Sunday, 15 June 2014

Summer Days...drifting away...

Ah...Summer time seem to be here at last. Lovely warm evenings and a giggling two year old delighting in a paddling pool and BBQ for the first time. So very centering.

My life at the moment consists of certain stresses and at the same time excitements! My partner has decided to not pursue his final year at University, I can totally understand his logic. He should now have  Foundation Degree and that's a good thing! So, he's decided to set up in self-employment instead. We've no idea how this will go, we have no plan just hope and a lot of skill (well, he has the skill).

I've been researching smallholdings in West Wales and there are some truly idyllic places for sale, the stuff that dreams are made of. All fairy wings and dandelion clocks and late evening wine. I can't wait to see what happens next.

With all of that in mind, we're got approximately 12 months with little income, hence the stress. I truly believe that people should follow their dreams, but sometimes it's hard not to want to just take full time employment and hide.

My next post I will share some my partner's work, hopefully you're enjoy, but for now I'll leave you with the beauty of youth and hot days.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Crazy ideas!

So, what happens if one day you start to see things that aren’t there? It’s subtle at first, maybe it’s a cat in the garden, or a figure in the lane, someone in your garden? You don’t question it because it’s possible, it’s plausible. You don’t go to the doctors, you store it away and continue. It’s not until a few months later when your hand is on fire (although later you realise that it’s not) that you begin to question your reality.

What if, eventually, even after medication has been taken and lots of talking that when you go to work you’re followed by cats and unknown people or even a malevolent force that talks to you all day so that you can’t hear what people are saying to you? The stress leads to breakdowns and panic attacks so you stop going out, stop going to work, it’s at this point you’d hope support from the state might give you some relief whilst you hopefully recover. 

The process to getting Employment Support Allowance isn’t pleasant. I speak from experience. The forms ask questions regarding your ability to walk for certain distances, or your ability to feed yourself. It’s meant that many people suffering from psychosis have been refused ESA and placed in the fit for work bracket when they are clearly not able to consistently attend. As a couple, my partner and I were lucky enough to have another choice, returning to study and with the support of the local college my partner is now two years in to a three year course, and it’s taken considerable understanding on their part for it to succeed. After three attempts at different medication my partner is at last able to leave the house on his own, not every day I might add, but he’s rarely followed by anything anymore. 

Having said all of that, we’re both of the opinion that having a “normal” job might not be something that he could consistently do. Some days are worse than others, much like someone suffering from severe asthma, epilepsy, migraines or chronic fatigue, there’s an inconsistency that most businesses would not be able to sustain. If you couple this with the pressure of working in an environment where what you suffer from has such a big stigma that’s you’d probably never reveal your illness then finding another way to earn seems like a good answer. My partner’s is lucky that he is an artist which leads itself to being self-employed, but I’m sure that other people that have suffered similar issues to my partner have various skills that could be used. 

One of the biggest fears my partner has is that he won’t be able to earn money at all, it’s not something he wants, but we both realise that if he enters the actual job market then it will bring pressures and probably be untenable at points. The idea of starting his own business and being able to work when he is well but not taking on more than he can chew seems to be a good option for both his self-esteem and for society too. We’ve very lucky to be able to consider this option, we have lots of support, I’ll be able to support us through the initial set up of the business. If I couldn’t then I would think we’d have to return to attempting to get ESA. But so far I have seen no support from the state for what he wants to achieve. Or I should say, we haven’t been directed to any support, even when we’ve requested this information. It’s possible that we’re not asking the right people? I would suspect that many people do not even consider this option as it would mean a loss of benefit support. Maybe there is support if you’re receiving disability payments? You’re either in the system or out of it, I’m wondering if there is a third way.

What if a supported self-employment option could be implemented? Maybe a mentor or administrate over-seer for an amount of time? If wages are now reported in real time monthly maybe a top up if you don’t manage to earn in one month due to illness? I know, I know, there are self-employed people that don’t earn consistently either, there is working tax credit in those circumstances and in general mentally robust people can weather this stresses better. Maybe co-operatives could be established where you could work on projects (using the skills you have, not just manual labour that the local council has a list of, unless of course you want to do that work). So, the individual would essentially be self-employed, the central co-op would be the administrative overseer of money received, invoices produced, tax returns, taking some of the pressure away from those recovering who are currently inconsistent or may never be consistent. The local centres could monitor those people and top up their wage if necessary without constant intrusive exams. They could also help people with PR or procure work. All of the support given at the moment is for returning to work as an employee, none of the support addresses the problem of ongoing inconsistency with certain illnesses. 

