Making Memories

Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.

~ Mattie Stepanek (b.July 17, 1990 – d.June 22, 2004)

Did you notice the dates in the quote above? They are such wise words for one so very young.

Do you ever wonder how your memories would replay in a movie of your life? I do. As I age (gracefully?) and particularly at this time of year my mind goes into overdrive, my life is divided into two sections – before my father’s death and after his death. It is this massive marker of when my life changed. There are times when I think everything in my life was good before that date and everything since has been awful.

But the evidence doesn’t hold up that statement, I had a serious road accident when I was 15 which was pretty bad and definitely happened in the pre 2004 section. I met & later fell in love with a wonderful man in 2006 and that is clearly in the post 2004 section. I just think that at times we are very selective with our memories.

For instance, I really struggle to recall good times in my marriage, yet I know they are there somewhere they have just been buried under all the rubbish and hurt of the last 10 years.

One of the most therapeutic things I have done over the last few years was to compile a book for my daughter’s 18th birthday. Collaborating on the book with our family and her friends, mentors and teachers made me see that despite many challenges I had made quite a good job of bringing her up. My attitude to myself as a parent changed a little from then on and I have more confidence in myself now (as a mother) and I think as a family unit we all benefit from that now.

Making memoriesThis whole blog has been about my thoughts, memories and keepsakes, hoping not to inspire others but to inspire myself to hope, build from the past and in turn, bridge to the future.

18th October 2004 (father’s death), 18th October 2006 (met my previous partner), 18th October 2015 (mind your own business) all have special significance to me and for very different reasons; do you think it strange that one particular date can have such significance? Who knows!

So here’s a bit of news for you…

I have met someone who I hope I am going to move forward with and build bridges to the future. The future could be as short as tomorrow or as long as forever but nobody can possibly tell. I know for sure that making memories is so incredibly important and that with every moment that passes we have far less time in front of us than behind us. So with that in mind we (yes WE) made a conscious effort, put our heads together and have drawn up a plan for memory building.

Would you like to see it?

To build memories we should…*

…Climb a tall hill

…Sleep under the stars

…Skinny dip in the sea

…Bake a cake

…Ride a tandem

…Fly a kite

…Choose each other’s clothes for an evening out

…Plant a tree

…Build a snowman

…Have a picnic in a field &/or in a wood

…Make a sandcastle

…Paint each other

…Row a boat on the Thames

…Visit one castle/stately home every month for a year
#1 Corfe Castle 12th December 2015

#2 Hurst Castle 17th January 2016

#3 Bishop’s Waltham Palace 14th February 2016

#4 Old Sarum 6th March 2016

#5 Kingston Lacy & Badbury Rings 30th April 2016

#6 Maiden Castle & The Nine Stones 29th May 2016

#7 Wolvesey Castle 25th June 2016

#8 Porchester Castle 3rd July 2016

#9 Stourhead 23rd August 2016

#10 Southsea Castle 24th September 2016

#11 Old Wardour Castle 22nd October 2016

#12 Mottisfont Abbey 26th November 2016

…Make a bucket list

…Kiss in a haystack

…Collect Sea Glass whenever we can

…Share a shower

…Plan & go on a holiday

…Go for a ride in a horse and carriage

…Visit Scotland

…See the Northern Lights

…Kiss passionately on a beach at sunrise &/or sunset

…Visit Lake Como

…Volunteer

Share a hot tub 9th July 2016

Share an ice cream 7th November 2015

Visit Stonehenge 23rd January 2016

…Go to a Rugby match

…Have a go at stone balancing – I tried & succeeded on 23rd January, the challenge is ON!

…Complete a jigsaw together (1000+ pieces)

…Design a dream home

…Create a playlist that we both love

Kiss under mistletoe 24th, 25th & 26th December 2015

…Create a memory book/blog/photo album

…Write a love letter to each other

…Go star gazing

…Go to the ballet

…Have a snowball fight

Take a selfie 31st October 2015, this has developed into Selfie on a Bridge (wherever in the world we are).

…Have afternoon tea

…Visit a European city that neither of us have visited before

…Grow vegetables to eat

…Spend the whole day in bed

…Do a fire walk

…Learn a circus trick

…Play Twister

Go for a bike ride 24th January 2016

Play a board game 28th November 2015

…Watch each other’s favourite film

…See a musical

…Kiss in the pouring rain

…Pick Strawberries

…Visit a temple

…Redesign the garden

Revisit the bench in the garden at Mottisfont 31st October 2015

…Make Elderflower Cordial (this looks like a good recipe)

…Write our Wedding vows

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A bridge to the future ~ Sept 2015

*All this has been compiled and shared with the kind permission of Mr Bojangles and some of it you will recognise from my own Bucket List.

