An October review…….

October is one of those months where I tend to have a bit of a review. My birthday is this month and I think as it approaches every year it makes me evaluate where I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved over the last year.

When I thought about it quickly I thought that this year hasn’t been one full of great things and huge achievements but then I thought again. This year I have focussed more on me than I have for a long time. I have had the at times uncomfortable realisations of who I am, what I’m about and what I need to let go of. I have dare I say it become more happy. I have allowed myself to be who I am in ways that I would have feared to in the past. Worries about being mocked or treated differently I haven’t allowed to plague my thoughts like I used to and I am for the first time in a long time  in a position where I can say that the people I have around me understand and embrace me for me no matter what. Not you Mum, you’ve been doing that for almost thirty five years now!

No matter what is a big statement. No matter what is in good times or bad, when I have had successes or failures. When I’ve made good decisions or hideously awful ones. There really is a huge amount of truth in the saying ‘find your tribe’ and when you do you need to hold on to those people with all you have.

I have talked about my mental health more this year and I feel with more authority. I am on a journey that evolves on a daily basis and it’s a journey that I am at peace with as opposed to fighting against. I have made the decision to come off my antidepressants and to take more control in other ways over my mental health. I have started small practices to help me on a daily basis that are becoming habits. I write down how I feel, I meditate, I read more and I am more realistic with myself.

I have put on about two stone and I’m currently wearing a size eighteen. This is a big thing for me to tell you but after all the peanut m&m’s and those yummy Ikea biscuits I am hardly surprised but for once in my life I am being kind to myself. I have realised that limiting myself is a way I used to self harm in the past and denying myself nice things as some strange way of punishing myself did nothing other than make me miserable. I have cut down on alcohol and started running again (slowly and with a very interesting style but still) I have realised that I am meant to have big boobs and they need to be comfortable so I’ve started buying my bras at Victoria’s secrets because they don’t only make sexy, tiny underwear but they make the most comfortable bras I have ever worn. They are expensive and I only buy them in the sale because that’s what I can afford to do but it feels good to be looking after myself and taking pride in doing so.

I see the beauty in having no plans, in living simply and taking each day as it comes. I love to see friends and walk around taking pictures even if it is somewhere we have taken a million pictures of before. I have realised I like yoga and just because I am not as bendy as most people doesn’t mean I can’t do a downward facing dog as well as the next person.

We have made a small house into a big house and have taken pride in doing so. It’s been a massive lesson for us as a family and a couple but it has bought us closer together and bought pure joy. I look forward to getting the garden finished and starting my flower garden and the thought of cutting flowers I have grown myself next year to display in my home brings a huge grin to my face.

I have realised that there are so many things in this life that are so much more important that I ever thought. Sitting with my parents over a cup of tea talking about the birds, seeing my boys play with their friends, listening to the boys read, eating cake with Karl, taking my mum out and treating her like she deserves to be treated and laughing with my friends. These things are priceless, these moments to be made memories that I can cherish forever.

I want to continue to write and talk about mental health. I want to help people, to give blood (once and counting) to explore more creative pursuits, to spend more time with the people I love and to see them go from strength to strength. I hope that when  I write this post next year it will be another year of little things that have added up to massive things when I will be meeting another year older as a welcome friend full of excitement and promise.

Thanks as always for reading, for listening, for being here and being you. You have no idea how much each and every one of you that has taken the time to email, comment on my social media, hit the like button and talk to me about my blog and writing have helped me this year. You are amazing and I hope you never forget it.

Lucy xxx

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Stationary boxes, parenting and the lovely Mila and Pheebs

This week like many others has flown by and I sit here on a Saturday afternoon wondering what happened to Monday!

It was always something I heard older people say about time flying and things going in the blink of an eye but as a younger person I would snigger and think about the world before me.

Now as a mother I often want to push the pause button and have time to actually savour the days as opposed to rushing through them and wondering how I have managed.

Life for me as many of you know is a constant state of juggling balls and spinning plates. Sometimes I don’t manage and end up with smashed plates all over the place and the balls hitting me in the head and other times I actually manage to get to the end of the week with a smile on my face and a glass of wine in my hand.

I have always and will always admire fellow mums who decide to do things their way. Whether that be by championing flexible working, starting their own businesses or other approaches to parenting. This is one of the many things I love about the community of people I have met through blogging and social media.

There are mums who work in photography, life coaching, floristry, writing, law, mentoring and various other fields all of whom do this around their children and running a home. One of these mums is the very lovely Alexis who is mum to twins who inspired her stationary business Mila and Pheebs.

The boys have been receiving stationary boxes from Mila and Pheebs for sometime. They are a monthly box which has a new theme each month. They include not only stationary but craft activities and other things to keep children amused and engaged. None of the contents require a screen or electricity and they come addressed to your children so they feel very special.

I have always filmed the boys opening their boxes as I love to see their reaction and surprise as they go through the boxes contents. The most recent box was themed around food and the boys had a blast making their own menus and using the craft equipment to make ice cream cones. You can see the most recent unboxing along with all the others here.

Sadly due to my being tired, a bit ill and ever so slightly overworked I actually filmed the most recent box opening vertically as opposed to horizontally. You have my massive apologies in advance. To say I’ve been off my game is an understatement. This week I’ve fallen over, forgotten keys, forgotten my lunch, over slept and just in general been shoddy at life!

Alexis like many business owners is really keen to hear more about what her customers and potential customers want and need from her product. She has asked if I would get my readers to take part in a short survey and in return she will be running a prize draw for anyone who takes the time to fill it in. Now that can’t be a bad thing! If you would like to take part in the survey please click here. You can also find out more about the amazing products Mila and Pheebs offer at the website here.

I hope that you have had a more productive and organised week than me but if you haven’t you can rest assured that you are in great company. There are parents the world over who are sat with a glass of wine in hand wondering how on earth they made it through this week and how will they get everything ready for the commencement of the next one (Just reminded me I need to wash the school uniforms!)

Much love, Lucy xxx

My bullet journal for 2018

Earlier this week I put a post on Instagram about how I had started a bullet journal for next year and whether people would find it useful for me to write a post about how I had put it together, how it helps with mindfulness and my mental health.

So, here you go! Last year I saw many a YouTube video on setting up a bullet journal and thought it was a fab idea. I loved the idea of a mood tracker, sleep tracker, keeping up with social media followers and many other tables and graphs that I could colour in. The reality was I made the whole thing far too complicated and when I fell behind with the various trackers I had created it made me feel stressed, anxious and like a failure.

This is if course an overreaction but when you are someone suffering with anxiety and depression you really don’t need anymore pressures that could potentially make you feel even more shitty about yourself so I gave up. But as the year has gone on I’ve thought more and more about how much I like to doodle and how a much more simplified version would actually be a very good thing.

I bought a cheap as chips notepad from Home Bargains which had lined pages and dots along the top and bottom for ease of lines.

I have a pot of pens and pencils that I dig out for doodling when I can so felt that I could use those so didn’t need to buy anymore stationary than that. I mostly used Berol felt tips, some thin nibbed black gel pens, pencils and a ruler. I decided to incorporate my favourite parts of the bullet journal I had done last year without all the stress so started with a simple drawing on the front page. This could be anything but I chose to make it displaying the year and my name.

For anyone who knows me or follows my Instagram you will know I love stars so these seemed to be perfect for the front page. I wanted inspirational quotes to play a huge part in this years journal as they do in everyday life but decided that the front page was good as it was. I then went on to a simple Index, I left four pages for this so I can have room to Index the whole book. This is really important for how I’m doing the journal as it will make finding what I’m looking for so much easier throughout the year.

I love lettering so really enjoy this but was amazed by how many lettering tutorials there are on Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram so even if you are someone who isn’t too keen on lettering you can find a font that looks good and that you can master simply. I then added pages for goals and aims, blog ideas and hopes and dreams for the year. I can fill these in as I go and reflect back on them at the end of 2018. As you can see I’ve not quite finished the colouring in but it gives you an idea and is really simple. I’m not tracking anything, giving myself dates to get stuff done by but simply jotting down things as they come into my head.

In the templates I have seen many others use the pages after this for all the various trackers, favourite quotes, meal plans and all manner of other bits and pieces but again I found this hard as I wasn’t sure how many pages to leave before I started my actual diary and if I wanted to add others in it would look odd after so I’ve kept it simple again and just gone straight into the year.

For every new month I’ve used a double page spread for the month with a drawing and a notes section but this could be adapted in anyway which suits you best. That’s the thing, it needs to suit you and help you not confuse you and leave you feeling daft for not doing it in the way everyone else is. Again these aren’t all finished but these give you an idea and I have to say it’s so relaxing doing that monthly page that I am really looking forward to doing all the others.

Again the beauty of this is that you can do it however you want so January is a bit different but as I went on I found what works for me best and what I enjoyed most drawing. Then I went really controversial and used a double page spread for the month so a line for each day of the month, it’s much quicker to do, will still give me the space I need but didn’t need so much effort put into it that I ended up giving up after the 76,000th shout of ‘Mummy!’ From the boys. I managed to get the whole year marked up in less that a day and with opportunities to add on as I wanted which felt like a real achievement.

At the end of every month I put a gratitude page and a reflections page for the month and there is plenty of space to add favourite quotes, doodles and stick things in should I want to.

Then after the year I started to add on the additional pages I wanted to, no trackers as I have neither the time or the pressure of them but a page for meal ideas, a page for house ideas and I’m sure there will be others to come as the year goes on. Here I can doodle my favourite quotes and stick in pictures. All of these can be found easily by the Index and I have loads of room to add on as many pages as I want up to the end of the notebook because I’ve kept the journal so simple.

There are so many different ways for doing these bullet journals and none are right or wrong. I’ve kept it simple, functional and easy to maintain so I can make the most of the mindfulness and organisation while not pressuring myself to keep up with trackers and charts. I can write down as little or as much as I want or I can simply use it as a diary to keep up with all the things going on in my life.

I hear you say that I could just go and buy a diary but as I said the thought that I have created something totally bespoke to me and suitable for my needs is a great feeling. It also gives me somewhere to be creative and something to share with others (I’ve already had some questions about where I got the idea from) now I don’t have masses of free time and run around like a mad woman (oh the irony) most of the time but one of my biggest moans of the last year was feeling unorganised. This will assist and can always be with me only being in a small notepad.

There are lots of journals and planners already made up for this purpose and some that are fantastically aimed at those with MH issues to all degrees however because I love to draw this option suited me better. So many people have acknowledged that next year they want to live life more simply and this is one of those ways for me, doing something I want to do but in my own way in a simple manner.

I would love to hear what you think, to see if you’ve been inspired to do anything similar and how you are going into 2018. Feel free to get in touch!

Thank you for reading this year, for being there, for taking on board me and all the crap I go on about and for supporting Tired From Whitstable, both here, in the newspaper and across my social media. I am blown away and can honestly say you make a crazy woman very happy!

Happy new year you lovely people xx

Craft with kids, otherwise known as ‘I need a great big drink’……

Hey all, how are we? 

On a day where we are celebrating St George’s day, all the amazing runners in the London Marathon, the anniversary of the death of one of the most famous Britons ever William Shakespeare what am I doing? Clay modelling with Nate!

My mum helps each week with a homework club for some older children in Whitstable and each week she is in charge of the craft project. This always involves an element of planning and often the boys get a glimpse of what fun the children have in store. Mum being who she is can’t say no to the boys so each week at some point we recreate the craft activity of the week with them.

Last week mum had been loaned a book full of craft projects from a friend to decide some upcoming activities. On Friday afternoon when we popped over for a cuppa Nate of course looked at the book and decided that there and then he wanted to make creations with papier-mâché, modelling clay and wood. Now who actually has these things to hand? Massive overtired tantrum ensued (I so needed my wine on Friday night!)

Today Karl has a work football match and had planned to take one of the boys with him. He chose to take Nate because he is the easiest, the most compliant and the one more likely to listen, not set fire to anything or break a bone. However Leo (the fire starter) desperately wanted to go. I tried some bribes but it was no good, Leo wanted to go with Daddy. At one point I think Karl nearly had a tantrum himself but off he went nevertheless.

Nate then declared (I think this was his plan all along) that we could do some of the craft projects from the book. I thought an afternoon walking around a wildlife park or playing on the beach would be on the cards but oh no, we were going to do crafting! Any of you who read my blog or know me will be aware that I’m all for crafting, I love to draw and take on little projects. I however have the patience of a hungry baby and I really struggle with craft and the children.

Still we came round to Nana’s (where the sacred book is) equipped with the heaviest bag of modelling clay in the world and we began. At first Nate wanted Nana to help so I made the tea (something I am quite skilled at) but after making two pencil holders in the shape of funny faces it was time for me to get involved.

Nate chose to make a desert island. Simple, all you need was a large piece of card, some cling film, modelling clay, acrylic paints, some sculpting tools, some sprigs of plants and paint brushes. That’s all! So we began by painting the sea on the card, applying the large clay island, cling film all over for the full sea and wave effect and then modelled a volcano, a beach, a small rowing boat, a whales tail to stick out of the sea and some shark fins. 

Then it was time to paint the clay, Nate wasn’t happy with the traditional colour of blue, red, green or yellow so we set up a mixing station until we were able to create a shade he was totally happy with. He painted not only the island and various accoutrements but also himself, the table cloth and me. 

Mum then appeared with small bits of tree to be placed on and the island was complete! I had managed to survive the carnage and hadn’t had one impatient outburst or felt the need to take it all away. I did however repaint one of the pencil holders after he had left the table as it appeared he had painted it blindfolded. It was actually because he had one eye on the painting and the other on the Horrible Histories William Shakespeare special on the tele. That’s how I know the fact mentioned above not because I am a history expert! 

One day and probably not that long into the future the thought of sitting with his mum and Nana will bring Nate nothing but dread so I am pleased to have had some time to sit and watch the magic little man we made and enjoy his company (even if he was flicking paint at me!) I just hope magic creation number two is behaving for daddy at the football.

Have a great week you lovely people xx

wellbeing, creativity and violence?

I read a hilariously funny thread on The Motherload Page on Facebook this morning about a mum who had some choice words to say about Kirstie Allsopp and her home made Christmas programme. The thread turned into such  a laugh that I had to stop reading as my post surgery tummy really couldn’t handle it.

This has got me thinking this morning about just how differently we see and think about things as mums. For any of you who haven’t seen it Kirstie has made a series of shows for the last few years about her making and crafting things for Christmas. These have included things such as driftwood trees, garlands, embroidered gifts, homemade chocolates and chutneys and on this weeks show pears dipped in gold leaf and used as place settings. The whole ethos behind it is to lose mass produced expensive gifts for handmade and cheaper unique alternatives.

Now I am a bit of a Kirstie fan and love her ideas of creating things for your home from old peoples junk. I also view this with dreaming eyes as I know I neither have the time or the cash to invest and renovate in old items. However it is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine to watch such shows and come Christmas I do get a real kick out of all the amazing crafts, artisans and ideas that her programme showcases.

In real life I like to do craft, I am a fan of drawing and lettering as you all know and I love a bit of papercraft. This does not mean I am very good at it though and I can recall last Christmas getting very uppity after watching what felt like a million you tube videos on how to fold paper stars and not actually achieving any and making what resembled boomerangs. Karl however tried one and ended up folding a perfect star which I still have on my dressing table now as a reminder of how much I made him laugh pouting as I couldn’t get it right!

I have found this year a way of making cardboard barn stars which not only have I managed but I also really enjoy so now the house resembles the bit in Elf where poor Buddy goes into overdrive making snowflakes. Cooking and baking, I barely get by, crochet and embroidery, I’m more likely to stick a needle in my eye and end up in hospital and things like felt make my teeth go funny when it rubs together and makes that funny noise! Anyway my point is as much as I enjoy watching and looking at such crafts I am no good at them and leave it to the professionals. For me though there is a kind of relaxation or therapeutic element to watching such arts being undertaken.

Some of the comments on the Motherload this morning however spoke of wanting to punch Kirstie, how unrealistic her ideas are and how the money she was spending (gold leaf on a pear for example) would be much better spent on other more important things (like prosecco or chocolate Baileys I thought!) I did note that her own children didn’t take part in the show and she uses other children who do not belong to her and do crafts well and behave impeccably. I imagine this is because she like the rest of us knows that if you try and do anything with your own children they see it as a cue to misbehave, cause merry hell and eat everything in sight. Kirstie is a mum to boys too so she like me will face challenges such as arm wrestles over who gets to eat the most cherries, tears and tantrums over the metallic sharpies and constant games of hide and seek because the scissors have gone missing…… again!

It can be seen as yet another pressure on busy mums at Christmas that not only do you need to buy everything, get it all wrapped and ready and have the kids at home for two weeks you also need to make things yourself and spend countless hours doing so and then delivering them with a smile looking glam and not pissed (because of all the prosecco and Chocolate Baileys!)

Kirstie Allsopp will have at the very least, a team of researchers, a make up artist, a hair stylist, an assistant, a runner, someone who cleans up as she goes, someone who buys the stuff in for her to use and childcare on tap. She is also a famous celebrity who has plenty of cash to spend on gold leaf, artisan chocolate and things that are sold at posh Christmas Fairs. This is clearly not and never will be me, I am just happy if I get a compliment about my cardboard stars and a few likes on Instagram. I don’t think Kirstie wants to pressure us mums into a craft induced anxiety attack she is just doing her thing.

It really doesn’t matter what is under the tree this Christmas but who is sat around it. Whether that be your family, friends, moaning children, sleeping elderly relatives, drunk, sober, on their third bottle of chocolate Baileys or whatever. My point is that we are all bloody amazing and our families and friends are grateful to have us even if they haven’t got a place name marked with gold leaf or nothing but beans on toast for their dinner. Christmas is what we make it, we are who we make ourselves and no amount of gold leaf will do anything about that if we don’t believe it.

I leave you with a quote from Lady Cora from Downton Abbey, ‘You are being tested, and you know what they say my darling, being tested only makes you stronger’.