25 years with Diabetes

I’m sure not many people can remember what they were doing 25 years ago today. I can. I was 7 years old. I was always tired and had an uncontrollable thirst that I couldn’t quench no matter how much I drank. After a holiday to Florida where I’d drove my parents round the bend needing to find a bathroom every 5 minutes, they made me an appointment at the doctors. I can still picture the doctor’s room as I sat there beside my mum, and heard the doctor tell her she had to take me to hospital right away, “I think she’s got diabetes.”  It’s one of those flashbulb memories, something so vivid and life altering that you never forget it. My life changed forever that day.

Thankfully for me I was too young to be scared. I had never even heard the word diabetes before so I had no idea what it meant and naively I was quite excited about going to a hospital. I can’t imagine though the fear that my parents must have felt that day. It’s something that as a child I was oblivious to, but now as an adult I can’t even appreciate how scared they must have been. Back then there was no internet or social media and we didn’t know anyone with diabetes so their knowledge on it would have been minimal and I imagine they would have thought the worst.

I spent the next 9 days in hospital. I remember parts of this time. I remember the nurses giving me an orange and a syringe to practise injecting; the pressure needed to puncture the skin of an orange is supposedly the same as that needed to puncture the human skin. I remember my best friend Jillian coming to visit and us playing kitchens with the box of plastic food that the nurses had given me to help me learn how to count carbohydrates. I remember being allowed out with my mum and dad for the afternoon and going to pick a cabbage patch doll which I named after my favourite nurse, Susan. I remember the nurses taking it in turns to come in and play with me and do my cabbage patch doll’s hair.

I remember one nurse, Sister Brown, who I’m sure was lovely but at the time I was scared of, wanting me to take my injection in my stomach and for some reason this really freaked me out and I remember crying. She promised me if I was brave and let her do it there just once she’d give me a gold star. I succumbed and true to her word she brought me a large gold star, something that I kept for years. I’ve never done an injection on my stomach since that day though. I remember my mum and dad taking it in turns to sleep on the pull out bed in my hospital room. I suppose actually I remember quite a lot of those 9 days when I was 7.  I don’t remember a lot of the struggles that I’m sure my parents do though. I also don’t remember ever being scared (other than that injection on my stomach).

Most of all though I remember the most wonderful nurse, Sister Leitch, who gave me the best advice anyone ever has. She spoke to us openly and frankly about diabetes, she didn’t speak to me like I was young and stupid,  which I wasn’t; I was a pretty savvy 7-year-old, and I remember being grateful that she spoke to me so honestly. She didn’t shy away from what a serious condition it is but she told me that I had to make a decision, I could either sit back and let this thing rule my life or I could choose to rule it. Her words have stuck with me over the last 25 years.

My parents, despite how worried and scared I’m sure they were, were wonderful. They never let on. They stayed so strong and matter of fact in front of 7-year-old me that I never felt I’d any reason to be scared. They learned everything they could about diabetes and how to manage it and they adjusted our lives accordingly. They never treated me as though I was any different and as a result I never felt the need to behave like I was. And so the years moved on.

I know a lot of diabetic teenagers rebel against their diabetes, stopping taking insulin and trying to manipulate their illness. I never did this. I never even contemplated it. Not because I’m perfect; I probably didn’t test my blood sugars anywhere near as often as I should have, and I could definitely still work on getting my overall control down, but simply because, to do that would have been to let my diabetes win, and I had no intention of doing that.

My diabetes put me in hospital once; 9 years ago this month I ended up in high dependency suffering from DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) and it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I remember once I was on the mend a  consultant I had never met before coming round and asking me, in such a patronising tone; “Did you just not bother taking your insulin?” If I’d had the energy I wouldn’t have thought twice about punching him. I have never, in 25 years, just “not bothered” taking my insulin. I’d had a violent sickness bug where I couldn’t keep anything at all down and because I wasn’t eating I’d underestimated how much insulin I needed. We all make mistakes and this one almost cost me my life, but for him to insinuate that I’d just “not bothered” taking my insulin was, for me, the most offensive thing anyone has ever said to me.

