You really couldn’t make this up

I walked through the gate
there standing before me was a huge 1930s detached three story house.
I’d driven past here hundreds of times and never noticed it.
hiding behind tall fir trees.
it was drizzling rain a dull damp day.
angry clouds above this huge house
I stood beside my friend Chris he looked at me.
looks a bit run down I say choosing my words
old-fashioned rooshed net curtain that haven’t seen a washing machine in a long time adorn the huge windows
I hear my mother saying “they need steeping in some Sally white bleach ‘
your not wrong mam I think.
come on then I say to Chris as we walk past the huge cars on the drive shining and polished complete contrast to the grey and dismal house.
the Adams family comes to mind says Chris as we walk up the stone steps to the first floor front door.

Rocky horror I smile
I ring the bell and we wait.

nice view across the city I say as the door is opened by a well dressed man in a suit

he struggles to open the door pushing boxes to the side of the hallway and beckons us to come in.
I introduce Chris and we take a seat in the waiting room.

Dust in corners of ceiling cracked paint spiders webs and if the windows were cleaned there would be a fabulous view across the city.
the furniture is 1970s g plan in a faded green ancient Wilton carpets thread bare in places tell of better times and I wonder if families stuck within their grief fail to notice the neglect around them as they sit here being advised on their loved ones funeral.

Waiting to pick up ashes or to view a loved one before a funeral.

I’ve worked in many funeral.homes but this is, well run down. shabby and cold. It’s shocking
The man who runs things is lovely a little aloof but I didn’t see this coming.

He asks if there’s anything I need.
No I smile
Okay I’ll go and get her, I’ll put her in the chapel of rest then I’ll come to get you.
off he goes .
I look around.
is there a secret camera I say?
Chris laughs..
we are hear as part of my soul midwife work.
I’m doing the hair and make up of a lady I’ve worked with.
before her family come to view her.
Then next week I’ll do her funeral.
Chris has come to help
for the first time
probably the only time after this.
after few mins he comes back up stairs guides us down stairs to the chapel of rest.
I swear you couldn’t make this up.
It’s under the house next to a garage

Bang bang bang constant hammering of coffins being assembled.
he opens the door creak. musty damp smell
why didn’t I video this …
blare witch goes to funeral home
there before me is a huge room set out with old wooden folding chairs
very dusty chairs
I’m wishing I’d brought a feather duster and some polish it’s set out as a chapel
wow I say.

Chris nudges me
this “could” be fabulous obviously it’s not used now
no says funeral director.
not for years

He smiles shuts the door behind us it’s dark and dismal and I’m reminded of a Steven king film

Here is chapel of rest
a door to the side is opened into what can only described as a large cupboard with a gurney trolly in there body on it looking like it’s been dropped out of a plane and landed very akwardly.
head twisted mouth and eyes open not just cold but bordering frozen.

I look around almost sureal slow motion
now first and foremost I’ve seen alot of corpses in my job
I’m not afraid or shocked I care for the body
when I go to funeral directors they are usually lying with dignity eyes mouth have been closed head straight .
You know what I mean.

Everything okay says funeral director?

There is a arched window behind him covered in dust and spiders webs
it’s winter but the flies are alive one lands on the face of the body

I flick it off
are you going to put a stitch in the mouth I ask?
(usual practice)
Oh no he says I don’t like that..

would you like a tea or coffee?

I’m tempted to ask for a gin I bloody need one

I shake my head
he leaves closing the door and I wonder what the fook is going on.
Chris is standing in the corner with a is this a sick joke look on his face .

I take out my kit and get to work.
talking chatting to my lady as I work.
well I’say to her
ou chose this place I’m betting you”ve never been here before!

Chris come help me hold her mouth closed.
I work gently hair make up fix her body into an acceptable position and close her eyes and mouth.
there is still rope around her feet from when she was brought from the hospital morge

a sticker across her chest her name and date birth.

I flick away flies

There I say as we finish
goodbye my friend

I pray her family don’t come to view in this room
it’s just beyond unbelievable and I’m glad Chris is with me or no one would believe this
we go back up stairs he is sat at an old desk.
where the sink I ask?

sink? He looks puzzled.
Yes I’ve just been handling a body id like to wash my hands.

