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Summer holidays, messy houses and history repeating itself……

Hello to you all, the summer holidays are finally here which means only one thing, childcare organised and planned to precision!

We don’t have loads of time off with the boys over the summer but we do have a week and a bit coming up and I absolutely can’t wait. We have lots of lovely things planned and I’ve no doubt I will be sharing lots of it with you here. We are off to the Elmley Nature Reserve for an overnight stay, Dreamland, we have Leo’s birthday, the boys have various sports camps and a big BBQ for family and friends. 

I can’t believe that Nate has now finished at Infant school. A couple of the Whitstable schools are Infant and Junior only so Nate will embark on a new adventure at a new school come September. He has grown into a kind, gentle and full of energy little boy and I couldn’t be prouder of him. I cried like a small child at his leavers service and apparently according to Karl I am the ultimate embarrassing parent but do you know what, at least he knows I am his number one fan and I will always be there to give a little woop woop from the audience! 

The more this year goes on the more I realise what is important. I spend so much of my time trying to have the perfect home and I have decided that I am just fighting a losing battle. I love my home, I love that the boys love playing here and that it’s totally unique. It won’t ever be a show home with no dust or the odd bit of Lego on the floor but it’s a home full of love and I couldn’t ask for more.

I am coming to the last week of my CBT, this is a huge thing. I’ve made huge progress and feel the most positive about moving forward with my mental health issues than I have in years however I am also a bit of a bag of nerves. I’ve been here before, I’ve had therapy and felt strong and then ultimately ended up back where I started only a little bit worse each time. 

So what’s different this time? Have I got the skills I need to move forward and not end up back on self destruct and feeling like I’m not worthy of walking this earth? Well I can never take my mental health for granted but I do feel this time like something has shifted from where I’ve been before. I’m quieter, more thoughtful and I think through each and every move in a totally different way than I did before.

Self love is something I’ve told you before that I’ve been distinctly lacking and while I still can’t say I’m crazy about myself I certainly have a new respect for who I am, what I’ve been through and what I’ve put others through. My journey is mine I am the only one with the ultimate power over how I deal with it and all the things life throws at me.

That’s quite a powerful position to be in and one which I hope I have finally got straight in my head. Life is so very tough and we as humans have habits of making it worse for ourselves. I hope that this time I have the strength to go forward and not need to in a couple of years time to have more intervention for another mental health crisis.

Being aware is taking a healthy approach to your mindfulness and wellbeing and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

If any of you are struggling or not sure where to turn you have options, people care and they can help you. Please don’t suffer in silence, don’t let yourself get so low that you don’t know where to turn.

Must dash, Nate and Leo are arguing over who gets the last fruit roll. Much love my friends xxx

Wisdom and whether it makes any sense……

Hey all, how are we? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about wisdom which is defined as the quality of having, experience, knowledge and good judgement; the quality of being wise. This will have prompted you to think about all the people you deem as wise whether they be friends, family, loved ones or like me iconic heroes who have pioneered new things (my key example would be Ben and Jerry for their work towards ice cream flavours!)

I imagine you will also be asking yourself, am I wise? Do I have wisdom and will people deem me to have these characteristics. The answer for many of us would be no. We are so quick to judge ourselves and not look to the positives. We would also run our minds back over decisions we have made in the past that at the time were made with the best knowledge you had at but that today you would look back on and question. 

I can think of a great number of people I believe have wisdom, from the philosophers of old, playwrights, authors, those who have pioneered technology that makes our world what it is today, leaders, peacekeepers, teachers, colleagues, my mum and of course Albus Dumbledore. But my question is this, I wonder how many times all the people I consider as wise questioned their decisions. Realised they had made a bad one and that they had been  at that time lacking in wisdom. I would guess each and every one of them. 

We are all totally capable of being wise, each and every one of us has wisdom and we do what we do trying to use it in the best way we can. Whether that be moving on from something that is hurting us, choosing to embark on a new adventure, learning something new or making decisions about our day to day life that will better it for those around us. 

That doesn’t mean though that the people around us will necessarily understand our decisions or why we made them, our chosen paths or the ones we choose to stop walking down. Sometimes it will of course be obvious that our wisdom was somewhat lacking (the time I decided to pierce my own ears for a second time aged 12) but at other times people may just have a different opinion than we do. 

Wisdom is not the same for every person, what one considers wise another may consider foolish and vice versa but like each and every living thing on this whole planet we are individuals and our thoughts, decisions and lives are based around our own minds. We care for others, we love and we do all we can for those we love but ultimately what we do is down to us. 

