Follow me if you will as I try to navigate through the ups and downs of my world.
I'm writing this blog to help me make sense of all that has happened - from my diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma while pregnant with my third child in May 2008, through to my reflections on chaotic family life as I try to pick up the pieces of my life again.
The kids are so small, and I'm working hard to keep us all safe and to stay in remission.
Stay with me - it won't be all doom and gloom I promise!
Things are ticking along here - busy as usual, but nothing new there.
And for me, things have moved on. I've been accepted on to the four year clinical training for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, which starts in September. It's a full-time training - I'll work for the NHS as a trainee up here in Newcastle four days a week and then travel one day a week down to Leeds for all the academic stuff. Eeek! I've worried and wondered and thought and considered if it'll all be too much on top of the family, and I hope it won't. We'll see. It'll be strange to leave teaching behind after more than twenty years.
I'm writing too - in fact I've been Mslexia magazine's guest blogger for the past three months, writing about trying to find my 'inner artist' and unlock the creativity hidden deep inside (!!!). You can read these posts here: Mslexia Blog
Last week I had an operation, and while I'm recuperating and waiting to feel fighting fit again, I've decided to resurrect my blog. I might even re-name it, as my calamity thankfully feels so far behind me now - Hattie was five in May and I'll be five years in remission in January 2014. How very, very lucky am I?
My new blog may focus more on my writing and my reading - but will still have all the family stuff in it: where else will I vent my feelings?
We're getting a dog. Well, actually he's a small black labrador puppy who smells delicious. And we're picking him up on Saturday. He's called Stanley.
I am spending the week veering wildly between feelings of excitement and intoxication which easily matches the kids' delight, and feeling weak at the prospect.
I'm trying to quell the voice which is asking exactly why we're taking on a puppy when by the end of the day I pretty much already feel at my limit.
By the time I've gone to work, tried to write (ha ha), given evening private tuition, taken the kids to and from school, made tea and dinner, cleaned up, washed clothes, done the shopping, travelled to Leeds once a week in preparation for my psychotherapy training next year....I'm kind of exhausted to put it politely. Although that's not all in one day. I'm being dramatic, right?
But - we've been thinking about a dog for a while. I'm hoping that finding time for a walk every day will do me a lot of good and the happy presence of his whole being radiates joy for life. That's got to be good karma.
I'll tell myself that early in the morning while I'm trying to get the kids ready for school and the puppy is flying around.
And he'll sit still for Coronation Street, I'm sure.
I'm following Julia Cameron's 12 week programme to find myself as a writer! So now, in the quest to unblock myself and find all the creativity which is carefully hidden underneath everything else (I'm told it's there, I just have to believe) I'm setting the alarm clock for a seriously ungodly hour when even Ed is still asleep, and I'm writing. I'm writing anything which comes into my head - they're called the morning pages, and all I have to do is write until three of the pages in my (un-necessarily large) notebook are filled. I'm trying to do this every morning, come what may, and it's very tiring. But I'm going to bed earlier in preparation for it - which has to be a good thing - and so far I'm managing.
I'm also trying to inject more silence into my life.
Well, I've realised that I'm very attached to words. All day long, I'm talking, reading, writing, listening to the radio and watching TV. However exhausted I am at the end of the day, I take a cup of tea to bed, and I read. And I wonder if all these words are interfering with me finding my own? They are filling a need in me which I would need to fill myself if they weren't there. Maybe I could write if I'd spent part of the day in silence and with silence? Noise is distracting me from myself, I think. And it's taken me a long time to realise that. I have considered a complete TV ban for six months - and I'm still considering it, although I'm finding the idea of managing without Coronation Street rather a challenge.
So with all three kids in school, and my teaching very sporadic indeed due to a childcare crisis, I've decided that this is the time to take action. Wish me luck?
Back home now! Not sure where the beauty lies.... It's been hard to spot among the crowds buying back-to-school shoes, uniforms and PE kits. Still, we've a few days left to enjoy before the alarm clock rings on a new term. Quick..... sleep.....
We're still up here in the Western Highlands - going home on Tuesday, more's the pity.
The weather has pretty much been fantastic, consequently we're going home tanned and somewhat fitter after a few weeks of walking and cycling. And today, as we were cycling along a beautiful coastal road in the soft sunshine, the sea slowly heaving in swathes of movement - the fins of two dolphins broke the surface as they swam alongside us. They were perfectly synchronised; the arcs they traced made beautiful shapes in the air, before they slid back again under water.
We were all utterly entranced - the kids shouting, "there they are!" after every silvery glimpse. I felt quite emotional at the unexpected beauty of the moment.
It'll be hard to match that back home in the city - I guess there's beauty there too; it's just harder to spot.
My writing course was amazing. It was a real retreat - five days staying with new and interesting people in Ted Hughes' old house in North Yorkshire. There was no internet, no TV, not even a radio. The tutors were brilliant, but scary: Tim Pears who has written seven novels to high acclaim, and Patience Abgabi, an incredibly talented and terrifyingly frank poet who gave unstinting and critical feedback on any work one dared to give her. But unstinting and critical was what (I told myself) I wanted - once I'd picked myself up from the floor! Every morning we had a workshop taught by both tutors, an hour and a half each. Sitting around the long wooden table (where surely Ted Hughes worked on his poems) we'd write and read out and try to develop good practice and discipline.
We took it in turns to cook, which was companionable and fun, with new people to be with. We drank wine in the evenings and talked in the unfettered way that you can with people whom you don't know very well.
I felt strange when I arrived and then very strange and disorientated when I left. I wrote lots of stuff -some good, some needing work and some needing the bin - but the point is that I wrote. I'm determined to continue to do so, every day if I can manage although that's proving difficult already.
What the course showed me was the extent of the gap between where I am now as a writer and where I'd need to be if I wanted to publish anything. I'm planning to use this year to work on closing that gap just a little.
And now we're back up in the Highlands of Scotland staying for a few weeks again in my mum's lovely house. The sun is shining and the kids are shouting- as usual. Will I get inspiration? I hope so. But we've been for a lovely bike-ride this morning - I'm achy and feel as if I've woken up muscles which haven't been used in the daily grind. So that's good. I need more of that. Oh - and I've just started Hilary Mantel's sequel to 'Wolf Hall', 'Bring up the Bodies'. And I'm already heavily immersed in the Tudor world, which can prove problematic at breakfast time! I'm definitely more interested in Thomas Cromwell than is good for me.
I'm a mother with three kids under eight whose demands, squabbles and general existence take up unimaginable swathes of time. I've also secretly always fancied myself as a bit of a writer - though not with much evidence to show for it - so maybe writing this will prod me in the right direction. We'll see.