I Couldn’t Have Been Happier

Happiness comes fairly easily to me I must admit. It is not a constant, because there are things that make me sad and painful, even traumatic memories. But it’s not hard to muster up happiness, and it is my default frame of mind. I have just been working on a post for one of these blogging award nominations, and one of the questions was about what makes me happy. I compiled a little list:

  • made up.jpgMy family
  • Lovely friends
  • A sense of purpose
  • Work that feels as if I am making a difference to someone’s life
  • A clean conscience
  • Great food
  • Hiking and swimming
  • Music
  • Starry skies, rainbows and stunning sunsets
  • Flowers, forests, lakes, rivers
  • Mountains, beaches and meadows
  • Animals or all sizes and shapes
  • and last on this list, but most certainly not least is Goldfinch – who made me happy every day I was in Australia

And I would like to state that when I was with Goldfinch I felt happy from head to toe. Goldfinch had to work of course while I was out there. Five days a week was work. But at the weekend he could take me to wonderful places. He has an office at home. I made sure I didn’t disturb him unnecessarily, as he had a lot to keep him busy.

my daily walk.pngI sometimes went out on my own, not just to see places (I did visit some lovely places) but also just to wander up to the local shops, which were about a forty-five minute walk away, and I would shop for ingredients and then walk back to Goldfinch’s home and start cooking or baking according to a recipe I had picked out from the BBC Food Website. I loved that little routine, I loved the walk. I loved the sense of purpose I had that I was going to make something, hopefully delicious, for Goldfinch to enjoy after he had been working all day.

happy clean.jpgI could not have been happier cleaning, sweeping, mopping, washing and ironing. I even rearranged the contents of some cupboards, cleaned out the tenant’s fridge (and the tenants bathroom), swept the patio and the leaves that had collected in little corners of the yard outside, washed all of the windows – inside and out (there are a lot of windows in his home, and after several days of trying to get the petrol lawn mower going, I went a bit crazy with trying to prime the motor and eventually got the thing started, which meant I could mow the grass front, side and back of the property.

DIY.jpgIn addition Goldfinch and I spent a weekend immersed in DIY – we put up a whole wall of IKEA kallaxes (if you unfamiliar with kallaxes, they are shelving units that you can arrange to fit the space you want and you can add drawers or cupbaord doors into individual squares or leave them open as you like), and we moved furniture from where it was in storage into his house, we insulated the garage door, we hung up lots of his pictures. I loved working along with him.

And this is the thing…I was so happy. Goldfinch may have been surprised at how I chose to spend my time while he was working. He kept on telling me how much he appreciated what I was doing along with lovely hugs and kisses. But I found the more I did around the house, the happier I felt. I was giving. I was working with a purpose. I was showing love in a practical way to the man I am in love with. I was so happy, so deeply happy.

take my handAnd whenever he took my hand, which he frequently did and being in his arms at night, wrapped up tightly, feeling his kisses on the back of my shoulder…I didn’t want it to ever end. And I am missing him like crazy! Missing thinking and planning and giving and loving every day with him as my priority. Saving my money so I can be back with him again and feel that happiness invade every part of my body.

I don’t think everyone will understand, I don’t think Goldfinch would really understand – but life with him made me deeply happy.

_______________

Writing Prompt #30

Drama And Romance From The Pride Of Yorkshire

When I was poorly sick just over a week ago, I was looking for something on television to distract me. I chose a film I have seen before. A dramatisation of Charlotte Bronte’ “Jane Eyre”. I read the book as a teenager, and I did think it quite wonderful. although I am not the biggest fan of any of the Bronte sisters in all honesty. So dramatic! I do prefer a more light-hearted cheerier romance in all honesty! I can just about cope with the dramatic, but some of the Bronte’s writings are more on the traumatic side!

janey.jpg

But nonetheless, I did love Jane and wanted her to be happy. It seemed clear that it was only her devotion for Mr Rochester that could finally be expressed with a clear conscience that could make her really happy.

But I was struck by one particular scene in the 2011 dramatisation I watched. I have seen it acted out by others, but I really really was moved by this proposal scene.

I am such a softie! I love a romance. I totally understood the distraught conscience that plagued Jane. I absolutely understood that she could not force herself to love someone else, even though he was everything deemed proper. “Enough of love” indeed!