So many are quick to jump to judge, criticise or comment on the acts of others. This is of course human nature however imagine if you had all the information in your possession that made that person make that decision, maybe, just maybe you would decide the same thing they did. Even if you wouldn’t, does that really matter? 

In conclusion I believe we need to own our wisdom and our decisions. Whether they be the right or wrong decision. If it’s a wrong one you live, learn and move on but if it’s a right one you remember all that wisdom you used to make that right decision and do you know what it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or feels on the matter. If some of our worlds greatest minds had let others dull their wisdom we wouldn’t have technology, music, languages, science or mindfulness. Now that is a scary thought. 

In a nod to the wisdom of others here are some of the wisest quotes I love…..

‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid’ Albert Einstein 

‘Just do what works for you because there will always be somebody who thinks differently’ Michelle Obama 

‘Just because you are right, doesn’t mean I am wrong, you just haven’t seen life from my side’ unknown 

‘Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t’ Bill Nye.

Compassion, realism and getting stuck in a jungle……

Hey all, I’m sorry I’ve been relatively quiet lately, being honest I’ve been suffering a bit of a writers block because I usually write about how I’m feeling and this being a massive transitional phase I’m finding it all a bit overwhelming.

CBT and hypnotherapy are going well and I’m working each day to be a more compassionate, confident and less self loathing me. This is of course very hard work but I honestly believe that anything worth having is worth working hard for.

Compassion is an interesting thing for me to be thinking about as it’s something I’ve always felt I understood and can give to others freely. Turns out I’m awful at being compassionate towards myself and this is an area that needs significant improvement. I’ve started by not expecting so much from myself. I don’t mean not setting goals or looking to achieve things as I’m still a driven person but I’m much more realistic in my ideas about things and that gives me the luxury that if things don’t go quite according to plan I don’t end up in an anxious state and telling myself it’s all my fault. 

I realise that I am happiest when life is simple, when I have the people I love around me and when I am laughing. You don’t need to be in a nightclub to have a nice evening and you certainly don’t need to be in six inch heels (I love them and they make my legs look so much nicer but my poor feet!)

Just last night we went after work to meet some friends on their camp site where they are staying for the weekend. The plan was a BBQ and some drinks. The boys were excited to play with their children and we were excited to have a relax with good conversation and some prosecco (well perhaps that was just me!) 

I wore a maxi dress, flip flops and a little kimono which was perfectly acceptable for the balmy Whitstable evening we left home to. However it was much more windy in Folkestone and it became clear quite soon that I was a cardigan down! 

We decided to walk from the top of the cliff which is where the campsite is to the bottom and the beach. Sounds so easy doesn’t it however eighty five active minutes on my Fitbit later, some nasty scratches from brambles, some stinging nettle stings and my hair looking like Monica in that episode of Friends where the humidity got to her we still hadn’t found a beach and gave up. But do you know what, it didn’t matter at all. We laughed, drank more prosecco, chatted and mocked ourselves for our appalling orienteering. The children played and we didn’t end up home until gone eleven pm. 

This morning I had the grand idea of a chilled out Saturday where we would mooch around the Farmers Market in town and have a light lunch before the boys had a friend’s birthday party to go to. We did indeed go to the Farmers Market and I bought a beautiful bunch of flowers and the boys each had a fresh pretzel. The boys after about four minutes decided that they had got bored and kept in very loud voices saying helpful things such as, ‘this is rubbish’, ‘why isn’t the food free’ and ‘why do you want more flowers’. 

We then went to the lovely Whitstable Museum which is run by some fantastic and knowledgable volunteers who very kindly let the boys handle a giant gun/musket that had just been donated and showed them various bits and pieces that we have seen many times before but they love each time. Their particular favourite is digging for sharks teeth and various Whitstable artefacts in the kids area. 

Then it was off to Champs, one of our fab bakeries/cafes. We stop here many times in the week for cakes after school but today was all about the bacon and egg rolls. I was excited to sit with a cuppa and all my boys and just enjoy some time. Leo however had other ideas and squirted Ribena everywhere, kept knocking my arm every time I tried to take a sip of tea, kept kicking Karl under the table and then wiped a bogie on my arm. Nate was much better behaved and was looking through the local paper which happened to have my column in with a picture of the boys. How one seven year old child can turn a small newspaper into a million pieces of paper in a numerical order unknown to man is beyond me but he managed it. 

