Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Time Out

time out‘Time-out’ is often considered a punishment, a moment to reflect, consider what you have done, say sorry and move on.

I’ve not been naughty of late (well not very). In fact I have been caught up in the blessings and busyness of having a daughter and her young family move back home during a marriage break up. This has been a very special time for us even though it comes with a lot of added stress. A close friend of mine was also diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer just before Christmas, and I seem to have been swept along with the added responsibilities and challenges that this season in my life has created.

Today as I looked at the image on the right I could imagine the sand on my feet, smell the sea in the air and hear that niggling little voice that said, ‘Come, sit awhile. Rest. Give yourself a bit of your own good advice’.

It made me think that if I was in ‘Time-Out’, my current misdemeanour, would be one of self neglect as I struggle to reset my timetables and squeeze in just one more thing. The trouble being that ‘The one more thing’, has grown on a daily basis. So here I am, pondering my thoughts, writing them down and sharing them with you, my blogging family.

time out 2A very wise friend told me back in December, that the best way to be supportive and deal with any crisis situation, is to ‘Under promise and over deliver’. At the time I thought ‘Wow, that is a brilliant bit of advice’. Sadly I had let it slide and I found myself making promises that I was struggling to keep up with.

‘Time-Out’ is exactly what I have needed to have. Now I will complete the promised tasks, take one step back and watch my words. They will still be words of encouragement and my heart will still be eager to help. I just wont over promise those things that I may struggle to deliver. It may be in my ability or time frame to go that extra mile on some occasions, and when I do it will be an added bonus.

The choice is easy really.

I can be a mum and friend that offers realistic support in a warm and caring environment, or a crazy woman who is fried to a crisp, suffering from burn out. The  char-grilled edges don’t suite me either.


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UK September 2008 023This image was taken back in 2008 on a visit to the UK.

It is special because it is the front door of my family home, the place where I was born, navigated childhood and left as a young  bride.

Inside the awkward door and the thick cob walls is a small room with flagstone floors, framing a threadbare carpet square. An old Inglenook fire-place, complete with bread oven and blackened by centuries of use, is carved into one wall. The recess is over looked by a mantle, holding treasures of a bygone era along with family photos, cobwebs linking each object together. An Aga, covered with fatty grime, dirt and dust sat to one side and the smell of old soot always seemed to hang heavy in the air. Furniture consisted of a square table with four chairs, a Victorian sideboard, two armchairs, a small desk and lots of paperwork and clutter filling every available space.

There was another large door on the opposite wall to this and that is the one that was in constant use. The inside and outside space sadly looking rejected, reflecting the life of my father, an old farmer, refusing to leave his home of sixty-five years in anything but his ‘wooden box’, his words not mine. He lived contentedly amongst this chaos, suffered unnecessarily with a stubbornness that kept everyone at arm’s length and verbally abused anyone who tried to help.

My trip that year coincided with a hospital stay and like a good daughter I rolled up my sleeves and started to clear the mess, strip back the dirt and even cleared a path to the front door. What was a quaint old door with mystery and intrigue became a sterile mess that needed even more work once I had finished, producing a picture that is not on my favorite list. The once highly polished brass door knocker, now tarnished, suddenly became visible, filling me with a sadness that couldn’t be polished away. Layers of paint were also peeling, revealing a long history of colours and shades, reminding me of all the highs and lows I had experienced in life.

Then, rather than appreciating my long hours of labour I was chastised, his anger never abating or forgiving. An attribute I had grown up with over the years, making it so much easier to emigrate to the other side of the world.

Now as I look at this image it always brings a smile to my face as I think of a father who succumbed to the revenges of time. Age slowly creeping up on him, just like the ivy and its tendrils gripping every part of life and ability. He was well-known for his eccentricity, quick temper and dark moods. Every village more than happy to have that one character that sets themselves apart, so long as they did not belong to their family.

It reminds me to leave some things alone, not dig too deeply into the past, or attempt to do the impossible. I wanted to clean up my dad’s life, create a healthier environment, find his better side, feel loved and valued. Instead the great divide became wider and regret became my friend.

My dad has passed away since that time, the room was cleared and worm-eaten furniture along with so much of his life was burnt, my brother more than happy to strike the match. We both mourn and chuckle at our attempts to please this man, reminding ourselves often that some times we just have to let things be.

My thought: A leopard can not change their spots, but we can choose to view them through a soft focus lens and move on.

(c)Sandie’s Snippets 2013

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Ok folks it’s confession time.

A follow-up on my NaNoWriMo meltdown

After a good start in the NaNoWriMo stakes, I was feeling more than a little pleased with myself. My performance and what I was churning out day after day was giving me a great thrill as the NaNo’ graph had me finishing the 50,000 word count with days to spare. Caught in the grip of ‘NaNo Fever’ I lived, breathed and perspired (women don’t sweat) over the pages of writing that were amassing in front of my very eyes. I was excited, very excited.

 Then it hit me or did I hit it? All the things that I was putting on hold, just to reach this November thirty deadline. Important things like family and friends and my responsibilities towards the community in the volunteer programmes I’m involved with. I wasn’t even sure whether I had a book in me, but here I was pounding away at the computer and neglecting the continuity of love, respect and value that I already had from those around me. A crash was imminent.

