Do you feel unappreciated?

I’ve come across a few people feeling unappreciated recently, so I thought I’d give some tips on how to deal with it.  As poor old Danny Smith on Radio Verulam is considered one of St Albans’ hidden treasures, I thought I’d go through them on his Drive time show.

Fancy listening to our dulcet tones?  You can listen again here.

Do you feel unappreciated?  Is it at work, at home with the kids or with your friends/partner?

The good news about feeling unappreciated is that it can be dealt with pretty easily ……

 

Tip 1: Have you told anyone?

To do list
To do list

When I worked in IT for 13 years, there was a well known phenomenon, which was that the men were much better at 1to1’s than the women.  Basically the men were much better at listing everything they had done, and blowing their own trumpets.  Whereas the women were more prone to being humble and discussing their development areas.  (Yes, I totally get that this is a generalisation!).

It happens at home too – many wives complain about their husband’s needing a medal for emptying the bin once a week ;o)

Meanwhile, women tend to leave the daily chores off their to do list, and not appreciate how much they are naturally getting done each day.  Hence their husband’s come home and ask ‘what did you do all day’ and it feels to them like they did nothing.

The key and easy way to turn this situation around is to tell people.

A good friend of mine makes a long list of everything that needs doing in the day and leaves it in a prominent position in the house.  By the end of the day, it has loads of ticks on it and her husband is awe inspired by how much she has achieved.  She makes sure that it includes things like ‘feeding the children’.

I’ve found that my children had NO IDEA how much I was trying to fit in to each day.  So rather than shout at them, when I was feeling really unappreciated, I waited until I had calmed down, and then I went through the list of things that I had to do.  I found them much more appreciative of what I did from then on.

Sometimes, people don’t appreciate what we do, because we’ve never explained what would happen if we didn’t.  I’ve heard of Mums who go on strike and stop clearing up or tidying up; that’s certainly one option.  I just explained to my kids that I know that they like to play and often we don’t have long, so I like to be able to find the toys quickly in order to make the most of our time together; hence everything needs to go back to where it came from.

I know lots of writers who feel gutted that their books don’t sell or their blog doesn’t get enough readers.  But often I find it’s because they aren’t willing to ‘pimp out’ their writing; i.e. no one knows about it!

 

Tip 2:  How do you know that you aren’t appreciated?

There is someone lovely that I know, who often feels unappreciated.  The thing is that despite being wonderful, she doesn’t have all the confidence and self-esteem that she deserves; so she needs quite a lot of head patting, and sometimes life gets in the way of telling her how great she is.

It’s quite possible that whilst the thoughts in your head are telling you that ‘No one appreciates me’, that they actually do appreciate you.

Maybe they just haven’t had a chance or the time to let you know or show you yet?

Maybe you haven’t noticed or heard them when they told you how great you were; sometimes we only focus on the criticism, not the appreciation.

Maybe they don’t show you the way that you like the best, so you need to tell them to do it a different way.

The other day I was feeling glum about my blog.  But then I got an email to say I’ve been selected as one of the top 15 Fibromyalgia advice blogs world wide for 2014 and found I was in the Top 100 blogs on Amazon (yep, people pay to read my blog, when it’s free on the internet – it’s weird, but I’m not complaining!).  I basically wasn’t looking in the right place to see where I was appreciated.

So remember to:

  1. Assume you are appreciated.
  2. Look around and see if you are and where you are appreciated.
  3. You could always ask them!

 

Tip 3: Did they want your help?

Everyone is fabIronically sometimes we are right; we are not appreciated.  But not because someone took us for granted, but because they didn’t ask or want us to do what we just did.

Sometimes, we just don’t listen to other people and jump to conclusions about what they would like.

It can happen so easily ..

– The kids don’t appreciate the amazing meal we cook them, because frankly they’d prefer baked beans on toast

– The friend who we spend ages sending advice to or chatting to about their problems doesn’t show any appreciation, because she was quite enjoying the drama and never helped for resolution, she just wanted to moan.

– The partner who didn’t appreciate the expensive present we bought them, because they actually prefer a simple bouquet

– The work mate who didn’t appreciate all your hard work tidying up their area, because what they actually wanted, was for you to tidy up your own.

 

Be really careful when you spend your energy helping people, and first check that you are about to do the right thing.

 

Tip 4: Did it make you feel martyred or grumpy?

Very sadly, you could do something really important and really helpful, but because of your demeanour afterwards you will get no brownie points whatsoever.

