Thursday, 25 April 2019

Time Redefined: Mindfulness for parents

Photo credit: @fancycrave Unsplash

Parenting for me is a heady mixture of absolute heart warming joy, laughter and pride, yet in the same breath it can fill me with incredible anxiety, panic, self doubt and of course it comes with the inevitable exhaustion. Whether you are flying solo or part of a solid, extended family team of support, parenting can be overwhelming and lets be honest at times, terrifying. 
From the minute you are handed your precious bundle, you are up. You are placed on the front line of the biggest protection operation of your life with zero training, zero camo gear and zero pay. Fan bloody-tastic.

In my silly naive pre-baby mind, I was hoping for lots of nice relaxing hospital time to recover where my doting husband indulged me in daily foot massages whilst feeding me organic chocolate and gently rocking our already quiet new baby to sleep. 
A burst catheter and some infected c-section stitches later and reality had alarmingly slapped me around the face and dunked me firmly into the cold waking reality of my new life. 

I remember my sister, who had worked as a nanny in London for some years at the time, saying to me when I was pregnant, that 7am would be a lie in. I think I laughed out loud at her, I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. She was horrifyingly very, very right. 7am would have indeed been a lie in. I thought I would die from lack of sleep - was that even possible? 
To be honest, 7am is often still a lie in now even with a six and eight year old, although new parents definitely wont want to hear that..

We can all look back and laugh at our lives before children. What we took for granted, what we miss but the reality is, we love our children (most of the time) and life is different afterwards. 

Things would have to change. I needed to not only redefine who I was but also I learned I needed to completely redefine my time. 

This new life chapter forced me to look at what I need to survive to be a good parent and person and this is why I wanted to share with you what I do to create mindfulness in my normal day. They may seem like silly things, small things, frivolous things, but ANY mindfulness you can manage in your day is a good thing. Parents and carers are extremely busy people but a few minutes of purposeful self care thrown in here and there can make a huge difference to your day and your life.

1. Make your mindfulness conscious.

This might sound obvious but firstly, in order to feel like I have spent some time on myself, for myself, it needs to be conscious. A conscious decision. I decide before hand that this will be something just for me. ‘ This action is for YOU only.’ This helps in balancing the feelings that all you have done all day is look after everyone else, physically and mentally. I have already decided that mentally during those moments it will be just for me, self indulgent and focused on what I like and need. 
Purposeful, conscious self care and mindfulness is at the very top of the list.

2. Leisure time 

This has to be the biggest change and challenge once you become a parent. For a long while afterwards, months, years for some parents, there is little to zero leisure time unless you really try to make it happen. Sometimes outside circumstance dictates this and for my husband and I it has been limited childcare options that made leisure time pretty tough until they started school. 
We lived abroad for a time and so with no family help around we relied on the odd local babysitter here and there if we could find one!
I needed to learn to swap the nice meals in restaurants, the drinks with friends in local pubs and long hairdressers appointments for other things that would count as ‘leisure time’ in my mind and stop making me feel hard done by!

I listened to a lot of music and podcasts out loud, still do. Put on something you love to listen to. Put on a live Kings of Leon album at high volume (or whatever floats you boat) and have a sing and a dance around the house. You may not be sat at Glastonbury festival but music is food for the soul and can take you off mentally somewhere else for a few minutes which is sometimes all we need. 

Spend a few extra minutes in the bath or shower whenever you can. Buy the slightly more expensive bubble bath or body scrub. Consciously relax.

Exercise is a tricky one when you become a new parent especially. Babies are either napping in the wrong place at the wrong time or you are too exhausted to do anything at all. If you have the time or the inclination I think this is where exercise Dvd's come into their own. 
I remember doing a few half hours a week here and there when our first born was taking his afternoon nap. Davina McCall's post pregnancy dvd was my choice, which even though I was shattered I felt proud and empowered that I had managed to fit something in the day just for me. Whatever your age there is a trillion DVD’s to have a go at and it means if you can't get to a gym or a class then you can have a go at something. 

