I have a three drawer freezer

Some days are just hard. This morning I encountered someone who I had not seen for several years. Now sometimes this sort of thing is all hugs and tears and recounting of stories involving Galliano and a bath towel. But this was not one of those times. The last time I encountered this person they were speaking to me, in a somewhat raised tone, telling me all the things that I should be doing, in a place where there were many other people. It was shaming. What made it worse was that they were utterly in the wrong, on almost every level, but I did not have power to engage in confrontation, even to prove myself right. There is a strong possibility that I would still back down if the situation reoccurred. It was a memory that instantly took me back to feeling hurt and many other things. The day slipped into a downhill mode until I saw a friend at lunchtime, and then things became much sunnier. But I am left with a most oppressive feeling. It is now almost 1am, and there isn’t any ice cream in the freezer for me to inhale.

I use the word ‘inhale’ quite loosely, I can make a tub of Ben and Jerry most glorious vegan ice cream (cookies and peanut butter… oh yes..) last two sittings. And yes, I do likely regard this legendary feat of Atlas like strength as something of an achievement. ‘You didn’t eat the whole tub in a single sitting, in under an hour?’ Sweet and hairy Moses woman, you are restraint incarnate!’. It occurs to me, that for me to guarantee having ice cream in the house, when I am feeling somewhat below par, I would need to have around five tubs in the house at any one given time. And I only have a three drawer freezer.

At this point, I started to ponder if I could make room for said imaginary five tubs of B&J’s most delectably delectable cream of froziness (like ‘cosiness’ in a chilly variant) in my freezer. Short answer, if I set my mind to a task I can achieve anything! Long answer, this would involve throwing out, or at least removing the following:

  1. The plethora of frozen bananas that I am never going to turn into banana cake.
  2. The ice pops from last summer that are all the colours that are not blue or red (thus will only provide ‘decorative’ pazazz to a somewhat blandly coloured bottom drawer.
  3. The eight ‘cold packs’ that I have in my freezer, despite almost never using them for their intended purpose. If ever injury necessitates the use of one, then it is maybe it is acceptable to have a couple on standby, but if ever it gets up to needing all eight, there is a fair chance that I should be phoning for an ambulance. And not rummaging about in my freezer.
  4. Various things in bags. No one knows what they are. No one ever should.
  5. Fruit that was lovingly prepared, individually frozen, then transferred into bags, possibly around three years ago (The freezer itself is coming up to five, so there is a couple of years leeway on this), with the intention of healthy fresh smoothies, sumptuous pies and most amazingly crumbly crumbles. It is now all so badly freezer burned that the imagined acidity could likely prove medicinal. In waking the dead.

In short, my freezer needs a clearout.

I love how in one moment, I am fixating on an event long past that is making me feel sad and then, when I challenge it with a little narrative, I feel pleased that I have identified, a quite clearly, long overdue job. Which makes me smile.

What would, of course, have made me smile sooner, was B&J’s vegan ice cream.

Map Point. Why am I fixating on things that remind me of pain?


Where do I go from here?

I have just had a particularly lovely holiday away in Norfolk. One of the best things that I saw was a sign for ‘Thetford Ranges’ I don’t know what these are, but someone had helpfully graffitied an ‘O’ before the word ‘ranges’ that made me smile a good deal. Near to where I live is a road called ‘Poor Hole Lane’. The ‘r’ is coloured over on a regular basis, and whenever I see it, I feel sort of proud that someone, somewhere, has felt motivated to continue the funny. I have never done this. neither have I stolen a cabbage from the local fields (the other apparent rite of local passage), but it made me think about how I perceive different places and the effect that it has.

Whenever I go back to the place where I grew up, I feel as if I am treading on my memories. Although some things look the same, nothing feels that way. I feel a sense of guilt, that maybe I shouldn’t be there, but at the same time, a sense of wonder, that this magical place of growing up still exists. My brother, barring a few years out, has lived in the same area all of his life. I struggle to imagine what that must be like.

The sense of connection to somewhere that you lived feels enormous. Part of me will forever reside in these different places, and visiting them will always feel a bit like going back to that stage of my life. Maybe that is what feels unnerving, that by seeing myself in these older locations, I become so massively aware of the changes that I have gone through, and it doesn’t sit right with the person that I am now. Then I go on to think about people who have lived in hundreds of places, do they have that same sense of connection? Or does their journey never have a chance to bond with a physical location?

It felt strange coming home after being away. My house felt different. As did my road, my car and the sunshine seemed to shine differently than when I was away. It struck me how fragile the connection to a place can be.

Map Point. Where in the world do I feel most connected to?


My errant foot

A few years ago I twisted awkwardly on my ankle and made the tendon excruciatingly unhappy. It healed up within a few weeks, but how my body got used to doing certain things I found really interesting.

As I still needed to eat during this time of abject agony I had to go to the supermarket. To allay the pain, I would lean my arms heavy onto the supermarket trolley, to take some of the weight from my foot, making it a good deal easier to walk. This worked really well, and I was able to feed myself (which I always consider a win!). But then my foot got better, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks after it had, that I noticed that i was still leaning heavy on trollies when I used them. Occasionally, even a couple of years later, I still find myself doing this. For the most part, this feels quite funny.

