The change in my BiPolar

This month has been stressful, there have been good times, as I write this we are on the journey home from our holiday which we timed to coincide with a family Bar Mitzvah in the town we holidayed in, the holiday was lovely and relaxing , countering the stress I had been experiencing during the last few weeks.

In a  recent previous blog,  I wrote about the time of the year my son was born and passed away and my feelings surrounding that time, I have also written previously about my daughter, my beautiful girl who has not lived with me for 10 years now.

For as long as I remember I would expect, even anticipate a BiPolar episode, usually starting during a stressful period, to occur when my daughter visited, time of the year my baby had died etc, starting with the racing thoughts, the brain battle of little green monster fighting his way through, gradually spreading his claws throughout my brain, making me think and act in a manic/ hyper way, sometimes subsiding after a very short time but other times completely taking over to the extent that I believe I am on an incredibly important mission, am the queen, try to book tickets across the world and so much more, usually followed by the saddest, most intensely disturbing thoughts , leading me to find myself racing around a cemetery in a complete panic or believing  that people wanted to hurt me.

So. What’s changed ? Why during the last 8 weeks, when I became very ill, had the anniversary of my baby’s death , had my daughter visit and more have I not had an episode ? What has changed that has stopped me from even having an inkling of green monster rearing his ugly head?

I believe it is a combination of things, and I wonder how many others with BiPolar disorder can relate to this.

A few months ago I had something called EMDR to deal and come to terms with some horrendous things that I had sudden memories of, things which had stayed hidden in the deepest storeroom of my mind for so many years, EMDR has been one of the most difficult kinds of therapy I have been in, but having reached the other side it has been a journey of self discovery and learned strength, it has changed the way I feel about aspects of my life and journey.

It was suggested to me that my BiPolar was trauma based, and I do believe that to be true now.

The second part of the recent lack of manic episodes is the fact of having a fullfilling job which I love and one in which I  feel I am giving back to society.

Having a stable life and minimising my episodes is  goal I have always strived for, I know I still think in a certain way, the obsessive thoughts, the high anxiety about the world in general, the low self esteem etc.

I do feel that seeking the root of where a persons BiPolar started could help to lessen  the symptoms in a big way.

No, I do not think my BiPolar has gone and i know it will always be there. So I will keep taking my meds and hoping that another Episode will not occur but now I have the strength to overcome it.

“Keep him at home” she said ….

Usually I write about what I know, basing my writings on knowledge gained through life experiences, but today, and forgive me if I come across as ignorant I feel the need to write about something I do not know very much about, and that is autism.
I have a daughter who is somewhat on the spectrum, but as you will know if you have read (and thank you if you have!) any of my previous blogs, the relationship I have with my daughter is so complex, and therefore I am not fully aware of the intricacies of her needs, but I do have a very good friend who has a child with autism.
Today I spoke with her, she told me about how the long holidays have been an eye opener for her, how as her son grows and  his needs become more complex  people  she meets react to her, she sadly related over an experience she had today whilst in a park with her son, whilst he was playing in the sand a lady rebuked her for her sons behaviour and informed her “children like that should be kept at home”.
 In my mind, it is irrelevant whether her son was sitting quietly, or throwing around sand, or acting out, what is relevant however is how people reacted to this little boy, a young child whose appearance shows no sign of having an extra need, or as we often say a “special need” he is a tall, well built boy, with beautiful eyes, and a beautiful soul, yet when he goes out there are certain things he needs, again I am not an expert and am not fully aware of his needs, but for example if things do not go in the way he expects he will react, in a more extreme way than some children will.
Till a little while ago he could not go on a bus, he would fuss loudly and my friend became used to the stares, and the disapproving shakes of the head, she became used to having to push him in a specialist buggy, she became used to people judging, and making comments to her, but however used to something we are, the reality is, it hurts, it hurts so much when you give and give and give, and then one unkind, insensitive comment takes all the hard work that you are so proud of and grinds it in the mud.
He has come so far, when I saw my friend with her son today, he proudly told me ” I went on the tube without my buggy” he was so proud, he felt a million dollars at his achievement, and we shared a high 5 in happiness. He managed to walk a distance and made it to the park feeling great, yet whilst playing in the sand he noticed, and my dear friend noticed, and was aghast at an adult, pointing her finger, laughing and showing her children the little boy who was not acting in a way she considered “normal”, and all the pride and joy both he and her felt was cast aside and the crushing sadness replaced the joy.
Autism is in general an “invisible” disability, upon seeing my friends son he looks like any other child, but he is not, he is different, yet that difference makes him sweet, kind, caring and so loving, I know that I will always get a hug from him ! , sure it also makes him act out when he experiences something unexpected, or becomes upset, but which child does not?
Yes his reactions may be extreme, but to him routine is so important and so is knowing that he is loved.
I have seen my friend give her all to him, I have seen the love, care and pure, unadulterated devotion in every way possible she gives to him, from never giving up on him being accepted in to a school that was perfect for him, even though it seemed financially impossible, to patiently replacing household items that have been damaged when he is upset. I have seen my friend gently tending to him when he has lashed out, and never has she stopped, she carries him in her arms and heart.
We often complain about the behaviour of our children, but if others criticize their behaviour we will do anything to defend them, imagine the hurt if our child could not regulate their emotions, and lashed out in frustration, if we knew that our child was trying as hard as they possibly could to live the life they were given but struggling from the moment they woke to the moment they slept, imagine others shaking their heads, telling us to keep him at home, that he should not be let out in public.
She tells me, that people are so good, how they came to her defence in the park, how they told her “your doing a great job” and she appreciates those people, those are the people who give her the push to carry on the amazing way she is looking after her son.
I guess my message would be, we don’t know, we cant know, because someone does not look like they have a disability, because the person may not be in  a wheelchair, or have a special need such as downs syndrome, which is easily identified it does not mean we have the right to look, to shake our heads at a child’s behaviour, we can not judge we should not judge.
I have utter respect for my friend and so, this is dedicated to her, and to the millions of other parents who tirelessly work to give their children with an “invisible” special need the best life they can have.
Lots of love
Sara

