Siblings

February 1st 1993, the day my baby brother was born and the day my biggest wish came true! I had always wanted a younger sibling and was so excited to meet him or her. It’s funny because, when you’re younger you don’t really get what having a sibling means, you just see others around you with younger or older brothers and sisters and it looks like it would be fun so I guess that’s what I wanted too.

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I remember being given a bright pink jumper with – I’m the big sister – emblazoned on it and feeling proud as punch. I had the morning off school and went to meet my new best mate and honestly, that has never changed. Cheesy as hell but true, Jack and I have always been close, maybe that’s partly because there’s almost seven years between us but mainly because we quite simply get along!

 

Granted, when he was little I used him as a bit of a toy, dressing him up, teaching him dance moves – there’s plenty of embarrassing video footage – but then as he grew up, I would be goaly by the garage door whilst he practised goal shooting and we began our endless sibling rivalry with game upon game of swing ball.

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Even Jack will admit that he was a bit of a mummy’s boy as he grew up, he didn’t like watching the film Twister because it scared him and when my friends and I forced him to play the board/video game called Atmosphere I’m sure he nearly burst a vein from crying! But we were a team – we ganged up on mum to test out her theory that she wouldn’t be able to scream if she was ever jumped or attacked because she’d be so scared. So, Jack sat in the kitchen and I hid in the under stairs cupboard and when mum got home he acted normal, she came to hang her coat up and I jumped out, scaring her half to death and releasing one horrendously loud scream…Jack and I cried with laughter but mum didn’t speak to us for hours…one of our finest sibling moments!

We are different in so many ways but it’s always worked. He has always been popular, handsome, confident and outgoing.  Always been annoyingly able to turn his hand to anything and blitzed his school days with no worries – or at least that’s what he led us to think! He passed his driving test first time – after making me think he’d failed and I’d FINALLY beaten him at something! He made his leavers music video hit over 250,000 on YouTube and became the “fit bloke with the blue shirt on” in the comments!! He can handle his drink much more than his lightweight sister and made so much more of his uni days than I ever did. I’ve never been jealous of this, I’ve always admired his zest for life, give it a go attitude – this is something I have learnt from him for sure.

He will probably hate that I’ve written this blog about him because we don’t really do deep and meaningful conversations about our relationship – what siblings do?! But I am proud of him, not just because he’s my little brother, just because of the human he has grown into. He approaches life with ease and a sense of laid backness, I do think that sometimes this is a case of a duck gliding on the surface and frantically paddling underneath, but who cares – he gets things done, even if it is on the day or hour before it needs doing! However, teaching has definitely made him more organised and forward thinking!

 

Life has been pretty tough over the last few years but he has never failed to make me laugh. He doesn’t force conversations but I know he is always there. He doesn’t probe but always has a cuddle ready. He doesn’t ask how I am very much but that’s okay because he’d rather treat me normally and take the mickey out of something I’ve said or done and then wink at the end to let me know he loves me really!

I guess I wanted to write this blog post on his 25th birthday because he’s now moved out and has properly started his adult life and it feels like the end of a chapter. One of the blessings in disguise of my whole illness was that we all got to live together as family Green for a couple of years. Many families wouldn’t cope with that, and believe me, we did have our moments, but it just showed me how lucky I am. Lucky because we are so close, we do get on and we do all genuinely love each other. I am lucky because so many siblings don’t get on, argue and fall out and we haven’t – yet! We aren’t twins but there is definitely a twin thing about us, we know how we feel and think before speaking and can confide and trust in each other like only best friends can.

 

So there you have it Jack Green – an ode to us as siblings – you’re creeping up to your thirties now so make the most of every day!

Happy 25th.

#hairlesshannah

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Life would be boring if we were all the same

Grief isn’t really a word I’d associated with my life over the past 18 months until my one-off psychotherapy session. Grief tends to be associated with the loss of a loved one, describing any other form of loss as grief hadn’t really occurred to me before. Yet once I started to ponder this thought, I’ve realised that I have experienced an awful lot of grief on many differing levels and I haven’t dealt with any of them properly.

Since a young age I have most definitely been a person to put on a brave face in front of people because I never want to be a burden. I don’t want to impose on people and add to the stresses and strains they are inevitably dealing with in their own lives. Now don’t get me wrong, of course I confide in my friends and I do talk to my family…when it’s pulled out of me…but on the whole, I like to think I can deal with things, work them through, on my own. But at this golden age of thirty, as this never-ending illness keeps its nails firmly dug into my every being, I’m learning that I can’t always cope on my own. Not as well as I’d like to think I do anyway!

