Tabby kerwin

#createmyhappy

possibility, productivity & performance

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By tabbykerwin, Nov 7 2019 08:00AM


One year ago today my love and incredible husband Simon took his last breath after 4 months of treatment for cancer.


It’s well documented, I’ve shared a lot, but today is not a day of extra sadness. Every day has sadness now he has gone, but that is balanced with the love and joy he left me and today, and every day, I will celebrate him in every way I know how.


I’ve chosen not to feel like his death broke my heart with sadness, but my heart split with the pressure of trying to fit all his love he left me behind inside of my own heart. My heart has had to have a little ‘feng shui’ workout to fit it all in.


So, today I want to share another story with you. Not for sympathy, but empathy. To help me continue to heal and to help you to understand that death, grief, cancer and mental ill health do not have to be daunting, they can breed resilience and strength in us all.


The greatest honour I can do my husband is to continue to live my life with purpose, love, joy and strength as he equipped me with those skills and continued to instil them in me at a time in my life when I thought there was no point in living; when the world from my perspective was dark and cold.


On Tuesday night this week I, like many millions of others, watched the Pride of Britain Awards.


Humbling, amazing and inspiring. It is so easy to watch with sorrow and sympathy, but I listen to the stories of these people with empathy, understanding and kindness and I see such strength and resilience in the face of adversity.


This is what any type of trauma can do to you. It does not have to be the end of life as you know it, it can be the start of a life full of strength if you choose to take that path. I have chosen that path; to lay my vulnerabilities and experiences on the line with you all, with the purpose of helping others to find a path through their own issues, however big or small.


Whilst watching the TV, the words of Sir Ben Kingsley as he presented an award really resonated with me.


“If your motives are pure, then to tell a story is to heal and you must always, always tell your story.”


Ever since Simon was taken into ICU on 19th October 2018 I have kept a very specific journal. It started as a means to remind me of things to tell him what he missed whilst in a coma and since his death it has become part of my daily grief and mental health management as every night I write to him about my day.


I am a storyteller. I tell the stories of my experiences with a pure motive and today I want to share with you an excerpt from my new book being published next year “The Three Taboos: Cancer, Grief & Mental Health” which tells the story of the day that Simon died as written in my journal. Not to be morbid, or for sympathy, but to share with you that a moment we all dread, the moment a loved one leaves us, does not have to be scary but can be full of love and calmness.


7th November 2018


“My Darling Simon.

Today is the day we knew c0ould come but I truly feel, whilst it’s the day we dreaded, that we are ready for this. You’re not responding to the medication for the infections and your organs are so strained, but you’re restful and relaxed so the best thing is to let you remain that way by reducing all oxygen levels to normal and letting nature take its course.

This is the saddest day of my life but when we first got together I told you one of the reasons I wanted to be with you was so that I could stand with you at the end and be there for you to hold your hand, and I will be. You have taught me everything I need to get through this. You have taught me and Oliver how to be strong, loving, how to be loved, how to smile and be happy and I will use all those skills now. You make me the happiest person ever and in spite of this heartache and sadness, I will smile every day for you, because you gave me that gift and it’s precious. You have given me the most precious gifts of strength, love, hope, happiness and positivity, the latter makes me know that no matter what, Oliver and I will be OK. Right now it’s lovely and relaxed time together. We have Classic FM on the radio and the children are on their way. Then it will be our time for one last kiss and cuddle as I hold you tight. I love you with all my heart and I always will. Thank you for everything you have given me and the protection and love you have shown me. Oliver will live every day making you proud and with a smile.

***

Everyone has been to see you and say their goodbyes and we have had our time for me to say my ‘I love yous’ and hold you tight. I am here for you. I’m holding you tight and now it’s time for you to relax from the fight and stress. You are so relaxed and restful and this is the most perfect farewell it could be. It’s time to let nature take its course.

