What is normal?

One of the curious things about life is how what is in fact, when compared to the general population, quite an abnormal situation becomes normality. This was highlighted to me today in a curious way-I was talking to someone who was potentially going to come and do some cleaning for me. Living rurally it’s quite difficult to find cleaners and even more difficult to find someone recommended by a friend so I was very hopeful that we might be able to come to an arrangement that worked for both of us.While that may still happen it was striking how discussion of the need to be super careful about being in contact with me if she had an infection and my request for her to have a flu vaccination to further protect me clearly threw her out of her stride and I think may prevent her taking the job because of her anxiety about making me ill. It reminded me about the high-risk situation I’m in but, although initially upset about this, on reflection it also allowed me to recognise the extent to which myself and the extended station house family have accepted this risk, take all precautions we can to minimise risk but then get on with life focusing on the moment and the fact that I don’t currently have an infection!

The ‘ready to paddle’ image below with Steve & Ian carrying me from wheelchair to sea is a good example of how we try to continue to embrace life despite it’s risks and uncertainties. As I think I have said before mindfulness and it’s ability to facilitate me focusing on what is happening in the current moment rather than focusing on all the things that mights go wrong in the future has been essential to my resilience in the face of pretty relentless assaults to my health. Something might go wrong or I might achieve my goal to reverse the usual health trajectory and actually see my health improve over the next 10years rather than deteriorate as is the usual pattern.

Ready to paddle in Whitby – is this normal – probably not but made me very happy!


Certainly I am planning long term projects for the garden with the development of nurturenature as an enterprise to operate symbiotically with the therapeutic garden. I am in the process of trying to both plant seeds and pot on plug plants with Louise that will be mature plants in the spring and could be used for a fundraising event. I am exploring the possibility of a grant from the Disabled Gardeners Trust to improve wheelchair access, both for me and for visitors to the garden using wheelchairs. In parallel with this is planning aimed at using the polytunnels to their full extent to provide produce through autumn, winter and the ‘hungry gap’. Dinner last night was omelettes made with eggs from our hens with chervil, parsley and chives filled with spinach, courgette and feta. with the omelette was a gorgeous colourful salad of carrots, beetroot, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and avocado. Only the feta and avocado were not home produced.Not only was it delicious but made even more so by it’s home grown nature. A prime example of nurture by nature.

In terms of pinning things down organisationally, luckily i am a sad old obsessive who loves organising, spreadsheets, mindmaps etc.  Having a very detailed plan of campaign is particularly important to me – as returning full circle to the start of this post I do need to ensure there are contingency plans in place if I end up in hospital with an infection. A detailed month by month planting, feeding, pruning etc plan is a work in progress. A first draft of a nurturenature  mindmap has been drawn up and Louise, my gardening partner in crime is currently reviewing it so look out for the next version. NurtureNature Garden – version 1 can be found here! Is my obsession with gardening normal? Again probably not, but entrenched in my own passion for gardening and nature is a real commitment to make gardening and spending time in nature more normal; there is the increasing body of evidence endorsing the benefits for both physical and mental health; you can potentially get fresh food out of it; its great fun. Developing resources to facilitate other people engaging in gardening at any level gives me a purpose and an opportunity to give back to the community, both of which are really important to me.

Anyway, organisationally, I must go to sleep if I am to plant seeds, make lavender bags and greet 9 members of the extended family who are staying for 2 nights. An excuse to sneak in an extra pizza  night….but I will definitely need a long rest tomorrow afternoon.

But to end with, Janette Winterson’s excellent autobiography which I would highly recommend is entitled “Why be happy when you could be normal?”

Screenshot 2016-08-16 02.13.08

.I prefer to live by a rearranged version of that title…

“Why be normal when you could be happy?”

Live life by your own rules, get childish joy from jumping in a puddle, dance on tables, drink champagne/prosecco (its the bubbles that count), hug trees, see mickey mouse in the clouds, laugh with your friends, walk in the woods with your dogs, cook good food, eat good food, grow good food and garden, garden, garden. Enjoy the journey. As the final lines of “The Station by Robert Hastings say.

“Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.”

TheStation – full version of The Station available here- its only a short piece of prose but worth reading.

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