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Surgical Menopause – getting into your Menopause too early

 

Four months ago I had my ovaries removed. It was a shock. One minute I was fine, the next I was doubled up in pain, certain that my appendix was rupturing. A quick trip to hospital and an ultrasound showed a large tumour on my ovary. I asked if it was cancerous. The Emergency Department Consultant could not tell me. The only specialist who was not on holiday could not see me for 10 days. Why do all specialists go on holiday at the same time? It was the same when my sons needed grommets. They were all away. Shouldn’t doctors have to stagger their holidays like any other professional?

My initial meeting with the specialist was not positive and I thought about seeing someone else, but I was not keen on a 3 month wait. I was frightened that I had cancer, so I went with the first person available.

The appointment started badly when she asked why I was there. I told her that I have a tumour on my ovary and was promptly told that “we don’t call it a “tumour”, it is a “mass””. I knew at that point that it was going to be a rough road. Every other doctor from the ED Consultant through to my GP called it a tumour. There was even an arrow pointing to it on the ultrasound scan which is marked “tumour”. However, I was told firmly that I was not to call it that. I don’t know if this was supposed to make me feel better, or happier or reassured. Either way it achieved nothing and I spent the following week looking up ovarian cancer websites and trying to prepare myself for the worst. The specialist said she could operate a week later so I filled in all the admission paperwork and then hit the chocolate. It did nothing for my waistline but it made me feel brighter. Where there is chocolate there is hope.

I arrived at hospital the following week, petrified and with a bag full of chocolate to get me through the recovery in hospital. Green and Blacks I love you. I will buy shares. It was only your milk chocolate that got me through the following weeks. If you noticed a profits spike in April and May, that was down to me.

After waiting in reception for 2 hours I was taken to a ward full of people waiting to have gynaecological surgery. I was apparently third on the list. Why I had to be there at 6.30am when they did not intend to operate before 11am, beats me.

Once I was in a gown and tucked up in bed, the nurse looking after us all decided we all needed to have an enema. I think she was bored. I was expecting a tube up my bottom so was quite relieved when it just turned out to be a tablet. A modern enema involves a tablet being stuck up your bottom and being told to hold it as long as you can before you race to the toilet. There were 8 of us waiting for surgery. The nurse gave us all an enema within minutes of each other. There was one toilet on the ward. The outcome was predictable to everyone except the nurse administering the tablet. I learned a lot of new yoga positions as I was standing in queue outside the one toilet, trying desperately to hold on. There was no commode available. As I was wheeled off for surgery, I hoped the nurse with the smart idea was the one to have to clean up.

I woke up in my own room after the surgery. I was hungry but the nurse told me that I had to be on clear fluids until my bowel had moved. That proved to be a long time. Why did they give me an enema in the first place? Chicken consommé does not help you have a movement. If it goes in liquid, it comes out liquid. I decided that they were just malicious. Three days of chicken consommé and lime jelly later, I was ready to strangle someone, so I lied. I told the doctor I had been to the toilet. The food ban was lifted. I ate chocolate. It was good, really good. In fact it tasted like manna from heaven. My 6 year old saw it on offer at the local supermarket. My husband and son emptied the shelves. My cupboard overflowed…There is no painkiller as effective as a large bar of Green and Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate. Just liquefy it and hook me up to a drip!

I knew that having my ovaries removed would send me into surgical menopause. What I did not know was how quickly it would happen. The various websites were quite vague about it. I knew that I would need to go on to HRT until the age that I would naturally go into the menopause (generally assumed to be around the age of 51) to replace the oestrogen that was no longer being provided.

I thought that I would be given HRT immediately. Apparently not. The specialist decided it would be good for me to experience what menopause was like before allowing me to have the oestrogen patches. The hot flushes kicked in 2 days post-surgery. I endured 5 days of hot flushes and night sweats before discharging myself against doctor’s orders. Only then did she agree to give me the patches. She told me that women should be able to deal with menopause when it happens, whether or not that is down to surgery. I beg to differ.

I did wonder why I, as her patient, had to suffer because of her beliefs about HRT. It made me wonder how much else of her advice was her opinion, versus official recommendations. I went to see my GP five days later and she was brilliant. When I told her I was still suffering hot flushes and night sweats, she upped my dosage of HRT, saying that nobody needed to suffer unnecessarily. The hot flushes and night sweats stopped within 24 hours. My doctor is the best!

It was a long five weeks until I found out I did not have Ovarian Cancer. The specialist forgot to email my GP with the results, so she found out from me that I was in the clear.

The HRT patches work well. I have had to put an alarm in my phone to remind me to change them twice a week, but apart from that it is all fine. My tummy is squidgier than it was and it was a few weeks before my sons were able to bounce on my lap again. However, I have recovered well and am now back to exercising and back on motherly duties again. All credit to my in-laws who moved in and looked after the children for me while I recovered. All credit to my eldest son who reminded my husband to keep resupplying the chocolate.

While this has been a long story I think the main points I wanted to make are that if you are told that there is something wrong that may be very serious, read around. Don’t just read around the subject, read online reviews of the hospital and the specialist you are seeing. I wish that I had, as the same comments I have made above, had previously been made by others having similar surgery at the same hospital, with the same consultant.

Be willing to look further afield for a consultant and a hospital to have the surgery done at, if this is an option where you live. I looked within a 10 mile radius of my home, at 3 possible hospitals and I based my choice purely on opening hours, not on online reviews. If I had gone as far as 30 miles, I may have had a different experience. Finally, read up on the after effects of the surgery, any follow up medication you may need and the pros and cons of it. Use reputable websites, such as those of national or international charities specialising in your condition. Go into your doctor armed to the teeth with information, don’t just take the specialist’s word for it. Knowledge is power and power is confidence. If you are confident of your information when you face your specialist, you may have a lot better experience than if you accept without question, the information that specialist gives you. Finally, take to the hospital whatever it is that will make you feel good afterwards, as a quick boost every now and again, can only be a good thing for your recovery.

Booking.com

How to Get Your Ex-Boyfriend Back (and Keep Him) in 7 Steps

It doesn’t matter who broke up and why, you want him back no matter what. How do you get him back? What works, what doesn’t and why? Make sure you don’t mess up, or he might never want to hear about you again, let alone get back together. Here are 7 tips to help you make him love you more than ever.

There’s a reason he’s your ex-boyfriend, and your job is to erase that reason out of his memory – forever. He’s out there, dating other women with more or less success. Is he still thinking about you, does he still love you; does he also want to get back together?

Who knows! Maybe he does, maybe not. Either way, you want to hook up again because you’ve realized you still love him. Every other guy you meet can’t match his qualities and this just makes you go insane. Every date you go on with some new guy seems boring and shallow, you find yourself comparing him to your ex and this makes you feel even worse.

