Home is where the heart is. Canals, lakes and waterfalls my town.

I am forever grateful for this small row of cottages and the bank of the tenant canal in South Wales where I live.

I settled here fourteen years ago.

We originally looked a bit further out from the city as houses were cheaper.

I’m so glad we did.

Don’t get me wrong readers of my blog will know we’ve had our fair share of problems massive flood thanks to storm Callum in Oct 2018

But in a way it made me fall in love with this magical place even more.

Family’s helped each other bonds and friendships were made and strengthened

It’s not a posh place to live.

Small two up two down cottages

But it’s paradise to me.

Our home is here.

Our cancer retreat and therapy cabin is here.

Our cats our dog geese swans and birds

Home is where the heart is.

My heart is right here.

For that I’m truly grateful.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Stop the clock, open the window cover the mirror

Today has been hard

The lady I have been nursing for almost a year as her soul midwife has possibly only a few days left.

She and I have over the last year become close friends and I know had we met under different circumstances we would have been good friends.

We have so much in common spiritual beliefs, sense of humour and we are both strong minded and stubborn.

Our grand daughters have been friends since baby school they are now 13

Tamika and Jayden both nannys girls.

It was through Jadens Mum I met Karen .

She had told her about my work as a soul midwife and our cancer retreat

I think you will get on she said and passed me her phone number.

She was right .

Karen was streight talking a good looking very proud women. Oh and did I mention stubborn in a very fabulous way.

She had lost her husband two years previously to cancer she had been his princess we sat and chatted about her journey.

At the mention of his name there was always a smile and a story.

He had been her Knight in shining armour

She was determined to stay as well as possible for as long as she could for her boys.

Before I knew it two hours had flown by.

So shall I come back next week? I asked .

Yes she smiled I’d like that and tell Lisa thanks for pointing you my direction.

Just before I got into my car she called me back.

The cancer she said.

Yes?

I told them I don’t want to know how long I have.

What would you do?

I don’t think I’d want to know either I said.

But it’s completely your choice

Someone giving you a time scale on life.

No one really knows.

I’d rather say I’ll die when its my time and I’m ready.

I like that she laughed.

See you next week.

So I’d call in we would chat about anything and everything.

I’d do some reflexology or massage.

We wrote funeral plans and lists.

We put everything in order.

That’s a massive part of my job

It gives back some control and reassures my patients that when the time comes

All their wishes will be honoured

I am a celebrant I trained so that I can confidently offer funeral and wedding services too.

So we plan everything nothing is left to chance

We write wills.

Then when all the serious stuff is sorted

We get on with living.

Quality of life.

Being comfortable.

Getting out and about

Shopping , for coffee.

I’ve even had one lady request we go on a roller coater

Twice! She loved it.

I didn’t

You get the picture.

I spent this evening making memory jewelry from karen’s finger print and her grand daughter jaydens.

It’s solid silver

So that Karen will always be with her.

Karen has been my friend even if only for a short time.

Her grand daughter has been amazing for a thirteen year old.

She has sat chatting with her in the hospice gone out with her on shopping trips.

It’s a joy to see Karen’s face light up when she sees jayden come in.

She told me she isn’t afraid of dying just afraid of not being around for Jayden.

Last Wednesday was her last good day we spent it together laughing drinking tea and watching T.V I put he in bed before I left and tucked her in.

As I kissed her head she caught hold of my hand.

You’ve been my nurse and my friend she said smiling at me I love you Joolz and I want to thank you.

No thanks needed I kissed he head again try to get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning

Night mam she joked.

I walked out into cold October air and a tear ran down my cheek.

Let it be peaceful I asked the universe.

The next morning I walked into her room towel over my arm to wash her hair how did you sleep I asked.

She looked at me blankly.

Talking about painting the ceiling and how wiccans and dwarfs were playing rugby for Wales.

My heart sank.

Last stages of liver cancer often present a dementia like confusion

I sat by her holding her hand.

joolz it’s you! I’m sorry I can’t go shopping today.

I kissed her forehead.

That’s fine I reassured her the weather is awful let’s rest today we can go next week.

I called the doctor to her as I rang her family.

Things changed quickly.

36hrs later I received that call can you come back to the hospice Joolz it’s time.

My clothes are ready I’m dressed in minutes. Kiss my husband goodbye and step out into the cold night air.

As I’m walking to the car I’m ringing her son’s to tell the the news as I then drive to pick up her Jay grand daughter.

All of this has been planned.

Everyone knows it isn’t set in stone you have no idea how you will feel.

when ‘that’ phone call comes.

