Alone we can do so little, together we can achieve so much

Quote from Helen Keller

Perhaps it best to begin where I am now. Sat on the side at the swimming pool whilst the Mr guides the little dude to improve his swimming technique. This allows me to type away and have some therapy time. Where we are now, getting more done.

Last week was a catastrophe of disasters; from work, complexities in childcare, getting back to a routine, the Mr having to be away for longer than I’d like – thanks Pakistan air space, little dude having a school trip…put it this way as a tribe we dropped plates this week and the juggle reached a climax and strain that was unrelenting. However, now out of the dark and into the light, we made it. We achieved so much thanks to the support of our extended tribe. A combination of friends reaching out, wise words, a Tunnocks tea cake left on my desk, the Mr’s Mum extending childcare beyond anyone’s expectations…that’s a wealth you can’t put a price on.

The flowers are for her. I can’t work full time without support. The kids at school can’t thrive without my support…we as a family need our extended tribe, we need to raise others up and in turn are held up by others.

If you too have had a year, month, week or day of darkness and you can see a glimmer of light then however small the light is bask in it. Thank those around you, appreciation is lost if we don’t seize it in the moment. We achieve very little alone and isolated, life is fuller with others by your side.

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The grass is greener when you water it.

Quote by Neil Barringham

At the end of February we often get a few warm days, enough to shed a layer or two when you go out, enough so you need to find your sunglasses that you abandoned in September in a draw somewhere between the front door and the backdoor (or they could be in the car?) and enough for the Mr to say to me yesterday “I’m going to need to cut the grass again soon”

Grass doesn’t need much to thrive. However in the cold, dark and wet winters of the UK it barely grows at all, we rarely go out there and the grass is stagnant.

In life we often need to make choices every now and then, where do we put our time, love and sunlight? We look at other peoples lawns and often admire them not fully understanding the complexities of what they might be ‘growing’ through, we don’t see the moss patches, or the bald patches covered up by plant pots. A quick glimpse and it’s easy to wrongly see a lawn or someone else’s life in the wrong light.

Sometimes we can love our own lawn but feel the need to buy a new one just because… much like lawn maintenance, humans aren’t as simple as we believe.

Instead we need to mow our own lawns, perhaps put some extra attention of the bits that have been scorched by the sun, add new seeds, water and tend. We have a 160ft garden and it would take an awful lot of time to edge it. However, what we give our time and love to is what will thrive. Our health, relationships and careers all need time, love and attention too. The grass may be greener elsewhere but that’s not your concern. Water your own grass and watch it grow, add sunlight and see it thrive. Most importantly ignore the lawn and spend time with people you love. Mother Nature will sort it out, it’s a lawn – get a life and make that thrive.

You and I are more than friends, we’re like a really small gang

Quote Anon

This quote warms my heart and reminds me of my soul mate. No not him indoors, he’s my equal. My soul mate and I met at university during auditions. Then the stars aligned and we ended up with rooms close together, then a house share and now despite living miles away, we speak daily. My soul mate is my shadow and I am hers. If you are blessed to have a friend that makes you a better person, tell them. This post is all about our small gang.

We complete each other’s sentences, understand each others work issues (she’s also a teacher), we sound the same on the phone and have on many occasions tricked all the Mr’s over the years by pretending to be each other. We are very alike and completely different. She has a huge friendship circle that goes back to her first breath, I hate humans. She loves to upcycle furniture and I like to drink champagne whilst she paints furniture for me. She is kind and thoughtful, she can’t say no. (Yes, I know you’re getting better) I am blunt, she is polite. I’m number one and she’s number a zillion and will put all other beings (even Doug the fat pigeon) before her. We speak daily on the phone and if we don’t I feel like I’ve lost a limb.

Our taste in fashion is different, but I’d know her taste in seconds. We can both cook, clean and love Gavin and Stacey, TV sitcoms like friends, laughing and my son…we love him equally. She always puts him first, sends him parcels; I can’t stand onesies…he rang her and asked her for one (he never asks for anything) as he admires her collection, she sent him a parcel that made him beam. In 2019 she is getting married to her equal. I’m a bridesmaid (along with 80 others, I told you she knows a lot of people), I’ve been a bridesmaid twice in my life, she is annually a bridesmaid for someone and has a closet like Katherine Heigl in 27 dresses. So her moment to shine is a big deal. That said, she’s allowing my son to walk down the aisle carrying the rings in an outfit of his choice. Currently the design involves 8 legs and it has to light up. I don’t need to apologies to her, she knows him and loves him for his wonderful imagination, I know she would be upset if I made him wear a suit that made him align with the colour scheme.

