The sound of silence : why noise is bad for you

effectsofnoiseI have a confession.

I struggle to cope with noise.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the whole nightclub/pub thing and even played musical instruments in orchestras but, over recent years, I have found it increasingly difficult to cope with ‘prolonged’ noise. I also find places where there is a cacophony of noise difficult too.

When I am in a noisy environment I can literally feel my blood pressure rising – it’s like a kind of panic almost – and the need to escape the noise is overwhelming. I often dream of being on an isolated island with just the cat for company (!) which until I read this article I figured it was all a part of me getting old – apparently not – yet I am not sure if the article has made me feel better or worse about my situation.

The article (How noise can make you fat, stressed and more likely to have a stroke…) featured in the Daily Mail online (31/10/16) quotes from the World Health Organisation:

“…noise pollution is one of the most pressing threats to public health, second only to air pollution, and responsible for a range of conditions from stress and sleep problems to heart disease and strokes — it can even make us fat.”


Evidently our bodies respond to noise by triggering the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. Our body will begin to produce several stress hormones and, if the noise is prolonged, eventually our bodies will start to produce cortisol which is a stress hormone that can negatively affect health. The article states several risks from this such as increased blood pressure, risk of stroke, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and sleep problems.

I must admit that although I knew I was stressed by noise, I had no idea that it could pose a risk to my health but I guess it follows that if I am stressed then my blood pressure will rise and I know that’s not a good thing.


Image courtesy of digital art via

In my personal circumstances it is impossible to live without noise. My youngest son is severely autistic (amongst other conditions) and to him, noise is a stimuli. He makes as much noise as is humanly possible for as long as possible, which I know has not helped my situation.

Clearly there is little that I can do to stop the noise created by my son, however, the article does suggest simple changes such as achieving a period of ‘quiet time’ each day – even ten minutes can be beneficial, it says. There was one other basic piece of advice which I have followed too, one which again I had given absolutely no thought to. I have changed the notification tone on my phone and tablet. I had a rather adorable old-fashioned ‘choo choo’ noise selected for email notifications, however, it was quite loud. Now I have changed this to a small ‘tweet’ sound, a bit like that of a bird, which, given my desire to be out in the wilds, is actually much more preferable.

For me it was an interesting read, not least because it means that I do genuinely have a reason for struggling with my tolerance to noise which has nothing to do with getting old. I know of some writers who cannot write unless they are accompanied by the radio or their favourite music but I am not one of those. I have realised that I really need my ‘quiet time’ and my ‘tweet tweet’ noise to keep my stress levels lowered and, if I can do this then I won’t be stifling my creativity – another potential side effect of too much exposure to noise.


My only regret is that it is no longer the 1980’s because if it was, I could get away with wearing pink, fluffy ear muffs… sigh…

What about you? Can any of you relate to my struggle with noise?






What was your defining moment?

Happy people on nature, sun, grass and butterflies(Where a ‘defining moment’ is: A moment in time when we suddenly realise something about ourselves or our lives; a time when we make a decision to follow a certain path or divert to a different course; a ‘lightbulb’ moment; a time when things change, usually for the better; a moment when you feel inexplicably supported or guided)


Often, our ‘defining’ moment can be something that seems relatively insignificant at the time and it is only with hindsight that we can identify the moment as such. This is certainly true of my writing-related defining moment which occurred a couple of years or so ago.

At the time I had a part-time job in the local primary school as a cleaner. My role included the much coveted job of cleaning three sets of children’s toilets and it was whilst I was indulging myself in this most pleasurable pastime that I received the text message. It was from my sister.

Hi, (it said). Hope you’re well? OMG, I’ve just met the Prime Minister and I’ve been interviewed for the tele. I’ll be on the six o’clock news tonight! xx

I kid you not. I was stood, toilet brush in hand, reading a text message from my sister telling me that she had met one of the most powerful men in the country and that she was about to be broadcast nationwide. And I had a toilet brush in my hand.


The parallel between our differing situations was not lost on me at the time, however, I didn’t realise how much of an impact this moment would have on my life moving forwards. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that if I wanted my story to be different, I was the only person that had the power to change it. Not that there is anything wrong with cleaning toilets, but I knew in my heart that it was not what I was destined to do.

That text, over the years that followed, gave me the incentive to take control of my destiny in a much more powerful way and my decision to self-publish in January is a culmination of that text. So, whilst I laughed at the sheer inequality of it at the time, now I recognise it as a pivotal moment in my life for it was that text that taught me such a valuable lesson: I was and am the only one with the power to change my life. Simple.

So now I am taking control and I am changing my life – for better or for worse. I am pushing on with my dream.

Do you have a defining moment?




Who’d want me as their Mum?

Yesterday I received a text message from my son, only I didn’t realise it was from my son until a full ten minutes later – largely because I was busy, my phone was over the other side of the room and I was challenging myself to see how long I could ignore it.

When I admitted defeat and retrieved my phone, this is what the message said:

Can u bring in hw (homework) i stupidly forgot on desk ict folder and maths shape meet u in reception sorry thanks

Aside from my instant desire to correct every grammar and punctuation error, three thoughts went flashing through my head:

  1. No way. I told you I was not going to bring your homework in ever again. You have forgotten it – take the consequences.
  2. Ah, the sun is shining, I’m in a good mood and he did say sorry – can I be that mean?
  3. Crikey. He sent that ten minutes ago which means I have less than five minutes to get it there before the end of break.