I often get frustrated and angry at how diabetes is portrayed on TV shows and in the media, and diabetic jokes make my blood boil. Not because I don’t have a sense of humour around it, you have to to survive but because they’re so often filled with such ignorance. Eating sweets or cakes doesn’t give you type 1 diabetes. My pancreas doesn’t work how it’s supposed to, it doesnt produce insulin and without insulin you would die. This is why I have to inject myself with insulin up to 7 times a day. There is no known cause for type 1 diabetes, it cannot be prevented so jokes on how I must have eaten too many sweets as a child are not only very offensive but entirely inaccurate.

Being diabetic isn’t something I speak about a lot, not because I’m ashamed of it, I’m not at all, it’s part of who I am, but just because I don’t always feel the need to. I can’t abide with the ‘woe me’ attitude I often see relating to diabetes. No it’s not always been easy and even now some days are hard. A few fluctuating blood sugars can leave me feeling terrible, but that’s life. Everyone fights their own battles and diabetes is mine. If it wasn’t that, it would be something else so there’s no point in sitting moaning about it. It’s an illness I have but I’ve had it for so long now that it’s just part of me, I can’t even remember what life without diabetes was like.

So why write this? I guess because 25 years seems a pretty big milestone. As much as I take it in my stride I’m not a fool and I do know how serious a condition it is but I guess I just want to show other people that you can still live a normal, happy life with diabetes. I know that a lot of the way I react to my diabetes is due to the way my family managed it as a child and to the excellent support we had from our hospital diabetes team, and in particular Sister Leitch, and I will always be so grateful for that.

I strongly believe that in the future they will find a cure for diabetes, I also believe though that this is unlikely to be in my lifetime, and I’m okay with that. As I get older diabetes gives me new obstacles and challenges to face but I intend to face each of them with the same attitude as I’ve had since I was that little 7-year-old girl sitting in her hospital bed, ready to rule it and not let it rule me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Leaving, on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll back again.

When we left for Montreal two and a half years ago it never occurred to me that one day I would end up feeling the same about leaving it as I did then about leaving Scotland. In fact, if anything, I’m struggling with this move much more than I ever did with our initial move from Scotland to Montreal.

These last weeks in Montreal have, for me, been quite difficult. I’ve found the prospect of leaving here much harder than I ever imagined I would.  I’m devastated at the thought of leaving the city that I love. This is no reflection on my feelings around moving to Calgary, because I am also just as equally excited and happy and bursting to see what our new life in Calgary will bring. I may have only had a very flying visit to Calgary but my initial impression was very positive. My feelings around Calgary might be positive but that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel sad at the prospect of leaving here. I knew I would miss Montreal but I actually feel quite bereft now at the thought of it.

When we left Scotland I didn’t know what to expect, but Montreal was everything and more than we could possibly have hoped for. A city that previously I had no desire to even visit, never mind to live in, has ended up being the best thing that could ever have happened to us, so understandably I’m sad to leave it.

While I was devastated about leaving my family behind when we came here, I didn’t feel the same nostalgia about leaving the place itself. I think this could have been because I knew that we would always go back to Scotland. Our family and friends are there so of course we’ll always visit. We also still have a house there meaning that, should we wish to, we can move back to Scotland at any point. Whereas leaving here feels a lot more final. Our families aren’t here so we won’t have the same pull to return each year to spend time with them. Yes I’d like to think that we’ll come back one day to visit friends but many of them too either already have, or are now, moving on, so the Montreal we leave will unlikely be the same place we would return to. This move is final. We may visit but we know we won’t ever live here again. It’s officially the end of that chapter of our lives and that seems quite a daunting thought.

I know that we’ve given Montreal everything we had though, we have literally done everything we wanted to do here and made the absolute most of our time and for that I am very grateful. Our Montreal bucket list is ticked off and we’ve revisited all our favourite places one last time. I know that it’s now time to say goodbye. But I also know that doing so is proving to be much more emotionally challenging than I ever expected it to be. I am so sad to be leaving here, the city that has now became our home. I know that as we board the plane to Calgary on Sunday I’ll likely be in floods of tears, not because of what we’re going to but because of what we’re leaving behind. I also know that in time I’ll move on, though I’ll always be so grateful for the time we had here, the experiences Montreal gave us, the people it made us become and for those that it brought into our lives. Thanks for the memories Montreal, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

 

What am I doing here?

