Thursday, 25 October 2012

Catching up.

Today is a good day. I really am in a good mood tonight. I can't put my finger on one thing that's made a difference but there's a few things which has generally left me feeling in a lighter, brighter mood and generally happy.

Some small wins this week though have seen me pulling together some Christmas plans. I still have a way to go but I feel I am on the right track. I've managed to get some things done too that I wanted to do on a personal level. There's a few friends having particularly tough times right now so I wanted to send them a note to let them know they are in my thoughts.

In addition to that I have sent some gifts to friends who have had babies this year. One couple had their child on March 13th, the day I met Jonathan so you can see how far behind I have been.

I am pleased to have caught up though and to have got them sent. There's a few other things I need to catch up on but they will come soon. I'm learning to not beat myself up about falling behind though and just to crack on and make best use of the time I have.

There have been several reasons why I have fallen behind. I'm usually quite organised so its fairly unusual for me. I think most people will assume that Jon is to blame. I'd argue not. In fact I'd argue that he's helped me get to this point quicker by helping me find happiness which had escaped me.

The hard truth is that I have struggled a lot this year. I'd become lethargic and disengaged. Things I previously enjoyed no longer gave me pleasure and my motivation was almost non existent. I needed help and fortunately was able to access it. I've learned that the root of many of these problems were underlying depression following on from Stephen's passing. This isn't about blame but more about understanding why I had started to feel and think the way I did.

I didn't want to turn to family, they have enough to deal with and to be honest they have had to deal with Stephen's loss too. Friends also have had their own issues and loss to deal with and it seems some have misunderstood what's really happening and have become distant. I suppose in many respects its my own fault, I've put up a front or worn a mask which says I am happy and coping and I've not wanted to talk to those close to me about how I've felt, I've opted instead to take professional help.

I'm on the other side of that now though. I feel I have a better understanding of myself. Of why and how I have changed and how my life experience has changed me.

I am pleased and proud that Jonathan has been at my side on this journey of discovery. I really feel he met me whilst I was at my most unattractive. I was quite negative, bitter, and generally not always a happy or pleasant person to be with. Some months on I now feel much happier, brighter and more positive. I see a future and am generally enjoying life and sharing the life I have with someone special. I feel I am finding the old Mark again and feel more positive about how I can go on to help others now.

I've felt flattered this week as a friend called on me for support. Flattered that they feel I can help and pleased that I was able to. As I look around myself now and the plans I have for my future I feel ready to take on the challenges ahead. There's a few things which are likely to change in my life over the coming months and the thought of these fills me with enthusiasm. It's exciting as there are a lot of opportunities and a lot of learning for me to do. Yes, there is a lot of work too but that's fine, I'm not afraid of hard work.

On reading that last paragraph again I am conscious that those changes are going to be both on a personal and professional level so, 2013 is going to be a huge year of change for me, no, not for me but for us, as those changes in my life will affect Jonathan too and again, I am pleased that he will be at my side as I will be at his through whatever lies ahead for him.

On a closing note I am looking forward to the weekend. I have no idea what is in store for me this weekend but I'm going to enjoy spending time with a very dear and special friend who happens to also be the person I am proud to call my partner. I hope that whatever you're doing that you have a great weekend too.

Until next time take care xxx

M x

Sent from my iPad

Monday, 22 October 2012

Sporadic blogging

Sporadic blogging, that's what I do, no rhyme or reason and not as regular as I'd like but something is better than nothing surely.

It's been a busy few days recently but tonight I can look forward to a night home alone.  I'm not sure what I'll do tonight but I will busy myself with something no doubt.  The past few days I have been busy stitching and crafting, making a few gifts for various people for a number of reasons.  I'm enjoying doing them but as November is looming I am feeling the pressure a little now.  I hope I can get everything done that I want to in the time I have left.  I suppose I ought to write a list but that will take me too long to do.  Sometimes I am envious of those people who just saunter along leaving everything until the last minute.  Do they have the right idea or do I have the best idea with my organised and thoughtful "process"?

