A drag and a haul

Folks, sometimes you gotta drag yourself up and haul yourself to each of your jobs, one by one.

That is what I have to do this evening. Drag myself up and put some rice on, haul myself over to the bathroom to run a warm bath for a wriggly little baby, while scooping him off the bathroom floor numerous times and setting him firmly outside on the carpet. Oh no here he comes again, little hands smacking the floor in his excited haste to crawl into the bathroom. That boy loves bathrooms. He loves baths too.

Heave myself off this couch and glance at the stack of dishes in the sink. No way they are getting washed tonight. I am just about done. That bath will knock me out, then it will be getting boy into his pyjamas… mission impossible. He wriggles away and crawls off with a bare bottom, so fast, laughing at my futile attempts to drag him back to be changed. Then it will be reading so many books before bed, boy turning the pages faster than I can read them, because that’s the fun thing to do now.

Then it will be milk time, and then hopefully.. HOPEFULLY… he will turn on to his stomach and splay his arms about, wriggle a bit to get comfy, and slowly fall into slumber.

I say hopefully because last night slumber did not arrive for the fella. It choo chooed into the station, for sure. But boy did not get on that slumber train. He tossed and turned and eventually, frustrated and tuckered out, he cried. For hours and hours. Until 1:45am. YES I counted.

So hopefully tonight my dragging and hauling will yield me some dead time on the sofa before I crawl into bed.

Hopefully.

What We Attract

Interestingly, the world still appears to be falling apart in 2020. Nothing has changed. Everybody is still carrying on. Keeping on keeping on.

Do you think these days will be read about in history books? Will my grandkids ask me what I was doing when Brexit happened?

Yes dear, I was eating my crumpets and having my tea and planning to add toilet roll to next week’s shopping list. I expect when Germany went down in WWII people were cooking dinner and serving up rationed potatoes, just like any other day.

People just keep on keeping on, because, honestly, what else is there to do?

Other than be informed and try to help as much as one can by spreading awareness and donations and showing love. It’s easy to show love when love abounds, and hard to show love when all you see is moody hatred.

I live in Crewe, as I have said a million times, and more often than not, in this awful town, I experience negativity. There is a lot of poverty and uncouthness here, so when I am greeted nicely or experience something good from someone, I am genuinely surprised.

I think you also attract what you put out. I generally go about my day very negatively. Stressed and frustrated and expecting people to swear at me. The other day at the post office, I had a mountain of parcels to post and my boy began to cry in his pram as I was halfway through dealing with the cashier. The queue behind me grew longer and heavier and more impatient, the air became muggy and hot and I was sweltering under my coat and imagined my son must also be doing the same which is why he was fussing. He began to bawl loudly and the cashier next to mine said to the customer behind me, ‘If we could get that young man to SHUT UP, I could help you better’.

Folks, I was mortified and ashamed and stressed and upset. I was doing my best to finish my business quickly and hush my son simultaneously, and a bit of empathy would have meant the world. In that moment the heat of shame and anger crept around my face and as soon as I snatched my receipt I stormed out, muttering about how I despise Crewe and every single filthy, uncouth, ill-mannered, insensitive, horrible chav in this depressing grey shitty town.

There.

I felt ashamed afterwards for saying those things because it made me no better than they were.

Do we really attract what we put out?

Wisdom (teeth and lemons)

One of my biggest pet peeves is when young people write ‘wisdom’.

It annoys me on so many levels.

Level 1: They are way too young to have accumulated such an insane amount of wisdom (see: ’25 things I have learned in 25 years on this planet). Level 2: Wisdom is more impactful in smaller doses. Level 3: It’s irritating and assumes people will want to hear what a green, relatively inexperienced young person has got to say about life. Level 4: If you overlook all the previous levels and actually delve into what they have to say, you will more often than not discover that they have listed the most mundane, common sense things ever.

So it might appear ironic that I am here today to list some things that I have learnt from other people.

