January Daybook

simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 11th January 2017

Looking out my window… I can see clear blue skies, but I can hear the wind howling and there is a storm on its way.

I am thinking… I might cook cheesy bacon pasta for tea tonight.

I am thankful… that mental health in young people is taken seriously.

One of my favourite things… is driving with my son to band practice and having a natter about all sorts of things, both big and small.

I am creating… this little beauty. I began it during the evening on Boxing Day (for my non-UK readers, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day) and it is going to be used when we go away in our caravan this summer.

Rectangle blanket based on the traditional "granny" stitch, using rainbow colours. Three repeats of the individual colours followed by three rows of each colour afterwards. Just starting the blue three now and hopefully will finish it this weekend.
Rectangle blanket based on the traditional “granny” stitch, using rainbow colours. Three repeats of the individual colours followed by three rows of each colour afterwards. Just starting the blue three now and hopefully will finish it this weekend.

I am wearing… layers, layers and layers today. The heating is on but I’m bone-cold.

I am reading… “The Coroner (Coroner: Jenny Cooper Series)” by M R Hall

I am watching… The BDO World Championships on TV this week. I love watching the darts, and the BDO suits me because it is not as high-powered or glitzy as the PDC competitions. Darts are good to crochet to as I can listen and only half watch the TV as I’m concentrating on the yarn in my hands.

I have been listening to… Pemberton Old Band rehearsing for a competition this weekend in Skegness. My son plays bass trombone for them and I sometimes give him a lift to rehearsals. I have enjoyed the experience of being a groupie rather than a player since he started playing with them, and it makes a refreshing change for me to hear a piece of music being crafted into a performance piece to contest level by a band of this calibre. They are in the First Section (one level down from the Championship Section but working on their way back up) and they are a level above where I played with Middleton Band before I stopped playing.

I am hoping… my brother recovers quickly from his surgery yesterday.

I am learning… to trust my instinct.

In my kitchen… I have been making the effort to cook proper meals from scratch. We have a limited food budget and sometimes it can be a challenge to eat healthily all the time, and I have been enjoying the challenge of finding recipes and dishes that we can eat to fill us up, fill us up healthily, fill us up healthily and inexpensively.

Board room… we are looking at the story of Jonah and the Whale for our next Messy Church and I really want to do this activity with the children:

Post Script: I found this site (Strategies for dealing with change) when I was looking for something to help someone I love who is going through some really difficult, anxious times. I found this picture, and thought it would be great to share with you too. Please visit the host site for more like this.


Shared Quote…

Closing Notes… I began this post this morning, about 12 hours ago (which is why I said the sky is clear blue and not the midnight black it is now) and today has been another one that has been packed with drama, fun, music, family, planning, crafting and laughter. I thank God that my life is so varied and that it is filled with so many people who stimulate me in so many different ways. I have to say that being a mum is challenging at the minute, and I trust God to see us through the particular storm we are weathering just now. I am grateful to my friends who visited today too – a bit of a giggle and a chat with people you love goes a long way to making things feel better! And music. Ah music. Where would I be without you? Laughing with Ethan and Megan in the car going to band rehearsal tonight and having fun finding music that we all like. Fortunately all three of us have similar musical taste and we enjoyed a great 45 minutes each way listening to all sorts of stuff, from First Class’ “Beach Baby”, to the cast recording of songs from “Sweet Charity”, by way of Glen Campbell and his “Rhinestone Cowboy” (with alternative words, courtesy of yours truly) and a bit of “Hairspray” to finish with. You definitely can’t stop the beat if you’re travelling with the Pamster at the minute!



Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016

021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…


A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

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A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.

Daybook Entry – 5th April

It is a rest day from the Blogging from A-Z challenge today, so I wanted to fill the gap with a Daybook entry. Things have been pretty hectic recently and I am enjoying blogging regularly again so here we go:

For Today… Easter Sunday 2015

Outside my window… the sun is setting on a glorious Easter Sunday. The sun has shone, the sky was blue and I had my first load of washing of the year out on the line to dry today.