As I pull up outside the house jay comes out the image of her nan in younger years

As she gets in the car I ask ar you sure you want to come?

She’s stubborn just like her nan I know the answer

She nods and we head to the Hospice.

The roads are empty she looks at me and asks.

“Joolz what will it be like?”

How do you answer that

Shes 13 her nanny’s girl.

She’s sleeping I say, hoping I can find the right words.

She can still hear you. Talk to her tell her your there.

Hold her hand.

If at any point you need to leave the room that’s okay.

However you want to do this it’s okay.

She nods and we pull into the car park.

She is lying in bed much the same as when I left her last night

Breathing heavier I kiss her gently on her forehead

Ive brought your girl I tell her taking her hands from under the blanket

I sit her son’s beside her jay sits holding her hand gently like precious porcelain.

Im here nan she says.

I remember her as a cheeky four year old no teeth full of mischief slurping jelly at my granddaughters birthday party.

When did she bloom into this beautiful caring strong young.

My heart breaks for her.

I tell them all I’ll just be outside for ten mins to give them some time to say the things they need to.say.

Tell her anything you want I say. I’m right outside the door.

As I come back in I stand back and take in the picture before me.

Hands holding hands words softly spoken a room filled with love.

I sit beside Jay.

We silently watch her breathing slow her youngest son looks at me and asks is she going .

I nod

I love you mam he sobs .

It’s okay my friend You can go now, Leon is waiting.

At 5.45 she leaves us peacefully.

This passing was beautiful. A family holding vigil no pain as she quietly stepped from the earth plane to spirit plane .

I can’t help but feel my world will be a little less bright without her in it.

I kiss her gently and whisper safe journey home my beautiful friend.

As I picture her husbands joy at having her back in his arms.

His princess.

Goddess bless you Karen ❤️

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Gratitude, simple things, amazing inspiring people

I’m lying here in bed thinking about my day.Incase this is the first of my posts you have read I’m a soul midwife / therapist I run Ravens Retreat.I provide care, support, nursing and therapies for cancer patientsI have a little cottage that I offer free breaks in for cancer patients and their families.Yes you heard right FREE.No catch.It’s my service to the community and my goddess.How do I fund it?I work full time for the NHS community mental health team.It’s the only way to pay the bills and run the cottage.Not ideal I know but until I find someone who can help me apply for grants and fund raise (we are registered as a non profit company)I’ve no choice.This means I work a 70+ hour week.And I juggle between the two.So today .I go to see a lady I’m working with in the HospiceShe has stage 5 cancer stomach, lymphatic, liver.Final stages she’s 56 I took her into the Hospice four weeks ago they thought she may not last the night.She’s still here a true warrior over the past 14 months we have become good friends.Today as I go into her room she is sleeping I sit quietly besides her. He skin and eyes are yellow she has lost so much weight I pick up a book we have been reading.She opens her eyes and smiles at me “Joolz”Why didn’t you wake me?You looked so peaceful I say and I’m not in any rush.Within a min she is sitting upright giving me instructionsI smile as I get her a cup of tea, make sure it’s ….Strong and hot I laugh..You know me well she says.I put her in her wheel chair and we go down to the sunshine lounge.We sit and chat whilst I do a reflexology treatment on her feet.Rose oil surrounds usCan you do my shoulders she asks..Of course I rub oil into her back a tattoo of an all seeing eye looks back at me she loves all things Egyptian.She takes great pride in making me laugh at the fact she had visited Egypt many times but has never seen a prymidI’ve had a good life she says.But this now is no life is it?My hands are on her shoulders she places her hands on mine .Thank you she says.Your welcome I whisper.I push her back around to her room telling her I will be calling in on her grand daughter on way home to take a mould of her finger print.It’s to make a silver memory necklace I will place her finger print with her granddaughters and put it on a silver chain.Can you put nan on back of my print she asksOf course I say.Keep your eye on her when I’m gone she says.I catch my breath.My grand daughter and hers are friends.I squeeze her hand I will .I fix her bed and help her in.Pull the covers up around her neck as she likes them and tuck her in.I’m so tired she smiles at me closing her eyes.I kiss her gently on her head. See you tomorrow.If you need me in the night ring I say as I’ve said every dayShe smiles thank youNight night MammyShe laughs.As I walk away pull her door shutWalk out into cold December air I’m beyond thankful for my small part in her journey.It’s a privilege to walk with her to the end of this path.Such an amazing beautiful soul.Working with end of life patients changes your way of thinkingI am truly grateful every day for all that I have my health my familySometimes when I have colleagues or friends who are complaining about trivial problems I can help but ask them to role play with me.Okay I say. I’m the doctorI’m sorry to tell you that you have a terminal illness and have six to twelve months to live.The reaction bis almost always the same.WHAT…remember this is only role play.But very real for some people.Now think do the small things matter?What would you do if you only had six months?Would you be more great full ?Would you heal old wounds ?Hold grudges.See more of those you care about.You get the picture.I know life can sometimes be hard.But remember it is always beautiful.Look for the joy.Gratitude is the key to happiness.

