Strategies for Staying Calm
Stay Calm and Cycle
What a week we’ve had. Having waited so long to get my lovely dad home we only managed six days before he had to go back into hospital.
Having an ambulance arrive should be dramatic, but it has almost become normal for us.
Dad is in hospital with a different complaint, but he is still quite poorly. We are waiting for a care package to be implemented that is sufficient to keep him safe at home. It is definitely time to follow my own advice on being patient! I am mindful though, that if I am stressed, how much worse it must be for dad and my mum.
Strategies for Staying Calm
I am trying to think of strategies about how to stay calm. I’m hopeful you might be able to suggest some as this is all I can come up with.
· Mindfulness of living in the moment and not worrying too far ahead.
· Remembering to be grateful.
· Trying to look beyond my own immediate bubble of concerns.
· Acceptance. As my mum always says ‘what can’t be cured must be endured.’
· Talking things through but not obsessively so!
Concentration and Calmness
When I’m a bit stressed I find it very difficult to sit still, but I don’t manage to achieve anything very productive. I find it difficult to concentrate for long on anything and seem to spend my time up and down to the fridge - snacking! This is not good!! What I should do is try to look outside my own situation and remember to be thoughtful to others as it really does help.
This week I’ve been trying to read Ali Smith’s Summer. I always find Smith challenging. I found How to be Both quite difficult and didn’t find it easy to link the two different stories. Maybe there is no need to. Having said that I think her language is the most lyrical and powerful that I’ve read in recent years. Smith (Ali, not my Mick) always leaves me feeling very anxious about the world we inhabit. It is strange though, despite these underlying nagging concerns about climate change, Brexit and such like it is the stuff that is happening directly in our family that dominates. I wonder if other people are the same.
Cycling to Calm
The only thing I’ve managed to spend time doing this week that is all productive is some cycling. Mick and I are participating in the Help for Uganda fundraiser by contributing miles and donations to a virtual 6480-mile ride from the UK to Uganda. The purpose is to raise the necessary funds to complete the building and equipping of a school for children with sensory disabilities in Jinja, Uganda.
I've pledged to cycle 200 miles in September. I know that isn’t a huge amount, but I am discovering that try as I might it is impossible to find a route that is downhill all the way to a destination and back home again!
Our team (Deb, Fiona, Mick and I) has managed to raise 750 pounds so far and are trying to reach a thousand. Here is our charity page – all donations, however small are very welcome. #Justsaying - or as I say to amuse the kids, ‘Justsayinghashtag’
Empty Nesting Again
Both the girls are away at the minute so our house is an empty nest! Betsy is with her boyfriend, which she has been looking forward to. Annie has returned to London (after a quick visit home for her birthday. (How did we become old enough to have a 22 year old?) Annie is working for a recycling company, in between trying not to stress about her dissertation. She has been telling me how her office has a pool table, coffee bar and proper bar, which is free for employees to enjoy. That is not how I remember office environments! Thank goodness that Saint Mick (of Broughton, not Thana) is here to make the empty nesting a little easier. Our coffee bar is also free, other than the odd trip to the supermarket to buy more beans! I’m not sure drinking copious amounts of coffee will keep me calm, but I’m going to give it a try anyway!
Exploring how to be positive and patient
I’ve written before about being positive and as a rule I’m quite good at keeping a glass half-full approach to life. Remembering to be grateful and kind is key. I have to admit though that in the last couple of weeks I’ve struggled to be patient or positive. At times it has felt like “I’ve had to fake it to make it.” As Brene Brown would say in the Gifts of Imperfections, which I've mentioned before, I’ve needed to ‘dig deep’.
Somehow ‘digging deep’ seems to have worked and when I woke up this morning it felt almost like a switch had flipped and I could see things more positively.
Looking for the Positives
July has brought both ups and downs.
On the plus side, and it is a big plus, my lovely Saint Mick of Thana is back in Beech Close full time. At the risk of gushing, he is the kindest, most quietly supportive fellow I could ever wish for. On the downside he snores a lot.
It is sad not to have said a proper goodbye to Bangkok, but we can perhaps return there one day. In the meantime I’ve got all my friends’ Facebook photos of them hopping from one beach to another as a means of reminding me of how lovely Thailand is – grrrr… not jealous at all! I say that tongue-in-cheek as I know many of them would have much preferred to travel home and see their family this summer and are actually making the best of their own difficult situations.
