One Thing Changes; Everything Becomes Different.

When it happened, a year ago, I thought about today.  I pondered, ‘This time next year I’ll be wondering where that year went.’ Sure enough, I’m writing this now thinking, ‘Where on Earth did that year go?’

Going back home is an entirely different experience since Mum died.  She used to reinforce that wherever they lived, no matter what, I always had a home there; and although I wouldn’t hesitate if I ever needed to return, it isn’t home anymore.  With respect to my Dad, it was Mum’s presence that made it home; without her it is simply bricks and mortar.  In fact, for me, being there still feels like we’re waiting for her to come home from the hospital; it’s a place in limbo.  In the past I’d complain to her that the heat in their 3-bed-coastal-town-semi-up-North was practically non-existent.  Her internal heat meant having the radiators on was too much for her to bear; windows were opened to keep her cool while I froze in a myriad layers of clothing…under a blanket…with a hot water bottle and my Dad’s secret stash of Bell’s. (Shhhh.)  Now that she’s gone the heating goes on full, but the warmth has gone.  

Mum loved her life; she was the embodiment of happiness and simplicity; she took joy in baking and crafts; she didn’t strive for more than she had because all that she had was more than enough – despite the agonising years battling cancer.  This constantly astonished me.  She was the happy kind and I envy that.  She was also a true matriarch, she had it down to a fine art; cooking, freezing meals, baking, organising the home, I mean a proper domestic goddess.  I wish I was even half as accomplished as she was at juggling work and home, let alone simultaneously, overcoming her illness.  Even as a single, homely-type of woman I scarcely do her justice due to my lack of kitchen abilities and domestic prowess.  It’s what I love about a homely woman – the compassion, the warmth, the care, the provision; Mum had it all in abundance.  Arriving home was like being wrapped in warm mixed-spice-infused cotton wool with big fluffy unicorn slippers on your feet, a favourite black and white film on the tele, a brew and a wedge of homemade cake on the side – and plenty more where that came from.  I really bloody miss how she greeted me and looked after me when I was there, but I will never have that again.  Mind you, I can’t forget that there would always be a massive side order of guilt for not living closer shoved on my plate – you know, for balance.

I have read that the second year is often worse than the first – all the amassed sentiment, the profundity placed upon every first that has since passed (birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries) loses its initial significance; two will become three, three/four, four into five years, and so on for the rest of our lives. Yet for all those years left to pass I don’t see any time when the disbelief of her early passing is no longer present. This blurry, erratic, torrid, first year is over and it feels like the next level of closure – like that period of time between death and funeral – we’ve been in a bizarre healing bubble for twelve months; experiencing every high and low imaginable and now it’s time to settle down.

I guess I’m glad that this first year is done with.  Perhaps it was just me, or perhaps it is textbook grief, but I felt compelled to make every ‘first’ poignant, well remembered, acknowledged.  I bought (and wrote) her a card and flowers on the first Mother’s Day without her; I couldn’t stop myself, it felt so wrong to not get her something.  I bought her a cake on her birthday and asked my work colleagues to have a slice on her behalf and they all did….one by one they came to me with cake and whispered, “happy birthday Joey’s Mum,” in my ear.  That was pretty special and I love them for doing that.  This morning I will go to the cemetery with my Aunt (Mum’s Sister-in-law) to clean the gravestone and place fresh flowers; later I will spend the evening with some family (Mum’s youngest Brother and his wife) who were present the night she died.  We’ll all reminisce, laugh and probably cry too.  Mostly, I am sure, we’ll laugh as there are so many good memories to cherish.  

However can it be that we’ll not see that smile, hear that laugh, smell that baking, listen to the daft things she would utter before making herself cry with laughter?  How can I never buy her something she wanted or receive a note and parcel from her in the post?  How was the last thing she ever made me the last thing she’d ever make me?  How did we talk so much but now I can’t call the number that is still in my phone?  How did she leave us so soon?  How does our world still turn?  Oops…tangent alert!  That was the disbelief kicking in again.  Death is a part of life, we all know this, but when it happens to you, when your loved one is taken unjustifiably too soon, when they had so much left to enjoy….and when you have (potentially) so many years to live without them…well it’s the biggest cruelty of human existence.  You accept the practicalities of their departure, but the dull ache in your heart never subsides.  Yet for all the fist wagging at the Gods, it was an honour to have ever had that love, to have known that person…

It was an honour, Mum.

JG 28.09.17

310lbs + 1085metres = Achievement

Little can prepare you for your first walk up Snowdon unless you are used to hiking and, actually, even if you are used to hiking I still don’t think you can be fully prepared.  On our journey up we spoke to several people who shared their climbing tales and for some, despite having previously summited, it hadn’t got any easier; and these people seemed fit; they were certainly slim.  Imagine then, if you can, what it must be like for a 310lb lump of lard on legs to make her way up a mountain….probably sounds impossible right?


The plan to summit Snowdon and raise money for the British Heart Foundation (a charity my late Mum had supported) was formed in the early months of this year.  It was born from a desire to get fit, to lose weight and, not in a half hearted way, I mean actually go for it and get the stones off.  This wasn’t the first time I have declared this to myself and it won’t be the last.  As it transpires, the stones have not come off as I had envisaged, so rather than Snowdon being something to lose weight for, it became an activity that would serve to increase my fitness levels, as would a class, a swim or a gym session.

