To write, to be me.

The World Cup has just kicked off. I heard the first goal go in over the sound of Maroon5 whilst I was sat at the kitchen table.

At the moment, I am spending a lot of time at the kitchen table. That is where I write, where I type up my writing projects; that is where all the magic happens. That is where I feel the safest, most productive and on task.

Hearing that goal go in-I thought of my work sweepstake-I was typing up the first of this years writing projects. It is all handwritten, now needs to be digitised so that it can be crafted further. I’ve spent eleven months writing it on the back of Retreating To Peace, and its one of two projects that I was aiming to  get done  by the end of the year. I am sort of on track. I don’t have any external deadlines, this project is firmly on my own terms. That doesn’t stop me from philosophising and wondering what the point is. Distracted, I’ve set it aside for a minute.

I’ve had that question, what’s the point, on my mind for a long time.

What is the point of what I am writing, why do I put myself through it, what do I get out of it exactly?

Every time I write, start a new writing project, I effectively pick a part of my soul to make public. In doing so, I am -through closed eyes and gritted teeth-handing over a piece of me, for public scrutiny.

The world being what it is, it can be kind or cruel. You never know, unless of course you ask for feedback, look at the reviews. That can either bolster you, make you smile or send you off in a spiral of self-criticism.

I can safely say, I’ve done both.

Over the last week, I’ve had to have some supportive words with myself.

Punam, grow a thicker skin. Roll with it. You can’t please everyone, please yourself. Be mindful, that people are going to have an opinion.

You might not like it, you might not agree.

What you do with it, is up to you.

You could give up, do something else.

(Oh, I nearly did, but I really like my ink pens.)

Or you can carry on. You do what makes you happy, what makes your soul sing, and helps you find your place in this world.

You’ll never guess how much of that is the result of four years of counselling training. That all came to a close this week, so introspection is currently a big part of my frame of reference. I am that bit closer to finding my personal power and being able to use it.

I am a little bit closer to finding out about me, the way I see the world and how I fit into it.

Writing, has been a big part of that journey over the last four years.

This blog has been a big part of it. This is where it all started with chilli plants and tomatoes. Potatoes too, and that should have been an omen. Carl Rogers had a lot to say about potatoes, especially those in his basement. Potatoes that grew toward the light, towards actualising their potential.

I started my counselling journey in 2013 with Level 2 in listening skills. It was two years later, when I had done level three that I wrote Playing with plant pots. A book that built on this blog, and was the start I guess of a process of self actualisation. I was tending the allotment, tending to myself at the same time; the book and blog were a testament to that. A testament to what was about to happen. I don’t remember much-apart from the theory-about level 2. In terms of real life, there was a fair bit going on with my job, that had left me that emotionally in a bad place. The allotment and writing were both acting to help me realise the internal incongruence that I was feeling. Those who say that gardens help you heal; that’s perfectly true. I was using both as therapy. It was also at that time, that I stumbled across Michael Perry, the illustrious Mr.Plantgeek. I remember writing a few guest blogs, and the thought of putting them in a book took shape. It is the lovely Mr.Perry that I credit, for adopting the hashtag Bollywood gardener.

Level three happened, and the second gardening book came along. We’d from the seeds of an idea-with both the plot and books-to trying to blossom. The plot was full of produce, full of flowers; it was well tended and very, very productive. Writing Sow, Grow and Eat was, alongside all the jams, jellies and Chutneys a time of abundance. I had something to show for most things. All of those seeds, had grown to blossom, bud and fruit. Doing level three was hard, and my counselling journey was feeling fruitful too. I liked it; I liked the subject, my classmates, tutors and process of growth. It was different, having taught Psychology and been so entrenched within the medical model. What I was doing, was taking a big swing to being more human. The Person-Centred approach as an aspect of Humanistic Psychology felt as though it was a big part of me.

There was a gap between level three and level four,  it now feels very blurry. I was lost without having a college routine-I’ve studied at night school for one day a week whilst teaching-so I volunteered for a couple of organisations to maintain my listening skills. Having levels two and three, that was what I had. I was a proficient trained listener. Not yet a counsellor.