I don’t pretend to think that my things are of any value to anybody but myself. But I like that I have learned them, and wonder at what others might think of them.

Are they mundane?

Are they common sense?

Do they mean anything to anybody?

Who knows.

Thing One: My mother taught me through words and actions that people will like you much more if you don’t take yourself too seriously. You see, growing up, my sister and I were lemons. Oh, such lemons. It shames me to remember it. If we were at a gathering, even if the party was full of people we knew, we would just stand there and wait for people to socialise with us. We never thought to join a group and attend the party properly. My mother, a social butterfly, would become so impatient with us. She would flit from group to group leaving laughter in her wake. We felt awkward and shy and socially inept. Complaining to my mother about my inability to make friends or be happy socially, she told me it was because I took myself too seriously. Let loose. Laugh at yourself a little.

I am still trying to learn how to do that.

Thing Two: My father taught me about faith. Real, sincere faith. This thing is perhaps an incredulous thing to believe, if ye are of little faith. Or not religious at all. I am religious. Not fanatically, but respectably so.

My dad has such strong, unwavering faith. He always says to me in Arabic, ‘you will see wonders’ (If you have faith), and I always see goosebump wonders happening to him. Once his car got stolen. Somebody broke into our home, stole all the keys and phones, and took the car from the garage. We reported it to the police, nothing. It was a Chevrolet Suburban, and our first big car since the seven of us used to cram into my dad’s ’89 caprice. We loved it. I was in tears. My father, however, was stoic. You will see, he told us, it will come back. I have strong faith. It’s in God’s hands. God has never let me down. Two days later, my father received a phone call from an old man who said, Your car is outside my house. It was the strangest story. The old man had noticed this strange new car outside his house for two days, and on the second day went out to investigate. He said he found the car keys under the car, and when he got inside it he found some of my father’s work papers with his work number on and gave that a call. The car had cigarette butt stains on it and the seats were a little torn, but was otherwise in perfect condition. This is not the only story I have about my father’s faith, there are many more, but this one has stuck in my head for 12 years. You could call it luck, you could call it coincidence, but I have never seen anybody as sure as my father that he would get his car back. And he did.

Thing Three: My sister in law taught me to wash the dinner dishes, clean the counter and broom the floor in 15 minutes. Look at the clock, she would say, porcelain arms slipping into rubber gloves, in 15 minutes, I shall have finished everything and will be sipping my tea. Then she would daintily, yet efficiently wash everything up, wipe the counter with a furious deftness that was fascinating to watch, and then neatly broom the floor and empty the dirt into the bin with a little flourish. Gloves off, neatly and quickly draped over the tap, feet sliding out of slippers, cup of tea in hand, little tidy dance, arms out, hands elegantly swaying. It all looked so neat and tidy and efficient and deft and, dare I say, exciting. A challenge. So that is what I do now. And seeing a tidy kitchen in the morning makes me more likely to have a productive day. Also my sister in law is a little sparrow and makes me laugh, so it’s nice to remember her as I deftly and neatly scrub away at my kitchen counter.

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Image Credit: Elizabeth Floyd. Check out her beautiful website!

Gutted

Well, that is that. This country just elected the conservative party to see them through Brexit. A win so big it hasn’t been seen in this capacity for 80 years.

What on earth does that mean for this country? What does that SAY about us?

I must say I felt terribly disappointed. I feel like a lot of people are smug and happy about it. They think they have done the correct thing. They think they have voted to leave the European Union and that is it. How wrong they are.

I’ve been shocked by people who are quite close to me voting for the tories because they think this is a nanny state, saying things like people ought to work hard for things and shouldn’t have free healthcare. I agree! I think if you are able, you must work hard and earn money to pay for things. But if you genuinely can’t, then my taxes can help you until you are back on your feet. I think that is the best way to go. Less poverty, less depression, less cruelty, more happiness, more equality, more peace in society! The biggest driver of crime, I think, is poverty and lack of education. The cuts to the education system and the cuts to benefits has certainly seen a rise in crime in the UK!! Invest in a rich country, not just economically, but socially!!! How thick do you have to be to NOT see this? How privileged???