3. Favourite drink

Indulge in your very favourite drink and make it with care.
In all honesty I think THE best purchase my husband ever made was our very first coffee machine. Aside from the fact I have always loved coffee and our four year stint in Spain did nothing but keep my coffee fire alight, the caffeine Im sure actually saved my life. With both our newborn sons, that stuff was like gold to me, a treat that kept me awake and conscious at the 3am breastfeeding party for way longer than I would ever have lasted without the stuff.
I still now from the second I turn on our swanky new industrial coffee bean machine, feel like I am indulging in a treat just for ME. So whether it be a cup of freshly brewed builders tea, a soya latte or a huge cup of hot chocolate, make it, enjoy it and know it is something just for you. 

I should also mention here that I absolutely LOVE WINE. Parenting is stressful and wine I consider a huge indulgent treat that can  - in the right situations - calm the nerves and relax the fretting parent. It is also delicious and has grapes as the main ingredient so in my mind it’s a continental salad right? 
We’re quite up tight about drinking in this country. Moderation is obvious, but you’re all grownups so no need for me to say any more.

4. Actually sitting down for no other reason than you want to.


This is something that I have got much better at. If you are tired, REST. You really are no good to anyone if you’re any more knackered than you have to be. Banish the guilt, sit down and watch an episode of Come Dine With Me, read a chapter of your book, flick through a trashy magazine or do nothing but stare out of the window. 
Something has to give, the washing can actually wait. I have been known over the years to put the same load of washing on in the machine three times because I didn’t want to deal with its contents. Nobody died but I did get to rest for ten minutes that day and I guarantee I was slightly less stressed that evening.

Parents suffer a lot of guilt about this although I have to say I think this seems to be a female thing way more than a male thing? We are guilt ridden about anything and everything from the minute we hold our baby in our arms which is ridiculous. 

Nap. Doze. Just be.

Don't feel hard done by that a day has escaped without having just a few minutes to yourself. 
You are an important being!

Be kind to yourself. Time redefined = mindful moments just for you.

Betty x

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Lose the fear, absorb the journey.

 ‘And then I realised that to be more alive I had to be less afraid, so I did it, I lost my fear and gained my whole life.’

Such a great quote.

I’m not talking about the fear of lions, tigers and bears here, I’m talking about the fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of letting go, the fear of tomorrow.

Life can be scary and I think often, life gets scarier the older you get. Somewhere along the way we lose our care free attitude that is carried as a child and suddenly we are aware that everything has a consequence. We are certainly more aware of our mortality and can start to approach things with trepidation because either previous experience has told us to beware of the fallout, or knowledge and worry can fuel negativity.

Fear is a weird often impalpable thing, it can power you forward with determination into doing things you thought unimaginable. You can be catapulted completely out of your comfort zone to do amazing things, or it can render you powerless and locked into life situations you know are not good for you.

Keeping a check on my own fear I still find a challenge. I battle with the ‘What ifs?’ in my life often. What if I’m not giving equal attention to my children? What if someone gets ill? What if I get ill? What if I can’t fit in work and see my relatives or friends enough? What if I can never find work life balance? What if a volcano erupts at the bottom of our garden? What if aliens land and kidnap me (Unlikely I know but both have crossed my mind believe it or not…)

On a more basic level, I used to snow-board a lot in my early twenties but now as a mum that has recently hit 40, the fear of managing with a broken ankle post piste action, quite frankly frightens the living daylights out of me. Is that fear reason enough to put a stop to my whizzing down the slopes? The answer is no, probably not.

If I’ve learned one thing over the past twelve months it’s that fear only breeds lack of focus for today, and I for one want to be 100% fully focused on today. We’re often chasing tomorrow, the future, what we think we want. The bigger house, new car, more family time, time alone, more money, less stuff, to be fitter, to spend more time with friends, to have more confidence…the list goes on and on. We as humans are never happy and before you know it today has passed you by.

