Thursday, 13 August 2020

How are you feeling today?

How are you feeling today? An image of a mask divided in two with a sad little guy on the left and a happy little guy on the right

How often do you ask yourself

"What am I feeling?"

Several times a day?

Every day? 



How do you manage

Changes in your mood?

Do you notice the movement

From bad to good?

Do you see moods approaching

Like storms on the horizon?

Or are they suddenly upon you

A shock; like lightning?

Do you fear the low

The anxious, despairing?

Or accept the reality

Just part of living?

Here's a simple tool

To help you observe

Feelings you're feeling

Get ahead of the curve

Make time each day

Each hour, if possible

Stop, be still

Your feelings are acceptable

Don't fear your emotions

Or pretend they're not true

They're telling you something

Embrace their value

If what you notice

Worries your mind

Ask someone you trust

To yourself be kind

Do Not Doubt Yourself


Little Guy holding sign saying "Do Not Doubt Yourself"

This is a special Little Guy drawing for everyone who needs to hear this right now:

"Do Not Doubt Yourself".

Today is A Level results day, next week is GCSE results day in the year no one took any exams. 

I have many friends with young people anxious about their exam results and their next steps in life.  This message is especially for them.

Everyone has their own path to follow.  When we're in the middle of a rocky bit it can seem like we're lost (I know, I've felt that).  But when we look back we will see that the rocky part of the path was where we learned the things which make us who we are meant to be. 

Please don't doubt yourself, no matter how rocky your path feels right now.

Your future is full of possibilities you don't yet know.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Exam results: they're only stepping stones

Some thoughts about the exam grade turmoil.  I draw on my experience of no where near meeting my A level potential due to a nervous breakdown at 17; but I got to uni thanks to an understanding admissions system and now I have "a number" of degrees to my name. 

 And of course I'm influenced as the mum to a year 10 who is stressed that she won't meet her potential - even though I've shared my experience and said exam results aren't the point of study. Q

I wish the government would admit that the current years 11&13 and years 10&12 and possibly even 9&11 will have negative impacts on their education and their exams results but...

I also wish they'd admit that exams results are only measures at one point in time, not a measure of skill or understanding or practical application.  They are stepping stones into further learning and development.  

I'm sure teachers were under unbelievable pressure by school management to ensure good results this year, I'm sure examination bodies are under pressure for fairness across the system in a system they have cobbled together, I'm sure further education bodies want to ensure the young people are able to do their next courses... but grades don't actually guarantee any of that.  

I would love to see the system actually reflect its purpose and look at the young people as people who need encouragement to fulfill their potential.  

Basically I'm feeling sorry for those who are anxious about the results knowing that they had the opportunity to perform in the exams taken out of their hands.  

I really hope that no matter what the results, the young people's next steps will be straight forward and affirming and that the young people know there are hundreds of opportunities ahead in their lives.

Friday, 7 August 2020

An introduction to Mindfulness


What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of where you are, what you’re doing and what you're thinking instead of being reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.

Mindfulness exercises can help you create space in your mind to find peace, space to think clearly, space to breathe deeply, space to focus on what matters to you right now and space to be fully in every situation and experience.

Why would I try mindfulness?

For many people, practicing mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and bring calm, it can bring fresh perspectives and clarity to situations which have been challenging, it can help you find positivity in the every day. 

Mindfulness can be useful if you live with anxiety, both to help yourself be still every day and to find calm when you're feeling extremely anxious.

How do you practice mindfulness? 

The most important thing you need to become more mindful is time; time to practice mindfulness exercises and time in each situation to stop and be mindful.  That doesn't mean hours of time, it can be just a few minutes.

I started with just five minutes each morning, now I spend half an hour morning and evening, as well as taking time to be mindful in the day as I need it.  

This is the process I use.


Find a comfortable place where you won't be distracted for five minutes.  Settle into that space, hopefully you'll feel quite relaxed but that's not essential.

Focus on your breathing.  Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.


The aim of mindfulness is to observe what's happening right now, not a few minutes ago, not in a few minutes the, but right now.

What can you hear?

What can you see?

What can you feel?

What are you thinking?


Notice anything which is uncomfortable, physically or emotionally.

Don't worry about it, just notice it and let it pass by in your mind.

You may notice pleasant thoughts or feelings as well, again let them just pass through your mind and keep noticing.

If you keep coming back to a worry or physical pain then keep letting that pass by; you might benefit from noticing something positive - perhaps bird song or a positive thought to help the negative pass by you.


