on dealing with this ‘new world order’

January 2017 and the last piece of the nightmare jigsaw that began back in summer 2016, has fallen into place.  Each time I have thought, ‘no, that won’t actually happen, surely not’ and yet each and every time happen it does.

So, did I go marching with the women yesterday?  I did not.  In my life I have been on more marches than most people, I have shouted ‘out! out! out!’ sang songs, with the miners, the ambulance service, the NHS, Greenpeace, Stop the War, and much more and each time I have relished in the shared community of protest.  I understand this stuff.

I no longer believe it means a thing.  Nothing, at all, save from giving those marching validation and a good feeling.  Then everyone goes home, back to work, to kids, to life and nothing changes.  That is how it seems to me.  My social media feed has been full of photos, hundreds and thousands of people on the streets, people taking pride in witty banners, in coming together, and I am thinking, is this all part of the plan?  It feels very safe, very middle class, very organised, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.

I have no doubt many people walked away from the marches yesterday feeling good, they had their say, they stood up.  But did they?  Why has it taken a misogynistic millionaire to galvanise people.  Has there not been enough to be angry about?  Why are people more angry with comments against women than they are about sexually exploited children?.  Why has no one taken to the streets to protest about the missing lone children, who have fled from war and no one knows where they are now?  Why, why, why, is this march all over the media.  The TV news, the internet, radio news, all documenting the mass marching across the Western World.  The same media that has ignored dozens of protests when they don’t fit the narrative.  It is easy to march against one man, however, vile as he maybe, much, much worse is being done to the world than he will ever achieve.  So, why is this such news?  I am cynical, I don’t believe for a minute that the people with power care a jot who is in charge.  This is smoke and mirrors on a grand scale.

So, this time I am not going to march,  I am not going to give my precious time to realise once again that nothing changes.  Instead I am going to get on with looking for the good in the world, I shall spend my time with people who do, rather than talk about doing. Those that reach out and help, those who say what needs saying and those who are struggling. I will support and cheer on everyone who takes action that effects change.  I will encourage everyone I know to be kind to each other, I feel we are going to need a lot of that just now.

Meeting oppression with the power of love, looking the haters in the eye and just keep on keeping on.  Do you know if enough of us did this, we could change the world.

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.




on hope in the rain

Last week was a difficult week for me.  There was seven days in which I felt I was on a see-saw of emotion.  There was so much to be glad about, sad about, angry about, to feel hopeless about.

At the beginning of the week I saw pictures of babies I will never be able to unsee, victims of a war not of their making, and for which they are suffering terribly. The next day I celebrated with mixed emotions the twenty seven year triumph over the establishment for the Hillsborough families. Watching the live coverage at the inquest when at last the world was told what many of us always knew to be true. I ended the week in a fruitless and frustrating meeting the outcome of which we are still uncertain, but quietly hopeful.

Yesterday the rain battered down in my home town, people who were soaked to the skin came into the shop smiling, ‘it’s only rain’, they said, these are our volunteers, they had stood in a downpour hoping for the sun to shine, they had rattled a tin and sold everything they could to a damp and lacklustre crowd at the Spring Fair.  I as watched them uncomplaining, sorting dry clothes to get changed into from the donation boxes, ill fitting clothes, this will do clothes, promising to return them washed, there was a weird connection between what we are trying to do and the people out there across Europe also in the rain. I hope those people know how much we care and want to help.

Earlier in the week I watched on television the people of Liverpool standing together to honour the families of those lost forever, the pride in my heart was tinged with sadness at the waste of so many potentially happy days.  I saw brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, each had their own lives changed forever the day their loved one lost their own life. There are parallels to be found.  Each life lessened by the governments of the day, blamed and shamed, as each time those really responsible quietly retired to lives on the golf course.  The media also played it’s part.  In a bad way the agenda set by the tabloids of the day and perpetuated ever more.  In a good way when through drama and through decent journalism the struggle lived on in peoples minds.  Always, right through the constant love for lose lost, shown loud and clear by the family that never gave up

There are lessons in both of the above that will stand me well in my world.  The relativity of suffering, the awareness that one persons tragedy could be another persons prayer. That those living an alien life, perhaps in a tent, in the rain, trying to manage their family to care for the babies, remembering fondly the life that was theirs before war came.  It could be that, these people are not much different to the families in Liverpool, who knew that the very people who should be protecting them were actually guilty all along.