It’s time to get THAT guy back into your life.

But how?

Smack him over the head with a brick, throw him in the trunk of your car and take him home. Okay, maybe not. Let’s try something subtler.

Here’s how to get your ex-boyfriend back:

You need to make him feel terrible for breaking up with you. He should feel like a dumbass for letting you go. That’s what you need to make him feel like if you want to get him back. You won’t get him back by spying and stalking him (stop checking his Facebook every 2 minutes), but by making him remember all the great times you had together, and making him imagine how nicer life could be if you were still together.

This requires you to make some radical changes in your life.

Stop and give at least 30 seconds of thought to each of the questions below. Answer honestly; Say it out loud to yourself.

  • What is it that went wrong in your relationship?
  • Why?
  • What is it that he did not like about your relationship?
  • What would you do differently if you got back together?
  • What did he love most about your relationship?
  • What did you love most?
  • What was restricting the love in your relationship the most? What was stopping it from growing further?
  • Did you give your absolute best to make the relationship work?

Think about these questions. Don’t be too critical of either him or yourself. All this emotional bullshit, arguing and blaming each other for crap is one of the reasons you might have broken up in the first place.

We rarely know what we have – until we lose it.

Now you know what you’ve lost, and you are about to get it back. Nobody can guarantee you that you’ll end up being together again – but, in at least 90% of the cases, it’s totally possible. You must believe in the possibility.

  • Why did you guys fall for each other in the first place?
  • What connected you?

There must have been something that he fell in love with in the first place.

  • Why did this disappear?
  • Did you take each other for granted?
  • Did you both get lazy about your relationship and just left it on autopilot?

The reason you must answer these questions to yourself is so that you can determine a couple of things. First, do you really want to get him back, will you be happy or are you just lonely right now, but deep inside you know that it probably won’t work out if you get back together? You must believe that things will work out between the two of you and that you can be happy together again. Otherwise, if you don’t have total belief in this relationship, then it’s not worth trying to get him back.

I’ll assume you’ve decided that things can work out between you and him, so now, the question is – what can you do so that he believes in your relationship too?

#1 Get Better

 

As mentioned above, you need to be better than what he remembers you to be. Hotter. Way hotter. This can be a huge motivator to any guy to get back together. It’s important that you don’t see each other for some time, and then once you do – he is just blown away by how much prettier you’ve become.

This will make him feel horrible that he can’t have you anymore whenever he wants. Desire kicks in, and now he feels like an idiot for not staying with you. After he runs into you, he’ll think “Gosh, she looks amazing!” – just wait to see his jaw drop when he sees how you look 5 times better. I know this sounds shallow, but it works simply because most guys think with what they’ve got in their pants, not with their heart or brain. Even if he’s a pretty smart guy, physical attraction can be the first step to getting your ex-boyfriend back. It’s just the first step, but it’s a crucial one – ’cause now you’ve got your foot in the door. You throw a hook and wait for him to bite.

#2 Forgive Him

 

The second step to getting your ex back is forgiveness. You’ll never be able to be together again if you can’t forgive each other. Initiate this yourself. Why did you break up? Did you cheat, did he cheat, did the love evaporate, or you got bored, what is it? It doesn’t really matter the point is that you give each other a clean slate. Don’t talk about what happened in the past with him.

Start over. Click the reset button. Whatever he did wrong – get over it. Forgive yourself if you’ve made mistakes and forgive him, you are both guilty in one way or another, and reminding each other about it won’t help. You can’t get back together if you are enemies, so stay close to each other by forgiving. Let the past go. Every day is a new opportunity for you to have a better life with a great guy, maybe it’s him – and now that you’re starting over, you’ve learned from your mistakes, but you can continue on only when you manage to forgive.

#3 Don’t Find a New Guy

 

Listen, sure, finding some new dude may be okay for you as a bandade, but it won’t help you get your ex-boyfriend back. You should make him jealous in a smarter way. Like, he should see that there are guys mingling around you, but don’t let him see that you’ve actually found someone. Don’t post stupid, drunken-party pictures on Facebook of you making out with some random dude.

That definitely won’t help, he’ll just hate you and he’ll feel hurt, almost as if you were cheating on him. Instead… he has to see that you are still emotionally available for him, you just need some space and time to heal after your break up. Hint him that you might like to get back together, but don’t attack him about it. Give him space and see how he reacts.

#4 Change Yourself

 

Look, if you’re serious about this guy and you really want him back in your life, then you must change. Changing may not be easy, but it’s necessary if you want your relationship to be better than the last time. It’s quite simple. If you keep doing what you’ve been doing – you’ll keep getting the same results. So don’t expect a happily ever after, supercool happy ending if you aren’t willing to do things differently than you did before, otherwise you’ll just end up breaking up again.

So, find out what messed up your relationship and work on it. Were you too cranky, moody, jealous, demanding, insane, nagging-all-day, not giving him his space and freedom, disrespectful, got fat, made out with another guy, or you just sucked in bed? Whichever it was – fix it. He needs to see that, after a month or so of breaking up, you are progressing; suddenly you became a different person. But do it for you, not for him. Once he sees how much different you became he’ll wish you never broke up in the first place, he’ll want to give the whole thing another chance too.

#5 Initiate Contact

Now, it’s time to actually get back in touch with your ex. It depends; maybe you didn’t see each other, or talk, for months, or even a year. Maybe you just broke up two weeks ago and everything is still very emotional and fresh. Either way, you can’t get back together with him over the phone, so you need to see each other.

My suggestion, from a male perspective, having sex immediately once you meet up again may be a wrong choice. Even if you’ve been together for a long time before, it’s good to make everything seem new, and different. If he messed up, and that’s the reason you broke up, you shouldn’t make it that easy for him to get back together. Throw in some temptation.

He needs to desire you, a lot. Be sexy and provocative, but don’t sleep together the first time you meet to “catch up” and see whether he also wants to get back together or not. Let him think about you. Drop a hook, and make him feel horrible when he sees how much you’ve improved, how well you are doing, how sexy you look and how your life is taking another direction. Don’t try to fake it. He knows you and he’ll know whether you’re full of crap or not.

For real, change yourself for the better; let him see that and he’ll want to be part of it. But you won’t let him back into your world overnight – even if you really, really want to get him back, don’t. You both need some time to appreciate each other for other things then sex. And when the sex does come, it better be mind-blowing. Then again, don’t be clingy and don’t call him every day after that – love all over again – instead, take your time. Let him think about you and worry a bit.

You had sex, but do you want to get back together or not? Let him wonder and guess, let him compare you to other women he might have been with since you were apart. He’ll soon realize what a mistake he’s made, and he’ll never want to make that mistake (breaking up with you) again.