What am I doing here? The thought that won’t stop running through my head as I sit on the couch and cry my heart out after saying goodbye to my Mum and Dad who have just left for the airport. Why am I here? Why am I choosing to live over 2000 miles away from the people who mean the most to me in the world? Why?

All rational thought is gone right now and I hate my life choices. I hate that it’s my fault that I’m having to say goodbye to them at all. I hate that it’s my fault that they’re upset. I’m the one that made the decision to leave and now the consequences of that decision are what are causing the tears to pour down my face. I know that tomorrow I’ll be more composed, probably still not happy; that will take a few days but by tomorrow I’ll be able to reign my feelings in more and remember why I am here. I’ll remember that living abroad has given me so many amazing opportunities and that I love my life in Canada. But not today.

Today, the day that they leave is awful. I held it together quite well this time. Normally I cry on the day they leave from the second my eyes open that morning but today I managed to hold it together until their Uber was ordered and they were pulling their packed suitcases into the hall before I crumbled and became a sobbing mess.

It’s never long enough. Their two-week holiday should have been plenty of time but it wasn’t, it positively flew past. A sign of what a wonderful time we had. We did and saw so much and spent so much quality time together and I know that they had a great holiday but I guess I’m just greedy because I just wasn’t ready for them to go. I’m never ready for them to go.

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“You’ll see them again soon.” The most well-meaning but unhelpful platitude you can be offered at this time. The last time they left it was seven months before I next saw them. Okay, this time I actually will see them again soon, very soon in fact. I’m travelling back to the UK for a wedding in six weeks time and while there I’m planning to go back to Scotland for a few days. A very fleeting four days in which I’ll try to fit in seeing them and also all of the family and friends I haven’t seen in almost a year, but still four days is better than nothing. But right now the fact that I’ll get to see them in six weeks doesn’t help, like i know it should. Because today all I can focus on is the fact that they’re gone. That I won’t see them for the next 6 weeks and when I do it will be only for a brief few days and then I’ll not know when I’ll next see them again. I told you, today I can’t be rational.

I take this hard I know I do. I know friends here who are pretty good at the whole saying goodbye thing. I’m not one of them. I’m terrible at goodbyes,  I always have been. I hate saying goodbye to anyone. I even hate watching other people say goodbye so it’s not unfathomable how much saying bye to this, such important, pair upsets me but I do wish it was easier. I’ve written previously about homesickness and how most of the time I can rationalise my feelings of homesickness but this day, the day they leave, this is the day where the homesickness overwhelms me. Where I can’t eat, I can’t watch TV, I can’t even think straight I’m so overwhelmed by the sadness I feel that they’re gone.

A friend and fellow blogger wrote an excellent post recently about how to manage the sadness you experience as an expat when visitors leave (http://kathrynrelocated.com/stop-feeling-sad-after-visitors-leave/ ) and I will dutifully follow her tips, knowing that she’s right and they do work, and in a few days I’ll be back to my cheery self. But just not yet. Today I will wallow in my sadness (the post says that’s allowed too, I should acknowledge the sadness that I’m feeling).  So today I will cry as much as I want and feel the loss that their absence in my Canadian life, and even just in my apartment leaves. The silence kills me. It feels so quiet and empty without them here. The sadness of my dog Max, who doesn’t have to talk to show how heartbroken he is at their departure, makes it even worse, though at least I know I’m not alone in my feelings.

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I have written previously of the rollercoaster of emotions that them visiting brings, tears of happiness to tears of despair in a short two weeks. I know that it is worth it. The time we shared and the memories we made were amazing but today I can’t look at pictures from the last two weeks, they make me too sad and remind me of what I’m missing. Tomorrow though I will look at them again. I will smile at the wonderful memories we made. I will count down the days until I see them again. I will make plans for the coming weeks and months. I will return to my life here, visit my favourite places, meet up with friends, do chores and carry on, making the most of our life here and remembering why we chose to move here and why we choose now more than two years on to continue living abroad. But just not today. Today I will cry and resent myself and my life choices. And hug my dog, who understands.

