A Design For Life

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

The ‘Epicurean Epitaph’, a quote attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, often now used at humanist funerals.epicurus-3

I found myself thinking about this yesterday, prompted by a Facebook meme.

It doesn’t just apply to a way of looking at death. It can also be a way of looking at life.

The basis of Epicurus’ philosophy after all, his lifestyle and that of his friends and followers, was looking for the things that make us happy and then as much as possible having those things in our lives.

Not in Hedonism: self-indulgent and unrestrained behaviour – a common misunderstanding of his ideas – but more in a satisfaction with life: involving moderation, respect for others and friendship.

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

This could just as much be about happiness as it is a way of coping with the concept of our mortality. We all have peaks and troughs in our lives. There are times when things seem to be going well, when we’re making progress, when we’ve achieved some of our goals and are looking to continue onwards.

There are other times when life seems bleak, when nothing seems to work, where everything is going wrong – even to the extent that we give up hope.

Basic needs like food & water, shelter, safety, health, relationships. Simply said – not so simply achieved! Certainly not all at once. Sometimes we seem to have them all; other times none of it!

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

‘A while back’ – I’m shocked sometimes when I think about just how long ago it was! – I was living and working in and around London, working in Finance.  I was “doing OK”, not great, but “OK”.

I met a girl, we moved in together. She was also “doing OK”. We went to restaurants, pubs and gigs: together and with friends. We travelled a lot. We moved to Brighton, then to Sutton Coldfield. We got married, then had children. Twins: Jake and Ellie. Great kids! Having been made redundant earlier I became their full time stay-at-home Dad: for 3 years, until they started pre-school in preparation for school proper. By this time we were here in Wales.

Now, 5 years later, we’re separated. I live alone, in a small house: fine just for me but nothing like our old family home. The children who were my life I see now just 2 days a week: most of 1 day on the weekend and 1 evening after school.  And to be honest I’ve struggled to pick up with my career where I left off. The industry is very tech-driven and seems to have moved on, irrespective of all my experience. My age counts against me too I think; having to start again as it were a lot of the jobs I am qualified for I think are taken by young people.

We had a big house, and a good lifestyle: travel, good food, fun. Now I sometimes struggle even with the basics. Then I spent nearly all my time with my beloved Jake & Ellie; now I often feel like I hardly know them, like they’re growing up without me.

It’s very easy to look back and think things were perfect though isn’t it? I know they weren’t, even then.

Further back –  in New Zealand, for instance, before I found my feet career-wise here – I sometimes struggled, financially and socially. Even after I moved to the U.K. there were difficult times: I got caught up in the mortgage interest rate crisis of the ‘90s, and leaving the somewhat extreme religious group I got mixed up in was necessary, but still difficult, not least as it meant cutting myself off from all my ‘friends’ & having to start again socially.

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

I had tough times before, some good times, and now difficult times again. Life has its ups and downs. It’s just a question of perspective isn’t it? I’m trying to be grateful for what I do have. Great children who love me, food & shelter, safety, reasonably good health, friendships.

That’s more than millions of people all over the world can say. In many ways I’m lucky, despite what the reality of my life seems to be a lot of the time.

“I had not; I did have; I do not have; I do not mind”

I’m trying very hard to improve the things I can, while learning to accept and make the most of life as it is.

Thank you Epicurus: those are indeed wise words.

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Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!

I’ve had an eventful December, especially the last couple of weeks! I’m just now finding the time to write about it.

In less than 2 weeks  I’ve been in 3 car breakdowns, having to be towed each time. The last one  – Saturday – was on the hard shoulder of a busy dual carriageway just ahead of a slip road, in the dark & the cold.

With Jake & Ellie.
Continue reading “Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!”

In Sickness and In Health

The Mummy was a little worried about Jake’s health recently: as well as a runny nose & bad cough he had a temperature & was very tired & sluggish – very unlike his usual energetic self.

She was concerned enough that she thought a trip to the out-of-hours children’s doctor was called for. It was night-time & they had school the next day so rather than us all going she took Jake in while I stayed with Ellie to help settle her to sleep.

Instead of the usual books Ellie wanted to do colouring-in in 1 of her magazines, in bed. And I was expected – no, required – to join in with her.

Continue reading “In Sickness and In Health”

Further evidence that my children are smarter than me

The 4 of us have been beset with niggling coughs & colds, on & off, for the last few weeks.

Last week on the way back from pre-school Jake was having a little coughing fit.

I tried to be nice.

“Oh, Jake: you’ve still got that nasty cough! Don’t worry, we’ll try to make you better.”

“But you can’t, can you?” was his immediate reply.

No hint of malice or bitterness, just a matter-of-fact observation.

