I’m back!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, in honesty I’ve not been in the best place so don’t feel like writing and sharing, but I’m getting back to normal now so let me try and catch you up.

My slipped disc is back in place and I’m well on the way to recovering strength in my back and at the risk of too much information the pressure is off of my insides and I can now pee properly, yay! (Sorry if you’re eating while reading this but it’s a great relief for me – please excuse the awful pun, my sense of humour hasn’t improved in my absence!) It’s one of those simple things in life we take for granted until it didn’t work properly – moving on.

I carried on exploring and visiting places for a while but all close to home so they would fit round hospital appointments and the osteopath (and all places that would allow me to research the locations of their powder room facilities before traveling!)

I visited a lovely old house with allotments and a kitchen garden which has made me rather excited about getting my own kitchen garden back up and running. In the absence of my own fruit and veg to harvest this year I’ve visited a lot of local parks and foraged fruit to making jams, pickles, crumbles and even Sloe Gin. It’s something I’ve always thought about but never dedicated the time to do before. It’s been tremendous fun.

The issues with my back made the decision to stop exploring and joining the real world of work quite easy. I’ve taken a temp job at my old firm for a few months. It’s not the job I want to do but I’m very grateful they have given me this opportunity to ease myself back into work after four and a half months off. The people in the office are great, all completely balmy but they are my kind of fruit loops so it works well. The job bores me but it’s only temporary and I can look for my ideal job to start once this contract is over.

It’s been a summer I’ll never forget and one I’ll always be thankful that I had the opportunity to do. 🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

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Choose your attitude!

We all experience a range of different things in our lives. The effect they have on us and our mindset towards these things are up to us.

I have two male Facebook friends who are currently on holiday with their young daughters. Both are non resident single Dads – I don’t know them well enough to know the ins and outs of who has custody when etc.

One Dad, I will call him Dad “X” (please do not get the letter X confused with a kiss 😳)

Dad X is posting multiple times a day. His first post was how hideous the journey was. Moaned there are too many kids facilities at their holiday complex and how much of a headache the place will be for him. He did an end of day 1 round up saying what disaster it was. Moaned about how much energy his daughters have got and how tired he is and not looking forward to the days ahead, adding a moaning comments saying holidays are meant to be about relaxation. Another post stating it’s only day 2 and he needs a beer. Posting set of pictures with him and his girls looking miserable saying what a long week it’s going to be because his daughters are moaning – I can’t help but think behaviour breads behaviour. It’s no wonder the girls are moaning if he is.

Second Dad – I’ll call him Dad A – by this I really mean “Dad A-game”.

He posted saying letting everyone know they had arrived safe, a long journey but worth it because there seems to be so much for the girls to enjoy. A few days later uploaded a photo of him and his girls laughing enjoying time on the beach saying he’s had a full on day with his “beautiful girls”, going on to say they are all shattered and ready for a good night sleep before more fun tomorrow. Dad A has posted a few other bits, shares of typical rubbish joke etc, the kind we all like/share on social media from time to time, but looking at the time stamps they are all late at night and a time you’d expect his daughters to be in bed asleep, so not taking away from precious family time.

Obviously I know social media only shows us snip bits of people’s lives and we never know the whole picture, but from the little we have been shown I know who’s holiday I’d rather be on.

I was a single parent for 17 years. I know how tough it can be. I know I’m not perfect and over the years I have been guilty of having Dad X’s attitude (let’s be honest, we all have) But I also know how much more rewarding life was on the days I chose to have Dad A’s attitude.

Life is so much more fun if we chose to make the effort to look at life with a positive perspective. To take our noses out of our phones, to take part and enjoy what’s going on around us. You owe it to yourselves and loved ones to make the best of your lives, whatever that may be, and be happy 🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

My travel nemesis

“Don’t make me laugh you bugger, it hurts” I laughed hysterically not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

“If I swipe my work access pass will the gate open?”he mimiced a swiping action between my butt cheeks, pretending they were two metallic security pads, the ones you often see in office buildings. More laughter and more cries of pain.

I was bent over with my head at a 75 degree angle to my feet, holding tightly to the wooden bars on the farmers fence next to a gate, between us and the cows in the field. (I must have been in pain, cows scare the living daylights out of me.)

“Let’s hope the farmer doesn’t pass by while you’re doing that. Before you know it he’ll be elbow deep fishing around for a calf!”