Keep coming back to observing how you feel right now.  Don't worry if your mind keeps bringing up thoughts, just notice it and then bring yourself back to observing the moment.


It takes time to learn how to just focus on the here and now.  It took me months before I really noticed that I was still and calm and peaceful. 


How did it feel to be mindful?

Was it hard?

Were there any specific thoughts or feelings you noticed?

Do you feel different?

How do you use mindfulness?


I use mindfulness as part of my every day prayer life:

  • noticing how I'm feeling and handing that to God
  • reflecting on emotions and asking God to help me
  • observing the world right now and thanking God for being with me

Nature Connection

I use mindfulness when I'm in nature, observing the wonder of nature and noticing how I am connected to it.  In lockdown I have realised that this can be as simple as sitting in my wheelchair in the garden with my feet on the grass.

Calming Anxiety

I use mindfulness when I'm feeling anxious to notice the reality of the right now and calm myself.  With a lot of practice I have learned to use it when I'm in the mid of a panic attack.

Thursday, 6 August 2020


There was a challenge on Instagram this morning to...
Describe a photo in poetry

This was my response

Velvety yellow elements
Worshipping the light provider
Crown complex buffet station
Buzzing with hungry diners

I then wrote a few more poems inspired by the beautiful photo by Kate Haines

Sunflower cafe
Buzzing with expectation
Get it while it's hot


Simple sunflower
Nothing much to see
Change your perspective
Imagine you're a bee

Irresistible beauty
Tempting scent
Nectar of life
Celebratory event

Every aspect
Perfectly refined
Admire the wonder
Of nature's design

He is my rock

I guess this is a love poem, though I don't write love poems. It's written for a poetry prompt of "rock" and Mike is my rock, so I wrote about him. The image is some mindful drawing I drew earlier today.

He is my rock
My security
The solidity to which I'm tethered
Safely held when storms emerge

He may be weathered
Beaten by the storms
Yet his core never fails
He remains anchored to earth

He is strong
Invisibly, quietly
Yet clear as diamonds
To those who know him well

Barely showing a scratch
He disperses pressure
Through his very being
He is my rock

Daily affirmation prayer

Do you have a daily affirmation you say?
Do you have a daily prayer you pray?

My daily affirmation are the words I say first and last thing every day and the prayer I say throughout the day....God
Thank you for loving me just as I am
Help me be everything you know that I can

Praying for Beirut

Praying for Beirut
For all of Lebanon
For the shock and distress
A city in suspension

Praying for the lost
For those now in pain
Those who don't know if they'll
See their loved ones again

Praying for Searchers
Nurses and Doctors
All those on the scene
Counting the clock hours

Praying across continents
All of us connected
Praying across timezones
For everyone affected

Little Guy Book Update

Paper choices are being examined for the actual physical book version of Little Guy

Excited Author Time

Anxiety Post Shielding

I am going to share what happened for me yesterday as my anxiety got the better of me.
It will be long so thank you if you read it to the end.   I hope this helps understanding of how much anxiety there is for many of us who have been shielding and helps those with anxiety to know they’re not alone.

On Sunday the organisers of our church Ladies pub night decided to arrange a socially distanced evening in the church garden, it was all planned for last night.  This was a great opportunity for people to get together after months of not being able to and I was really excited to go along.  In fact I think I gave a little cheer at the plan because I would be able to see people I haven’t seen in 5 months and know it was safe.  I was so determined to get there that I planned a quick meal to ensure we would eat early enough to get there on time.

Yesterday of course was wrist-gate.  
You’re best off reading yesterday's post on my timeline about that but in summary I have a broken wrist I didn’t know about and there was 4 hours of anxiety about what the plan would be, what hospital visits would be required and whether this would scupper our plans for our much anticipated break away.

By 4pm yesterday all the anxiety around wrist-gate had passed and I was able to relax and think about the evening ahead.  And that’s when I was overwhelmed with anxiety about going to the ladies evening.  My pulse was racing, my breath was shallow, I was sweating profusely and shaking.  I was in full blown panic.  I am not sure whether this would have happened if there wasn't any wrist panic, I suspect it would have but not to the same degree.

I managed to calm myself from the panic attack and started using my CBT tools:
I wrote about my emotions and understood that they were real but irrational
I wrote the reasons I didn’t need to feel anxious - meeting outside, socially distanced, could leave at any point, amongst friends, I was looking forward to it
I spoke to Mike and Rachel put in her pennyworth - both said don’t go if you don’t want - got to love my introverts who would happily avoid social situations
I wrote the benefits of going - need to start getting back into real life, a super easy first go, it would be fun, feel the fear and do it anyway, I would feel great for overcoming my anxiety

I could accept intellectually that I should go and would enjoy it, but I just could not bring myself to believe I could.  Nevertheless we prepared dinner on time so I could go.