My initial plan for Snowdon in July was postponed due to a muscle injury, but not to be put off, I rescheduled for September 2nd.  I had two friends committed to being my support and the cash was coming in to my Just Giving page.  I never had any doubt that I’d make it to the top.  I was convinced I had enough of a good level of fitness to get me up there and if my fitness failed, my sheer stubbornness and unwillingness to fail would see me succeed.

The morning of the climb arrived and we assembled in Llanberis.  I was excited, nervous and well up for the challenge.  Around 20minutes in I began to repeatedly utter the words, “This was a mistake.”  Without a doubt, the hardest part of the entire climb was up a minor road before you even get to the summit path.  It is exceptionally steep; the lungs were being overworked and the quads…oh my….the quads!  I had jelly legs instantly.  I don’t know how many times I stopped on that initial slope, but each time I stared at the mountains ahead of me, I had no comprehension of how I was going to complete this challenge!  I felt I was doomed before I had even made a real start.

It wasn’t until later in the climb that my friends revealed their own concerns.  One saying that she wasn’t sure she’d make it up , ‘if this was how it was going to be the whole way,’ and the other admitting a loss of faith in me and my ability to continue…. I can’t say I blame him!  I didn’t look that confident in myself, but despite my negative outbursts, I knew in my heart that I had no choice.  Turning back was not an option, no matter how hard this was going to get.  I had set this for myself, and in doing so, had also taken £750 in donations (it has since risen to £830) and had a multitude of amazing messages to bolster me – I was not about to let myself, or anyone else, down.

With the buoyancy of my friends’ encouragement we moved upwards, struggling but moving – a good friend of mine’s words echoing around my head, “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and before you know it you’ll get there.”  I was beyond happy when the ground levelled out as I had imagined it would!  The flat walk that followed was heavenly!  However, we walked for some time before we realised we’d managed to take a wrong turn and had gone past the gated entrance to what is known as the Llanberis path.  A large group of people had been in front of the signpost that stated, ‘Summit path,’ when we passed so we hadn’t noticed.  It was only when we saw no-one else was in front or behind us that something must have gone wrong.  Sure enough, those heading towards the summit were clearly ascending the mountain way above us.  In hindsight, I was very grateful for this oversight!  It had given me a chance to catch my breath and enjoy a nice flat walk – one which I wouldn’t get again until we had descended.

Now on the correct path it was all uphill – but I was happy because I knew that no matter how tough or steep it got, it was never going to be as bad as the start.  This became one more good reason to enable me, mentally, to push onwards to the top.  It took 2.5hrs to reach the Halfway House, which I was very pleased with.  I was absolutely gagging for a sit down!  It seems funny to recollect now.  The brain is hard-wired to eliminate the negative emotions, the hardships, the turmoil from memories.  To sit here now, recalling that point, I feel like I got there okay and with no undue distress.  When I actually put myself back there emotionally, the reality kicks in.  I was knackered.  I could see the café ahead, but I just kept stopping for breath.  I can remember seeing it but not being able to just walk straight up to it, even though I was only a few metres away.

So we sat and had tea and some lunch, took in the view, let the legs rest.  I have no clue how long we sat there for, but one of my friends did remark that we’d sat too long.  I do remember getting cold and us putting our jackets on; probably not ideal because your muscles will cool down and then it’s extra effort, physically, to motivate and continue.  Still, it was what it was.   We chatted for a bit, commenting on how far we had come.  I looked up to see the, ‘line of ants,’ as we called them, in the distance climbing to the top, (although the summit was out of our sight at this stage) and I couldn’t understand how I was ever going to get up there, but then I looked back and was astonished that I had made it this far.  In my heart I had already won.  This was mine.

Back on the path and it was steady as she goes.  I don’t remember much about the next leg of the ascent, apart from cramp.  Oh man the cramp.  I had parts of me cramping that I didn’t even know could cramp!  I had to perch on a boulder at one point, on a very steep slope, because I couldn’t take another step.  Both calves had seized up; I had one friend on each leg trying to massage and manipulate the muscle.  I lost my balance and began to topple backwards, fortunately there were a group of four or five large fellas walking by who pushed me back up before I hit the deck!  “You alright luv?” they asked, but I was fine.  After another gallon of water the cramp subsided and we carried on.  This happened intermittently, some worse than others; I would walk as far as I could before the pain stopped me.  A good glug of water seemed to instantly do the trick so I knew I was dehydrating.

The closer we got to the top the more people would encourage us that we weren’t far away and to keep going.  It was awesome considering I was worried beforehand about being judged by people on the mountain – judging me for being too fat to do something like this.  Ridiculous yes, but it’s the fat person’s curse, especially if you’re not a stranger to fatism in life.  I imagined noses being turned up in my direction with mountaineering snobs saying, ‘look at her, she’ll not get far, she’ll need to be airlifted out, bloody drain on society!’  So far from what actually happened.  Many were encouraging, impressed that I was doing it.  I loved it and I love them all for it.  There was a real sense of camaraderie now I think about it; we were all there, doing the same thing, all at different ages, fitness levels, all for different reasons, but together with one common interest – to summit and to summit safely.

