Hello and Welcome

This community is a place to find support as we encourage each other to live our most authentic lives. We’re going to take a journey to return home.

Returning to the person we were before life got in the way. We know we can’t do anything about some external factors and impacts, but we can shift our lives incrementally each day towards where we want to be.

With incremental course correction, we’ll realign with ourselves. Listening to our intuition to build a solid foundation of strength and joy.

If you’re ready to start living your authentic journey, let’s go!

The pet I’ll never forget

The Grauniad are running a nice series of people sharing about the pets they’ll never forget. As soon as I started reading, I knew I’d have to put my twopenn’orth in.

I’ve lived with cats all my life, please note – none of their names are used as passwords!

Susie was the first one, a black and white longish haired cat that my parents gave a home to when her owners emigrated. She used to sit under my pram or baby bouncer, was forever getting in the coal hole (I’m that old), would climb out the bathroom window to sleep on the sill, on the second story of our house. She lived a long and happy life.

Sooty came next, I wanted to call her Midnight, but Sooty was her name and the only thing she answered to. She was a rehome from the Cats Protection League. I can still remember Mum and Dad opening the cardboard box at my grandparents’ house and her jumping out. She was beautiful, would forget what she was doing in the middle of washing herself, see picture below. My brother and I could have a couple of biscuits in bed over the weekend, anything to help our parents lie in a bit, I used to put my two under my pillow, as you do. Sooty would wait for me to give her bits of the biscuits to eat when they’d softened up a bit. She also lived a long and happy life, but struggled with polyps in her ears. She had a couple of surgeries to help, but when the vet suggested to remove her entire ear canal to stop them growing back, I made the decision to have her put to sleep. That was a surgery too far. We took her to be buried at my Grandparents’ house, as they used to look after her when we went on holiday.

Beaky arrived while we had Sooty, she was advertised in the newsletter at Mum’s work as being free to a good home, otherwise she’d be euthanised. Mum decided there and then that was not on, so sent Dad to get her on his way back from work one day via Brighton. She yowled so badly in the box on the passenger seat on the way home, Dad opened it to put his hand in. Beaky spent the rest of the trip back paws on the box, front paws on the dashboard looking out the windscreen. She was our first tortie, and got her name from the orange patch down her nose which made her look like an owl. She was Dad’s cat through and through and tolerated the rest of us. We took her to the vet when she was licking her belly clean of fur, to be told she needed HRT. We struggled daily to get the tablet down her, until Dad dropped it on the floor one night, and she just ate it. From there on, he’d come home from work, open the packet, drop the tablet on the floor, she’d eat it.

I moved out of home, moved back, moved out, moved back. In and out like a fiddler’s elbow. On one longer stay at home, I went to the Cats Protection League and asked for a female cat, the house felt odd without having a cat charging around. I went to a foster home that had a whole series of pens in their garden. Only one female cat was there; as I walked in to one oversized rabbit hutch I squeezed past a male British Blue kitten. Then I met Fluffy. She clung onto me like I was a life-raft, refusing to let go as I reversed my way out the hutch. I took her home, opened the box and she fell in love with Dad. We didn’t know that she’d been rehome from someone who lived almost directly behind us. They found her in their nursery, sleeping in the cot. They were worried about her sleeping with the baby, so surrendered her. One night, Fluffy went to visit them, almost like to say ‘I’m just over there, and I’m OK.’ She was another black cat, fluffy, like her name would suggest.

I moved out again. I got married, we rehomed Branston and Pickle from another branch of the Cats Protection. They were tiny, Branston used to curl up in a six-egg carton. When she’d outgrown it, she would push it around the floor as it made a good sound. Both were torties, Pickle was white with patches of colour, Branston the whole tortie shebang. My first husband was in the Army, so we moved a lot. Branston wasn’t fazed, but Pickle couldn’t cope with it and was really stressed. It broke my heart to rehome her, but she found the stable home she needed. When the marriage imploded, I went to live with Mon Bears, who had a house rabbit. Not wanting to come downstairs one day to find a pair of ears and a tail on the floor, I asked Mum and Dad to look after Branston until I’d got myself back on my feet again. She promptly decided she was now Dad’s cat. They got a pet passport for her, and took her all over Europe camping as they went from kite festival to kite festival. She would travel happily around, secure under the caravan and wherever Dad was. I went back to the UK for my brother’s 40th birthday. (That was a palaver in itself, I’ll put the blog post up under Revisited and link to it). I opened the door to their house, called out ‘Branston’ and she came flying down the stairs. A few months later, she woke both my parents up in the middle of the night with a yowl; made sure they were both there and slipped away.

Dad’s decline into Alzheimer’s sees him asking about where the cat has gone, wondering where she is, why did Mum get rid of her. It’s heartbreaking for both of them.

Then we get to the real reason moggie for this post. But I need to stop typing for a bit.

OK, I’m back.

Chief Brody was another rescue. We went to the Cats Protection League in the town we lived in with our son, who was 18 months old. I wanted to get a kitten he could grow up with. They only had two kittens in; it was the tail end of the season, but we’d been interstate over Christmas and wanted to get the cat when we’d got back home. There was another couple walking through on the left side of the room, we opened the door and got yelled at by an indignant medium haired champagne tabby on the right side of the room. As he climbed up the cage to get to us; our son, A pointed at him. That was settled then!

I’d never had a male cat before, but Chief Brody (named for the movie Jaws) was the most loving, softest, stupidest, daftest cat anyone could wish for. I’d call him in at sunset, (there’s a cat curfew to mitigate them hunting native wildlife), he’d come leaping across fences, yelling at me. He’d sleep on my pillow at night, curled around my head, would sit on my shoulders as I walked about the house and despite his bulk and his fur, was fastidiously clean. He had a litter box upstairs and downstairs in our old house, but barely used them, only when it was too hot for him to go outside, and only after much yelling, would he begrudgingly visit.

Right at the beginning of the pandemic, he’d came back inside one Sunday morning, was sitting, licking his belly with his leg stuck in the air. I took a photo and posted about him having an existential crisis. When I picked him up, I realised his tummy was swollen. I called the vet to ask for an emergency appointment. I took him in and was told to wait in the car. This was at the height of, we don’t know what’s going on, but we’re keeping people apart as much as we can.

I had a phone call with the vet, alone in my car, who told me that he had crystals in his bladder, because he wouldn’t use the litter trays, we hadn’t seen that he’d not peed for a couple of days and was now backed up. If we wanted to, we could try surgery, but she wasn’t sure it would work.

I called my husband, in hysterics. We made the decision to put him to sleep. I was allowed in the room with him as he slipped away in my arms. I miss him still.

Revisiting – I’m arriving on a jet plane, eventually

This is the email I sent to Wittertainment, (Edited to say, they’ve now moved from the BBC to their own podcast called Kermode and Mayo’s Take) but it didn’t get read out. It’s an overview of the flight from Melbourne to London that started on 24 March 2017. I’m not going to re-type it, so sorry, (not sorry), for the in-jokes and Witter vernacular…

Dear Captain Kramer and Captain Oveur,

I get to watch your bad selves on the live stream this week, for the first time evs. because as much as I love you and Jason, I ain’t getting up at that time of night in Australia. I’ve been listening to you since Radio 1, and Viggo Mortensen answered a question of mine in an interview.

Thank you for keeping me sane over the past few days. I’d stockpiled some podcasts and redownloaded, (is that is a word??) some old favourites for my trip back to the UK from Melbourne. When it all got too much, your witterings, bickerings, dulcet tones and the rants kept me grounded (hysterical laughter).

On Friday night, my husband, son and I had dinner at Melbourne’s Airplane Station. The boys went home and I checked in to fly to the UK for my brother’s 40th. After a busy week, which included Adele’s concert on the Sunday night, I was shattered and fell asleep straight after take-off. I woke up after ten hours (unheard of) and watched La La Land; the enjoyment of which was somewhat disrupted by rather a lot of cabin announcements.

What happened on the journey is either a farce, or a Monty Python sketch, I’m still working it out what comedy genre it fits into. However, in terms of flight bingo, does this clear the board?

  • Late departure by half an hour.
  • Approaching Dubai, our Captain excitedly explains “It’s very unusual not to be put in a hold pattern at Dubai, but we’re number three in the queue!”
  • “We’re being put in a hold pattern”
  • “The weather at Dubai is terrible, we’ll circle for a while”
  • Two hours later, “We can’t keep circling, we’re running out of fuel, we’re checking our options”
  • Diverted to Muscat in Oman.
  • We circle around Muscat for another hour.
  • We get a bird strike on our way to land in Muscat. They’re also still building the new airplane station. The A380 that we’re on is much bigger than the planes they normally see. The pilot edges us around buildings carefully, construction workers are taking pictures on their phones and watching in awe.
  • On the tarmac in Muscat for three hours, “While we’ve been refuelled; we can’t take off until we know we can land in Dubai, and the weather is too bad.”
  • “Now the weather is heading towards Muscat.”
  • “The crew have run out of hours.”
  • “There’s a replacement crew coming in on a private jet.”
  • “We’ve got to cancel the flight. We’re going to deplane you, put you in hotels overnight, to come back here in the morning.” We all pile off the plane, onto buses to the old terminal. As we’re heading down the stairs, the Captain explains that 30-odd flights had been diverted to Muscat’s airplane station.
  • We get into the terminal, are directed upstairs to the arrivals lounge, then get asked to go back downstairs. We need to complete visa paperwork, to leave the airport, to go to the hotels. One man begins to hands out carbon paper copies to 400+ passengers, we run out of forms.
  • We wait for more forms.
  • We wait for a bit more, as we don’t know where we’re staying so we can’t complete the forms.
  • We have forms.
  • We wait for our stamps at immigration.
  • We wait for a bit more. The staff were great, just completely overwhelmed with the amount of people.
  • We have stamps.
  • We wait for buses.
  • Nearly eight hours after landing at Muscat, I’m put on the last bus.
  • Arrive at the hotel to be met by an amazing Manager, who assesses the bedraggled state we’re in “Some of you check in now, some check in later. Lunch is all ready and waiting” (it is nearly 5pm). I’ve not eaten since the last meal serving on the flight, which was about 6am – I’m coeliac – all the snacks on board have gluten in, I could have eaten my arm off.
  • The next morning we get told we’re being collected at 2pm from our hotels to fly out at 5:30pm.
  • A whistle-stop tour of Muscat is arranged through the front desk, including a visit to the Grand Mosque, which was stunning. While we’re out and about, my flight to the UK is confirmed for 9am the following day – I’m being put up in a hotel again in Dubai overnight.
  • 2pm we’re collected in a bus, head back to the airport. All our boarding passes have been printed A-Z by surname, we rattle through collecting them and head to the gate.
  • 4:30pm we start getting on the plane, again being bused out as we’re miles away from the terminal. The Captain has his window open and is hanging out waving and posing for selfies. People are standing on the tarmac taking pictures.
  • 6ish we take off and head back to Dubai.
  • We land and are advised to head to the transit desk to sort out our flight details. There’s 400+ passengers, all waiting for boarding passes, individually printed off with connecting information on. More by luck than judgement, I’m in the right place at the right time and hear London Heathrow being called; my hotel booking is written on my boarding pass.
  • Head up to the hotel in the airport, we’ve all been booked on the same reference number, that the hotel staff have no record of.
  • We wait for a bit more.
  • An hour later, I have a room! My meal voucher is also given to me, it’s now 9pm, I’ve not eaten since lunch. But I have to get a train to another terminal to eat. I’m now in sense of humour failure.
  • I head back to the hotel room, have a shower and fall into bed.
  • Up with my alarm, I collect another meal voucher for breakfast, this time I can walk there.
  • I find the gate for the flight, we’re boarding – yay timing!
  • I go downstairs to wait a bit more in another lounge. I might have another sense of humour failure.
  • On the plane, I put on Singin’ In The Rain [Oi kaan’t stand it], raise a glass to the venerable Debbie Reynolds and suffer uncontrollable AALS and guffaw through my tears.
  • “Is there a doctor on board?” We have a medical emergency on the flight.
  • We get closer to Heathrow, we are told we’re landing without going into the usual holding pattern. We come screaming into Heathrow, to be met by ambulance, a mere seventy-two hours after we left Melbourne.
  • When we get to the baggage hall – you know where this is going already – they’ve lost our bags too.
  • And I’m Not Even Joking.