This tells me that the world is seldom as you first see it.  You must look with eyes beyond what is in front of you.  Listen to the narrator, who is telling this story, and why are they telling it to you?  Read between the lines, turn over the page, make sure what you believe to be true is not in fact a pillar of lies built to hide a different truth.

Trust your instincts, reach out to help and above everything do not be afraid.  Say your truth loudly and often.   Sometimes it is the silence of others that belies the battle where you think your words are lost and unheard, that maybe the moment that  changes everything.

All we can do is our best.  All we can try is our hardest.  We have to hope that one day it will have been enough.






on losing your way

It has been a funny old year so far.  2016 arrived with the usual fireworks and fun, then January sloped through the door, nothing much happening.  No snow, lots of rain, a birthday came and went and now it is the middle of February.  Six weeks into the New Year and it is feeling just like the old year. Perhaps this is the way.  Maybe things don’t, after all, change with the turn of the calendar.

As I sit in my kitchen it is another grey soggy day.  Rain has fallen often this year, and, although we are lucky not to be affected by flooding, the constant dampness does nothing for the spirit.

Yesterday there was a brief break in the clouds, weak sunshine and blue sky above gave the hope of Spring, perhaps it is just around the corner after all.  The bulbs in pots certainly think so, they are already standing tall above the earth and have little regard for the lack of sunlight.  Perhaps it is always so.

I think it is fortunate that February is the shortest month of all, as it is my least favourite. Weeks between now and warm sunny days, the tiny change in the length of the days does not console me, we are still stuck in Winter.  Twenty nine days is long enough.  Once March bursts in,  blowing away the wintry blues, the days will begin to stretch and the sun remembers to shine through the cloudy skies.  But for now we are in the midst of February.

I am wondering if it is just this end of winter blues that is making me feel lost.  Somehow I am less sure than I have ever been about who I am and what I should be doing.  Autumn and Winter have whizzed past in a whirl of collecting and sending aid to people in need. My email and social media is full of tragedy and heartache.  Even the positivity and kindness of strangers, who over this past six months have become friends, is not enough to make my heart stop aching.

I am thinking of the other times, when a younger, braver me juggled house and home, work and play.  When children are small, when you are working to make a life it is so easy to forget to remember the life you have.  I am struck by the thought of all the beds I used to make, all the meals I used to cook, the mucky faces I wiped and the cuddles we had,all the battles I used to fight, the shirts I have ironed and the love I have been surrounded by. It seems impossible to me that my children are off into the world, making their own lives and although they keep in touch, in some ways, my job here is done.

So, no longer the mother hen, no longer the working parent, not even working anywhere, it is perhaps unsurprising that I do at times feel a little lost.  I used to wonder what was the purpose of me, now that the mothering is largely over, now I am no longer employed.  I often thought that days spent writing and thinking did not in any way make up for a real purposeful life. In February, in the rain, this feels even more real.

When lost it is always advisable to use a map, to look ahead and to chose the road you are going to take.  This is what I am in the process of doing.  My map is one of opportunity, the road ahead is full of promise. I need to focus on the future.  I may not have my own babies any more but I do have my Granddaughter who brings laughter and love into the room with her every time she arrives at Nana’s house.  l need to remember every day spent with this little one. Time with her is pure joy, no juggling work and packing school bags, just love and cuddles and reading stories.