I had seen an aerial flyby of the route from ground to summit, so I knew what to expect and I was not looking forward to the summit push.  I was even less impressed when I saw it in person!  It was covered in low rolling clouds, but what I could see was a path that seemed only wide enough for one person at a time, but which was covered in people, one side a sheer drop, the other side hidden from view.  I also knew at this point I was definitely going to get the train down, so I had no choice but to make the push.  The train leaves from the summit, so the alternative was to turn back and descend the entire mountain.  Not happening!  So up we went. When you are actually on the push it’s not as narrow as it seems from the base.  I was so busy safely placing my feet on the climb, watching where I was going, that I didn’t even notice the landscape around me.  It was a fairly hair raising climb at times, but guess what?  I bloody well made it!  I made it all the way to the summit, hands on the plinth and back down to the café for a brew before the train. 6.5hours in the making, including breaks and pit-stops.

Apart from being a sponsored walk, it was also done in Mum’s honour; but, most importantly this walk was for me, to prove to myself that I can do anything if I really want to, despite how hard it may seem.  Not just that, but because I only lost 11lbs before the event, the usual good intentions falling disastrously by the wayside, I wanted to show myself and others that weight should never be a discouragement when it comes to physical accomplishments.  Admittedly, and obviously, if I had been lighter and fitter I could’ve summited with less effort, less struggle than I did, less pain than I felt – but once I had reached the top, all of that dissipated immediately and I was filled with a self pride that I knew would come.  There is a fundamental change in you when you do something that defies your own self-expectations; when you overcome a fear, when you complete a task you never thought possible before; a switch is flicked and you are changed.  Proud.  Accomplished.  There is no other way of finding this without actually doing whatever it is that you want to do.

At 310lbs I summited Snowdon.

JG 07.09.17

Why Didn’t I? How Haven’t I Still?

1994.  I’m 17 and I’m in my bedroom in a house in Dagenham, Essex, where I live with my folks and younger brother.  The room is black.  I think the only thing that isn’t black is the skirting board; Mum insisted that I could have whatever colour I wanted in the room, but those skirting boards had to be white.  I guess it was cool that I was given freedom of expression, despite the single, parental stipulation; but I accepted the terms and proceeded to choose black furniture, black curtains, black bed covers, a speckled mix of black and grey wallpaper.  Posters?  Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, Morrissey/The Smiths, Soundgarden. Yes, I was into that whole Seattle grunge thing.  I had previously discarded my divan and the mattress, now on the floor, was what I attempted sleep on every night.  The scruffy sheets of an unmade bed,  scrunched and bunched up from a fidgety night’s restlessness, are the untidiest parts of this room and will remain that way today.  Despite my sullen mentality, everything else is in order, just how I want it.

I’m cross-legged on the corner of the mattress at the foot of the bed.  I’m wearing blue jeans, black and white base-ball boots (a la KC), a white T-shirt and my absolute favourite oversized, grey, woolly, big buttoned cardy – super grunge!  It’s 9am and I have nowhere to be.  It’s the 6wks summer holiday, between completion of my first year of A-Levels and the return year at my Comprehensive, but I have no intention of going back.  I’ve already drunk one can of Diamond White and I’m halfway through my second.  The can is in my right hand, my left hand is full of paracetamol; I have been saving them in a small tin for a while.  All that needs to happen now is to put the pills in my mouth and wash them down with the rest of the booze.  My suicide note is written and is laying on the floor next to the pill tin.  The house is empty apart from my brother who is fast asleep in his room, my parents have gone to work.  I don’t know how long I sat staring at those pills in my hand, but eventually I put them back in the tin, hid the note and, somewhat catatonic, left the house.

I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do when I got there; I just left.  And walked.  I understood very well what I wanted to do.  I wanted to not be alive anymore.  I wanted that feeling to go.  I wanted the emotional pain to go.  I wanted the sadness to go.  I wanted the inadequacy to go. I wanted the self-hatred to go.  I wanted the pointlessness of life to go.  I wanted to go back to wherever I came from; a place I felt I had been extracted from so that I could begin developing in Mum’s womb; like something that had been missing all my life and I wanted to find it again.  But it didn’t exist in this life.  So it must be somewhere else, somewhere ethereal, other dimensional, unearthly, heavenly….anywhere! Just somewhere that wasn’t here.

I walked to the end of the road and turned right onto Central Park Avenue.  My Nan lived round the corner to us.  As I approached the turning to her road, expecting just to carry on past (without looking down towards her house as I would normally have done) there she was.  At that exact moment!  We literally bumped into eachother on the corner.  We hadn’t seen eachother coming as the house on that corner had a 6ft brick wall for a fence.  I was stunned out of my reverie, happy to see her, and continued on with her.  We walked down the (Oxlow) Lane and she ran her errands with me in tow; then we walked back to her house and I spent the rest of the day with her, playing cards, eating goodies, watching videos – without mention of what had happened at home earlier that morning.  A surreal day if ever there was one.

Sometime later that summer I wrote my Mum a letter detailing my mood and wanting help for my suicidal ideologies.  The outcome of this letter wasn’t favourable.  Fortunately for her she had no comprehension of depression, she’d never experienced it – but that doesn’t help a teenage girl with manic depression and a desire to end her life, looking to her Mum for answers.  Ultimately I was alone to face it all head on, to deal with it with zero input from anyone else and I vowed (at that time) to never tell Mum anything so personal again.   My folks hadn’t been too impressed with me a few weeks/months earlier when I destroyed as many photos as I possibly could that had me in them; ones from early childhood up ’til that time.  In my disturbed mind I wanted to eradicate myself from existence, so that when I died there would be no trace left of me; like I had never happened.  Obviously this wasn’t logical; there were many others with photos of me, let alone memories of me, but I didn’t equate that at the time.  I was in a weird place, not of sound mind, and yet I knew I wanted to die.  The problem is, I didn’t go through with it.

