#9yo collect moments

An annual blog post that is selfish in nature but I hope that I inspires you to also capture moments of growth and joy within your world. I now have a mighty nine year old and by capturing these yearly questions I’ve realised he came into the world knowing who he was and what he liked. In essence the answers he has given have been the same answers since he could speak…green has always been his favourite colour and despite eating a wealth of flavours from across the world…pizza is his go to. As a result this year I’ve altered some of the questions for a little more information.

1. What’s something I might not know about you? You don’t know what I do at school because you aren’t there

2. If you was a teacher and you had to teach your students something, what would it be? Probably mythology and drama – not together.

3. What’s your favourite fruit? Avocado

4. What do you like to watch on TV? Star Wars

5. What do you like to eat at lunch? Bagel with avocado and Turkey

6. Who’s in your family? My Mum, Dad, Pearl (our dog) Burple (leopard Ghecko) and Nathaniel (tortoise)

7. What item of clothing do you most like to wear? My coat with the fur collar (recorded in summer whilst temperatures are in the high twenties)

8. What game do you like to play? Rugby and football

9. What’s your favourite animal? Crocodile

10. What song do you most like? The theme song from Moon Knight (Marvel film)

11. What makes you feel thankful? I have things other people don’t

12. Favourite book? All of them, I could never pick? (The boy adores reading)

13. What makes a good friend? Someone that can help you, listen to you and is loyal. Kindness is essential but not just how they treat you but how they treat those around you…

14. What’s your favourite sport? Rugby

15. If you had a pet dragon what would you name it? Well what kind of dragon is it? (I let him pick as I’m not down with the dragon selection?) …moonblade

16. What do you sleep with? Teddies and pillows – so many pillows

17. What do you like best for breakfast? The triple carb that I invented at Laurens wedding (my cousin)… *bread, Nutella, a croissant, Nutella and bread. He named it, built it and devoured it.

18. What qualities are important in a person? Helpful, kind and someone polite and generous, that likes to stand up for people in need, some adults don’t even say thank you!

19. What do you think the world needs more of? More pets, love and choices

20. What’s your favourite dinner? Pizza and macaroni cheese. (Yup, he puts the macaroni on top of the pizza)

Waves are the ripples of the hard work that came before

This quote came from a thought in my head, an original fridgesays quote!

It may be because my horoscope is a water sign, that I’m a summer baby or that I live not to far from the sea but I am at home in water. I like to drink it, have bubble baths, swim, scuba dive, paddle, play, or just watch the tide…for authenticity, I don’t enjoy washing up.

Tidal waves are magnificent; the push and pull from the moon, the swish and swirls of the lapping sea as it consumes the beach in one big mouthful and then spits it’s out in a repellent manner, white foam bubbles around my toes as I timidly paddle (I’m based in the UK so even in summer the sea is like an ice box). I remember the first time I body boarded in Barbados (much warmer) and got to grips with the rhythm of the sea and where I needed to place and angle the board…hard work but so thrilling as the sea lifted me and catapulted my body to the shore effortlessly. I was addicted.

When you are working hard with a positive intention, when you know the purpose of the task at hand and aren’t doing for how it makes you look. When working hard helps others, then much like the ripple of a stone landing in a pond of still water – you can quickly see the ripple effect around the centre of where you put the action in.

I believe that when you apply hard work for the correct reasons, the ripple goes well beyond your knowing. Perhaps in time the ripples get larger or even less defined – they are still present and working for the greater good.

I once taught a sixteen year old girl in school who decided to increase her grade. She threw herself into the process fully even though her predicted grade was far lower, she wanted to take law at ‘A’ level, later through her career she wanted to help women like her mother who had struggled following domestic violence. She had a clear goal and so she threw herself into her studies and we revised daily – she would come to me for practise questions, take them home, bring them back and I’d mark them. She wasn’t happy until each question was better than the last. When it came to sitting the exam she was as calm as a tranquil lake, she knew what she had to do and I knew she could do it, how could she not?

This isn’t a suspense novel, so much like you thought – she smashed it. Her ripples went on to move her closer to her goal and now she has just completed her first year with a firm that advocates for the very cause she first threw her rock into the pond for. No doubt the action and clear vision she had at sixteen is still having a ripple effect today and everyday she helps victims of domestic violence be heard and seek justice.