The point isn’t just that you get your ex back, but that you KEEP him. Often folks just have sex again, once or twice, but things don’t work out and they end up breaking up again. So don’t take anything for granted. Make sure he has the best night of his life when you make up, but after that don’t drop into your “old” relationship with your ex, instead – create something new.

Keep it different. All the bad experiences you had in the past with him, everything that reminds you of those not-so-happy experiences – try to avoid them. Change your apartment if you can, move, have some tangible things that are different, clothes, your perfume, anything that makes him feel as if he was with a new you, a better you, that he’ll never want to let go no matter what.

When you guys meet up for dinner/coffee, whatever, don’t talk about the past , why you broke up and stuff like that. Ask him what’s new in his life, how he’s doing, maybe remind him of something nice that only you know about him that you can both laugh about it. Keep the conversation light. Super-emotional, could-a, would-a, should-a stuff will just bring you back to where you were.

Then and there, don’t analyze, argue or talk about negative stuff. Turn the page. Keep walking in a new direction. It’s your ex-boyfriend that will become your new girlfriend, it’s you – his ex-girlfriend, that will become a new girlfriend. Give each other a clean slate. When you leave the place, don’t kiss. Give him a deep gaze, let your eyes, not your mouth say: I love you.

Let him see it, but don’t say it. Tell him you had a great time, and that you could meet up some time to hang out… he will feel like his leg was chopped of for not kissing, but he will know that you want more, that there might be a new, bright future for the two of you. All night he’ll be flipping around in bed, thinking about how beautiful you are and how much he wants to get back with you. I’m not saying you should be ice-cold when you meet up, on the contrary, be cold, but a bit mysterious, make him wonder.

Don’t just throw it in his face that you still love him and that you want him back. Be stronger than your emotions. Give the whole “getting back together” process some time; make a good foundation for that future you’ll build together.

 

#6 The Night of His Life

 

Okay, as mentioned before, eventually, you’ll end up at his or your place, taking your clothes off. This night is what will decide whether you’ll get him back or not. I know this sounds shallow, but it’s the truth.

Men are comparing creatures and whether you want him to or not, he’ll subconsciously compare you to other women in his life. Maybe he’s with some new girl right now, and that’s the one you need to take him back from. How do you make sure that this won’t just be a one-night-stand with your ex-boyfriend?

You must be mind-blowing. Everything about you needs to blow his mind. From your lingerie, to your smell, your look, your soft skin, your whole energy and aura needs to excite him to a level he did not know is possible. The moment when he reaches climax is the moment he’ll figure how brilliant you are and how stupid he was to ever leave you.

This may put pressure on you and make you feel self-conscious, and it should. The fact is, you conquer a man’s heart by conquering what’s in his pants, like no other woman ever could. Everything after that is easier. Yet again, this night needs to be different than in the past. It should not remind you too much of the time you were together before, it needs to be better.

This is why it’s ideal if you do it at your place, ’cause then you can prepare a bit, you can make the atmosphere amazing. Anything you’ve not been doing in the past, but know he loves, now’s the time to get with the program. You never gave him oral when you were together before? Are you too shy to talk dirty? Do you hide under the cover?

Think about what you could do better to show him the best night of his life with you and you’ll triple your chances of getting him back.

Hate me all you want for telling you this, but it’s what works and what has worked for thousands of women around the world that got back and kept their ex-boyfriends.

#7 Don’t Take Anything for Granted

Seems like you’ll get him back. You’ve seen each other a couple of times and things are going good. It seems like all will work out great! But wait, and re-think it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking all is good now and that you’ll just be fine… you may not. People that get back together tend to go back to their old, real ways, because they did not make any real, fundamental changes to their lives.

It was just a mask. Beware, as if you both go back to your old ways of arguing and dealing with problems, you’ll get back to where you were – apart.  Don’t let that happen. Don’t get lazy and don’t take things for granted. The first few weeks of being together again as also the first few weeks where he’s most likely to “run for his life” and leave you or just decide that you shouldn’t have gotten back together in the first place.

How can you prevent this? Really, change. Make him change too. When you become better, you have the right to expect him to get better too. Build a relationship where you grow and improve together as individuals and partners, not enemy’s that slow each other’s progress down. He is not yours and never will be, not even when you both have a ring on your finger, so don’t view him as a thing you’ve got a right over, like owning a car or your shoes.

He can walk away and probably will if you treat him as property. Instead, view him as a customer. You want to make a loyal customer out of your boyfriend that isn’t forced to buy at your shop, but loves to “shop” at your store because he gets treated better than anywhere else. He then grows to need you, love you, and want you – every single day.

There’s more to getting your ex back than this post of course. Every situation is different and requires a slightly different approach. Hopefully at least one tip from above rings a bell and gets you closer on your path to getting Mr. Right back to where he should be, with you, the perfect girlfriend for him.  Once you get him back, don’t take him for granted – a relationship… love… is something you must work on and maintain so that the fire keeps burning, if you just leave it unattended it’ll either go out or get out of proportion and burn down a whole forest.

Laziness is why most relationships fail, and that’s what happens when people take each other for granted. Don’t be one of those couples. Take initiative if he doesn’t, you can totally do it! I believe in you.

 

p.s.: Here’s the 8th step – DO NOTHING. It’s a bit unexpected, but can work to. Simply, don’t call him, don’t try to get back in touch (if he left you), and just wait, forget about him, move on… show power by not making the first move, he’ll wonder how come you didn’t try to get him back. It might be an alternative idea. If nothing else works.

Once you get him back – drop a comment below, let us know what has worked for you, what you did, how and why? Others could benefit from your experience.

Jason

Menopause – The Truth And The Surprise Ending

“Your boat is on a very choppy sea,” said Maryann knowingly. She is one of the select older and wiser women in my life, who got me through a turbulent period, back there.

I was recounting my story to her with my head in my hands. Life had suddenly become very confusing. Continuing the travel analogy, one minute I was cruising a marvelously lit highway in a 4×4. The next, without noticing, I had taken a wrong turn, I was bouncing down a dark dirt track in a banger.

“How did I get here,” I kept asking, “and,” (more to the point) “how can I get out? ” I was used to problem solving and multi-tasking with executive efficiency. As a journalist and broadcaster working in the fashion industry for over 30 years, while raising a family, running a business and campaigning for a variety of women’s issues in my daily practice, I had not signed up for this chaos. I quickly became anxious about what each new day would hold.

Every woman’s experience of the menopause is different. It’s a process of oestrogen and progesterone withdrawal and it will impact you in a unique way, because you are unique. Everyone I have spoken to laments the taboo nature of talking about what to expect, but perhaps we could all feel less ambivalent about the forthcoming rite of passage if we knew menopause delivers a mind-blowing mid-life recalibration – one with a valuable message of growth and expansion.