The good news however, is that the happiness is in your hands!

Today’s journey is life, it’s your life and its happening right now. Don’t look back and have not absorbed the journey, that is what it’s all about. The journey, today, now.
What happened today for you that was positive? What is good?

Children are a great example of showing us how to live in the now, they may concern themselves with a worry as a part of their day, but generally they play, they connect with people, eat, drink and soak up whatever situation they’re in to the max.

Let’s not make getting older change our focus on being present. By all means write those lists for the year ahead, plan, have life goals, a wish list, I’m all for having those (and an annual cosmic order at that) but don’t let this get in your way of enjoying the smaller things every day and don’t let fear for whatever reason stop you enjoying the now. I for one am getting comfortable in the hands of the Universe. I will continue my life journey today and I refuse to let fear of the unknown and the future ‘what ifs’ cast a shadow over that!

Absorb the journey. Fear less, live more.

Today might be one of the best days of your life. Don’t miss it.

Happy new year all.

Betty X

Sunday, 12 March 2017

What forty looks like

Here I am, a few hours away from waking up on my fortieth birthday. I’ve been trying for a while to write an article about it. Summing up forty years of my life on planet earth in words has been more difficult than I’d thought.

The world has changed a lot since I was born in Cornwall forty years ago. No more running to phone boxes to call friends and family, my beloved red Sony Walkman is now obsolete and the worn VHS copies of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from our childhood, are long gone.

Today I am sitting at a computer with a wireless keyboard and a touch screen monitor, with a crazy thing called the Internet about to make it possible for me to publish this in a nano second for all to see.

My child-hood was by all accounts pretty special. Growing up in such an idyllic place with the beach on our doorstep, green fields to run in and a village community that was basically an extended family. I can’t help but think I am one of the last generation to have had such carefree, young years.

So, the question is, how do I feel about turning forty?

It’s something I’ve been asked a lot over this last year and it started me thinking. How do I feel about it? People have been approaching me with trepidation like it is something ghastly that I should be preparing for and in all honesty, I had started to feel a little nervous about it.

My thirties have been fantastic and totally jam packed. I’ve worked in television, travelled, had two sons, moved house four times, moved countries twice, got married, re-discovered my love of writing, re-affirmed old friendships, formed new ones and tentatively started to forge a second career in broadcast radio.  Some would say I’ve been lucky in life so far, I don’t think I believe in luck, I believe that you create your own opportunities and positivity breeds positivity. I remember being told once that nothing just ‘lands in your lap’ and this is something I have never forgotten. The next decade certainly has a lot to live up to.

I think for many of us our thirties are our years of figuring out who we are and what we want. I now choose my friends a lot more carefully as I am conscious that I need to be surrounded by people that are driven, warm and emotionally generous. Essentially the glass half full people in the world. Enthusiasm for life is contagious, and they are the sort of people I openly and unashamedly want to be spending my time with these days.

Becoming a parent seems to have uncovered the real me. There is no hiding who you are when you have children and this is something that has been my biggest learning curve. Learning to celebrate who I am and be proud of it whether I’m showcasing the good the bad or the ugly is, it has to be said, rather liberating.  

I’ve decided whether you feel ok about it or not, it’s hard to get to forty without feeling like it is a milestone one way or another. It has made me look back at the life I’ve had so far and assess what I’d like to do in the future. By now you have usually survived a certain amount of heart ache whether that be through relationship breaks ups or grief. You’ve had various jobs and encountered a good deal of people in your life both personally and professionally. All these things seem to provide perspective when looking back and for me at least, greater clarity for my wants, looking forwards.

I’ve mentioned in previous articles that I am a life crammer, I don’t ever want to be guilty of wasting anything I’m given and that includes time. I guess the older I get the more this is important to me.
I was also very keen to see what was important to others.

Not so long ago I put a question out to friends, family and acquaintances that had recently, or were just about to, turn forty. How did they feel? What did it mean to them? The responses I had were all different and fascinating. I feel privileged that they shared their thoughts about it, whether the insights were frivolous or more emotional. With their permission I have included some quotes from various messages I received from both males and females all over the world.