I am thinking… about how sometimes, the biggest lies we tell are the ones we tell ourselves.

I am thankful… for my Mum and Dad’s roast lamb dinner today.

I am wearing… blue shorts, white vest.

I am creating… not very much at the minute. I have a huge backlog of studying to do, including two assignments which are due in soon. Even though I am loving my studies, I am feeling more than a little jaded just now and it is showing up in the fact that I am not being as creative as I would like to be. I am looking forward to the time soon when I can crochet or sew with impunity, or can get my sketching/painting stuff out without feeling guilty about spending time on them.

I am going… out for the day tomorrow with my husband. We don’t know where yet but we are looking for somewhere where we can see Morris dancing, or an Easter fair or something. We quite like road trips so driving a distance is no problem for us. In fact, the journey is half the fun.

I am wondering… how my father in law is doing today. He has had a marked deterioration in his mental capacity since the funeral on Thursday and he is now showing behaviours that we don’t recognise in him. We are worried about him.

I am praying for… obviously my father in law, but my husband also. He has just lost his mum, and to all intents and purposes his dad is nearly lost too. It’s a lot to take in and deal with all at once and I am praying for strength and patience for him. I am also praying for Joanne and her family. They are facing an end of life situation and it is very painful for them. I am praying for peace and healing for them.

I am reading… “Soul Music” by Terry Pratchett. I have recently read “Mort” and “Reaper Man” and have thoroughly enjoyed them both so I have high expectations from this one too!

I am hoping… for sunshine tomorrow.

I am learning… how to write a song, how to harmonise a melody and how to modulate the key. And I’m loving it.

In my garden… I have a little area of decking that we built about 15 years ago and it needs some attention now the winter is over. We like to sit out on it during the summer and every couple of years we need to treat it with preserver. This year is a year for some re-staining too. I might even get round to planting some plants in pots for it.

In my kitchen… we enjoyed a lovely roast dinner with my Mum and Dad today. Roast lamb with all the trimmings. Delicious!

A favourite quote for today… “He is risen!”



A peek into my day…

Evening sunshine in my garden today. Garden looking a bit shabby but the colour from the light is gorgeous.


One of my favourite things… is ice cold Vimto

From the board room…


A few plans for the rest of this week: day out tomorrow, baptism prep night on Wednesday, band rehearsal Friday night, Prayer Morning on Saturday and then a concert for the Mayor of Todmorden on Saturday night. Busy week!!


If you would like to join in with the Simple Woman’s Daybook, please visit the host site at http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.co.uk/p/httpthesimplewoman.html

Time To Talk – Mental Health

It is “Time to Talk” day today, a day of campaigning and raising awareness of mental health problems and how it affects people. It has been designed in order to encourage people to speak up and talk about their mental health and the flip side of that is that it is also there to encourage people to listen and try to understand it more.

I applaud the action because in my experience the most difficult thing about suffering with mental health problems is the fear of how people will react should I talk to them about it. It is far easier to keep things to myself than risk their reaction because again, in my experience, people tend to react one of two ways: they either shut down completely and reject me, assuming that I am totally incapable of anything, or they try and “fix” me. One reaction comes from a place of fear and the other is born out of a loving position, but both are as hurtful and destructive as each other.

People who know me know that I do suffer from depression from time to time but even those closest to me don’t fully grasp the depths that depression takes me to now and again. This isn’t the post for that particular discussion, but suffice to say for now that I have found myself at that point where it can be as bleak as can be and up to now I have not crossed that line. Obviously, or else I wouldn’t be here talking about the issue today.

My depression – and yes, I do own it as “mine” because depression and the whole plethora of mental health problems are different for everyone and the way I experience it is not going to be the same as someone else – can be triggered by lots of different things and there isn’t usually a pattern to it. What could affect me badly one time might just blow past me the next, and vice versa. It’s not even as black and white as that though because even though the triggers may vary, my coping abilities also vary and it’s difficult for me to explain all that to people.