For me it started with Titanic sinking feelings, which amplified the tension and discomfort of unresolved problems in my life. I was working hard in a career I loved but one minute I’d be up, the next I’d be wearing a cement straight-jacket hurtling to the bottom of a murky abyss accompanied by the voice of condemnation. “You really are finished,” it would say.

Then there was the brain fug that convinced me I was going down with early dementia. Industry knowledge evaporated and I found myself unable to remember names, events and dates. My vocabulary shrank too. I would have to script myself to within an inch of my life to feign work-place competence. At home, both daughters would play ludicrous guessing games to get me to the end of my sentence and my youngest still reminds me of the day I forgot her name.

There were minimal physical affects however. I dutifully utilised insomnia to fit in extra work and I could tolerate the mild heat surges any day, but I know some women are driven to distraction by the intensity of night sweats and day-time hot flushes. I asked my mother and an older girl friend for insight. The words ‘Plain Sailing’ and ‘out the other side in no time,’ were bandied about. My GP said I sounded alright to her.

Meanwhile, I was medicating myself with generous amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon each evening. Anesthetising anxiety and panic attacks this way helped me limp on for a bit longer, clinging to the remnants of my previously ordered existence. Then I made an important decision. I stopped and stood still. “What do I need to understand?” I asked myself, having read enough to realise that female bodies are powerful intuitive barometers and mine was trying to tell me something. This is what I learned.

I routinely put others first which meant racing through my life over-achieving and under-prioritising me.

The voice was right: I was finished. But an ending of the way I had been living would be a very good thing. Since leaving Uni I had put in very long hours building a career. As a dedicated parent and partner, I routinely put others first which meant racing through my life over-achieving and under-prioritising me. Exhausted and running on empty, letting go of my expectations of me would be the first positive move.

In menopause our body roars. All these years it has put up and shut up and now will not tolerate abuse or disrespect any longer. This commotion is simply a demand by your newly awake self for quality not quantity, for re-evaluation and re-balancing. Perhaps (when your time comes) you plan to put your hands over your ears? Think again, there is nothing so primal and immediate as your body’s hormonal call to action.

I listened. I cut myself a break. As a result I’m no longer buckling under the stress of numerous projects running concurrently. I’ve made other changes too. I attend less time-wasting meetings, engage in much less unwaged work and collaborate more selectively. I’m thinking about the bigger picture as I celebrate my strengths and focus on the positives, while gracefully accepting my limitations… finally.

Now, for the first time, free of hands-on child-wrangling (the final child, birthed at 41, is 16) I’m in an intense relationship with myself. It’s a joy, as the voice inside me grows stronger and more enquiring of new perspectives. I have grown my hair and grown out my colour. Shedding old ways and reframing people’s perceptions of me, I left the People Pleaser behind. This has been an act of common sense.

“She’s let herself go.” A deliberately pejorative judgment reveals disapproval of maturing feminine appearance. The assertion that we could try harder to cling on to our youth supports every unrealistic beauty claim for anti-ageing balms and unguents and every marketing prompt for hair dye. I’m not buying it. Let’s get one thing straight: our gender has been groomed to self-objectify while beauty corporations grow rich and prosperous. In the process of consuming femininity as a set of unrealistic appearance goals, perhaps we have become blind to our internal exquisiteness and it’s time to open our eyes.

I love fashion and self-styling and I have great fun with my image, but I don’t play the patriarchal game of defining myself as decorative dressing in a man-made world. Maybe this has helped me to embrace the thrill and privilege of age with its intellectual and experiential gifts. I do believe that if we can stop focusing solely on exteriors and start embracing personhood, post-menopause becomes a position of status and composure.

For the record… We do not let ourselves go, just the flotsam and jetsam of an earlier existence.
The mirror becomes less important in the most fundamental way with the realisation that age does not equal atrophy and that we are not diminished by the passing of years. Instead we are intensified, our force amplified and our knowledge expanded.

I’m not pretending life miraculously becomes uncomplicated and undemanding – challenges await every age and stage. Women, however, are great facilitators of others so in menopause we can and must reclaim our time and assets for ourselves. This is not selfish, this is smart.

The simple truth is that just like the adolescent surge of hormonal activity providing an exciting gateway to adult sexuality, menopause, (the process in reverse and in withdrawal) enables an additional and equally compelling portal into yet another selfhood. Step towards this doorway with confidence that once out the other side you will be renewed. Unlike me, you might prepare yourself mentally and physically beforehand by choosing less stress, more sleep, a healthy diet and supportive friends. You are not powerless, when you choose to surrender to something bigger than you. Treat yourself with kindness and tolerance as the bio-chemical make-up of your body re-arranges itself. It will be an education so expect enlightenment.

Post-menopause needs renaming and reclaiming for what it truly is, a magnificent time of curiosity, creativity and rank. It’s not surprising that some societies have been threatened by this natural female evolution to leader and mentor. In Pagan times of Goddess Worship, female tribal elders were respected and celebrated but with the introduction of Christianity came the brutal persecution of middle-aged women as witches and heretics. As feminist history explains, older women were simply channeling their menopausal force to intervene in an oppressive culture that undermined female wisdom and equality.

Hundreds of years later the quest for gender parity and fairness remains and growing old without self-reproach is one deliciously subversive act all women can embrace. Use everything the fashion and beauty worlds offer but bring these products into your life on your terms. There is no need for any woman to feel ambivalent, even fearful of ageing, in fact with the right physical and mental health supports, we can thrive. Having roused the ancient mystic, healer and tribal elder in me, I am on the journey towards Cronehood, and I love it.

Here are a few practical tips to get you through…

Getting physical and emotional support

I was introduced to bio-identical hormones and unlike the one-size fits all HRT from the NHS, BIH is a bespoke system that can be tailor-made for each woman. There is a cost but it was the best £500 I have spent. Dr. Lynette Yong read my blood test and prescribed DHEA. This hormone can be converted to whatever is needed by the body. My memory improved instantly. The progesterone cream I would later take would act as a calmer to alleviate anxiety and stress. I now pay a fraction of that to repeat my prescription every couple of months.

Systematic Kinesiology

Francesca Topolski uses muscle testing to tell which minerals the body is deficient in and can restore the body’s balance with dynamic effects. My magnesium levels were low and my adrenal glands were stuck in fight or flight mode which in turn created insomnia (this would have also caused memory problems.) She helped me to make small changes with big impacts.

Counselling

Make it a post-menopausal woman and a wise old sage. Since menopause amplifies emotions, you will find unresolved issues become more urgent to look at. Be prepared to take responsibility for your own contribution to the areas in your life that aren’t working and be ready to take action. My Maryann was recommended by a good friend – you need someone in your area who comes through the same channel. Ask for recommendations or look through a directory but check testimonials.

