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Archive for the ‘family and relationships’ Category

I am currently attending a course on becoming an End of Life Doula. It fits in with my job and is something I have been interested in for quite a few years. It has been a very interesting journey so far. As part of our homework for the 2nd part of the course this weekend, we had to complete a few exercises relative to what we learned/experienced at the first weekend, so the first place I started was at http://kristiewest.com/aboutkristiewest/

Kristie is a long-standing friend of mine and I have always admired her approach to life and death. We actually met at an event where her path in life changed course, and took her on the journey that was to lead her to where she is now, and to specialising in her field of expertise. I’d like to share this with you because I fully believe that what she shares can have a profound affect on how we view or approach death and grief.

The course I’m doing has so far been very interesting and surprisingly the first section didn’t actually deal with death at all, but rather about our, the participants, beliefs and values. The exercises we did all revolved around us, the potential Doula and about how we think of death and relate to people.

We delved into subjects like confidentiality, communication skills, about our attitudes, ethics and most importantly about our listening skills. We spoke abut the types of listening and then we had to share a story from our lives to one of the group while they practised effective listening as another person observed how they ‘listened’. We explored our ideas and again beliefs on a range of subjects from euthanasia, keeping secrets, involving family, about a dying person’s last wishes, rituals about the role we would take and what we would find acceptable in that role or not.

I’m looking forward to the this weekend where we participate in another 2 days of training.

 

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Leaving on a jet plane and I don’t know when I’ll be back again……as it turns out…I never did return – not permanently anyway.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

taken on the day I landed after my Spitfire flight on 26 April this year – seems apt for my journey

Today marks the 17th anniversary of my arrival in the Northern Hemisphere and the UK then Ireland for the first time.

All three happened on the same day in the space of a few hours.

I left South Africa on the 8th October 2001 bouncing with excitement and joy. At age 46, although I had travelled extensively throughout RSA and lived in any number of places, I had never left the borders of South Africa except for a brief weekend sojourn to Swaziland in my misspent youth.

I flew from South Africa on the evening of the 8th October landing in Zurich on the 9th. After an hour or so at Zurich airport where I had my first European pastry and hot chocolate and searched for the ‘red’ post box which turned out to be green LOL (a learning curve for sure), from there it was an emotional flight across Europe and the skies in which WW2 was fought. I am fascinated by the history of the 2nd WW and it gave me both the chills and a thrill that I was flying through the same airspace that our pilots flew all those decades ago…as a result I spent nearly the whole flight just crying….I couldn’t believe I was actually in the same airspace.

Soon, as we came in to land at London Airport I had my first view of the city I was to come to love so much; suddenly I was on UK soil. I could hardly believe it.

relocating to the uk, solo travel,

Lovely London – my soul city

A short nerve-wracking bus-ride later I took my first ever tube ride – first on the Jubilee line and then the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. I remember how terrified I was of getting lost, of not finding my way to the airport, and a total wreck with all the stories I had heard of how big Heathrow airport was….wasn’t. It was easy to navigate.

I remember as if it happened yesterday; as we exited the underground near Hounslow I looked out the window and fell in love…..with the chimney pots on the houses around the green. I am a huge fan of the film Mary Poppins and it looked to me just like a scene from the film….the trees and the green surrounded by 3-storey brick houses, their roofs adorned with chimney pots.

“I could live here!” I thought…..

And now I am….I first spent 6 months in Ireland with my darling sister and her husband (her 30th birthday was the reason for my visit),

and then after my visa expired 6 months later I came over to the UK to collate the paperwork I would need in order to apply for and obtain my ancestral visa (my grandfather had the good sense to be born in London (Battersea). After securing letters from agencies to say they could employ me, I flew back to South Africa in March 2002 and by 22nd April 2002 I was back in Ireland; ancestral visa in hand. After a few months of gallivanting in Ireland, I once again flew back to the UK and started working and living first as a resident and then a citizen of the country.

I have never looked back, never had even one second of home-sickness and never longed for the country or yearned to ‘go back’ with all that that signifies. If I have missed anything it would be certain foods like OUMA rusks, or peppermint crisp chocloate LOL

I have grown to love the UK so much, albeit not the politics (or some of the parties), and I have had so many amazing adventures, learned so much, written a couple of books and immersed myself into the very fabric of this country. The history is phenomenal and it’s like peeling back an onion…one layer reveals another.

