Friendship: Reflections on 2016 and hope for 2017

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reflecting on 2016 and what to plan for 2017.  Did you know that this year is the end of a 9 year cycle and beginning of a new cycle.  The next few days are a good time to reflect on what you don’t want to repeat, and what was amazing and needs to continue into 2017.

Frankly 2016 was relatively shit.  It started ok, but there were huge shocks, stresses, betrayals, let downs and upsets; way beyond anything I could have imagined.  When that ‘last straw’ happened and I behaved very out of character, I was faced with judgment and rejection.

Definitely year of learning HUGE lessons about people and listening to my intuition more.

As someone said to me:

“It’s not your fault if you see the potential in people and they don’t live up to it.”

But to balance it friendship became a big theme for me; I am an extremely lucky woman!

Old school friends have visited, and good mates from over the years have turned up, always at exactly the right time.  A friend returned and now regularly brings bubbles and light heartedness.  New friends appeared, with fellow appreciation for cake 😉

There’s my friend across the pond, who I’ve never actually met, who has been there for me morning and night with little titbits of advice, healing and consistent support.  She even sends me beautiful cards, stunning hand made ear rings to cheer me up and this morning I received a a present of two things I really should have rewarded myself with, but had never thought of.

Then there is the friend who has basically ensured that I was able to get work done by helping with child care.  She even bought cupcakes for my kids, knowing full well there was no way I had the energy to make some for the school cake sale.  I know she is a huge believer in the fact that everything gets balanced out in life, but she must be storing up a huge bank load of help.

Or the lovely mum whose pragmatism and grounded nature meant I could turn up a sobbing mess early on a Saturday morning for a lot of tea and common sense.

So 2016 was the year of lessons, I only just survived, but where I came out with the best friendships ever.

Apparently 2017 is a ‘Number 1’ year – it’s a fresh start and time for change and moving forwards.  Good thing!

The kids are OK; Little Dimples is still determinedly trying to do things her way and is learning to not scream so much.  Curly Headed Boy is loving both dancing and in line hockey and enjoying the challenge of year 6 (he hates being bored).  The Hairy Northerner is currently juggling a couple of jobs and Wildbangarang – it seems jobs are like buses!

My Lyme disease is alright.  Not good – because I should be resting more.  But I’m better than surviving, and I feel I’m taking little chunks out of it on a daily basis.  I’ll do a proper update with my current ‘treatment’ in a few posts to see if there are any ideas that help.

How was your 2016?  What was good and what was bad?  What are your dreams for 2017?  Have a think between now and January 28th – it’s a good time for setting new intentions.

I’ve missed blogging, so I’m planning on doing lots more.  Do you have any preferences for what you’d like?  More light hearted ones?  Maybe some Facebook lives?  Or tips on what not to do in business (I’ve got oodles of them)?

Older Parents – something to remember

Mum & Dad & Me

So there’s been lots of chat about ‘Older parents’ recently.  An Indian couple in their 70’s became parents for the first time.  Tessa Sanderson (60) adopted twins.  Janet Jackson is pregnant at 49.  And a good friend of mine ‘older single mum’ was asked to write an article about it for Newsweek.

Technically I was ‘geriatric’ when I fell pregnant with Curly headed boy at 36 in Peterborough and but perfectly acceptable at 40 with Little Dimples in St Albans; geography does that to you apparently.

My Mother was 43 when she had me, which was very unusual 47yrs ago; I certainly didn’t have any friends with parents that age.  She would have been the same age as the Queen this year (90), and Dad would have been a few years older.  I have 3 brothers who are 20yrs older than me (same parents).

So I can see the arguments from all angles.

Dad died when I was 21 a few days before Christmas, so I never had a ‘grown up’ relationship with him.  Mum died just after my birthday, when I was pregnant with CHB, so I never had the chance to bond with her on being a Mum; I think it might have helped me to understand her more.

Losing your parents is tough.  But we are programmed to lose them at a certain time in our lives and it is a lot tougher to lose them ‘early’.  My parents were in no way perfect, in fact they were a long way off perfect.  But I would have liked them around in any case; it’s lonely without someone.

If you are an older parent, I’d like you to think about a couple of things.  In fact if you are now an ‘elderly’ parent or a hoarder, some of them are relevant to you too!

You see I’ve realised that I’m angry with my parents.  I’ve been sad, teary and stuffing myself with carbs for a few days now.  I don’t think I realised until today what the problem was though.  So I’m having a proper foot stamping strop about it in an effort to get it out!

This is what I wish I could have told them:

  • Stop smoking – it will shorten your life, and that’s not fair
  • Don’t drink lots – not enough to do damage – it shortens your life and that’s not fair
  • Exercise – is not about sport, it’s about still being able to get around when you are 70 and without it your life is cut short and that’s not fair

You get the general stroppy gyst of it?

For myself and the other ‘older parents’ out there:

Stop moaning about ‘lack of time’ – your kids won’t think that was a good excuse when you aren’t around and there is no more time to have with you.  The same counts for ‘lack of money’ – walking and press-ups don’t cost anything.  Then ‘lack of childcare’ – find a way of including them in being healthier.  Or there is the ‘I don’t know how to put myself first’ – that’s fine, don’t do it for you, do it for your kids, it’s not for you!

You can’t stop accidents from happening or illnesses.  But you can have a jolly good attempt at looking after yourself.  As long as you tried your best, that’s all your kids can ask for.  It’s not my ‘fault’ I got Lyme disease; although I suspect having children later didn’t help and I could have taken better care of myself and had a stronger immune system that fought the Lyme buggers off.  However, it is what it is and I will try my best to be as well as I can.

