Think Pieces

Personal: a tribute to my dad

Posted on 5 min read

 

Following last year’s heartfelt blog post, I wasn’t going to bring my personal life into the shadows again but after my visit to the crematorium this afternoon, the placing of flowers, lighting of a sentimental candle, and the pattern of both sincere, humorous and emotional memories racing by, I thought I owed my Dad a reminder of his influence on me as a human being. He may not be on earth, it’s impossible for me to express my words face to face, but I believe he’s always around me, by my side and his spirit is kept alive by the forever gracing commemoration we share within the family. It’s those little signs that bring me comfort and I hope he realises just how much we still and always will care, and how his importance will never leave.

 

Today marks 6 years since I lost the most important man in my life. 6 years on and there’s still a huge hole missing from my life. My Dad passed away at midday on the 26th March 2009, with only my mum beside him. My mum arrived at the hospital, and ten minutes later he had slipped away with his hand in hers. To this day, I believe he waited for her. They met when they were teens and loved the bones of each other. Life’s unfortunate circumstances got in the way but that tenderness and attachment never left. She still has the letters he used to write to her, the ‘I’m sorry’ cards he sent when they’d argued, and we have dozens of photos and videos on hand to allow us to embrace the person he shaped us into and to never overlook those treasured times.

 

Dad, I miss you more than words can say.

I miss your dodgy haircuts, some of those bowl cuts you had as a kid were terrible.

I miss your annoying sense of humour, I kind of got used to you eating the left over, out of date crisps loudly in my ears and running off like a giggling child.

I miss your smelly feet, seriously sometimes the stench was unbearable.

I miss your love for Oasis, half of the time I thought Noel and Liam were part of the family.

I miss your awful jokes, and sometimes even inappropriate insults.

I miss those tellings off you used to get from mum, she definitely wore the trousers.

I miss your lack of technology knowledge, with how advanced it is now I often wonder how far you’d get until you’d needed my input.

I miss your all round weirdness, I think I inherited part of it.

I miss your funny walk, the head back, shoulders forward kind of strut.

I miss your perspective, your way of thinking and acting was always so laid back.

I miss your voice, I’d do anything to hear it in front of me again.

I miss your energy, you were just a big ball of fun.

I miss your dressing up, you putting on a man-thong at Christmas time still makes me laugh.

I miss your guidance, you taught me some of life’s most valued lessons.

I miss our activity filled quality time together, those bike rides, sledging in the snow and having breakfast out every Saturday morning.

I miss your homemade meals, you were a brilliant cook.

I miss your dedication to your hometown, I don’t think there was ever a time you didn’t boast about the typical Yorkshire man you were.

I miss those piles of hard back shiny paper you used to struggle to bring home from work just so we had enough to keep our colouring in on board.

I miss those daddy-daughter moments that no one else but you will ever get.

I miss your patience, I know I must have caused you some stress growing up yet you always filled my aura with happiness.

I miss your courage, you admitted your failures, you pleaded with your problems, and you were the strongest, bravest man right until your last breath.

I miss your hard work, you tried and tried till you could try no more and for that, I appreciate.

I miss your security and your care, you provided everything we ever needed, from your love, to those beloved Barbie dolls I begged you for.

I miss your passion, you held me in your arms and wept when I was born and that devotion carried on during the days we spent together.

I miss not looking further into your side of life, it’s not until I’ve grown older that I understand how tough it was for you.

I miss your input, you did the best for us and I know that.

I miss your excitement, you absolutely loved being around us and making and capturing memories.

I miss those hugs, the crippling kind with your massive shoulders.

I miss your wisdom and integrity, that legacy will always live on.

I miss the fact you’ll never be able to walk me down the aisle, that realisation hurts the most.

I miss your presence completely, you’ll always be my king.

 

As anniversaries come back around, the ache in my heart returns. I can feel the emptiness in the air and sometimes it’s hard to find the suitable words to speak and to bring comfort. It’s grasping that awareness of what we once knew, being hit in the face with the realisation that we won’t see you again until it’s our turn to fly and that’s when you discover that even the most trivial things were the ones that mattered. I want you back where you belong, I wish I could turn back time but then I have to think of what you needed. You needed peace, relief and freedom and maybe, hopefully, you are in a better place. Heaven stole your body but your soul will forever be preserved. Those flickers of light, gentle, cold breezes and formed hearts I receive from time to time are little reminders you’re still here so please don’t ever stop sending the signals down.

 

Dad, you fragranced my life with emotion, joy and even annoyance but your time on earth gave me an insight as to why you need to cherish every living moment with your father.

