Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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Oh life 14.09.2018

Friday, September 14th, 2018

I am midway through doing my makeup on this Friday morning. Hair wet, old California baggy jumper on (looking on fleek) but I couldn’t wait any longer to put what has been buzzing about in my brain for a few weeks into words.

This next bit will be hard to write. Shouldn’t have started my makeup yet… Here goes.

On the 22nd of July 2018 my lovely, beautiful Grandma passed away in her bed surrounded by her three loving daughters, my dad and my uncles. She left this world surrounded by love. And my god she was well loved. She is still loved.

Okay that was the hard bit to write. I think.

I still cannot believe she is not with us anymore. I have thought of her everyday since. She is constantly in my mind. Her warm face. Her super soft hands holding mine. Her warm lavender and pink cardigans and her wonderful body shop white musk smell (a body mist my sister would always buy her for birthdays) Gosh I miss that smell.

Emotion is such a huge part of life. It is how we connect with others. Sometimes it is uncontrollable. Sometimes people have trouble expressing it. I have no trouble. I cry at literally everything.

My Grandma’s funeral was an emotionally draining day. I still feel drained from it even now. Correction it was a ‘Celebration of life’. Her life. That sounds more uplifting doesn’t it? What a life she had. A long life filled with years surrounded by family, knitting and love. I spoke at her celebration of life. It felt right to. I would have regretted not saying how much of an impact she had on my life. Through tears and several pauses of not physically being able to get the words out, I managed to read the letter I had written to her. I think it is the one public speaking occasion where you are allowed to be a blubbering mess and not really look at anyone. I did it for her.

Death is devastating. Something we cannot control and that is inevitable for all of us. Sorry that sounded very morbid… but it is isn’t it? I have had a lot of thoughts recently about life and how preciously short it can be. How we can be here one day and gone the next. Just like that. My Nan was a part of our weekly lives. We would have endless meet ups at her little flat and eventually at the home she was welcomed into. I wouldn’t have done anything differently and I am so honoured to have known this strong, independent woman. To now not have that connection with her is upsetting to say the least.

My hair is currently air drying into a bush. Nan would not be impressed! Must apply makeup and sort out the birds nest on my head before I continue…

**Time passes**

Okay…hair and makeup done. Where was I…

So I wanted to write this post about life. Its a funny thing. That is what has been buzzing around my head of recent. How strange life is. How we are here, how we live, how we die. If we were to really think about all of it I think our minds would explode. My mind keeps going to a place. A place where I don’t really want it to go. I keep thinking of my Nan just before she died. What she would have seen, how she would have felt. At peace? I hope that was part of how she felt. My Mum and Aunties had placed a photo of my Grandad and Nanny in front of her so she could look at him. I can’t imagine it. That final release of life. That is such a huge moment. As huge as it is to enter this world. It all leads up to that moment. Everything is let go of and yet remembered and held on to. Loved ones, memories. That is life. That is what is important. How you live it, what sort of person you grow into, who you surround yourself with. This is what will fill your heart.

I have begun to appreciate beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I always think skies with huge stormy clouds and bright orange and yellow sun beams can look very God-like. I am mostly in my car speeding along when I am looking at these sunrises, heading to work at stupid o’clock in the morning. Aretha Franklin blearing out from my speakers and the cold mist hanging over the rolling hills near my house, the warm glow of the sun greets me most mornings and makes me think of my Nan. Hoping that she is witnessing these beautiful views from wherever she is. I think how lucky I am to be in the position I am in. I don’t have a lot of money (no surprise there being an artist!) but the love that surrounds me from the people I have in my life means much more to me than I could ever put into words. I cannot stress enough the importance of seeing people that are important to you. Or telling them that you love them. This isn’t going to last forever. So why wouldn’t you say it.

My attitude towards life has changed so much in the past few years. I totally get the fact we are all on our own journey and we are not going at too slower pace of too faster pace. We are going at our own pace, and if that makes you happy then my god you should keep doing what you are doing. I know life can be no plain sailing, I don’t think it ever is for anyone. We all face battles, some are luckier than others. How you deal with those battles can shape who you are and how you will be remembered. I could have a lot of money and be in a well paid job but I might not be who I am as a person now. I am proud of who I am and how I approach life. It is my approach and it might not be the same as yours or others but it works for me and I can actually say (on the whole excluding some emotional moments!) I am happy. I am alive and living life as best I know how.