Saying things like I’d rather pay for health insurance than pay taxes so more vulnerable people don’t get free cancer care and free ambulances.

I feel sickened to my core.

Boris Johnson says they are not selling off the NHS, but facts show the conservatives have been selling parts of this valued service to private companies since 2015. They have already sold so much patient data to American drug companies, so they know exactly where to hit to drain the NHS of its finances. So when it goes belly up the tories can raise their well-fed fingers and say, OOPS! It’s ok for them, though. They can afford private hospitals.

I am stunned and gutted.

 

Politics

I am 25 and my right knee gets stiff and hurts when I sit for too long.

I don’t think it means I am old. I think it means I am not active enough. A smart person would create a goal and an action plan to combat that before they DID get old, and it became a real issue, rather than a minor hindrance. I think I am smart, but then I keep doing un-smart things. So I don’t know if there will be an action plan. Let’s wait and see. *peers into the future*

A week from today is the UK general election. The UK have been doing some very stupid things lately. Or maybe I have just reached mental maturity and now understand that all politics is stupid and we have always been doing stupid things. They say mental maturity is reached at 24 years of age, and that until then your brain is still growing and learning. Not to say that the brain doesn’t still grow and learn after that age, but that is the age at which most things solidify.

I can tell you honestly that the latest politics have taught me that everything is run by egos. Leaders are not intelligent, they are confident.

People will buy any kind of faeces. Look at America, and how they decided to buy into Trump. Well, we bought into his lookalike, Boris Johnson, and most people will certainly buy into him again because Jeremy Corbyn hates Jews. What a sodding pile of soggy excrement.

Hating Israel does not mean you hate Jews. I love Jews. But I hate Zionists because they pillage Palestinian land and use their children as human shields, whilst claiming their army is the best because it is vegan and cruelty free. Anyway. I digress.

Has the UK gone to the bins before? I am sure it has. Will it go to the bins again? Certainly.

I just hope this time the bins are the recycling kind that don’t smell too bad.

God help us all.

On This Strange Feeling

Folks. I appear to have run out of motivation. I appear to be standing in a stagnant pond, the foul smell of water that does not move, that catches waste and sits there with no way to dispose of it, wafting around me. I wear long rubber boots and a net hangs loosely in my hands, and I know I am supposed to be doing something, but cannot for the life of me fathom what it is.

Some would be of the opinion that I am doing God’s work. Striving to raise a part of the next generation. It is a selfless act, they would say. You are a martyr, for the time being. Embrace the drudgery, revel in the happy moments, and keep on keeping on.

Others would pity me. You have lost your freedom, they would say. Your mind is blank and, dare I say, dank? Your thoughts are preoccupied with another’s well-being, your brain is scattered, your emotions hang by a single, filthy thread. Every day is a battle for you, and you only have things to lose.

For me, standing here in this discomfort, it is a bit of both. I feel smothered and out of control, but at the same time overwhelmed with control and good feeling. I would not like to be anywhere else, any place else, and yet I want to be far far away. Take me far, though, and I would be miserable.

And ponds can be quite beautiful places to stand in.

Odd Exchange

I saw an odd interaction on Wednesday. I can’t quite shake it from my mind. It probably means nothing, but.. well, you decide for yourself.

I am sitting with my baby in a circle of other mothers with their babies. We are in the children’s section of the local library. Babies are cooing, the ones that are mobile are.. well, mobiling. Nibbling dirty goodies from the floor and gurgling at each other, chubby fingers reaching out to explore each other’s eyeballs. At the head of the circle is a woman who works at the library, with a notepad in hand.