He’d no doubt noticed that Mummy & Daddy had been coughing & sniffling as well, & that our best efforts at treatment hadn’t made our ailments go away, let alone his or Ellie’s.

I was stumped. What can you say to that?

Continue reading “Further evidence that my children are smarter than me”

When even a trip to the hospital can be (a bit) funee

We had a spot of bother on Saturday afternoon.

Twice in a row Ellie was in a lot of pain while having a pee. Fearing a urinary infection we arranged an appointment at the out-of-hours GPs’ Surgery.

Jake seemed to have figured out that Ellie was having trouble with her ‘lady-parts’, so at the hospital after we’d registered he told the receptionist, very confidently:

“I’m alright. I’ve got a willy.”

Such a helpful boy!

Ellie was OK, by the way. She didn’t seem to have an infection, & has had no trouble since.

For more posts like this just click the pics!

Wot So Funee?

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

And they say the NHS isn’t working!

Dr. Ellie was in the house.

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There are a few instruments missing but Jake & Ellie decided that they needed them in bed. And I’m not sure what the carrots are doing there.

She was looking for work & needed a patient.

I was It.

Something got stuck into my ear.

I asked the Doctor, looking suitably concerned, what it said.

“You’re very hot”, she said.

She gave me something to drink, out of what I thought looked like a bottle of pills.

It tasted horrible!

Then there were more tests.

Things were put in my mouth. Jake joined in by injecting something into my chest.

1-DSC00930Then the Doctor became concerned about my knees.

She went in for a close look with her specialist knee-viewing instrument.

After some time, she looked up.

She seemed worried.

“They’ve got fish in them”.

Umm – can I have a second opinion please?

This post is part of the ‘Shoulder to Shoulder to Day’ blog-hop series: bloggers on a mission to cheer up a Mum of 3 while she is having treatment for cancer which isolates her from her family for a month.

Today it’s being hosted by Secrets of the Sandpit & InstinctiveMum, so have a look there for more posts like this 🙂

It’s also a ‘Wot So Funee?” post, so just click the pic for more of those

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

Wot So Funee?

An update on Jake

For those who saw my tweet / update on Saturday night about A&E – & especially for those who expressed their concern (Thank You) – I just thought I’d write a brief update about Jake.

We took him in because he seemed to have a high temperature & was very lethargic, to the point where he seemed to be lapsing into unconsciousness. We were worried. He’d perked up by the time we got there but he was clearly not right. At the hospital they advised us to keep treating his temperature with Calpol & Ibuprofen, give him plenty of liquids & to bring him in again if necessary.

He’s been sleeping restlessly the last 2 nights & has got very hot. We’ve brought his temperature down as advised; how parents coped before that stuff I don’t know!

Yesterday he was in good spirits but unusually tired. His appetite was off, & we had to continue with the medicine to keep his temperature down.

As instructed at the A&E – he’s had a urinary tract infection before -this morning we managed to coerce him into peeing into ‘a special potty’, the contents of which are now at our GPs’ surgery. Ellie of course insisted on using it as well! It’s a twin thing. And they both got ‘special stickers’.

Because he still seemed unwell we decided that he would stay home with me today so I could look after him, while Ellie went on her own to Karen’ s.

Although not his usual energetic self he was in good spirits, & we had a great time together. Because he was unwell I let him have (within limits) free choice of what we’d do. So we watched children’s TV (including a really good Dora about books & a Wonder Pets featuring the 3 little pigs – 3x each) & he fiddled about with my iPod Touch! Actually he didn’t seem to have the energy for anything more active.

Worryingly he hardly ate a thing, although he did have a good drink of apple juice. They still have a daily nap, usually late morning, & by 1145 he was sound asleep on my shoulder. I’d given him Calpol about half an hour earlier as he felt too hot.

Three hours later when the Mummy came home with Ellie he was still fast asleep: that’s almost unheard-of. He was hot as well, so we gave him Ibuprofen. After that he seemed back to his normal self & had a really good snack & more juice.  The Mummy however was so concerned she managed to get a doctor to see him.

Of course by the time he saw her he was happily jumping up & down & devouring his bag of Organix Goodies! Despite this she thought that we were right to bring him in & that we should keep on monitoring him carefully & giving him medication if necessary.

He’s been fine since, eating a really good dinner & playing happily, so we’re hoping he’ll be back to normal tomorrow.

Not my most exciting post! I just thought some people might like to know how he’s getting on.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Funky!

You may have noticed that there’s been a dearth of posting-type activity on my 3 active blogs recently. You knew I had 3 blogs, right? 😉

The truth is I’ve been in a bit of a funk. And I’m not even sure why. I mean Spring is springing, the Sun is sunning, we’ve had 2 nights in a row where I haven’t needed the heating on, Jallie are eating & playing in the garden. Most importantly, Jallie are happy & developing well.

