Seasons, and Those Kind of Seasons

I love autumn. I love the crispness in the air, the way the leaves turn fiery and then hang onto the branches for days so it’s orange above and green beneath. And an overnight wind blows and nobody walks, we all crunch through piles of leaves pretending not to notice the sound. It’s slow and sudden at the same time. Of all the seasons it’s the one that shouts “Change! Time for a reset!” more than any of the others. (If you’re curious, winter groans, spring squeaks and summer sings.) 

And in the meantime, our little puppy is not so little. She’s come into season herself. I was sure I would have a few more weeks but she is 6.5 months old so the poor thing is barking at everything. And sometimes at nothing. Her days of going off leash are over for the moment. It must be frustrating for her – suddenly noticing all these things and yet having her freedom curtailed at the same time. 

There’s been times when my life has been like that – noticing all the changes and yet being pulled back inside myself all at the same time. It was traumatic like autumn can sometimes be – all blustery and suddenly topsy-turvy and what was green now brown. The things that everybody else was so clearly enjoying were not for me. I wanted to make a fuss, and couldn’t .  

And then winter came. And it was cold and dark and hard. And also somehow beautiful. And then spring. And I held my breath because I dared not believe the warmth would last, that the warmth was for me. 

And so it is with seasons, climatalogical or biological or metaphorical. They come. They go. They bring change but they also bring continuity. Because as each season comes and goes we learn this deeper lesson.

This too shall pass.

Writing, and Waiting, from the Road

I don’t often write when I am out and about but I am on a facebook holiday, and waiting to go get lunch.

(Life pause.)

And now I am waiting to collect Little Person from school.  Normally I would do crochet during this wait but by the time I get it out it will be time to put it away. Plus I don’t actually feel like doing crochet. 

I don’t actually feel like doing much. But I will collect Little Person  and we will go home. I will drink some tea and get her started on her homework.  I will probably do some of the mountain of work waiting for me. 

And in the  meantime, I sit in the car and wait for the clang of the gate that tells me it’s time to leave the warmth of the car. 

(Life pause)

That was yesterday.  I am waiting again. Not in the car. Not for lunch. Not for beeping machines or chores to be completed. The only timetable that matters now is the one winding down inside Little Person.  Slowly, slowly she edges closer to sleep. This delicate dance must not be disturbed or she will not settle. I am tired but we cannot hurry her.  We must wait for our moments, and speak our lines. And then I will go to bed. 

I realise as I melt into the sofa, dog spread across the floor in front, the noises upstairs ever quieter, that sometimes, when we fight for what we want we can stop ourselves  getting what we need.  That waiting and doing very little in the waiting is inefficient, but it is also a chance to breathe. A moment to look at how it is and how it could have been. 

Yes I know I am rambling.  But in a time of many challenges, when I am absolutely exhausted with no sign of things easing up this side of Christmas, I am at peace. I can smile at the dog that dragged me through the hedge yesterday. I can wait to kiss my girl good night. I can hug The Dude and take a breath and know that I may not have the energy for all the things but I can do this one thing. 

I can wait. 

The Other Side of the Story

I don’t often just share a link to somebody else’s blog. But this is a blog in repose to people’s response to the whole Trump “I can sexually assault women.” This is not my story. But it may have been. 

And it’s not just about Trump.either. It’s the normalisation of treating women’s bodies as men’s property. It’s the excuses for abuse. Wherever. Whenever.  

This may not be your story. But that’s no reason to stay silent.


September, And Reconsidering Gratitude

This was supposed to be my year of gratitude. I can summarise what I have learned about gratitude in the list below:

  • Don’t ever have a year of gratitude, unless you only want to do fluffy gratitude.

Because real gratitude – when you are truly grateful for something, rather than just appreciative of it because you think you should be – can be expensive. Sometimes you need to dig down deep to the bottom of the barrel, past all the grime and muck and misery, to find the gratitude. To find the thing that makes your heart sing and say that yes, I am glad of this, I am thankful, I am enriched by having this in my life.

