Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Press eject

OK, time to go.
The ex-laws are in town, which is good news for my son as they spoil him something rotten. Not so great for me, as it's a little too soon to meet up without feelings running high.
They are staying in the house I recently left, where many of my personal possessions are still residing. I know they won't be taking any particular interest in my Dad's record collection but it just all feels a bit strange.
So I'm being a big fat coward and running for the hills.
No time even for the usual intermission with cut to photography.
Back after the weekend.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Pause for thought

It's interesting to note how people respond to being awarded a Thinking Blogger's Award.
I'm just so uncool, going all gushy and emotional. But that's me. In the middle of a very emotional time, feeling very low so a boost of any sort is welcome. No explanation needed really.
What seems universal, apart from a pervasively more restrained response than you'll find here, is the difficulties those bestowed find themselves in when it comes to bestowing.
It took The Goldfish a long time. She'd been nominated more than once, and deservedly so.
But what has emerged is the discovery of more blogs that will make me think. This makes up for all the humming and haahing. Take a look at Flawedplan's site.
She is one of Goldfish's five, and having been over to Writhe Safely, I know it will become a regular read for me too.
That is one of the great things about the Thinking Blogger's Award. You get introduced to more brilliant writing. She and thememoryartist (another exceptional blog about mental health) are beacons in the dark world of fucked-up psychiatric systems.
On looking around my favourite regular blogs, I discover that many, if not all, have already been given this award. But hey, I have also discovered two new sites that will be on my links list very soon. And then there's all the links from BADD to do too...
I'm going to have to break the rules slightly with my nominations as some have been nominated before. But these are all people who have been making me think in the past few weeks, and indeed the last few hours.
Oh, and The Goldfish, of course, who nominated me, so I guess I can't do it back because that would be just silly. But she makes me think a lot.

1. Spotted Ele at The Bipolar View. Her writing resonates with truth. She is a strong, determined and caring presence on the web.

2. An Unreliable Witness for this because it was so beautiful it made me sit at the piano and actually dream up a response in music. Which was a very special thing to happen.

3. Marmite Boy for his BADD entry, and a recent post on accessing public transport which is a heartening and positive read.

4. Astrid's Journal because this post reminded me of the importance of positive thinking. She also writes cogently on the media and representations of disability here

5. thememoryartist because, in the spirit of new discoveries through this award, this post stood out as something that could certainly make mental health professionals (and I use that term loosely) think.

The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Oh gosh

Goldfish has given me a Thinking Bloggers Award. The posts she mentions include my Blogging Against Disablism Day entry, which encapsulates what this site is about, so that's the one I'm linking to on the sidebar. Although re-reading I Am Happy reminds me what a journey this has been, and still is. Without going all 'acceptance speech' on everyone (I'm thinking Gwyneth, given my current precarious emotional state) I really am chuffed. Not least because I followed and loved The Goldfish's blog long before starting my own. In fact it was the first blog I ever read. Guess I struck lucky.
And it was reading her, and from her site many others, that eventually propelled me into action in January just as I was approaching a major change in my life, leaving my home and partner of ten years.
Why did I choose such a turbulent time to start The Beauty Offensive? There are times when I ask myself this, and I am sure I am not alone. Spare us any more, please!
But reading what she says in her chosen five, Goldfish clearly gets what The Beauty Offensive is all about, and she has picked those rare posts that display attempts at coherence and a point that links back to my mission statement.
It is a real boost getting this award. Yes, it's only a blug (a blug? I mean a blog) but this is part of my home, a part I extend to all with a warm heart. And it's where I come to share beauty. I've learned that it is not a panacea, but I do attempt to pour healing balm where I can.
And despite hard times (yes, yes I know you've all had your fill of gnashing of have my teeth) there are those glimmers, those breaks in the clouds...etc etc oh gosh.
So now, having read the rules, I have five blogs to nominate in turn.
This is hard, given that two of them have recently received awards themselves. So I am going to have a think, and when I have thunked I will be very pleased to share the happiness I feel with five other people.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Just popped by

It's amazing just how much can happen when you duck out of your favourite blogs for a while. It's been good to catch up tonight just reading around for a while. I haven't commented much because I don't feel particularly chirpy or like I can concentrate much or have informed, wise or witty things to say.
But it was better than trying and failing to concentrate on watching a film. And there has been a lot of fine writing in the last two weeks.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Lou Reed

Do, do-do, do-do, do, do-do...
Take a walk where? The wild side? Where was that again?
I have to smile at listening to this so very, very quietly.
It's a no. But fond memories.

I found one of those CD flip-through cases in a drawer. It's like a time capsule. It was what I kept in the car. My car music. Full of music I was listening to driving around in July 2004.

