If I’m honest I’m not really feeling like 2021 is delivering the joy I hoped for. Then I was reminded that mindset is everything and so I’ve decided it’s going to be the best year ever, whether it wants to be or not.
I’ve wrote many blogs on perspective and this post is no different, when you choose to sit in the good, the bad often dissipates, it never leaves as the negative moments make the positive all that bit more joyful thanks to a little thing called contrast.
This weekend I knew how good and thankful I was to lie in and the Mr even bought me tea in bed, I knew it was lovely because the first week in January was made up of brutal gets up where above the duvet it was cold and the world was full of demands.
The Mr then opened the curtains to show me the roofs that Jack Frost had created in the night, he suggested a walk and snug in bed at first I wasn’t keen…then I altered my mindset and reminded myself how Mother Nature always makes me feel better. A frosty walk half an hour later and she didn’t let me down.
Life is made of decisions, we don’t always get to decide the outcomes but we can decide how we feel about them. This year I’m choosing 2021 to be the year that my dreams come true. My other resolution is to never buy another item of clothing that doesn’t have pockets – life is too short and precious not to have a tissue and a lip balm at hand.
What are you going to do this year? Allow the pandemic to nibble at your soul or count your blessings, stop making excuses and do it anyway, I’m picking the second option but adding pockets.
Happy new year and I promise whatever is around the corner will be as good as you decide to see it.
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.
Firstly, congratulations you’ve made it to 2021! Let’s be honest, it was touch and go…
Now we’ve hit 2021 and the world is crying out for a kinder year and I’m hoping that travel will resume. However, I can’t help but see the usual spiral of diet plans, fitness regimes, goals, coaches, juices, subscriptions being pushed down our throat’s….and that’s great, if that works for you.
However, I just wanted to tap you on the shoulder and remind you that you’re enough just the way you are. Perfectly imperfect.
I personally like to analyse the year and set a few goals, perhaps try something new BUT not by January first. After the year we’ve all expected and the uncertain future that may be ahead, it’s time to slow things down. Take time to reflect, enjoy the process. You may wish to create a mind map or journal on the topic, so unpick the pieces of life’s puzzle that no longer serve you.
In the UK January is cold, grey and not the best time to be motivated. That doesn’t need to be an excuse, so be kind to yourself and make any goals small and achievable based on your circumstances.
New habits take time and so introducing small manageable changes is the best way to optimum success.
Action is needed; so if you aren’t ready to end old patterns that don’t serve you…don’t. Also don’t expect change. I’ve always found best results when I take my time to let go over things that don’t serve me any longer. If you rush the process, you often sabotage the results. An example of this was when I was pregnant and ‘nothing in my wardrobe fitted me’ so I took irrational action and threw away over half of my perfectly good not-pregnant wardrobe. I spent the next three years looking for tops or ‘ that belt’ constantly reminding myself that I’d given it away and it seem cases (basic tops) having to replace them. The same goes for taking on drastic diet plans that leave you malnourished or excessive exercise programmes that give you injuries. Small steps, one at a time…letting go as the quote suggests is a daily practice of moments and blessings, these often lead to more productive changes and take you a little nearer to your happy ever after.
I went with this quote for selfish reasons…it looks festive on my fridge, but it also has a seasonal message that you can apply all year long.
The vibration that we put out in to the world is often what we attract back. Karma, derived from India is now accepted in many cultures as ‘that which you put out in the world, you receive back’. Hinduism and Buddhism sometimes connect this with reincarnation but often it’s spoken in the moment.
Today I watched 20 children play Rugby in the rain, my son came home looking like he had had a mud wrap in a spa. A bubble bath and a couple of loads of washing later meant order was restored but upon reflection nobody moaned about being cold on the pitch, parents didn’t grumble on the sidelines and even when my son went for a tackle and face planted to the ground,he got up and smiled. For me, this is a classic ‘jingle all the way’ moment. The children haven’t been able to play Rugby for a while, despite mother nature’s down pour they were thrilled to be back, parents were wrapped for the elements and the perspective was on learning, improving and having fun…
In hindsight, the Rugby game could of been a miserable morning, I could of grumbled about the extra washing…instead we had a giggle and it was a positive experience for all…except the dog, she got cold and was shivering.