Kids are not a good replacement for proper medical care either.  It’s a difficult balance and I’ve not always got it right with my kids.  I actually feel that some of the potential extra responsibility that comes with an older or less well parent, can be healthy for a child.  They will learn empathy, thinking ahead, compassion, patience, gratefulness and all sorts of ‘character building stuff’.  But my parents could have afforded help, gone to hospital for proper medical care in certain circumstances or asked my brothers for help; instead I was a ‘young carer’ from about 5.  I didn’t have to do lots of cleaning, but I did lots of the care, and at one point all the cooking.  It tipped over the edge from ‘useful life skills’ to ‘too much responsibility’.  For instance, I was left with a very ill mother and had to call an ambulance for her at 5; without it she would have bled out.  I also found my father one night after he had been mugged; without it he would have died.  I spent a whole summer after GCSE’s nursing them; Mum after breaking her pelvis and my Dad after a heart attack.

Then there’s the STUFF.  Please sort your stuff out.  When decluttering, think about your kids and make sure that you’ve only left behind the stuff that will be relevant to them.  If you leave too much they won’t even be able to access it or use it to comfort themselves.

Do you know how hard it is to throw away the crap that belonged to someone who died?  Especially if you were younger when they died; you don’t know who the hell the photo is of, but there’s some weird worry that by throwing away a photo that your parents kept, that it means you didn’t care about them.  Or you are throwing away the chance that you will eventually find someone who can answer all your questions and know who the photo is of.

There are so many questions when you parents die younger; so much you forgot to ask, so much you didn’t know to ask, so much you were too bored to remember at the time.

Select your favourite things and put them together; your photos, diaries, momentoes – the things that will remind your kids of you and give an insight into you.  That’s what they need and want.  Probably about a box full, with some other bits and pieces that go elsewhere.

Decide what to do about furniture, pictures etc.  I was too young for any furniture when my grandparents died and living in too small a cottage when my mum died.  So I only have a couple of pieces.  If you’ve lost your parents, I know their stuff might not suit your house, but consider if it could be adapted or up cycled.

So what do I think about the recent news stories?  If you are too old and your body can no longer produce children, then do what Tessa did and adopt.  Maybe you can’t be as fit as her, but try!  If you happen to fall pregnant older, then that must be what’s meant to happen, but take responsibility to look after yourself.    The 70 yr old Indian parents should be ashamed of themselves, I hope that there is a large extended family.  Janet; hmm I think that family has more trouble than just her age, but at least she’ll be able to afford care.

Being ‘older’ is not bad.  It comes with lots of advantages.  But it’s important to try to counteract the disadvantages as much as you can too.

Thanks for listening, I feel a bit better now.  Still a bit sad, but not as much as before x

My house’s journey in 2013 – from salon to normality

Loads of people do reviews of their life for the previous year, I’m going to do a review of my house’s life last year.

For the first quarter of the year I saw lots of my house because I was still getting to grips with my Fibromyalgia – I basically needed a jolly good rest.  Gradually it brought me the healing I needed and I started to recover.

Then suddenly at the end of May we had a meeting with my friend and hair dresser Tony and a plan I’d had for over 10yrs suddenly burst into life.

Having never designed a thing in my life, I became an upcycling/eBay queen and went on a crash course on Salon and Spa equipment.  I wasn’t just designing a small hairdressers, Oh no!  I was going the full hog and designer a 1700sqft cow shed into a Spa.

The cows moved out and we started with this:

Spa Treatments

Then walls went in and it got a front and back!

Building a salon in radlett

But of course I was ordering stuff like crazy and although some stuff could wait until the Salon/Spa was secure, the majority had to come to our house.

There were extra chairs in the bedroom, and we had to religiously keep the cats out, because look how comfy they all were:

Haircuts for kids Radlett

Holistic Hairdresser Radlett

The landing was full, the kitchen had a LOT of extra stools ….

Hairdresser Radlett

Vintage Beauty Salon Radlett

There was no room for the kids to play in the lounge or playroom:

Mumpreneur hertfordshire

Upcycling projects bloggers

Upcycling hair salon

Plus for a couple of weeks the place was full of hairdressers or beauty therapists for the induction training – love them, but it was a bit cramped!

Literally overnight (we got 24hrs to do the final polish of the salon before our open day) this was created:

Espiritu Hair Beauty Salon

With crazy people like this in it …

Vintage hair and beauty salon Radlett

Check out this video of our opening day to have a look around:

One of the rooms wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, but in November the ‘Fabulous Room’ arrived – the perfect location to combine friends, family and CAKE!

Pamper Parties Hertfordshire

I went slightly stir crazy I must admit during those months!  It took 2 months to get the place back to normal and clean all the dust that was hiding under or behind everything, so I had only just got it sorted before Christmas.

I was working constantly in between nursery/school pickups, and then until midnight most nights.  My Fibromyalgia did get very grumpy with me, but I just about managed to hold it together with some pampering from our lovely team.  I’m beginning to see the woods for the trees now!

We’ve stopped using Cbeebies as a nanny and I’m starting to remember how to play with Barbie again (now that we can find her).  That’s probably what inspired my post last year about the ‘Three Best Gifts To Give Your Loved Ones’, as attention and rest have been limited.  Over the last 2 weeks I’ve done a massive declutter of the house and tackled the playroom and I’m much happier with how everything works – I LOVE space!