Karl and I managed to eat our rolls and the boys munched on theirs which gave us about four minutes peace before Karl (bruises forming on his legs) said, ‘Luce, I can’t sit here anymore’. So off we went, the picture of family life, the children sporting Whitstable Mueseum badges, me carrying a beautiful bunch of flowers no one any the wiser to the fact that one of us was covered in Ribena, one in newsprint, one in spilled tea and the other unscathed but with slightly injured legs from his five year olds restless leg syndrome. 

The birthday party was fab and I like a normal mother treated myself to a strawberry slush puppy and made jokes about the lack of vodka in it before wondering what people would think about a boozing mother at a bowling party. It didn’t have vodka in don’t worry, though if I had enough change and hadn’t spent it all on the various gaming machines I may have been tempted! 

Have a fantastic rest of your weekend xx

Illness, bike riding and lost crocs…….

You know how sometimes you get to the end of a long day and just need a really good giggle? Read on lovely people……..

Today is one of those where I work the day and Karl works the afternoon and night so my parents pick the boys up from school. I go straight to their house and they usually feed both me and the boys before we go home about seven pm for bedtime.

Tonight I got back to find the boys doing clay modelling with Nana, she loves any kind of messy, knife wielding and potentially get paint everywhere crafts so I let her get on with it and watched with a nervousness that I can’t describe while Leo flung around the small knife chopping clay into various shapes. 

The boys ate tea and Nate not even half way through eating declared he felt terribly poorly and took himself off into the living room. Now my Nate is a big boy who loves all the boy things there are in this world. He is also one of the biggest drama queens I know and often goes to extremes when he feels poorly asking questions such as, ‘is it my heart?’, ‘do I need a blood transfusion?’ and ‘is it a deadly disease?’ 

Tonight was no different and within what seemed like minutes he had worked himself up into a huge tizzy and was very concerned he would be sick. He reminded me a bit of a woman in heavy labour, all heavy breathing and uncomfortable movements. It got to the point where not only did he feel sick but his neck was hurting, he couldn’t swallow properly and he was almost delirious. I then went into typical mum mode and thought just incase he had indeed developed some kind of tropical disease that I should get him checked out.

We drove to our Doctors which also has a minor injuries walk in centre attached. Usually they have nurses who can prescribe and often the doctors work late. We went to the lady at reception with Nate leaning on the desk with his heavy breathing and humpback whale type moans. She gave me a perplexed look when I answered the question of whether it was an injury or an illness with ‘I’m not really sure’ and ushered us through to the waiting area where Nate continued to whale loudly.

The kind lady doctor called us in and Nate who had tears steaming down his cheeks went into full flow about how his breathing was strange, he felt sick, his neck and throat hurt and that he blamed the ham from school. She also looked at me perplexed and asked if Nate often got this anxious. I explained that he hates being ill and even the thought of it makes him get into a real tizzy so she was extra patient with him. Turns out his glands were up in his neck so we were prescribed antibiotics and he was told to rest up.

My plan next was to drive to our local Tesco to get his medicine which would take around ten minutes. Nate was having none of this so I delivered him back to Nana’s (by this point it was pouring with rain) and shot to Tesco on my own. The lady at the chemist said I had a few minutes to wait so I found myself by the flowers and picked out some peonies for me and pink roses for my mum. 

I collected the medicine and left the store with handfuls of flowers and the little white bag the medicine comes in, my hair was everywhere and I was soaked. I must have looked very strange. By the time I got back to Nana’s and gave Nate his first dose of medicine I felt exhausted and that we should all be getting home. Nate happily came but Leo refused to put his shoes on and ran off out of the back door into the pouring rain.

I loaded the car with all the things that needed to go home, school bags, shoes, clay models, hats and Nate loaded himself in. Leo then appeared on his bike which he has only just learned to ride without stabilisers cycling round and round the house in the pouring rain. On his second trip round I realised he was wearing a giant pair of adult crocs, Grandads crocs. 

The next thing I knew Grandad himself was running after Leo shouting, ‘he’s got my crocs!’ While I sat in the car windscreen wipers on full pelt wondering if this kind of thing ever happens to anyone else. It took a reasonable amount of time for them both to return for a third loop this time Leo wearing nothing on his feet and Dad telling me as he went past that Leo had thrown the crocs on the lawn. 