Sometimes, I know my depression can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, but those same fluctuations can also cause me to come out fighting and screaming and other times they leave me cowering and hiding away. But other times, it can be triggered by something as simple as the sun shining. Or raining. Or being hungry. Or having an argument. Or not being able to pray. There doesn’t even have to be an identifiable trigger for depression to take hold. The last time was because I had had a throat infection which legitimately laid me up for nearly two weeks (I use the word “legitimately” intentionally). The trouble is that during those two weeks, a brick wall had been built at the front door of my house and to break through it became a bigger battle than the one I’d just fought with the bugs in my throat. Even stepping over the threshold to go and put rubbish in the bin outside became as big an event as planning a trip to climb Mount Everest.

Given those circumstances I can totally understand why someone would want to avoid “triggering” me and therefore assume that it’s best not to engage with me by not asking me to do things, or to take part in functions, or even just to give me a responsibility for something. But rejection isn’t the answer because making that assumption about me means that that person presumes to know me better than I know myself and that’s not fair. So we end up in a cycle of suffering and silence for fear of rejection, which, if I’m at a low point and struggling could push me further down and then which makes it ten times worse to come back from. Being that far down is hard enough without having to reassure those around me that I’m ok really, I just need to weather this particular storm and so on which to be honest is bloody hard work!

So yes, it’s easier not to speak out because getting past other people’s misunderstanding and assumptions makes recovery so much harder. If people didn’t react with aversion and rejection then half my battle is won already and I could just concentrate on getting through it.

But then there are the other people, whose reaction is to try to “fix” things, or bring about healing through “solving the problem” for me. As I said above, those people are reacting out of concern and love for me but in their way they too make the problem worse. I don’t want “fixing” thank you very much. I don’t want them to “solve my problem” by taking things away from me – my responsibilities and duties are what keep me going and give me a reason to get out of bed – and I don’t want them to feel guilty because I don’t miraculously jump up with a big smile on my face after they have “done their bit” in talking to me. Dealing with their guilt is as much hard work as dealing with the other people’s rejection, and when I’m in the middle of a black spell that extra weight of blackness doesn’t help one little bit.

My feeling is that the opportunity today to bring mental health into the public sphere should be grasped with both hands by all those affected by it. Statistics today say that 1 in 4 of us will suffer with mental health problems at some time or another in our lives. Just because 25% of us suffer with it doesn’t mean to say that the rest of the population aren’t affected. We all live in families, have friends, belong to clubs and organisations, churches, schools or colleges etc and it is inconceivable to think that nobody knows somebody with mental health problems.

You may think you don’t know anybody, but think again about how you would react if someone told you they were feeling “a bit low”, or that they said they weren’t coping too well. You may notice that someone isn’t behaving in their usual manner, or that their eating or exercise pattern has changed, but would you recognise those things as a sign that they are being affected by a change in their mental health?

How would you bring up the possibility of depression with them? If you don’t know how you would react, or how you would bring it up with them, then chances are that they already sense that and are not talking about it with you precisely for that reason.

If nothing else today, please try to think about the people around you and have something ready to say should you get the chance to speak to someone you are worried about. They won’t want you to try and pull them out of it. They won’t want you to understand how they feel. They won’t even want you to wave a magic wand and put right everything that’s affecting them. So relax, and just listen to them. If more people could just do that, then more people will feel more confident about speaking out.

There is still a stigma attached to mental health problems, but the more chances people get to talk about it, to try to understand it, to make it a normal part of life then the less that stigma will be and the less isolating mental health will be.


For more information or help please visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talking-about-mental-health 

Finding Mike

Please help find this man.

A man is searching for the kind stranger who persuaded him not to jump off a bridge into the River Thames in 2008.

Jonny Benjamin had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and was struggling to cope when he attempted to commit suicide on London’s Waterloo Bridge exactly six years ago, on January 14.

‘He was very calm and said “Please don’t do this, I’ve  been where you are and you can get better. Let’s have a coffee and we can talk about this,”‘ Jonny said. ‘He reminded me of what people do every day so the normality of it was really inviting.’

Jonny changed his mind and agreed to climb back over the railings, where police were waiting to help him. He has since turned his life around and is now a mental health campaigner, but he is desperate to find the man responsible for saving him that day.