It’s 7.55pm on Wednesday 7th November and your oxygen levels are being reduced and medications turned off. ‘All in the April Evening’ is on the radio; so apt as we married in April and as that ends I play you the music you wrote for me to enter our wedding ‘La Discesa.’ I’m holding you tight, cuddling you and telling you ‘I love you’ and it’s ‘OK to rest now.’ I’m kissing you and feeling the comfort of being with you on this your very last and most important journey and I am so grateful to be here with you. In the most perfect conclusion, your final breath is taken on the last bars of that special music, our piece, at 8pm. You timed it to perfection, as always. This is the most precious hug, kiss and ‘I love you’ we will ever share. I know you are at rest now and you look so peaceful. You are the love of my life and I am so proud of you. Your final performance was perfect; full of love, passion, fight and wonderful character. You are with me forever and we will always be the most formidable partnership. We will all be OK because of you; we have love, happiness and true friendship. I am forever grateful for everything you gave and taught me. But now it’s time for you to rest. I love you my darling Simon. Thank you for everything. You are with me forever. xxxtaxxx”


Through our life together and even through his treatment, Simon smiled, loved and gave us all so much. The photos say it all.


Life is full of sadness and traumatic experiences, but what I’ve come to learn and embrace is that the sadness can balance with happiness. We can all continually move forwards whilst managing our emotions, physical and mental health. We just have to work out the best way to do that for ourselves and one of the best things we can do is be honest and share our experiences in order to help and support each other.


That is what I will do today and every day, and I have the strength to do that because of my husband’s life and death.


Much Love

Tabby xxx


NB. 'The Three Taboos: Canver, Grief & Mental Health' will be published in May 2020.

To read my book 'The Three Ps: Possibility, Productivity & Performance' click HERE


To buy a copy of our new CD of Simon's music performed by the Rothwell Temperance Band called 'Lago - The Music of Simon Kerwin' visit www.modeforpublishing.com

A donation from sales goes to the Bexley Wing, Yorkshire Cancer Centre, St. James' Hospital.






By tabbykerwin, Nov 4 2019 01:17PM

Today is the start of the week that marks one year since my husband Simon died.


It’s a strange feeling as the last 12 months has gone so fast, yet it feels so long since Simon was here with me; chatting, hugging, supporting, laughing and sharing our life together.


But, as a rule, I’m ok about this week; genuinely.


It seems the belief is that the anniversary of a death should be a really tough day, but I’m desperately trying to flip that trend.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m sad as hell and will cry…but I do that every day, even if it’s only for 1 minute when I something strikes an emotional chord.


But I don’t want to be any sadder on 7th November than I am any other day. I live with the reality, sadness and grief every day that he isn’t here anymore and I’ve made the choice to embrace that reality and not fight it as opposed to letting it overwhelm me and my life.


I had a wonderful 24 hours with my oldest and best friends of 25 years this weekend and when we sit and chat, we do it with honesty. We know there is no offending each other with our words of truth because they come from a place of love; So, when the following conversation happened, I think it was the best thing I’ve heard in months because it totally hit the nail on the head of the reality of my grief and the possible impending doom of this week’s anniversary.


Friend: “How are you feeling about this week.”

Me: “Actually I’m OK, it’s going to be no worse than any other day since Simon died because they’re all tough.”

Friend: “Well I suppose he has been dead all year!”


I have been chuckling about this for the last 48 hours and it will continue to carry me through with smiles and chuckles, just as Simon would want. That reality and honesty delivered with such true love is exactly what I need; from the right people, obviously.


Now, I get that might seem like the most insensitive thing to say to some people, but if you know me at all or knew my husband you would understand this is entirely appropriate and helpful.


The reality is that my husband is dead, I can’t bring him back and actually, for the full of life and jovial character he was, I think it would actually be quite disrespectful to him for me not to live my life to the fullest with smiles and laughter just as he did, and that means smiling through and embracing the toughest of times as well as the best, however hard that might be.


Recently I was chatting to another close friend of mine about the anniversary of Simon’s death, this was on the back of a conversation about birthdays and it really got me thinking about it all.


I had several thoughts; one being that these days we only seem to know about a ‘friend’s’ birthday if we see a Facebook reminder! Isn’t that the truth!


That aside, a birthday is an anniversary we have every year, which, in the main, we celebrate. So why can’t we apply this to the anniversary of a death too?


Each time I have hit an anniversary since Simon died, such as our wedding anniversary, his birthday and my birthday, I have tried to do something uplifting and celebratory in honour of him as otherwise, I’d have more sad anniversaries in a year than I could handle and I’d never live a life of joy.


I want to live my life with smiles, fun and a boat load of gratitude and experiences. That is what I did with Simon, what he taught me to do after a very unhappy time in my life and episodes with mental ill health and I love the feeling of that fun life, however hard it might be to maintain; it’s worth it.


I want to live my life and not miss it. Grief and life without Simon is punishment enough without me punishing myself further by not embracing every moment of life I have left and living it to its fullest for me, him and my son.


