Life is a roller coaster

Today I’m feeling really reflective. I guess birthdays often have that effect on people.

I’m 39 today.

I look at that number and it freaks me out. The following one the big 40 is so scary.

I never used to really consider age.

I’m remember turning 30 was hard for me. I think for a long time I had thought of my parents as being in their 30’s, so I was freaked out that I had reached it.

Yet wow 40 that’s gonna bite.

My 30’s have been one hell of a decade. I have faced more than I could have ever imagined.

Losing Olivia very nearly destroyed me if it hadn’t been for her legacy of strength and her beautiful sisters I’m not sure I would be here.

It’s certainly been a decade of pain.
Still it’s also been one with some hope.

I’ve found a job that I love. I have had my life blessed by children who are not mine from birth but are mine of heart.

I have made fantastic strides in my writing. Seen myself published and had many wonderful experiences thanks to the gift of words.

I’ve also been on what I call “my journey of self loving”. Finally learning to love myself as I am, not how I felt I should be. Modelling and walking a catwalk are things I never ever imagined I would achieve.

My life has been blessed with new friends, yet my heart aches for those that turned away too . Never expected it to be like this and I do desperately have a void in my heart. I miss them.

So I guess it’s been a roller coaster decade. The Ronan Keating song is running about my head on a crazy loop.

“Life is a roller coaster and you just got to ride it”.

 

How blooming true is this!

The ups and downs of my particular ride well, has left me either screaming with joy or sick to my stomach.

Yet my decade isn’t over. From today I have another 364 days to make it count.

I want to push my boundaries before the end of this year.

To challenge myself more.

To make those memories and maybe tip the scales of this decade to the side of the light not the darkness.

To one of joy not pain.

So here’s where I need your help.

What crazy memory making things have you done that you would like to share?

Special places you have been?

Art that needs to be seen?

Books that need to be read?

Food that needs to be tasted.

Sunsets that need to be watched.

I want to really live these last days of my 30’s. I want the decade to hold more joy that pain ( if thats possible).

Help me remember my 30’s with a smile rather than tears.

True beauty

If you have been on social media this week or have watched or read the news you would have heard about the remarks Loose women, ex pop star Jamelia as said regarding clothing brands and the availability  of clothes in sizes that she doesn’t believe to be healthy. How she believes that High street stores should not stock sizes below a 6 and over a 20 as ‘they’ should feel uncomfortable if ‘they’ are unhealthy.

So many wonderful bloggers have eloquently written about this and in a way that I couldn’t do it justice.

The reason I cannot find the words is simply because Jamelia’s statement stole from me. They took away a feeling of self confidence that I had finally found only after the last few years. She made me feel like

a) a burden on society

b) someone who should be ashamed

Thankfully the amazing Debz from The not so secret diary of a wannabe princess decided to do something about these remarks. In her words

 ” I feel that by saying ‘they’ should shop in specialist shops and ‘they’ should be made to feel uncomfortable it is all very anonymous. It is easy to say that a bunch of blank faces (and bodies) should be treated a certain way, but what Jamelia (and anyone who agrees with her) needs to realise is that WE are real people. We have REAL feelings, REAL jobs, friends and families. When you say that people should make ‘them’ feel uncomfortable you are encouraging them to treat US differently.. US as in real people.
So, Jamelia and anyone who feels that ‘they’ should be made to feel uncomfortable 
‘WE ARE THE ‘THEY’

Then Debz encouraged women of the sizes that ‘Dr Jamelia’ doesn’t believe are healthy to take to social media and share photos of themselves
Using the hashtag #wearethethey

I cannot tell you how this hashtag has moved me over the last two days. Beautiful women size 20 and over and equally as beautiful woman size 6 and under celebrating their bodies as they blooming well should.

My own journey with body acceptable has been hard, from a teenager full of self loathing and self harm I only finally loved my body once it started to grow a child. When I could throw away all the falsehoods and realise what an amazing thing my body truly was.

I  actually don’t remember a time when I didn’t think I was fat. When my body was the size that Jamelia  considers acceptable I hated it. Living on a diet of cigarettes and vodka scared to eat. Hating my body for what it was, punishing it daily left me with a body that was failing and my mind, well let’s not go there.

I actually dread to think where I would be now if I hadn’t met my husband and got pregnant with my first born when I did.  Knowing that a life was forming inside me changed me. I finally understood what true beauty was.

Now it would be wonderful if my mind set had stayed in this place but 4 children in 5 years left my body rather ragged, but thankfully being able to be active with the girls and teaching dance my body was in a place that I was happy with or I could accept.

Then to cut a long story short I was attacked and beaten and then due to complications was left with an immune system that was failing.

10 years later I am left with a health issue that effects every part of my life. I take numerous medicines and my ability to do physical things is sorely limited. I also live in constant pain.

Now this had changed my world from one were I was a fit dance teacher to one where for a while could barely walk.

I had to find a new kind of normal.  I also had to face a changing body and one I hated . The old self hatred rose it’s ugly head. I struggled, clothes became a non issue, a uniform of jeans and baggy clothes became my wardrobe. Never did I wake up excited about what I was going to wear. Photographs of me disappeared, I became the photographer never the photographed.

