It’s more than just the dress

After my last blog post about my amazing weekend I have a confession to make.

Yes the ball was a great experience.

Yes it was amazing to be with my good friends.

But I really really struggled.

People who have met me in real life will know that I’m an outgoing person who will pretty much chat to anyone.

But I am also rather insular.

I need my own space.

I hate crowds

I hate feeling like I’m not myself.

This is what happened this weekend.

It seems silly but the moment I put on my dress for the ball my confidence left me.

People using the words beautiful

Refined

Elegant

So not me.

I wasn’t comfortable

I didn’t feel real

Why did I do this to myself?

Even when ordering the dress I knew I wasn’t going to feel great in it.

I don’t do elegant, I do black and gothic.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

When out of our normal day to day life why do we put on a facade.

Why isn’t who we are good enough?

I’ve learned a valuable lesson and it’s a lot more to do with me than the dress.

It’s ok to hate crowds

It’s ok to love your jeans

And it’s ok to be me.

The crazy thing is my friends on this evening out have been my friends through the good times and my friends through the hardest times too.

They love me regardless.

Our friendships were forged on campsites where no-one I mean no-one can look great emerging out of a sleeping bag in the middle of a field.

We loved each other through morning breathe and we loved each other through many bottle of wines.

I had no need to pretend.

They love me for who I am.

Now i have only got to learn to accept these things about myself and the lesson will be truly learnt.

Oh and of course I need to find the perfect gothic dress just in case.

An inspirational night

On Saturday I attended a spring ball
held at the Queens hotel in Leeds a beautiful and very regal hotel. With stunning architecture and incredible rooms.
The reason I attended this ball was to help raise funds for charities that I am passionate to support, Special kids in the UK being one of them.

Yet this ball was extra special as it honoured a beautiful little girl Lucy Mai.

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Four years ago last november Dean and Annie and my husband and I faced the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent. The loss of a child. Within a week of each other we lost Livvy and they lost Lucy Mai.

Within a week our hearts were forever broken.

We began on the journey nobody ever wishes to start.

The year after our loss Dean and Alan invited Alan and I to the Lucy Mai’s Spring Ball. To join them as they raise funds in celebration of the life and the gift of Lucy Mai.

Now I can tell you that we didn’t attend due to money issues, child care etc but the truth is we didn’t have the strength.

You see to be part of the world of special needs when you have a child with disabilities is hard.

Yet to stay part of the world when your connection to it is lost is truly courageous.

And that is what Dean and Annie are , truly courageous.

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So four years on we finally found the strength to attend.

We were there on Saturday raising funds in memory of Lucy Mai. A beautiful young girl who was a gift to her parents and to all that knew her.

We there to raise funds to support charities that are lifelines to parents with children with disabilities. Each in its own way giving strength to many on this hard journey.

I know that Dean and Annie would tell you that they don’t do this all alone. That they have an amazing team behind them and yes to that team I say thank you.

But to Dean and Annie I want to say this.

“I’m sure Lucy Mai is looking down on you both with such pride.

You are a amazing couple who have faced heartache with such grace and courage.

I think I write on behalf of many when I say thank you for all that you do.

But I write on a personal level when I say that you both rock and that you both are inspirational”

Saturday night was a memorable night in so many ways.

I’m praying the night raised lots of money.

I’m also praying Dean and Annie realise how truly amazing they are.

Is ok to feel this way?

I’ve had a really strange week, my emotions have been on a journey full of confusion and guilt.

Yes I’ve been feeling guilty.

Guilty for not feeling fulfilled.

That this life just isn’t enough.

That I want more.

I know that I have four amazing children and a great job as a foster mom and I cannot say for a moment that I don’t love being a mom but at times it’s not enough.

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I also know I have a marriage that is so blessed and 18 years on we are still happy.

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Yet it isn’t enough.

Is it wrong to want more?

Maybe it’s just pre- birthday blues, I don’t know. Yet as I turn 37 tomorrow I am feeling lost and unfulfilled?

Is it ok to feel this way?

Or should being a mother and wife be enough?

Is it wrong to want more?

To want something that’s mine?

When I was younger I used to spend afternoons reading and chatting with my grandad and he always told me to never settle for just enough, always reach for your dreams.

Those afternoons I spend dreaming of my future. The dreams I held.

To write a book.

To stop poverty.

To change the world.

I guess I was an idealistic kid, and slowly my naivety disappeared. But deep down inside of me a little of those dreams still hold on.

Being a mom, being a wife they are all such gifts which I hold dear but it’s as if they are pieces of an unfinished puzzle.

I’m searching for that missing piece that will make me complete. Make me whole.

I’m searching.

I want more.

Is it ok to say that ?