When we are together I feel complete. I wouldn’t be me without her. She is my Clare bear. She’s my better half. Together we are the coolest little gang ever. It helps that somehow we’ve ended up with men folk that are also very different and yet the parallels of similarity are odd.

Being cool, we often sing aloud together in our cars and create new lyrics to songs or poems that make little to no sense but make us laugh.

Thank you for being my bestie, my light in the dark times and my shadow enjoying the lighter aspects of life with me. May 2019 bring you all you desire and more…if like me you have a really small gang, tell them. To show others you appreciate them is the highest gift you can give, unless they like gin, then share your gin with them.

Words are free, it’s how you use them that costs you.

Quote by Anon

I may have spoken about this before but Pen from The Single Swan mentioned in a comment the other day that she picks a word for the year ahead, bizarrely that day the bestie and I were on the phone and mentioned that our common word for 2018 was ‘accomplished ‘ (sounds so joyful on the tongue). As a woman who loves to set intentions I thought I’d select a word for 2019. As I began to think about what I wanted from the year and searched through my bag of goals, ideas and plans I very quickly decided on a word and it scared me to my core.

Achieve.

As I type the word I feel a sense of burden, fear and that perhaps I’m taking on a word that’s out of my reach. However, through this blog I have learnt that nothing changes unless you are willing to step out of your comfort zone. I also don’t need every moment of every day to be an achievement and with small adjustments as the months roll I can take steps that suit my pace. That said, some of the goals I will achieve will need me to step way beyond my area of comfort. Upon reflection it’s a word suitable for success and the challenge that comes with achieving. Take for example my first challenge…the puppy I rescued. She is a ball of chew and needles from her teeth to her sharp claws. She has no boundaries (we are trying to teach her them day by day, she is teaching us that rules are made to be chewed) and although she’s also a bundle of cuteness, I know training her will be a challenge but also an achievement.

Next, I will be moving this blog away from WordPress and to my own site…any tips totally welcome as http and widgets brings me out in a cold sweat of confusion and doubt. However, by taking the leap will mean I can add a new aspect to the site which I really want to do…details to follow once I’ve worked out the ifs, but’s and all the words that come with achieving this mission.

Other things I’d like to achieve will help me to love my home a little more. It’s a nice house but as I’m not a fan of the word ‘nice’ this speaks volumes about my feelings to the building we call home.

2019 will also be my daughters 10th anniversary. It blows my brain to think of all the things she could of liked and become. We don’t celebrate her birthday or death but I’d like to mark her decade with a gathering or event…again, any ideas welcome as this will be another emotional challenge to our journey to achieving a positive life without her on earth.

Join me through my challenges and achievements via this corner of the internet and why not pick your own word…if like the quote suggests we pay a price, let it be life changing for the better.

Happy New Year.

No.

To quote Hamlet, act 3, scene 3, line 87

We are on the cusp of a consumer crazy season. Of crackers with plastic and wrappings that nobody wants, that are often abandoned on the table long after the plates have been clearer away. Perhaps of saying thank you for gifts that lack thoughts, need or joy.

I know this post isn’t my usual sparkly positive self. Don’t despair, I’m about to flip it around but before I do I want to empower you with the word No. (As a Teacher and a Mum I feel Hamlet needs to add the words ‘thank you’ after his quote). Balance in life is crucial for physical and mental wellbeing. I’ve written many posts about ‘yes’ – to opportunities, change and adventure that so many of us hide from in daily life. I’m a fan honestly.

However, December seems to bring excess and anxiety for things we don’t want to do.

If you feel at all doubtful, listen to your instinct and say No.

  • Say No to buying gifts for that awkward Aunt or Uncle that you feel obliged to because they buy for you. It only takes a quick awkward phone call to release everyone of this burden for many Christmas’s to come
  • You don’t need to eat everything you’re offered
  • you can say no to sprouts.
  • You don’t need to attend that party that makes you feel anxious.
  • You don’t have to wear anything you don’t want to. I am the proud owner of zero Christmas jumpers.
  • Christmas doesn’t mean ‘spend money you don’t have’ say No.

