Breaking Free

The trick is to know when,
and for those who truly seek to bloom
their time will come.

There will be an urgency
like a rebirth,
the years of confinement over
and time to take a risk,
to burst through,
break loose from the safety
of the bud and say
Here I am.

This is true discernment,
a risking of good for better
and better for best.
Because a bud will eventually
outgrow its purpose
and if not broken
will droop, hang limp,
a withered head, brittle
and packed tight with
the crushed brown petals
of what could have been.


We Dit It Jack!

I don’t usually post two poems so close together but the day after my last poem “Dog Fears”,  Jack and I went out together for a walk, just the two of us, for the first time in three years. It has taken that period of time since diagnosis to accept I need a mobility scooter and then a further period towards having the courage to use it on my own. I feel the two poems are very much connected. After all, “Dog Fears” was about not only Jack’s fears, but my own too.

We Did It Jack!

Just me and you,
we bit the bullet and barged straight through
that cloud of fear that leaves us fraught
sometimes for good reason, others for naught.

I could hardly believe it, my spirits were high,
emotions soaring became part of the sky,
bumped into birds all busy in flight
but they trilled and shrilled in utter delight
at this precious success, or was it just me
wrapped tight in a flight of fantasy.

You stood so well my lovely boy,
kept looking up at me, saw my joy
which then became yours as you walked with pride
heads high, the two of us side by side.

I knew we could do it Jack, just you and me,
together out walking how it used to be.
I just needed a little courage that’s all
and when I saw you there standing so tall
I’ve never let go of fear so fast;
we did it Jack, we did it at last!


June 2014 404

Dog Fears

It’s okay, I say quietly,
it’s only a plastic bag.
But he isn’t convinced,
goes to his bed.
Then I bring out the Hoover;
he rushes into the back room.
I massage his silky head
as he escapes into sleep,
whimpers his way to a safer place
until he fireworks begin and
he is at my feel all aquiver.
I tell him I understand the firework thing;
they make me nervous too.
I gently lift his ear, whisper,
(so the cats can’t hear)
I do understand you know,
how frightening life can be,
about courage, and how
it isn’t the absence of fear
but being brave enough to
walk through it anyway;
you are doing just fine.

Time to Sing

The tall tree at the
bottom of the garden
is no longer depressed;
I think the birds are
giving her hope.
So very long has she been
winter-sad, standing limp
wearing only grey
unable to raise a smile
or jump for joy
the way she knows she can.

Then this morning
as the sun broke loose and
the birds arrived like Heinz 57
singing all at once and
miraculously in tune,
the happy tree in her
opera-singer white frills
bowed to her audience of one,
joined the song and
now she can’t stop.

I have no sense of pitch
but I am singing with them anyway;
you may hear us sing our way
through summer,
and perhaps even beyond
if we remain aware that
even on the darkest days
the song will always be there;
all we have to do is remember to sing.


April 2014 265

Afternoon at The Equestrian Centre for Disabled Riding

My New Friend Paddy

We have a horse ready for you, she said, He’s called Paddy.
I thought today was an assessment to see if I was suitable half hoping I wasn’t so I could say at least I’d tried. But there I was and there was he, padding the ground with his big hooves and tossing a snowy mane with a touch of attitude. Ive never given horse riding a thought, not my kind of thing; it’s something other people do especially pretty young girls with long blonde hair and money.

But life is different now and I want rid of the label that I stamped firmly upon myself the day I was diagnosed, the one that said “Fragile, handle with care”.

Paddy was kind but I could see a stubborn streak in his velvet-brown eyes; we were a good match. I was lowered carefully onto him, my nervous frame meeting his strong back; I was clumsy at first working against him but he slowly taught me his rhythm as we moved around the arena and before long it was as though we were one and the same. This was a good lesson in trust, first in Paddy, trusting he wouldn’t decide to play games and throw me off and secondly in my leaders who reassured me that if he did they would  catch me! I felt alive for the first time in two years.

After the lesson was over I gave Paddy a carrot to say thank you and stroked his head;
he licked my hand to say well done, and nuzzled my chest. This was a moment to savour and to save in a special corner of my heart; I have brought it out several times since during quiet moments of reflection; it always evokes a warm smile for Paddy and a sense of achievement for me, something to hold onto in times of self-doubt.

When I arrived home I stood in front of the mirror. There was no pretty young girl with long blonde hair but the woman who faced me was determined and strong. We smiled at each other, and then together we slowly took firm hold of the label that said “Fragile” and ripped it off.