Chris laughs nervously.
We wash our hands say a polite goodbye tell him I’ll see him to do the funeral.
we get in the car
sit for awhile
seriously that place is beyond I say.
I wonder what I can do
vow to get funeral over with then go back to speak to him
he needs to sort that place out he needs help says Chris.
help…
he needs a mop and bucket and a complete renovation I say.
The funeral went well cars staff everything was good
but behind the scenes there was a completely different story .
I wouldn’t tell the family
what could it achieve?
but I plan to go back and have a chat to see just what the score is there has to be a reason such a beautiful place has fell into such disrepair.

what do you think?

The universe has spoken #Stop

I’ve admitted defeat I’m Ill.

I’m not a person who has coughs and colds.

I think it’s genuinely because I haven’t got time to be I’ll.

I work three jobs. My most important is my work as a soul midwife. (Cancer care)

Then I also work a full time job with the NHS mental health services

Thirdly I run our cottage retreat which provides breaks and free therapies for cancer patients.

As I’ve just written this down and read it back I’m like WTF?

Something has got to give.

I did the funeral last Monday of Karen the beautiful lady I’ve been working with.

I saw her everyday in the last four months .

She lived in the next village .

The visits were around a hour maybe two a reflexology treatment, out for coffee, chatting, paper work re wills and funeral .

Sometimes just sitting.

Whatever she needed.

Then as I say I work full time which is community work with mental health patients who have a servere long term diagnosis.

Home to sort out tidy clean restock our cottage retreat.

Help my hubby to finish building our new therapies cabin out the back of the retreat .

Then sort out own house out general cleaning cooking fall into bed get up and do it all again.

Oh and on a Tuesday evenings I go to our development circle in our spiritualist church .

Wednesday evening I do healing circle.

These two things I try to protect as they are my “me time”.

Every other Friday I have my grand daughter over night as her parents work and it’s so lovely to have her to myself.

So you get the picture I’m busy.

Anyway Karen died on 28th Oct.

So a huge chunk of what I was doing stopped.

I’m convinced my body went..

Yay she’s stopped shes got time to fight this virus or whatever the f&&k this is!

So I did what I normally do.

I ignored it.

Yesterday I couldn’t get my ass out of bed.

My poor hubby despairs.

‘you won’t be told’!

He says as though I’m a naughty child have you been to the doctor’s?

I’ve rang I say sheepishly.

I hate taking medication especially antibiotics unless it’s absolutely needed.

So I agreed to night nurse medication

And a day in bed.

Rest.

I’m sure it’s the universes way of getting me to rest.

Like those stingers the police throw infront of stolen cars.

The tyres go flat and the skid sideways.

Well that’s kinda how I feel.

I can’t help think there’s so much I should be doing.

But okay universe im listening.

I’ll have a lazy Sunday I’m bed and a week off work.

Keep me entertained guys tell me what your up to.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Help.

I need help. There I said it!

I run a cottage retreat offer free breaks for cancer / end of life patients.

Im a soul midwife end of life companion and advocate for anyone who needs me.

No charge free.

Therapies visits support all free.

Im also a wedding and funeral celebrant this service is also free for patients

I also have to work full time to finance this bills have to be paid.

Car needs fuel.

Mortgage electricity oil ect.

What I need is someone to advise me and or help with funding or grants that I may be eligible for in the U.K.

My dream is to be able to devote all my time working as soul midwife but at the moment that’s not possible.

It’s so important that my services remain free.

I never want someone to think they can’t afford a soul midwife.

Donations are fine I’m good with that

There is a donate now button on my website.

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

But to enable me to let my paid job go I need some sort of funding

So do you or anyone you know have any experience of how to go about this?

I know there is the national lottery grants act but I’m hopeless at all this entails

We are a community interest company.

Completely non profit.

So I know we are eligible.

If you can help.in anyway or you’d like to fund raise for us.

I’d be eternally grateful.

Please share our website and this post.

Hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

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 ❤️

Please share our website

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

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.

❤️

Please share our website

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Ty Olwen Hospice Swansea.

As most of you know I have the privilege and honour of working as a soul midwife and run Ravens Retreat which is a cancer holiday cottage where we offer breaks and free therapies for cancer patients independently.