 

You’re gone but never ever forgotten and will be kept close to my heart for eternity. I’m tired of being sad, let’s celebrate your life instead.

 

Lots of love always, Bridie x

Share

The Sunday Natter: 35 little things that make me happy

Posted on 3 min read

 

Supposedly, last Friday was International Day of Happiness yet I woke up feeling down in the dumps, all horrible and panicky and I definitely didn’t feel like a room without a roof. It wasn’t until later on, when I was sat chatting with my grandma with a hot chocolate and some peanut M&M’s in her luxury conservatory with huge windows and one hell of a view, the sky turning from cloudy to a fiery orange as the sun set, that I gave my head a shake and thought actually, there’s so many small reasons why I shouldn’t be seizing the savours. Just sat here, enjoying some quality time, being fed and made comfortable by the one woman who loves being in my company and would do anything to maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle for me is a solid reason I should be turning that frown upside down. Outweighing the negative with positive is something I’m trying to do more of because I believe reminding yourself of the small pursuits that bring pleasure and satisfaction to both your mood and your general well being are sure to transform you from a pessimist to an optimist. In aid of International Happiness Day (despite it being two days late) I made my own list of life’s simple enjoyments.

 

35 things that make me happy:

1) Fresh flowers on a spring day.

2) Waking up and realising you still have hours left to sleep.

3) Stepping off a plane into the holiday heat.

4) Finding an item of clothing that looks just as good on you as it did on the model.

5) Getting lost in a good book.

6) Getting into the car just as my favourite song comes on.

7) Seeing my family smile.

8) When people prove they do care.

9) Having a good hair, makeup and brow day.

10) A lazy day filled with Disney films, chocolate and duvets.

11) Road trips to the seaside.

12) Fresh, white interior.

13) Food. Especially the indulgent junk kind I shouldn’t really be eating.

14) Those long chats which end in plenty of laughs and hugs.

15) Reminiscing on old memories and remembering the special times.

16) Beautiful photography and discovering new places which enable the chance to snap some beauties.

17) Being carefree, having those moments where you let life slip through your fingers.

18) Friendly strangers going out of their way to help you.

19) Receiving mail directly addressed to me.

20) Accidentally hearing someone say something nice about me.

21) When someone messages me first because I know they were thinking about me.

22) The sound of a child’s laughter and the other comical stories a 4 year old can tell you.

23) Planning outfits for an occasion.

24) New lipstick.

25) Being proud of who I am, telling myself I am worthy.

26) Making people feel better.

27) Knowing the answer to a question instantly.

28) A candle lit bath.

29) Changing into pyjamas after a busy day.

30) Thinking of a creative idea and getting down dirty making it happen.

31) Live music.

32) The atmposphere when the lights drop at a gig.

33) Having an anxiety free day.

34) That instant connection you have when you meet people for the first time which makes you question why you were ever without them.

35) Alexa Chung and her babing sense of style.

 

What makes you happy?

 

Bridie x

Share

The Sunday Natter: A letter to my Mum

Posted on 4 min read

 

Dear Mum,

 

It’s hard to put down in words just how much you mean to me but I thought I owed you a letter of gratitude. I never tell you enough just how amazing you are and what better day to show your importance than Mother’s Day, one day of the year we have this special opportunity to give back to the one person who’s given us the world.

 

I’m so lucky to share such an honest, close relationship with you. You’re my mother, my confidant, my partner in impromptu activities and most of all, my best friend. We laugh together, cry together, occasionally argue like cat and dog, but have now learnt to deal with each other’s antics. You’re the one I know will always be there when I need a shoulder to cry on, when I need a reality check, and when I have a moment of madness. You have the first instinct, can always tell when the wrong decision has been made and no matter what the situation, you’re always right. After all, Mum knows best. 

 

You are the strongest woman I know. You’ve birthed me, cared for me, taught me life values; you’ve stayed up till the early hours comforting me, brought me breakfast in bed when I’m sick (and even when I’m not sick), been my source of advice and listened, to whatever concerns or general conversation we’ve brought upon you. You understand and lend me a hand. You’ve encouraged me to reach my dreams. You’ve allowed me to grow up without the stigmatic pressure. You told me the truth yet let me be and helped me find myself, whilst accepting every decision made. Thank you for always believing in me and being by my side through the good times and the bad.

 

Your constant and continued support is the reason I am who I am today. Everything you do is for us. You’ve worked to provide us with everything we need, as well as the treats we sometimes didn’t deserve, even if that meant sacrificing your own needs. I’m sorry for the bratty behaviour and non-listening attitude we’ve trampled you with over the years. There’s times I’ve been a total brat yet you still chose to forgive me and love me eternally. The stress, the worries, the sleepless nights, I know you only shout because you care. You tell me I won’t know how it feels until I have my own children and I say, if I could be half the mum you are when I become a mother, then I’d be happy.

