Friday, 8 January 2016

New Beginnings

A very dear friend recently said goodbye to the blog for which she is known and loved.  A brave step, but the right thing for her.  We discussed this together, at length, in June and she stuck to her guns.  Seeing her 'take the plunge' prompted me to think about this, my own family lifestyle blog, which has been largely ignored for the last year. 
 
Whilst I adapted to life in a brand new area, away from the on-hand help of my parents, the small amount of child-free time I possess has been thinly spread.  Volunteering at both children's schools (a great way to settle into a new area and meet local people), keeping on top of all of the normal day to day running of our home, administrating the endless rounds of appointments and chasing professionals to ensure J1 has everything for his special needs and finally, planning, researching and writing the first draft of a novel. 

Blogging has become such a huge thing now, much more so than when I tentatively started out four or five years ago.  There are some absolutely amazing family life bloggers who have taken it much more seriously than I ever did, and flourished and reaped the rewards for the time and effort they put into making their blog work.  It is heartening to see. 
 
But a career was never why I started my blog.  Mine was born out of a pure need to get all my mixed up thoughts out of my head.  That coupled with a desire to write again.  After turning from a single mother with a busy full time job in London, to suddenly being a new wife and stay at home mother to my seven year old son with disabilities, and a new born, I found I was still constantly on the go, but had no one to talk to about it anymore.  When I stopped working all I could think about were the things I would not miss; the long, temperamental train commute; the cold, dark, early mornings and often late nights; sitting in an airless office with the sun shining outside; saying 'Yes, of course.' when what I really thought was 'Do it your bleeding self you lazy arse.'  I hadn't taken time to consider that as you grow older, friendships are mostly work-based and if you are not working ...
 
Let's just say it took me a while to adjust.
 
Blogging helped me to do that.  I not only found the therapy I needed in writing, but also a wonderful community.  Online acquaintances become real people, and I am lucky enough to say, real friends after being brave and attending the Britmums Live weekend that first year.  And for the next few years it became our annual get together.  But peoples lives move on, including mine, and suddenly I do not have a baby / toddler at home to constantly be entertaining and keeping ten steps ahead.  A window of opportunity opened. 
 
I came from a successful career I enjoyed but had never had a real passion for.  I grew up in an area where people were workers, no doubt about that, my whole family have toiled their whole lives - but no one said to us 'What do you really want to do?'  Work was to earn money and keep your head above water.  Choose a job you could do and maintain. I did well, flourished in my roles and climbed the ladder to having a career, rather than just a job, and that is when I realised, I could have done anything had I known.
 
I am not saying University was frowned upon, not by any means.  I was quite academic and I was one of the few encouraged into further education, but I still didn't have any idea of the opportunities, I have since discovered, would have been available within the literary industry had I really taken the bull by the horns in my younger years.
 
But I digress.  I guess what I am trying to say is I love my blog, it was my baby and it has been lovely nurturing it and watching it develop.  But in the main scheme of things, it is run of the mill, one of many, not one of the best.  I have sat and looked at it, many times, over the last year and thought I just don't know what to write?  I suppose because I have now adjusted to how our family unit works, I don't need to write posts to try and straighten out the thoughts in my head.  Well, apart from on one thing. 
 
Disability.
 
The disability section of this blog, The Disability Diaries, for which I can probably say has been it's most successful part in terms of 'blog success', is still something I do find myself needing to write about.  I probably always will.  
 
So, I am not closing this blog down.  But, I am making it purely about The Disability Diaries. 
 
I always wanted The Diaries to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by those who share disability within their lives in some way, and I want to continue to do that, it is as vitality important to me as forging myself a new career involving the written word.
 
Which, by the way, I am also planning on doing.
 
I am launching a new blog in February called The Very Pink Notebook, dedicated to all things bookish.  Reviews, releases, author interviews, tours.  As soon as the site is live I will be posting the link.  If you love the world of books as much as me, please follow and support.  I hope it gives you as much enjoyment to read as I am hoping it will give me to write and develop.
 
