Dreams Really Do Come True

love you celine

Tuesday night a dream came true.  I fought back fear and was seated in the O2 arena, listening to what some have deemed the eighth wonder of the world: Celine Dion.  I say fought back my fear due to the recent terror attacks in London. I was debating with myself whether it was selfish of me to go. What if something did happen?  Having children has definitely made me more fearful. More fearful of everything.

I was very uneasy of leaving my children anyway, my youngest is not even 4 months and my eldest is old enough to know that I won’t be home for bedtime cuddles and kisses. Getting to the O2, the security was much more stringent than I remember and despite my earlier protestations my husband and I enjoyed a wonderful meal together prior to entering the actual arena. To be honest, I felt uneasy throughout the night and when we found our seats I couldn’t help but look for the nearest fire exit and wonder how many people could make it out of the arena safely.

It was not long until Celine’s supporting act entered the stage. I had not heard of Veronic DiCaire before but I hope this night was not the last time. She was beyond amazing and although I knew Celine was coming on stage as soon as Veronic completed her set, I was left wanting more. She reminded me a lot of Celine in her looks, the way she spoke (as a French/Canadian she had the exact same accent) and she definitely warmed the arena with her voice and her charm. Commenting on the recent terror attacks, she remarked on the British resilience with such feeling, I was left in tears. She remarked on the need to celebrate music and that was exactly what we did. Terrorism is more than how many people are killed (as heart-breaking as each death is) but how much fear they bring to our lives. They want us to stop living as we do and I am so glad that I refused to let them win.

Excitement was building when the time came for Celine to come on stage.  What seemed to be from out of nowhere she was there.  Although the concert tickets were sold out Celine Dion is able to make you feel she is performing to you only.  She converses with the crowd throughout the show with humour and compassion and you feel she is talking directly to you. It all seemed so natural and unrehearsed. There was no grand display on stage, or grand costume changes. It felt more about being there for one another rather than putting on a show with grand lighting effects.  My husband fortunately brought good seats, however towards the end of the show, Celine broke with protocol and walked off stage, through the crowd and sang the last song from a podium less than 15 feet away from where our seats were. Having an aisle seat meant that Celine walked straight past me. Most people had their phones up to their faces and taking pictures but I wanted to remember that moment.  The moment she looked at me and smiled. The moment I felt that she and I were the only two people in that arena.

She may be thirteen years older than me but I feel I can relate to her on so many levels, as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. We have both suffered the loss of a loved one through Cancer and know that grief is like the disease itself. You will forever be recovering rather than free from it. As she dedicated the song to the victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks, you could feel and hear the compassion she felt for everyone. 

celine-o2-2017

Celine Dion, despite her ‘diva’ status has no pretence in front of others, there was a moment when she was overcome with emotion during the concert. She is not shy at showing her feelings or at laughing and joking, even at herself. I feel I have walked away from the concert with a new friend. For me she is so relatable on so many levels as a person rather than a product that just happens to sing beautiful music. It was the memories of her singing at the O2 that helped me through soothing a feverish 4 month old to sleep in 33 degree heat while her older sister was crying for me to cuddle her. 

So many people say it is risky meeting your idols and that often our expectations do not meet the reality. Watching Celine at the O2 was reminiscent of seeing my daughter walking behind Elsa in the parade at Disneyland. Elsa spotted her and several times blew her kisses, made a heart and even sent her some magic. The look on my daughter’s face was unforgettable. Now I know how she felt. Reality did not meet expectations, it exceeded them. Not only that but I am determined to keep those feelings safely tucked away for times when I need to draw on them. Like last night.

It just goes to show that you never know the effect you have on people. In a similar fashion, you never know what is going on behind closed doors, behind the smiles that people portray.  That is why we must always be gentler with people, kinder and less inclined to judge them. I had always known that and have tried to put that in practice in my relations with other people, however it was watching Celine that bought it home for me. There is a reason that Celine Dion is as successful as she is, having a good voice is not enough. You need to be likeable. Relatable. Human. That is exactly what she is.