Then came level four. This was not something that I entered into lightly. I wanted to do it, I needed to. What I didn’t know, didn’t appreciate, was how much this journey would impact upon me. The journey has been rather tumultuous.

I can only describe it in this way. My apologies to Lego!

It’s been a long, challenging and somewhat solitary journey. No one else quite understands what the flip you are doing and why. Imagine you are a Lego house. You’ve built yourself; your family, friends have added bits. The rest of the world has given you a leaky extension with room for a pony. The universe tells you to do level 2, to lift that Lego house high. The thing slips, falls and then smashes across granite flooring. You then spend the rest of levels 2, 3 and 4 putting that house together brick by brick. You look at each one, throw a few away, question that bloody leaky extension and build a bigger, better Lego house. You find a tribe and you realise that you weren’t that alone. You realise that you are doing something really very useful.

Just like that Lego house.

I’m still bloody standing.

 

Somewhere between level three and level four, there was a family bereavement when my Grandad passed away.  Nana had taken an interest in the allotment, and had even visited the  plot once. It is with his memory, that the yellow gardening book starts.  Six months after he died, I started to write Fragments. I remember being at work, picking up a pen and writing the first chapter. In green biro of all things. It was released March 2017. I’d spend all of 2016, from January, writing it. However,  at the end of the first term in Autumn 2016, there was the passing of Aunty Indra. I didn’t write for ages after, it all felt too painful.

When I did write it, I remember looking at it; wondering where it all came from.

I knew though, that it came from my experiences of loss and not just through loved ones dying. There was a lot of defeat, loss and a lack of autonomy that was happening in other areas of my universe that flowed through my ink and into the book. There are bits of Fragments, that I remember writing whilst in tears. There are bits that really painful to read.

It’s not a skinny book, it is huge. Writing it, was a mission; there were fugue like states where words just had to be put down. Else there were no for them, for feelings and thoughts to go. Paper, has a lot of benefits.

I still look at the book, and wonder what happened. How on earth, did I get all that done?

I do think it has its uses. For me, and for those reading it. It’s not perfect, I know that. But I am glad that it exists. For now, it is also probably the hardest thing that I have written.

As Level Four kicked off proper in the spring of 2017, I finished Fragments. I also had personal therapy, a course requirement but boy was it useful. I guess writing fragments had put some things away, made clear others, but the journey of realisation wasn’t done yet.

Being a trainee counsellor, you have therapy to help modify and manage your own figurative lego house. As a client, you understand what it means to be the counsellor. You, can only go as far as your client allows you; how far do you go as client?

Going to therapy, being a trainee counsellor has heightened my own courage to make sure people talk about mental health, that people have access. That there is less stigma, that we have these conversations.

There was a three month gap between finishing fragments and undertaking a new writing project. I still had something in the tank; I needed, wanted, to write. It was through sheer fluke that I found The Peace Novella Series. Something so far out of my comfort zone, so far removed from Chilli plants, there was no clear link between the two.

A couple of things to keep in mind. I read. I like to read both ebooks and proper books. I’m a bookworm, have been since I picked the pirate books when I was seven. I’m not a big romance reader, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at them. People like them, lots of them are available. I have written romance, space romance as part of Fan-Fiction, so I’m not a complete dolt. I’d just never focused on it as big, writing project.

Not many, have characters of Indian ascent.  Okay, you might read Meera Syal, but how may folks go find her? I think she is lovely, very under-rated, and more people should read her.  So, maybe I should write one? Write the sort of book that I might like, but don’t see in the harlequin/Mills and Boon shelf in the library.

Enter Devan Coultrie. Bereavement was still on my radar, a left over from Fragments. But this was romance, and this was….going to be a challenge.

I live in a world, where I am regularly asked by Aunties why I am not married? What is so wrong with me, that I don’t have a husband and babies.

Of course, this is all my fault; I should know better, I am not getting any younger, and I really need someone to look after me. All my peers are married, having babies; am I too fussy, too stubborn that I am putting suitors off? Perhaps you really should dye your hair, make yourself look a bit more presentable?