‘His act of kindness changed my outlook on life and I have thought about him ever since. I want to find this man so I can thank him for what he did. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here today.’

Saw this today. Please RT it would be amazing to find him & let Jonny Benjamin say thanks! #findmikehttp://t.co/HBe5ihuM9R— 
Kirsty Dougall (@kirstydoogs) January 14, 2014

Jonny doesn’t know the man’s name, but has dubbed his campaign ‘Finding Mike’ and says the stranger looked to be in his early twenties at the time.

With the help of charity Rethink Mental Illness, Jonny’s campaign is gathering pace and he asks anyone who might know anything about the man to contact him.

He is now making a film to spread the message of recovery, which is due to be released in April.

In the meantime, you can help by publicising the Finding Mike campaign on Facebook or Twitter, or by contacting findmike@rethink.org if you have any information.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

Freaky Friday

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be, and why? If that seems too easy, try this one: who would you like to have spend a day as you and what do you hope they’d learn from the experience?

I wouldn’t want to be anyone else for the day, but I would love to see what someone makes of me from the inside if they were to spend the day as me.

I would especially look forward to the debrief session afterwards where hopefully they would offer some sort of insight into how I could be “me” but a bit better.

Let me explain.

As you may know already I have experienced several bouts of severe depression in my life and every now and again it rears its ugly head again and I feel myself descending on that black spiral to a horrible place. That horrible place where I don’t even want to breathe in because it means living for another couple of heartbeats longer. The front door on my house grows bars and the thought of stepping over the threshold fills me with such dread that even going outside to put something in the bin feels like a major ordeal. Once or twice in my life I have been at the point where I just don’t want to carry on living because it all seems just too much. I am lucky that I have the loving support of my family and a few close friends who understand me and give me gentle encouragement to keep going, and I am forever grateful not only for that support but also for my faith in God.

Depression is a multi-layered beast and I wish I could understand it more so I could deal with it better when it creeps up on me. Along with the things I’ve mentioned above there is a huge amount of guilt that goes with it too. I know my family and friends hurt when I’m in the depths of it, which although I’m aware of I am powerless to do anything about. As with anything, when you’re loved ones are hurting you hurt too, but when you are the cause of that hurt then the guilt trip is massive.

I feel guilty about the waste too. Waste of time (spent lying shaking in bed, sat deciding whether a shower is worth the effort or not, looking out of the window at nothing); waste of sunshine that could be enjoyed in the garden – if only it wasn’t outside; waste of opportunities to have fun with the kids, which ironically would be a massive step to recovery from the darkness; waste of opportunity to reach out to other people to help them through their difficulties; waste of just so much.

I can tell when I’m at that certain stage of depression because I mourn the sunshine and celebrate cloud and rain, and it happens more often than I’m happy to admit.

Even when I’m not in the depths of depression I find myself riddled with anxieties. Totally riddled. I get anxious even when there’s nothing to be anxious about….because I’m worried that I’ve forgotten something that I should be worrying about and I get anxious about things popping up to surprise me. Which makes me scared. You can see how one thing feeds another? I wish I could break that cycle.

I can’t get my head around why I’m like this and I would love someone to live as me for a day or so to see if they could give me some insight as to why everything is a source of stress, anxiety, worry, fear and ultimately depression.

It recently dawned on me that to live my life the way I do, filled to the brim with worry and anxiety, is a demonstration of lack of faith in God. Which, guess what, has put my on yet another guilt trip. I thought that if I am truly faithful, which I profess I am, then I should be able to turn my life over to God and to just relax, let him take it and leave me to just live my life without the miniscule anxieties that define me.

I would love someone to come and help me with it because the fine line between “living” and “getting through life” sometimes gets so fine it disappears altogether. I would love it if someone could come and taste my life from the inside of me, step outside again and then say “Look Pam, it’s not worth the energy to worry about it, just let it go because you’re losing your focus on what matters and you are missing out on so much”. People have told me that already but again, my anxieties take over about their motivations – “why did he say that?” “Why does she think I’m not good enough for that?” “Why don’t they recognise my talents in this??” etc, etc.

