The Gift of Sight

two gifts
When I said goodbye to Dad for the last time, there’s one lesson I learnt – life is fleeting.

With the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, along with the many other lives lost each day around the globe, we are reminded to hug our loved ones.

Forgive quickly, love passionately, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too precious, too fragile, too fleeting to hold grudges, to love cautiously and to squander our days dreaming instead of doing.

Be willing to let go. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you…” you never know when it will be your last. See life for what it is, a gift. Live courageously. Laugh often (and loudly!) Spread joy. Be the untethered force of light that you are. There’s no need to live every day like it is your last… Choose instead, to live every day like it is your first… With a sense of childlike wonder, rapture and appreciation. Give thanks for the two gifts that you opened today – your eyes.

For today is another day you get to live.

In love & light,

Hayley xx

I Love You Because…


It’s been 12 years today since my bear hugs were taken away… There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to capture how greatly you are missed. But on this day I’d like to remind you of how much you are loved…

Dad, I love you because…

…you would walk us around on your feet as little girls.

…you would shine a spotlight on us as we danced around the living room.

…you never complained about your stroke or your epilepsy, even though the seizures frightened you.

…you made us smile and laugh daily with your unpredictable humour.

…you were the most selfless human being I’ve ever met and would spend your last £5 on chocolate raisins, Beano magazines and Matchbox cars for us.

…you lived with 3 feisty females and never lashed out physically or verbally once – you’d always walk away when angry.

…you gave the best bear hugs ever.

…you cared and worried about our safety.

…you surprised us with cups of teas and Garfield The Cat inspired butties in the mornings and always made them with a smile.

…you weren’t afraid to show your emotions.

Because of a million other reasons I never had the chance to say to you – but mostly, because you’re my Dad…

My love for you is infinitely endless. I love and miss you so so much. Thank you for being my guide.

Loving you always – forgetting you never 💙 xx

Soulful Sunday #26: Be You

be the type of person

Welcome to my twenty-sixth instalment of ‘Soulful Sundays’. A weekly share where I post a roundup of soulful reflections, each including recipes, songs, quotes, blogs I have read and/or any other inspirational discoveries to sooth the soul.

For me, Sunday’s have become a day of quiet contemplation and simple pleasures. A time to reflect on the week gone by and to consider my hopes and dreams for the week ahead.

My hope is to extend some love outward and to share some simple pleasures with anyone who cares to receive them.

Soul Reflections

When I contemplate the friendships I have remained closest to over the years, the ones that have been a constant presence in my life – I have discovered they each possess a quality rarely found in everyone we meet. Besides love and trust, what is the special glue that binds two souls together?  The vital ingredient that allows you to feel at ease in another’s company? Acceptance. Acceptance says; “It is safe for you to be vulnerable in my presence. It is safe for you to be you.”

Those friendships of mine have stood the test of time because they have accepted me for who I am, nothing more and nothing less. Nothing is expected of me, and nothing is taken for granted. Their only wish is that I be myself, in all my wonky glory. We have laughed together until our bellies hurt and our eyebrows feel like they’re about to merge into our hairlines! We have cried rivers of tears in front of each other, have listened without judgement to one another’s deepest despairs, and have shared our most personal dreams and wishes. Our love, trust and acceptance afforded us the ability to say: “Your heart is safe with me.”

Just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful and magical person that you are.

– Mandy Hale

We each have our irks and quirks. That is what makes life so colourful. It’s what prevents life from becoming too uniformed, too grey, too dull. So what if your ears stick out, if your bum jiggles when you walk or you snort like a pig when you laugh?! Life is tough enough without having to conform to the ideals of how others say we should be, think, speak and act. Go easy on yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to be you. As long as you aren’t causing hurt or upset to anyone; be the unapologetic, unequivocally amazing person that you are!

Soul Strolls

Since moving house, I am truly missing having a good park in walking distance to where I live. I have taken to the neighbourhood and have been walking up and down the quieter streets, and today I went in search of a local park. I found one about 25 minutes from my house, which was mostly a cemetery beside an oval. Within moments, a man in his fifties asked me if I’d go on a date with him! Taken aback, I told him I already have a boyfriend, to which he replied “I’ll kiss you!” I left promptly afterwards. The search for a good park continues! hehe I did manage to capture this pretty wee thing on the way home!