HAPPY BIRTHDAY?

I knew it was in August, but it had stayed buried, until someone during a unrelated conversation reminded me, the shock, the anger at myself and the shame and guilt rushed at me, literally  taking my breath away.

Had I denied him by failing to remember him at this time of year? Can I console myself that I do in fact think of him, even subconsciously, on a daily basis and therefore am I forgiven for the unintentional lack of remembering that today is the day he was born, and  in a day and a half it will be the day he died. Does it make me a terrible mother to him that the day did not shout out to me?

16 Years old today, my son, the boy who I never met, the boy who remains a wonder and mystery to me, a shadow of a memory who’s fleeting presence in my everyday life is small comfort to what could have been.

Passing away so soon after his birth means that according to Jewish Law I do not have “Yahrzeit” a day, set aside to remember him by, a candle to be lit, prayers for his memory to be said, what I have instead is a cold, grey stone, cut in to the shape of a heart with his birth day and the name I would have given him engraved on it, given to me by the hospital approximately 8 years ago, when I made my final pilgrimage there to enable myself to have the closure I so desperately craved.

Visiting the hospital where he was transferred to, being shown around the intensive care unit, being given the notes that were taken, sitting in the “garden of dreams” all those years ago I had finally felt a nearness to my son, it had taken many years of anguish and heartbreak to both find out where he had spent his pitiful life, and where he had been buried, so much of the trauma had been blocked out, sent to the back of my brain where a lot of the memories are still hidden.

I hear my brain shouting at me, echoing words I have heard from others, “get over it, it was so long ago, you have moved on, focus of the living, focus on what you have now” so this is a message to all those who have loved and lost, and continue to love the angel, the pure soul God blessed us with, you do move on, you do focus on living, the love you have in your life, but you never forget, you can not forget, each time a friend or family member gives birth there is a raw pain, there are prayers that their baby is healthy, there is a tiny spark of jealousy.

With each birthday I allow myself time to close my eyes and think, today he would be 16, would he be doing A levels? would he be academic? Is he a happy boy? Or is he moody, and angry with the world in general as is a 16 year olds given right to be? Is he loud, musical, an actor or dancer like his sisters are? how religious is he? Does he love and value Judaism, have we taught him right from wrong?  Is he rebellious or is he laid back and happy wherever he may be? What foods would he like? What kind of clothes… the list goes on and on, if I let it, the list can overtake all other thoughts today.

If you are feeling judged right now because you lost your angel so many years ago but still feel the pain, know that you are not alone, no one can ever tell you to get over it, or move on because your can not and should not.

Never forget, never stop hurting, because it is the pain that connects you, the love that the pain brings, although so difficult is what will keep you grounded and give you the knowledge and the validation that you were once your babies mother.

