Archive of ‘personal’ category

My 1st Blogiversary!

This week, on Thursday, my blog is officially one whole year old! When I sat down in my lounge – this time almost a year ago – and wrote my first ever post I genuinely never expected to become so involved and in love with a world in which, before that day, I barely knew existed.

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Blogging helped me recover from my third and most hideous episode of post natal depression. It helped me self publish my book ‘A Monster Ate My Mum,’ and support so many other mums suffering with the illness too. I’ve met wonderful new friends, taken part in this year’s epic Team Honk relay challenge with @ladyemsy and @caro_mad, and been to some excellent and inspiring blogging conferences. I have been lucky to become a BRITAX Mumbassador, and yes through blogging I have also, I have to say it, had the opportunity to review some pretty fab things! All in all blogging rocks, and I’m so proud of the fact that my blog is still going one year on!

The blog has changed a lot and evolved in ways I never imagined when I started, and I love the fact that anything goes. Having three children spanning in ages from 12 to 1 I always have material to write about, but have also enjoyed blogging about my personal issues, education, feminism, my (mostly unsuccessful) weight loss and even my baking! (probably responsible for said poor weight loss!) Linkies have been an amazing way to find new blogs and promote mine; Silent Sunday posts have got me passionate about photography, and I have re-found my love of poetry thanks to Vic Welton and Ellie All At Sea. Maybe one day I’ll even be brave enough to take part in one of Stephanie Arsoska’s amazing virtual open mic nights! (and finish off my Summer Of Words story!)

In the last year I have also been lucky enough to publish some wonderful guest posts from brilliant bloggers; it never fails to amaze me how we are always finding new ways to write about well known topics and how brilliantly inventive bloggers are with their words.

Blogging is like an itch that needs scratching; it’s cathartic, therapeutic….uplifting. When people comment on my blog I feel so pleased that someone has identified with what I’ve written or has been moved enough to comment. It makes me smile and I must find some precious time to comment on others more.

In truth I have been finding it hard to find the time to write as much as I used to; mainly due to going back to work but also – very excitingly – because I am so involved with many other projects that have happened because of my blog. Which is amazing!! But…I will continue to blog as much as I can, for I truly love it, and feel privileged to be part of such a wonderful community.

Thank you, as always, for reading 🙂

If you like reading my blog then I’d love for you to please nominate me for a MAD blog award, I’ll leave you to decide in which category! You can nominate by clicking on the badge below. Thank you x
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Jog on PND

You know you’re not welcome here anymore,
Go away, get out, I’ve shown you the door.
Don’t you dare come back and ruin my world,
I won’t let you, I’ll stay strong for my boys and my girl.

Get lost, jog on, go away, just scram,
I’ve worked too hard to get well and to be where I am.
You were beaten, overcome, I was rid of your hold,
You can’t break me, can’t destroy me, I refuse to fold.

My ears are shut to your self loathing attacks,
I shan’t be irrational, I’ll hold on to the facts.
You will not absorb my energy and spirit,
You can say what you like for I’ll choose not to hear it.

I’m stronger than you and I win every time,
There’s no point in fighting, all choices are mine.
Try all you like you’ll never beat me,
So give up, f*** off and jog on PND.

Prose for Thought


MAD Blog Awards

Technology Time Out

Time out: Noun: a pause from doing something (as work); “we took a 10-minute break”; “he took time out to recuperate.” respite, break, recess; pause – temporary inactivity.

There’s been a lot of talk on my Twitter and Facebook timelines about having some technology free time. A regular period of time where we are screen free; all technological gadgets and equipment turned off. It comes at an interesting time for me, as this weekend has seen several discussions between my husband and I about how much time we are spending on our phones and iPads. On Saturday I witnessed both of boys climbing up their father’s legs whilst he looked up something on the internet on his phone. I saw my daughter roll her eyes again as I picked up the iPad just to have a peek at Twitter. I saw us through my children eyes, and it did not make me feel good.

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Social networking, the internet, the television and more are all available 24 hours a day seven days a week and unless we switch them off they will not be silenced. We went out as a family to enjoy the sunshine yesterday morning and as I wondered around Victoria Park in Bath I observed a ridiculous number of parents looking at their phones whilst their children played and called out to them to ‘look’ and see what they were doing; and often when the parents did look it was through the lens of their phone’s camera – including me.

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Photos are extremely important, I love having an in depth record of my children’s lives so far – but I must admit I don’t sit and pour through photos of my childhood – everything is firmly imprinted in my mind, And I’d like the same to be true of remembering my children.

And what are we afraid of if we put our phones down? Missing an important call? Missing a mention or a tweet? Missing having access to the news and weather? Would it really harm us if we weren’t so accessible? If we switched off, zoned out and focused on what was happening right in front of our very eyes? Those messages will still be there hours later, but what is happening then and there will not.

