All posts by CARAMELODY

My stories are generally short and sweet, easy to read....not supposed to challenge anyone mentally. Just a few minutes diversion. You might relate to Caramel. You might think she is daft. She is learning with every story. Then there is the story of how Caramel was crushed. It will be delicately told. Mostly you will have a site full of life and joy. I don't have a camera. I have a tablet (which I won as a prize for passing a test at work) and that has a little camera thingy on it. I have tried to take photos and load them onto my lap-top, but there is something wrong with my tablet. It only lets me take one photo at a time. I have to bluetooth it and then delete it before I can take the next one. Nightmare! Anyway, I bring up the subject because very few of the pictures in the posts I publish were taken by me. They are from Pixabay and Shutterstock etc. They are not my "work". Then again I don't consider my posts work as such. It's just me waffling away, the same way as I would write a letter to my loved ones, about my life mostly. If dread the thought of upsetting anyone by sharing personal posts on WordPress and decorating them with what appear to be free images from these image sites. If I have unintentionally used something that someone recognizes and feels they should have been given credit or the image not be used at all. Please leave a comment on my post and I will correct it. The pictures I use are only used to decorate my waffley posts and make it more bearable for the 20-30 who seem to regularly view or like my posts (I don't know how many actually read them). I would never claim they are mine or my work. I make no money at all from blogging. Neither am I doing this to attain credit or recognition. I have just found it helpful to write about "stuff". It's a huge bonus that other bloggers have been so friendly and left kind comments. But please please let me know if I have broken blogging etiquette. I don't want to sour anyone else's blogging experience.

My Skiing Days Seem Like A Distant Memory

I was recently invited to join some friends on a skiing trip. I could not go. I could not even think about going. I am way way way too busy…

  • work (paid by the NHS and unpaid for charities)
  • wedding arrangements
  • Jack’s family
  • my family
  • our friends
  • all sorts of other commitments and responsibilities and projects and extras

I think that the Pandemic sort of hammered the nail into the coffin of my travelling for recreational purposes – ie. holidays!

I am looking trough the holiday spam photos my friends sent me from their trip to Switerland and it all looks so gorgeous. They look like they had great fun.

Photo by Christian Buergi on Pexels.com

There is so much to do right now…I cannot imagine taking time out for a vacation. I will have a break when Jack and I are on honeymoon of course. But until then…eve if I did go away, I don’t think I would even be able to relax, There is just so much to do!

Anyway…they brought me back some Mattherhorn shaped novelty chocolates – which was sweet.

Is It A Straw Or A Rafter In Your Eye?

I faced a situation recently when someone became very picky over small things I was doing. Small things. You know, the little things someone does in an effort to keep things in order, to categorize things as important. When it comes to big things…it is often important that you strictly follow a policy or procedure. But when it comes to little things…there is usually room for people to use their common sense and work out an orderly approach to prioritising and keep their work organized.

I tend to ignore pickiness for all sorts of reasons. Someone might be having a bad day, they might be stressed out, they might be tired. Or, there could be other reasons, they might be inflexible and insistent that their way is the only way.

But when it becomes persistent pickiness. When you go above and beyond in all you do and someone seems to only see your faults, it can become dispiriting. Even more dispiriting when the person asks someone in authority to approach you to voice what you know is someone else’s fault-finding (because the person in authority never works with you). When approached by said person in authority, I explained why I do things a certain way and they seemed impressed at what I said. To an extent, the issue is resolved because the person in authority agreed with me. But that has sort of made things worse with the original fault-finder. Now they seem a little resentful that I was praised as insightful and innovative.

Photo by Gustavo Rodrigues on Pexels.com

What I find difficult is that the person who is being picky with me is doing things that are causing lots of upset and offense and complaints and extra challenges. I never give this person negative feedback, partly because I don’t feel it’s my place to do so, and partly because I .prefer to be encouraging. I just try to be friendly and warm with them. So it sure is strange to be on the receiving end of constant trickle of griping and grumbling.

