51) Miracles do Happen!

My twin sister, Tina 2012

My twin sister, Tina 2012

Thursday April 23rd 2009 is a date I will never forget.  On the Wednesday evening Simon and I were supposed to be going away to Dorset  for a mini-break, but as Simon had a headache we decided to go down on Thursday morning instead.

We were up bright and early, just putting the last bits and pieces in the car when the phone rang.  It was my daughter Kristie, who lived with my twin sister Tina and her husband, Woody, and their family.  She told me that Tina was in hospital about to have an emergency operation.  She had suffered a brain haemorrhage late on Wednesday night and was due in theatre any minute to have life saving brain surgery.  I felt my legs go to jelly and I could hardly speak.  I had been speaking to Tina only the evening before and she had been totally fine.

I went straight to Tina’s house as her children all needed to be cared for and I wanted to be with Kristie too.  Tina and Woody had been unable to have children and had adopted seven learning disabled children over the course of several years.  They ranged in age from three to seventeen at the time.  It was an unreal morning, trying to hold myself together for the sake of the children, but desperately waiting for the phone call from Woody, who was at the hospital, to find if she had made it through the surgery.  Finally just after lunch Woody rang to say she was in intensive care but that the surgery had been successful.  I was over the moon.  I had been praying so hard and felt that my prayers had been answered.

Within a couple of days Tina was moved to the High Dependency Unit and was doing well.  She complained of the most dreadful headache but the staff told us that was quite normal due to her brain surgery.  After just a few more days Tina was moved to a general neurological ward and appeared to be making excellent progress.  She was able to walk and talk quite normally and  have a shower and walk around the ward. The expectation was that she would be home within the week!

Kristie and I were visiting her daily and on the Thursday, just a week after her operation,  we had all been sitting chatting about the programmes she would be watching that evening when the nurse brought her tea, which included a small bowl of ice cream.  Within minutes Tina’s speech was becoming confused and then I noticed that she was having problems eating her ice cream.  Her hand was making odd movements and she was unable to hold the spoon.  I alerted the staff on the ward and they explained that she might have some fluid on the brain and would carry out a lumbar puncture to release any fluid.  When I left the hospital that evening I was obviously concerned, but the staff had been very reassuring and it seemed that this was quite normal and that the lumbar puncture was routine.

The following morning I rang the hospital and they asked me to visit urgently.  They explained that Tina was once again in intensive care.  I was not at all prepared for what faced me that day.  The consultant explained that Tina had suffered a massive stroke due to having a vasospasm, a rare side effect of the brain surgery.  In layman’s terms, the blood vessels within her brain had gone into spasm and no blood had been able to reach the frontal lobes.  I was warned that they fully expected her to die.  I don’t know how I managed to physically stand by her bed, I was shaking and crying so much.  She was lying there covered with wires and tubes, buzzers kept going off and she was fitting, which was terrifying to watch.  The machines that were keeping her alive required almost constant attention by the special nurses who were with her.  I couldn’t believe that she had been doing so well and now they really thought she would die.  I prayed so much that day, I asked God why this happened and kept telling Tina over and over again how much I loved her and that she would come through this ok.   When I eventually left the hospital that evening I emailed every healer I could find on the internet asking if they could please send Tina healing.

I really didn’t think I’d be able to sleep that night, but nervous exhaustion thankfully sent me straight to sleep. I awoke in the morning dreading the news from the hospital.  I phoned and they said she was ‘stable’, but added that there had been no improvement.  I went to the hospital as soon as I could and was met by the ward sister who told me to expect the worse.  She explained that only the machines were keeping her alive, and even if she did survive the prognosis was that she would be severely disabled and unable to enjoy any quality of life as her brain was so badly damaged.  Yet again I sat with her, talking to her, stroking her hand gently.  I prayed that she would not leave me.  I had lost my Mum, my Dad and my brother all within the space of three and half months just a few years before, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing my twin sister too. I talked to her about our childhood, about the fun we used to have, about family memories, even about the battles we’d had.  I just felt that I could not give up.

I was sure one day that she had lightly squeezed my hand as I was about to leave, but the nurses assured me that she wouldn’t be able to do that.  They said that her brain was unable to distinguish my voice and that she most probably did not have the ability to understand anything I said to her.  I ignored their advise and just carried on chatting to her right up until the moment I had to leave in the evenings.  Days went by and there was no progress and it became more and more likely that she would just fade away.  I was totally heartbroken.  I had never lived through such a time.  Being an identical twin is impossible to really understand unless you are a twin yourself.  We had been together since before we were born.  We had shared virtually every part of our lives, most of our childhood and teenage experiences, and even though we had fought dreadfully at times, we were always there for each other and loved one another more than can be explained.  Now, days in to her stroke, I was trying to come to terms with the real possibility that this was the end.  That I would not have my twin sister anymore.

They decided to carry out a further operation to install a shunt, a drain in her brain, which would release the fluid from her brain into her stomach.  The operation was in itself risky, but without it she didn’t stand a chance, the fluid in her brain was building all the time.  Again there was the dreadful time of waiting to see if she had pulled through and thankfully she did.  We waited for a couple more days to see if there was any improvement, but still Tina just lay there motionless, on full life support, with every vein in her body seemingly linked to some needle to give her life saving fluids and drugs.  They even had to start using the veins in her feet as they were running out of veins in her arms, her hands and her shoulders.

I continually asked God why this was happening and what more could I do to help her and her family through this, but I was too upset to hear any answers.  Finally, in desperation, I called a medium that I found on the internet. I didn’t want to phone anyone who knew me, I really wanted someone who had no previous knowledge of who I was.   Immediately she began speaking to me, she described our Dad in the most wonderful detail,  and told me that he was talking about someone very close to me who had suffered a bleed on the brain.  She said this person was in a critical condition and was literally between worlds.  She then went on to describe our Mum, both  physically and her character, and said that she was with both of us.   Amazingly she also described our brother and said that he was looking over us and that he was giving me the strength to cope with it all.  She told me that Tina was aware of them with her.  I asked her why this was happening and she said that Tina had chosen to go through this before she was born.  She explained that it was an experience Tina’s soul had wanted and importantly it would show who would support her and who wouldn’t, who would be able to understand, and who would turn away due to the severity of the situation.  I did ask if Tina would survive and the medium told me that she couldn’t answer that, but said that Tina had a very strong spirit and that whatever happened was supposed to happen. I was stunned by such an accurate reading, but still had wished that I could have been told what would be the outcome.