❤️

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Eric.

I was almost nineteen when I met Eric he was forty seven.

I had a daughter who was sixteen months old and I was almost three months pregnant.

I had just come back to my hometown.

After running away from my abusive husband from the north of England Id gone to stay with friends in west Wales

I’d began to relax until he knocked on the door of the flat I was staying in.

I remember how loud my heart had sounded banging i my head as I heard him banging on the door.
He had found us.

It was no use fighting him

He dragged me down two flights of stairs by my hair.

My daughter in my arms

His eyes were wild

He spat at me beat me and made me feel worthless my life was a mess.

It was a five hour drive home. I nursed my baby girl stared out of the window

Soon the green mountains of wales became the red brick council houses of the estate where I grew up.

I was back as I got out of the car my father walked across from his house. Swaying smell of beer and cigarettes.The reason is left home was him but as my Nan said I’d jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

“You’ve made your bloody bed lie in it.” He hissed I was numb. No one could save us.

After a week back home and another argument with my husband I’d wrapped up my daughter in her pram and gone out to walk around the estate where we lived to get her to sleep.

It was an old burgandy corduroy tansad pram heavy and sturdy it was a windy afternoon so I put the hood up and walked past the woods wind blowing my long hair.

I walked down to the bottom shops then back.up past the church

The vicar was mowing the grass of his big house next to st David’s he stopped and smiled.

Feeling arkward I put my head down carried on walking Cheryl was asleep tiny rosebud lips and long eyelashes she was perfect I hated the way we lived but I didn’t have anywhere else to go I’d tried women’s hostels, Wales but he always found me.

Where would it end I thought as I pulled the pram up the steps to the house.I pushed the tansad into the living room.

It was quiet quicky opened the pram scooped Cheryl into my arms and stealthily tip toed upstairs placing her into her cot gently covering her up shushing her as I shut the bed room door behind me .

Rushing back down stairsThere is a huge bang.

I jump as he begins to shout.I pathetically beg him to stop.Please don’t .

You’ll wake the baby .

The smell of whisky hits me first

Then his fist.

My head hits the post at bottom of the stairs

I struggle to my feet.

Taste of iron in my mouth

I’m still begging him thinking of my baby in her cot.

I have to keep him down stairs .He has me by the hair .

Snarling at me spit showering my face as he opens the front door to throw me out.

Im thrown out of the door onto the concrete path hands scraping scrambling to get up

To get back inside to my baby .

His back is to me he is walking into the living room where I have left the pram.

I watch in horror as he picks it up and launches it through the large living room window.

In slow motion it lands on its hood 20 minutes before my baby was in it.

He hadn’t know that I’d taken her out.He could have killed her.

I’m trying to stop him going upstairs.

I’m hitting him he’s laughing

Then suddenly there at the open front door is the man who has recently moved in across the road.

He looks calm as he tells me to come away.

Stand here he says by me.

It’s sureal.

Jeff looks startled.Who the fuck are you ?

Get out of my house .

Still the man from across the road stands firm.

I move towards himIs this how you treat your women up here?

He’s saying.My husband swings for the man.

Eric he says to me.

I’m Eric.

He hits my husband and throws him into the living room that’s covered in splintered glass.

The pram in the garden where is your baby?

Upstairs I sob.

He hits Jeff again

He is curled up in a ball.

Our dog is barking

Come on then Eric is saying or don’t you hit men?

He picks Jeff up and throws hm down the path

A police car pulls up and a familiar lady police officer gets out .

She looks at me I look at the floor.

Jeff is shouting about Eric atacking him.”The police officer puts her hand on my arm did he do this ?”

We’ve been here before she asks I say no because if I say yes Jeff has told me he will kill me.

Yes I stutter.

Yes he did and he attacked Eric.

Jeff runs at me .

Police man grabs him throws him against the car.

Bloody maniac Eric’s saying.

Can we take you to hospital she asks?

I’ll take her says Eric.

Is that okay she asks

Yes I say I’m going to be okay.

Because I know I will now.

That was the very beginning.He was 28 years older than me.

Just come back to his home town after a broken marriage and a break down.