I find my self working mainly with cancer patients their families and hospice staff.
I witness on a daily basis the absolutely devastating effects cancer has on many.
I also witness incredible strength, love and support from all involved. Cancer doesn’t just affect one person it’s like ripples on a pond. It’s touches everyone they know in one way or another.
These last few months I’ve been supporting families in Ty olwyn hospice in Swansea .
It truly is an amazing place.
The building is bright and comfortable.
Stunning gardens.
Nursing staff and doctors you couldn’t pay for any better.

Volunteers in the coffee shop and a truly lovely man called Mal who serves dinner and constant drinks and can be heard singing and always has a smile and time to talk.
Everytime I arrive he’s there and also when I leave he’s there I’m beginning to think he doesn’t go home .
It’s a home from home a place of tranquility care and love.
I really can’t praise Ty Olwen and Mal enough.
So if ever you think your having a rough week or something is bothering you.
Drop into a hospice have a coffee and buy something from their little shop.
I assure you it will put all your problems into perspective.
#TyOlwynAngels

Please share our website

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Stillborn still Loved

I didn’t get to wake every morning and kiss your precious tiny face;
or whisper mammy loves you to make you feel safe
I was never allowed to hold you tight
when you couldn’t sleep at night
I didn’t get to sing to you a sweet lullaby,
to calm you down when you cried
I didn’t get to fall asleep with you in my arms,
all swaddled in a crochet blanket to keep you snug warm
I didn’t get to hear you laugh and giggle
or see you little tiny baby toes wiggle
There are many things I didn’t get to do,
But my tiny still born but still loved babies mammy never stopped loving or remembering you

Different Dads.

The sky is so non discript neither grey or blue like dishwater drizzeling from above
A red dirty Audi estate drives in front of me it’s brake lights the only brightness on this dull day.
Will today be the day you leave us?
I wasn’t even in the same part of the country when my own father died. I’d moved to Wales three years before we we’re estranged he was a bully and a alcoholic.
I don’t even know how or where he died. If anyone was with him
I drove back to my home town and was told in a very matter of fact way “Your old man died last night”
A pause
What?
Yes last night he died …
Another pause.
Nothing I felt nothing.
Relief maybe .
That I didn’t feel anything.
You Malcolm are the exact opposite of my Dad.
I’ve sat today listening to my hubby, your son chat to you about childhood memories you are completely non responsive but he carries on.
Stories of you and lou taking the sow to the boar. Rope tied around the back leg of a large pig , stearing it with a stick. Who knew that’s a done thing.
Down the road into the village past the pub and down the lane.
It’s starts out quite no problem until most of the dogs on in the village realise what’s happening and before you know it your like the pied piper. Pig, stick and thirty dogs following you. What a commotion!
Another story about going to fetch a Billy goat in the back of a small van.
Goat unimpressed about being transported and sticks it’s horns through the van roof so many memories.
I’m here dad he says.
He looks at me and says I came home from work because I had that feeling.
Someone was standing behind me.
He was waiting for me to come home. So I came.
Keep talking I tell him he knows your here.
My heart swells with love for him my grafter of a man.
Everything about him so like you Malcolm you taught him well.
I wish we had know each other longer I’m sure you had hundreds of more stories to tell me.
See you later Dad Lou will be here later to go fetch the m. Jeff’s says kissing you gently.
We leave to drive home in separate cars.
Dreary drizzles clouds the view from the back door over the bay.
“I watched the pier burn from this step, over at Weston super mare I here you say. On a clear day you can see ilfracombe
Your voice as clear as day Malcolm.
I know I whisper only last summer you were up there on the flat roof fixing the gutter with Jeff.
How will he live with out you I wonder ?
I’ll take care of your lad I promise.
Now go fetch the pig home xx

Final journey

I’m sitting here mid afternoon listening to you breath steady hum of the hospital bed mattress keeping you comfortable here in the living room where you have brought up your family.

Sringe driver increased dose today keeps you comfortable. You have declined this last week. Cancer…..

Your a hard man, a grafter but the pain has taken the glint from your eye.

I tell you what’s going on around us I’m taking your dog patch out, that Jeffery your son my husband will be here after work.

Always “Jeffrey” full title never Jeff.

The picture of you and Nancy hangs over the bed in younger years with your mop of dark curly hair you look greek both smiling and happy.