Grief is a process and a process dealt with differently by every human and that’s why it should never be faced with judgement. The way I may deal with things is probably totally different to how someone else would and the time frame I deal with it is also probably vastly different too. This is life, humans are meant to be different, what’s the saying – life would be boring if we were all the same! I am definitely someone who chastises myself too easily, I guilt trip myself far too quickly too and I am a sucker for comparing myself to others which in turn doesn’t help the latter two issues! Without realising it, I suddenly became aware over the past few weeks that on waking every single morning, my first thought of the day was always, without exception, one that took a dig at myself. How awful is that? To wake up every day, being in such a bad place that my first waking thought is one of hate towards myself. That’s why I know I’m not in a good place because although my own self esteem and self-confidence hasn’t always been the best, it’s never, ever been this bad. It makes me sad that I feel this way about myself, not just about my physical being but about my day-to-day life. I have always been such a go getter, a busy person with a real love for life and it makes me so sad that I’ve lost that, especially when there is so much good that surrounds me. Whereas before I could use those good things to keep my head above water, now, I know that these good things are there but they don’t help me as much to keep positive. That’s so much harder to deal with because it’s like they are at an arm’s length away but I can’t quite get to them.

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Although I’m in a waiting period before I start CBT, I thought I’d be proactive and have spent several sleepless, pain filled nights jotting down, thinking about and analysing all the things I’ve lost and may need to grieve for in the last 18 months. It seems I haven’t dealt with any of them – great start Hannah, great start! The list grew longer when I stopped looking at the bigger picture and started looking at the smaller picture that lived within it and that then became quite overwhelming. Seeing it in black and white made me really emotional.

I’m not going to bore you with my list but it ranges from the seemingly little things like not being able to spend time reading a book, to the bigger things like not being able to work, to the obvious one of losing my hair. All of these things cumulatively add up the loss of life as I knew it. The life I’d built up after jury service, being independent again, gone. Just like that. In all honesty I don’t have the answers and I don’t know how I’m supposed to let this go and I’m sure that’s a question I’ll ask when I start CBT. I just struggle with it all because there is no end point. There’s only so much positive thinking I can do. I feel like I can’t control the constant arguments in my head that flit between berating myself for not being positive to being kinder to myself and allowing myself to be okay that I’m not always being positive.

I didn’t know I was going to write this post until a few days ago when grief really did hit me in terms of the death of a loved one. Losing my Grandma was something we had been prepared for in many ways and had wished for her too because dementia is such a cruel illness. We’d lost her a long time ago and watching her the way she became was very hard, luckily she was unaware of how she was existing because she would have hated it. But I was so close to her, after Grandad passed away she was my only Grandparent left and we formed such a tight bond. I loved looking after her and spending time together. We would do puzzles, I’d join in with activities at her care home – glass painting has never been so entertaining! I enjoyed painting her nails and doing her make-up and when she was able to, I was lucky enough to be able to take her out to  enjoy a scone in John Lewis before tackling the disabled toilet with a wheelchair…we did laugh! In the later months it was nice to just sit and hold her hand, push her round the garden when the sun was out and massage in hand cream, talking to her about the past or just sitting with her as she slept. She was a truly special lady in my life and yes, I know she lived to 91 and that’s amazing and I know that she’s at peace and that it was best for her. But she was my Grandma and I loved her and I can’t explain how much I am going to miss her.

So yes, I guess you can say grief has come to a head and I don’t know what to do with it all. I haven’t cried very much which is SO unlike me but then I don’t feel like I need to, I just know that all of a sudden since this realisation, there’s this knot in the pit of my stomach and I can’t untie it. I think perhaps it’s because I know that if I start to untie it, there’s a lot to be unravelled and I don’t know if I have the strength or energy to deal with it all. It shall be done but I need the tools to approach it properly so hopefully my appointment will come through soon!

Having said all of the above, I have never lost sight if the fact that I am still so very lucky. And that has always brought me back to a quote from Winnie The Pooh; “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Happy Tuesday.

#hairlesshannah

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Always the Bridesmaid

There’s a saying, “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” There’s also a film named ’27 Dresses’ that is basically based around the quote. It’s a saying that is relatively true to my life, I have been bridesmaid three times now and don’t get me wrong, each time has been a total honour and I’ve loved being part of those special days, but as mentioned in my post earlier this week about being single, as I get older, that thought does creep in – maybe I was born for the bridesmaid role and not the actual bride!

Now this isn’t a poor me, need love and sympathy blog, far from it. I am one of the lucky people to have actually experienced love, and I mean proper true love and I am very grateful for that. I have so many happy memories and it makes me have the belief that one day I will find that again.

However, it is a fear of mine that I won’t find that person, my lobster, that one person I will grow old with because I want to have my own family unit that I can love and nurture. I have always wanted to get married and have children and give them the love and experiences that I’ve been lucky to have. But as with many things in my life, I know this is, in many ways, out of my control – especially at this point in my life. I’m not in a situation where I can ‘put myself out there’ because of real, physical reasons and I would also be nervous about getting myself out there because of reasons that have impacted my self-confidence and self-worth so much. So, I’ve had to learn to be, or try to be okay with my current single situation more than ever before.

Being single totally has its perks, I know that. It meant that I could up and move to Dubai without a second thought of how it may impact on a partners life, I could travel and do as I pleased on the whole and make decisions based on my wants and needs. It means I have my whole wardrobe and bedroom to myself for storage and to house my shoe obsession and I have the entire bed to myself which is always a benefit – no snoring or quilt hogging to contend with or cold feet!

