Dancing in the colours of my mind.

Have you ever closed your eyes tight so you can watch the colours as they dance across your minds eye? As a child I used to love doing this, escape into a world of colour.

My imagination was my happy place, somewhere I could be part of a world I created, a world that made sense because this planet we call earth never really felt like home.

Once I remember reading a book about cuckoo birds and was sure like their eggs I have been born into the wrong nest.

It’s a strange feeling seeing yourself in the features of those around you but not feeling connected in your heart.

Was I strange, am I strange, I guess both statements are open to arguement.

What I’ve realised as a mother is that being related does not mean that you are alike. I have birthed four amazing beautiful girls and whilst values and love for each other is similar their personalities could be no further from different, one outgoing, another reserved, one loves to learn, another loves to do. Each so creative and beautifully unique in these own special way. I celebrate this about them, so what cannot I not celebrate this about myself?

For a long time I felt that I could only be true in my imagination, that here in the real world I would have to play a part, a character created for me not by me.

Yet as I’ve grown and got older I’m finally beginning to spend time allowing the me from my imagination enter the me from the real world.

I’ve realised that to live truthfully you have to be true to yourself. You are not being fair to others if you pretend to be what you think they wish you to be.

Falseness brings hollowness.

This time in isolation right now has been hard for me as I’m sure it has for many others. Not being able to hide means that your heart has to shine out.

I’m learning so much about myself and about others. Those that truly value your connection and those that dont. Do I fit a need or a want? Was I a use or a heart to hold?.

This isolation time has illuminated so many things I was trying to hide from. But as much as I love my imagination, hiding from the pain in the multitude of dancing colours is still hiding.

Like so many others I am desperate for the lockdown to come to an end. For the world to feel safe again. Yet I dont want the world, my world to return to normal. I want to understand more about myself, to truly know my own heart. I want celebrate the true connections that have held and to truly allow myself to live my imagination in my real life, a life full of beautiful dancing colour.

Seasons change.

“there is a time for everything

 and a season for every activity under the heavens”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 New International Version (NIV)

I have walked many seasons in my life, and I know one of the longest and hardest of these has been my season of grief.

From the time my daughter Livvy was diagnosed I have grieved for what should have been, the life she should have lived or it in reality the life I had expected, planned, wanted her to live. 

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Then when we lost her 11 years ago, I grieved for her physically, grieved for her missing, her smile, her touch and the blessing of her spirit.

My grief felt like darkness.  

My whole spirit crushed by the pain of missing. 

I didn’t understand the why and I was often angry screaming at the ‘why her.’

This was my season of darkness and no matter how hard I tried to pretend I wasn’t sure I would live a life with light anymore.

Yet Jesus knew. 

My dear friend sent me a link to Christian singer songwriter called Steven Curtis Chapman.  Steven and his wife lost their daughter the same year I lost Livvy. Through his grief he wrote and produced an album called Beauty will rise. This cd, these songs, the words broke through my darkness.  In the midst of my pain I could not see God in my Bible, the words lost as my tears blinded me from his love. Yet in these songs, in the lyrics, hope started to grow once again, and the promise that I could hear in the melody slowly healed my heart. 

One of the songs is called ‘Spring is coming ‘and this week as we have faced 11 years without our beautiful girl, I have held on tight to this. Not because I am waiting on the Spring though this cold weather is already getting to me, because I know the blessing of the new.  I have felt the new life burst inside of me. I give thanks and praise to the changing seasons and the love, the hope and the promise each one brings. 

So today I am sharing this with you, sharing my heart and my journey, because God has asked me to share my story. He wants all to know that he is the light in the darkness. 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus was and is my light. 

So, if any of you are now struggling in the darkness and if you are feeling the crushing weight of fear, doubt or anger, hold on to the fact that this time is a season and that seasons change. Life is a journey often full of pain and loss believe me when I say I know this but whatever you are facing, know that you are not alone, that Jesus walks beside you. 

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If you had asked me 11 years ago if I would know joy again, I would have said no easily, my heart was broken. I still miss Livvy so desperately and often still fall under the weight of grief but now my heart knows the promise, the promise that one day I will be reunited with her. Yet in this life whilst I walk it without her physically right now, I know that Jesus has great plans for me and joy it does come in the morning, not promising what morning but it does come. 

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So, I just want to remind you that whatever you are facing you are not alone. That you can do this and even in the crushing darkness there will be and always will be a light, the light of Jesus. 

Sorry I couldn’t rise.

I’m not sure where my head has been for the last few weeks, I’ve completely felt a detachment from the world. On the outside looking in. I’ve been falling into an abyss of what if’s, what should of been’s and to be honest a hornet’s nest of why not’s.

