Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing Diary – Week 8

white and brown wooden tiles
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I am not including the Covid-19 numbers here every week now. I decided not to track them every day, but at the end of the month instead. I think I’ve lost interest, I’m not sure why, maybe it’s been too long now on this situation. I’m afraid to say it seems to have lost its novelty effect. I still enjoy having the power to do what I want with my time and to spend time with my family, but I feel like I’ve lost the sparkle I had a few weeks ago. It could also be due to the pressure of finishing all my assignments to complete my PGCE. I don’t know.

PGCE

The highlight of the week was my lecture for the last module of the course, Literacy ESOL Theories and Frameworks. This was on Wednesday and it was really good seeing other people and having some interaction outside this house and this neighbourhood. That definitely gave me a sense of normality, for lack of a better word. Gave me a little structure to the day and purpose, such a shame there’s only one more left. In two weeks there is a presentation, which I already did, so I have the week off. But I still have to do a few tasks and the assignment is 3000 words. I think I am freaking out a little with the work load. All I need is a plan and to stick to the plan. I made a list of what I need doing until the 6th of June:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Teach Lesson
  • 10 Evaluations
  • 1 Reflective Post (1, 500 words
  • Level 7 Research Project (1, 000 words)
  • Viva for above project (10 minutes)
  • Assignment (3, 000 words)
  • Finish Professional Practice Portfolio

‘To Do’ Lists

It seems very daunting when I look at the list like this, but I need to break it down into smaller tasks and assign each day to each of the tasks. I just need to make sure I do something each day to give me a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue working. I normally tend to make long ‘to do’ lists and never manage to complete every task in the list. So, from now on, I will chose 3 tasks to do every day. This is better to keep me focused because with a long list, my mind is easily distracted as I might start working on one things and then leave it to do something else. whereas with only 3 main tasks, I will start with one and finish it before moving on to the next. This will give me a sense of achievement and will make me feel more productive. I have started using the Fabulous app and the ‘Deep Work’ feature in it, which also helps to keeps me focused and to know exactly how much time I spend on each task. Also helps dividing the work in chunks, even if it’s only 25 or 45 minutes chunks. At least I know that I will be doing something for 25 minutes and won’t stop until I finish it, for example. I found that this is very helpful to reduce distraction time. I always take a little break in between chunks of deep work, which helps to stay alert and focused.

Creative Writing in Lockdown

I didn’t write anything new this week, but I edited a poem I’d been working on for about a year and I think I finally got it right, I published it in the Facebook group and got really good feedback, so that was good. There was some work published in the group and I am really enjoying reading everyone’s contributions.

Family Time

Phil made Costa ginger biscuits and a pineapple upside down cake this week and we had a BBQ on Thursday and another one on Saturday, that will show on the scales for sure! I don’t care because we enjoyed ourselves.

We played Uno this week, Sunday evening as we didn’t have a roast dinner for lunch after a BBQ the day before, it was fun.

Saturday evening Romina and I did some gardening and that was really good, the garden is looking better, but not good enough to display pictures yet, hopefully soon.

Stay Alert

The week ended with an announcement from the Prime Minister about the next stage of the lockdown. He changed the slogan to ‘Stay Alert’ instead of ‘Stay Home’. But he’s been highly criticised for this message as it is not as clear as the previous message, I think he’s appealing to common sense of the population, which I think it’s a risk as common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden, unfortunately. Sunday night, we were all waiting to hear his message, but for me, it was a bit of an anti-climax. I expected more details and maybe more specifics and there weren’t many. The construction and the manufacture are the industries which are allowed back to work first, which makes sense as they not in contact with the public and they’re easy to keep safe. And it’s good to start doing something for the benefit of the economy. But, the message is very vague and therefore not as effective as saying ‘Stay at Home’, that worries me a little.

 

Posted in 52 Poems, Poetry

52 Poems – Week 6

This week’s prompt is to write about the weather. The first thing that came to my mind, was how hot the weather was when my mother died and how hard it was for me to cope with it. This is a still very much a work in progress.

clouds during golden hour
Photo by Hoang Loc on Pexels.com

It was August 

It was the beginning of August

when my mother fell ill, rushed to hospital.

Not just any August,

this was a scorching summer in the Algarve.

Her weak heart quit two weeks later. Still,

the sun stayed stubbornly hot. How could

it be, when everything had changed?

The world would never be the same again,

yet the sun continued hot and shiny and bright

as usual, like she was still here to grill sardines,

for the family to enjoy after a day on the beach.