Now, I don’t know about anyone else but when I am working from home, I dress for comfort. Comfort (because I am still a long way off a svelte 5k runner’s physique) generally means jogging trousers, oversized t-shirt and brightly patterned socks. I figure that my husband married me for better or worse, the postman sees people wearing a lot less and if there’s a fire, all I’ll be concerned about is grabbing the cat. Having to take my son’s homework into school (ie. being seen out in public) does not usually come into the equation.


Courtesy of nenetus via

In the few moments that I had to get out of the door I decided that I could make my appearance somewhat acceptable by wearing my running trainers. That way I could be mistaken for one of those ever fit parents who had just finished an energetic workout. The only problem with this theory was that my running trainers were in the washing machine (courtesy of my ‘plod’ yesterday along a muddy path). That left me with dress shoes or, what can only be described as unisex, utilitarian clodhopper boots (walking boots if you want to be technical). With no other choice I donned the boots and prayed that my son had enough common sense to wait at the school gate – that way my foray into the public world would be limited and unlikely to be witnessed. What I swiftly remembered, however, as I pulled up to the school gate was that one thing my son lacks in abundance, is common sense. Of course he was not standing at the school gate. There was nothing for it but to walk into the reception area and leave his homework there.

Holding my head high I made the journey, all the while pretending that I was proud of how I looked. After all, doesn’t every mother wear clodhopper boots, grey jogging trousers and a bright blue t-shirt that proclaims the last (and only) 5k race she has ever run? And doesn’t everyone leave their hair to dry naturally in an odd, last been tamed two months ago, style?

Stuart Miles 6

via Stuart Miles @

Upon returning home I took stock of my situation. Having realised a long time ago that I was never going to be a trendy Mum I began to wonder, now that my eldest son is a teenager, if I ought to be representing him in a more socially acceptable manner?

I considered this for a full five minutes (?) and then decided that despite my appearance, a Mum is generally uncool at this age regardless. What was the point, I argued, in getting out of bed earlier to actually dry my hair, just in case he happened to forget his homework again?

Needless to say that today sees me wearing the same ‘comfortable’ attire – there is, however, a slight difference. I am no longer challenging myself to leave my phone if it beeps. The second a message arrives I am onto it. After all, as I did discover yesterday, five minutes to get from here to acceptable public persona is just not quite long enough!









I’ll do it tomorrow…

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been here – 7 months according to my stats – which I must admit was never the plan. Unfortunately, in many respects, I am one of life’s procrastinators and am fond of saying that I will do things tomorrow – yet we all know that tomorrow never comes.


debspoons via

The only area in my life about which I do not procrastinate is writing. I have, although the evidence on this blog would suggest otherwise, been very busy in my little writing world and have experienced some publishing success. I have also submitted my first fiction novel to a competition and just yesterday sent a proposal for my first non-fiction novel to a publisher. Writing does, and will always, continue to be my passion, but what of the other things I promised to do tomorrow?

Well, this blog is one and look how that turned out. I have however decided that I am going to use this blog as part of my ‘write something every day’ discipline. It may be that no one reads it, but that’s okay. The point of writing something every day is not necessarily to gain readers but to hone your writing skills and, if typing on here on a regular basis does that, then who am I to complain?

I have also finally done something else that I planned to do ‘tomorrow’, and that’s try to work on my overall fitness. My husband (who I am sure is currently having a mid-life crisis) has signed up to do the 10-mile Great South Run so I, feeling desperately unfit, have signed up for the 5k version. On the basis that I have paid the entry fee there is no going back, so those who live local to me are now being rewarded with the rather unflattering sight of me plodding (because I can’t call it running yet) along the pavements.


I think this might be pushing it!

Maybe dusting off this blog will help with my writing and maybe I’ll achieve my goal of running 5k in a relatively respectable time, but even if I don’t achieve either then that’s okay. Finally I’ve stopped saying ‘I’ll do that tomorrow’ and, in terms of my future goals and career, that can only be a positive thing.





And so it begins…

Special Announcement ImageI have to say, this is probably one of the most surreal things I have done in a long time. I have just created a whole new blog and have started talking to myself all over again because right now I have zero followers. Diddly squat.

You see, I used to have a blog, well in fact, I still do – a very successful blog by the name of Jade’s Jungle, however I have a confession to make. Jade was not real. She was my pen name, someone who was brave enough to put herself out there at a time when I was not. This blog though – this is the real me.

Why now? Why not carry on as Jade?

The best way to answer that really, is to tell you that I decided it was time to spread my wings and to show the world who I really was. It was something that eventually just felt right and even though my goals are exactly the same, I am no longer hiding behind my pseudonym. I am braving the world by myself. I didn’t have the confidence or the courage to put my writing, my blog, my novels out there and stand tall as me – and that is something that I have now, three years later, found.

If there is one thing that I have learned during my time with Jade, it is that the key to anything in life is to be yourself. I have realised that I spent so much time trying to do or say what I thought I should, rather than just actually, being me. And in that respect this blog is a completely new start.


Of course it is a platform for my writing in the same way that Jade’s Jungle was and of course, it is a place for me to share my thoughts but I want it to be so much more than that. Having spent the last three years writing, battling the lows, celebrating the highs, I am finally ready to be completely proud of who I am. And that is what this blog is all about.

And for anyone reading this who loved Jade… I hope that you can forgive me and if you could see your way clear to supporting me here, then that would truly mean the world.

Thanks for reading,

Love A x