I’m really not doing myself any favours, now am I?

In terms of person-centred theory: I have found an internal locus of evaluation-I’ll get attached, have babies when I want to. The introjects from the aunties et al that are based upon social, cultural and historical norms are contrary to my own feelings, thoughts and autonomy. What they say I ought to do, is not what I want to do.

So, why should I?

Being different, to them means being difficult.

(Therapy and self realisation, tells me different)

Okay, so I will have to put up with it. I will  have to take it on the chin. I still haven’t grown enough to challenge this. I would get dagger stares, huffs and puffs. Also, that person-centred theory really doesn’t translate well to Aunties et al. This, is all they have to say to me: this is small talk, that has a huge impact. Their perception and intent are not to undermine me, or make me think less of myself.

That, that I swallow down to remember that I have self-worth.

As far as they are concerned, they are expressing their wishes for me to do what every one else is doing.

Meeting expectations.

But this romance. Retreating to Peace. Not your average bollywood drama, I tell you. This is a book that makes me smile. One would hope, that those reading it would smile too.

I guess, this is a book borne out of having a bruised heart. Of struggling with cultural expectations, that I find hard to challenge. It’s bad enough that I plant flowers, fruit and veg! Not the past-time of your average young woman of Indian-ascent.

I realise that this has all gone off-piste. I started to write this, to refocus. My mind was drifting from typing, I didn’t fancy watching football.

Guess this all needed to come out.

I’m glad that I have written those four books. At the last count, I had nine projects to complete between now and Christmas 2020. That does sound a lot; you never know what the universe might throw at me between then and now.

What I’m going to do, is get some crisps. Find my book-I’m reading something about a PI-put the tv on and watch football.

 

 

 

Retreating to Peace: FREE ON KINDLES!! #Peaceseries

KINDLE FREEBIE!!!

Sunday 3rd June-Thursday 7th June 2018

For five days only, Retreating to Peace: A Peace Series Novella is free on kindles! Click on the image below to get your copy.

RTP new swing 2

Don’t forget to Read, Review and Share!

There are lots of other fabulous titles in the series. Make sure you go find them!

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Judging a book by it’s cover: use clothes

I am more than a bit fed up. Fed up of seeing half naked people on the covers of books. In the last few weeks I have seen lots of new releases with covers that have left me wondering if the cover models are a bit cold. I must add the caveat that these are covers used by Indie authors. When I go through a library, look at the shelves, nearly all of the people on cover image are dressed. Even the Mills and Boon’s/Harlequin cover people are dressed. There is a very clear line in the sand really.

So what is my bug bear?

It was a timeline full of naked blokes, that was the straw that broke the camels back. Book blogs and tours, blitzes and things, are carrying the same images. Torsos and a V. Then there were the lingerie clad women.

The latter, would fall very much in to objectification. I think the former does too. We just don’t admit it; we can ogle and objectify women, but doing that to a bloke…well, Diet Coke break makes it okay but not objectification.

On a deeper, more intellectual and academic level, what do these covers say about societal perception of the genders?

Recently, the concept of toxic masculinity has been risen as well as what does it mean to be a male in modern society? Leading to how are men represented in media and the written word, what is it it we expect from the modern man. There is some element of men being charicatured by the covers and the content of books. Arrogant, well-built millionaires who sweep a gasping, well-endowed damsel off her feet. I’m genuinely cheesed off for the male of species; we build ’em up, we break ’em down, shift the goal posts. If you don’t match the dude on the cover, inside the book, the one in our imagination then you must be a bit wrong….

The damsel. The one that appears on the cover, half dressed with come to bed eyes. The damsel, that needs rescuing, might be up the duff and fights with her internal tension as to should she, should she not sleep with the tall, dark and brooding shipping magnate? (Yeah, how many shipping magnate, tycoons and billionaires are on the covers….with all that money, they might have posed in a suit… ) The damsel couldn’t possibly be dressed, we might not recognise her with her kit on and we don’t need to have three dimensional characters.  She must be attractive, pouting, and good for one, two, maybe three things.  What messages does this give to other women? If you are not like this, then you don’t fit, we don’t want you and neither does anyone else. You know you have to comply to a checklist and disclose your vital statistics, yes?