 

For the past 12 years, you’ve taken on the role of being my mum and my dad and you’ve still managed to raise us both with dignity and respect. It can’t have been easy losing your husband, dealing with the negative effects of grief, and on top of that coping with my illnesses and the loss of your own dad. Life has been difficult, there’s been struggles and collapses and there have been times we’ve both felt like giving up. It can’t have been easy, it has been hard to deal with but you did it and we’ve all come through the tough problems because of you. You’ve been with me every step of the way. You’ve held it together for us, you placed the broken pieces back in its jigsaw to make sure we were complete. You’ve always made me feel needed and have always been there to remind me of my worth. You’re a constant source of inspiration and motivation, and your devoted essence alone makes me a wiser, stronger, better person. All it takes is one of your hugs and one of our late night chats to make everything okay again.

 

There’s nothing that makes me prouder than to call you my mum. Your unconditional love and friendship is irreplaceable. The only person I truly trust in life is you and I’m so blessed to have you. You’re one of a kind, my rock, my number one, and my kick in the teeth when I require it. I hope you know I’ll always be there by your side. Even when you’re old and grey, I’ll join you in a joint mobility scooter and we’ll go shopping, bust some moves, eat till we pop, and swoon over the newest blue eyed, dark haired a-list celeb.

 

Thank you for being you. Your beautiful heart has meant we’ve had many treasures and cherished memories to keep locked safe forever and spending every living day in your presence means those memories will just keep on developing.

 

I love you, Mum. Always.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beloved Mum’s out there! 

 

Bridie x

Share

The Sunday Natter: why body shaming needs to stop

Posted on 4 min read

 

I don’t usually touch on subjects like this but when something’s on my mind, I always feel the need to express my erratic thoughts and what better place than my blog on a Sunday Natter day? The idea of this topic was promoted by a controversial hashtag floating around Twitter on Friday. I’m pretty certain the majority of you already know what I’m talking about, but if not then I’ll give you a brief insight. #SkinnyBirdWatching was a highly inappropriate move by Taking Shape, thinking spotting ‘size 6 non average for a model girls’ at London Fashion Week would be an inoffensive and acceptable idea. How wrong they were. I really don’t understand how you can promote size positivity, whilst slating and humiliating the opposite, smaller body type. Putting down a range of size and shapes to praise another is not the way forward. Negative commenting on how ‘awfully skinny’ a person is, is just as bad as upsetting a person for their heavier weight. They are equally offensive. There is no right or wrong shape. We were all born and built differently and that’s why the world is so diverse, because we’re all unique and have individual qualities.

 

Unfortunately, we do live in a generation where there is a standard definition of beauty. Browsing at the online catalogue models, walking past Victoria Secret adverts and making note of the catwalks, you’ll realise there’s one certain look that is supposed to represent everyone. We all know that’s wrong but that’s just how it works and that’s why we need to support each other more than ever. Us women already deal with enough pressure by the media and the hostile reality, we don’t need resentfulness added to the list. I’m certainly no where near self-assured about my appearance which is why I feel so strongly about women sticking together and working towards building confidence instead of unnecessarily demeaning each other. What’s worse is, people don’t even realise they’re doing it. We do live in a beauty obsessed era but we also live in 2015, filled with ever developing attitudes, and thinking you are correct in believing one certain size should be the focus means you need to open your eyes, and quickly.

 

You are not defined by a number. Whether you’re a size 6 or a 26, I don’t see how it matters or makes any difference to who you are. It’s okay to be super slim, it’s okay to be curvy, by god it’s okay to be any formation you want to be. If you want to make changes and decisions for your own benefit, go ahead and if you want to stay the same, you carry on doing that. As long as you’re happy in your own skin, you go strutting past that mirror with your head held high. There is no such thing as normal, there is no clarification of the word normal. You can’t judge someone based upon this. Everyone has a personal preference and let’s be honest, life would be a dull place if everybody was the same. If there’s one term I absolutely hate, it’s the ‘real women’ logic. I’m sorry, but who gives instructions on what should be included in the recipe of a woman? There’s no rules for that. More importantly, how can you destroy someone’s perception of themselves by what you think is ideal on the outside? There is so much more to a person than their size, weight and appearance and that doesn’t take away the other beautiful traits they may carry. I hate the fact we feel the need to put labels on people. Whether you’re smaller or larger, it doesn’t make you any less of an attractive person, especially when seen from the eyes of others. Being forced upon to look a certain way is not suitable for someone’s well being. Body shaming in both directions does no justice to confidence whatsoever. It doesn’t make someone feel better stating their size is rated higher than the other and it’s not fair that we should be categorised this way.

