Welcome to a new world …

Good morning Blogger Universe!

Anyone who remembers my previous blogging existence may recall it was characterised by periods of verbal diarrhoea interspersed with eerie silences; outpourings of emotionally charged downloading sitting cheek by jowl with confused ponderings on the slightly bizarre nature of blogging itself.

Happily, however, I am amused to note as I finally log on to reacquaint myself with my blog that the last piece I wrote nearly a year ago was a review of my Pedalling Solo journey at that date.

Handy really.

So, if you are someone who likes to know the backstory … well you might want to start here.

For those of you more interested in what I might have to say now or what has happened since – well, er, that too has perhaps been the even bigger challenge (or rationalisation for procrastination anyway). Where do you start after such a silence? Should I write a long turgid/thrilling narrative, heroically fighting to keep amused the passing reader through the wandering by-ways of lives in flux? Do I just not even attempt to update, rather plunge in cold turkey reporting from the pedalling scene today? Or should I seek a third way (always good to have a reviled political reference in an otherwise anodyne day-to-day blog I find), sharing the bare bones then adding meat later? I guess it depends on who I think you dear readers may be – and whether I am writing for you, myself or some mysterious other. Too much analysis as always – the bane of my existence and now the bane of yours too dear reader, whoever you are.

So – life ring clutched – I shall rescue myself from drowning entirely by indeed pursuing a third way with as much brevity as I can.  Here we go; 10 and a half months in a (yes, long I know, but be kind …) sentence…:

Some may say that it is now that I truly pedal solo and that too is true; yet day to day we are now two who pedal in tandem: travelling together through sun and rain, clouds and storms, we push on with faith when the storm clouds hit, and welcome with joy the gentle breezes and sparkle as the sunshine invariably reappears; journeying via parks, beaches, and picnics on roads and lanes often shared with friends and family we always come back to the pleasures of lego, colouring, cuddles and love, to our new resting place, our home for two.

And so I welcome you all to the world of the pedalling duo: my boy and me.

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Looking back: my adoption journey so far through the Pedalling Solo lens

I’ve been officially on my adoption journey for over a year now – not counting the years of thinking about it before I officially picked up the phone for the first time – and I’ve been blogging about it on and off since January.

It has just struck me: that’s quite a long time. So what’s the last year or so been like, viewed through my Pedalling Solo lens?

Firstly, an overview:

I have had some really great experiences, and made some amazing new friends. I have also had some times when I have had to dig deep. I have learned much, read more (and forgotten half of it already of course), and accumulated rather an extensive library to turn to in the future – if I ever have time to read in my future world. I know there are fundamentals in me that have not changed at all – and other things about me that have developed hugely. (For example, while I had come across the concept of attachment theory before I didn’t really know much about it, and definitely didn’t have the no doubt tedious capacity to link it into some otherwise normal conversation on what seems to be a daily basis!) I have had experiences that left my mind boggled (attending the Exchange Day trade fair marketplace springs to mind), and experiences that have moved me such that I have subtly had to wipe away tears (viewing one of the DVDs on our preparation training being a notable occasion).

It is rare, I suspect, that anyone’s adoption journey feels entirely smooth. I know compared to many I have so far been relatively lucky, yet my travel through this adoption territory has still been erratic, going in fits and starts with times when I have seemed to shoot ahead, and times when the graffiti on that week or month’s stop has begun to seem rather monotonous.

Perhaps in sympathy with this, I have also been an inconsistent blogger – inspired one month then quiet the next, constantly struggling between the desire to tell a story and share anecdotes, the need to be considered and thoughtful, and my aim to retain my anonymity as much as possible in case I want to carry on blogging in the future. Despite this, I believe overall I have portrayed my adoption journey fairly.

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Testing out the hidden joys of the countryside

It’s been an interesting experience, committing to daily blogging.

Along the way I have faced a number of barriers: time, procrastination, energy, tiredness… Of course these interlink with each other too, especially at about this time of the evening , around 11pm, when really all you want to do is go to bed but you have this one last “duty” hanging over you.

For someone who is as experienced in the ways of insomnia as I am, I’m not so sure actively focusing on stimulating the creative juices – however limited they may be – just as your body is telling you you should be in bed and preferably sleeping is the wisest option available either.

The creative juices need some kind of source to flow from too – and sometimes my spring of ideas has seemed to run very dry. Yes, I know I need an ideas board, or a little notepad I carry around with me, or postits by my bed for noting 3am musings. (Though if the truth be told I’m a rubbish insomniac, far more likely to lie still and follow my thoughts regardless of the twisted path they lead me down, or alternatively to toss and turn seeking cool sheet corners, than I am to get up and make tea and read a chapter of an improving (ie boring and therefore sleep-inducing) tome. Yes I do know about the get up and do something and don’t just lie there insomnia rules: I’m also it seems too lazy to implement them!)

Anyway, back to blogging: in summary the daily blogging has at times been a struggle for all sorts of reasons. I’m pretty pleased though that nonetheless I’ve done it anyway – albeit occasionally by availing myself of the last bus home analogy that after midnight but before sleep comes is still “today”.

Now though, with one day to go, I am struggling.