‘Right,’ she says, ‘Welcome back mothers, and babies. Before we start this week’s singalong I’d like to go round the group and get all your names and your babies’ names.’

So round the group we go.

I’m Cindy and this is little Aiyla. 

I’m Anna and this is Kyle.

I’m Sarah and this is Amy.

I’m Lilly and this is Darcy.

And so on.

Until we come to an older lady holding a chubby little cherub with a bow on her head. The cherub, not the lady.

‘Hi,’ the lady says, ‘I’m Steph and this is my granddaughter Sofia.’

‘Oh!’ the library worker exclaims, ‘Stephanie! You probably don’t recognise me out of context.’

Steph squints at her, smiles politely, cocks her head.

‘We used to live on the same street in Goodbridge. A good many years ago.’

‘Oh!’ Steph says, laughing awkwardly, ‘Yes!’. Her lips lied to her eyes.

Yet she still squints at the library woman and cocks her head, almost unintentionally.

‘Yeah we used to have a good natter back then. Hahah. Right, who’s next?’

Steph relaxes visibly, sinking into her seat. She doesn’t look like she recognised the library woman.

Then the strange thing happens. A couple of new ladies walk in as we’re doing the introductions. We widen the circle and they seat themselves somewhere before Steph.. so that the library woman has to go back to them and get them to introduce themselves.

Then it’s Steph’s turn again, seemingly, because the circle is quiet and the library woman is looking at Steph, pen poised, ‘And you are?’ she says, pointedly, as though Steph is being slow.

Huh?!

Steph looks surprised, she stutters, ‘uh, yes I’m Steph and this is my granddaughter Sofia..’ and her voice fades away.

I thought it was all so baffling. How did the library woman recognise Steph from long ago in the first instance and then forget she ever knew her, and then proceed to also forget that she had already introduced herself?

What do YOU think?

On Reading and Narrating

I am reading a book now called Mrs Bridge.

It is written quite simply, with simple events and simple people. So far. Chapters are 3/4 of a page long, and deal with the simple people doing simple things. Except there appears to be an underlying shift under all the simplicity. A coiled snake, waiting to spring. It is a far cry from the previous book I was reading, in the manner of its writing. Less of the explosion, more mature. No feelings. Well, barely any. And always concealed under decorum.

You may be wondering how I am now managing to read whilst also navigating busy days with an ever-moving, ever-learning 6 month old (7 months on Sunday).

Well, I now read arduously during his ridiculously short naps. 40 minutes is all he has. I no longer rush about doing chores or beautifying myself. I am done with that. Chores accumulate the minute I have finished choring them, and I am just fat now. So until I lose this baby fat I really am not going to bother shoving myself uncomfortably into nice clothes and feeling depressed that they don’t fit me like they did pre-baby. I am just going to wear my leggings and my hoodies and feel comfortable, and lie on my sofa reading until the baby wakes up, when the cycle of shallow breaths (from me. Need to learn how to breathe deep more often) and nonstop exhaustion starts again.

How do people with more than one kid do it? Am I just so selfish?

I also strap baby in his pram, stick my headphones on and walk for two or three hours, listening to audiobooks. The weather is lovely for that now. It is September, and the August wasps are waning. There are so many Painted Ladies adorning flowers and fluttering here and there, landing on the top of the pram more than once. Blackberries drop lusciously from pregnant wild bushes, and their juice is just so sweet on the tongue. It is a lovely season, this season of late summer. Things are lush, there is no heavy sticky haze of heat, and the wind is fresh.

So I get my reading in, and the baby stares out at nature, smiles and gurgles at me, attempts to grab things, and eventually falls asleep, tired out by all the colour and stimulation.

And for me?

Well, it is a break from chores and baby entertainment.