These incredibly cute photos of my friend's little girls and her husband doing a nappy car change reminded me how travelling with infants can be a bit full on. You need to pack everything except the kitchen sink!
Getting Better after Health Concerns
We have had a couple of health setbacks this month. My dad’s foot had become infected whilst at his rehab centre and he had to be admitted to hospital. This was a good call as intravenous antibiotics are quick and effective. It has been a challenge though. Poor communication and missing x-ray paperwork meant he had to stay in hospital longer than was strictly needed. Having said that some of the teams up at the hospital have been brilliant. Looking back at my blog I was writing about the NHS and my dad’s health about a year ago. I am afeared middle age is making me repetitive!
The noisy hospital environment is not good for my dad’s well being so I felt ridiculously relieved to finally get him moved back to rehab late on Wednesday night. The hundred plus phone calls (largely to an automated generated machine who couldn’t understand me), and the missing sets of newly bought clothing I took in for him faded away into insignificance.
A big positive is that dad’s new room in the rehab centre has a window, so for the first time in a month we were able to go wave to him yesterday. Dad looked tired but quite well considering the trauma of the last couple of weeks. He gave us a smile and a wave. Dad seems to have left hospital ‘sans hearing-aid’ so this week’s task is to get a new one organised. Once more … grrrrrr….
Little did my dad know that at the same time he was back in hospital he had one of his granddaughters just down the corridor from him in a different ward. My typically understated and calm Annie found herself in tons of pain with what we thought was a kidney infection, but what turned out to be a kidney stone. There followed three nights in hospital. Her main response was that she was ‘relieved she hadn’t been making a fuss or being melodramatic for nothing.”
Annie is now back home recuperating on the sofa and doing lots of extra hours for her virtual internship to make up for the time she missed during her stay in hospital. She is resilient, funny and kind and makes me proud. That’s a lot to be positive about.
With all this ill-health Mick and I didn’t manage to get to go down to Torquay as planned. This was disappointing as we had hoped to surprise my lovely friend Carolyn who lives down there, but there will be other opportunities to see her.
I have had some lovely reminders this week of how lucky I am to have some great friends.
Carolyn sent the girls and me these lovely hearts to which cheered us up no end. Another great friend Jackie and her gorgeous son Bill sent me a pampering set. I’m looking forward to closing the bathroom door (in this overcrowded bungalow!) and having a lovely quiet relaxing bath. As I light a candle with a relaxing and soothing scent, I’ll also perhaps indulge myself with a nice cup of one of the specialist teas my other dear friend Rachel sent me a couple of weeks ago.
My friends are a tower of support and for that I’m very grateful. The gifts are an added bonus which just prove how spoiled I am!
Despite our aborted trip to Torquay it isn’t all gloom and doom for the Flint Smith family re holidays. Annie did manage to get to Spain for a week to collect her belongings. I think that was bittersweet for her, so I’m pleased she has come back home to us before heading back to London in September. Betsy has also managed a little mini-break with her boyfriend. They opted to go to Liverpool. I’m not really sure why, but they seem to have had fun.
Trying to be Patient
I am naturally quite a self-reflective person and in recent years I’ve been surprisingly positive. I don’t think, however, I need to dig particularly deep to discover that I am not a patient person. I always want things completing ‘yesterday’. I think this is partly why this further setback for my dad has been so frustrating. It is, of course, much more challenging for him and my mum. They don’t deserve it.
These last few months have felt a little crazy. We need to be patient just a little bit longer regarding the timescale of getting my dad home to mum. We’ve had a small blip, but can now look forward positively. We are back on track though and that’s a big positive. Some things we simply can’t change, so as my mum says, “what can’t be cured must be endured.”
A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have predicted that the whole family would be back living in the UK, not currently working and coming out the other side of a global health pandemic. We have got through it so far and are so much luckier than many people.
I have had the huge bonus of having the girls at home with me all through lockdown. I’ve had several months of enjoying their company and not having to worry at all about everything that comes alongside their living away from home. I know that they can’t stay forever, but I’ve got them a little bit longer yet. That’s a massive positive for me.
We’ve got some figuring out of our future to do, but there’s no rush. Mick is enjoying being able to see more of his mum and dad. I even heard talk of him picking up a paintbrush over at their house!
Once the girls have returned to their lives, (which I guess they do have to!) I’ll still have my Saint Mick of Beech Close here with me. For now, I’ll hold on to that as the biggest positive of all.