I’m coming to the conclusion that mourning doesn’t have to be all sad. A lot sad, hell yes, but not entirely. It can be celebratory as well and the larger and better the life that was lived, the bigger the celebration, surely?


In her ground-breaking book ‘On Death and Dying’ psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross revealed her model of The 5 Stages of Grief. These are denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance.


The one thing you have to understand with these stages, whilst I agree they are all real, they do not happen in any clear-cut order, but a continual cycle and mish mash of emotions, with everyone taking a different route through them, a bit like maze.


Author and death and grieving expert David Kessler, co-write this book with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and this week releases a book I can’t wait to read called ‘Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.’


According to the Amazon preview literature, in this book (find it here btw), Kessler shares his hard-earned wisdom and offers a roadmap to remembering those who have died with more love than pain, how to move forward in a way that honours our loved ones and ultimately transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience.


Yes! I can fully get on board with this concept. (You can read more here on Kessler, the 5 stages of grief and his book here ).


It is what I am trying to do.


Finding meaning in death by celebrating and honouring the person no longer with us, and that is what I plan to do every single day and that methodology can co-habit with the sadness and tears and reality of Simon’s death and my grief, but it will be the stronger one in the relationship.


So, as well as shedding many tears and reflecting this week and every week, I will be celebrating my husband in the best ways I know how. I will talk about him, share stories about him, play his music to the world and keep his legacy alive and on 7th November 2019, one year on from the day he died, I will celebrate his life and legacy by officially launching a CD of his music in the hospital where he took his last breath and in that hospital and everywhere, his music and life will live on.


You can buy the CD HERE and donation from sales goes to the Bexley Wing, Leeds Cancer Centre, St. James' Hospital.


A person grieving does not need to be fixed.


I do not need to be fixed.


I need to live and grieve in my own way, just as you will when you take your own grief journey.


There is no magic date when everything will become ‘better’ or ‘normal.’


What is ‘normal’ now is not what was ‘normal’ when the person you’re grieving was alive.


One year will not mark a time to ‘move on.’


I will never ‘move on’ but I will always ‘move forward.’


Because, at the end of the day, there is no magic date when everything changes; a date is just another day.


Much Love


Tabby xxx



The 5 Stages of Grief
The 5 Stages of Grief
Yep! A bit like this!
Yep! A bit like this!
Simon and I - always living life
Simon and I - always living life

By tabbykerwin, Oct 19 2019 07:06AM

The last time we spoke you told me something rude and funny…


The last time we spoke we talked about the cat…


The last time we spoke we planned our work and music…


The last time we spoke we shared stories about life and friends…


The last time we spoke we chatted about home and Oliver’s school…


The last time we spoke you told me you were scared to leave me alone…


The last time we spoke I promised you I was strong and could handle anything…


The last time we spoke…


… we did not know it would be the last time we would ever speak…


Thank goodness that every time we ever spoke we both said ‘I love you’…


Thank goodness that every time we ever spoke we smiled and laughed…



Twelve months ago today was the last time Simon and I had a vocal conversation.


On the morning of the 19th October 2018 he was texting me to bring ‘clean pants please’ to hospital, where he’d been for the last 5 nights having got another infection and beaten sepsis post chemo. He'd previously said ‘I’m feeling much better and hope you can break me out of hospital this weekend’. I was getting good at breaking him out for the comfort of home after three months of chemo trips!


By the time I had driven the journey from home to the Bexley Wing in Leeds 30 minutes later, things had changed. On my phone was another message from Simon with him hooked up to an oxygen machine and just the caption ‘this is me relaxing, how ill do they want to make me look?!’


This was not good and, in my head, suddenly the climate of what we were looking at was changing. He couldn’t have oxygen due to one of the chemo drugs he was given, Bleomycin. Oxygen was a ‘no-no’ and would destroy his lungs. I sat in the car for a minute, took a deep breath, collected up the clean pants and essential non-hospital food requirements and walked up to his room.


There he was, surrounded by specialists, holding court, telling jokes and just being him; naughty and cheeky. “Apparently, my oxygen levels aren’t playing ball so they’ve got the ICU team on board to come up with a plan,” he told me. The plan was to take him to ICU and worst case scenario, to put him on a ventilator for 48 hours to ease the pressure on his lungs and help raise his oxygen levels, then he’d be back on the ward and causing chaos and home again soon.


