Life, Death & Coffee 

​Some people require a visual. Some are more auditory. Others still prefer the written word. This vlog/blog post has it all.

I actually have a friend who prefers my vlog posts, where I TALK, more than she does listening to what I – and many others feel – is the considerably better use of my voice. 

Personally, despite having a good vocabulary, I find it difficult to verbalise my thoughts and feelings. I am unable to put these things into SPEECH. So, I put them in songs (one uses a different part of the brain when one sings than when one talks… this is the reason why some people who have suffered severe strokes, rendered speechless, can sing just fine…it is also why a stutterer can sing perfectly and clearly) or in visual art which illustrates how I’m feeling.

I find talking overrated. When I’m forced to speak, I do so…but, it’s rarely willingly. And, inevitably, I never end up saying what I really want and need to get across. It’s very frustrating. I don’t stutter badly, but I have elements of the problem. Speech is just hard work.

Of course, the problem with art, in any form, is that once it’s ‘out there’ it’s open to all sorts of interpretation. You see, hear, read and feel it through YOUR filter.

Sigh. It is the human condition. 

But, I continue to try to communicate, for what it’s worth.

 Life is hard. One could say, life is hard as speaking, and life with ANY chronic illness is a prison. Here’s an animation illustrating the daily struggles and dreams thereof:

This next video is a music video… I’m not explaining it. Just watch and listen. 


And, ending on a fun note. One of my grandfather’s favourite jokes was about a guy who needed to pass his school exams, but he was woefully stupid. His teacher, trying to be kind to him, decided to help him out by marking him a passing grade if he could spell just one word correctly. The teacher thought about it and realised that the student was too dumb to even get one word right, so decided to let him pass if he could just get ONE LETTER of one word right. The teacher thought that, surely, even this idiot could at least get one letter in a word correct. So, the teacher said to his student, ‘Spell the word coffee.’ The student replied, ‘K.A.U.P.H.Y.

And, thus, I give you this:


May your coffee be good and may you always be heard.

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Thoughts Spilled From A Brain Left Ajar

I was inspired by this man and his vlog to try vlogging again.  But, sheesh, it takes longer to edit and upload the video than it does just to write a blog post, so while I’ve said this is episode 1 of ‘Thoughts Spilled From A Brain Left Ajar’, who knows when and if there will be an episode two.  This is a raw, intimate look at the real me and what I struggle with daily.  Anywho, with no further ado…

For Better & Worse (NOT About Marriage)

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This is one of my favourite photos from the recent photoshoot that was done for the new band I’m in with fellow singer/songwriter Steve Cartwright, called ‘The Way Out‘. We travelled out to Charnwood Water and, there, this dreamy, romantic visual of me serenading the ducks was captured.  It’s like something out of faery…and, there I am in the midst of it… The Songmistress, after all. This image fills me with a sense of otherwordliness… and, of melancholy…of longing.

Things are better in so many ways.  I’m making more music now than ever, and it’s being recognised and appreciated, at least to a degree.  No, it’s not nearly as much as I’d like it to be or even NEED it to be in order to contribute to the paying of my own bills and support of my family.  But, whilst still firmly in the Land of Obscurity, there is now a map for people to follow and find me.

Things are worse, however.  I am exhausted.  I wonder how long I can push myself to perform like this, when my body and mind are as weak as they are.  People who would have assumed that I would ‘perk up’ if I was given a few more gigs, were sadly mistaken. My health issues haven’t magically gone away with this limited success.  If anything, I have to fight all the harder…and, sometimes, I am failing miserably in trying to cope.

I’m scared.  Scared that this little taste is all I’ll get before life kicks me in the teeth again with my deteriorating health and leave me unable to even do this little bit of what I’m doing to get my music out there.

To be honest, this would be my ideal:  once every couple of months, have a large, paid gig where I get to perform all my own songs to an appreciative, adoring audience.  The rest of the time being able to rest, write a bit, while having enough fans to support this down time by buying my albums and singles. Go to the ocassional folk club and acoustic open mic, just to stay sharp for those bigger gigs and to socialise with other musician friends.