Tinkerty tonk old fruits. x

30 things that make me happy

Daily writing prompt
List 30 things that make you happy.

In no particular order

  1. Our son, who makes me laugh every day.
  2. Our little family.
  3. Kubo, our new dog. In a week he’s already changed how we act as a family, I’m getting out for a walk with him twice a day most days.
  4. Reading, I read two books on Saturday and finished off a third on Sunday.
  5. Leeloo, she is adjusting to having the dog in the house. I love that she sleeps under the covers with me.
  6. Our bed, it’s a Sleeping Duck mattress and frame. We brought a harder side mattress for the husband and a softer side for me. With cotton sheets and an electric blanket, it’s my favourite place to be.
  7. A long, hot bath. Preferably with a book.
  8. Coffee, (was higher up, but thought the better of it)
  9. House plants.
  10. The days beginning to draw out, as we inch towards Spring.
  11. Being able to get washing on the line when it’s not raining.
  12. Candles, nightlights.
  13. The Thermomix, it’s a T31. It was so expensive, I named it Nellie. As an aside, with a lifetime guarantee, I ain’t buying a new fangled one with a chip, so stop emailing me.
  14. My coven *twirls moustaches*
  15. Food in the pantry and a roof over our head.
  16. Open windows and a breeze blowing through the house.
  17. Dinner with family and / or friends.
  18. Laughing till my sides hurt.
  19. Stationery. I have too much, but still like perusing.
  20. Haberdashery shops, UK version – patterns, buttons, sewing supplies, fabric rolls.
  21. Libraries. We must protect them at all costs.
  22. Halloween Decorations.
  23. Going out for breakfast.
  24. The kitchen clean, all the dishes away before we go to bed at night.
  25. Squidging my toes into sand.
  26. The feeling you get when you’ve exercised, hard.
  27. 475 days alcohol free.
  28. Elephants.
  29. Edna Mode.
  30. Honeydew Green or Matcha green tea in the morning; black tea in the afternoon, Assam, Earl Grey, French Earl Grey – I don’t mind.
Picture of a white coffee mug on a rustic table. There's an open journal with text over, saying 'May your coffee always be served with love'.

Today was a day

I’ve been rummaging around in the background trying to work out what has been going on with my posts on the Facebook. It turns out, my account is restricted, I don’t know why, as only bots are replying to my help requests. Apparently, it is their final decision.

I have kept my private and business life separate. My profile is different to my page. There are are only people I know on my private feed, but one of them raised an issue about the content I posted in January and since then…

This makes me sad, because the majority of things I share are funny, or about the cat, or about our son, or about mental health awareness, or equality. Which I will not not ever bang on about. Equal rights for others does not mean less for you – it’s not pie.

It has had an impact on my business, because the adverts I thought were running, weren’t. It has taken me weeks to unravel this and work out what has been going on. Because it’s my private account that has been restricted, it’s flowed down to everything ee grant business-based that was linked to it.

I’m sad, frustrated, annoyed – all the things. There is a part of me that wants to throw it all in, close this down, tell everyone to go forth and multiply. There’s a part of me that gets extremely triggered by rejection. I know now it’s part of ADHD and actually has a name, Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, or RSD.

I’ve opened up a new account. I’ve had to add the husband onto the page and hope that we can do a work around, otherwise, I’ll have to close it all down and start again.

Over two years’ work down the drain. Particularly galling as my whole “thing” is to build connection and share stories to make the world a better place.

Then to cap off the morning that started really early with the new puppy, and reading the report from FB, I spilt my mug of tea over my desk. I know I needed to clean it, but I’ve got a duster for that. And! It was my last Assam tea bag too.