I lay in the hospital bed in his arms that afternoon and we just chatted, like everything was normal. We didn't talk about cancer or death or what was about to happen. We talked about work, Oliver, the cat, food, TV shows, the children's birthday gifts, jokes, stories, his Army band, our friends, just normal, everyday stuff for us. This was never ‘the last conversation’ in our minds, but he did, for the first time since being diagnosed with cancer tell me he was scared. But not of cancer or dying, just scared of leaving me alone without him. I told him I was tough and could be just fine on my own; I’ve not lied to him yet.


We had a cuppa and a few hours later at around 8pm he was taken down to ICU; still laughing and joking and chatting normally. They were going to fix him up and he was desperate for a good sleep he told us, after being battered by chemo and another infection, so 48 hours of rest and sleep ‘suited’ him.


Initial plans of ‘bubbles’ over his head from ICU doctors and body manipulation on his chest from physios didn’t work to raise his oxygen levels, so the only option left was putting him in an induced coma for the planned 48 hours. I will never forget the sound of Dr. Sophie’s voice and her words telling me to have a minute to give Simon a kiss and tell him I love him… though I didn’t need to be told that, we said it every time we entered or left a room or sent a text. Through his oxygen mask Simon told me ‘I love you’ and as I left the room for the doctors and nurses to do their stuff, he gave them a beaming smile and a thumbs up as he headed into the land of nod for the 48-hour-long sleep.


That was the longest two hours of my life, in tears and alone in the middle of the night in a quiet ICU, waiting for them to hook him up to the ventilator and seven pumps of drugs and other beeping monitors, to hear what was going on and see him again and it wasn’t until after midnight I was beside Simon, holding his hand, sat talking to the man I love, only now he couldn’t talk back as he was intubated and in an induced coma. I stayed until 6am, just sat there talking to him, willing the monitors to show the right signs of improvement.


We had had our last spoken conversation.


Did I know this at this point? Maybe deep down if I really thought about it.


Did I believe it? Hell no… he was fighting this. He was going to be back being cheeky and lippy in 48 hours’ time.


But our last conversation was totally normal. There was never anything left unsaid between us. We knew each other inside out and told each other ‘I love you’ many times every day. There was no contrived ‘we have to talk about this or that’ or ‘make plans’ it was just natural and for that I am so grateful. Our last conversations were just us being us.


Skip to now...


The last few weeks (or months even) I’ve dreaded this day, the first anniversary of the last time we spoke, and wondered how I’d get through it, but now it’s here I don’t dread it. I thought drinking and dancing and denial might be the way forward and I felt even more sad and in pain at the thought of this one day.


But, after plenty of self-care and thought I feel differently about anniversary dates now. (Another honest story for another day, probably in three weeks’ time when it’s the first anniversary of Simon’s death).


I’m not spending the day drinking, in denial and slumped in pain and sadness under a duvet. Instead I’ll be on ‘Mum’ duties watching Oliver play basketball matches, watching rugby on the TV, doing some yoga, reading, writing, conversing and having a Chinese meal with my son. Yes, I’ll be thinking of Simon and smiling and shedding tears at the occasional thought and memory, that’s my every day, but there will be no more sadness and pain than any other day. Today is just a date… today is another day in my life where I embrace grief and we co-exist happily, by choice.


I’m not scared of today. I’m not sad today just because of the fact this marks one year since I heard Simon’s voice speak to me. I’m simply grateful for every amazing conversation we had and that the last ones were so perfectly random and normal and full of love, jokes and laughter which makes me very fortunate and blessed.


My advice is to never be scared of what you should have said or the conversations you think you missed. Be open and honest and converse freely with the ones you love so there is never anything left unsaid and then you can be grateful for all the wonderful conversations you did share together.


Much Love

Tabby xxx


PS: Nine months after Simon died, I was sat on a plane watching a show I downloaded on Netflix where a character listened to a voicemail from their recently deceased father. It occurred to me in that moment I had voicemails on my phone from Simon and I had never once thought about listening to them. I could hear his voice talking to me again, I’d just not realised it. In hindsight, listening to them for the first time on a crowded plane several thousand feet in the air was not my wisest plan for self-dignity and respect… but I kept my shit together…just….and I haven’t listened to them again since. Maybe I will today with a smile and a lot of love.










