Plot twist

I often find in life people drive down certain pathways, certain they know where they are heading, perhaps they found a soul mate, took an exit at marriage or diverted to having children. They tick off the various landmarks along the way, content in a bubble of control in a journey called ‘Life’

Then there are people like me…naive enough to think they are in control until one day life gives them lemons, truck loads of the yellow fruit. As the quote goes and being a positive princess, I know you need to make lemonade out of them. Since 2009 exactly ten years today we’ve been doing just that. At 16:47 I gave birth to our daughter Gracie, the plan was to take our healthy bundle home, raise her to be a queen and use motherhood as an excuse to visit farms, play in parks and enjoy the ride of motherhood. Except, we had lemons…and a rollercoaster that I wouldn’t want the worst of humans to have to go through. Regular readers will know, we didn’t bring her home and I felt at the time when our daughters death came to an abrupt end, so to had our pathway of happy ever after.

Except, life sometimes gives you a service station and an alternative route and a mountain…a huge mountain to navigate around. The route doesn’t look as appealing and it’s not so picturesque…but some how the mountain makes you a better human, you learn, you help others and there are even a few unexpected moments of joy along the way; like the view if you make it to the top.

After a decade of our diverted path, plus a little dude that jumped in the passenger seat in 2013 I foolishly sat back in the driving seat. Ticking off landmarks and planning our future. How smug was I.

Then came the plot twist…baby three due April 2020.

Mike drop.

Not planned.

What next? I’m giving up metaphorical driving. I’m making little to no plans, I’m seeing where this huge new tunnel takes us. It looks dark and to be honest is a little scary. This time life gave us a pomegranate. We can’t squeeze it – because there are too many pips but it is so vibrant when you take time to cut it open and I’m excited for the potential of where this tunnel will take us. It’s early days but on the anniversary of Gracies birth I’m grateful for this unexpected gift.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel if you keep going, there is always contrast along the way. This is life and I’m now driving full throttle and with no road map open to where it might take us. Just like a candle on a cake, there is always light if you choose to see it.

Happy returns little angel

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Focus on the step in front of you and not the whole staircase

Quote Anon

After our daughter passed away we called the hours and days that passed Gracie steps (seriously those feet were tiny) and it worked really well.

So well that ten years later I still apply the philosophy. In the last week as a family we have been bombarded with truth bombs and reminders that as humans we aren’t always in control. I don’t think it matters what the bombs were but that we reacted in truth to each blast.

As a child I thought adults had it worked out, they knew what they were doing. Now, I know that the role models in my life reacted, adjusted and realigned when necessary.

Life is made of decades broken down in to days, hours, minutes and seconds. I don’t think you can plan for each of these but I do think you can pop on your Gracie shoes and dance.

The stairs to achieving a goal are usual a uncertain spiral (I survived the ones above in thin stilettos) and so at times we need to listen to our inner voices and sit down and rest, at others we shuffle cautiously clinging to the rail and if I’m honest I’ve been known to take a big breath and jump from the top hoping to be caught at the bottom…this leap is not recommended for stiletto wearers.

However, I think as individuals we spend too much time at the bottom of the stairs listing reasons why we can’t climb them, perhaps you create a goal and loiter on the bottom two steps hoping momentum will elevate you to the top? Or maybe you hide from the stairs and take the lift.

In this post I’m asking you to set a goal and pop your Gracie shoes on. One step at a time, because moving forward no matter how slow is just that, progress.

Sometimes happy memories hurt the most

Very soon we will of breathed for 3650 days without our first born, our daughter Gracie Alice Rose.

As I’ve written previously she was too precious for this earth and so was given her wings early. We were blessed with several days with her and in that small amount of time created enough memories to get us through a life time without her…just. I remember every moment and each stage before we left the hospital with her car seat empty and our hearts in pieces.

At the time we were cocooned by the love of our family and friends, but also the ripples of love that travelled into our communities, work places and beyond. This experience has given me a masters in grief. It wasn’t a qualification that I was planning on taking, but I hope that my knowledge might make things a little easier when you find yourself in the shadows of grief.