It’s early days, but I know this could have the potential to chip away at my joy. It’s one of those straw / rafter situations that can be so frustrating to deal with. Sometimes keeping perspective, viewing things clear-sightedly, and not allowing hurt feelings to fester…it can be quite a challenge to resolve.

Gems In My Mental Health First Aid Kit

I keep thinking about own my Mental Health First Aid Kit and it’s contents. Checking that it is up to date and effective is so important.

The next suggestion on the list of items you may want to include in your MENTAL FIRST AID KIT is mementos to remind you of people who love you. Physical mementos can be important because they can seem so real, something physical that you can touch and hold. I like to think of these as gems that I can pick up and admire, allowing the light to shine on them and dazzle me.

I don’t possess many mementos that have sentimental value. I am not one for clutter. My favourite possessions are generally dresses. I have never really been the type to get attached to “things”. There is one thing that has become important to me though – my engagement ring. In this case, it literally involves a gem!

Photo by The Glorious Studio on Pexels.com

It was too hard to write about it at first, but I lost the first engagement ring that Jack gave me. I know – terrible! I have never been good with jewellery. Rings are especially problematic. My fingers start itching…so I take a ring off…and I put it in my pocket, or in my purse..or somewhere I think it is safe. When I lost my first engagement ring, I was actually mortified. I was much too upset to be able to write about it. Jack and I had lots of words about it. Since then, I have been wearing a less expensive engagement ring…and Jack has been asking me to get used to keeping it on…getting past that itch that prompts the urge to get rid of it. I still take it off some days, and I always feel a bit of a failure when I do that. He calls this “training” for the beautiful wedding ring he is going to be slipping onto my finger. He does not want me to lose that!

Monetary value means nothing to me. But sadly, some women do place a high value on the financial cost of a ring. Even though the engagement ring I am wearing right now is a much lower cost than my first ring, to me it is precious. It is precious because it is a reminder every day that I am going to marry the man who seems to be my match, my ideal counterpart, the man I am happy to view as my head. That ring does have a powerful impact on me when I think about everything it symbolizes.

There are a couple of possessions that make me smile because of the memories that they stir. One is my glass frog:

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Aaaah….my glass frog has been with me for over twenty years now. Considering it is so small and delicate, it is remarkable that it has survived. It brings back memories of my trip to France with Mumma and our trip to the mountain village of Èze while we were touring the French Riviera.

The mountain village of Èze on the French Riviera

My glass frog is one of the very few possessions I have taken with me whenever I have moved. It brings back wonderfully happy memories, and it is also just incredible cute!

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I am not, absolutely not, one for cuddly toys. However….I guess I make an exception for the teddy that Goldfinch hid inside my suitcase. Isn’t he a sweetie! I love all of my memories with Goldfinch.

He came into my life at a time I was still reeling from the challenges I had face. I was trying to start over in London, trying to just be me, to focus on the work I was doing. I was still finding it distressing that people who knew me saw me just could not making a remark to me about Jack. (They could have no idea how much that hurt.) Back at the end of 2017 (when I met Goldfinch) it was almost two and a half years since I had spoken to Jack, and of course it was also almost two and a half years since I was attacked. Meeting Goldfinch was a wonder for me…and he came along at a time I needed something wonderful in my life. Goldfinch proved to be that something, someone wonderful.

10100 miles distance is a very grievous challenge at times. Although normally, I do not want cuddly toys in my life, in my home…I absolutely make the exception for a ted that Goldfinch sent me home with.

So these are my sentimental possessions that can lift my spirits because they remind me of people so dear to my heart. They are a sweet part of my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT, and they do make me smile even on a cloudy day.

Time To Recreate And Time To Create

I have a few entities who I work for – some paid, some non-paid. All of them say I am entitled to annual leave or “holiday”. But sometimes, it is hard to coordinate my time off with each entity at the same time as another.

I addition, the “holiday-year” runs differently for each entity. For two of them, the holiday year runs from 1st January – 31st December, for two others, from 1st April – 31st March, for four others the year starts 1st September and ends 31st August and recently I started working for an employer who told me my holiday year started my first day, so my holiday year with them will start and end mid-November every year.