The ripples don’t end in that pond, she inspired me beyond belief, her peers had nothing but praise for her and of course her mother wept on results day when she moved her grade up by four and got full marks. I retold her story and other pupils became intoxicated by the ripple effect. You see we don’t always see the full effects of our actions – she may not appreciate the gratitude of families surrounding the women she will continue to help, the pupils in younger classes who I shared her story with – perhaps even you will somehow be caught in the motion of her action. For you, this post won’t feel like hard work but flow – it may inspire you to take on a similar goal or to apply it to something aligned with your purpose, you may share this post with others and the ripples will continue.

Remember, hard work is just the first step but the legacy lives on beyond the furthest ripple.

The beginning is always today

Quote by Mary Shelley

Whatever we do, where ever we go the clock ticks and time moves forward. Often we seek out new beginnings and fresh starts. The western calendar is designed to seek out ‘new’ opportunities…New Years Eve, birthdays, baby showers, you can purchase cards for new jobs, say congratulations on learning to drive, or a new home.

Often as dates loom we can become anxious about the change, only to step into the adventure and realise ‘it wasn’t so bad’ – things often aren’t. The human mind, our own mind can often be our worst enemy – reality is often a cuddly kitten compared to the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘I hopes’ , that said kitten scratches can hurt.

Being present is hard in a world that whirls and never stops. But WHAT IF today is your new beginning. For every new day you have until your last breath you have a new chance. You don’t need to celebrate it (although a dance party a day is never something I regret) you just need to seize it…to not waste it, to make the most of it and to cherish it. If you think action is needed, some of the most nourishing days I’ve been blessed to experience have been snuggled, static and calm.

Perhaps you have a new job that starts in a few weeks, the new beginning began the day you applied for the job, the adrenaline of the interview, the wait to hear how it went.

You may be going on holiday over the summer vacation – the day you researched where you were going, looked at reviews on line or flicked through brochures – the holiday began. Instead of saying your holiday is in three weeks time, enjoy the journey – treat yourself to a new outfit to wear, in the supermarket add in some suntan lotion…the holiday process is so much more than two weeks abroad.

Squeeze the newness out of each day, the beginning is there for you to hold and for you to enjoy. Whilst I can’t say each day will be joyful, I can say that when you wake the next day you are given an opportunity to do things differently, to be a better version of yourself and to start again. This is the gift of life.

It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger

Anon

Happy April all. When I saw this quote I thought it was applicable for so many aspects of life, if not every angle.

From my own experiences of loss and grief, time doesn’t heal, in fact I usually find it bites me hard on the arse every time I drop my guard. Grief opens a void of possibilities within the mind; what would the loved one be doing now? thinking about how they would love or hate experiences you’re having…the list is never ending, anniversaries swing around and you feel a combination of confusion and sadness. Much like this quote, it doesn’t get easier but you do get stronger. You have to.

My son has just finished his first season of Rugby festivals, he has been thrown into a new set of rules around contact and him and his team mates have had to learn so many skills beyond the rugby ball…resilience, how to fall, how to get back up when you fall, gratitude, being humble (we’re working on this), techniques, finding your place to shine in a team…on the way home from his last game of the season he remarked how much easier it was becoming. I gently reminded him that if anything the matches he played today were harder as all the teams are improving but that he was stronger. Strength isn’t always physical (although it helps in a contact game of Rugby), but that his team had also become stronger in mind and emotional resilience. Experience helps to soothe the strain of making things feel ‘easy’ and I’ll never forget the children’s petrified faces as opponents tackled, pursued, blocked and dropped them on their first contact game.

When I’m facing something new, scary or preparing to take a next detour on the road of life, I often remind myself of other things I’ve done that felt similar and that I over came; new jobs, moving home, body changes or committing to a goal. Even with age, change doesn’t get easier but I do believe we get stronger.