Celine

Opening image: my own

Second image: www.metro.co.uk

Closing image: blastingnews.com
Advertisements

The Silent Cry of Mothers

baby-fingers-motherWe  have seen a black US president, the UK is now governed under its second female prime minister, we have legalised same-sex marriages and depression and mental health issues are now beginning to come to the fore and slowly becoming less and less of a ‘dirty word’ attributed more to the unfortunate deaths of famous, well-known personalities than any form of social awareness.

Recently I have come across an article describing the unfortunate suicide of an acquaintance and a new mother. Rather than writing about her mental health issues and lack of medical support and diagnosis, sordid details of her death and her past have instead been published in detail in what I am presuming is a delusional act of raising awareness.

What puzzles me is why there was a need to report it so publicly online and via paper media ensuring that the details contained will remain within the public domain. She was not a public figure but a mother possibly battling the proven medical condition flippantly termed as the ‘baby blues’. Should her symptoms have been taken more seriously, she may still be here, watching her daughter grow.

Unfortunately there is such a fine line between the “baby blues” and post-natal/partum depression that many more women are suffering unnecessarily and in silence, particularly as it does not only affect ‘new mothers’. As with every disease, the longer it is left untreated, the worse it gets. The trouble is, those suffering from baby blues fear they have depression, and similarly those suffering from depression are not provided with sufficient care to have the mechanisms in which to manage their depression.

post-partum-depression

It has been proven by European scientists that pregnancy not only alters a woman’s body (sometimes permanently) but also introduces a chemical imbalance within a woman’s internal system that unfortunately also remains permanent, particularly if the new mother has a tendency for vulnerable thoughts and acts. In fact in just analysing the brain function of women, scientists were able to pinpoint which of the women were or had been pregnant and which had not. However, this was not mentioned in the article.

We need more social awareness of this condition following pregnancy and those entrusted with our care need sufficient knowledge and training in dealing with such symptoms. With regard to the sad and preventable story of my acquaintance to whom this blog post is dedicated, to have feelings of mental instability following the birth of her daughter and having previously been diagnosed with mental health issues but only being prescribed sleeping pills from her GP  is frankly a severe gross misconduct of care.

bad-momentsMore attention needs to be paid to the existence of post-natal depression so that new mothers are not living in fear of having their children taken away from them or being classed as bad mothers if they seek help. How long will it take before mothers will no longer be afraid to admit that motherhood is not a natural state for everyone? That it is a struggle and remains so for the rest of their lives? How many lives will have to be irrevocably changed before adequate measures are put into place? How many trashy, sordid and disrespectful articles will need to be written in the name of journalism, raking up feelings and hurting those left behind before a decent article is written that raises awareness of issues so many women face daily yet silently?

As a society we are proud of our changing attitudes to social issues yet depression and mental health issues remain on the back burner of our social conscience. It is as much a disease as Cancer yet sadly preventable if taken seriously and diagnosed properly. People should be treated as individual people. We should not be a tick boxing exercise and just because my acquaintance may not have had a troubling home life and had a secure and respectful job, does not mean that she was not depressed. Depression is not necessarily associated by external factors but is a mental health issue. A chemical imbalance. An unfortunate disease that can not be helped and is not the fault of the sufferer.

Due to the inadequate and thoughtless care from the medical profession and the insensitive, callous reporting, a little girl will have no memories of her mother and will grow up surrounded by the sordid details and may I say proven discrepancies of her mother’s death. If my acquaintance’s daughter reads anything concerning her mother’s death online years from now, I hope that it is this: your mother loved you and it was not your fault, neither was it hers. It was ours and I’m sorry.

Hands make heart shape

If you are experiencing feelings and emotions of post-natal depression or know someone who is, please do reach out for help.

The Samaritans 
Mind


Further reading:

www.bbc.co.uk

www.herviewfromhome.com


Opening image: www.abc.net.au

Second image: slideplayer.com

Third image: littlecackles.wordpress.com

Closing image: girlpowerhour.com

Dunblane, Twenty Years On.

Dunblane SnowdropsI was 14 years old on 13th March 1996 and to my memory in English class when we were told there had been a shooting at a primary school in Scotland in a village I had not heard of. At 14 years old, I could never really comprehend what had happened. I watched the news reports and read the newspaper articles and I brought the charity single which made it to number one in the charts. I never even thought to try and grasp how those mothers felt the following weekend on Mother’s Day.

