On a break

From the moment I first laid eyes on you I wanted you. I admired you from afar for a while, but I knew that eventually I just had to have you in my life. When you were finally mine, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

I fell completely in love, I wanted to spend every waking hour with you. You inspired me, you made me want to be a better person, to achieve the impossible. I told everyone about you, how good you made me feel, how you had changed my life.

The first year was amazing but recently, over the last couple of months, my feelings have changed. Out of nowhere I have begun to resent you. You make me feel trapped, I can’t leave the house without you. Your constant messages annoy me, your demands tire me. You have started to make me feel bad about myself, like I’m not good enough anymore. I want to be free, I want to break the shackles. So I am sorry to say this but I think it’s time we take a break dear Fitbit, I can’t say for how long, maybe a week, maybe forever.

Micro Adventures

  

I love my daddy and my daddy loves me,

He takes me on micro adventures to see,

The wondrous joys the world wants to share,

With you and with me and with others out there.


One dark autumn night we kept walking until,

We had climbed to the top of a very big hill,

Wrapped up in our coats, on the ground we did lie,

And looked up at the sparkling stars in the sky.


The night was dark, ever so black,

And the grass felt quite damp as we lay on our back,

A clear cloudless sky made it easy to spy,

The big dipper shining brightly up high.


I love my daddy and my daddy loves me,

He takes me on micro adventures to see,

The wondrous joys the world wants to share,

With you and with me and with others out there. 


From the edge of the shore we looked out to the sea,

Waiting for low tide so that daddy and me,

Could go looking for crabs, in the seaweed filled pools.

With our nets and our bucket, the important tools. 


The rocks were so slippery, daddy held my hand tight,

But we both nearly fell giving us such a big fright.

We searched through the pools and were lucky to find,

A fast moving crab who seemed really quite kind.


I love my daddy and my daddy loves me,

He takes me on micro adventures to see,

The wondrous joys the world wants to share,

With you and with me and with others out there. 

Her

‘What are you doing?’ I turned around expecting a stranger, a passer-by, but it was her. I was shocked to hear her voice. I had known her since we were four but had never heard her speak. Twelve long years later here she was talking to me and I was the one left speechless. In some respects her voice matched her face. It was beautiful, musical in tone, like a sentimental love song but also somehow commanding. It conjured up images of mermaids luring sailors to their death, immensely captivating.

She had always been an enigma, we had been told many years ago never to approach her, like she was a wild animal to be feared, only she wasn’t free to roam the wilderness. She was trapped in a cage, a cage that didn’t allow her to speak. I always wondered what she was thinking, how she managed to go on day after day without uttering a word. We were told she couldn’t speak at school, none of us really understood, it was just something we accepted. No one ever expected her to talk. They said she spoke at home and I was desperate to hear her voice. I had imagined countless conversations with her in my head over the years. So many questions I wanted to ask her, so much I wanted to know about her, so much I wanted to tell her about how I felt about her. I would lay awake at night thinking about her night after night, there was never anyone else, just her, no one ever came close. I wanted to take a glimpse into her world, a world where she let down her barriers. This is why I was there, crouching in the foliage, my dignity in shatters, this late autumn afternoon. The sun was setting and I had hoped to be hidden from passers-by. I was looking through the living room window of her parents’ cluttered 1930s house, desperate to catch a glimpse of her and hoped I might hear her speak. I had walked passed her house a thousand times. Every day on route to school I prayed for a chance meeting. Occasionally I was lucky enough to be walking past at the perfect moment, the moment she opened her front door. The thrill was immense, without knowing it she would make my day. Just being in her presence, without the distraction of others that was all it took.

I was drawn to her from the very beginning, she didn’t speak but she had a strange confidence, perhaps that was to do with her beauty. She was a breath-taking sight, her face was striking, the true definition of perfection. Standing out amongst all the other girls at school, not because she towered above them, she was always very petite, the smallest in our class, but there was something about her that always made her special. You couldn’t help but look at her, which of course she despised. Her hair was long and blonde, almost white, her skin was flawless and her cool blue eyes stared right through you, if she looked at you at all. Mostly she looked down or away, anywhere but into your eyes. I felt she wasn’t aware of my existence most of the time but occasionally, when she stood close to me (not by necessity I should add, usually in the que for lunch or assembly, or some other forced school activity), I felt we shared a connection, nothing tangible, nothing I would ever try to explain to anyone else, just a feeling. Those moments were few and far between but they kept me hooked, they gave me a glimmer of hope.