One of the ways I show love is acts of service (oooh that post is still in my drafts folder) and I can easily relate to the thought of loving a man who I could be useful to and express my devotion too. What I do like about Jane Eyre – is the portrayal of a love story in circumstances that are far from perfect. Had Jane and Mr Rochester crossed paths years earlier they may not have suited each other at all. But now after life has inflicted all sorts of blows and to some extent blessings – they find exactly what they need in each other.

I do love a happy-ish ending.

Blossoming

Aaaaah – anticipation is building indeed! SPRING is ahead. I am very excited.

How have I survived winter? How have I survived almost three months without Goldfinch? It’s been the longest winter without him.

I know it will be a whole lot easier now that spring and summer are around the corner at long last! Yay! Spring – bring it on!

Summer I have missed you – I have missed you almost as enough as I have missed gorgeous Goldfinch!

I am sure Goldfinch is blossoming. I am sure he is thriving and loving every moment of his time back in Australia. I do try not to take too much of his time with my penpal epistles to him. But I love him like I love the spring and the summer. I have been secretly (or not so secretly) longing for him just as I have longed all winter for the warmth of the sunshine.

I am needing something to look forward to…spring and summer will be wonderful. But, now, more than ever, I need Goldfinch to hold me. To hold me really tight and make it all alright.

But there are very good things ahead. A lot of healing will take place during spring and summer.

Here I Stand With My Everlasting Love

Marriage, Wedding, Bride, White, Dress

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen a theme that gave Jack the idea to discuss songs for our first dance together after we wed. Thanks Jim!!!

I have been subtly trying to persuade Jack that we can wed on zoom and skip the whole expensive reception side of things. But my beloved wants a big party! He will have to wait though – we are in a pandemic! What a time to be planning a wedding!

One thing we did agree on though is my song choice for today. If you haven’t already noticed, Jim’s SONG LYRIC SUNDAY theme for today is: ENDLESS/ETERNITY/EVERLASTING/FOREVER/INFINITY/OMEGA

It seemed obvious to me to pick “Everlasting Love“. Whenever I choose a song like this, I have to take my pick from all the different artists who have covered it. I try to think back to my first exposure to the song – which version do I remember from my younger days? Well, I immediately identified this cover from Love Affair.

I love this track, it is an unashamed celebration of love. I have always love it for it’s exuberant tone. When love gives you that feeling that you want to party – oh I just love it!

Hearts gone astray, deep in hurt when they go
I went away, just when you, you need me so
You won’t regret, I come back beggin’ you
Won’t you forget, welcome love we once knew

Open up your eyes then you realize
Here I stand with my everlasting love
Need you by my side, girl to be my bride
You’ll never be denied, everlasting love

From the very start, open up your heart
Feel that you’re part of everlasting love

Need a love to last forever
Need a love to last forever

Where life really flows, no one really knows
Till someone’s there to show the way to lasting love
Like the sun it shines, endlessly it shines
You always will be mine, if eternal love

Whenever love went wrong, ours would still be strong
We’d have our very own everlasting love

Need a love to last forever
Need a love to last forever

Open up your eyes then you realize
Here I stand with my everlasting love
Need you by my side, girl to be my bride
You’ll never be denied, everlasting love

From the very start, open up your heart
Be a lasting part of everlasting love
Whenever love went wrong, ours would still be strong
We’ll have our very own everlasting love

Written by: Buzz Cason, Mac Gayden

Zingers Make You Feel Awful Afterwards

Last night I came home much earlier than I was expecting because there was an electrical outage at the venue I was going to be spending the evening.  The group I was with realized we were going to have to break off into smaller parties and enjoy the rest of the evening elsewhere.  Although I was torn because I had been looking forward to a night out with great friends, I…opted for home.  I was only ten minutes away from home and I dreaded the thought of heading off in the other direction and having to join the search for a restaurant or bar that was able to accommodate us without reservations.

Coming home early was the right decision.  I had a bath and pampered myself., with products from  the gift basket I was recently left by a good friend whom was a guest for a couple of nights in my sweet little abode.  I put on my pyjamas (my pyjamas are completely the opposite to diaphanous) and my snuggly socks and I rang one of my sisters and then two of my friends. After all that, I realized I still had time to catch up with reading posts from bloggers I love.