So…if want time away (say for something like a secret wedding and honeymoon) I have to ask all of these entities if I can use my annual leave allowance. It can sometimes be a right pain in the neck – let me tell you!!!

Somehow, I end up not using up some or most of my holiday time. At the end of December, I had over three weeks of unused holiday time for two organizations. I am mindful that as I approach March, I have weeks of unused annual leave for other organizations.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

The thing is…I really really really think I need some time off…and I think I need it soon. I am slightly shattered recently. I am managing. I am doing everything I do, but what I notice is that when I arrive home…I am too weary to be creative. I need time to relax and to enjoy some recreation.

I also want to be creative. My mind is bursting with creative ideas. Yet I am so wiped out, it is hard to actually execute my ideas.

I am not so sure taking a week off would make the difference, but I would love to have that time to do the things I have to let drop down the list of priorities. I would love some time to unwind mentally…and to be able to write and do other creative things, including wedding things.

Wouldn’t Want To Be Swept Away

Jim Adams aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: YACHT ROCK

Photo by Szelei Robert on Pexels.com

I am not sure I have ever really been aware of “yacht rock” being a genre. Did I ever tell you the story about our nightmare yacht outing with a live band who were both terrible and very loud?

Smooth Radio had a list of twenty popular yacht rock songs, most of which I did recognize, but one jumped out at me. I read an article described the band Chicago as “yacht rock kings”. This is one of their songs which I really do have a soft spot for. I think the lyrics are very emotive. The musical arrangement, is perhaps not so much my cup of tea…I don’t dislike it, but I don’t particularly enjoy it either – a little bit like marmalade or – I don’t dislike it, but neither do I want to put it in my shopping basket.

But I do really really like this song…this is Chicago’s “Hard To Say I’m Sorry”. I noticed that Bee has given us a free choice for today’s Love Is In Da Blog prompt – so I think this also fits as a great love song.

"Everybody needs a little time away"
I heard her say, from each other
Even lovers need a holiday
Far away, from each other

Hold me now
It's hard for me to say I'm sorry
I just want you to stay

After all that we've been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to
And after all that's been said and done
You're just the part of me I can't let go

Couldn't stand to be kept away
Just for the day, from your body
Wouldn't want to be swept away
Far away, from the one that I love

Hold me now
It's hard for me to say I'm sorry
I just want you to know
Hold me now
I really want to tell you I'm sorry
I could never let you go

After all that we've been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to
And after all that's been said and done
You're just the part of me I can't let go
After all that we've been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to
You're going to be the lucky one

Written by: David Foster and Peter Cetera

Trembling With Love

When I saw the prompts for Day Three and Four of Bee’s Love Is In Da Blog, two songs came to mind instantly, and both made me feel a little trembly for different reasons.

We have so many friends who have been living joyfully in Ukraine for years. Many of them wisely left Ukraine at the end of 2021 when they say armies camped on their borders. But for those who stayed, we were horrified about the potential dangers and the anxiety they were likely to be experiencing.

Many of our friends in Poland and Romania worked tirelessly last February and March as thousands of Ukrainians fled the violence. I was so proud to see one of the charities we work caught unwittingly on camera by the BBC. I was watching a news-reporter describing he scale of the challenge to help those who had crossed borders…and there in the background were some friends of ours around a huge familiar sign, and there were about fifty people hugging and passing over blankets and food and water being shared.

Even right here in London in my role for the NHS, I have met many people who have come to London during the past year and have wanted to give them extra time, extra attention, extra consideration. The scale of upheaval…is has been horrible to see the events of the past year unfold.

I picked a song that is not specifically mentioning violence….but it does grasp the desire for people to work together, to help each other. I find it very moving…and of course…you may recognize that I am featuring Birdy’s version of this track (yes, I really like Birdy’s sound).