Reading

The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup. This was my bible. Dr. Christiane gives advice on every stage your body will go through and how to alleviate the many symptoms. She cites medical studies in support of your femininity, intuition and power that will thrill you while combining spiritual and personal stories of herself and other women to help you get to calmer waters.

Bio Identical Hormones By Dr. Uzzi Reiss, will help you understand your symptoms and get involved in your meds!

The Crone – Women of Age, Wisdom and Power By Barbara G Walker, invaluable for your re-calibration – unlearn what you have learned.

Women’s History of the World By Rosalind Miles. Celebrate women and their amazing grit, determination and ingenuity.

Fitness

Now is the time to begin Yoga or some other regular and calming activity. 20 minutes most mornings will create a new and focus headspace as well as a supple and strong body.

Clothes and fashion

I love dressing up more than ever. Quality and good design is key to promote modernity and sophistication. I love wearing clothes by emerging designers and I prioritise up-cycling and sustainability.

Beauty and skincare

Organic products like Liz Earl and Weleda keep my skin supple and perfume (my current favourite is Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street) gives me a true lift.

Hair

Make sure you are working with a knowledgeable hairdresser to achieve your chosen natural tone. Matthew at Charles Worthington helped me over a period of years to grow out sections of coloured hair first and then create high and low lights around the crown to disguise change-over

Talk

Explain to your loved ones that you are evolving. My daughters understand the changes that have taken place and I’m happy they are now better prepared for their eventual menopause than I was. My husband was kind and considerate. Sharing my vulnerabilities and challenges strengthened my relationships and my honesty was appreciated.

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29 Tips and Tricks for Traveling the World with Kids

 

 

Pulling off a great family vacation requires a lot of planning, patience and effort. You get better at all this the more you do it. You stay more focused on what’s important — and less on what’s not. I’ve traveled a lot with my kids — and learned a lot of lessons — these are my top tips for having a great time while traveling with children.

Planning Your Trip

1. Check the validity of your passports. Be sure they’re good for 3 months after the day of your arrival home. Many people make the mistake of thinking that as long as they’re back home before their passports expire they’ll be fine. (It seems like common sense doesn’t it?) But not so. Authorities will often demand that your passport be good for several weeks — even several months for some countries — past the day of your arrival home. Some airlines will not let you board the plane if there is not enough extra time on your passport.

2. Scan your passports and email them to yourself, along with any other important documents — e.g. green card, birth certificate, the visa pages of your passport. If you ever lose your passports abroad, this will save you a ton of time and hassle when you have to replace them.

3. Notify your credit card companies before you leave. Banks are very careful about fraud nowadays — and run algorithms on your billing history to spot any irregularities. A charge from a country or city that you’ve never previously had a charge from could easily get your credit card frozen. And unfreezing your account from a foreign city in a different time zone, will be a lot harder than just calling your bank before departure.

4. Take more than one credit or debit card. Cards work differently in foreign countries, some will work at bank ATM but not at a corner store ATM, others will work in restaurants but not at an ATM. There are a number of complex rules and reasons but if you don’t work in the banking industry you’ll never know all of them. The best remedy is to take multiple cards.

5. Make an Out-The-Door list. Leaving for the airport — as your holiday starts — is one of the most stressful times of any trip. Have a list of things you need to grab as you’re leaving your home. I don’t mean a list of things you need to take (i.e. 2 pairs of pants, 3 t-shirts ). I mean a list of things you’ll need to physically grab. It should be a last minute checklist of all the little (and big) things you’ll need as you are going out the door. There will be the bags of course, the money belt, some water in the fridge for the airport, some snacks on the counter and sweaters for the plane. Plus all the indispensables you’ll want to double-check one last time before heading to the airport: passports, credit cards, cash. There’s a lot to remember — so have a list for it!

6. Put enough in your carry-on bags for the first day or 2 of your trip. This is good advice for anyone but especially when traveling with kids. If your bags are lost you don’t want to be hunting for diapers or a pair of shorts immediately after your arrival in a new city or country.

7. Count your suitcases, backpacks, handbags and keep the number in your head. This is simple and maybe painfully obvious, but it sure helps. You hop in a taxi, “bag count — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  — yep they’re all here”. Easy. (Bigger families may want to conduct a kid count as well.)

8.Use a small digital camera. The fantastic shots you think you’ll get of the Grand Canyon, or Taj Mahal or Great Wall of China will be left and forgotten. The really great photos that you’ll love and savor for years to come will be the up-close and intimate shots of your kids and your family. And the key to getting great family photos is to take a lot of them. A ton of them! And the way you do that is to take a small camera, have it with you all the time and take pictures as quickly and discreetly as possible. You might insist, I’ll do all that, but with a bigger better camera. But you probably won’t.

9. Book a hotel for your first nights of your trip — but then stay flexible. My advice for traveling singles (or couples) is always to book a hotel for their first night after arrival, then get your bearings, figure out where you want to go and just find hotels as you need them. I’ve upgraded this for traveling families — reserve the first 2 or 3 nights. I realize this advice won’t work for everyone. Some people need certainty and plans and dates. And having all your hotels reserved for the duration of your trip can make things easier. But you’ll also lose some flexibility. If something’s working — if you’ve found a great little beach resort or a really fun hotel with a friendly staff — you’ll have to say goodbye because you’ve already booked a room in the next town. On the other hand having the freedom to leave a place that isn’t living up to expectations is a great bonus and can make the difference between an average vacation and an unforgettable one.

Practicalities of Travel

10. Welcome — don’t fear — airport security. Security checkpoints force parents to be lean and efficient with their packing. Take what you need but don’t take what is unnecessary. Security can also be a good reason not to take stuff on the plane that you don’t want your kid to have (i.e. your kid’s new water gun). And insisting that you keep all your little bottles and creams in a Ziploc bag — what a great idea!

11. Don’t line up early for trains and airplanes or anything where you have a reserved seat. If you’re one of those people who like to maximize their time on the airplane, by all means, board early, get that seat warm, burn through all your snacks before anyone else has even boarded. How great!  You’ll have enough time on the plane without artificially extending it. As my son said on our return trip from Tokyo, “We have to go when they say final call right Papa?” Right!

12. One parent in charge. Don’t share the burden of any one duty while traveling. Packing for example. One person packs and knows where everything is. Two people pack and no one really knows where anything is. Same with hotels. One person plans them, arranges them, and books them. Do you have that confirmation email or do I? Na-Uh!

13. Get online storage for photos. Besides losing the kids, my photos are what I’m most concerned with losing. Forget your bag on the train platform and there goes your camera — and your photos. You can get free online storage at Adrive (50GB) or SkyDrive (25GB). (You will need a laptop, of course, to upload your photos.) Upload your pictures every night or two and then when you take your camera out on that fishing trip you’re not worried about dropping your camera and losing the last 2 weeks of photos.