2017.  I’m now 40.  I’m in a house that I rent alone and I’m writing about suicide.  (Is that worrying?!!)  Truth is, I just watched a film about Kurt Cobain and it took me right back.  He killed himself in 1994 and it hit me hard back then because I understood it.  That need to die, the ‘no choice’ of it all, the tragedy, the inevitability.  I felt the same way.  I felt like there was no other course, no other way forward that was gonna make any sense; to end it all made the most sense to me.  To this day, I don’t know how I am still alive.  I don’t know why I didn’t go through with it.  Actually, no, I do know why – I had too much of a conscience.  As much as I didn’t want to live, I felt I didn’t have the right to take a life that my parents had lovingly given to me.  I understood the devastation that a suicide can have on those left behind.  I hadn’t experienced it first hand, I’ve just always been an understanding and deeply compassionate person….how could I devastate my family like that?  So I suffered with a life I didn’t want, a life I resented, a life I wished away every night before I’d fall asleep.

I don’t suffer from depression anymore and haven’t for a number of years – but that is because I actively chose to not give it any power.  I do believe in experiencing a negative emotion, as it is character building, but not for any great length of time.  Acknowledge it, address it, resolve it – don’t ever hand it your control; but depression isn’t the only reason to commit suicide.  Genuinely, and I can say this because it comes easily to me and without deep negative emotion, I have thought most of my life that I will end my days by my own hand.  I guess it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if I went down that road one day.  I know that most people won’t understand that way of thinking and immediately want me sectioned before I do myself harm, but it’s not like that!  You’re just gonna have to take my word for that.  It’s more to do with circumstance and a right to do with your life whatsoever you wish.  This isn’t about depression or sadness, this is about pure choice.

I live a good life these days.  I have taken many steps to rectify my own suffering over the years and I am far happier now than I have ever been, but that doesn’t mean to say I passionately love life in general.  I’ve never been able to say that.  Life, as amazing and beautiful as it can be, is still phenomenally exhausting at times.  Whether it’s confrontations you could do without, a plan not coming to fruition, the acceptance of disappointment that what you hoped from life isn’t coming your way, the incessant change of feelings, the unknown, the unfulfilled dreams, the fulfilled dreams and what may come next, and the constant sacrifices, there is the fundamental question at the base of it all….what is the bloody point??!!  Sometimes, for me, the sheer boredom from my relentless singledom is enough to make me question it all when life goes off kilter.  It can be all you need just to have that one person to come home to, to call when shite hits the fan, to be cuddled when tears fill your eyes, to be surprised by when everything else takes on a dullness.  When you don’t have that, year after year after year….man, that gets old real fast.  Although it is said that great things come from dark times, or bored times, to endure those times…well if you could see me I’m simply shaking my head, giving a sigh of incredulity and not finding enough words to put into perspective, for you, just how many times I’ve found myself in this insecure awkwardness of personal transition.  Looking into the future, what if I don’t find those things I yearn for?  What if I continue to find myself in this position where I am uncertain of what is coming and still alone with that uncertainty?  It’s not far from my imagination that I could just go, ‘ah fuck it, let’s clock out now….I’m done with this.’  As tragic and blah blah blah as it may be, sometimes it really does make so much sense to me.  I don’t think that suicide is a cop out.  I think it’s a legitimate life choice.  Well, death choice.  For the terminally ill, the suddenly incapacitated, the chronically depressed or the dispassionately bored, I get it.  And I have such empathy for it.

If I was to be told, right now, that this is all my life will ever be, with no great love to befall me; a life lived as alone as it ever was….I’d be punching that card, with love in my heart and an acknowledging smile on my face, and without any regret.  So I guess, curiosity and hope is what is keeping me alive now, despite the intermittent tedium.

JG 13.07.17


Do Over

Flashbacks are a funny thing; so random, so unexpected. A memory, seemingly lost over the years will suddenly pop into the forefront of your mind and in that otherwise banal moment you are catapulted to a time and a place you hadn’t thought of for decades (if you’re as old as me) and, most significantly, to an emotion that resurfaces, despite the space and time that has passed between. In terms of Reiki distance healing, it is said that you can heal any point in your past or your future – imagine two separated dots on a piece of paper represent two points in your life; by lifting the paper and folding so that both dots are now touching eachother, so space and time can be brought together (by those in a higher dimension). Have I lost you?! This is how best I can explain the emotional echo from all that time ago, distinctly present in the now. 

As I was cleaning coffee stains from the kitchen counter at my current workplace I was reminded of an episode from two decades ago that I had no particular reason to remember, it just popped up. It was at a workplace and involving a person I have long forgotten. Upon carrying my newly made coffee from the kitchen to my desk I turned my ankle and splashed half of my beverage across the double doors to the office before hobbling to my desk, cursing my consistently unstable ankle joints and berating myself for being so utterly useless. (Dramatic I know, but such was my middle name back then.)  Mr ‘Ego,’ the manager of the department adjacent to mine, came to my side, bent his elongated frame over and with arrogant aggression – not to mention invasion of my personal space – asked me if I ‘was going to clear up the mess I’d made, or what?’

