HABITS become TRADITIONS become LEGACY

Quote Anon

December is certainly a time where traditions are falling out of Santa’s sleigh in abundance. Stepping into the New Year we often analyse our habits and try to improve them for the year to come, whether that be by exercising more, eating healthier or taking on a new challenge.

This all makes sense in a world where I often reflect on what I’ll leave behind. What will our legacy’s be? A positive mark on the world or consumed so much plastic it’s a long discarded tooth brush with DNA on it that will last the longest?

This December I learnt that traditions are only positive if they serve you and those around you. My family ditched the Christmas crackers many moons ago – we just don’t need the naff novelty toys, plastic and excessive paper across and already cramped table. I didn’t replace them with anything and rarely anyone comments.

With the controversial lockdown Christmas’s of 2020 we learnt that it was the people around the table that mattered. The food an added bonus. This was a lesson I hope remains long after the pandemic.

Last year our Turkey wasn’t fit for human consumption and the Boxing Day beef was brought in a day early…it was just as delicious and it caused my rebellious streak to build momentum. The result was that this year I really mixed up the menu – the result was meals from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day where everybody enjoyed what they consumed. Many favourites from the Mr’s love of Yorkshire puddings, to my sons delight of macaroni cheese played a part (not in the same meal I should add) and although we all had full plates and content bellies, little was left over and nothing was wasted, to the extent that my Mum took home the small Turkey carcass to make soup with. It also meant that I didn’t spend half of Christmas chained to the kitchen side board and had more quality time with those dearest to me. What did I learn? That traditions become shackles if they don’t serve you in this moment. If you don’t like Turkey, stop consuming it every Christmas and Thanksgiving.

I remember growing up and walking to school with a friend and our Mums closely nattering behind. In the run up to Christmas we would share the traditions of our homes; it always throws me that the same celebration has so many variations in each home. She would discuss how her and her brother would open their stocking and then wait until their Grandparents arrived to open presents in the afternoon, that boxing day food was a buffet of curry’s. I would share how Father Christmas went nowhere near our house and would deliver to the Garage at the end of our back garden, my Dad would bring down what he had left (even at a young age I was hyper-vigilant to child protection when it came to strangers) I would then blitz the unwrapping in seconds leaving a floor of discarded wrapping paper behind me like the Tasmanian Devil had popped around for a cuppa. Our Boxing Day was a buffet of ‘picky bits’ and when we shared these stories warmth from both our interpretations of Christmas were at the heart of each tradition.

What doesn’t serve is when everyone in the room dislikes the tradition but does it anyway…the wonderful thing about nurturing a family is building habits that become traditions, but that also have enough flexibility to alter before becoming legacies. As we step into 2023 you’re pretty darn perfect just as you are, you don’t need to do more or less of anything. However, the best habit, tradition and legacy you can leave with the world and into 2023 is to love those you surround yourself with. Remember, those that are hard to love, usually need love the most. Have a wonderful 2023

Dream until it’s your reality

Quote Anon

When I was younger I thought dreams were made of candy floss clouds, I thought happily ever after was the name of the game…but I also thought roundabouts worked because people were kind and I knew nothing of the high way code. Perspectives change, knowledge alters and yet we still dream.

I’ve had many dreams that have become realities; I dreamt of owning a home, of creating a family, I dreamt of taking my child to certain places, experiences etc. I’m also aware that many people wish they had a blog, the difference I guess is often action, luck and a dash of staying power? Some of my dreams have occurred through my direct actions, others because I was in the right place at the right time, some because I simply gave something ago.

I just walked the dog and spoke to a lady who has just moved into a house across the road, they are currently ripping it apart and starting from scratch – DIY is my idea of hell. Yet she was in her element, her current joy I discovered, had led her to several houses over the years that had led to this current property – her soon to be dream home, in her dream location. Again, from this I took that dreams are personal to the individual, she was truly enjoying the process, where I prefer a more ‘bibidibobidi boo’ approach to house transformations, so if you see a DIY fairy godmother in the area, let me know.