 

Today, right this very second, I felt nothing but fear. I had been caught by her of all people and I will never forget the look of disgust on her face. I had waited all these years for her to notice me and now she finally had, but it was so far from how I had planned. I didn’t want her to think I was a stalker, except it seemed that is exactly what I was, a stalker. When you imagine a stalker you think of a psychopath, a loner. I am not a psychopath, I am not a loner. I have plenty of friends, but even they don’t know how I feel about her. This was a secret I kept, not through embarrassment, I just didn’t want their opinions or interference. I wondered if my fascination of her and my desire to get to know her was what all stalkers felt. I suddenly felt very ashamed of my behaviour and regretted the impulsive decision I had made that day.

 

It was almost as if she could read my mind because suddenly her face softened, the look of disgust turned to a smile and she let out a little laugh. Not the kind of laugh that bullies intimidate their victims with. It was a kind laugh, the laugh of a friend. Her smile grew bigger, it lit up her entire face. I had never had the privilege of even witnessing her smile before but this was so much more than just a smile, so contagious I could feel the corners of my mouth turn upwards involuntary. Then she stretched out her arm and offered me her hand to help me up.

 

That day in her front garden was the beginning, the beginning of our friendship, our courtship and our long life together.

Be Brave

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As I watch my six year old son from a distance, I see the fear on his little face.  I know how it holds him back from experiencing some of life’s joys and that real sense of achievement you only really get when you overcome something difficult.  He is on the outside looking in, assessing the risk, wanting to be on the inside but never having the courage.  His fear can be crippling, it turns into panic and usually a refusal to take part.  There is no way of getting through to him by this stage.  He is scared, scared of being hurt, and he is not willing to take the risk.  I tell him to be brave, have courage, and give it a go.  My advice falls on deaf ears, he has already made his decision…..

I realise like many, I am not so good at taking my own advice and my fears extend much further than just a mere fear of being hurt physically.  I think my biggest fears are of failure and rejection.  We all want to succeed and feel accepted and our fears can hold us back from reaching our full potential and experiencing the real highs of happiness.

As a child I was brave and although I felt fear, I kept those feelings to myself, I hated to appear weak.  Being scared never stopped me, I just pushed those feelings to the side and carried on.  Gradually, in my early teens, my bravery disappeared.  It seeped out of me without my knowledge, like a slow puncture that one day becomes a flat tyre seemingly out of nowhere.  With my bravery went my confidence, my confidence in my own ability and the bravery to try things that scared me and challenged me.

I am now 38 and I want to be brave again, I want to have the confidence I once had, I want to feel like I am enough, capable of anything.  Every time you step out of your comfort zone you are pushing yourself to be brave.  Recently I have been brave and am still here to tell the tale.  I put myself on the line, put myself in the face of rejection and failure and was happy with the outcome, in fact I feel lighter and a feeling I had carried around in the pit of my stomach for years seems to have vanished.  I will admit I was scared, I felt sick and anxious but I did it anyway, I was brave.

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ so my challenge to you is to go out and do something brave, it can be small or life changing or something in between.  Go for that job you’ve always wanted, talk to that person you have admired from afar, dye your hair pink, apologise because you are brave enough to admit you were wrong, do something that takes you out of your comfort zone.  What’s the worse that can happen? You may fail, you may look silly, you might even get rejected but you will survive and guess what, you might just succeed and wouldn’t that be amazing.

The Gift of Life

I try not to think about death too much, having a strong tendency towards morbid thoughts means it is better pushed to the far extremities of my mind. Right now however, I am compelled to take my head out of the clouds and teeter on the edge of death for a moment, for the greater good. Have you ever thought about what you want to achieve before you die or how people will remember you? Until now it has never been a concern of mine but recently I have been inspired by a young woman who is desperately trying to stay ever present, struggling just to stay alive. In death for me, my most important desire is simply that my children remember me as a mum who made them feel safe and loved, who left them with countless fond memories of family time together. I’ve never wished to build an empire or to leave a huge legacy, but imagine if your only wish was as small as being able to take your baby to the park to play on the swings. This is Ashley’s wish right now because this simple act is so far out of her reach. If you don’t know who Ashley is have a look at her Facebook page Ashley’s Next Breath or her Twitter @sayidonate
Ashley is Texan born, living in London with her husband Alastair and their 15 month old son Emerson. She suffers with Cystic Fibrosis, a life limiting condition for which there is no cure at present. Ashley needs a double lung transplant and with her drastically deteriorating health, the need for the transplant is more urgent than ever. She needs a donor and while it may be something you have thought about and are happy to do, it is not the thought that counts in this instance. Without registering and telling your loved ones, this means nothing. You can achieve something in your death that surpasses any goals you may have in life. You could save a life, you could save several lives. Someone out there could be the person that ensures Ashley gets to make memories with her son, take him to the swings and be the mum she longs to be. You could stop someone dying unnecessarily. One in three people die waiting for a lung transplant, it doesn’t have to be this way. You have the power to change this. By signing the organ donor register and telling friends and family about your wish you can help improve those odds.