The trouble with motherhood is that it makes you so much more vulnerable to feelings you never knew you could have. Every week day I hug my daughter and kiss her goodbye as I drop her off at nursery. I say goodbye to her teachers whom I trust with her care. As I walk past the window I look in and watch her for a minute or two, running around with her friends, playing dress-up or showing her teachers the clothes  and shoes she chose to wear that day.

I still after three months of her starting there, get butterflies as I sit in the car outside the school gates waiting to collect her and I hope I will never take for granted hearing her name being called at home time and having her showering me with kisses as I struggle to help her with her coat.

My 14 year old heart went out to all those families who lost their loved one that day but 20 years on, my heart as a mother is breaking for those parents at the school waiting for six hours for news of their children’s welfare, and then coming to terms with the news and having to live with it afterwards.

Not only did they carry themselves with dignity, but it is with thanks to those grieving parents that our gun control is as stringent as it is, with no further school shootings. Their political campaign in the midst of their grief makes their achievements all the more commendable. The killer was known to the police and yet had done nothing against the law up to the point of opening the door to that gymnasium twenty years ago today.

They campaigned so that our children will not need to be identified by the name tags on their clothes or by school photographs. They campaigned so that we will always hear our children’s names being called at home time and so that we could always sneak glances in the window and watch our children play.

Evil entered the school grounds on that day but in the end love prevailed and twenty years on that is what we should remember. We should remember the beautiful children, their teacher Mrs. Mayor and the love that returned from that gymnasium.

For the Bairns of Dunblane.

 

 Opening image: www.dailyrecord.co.uk

It Could Have Been Them

AylanKurdismileAylan Kurdi. A little boy not much older than my daughter. Aylan Kurdi. A little boy who puts everything into perspective. To many though Aylan Kurdi is a bad word.

He was a refugee.

Was.

Three year-old Aylan Kurdi was fleeing ISIS struck Syria with his mother, Rihan; father, Abdollah; and five-year old brother, Galib in the hope of reaching Canada to live with his aunt. The Kurdi family had reportedly attempted to apply for Canadian asylum but were denied due to incomplete documentation. In a desperate attempt to provide safety and solitude to his young family, Abdollah Kurdi entrusted their lives and hope for the future in the hands of human traffickers. In the end, Abdollah lost his wife and his two sons who drowned off Turkish waters.

We have all read those tabloid articles blaming refugees for all our society’s problems. For our unemployment, for the faults in our benefit systems, for our lack of school places. I can hear the echoes of all the misconceptions and misjudgements around refugees. There is so much talk and debate on how to curb the immigrant numbers but not much talk and debate on how to solve the issue. On how to bring peace to the regions.

Several times my mother mentioned Aylan Kurdi and the image of him on that Turkish beach. I didn’t want to know and even said as such. I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to leave my sheltered ignorance. The news of the Syrian refugees were always a comfortable distance away and although I was sympathetic, did I really care? Probably not – I was too busy worrying about the dinner or my daughter’s schedule and playdates.

Was 

As I write this my daughter is curled up in her bed with her favourite star blanket and her growing collection of stuffed animals. She will wake to a peaceful world. In fact peace is all she knows. Unlike Aylan Kurdi.

It could have been her. 

We are all appalled at the events of WWII and the Holocaust and so often ask why no one did anything. Why so many people were bystanders. Until now, is that not what we have done? Just yesterday, David Cameron has pledged that Britain will accept ‘thousands’ more Syrian refugees in response to the humanitarian crisis. We are so desensitised that it took the image of a little three-year old boy washed up on shore for our government to take action and our nation to care? As long as it doesn’t affect us, we turn a blind eye, we turn the page or we change the channel, instead of trying to help.

My parents were refugees fleeing the Iranian Revolution and I have so often heard stories of bullets whizzing past them. My mother remembers what it was like to have young children during a volatile time and the fear she felt for her family’s safety.

It could have been them.

