Thursday, 18 September 2014

Coping with PTSD Whilst When your Father is Diagnosed with Terminal Brain Cancer

It has been a while since I posted anything but things have been a little fraught over the summer period & I can only now feel I can write about my experiences. It is hard coping with my PTSD at the best of times which tends to catch up with me in the summer sending me spiralling into depression with the flashbacks & nightmares leaving me struggling to even to muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning. 

This summer has been especially hard on me mentally. I have had to not only muster strength for myself but to support my family. There is no convenient time to hear such news but when it happens at such a difficult time it can seem that somehow life is never going to be happy or better. When hearing for the second time that my dad had had a seizure I had prepared for the worst which may have seemed morbid & almost paranoid at the time, when the news came about I had done my crying for him, did my time of feeling less than strong & was feeling more able to cope with the situation when it came about, leaving me able to be there for not only my dad, but my mum & my sister too.

But because of having dwelt in my melancholy through the summer I felt that I needed to try & get things back to normal. I am trying to not fuss around my dad as it can seem to stifling from someone who needs more of an escape from what is happening rather than dwelling on it. When the news was broken to friends & family though they were very supportive & it did kind of felt like my dad was the most prayed for atheist known to man, with Christians & Pagans alike. 

But what I felt really helped was the support of my partner & friends so I'd like to say an enormous thank you. You have been amazing through a tough time, many of you reinforcing my faith in friendship. I am grateful to you all & I think shall finish writing it here as I started to not be able to see through the tears & I need to get some tissue to blow my nose as I have got to admit it not my most flattering of looks.

PS sorry for the lack of a catchy title

The Tale of Two Concerts

It has been a very musical few days for me as my Birthday present was to see Arcade Fire at Earl's Court last Friday & yesterday for mine & Richard's 10 year anniversary we took in a CBSO concert at Symphony Hall Birmingham. Two venues are very different in both size & age with Arcade Fire being the last concert being hosted at the event because it is now going to become luxury apartments. I somehow think that the Economy of Earl's Court suffer because of it.

So on with the critique. Arcade Fire were supported by Owen Pallett on the day I attended, which I was very looking forward to as I do think his music is genius normally using only a violin, keyboard & various pedals & pick ups, I was surprised to see he was joined on stage by a guitar player & a percussionist,which although were good felt like it was a step away from what I had seen of him. Unfortunately I thought the venue was either to large or too empty at the time or both to get a good appreciation of his work due to the reverb as played tracks which I have seen recorded in smaller venues that sounded awesome, but at this concert seemed to be slightly disjointed by the echo. This leads me on to one of my pet peeves why do so many people only turn up for the main act, I have been at some awesome concerts with some pretty amazing support acts which I have come to follow greatly & would have missed if I hadn't turned up to see them. Arcade Fire were on top form,provideding me with one of the best concerts I've ever been to, there was a sense of art & carnival about the whole concert & even though it was their Reflektor Tour they played a lot of their older tunes too, to make it fully immersive for the crowd who had been with the band from their first album which in my opinion was their best, in fact I would say my favourite to least favourite album goes entirely by the order in which they released them. They involved the crowd,but not only that but also made it that the people who were seated also had additional things to watch rather than just the main stage, with dancers in drag, in skeleton suits & one in a mirror ball suit, along with the lighting effects, ticker tape & glitter cannons it made for a very entertaining evening. Iwentin knowing someof what to expect but this exceeded expectations.

The CBSO concert was a change of pace starting with Ravel's Mother Goose Suite which was beautifully played & I very much enjoyed. The Gerald Barry Piano Concerto was indeed a stark contrast to the Ravel it was discordant it did have some moments of genius where the piece held it together & you could see what he was trying to do but soon as you moved into that space he careened of it leaving you feeling a little disappointed. the Francisco Coll No seré yo quien diga nada première was almost just a cacophony of noise with a couple of bursts of genius but it was a case of they were fleeting, I don't mind modern music but to create noise with what seems little purpose is frustrating & to me smacks a little of that will do rather displaying a finely crafted piece which makes sense. I found myself applauding the talents of the musicians & conductor who had the rather thankless task of not only playing such discordance but also had to suffer rehearsing them & feeling that the composers really could have done better. The final piece was Thomas Ades another contemporary composer although had played with sound & its structure took you on a journey it had moments where yes it does challenge structure but does it effectively so you can follow it & fully appreciate it & understand where it was going & what it was trying to say, it stirred up the emotions, was assertive in its tone & totally blows you away pushing the boundaries to a sensible level so it is enjoyable & understandable. You get a feeling that he is a well rounded composer willing to be contemporary but knowing when it is going far enough to not lose the audience.