The representation of women on covers is equally heavy-weight.

(Another thing; I didn’t see many-if any-cover images of characters from BAME groups.  That is another aspect of debate.)

The bigger picture question remains the same.

Why do it in the first instance?

I get it, if the book in question is centred around mature/adult content, then sure it reflects what goes on between the leaves and the sheets as it were.

Can you imagine, if Dicken’s was rebranded in the same way? George Eliot for that matter. You have Madam Bovary, Lolita, and Lady Chatterley’s lover too.  The content is the crux, with a very sobre front cover. I really don’t want to see bits and pieces on the cover. I’m sure that until the print presses started steaming, most covers were plain.

You know, the answer is simple. Sex and Salaciousness sell.

Leaving nothing to the imagination, immediate rather than delayed gratification grabs and garners attention. It gets people talking, gets people writing blog posts. It get’s people saying ooh-er missis.

So far, only one out of four books has people on the cover.

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My challenge was to whether or not I wanted a human being on the cover, never mind two. Whether or not they would dressed, that never crossed my mind. When it did, the thought made me feel altogether uncomfortable. Somehow, being half naked in Montana, might give these two frost bite.

It is also, not as easy you would think, to find BAME people for covers.

I like my cover; the designer is a legend and made it exactly how I wanted it to be. I could not have imagined a half-naked Aditi or Devan on the front cover; that is left for the inside. That is the bit, in my mind at least, matters the most. In comparison then to other covers, it is modest, muted and doesn’t hit you between the eyes. I would rather the content tugged at the heart strings and fired up your imagination, to be perfectly honest.

If you do want to ‘see’ a half naked Devan, he does exist.

Inside the book.

 

 

The pages are turning

Apologies for not being around. There has been a lot going on, not bad, I assure you! This has made gardening and writing a bit more challenging. The next few months are shaping up to be both interesting and busy, but I am still around, not disappearing or dropping off the proverbial radar.

Not sure quite what gardening or when it will occur. In the mean time, the ink pens are in action and writing projects are happening.

Just wanted to remind you, of the books and there are quite a few now! If you wanted a bit of advice and guidance beyond the blog, there is the ‘yellow one’ and the ‘little green book’ that will help make things a little less confusing.

And if you fancied something completely different and not in the least bit gardening related, there is Fragments and also Retreating to Peace. Links to your right.

All of the books are available in both paperback and ebook.

Retreating to Peace is a Peace series novella and has a selection of rather lovely stable mates. Be sure to check ’em out!

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Best foot forward #gdnbloggers

redwellingtons

 

And so it begins.

Where did Mama F put my wellies? Where is my hand fork and transplanting trowel? Is it going to rain?

I had to go find my wellies, having not worn them in a while. Not to mention the gardening trousers and grey Petal hoodie. No idea where my purple gauntlets were either.

My plan had been to spend time doing coureswork today. Having been to supervision though, I didn’t fancy my chances with doing anything academic or cerebral. Nope, today, I wanted to restore my soul.

Today, I took a walk, to survey my kingdom. Today, I took the first steps to go reclaim it. I didn’t go by myself either. I had company, namely Mama who followed me with my edging spade and ladies fork-tools, that she has now claimed as her own and doesn’t really part with. I had two trowels and a pair of secateurs, not to mention a thermo mug of tea. Mama F does have her own plot, and that usually means we meet in the middle when it is time to go home. She came to mine to give me a hand, to make sure that the plot is neat and tidy. I have no idea what this means, but I do no that my plot has never been neat and tidy. Organised, but never primped, preened and perfectly manicured. Mama F can also dig for England, and that is what she wanted to do; that is all she ever wants to on my plot. I wasn’t going to stand in her way.

Luckily, I had a good twenty minutes before she arrived. Twenty minutes where I could stand there in my own space, in silence whilst thinking. And it felt good to stand there. Okay, it was cold, murky and seemed like a different universe, but I was there. Walking down to plot 2a, it did feel like the walk of the prodigal. I was going back to somewhere important, somewhere that I had left my soul.

Thank goodness for my Petal hoodie, it served it’s purpose.

My plot didn’t feel or look as bad as it seemed. It’s untidy, overgrown, but it still has it’s bones. Beneath the masses, is the body of my allotment; the skeleton and infrastructure that I had created hasn’t been eroded away.

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Walking around, I got the lay of the land to formulate the plan. The plot is a game of two halves. The top half, with it’s open ground, fruit trees and rose buses is Project Othello. At some point, this was sectioned off into seven beds. I have never had much success with open ground; this is why I have raised beds on the lower half. In the last few years, barely anything except the roses and a dozen cherries has grown up there. This new start presents me with a opportunity to re-create that canvas. Covering this area, and holding it won’t make this whole process so overwhelming. I can still look after the trees and roses, there is even the odd raspberry cane. This will mean that I can focus on getting the lower half ship-shape, with raised beds being added to the top half later on.

As for the lower half, the raised beds can be cleared and covered too. I do need to think about what to do with the bare earth, and how weeds can be discouraged. I did prune down the roses too. There are plenty of roses on the plot, with about two dozen on the last count. Some are posh, some less so. Raspberry canes, the autumnal ones, were also cut down. There was a lot of fighting with, and clambering around with wild brambles that have been dotted around. I could have done with an Excalibur, some where as thick as my fingers and didn’t like the secateurs.

Today actually felt nice, it felt the right thing to do. I might not have shovelled tonnes of earth, but it did feel connecting and grounding. I don’t plan to rush this, this is a slow return. I can only do so much, and that’s the key here. I don’t want to feel overwhelmed and at a loss. Allotmenteering shouldn’t be like that, it shouldn’t be about perfection and living up to unrealistic standards.

So, we have a beginning. Let’s see what happens.

Let’s start again #gdnbloggers

shakespeare
shakespeare 2000

 

I think my allotment and I are broken, and I’d quite like to fix both.

I couldn’t tell you the last time that I took a walk down and did something. So much so, that my soul feels a bit less colourful and very much frayed at the edges. As I countdown to the end of February, I am feeling this quite a bit.  Over the last eight weeks, thoughts of the allotment have been shadows at the back of my mind. The allotment has been a spectre, hanging in my awareness as something that I need to make a return to; something that has been a big part of me, who I am and what I do over the last five years.

It is a sorry confession, but the relationship between my allotment and I has lapsed some what. We have become estranged, as life makes demands on the time we spend with each other.

2018, wasn’t a good year for the plot and I. It was a very busy year, as I managed working, training and writing. Writing was a big focus, and I spent less time outside. I spent a lot of time inside, writing and displacing the allotment. There were a lot of plates spinning with lots of different demands. Working part time and being a trainee counsellor has proven to be a challenging combination. I enjoy doing both, but have forgotten to look after myself in the process. In January last year, my poly tunnel was damaged by winter storms and it was basically downhill from there. My life became a tempest of tornadoes, and the plot didn’t get the attention it deserved and needed.

January this year offered a new start and the potential to get things going. I still have a busy life; my week is jam packed with my weekends being the windows for R&R. The windows are not big, so I do need to make the most of them, use them effectively. What I need to do, is to remember how the plot is and was a big part of that R&R. Getting my hands dirty, the exercise and the impact of it all on mental health, feels like a distant memory. A memory that as mentioned before, is a shadow.

Only the shadow is morphing. It is morphing into a fuzzy-faced gremlin. A gremlin that is poking me to take a walk down to the plot.

I need to make the time, the space, to go back to the plot.  I am tired of chaos, tired of things going up, down and pear-shaped. Tired of not being able to pause and colour my soul.  I need to reconnect with my plot, remember why I enjoy it and how it is has helped me the woman that I am. It’s funny,  but the growth and nurturing aspects of having an allotment have actually been a big part of personal therapy.

So I have come to some conclusions.