But I would happily exchange this and make adjustments if it meant meeting the right person coming into my life. I do still believe there is someone out there for everyone, it’s just a case of that chance meeting at some point, I am a strong believer in three things:

  1. It happens when you least expect it
  2. What’s meant to be won’t pass you by
  3. Everything happens for a reason

Each experience we have in life be it a relationship, job, holiday, illness, loss…they all teach us something. I’ve struggled with number 3 recently because I can’t get my head around how so much awfulness can happen to so many lovely people and explain it away with – everything happens for a reason. Yes we learn things about ourselves and others through these tough times but do we really need that to happen to such an awful extent in order for this lesson to be taught?  That I struggle with.

But in terms of relationships I have never looked for any of the meaningful relationships I’ve had, apart from one online, they’ve just happened – one from a chance meeting in a shoe shop and one through friends of a friend. My longest relationship almost didn’t happen because I told him at my 18th party that I didn’t want to dance with him because I was having too much fun with my friends – priorities!!  And because things happen when you least expect them, I believe that things won’t pass you by because if they’re meant to be, they will seek you out. And then depending on how things work out, no matter the heartache or happiness, I do believe that what is meant to be, will be.

I personally think many people are afraid of being single or admitting how long they’ve been single. It’s like being single is something to be ashamed of, like you’ve been rejected from society and are some kind of freak. I know I have felt terribly embarrassed by the length of my single life but it shouldn’t be that way, there’s nothing wrong with me, I just haven’t found anyone who is right yet that’s all. I’m actually quite pleased I’ve had this single time as an adult because I’ve had time to work out who I am for real without influences from anyone else. I’m a strong-willed, fiercely independent woman – sometimes to my own detriment – but I do believe that without being single, I may not have discovered these characteristics in their entirety and I may not have travelled and had some of the experiences I’ve had without this single time. I’m now fully aware of what I want and don’t want from life and a partner, I know what I’m willing to compromise on and what I’m not and I am happy to stick with that. The right person will come along because I know that I am meant to be a wife and a mother and it will happen when it’s meant to be…am I justifying this too much?!

Until then, I just have to keep going through my own life’s challenges and uncovering new things about myself which will in turn continue to build me as a person. So if you’re single, don’t feel sad, there’s many of us in the same pool, so lets just enjoy it until it’s time to jump out and enjoy the next chapter of our story!

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Phew – last daily blog for February, now I’ll be back to one or two blogs a week which I have to say it’s much more manageable for me! So have a lovely weekend and see you soon!

#hairlesshannah

Flashback Fridays: The Kylie Days

I’ve decided to do a little mini series over the next few months of the key stages in my life, starting today with ‘The Kylie Days.’ I was lucky enough to grow up over a couple of decades where music was out of this world. From the age of about 3 – 6 I was obsessed with Kylie Minogue. She was the first famous person I ever ‘fangirled’ over and to this day I continue to think she is an amazing role model for children and adults. I guess you could say she was the person who got me interested in dancing. At every opportunity you would find me dancing in the front room – either naked, in a swimming costume a leotard or some kind of fancy dress outfit. I would copy the dance routines on the TV for hours on end and then go off and make up my own little routines to the music that was in the CD player at the time. When I look back at home videos of this, there’s a part of me that doesn’t recognise the girl staring back at me. I was very outgoing, confident and not camera shy at all! To be honest, I look at the clips and feel irritated at how annoying I come across!

I find it fascinating that many children find it so easy to let go of their inhibitions yet as some they get older, as they learn what’s socially acceptable, they begin to close themselves off and become timid and shy. Of course we aren’t all the same and there will be some children who were shy as children and become outgoing as adults – there isn’t a rule, I’m just basing this on me and my life. I guess in many ways I do have confidence because to teach I think that’s a personality trait you need, but I am a worrier and I care almost too much about what people think, even when it’s people I don’t know.

What hits me most about my childhood is the lack of technology I engaged with. Yes, I was in love with my first ever cassette player, my first portable CD player and then later on my Game Boy and Tetris but part from them, my childhood days were spent colouring, playing with Lego, making perfume in the garden from flower petals and water and using my imagination to play for hours with my toys. I absolutely loved writing stories and having stories read to me. There are of course children who still do all of these things but a lot of children also have so much “screen time” everyday and that makes me sad. I am aware that there are many educational apps and devices out there but for me personally, as a teacher and a grown woman, I don’t think there is anything better for a child’s development than to be making things,playing with their peers and families, exploring the world around them and by spending time by themselves with toys that evoke imagination, promote problem solving and above anything else provide them with happiness; after all, you only get one childhood so spend it taking in the world around you rather than staring down at a screen.

