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A Little Intro….

I am who I am. Not who you think I am. Not who you want me to be. I am me.”

Brigitte nicole

Who is the Introverted Mama?

What a question. Who am I?

A mum of 3 kids and 2 angels, a daughter, wife and sister. Someone who has been caring for others my whole life, who loves to be there but is finally realising I need to look after me too……. My kids are growing, my life is changing and this quiet, naturally introverted, mama has decided to pursue some of the things shes always wanted too.

I’ve wanted to write since I was a child. Me and my best friend would spend hours, with a notebook and pen, coming up with ideas and stories. We both loved to read too: Victoria Plum, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five…. So often we’d be scolded for sitting inside when the sun was shining. Grabbing our pads, the garden would provide another sanctuary instead, to chat, dream, write and laugh…..

I’m so far from a great or even mediocre writer and feel very insecure about putting anything out in cyberspace for others to read but I’ve learnt that if you enjoy something, you just gotta do it. Life is short and whats the worse that can happen? You all hate it. I can deal with that now.

So here i am………

Kaz xx

“This is me” – The Greatest Showman

Singing is good for the soul

I love to sing.

I can hold a tune but I am far from a fabulous singer. Thats of no consequence though because my favourite thing to do when driving is put on my favourite ballads and croon along with Whitney or Luther, much to my kids embarrassment!

I’m the kind of person who loves a song for the words, the emotion and how it connects with me and my experiences. If a song makes me smile, cry or gives me the goosebump “feels” it’s gonna be a winner In my eyes.

So rock choir has always appealed to me. A choir full of others that love to sing, no matter what their abilities are. EVERYONES welcome! I’m not sure when I first heard of it but I know it was some years ago at least. I’d never plucked up the courage to go though, that is until 2 weeks ago.

That was when after seeing an article about rock choir and chatting to a friend about a choir she used to go to and loved, I impulsively put this post on my FB/IG pages:

“Anyone fancy trying Cambridge Rock Choir with me on a Monday night at 7.30pm.
Free taster session available before you need to decide.
Wanna give it a go, but would be nice to go along with someone? 😊
Kaz x”

And one fabulous cyber friend Kirsten replied and said “I’ll come! 🙋🏼‍♀️”. Kirsten and I had never met but I knew she was reasonably local and we’d chatted on IG for about 2 years as we both have a mutual love of health and fitness.

So the next Monday night, I stepped out my comfort zone and turned up to sing and meet Kirsten in person. So glad I did too!
Rock choir is full of energy. You can feel it as soon as you arrive, the energy in the room is electric. Everyone keen to sing their hearts out and loving being able to do it surrounded by friends. Carrie who runs the group, makes it very special. She is so welcoming and instantly puts you at ease with her laid back, friendly and fun personality.

I sat with the lower altos having no idea where I should be but Carrie guided us and made it all very simple. No pressure to sing at all, just do what we felt comfortable with.

We sang Super Trouper by ABBA and even learnt a few dance moves. Singing in a group, feeling a part of this team all expressing themselves together is something special. The age range and mix of people in the room was vast but the community was strong.

Singing is great for the soul. When I’m happy I blast a happy tune and dance around my kitchen. When I’m sad I connect with a song and let it envelope me. I let myself cry and feel every word. Music is powerful and creating it on mass is almost therapeutic.

If it appeals to you because you love singing or for the community and social aspect, give it a go. I promise you won’t regret it! Go check out their website at http://www.rockchoir.com and find your local choir.

What have you got to lose, apart from your voice…….

Kaz 💕

A year of extremes…..

It’s 12 days until my 44th Birthday. Me and my furbaby, Finn both share our day of birth, except he’ll be 3 (or apparently 28 in dog years).

It’s around this time, I look back and think about where I am in life as my birthday is approaching and a new year is here.

The last 12 months have been a real eye opener. They’ve highlighted my strengths and weaknesses, pushed me way out of my comfort zone and to accomplish things I never thought I would but also seen me feel more of a failure than I ever have before. A year of extremes, for sure!!!