Sounds lovely.  WAKE UP!  It’s a dream, and the reality is I’m old and sick and tired, and in order to get seen (and, subsequently, heard) I have to go hither and yon and play covers in pubs late at night in order to get paid, because I just can’t seem to reach that fanbase to sell my music.  I know they’re out there…but it’s reaching them. I can’t seem to reach them online.

Oh, what am I sitting here writing this for? I should be in bed resting..or rehearsing.  I feel the weight of futility here.  I’m talking to a wall again.  Oh, to travel to that place, that place of faery, where I AM The Songmistress, and to never more return from there.

 

When The Joke Isn’t Funny

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Life’s a joke. It certainly isn’t funny. But, more specifically, I’ve noticed how pain (mostly physical pain, but emotional pain, as well) affects my sense of humour. It puts a rather large dent in my ability to “take a joke”.

In regards to emotional pain, when there’s a sensitive issue, an insensitive person, believing themselves to be funny, can reduce me to a quivering mass of tears.

Today, I overheard an obtuse and insensitive family member tease my son, joking that he should be sent to National Service until he learns to do as he’s told.

My son’s chronic disobedience is a problem, yes. But, saying this to my 7 year old boy made him very upset. He didn’t find anything funny about it. And, a sensitive and observant person who claims to love my son should know that he fears being “sent away” from home. To him, this was a nightmare, not a joke. So, then, not only was my son terrified by the scenario he couldn’t see as funny, he was then further berated for not being able to take a joke.

Now, if someone looking from the outside only saw this one situation, you might assume my son doesn’t have much of a sense of humour. But, you would be sooooo wrong.

We call him “the funny dude” for a reason. He has had, from a very early age, a grasp on comedy and a highly developed ability to see and share the hilarious. He IS a FUNNY dude. He can make AND take a joke. However, he has a sensitivity (and anxiety) when it comes to the idea that his dad and I wouldn’t be there; a fear that he’s going to be “sent away”. He doesn’t want to contemplate it. There’s no logical reason for him to be scared that we would send him away, but that’s the thing about anxieties and phobias: they don’t follow your bloody reasoning and logic.

The thing is, if there is a raw spot or pain somewhere, the joke (no matter how you see it from your perspective) is not going to be seen as a joke to me or, now I can see, my boy. We will see it as a threat. It is either YOUR threat. Or it is Life’s threat. And, it – Life – has chosen you, you bastard, as its mouthpiece. Life is shit enough without you being an arsehole and causing added trauma.

I believe my boy will grow out of this sensitivity as he gets older and realises that being “sent away” just isn’t going to happen. And, I want him to behave, of course. I want a lot of things for myself in the way of self-improvement. But, your arsehole therapy is NOT going to get us there. Laughter is very good medicine, but it only works to heal us if we’re the ones who are laughing.

Why is there an owl picture with this post? I wanted something cute and cuddly to look at while I ranted.

Painting Pictures in the Air (and other things I do with my time)

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Broadband at the new house is slower than dialup. So, I’m using up my phone data to post this.

My health has been worse lately. To say I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle would sound too cliché, but I’m not sure how else to put it. If the cliché fits and all that…

But, things did take a pretty dark obsessive twist right after the move. I’ve never been good at cleaning or keeping house well. I started to listen to the criticism in my head leftover from a verbal attack on my person from someone who thought they were doing my husband a favour by telling me that I was killing him by not doing enough housework.

Now, like many of us who suffer with chronic ailments, I am not a lazy person. I just only have so many spoonfuls of energy. And, housework is one of those things that drains all my spoons quite quickly, leaving me with a total deficit to then be able to look after the kids and do other things I need to do.

My husband never complained about the house and was not pleased that this person had taken it upon themselves to ‘speak for him’. And, at the time, I ignored it and went on.

But, after the move, the critical words in my head had a voice, and it was the unkind and judgmental voice of this person. For nearly two weeks I wore myself out being a clean freak. Like never in my life, I was trying to keep on top of the housework. And, with nothing but the aching in my sick body leftover, I was sobbing uncontrollably throughout the day and the least bit of stress was sending me to the point of wanting to grab my pills and take every one.