The other issue with dreams are that adults don’t give them enough thought. Busy in the mundane, I find journaling my desires, thoughts and ideas can often help me step towards what I want my reality to look like, it’s also sometimes helpful to know what you don’t want. With this knowledge you can fine tune your dreams and within your imagination (mine is financially free and travel takes seconds) you can take your dreams wherever you like.

Looking back on the dreams you have made a reality can help motivate you towards future dreams in the making that seem to far away. I truly believe that you can accomplish anything you desire, give or take a candy cotton cloud…what’s stopping you making it a reality is so often yourself. Time to journal I think?

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?

It’s ok for me to have everything I want

Anon

The internet seems to have made the world a smaller place. Access to trains, planes and automobiles means it’s likely you’ve traveled more than the generation before you. I was blessed with a better level of education than my parents (thank you) and my son has a larger variety of food accessible to him…more doesn’t always mean better. However, with expanding technologies and science it’s likely this choice to seize more opportunities will continue (…unless we blow ourselves up, which I always think is likely given some of our leaders brain cell capacities), what im not so sure of is that our mindsets have kept up with our progress.

Many of us stay in our lanes, only ask for things that we know are achievable within our level of status, financial remit, age, only going where those around us have been before…to an extent there is a common sense to this, it would be foolish to financially live above our means and find bailiffs knocking at our door, or perhaps to travel to places that we haven’t researched and find we have returned home with a tropical disease that we were ignorant to.

It’s ok for you to have everything you want (as long as it doesn’t harm others), balance allows us to prioritise and then reprioritise. With ebbs and flows we can have it all, just not all at once or all right now.

If we had it all, life would be dull…and often people who chase ‘the next best thing’ often find the gap of darkness still lurk within them long after they’ve bought the item home.

Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for, however this blog post is a reminder to actually dream, that you can manifest your desires, that you are worthy and that you don’t need to limit yourself to the ideals of others…one life, one century of fun…make it count, see the things you wish to see, spend time with those you hold dear, do that thing, go to that place, laugh, cry and stay up for the sunrise – it’s worth it and so are you.

#8yo collect moments

When my son was three I began to ask him a series of twenty questions, except for when he was six (unsure what happened?) As a result I now have a collection of his opinions on the basic ‘favourites’ in life. Somethings have remained steadfast and I don’t see them ever changing (his favourite colour has always been green, I blame Hulk), others bounce around like his food preferences and some alter like the wind blows. This year we reread them together and he laughed at some of his responses. I will continue this self indulged thread until he refuses to play, a little part of me hopes he is 45 years old and still playing the game, as what we now have are a collection of memories – things come and go, but memories are often free have a priceless value.

(If you’re interested in reading his 7 year memories as a comparison Click here )

1. What’s your favourite colour? Green

2. What’s your favourite toy? Orco (giant cuddly Orca whale that’s also a puppet)

3. What’s your favourite fruit? Mango

4. What do you like to watch on TV? Mickey mouse and friends (shorts)

5. What do you like to eat at lunch? Plastic rolls (basically, for all the organic and homemade food I prepare – the boy adores a supermarket sandwich??)

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

7. What item of clothing do you most like to wear? My green dinosaur head T-shirt (it’s from Boden and gets a lot of love

8. What game do you like to play? Hungry sharks evolution (haven’t a clue?)

9. What’s your favourite animal? Crocodile

10. What song do you most like? Anything by stick figure – World on fire (he loves chilled music in the background when he’s reading or playing)

11. What’s your favourite snack? Raisins (This was news for me?)

12. Favourite book? Beast Quest (he loves the series)

13. Who’s your best friend? Luke

14. What’s your favourite sport?  Judo

15. What’s your favourite holiday memory? Going on the cruise to see the whales

16. What do you sleep with? My teddies

17. What do you like best for breakfast? Waffles

18. What do you like to do outside? Play the game ‘it’

19. What’s your favourite drink? Mocktails

20. What’s your favourite dinner? Margarita pizza , no macaroni, or burgers, or steak, or tortellini, maybe a cheese board with grapes? I can’t pick and now I’m hungry.