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Change…

In my previous life, back in Scotland (sometimes it really does feel like that), I spent a lot of time thinking about change and more specifically change management. I worked in mental health services and was acutely aware of the impact (often negatively) that change could have on the vulnerable service users we worked with and how to do everything we could to successfully support them to transition through it. Moving to Montreal I became aware once again of the impact of change, this time though relating to ourselves and the huge changes that were happening in our lives. This time the change brought about both positive and negative impacts but it was still stressful. Now two years on, we’re going through change again.

As human beings most of us are programmed to not like change. Some change is of course for the good, new opportunities in life, new adventures, travels, but all change whether good or bad still inevitably brings with it a certain degree of uncertainty and anxiety. Personally, I’ll admit that I’m not very good with change; ironic from someone who moved halfway across the world I know. Actually though that change I was okay with, as it was our decision. Where I’m not very good is when I have no control over the change, where it’s outwith my hands. I’m a little bit of a control freak and so having that control taken away from me causes me all sorts of issues.

In the last five months our apartment which we rent in Montreal went up for sale and this immediately caused an uneasiness to wash over me. Now before I sound like I’m just being dramatic I am aware that there are other nice apartments in Montreal, plenty of them, in fact many probably much nicer than ours. So, why was I so bothered at this news? Well, because I love my home. It’s nothing particularly fancy, its a nice apartment yes but that’s not it, it’s because it is our home. It became a sanctuary in a city that we didn’t know. The place I’ve felt safe, the place we’ve been happy, the place where we celebrated our first Christmas in Canada, where we have sought refuge after the bad days and celebrated after the good.

It was the first and only apartment we viewed when we arrived in Montreal, as I knew within seconds of walking in the front door that it would become our home. Mark thought I was being ridiculous when I insisted that he had to come back and view it with me again that same evening, telling him, “It’s ours! I can feel it!”, until he too walked through the door, and smiling gave me the nod of agreement. We signed for it there and then. And ‘home’ it has been now for over 2 years but I know that one day soon when the apartment sells it will become someone else’s home and we’ll need to find a new place to live. I also know that I’ll probably grow to love a new apartment and area just as much and the nostalgia I feel towards here will fade over time but I still can’t help but feel sad at the fact that we have to leave here and uneasiness at the change that is coming.

Like many things in life (buses, bad luck and such like) change seldom occurs as a one off event but often comes in threes. At the same time as our apartment went on sale we also became very aware that our visas were due to run out at the beginning of May. There was a lot of uncertainty for a few months as we waited to hear, firstly if Mark was needed for the second stage of the project he is working on which would determine whether his contract in Canada would be extended and then secondly whether we would get a new visa which would allow us to stay, and this too brought a lot of unease and anxiety. Sometimes just the suggestion of change is enough to bring about these feelings and on top of the prospect of having to move, this became a challenging time as we didn’t know what the future held for us. Thankfully Mark’s contract has been renewed and we received a new 3 year visa, which certainly takes some of the pressure off.

The last change we’ve experienced in recent months has been our best friends moving away. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts we have been so lucky to have made wonderful friends here. We have a fantastic social circle and I feel so grateful to have met these people from all over the world and know that many of them will now be friends for life. There was however one couple who we became particularly close with. We met them the weekend they arrived in Montreal, which was exactly 4 weeks after we ourselves arrived. Within minutes of meeting I knew I had found a friend as we bonded over our love of Mulberry handbags and matching bracelets we had. We, by total chance, ended up living a couple of blocks apart and because we met them so early into our Montreal adventure they have very much been a part of this whole experience with us. So many of my best memories from here involve them and I know that Montreal will inevitably change for me now they’re gone. I do still have many wonderful friends here and I know that we’ll create many more amazing memories but their absence will still definitely be felt.

Two years might not seem like a long time to know someone but the expat friendship is not a normal friendship. You are so far removed from your comfort zone and everything and everyone you know, that friendships accelerate so much quicker than they ever would/could in normal circumstances. These friends become your family in a country where you don’t have any family or any childhood friends. The highs and lows are magnified in this situation and she saw me at my very best and also at my very worst, on the days when I am so grateful for this experience and throw myself wholeheartedly into everything and on the days when I cry because I just want to be able to see my Mum and Dad. She’s been there for it all. The day a few weeks ago when we said goodbye I cried inconsolably because I felt an actual physical loss. I know that technically nothing will change, a small matter of an ocean between us now won’t change our friendship, we have a bond now that we’ll have for life but I will still miss not physically having them both here though, for the big events and also for the little things. This is however not the first time we’ve had to say goodbye to people we care about though and I’m sure it wont be the last either. That is both the wonder and the price of the expat journey

Accepting change may not be the easiest thing in the world for some of us but like it or not it is something we all have to deal with in life. It’s important though to acknowledge the feelings that we are experiencing, understand that it is okay to feel like this but not to dwell on them and instead to find a way to accept the change for what it is, and move on.