There are no plans to publish any writing. I am still writing, but I am not pushing to be in print this year. I need to step away from the kitchen table, and use it only for writing coursework. Coursework still needs to be done, with training not due to finish before the Autumn. Writing is officially on a slow-burning back hob.

Don’t worry about produce and preserves. Tidy up, create a blank slate. The plot has evolved over the years and at 200sqm, it is massive. Start again. Get the infrastructure, raised beds and things cleared. Cover the fallow area. Go back to basics.

Don’t rush. Take your time. I have come too far, the plot has come too far to be abandoned. It would break my heart to walk away from that patch of land, and I have thought about it. I have thought about it a lot over the last few weeks. (Okay, there’s a running joke that if I ever got married, it would end. Even that fills me with dread.) It might not look like it, but I have nurtured that plot and the plot has in turn nurtured me. This is not a relationship that I wish to end. It is not done yet.

Not all seeds need to be sown, you’ll get there. I had sown chilli seeds. There were three seedlings, and now I only have one. I did plan to sow some tomatoes at some point. Something is telling me to hold off.

Something is telling me to go back to the beginning.

Let people talk. Let them look at me and the plot, tut and shake their heads as the plot looks a bit forlorn. Yeah, it peeves me off and makes me feel about three inches high. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that was a Empire that had welly despite the harbingers. I remember the flowers, the fruit and the sheer joy that the plot has given me. I’ll get there again, and in spite of the pity, the huffs and the puffs.

I started GYO and allotmenteering as life was going wonky. The here and now is a similar wonky. So a return to the early days, is somewhat logical.

This is not going to be easy. I have an idea as to how physically demanding it will be. There will have to be time made-with the laws of physics-at the weekends. I am isolating weekends, with not all of Sunday being School-work Sunday. I do feel that it is possible and realise that there might be challenges.

The deal is this.

Let’s start again.

 

A jolly good show #RSCtwelfth

Ordinarily, I don’t like Valentine’s day. It’s all very much commercialized hearts and flowers; I would be at home, in a sulk and watching box sets.

Not this year.

I decided to stop with the sulking, fly solo and indulge in one of the many things that make me happy. I went to see Shakespeare.

Not just your average Shakespeare show, either. I saw a live relay of Twelfth Night. (MAC Birmingham, you are awesome as always; spending my childhood there, this was a welcome return visit.)

I am no stranger to Stratford-upon-Avon, and over the last three years I’ve watched quite a bit of the canon. Greg Doran et al have done a cracking good job.  Sadly, I was a bit slow off the mark getting tickets for Twelfth Night in Stratford; so when news broke that it would be relayed live, I might have jumped a bit. Putting my membership of Sgt.Pepper’s lonely hearts club to one side, I forgot that it was booked for Valentines night.

The fact that Ade Edmondson was part of it, did rather make me smile. I grew up with re-runs of ‘The Young Ones’ and know of Bottom and Hotel Paradiso. I had intrigue as to how he might tread the boards. Beyond that, I went to the show with an open mind.

Thank goodness, I did!

I didn’t realise the Indian aspect of the production and the late Victorian setting. Two universes don’t collide per se, but merge and combine beautifully. The director and the costume designers have married these two concepts in a really rich, vibrant and effective way.

Then there is the cast.

In the last few years, there has been much said about the lack of BAME actors in theatre, in adaptations/productions of Shakespeare. This cast, was epic. I’ve yet to see an RSC production that isn’t diverse, doesn’t include BAME actors and doesn’t celebrate diversity. This production is more than Ade Edmonson’s Malvolio-he is truly extraodinary, though-there is a lady of Asian Ascent in a lead role-has been done before in midsummer’s night dream.  The fool-Beruce Khan-is cracking good comic relief. Belch and Aguecheek need their own sitcom.

Twelfth night really is about love turning the world upside down. The themes of falling in love with the wrong person, the wrong person being in love with you, being wronged by love when people quite literally mess with your head-Poor Malvolio-then there is gender, identity and sexuality. Shakespeare toyed with topics that four hundred years later are still in debate.