Update and a poem – A Wheelchair Called Wilmer

I have just returned from a trip to Ireland; it has taken me over a year to do it.
Until now I simply haven’t had the emotional strength to accomplish it, as the
only way it was possible was with the aid of a wheelchair.
As I “grow into” managing chronic illness, I am re-learning the process of
acceptance with all its complexities. The biggest thing I have learned so far
is to have compassion for myself. The numerous hurdles will be cleared
when it is their time; I have ceased berating myself for taking “too long” to
accomplish the next thing. One of these next things is to actually own a
wheelchair rather than hire one. This may or may not happen soon.
I just need to keep chipping away at my part of the process.

The following poem was written in Ireland after my first long wheelchair “trek”.

A Wheelchair Called Wilmer

It was definitely on its last wheels,
heavily weighed down with ghost scars,
years of invisible struggles piled,
precarious, on an old sagging seat.
If I hadn’t been so heavily reliant,
I would have jumped off and
helped it into the lift.

Then a waitress on the ferry
knocked it as she passed.
It quivered like a frightened dog
and I felt sad.
A strange feeling of empathy
washed over me and I reached out
and touched it, gave it a name.
I told her not to fret and said
this time she could travel light.
There would be no scars left by me;
this was going to be a good trip.

Journal Entry – Bruce Springsteen Concert



Wednesday July 24th – Part 1

This morning I am consumed by three feelings, excitement, anxiety and fear.  I am going to a concert tonight and I am excited.  I will be going to a new state of the art arena on its opening night, and whatever the collective name is for butterflies, I have it deep in my stomach; it is obviously as excited as I am at the prospect of seeing Brue Springsteen live. Not that I am “into him” in any big way, but his music evokes in me memories of a time  when I was, and I am looking forward to the atmosphere of a live concert as much as the music itself.  The butterflies have divided into groups matching how I feel, and some are clinging fervently to fear and anxiety.  Why?

Because in order to do what I am going to do tonight, I need to use a wheelchair for the first time. So I have been working hard on changing my attitude toward my illness and its progression. The tickets were booked back in February; the concert seemed an age away and it was very easy to decide to go.  I have given it very little thought since then thinking, perhaps in a rather convoluted way, that July might never arrive and I wouldn’t have to face what is now upon me, at the same time wanting very much to face it willingly.

I spoke yesterday to a friend in the same situation, but an “old hand” and she suggested to me that by agreeing to use a wheelchair I am being kind to myself, showing care and compassion. This makes sense to me, I think. (I am smiling; it’s not as though thousands of people are going to the arena tonight to see me).  She then said, “If you feel you need to, just wear a fake pot and pretend you’ve broken your leg”.  This made me laugh and ponder the strangeness of the human mind, how we can so easily think illogically.

Time to go and get ready for “The Boss”.

July 25th – Part 2

This morning I am feeling soberly hung over. I am still drinking in, absorbing and processing the success of last night’s efforts. I also feel very proud of myself for finally breaking down another huge barrier surrounding this illness. Oh, and Bruce was pretty good too! He performed non stop for more than three hours and his audience participation skills left me smiling out loud. He was well worth the heartache I had given myself in the weeks preceding the concert, and I had dished myself more than a fair share.

The wheelchair experience wasn’t anywhere near as traumatic as I had imagined it would be. I just kept in mind the words of my friend, who said that when sitting in a wheelchair, we have a very different view of the world; it consists mainly of bums!  I now know this to be true!

I do believe that most things we go through in life involve a process. When I was in early recovery from alcoholism, I learned that we change things when we have had enough pain; until this happens it is not possible to move forward.  It applies in other areas of life too.  I am aware that I recently arrived at a place where the desire to do something, in this case, go to the concert, began to outweigh the fear and anxiety of accepting a wheelchair, the end result being a chance to move forward toward new adventures.

My souvenirs from last night’s concert – a programme, (£15!!!! but essential!), a T shirt, a mug, and a gentle reinforcement of the knowledge that nothing changes if nothing changes.

Let It Be

Cry your heart out if you need to,
rail against the world and
all its seeming unfairness,
because acceptance isn’t a pretty gift
tied with pastel ribbon bows;
it’s a trundling wagon making its
way clumsily over rough terrain,
and you may often

lose your grip, fall off in the
desert sand, find yourself on
all fours like in a bad dream
trying to catch up, cling on,
feet dragging in flying dust,
helpless and hopeless.

What I think I’m trying to say
is keep going, keep clinging,
reach out and don’t ever give up,
but allow your sorrow
its rightful place;
let it be.
It is real.


When We are Ready

Life can be full of challenges,
some of them towering exclamation marks.
I call them hurdles,
not in negativity, but because I believe
we clear them when we are ready
and not a moment before.

Like a young horse being asked
to jump for the first time,
tentative, doubtful, afraid;
a few firm refusals,
perhaps kindly led by hand
for a while, encouraged gently
though with persistence.
But when he is ready to go
he knows,
and oh, how he flies!

And so will I.

This poem was written when I finally
purchased a mobility scooter last week;
not a decision reached with ease.

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