Two Years On….

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Two years ago; this one, the pup and I, all got on a plane to Montreal with no idea what would be waiting for us on the other side, yet with a naïve hopefulness that it would be something good. We were lucky. Or maybe we weren’t lucky, maybe it was that unfaltering optimism we had that things would be okay which meant that they were. Regardless, in Montreal we found not just a city that we love but a home and wonderful friends but more than anything we found an adventure that brought out the best in each of us and also brought us closer together as a couple. There’s been plenty of bad days too, of course there has, but for the most part they’re still very much outweighed by the good.

Two years has gone by in a heartbeat. When we first landed in Montreal and had that two year visa stapled into our passports I remember thinking that two years felt like an eternity. I suppose in some ways it has been, it’s hard to imagine a life now where we didn’t live here but in other ways it has completely flown by. The fact that today our two years are up seems unbelievable. I was so sure back then that I would be ready to return to Scotland at the end of the two years but it would seem now that that isn’t quite the case.

Our future is still uncertain and I suppose it might always be. We don’t know where we’re going to be in a year, or 5 or 10. At some stage we may just wake up one day and think, “We’re done! It was fun while it lasted but we’re ready to head back home.” Because as I’ve said before Scotland will always be home to us. Whether we return in a year, 10 years or only ever for holidays it will always be home.

For now though, despite how I anticipated two years ago I would feel at this point, we aren’t ready to leave Canada. For now, it is our home, providing us with the opportunities and quality of life that we’re looking for. Despite the difficult days, the homesickness and the days when you wish so badly you could just magic yourself back to your mum and dad’s for a cuppa, we are happy and that’s not something to take for granted in this life.  So for now we’ll be raising a glass to toast the next stage of our Canadian adventure, whatever that may be and for however long it may last.

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Thank you

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. So what’s your thoughts on today? A load of BS? Yes, I suppose to some extent it is just that. It’s obviously consumerism at it’s worst. A marketing ploy based around the assumption that we need a specific day to say I love you to the people that we should always tell that we love; we shouldn’t need a day dictated by Hallmark to do this. But you know what, life happens and in reality sometimes we forget to say these things. We forget to show those we love quite how much they mean to us. We forget to say thank you for all the little things that they do that we love and appreciate them for.

So here is my thank you to my husband for the things, both big and small, that I love him for but perhaps I don’t say as often as I should.

Thank you…..

For 8 years of fun and endless adventures.

For asking me to marry you.

For making me smile, at some point, every single day.

For always being there when I need a shoulder to cry on or just a cuddle.

For knowing that pizza and prosecco will always cheer me up more than anything else.

For taking me on this adventure with you.

For not caring that I’m the world’s most unlikely housewife.

For not shouting at me when I buy more books, even when they no longer fit in the bookcase.

For giving me space when I’m homesick and nothing can console me.

For looking after me the next day when I’ve tried to drink like I’m 18 again and I forget that I can’t do that anymore. (Seriously though when will I realise this?)

For loving me, even when I’m not very loveable.

For making me laugh, really laugh. Having someone to laugh with is so important in life.

For reminding me daily, even on the days that I want to kill you, that I genuinely couldn’t live without you.

For cuddling me at night when I can’t sleep (that damn brain of mine always has too many tabs open).

For telling me that loving you “to the moon and back” isn’t very far. (It is so!)

For sharing my dreams and plans for the future.

For always insisting that you love me more. (You don’t, it’s not possible)

For helping me scratch off the map (literally) and create memories to treasure across the world.

For loving Max so much.

For always sharing my blog posts, that little gesture means so much to me.

For being my partner in absolutely everything.

For bringing me breakfast in bed while you watch early morning football.(I know this is only to keep me occupied so you get to watch your beloved Arsenal play in peace but that’s okay, its a win win situation)

For showing me that even when times get tough, that we’ll always have something worth fighting for.

