Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Two years and counting....

 Henibean is 2 years old today! 
I know I've not been as diligent at writing over the last month... it's been a difficult time... and I haven't felt much like sitting and tapping out my thoughts on the keyboard ....but hey this blog is about balance ... and you have to cut yourself some slack sometimes don't you? 

A lot has happened in the last two year and today I wanted to mark the occasion by at least writing something and taking some time to look back over all the post that have been put up here.  As I look back, I am reminded of some of the fun adventures that we have had with Heni (here, here) .... and some of the fun respite trips we have taken as a family without her (here, here)... also, the walking with wheelchair post (here, here) and Eating out with food intolerance posts (here here). Here are a few of the many "Sanity Space projects" that I have undertaken (here, here, here, here)... some of the "Books I've reviewed" (here, here) ...the "Rants" I've had (here,  here) and some of the "Health" related blog posts I've written (here, here, here) .

There are Far too many to list,  but I hope that you will go check some of them out via the links, or go visit the side bar and browse around and have a read.

When I started the blog two years ago it was with three intentions....
....it was to be a creative outlet for myself...
....a family history/journal for my kids to read one day...
....and it was also a tool to share some of our life, trials and lessons learned with other Trisomy families who  hopefully may have been able to benefit from some of the things we have experienced with Heni.

Now that Heni is no longer with us I have been wondering what direction to take with the blog?
I guess the first two intensions remain the same, and to some degree our journey through grief may be helpful to some out there.... 
But...in this next year you may find that I write a few more health related topics and book reviews and who knows what else may appear? I hope you will stick with me and find out how things develop. I am in no hurry. I have accepted that grief is a journey and some days I may feel OK and want to write while other days I don't. 
I would  however love to get some guest posts on here though... after all the theme of the blog is "Learning how to live amid challenges and maintain health, sanity, creativity and balance"... and I know that there are a lot of people out there (in addition to me) who are going through challenges!

If you feel like you would like to write a post about your challenges and what you are learning and how you are striving for balance, OR if you have an expertise in physical, emotional and spiritual health, creativity, and life balance.... and think that you could be of benefit to Henibean's readers, please feel free to get in touch with me (message me on Henibean's face book page).

In the next few weeks we are heading up to the Lake district again (our yearly trip) and are going back to where we stayed with Heni last year.
My son and daughter in law are flying in and some of Heni's carers who have holidayed with us for years are also coming along. We are going to be putting a memorial bench in situ and will also be taking our yearly family pictures. It will be a trip filled with mixed emotions... but I hope that more than anything it will be filled with love, laughter and fond memories of all our time spent with each other and with Heni.  Which reminds me ....no birthday would be complete without a rendition of happy birthday.....so here is one from big bro T to Heni last year on holiday for her 21st!


Keep a look out for up coming posts of our trip....and please forgive me for being sporadic as I work my way through all the ups and downs of the grief journey. 

Hope to see you all real soon!


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Re-purposing... your life

 My Craft room/office has been upstairs for a few years now...
I was happy there and had no reason to be anywhere else. I loved the vantage point and the view over the garden it provided me with and enjoyed the peace and quiet ... a "Sanity Space" to write and create. But things have changed... as they always do.

 Since Heni died, I have had the difficult task of walking numerous times daily by her room and seeing everything left as it was... shelves teaming full of " friends" that she loved....

... her bed... in which she fell asleep and never awoke again.

 Memories  oozed from the room with each passing... memories of the sensory wonderland we would sometimes make and spend hours playing in...  

 ...the fun hours she spent watching and giggling away at the movies projected onto her wall...

 ...and the stories that each riot of colour, texture and piece of "stuff" (that filled every nook and cranny with hardly a space to move) held. You could say that her room was full of life. 

Then it was empty.... and I had the same but more difficult task of walking by her room daily, seeing it bare... unclothed of all the colour and life it once wore... the years of memories stripped away. 
 It hurt... and it hurt bad.

So although I have been happy upstairs hiding away in my sanity space, I eventually decided to give Heni's room  a new lease of life...re-purposing it by bringing the craft room downstairs and making it into a place in which I could sit with my thoughts, write, do projects and be at peace in Her space once again.  

