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Hope in the Storms

As I write this blog, the sun is shining and considering it’s the end of December, I took a quick stroll in the garden and it was pleasantly warm. I have been blessed with having a whole week off from work without using any annual leave. Yes, you heard that right (still pinching myself). The employer closed its doors to all employees for the whole of the Christmas break and after being a teacher and working for the NHS, I had to ask three times just to make sure. I mean, I’ve hardly had time off during the Christmas break unless it was a couple of days annual leave and don’t even get me started with those teacher years when guilt use to make me mark mock exam papers for years 10 and 11!

This period of recharge has enabled me to gain a decent sleep pattern and actually cook fresh food, to spend time with the kids, to lose badly in Mario Cart. Our resident kitty did a double take that the stranger who grumbles whilst in yoga pants and a thick hooded fleece as they rush back into a Teams call, actually tickled the old geezer behind the ears and rubbed his freely offered tummy. I’m sure he’ll have a meltdown next week.

As I reflect on 2022 with this blog post I’ll admit that it has thus far been one of the more challenging years – from the health related emergencies linked to my mum and myself at the beginning of the year, the cost of living crisis and its impact on my net income, a very challenging change to a new job role. All of them seemingly coming one after another, one could be forgiven into thinking that this is never ending. In some respects, when facing challenges we tend not to have an opportunity to get all philosophical about it and it is always when we reached the other side of ‘drama’ that we can view the lesson learnt. This is perhaps where I am as 2022 draws to a close.

Image by Joe from Pixabay

If there is one main thing that has been cemented this year and the past few years, well, actually life – lets say life – it is where I place my hope. Like a student sometimes I have to go over a task an innumerate amount of times before I fully apply and understand a concept. It just so happens that the Lord – being the Rabboni or teacher that He is – has been patiently teaching me to put my hope in Him. Not in job satisfaction, not in family members or friends or people, not even in chocolate and Prosecco. But in Him. And the brilliant thing I was reminded of this year is that He is just a call away, as in just calling on His Name when the proverbial organic waste hits the fan.

One wise bit of advice that I offer you – don’t be like me! Don’t swim in the muck of life and then think “Oh Yeah! I can call on the Lord”. Be more like my kids. When trouble hits them, I hear them quietly praying to Him who provides. Maybe I’m old in the tooth and old habits die hard (the meme of Elmo raising his hands surrounded by fire reminds me of the point that I usually call on His Name), but I have learnt this year to not wait until I feel chest pains and heart palpitations before I call out to Him but to literally offload while stuff is happening.

What I have found this year, has been that immediate answer to prayer, a peace, a Shalom, a wholeness which envelopes your very core and smothers out those flames of fear and anxiety. It’s taken yet another year but I feel so much peace as we enter into 2023 knowing that although it is going to be a tougher year, I know that I will still stand.

As I began to write this blog post, I wonder on what Bible verse would come to mind as I reflected on the highs and lows of the past year and it was Psalm 42, verse 11 which states:

Why my soul are you downcast. Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.

Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

May those who read this post have a blessed New Year, may you be filled with the Lord’s peace which surpasses all understanding and may you be filled with His hope to endure whatever gets thrown at you.

P.S. ….don’t be an Elmo meme

The Heron and the Crows

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

My presence online has taken a very big dip over the past two months and a consequence of circumstances offline was that any motivation of things I use to enjoy doing ceased. Whether that was doing a bit of creative writing, my hobbies etc, it was weird to observe that I had withdrawn into a shell of isolation. And the reason? Starting a new job where I very much felt as though I had been hitting a social brick wall. It’s been well over 20+ years since I’ve been in an environment where I felt this way and so when I was then plunged into it I of course gas-lit myself, chastising myself that it was me, that I was missing something. The reality was quite different looking back. In other contracts, you would have what is referred to as an on-boarding experience – being introduced to your new team, introduced to any new software that you will be using, new logins, how HR worked in terms of booking annual leave etc. All I am prepared to say in this blog is that my experience in this current contract was not entirely that. Partly yes, but not entirely – and it had mentally exhausted me.

It left me mentally drained and tearful by the Monday of last week and as I began the previous work week, I recalled quietly staring out of my kitchen window and whispering “Jesus, help me”.

You see I’m very much a ‘crack on and get on with it’ kind of person and so was without ideas when I witnessed personalities who would deliberately and strategically try to sabotage one’s ability to work. For me it reminded me of a Britain from the 80s and 90s so to be witnessing and experiencing it right here in 2022, was completely foreign to me and I was out of ideas as to how to ‘fix it’

Except it wasn’t for me to fix (a duh moment, I know) – and it took a rainy gloomy Monday morning for a symbolic representation of this fact to be presented to me.