DSC_0049

Soul Food

I have been under the weather for the best part of two weeks. What started as a sore throat soon escalated into a chest infection when I refused to listen to my body and continued to work despite needing obvious rest! My friend and fellow blogger Miriam who blogs at Out an’ About suggested I eat bone broth! Thankfully, I’m already on the mend – but next time I am ill I will be sure to try one. I managed to find a good bone broth recipe on my favourite health and wellness websites here. (Just in case you get a case of the sniffles!)

bone broth

Soul Music

I would like to share So True by The Black Seeds today. It’s a lovely track which shows that when we are true, and trust in others, we get and give the best of ourselves.


Soul Sisters

Today, I am sharing a post titled ‘Change Your Attitude’ by Bernice at SpiritualJourney17. It reminds me of a lesson I taught to my children about replacing the ANTS (Automatic Negaive Talk) in our heads with PETS (Positive Eotional Talk). Head over for a read!

Wishing you a Sunday where you are free to be you, in all of your wonky glory!

In love & light,

Hayley xx

Self-care Is Essential.

self-care
It can be difficult to say ‘no’ at times, but learning to nourish and replenish yourself can be the difference between giving others the best of you as opposed to the rest of you. If we don’t take time to rejuvenate from time to time, we will have nothing left to offer. We cannot give from an empty cup. Today I am bringing you a gentle reminder to show yourself some self-care and compassion. If your well has run dry, now is the time to fill it. It isn’t selfish, it is essential. 

You may want to run yourself a hot bath with some scented oils and candles, or give yourself permission to put your feet up and read a great book. Why not watch your favourite comedy in your pyjamas and give yourself the gift of laughter? Go for a sunset stroll and breathe some fresh air into your lungs – nature has healing qualities. Maybe you could cook a delicious dinner and pour yourself a glass of wine or a hot mug of tea? Whatever you decide to do, know that when you listen to your body’s needs and treat yourself with love and kindness, you will have much more to give. You are no use to anyone stressed, tired and grumpy.

Today, say ‘yes’ to you. Fill your cup first so it can over-spill and flow to others. Your friends and family will thank you for it.

In love and light,

Hayley xx

Letters to Heaven

Day 8, Reinvent the letter format

14

The day I was born

Dear Dad,

When I remember that you are gone, I am bathed in a deep sadness that overwhelms and consumes me. When I think of our brief time together, I feel immense gratitude to have known you as my father – yet utter despair that life’s brevity escaped me so suddenly and without warning. In my head, I replay the times I was a typical teenager – rushed, preoccupied by my own selfish adolescence, nonchalant, hot-tempered… I wish I could travel back in time, to tell you again and again how much I love you; how much you meant to me, how you were, and still are, the most incredible man I have ever known.

As a little girl, my fondest memories are of times spent with you. It was you who’d walk me around on your feet, you’d give me twizers and aeroplanes and lift me up by my ankles each time I squealed “Again! Again!” Nobody else would spend hours lining up my toy soldiers, only to knock them all down again with ping pong balls. (You imitated the best ‘man-wounded-and-falling-from-a great-height’ impression I’d ever heard!) Despite recovering from a stroke and living with epilepsy, you cared for your daughters dutifully whilst Mum was at work…

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Sarah, Dad and me

It’s hard to believe that beneath your smiles and laughter, you felt sorrow. The doctors diagnosed you with depression, but at the time, I was too young to notice. Upon reflection, it’s no wonder why you felt immense sadness given the hardships you faced as a young man; you lost both your parents; suffered a brain hemorrhage in your twenties; and lived your life with epilepsy. Yet, in spite of all of this, you showed nothing but love towards your family, in sickness and in health. Our favorite memory is of the times we’d air guitar in the living room using Mum’s badminton rackets. We’d danced our socks off to The Police, Prince and Led Zeppelin, you would shine the lamp at our feet and bathe us in a spot light – you even taught us how to head bang! I miss those days so much…

And then Mum met somebody new. One day you were there, and the next you were living in a one bedroom flat. My world became empty and bleak, I didn’t know why you had to leave, only that our family of four suddenly became a family of three. You visited twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but the days in between felt like a life time of waiting. I’d wait at the gate, waiting to see your face as you’d begin your steady ascent up the hill, your pockets laden with chocolate raisins for Sarah and I, and a Walnut Whip for Mum. You’d also buy me a Matchbox car each week, which I treasured as much as I treasured our make believe drives along the open roads.