Memories of the past family parties birthdays, anniversaries when you and your twin brother would arrive dressed the same we would laugh knowing you hadn’t planned it. I can only imagine the trouble you two caused when you were young lads handsome and cheeky.

Before your women tamed you.

You and your Nancy.

Douglas and his Ethel

You had always been close.

Bringing your children up together. Holidaying together.

Ethel was the life and soul of the party few drinks and she would hold up her skirt dancing around with her infectious laugh. It’s a good few years since she left us cancer took her too.

I wondered how Doug would cope without her.

Now I can’t imagine how this family will carry on without you Malcolm.

Sixty plus years Nancy has loved you and your children and grandchildren idolise you.

Douglas your twin your other half. He’s never known life without you by his side.

My Jeff was run over suffered massive brain damage as a child you told me you couldn’t go to work as a lorry driver without him screaming the house down. So you would take him with you up and down the country. From here in Wales up to Scotland. I’ve never been I told you.

Go you encouraged there is no where like it.

You gave jeff car engines told him to take them.apart then rebuild them you always believed in him

He is amazing just like you are your boys run their own garage they rebuild camper vans do mots any engine Jeff can fix it.

When you and I sat talking few weeks ago you told me you’d also taught Jeff to build ‘ go and look at the fireplace in front room you winked twinkle in your eye.

You had built it.

The garage overlooking the bay. Did you build that too I asked.

“no that was Jeffery you laughed he built me a garage then put two horses in it and used it as a bloody stable!”

You are so alike. Peas in a pod . Father and son, friends.

We laughed cars and horses that’s my Jeff

That’s our link our connection Malcolm we both adore the same man. How can I thank you enough?

I sit here while your Nancy sleeps for a little while she had seldom left your side

I whisper thanks and promise I will look after your lad.

That we will take care of Nancy

I bet Ethel will be there waiting and your best friend Jock. What a party that will be Malcolm.

As Dad’s go I don’t know a better one I wish I had known you longer

When you go I whisper come back sometimes and see us I think I feel you squeeze my hand.

I whisper again to my goddess to take you gently carry you on this last part of your journey. Keep you safe

My heart hurts but I remind myself I’m blessed to have had you in my life.

Last goodbye. (soulmidwife)

Last Goodbye
Cancer was the catalyst that founded our friendship
Without it we wouldn’t have met.
A soul midwife I expected someone nursey maybe serious.
That Joolz is exactly what I didn’t get.
You came into my room like morning sunlight.
Bringing me life’s energy love and fun.
We made plans for things I’d like to do exactly my way.
Talked of my life and all that I’ve done.
I’ve shed a few tears, but we’ve laughed so much.
If it needs saying I know I can say anything to you.
Complete unconditional acceptance it’s not just a ‘job’ to you.
You’ve walked along a path I found scary
Gone before me with what to expect.
Taken worry from myself and my family.
Always treated us with love and respect.
You have a way of just fitting into families.
Into a Joolz shaped space we weren’t aware was there.
To make plans to reassure, take me to magical planes
I’d never even dreamt of before
Now when sleeping I dream of new adventures.
The wonderful places and things I haven’t yet seen.
You’ve given me the courage to go further explore without feeling frightened.
My eternal friend
Soul midwife Earth angel who needs no wings.
I know that as I leave you will be there waving and cheering me on to adventures new.
As you go on in life as a soul midwife to others know I’ll be around to cheer you on too.
Thank you.
Xx Ian.

Fingerprint memory jewellery

I love crafting. Wood has always been my favorite to work with. Runes, wands, Pyrography. It however has taken a back seat this year I’ve been busy with other things plus I managed to spectacularly burn down my beloved shed in March I say spectacularly as it was full of a year’s worth of wood I’d collected stored to dry which was all ready to be used for various projects so when I went out to walk my dog and arrived home a hour later to a fire engine blocking the canal bank and a house full of firemen who by the grace of goodness had got there in time to save the back of the house and give me a well deserved row for forgetting to switch off the tumble dryer. I was slightly more than a woops moment.

So as I said no seasoned wood to hand I was looking for something else.

I attended spirit of awen camp in August and met a wonderful lady who works with P.m.c ( precious metal.clay) jade moon you can find her on Facebook her work is out standing she is a true artist.