Hospital life... tough but always smiles
Hospital life... tough but always smiles
even hooked up to treatment there was always  a smile
even hooked up to treatment there was always a smile

By tabbykerwin, Oct 5 2019 07:23AM

It’s a while since I’ve written properly and I remembered today that I need it as my therapy and counsel and being honest about my experiences with mental health and grief is so important for me and maybe it can be someone else’s self-help manual.


So, I’m writing my way out of a slump.


Not an anxiety ridden, black hole of sadness type slump; I’m not in that place, because actually life is pretty productive and good right now.


It’s more of a temporary ‘whilst everything is good in some ways, I just feel nothing and lying on the sofa with the cat is way more appealing’ type slump.


… and that’s the thing; quite a lot of the time during September I’ve just felt ‘nothing’. No feelings, opinions or cares; I just function. I function pretty well to be fair and this feeling never lasts full days, just an odd few minutes or maybe an hour or two.


But I’ve decided it’s pretty OK to feel this way. After all, what’s the saying? ‘it’s OK to not be OK’ and that’s 100% true, but we have the choice to do something about that and how we feel and I do make that choice, every day. Because this is a daily choice and something you have to work on every single day.


So, after a Summer of fun, why has September left me feeling so ‘meh’?


I’ve got a great grasp on my mental health these days and I’m mentally very fit and strong, but I’ll be honest, 11 months since Simon died, grief is trying to hit me round the head with a flipping huge baseball bat every day right now and it’s leaving me battered and exhausted.


Why now you fucker? (Excuse the sweary language, but you know, this is life and reality and I’m not always that good in real life of leaving out the expletives and I’m trying to keep this real!)


I’ll tell you why, because grief is ALWAYS there, it never goes away, you just choose to embrace it or be overwhelmed by it and I choose to embrace it. But like an annoying child (not mine, he’s quite cool), some days it can be really demanding and distracting.


But the issue is not grief itself, but how other people deal with your grief. After 10 months of doing just fine and good, it’s seemingly not acceptable to then suddenly be struggling because other people don’t know how to respond. Their best responses being ‘oh, I thought you were doing OK’ or ‘it’s been nearly a year now, shouldn’t you be over it’ (don’t get me started… that’s a whole other blog for another day). In fact, I’ll be honest with you, the level of acceptance from many people expires come the funeral; once that’s over and everyone moves on with their lives, you’re expected to ‘crack on’ – but all you are is stuck or lost whilst the world moves along around you.


Over the last 11 months life has moved along quite well in all honesty; I’ve made it about experiences, living life and doing what makes me happy, putting myself first along the way.


However, what has been harder to muster enthusiasm for has been work and business; the business Simon and I set-up together. Our “baby” if you like. But I did. After a great chat with a friend I felt so inspired again to work and got back into it and instantly started achieving some great things after many months of coasting and doing the MEDs; minimum effective dose.


I had a reason to function every day workwise and a productive plan and getting my work game back on was brilliant, creative and fun. For the first time I felt like I could go it alone with the business, with the support of some rather epic people who are coming on board with their many talents.


But it was a double-edged sword…It’s great to feel fully functioning workwise again and it’s been one hell of a week of creating valuable content and achieving, but it made me feel so lonely and lost…cue the slump…


Why? well, let’s get something straight, I’m not lonely, far from it, I have great friends (thank goodness because family is not my thing and mostly they couldn’t care less about me) and I actually am genuinely quite OK with the single lifestyle (which is a great thing as that’s definitely not changing any year soon! No, it is not ‘time to move on’ as suggested by some… again, another blog for another day!).


It’s that feeling of being alone in what I do that’s hitting me hard. Not having the person there who gave me confidence to do things, who was my champion, my supporter in everything good and bad, the person who shared it all with me, who listened, who kissed and hugged me when I had a great idea, and kissed and hugged me when I had an equally shit one and advised it might not work out!


I’m alone without my ‘person’ – he is irreplaceable, and that is so hard and seems to be hitting harder the longer time goes on, but the longer it goes on, the more seemingly unacceptable it is to feel that way, so you just crack on with it all regardless. Put the smile on, leave the emotions packed away and feel…nothing.


That’s why I’ve decided it’s perfectly OK to feel that way when you’re at home alone and by allowing myself that ‘nothing’ time some days, OK most days when I’m home alone (which is, err, every day!), the slumps and sadness and episodes are much shorter lived by having ‘nothing’ time than if I try to fight them.