I used my ancestral visa/SA passport to good effect and and travelled to a number of European countries and a few states in the USA over the next 15 years (and back to Ireland 9 times).

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Sphere Within Sphere is a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, located at Trinity College, Dublin

I also travelled far and wide throughout the UK and have probably visited more places than many British-born people….certainly I’m sure more Domesday Book places.

I then applied for and obtained my British Citizenship.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

it’s my 17th anniversary!!! this is from the day I got my new passport as a UK citizen 2 years ago

My daughter followed me in 2003 and she too is now a British citizen and married to an amazing man with a baby on the way…..the first baby in our family to be born in the UK since my Grandfather was born in Battersea in 1890. Our little Peanut aka my first grandchild. I’m so in love with this baby already…my heart swells when I see this. 🙂

peanut is on the way, first grandchild, 3d scan of baby in the womb, granny in waiting

my beautiful grandchild. a 3D scan taken yesterday…

It seems perfectly apt, albeit coincidentally, that we got this scan photo on the same date 08/10, as what I left SA 17 years ago. Never did I think on that day back in 2001 that I would be a granny-in-waiting at this time 17 years later.

The UK has always felt like ‘home’ to me and I have felt more at ‘home’ here than I ever did anywhere in RSA….except possibly Cape Town which I’ve always said was my heart city. Well London is my soul city, and my heart has followed me to the UK.

I’ve had an extraordinary journey since arriving here in 2001 and although it hasn’t always been easy, that’s mostly been due to my own bad decisions on various life aspects. But I have never regretted my decision to return and to stay…..

So today is my 17th anniversary and I am still ‘home’.

And Ireland is still my 2nd favourite country in the world.

If you are interested here is a link to some of the place I have visited since my arrival. My goal is to still travel even more extensively and visit as many places as I possibly can – Project 101

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As part of the End of Life Doula training I’m currently participating in, I’ve been researching information about various aspects of dying. One of the most important aspects is to be able to talk about it openly with family, friends, relatives, care givers, guardians and medical staff.

So often people push it away when an elderly relative raises the issue and an opportunity is missed to know their wishes; both the yes / no aspects.

We often had conversations with my Mother over the years, but even so, her death happened so young and so quickly with nothing in writing about what she wanted, that we were totally unprepared and were left floundering. The only thing we were certain of is that she wanted to be cremated and buried in the same burial plot as my paternal Grandmother. The rest was up to us.

One of the most important things that I’ve learned so far is to have a ‘death plan’.death and dying, having a death plan, lets talk about dying

Mostly people push death discussions away with “oh, you’re still young, you’ll be around for years yet”. That would be realistic if nobody died young ever. People are also very superstitious and suggest that if you talk about death, you’ll bring it on early. Its important to try move beyond those self-limiting beliefs and try to initiate a conversation with your family. It doesn’t have to be heavy or intense, but rather a light discussion to start with. Its inevitable, its the one thing in life that is absolutely guaranteed without doubt.

So many people have an unsatisfactory death because they’ve never conveyed their wishes to anyone. Often we associate discussions about death with just a will, but after all I’ve learnt recently, there is so much more to dying than meets the eye, and so oftentimes family are left struggling to know ‘the right thing to do’, which not only negates the possible wishes of the person who has died, but also causes a lot of unnecessary conflict and anxiety in those left behind.

Here’s a link to a useful little booklet you can download to get yourself prepared and perhaps initiate that all important conversation

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/relationships-family/end-of-life-issues/talking-death-dying/#

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Have you ever had one of those days where despite your plans they end differently to what you expected?

I’m pretty certain you have.

Your day is set out with every thing in order and bam something comes along that upsets the plan.

Our day yesterday went something like this :

10:30 Breastfeeding Support Group

13:30 lunch at Sainsburys

14:30 meet up with the daughter’s in-laws

15:30 3D scan of baby, hoping to see the little face and get some cute pics of the future grandchild… No facial view but we got a fab pic of baby’s ear 😂 😂 😂

16:30 ish go for afternoon tea to celebrate the impending arrival of said grandchild.