In 2016 just before I hit the big 40 I decided I was going to get fitter and healthier. I think 40 is an age where many of us start to realise life is speeding by so quickly and at least for me, I want to stay able, well and live it to the full. With that at the forefront of my mind, for the first time ever I made a commitment to start doing the couch to 5k running programme. First, running to the next lamppost without collapsing was an achievement and eventually to my total astonishment, with perseverance and a decision to not give up, I hit a slow 3 miles! I grew to love my runs and that “me” time they gave me. Running made me realise that I could do things I never thought I was able to and gave me a belief in myself I hadn’t had in a very long time.

This new found self belief meant that when I saw an advert looking for women wanting to become run leaders for a local ladies running group, I applied. To my astonishment, I got the gig and was petrified and excited all at once. Without running I never would have believed I could help anyone become fitter and healthier.

Seeing women feel great about themselves, increasing their confidence and believing they can do things that previously seemed impossible has been totally amazing. It made me feel more self assured and gave me a desire to inspire other women at a similar stage in their lives. In October 2017 I launched my own business supporting women with home workouts, a great nutrition plan and most importantly a virtual support system.

This opportunity was scary but I decided that it was something I really wanted to try and make work, for my own wellness as well as the women I was supporting and to give me the opportunity to improve our financial circumstances too.

The next 2 years saw me make so many new and very special friendships through this business and social media and in doing so help so many women with their health. I’ve grown a small team of ladies with the same desire to pay forward our message and I have travelled to the USA twice to meet teammates, learn, grow and be inspired. In short it’s been pretty amazing!!!

But at the same time underlying problems that have been there but I haven’t dealt with have been brewing and I’ve been struggling with them for many years. In 2019 these problems came to a head and I was not coping. In September I was diagnosed with depression and very reluctantly decided to start taking anti depressants.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, admitting I wasn’t coping. I have always taken pride in getting on with things and being strong but I had slowly gone from that capable mum and wife to someone who couldn’t seem to make decisions, was struggling with normal day to day activities and just wanted to hibernate in bed.

I still have a long way to go but I’m working towards coming off the anti depressants. So the last 12 months have been a learning curve in many ways. I’m learning that sometimes in order to be there for others our own happiness and wellness needs to take priority and that’s ok. I’m learning that asking for support does not mean your a failure. Reaching out for help, makes you strong. I’m learning that I can’t always prevent others from hurting or fix their lives. People have to take responsibility and do that for themselves. I’m only responsible for myself and who I become.

Running and working out has given me so much: fitness, stamina, confidence, determination, self belief and strength. They keep my mind in a more positive place by making me feel good about myself and giving me some time out from life to just digest it all. At the moment though exercise of any sort is a struggle but as with most things, that is usually when I need it the most.

If your mind is feeling overwhelmed, negative, sad or just numb, you probably can’t imagine working out. I know, but I promise you it will help. The shift it makes in your brain and how great you will feel once you’ve got it done is better than anything else!

If your struggling to fight your thoughts and move your body. Message me. I get it, I’ve been there but I also know it is one of the best things you can do…. let’s support each other.

Everyday is an opportunity for a fresh start.

New Years Resolutions…..

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and pen a blog to ring in the start of 2020 on January 4th.

Life has been busy to say the least. I’ve worked more in December than previously, started a new job and allowed myself to put my workouts and nutrition low down on my list of priorities. Not the best thing to do when life is hectic and your mood is low. This is when the workouts would really help but also the hardest time to push through and get them done.

So it’s the new year and it’s likely you’ve been looking back at the last year as well as forward to what you want to achieve in 2020. Many of you will also have made New Years Resolutions and feel geared up to smash the year and reach your goals.

How many of you made resolutions in January 2019? Did you achieve them consistently throughout the year? Or had you forgotten about them by the end of February? I know, I’ve been there, so many times!

Everyday is a day that you can start a fresh and you do not need the first day of the year to do that. The problem is when you fall off track with a New Years resolution its too easy to say to yourself “That’s it, Ive failed” and wait for next year, month, after the holiday or that special occasion.