‘I had decided that 40 would be my cut off point for starting a family. Fast approaching my late 30's with no potential partner on the horizon, I chose to be realistic and told myself if I hadn't had a baby by 40, I wasn't going to start after this age. Funnily enough, I married at 41, my husband was 49 and had a grown up son from his first marriage who had just become a father himself. I didn't feel pressured to be a mum as being a granny by default suited me fine…’

‘I thought I'd offer a perhaps different approach. I turned 40 in October. Whilst I was nervous about the onset of age into my thirties, 40s were very different. As someone whose life expectancy was always much less than 40, I see this as a huge milestone and something to be celebrated in a really positive way. And that is from a single person, without kids, and by no means having what one might term as a 'perfect' life. For anyone feeling glum about being 40, ask the question, how would you feel if you were not expected to reach 40?
I am loving being 40. I can't tell you how many times I've said, 'i make no apologies, being this way got me to 40!' What more can I say......bring on the confidence that turning 40 has given me.....heaven help us all!’
(Cystic Fibrosis sufferer)

‘So turning 40 at times I do not mind but then I think 40!!! Really 40!!! That's old like really grown up, inside I still feel young but 40!!! No not looking forward to it at all. However,you can still be naughty at forty right?'

‘Regarding the big 4-0, I'm looking forward to it. Feeling happy & content in myself which I'm sure has to do with age....they say 40 is the new 30 or something like that....despite health not being great, I'm loving the freedom of not feeling the need to compete/compare with anyone....’

‘As I sit here on my 40th birthday! My main thought today is WT actual F!!!
I'm not majorly sad or depressed about it but surprised, and actually slightly alarmed! 40 is for grownups and I am not, and refuse to be one of them! I am a natural pessimist (haven’t grown out of that!) so have a tendency to get a bit melancholy and reflective on these occasions, I am very good at looking back at good times and allowing myself to be sad that they are over rather than happy they happened to me. I think being 40 has definitely made me think like this. Life goes so damn quick! So two fingers up to the big 40- you can bog off’

‘Funnily enough I felt like an old git when I was 39 but since I turned 40 the dementia has kicked in and I've forgotten how old I am....’

‘I'm generally feeling ok about it which I think is because I am satisfied with where I am with my life. I am happily married with 2 kids, a nice house, good job, financial security - low mortgage and savings etc. I had none of this when I turned 30! I would imagine I might feel quite differently if I didn't have these things? The downside of 40 is a few grey hairs and less energy...’

‘For me it was something I wanted to celebrate. So much so, I put the word out that I wanted to go Vegas - anybody who was keen to join in the celebrations was welcome to come. There was a small group of 8 of us who made it to Vegas & we had an absolute blast! It was a moment when I reflected on what I had personally achieved in my time. I must admit, I felt slightly proud of the decisions I'd made, the risks I'd taken, the jobs I'd had & the fact that I'd bought a house all on my own! I was single & happy to be single - a concept not everybody understands!!! Many people think that if you're pushing 40 & single, then a part of you must be sad & lonely ..... nothing was further from the truth. I loved where I was at 40 & what I was doing. There was NO WAY I wanted a relationship. Life was too good & I wasn't ready to change any of the dynamics. Interestingly, I accepted that I was never going to have a beautiful tan or bigger boobs & I was perfectly fine with all of that. My figure had changed for the worse, there were signs of cellulite & it was a sudden realisation that things really do go south when you're in your 40's!!!! Something I'd always believed older people told you but secretly believed wasn't going to apply to me!!! How wrong was I??!!! My smaller, close circle of friends became even more important to me, I do believe that as you get older, your true friends become very dear to you & are more important than you ever knew they were. Amongst true friends, everything is celebrated .... the next big one now is 50!!! Vegas anyone?!!!’

