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, 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!

By tabbykerwin, May 16 2019 08:05AM

This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and this year the focus is on body image. I don't know about you, but I have had a constant internal battle with my body image; my perception of my own image, my desires for something different, my understanding of how people see me and my realisation of how no-one actually cares. There is only really YOU judging you.


I originally penned this blog 12 months ago and since then, I've cared for Simon with cancer, embraced grief following his death, piled on more weight, stopped focussing on me, started to lapse into being appalled by my own body, even though I was staying fit and training for the London Marathon and starting to concern myself with what others might think of my body image.


On Boxing Day 2018, just 6 weeks after Simon died, I started doing the right things again for my body. But I'll be honest, up until a few weeks ago, whilst I'd lost around 7 inches around my waist and a bit of weight, marathon training was hard and I hate the photos of me from that day. So, the day after the London Marathon, I vowed to myself to take on my biggest challenge yet; It is 'Challenge Me.' I'm putting myself, my welfare, my wellbeing, my health, my fitness ahead of everything because making myself strong makes me stronger for my son, others and my business and a few weeks in I'm seeing and feeling changes and back to being able to look in a mirror and find something positive each day.


But then I remembered what I already knew and had written about previously.... no-one actually cares and their opinions on my body image don't concern me. It just took a gentle shove and putting myseld first to remind me and for goodness sake, I ran a marathon last month so it's just another thing to be grateful tor my body for.


So, embrace your body image; it is unique and yours and marvelous and put yourself first to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy and start being grateful for all your body gets you through.


Enjoy the read...


****************


Are you sick of lacking self-confidence?


Do you constantly worry that people are looking and judging you based on your size, shape, weight or fashion choices?


It’s crippling isn’t it? The anxiety and worry of what other people think about you or what they might be saying?


I’ve never been ‘skinny mini’ and the weight / size battle has been a constant one throughout my life. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t conscious of it and when it gets to Summer, well, that’s just a whole host of extra emotional baggage to deal with when it comes to considering wearing a swimsuit in public!


I, like many others I know have worked their way through the plethora of diets, advice and scientific surveys which tell you how to be thinner and I’ve listened to doctors babble on TV about BMIs and an early death if you don’t lose weight and had PTs shout at me daily for not losing weight, but you know what, if you weren’t sad enough about how you felt before, they all make you feel a whole lot worse due to the stress of trying to conform to the medical and social idyll. If your confidence wasn’t shot before, it sure as hell is now!


However, I had a eureka moment recently and it happened when I was in at a spa in Italy. Preparing to go, I went into the usual internal, personal meltdown of wanting to cover up because I was ashamed of my body (and not happy how I looked… ever …. wearing anything … and in honesty the end of 2017 was so flipping horrid I’d managed to pile a nice stash of weight on…FFS! Cue feeling even more miserable about myself!), but I got my sh*t together and off we went to the spa.


It was a gorgeous day and lots of people were lying around the outdoor thermal pools. I went to the changing room, got changed, felt unbearably self-conscious as ever, covered up my lower half with a sarong (jeez I hate my legs!) and headed to the poolside.


There’s something about being in Italy that always makes me feel happy, content and tranquil and the sunshine always helps with this. Maybe not just the sunshine but the gallons of water I actually drink when I’m there because it’s so warm! That’s just a healthier thing to do. Anyway, I digress. I popped in and out of pools being very self-aware and conscious of my body and size until it suddenly occurred to me that absolutely no-one was looking at me, no-one cared what size I was, there were so many people of all shapes and sizes just enjoying themselves, smiling at each other and chatting and that was it. The only person worried about what I looked like was me, that’s it, only me. No-one else had an interest at all.


This got me thinking, all this time I’ve been so hung up on what others think of me and worried they’re commenting on me, who I am and what I do and actually they’re really not that interested in me at all (apart from the actual nasty, hurtful people who are commenting and judging but they’re a whole other petty breed of people I need never to worry about because they’re still doing the same things, the same way whilst my life has moved on for the better and happier… but that’s another story for another day!).


This was a massive moment for me; the realisation the only person holding me back from being happy and healthy was me because I was so sure I was being judged by either people I know or strangers or those trying to make us conform to being the same size of skinny to tick the ‘this is what height and weight ratio you should be or you’re failing at life’ box.


The difference this realisation has made is huge. It’s made me happier because I’m not trying to compete or be something I’m not, I’m not continually feeling like a failure because I don’t lose weight and I’m not wasting time and energy worrying about something that doesn’t concern me at all ie. the opinion of others.


What it has made me do is reduce stress, take it easier on myself, make me happier and healthier because now I focus on a balance of getting fitter and eating and drinking the things I love (glass of red anyone?). It’s also made me not care about what size a label says and enjoy wearing something that makes me feel confident rather than stressing it’s not a size 10!


This has also extended to my confidence in my work too. Whilst I’ve been successful and constantly developing for a long time, I’ve been fighting demons of how other people judge me and what I do, and how they comment on it both publicly and behind my back has been both hurtful and crippling, making me suffer with stress, anxiety and worse (and yes, many of them actually were commenting…publicly… it wasn’t always in my head); but not anymore. That one small realisation that day at that spa and developing those positive thoughts has given me a whole new happier and healthier mindset to develop and flourish and most of all, have confidence in myself and what I am capable of.


Moral of the story? No one cares, other people’s opinions don’t concern you and if they are talking about you it’s usually out of jealousy or boredom. Love what you do and how you do it and most importantly, love yourself; if you can’t do that, how can anyone else?


Get your mindset right on this and you’ll be on a solid path to happiness.


Much Love

Tabby xxx


#createmyhappy



Summer 2017 in Italy... one of my happiest and most confident
Summer 2017 in Italy... one of my happiest and most confident
Our honeymoon Part 1 in May 2016 when I felt happy in the sun
Our honeymoon Part 1 in May 2016 when I felt happy in the sun
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