The next day I went into the hospital again and as I walked in I said my usual ‘Hi Sis’ and took her hand.  I was sure her eyelids moved and then thought I felt her gently squeeze my hand again.  I didn’t mention it to the nurses, who I felt sure thought I was imagining it, but inside I felt a warm glow and a real sense of joy.  Something in me realised that she had turned the corner, that she would be ok.

For the first time in weeks I felt an inner calm, an inner strength,  I knew I could cope, as if I had been shown there was light at the end of the tunnel. I was full of optimism for her future.  Tina’s small movements became  almost like a secret code between her and I.  Many times that day her eyelids moved as I said something funny and her fingers softly brushed mine.  I gave her a kiss goodbye before I left and said I’d see her the next day.

The following day I was over the moon to see that Tina had her tracheostomy tube removed.  She could breathe on her own!  That was a  huge hurdle.  As usual I said ‘Hi Sis’ when I arrived and I  almost fell over when a few moments later she uttered, in a very hoarse voice,’ Hi’ – she was back!!! The nurses were laughing and clapping and the whole atmosphere in the unit was lifted.  She didn’t say anything again for a few days, but she still kept moving her eyelids and through her squeezing my hand I could feel her strength grow day by day.

After several more weeks Tina slowly made progress to the point where she was transferred to a neurological rehabilitation unit within the hospital.  She was paralysed on her right side, still doubly incontinent, unable to even turn herself, unable to swallow food, and only able to say a few words, but she could laugh, and we would share afternoons laughing at the times we had been through together.  I would sit with her and we would watch comedy shows and it would lift her spirits.  It really did seem that through joy and laughter she became better and better. Through everything that had happened to her she had managed somehow to  keep her sense of humour.

Over the two years Tina spent in two specialist rehabilitation hospitals, she showed incredible inner strength and courage, overcoming the most enormous obstacles. Learning to do even the most basic things from scratch which most of us take for granted.  She suffered dreadful setbacks, crippling pain in her paralysed arm and leg, frustration of a damaged brain that would not function as she wished, and the agony of a broken hip from falling over when trying to use a walking stick.  She had to be admitted to a normal hospital for a hip replacement operation and this caused even more problems as people didn’t understand her speech and her understanding of language, having had such a serious brain injury. Everytime they asked her if she required painkillers she said yes, even if she didn’t, and by the time she was returned to the rehab unit she was totally bombed by the amount of morphine in her body.  It took weeks for her to get back to some sense of normality. She suffered incredible loneliness and depression whilst trying to come to terms with the fact that most importantly,  she had lost her independence.

There were so many experiences that had me in tears over the time she was in hospital, but one of the most memorable occasions for me was when she was first able to stand, albeit with support, and we could have a hug. It was the best hug I’d ever had.  We were both in tears as for the first time in many months I held her in my arms and she could hug me back too.  Another wonderful memory was just before her first Christmas in hospital.   The nurses organised a Carol Service  and arranged for a local choir to come along and we all sat singing the carols.  Many of the patients sang too, including Tina, who still has a beautiful singing voice.  They gave her a microphone and she sang Once in Royal David’s City.  With tears streaming down my face it took me straight back to when we were both five and were angels in our school nativity play and we had sung that very song together back then.

I was amazed by the most wonderful work the teams at the rehabilitation units undertook to get Tina as far along the recovery route as possible.  Their patience and understanding was incredible.  I was overwhelmed by the gentleness and kindness of other relatives visiting their loved ones who were also going through the most traumatic times and yet there was a camaraderie between us all, all supporting one another and all living for the time when those dear to us would regain even a little of their lives.  The love within the rehab units was so strong. They were  places of both immense sadness and unbelievable joy, much laughter and sometimes, sadly, unbearable heartache.

I was stunned by the kindness from the wonderful worldwide community of healers, many of whom stayed in contact with me throughout her two years  in hospital.  The strangers, literally scattered across the globe who showed an interest and continued to send their healing thoughts to Tina. I will never be able to thank them enough.  I was so saddened by the lack of support from the friends and relatives that Tina had.  I would never have thought that those whom she had loved and considered close backed away and found themselves too busy to even phone to find out how she was.  I was appalled by the total lack of support from social services who I had assumed would be able to offer some kind of help to Woody and the children, but who in reality basically told me that as the children had been adopted and not fostered there was nothing they could do.   Just as the medium had said, it was an experience which  showed people’s true colours.

It was an eye-opener where friends and relatives were concerned, but it has made us both realise who really matters and who had only been there for the good times. The marriage vow, ‘for better, for worse’, often comes to my mind when I think of the people in Tina’s life who moved away from her and her family during this time, when they needed the love and support the most, and sadly received it the least. Some people even voiced that they felt it would have been better that she had just died. It is something I have tried to understand, but just can’t grasp.  Maybe the lessons are for all of them, maybe they too one day may require those they hold dear to have the patience and understanding to deal with such a trauma, who knows.  Some things are beyond my comprehension and maybe I will find the answers when I am once again back with my family in the spirit world.

Tina amazed all the consultants and specialists involved in her care. They said many times that her recovery was a miracle, that it should have been impossible for her to make the progress that she has. Although paralysed on her right side she is still improving.  She has learnt to walk again, to eat again, has regained her speech, kept most of her memories and importantly has made new friends through her involvement in stroke clubs that she regularly attends. She has become an avid reader, has learnt to master her i-phone and laptop, how to use Spotify to listen to her favourite music, and can play a mean game of scrabble! I feel blessed that I still have my sister  and that I have been able to share in such an enlightening experience.