Never the Same Love Twice…

…or Jane & the Mr Men

It has been over two months now since I re-embarked on my internet dating adventure and I thought that some of you might appreciate an update.

At first it was hell.

Then it got better.

Then it got worse.

Then it improved and so on…

I have definitely come to realise that I am in a good place to start a new relationship, unlike some of the people who I have either communicated with or met. I’m not really surprised though, I spent a great deal of time preparing myself and working out my motives and being sure. I loved, that is true. I can love again, that is also true.Never the same love twice

I have been very honest about my past. It’s not something that I can change, nor do I want to. I am very aware of the fact that it is pretty unusual. In every case, if meeting up with a prospective date was a probability, I have shared my blog with them. In the first instance, it wasn’t intended that I would do that, but the questions posed to me naturally led me to take that step. As it turns out, I think it has served me well.

Some have said “will you write about me” and I thought (out loud sometimes), “don’t flatter yourself” and yet here I am. To be fair in the interest of your boredom some identities have been merged…

Mr Axe Murderer– had a great profile, lovely photographs, wrote charming emails at first, and apparently had strong family values. BE WARNED, not everything is as it seems. As communication progressed there were tiny little alarm bells going off in my head and all to do with the unusual grammar being used. Anyway, I shared my blog- after all it’s out there anyway- but I used a unique bitly link. I’m glad I did. He had already told me that he was in the forces and posted abroad, fair enough I thought. But when the link I sent was accessed it wasn’t from the same country where he had said he was. Not even close. The moral of this story is ALWAYS trust your intuition!

Mr Pervert– enough said. I’m not a prude, but I have had my education expanded.

Mr Rude– If I am not ready to answer a question then I will say just that. Patience as well as honesty is key as far as I am concerned. Don’t tell me I am stupid though.

Mr Unfaithful– Yep, not all people looking for a date are single.

On the plus side I have been out more in the last couple of months than I probably have in the last three years. I have been treated nicely, I have enjoyed male company, and I have felt feminine again. But not with any of the Mr Men mentioned above!

In the wise words of Lisa Arends (Lessons from the End of a Marriage); A first date is an interview for a second date, not an interview for a marriage and don’t take rejection personally!

Onwards!

Is it Like Riding a Bicycle?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am having another attempt at internet dating. It worked for me once before so I assume in my more optimistic moods that it can work again.

Initially a new profile on a dating site (particularly the one that I first tried) is bombarded with what I can only liken to a ‘new meat’ type feeding frenzy. To start with, before I changed sites, I was weeding out the daily onslaught of suitable matches using the following criteria:

  • too young- I mean REALLY young, I was certainly old enough to be their mother, apparently that’s a thing!
  • too old- I have challenge with my upper age limit because my stepfather is not that much older than me, so I don’t really fancy a date or a partner older than him.
  • Cross dresser- nope, not for me.
  • Kinky- as in ‘can you send me a photo of your *insert word here*?’
  • Potential axe murderers.
  • and yes, even “married but available”- these ones I would like to string up by their you know whats!
  • No communication skills whatsoever- I mean zero. How am I supposed to respond to a message that just says ‘Hiya’?
  • Blatant lies on profile.
  • Too many dog photos- dogs are fine by the way; I just don’t want to date one!
  • Too many action man photos.
  • Too many photos in speedos.

I could go on. Do you think I am being too fussy?

My two basic criteria still stand; I want a man who is nice to me and who smells good!

The Bucket List

bucket listImpossible

noun

informal

noun: bucket list; plural noun: bucket lists

definition ~ a number of experiences or achievements that I hope to have or accomplish during my lifetime.

In no particular order to be added to, edited, and even deleted as and when the inclination takes me.

#1 Pay full ticket price to watch my daughter perform professionally: And I want to keep the ticket framed.

#2 Visit Scotland: This needs to happen for so many reasons some of them deeply personal. I’d also like to meet up with some special quines who have supported me, made me laugh, and generally been awesome friends.

#3 Sign up for that counselling course: It’s been on the bucket list in my head for a while now. To do this I need to have 3 hours free one evening per week. Not easy as a single mum, but I will get there.

#4 See the Northern Lights: I have actually done this, but out of a plane window on the way back from New York so I don’t think it really counts.

#5 Kiss *name unknown as yet* deeply and passionately on the beach at sunrise or sunset: Situation vacant.

#6 Visit Lake Como: It’s a George Clooney thing.

#7 Go white water rafting: My son didn’t believe me when I said I wanted to do this. I intend to show him that I mean business! Achieved August 2015

#8 Be taken out for Afternoon Tea: I feel that it is really unjust that I have wanted to do this for AGES and then my daughter goes and does it first. Without me *stamps feet in petulant fashion*.

