Perhaps it’s my age…

perhaps it’s my age, liberating me from unhelpful embarassment and restraint; perhaps it’s my illness and the concept of living every day as if it might be my last; perhaps it’s just that it was the right time for me to free myself and express opinions without fear of offending or starting a real discussion. Whatever the trigger or catalyst, I find myself in unfamiliar, and actually rather wonderful territory. I’m expressing my opinion and enjoying it!

i’m not sure if it’s a British thing or a female thing, or perhaps it was a cultural one, but I’ve spent the majority of my life keeping my opinions largely to myself; the exceptions to this have been the times when I’ve chosen to get involved with like-minded groups where our purpose is to express these shared views.

At home, I was taught that I should stay quiet and allow adults to talk as they had more experience (read: “be quiet, you know nothing”).

At school, the message was to listen unless you had something exceptionally clever to add to the lesson (read: “you’re an average student, you have nothing to add”).

At Sunday School, I failed to pay attention as I was convinced from a very early age that there was going to be no “god” in my life, and thus was taught Only one thing, that hate travels through generations and we have to choose to be the place where that ends.

I have always hated political correctness and the idea that I’ll be offending someone no matter what my opinion, and that therefore I should say nothing. And as I have always feared, this silence is dangerous and can spread faster than any cancer. Whole States sit in silence so as not to offen the religious rights of another, and allow wars and genocides to occur whilst they sit in silence.

well, not me. Not any more. Perhaps it’s my age…..

Don’t tell me I’m a failure!

Heart Failure; the latest addition to my long and boring list of ailments. Added, in name at least, only today. My “regular” appointment with my new Cardiology Nurse turned out to be anything but and two and a half hours after she asked me if I understood why my new Cardiologist had arranged for me to see her, I was sat in the car park with a new label to contemplate; Failure. My heart was in failure; 50% failed, level three failure out of four levels.

Ten days ago, after two years and two months on a cocktail of heart meds to keep me alive started to cause depression and suicidal thoughts, I stopped taking my Beta-blocker nd within 48 hours I started to feel “me” returning. I was finally leaving behind my feelings of guilt at surviving my series of heart attacks and open heart surgery, I was beginning to experience joy at being in our new home.

it never stops amazing me how often we are preparing for something without knowing it; I know that if I had heard the news today whilst in the state of mind I had been in, just a couple of weeks before, it would have felt overwhelming, it might well have been the last straw.

Today, however, the woman who heard the news that she was going to face yet another challenge, that despite everything she’d been through, there was going to be another test, was the woman who was told she would never be a mother, never make it to thirty, never walk again after her car accident, and wouldn’t live after 19 hours and a failed quintuple heart bypass. Today, Dinah had returned and I wasn’t going to accept that my heart was a Failure.

my heart, my rather over-damaged, over-stressed and over-worked heart, is a remarkable thing; the engine that’s kept running despite being way past empty and kept running on fumes. My heart, which has beat despite every attempt to stop it. Failure? I think not!

Labels have no place in our lives, other than on beautiful gifts or drawers of boring documents. They don’t belong on people and they don’t belong on our hearts. My heart a failure? I’d love to see the successful version!


Bitter sweet victory?

I love watching Formula One. I’ve always loved cars; watching and driving and even being driven (as long as it’s by someone who understands the need for a gap between you and the car in front!) and I’m often referred to as a petrol Head.

when F1 announced the new cars this year, I was looking forward to it, a chance perhaps to see who would be winning when it was less about one team and more about the array of exciting drivers and what they bring to the sport.

And I haven’t been disappointed, it’s been exciting to watch with several changes at the top and inter-team battles that add to the feeling that it’s anyone’s Championship this year.

I’ve wanted it to be Lewis Hamilton’s time. I’ve wanted it so much as I see the joy, pride and excitement from his family watching; his father a constant support with a face that shows his delight.

yet I asked myself, as Lewis won at Singapore, “why am I not more excited that he won” “why am I not thrilled that he’s just moved into the lead for the Championship?”

It’s his attitude. His attitude has turned my support into disappointment, into a sense that this young man is still, very much, a boy.  I find myself wondering if he has a decent Mentor; someone who not only listens and supports him on his journey, but someone who tells him to put his ego back in it’s box!  A person who has the courage to say “get over yourself!” and to explain that we are all judged on our behaviour when we lose as much as when we win.

If you’re a business owner and you spend your time shouting about why others should not be a success, or making remarks that hint at discontent or sour-grapes, it will take very little time for your peers to learn to avoid you and not get involved with your network.

As a ‘Star’ whether it’s in sport or theatre, screen or radio, we’ve allowed egos to get so huge, self-confidence to become arrogance and self-belief to become cockiness to such an extent I suspect it will take a major mood-shift to change things.

So my message to Lewis Hamilton, before every victory becomes bitter-sweet, is to pack up your ego for a while and borrow some of the real passion and thrill that Daniel Ricciardo is obviously enjoying; remember those thrilling emotions you started racing for? Get back into that zone Lewis, where you’re treasuring the chance to live your dream. Many people watching wish they were that lucky.


Kicking Pain in the “As” -Attitude

“You have a serious attitude problem young lady”….

One of the most common sentences I heard at School as a child.  I did have “attitude” even from a very young age, though whether I would call it a problem is debatable.

You see, it’s my Attitude that forms the foundations for the way I cope with pain in my life.  It’s my Attitude that’s allowed me to make choices, take back control and make progress beyond expectations (mostly those of others) all my life.  In this series of blogs, I’m going to share my approach –  “Kicking Pain the As” – and Attitude is the platform on which that process is built.

I choose my Attitude; we all do.  Sometimes it is a challenge to choose a positive one, but it is still a choice we can make.  If I’m making that sound simple, it’s because I believe it is.  I know it’s not always easy, but that’s not the same thing.  It is simple, we just make it complicated.

Here’s how I think about Attitude:

If I choose to take responsibility for my mood, my attitude, my thoughts, then I can have a real impact on the outcome.  I can choose to be grumpy or feel sorry for myself; the outcome will be that I feel down, depressed, my pain becomes my focus and I lose my sense of hope.

I can, conversely, choose to be positive and celebrate each good, pain free moment in my day; the outcome will be that I look for the moments of joy, the points in my day that remind me of the wonderful people in my world, the talents I still have (don’t ever underestimate the importance of being able to make good coffee) and the things I’ve achieved.

That’s why I see it as simple – I’d take option two any day.  Simple choice.

So how about when it’s really difficult?  When I don’t believe there is anything positive?  When the pain takes over and all I want to do is say “I’ve had enough” or “This is just not fair”. What then?  Then, I choose to allow myself to wobble.  I allow myself moments, even whole days to wobble, to say those things and accept it really is not fair.  The important thing, is that I set a time limit.  It’s my choice to have that wobble, to allow myself time to say “I’m human and I have days where I feel like I can’t take any more” and it’s also my choice to say “wobble over”.

Is it easy?  Rarely.  More often than not, it requires effort and determination, courage and a few tears, encouragement from others and commitment to my promise to myself, that I would choose my Attitude, take ownership of it and commit to choosing one that is good for my heart, my soul, my family and my journey.

I’m heading for Positive – what Attitude will you choose today?

Dinah x