Life is what you make it

Anon

Imagine if I told you that you’ve been selected to write and direct your own film. You may react by saying that you have no experience? I then go on to tell you that you’ll only get one shot at the film, we won’t have time to edit or reframe any scenes and I’d really like you to act in it, to be the star of the show.

By now you may be overwhelmed, with no experience in the industry that’s a lot to take on. I’ll then tell you it’s called ‘your life’ and hopefully you’ll smile and see the metaphor.

Each day, a scenario unfolds. Some days the drama is larger than others, be cautious – it’s the mundane moments that will pass you by the quickest.

There doesn’t always need to be a climax, action or plot twist…if there is always horror you may be doing things wrong? What you do have a duty to do in each moment is act truthfully, you don’t want to look back on a season where you lied to yourself or said things that weren’t true. It’s also worth speaking to the costume department too, sometimes we can get stuck in an era and it ages poorly on us.

You get to decide who features alongside you, you get to influence them and in turn they will advise you. Make sure your cast is faithful, funny and trustworthy…it’ll get you through the dark times easier and sometimes end with a smile.

….lastly, my film has already been ‘live’ for 14211 days. You can be cut at anytime and often you don’t realise it’s the end, so make the next day count, then the day after that. Each day is what you make it and you really do get to control so much of it, there is no dress rehearsal. Action.

Once a year, go someplace you have never been before

Quote Dalai Lama

Dear Mr Lama,

Whilst it’s clear you are knowledgable, wise and a guru of the spiritual world, if the opportunity arises I believe that you should go somewhere new monthly, weekly…whenever you can! In fact, I’d say you should go out of your way to plan, create and make these breaks for joy and freedom. Travel is certainly something that until lockdown life hit over a year ago, I’d taken for granted. That said ‘someplace new’ can often be on your doorstep, many people live in the same village, town or city, all their lives and never explore the joys that exist a few steps away from their front door.

In lockdown we, like many families went on more walks than ever before, did I mentioned that we walked A LOT? We are blessed to live in the Sussex countryside but we found many walks we never knew existed, discovering abandoned railways, tunnels and even a camel that lives in our village, no joke his name is Jeffery and he reminded me why I wasn’t a fan of them when I went to Egypt…that are stinky beasts, that said it was delightful to find him.

However, the reason for me writing Mr Lama is that as much as I think you’re right and exploration leads to many delights, from a better education, deeper sense of connection, an understanding of new cultures, new foods and new and often better ways of doing things…I feel we should also big up ‘the old’

Often the places we always go, the food we regularly eat…it has a comforting nostalgia that brings its only joy – if we stop to notice it. Let me give you some examples; the smell of Anais Anais and Chanel no.5 reminds me of my Mum (yes I grew up in the 1980s), the taste of so many food and drinks remind me of my childhood include lemon drizzle, homemade rice pudding, dumplings in a stew, Ribena, Sarsaparilla, pie ‘n mash with liquor…

This evening we had a classic food from my childhood, boiled bacon with veg and pease pudding. Now whilst I won’t be writing a review for Master chef anytime soon, I wanted my son to try it. To taste the past and for him to flip this around and try something new… there is a magic in that, just as there is in exploring a new place.

This week, give thanks for the old, look for the new and seek joy in the present. The balance of all three leads to a enriched life. What foods do you still want to try? Where do you want to go and what smells, tastes or textures remind you of the past?

Watch more sunsets than Netflix

Quote Anon

This quote is sound advice and for that very reason this post is going to be small, as what I want to say is ‘get outside’. In the UK we have home schooling going for one more week and that means juggling screens and it also feels a little like we’ve been stuck inside for years.