You see it turns out I am not lost after all.  I am just on a different road, and this time I am choosing my path carefully. It has taken a while to realise that although this is a new route the journey is one I have done before. I am making memories and friends along the way.  I am open to helping others but also I am learning to be selfish.  Learning to put me first and to seize the opportunities in front of me. As with every other road taken, the destination will probably not be what was first expected, but one thing I am good at is adapting to the real world and I have every confidence in myself.

So February, you will soon be gone, leaving just a memory of rainy days and cold weather, and as you go I will be feeling the warmth of the sun in preparation for the Spring.  I am choosing happy, choosing life and although sometimes still lost, I am loving this journey, for what it is.  Life and it really is for living.



on the year of change

When I look back at the year just ending there will be so many things to reflect on.  Watching my gorgeous Granddaughter change from baby to toddler, taking her first steps and finding her voice.  Delighting in every stage, we simply could not love her more.  Taking equal pride in her Mum and Dad, who have come through tough times, now more positive than ever, they are an amazing team.

A summer spent in a Welsh garden, nestling in the hills, our own little bit of paradise.  We were joined this year by friends and family, creating happy memories of fun in the sunshine.  We built a shed, we planted and watched the flowers bloom.  We laughed here, perhaps more than I ever have before.  Getting to know new friends, joining neighbours for Pimms and beer, swapping stories and finding shared interests.

Waving my daughter off on her adventures, hoping that the world will love her as much as I do was tricky, but then finding to my delight that she makes friends easily and is living in the moment every day.  I couldn’t ask for more for her than what she wishes for herself.  Her spirit, her sense of fun and her friendliness equips her well wherever she chooses to be.

In the middle of family life I was beginning to feel a bit rootless, wondering what I should be doing with myself and how I could find my own place in the world again.  Social media brought new friends, people from across the world and I have loved getting to know these people, talking often, sometimes too often.

Then came the end of the summer and with it news of the refugee’s walking across Europe in search of a new normality,  their homes destroyed and lives threatened they set off to in hope towards a new life. Shocking images leapt into the living room and were not forgotten. They are not forgotten yet.  It took me weeks to work out if there was anything I could do to help them on their journey, but once I worked it out a whole world I had never imagined lay before me.

Once I saw into this world there was no going back.  In the midst of helplessness and despair there was one amazing focus.  There are lots of people, just like me, coming together to help.  All my life I have wanted to change the world, this year was the year I worked out how to do it!  I know whatever I do, here in England may not change very much for very many, but there are hundreds of people just like me, everywhere, and together we are changing things.

I understand that we cannot stop bombing and war, that some people will continue to hate, and there will sadly be many more babies dying in the seas.  But the wonderful network of people across the world and especially within Europe are making a difference every day.  The small acts of kindness together are comforting those on the journey.  A new pair of shoes, a warm coat, a kind word and food in the belly.  All provided with love and care from strangers, some of whom are now amongst my dearest friends. The strong and brave people who put their lives on hold and give time and love to those arriving on the shores of Europe, guiding boats into safe beaches, treating the sick, feeding the crowds.

So in a year when so many governments across the world turned away from those in need, when the mega force of media magnates raged against people who happened to live and love in a place of war, when my country inexplicitly elected politicians that were never going to care about anyone but themselves,  where we could have given up hope, we didn’t.  Instead we got off our sofas and did something, and this alone meant that we were joined with many more people who also did the same.

As we leave this year behind and move into 2016 I cannot help but think that 2015 will be remembered forever as the year the world began to change.  The year that ordinary people worked together in spite of governments, in spite of people telling them it was hopeless.  A wave of hope and friendship was forged, where it no longer was enough to give a bit of cash to an appeal, when people power was harnessed and help was offered.

As I watched my Granddaughter this afternoon, working out her world, laughing and playing, safe, loved, warm and well, a part of my heart was lost to all the other toddlers, the Mums and Dads, the Nana’s and Pop’s who love as passionately as I do, to the people still walking towards safety, those sleeping in tents in the snow and the children playing in the mud in a camp. I hope they know ordinary people are coming to help them, that we care and we will not longer leave it up to someone else.