 

Not every weight is medically healthy, I know. Being both severely underweight and overweight can be dangerous but that doesn’t instantly mean you can point a finger and shame someone for what they look like. There may be underlining issues, a reasoning for it, or they may just be simply, naturally made this way. Your insults and snide comments will get you nowhere in life and can affect a person much more than you think. Tell me this; would someone receive optimism from a statement of ‘only a dog goes for bones’/’promoting bigger bodies is not a good thing’ or would they be more satisfied with the point that, whatever our size, we are all important and empowering and deserve to be comfortable in our own skin? I read somewhere that society will do everything in its power to convince you that your personal happiness is dependent from something external and it’s so true but this isn’t the case. Making the conscious decision to be happy and to pass a casual compliment on a daily basis will make you and the receiver feel better, for sure. Always be nice to yourself and be nice to others, you’ll get so much more out of life. That’s my motto.

 

What are your thoughts regarding this situation?

 

Bridie x

Share

Five years today, Dad

Posted on 8 min read

A bit of a different post today. Not one that fits in with my blog but one I felt I needed to get out there. Today marks five years since I lost my wonderful, courageous Dad. As every single year passes by, it still doesn’t seem like he’s gone. I still expect him knocking at the door, shouting through the letter box in a silly high pitched voice and winding us up to the point of being chased around the house like a naughty child. There’s not a day goes by where he’s not thought about, we always make sure we remember and reminisce the good times and even the bad. He’s always in our hearts and minds and we miss him more every minute, especially when an anniversary or a birthday comes around; that ache in my chest returns, moments occur when I think ‘if only my Dad was here to see this’ and the signs he’s still around watching over us are brought back to the surface.

 

However, that’s not all I wanted to say on a day like today. I wanted to talk about grief and the impact is has on an individual. Everybody is different and deals with it in a number of ways; whether this be sadness, anger, guilt, or even the inability to show your emotions. There’s no right or wrong way to deal with it but finding healthy coping mechanisms is extremely beneficial to your well being. I thought briefly sharing my experience and giving out my advice based on how I dealt with it, may help others who are feeling the same way or who are dealing with some of the same issues.

 

Never did I think 5 years ago I’d be in the position I am now. The pain, loss, anxiety and depression (which is another story I may talk about in the future when I am comfortable doing so) took over my life and I never thought I’d be able to let these emotions go. Realistically, it’s possible to get better and move on to a more positive state of mind. The heart wrenching feeling of knowing your loved one is gone never really goes away and can strike you hard again at any time throughout your time on earth but it does get easier and changing your mindset into something new is a strategy which is important to develop as soon as those first few weeks, even months of overwhelming sorrow seem to be slowing down.

 

As I said, each personal situation is different. The general stages of grief seem to be the initial shock and numbness, which then leads on to realisation and acceptance, the heightened sadness and then the other emotions that follow. Some people may not necessarily go through this, some may last longer. You need to remember it’s okay to feel this way as a huge change/loss has just happened and it’s your body’s way of reacting. It is new to you and the healing process is bound to take time, it takes patience and you need to allow yourself time to face your grief and let yourself unravel.  For me, my Dad’s death never really hit me until the funeral. The day after that was the start of a drastic suffering when I experienced my worst panic attack to date. I don’t feel like I need to go into detail about how this then lead on to greater troubles but in general it did prevent me from living a robust life. My anxiety and depression grew stronger, I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t go to school and had to be more or less dragged there. It was my final year of school and at the time when my GCSE’s were taking part which had a negatively marked impression on the end result. It affected my relationships and my self confidence. I began obsessively thinking that everybody was judging me, my behaviour became aggressive towards my close friends and family due to my thoughts on their lack of understanding. I was unable to partake in any ordinary routine, I felt numb and disconnected and I blamed others, comparing people’s illnesses with my Dad’s thinking ‘how are they still here, why did it have to happen to my Dad’. Looking back, it felt as though I was in a never ending maze but with the support and guidance I needed, I managed to pick myself up and start coming to terms with reality.