“Shop, it!” I cried, in too much pain to be offended by being referred to as a heifer, this really does hurt.” The pain was bad enough on its own without the additional muscle spasms caused by laughing. If it wasn’t for these additional spasms the laughter might have been a nice distraction. I knew there was still a mile to go in the walk before we were at a point where the car could be bought up to get me without causing a big fuss. Why, oh why, had I thought a walk through the fields would cure the back pain I’ve had for the last 4 weeks? I’ll tell you why. I’m a stubborn, pigheaded, self deprecating woman who doesn’t know what’s best for her! – I had decided that the pain must be psychosomatic, after all a round of acupuncture and a fully body massage had only revealed knotted muscles but no actually “cause” for the pain. If they couldn’t find anything surely there wasn’t anything to find and all I needed was a good dose of fresh air and a long walk to shake it off, right? Wrong!

While traveling my back had started to ache – the holiday accommodations I have stayed in have been great but the furniture hasn’t been very supportive. That coupled with the extra walking, long drives, showers only, no baths to rest weary muscles, had started to take their toll on my back.

After a great stay in Snowdonia I packed my large hold-all ready to move to North Wales. As my back was aching I swung it onto the back seat of my car rather than lifting it, I figured this would be quicker and I wouldn’t have to bend. Nice idea but as I swung I felt something ping in my back and my left leg buckled. With a few choice words, and a lot of puffing and panting, I finished loading the car and drove the 90 minutes to my next destination – a beautiful two story cottage with a great view over miles of fields. With limited mobility I spent the next week and a half looking at that view and living out of my car as I couldn’t carry my belongings from the car into the cottage. I went on few outings, short walks on the beach (looking like John Wayne after a long horse ride through the desert!) and a trip I had to take up the Great Orme in Llandudno (I’ll tell you more about that in another blog). I hoped by mixing rest with small amounts of exercise the pain would soon go. It didn’t, so I headed home.

After a week and a half resting at home, a deep tissue massage and a session of acupuncture the pain wasn’t shifting. So I decided to go on a gentle, but, long walk through the countryside. My walking started slow and became even slower. The further I walked the tighter the muscles in my upper front thigh and hips became. With this tightening my strides became smaller and more painful. Every hundred yards or so I had to stop and crouch (with the aid of a fence to help me lower) or bend over (again with the aid of a fence). The three mile walk took two and a half hours. The last time I felt or moved like that I was in labour! This walk was not the tonic I was hoping it would be.

A trip to see the osteopath yesterday revealed I had slipped a disc loading my hold-all into the car three weeks ago, and no amount of rest and gentle walks were going to put this right. The osteopath, impressively, was able to correctly tell me the exact movement I had done while putting the hold-all into my car 3 weeks ago!

I needed manipulation to get it back in place. “Take a deep breath in for me. That’s it. Now out slowly” Sh## this is going to hurt, I thought as I did as instructed. But compared to the pain I’d been in already it was surprisingly bearable. Most importantly, I could stand up straight and the spasms had stopped! “You must drink a lot of water to rehydrate the disc and rest. The pain is likely to get worse over the next few days. Come back and see me Thursday” Was the warning from the osteopath just as I left. He wasn’t kidding! Bloody hell (sorry mum), today I feel like I’m constantly being punched in the kidneys! And the muscles in my thighs and hips are just as tight as before. They feel like elastic bands that have been pulled to their max, ready to break any moment. – The shareholders for Tiger Balm will be getting a decent dividend this year with the amount I’m using!

Hopefully after my appointment with the osteopath tomorrow I will feel much better and be able to continue my travels. First stop will be the Barefoot festival in Loughborough this weekend. 🤞🏻I desperately want to try BellyBolly, a fusion between belly dancing and Bollywood dance moves, they are having workshops on it in the main tent this weekend – I’m hoping for a miracle tomorrow 😳

🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580

Meeting my literary idol – Milly Johnson

Yesterday I met my literary idol – Milly Johnson. I’m not usually a “fan girl” and generally don’t understand people getting excited seeing celebs. Living close to film and TV studios I very often see actors walking around and think nothing of it but Milly Johnson is a different kettle of fish. She’s the one who has really spurred me on to want to write seriously (that and my eldest, closest friend saying “will you bloody well stop telling me you’d love to, go and do it. Then come back and tell me all about it”. We were actually talking about something else at the time but I hear her voice every time I think “I’d love to …..”).

Milly Johnson is the person I aspire to be like. If the literary world had a ‘Stars in their eyes’ equivalent I’d be walking through the curtain saying “tonight Matthew I’m going to be Milly Johnson”.

I first picked up one of her books just over a year ago – Here come the Girls. A book about four ordinary women who find themselves winning a luxury cruise. The emotional journey these ladies had been on bought me to tears in some places but Milly’s clever injection of humour into these events had me roaring with laughter too.

I picked up that first book by chance. I was standing in the bookshop looking for a Jill Mansal book, another favourite of mine, but was struggling to find one I hadn’t already read. I then spotted a book with an endorsement from Jill Mansell and decided to give it a go.

From that first book I was hooked. I have since read 5 more of Milly’s Books and enjoyed each one just as much as the first.