Of course, I continue to pursue the big dream too.  The novel.  I am having a wonderful time exploring and learning all about the industry which I hope to one day be a part of in some way.  There is a blog prepared for that too.  I will document my journey - but now is not quite the right time for that launch.  When it is you will be first to know.
 
No, when I was young no one really ever asked - What do you want to do?  So I decided to ask it myself. 
 
Wish me luck.      
 
 


   

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Eleven

As I took down the last of the Halloween decor, indulged in purely for the delight of J2 and his friends, I mentally ticked that event off of the 'to-do' list.  Next my mind moved to the next big event for our house - hold.  A birthday.  The day it falls is, 6 November, but for me, it starts on the evening of 2 November 2003.
 
Eleven years ago, strangely enough on a Sunday night as it fell this year, my waters unexpectedly broke.  One minute I was watching Dogma and the next I was on the phone to the hospital asking what I should do in the event my water leakage should occur eight weeks early.
 
The response was to not go to them, but to go to the bigger hospital in the next town.  As it turns out they couldn't deal with me either and we got whisked off to a hospital over an hour away.  After monitoring, steroid injections and vast amounts of prodding and poking, I was admitted.
 
My first baby.  Ignorance was bliss.  I learned that quickly; the first steroid injection in the thigh you let them do, the second one you are more reluctant about.  When they go to give you a third you run screaming telling them you really have had the second one already!  Maybe I should have had more sense and kept a record of everything from that point.  But there are a lot of 'What If's' I could spend a whole lifetime debating so I have learned to just accept; I didn't.
 
Any reader of this blog will know the resulting consequences of my birth story.  My eldest son has quadripelgic Cerebral Palsy.  The brain damage he suffered, according the the MRI, happened in the last hour of the birth.  Apparently it is no ones fault.
 
Bad Luck.
 
That is the professional opinion.
 
So, for eleven years we have watched my boy live with this condition.  We have learned to support him and care for him to the very best of our ability.  We have watched him suffer as he recovered from operations needed as a consequence of not being able to walk.  We have watched him grow frustrated as he discovers he can not do a lot of things that his siblings can.  We have, I particularly, felt inadequate as a parent as I fail to get councils / governing bodies / professionals to listen.
 
It is easy to feel overwhelming negative. 
 
Until I have a conversation with him.  Yes, have a conversation with him.  I can hold a conversation with my little boy.  That was something I didn't know I would ever be able to do.  He didn't speak until he was five.  Now he talks, and shouts and sings, beautifully out of tune (a trait he most certainly gets from his mother!)
 
He tells me it is his birthday on Thursday.  He is going to be eleven.  He would like an Ipad.  He thinks he is going to get one.  He has got a flake cake to take into class.  He then tells me the name of his class; who his teacher is and who his best friend at school is.
 
I marvel. 
 
He is a miracle.  Saved in an age of technology.  Afflicted by bad luck but sticking his two fingers up to it's consequences. 
 
He has a lot of issues to contend with, in truth we all do.  Disability makes life extra hard work for everyone involved but he does it with a smile - well for the most part - we are gradually seeing more 'teenager' starting to creep in (but how great is that!).
 
So another year has crept by, I write this blog as I write one every year celebrating his growth and tenacity.  Celebrating the fact he is here, with us, to smile, laugh and give us attitude.  I thank my body for holding him in until just eight weeks before he was due to be born.  I thank the nurse who stuck a steroid injection in my thigh and backside.  I thank my son for being a stubborn and determined little man every single day.
 
Eleven whole years of being the luckiest mum ever.
 
Birthday Time.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Wowzer

Where does the time go?  Seriously.  I have just noticed it has been almost three months since I last gave the blog any attention.
 
Dear blog. 
 
Sorry.
 
Regards, Lynsey The Mother Duck.
 
