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Hello, do I know you?

A woman is waving enthusiastically at me from the other side of the hall. She approaches me smiling. We exchange greeting pleasantries. I wonder if she has misidentified me or whether she is just a particularly friendly lady. Either way, I am open to a chat.

As the conversation unfolds she asks about each of my children by name, and then enquires about our recent holiday abroad. The fixed smile on my face masks my complete lack of recognition of who this person is, despite the fact that this is clearly someone I should know in some detail.

We reach the point in the conversation where we can’t go any further without me openly admitting, with a great deal of embarrassment, that I cannot recall where I know this lovely lady from. She shuffles awkwardly with what I can only image might be a combination of embarrassment, disappointment and insecurity that she might not be a memorable person. She advises me we are close neighbours. I cringe inwardly for the rest of the day from the awkward embarrassment this created for both of us.

This is the kind of things that happens to me regularly though thankfully not frequently. I can normally mitigate any awkwardness by playing along, doing some delicate probing as to our connection. Sometimes this works without embarrassment for either party. Sometimes it doesn’t. This is just the way things are for me.

It is not until I have been thrown into a semi-permanent and persistent new environment that this has really come into focus for me. I have recently become resident at the local hospital with my poorly boy for 13 days so far. There has been a whole host of new nurses, doctors and other medical staff with whom I have needed to build relationships – all wearing similar uniforms.

What I have noticed in this situation is just how much I rely on indicators other than faces to identify who people are. Clothes, body shape, hair style and voice are all key identifiers for me as well as a process of elimination if the person is a member of a group.

Another thing I have become aware of is the effect that this condition has on me. I put off connecting with people for fear that the person is not who I think they might be. I carry an almost constant worry with me that I come across as rude for not proactively connecting with people because of this. I experience feelings of being not good enough and lacking in social skills, and I harbour a lot of self-doubt in my ability to build new relationships with people particularly in a group setting.

I think this has set the scene for me taking a back seat with building relationships generally in life, waiting for people to come to me rather than putting myself forwards to connect with them. I often push people away as a defence mechanism for doubting my relationship building skills. It has left me more lonely, isolated and self-doubting than I care to be.

Additionally, although I think I am quite sensitive in picking up on vibes, I struggle at times to read facial expressions which can leave me doubting my reactions during a social exchange. Less importantly – depending on your priorities – I struggle to follow a plot in TV shows and movies because when a character changes their clothes or setting between scenes I often can’t then recognise them. I am the annoying one who interrupts the movie with “so who is this guy then? Do we know him?” “Yep – he’s still the main character!” Doh! Honestly, it puts me off watching… and no doubt puts other people off me watching with them!

After a little recent googling I discover this is most definitely a thing. Prosopagnosia. Not so uncommon I learn. An easier term of reference for this is face-blindness. I’m not sure I like that better but at least it’s pretty self-explanatory and easy to remember!

One thing I have learnt through our time in hospital is just how important effective communication is. I am the kind of person that tends to explode if I let things boil under the surface for too long, so communicating in a timely manor is really key for me. To communicate effectively with new people includes being open with them about all the relevant information that will affect our interactions. And face-blindness is definitely relevant!

After 13 days in hospital I am now in a place where I am able to recognise a lot of the staff consistently and confidently and have starting building rapport effectively. However we are currently transferring to a new hospital where we will start  from square one again. Having learnt from my recent experience I feel the best way to build effective relationships is to be upfront and open in sharing this information about me with nurses and key staff. I hope this approach will pave a way for easier settling in to this new environment, less fear of judgement about coming across as rude and more understanding on both sides of our communications.

In the scenario I wrote about at the beginning I hope that being open about my condition will reassure the other person that it is not that they are not memorable and hopefully avoid embarrassment on both our parts. And maybe sharing my experience of this will actually help me build great relationship by leading with effective communication. I’m glad I shared it with you.

Living and ever learning x

Tutu the Tortoise

Tutu was a tortoise.
tutu-fed-up

He was feeling fed up. Fed up of looking plain and dull. Fed up of being ordinary. Fed up of doing ordinary things.
He needed a change.

He left his home and set out excitedly to find a new one. What an adventure!

As he bounded up the beach he came across a branch of seaweed – a perfect new home?

tutu-seaweed

He tried the seaweed on for size. It felt different, good different. He frolicked around this way and that, admiring his funky new number.

That night when he slept the rain fell. Tutu got wetter and wetter under his very holy, now quite slimey, and not very weatherproof new home.