There does appear to be some support from outside resources but a cursory glance seems to suggest they are aimed at physical disability and a registered one at that. The best resource I can find so far is

With all the talk about helping people out of dependency on benefits there seems to be huge gaps in policy especially surrounding mental illnesses. What are your views? Do you have experiences in this area? Feel free to contact me with your own experiences or knowledge. Have any of you experienced a return to work that was fully supported with an inconsistent condition? Would you start a business if you could team it up with extra support for your condition?

Much love and luck,

K & T x

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Knitting my life together

Good evening dear blog readers.

I'm currently using my blog as a journal, just to get myself back in to using it a bit and to see where it might go next. It's been quite a long time since I blogged regularly, I'm not sure I was very focused with the direction of it, was it lifestyle, style, food? I then wandered in to politics and then unfortunately it would appear an anxiety driven condition that I'm currently still suffering from and I stopped writing completely.

I finished my Open University course and passed it quite well, which was excellent but I was subsequently due to start a college course that I didn't pursue. I started a part-time job from home which is flexible but has taken up my time somewhat so my exploration in to myself and a new direction stalled as did my own writing.

At the moment I have quite a few ideas floating around my head for interesting blog posts relating to how we deal with those wishing to work with a disability and also on motherhood and crowd funding. Also, our big news is that we might be moving again! This time to a more permanent and substantial smallholding with extended family and I'm hoping that this will allow me time to be more creative and learn some of the crafts I've been inspired by over the last couple of years! I've already chosen a name for the Farm! Rest assured I shall be posting all my efforts on here and hopefully if I practice enough be able to sell a few bits and bobs.

I touched on the fact that I've been suffering from anxiety in my previous post, and it's certainly taken it's toll on my ability to deal with multi-tasking and my ability to focus. It's also given me insight to my previous behavior and how I might have been suffering from anxiety for many years but have managed to push it in to self contained boxes, for example I don't drive or fly. I shall hopefully be getting some therapy so that's a bit of a journey!

On a family note, my little girl is now two and growing more and more everyday which is delightful and awe inspiring and also scary as shit.  I'll leave it there for now and hope you enjoy the small one's masterpiece below!

Fare thee well until next time,
K x

Friday, 18 April 2014

Those that wander are not always lost.

Just a quick update from me to say sorry for the lack of posts! I've been suffering from a depression which I'll touch on in later posts I'm sure. I started this blog as a form of self expression and discovery so it would seem I need to go down some interesting routes whilst doing this.

To get back in to this I may use this blog as a journal for a while.

Much love,
Kay and Jas x

Saturday, 16 November 2013

The lovely ginger and orange cake.

There once was a ginger and orange cake. 
That came out of the oven all warm.
It stood on it's stand and looked so very grand.
Gosh, it didn't last more than it took to make! 

Okay, where's my Booker Prize?
Tuesday, 12 March 2013

When politics attacks.....the right to breed and other things.

Here's a little update from me:

Number of square knitted = 5
Number of words of novel written = 3934
Number of courses started = 1
Number of jobs volunteered for = 1
Number of cakes eaten = 1

So, my blanket is erm...still in development. Think of it as the Serenity sequel, it's much loved but not quite in production. Likewise, my novel has had some words added to it, but I'm so unfocused with it. I'm liking the story though, but it's unfolding as I write, I haven't got a plan as such.

I started my Open University course, which has eaten in to my daily time, as will my impending 6 hours a week at the CAB.

Life as mum is becoming a little more understood by me, although my plans to go to a childminder are temporarily on hold as there has been a bereavement, another reminder of how short life is and how we should direct ourselves towards what moves us rather than just the mundane.

I'm incredibly lucky to have this time with my daughter but what it has highlighted to me is the way in which, as a society, we treat child rearing and how judgemental we are towards others. It is also interesting to see how our basic internal fairness button is being manipulated by politics.