On the next rotation Grandad appeared with Leo over his shoulder in a fireman style lift. Leo was placed into the car and as we drove off I looked in my mirror and saw him smiling to himself. He had been having a wonderful time.

We got home and I had to unload the car, I had flowers, two school bags, one handbag, one pair of shoes, half a shepherds pie (leftovers) clay models of Saturn and Neptune, my work bag, two drink bottles and two hats. Nate held his prescription and Leo unlocked the front door. We walked in and everything in my arms dropped to the floor, I managed to catch the Shepherds pie and promptly got the boys into bed. 

They are still awake and I’m eating the rest of the shepherds pie which I planned on having for lunch at work tomorrow. 

Oh well it’s not like it’s only Monday and we still have the rest of the week to go……. oh wait! 

The Great Pretender…..

Today I was reminded of Alice in Wonderland and the quote, ‘that’s just the trouble with me, I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it’. 

I had the long waited for first session of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy this morning. After my first hypnotherapy session there is no doubt whatsoever that I feel brighter and more positive. But talking therapies mean you have to bare your soul and there is something that makes you feel so very vulnerable about spilling your innermost thoughts to a total stranger.

I did just that, I went through everything that has bought me to where I am today, the journey I’ve travelled, the awful decisions I’ve made, the relationships and friendships I have lost and the feeling of not being sure exactly what I have to offer anymore. 

I worked out some months ago that it’s self esteem, I was asked today whether I hated myself and I answered yes. It’s not that there aren’t things about myself that I don’t like because there are (I make a mean cuppa for example!) but there is always this underlying negativity, a critical voice if you like that tells me I’m not good enough, can’t move on from past mistakes and that I will never be loved by anyone.

Just reading back that paragraph I realise how ridiculous it would sound to someone who doesn’t have the issues I do and actually I am loved. My family love me, my children love me unconditionally, Karl has stuck by me through thick and thin and if that’s not love I don’t know what is and I have friends in my life who I know must love me because if they didn’t they wouldn’t still be here (you know who you are!)

My therapist who is also called Karl which made for many awkward moments during the session asked me to come back next week with some goals. What do I want from therapy and what I want to achieve from my life. Big questions and something that I really need to think about (apparently the world’s biggest bar of chocolate isn’t an okay answer?!) As I walked out and got into the car I felt positive. The first goal came to me, to not need the validation of others. To be able to hold my head high and think I am who I am and if you don’t understand that then that’s your business. Sounds so easy doesn’t it!

So I’ve decided to start here…… I’m Lucy, I’ve messed up a lot but I’m working my arse off to be a better person, a better wife, mum, daughter, sister and friend. I like to take pictures of flowers and talk about my thoughts and feelings here. I am sure that many people won’t understand my journey, my life or why I do the things I do and that is okay.

Here is an example of some good advice that I have always found very easy to give to myself and to others and yet have never managed to actually do. Let’s keep everything crossed that I can actually pull it off! 

Thanks for reading you very lovely people xx

Wrapping them up in cotton wool…..

I write this as I’m laying in bed watching the news having been on a weekend away with one of my best friends. 

We had an amazing time and did all the things that you do when you are child free, we sat in the sunshine sipping alcoholic drinks, made no plans and went with the flow and didn’t go out to dinner until really late just because we could. We also went shopping, beautiful retail therapy without any, ‘Mummy I need a poo’, ‘can we go now?’, ‘This is rubbish’ or ‘why do you need to buy things anyway?’

But we both missed our children massively, you can’t help miss those little faces, usually covered in toothpaste and food stuffs, smiling up at you simply because you are their mum. 

I don’t think there is anyone across the country who hasn’t considered the attacks in Manchester this week. Young, old, single, married, parents or otherwise how can you not contemplate the state of our world when young people are being killed leaving a pop concert. Something that is a rite of passage for any young person and a huge life experience.

I have of course considered this position as a mother. I am aware that as a child terrorism existed but I only have one memory of it. This was the IRA and it was a trip to London as I recall. My sister Emma who has severe physical and learning disabilities would often need to go to hospital in London for various appointments and I remember once we went as a family. All I remember is my mum talking about there having been the threat of a bomb nearby while we were there. I didn’t understand it or comprehend exactly what the threat was but I knew it was something bad and I was scared. I remember this feeling to this day. 

Fast forward to now and as a mother of two who are sadly both acutely aware of terrorism I wonder how much of the world I should be exposing them to. Do I explain all the ills of the world to them and introduce them to the cruel side of life now or shield them for as long as I can? I think the trouble is I have no explanations myself. I don’t understand how anyone can justify killing innocent people so how I can put that into words!