I’ve also had to clear out one of the bedrooms rooms for our new Spanish Au Pair who arrived this weekend – woohoo!  The reality of the demands of being a business owner and that I’ve had help from a friend staying on and off, and a husband available hit home at Christmas – there was no way I was going to be able to cope and juggle things.  So that’s going to be a big change for the house as well.

What an amazing year, and the journey has only just begun for Espiritu!

My Big Secret Project Is …….

I’m at last going to tell you what my ‘Big Secret Project’ is!

It might seem a bit random, but I’ll explain myself in my next vlog, as it’s a really interesting story of how things all add up together sometimes.

So drum roll please …….

(Oh yes and as you can see Little Dimples was REALLY helpful with the whole videoing process – not!).

 

 

Dangers of positive thinking

My Progress: Fibromyalgia a couple of months on after diagnosis

Dangers of positive thinking
Good news, Bad news

 

I thought you might like to know how I’m doing with the whole fibromyalgia thing?

Lots of people have asked how I am, but it’s really difficult to say in 1 sentence, and I feel boring if I describe it in full.

I’ve learnt loads more about it and have created a static page which I’ll use to list the things I discover and all my posts about FMS.  Please pass it onto anyone you know with FMS, as it’s a tricky syndrome and it helps for us to connect with each other.

And I’ve definitely made progress, but also taken a few steps back as well.

It kind of depends on the day, I’m pretty much two different people at the moment:

 

 

Good Day Me:

Happy Mum
Happy Days when I can pick up my daughter

I’m up, and once I’ve had a shower I’m pretty perky.

Curly Headed Boy thinks that I look healthier and happier than I did before.

Life is much easier now I’m not trying to work as well as look after two young children, plus sort out my health and I know that I can pick up the paying side of my work again when Little Dimples does to school in 1.5yrs.

I’ve cut down my social media usage, and it’s really not so bad; I realise that there was panic about ‘always being around’, which was daft.

I’m just blogging about once a week, and my stats don’t seem to have gone down (stats are mega important to us bloggers).

I’ve started actually reading books again, which is lovely.

I’m getting time to make sure that the most important things are done (i.e. kids) which has reduced my stress levels loads, and I’m getting a chance to take some time out to think about those long questions like ‘who am I now’ etc.

I’m grateful I was diagnosed so early, so it hasn’t become too entrenched, and I’m sure that with some determination, lots of investigations and some trial and error I’m going to atleast manage it, if not sort it out totally.

My right arm doesn’t hurt any more, so just my left arm, back, neck, shoulders,  jaw, chest pain, left/right leg and both hips to solve; it’s a step in the right direction.  (I reckon this is down to the Amitriptyline).

The Dr increased the drugs, and am hoping that my left arm and chest pains will follow suit really soon, which would mean I can pick up the kids without pain.

My IBS is managed with greater strength Optibac probiotics and a nearly healthy lifestyle (IBS is a symptom of FMS and mine got worse when I became ill).

I’m really glad the surgeon decided that my TMJ (jaw pain on right hand side) wasn’t worth operating on and that a mouth guard wouldn’t work, plus the drugs have reduced the pain and clicking a lot and I can chew most things now.

The Fibro-fog has improved with a bigger better quality dose of Omega 3, 6 and 9 and I’m finding the alarms work well on the electronic calendar.  I have a snazzy small filofax so I can take my To do’s with me everywhere.

I feel stronger with the weekly studio (machine based) pilates classes and better quality vitamins (I wasn’t taking the full recommended dose).

Plus the Pilates guy does something called Osteolates (Mixture between osteopathy, pilates, and acupressure) which is fab for the myofacial pain (basically being in pain in the Fibro trigger points, sets the rest of the muscles off).

I’ve found the meditations using Shamanism (basically meditation to drum music) really helpful to reduce stress and worries and rediscover some of the ‘new age me’ that has taken a bit of a rest.

I think that my sleep is slightly better quality on the Amitriptyline (people with FMS don’t get any level 4 sleep) and I’m less affected by the full moon (I also have loads of ideas for sleep problems here if you suffer too).

The doctor agreed to checking my Vitamin D levels and as I was low (should be 75, was 42), they have given me a 2 month prescription of Vit D3 liquid gell capsules (best type); shame you can’t get a holiday in the Caribean on the NHS!

He also agreed to check my hormone levels as my periods were messing around a bit (very long) and it’s definitely not the perimenopause or PCOS causing the problem, so I don’t have to add anything else to the worry list.

I’ve found out that the FMS is due to the Thalamus gland, so the behavioural kinesiology (Resonance Repatterning) that I’ve been using to tackle the emotional/mental causes has been definitely aiming at the right direction, and I’m less confused by the huge number of symptoms to work through.  (The thalamus gland affects the pain signals in the body, so basically we feel more pain and there is more Substance P in our bodies than a normal person).

I’ve also found out that we produce more lactic acid more quickly than most people, so I’ve added Magnesium to my list of supplements in the morning and bottles of deep freeze to my bathroom cabinet for when it’s really bad; this is how come the amount of exercise we do is limited, as we can also injure ourselves more easily and take longer to heal.

I’m really ‘lucky’ that the Big Hairy Northern Ones contract was terminated early, as just by doing the majority of the school runs, I’ve been able to rest a bit more than I would usually have done which is helping me recover.

Ironically having young kids is helpful because the constant picking up of stuff and putting things back in the right place warms up my muscles and makes the rest of the day easier; the problem with Fibro is that you must move even though it hurts, otherwise it hurts more (you just can’t move too much, it’s a tricky balance).

