#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.

Did you finish the game? I finished the season.

This quote comes from an interview between Pat McAfee and AJ Hawk (American football) that the Mr shared with me earlier in the week. This quote incorporates endurance, determination and resilience.

The conversation was around an injury that AJ had sustained…well multiple injuries. Whilst this blog isn’t about ignoring pain or medical advice it is about having to push ourselves and overcome barriers in order to succeed. It’s important to remember that we can often give more than our negative mindset would let us believe, particularly when like AJ we are keen to see the ‘season’ through.

Are there any goals or accomplishments that you’ve fallen short of completing? If so, was it really important to you? Perhaps the timing was wrong, or maybe stepping back and analysing what you didn’t do might help you succeed in the future. We often miss our target due to missing one or two small steps.

Sometimes we aim too small. As an adult life can unfold on you, pushing your dreams to the back of the airing cupboard where you swear to totally look at them another day, week, year…after the kids go to school, leave school, move out…too late? I should say I also believe our dreams can shift and alter, what was once important is often laughable as we age, but for dreams that make you still feel sparkle in your toes it is never to late.

Take some time this week to jot down your dreams, goals and things you’ve generally never completed. Laugh at the ones that make you cringe, work out where you’ve gone wrong if you’ve tried before and finish the season.

Trust the timings of your life

Quote Anon

It’s September and part of me still believes its March? Many children have or will return to school this week. As parents and as a teacher I’m not sure what that looks like but I know it looks different, perhaps you find yourself anxious, worried or concerned. Thats understandable, after the year this world has thrown at us, the unknown doesn’t feel any easier. This post is to remind you that you’ve got this.

September in the UK isn’t just a new academic year it also welcomes Autumn, leaves falling, evenings draw in and change afoot. The seasons remind us that contrast is good – the leaves need to fall, in winter they need to pause so that come Spring they are ready to burst and thrive. Whether you’re a summer girl like me or a winter warmer like my son – change will happen anyway, whether we are ready or not. The good news is that the seasons don’t happen over night and neither will any changes we see in our lives. Slowly the green trees of summer will become burnt ambers, crimsons and siennas…allowing us to adjust.

As parents I know we are all blagging each day as it comes, personally I am perplexed at what school in 2020 -21 will look like for my son…how will socialising happen? will he come home worried or scared?…the list of concerns is endless BUT I have one super power. Just like I trust the seasons will change, I trust myself. I am the only person who has been with me 24/7 since birth and whilst I’ve let others down and learnt lessons along the way, I rarely let myself down and when it comes to my child’s welfare I’m nonnegotiable.

If I’m not happy – I will speak out, if I need to make educational adjustments for my son to be able to thrive as we as a family see fit – I will. The lioness inside of me can be fierce (and frankly I can scare myself) and the love to protect my baby…who is nearly taller than me, is mighty. Whilst I can’t trust the media, can feel let down my governmental policies I know I can trust me. As I hand my little dude over, I also know as a fellow teacher that this profession isnt for the financial reward – his teacher will greet him and guide him with her moral judgement….I trust in the knowing that she has his best interests.

Like the trust I have in the leaves falling and alter slowly and with artistic flare I too will take the return to school in my stride…day by day, make amendments when necessary, trusting where I can until proved otherwise.

I don’t doubt you either, anxiety is a behavioural reaction that shows you care, you’ve got this. Its human nature to question change – its instinct, yours is well placed and comes from love.

Whether the change you face is ‘back to school’ or a new job, a different place to call home…small steps, big breaths and talk from a place of love – you can’t go wrong. I’m rooting for you.

Hope is being able to see the light despite all of the darkness

Quote by Desmond Tutu

We all have our moments of darkness, some come and go much like the sun and moon, others seem much heavier and forever shape us.