This week as new challenges arise, new days dawn and opportunities knock on your door or you run down the street after them, remember that very little, that’s easy in life is worth doing, but effort, repetition and commitment can make it feel easier, why? Because we are always stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

You can never be overdressed or over educated

Quote Anon

This quote made me giggle and then it echoed deeply within me, therefore I’m going to deconstruct this quote into two sections

You can never be overdressed

As someone who has substantial experience in this area, I’d say it isn’t about the clothes but how we feel. Within my job I go into schools and complete observations of children aged 4-16 years. It’s essential they don’t know I’m there for them, as this would alter their behaviour, for this reason I often use my wardrobe as a dressing up box…observing a four year old in a sandbox is very different to a sixteen year old in a formal learning setting. A couple of weeks a go I was suppose to see a fourteen year old boy in an English lesson, he didn’t turn up and so I was about to abort the observation when his Head of Year said that he’d turned up to his next lesson…I grabbed the chance and made my way to PE. I introduced myself to the class teacher, explaining he should completely ignore me and not draw attention. He remarked ‘I think you’ll do that yourself, we’re doing Boxercise on the field”…whilst it was true my formal fuchsia dress with black 6 inch stiletto heels could be considered a give away on a large expansive field…heels and twirly dresses are my comfort zone. Grass and heels are irrelevant. I smiled at the teacher and said ‘this isn’t my first rodeo’ and strutted to the field. I found a bench and sat making notes. Did the child notice me? No.

There are so many components within life that make things challenging, why do we let our clothes restrict us? Four year old go to the supermarket contently dressed as superhero’s with wellington boots, why don’t adults? Right now are you wearing a wardrobe that you feel good in? Whilst I wouldn’t recommend heels for running marathons, like most quotes there is a context to be taken into consideration. For the majority of the time, wear what makes you feel fabulous!

You can never be over educated

I don’t think this requires formal training, exams and certification, nor does being educated require institutions and walls. People who seek knowledge, who’s intelligence shines like a soldiers boots, have a thirst for knowledge. They seek sources of information from various places, compare and reach their own conclusions. To be over educated is impossible – whilst the world spins and new theories are born, there is always something different to learn. Humans who have been recognised as leaders in their field, such as Einstein often dedicated their lives to destroying old theories, asking bigger questions and not settling for mainstream concepts. My hope for everyone is that you never stop learning.

…and where possibly wear whatever you feel sensational in.

A beautiful day starts with a beautiful mindset

Quote Anon

Well-being websites have made ‘morning routines’ cliche and thinking about them can be another ‘to do’ on the list of ever growing ‘what we should do’ tasks. Do you have one? If you don’t have a conscious morning plan you probably have one through habit, as humans we tend to find patterns and stay in them.

Over the years I’ve had 5am starts with exercise, self care and nourishing food and much later wake ups with barely a comb through my hair before I’m out of the door.

If I’m honest I’ve only found a few things have stuck and enriched my life. I also think your morning rituals are only as beneficial as the quality of your sleep. Below are some things I found useful for an improved mindset

Gratitude journal: I’ve kept a gratitude journal since 2017 and have written 3 things I’m grateful for each day. I also write down 3 intentions for my day; sometimes they are practical objectives like completing tasks and sometimes they are more creative or magical. There are two big lessons to take away from my journal, firstly it instantly makes me feel good, the second is that after about six months of this daily habit it became second nature and gratitude has become a super power. Having control of my mindset from the moment I wake doesn’t mean my days are hassle free, but I certainly have a positive disposition and I believe my journal helps support and nurture this habit. So even if things do become negative, my growth mindset means I can alter my own perspective easier.

Change it up: This goes for everything you may do in the morning, if you’re short of time then having your clothes out ready is one less dilemma for the morning, but sometimes (when time allows) it can be hugely joyful to try on different things and restyle old looks. When it comes to food I’ve always been a fad eater – one minute a certain food is my favourite and I don’t want anything else, the next I’m over it and it’s the last thing I want to eat. Whilst this was annoying for my Mum when I was growing up (particularly when she’s bought 20 boxes of my favourite snack, only for me to abandon the idea and move on) it means my body is getting a larger variety of nutrients. Currently I try to never have the same breakfast twice in a row and have found the variety also makes eating less predictable and more enjoyable.