Having written what I just did, I’m rethinking the question again now and I think I would like to swap places with someone who is confident and who doesn’t let their anxieties dictate their life and I’d like to see how they deal with them. I know that everyone has anxieties and stresses, but not everyone deals with them in the same way and I would love to learn from someone who can manage theirs successfully and maybe adopt some of their techniques and thought processes.

The issues around my faith are something else – a brand new anxiety for me! – and that needs a little bit of thinking about yet before I tackle that one. Perhaps if I can sort that bit out then the rest would fall into place?

Perhaps I could do a “Freaky Friday” with someone who could short-cut my thinking and just help me solve it overnight. Please!


21 Years of Learning

21 Years of Learning

This is part two to the post I started yesterday and as promised here’s my top twelve tips about being married and how to get along as part of as a married couple.

I must point out that I am by no means the authority on this subject, but I have made some of the classic errors that most people face at some time or another, and I have made a few more on top of that as well, so I feel I am in a position to share a little bit about what I know in the hope that it might help someone else in the future. Obviously other people will have their own thoughts too and I’m really keen to know what your thoughts are on my list. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have any tips you’d like to share and add to my list? Let me know your thoughts!

1. Learn when to shut up.  Sound defeatist? Not at all. Sometimes you just need to let go of whatever it is and let your partner have their way or their say. You may well be in the right but sometimes, keeping your trap shut is the best way to clear the air, heal disagreements etc, and move on.  Your partner might just be wanting to let of steam or vent some anger and not necessarily be looking for you to give advice or a solution to something so learning when to not speak is a valuable lesson to learn.

2. Pick your arguments. Some things are just not worth falling out over so be wise about what you argue about. You will only let bad feeling and discontent fester inside you and inside your marriage if you insist on thrashing out every single point where you differ. Like number 1, learn to let some things go. Not everything is worth arguing over anyway so choose wisely what you do argue about.

3. Your Wedding Day is totally different from Married Life.  Yes your big day is an important event but it is only the first day of a very long and sometimes rocky road. Don’t lose sight of what the day is all about by investing everything you have into having the “perfect” experience on the Big Day without much thought about the life afterwards. You are only setting yourself up for failure if you put your all into the day and nothing in to the days after it.

4. The grass is not always greener…  Well, it might appear to be but trust me it’s not. It’s still grass. It still needs mowing. It gets bare patches and is full of weeds, but it is still grass and it is not yours. Stay at home and invest in looking after your own grass.

5. Wait, wait, wait. Don’t react immediately to everything. Take your time. If he annoys you with something he says, or can’t see your point of view, or leaves his shoes where you can fall over them (again), or refuses to see your point of view just give it time. Don’t blow up straight away. You’ll be forever living a life on the edge of a row if you pick up on every single thing that annoys you. Chill out and wait.

6. Share your yoke. You are a team so share things. Share the happiness, share the troubles, share the doubts, share the work. If you think of life as a field that needs to be ploughed, sown and harvested, then think of yourselves as a team of oxen that are yoked together to get the job done. You might not be equal in strength, but together you are invincible.

7. Ebb and flow. There is a natural ebb and flow to your relationship and there will be spells where you feel so wrapped up in each other you exclude the outside world, and there will be spells where you can’t stand the sight of each other. You might feel like ships in the night where you don’t share a decent conversation for days on end and you are just two individuals sharing the same living space.

It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s healthy. Don’t panic!!

You cannot possibly live a life of intensity and passion so make the most of each end of the spectrum and be patient for the wheel to turn again.

8. Compromise. You might want to have yellow wallpaper, he might want to have blue. He might want a leather settee, you might want a fabric one. Don’t argue about it, find an alternative that you both like. Same with holidays, choice of car, choice of food, games to play with the kids…..the list is absolutely endless but compromise is the key. If you can’t find an alternative where you both agree, is there really any harm if he wants a particular car that you don’t? Or if the couch you sit on isn’t exactly to your liking?? If you compromise by letting him have his way now and again the same compliment will be paid back to you. If it can’t then one of you will always be harbouring resentment and it will only fester. Compromise is the middle ground and is totally different from always giving into what your partner wants.