#9 Visit Stonehenge: My Dad took me when I was a child, but we couldn’t afford to pay to go in so we had to look from afar. Achieved January 2016

Balancing_Land_Art_by_Michael_Grab_5#10 Have a go at Stone Balancing: For no particular reason. Most of all I would like to do this with the friend I refer to in Pebbles. Achieved January 2016

To be continued…

What’s Your Social Story?

Social Media Cans

If you have any contact with a child with Autism you will be all to familiar with the term Social Story, but that’s not really what this post is about. However, these days, we all have a social story of a very different kind. The story that we set out to show the world via Social Media.

The end of my marriage coincidentally was the beginning of my social media story. It all began when my daughter wanted to have a Facebook account. The only way I felt comfortable enough to let her do that was by having one myself and ensuring that I had access to her password and could monitor and close the account down should I feel that it was ever being used inappropriately.

I quite like Facebook, or possibly did like Facebook. Life as a single parent is pretty isolating at times and more so when you have a child with additional needs and also have very little money for babysitters. It means you don’t get out much! Facebook was useful for keeping a virtual eye on teenage habits (the trick is to watch & not comment) it also enabled me to keep in touch with friends, some who lived many miles away and some who lived in different countries altogether. What I hated was the teenage idea that more Facebook friends meant that you were more popular.

I “cull” my Facebook account quite regularly, it might seem harsh to de-friend people, but if they are just there sitting on the periphery of my life and have no interest in interacting with me what’s the point? It’s the equivalent of the friend that never responds to your invites and doesn’t call you back. There comes a point where you have to let them go.

Linkedin is another social media site where I have had quite a lot of experience. I was asked by a friend to work with her on a project on Linkedin. It involved me working from home (perfect for childcare) and coincided with me needing to change my job from a well paid role with an IT company where I was so desperately torn between my new (sole earner) family responsibilities and my children’s needs for a more present, calmer mother. I’d also has a spate of illness which ended in me needing an emergency operation. Ill health focuses the mind to what really matters! Working from home it was then.

It was perfect timing, I was able to regroup my family, recover and work evenings. I grew a Linkedin Group from 1800 members to nearly 18000 in just under two years. I knew very little about the field that I was working in, but I did know how to talk to people and encourage conversations. Social Media conversations do not start themselves. You have to be present and you have to put the effort in. Just like in real life.

Jumping forward to the point where my son wanted a Facebook account, I considered that I was quite savvy in the world of social media. WRONG! This is the point where I became more wary of social media. Whilst any social interaction for a child with autism is seen as a step forward the pitfalls are so exaggerated. Bullying is more rife than in the real world as people are somehow braver (or more stupid?) sitting behind a keypad, keyboard or touch screen. It reinforces my instinctive belief that you  have to be a part of your child’s online activity. I have deleted content, blocked and reported (to the police at one point) a great deal of vile content from his Facebook. It’s very clear that many parents do not have a clue what their children are up to on social media. Yet it remains a valuable means of communication for any teenager in this world today.

My relationship with Facebook is love/hate. I love seeing updates from friends (real friends), I enjoy feeling that we are still ‘connected’. I hate a great deal of the ridiculous stories that get shared about on this forum and I mostly hate that children are not monitored in their online activities.

So what about Twitter? I find myself with a relatively new Twitter account mostly because said daughter has fallen out with Facebook and defected to Twitter, she has also moved away from home and it’s a nice way to touch base with her daily life and occasional rants. More than that though, I have found that I am in a odd place myself.

My long term relationship seems to have ended, my children are older and I am craving the company of like minded people. I know that I need to ‘get back out there’ but I am not really ready YET. At the moment  I am enjoying ‘meeting’ new people on Twitter. Sharing parts of my life that I have, until now, kept really private and finding out that my story, not just my social media story, resonates with others. I feel safer sharing some of my experiences with people who otherwise don’t know me but I also value the human interaction that has been missing in my life.

I am being myself and being totally up front and honest about who I am, with a view to learning that despite some challenges along the way, I know that I need to steer my story nearer to where I would like it to be.

 

Moving On or Moving Forward?

Is moving forward the same as moving on? I don’t think so. Moving on seems more final.

On Valentine’s Day 2014 I took off his ring. It was given to me “for love and commitment”. The memory of the day he gave it to me is one that I treasure and one that I do not want to forget. We had a discussion about what finger I would wear it on, I know that he was pleased that I chose to wear it on my ring finger, left hand. That was a definite moving on moment. Moving on from the past of a painful divorce.

I do not want to forget. I do not want to feel unfaithful. I do not want to feel that I have let him down.

I took off his ring, not because I wanted to move on, but because I wanted to move forward.

Moving forward is hard, because I always have the “What if?” questions in the back of my mind.

What if he is still alive?

What if he just turns up one day and I have moved on?

I would rather just move forward, day by day. This is my choice.

Moving On