Of course, there was no energy to do the therapeutic things that help me cope with my pain and depression. No time or strength to make music or art other than maybe a quick selfie snapped and put up on Instagram.  There was no energy to enjoy snuggles with the kids. There was no energy to enjoy some sexual healing with my husband. I was too exhausted to even read. I tried to keep up with mindfulness meditation, but even that got, ironically, invaded with thoughts of, ‘PULL YOUR WEIGHT. YOU’RE USELESS. GET UP AND SCRUB THE SURFACES’.

I hated this voice.  And, hated how I was feeling. The anger, the rage came in like a flood. A murderous thing, eating at me. I’d imagine him standing there, while I was scrubbing, and screaming at him to fuck off. But, I kept scrubbing.

Until my husband begged me to stop, that is.

See? Telling this person to fuck off, perhaps not to his literal face, but in my head, is the thing I needed to do. And then, I needed to DO something else.

Because… what I do, my life, my house, my value to my husband and kids, is none of this person’s business.

What do I do with my time? I create. I make pretty things. I make music, which is magic. I take great delight in sex and relish it. Believe me, my husband appreciates this more – would rather have this – than a spotless house.

And, sometimes, I meditate. And, yes, I sleep a lot. I sleep to escape the pain and pressure for a while. And that sleep keeps me going when the waking hours are too much.

So. A surface wiped now and then and a sink full of dishes washed on occasion.  I have opuses to write and pictures to take and pleasure to give and books to read…and, this painful life to endure as long as I can…and it is only by these means I have any chance of doing that.

So. Indeed. Fuck off.

I’ve hung my bra on the door…I guess I’m home.

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Being forced to move house would be stressful for most people, but when one has a number of physical and mental health problems, the situation takes on elements of torture and sheer agony.

There isn’t any place on my body that doesn’t hurt.

My main job yesterday during the move from one house to another was to try to keep the kids occupied and out of the way. I did a poor job and ended up falling apart in town, sobbing uncontrollably in Wilkos; cold and wet from the rain and feeling very alone and without a place to safely hide and dissolve.

I wanted to have energy today to get things sorted in the new place…which I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to, as one does (right now it’s just a weird, uncomfortable place and I have that overwhelming feeling of ‘I just want to go home’). But, I have no energy and can’t even be bothered to eat. And, I wanted to write more here, but my brain is now fogging up and pretty soon I’ll be in that monosyllabic place where all I can do is point and grunt. Pain has a way of reverting me to a cavewoman.

At least the kids like the new house and, even though my grand ideas of being able to sort it out and tidy up and make it a show place of beauty just isn’t going to happen, there’s a roof over our heads and walls to keep out the world. Time and life, as it relentlessly does, will go on.

Yeah, ending this post now. It’s something in my control to end.

For Better or Worse

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Anniversary presents are nice, but it’s the every day giving that makes a marriage.

When you make those vows, you’re so hopeful that there will be more health than sickness and more richer than poorer. Life often has other, crueler, plans.

Often growing up means growing apart, too. Or, worse, you refuse to grow at all. Problems arise when one or both can’t accept the person as they really are and keep trying to make them into whatever fairytale vision they had for the other on that vow-day.

Marriage ain’t for everyone. For it to really work at all, through all the shit life throws, requires the one thing this world lacks so greatly: love. But, people’s idea of what that is is so far from what it really is that it’s no wonder problems abound as they do.

Convention sometimes must be thrown out the window. Accepting the reality of your partner and supporting them in whatever self-discoveries they make. Allowing exploration instead of fearing it.

Today is my 11th wedding anniversary. I’m ill and we have no money to celebrate. Yeah, that sucks, but if I had to choose between the big, yearly, token gifts and the every day gifts I receive from a man who I know loves me, I’d go with the latter every time.

He brings me coffee in bed every morning because he wants to soften the blow of another morning coming.

He makes me laugh and laughs at my jokes.

He still makes love to me. Not out of some obligation. But because he still really wants me.

He ignores people who say he’d be better off without me (including me when I’m the one who says it).

He supports and celebrates my music.

He takes care of me, even though it’s not easy being a caregiver to one so ill,  and does it without making me feel like the mistake/waste of space I so often feel I am.

Expensive gifts are nice…but they can’t replace these priceless ones.