Like we could still go out for ice cream or gather

around for lazy afternoons around the table.

Why did the sky not show any sympathy

when my world collapsed? How could

there be any on joy on Earth?

Posted in 52 Poems, Poetry

52 Poems – Week 4 – An invitation

This poem is about my mother who I lost almost 4 years ago and who I miss now more than ever. I have not cried a lot for my mother, because I don’t cry as much now and always struggled to cry in funerals or when people die, it’s a very strange feeling. But I suffer so much with the feeling of missing her and not being able to speak to her or hug her one more time. I’m constantly haunted by the fact that the last time I spoke with her I had no idea it would be the last time.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An Invitation 

I’m inviting you over,

not because we’re in lockdown,

or because I can’t visit anyone,

or receive anyone. I’m not lonely.

I’m inviting you over

because I miss you terribly and

the thought of never seeing you again

hurts too much. My chest is so tight

it could be this disease, but I know

it isn’t. I know it’s the pain of missing you.

If you come to visit, I can hug you

one more time; but this time I will

hold you for longer.

Posted in My Planet

Social Distancing – My Diary

I hope you’re all doing great during these hard times. I’ve been debating the idea of starting a social distancing diary. At first glance, there might not be much point, as every day tends to be much the same as the day before; but on the other hand, it might be interesting to note any self-reflection tendencies or changes in mood and family dynamics, for example. So, I decided to go for it.

Today is day 12 for me. At the moment we are all still talking to each other in our house. My husband has been working from home for a week now and my children have been at home since the beginning of this week. We’ve been quite good at staying out of each others’ ways, until this morning when there was a queue for the shower, only because Phil and I stayed in bed until a little later. But, we survived the clash without any casualties, I’m happy to report.

Books I’ve been reading

So far I finished the book I was reading, The Palace of Curiosities, by Rosie Garland and started Joyful, by Ingrid Fetell Lee. Or rather, I restarted Joyful, as I was reading it before my holidays, but interrupted it to read other things. The Palace of Curiosities is a very interesting love story, narrated alternately by the two main characters, Eve and Abel. I really got into it, it’s different from anything I’ve read before, Rosie said in an interview that she wanted to give a voice to these weird characters that we see in shows and circus, Eve is covered in fur and Abel is immortal. What I love about the story is that it is a lesson not only of inclusion and diversity but also of self love and self-acceptance. Really a good read. Joyful, is a different genre, more on the life style category. It’s about how to create a space and atmosphere conducive to happiness by using ordinary things. It’s very interesting to see the effect of colour and textures for example, can have in whole communities, amazing. I’m really trying to apply it to my life, I always loved colour and now I now why, it does have an uplifting effect in our lives.

Exercise

I am still motivated enough to exercise every morning for 10 minutes, first thing when I get up. I follow the exercise videos on YouTube, by Lucy Wyndham-Read. I’ve been doing a 10 Minutes Cardio Workout, but this morning I started 10 Minutes Inch Loss Workout as I felt like a change. I follow this with a stretch and later in the morning, normally before lunch, Phil and I go for a walk with the dog. We’ve been making these walks longer each day, firstly because we’ve had cake this week as a result of Romina’s spoils from Costa, but then because we just feel like it. The weather has been really nice for walks and we are fortunate enough to live in a quiet area where where we have fields for walks and rarely see other people. But when we cross with other people in the way, everyone seems to be mindful of social distancing, which is good to see when we see in the news how some people are being so irresponsible. Anyway, this morning we went for a long walk which including a little bit of a hill and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I never got out of breath. I’m much fitter than I was a month ago and the best thing is that I really look forward to my morning exercise routine and to these morning walks.

Morning Walk 27.3.20

Other Activities

This morning, I started an online course for my CDP, Mental Wellbeing in Children & Young People, on EduCare, this course has four modules, I completed module one today and will do some more tomorrow. There are other courses I want to do, but started with this one because it’s something I care about and always wanted to do. I was give a free package of 38 online courses at university a few weeks ago and now I will have time to do them all, or at least the ones I find relevant.

The last two days, I spend too much time trying to start another blog. I decided to start a Creative Writing blog, but it has proved a lot harder than I thought, much harder than when I started this one – things must have changed. Today I decided to take a break from that frustrating quest, but I will go back to it tomorrow. I’ve been watching YouTube tutorials, which they make it seem too easy, but when I do it, some of the features don’t work. I was getting quite frustrated yesterday, so I thought I better give it a break before losing my mind and go back to it in later; sometimes it’s just the best thing to do.