I start this new year in a positive yet reflective mood.  I have hope that the human race may yet be won with kindness and love, and that we will all choose to offer the hand of friendship to others.  I understand I am the luckiest of people, I have all that I need and most of what I want.  May 2016 be kind to you all.

on rainbows

this advent is celebrating things that make us happy, and there is very little that makes me happier than seeing a colourful rainbow across the sky.

I have always loved rainbows.  I love the way they appear when you are least expecting them, nature and science combining to brighten up a grey sky.  I love that you have to have sunshine and rain to make a rainbow reminding me that in nature as in life everything is connected and working in unison.  I love the way they have no end, stay for as long as they do and they are out of our control.

A bright and beautiful arch of colour in the sky gives me a hope for better things to come.  I have seldom seen a rainbow without being reminded of happy times, and always they are a symbol of goodness.

When I first met my husband we spent a lot of time in cars driving across the UK.  Almost every trip we made, be it in the south, in London town, in the hills and at the coast, we almost always saw a rainbow.  They seemed to follow us around, constantly affirming what we already knew, life was getting better.  It was as if the world was smiling on us. All these years later, we have had our ups and downs but rainbows still appear and always make me feel peaceful and happy.

I remember as a child being fascinated, when one day, I found a rainbow in a puddle.  I excitedly told Mum this miracle in the gutter, she explained that is was oil on the street mixing with rain making colours.  I have no idea if that is true but it is what I believed her and marvelled  once again the mixture of such different things creating something beautiful.

When faced with difficulties in an impossible job a colleague and I used to have a saying to get us through the tricky times.  ‘Rainbows and fluffy things’ was our code for, it isn’t all bad, the world has lots of good things to offer.  It does indeed.

May your rainy days be followed by sunshine and may your heart be lifted by the colours in the sky.



on refusing to be afraid

I think it is fair to say the this world is having problems just now.  The wars that have raged across the globe are suddenly very close to home.  The hidden threat, the fear of attack, the unknown plots are unsettling and worrying for all. Surely that is the point of terror(ists). They want people to be afraid.  to be afraid of dying whilst eating dinner, of being shot at a stadium or blown up in a bank.  Once again all of the above are tangibly close, it could happen to any of us.  What on earth can we do?

Well I guess we have options.  We can choose to stay home, to minimise our risk of threat, to view strangers as enemies and to watch endless news coverage of the reasons why this maybe happening and what should we do.  Let me say right now, I have no problem with anyone making that choice.  The threats are real, the world is not as safe today as it may once have been, and just now, at this time, perhaps, the sensible option is to stay close to family and friends.

Another option is to just get on with life.  Easier said than done I know, but life is actually for living, and a life well lived is the best answer to all the negativity in the world.  To choose to be, to continue being you, is an option worth taking.  To explain (again) to friends and family that despite the horror around us, it is still ok to try to help each other.  It is still ok to reach across Europe and do what ever you can to make things a little bit better.  Because we can and if we can, maybe we should.

As I write this I have a friend who is today on an island far from home, where she is providing fun and smiles for children whose world fell apart many months ago.  They have lived through things that no one should ever have to experience.  She is blowing bubbles and making shakers, she is creating fun out of very little and she is doing it because she can.

Another couple of friends are also heading off to an island this weekend, where they will unload a container full of wonderful, practical stuff, shoes and boots, socks – lots of socks, nappies and a hundred other things that will make life a little kinder for people who have been displaced, and for whom home is no longer an option.  The magic is that these friends have also been part of the effort to fill the container, to organise ordinary people into doing what is necessary, one bag of jumpers at a time.

Why are all these people doing this? They are doing it because they care, because they good people and most importantly of all because they can.