I’m not sure that 2021 is going to be significantly better than this year, in honesty I have so much to be thankful for this year and many cherished moments at home with my family BUT I am going to watch my ‘jingle all the way’ and add a little more sparkle to 2021 created simply by giving out positive energy. I may well receive even more joy back and if not, it’ll make for a more pleasant experience.
Dust off your bells and enjoy the lighter moments life has to offer, celebrate the small successes and know that time with loved ones is precious.
This is a personal letter to a dear friend but I’d like to think on some level it speaks to us all.
Dear lovely one,
Wow, whilst this year has been like the 90s TV show The Gladiators and we all just want to get to the final to prove we can complete the The Eliminator (read last two words with a game show voice over) in the quickest time, your show has been a little more challenging. Let down by your team mates and told false promises I can understand you’re hurt. That right is yours.
However, you are no rookie and this life has taken you on many challenging adventures all of which you have completed with love, perseverance and a dash of insanity. I wanted to remind you that you are the Ulrika Johnson / John Fashanu of your life, we all are. You introduce and close each chapter, you tell the tale how you want to. You are the presenter and director and nobody can alter that.
I was reflecting this morning on our friendship and realised that you are magical at manifesting. The woman who’s womb was like a crumbling cave made an awesome baby that nobody thought possible. The woman who in the face of some toxic relationships left with her heart full and kind words spoken.
When we lead with love we often attract more into our lives and this is my wish for you. I realise you are only moments into this new chapter and there are many hurdles ahead but I wanted to remind you that nobody, no law and no restrictions can interrupt a woman on a mission. Surround yourself with people who support you and quieten the ones who doubt. I personally will be chanting from the side lines (probably with one of those pointed over sized foam hands) for your success. I’ll continue chanting until you reach your destination. You see you get to pick your audience too and your ‘G-force’ (the cheerleaders name from the game show), remember we are far more resilient when needed, I surprise myself most days.
Whilst there are steps to your next haven, hurdles to overcome ‘The wall’ will be high and ‘Hang tough’ might even try to break you, but I know that you are stronger than a game show challenge.
Much like the quote I began with, I set intentions for you far higher than a location. Beyond ‘The Travalator’ (this was the final challenge in the Gladiators final) I know there will be peace. I hope you find what your heart really needs. To be surrounded by family and love, handled with care and allowed to flourish. I hope the future is kind and that we all have hair like Lightning (serious google that woman’s mane and physique, what an idol). At the moment it’s okay to not know what you need, you have a little one to put first, but in the rare moments of night, or the early hours of the morning silence dare to dream and then watch it unfold.
This week we said hello (and then goodbye) to Friday 13th in 2020. The meme game was high and it made reflect on the year a little, was 2020 really that horrendous? For me personally we have said goodbye to loved ones (not pandemic related), we’ve been affected by the lockdown restrictions and I updated my passport unnecessarily but we’ve also had so many awesome moments. The UK had a summer that seemed to last forever and it was joyful sunny! We used our garden and lockdown gave us family time that I couldn’t have imagined possible. I stepped over fear and went for an interview on zoom (so 2020) got the job, that led to a huge lifestyle change and well…there were a lot of good moments weaved in between.
In the last few weeks of 2020 make sure you’re your own hype man, don’t get caught in only reflecting on this year in a negative manner. All years, months and days have contrast of both good and bad moments, in fact I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes laughter in the darker moments is all the more precious. Some years are a little sweeter and now as it turns out, some have memories of banging on pans with wooden spoons and not seeing extended family as much as we would have liked.