God communicates with his creation in a number of ways with obviously, the primary way being through his Word. Whether it is a verse that comes to mind similar to the beginning of this post, any Biblical accounts similar to one’s experience, He will remind you. Another way is from examples around us and in very rare cases, He will remind me through circumstances via movies, programmes etc. Last Monday it was a Heron or should I say – The Heron. Within the vicinity of where I live we have at least 3 different reservoirs and a plethora of wild bird life. Since I’ve introduced goldfish to my pond, a visitor would intrude into my garden to ‘kill, steal and destroy’ any unsuspecting fish. The heron is now quite mature, comes at any point in the day to the degree that the fish are petrified. That day, when I was so discouraged I looked up towards some trees beyond my garden and there he perched, untouchable, proud and unreachable – waiting for an opportunity to enter my garden and steal more fish. I looked on helpless and frustrated, until out of nowhere, a lone crow flew towards him. The heron was easily 3 times the size of this crow and initially was not threatened by the approaching bird but clearly noted its approach. The crow flew at speed and unrelenting, almost appearing as though it was on a collision course for the larger heron. Both myself and the heron were convinced that an impact was imminent but at the last minute, just as the heron dipped his head to avoid the crow, it swerved upwards to arc round and repeat the approach again. I watched as the crow repeated the swerve again and again with the heron dipping its head to avoid each attack. Another crow now joined the attack and together they took turns approaching the heron at speed and causing it to dip to avoid a collision. The frequency of both crows’ attack was sufficient to eventually force the heron to abandon its quick goldfish snack and to fly away.

Image by 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay

What came to mind to me was that indirectly we can view a situation which on the face of it, appears to seem inevitable that something bad is going to take place that we have no control over to stop. This was represented by the heron perched on the highest tree branch – unreachable with me knowing that he is going to swoop down and snatch another goldfish away and there was nothing I could do to prevent him. But just as we feel so hopeless or accepting of the circumstance, an unexpected help will always come from the Lord. This was represented by the crows suddenly appearing to attack the heron. Without any action on my part to engage or intercept the heron, something else had seen him off from such a lofty position.

This realisation enabled me to focus and direct my prayer and more specifically to seek the Lord for guidance as to how I should deal with the situation at work for the coming week. The end result was that I actually didn’t need to “do” anything but to just be myself and let the light of Christ shine towards my work colleagues. Whilst I had no control over whatever my colleagues thought/ did, I know of One who is all knowing and who could influence change.

Needless to say this past week was arguably the first week where I felt more at peace, that my Shalom had not been stolen by outside forces and I could be back to prayerfully “crack on and get on with it”.

What is My Purpose?

I have been very thankful as of late in terms of overcoming the challenges that 2022 had thrown at me earlier in the year and particularly last week when I truly was able to ‘catch my breath’, being able to pause and stop to enjoy the things around me.

Lady looking out over a mountain range, thinking
What is my purpose?

So it came as some surprise when towards the end of last week, culminating on Monday (which was a Bank Holiday in the UK), I woke up a little perturbed. As I sat up in bed, I reflected on what in actual fact am I doing with my life. Procrastination had now become my middle name, in fact, if you were to look up that word in the Oxford dictionary, you would see me. Well you wouldn’t really…. but well you know what I mean! I had slid back into a little nasty habit of comparing myself to others which typically sends me into a spiralled sense of not bothering to do anything since there wasn’t much point. Now that Mum had stabilised and was more stronger, I could not longer use the ‘excuse’ that after working a 5 day week, I had neither the energy nor time to devote any time to anything else (including this blog). And yet there I was lamenting on the fact that I hadn’t devoted any more time to anything else.

So last week, I was sat at my work’s laptop having completed a meeting, I muted my mic and switched off my camera. It was just me and God. Whilst here I quietly asked Him, why am I here? Now I hasten to add, it wasn’t a doom and gloom, “why am I here” but more of a “what is my purpose because I seem to have forgotten” kind of question.

An overwhelming flood of love washed over me (which I’ve not felt in a long time) and I was quite taken aback by its strength. Immediately afterwards I was reminded of the things I had done thus far last week which pointed to my purpose – the Executive PA who was stressed out/close to tears, that I quietly listened to and helped so that she could set up her Teams meeting for her Director, the laughter and time spent with my kids and the group hugs, the singing in the car when I thought no one was looking (to the amusement of a passing driver who was looking), the 63 year old administrator tasked with building her department’s web pages again close to tears but who nonetheless was able to build her web pages while on a call with me. Essentially I was reminded of all the times I had just done – what I perceived to be – just normal day to day things. But looking back what I saw instead was the ‘thank you’ emails, the remarks thanking me for being that listening ear, the smiles. I hadn’t noticed them in the moment but looking back I realised the impact I had on those individuals in just that one week.