As I checked on my sleeping children tonight, I thought of Ashley lying in her hospital bed unable to do this simple act. Unable to hold and comfort her baby, forced to love him from a distance. While she may not be able to achieve her wish right now, her heartbreaking tale is raising awareness, which means that Ashley has already left her mark on this world. Do something astonishing today, sign the organ donor register and you could one day be giving the greatest gift, the gift of life. #idonate #HopeForMoore

Get your fight back

I haven’t written a post for a while because life has been moving at the speed of light, but I felt I had to write today because I am feeling in such a positive place and I was thinking it might rub of on you (if you need/want it to!).

Where to start, I guess life has been throwing me some challenges recently which knocked me for six. This is a positive post so I’m not going to go into that right now but I will say that sometimes you have to wallow for a bit. You have to be allowed to come to terms with things in your own time before you have that conversation with yourself. You know the conversation that goes a little bit like, there are people much worse off than you, you need to pick yourself up and do what is in your power to improve.  Of course some things you can’t change and the trick is to accept that but you must look at what you can change and instead of complaining, take charge and implement change. That is exactly what I have done, I realised I had to change my outlook and get my fight back. I have to say that it seems to be working, could it be the law of attraction?  The belief that “like attracts like” and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, you can bring about positive or negative results.  If you had said that to me a year ago, my sceptical self would have quickly disregarded it but my attitude has definitely been altered recently and my eyes have been opened to new possibilities.

I very much try to distance myself from negativity, now more than ever and I believe that this has been a hugely significant factor.  That doesn’t mean a friends that is having a hard time and is in need, I mean negativity aimed at me or towards others. I am learning to step back and perhaps gain a more balanced view.  Negativity creates this big black cloud around you, blocking out any good.

When you look at the world today it’s so easy to become disheartened but I’m realising that there are still people out there that are inherently good. There really are people who will take a chance on you and give you that much needed break.  I have recently been lucky enough to have had a few of those wonderful people in my life, encouraging me, giving me opportunities that I hadn’t believed were possible. I hope I am beginning to prove myself to those people, the people who approached me and believed in me.  Without them I am sure my outlook would be very different so I am beyond grateful to them. They took a risk by getting me on board and have helped me to get to a place where I feel fulfilled which is something I have often longed for. I feel like I have been floating around my entire life searching for something and now I’ve found it. So my message to all of you is don’t lose hope, believe in the good and say yes. As Richard Branson said ‘if someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes, then learn how to do it later’. We all need to believe in ourselves a bit more and cherish those people who believe in us too.

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off

As I am writing this I am still trying to do this and that is why it’s taken me so long to write this post. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going when you have a set back…

Christmas was on the way but I was lacking in my usual Christmas spirit, instead feeling totally overwhelmed. A couple of things had happened in my life that had made me feel pretty down and I was still coming to terms with them. My life was starting to get on top of me, trying to fit in my various jobs around looking after the kids started to make me feel like I had lost my enthusiasm and energy. I felt like I was walking around in a kind of fog, trying to be strong but wanting to just curl up into a ball and sleep.

Then about a week before Christmas I got an email that lifted the fog. I found out I had been short listed for the Red magazine ‘grown up’ internship. This would involve working a whole month in their London office. I should add that Red happens to be my favourite magazine because I feel it doesn’t judge. It is not about bashing celebrities or making women feel inadequate. It is a magazine that inspires women to be the best version of themselves and really follow their passions in life. So as you can imagine, this was a huge deal to me. I felt like someone was finally recognising my ability, giving me some approval. I had applied months ago and presumed no news meant I hadn’t got through. When time permits I am still pursuing my desire to be a writer, it’s still the ultimate goal. I am still pitching and looking for writing opportunities.