But we’re still here, unless you’re reading this from beyond the grave, which would be pretty cool. We are still here and we still have time to create more awesome memories and remember this year with some Kanye flair – he ran for president, which lets me honest is both bold and so Kanye. Imagine if the world had as much self esteem as Mr West, although as the quote suggests a little humbleness often goes a long way too and it’s a delicate balance. Here are a few quotes from the man himself.
“For me to say I wasn’t a genius would just be me lying to myself and you”
“Everything I am made me everything i am” nope I don’t understand this either?
“I feel I’m too busy writing history to read it”
Then every now and then he says something that makes me cherish 2020 a little more…
“The only luxury we have is time. The time you get to spend with your family” count your blessings as much as you count your hardships and when the New Year’s Eve bells ring you can step into 2021 with gratitude (and a dash of relief)
I feel like every bathroom facility across the globe that has basins with mirrors above should have this around it. As I typed the quote out I internally thought, I know that but I’m not sure I always implement it.
For this reason, today’s post is a reminder that you are unique. You are beautiful. You have features that are superior to others and flaws that make you an individual. When we look at images from silicone valley or we forget that people in the media’s eye often use more filters that Lego have made plastic blocks, be kind to yourself and how you talk to yourself.
Sometimes I feel good in certain outfits at other times they feel like they don’t reflect how I feel and can have the opposite effect.
I can purchase beauty products, buy new clothes, exercise, sleep, eat well and at the end of the day look in the mirror and feel mortified by what I see reflected back. When you catch yourself giving yourself a hard time, you need to become your own fairy god mother – we all should go to the ball. If a girl with pumpkins and rats can do it, I’m sure we all can. I’m a woman with a goldfish, a gecko, a dog, two African snails and a tank of stick insects.
Here’s my godmother recipe:
First, stare in the mirror and laugh at how privileged you are to have a mirror.
Next, step back slightly and decide whether the lighting is doing you any favours or is it more like a light box game from the 1980’s, remember not all light is flattering.
Step three: Like a good friend, reason with yourself. How’s the day gone? Does the frizzy hair represent the rainy school run, are the bags under your eyes due to night feeds and are the spots hormonal? if so..remind yourself that you succeeded to collect your child from school, feed your child and that hormones are a sign of health.
Challenge time, rather than focus on the spots, frizzy hair and bags under the eyes. Look in the mirror and pick THREE features you love. Perhaps it’s your laughter lines that remind you of good times, or your lips, maybe you like your hair up, down or are just glad you found time to wash it.
Lastly, look at your features and think about your loved ones. Do you have the same eyes as your Dad, the curve of your nose is the same as your daughters, how blessed we are to have reminders so near to us…unless your family are douche bags in which case casually miss this step.
Lastly and totally nonnegotiable…create time for some self care. A hot bath child free, a hair wrap or time to do your nails…because like this post stated at the beginning, your beautifully perfect just the way you are and deserve to be treated so.
Being from the UK I’m an expert in all things weather related, you see in England we don’t have a climate, we have weather. Sometimes (and often in the last few weeks) we can have torrential rain and seconds later clear sky’s and something in the sky that resembles the sun beaming down like ‘what rain?’ The key in terms of fashion if you’re ever visiting is layers. Be prepared for cold Mornings, rain, an unpredictable grey sky and if you’re lucky that orange mystical beast of a sun may come out to play…although unlikely.
Alex’s quote above related to storms, they blow over and the clouds run out of rain…a comparison to a metaphorical storm you may be in in a physical sense. Emotions are often temporary and with support, ease and flow you’ll find that emotions too run out of cloud.
However, the true surprise from me is that people strive for the sun. Looking for pure happiness and expecting to stay in it. Think tropical island for a second – too much of anything has its downsides. We think we want the sun until we get burnt, we think we want the snow until we slip on the ice or get lost in a blizzard. We are often surprised when we try new things and like them…actually the real sweet spot in the weather system is a rainbow, the prism of joy that leaps from sun and rain combined.
