Hello everyone! I was planning just to write a short post to say a massive thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Annual Bloggers’ Bash awards – if you haven’t heard (maybe your wifi has been on the blink?!) I was so delighted to win the Best Pal award yesterday for the third year running. I should really say “third and final” – the rules say that winners must step aside after three, to be sure that other blogs and bloggers can have their moment in the spotlight, and that feels right to me. There are so many outstanding bloggers out there – many of them some of my very best friends – and I’ll enjoy sharing their success in future years. And I really must congratulate again all this year’s winners, runners up and nominees – you’ll find the full list here.
But then I realised that I haven’t really stepped out from behind my Being Anne persona for quite a while, and I thought this might be a good opportunity to do so. (Make yourself a cuppa – this is a long one…!)
All about me – and mum
Let me tell you more about my life at the moment. Many of you have been here with me through the last couple of years’ ups and downs – the sudden death of my brother, the loss of my Dad, moving my mum to live closer, her illness and our enforced stay in Madeira, and her subsequent vascular dementia diagnosis. Thank you so very much for all your support through all of that – I appreciate it more than you can ever know.
After all that, life settled into a fairly comfortable holding pattern. Mum (now aged 92), much of the time, is fine, and still living on her own in her new flat. Cooking for herself is getting more difficult (I write post-its on M&S meals as she can’t understand the instructions, and it’s often easier if I cook for her at my house): changing channels on the TV is becoming a bit of a challenge too. As well as some social events at her sheltered housing complex, Wetherby does have a wonderful dementia support group: they organise fish and chip lunches, quizzes, singing afternoons, chairobics sessions and professional entertainers like club singers and magicians, and Mum really enjoys all of that. I deliver her, pick her up, and make sure her TV is sorted for the evening ahead (with notes saying “press 2 at 6pm” so she doesn’t miss Eggheads…).
There are good days, which can be a total gift, but there are sometimes really bad days – on the bad days, Mum really can’t function much at all. My focus is on building memories, while Mum can still retain a little (if I’m honest, at times very little). We’ve recently had a break in the Lakes with much driving round, lunches out and afternoon teas – if you ask Mum, she’ll tell you we were in Scotland and it rained a lot, but I do know she thoroughly enjoyed every day. In June we’re off for a week in Swansea and the Gower. That’s where Mum was born and brought up, and she hasn’t been back in the last 40+ years – I’m hoping it might trigger some more good memories.
The thing that breaks my heart is that Mum has little concept of time, and tells me how lonely she is. Carers visit three mornings a week, there’s a lovely lounge where she can mix with others, and I do everything I can – I see her every day, we go on trips and outings, to the theatre/cinema, and for afternoon teas and lunches (my waistline is really suffering!), and she loves spending afternoons at my house when I cook for her and we watch old movies. I am starting to wonder though if she might soon be ready for an environment with a little more care and attention than I can give. But for now, we’re coping. Just about.
Many of you will know too how much I like to travel, the more exotic the destination the better – at the moment, that’s sadly impossible. I do sometimes have days out – launches, events, meeting up with friends – but it distresses Mum when I’m not around, so I do keep outings on my own to the minimum. I’m now looking at respite care to give me a bit of a break, maybe week in the sun – if I’m honest, my tank is getting a little empty.
Books and blogging
The books and the blogging really did turn into my lifeline. When I’d had a difficult day, when mum had driven me to distraction, it was always a real comfort to format an extract, to address a review, to put together some interview questions, to frame a guest post – or sometimes, just to lose myself in the reading. But recently – and I know it’s because of all the other pressures – blogging has become a little bit less of a pleasure, with not enough time to enjoy the wonderful books that are the reason I started doing it in the first place.
I always said I’d stop blogging if I lost the enjoyment, but I’d miss it far too much – instead, I’m going to take a proper break. For July, August, and September I’m going to step off the treadmill for a while – just take some time to smell the roses, and read books I’ve chosen for myself. I’ll still publish reviews on Being Anne – I can no more stop sharing my love of books than I could stop breathing – but I’ll do so as and when I want to. Maybe once a week, maybe more often… but maybe less often sometimes too.
There have been quite a few reading and reviewing promises I’ve made recently that I just haven’t been able to fulfil – that saddens me, and I’d like to apologise to those authors that I’ve let down. There are some books among that number that I’d still really like to catch up on, and are likely to be among my “free choices” over the summer. But should I fail, please forgive me. Any reviews and tours I’ve promised over those summer months – just a small handful – will, of course, be delivered.
It would be wrong of me to finish without mentioning Twitter, and the magnificent support everyone gives me there. I always try to share as many posts by others as I can – and I’m constantly overwhelmed by how many people share mine. You do know how grateful I am, don’t you? I’d really like to say it more often – and the authors I feature often do it for me (thank you!) – but I find it just impossible to keep up, and I’m so sorry. I do plan to be on social media a little less over the summer – but no cold turkey, I’ll still be around, I’d miss you all too much.
Goodness, that was rather longer than I intended – but I just wanted to let you know what was happening. I know too that many of us have lives that aren’t 100% visible to others – and I know so many of you are coping with a great deal more than I am. I send you all my love…