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Report-age

You probably know I am in the throes of a massive house and life move….surrounded by packing cases, bags for the charity and mounds of laundry, I am contemplating life choices. Walk with me a while…

Apart from the obvious catalysts for these reflections, I came across my old school reports this week as I delved into hidden crevices and cupboards. Now some might cringe at those old, monochrome, unfocused snaps of our pre digital selves. No filters or finessing here. But me? I love them. I love trying to piece together the family history, match faces with legendary stories passed around at long ago family parties. And so, as I read the reports I noticed a strong pattern emerging. I was consistently praised for, encouraged to do and generally surpassed expectations in creative writing and art. And yet, I ended up studying maths, physics and chemistry ‘a’ levels along side art. And then I studied for a physics degree and THEN became a tax advisor.

I never lost my thirst for creativity, I just rechanneled it from oils, charcoal and inks into legislation, management processes and quantum mechanics. Whenever there was a received wisdom, I challenged it, turning it in its head, picking apart. While this was definitely very interesting and engaging, it didn’t always pay off professionally when the majority of my colleagues couldn’t see the point (for which read fee earning potential) of my explorations. But then….sometimes it takes a while for new ideas to bed down. I had a cohort of fellow early adopters and many of them now, years later, are reaping the benefit of being a forefront of a new development or idea. Me? I made the fatal mistake of not sticking around….I went on to the next creative opportunity, and then the next and the next. A personal choice not to stay to ‘farm’ that which I had hunted down. No wonder I look one proudly when my cat plays happily for hours chasing moths and other winged creatures only to give up with noted disgust when they are finally caught and stilled.

But back to that schoolgirl. Why did I go down the science route? Why did I not follow the creative? I remember trying to decide between physics and design. I Chose the challenge. I always have. And I am now going to be embarking on the biggest challenge of my life. A good choice but difficult. Perhaps i need to study my reports’ advice some more…

Knowledge 2

So it’s taken me a while (but what’s new) but here is my second instalment of my diagnosis story. First instalment can be found here.

So there I was, holding down a high powered job, crossing the globe advising multinationals at board level about their tax governance etc etc,  looking after two small boys, trying to  keep domestic arrangements (for which read tidiness, cleaning etc I wasn’t allowed access to household finances but thats another post at some point) on an even keel, be sociable with friends and family and have a decent  relationship with my husband. And deal with the head f~#k that is early onset parkinsons. And my father died.

Eventually I was given an appointment with a clinical psychologist as part of the ‘you have parkinsons’ package. She asked me what I did. As I listed all my activities she m said quietly, that’s a very full plate and you haven’t even said you are a mother.   And she was right. I was so bombed I hadn’t even considered it. Even tho my boys are my world. And then she said something that with hindsight was the beginning of the end of that life. She said, if somebody added a big pile of something new to your plate isn’t it logical that something else will have to move to accommodate it? Why do you think everything else is the same? Isn’t that the illogical part?

 

And I argued and railed against that simple question. I couldn’t see past my current persona. I could not see what had to change. Then I went and talked to OH and tentatively broached the subject of cutting my hours. At that point I was doing four days a week but four very long days, in a national role. And the fifth day I had my youngest to look after. So no rest. No down time.

 

And that that was the tipping point for me. OH works hard. Very hard. And can only do that because he got all childcare support from me. He is also a great provider. And couldn’t see past that role. I got left behind in the reflex reaction of worry and panic the suggestion of less salary induced. Looking back, we didn’t handle it well. I felt abandoned and misunderstood. This was about preserving life and quality of life, about living to the max with our boys, about loving each other and being with each the. I really did love him. But he couldn’t get past the fear of the illness, it’s label, it’s implications. He buried himself in work, took on more and more chores, resented it, stressed, got angry blah blah blah. And I felt alone, unloved, scared even. Money and stuff seemed to be more valued than experiences and emotions. We were poster children for how not to handle a serious diagnosis.

So there we were. Struggling with the diagnosis without ever saying so. It was a lesson in mis  communication.

That’s  it for this instalmet. I will do another one soon. But be warned, it’s a while before we get to a cheerful outcome.

Hand in….

To an evening adventure….a poetry society workshop. We listened to poems about objects and then had a crack at making poems about some of the fascinating objects tha ad been brought along… I chose the glove stretchers…

Madness, really

The lengths we go

Skin held tight tight

So blood won’t flow

And tools invented

That actually prevented

Movement.

Fetching.

Stretching

Once on

The kid would grip

Dainty dancing tips

Of fingers numb

Their wearers dumb.

