Monday, 5 December 2016

Be Selfish. It’s ok.

From a young age, we are often taught that being selfish is a bad and negative thing. ‘Don’t be selfish, share, it’s not all about what you want, think of everyone else’s feelings not just your own’

I spent much of my twenties doing what others wanted and it was second nature for me to put boyfriends, friends and colleagues needs before my own. I had a brilliant time at University but frequently seemed to be at parties I wasn’t especially bothered about and socialised with people I didn’t even particularly like. Rarely did I turn down an invite, even though often I would rather have been heating a tin of Heinz macaroni cheese in our communal kitchen and playing my En Vogue CD on repeat.

Now I sit here as a woman in her late thirties, look back and wonder why? Was it because I had been taught not to be selfish as a little girl and interpreted that as also not to put myself first? Or was it because I just didn’t have the confidence at that age to say no, probably for fear of not being liked and included?

By the time, I had left University and moved in with the current boyfriend, I think my ‘putting others before myself’ mentality, had got a little out of hand, to the point where if there had been an actual list for personal fulfilment and daily needs being met, I wasn’t just second or third on the list but didn’t actually feature on the list at all. I had become a people pleaser.

The brilliant thing about getting older is (hopefully) you are lucky enough and open enough, to learn things. Things about yourself, things about others and things about life. You learn why people do certain things at certain times and react in certain ways.

Being young is figuring all this out. If you didn’t go through things that weren’t pleasant and that made you uncomfortable, how would you work out what you really needed in life to make yourself happy? Youth is a time when we should be learning exactly what we will and won't put up with in later years, what we want to spend our time doing and importantly, who we want to spend our time with.

The problem is often, that we can still be figuring this out way into our thirties and for many people it seems to be even later than that. For a few, it’s a never-ending life long battle.

Many of us seem to go through life as people pleasers and we forget about ourselves entirely. We have less and less time as we get older often due to work and family commitments, so spending it with people whose company we really do genuinely enjoy, becomes more important.

I have now realised that what people don’t tell you, is there is actually good selfish and bad selfish.

Good selfish is not being a people pleaser all of the time. It can be exhausting, draining and incredibly unfulfilling. Going to things you don’t really want to go to and often mixing with people you don’t really like, isn’t good for the soul - It’s certainly not good for mine.

It’s more than ok (in fact it should be marked down as essential) to be selfish!

It doesn’t stop you caring about people or mean you need to be rude or dismissive. Too many people associate having an opinion or saying ‘No’ with negativity but It’s perfectly ok to say ‘No, I don’t fancy that’ Or just ‘No, thank you.’

I was always taught it’s good to be who you are and have an opinion but always be mindful of others feelings. Don’t sacrifice your own needs and wants all of the time, you are as important as everyone else.

What has it taught me?

Be brave. If people are offended that is their issue. Real friends and those that care about you, want you to be happy, it’s as simple as that. I have a few close friends, we don’t speak often, or see each other often but I know they have my back and I have theirs. They would do anything for me if it came to it. If I don’t want to do something, they won’t persecute me for it.

I think I may teach our children that there is good selfish and bad selfish and that thinking of others but never neglecting yourself in life, is maybe the difference between an adult that feels in control of what they really want to do and what they feel they should do.

In life, you constantly find yourself in situations where others have to come first, (if motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that) and this just has to be, but on the days when you can get away with it, please be selfish. Just a little bit. The world won’t end but you might just find a whole new liberated and empowered you.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Mirror mirror on the wall…Who am I now? 

(Article written for

Who am I?

What is my identity now I am a mum?

This was something I had never heard any one talk about, let alone the possibility of it being an actual issue for me. Like a whole menagerie of things that aren’t mentioned about pregnancy and having children, my identity after having my first baby was a problem. Probably only a problem to me, but a problem none the less, and one that I wasn’t expecting to have. In fact, it was a thing I hadn’t even contemplated.

