The Pain Of Others

I’m going through a bit of a rough time at the moment, as the arthritis in my hands is becoming more acute, and much more painful. Also loosing my friend, the writer Stephen Loveless a few weeks ago has deflated me, far more than I anticipated, leaving me lacking in both energy and enthusiasm.

Stephen himself would be horrified by my plight and would be among the first to tell me to lift myself from the doldrums and get back to writing. Not that simple my old friend, but even your strong presence in my life from beyond the natural burial, won’t help right now. 

Its the pain of those around me, that has set the tripwires over which I’ve stumbled, my lack of self discipline and focus has demagnetised my compass, and I’ve been spinning helplessly for some time. 

We are halfway through the period of Lent, and over the next twenty days I shall be putting anything that may lead to stress to one side, and park myself in a quiet area. Just some downtime might be the answer. 

 

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The door is always open.  

Lending A Hand

Despite all my efforts to keep as fit as I can, ( walking, floor exercises, housework), I cannot stop the onset of things like arthritis, especially in my hands and back pain. The latter being the ripples from disc prolapse diagnosed over a decade ago.

I could just loose heart, stop everything I’m doing to suppress the discomfort, and quite simply, quit. Not my style fortunately, and a new weapon in my armoury is to study more, read more, and compose poetry. The latter is especially interesting as I’m creating one line per day, for the forty days of Lent. 

Journaling for nearly thirty years now, as most people know, has been my shield against attacks of depression, putting the experience into verse, is a whole new layer of protection. In a few weeks, I will publish a poem on this platform about my sexual abuse as a boy, by an older boy and how my forgiveness of him, empowered me. I’m not a victim, just a survivor, who has found a way to love myself as well as others.

 


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Thinking about lines of poetry throughout the period of Lent. 

Down Time

I’ve taken a day off from everything, and it’s remarkable what some time of silence and stillness can do for the troubled head. I’m slowly recovering from the death of my old friend, he wouldn’t want me to slip into a whirlpool of sadness and tension, quite the opposite.  

So sitting here in my quiet corner, with a black coffee and a collection of Gerald Manley Hopkins, I’m remembering all the solid, worthwhile moments I had with Stephen. He was truly one of the best friends I ever had. 

 

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For Stephen. 

Memory Loss

I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafes, drinking delicious, strong coffee and devouring equally delicious vegan chocolate cake. I walked the long way into the city centre to check the bus times to Northampton, and ended up at the wrong station. 

For the life of me, I could have swore that this was the station I caught the bus to see my old friend no too long ago. But no. This is just one incident of many, that my memory has lost its daily function. And it frustrates me more than anything. 

Its an area in my life that needs a complete overhaul. Not only that, I also need to measure my reactions to the gaps and holes that fragment my memory functions. I’m ok now, probably need to relax a little longer until my next destination, wherever the f**k that is?  

 

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Relaxing with a cup of black gold, trying to make sense of my memory loss. 

The Light Of Early Morning.

I felt a little sad this morning, not knowing why didn’t help the situation. Maybe I thought, it was the recent loss of a close and much valued friend whose funeral I will be attending this coming Thursday. But in truth, it wasn’t that.  

Then by instinct, I reached for my latest journal and flicked through the pages of months past, and read of similar thoughts on similar mornings. The facts are that sometimes, I’m just ........ sad. So I wrote about it and the fog and weight diminished, almost instantaneously. The power of applying pen to paper.  

My stepson and his wife were up for the weekend to see the new granddaughter, and much of the early afternoon saw me, Grandpa, pushing her tiny frame to and from the restaurant in town, booked for Sunday lunch. I cherished those moments, at the handlebars of the buggy, walking this bundle of innocence, through this extraordinary heat we are experiencing right now. 

Those murmurs and cries from this beautiful three week old girl, drove my blues into submission. I’m alive, getting fitter, learning to love myself again on a daily basis. The fight continues.  

 

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Spring and Summer cometh! 

Loosing Those I Love

Two weeks ago a very close friend died after a six month battle with cancer. The first I knew of his plight, was on New Years Day. I emailed him and asked to go over and see him, at his home in Northampton. He didn’t want me to go. 

I sent more emails over the next few weeks but no reply came back and I feared the worst. A mutual friend, informed me via social media of his passing, and I was low and tearful. He was my tutor in Creative Writing at the now defunct Vaughn College in Leicester. We stayed friends for over a decade and collaborated on several projects. 