‘Personally, I started dreading it from around the age of 38! As the day got closer the feeling of impending doom grew larger and although I knew there was nothing to be done I just wanted to stop time in its tracks and never get any older. Just the very thought of being in my forties seemed wrong as in my mind I still felt like I was in my twenties (the body tells a different story!). It felt like I was on a runaway train heading straight for the barrier at high speed! How could I have reached such an age so quickly! I remember when I was little I never wanted to get old and I of course thought 40 was ancient, I used to think 'I never want to be THAT old'!!! on the actual day I woke up feeling a little depressed and said to myself 'oh God, it's happened, it's today, I'M 40!!!' I did have a lovely day though and I kind of look back and wonder how I managed to become so overly dramatic about it all! Mentally I also seem to have put myself in an old lady category, we have quite a few 20 somethings at work and in my mind they have become 'kids' somehow, it's just weird! ……So basically I'm saying that I found turning 40 traumatic and ever since there just seems to be one more weird aging development after another! There's just no future in getting old!!! On the bright side though I no longer give a shit about what people think of me, like me, hate me I don't care - it's surprisingly liberating!’

‘Although I am currently very optimistic about how turning 40 could be an excuse for a party there is a part of me that wonders if this negative reflection is inevitable? For friends at 40 who have a nice home, partner, reliable job, or even successful career in something they love - what can they feel they don't have, whats missing to feel sad about? Or maybe its not even that? Maybe its reflection on 'what I should have done' even if you are happy with what you've got? - But I think that's the important bit for me, to be grateful for what you've got.'

‘I think that as we approach 30 we are conditioned to reflect on material achievements more - whether you have a house, car, career...and maybe a partner - all the components of being a bonafide grownup? I like to think that 40 is more about working out who is important, and who you've got - i think that maybe this is why some people can be negatively reflective - because they are lonely or fearful of being alone? Also I guess it’s just a significant milestone of realisation of all that has happened, its history!...Its interesting! 40 sounds fun.’

So ladies and gents. Whether you’re apprehensive about it or not, we’re making history and we're lucky to be doing so.
Come on Forty lets be havin’ you, I for one am grabbing you by the balls.

Betty x

Sunday, 26 February 2017

New parents. You're going to need to be Superhero tough.

So. Here’s the thing.  I’m telling you now so it’s not a shock or a surprise.
You’re going to need to be so very bold and brave. In bucket loads. Not just for a little while, or when your baby first arrives, but you will need to be like this as a parent, forever.

People will question your every move and decision and you will need to have faith in yourself as the person that knows your child better than anyone else. People will challenge you about a myriad of different things and family, friends and strangers will often roll their eyes. There will be a constant stream of ‘Well I never did it that way’ or ‘Well maybe you should…’ This is when you need to stand firm, take a deep breath, be true to yourself and say ‘Well, we’re doing it this way.’  
In essence you are going to need to be Superhero tough.

I never realised I was going to have to stand up for what my husband and I wanted for our children quite so often and quite so early in our parenting journey. It can be exhausting having to justify the whys and wherefores and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. Your baby is your love and your ultimate prize possession and you do what you feel is right.

Does it matter if we’re all doing it slightly differently? Does it matter if one picks one nursery and someone else another? Does it matter that one uses reusable nappies and the other disposable? No. It doesn’t. We are all just doing our best for our own small people and we need to cut each other some slack.

I am letting you know now that (even though we’re not supposed to say it) you are about to join one of the most competitive groups out there. Parents.
Everything seems to be a competition or a race. Ignore it. Ignore it all. Wallow in the stages of growth and development your child goes through. The sitting up, the crawling, the toddling, the first smile, the first tooth. It’s all absolutely magical so please don’t be worried or swayed if your bundle isn’t doing the same things at the same time as everyone else in the local NCT group. Chances are your little one is doing things at their own pace.

Parenting is basically a whole lot of paranoid grownups making it up as they go along. The tricky part is that each of them has a completely different child, so obviously, what works for one won’t automatically work for another. Hence the reason you need to go with your gut and do what you feel is right for your baby, you and your family unit.