Take time to adjust: most recently I’ve taken deliberate time to wake slowly. Again, growing up I was a pocket rocket and would instantly wake, jump out of bed and get on with my day. I know many of you may not relate and may find waking hard, this could include several snooze alarms and an eternal battle to motivate yourself whilst counter arguing about all the reasons you should stay put wrapped up like a burrito in your bed…somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. Now I tend to wake earlier than needed but not move. I give my body and my mindset time to process the day, I drink tea or hot lemon water in bed and write in my journal. Since doing this I’ve found the flow of my day is more consistent and I don’t resemble an octopus trying to accomplish eight things at once, my mind is focused and I often flow with easy into my day

What are your top tips for an effective morning routine? Have you recently altered things? Would you agree that much like the changing seasons, different times of year call for different routines?

We are our choices

Quote from J P Sartre

So we’ve arrived in 2022, most of us a little worst for wear, but we are here. Looking around you have arrived in the lifestyle choices you made last year. Our current body is made from the food and lifestyle choices we make…I am currently a very content ‘cheese and beans jacket potato’ – it was made even more delicious as I really fancied it, it meant stopping off on the way home for large potatoes and then waiting over an hour for it to cook but good decisions aren’t always instant.

Sometimes we can feel we don’t have choices (like we don’t have any potatoes), stepping back from the situation and reassessing what we can do (buy potatoes) often provides a solution or a pathway around the issue, leading us to our desired choice. The universe often has a way of providing either what we desire or something even better. Very few situations as adults lack choice, they’re either a manifestation of the choices we made to get there or the result of choices that we rushed into and didn’t think about the consequences of.

When children show antisocial behaviour (hitting, kicking or biting) its often because they lack the ability to communicate how they feel, instead they demonstrate it in actions. All of humanities behaviours are simple communications…basic maths will tell you that making choices that are positive, caring and thoughtful, often result in positive outcomes for yourself and those around you. Sometimes life throws us curve balls and it can feel like we don’t have choices, below is a list of ways you can make better choices moving forward:

* listen to your own instinct, it’s got your back and often will steer you in the right direction (unless you over think it)

*don’t overthink it, instead remember knowledge is power and always check your sources are valid and reliable

* balance is the key, so with a healthy dinner and plenty of exercise I can afford to indulge in a less nutritious dessert should I wish.

* make sure the people you surround yourself with are aspiring in the same direction as you, seek advice when needed from trusted souls

* good sleep often helps you to think with clarity

Have a wonderful 2022 and feel your world with choices that make you and those around you smile.

Do your thing

Quote Anon

As I wrote that quote I could hear my Year 9 English teacher Mrs H saying ‘Don’t use words like ‘stuff or thing’ it’s not specific’…well Mrs H, everyone’s ‘thing’ is different and this covers all bases.

Sometimes in life we forget who we are or what we enjoy simply because we get caught in the flow of life. We crawl through Monday morning as we reluctantly get out of bed, blink and often it’s Saturday afternoon…time flies not just when you’re having fun but when you are caught in the momentum of hum drum life…shower, work, drive, prepare meals, sleep and of course repeat.

Or events throw us off course and sometimes we forget who we were before the event, that can sometimes be a blessing as we are here to grow and thrive, but sometimes we can lose the magical moments of joy that we use to have. I remember about four months into having my son and contemplating returning to work I had to write a list of the things I enjoyed – not us as a family or me as a mother, but Lucy…what did I do before parenting knocked on my door and caught me in a baby led tsunami of nappy changes and baby snuggles?

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you to reflect on what you enjoy, the ‘things’ that make you happy – not other people, but hobbies, past times and ‘things’. Make time in the next few days to do some of these; stay true to your morals, values and political beliefs, faith and attitudes and just do you. Don’t also be surprised if you also can’t think of any, adulting has a habit of snatching these from us. You may need to take a few minutes alone, grab a pen and paper and jot them down. All of the ‘things’ may not be available to you in this moment due to finance or your current situation but staying true to your sense of self can mean these can be achieved down the line.

Doing ‘you’ is your superpower and the world needs more of your unique vibe. Stepping into your sense of self, your happy place also makes you a better person when you return to your loved ones. Happiness leads to more moments of joy and don’t we all need a little more of that as we step in to 2022. Well, I’d love to write some more (because writing is another joy of mine) but I’m off to walk in forests, sip tea, light candles and eat cake.