I thank Mum, Dad and our brother Ray, for the continued love and support they have given us, without which I am sure I would have crumbled. I thank God for Tina’s ongoing recovery and for the strength I was given to cope with this.  Most of all I thank Tina for being my twin, she is an inspiration.

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50) Is Love Truly Enough?

I have recently been questioning one of my deepest held beliefs.  Not that I would ever doubt spirits existence, or that we are eternal souls,  no, I have no problems with that.  What I have been doubting is the almost universal belief that somehow,  love  conquers all. It seems to me that everywhere I look, either on Facebook or within spiritual internet sites, the over-riding message is that love is all you need, love will overcome anything, love is the key to happiness. I have been struggling with this the past few years.  Yes, I believe that if we all based our decisions on love, our actions on love and our thoughts on love, the world would be a better place, but unfortunately not everyone does!

Maybe it is true in the universal sense, and maybe it is also true in a soul sense, when you take many lives and average it all out, but I’m talking about this one particular physical life we are living right now.  In my experience, and that of some of my closest friends, no matter how much you love someone, they can still use you, betray you and abuse you. Recently a very dear friend of mine had been blatantly used and deeply hurt by someone she considered a life-long friend, a woman she had always tried to help and support in any way she could.  She can find no rhyme or reason for her friend’s behaviour and is extremely upset.  I feel powerless as all I can do is listen but I can’t take away her pain.  Finally, after many weeks of emotional hurt she came to the decision to end their friendship.  Whilst that may well help her to avoid any further mistreatment by her friend, she is left still reeling from recent events.  I wonder what lessons are being taught when someone who so obviously cares about another is mistreated by them.

My own personal experiences have been difficult to contend with at times.  I used to firmly believe that if you showed someone love and compassion that they would treat you well, but often through my life I have found the absolute opposite to be true.  I have puzzled over this many times and had thought that it must be a certain kind of lesson that needed learning.  I have even tried to feel grateful for the role that someone must have agreed to play to assist me in walking my spiritual path. 

Logically it makes sense to me that kindness should help people to overcome their difficulties. This is something I have pondered for such a long time and have asked my spiritual guides for some guidance on this but so far have not received any answers.

When you make the decision to help someone, in whichever way you feel they may benefit, whether it is just a gentle hug, a time to listen to them, or assistance in a more physical sense, why do they then turn around and be rude or malicious towards you?

It has happened in my life so many times that I can see a pattern of events.  What I am hoping is that one day I will have a ‘light-bulb’ moment and suddenly the reason behind this will fall into place.  My husband, Simon, tells me that he thinks I am too gentle, too soft and too forgiving.  I have so often wished I could toughen up as I think my life may be so much easier,  but the problem with that is that I wouldn’t be me anymore.

My brother  always used to laugh at my tolerance and lack of temper.  Considering the parents I had, who honestly  could have won the olympics if there had been an arguing event, you’d have thought I would have a quick temper, but this isn’t true at all. 

I still remember my Mum’s look of amazement when she saw me lose my temper for the very first time when I was fourteen.  We had been to visit Dad in hospital where he had just undergone life saving surgery and he was on full life support, so to say we were concerned and stressed was an understatement.  Mum was driving our large estate car, and I have to say she wasn’t the most confident of drivers at the best of times, but with the worry of Dad obviously on her mind, she had become distracted and taken a wrong turn.  We ended up in a very narrow dead-end street with cars parked each side.  At the very end there was little space to turn around.  It was only just after 9pm, so not what you would call very late.  Mum had to try to turn the car around which meant going backwards and forwards many many times.  She was, I admit, revving the engine a little whilst trying to navigate safely and gently between the cars, but the noise wasn’t that bad.  Well this chap came out of his house and started really shouting abuse at Mum.  Without a thought I jumped out of the car and walked right up to him and gave him such a ticking off.  I was livid that he had upset my Mum and certainly let him know it.  I told him where we’d been and what was happening to my Dad.  Much to my surprise the man became very apologetic and offered to help Mum with the reversing.  What a turn-around! 

I have always found it easier to fight other people’s battles rather than my own.  My brother used to say that I was like the worm that turned, and by that he meant you could push me so far and then that was that.  How right he was.  I have to admit that I can take an awful lot but finally there is the straw that breaks the camels back, and funnily enough it is often a very little straw!

I have had to break ties with people I have truly loved because they have behaved so badly towards me, and it comes to a point when you realise that all the love in the world cannot change their behaviour, and so very sadly and reluctantly, there really is no choice but to walk away.  Sometimes the hurt of staying in a relationship becomes so deep that your physical body cannot cope with the pain, and sometimes, and possibly even more importantly,  you have to learn to value and respect yourself, which I have found the toughest lesson to learn. 

I saw this too with my own Mum.  She tried so very hard to have a good relationship with her  Step-Mother and did everything she could to try to make it work.  When we were a young family we would all travel up to London to see my Nan. We would make this journey at least once a month. Mum and Dad would have to save hard to pay for the petrol and would always be  praying that the car wouldn’t break down because it was pretty old and extremely unreliable. At the time there were no such things as baby seats in cars and Mum would have to spend two hours sitting in the back of the car with my twin, Tina,  and I in her arms.  She laughed when she told us by the time they got there her arms couldn’t move!    As  Tina and I became older we both suffered from dreadful car sickness.  How Mum and Dad coped with this I just don’t know, it must have been a nightmare for them. I know that Mum would always keep a couple of spare outfits for us and on many occasions as soon as we arrived at Nan’s house we would have to nip upstairs and change into fresh clothes.  Thankfully our older brother Ray was not car sick, that would have been unbearable!