I encountered this when I was in IT at one point.  I had the best customer service results, the best budget and always achieved my targets.  But my boss found me a pain in the neck because I needed to be patted on the head; he was the kind of guy who didn’t need any external praise at all, so he thought me high maintenance.  It might have been unfair, but it was the way he was.

Do you know someone who is grumpy all the way through doing their job/chores?  I bet it totally stops you from feeling grateful to them?  Like that stroppy child who tidy’s their room, but kicks and throws things all the way through the whole process.

What about that elderly relative who helps loads of people, but then spends the rest of their time complaining about how much they helped everyone?  They are real energy suckers aren’t they?

We are basically really demanding; we want things done PLUS we want them done nicely!

Don’t do something if you are too tired, or you don’t want to!  Let someone else step in and help out instead; share around the giving!

 

So if you want to feel appreciated make sure that:

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug
  1. Don’t waste time helping people who don’t want help.
  2. Do things that people definitely need.
  3. Assume that people are grateful for your help.
  4. Tell them what you did; but maybe wait a little while and give them the chance to appreciate it first.
  5. Don’t do it if you don’t want to.
  6. Be nice about it and don’t undo your good work by being ungracious.

 

I’d love to know if you try these tips and how they help you?

Or hear your stories of people who you find it really difficult to be grateful to?

 

 

 

 

 

Frustration and anger

Anger – what the hell is it all about?

Frustration and angerI was chatting with Curly headed boy the other day, as he’d been giving us some serious attitude for a few weeks.  He was clearly angry with me, but I couldn’t work out what on earth was the matter.

So I picked one of those evenings – you know the ones when they want to chat lots, and talked him through anger and explained what it is.

The problem with anger, is that most often it comes from us not actually knowing how we are feeling and what has triggered us.  So it often doesn’t achieve what we really need.  By understanding it a bit more, we can make sure that things change.

I thought, maybe the gorgeous Danny Smith would like to chat about it over on Radio Verulam – if you would like to hear us chat about it, then you can listen again for 1 week here (I’m at 5.30-6).

 

So why do we get angry? …

1) Righteous Anger

This is the good anger.  The one you don’t want to suppress.  The one that will protect you and make you stand up for yourself.

This is all about when you know something isn’t right, it’s not fair, or is unjust.

It’s not always the right answer to compromise and keep the peace.  Especially when we are people pleasers!

It’s also a protective anger – this is the one you would see in me if my ‘mother lion’ got triggered.  It’s the the full on, controlled, ‘don’t mess with me’ anger.

 

2) Anger with someone else

Ironically we can often be angry with someone else, but get triggered by someone who isn’t actually anything to do with it.  They do something minor and then get it in the neck because we are so angry with the other person.

Sadly the person that we are angry with are often less intimidating and easier to take our anger out on as well, so we find someone who is less threatening that the real person we are angry with.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to know why we are angry, because it’s not fair to be angry with the kids just because our boss is causing us trouble.  Or even worse in the case of a divorce, it’s not right to be angry with the kids when it’s got nasty between the parents.

 

3) Overwhelmed anger

This is when there is something else that has stressed you so much, that suddenly you flip at the slightest thing.  Stuff that would normally not bother you, that you can deal with, suddenly is too much.  It’s often nothing to do with the person who we are actually with.

This is something us Mum’s are terribly prone to doing – we get tired, overwhelmed and stressed, and then at the end of a long day find ourselves shouting at the kids and threatening them with something really over the top.

Kids are good at this too – if mine get angry, I will first check to see if they are hungry, thirsty, tired or need fresh air.  Then I look to see if they are over stressed for some reason.  The thing is that they are kids – I can’t expect them to manage their emotions, so if they are in one of these states I am much more cautious with my punishments.

Did you know that teenagers literally have all the wires (technical term!) not work in their heads properly?  They can’t recognise expressions as well as a toddler.  Hence they jump to conclusions and get grumpy at the simplest of things.  I used to find Reiki really helps them – it’s amazing how they can express themselves afterwards.  Anything where they get some relaxing downtime will help them come back to themselves.  (Plus food, drink, sunshine and sleep of course!).

The ideal here is to put our hands up and say ‘sorry’ – after all we all make mistakes and everyone gets tired and grumpy.

 

4) Not saying what we think anger

How often have you been angry with someone because they’ve done or not done something?  But did you tell them?  Or did you let it boil inside?

This encourages us to think that other people are to blame for how we are feeling.  But the question is are they?  Or is it purely our inability to deal with them?  I’m not talking about serious and obviously wrong behaviour that would trigger No1 – I’m talking about us all seeing the world slightly differently.