Make sure the traditions you and your family participate in bring joy, love and a sense of fun…not awkward social events. Don’t become one of the three kings that bought guilt, anxiety and fear. Many of the innkeepers said No and it led to a way cooler version of Christmas. Baby Jesus born in a stable gathered by animals is all the better for its simplicity.

Saying No doesn’t need to be negative, it’s in fact a tool that can bring a huge amount of joy and relief. Balance is where joy and happiness can be fully embraced. This holiday season say yes to things that make you warm and smile, politely decline things your instinct tells you will add stress, keep the holiday season simple and stay present in all you do. It’s a recipe for the perfect Christmas.

Worry means you suffer twice

Quote by Newt Scamander.

  • Warning, I’m doing that thing again where the need to write pulls me out of my bed (even with freshly laundered sheets) and on to the floor in the office at the back of the house with the glow of my Macbook for company and a beauty salt lamp by my side. (desks have always felt a little too formal for me and I’m grounded on the floor; even if its a little draughty), so please forgive me if what I write is waffle.

I often write on the topic of happiness, perspective or self care. There is usually a silver lining or positive perspective to sparkle up this corner of the internet and worry isn’t my friend. I don’t invite him/her to my celebrations, neither does she/he make my Christmas card list (frankly, since having a child and working full time anyone who receives a card from me is truly blessed). I avoid negative people, conversations and situations. We don’t watch TV in our home, the news (web or paper version) are non existent. Yet still I am totally aware that the world we are part of is out of control. That plastic consumption is ridiculous and that banning plastic straws has probably come a little late in the day. That power, money and fear are still the driving forces. That scare mongering, praying on the vulnerable, greed and selfishness are growing much like plastic straws on our oceans seabeds, that stress is increasing, that happiness is often ‘sold’ in a misguided manner… I know this. It shakes my bubble that I work hard to create hard every now and then, its sucks the sparkle and actually at times has taken my breath with it.

Worry is the new fear (I’m not sure how new is new). We worry about worrying in between moments of ‘what if’s’ and ‘could’ ‘should’s’… the list is long. In education bullying is old hat, self diagnosis of anxiety and depression are on the increase amongst our children, as a species we are lost and drown our sorrows with drugs and alcohol (usually through those blooming plastic straws) and what I guess woke me from my comfy bed is a request, to ask you too to build a bubble, a cocoon of kindness and self care, to not engage with the negativity described above. Contrast is necessary for us to thrive, I can’t promise you can fully cut it out. Think of my request as a new detox regime – no fancy products needed, no 90 day money back guarantee required, in fact it won’t cost a penny. I’m asking because worry can be such a positive tool – it lets you know when you’ve lost balance, it reminds you that you care…but never give it the power to allow you to suffer twice.

If you can’t do this, then please at least stop using plastic straws.

Everything is figureoutable

Quote Anon.

I know these aren’t real words, but so much of my vocabulary that I use is created in my head, this spoke to me.

When I was younger I really felt that once you became an adult you had the world worked out, the pathways would open like some sort of ‘open sesame’ then on you plodded. Well either I wasn’t listening when they were handing out maps (highly likely) or the routes of life are more unknown than I had thought.

Problems, often cascade from no where. They arrive on my doorstep in envelopes of large bills that I wasn’t expecting, a car can collide into my rear and phone calls and more letters are required. The health of loved ones can be shared in a text or conversation and then hospital visits and worry ensues… or you can breath.

I know, breathing doesn’t actually pay the bill or fix a car, but it does allow your brain to process the issue from a grounded place rather than in a state of emotional turmoil.

Often when I’m faced with an issue that I can’t figure out how to solve, changing the activity I’m doing or distracting my brain with something I enjoy often means I come to a conclusion far quicker.

It sounds crazy, I realise to say ‘don’t think about the problem you can’t stop thinking about’ but honesty it works. My dear friend couldn’t conceive, her partner and her stopped trying whilst they saved for IVF…with the pressure removed she conceived and gave birth to a health bundle of new born.

When you ‘let go’ of tension magic happens; money flows from places you didn’t know existed, friends help out in ways you didn’t know they could…issues that you just couldn’t work out become figureoutable.