Even now, whilst typing this, I am livid beyond rationale. At the time, as a 19yr old girl, I had no notion that I was allowed to tell him to go fuck himself and how dare he speak to me in that fashion; although I probably did reply with something flippantly juvenile.  He was someone whom I had no rapport with and didn’t particularly like because of his entirely unwarranted and unearned bravado; but certainly whom I didn’t expect such personal rudeness from. I did clear the mess, naturally, as I had intended to do once the throbbing pain had dissipated.

When the memory subsided and my focus was returned to the present I was met with a somewhat desperate plea for a do over. I wanted to go back to the me of that moment and stand up for myself, as I would do if I was approached like that today.  I most certainly wouldn’t allow a persons rudeness, especially if directed specifically at me, go without a cutting blow from my curt tongue nowadays.  Such are the lessons we learn throughout our lives.  I am wise enough to appreciate that he was probably having a bad day and decided to take it out on me, not that this is an excuse for such actions; but he had never approached me prior to this and I certainly gave no-one just cause to react to me like that.

Perhaps I am as ever, too sensitive for my own good; but the power of that emotional charge, brought on by a simple snapshot of the past, resonated so extraordinarily fiercely with me that I was quite taken aback.  Imagine the people we could be right now if we popped back in time and gave ourselves the sterling pair of shining proverbials that we have so justifiably earned since we were too young, too weak or too stupid to know better…!

JGlover 18.07.16


Straight Dreams and Gay Days


My dreams have become a cause for concern lately; now I know to some, hearing about other people’s night time imaginings is a distinct bore, but I love ’em. They can be hilarious, confusing, peculiar, but always interesting; and I like to seek out the symbolism, whether in my own dreams, or the dreams of others. The general theme and running joke of mine for some time are the exploits of my apparent alter ego and her preference for those of the opposite sex. I was starting to wonder if I’m as gay as I always thought I was.

Initially I began dreaming of the only men I found physically attractive, Beckham, Somerhalder, Pavelka, Hartnett, Tatum…..oddly Tom Daley crept in one time, don’t ask, I am unable to explain that one (apart from him also being gay I’m probably old enough to be his mum)….oh, and Jason Manford….anyway, they were all in love with me and wanted to be with me. I took enormous comfort in their adoration and affection, although it wasn’t similarly reciprocated.  Very recently I dreamt about a male work colleague; it’s been years since I dreamt of a friend in that way, especially a fella. Recounting these shenanigans was just for fun; to tell my straight girlfriends just how much hot Hollywood action this lesbo was getting.  Recently though, I had been getting somewhat perturbed.

Googling, ‘straight dreams when you’re gay,’ wasn’t particularly helpful; but it did provide a glimmer of hope. I wondered if my spirit guides were trying to warn me of what is to come, so that I’ll be less shocked if I was to ever fall for a man in reality. Bizarrely I have to say……it was working. I have been bombarded each night with straight love, straight intimacy, so much so that my waking mind has opened to the notion that yes, it is a possibility. When you fall for a person you fall for their soul, not their packaging; as an open minded person, I have to be open to the notion, although I’m not at all keen on the idea! Yet dreams being more to do with symbolism than hard fact, perhaps it’s more of a reflection on my attitude towards love and relationships. I have been told by a clairvoyant that the person I end up with doesn’t fit the bill of my usual type, and you can’t get more opposite than the opposite sex! However, it’s more likely that my subconscious is opening my mind to allow freer ideas of what my future love will be.  (Thanks Google search.)  As a result of my subconscious hijinks, the wall I have successfully built over the years has finally cracked, revealing shards of light from the land of love beyond.  Crack on I say!

Since the colleague dream, after which I began putting this brain fart to paper, I had gone to bed the next night asking the Universe what it was playing at. I advised my guides that even if I did fall for a man it would never work….the physicality of such a relationship is incomprehensible.  I needn’t have worried too much; my prayers were answered and I awoke with a smile on my face. I dreamt that I had organised an Orange Is The New Black convention in town and various pub/club after parties. Every single person in my dream, filling the town, was a lesbian; not a straight woman or man to be seen and I found myself quite in my element. If I needed an affirmation of my sexuality then that was definitely it!

JG 05.04.16

Losing Faith

To have faith (not necessarily religious) is to have hope; to lose faith means all hope is gone. It’s understandable, therefore, why, ‘Keep the faith,’ resonates across the globe; but what if faith lets us down? What if we wait so long for something we believe in that we end up growing wearisome and abandon our hope? Life, in that instant, becomes entirely meaningless; depression will ensue and in the most extreme cases, where no light is found, suicide. It seems simple, given the drastic nature of such a demise, that the best option is, indeed, to keep the faith; yet in my experience, doing so is exhausting; sometimes the faith just slides away; a situation I have found myself in recently.

I have long believed that my soulmate is out there, that my perfect version of love exists and that I am yet to find her. As a woman who will not settle for less, I am resigned to being single until the big one reels in. I have also believed that my maternal Nan, who passed away five years ago, has been with me ever since, in spirit, and I have felt her presence from time to time, consciously as well as subconsciously, in my dreams. A paternal Uncle has visited me at key times, also within my dreams. These experiences had been too significant to simply be random sleepy imaginations.