 

The key to this is to say something in a gentle and factual way (check out my post on teaching people how to treat you) BEFORE it becomes a problem.

This is often really difficult, because we ignore the first signs of small irritation or discomfort, and only take notice when it’s bigger.  So if you’ve waited too long, try to step aside, write down the facts and then have a chat with the person on neutral ground.

 

5) Pretending we aren’t angry

This is technically ‘not angry’, but we are angry, we just pretend we aren’t.

This is when people do those passive aggressive posts on Facebook.  Or make sarcastic digs that are meant to be ‘funny’.

It can also make us into bully’s (check out my posts on bullying – I just got picked as one of the top websites worldwide by an Anti Bullying website).

 

6) Serious anger issues

Then there are times when it’s not that simple, when the anger is too frequent and starts to control us.  When it means that we are aggressive, scary, violent, and it starts to affect our relationships.

If you have this sort of anger, then first check with your Doctor, as you might have a physical problem, that is causing it.  If it’s not physical then they should be able to get you help from someone specialised in anger issues.

It can even have physical effects:

  • Nausea
  • Increased thirst
  • Changes in thought patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Addiction

Depression or Post Traumatic Stress disorder can make us angry instead of seeming down (check out my top books for depression).

 

No emotion is ‘bad’.  The question is ‘Do you let it rule you, or do you use it where it will help you?

 

Big Decisions, Crufts and Ruff Guides!

Irony of Making Decisions

It’s one of those funny things isn’t it – make a big decision and then irony of ironies, something challenges it.

A few weeks ago I was so up to my eyeballs that I turned off all notifications on Facebook groups.  Every now and again I check them all at the same time, and it has saved me loads of time.

But I then had to face facts that where I thought I was just going to take a few months off paid blogging work, I needed much longer.  So one day I took the big step of removing myself from the PR lists that I’d signed up to, and making an automatic reply that I could send back on any offers.  Such a shame, as I don’t choose many, and the few I do have been fun.  But the stress of then trying to fit in the review just isn’t worth it, unless I write a pants one on the way home in the car!

But then what happened.  FIVE minutes later!

I got invited to something I’d ALWAYS wanted to go to.

Crufts!

Crufts 2014

It might sound daft to a non-dog lover, but I’ve always wanted to go and I knew that the kids would get really inspired by seeing the shows, agility and obedience.

Plus I was invited by the one organisation that I will still be working for this year as an ambassador – the Forestry Commission.

Paws Outdoors

So the point to the trip was that the Kennel Club and the Forestry Commission signed a new agreement at Crufts.  The Club will encourage/remind it’s owners to be thoughtful when walking their dogs.  The commission is encouraging families to include their doggie friends with them on their walks.  (It’s more complicated than that, but I thought you might like the simple version!).

The Forestry Commission have created a ‘Ruff Guide‘ with tips on the best forests to go to with dogs, special activities being put on for dog owners, and tips on how to take care of our dogs whilst we are out.  I love taking the whole family to Wendover Woods, our local FC forest, so I think it is great to encourage more people to go walking with their dogs.

There is something special about a walk when we all go together – maybe because dogs remind us of the simple enjoyment of being in the woods, smelling the fresh air and running around.

The Problem

BUT.

There we were at Crufts at their wonderful ‘Discover Dogs’ section, surrounded by every make of dog.

And then the kids found the Lowchen pen ….

Kids and Lowchens

Look at the happy smile on Curly Headed Boy’s face, and the tiny little thing that Little Dimples has found quietly sitting in the corner …

Lowchens and children

 

And then they put the little one in my lap …… the poor Northern Hairy One was doomed.

Family dogs

So Dudley the labradoodle (the best, but most moulting dog in the world) has now got a little sister; which he is secretly quite chuffed about.

The two Norwegian Forest Cats, who are twice the size of her, have got their heads around it.

Lowchen and young children

And now the kids have someone to cuddle when they need a bit of chill time or are sick.

 

Lowchens and kids

Just look at those two!

I can’t wait to take her to Wendover with Dudley and let her experience the excitement of the woods.  Her little tail is wagging now when we walk her, although she can be a bit scared.  But soon she is going to become a brave adventurer like the translation of her name suggests; ‘Lion Dog’! (Yes, I know this is a crazy name for the smallest dog known to mankind!).

Many thanks to the Forestry Commission for sending us to Crufts.  I hope that any of you who have been nervous of taking your dogs out with you, will check out the Ruff Guide and take them with you next time!

By the way, if you think that your dog could be a star, there is a competition to put them forward as the face of the new 2014 Walkies campaign with the FC.