17:30 a viewing of the house they’re buying.

Home to pack for impending trips and supper while relaxing and watching TV…..

End of scheduled plans… But what do they say about the plans of mice and men?

…… A surprise awaits!!! The expectant parents reveal the baby’s chosen name over tea… And its an amazing name…. Just perfect. Lots of delighted chatter and exclamations and talk of baby. 💕 💕 💕

After much excitement and baby talk every one scatters to do their own thing and we, daughter and me, head down to the baby section and set about increasing M&S’s profit margins…. 😂 😂 😂 😂

After which we drive over to view the house 🏡… Its adorable.

Then (a planned)… home to pack, them for a 4 day trip to Wales and me for a 10 day work assignment.

Except, underlying the whole day is the uncomfortable fact that the pregnant 🤰 Mummy is in pain. Mild at first and assumed to be a UTI. I buy bicarbonate of soda which is a good neutraliser to possibly help in the meantime till she gets to the maternity unit for tests. Doesn’t work…and the pain increases. Getting worried now. At least we know from the scan that baby is fit and bouncing.

Finally, after dropping off the in-laws at home and me at the store to buy pizza for supper, they head to the hospital for tests, and thats where all expected endings to the day came to an abrupt end.

Twas not a UTI, no idea what is causing the pain and so they check her in for scans and an overnight stay.

Meanwhile I’m at home preparing the pizza..

Cue frantic WhatsApp message… “I have to stay in overnight, please bring food and my pyjamas etc.”

😂 😂 😂

And so the day ended with me travelling in a taxi with a bag of overnight necessities and freshly baked pizza in their boxes, a hurried supper in the ward and then me driving Fiona (the car) home.

Meanwhile the parents settle in for a very uncomfortable night and I keep my phone on as per request.

Good night 🌃

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Ready?….no, not really. Set…..all packed. Go…oh okay, if I must…

Walking The Pilgrim’s Way

I had been planning my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury for nearly a year. After my Camino in 2017 I was all ready to just go and walk another, but with one thing and another (like finances and work) I couldn’t just up and go, so I decided that in 2018 I would walk the Camino Ingles. But, before I did that, I thought it would be a good idea to walk another UK pilgrimage first…it seemed like the right thing to do.the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way uk, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino, pilgrimage to canterburym

So I set about planning for a walk along The Pilgrim’s Way for 2 weeks and then home for a few days to refresh, repack and then fly to Spain to walk the Camino Ingles, starting on the same date I had in 2017. Plans……?

With that in mind I set up my spreadsheets, bought the books and started planning. It all went really well and I had most of my accommodation booked, put money aside every month, repacked Pepe (my backpack) for the umpteenth time and started with some training.

Then life, as it does, decided differently and a number of issues arose..

  1. I investigated the possibility of taking a ferry from Southampton to Spain, but firstly it was extortionately expensive and 2nd the ferries only went to Santander, which is not what I had in mind.
  2. Investigating flights, I found that the prices had almost doubled since the previous year (Brexit??) hmmm. Not sure I want to spend that much money.
  3. In May I got the best news a mother could ever get….my daughter was pregnant and I was to be a Granny Suddenly knitting seemed way more important than getting out and practising, getting fit. LOL
  4. Summer 2018 happened. I do not like the heat. I do enjoy lovely blue skies, and pleasant summer days, but I do not enjoy extreme heat, and most especially if I have to go out in the midday sun and walk in said heat.

And so it came to pass that

A) I never did book any flights. Which was just as well considering….

B) I spent more time knitting than anything else…the needles were in my hands at any          given free moment….I have loads of beautiful cardigans, bootees and matinee jackets.

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I even took my knitting with me and made a pair of ‘adventure’ bootees for my grandchild 🙂

knitting for babies, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino de santiago

Peanut’s ‘adventure’ bootees

C) My plans to walk during my breaks to keep up my fitness levels were scuppered by           the heat, and I was resting on my 2017 fitness laurels. Tut! Tut! Not good.