Its easy to re-purpose a room... the blank canvas can be written on and made in to something new and exciting. But although the room was blank I wanted to maintain a lot of Heni in it. I wanted to have bright colours like she did, and have some of her things around me still. 

The photos of Heni that I displayed at her funeral.... are hung from the picture rail so I can still see her smiley face every day.


...and a host of family photos hang on the walls ...  to remind me that I am still surrounded by my families love...even though one of them is apart from us for a season. 

The wood plank trestle table fit in perfectly under the window... with millimeters to spare....

 ...the shelves are perfect for all of the craft supplies, in ready sight, waiting to be used... 

  and the re-purposed table which hubby made for me (so I could wheel it in to the middle of the room for extra workspace) has its own perfect place.

 Even the picture my mother in law painted hangs on the wall ... the rolling waves reminding me of the tides of grief and the ever changing seascape of emotion that we are all subject to. 

The room now lives and breathes again. It has a lovely cosy /Hygge feel to it and I sense that Heni would approve of its new usage. 
Yes, the re-purposing of a room is easy... what is difficult is the re-purposing of a life in the wake of death that is the harder part. The next big challenge and adventure of creating a new me.

But, I presume, the process of change that is ahead will have its similarities. The transformation of Heni's room from one use to another has taught me that not everything has to be discarded and thrown out. Old things have uses and reminders of who we once were ...and that is needful and reassuring.  It may be harder to put new things in place as I am not such a blank canvas  (bearing the marks of pevious life's lessons) but I am willing to be written on and to make life in to something new and exciting. 
Even though the room is now being used as a craft room and has a new utility...  it will forever be Heni's room to me... and as I move in to re-purposing my own life (looking for new ways and uses of me as a person)...I can remember that whatever I become, I will also still forever be Heni's mum. 
As I sit working on creations and pieces of work in Heni's space there is some encouragement and relief that it's not all down to me ... it's comforting to know that the maker of all is watching and is also crafting away, being the true re-purposer here... creating the version of me that He ultimately wants.  Hopefully the emotions laid bare to grief will one day, again be clothed with a riot of brilliant colour, texture and a new full life.  


Sunday, 5 February 2017

My Headspace journey...

Last post I mentioned that I would share a tool with you that I've been using on my journey through grief... and so today I am going to tell you a little about my experience with Headspace.

I originally came across the app about a year ago after reading a number of books on Mindfulness. I downloaded the app on my phone, and then did the free mindfulness based meditation sessions on the basic ten day program ...TAKE 10 (ten sessions of just ten minutes a day). 
Generally at that time I practiced them in the car while waiting to pick the kids up from school. It was a tool that I used to help me manage the daily stresses of dealing with life with Heni, a number of health challenges and various other demands. 
Life then got even more complex and I started skipping out on the sessions...  and I never went any further than the "freebies"... I guess I felt like I couldn't justify taking out a subscription at that time.
 Now you can imagine that I was somewhat happy and excited to find out that my Christmas Gift from my son and daughter in law last year was a Headspace subscription!

After Heni passed away in October I found that my thoughts and feelings were running riot and I had no control over the grief that would wash over me each day. It seemed that grief carried me around from one thought to another and one feeling to another, and the negative aspects of grief (it does have some positive aspects too!) were overwhelming.  If you have undergone a bereavement you may very well agree that grief can seem to be the one in control...instead of us learning to accept and manage "it".
...And so over the last month and a half, some of my time, attention and focus has been concentrated on using my fabulous gift and working my way through the programs on the App. 

First, I decided to revisit the Take 10 that I'd done previously, and then worked my way though Level 2 and level 3 of the foundation course. I then chose one of the many focus areas (Health, performance, relationships etc) to move on to next. 


I chose to work through the depression package out of the health section, as there was no package for grief. I figured that it was probably the closest feeling/ emotion to it. 
As you can see below you can keep check on how you progress through each package and see how you are working your way though the guided sessions .
Each day I have been practicing for just 15 minutes when I wake up ... but you can change the length of the sessions and fit them in any time you want. It's like having a gym session or rather a personal trainer for the mind. Not only does my mind feel clearer and more focused to start the day, but I'm also noticing that the pain in my back and hips is also less after the session.... some days I just feel like I don't want to get out of bed, but after doing my 15 minutes session it is easier to get up!