People lie

Much like a pregnancy, in death people like to give advice. “It’ll be ok” “when my mum died..” it goes on. However, one wise Nanny told me “people will tell you it gets easier with time – they’re liars”. At the time it felt like Nanny had bluntly slapped me across the face, a different tone shall we say from the sympathy cards we’d received in their dozens. Alas, she was right and with this blunt truth and sudden adjustment to my thoughts, it somehow made it easier? I wasn’t waiting for the day I’d feel ‘me’ again, because ‘I’ was changed forever. With this comes several added delights, people are lying to you because they love you enough to want to make it better. to ease the brutal process. You are loved. Also, I don’t want to forget anything about that 5lb9 bundle of joy, so why would losing her get easier? Another truth is you do smile again, breathing gets a little easier and appreciation for what you had, even if like in our case it was only for days…becomes a blessing.

Break all the rules

If grief was a fairy, she would be naughty, mischievous and unpredictable – she would turn up when she liked, how she liked and make you feel how you didn’t expect to feel. Some people believe that there are steps to grief (google tells me there are seven), in reality there are actually as many as your grief fairy decides. You may think you’re through guilt and in to anger and then fairy grief side sweeps you back to stage one ‘shock’. It’s your journey and just because I’ve got my masters in grief doesn’t mean I know how you feel, what you need or how best to support you. My best advice would be to reach out to someone you trust and tell them. If they are a good friend, they’ll already know you’re crazy and love you for it, so to hear that one day your fine, the next your on top of the world and the third you’ve been wearing the same Pyjamas for a month and don’t remember where the shower is will come as no surprise. Talk to your tribe, be as honest as you can about your feelings and if you can’t put it into words, silence is best served with a friend by your side.

If none of the above resonates with you, remember ‘what do I know?’ and people are liars. However, if it made things a little easier then in our family we call that a ‘Gracie steps’, tiny steps to progress.

If you’ve been affected by any of the content in this post, please speak to a loved one, your GP or perhaps speak to the wonderful people at The Samaritans (UK) 116123.

More does not mean better

Quote Anon

This week I didn’t feel well. I didn’t have a cold, headache or anything I could name. At times I felt a little like I might be sick but knew I wouldn’t. I just felt tired and off balance. Nothing was wrong and everything somehow felt too much.

I didn’t feel that how I felt was enough to have some time off work and so I needed to be more creative with my energy. I took a few small actions; left work a little early, laid down on my bed when I got home, early nights and little housework, asked others to cook, generally I slowed down.

It wasn’t the most exciting week and I don’t think it’s one for the memoirs but I didn’t push on and in turn become ill, in fact by Friday I felt much better and was able to celebrate my birthday with my family. The sun shone and I felt loved and was able to create memorable worthy moments.

What’s the point of this post? More doesn’t mean better, knowing ourselves and listening to what we need can be just as fulfilling. When we eat we often find the first few bites joyful and after that the sparkle goes, for this reason more is not usually better…trying a range of smaller dishes can be more fulfilling.

A small vacation of a few nights can be as rewarding as a mammoth expedition, life is often best served slow and simply.

I recently culled my wardrobe and plan to not return to a wardrobe heaving with clothes. In this consumer driven culture we don’t need masses. My wardrobe is slowly evolving to a world of less, higher quality and where the wooden hangings have space to jangle. This in turn means I have less choices to make and leaves my mind free to think about other things.

This week press the pause button on life and take time to notice what makes you smile. Don’t be surprised if less wins and more overwhelms.

Shoshin

Not a quote, just a magical word.

Welcome to another fix of inspiration from the fridge. It will be no surprises that I really like words. A cluster of letters squished together can produce the most emotive sentiment or allow others to empathise with how you may be feeling.

