2016 – Merrry Christmas

in years to come this year we have just all lived will be one no one forgets.  A year of momentous events, all across the globe, when things shifted in a way we never anticipated could happen.  Fascism back on the agenda, racism, anger and separation politics abound. From the East to the West things they are a changing.

it has also been a year of loss, famous people, much loved icons of British culture have died, most far to young, and have left us all feeling sad.  David Bowie was one that floored me, even now I think, really? David Bowie, how can I live in a world without him being in it.  Which is a bit odd actually cos I was never a great fan.  I guess it takes losing people to realise how much they were a part of your life.  I guess I am at the age when those who have been alongside me from teen years to now are aging too.  I suspect this is the future, and it makes me feel sad.

Now the year is drawing to the end and things are getting worse not better, war in the East is raging on to a bloody end, so many people are being killed while the West seems content to watch and occasionally add a small voice of dissent.  This makes me tired rather than angry.  I think I have reached the point where I expect nothing, certainly not for those elected to make good decisions. Forty years of protesting had left me empty of protest.  It simply doesn’t work.  My mantra now is to do the best I can, where I am, and try not to worry if others do not do the same.

Personally 2016 has been a bit of a hit for me.  I will remember it fondly as the year I became well again.  Having had years of pain and illness this Spring I was able to begin to make the changes that have led to a better life, no pain and more energy than ever before.  For that I will be glad to remember this year.

It has also been the year in which I have met and worked alongside so many amazing people.  Across the UK,  from all faiths, religions and creeds, gorgeous amazing people, some with a wicked sense of humour have become my go to crowd.  These are the ones I recognise.  We are in the same tribe.  Cutting through the bullshit and the propaganda we come together to do what we can.  Turns out we can do a lot, who knew?

So, Christmas is upon us, and soon this year will be done.  Any year we get to the end of, happier and healthier has to have merit.  Lessons are being learned, we are finding our path, it has ever be so.

Soon it will be a New Year, we will fill it full of our hopes and our dreams, and slowly one day at a time it will pass.  I have no idea what will come to be, but I am sure I will try to make the most of every minute.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you have all you need and some of want you want, I hope you have those you love close and if you have more than you need, I hope you build a bigger table.  We really are all in this world together, and it is together we will do the best we can.

Advent – friendships, then and now

today a friend shared a meme on social media, in the shape of a Christmas tree the words have special meaning and are worth reflecting on.   It begins, This Christmas end a quarrel.  Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.

I love this, the idea that we should end a quarrel, surely that is the best idea of all.  How many times have we ended on a bad note, thinking it will blow over, then days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and one day you realise the friendship is lost.  Maybe we should all seek out a forgotten friend this Christmas time.

I have a lost but not forgotten friend.  We went through the early days of being mothers together, inseparable, our children were at home in both our houses, we knew everything about each other, the support we shared in what were trying times, had I thought bound us together forever.  It seems not.

Years later, we don’t talk anymore.  I have never understood exactly what happened between us.  We spent a weekend together, my friend went home and never spoke to me again.  I tried phoning, at first not realising what was happening.  From our endless chatting, suddenly she was too busy to speak, once she put the phone down on me.  I remember now how that felt.  I missed her.  I missed the easy way we could talk, the shorthand long lived between us.  I missed knowing what her children were doing, for years they had been mine too.  I got over it, built a new life, I already had great friends, they just weren’t her.

So, I see the meme and I am once again wondering, pondering, what on earth happened.  I have heard on the grapevine news, she has Grandchildren, I would have loved to have shared that with them all. But it is not to be.

The next line, dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.  I gave that some thought.  I have sent a Christmas card, to be honest I have done so every year for the last ten years.  This year I have added a note.  Simply saying, I have missed you, I hope all is well in your world. I have added my phone number.  This is all I can do.

I don’t expect a call, I am sure whatever it was is too long gone now to mend, which is sad.  This year will be the last card I send, time has passed, I would love to hear her voice, but I can live without it, if she is not wanting to speak to me.

So, candles in the darkness today, must be the hope that we have that friendships will endure.  If this is not possible, then the light that was the friendship, the support and love we once shared and the happy, happy memories I hold dear.  I hope my friend is having a wonderful life, of course I do, and I will hold my dear friends now close this Christmas time.

No one is ever gone while people remember them with affection, my friendship is still there, it is just not acknowledged any more.


Advent – Santa and me

for a very long time I have been collecting Santas.  I don’t remember when it started, but over the years more and more have appeared and now adorn my living room at Christmas time.  Some of them are beautiful, glittery and detailed, others are funny and some make noises, singing songs and dancing about.  I love them all.

The rest of my family are at times less than enthusiastic about my festive collection, sometimes they can be quite rude.  However I try not to care.

This year there is another person in our family who loves Santa.  My gorgeous little Granddaughter arrived yesterday with her Mummy, to deliver the Gingerbread Man cards she has made for all of us.  She is such a funny little person.  Together we explored my Santa collection.