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Booksneeze – Drawing the circle by Mark Batterson

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Why do I struggle so much with prayer?

 

I feel guilty laying all my troubles on God, I mean he has wars and real problems to deal with not my woe me’s.

 

Drawing the circle by Mark Batterson is a book that I want to read through again and again. Its the daily reminder, the daily words of wisdom that i need.

 

God wants me opening my heart to him, he loves to listen to my prayers.

 

It was also the reminder that great things can happen with prayer. All these worries, all my problems God is waiting for me to ask him for help then to watch as great things can happen.

 

Drawing the circle is a challenging book you step inside and see what amazing things can be achieved.

 

A 40 day daily devotion,a 40 day daily challenge.

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I may not be strong but I have strength.

On Saturday I attended a woman’s conference working as an advocate for Compassion UK. It was a great day and before I left 6 children had been lifted out of poverty in Jesus name. 6 with new sponsors and at the beginning of a new life.

The guest speaker for the conference was Jeff Lucas. I had read a few of Jeff’s books but have never heard him speak before.

To be honest he was pretty amazing. He challenges you in a way that leaves you wanting, no needing to do more.

To challenge yourself to live the best life you can.

One statement he left us with was

” There are no strong people just people with strengths.”

This really hit home as I find myself at this time not feeling strong at all.

Yet some how I move forward.

Somehow I find the strength to face what’s coming.

I have strengths

I have weaknesses.

They are mine and mine to own.

They are what makes me unique.

The building blocks in the tower of my life.

I may not be strong but I have strengths.

The strength from the love of my children.

The strength from the love of my husband.

The strength from my friends.

The strength from my faith.

Faith
Children
Marriage
Friendship

I am not always strong but I have strength.

I’m not staying quiet

Are you a parent?

Do you think about your child everyday?

Do you rejoice in their achievements?

Share their antics with friends?

I will go out on a limb here and hazard a guess that the answer to the above questions is a YES.

I’m a parent, I have four beautiful girls. I dote on them all, they each have a unique personally that I simply adore.

Each have their own goals and have their own achievements.

I cherish every moment of them and yes at times I have wanted to literally strangle them.

Hey I’m human

Hey I’m a parent.

Yet for me there is one difference one of my children is in heaven. For the last four years death has separated me from my baby.

Yet she still is my daughter.

She is still her sisters sister.

Granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend.

Her death doesn’t just remove her from our life.

So I struggle to understand why people expect me to stay quiet.

To not mention my beautiful girl.

To not comment about her.

To not state how much my heart aches without her.

It’s as if people expect me to forget.

I love life, I cherish every moment of it. I love watching my girls grow, change and experience things.

I am moving forward but moving on doesn’t mean I have to forget.

I can remember her cheeky smile, her soft hands and her strong left hook.

I can remember her infectious giggle that would send us all into laughter.

I can remember, I can share.

She is still my daughter.

I’m not being held back, I’m moving forward with Livvy in my heart in my memory.

Of course at times the missing overwhelms, yet even in the pain I embrace life.

Life is a gift each day is a new present waiting to be unwrapped.

Yet just like every parent will tell you the moment you have your child. That child holds a piece of your heart wherever they are. Heaven or earth my girls are my heart and they always will be.

So don’t ask to me to stay quiet about Livvy. She is part of my life and always will be.

It doesn’t have to be inevitable

The other night I sat and watched the film “Rabbit Hole” starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. I wasn’t too sure why I wanted to watch a film dealing with the emotions around the loss of a child. To be honest its a little to close to home. I guess it was just curiosity, wondering how others had faced the heartbreak, coped with the pain. (yes i know its just a film).

The film was extremely well acted and at times I found myself walking through the emotions with the cast.

The desire to change everything.

The need for space.

The anger,

the raw unadulterated anger.

The emptiness inside.

“The only way out is through

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There is a moment in the film when in a bereavement support group another parent speaks about the separation of her marriage and that it was “Inevitable”. The grief books often state that “many or most marriages cannot survive the death of a child”.

This statement didn’t surprise me, all the research I had done all the self help books I had read all say the same thing.

It’s inevitable.

Grief is such a individual journey, everyone travels the road in different ways and at different times. Even when you lose the child together your grief is unique to you.

I experienced this in my own marriage,my husband deals with things quietly and internally. This at times has left me feeling alone and rejected, not the way he ever meant for me to feel. But the way it did, alone and hurting.

Exhaustion also is such a big part in all, the weight of the pain can be so heavy that even getting out of bed requires effort. Let alone finding the energy to be there for others.

Circumstances too play a major role, many times bereaved parents find themselves having to go back into work not long after their loss to an environment that requires them to be a professional not a grieving mother or father.

