Having chosen to swallow the red pill...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

One small step at a time

It is a hard thing for me to describe the sheer joy I experienced when Ellie came home from some shopping today. Since getting pregnant this time, she hasn't dared to go out and buy anything for the baby, as she was afraid that it would be tempting fate, some kind of bad omen; and with everything that has gone on after the first two miscarriages, it has been a tough struggle this far.

Today, she came in and her eyes were sparkling as she indicated a plastic bag to me and shyly announced that she had brought something for the baby. The combination of joy and vulnerability in her eyes made my heart lurch inside me. She then unfolded the cute, tiny tiny clothes pictured above and we sat there together on the sofa looking at the first clothes our little baby will wear.

Since Ellie became pregnant, I have been afraid of the moment when we bring the tiny little baby home from the relative safety of the hospital. I believe I felt afraid because I felt unprepared. Now, somewhere deep and strong inside me, I feel absolutely ready.

On a lighter note, I got my university timetable last week only to discover that the day before the baby is due, I have a 4-hour written exam based on 1000 pages of material! Game on!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Look at this... I go away for a while and you begin to raise statues in my honour!

Seriously though, Ellie and I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and concern from all around us. In the middle of all the confusion, everyone has pulled together around us and the love and support can provide you energy when your own is lacking. So a big THANK-YOU to all of your for your messages and actions over the last few days, it really has been appreciated.

... And so, at this end, life continues. The last few days have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster as the various specialist doctors diagnosed, conferred and re-diagnosed. We have moved from 23:00 of Friday night where they were going to go in and operate on Saturday morning, where they needed to give the baby cortisone to help speed-up the development of its lung function, then brycanyl to relax the placenta and thereby decrease the chance of premature contractions and delivery. Then because brycanyl increases blood flow, they needed to administer another drug to help them control the bleeding as they operated. Basically that the diagnosis was reasonably routine in non-pregnant women, but very rare in pregnant women and after the operation, we were to prepare ourselves for the possibility of our baby being born prematurely, which was ok, but frankly ' not such a good thing' at week 30! - Now, Ellie is back home with me and we are scheduled to go back in for ultra-sound and check-ups again next week. They have finally come to the conclusion that Ellie doesn't require emergency surgery and that, with careful follow-up and with Ellie resting at home, things should be able to proceed as normal. Relief! When I got Ellie home on Sunday afternoon, I tucked her comfortably up in the sofa with the phone so she could begin ringing around her friends, then I went upstairs and slept the sleep on the innocent, until it was time to wake-up and drive to her parents for dinner.

So, we will be lying low for a bit. We have food in the fridge and a pile of DVD's to watch and I expect to have a day or two's peace before Ellie recovers her wits sufficiently to begin pointing her finger and my 'to do' list will increase exponentially.

In the meantime, I will keep posting alongside the much appreciated posts of my bestest brother, so that y'all have something to read about in your coffee breaks and I can puff myself up and strut like a funky rooster with the thought that as far away as Dubai, you want to read about little old me!

Thanks again for all your support and kind words... now it is time for me to get a cup of coffee and welcome this new day in the correct manner.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tough lead to follow

I was very touched last week when my brother asked me on the phone if I would like to be a guest blogger on his site whilst he went a way on holiday to relax and unwind. I have to say that their was a pause and it wasn’t anything to do with the fact that it was a distant phone call it was because I was hurriedly weighing up whether I could live up to what Paul does. I have decided to do it but as this will be coming from the wildes of Norfolk dont expect the wizadery that Paul uses. Just text from me I am afraid....

Like many of you I enjoy logging onto Pauls site and reading what he has been up to in the last 24 hours. I think my main reason for this is because I miss having the daily contact with some one who I have a very deep and special relationship with. As James said after a period of absence from Paul it was good to have him back as he missed reading on what he had been up to in the last 24 hours. Well I totally echo those thoughts.

I have found Paul a great source of inspiration as he turned against the flow and him and Ellie made the life changing decision for him to go back to university for him to study in a field which has an interest. Even more amazing is that they made this decision and he is not totally sure it is what he wants to do but you have to take risks and follow your heart. Many people just go with it and get caught in the trap of not really enjoying what they are doing but doing nothing about it and it takes a great strength of character to stand up and say ‘nope I ain’t doing it any more’ and instead listening to what your heart and mind are telling you and in most cases taking a risk. Many of us quite often are good at what we have be trained to do or studied to do but in most cases that doesn’t mean that that is what you really want to do and so many of us never really follow our calling but rather suppress it because it is the easy way out. Well Paul hasn’t and I think all of us who are dissatisfied with any aspect of our life, which lets face it is probably all of us, should take a leaf out of his book. I am very proud to call him my brother and to stand by him whilst he finds his way.