When  Tina and I were eleven we went to stay with Nan for the week before we started at senior school.  Mum and Dad took us up there and we spent a wonderful time with her.  We went to see shows in London and enjoyed meeting all of her friends and generally having fun.  When the week was up Mum and Dad came and collected us and strangely the mood in the car on the way home was decidedly frosty.  Sadly for us, that was the last time we ever saw our Nan.  A week or so after our holiday Mum made the decision to break all ties with her.  I was devastated.  I had adored Nan and couldn’t understand how Mum could be so cruel. 

As a young child, what I hadn’t known was that my Nan could actually drive and had a very nice car.  She would tell Mum of all the trips she took to see her various relatives all over the country and yet she had only ever made the journey to visit us once in the eighteen years since Mum had married. Nan was very comfortably off and would help all her  relatives, and yet she never once offered any help to Mum at all.  Mum told me years later that she had spent so much time broken-hearted at the way Nan treated her  that finally she couldn’t take the hurt anymore.  I know now it was not an easy decision for Mum to make and I know that she remained extremely upset about it for the rest of her life.  She had lost her Dad when she was in her early twenties, and having been told that her natural Mother had abandoned her as a baby, she had  desperately wanted to have a loving relationship with Nan.

It took me a very long time to realise that what I and others had perceived as weakness, was in fact an enormous act of strength on my Mum’s part. I can’t imagine the courage she must have mustered to be able to walk away under those circumstances, but she did, and I am sure that in the following years she certainly didn’t miss the heartache that she had endured for so much of her life. One day, when I am once again in spirit and I have my life review, I feel certain that all will become clear …… but in the meantime I must admit I really find this all so very hard to understand.

38) Pros and Cons

This is an approximation of the zig-zag visual...

Yesterday I was supposed to be going out for afternoon tea with two good friends, Kay and Annette.  We had planned to go to a large garden centre where we could have sat outside enjoying the afternoon sunshine.  It was a special outing as Kay had been housebound for several months since last August and Annette has recently recovered since going through, what can only be termed as, an onslaught of medical problems.  She really had been through the mill and we were all so pleased to be able to finally arrange a get together. I had been so looking forward to the three of us having chats and generally enjoying one another’s company. Unfortunately though my own health issues decided to play up and so I had no option but to cancel.

It all started last weekend when I had the strangest experience which I must admit at the time, I’d wondered if it could spiritually based.  I suddenly lost some of my vision and then saw the most wonderful iridescent colours, sparkles and light beams.  It was seriously like something out of a science fiction movie.  Diamond shaped lights zooming around the room and lines of the brightest golds pinks and blues.  It was a little like an indoor firework display but without the noise. It lasted about fifteen or twenty minutes and then just stopped.  I thought it was rather odd, but had no other symptoms or pain and as I had been talking about spiritual matters at the time I did wonder if it was just one of those peculiar things that has happened to me from time to time.  I had previously, many years ago, taken myself off to the opticians when I had experienced some very unusual colours and odd visuals but had that time been assured that my eyes were fine. I am sure now that spirit were involved on other occasions, but on Sunday it was totally different to anything I’d had before.

On Monday I had to see my doctor about an unrelated matter.  At the end of the consultation I mentioned the light show I had seen.  I fully expected her to be dismissive and tell me it was nothing to worry about, but instead, with almost a look of panic, she told me I should go straight to eye casualty.  She said that I may have a detached retina.  Goodness, I was more than a little shocked.  My main concern was how on earth do they stick a detached retina back on! Is there some kind of eye super glue?

Thankfully when Simon took me to the hospital we quickly saw an eye specialist and he asked me my medical history (poor man!) and decided that it was more than likely that I’d had an ocular migraine.  He said that I should go back and have a full examination the next day, but not to worry.  When I came home I looked up the diagnosis and it certainly seemed to fit. The following day another doctor put what I would call ‘stinging liquid’ in my eyes to fully dilate them so that he could take a more in-depth look at the back of my eyes. He confirmed that everything looked fine and that he too felt I’d had an ocular migraine.  I was told I shouldn’t drive and I was lucky that Kay drove me because when I came out my vision was all fuzzy and I couldn’t even see the curbs, let alone a cyclist I almost walked into!

My body never seems to want to behave ‘normally’.  I have had what I call typical migraines since my late teens and over the years have been able to manage them quite well with some powerful medication and learning what works best, which for me is absolute silence, absolute darkness, absolute stillness and cold damp towels on my forehead and back of my neck.  In more recent years I have been diagnosed with vestibular migraines which cause the most dreadful dizziness and vertigo but no pain and I have to take daily medication to try to avert them. Now I have the ocular version! A free light show and no pain.  I know which one I’d choose if I had a choice!

So, I thought everything was fine. I came home from the hospital with my eyes looking like I was some kind of junkie.  Simon just kept staring at me with my massive pupils, which I couldn’t see because my vision was still all blurred.  I wish he’d taken a photo of me now because he said I looked so weird!

Typically though my body decided to react.  Anything unusual and it plays up.  I’ve done all the positive health affirmations for years. I have spent hours of my life saying out loud ‘I am well’, ‘I am healthy’, and various versions.  I still do.  I say it as if it were right now, not in the future.  I should have a diploma for all the affirmation books, hints and tips I’ve read.  I’m still hopeful that one day the words will suddenly slip into my subconscious and my body will sit up and take notice.

Today my twin Tina was supposed to be coming over for the day.  I know how much our Fridays mean to her, and I just hate to let her down.  She and I look forward to spending time together, no matter what we are able to do, even if it’s just sitting reading or listening to music.  Our Fridays are special, we talk about our childhoods, our parents, our brother, our shared memories all of which are so important for Tinas recovery after her stroke.  If she’s feeling up to it she might be able to peel a few carrots, which for her is a mega achievement, or even make a cup of tea.  We take great delight in every step she takes along her path towards becoming more independent.  Yesterday I was feeling so lousy I thought it only fair to warn her that I might not be up to her visit today, but ever hopeful said that I would ring her this morning to let her know for sure.