I had read somewhere that what we believe about ourselves will have a massive impact on how we live out our purpose. If a person doesn’t think much of themselves or loses sight of who they are, they run the risk of grinding to a halt, slipping into a sense of apathy. One of the Bible verses for Monday was taken from Ephesians 2 verse 10 which says:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


Now the Greek word for ‘workmanship’ or ‘handiwork’ is Poiema and I hadn’t realised this but it is where we get the word ‘poem’ from. In the context of the verse above it means we have been made by God himself. It’s who we are and beautifully crafted we are too. To dig a bit deeper (this was me on Monday) – whenever I see the beautiful creations that writers do when they compose poems, it struck me how intricate and beautiful we are.

But the answer to my original question followed – my purpose in Christ was to do good works. Simples! Especially when it was in front of me in black and white, but yet I hadn’t immediately seen it in myself. Now, this is not a green light for me to purposefully run outside and help that little old lady across the busy main road to gain brownie points somehow. But quite literally to just keep doing me – the things that I hadn’t considered to be important but which had impacted on those around me and was important to them. I was never meant to start that remote missionary somewhere in a deepest darkest Amazon jungle, I just needed to continue to make a difference in my home and workplace.

That was what God had prepared me in advance to do.

So the next time you pick up that kid’s scarf from the ground and place it on a garden fence for that Mum on a school run to see, that quiet nod of good morning to the bus passenger on the No 55, the word of encouragement to a stranger not realising just how crappy their day had been – you know those tiny acts of kindness that we don’t think about when we do it? Keep doing those things.

That’s part of our purpose while we walk on this earth.

It’ll be OK…

I am not going to lie – I haven’t really enjoyed 2021 compared to me reflecting previous years. It has been so easy for me to dwell on the challenges instead of the positives and the meme below pretty much sums me up though in terms of my sick sense of humour:

In the build up to the end of 2021 a family member suffered a stroke and was hospitalised which inspired my very wise daughter’s advice . Even earlier than that it was the death of Coco.

So as I approached the end of the year I resolved that I was only going to reflect on being thankful for all the good things as we slid into 2022. However the issues of life are trying their damnedest to provide me with copious examples of the opposite – right up until the end.

Last week I was on annual leave and I thought to myself that I could get cracking again with writing and also updating the blog. My sister rang me to ask whether I could take my mother to the doctors. We had all been concerned with how she seemed to look as though she was deteriorating quite quickly in such a short matter of weeks. Mum has stage 1 heart failure which is managed with medication. In the surgery the doctor looked worried as he checked my mother’s ECG and blood pressure. He quietly indicated to me that he will need to send her into hospital, that same day and he subsequently broke the news to my mother.

This was the first time I saw a vulnerable human being in the doctor’s surgery and not the firecracker matriarch that I was used to seeing.

I took mum to hospital but was not allowed to remain with her, to reassure her and to let her know that everything will be ok. With this piggin’ ‘New Normal’ – I had to leave her and let my NHS colleagues do the very thing they’re absolutely brilliant at – to keep her alive. Mum and I exchanged looks which basically said that we were not sure whether this was going to be the last time we were going to see each other and I cannot honestly remember the journey home.

Now before I continue let me share with you a dream I had towards the end of November. I have a bit of a ‘deal’ with the Lord. Whenever the ‘curve balls of life’ are thrown at me – like the mega, super duper, “Oh heck!” kind of curve balls – I tend to receive a dream to prepare me and enable me to knuckle down and take the hit. This has resulted in me not having a complete mental breakdown. The dreams would always include either a black tornado which represented bad sometimes immensely stressful but manageable warnings, or tsunamis which are linked to life threatening circumstances like when my son nearly died. Their size and where or what I was doing would determine how I should then cope when an incident arose in real life. Towards the end of November I dreamt of a mega black tornado which hit land fall on the horizon of the old family home where we lived in when I was a kid. The dream had Coco who needed to be let out just at the point when we had to seek shelter in the house. When I felt anxiety for the fact that I wanted Coco to be back in safely, I remember her running back into the house unscathed with a male voice saying “it’ll be ok”.

So I had initially thought the dream referred to my cousin’s stroke along with the stresses of deadlines at work both falling around the same time. But the reality could well be the combination of a range of curve balls coming all at once or close together. Or it could have been meant for the uncertainty of whether we were going to lose our mother as we go into 2022.

For all of these curve balls the one main thing that keeps me going is the promise that I will get through this and that I am not dealing with this on my own. It is this main thing that I am thankful for and the one that gives me strength. Encouraging words from work colleagues other family members and close friends has helped me through this latest storm.

