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

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’.

I need Baileys, paracetamol and the world’s biggest bar of chocolate……

I woke up this morning after a crappy day yesterday in so much pain, I hadn’t washed my hair in three days and was thoroughly convinced I smelled. 

I really wasn’t with it yesterday and didn’t really leave the bedroom much apart from a couple of small disasters such as running out of biscuits and Leo having lost every pair of scissors we own so trying to assist in locating some so Nate could make 3D stars (takes after his mother!)

When I actually left the bedroom this morning I couldn’t believe my eyes, it appeared that some sort of bizarre micro climate had swept through every other room in the house and a tornado had picked up everything we own and either smashed it to bits or thrown it into another room. Was it a tornado you ask? No it was Nate and Leo, just two small boys with a day off school fuelled with Christmas excitement and a mother recovering from major surgery who slept most of the day. Karl of course was around but in that strange biological mystery that is the difference in genetics between men and women he hadn’t noticed said tornado but apparently enjoyed that new car series Jeremy Clarkson is doing instead of Top Gear! 

I found a five pence piece in the plug hole in the bath, red icing on the kitchen floor, empty sweet packets secreted in various corners of the house and some pants on the living room floor. I had a small sense of humour failure, my OCD kicked in and I couldn’t quite process what to do to rectify it all. I decided to try and pick up all the decorations from the Christmas tree but it hurt, I tried to clean the icing off the floor but it hurt so instead I had a cup of tea.

We then had lunch, Nate wouldn’t finish his and when asked to eat the ham in his sandwich he said, ‘you know I’m no meat eater, I would rather be a triceratops’ we then watched a programme about great white sharks at Alcatraz (don’t ask) which Leo said he couldn’t watch as it was far too ‘old school’ for him (he is five) and now I think I will have a little snooze.

Happy weekend 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’.

Applicants please……

So when I was at school, 1995-2002 (yes I am that old!) I went to an all girls grammar school. It was a very good one, high on he league tables, full of amazing teachers and somewhere I could absolutely flourish.

One of the strongest memories of school was that we as women could do anything, we could be whatever we wanted to be and were encouraged to think outside the boxes convention had in the past put us in. I couldn’t tell you just how many conversations I was involved in about what we were going to be when we grew up, what our further education would be, what in the world would we change and how exciting those prospects were. I actually remember once totally judging another girl who said she wanted to be a mother and have a family. I wasn’t thinking about anything like that at that time in my life. My ambition and drive would get me a career way before I had the time to think about marriage and children.

How wrong and misguided I was. Please, please don’t get me wrong every single person in this world should be able to be what they want, who they want, to do what they want to do and to be happy but I also think we should remember that one of the most important and hardest jobs we will do will be to raise others in this world.

I have a career and it is massively important to me, I have worked hard and I have achieved things that make me very proud. I however back in the days of sixth form and dreaming of the life ahead of me would never have read the following job description and even considered applying:

‘WANTED: unpaid vacancy, 24 hour cover, sole responsibility at certain times for small human boss. Always on call, can never be absent without prior planning and permission, ability required to deal with situations under pressure, on demand and with a view to taking a lesser role after an 18 year probationary period however may be longer depending on the needs of the employer. Always financially responsible and expected to assist with all kinds of personal hygiene and bodily fluids.’

It’s funny as I wrote this I had to stop as Leo loudly exclaimed that he needed his bum wiping!

As women we have the ability to rule the world, we are also responsible for raising the future leaders of our world, the people of tomorrow are down to us and that is one hell of a job description. This is course the same for men and women but I do feel like at my school in particular we could have been more open and honest about the fact that although we could do whatever we wanted we also would have another hugely important and massively rewarding job if we chose to and that it would be the hardest, most testing and possibly the one we should be the most respected for in the future.

Just a thought for all for today xx