Homemade Friday

Put down the gadgets and start to create. I don’t work on Fridays but I need to be creative or I feel the day has been wasted. Whilst scrolling through Pinterest I saw lots of recipes for homemade lip gloss. I’m always buying the ingredients but I never found the time to make it.

This Friday was different I had my beautiful assistant my daughter to motivate me. We gathered the ingredients, petroleum jelly, coconut oil, peppermint oil and lipstick.

Ingredients

  • Coconut Oil
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Pink or Red lipstick
  • Glass/plastic container with a lid

Method

  1. Melt the Coconut Oil in the microwave for 30seconds.
  2. Add the Petroleum Jelly stir the ingredients together until both are liquid ready to pour.
  3. Add pure essential oil – I chose Peppermint Oil.
  4. Add the lipstick to add colour and stir vigorously to make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Pour the lip balm into glass container with a lid.
  6. Place in the fridge for half an hour and voila you have home made lip gloss.

Bereavement Counselling

My first session exploring the loss of mum and dad. I sat in the car for 5 minutes running through my head. Where do I start to unravel the pain of loss of both parents. I walked up to the gates and pressed the buzzer. ‘Hi, I have an appointment at 6pm.’ The gate buzzed and I was inside. ‘Take a seat. Would you like water?’

I took a seat in the waiting area surrounded by red and beige sofas. Out came my counsellor same height and full of life who led me into a small room.

As soon as I started talking the tears started to flow. I found myself firstly talking about the illness that took my mum’s life. The same questions were foremost in my mind was the cruelty and unfairness of PSP. It’s bad enough that old age takes away your youth and vitality but this disease takes away the essential building blocks to life – mobility, speech and independence. She asked me ‘Are you angry?’ I was shocked because of all the emotions I’ve experienced, guilt, self pity, loss etc. But anger it didn’t make sense until I remembered mum’s refusal to have the operation that could have sustained her life. I begged and pleaded with her to try and when it didn’t work I had to go outside to the car park because the full weight of its significance struck me. We were at the end of all the struggles against this merciless disease.

I shared stories from my childhood and when I thought about mum and dad as a team I couldn’t help but smile. They were both so stubborn and they rarely admitted that they could be wrong.

The time went so quickly my younger self would have called it ‘self indulgent’ but age is telling me it’s a necessity. Anyway after an hour of releasing my ‘anger’ I was ushered out into the waiting room to be greeted by more wounded soldiers anticipating their opportunity to be listened to – a precious commodity in this busy world.

Fireworks

As the fireworks explode and peoplehug and cheer to welcome the new year; my new year is tinged by sadness. Last year I sacrificed my attendance at Watch night service to spend it with my very ill aging parents. We toasted in the New Year hugged and kissed them so happy they’d made it through another year.

The year brought much laughter but also many tears. In March dad had a minor stroke according to the medics but it was devastating on top of myeloma. I struggled to breathe as I took in that the healthier parent was now struggling to speak, eat and walk. In the ambulance and the long wait in A&E he had to comfort me instead of the other way round. After 6 weeks in hospital they dismissed him with an 18 week waiting list for physio and speech and language.

Unsurprisingly, he did not manage to get this treatment; he deteriorated quickly. He managed to make it to my 50th birthday party – he refused to leave early despite feeling tired. It was his last venture into the outside world. My mum had to press panic button three more times before he was admitted to the hospital. Everyday he was less and less communicative; barely conscious; not eating or drinking.

Every day was filled with anxiety, would the hospital call? Would the carers call? Who would go face mum or dad? It was difficult to call. It turns out it dad. From the cancer diagnosis to death it was exactly a year. The whole family was with him at the end – we prayed; we sang; we reminisced and he slipped away quietly and peacefully.

Mum seemed to handle his death with strength and resilience. She helped us plan the funeral right down to the coffin, his burial outfit, the songs and the tributes. I could only admire her courage, her husband of 54 years died in September ; it looked like she would be able to carry on. I was wrong. She said she missed him I thought I understood how much but the truth was she didn’t want to – she couldn’t live without him.

The 5 years of living with PSP took its toll on her fragile body. At the beginning of November she was admitted to hospital with a chest infection and by the end of the week we were told there was no hope.