Yes, it will indeed be ok.

Twas the Night before Christmas

I know what you’re thinking. I should be writing this on Christmas Eve, having finished work for the week and in readiness for some downtime reading for my followers. Truthfully, 3 days after Christmas and this is the first day that I am alert enough to put pen to paper.

But I just had to share this – my son’s ingenious way to portray the Nativity for our household.

Christmas 2021 has been hectic and so much so that I hadn’t yet gotten round to putting up decorations by the middle of last week (yep, 3 days before Christmas day). Having 2 kids whose age gap was so large really hit home as a result. I had an adult child who really wasn’t that fussed as to whether we had time to put decorations up. I think she was more concerned with making sure this wasn’t added to my numerous to-do list. Then I had the younger one who at 10, still saw the magic of Christmas. To my shame I had been too busy with work and family affairs these past 4 to 6 weeks to actually make it special for him. So by Wednesday of last week he sullenly stood next to me while I was between webinars and stared at both my workstation and myself. As I turned to him, I realised that I had dropped the ball again – everyone else (work and wider family) had taken precedent over quality time with my boy. At this point he told me how he would have really liked it if there were decorations up in our house.

So, realising that I had another 4 hours of work that day, I gave him the nod and said, “Son, I hereby hand you the honourable mantle of decorating our abode. May it be a fantastical spectacle for all to see”. Obviously I didn’t really say that – more realistically it was “Go for it dude”. But his face lit up and he ran out of my ‘office’.

When work had finished I wearily walked down the stairs and was greeted with a very excited child. He grabbed me by the hand and gave me a tour of – I must say – the best decor that has ever graced my house. Tinsel was everywhere including our robotic Frosty the Snowman who now resembled Cousin Itt from the Adam’s Family. Our banister was covered with tinsel and in a nut shell every place that a 10 year could reach had been decorated. I was literally overjoyed.

But he had left the best until last.

There had been, each year, a long debate about our nativity scene. Each year I would put it up and by day 2, a reptile from the Cretaceous period would pay homage to baby Jesus in the manger . And I would never notice until days later.

Not to be outdone this year my interior designer not only had a T-Rex but also had succeeded in re-writing the 4 books of the Gospel. Not only had a T-Rex managed to find Bethlehem but he brought his mate, Indominus Rex with him and allowed Owen from Jurassic World to hitch a ride on his back.

Of course this caused a chain reaction to the big day. One of the Magi bottled after arriving to find the T-Rex and Owen had taken his prime slot by the manger. In protest, he turned his back on Jesus and became an apostate

The shepherds were made redundant after missing their deadline for receiving 2 jabs and they were promptly replaced by Iron man, War-machine, a Lego guy (my son did tell me but his name escapes me right now), then some policemen from the local station said they’d help out. Someone’s dog realised that the sheep were working to rule with the shepherds being sacked and so he decided to represent the sheep.

The Angel Gabriel wanted to wear his Spiderman suit for Christmas and so because we were in our second year of the pandemic, God let him. Gabriel was so chuffed, that he told the rest of his mates that they too could dress up and so they came as Ninjago, Indiana Jones, a Copper (his words), a Lego Construction worker (he didn’t want to dress up), one angel who only wanted the helmet of a Storm Trooper and then one totally outdid himself by finding that his Carnage costume still fitted him after working from home for over a year.

So after explaining what was going on with the Nativity scene, my son slowly exhaled, smiled and looked at me asking, “What do you think, Mum?”

I was so impressed, that I turned round and promptly said, “You’re Hired!”

The Finer Details

Ever had one of those moments when you realise that you have a bit of a stubborn old head?

Well, these past couple of days has been a humbling learning experience for me as a believer. The only way that I can liken it to is the latter stages of the Mel Gibson movie ‘Signs’. For those who haven’t seen it, towards the end of the movie we see the main character come to the realisation that as a result of the finer details of his family’s habits things ultimately happen for a reason and for their better good.

Now, you may be wondering why this warrants a blog entry from yours truly? Well because I am hard headed and it took a 3 hour journey and the stress planning it to turn my heart from a heart of stone to one willing to learn how to be thankful.

But… I’m getting ahead of myself so let me start at the beginning.

Since the summer of this year I had accepted to attend a family member’s wedding. Initially I was so happy to know that I could be part of their experience. But over time and as the big day approached, tiny things began to niggle. I’d begun to focus however on the wrong areas of this beautiful day. For example, it was – in essence – nearly 200 miles away from where we lived and a 3.5 hour drive. Whilst I love driving, I was faced with having to plan this out, to take the family, as well as making sure that the last elderly kitty dude (the Resident Kitty) was looked after in our absence. On the face of this, it should have been an easy thing to plan but for ‘overthinking’ me this was straight out of the pit of hell.