I’m decluttering my house even more than I used to, as everything needs a place and the ‘system’ needs to work so easily that even the family understand it when I’m at my worst.  So things are looking pretty good around the house.  Give me 6 months and even my photos will be sorted; result!

I reckon I’m lucky that my diet was already pretty healthy, and I wasn’t using many products with chemicals in them due to my rosacea and probably only needs a little revamp and a good detox at some point, otherwise my symptoms would probably be worse (sugar, chemicals and preservatives are not FMS’s friend).

The Dr has referred me for some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help with pain management, and my first assessment was with a woman who has FMS, so she was great and reckoned that by teaching me some ‘pacing’, I’ll be able to avoid flares more easily.

I’m overwhelmed and enthusiastic about all the support and ideas I’ve been getting off so many people.

I’m sure that this journey will help me reinvent myself, and reach out to even more Mums with my books than before.

I’m at last remembering to take care of myself much more than I used to; I know I tell you lot to take care of yourselves, but I might not have done it enough myself, you know the old saying ‘Healer, heal thyself’.

I’ve got a plan and I’m working through it slowly, step by step, to a more balanced lifestyle and I’m trying to treat the Fibromyalgia as a guide, rather than an enemy.

 

 

Bad Day Me:

Exhausted Mums
Yukky

Christmas was awful for Fibro-flares, even though I tried to take it easy, get everything prepared beforehand and the Big Hairy Northern one always cooks Christmas dinner.  One flare was mainly just pain, but the other was a full on depressive yukky downer.

When I have a flare up God it hurts, apparently Fibro pain is worse than Rheumatoid arthritis (how they know I don’t know); it certainly doesn’t even notice ibuprofen.

My head is fuzzy, and I mourn the previously competent woman who could remember things and not rely totally on an electronic calendar with alarms.

I’m exhausted; I just want to hide under my duvet and not get up.

My hips burn and I wan’t to itch them, but then know I will get bruises the size of a dinner plate.

My knees hurt so bad when I’m getting up and down from the floor that I feel like an 80 year old and find it difficult to play with Little Dimples or use the washing machine and tumble dryer.

I’m meant to be eating healthy food, but that is stuff like nuts and whole foods, which hurt my  right jaw like hell to chew.

My eyes are really problematic in the mornings and evenings, which is helped by my new glasses, but worrying as it is probably related.

This and the fact that I’m sometimes a little unsure of my balance and spatial awareness and have to take my drugs early to avoid a hangover, makes night driving and going out socially impossible; I was never a big socialite, but it makes me feel left out.

I’m scared that I’ll get crippled with it and bed ridden like the people I read on the forums; in fact I’ve banned myself from reading them now as they terrify me with stories of stronger and stronger drugs that eventually don’t work.

I’m terrified of getting ill, because that will mean a flare up in the pain, plus the likelihood that the rest of the household will get ill and need taking care of, so I’ll get tired and get more pain.

Curly Headed Boy isn’t taking the added responsibility well, or the fact that I just don’t have the energy to ask FIVE times for something any more.

I’ve realised that although I wouldn’t change the fact that I was a ‘young carer’ it’s not the choice I would have made for my children, and I worry about the affect on them.

I was falling asleep with the children at least 50% of the time, but since doubling the drugs I hardly ever get back down again to see the Big Hairy Northern One; that can’t be good.

One of my friends dumped me the week after my diagnosis because I did something a bit flighty and very fibro.

I feel like a wimp when I keep having to explain that I can’t do something.

Then I feel angry because people haven’t taken the time to understand that I’m limited in what I can do because I ‘look OK’.

Plus sometimes I feel that people expect too much of me because I’m normally so sorted and know all this psychology stuff; I’m not allowed to be grouchy or grumpy or make a mistake.

I miss the freedom of running even though I was rubbish at it, because it was so easy to fit into life and helped me keep my weight in check.

The Pilates is boring, but I know it’s helping, so I keep going.  I’d prefer a dance class, but know it would kill me at the moment; even aqua aerobics crucified me for a week and I can’t go in a pool unless it’s warm enough.  (Hopefully I can add Tai Chi or Yoga soon)

I’ve put on a stone in weight, I’m not yet at an unhealthy weight, but I’m gutted after all that hard work before losing weight and worried whether I’ll be able to keep it in check with all my limitations.

I wish I had a Mum who could sweep down and pop me in a duvet, play with the kids for the day, whilst making a stew and tidying the house (my actual Mum wouldn’t have been able to do this bless her, even if she was still alive).

I’d like to cry most of the day, but have so far only broken down in front of Little Dimples once, who was so kind I was gobsmacked.

I don’t understand why it’s not possible to do a big declutter/tidy of the house AND walk the dog.

I used a pedometer to try and maintain a steady pace each day and find that whereas I used to be able to easily work up to 10,000 steps in a couple of weeks, my body is now crucified by Lactic Acid over 5000 tiny steps after a month of trying.

I’m irritated by people finishing my sentences for me as I desperately search for the words that have disappeared into the recesses of my head; audition and anaesthetic are not difficult words after all.

I don’t tweet, I don’t Facebook, I don’t phone, I just hibernate.

I’m scared of trying things incase it makes things worse, and depressed about a life limited and controlled by an illness.

My second assessment with the CBT people the doctor referred me to was with someone much less qualified, and I could have basically chewed them up and spat them out; God help them if that’s the kind of person they think can help me.  I think that my problem is that physical pain is so tangible, that I’m finding it much harder to deal with that emotional/mental pain.