 

It is highly important to know the difference between normal and abnormal. I think it was so easy for me to put my entire feelings down to grief instead of looking at the bigger picture which therefore didn’t help at all. If in the long run, your feelings are having an effect on your everyday life, they don’t seem to be becoming less intense and it becomes serious, it’s important to consider seeking help. I was eventually persuaded to see a bereavement counsellor and a cognitive behavioural therapist for my anxiety and I definitely think it was the correct decision to make. It doesn’t just give you that chance to express and discuss your emotions, you are taught ways and means of dealing with grief and ways of looking back on memories and smiling instead of sinking into the darkness. I learnt that being around your current loved ones is a must, together your strength will benefit each other. Don’t be afraid about talking about your lost one, don’t think you have to keep your thoughts to yourself, open up your heart and surround yourself with the ones you need the most. Having a good cry can help enormous amounts, showing your true feelings and crying together can help your friends and family in overcoming their grief too. Whatever you do, don’t hide away. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak and not crying doesn’t mean you don’t care; it just simply means everyone has their own ways of airing their feelings.

Another thing I was frightened of doing was making the light of the situation. I didn’t feel as though I should look back on a memory, laugh and feel enlightened. This isn’t wrong, it’s important to go along with every feeling whether that be positive or negative and let go of each one when you’re ready. I found out that it’s nice to celebrate your loved one’s life and all the treasured keepsake moments, although it’s normal to feel guilty, it’s going to have a gloomy impact on your mind if you don’t allow yourself to turn the situation around and think about the worthy characteristics. Something I found kept cropping up in my time of grief was the regrets and ‘what ifs’, what if we’d done more to prevent my Dad’s death? We should have been there more than we should etc etc. The truth is, nobody can change what’s happened. If you are dwelling on the changes you wish had occurred, you won’t be able to step into the future and you will be tormenting yourself further. Think of it this way, your loved one would not want to see you that way and would never ever put the blame on you.

Expressing your feelings in a tangible way is something I took advice from on a day to day basis. Being creative can not only take your mind off things but it also feels like you are giving something back to your loved one. My shrine I could take myself to everyday was a small memorial garden we planted in the back garden with monumental ornaments and objects that summed up my Dad’s personality. You can add a personal touch to it too for e.g. we placed plants in a pair of his trainers and placed his favourite football team’s scarf around the tree. It doesn’t always have to be something as big as this, it could be a simple diary or journal to mark down how you feel about your loss and how important your loss was to you. It could be a photo scrapbook of all the memories you have shared throughout the years, or it could even be a letter you write to your loved one saying everything you wished you had said and what you could say (which may also be a huge help with your anger and self blame). Just because they’re not here anymore does not mean they’re not there with you, it’s always lovely to still carry them along on this journey.

As anniversaries, milestones, holidays, events or birthdays approach it can and most probably will reawaken your grief. Be aware of this, and once again do not think you are immoral or are having to cope all over again. You may be taken through another emotional rollercoaster but where there’s one step back, there’s always another step forward. Taking it back to sharing your feelings with family and friends, this is the main solution. You may notice that you want to talk about your loved one more around this time than any usual day so go ahead and do it. Agree on plans to honour your loved one, you could go out together to partake in something they loved or even go out for a meal to celebrate your loved ones life. You could visit their place of rest together to pay your tributes and enjoy the special time spent there. A walk in the fresh air is extremely advantageous when you feel as though you’re taking on the world and want to let go. Something my family always do is take a picture of our lost loved ones out whenever we go and keep pictures of them in the car, in our purse, on our keys and so on. This is a gesture that gives you back that connection to your loved one. If you feel comfortable and able to bear the images and reminders of your loved one around you, you may find this is helpful in the healing process.

It is extremely important to look after and not neglect yourself when going through grief. It’s so easy to let yourself slip which is why having a healthy lifestyle will keep you at bay. Keeping active, getting enough sleep, eating correctly and exercising will not only release your emotion but keep a steady balance of control. Blocking out the pain using other methods isn’t the way to go and I do think if you are feeling this way, it’s important to contact your GP or any other professional help you may need. However, this is the last resort. In time, you will hopefully find communicating and symbolizing how you feel to the closest support around you will ease your pain. Don’t let anybody tell you how you should feel but give out clear details on what you are enduring and in return, listen to each other, give out advice to each other and be there for each other. Like me, sometimes you may feel that being alone is what you prefer to do. This is fine, as long as you don’t bottle up your emotions until the point of exploding. Taking a break and escaping through the power of others or even your own suitable decisions is something you must focus on throughout your period of grief and years on into the future.

I hope what I’ve discussed here is or will be helpful to someone who is faced with grief and has no idea what will occur after the passing of their loved one. The mixed emotions can often seem overwhelming but by taking it a step at a time, continuing to involve your lost loved one in your life, and seeking the love and guidance of others, you will find improvement and will therefore help you find settlement.

Share