And so I did what any post-menopausal woman my age would do – I grumbled, and grumbled. Ruminated a good little while and grumbled some more. Admittedly it was to myself, if it was any consolation, but it pulled me down emotionally. If it wasn’t the time in the year for the wedding (October = high winds and rain) it was the distance, if it wasn’t the distance it was the logistics of who will feed the cat, if it wasn’t the cat it was how will I get down there in my tin can of a car (not much bigger than a Fiat 500). To pile on top of the overthinking it was the itinerary changing every once and a while, which added to me grumbling even more. At the beginning of last week I began to check the weather and saw that the UK was going to have torrential rain over the days of me travelling down and on the day of the wedding. More grumbling. After spending close to £600 to just get us to the wedding venue, I could not even contemplate pulling out as two other family members could also unavoidably not make it.

Those of you who are reading this and who are believers would probably at this stage be thinking, “but she took this to the Lord right?” But no, I didn’t and I feel that God needed for me to learn from this in a profound way. Which He did using the tiniest finest details.

At the last minute, I could feel my anxiety getting the better of me and so at that late stage (finally!) I asked the Lord to intervene and take control. I wasn’t sure how but I needed to let go as I had reached saturation point. By Wednesday, my oldest volunteered out of the blue, to stay back and look after the cat. In hindsight I’d since realised that this was a ‘win-win’ situation for my adult child as she had the whole house to herself. But it took away the stress of relying on a family member who may or may not have remembered to stop by and feed our cat. The day we were travelling I checked the weather one last time and saw that for the days when we would be travelling around, the southern coast had no rain. We even had sun! Hurray! There was no traffic on the roads driving down, and the car made it without any issues (a miracle in itself!). The logistics on the day of the wedding had changed but it had changed for the better – gone was an hour long drive there and back on unfamiliar country roads post evening meal. Instead, all the women & children were escorted by other family members so that we were not travelling on our own.

So, again, those of you reading this would probably be thinking, “Brilliant, so she has finally seen that the Lord’s hand is and has been on the situation this whole time.” But no (I’m facepalming as I write this) the penny only dropped in a ‘Signs’ movie kind of way when I noticed driving through some of the country roads some flood warning road signs. As I also checked in, the hotel receptionist remarked about how we appeared to have brought the weather down from ‘up north’. She went on to explain that up until Thursday, the city had been bombarded with torrential rain but now it had gone. Roads had been flooded and closed but they were now clear.

The day after the wedding and on my last day before driving back home, I took a long walk along the beach taking in the peaceful ebb and flow of the gentle waves when I felt a nudge in my heart about the way in which I had coped with the situation. I had a ‘smack on the wrist’ kind of moment as I had not dealt with the whole affair in the correct way. And in my quiet walk with the Lord, I repented and finally thanked Him for taking care of me and my family.

I realised that all through the process, God had taken care of the finer details. He’d caused a dry couple of days so that the drive could be done safely, my family’s safety was catered for with the itinerary changes. So with all these things taken care of, I really didn’t need to ‘grumble’ at all. I just needed to approach this with a trusting, thankful heart.

I’m glad that I was able to be humbled by this experience and to correct the way in which I had habitually dealt with challenging situations. I’ll conclude with the following quote by William Penn which states:

“The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their trouble.”

William Penn

She’s Gone…

I woke up this morning with a worship song in my heart, thankful for a new day and having such a beautiful full sleep. I was looking to do a quick bike ride prior to church, did a little Bible study and then moved onto a contribution on Social Media. I contribute to a daily VSS (Very Short Story) prompt on Twitter and was right in the middle of creating my mini story for the day when I just burst into tears, just like that.

It’s now been two days since Coco hadn’t returned home. My son had grieved so heavily last night. It hit home to him that the kitty matriarch was gone and he sobbed so hard. It was gut wrenching to watch a child drench your clothes with their tears of sorrow and yet for me last night, I held it together while covering him with kisses. By midnight I heard his breathing had gone into deep sleep so I settled down.

Coco was 15 – in cats years she was approximately 76 to 77 years of age. She was a bit of an old bird and was the boss of our home. The pecking order saw her directly below me with occasions – especially when it came to turkey and tuna – when she was the alpha. She was never fully domesticated and was at her happiest when she was outside. She seemed to sense when I would be mentally struggling and force (literally) her love onto me, in the form of forcing me to pet her or doing completely goofy things enabling a laughter from me, to bringing me so many carcasses – I still recall my horror and admiration when she brought back 6 baby rats after raiding a nearby nest. When the vet told me back in May that she had an aggressive form of feline oral cancer, my blood pressure skyrocketed and my heart physically ached, as I realised that the inevitable was closer than I would have liked. We’d lost Knuckles a year before. The vet had given me pain relief (edited to add: for Coco) enough for two months – I think he knew. When I brought Coco home, I sat with her in the kitchen, prayed for her and then after a moment of silence confessed to both God and her how I didn’t think I was ready to say goodbye just yet. But I didn’t cry. My heart ached but I didn’t cry.