If you can shift your mindset and commit to being ok with the bad days but knowing that to reach your goals you gotta pick the ball straight back up when you drop it, then you will not keep having to make the same New Years Resolution EVERY year. For me the accountability of checking in with like minded people daily, having that non judgemental support of others that want you to succeed, don’t mock what your doing but also understand the struggles was the game changer. That is what has kept me working on my own health and fitness the last 2 years.

Sometimes we don’t have that support around us, right? The closest people to us can often be the least supportive. There are many reasons for this but it maybe because your loved ones aren’t interested in health and fitness and don’t want you spending too much time on that and not them, it could be that they are not happy with their fitness or how they look and don’t feel able to change it and so they are jealous of your drive and commitment. There are so many reasons and they are generally nothing to do with you but say more about your loved ones feelings but generally if they care for you they will likely come round once they see how good you look and feel and may even jump on board with you too!

Most people’s resolutions include something about getting healthier and fitter, right? The gyms are overrun in January and by February you can bet they are ghostly quiet again. Your health is not just about the physical and it’s definitely not all about what you weigh. It’s also your mental health, your mindset, how your cope when things go wrong, how you pick yourself up when your feeling low. These are all about mindset and attitude and to master your resolutions you need to master your mind too.

Change your mindset, change your life!

So if your New Years Resolutions this year are health and fitness focused to have the best chance of success:

✅ Find support and accountability. An online support system, a class, group of likeminded people who “get it”. It will make all the difference to you staying the course on those good and bad days

✅ Find workouts/ exercise that suit your lifestyle, fit in with your schedule and are sustainable. If it’s all too difficult to stick to you’ll give up!

✅ Prepare! When it comes to nutrition preparation is key. Plan your meals for the week ahead. Meal prep in advance wherever possible. This will mean you always know what your eating. You will never be left hungry with nothing on hand and reaching for the chocolate fix, crisps and cake….. schedule your workouts. Put them in your diary like an appointment and stick to them. Not preparing is preparing to fail.

✅ Be kind to yourself. We all fall off track sometimes but remember keep your mindset positive and allow yourself some bumps along the road. When we start to feel like we are a failure many of us use coping mechanisms like eating and are in the habit of using food to make us feel better. We will reach for the chocolate, take aways or sweet treats and use them to lift our mood. This creates a spiral of disappointment and feeling “blergh” about ourselves so we continue to find solace in food. You have to break the cycle! It’s ok to have a bad day, find a different way to cope: call a friend, take a long hot bubble bath and begin to change your mindset too one where you feel proud of yourself for not allowing that day to become a week/ month/ year and use the next day as a fresh start and a chance to begin again.

Happy New Year!!!

May 2020 bring you all you wish for and if I can help with any of your health and fitness resolutions, get in touch and tell me what you’d like to achieve……. we can chat about your time commitments, nutrition, goals and mindset and look at the most effective ways for you to smash them!

Kaz 💕

Create a life you love

#lawofattraction #visionboardworkshop

We are in that time of limbo between Christmas and new year when no one really knows what day it is or whether it’s acceptable to still be eating all the chocolates and drinking baileys at midday. It’s usually around this time we begin to think of what we’ve achieved in the past 12 months, all the things we were convinced we would smash in January 2019 and now at the end of the year look back and realise we haven’t got very far and wonder whether we should set the same goals again this year??

How many years have you been trying to achieve the same resolution?

For me this time generally means putting goals together in the form of a vision board. If you are aware of the Law of attraction, this is probably not a new idea to you. If not the law of attraction is a powerful, universal law that provides the opportunity to shape our lives and attract our deepest, greatest desires.

A vision board is an effective tool that uses the law of attraction to stay focused on your goals for the year ahead. It uses visualisation with a collection of images that represent what you want to achieve and draw into your life. It should reflect goals which excite you and create emotion.

Think about what you would like to achieve in each area of your life and be specific. The more detailed the better and find pictures and phrases that represent each of these goals to create a board you can use as a visualisation tool. Be sure to hang your digitally created or hand crafted vision board in a place you will encounter it daily, so you can be reminded of your vision and stay motivated in achieving it.