Knowing him as I did, he wouldn’t want me to crumble, but to stay strong and positive. At the moment, I’m holding up, but there are times when his loss, cuts deep.  

Goodbye my old and much loved friend. You were more to me than I can scribble in this blog. Never forgotten, by those you taught and gave your time to.  

 

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The Addiction Of Poetry

I’ve been reading and writing poetry since I was a small child. Not consistently, more in short bursts in different chapters of my life. 

In latter years, poetry has become less of a pass time, and more of a constant companion, in as much as I carry a dedicated notebook, and one or two collections with me, everywhere I go.  

This weekend, I decided to dedicate all my spare time to reading and writing poetry, with the inclusion of two great movies, about real and fictional poets.  

Through my years of depression, a constant ‘pick me up’, although not a cure, has been seeking out poetry from ancient to modern. It’s helped me through many a troubled night and difficult day. For me it’s both calming and settling, page after page after page. 

 

My weekend companions

My weekend companions

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Two fabulous movies to view over my ‘poetry weekend’. 

Walking The Blues Away

Sometimes all I need is to walk, is it that simple? Of course not. But this time of year, when it’s cold and the winter sun barely skirts the chimney tops, I feel compelled to wrap up and just put one foot in front of the other. 

Gone are the days when I ‘holed up’ and embraced the darkest corners during the winter months. So many of my friends have taken their own lives, in times such as these. Now I just walk until either tiredness sets in, or my back begins to ache. 

Today, today was magical, and while changing into my loose togs’ I spied a beautiful sundown. What a heavenly light! 

 

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Sundown over Leicester’s West End district. 

A Quiet Day

I’ve spent most of the last two days cooking veggie dinners, writing and reading poetry and indulging in a lot of prayer. I’m not a bible thumper, and never force my views and opinions onto anybody. 

its says like these when I have, or come close to, the peace I’ve spent a lifetime searching for, and it’s right there - in the simple things that life has to offer. 

If that’s the case then I long for a simpler life. The veggie diet is going very well. But I need to expand my vegetable cookbook. 

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So Far So...

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve given up eating meat and fish. This as some might think, wasn’t a decision based on political ideals, it was to do wholly with health concerns. 

So far, I’m doing just fine and seem to have acquired energy levels that I haven’t experienced in decades. Whether this is just a short term placebo effect, I have no idea, but I’m enjoying the ride. 

Mentally, I’m in a new arena. 

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And So It Begins

2019 is finally here and I've been wondering just how many 'fellow travelers' of mine have been busy making lists of all the things they won't do in the coming year. 

Dissapointment and failure or a combination of both can deliver a lethal dose to the depressive. That's one of the reasons I personally stopped creating new year 'To Do' lists a long time ago. For when one or more of the projects failed to lift off, I became debilitated, and on one occasion close to suicide. 

Lists are not for me, but serious and focused note taking are, so I write down ideas, thoughts without commitment, and if some of them happen, that's OK, the ones that don't are recycled and surface later.  

Over the new year period, my wife and I spent a relaxing 48 hours in Ely, Cambridgeshire. It was both relaxing and glorious, doing as we pleased with no structured plans for anything. 

So no more lists, half backed ideas or promises. Just 'Do It' and enjoy. 

 

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Another Year Cometh

Christmas wasn't has bad as I thought it was going to be, we all had such a wonderful time together, my granddaughter being the spark, the light the centre of the whole event. 

Now in the aftermath, which feels like a stroll on no-mans land, I feel a little deflated, but hopeful for the new year. A lack of exercise and some overindulgence in chocolate, has left me sluggish. But all these things can be put right by focusing on what is good and doable in my life.

Happy New Year. 

 

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The Week Before Christmas

Her name was Jan, we were together for eight years, we met at an AA meeting in 1991. We separated on good terms in 2004. She died the week before Christmas in 2011.  

Although we kept in touch, it was never the same and unfortunately she didn't fully overcome her addiction to alcohol and began to drink again in 2007.  

The years of decline were painful to watch and despite help from myself and my wife, things began to deteriorate in the summer of 2011. Along with her mother, we found her dead in the house her and I had shared for many years.

i only mention all this because after all this time, it still hurts around this time of year, and Christmas has never been quite the same for me, since that terrible Sunday morning, when part of me died as well. 

I'm not depressed, just a little sad at this time of the year, when I think of a light that shone so bright in my life, was blown out by addiction. I miss her. 