However, on Thursday the sun came out to play and my entire soul lifted. The bulbs in the garden are coming out to dance and buds are popping like popcorn in a hot pan. Spring has given the UK and huge reason to smile.

Netflix is also awesome and we are a house that also spends time hugging our Disney plus access with gratitude daily BUT Mother Nature will always do it better. Lately, she’s been throwing out sunrises and sunsets that make Disney firework displays look like a £20 box from your local garden centre. She’s obviously extended her palette lately. She’s thrown some crimson, orange and hot pink swirls of delight in the mixture and my photographic friends are clicking both their fingers and their heels with joy.

My advice, for what it’s worth are to make time to rise and open the curtains or take a little stroll as the sun comes out to play, or if you’re more of a night owl then walks later in the day can feed the sunset hit. I love sitting with a cup of tea and the chiminea going for a double joy hit (and gets rid of a little garden waste along the way).

Today we discovered a new walk on our doorstep and as my son entered the start of the forest and looked up in awe, he questioned whether we’d found big foots home.

I knew what he meant, with that his imagination exploded and we were listening out for bears, fighting soldiers and walking an invisible Hippo called Sonar. I couldn’t help but think how stimulating our mini adventure was.

Don’t get me wrong ‘Netflix and chill’ will always have a place in my heart, but never at the expense of an awesome sunset.

Don’t make it more complicated that it needs to be

Quote Anon

Regularly readers may have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while…the juggle of life got too much and so a few things had to go, publishing a post was one of them. That said I also use writing as time out and a dose of therapy so here I am again.

The shuffle and balance of homeschooling, working full time from home, running a household and our families personalities all blending in a bowl of chaos meant I broke. Last Friday I got to the end of my working day, I felt I couldn’t breath…I knew I had to start dinner. As I clutched a yellow pepper from the fridge, the Mr heard me whisper ‘ I can’t do this’…my eyes began to fill with tears and he said the magic words ‘Shall I get take out’ however his next question nearly made the tears fall ‘what would you like?’ I held my head down and gently shook it, “you can’t make any more decisions can you” …he was right, my head was pounding from looking at the screen all day, I felt like I was going to be sick, homeschooling that day wasn’t plain sailing and my body said enough. By 6:50pm I was in bed, I closed the world off and when I woke I realised a few things, the main one being, apart from the take away I hadn’t eaten that day. There simply wasn’t time.

With a wonderful nights sleep and my batteries renewed I made a few decisions and they’ve totally changed the week I’ve just had. I’m sharing them as hopefully they may help or inspire someone else.

Small win one: The weekend after the mini breakdown I prep’d like a fitness freak. I made homemade soup – so the decision of lunch was already made and as a bonus it was healthy. I also made a batch of smoothies so that I had a morning snack and if I didn’t have time I could drink it during my meetings.

Small win two: I got out my clothes in the evening the night before. Not a huge time saver but meant it was one less decision to procrastinate over

Small win three: at the end of each day I made myself (rain or shine) go for a walk. Sometimes I’d call family or a friend BUT I left the boys at home. A quick walk around the block and some fresh air has been fabulous for my soul after a day of meetings via a laptop.

Small win four: I realise we can’t make any actual plans at the moment, in the UK Boris letting us know when children can return to school has been as clear as mud, but I can dream. I’ve been keeping a little note pad of all the things I’d like to do when we can, travel is a huge one but once I started the list I realised some could begin even in a pandemic. So, this weekend I did some decluttering and I alway find this is good for my soul.

Small win five: Flowers. On Friday a friend left me a small bouquet on my doorstep. I can’t tell you how grateful I was. I divided the flowers into two and have one on the dinning room table where I work and one upstairs. It’s a wonderful reminder of kindness and beauty. Gratitude always wins in my book. I plan to buy some daffodils in the coming week and pass the love on! We may not be able to meet for tea and a chat like we once did but every time I look at my flowers I feel truly blessed.