Pauls decision also goes along way to show the strength of the relationship he has with his wife Ellie. Again I think we all should learn something from that. Paul said something to me once and I have never forgotten it. With all relationships you have to work at them every day and when you stop doing that then that is when things start going wrong – in other words you get stuck in a rut. I have never seen Paul happier and I am sure that a huge amount of that comes from the gorgeous lady he married and I am very grateful Paul went to Germany and met Ellie.

Which brings me back to what I started talking about first. I was thrilled to be asked but as I hope has come across I feel I have a huge amount to live up to. But with the developments over the weekend I am I am going to give it a go. I have seen that today Paul has been making entries to the site and I am not going to stop him but I want to give him the option as he needs to concentrate on Ellie and himself.

Paul and Ellie anyone who knows you is thinking about you. I for one am working very hard on the worm hole to enable to get myself that little bit nearer so we can share a pint when times are hard. For the moment thought I am always only a phone call away.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Home again, home again...

After two sleepless nights, having just started to get used to hospital life and getting used to finding a red thread in the melée of doctor's explanations and diagnoses, I am pleased to report that Ellie and I are back home again. From here on in, it looks as if she will be at home and is to take it easy and then we will go in for tight and regular follow-up from here through to delivery. After having to prepare ourselves for an operation on Friday night that wasn't without its risks, it feels fantastic to be home again, as at this stage, each and every day we can keep the little one safe in Mummy's tummy, counts for a lot.

So we are home again and hopefully, with the exception of the check-ups that will follow this, the next time we are there, we will go in again as a couple and come out as a family.

Friday, July 22, 2005

And then, out of no-where, life throws you a left hook

The meaning was to go camping with some friends and to chill out by a lake fishing and take the occassional sip of decent whisky.

The reality was that I spent the day in hospital with Ellie, where her persistant stomach aches had become too much. This time she was taken seriously and three hours after being admitted we were talking with a surgical team of three specialists. The result is at some stage they will probably have to operate and this could result in the premature birth of our baby. It breaks my fucking heart.

The result is that I will blog sporadically as I come home to sleep.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

You know you have been living too long in Sweden, when...

I joked for a while when I first got over here that Swedish women choose their men based on how handy they are at assembling IKEA furniture. They kind of flash their deep blue eyes and give a 'if you even think you have a chance with me, that cupboard, matching wall unit and TV bench had better be assembled before I get home from seeing the girls.' Yes Mam!

Yesterday though, I realised that I had been in Sweden too long as I looked down at the unopened box lying challengingly at my feet, then I actually cracked my neck from side to side, cracked my knuckles and said out loud 'Oh yeah! Bring it on, bitch!' (with strong tonality on the word 'on' and bitch naturally pronounced beeehach!)

Yesiree, I cracked my joints as I lumbered up for the challenge and actually spoke those words out-loud in my own empty house. Nuff said.

Needless to say, I flexed my weapons of war, namely a octagonal Allen key, a Phillips screw-driver, a rubber mallet, a Stanley knife and a hammer and just under an hour later, the contents of the box had been magnificently transformed into the cupboard that now sits in the hallway, which replaces the chest of drawers, which has gone upstairs ready for baby clothes. Behold its magnificence!

The remainder of this afternoon will be spent putting transparent anti-slip tape on our stairs so Ellie and I don't slip when we are carrying our precious bundle, then I am going outside to get some fresh air, don my rucksack and walk 10km or so to get myself ready for Friday.

(and what is happening on Friday, I hear you ask? Well, you will just have to tune in again tomorrow to find out...)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

'Builder Bob'

I feel a bit like Builder Bob, only that my machines and tools don't talk back to me! Once I had put the second coat of paint on the garden gate, tidied-up and put my tools away, I looked in satisfaction at a job well done... only to notice that the grouting mixture that I have been using to fill in the holes in the wall, is a few shades lighter than the rest of the wall... and so it stands out... and so it looks as if my wall has been patched-up... which it has! It is one of those things, which once noticed is hard to ignore again. I am probably going to give it a week or so and see if it weathers and gets darker, but deep inside I think I already know that the problem was that my mixture must have been too dry.