As yet

No etiquette

For bare hands

To run the gauntlet

Birds with broken wings

So, I have thought long and hard about this particular blog and whether or not I should post it but eventually I have come to the conclusion that to not post it would be tantamount to lying by omission so here goes…I am going to period of change at the moment involving divorce,  complete readjustment of my life, leaving the family home with my boys,  and generally starting my life over. Suffice to say that the divorce is going through quickly and I am no longer a Mrs. And hopefully in a couple of weeks there will be a new Stitch Towers . And a new start. This all in the context of dealing with the ongoing effects of Parkinson’s disease. So far so groovy. So why do I feel the need to post about this?

Well, as I have wandered down this path I have become increasingly aware of the unspoken but powerful support of the female network. Of all those birds formerly suffering from  broken wings who band together and cheer on the protagonists in the various life dramas that unfold around them. I have been amazed at the generosity of friends and strangers, of advice given, help offered, cups of tea made, contacts shared,  boxes packed, beds offered, meals cooked, tears wiped away, bottles opened.

Empathy is strong…they recognise themselves in the struggles of others’ – they see the difficulties we as a sex face when so bloody routinely we are faced with manipulation, coercion, financial and emotional abuse, threats, aggression and the withdrawal of love, support and parental responsibility. And they carry the latest member of the broken wing club until she gets her feet back, shakes back her hair and stands up again, stands strong and withstands the approaching tide of stress, vitriol and coldness.

I have had experience of this hidden but powerful force. I have been supported and cajoled into finishing this painful marathon. Of course, it will never be over. A chunk of my life is broken, my marriage failed and I see that as a personal failure regardless of the responsibilities or reasons that led me to the divorce courts. But a big part of the process is almost ended and I am exhausted but absolutely determined to get to the end. I have learnt so much about me and my family and my friends. I will never be the same person as I was before but then it would be weird if I was….

Life has changed, and my future is good, so so good. I have changed but I still stick to my core beliefs and priorities. So, dear reader, i will still be here although the content and tone may differ a little from time to time. I have new interests and passions (women’s rights, equality, networks) to explore and as ever, I will record it here. I hope you will join me.

It’s been a blast so far. Let’s see what we can do next, shall we?

 

Flip

So massive changes continue chez stitch.  I won’t  go into detail for the sake of other people and also because I am quite frankly so bore, battered and bruised by it all its unreal. But, this process is making me re-evaluate and question so many of my long held practices and behaviours, it must be a good thing.

One thing I have been thinking about is how people represent themselves and how one person can see one thing while  another sees  something different.

I wonder whether that presentation is because of manipulation or whether it is just due to the hopes, background and yes, prejudices, of the people doing the viewing.  So for example, if I see somebody I want to be loving and kind, I will see that person as loving and kind despite any behaviour pointing in an opposite direction. I want them to be that kind of person and so I make them that person in my eyes.  In the short term, I’m happy, but in the long term? Well, in the long term disappointment is the only answer. In fact disappointment is the least of the problems isn’t it?  If I think somebody is kind and good and then they turn out not to be… What do I do? Do I question my own character analysis skills or lack off, do I move on, do I try and fix things?

The answer? All of the above and more. I am nearing the end of the tunnel… Not out of it yet but I can definitely see a little bit of daylight. See you on the other side…

Awareness

It’s world Parkinson’s day…welcome to my world….

There is an inevitable dichotomy

between telling the truth and avoiding sympathy

If I explain just how I spent

My day… Just where the hours went

You’d see, perhaps, the toll now taken

By Parkinson’s

But you’d be mistaken

If you thought I had a choice.

An alternative, another voice.

My limbs may freeze, my muscles ache

But chores remain

Schools do not break

Up for holidays round my dates.

I can only react, and yes, compensate

For how my lone decline affects

How well my kids do on their Sats.

I want to live

I want to give

The best of times and more

I may get tired

And stumble on ,

But if I stop

That’s it… I’ve gone.

Timing

This poem is about how things can twist and change so easily and wondering what would happen if we could ‘backdate’ an encounter

Sometimes when I am sitting

Drinking coffee

Dreaming of you

I imagine what it would be like

If we could turn back the clocks

To when we were not pitted and scarred

By the tiny cuts and pricks of disappointment and lost hope

When our eyes shone bright

And we saw light and laughter as our due

not as a bonus

A special offer

But on tap. Limitless

I like to think that if we’d met in those early times

I would have recognised your worth

Your goodness and honesty

Pushing you forward

Shouting “me! Me!”

As i lazily fished.

Or did we need the lows to signpost this high?

Did sadness and pain provide strange relief?

Perhaps

But now is now

And quite how

We got here is not key

What really counts

What lights my heart

Is loving you as you love

Me