The rhetoric of the scrounger or the feckless or the undeserving poor is not new, but during the recent recession it is prevalent not only in politics but in the media and on the lips of many. In times of contraction there's less, so what's available to us all is scrutinised as we all fight that basic urge of not being left with the least amount of potatoes on the plate. The plight of the disabled on disability allowance and other benefits has affected me hugely, I have always felt that part of what made Britain great was an inbuilt fairness (oh how my step-dad would laugh at me for that). That those who are truly unable would be looked after by the state is something I've always believed to be right. Personally, I have never felt annoyed by paying tax, I've not always agreed with how the government has spent my money or they way in which they have arranged their finances but the principle of tax is sound to me, I live in a society, society needs certain basic needs met, I pay for those with taxes. Sign me up.

The way in which the coalition has chosen to look at the welfare costs in the country and the way in which it has played its cards has truly astounded me. It is not so much the fact that the Tories would hide behind the spin of benefits being out of control or that some people are lazy, it's the fact that the liberal democrats have said nothing whilst they've gotten on with it. They let them get away with spinning the lie that the way to fix the deficit would be to focus on welfare.

Now let me get this straight, I strongly dislike fraudsters. Cowardly arsehats. As a nation we can not stand the unfairness of it. We stand in queues nicely, we are polite, we do not grumble at the rain and in turn we expect everyone else to behave in the same way. They don't of course, but that's humanity. It does not and should not mean that this feeling should be directed towards the vulnerable, that the fact that a small percentage of people claim incorrectly should not mean that we close our ears to the reaction of those having to go through the work capacity assessment.

I am certain that their are some people currently on disability benefits that would love to work and with support in travelling to work, or at work, or flexibility in work patterns would be able to change from these benefits to part and part. However, that should not mean that all people are tested in one way, using one set of questions, by a non specialist in that particular person's illness. It is abhorrent to me those with mental illness are not dealt with differently. It is baffling to me why a medical reports from specialists are being ignored.

All for the sake of some bad apples, a whole section of society now feels shunned, overlooked and persecuted. I strongly reject the way in which this has been handled. Basically, to me it really does seem to be a matter of principle for the Tories, rather than economics and they have twisted and manipulated and fanned the flames of jealousy and fear to push these changed through.

This takes me back to another section of society that have always been judged. Mothers. The choice of when to have a baby, probably the biggest choice a woman ever makes. I really wish that as a society we understand that if we are to continue being a country that it's our babies that will take it forward. If we do not support this activity over and above huge profits then our communities cease to exist. Now, I know that not all woman want children, top choice. I know many others that want to and can not or have effectively chosen not to due to economics you may say so what, this has always been the case. I also know many who have chosen to have children without finances or relationships being solid and they are vilified.

Society places a judgemental barrier to this activity, it says you can only do this are in a committed relationship, you have savings or the wage so that you do not rely on the state, like it's something not connected to our biology and psyche. However, if there is one activity that SHOULD be supported by government it should be child rearing. It should be respected. But it isn't and we treat some mothers with disdain, we watch them struggle (for it was never intended to be a two person job let along a one person job) and then we say it's their punishment for not doing it the way in which society says.

Instead of guns, armies and nuclear submarines we should be spending money on supporting any woman, married or not, financially able or not, to raise a child. Radical much? You betcha. Not so much a Dad's Army as a Mother's.

With all of that off my chest I feel a little lighter. I'm not sure if you feel any better though! I apologise for the rant. I've been delving into the local politics of Torfaen and it's a little heartbreaking.

Wish me luck in changing that!

K x

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Political Offshoots!

So, off the back of my previous post I've decided to start up a new blog. I'll post the link a little later on.

The Ponty project, as it's now know in my head is proving very interesting. I've featured one local group already and I've started a petition too. I've also had my first actual conversation with a Council person, which was interesting. There seems like there is a lot to do! I could quite easily be the Pontypool Journalist, if only someone would pay me!

I can't wait to see where this goes! I've already been invited out to visit an Owl's egg in a nesting box and to a meet and greet. A local charity is delivering me veg tomorrow and they've given me LOADS of names of other local people doing awesome stuff for me to contact! Plus the council has directed me to a newly forming Town group so we shall see!

I've also started a petition to see if we can get movement on the state of the local shop fronts! I'm hoping some lovely art might come out of this!

My partner did a quick sketch for me as an idea for the boarded up willie window! I'd love to see this in town.

Shop Fronts Are Us!

Like I said, I'm creating more work for myself being at home than anything else!

Oh....and I've only knitted five squares, but I HAVE written 3900 words of the book! Plus the child will be one on Saturday and she WALKED TODAY!


Best wishes
Kay x