14. Hire a car and driver. If you’re traveling in an inexpensive or developing country consider getting a driver instead of driving yourself. Prices are usually reasonable and they’ll know the ways and customs of the road better than you will. (Tip: have the address of your destination for longer distance trips. When you start your trip the driver will inevitably say, “Oh yes, I know where that is”, which translates to “I’ll ask for directions when we get there”. An address, instead of just a name, will help speed the process.)

Being There

15. Beat jet lag: stay up late the first night. Get outside and do something active. Long walks are good. Parks and playgrounds are great. Kids are usually so excited by their new environment you can get away with doing a lot that at home might not work. One caveat: most people forget — or don’t realize — that meal times can be way off as well in a new time zone. If your child usually eats a big breakfast and lunch but a small dinner at home. This can translate into no appetite at breakfast or lunch and then ravenous hunger at 7pm and midnight. Have a good array of healthful snacks in your hotel room on the first night.

16. Have a plan for the day. It doesn’t need to be cast in stone – stay flexible and easy going — but you should walk out the hotel door in the morning with a plan of where you’re going, what subway or bus you’re taking, what attractions do you have planned for the day? Perhaps obvious and natural to some but for me it wasn’t and once I took the time to plan the day on the night before, everything became a lot easier.

16. Check the website of the attraction just before your visit. It’s amazing how often museums will have closed for renovations, changed their schedule, or have a visiting show in place of its usual exhibits. Sometimes these changes can be nothing more than a nuisance. Other times they can ruin your plans for the day. Checking the website in the days before your visit eliminates most of this uncertainty.

17. Ask your hotel concierge for suggestions. Another obvious one that you nonetheless might skip because it sounds so touristy and lame. But they often know little tips and tricks for getting around the city and visiting attractions that can make your life a lot easier. Depending on the style of hotel asking at the front desk will often get you the owner or management who might have a monetary interest in directing you towards a certain establishment or tour group. A concierge usually has no connections at all and just give good advice.

18. Don’t do too much BUT don’t do too little either. I think the biggest mistake parents traveling with kids make is doing too little not too much. Get out there. Enjoy. Experience. Wear the kids out and get them tired.

Things to Pack

This could be a long list. I’ve picked 6 essentials.

19. A swim shirt. These make applying sun lotion so much easier. The back, shoulders and face burn the easiest and this takes 2 of those 3 out of play. But they’re not useful just on hot sunny days. If you’re swimming slightly out of the summer season — or even at a temperate swimming pool — they help keep some heat in and delay those chattering teeth for a little longer.

20. A great baby carrier or backpack. These are life savers in airports, train stations, cobblestone streets and hotels without elevators. Strollers are something to consider but if you have a little baby with you, a good carrier is close to a necessity.

21. A fabric high chair. These wrap around pretty much any type or size of chair and hold the baby in place so they can sit at the table. (There are many on the market but Totseat is a good one if you’re looking for names.)

22. A flashlight and a nightlight. Street lighting might not be as consistent as in your hometown and you’ll probably have a few nights returning to your hotel down a quiet road or path. A torch or flashlight can come in very handy. And a nightlight for the bathroom: Hotel rooms are unfamiliar and finding a bathroom in the middle of the night can be tricky. If your child — or even you — have to turn on a light it makes it much more likely they’ll have trouble getting back to sleep. A stumble over an unfamiliar ledge in a dark bathroom could make for a midnight visit to the hospital — or at least a lot of tears. A nightlight (with plug adapter if necessary) can solve these problems.

23. First Aid Tape— aka surgical tape. This stuff is great. Adhesive tape that is so much easier to apply than a band aid and actually sticks to fingers, toes, and the places kids really get cuts.

Staying Safe

Most things you do won’t make any difference. The top 5 that might:

24. Know the fire escapes. A good practice at any time but especially in foreign countries where the exits and escape routes might not be as well marked.

25. Drill your kids on swimming pool safety. When staying in a hotel with a swimming pool remind your young kids that they don’t go in the pool without telling mom or dad. Make it the first thing you do after you put down your bags in the room.

26. Get the necessary vaccines and get them early. Check with the CDC or NHS and get the relevant vaccines and anti-malarial medicines well before departure — some vaccines can require multiple visits and can take a few months to get the entire series of shots. Many adults haven’t had their booster shots, so get those as well. There’s nothing worse than getting a deep cut in place far from a hospital and then having to worry about whether your Tetanus booster is up to date.

27. Fly longer distances and avoid the highways. Flying is the safest mode of transport. There can be many reasons to drive instead of fly but don’t ever not fly and choose car or bus for safety reasons alone. The attacks on 9/11 killed almost 3000 people. Unknown to many, it also resulted in the death of another 2100 in the months that followed because people stopped flying and chose the road instead — a much more dangerous mode of transport. And that’s in the U.S. — if you’re traveling in a developing country the disparity in road and flight safety rates will be even higher.

28. Play act out unusual or worrisome scenarios. If you’re concerned about your child being lost in a busy market, then act out the scene and what they should do. If you tell a kid what to do when they’re lost, they’ll probably forget it. If you act out what they should do they’re much more likely to remember it. (There’s a reason employers do fire evacuation drills — they work!)

Last Word

29. Stay Positive! Be Happy! This can mean many things. For starters, you need a keen eye for what’s important and what’s not. With the typical boundaries and rules turned up side down, it’s very easy to become a “No, No, No, No” parent. Focus on the important stuff. Things that make your day easier and keep everyone safe. Try to hear yourself talking — you should be saying far more positive things than negative things.

Like at home, praise effort not results. Praise the process not the outcome. Comment on how hard they worked or how patient they were, not how well they did a task or how good they are at something.

And finally it means, living in the moment and taking everything in that you can. Live it! Experience it! Try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Become a kid again — explore, investigate, ask questions — and your children will come right along with you.

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To love or not to love

We all need or long to be Loved, don’t we? Well for most of us anyways… However if our heart has been broken then we may say’ never again’! And we put this not looking ‘Not looking for love shield up’ to protect us…’To protect our Heart’

It can be quite a strong unplesent emotion, while this shield is up. We can become numb, we can pretend we are tough, uninterested, esy going, not bothered and theirs a possibility that to an outsiders view ‘Unactractive. But you know what? Just when you think your not looking for love, maybe, just maybe, someone else is and maybe they are looking at you.

And then when they make contact and express their interest in you, You remember how nice it felt to be looked at from across the room, smiled at, flirted with, kissed, before you know it, you ask… How did this happen? I did’nt expect this?