It’s not exactly a map to adulthood, but it is a magical step on a smoother pathway. Enjoy the journey and remember all problems are generally solved eventually, if you lack confidence then give this a read because You can, end of story

Jar Moments

There are many things we have to teach our little humans, from taking their first steps to the glamour and delights of wiping bottoms, my son still insists that having his bottom behind him is a design fault (as he can’t see it).

Over the Summer holidays I have created ‘Jar Moments’ and have taken several ideas from the web of joy to hopefully teach my son to spread love, be grateful and for him to experience appreciation with a sprinkle of happiness. If you have a little dude or dudet, or even a gaggle of dudes then feel free to join in. My ideas initially came from Jacqueline from Go to Mindfulness who was a featured blogger on #thesatsesh, click the link and you’ll see that in the jar I’ve added some of her inner child ideas. I also used good old pinterest to find some ‘random acts of kindness’ (although its always made me wonder how random a planned jar of activities can actually be?) then I added a few of my own. J isn’t keen on writing and at the grand old age of 5 years and with a teacher for a Mummy if I can sneak in some pencil time then its an added bonus.

However, we’ve actually been doing ‘Jar moments’ for a while and I didn’t set it up as ‘something for my blog’ but friends have asked if they can join in, so I thought I’d take some time to type it up. I’ll be sharing all of our ideas via the hashtag #jarmoments so feel free to follow me on Facebook to see what the latest note out of the jar is, my Facebook page is @whatmyfridgesays of course you can just do the odd note or even create your own jar. I’m using Facebook as a platform as I think it may get lost on Instagram and I also need to show my Fb page a little more love.

Instruction wise the Jar is simple; you simple unscrew the jar (Gratitude goes to Nanny for providing the jar) and pick out a note. You then have 48 hours to complete the task. I gave us this time as I didn’t want it to become a burden on planned days out that we have during the summer holidays.  Once the task is complete and you’ve returned home, pick another to see what adventure the next forty eight hours holds.

You’ll notice that none of the activities cost any money. I really believe that showing love, gratitude and experiencing happiness always comes from the most simple tasks.

I should probably add that you also don’t need a mini dude to play along – why not create a jar for adult self.

I hope you enjoy #Jarmoments and if you do get involved please let me know by sharing pictures, stories and moments. The more love we can throw out in to the world the better.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight

Quote by Phyllis Diller

It’s late at night and I’ve been exhausted all week, you think I’d be snuggled up in bed, but I feel the need to vomit words all over this screen – so here I am typing, no plan and no agenda, just a over tired woman and the need for some typing therapy. Ahhhh I’m already smiling.

Lets talk about the humble smile…a simple smile is the easiest and cheapest way to live longer, give your health an over all make over (it reducing your chance of heart disease, lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress). New research even suggests that it increases your chances of success and it makes you more attractive to a potential partner or new born baby; seriously babies love a cheesy grin.

So with these facts in mind why don’t we smile more, do smile-aerobics, smile indulge diets (like a diet but increasing not decreasing – yup I made the phrase up), why don’t we take time to laugh, like we make time to do chores or attend important meetings?(*any meeting that claims to be important are always extra dull and guarantee to be pointless). Honestly, I’m not really sure of the answer, but its something that I think adults should do more.

I’m lucky that I never lost the ability from my childhood to belly laugh – I’m talking full tears, can’t breath, abdominal workout, could possibly die, hard core LAUGH. I do this most weeks and several days of those weeks. Maybe whilst reading this you’re pondering on when you last ‘lost it’ in the giggle department? Mine was yesterday when one of my GCSE pupils used Hannah Montana as an answer in her MOCK exam, or two days before that when one of my yr 7 pupils was in a drama lesson being a shark (obviously) and her jaw ached so badly in rehearsals that when she drank from her water bottle her mouth muscles spasmed sending the water the wrong way and out popped the water via her nose…yup, kids are funny. My son comes out with killer phrases of both joy and oddness most days, his five years old, so humour and naivety are his friends.

I’m not sure I can teach you how to belly laugh? I think it comes from living in the moment and not being afraid to control situations. I think its helped by watching youtube clips of cats falling, babies giggling and humans failing. wikihow has a link to ’11 steps to laugh more’ (with pictures) which I haven’t linked because I think its rather sad. I think we all have belly laughs waiting to explode within us and would totally encourage you to release them.