In the evening, I watch a bit of TV with Phil and I’ve been working on a blanket in crochet. I think I will donate this one to a local homeless charity, the same one I have donated some sleeping bags and blankets before. It’s a nice colourful blanket and I think it might brighten someone’s spirits while keeping them comfortable and warm. Depending on how long we’ll stay social distancing, I might have time to make more.

So, this is all I have for today. Tomorrow, I will come back with my day 13 entry.

 

 

Posted in My Planet

Why depression was the best thing that happened to me part II

This week I thought I’d develop the theme of why depression was the best thing that has happened to me. Because of the depression and anxiety, I had therapy for a long time during which I learned so much about myself, it was like I was reborn. However, I just want to make clear from the beginning of this post that this is not a linear process; I still have moments of struggle and days when I feel like a fraud and that everything I have to do requires the same amount of energy to launch a rocket into space. Lately though, most of the time I’m good.

My childhood was different from that of the other children I knew, including my siblings, as being the eldest more was required from me. My parents had a business and I had to help out from an early age, before school, after school and during the school holidays. So when most children were happy for school holidays, I always preferred the time spent in school, which for me was the equivalent to play time. My father always expected me to work in the business like an adult, he criticised every single action and every single mistake I made; nothing was ever good enough for him and he was never pleased with whatever I was doing. If all that wasn’t enough to make a little girl feel inadequate, he also loved to humiliate me in front of the customers and the other children that lived on our street and were always playing out. When I was growing up in the 70’s, my parents did things to me that make me cringe now that I had therapy and learned it wasn’t right, but all my life – although I didn’t feel good about it – I carried the weight of shame and guilt as if I could have changed things. For example one Summer my family went out for a day in Spain and I stayed at home alone because there was no room for me in the car, I was 10 years old. Can you imagine how a little 10-year-old girl would feel being left home alone waiting for her family to come back home? My parents, my brother, my sister, my auntie, my uncle and my cousin; they all went and I was left at home. What I remember most of that day was that I was at the window all day waiting for them to come back, it must have been one of the longest days of my life. I knew that I was the least worth person in the family because I was the one they left behind without a second thought, or apology, or any kind of bribe, there was no need I just had to accept the fact that there was no room for me. Today this would have been classed as child cruelty, I’m sure. Not only I worked for my parents business without any pay or recognition, I was also the least worth child in the family. This was one of many identical situations. In my parents’ mind, because I was the eldest I was almost classed as an adult, every issue between myself and any of my siblings was undeniably my fault for the simple fact that I was the eldest and therefore should know better. What they forgot was that I was only 18 months older than my brother, so also a child. My brother was good and it wasn’t his fault that he was the only one allowed to play out while I had to work or the one that got a bike while I never had one. I never got given toys for Christmas or birthdays, while the other girls exhibited their dolls on Christmas day, what I got was pajamas and chocolates from our cafe. I always felt in disadvantage and turned into an adult with an immense need for love and acceptance, but with very low standards, which lead me to very bad decisions – but I won’t go anymore into that for now.

What I want to focus now on this post is that due to the depression and anxiety, for the first time in my life I had to face all these ghosts from the past in therapy and learned that my parents were abusive towards me, not physically abusive but emotionally and mentally, which leaves long-term marks that we don’t see. I learned that it wasn’t my fault that my parents didn’t know how to love me and how to appreciate me or make me feel like a worthy human being. I love them, but I hated how they made me feel and that is ok. I learned that I did the best I could with what I had and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I did really well actually and I have raised three beautiful children who I always made sure to feel loved. After the depression, I learned my worth and I know that I deserve to be loved and respected and that allowed me to find the person that treats me the way I deserve, my lovely husband. All my relationships improved after the depression, but most importantly my relationship with myself had a massive boost. It’s still a work in progress, but everything changed for the better.

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (11)

Parrot on my Shoulder

 

Who do you think you’re fooling? Everyone

can see through you, you’re nothing but a fool,

not interesting, not funny. Nobody likes you!

But Sandra has invited me for coffee and

the team at work sent me flowers and

chocolates. My sister calls every day.

 

Everyone just looks at you with pity! They feel

sorry for you! You’re nothing but a burden, if you

disappear, everyone would be so much better off.