The next morning he left in search of something better.
As he skipped up the beach he came across a giant clam shell – a perfect new home?

tutu-clam

‘Oh so pretty’ he thought. ‘And definitely weatherproof.’ He tried it on for size.
He leaped up to do a celebratory jig, but as soon as he gave a little wiggle, it slipped right off.
And when he tried to sleep under it… well, weatherproof it may be, but comfortable it was not. The heavy shell squashed him all night long and when he woke he had a crick in his neck.

The next morning he left in search of something better.
As he scampered up the beach he came across a, sadly more common than they should be in nature, carrier bag – a perfect new home?

tutu-bag

‘A cape!’ He thought. ‘That looks comfortable.’
As he began to channel his inner-superhero he realised it even made an awesome crinkly noise creating a soundtrack to his activities.

But that night when he was trying to sleep, the crinkly noise didn’t sound so awesome.

Very tired the next morning, he set off, happy to be rid of the noisy carrier bag.
After 3 bad nights he just wanted somewhere warm and cosy and snug to sleep.

tutu-happy

He rounded the next corner and he came across, his shell. His ordinary, plain old, dull, dry, warm, cosy, perfectly fitting, home.
He climbed right in and was asleep before before he could say ‘Happi-‘.

tutu-map

 

Will you nap?

There was a place, there was a time, where place and time had no meaning.
There was a time you beamed a smile, during your quiet and peaceful dreaming.

I love those times, the peace and quiet
A time to unwind my mind
And lay it all bare, from hope to despair,
And ask for healing and grace to be kind.

Because self-compassion is key to accepting it all.
To living a wonderful life,
That along with kindness to others,
The tenants of a true and wonderful wife.

So why do I sit here, unshevelled, unkempt,
Twisted by my own inner turmoil?
A bitter seed has been sown inside,
And it’s intoxicating my soul gardens soil.

I toil and graft to tend to my plot,
and serve the family with devotion.
To cultivate patience and unconditional love,
and not get overrun by emotion.

And gradually I increase my capacity for calm,
And become little by little more en-peacened.
The effort is worth it and begins to pay off,
when connection to you and myself is deepened.

And so my love, when you fall asleep,
This time is as precious as any.
An essential time to recharge our batteries,
Is worth absolutely every penny.

Aliens Love Sex Toys : A Parody

I’d just like to prefix this piece with a small but significant… Sorry Mum! 😉
Here goes…


Aliens are partial
to playing with many a sex toy,
but these are not commonly available in space
for them to enjoy.

So aliens come visiting to earth,
not to meet you,
But because they want to raid your stash of boudoir toys
and fetish taboo.

They fly into your house,
through your chimney stack,
Straight to the bedroom closet,
excited to begin the kinky ransack.

They like it clean, they like it dirty,
but most of all they love to be playful,
And connect with each other in activities
that some would find distasteful.

They delight in dressing up,
indulging their fantasies through role play,
In deviant scenarios
like the one with the hunter and his prey.

They attempt to bungee from the window
using the harness of a strap-on,
With the crotch splitting jolt at the bottom they realise
why it takes elastic for that to be fun.

Some beauty conscious alien ladies,
don’t like to impose,
But they find the vibrator gives a great shine
to the webbing between their toes.

As creative little people can,
they make a catapult out of a dildo,
It’s so much fun playing alien flick
#alternativegames with the toys of a nympho.

They use nipple clamps as chains
in games of subjugation,
And dangle from the ceiling fans
experimenting with elevation.

The spanking paddle is great fun
for bouncing buddies off the wall,
Their S&M rampages often become
a full on sex brawl.

Their orgies in your bedroom
are satisfyingly orgasmic,
They deem your stash of sex toys
to be engagingly fantastic!

So if, when you get back,
you find your toys have moved
You might want to clean them
– they’ve been alien-abused!


And for all of you who don’t have children(!) I have quoted the original – awesomely fantastic – book, by Claire Freedman, below:

Aliens love underpants,
Of every shape and size.
But there are no underpants in space,
So here’s a big surprise…

When aliens fly down to Earth,
They don’t come to meet YOU…
They simply want your underpants –
I’ll bet you never knew!

Their spaceship’s radar bleeps and blinks
The moment that it sees
A washing line of underpants,
All flapping in the breeze.

They land in your back garden,
Though they haven’t been invited.
“Oooooh, UNDERPANTS!” they chant,
And dance around, delighted.

They like them red, they like them green,
Or orange like satsumas.
But best of all they love the sight,
Of Granny’s spotted bloomers.