I may not be obligated to light a candle, it may not mean anything in Jewish Law, but tomorrow I will light a candle, because it will comfort me, it will give meaning to my sons life and it will light up my home with its warmth, and maybe just maybe it will make me smile when I sit and look at it, smile because I know that today, he sits with God next to the Throne and is smiling back.

Lots of love

 

sara

3 weeks on..

So I’m sitting here  rather jealously watching my daughter and her friends splashing merrily in the paddling pool when the urge to write overcame me.

Today for the first time in about 15 years for 90% of the day I have managed to breath, and when I say breath what I mean is this .

My lungs are not filled with tar, nicotine or any of the 2000 chemicals every cigarette has, my breath has not been compromised by the cancer stick that I, only 3 weeks ago honestly believed I could not live without.

There have been many times I have given up, never for more than a week or 10 days  though before, the addiction inside me always won. I would tell myself that I would buy a packet (£10.70 a pack .. a pack a day … you do the maths ) only have one and then throw the packet away, looking back now I realise how  warped the thinking of an addict is, it was never one, because once those receptors in your brain are awakened they don’t go back to sleep, it is a repetitive cycle, the promising yourself that this would be the last one, the swearing to anyone who would listen that just one more , only one more . The ridiculous waste of money of buying a packet smoking one then depositing the rest of the packet in my neighbors letter box as I kid myself that I would never smoke again and he can have the rest.

Allan Carr’s teachings that you are not giving up at all, are so correct, giving up implies loosing something, having something of value taken away, while the word quitting can have positive connotations. When you quit smoking you only gain, as I am experiencing now, you gain breath, your skin becomes clearer, your mood is better and so much more.

The messages Smokers tell themselves, it helps relieve stress, it helps relax you etc are so false, it adds to our stress because as soon as we put one out we stress about when we can have the next one, so leaving that restaurant to light up in the freezing snow may feel like stress relief but only because we have been stressed about when we can smoke !

 

Sure I wake up in the morning and my first thought is still “ I need a smoke “ and there are times my family know to keep out my way because those smoking monsters and giving it one last go, rearing their ugly heads with the strength they have left trying to convince me just one more, but they eventually recede, they know they are loosing the battle.

Smoking addiction is known to be a harder addiction to get over then heroin, which I think is why so many of us believe we can do it, only to return to smoking after.

Having become rather ill a few weeks ago, which was NOT a result of smoking, my outlook on life has changed, this was not a conscious decision, I did not think to deeply about stopping smoking, but the reality of lying in my bed, unable to speak or move my leg seemed to have flicked a switch in my brain, giving me a terrifying glimpse of what can and probably would happen if I continued to smoke .

So my message to anyone out there thinking about quitting, don’t kid yourself that you will have just one more, don’t tell yourself that you will quit in a week or a month or sometime soon, we never know which cigarette will bring on that stroke , heart attack or even worse death.

Do it now.

All my love

sara

 

A Sudden full stop.

So there I was, sitting at my desk, comparing weekend notes with my college, usual chit chat, usual tutting about the filth on the floor, usual conversation about ” oh my isn’t it hot” and ” how long will it last, oh really another week at least, goodness me, and we are stuck here in the office ” kind of conversations when, everything came to a sudden and abrupt full stop.

My arm, which had till then been doing its thing, sitting quietly on my left side awaiting instruction started to ache, and when I say ache I mean, an incredible, all consuming, heavy pain, I began to feel overwhelmingly exhausted, dizzy and sick. Within 10 minutes I was on an ambulance, the lovely paramedic informing me, in a way that only someone who has delivered life changing news ( not happy news!) can that I was having a stroke.

I will never forget that ride to the hospital, the ambulance going so fast I thought I was going to fly out of it, the blue call he sent through to the hospital, meaning that when we arrived there was a team of Dr’s and nurses ready to greet me,  the pure terror I fel is hard to describe.

I have been lucky, this was caught so fast, on Monday I could not move my arm, could hardly speak, and could not move my leg at all, and now miraculously only 3 days on, my arm, although I have some weakness is pretty much doing its thing again, my leg on the other hand not so much, I have managed to do a kind of shuffle, shlep the leg dance, and get to the door of the ward and back, but it feels as though I have just climbed Everest and ran back down again, without stopping for breath, my speech is also getting there, I now sound like I have had only 10 or so teeth taken out instead of a mouthful, when i try to talk for to long it gets worse and every syllable is an effort, and it is my speech that is scaring me the most, as, if you know me personally, you will know I like to talk!! Speaking leaves me exhausted, and frustrated.