I also know that whilst Simon was my person who gave me confidence and support and love, he actually left me with all the skills to do that for myself without him being physically there. I realised that when he was ill and I didn’t spiral into a deep anxiety ridden depression but got stronger and stronger. I can be my own champion and be proud of myself. I just have to remind myself of that every moment of every day, trust it, live it and have the confidence in myself and what I do and NOT let the opinions of others, be it personally or professionally, get to me. I know where that path leads to and I’m not in that place nor have any plans to be. It’s an ongoing maintenance plan though.


Grief is a funny thing. One moment you can be absolutely fine, 30 seconds later you can be in uncontrollable tears and 90 seconds after that you’re great and laughing again. This actually happened a few weeks ago when I was out walking. The feeling was overwhelming of breathlessness and tears, but literally 90 seconds later it was fine again. I just went with it and let it do its thing. It’s weird, it’s unexplainable, it’s unique to every individual and often it’s in public! There is no right or wrong or timescale to grief… it’s yours to own and embrace. But you have to make that choice to embrace it. I’m making that choice, irrespective of how hard it is. I can do hard, even by myself.


I am in no doubts that the next few weeks are going to be horrendously tough though, but I’m braced and ready. On the 19th October, it will be 12 months since the last time Simon and I spoke; the day he thought he was coming home after fighting another infection, but in fact he ended up in ICU, where he stayed for 3 weeks. I thought about handling this through a lot of drinking, mindless chat and 80s power ballads. I have since re-assessed this and decided a lot of drink is not the answer as the hangover is way worse than anything else I may feel and alcohol is rarely the answer (I say this after a recent drinking experience where I let loose and learned valuable lessons… there will be no repeats; I think that was the blow out I needed! Hanks to those who were a part of it and sorry to those that saw the rough looking aftermath… that was not grief you saw… it was tears of hangover!).


Then I have to tackle my birthday on the 22nd October. The last two have been utter shite… two years ago I celebrated my 40th with a great weekend with friends, but at that time I was faking it (albeit badly) and spiralling into a horrendous anxiety ridden black hole that lasted 5 months and left me feeling number and…nothing. Aside from the tears and sadness of having my cat put down the day after my birthday. Bizarrely, that slump started in September too.


Last year’s birthday sucked big style. Simon was in ICU in a coma, my heart was breaking and it was the day I told the world of Simon’s illness and the current state of play asking for all the positive vibes; it was hell as only a very few people knew until then. Birthday greetings were replaced with messages of upset, fear and helplessness.


This year I will be a 42-year-old widow (f*cking hate that word: again, another blog for another day) and single parent who also treats their cat like a human! She is, deal with it! I will definitely spend my birthday alone and doing what I need and want… which will most likely include that much needed ‘nothing’ time and a bloody great massage from Laura at Le Petit Spa who has magic hands.


Then, in a few weeks on 7th November, it will be the first anniversary of Simon’s death. How the hell did that come round so fast, yet feel so long ago that he was sat here with me joking? It’s hard to compute. But I’m determined to not be sad to the point it breaks me. I will be sad every day, but every day I will choose to do good too and be productive. I will turn sad days into positive ones. I will celebrate Simon’s life with friends and release a CD of his musical legacy to live on forever and raise funds for a fantastic cause of The Bexley Wing where Simon was treated.


What I do know is that I will have sadness every day for the rest of my life. However, the thing people forget about sadness and grief, is that they can very happily co-exist with possibility, productivity, performance and good if you let them, and I both let them and actively encourage them to co-exist with me every day.


Most of all, I’ll continue to be honest and open and kind to myself and with others. I know that my coping mechanisms of writing and starting awkward conversations can help others going through things and for those who don’t understand that and want to judge or criticise me for that, or for talking about Simon and keeping his memory alive (and no, this does not mean I’m un-hinged or struggling) then I’m genuinely pleased you’ve never had to go through something so traumatic that means you can’t empathise with me or my words, but when there comes a day that you can and you don’t judge me anymore, I really hope my words and honesty can resonate with and support you too.


In the meantime, you’ll find me living my life, striving for improvement, taking every experience that fills me with joy, talking and writing to help others and having quite a bit of ‘nothing’ time to keep my head in check.


Much love

Tabby xxx

#createmyhappy


PS: Just by writing this the slump has gone. Writing worked! Thanks for reading.