The Scissor Sisters
The Strokes
Lou Reed

I just had to double check the spelling of Royksopp on the CD (but then, I probably would have back in 2004) and couldn't for the life of me remember anything by The Strokes. Then I remembered listening to them in 2003 on a very long coach journey somewhere abroad. I can't remember where. Were The Strokes any good anyway? I do remember a certain louche appeal. Are they still going? Wikipedia confirms they are going strong.
Would I buy this stuff today? Not all of it. Vespertine (Bjork) is stunning, so that stays. Ditto Moby. Goldfrapp - over produced and really quite clinical in execution. Not what I would call music with feeling. Royksopp., can't remember any of it.
Lou Reed. Very old flame. Scissor Sisters. Fun. In fact 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' did register on my radar fleetingly when it came out recently.
This is all so weird.
But I know what works for me at the moment. The CD case goes back in the drawer. Bjork and Moby are now on itunes. Yes, itunes. I sussed it out this week. It wasn't so difficult :-)
Luckily I can't afford an ipod. Too much too soon and I could blow this gig.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

After three years

I have tentatively started to listen to music again.
It's hard to describe here just how silent my world has been, how cocooned I have become and how my extreme reaction to very overwhelming symptoms in the early stages of my illness has, in all possiblity, outlived or at least exacerbated the symptoms themselves.
I lost two stone in nine days at what could be described as a very sudden onset, and spent much of the next 18 months in very serious trouble with both my mental and physical health.
And even after all this time it's fair to say that all my senses are still affected, but as a former (well okay not former but 'resting') musician and lover of music the way my hearing has been damaged is especially difficult.
Noise sensitivity has been tackled for the duration with earplugs, a noise reducer and, um, general shrinking from noise.
But some noise is healing and I have been encouraged to very carefully seek out healing sounds.
To rediscover Bjork (Vespertine) and Moby (Play) has been especially beautiful.
My son has been playing me some Razorlight. I like it, in small doses. I knew America was his favourite, but had never been able to listen to it all the way through, until today. In the Morning is a good'un too. I remember how we used to leap about to McFly and Busted. Air Hostess. Five Colours...happy, pop-filled days with a bouncing boy of four.
When he was five, I started to notice that music didn't sound so good anymore. The depression hit first.
When he was six, my health was blown apart over a single summer. Two weeks in August. A lingering virus, a violent medication reaction, and that was that.
Years have passed, years of other people's music coming from passing cars, other houses, other rooms. TV and radio for me have been largely no-go zones.
It's time to get reconnected.
I have just blown a very silly amount of money for a woman in financial disarray on some new CDs on Amazon.
Bring on Tori Amos, Kate Bush (there's an awful lot of old vinyl lying in a flat in London somewhere...I have had to replace nearly all of it), and some random purchases which include Mika (?) Rufus Wainwright (??), Jack Johnson (???) and, er, Abba. It was late, I should have been in bed.
I will also be looking in on to see what else I can discover. But for now, it's a bit like the first few dates with an old flame. Awkward, exciting, sometimes 'yes!' sometimes 'no!', exhausting, exhilarating. I will be taking things very, very slowly.
It's all very well ordering oodles of CDs, but my ears will take a while to catch up.
I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful reacquaintance.
I can't live in silence forever.
And my son wants and needs some semblance of his mother back.

Sunday, 13 May 2007


I am having a few days off, from here, from everything other than playing cards with my son, maybe a dvd or two and lots of lavender baths.
I do this as an act of kindness both to myself and to those of you who regularly stop by here. Thanks for your thoughts or words of advice and comfort.

Although I am in the eye of a storm (probably in a teacup) I do not ever want to become overly dependent on my blog for support. I want it to be my escape, and an escape for others, with the occasional wibble (and I think this is a wibble, rather than a wobble) which I will then go and address somehow and come back feeling better.

Back soon when troubled waters are feeling a bit calmer.

Saturday, 12 May 2007


Yes, er, well. Yesterday was yesterday. Today has been better. It really was a case of getting up and getting on with things. Out in the garden for more ineffectualism. The gardener, whose life story I now have chapter and verse, finished after nearly three days of jungle clearing. The clematis is glorious. I think, after yesterday, that will do for now.