I feel I have said a lot in this post. The idea for it has been creating thoughts in my head of what I could say for a couple of months and I haven’t felt ready to type it out or write it down until now. I will probably go away from this and realise I have left something out or forgotten something about my Nan I have wanted to say so may be adding more to it later. But at this moment in time I am glad to have shared these thoughts with you and I hope you can take something away from these words. (If you are still reading thank you for sticking with me!) I want these posts to be about subjects I really care about and think a lot about, as I do think an awful lot!

So I will end this post by raising my well loved ‘moo’ mug full of tea and saying ‘Cheers everybody’ as my lovely Nan always used to do. This is it. This is life. So we better start living it.

Thanks for reading x

 

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Mental health 05.06.2018

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

After having never really understood mental health I feel nowadays it is becoming more socially accepted to actually talk about it and for people to admit they have mental health issues, I believe the more we can talk about it the more we can help those who are suffering and to let them know they are not alone.

I use to work with someone that committed suicide quite a few years ago. I won’t go into details but at the time, of course it was awful. It was such a gut wrenchingly sad way for him to leave this world. He suffered with depression and in the end I think it all got too much. Suicide seems to be a very private, personal moment that I know some people will think of as selfish. I believe those who choose to take their own life to have huge courage. Such a huge decision for someone to make. It is beyond words.

I have this vivid memory of him striding down the street, long twenties style overcoat floating in the wind, being carried along swiftly by his long legs. I always thought he looked as though he had been born in the wrong era. Maybe in another era he would’ve found the happiness he wanted, but whos to know. I didn’t want this post to be solely about suicide. It is a massive subject which I find myself thinking about sometimes. I just wanted to touch on it as male suicide has had a lot of press recently and it’s comforting to know that it is being spoken about. Not just suicide but any side of mental health. I have watched a lot of mental health youtube videos recently, I have read about it a lot on social media too so I just wanted to write a few words about my view on it and also for those who are feeling low or stuck in a rut I have a few tips that I have put together in the hope it might help at least one person.

I have never really thought of myself as someone who struggles with mental health. All my life I have just put up with how I feel and got by as best I could. I find it hugely refreshing that mental health is spoken about much more freely these days, which I feel is the future. I think I do suffer with it but I can control it. I think we all suffer with it in some form. I am so grateful for where I am and I have worked hard to become who I am. It has taken a lot of blood, sweat and definitely a lot of tears… If you think about it the mind is such a hugely powerful thing. Which I think some of us just cannot control sometimes. I am by no means an expert on depression or mental health these are just my thoughts and findings but I understand it can be completely complex and different for everyone.

Now the following tips unfortunately might not be able to help someone suffering with depression, I will try and list some organisations that I have heard of at the bottom of this page for anyone looking for professional help, but for those who cannot seem to shift a low mood I have a few pointers that have helped myself out when I am at a low point. I actually decided on these tips after being in a funk this morning – my mood has improved since doing a few of these so I thought I would share. Here goes…

Play some music…loudly

Okay yes, do keep the neighbours in mind but nothing makes me feel better than turning on some of my favourite music loud and singing at the top of my voice. Music has always been a great escape for me and I have always preferred it loud. I have only in the past couple of years really started to appreciate music and what it can do for the soul… what got me going today was Aretha Franklin (with the royal philharmonic orchestra)

Have a shower

Get clean, get dressed, do your hair and make up, put on your favourite outfit. Make you look like you. I can’t recommend the shower enough. It is an uninterrupted 10 minutes of your day where you can just have a moment to yourself. Shave your legs, armpits even your nether regions if it makes you feel fresh then do it I say! You will feel much better afterwards. Instant refresh.