Lying in the ward I have had a lot of thinking time, when I picked up my Siddur ( prayer book)  this morning and I said the blessing “Blessed are you … who firms mans footsteps” I realised in all my 41 years I had never stopped to consider what that actually means!! Go ahead and try something now, lift up your leg.. done? how long did that take you? did you have to concentrate on sending messages to your leg, or did it just happen, now imagine I say lift up your leg, and as you go to do it nothing happens, not a twitch, your leg just stays as it is, you are now starting to strain, shouting at your leg to move… but nope, nothing, nada, zilch, it lies there, mockng you, refusing to move. For the first time in my life I appreciate my leg. I appreciate how incredable our bodies are.

When I open my mouth to talk and even though the words are tumbling through my brain, it is an extreme effort to say the word, I am appreciating the ability God has given us to form words and say them, we would live in a very angry world if it took everyone the amount of time it takes me to say a word.

Speech, what an incredible gift, what an amazing way of letting others know our needs and wants. Interestingly enough my husbands name is one of the hardest things I am finding  to pronounce.

I have learnt so much in the past few days.

1. It can happen! we smoke, over-eat, never excercise and say “na it wont happen to me” but it can and it will, and yup I am going to preach, take care of your body, it is so precious.

2, Every word that comes out of your mouth is a gift, use that gift wisely.

3. Think about where your feet are taking you, we are on earth to please God with our actions, but also God wants us to have a pleasurable life, use your legs to take you places and to do things that both you and God will find pleasure with.

4. In the last few months my extended family have seen over and over the kindness of community, I am experiencing that now, with messages, words of support, calls and texts and offers to help coming in to all my family and friends from everywhere, and I  am so touched and blessed to be a part of a wonderful community.

5. Questions, basically all I have to say is “shhhhhh” if you are not asking the question out of pure, unadulterated care, not just because you want to tell your neighbour or local friendly baker just how much you know don’t ask!!

6. Hospital beds …. SUCK!!

Night night, God bless, stay healthy.

Sara

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finish line in the distance…

Its been around 4 years since I met my therapist, living in a tight knit community it was important to me that my therapist have some idea of the life I had led and the intricacies of community life, luckily a friend happened to be a friend of the person who would become my support, my crutch and my advisor for the next approx. 4 years.

She has been the one I have turned to whilst in shock, she has been the person whom I have trusted to hold so much of my pain and hurt.

When choosing a therapist I would advise seeking someone who understands your background and your way of life, although it can cause complications, my therapist for example has family in my neighbourhood, we have friends in common and so on, this can cause issues with boundaries, and can cause the client to become to attached and lines can be crossed. There have been times where I knew she was aware of things happening within my family, for example when a family member went missing and she was receiving messages from the community to keep an eye out for him, or when I am aware of certain things going on in her family, but it can be a great source of comfort and can make the whole therapy journey easier.

Seeing her for so many years on a regular basis, pretty much every week, sometimes every other week,  I have grown to feel very close to her ( In a purely therapeutic way!), that is why what is coming up is so very hard, but so necessary. I think the longest I have gone without seeing her is around 2 months, and it was so very hard.

The aim I feel, of therapy is to get to a point where you can end it, where you can say, the work has been done, I may have times I need to come back, but now I have the tools and skills to do this without my therapist.

It can be, and usually is a very scary thought for anyone who has been in therapy for a while to feel that the journey is nearing its end, you have opened your heart and soul, have bared your deepest thoughts and feelings and trusted this person with things you would not share with anyone else.  The feeling of closeness a person has with their therapist is so complex, it is a one sided relationship in the sense that whilst you may know basic things about your therapist, you will never spend time socially with them, you can never give back emotionally to them and will never be a part of their lives. Yet I am sure, that most therapists, who have been seeing a client for many years will naturally feel a closeness to the client, and I have for so long clung to the hope that this is how my therapist views me, and when the time comes to part, maybe, just maybe she will miss me.

There are signs to look out for that can point you in the direction you need, for example, when a person is not feeling great, whether they have a mental health issue which is affecting them, or living through a stressful time, they may automatically think about their therapist more, may even obsess about the therapist, especially with issues such as  bi polar which often causes obsessive thinking. At such times it is probably best not to be considering ending therapy as the thoughts if not dealt with in the correct way can escalate quickly, but, if on such occasions you are able to live with the thoughts, think about them in a rational, non emotional way and let the thoughts pass, you are probably on the path to reduce or end therapy.