One of my favourite blogs is Everyday Strange created by L. Stevens.  Her Muse Of The Day two days ago (yes I am way way behind with my reading) in this post caught my eye:

https://everydaystrangeblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/muse-of-the-day-13/comment-page-1/#comment-3549

Those words right at the end there…

“…remorse inevitably follows.”

…I have a story (another confession) which I am going to start and leave in my drafts folder to develop at a later date, of a time I delivered a zinger…and felt huge remorse afterwards.  It was one evening when Jack had pushed my buttons.  He seemed to think he could humiliate me in front of friends and others at social events.  My feelings had been brewing, and then in response to a rather sly remark, I delivered a zinger, a perfect blend of poetry and meanness!

Jack was shocked.  My friends were shocked.  I was shocked!  I did not know I had it in me to formulate a zinger and deliver it with such timing and precision that the whole room went quiet and Jack looked hurt to the core.

“….remorse inevitably followed!”

Oh Jack, how I wish I could take back my zinger!  You are the last man on the planet I would ever want to hurt or humiliate!

Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly illustrate the subject of zingers so well:

FOWC with Fandango — Guest

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/20/your-daily-word-prompt-diaphanous-september-20th-2018/

 

Dream Dress… And The Moral Of The Story Is…

Screenshot_2018-04-13-19-48-11I heard a story a while ago about motives.  Forgive me for not remembering the exact words but I think you will agree it is an effective thought provoking tale.

It is about a man who loves his wife.  He knows she is a wonderful woman and is proud of her.  He does not doubt her loyalty to him.  He sees how beautifully she keeps the home and how much effort she puts in to keeping the whole family looking smart and remaining healthy.  He truly loves his wife.

He takes his wife out one day and as they  are walking along, she suddenly becomes distracted by something.  He turns around to see his wife is staring into a shop window with her nose pressed up against the glass.  Inside the window is a dress, a very beautiful dress that has caught her attention.  He remarkswindow shopping to his wife that it is a pretty dress.  She says “It is gorgeous!”  He asks his wife how much it costs, to which she responds, “Oh don’t worry, I am only looking,, it is too expensive really.  I just thought it was beautiful.”

After the day together, the man thinks about how his wife was gazing at the dress she thought was so beautiful.  He thinks about how much he loves his wife and how good she is to him and the family.  He decides he will buy her that dress she liked as a gift.  A surprise.  She will not be expecting it, their anniversary is three months away.  It will be a way just to show how much he loves and appreciates her.

So he goes back to the shop the next day and takes a closer look at the dress.  He discovers the price and is a little horrified at first and is inclined to think about looking for a dress that is much less expensive, but then he remembers he wants to show his giftwife how much he loves her.  He has even gone to the trouble of looking at the size of her  other dresses in her closet to make sure he will pick the correct size.  He buys the dress and he asks the store assistant to wrap it carefully in gift-paper and include a large bow.

He takes the gift home and sneaks it into the bedroom for his wife to find later.  That evening he is with her when she finds the box with her surprise inside.

She unfastens the bow and removes the lid from the box.  She takes the protective crepe paper that is around the dress.  She cannot believe her eyes.  It is that dress, the beautiful dress she saw in the window.  She is so thrilled. She embraces her husband.  He smiles like a cheshire cat as he observes her reaction. She tries the dress on.  Will it fit?  It fits!  It fits perfectly.  She twirls around and looks at the dress in the mirror.

Who is the best husband in the world???!!!

best husband

She is so ecstatic.  She embraces her husband again and thanks him with tears in her eyes.  She looks up at him and thanks him and asks him why he has given her such a beautiful gift now out of the blue?

Then… he opens his mouth and ruins everything:

“Well….you have been looking kind of tired and miserable lately.  And I know you have put weight on because you have been comfort eating.  You have been rather irritable with me and the kids.”

Ugh!

The dress comes off.  The dress is back in the box.  “Take it back!  Take it back!  I don’t want it.  You think I’m fat and miserable and I look tired.  You think I am irritable!  Take it back!”