9. Say “sorry”. Very, very difficult to do and to mean it, but vital. If you are in the wrong or you’ve done or said something to hurt your partner, or you’ve made a mistake or a wrong decision about something, be big enough and adult enough to apologise to them. You might well feel foolish or small, or vulnerable and weak,  but this is your spouse you’re apologising to here and they deserve it.  On the flip side, allow your partner to say sorry to you in return. Don’t use it as a point scoring exercise. Accept their apology, forgive them and move on.

10. Say “Thank You”. We teach our kids to say please and thank you but we don’t often do it as an adult. Appreciate the things your partner does and thank them when they put themselves out for you. Big or small, whatever they do, say thank you and mean it.

11. Laugh. Learn to find the humour in the situation, even in the bad times, and laugh together. OK so you might not both like the same comedy show on TV, but finding the funny side of life can save you a lot of heartache and soul-searching in the long run.

12. It’s not all hearts and flowers. In fact, it’s bloody hard work!! Things will go wrong, disasters happen, money or health troubles can dominate your life. Kids come along and pressure is put on you to take on a whole new skill set that you never imagined was possible. Learning to compromise – on EVERYTHING – is a massive hurdle. After all, you’re an adult aren’t you? Free to make your own choices? Live life the way you want to?? But being married means that you are one half of a pair, and it’s not all about you any more.

Well that’s my top 12 tips and it is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s the advice I would like to pass on.  I think it could be summed up with a few key words really:

  • Give
  • Forgive
  • Love
  • Laugh
  • Appreciate

Let me know what you’d add to the list and what you would take off. I’m interested to see how other married couples see their life together and what you would advise anybody contemplating married life in the future.





How To Keep Positive

How To Keep Positive

When you have a long term illness or health condition, from time to time it can become difficult to stay positive. When your positive thinking starts to wear off it can quickly become a problem and it gets harder and harder to get yourself back on track again.

Let me share with you a couple of the things that have kept me going over the last couple of years. Maybe it will help you, or someone you know who is having difficulties:

Be Happy – this sounds really simple, but it’s a trick that I have had to learn. Even when you don’t feel particularly happy, just try. Pretend if you have to! If you put the effort into trying to be happy then there isn’t as much room for misery to set in.

Be Grateful – like the old saying goes, “count your blessings”. By focusing on the things in life that are a blessing will help you realise that it’s not as bad as it feels. Like the happiness point above, it takes effort but it does pay dividends if you can manage it. I am grateful and consider myself blessed to have the supportive family that I have…and I am also very grateful for my big comfy bed. Whatever it is, recognise it and count it for yourself.

Help Someone Else – even though you might not feel like it try extending your hand in friendship or assistance to someone else. It might be your neighbour, a family member, a stranger who needs you for something. Just do it. By helping someone else you are helping yourself in two ways – you are taking the focus off your own problems and you will naturally feel better for being useful to someone.

Exercise – now before you laugh and say “I can’t go jogging!!!” just something simple like bending and stretching is physical activity enough to occupy your body and therefore taking the focus away from negative thinking. It takes an effort, especially if you are in pain, but it is definitely worth it. Take it from me! Why not have a short stroll round the block? Tidy out a cupboard? Or go to the shops? There’s nothing to say you can’t have a treat when you get there!

It’s Only Temporary – just remember that whatever you are experiencing, whether it is good times or bad, poor health or good, loneliness or overcrowding it will pass in time. Nothing lasts forever. If you have tried the suggestions above and they haven’t worked, it is worth keeping in mind that as bad as it feels right now this minute, it will change. Change is part of life and life is in a constant state of flux so if you can’t overcome the negativity right away, don’t worry, it will evolve in its own good time.

There are lots of other things you can do to stay positive, and everybody is different so what works for one person might not work for another. All I can say is that these things are some of the things that have worked for me and I hope they work for you too.