I have no plan, I just hope that when I wake up tomorrow, this flare will be over and I’ll be back to ‘Good day me’.

 

 

They are quite contradictory people aren’t they?  They aren’t really agreeing with each other on much!

I reckon I’m just about more ‘Good Days’ than ‘Bad Days’, but only just.

Hopefully in my Spring/summer update it will be a different story.

Remember to pass my blog onto anyone you know with Fibromyalgia please (and if they are close to you, maybe read my FMS page and other posts so that you can understand them more too).

 

 

 

 

#DoSomethingYummy: Half Term and Two Year Old Birthdays

Cuteness alert!

This wasn’t just any old half-term.

This was the one where Little Dimples turned two and totally ‘got’ what a birthday was.

So here she is singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to herself!

 

 

Oh and if you didn’t get the last few words, we reckon it was ‘and there you go’!

 

I know that the subject of sick children is really hard to think about, so many of you will want to ignore the fact that this is to do with CLIC.  All I’m asking is that you think about it for a second.  Some families have kids who aren’t well enough to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.  But organisations like CLIC make it easier on the children and the families.  We might not be able to get rid of all disease; that’s not possible.  But charities that support families at these tough times are therefore very worthwhile to give your hard earned money to.

This post is being written as part of the blog prompt for #DoSomethingYummy  from Typecast which is the campaign for CLIC Sargent Charity for children with cancer.  I’ve picked the prompt ‘Of Half-term and getting the kids involved‘.  

 

11:11:11: Telling your children about the war: It’s easier for me because my Dad flew in WW2

Do you ever mention war to your children?

Curly Headed Boy is nearly 6 and often plays computer games with the big hairy Northern Hubby, including World of Warcraft (an adult game). I was shocked to find that he was quite flippant about death one day, so I talked him through the fact that death isn’t just about the loss of a person, it’s also about the loss for their family, parents, wives, children and loved ones. He’s a quick boy and he understood after I’d explained; but the worry is how many people forget to explain? Then I explained about the wars and the millions of people who died and that we still have wars today.  As you know I recently had our lovely dog put down, so he has also seen it close up as well.

That’s why Remembrance is so important. It’s easy for me, my Dad flew in the RAF in the second world war, and lost one of his brothers which my grand mother never recovered from. My grandfather lied about his age/occupation so that he could fight in both world wars.

This is the weird thing that happens when you have unusually old parents, because you are more connected to a history that other people of your age are distanced from.

Dad never talked about the war. But the one time I used to see him relaxed and at ease was with some of his old friends who we met once per year in Zimbabwe (that’s where we trained some of our pilots and many of my Dads friends returned there after the war). It was as though with them he could admit to something and be himself for a short time.  It must change a man to be so close to death, and to have avoided death.  By nature we are definitely an aggressive race, but it also affects us at a deep level when we have experiences like this.  (See my post about psychopaths and what creates them)

I may never be sure about the wars we fight, the reasons behind them or the politics. But one thing I am sure of. It’s important to remember our history and it’s important to remember the human price paid.

This post is in memory of my Dad who died not long after this photo was taken. My thoughts are with all the families of any soldier lost to war.

 

Update:

Since writing this we went on holiday to normandy and took the kids to see the American cemetery.  It was an amazingly touching experience.

 

Blogs

I’m a Blogger Blagger, fancy joining me?

So loads of people have been commenting about whether bloggers in general are blaggers, or whether it’s just the new ones, just mummy bloggers or just a small group or large group of them.

Then there was a particular incident where a ‘Real Mum’ (how self-righteous is that title) decided to have a go at a Mum who had missed a problem her daughter had.  Us bloggers tend to cover our embarrassment and shame with humour, and ‘Real Mum’ didn’t understand the psychology of it, so just decided to lay into the Mum.  Of course what this does is create a scenario where loads of people come to rescue the ‘victim’ and it all escalates.  Included in this conversation was an attack on the ‘new bloggers’, blah blah blah.

It’s a pretty typical Mummy Blogger rant about how some people are better than others etc etc.

Officially a blagger is basically a scrounger.  The feeling is that they ask for too much for free, and they are a pain wasting people’s time.  There is a sense that they are asking for too much and not giving in return and with no discernment.  There is that feeling that they are asking for something that they probably don’t deserve or haven’t earn’t.

So let me set a few things straight.

  1. We are ALL blaggers somewhere in our lives.  If you aren’t blagging on your blog, you are doing it somewhere else, it just might be somewhere more socially acceptable or subtle.
  2. It’s always wise to aim for a fair deal where anything is concerned, and in this case that the PR, company with a product, blogger and reader wins.  It’salways going to catch up with people if they don’t follow this rule, and you don’t have to do anything in order to make sure of it.
  3. It’s crazy in a recession to be self-righteous about earning money or being valued for your time as an entertainer/writer/blogger.  It’s not bad to get something in return as well as the enjoyment of writing.
  4. You don’t get much unless you ask.  Just because you aren’t tweeting, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking.  If you are on any kind of blogging list or using any kind of SEO you are basically putting yourself out there to be found.

So I’m going to confess.  I’M A BLAGGER.

I’m not of the old school, my blog was started in 2009.  So I’m also not of the new school of Mummy blogs.  I have some street cred blogging wise, but there are people who get thousands more hits a month than me.  But I’ve definitely blagged.  There are also times in my life where I didn’t blag.