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My Battle With Tiredness

It’s my own fault, not that I would but I can’t blame others for my lack of sleep. More often than not I find myself waking around 3.30 - 5am. and te first though is coffee, I need coffee. First mistake, and let me admit right here that coffee and it’s consumption is if you will, my last addiction.

Elsewhere on this website you can access my coffee blog (My Coffee Moments), and this has been quite popular among my fellow coffee lovers (not addicts). Coffee is something I love to write about and cafe culture is something I’m equally passionate about.

And therin lies the problem, my passion is at times the cause of my lack of real slumber. To be honest it’s something I haven’t addressed, and I know I should. One very simple method suggested by friends and family is to swap from full strength to ‘decaf’ during the ungodly hours, when I’m catapulted out of a bad dream, or need to dash to the loo.

I’m taking this onboard so will post an update in about a month’s time. But for now, lets grind some more beans!.

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End Game (Part 2)

This morning I awoke with new hope, a new energy that I haven’t experienced in a long time. What seemed like a nightmare in the making yesterday, has crumbled into dust and I can now go forward into the coming winter months with a refreshed creativity both with writing and photography.

Sometimes we need a jab in the ribs to get us moving again, for me it’s been much more than that. I’ve had to climb out of a deep hole in which I was sinking. A lifeline was thrown to me just in time. Like the dry drunks that have leveled me in times gone by, there is only one way out.

Time to move on and immerse myself in new writing and photographic projects, now that the alarm bells have once more been silenced.

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End Game (Part 1)

It’s been a very difficult few weeks. I can’t remember feeling this drained in a very long time, and I’m amazed that this hasn’t mutated into a serious bout of depression. Giving a helping hand to a much loved friend can be one of the hardest tasks known to humankind. Not only does it drain the everyday batteries, but draws juice from any on board reserves.

Tomorrow a decision will be made that will either give great relief, or great sadness. The horrible thing is, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it - other than be a friend. I doubt if there will be any quality sleep this evening either for me, or the person I’m hoping and praying for. How I long for a peaceful night.

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Decision Time

It’s been a long time coming, but my wife and I have decided to leave the area, both of us have lived in for most of our lives, and go forth into a new adventure. Next year the plan is to leave Leicester UK, and head seventeen miles south to the town of Market Harborough, for what might turn out to be a much quieter life.

Recently, I sat for a few moments on the side of the Grand Union Canal, close to where we live now and thought about the move. For me personally, it would be good for my depression, as of late, it’s things, events if you will, happening in the area that have laid me quite low at times.

Rubbish in the street, burnt out cars, the angst, the general state of play here in the West End, have worried me for some time. Worse still made me very unhappy, so when my wife informed me that she wanted to move, after a moment’s hesitation, i climbed on board with the idea and been a different human being ever since.

Once those close to us had been informed, we set about looking for properties, and have a few to visit this coming week. Will I miss anything about Leicester?, yes, of course some things. But overall we are both up and ready to move on.

A bad, bad head cold, has seen me more or less housebound this past week. I’ve barely been able to string two words together. Thankfully, it’s in retreat and the words are coming, but slowly. There is a difficult period coming up, and I’m hoping that my faith and strength won’t abandon me in these times of need.

Grand Union Canal, Leicester UK.

Grand Union Canal, Leicester UK.

At The End Of The Week

This evening we lit a fire for the first time this Autumn, just what we (as in the wife and I)’ needed at the end of a busy week. My fitness levels have increased with all the walking, daily exercise and a massive cut down on spreads, cakes, biscuits, etc,. The benefits can be felt in as much that my jeans, combats, all need to be belted tighter than they have been in years.

I’m finding as I did before, some years ago, that my depression is eased enormously, when I’ve been leaner. Of course I’m not saying that it’s a cure for the depressive, but it certainly helps, in my case anyway. There have been some ‘niggles’ in the last few days that have made little dents in my routine, and it well, annoyed me. Nothing to fear, but I have to be aware. Anyway, more wood for the fire. 

 

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My Struggle.

I had so much I wanted to say in this blog post. I’d made notes, given things some thought, but when it came to putting digital ink onto digital paper, my mind went a complete blank. But that’s OK, throughout my periods of depression, there have been many times when the words just didn’t come or flow to make sense of what was going on. 

Things are a bit of a mess in certain areas of my life right now, answers will be found, but not in my time, in the situations time. So, not much to say, but it could be different next time around. Off to Wales next week for a few days with the wife, to celebrate our 13 years of marriage. Let’s hope the weather holds. 

 

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My wife and I paid a visit to Market Harborough in Leicestershire on Monday, a town we love.