By tabbykerwin, Jun 13 2019 08:41AM


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." ‘The Man in the Arena’ – Theodore Roosevelt (23rd April 1910)


‘The Man in the Arena’ was to become one of former US President Roosevelt’s most famous speeches and it still resonates as much today as it did when he gave it in 1910.


But for me, it has resonated more, both personally and professionally, in the last few weeks than it ever previously has done.


Let me break it down as to why…


In the past few weeks I’ve been commented on behind my back (yes, it always filters back!) as not coping, crazy and some other rather more critical phrases following the death of my husband Simon just seven months ago.


This has been born out of the fact that, quite often, on social media I will post pictures, memories and thoughts of Simon, grief and my life and work, which revolves so much around Simon, being as we set-up our business together and one of the businesses, our publishing house, solely hinges on his musical legacy and work.


Sometimes, these are also more than once a day… oh the shame!


But here’s the thing…and I don’t expect half of you to understand, but try, or at least empathise if you can’t understand.


This does not mean I’m struggling, crazy, in need of help, incapable of doing my professional jobs, or anything else you might like to say… It means I am embracing grief, not being overwhelmed by it and choosing happiness.


Likewise, if you comment on something and it displays a lack of kindness or subtlety, I will be quite defensive (and slightly sarcastic!); again, not because I’ve lost the plot, but purely because I won’t tolerate unkindness, humiliation or bullying from anyone. Surely that’s not exclusive to someone living or in others’ words ‘struggling’ with grief?


I currently have around 1726 Facebook friends (give or take as my honesty loses and gains people along the way or I get rid of a few!) and when I post on social media I do not do so expecting a response from anybody; I do it because it is my right, right for me, my life and my honesty and often it resonates with many who choose to contact me privately. For me, it is not about public ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’


Of those approximately 1726 people I can count on two hands the number who check-in with me regularly as real friends to see how I am.


A vast majority of those 1726 know me from many years ago. Those I know from school and university years know me… anybody who has been my real friend over the last 18 months knows me… anyone who is basing their knowledge of me from about 2005 to 2018 does not know the real me... honestly, you really don’t! They know someone who was steeped in anxiety and living in a very dark place in their mind. Someone who went to some really difficult places but all the time was hiding it from you.


But the person who stands here writing today is the happiest version of myself even when I’m living with grief.


How and why?


I’ve not been afraid to seek advice and learn and change and to share my story with others.


Simon saved me when we were friends and then married. He gave me the self-confidence and skills to be me, to not worry about other people’s opinions, to strive to always learn, develop and change. He taught me to be honest and that showing my vulnerabilities is OK. It was really only once he died that I realised what he’d done for me. He’d made me focus on myself to get strong. Strong enough to deal with anything, including grief. He gave me the ultimate gift of giving me myself back.


That’s why now I’m dedicated to putting myself and mental health awareness ahead of everything I do in my personal and professional life. Kindness costs nothing, but it changes everything. If I’m writing, working with clients, running events, mentoring, teaching, conducting or adjudicating it all comes from a place where my own and others’ mental wellbeing comes first and the words come from a place of kindness.


I am proud to be me, to be honest about my thoughts, emotions, successes and vulnerabilities and so I will share these thoughts and feelings, and if my story resonates with just one person, then it is a story worth sharing.


But vulnerability is only vulnerability when it has boundaries, hence most of you will never know everything about me or what’s going on in my life.


Talking about grief is a taboo subject; it shouldn’t be.


Talking about mental health is a taboo subject; it shouldn’t be.


I refuse to let them be taboo anymore and I will share my experiences to show that whilst anxiety, grief and other mental wellbeing issues are the worst things in your life, they can help you be the best version of you in your life.


If you want to comment on me and my mental status (or anyone else as the same applies to anyone whose social media feed you might follow), talk TO me, not ABOUT me. If you’re genuinely concerned for my welfare message me. Ask me HOW I am, find out WHO I am and then you’ll actually see I’m really good and posting about Simon is a celebration and a strength, and not a sign of weakness and craziness. Don’t judge me on your assumption of the person you think you know. I have changed; I am continually changing and I’m using my personal experiences to live my life and develop my professional life.


I am the man in the arena.


… and we can all be the man in the arena if we are vulnerable, honest and brave and I will treat you as the ‘doer of deeds’ also.


Much Love

Tabby xxx








Whit Friday Marches with my lovely friend Kathryn... in the rain!
Whit Friday Marches with my lovely friend Kathryn... in the rain!
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