How can I say that everyone has blagged?  Be open minded for a minute and look back over your life.  Did you ever blag clothes, food, money or stuff from your parents?  Did you ever blag to get a job?  Did you ever blag to keep a job?  Have you ever asked your kids to do something, go somewhere or get ready for bed/dinner/bathtime without really offering something in return?  Have you ever pretended that you were in complete control of the situation with your kids, but weren’t really?  Have you ever asked your husband to buy you something that was probably too expensive, but you ‘really needed those shoes/handbag’.  Did you ever cover up a haircut?  In the case of anonymous bloggers, isn’t there a sense of them pretending to be someone?  In fact don’t all of us do that a bit, as most of us have rules about what we don’t blog about.  Have you ever pestered someone to get something done, at work or at home?  Rather than think that you have never done it, just look for where you did.

Here are some examples from me:

I failed at blagging when it comes to money, rent free living, car etc from my parents, whereas my brothers got all that stuff.  But I did come out of it more independent and financially stable, so it worked for me long term.

I totally blagged my first job, it was a recession, I’d just graduated and I phoned up a company for a consultancy job I didn’t have the experience for.  Someone told me a week ago that they heard me as a 20yr old saying ‘You’ve got to interview me, because otherwise you’ll miss out on a really hard worker’; what a cheek!  I feel that my 13 yrs in IT was a blag.  I might have become a ‘global technical specialist’, but it was actually because I did work hard, and not because I was a techie at heart.

As a blogger I blagged the most amazing competition prize from The Wagon company, and in return I got nearly 600 reads of my post, The Wagon company got more hits, more learning about social media and some great contacts, and one of the 126 people who applied for it got £180 worth of Red Radio Flyer.  I count it as a blag as I hadn’t done a competition before, and suggested it to the company after they approached me to use a picture of my daughter in our wagon.  Plus I was really lucky that I had a relationship with some family festivals who were happy to let me mention it on their walls, so I got lots of mentions.

I don’t do many reviews, normally it’s of stuff I’ve bought already.  Mainly because I do them on a whim and can’t be bothered for a few pounds.  So I’m not just a blagger, but I’m an expensive disorganised blagger.  I can’t really be self-righteous about the fact that I don’t accept many of the offers I get, or that I don’t take free stuff from events, because I’m just a choosey blagger, that’s all.  Plus, if I was more organised, I’m sure that I could review products that I need and it would work out for everyone.  It’s a bit like the fact that there are people who earn a living from competitions, and one of the reasons is that loads of us don’t enter competitions because we don’t think we will win.  They don’t win all of them, but they enter so many that it works out to be viable.

I have just blagged an £89 gorgeous coat for my readers (watch this space, because it’s going to be in a competition in a couple of weeks).  To be honest the lovely ‘Best British Bloggers‘ offered to connect me, after I cheekily tweeted that I loved Joe Brown’s stuff, and had lost weight and couldn’t afford to buy a new coat, so did anyone know how to contact them.  This is still true, however in the rules of wiseness that I mentioned above I’ve now suggested to them that we might all gain more fairly if I do a competition (sob sob, shiver shiver).  So they agreed, and have kindly thrown in a consolation prize of a top for me to review.  It’s totally a blag according to the rules of the game, because I tweeted the company name and was there anyone who could get me a free coat.  No I haven’t done many such tweets, part from a blog post about how much I love IKEA, which didn’t work.  However, it was really cheeky considering the price of the coat, and although it will work with one of the themes of my blog, there are people out there with more hits that might work better for the company.

My blagging is going really well because of the MADs win.  Someone with three times my readership asked me to write a guest post about being a successful blogger, and I agreed.  I decided that if that’s the way people wanted to see it I wasn’t going to argue with them, even though it was really only down to a very beautiful glass ornament.  In reality I blagged the glass ornament by asking my readers to vote for me, several times, and maybe a few more times, and did a silly video.  Because of the blag that got me a MADS win, I’ve won a Netbook, which I’m seriously considering giving away as a competition prize to my readers because of the wiseness rule I mentioned above and because I’m about to ask for something else from my readers.  You see; another blag.

Stop worrying about other people blagging, it’s a waste of energy.  It’s a phase, people will grow out of it.  Things will change.  New ways of blagging/PR requesting/making relationships with companies will come and go.  Yes, it puts us into disrepute, but the media will always find a new way to have a go at Mums or bloggers anyway.  There will aways be blaggers.  We will all blag free stuff somewhere in our lives.  Blagging will continue.  It has it’s uses.  When misused it backfires.

What’s most important is that we are all MUMMY bloggers (i.e. Mums who blog, please don’t get all het up about the fact that you happen to be a Mum and a blogger and that I’m not distinguishing between them).  So we are all MUMS.  What this world needs is stronger MUMS.  It needs MUMS who stand together despite their differences and say that we are a force to be reckoned with.  Mums are where everything starts.  It’s where the family starts and that’s where society grows from.  We are REALLY important.

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have much clout out there in society.  They don’t value us much, we don’t get the pick of the resources from the governments, and the media totally enjoys taking a hit at us.  So what do we do.  Do we give other Mums the benefit of the doubt, imagining that we might do the same if we were standing in their shoes?  No, we slag each other off.  No I don’t imagine that we can stop being judgemental, just maybe that we could stop being judgmental of Mums.