At 630pm it started to rain, well spit a bit, so I started obsessing over the weather app and the chance that I would get wet (never good for a powerchair), or that it would be cancelled, or that it would rain so heavily that the garden would become a bog and my chair would get stuck and that would be a nightmare etc etc etc   Can you hear the vortex of my anxiety climbing again?

In my head I had now made the decision that I wasn’t going.
I was now at the place I’ve been hundreds of times before.  That is a hard thing for me to admit, or even type, but it is important for me to share it.  This is not new.  If you’ve ever had a last minute text saying I’m not well and can’t attend a large group meeting (eg hen night, night out, anything socially where there will be lots of people I don’t know) then there is a 90% chance that I was unwell with anxiety but couldn’t say it and so would say stomach bug or heavy cold etc.  Of course there were times that was true, but many more that weren’t.

So I sent a message saying “Sorry everyone, not going to make it. Combination of wrist stress plus rain.  I hope you all have fun”

There was nothing in that message which was untrue.  I am pretty sure that the anxiety was raised to uncontrollable levels by the wrist stress and it was raining.  But I want to be clear - neither of those things were actually the reason I didn’t even attempt to go!

The reason was that I couldn’t overcome the anxiety of going somewhere was that I am incredibly anxious about even leaving the house now.  
I have become used to seeing very few people in real life and having them over to the garden socially distanced.  By few I mean 6 different people, one of which is my dad.  
I have become much more comfortable in my own space at home than I ever thought possible, in fact I have embraced the time at home to be more creative.  
I have become terrified of the possibility of catching covid19 even though I am at the lowest risk of all shielders and live in an area with almost no cases right now.  
I am terrified that if I go out someone without a mask will be asymptomatic and could pass the virus to me.

Why am I feeling all this?

Because I spent the first 3 months at home suffering with my mental health but sticking with it because we were being told that leaving the house or having any contact with anyone could result in me becoming seriously ill.  I convinced myself that I needed to stay safe so that Rachel wouldn’t have to cope with me dieing.  I had to change my whole mindset about risk assessment, bravery and science because that was the only way to deal with the impact of isolation on my mental health.  And it was right to do so, I would not have been able to stay isolating without that mindset, or I would have stayed isolating but would have taken an even worse nose dive with my mental health.

But now I need to unpick that thinking. 
I need to hear the messages I give Rachel about low risk, not being fearful etc.   
All the time knowing that we might need to go back into shielding in the future and I’ll need to somehow get back into the isolation mindset.
It is such a lot to process and I know from the shielding facebook groups that I’m not alone.

Just writing this is incredibly helpful for me to realise that I don’t need to beat myself up for the anxiety I’m feeling, in fact it’s a miracle that I can still understand my emotions so well.  I am thankful for the counselling I am receiving which is helping hugely.

Going back to why I couldn’t go last night…. 
I am thinking about what information I might need to gather to help me go to the next planned meet up without Mike as my safety net.

How many people will be there and that there will be enough space
What safety precautions people will be taking - assurance that everyone will be following the social distance guidelines
Who will be at the event who I can rely on to be my safety net - I think this is possibly the key - someone who I can tell if I get very anxious and who I can trust to understand.  There were at least 4 people there last night that could be that person but I hadn’t thought about how it would help to ask them to be my support.

If you got this far reading you deserve a medal, thank you for reading.
If you know someone who might be in a similar position as me and might be struggling to get back out into the world then feel free to share this with them
If you are reading this and you can relate to these emotions yourself then I hope it helps to know you’re not alone and I hope you can get whatever help you need - it is a show of strength to ask for help
If you are reading this and planning some meet ups and wondering why someone isn’t coming along, perhaps this could be the start of a conversation, but it might not be
If you are reading this and wondering why shielding people are making such a fuss about getting back into the real world (so many times have I read this on social media) then I hope my honesty has helped you understand a little more


Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Don't doubt your creativity

Carve stories into tree bark
Paint on porcelain vase
Blow promises in white smoke
Trace hope upon the stars

Vibrate like a hummingbird
Animate life as clowns
Spot beauty in the undergrowth
On roadsides about towns

Become immune to judgement
Embrace your inner youth
Release your mind to roam free
Alight upon the truth

Photograph billiard balls
Or a tiny patch of land
See the world in different ways
From wherever you stand

Imagine rivers in reverse
Or adventuring to Venus
Don't let the undertow of life
Steal your inner genius

Shape shadows in the dusk
Dye paper with warm tea
Find glory in the ordinary
Share it for all to see

Never lose your violescent
Your inner peace, your joy
Sing your favourite song aloud
Let it fill up the void

Don't doubt your creativity
Fear can't be trusted
Sing confident into the breeze
Sister, you're an artist

(Photos were taken by Rachel)

Time to rest

Do you have the time to rest
The time to just be you?
Perhaps the better question:
When's your time to NOT do?