Mr F, as regular readers will know is a grumpy human, his face falls in a nature frown and very few things make him chuckle or smile even slightly. He mainly smiles when I’m rolling on the floor laughing at something and I’m in pain from it. Seriously, pain makes him smile – mainly at my expense. That’s the absolute joy of smiles, they come in all shapes and sizes and what makes an individual smile is unique to them.

TASK:

Write down three things that make you laugh / smile. My ‘try not to think before you type’ ideas go something like this:

  1. watching stand up comedians
  2. people watching
  3. horrendous ‘Dad jokes’ (Need to build an ark – I Noah a guy)

Now you have your list make time to do these every week, then daily and I promise you’ll be healthier and see many advantages, then add to the list of things that make you smile, there will be so many more than just three. I’m also partial to an old school cartoon like Tom and Jerry or Henry’s Cat. Laughing is contagious, so if you smile it also boosts those around you.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve had a seriously heavy week of being an adult, stress levels were high, responsibility lists were long and juggling home, work and life was a challenge – time to pop of some cartoons on I think?

Please comment below with either the things that make you laugh or your favourite Dad joke (the lamer the better) and when I’m feeling overwhelmed i’ll pop back for a smile through the comment section 🙂

Happiness is a state of mind.

Quote by Walt Disney.

I was in work and one of my friends told me an awesome story that involved positive thinking and Disney. Before she could pause for breath, I asked her to write it down. Enjoy…

I recently returned from a magical trip to Disneyland Paris. The trip was fantastic, we saw the parades, fireworks and never had to wait too long in lines for rides. The food was delicious and the weather was (aside from one thunderstorm the first night) gloriously sunny and spring-like.

This was all right up until we went to return home to England. We had booked the Eurostar to take us directly to London, non-stop and then we had another train booked to take us from London back home to the Sussex coast. When we arrived at the train station in Disneyland and were told that due to French rail strike action, that would not be happening. We would instead have to take a train from Disneyland to another station just outside central Paris, then change to a train to Paris central. There we would be told if we had seats on a train 3 hours later than our original planned departure, sitting together with my husband wasn’t guaranteed either. The late departure time would also mean we might not make our train in London.

It was at this moment I took a ‘pause’. This is something I have learnt from both the goddess and spiritual leader Oprah Winfrey and from doing Mindfulness training with school.

The ‘pause’ allowed me to find calm and consider what my reaction would be. So I took a quick inventory of my thoughts and feelings. What was I feeling? Frustration, anger, anxiety?

For example: I might have said to the man (who was actually just a volunteer) something confrontational like “This isn’t good enough”. I could have turned to my husband and taken it out on him “I knew we should have checked this before we came. It’s your fault- you should have checked”. Or, I could have beaten myself up with negative thoughts ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ or ‘You don’t deserve happiness, something always goes wrong’.

Pause and breathe.

Instead my response was this:

To the volunteer at the station: “Thank you so much, I am sure we will work it all out, hope you get home okay too”.

To my husband “It’s a bit annoying but, it will give us a chance to have a couple of drinks at the station as the last send-off of a great trip”

To myself ‘You are calm and can cope with this change of plan. You are grateful you have had a lovely trip with a husband who you have lots of fun with. You will look back on this as an adventure when you are back at work on a dull boring day’ and ‘You do deserve good things and this is a small setback, which you will handle as you do everything that comes your way’.

This is how I handled the situation. With a pause of calm, I was able to engage in positive thought, gratitude, and kindness. Not only to others but to myself.

At Paris central station, as we sat and drank our pints of ice-cold French beer, I heard other people around me complain at officials and volunteers in raised voices and aggression in their faces. Their body language towards family members was tense and dis-engaged. Grumpy children still wearing their Mickey Mouse ears wailed and parents scolded their behaviour briefly, before returning to their negativity towards the officials or each other. (Disclaimer: I fully appreciate I do not have children and I can imagine how stressful travel is at the best of times let alone in these circumstances)

As we finally left the waiting area to board the train, we walked right down the platform to the front of the train. As we boarded, we turned right into a First-class carriage. My husband double checked our tickets. Yes, we had the right seats- we had been upgraded! Not only bigger comfier seats, but this included a lovely meal, with wine and French patisseries.

I don’t know about you but that surely proof that positive thinking works.

Thanks to the lovely Martine for typing this up for me, now I can read this back and remember to pause, breath and go to Disney more often.