I’m not suggesting we stop disagreeing either.  It’s just that there is disagreeing, and there is trying to make sure the other person knows you are right.  There is discussion and there is bullying.  There is open and interesting exchanging of views and there is ridiculous mud throwing.  There is politeness and there is the use of inflammatory words that will piss people off and upset them.  There will always be mistakes in communication.  The key is to own up when we piss people off and not keep trying to defend out ‘rightness’ in making it look like we were criticising someone.  It’s about being secure in the knowledge that we are all different and that is OK.

My final blag is that I’ve written a book.  Some people think this is amazing to have been able to write a book.  To be honest it feels like another blag to me as it is a Kindle book, and I love to write, infact I’ve got another 10 books sitting in my head.  But I know that my intentions are true, even if it is a blag.  This blag could help a pile of Mums who are overwhelmed to get less stressed and enjoy being a Mum more.  It could bring back the sparkle to their lives.  So it’s a blag worth doing.  Oh and it’s a blag that will be out next week, and following that on other ebook readers, and then paper back.  Oh and it’s a blag that will only cost 99p, so it’s a no brainer as far as far as I reckon it.

So I’m all sorts of things that make people cringe.  I’m a Mummy.  I’m a Mummy Blogger.  I’m a Blagger.  I’m judgemental, but I’m trying my hardest to stand in the shoes of other Mums and give them the benefit of the doubt.  I make mistakes, but try to own up to them and not get defensive.

You are also all of those things, but are you aware of it?  Or are you spending too much time in your neighbours business?  Or are you interested in making a change, using your blaggness for good?

I’ve got a plan for 2012.  It’s a HUGE blag.  It’s to do with getting Mums together, and showing how powerful and important we are.  It’s going to encourage Mums to proudly stand together in their differences (not against Dads, or none Mums, just together).  I need some fellow blaggers …. let me know if you can blag enough to make a big enough difference.  I need blaggers with influence, blaggers with something inspiring to say, and blaggers with connections.  I’d like to connect to other blaggers also interested in the same issue too.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, more combine a pile of wheels into a juggernaut for change.  I’m not going to explain how/why/what yet, it’s a secret for a little longer, but if you are interested let me know and we can start the ideas growing.

 

How to tell your children about your pet dogs death and decide when to do it


This time last week we said good-bye to our adorable, but daft 14 year old springer spaniel ‘Merlin’ (on the right).  It had taken me weeks to get to the point where I rang the vet.  Friends and family had been gently suggesting it was time for a couple of months.  But I couldn’t do it until last monday.

I’d known it would be time in September literally since the beginning of the year.  Partially, because we had two other dogs die this year who no longer lived with us, and partially because I can be a little witchy when so inclined!  My gorgeous shaggy Jim died first (left).  We had rehomed him in Potters Barr (nearby) when Curly Headed Boy started to toddle, because although he wouldn’t have bitten my son, we would have bitten Merlin who was clumsy and his eyesight was poor.  You could tell he was worried about it, let alone us.  We got to see him before he died and he got to meet Little Dimples briefly, so there was some comfort in that.  His new owner had allowed him to live on until he literally couldn’t walk at all and there was very little of him left in personality.  Maybe it was a little too long for such a characterful dog, but she was a lovely soft lady and he would have been very difficult to part with.  A couple of months later Danny died (middle), at a ripe old age of 18 in a working kennels surrounded by his girlfriends.  It’s a long story how come he ended up there, but we were basically paying for him to work for the last 8yrs of his life (suckers!!).  He never got to meet Little Dimples, but it was a comfort to know he died in his sleep.

Merlin went down hill quickly after Jim’s death, gradually losing the ability to use his back legs, and then beginning to mess in the house because he couldn’t get through the dog flap quickly enough.  But he was still eating and still so loyal that he would still wag his tail.  But when he stopped whining to come upstairs in an evening, I knew he was giving up.  We had that lovely weather at the beginning of half-term and took him out onto the green with the kids, and he got totally pampered.  You can see from the picture how much he adored Little Dimples; letting her take him for a walk, when he could hardly drag his back legs along at all.  But as the half-term week progressed he got quieter, and I knew that it was no longer fair for the Big hairy northern one to be cleaning up the kitchen every morning and that it would be near on impossible when I was on my own in the house with Little Dimples.


I think I felt guilty, because our cat Harry had lived 2.5yrs after being given 2weeks to live, and it was obvious when we had to give up because he was covering the house in blood.  Little Katy died within a couple of months of him, and didn’t make me make the decision for her, bless her.  But with Merlin I was feeling guilty because of the practicality of having an incontinent dog and a toddler in the house.  But spending that week with the family helped me to get my priorities straight.

So how did I go about explaining it to Curly Headed Boy and Little Dimples?

Well 2yrs ago when Harry and Katy died I used the Mog cat series and the book ‘Goodbye Mog’ by Judith Kerr.  It happens to fit perfectly with my philosophy on life and death, and it really helped Curly Headed Boy who would have been around 4yrs old.  (If you have favourite books, please do share them below to help out other readers).

This time I was going to have to be explicit and explain that we were putting Merlin to sleep, and not that he was dieing at his own timing.  So I’d been mentioning it for a few weeks, and Curly Headed Boy had been aware for a few months that Merlin was going to die.  Eventually I went into an explanation of the fact that the dog gets a bit of anaesthetic to make sure that the injection doesn’t hurt, and then an injection to help them go to sleep and not wake up.  I’d toyed with the idea of doing it during half-term, but I just didn’t want to taint our memories with his death, so I decided to go for the next monday when my son was back at school.