I have had my share of darkness and have also had the honour of supporting teenagers as they face trauma and often actions out of their power. I’m no expert but I have learnt a few things that’s I’d like to share – the first is simple. No two dark nights are the same. Just because you are grieving or have experienced death doesn’t mean you know how someone else feels, sure you can empathise and much like this blog tries to do, you can share your ideas and positive sparkles but ultimately everybody feels and reactions are individual.

That’s the good bit, that’s what makes us unique. If you are currently facing a dark time, I urge you to reach for the light switch. It’s often just out of grasp but you can ask for support, loved ones or perhaps your GP this link is full of amazing experts and advice, it’s literally and A-Z of services.

I’d also urge you to see the light in the darkness, much like one of my favourite children’s books ‘The owl who was afraid of the dark’ there is always a positive to see from a negative experience – in the children’s books the owl learns that fireworks truly shine at night, that the stars can’t be seen by day…often our own joys or darkness are us becoming more empathetic to others, better listeners or perhaps have experience in a specific type of darkness.

However, I have seen and felt myself how impossible the long nights can be an I urge you all to create a tool box of light. *no batteries needed – these are a few of the things that I’ve felt have helped me and others around me. You can create your box to suit you. Loved ones to talk to

  • Talking to loved ones
  • Drinking more water – it sounds simple, but us humans are just complicated plants
  • Go for a walk
  • Make your bed when you wake
  • Help others or volunteer your time
  • Make plans, these can be small to begin with and within your comfort zone
  • Self care: this doesn’t need to be candle lit meals but can again start with brushing your teeth and having a shower.
  • Look at positive content online
  • Clean and declutter: my favourite is the cutlery draw as it only takes a minute to wipe it over but every-time you open it you feel a sense of achievement
  • Take it slow – life isn’t a race

I hope as you read this you can’t feel any shadows, I hope your life is lit up like a Christmas tree… but I promise that finding light in the darkest of time’s can be rewarding, just nobody said it would be easy.

Much love x

Nothing can hold you back without your permission.

Quote by Trent Shelton

Permission to treat ourselves is often absent. We think of reasons why we can’t, get home and wish we had…also, if you’re like me then when you go back to the shop it’s always been sold. It’s like the universe is rubbing salt into the wound.

Whilst we are on shopping dilemmas and as it’s back to school shopping season, I’ll share a lesson I learnt when I was a child…always buy the first pair of shoes. Despite my love for those clicking, prancing, stepping creations of joy now, as a child shoe shopping could be hard…for my Mum. Ultimately, after trawling the high street and trying on every patent princess cut, cute but edgy pair of shoes, we’d always return to the first shoe shop and the first pair of shoes I tried on.

The reason for this quote today was I wanted to share a story I overheard on a recent shopping experience. A little old lady was in my favourite crystal shop, currently it’s appointment only and so I was waiting outside. She was purchasing her items and ecstatic at what she was taking home, she explained that she had won £50 on the premium bonds and wanted to treat herself to something special. At this point I told her how beautiful her stones were, basking in the joy whilst waiting outside, as she passed me outside of the door she winked and whispered “of course I’ve spent the £50 several times already”. I smiled back and she shouted “you can’t take it with you”.

She’s right, of course you’ve got to have the funds available to keep spending. However, this blog has never been about financial advice instead I’m interested in her attitude and as I spoke to the shop owner as she walked away we discussed how the £50 win had allowed her the permission to enjoy spending, treating and indulging herself.

Over the years I’ve often spoken about self love, care and worth. I truly believe that just as we invest in things we care and love; our children’s well-being, health and happiness, presents for loved ones, our home…we often forget to invest in ourselves.

Of course, I reiterate that if you haven’t got it then you can’t spend it. If you can and it will bring you joy, happiness, a growth in wellbeing or improve your health – do it. Material goods often don’t bring us as much happiness as we think they will, many of my friends have wardrobes full of clothes and many still have the labels on…

However, buying with a sense of joy and a conscious intention for the item can often increase our level of wellbeing. So if you have the money and need a sign to buy that item – here it is. Enjoy