I did get to do some walking in preparation, but truthfully I really didn’t get anywhere near enough walking done as what I did preparing for my Camino in 2017.

And as August rapidly approached I suddenly found that actually I didn’t want to walk at all…..I felt like all I wanted to do was be at home with my family and knit LOL

But after a few weeks of deliberation as well as a lot of uhmming and ahhing, and some discussion with my daughter I decided to go ahead with the UK walk but postpone the EU/Camino walk till 2019…..which is what I did.

And so it was ready, set, go……

Andddd I’m on my way; finally on the 18th August 2018, after nearly a year of planning and some preparation, Pepe, Gemini and I were on the train and on the way….BSR to SOU via London.

First up, Southampton, where I had planned to spend a couple of days exploring the city, as well as spend a day in Winchester revisiting favourite places. Then starting off on 21st August for the long walk; 136 miles and counting 🚶🚶🚶 Excited. Trepidatious.

This is what I’d be doing for the 15 days bar one. Coddiwomple! What a marvellous word. Love the English language.

walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks in england, solo walking, women walking solo, walk 1000 miles

coddiwomple

Wow, how much excitement!! After months of talking and walking (some) and packing and preparing, I was finally on my way Ready to coddiwomple across England; a  pilgrimage Winchester to Canterbury; along The Pilgrim’s Way.

Initially I had planned to stay for just 2 nights in Southampton, but I probably wouldn’t visit the city again in the future so decided to extend my stay by one extra night and have a whole extra day to explore. The other day would be spent in Winchester revisiting favourite places and get myself ready for the big walk.

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walking in the uk, the pilgrims way, walk 1000 miles, baby boomers

The Pilgrim’s Way passport – how gorgeous is this passport

On arriving in Southampton I made my way over to my AirBnb venue and checked in. The room was very basic and simple, but comfortable and had a t.v. Even pilgrims like a bit of luxury LOL I didn’t do much by way of exploring that night since I was quite tired and it had been a long journey, so I just took a stroll up to the nearest food store and bought myself some supper and snacks for the night.

I settled in to bed after a lovely hot shower and watched t.v. till lights out. Big explore tomorrow.

 

 

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18 weeks ago today I was still reeling with the stunning, joyful and extraordinary news that my darling girl, my beloved daughter was expecting her first baby!!!

To say that the news came out of the blue like a bolt of lightening would be an understatement. I was hysterical with joy unbounded. They were over the moon, and very emotional. We cried and we rejoiced and cried some more. They’re going to be parents, and I’m going to be a Granny

the miracle of lifeThe baby was just on 4 weeks and 2 days from conception, and according to the chart, just the size of a poppy seed!!

At this stage Peanut was developing what would become his/her brain; the neural tube is forming and the spinal cord.

20180512 the miracle of life

4 weeks and 2 days 🙂

 

20180512 the miracle of life

We shared the news with some VIP people and I started knitting.

Books on pregnancy littered the house and where at first there was none, suddenly there was a lot…..of baby clothes!!! LOL All the baby clothes that I had kept from when my daughter was a baby, as well as the gorgeous little items I had bought over the years (just because I loved them), made an appearance. I’m delighted that Peanut (baby’s nickname) will be wearing some of the same clothes that Mummy wore when she was a baby.

20180515 baby clothes from south africa

baby will be wearing some of Mummy’s baby clothes….

The next scan came on 29 June 2018 and yes!!!! it’s a real baby 🙂

20180629 the next scan

its a real baby 🙂 extraordinarily tiny

Since then the weeks have flown by, and on 9th July, when baby was just 14 weeks, we went for a private scan and saw this precious little soul on an ultrasound scan

and heard baby’s heartbeat for the first time. It is truly the most extraordinary experience….to hear the heartbeat of a baby from the womb. Look how tiny those little feet and hands were!! ❤

I got so excited (and impatient) I immediately set about sorting the nursery. Simon set up the crib and I unpacked whatever I had to hand 🙂 Soon we had the basics set up and I started the long process of washing all the baby clothes we had bought, the South African baby clothes and the clothes they had been gifted from friends and colleagues.