I never really left my babies to cry very much, in fact with the first I almost pounced on him if he so much as squeaked down the baby monitor. I was a nervous new mum without her own mum around for reassurance, just desperate to be doing it right. The second one I left slightly longer, which most parents will admit is down to nothing other than logistics. You’re usually wrestling a toddler’s nappy on first so they don’t wee on the sofa, before you can run up to sooth baby number two. A problem that doesn’t exist with the first. It felt right to me to pick them up as soon as I could and consequently I had two pretty happy babies that never really cried much at all. That said I was aware that some thought (and maybe still do) that I was an ‘overbearing mother’ a mother that was guilty of ‘mollycoddling’ that would raise two insecure in-confident children. Not true. So, if you can’t please everyone, please yourself and your baby first!

Motherhood certainly toughens you up. It fires up your protective instinct to a point that you shouldn’t care less what others think but it’s still incredibly tough when people are so very judgemental. This is something I think many parents would admit they struggle with on a daily basis.
I am constantly surprised still today (and our boys are four and six years old) that anyone else is so interested or bothered in how we raise them. I guess parents and especially new ones are easily rattled. It’s no wonder, really. We are ALL without exception, exhausted and yet filled with immense love and the urge to do things the right way. What I’ve learned is that generally, the right way is what is right for you, your children and your family. Happy parents, happy baby seems to generally be the way things go.

Friends and family of new parents
So, if you are a friend or family member that knows someone about to become a new parent please, don’t judge them. Support them 100% and give them lots of love. Advise them but respect the fact that their decisions for their family are their own and might very well be different to yours.

New Parents.
You know your child, you know you, you know your family and how it works. Not every family needs the same things, not every family wants the same things.
Be bold. Be brave. Don’t be afraid. Stick to what you want and chances are you’ll have a much happier family unit. Have faith, you are the real live modern day Superheroes.

Betty x

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Grief is love.

Losing someone you love whatever their relationship to you is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to ever go through.

It’s not the easiest of subjects to ever write about but there seems to have been a lot of people around me experiencing this right now and so I thought I’d share with you the loss that I’ve been through, how I dealt with it and how it’s shaped me.

I always think losing someone around Christmas and New Year must be exceptionally hard as usually the beginning of the year is filled with promise of new and positive things but often life just doesn’t unfold like that and we need suddenly to find a way forward in a situation that seems impossible to cope with.

Losing someone whether it be a family member or friend is an incredibly difficult thing to process and can often feel very surreal. The first few weeks can be especially daunting as you can’t imagine surviving until the end of the day let alone the month.

Grieving is a very personal thing and different for everyone it seems. My first real encounter with grief was when I was sixteen years’ old, we lived in a fairly big house and rented out a room to a young girl, she was eighteen years old at the time and went to our local university. Her name was Sue, she was a twin and her sister was at another university only a few miles away. We became very close and I remember thinking she was the coolest thing ever. She introduced me to football (which I loved for many years afterwards and can still be persuaded when in the right mood…) and we used to sit and talk for hours on her bed about nothing in particular. After living with us for nearly a year, Sue died suddenly within twenty four hours of getting ill, of meningitis. She was admitted to hospital during the night whilst I was in bed sleeping, my mum and dad accompanying her whilst neighbours sat with us and her own parents were on their way to her, although I don’t recall much of this.

Looking back now I think as this was the first time I had ever had to confront mortality, I was in utter shock for probably months afterwards. As a teenager, I struggled to comprehend it all and became very withdrawn, low and scared of my own mortality. I couldn’t talk about it or cry about it. It took two years, a house move, lots of tlc from my family and a few brilliant sessions with a grief counsellor much further down the line, to sort me out. I got there in the end and promised myself I would never hold tears in again. If I needed to cry I bloody well would. No matter where I was or who I was with, it was better out than in.  