A little exercise

I have decided to take up using the urban gym in the park I'm not as fit as I would like to be so I have decided to do something about it, the gym is in the local park so is not far away but I have to not feel as self concious as I did today, I dare say that will come with time along with physique changes & with it being an outdoor community one it is free, so why shouldn't I take advantage of it. I think I felt self concious because it is outdoors & exposed, you are seen by dog walkers but when you have a bit of lard on your bones it feels like you are being judged, even though they are usually more concerned about what their dogs are doing rather than some bloke doing exercise. I'm also looking to go on a bit more of a health kick and cut out the sweets, biscuits etc and reduce my alcohol intake, so hopefully my torso will match my lower body which is toned from walking between Halesowen & Merry Hill to work which is approximately 5 miles each way. So wish me luck, muscles & metabolism

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Birthday Pilgrimage to the Rollrights

Visiting the Rollright Stones has been on my to do list for a while, so what better day to do it than on your birthday was my thinking. I was not disappointed.

I first went to the King Stone, the weather worn appearance was beautiful plus it did look like it was sticking its finger upto the world, whilst in the field there were biggest coltsfoot leaves I'd ever seen, they were about 75cm across, if it ever starts to rain in summer they would make an adequate umbrella. 

From there we moved onto the stone circle itself, half of the stones are difficult to see so counting them is difficult, apparently if you count the same number of stones twice you can make a wish, I didn't attempt it but can see how such a belief occurred. I got chatting to a woman who saw me shuffling a set of tarot cards which I had bought with me to charge them up as I lost my favourite deck at Birmingham Pride. The omens of them working were good & I gave her my first reading of them after the confirmation they would work for me & from what she told me I was accurate which is good to know I haven't lost my knack.

It was then onto the Whispering Knights & to my delight I saw 2 bullfinches which were stunning, along with skylarks, meadow pipits & a rather lovely cinnabar moth. I did stop along the way to look at a dog rose too as the rose is my birth flower. The Knights were awesome too with many people leaving offerings of coins on them. Don't expect to get rich gathering them as no one left anything of higher value than two pence.  

It was well worth a visit &would love to go again in the future. I will update this post in the near future with photos & a bit more of the folklore of the place

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Atheist who was allowed to stay

Today I was delighted to hear about a guy who was allowed to stay in this country on the grounds that if he went back to his home country he would be put to death because of his new found faith in atheism. Although it is not my faith, I believe that everyone has the the right to their own faith & should not be afraid to follow it, should not be forced to follow a faith that is not right for them through peer pressure. I do not agree that your religion should be determined by law either whatever your religion. As long as you live a good life, don't harm anyone & show respect to others it doesn't matter. I changed my faith, I found one that was right for me & 18 years on I'm still following it a it i right for me, I don't expect it to be right for everyone however, so this is why I am proud of our legal system & us as a nation, that this young Atheist man has been allowed to stay.
Some people may wonder why I refer to Atheism as a faith, I do so as it is still a belief system even though it does not have belief in a god. No one has yet proven categorically there is a god of any description that is scientific, a more scientific mind will believe there is not one, they should not be judged on this as I believe that they should do the same in return, but to do that we all need to learn respect.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Reflections of the Festive Period

With Twelfth Night being yesterday I can now reflect on the festive period as a whole, this years festive period has been. So the festive period 2013-14 was a bit of a strange one, I had been busier in the run up to it between normal work & chaplaincy, though this year Yule did not feel anywhere near as rushed or squeezed in around work as it has done in the past, I had plenty of time to decorate, feast & meditate, I also managed to make time to make a Witch Bottle for the house. What did infuriate me was the amount of people who asked before the Winter Solstice why I hadn't put up my Christmas decorations yet? Well my response was as follows, I'm not Christian & don't decorate the house until Yule which according to the tradition of decorating your house up for the festive period is actually early as you are not supposed to decorate your house until Christmas Eve & you take your decorations down on the 6th oft January, the day after the 12 days of Christmas have finished. Many people I know looked at me weirdly when I said I took my decorations down so late, saying that they took their decorations down the day after Boxing Day or New Years Day saying that they were fed up of them by then, to which I point out if they are fed up of Christmas before Christmas is out why are you in such a rush to put up your decorations in the first place. OK that is my festive peeve out of the way. I may not be Christian but do like to keep up with folk tradition at this time of year.
 This Christmas was more how I prefer Christmas, relaxed, there was a minor family altercation, but there always seem to be some niggle over Christmas but it lead to a more relaxed Christmas on the whole as far as timings & food went. It was also a relatively frugal Christmas with me making more presents this year than I have done before & it has been appreciated, although I do think I will have to make more chocolate fudge next year as it went down a storm as did my green tomato chutney, so it appears Christmas hampers are the way forward for me. New Years eve also cemented a friendship by having having Sean around for lunch & we swapped gifts I got a hand made dream catcher, he got some apple jam. The festive period although rushed seemed quite pleasing in the long run where people have appreciated skills & friendships & general sense of homeliness. So although I got accused of being a Scrooge for being sick of Christmas music before the day it arrived, it appears that I wasn't the Grinch either (that accolade was taken by someone else)