, someone would have helped things along by now, administering just a little more morphine than required.  You wouldn’t put an animal through this, so why do we do we let our fellow humans suffer in this way?

My Dad agreed that he didn’t want us seeing Mum deteriorate anymore and I couldn’t bear for my everlasting memory of her to be this shell of a woman, even though she already was.  After nearly four weeks, I just couldn’t take anymore.  It’s funny, but even though I was a 40-year-old woman, I felt very much like a small child at that time and Dad just wanted to protect us.

I know there will be people thinking, ‘I could never do that’, but I’ve learned, that unless you’ve walked down the same path as someone, you don’t know how you’d feel. Believe me, I have wrestled with that decision so many times.

Astonishingly, Mum remained in the hospital for a further five days, passing away in the early hours of Saturday morning, 20th February whilst my Dad sat sleeping in the chair.  She was The Beacon Ward’s ‘longest resident’ with her stay from 20th January to 20th February.

The day Mum passed, my wonderful friends came round and cooked for us, we drank wine, we played music loud and relived our memories. I don’t know how we would’ve got through everything without our friends and family.

As I sit and type this, I have ‘The Best of Dusty Springfield’ playing over the speakers, with our little cockapoo puppy, Dusty sat next to me.   The tears have flowed which have been locked away for too long, but getting it down on paper – or typed on screen… may be just what I needed to do to let it go.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with you.

Tonight I will raise a glass to my wonderful, crazy, brave, beautiful Mum, who is always remembered and in our hearts forever.

img_6564-2This was our last picture together at my surprise 40th birthday bash- 10 days before she was admitted to hospital.

Until next time.

Love and hugs. xxxx

Here’s to Gin & Friendships and Psyching myself up for the holidays!

It’s midday on a Sunday and I’m still sat on the sofa in my summer PJs. After having a very much needed day out drinking Gin and eating platters of meats and cheeses with my two oldest school friends, I’m now sat thinking about the stretch of the six weeks holidays in front of me!

Arrrrrrggggghhhh!!!!!!

I’m buggered whatever I do here. If I have a plan all written down, Ellie will go on and on about it, decide it will be rubbish and drive me crazy and if I don’t tell her she will go on and on about and decide we’re not doing anything and it’s going to be the worst holiday ever…driving me crazy 😜!!

She actually got upset when I told her that we wouldn’t be doing something every day! With 43 days to fill, I’m not putting myself under that sort of pressure… plus, I don’t have a money tree at the bottom of the garden! I know, there are lots of things we can do for free, and believe me, we will, but the stress of going out is sometimes too much to bear!

We’re due to go out for a walk along the river this afternoon with the dog, stopping off at a little pub and then walking back again. Hubby started to chat about the dog (who’s still new to the family and only four months old) and how much he loves her to which Ellie said accusingly “you don’t love me then”!  True to form, always turning a conversation around to her!  So already feeling stressed Ellie then started worrying about what we are going to talk about on our walk and whether we were going to have a good time. No matter what we say to reassure her (which I can only do for so long before I sound sarcastic) she still looks like she’s been slapped around the face with a kipper! 🐟

At this rate, who knows if we’ll go as Ellie is currently upstairs ‘calming down’.

The thing is, Ellie is now 12 years old and a lot of her peers go out and meet up with each other, have sleepovers and do things together.  This doesn’t apply to Ellie.

I’ve no doubt that her peers think the world of her and support her – she’s in a lovely tutor group, but like most of our special ones, Ellie finds friendships difficult.  She’s never been asked to a sleepover or around a friends house which is heartbreaking.

Thankfully Ellie really enjoys school and has a lovely little mate called Ed who is also partially supported by Ellie’s LSA. To me, enjoying school is the most important thing,  everything else is a bonus. However, when I think about the firm friendships I formed at secondary school, I would really love that for Ellie too… and I don’t mean a big group as she couldn’t handle that. The only plus side at the moment is that there’s no bitching and friendship break-ups – see, I’m a ‘glass half full’ kinda girl!

It is thought that high functioning autistic children have feelings of intense loneliness, even though it is thought that they like to be alone.

I find that so sad.

I know Ellie watches a lot of things on YouTube of young girls and families vlogging about having sleepovers, doing ‘friend things’ and she compares her life to theirs and must wonder why she doesn’t do those kinds of things.

I suppose that brings me back around my friendships. I am so incredibly lucky to have a wonderful group of friends and also amazing friends outside of that friendship group.  They are the best form of therapy (though this blogging lark is pretty good too!) they don’t judge (true friends don’t) and their support is second to none.

I thought that when my mum passed, that I would be lost without that female bond (my mother-in-law was also lost to cancer), but this awful event in my life has made those friendships stronger. They’ve been a tower of strength to both me, hubby and the kids and I know any one of them would be there if I needed them… as I would be for them.

I just hope Ellie gets to be as lucky as I am one day.

Until next time,

Love and hugs

TOMD xxx

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