For not getting annoyed when we watch a movie and I ask a million questions because I wasn’t paying attention at the start. (Every single time).

For carrying the 16 litres of bottled water home from the shop every week because I really hate the tap water (despite the fact that you think it tastes just fine).

For eating the vegetarian meals I cook even though I know you’d always rather have a steak.

For no longer even mentioning that our house is overrun with candles.

For buying me more candles (even in light of previous point) because you know how happy they make me.

For putting up with my hysterical tears every time I have to say goodbye to my Mum and Dad.

For spoiling me even when I’m sure I don’t deserve to be spoiled.

For listening to me rant on the days when I hate living here.

For not saying “I told you so” the following day (or sometimes just 30 minutes later) when I love living here again.

For being my partner, my best friend and my husband.

For just being you.

Happy Valentine’s Day xx

(Lastly thank you for not killing me for sharing this with the world…..the curse of a blogger wife)

The Bucket List

A few weeks ago we watched the film the Bucket List, where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson’s characters discover they have terminal cancer and set out to write and complete a bucket list and this got me thinking about what would be on mine. What are the things that you’ve always wanted to do?

When we moved into our first home together back in 2011 we wrote a sort of bucket list of things we wanted to do before we turned 30. We misplaced the list on the move here so I’m not sure exactly what all was left on it but we definitely did tick a few things off. For me, visiting New York and the Maldives, seeing Niagara Falls and going scuba diving. For Mark, visiting Las Vegas, moving abroad and also running a marathon (that one never made the cut on mine) but there’s many things that I’m sure we never managed to do from our list and our 30th birthdays have now been and gone and until we watched this film I had all but forgotten about the list. That’s the thing with bucket lists you always think you’ll have more time to do the things that you want to do and so there’s never an urgency about them, until possibly it’s too late.

I’m by no means advocating that we should be morbid; I don’t think we should think about impending death when we’ve no reason to, but I also think it’s important that we take the opportunity to do the things we want to do while we still have the chance. Dying without too many regrets is probably one of the greatest things we can ask for in this life. So however simplistic or extravagant your bucket list is, make the effort to tick off the things that matter to you. Save up for that trip you’ve always wanted to take. If you’ve always wanted to skydive, do it, be brave and jump out of that plane! You want to start your own business? What can you do now to make that happen? You want to go back to university? Fill in that application form! There’s someone you love that you haven’t told? Tell them! Make the most of the time you have as none of us knows what the future holds.

So what should you put on your list? Well if life suddenly had an expiration date what would you regret not having done? I’m sure at that point maybe visiting certain countries or seeing the wonders of the world might fall lower on the priority list. So maybe a bucket list can be about going places and doing things you’ve always wanted to do but maybe more importantly it’s also just about having lived a good and happy life and making sure that those you love know it. Morgan Freeman’s character asks at the end of the film, “Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?” …..Have you? Has it? If not why not start working now to make a change and work on ticking off the things on your bucket list, both big and small.

New Year But Is It A New Me?

Just like that, the New Year has arrived. Part of me enjoys the symbolism of this; a fresh start if you will, out with the old and in with the new, where we’re all full of positivity for what the next 12 months brings. There is a slightly more cynical part of me which takes it all with a pinch of salt and thinks it’s just another day but I try to keep the cynic in me at bay, seldom good ever comes from her getting air time.

The customs and traditions surrounding New Year differ from country to country and have evolved over the years. I remember as a little girl both of my Grans deep cleaning their houses on New Year’s Eve as it was tradition that you shouldn’t take any of the dirt of the old year into the new one with you.

In Scotland we used to have a tradition for ‘first footing’ whereby the first person to come through the door after midnight on Hogmanay brought with them a lump of coal as a sign of good luck that the house should always be warm for the coming year. It was thought to bring the most luck if this ‘first footer’ was a dark haired male and even more so if this person was a stranger. In some countries this dark haired stranger would also bring salt and bread to symbolise food and money for the coming year. In others it’s tradition to open the back door at the stroke of midnight to “let out” the last year whereas in other countries it’s considered bad luck to enter the new year with any outstanding debts.