Today, if you haven’t come across the word previously I’m sharing a new favourite with you. ‘Shoshin’ (firstly how lovely is it to say) means…

The practise of seeing life in wonder

One of the greatest things about being a parent is seeing the world through little eyes. I remember walking with my son when he was about two years old to our local park. He picked up the every stone, touched every leaf and the two minute walk became an exploration of discovery and wonder. I followed behind and observed the wonder, whilst reminding myself that time was our friend and I didn’t need to hurry him on. Sadly as we grow older our priorities change and we forgot the joy that surrounds us. Often happiness is found in the most basic of flavours (for me boiled egg and soldiers), smells (the roses in my garden) and experiences (an empty beach in winter with my boys watching the sunset on a clear day).

This post doesn’t come with a long lecture but instead a reminder to pause and live a life full of Shoshin. One of the ways I do this is my keeping a gratitude journal, another is myself and a friend are currently using WhatsApp to send each other a daily gratitude and photo. Today’s was having breakfast outside in the sun

The messages will last for 100 days and it’s really nice to look back over when life seems a little less bleak and Shoshin has been hidden behind a load of washing and an endless to do list.

However, like I stated previously this post isn’t a deep metaphorical ramble, it’s just a reminder to leave a Shoshin awesome life and appreciate each moment of wonder as it passes.

Cling to what is good

Quote Anon

According to the power of google an adult makes 35,000 decisions a day, a child around 3,000. That’s everything from what to have for dinner tonight to what to wear and where to go. Most choices fall in to three categories: positive, negative and those we feel obliged to do, feeling like we don’t really have a choice.

As an adult I do feel that at times I need to make negative decisions for overall good, an example being telling my son off and setting consequences – in hope that he learns and grows into an adult with clear morals and boundaries. At the time of sanctioning him he would tell you it was a negative decision I’d made.

Not all choices are transparent and many come with a wealth of other choices, at times resulting in others taking control or contributing to the end result.

Many of us suffer from decision fatigue and with the stats so high, I’m not surprised. If you find yourself overwhelmed then the experts encourage you to pull back; have a duvet day, a social media detox and even better a week away from WiFi. Don’t answer the phone, relax and live in the moment where possible.

Except that is a short term issue. At the moment my son who is six years old is sneaky when I ask him to make one of his 3,000 choices for the day. He will say things like “I don’t mind” or “‘ask Daddy what he wants” in order to avoid conflict or people disliking his ideas. As a result, as parents we are now throwing him even more options…and not letting him wiggle out of them. It’s a tough love choice in hope that it will help him grow in resilience and assertiveness. More importantly we are asking him to ‘feel’ the decision, to reflect on what feels good, to reconnect with his instincts and to not be put off by other people’s reactions. Making choices in the moment that feel good are meant to be the best way to promote positive wellbeing and overall happiness in the long term. Without guides, I wonder how many adults are out of sync with their own sense of good? Making time to rest and play has never been so crucial for a blossoming and positive planet.

It’s not necessary to react to everything you notice

Quote Anon

In 2019 and the world is full of morons. This is a fact that we can’t change.

None of us are perfect – perfection is an aspiration, not a destination. Thus we can all slide in to the moron mask momentarily. At any moment we can make poor decisions, act in a selfish manner or drive like we are Jenson Button. It happens, we make mistakes.

We also have choices, I like to think I try and take off my moron mask as soon as I notice the shadow cast over my face, I also know if I’m feeling hormonal I can glue it on for the week and anyone who dares to step in my way will feel the wrath of the masked menstruated moron.

(sometimes I just get the mask out for fun)

However, we all have choices. Just because I don’t say anything or react when a moron crosses my path doesn’t mean I don’t notice, nor have an opinion on the matter. It’s crucial to remember we are a reflection of the people that we surround ourselves by. Allowing a friend to gossip and vent can be therapeutic for both of us, but if that friend is in a continuous cloud of doom it may be best to leave and allow them to wallow.

Making continuous negative dialogue about how other people drive (who can’t hear you) only increases your heart rate. It doesn’t make them better drivers.