She is also a Santa fan.  She loved the singing Santa, spent ages pressing his foot and laughing out loud.  We examined each one, the one with the sleigh and Rudolph, the pretty one with the little girl and lots of presents.  She laughed at Santa in bed reading and loved the snow globe, her face as the flakes fell all around was wonderful.

So, Christmas is coming, and with it comes all the usual chaos, rushing around shops, posting out cards, thinking of food to buy and making plans to see family and friends.  It is the same every year, last minute dashing about hoping all will get done.  It always does.

This year there is more magic about.  Seeing it through the eyes of a two year old is precious and something I am so grateful for.  This feels like Christmas with her Daddy, aged two, all those years ago.  I can so remember the excitement building as the day grew near, the fun and games we had, there is no feeling like it, until yesterday, when my boy’s daughter brought the magic with her.



due to being poorly and incredibly busy with all things Hummingbirds I have completely failed to keep up a daily blog during this years Advent.

In my defence there has been a lot going on, mostly all good, but tricky to keep on top of when feeling ill.

I am writing this sitting in the bar of a Cornish pub, the building is from the 15th century and it is easy to see how if was then.  People are friendly, there are fairy lights twinkling across the ceiling and a massive pile of logs waiting by the big stove in the old fire place.

There is a sense of history in the fabric of the walls.  It hit me the moment we came inside.  It is as if no one has really left, and the moods and minds of those before are still here, swirling around like will o’the wisp. Present, yet not present, unseen.  I like it here.

Our room is huge and clean and bright, lovely furnishing and a gorgeous bathroom, means we will be very comfortable here.  Again, I am reflecting on how lucky I am to have this life of mine.

Hubby is unwell, the cold that defeated me last week has hit him for six today, he is sleeping, while I am downstairs typing.  Tomorrow we head home, it is a long drive, he needs to rest.

Last night we were joined in the pub bar by our partners here in the South West who are part of this crazy adventure we are all on.  We laughed so much, a real meeting of minds and of humour.  Despite this being our first meeting it felt as if we had known each other forever.  I think we probably have done so.

It seems to be true that every time we meet another Hummingbird, doing her own thing, we have an instant connection. The men in our lives also connect well together, perhaps they share the pain of having women who stop at nothing to get help where it is needed.  They recognise each other in a way I have never seen before.

When the universe aligned back in August 2015, when so many of us decided to try to help, it is as if we were chosen to do this.  None of us has much of a clue how we went from the idea of sending one lot of aid, to the massive movement we are now part of.  None of us had a plan, and yet we have done this thing.

So today the advent has to celebrate the candles in the darkness that are my sisters from another mother, and our long suffering spouses, for without us all, the world would be a worse place for sure.


Advent Day 7 festive cheer

the town I live in, like many in the UK, is struggling for finances.  The local council have had to cut resources and there is no money for festive cheer. What a shame.  However the town I live in has an extraordinary community spirit.  Harnessed by a team of volunteers, who run the Town Team, residents were invited to decorate a space in the town themselves.

Oh my, we have such a variety of gorgeousness.  From the huge red bows tied to plants on a roundabout, to the covering in silver tinsel of the fences alongside the kerb, the town is sparkling.  I have seen lots of greenery,  bus stops adorned with mistletoe and holly and lots of lovely inventive decorations.  Every piece placed with hope and love to make the town smile.

I love this.  It means I live somewhere where people care.  Where they don’t moan and groan and no one expects someone else to do ‘it’, whatever it is. Families, nurseries, companies have all taken a space and made it their idea of beautiful.

Rather than get corporate sponsorship, to fill the town with neon flashing lights, we have an organic and mostly green home grown display of festivity and fun.

So, if we are seeking a light in the dark, maybe we should think about being the person who puts the candle in the holder and sets the flame alight.  That way we all take responsibility for our own relief from the dark and together our lights will shine, as do the dozens of decorations around town.


Advent Day 4 and 5 reasons to be cheerful

today I have laughed more than I have done for such a long time.  In the midst of the chaos of sorting donations, shifting boxes, setting up the shop and generally working really hard this afternoon we began to play.

It started with the party dresses.  We have lots and have saved them to sell this time of year with Christmas parties in mind.  Getting them out of storage to hang in the shop we couldn’t resist dressing up.  Trying on dress after dress, it reminded me of childhood games when we would ransack Mum’s wardrobe and play with her shoes.  My sister always called them the clocking shoes, because of the noise the high heels made as Mum walked.

Anyway, here we are, all grown up and playing dress up.  I tried a lovely sparkly dress but got very mixed up with the strap situation, I almost garroted myself and had to be rescued!  We laughed until we cried, such good fun.

Thinking about it tonight I am thinking that I need to do more daft stuff, I need to spend time being silly just for the sake of it.  Laughter really does make you feel good.