Aylan and Galip never got to start a new school term, they never got to put on shiny new shoes. Their parents never got the chance of dropping them off and waiting for their return at the bus stop. Maybe if we stayed on the page and we didn’t turn the channel, maybe, just maybe it could have been them.

epa04910104 Washed up body of a refugee child who drowned during a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, at the shore in the coastal town of Bodrum, Mugla city, Turkey, 02 September 2015. At least 11 Syrian migrants died in boat sank after leaving Turkey for the Greek island of Kos. EPA/DOGAN NEWS AGENCY ATTENTION EDITORSgraphic content ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT ; TURKEY OUT

Allah Yarhamak, Little One. Rest in Peace.

The Guardian lists many ways we can help, some of which does not include donating money.  I am ashamed that I didn’t want to know. These words I have written seem so feeble and insignificant yet as a writer, words are my weapon. I no longer want to be a bystander and I no longer want to stop caring. We can do something. We can give money, we can donate, we can at least listen to their story. Then just maybe Aylan’s little life would not have been in vain.

Opening image: The Week
Closing image: cloudmind.info

The Fragility of Life

Fragility-of-lifeOver a week has now passed since the devastating death of Mrs. Ann Maguire in Corpus Christi College in Leeds. Stabbed to death by her 15-year-old pupil in front of students as she assisted in preparing the students for their upcoming GCSE exams later this month. She was so dedicated she had come into work on her day off. Having taught at the school for 40 years, she has inspired three generations of pupils. The outpouring of grief following her death is palpable. As a 33-year-old I can not understand it so I can not even comprehend how her 15-year-old students are coming to terms with her death. Although I have had the unfortunate stain of grief forever etched onto my soul, I am grateful that it is not through the hatred and violence of someone else. To say that my thoughts and heart go out to her family and friends goes without saying. How they are coping with this with such composure and dignity is beyond me. There is also the other family to consider here. The family of the killer who now have to live with the knowledge that their loved one was capable of such actions.

Despite this, the death of Ann Maguire is not in vain. At the very least it has proven that teachers do matter and not all teenagers are the uncaring, apathetic species they are made out to be. To think that a teenager organised a fundraiser in her memory to which more than 200 students and their families attended proves that point.

balloons003

It is only natural to look for answers as to why but there is only one person who can answer and that is the 15-year-old who wielded the knife. It is no good to blame the rock music he listened to, I listen to rock music and have done so throughout my teenage years but that did not possess me to such actions. I was not exactly the most popular student in my school either and violent video games are not the answer. We are all in disbelief at how anyone can commit such an act of hated and violence, let alone a child and it is only natural to point the finger and find blame somewhere.

As I held my daughter in my arms tonight I had a much deeper respect for life. I remember holding my new-born daughter in my arms 17 months ago and swearing that I would protect her from all harm. I knew deep down that would be impossible but the mixed emotions of becoming a mother for the first time convinced me that it was indeed possible. Rocking her to sleep tonight and watching her eyes grow heavy as her little fingers played with the loose strands of my hair made me fear so much for the future. I fear that I will not be able to protect her from hurt and pain. I feel what the mothers of Mrs. Maguire’s students must feel right now.

Life is so desperately fragile and can be taken in an instant. Ann Maguire is an inspiration to all teachers out there. She is a reminder that you all make a difference to lives. She is a reminder that exam results are not always the most important thing. It is how you make people feel. Mrs. Maguire has inspired me to grab life with both hands. To hold my loved ones that little bit tighter and to whisper those three words that little bit louder.

Rest in peace Mrs. Ann Maguire.

Maguire shirts

Opening image: Wendy Alexander
Second image: BBC
Closing image: BBC

Celebrating National Libraries Day

One of my most exciting memories was the time I progressed from Junior to Teenager in my local library. I remember looking forward to my weekly trip to the library with my father, losing myself in the rows and rows of books. I would come home and lay the books across the living room floor and show my parents one-by-one each book that I chose. I would rest my head on my father’s shoulder and read my library books one by one in the evenings. I would carry all of them around with me, not just the one that I was reading at the time.

I would sometimes be left in the library while my parents went shopping, safe in the knowledge that surrounded by books, they would find me exactly in the same place where they left me. (Apart from the time the library closed during lunchtime and I was told by the librarian to wait in the street for my parents to return. My mother was flabbergasted and didn’t leave me in the trusting care of books again…)

Visiting a library was not always a comfortable experience for me. In toilet training me, my mother would give me a book to read in order to keep me still. All well and good until I began visiting the library and in similarly to Pavlov’s dog, needed to visit the little girl’s room more or less as soon as I set foot in the building! Fortunately for me (and the library staff) this has now passed, more through self-determination and willpower than anything else!