The school have spoken to the children about the attacks in Manchester and the boys have seen snippets of the news. You can’t really keep it from them in the tech full world we live in. I don’t want them to be scared, I want them to be five and seven year old boys, carefree, covered in mud and genuinely believing girls smell. I want them to see all the love, beauty and magnificence that life offers.

I also want to make sure they don’t go out, ever go anywhere without me or their dad and be able to know they are okay at all times. I can’t though can I? I can’t stop the boys from growing up and living life because my parents couldn’t do that with me and I can’t stop my life to ensure they are always okay. We all have to have faith that we make the right decisions for our little people and that they will be safe. Just as I had to believe I would be safe going to London for the weekend because this is my world, my break with my friend and the place I still have so much of to see. 

We can’t be scared and not do things just in case. You would never leave the house out of genuine fear if every little thing that could go wrong or might happen worried you. The parents of the children who died this week in Manchester have had their lives altered forever and in hindsight they would never have let their children go to that concert. However hindsight before th  event and the ability to see the future are gifts we simply do not possess. 

This is such a hard time to be a parent, it’s a hard time to be a human and to be able to make sense of all the things that are going on. But how did our fellow humans get through war and any of the many other historical events we are aware of? Without fear, with the knowledge of all that there was to be scared of but going about their lives anyway. This gives me strength, even if I do look at my beautiful boys sleeping in their beds tonight and think if only I could shield you from everything.

As Winston Churchill once said ‘If you are going through hell, keep going’.

A year in review……

Hey all, how are we?

So I realised this week that I have been writing ‘Tired from Whitstable’ for a whole year. I am struggling to process this fact and can’t help but think about how much has happened in the last year. Life is not unrecognisable but it certainly has changed and then some!

My boys have grown bigger and not just in size! Their characters and personalities grow every day and they are turning into real little people who have likes and dislikes, talents and loves. They also have honed their mess making skills over the last year to the point where I think they can now be awarded ‘expert’ status. 

Karl and I have grown as people and as a couple. We have had great highs and some devastating lows but we still stand together and work on us on a daily basis and isn’t that what relationships are about!

I suppose I should acknowledge some physical changes too, in the last year I have lost a womb, more than half of my hair (by choice), some of the colour of my hair (bloody greys!) and I have gained two tattoos, three new scars on my tummy, some laughter lines, some worry lines, a good stone in weight and HD brows (well not at the minute as I’ve not been in a while so they more resemble hairy caterpillars!)

How about the mental changes? Depression and anxiety have kicked me in the arse over the last year however now I am finally feeling strong enough to kick it back where it belongs. I’ve realised that I need to accept the things I cannot change and deal with the things that I can. I’ve met people who have made me realise so much about this world and its idiosyncrasies that I can see my place in it and I’ve learned some lessons the hardest way possible.

I’ve realised how important it is to embrace the things you love no matter how strange they seem to others because who you are should be celebrated. If I hadn’t have embraced my love for Instagram and gained confidence in taking pictures of all manner of things that many people don’t even notice I wouldn’t have started my blog, started writing a column for the paper or had the nerve to speak to you all about my mental health issues and how I hope to overcome them.

We change, we evolve and we build on our foundations because that’s what human beings do. Who can honestly say with their hand on their heart that they are exactly the same as they were a year ago? The changes in you might not be the way you envisaged them. You may have made mistakes, been alone and had to rebuild or you may have gone from strength to strength in your achievements. No matter how you became the person you are today you should be proud of who you are.

We can all be seen as ‘works in progress’ much of the time and anyone who claims to have it all sorted is either lying or incredibly naive. I have finally in the last year come to realise that to work on me is the most important thing, for my children, my husband, my family and my friends. I can’t be who I need to be for the people I love if I am a depressed, anxious mess and for that reason I refuse to let it define me anymore. 

This next year is going to be a big one, I can feel it and I know that you will be here with me. I can’t wait to see where we all are in a years time and how much we can achieve. 

Here’s to another year of comedy moments with the boys, ramblings about anything and everything, photography, flowers, love, family, friendship, trips out, ice cream and of course the cows at the bottom of the garden.

Thanks for taking the time to be here with me over the last year. I can’t thank you enough for being so amazing and know your thoughts, kindness and love have helped me through one of the hardest years of my life. Much love xxx