As the days turned into weeks I saw the tumour grow at the side of her mouth and prepared myself for one final trip to the vets with her. The vet had mentioned that as soon as she stopped eating and/or she looked in significant distress as a result of the pain, that would be when it would be time. Until then she would be happier at home. Each time when I thought it was time to make the call, it was as though she could sense that she may be taken to the vets – she would muster all the strength she could get so that she could show that she was strong enough to carry on.

On Thursday 5th August Coco arrived by the kitchen door but her countenance had changed. She was more unstable on her feet and she refused to eat. I gently petted her, gave her her favourite turkey pieces soaked with the medication and normally she would wolf this down, but that day she sniffed at the food but then came to me for some love. As I gazed into her eyes I sensed that she was saying goodbye. She didn’t look distressed but likewise, she had made up her mind it was time but it was going to be on her terms. Mentally I wanted to deny it and began to pray that the Lord gave me more time. But instead I prayed to the Lord that in His sovereign wisdom He would know when it became too much for Coco. I asked God to end her suffering and to grant me the strength to make the trip to the vet.

As soon as I had silently prayed this prayer Coco pushed her head into my hand – an act she always use to do when I was in distress. A peace came over me as our eyes met one last time, and I was able to tell her that I was ready and it was indeed time. She stayed long enough to shower me with love and then she decisively walked to the door and pointedly stared at it. Her way of saying “let me out” whenever she was ready to go into the garden. I opened the door, she paused to give me a slow blink and then she walked outside.

I know we should not attribute human emotions to our pets but she was such a kick-ass cat that if there was some orchestral movie epic music it would have been playing then. She walked to each of her favourite spots, seemingly taking in the memories there. When she reached the bottom of the garden, she walked through the gap in the fence and then she was gone.

Later that day she didn’t return for lunch, didn’t turn up in the evening. Through the rain on Friday, I stood at the bottom of the garden calling for her but the familiar ‘meows’ a few gardens away and gradually getting louder as she approached , was not forthcoming. Yesterday I knew that she was gone.

I’m not sure whether she went into a hiding place to pass away, whether a fox got her or whether a neighbour trapped her, to take her to a vets. Truthfully, I had to stop myself from entertaining those and other possibilities and tying myself into knots about the fact that I didn’t keep her inside that day to take her to the vets.

Coco 2006 – 2021

Ultimately, like the boss that she is, she chose her own way and have left me with so many happy memories of the full life she had as being part of our family. She also made a point to say goodbye to the one person who would have spiralled down into a ‘valley low’ if I had to take her to be put to sleep.

I will be forever indebted to my sweet little kitty BFF who walked with me through some serious dark times and who had such an impact on her humans’ lives. She was the gentlest of souls and yet a velociraptor if she felt we were in danger She will forever hold a special place in my heart and that of my kids.

May she rest in creation until it is renewed.

Hello, It’s Me, Migraine

I guess a lot of us in the UK celebrated ‘Freedom Day‘ by heading outside doing things which we have been prevented from doing since Covid began last year. Except for yours truly of course. Instead, after a night of profuse tossing and turning I woke up realising that I had the first migraine in a while and was this a humdinger.

During my peri-menopausal years I had a guaranteed monthly occurrence of migraines having never had them when I was younger. It took numerous visits to the GP before it was officially recognised as just that – a migraine – and I had pretty much managed it with over the counter migraine relief. There was one caveat though – if I caught the migraine while I was awake I didn’t have any issues at all except the feeling of being in a different solar system due to the strength of the pain relief. But if it came on in the night, I would kiss goodbye the ability to carry out my duties as a normal human being. When I passed the menopause threshold of 50, they began to reduce significantly as my oestrogen levels bid their farewells as well and I very much didn’t miss them.

So who told this particular migraine to visit on one of the hottest days of this year?

Yesterday during a fitful sleep I vaguely recalled feeling pain sufficient to bring me out of deep sleep but I ignored it as it was a Sunday night and I regretfully thought I had to force myself to sleep due to work on the Monday. By the time my alarm went off at 6am the migraine literally slapped me awake! I stumbled out of bed and staggered downstairs to the kitchen. Once there I fumbled to get the medicine box from the upper most shelf in the kitchen cupboard – it occurred to me at that moment that my son was 10 and so was not about to overdose on out of date plasters and paracetamol. After being attacked by an avalanche of medically related boxes (never did get round to placing them in the box), I finally found the migraleve and popped the pink pills with a full glass of water.