I'd like to be a last minute sort of person but I hate the stress that causes, especially when you get to the point where it's a case of, "that'll have to do…"  where's the thought in a gift like that?  Where is the pleasure in seeing someone genuinely flattered or surprised that you got them a gift that is so right for them.  Jon's face when he saw his birthday presents was a joy to behold, he seemed genuinely surprised I'd listened to things he'd said, had remembered what he had said and also took time and effort to get it right.  I think it was right anyway but, I'm sort of scuppered for Christmas now, all my good ideas have gone but I'll keep thinking and looking.  Of course buying what you need early doesn't mean it will always be right, some people just take the "that'll do" approach regardless of timescales.

I'm hoping by planning ahead as I am doing that everyone will have something that is "just right", as I've said before I have bought a few things.  Last year I made some cushions for friends, they seemed to be welcome gifts.  I have loads of cushions on my sofa, my chair and bed etc and quite a number in the cupboard as there simply isn't enough room for all those I have.  Already though I have bought two cushions for a friend instead of making them, they were quite expensive but that is reflective of the fact that they are "designer" and there is a lot of work in them as they are very detailed.  I am sure they will be appreciated though.

Well, I started writing this earlier and have just come back to it.  It's late, after 11pm and my evening has been spent stitching, writing to a few friends and also trying to sort out domain names etc. that technology stuff is frustrating and stressful for me as I don't really understand it, i suppose i could but i don't like that stuff, Steve used to do it all.  It's still not sorted.  I will try again tomorrow when I am not so stressed and tired and see if I can do it.  I managed to fix it last year after a few days so I am sure I can do it if I can muster the patience.

I am too tired now to write more, reading this back it seems unfinished and, to be fair, it is unfinished but right now I am not in the right frame of mind to finish it.

M x

Monday, 15 October 2012

My Second Anniversary as a Widower

I've avoided blogging properly for a short while, both reading and writing I suppose you could say I've needed some time out from reflective introspection.  I purposely didn't write yesterday as it could have ended up an emotional one and I wasn't sure I was ready for that.  A few weeks ago I was having a tough time of it all,  that's an under statement really,  I suppose it is down to the transition between one relationship and another or at least transitions through phases in relationships if that makes sense. 

The first anniversary of Steve's passing and then reaching a few months later the six month anniversary of meeting Jonathan, (to save you the maths I met Jonathan 9 months after I lost Steve).  Both are significant milestones.  The one because it sort of cements the reality that Stephen isn't coming back and the other because it cements that my feelings for Jonathan are a lot more than a fling or passing fancy or pure lust, I actually feel like he is going to be here for a long time, hopefully a very long time.

As yesterday was the 6th anniversary of my marriage, (or civil partnership to give it it's correct term), to Stephen and it was the second anniversary without him, (he died on June 15th our anniversary is October 14th).  Yesterday's milestone was easier to deal with than last year.  Perhaps because it's the second anniversary I've spent as a widower or perhaps because I had Jonathan with me?  I'm not entirely sure but I suspect it has less to do with Jonathan and more to do with it being another anniversary without Steve. 

I received cards to remind me I was being thought of and phone and online messages of support too which were all welcome and appreciated.  I bought some flowers for myself, some white lilies.  They are my favourite flower and Steve liked them very much too.  I just wanted to acknowledge that it was a day full of memories, many many happy memories though not remorseful melancholic memories but memories which brought smiles of a beautiful day, glorious weather, non stop champagne and sharing it with family and friends.  They were all memories which made me smile.

I was also thoughtful as I looked toward the future.  I thought about how it felt and how I felt being 'married' and wondered whether I'd end up married again?  "Much Married Mark" pondering whether it will be third time lucky?  Maybe, who knows?  That's not a decision I can make on my own The feelings I have for Jonathan are as strong as those I had for Steve, I can't say 'have' as the love I have for Stephen has changed.  It is no less but it cant be the same because the relationship is not the same.  It's almost like that love for Stephen has peaked and that's where it's 'parked'  My feelings for Jon are as strong but the difference is he is physically here to reinforce and reciprocate that love too. 