I can’t quite describe the feeling I have when I now walk into a library. I’m reminded of the trips I used to have with my father. I’m reminded of my innocent care free childhood. National Libraries Day is on 4th February (incidentally my father’s 70th birthday) and our libraries need us more than ever. With the threat of Internet sites such as Amazon (a regular haunt of mine), libraries are becoming increasingly threatened. They need to be saved. Researching for my children’s book at the local library reminded me that I’m not the only child who was (and still is) book obsessed. I have visited the children’s section of my library on several occasions and have smiled at the younger children sprawled on the floor reading with their parents, the older children laid back on bean bags. They were even there longer than me, last weekend one child didn’t even want to leave when it was time to go to Grandma’s. Times have not changed and I don’t think they ever will. I even want them to. Libraries are needed just as much now as eighteen years ago when I first set foot into the teenager’s lair.

Books aside, libraries are needed to maintain and in some cases rebuild communities. It is a chance for people to come together through reading time, parent and toddler group even tai chi. It is a chance for writers to engage with their readers and readers to engage with writers. Not long ago my husband took me to the largest bookshop in Europe, I was beside myself with excitement. It had five floors and I examined each floor thoroughly, yet I walked out empty-handed. I was in absolute heaven as I picked many books up, scanned the backs, skimmed the pages, smelt the pages even but I returned them to their shelves again and again. Set me loose in a library however and I will come away with my arms full. Maybe the fact that the books are free to learn from and to experience, I am more open to choosing them. Following this excursion my husband brought me £20.00 worth of Amazon credit to buy books with. This was at least two months ago and I’m still choosing which books to buy.

My ask of you is to visit your library tomorrow on National Libraries Day. Join a library. Take a book out, a DVD or even a CD. Check out the communities bulletin board. Take your children. Learn something new. A language or a musical instrument. Learn to love your library!

The End of the Beautiful Game

It is not often that I agree with politicians these days but I am proudly standing side by side with David Cameron today about the ridiculous ‘poppy ban’ that FIFA have placed on the England football team. To consider the wearing of a poppy as a political statement is absolutely absurd. FIFA might as well ban the singing of the national anthems before each game if they are so concerned with political neutrality. The wearing of a poppy is an act of respect for those who have given up their lives for freedom. Our freedom.

A statement released from FIFA state that allowing the players to wear poppies on their football shirts will open the way for similar initiatives across the world, thereby endangering the apparent neutrality of football. If that is the case and the ban continues, will that not open the way for further initiatives? What other ban will there be? Are we going to ban Christmas because it is a religious holiday and may offend non-Christians? What about Halloween with its pagan origins? What if Christians claimed to be offended, would the holiday be banned too?

If they are to have a one minute silence before the game, thereby ‘forcing’ Spain to do the same – how different is it to wearing a poppy?  Does FIFA not care that the British population will be offended by the ban? That the servicemen and women will not be offended? What about the families who have lost their loved ones in our country’s fight for freedom?

I have German members of my family who are not offended in the slightest by me wearing a poppy. My husband is Iranian and he wears his poppy with pride, as did my father. My husband even travelled to Iran wearing his poppy. His Iranian and German family were not offended by this but interested, impressed, respectful.

The wearing of a poppy and the observance of Remembrance Day is ingrained in the British psyche. Following the atrocious summer riots in London (which were broadcast across the world), how can FIFA take away a reason to be proud of our country? I would not be offended if the Germans publicly remembered their war dead. Why should they not be given a human right to do so? Why are our rights continually taken away from us?

In banning the poppy, FIFA has made it a political symbol. Football used to be called The Beautiful Game, it’s such a shame that FIFA has now destroyed that. In World War One when the guns stopped, the ‘beautiful game’ bought England and Germany together side by side. FIFA has now weakened the bridge that was built that day. The only way to strengthen it is to release the ban. To give us our freedom back… Lest we forget.

 

Previous Older Entries