Social media has been full of graduations and moving on photos and I’ve just felt angry and raw.

Grief isn’t pretty, it doesn’t come tied in a pretty bow. A ornate basket with a jar of missing tears and bottle of memories.

No grief is a raging ocean, dark, bottomless and threatening to pull you under at the least expected moment and I’ve been drowning.

I feel such a bitch but I’ve scrolled past photos without commenting, without celebrating the achievement because I was angry, I was resentful because Livvy didn’t get to celebrate it.

I couldn’t drag myself up out of the pain to celebrate others when there will be no prom for my girl, no sparkling dress, no fancy shoes.

There will be no graduation for my daughter, she didn’t even get to complete primary school let alone head out of education into the great unknown.

I hate that I’m angry, I’m appalled at myself for being jealous but my goodness missing her hurts In a way I just cannot describe.

There is always going to be moments that are raw, moments that should of been and I’m always going to try and be ok about them but I’m never actually going to be ok with them.

There will always be a Livvy shaped piece in my heart. Always another tear to fall in missing. A breath to be lost in grief.

Rett Syndrome took so much from us, it took Livvy from us and right now I’m tumbling into grief, anger and complete sorrow.

I miss my girl, I miss her so damn much.

So to those who I haven’t celebrated this last few weeks I’m sorry. My heart does sing for your moments, I’m so very proud of all of you and I’m so sorry. Sorry that I couldn’t rise from the depths of missing this time, sorry I didn’t have the strength to pretend.

I just miss my beautiful girl so,so very much.

What defines you!

If you were to read about my past in script form you would be forgiven for thinking that this may have been a script for a television drama or more likely a soap opera.

It’s a story full of pain, loss and at times anger.

Yet it is my life and right now I am walking a journey which is laying it completely open and completely bare and its hard. It fact it’s blooming painful, yet in the midst of the tears of which there has been plenty I have actually found myself feeling a strength that is holding me all in place. In fact it must have the wire that has held me together through this life’s journey.

My faith in myself.

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I cannot go back and change the past. In fact I’m not sure I would ,as everything that has happened has formed me into the person I am right now and I actually rather like who I am.

We all have pathways to walk and as human beings we will make mistakes, we mess up and at times we completely screw up but its how we move forward that defines us. How we learn from experiences and how we grow.

 

My life may have been messy, but it has challenged me to see beyond the barriers. I love with all my heart, I believe in people with all my soul and most of all I have hope. Hope that with love and empathy this world can and will be a better place.

 

So if right now like me you are feeling scared and vulnerable keep pushing forward because you may not realise it, but these moments, these challenges may be the moments that define who you really are.

Handmade in my heart.

It’s amazing how having a baby changes your life, in all areas, in everything.

The last few months have been a shock to the system. I miss my sleep. I miss eating my dinner in one go and I really miss drinking my tea hot.

Yet all these changes are so worth it when the little one looks up at me and smiles.

How is it possible to feel so much love in such a short time?

I am smitten.

My heart was in need of baby snuggles.

My arms in need of baby cuddles.

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Our house has been turned upside down and it’s amazing. My girls are the most incredible big sisters I could ask for, from changing bums to just giving my arms a break they have been so wonderful.

Open arms, open hearts.

I cannot believe how something so tiny can make such big changes.

Even today I found myself buying some new clothes not only wondering about style and fit but also if they are baby proof or will hide baby dribble well.

I also cannot believe how vast the world of baby stuff has become, from food to clothes to equipment the baby market has gone wild and I am loving it. There is so many things that I just want to get him, my husband is already fed up of hearing the words of “he would look so cute” or “he so needs this”.

Yet still I love things that are handmade, items created just for your little one. They just seem that little more special and nothing is more special than this beautiful star blanket crafted by the wonderful Naomi at Mama Naii’s.

 

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I actually saw a photo of one she had made previously and just fell in love and knew little man needed one. So after chatting about colours and size we soon became the proud owner of this wonderful blanket and this adorable Gerald giraffe. I wish I could show how much he loves it. Watching him hold on tight to the giraffe is so cute and seeing him cuddled up tight in his blanket is priceless.

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Naomi crafts some truly beautiful things and is always willing to chat about what exactly it is you want. I already have my second order in and I’m planning my third too.

So if you are like me and feeling blessed to have a little one in your life maybe take a visit to Mama’s Naii’s Facebook page, or Instagram page and have a look for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Countdown to 40

40

 

I realised last night that in under a month I turn 40. This is a major milestone in my life but one I am so excited for.

Growing up I remember thinking 40 was really old, I mean it seemed that my mom was 32 forever so I was sure I would stay this way. Yet time has moved on and I have been slowly creeping towards this age.