23

When we were a family of four celebrating my 1st birthday

Living without you brought with it a heartbreak that my little heart wasn’t prepared for, and I longed for you to return to our house, safe under our roof. I hated the thought of you living all alone. I knew of your seizures, I’d witnessed them from an early age. The thought of you all alone made me anxious and worrisome throughout much of my childhood. I remember the days we’d collect you if it was raining heavy, the Rottweiler belonging to the tenant below would bark and snarl from behind the rickety gate. My heart would thump in my chest as we sat in the car, panicked that the ugly mutt would jump over the gate and eat you as you went by. Fears of losing you for good began to plague my sleep, I’d have nightmares that we’d become separated and I could never quite reach you; searching, always searching, until I’d wake with tears streaming down my cheeks.

Life continued much this way into my teens. Your weekly visits remained the highlight of my week. At night, we’d fall asleep listening to Coldplay, Bob Dylan and Maroon 5, you in the bottom bunk, and me in the top bunk, it was funny watching you cram your six foot two self into those tiny bunk beds. But you didn’t mind if it meant spending time with your family.

You never stopped caring for us. You nursed me when I was ill, you even carried me to bed when I drank so much Vodka with Louise that time – I was sick all over the bathroom! You hugged me when I cried, made me laugh when I was glum, and stuck up for me if anyone ever caused me upset. You brought us cups of teas and made the best (and most random) sandwich combinations ever. Your kind gestures, the way you loved us unconditionally, the way you still loved Mum and remained her faithful companion despite her decision to separate, all of those things are what made you so very special. When Lauren was born, as you held her in your arms you told her you’d love her as though she were your own, and you did until the day that you died.

7

When I lost you the second time, it felt as though someone had snatched my heart from inside my chest and replaced it with a heavy boulder. You were taken before I had the chance to say goodbye, before I could tell you how much I loved you, how much I appreciated you in my life. The thought of never seeing your face again, never feeling the warmth of your bear hugs, left me dazed and confused. Even now, ten years later, the thought of spending a lifetime without you leaves me feeling empty and numb. When I feel this way, I make a conscious effort to remember how you lived your life – smiling in the face of adversity.

And that is how I shall live mine. For every one thing that makes me feel sad, I will think of ten things that bring me joy. I will never forget the way you’d burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter, which spread like wildfire throughout our home. How can I? It happens to me at the most inappropriate of times, in a silent classroom, when I’m having my teeth polished at the dentist! Your infectious laughter is remembered by all of my friends who visited, and they talk of you with much fondness. You will always be remembered as our gentle giant. Your size thirteens were destined to leave lasting footprints in our hearts. And so, it is in your memory that I will continue to bathe the darkness with your love and light each day.

A medium once told me that you now reside in the highest of the spiritual planes. That the life lessons you faced on this earth, as well as your selfless nature, progressed you far into the high heavens. It is no wonder heaven claimed you early – to me, you were an earth angel; my very own angel Dad.

I feel blessed to have known you, to have shared my life with you, to have had you as my father. And however lonely it feels at times, I know that you will always be there for me, guiding me, surrounding me with your love.

I love you, Dad.

Loving you always, forgetting you never ❤

Hayley xx

21

Me and Dad

Found.

Grief-can-be-the-garden-of-compassion

Day Thirteen: Serially Found
On day four, you wrote a post about losing something.
Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.
Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

I didn’t know it at the time, but from my deepest despair was to emerge one of my most deepening and life-affirming discoveries.

One thing that continued to torment me when Dad died was the inconceivable notion that he was ‘gone’. That concept – the idea of Dad no longer existing was heart wrenching for me, as I am sure it is for many others coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, and I found it incredibly hard to accept. In my deepest despair I would find myself asking, ‘Dad has gone…but gone where? How could such a beautiful human being, with so many thoughts, experiences, emotions and memories, simply cease to exist? Become…nothing?

Someone must have heard my inner torment, because five months later, I experienced my first awakening to what can only be described as a world far beyond our own earthly realm – the world of Spirit.

“We will know if it’s a load of b*llocks,” said Mum. She has always had a way with words. We were parked outside Maria’s house, attempting to settle our nerves and emotions – neither of us knowing what to expect – both feeling more than a little sceptical. “And I’ll be really upset if she’s making it up…” Mum continued. Mum is a natural pessimist and I often find myself having to bite my tongue – but on this occasion, I too, was feeling rather doubtful – hopeful! But doubtful nevertheless… I wondered how I might react to the disappointment we were potentially subjecting ourselves to, I didn’t think our hearts could withstand any more sorrow, so I quickly banished those thoughts. This was our first, if somewhat dubious, attempt to heal the gaping wounds, and there was no backing out now. I turned to Mum. “Well – there’s only one way to find out!”