Mum’s pink frilly knickers
Are a perfect place to hide
And Grandpa’s woolly longjohns
Make a super-whizzy slide.

In daring competitions,
Held up by just one peg,
They count how many aliens
Can squeeze inside each leg.

They wear pants on they feet and heads
And other silly places.
They fly pants from their spaceships and
Hold Upside-Down-Pant Races!

As they go zinging through the air,
It really is pants-tactic.
What fun the aliens can have,
With pingy pants elastic!

It’s not your neighbour’s naughty dog,
Or next-door’s funny game.
When underpants go missing,
The ALIENS are to blame!

But quick! Mum’s coming out to fetch
The washing in at last.
Wheee! Off the aliens all zoom,
They’re used to leaving fast…

So when you put your pants on,
Freshly washed and nice and clean,
Just check in case an alien
Still lurks inside, unseen!

Brexit Poem

Brexit –
Wrecked it.
Deceit and lies,
Wins the prize.

General confusion,
Mass dissolution.
Emotional voting,
After manipulative promoting.

The air is heavy with regret right now,
Even the brexiteers seem to want to disavow.
As a nation we spoke but not with one voice,
As a nation we now have to live with the majority choice.

The subject of the EU is so vast, so complex,
Overly simplified for the masses to digest.
But how can we make informed decisions,
When information is presented through such skewed visions.

We’re pawns in a game of political gains,
Using aggressive scaremongering political campaigns.
How can it be right that we’ve allowed this to unfold?
We don’t like to think, just do what we’re told.

How important is it then that our leaders are truthful?
That the facts are presented in a way that is useful?
For democracy to work we need to empower our people,
Not feed them propaganda which is highly deceitful.

I feel like I’m watching the crash of a nation,
A story where I have no power over the narration.
I just have to observe as we are stripped right back,
And reinstituted by the tyrants who led the attack.

I fear more troublesome times are ahead,
Where division and xenophobia are regrettably widespread.
We will certainly experience short term pain,
And I can’t see that resulting in any long term gain.

But – it is our responsibility, to create what we want,
Note to self: it is not acceptable to remain nonchalant.
So from here on in – and this is my resolve,
I will engage in debate and action to help our society evolve.

Dear Bank : A Parody

I wrote to the bank to send me some cash.

They sent me, a statement of my income and expenditure.
It was too disappointing.
So I returned it.

So they sent me, a log on for their internet portal.
It was too confusing.
So I returned it.

So they sent me, a listing of their unsecured loan interest rates.
They were extremely overpriced.
So I returned it.

So they sent me, a telephone appointment with the lending department.
It was too frustrating.
So I didn’t return it.

So they sent me, a summons from the bank manager.
It was too scary.
So I returned it.

So they sent me, a bill for their administration time.
It was too unreasonable.
So I returned it.

So they sent me a credit card with a 10 grand credit limit.
Through lack of any other viable option, it was perfect.
So I spent it.


And just in case any of you by some freak of nature don’t know the classic original picture book by Rod Campbell, this is how it goes:

I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet.

They sent me an Elephant.
He was too heavy!
I sent him back.

So they sent me a Giraffe.
He was too tall!
I sent him back.

So they sent me a Lion.
He was too fierce!
I sent him back.

So they sent me a Camel.
He was too grumpy!
I sent him back.

So they sent me a Snake.
He was too scary!
I sent him back.

So they sent me a Monkey.
He was too naughty!
I sent him back.

So they sent me a Frog.
He was too jumpy!
I sent him back.

So they thought very hard, and sent me a Puppy.
He was perfect!
I kept him.

The Ninja Dual

Bosh was a ninja, the badest ninja in the land,
Generally he was helpful but his bravado was a little out of hand.
He was sure he was the best and most skillful of the lot,
But one day that all changed, and like it – he did not!
Ninja Ting arrived in town, with skills that rivalled his.
She was fresh and sharp, pretty and fast, and evidently quite a whizz.
Bosh felt unhappy about this like his toes were being squashed,
He challenged Ting to a ninja dual and prepared to win at any cost.
 
The dual was planned, the course was set, a race to the top of a rocky outcrop,
First to sound the finishing horn would own the town, from valley to hilltop.
The first of three challenges required parkour skill,
Crossing the rapids onto the opposite hill,
Hopping a series of small stepping stones
Which stones were solid? To Ting they were unknown.
She was nervous, of course, it was easy to tell,
But Bosh was at home here, he knew it well.
As he jumped across, Ting followed his trail.
By copying Bosh, Ting wouldn’t fail.
 