Now let the universe do its job. Trust and say “yes” when opportunities present themselves…

If you’ve never tried it. Give it a go. If nothing else it will keep you focused on your goals and aware of whether they are changing. When they do, alter the images.

For me the last few years have brung some travel into my life that I would never have expected, a support network of women who are positive and motivated and a business that has shown me I can do hard things and face my fears. All of these things were on my vision board and this year I’m hoping to use the law of attraction and visualisation to continue to create a life that I dream of.

My first solo trip to Philadelphia, USA in October 2018.

If you are interested in joining me in creating your own vision board. We start a FREE 5 day workshop within our team on Facebook on the 1st January. This year we have decided to open it up to anyone that is interested in joining us. So let me know in the comments if you would like to take part and I’ll send you some info.

Let’s make 2020 the year that we are focused and committed to achieving the life we desire. 👊🏻👊🏻💥💥

Kaz 💕

Christmas without you…..

Christmas 2007 – My boys last Christmas Day together 💕🎄

As Christmas Day comes to an end, it feels good to be stretched out with the family in front of the television, belly’s full, drink in hand and smiles on our faces. The day has been full of food and merriment, board games and jokes. Another years Christmas memories made which we all cherish as the kids get older and theirs and our lives change.

For me there’s always a point during my day where I take some time to think of those we love that aren’t with us at Christmas. For us there are many but my main focus is my first son, Jermaine, who we spent 13 wonderful Christmas’s with but have now also spent 11 without.

Jermaine on his new present a HUGE beanbag for Christmas 2007

The years go by so quickly but each year I remember those Christmas’s with him, how special they were and how much I’d give to have him here for this one. Life has moved on rapidly and we have fantastic times now with his brothers and sister but for me it always feels like there’s a missing piece of us. A piece of our family puzzle is misplaced and it can never be fixed

I will always remember my boy on these occasions as they are the times you most want to be around those you love. Jermianes birthday was December 1st, so we aways used his birthday as the day we put our Christmas tree up. He loved seeing all the lights and sparkles on the tree and hearing carols and Christmas music. He had learning difficulties, visual impairment, could not communicate verbally and so many health needs, so a sensory task like putting up the tree, with the sparkly tinsel, twinkling lights and Christmas tunes was a real treat for him. You could tell when he was enjoying something by his loud shouts of encouragement or annoyance when things weren’t where he thought they should be and the wee glimpses of a smile on his cheeky chops.

I like to think our loved ones are still with us on these special occasions. Our first Christmas without Jermaine we couldn’t face in our home so we two our two younger boys to centre parcs for a few days. It was the best thing we could have done. Cocooned away from the world we knew. A world that held so many difficult absences, the four of us focused on special memories of Jermaine but also wrapped ourselves and the kids up in love. We were kind to ourselves and our boys and it was a beautiful but hard Christmas.

The Christmases since have changed. We still put the tree up as close to Jermaine’s birthday as we can and take that time to remember him. He’s always here, I feel him but we have new traditions too. Life moves on but my heart always yearns for him more on these special days. That will never change.

If you heart is missing someone close this festive season. Allow yourself to remember them. Talk about them, make them part of your celebrations. It helps me to remember those good times, to hear others talk of him and the times they shared. It cheers me to know he’s still thought of not just by me but others who loved him.

Remember your loved ones at Christmas and focus on the family and friends you have with you too. Knowing we can’t make anymore memories with those that have passed gives more of an appreciation of those we have with us.

Give them that extra big kiss, tighter hug and really listen to them.Give them your time… You never know whether it maybe the last.

Kaz 💕

‘‘Tis the season to be jolly!”

Life can be tough but when Christmas festivities hit, it can take that stress to another level. Organising presents, family events, cards, children’s school activities: Christmas jumper day, nativity costume, Christmas disco, Christmas lunch. Mums, the list can feel endless and alongside the pressure we put ourselves to make it “perfect” and added on normal everyday stresses, you may have a recipe for total overwhelm, worry and anxiety!