Feeling anger at your therapist is also a good pointer, recently I have felt some anger at her, which is oddly enough a good thing, it means you are able to view your therapist as a human, realise that they also make mistakes and are not some other worldly, angelic figure you may have spent years idolising.

Another sign to look out for is feeling that the world is not coming to an end if you do not see your therapist for a couple of weeks, that you will not be sending him/her message after message and that even though you may think about them, may even send the odd message, the thought is ok, the feeling is not one of desperation, of feeling you will not cope until the next time you see them.

I will not be seeing her this week, and I did not see her last week, the thought is worrying me, and yes I am already storing things up to tell her, but I know that I can do it, the Bi Polar part of me is stable, I have learned and have the tools to deal with any near episodes, and whilst I know that I am not yet ready to completely bid her farewell, its a great feeling knowing that I am slowly, very slowly getting there.

Please do not end therapy if you are not 100% sure you are ready, take it slowly, figure it out together, and know with certainty that you can do this.

“as mad as a hatter”

Those were the words a gentlemen used when describing a person with a mental health issue. To put it in to context, we recently joined a family we know for a meal, the subject turned to work, and on explaining that I work for a mental health charity and describing what we do, the conversation moved on to treatment and recovery, at which point  the gentlemen proclaimed ” who would want to marry someone who is as mad as a hatter”.

Those who know me will know that I do not hold back, if I am upset, angry, happy, surprised, nervous and so on it will pretty obvious, so for me not to answer his statement without literally leaving my chair, climbing across the table, knife in hand, snarling like a rabid dog was pretty impressive. Instead I tried to calmly explain that people ( like myself, except I did not tell him that as he would probably have started crying, terrified what the crazy lady at the table was capable of) who have mental health issues are in fact the same as every other person, that mental health issues, and physical health issues are cared for with medication, lifestyle and therapy, sadly though he could not grasp the concept and I do not believe he will ever change his views.

If I had the inclination or time this is what I would have told him.

People with Bi Polar do not, as a matter of course, drive planes in to mountains.

The chances of a person experiencing either a manic high or low hurting anyone else besides for themselves are nearly zero, we are more likely to self harm.

We live full, interesting and stable lives, just like anyone else.

You do not need to walk on eggshells around us, we will not collapse if you hurt our feelings.

A person with a mental health issue, can go years without a relapse or hospital admission.

Yes we may need to take medication, but hey, who doesn’t for one reason or another.

Because of our mental health issue, we are usually stronger and kinder people as we have seen and heard things a lot of people would not.

When we are unwell, we can appear to have super confidence ( when manic), talk very quickly, have illusions of grandeur, and put ourselves in extreme danger, as we are at our most vulnerable, we may loose sight of reality, this does not mean we are as mad as a hatter, it means we are unwell.

Please do not compare as a girl I was recently with did a person feeling low, or having a bad day to a person who is having a period of full blown depression or Bi Polar low, there is no comparison to make.

Do not say as an off hand remark “your so OCD” or even say it about yourself, you have no idea what it is to actually have OCD.

Its not ok to call people mental, it is the same as calling someone who has lost all their hair due to cancer baldy or something similar.

Realise you, or your family members can all develop a mental health issue, just like they can develop any other kind of illness.

Until people stop being afraid of us, until mental health can become a topic that no one is afraid to talk about, no one is “put of” by a persons mental health history nothing will change.

When someone has a physical illness people rush to assist, with meals, hospital visits, help with the children etc, it should be the same with mental illness, yes, it can be scary visiting a psychiatric ward, but as I know to well, the people there are suffering, afraid, and feel alone.

Finally, we are not mad, we are not crazy, we are you, we are us.

Lots of love

Sara

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING IS IN THE AIR.

Meaning its time to clean clean clean!

So I thought lets get some clever life hacks together to make the joy of cleaning even more joyous.

My aim is to get to 100… so sit back for a minute, let those net curtains that need to be cleaned stay right where they are and enjoy.