I think that the thought of turning off our electronic devices panics many. But for my family, panic or not, it has become a necessity for us. We need to switch off. It’s all too easy to escape into a different world and shut out the real one. My children are growing up painfully quickly and I don’t want to miss a second. They deserve our time, our energy, our devotion…at all times!

So starting this week we are going to have technology time out. Daily from after school until the children go to bed. Then also at the weekend; phones and iPads will be switched off and put away. And family time will be family time. I think it may be quite refreshing…I’ll let you know how it goes!

What about you, do you think we all rely on technology too much and miss the world around us at times?

Can I really have it all?

Complete: having all the necessary or appropriate parts.

Warning: the following post is a complete outpouring of random thoughts…

Oh if only I could have it all and be complete…the world would be amazing! I’d have a size ten figure and eat chocolate. I’d have wine with no hangover. I’d have children yet spontaneity. The world would be my oyster. But can we, and by we I mean women, really ever truly have it all? Can I be a mother, a teacher and a blogger? Are there enough hours in the day; do I have the capacity and mental and physical energy to do all of these things to the very best of my ability, or does something inevitably have to give?

This week I went back to work, and even though it’s only been for two days it’s impacted on my life hugely. I’ve been dreaming about work, thinking about it when I’m not there and even – shock horror – doing some school work at home. I’ve not seen my children as much as I would normally and I feel distanced. I’ve not been on Twitter hardly at all and I feel removed from that too.

Before I went back to work I was happy and fulfilled. Being a full time mum was amazing, and blogging gave me the mental stimulation I craved. I wrote and published a book, I even made some money…and things were getting exciting. I was planning on organising a post natal depression awareness week…something that would take a huge amount of organisation, but is such an important thing to do. I was becoming involved in Team Honk and the fabulous bloggers relay across the land. I was developing my blog and writing more books (as yet unseen and unpublished.) It was exciting, I was excited, I loved it. And while I still can (and most definitely will) do all of those things, if I’m honest I’m already very anxious that I will not be able to dedicate as much time and energy to them as I would have when I wasn’t at work. Sometimes if you’re away from the world if Twitter just for one day you can miss so much, and the same is true of children. And I certainly don’t want to miss a single minute with them.

As I warned you at the beginning, this post really is a bit of an outpouring of thoughts and confused feelings at the moment and I appreciate it if you’re still reading. 😉

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do anything by halves – my boss once said to me that no one could ever meet my expectations as I set them impossibly high, hence why I’m not great at job sharing – and I don’t want to do something unless I can give it my absolute all. Yet, if I try and maintain those expectations of myself, then all of the things I want in my life may not all be able to stay. Obviously I can’t give up my children…so what will go? I guess maybe, only time will tell and I’ll naturally gravitate to the things I am most passionate and enthusiastic about. But oh it would be so lovely if nothing had to give…if these emotions and anxieties were just all part of getting into a new routine, a new groove, and that in a few weeks I’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Because of course I can have it all…I’m a woman aren’t I?! 😉

Have any of you felt like this? Can we have it all because if we can, I’d love to know how! 😉

Reluctance

Reluctance: unwillingness or disinclination to do something. “she sensed his reluctance to continue” synonyms: unwillingness, disinclination, lack of enthusiasm.

Urgh. Meh. Pah. Bleurch. On Monday, for the first time in nearly two years, I will return to work as a primary school teacher after my third (and final) maternity leave. A couple of weeks ago – feeling extremely nervous and apprehensive – I went into school to join in their Christmas lunch. And when I came home I wrote this…

Today I went into work for the first time in a very long time. And in January I return to work after nearly two years of extended maternity leave. How was it you ask? Strange, horrible, exciting, different.

For those of you who don’t know I’m a primary school teacher and have been for the last 14 years since I qualified. I’ve worked both as a supply (supply teacher of the month May 2003 I’ll have you know!) and then as a permanent member of staff in my current school since September 2003. During that time teaching, my school and myself have changed unrecognisably. It’s fair to say the current education system neither excites or motivates me – if I had Michael Gove’s job things would be done very differently, but sadly I don’t, and somehow have to fit back into a school and a system I’m not particularly enamoured with.

Now I’m not going to go into detail about my actual school, because let’s face it as a teacher I’m not entirely sure I should blog about work at all, but what I do want to write about is how I’m feeling about returning. This will be the third time I’ve returned from work after having a baby. The first time I was a single parent and my daughter was 18months old. Having had to defer my last year at university after my father had died I hadn’t had a full time job before I got pregnant, so being a supply teacher seemed like the perfect way to get back into teaching. And it was the right time. My daughter has always been very busy, inquisitive and sociable and (as my mum lived over two hours away so couldn’t help out) nursery seemed like the best choice. She settled in instantly which helped and I was excited to return to work. Supply teaching meant if I needed a day off I could easily have one, but it did mean no holidays as I worked in nursery school during the school holiday time, or there was I didn’t get paid. It worked well. Working three days a week gave me the best of both worlds and I loved being ‘me’ at work, something that was mine and defined me and I was good at. Then, when she was three, I had an opportunity to work permanently and full time. A choice I didn’t take lightly, but a regular income was too good to turn down.