Thankful, grateful and blessed

This morning I was writing in my gratitude journal, something I’ve done for nearly 10 years and I realised that in this moment I’m am blessed.

This doesn’t mean life is perfect, nor am I any where near fulfilling my dreams but I do feel content.

Contentment can be our enemy. It’s like a warm bed…we just don’t want to leave it and so we roll over and hide our nose under the covers to stay warm. It can mean we strive for less and settle for ‘now’ and exist rather than live.

However, I’ve recently discovered that whilst I can strive for more I can also acknowledge that being content is a privilege. Through being thankful for what I do have, the worries I don’t have and choosing to see gratitude in all of my blessings doesn’t mean I don’t want more, but it’s a wonderful place to be!

A feeling of contentment is like a warm hot water bottle, it feels soothing to the soul. It acknowledges that in this moment I am enough. That my basic needs are met, that some dreams may have already come to fruition and that there is still room for growth.

The more I thought about feeling contentment, the more I realised that the world looks down on it, doesn’t give it the credit it deserves…everyone is striving for happiness, to feel euphoric and whilst these feelings are fabulous, they are often short lived. Take a trip to a theme park. The best ride may be over in minutes (the euphoria super excited part) but I may feel content for the entire day…from the moment I’m getting dressed, preparing what to pack, the journey to the park…all the way home to my bed when I’m exhausted from the thrills, spills and excess sugar the day had in store. Contentment can last days, perhaps even weeks, happiness is a perspective that may come and go.

At the beginning of this blog I wrote about the ‘comfy enemy’ that contentment can bring…but if we can get off of the sofa, if we can strive for more but also go to sleep at night blissful for what we already have…surely that’s a wonderful life?

The unfed mind devours itself

Quote by Gore Vidal

A new week and time to remind ourselves that our brains need stimulation.

Feed your brain the nutrition of a Watsit, stay in your comfort zone and stop learning new things = brain mush.

Our brain is not only crucial for daily functioning but it’s what we use to make decisions and steer the course of our lives with, with each new turn of the steering wheel we create new neurone pathways and that gives us more options and allows us to flourish. When it comes to the brain, variety is not only the spice of life but the whole plate.

It’s very easy to sit in our comfort zones and as we get older, I suggest much like an old and loved couch, it’s becomes harder to get out of. This post is a moment to reflect on whether you need to do something new, go somewhere different, to take up that course you’ve always wanted to do. Perhaps you are well read and enjoy regular trips to the library, you may have not realised that you always read the same genre, or same couple of authors. This means you are likely to stay roughly in the same word count and in turn you haven’t learnt any new words or expressions for a while. Much like a child learning to speak, the more eloquent we are the further we can use language to express our emotions and to an extent, feel deeper. The same can be said if you tend to watch the same TV programmes, genre of films or visit the same websites regularly.

Part of my job as a behaviour adviser, is going into schools and observing children in classrooms. Boredom isn’t as rare as parents may hope. Whilst the bored mind can also stimulate imagination and innovation – in the majority of classrooms I’ve observed in, this isn’t always the case, it’s more likely that biros will be tapped, twirled, dropped and span. After a while, the bored mind becomes frustrated and antisocial behaviour kicks in, the mind devours itself in chaos.

The other thing a bored mind does is it has too much time, when this happens it fills itself up with fear and ‘what ifs’ – again, great for the imagination but not so much for in being / becoming a mentally well balanced individual.

A diet of fear, leads to a vulnerable existence and anxiety, so every now and then we need to take stock and reassess what our brains are digesting, food wise there are many awesome ‘brain foods’ from blueberries to nuts they can help increase performance. Exercise wise, the brain craves new environments, challenges and goals. However, one element that often gets forgotten is sleep. A good nights sleep allows the brain to process, reassess and much like a computer it turns on more effectively after it’s been reset. We may not grizzle like toddlers when we are tired (I think I do actually?) but it lowers our mood and our performance, which can effect how enjoyable we are finding the task at hand. Don’t devour your own brain, use it and manifest the life you always dreams of.