So busy with the endless lists
Demands upon your days
But if you stop and reassess
Could there be other ways?

Ways to carve out time to sit
To remember who you are
Remember what matters most in life
Or just gaze upon the stars

All the endless busyness
A grind stone for the soul
Let's start today by stopping
Let stillness be the goal


A lesson in poetry form for us all - to find joy and peace in every day.

Photo credit: Rachel

How do you view yourself?

Is the body a coffin for the soul
Or a chemical romance?
A product of creative love
Or a home for familial ghosts?

Do you value how you've worn
Or notice each imperfection?
Do you celebrate your senses
Or long for bodily freedom?

Do you always look skyward
Long to dance among the planets?
Or suffer from vertigo
When your feet aren't on granite?

Do you feel like a misfit
Fruit of the poisoned tree?
Or as a flower in a forest
Hosting cicada symphony?

If you aren't in love
With your body, mind and soul
This summer take a step back
Self love should be your goal

Imagine you're your friend
See the good they'd see in you
Let confidence take flight
You're a delightful view

Monday, 3 August 2020

Midnight stalked my soul

Sixteen years ago
I doubted I'd ever survive
Thought my heart would never heal
When our boy Kendi died

Every day turned dark
Midnight stalked my soul
Even time down by the sea
Couldn't stop the tears fall

Hope was swept away
My breath caught in my chest
Days interminable
The greatest of life's tests

The only relief I found
Was bathing myself in music
Singing my tears away
Brought relief therapeutic

All these years have passed
But still the hurt is raw
I'm mother to my girl
But also four boys more

I didn't know that I was going to write about my baby boys who died before birth when I started thinking about music, but somehow it happened. Grief is a strong emotion right now in this first year since mum died and the grief of the boys has become greater as a result. It's good to be able to write to process some of this

Because you loved me

I regained my confidence
I once more trusted others
I started to love myself
Because you loved me
This is a #dodoitsu format poem with syllable count 7,7,7,5.

The poem is an ode to Mike, to Rachel and to God. All 3 have taught me so much about love.

What will you try today?

You may not know what will happen if you try
But if you don't try
Nothing will happen

Another motivational quote
What will you try today?


What is the best advice you could give a new poet or spoken word artist?

Write what feels right for you
What stirs your passion
What breaks your heart

Then be brave and share it
As if you're telling a best friend
That you trust entirely

#AskAPoet #LittleGuyBook

At War with Pain

The pain crippled her
Morning, noon and night
Tormenting her every moment
Determined to win the fight
The fight she never chose
Didn't know even existed
Yet one day she woke to find
To this battle she'd enlisted
The battle was with herself
She slowly came to find
Pain could not be beaten
What a criminal mastermind

There was no other choice
She had to keep on going
She turned her back on war
The future without knowing
Could she find a way
To negotiate a peace
Would pain accept a deal
To give her some release
She tried to understand
The issues that pain brought
To offer some solutions
But it all came to nought

Running was her only option
Yet no option at all
Her legs wouldn't cooperate
She'd fall and fall and fall
Yet she kept on trying
Each day a new attempt
Mediating agreements
No option exempt
The pain slowly retreated
In the background it remained
Still a constant presence
But in a box contained

The war with pain was over
They lived an awkward peace
There never was surrender
Neither found release
They gained an understanding
A way to coexist
She listened to pain's needs
Wrote up quite a list
Then focused on the future
A way to thrive again
She found a way of living
Her best life despite the pain

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Ups and Downs of Lockdown

I have been trying to write a post about lockdown now that shielding is officially paused.  

That's paused - not ended - the Government is being clear that we will likely be called back into Lockdown for our own safety.

I have been drafting this for weeks but not actually getting anywhere with it because it's too big a topic which has gone on for too long with far too many ups and downs.  So instead I've turned to a visual representation of the ups and downs of lockdown - strange for a blind girl you might think, but it's really just a mathematical model with artistic labelling.