Go for a drive

What did I do before I drove? Now I get in my car and just drive, sunroof down (watch out for any build up of rain water…no? Just me then!) Music, again, loud but sensible loud you know? The freedom of driving is enough to lift anyones spirits. If you don’t drive, get out for a walk (I should really do that more…) plug in your headphones and just walk, around your local town or village or into the countryside. There is something to be said about being in nature. Fresh air, birds singing and bees a buzzing. There is nothing better than being near nature. It is good for the soul.

Talk 

To family, friends, someone at work. If you are having a tough day chances are someone will be able to cheer you up or put some words of wisdom your way. Everyone has their tough days so you will be rare to find someone that has never had something hard to deal with. Share with others. We are different in our own ways but it is amazing how similar we can feel, it is something we will never realise if we don’t pipe up.

Hug someone

Okay maybe not a total stranger but a loved one, a good friend someone you work with. Human contact is hugely important in day to day life. Putting your arms around someone can be a huge comfort. A physical act of kindness to make someone feel loved and appreciated. Isn’t that what we all want?

Pret a manger

Okay this one might just be for me, and of course there are other food and drink chains available but come on! Get down to your local Pret, if you have never been before what have you been doing with your life…? If I can’t tempt you then check out their instagram here.

If Pret is not your scene (btw their soya lattes are boss) treat yourself to your favourite food, chocolate bar or buy some new clothing or a new plant. Something small that will make you smile. It really is the little things.

Change your scene

Even if it is just out into the garden, a change of scenery can go a long way. Or you can. Getting head space from whatever is troubling us can help hugely.

Step away from the social media

We are all guilty of it. Scrolling endlessly through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and comparing our lives to others. Stop. This is something I never seem to learn. I think if social media was in our lives less we would all benefit from it. But unfortunately it seems to be here to stay. Step away from it, when you are feeling low, and do something different. Read a book, go out for a coffee or dance in your pants just escape from it as much as you can. Social media is like marmite, I love it but it can get sticky and consume everything in its path.

Of course it is easy for me to write these tips down, actually putting them into practise is another thing entirely and something I struggle with too when I am feeling low. Life isn’t meant to be rosey all the time. We are meant to have difficulties and our low days so that we really appreciate the good days and the good moments. Its a battle I feel I am constantly fighting, reminding myself everyday how lucky I am to be who I am and to have the people in my life that I do and to have my health. It is a constant work in progress.

I realise too these tips won’t simply cure depression. Even though I wish it could be that simple. If you are suffering with mental health the best advice I can give you is to seek out help. Talk. Talk to anyone that will listen. It is the first step to take. Here are a few helpful links;

The NHS website has a huge list of helpful links here

Mind is an amazing mental health organisation.

Anixety is also a huge part of mental health which I haven’t really touched on but here is a useful link for anyone suffering with this.

If you know of any other useful organisations please leave a comment below so that others that might read this can follow any other links.

I hope these ramblings have been of some comfort for you if you are going through a difficult time. Please comment below with your views or experiences, lets start a discussion.

Thanks for reading. Wigmore out.

 

 

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Be kind to yourself 30.04.2018

Monday, April 30th, 2018

I know it has been over a month since my last post…have you noticed?? Maybe not… but for those who have I am back. I have finally got my bum into gear and have made time to create. I think it has been where I have been going wrong all these years. I have never made time for my artwork. I have worked, non stop since I was 17. Always earning, making money to pay for rent or food, just about getting by but never actually making time for what I want to be doing.

I love making other people happy, maybe that is why I am best suited to customer service…but doing this can take its toll. So this post is a sort of update/chat about life and how I am trying to be good to myself, to be kind.

I am very fortunate in the fact that I have a recently new advantage at the moment. I have a partner who is supporting me whilst I am creating new content. Some for my website, some for me, some for potential clients. I have never had this opportunity before, to actually have a couple of days where I sit down and just draw. Seems the most simplest thing in the world right? But to actually have an allotted time to do this has been unknown to me. Never before have I been left alone for the day to focus on my artwork. I feel it is a real chance to discover my style, which I am evolving everyday.

So I should probably explain since the middle of April I have cut down my hours at work (part time barista part time wannabe illustrator) so I now have extra days to myself to create. It seems blindingly obvious now but I have never thought to do this before. Perhaps because I needed to earn money in my early twenties to live which I think anyone will agree was fair enough.