Recently a decision to accept an invitation to Paris in June, became the catalyst for the shattering of my belief system. I have refused many previous nonchalant invitations by acquaintances because, for me, Paris is too romantic to see with anyone other than a soulmate, lover, partner. This time, when asked by friends, I figured, why not? Why wait any longer? If I never meet ‘the one’ I’ll never go; and in that simple decision to take a trip to Paris, I lost my faith. Slowly, my self-awareness crumbled, parts of my psyche packed up and wandered off in varying directions, leaving me lost and unsure of my existence. There are, of course, a chain of circumstances that lead up to such a malfunction, but there’s always a snapping point, thus Paris.

I have taken time out of my long term contract to attempt to re-evaluate myself, my life; to have a break from people and all external noise, so that I might hear myself again. There was no need to run abroad to a beach or go back-packing in search of finding oneself; the truth is we find ourselves within ourselves and our physical beings can be anywhere for that to happen. Instead I have stayed around familiar settings, the comfort of my home and my family (and a few caring friends in between who have kindly been to see me, or messaged to check up on how I’m feeling.). Yet, even the high of visiting family up North dissipated within a few hours of being back in my own home. The incessant aloneness is unbearable at times and I soon found myself floundering in the well of faithless gloom once more.

Despite having a fairly sociable week, my mood hadn’t altered. With my energy levels bordering on low to non existent I kept a promise to visit a friend and her partner last weekend in Salisbury. I don’t really know how this happened…but when asked what I’d like to do I promptly responded, “Glasto.” She’s always telling me how lovely a place it is, so it was the first thing I thought of. She’s been to see a Medium before in the town, so she must’ve asked if I wanted to see her, and I must’ve said yes, because before I knew it she’d booked me an appointment for the day I arrived. No sooner had she collected me from the train station we were on our way to Glastonbury; she dropped me at the shop with only a couple of minutes to spare before my appointment commenced, while she went off in search of a parking space.

I had no expectations of the meeting and I was completely unprepared for it, emotionally. Though I believe in mediumship and clairvoyancy, my untrusting nature means I am always sceptical of the individual claiming to have the gift. As with all people I encounter, I look for trust before I accept them. This particular woman was either totally legitimate, or excellent at reading body language and facial expressions. She accurately described me; divulged details of what I am seeking/feeling and advised that my Nan was indeed with me and watching me at all times. Some of what she communicated didn’t make sense to me, but a great deal did. I left the meeting quite shell shocked but, most assuredly, changed.

There is no way of truly knowing if my Nan was my by side in that session, or whether I was played to the tune of £35 and 30 minutes of my day; but I immediately realised that it didn’t matter either way. We all have an abundance of choices at our fingertips, every second of every day. In that moment I had the choice to believe or disbelieve. The messages and encouragement I received were entirely positive and exactly what I needed. To draw me out of my funk I needed something powerful, something from beyond the grave. I needed my Nan. What I heard was the door to faith reopening. I felt empowered.

From the moment I stepped out of that mystical shop, (which is basically like every other shop on the high street… fact the entire street permeates joss sticks and sounds the clanging of a million wind chimes; with the occasional vegan café thrown in in-between), I felt better than I had done in weeks. My belief system had begun to rebuild; the soulmate, the future, the possibilities, all started to filter back into my being and my eyes re-opened. Choosing to disbelieve the experience wasn’t really an option. Okay, so I’m going to Paris without a lover…I’m over it….and I can’t wait to get there! The day will come when I’m able to go with my soulmate and it will be every bit as beautiful as I have always imagined it would be.

Life can be hard work at times; the battle can wear you down to the point of despair, but it truly is hope and faith that all will be well, that we can make different choices to improve our lives, that keeps us going. Losing faith in ourselves or our life’s plan can destroy everything we are. I am extremely glad I had that special half hour. With this new and improved faith, I have hope, and that is a much better feeling and far more productive state to be in.

No matter how hard it gets……..keep the faith.

JG 09.02.16

Photo of Doom!

There’s nothing quite like a photograph to make you see yourself through different eyes, and it never ceases to amaze me how vastly different the perception is from what you see in the mirror. The camera tells an unspeakable, unforgiving truth; one that you cannot argue with. Last night I faced my own mortality thanks to a certain photo taken that day.

I spent yesterday with two friends on a day trip to Southwold beach. It’s a place none of us had been before, and my bezzie and I do like to always try somewhere new. As the weather has been so gorgeous, we thought we’d capitalise on it and treat ourselves to a day out of the office. We had lunch on the pier and a Mr Whippy on the beach, paddled in the sea, soaked up the sun; the usual seaside itinerary. It was a lovely day, good fun in the car, singing, laughing, and much joviality; a very relaxing and joyful day; until I got home.

My good friend, of many years, sent me three photos from the day. Two of them were of me sitting on the beach, they were pleasant enough. I had given her strict instructions to only capture an image of me from the neck up (as I do with everyone.) The other one absolutely scared me to death. I was lying on my blanket, arms outstretched, relaxing, oblivious to all; and in this sleepy state, eyes closed……I look like I’m dead. Like a corpse. I don’t look like I’m relaxing happily; I genuinely look like I am dead. Perhaps it’s the unfortunate shadows cast across my face making my skin look grey, maybe it’s because there’s just so much of me that my face contorts when gravity takes hold. Either way, it made me sick. It made me feel like my spirit had just risen from my fleshy vessel and I was looking down at my dead self. That picture wouldn’t be out of place if it had been taken of me in my coffin. I have never felt such an intense sense of my own mortality until that point; and I have never wanted to stay alive more than in that moment.