I remember when I turned 30 I was really freaked by it all, I didn’t feel ready to be 30 years old I was uncomfortable and not happy in my own skin. Life wasn’t easy and I had just started to show signs of the illness that changed my life. I look back to those days when I was chasing after 4 children under 10 and teaching dance. I remember just not feeling complete as if I wasn’t living life to the full.

Fast forward the last ten years and my goodness a crazy amount has happened. I have walked through some of the darkest moments of my life. My heart has been broken, tore up into millions of pieces and then trodden on. I never imagined at 30 that I would have to bury a child let alone two. I would have never been able to comprehend surviving the loss of my daughter and my foster son. Never in a million years. Yet somehow I have survived, my heart may never be complete but it is learning to love on, learning to beat strongly again and I am learning to live life to the full again.

I know deep down that 40 isn’t really a special age. I mean I preach often about celebrating every day we have here, but still I am rather excited for the day.

This may sound big headed but I like who I see in the mirror now. I may not be a dance teacher or able to fit my bum into a size 12 but I truly love my body and I’m so grateful to it. It has given me four amazing girls, completely different, independent ,inspirational girls. It allows me to foster two truly awesome boys, each a blessing in their own special way. My body may be a little battle worn but it’s not been beaten and I am so thankful for this.

I look back to the person I was 10 years ago and I know I have been on a journey. I use the term “self discovery” loosely  as is the only way to get close to describing  the transformation I feel I have faced.

I love who I am (yes I may have said that before) but I seriously do. I love my emotional side, no more will I apologise for my random tears or unexpected hugs. I’m empathic and I care and this is something I am proud of now. No more calling myself soppy and pathetic, I actually rock.

I love my courage, I am more willing to put myself out into the danger zone, being vulnerable, feeling scared but still moving forward.

I love my brain, it’s ok that I am a little geeky at times, that sometimes the idea of a good book wins against a movie or a night out. That I appreciate my own company and yes at times I get lost in my own mind.

I love myself and I love my life.

As I head towards this birthday milestone I do so with so much gratitude.

Over the last years I have had people walk into my life that have blessed me in so many ways. Friends that love me for me, deep true friendships that can pick up after a time apart just where we left off. Friends I can laugh with, friends I have cried on. I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I am so thankful for my family, my daughters and my sons each so unique and so beautiful. Getting to watch them grow and learn and experience life is such a wonder, such a gift. My Dad, my Step Mom, my inlaws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, relantionships that I truly value and people I truly love.

My husband, I am completely in love with this crazy man, after nearly 20 years of marriage I still get that flutter in my heart when he walks into a room. He makes me laugh, he drives me insane, but he truly is my soul mate.

I am so thankful that I miss my Livvy, because missing someone is the recognition of an amazing love, a truly unbroken bond. My girl and I will be together again one day, but until then I am going to try and live as she did, fully and with all my heart.

So the count down to 40 begins and I’m so excited. I’m so ready to celebrate the 40 years I have been here with all my family and friends. An evening full of laughter, music and hopefully a gorgeous outfit.

Yet 40 is only the really the beginning, the start of a new stage in life, one I hope will be full of love and laughter and the people that really make my life truly amazing, my family and friends, because with them and because of them I actually love myself more at 40 then I ever did.

 

40 looking good

Only my own 

I’m so tired of opinions 

How people voice their own without thinking or consequence.

How others can know what’s right for you when in truth they have no idea of who you are.

Your truth is not theirs 

And their understanding is not yours to find.

I cannot live like this anymore.

Searching, struggling to find something in myself to please, to placate others.

Twisting and turning myself inside and out to be who they want me to be.

Nauseous from inadequacy.

Pained by failure. 

Why am I not enough?

Who do I allow to hold me to unattainable heights? 

Why do I allow others to drag me into the darkness of my lows. 

I’m sorry, 

Whilst I do value you and all you are.

I cannot allow your opinion of me be the basis of my souls definition.

My heart has to beat to its own drum.

My soul has its own chords to sing.

Whilst I do respect your opinion on so many things 

The only one on myself that truly matters is mine.

See it as vanity,

See it as ego,

I know it as survival.
  

Happy 18th Eden

I cannot believe than my second born daughter is 18 today.

Wow I have another adult.

I am so proud of my girlie.

I love her unique spirit.

I admire her passion and convictions

Happy 18th Eden Rose

18 today

Thank you for my late night chats.

For the endless perfect cups of tea you make.

Thank you for loving and caring for your siblings, your annoying brother especially.

I hope you have a fun day.

May adulthood see you living your dreams.