  1. Clean your toilet with Coke, it works!
  2. To clean your shower curtain stick it in the washing machine with a cap full of washing powder and a cap full of bleach and put on a very gentle wash.
  3. Clean the bath by using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar
  4. If you really must listen to something on your mobile whilst in the shower, put the phone in to a VERY dry sink…it makes a great amplifier.
  5. clean your showerhead by putting it in to a zip lock bag with distilled vinegar.
  6. To pick up glitter from …everywhere!! Use a lint roller lint
  7. A ball of tinfoil scrunched up tight acts as softener in the drying machine and picks up pieces of lint.
  8. To remove stems from strawberries use a straw.
  9. Wrap a wet paper towel around a bottle, stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes and it will be almost completely iced.
  10. For a refreshing ice drink, after filling up your water bottle half way put it down lengthways in the freezer, when it is frozen fill the rest with water and you will have an iced drink.
  11. To make a perfectly shaped fried egg, cut a large onion slice, ( so it is a round circle, put in to  your hot pan, and crack or pour the egg in to the middle of the onion ring.
  12. If you have lost your purse, put your notes in to a sanitary towel package! No one would think to look there.
  13. To prevent a pot boiling over, lay a wooden spoon across it.
  14. Put cupcake paper cases at the bottom of an ice-lolly so it catches the drips.
  15. For an inexpensive cookbook holder, use a skirt hanger, (hang it on a cupboard and use the clips to hold the pages open)
  16. Put pancake mix in to an empty ketchup bottle for a no mess experience.
  17. Use nail polish to identify keys
  18. If your wood is damaged, rub a walnut over it, the marks will disappear.
  19. If your car has seat warmers, and you have take out, turn on the seat warmer, it will keep it warm until you get home.
  20. To stop getting spam e mails, filter all messages by the word “unsubscribe” its a quicker and easier way to find those annoying messages.
  21. Take a picture of your fridge when it is full, and you have just done your shopping, a quicker and easier way to remember what to buy next time.
  22. For a fantastic I phone speaker, put the phone in to a large glass!
  23. Take out cups ( the plastic ones with the straw and lid) make fantastic paint pots.
  24. If you do not have a net bag to wash those hand wash items or fragile bits, put them in to a sports sock to wash.
  25. To make more space in the microwave, place one dish as usual, stick a mug next to it and place the next dish on top of the mug.
  26. When freezing minced meat, always flatten it out as much as possible before putting in the freezer, it will cut the thawing time by half.
  27. If you are trying to light a hard to reach wick, use a stick of spaghetti and light the wick with that.
  28. If you are low on work space, pull out a draw, place a chopping board on top of the open draw and you have more space.
  29. Here is a yummy one… almost finished that jar of Nutella? Put some ice cream in it, and enjoy!
  30. To easily separate eggs, crack the egg on to a plate, take a (empty !)plastic water bottle, and gently squeeze it over the yolk, release the pressure slowly it should suck up the yolk.
  31. Put old newspaper at the bottom of your dustbin to absorb food juices.
  32. To always find the end of sellotape easily stick an paper clip to the end.
  33. To save space inside your cupboards in the kitchen, mount towel racks on the indie of the opening to put lids on.
  34. Stick a sticky back picture hook on to your bins, when the bag starts moving wrap the end around the hook.
  35. Use unscented floss to cut cakes and other solids perfectly.
  36. To reduce wrinkles in a shirt quickly, turn on the stove and let it steam, hang the shirt over (at a safe distance!) the stove.
  37. If your shirt collar is creased, use hair straighteners.
  38. Apply chap- stick to paper cuts and hey presto they are gone.
  39. The above applies to shaving nicks to.
  40. Extend the life of batteries but putting them in the fridge one day before using.
  41. For a home made air conditioner point your fan at a few frozen water bottles, with about 2-3 Tablespoons of salt in each bottle. Refreeze the bottles at the end of each day.
  42. While playing games on your mobile, if you are fed up of getting ads, put your phone in to Air-plane mode.
  43. For emergency lights, put crayons in to a glass cup or plate and light, they will burn for hours.
  44. To break in or stretch tight shoes put on thick socks, put on the shoes and go over the tight spots with a hair dryer for a few minutes.
  45. Place a cup of water in the microwave with pizza and it will stop it getting hard.