____________________

 

Well, you may feel for the husband a little here.  But doesn’t this little story show that it’s not just the gift but the motive that counts.  It is very likely that when we give we do deep down have genuine motives.  But how does our gift come across?

The gift might not be a dress, it might be our time, our words, our listening ear, cooking a meal for someone or any kind of token.  But is there a question mark over why we are giving?  Is it begrudgingly given?  Do we feel it is a compulsory must to give something, but give little thought to the gift?  Or do we say or do something which spoils the gift and takes all the joy out of it?

Ever since I heard that story…I have tried to think things through a bit more when it comes to any giving…I don’t want to be in a rut of doing things by rote without putting my heart in to them.  I want the gift I give to send a message that is harmony with the rest of my thoughts towards the recipient.

Someone super wise was reported to say “There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving”.  That is a super lovely truth that I don’t ever want to lose sight of.

love heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catrina And Catbells

I would like to introduce you to a very special lady, quite inspirational in truth.  Her story is now one of the most memorable periods of my life and as I look back I know I had a very special privilege that will stay with me forever.

catbells

She was so special, that I have been almost afraid to tell you about her, in case I cannot find the words to do her justice!  Let me try to portray her in the light of those who had the privilege to know her.

As a young woman, Catrina had left school and gone on to study and then attained a full-time job with a generous salary within a local business.  She had achieved all of this and yet she felt her life was in vain.  She did not feel that her career was rewarding.  She knew of others who had been involved in voluntary projects and saw the fulfilment and satisfaction that they manifested.

So Catrina gave up her job and began to get involved with voluntary projects.  She met her husband Darren and together they became immersed in volunteer activity.  They received extensive training and then moved to Africa, where they have lived and worked in several countries.

africa

They lived a life of giving…and were joyful for it.  They touched many people.  Many new babies born in the areas they worked in were named Darren and Catrina.

I have visited one African country, Ghana. But I have family and friends who have lived in various African lands.  Those who have lived there do say that their way of life is quite different in many respects.  They have had to get used to a different climate, different food, a different language in some cases, to frequent visits from local wildlife, numerous bouts of malaria and other unpleasant illnesses, power-cuts, difficulty in obtaining needed equipment.  They love Africa and say it is in their bones now, but, they have found themselves facing challenges which they never imagined.

There were occasions that were overwhelmingly challenging.  The roads in places are almost impassable especially after weather damage.  One of the hardships they experienced was when a team of workmates, who were travelling by bus, were involved in an incident.  Fifteen of their friends were killed.  Darren had to go and identify the bodies and make arrangements for informing their families.

For years they would come over to England for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends and were emanating joy and purpose in life.  I met them when I was seventeen.  They made a profound impression on me.  I wanted to have a smile like that!  For the next fifteen years, I eagerly read every letter and e-mail that was circulated detailing the adventures of Darren and Catrina and accounts of the inspirational people they met out in Africa.

I have mentioned before that I worked as a full-time volunteer in an infirmary caring for patients who were terminally ill or had dementia or were now dependant on nursing care.  However, we also had occasional temporary patients who were volunteers working overseas who had come back to England for some surgery or specialist medical treatment.  I noticed Catrina’s name on the list of scheduled visitors.

At first, I was just very excited at the thought of seeing her again.  I could never have imagined what was ahead for Catrina.  She was coming to England for some tests.  She had still been working full-time as a volunteer the week before their flight to London.  But for about a year she had noticed something was not quite right.  I could fill pages detailing the drama that unfolded over the next few days.

St BartsI am going to fast-forward to the afternoon I was with Darren and Catrina in hospital and they had just been told the news that essentially nothing could be done.  Catrina had cancer pretty much everywhere you can imagine.  That is the only time I saw Catrina cry.  I am going to step outside of the room and retain her privacy.

For the next six weeks Catrina was a resident of our own infirmary.  A room was adapted for her needs and she had the best possible care from our team of volunteer nurses and care assistants.  I told the girls before they even met her,  “This one is really special.  You are all going to fall in love with her very quickly and it is going to be very hard to see her go”.  How right I was!