Skip down the line a couple of years and I met my husband and became pregnant again. This time I was on maternity leave for just ten months, and at the end of it I was raring to get back to work. I thrived on the buzz, applied for and got a promotion whilst on maternity leave and loved it. Working three days again was brilliant and I still got to spend some wonderful time with my children when I wasn’t at work. I became an expert at compartmentalising things and when at home work did not cross my mind once.

And this time, well this time is different. This time is so very different. And I’m not sure why. Is it me? Is it work? Is it because of pnd? Or because I know I’m not having anymore children and going back to work is now forever until I retire…which will probably be when I’m one hundred and fifty if the government have anything to do with it. Although this maternity leave has been one of my most challenging – pnd really is a complete bitch – it has also been the most amazing time of my life. I knew I would want to take extended maternity leave when I first found out I was pregnant and applied for it straight away; and I’m so grateful we’ve (just about) been able to afford it. With my middle child starting school last September I knew that the long settling in period would be difficult to manage if I was working. My husband works away often and there is no family close by to help out and I didn’t want to rely on wrap around care immediately like I had to with my daughter. And now I’ve taken that extra magical, and wonderful time away from work it’s making it so much harder to go back. My life is pretty amazing at the moment. Yes I have a challenging pre-teen saying she hates me often, yes I have two wonderfully lively boys who never stop, and yes some days I am overwhelmed with the groundhogness of it all – but it really is simply perfect. I love being with my children, I love being able to blog, I love spending time with my friends who are mums themselves. And of course none of those things actually have to stop, but they will be impacted upon by work.

And work itself. I felt lonely today, which is ridiculous considering the staff are over 60 in number. It’s changed so much. I likened it earlier to some colleagues to the boiling frog analogy – and that those still there haven’t noticed the many changes because they have been subtle and over a period of time, like the frog not realising he’s getting too hot – and then there’s me, the frog thrown into the boiling water and screaming because it’s painful and shockingly different and not a pleasant place for me to be at all.

And then I stopped writing. So, Monday is the day and as you can probably guess I’m pretty reluctant. Hopefully once I’m back all of the people who have said, ‘It’ll be like you never left!’ will prove to have been right. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Do you work? How did you feel about going back…any magical words of advice for me?!

Guest post: Supporting Others With PND

This Christmas and New Year, I am fortunate enough to be well. I am lucky that I can see the joy in Christmas and celebrate it with gusto. But for many, I know this may not be the case at all; just like it wasn’t for me last year when I was recovering from post natal depression. Christmas and New Year can be extremely difficult for people suffering with depression. It is not always a merry and happy time of year. It is often a very lonely and difficult period for everyone who is affected by the illness, and supporting someone through it can be – in its own way – as challenging as it is being the person who is ill.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting a moving post about just this…supporting others with PND. And in particular supporting others when you are suffering or have suffered yourself – for many of us who are recovering or have recovered are determined that no one should suffer like we have, because that thought is simply unbearable; you wouldn’t wish post natal depression on your worst enemy.

The post is from the lovely Pumping Mama who blogs, amongst other things, about her experiences of PND with raw honesty at thepumpingmama.wordpress.com. She’s recently blogged about Christmas, and describes it as a ‘two sided coin,’ one side where you are able to enjoy it, and another where you are suffocated by other’s Christmas cheer and possibly feel at your lowest point ever. The Pumping Mama is passionate about mothers not feeling alone, about us all supporting each other through talking, texting, and tweeting, giving hope and encouragement to each other. This post has verbalised many thoughts I’ve had when talking to others suffering from PND, for even though I’ve suffered my experiences may be very different to those of others. For me in particular, the last line says it all.

Supporting Others With PND

Do I make my reality theirs? The feelings they have, the things they’re suffering, may not be anything like my personal experience.

Do I tell them the gritty truth? Do I tell them that I don’t remember a lot of the first year of Moos life? Do I divulge to them that I still have bad days, even now, more than two years on?

Do I just listen? This isn’t about me now. Do I tell them that I can empathise, that I’ve been there, that it gets better?

No one tells you how to support others in life. Is this why we live in such a fractured society, often lacking in compassion for mental health issues? How do we learn how to love other human beings, to hold each other up, to comfort and nurture one another?

I don’t know the answers. I just know my experience, my reality, my journey, and what works for me. All I can do is hold a hand, make a cup of tea, and listen. I’m no expert on mental health, no degree backs up my support. But in the midst of a vastly lonely head space, someone simply walking alongside you is enough.

