The simple life…….

Hey all, how are we? 

I’ve been thinking today about happiness, gratitude and how I use them in my life. I was thinking this while out on a ‘power walk’ on the Crab and Winkle Way which as most of you know is one of my favourite spots in Whitstable.

Thinking about the little things that keep you happy and grateful is an essential in life and it occurred to me just how much I long for the simple life. I keep seeing and reading things about living a simpler life, the best life you can and getting ‘off grid’ for a while.

My husband wouldn’t be able to be ‘off grid’ for long, he is a gadget man who loves technology but then it occurred to me that he is also at his happiest outside in the garden, doing jobs, enjoying the peace and making things. All of these things are relatively simple and usually involve minimal gadgets (other than his drone!) 

The boys too are usually happy when they are playing outside. I actually find that the more time they spend on tablets (we limit this as much as we can) the more grumpy and irritable they become. They get lots of built up aggression and you can tell that they have been having screen time. 

Earlier this week we visited the Elmley Nature Reserve and had a night of no television or tablets. Karl and I had our phones but mostly for pictures but neither of us used them that much. We walked, talked, played cards and the boys got lost in nature. There was a huge hill at the back of our fishermans hut and they were up and down it constantly, looking out over the fields and playing little games they had made up. 

Of course they did some arguing and some wrestling but they are my children and wouldn’t be if they didn’t! 

I loved the peace, the views and the feeling of being at one with nature. There were pretty butterflies, all manner of birds and rabbits running around which made it all seem quite magical.

So as I was power walking in my maroon shorts and running top which is way too tight because of all the chocolate I was thinking about how much I just want to spend my time simply being. Taking in beautiful views, walking and conversing with the people I love and enjoying where we live. 

In our home we seem to be embracing simpler things, not focussing so much on smart storage solutions from modern shops but loving things with a history and that were made by hand. Things that will still be around and usable when we are old and the boys are able to appreciate them like the table Karl made using the base from my Grandads old Singer sewing machine table. 

Gone are the days where if we had a free weekend I would feel like we needed to fill it with all and sundry, we now take life at a much slower pace and I actually try to plan in time where we can choose what we do whether that be a walk in the woods, on the beach or some time with Nana chatting and drinking tea. I love seeing friends and family but they too have similar feelings to us so it’s nice that we can all enjoy our times together. 

I am so very happy when I am out walking, it opens my mind and allows me that space to think and be me. To go over what’s been going on and to plan for what’s coming up. To think about all the things I am grateful for and to process things that I’ve not been so good at in recent times and how I can improve next time.

This is a key element of moving forward for me after my CBT has come to an end. Originally I was massively scared and felt like I needed that session each week to be okay but the more I have thought about it the more I realise that I have the tools I need and I need to keep using them, building on the foundation the therapist and I built and making them habit. Walking in the fresh air is a huge part of this for me.

This morning I walked for half an hour, no time at all really when you weigh up what is important or not but the feeling afterwards was immense and is carrying on throughout the day. Of course not all days will life be so simple and some days or even weeks there won’t be time for a long walk but life is after all about balance. We make time for the doctor or dentist when we need to and being mindful is just as key to our health as these visits are.

How do you keep your life simple? What things would you like to improve on or to change? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. If you can take half an hour for yourself this week and do something you love, something that is good for your soul. Walk, run, sing to loud music, catch up with a friend, draw, knit, have a chocolate bar, bake a cake, build Lego with your children, buy some flowers, take some photos, cook a meal from scratch, light a scented candle, have a bath (you get my drift?!) I bet you will feel much better for it. 

Advertisements

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

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

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

Words from the Wise…..

Hey all, how are we?

I’m very conscious that I have been quite quiet recently. The main reason for this is that since I’ve been struggling with being so down I’ve not wanted to just come across as negative and moaning. I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for and I am trying to work on all the other sides of my appallingly low self esteem which I believe is the root cause of many of the issues I have had over the years.

I go back to work after six months off on Monday, this time has incorporated illness, major surgery, recovery and now my issues with me. Am I ready? No! Do I have any confidence? No. Would I rather curl up in a ball? Hell yes! I of course cannot do that, I am a professional, working mother and a huge part of who I am is someone who works. Not just because we need to cover all the bills and the mortgage but also because I like that I have another avenue in my life, a place where I am not just a mum and no one will shout at me because they can’t find the head to the green ninja from Lego Ninjago.

For so many reasons I now realise that I am the reason for a lot of the bad things that have happened in my life because I tell myself I am no good, I can’t manage it and I don’t deserve whatever it is. I spoke in a previous blog about mental health and needing to be okay with me otherwise I wouldn’t be able to manage with anything or anyone else.

So while waiting for my initial counselling assessment I have tried to start my journey on my own and do some small things to help me get through this time. One of the first things I did was look to Pinterest. I have had an account for years but never really used it but have been sent many things from it in relation to my youth mentoring. I set up a number of boards one being, ‘quotes to live by’ and another, ‘things to read’. I began to find inspirational quotes and pieces about mindfulness and stockpiling them to read and to look at to remind myself of all the good and positive things in life.

I started to track my moods and work out what sort of things made me low and the things that made my heart sing. I focussed more on being a happy, healthy me and the mum and wife my family needs. I also spoke to others who have been through similar and have found themselves where I am. I realised that my priorities needed juggling and that not everything I prioritised was making me happy and healthy. I realised I needed to let some things go and work much harder at others. I basically realised that for me I was in a new phase and almost starting from square one.

As we all know the beginning of anything new is hard, leaving your comfort zone and trying something you are not used to doing is like trying to win a gold medal at the winter Olympics in ice skating when you have never skated before. It feels odd, abnormal and very lonely at first but after time it becomes more normal, almost a habit and you start to feel like you can manage.

I challenged myself to do some things I had never before been comfortable with. Since I had been ill I struggled with my running and whilst ill I have put on quite a lot of weight. Running was something I would happily do on my own as it gave me a space to think and to breathe. I couldn’t imagine walking on my own though, in fact I found the thought quite embarrassing, wouldn’t people think it’s odd that I’m out walking on my own and I don’t even have a dog?! As you can imagine when I started actually no one batted an eyelid and I have been enjoying some brisk, long walks out and about in the sunshine which has given me that space to think and breathe again outside in nature.

Things haven’t been perfect and following my assessment I am now on the waiting list for starting sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I’ve never done before and is described as a more proactive type of therapy. Things are moving in the right direction, going back to work, getting back to my mentoring and being braver with my thoughts and outlook are all going in the right direction, I just need to not muck it all up!

So to sum up, who knows what will happen next week, just walking through the door of the office seems like a marathon to me at the moment. Hopefully it will be much simpler than that but if it’s not I will have to deal with it because as we said earlier I can’t just curl up into that tiny ball!

I wonder if any of these which are some of my favourite quotes that have helped me through recently will resonate with you?

‘You have been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t helped. Try approving of yourself and see what happens’

‘Bloom where you are planted’

‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’

‘It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are’

‘You were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed or unworthy. You were created to be victorious’

‘Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining’

‘She was unstoppable not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them’

‘Only grow things in your brain that you wouldn’t mind putting in a vase’

‘Some days she has no idea how she’ll do it. But every single day, it still gets done’

‘Don’t let the muggles get you down’ (Wise woman that JK Rowling!)