My imagination was always quite out there! We have never had pets in our household (allergies!) but when I was younger I was always desperate for one, and you know what they say, desperate times lead to desperate measures! I would tie rope around the handle bars of my stabilised bike and pretend it was my horse and then position all of my teddies, (who became farm animals) so that I could feed them from my basket! The all time low though was what I came to do to get over the fact that I didn’t have a dog. Goodness knows who’s bright idea it was but somehow I ended up having a ball in a sandwich bag with a long piece of string tied around it which I would then walk. Not just around my house and garden, oh no! I would also walk it around the park and down to the newsagent!! One of the worst days of my life was when one of the balls popped and technically my dog ‘died.’ I was so upset and we had to go out and purchase a new ‘dog’ ASAP! Granted I was very young and I didn’t see anything wrong with it but that don’t mean I don’t laugh uncontrollably about it now! When I was 18 mum and dad bought me one of the battery operated dogs that flip and walk because they thought I was entitled to one after my deprived childhood!!

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I loved Primary School, I guess I have always been known as a bit of a geek. I was never the popular kid in the class but I always had a great circle of friends. I never felt like I properly fit in with the cool kids, it didn’t really bother me because I have always been quietly reassured that being my own person is okay. Primary School is where I made my first ever best friend – Kayleigh. We did everything together, we crimped our hair, had sleep overs (some of which I wimped out of half way through the night! I was a home bird from such a young age!) went to swimming lessons, trampolining lessons, we sang, danced and looked out for each other. We ended up at the same Secondary school too which was amazing and like some things do, sadly we did drift apart but we are in touch now which is so lovely. Seeing her become a mum, even though we aren’t close anymore made me so happy. There will always be that bond there, in a way it’s like a first love. When you look back at your childhood and you school days there will always be that one person who shaped those years for you and Kayleigh is that person for me.

I had some wonderful teachers at school and I reckon this is one of the main reasons that almost from day dot, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. School seemed so much different back then, I know I am remembering it from a pupils point of view and I am sure that even back then teaching had its troubles, stresses and strains but I just remember it being so much freer than it is now. We had time to actually make topic books and make the marble covers using ink in water. We spent ages at different times of the year doing big arts and crafts projects, we did PE in our knickers and vests to a certain age without having to worry about the teachers being inappropriate or that boys and girls should be separate to get changed. Yes we had spelling and times tables tests which terrified me but school was, on the whole fun! Everyone enjoyed watching a film in the hall at Christmas and having big parties. We loved assemblies where we would sing hymns and giggle at the boys trying to make underarm farts! Year 6 always seemed so exciting because you’d get to sit on the bench at the back during assembly and not on the floor – you’d really made it then!  Although the world has changed over the past 30 years, fundamentally, children have remained the same, they want to be accepted, they want to learn and they want to have fun.

And then there were the toilets, namely the toilet roll that my school used. It was literally like using greaseproof paper to wipe your backside! Playtimes were always great fun – rolled up socks were banned at one point (the start of health and safety?!), but we loved playing IT, stuck in the mud and bulldog. In the summer when we used the field we would continue to play these games but would also spend time making daisy chains and later on pretending we were in The Spice Girls! Practising cartwheels and round-offs always occupied us and in Year 6 we all had to take it in turns to muck out and look after Guinness the rabbit! Guinness was the only pet I ever had and one holiday I got chosen to bring him home to look after…it was then I realised that the reality of having a pet wasn’t actually for me!

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Birthday parties were always a talking point at school, like they still are today. Bowling parties with the big bear in Bexleyheath were always popular, as were swimming parties with the magician at the end at the Lido. Time was always made for birthday cakes to be brought into school, mum always brought in ice lollies for my class as May tended to be hot which was always a novelty! My birthday cakes were always homemade and were always incredible – how mum and dad discovered the recipes and had the time to create such amazing cakes is beyond me. They always took the time to make me feel special, not just on my birthday, but everyday.

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We had the most amazing trips at my primary school. I had three weekly trips away which was so exciting – getting to spend a week away from your parents just to do fun things and hang out with your friends is every child’s dream!  All three trips were to farms or activity camps, the most memorable being the farm that Michael Morpurgo owns in Wales. As a book lover, that was such an exciting week for me. Michael Morpurgo came one evening to actually read from his book to us and then signed copies for us to buy. We then spent the week learning how to be farm hands and I loved every second. We got to share rooms with our best friends and stayed up late to go and watch baby calves being born. I was so lucky to be able to do those things and have those experiences because they were the things that started to mould me into a well-rounded human.

I was always busy, something that continued into my teenage and adult years. I was never good at being bored but then that was a very rare occurrence as I could easily think up activities to do or be happy to just sit and read a book.  I was so lucky to be part of a family who were able to support my hobbies and encourage me to try anything and everything. Dancing was my thing and from a very young age I joined New Eltham Dance School and there I remained until I left for uni at 18. Without any doubt in my mind, that dance school was a main contributor to who I am today. Miss Sandra, Miss Yvonne and later Miss Amanda treated us as their own children. Both Miss Sandra and Miss Yvonne were original Tiller Girls which I always thought was so impressive and would talk about with my friends at school! Those wonderful ladies taught us about discipline, encouraged us to have fun and also taught us about dedication, working towards a target, improving on a skill and about the importance of being a team. I made so many friends at dancing, it was an extremely special community. We did exams and annual shows which I adored because we got to play at dressing up, wear make-up and have posh hairstyles! I do look back at the dance show videos and laugh at some of the costumes though – one year I was a glow-worm with a torch stuck to my head! My main style of dance was tap although I loved modern and did try my hand at ballet for a few years but was rubbish! With tap I reached the stage where I was ready to do my teacher’s qualification but never finished it off, maybe I will one day. I was so sad when I left to go to uni but have stayed in touch with NEDs and enjoyed a little reunion a few years back. What a special place that I am so lucky to have been a part of.