We may have lost a lot of these traditions over the years but there are some that we’ve hung onto, such as waiting up till midnight on New Year’s Eve to see the old year out and welcome in the new one.  Another is, of course, the making of New Year’s resolutions.

We’ve hit the time of year where we decide what we’re going to do to make our lives that little bit better and we’ve all suddenly became full of very good intentions. January is like the ultimate Monday, you know how you can’t start a diet or a new fitness regime on any day other than a Monday (that is a law right?) So every year like 90% of the population I set some fitness related resolutions. The usual; lose weight, get fit, get healthy……highly predictable I know ! This year more specifically I’d like to lose two stone and run a 10k. I have wanted to lose that same two stone for the last two years though so I won’t get my hopes up there! Oh dear there’s that cynic again!!

I’ve also set myself some blog related resolutions – things I’d like to achieve on the blog this year and of course some personal resolutions too. Nothing particularly revolutionary but for starters I would like to improve my French. I’ve also decided that at 31 it’s maybe time I finally start taking care of my skin. I’ve always been a face wipe and water type of girl and I think I’ve been fortunate enough to get away with this until now but I think 31 might finally be the time to take better care of it before it’s too late. I’d also like to learn to use chopsticks well enough to be able to use them in public without resembling a bumbling idiot, lead a more clutter free life and to challenge myself more, in all aspects of my life.

Today is the day known as ‘Blue Monday’, the universally renowned gloomiest day of the year. Now I’m not by any means whatsoever suggesting that this day has any correlation to people who are actually suffering from depression. A mental illness is far, far more complex than that and of course it’s important that we all understand that we have to differentiate between an actual mental health problem and the feelings brought on by a miserable Monday in January.

It’s thought that the term ‘Blue Monday’ was concocted by the travel industry to encourage people to book holidays to relieve their ‘January blues’, and I hope the person that first created the term got a raise as it’s PR gold! As, as absolutely ridiculous as it is, today really is a miserable day. I have had so many messages from friends today saying they’re fed up, or got no energy and I know I personally have struggled to get motivated today much more so than normal. Mondays are gloomy at the best of times but the third one in January is never going to be great. The weather is bad; we’re in the middle of winter, Montreal is currently a sludgy, icy mess; we’re all still feeling the pinch from Christmas spending, and summer seems an awfully long way off so it is no surprise that it’s also the day where statistically most people break their New Year’s Resolutions. So if you’re still going with yours then well done you!

I hope that this year maybe I will be able to keep my resolutions for longer than normal (considering I normally fail by about day three I’m not doing too bad) but even if I don’t I guess the fact that the arrival of the New Year makes you look at these aspects of your life at all is a positive. I’m still the same old me but maybe I’m just trying a little harder to improve certain parts of myself and that can’t be a bad thing, we always have room for improvement.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? If so I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with them.

Happy New Year -Let’s Hope It’s A Good One

2016 has been the quickest year of my life so far so it’s hard to believe that it’s Hogmanay again already; it feels like no time has passed since last New Year’s Eve. 2016 for the most part was really pretty good to us. We’ve had a ball on the second year of our Canadian adventure. We learned to ski and snowboard (albeit not very well!), we celebrated Mark’s 30th, visited Boston, Quebec City, Las Vegas,Toronto and Niagara Falls and had a lovely trip back to Scotland to see our families. We met our friends’ beautiful babies and watched people we love get married. We had friends and family make the trip out to visit us and got to spend some lovely quality time with them. We spent a night in a lighthouse in Rhode Island, achieving a childhood dream of mine and I finally found a job here. It was also the year I started this blog and took time to write, something I have always wanted to do. Mark ran the Montreal marathon and raised over £1600 for Cancer Research UK. We also spent our first Christmas in Canada.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a really good year but I know for many 2016 hasn’t been so good. So for all those reflecting back today and feeling that 2016 let them down, I hope that 2017 is better for you. I hope it brings you happiness and everything that you hope for. The start of a new year is a fresh start; a chance to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. So let’s try, where possible (I know it isn’t always that easy) to leave any negativity or troubles we’re carrying with us, here in 2016 and not take them through to the next year.