Catrina was full of life right up to the end.  She was full of joy and full of giving.  The girls who cared for her were completely bowled over by Catrina’s ways.  As soon as the carers walked into her room, Catrina would turn around any enquiries as to how she was that morning into an opportunity to get to know everything about the carer.  She would find ways to get to their inner heart very quickly.  Everybody has memories of the personal advice and encouragement Catrina gave them during her last few weeks.  She busied herself with writing letters and e-mails to people she knew and loved, many of whom were back in Africa.  It think it must have grieved her to think she would not be able to go back to her home in Africa one last time.  She would not dwell on it.  She was going to use every precious moment to keep giving.  Her beautiful words to others will I am sure be treasured for many years to come.

She was one incredibly popular lady.  Many phone-calls came through switchboard for Catrina.  She had scores of gifts posted and a constant queue of visitors, some of whom traveled for hours to be able too see her.  As Catrina started to weaken and tire out more easily we had to limit the numbers of visitors so she could rest and be on her own with her husband Darren.

There was a large team of girls involved in the shifts in the infirmary.  Due to the support we had, I was still able to go away with my family on a trip we had arranged to the Lake District.  We stayed in Penrith and one day walked across a large range during which thick cloud descended and made us become quite lost.  It ended up being a rather long walk and we were all rather achy that evening.  So the next day we wanted an easier walk and I suggested a trip to Keswick and Derwentwater.  The first fell I ever walked up was Catbells  I have always been extremely fond of it.  It is a lovely friendly introduction to the Lake District and fell-walking for those who are not used to it.

I have been over that fell many times.  I like that you ascend rather quickly and are rewarded with stunning views over the lake below.

 view from catbells

When I returned to London, Catrina wanted to hear all about my family and my weekend away in the Lake District.  She asked me many questions about Keswick and about Catbells.  She seemed to be fascinated by it.  She made me go over and over the route to get to the base of Catbells and how the path climbs quickly.  I told her of the little island I always look out for where we have had adventures on holidays as a child.  She seemed deeply curious about Catbells and Keswick.

A week later I was caring for Catrina.  Darren had been invited to go for dinner with some friends.  Catrina wanted him to accept the invitation because she was sure they would be good for him.  He was glad I was there and Catrina kept reassuring him that she was very pleased to have my company.  Catrina asked me to put some music on selecting specific songs from her laptop.  She also asked me to shave her legs.  She told me they were really getting on her nerves.   I remember the first song on her playlist.  She told me Africa was in her bones and she considered it her true home.  True enough, she was sad at the thought of all those she loved so dearly and the shock news they had received of how ill she was.

Whenever I hear the soundtrack to Out Of Africa I remember Catrina.  Another song that was on her playlist….

….well, I cannot listen to that song at all anymore without ending up sobbing on account of Catrina.

The next day was the first time I saw Catrina was struggling.  I had helped her wash and dress.  She was expecting some important visitors who had lived out in the same area of Africa years before.  They had helped to arrange for Catrina to be cared for within the infirmary.  Catrina always used to apply her own cosmetics or make-up.  She had not had any difficulties until that day.  I left her room for a moment to put the towels we had used away and make something for her to drink.  When I came back poor Catrina had completely missed her eye-lids with her eyeliner.  She had drawn thick brown lines a centimeter or so below her eyes.  She seemed a bit confused.  I helped her to adjust her make-up before her guests arrived.  When they asked how she was, she told them that she was starting to find it really hard to concentrate which was frustrating because she had so many letters to write.

The next day Catrina took her last breaths.

After the Doctor issued a death certificate, I helped to prepare her body before the undertakers took her away.  Catrina had told us what to dress her in.  We tried to comfort Darren who was distraught.  To see Catrina who had been so full of life and joy and unselfish giving lying there completely lifeless was very odd.

Hundreds attended Catrina’s funeral.  Many others who were unable to travel linked in from other countries using an internet service.  Hundreds in their home town in Africa gathered to watch a broadcast of the funeral service.

After the funeral, Darren spoke to me and my best friend Marta.  He had a letter from Catrina.  Inside there was a photograph of the two of them from years ago.  It was a photograph they had taken during their honeymoon.  Darren asked me if I knew where the location was.  As soon as my eyes settled on the photograph I was startled with surprise.  Why, it was Catbells!!  The two of them were together on the top of Catbells looking down over Derwentwater.  I knew that view immediately.  Sure enough their honeymoon had been up in the Lake District and they had walked up one and only one fell, Catbells.