You  feel this can’t be happening, because you stopped believing in love, because your heart was broken… your waiting for it to all go wrong, to end as soon as it started, your waiting to be forgotten about, you might even make excuses to to end it yourself, because you still have that proctective shield, that hurt, that question of trust, respect and doubt your heart or the feeling that are creeping in totally unkown to you.

But what if the other person believes that, to finish with each other, would be a silly thing to do, that what you have together is good, because they don’t see that proctive shield nor have they a proctive shield, because they are looking into your eyes, your sole, your emotion, your hearts are in sink with each others, it will skip a beat just to catch up.

They like this emotion, this intensity and to be honest so are you.

But heres the scary bit, what do you do when you both reliase you both care very much for each other, you enjoy being with each other, you have become friends that support each other and long to hold each other…. ‘You may even be falling in Love’. You did’nt think that was possible but right under your nose, it’s happened and it feels wonderful.

Well heres my advice, from my past broken heart, from behind my proctive shield! Relax, lower that shield, enjoy the moment, enjoy the time, the attention , the affection, enjoy that sweet happy emotion, enjoy love!

Because time is precious, time is short, time passes us by. Its better to take the risk of that emotion, those feelings of love, because love can be hard to find, consume it!

You will have learned some important things from your past, so use them, but only some of them, because its better to have gained than to have lost or to never know.

Claire

What you didn’t know about Halloween….

 

 

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

History

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The Day My Life Changed – The day I lost my sight

I get asked a lot about how I lost my sight and the group it has the most impact on are young school aged children. This is not a story to engender pity, but to educate, to drive home that tragedy/accidents can happen anywhere.

As a child we always think nothing bad can happen to us. We go through life thinking that anything bad will happen to everyone else and that there are no consequences to our actions.

I remember the age of when my life changed forever! I was 12 years old when my world was turned upside down. A teenage boy was dared by another teenager to push me off the top of a slide. One of the very tall twisty ones. During this time slides were on concrete and not soft sand. There was no where for me to go. I heard the dare, flying through the air and then waking up in the hospital.

I woke up strapped down in a hospital bed and everything was black. I panicked! I called out and no one answered for at least 5 minutes. When they finally did I was told what happened, that I had patches on my eyes and was strapped down so that I wouldn’t try and take the patches off. Of course this just made me more upset and I panicked even harder.

For a long time after that event I was severely depressed. I had no idea how I would cope. For me my life was over! Thanks to 2 very good friends of mine I was made to see that I could still do all the things I loved. I just had to find another way of doing them!

As you can see my story was not an accident, but done on purpose. Maybe that boy didn’t know how bad things would turn out, but he had to know what he was doing was wrong somewhere. All the times adults say “don’t rough house in the playground” is for a good reason.

Tragedy/accidents can happen anywhere!

 

May

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Anna Nicole Smith – Legend of the month

 

Born on November 28, 1967, in Mexia, Texas, Anna Nicole Smith rose to fame as a model. She was named Playboy‘s Playmate of the Year in 1993. In 1994, she wed 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, who soon died. Smith spent years fighting for a share of her late husband’s estate. She starred in her own reality show from 2002 to 2004. Smith died of an accidental drug overdose in 2007.

Early Life

Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on November 28, 1967, in Mexia, Texas. A high school dropout, Smith’s dramatic life began quietly in the small Texas town of Mexia. She had a difficult childhood, growing up without her father who left the family when she was only a baby. 

As a teenager, Smith worked at a local fried chicken restaurant. There she met cook Billy Smith, and the pair married when she was only 17 years old. The couple had a son named Daniel in 1984, but the marriage later broke up. Not content with small-town life, Smith dreamed of becoming the next Marilyn Monroe.

Before her big break, Anna Nicole Smith worked numerous jobs, including as a Wal-Mart employee and a dancer. She left her son in the care of her mother, Virgie Arthur, to work in Houston at a strip club. In 1991, Smith met Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II while working at a club. She soon had her own reversal of fortune.

Fight for Fortune

Smith married Marshall in 1994. At the time, she was 26 and he was 89. The tremendous age difference between the couple surprised many, and Smith endured allegations of only being after Marshall’s sizeable fortune. According to People magazine, the bride took off for Greece without her groom shortly after the wedding. The pair also weren’t living together in Marshall’s final days, and the unusual union ended with Marshall’s death in 1995. 

Smith claimed that Marshall had promised a share of his estate, but he had not put her in his will. She spent years fighting his son, E. Pierce Marshall, in court. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, with the court’s decision opening the door for Anna Nicole Smith to collect money from her late husband’s estate, though the case was not yet settled. 

Reality Star and Spokesperson

In 2002, television viewers got an inside look at Smith and her wacky, quirky ways with a new series. The Anna Nicole Show, a reality program, followed her through her daily activities. At times, the show was difficult to watch as Smith seemed disoriented or confused, but the audience continued to tune in to see what Smith might do or say next. She was often shown in the company of Howard K. Stern, her attorney. While the show went off the air in 2004, Anna Nicole Smith remained popular with the American public.

Having struggled with her weight on and off for years, Anna Nicole Smith became a spokesperson for a line of diet products in 2003. She lost a significant amount of weight and did some modeling and acting. In 2006, Smith starred in the science fiction-comedy Illegal Aliens. Her son Daniel also worked on the project with her.

Personal Problems

While her professional life appeared to be on the rise, Anna Nicole Smith experienced both joy and tragedy in her personal life. She announced that she was pregnant during the summer of 2006, and gave birth to a daughter on September 7, 2006, at a hospital in Nassau, Bahamas. She named her child Dannielynn, and was thrilled to be a mother again. But her happiness was short-lived. Her 20-year-old son Daniel died only three days later from an apparent drug overdose. Later reports indicated that the interaction of methadone and two different types of antidepressants may have caused his death. Anna Nicole Smith never truly recovered from the loss.

Smith found herself in the middle of media frenzy with reports on her son’s death appearing on entertainment news programs on an almost daily basis. She also became embroiled in a paternity lawsuit regarding her daughter. Her ex-boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, claimed to be Dannielynn’s father. Smith stated that her attorney, Howard K. Stern, was the child’s father, and he is listed on the child’s birth certificate. In the midst of all this heartbreak and legal battles, Smith and Stern held a small commitment ceremony, after which they ate fried chicken and drank champagne. While the event symbolized their devotion to each other, it was not legally binding.

Death and Legacy

Anna Nicole Smith died on February 8, 2007, at the age of 39, after being found unconscious in her hotel room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. In death as in life, Anna Nicole Smith made headlines around the world. As a tribute, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner told the press at the time: “She was a very dear friend who meant a great deal to Playboy and to me personally.”

After Smith’s death, there was much speculation regarding the paternity of her daughter, including one claim made by Prince Frederick von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband. He told the Associated Press that he had an affair with Anna Nicole Smith and believed that he was Dannielynn’s father. In April 2007, it was determined by DNA test results that Larry Birkhead was the biological father of Dannielynn. Howard K. Stern did not contest this ruling and legal custody was granted to Birkhead.  