When I saw a tweet advertising Milly’s book launch only two hours drive away I decided I’d go. Beginning just a little excited to meet Milly I set off four hours before the launch was due to start thinking I’d grab some lunch in Nottingham before the launch started. It’s a good job I did as roadworks and traffic made the journey nearer to three and a half hours. Seeing the tiny red haired Milly walk towards me as I stood outside Nottingham library made the journey worth it, and she hadn’t even opened her mouth yet.

Once the gathered crowd were shown into the library Milly regaled us all with stories of how she became a writer, where she finds her inspiration and is as funny and entertaining in real life as she is on paper. Despite being someone who has sold millions of books across the world there were no aires or graces about her. She was wonderfully grounded and (I hate to use this word but) normal, in her own unique way. At the end of her talk she opened to floor for a Q&A session. I desperately wanted to ask her advise on a few bits regarding my own writing but realised I’d been listening to her speak so intently that I was hardly breathing and couldn’t actually get words to form in my mouth (a subconscious habit I find myself doing when excited or concentrating, in this instance it was both, a double whammy). I let a few people ask their questions first while doing a few, discreet, breathing exercises – this was my idol in front of me, I didn’t want to make a tit of myself by not being able to control my voice when I started talking to her. When I finally spoke to her she couldn’t have been any nicer or more helpful. – those of you who have been following my blog may have noticed that I’ve not been myself of late. I’ve been a bit down and had lost my enthusiasm. Well yesterday I found it. The pocket sized, red haired lass from Barnsley stoked the fire in my belly. She gave me back my umph. I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing again. But before I left I bought three more of Milly’s books. She was so generous with her time and signed all three. She chatted to me about my own writing while she was signing and took the time to have a selfie with me. I was like a star struck excited schoolgirl who’d had her book signed by Madonna! Milly was just as generous with every single person who went and spoke to her. A really Lady.

I know many people scoff at commercial literature believing it to be a lower class of reading material but I love it. I’d much rather curl up with a good chicklit of an evening than sit down and watch soap operas or reality TV. Many purists will think I’m a Neanderthal as I do bend the spins of books as I nuggle into a ball to read. I also fold the corners down on the pages marking my place in the book. I believe books should be enjoyed. There’s nothing better than getting completely immersed in a story, so much so you become completely unaware of your surroundings. If I’m concentrating on holding a book a certain way or thinking about where I put the bookmark I won’t get the full enjoyment. Milly’s books certainly help me escape reality. Her characters are so relatable I feel like I’m making new friends. I think I may need to go and buy second copies of the signed books I got yesterday so I can keep the signed ones looking tidy.

Time to stop chatting to you lovely lot and get on with writing my master piece.

Catch you all again soon. 😘🌺

Football may not be coming home but I am

I’ve just taken a plastic bulldog clip out of my bag and put it in my hair. Sand fell from the clip as I picked it up. I think it will take along time to get the sand out of all my things when I get home and even longer the get out of my mind.

Traveling without my friends and family is starting to take its toll. North wales is beautiful but it’s beauty can not outweigh the longing in my heart to be with the ones i love. Rather than easing the distance Face time conversations seem to make it even hard to think about staying.

I do want to continue my travels but not sure I want to do it anymore on my own.

I don’t see this as a failure. I set out to find out who I was while seeing some beautiful places. I haven’t yet found out who I am but I have discovered that I’m not as much of a loaner as I thought. Having people around me isn’t enough. I need my people around me. At home I can strike up a conversation with anyone standing in a queue at the shops, waiting rooms, I even strike up conversations people who phone for surveys or selling goods. While in New York with my eldest for her 21st birthday my daughter was horrified by the amount of people I spoke to “mum this is New York, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, you can’t just go up to people and talk to them”. My daughters often laugh saying I’ll talk to anyone anywhere. Well it seems they are wrong. It seems that I’m not as comfortable socialising without a comfort blanket. Whether that comfort blanket be in surroundings I know or the comfort of someone I know with me.

I’m not saying this is the end, far from it. Maybe after a short visit home I’ll ready to continue my solo travels or maybe not. Either way I know my journey to finding me has only just begun. I have learnt I’m a lot stronger than I thought but I’ve also learnt I don’t need to deal with things on my out or hide myself away because I have some amazing people in my life supporting me. It’s great realising I’m strong enough to do handle whatever life throws my way on my own but even greater knowing support is there when I want it.

Regardless of the football result this weekend Mammas coming home 🌺

#findingJosephine

Love the skin your in

Society tries to dictate the way we feel about ourselves, the things we do, The clothes we wear. More often than not the influences we see are negative. How often do you see posts that say “how to get a bikini body” “fashion for the older woman” or “how to make the best of your body shape”. These aren’t helpful positive messages. They plant seeds of doubt telling you you’re not good enough the way you are.