  46. When reheating food in the microwave, always leave a space circle in the middle of the food it will heat up much faster.
  47. Put a paper towel in your bowl of lettuce to keep it fresh all week.
  48. To keep your potatoes from sprouting, put an apple inside on the top of the bag.
  49. Put a cut avocado in an airtight container, with a piece of cut onion to keep it fresh for far longer.
  50. You can use AAA batteries instead of AA if you don’t have any, simple fill the gap on the positive side with a small wad of foil.
  51. If you spill red wine, use white wine to get rid of it.
  52. Use laundry baskets in the boot of the car to keep all those bags and bits in.
  53. If you have no where to put the wooden spoon or other utensil when cooking, put it in the hole at the end of the pots handle.
  54. When travelling to a place where you do not know the language, take pictures of places before you go for an easy way of asking directions, or even simple things like the toilet!
  55. Use paper clips to organise cables.
  56. Never leave your phone charging overnight plugged in to a socket as this can cause a house fire, instead, use a battery bar.
  57. Use a tin opener to open those new packets which are impossible to open.
  58. Roll jumpers in the cupboard instead of folding, making ease of access and no messy wardrobes.
  59. Add dabs of glue to hangers, ( let them dry!) to avoid clothes slipping off them.
  60. When painting put a rubber band around the open tin, then use it to wipe the paint off the brush, to avoid spills and drips.
  61. If you borrow something, take a picture of that person holding it, that way you will always remember who you borrowed it from.
  62. Use a banana hair clip to organise wires.
  63. Use toothpaste to clean dirty head lights in the car.
  64. Cut open empty toilet paper rolls and use them as a cuff for your wrapping paper rolls.
  65. Chew gum to avoid tears when cutting an onion.
  66. Or.. wear goggles!
  67. Use a muffin tin to serve dips at a bbq
  68. Use a clothes peg to hold a nail whilst hammering it in to the wall.
  69. Use the tabs from cans of drink to create another layer of hanger space, simply pop one end over the hanger, and use the lower bit to put in another hanger.
  70. WD-40 lifts ink stains.
  71. Stuff dryer sheets in to smelly shoes overnight to get rid of the smell.
  72. Applying clear nail polish will stop a ladder in tights spreading.
  73. The next time you have a sore throat, try eating marshmellows!!
  74. If you are having trouble lifting any kind of sticky tape etc from a surface, heat it with a hairdryer for a couple of minutes.
  75. If you have smelly breath… eat some Parsley! it neutralises breath!
  76. A frozen, soaked sponge makes a great non drip ice pack.
  77. T shirt wrinkled? throw it in the dryer with a few ice cubes or damp towels for 5 minutes.
  78. Pour made coffee in to a ice cube tray for fantastic ice coffee.
  79. Phone running out of battery? put it on Airplane mode whilst charging, it will charge double as quick.
  80. Clean your keyboard by sliding a piece of tape between the rows.
  81. When shaving, line the sink with newspaper to catch all the hairs.
  82. If buttons on clothing are loose, dab a bit of clear nail polish on the threads around them to make them rock hard.
  83. Apples help with bad breath.
  84. Use duct tape to open stubborn jars, fix a long piece around the lid and then pull on the tape.
  85. Keep hair grips in old tic tac jars.
  86. To put a new key ring on your on your existing ones, use a stapler remover to hold the pieces open.
  87. Prevent tangles necklaces, by threading the chain through a straw.
  88. If you keep loosing one earring, using a button put the pairs together through the button holes.
  89. Use a giant paper clip to help close bracelets on your wrist.
  90. Use an emery board to gently remove scuff marks from suede shoes.
  91. Use old shower curtain rings on a hanger to create a scarf holder.
  92. Wrap fragile items in a sock when storing or moving to prevent any damage.
  93. Use dryer sheets to clean skirting and floors, they help repel dust.
  94. Keep your tulips standing straight by putting their stem in a straw before placing them in the vase.
  95. Use cooking spray to keep door hinges squeak free.
  96. Store plastic bags in empty tissue boxes.
  97. Protect china plates and fine dinnerware from scratches when storing by placing a cheap paper plate between each one.
  98. Add a penny and a bit of sugar to your flowers in a vase to keep your flowers fresher and looking great for longer.
  99. Use empty pill bottles for storing loose change.
  100. KEEP CALM… IT WILL GET DONE, PUT ON MUSIC, HAVE A DANCE WITH THE BROOM, AND ENJOY.

