babylon5“It was the year of fire… the year of destruction… the year we took back what was ours. It was the year of rebirth… the year of great sadness… the year of pain… and the year of joy. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed. The year is 2261. The place: Babylon 5….”

As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of the sci-fi series Babylon 5, and this quote which is from the intro of season 4 that I’ve used above will have some relevance in this blog post….so please bear with me!

It is coming up to 3 years soon since Frankie was born sleeping, and I finally feel ready to resume writing this blog. There has been so much that I’ve wanted to say, so much I wanted to write, so much I wanted to express, but for some reason I just couldn’t do it.

Until now.

This weekend, with Frankie’s third birthday approaching, I finally felt ready to write again and I realised why I haven’t been able to do so properly until now. It is because:

“It was the year of healing, the year I found myself again after all the death and loss I’ve been through. It was the year of rebuilding, the year of regaining my confidence, the year of sadness, and the year of acceptance. It was a new beginning, it was the year of putting the past behind me, but never forgetting. It was the year everything changed. The year is 2016, the place….Worcester, UK”

Hopefully now you will understand the Babylon 5 reference!

I realise now that I needed this year to do one very specific thing – to heal. To regain my perspective on life. To slowly get back to where I was, one day at a time, and not being too hard on myself if I have a bad day. In 2014 I wrote this blog entry about a promise I made to Frankie, and I don’t feel l have made good on that promise yet. Further death and loss that happened to me since I wrote that blog entry, along with witnessing the horror that is dementia and the way my Aunty Marie succumbed to this dreadful disease last year took its toll on me and it was all I could do to get up in the mornings, let alone anything else.

But it is time I took life by the horns and carried out my promise to Frankie that I will survive, that I will go on, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. I know, I know – another film quote, this time from “Titanic”!

14962594_1787068738237243_670243708453739335_nI’ve had a few false starts this year on a few things. I thought it would be a great idea to try and run a digital festival next year, then I realised that I didn’t want the stress, hassle and politics that goes with it, so decided against it and left it in the hands of others who wanted to do it and help. Whether they do it or pull it off is no longer my problem or concern, and it feels good. I have tried a few times to get a new blog up and running, and I again had a few false starts with this. Everything I tried just didn’t feel “me” – from the name of the blog right down to the look and feel of it, I spent hours and hours on it and it just didn’t feel right, so I left it alone. Then out of the blue a few weeks ago inspiration struck and “Cyber Geek Girl” was born – It isn’t quite there yet, I have a handful of small tweaks to make to it, but then it will be ready for me to start writing and posting content on. My plan is to launch this properly on January 1st, but I will spend time between now and then writing content and populating it. I feel great about “Cyber Geek Girl”, it is a name that also reflects me and my huge interest in cyber security, technology and basically the fact I am an all-round “geek” – and proud of it.

I had so many plans when 2016 arrived, I was going to do so much, take on the world, and then….what I can only describe as a paralysis happened to me, which I wrote about in this blog entry. Everything I planned to do went by the wayside, and no sooner had the bells rung to welcome in 2016, more death and loss happened. This time though it was no-one close to me, it wasn’t anyone I even knew in real life, and then on January 10th I woke up to hear something that rocked me to my core.

David Bowie had died.

captureI just couldn’t believe it, it wasn’t possible. I grew up with Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke and all his various guises and I was shattered to hear that he had died. It hit me as acutely as any of the previous family deaths had, yet this was someone I had never even met in real life, so I felt ridiculous and wrong to be so upset over his passing.

The deaths didn’t stop there – one by one all my heroes pottered off this mortal coil. Sir Terry Wogan, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Prince, Carla Lane, Muhammed Ali, Caroline Aherne, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen….the list went on and on and became bigger and bigger as the year went on. Each and every one of them hit me hard, and I realised that it was because I had experienced so much death and loss previously. So although this year I haven’t lost a family member or a friend to death, to lose so many who I grew up with, who I loved and idolised made me realise just how mortal I really am, and that I should make the most of every precious second I have on this earth.

Although I haven’t experienced any further family deaths this year or lost any of my friends to death, I did experience a loss, and that loss was namely the loss of a close friend who lied to me about having breast cancer. Yes, you read that right. To this day I still cannot get my head around why she did it, and what possessed her to lie to me and to others by saying she had stage 3 breast cancer, I am totally flummoxed. I had my suspicions that she might be lying about it, but inside I kept thinking there was no way, that she would never make up something as fundamental as that, and I kept questioning myself and my judgement. As one woman to other, I thought there was no way she would lie about something like that, it just wasn’t possible.

It was possible though, and I found out at the end of July that she had lied about it, and that she never had breast cancer in the first place. She went somewhere else to live, and I haven’t been in touch with her since then except a couple of texts when it first happened. I have no idea where she is now, and quite frankly, I don’t want to know.

Still, the whole experience taught me who my real friends are, and that NOTHING matters more than my close family who are still with me. Every day is precious and I realised that I should not waste time on people who don’t appreciate me or on things that don’t fulfil me. That’s why I decided not to do a digital festival – I’ve been there done that with other festivals and it is a ton of work for little or no reward, you can never please everyone and I will be damned if I let myself get walked all over and treated the way I was treated previously by people who I brought on board to help me and who ended up betraying me in the worst way possible. I was asked to join the Committee of another event where I live to help with it in 2017 – my answer? A big fat resounding NO. I’m done with doing things for other people and helping those who just don’t appreciate it. I will do anything for anyone, but I’m not a doormat and I never will be.

So what have been the positives of 2016, the year of healing? My beautiful dog Poppy is my biggest positive. She has been my biggest source of therapy and healing, my confidante and my world. I just love her to bits and my whole world is centred around her, I honestly don’t know what I would do without her.

14079631_10157466071845106_2434843514444498247_nAnother positive is the group I help with on Facebook called “Sheba, Poppy, Kizzy & Friends”. I’ve made some lovely friends in this group, and seen some acts of great kindness which I’ve written about on here previously. No day is complete without talking to and interacting with the admin team on here, all of whom have had their own struggles and we help each other greatly. I want to give a BIG thank you to Mary, the Group Founder, who agreed to me being an admin on the group with her last year in January when she didn’t know me from Adam and I messaged her to ask out of the blue. The group has been my safe haven, my sanctuary and my support network, although the members probably don’t realise it, and I can’t thank Mary and all the other members of the admin team enough. It is through this group that my faith in humanity was restored when I saw the outpouring of support and generosity of strangers when Mary nearly lost Sheba to pyometra earlier this year.

Another positive – spending time with my parents and family. You just don’t know what is around the next corner and I love going to Costa with my Dad, taking photos and selfies (yep, my Dad does know how to do them) and putting the world to rights. All the death and loss I’ve been through has taught me that every day is precious and I should spend each day doing things that make me happy, that fulfil me and that are appreciated by others.

I’ve spent lots of time this year resting, rebuilding, watching rubbish TV, watching films and walking every day with Poppy, which has helped me loads. I couldn’t do without my daily walks with her, although my husband does the weekend long walk and I do the long walks in the week (although I always still take her for a couple of shorter walks at the weekends, so I walk with her every day). Those walks help me to focus for the day ahead, to bond with Poppy and helps me put things in perspective – walking is great medicine and great therapy, and I have a big reason to do it every day, whatever the weather. I also don’t have big lie ins and my routine has changed massively this year – the alarm goes off at 6.30am every morning so I can feed and walk Poppy and although I go up to bed around 9.30-10pm, I watch a bit of TV in bed before falling asleep.

I haven’t been out much this year so far, and I think I needed that as this year has also been a period of reflection for me. But rather than wait until January that’s going to change – I will start going to some networking events and out with my friends again, and try to rebuild the confidence I’ve lost with my driving (I don’t like driving in the dark and in bad weather). I’m considering ways of doing that and trying my best to overcome my fears and rebuild my confidence, a bit at a time.

20161115_201018So here we are, with Frankie’s third birthday coming up on November 29 and Christmas on the horizon after that. And instead of November 29 being a sad day, it will be a day of celebration instead.  Poppy will be 3 years old on that day, and I will be celebrating her birthday. I don’t know what her actual birthday is as she is a rescue dog, but I worked out that she would have been born in November 2013 as she was 15 months old when I had her, so this November she will be 3. It is only right and fitting that I designate November 29 as her birthday.

I will also be celebrating Frankie’s birthday that day, and not being sad that he’s not with me. He will have a card which I will write for him, I will place some flowers on his grave where he is at rest with his Great Aunty Maria. If there is such a thing as heaven up there, then I would like to think that she is taking my place as his Mum, and is planning a big party for him to celebrate his third birthday. She took my Dad, her brother, under her wing and was a second mother to him so I know she will do the same up there for Frankie, and bring him up as her own, while they all wait for me to get up there when my time is due. So although he is not with me here on earth, he is still going to be having a huge birthday party up in heaven with his Great Aunty Maria, his Grandad Allan, his cousins Tony and Brenda, his puppy Curley and all his other relatives who have passed on into the next world. It is only right that Frankie’s birthday should be celebrated along with Poppy’s, and that we shouldn’t be sad. I should celebrate it, because if it wasn’t for him I would never have experienced the gift of being pregnant, of feeling him moving around day after day inside me, and of giving birth. He gave me a lot.

A final note to this blog entry, which I know has become very long (sorry folks)! As many of you reading this knows, I haven’t celebrated Christmas since 2012, nor have I celebrated my birthday, because of all the death and loss that has happened. I have started to put that right this year and I celebrated my birthday with friends and family – it turned into a celebration weekend instead of just one day, which I enjoyed immensely.  This year I intend to celebrate Christmas too, and for the first time since 2012 I feel “Christmassy” and festive, which I didn’t feel this last 3 years, even though it is only November 20th. So I apologise in advance to all my Facebook friends, but I will be posting lots of Christmas songs, TV clips and things about Christmas and respectfully request that if you don’t want to see this, or if you don’t like Christmas, then please hide my posts, turn off notifications from me or even unfriend me – I honestly don’t mind.

I shall leave you all with a final quote, another one from a film, this time from the film “Rocky”:

I’ve got to keep going, and I’ve got to keep getting up every time I get knocked down.

That’s how winning is done.