The last three, beautiful, summer months have been fun, fast and furious.  The school six week break flew past.  Our Mexican holiday was enjoyed and too soon became a wistful clutch of memories and photographs on the wall.  J1 enjoyed respite and quiet at his grand-parents by the seaside, while J2 indulged in some parental one to one time.
 
The count down to J2 starting school turned from months, to weeks, to days until eventually the school uniform was donned and the battle of walking to school commenced.  My mother asked if I shed a tear when my littlest hobo took those first tentative steps into school.  My response?  Hell no!  I delivered him, waved goodbye and left the playground doing a Friends, Chandler-style victory dance!
 
I love my boy as much as any mother could but he was so ready to go to school and honestly, I was glad that the time had come.  He was desperate for more.  More stimulation, more company, more knowledge.  More than I could give him on my own.  The time was right and he is loving it.
 
For me, having both children at school is something I have openly looked forward to.  However, it has still taken me these last few weeks to get used to.  The first week, from the minute I left the school I did not stop.  I had lists of house projects that I was determined to get done.  And get them done I did.  I was glad I had allocated September for 'Project Clean Up'  My home is more in order than it has been for, probably, the last 10 years.
 
I knew unless I did it first I would not feel comfortable kick starting the writing effort.  As I turfed out cupboards, ordered units and gadgets to assist with the mammoth sort out I started to feel overwhelmed by just how I was going to achieve my writing goal (GOAL : to have a first draft written and the first three chapters polished ready for The Festival of Writing in September 2015).  The Fear started creeping in.  As I de-cluttered more and cleaned harder I started to procrastinate.  I avoided going into my Writing Room.
 
As my house 'to-do' list shrunk, my panic grew.  I had waited almost three years for this time to become a reality and I was freezing up.  Then an email came through.  An email inviting applications to join in a six month project.  A six month novel writing project.  It was a beacon of light guiding the way.  A supportive, helping hand being offered. 
 
I applied.
 
I was successful.
 
So, suddenly I am doing it.  Writing a first draft in six months.  A week in and we have been served with foundation exercises that I have never considered spending the time doing before, but already I can feel has helped develop and grow my plot, idea, setting and characters.  It is fantastic to be learning again too.  I am doing things I will definitely do and use in the future.  I love how we have a calendar and schedule, anyone that reads my posts will know I am a routine and structure lover.
 
I have asked myself why didn't I think of that before?  Well, it's all new to me, novel writing, not the idea but the actual physical production of it.  Yep - hand up!  Newbie alert!  I have done the usual jump in writing, get to 20k and stop.  But I have never actually stopped and given the time to do the background work, probably ignorantly thinking the time would be better spent writing.  How wrong was I.  As I said, I am learning a lot already.
 
So, wowzer!  I am actually doing something I set out to do.
 
I am writing.
 
I am writing, a novel.   
 
My novel writing course is with the lovely Charlie and Amie at http://www.urbanwritersretreat.co.uk/

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Disability Diaries : Growth

When the letter arrived home from school, stating that J1 had an 'Activity Week' approaching, I read it and wondered if it might all be a bit too much for him to cope with.  A whole week of being out of routine.  A whole week of travelling to different venues.  A whole week of extra curricular, over stimulation for his brain.

However, as the week drew closer J1 showed none of his usual 'out of routine' anxiety.  When I mentioned it to him in conversation, which I tried to do every evening whilst I got him ready for bed, he got excited and repeated back what he had heard in class about the activities.  He even started to do his 'excited' clench.
 
However, having 10 years of experience on my side, my own anxieties did not lay to rest as I pessimistically thought 'The meltdown will come at some point.'
 
But... It never did.
 
It never did!
 
I waited for it to start appearing, the constant repetition that 'He doesn't have too.' or the waking in the night crying and saying 'He'll stay home today.'  Like the rain you expect to see after having two days of blazing sunshine on the UK shores in the summer, I waited.
 
Nada.
 
Nowt.
 
Not a peep.
 
He continued to be excited and verbally upbeat.  So we responded in the same way and by the time Monday morning arrived the house was buzzing with talk of 'Activity Week.'
 