We climbed out of Mum’s Peugeot and stood at the foot of Maria’s driveway. Mum and I made a quick pact to give nothing away – no leading information, nothing that Maria could use to formulate a response. We edged towards Maria’s front door. Mum nudged my arm, gesturing towards the doorbell and then glanced all around her as though Casper or Slimer might jump out from behind a bush at any moment and scream, ‘BOO!’ I pressed the doorbell. Ding dong. The door was answered by a boy of about fifteen. He had the sullen air of your averaged teenaged boy turned butler for his mum. He mumbled for us to take a seat in the hallway, before skulking through the door to our right. Mum knotted her hands together. Neither of us spoke. Though small and compact, the entrance had a homely feel to it, with cedar wood doors and skirting boards. The walls were light and painted cream, and so far, I hadn’t seen any purple fabrics draped over doorways, or any trace of a black cat! Were we in the right place?

Just then, the door to our left opened, revealing a short, round lady in her fifties. She smiled warmly and invited us in tomystic meg take a seat. This room was also light and cosy, with a sweet, rich scent of sandalwood. Maria plonked herself in the tall
armchair behind the wooden table. At the time, I was nineteen, and my only experience of anything remotely physic had been on the television, when Mystic Meg would appear on the National Lottery Live predicting who the week’s winner would be. Needless to say, I was a little confused by the warm, motherly figure seated before me; she didn’t have jet black hair, she wasn’t skinny and bony, and she certainly wasn’t dressed in a cloak! In fact, she reminded me a little of Mrs Tiddywinks (minus the prickles), and I remember mrs tiddywinklethinking that she seemed more suited to baking homely treats in the kitchen than peering into crystal balls and talking to ghosts…

Maria told us of the different readings she offered and asked why we were there. Mum and I glanced at each other, remembering our pact outside; but looking at the table before Maria, I noticed that she seemed to be missing her crystal ball, and so I figured she needed something; I settled on, “We recently lost someone…”  Maria offered her condolences, and then the room fell silent. She tilted her head and appeared to listen, her gentle eyes dancing around the room, as though they could see unseen things.

And then she said it. Just like that.

No prompts, no questions, simply; “I am joined by a man who appears to be in his late forties. He’s very tall!” Mum gasped and turned to me, her eyes awash with sudden tears of elation. I too, was engulfed in emotion as every ounce of my being flooded with love. Pure joy overtook me as I was enveloped with an overwhelming sense of relief. In that instant, I knew – knew that my Dad was in the room – that this lady, by some indescribable and unexplained gift of hers, was able to see him, to connect with him on a level I had never imagined possible in real life; that is, until that moment. Dad was here, in this room. He was no longer lost. I was no longer lost.

As Maria continued, Mum and I were utterly spellbound. ‘Before we go on,’ she said. ‘He wants you both to know that he didn’t even realise he’d passed over until his Mum came to meet him, so you mustn’t torture yourselves any longer.’ Mum and I squeezed each other’s hands tightly as the tears began to flow again. Those words were a healing medicine – poured over the wounds that months of torture, guilt and grief at the thought of our gentle giant dying all alone and in pain, had left behind. Never has one person’s words provided me with so much release as the one’s spoken by Maria on that day. With every word spoken, my heart grew lighter and lighter. I was finally free from the formidable constraints of guilt and oppression that had burdened me for so long, burdened us for so long.

A steady stream of truths about my Dad that no person could ever fabricate without having known him ensued. There was no doubt in our minds that Maria was communicating with Dad directly. She told us that he still bickered with his Dad and his brother, to which we all giggled. Maria had no way of knowing that both my Gran and Grandpa and my Uncle on my Dad’s side were also deceased – yet she knew Dad was with them. She reassured us that Dad was now free of the afflictions that hindered him during his lifetime. “All spirits,” she assured us, “leave behind any ailments when they pass over.” Those words were so comforting. She also told us that Dad was drawing again – a talent he had had to give up after his brain hemorrhage – a talent that both my sister and I appear to have inherited from him. Dad especially loved to draw birds – Kingfisher’s and Kestrels, and now he was, once again, drawing beautiful pictures. Maria told us many things that day. Naturally, Mum and I didn’t want the session to end, but of course, the time came when we had to say our goodbyes. Although this time, goodbye seemed less heavy than before – goodbye wasn’t goodbye at all. We’d found Dad again.

At the end of the session, Mum got out her purse and Maria stopped her. “I don’t charge people who are grieving,” she said. We couldn’t believe it. If ever anybody doubted the authenticity of Maria’s gift, her refusal to charge us a single penny that day is enough to erase all trace of doubt from anyone’s mind. Maria is a very special lady and what she gave to us was utterly priceless. What she gave to us was the gift of insight, the gift of communication, the gift of freedom, of peace, but most of all, she gave to us the gift of eternal love.