Ironically, Curly Headed Boy was sick on the day, and when the vet arrived he made the last minute decision to stay in the room.  This was a BIG gamble, because as the muscles relax in a dog being put to sleep, they can sound like they are breathing hard.  But gorgeous old Merlin was never going to scare my son; so as I Reiki-ed (a type of healing) him, Max played with a toy in a chair, and quickly he went to sleep without a sound.

For this I have a huge debt of gratitude to Merlin as Curly Headed Boy has always been aware of death, with both of my parents having passed on (my Dad died when I was 20 and my Mum when I was pregnant with him).  But he has now seen a very gentle version of death, and it appears to have really set his mind at rest.  He didn’t cry, instead he pragmatically sat with me pointing out (as I cried) all the lovely things about Merlin, how old he was, and how much easier it will be to have just the one dog.  This is of course the great thing about animals as they do introduce children to death so that it doesn’t come as such a shock.

Meanwhile what to do about Little Dimples who is 21 months?  She might be just 21 months (warning, parent proudness to follow), but she pretty much understands everything, and with a mixture of words and baby sign language, can say anything.  She’d been sleeping, but woke just as the vet was putting the blanket over the head of Merlin.  (Oh by the way, I strongly recommend paying the extra for a Vet to come to your house).  So I picked her up and showed her Merlin sleeping, put the blanket back over, and took her to the door to say ‘good bye’.  A few days later she was asking about our other dog, and I asked her if she remembered Merlin.  Yes she said, and signed ‘sleeping’.  So it is even possible to explain about death to a toddler.

So my advice is:

  1. Take your time
  2. Use books that match your philosophy
  3. Get the vet to visit you
  4. Decide whether your child is mature enough and not too sensitive to stay in the room
  5. Don’t shy away from telling them the truth, it’s useful for kids to understand, and we are all mortal however much we like to pretend we aren’t sometimes.
Will we get another dog?  I must admit I’d love to get something smaller, white and fluffy for little dimples, as Dudley our remaining dog is a huge big black scruffy labradoodle.  But the hairy northern one has put his foot down and I think he’s probably right.  By the way labradoodles do moult; MORE THAN ANY DOG I’ve ever had!!  But they are fabulous dogs, and despite being a spaniel lover, I would recommend a labradoodle’s nature for a family dog any time as they are much less hard work once you’ve done the initial training.
As someone once said to me ‘Out of great destruction, comes great creation’, so I’m going to leave a space in our lives to see what turns up.

A Note For The Grumpy Old Man In Radlett: Don’t Tut At Me Mate!

This is a message for the grumpy old man and the younger male driver who yesterday took umbrage at me pulling over to the side of the road with my hazard lights on and making it a little difficult for them to get out of their road because they had to pull out more than usual to see what was coming.

Did you think that because I was a stressed Mum that you could Tut at me, shaking your head and get away with it?  I don’t think so!  I don’t need any rules or laws to stand up for myself mate.  Bet you wouldn’t have done it if it had been the Big Hairy Northern One parked there (partially because he is quite big and grumpy looking, and partially because you would have assumed that a man had a valid reason for parking there).

What is our world coming to when people see hazard lights and don’t think of helping, but instead choose to be irritated?

Clearly my hazard lights were on.

Clearly there was a problem.

When I pointed them out to you, and explained my baby daughter was puking, you said ‘but there’s no ambulance’.

Of course there wasn’t an ambulance you idiot.  That’s because I pulled over, and lifted her forward so that she didn’t choke on her puke.  That’s what I was doing when you were ‘tutting’ at me and shaking your head.

If she hadn’t still been puking, you would have had a big bag of puke thrown at you so that you could appreciate it yourself.

Word of warning: Don’t mess with a Leo Mum, because we are very protective of our children.

Then funnily enough, no, I didn’t drive off leaving her covered in big mounds of puke that she would have thrown over my car, and screamed about.  No, I took off her top, and put it in a plastic bag that I keep just in case (gold star to me for being organised), and I wiped the mounds of puke off her chair, so that they didn’t then also slip elsewhere in the car.  Lastly I wiped her hands, mouth and chest.

Do you know why?  Because I was taught a wonderful rule by my mentor Dr John Demartini called ‘The Law of Lesser Pissers’.  This rule means that if you are going to choose between pissing someone else off and pissing yourself off, then piss them off, as you will spend your life with yourself, and probably never see them again.

I wasn’t stopping the traffic, I’d gone as far as I could to park safely, and not put my baby in danger.  Then my priority was to help her, and then to reduce the SMELL.  (Luckily I also now travel with febreze in the car, following my tips for travelling with kids in a car).  If I had moved out of your way, I would then have had hours of cleaning to do, just to give you a couple of minutes extra because you could pull out more easily.  In my calculation I made the right choice.

By the way, when school starts again, and you are trying to get out of that road into a busy line of traffic, this is one car that won’t be letting you out!

Rant over!

On a more serious subject I was talking on twitter the other day about how sad it is that Mums often feel so powerless and lose their self-belief so much that they often lose their ability to hear their own intuition.  I’m trying to do my small part to help strengthen Mums, especially with my blog and my soon to be published book (working title: Six Weeks To A Sparkling You).  My big plan has always been to get my books well enough known that I then had enough clout to start some kind of group of well known Mums to focus on changing society’s view of the importance of Mums.  But maybe with the London Riots we need to do something sooner to empower families and bring us back to the centre of life in the UK?  Do you know of any groups already running with this sort of plan?  Please put a comment below if you are interested, and I will let you know when I find out more about what’s already out there or make a plan for making something new.