You seem to be defined by your baby from the minute you’re pregnant. All people start talking to you about is pregnancy, the bump and then the baby, which is a massive adjustment in itself.  I, like most first-time pregnant women, had been so caught up in the practicalities of making sure we were ready for our new arrival, we moved house, bought all the stuff, cots, prams, clothes, bottles that I hadn’t stopped to think about me at all.

Suddenly a little while after our beautiful eldest son was born, I realised that the issue of my post baby identity was massive for me. Not only had my body changed but I was worried that maybe the essence of me had changed as well?  I was scared and felt a lot of panic about who I was now. I wasn’t working, I wasn’t going out to the same places, with the same people doing the same things. I was in a different world, one that I knew LITERALLY nothing about. The first nappy I remember changing in my entire life was my son’s. I hadn’t heard of CBeebies or Baby Einstein and I thought breast feeding would be relatively simple for me, it’s what mother nature intended and all that - WRONG!

Work and my personal freedom before children, had defined me. Swanning around doing what I wanted when I wanted, nipping out with friends after work for a bite to eat, getting my hair done, saying immediately yes to the work projects that had me flying around the world and having a brilliant time.

That freedom was literally gone overnight. I don’t know if anything can prepare you for that. To say it has been my biggest learning curve and continued voyage of self-discovery is a huge understatement.

This new bundle of baby seemed to have immediately changed me. I remember feeling weird about what clothes I wore, it seemed to have put a strange skew on my fashion sense and clothes choices. Do mums dress like this? Can mums wear this? Can I wear this? I felt clueless.

It took me a good probably 12 months, maybe longer, to feel like I could still be me and finding out what that new version of me did with her day now. Working out it was still me but a new version I guess, was one of the hardest parts about becoming a mum for me.

What I’ve learned

Ladies I can tell you this. In life, there are times when you have to hide your emotions. Keep quiet and bite your tongue, hide your real thoughts to be professional at work and you have many different sides to who you are. The overwhelming thing I remember after having my first baby is wow, there is no hiding the real me anymore. You are so preoccupied with this small treasure that there is no time or energy to be anything other than who you are, the good and the bad in all its glory. You are 100% you. 

The weird thing is, after all that’s said and done, I am a mother but I am also the same woman as before children just on a different path and I am probably more me now than ever before.
So please don’t give yourself a hard time. I wish someone had said to me its ok to mourn your old life and that this new life with your wonderful addition certainly isn’t going to be the same, but It will be the most amazing love filled journey you’ve been on yet. It will also be the hardest journey, but as the famous saying goes, ‘Nothing worth having comes easy’

Enjoy your babies and your children. It’s a new, exciting, crazy chapter and one to be celebrated. Revel in the new fabulous, woman mummy you.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Kindness starts at home

After a week like we have just had I couldn’t let it go without writing down some words.

I don’t scare easily, but this week I have had moments of genuine worry, not for myself, but for the future of my two amazing little boys. What world are we creating for them? They are laughing and playing happily in the background as I type this, oblivious to the worlds greater issues, which is exactly how it should be for a child and that for now, I am grateful for. However, they also currently have no choice in the world that we are creating for them and yet they are the ones that must live in it, which hardly seems fair at all.

I’ve heard lots of people this week say they feel powerless and ‘What can we actually do anyway that will make a difference?’
I must admit, these last few days I’ve also felt pretty small and insignificant as far as changing the world and its politics goes. I am not religious, but, I do wholeheartedly believe in positivity, love and kindness and that the energy you give out you get back in return. I believe that this without doubt starts at home, not just inside our four walls, but in our immediate community as well. Whether you are a role model for a child or not, if we can be kinder, more compassionate and give buckets of love to our closest people, our family, our friends, our acquaintances in good times and in bad this has to be a good start and where we can absolutely make a difference.

If we can stop for a minute, make the effort to have that chat with the lonely looking person in the Supermarket queue, forgive and forget that silly argument you had with your partner a little more quickly, be the one to wave the white flag even if you have to grit your teeth while doing it. The tiniest kindness can make such a difference. Love and positivity breeds love and positivity. This is something we can all do. This is the something that will make a difference and something I’m planning to get better at.