May you find your way in this crazy world.

Never change who you are, because you are truly amazing.

You dad and I love you so much.

Happy 18th my beautiful girl. xxxx

Happy18thEden

 

 

 

* No up to date pics are per your request xxxx

 

Style XL 2015, we came, we saw and we rocked it.

Last weekend was Style XL 2015 a plus size fashion event held in my local city of Birmingham.

Style XL is the brainchild of the wonderful Leah from http://www.leahxl.com.

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Leah is genuinely one of the nicest woman I know and someone who I owe a lot of my new found confidence too. It was only last year that I walked my first catwalk at Style XL 2014. This was thanks to the encouragement and support from Leah, this lady rocks.  Also a big shout out to her beautiful fiancée Clare who is truly lovely.

Seriously though I remember how much I shook with fear back there in 2014 I’m surprised I made it onto the stage.

Anyway back to Style XL 2015 how do I describe this weekend, two words “totally inspiring”.

The collaboration of plus size fashion brands and confidence building workshops created an awesome event.

Women from around the UK coming together to attend a fashion event where the size on your label is irrelevant.

Fashion brands showcasing the very best of plus size fashion proving that style comes in all sizes.

I had a blast.

I was excited to be booked to walk for the awesome Apples and Pears Clothing , Monroe Knows and Curvy Kate but on the day I actually also walked for Topsy Curvy and Lady Voluptuous too.

Five brands ooh get me.

This year was so different for me, although I was still rather shaky the woman who walked onto that catwalk was very different to the one from last year. I actually relished in the attention. I rocked my curves ha ha get me.

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Seriously Style XL was a great success.

Personally though for me Style XL wasn’t about the clothes (sorry brands). It was being surrounded by beautiful inspiring women.

Women that over the last year have become dear friends.

Woman working hard to empower others.

Building people up, encouraging, supporting.

My challenge  to myself this year was to turn the virtual hugs into real ones.

I am so confident behind my keyboard but this year I wanted to find that confidence in real life.

I think achieved this.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some awesome new ones.

I pushed all my boundaries, I introduced myself to people and I wore underwear on a catwalk ( don’t panic dad I’ve hidden the photos).

I achieved more than I could possibly have imagined and yes I may be having a little body wobble but I can see how far I have come.

Thank you Leah for having faith in me.

Thank you to the brands for allowing me to showcase your beautiful clothes.

I  want to end this post saying this, life is to short to wait to wear the clothes you want. Wear them now and celebrate who you are. Size is a number on a label don’t let it dictate how you live your life.

You are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you different xxx

In honour of Livvy

Saturday was an amazing day, we held a Livvy’s Smile Donkey Tea Party.

The sun shone for us, the donkeys behaved and memories were made.

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I had a truly wonderful time.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some new.

I got to listen to laughter as it filled the air.

I got to watch children cover themselves with chocolate and cream as they ate their cakes.

Donkey rides, cart rides and so much more.

Seriously it was awesome.

Yet as I sat at home editing the photos from the day my tears began to fall.

My heart just ached for the missing piece of my puzzle.

Whilst I was blessed with some amazing hugs from some truly incredible children my heart yearned for my little Tinkerbell.

Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary holds a special place in my heart.

Each corner is filled with the echo of my Olivia.

Those first steps she took defying the Drs.

The giggles as she rode her favourite donkey.

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The dirty looks she gave Amber when told to sit up straight.

So many moments, so many memories.

 

I was asked why we started Livvy’s Smile and why I hold events that bring me pain?

It is simple really we started Livvy’s Smile because we are so grateful.

So thankful for the wonderful memories we have stored from Livvy.

Memories that truly get us through the darkness and we just want to give that light to other families.

On Saturday we created those special memories full of chocolate eclairs and cool moms.

Memories that will give us hope through the hard times.

Why do I it when it causes me pain? 

Because I can and because I have to.

I was blessed to be Livvy’s mom, to get to call this amazing girlie my daughter.

Livvy changed my life. 

The realisation that we didn’t have forever taught me to live in the here and now.

To live a life full of laughter and love.

 

So yes hosting these events will always be bittersweet.

I’m sure I will always return home and cry for the missing piece of my heart.

But I will never stop working hard to create memories because each moment, each memory is in honour of my beautiful daughter.

Every smile I see brings her closer.

 

Yes, I know my heart will always ache,

Grief is relentless.

Like a snake it slowly twists around your heart until you cannot breathe.

Your body craves for one more breathe, one more moment.

So as the tears fall I know they do so in honour.

Each teardrop is formed in everlasting love.

Livvy is part of who I am and who I always will be.

Livvy’s Smile is testimony to eternal love. 

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