Our current Canadian visas are up at the start of May so 2017 is full of uncertainty for us; we enter the year not knowing where we’ll be calling home and with some pretty big decisions to make about our future. I feel positive about this though, life is an adventure and whatever is meant to be, will be. I hope that whatever happens and wherever we end up this time next year, be it Montreal, Scotland or somewhere else entirely, that we will still be happy. That’s all you can ask for in this life is to be happy. Love, health and happiness, nothing else matters.

So as the clock strikes 12 tonight, first in Scotland and then five hours later in Montreal we’ll raise our glasses twice to wish all those we love and care about, a very happy new year full of everything you wish for. A year of love, health and happiness for you and yours. And then we’ll raise our glasses again to toast absent friends, those we love that haven’t made it this far. The next year is a gift that not everyone gets, so be sure to do your damnedest to make it a good one!

Happy Hogmanay everyone and here’s to a great 2017 when it comes! xxx

Every time a bell rings…

One of my favourite pastimes at Christmas is escaping the cold, and in Montreal the snow; and curling up in my pyjamas, with a hot chocolate  (I have recently developed a great love for Bailey’s hot chocolate which is not remotely diet friendly but is incredibly festive), and watching a Christmas movie. This is one of the activities that I hold off on until December 1st so I am then able to savour it for the whole month of December.

There are some truly wonderful Christmas movies to choose from but I have to say that the old ones are definitely the best. In recent years there just hasn’t been the same calibre of Christmas movie. The most recent ones that I have really enjoyed include ‘Elf’, which graced our screens for the first time in 2003, still some 13 years ago. For me this is Will Ferrell at his best, a giant elf searching for his father in New York City, comedy gold.

Another wonderful Christmas film that came out the same year as ‘Elf’, is the romantic comedy ‘Love Actually’. It’s fairly cheesy but in a good way and it has a stellar cast, portraying the stories of a group of Londoners at Christmas whose stories are all interlinked but which all share the one common theme, love. I’m a sucker for a rom com so ‘The Holiday’ also gets my vote. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet both fed up with their lives and about to spend Christmas alone decide to do a house swap from LA to the English countryside and in doing so find themselves getting more than they bargained for from their agreement. It was slightly more recent, being released in 2006 but in the ten years since it’s release I’m afraid there haven’t been any that have really captured my Christmas spirit.

My all time favourite Christmas film is one of the oldest ones there is, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, telling the story of George Bailey who, falling upon bad times, contemplates suicide; only to be visited by his guardian angel who shows him what life would be like if he had never existed. It may not sound like the happiest of Christmas stories but if you haven’t seen it stick with it, I promise it’s worth it. I absolutely adore it and it’s famous quote “Every time a bell rings an angel somewhere gets their wings”. In Glasgow the GFT (Glasgow Film Theatre) shows it in the run up to Christmas and I was delighted to find that a number of the cinemas in Montreal also screen it and I already have my tickets booked to go see it on the 22nd. There’s something about seeing this magical Christmas film up on the big screen that feels so festive and puts you right into the Christmas spirit. It’s also a very good way of reminding yourself of the true message of Christmas.

I didn’t actually watch It’s A Wonderful Life until I was an adult but once I did it became my firm favourite. However my other close contenders for the top spot are all ones that I watched as a child and when watching them I am magically transported back to that age again. Christmas films have a special ability to do this as they’re a little bit of magic. They undoubtedly have a happy ending (I’m the person that turns Titanic off once the boat starts to sink so I love this) and there’s usually a heartfelt, feel good message to them too. You never feel bad after watching a Christmas movie.

‘Home Alone’ and it’s New York sequel are prime examples of what makes a good Christmas film – a cute kid beating the bad guy(s) and ultimately getting their Christmas wish. ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is another classic which I always love, where Macy’s Santa Claus, Kris Kringle helps little Susan to ‘Believe’ in Santa and the magic of Christmas. I have never actually seen the original 1947 version of ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ but it is on my to watch list this year. I can’t quite believe that the remake is 22 years old this year!

There are numerous other Christmas crackers (pardon the pun) worthy of watching. The many variations of ‘A Christmas Carol’ are always worth a watch and ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ which came out the year I was born will always be one that I watch over the festive period.

Whatever your favourite Christmas film is I hope you get the chance to enjoy it over the holidays and with it, to bring a little Christmas cheer to a cosy afternoon or evening. Don’t forget your Bailey’s hot chocolate!