So, on the night of the most super of Super Moons, love each other a bit more than usual, start tomorrow with kindness as your intention. Make those small changes. Small adds up. If everyone did that I can’t help but think we’d be half way there in creating a much better world for all of us.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Women are Warriors and I love them.

We are all life Warriors, fighting our own battles, maybe big, maybe small, maybe joyous maybe painful, but all important to us as individuals and making an impact on our lives.
Today however, I am dedicating Warrior-hood to all the amazing women I know and the lessons I learn from them. I meet many different women, from different backgrounds, with different daily struggles large and small and I tell you what, women astound and surprise me every single day.  Women have an incredible inner strength, tenacity and resilience and the older I get the more I see this and am in awe of it.

I lost my mum when I was thirty years old, and since then I have looked at women, young and old for various life lessons. I have a new-found respect and appreciation for them, their relationships together and what they teach each other, something I don't think I would have in the same way had she still been alive.

Girlfriends, the really good friends, the ones that turn up on your doorstep with bags of food shopping and wine when the going gets tough, when the kids are sick, your other half is unavailable, you're exhausted and you've lost the will to live - these are the women that get you through life's dark days and out the other side. We are very good at recognising when another may need a chat, a coffee, or someone to offer a hand to make their day just that little bit easier. Women pick each other up, they support each other and give each other encouragement. That in itself, is priceless.

Mothers, you are Warriors at their finest. You battle daily for the good of the precious small people in your life, constantly sacrificing your own needs and wants to give them the best that you can give. Fighting to nourish, protect and educate the babies that have created in you the greatest love you’ve ever known. 

From the old lady that chatted to me in passing at the cafe the other day and told me about the grandson she was so proud of and was helping to fund his next college course, to the women I saw at the station the other evening putting her make-up on in her car whilst waiting to collect her teenage daughter. You all inspire me.
I guess I just wanted to put it down into words and say, alone and together we accomplish incredible things. Women of the world, I get you. You are the greatest life warriors and I am exceptionally proud and privileged to be on your team. Thanks for teaching and inspiring me. You are amazing and I salute you. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Relationships are like gardens

After what I think in Devon has been a pretty lovely Summer, the children are back at school and Autumn is now firmly upon us. The leaves are changing colour, escaping their branches and everything is being cut back for Winter in the garden to encourage new growth. This got me thinking about how maybe we should treat our relationships and the friends in our lives a bit like nature does.
Romantic relationships should be cared for like a garden, they need to be nurtured. Relationships need time and effort so they can continue to blossom and reach their full potential. Plants need to be loved, looked after and given space to do what they do best, grow. Don’t be afraid to give your other half, your special person, space to grow, space to be an individual and reach their full potential. They will thank you for it. This I think, is something so important in a couples' contentment, although often very difficult to put into practice in our busy daily lives! With space to grow, relationship roots will be stronger and the rewards will surely be plentiful. However, this works both ways and in equal measures, so neither of you should be forgotten in your quest to grow and be who you want to be!
Trees are in my book, a bit like friends. We all go through life with different friends joining us on different parts of our journey. Some stay a long time; some stay until the end. Often however, we have friends for short periods in our lives, they seem to appear sometimes for a reason or to get us through something in our life where they are just in the right place at the right time. Others we just accumulate along the way and we arrive at a point where they exhaust us and don’t seem to bring anything nourishing to the friendship any more. Often I think, we can outgrow our friends. People that were once a positive influence and gave us something good, have become a drain on our energy and personal resources. Sometimes friends just appear to have escaped our wave length and not moved forward in their own personal journey. Their lives have taken a different direction to our own and we can feel like we no longer have anything in common. This is ok, it is also ok to step away. It is ok to get rid of some tree branches to give time and energy for the good blossom to flourish. Be with those that make you smile and feel good and don’t feel guilty for losing the ones that don’t. Time is precious! New beginnings are just around the corner...