Holidays were always fun – most of them being spent between Norfolk where Dad was born and Swansea where mum grew up. Langland is the beach of choice, still is to this day. We’d spend every day with Andy – who is like mum’s sister and is my Godmother and her son Adam. Ad and I didn’t always get on but we did have fun most of the time! Jack and I were both lucky enough to go on skiing holidays throughout our youth which I did enjoy but wouldn’t necessarily be my holiday of choice now! I’m more like mum, carrying those skis and wearing those boots are not a fun thing! We also got to visit family in Canada where my uncle, niece and nephew live. All of these experiences at such a young age for sure started my love for travel. The infamous moment in Canada is when we drove all the way out to Niagra Falls, one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world, and all I was bothered about was seeing the floral clock!!!

But the best thing about this stage of my life was receiving the thing I’d wanted more than anything – a little baby brother or sister. I was never lonely as a child but I just knew that being a sister was a job I could be good at. When Jack was born, all of our lives changed and I simply loved it. I loved being old enough to help mum and dad feed, change, bath and burp him as well as treating him like a play thing at times! We formed such a strong bond and I do think in part that’s because of the six, almost seven-year age gap. To this day he remains one of my best friends and is someone who I know I can always rely on. He has turned into such an amazing man and I couldn’t be prouder of everything he is and everything he does.

My childhood ‘Kylie Days’ were so much fun looking back. Yes I had incidents, who doesn’t?! – two involving my bottom though(!) one where I fell off a stool which flipped and I sliced it open and the second when I jumped off the end of a bed landing on a portable radiator and burnt, quite badly my poor little butt cheeks! I would cry when life didn’t go my way i.e when I wasn’t allowed to watch Neighbours and an episode of 999 scarred me for life when I saw what a grizzly bear was capable of! But even those experiences are part of my history which I wouldn’t erase, even bad experiences have hidden agendas, for me – learn how to scare off bears if you’re in their territory!!

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Our childhoods shape us more than we know, I have always felt that as a teacher. I may not have children of my own, but each child that I teach becomes so very important to me. I look back and thank all my teachers as they gave me, alongside my parents, the life skills that I have needed to succeed in my life thus far. I think everyone has that one teacher who they hold dearly in their hearts and mine will always be Mrs Counter. She was the kindest, most caring lady and teacher in our school and I idolised her. She is the reason why I have Jessica teddy in my classes because that’s the name Mrs Counter gave our class bear. As well as Mrs Counter I was lucky with every teacher I had, they prepared me for how to cope with failures, they taught me how to be careful in potentially dangerous situations, they taught me how to read, write and solve problems. But they also instilled in me the importance of trust. I always knew I could talk to my teachers, I learnt how to build relationships and trust my peers and that is what I have always strived for as a teacher. It’s a profession that holds so much responsibility, more than we realise probably and that is why I have always taken my role so seriously. Yes, I want all my pupils to do well academically but I also want them to look back and remember all the fun, crazy things we did in class but mainly I want them to look back the way I do and be thankful that they had me as a teacher and as part of their life.

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So that’s my first trip down memory lane – did it spark some memories for you if you grew up in the 80s and 90s? Maybe it’s made you think about how your childhood shaped you – let me know in the comments below.

Have a really lovely weekend,

#hairlesshannah

 

Christmas present haul

Christmas may be a few weeks ago now – I know, how did that happen? – but I wanted to have a go at doing my first ever haul blog! They are blogs and vlogs that I really enjoy reading and watching, probably because it satisfies the nosy parker in me but also because I like to get ideas for nice gifts for people when an occasion next comes up. I haven’t included every single gift I received but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love and appreciate each and every one. So before I get started it’s disclosure time…this isn’t about me bragging about what I got, it’s just me having a go at writing a new type of blog.

As with every year, I was so lucky with the gifts I received, most of them being total surprises and I didn’t have one single gift that I needed to exchange or take back – score! The first gifts I want to show are some of the gorgeous LUSH bath bombs and bubble bars I got. I have taken them out of the beautiful gift boxes as I wanted to use them ASAP! Honestly, I know I go on about LUSH a lot and I will be doing a Blog in more detail about baths and relaxation, but seriously, if you haven’t ever shopped there – go. Yes, it is on the pricier side of bath and beauty products but I’d rather have fun baths than a run of the mill, boring, functional bath!

The first set I opened was called ‘Happy Daze.’ It included The Experimenter Bath Bomb, Fizzbanger Bath Bomb, Brightside Bubble Bar and The Comforter Bubble Bar. I was so thrilled with this set because out of the four, three are my favourites  and since trying the Fizzbanger, it’s safe to say this set will now feature on any future wish list!