I have eked out some time. I have faffed and pondered. I have hit – just – upon an idea. I have grappled with the frustrations of drafting on my phone.

Yet still I know I am challenged. For I find myself with but the occasional passing glimpse of phone reception and even more scarce access to 3G.

Thus shall I keep this short. No doubt subsequent events shall tell the tale for me: do I or do I not finally fall at almost the last hurdle? Is this post going to fly while today is still today?

It is time for me to stop typing, to start waving my phone around inanely, to run the gauntlet of hope and madness that connecting with the wider universe still is when tucked away in the deepest and darkest corners of the English countryside.

Maybe we will meet on the other side while it is still today…

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I am so very lucky.

Earlier this week an acquaintance who I know locally was at the same meeting as me. A little group of us were stacking chairs and collecting bags and coats afterwards, and a couple asked me – as people are prone to doing at the moment – how my adoption stuff is going.

Right from the beginning I have been pretty open with close family and friends about my hopes. Indeed it was only some time down the line that I realised others sometimes choose to keep it very secret – it hadn’t occurred to me once I’d started talking to an agency and filling in forms that I wouldn’t tell people if I’m honest!

And I have been so lucky. So lucky. I must choose my family and friends very well indeed is all I can say! They have been amazing throughout – supportive, excited, positive, offering help, listening, tolerant of my increasingly narrow range of conversational topics (attachment, the impact of neglect on brain development, national children in care policy developments, claiming, and the likelihood of high routine dependency among adoptive children are obviously a very broad range of subjects after all, what do they have to complain about?!).

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“Every little thing is gonna be alright …”

The last few days have been challenging. I’ve kept on smiling, ridden the roller coaster, going with the flow. There has been some really good stuff going on – but mixed in with some pretty low moments too.

Then this evening I finally sent an email I’ve been sitting on for a little while, exchanged messages with a couple of friends, talked to another friend, and went off to my choir (arriving even later than usual, but what can you do?!).

Because I’m really lucky with my friends, as I arrived at choir I picked up another message checking in with me and asking how I was. Having replied I was fine the next text simply said …

And everything’s gonna be alright?

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make the difference.

This made me smile. A lot. As I drove home you’ll probably be able to guess what I could hear going round and round in my brain …

Because you know what?

Sometimes, you realise Bob Marley was spot on,

Singin’: “Don’t worry about a thing,
‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”

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“Before I Arrive”

I’m a bit of a bookworm. I’ve always been delighted with any excuse at all to buy books!

As a result as I’ve gone through the many months of my adoption journey I’ve slowly accumulated quite a few piles of books all around the place: books on attachment, personal histories, adopter biographies, parenting guides – you name it, I’ve been adding it to my library!

Most of these are of course not particularly amenable to easy sharing with friends and family. But one of my favourites, written by one if the many lovely people I’m proud to have “met” via Twitter, is a very easy read, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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Yes, it looks a quick, easy read. Let’s be honest it looks like a children’s book! And it’s written like a children’s book too – each page shares a simple thought, written in very easy and direct language, and articulated from a child’s point of view.

The clue is in the title: it’s a book you can give to friends and family before the child you are matched with arrives in your existing / their new home.

“Before I Arrive” merits reading and re-reading. It is full of insight, and in a very, friendly, direct way may well manage to challenge quite a few expectations your family and friends may not even have realised they had!

So it’s interesting, effective, will in my experience make everyone smile … And perhaps best of all it achieves its purpose so succinctly it takes no more than 5 minutes to flick through the whole book, so you can pass it around while you make coffee or disappear to change a nappy!

They say the best things sometimes come in small packages. Well this is a small package and as I’ve already said I’d recommend it to any prospective adopter for reading themselves and for passing on to everyone around them!

(Details: Before I Arrive, by Helen Townsend, published by Adoption UK)

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Simple, quick and really rather tasty!

Sometimes life is simpler than we think it’s going to be, and surprisingly good.

I circulate the kitchen several times. I feel lazy; uninspired. Open fridge, close fridge, open cupboard, close cupboard, look in bread bin, open second cupboard, close second cupboard, try fridge again, rummage through every drawer in the freezer, revisit bread bin … I suspect many of us have been there.

I become despondent. Am I going to have to cook properly? Worse, still, will I have to (whisper it) go shopping?

But lo, what do I spy?

There on the table: two or three tomatoes, the last left from a bag bought quite a few days ago now. Hmmm – they look ok actually. And smell quite good even.

I have olive oil, I know that.

A light goes on in my head. And then a light literally goes on as I retrace my steps and open the fridge door with purpose – yes that IS a packet of mozzarella! I thought so! It’s a day over its best before date? Definitely needs eating up then.

Back through the kitchen and into the next room: ha, yes, the basil plant that looked on its last legs but I watered anyway yesterday – it’s still alive! And those are a handful of decent leaves as well!

Balsamic vinegar, tick. Himalayan salt and Rainbow pepper (both courtesy of bargain shopping by my mother from the local pound shop!), tick.

And the final piece of my jigsaw: half a tiger bread french stick from yesterday’s lunch.

Mmmmm.

I know it wouldn’t be for everyone by any means. But for me it was the perfect meal: simple, quick and really rather tasty too!

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