I loved the way it looked and shall eventually own a piece of her work.

Anyway I was looking for something I could make to give to families for soul midwife patients I’d worked with something personal a keepsake .

Jade’s work came to mind so I rang her to ask if pmc would work with fingerprints?

She gave me some pointers on moulds ect and I have to say I’m hooked.

I’ve seen fingerprint jewellery before we’re it is an actual fingerprint put onto silver. You know the type the police use.

I wanted to mould the print.

Then the mould is reusable so I can keep it and make as many pieces as may be required for the family.

It’s took me a few weeks to crack it. And a few failed attempts. Precious metal clay isn’t cheap!

It’s 925 silver when it’s fired.

I managed to buy a old tiny kiln (goddess bless e bay)

This batch ready to fire I’ve used a leaf shape I’m so pleased.

Beautiful silver fingerprint on a leaf pendant.

They will go to the family as this year’s solstice gifts.

And yes I’ve remembered to unplug the kiln!

Soul midwife problems.

As a soulmidwife (end of life care) part of my job is to support my friend (friend is used to refare to person I am working with never patient or client.) to think about and write end of life plan.

This is something that give back some control of a often difficult situation

I’ve been doing this for years we often start with a sort of bucket list.

Wish there anything that you haven’t done that you would like to do. This can be going somewhere, contacting estranged family members, writing letters, contacting or writing to children given up for adoption, writing to an abuser (trying the letter to a balloon.or burning it ) often helps and instils a sense of calm.

I’ve had a 72 year old lady who although quite frail wanted to ride a roller coaster we went to.ride speed a hair pin sort of ride at oakwood. I neednt of worried as she squeeled with absolute Glee and rode it another four times along with other rides.

We make memory boxes this helps tremendously. Thinks like photographs, letters birthday cards for the future. There are no rules

Practical things like where would you like to die?

Home, hospital, hospice?

Pain relief would you like to remain as lucid?

Obviously this is reviewed.

But first and foremost I am there for that person as much or as little as they choose.

To listen to hopes, fears, non judgemental confidential. Because often there are things that a person with an end of life diagnosis can’t tell loved ones. No mater how close

Blogging or a paper journal is something I suggest as I know I don’t have to convince you but writing things, thoughts, fears down helps.

We go shopping, I go to appointments and support friends to make informed decisions about their treatment. A few months ago I worked with an amazing lady who had a incurable brain tumor. She had been operated on and had numerous chemotherapy treatments all of which made her feel dreadful.

She decided that what time she had left she wanted to feel as well as possible. I went with her as she told her oncologist her decision. He was wonderful. As we left he asked her if she had any plans.

She smiled widely at him ‘im going to Cardiff with Joolz on the train, first class we will have lunch at the bay then buy shoes and handbags’ that’s exactly what we did

It’s an amazing job, I don’t get paid. I’d hate to think that if I charged that someone may need a soulmidwife and think that they can’t afford me.

I also have a holiday cottage on the banks of the tenant canal where end of life friends can have a long weekend or a week away from home with free therapies on hand.

Then there is the matter of a funeral plan.

Family often loose a loved one and suddenly realized that they have no idea on issues like burial or cremation, what cemetery, ashes scatted or not.

Religious or humanist service is a big one.

Families often believe that loved ones still hold same religion as they were christened.

After facing cancer or other end of life diagnosis people often start to explore what it is that they believe in. If anything.

I am spiritual but I completely respect any religious or non religious views or beliefs if I work with someone who is eg. Catholic and asks to be read the Bible or attend Mass to have me work with guided visualisation including Jesus or god. That’s exactly what we do.

Muslim, Jehovah witness pagan you get the picture.

I’m not always there at the end but if that is my friend’s request and I can be I am.

This can often include vigiling at home or hospital alone with my friend or with family

And again within the plan we have agreed on certain things. Often people want to know you are there beside them.

Gentle touch of hand massage, reiki healing, being there with a family member talking chatting reading.

Checking and reviewing pain levels.

Calling in family when requested and agreed.

Some people want just a chosen few around their bed. Others all the family.

After death I am often asked to brush hair sit and talk for awhile longer, opening the window coving a mirror stopping the clock.is a very old tradition alot of elderly people want upheld.