There was also speculation over the cause of the reality star’s death, with authorities eventually announcing that it was an accidental drug overdose. Smith had been taking nine different kinds of medication in the days before her death. Stern and two others were later found guilty of crimes associated with her death. All of these convictions were thrown out in 2011 except for a misdemeanor against Smith’s psychiatrist.

That year, the battle over Smith’s claims on Marshall’s estate once again made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. This time, it was determined that the earlier Texas probate court finding against Smith would stand. Legal proceedings would continue until 2014, with a judge ruling against another lawsuit brought forth by Smith’s team.

In 2012, Stern again faced legal consequences for his alleged role in supplying Smith’s prescription drug habit. The Second District Court of Appeal objected with the vacating of these convictions against Stern. The court stated that it believed that Stern may have “knowingly participated in conduct designed to avoid detection and scrutiny” in regard to the prescription drugs used by Smith, according to Eonline.com.

While ridiculed by some for her spacey persona, Smith was also admired for her rise to success despite so many personal obstacles. Perhaps the quintessential underdog, Smith had lots of fans rooting for her to overcome the recent tragedies. Unfortunately, that was not to be. After her death, she has been compared to many of Hollywood’s beautiful women who died too young, including Jean Harlow and Anna Nicole Smith’s personal favorite, Marilyn Monroe.

Smith continues to be a subject of great fascination and speculation to this day. Her life and sudden death has inspired numerous books, documentaries and movies. In 2011, an opera entitled Anna Nicole—telling Smith’s tragic tale in song—debuted in London to mostly favorable reviews. In 2013, Lifetime TV network released The Anna Nicole Story, with Agnes Bruckner starring as the troubled pin-up and Martin Landau portraying J. Howard Marshall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Financial help and benefits for single parents

 

By Karen Holmes, Welfare Benefits Specialist at the charity Turn2us

According to official statistics, over a quarter of households with dependent children are single parent families and there are two million single parents in Britain today.*

Sadly, children from single parent families are twice as likely to live in poverty as children from families with two parents.** With the rising costs of food, energy and childcare placing increased strain on household budgets, it’s more important than ever that those families who are struggling can claim the financial help they are entitled to.

The following guide explains the financial support that could be available to single parents and how they can access it.

Benefit entitlements

The first thing parents can do to see if they can maximise their income is to check which welfare benefits and tax credits they might be entitled to.

Whether you are working or not, if you are on a low income you might be eligible to claim Child Tax Credit which helps with the costs of bringing up a child. The amount you could receive is made up of different elements based on your personal circumstances including how many children you have, and whether or not they have any disabilities.

If you are working and on a low income, you may also be entitled to Working Tax Credit, a benefit that includes a Childcare Element to help with the costs of registered or approved childcare. Single parents must work at least 16 hours to qualify.

Single parents, who are responsible for a child under five and are not in work, or working less than 16 hours a week, may be entitled to Income Support.

Other benefits you may be eligible for depend on your household income and situation. Even if you have checked your entitlements to benefits in the past, it is important to check again, especially if you have recently experienced a change in your circumstances. The free and easy-to-use Turn2us Benefits Calculator will help you work out what you are entitled to, the amounts you could receive and how to make a claim.

If you are a single parent with a child about to turn 16, you may also like to try this tool from single parent charity Gingerbread to work out if your welfare benefits and tax credits will be affected when they reach their next birthday.

Charitable grants

There is generally low awareness of charitable grants, and research by Turn2us found that nine out of ten people on low incomes had no idea that this help may exist. Yet there are over 3,000 charitable funds available which help people in different circumstances including single parents.

The funds award one-off grants for educational and welfare purposes, as well as other forms of support to those who meet their eligibility criteria. 

Turn2us has a free and easy-to-use Grants Search tool which provides access to all of these grants so you can find ones that best meet your situation. This also includes details of each fund’s eligibility criteria and how to apply. 

Other financial help

Claiming certain welfare benefits may make you eligible to receive other help with the costs of raising a child.

For example, if you claim one of the following: Income Support; Income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; and in some cases Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit, and are pregnant or have a child under four, you may be entitled to receive Healthy Start Food vouchers, which can be exchanged for free milk, fruit or vegetables, or free vitamin supplements. Claiming some of these benefits may also make you eligible for free school meals for your children.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to receive help with school uniforms and free school travel for your children. You can find further information about all of these benefits on the Turn2us website.

Further information and tools

Single parents who would like help with budgeting can try Money Advice Service’s budget planner tool and if debts are becoming a worry for you, the Money Advice Trust offers online debt service My Money Steps and National Debtline, a free confidential helpline (0808 802 4000).

Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parents provides money advice and support through its website and helpline.

Jane’s story

One person to have benefited from accessing support is Jane, a single mother of three who was out of work and struggling to cope with everyday costs.

By using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator, Jane identified that in addition to the Housing and Child Benefits she was already receiving; she was also entitled to Income Support at just over £70 per week.  Her eligibility for this benefit meant that she could also apply for free school meals for her two eldest children.

Jane, who is now working part-time, said: “Income Support made all the difference and helped me through a very difficult time. My job at a children’s support centre means I now get the opportunity to help other parents in a similar situation.”

* Office for National Statistics, 2012

** Households Below Average Income (HBAI) 1994/95-2011/12. Department for Work and Pensions, 2013

Booking.com

Sweet Dreams – why do we dream of people who have passed away?

Hi everyone, I have received many messages from people who have been experiencing dreams about loved ones who have passed away.
Many tell me that their loved ones are children again, or much younger and happier than they were when they passed.
Others say they dream of a parent sitting or standing beside them.
Pets can also vividly appear in our dreams.

To dream of a loved one who has passed away is a blessing.
There is so much about the universe and beyond that we are yet to discover. The afterlife remains our biggest mystery, and not until our own final moment on Earth will we ever know what happens next.
Yet despite this mystery, our subconscious is able to keep precious memories alive through our dreams. We are so lucky to receive vivid reminders of those we have loved and lost as we sleep.
After death are we younger, happier, more free in spirit?
Parents standing or sitting by our side….are they still watching over us, supporting us through their dream presence as we sleep?

It is a comfort to know that despite our loss of a loved one, we can at times, as we sleep, feel their presence and know that somehow their memory and spirit lives on within us. Somehow they are still with us, and for just a moment, the physical connection is brought back to life.
Is this a sign that love is eternal?
Life goes on, and we cry many tears for those we lose.
Feel blessed when you dream of a loved one who has passed away. It could truly be the most beautiful miracle of all.

Sweet Dreams x     https://www.facebook.com/dreamsanalysis/