 For me, I decided, that writing like this was indeed dangerous for my health. A day of feeling physically sick, wrestling with my fears and doubts had me bound up in a deep dark place. Unable to face my computer, not even wanting to go to Writers Group I decided that I had to stop, pull myself together and take a good hard look at what I was doing to myself.

 Then that still quiet voice challenged me to take a look in that mirror, and remind that person not to be too harsh on them selves. Resetting my goal to 30,000 was a compromise; I was not giving up, I still had a destination to reach.  Now I am thrilled to have crossed that line, with 2,000 words to spare, giving me something to work on in the New Year. Homework for writers group has been completed with pleasure, even writing a ‘Blog Post’ has seemed like a walk in the park, compared to the pressures of NaNo’.

So do I believe that writing is dangerous for you health? 

No, not really. On the whole I find it a cathartic time. A good place to reminisce with my past, capture lost dreams and navigate a world of fantasy. I believe it has the power to heal and bring restoration, as dark secrets are brought to light, then dealt with in the hands of characters and plots.

 I love writing. I love the quirkiness of having a single word or line, then having to wrap a poem or story around it. I love the surprise of reading the unexpected on a page and wondering who this Sandie really is.

 But I do need balance.I need to; walk those rhythmic shore lines, listen to the harmony in the sand and surf, scavenge the beach for little treasures of inspiration, then soar as I take flight and see what the future has to offer.

© Sandie’s Snippets 2012

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Just to give you all a bit of a NaNoWriMo update.

This whole experience has been an interesting excursion into the world of the serious writers, with those of you who call it your profession. Realizing and accepting that I am a hobby writer, the kind of writer who is navigating the world of blogging and throwing a few short stories or poems at magazines and competitions, has been an eye opener. It has been an excellent way for me to survey my surroundings, then take a step back and start to assess where I want the future to take me.

So far I have kept up with the word count, but my pre- NaNo life, has had to be squeezed into shorter time frames adding a great deal of pressure to an already busy time schedule. I think my poor hubby is also experiencing this NaNoWriMo madness, as I test out my own version of  ‘Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals’.

Over the coming days, as my NaNo’ efforts get closer to the brick wall of  ‘Where to next?’ and probable abandonment, I don’t believe it is a bad thing. Honesty with myself and my aspirations are far more important, so is the integrity of my faith and lifestyle. My head has a growing list of pro’s and con’s, where finding the right answers seem to be disguised in negative responses,  failure being the greatest villain.

Failing to complete this assignment is not, to my mind a failing, if I come out of it with more insight and a better understanding of who I am and where I am going. I am a winner on so many more levels, as I do have the makings of something that may polish up and go somewhere one day. There is also a greater understanding of the pressures my peers are under to produce their novels and while I already take great delight in cheering them on. From here on in, they will encouraged in much richer ways.

On a final note for my ‘Wednesday’s Writing Thoughts’, a blogging light was turned out this week, when one of my fellow bloggers took the very wise and courageous move, to concentrate on her family and the books she was already working on. This may have added to my deep and meaningful dilemma, but has reinforced the very real fact that family do come first in my life too.

It is on that note I bid you all a good day and see how close that brick wall really is.

While some walls should be climbed over or broken down, this one offers me protection and a safe boundary. I may however need to grow a climbing rose against it and enjoy the blooms, along with their heady perfume, over a coffee or two.

© Sandie’s Snippets 2012

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It has been an olympic weekend and this little princess turned in to ‘The Queen Of Her Castle’, as well as ‘Chief Cook and Bottle Washer’. A tired one at that.

Not being a sports fan, watching hours and hours of olympic events does not thrill me a great deal, but I do love the pomp and ceremony of the opening. Determined not to miss a thing, I set the TV recorder so I could watch it at my leisure. Sounds like a great idea, except I woke up and tried to get back to sleep. A buzz of excitement started to run through my veins and I knew I was missing something that I could be watching live. Quietly I crept out of bed and joined thousands of other people, watching the quaint English countryside evolve through the industrial era, in the  production of the year.

Sadly there was no catch up time for sleep, as I had made plans some months ago to have a family ‘Christmas in July’. Friday saw me gathering up another table and 20 chairs to fit everyone into our dining room for a Turkey Roast with all the trimmings. My day took on olympic proportions as I prepared, cooked and cleaned. Then repeated the exercise again and again untill the smell wafting through the house was magnificent.

Once family started to arrive the fun and laughter began.  The younger kids decided to play hide and seek, while others sat exercising their fingers on mobile phones. Offers of help came and were mainly dismissed, as the kitchen was submitting to my ‘Kitchen Goddess’ reign. Juggling trays of vegetables around the hard-working oven became childs play too, while every warming and heating device that I had in cupboards, came into their own.

I stood back and watched as plates of food were served up. A culinary victory seemed imminent.

My whole family gathering in one place thrills me, I wonder how on earth two people can create this mass of humanity and an atmosphere of family living. It’s not come without its trials along the way, but I felt truly blessed and positively glowed, as the compliments came for a ‘Meal Well Done’. Falling into bed that night sleep came very quickly and yesterday everything happened at a much slower pace.

The house is quiet now, everything is put back in its place and today I plan to find my inner princess again. In the meantime I feel like a medal winner. I’ve surely won gold.

© Sandie’s Snippets 2012


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