As much as this time in my life was very difficult, if I hadn’t been through it then I don’t know how I would have survived the death of my mum that was to follow some years later, when I reached the age of thirty.

I was incredibly close to my mum, she was the most wonderful, beautiful and caring woman. We laughed, we shared stories, so many things that I can’t put into words, we were the best of friends. I never thought I would survive without her in my life.

Feeling thankful.

After mum died from her battle with cancer, I did temporarily lose faith in everything. Grief for me was feeling utter heartbreak and trying to make sense of the world again without her in it. As it turns out, it really is only time that can help with this. I made it my mission to cry whenever I needed to, whether that be at home or at work, or in the supermarket I would often disappear to the loo to have a good cry. This alone I think helped me immensely.

I never wanted people to feel sorry for me as I have always felt utterly privileged to have had her as my mum until the age of thirty. I will always be eternally grateful that I reached adulthood with her by my side. She had a huge influence on my life and who I have become today.  There will always be a little piece of me that holds onto the feeling that she let me (and my sisters) go, so we could fly.

Loss has made me a life crammer

Undoubtedly. Losing mum has most certainly made me a life crammer. I want to do everything! 
Well, maybe not jump out of an aeroplane but I just don’t think my life ‘to do list’ will ever get any shorter! I’ve always tended to want to have a go at it all and being highly conscious of the fact we don’t have forever isn’t a bad thing I don’t think. I am keen to put arguments to bed quickly and am generally good at moving forwards if something doesn’t go to plan. I embrace change and am excited by new opportunities and meeting new people.

Still taboo

When you lose someone, after time, whether that be weeks or months or even years, you can feel like you’re suddenly not allowed to grieve anymore. It's like you should be ‘over it’ and that people just don’t want to listen to your woes anymore.

Well here’s the thing , the real people in your life that care about you will only want you to do what you need to do to make yourself feel better. If that’s cry and scream over a cup of tea with a good friend then that’s what you need to do. My mum died nine years ago now and I still have days when I wail like a banshee with friends and family about the fact she’s not here to see her grandchildren or pop around for a chat and a hug.

I seem to gravitate towards women especially that have lost their mothers. I have two or three very close friends that have lost their mothers early on in life. It’s a great thing to be able to have some solidarity in that. Firstly, you don’t feel so hard done by that you’re the only one, secondly you have people that absolutely understand how you feel.

The reason I wrote this post

I guess ultimately my reason for writing this post is that I wanted to reassure for those in doubt, that there will be a break in the clouds. Nine years down the line and even though the loss is still hugely felt, time allows you to manage your feelings in a different way and you are able to be positive and strong again. Be kind to yourself and put in place whatever you are able to get you through the most difficult days. Surround yourself with people that care about you and want the best for you. 

As this very famous lady said

‘Grief is the price we pay for love’- Queen Elizabeth II.

 And none of us wants to go through life not loving.

Betty X 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Thank you 2016

You were a pretty testing year to say the least and had many moments of playing out in ways no-one could have predicted. You unfolded stories across the globe that were unexpected, revolutionary and for many, truly shocking.

Despite all this I still wanted to say thank you, thank you for teaching me more about myself.

This last year feels to have been massive for me. Massive as far as personal development goes and learning more about the person I am now, today. The last two or three years specifically, I’ve felt a pretty big shift in the essence of me and I think that’s for several reasons. Here are a couple.

Our children are getting older

I have begun to peek out the other side of the totally manic, exhausting and all-consuming baby, early years’ madness.

I have always been very career minded and from an early age the signs of my love for all things creative was there. I went to study Theatre with Media at University and drama school and continued after graduating to work as an actress mainly in the theatre. Gradually over the years I moved into television production which was a crazy, wonderful and exhausting career all at once. Most that work in the arts will tell you, if you are in it, it becomes a way of life, not just a job. It seduces you and to be successful you pretty much need to give yourself over to it 24/7 which I happily did as an unattached young woman in her mid-twenties.