All of this reminds me of a quote from one of the famous Zen masters about purpose and decisions. He said, 'either stand-up, or sit down; but don't wobble.' - basically decide one way or the other and then be resolute and act. (and no, James, this isn't aimed at you ;-)

So, tomorrow, if there is a break in the rain, I will get the ladder out again, scare myself by climbing to great heights, scrape off all of my grout work, make a much more liquid blend and then re-fill the gaps. I will then clean and put my tools away once more and sweep the verandah and steps once more and then be thankful for the lesson I have learnt. And what lesson may that be? I hear you asking. Hmmm, the lesson is that I now know what properly mixed grout should look and feel like.

On the subject of grout and grouting, as I was working on the wall the first time, taking my mix up with me, scraping it out of the bucket and onto the wall, the handyman who is working on our roof came round. As I came down the ladder to collect some more of my (too dry) mixture, he looked at me and gave me the old 'you don't want to do it like that, you want to do it like this, my boy' talk, then disappeared to his van. When he returned, he had a plastic thing that you use for icing cakes. He quickly blended-up a mixture, shimmied up the steps and did twice as much in 10 minutes than I had in the previous 2 hours! As they say, 'when the pupil is ready, the teacher will arrive.'

All I can say is that when I have to grout again next year, I will be able to do it so quickly that it won't even be worth writing about in my blog.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Bees, lavender and adult holidays

Today I will mainly be... busy cementing in the holes in the wall at the back and front of the house, that, for some reason, bees like making. They just fly in, drill around for a bit and then fly off again. Then I get my ladder out, mix-up a batch of cement, feel my knees shake as I climb 8 metres up into the air and fill the hole in again.

Yesterday was more painting. Oh yes, once the verandah had been painted, then of course the white paint around the glass needed touching up. From that comes the interesting point of 'contrast'. You touch-up the white paint in one area, then another area near by, also painted white, suddenly looks shabby in comparison. So you paint that too, and just above it, you see a white windowsill, which was never bad before, but suddenly with everything else in pristine white, it too is looking a bit dirty, so you paint that and then see... Yes, in this way I floated around the garden with a white paint brush and paint tin all day, a little bit like the way a moth floats around a lightbulb. I also finally put a wooden border around our lavender bed. It used to be a rose bed, but they were too much work and were frankly looking a bit shabby, so last year, I pulled them all out and planted lavender instead. I was a bit worried as I planted late in the season, but I bedded and insulated the plants with bark mulch and they survived winter and are really doing well now. So, that's another job off my list, only got to tidy the verandah, put anti-slip tape on the stairs, sort out a baby room, re-do the hallway... I guess that this is an 'adult vacation' but I kind of miss those holidays where you actually had enough time on your hands that you could get bored!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Collecting adult points

As if turning 30 wasn't enough, last week, we made a decision to collect even more 'adult points' by going out and buying a pram. Being a typical man, I obviously don't possess that interesting aspect of the maternal instinct that lets you know that prams need to be purchased long in advance. I thought you could walk into the shop and by them. Luckily Ellie 'knew' that this wasn't the case! Very lucky in fact as the waiting and delivery time for a new pram, given that it is now the summer holidays for Swedish industry so the factories shut down, is around 3 months! 3 months. The guy in the shop actually told us that we should really order during the week to be certain of getting the make, model and colour that we wanted!

So, we walk into the pram shop and there is a dazzling array of prams in all conceivable shapes sizes and designs. There were seriously a LOT of prams. Ellie and I looked at one another and wondered just where we should start, at which point a kind salesperson, spotting our obvious cluelessness, comes to our rescue:
- 'Are you looking for a combi, a duo, a nova or a sport? Do you want a hard lift or a soft lift? Do you want air filled wheels or solid, fully rotational or fixed? Reconfigurable carriage unit or stationary?'
- 'I am sorry', I answered, 'I don't work for NASA and I didn't realise that this was a car salesroom.'

After much explaining and trying, we finally narrowed it down to one of two sorts of pram, but then comes the question of which brand? One of the brands is currently popular with the rich and famous, two of the other brands are traditional stalwarts of Swedish industry, stable, safe, reliable and just a little bit boring, and the fourth brand is a newcomer. Well designed, innovative, interesting... but can it be trusted to carry our baby?... Maybe it can, but can it fit in the back of our car? Can I fold it down and unfold it, or reverse the carriage unit without needing a Masters Degree in Advanced Structural Engineering?

