On either side of my driveway crocuses and snowdrops have started to appear. They have forced their way through the decomposing leaves. Bursts of colour against the damp brown matting.I take a rake and gently pull it across the flowerbed, easing my way through the flowers carefully, trying not to knock off the delicate blooms. The flowers I expose are top heavy, their stems are white, translucent, anaemic. Many of them flop forward, unable to support their own weight. I fear my zeal might have shortened their already brief life.I recognise myself here.I have been re-learning how to live in a...

I wrote this a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning.It is pretty raw and I wasn't sure if I would share it.But I have decided to because honesty is more important that appearance. "Last night was bad and for the first time in a long time I remembered, no - I experienced - what it was like to not be able to rely on my brain to act as it should. Again.I had gone to bed calm and well, but woke two hours later sweating, my stomach tied in a painful knot. I lay awake in agony, my hand on...

It is January in the north of England and my garden looks as you would expect; damp, leaf strewn, drained of colour: a mess.There is not much to be seen, but there is work to do.I plan to cut back some shrubs that have needed a hard prune since we moved in four years ago. They are overgrown and block light from the house.As I begin to work, my neighbour walks past on his way back from his allotment. He calls over,“Take it right to the floor, you will only get leaf this year, but the flowers will be back...

I can't remember a time I did not know the lyrics to the theme tune of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Throughout the early '90s the song wormed its way into my ear, remaining in my head long after the show had finished.And, kudos to the song's composers, years later as my children grew up unaware of the origins of this piece of musical genius (heavy on the irony), we have on occasion found ourselves singing it to the kids, mock-rapping in the kitchen, initially thrilling and later totally embarrassing them.Last week my ten year old discovered nearly 150 episodes of Will...

Last week I took the kids to the park with a friend. Two adults, six children and a dog. Pretty ordinary.I arrived a little early. The kids raced ahead of me to the swings and I walked through the damp leaves following them up the path.Rewind thirteen months and I remember making this same journey. It was just before Christmas and we were desperate to find something to do on a grey day, some way to get the kids out of the house, even if just for an hour. We were tired at the end of the long term and...

In so many ways 2016 was a good year for me. Which flies in the face of every single round up of the year I watched on television over Christmas.I would probably go as far as to say it was my favourite year of my life so far.(I know!)I felt I really got into my groove and lived with greater vulnerability and confidence, which for me is a winning combination.I started last year by making the decision to begin to take anti-depressants again. I have written about this extensively here. It was a tricky multi-faceted decision not prompted by any one...

By the time you read this Christmas will be over but I still wanted to share with you the remainder of my Alternative Advent Calendar. Maybe one of the ideas will feel relevant to you in this 'in-between' time, as we start to think about a new year.For me this year Christmas has been good. Lots of happy memories made. When I think about my favourite moments, they are not about presents, or meticulously planned meals or parties, they are the time I spent with those I love most, sharing a laugh, or dancing in the kitchen, or snuggled on the...

Here is the next instalment of the Alternative Advent Calendar I have been writing on Facebook and Instagram through the month of December. I hope you enjoy it. (You will find December 1st - 7th here). December 8th The gift of VulnerabilityAt this time of year the pressure to be HAVING A GOOD TIME ALL THE TIME is great. So often, it can feel easier to wear a mask. To act as though all is well and you are having a great time. Anything other than letting your real emotions be seen.If you are feeling low or depressed or anxious it can...

On the 1st December I started to write an Alternative Advent Calendar. I have been posting these 'gifts' daily on Facebook and Instagram.Christmas is busy, and expectations are high. It can become stressful and overwhelming very quickly. My Advent Calendar is an antidote to this. Each day I have been writing short thoughts about ways to manage this season, ideas about how to stay sane, maintain mental health and hopefully enjoy the festive period.I am writing to remind myself. To talk truth to myself.And to remind you. To talk truth to you.Here are the first seven daysDec 1st The Gift of...

With regard to my faith I have spent a lot time writing about what isn't.Exploding lies.Debunking myths.That sort of thing.I write about this because it is what I have spent a lot of my time doing in my real life. Unravelling thoughts about my beliefs, chucking out systems that have become constraining.I struggled under the weight of some repressive ideas for a long time.No one forced these mindsets on me. In the way that most things happen it was a mix of my personality, my experiences, my choice, my upbringing, and my pride that combined to intoxicate me with the notion...