I could and would never compare Jon to Steve, it simply wouldn't be fair and they are very different people in very many ways but, unfortunately (or fortunately) I have had a lot of life experience.  I've been in a relationship where I thought I loved the other person but after experiencing real love I know now, on reflection, that those feelings were feelings other than love.  I thought I was happy and I probably was in my own way but, Stephen taught me what it's really like to be happy.  Because of that experience I now recognise the feelings I have and I'm proud to say that Jonathan makes me as happy as I've ever been before.

I'm proud to refer to Jonathan as my partner and that is how I see him, an equal, my best friend and a jolly nice chap too.  I'm proud of the way he has accepted me and the fact that Stephen will always be a part of my life and, as a result, part of his life too.  He understands me and accepts me and I hope he feels I accept him and at least try to understand him too.  There is so much more I could write but I think you get the picture.

Reading this back through I feel I was right not to blog yesterday, my thoughts seem clearer today and are not as emotionally charged as they may have been yesterday. I will get back in to blogging but it may take some time so just bear with me. In the meantime though if you'd like to keep up to date with me then follow me on twitter at @adifferentmark Jonathan is on twitter too @BellyflopTV he has his own Video production company as well as working for "proper telly" so if you're interested in his work you can visit or his youtube channel which has some more examples of his work at or even "Like" his Facebook page at:!/pages/Bellyfloptv/116071861762514

On a closing note I thought I'd share with you some pictures from Steve's and My wedding back in 2006.  I found them interesting to look at as there are quite a few people who were in our lives then that are not in my life now.  It's a shame but people change and friendships break down there are about 8-10 people in those pictures I no longer have any connection with and two have passed on, whoever would have guessed that one of the grooms would be one of those that would no longer be with us just 6 years later?  Enjoy the pictures though.

xXx M xXx

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Feeling thoughtful...

I'm feeling thoughtful tonight, loads of stuff on my mind and missing some people whilst nursing disappointment in others. I came across this in my drafts and its never felt more appropriate to post it than now. You may have seen it before and I have no idea who the author is but it encapsulates how I feel tonight.

Goodnight friends xxxx

Life is too short,
grudges are a waste of perfect happiness
Laugh when you can.
apologise when you should
and let go of what you can't change.
Love deeply and forgive quickly,
take chances, give everything,
And have no regrets
Life is too short to be unhappy
you have to take the good with the bad
smile when you're sad.
Love what you got
and always remember what you had
always forgive but never forget
Learn from your mistakes
but never regret
People change and things go wrong
but always remember,
Life goes on!!!

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

A Precious Gift

I'm back again with a new blog.  What's gone on since I wrote last, hmm, loads but, from memory it's all good stuff.

I've been extremely busy with work lately, I've spent some time working from home on an important project but have also been busy at home.

I'm busy at home making, baking and crafting all of which started off as an attempt to save some money but, I guess it's no surprise that it's ended up being a costly exercise.

With just 83 days to Christmas now the festive season is looming fast.  In previous years I've always been pretty organised but I've still been able to be a little lavish and generous with my gifts.  This years simply can't afford to be.  Being a Widower is no fun and just because you're a Widower you don't get discounts or rebates on those commitments you may have taken on as half of a couple.  They are the same but your means is considerably more constrained.  This has prompted me to do something I've been wanting and meaning to do for many years.

Before Stephen passed away he was keen to make presents for people as he felt that they were more personal and mean a lot more to the recipient when they know you've made a special effort for them.  We did make a few things together before he passed away and those people received those gifts but we also had a tradition of making our own Christmas cards, at least for the past few years but this year I'm making a concerted effort.

I started a few weeks ago when I decided to make some chutney's.  the recipe said now is the right time to make it and that it tastes lovely with cold meats and cheese at Christmas.  Roast Apple & Garlic Chutney, it's delicious.  I've not had a jar for myself but just the bit left over when the jars were full.  It's not been a cheap gift to make though, I calculated some of the jars would have cost me at least £5 in ingredients!  Even taking off the £1 or so the jar cost there's not many people who would appreciate or pay that much for a jar of chutney.  