Learning to not react, to filter our thoughts can be challenging but there are two questions you can ask yourself before you speak (my friend shared these with me a few days ago from a podcast she listened to)

  • Am I growing?
  • Am I giving?

If not, the advice from fridge HQ would be to walk away and let those thoughts go. Sharing ideas, perspectives and support is crucial to evolving, pointing out that someone is inadequate if that haven’t asked for advice isn’t useful to you or them.

Next time you see a masked moron, cross the road and don’t react, the world will be a better place and if you let it go, so will your heart rate and overall well-being.

Getting up and moving forward is a choice

Quote from Zig Ziglar

I recently listened to a podcast with Tim Storey as a guest and he made a point that I wanted to share.

Life inevitably brings joy and also hardship, but so many people when they hit a set back – take a step back. Worse still Tim went on to describe that they lose their direction and in worst cases concrete themselves in the moment. That means they can’t get out of that moment. Wise words Tim.

A moment is just that, a small amount of time. If you concrete yourself and become the issue you can’t move forward…you can’t move at all, you can’t fulfil your purpose and you become the concrete.

This terrifies me. I see so many young people that by eleven years old have already concreted their life. They can’t do this or that because of a medical condition, parents limit them in what they perceive is an act of love, but it’s so often rooted in fear. “I don’t think she would want to do that because her anxiety is so bad”….well let’s take a moment to break the task down, to inspire her, to change our vocabulary to tell her that she CAN – don’t concrete her in anxiety.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting we don’t have boundaries and say no to things. Used well ‘No’ can be an amazing tool. I’m also not suggesting that I don’t concrete myself from time to time, that I don’t project my fears on those I love in a moment of thoughtlessness…but we don’t need to stay forever in the concrete. We can hammer out, we can make a CHOICE and we can move forward. I’m going to focus over the next few weeks at watching my thoughts and words to prevent the concrete from being mixed. So what’s your next move or is your concrete too thick to make a choice?

Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown, blame yourself for going to the circus.

This is SUCH a good quote and I can’t find out who its by? Confirming once again that Anon rocks.

So often I find myself at the circus. This week I went to soft play with my son. For those without children this is the equivalent of a Saturday night drunken brawl with squidgy walls, but ultimately bodily functions are everywhere and beige food is often consumed – its my hell. However, it was raining and I was meeting my gorgeous zen friend and her little spirited soul.

Our boys were playing beautifully and we were chatting about lovely things, when a clown from the table behind us started hollering that her child (*who was way too big for soft play) had been scratched on the face – she began to cause a scene that would be suitable for a soap opera, the mother of the accused ‘scratcher child’ retaliated. The clown’s had taken the spotlight – it was unpleasant and cringe worthy. The clowns made me sad (clowns can do this) because their children were lapping it up next to them, absorbing the negativity, energised and enjoying every moment. The clowns pointed at each other, spoke unsuitable words, demanded refunds and I realised I was at the circus.

Despite the clowns in this example leaving, we also chose to leave the circus, the rain had stopped and we went to a beautiful empty park surrounded by mother natures calmness. *Note to self, always pack wellies and avoid soft play.

Sometimes in places of work you can find yourself surrounded by clowns, you can even end up slipping in to a costume yourself, but my other favourite circus to avoid are supermarket carparks. I’m not sure why, but in supermarket carparks clowns frequent by pulling out without looking in some sort of slapstick manner. Clowns drive at ridiculous speeds and without caution, escaping trolleys add to the mayhem and shopping bags exploding increases the intense environment of the circus. For this reason, I shop online.

Should you stumble upon a clown performing, my advice is simple – walk away, breath and remember, nobody can force you to buy a ticket. Just like everything in this universe, we always have a choice. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we do, you can feel like the circus tent is collapsing around you, but there are exit signs if you choose to see them. They come in the shape of friends, loved ones, new opportunities and deciding what you want by listening to your instinct.

However, once in a while a ticket to the circus can be highly entertaining, as long as you remember to stay in your seat.

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.