We read so many books together everyday, sing songs, play games, and I try to talk to him as much as I can, narrating EVERYTHING. Right, i am putting your sock on. Oh stop wriggling your feet, naughty boy. That’s it. There. Both socks on. They had better stay on else you’ll get cold toes! Oh look it is raining outside. Shall we try to touch it. That’s it. No, don’t touch the muddy windowsill that Mummy hasn’t cleaned since before you were born (true story). Ok. Shall we read this book? No? You want to put it in your mouth. Alright. Can Mummy drink a cup of tea now? Look at this toy. How it rattles.

I am sick of my own damn voice I tell you. And sometimes I just want to be silent.

And I am quite isolated and know that lately, in society, a lot of new mums are, whereas they weren’t before. It is just how we live now. And I just can’t help thinking how bad that is for mental health, and how it might negatively impact the good I am trying to impart to my son.

 

Sunflowers

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my eleventh post.

We had a painting in our living room when we were kids, and it was of a field of sunflowers, tall and fierce. The background was some hedges and a stunning sunrise.

At the front of the field there was a small opening in the fringe of tall flowers, a black hole leading to the undergrowth, a tunnel winding through the strong stalks that were taller than a man.

The painter had just painted the opening of the tunnel, and some stalks at the opening had been trampled and the heads of the flowers ripped off and scattered about. But the painter had left no clue as to who the culprit was or what they were doing with the tunnel. It was all a mystery.

We had that painting on the wall for a good seventeen years. When we had white paint, we moved it to paint the walls ‘apple green’ (something my mother seemed to hanker after), and there was a small yellow rectangle on the white paint where the frame had been. Then we replaced it over the apple green walls and that stayed how it was for a good two years before my mother got sick of apple green and decided to go with magnolia.

That painting was on the wall from when I was about 7. And now I am 25, my father finally took it down, wrapped it in bubble wrap, put it in his suitcase and flew all the way to England with it to put it on the wall of our house here. This happened last week.

And when I saw it on the wall I didn’t even question it. It was like it had always been there. I looked at it and wondered at the tunnel in the sunflower field again, as I had always done before, but didn’t think anything of it, even though I hadn’t seen that painting in 4 years… until I walked into the room again and it hit me! What is that painting doing here, in another country?!

Isn’t it strange? How a memory or a thought makes a home in your mind? How it is not a stranger to you when you revisit it, because you’ve looked at it so often and thought about it so much over the years? It’s just a painting, but it’s been there for almost my entire life barring seven years, that it’s almost as if it were part of my life.

Are there any objects in your life that are seemingly mundane but have inexplicably taken residence in your mind?

Olha Darchuk

Bodies

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my tenth post.

Bo dies in this one.

Bo?! Oh no. We love Bo.

Yes.

Also you spoiled this on me.

Oh sorry. I thought you watched it.

So Bo dies, huh?

Yep. Bo dies.

(Sorry I had to do that.)

***

The gory fact of the matter is, our bodies are vessels in which our souls reside. They are the transport systems which our souls use to navigate the earth. Communication systems our souls use to impart feelings and emotions and thoughts to one another.

They are perishable, extinguishable and yet hugely capable.

Vulnerable, weak and simultaneously strong.

Resilient, tough, prone to accident and illness.

Our bodies are a gift. An imperfect perfection.

This is why in some religions it is a tenet of the faith to take care of the body.

These days people think taking care of the mind is more important, and while this is true of course, people forget that sometimes in order to have a healthy mind one must also have a healthy body.

Filling your body with nutrient-depleting foods and shouting at the world not to ‘shame’ you for it won’t make you happy. Sure, be happy with your body and your weight, but make sure your body is getting the love it deserves.

If that means eating well and treating oneself now and again then that is most suitable. If it means moving, dancing, walking, hiking, laughing, cycling, staring at beautiful things, then certainly your body shall thank you and your mind will be in harmony with your body.

It doesn’t matter if you have a bit of podge, it does matter if you let that bit of podge get you down. Just love your body and treat it well, and you will reap plenty of mental wellness rewards. That is what I think.

What do you think about all this?

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