The first day I had to drop him to the venue as it was a park closer to our home than the school.  My own anxieties returned, in the past when I have taken him somewhere with the school he would cry for me as I tried to leave.  But this year, when handover came, he was more interested in his friends and what they had brought for lunch and didn't give me a backward glance.  I actually walked away, back to the car to the sounds of 'Byeeeeeee Mummmmmm!'
 
I could have cried.
 
With joy! 
 
Such progress!  Such growth!  I had not seen it coming.
 
Puffed up with pride I looked forward to the following day when I would be, cue dramatic music, staying for the day with the class on the farm trip.
 
I was not to be disappointed and I must say, etch it in stone for it to lay written forever, it was one of the best days of my life.
 
I got to spend the day watching, with my own eyes, just how far J1 has come since January.  He has built real friendships.  Buddies.  School pals.  The other children wanted to hang back with him, hold his hand, chill with him.  Spend time in his company.  They argued over who's turn it was to sit next to him for lunch.  And J1 revelled in it. 
 
As did I.  Gone was the school trip of past whereby if I so much as attempted to smile at another student he would burst into uncontrollable sobbing.  He wore a smile all day, as bright and beautiful as the sun.
 
We always look for achievements for our children.  For J1 this was a huge one.  It was one giant step towards independence.  The only thing I really pray he will achieve, and achieve fully in life.  Despite of his physical disabilities.  To have friends to laugh and joke with.  To have friends to share experiences with.  To get involved. To enjoy life.
 
My boy is growing.

Monday, 7 July 2014

My Writing Space in Pictures

A few people have asked to 'see' my much adored 'writing space' that I masterfully procured back for myself last week.  I think because I said it represents me.  So rather than putting a, probably poorly executed, attempt at a shot of the whole room I thought I would take a few snaps of the things in it, which give a good representation of why it means so much to me.

1. Family Life Tile

My lovely friend ML, used to run a wedding planning business.  During the course of her career she came across many cool wedding things but none more so, in my humble opinion, than this.  All the pieces of our wedding day immortalised into ink to be cherished.




The wonderful people who produce these can be found here : Your Life Tile

2. Antique Typewriter



I don't think this really needs much explanation does it?

3. Print of J1's Feet

Obviously J1 can not stand down to mark his feet for us, so it is always been quite difficult to get good prints and we have tried on many occasions.  But this one came home, quite randomly, from his after school club a few years ago and it took my breath away.  Hence it was swiftly framed and wall mounted.



4. 'To Read' Shelf

Yes, these beautiful articles (i.e books) are all waiting patiently to be the next called upon for my reading pleasure.  The bigger the pile gets the more excited I feel when I look at it.  Which some might think is odd, but to me it makes perfect sense.



Recently I have been on the hunt for books from my childhood and was tickled pink when I found my absolute favourite 'Tilly's House' by Faith Jacques.



5. My Mantra



When I first decided I was going to give this writing thing a 'serious go' I had this made in Wales.  And I think, not a truer word said, to be honest.


6. Bag Collection

I have certain places that are the holy grail of shops.  If ever I am lucky enough, or save enough to visit and actually purchase (instead of looking forlornly into the window, wishing 'If Only') I try and keep the bag as immaculate as possible so I can worship it.  Daily.




7. Barbie

And finally, a room saying 'Me' wouldn't be complete without a Barbie representative.  Past posts have already let out my secret.  I have collectible Barbies (and proud of them!) but sadly most of them remain in storage.  However, for now this is the Barbie Rep.



To some people this may seem sickly and self indulgent. 

You know what?

 I don't care. 

I live in a house of boys, where blue rules and every other word / sound is burp / fart / poo (followed by much hilarious laughter - seriously do they ever get bored of it?) 

So this is my space, my creative abode. 

Maybe one day the front page of my publishing contract will grace the walls and my own books line the shelf.

And maybe dreams will come true?