I often then have to hand over what that person wanted

For the most part families are respectful of their loved ones wishes and they are usually aware of my involvement.

Often I have managed to get them to address any difficult issues like organ donation (not cancer patients) or I’m.leaving all my money to the cats home.

The list of e.g where I will be taken.

Home or funeral director.

Embalmed or not.

Cardboard or wicker coffin

Natural burial site or Cemetery or cremation.

Life celebration in the community. No vicar, priest.

A humanist life celebration. With a chosen celebrant to deliver a service that we have already compiled . If this is the case just memories from family and friends are added afterwards.

This is often held in any non religious building eg. Community centre, public hall, garden or home. Or simply graveside.

A wake afterwards or a party.

Colours to be worn no suits or black.

A difficult on is is there anyone you do not wish to be there? In reality some people have a particular person that upest them.in life and they don’t want them at there funeral.

What clothes or shroud.

Open or closed coffin people to come and visit in funeral directors or at home or not.

I can also make finger print molds and craft silver jewelry for children or family members.

We write letters to children or family or short notes.

I worked with a lady who had two children. She ordered her own wicker coffin and used it as a blanket box until it was needed.

This showed the children it wasn’t a scary thing. When mum died and was placed in it at home the children sat with her write notes and tied them with ribbons to the casket placing favorite toys and photos with her.

This is a example of how death used to be.

Not clinical but part of life. People died at home in familiar surroundings not in white rooms surrounded by machines and healthcare staff who don’t have time to sit.

So to sum up it’s about giving back control and choice

Walking a sometimes scary path sharing tears and laughter memories and secrets that have sometimes never been shared.

It’s a privilege and a honour and when things go to plan I can sleep easy in my bed. Knowing that I’ve kept my promises

I was encouraged by an amazing friend of mine after I told her of a conversation that I’d had with a few of the people I work with.

They had asked if I would do their funeral or celebration as their celebrant. I didn’t feel qualified and so I decided to train as a celebrant I now am able to follow the journey just that bit further the service is often written together. Religious, humanist, spiritual. Again exactly what and how that person has requested. They have on final goodbye so I aim for it to be as perfect as possible. They often write most of the service with me video footage even let’s them take part in the service. Not for everyone but whatever is right for you.

As I said earlier I work with any faith or religion over the last eighteen months I’ve walked this journey with Donna my best friend. She has planned everything.

Believe me nothing left to chance. So not just as her soul midwife but her friend and confident I promised things would be exactly as she wanted.

It was nothing complicated compared with some plans that I have dealt with.

Number one was absolutely no religion. None! She asked me to conduct a spiritual end of life celebration.

NO church. No Hymns promise me she said don’t let my mother or anyone arrange anything.

I want a celebration in Port tenant community centre NO BLACK no formal Wear colours rainbows and pride flags

Will you be my celebrant she asked.

Of course again I promised and we set to work outlining her service her day f celebration Things she held dear issues that were important but mainly about her role as a Nan and a Mam

She wanted a burial, a cardboard coffin not to be embalmed. As I said nothing left to chance songs were chosen

Pink who knew..

Boy George star man

Gavin and Stacy islands in the stream

What could go wrong?

Well I’m sure there is a lesson here for me somewhere. But as yet I’m failing to see it.

My heart breaks at the thought that I’ve let her down.

I arranged with her sister to see the community centre to check the size.

Crossed wires meant I was sitting waiting outside the actual community centre Donna wanted.

Her sis was outside St Thomas church hall. In Swansea just around corner

Now from previous experience I’ve never come across a church hall being used. But the lass showing us around assued us that this was possible . That was okay it was a hall not a church. Bigger on the same estate.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing I wish I has spoken up and said actually we should stick to community centre that’s what she asked for.. but not wanting to upset anyone I didn’t .

The vicar Mr Steve bunting via the funeral directors then says actually no you can’t have it in hall.

But Donna can have everything she wanted EVERYTHING if you come into church.

It didn’t sit right with me she didn’t want a church but I was assured he was nice guy he would allow all the things she wanted .

Not so..

This bloody funeral he exclaimed at our first meeting. Unprofessional.