The biggest Christmas stresses are often:

  • Cost – I’ve learnt over the years that it’s not about how much you spend. The last 3/4 years we have cut back and no longer spend a small fortune at Christmas. It’s one day and it’s not worth making the months after Christmas full of worry about how your going to pay the bills or the credit card for one day! Christmas is about being with family, being there for others and quality time with them. Don’t make it about how much you can spend.
  • Gifts – Do you struggle to find the right gift for the right person? Sometimes it’s better to do something small and personal rather than a pricy gadget or item of clothing. Make a gift from the heart. Think about what that person loves and tailor it to that. Often times it is so much more appreciated for the time,effort and thought you’ve put into it.
  • Family – Just because your family, it doesn’t mean your going to like each other and putting all your family in one room with food and booze and expecting them to all have a good time maybe a recipe for disaster. Sometimes if that’s the case for you, you just gotta get selfish. Put yourself first and let everyone else work out their differences themselves. It may sound harsh but you can’t keep everyone happy all the time and neither should you have too!
  • High expectations – at Christmas everyone wants fun, food, drink and festivities. Expectations are so high and that means you maybe setting yourself up for a disappointment. It’s ok if the turkeys not perfect, mum and Auntie Ann argue, uncle Steve has too much to drink or the dog nabs the food off the table. Laugh, take it in your stride.

I love Christmas but I sit back every now and then during this season and try and refocus on what the season means to me….

I want to show my kids that Christmas is about a spirit of giving. Not just about receiving presents but of time and support for others. It’s a time to go the extra mile for friends and family, make sure your elderly neighbour is ok, go see them, take cake, give to your local food bank, pay for the persons hot chocolate behind you in the coffee shop. That extra bit of kindess and care is what Christmas is about and if I’m feeling overwhelmed with it all, I will sit back and think about that. Remember that if your house is messy, the gifts are small, you don’t get to every Christmas event at school or Auntie Noras not happy about you not having invited her round, that’s ok!!!!!

It’s ok because not doing those few small things isn’t going to ruin Christmas but it may help to keep you sane and less exhausted from it all, right? So don’t get your tinsel in a tangle this Christmas. Remember to take some time to be present and destress.

What are your top Christmas stresses? And how do you de-stress at this time of year?

Kaz 💕

Let me love you a little more……..

My kiddos…….. 🥰

This evening I will drive to the hustle of Cambridge station and pick up my son who is travelling home from Durham in the Northern reaches of England. I always look forward to him returning home. I can’t wait to give him a big hug and have a complete family together again. I’m not sure he feels quite the same way though about his mums hugs, kisses and insistence on knowing ALL about what he’s been up to!

He’s my 2nd child but the first to leave home and attend university. He is independent, able and totally self sufficient and no longer needs his mum, which I’m very proud of as when myself and his dad got together when he was not much older than our son is now, he didn’t have a clue how to cook, wash clothes or change a bed and to be honest, he still can’t. We have a running joke in this house that he can’t even fry an egg after an incident on a caravanning holiday a good few years ago now, where there was a few heated words because their dad was adamant he had no idea how to fry an egg!

Bringing up your child to be self sufficient is a parents job but at the same time when they use those skills to leave and live independently, a mothers heart can ache for those little hands holding hers, the arms that used to willingly wrap around her neck as they fell asleep, those chubby cheeks and those days when only she could fix any hurt and sadness with a listening ear,kind words, a hug and kiss.

Before your not little anymore……

As a mum of 3 children who are with me (and two angels), I know that I have felt this stage of my life where my children are growing up and not needing me as much is a time of reflection and reassessing. When being a mum is what you’ve always done and everything else has fit in around that, when that role becomes less time consuming it leaves gaps.

What do I do with those gaps?

I’m in the process of still figuring that out. It’s been a gradual discovery of different interests and passions. A few years ago I begun to think about my health and fitness and took up running, completing my first and only marathon to date in 2018 (not sure how i got round, but I’m proud of it!). My love of fitness, (which begun when I hit 40 by the way) has led me to also start a little side biz helping other women to work on their own health and fitness which Is really rewarding and a real passion of mine. More recently going back to things I used to love in my younger years like reading and writing (which is how this blog has come about) has also brung me such pleasure.