Thank you to ALL the many, many websites I used to create this list.

Print it, hang it, use it.

Love

 

Sara

 

To Much MM?

Purim, in contrast to a lot of the other Chagim is meant to be relatively cheap… by cheap I mean you don’t have the following conversation with your spouse, “Its coming up to Pesach/Rosh Hashana/Sukkot…. its time to a. re-mortgage, b. get a new credit card or c. sell all our non existent silver”.

Sadly though  it has become pretty much the same expense as any other Chag.  Even without buying costumes, costumes which need to get more creative, outstanding, better then anyone else in the community. When I was young, my mother would create from any material brilliant costumes, we all had a theme and we enjoyed wearing them.  Now, my mother obviously knew, unlike most people my age and younger what to do with a needle and thread, darning socks was actually still a thing then! Now though I have heard of people ordering Sari’s from India, Chinese gowns from china, American footballer costumes… yes you have guessed it from America. In fact I am sure that some people hop over to the country in question for a day to ensure their kinderlach get the best costume in town.

Reading a thread about Mishloach Manot ( from now on to be called MM) ideas, I was amazed how creative people can get, coming up with themes that were out of this world, to fit any kind of costume. Cholent themed MM with beans, rocket launcher sweets and heartburn pills was one of my favourites.  As is the old favourite of pop corn in red and white buckets for Where’s Wally costumes ( which we are doing this year…but shhhh don’t tell) Breakfast themes etc. Happily going through the thread, OOO’ing and UHHHH’ing in delight at the ideas, I came across a very judgy, holier than thou post, telling us all how we are a disgrace to be using money to make such a worthless idea as giving MM a big deal, how our brothers and sisters in Israel struggle to make ends meet, how instead of giving MM we should be sending money to our children as a down payment on a flat, ( ok lets get real, even if a person spends an extraordinary amount, lets say £500 on MM… really a down payment??) how we should be giving all the money spent to Tzedokah, and on and on.

My first reaction was one of amusement, my second was bewilderment. the replies to this lady were from anger, to hysteria. Everyone proclaiming that it was their choice how much to spend, that yes they gave the amount and more of the cost of what they had spent on their MM to charity, and so on.

My brother in law’s dream is for everyone to go back to the “good old days” where MM consisted of ( you know what I am going to say before I say it) a paper plate with a carton of juice and a tangerine on it. Thankfully, for his wife and children sake (oh the embarrassment )he does not follow through on his dream MM.

There are many women who create beautiful MM and love doing it, going to stores such as homesense, or thrift stores, their imaginations running wild, the joy their children experience when filling up the amazing jars, ( its got to be a matter of one sweet for the jar one for you) makes this Chag even more special than it already is for our kids.

As a parent Purim can become the worst, most stressful day, thank G-d we are allowed to drink away the stress on this day, I think that the whole idea of Misha Nichas Adar Besimcha, which means the month of Adar should be celebrated with joy, is really just another way of saying ” you will be stressed today… go ahead DRINK!” driving takes on a whole new reality, getting from my home  across the street can take the most part of a day, navigating between the swarms of children thrusting buckets in my face, screaming at me ( even though I am literally a cm away from them) why, that last penny, that last crumpled up charity voucher, should be their’s is something every Jew in every Jewish community will experience on Purim.

Driving down the road, without the engine on, there is no point as I am not getting anywhere at any pace, my daughter screams in delight (or sometimes terror) each time she sees a minion, monkey, bunny, fairy, dancer, police officer, arab, indian, nun, pope, mr men costume, where’s wally, cowboy, cowgirl, fireman, (you get the idea) whilst we sit drumming the wheel, fixed/manic smiles on our faces, while looking at the list, seeing that we still have to get to her best friend of the day the other side of town, and taking yet another swig of that alcohol that YES we are actually allowed to drink that day (passengers only of course!)

My thoughts and sympathies go out to any clueless person who happens to be driving through a Jewish area on Purim, my advice to you is…. DONT, and if you do my prayers are with you friend.

All in all Purim is not the inexpensive, stress free day we remember from our childhood. The issue with overdoing MM is a huge one, no I do not agree with sending MM which cost £100 each, or even £50 or even £20 each, I do not think sending someone a showcase of whisky as picture above is Tzniut, I believe MM can be beautiful, and the education we give to our children should be about giving those who need, those who may not get from anyone else, those who will be happy, even with the tangerine on a paper plate ( though your children may disown you).

If a person wishes to express gratitude to someone and chooses Purim to send a nice gift, go ahead, but the gift should be done with thought of how it comes across to others, is it to show off or have you thought about what that person would feel happy to receive?

We are meant to give Tzedokah on the day of Purim, so maybe we can match what we spend on our MM?

I spoke to a friend in Israel last night who mentioned that each of her children only give one MM each to their friends, I admire and respect the education she is giving her children, and was ashamed to say that after a lot ( I’m talking calling in the mediators and lawyers ) of negotiating with my daughter we have settled on 13 ( but just to make myself feel better that does include to many cousins and neighbours to count ).

As I think about Purim, I realise that for adults the day can be stressful, the forced happiness, the noise etc, but then as I think back to my Purim memories of my fathers students filling up the house, the noise and happiness it reminds me that for children Purim is a day they will always treasure.

So enjoy, have fun …. most of all be safe!

 

 

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