I enjoy listening to Andy Puddicombe each morning...each day he subtly builds up techniques and tools and I look forward to his wise pointers...his voice is rather pleasant to listen to too! 

It can be easier when you are dealing with grief...(any type!) to try to ignore the feelings that come up... or you can fill you time so fully that there is no room left for the  unpleasant thoughts, feelings and pain. Mindfulness can seem like you are sitting down doing effectively nothing but what you are really doing is not stopping or controlling or batting away the multilayered thoughts, but stepping backwards from them and viewing them from a distance.  We cannot change the grief that comes our way but we can gradually change how we view and experience it.

 I am not expecting grief to go away...I think it will highly likely pop up at the most unexpected times  in the coming years.....but what I am  hoping to do is learn how to look at it differently. This tool is slowly teaching me how to look at the thoughts, feelings and stresses in the mind that appear AND is showing me how to look at them with a measure of acceptance, not resistance. I hope to learn how to manage the thoughts and feelings grief stirs up, a little better each day. As I progress on my Headspace journey I am becoming more aware of the messages that they hold for me and learning to treat myself with a higher level of compassion (rather than frustration). I'm also gradually learning how to not be overwhelmed by thinking and feeling them. It's a slow journey... but then Rome wasn't built in a day!

There are lots of studies on the effects of mindfulness based stress reduction and mindfulness based cognitive therapy ... and Headspace have also been doing some of their own research too. If you want to check out some of the effectiveness of mindfulness on stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, cancer, chronic pain and sleep  you can find more information on the Headspace website here

If you like the sound of this App you can download the free "Take Ten"  on you computer or phone (click on the above link or go visit the App store). If you really like it after practicing for ten days, I have a code that I am happy to give to the first person I pick out of a hat at random. All you have to do is show me you completed the ten day course (a photo of the screen shot of your Take 10 journey) and write to tell me how it helped! 

I earned the code by meditating for 30 days in a row and I have no affiliation to Headspace ... (I just wanted to recognize a useful tool that has been helping me on my grief journey.  

So why not have a go... see if you like it... or better still see if it helps you in any way...

Hope to hear from you in ten days!


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Back to Basics...

I know a lot of people who are grieving for loved ones right now... and I'm sure that there are even more of you out there who are dealing with it too. It is a life passage that most of us face at some point.... and thereafter on more numerous occasions as we age and see loved ones pass on. It's an experience that is similar.. but also very different for each person, however, there are a few common things that may help "everyone"  while passing through the hurt and healing. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2017...relaxing in to your own pace... of grief....

I wasn't really looking forward to Christmas this year... but I did my best on the run up to the big day to prepare for the rest of the family so that we could all hopefully have a nice relaxing and somewhat "fun" time together...However, It's been difficult to get into the jolly mindset when most of the time all I feel is a sense of grief. 
I haven't felt much like writing over this period either....mostly I've just wanted to hide away, be quiet and contemplate... but I did try to spend time with my lovely family ... 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A different kind of Christmas

I've just finished looking through a mountain of photographs of Christmas over the years..... and have been re-living  a life time of fun moments that we have shared together as a family with Heni. I am so grateful to have all of these memories.

This Christmas it's going to be different without her.... and we will be making new and different memories... and in that "different" kind of Christmas celebration I am looking for ways to honour and to remember her in our family festivities this year. 
One of the things I want to do, is for everyone to write a letter to Heni to put in her stocking...it's still hanging above the fire place...just like usual....
 In years ahead it will become a family history treasure to look back on and read about the things that we have done during the years. It will be a blessing to read of ways in which we have noticed Heni's influence and legacy in our lives.

Sunday, 27 November 2016


This week we enjoyed a family day out to Waddesdon Manor.... a local National Trust property near where we live. We've visited it every year for a number of years now and look forward to it as part of our Christmas traditions and a way of getting us in to the festive spirit. We enjoy going to see the house, trees, lights and doing some Christmas shopping at the wooden cabin "market" set in the grounds around the Manor. 

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