In the letter were specific instructions from Catrina about what she wished Darren to do with her ashes.  She had written him one of the most beautiful love letters I have ever seen.  She thanked him for the life-time they had shared.  She had lived, she had really lived.  She could not imagine any other life than the adventure they had shared.  Her expressions of love for him were deeply moving and as you may well imagine, Darren, Marta and I were all sobbing as we poured over Catrina’s letter.

Darren carried out all of Catrina’s wishes.  He returned to Africa which is just what she had hoped.  He still lives the same life of joy and giving.  When he returns to London he makes sure he comes to see the little team of carers who he says are like his sisters.  We certainly did keep an eye on him for many months before he left England and we have kept in touch since.

Catrina is very much alive in our minds and hearts.  She was a trail-blazer.  A life full of life, full of joy and full of giving.  She wasted none of it.  She kept on loving and kept on giving right to the end.  She is remarkably memorable for every good reason.  And whenever I have been to Catbells or even see a photograph… I see Catrina.  I see Catrina smiling and laughing.  There she is in our hearts, inspiring those who had the privilege of knowing her.  Her ashes…floated off in a breeze over Catbells… her honeymoon memory of the man she had shared her life with.

That is just a few pages of the story of Catrina…whose life could fill many thousands of pages.  That is just a short shapter on Catrina and Catbells.

 

Sleep tight Catrina…xx  You are unforgettable and inspirational.

https://en.support.wordpress.com/comments/pingbacks/

via WORD PROMPT: INTRODUCE

There Was Something In The Air That Night!

Valentine, Love, Romance, Silhouette, Couple

There was something in the air that night

The silence amplified every sound

He touched my hand, a spark shot through me

He drew me close, then span me around

Two smitten hearts were struck with lighting

That look of passion deep in his eyes

Declaring he was yearning for me

Breathless as my pulse began to rise

In his strong arms I felt so alive

He led me on quite a merry dance

Had me magnetised right to his side

Electric charging a sweet romance

lightining clouds

Image by O12 from Pixabay

This was in response to THE ELEMENTAL CHALLENGE hosted by Teresa aka The Haunted Wordsmith:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/elemental-writing-challenge-april-5/

Not Dropping My Guard

Something happened on my way out of work last week. One of my colleagues noticed my engagement ring and asked me about it. I panicked. I did confirm that since the end of October I have been engaged to be married to Jack. But I started waffling about the drama we have faced in the past and my reasons for being discreet about our plans for the future.

Girl, Woman, Young, Beautiful, Makeup, Hair, Person

I guess I panicked because over the past eighteen months, I have felt scared to lose this wonderfulness. I have genuinely felt afraid that something awful could tear Jack and me apart again. I know a lot of it is psychological – but there are a range of safety guards and defence systems I have put up to keep my relationship with Jack intact.

Some of that includes just not talking too much about our life, and not allowing people who don’t know him know who he is. I know that some people do the most crazy things when excited by the thought of being within reach of a celebrity. I am hostile to anyone potentially ruining our happiness or jeopardising our security.

The colleague who saw my engagement ring is a very sweet and lovely person – I adore her. Yet, I panicked. I panicked because I have learn from the past seven/eight years of knowing Jack personally that other people are unpredictable. I cannot control their behaviour. In the past some people who I adored and thought were kind people and thought were my friends ended up contributing to the spread of false and harmful gossip about us.

I guess it is because I cannot control what other people do, that I fight to keep some control myself. It’s not nice, but hiding, being discreet and even secretive, and retaining strict control on how much information about my personal life I am willing to share – it makes me feel safer. I know it runs the risk of alienating lovely people. But I have a wonderful network of people who know Jack and me and I feel safe within. I am super careful of how much I share with anyone who does not already know us.

There may come a time when it no longer matters – like maybe when Jack and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary maybe? Until then – I think I am going to be guarding my precious relationship, one that was salvaged from a terrible shipwreck and then lovingly restored. Jack and I have something that many would have thought impossible. I am not going to risk that.