A LOVE SONG FOR UKRAINE AND ALL OTHER COUNTRIES TROUBLED BY VIOLENCE

For Day Four, Bee asked us to share something personal to our own relationships. There are a handful of love-songs that are special to Jack and myself. But I picked one that makes me trembly.

During the height of our challenges…there were a handful of hugely emotional letters exchanged between Jack and I. Have you ever had that feeling of shaking with the overwhelming feelings of love and the powerful effect they are having on you.

I just love what thus track from Olly Murs captures – it is intense at times – and it was so intense back then. It was tearing me up…and I know Jack has said he was paralysed by that stage of our life. The other day, I mentioned how it feels that Goldfinch is 10,100 miles away. Well…whenever I hear this song, I think of the situation between Jack and I when only two or three inches of plasterboard separated our bedrooms – and yet it was as if a vast chasm, impossible to cross, kept us apart.

A LOVE SONG SPECIFIC TO YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE

Storm Brewing

I am a great sleeper, but every now and then, I have an unsettled night. I is usually the first night of my time of the month.

Well, this week…oh my oh my…I had the weirdest night. I was dreaming…strange strange dreams. I had the coursework of some high school students and I seemed to end up ruining it – dropping it on the floor, it ended up wet, all the papers disintegrated.

Then…my mind jumped and I was in some strange court case trying to dissect the huge tangled mess that was Jack and me some years ago.

To say the least…it was exhausting.

Well…Jack told me that one of his closest relatives is not happy about some of our plans for the wedding of the century. You know what that happens…

There may be trouble ahead!!!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our Beloved Bee!!

The wonderful Bee, creator of The Bee Writes is hosting a musical celebration of love throughout February – and I am hoping to be able to find time to share some of my favourite love songs, inspired by Bee’s “Love Is In Da Blog” prompts.

Each day, Bee is sharing a love related prompt with us, and she is asking us to feature a song to fit the theme. Yesterday – 1st February, the theme was:

CHOOSE YOUR OWN

…which gives me the chance to think about the song that always makes me think of Goldfinch. How I wish I had the time to write about Goldfinch. I adore him as much as the night I met him. There is so much to say, there is so much in my heart.

I love the songs “Wings” by Birdy…for so many reasons – the dramatic musical arrangement and the lyrics that capture longing and a wild exuberant celebration of someone who has shared thrilling moments with you. Whenever I think of Goldfinch being 10100 miles away, I think of the lines…

I just wanna be by your side
If these wings could fly

I love the official video, but I have included a lyric video above and a live performance below. Oh my…I could listen to this song forever and a day! It is one of my go-to songs to make my heart take flight in the ecstasy of romantic love!!! How I love him…and I suspect I will until my last breath.

The prompt Bee has given us for 2nd February is..

A HIP-HOP OR RAP SONG FROM YOUR TEENAGE YEARS

I have picked a song…one I remember hearing a lot on the radio as a kiddo.

Comfort From Our Creator

I have been exploring the ingredients in my own Mental Health First Aid Kit in recent weeks. Over the past three weeks I looked at these three ingredients on my own kit:

The next item I am going to share is for me one of the most important. Now not everyone will choose to put comforting and upbuilding scriptures in their MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. It’s up to you what you put in your kit remember, it’s supposed to help you in a mental health emergency. If you don’t find the scriptures comforting, well, I imagine you would not think to add them to your mental health first aid kit. But for me personally, the scriptures have had an enormous impact on my decisions in life and have been a powerful impetus to me whenever I faced challenges.

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

Beliefs are personal, yet at the same time they have a knock-on effect to those around us. I have sometimes found certain beliefs unpalatable when it comes to attitudes towards the suffering of others. When I hear people voice notions such as “it’s karma repaying them” or “they must have done something to deserve this” or “this is divine punishment”…I am baffled. Whilst our decisions and habits have consequences, some of the tragedies we encounter have no link at all to any action of ours and are certainly not deliberately arranged by our Creator.