The images are some of the pieces of art I've created to process the endless emotions I've experienced in Lockdown.  

So what might this tell you about my shielding lockdown?

1. It's been a rollercoaster.  Ups and downs have been weekly, daily and sometimes hourly.  The lows got very low and I reached out for help from my GP which has indeed helped.  The highs have been thanks to amazing friends, faith and family. 

2. Creativity has been essential.
Whether that's the creativity of getting church online. Creativity of meals with the contents of a Boris Box.
Creativity of games nights with friends.
Creativity of existing as a family in one house for over 120 days.

On top of that I've been creative every day; drawing or painting, needlefelting or sewing and of course lots of writing and endless poetry creating.

3. I've not be alone.
As a family we have found a new way of being. It's not that there haven't been arguments and tears, but that's we've come through them quickly and held together as a unit.

As a church we've not be alone, even when we couldn't meet we found ways of using online and telephone to stay together, share together, pray together and grow together.

As a community we have got closer together, with groups popping up to support each other and lots of sharing and caring.

As a community of shielders we've also formed bonds of understanding and support, especially when the world went back to normal and we stayed home.

As creatives we've dreamed together and shared together and met together online in new and exciting ways to overcome geography.

And of course God has been there, as reliable as ever, in the midst of it all; loving and sustaining.

I have never felt alone, even on the hardest days and I can't say I would have believed that to have been possible in mid March when we went into Lockdown.

So as we are allowed to leave home and mix with the world I actually find myself uncertain whether I want to go back to how things were.  I don't want to lose the closer family connections or the online connections, I don't want to start rushing around and miss the funny purple flowers or the new birdsong; and I don't want to stop being creative because it's been a revelation.

What has your lockdown been like? What are you going to keep as you move back into the world?


listen image of little guy

We don't listen enough
Not really listen
We just wait to speak
Not still our minds
And listen carefully
Imagine the difference
If we really listened
Wanting to hear
Needing to know
Taking it slow
Asking questions
Holding reactions
Seeking to understand
To find common ground

Imagine a world
Where politicians
Really listened
To each other
To the issues
To the people
To advisors
Kept listening
Not just responding
But comprehending
Cohesion building
Problem solving
Solution finding
Peace building

Closer to home
Do we ever roam
Inside our own minds?
Imagine what we'd find
If we listened
To our hearts
Our souls
Finding inner peace
Greatest release

Imagine the freedom
If we really listened
Start to appreciate
How we relate

Oh to be free, as me

Between these lines
Ten things about me
For you to find...

Oh to be free
Untangling memory
Once lost from sight
Faded by stellar light

Terrifying dreams
Sketch creative themes
Of french sophistication
Dying in actualisation

Fantasy books
Float down babbling brooks
Kissed by gossamer wind
As blue sky light's dimmed

Scientists profound
Over boundaries bound
Seeking leftover hopes
For healing isotopes

High spring tides
Frustrate chariot rides
On spring time breeze
Across universal seas

Big top expectations
Spread around nations
Animals trapped in cages
Saved by silent accomplices

Come what may
Girlfriends save the day
No matter what trouble
They're around on the double

My body is broken
Yet God clearly has spoken
That He has plans for my life
He'll uplift me in strife

Motivational Quotes

One of the poetry prompts today was to write a motivational quote. Well the idea sparked an idea to create motivational quotes out of all the poetry prompts I'm following in August. These 16 quotes are the result. 

Together they are a poem of motivation.

Never ration love, there is an infinite supply

Romance the nebula, dance in daydreams; embrace your shoshin

Let your pain become a mirage instead of an avalanche

Build your beauty inside out, rise above the opinion of others

Sometimes you just need to be still, don't let pain become your quick sand

Don't be a clown in someone else's circus; be your own ringmaster

You'll only find Mermaids if you believe they exist; treat success the same way

Pour your anger onto paper, then burn it without reading

Don't wait for life to happen as if waiting for a train; scatter your mind wide, let opportunities take flight

Empower yourself; treat doubt as effluent to be transformed

No one makes it out alive with a perfect ending; appreciate every blue sky, lotus flower, perfect bubble and love letter

We are all sinners and saints; don't let your mistakes curse your ability to find peace in your soul

Life is a book to be written; some people focus on the words of the dead, others see joy and add colour

In the blink of an eye everything can change; babble apologies and love

Hold onto those who ask for consent, they value you beyond words

Thank you for listening, you give these words meaning