Quite often, in finding the thing that inspires the gratitude, you have to acknowledge the thing that doesn’t. Which can be hard, especially when you think you should be grateful for it. I should be grateful for my excellent cooking skills, but I am grateful I have found a way that all the family can eat together. Because I don’t value the experience of cooking as much as I value the experience of eating. Translation: I rarely cook as well as I could. Of course there are days when I miss being able to concoct the world’s best bolognaise sauce, but that’s not about gratitude. That’s perfectionism.

But I am very grateful for this last September, crammed so full of good memories, kindness and love, that I had to write a blog about it. The Dude decided that I didn’t get enough chocolate on my birthday so he went out and got me more (no, you can’t have him, he’s mine). A friend took a group of us out to the Kinren (or something like that) – a bit of outdoor theatre and it was such fun! I went for a girls weekend to Edinburgh with about a week’s planning. And I started training the Doodle. She’s very food orientated is Doodle. Sort of like me and chocolate.

But I’m grateful for all of that not just because it’s been my birthday month, nor because all these things were celebrations of the very specific relationships I have with people, but because they reminded me of one thing. I am not alone. And of all the things I have to be grateful for, that is one worth remembering. It is not a feel good fuzzy thing, but something that I can grasp hold of and hang onto in the tumult of life. It’s the hand reaching out in the darkness to catch me as I fall. It’s the shoulder I cry on when the days get too much. As they will. I know that.

I am not alone. And I am grateful.


Faith, Love and Being Wrong

Growing up, the idea was that faith was certainty. I guess that’s part of what my dad found so unappealing – the idea that to believe in something meant to be 100% absolutely sure. And not just sure about the big things, but sure about a million little minutiae. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I have faith in, what I believe, is the absolute and entire truth. And, critically, I thought that to have anything less than this degree of certainty demonstrated a lack of faith. An unforgivable denial of what was most important to me.

I’m not so sure anymore. (Oh, the irony). And the less sure I am about some of the things I was so sure about previously, the more comfortable I am with my faith. It becomes something wearable, usable, shareable. Suddenly I don’t have to be afraid to share my faith with people because it isn’t about making sure you believe all the right things, and believe them in just the right way, but it’s about love. Which, when you think about it, makes a whole lot of sense.

My journey from faith to doubt and back again taught me this: if you have to convince people that your faith is right, you’re doing it wrong. When I stripped my faith back, took away all the shoulds and woulds and coulds and whys and why nots, stopped trying to make the God of the Bible be the God I wanted Him to be and started to find out who He really was, I found on thing.


Faith without love is pointless. Love without faith is also pointless, but in a different way. I can get some of the nitty gritty of what I believe wrong, but if I love God, and I love people (and I mean really love them – not this wishy washy I love you if you will agree to eventually believe what I believe), I figure that God is big enough to handle the rest. I believe that God loves me and He loves you. That we all get things wrong and we all get things right, and that I have no way of knowing whether I’m right or wrong about a point of theory. But I am never ever wrong when I love.


Kindness Like Glitter 

Well, nothing has changed.  And everything has changed. My mum came for a visit and told me to “be kind” to myself. Which seems obvious.  But sometimes we need to hear the obvious.  

After my post about not being able to ask for help, a friend suggested Facebook groups. I have joined a few, but I don’t get too involved – I have a tendency to want to fix everything. Turns out,  I know quite a lot about dealing with Little Person and her autism, I make good decisions and I can manage my emotions effectively.  Even if I don’t realise it. Yes, I know. That’s not what I am supposed to be taking away from these groups,  but it’s a  way to be kind to myself.  

Last week,  one afternoon I spent at least half an hour sitting in the sunshine while Little Person played upstairs. And training the dog to stay. Sort of. But then the dog came and lay down by my feet and it was good. There were twenty zillion things I was supposed to have done but I let the sunshine wash over me. And I fed myself kind thoughts. 

There are always things to do.  There are always things waiting to go wrong, but there’s kindness too. Everywhere, like the glitter from last month’s party that you keep finding stuck to your shoes or underneath the placemat or the next time you get out the salad bowl. We want our kindness prepackaged according to our own expectations, but sometimes, a sunny day comes calling and the kindness that only you can give yourself is waiting. 

I have spent many months hoping for the kindness of others. And yet, in being kind to myself,  perhaps I am freeing myself to appreciate the kindness they can give, rather than the kindness I want from them. 

