Saturday, September 17, 2016

Happiness is.....very long and p/h

I've come to believe that what we put into life is exactly what we get out of it. 

Traditional Chinese philosophy assumes that life is tough; it's hard but sprinkled amongst the hardships are trickles of happiness which we need to grab hold of and make the most of.

In the Western world we seem to assume the opposite: that we have a given right to happiness as much as having a right to the air we breath.

And I wonder, is this a healthy attitude to have? We seem to want more and more and expect more and more and then we crumble when bad things happen or we feel we haven't succeeded in having a life full of bliss and joy.

I've experienced this sense of failure myself with my diagnosis and prognosis. I went through crumbly bits: my big pants not only fell down but my naughty dogs ran away with the elastic in a game of tug which resulted in my big girl pants being down far too long!  Brrrrrrrr, draughty!

And even before the return of the cancer, I spent days being afraid.  Dreading test results, worrying about it coming back. What a waste of life hey?

Bizarrely, I'm not afraid any more.  After all what more can it do to me? But I look back and I know fear cost me valuable time.  Fear sucks.  Literally, it drains every little bit of colour in your life and turns light into dark.

But it's ok now.  I'm not afraid anymore. I won't see a lot of things that I thought I might: children getting married, grand children starting school etc, ...but if I dwell on this then  I take away the value of the things I have seen, that I have been part of. I've had an amazing life and it isn't over yet!

I guess I've just decided I won't be a victim any more. I will get bad results. I will get bad news but right now, at this exact moment in time, I'm ok.  I'm good.  I'm happy with my lot.  It may not be what I ultimately hoped for or expected but by taking this 'in the now' approach, I'm finding joy in the most amazing of things. 

For example, I had to give up my gardening and it broke my heart. Seeing an empty poly tunnel and watching how rapidly my ex-field reverted back into a field was soul crushing. Ten years of work gone in a single spring.  On a plus, I'm hoping to start exports of dock leaf eco-friendly loo roll soon!

I decided I had two choices...see the failure I perceived, or make something good come from it. So I chose the latter.  A box of wild flower seeds chucked all over resulted in this.

A little bit of my Norfolk childhood in a wild Irish garden!

The cancer will  ultimately destroy my body but I'm dammed if I will let it destroy my life.
I'm basically becoming a giant boob which is kind of funny really if you have the same warped sense of humour I have, but I will not let becoming a boob destroy my hope, my joy of life, the love I have for those around me.

So, that tells cancer!

Now for some more niceness. 

I think I've said before, I don't have a bucket list.  I've achieved everything I ever wanted to so don't feel the need to add things to my life to make if feel fulfilled. I do however have an attitude that if something comes up that I haven't done before or that reflects something I've loved or enjoyed, then I will go for it.  Don't get me wrong, these aren't things I feel I HAVE to do before my use by date comes up but they are things I want to do. If I never do them, it won't may any difference to me. I guess it is a bit like knowing the difference between want and need.  I might want to do these things but I sure as heck don't need to.

And this is no different to the attitude I had before cancer.  I leapt at every opportunity life threw at me and that is why I have had a life well lived.

So what have I been up to?  Well, bizarrely, I have a huge love of trains and trams.  I think it stems back from being from Norfolk but having to live in Manchester as a child.  To visit family in Norfolk in the 1970's and early 80s we had to catch a train...sometimes two.  And we loved those train rides.  I still love sitting on a train and just watching the world pass by.

Moving to Ireland I was introduced to the Luas trams in Dublin.  I could quite happily sit on one all day.  You see 'real' Dublin, get to meet 'real' Dubliners and they provide an amazing opportunity for people watching. 

I mentioned this on fb and a friend in Norfolk, Jo,  contacted the Dublin Luas company, who in turn contacted me and guess what???  They gave me a tram for the day! My own tram!  It was amazing.  My hubby and I got to have a tour of the Luas headquarters.  We had a tram with our name on the front.  Rather cheekily they also gave me two security guards, a lovely gentleman who conducted the tour and a driver of our own.

We were then treated to a trip through Dublin, from Red Cow to The Point.  Then we had lunch and were driven all the way back again.  OMword.  Def a high point in my life.  I know, it seems a bit sad and geeky to some of you but I don't care! Toooot toot!!!!

Ready for the off!

In the control room

In the maintenance shed

With my very own security guards

Can you see what I see?

Yup!  My own tram!

Be afraid!

My wonderful driver and guide.

Lunch at a hotel where they actually had live ivy growing up inside by the escalators

A full wall size painting of some Irish singer/band or the other ;-)

A sheep in the lobby, waiting for lunch

I have absolutely what these bears represent, but they were worth a photo op!

And back in the hotel room:happy but shattered!
It was an amazing day.

The new Holmsey book is coming along beautifully.  Paula Hickman of Bear Tails Illustrations
has finished several of the illustrations and has shared one with Holmsey's friends.

It's stunning isn't it?  I love it. Holmsey looks amazing.  The book 'Can I Be A Hare?' will be released soon!

It's been an education, this book writing stuff.  I know for sure that I will never, ever sell through Amazon and other alternative book selling companies.  The attitude they have towards writers and the money they skim off sales etc, are to my mind purely unethical.

I prefer to sell through Paula directly, at Bear Tails.  I'm so very lucky to have met her.  She has a real passion for the stories, the artwork and the professionalism to deal with sales etc.

I've bought several of her books and these have to be my favourites.