He then tells us he can’t have a Celebrant do a service in his church. Isn’t that part of what Donna wanted? Why didn’t he tell us that last week when he promised everything. We could have rearranged?

He now says he has to deliver 90% of the service.

The one that Donna and I wrote from our hearts.

He has made off the cuff comments about me re tarot cards and spirit boards before he had even met me.

I’m presuming he f.b me.

Judgemental preducice and rude.

What would it have mattered Mr bunting she didn’t want someone who didn’t know her someone she hadnt met talking about her

It broke my heart Donna of all people for things to go this wrong for. I promised I fulfill her plans

So my random girl, I’m beyond sorry. Really I am.

One funeral you get and I can’t fix it if I could I would.

I have booked you the best drag queen I could find you promised your friend Susan Cheryl and Wendy that when you felt better you would have a night out with cocktails and a drag queen.

You shall have it my friend.

My other promises I swear I will keep.

Our grand daughter Emillia I will love her enough for both of us. I will take her to all of your favorite places take her camping talk to her of magic and fairies.

I know that you are never very far away and I will talk to you often. That you know I have tried to give you all that you wanted

I love you my random friend come talk to me soon.

Here is a poem given to me after the first funeral I took. Encouraged by Donna.

My friend Ian was 49 amazing a man’s man had been a army man.

He would tease me that poetry was for girls .

Never catch him writing it.

After his funeral his sister thanked me gave me a check as a donation for my work and this poem.

I’m beyond proud to have know him

May he journey on safely. It’s called the Last Goodbye
Cancer was the catalyst that founded our friendship
Without it we wouldn’t have met.
A soul midwife I expected someone nursey maybe serious.
That Joolz is exactly what I didn’t get.
You came into my room like morning sunlight.
Bringing me life’s energy love and fun.
We made plans for things I’d like to do exactly my way.
Talked of my life and all that I’ve done.
I’ve shed a few tears, but we’ve laughed so much.
If it needs saying I know I can say anything to you.
Complete unconditional acceptance it’s not just a ‘job’ to you.
You’ve walked along a path I found scary
Gone before me with what to expect.
Taken worry from myself and my family.
Always treated us with love and respect.
You have a way of just fitting into families.
Into a Joolz shaped space we weren’t aware was there.
To make plans to reassure, take me to magical planes
I’d never even dreamt of before
Now when sleeping I dream of new adventures.
The wonderful places and things I haven’t yet seen.
You’ve given me the courage to go further explore without feeling frightened.
My eternal friend
Soul midwife Earth angel who needs no wings.
I know that as I leave you will be there waving and cheering me on to adventures new.
As you go on in life as a soul midwife to others know I’ll be around to cheer you on too.
Thank you.
Xx Ian.

.

A basket of stories.

I’m sitting on my bed, surrounded with paper, pieces of a new book.

Contemplating a re write more detail. Shall I start over again? Colours, smells descriptions painting the picture to make things visible for the reader.

The autumn sun is shining the sky is blue and the trees on the bank seem to dance around the silver bark beckoning me to go outside

I’m distracted by silly things the glass is blown we need a new tilt and turn window.

It opens onto the grey flat roof of the kitchen extension. Next doors fat black tail less cat Charlie sits looking thoughtful on the edge of the roof.

I have locked the door. Turned off my phone.

Today is mine I needed to just be. To be gentle with myself its been a hard week.

To be here in our cottage by this window finishing the book that was supposed to be finished in June.

I love this place this house I muse about my journey what brought me here.

To this canal this cottage.

The small circle of friends I hold dear.

The girl that I was, has stopped running and is now settled happy I am content with my lot.

Itchy feet the gypsy wonderer has pushed down roots deep into this magical place.

I’ve never been materialistic food in the cupboards diesel in my little car and mine and my family’s health that is enough. Anything else is a bonus.

A good friend of mine and I were talking on what’s app and referred to a job we both did previously which involved caring for vulnerable adults. She used the term carrying their stories.Boomthat really struck a chord.

Story carrier….

It was true. Very.

I have always been drawn to work that involved caring, nursing supporting vulnerable people it’s what I do best.

Disadvantaged children, Learning disabilities, Homeless, Addicts Mental health.

Now I’m a Soulmidwife Holistic Therapist .

The common thread in all of this is the stories.