Its not easy and I know that, even now four years into this journey it still isn’t easy.

I also know I am one of the lucky ones, I had a husband who tried so hard to make it as right as it could be. Tried to understand, showed me compassion without no bounds even when he was struggling too. He sat and listened as I tried to digest the reality of our loss. Held me tight when the reality finally hit home and my heart shattered into millions of pieces.

He held me then.

He holds me now.

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Marriage is hard and it requires more work than you possibly could imagine. It didn’t come with instructions. So when a marriage faces such a loss and the two people in the union suffer the utmost heartbreak its hard to keep it together. It is simply easier to walk your grief journey alone. It may seem selfish but its about survival.

We struggled, we still struggle. There is a hole in each of our hearts that can never be filled. We lost our beautiful daughter and nothing can fix that.

Yet as the catchline off the film states “The only way out is through “.

In life we all face things we never could of imagined, pain we don’t think we can survive. Whatever, whenever situations arise the truth is simply “The only way out is through ”
You cannot hide, you cannot go around it. Believe me I’ve tried.

Through it is the only way.

For my marriage talking was our saviour,

Ephesians 4.26 “do not let the sun go down on your anger,” became our daily scripture.

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There were so many times I was angry at my husband and he was angry at me and we were both so angry at the world. But we worked hard to communicate. Worked hard to cherish each other.

We had lost so much, losing each other wasn’t an option.

Separation doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Simply unforgettable

She cried herself to sleep in my arms.

She had a dream or maybe a nightmare?

She was surrounded by people she knew, people she loved but they didn’t remember.

She was asking questions that they had no answers for.

Sharing memories that they couldn’t recall.

She cried so hard, fear tugging at her soul.

Struggling to breathe through the sobs.

Hiccuping, coughing, nose running.

My sleeve felt wet as she snuggled her head into my arms.

I could feel the heaviness of her chest as it lay on mine.

“They have forgotten her mom”she cried.

“She’s gone” “disappeared “.

“How could they? ”

“why would they”?

I hold her tight my tears dropping softly on her head.

How do I find the words?

How can I make this right?

Her fear, her nightmare is the inner demon I fight every day.

“Please Lord don’t let her be forgotten”.

We hold each other close like we are the strength we need to stay all together.

Mother and daughter a bond like no other.

We whisper promises to heaven.

Words of memories.

We will never forget.

The bond of a mother daughter

The kinship of sisters.

It’s eternal

We won’t forget.

She is in every breathe I take.

In every beat of my heart.

We won’t forget.

Because simply

Livvy is unforgettable.

Memory Making

Have you ever had one of those days when it feels God was shining down on you.

For me last Saturday  was one of those days.

In my alter ego the founder of the charity Livvy’s Smile we hosted a fun day at SNAPs a special needs playground.

It was truly an amazing day with over 50 children and their families having lots of fun and creating those special memories.

The sun shined and the air was filled with laughter.

Everywhere we looked children’s faces were filled with smiles.

Parents chatting together finding strength and comfort in shared understanding.

Raising children with special needs can be hard and it can also be isolating and lonely.

I watched siblings play side by side, faces painted in fantastic designs and balloon animals, flowers, swords galore.

With good food, and an atmosphere filled with joy.

A perfect memory making day.

Take a look at the memory video click logo xxxx

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Body betrayal?

Sometimes I believe my body betrays me.

I have so much to do but it just gives up or gives out.

Yet is it really betraying me or just trying to save me?

How many times have I pushed myself too far and ended up making a mistake.

Exhaustion is not the place to find a focused mind.

So is my body just making the decision my mind won’t make?

I know I’m not alone in my inability to slow down.

I hear and read so many accounts of people being struck down by illnesses, coughs, colds, virus’ all at their most stressful and demanding times.

Many will confess that they were run down beforehand making them susceptible to the bacteria flying around.

Exhausting themselves to the point of illness.

So why do we do this to ourselves?

For me I know it’s my inability to switch off.

Thanks to the invention of mobile phones, the Internet the world is at my fingertips. Unfortunately thanks to these same things I can access work at every hour of the day.

Writing blog posts into the early hours of the morning, updating site content, balancing the bank at so on.

Access all areas, access all hours.

I’ve tried many things, giving myself set hours. Switching the Internet off, leaving my mobile phone downstairs and sometimes this works. But not being able to write is sometimes more frustrating that getting it over with, at least after its written i can finally fall into an exhausted slumber.

See what I mean when I say I don’t help myself?

It’s not that I’m always falling behind with work, you can guarantee that the day I am all completed it will be the night my foster son will refuse to sleep at all.

It’s Sod’s law as they say.

So in hindsight I don’t actually believe my body is against me, it’s just trying to protect me from myself and this crazy thing I call my life.