I’m still in a period of reassessing my life. Looking for the paths that seem like they’ll work for me but I keep reminding myself there’s no “right” path. There’s only the path I choose and enjoy and when that stops working, I’ll find another……

I’m not quite an empty nester. I still have a 10 year old daughter at home and my 17 year old son but those baby and toddler years are gone and at times I really miss them (I loved pregnancy and those early years) but having my first child at 18, I’m also excited for all the possibilities of what I can do with the next phase of my life that I haven’t been able to do as a mama of young children before.

Any mamas out there feeling this too? Are you pursuing new or old interests that had been forgotten? Or considering changes in your health? Fitness? Work?

It’s never too late to enjoy those things that make your heart sing. We are here for such a short time, go out there and do all the things……

Now is your time!

Kaz 💕

Taylor Swift – Never Grow Up

Go get her a lettuce leaf!!

Almost 2 months ago I watched a film called “ The Game Changers” that started me on a journey of discovery about the meat industry and what it’s doing to the environment, our health and the animals we eat themselves. This film talked mainly about the health benefits but it sparked my interest enough to lead me into doing more research into the topic and making a decision to see if I could convert to a mainly plant based diet.

I told myself I would do it slowly and if I struggled to find something vegan/plant based I’d have a bit of cheese or egg now and again. I already enjoyed vegetarian foods a lot but the omittance of cheese and eggs felt like a big endeavour. Well it turns out that I need not have been concerned as I found the whole process easier than I had anticipated. I already tried to meal prep and cook ahead, so I continued now with my vegan meals and because my family were not on this adventure with me, it meant I just made one meal for them each night and had a wealth of vegan choices ready for me to enjoy. I’ve loved the whole process and am now coming up to 8 weeks vegan with the only slip up being with wine but I’ve since discovered that my new vegan friendly drink of choice over this festive period will be is pink gin.

When I begun I told people I was trying a plant based diet because to me that indicates someone who is doing it more for health reasons. Then after further research and understanding the effects on the environment and many animals, I decided that I would now call myself vegan and make an effort to change all aspects of my life, not just my food.

Calling myself vegan though over the last two months has been pretty eyeopening. Its shown me how people have preconceived views of what type of person you are when you give yourself the vegan label. I think many times you are thought to be a hippie type, that eats lentils and has placards ready to campaign for animal right and the environment (not that there’s anything wrong with that but its definitely not me!)

Luckily it seems times are changing and their are so many more food products available now for the vegan market but there is still a slightly negative attitude towards people who decide to make a choice to live a vegan lifestyle. Why? As with many things I believe that any negative comments or opinions say more about the person expressing them than anything else. I would never start to question and make sarcastic comments about someone who ate meat. That’s their choice but many times it seems it’s fair play to do it the other way around.

You don’t have to agree with someone to like them or respect them and with election day being only yesterday too this rings even more true. Be kind and respectful of others for their views. You can be friends even if you eat differently or support different political parties.

So my transition to being Vegan from a practical point of view has been pretty smooth and I’ve discovered so many amazing dishes to try. This Christmas will be my first without eating Turkey and I’m excited to try a nut roast and alternative Christmas treats. Below are some winter warmer vegan meals that are guaranteed to go down well and I will let you know how my first vegan Christmas goes!

What will you be remembered for?

Yesterday on a cold and rainy day, up in the north of England, I attended the funeral of a wonderful woman who passed away at the ripe old age of 99.

Dorothy’s family gathered, to celebrate this amazing woman who was born during the depression and lived an amazing life. We spoke of our memories of her, everyone with their own stories. There was a consensus in everyone’s recollections, on the fantastic sense of humour, stubbornness and selflessness that made Dorothy the fantastic character that she was.

My memories of my auntie are not vast but my times with her were always fun. She was laid back and full of interest and concern for everyone else. Mostly I remember her smile that rarely left her.

During the service, the priest talked about the legacy of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that Dorothy has left behind and how so many friends and family had so many lovely things to say about her. He acknowledged the fact that this isn’t always the case.

The priest asked us to all think about what we would like people to say about us at our own funeral.