Don’t spend your days chasing the storm or under grey clouds of doom…it’s temporary, everything is – even you. Instead I double dare you infinity to look for the joy in all weathers, in all emotions and remember it’s only for a short moment, tomorrow may be different and different can be better or worse and if you’re truly blessed you may get a tomorrow after that and that too will be different. Enjoy the contrast in the journey and don’t spend your time looking for an end result.
This post may be triggering for some as it includes references to silent miscarriage and neonatal death. * I do however use the word sparkle.
A year a go I went to my first scan, my only concerns that the photo taken may be too alien and freak me out (am I the only one who thinks they aren’t cute?) moments later the sonographs voice echoed words that meant my unborn babies journey was over. My heart shattered into pieces and I left the hospital held up by the Mr as the world felt like it might be ending. You can read more here.
However, time flies when you’re in a pandemic and I learnt a lot about how awesome my body was, I left the experience with a new high five for my physical attributes, that like most women I’ve been slating since the dawn of crop tops.
I truly believe that reframing can increase our well being, this doesn’t involve painting the world like it’s perfect (remember lockdown?) but acknowledging our thoughts and choosing to see the sparkle. It broke my heart to see that my unborn babies heart has stopped, it was painful to heal from physically and it felt like the natural process took forever and I felt at times Mother Nature was mocking me.
I was reflecting with a friend on how I was feeling a year on from my miscarriage and I can confidently say I’m at peace with it, do I understand it ,no. But for me, I don’t think I need to.
I do know, due to my daughters complex birth and subsequent death in 2009 that for me to have had to go to scans alone, to potentially give birth without my partner due to COVID restrictions would of broken me. I know my limits, I know I would of got through it, but I also feel blessed that I didn’t have those extra worries during 2020. To those parents who did, I salute you.
Reframing my silent miscarriage and being grateful for avoiding pregnancy during the most bizarre year of every bodies lives gives me comfort. Knowing that my body healed, that I’m back to full strength and that I’m a better, more empathetic individual for the experience gives me hope.
In case you have a very different experience, please know that this is just how I feel.
Lockdown also gave me time to reflect on my career, it enabled me to step up and go for new opportunities and I’m loving it. Had the pregnancy of continued I wouldn’t have found this pathway due to having maternity leave.
I truly feel like 2020 has been a year of redirection for me, nothing like what I planned and certainly contains elements of rejection. Perhaps my grass isn’t greener for our pregnancy loss – I’ll never know, but I do know that I’m happy in my now, I’m watering this new direction and if I’ve got anything to do with it, the grass will grow taller, thicker and wider than I could imagine.
#kindness matters is my favourite hashtag. Simply because it does matter, many people think it’s overlooked and unappreciated but in my experience often people have remembered the smallest of actions years later.
I asked my seven year old son what stories he knew that were about kindness, he told me one about a prince and a goose and then about a king and a mango…well actually a lot of mangoes, the more he retold the story the more mangoes seemed to appear. To the point where he wasn’t sure why the story was about kindness? He walked away and I thought the conversation had ended, he then sat back down on the sofa next to me and said that kindness in real life was like whispers. ‘You can’t always see them, sometimes you can feel them – they feel like a tickle, but mostly they’re invisible’
He of course is right. True kindness that makes an impact isn’t about large gesture (or using his metaphor tsunami winds) but usually unthought moments of love. Holding a door; staying to help pack the chairs away, making a cup of tea, buying a gift because you’re reminded of that person rather than for an occasion, taking time to say hello, sharing crisps (something I’m not great at), the list is endless.
Who’s the kindest person you know? My advice, be more like them.
It’s often free and makes a huge impact on one individual, if the world was kinder we wouldn’t have so many people who are lonely, mental health figures would reduce and there would be less judgement…sign me up for that kind of world, it’ll take a few small actions from everybody…are you in?