Then thankfully a few years ago I came across some plus size bloggers, women who were actively shouting I’m here and I want to look good. Women who advocate that fashion should come in all sizes.

Women who changed me.

Now I look in the mirror and like what I see, yes I’m overweight but my diet is good. It’s certainly a lot better than it was back In the days of cigarettes and vodka.

I’m swimming each week, raising 4 amazing children and working  full time as a foster carer to children with special needs.

I love life and I’m really living.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this Jamelia I am not ashamed of who I am.

How dare you suggest I should be made to feel uncomfortable anywhere.  I am a beautiful, incredible woman and I only hope that one day that you will realise that beauty is not found in the number on your label and that health is not always something you can see.

Please consider your position as well, consider all those women who you destroyed with your words. Opinions are like assholes we all have them, yet when in a position of privilege in this case being beamed into thousands of homes around the UK please think before you speak. The shit you spew can and I can assure you has damaged someone.

When the world stops judging people’s value on appearance then the world will finally see true beauty. 

 

I’m on the T.V

So a few weeks ago I blogged about my youngest daughter winning the Mayor Civic award  due to this amazing achievement Brodie and I were asked into our local tv station to share more about the award and Livvy.

Take a look at our interview here.

Be kind, I love to talk and Brodie bless her got stage fright.

 

 

If you want to learn more about Livvy’s Smile check out our website Livvy’s Smile and if you are interested in joining us to celebrate Livvy’s 16th Check out the facebook event here…

Weekly wish list

My weekly wish list my wants, needs and must have’s.

 

My first choice is this beautiful leather jacket I have admired this for a while from the Asos curve range and I just love it.

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Staying with the leather theme I have this gorgeous bag from Dr Martens on my birthday wish list.

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I love this simple but stunning Black Lace top from Yours Clothing.

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To complete this rock chick look I really really need this aptly named eyeshadow palette from the fantastic Charlotte Tilbury range. I have just brought a number of her products and I love the quality of them.

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Memories cherished as memories are made.

I have just returned from a wonderful week in beautiful Wales.

I have loved every minute of it, from the beautiful sunsets to the endless beaches.

Its been a truly wonderful week.

It was a week I so needed, time to recharge and refresh my mind.

Time to allow the words to form and the passages to write.

I am feeling stronger that ever.

My heart and mind are on the same path.

This holiday was the first time I have gone back to this area of Wales without Livvy.

I honestly believed that it was going to have to be another first without her.

Yet it wasn’t because as I have enjoyed the views, cherished the sunsets and loved the ocean I have felt Livvy everywhere.

Memories cherished as memories made.

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There has to be a line they don’t cross.

I’m on holiday right now trying hard to deal with memories that are haunting me whilst creating new ones to cherish and love.

Yet even here in the middle of nowhere I cannot avoid the arguments and discussions following the interview given by Samantha Cameron about the loss of her son Ivan.  

Part of me wants to be naive right now and believe that this a mother just opening her heart about the pain and devastation she has felt from the loss of her son.

I want to remember the shared look we exchanged as we acknowledged the loss of our children. How that brief moment in Downing Street span across economic backgrounds into empathy and shared understanding.

As a grieving mother I cannot imagine a mom using this loss as a campaign tactic.

Please no.

Yet as naive as I wish to be the Cameron’s  have already proven that all experiences, all struggles are open for exploitation.

We remember David Cameron telling us he understood  how hard it is to raise a disabled child. How he will be supporting families as they struggle. Only for him to walk back over all his promises in a dramatic fashion. With cuts to services and benefits that have dramatically left people struggling to survive. 

Cut in services

Bedroom tax 

Local government budgets being slashed leading to less respite, play schemes etc etc.

And so much more. 

Even now if leaked information is to be trusted if the conservatives stay in power there will be more cuts coming to those who are disabled and those caring for them.

To be truthful I am lost for words. 

The whole situation is making my stomach ache.

I want to believe that this story, that Samantha Cameron’s interview is not part of the campaign trail.

I want to honestly believe that she is not exploiting the hearts of those like myself who grieve desperately for their child.

In fact I have to believe this. 

To accept anything else would make me question humanity.

Would make me question everything.

Surely there has to be a line a political party won’t cross?

   

No discrimination 

This weekend is pretty important to me as a Christian I celebrate the victory of the cross.  

I acknowledge the sacrifice of my saviour Jesus.

I love being a Christian, a Christ follower. It’s who I am right to the core. At times it is the only thing that really makes sense to me.

I have faith.

Yet I’m not sure I’m religious.

Now so many people tell me that you can’t be one without the other but the more I read my bible the more I spend time in prayer I have to disagree. 

Right now religion is tearing this world apart. The man made rules are driving wedges between families between friendships. 

Placing weapons in hands.

When I read my bible all I read about Jesus is love.

I don’t read of him going to his death only after weeks of weeks of negotiations. Having a signed contract off us all to live by a set of rules.

