Another year in review…… how old am I?!

So…….. we are in that in between Christmas and new year bit for another year. I’m not quite sure how we have got here. I’m quite sure I told this year at the beginning that it wasn’t to fly by like 2017 did and that I needed some time to savour it all.

Apparently I am not in charge of the universe and am sat writing this post in a funny Christmas haze where I’m not sure exactly what the day is and I’m quite sure I don’t need to eat anything for another month at the very least.

I wrote an Instagram post about how I get so full of ideas, hopes and inspirations for the new year that I then get overwhelmed and end up just wanting to sleep and push a massive pause button (if anyone sees one please push it for me!) I’m not sure if this happens to others or whether it’s a part of me with my mental health struggles and whether it makes any sense to others at all. To be a person with low self esteem it can be really hard to make positive changes become effective as you manage to talk yourself out of them before you begin. It’s like a bizarre cycle of having great ideas, writing them down, getting excited about them, telling others who get excited for you and then saying ‘actually no, I’m too useless to do that’ and it all being forgotten. I am much better with this than I used to be but some of my inner critic still plays a massive part in my thought processes at this time of year.

2018 as years go was actually quite a good one. There were some big changes and lots of upheaval but all to good ends. We had our extension built and made our home suit us. We lived through and survived the building works without killing each other and have come to appreciate our home so much more. I have written more about mental health which for me has been a big thing. Not just because of the massive stigma that is still attached to having MH issues but also because laying yourself bare is hard. Reflecting on thoughts and feelings that hurt you or are painful is a difficult process however one which I realise for me is key. I often return to previous things I have written and acknowledge that I have made progress, been able to identify triggers have been able to smile on reflection.

This year I had an idea, an idea which started as a tiny thought in the back of my mind which was watered and eventually after my negative thoughts telling me I couldn’t do it ended up with me telling others and organising my first ‘Talking about Mental Health’ session in January. Since making the event public and the numbers of people confirmed to be attending has gone up I’ve spent a fair amount of time telling myself I’m ridiculous, that how dare someone like me think that I could help anyone and who the fuck am I to think that people might want to listen to me talk about mental health and small ways to cope with it. I’ve written emails out asking to cancel it ( and not sent them) and made numerous excuses in my head as to why it will never work. However I’m not doing that. I’m going to go and talk even if it’s just to my Mum (she is definitely coming!) and I’m going to keep talking. I will talk about mental health wherever anyone will have me. I will write about it, I will spread awareness of it and I will help people. Because my voice is worthy of being heard, my experiences real and I think I can offer something to others.

I would say that this year has become one of awareness for me. I took more time to maintain and improve my mental health because it is a necessity for me. I came off my antidepressants because of the side effects they were having. I made a conscious decision here that I needed to make a change and approached it with an open mind as to whether I would go onto others or not. I wasn’t going to give myself a hard time either way as I believe that if you need them antidepressants are amazing. As I type though I am currently not taking any. I have lots of thoughts about this as I have found the whole process very hard. It was physically and mentally exhausting and has meant I now have to increase my small measures to keep my depression and anxiety in check. If I need to go back on a different kind of antidepressant I will but for now I am on a journey with myself and it feels good to be learning more about me and what my mind needs.

My boys have grown in height and personality. They have been massively challenging and this year has been a tough one for Karl and I as parents. I am blessed and I know that to have children is a privilege denied to many and I take my responsibilities as a parent very seriously. This doesn’t mean though that I am very good at it or that I have any of the answers. I am from a family of mostly girls. I don’t get boys and I often feel sad that lots of their interests we don’t share. I go along with them of course but it’s hard to know that they would always rather talk about cars or minecraft than listen to me talk about some of the things I am interested in. I do though when I look at the bigger picture realise that they are patient with me when I stop to take pictures of flowers or they walk in when I’m doing yoga on YouTube (you should see their faces!) they are also very good at helping with my Instagram pictures and show an interest in what I am doing even if they roll their eyes when I ask them to pose holding a candle!

Boys are tough when they are young so people keep telling me, they test boundaries, struggle with surging testosterone and finding their identity. With only a year age gap and both being keen spirited and strong it makes for interesting times and due to shift work and being on my own a lot it adds to some of the parenting fun but I love the boys more everyday and watching them grow is nothing short of an adventure.

As I do every year I learned a lot about myself in 2018 and grew to appreciate the people I love more and more. There are always hardships in any relationship but I honestly believe that if you can rely on the people you love no matter what you do, have done, your mood or how hard work you are then you have it made. Some of the hardest lessons I have learned is that not everyone will stay in the dark times and actually those people never loved you anyway. You become very wary of those kinds of people and you learn a lot from them (it may not feel like it at the time but it will all be good lessons) I hope that the people around me know that they in turn can rely on me in the same way and that I will fight for those I love when I need to. There simply isn’t time in the world for false friendships and toxic relationships and this I’ve learned over the last couple of years is something I am totally allowed to walk away from. We are all entitled to take things out of our lives that cause hurt or upset and we must never forget it.

I am excited for 2019, to build on the lessons from this year, to host more mental health talks, to become more aware of my own mental health and to help others to do the same. To spend time with the people I love, to smile more, to visit places I have never been and to have a better relationship with my own body. To be kind to me for once instead of filling myself with negative thoughts and to know it’s okay to not be okay all the time and to acknowledge that no one has a perfect life and if they say they do they are lying!