As I sobbed, looking at my seemingly lifeless body, I suddenly thought about all those times, over bygone years, that I’ve spent in depressions, wishing my life away, wanting to die, and contemplating ending my days. In that image I had my wish and it petrified me. I no longer have any desire to end my days nor do I want my days to end; I certainly don’t want my days to end looking so oversized, or as a result of it. I’ve never had as big a kick up the arse as that single photo has given me. I’ve never seen anything so hideous in my life. If ever my motivation to change falters…..I just need to look at that picture.

It was quite a timely awakening as tonight, a friend and I are going to take part in a Bootcamp with one of my heroes, Jessie Pavelka. I love what that man does for people, the way he helps them transform their lives. In my fantasy, he takes me under his wing, his new project if you will; and keeps in touch until I am at my goal. In reality, just meeting him will give me the boost I need and I can take from it enough to reinforce my desire to lose this physical baggage whenever my resolve weakens; which it all too often does.

Apart from the weight issue, the picture wasn’t unlike Scrooge being visited by one of his ghosts; depicting what it would be like to see life after you’ve passed over. As distraught as it made me, it was also quite a gift. In that shockwave of emotions and thoughts that overwhelmed me, I was granted clairvoyance; a vision of my future that I want never to become a true eventuality. That person will not be my future. My path instantaneously altered it’s course as I opened the file on my mobile phone. When the time comes that I really do exit my body and peer down at myself it will be that of a thin, wrinkly, ancient old prune with an accomplished smile; happily at peace.

Soul of a Poet

I am frequently told that my poetry makes the reader feel my sadness.  In response, I usually advise that they aren’t always written from a place of sadness, I just seem to sound that way.  (This observation isn’t exclusive to my poetry, it seems the tone of my text messages also emits the same impression!)  It used to be a standing joke, with an old friend of mine, that the mere mention of my putting pen to paper must mean a looming depression.  It is true, of course, that some are written purgatively, as though to exorcise a dark daemon.  When this occurs I usually feel instantly better and free of negativity; the rest of them are written purely as an expression of thought – some directly pertaining to my own emotions/experiences, the rest pure imagination.

I am a person who has known great sadness, but I also know great joy; yet like a true Wednesday’s child, I can only seem to harness the former in my thoughts/writings.  I presume that the lack of finding true love is the culprit.  Perhaps, should I ever find my soul mate, I will no longer write poetry?!  It seems I am, as yet, unable to write a happy poem.  For my birthday, early last week, I received a wonderful gift from a colleague and friend.  She had a selection of my poetry printed in a hard-backed book and wrote a most flattering dedication for the back cover.  I took it to show my family; many of these poems my mum had seen for the first time.  She said it made her sad to think that I lived such a sad life.  I couldn’t seem to reassure her that I didn’t live a sad life, I live quite a full life, and rather a charmed one in comparison to some; however, I do concede my heart is a permanently heavy one – heavy with the burden of unfulfilled love; but let’s face it, it’s not the end of the world, life goes on regardless of one’s marital status. (Sigh)

It is unusual why I can’t seem to write something that captures happiness, I am not impervious to life’s intense and varied beauty.  I tried recently.  I had so many lovely gifts for my birthday, a lot of them very personal and creative ones.  With all this happiness, appreciation and love in mind, I sat outside Costa one morning (I had my birthday week off, naturally) and set about capturing that gratitude on paper.  What emerged was utter rubbish!  All it reflected was how badly I translate happy thoughts into poetry.  I shall have to leave that to the likes of Pam Ayres, rhyming with a comedic wit, intent on making the reader chuckle.  The soul of this poet is somewhat cumbersome, not unlike my physicality.  I could write about the happiest day of my life in a blog and the reader would feel the joy pouring from each word – but put it into a poem and it would surely sound like my worst day ever!

So therein lies my niche.  I am the world-weary, heavy hearted poet, but being just expressions of a single emotion, they do not detract from the fortunate life I currently lead.  When the day comes that I publish a truly happy poem, please raise a glass in my name, and congratulate the love I have undoubtedly found.


Metaphor for a Buttercup

I took the brave decision to extricate myself from the Brightonian beach yesterday in favour of attempting the countryside.  (I am much more a fan of sea salty air and seagull watching than of creepy crawlies and buzzy bees, hence why I have never, and will never, go camping.)  I have been intending to take myself to Devil’s Dyke since one of the tour operators sold me on the idea when I was here a few weekends ago.  So after a lavish hotel breakfast and an hour’s lay in the sun on the pebbles, feeling like Uncle Travelling Matt, I donned my back pack and headed for the bus stop.

On a clear day the views from up there would be stunning; but I could make out the varying greens of patchwork England well enough, despite the low cloud cover.  It was peace that I sought and I most definitely found it.  I adore the beach, but my ten minutes of tranquility ran into trouble when the Carousel behind me fired up and the Pier to the left of me opened, pumping out chart tunes for the thrill riders.  Up on the Downs this was far from an issue.  I found a nice, quiet spot off the rambler’s track, beneath and betwixt two tall trees.  The only sounds were nature’s rustling and chirping; the occasional panting dog and gravel crunching passer by.  Finally, I was alone with my thoughts, of which are plentiful at present.