Their seemingly constant illnesses has been bothering me though I think. Through most of the winter they seemed to either have a cold or cough, often both. Recently they both have had stuffed & constantly very runny noses & a nasty cough, both of which were disturbing their (& obviously our) sleep. Jake’s cough was often so bad that it caused him to throw up. Now that they’ve both lost the cold & the cough Jake has caught some sort of bug. He’s vomitting regularly, is pale & a bit subdued & has slight diarrhoea, although he’s mostly happy & playful, as ever. It takes a lot to get my Jakey down!

Unlike me, it seems. There are other things I could point to that might be a factor, but nothing certain.

Everyone copes with the blues in their own way – some good, some not so.  Some drink (when I was younger maybe), some turn to legal or illegal drugs (not my style), some comfort eat (guilty! mostly sweets). When the real world is getting me down I tend to escape into fantasy worlds, which for me means gaming. My game of choice at the moment is an online game called Guild Wars, an MMORPG. For those not familiar, it’s a bit like World of Warcraft, like a strategy game with swords (or in my case mostly bows & arrows).

I’ve been spending most of what leisure time I have building my characters’ skills, exploring, following the many story-lines & slaying monsters – immersing myself in a fantasy world, pure Escapism. And great fun.

So my blogging has suffered. And I’m now starting to feel bad about that. Not only have I not been posting much, I haven’t been reading much & – worst of all I think – I haven’t been responding to comments.

So I’ve decided to give myself a big kick in my Drakescale-armoured backside (now that takes some agility – all this hero stuff must be rubbing off on me!) & just get on with it. Hell, I enjoy blogging!

So: apologies for the break in transmission, normal service will resume as soon as possible 🙂

UPDATED: In cricket they call it “The Commentator’s Curse”. Since writing the weather has turned cold & wet again, Ellie has caught the vomit virus – & so have I.  Anyone out there played “Quake“? Remember the Vomitorium? Yep. At least I have better reason to be feeling down…

UPDATED AGAIN (Thursday 14th): We all seem better now. And there seems to be evidence of sunshine outside. *Happy face on*

To Sleep, Perchance…

I’ve slept ‘like a baby’ just about every night since the twins (now 10 months) were born – sorry! And, by the way, that doesn’t mean that I’ve snorted, tossed & turned, & woken up every 2 hours crying for milk!

This post is for The Question of the Week at Multiples And More: “What keeps you up at night? What helps you get to sleep?”

I’ve slept ‘like a baby’ just about every night since the twins (now 10 months) were born – sorry! And, by the way, that doesn’t mean that I’ve snorted, tossed & turned, & woken up every 2 hours crying for milk!

No, I’ve slept soundly.

With twin babies, especially in the early months, we were constantly sleep-deprived, so “Will I be able to sleep?” wasn’t the issue; it was more “When can I sleep? Now? Please?! I’m really ti…ZZzzzz””

It’s better now, but I’m still regularly awoken by a restless baby during the night & more often than not end up taking them in with me. And then I get woken up with them at around 5am.

Not that there hasn’t been plenty to worry about, of course.

In the early days: SIDS , health worries, the “What-Ifs” developmental worries about whether they might not be quite ‘right’ mentally or physically.

Now they’re experts at crawling, negotiating obstacles, pulling themselves up, cruising & standing unaided. Jake especially has a fantastic turn of speed.  It won;t be long before they’re walking. So now we worry about them hurting themselves, falling over, falling off  a bed, down steps, etc. Just this evening Jake amazed me with how fast he was able to zip across a mattress. I only let go for a second & he nearly made it to the edge! I plan to do a lot baby-proofing around the house this weekend!

We also worry about the kind of people they’ll become. We want them, primarily, to be happy. We’d also like them to be, at the risk of sounding soppy: nice. The sort of people who give to life & not just take from it. We’re hoping they’ll be both.

None of these keep me awake at night, though!

It may be to do with my gender. I prefer to think however that it’s because we are doing everything we can to give them the best lives we can. We’re lucky in that we’ve both been able to be at home with them all their lives so far, so they get all the attention & TLC that they need. We are always there for them, we play with them a lot, teach them what we can amidst the fun, comfort them, feed them & clothe them.  And I think it shows in their development so far: they are just delightful. Physically they’re developing really well, their heath seems to have stabilised, they laugh & play a lot, they’re feeding well.

They are greatly loved & I think they know it. They seem happy.

So, yes I worry; there’s always something.  But not enough to keep me awake at night.

Sorry… 😉

 

twins, twin babies, baby clapping, baby reading
"Yay, that was great!!" "Yes, I was rather good wasn't I?"