He knew how afraid and vunerable I was

He helped me pick up glass board up windows

Change locks.Then he slept on my sofa

Supported me to get back on my feet.

He would wake me singing cliff Richard living doll.

You can’t have another baby he said to me gently after a week

You can’t look after yourself.

Your only a few months if you tell the hospital about the beatings they will help.I was horrified.

I’m keeping my baby I sobbed.

Then I’ll help you he smiled.

He took me to anti natal

Drove me to appointments.

Stayed in my house.Is he your Dad?

The midwife asked.No he’s Eric was all I could say.

I was still terrified of anything happening to my daughter.

I refused to have my baby in hospital.

It’s dangerous my doctor warned it’s a big baby.

I’ll be there said Eric I’ll.look after you.I moved to the other side of town new start

Eric had bought a van and had started a furniture removal business.

I had a lovely little house Eric was still poping in and out he put up fences layed a lawn created a beautiful garden.

Cheryl started nursery life was better.

When I woke early hours of morning 7th August 1986 I phoned Eric first then the midwife.

I’m scared I told him as I opened the door.

He kissed my forehead you can do this and again I knew I was going to be okay.

The midwifes and my doctor came Eric held me as I pushed my beautiful baby boy into the world he was 12lb 9oz’

Put the chip pan on for this lad he’s got a tooth!’

Laughed my doctor.Well done

I looked at Eric tear running down his cheek

Come here to your Dad he said as he held my baby.

In that second an unbreakable bond was madeEric had saved me when he had come back from stoke on Trent

He was a good man

My daughter held her new brother and named him Matthew.

Followed a few years later by Michael.

Eric idolised each of my children and they him

Who was it who said blood is thicker than water never met Eric.

Our children grew up we went our separate ways but aways remained friends

Matthew met and married a Belfast girl.

Eric by this time was 76

Michael would go to stay with Eric take him fishing help him around the house.

Cheryl would stay in the school holidays with her daughter. He was her dad from the minute he walked into our door as she slept in her cot upstairs.

He couldn’t have loved her and the boys any more than he did.

He started to shows signs of dementia.

Which over five years got worse.

He still lived in the family home he had come back to all those years before .He needed help now

It was decided Matthew would take him to Ireland.

To a purpose built dementia unit atound corner from his house erics own flat.

It broke Cheryl and mike’s heart to see him go but I know it was the best decision.

I went over last week to see them.

My six foot son helping his Dad walk slowly with his walking frame.

I remembered Eric proudly pushing Matthew in his pram.

That big man who saved us.

There with the baby he had held minutes after he was born

That’s what makes a dad.

Not blood but love.

Thank you Eric we saved each other x

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Belfast, titanic, making memories.

This is my second visit to Belfast. We are visiting my son and his family Natalie and my grand daughter Hattie.

It’s nine months since our last visit.

Too long .

So today Matthew has organised a trip to Titanic Museum it has been awesome.

Belfast is such a beautiful city with friendly beautiful people the weather has been kind and I’ve pinched myself a few times reminding myself how lucky I am.

My grand daughter Hattie such an easy going polite little girl an absolute joy to be with but oh how they grow up far too quickly

Lunch in the cathedral quarter at a beautiful little restaurant called Made in Belfast .

The vegan choices are stunning.

Then back to our hotel.

I’m lying here reflecting on a perfect day

I’m truly grateful for all that I have.

Family and health are everything.

Memories I shall treasure. ❤️

Life is beautiful.

So here I am in Northern Ireland for the first time.
To say it’s been a wonderful weekend is an understatement.
Me my hubby my youngest son his partner and baby flew over to see my eldest son meet his wife and daughter.
I haven’t seen him for eight years.
I think on the build up to coming I experienced every emotion possible.
I was so nervous.
Other than it being so long I have no idea why other than I really wanted it to be perfect.
It really has been.

We have eight children but to have one missing from for eight years was indescribable there was a huge hole in my life. Nothing I could do about it but wait, and hope.

But yesterday the years

just years melted away
No matter how old our children get they are always our babies.
His wife and my youngest son’s partner sat chatting comparing how similar they both are.
Although the lads disagree it was just so wonderful seeing them and their daughters together finally meeting my beautiful granddaughter was a day worth waiting for.
Belfast and everyone we have met have been so friendly.
It’s 4am and I’m lying here blogging looking forward to welcoming them to Wales taking my grand daughters walking together on the mountains.
I can honestly now say I have everything I have ever needed or wanted.
Life doesn’t get much better than this.
Never give up.
Hold out your hands to the universe and believe.
Life is truly beautiful.