Time: An Instagram Filter for Life?

Forth Trimester
Ft: Fourth Trimester Magazine

Sugarcoating Life

Last March I wrote a blog post about my experience of overcoming cancer in 2011 and my feelings towards it now when I look back. Well, recently I’ve been thinking even more about it.

However, this time I’ve been trying to remember the true reality of my situation. I can’t help but think that time somehow filters the truth, the harder aspects of an experience. Hindsight sugarcoats what was a truly terrifying time of my life.

I can only liken it to how we look back on our days with our first newborn. We remember all the love, sleepy cuddles and (in my case) the box sets, maybe over time we filter out the memories from the nights where we just couldn’t get that little baby to stop crying and settle. The 3am’s when we’d have a wee cry ourselves – purely from exhaustion… Time is basically like Instagram’s Valencia filter.

Do we do this in all aspects of our lives? Maybe it’s ultimately for the best? It enables us to move on, retain our fond memories and maintain a positive outlook. What is it they say? – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? However, I wonder if it’s sometimes worth reminding ourselves of the hard days to give ourselves some perspective, and after all, we survived them, didn’t we?

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I’ve been thinking about how we help people that are currently in the throws of those hard days. As my friend so eloquently put it the other day – “those that are wading through treacle” – whether it be parenthood or something else – and thinking about the advice I offer them.

I have talked about the positive outlook I tried to adopt throughout my cancer treatment (I’d say “journey”, but I still kinda hate that word), but it’s not completely realistic, is it? Of course now, years down the line, I say things like “the whole experience really changed me for the better” but, in reality, life would have been a hell of a lot easier if it hadn’t happened. At the time, that positive outlook wasn’t always sustainable – it didn’t stop me worrying and feeling truly terrified of what lay ahead, whether it be weeks, months or years down the line… or in the darkest times, wondering if I’d even have years.

The people around you in your time of need always mean well, but let’s face it, there ain’t a manual. No-one knows what to say, and most of the time I didn’t know what I wanted them to say anyway. It was the blind leading the blind and unchartered territory for everyone involved.

And so, everyone meant well when they gave positive affirmations like –

“you just have to stay positive”

“knowledge is power, now you know what you’re facing, you’ll beat it”

“you’re going to be ok”

“stay strong”

… And 90% of the time that’s exactly what I needed to hear, to reinforce some positivity. However, it was not always what I needed.

Ft: Fourth Trimester Magazine

Sharing The Burden

Sometimes we need to just be sad and allow those scary feelings to creep in – and share them. Let someone else pick up even just a small piece of that burden, after all, you’re living with that as a reality. It’s the least they can do!

Same in parenthood, isn’t it? You know when things are tough that they’ll get better – “this too shall pass” and all that – but sometimes you just want to have a moan and a cry about it, and it doesn’t make you less than the next mother. Doesn’t make you less of a parent or a Negative Nancy. We’re all human.

It’s just made me think – Next time someone shares with me the experience that’s getting them down, or a struggle that they face, I will bite my tongue and fight the urge to offer a positive affirmation in the first instance. Instead, I’ll encourage them to offload some of their mental burden onto me. Tell them it’s ok not to be ok. I truly believe in the power of a positive mental attitude. I know it helped me to deal with my situation and brought me through the other side knowing that I can deal with most things life might throw at me in the future… BUT, no one can harness that positivity 24 hours a day, 100% of the time. And that’s ok.

Lou x

Maid Of The Forth

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

So, on the day after the sunniest May Bank Holiday on record we took a trip on the Maid of the Forth to Inchcolm Island. Of course, this is Scotland, so it rained all day, but we had such a great adventure regardless!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

The Crossing

The Maid of the Forth sets sail from Hawes Pier in South Queensferry and we opted for the 3 hour tour with a landing on Inchcolm Island… which I didn’t even know existed until I read about it on their website!

The ferry sets sail from beside the Forth Rail Bridge and Oscar was losing his mind watching all the “Choo choos” cross it before we set sail, ice creams in hand.

The sailing to Inchcolm Island is a leisurely 35 minutes which was perfect for keeping a toddler engaged – not too long! On the way there we got to see some of the other islands of the Forth and hear about the history of them which for some was quite colourful – like Inchgarvie Island that features a prison, I mean, that basically the Alcatraz of Edinburgh, right? We were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a huge group of seals on ‘The Haystack’ next to Inchcolm, Robin and Oscar sprinted up tot he top deck to get the best view.

When Oscar was born we were living in a flat in Leith overlooking the Firth of Forth, so for us, it was really interesting to hear about all the little islands that we used to be able to see from our flat!

When the boat arrives at Inchcolm, those with passes for ‘landing’ can depart, otherwise the ferry heads back around the island and continues it’s tour (I think the wonderful Karen did this trip, and you can see her blog here – note the weather on the day she went was A LOT better – lucky sod!)

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

The Island

We chose to include the island landing for our trip (despite the weather) where you get to spend around 1hr 45 minutes there, which is ample time to take it all in. Inchcolm Island itself is fab and the Abbey was brilliant for exploring – lots of hidden rooms and staircases to scout while it rained outside (Scotland, innit?).

Then, when the weather cleared for half an hour we headed down to the beach to skim some stones. If it had been nicer day, the beach would have been perfect for a picnic and we could easily have spent the day there, the views are amazing!

Amenities wise, there’s a small gift shop with the usual souvenirs and toilets but no cafe, so best to take a packed lunch and invaluable toddler snacks with you, or buy some on the boat to take ashore!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

Toddler Friendly

As the weather got a little worse, it was time to head back to the boat for the return journey. While we opted to take Scout in the carrier for the day (she sleeps better this way), those with prams were helped onto the boat by the crew who couldn’t have been more helpful!

The sailing back to harbour took us under all three of the Forth Crossings before we docked back at Hawes Pier with a completely exhausted toddler that couldn’t stop talking about boats and castles and a baby asleep in the carrier – so all in all, a success!

Funnily enough, when I wrote my Adventure List: Part II back at the beginning of the year, this trip was one of the suggestions that cropped up and I don’t doubt that we’ll end up back there in summer armed with a bucket and spade and a picnic! If you have an inquisitive toddler (is there such thing as a toddler that isn’t inquisitive) or older kids that love to explore, then it’s a great day out, with a little bit of everything thrown in – a huge thank you to Maid of the Forth for inviting us along!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh