Boys and why I will never understand them…….

You all know that I have boys. I am the only girl and I have wholeheartedly had to embrace all manner of boy related activities that I have never before experienced in my life. However recently it feels like I am seeing the differences between the sexes in ways I never have before.

I’m not being sexist nor am I trying to generalise but I talk from my experiences as a mum of boys and the only woman in my home. Friends who have little girls that I have had the pleasure to spend time with say that their girls are content to just be. A classic example of this was a barbecue at a friends house last week. She has a boy and a girl. Her daughter sat around the table eating chocolate ice cream and conversing with the adults. Our son’s collectively ran around screaming, climbed to the top of the play house, splashed each other in the paddling pool and made a new carpet out of pop corn.

I must have said about a hundred times ‘this is my life’ and it’s absolutely true. I live in a bubble of screaming, wrestling matches, Lego and food fights. My toiletries are used to make magic potions, we get through at least two liquid soaps a week due to potion making and washing Lego (yes that’s a thing) my ornaments and pretty things are used as targets for Nerf guns, there are piles of old wrenches, tools and bits of old bottles around the house that the boys have excavated from the garden and I’m never more than 30cm from something that’s come from the sea whether that be a crab shell, claw, shells or bits of stinky cuttlefish.

With half of the house being a building site we have become a world of wonder to the boys who don’t just walk out of the new extension but swing like monkeys on the scaffolding poles. They try to climb the ladders, they pile up bricks to make dens and give the poor builder palpitations worrying about the aspects of health and safety. The poor cows who are now out in the field at the bottom of the garden keep staring into our garden and I feel the Mummy cows looking at me and thinking what I am ‘those boys, they never bloody stop’. I wonder if it is a sign of madness when you start to communicate telepathically with cows? Anyway I digress.

The boys are already showing signs of having no clue what girls are about. Nate and I ventured into a clothes shop last week and had to walk through the women’s section before reaching the kids clothes. Nate loudly gasped and said how rude it was that the mannequins weren’t wearing bras and how boring girls clothes are. No fucking clue of how many hours lots of men spend shopping with their partners. I have a lovely dressing table which when I first got I savoured filling the drawers with all my make up, toiletries and girly things. I can’t however use anymore space on the table itself than about a five cm gap because it’s always covered in lego, bogies, racing cars, shells, books, make up bits I didn’t leave there that have been stolen and used for war paint by the boys and all manner of other boy related crap that has no place on a dressing table.

Sometimes I wonder if I should just give in and get rid of anything girly because the time it would save me in cleaning up what they wreck would be immense but I still hold on to needing some girly stuff or I will lose my sanity (she lost it ages ago I hear you say!) I’m not really sure what the point of this post is other than to offer solidarity to any other mums out there who right now and sat in the middle of a game of volleyball in the living room, who have shouted at least three times today about putting the toilet seat down, cleaned up wee from around the side of the toilet and had to shut the fridge because apparently boys are far too busy to close doors.

I love them, they are my life and I would never be without them but I know now and can say without doubt or reservation that one day someone will say referring to one or both of my boys ‘Men! I will never understand them!’ Those people will have no idea how hard I have tried to get them to understand the opposite sex, to take on board how different we are and to show respect.

Must dash as my latest Ideal Home magazine is being ripped up to make paper planes. Much love xxx

Catching up……

Hello all, well I say all, to anyone who is reading this (it might only be my Mum) in which case Hi Mum!

I’ve been absent of late, I’m not so much having a writers block as a writers inferiority complex and I’m not sure how to get myself out of it.

Life has been going at about 100 Miles per hour and I feel like I’ve been neglecting so much that I’ve lost a bit of who me and the blog is about.

I’ve not written a column for the newspaper in over two months. I’ve not told them I’m having this confidence issue and it’s got to the point now that I’m too scared to contact them so I am in a weird stalemate where I’m not quite sure how to explain my absence but thinking that if no one has noticed perhaps they don’t mind it!

I’ve had to reschedule a lot lately and take stock of lots of things as there simply isn’t enough time to do all the things I was doing. I’m conscious that when I was recovering from my hysterectomy and was able to take the time I was writing like a Trojan. Well not a Trojan, maybe like someone who writes a lot, a writing machine if you like.

Nowadays I’m more likely to lay down than pick up my laptop and again I really don’t know where to start! My last post talked about how grown up I feel with all our building work going on and the responsibility that life brings. I guess this overwhelmed feeling is the one that is keeping me from chilling out and enjoying writing like I used to.

I do love to write, I love to write about life, my experiences and mental health. I love to read what others write and I love to take pictures. This has become a bit of a chore in some ways as I feel like I’m in constant competition with myself. If I lose a follower on Instagram (one of the school mums today, massive anxiety trigger!) I worry about why. I worry about whether my words are too much, I’m oversharing or just posting absolute rubbish. I worry about if people don’t like me and how perhaps taking a massive step back and not being so out there would help.

It occurs to me though it won’t. If people don’t like me (there are quite a few) then they aren’t going to start to like me just because I stop writing and close down my Instagram account. If people don’t like me there isn’t really much I can do about it. So all I can do is get on with my life and do whatever I want in order to keep myself and my family happy.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to blog more, to submit some pieces for the Huff Post and contact my editor at the newspaper. I’m going to continue to take pictures of things I love and share the message of how mental health effects us and how I suffer. Because that’s what I want to do. I want my boys to be able to read what I write one day and smile, to go through some of these feelings with me and to see how much I tried. Even if I do get it wrong (again lots of the time)

I am never going to be the world’s most confident person and I’m certainly never going to be able to get over some of the anxiety I feel walking into a room where I don’t know everyone or not knowing exactly who is there. But what I can do is smile and know that nothing in that room can have any power over me and my confidence unless I let it.

Lots of people in my life are going through absolute crap (you know who you are) and every day life has a way of putting things into perspective for me. Everyone has their demons, everyone goes through hard times and everyone has the opportunity of making you feel bad about yourself. You also have the opportunity to make people smile. It’s all up to you, it’s how you think and what you give power to. I think I need to start giving myself some more power and stop being so led by my fears, doubts and insecurities.

Sorry for the long ramble. I feel a bit better now! Hopefully won’t be so long before I’m posting again and can give you some positive updates.

Life is whatever you make of it, make it good.

Lucy xxx

S**t, I am actually a grown up…….

There are moments in all of our lives that cause us to stop and have realisations about who we are as people. I have experienced these moments like many others at key points in my life such as when I got married, bought a house, had the boys etc. These things all made me realise that I am growing up, maturing and becoming an actual adult.

You then seem to forget all that and just get on with it and find the days and weeks flying by before the next realisation hits you. This last couple of weeks I think I have felt the most grown up I ever have. For so long now we have planned on extending our house. We have had no idea what we are doing and yet have slowly managed to get plans, permissions, quotes, surveys and all manner of other building type terms that I can’t recall.

We found our builder and work was scheduled to start in Spring which at the time seemed like a million years away. Fast forward what seems like twelve minutes and all of a sudden Spring was here (well ish, stupid snow) and it was time to begin. You can imagine that we were as usual ill prepared so spent a week clearing out the old, damp conservatory which we filled with essentials such as the tumble dryer, toys, unwanted furniture from my many moves around and of course wine. Trouble is all of that needed to go somewhere so we then had to make space, recycle, condense and move everything out. My best idea was that I would be a great help by drinking all the wine. Karl didn’t seem as enthusiastic about this as I was though. Odd.

Anyway we managed it and Day one arrived. Armed with rolls, 7000 tea bags, bacon, biscuits and our most smiling faces the builders arrived and the conservatory was no more in less than half a day. We then had the start of this week where the actual build bit commenced. The trouble was I was on lates and Karl was on early shifts which meant solo parenting for the one of us who was home and all the ordinary responsibilities as well as dealing with the build.

Now I imagine you are thinking, hold on Luce, you aren’t building the place yourself and the answer is no I’m not. I would be awful at building and we would end up with a big mess. I was however the grown up here to make decisions. Decisions about patios, measurements and to answer questions about topics I know nothing about like coving, mud and trenches. I was in consultation with Karl but I really didn’t like the pressure.

On day one all went well, I got the kids to school with no massive issues, had a shower and got dressed before the builders arrived so there were no awkward flashing moments, did all the washing up, cleaned the kitchen, made bacon rolls, cups of tea and bought a biscuit tin which I filled with chocolate digestives for their elevenses. I did however do the kitchen jobs dancing to Dua Lipa who was playing loudly on my IPod and it was only when I went outside to deliver said bacon rolls I realised I could be seen dancing in only the way I can. So perhaps not such an accomplished grown up after all! We also shouldn’t mention when the builder turned up and told me that he was pleased the delivery had arrived and I told him we hadn’t had any deliveries and then for him to point at the giant digger that someone had parked on my driveway without me seeing or hearing. As if we do mention it I come across very badly!

Under the floorboards in the old conservatory we found a copy of the News of the World from June 1966 which although discoloured is in perfectly good condition. We also found a message etched into the concrete from the owner of the house before us who moved in with his wife when the house was built in the sixties, raised a family here and then sold the house to us I think to go and live with family who could care for him after his wife died.

I thought for a moment that he would probably be sad with the changes we are making but then it occurred to me that we like him are raising a family. A family that consists of two boys who eat anything and grow it seems at lightening speed.

Today being my first day off this week it has been nice to just watch how the builders are getting on, to take in the new and to let it hit me that I am a grown up. A dancing around the kitchen, awfully organised, do it all by the skin of my teeth grown up. I did get to work yesterday and after about an hour realise that I hadn’t done up the zip on my ankle boots but I’m chalking that down to tiredness!

Being grown up is an incredibly scary thing, it’s pressured, it comes with bumps in the road (or in our case storm drain pipes where the footings should be) and it tests you and your limits. It’s also amazing as you can be in charge of your own destiny, you can provide for the people you love and you can make positive decisions for their benefit. In this case the boys getting their own rooms so they don’t kill each other.

I have often thought that I would love to go back to my teenage years, to start afresh and not make all the mistakes, to learn the lessons sooner and to appreciate it more. I do though like the idea that 34 year old me is making the memories that one day I can write in the concrete about. Even if I am making them with the addition of some wrestling, screaming children and disagreements with Karl about where the log burner should go.

I will probably bore you to tears with the extension but if you are interested keep checking back for progress. You know there will be some comedy gold moments along the way!

Lucy xxx

A little less me than usual……

As any of you who suffer with mental health issues to any extent know sometimes they can rise up and smack you in the face when you are least expecting it. Sometimes life is just life, relatively normal, ticking along and suddenly you feel like you want the world to open up and swallow you just to keep from having to face the day.

Being honest I’ve had a few hints that this was coming, I’ve noticed myself looking in the rear view mirror of the car over the last week and not only using it to drive the car safely (yes sometimes I can manage driving!) but also as a way of criticising myself, comments like ‘look at your wrinkles’ and ‘shit job with your makeup today Luce’ have been creeping back in. I’ve been drawn to my bed to the point where getting up has been getting harder and some of the things I usually find joyful don’t seem to have been giving me the smile they usually would.

The final thing that has tipped me over the edge is the snow. I didn’t realise how much anxiety I had about driving in the snow until this morning. Yesterday karl was off and he has no issues driving in snow so it was something that I didn’t need to worry about. Today with the task of getting the boys to school and me to work I have literally gone to a million pieces. The thought of starting the car and skidding all over the place is all too much and I feel like my chest gets tighter every time I think about it. As it’s turned out Leo’s school is closed and I’ve decided not to risk driving to get Nate in after seeing the carnage on the hills going down into town on Facebook. Yet I’m frozen to the spot worrying. This ridiculous, illogical and quite frankly irrational worry is crippling me.

I have sorted a lift into work but I’m panicking about what will happen later if we can’t get home. I’m worried about karl getting home from work again. I’m worried that I don’t have the energy to get into the shower and that when I do get into work I will be less than useless. I’m worried because my sickness record is appalling thanks to my hysterectomy last year and I have to have my toe nail removed on Monday and I can’t be dealing with a spike in depression and anxiety now.

I am concerned that the people I love are getting fed up with how useless I have been lately, how little I have been myself and how much of a drain I am. Let alone the fact that soon I will be the one with one less toe nail and look like some sort of oddball. I’ve been in flip flops and one shoe on one off for about two months now and am getting a bit sick of it all.

I think reading this back it’s quite obvious why I’m feeling low. I have an exam coming up at work, some out of work commitments, an impending building project, surgery, a mess of a house and a general feeling that I’m absolutely not up to any of the tasks at hand. The snow seems to have been the straw that broke the camels back!

Being honest I’m not sure why I’ve written this post. It helps me to write things down, so I can make sense of how I’m feeling and so I know that anyone reading will understand why I’m not being myself. I also hope that other sufferers will like I often do take stock of the fact that I’m not the only one suffering. I know I have to keep going because I have no other choice but inside I want to curl up in a ball and sleep forever.

Be kind lovely people, look out for others, it may not make sense but many of us are not quite ourselves at the moment. If you managed to read this drivel I applaud you, not only do you deserve a medal but a massive cocktail with a sparkler and umbrella on me!

Sorry for being miserable. Hopefully I will be okay soon.

Lucy xxx

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

A very personal post……

Last Summer I got a semicolon tattooed on my left wrist. This was something that I had considered doing in the past but never quite been brave enough to go through with. Not because of the pain but because I wasn’t sure I wanted to announce permanently my struggles and put out there that I had dealt with such dark times that I considered that my life possibly shouldn’t go on.

I imagine some of you will know what Project Semicolon is and it’s message ‘your story is not over’. We use a semicolon in a sentence where we could have chosen to end it but actually decide to carry on. This is a very simple but incredibly powerful message.

Suicide is something that we all know about, we read about it, we see it on the news, we hear people discussing how it is the biggest cause of death of males under fifty and just how prevalent it is and yet we still don’t understand why people feel pushed to the point where they can no longer continue.

Not every person will suffer with mental health issues. Some people will suffer but to a lesser degree and some will need help for years and possibly the rest of their lives. It is however a fact that one in four of us will at some point suffer with a mental health issue. That’s huge, it essentially means you are never far away from someone who is, has or may in the future suffer. So why then are people’s misconceptions still so bizarre. Why do people who acknowledge they need help get judged for doing so and why do we in a world where mental health is being addressed in every society still refuse to acknowledge it’s just as worthy of recognition as any other medical issue?

You can never know what will happen to you in the future. One day you can be fine and the next crippled by something you don’t understand, not knowing where to turn and needing help for a crisis. This affects the richest people, the poorest people and all those in between. The triggers and causes may not be the same but MH doesn’t discriminate based on race, class, gender or location.

I have met in my journey so many people who have to deal with their mental health issues in all manner of different ways. Highly functioning people in powerful jobs, positions of authority and who are valued members of their community. I have also met people who have lost everything because of the way their mental health issues have affected them. This does not mean that either group of people have suffered anymore than the other just that they are alike in their issues.

Learning about, talking about and maintaining your mental health is not a weakness but an acknowledgement of a basic need. If we are low in a certain kind of vitamin we take supplements, if we have a broken leg we have a plaster cast. In essence we care for ourselves to make ourselves feel better and no one would blink an eye at someone on crutches in fact they would offer them help wherever they needed it. So why then when someone says they are having a mental health crisis do most people look awkward and want to walk away?

I’m not criticising, it’s hard and if you have never had mental health issues you will struggle to understand and comprehend what someone is going through however, we as human beings have the power to be compassionate, kind and to listen to others. You don’t have to understand someone’s journey to listen and offer support nor do you have to agree with their thought processes and needs. You just need to be kind because do you know what one day you might find yourself in a time of crisis and need just that from someone. Never take mental well-being for granted.

It needs to be maintained like any other avenue of health and is important for the world going forward. We want people who are aware of wellbeing and mindfulness and acknowledge their existence and validity not making sufferers feel that they have no where to turn and are being labelled as ‘over sensitive’ or ‘mental’.

In the last year I have considered ending my story. That overwhelming feeling that the world would be a better place without me, that I have nothing to add and that I can’t continue to fight the demons I have been waging war against for so long. I am proud that with help and support I decided that my story needs to continue. I am proud that on my wrist there is a semicolon for the world to see and to show I like millions of others suffer.

It’s a bit of a conversation starter, people want to know about your experiences and why you’ve ended up where you have. It’s also a great way of letting others know about the work being done by mental health organisations world wide.

Don’t dismiss mental health, don’t make those with mental health issues feel like they are weak or not as whole a person as anyone who isn’t suffering. Be kind and don’t be an asshole. You never know when you might need kindness and compassion from someone. It could be next year, in ten years or tomorrow but you may need it and you will be grateful for those who help as oppose to condemn.

You can see the work done by project semicolon here and also the fab people at The Blurt Foundation here who publish regular pieces on how depression especially affects you and where to go for help.

In conclusion mental health is just as important as physical health and we all have an obligation to remember this.

Please get in touch if you need to.

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