Perhaps just as harmful are comments directed towards someone who is enveloped in pain or grief such as “your faith is weak”. It’s like saying to someone who has been in a major traffic accident and whose bones are broken and shattered “you need to go for a run every morning to get the endorphins flowing and then you will feel better”. There are too many well-meaning advisors who end up trivialising a mental health breakdown by voicing a belief that shows up as inaccurate, unloving, and without a solid foundation.

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

I am so glad I was able to have some time to recover from my trauma, shielded from people who could say anything like that to me when I was in the midst of the painful challenges that wreaked havoc on my life. Throughout that time, I found more than ever it was important to listen directly to my Creator, and not to people who think they know Him, but actually unwittingly contribute to spreading slanderous lies about Him.

After I was assaulted and left for dead…, and then taken to hospital for urgent medical treatment, I was at the same time bombarded with questions from police and hospital staff. It was awful. Absolutely awful. At the time, I was alone (well apart from the professionals buzzing around me) and I did not know who I could call. I have already mentioned in a previous post that my closest friends and sister were not available when I had wanted to talk to them the day before. Now I had this extra horrific challenge, I felt so desperately alone.

Ambulance

But something rather strange happened to me. The mind is a funny old thing. Sometimes, we are plagued by unwanted thoughts. But when I was in one of the most intensely stressful situations of my life, feeling desperately alone, not knowing who I could turn to for support…my mind began to recall words that were penned three thousand years ago.

I could recall every word of Psalm 139 – every single word. It was as if a voice, not actually my voice, was reciting those beautiful words to me. I particularly remember the power that certain parts of Psalm 139 imparted.

Verses 15,16 reminded me that I was not alone, and there was somebody who knew me better than anybody else, than any other friend. He had known me since before my mumma knew I even existed. He had watched me developing hidden away, as just a few cells multiplying miraculously.

Verse 12 told me that even though this seemed like the darkest day of my life, and even though the stress over the past two years centered around Jack and the bullying, harassment, slander and trolling from all these thoughtless people had darkened my outlook and made me feel despair….well, to my Creator, the darkness that that had encaged me was not too much for Him. He could banish the darkness. He could see clearly, as clear as daylight, how to bring me through this trial.

I also remember receiving a card from a colleague who shared with me some very sweet thoughts of her own, and a scripture that she said had comforted her. In fact, I thought about that word “crushed” a lot. I had been crushed by the oppressive effect of slander and malicious gossip, cruelty and coldness from people I thought were my friends. My colleague shared a scripture in Psalm 34:18 which spoke to my heart. I knew that when I was in one of the worst situations imaginable – laying in a hospital bed after a brutal crime committed against me, I had felt my Creator was extraordinarily close. I felt as if I was wrapped up in His arms.

Since that astonishingly trying and traumatic period of my life, I have added more scriptures to my own personal MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. But I mentioned those above, because they were the ones that flooded into my mind when I was on my darkest day, and the ones that meant the most as I recovered.

If you find the scriptures comfort you, then collect some of the verses that touch you most deeply and add them to your Mental Health First Aid Kit. But interestingly, when you are actually in the midst of a challenge, you may be surprised at which words from your Creator come to mind. It’s as if His power in action, His Holy Spirit, has searched for the words your eyes may have read years ago and are hidden away in your mind, and then when needed, our Creator can bring those words back to the fore of your thoughts and help you to focus on His words, comfort penned thousands ago by men inspired by their Creator to record what we would need whilst facing momentous challenges in these trialsome times.

People, even well-meaning people who have a faith, can sometimes voice words that crush you…so you may find like I did, that for a while you just need to allow your Creator to gently comfort you as you heal and recover from trauma.

It’s Too Long!

I have been so busy these past few months that I have ended up very over-due a haircut. I love my hair being long, but ay ay ay!!! It is way way way too long right now.

Photo by Helena Ije on Pexels.com

I think what is annoying me most is what to do with my hair at work. I used to clip it up, but now the clip won’t stay in place. So I am having to tie it back with a hair band, which makes me look like a school girl.

There is only one answer – I need to book an appointment at a salon!! Somebody needs to tame these locks of mine.