I am also grateful that this Christmas there were dresses I could fit into. Having been overweight for so long, this afternoon would have been one of so many occasions where I was an observer not a participant.  I would have laughed along but would have been left out, nothing would have fitted me.

I am so happy I have managed to become fitter this year, I sat on the sidelines for far too long.  So many things to be grateful for and having fun is the best antidote to the dark days.

Advent Day 3 laughter, the best medicine

This week a friend shared with me a video made on holiday sometime last year.  We were playing a game and I was getting irritated, which was actually hilarious to watch.  I could see my friends laughing and smiling as I got more and more flustered, eventually, I too, collapse chuckling.  Watching it I felt very connected to these particular friends, people that because of geography, we don’t see often enough.

It made me think about how humour helps with almost everything.  My home town is famous for quick wit and fun, it is in our DNA for sure.  There are few situations when seeing whatever humour there may be, cannot help but make things better.

The best source of laughter for me is the joy in my darling Granddaughter. At two years old she meets the world expecting it to be joyous, for that is all she has known.  Playing with her plastic whistle, blowing piercing notes, she tells me she is making beautiful music.  She certainly is.  Then she decides to include a dance routine while playing, ‘this is fast music Nana’ and Nana is shedding tears of joy at the fun of this little person.

I think when we find the humour, when we get the big belly laughs, we are instantly back as little people, before we knew the harsh realities of life, and for a moment we can forget everything except the joy in laughter.

Today I am going to look out for the fun, I am going to seek the humour and through shared laughter I will embrace my inner child.  May you do so too.


Advent Day 2 candles in the dark

About fifteen months ago I sent a Facebook message to someone asking for advice on how I could best help the refugee crisis.  Well I actually sent lots of messages to lots of people.  One person, a firefighting bloke from the North of England immediately replied and asked me ‘would a phone call help?’ We spoke that night and many times since.  He was encouraging, helpful and kind. He  knew what he was on about.

So, over a year later, this man is my friend.  He is still inspirational and kind, and helpful.  He also has a wicked sense of humour, and can take the mickey out of anyone and everyone.  There is never a dull moment with him around. He spends his leave from his firefighting job, taking himself out to places his skills are needed.  He has dragged people from the sea, saving lives and bringing hope.  He has made friends in France with people who really need a friend.  He is a light in the darkness wherever he goes.

To be honest he is one of so very many people I have found this last year. People who are prepared to step up, to say I will do what I can, and then they do so.

The world is in a mess, this much I know for sure, however I do this it has ever been thus.  The difference now is the easy connections through social media bringing together the candles and making sure the light is brighter than ever. This is a good thing and I am thankful to be part of it.


Advent 2016 – reasons to be thankful

As Christmas approaches again I am beginning what is my fifth year of Advent writing. For new readers during Advent I choose a topic and write each day leading up to Christmas. Previous topics have been People, Music, Places and Happy times.

I think it is fair to say that 2016 will be long remembered.  A year that saw so many wonderful people pass away, many far too young and the year the world as we know it shifted ever so slightly and left many of us feeling a bit wrong footed.  It is easy to reflect on the sad things, the bad things, the senseless murders and the bigoted politicians, but for me that is the way that madness lies.  The only thing that chases away dark times is light.  A small candle glowing in the midst of darkness gives hope and warmth, all of which is much needed just now.

So the theme for this years Advent is going to be thankfulness and hope.  I aim to write each day about a candle in the darkness, to remind myself that there is much more good in this world that we may think.

So day one of Advent 2016 and I am thinking of my home city of Liverpool, a place where so many different people have lived alongside each other for centuries.  A port with links to Ireland and Wales, the mixture of souls arriving and staying has created a mood and and soul that reaches across the city and beyond.

In the news this week, a city centre bank had installed a step to ensure that no one would be able to take shelter and sleep in the doorway.  A metal slope designed to discourage those who may need to seek a dry spot to spend the night.  Now aside from the hopelessness of homelessness, without feeling despair at the sheer numbers of people sleeping in the open air, in the winter time, this new piece of street furniture was cruel and unnecessary.  The papers covered the story and people had their view.

What happened next is so typical of this city it was no surprise to me. People came along, they set up a table in the very doorway, and they served hot drinks and food to all that needed it.  The message was clear.  People who need help will be helped.

So today I am thankful for my upbringing, raised by women came from and understood this city and its attitude, who in turn taught me by example how important it is to help and support wherever I can.  I am thankful for the hundreds of meals I have received,  that I have never had a day when I knew hunger.  I am thankful I have been able to prepare food often and to share it with people I love.  I am thankful for all of the meals that say, you are welcome, I hope you are well, I understand your pain or I celebrate your joy.

I am thankful for the gathering of friends and strangers coming together in hope and solidarity. The candles are burning bright, you just have to be open to the light in the darkness.