From that moment onwards, however painful some days may seem, however much I miss Dad and wish to be with him, to see him and to feel his presence again, I now rest deep in the knowledge that I am never truly without him – one thing I am sure of, is that I am forever surrounded by his love.

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Sudden & Unexpected?

Day Twelve: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon
Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.
Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

“I’m dying,” Dad said.

I was sitting in the arm chair of Dad’s boxy living room, watching as he peered at his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t dying. At least, he didnt appear to be… Dad had experienced a brain haemorrhage at the age of twenty-six, and the operation that saved his life left him with severe epilepsy; but that was on the 23rd of December 1983, twenty years ago – a year before I was born. There were no later illnesses or diagnoses for Dad to be thinking that way. Regardless, my stomach dipped at the thought of losing our gentle giant.

He stared deeply into his dark brown eyes, a look of sorrow on his face matching my own. My heart sunk a little. Dad would often experience down days like today. He’d say seemingly strange things during those times; ‘Are you even real?’ was one question I remember him asking. It wasn’t aimed at me… or at anyone in particular for that matter – the words were just spoken out loud in the silence of the room – and then forgotten… That is, until after Dad’s death, at which point those words resurfaced many a time in the silence of my room.  Am I even real? Is any of this real?

Dad’s depression wasn’t always obvious – most of my memories of Dad are of him laughing, of him making us giggle and of his gentle, caring ways. But amidst those precious memories, I distinctly remember Dad’s darker days – day’s when Dad thought the world was conspiring against him. Once, he accused Mum of trying to poison him with a packet of ham (it was unopened at the time.) When I was about seven, Dad had to be hospitalised until he was able to recover. The doctors labelled Dad a ‘manic depressive’ – but to us he was our beautiful, strong Dad. And the most loving, gentle soul we have ever known. A man who, despite his setbacks and sufferings, was generous, selfless and giving. I still have the fluffy, yellow monkey Dad bought for me whilst he was in hospital – my sister got a cuddly penguin. When Mum told Dad she would be bringing us along on her next visit, he’d bought cuddly toys for us from the hospital staff. Even in Dad’s darkest hours he was thinking of us…

I don’t blame Dad for experiencing depression. Even the strongest of people would struggle to cope with going from a fit, strong, working male; to suddenly experiencing daily seizures, the loss of clear speech, the ability to walk long distances because of the pain, and being told that you can no longer work or drive because of the risk of an accident –  all before reaching the age of thirty. The daily medication Dad took to control his epilepsy also impacted his moods. He would try to stop taking the pills because they dampened his spirits, but then the seizures would come with even greater frequency and violence than before.

Yet despite all this, Dad always managed to bounce back – many a weekend we’d all be sitting in Mum’s living room and Dad would suddenly erupt in fits of giggles over something one of us said or at a funny memory – like the time Dad told off some boys for throwing litter into our garden and it turned out to be rose petals; or the time Mum egged Dad on the head in a toy fight, and he decided to embarrass her by announcing what she’d done over Christmas dinner to Gran and Granddad. We were in hysterics (made worse by the unamused look on Gran’s face.) Maybe our family was a bit bonkers, but Dad’s laugh was contagious and sooner or later we’d all be laughing uncontrollably with him. But not today.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a fistful of Cadbury’s Roses that I had taken from the staff room table. I knew how much Dad loved chocolates and gave him a handful. He sat in the other arm chair and we ate our chocolates in silence. rosesI looked around his living room; at the hand me down furniture Mum had given him after one of her moves; at the small electric fire hanging on the wall; at his stereo in the corner of the room where he’d play Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin; at his wooden television, which always seemed to be fuzzy no matter how much you wiggled the aerial; and my heart ached for the times when we all lived together, as a family – safely protected under one roof. Dad deserved a throne, not this isolation he found himself in. I tried to make light conversation, but I could tell Dad’s thoughts were elsewhere – and so after a while, I left.

Six months later Dad died. Of an epileptic seizure in his one bedroomed house. Alone. By that time I had returned to Spain from my four month visit home for the Christmas period. I’d left for Spain in the February, and in May I received the phone call from Mum.

The official term for what happened to Dad, and others who have lost their lives to epilepsy, is SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). It was sudden and unexpected – at least, it seemed that way at the time. But I often think back to that cold, December evening in Dad’s living room, of the way Dad looked at his reflection in the mirror and announced to me that he was dying. And I wonder – “Did Dad know all along?”

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