My children need me, they would miss me and

my mother likes to call and talk to me. You don’t

know the meaning of your words. You’re mean.

 

You haven’t got a clue what you’re doing. What

made you think you could be a mother? You

can’t even hold the love of a good man.

One of these days I will shut you up. The nasty

things you say to me are empty advice, not my inner

voice. I have raised three beautiful children.

 

Your father was right! You’re a disgrace, not even

‘worth the water, you drink’… a waste of space.

Where are your accomplishments? Can’t you see it?

I am starting to ignore you, I promise! For too

long I listened, gave you too much credit.

Parrot, you’re stuffed, a work of taxidermy.

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (8)

No – learning to say it

 

“We want to go to the cinema tonight, could you watch the children for us?”

I would, but I’m tired and I need my rest. Ask me another time.

 

“Hey, fancy coming over for a photo shoot? I need to practice for an assignment.”

I already have plans. Why didn’t you give me more notice?

                       

“I’m going to Trafford Centre for some shopping, do you want to join me?”

No. I’m not in the shopping mood, if you know what I mean.

 

“Can you work my shift on Sunday? I really want to watch this match!”

No, I can’t. It’s my first Sunday off in weeks.

 

“Mum, can I have some money for a game tomorrow?

No. If you want games, you must save up yourself.

 

“You’re different but I can’t quite put my finger in it. What changed?”

No, I’m the same. Nothing changed! (I lie.)

I don’t know, you look bright, happier!

Posted in My Planet

Grief – what is normal?

Some people cry when watching a film, reading a book, seeing someone else crying or even watching cute cat videos. Not me. I don’t cry easily. At times, I have wondered if I’m just an insensitive so and so as I have been in situations where everyone around me is crying and I am just there with my dignity intact. I might appear to be in control of such moments, but in fact, I’m in so much pain that my emotions just get bloated inside. Yes, I meant bloated because that’s what it feels like. With my parents’ illnesses and the loss of my mother, I have been constipated with my emotions for a long time. And that is the worst feeling; when you cry, you release the suffering and feel lighter afterward. For a year I have been so heavy with all the emotions and pain inside me, an immense sadness that I can not put into words.

Until last week I had not cried for my mother’s loss and I have felt weird about it, maybe even guilty. I see other people crying – my daughter, my sisters, cousins and friends – and I think, “what’s wrong with me?”. Let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with me – I know that now! After much writing, reading, therapy and self-search, I realised that I have been in a grieving process for a long time. It started when I found out about my father’s cancer, continued with seeing my parents becoming old and frail and the realisation that they wouldn’t be here forever. While my mother was in the hospital, I was consumed with worry about their future or my father’s future without my mother to care for him. I am a worrier and that is one of the biggest enemies of staying in the moment. I don’t think I was ‘in the moment’ when my mother died or even while she was in intensive care. All that time I was in the near future, anticipating my father’s difficulty in coping on his own and the burden that it all would be for my younger sister,  plus feeling guilty for not being able to be there to help due to living in a different country.

I went through the funeral preparation, funeral, packing up my mother’s belongings with my brain somewhere else all the time, a deep sadness was there constantly but I was too busy to deal with it – this is called denial. My worry was my way of postponing my grief. While I was worrying, I didn’t have to accept the fact that my mother wasn’t here and that I was never going to hear the sound of her voice or her wise advice and her long and very detailed account of events. I still find myself thinking of things I want to tell her next time I speak to her as if the phone is going to ring and it’ll be my mother.

Although there were positives in all of this, my mother had a beautiful send-off.  She was very religious and part of the Neocatecumenal Way for over thirty years, so her mass and funeral were truly beautiful and I got great comfort in knowing that it made her soul very happy. This is the importance of rituals during bereavement and grieving, a theme that deserves another blog post of its own. My mother was a good Christian in the real sense of Christianity and she was very well loved and seeing so many people praying with us and offering help and support during that time was such a warm comfort. I will never forget that we had lunch and dinner cared for every day during that time. And there is always someone to look out for my father and help my sister. I know it is not always easy, but my father is coping better than I anticipated and my sister is doing better than well. So all my worry was nothing but a waste of time and energy, what a surprise!

Every time I look at one of the various photos of my mother I have around the house, I feel deep sadness; but last week I look at one of these and I missed her so much. For the first time, I cried the loss of my mother. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I miss her so much and there is so much I want to share with her and so much that I relied on her for. This is the hardest part for me, learning to live without the person you lost when that person has been there for you for the most part of your life.