His life was about love and kindness and compassion and healing. 

He healed many, he fed thousands he taught so many more but I didn’t see him checking the sexual orientation of who he healed beforehand.  

Asking them to sign up on a dotted  line.

He led by example showing only kindness and compassion. 

No judgement 

No barriers between him and anyone.

I believe that Jesus died for us all.

For each and every one of us. Sacrificing his life so that we may live in his fathers love. That the barrier of sin is forever broken.

He gave us the choice to open our hearts and know God to love God. 

Our choice given in love not fear.

An offer for all. 

For every one from any race, 

For every gender 

and for everyone of every sexuality.

Love is and should always be unconditional and Jesus love was the greatest example of this.

He taught in love

He gave in love 

He died in love 

I pray that religions of the world will focus now on this love. That they see discrimination is not found in Jesus words.

 37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’c 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’d 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40

* I almost didn’t publish this blog post . I was a little scared of the reaction to it, but I’ve realised I can not write my heart. I am tired of people assuming things because of my faith. Believing they know my beliefs when actually they don’t.

The thing is this is my heart my understanding of what I have learn what I have read. I accept that it will not be the view of others and that’s ok because while we may not agree we can respect each other’s views. 

Autism awareness week – Speak Up

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This week is World Autism Awareness Week and we are Speaking Up and standing up for autism.

Its not just about raising funds for autism support it is about spreading the word and raising awareness.

Here are some facts and statistics about autism.

  • Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition. Without the right support, it can have a profound – sometimes devastating – effect on individuals and families
  • It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.
  • Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK with autism – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.7 million people every day.
  • Autism doesn’t just affect children. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism.
  • Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone has it.
  • While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.

 

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Raising two children who both have a diagnoses of autism has made me really realise how vast the spectrum is and its this degree of variation that leaves many struggling with little or no support.

There need to be more investment placed in early and true diagnoses and support given.

There also needs to be more support to those who care for children and adults with autism.

I can honestly say that why I love my children with all my heart at times autism has led me to some isolated places. Its hard watching your children struggle to understand, get frustrated or anxious. Its also hard when you are the receiver of their frustrations. Having the right support and guidance is invaluable.

So that is why this week I am Speaking Up to raise awareness of Autism.

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Please visit the The National Autistic Society and learn more about Autism

 

 

Don’t forget to join in with this weeks Speak Up and tell me what your are passionate about and let us support and encourage each other.

I’m ok 

Sometimes I wonder if I really should say how I feel? 

Do I upset others?

Should I pretend 

Thursday was epilepsy awareness day and I posted this photo. 

  

Everyone was so sweet and understanding but worried for me.

I hate that people worry about me.

You see I’m ok, 

I am broken and grieving but I’m ok.

I know that I have so much to celebrate every morning when I awake. 

My beautiful girls 

My adorable foster son 

My annoying husband 

I am so much to be grateful for.

I got to be Livvy’s mom, no I am Livvy’s mom. 

For nine and a half years I got to hold this sweet girl in my arms. I had the opportunity to grow and learn and change.

I believe that we all have a purpose in life and I know Livvys was to educate me on what really matters. 

The moments, those special moments that cannot be brought they are simply priceless. 

Livvy taught me to be strong, to use my voice for those who cannot speak. To fight for the rights of those that society chooses to ignore. To look beyond the normal and celebrate diversity as the gift it truly is.

Livvy awoke a soul that was in hiding. In her journey I found my own.

Yes Thursday was a hard day. One where grief sucker punched me hard. The images, infographics about epilepsy took me back to a time when my heart was breaking.

Livvy suffered from severe epilepsy, some days the seizures never slowed down. Endless medications, needles , drips to find her peace. 

These memories flooded my mind. They crushed my chest until I couldn’t breathe.

But I’m ok because no matter the darkness of grief the light will always shine through. 

Always 

People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

My greatest prizes

Like most parents I celebrate the awards and achievements my children have earned from star reader to huggable hero I am proud of all of them. Yet when my child is celebrated for her kindness and compassion my heart fills that little bit more.

Kindness and empathy are two of the greatest qualities I hope for my girls. That they to look beyond themselves and to care and love upon others. 

My girls life experiences have led them to many opportunities to do just this and I am proud to say that they have never let me down they have always shown compassion even when they haven’t really wanted to.

So yes this last Friday night found me bursting with pride when my youngest  daughter  Brodie  was announced as a winner of a Mayor Civic Award.  

As we sat there in the Town hall hearing stories of incredible achievements from amazing people we honestly was just  happy to be there. My daughter in fact was surprised to even be considered against some of these inspiring people. So imagine her shock when she was named overall winner of her category. I wished I had my camera as she asked “did they really call my name”.

  

The evening was truly special good food, great company and this award was lovely but my biggest prize came in the journey home when my daughter turned to me and said “this award is lovely mom but getting to be Livvy’s sister is the biggest prize  ever”. 

Livvy is and always will be our inspiration but as a mom I know I have been blessed not only to be Livvys mom but to also call her sisters Kennedy, Eden and  Brodie “my daughters ”  they are all my prizes