It struck me an hour later that the migraine possibly started a good 4 to 6 hours prior to me getting up as my stomach began its telltale cramping which occurs towards the end of a migraine episode along with what I call the ‘munchies’. During a daytime episode, I would be 4 hours into the migraine when – in spite of eating normally – my stomach would feel immensely empty to the degree that no amount of eating would alleviate the sensation. Hence the term, “the munchies”. If I ignored this sensation, I would be rewarded with the mother of all stomach cramps. However at 7am with a tight school run to do, I ignored the warning signs and attempted to get by with another glass of water and a bio-yogurt drink.


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

By the time I had made it to the car with my son, I was in the full throngs of unbelievable stomach pain. Sweating profusely, I pigheadedly drove my son to school and made the 14 mile round trip back home. Back on the drive, I was making my peace with God, trying to remember where I had placed my stupid Will, but somehow managed to get myself back inside just in time to chuck the two glasses of water, bio-yogurt and migraine tablets into the toilet bowl.

About 20 minutes later my older daughter saw me sat on the landing like a wet lettuce and I must have looked really bad because she genuinely looked worried and did not retort with some kind of banter that she normally would. Instead there was a degree of role reversal – she gently and quietly rubbed my back, dried my sweaty forehead and comforted me until I was strong enough to get up. She then forced me to drink some water before helping me back into my bedroom which had a fan blasting and closed curtains. I rode out the rest of the migraine there until it subsided.

I have an idea of what brought on that migraine and in a small part the hot night did not help.

But the thought of me working for the NHS, hearing and witnessing the deep routed concern about ‘Freedom Day’ from the frontline workers who care deeply about their patients and the continuing rise of cases hitting the wards, had my brain working over time on what would have been the hottest night of the year.

A Rare Serious Post to Help Christians Like Myself

I thought it best to note down the stress and anxiety these past couple of months has given me in relation to the whole Covid affair. Both what it means to be a believer during this season as well as what is going on in the media.

Back in January my brother, his daughter (my niece), her boyfriend all got Covid. In my brother’s case it was somewhat worrying because we all fall into the higher risk category of being members of the BAME community (I so hate that category description but for the sake of time will use it here), and being over 50. I can thank God that everyone has recovered but my brother had a rough game with it – to the degree of not having to resort to going to hospital. He did get as far as having to call an ambulance at one stage which was quietly terrifying for us all.

After his family bubble had Covid, I’d heard that my sister’s youngest got Covid while working in London. My sister and brother in law are currently shielding during this lockdown and so again, to hear news of this virus reaching closer family members who are not normally going out to get exposed was disquieting. My nephew rode the illness ‘like a pro’ and has made a full recovery. I am currently in a bubble with my two kids and my mother who is 86 years of age. For a year now it has always been in the back of my mine to do everything that I can to ensure that my mother is kept safe as well as myself and the kids. My mental state has understandably had its ups and downs as a result

So, good old Boris – our esteemed Prime Minister – has been pushing ahead with the objective of getting the nation vaccinated in order for ‘things to get back to normal’.

Since news of the development of a vaccine came about toward the middle of last year, I had been quietly hopeful. But I admit this turned into scepticism when I noted the speed with which the solutions went to market, as well as being wary of some of the ingredients listed as being contained in some of the vaccines available. As a Christian one might assume that I would be very much against any form of vaccination, but in my case myself and my children have been fully vaccinated against all of the main worldwide infections and diseases. I think coming from a family of nurses greatly influenced that. So as any parent would do, I began to research and look into getting vaccinated versus playing ‘Russian Roulette’ and not.

On the one hand, my current employer was – shall we say – persuasive in their eagerness for all employees to get vaccinated. Back towards the end of February, only 49% of staff members had their first shot. When I had initially mentioned to my manager that I was still considering what to do I was met with a bit of a mini ‘push’ to make my decision sooner rather than later. I was pleased to see though that this hard sell drastically reduced and I was pretty much left to digest all avenues of thought before coming to my final decision.

I am also part of a social media group, the majority of which are turning out to be what might be referred to as “anti-vaxxers”. On a regular basis I’m witnessing information which is suppose to help us all make the right choice. What I am quickly seeing is the definition of ‘right choice’ is different to what I have found myself, my employers (the NHS) and my nursing family members.

Long story short, I have now had both shots of the AZ vaccine. My family members who are also NHS key workers have all had theirs. All of our outlook is one of ensuring that our family is kept safe. Let’s be clear, we can all still get Covid, however the severity with which it hits our bodies will be less fatal than before. But here is the corker – I cannot bring myself to be honest with this group.