With this in mind has it been a good gift to make?  Will it be appreciated?  I am sure some of my friends absolutely would not appreciate the work or cost involved in making the gift but, I suppose the idea will be that I only choose to give them to those who may appreciate them.  That being said if friends read this and don't receive chutney then it may not be because I don't think you'll appreciate it but because I've made relatively few jars compared to the number of friends I have so some people may be disappointed.

In addition to this I have also been stitching and sewing, that's something I learned from my Mum many years ago and is something I continue to practice and learn.  I have loads of ideas as to what I can make but unfortunately I don't have time to execute them all.  The cost of the items I sew or make may not be very high, I think the lowest priced item so far has cost me just £3 in materials but in time has probably cost me an hour.  That, for me, is where the cost lies.  Time is the most precious thing I have and the most precious thing I can give, whether that be in person or in making and crafting something for someone, my time is valuable to me and I am selective on whom and how I spend it, I'll come back to time later though.

In addition to sewing and cooking I've been making jewellery.  Not fine jewellery but fashion jewellery.  There's already a few friends who have pieces of my jewellery but again, the cost of the item may not be huge but the time it takes to make is probably a higher cost.  I'm also spending time customising things too, taking a basic item and turning it into something more interesting or beautiful with a sprinkle of my artistic flair.  Knitting is something I've toyed with but I find it a slow process and not one of my greatest skills so I'm not committing to that craft just yet.

All of the things I've mentioned take time.  Whilst the cost per item may be low the cost of the tools or the cost of acquiring the skill is often high.  As I mentioned earlier, the most precious thing I have and that I can give, in fact that anyone can give, is time.  I think too many people lose sight of this too easily and focus on material things or adopt a "what's in it for me?" attitude.  I believed this to be true before I lost Stephen but losing him has reinforced this belief.

I've been saddened lately by a few things, by things I mean friends, circumstances and attitudes.  I've learned of some friends experiencing difficulties and have tried to be there and be supportive.  They are a lovely people and I really feel and appreciate the difficult times they are experiencing.  On the other hand I'm aware of a difficult situation where someone has turned their back on friends.  It seems many years of friendship can be discarded by some when they no longer have a need for that friend or when the friend becomes un-cool.  This has made me look at my friends and the time I spend, no not spend, but invest in them.

As I scrolled through my contacts on my phone and looked at the names of friends and associates as they rolled past I found myself taking a moment to think of each of them in turn.  There's acquaintances in there, friends, family and just a few people who make me wonder why I have their number.  Maybe it's me.  I have been told I am too analytical and perhaps I am but as I look back over the last 12 to 18 months I can see how I have changed and how my circle of friends has changed.

There were some I've disassociated with because they made me unhappy and some who have been much better friends to me than I ever imagined they would.    I also have friends in there who I have not spoken to for many months.  This doesn't make them less of a friend it's just that I have a different relationship with them.  If I look at the time I have invested though I can see there are some that I have invested a lot of time in, high maintenance friends with, to put it bluntly, little or no return. 

There are many others though whom I have invested just a little time in and the rewards they provide are substantially greater.  By that I mean the feelings that their names conjure up in my mind are more pleasant, they've not been demanding of my time or difficult to connect with but they have been there and will continue to be there.  I have never been one to categorise my friends, never would and am not doing so now I am just stating a fact though which is that some people understand and appreciate your time and effort and others do not.

I'll go back to my original point about Christmas.  This year I won't have lots of money to spend and I don't have a lot of time to spend but I can find time and am making time to invest in showing my nearest and dearest how much they mean to me.  If you don't get a home made gift from me it doesn't mean I don't love you it just means I ran out of time to be creative but hopefully I'll be able to make it up to you by giving you my most precious of gifts, it is of course.... Time.

I hope  you enjoyed reading, and please feel free to share this gift of time.

Xx Mark xX

Sent from my iPad