The second challenge was to spider climb the ravine,
Bosh loved this task and was like a climbing machine.
Shimmying up the rock a little behind
Ting was coming strong in a good frame of mind.
 
Nearing the top Bosh let out a yelp,
All he could think was he needed some help!
He had misplaced his hand and a spike went right through,
That was not a move he could undo.
 
How could he possibly win at all now?
All his dreams shattered with one howl.
But wait, here comes his opponent Ting
Is she going to help him complete this thing?
 
She steadies her legs and takes a strong stance,
And helps Bosh up to the ridge to advance,
Up to the top and over with a flip,
Bosh is back on his feet in a jiff.
 
“Are you ok? Can you carry on?” Ting asked
“Of course” said Bosh, “and I won’t be coming last!”
And so they raced on to the final part of the course,
Even with an injured hand Bosh was a competative force.
 
The third challenge was to cross the canyon drop,
Balancing on a branch – don’t look down, don’t stop!
Bosh jumped on first and got a good start,
There’s no doubt that this was the most scary part.
 
Ting carefully approached and shuffled on tentatively,
She wobbled a little as she balanced precariously,
But suddenly the branch juddered out of its place,
A big worried grimace crossed over Tings face,
If the branch continued to move any more,
She would surely end up in a heap on the floor.
 
Her horror was broken with a great big thud,
Another branch landed, wedged well in the mud,
Bosh had paused to help her safely across,
When he’d thought about losing her, he couldn’t stand the loss.
She scrambled to safety, both back on dry land,
There was no rush now, they walked hand in hand,
Smiles on their faces, up the final hill
To sound the horns, together in good will.
Their harmonies bought peace to the village and themselves.
Bosh realised you can’t always keep things all for yourself.
Competition is ok in very small doses
But it’s better to experience the joy of real closeness.
 
Together to this day they ninja throughout the land,
Happy to recruit equals into their team of ninja band.

Halloween Insights

What is the equivalent of bah-humbug for halloween? Boo-humbug? Whatever it is… That is me. Year in year out! Normally this manifests in me not dressing up or taking part in any meaningful way and waiting it out until it all blows over.

This year however, I positively embraced my boo-humbugness by being a rainbow unicorn for the evening. It was my stand for joy, and lightness and dreams of magic and happiness rather than death, and the dark heaviness that I find generally accompanies All Hallows’ eve.

This was actually quite a revelation for me. It was – at the age of 33 – the first time I have ever willingly got involved in fancy dress. I experienced it as an actual burning desire. It has definitely been a turning point for me when it comes to embracing the idea of fancy dress more generally.

And as much as I loved being a rainbow unicorn, and by golly I did love it – In fact I would happily be a rainbow unicorn daily if I had some kind of sensor on the end of my horn so as to be sure not to injure any unsuspecting bystanders (which frankly, was a slight issue!) – I have since been questioning whether it was arguably disrespectful in some way to flagrantly flout the conventions of that particular evening?

My experience of boo-humbug actually runs deeper than a reluctance to embrace the festival of Halloween. It seems to me to be a pretty extreme aversion to all things dark. I think this is partly down to personality and preference. I like to embrace the happy, and I find that sunshine and fairies and things that reinforce the beauty of life make me feel nourished, which is a feeling I enjoy. Conversely zombies, saucery, pain and death make me feel on edge and fearful which is not a feeling I enjoy. Therefore I reject it – makes sense!

However, I also wonder that, as an all-or-nothing kind of gal, maybe I resist any and all types of dark in fear that if I welcome any small part of darkness, this will open the floodgates to a whole torrent of dark. Likewise I have a question mark over whether my aversion stems party from an inability (or unwillingness?) to empathise with that extreme pain which is often experienced on a deep soulfully bruising level, when you loose somebody that you love. I have been very lucky in life not yet to have experienced any crushingly traumatic loses. May it continue that way for a long time. The idea of identifying with that kind of pain, seems overwhelmingly intense… avoid, avoid, avoid.

This year just after Holloween I came across this quote – which is rather long, but nevertheless kept my attention – by a guy named ‘Agamemnon Otero’, who – just from the name – sounds like someone who knows what he’s talking about! This was the reason I started to question whether being a rainbow unicorn was actually disrespectful on Halloween.

“November arrives as the harvest is complete. Grain has been stored, fruits picked and conserved, vegetable seeds for the next growing season are separated out and kept back for planting.