Not saying anything about my decision has unfortunately been rooted in fear – fear that other believers in Christ will not view me with compassion, will not be sympathetic to my stance and ultimately will be hostile to me. I am sure that this is all unfounded but when I am around individuals who refer to vaccinated people as “Sheeples” and who share posts that are proven as factually incorrect or contradictory, I cannot help but think I will be judged.

The point of this short blog is to advise any believer who has chosen to have the vaccine to not fall into the trap that I did. Do not beat yourself up like I did. I do intend to answer anyone who asks me that I have indeed taken the vaccine without fear of rejection by them. In spite of the fact that I prayed to God, received in such a profound way an answer to the effect of going for it because ‘what man meant for evil, God turns for good’, at the end of the day, if you have extensively done your research and drawn the conclusion that you will have the vaccine then let no man condemn you.

Likewise if you have prayed to God, extensively done your research and concluded that you will not have the vaccine then let no society nor man condemn you either!

In closing, when I had to bring my fear of what others will think of me to the Lord, I was reminded of Luke 12:4 and 5 in the Bible where Jesus said:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him”

Luke 12:4-5 NIV

So long as I had brought my dilemma to God first and got His green light to proceed, I should not have allowed any energy towards fuelling my fears.

What Happens to the Assassin Cat, After Lockdown?

Am I the only one who is actually liking lock-down? I was thinking this the other day as myself, the kids and the cats have gotten into quite a nice little routine during the weekdays. I get up, get freshened up for work, don the official work outfit (the t-shirt, leggings and furry onesie with one scrunchy tying back my hair), and casually sneak downstairs so as to not disturb the kids. On entering the kitchen it’s the non rush of switching on the kettle for tea, and while the water’s boiling, prepare the cat food and let in the kitty family. In their case, I especially have noticed how they spend more time inside than outside, unless it’s a sunny winter day. And it was on one of these days that I wondered, “what are we going to do when lock-down is over?”

I have especially felt this after the satisfaction of setting up the office area, upstairs. I don’t actually want to return to the stresses of the daily school run, then driving at break-neck speed down side roads so as to avoid the rush hour traffic and end up at work just in time so that I can leave work at the end of the day and avoid the rush hour commute home. The only thing that my son misses about school is playtime, while my daughter is a self-confessed anti-social. For myself I have discovered that I get more exhausted mingling with individuals than I do corresponding with them face to face and so it is going to be quite an adjustment for me when we return to having to spend time in an office.

So when that time actually comes, it’s the cats who I feel will also be hit hard by this next change and especially now that I accept that I am officially a cat mum.

Coco, is showing her age now and she spends a lot of her time fast asleep in her ‘penthouse bed’ – a cardboard box filled with an old towel which envelopes around her when she settles in to sleep. Alternatively, when she gets the opportunity she bullies one of the kids – her victims – into giving way and allowing her to curl up on their lap to sleep there. It’s quite amusing to watch how the pecking order of this household means that as far as this cat is concerned, my kids do not have a say as to whether she can sit on their lap or not.


I do wonder sometimes how she will react when she is back to spending most of the work day outside until our return and in her old age I am considering the logistics of returning her back to being a house cat similar to how she was when she was a kitten and which, she vehemently hated .

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, the other resident kitty has been a real eye opener with all of us being at home. Vinny has always been the spoilt one – the one who was pampered but like his mum, he hated being indoors. We always thought that he would pass his day enjoying the rays, explore the nearby park and sunbathing on a neighbour’s garden furniture much to their consternation. But in actual fact he is a bit of an old mafia gangster type of cat, menacingly patrolling his territory and making sure that the younger Toms in the neighbourhood paid homage to him. We all witnessed an example of this a couple of weeks ago when we saw him walk slowly towards a new young Tom cat. The cat, and us humans thought he was approaching to have a chat about whether the cat had seen the sights yet, how cold the weather was and to give him the heads up about which times of the day to avoid the dog owned gardens but no! The old gangster walked up to the cat and without warning attacked. The poor young Tom cat was fine but so traumatised that he now literally sprints out of the garden if he hears our kitchen door open. After the incident, Vinny calmly returned inside and demanded we offer him belly rubs and lots of love. Every other cat that I have owned would have postulated in such an animated way so as to make it clear that their intention is to scare away any trespassers but Vinny’s mantra was clearly, “intercept and annihilate”.

Shoot to Kill Vinny

So yeah, I do wonder about how both animals will react when our country, ends lockdown and opens up to such a degree as to have the kids return to school and I return to work.

I sincerely hope it is not too soon.