So, my message to those who would bomb and shoot is to think on, think on and consider what you are doing.  The universal truth is that most people are good people, most want exactly the same out of life.  Be they Christian or Atheist, Muslim or Hindu, they are all, as we are, Humans first.  Think hard about who is being manipulated in all of this?  Consider strongly who is making money and who is driving the hatred?  Always look for the narrator.  Who is telling this story, and what is their agenda?

There is money to be made in war.  There is benefit in divide and rule, there is a place for fear in a world where people need to be controlled in order for the narrator to tell the story.  While we are told to be afraid of each other, what are we missing? What agenda is being served to all of us and why is this happening now?

I am not sure I have any answers, but I am sure of this.  No matter what happens I will go on living my life and doing the things I need to do.  I will not lose sleep worrying about the safety of my loved ones, for worrying never made a difference to anything, any time.

I will continue to make friends across the world, to celebrate our solidarity and to cheer on those making a difference.   I will be collecting and sorting and shipping goods to make life better.  I will be debating and being occaisonally frustrated with negative attitudes. I will continue to persuade and cajole others to come on this journey with me.  I will sort socks into boots and pack bags with love and care.  I will send my own positive love and hope out into the world and wait for it to return.  Why will I do all of this?  I will do it because I can.

I am choosing not to be scared. I am choosing to put hope ahead of fear and I will change the world for someone, one bag of aid at a time.  How wonderful if the result of all the sadness and madness is that we all start working together, that we find our other selves, across the country and across the world.  That we understand a little more of what it is like to be different and how we can help each other.

Together we will do this, because together we can.






on precious moments in time

It was quite something this morning when a tiny bundle of love and fun settled onto my chest as I rocked and soothed the tired tears away.  Sitting on the sofa, with the Autumn misty morning outside the window, obscuring the hills in the distance where the leaves are gently falling to the ground, the grey sky giving no hint of the blue of summer that was, I hold you tightly and love you.

Soon you settle, your little fists unclench and tiny fingers wrap around mine.  You snuggle yourself into me and your eyes, drooping at first, close gently.  Your breath is regular and I find myself taking the air at the same time, our breathing co-ordinating as you slumber.

Looking at you I am remembering another time, over thirty years ago now, when it was another child who snuggled and slept on my lap.  If I close my eyes I can see the living room with the second hand sofa, the unmatched cushions and the huge old television.  The gas fire on the wall gave us warmth on another Autumn day all those years ago. The same tables I now have in my living room sat in that room, I think of this the only furniture that has lasted the years with me.  I can remember the feelings of love, of hope and of joy, coupled with the unimaginable responsibility that was mine, to care and grow this little person into adulthood, would I ever manage to do it?

The view from the window then was not the hills and trees of our home today. Then, we looked out as pilot boats chugged out to the big ships to guide them safely into port, we saw the white waves splash against the sea wall as the sky competed for greyness with the water below and ferry boats plied their way backwards and forwards across the river.

Another time, another place, but feelings remain the same, the love and amazement at the wonderful child in my arms.  The promise of what is to come, of who you will be, where you will go and what you will teach us all.  I lay you down next to me, softly you are snoring as I write these words.  Dreaming perhaps of fun to be had, there is much to do.  You are growing and learning everyday and I am so blessed to share this time with you.

Sleep well my little one, when you awake we will read the stories I once read to your Daddy, we will play the same games and we will eat our lunch together.  The circle of life is all around. Everyday you make my heart happy.

on the politics of hope

This blog could easily have been written about a movement coming together to enable change at the highest level in a political party and in a way that is exactly what this blog will be about. This blog is about Hope.

I have written here often about embracing change, about seizing the day, about trusting in yourself and the universe to deliver what is necessary.  It matters.

Hope is a word that has been much used in the recent campaign and also in the media.  To live without hope is to live with despair.  For each of the people struggling with illness, with sadness, with bereavement and with poverty, hope is the only thing left.  Hope for a decent life, hope to be treated with dignity and care, hope that the world will understand and support us all, hope is political, hope is universal, hope is all of our responsibilities.