I had an early night after already sleeping most of yesterday, but even though I slept well I knew the minute I woke up that I would have to have another day hibernating, recharging my battery, if I was to get back to anywhere near my normal energy level (which is a pretty pathetic 4/10 compared to my pre-illness 10/10) . I dreaded ringing Tina and sure enough she was very upset and crying.  I know she understood but her emotions are raw since her stroke. Very small things can easily annoy her or upset her and she becomes frustrated by her lack of ability to deal with matters which she would have not given a second thought to when she was well.  I looked out at the beautiful spring sunshine and crawled back into bed.  I do know that I am far luckier than a lot of people.  I have been going through a good phase recently where I have been able to stick to most of my plans for several weeks.  I have to organise everything with breaks and rests but by doing that can enjoy my life immensely.

In bed yesterday afternoon, with Maddie loving every moment of being able to lay beside me, I did think about my life before I was chronically ill.  I wondered, health wise, if I had no option but to make a choice between my previous life or my life now which would I choose? I thought about it on and off for quite a while.  Weighing up the pros and cons.  One thing that most ‘well’ people do is take their health and energy for granted, whilst most unwell people make the most of every good minute they have.  I thought about seriously wealthy people who waste their money and rarely value what they have, whereas people on a budget plan their spending carefully and make the most of every penny they have and truly value what they can afford.

I thought of the friends I have who accept me with all my limitations, who show such enormous patience when I sometimes have to let them down, who really care how I am and where possible make allowances for my limited energy.  I also thought of the friends I used to have, many who sadly disappeared into the woodwork when I became chronically ill.  My friends now are very different, more ‘real’, far more caring and also far more fun.  I feel I am so lucky. I am rich in friendships and time spent with my friends is always so worthwhile. Would I have valued my friends so much before?

It’s tough to crawl back into bed when the sun is shining, but then many people are working, often doing something they don’t particularly like, and not even seeing the sunshine.  Many people are trapped in their hectic lives, trying to be the best, have the best, striving to achieve perfection but never feeling they are succeeding.  There I was curled up in my comfy bed with my beautiful dog by my side listening to gentle meditation music whilst a warm breeze wafted over me from the open window.   Hmmm …. the choice would not be easy!

37) A Promise from Spirit!

She loved him like he was
The last man on Earth
Gave him everything she ever had
He’d break her spirit down
Then come lovin’ up to her
Give a little, then take it back

She’d tell him about her dreams
He’d just shoot ’em down
Lord he loved to make her cry
“You’re crazy for believin’
You’ll ever leave the ground”
He said, “Only angels know how to fly”

And with a broken wing
She still sings
She keeps an eye on the sky
With a broken wing
She carries her dreams
Man you ought to see her fly

One Sunday morning
She didn’t go to church
He wondered why she didn’t leave
He went up to the bedroom
Found a note by the window
With the curtains blowin’ in the breeze

And with a broken wing
She still sings
She keeps an eye on the sky
With a broken wing
She carries her dreams
Man you ought to see her fly

With a broken wing
She carries her dreams
Man you ought to see her fly

I try so very hard not to look back on my previous ‘life’ with negative thoughts but must admit sometimes it’s tough not to!  I prefer to concentrate my thoughts on the now and with my wonderful husband Simon and the friends I am so very fortunate to have in my life.

Last night we were sitting listening to our favourite music tracks and Simon played one that has a particular place in my heart.  It was a song I used to listen to when I was in my previous marriage, when I felt there was no way out.  I would imagine myself flying away, having the freedom to spend time with my friends, to chat on the phone, to read books and to be able to have fun.  To be able to be excited and not have my dreams mocked,  not to be in trouble over everything I ever did or said. To be able to be me.

I used to lay in bed at night wondering how I could leave.  I would envisage a life so removed from that which I had, but which I always thought was unattainable.

My ex-husband and I had been to Calgary in Canada and were staying with one of his business associates  and his very lovely and spiritual wife, when, very strangely, whilst driving along in the back of the car, my wedding ring had literally and inexplicably broken into pieces.  His wife was stunned and as she was already aware that my marriage was not wonderful, but not to the extent it actually was, she said that it was definitely a sign that it was beyond repair.

She and her husband were coming over to England just a couple of weeks later and she and I had arranged to go and see Diana Garland who offered astrological and clairvoyant readings.  I had met Diana years before at a spiritual event and had been most impressed.  She went for her reading first and was really pleased when she came out, saying how accurate Diana had been.  I went in for my reading not expecting that I would hear anything particularly life changing, but I was in for a big surprise.  I had always kept my marital problems to myself but Diana certainly picked up on them, and in her gentle and guiding way she explained that my chart showed that a massive change was about to happen in my life.  She told me that if I didn’t make a decision very soon the chance would be gone and I would be stuck in my life for always.  The very next morning,  I actually came to the decision to risk everything and leave.

I drove over 50 miles across country, down narrow lanes, weaving my way across the countryside to my sister’s house. I drove my car but felt as if I was flying, knowing that no matter what happened I would never go back, knowing that at last I would not be spending my life living in fear.  I had never felt spirit so close to me as that morning, I felt a golden light surrounding my little car and me, a safety bubble that nothing could penetrate.  For the first time in over 25 years I felt totally safe.  It was the most incredible feeling.

I had not been able to be in contact with my twin sister very much as he had objected to our relationship (gulp – how can that possibly be?) so I had no idea that she and her husband and their six children were about to move. We decided that we would find somewhere where we could all move together and my sister and I went all over the country looking at properties before settling on a house in Hampshire.

When I spoke to my friend Susan Roberts, a wonderful psychic medium from Barnstaple who started the English Psychic Company, she told me that within a few months I would be meeting my soul mate, but wouldn’t actually see him – I wondered how on earth that could be!  She said that we would be made for each other and would be living together within six months of meeting.  I had known Susan for several years and knew that her predictions were generally spot on but couldn’t quite believe what she was saying.  It all sounded too good to be true.