The Trouble With Asking For Help 

Earlier this year,  I discovered a special needs parents support group that meets fortnightly not too far from where I live. The first week in was busy, the second is was ill. The third I forgot about it because I suspect I was having a good day. The following time, I went to bed the night before determined that this time, I would definitely go. 

I didn’t go. Because I was having a bad day. It’s the ultimate catch 22. When you don’t need help, you don’t see the point of going, you don’t go because to go would be a fraud. When you do need help, you can’t go, because all your energy is focused on getting through the day. And going somewhere new, where you don’t know anybody, and you suspect that maybe you don’t belong anyway, it’s tricky on a bad day. So on bad day you need to have gone on the good days, but on good days you don’t want to go and think about how bad the days get. 

Maybe I am just not made for support groups. 

Maybe I was over thinking it. 

Trouble is, nobody talks about this stuff. You hear the stories about the tired mums of kids at the “bottom” end of the spectrum. You hear stories about how brilliantly proud parents are of their “high-functioning” autism kids, how the kids are heroes. Sometimes it feels like a competition, or some weird classification system. Just how bad are your kid’s needs? Because only really bad needs count for this narrative.  Your child looks normal. She needs to go in the inspirational hero group. But sorry, she can’t actually pass as normal (whatever that means). She doesn’t make you giddy with glee and give greater meaning to your every breath. Try the other group. Although no, you won’t fit there either. Hmm.  

Nobody talks about the kids in between – the ones with words (but not enough), who can cope at school  (but only just, and then the weekend is recovery time not family time), who can spot the tiniest difference but not realise when someone is angry. Nobody talks about how you can’t go out but you can’t stay in and the meltdowns that are always a moment away and leave us all feeling punch drunk, dizzy and weary and heartbroken again.  

Nobody talks about it,  which means when I want to ask for help, either I’m wrong, or I’m weak. Or maybe,  I’m right, and nobody wants to talk about it. 

A Visit To The Soft Play

As I write this, I am sitting in a soft play place pretending to know where Little Person is. It’s a sunny day so most sensible people are out in the park or on the beach or doing any number of free things.

But Little Person is rarely up for doing something spontaneous, and somehow she realised that we were near the soft play place. And sometimes, there’s no good reason to say no.

Of course, the spontaneity of it means I didn’t come prepared. Nothing to occupy my hands or my mind apart from my phone and my other favourite hobby – people watching.  

There’s the lady reading her “Heat” magazine, periodically pausing to type manically on her phone. There’s a  coffee mug, half empty water bottle, empty crisp packet on the table. And now, a red faced daughter looking and smiling and scowling. 

There’s a  dad or three. With bottles of pop and vastly overpriced plates of food and children either super smartly dressed or in whatever didn’t need to be washed this morning.  

There’s the mummy clubs huddled in the corners. With coffee cups and juice bottles and children nowhere to be  seen. And gesticulating hands and sternly nodding faces. Outrage needs to be expressed, endorsed, carefully cultivated.  

And unimpressed young men and women wipe tables, sweep floors, lounge against the entrance to the trampoline enclosure.  Invisible, almost. Invisible enough. 

I am sure I could learn lessons from these observations, extract a meaningful comment about society, and the roles we play. But instead, I watch Little Person: climbing and running and trying,  skirting the loud kids to go down the slide. Hair flying backwards so I see the grin on her face.  And then scrambling, climbing, up and up and up, curls bouncing so they are all I see. And then a hand waves and she’s sliding down again. 

Sometimes I don’t need lessons. 

Sometimes I just need a good day. 

And Then We Got A Dog (Sunday Musings)

Reasons Not To Get A Dog:

1. I am not a dog person. I blame the childhood trauma of picking up very messy giant piles of dog poo.

2. Dogs are expensive. There’s food, and vet bills and bedding and toys.

3. You have to train them. Potty training. Obedience training.  

4. They take up time. There’s walking them and playing with them. 

5. The chew factor. They chew everything. 

6. The poo factor. I mean, my childhood poo trauma was using a shovel. This is using a bag to pick up a fresh warm …. ergh…. 

7. I already have a cat. An anxious cat. 

8. Did I mention I am not a dog person? 
Reasons To Get A Dog

1. Little Person worked very hard to overcome her fear of dogs because she really likes them. 

We got a dog.