Whether you’re winning at life or drowning please know that a few little steps can make a huge change to your wellbeing. Don’t stop dreaming, being kind to others and make time for self care, in my opinion these things are crucial to our current generation thriving.

Much love

Home schooling, lockdown vol.2 – the winter edition

Four days in to January 2021 in the UK, any hope was slashed by the Prime Minister’s announcement to return to life in March 2020, you have every right to feel the emotions you do; whether you are fearful, angry, bored, or nonplus *or perhaps like me fly between them all like a Meerkat on look out. It’s perfectly normal to not feel normal, that’s the new normal.

However, hope is on the horizon and that’s why I have popped this midweek post together. This time we have several super powers within us and we should unleash them…well it could make all the difference to us and our families thriving in 2021. Although I write as both a parent and teacher, I would also like to highlight that everyone is in their own personal battle at present and hopefully non parents can take some joy from this post too.

Super power one: knowledge: Volume two means there was a volume one. I know you know that, I know things aren’t exactly the same BUT we lived through volume one! Knowledge is power, something I never had last time. This time I can see an end, volume 1 was six months of ‘maybe next week’ a blur, a really long Sunday…this time I know it will end because it did before. Maybe we didn’t all thrive, but it’s well worth taking time to reflect on the things that did work, adapting them where necessary and making them work for the winter edition, hindsight is a beautiful thing – use it. For example, a paddling pool in January probably isn’t going to go down well, but we as a family in vol.1 took the time each day to come together and watch a film, it was a calming time (it was always Disney) and it added a drop of structure to an otherwise chaotic day.

I took the time to ask my son what he wanted to do, sure home schooling was usually part of the day but actually with no commutes we did have time to bake or build some Lego. We went for walks, okay if I’m honest I’m a little walked out but I also know that nature always makes me feel better…do the things that served you last time.

Superpower two: Know your child isn’t behind: You are giving them an experience. Like most adventures in life it comes with highs (we uploaded work to the school site) and lows (no work was achieved and my son claimed corona stole all of the pencils in the house) but it’s how we look at them that counts. My child is where he is academically; I can’t rewind 2020, I can’t push knowledge into his brain, but I can make sure that no matter what he is safe and healthy. Today the juggle was real. My full time job, our home, my sons education, our families sanity, our mental health all rolled into one and it was messy…but it was also good too….

Super power three: Hold on to the gratitude: Being thankful, for whatever small glimmer of hope, joy, love, appreciation you see or feel…it matters. I’m eternally indebted to frontline workers, I’m pleased my family is healthy, that today we are ok, that the internet connection works, that I have the skill set to break down tasks set for my child and can make them applicable to him, that the dog didn’t bark when the postman came and I was on a Teams call for work, that we did our best.

Super power four: Small steps are mighty: This may be part of your existing super power one, but I know that small steps, low expectations and being kind to myself is the only way I can manage at present. I didn’t do all the work tasks I had the intention of completing, by 10am I prioritised them and spread them out over the next few days. I can only do what I can. I did take a few minutes to do a facial this evening so that tomorrow I wake feeling topped up with self love, I also treated myself to a hot chocolate because this life is precious. Small steps with treats along the way make unstructured time’s a little easier. Also, a technique that works well for most children and age groups is Now, Next and then. It works like this: Now we are doing maths, next we will read and then you can play. Forget the rest of the day for a few small steps, when they are heading off to play, remind them that now they are having play time, next they can read and then we will have lunch. Those three small words can give enough knowledge to make your child feel safer. If you have multiple children it might be that time is divided and your ‘Now i’m helping Bethan, next we will go and play and then we will revisit your history work together’ feeling heard is so important and often grounds us far more than Mummy spending 5 hours the night before creating a complex rota that due to a tantrum and a high temp from the baby has all gone out of the window before 7:30am

I hope by reading this you maybe remembered how awesome you already are, that you’ve got this and that with a few super powers under your belt you can achieve anything.