I have no words to explain the devastation on the family. The matriarch who brought the family through all the highs and lows in our life would no longer be around. We didn’t want to let her go. Not now! So soon after dad it didn’t seem possible.

During the two weeks she was in hospital we spent time as a family and we could remember the hilarious stories from our childhood. Losing both parents in such a short space of time has left a gaping hole in my life, but occasionally I manage to fill that hole with the many beautiful memories they have given us. As the year comes to a close with fireworks and hugs there are two empty chairs in the living room and an occupied mansion in heaven. RIP Isaiah and Eulalee Jackson.

Ruby Bridges – True Courage

As we celebrate International Women’s day this week, I can’t stop thinking about how much this young girl had to endure just to get an education. Ruby Bridges was one of four girls who passed an exam which entitled them to enter an all white school.

The images of her tiny frame tackling the huge steps of an institution that had denied her community access through the law for generations. Escorted by U.S Marshals she walked silently through the jeering, hostile, hate filled crowd. The dignity and poise of that young child is a message to us all.

When asked years later if she hated the crowd she responded: ‘I wasn’t taught to hate.’ I can only marvel at the parents of this remarkable child who changed history. She gave the credit to her parents for giving her the courage to stand strong.

As if making her way through the banners, the name calling and the intimidation wasn’t bad enough many parents took their children out of the school or refused to allow their children to sit in the same class as her. She had lessons alone; lunch alone and playtime alone. Her teacher remarked she never complained or fell into despair she arrived every morning with a smile on her face and readiness to learn. She seemed to know that the stand she was making was not only for herself and her family but for anyone denied an education because of the colour of their skin.

What do you have to be depressed about?

When I was about 15 I remember saying to my mum ‘I feel depressed’. She replied: ‘what do you have to be depressed about? You have bills to pay? kids to feed? Mortgage for the roof over your head?’ Of course my answer was no to all three questions but it shut down any discussion of my mental health. Somehow I managed to muddle through my teens with no help from mum. It’s only now I’ve realised she was suffering herself with the financial burden of bringing up six children in the eighties with rising interest rates.

Anyway back to my teenage depression – how did I handle it? I was into sport especially hockey, I went to practice after school and I played matches after school and on a Saturday. I went to church on a Sunday and I took an active part in Youth events. I loved reading and after finding Jane Eyre on a friend’s bookshelf my life was transformed. Even though our house was overcrowded when we were growing up we always found ways of entertaining ourselves on very little money.

Recently, I noticed a student in my class seemed to be going through that teen depression I felt at 15 but hers was also very different. There was no joy in her life, no amount of jokes shared in class could raise a smile. I asked her ‘are you ready to talk about what’s going on?’ She looked surprised and for the first time she made eye contact. ‘No’, she replied in a I wish I could style. ‘Is it family? She shook her head. ‘You?’ She nodded. ‘Is it every day? For how long? ‘Since year 8.’

Too long without help. She left the lesson with the decision to seek help. Our country is in the middle of a mental health crisis. I’m hearing stories of children in Year 3 and Year 4 self-harming, experimenting? Messing about? Only link social media! After weeks of media coverage on shocking images of self harming on Instagram, has it led children to seek out these images who otherwise would not have considered it?

Hate Crime on the Rise – Time for Some Love

With so much coverage on the feelings of hate; I think it’s time to pour in some love. Whether it’s the divisiveness of Brexit; or building walls instead of bridges; rise of the far right. Let’s promote some of the lovely things people do for each other in this country and around the world.

When everything is going right in your life you rarely look for the good in people but recently after bereavement in my family I could see there is a lot of love out there. I have had deep conversations about the feelings of grief, of love and despair.

I remember the outpouring of grief for my mum and dad as a result of the love and generosity they showed to family and strangers. It’s better to be remembered for your kind words and encouragement rather than bitterness and animosity.

Special Needs

Having a disabled sister gave me the desire to use my sewing skills to make life more comfortable for her. She suffers from dyspragia. The bibs I see in the shops are either plastic, plain and huge or small and childish. My sister is 53 years old she needed something much more grown up, so I experimented with a range of fabrics, until I found the perfect match.

The final product looks like a scarf; it is reversible and it is colourful. My favourite one is the camouflage fabric because it works for all age groups.