I am writing to do lists for the first time in my life. I have always kept everything in my head and worked through it somehow, probably missing things off that were forgotten along the way. I am finding such pleasure in crossing things off these lists daily, and actually getting shit done!

This freedom has seen my creative block disappear, which I have previously written about, and a new found confident illustrator appear. I now have a bright orange notebook for lists, creative processes and ideas to be jotted down in.  It is becoming invaluable to me. Now if I am ever stuck for ideas I consult my orange notebook, it has all the answers.

I am listening to A LOT of podcasts, I have a new found love for Desert Island Discs (I know, its okay I am 30 next year..!) listening to greats like Dawn French, Dustin Hoffman even Russell Brand has been hugely inspiring for me. I feel like I am learning more than I ever have sat at my desk hunched over a drawing laughing (or crying…) at a podcast. I would highly recommend a listen to anyone. They can be a huge comfort and listening to the stories can be fascinating. Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy Place’ has also become a favourite of mine. She interviews more greats such as Stephen Fry and Gok Wan. Listening to other peoples life experiences is massively up lifting. To know that these famous individuals that we look up to and that have sort of ‘made it’ if you like have also had heartaches in their lifetime.  I can feel my life and processes becoming enriched due to listening to these podcasts.

I am making a conscience effort to be kind to myself. The podcasts are a good start. Eating well is also important (poached egg on toast in the morning, thank you very much). Cups of tea are important and of course that first cup of coffee in the morning. Enjoyment in the moment is just as important as the work we do.

One day we will be out of time, so make the time now.

Be kind to yourself.

Thanks for reading.

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Chocolate free for March 01.03.2018

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

So the title of this blog post may shock you. I know. No chocolate for a whole month…am I mad??

Sort of, but there is method in my madness. It all started with me scrolling through instagram one day, when I came across a post for the British Heart Foundation. Dechox, a chocolate free month to raise money. I thought, this could be interesting…I am a huge lover of chocolate. I eat it everyday (all day if I could!) I love the stuff, so I started thinking what better way to spend March than to give up chocolate…keeping in mind, it’s my birthday, it’s Matthews’ birthday and we are heading to Brighton this month, home to the Original Choccywoccydoodah cafe and shop…also it is the start of Easter – at the end of March granted but I have no doubt heading into any local supermarket there will be chocolate – EVERYWHERE!

So you might be wondering why I am doing this. Well, I am breaking the rules slightly…even though the British Heart Foundation is fab and the work they carry out is amazing, top charity. I want to raise money for something that is a little closer to my heart (pardon the unintentional pun…)

Back in 2002 my lovely Mum, Ann, was diagnosed with skin cancer. I was quite young when she was diagnosed so I don’t really remember much from that time. I remember visiting her at The Royal Marsden hospital in London (top place, they looked after her extremely well) Mum was in a nice light room on her own in bed next to a window where you could look out and see all the rooftops (it’s funny what you remember…) It was here where she had all her lymph nodes removed at the top of her leg to stop the cancer from spreading. It worked. Mum made a full recovery and has surpassed her 10 year remission. She still suffers, because she has no lymph nodes in her leg she gets a build up of fluid, Lymphedema. It is kept at bay with compression stockings and massages but I know some days are more difficult than others for her. At the time of Mum being diagnosed the impact it had on us as a family was devastating, we were very fortunate. I feel very lucky to still have my Mum, she is a huge part of my life. She is strong and doesn’t let anything get her down. I admire her and my Dads courage, to raise a family and cope with whatever life throws at you.

I will be raising money for Cancer Research uk. I will be doing it for my Mum and for those who have suffered or are suffering. I know it will not cure the disease but it is my little bit, my showing of appreciation for the fact that my Mum is still here.

If you have a spare moment and would like to sponsor me through this month, I have set up a Giving Page…

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/bethanys-giving-page-39

Any donation big or small will be hugely appreciated. I will undoubtedly be updating you on my progress through blog posts and instagram so watch this space.

Thank you.