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The second box was a seasonal Christmas selection box was called ‘Festive Friends.’ Inside were three gorgeous LUSH products: the Butterbear Bath Bomb, Father Christmas Bath Bomb and the Penguin Bubble Bar. You won’t see the Butterbear in the photos because I’ve already used him up! It was another product I’d never tried and again, LUSH didn’t let me down. I’ve always loved a musk scent (who remembers White Musk from The Body Shop?!) so this one suited me to a T.

Whilst on the theme of bath and beauty products, I want to mention the other skin care items I got. My skin has been even more sensitive than usual lately. On one of our many trips to Holland&Barrett, we discovered their skin care section. Mum has restocked my shelves with their Dr. Organic Aloe Vera skin lotion and the concentrated Aloe Vera cream which is the only thing (along with Clinique’s Moisture Surge) that my skin can handle at the moment and I LOVE them. They don’t have a scent as such but they aren’t greasy and dry on your skin quickly which is a positive for me. You don’t need to apply much of any of these Dr. Organic products, they are thick but they go a long way which means you don’t need to buy them frequently so are very cost effective. High Five!

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I also received a gift which will be really useful; it’s called, This Works, Super Sleep Dual Pillow Spray. The set contains two 20ml sprays, a sleep plus pillow spray which is a “fast acting, natural remedy to restore a healthy sleep pattern,” and deep sleep pillow spray which is “a best-selling natural sleep aid that inspires feelings of calm.” An absolutely spot on gift for me at the moment seeing as sleep is very important and can be a painful, disturbed experience.

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I haven’t been able to photograph my next gift because it was in use from Christmas Day! Mum and Dad got me the most amazing Dreamland Intelliheat Premium Fleece Dual Control Fitted Electric Underblanket. Now seriously, anything that’s name is that long and that detailed must be an out of this world product! And on top of that, it was a Which? best buy – wouldn’t expect anything less in terms of research from my Dad! It has two controls which means you can heat one side of the bed or both (I opt for both because I don’t have anyone else to warm up the other side for me!). When you are getting ready for bed you set the controls to ‘quick heat up’ for five minutes and then set the under sheet to your own personal preference once the time is up. You can set it to heat the bed for either one hour or nine. This is my only negative thing about the product – it would be good to have an in-between time setting, like four hours because at the moment, nine hours is too long but an hour is too short – first world problems or what?! Then there are five heating options, the last few nights when its been freezing I’ve gone for five but really, three is the optimal temperature and enables the perfect nights sleep. All old woman jokes aside, I really have found that it’s helped with my muscle pain during the night. Like with hot baths, heat does seem to ease pain and I haven’t felt as stiff when I wake up (!) Honestly, one of the best presents I have EVER recieved! I believe Mum and Dad got it from John Lewis but I’m sure there are other places it can be purchased from too.

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Next up are books. I got four this year and all serve a different purpose!

  • First up, Mum and Dad gave me a  Dorling Kindersley photography book aimed at helping beginners. It takes you through everything you will need to know as a beginner and uses step by step pointers and photos which is a real positive for me as I’m a visual learner. It teaches you about ISO, aperture and shutter speed as well as shooting in various locations, lights and photographing  different subjects. Photography is a hobby I want to learn more about this year so I was really chuffed with this book.
  • Then I opened my annual diary from WH Smith’s. It’s a beautiful, bright, butterfly themed, page a day diary which is what I have used since I was twelve! Spot on Mum – thanks.
  • Next I opened a hilarious book from a friend entitled, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight. I’ve heard so many people talk about this book, although the title is funny, having browsed over the first few pages, it seems like there will be lots of things to take from the book to implement into my life. I’m looking forward to reading it and will feed back once I’m finished!
  • Then finally I received, ‘The Christmasaurus’ by Tom Fletcher – yup, the guy from the band McFly! He is also the author of the series of children’s books, ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped…..’ series. As a teacher, I know that children adore these books and as an avid follower of Tom on YouTube, I’d followed his writing and publishing process, so was excited to get my hands on the finished product. The book has already been commissioned for a stage show next Christmas and is being made into an animated movie – amazing, what a talented guy.

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I have an inkling that people may have picked up on the fact that I am partial to a quote here and there! The plaques and shaped quote gifts I received were all so lovely, meaningful and ones that Dad is going to have to come and put up for me – I mean, what else is he going to do with all this time on his hands now?! I don’t know where they are from but if you like the look of them as gifts for people, all you need to do is search the internet and you will be bombarded by similar things. They may not be big or expensive gifts but personally, I think they are a perfect sentimental gift for someone you care about. The one Mum gave me about socks, is an example of one that isn’t soppy but one that I will read over and over and always have a little chuckle to myself because we all know it’s so true!

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You will also see that I received my own personalised recipe book – so cool! I already have one but it’s the one I was given when I went to Uni and it’s quite small and won’t fit in the recipes I find in magazines etc. So this one is perfect. I am going to transfer the recipes into the new book but also make sure I cut and stick in the recipes that Mum hand wrote because they hold a sentimental value to me. There’s something about keeping handwritten recipes that hold a bit of family history in my opinion.