Shortly after moving to Hampshire I attended a weeks residential course at the Arthur Findlay College in Stanstead. I booked a private mediumship reading with the tutor Simone Key whom I had never met before.  As soon as walked in the room, and before I had even sat down, she said ‘my goodness you’ve just left a relationship after over 25 years’.  Talk about accurate! She went on to tell me that I would shortly meet a fantastic young man who was my soul mate.  She said I would have a life full of fun and laughter with him and that he would support me in everything.  I was just a little amazed after an almost identical reading from Susan. I couldn’t wait!

Whenever people tell you that you have a fabulous future ahead of you it does take some getting used to.  I still didn’t quite understand how I could meet someone but not see them though.  That really confused me. Little did I know then that I would join an internet dating site and meet the most lovely man who didn’t put his photo on the site!

How incredibly organised spirit was.  I look back now and see that from the moment my wedding ring broke everything was in place to put me on my new pathway. I was given the confidence to make life changing decisions safe in the knowledge that spirit were with me, guiding me through the readings from the most genuine people. I felt that I had a promise of a new life … just waiting round the corner.

Tomorrow, Simon and I will be celebrating our FIFTH wedding anniversary!  We’ve known each other just over seven years now and my life with him is just as foretold.  I adore being his wife, his friend, his playmate, his love.

He has accepted me totally for who I am. I am just me …. and there are no words in the world to describe how unbelievable that is.  To be loved and love is heaven and I count my blessings every day.  Thank you!

P.S. (Can you have a PS on a blog?)

Funnily enough, whilst writing this post I had a break about ten minutes ago and found a lovely post in my inbox which confirmed everything I already knew!  How spirit likes to make certain we get the point!! Please take a look … her blogs are great! http://complexmuse.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/show-your-soul-to-attract-your-soul-mate/

http://www.dianagarland.com

http://www.englishpsychiccompany.com/

http://www.arthurfindlaycollege.org

http://www.simonekey.co.uk/

34) It’s Only a Number!

A picture of a birthday cake

I’ve just had a birthday.  Hooray!

The problem is that I can’t get used to being so ‘old’.  Although my body doesn’t exactly feel ‘young’, my head, my mind and my heart does.  I’m like a ‘cut and shut’ where bits of me just don’t fit together quite right.  My body hasn’t felt very young for a number of years now. Due to a chronic illness I always have pain somewhere and the lack of energy is annoying, but I’ve got used to that over time, it’s been with me for nineteen years, so I should have by now!

No, now the problem is that my body is actually ageing.  I’ve noticed the wrinkles deepening and my eyelids kind of folding over, its difficult to describe, but all of my eyelids used to be visible, but now there is extra skin that hangs over them – I’m sure there is a technical name for it – but it’s happened all of a sudden.  My legs have never been my strong point, being knock-kneed how I rejoiced when maxi dresses came back into fashion, but now they too are beginning to look like old lady legs.  As I’ve aged I’m seeing more and more the family genes take over.  Auntie Violet legs – thanks Auntie!

My twin used to be very good at pointing out my short comings, but since her stroke she hasn’t so much and I have been thankful for that.  Last Friday when she came over she was looking intently at my hands.  Now, she doesn’t often say a lot these days so I normally relish a conversation with her, but on Friday she was not having a good day and was more ‘there’ (wherever that is), than ‘here’, so when she started to talk I was really pleased. “You’ve got”, she looked as if she was frustrated trying to talk, “You’ve got” she tried again, “What am I trying to say?”, “I don’t know sis” I replied, as I often do, because she often asks that.  There was another long pause and I always imagine her brain is trying to get into gear, “You’ve got  age spots on your hands” she piped up with a big smile, “Oh” I said, a little shocked, “and your hands” she went on, “your hands”, I waited patiently as she gathered her thoughts once again, “your hands aren’t looking so pretty these days, they look wrinkly”.  Gee, thanks sis!  Well that was certainly worth waiting for!

I hadn’t really looked at her hands before, they are lily white as she has been indoors for almost three years now and she only had one very tiny insignificant age spot.  One of her habits since her stroke is applying hand lotion many many times a day, so I must admit her hands do look very soft.  Maybe it should become one of my habits too. She isn’t capable of doing any housework or washing up either and I’m sure that plays a big role in my wrinkly, aged spots hand syndrome! Bless her!

I think the reason this birthday has hit me harder than all the rest is that it really is the heading towards sixty birthday, I can’t say I’m in my early fifties anymore, I’ve tilted over the edge of fifty five and fifty six does sound so very grown up! I think, for all of us who have gained some weight, we can look in the mirror and think about when we are slim again, there is a hope that one day we may shed the weight and be back to our ‘real’ slim selves.  For me too, there is always the hope that one day I am going to wake up well, that my illness will have scuttled off into the night, never to darken my door again, and I will once again return to the ‘real’ healthy, full of vitality, capable of anything, me.  But, looking in the mirror now, seeing my droopy eyelids and, thanks to Tina, being aware of my aged hands, there is no hope that one day the droops will disappear and the wrinkles will all smooth out.  I’m not even going to consider discussing the other, more covered up, bits of me, that are patently struggling with age.  A girl (or maybe I should at this age say woman) does have to keep some dignity! No, this is it.  It really is the beginning of me looking old.

I was chatting to my sister-in-law Wendy just before my birthday.  Wendy is sixteen years younger than me (eek, I’m ‘just’ old enough to be her mother!), she is extremely pretty, very petite and super fit.  She goes to the gym most days and also leads a very busy life as a hairdresser, a Mum to my two beautiful neices and has a very active social life.  She is also, absolutely lovely and great fun to be with.  As the years have gone by and we have got to know each other better we enjoy an easy relationship and chat away and discuss anything and everything.  I’m so lucky to have her as my sis-in-law.  She was asking me how old I was going to be and when I told her she said it is just a number. I laughed, yes, I agreed, but said it was a bloomin’ big number!