You can follow The Pumping Mama on Twitter @ThePumpingMama, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ThePumpingMama and her blog is http://www.thepumpingmama.wordpress.com

Disjointed

Disjointed: lacking a coherent sequence or connection.

You may or may not have noticed my lack of blog posting recently. It’s been a funny few weeks. Not necessarily in a bad way, but not entirely good either. I’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad – and have desperately been trying to promote my book by writing several guest blog posts which will hopefully be live soon. There’s been vomit and nativity plays and nights out with wonderful friends. There’s been a visit to Father Christmas and endless shopping and wrapping of presents. But what there hasn’t been for me, is festive cheer.

I’ve desperately been trying to get into the Christmas spirit – normally by now I’m totally Christmas crazy – yet this year it’s just not happening. And the reason, the painful truthful reason as to why I’m not in the festive spirit, is simply because this year, for the first time in twelve years, for the first time ever in her beautiful life, I will not be spending Christmas Day with my daughter. For she will be with her father, at her wish.

As many of you regular readers will know her father wasn’t exactly enamoured with the idea of becoming one at such a young age and he did pretty much everything in his power to make it not be true. And so for the first few years, when he was rather inconsistent in his presence, she was blissfully all mine at Christmas.

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As a single parent, who’s father had passed away just two years previously, Christmas was always spent at my Mum’s house, where we carried on all of the wonderful Christmas traditions that had started during my childhood. It was wonderful, something I always looked forward to with immense excitement, and soon there came new traditions as we grew as a family and welcomed more people in. The phrase ‘all good things must come to an end,’ now springs to mind for after a long time of me trying to get her father regularly involved in her life – because even though I had formed a firm opinion of the type of man he was, I strongly believed she had the right to know him and make that decision for herself – we started alternating Christmases. He would have her from shortly after her school broke up until Christmas Eve, and then the next year he would have her until Christmas afternoon, when she was picked up on the way to my Mum’s.

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This year, without either of us talking about it (our communication has been a bit crap of late) I assumed the same would be true. However my daughter’s father had other ideas which promptly placed her rather uncomfortably in the middle. Now I know at times she can be – along with every other twelve year old – quite a challenging human being, deep down behind all of the pre-teen hormonal rage she has a truly beautiful nature and hates upsetting people. She was torn and teary and it was horrible to see. So, in spite of everything I was thinking and feeling at the time (namely rage as her dad hadn’t been particularly friendly in the discussion) I handed the decision over to her and told her that I would support her 100% in whatever she chose. I reassured her that her Nanna and Uncle wouldn’t hate her, and neither for that matter would I. And – frighteningly quickly – she chose to go to her Dad’s.

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I didn’t show her my hurt or upset, I didn’t voice my dismay all at her decision. I hugged her and told her I hoped she’d have a wonderful Christmas, and reassured her that yes, we’d do Christmas Day all over again for her on Boxing Day when she was to be collected. My husband and I then worked out our Christmas with the boys and my family (his mum and dad always come to us on Christmas Eve and prefer to spend Christmas Day at home just the two of them, so that was sorted!) and how and when we could pick her up on Boxing Day. All worked out. Daughter happy. Dad happy. Me…well you can imagine.

I hope you don’t think me trivial or indulgent for writing a blog post about my upset, because yes, it is just one day and I am incredibly fortunate in so many ways…yet for me without my daughter there, even for one day, Christmas simply will not be the same. There will be something missing. Part of me missing. Christmas undoubtedly becomes magical all over again once you have children, and that magic doesn’t stop when they become a pre-teen (she still wanted to see Father Christmas the other day) and it’s hard to know that for the first time I’m not going to be there to see it. And this will be the first of many, a new tradition now formed whereby every other year she is not here to celebrate with me, with us, with her brothers.

Since making the decision I can tell she’s still been torn. Whenever Christmas has been talked about I’ve also been incredibly torn – for if I say how excited I am she gets hurt and thinks I’m not going to miss her…and yet when I say it won’t be the same without her she gets equally upset and demands that I will be ok and have fun! Safe to say I’ve not been able to do right for doing wrong so to speak! No change from the norm there though really either – living with a pre-teen really can be a mine field!

So for now my job before she goes on Christmas Eve, is to embrace what time we will spend together over Christmas, and make it as magical and special as I can. I’m lucky I have my awesome husband and gorgeous boys to celebrate the day with and my heart goes out to others who are not so fortunate. For families come in all shapes and sizes and each have their own challenges to face.

And for us, I’m determined that Christmas this year will still be a magical one…just a little disjointed.

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#wednesdaywords

Another short but poignant #wednesdaywords today. I am loving all of the wonderful things that have been happening since I self-published, but promoting yourself is hard work! This quote, seen on Facebook earlier in the week, just summed it all up!

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Crazy

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