My body has clearly accepted the familiarity of a particular movement and without me really noticing, it continues to do it. Maybe my body has the memory of that pain so firmly entrenched within my systems, that it accepts this as a default mode. Muscle memory is usually talked about in sports or in playing of musical instruments, but it would make sense that anything that I am doing on a regular basis this could work for.

My friend Kate works for the NHS with their chronic pain team. She speaks to many people who no longer have any reason to be in pain, but they still require high-level pain medication to combat the pain that they are experiencing. After their bodies have gone through high levels of pain, their minds still imagine that it is there, even after the trauma is over, and it continues to manifest.

Maybe the mind works like this too for emotional pain. If something very sad has happened, then sometimes we can get stuck, get looped on a particular set of feelings. Even though an experience has long been over, we still carry the weight, just because we are familiar with always carrying it. Unless I consciously observe my emotional health, it is really easy to hold onto things that no longer serve me. Choosing to put these things down is important. I am allowed to walk unhindered.

Map Point. How am I preventing my happiness?



Denial is my sword and shield

My daughter has just had a week long holiday from school and I? I won the extreme delights of a respiratory infection. I can’t remember the last time that I was this, antibiotic requiring, ill. And it is hideous, but the somewhat odd thing was, that it took me a really long time to realise that I was actually ill in the first place, and I wondered why I went through this level of denial.

To start with I get intermittently terrible hay fever. It would likely be fine if I consistently remembered to take the tablets (I don’t), use the salt pipe and Rudolph machine (see my previous blog ‘my glorious ailment’ for a truly sterling picture of me!). However, for some reason, I have decided that I am quite clearly invincible, so daily usage is not required. Until I start to seriously suffer, which is what I thought was happening, so I started taking some meds. Then the cough began.

Now I don’t usually cough with hay fever, but with denial as my sword and shield, clearly, this was hay fever extraordinaire! A mighty beast of hay fever to be slain! So the coughing continued, and I risked using the salt pipe.

Then the tiredness crept in. Rather than attributing this to anything illness related, I simply surmised that I had been having a few too many late nights and needed a catch-up, and likely it was all just related to my hay fever. The monstrous beast was fighting hard.

Then maybe around ten days later I decided to hedge my bets. I went to see my doctor. He got the stethoscope out and put it on my back as I breathed in and out. He then told me that he needn’t have bothered with the stethoscope as apparently me breathing a little deeper than normal, he could have diagnosed me from across the room. He gave me antibiotics and told me that my hay fever was likely bad too (I knew, I knew!).  But why the denial in the first place?

I think it comes from having very many chest infections in my late teens. I had bronchitis three or four times, once it then exciting developed in bronchial flu (cue laying on the carpet, curled into a ball, making the tiniest clearing my throat sound instead of the big cough that I wanted to do, as I had shredded all muscles over my ribcage, coughing seriously hurt!!). I just no longer perceive myself as an ill sort of person, whereas back then, the onset of winter appeared to always bring cough. That lasted for, well, pretty much winter. I also rocked ordinary flu a fair few times too. I have not been doctor requiring sick for such a goodly while, I think I just forgot that it was an option. Or I was scared to acknowledge the truth.

I think that sometimes the memory of what was before can feel so similar to the present. Realising that just because something has happened before, doesn’t mean it will be identical if it happens again. In fact, it could never be identical because so many variables will be different. Including me.

But anyways,  am mid antibiotic course and now no longer need to sleep during the day in order to recharge enough to keep going. Am considering this a massive win! And clearly, this means I am better?

Map Point. Where am I expecting the past to reoccur?

Memories for my daughter

Growing up I lived in a semi-detached house with a big garden, I remember me and my brother spending hours outside, sitting, playing, charging about. I also remember just staring at the sky, or the grass, listening to birdsong, and Sunday afternoon mowers. Possibly my favourite garden activities were cleaning out the pond (all day task involving trying to keep several large Koi Carp in a huge container whilst the cleaning was carried out (those things were monster Kamikaze and would keep launching themselves out of said container, to which screams and nets would ensue) and the other was the annual garden winter cutting back. These are exceptional memories.

Growing up with my daughter, we have never had a particularly user-friendly garden, or for that matter, in a few places, a garden at all. My friend Will commented recently that children need a garden, and I agreed.  I remembered my good garden times and then I pondered how I could provide that for my child, given our garden limitation.

Then it occurred to me that we live near the beach. My Mum has always, ever since my daughter was tiny, taken her to the beach regularly. As a family, we all know that a ‘paddle’ in the world of my young one generally equates to promises not to get wet and a full change of clothing. Often she has arrived home, wearing just my mum’s coat, grinning from ear to ear and requesting a bath.

Then a few weeks ago I went for the most amazing walk on the beach with her. She had a week of exams approaching and I decided that the beach was the place to begin. It felt natural, instinctive, we just needed to be in the outside, paddling in the surf.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what sort of exciting activities that people do with children, as long as there is outside time included. Being outside together, away from domestic tasks, homework and computers, all the indoor distractions, provides an amazing level of relaxation and chill. I seem to really easily overlook the things that I enjoy sometimes in favour of practicalities. But as of now, beach walking has become a priority. We need that open space.

Map Point. What are my favourite childhood memories?