Scattered about me were wildly bright flowers in amongst tall blades of grass and short, stubby clover – though not a four leafed specimen to be seen, alas.  It was a buttercup that grabbed my attention the most; so rich in colour; such a vibrant yellow and, for a moment, I wanted to pluck it to hold in my hands.  I hesitated over it whilst it occurred to me that should I take it from its dwelling and claim it for my own, I take possession of it, but for what?  To place beneath my chin and discover that I do indeed like butter as the yellow reflects onto my skin (as my Mum and Nan did when I was a child); to spin it rapidly, yet whimsically, between two fingers; simply to take a closer look; perhaps to be placed behind my ear for decoration?  Ultimately, it would be cast aside, limp, useless, dead and wasted.

I’m sure this could be a metaphor for a multitude of things; but for this seemingly eternally single girl, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is a better way to exist; to be left to blossom alone.  So many relationships I see, regardless of sexuality, are unhealthily codependent.  The romantic notion of two individuals being so in love with each other that they wouldn’t want to walk this Earth with any other is perfectly beautiful in my eyes.  This is totally different, however, from the couples who live in eachother’s pockets simply because they can’t bear to be alone…..and I won’t even broach the ridiculousness that is their idea of jealousy being a healthy component in a relationship….it really isn’t.  Quite like the buttercup thieves, they pluck one another from where they stand and take ownership of eachother’s lives.  When this happens pieces of what you once were slowly die until you are changed; unrecognisable.  Having had a codependent partner I can fully identify with this.  Before and after her I remain vibrant, free; I am that independent, thriving buttercup, left alone; I would say for all to enjoy but that would imply something potentially very rude and/or arrogant, and truly, promiscuity has never been my thing.

As far as relationships go, one must only hope to find the like of which enables us to thrive regardless, to be as powerful apart as we are together; to be able to stand alone and come together on equal footing; to be together in spirit, mind and heart, when not together in body, and cope perfectly well.  Anything else seems pointless to me.

And as for the buttercup, I left it where it was, untouched, alive, hopefully for somebody else to enjoy it’s simple beauty after I’d gone, as another may have done before me; and I promptly returned to the beach.
JG 25.05.15

All About The (Baby) Boy

Being able to share in someone’s joy is a distinct privilege and honour, especially when it is due to a life changing event.  Earlier this week our department threw a baby shower for a colleague.   A few of us early birds gathered in the decorated office, eagerly awaiting her entrance and consequent reactionary surprise.  Sleepy-eyed and unaware of the spotlight, she breezed in to find a sea of faces gazing upon her, lit with mischievous smiles, glistening eyes and, with bated breath, we watched her expression change from quiet calm to happy chaos.  Balloons bobbed around on weighted ribbons, others taped to her computer screen; bunting and banners adorned walls and doors; wispy pastel coloured shapes floated down from the ceiling; a ‘Mum to be’ sash sat perched on the back of her chair, wanting to be worn; and a large blue-iced sponge cake with letter block design atop, sat proudly at the centre of her desk, hand made by a colleague.  Suffice to say she was shocked. Once we felt she had been embarrassed enough we dispersed wishing her a happy shower day. 

At lunch time we laid out the party food, to which we’d all contributed, enough to afford us lunches and snacks for the remainder of the week.  On display, upon a cleared desk sat a large cardboard box, dressed in baby themed wrapping paper, overflowing with gifts. Rather than a collection we’d opted to buy presents individually. For a department of around 20 staff this was an impressive, and very generous, haul. 

Now, I’m not a fan of babies, but I am a fan of parties, especially of helping to organise them; and this party was extra special.  The mum-to-be silently suffers an irrelievable pain that comes from being unable to carry your own child. What should be every woman’s natural born right – to procreate – has been denied her; for a woman with such maternal instincts and desire for a child, this truly is one of life’s cruellest injustices. However much it will remain a tragic lament in the depths of her heart, it should pale into insignificance thanks to the imminent arrival of a 9month old baby boy into her and her partner’s lives.

The adoption process is arduous and characteristically intrusive with good reason of course; the safeguarding of a child is paramount; but considering two spotty teenage oiks can perform a drunken have-at-it and immediately fall pregnant, the lengths two genuine and decent people have to go to seems relentlessly burdening.  Still, perseverance has proffered what they wished for; a child to raise and call their own. Biology isn’t everything and it’ll make them no less of a Mummy and Daddy, in fact it’ll make them more so.

After the lunch and gift opening had finished and all was cleared away, as if right on cue, she received a call from her social worker to confirm the adoption had been signed off and paperwork was in the post. It was official. All that remains is for them to be introduced and, at the end of a week of supervised meets, bring him home; a beautiful new chapter to begin together. 

For the rest of us, we are all sharing in their joy. We’ve been kept in the loop over the last year as to what stage they were at; the trials, the hopes, the upsets and now the reward.  It’s fair to say that we all feel we’ve adopted a part of this baby boy; we are Aunties in waiting (and one Uncle.) No doubt we’ll be seeing him inside and outside of the office very soon.

On the whole, at work, we are a unified team. The women I work with are incredibly compassionate, generous, loving, caring.  Having been on the receiving end of the cushion of love and support they instinctively provide at times of need, I knew exactly how the mum-to-be felt….overwhelmed.  Needless to say the bubba has no idea how much love and fun he is about to inherit from his new folks….not to mention his army of work Aunties!  How unique it is to proudly call your colleagues family.

JG 23.05.15