This week there was the shocking news of the death of Whitney Houston and it really got me thinking.  She had died when she was only forty eight years old.  I met Simon when I was that age, and how I would have hated to have missed the wonderful time we have shared together.  I have met so many wonderful new people since moving to Hampshire when I was forty eight.  For me it was an age when my life turned around, when I had the courage to stand up and be me, to leave an old life and start afresh.   I didn’t have Whitneys fame, her talent, her money or her looks, but I did have my own identity, which I sadly feel she was lacking.  How sad that her life ended when my new life had just begun.  I was thinking that Whitney won’t ever be old enough to be complaining about droopy eyelids and how very fortunate I am to have made it to have a big number birthday.

How sad that so many amazingly talented people just can’t cope with their lives and end up relying so heavily on drugs and alcohol to get through.  I wonder how many of them feel lonely, how many question who really likes them for who they are, not what they have or what they can do for them? It must be tough to cope with public adulation when in your heart you are not prepared, when deep down you must know that you are not coping with the success.

I find it strange how many young people say they want to be famous, and yet fame has so many drawbacks, I just don’t understand why anyone would want to be in a position where they can’t even pop out to their local shops without someone taking a snap of them. Where everyone feels they have the right to comment on and often criticise what you wear, who you spend your time with, what you do. What a dreadful way to live your life!

Hopefully Whitney is now beginning a new life in spirit where she will be able to realise how amazingly fortunate she was in so many ways, where she will be able to find some of the joy she had in her life here.  I do hope that her soul will heal and with help she will be able to move forward along her pathway. Maybe in her next incarnation she will again have the voice of an angel, but our society may have moved on and she will not be put on such a pedestal, where from such a great height so many have fallen.  Maybe next time she’ll happily get to the big number birthdays.  Let’s hope so.

27) Making New Memories

Mince Pie

Mum always made certain that even though she had three children she would make  time for each of us individually.  These times weren’t necessarily important dates or special occasions, just time we all had alone with Mum whilst we did everyday things.

Mum and I always used to make the mince pies for Christmas whilst the rest of the family would be in the lounge watching television.  In those days we would always wear a pinny when we were cooking.  I don’t know why really, because these days not many people ever do.  When we put our pinnys on it was almost a sign that we meant business, we were undertaking important and valuable work and we were set apart from the rest of the family in their civvies.

It was during these Christmas baking times that we would often chat about Mum’s life as a young woman, where she lived, what she did, who she shared her life with.  She had the most wonderful knack of talking about how life affected her when she was the same age as us.  It bought to life, in our minds, her history.  When I was growing up I always seemed to think of Mum and Dad’s childhood in black and white, like an old movie.  I always thought that their clothes would have been scratchy for some reason.  Strange what goes through children’s minds.

Mum had a difficult childhood, bought up by her Dad and a variety of Aunts, until her Dad married when she was nine years old.  She adored her Dad more than anyone in the world and would often become tearful when she talked about the wonderful Christmas’s she shared with him.  He had died before I was born, and she never really managed to overcome her grief.  I found that very hard to understand as a child, especially as I had never met him, so he didn’t seem real to me, even though Mum told me so much about him.  It was as if she was describing an old film she’d seen.

Something though that Mum said, that has always stuck in my mind, was that she always felt it was important to make new memories.  Not to erase the old ones, but to add to our itinerary of memories, to make our own histories. That seemed strange when I was a young girl, but as I’ve grown older I do understand what she meant by that.

We all have times in our lives that our thoughts go back to, especially at Christmas.  Times we wish with all our hearts that could be repeated right now. People that have passed through our lives who we miss and wish that we could be with once again. In Mum’s case it was definitely time that she spent with her Dad.  She would have given the world to spend even just a few moments with him once more.

I cherish the memory of my Dad singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve the last Christmas he was alive. We were at a very grand party and the local choir were singing traditional carols.  We were in a huge elegant room with a grand piano and we were sat on the type of furniture you normally only see in stately homes.  The type where the ropes are around them to stop the public touching it!  It really wouldn’t have mattered where we were, my memory is of my Dad’s twinkling blue eyes, his warm smile and his deep rich voice.  I was so very proud of him. I would give anything to be back at that party with my Dad.

I cherish the memory of Mum and I cooking Christmas dinner, drinking too much sherry, and laughing and giggling like a couple of teenagers whilst we jived around the kitchen to ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’.

I cherish the memory of my daughter rushing into my bedroom first thing in the morning, so excited to tell me that Father Christmas had been, with her arms full of presents that she wanted to open on my bed.

I cherish the memory of Ray, my brother, playing his guitar, making up his own silly verses to Christmas Carols, whilst drinking his favourite brandy and coke.  ‘Merry Crimbo’ he used to say.

I cherish the memory of my twin sister, Tina and I, waking up to find chocolate santas lined up around our beds and beautiful party dresses, one made for each of us, hanging on our wardrobe door.

So many memories of wonderful Christmas’s, but now, as they say, those days are gone.  It’s tough.  I know it always will be. If I could just snap my fingers and be back there just once more …………..

Now, I have new memories to make.  Memories where in the future I’ll look back and long for these days.  Where I’ll wish with all my heart to be able to share these times once more. That’s the Christmas I’m going to have with the people who are in my life right now, the people I share these special times with, the people I hold dear and love and cherish.  This Christmas will be part of my history.

25) Am I who I think I am?

If you’d have read my previous blogs you will know that I am an identical twin.  I am positive that I chose this for this lifetime to ensure that I could learn several lessons that I could only experience as one half of an identical pair.

It’s very strange to think that my twin sister and I started out as one egg and one sperm and at some early time in our development, after the egg and sperm had fused, we chose to split in two!  How odd is that?  Theoretically then we should be totally identical, but if you know any identical twins you will know that there are differences, both physically and personality wise.  However, often the physical differences don’t show so much until you are a little older.  Mum told me that on many occasions when we were very small babies she did wonder whether she was confused about which one of us was which.  She said we were absolutely identical and that she would ask Dad and sometimes even our brother Ray as well, to see who they thought we were!