I’ve met some amazing people this last year and can’t wait to spend more time with new friends and meeting some new ones along the way.

I am so grateful to each and everyone of you who reads my blog, who takes the time to say hi, to click like, to follow me here or on my social media and who accept me for who I am. The glorious mess that I am and to not make me feel bad about it. I hope you continue to read in the coming year and that you know how much I appreciate you listening.

Here’s to 2019!

Advertisements

Tension headaches, power problems and pesky button holes…….

Hey all, how are things? I am now on day six of what has been diagnosed by the doctor as a tension headache. This is something I feel like I have been suffering with for sometime but have never really been sure of the cause. The doctor asked me what do I have to be stressed or tense about. Now I didn’t cry or list off the things I feel are contributing to my stresses but it has caused me to do some serious reflecting and to think about all the things that I currently have going on. From a serious renovation and extension project to a change of role at work to my normal battles with my anxiety and depression and of course being a mum to two boys who have spent far more time in the local minor injury clinic this last week than I am happy with.

Life is as always fast paced and terribly busy. I am slowly realising that this is my life and I just need to work out ways within it to keep me on an even keel and not suffering from brain splitting headaches. I am going to try and get more into meditation, I am going to make more time for reading as I always find that escapism in some way comforts me, I am going to try and eat right (yes I acknowledge this means I have to stop eating all the peanut M&M’s!), cut down on alcohol and appreciate the tiny things more. I also am going to put more into my journaling and to make a point of writing a little something every morning before I begin my day about what I am worrying about, what I would like to achieve and what I am grateful for.

I realise I need to identify times that are the most likely to cause extra stress and tension and plan better for them. For example this week when the plasterers are in the house and everything is a total whirlwind coupled with Karl being in Ireland I have been in a massive spin. I as always put some of my thoughts and feelings on Instagram and some of my lovely friends there were able to give me some reassurances. A very wise lady who I have met through Instagram Gabrielle Treanor asked me what I could put to one side this week to not add to the additional stress. She also asked me what I could do every day to make time for my own wellbeing and offered to check in on me to see how I am doing. Today being the first day I have done nothing so far but write as I am waiting for delivery of our new wardrobe doors so I’m stuck in a sense. I will of course let you know how I get on with this as I am not keen on just taking pills to get rid of these headaches and would rather try and fight them naturally.

So to start the day as I meant to go on I came to my mums this morning for the boys and I to get ready as the plasterers were arriving early. Now this means even more dust and it was just easier to make use of my parents house. They were out this morning so I started pottering about to get ready. I was upstairs when I could smell toast being cooked downstairs, I smiled as it’s nice that the boys are taking responsibility for themselves but also had a shudder wondering what could go wrong. I sorted the clothes and came downstairs to make some tea. I opened the fridge to get the milk and noticed the fridge light wasn’t on. I thought this odd but that was it and continued to fill the kettle and put the teabag in the cup. It was only when the kettle wouldn’t switch on that it finally twigged that something wasn’t quite right. It was only then also that I heard a loud pitched alarm type sound that continued to beep every minute and a half thereafter. The power was quite clearly out.

I had no idea where the circuit box is in my parents house but assumed it was under the stairs. I couldn’t find it so called Karl as I couldn’t get hold of my mum. He was just getting on a plane and you could tell giddy at the prospect of a child free few days but told me that the circuit box was in my parents garage and that I would need to move a few bits out of the way but should be able to sort it. So I opened the giant garage doors (still in my pyjamas as I planned on showering at mums) only to find what I can describe as a mountain of gardening equipment surrounding the worlds smallest circuit box. I had to move a garden mower thing, a wheel chair, camping equipment, two scooters, a go kart and all manner of other heavy garden type machinery before I could even get near to the circuit board. All the while I was doing this I could hear the boys screaming at each other. I managed to flick the switch and went back inside to check that the power had turned back on. It had and I ignored World War Three raging between the boys to go back outside and try and get all the bits back in the garage.

I have never been much good at jigsaw puzzles so this life size version wasn’t going well. Not helped by the fact that the giant lawn mower leaf blower thing kept wheeling itself off along the driveway every time I let go of it. eventually I managed to get it all in and got back into the house dripping with sweat and looking like stig of the dump. I then had to deal with the broken items that the boys had damaged while waging World War Three and still had both them and I to get ready. I clicked the kettle on and the whole lot shorted again. You can imagine how my stress and tension levels were then!

Leo had a Royal Wedding themed day at school today and along with his smart wedding attire we foraged in the garden and made a beautiful button hole for him out of cow parsley, forget me nots and other greenery. I put it in a bowl with some water last night and into the fridge to keep it nice and fresh for this morning. The only trouble was that when it came out of the fridge it had turned into an ice cube and had to spend much of the morning defrosting before I decided that I couldn’t send him to school with a floral ice cube strapped to his shirt so gave up. I did however tell as many people as I could on the school run that we had made a button hole but I’m sure the vast majority thought ‘yeah whatever, what idiot turns a button hole into an ice cube?!’

I hope that my ramblings have in some way made you smile and I admit that because I can’t do anything else other than wait for wardrobe doors I am going to make another cuppa (and hope it doesn’t short the power again!) and just sit and be for a bit. What’s the worst that can happen?

Have a great day lovely people, Lucy xxx

If you want to read more about the work of my lovely friend Gabrielle Treanor click here.

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

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.