Luckily my friends know me very well! I received three, yes three Mahogany Teakwood Bath and Body Works candles! One all the way from Chicago and two from Dubai – seriously, so happy! I also received one other beautiful candle and a gorgeous, stripped wood tea light holder with butterfly detailing. I don’t have a problem – promise.

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My brother treated me to a necklace that I have had my eye on for ages. It is designed by a lady called Anna Saccone who is part of the Saccone-Joly family who are vloggers on YouTube. Each necklace has a Zodiac design on which means you can buy in accordance to the recipients star sign. You can choose from silver, rose gold or silver gold plated and they come in L, M or S sizes which is a great feature. Mine has the Taurus sign and is in rose gold, it came in a beautiful display box and included the story behind the designs. Anna sells these pieces on stilnest.com and she also designs Zodiac style charms and bracelets. Beautiful gifts for all ages, I would highly recommend.

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I wanted to feature the gorgeous tree decorations I received. You may see a pattern occurring here – I may possibly like penguins! All three are from from three different friends and I love them all. One is a wood carved decoration with my named carved into one side and a Christmas penguin into the other. The next one is a glass Christmas penguin and the third is a glitter covered, more traditionally shaped bauble and I love him! Also along the penguin theme, a friend bought me a penguin pen which I will use to plan future blogs – another quirky, fun gift.

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Finally, I wanted to mention a gift that you won’t be able to find or buy anywhere but that I am in love with. When I went to Egypt I purchased some beautiful material from a market at such a cheap price and had the idea that I wanted to use it for a throw or some kind. I mentioned it to Mum and Dad when I brought it home but never noticed that it had disappeared! So when I opened up the most beautiful quilt/bed throw and pillow on Christmas morning, I was in total shock! It was beyond what I had imagined for the material and I will treasure it forever. It was made by one of mum’s friends from choir and I would highly recommend her if you need anything like this made, she has done such a great job.

So there you have it, my first haul!  I hope you enjoyed it and that you may have some gift ideas for the coming year, let me know what gifts you loved this Christmas…that way I can continue to indulge in my nosiness!

Happy weekend!

#hairlesshannah

 

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Out with the old, in with the new.

2017 is almost upon us – I find it so difficult to comprehend that this year is almost done. The other day we sat around the table and did our annual, “what have your highlights been this year?” game. To be blunt, I couldn’t think of many. There have been many headlines about how 2016 has been the pits in terms of celebrity deaths, Brexit and Trump and my year fits quite neatly into that box of crap.

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Obviously I enjoyed our joint birthday bash and there have been the other days out that have lifted my spirits but all in all the year has been littered with appointments, frustrations, tears and sadness….oh and lots of sleep!

I do understand the whole ‘new year new start’ business yet when the clock strikes midnight on Saturday, things won’t magically change. As I did last year, I still have hope that in another year’s time things will be ever so much brighter but I now also have an inkling of fear that that won’t be the case. I’m still no closer really to a diagnosis, medication is still being figured out and if anything, I am in a worse state than I was a year ago. Therefore I approach New Year’s Eve with trepidation. Whereas last year I found Christmas much harder, this year I find myself getting emotional even thinking about the countdown to 2017. I don’t have any plans and 2016 feels like a total waste of my life. I know people will say, it’s not, you’ve done so much in other ways, but to me, this year has been rubbish.

I usually make resolutions like most people do…give up certain things, lose weight, take up a new hobby etc but this year I’m not making them. I’m just going to see what comes along and embrace moments with the aim of getting and feeling better about my life and myself. I guess this is because I fear that making any resolutions about my true hopes could end in more disappointment and to be honest, I couldn’t really deal with that. I think I’ve reached a level of stale mate. I’m now an accomplished actress of disguise but I’m finding it harder and harder to “be strong” “be positive” “have hope.” Living through 16 months of this has, in all honesty, been a living hell and because most of what I’m experiencing is invisible, it makes it even harder to explain and cope with.

Watching my friends and family go through their own hardships this year and not being able to help in the way healthy Hannah would have, has been hard to deal with. It’s been a learning curve to think up new ways of helping. I think this year has seen a lot of us having to really grow up and face grown up issues but thankfully we have grown together and it’s made us stronger. Life can be so cruel and unfair but unfortunately that is life and we have to keep going because what’s the other option? It’s the relationships we make along the way that help us put one foot in front of the other and that should never be taken for granted. Any type of relationship needs to be worked at, they are two-way interactions and sometimes cracks turn into great big crevasses that can’t be repaired but that is also a lesson worth learning.

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I’m aware that this post seems very doom and gloom and don’t get me wrong, I will be thrilled to see the back of 2016 and start a fresh. Maybe a new year will make me feel stronger again and I do hope that’s the case. I have lots of things to look forward to; watching my friends move into new homes, watching their children grow up, seeing my little brother move out and start making his own home with Yaz and seeing what my parents will get up to now they’re both retired! I live vicariously through all of these things. I don’t want to be tip toed around incase I get hurt or jealous. I want to hear what everyone else is doing, in the same way that I want to hear if they aren’t having a great time of things. Just because I have a long-term illness doesn’t mean that what anyone else is going through is any less important. I can still listen, give cuddles and be a shoulder. Like I said – relationships are a two-way thing.