Friday, 11 May 2007

I find it difficult...

to write about my feelings. I find it hard to express my emotions when there has been so much turmoil of late. One of the beautiful things about blogging is that sometimes someone expresses feelings that you recognise, but couldn't articulate yourself.
Reading your own experiences through the eyes of another creates a connection, recognition and understanding between people who share what can be at times very trying circumstances.
I have, in the past, had problems with letting myself go on this site, allowing misery or sheer exhaustion to invade a space that I have nurtured and tended as if it were one of the flowers I photograph.
This is a healing space. But sometimes it is a hurting space as well.
The thing is, I'm isolated by my ill health and surrounded by people in good health. The pressure to keep up appearances has lessened since the break-up of my relationship. But I still have to be strong for my son. And I still find myself putting on an act on the rare occasions that I am out and about, or have a visitor here.
Oh alas, alack, poor me.
But I can't apologise for feeling the exhaustion and demoralisation that I currently feel. So yes, this is a bit of a miserable post.
I allow it because of the utterly inept and criminally neglectful officialdom I've had to deal with over the past few weeks (and three years) in vain attempts to make progress with health and social services.
My case is 'complex', my needs are 'complicated'. What part of 'struggling, please help' do these cretins not understand?
I try, I flag, I give up. I try harder, I get worried the energy is being diverted from where it really needs to go - my own healing and my son's wellbeing, which are essentially one and the same thing. I give up courting the cretins and do the best I can.
I allow this post because so many of my friends still don't 'get it' or have forgotten in recent months to keep trying to get it because they are 'busy' or just can't handle the fact that I'm now a single disabled mother. Too much reality. Too hard to confront. But let's call a spade a spade.
I allow it because it makes me realise I need to reach out, I need to reach out now but I also probably need to get a friend over for a cup of tea, no matter how exhausted I am. A friend, not a support worker or a home visit from an OT.
Then, perhaps I won't feel quite so miserable. And I may even talk about my feelings. But that would involve crying, quite a lot. And I'm so exhausted I'm scared to cry too much.
How do you allow feelings to happen when your feelings feel so much bigger than you can cope with?
This post came about because Lady Bracknell's editor writes what I can't express here

Next day: I wondered if I should remove this post, as it's so in your face miserable. Then I noticed I'd used the word cretins, twice. The post stays if only to apologise for this unconscious but nevertheless dreadful choice of expression. The irony of potentially offending whilst ranting about my own experience of disablism isn't lost on me. I have made a note to self not to post late at night when overtired and feeling bleak. Bleak is ok sometimes, just not bleak beyond reason.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

In celebration

Finally a man arrived today to clear up the garden. It has been a complete no-go area since we moved in owing to huge brambles covering the lawn and a hedge that wouldn't look out of place around Sleeping Beauty's castle. Not that I have delusions of beautifulness or regality (though I do lie down a lot...and sometimes it can feel like 100 years). No, just a fanciful notion of a Prince Charming veering off the main road and crashing through the privet. Large white horse galloping through the suburbs, dark flowing locks, that sort of thing.
Well, I got a tattooed gentleman with a chainsaw, and we had a nice if sporadic chat over cups of tea and me wafting about snipping with the secateurs in between rest times.
It felt good to be out in the garden, and to see it taking shape. It needed some major surgery - which has revealed that there's actually some lovely stuff hidden underneath. A climbing rose, a honeysuckle and the above clematis, which will be something of a photography project this week.
I got raindrops today, but what I really want is sun on raindrops, very close up and poised to fall from velvet purple petals. We shall see what the weather brings.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

More antics at the botanics

Well, after last week I decided to do it again. And why not? Lovely plants and trees and stuff, a scooter to nip about on and great weather today. The alternative? Stay indoors missing my son who post break-up spends weekends with his Dad.
So off I went once more to the Botanical Gardens. Better scooter today - easier controls. I am learning a lot. Everyone most polite and good at holding doors to glasshouses open etc (though a gremlin of discontent mused why they don't make them automatic for wheelchair users who then don't have to smile sunnily at the next harrassed family with toddlers in toe plus pushchair to just hold the door a tad longer please). Anyway, it's a minor point. I resisted the temptation to go straight for my macro flower shots, hence the misty tropical, and somewhat experimental feel to the one above - it was actually the lens misting over and I decided to reverse out of there quick to avoid my camera seizing up.
Took it a little fast round a blind bend and nearly caused a pile up involving many be-shorted weekend exec types with rather large ice creams. Could have been nasty.

We then have my first attempt at a landscape. I liked the contrasts of greens in the trees and dappled shade, and the branches framed what was beyond quite well. It was such gorgeous weather.
It made me realise my photography of late has reflected my state of mind. I've been cocooned, obsessing even over the detail to be found in the perfectly composed close-up. Nothing surpasses it, and it is still my bag, definitely. Georgia O'Keeffe has had a big influence. I started off in a watercolour class and this is a truly astonishing watercolour artist with an eye for beauty. But I guess now I have a camera, it's good to experiment with different settings, light meters and so forth.

Back to bed for the rest of the day. But I feel it's worth it. As long as i can play catch up for when my son returns on Monday. Plenty of rest until then, and a friend over tomorrow for roast chicken. Haven't had it since I moved in (a month today!) so can't wait. I do love a good roast.
With all the trimmings.