The dead have passed away from the social concerns of this world to the primordial chaos of the Otherworld where all fertility has its roots, but they are still bound to the living by the ties of kinship.

We strengthen our ties to the dead when the natural cycle of earth passes through its own moment of death so that the community of the living might benefit from the energies of increase that lead out of death back to life.

Now is the time to remember those who have entered the spirit world, a time to pay due homage to the dead in order to ensure the return of new life.

Dead kin are our allies in the Otherworld, making certain that the creative forces deep within the land are being directed to serve the needs of the natural community.

Now is the time when the veil between the physical world and the spirit world is at its thinnest and so it is the most likely time for spirits to be seen on earth.

Tonight, as the barrier between the two realms grows thin, spirits walk amongst us, once again.”

I love that he draws parallels between the cyclical nature of life and death, and the seasonal changes of the Earth. And that he guides on the usefulness of the dead in the replenishing of nutrients for soil fertility for future harvests. I love that he points out the importance of fostering a healthy respect for this natural way of things, and that he puts value on the kinship that those still living have shared with those that have now been lost. Frankly, Agamemnon has framed Halloween here in a way that makes me want to embrace the deathly darkness for the festival as a mark of respect, both to natures necessary cycles, and to the kinship which has been shared with those that have passed on. Maybe next year I will be a little less controversial.

Holidaying Insights

I find holidays stressful. Unreasonably stressful. Grump inducing, almost panic strickeningly, stressful. Not the being on holiday… That bit I enjoy. It’s the preparing part which I invariably become unreasonably stressed over. My long suffering partner and children can testify to that!

To be clear, this is a motherhood induced holidaying stress reaction. As a youngster I holidayed breezily. I backpacked round the world, twice, with not so much as a twitch of pre-trip anxiety. But with children, all those potentially anxiety inducing questions – “will I have everything I need? For every single possible scenario? In every possible weather? For everyone that needs it?” – are highly amplified. When you are the ‘responsible adult’ it is easy to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders!

However, as I sit here on the floor, drinking tea, writing, entertaining my children, less than 96 hours before I leave to fly to the opposite side of the globe, with said children, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm. Packing has not yet been done, to do lists that have been written are minimal at best. I’m not sure if this is a deliberate head in sand burying tactic type calm, or a genuine wholesome, over my holidaying-anxiousness affliction sense of calm. Only time will tell. The next 4 days will certainly be revealing!

So what has changed? Where is the undesirable flood of cortisol which we have become so accustomed to in the pre-holidaying period?

It seems to me that there is nothing like an investment of £5k in a single holiday to aid in a bit of necessary personal development! For me, this is a once in a lifetime holiday, a small throw back to my care free travelling days – with 2 children and my mother in tow – and I refuse to be stressed for any part of it!

The fact that we will be visiting family in Australia, and the support network that provides in terms of forgotten necessities, may be a contributing factor in this instance. But for me, I think  the biggest change has been a shift and a release of some of the perfectionism and addiction to achievement which I vehemently cling to. Mothering in general is not compatible with perfectionism and addiction to achievement, and on a day-to-day basis I still have work to do to release that fully. But for this holiday, and hopefully future holidays, I feel happy that I may be able now to simply embrace the excitement.

Having spent some time reflecting on my pre-holiday melt downs, I have realised that preparing to go on holiday for me is actually a gradual process of accepting that all of things that I wanted to achieve before I go on holiday are not going to get done. The bathrooms will not be beautifully gleaming on our return. The carpets will not be spotless. Those weeds in what was once my vegetable patch will be a few inches taller. That’s ok, they are practically the only plants in my garden anyway! Life on our return from holiday will look pretty much like it did yesterday… That’s ok. It was fine for yesterday, it will be fine for when we get back!

What will have happened is, clothes – probably clean, and hopefully appropriate for the weather – will be in a suitcase. Toe nails will have been painted; necessary hair removal will have occurred (priorities!). If we are lucky, the fridge and bin will have been emptied. We will jump on a plane, with an adventurous spirit, and eyes wide with excitement, happy for the opportunity to create some amazing memories with my nearest and dearest. No stress required!

Post-blog update: I can undoubtedly say, having holidayed since this adventure, that I am definitely not over my holidaying-anxiousness affliction. However, like most things in life, I know now that my reaction to it, is a choice. And I would like to think that i will choose to create minimal stress pre-holidaying experiences for us in the future. And yes James, please do hold me to this!