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Mummy & Daddy and the first stages of the nursery

Over these 18 weeks, all baby’s internal organs have developed (healthy and normal), fully formed arms and legs, fingers and toes. Baby has developed ear buds and eyes, can yawn & swallow and has started giving Mummy a few ooofffs in the belly…as this still tiny little creature, weighing just over 500grams, bounces around and flexes legs and arms….a right little gymnast, Peanut is very active LOL

Just 10 days ago I had the most stunning experience of feeling baby kicking…albeit not yet very strong, it was very distinct. I was singing “you are my sunshine” to Peanut at the time and perhaps it was an objection to, or an appreciation of my singing talents!! LOL Not sure yet which.

Baby is now 23 weeks and 5 days from conception and the changes have been phenomenal.

Not only is Peanut now a fully formed little human being, but over the last 18 weeks has been a bit of a shape-shifter; changing from (the size of) a poppy seed to a sweetpea, a raspberry, a blackberry, a hamster, a peach, a lemon, a clownfish, a custard slice, a beet and an avocado pear!!! LOL Peanut is now the size of a juicy bunch of grapes, or a grapefruit…depending on which app you’re reading 🙂

Baby has now formed the air sacs in h/h lungs that will soon be used to breathe!!

With only 16 weeks to go till birth, there are now less weeks till B-Day than there are weeks since I heard the news OMG ❤ ❤ ❤ Truly, if I say I am excited…..that would be the understatement of 2018!!!!

As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, once I returned to earth off cloud 9, I downloaded the Ovia app (a pregnancy app) and started monitoring baby’s progress.

It’s been absolutely amazing to watch how many changes there are each week; body, feet and hands. I’ve read how baby has developed during each & every stage in the last 18 weeks, its truly a miracle of life. Baby didn’t have legs and feet or arms and hands till 8 weeks, but since then they’ve gone from the tiniest little hands and feet you could imagine to now – almost full size……

I wish they would share the type of information that I’ve read on the various pregnancy app in schools alongside of the basic bland practical biological information. Each week has revealed a new level of amazing information.

I remember my Mother always used to say that loved her daughters dearly, and yet the love she felt for her grandchildren was on a different level altogether….I now understand what she meant

20180512 peanut is on the way

I love my Granny – and Granny loves you little Peanut. Can’t wait to meet you ❤

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What a joyous occasion. Today my daughter and son-in-law surprised me with a visit for an ultrasound of baby Peanut and as a treat the nurse let us listen to baby’s heartbeat. oh my gosh, I can tell you the tears flowed…..all 3 of us were sobbing.

first baby, second trimester, ultrasound, listening to babys heartbeat, granny in waiting, first grandchild, ovia app, knitting for babies

Ultrasound ❤

Listening to the heartbeat of a baby from the womb is a miraculous experience.

first baby, second trimester, ultrasound, listening to babys heartbeat, granny in waiting, first grandchild, ovia app, knitting for babies

It was awesome seeing baby’s little body appearing on the screen, just the size of either a lemon or a beet apparently, or perhaps a delicious custard pastry, if you prefer LOL according to the Ovia pregnancy app.

My daughter suggested the pregnancy apps which you can download (for free) and they are absolutely phenomenal. They contain so much information in small bite size (no pun intended) articles, from the size of the baby, to the Mother’s body changes, advice on nutrition and all the changes that are happening to the baby. I’ve loved reading up on baby’s progress. They even show you how big (or incredibly tiny) baby’s hands and feet are each week.

I’ve found it so fascinating reading up on all the changes and progress of the pregnancy and the images on some of the apps of what the baby looks like at each stage are just incredible.

So we’re at 14 weeks now and incredibly it’s already 10 weeks since I first learned that after a very long wait, I am to be a Granny 🙂 Bring it on!!! I can’t wait. Of course besides reading the apps, and now the sheer joy of having listened to baby’s heartbeat and seeing that tiny little body on the screen, we’ve been shopping like nobody’s business (keeping the economy afloat)

and of course I have been knitting like mad.

This is such an exciting and amazing and awesome time. We are all so over the moon and holding our breaths …….keep this baby safe. We can hardly wait to meet this little baby. Peanut is on the way  and I’m going to be a Granny 🙂

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