Eventually we choose our pram, pictured above (colour different from the one featured) and it will be ready for me to collect the day after our baby is born. As we forked out the downpayment on the £600 that the pram costs, we got our first idea of just how much this little baby is going to change our lives.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hot, hot, hot!

Sorry about the absence of posts over the last week or so. For one reason or the other, last week was both tough and long and thus I had no real inspiration to write about anything really. Matters weren’t helped by the bombing in London.

I will try to get back into my rhythm again this week. To follow-up from my post before my birthday post, I finally finished putting the second coat on the veranda fence today. It was a hot day here, but as I was painting, I thought that the pain was drying a little too quickly. I stuck a thermometer behind me as I was working and when I looked at it a few minutes later, it was registering 43 degrees! No wonder that I was breaking a light forehead sweat as I worked!

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I will be working with a small advertising agency here in town, acting as an advisor and helping them re-work their business plan in order to help them better adapt to the changes in the industry in general. This will be my first time acting as an advisor, so it should be an interesting experience. I’ll let you know how we get on!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Today, I am 30!

Normally when you celebrate your birthday, people come up to you with a sly smile and ask you how it feels to be 25 or 35 or whatever, and truthfully, you feel no different. You feel elated maybe due to the occasion, but otherwise it is just another day, significant only because somewhere, the sand in your hourglass runs past a marker.

Some people try to hold this passing of time at a distance and a birthday reminds them of its inevitability. Sort of 'oh no, I am 35, that means I am as close to 40 as I am to 30!' I like to use a birthday, rather like New Year's Day, as a way marker, a reminder to listen to that sand roaring through my hourglass. Listening to the roar of the sand, the sound of time passing and watching the granules of sand on the slope slowly slide down and through the gap is a form of awareness meditation and enables you to take stock of things. I am a year older, where am I on my path? Who am I? Am I doing what I want with my life?

More importantly, by being able to face the sound of time passing, you realise that another day has gone by, and suddenly you are filled with an acute awareness of life's preciousness. The average human heart beats for 600,000 hours.

Your personal power consists of taking responsibility for your life and your choices and of taking action. You can change anything you want in your life and any time. The combination of all three of these factors is what strategic living is about. Strategic living is an awareness of my 600,000 hours, taking responsibility that where I am today is a result of the choices I have made in the past, and the taking of right action to ensure that I choices I make today and congruent with the path I want my life to follow.

I am 30 years old this morning. Over the last 2 years, I have turned my life around, stopped sleepwalking and have put myself in the driving seat. In short, I am living strategically. My 30th birthday present to myself is that I am living the life I want to live. I can look on this day and not feel the slightest trace of regret or panic. I am happier than I have been in ages, I am on the path to do what I want to do, I am surrounded by a fantastic loving wife, and great family and friends and later this year, will hold our first baby in my arms. There is a fire in my belly.

My birthday gift to all of you reading this is to take this way marker, my 30th birthday, and use it to remind you of your way markers. Not your birthday, but that fact that it is Sunday 3rd of July, another day in your life. I ask you to sit down and just take 5 precious minutes to consider the following: Look your 600,000 hours in the face, listen carefully to the sound of time passing and somewhere inside you, you will know what questions you need to ask and what you need to do.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Back to grassroots!

I know, I know, I am late with my blog again today. But I have a reason... having left my high glamour life as a glove model behind me (for a while) I have spent this morning at another company learning the Jeeves accounting and invoicing system. Oh yes, I haven't got a top degree in international business management for nothing, you know.
It is back to grassroots for this boy and every morning next week, I will be processing invoices, sorting the post and will be available as an in-house resource for the marketing department.

Yesterday was also a back to grassroots day. I was busy in our own garden, getting ready for the evenings jujutsu by re-living the words of a classic treatise in strategy, second only to Miyamoto Mushashi's Book of Five Rings, namely the teachings of Mr. Miyagi. Yep, I was hard at work with 'sand the fence Daniel-san' and then following up with 'paint the fence.'

It was a good job that I did as yesterday's session in the dojo was a hard mixture of aerobic training, interspersed with some interesting throwing techniques, in 32 degree heat!

So, I am going to sign off now, wish you all a good weekend, expect for James who starts his working week again tomorrow morning, so welcome back James! I am about to take Dom's advice and get stuck into a bottle of merlot and converse with Ellie and 'the Bump'.

-----------------------Paul has left the building-----------------------