To dance like no-one is watching....

There's been so much going on here, I just have not had time to update my blog, as always though I walk around with my head brimming with words and ideas.  It's just that the paid-for words have to take precedence over my own personal musings!

The most important news is that we hit the Kickstarter target for my new children's book "Goodbye Daisy".  It's all systems go now and I'm delighted to be working with both Hashtag Press and the supremely talented illustrator Helen Braid to turn this very important dream into reality.  I want to make sure that when a child with a learning disability dies, the friends they leave behind have a book that will help them with the feelings of grief and loss that they struggle with.  At the moment publication is pencilled in for late autumn.  The sad fact is that children with additional needs are more likely to die during the winter months so it was important for me that this book was available in time.

For those who haven't seen the cover reveal on my social media channels, here it is

front cover of the book Goodbye Daisy showing a picture of daisy smiling while sat in her wheelchair with her arms outstretched

I really feel that Helen has captured Daisy's joy and determination!  The book will be available for pre-order in September, I will also be setting up a Goodbye Daisy website listing resources and support available for parents, carers and professionals supporting a learning disabled child through grief.

I have also been busy with lots of other family-related stuff.  In fact 2018 feels like a turning point, a new chapter for our family.  Xanthe has just finished her A levels and will be off to Film School to begin the first steps of her dream to be an oscar-wining cinematographer.  Jules will start a media course in a new college in  September and Theo is waiting for his security clearance to start a very exciting high profile job in the Civil Service.

And me?  Well not only did I go back to work part-time in January, last month I celebrated 50 years on this planet.

I'm really excited about turning 50.  It's really just a number after all.  In my head I'm still only 19, the age I was the year before I met Andy.  I'm riddled with imposter syndrome, self doubt and teenage awkwardness just as I was at that age, but now I have decades of experience under my belt and life has given me resilience that just did not know I had.

My 50th birthday has marked the start of a new chapter in my journey.  I feel like I'm surfacing, breathing in the air again, starting to embrace life.  I'm discovering who I am now, after everything that has happened.  We have created a tight family unit once again, just me, Theo, Xanthe and Jules, each setting out into the world, determined to keep moving forward.

I have been so reluctant to close the chapter on my life before, as Andy's wife, as Daisy's mum, but I have realised that I will always be those things, they are part of my story, now it's time for me to continue that story.

I did not plan to reach my 50th year on my own, widowed and bereaved, but as always it is what it is.  I am sad that many of my hopes and dreams, our hopes and dreams, have been shattered but it doesn't mean I can't still have hopes and dreams and begin to create yet another new normal.

With the support of the children, and my reassurance that it is never about replacing their dad, I have tentatively dipped my toe into the world of dating again.  That's a story in itself and I'll leave it there for now.  The world has changed hugely since I was 20 and so have the rules of dating, it's been another steep learning curve that I didn't anticipate I would ever face again.

I have been making myself go out more and discovering that the more I make the effort to socialise the more I enjoy it.  I have been to parties on my own, I've been to gigs, I'm having fun.  I'm rediscovering Stephanie, the person who was always part of this story.

I had my first tattoo last week.  I have planned it for a long time.  I needed to do something to hold Andy and Daisy with me wherever I went so that they would remain part of me.  I visited a wonderful artist in Brighton and she created the most beautiful work of art for me; a scottish thistle, a daisy and  a sprig of rosemary for remembrance.  I'm over the moon with it....

Steph's tattoo on her left forearm it's a black thistle, daisy and a sprig of rosemary

Now I will always carry them with me.

Of course, as you would expect, I celebrated my birthday in style, a whole weekend affair.  We had a party in central London with friends and family coming in from all over.  We danced, laughed, ate and drank and the next day there was brunch at my house with even more of the same.

At my party I barely drank, I was too busy talking but mainly I was dancing.  Dancing like no-one was watching!

I have sad days, every day is an effort but I have things to look forward too, Andy and Daisy's legacies are strong, they gave me strength, for these days without them.  I tell their stories.  I will always tell their stories.

I will try and continue to dance like no-one is watching.

Steph leaning on the bar at her party, she's wearing a gold sequin dress and has flowers in her hair

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