Would they talk about your kindness? Courage? Support of others? How you pursued the things you were passionate about? Chased your dreams? Lived your life how you wanted too, never being concerned of others opinions of you? Do you think your family and friends would have plenty of things to say?

In a discussion with my friend who is also in her 40’s we were both really feeling how fast our lives were speeding by. Both probably at best half way through our lives and something that my friend emphasised was that on our gravestones we will have two dates: our birth and death and a dash in between. The dash is what is important. What we did with that dash is what counts!

The last week has certainly given me lots to contemplate and highlighted the need for many of us to really live our lives how we want. Take the chances, do what scares you, live your life to the full because the only thing that is certain in this life is that we will all die.

RIP Auntie Dorothy. Have fun catching up with dad and Jermaine up there……… 💕

https://youtu.be/0B8d_3HemqY

A childhood of two halves

This week I received a message that I knew would arrive in the not too distant future, but that still left me feeling incredibly sad ,that my 99 year old auntie Dorothy had passed away. She was the last surviving sibling of my dads and it feels like my last blood related link to him. It got me thinking about my childhood with him which I always categorise in my mind in two parts, before my dad died up until I was 8 years old and after when life changed quite significantly.

What I remember of my early years and my dads presence are of a hard working, caring, strong viewed man who loved his family dearly. He was strict but fair and always there to help if you had a problem. My mum alongside him was not a rule maker. She Is a big softy with a huge heart and her parenting style was a lot more laid back. She didn’t like to see me upset or sad and would be upstairs, sneaking me biscuits and a drink when dad sent me to my room, if I misbehaved. An ex navy man, my dad worked as a carpenter in my younger years and always wore jeans for his very “hands on” work alongside a shirt with the sleeves rolled up,which I always thought was odd. He smoked roll ups and I can picture him with his green golden Virginia tobacco tin ,sitting cross legged, rolling out his cigarettes and the distinct smell it created. Its an aroma that always takes me back to those early years with my dad.

The first half of my childhood was settled, the balance of my dads authority and mums softness seemed to give me a fantastic childhood experience alongside my older sister who is 12 years my senior. Those years spent growing up on a council estate where everyone knew each other and there was a real community feel to the place, were what childhoods should be of. When I was 7 or 8 my dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer after ignoring worrying symptoms for a long time , like many men I’ve encountered in my life, he thought he was invincible. He then found himself in and out of hospital and lost a vast amount of weight, very quickly. We had a final family holiday and Christmas together and in the January he was admitted to hospital and never came home.

My dads passing happened without my knowledge. I remember visiting him in hospital, oxygen cylinders by his bed and feeling unsure about what was happening. I was often sent to the TV room at the end of the corridor as I was bored and restless or there were conversations happening that the grown ups didn’t want me to hear. Then one day I came home to a house full of family and friends. Having no idea why they were all there, it all felt very confusing but at 8 years old it never dawned on me what the reason maybe. Afterwards I was told it had been my dads funeral that day whilst I was at school. So the second half of my childhood was overshadowed by a recurring disappointment that I never really got to say a final goodbye to my dad and that stayed with me a lot in my teenage years and coloured how I dealt with death in my children’s lives as a parent.

After my dads death things changed. I no longer had that father figure who I wanted to please and who had strong boundaries set out. The things I’d never been allowed to do I was suddenly able to get done, which was exciting for me as a child! I got my ears pierced and cut off my long hair (which I regretted- you were right dad!). We also moved house. Things seemed to change fast and the lack of boundaries and more freedom meant I was able to do pretty much what I wanted and as a teenager I begun to realise that meant I was able to do things that looking back in hindsight were not my best decisions.

My memories of my dad are precious but as I grew they faded and talking to my auntie Dorothy who knew him for his whole life was magical to me. Hearing about his childhood growing up in Chiswick, London, their siblings, parents, his navy days and just what kind of a man he really was before he became my dad. Dorothy and my dad had a real fondess for one another and it showed when she lovingly recounted those family anecdotes and stories that were more precious to me than anything.

I like to think they are both together again now, laughing, reminiscing and recounting the wonderful lives they lived…………….

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