What does this small word really mean? The dictionary is a good place to start.  The Oxford English gives us three definitions

A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen: A person or thing that may help or save someone: Grounds for believing that something good may happen:

All accurate, all true, this is what the word hope means. Yet I think it is so much more. Hope is the light in a dark place.  Hope is the flicker in the heart that encourages it to keep beating.  Hope is the opposite of despair. Hope is what makes us keep on keeping on.

Of the three definitions it is the last one that speaks to me.  Hope is ‘grounds for believing that something good may happen’.  In other words, hope is action  Hope is the mechanism for beginning to trust the world around us, and hope is tangible.  This means it is always possible to create hope.  Even in a desperate world hope can be offered.  A helping hand, a smile and acceptance of each other as one and the same.

So, in a week when undoubtedly the press will implode with reasons not to be happy, when we will see ever more people struggling and dying who we know could help, when the politics are personal and the individual is lost, it is vital that we remember hope.

Hope is the person who gave a pair of boots so that a refugee may wear them and walk on with dry feet. Hope is the smile between those who recognise their bond. Hope is powerful and can and does change lives forever.

My hope is that changes over the weekend will give a voice of hope in a place where we have had little evidence of standing up for the hopeless.  I hope that those in need of help will be given the help they need and will come through the darkness.

Writing this I am remembering a poem that has stayed with me for a long time. In this poem  Sheenagh Pugh says exactly how hope can be and this has been a source of comfort to me many times.

Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse.  Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen:  may it happen for you.

If we remember that Hope is action, then each of us can play our part and create hope within our own world.  Today we can do that, and we should.

on messages for my Granddaughter

Today is your very first birthday, the anniversary of the magical day we met for the very first time.  In the year since we have got to know you, and are delighting in watching you grow from a tiny baby into a clever, bright and beautiful toddler. It seems that already you know exactly what you want and you are not afraid to reach for it.  Good.  The time we spend together is happy and brings back the memories of your Daddy as a baby as I remember the love and fun a baby brings.

As the family gathers to celebrate there will be gifts and cards, wrapping paper to shred and cake to be eaten.  We will come together to be happy you are here and to congratulate your Mummy and Daddy for getting it all so right.  There is a present I would like to share with you, not something I can gift wrap so I have put it here.  I want to share with  you the things that I know, things I believe will be important for you to know, if not today, as you grow up and go through your life.   I hope you always know the following

1.  Know you are loved.

2.  Know that you can be whoever you want to be.  Believe in yourself and know you have to put the effort in, you can do it.

3.  Know to make the right friends.  Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, who challenge you in the right way and who will watch your back, always.

4.  Know to avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable.

5.  Know you are in charge of your body, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you get to chose what happens to you, no one else.

6.  Know that your Mum and Dad have your best interests at heart, always.  Know this especially in your teenage years, and remember when they tell you NO they are telling you they love you.  Tough but true.

7.  Know that you can do anything you want to if you want to do it enough.  There really is no such word as can’t.  Make plans, work hard, follow your dreams.

8.  Know to hang loose some of the time.  The best adventures happen with the least planning.  Learn to trust your instincts and to listen to your heart.

9.  Know your family history.  There are a long line of strong women in your past, all of whom are rooting for you, even those you never got to meet.  They faced tough times and survived.  So will you.  Know the men in your family who you were not able to know.  Gone before you arrived, they would have loved and protected you, they would be proud of you and your Mum and Dad and as with the women in your past, a part of them will always be a part of you.

10.  Know that learning is power and it will be up to you to find out about the world and work hard to learn about what is important to you.

11. Know how to find the fun, how to laugh at the moon and dance in the street. Be sassy, be confident and be happy.

12.  Know you are loved.

Happy Birthday darling girl, loved more than you would ever guess.  A funny little girl who understands her world.   We are blessed to have you.