Watching this show, I laughed; I forgot that it was Valentines day. Remembered, that I love Shakespeare, that it reflects the world that I live in. This was wonderfully crafted, yet simple and effective production. I’m glad that I saw it, I’m glad that the cast was diverse. Dinita Gohil is great as the disguised Viola and a true inspiration with Beruce Khan, who wouldn’t be out of place in a Bollywood GOT. These two cast members really stood out for me as inspiration for future generations of BAME actors who want a place on the Shakespearean Stage.

Twelfth night really was a cracking good show. Strongly recommend you watch it. That you love, laugh and live it.

One episode of Shakespeare down, two more to go.

Waltons Allotment Recipe Competition

You’ll have seen lots of recipes being experimented with on the blog, and the subsequent book. So playing with allotment produce is nothing new!

The fabulous folks at Waltons are looking for the most creative, most edible recipes of allotment recipes. Having harvested lots of courgettes, beans, raspberries and currants, Petal and I are glad to be of help.

Nothing quite like a competition to get those alloment produce juices flowing. Closing at 5pm on the 28th, why not enter, make a contribution? The prize is a garden storage unit worth £149, just like the one here: https://www.waltons.co.uk/4×3-overlap-osb-roof-floor and there are some great runners up prizes, too.

Plus, Waltons plan to publish an ebook of recipes, with all authors being credited. Sounds fab to me, have a go!

Click on the link below to enter.

http://woobox.com/wqpxnd?source=horticulturalhobbit

My two pence #Timetotalk

Imagine.

You’ve not slept well; you’ve tossed and turned, the alarm goes off but you smack it very quickly. You get up, think about breakfast and the day you have ahead. The lessons are planned, you’ve taken your time doing so. You can do your job, you’ve been doing it ages, and you’re not that bad at it.

Only there is as spikey knot forming in your gut, your heart is racing and you’ve been walking around like Quasimodo as your body’s stress response gnarls at your back and shoulders. Sometimes it hurts to breath, but you are stubborn and soldier on. You want to eat, you have to eat; yet your appetite has disappared, and nothing quite hits the spot.

You feel sick, anxious and things just keep coming. It takes a supreme effort to take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other, to get out the door and onto the road. No idea how you will get through the day, but lots of tea will help.

All the time, you think about this being done, that being done; not wanting to ask for help, not knowing who to ask, and things aren’t just grey, but black, brown and swirly. There are very few rays of sunshine, fleeting ones at that. When you get sunshine, you hold onto it, prize every single drop.

I now know when my smile begins to fade, I can recognise the quasimodo contortion that comes from tense muscles and being unable to breath as it hurts. I know the difference between my sloping walk and my purposeful James Bond swagger.  I have slowly but surely, figured out my stress response and how anxiety can impact upon me. I refuse to let it all hold me down. There are rainbows to chase.

My allotment has helped, as has writing. Then there is the whole trained listener and trainee counselor thing too. Jigsaw pieces that over time, have started to fall together and helped me better understand my own mental health and that of others. There is just something about standing on the plot, drinking a cuppa as I smell the roses. The allotment has nurtured me, as much as I have nurtured it. I write, as it is a creative outlet; there is therapy too, to sit alongside all of this. It takes time, all of it, but I have found support, found the things that give my life colour to reduce strands of grey.

The statistic, is that one in four of us, will experience some form of poor mental health. There are further numbers about the difference in male and female health. These aren’t just numbers, these are frightening numbers.

Then there the social and cultural stigma. In some communities, the South Asian community being one of the, mental health is a taboo, swept under the carpet and talked about in hushed tones. This rather annoys me, angers me, that Mental health is not supported in a similar vein to physical health. Annoys me, that we have such negative, perjorative attitudes with blaming and shaming. It angers me, that there is a veil of both silence and ignorance.

Time to talk is making an effort to help turn this tide, there is also Head together. There needs to be further action, an increased awareness of Mental Health concerns. This is not a one-da job, this is going to take time. What we need is an impetus, a movement, of people talking, supporting one another and coming together with a common aim.

Mental health is difficult to put into a box, we all experiene it differently. It’s not easy to talk about, and makes people uncomfortable.

For futher information on the campaign.

 

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