I believe that that is the key to genuinely helping someone who is in a vulnerable position is listening.

Getting to know their story. Not just their diagnosis or their addiction or situation. How did they arrive at this point?

Each person I have worked with has their own complex story listening is the best gift I have given.

I have heard some horrendous stories, some sad some disturbing. But they are all pieces of a puzzle that makes a whole.

Now as a soul midwife I listen to wishes regrets and plans of patients who are end of life.

I have heard of baby boy given up for adoption in the war and a life then spent teaching and caring for other people’s children and a choice to never marry or have another child after a strict father forbid her to ever speak of her baby again. Sadly, she never got to find him. But the day after she told his story I sat held her hand as she passed peacefully knowing she had spoken his name and someone had listened.

I have contacted estranged siblings and listened to stories of lives that have been so similar apart regrets that family feuds hadn’t been resolved earlier.

I have listened to stories of abuse, rape self-loathing and harm. Reassured not judged held shaking hands

A hug a hand to hold sometimes reassurance that ‘you can get through this ‘the simplest things are the greatest gift.

So next time you walk by that homeless person or sit next to that old lady/man on a bench remember that every one of us has a story. Many stories that entwine into one life we collect along this path our journey.

Listening hearing and genuine acceptance are greatest gifts you can give.

Life is beautiful but sometimes unbareably hard.

I watch her smile at our grand daughter.
Struggling to hold her beside her as she lies in bed.
Her daughter Sarah and my son Michaels baby.
She and I have been best friends since they were children.
My random friend
Questions like could we keep a penguin in the bath?
The kind of friends that know each other well.
Our likes and dislikes
We laugh at the same things
Don’t get me wrong we have had our disagreements.
Passionate arguments.
But when push came to shove we both knew we could always depend on the other.
Forever friends.
We would joke about riding on old people scooters
I always hoped that Sarah and Mike would get together.
I loved Donna’s kids like my own.
And last year my meddling worked.
Not how I would have planned it but here we are.
And it is what it is.
You see we hadn’t seen each other for awhile we had texted but not seen each other for a year.
I work as a soulmidwife.
Companion to terminally ill.
On my way out of the hospital ward I was visiting I saw her there Donna.
Admitted with pain she had suffered with for awhile.
She had text and bllamed it on work, pushing wheel chairs lifting patients
But after two weeks she was diagnosed.
Cancer.
We fell back into step. Like we had never been apart.
We met the week after in the park engineered to have mike and Sarah with us.
Eighteen months later they are together.
We have Emilia our beautiful grand daughter.
She is the positive light that has kept Donna fighting.
Two rounds of chemotherapy she has been amazing.
I’m in awe of how brave she is.
Two months ago we flew to Corfu.
I stood on the deck of a boat watched as she swam in the bluest of seas warm sun.
White sands her long black hair shining
She was so happy
We visited old Corfu town, sat in small seafood restaurants by the sea.
Drank cocktails. Laughed danced and sang.
We didn’t speak of cancer.
What a difference two months can make.
This is my job I deal with it all the time.
There isn’t anything I can’t deal with
But
I don’t want to deal with this
For a month she has been complaining of pain in her liver. Twice admitted
Jaundice, codine, oramorph.
More pain
I stayed over with her last night
Eyes yellow tired and scared.
Reassured her that no matter what I’m there
I promise I’m by her side.
I promise her that her sister and I will look after the kids.
I will love Emilia enough for both of us.
I will help her make memory boxes
Write birthday cards, graduation wedding, and letters.
Of course I will. I love her.
I hold her hand in mine.
She falls asleep against me.
As she sleeps I feel her breathing rise and fall
Her hair is damp from my tears.
I pull the covers around her kiss her gently
Visualise myself watching her swim and smile in the blue sea
On our next holiday in the sun

Cosmic Connections.

Look around we are all connected.

Sparks of the same flame.
Fragments, shards of the source of all.
Stardust of stars.
Drops flowing to the same ocean.
All of us. Not some of us.
Colour, creed, beliefs,
Good, evil, indifferent.
You can’t pick and choose.
All at different parts of different journeys.
On our way back home.
Divine experience, expression.
A tiny spark, microcosmic
Mind blowing.
Amazing you.
And me.
Us.
Love