 

I truly hope that 2017 is much perkier for all of us and that there are more moments of sunshine that we don’t have to make for ourselves. Here’s to light at the end of tunnels, to giving each other strength when we can’t muster our own, to bringing smiles to each others faces and to providing love, kindness and compassion as and when it’s needed.

Happy New Year everyone…see you on the flip side!

#hairlesshannah

 

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1 year blogiversary!

Can you believe it is one whole year since I wrote my first ever blog post? I certainly can’t. Although this year has felt like one of the longest, toughest years,when I read over that first blog I realised how much has changed. How much I have changed.

Throughout the year I have had to learn to deal with a wide range of emotions. It seems like whenever I take a step forward, inevitably (it seems) something happens to knock me back again. It’s like I am constantly swimming towards shore and as it comes into sight a strong current comes to sweep me back out to sea again. I have almost come to accept that now which makes me sad. I continue to be as positive as I can be but I must admit, I am finding that hard.

However, having said all of this, I finally feel like things are beginning to move in the right direction. The neurologist we are seeing has been brilliant. He wants to get to the crux of all the medications I’m on by seeing which ones are actually helping me and which we can get rid of or even replace with something better. He has also prescribed anaesthetic patches which I can put on my head to hopefully numb the pins and needles and dull the burning sensation. I’m on day 2 now and as yet nothing has changed but I am hopeful that with perseverance they will be the best Christmas present ever!

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I definitely feel like I am braver than I was last year. Because I’ve lost some of my independence, well, quite a lot of it, it makes me even more determined to be strong and brave when there is no one to support me. For example, this week I went up to Kings by myself and had a skin biopsy and more blood tests. Dad tried his very best to get to be with me but London trains decided to mess things up and mum was in Wales and I told her in no uncertain terms that I’d be so angry with her if she came back! And anyway, she has always said that if she’s not there in person, she is always on my shoulder to give me love and support. I must admit I was so nervous but I survived it. Yes I cried in the middle of the blood test waiting room but who cares?!

I’m also much better at asking for help when I need it. Telling dad I need to hold onto his arm because I’m shaky and my legs are weak. Before I would have struggled on. Not feeling embarrassed when I can’t open a bottle or carry something heavy because of my stupid joints! Little things but huge steps for me.

I may have bought a flat and lived alone for several years, lived in Dubai and travelled the world but this year has been the biggest learning curve for me. In many ways I feel I’ve reverted to childhood because I need to depend on my family so much in every way imaginable but I also feel more of an adult than ever before.

Like I have said many times, I have concentrated on focussing on the small things to make me happy. Last week a group of my beautiful friends organised a Christmas meal for me. They took into consideration all the hurdles that prevent me from doing things and eliminated them so that I could enjoy the evening. They will never know what that meant to me. I sat back that evening and looked around the table and also thought of my other friends who weren’t there and thought about how amazing they have been over the last twelve months and I actually felt slightly emotional. These girls have all been though unbelievably tough times over the last year, some for more time than that, yet they aren’t inward looking. They are always there when you need them, always supportive, always the friends that have become like family. I sat there and just thought how blinking lucky I am. Some people won’t ever experience friendships like I have or have the bond that I have with my family.

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Christmas is fast approaching and last year there is not one photograph of me. This year there will be, with the patch on my head and everything! I’d never really experienced the emotions that some people talk about when it comes to Christmas but last year I did. It was a bizarre experience. Christmas is another social media aspiration; everyone laughing and joking in their jumpers, sipping champagne,eating the best lunch and playing games. But life isn’t like that. Last year I didn’t want Christmas because I hated my life, I wasn’t in a happy place. It is one day but I didn’t really want it to happen, it was the first time I’d ever cried at Christmas. It’s such a funny time of year but it has always been one of my favourite times. I am all in for lights and festivities! So this year, although so much is going on and there’s no hair, still a world of pain and uncertainty, I am going to treat it like another day but just with a little more fun thrown in.

So, before I sign off I want to have a moment to write a mini Oscars speech! Firstly by saying thank you to everyone who keeps reading my blog and sends messages of encouragement and love – they mean the world and keep the positivity levels up! To all the people who have given up their own precious time to help me with reiki and reflexology and provide support with trying to do a little bit of work. I often wonder why I have been so lucky to have relationships with such amazingly talented, kind people – thank you, everything you’ve done has helped me deal with my circumstances and take steps in the right direction. Thank you to my friends who keep me laughing, help me feel normal and hold no grudges when I have to cancel or leave early. Each one of you are diamonds and I look forward to 2017 where we can continue to work out life’s ups and downs together! And finally, thank you to my family who goodness knows have also had their lives interrupted and turned upside down – there are no words but I think you know how grateful I am and how much I love you.

All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas and may 2017 bring you good health, good luck and good times.

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#hairlesshannah