I travelled like a maniac all over the country and the world for a good few years, filming all sorts of people in all sorts of weird and wonderful places, until meeting my now husband. Not too long afterwards we had our first son and my full-time job became caring for our brand new tiny human. It’s certainly called one of the hardest jobs in the world for a reason but it was a job I was over the moon to have the privilege of doing. I must say, if a career in television prepared me for anything it was how to be massively flexible and if you need anything as a new parent it is this. A skill I am still eternally grateful for!

Maybe I’m slightly delayed in this as I’ve a husband that works away often but now our boys are a newly four and six-year-old, I can feel that the woman behind ‘mummy’ is finally making a re-appearance and trying to get back in the zone. I’m not entirely sure who that woman is yet (I’ll keep you posted) but I have for the first time in years slightly more brain space to start daring to think about what I need for me as far as work and potential future projects may go. The downside of this is that after waiting for what seems like an age to get to this point, I am now very excited but impatient and want it all now!

I’ve become tougher

I have. This year all my experiences in life seem to have compacted and somehow made me feel tougher. I won’t go into all those experiences now – that’s another blog entirely -however I’m confident I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and pretty much know the limits of what I can and can’t handle.
It’s rather a nice feeling to know that you can survive many things and are equip with enough skills to get out the other side of most situations still fighting.


January - The month of promise

So here we are. We survived you 2016 and we find ourselves in the month where traditionally we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to change, join the gym, dust off the nutribullet and be ‘that person’ that we think we want to be in our head.

I don’t believe in resolutions, it’s too much stress and let’s be honest, none of us need any more of that in our lives.  However, I do think it’s good to have a positive focus for the year. A project you want to complete, a holiday you’d like to take, an old friend you would like to visit or a course you’d like to enrol on. Large or small and whatever my focus is for the year It’s always nice to have got to December and be able to tick it off.

Me Essentials

I march into 2017 having learned what my ‘Me Essentials’ are during this past year.
By ‘Me Essentials’ I mean the things I need to keep me happy and functioning at my best in this busy old life. In no particular order:

·         I am 100% happier, a better person and certainly a zillion times better mother if I have some sort of work or project on the go, even if it’s for only an hour or two a week. I need to feel personally fulfilled, that I am doing something for me and pushing myself forward.

·         Not to try and do too many things at once. By this I mean trying not to cram too much into my day or week. I always end up frustrated with myself as I hate to do things badly and someone or something always suffer when I try. Sometimes less really is more.

·         A bit of a cliché but exercise. It’s obvious but I always feel better and have bags more energy if I’m exercising regularly and with two young boys in the house I need all the energy I can get at the best of times but especially when the other half is away.

·         Family time. Uninterrupted time that features the four of us and no-one else. I’m all for socialising as a family but time as a four is precious and very special to me and our boys.

·         Friends! I love my friends. I’m so very lucky to know such wonderful beings and I need to have lots of contact with them in person (preferably) but failing that lots of interaction via the wonderful technology this century has bestowed upon us.

·         A vague social life. I say vague as those of us with small people know it’s often just not logistically possible to get out socially. I don’t need much but now and again it’s great to go out, drink wine, eat food and laugh -a lot!

What are your ‘Me Essentials? What can you not do without that keeps you a happy rounded person? Do PLEASE get in touch and let me know.

So, thank you 2016. You weren’t wasted on me. In fact, the very opposite.

Betty X

Monday, 2 January 2017

How to be good in 2017 

 (By my eldest son. Age 6)

I thought you would all enjoy this marvellous little list that my eldest son came up with as to how to approach 2017...

Be Nice

Don’t hit

Don’t squirt people with water pistols

Don’t throw toys at people

Don’t tip your food on the floor at the dinner table

Do share with little brothers

Do not whack people with toy light sabres

Do play games with your children

Don’t whinge

Look after your things

So there you have it. Simple, sound advice for the year! Lets hope the world and it’s politicians are listening…

Happy New Year All. I wish you all things wonderful. Be bold, be brave and be kind to yourselves.

Betty X