I was sent an email saying I had been short listed and I just could not stop smiling. I was given a few days to submit three pitches that I would like to see in the magazine. In between work and children, I submitted my proposals and waited. I felt so honoured to be short listed and was on a high for a week or so. Then the panic started to set in, what if I did actually get it? How would I step outside of my real life for a whole month, be someone else for a month, commute to London, maybe even wear make up every day?!?!? Who would take the kids to school/nursery, would I be able to get the time off work, what would I wear (I didn’t think my usual jeans, jumper and converse combo would really cut it). It kept me awake at night with panic. I guess you could say I’m one of lifes worriers although I wasn’t worried about the work I would have to do there, just everything I wouldn’t be able to do for my family. I don’t know how people do it.

After another terrible sleepless night I got the dreaded email. It said I had been ‘pipped at the post by another candidate’. I suspect they said the same thing to all the short listed candidates who didn’t get it. I thought I would feel relief but instead I felt a deep deep sadness. It’s been hard to shake this off and it’s been hard to write. I’ve been throwing myself into my work but I think I’m ready to come back to the world of writing. I think the trouble was that I really felt like this could have been my big break and it was so close I could almost taste it.  It obviously just wasn’t meant to be. One of my jobs is beginning to take me down the writing route so hopefully slowly but surely I will make it in the end. One thing is for sure, I will never stop trying.

Don’t be shy, have a good feel………

A month ago I found a lump in my breast, I wasn’t checking I just kind of brushed past it while putting my vest on. I asked my husband to check, I don’t know why, I knew I hadn’t imagined it. I wouldn’t have been overly concerned in the past but in January 2013 someone very close to me, my auntie, was diagnosed with breast cancer and that changed everything.

She is someone I have always looked up to, especially in my teenage years, so I was utterly devastated by the news. She has always been strong and really I had no doubt that she would beat her breast cancer. She has beat it after Chemo and Radiotherapy but I don’t believe she will ever be the same. To the untrained eye she is back to her old self but I see I slight sadness in her eyes that wasn’t there before. It would be naive of us to think that after having cancer, facing death and enduring the horrendous side effects of the treatment, that everything can just go back to normal. She was a hostage of cancer and although she has been released, the fear is still there. The wounds on the inside can take a lot longer to heal than those on the outside but I really hope that eventually she can thoroughly heal.

So this is why I was a little bit more concerned, because it was all very fresh in my mind. I went to the doctor and was referred to the specialist breast unit. I got an appointment a few weeks later, it should have been quicker but there was an error with my referral which meant it took a bit longer than usual. My husband dropped me at the clinic and went off with our daughter so I was left alone with my thoughts.

I looked around at all the women in the packed waiting room and wondered what their stories were. Women of all different ages, reading, texting, chatting to a loved one next to them. I felt like I was one of the youngest in the room and that made me feel like the odds were in my favour. But, there is always that large part of me which is terribly morbid. I wondered how I would tell my loved ones, not how I would cope or whether I would survive. I was worried about them, my children, my husband, my family…..how would I tell them….in person…..on the phone?

My experience at the clinic was fantastic, they examined me and then carried out an ultrasound guided needle test where they take out a sample of the lump. They did it all at the one appointment which surprised me. The staff were lovely and the doctor said that she didn’t think it was anything serious and I just needed to come back a week later for the results. This put me at ease and I really didn’t have any anxiety about it at all. It turned out to be benign but I am having it removed at the beginning of January as it is uncomfortable and this means I don’t have to monitor it in the future.

I found my lump by accident but I will definitely be checking more regularly in the future as I hope you all do. If you don’t, go now, don’t be shy, have a good feel………

Wonder Women

Am I Wonder Woman? I do have the outfit in the loft (my 30th birthday party costume), although I don’t tend to wear it on a daily basis and I don’t have super powers as such but at times I really feel like I am.  Juggling a part-time office manager role, virtual PA work, once a month kids menu review for a website, this blog (less frequently than I would like) and of course I am still desperately trying to be a good mother to my 3 year old, who is only at nursery 3 days a week and my 5 year old son, who has just started school.  There is also a husband that I try at times to be a good wife to.  It all gets a bit overwhelming at times, I live in a state of constant tiredness and I rarely know what day it is but at the same time I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being busy and I need to be able to engage my brain, that is very important to me.