Mum said she was actually quite pleased when I fell out of my high chair when I was about 18 months old because I then had a small scar on my forehead.  She said she’d often check my forehead to see if I was me or Tina!

Relatives always became confused with us.  I don’t think some of my aunts and uncles ever really knew which twin I was.  It was sheer fluke that they would call me by the right name.  I could almost see the relief of their face when I replied to them.  It was like ‘phew, she didn’t realise I didn’t know who she was’, but it was a look I had learnt to recognise from a very early age.

As we grew up we knew that teachers could never tell us apart, hence, as I said in an earlier blog, we would both be disciplined if one of us was naughty – purely because they could never work out who had been naughty and who hadn’t.  It wasn’t too bad when we were little but when we first went to senior school it became pretty annoying.  There were several occasions when teachers would bundle Tina and I together in a sentence, for instance ‘the twins have not completed their homework’    I would be infuriated, as I had completed mine and given it in on time, and would often stand up in class and state that I was an individual, much to the amusement of both the teachers and classmates.

One of the other big problems that Tina and I shared was when we joined a new school.  I remember distinctly the first day at our senior school.  Nobody knew anyone else in the class and gradually over the course of the day it was obvious that people were becoming friends.  The problem with being a twin is that everyone seems to think that you already have your friend and so you don’t need any others. The teacher hadn’t helped by putting us together at adjoining desks.  It was like we were a self-contained unit.  I have spoken to other twins and they all had the same experiences when they joined anything too.  It’s the same even when you are a grown up.  Although I enjoy going along to a new club or church with a friend, I actually prefer to go alone, as nerve-wracking as I find it,  because you tend to meet more people when you are on your own.  People can see you don’t know anyone and come over and introduce themselves, whereas if you have a friend with you they tend to leave the two of you alone.

I do consider that even though I loved so much about being a twin, I also desperately wanted to be accepted as an individual.  Most ‘singletons’ take their individualism for granted, they are just themselves, and they know that there is no-one exactly the same as them in the whole world.   I know that sometimes people will say that someone is just like their brother or you can tell that they are sisters, but generally they have been born at least a year apart and so have not been in the same nursery, classroom or after-school clubs together.  I found it was a tricky balancing act because whilst I adored the company of my twin, and we shared the same choices in so many things, I did still want to be me, and not always just be seen as one of the twins.

When you are in a school with a strict uniform code it is very difficult to show that you are an individual.  What didn’t help was that Mum cut our hair for years, and although I loved her very much, she was no hairdresser.  We had the type of haircuts which I gather are called the pudding bowl cut, which meant it was chopped to the same length all the way round.  Mum thought a fringe would suit us, but again, not being a hairdresser, she was not a natural stylist.  She would always cut our fringes crooked, and the more she tried to straighten them, the shorter they’d become until we both had tufts instead of fringes.  One thing I certainly wasn’t was stylish!

In my early teens an astigmatism in my left eye became more apparent and in a funny way it was a blessing, because at last people could see a real difference between Tina and I.  I was the one with the wonky eyes.  My left eye had a mind of its own and I could tell that people didn’t know which eye to look in when they talked to me.  I can’t remember minding  that at all, but when I started suffering from double vision then we knew we had to do something about it.  I was sent off to the local hospital every Wednesday afternoon for eye exercises.  It was basically a gym for my eye muscles. I’m not joking!  Two cards would be placed on a stand either side of me, one with a seal and one with a ball and I had to try to use my eye muscles to put the ball on the seals nose, another one was a cage on one card and a lion on the other.  I had to try to put the lion in the cage.  Very strange really.  When I was fourteen it was decided that my muscles just wouldn’t do what I was telling them so I had an operation to straighten my eyes.  It was fantastic as I had no more double vision, but the downside was that Tina and I were back to looking the same again!

We had always shared a bedroom until our brother left home and it was then agreed that we would take it in turns each having the bigger bedroom for a month and then the smaller bedroom for a month.  The problem was that having always slept in the same bedroom it felt so strange to sleep on our own.  Without any knowledge at all, one of us, or often both of us, would go into the other bedroom during the night.  Mum would often come to wake us in the morning and find that we were either in the same bed or that we had swapped rooms in the middle of the night.  Even at that age Mum would have problems telling us apart and very often would call us by the wrong name!

In our final senior school year it was obvious that my sister and I had different strengths and weaknesses where our studies were concerned.  I would always have to work very hard to try to remember anything, whereas Tina could just read something once and remember it straight away.  I would spend hours and hours working on a piece of homework, Tina would just spend about twenty minutes and complete the work brilliantly.  Strangely enough though over all our school years we worked out that our average marks for every subject was actually less than 1% different. Quite amazing.

The problem though was that our school also based its class position on behaviour and attendance.  I was far quieter than my twin and would never consider not attending classes.  Tina would skip anything she didn’t feel was essential, which normally would have been fine, but she hated physical education and couldn’t see the point in attending classes for netball or hockey, so used to go and sit in the art room with her friends when the classes were running. On the other hand, although I was no great athlete, I always turned up for the P.E. classes and tried my best.  When we received our last reports from the school my average mark was the same as Tina’s, which on the face of it appeared fine, but when we went through the marks for each subject and the reports the teachers had written it became clear that our P.E. teacher had us completed confused.  I received a D and a damming report, Tina received a B+ and a ‘well done for trying’ remark. Talk about unfair!

I am sure that my experiences growing up as a twin, being obviously different from most others and also  having to fight for my individuality, were lessons to help me to learn that it’s ok to be who you truly are, and that no matter what your birth circumstances, you can still carve out your own niche.  Having my spiritual awareness and beliefs has put me apart from people most of my life, but it is only in the last fifteen years or so that I have felt bold enough not to just accept those differences but to embrace and celebrate them.  I learnt that I do not have to justify why I am who I am, which is how I had felt through so much of my growing up.  I am just me, Tisha  ……. but, I do sometimes still wonder …… was it me or Tina who fell out of that high chair?

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