Wigmore out.

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Team Mazza 22.01.2018

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Today I wanted to talk a bit about my lovely Nan. If I manage to get through writing this post without crying I shall be very surprised! I will try my best…

So Marion Hodges, my mum’s mum, is currently at the grand age of 94! and still going strong I might add. She has been moved recently to a care home in Oxfordshire. I try to visit her once or twice a week, working full time it can sometimes be difficult to see her. I like to make the time though. She use to live in a little flat by herself which she loved – independence is her thing. She had a few falls and it was getting difficult to look after her with the help of carers also, so the decision was made a couple of years ago to move her into a care home where she could be looked after full time.

I get the feeling that in this country some of our elderly are not as well cared for as we would like to think. My Nan has lived in two care homes so far and the care has been reasonable. She has her good and bad days like we all do, and for 94 she does extremely well. I think we take independence for granted when we are younger. Myself and my family can just walk out of the care home, get into our cars and speed off. My nan can’t go anywhere. Imagine that? Stripped of your independence in the blink of an eye. I want to be there for her, visiting her and holding her hand. So she knows we are all in this together. We are here for her. The first thought you have for someone you love is the want to protect them from all the evils of this world. (Tears are a-falling already…) I think if anyone has any grandparents or parents in that position all we want for them is the best care going. I believe no matter what the circumstance this is what they should receive. They are still human beings after all!

You hear all sorts of horror stories of care homes that mistreat their residents, thankfully my nan so far has been cared for reasonably well. It has taken a few weeks of adjusting but her new home seems to make her happy. She was even singing the other day which is certainly a good sign. Everyone is very friendly and the atmosphere is much more positive. My mum is really close to my nan, just like I am with my mum. For as long as I can remember it has been a weekly thing where we would meet up as a family at my nans (wherever she may be!) with aunties and sometimes cousins. My nan always loves and appreciates the visits. I think she looks forward to them especially now. My mum will visit her two or three times a week. I love watching them together, holding hands or chatting about the old days. My mum will wash my nans hair every week. I love the care my mum will take shampooing and blow drying nans curly locks. I help in the background passing things to my mum and holding the towel for nan. You can see the love that my mum has for her mum. It is definitely apparent.

Often said by my nan “I do appreciate my girls” her three daughters and all her grandchildren mean everything to her. They have looked after and cared for her for over thirty years now. Nan believes that family and your loved ones are the most important things.

I cried the first time I visited my nan in her new care home. It was a build up of emotions I think. It was like it was her first day of school, she kept asking where all her things were and she was worried about money. Was this her home now, where her room was. We are a family of worriers, clearly, I can see where I get it from! She is an incredibly strong lady that has coped with a lot of heart ache in her life. I do admire and look up to her absolutely, I love the bones of her. I cannot imagine how hard it is for her, to loose her independence and to be put somewhere with people she does not know. I would love to scoop her up and take her away from it all. I think that is why I got so emotional when we went to leave on our first visit to her. We parked her up in her wheelchair next to a lovely lady called Queenie. I hugged and kissed nan goodbye with tears in my eyes. Queenie (who we later discovered is blind in one eye) grabbed my mums arm, we were all a bit emotional! And said “don’t worry we will look after her” those words, that lady has no idea how comforting they were to hear. Since then Queenie and my nan have been inseparable. I visited today and they were laughing and joking together, holding hands, and Queenie kept saying she was glad that they have become friends. It was so lovely and comforting to see.

Getting old is hard. In fact at all stages of your life things can be difficult. Even when you are 94 you are still having to fit in, talk to new people and find yourself as a 94 year old. As long as my nan is happy that is all I can hope for. She sat today with a cup of tea in one hand and a piece of cake in the other (of course), holding her teacup high she said “cheers everybody” to all around her. Something she has always done with whatever beverage she has to hand. Whether it be a cup of tea or a cheeky Baileys back in the day!

If you are reading this I urge you to go and see your grandparents. Life can be very lonely at times. Just to sit with them and hold their hand. To be a comfort to them. It could mean more to them then you will ever know.

As for my nan, I really do believe there is life in her yet.

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