I am not alone, there are more of us than you can imagine and I’m really just discovering this.  I love the idea of supporting these wonder women and their endeavours.  I was inspired by meeting a woman who employs several part-time mums.  These mums are intelligent, creative women who couldn’t go back to their old jobs after maternity leave as their companies wouldn’t let them go back part-time.  These woman are focused and driven.  They are only at work three days a week so when they are there, they put maximum effort in.  However, going to work for someone else is not always feasible.  Not everyone is as lucky as me.  I only recently found my office manager position and it really is flexible, something other roles have promised in the past but didn’t deliver in reality.  Although having a wonderful boss who offers flexible working hours may still not be enough for some mums who are unable to cover the childcare costs.  Escalating childcare costs have encouraged some mothers to set up businesses from home while looking after their children. More and more parents are working from home, part-time and often for themselves. It is a trend that has given rise to the term “mumpreneur” – the stay-at-home mother who keeps one eye on the children and another on her business.  I admire these women so much, woman who are willing to take a risk in life and follow their passion.

My admiration made me want to do something, anything, to help support these woman locally.  There are lots of mummy groups on Facebook where mums share their worries about their babies and get great advice and there’s a real camaraderie at times.  I do have to say though that occasionally there is a certain amount of judgement and it is incredibly easy for people to hide behind a Facebook profile and give an opinion that they perhaps wouldn’t give in person.  I wanted a different group, a group that brings mums together but not because of their children.  I wanted the women that don’t just want to be defined by the fact that they are mums. They want to work, promote their businesses, even if they are not working they want to support others that are and discuss the things that make it hard to be a working mum.  So, with that in mind I set up a group for working mums in my area and I have been amazed at how many mums have joined so far. There was obviously a real need for this kind of supportive group.  I hope to arrange a little networking event next year to encourage even more support because, even Wonder Woman needs a little help sometimes….

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Sugar Free September – The End

Yesterday was the last day of ‘Sugar Free September’. Did I start today with sugar laden cereal or go for coffee and cake to help me stay awake after very little sleep (thanks to my son)? I could if I wanted to, the challenge is over but no, strangely I haven’t headed for the sugar…..

The last month has been a real eye opener. Thirty days of no sugar, pasta, bread and dairy. Thirty days of eating clean. I love a challenge and I’m pretty hard on myself so there was no way I was going to give in. Even last week, with 17 people in my house for a Macmillan coffee morning and enough cake for about 50 people. I didn’t so much as lick a stray bit of cake off my fingers. I’ve found it all pretty easy apart from those first few days. What I have really noticed is how many things contain sugar. I have had to cook pretty much everything from scratch. It’s made me look more at what I’m giving my children as well. I don’t have a problem with them having sweets or chocolate as a treat occasionally but I want to be the one who controls how much sugar they are getting. When you start to look at how many daily food items have so much added sugar you realise how it’s been taken out of your control and you are actually giving them much higher amounts than you intended. My major concern is sugar laden cereal and I am going to stop getting this for my children. It’s difficult because they have a routine of having milk and dry cereal every morning as a pre-breakfast and the proper breakfast is wholemeal toast, fruit or porridge with raisins (no added sugar). I am going to have a chat with them and hope they understand.

I didn’t take on this challenge to lose weight but the 10lbs loss has been an added bonus, I have also lost the following inches:

Bust 1 inch
Waist 3 inches
Hips 2 inches
Arm 1 inch
Thigh 1.5 inches

I feel good, less bloated, have more energy and I’m strangely calmer. I don’t know what I expected but it certainly wasn’t feeling like this.  My taste buds have definitely changed and a dried fruit bar that was a bit tasteless to me a month ago now tastes really sweet to me.

The future is the hard part for me, my idea is that I continue to live like this whenever I’m at home but if I’m out and really feel like a treat I can allow myself that. I can’t forget day two and three, going through withdrawal from sugar like it was a drug.  It was awful and I don’t ever want to go through that again. I want to keep that memory for as long as possible to help me stay on the right track. I am going to try to make some cakes that don’t contain sugar.  I’ve tried baking a few in the past and they have been pretty awful and inedible but that could just be my cooking, I’m certainly no Nigella.

So I want to leave you with some things to consider. Do you know how much refined sugar you are actually consuming? Are you feeling tired, irritable and bloated? Do you think it could be time to cut down your sugar intake…….