'Alphabet Autos' is really funny. I got it as a joke for my son and found both he and my husband were laughing over it.  If you have the slightest interest in classic cars then this is the book for you. I wish I'd had it when I was teaching my little boys to read! Paula's caught the essence of the classic cars used perfectly.

'Have you seen?' is my grandchild's favourite book.  It's very cleverly written and frankly if I have to read it again I may go mad!  She would happily have it read to her 100 times a day but when granny reads it to her (me) then she expects the animal noises as well...and boy, that can take some creativity!

Now, the next post you get from me should have some actual crafting: crochet and stitching hopefully!

Have a great weekend (and well done if you actually managed to reach this far lol)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hare Today!

Not a lot of crafting going on but I do have some yummy news!

Firstly, I've been designing!  Oh yay!!

First off is a free Halloween chart..yes, free. Offered on Witchity Poo's fb page and also offered here.  I can't put a pdf file here but if you email me on I'll send you the chart.  I really enjoyed designing Trick or was great fun!

And I was on a ball with a brand new Holmsey Hare project.  I wanted little ornaments but Holmsey wanted something a bit different!  He's so awkward!

So we came up with three panels which can be stitched alone or stitched together as one larger picture.  It features some new characters and friends of Holmsey, some of whom may or may not appear in the second children's book!

Release details will follow soon.  Unfortunately after having a concept stolen by another designer (who did exactly the same thing with yet another designer), I can't reveal too much too soon...but I'm really looking forwards to this one and stitching the model!

I've released two new designs for a charity called Rainbows for Peace and Comfort.  It's a charity page which  has ' formed to help bring comfort and peace to all those impacted by the Orlando tragedy. We are a group of Cross stitchers who will be making quilts and other items for all. Please join us by stitching, supporting us and watching the projects grow.'

One has been stitched by a lovely man called Timothy who helps run the group.

Ying and Yang on black fabric.  Beautifully stitched Timothy!

And the other design I donated is:

It's  a worthwhile charity with things being made for the families of those who were lost in the nightclub attack and for the first responders.

Now, a little more Holmsey Hare news!

Paula from Bear Tails Illustrations has been busy working on the illustrations for the new book 'Can I Be a Hare?'

I can't show you the full pictures but here's a sneaky peek at some of the illustrations and the materials used for them.

It's all a bit wonderful isn't it?  I love the colours and the little snippets that will become something wonderful!

Health wise; I had to miss a chemo this week as it seems I had an infection, probably caught from having to spend hours and hours in the A and E with my son.  It's all good though: just part and parcel of what cancer is.  I'm making the most of having a weekend where for once I feel normal!

I'm actually going to sit and stitch now!  And about time too!

Have a wonderful weekend xxxxxx

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Good News Post!!! Edited

Oh happy days!  I'm pleased, relieved, happy and filled with joy!  I've had my three month CT scan (yucky, yucky drink!!) and three month oncology appointment.

My cancer marker counts have dropped from 2300 + to 237!!!!

Life is feeling pretty wonderful at the moment because there's more good news!
My bones have hardened as they are now absorbing calcium, delaying the nasty side effects of metastasis in the bones! I can dance again!

Oh woe!  Doom, Doom!!!!  My liver was riddled!!!!  I read my first scan report as the dr left it up on the screen before I realised what it was.  I read fast.  Too fast sadly.  I'd read most of it before I realised what it was. Thank goodness it wasn't anyone else's records. I asked him to remove it so I didn't have to see it. There are some things we just don't need to know!  I'm not stupid.  I lectured in Biology and Human Health. I knew it was bad: so in short, it was indeed riddled!

But what is this??? More tidings of Joy??? 

YAY!!!!  There is more good news!!!
 A lot of the fissures (tumours) have gone completely and the rest have reduced by up to 50%!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And it doesn't stop there!!

I now have normal liver function, even with the chemo effects on the liver!!!
I am me again!!!!

And yes, I do, I do!!!!  I do believe in fairies!!!!!

And what is this?????
Surely not more good news???
Can life be that good?

Oh my, yes indeed! It really can! 

My second book has been accepted by Bear Tails Illustrations publishing company and Paula, their amazing illustrator has started work on it already!
It's longer and it was written while I was at Mount Falcon in the study area of our suite (omg best holiday ever!!!!!)
'Can I Be a Hare?' will be out soon.

Fergus is very pleased as he has a major role in this story!
He gets so giddy at the thought of fame that he's quite impossible at the moment and has been banned from coming inside! 
He doesn't seem to mind and even though his bounciness is wreaking havoc on my lawn, I don't have the heart to tell him off!

And the last good news is that I have a week off from chemo now. I've had four cycles (three weeks on, one week off) and two left to go before the next scans and to find out what comes next.
It's ok though. I'll put up with anything if it works.

I'm looking forwards to some writing, crochet and of course stitching and when I'm not busy relaxing, I'll be holding my soul mate's hand and we'll go for a wander down 100 acre wood to see what we can find, to hide from heffalumps and woozles and sit down for tea with Winnie the Pooh.  We have to bring our own hunny but it's ok.  We're happy to share what we have.  And when our tummies are full, we will go on an adventure to find Tinkerbell and  then we'll all lie down by flamingo lagoon and count shooting stars!

Happy crafting everyone!

I almost forgot. I did a radio interview for Athlone Community Radio Station where I talk about the book and my approach to cancer and raising awareness.  If you would like to hear it, and hear me make mistakes and be a bundle of nerves, you can find it here: HERE
It's good news because I get a copy for my granddaughter to listen to as it includes me reading Holmsey Finds Fergus

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