Like I said, today has been a day. Tomorrow is a new one.

A group of stick figures holding a banner that says, 'Be the type of person that you would want to be around' One figure has their thumb up, another is applauding. All are smiling.
Be the type of person that you would want to be around.

Daily writing prompt – Nicknames

Daily writing prompt
What’s the story behind your nickname?

Nicknames are an odd thing in Australia; a lot of surnames abbreviated, then have ‘O’ added on. While other surnames are extended with a ‘Y’. Aussie Rules footballers have some hilarious and extraordinary nicknames.

Sometimes you earn a nickname, sometimes they’re bestowed upon you; I love Greg Davies talking about a friend from school called Bagdhad.

You know that I use Emily Eleanor as a nom de plume to honour my Grandmothers. In real life I’m Maddie, short for Madeline. The name most used for me now is an abbreviation of my full name, ‘Mads’. I sign emails with it, people I work with use it, my friends call me it. I can even remember when it was first used, my heart leapt because I had a nice nickname at last. 

I’ve had others, like Flipper, for the amount swimming and the size of my feet, which I hated. You take the piss out of my feet and I still have a hard time with it.  My feet serve me well. I tramp about on them for hours – but they made me an easy target at school for relentless bullying. One well-meaning, but misguided, teacher dragged me out in front of the class when I was 7 or 8, with the shortest person and had us stand next to each other, comparing feet sizes. Hot, fat tears spilling onto my cheeks at the time. (How odd, I can feel the roar of shame as I’m typing this and see the blue carpet in the classroom). I didn’t want to be noticed, I wanted to hide. The teacher made it worse in showing how different we were.

I’ve also been called Sassy, which I thought was OK. Until I was told it was for Sasquatch as I’m ‘too tall for a girl’. In senior school I was taller than some of the teachers. In a world of Teams and Zoom calls, my height often surprises people when they meet me for the first time, it’s 5′ 10″ or 177cm.

Big Foot.

Maddie Man Hands.

Hyena – as I laugh loud and wide.

Another name I earned and worked hard for? Mama. I wear that one with huge pride.

Maybe a nickname is earned for that one thing, that one time, that no-one will let you forget; or it’s an abbreviation of your name. If you’re giving a nickname to someone else – be kind.

Meme - picture of cat with a grumpy face. The caption says, "When your human gives you your 43rd nickname"

Vale Sinéad O’Connor

This hit hard today.

Her voice was a clarion call. Utterly ethereal, raw, sublime.

A life-long seeker, exploring spirituality and studying religions from around the world; she changed her name to Shuhada’ Sadaqat, but will forever be known by her stage name, Sinéad O’Connor.

Catapulted to global fame with one song; she used her fame over and over to highlight issues close to her heart and Irish upbringing. The way she was treated for this was awful, but she kept going, kept marching. If you’ve not seen it, please watch Nothing Compares. When you’ve watched that, listen to Universal Mother. It’s an album that will break you open.

‘Here we go again, another angry woman.’

‘Get back into the kitchen.’

‘Who do you think you are?’

As we know now, she was right. The Catholic Church were consistently hiding abusers, constantly moving people around, intimidating and squashing complainants, hushing things up. Not just in Ireland, but globally.

After Saturday Night Live, the salacious, vitriolic bile written about her was unbelievable. Sinéad spent the rest of her life being hounded by the press. Which, sadly continued today with articles being written about her mental health, her marriages, her children. Do better.

Her foibles made her human. Her voice, her back catalogue, with lyrics so delicate you could miss their depth and weight. Her strength to live her life in authenticity, is what I want people to remember her for.

Reading update

It’s been a while since I shared what I’ve been reading. I had a two sinus infections wrapped around a bout of the ‘flu and could barely concentrate on anything, when I looked back over the past couple of months, I was surprised to find I’d read far more than I thought I had. Some of these were prompts for The 52 Bookclub, others were books I had on the TBR pile.

In no particular order:

I’ve also gone back to the beginning of the full audible extravaganza of The Sandman.

Follow me on Goodreads, if that floats your boat.