The way to get a bikini body is to put your body in a bikini, nothing more. Wear whatever the heck you like whatever age you are. The way to make the best of your shape it to love it no matter what shape you are. Because guess what? YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!

No matter what your age, whether you’re tall, short, wide or narrow, have thigh gaps or need a whole tub of Vaseline a week just to get your rubbing thighs through the summer without starting a bush fire, you are beautiful! The way we look, dress, style your hair should be about what makes us feel good not what we think we should do to conform to other people’s ideals.

Today I put my 45 year old hair in pigtails, put on my size 18 body in a bikini and strutted my funky stuff down the beach and didn’t care who saw me! As I ran past a group of 4 people in their early 20’s I overhear them make comments about my saggy stomach wobbling as I ran. At the time I just laughed but now I’m home I feel sad. Not for me but for them. They were trying to project the negative way they feel about themselves on me. If you are truly happy and living your best life then you don’t even see others “flaws” in other people or the perceived negativity and you don’t feel the need to comment on them.

I know I spent my entire 20’s and 30’s trying to conform to an ideal dictated to me by others. I listened to those comments that said I was too fat, too flabby, must hide my stretch marks. I cringe when I looked back and remember the times I thought I was too old for a certain fashion or style of clothes I wanted to wear! Too old in my 20’s!!!! I was caught up in the idea that being a young mum meant I needed to conform to a certain look, dress a certain way in order for other people to be believe I was a good mum! Seriously! As if by wearing a skirt that may have shown a bit of leg would have meant I’d suddenly give my children a packet of razor blades to play with on the side of the motorway! Sometimes I wish I could go back and shake to younger me by the shoulders and say “you’re doing great, stop worrying about what other people think and believe in you!” But I can’t. What I can do though is to show my children how to love themselves and hope that they learn long before I did.

Remember are beautiful just the way you are. Only words and actions can be ugly.

Throw away your negativity and live the life you want and love the body you are in. 🌺

#findingjosephine

#livingmybestlife

Fake it til you make it!

I’ve had 2 weeks back at “home” spending time with family and friends. It’s been wonderful seeing loved ones, I’m incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life. But it didn’t feel like home.

•My beautiful Furball has gone (I couldn’t bring myself to go in the garden to visit his grave. Although I did go to the back door numerous times to let him in thinking I could hear him outside playing).

•One of my daughters friends, who I don’t know, has moved in to help with the bills. They are very nice but still not what I’m used to in my home.

•My darling daughter has worked very hard and sorted out a lot of things in the house (she was bursting for me to spend time away from the house so she could get rid of things I’ve hoarded over the years). The house does look good but again doesn’t look like my home.

One of my visits while back was to visit my work colleagues. I only left 7 weeks ago yet in that time they have moved office, had a company restructure and employed 6 new people. For a company of only 20 employees that’s a huge jump!

My constants have changed!

I feel like Marty from Back to the Future after he returns home from his trip to the past. He’s returned home but it was all different. I expressed this to a friend who rightly pointed out that Marty himself had chanced after his trip and so will I. As that was my aim in taking this journey I shouldn’t really should suck it up and not complain. I just wasn’t prepare for the implications.

The same friend told me that they were pleased I’m so settled and happy with my life. Outwardly I smiled and replied “Darling you know me, fake it until you make it and hopefully one day you might believe your own BS”. But inwardly I was hurt that despite how close I thought we are they still don’t know me well enough to see through my facade. I’m still broken, still struggling and wish I had someone holding me together.

The conversation did make me wonder, if we put on such a show faking our happiness do we have a right to be upset when people can’t see our pain? Am I really that good an actor or does my friend just not care enough to look deeper? May be the better question is, Do I want them to care enough to look deeper? As nice as it would be sometimes to have support, to have someone hold us until the pain has gone away, we come out stronger if we do it on our own.

I really do need to get back on the road again – while home my daughter asked me if I was struggling being back because I suppressed my emotions while away? A fair question, but I think it’s more of a case that while away I don’t have any expectations. I don’t expect anything from strangers so therefore aren’t disappointed. It’s not other people’s behaviour that’s an issue it’s our expectations that cause the problem. We should fight for ourselves and be grateful for the friends and family we have, the things they do and not expect anything more.

Keep smiling my lovelies and if your heart isn’t smiling remember you can always fake it until you believe it. Shoulders back, head up, big smile, chest proud. Or as they say in the world of show business “tits and teeth darling, tits and teeth!”. And just remember chances are everyone else is faking it too. My experience has shown me the bigger the “jazz hands” the more a person is struggling. So be kind to yourself and one another 🌺

#FindingJosephine

Twitter Lost Josephine @Josephi95800076

Instagram Whoisjosphine9580