 

Ten Tips On How To Take Care Of Yourself!

I’ve been wondering what to talk about with the gorgeous Danny Smith on his drive time show to Radio Verulam for a couple of days.

Should it be my improvement with Fibromyalgia, should it be that the minute the sun comes out we panic about bikini’s or should it be more relationship stuff?

But then I realised it’s all about something simple.

Something so simple that we are rubbish at it.

TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES.

Having Fibromyalgia has been my teacher in how to take care of myself.  So I’m not that bright either – it took a chronic pain condition to sort me out – doh!

So if you were going to start now, what would you need to do to take care of yourself better?

All of these things are possible, whatever your situation, age, or how busy you are.

(Click here to listen again for ONE WEEK only – monday 5.30-6pm).

1) Go outside

Mumwithenergy

It makes everyone feel better.  Walk, power walk, or run.  Whatever it is.  Go.  Out.  Nature has a way of healing us and making us feel better.  Even when it’s cold and wet (it doesn’t bother children after all).

We have a rule in my house – if the sun is out go outside, everything else gets delayed just incase the sun doesn’t last.  So homework, computer games, everything waits.

And if the sun isn’t shining, still go out, but take Vitamin D3!

2) Get moving

Did you know that we are meant to do 10,000 steps per day?  If you are starting on a health kick, this is a great place to start.

From there get your core strong and  to protect your back and improve your flexibility, so do Pilates, Yoga or Tai chi.  Remember, when you are 90, it’s going to be about your ability to balance as you walk, not wether you can run 10km.

There’s no excuse to not do it – stop doing so much of something else instead.

3) Music is food for the soul

Dance, giggle, listen to music.  Let it carry you away for a moment.

Go to zumba or a dance class; it doesn’t matter if you are rubbish.

Music is the best thing for bringing body, mind and soul together.

4) 30 mins rest

I know we are all busy and running around.  But 30 minutes with your feet up, not moving, relaxing once a week or when you are exhausted makes a BIG difference.

I’m NOT talking about vegetating in front of a TV program you will have forgotten in an hour.  Instead listen to music or read a book.  You could even try meditation even if you haven’t before?  Just be quiet for a bit.  Let your senses rest.

I love having a bath once a week on a sunday.  I do it first thing, so it just means I’m down a bit later in the morning, so it’s not a massive imposition on the big hairy northern one.

5) Keep your energy reserves

Healthy Eating For Families

A car won’t work without water, neither will your body.

It needs petrol, so do you.    Eat breakfast, even if it is just a banana.  For lunch and dinner eat a balanced meal with protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates.

Sometimes the batteries need a boost.  If you have a problem, try going to your local health food shop and see what supplements they suggest.

6) Pamper

Everyone needs a little pamper, wether you do it yourself or at a beauty salon.

It’s the act of showing your body that you are willing to spend some time on it once a week that counts.

I’m not talking about being a slave to the mirror.  Just about remembering that we are all beautiful and deserve to be taken care of.

7) Sleep

Actually sleep probably should be first, as without it, everything is much more difficult.  I’m constantly surprised about the people I talk to who are knackered, but who go to bed at midnight every night.

Go to bed the same time each night.  Get up the same time.  If you are tired, go to bed earlier.

Don’t drink caffeine, coke or eat chocolate after 4pm if you find it difficult to sleep.  (click here for my top 15 tips for parents and the rest of my sleep tips)

8) Your time is valuable

Protect your time.  It is valuable.  Learn to say NO more often.

Doing a good days work is healthy, but it’s not about working ‘harder’, it’s about using your intuition and finding ways to work ‘smarter’.

Think about the top 3 most important goals for you personally and for your work.  Now strip out all the time wasted on the stuff that you don’t have to do and that don’t achieve those goals.

9) Laugh

The Dalai Lama says the purpose to life is to be happy.  Watch happy films, listen to happy music.

Surround yourself with loving people who will listen to your woes and then make you laugh.

It’s not about partying hard.  It’s about having fun.  It’s light hearted, and will make you feel better.

10) Eat cake

I have a room at my Spa where women can bring their friends, have a pamper and then eat cake on vintage plates.  I LOVE cake.

Cake is a treat.  It’s a little bit naughty.  But very nice!

I take my daughter out once a week for ‘Willow Wednesday’ and we get a magazine and eat cake in a coffee shop.  It brings us together, snuggled up, reading about ponies and princesses.

 

If you want people to take care of you, you need to show them that you are worth taking care of by taking care of yourself!

It helps your loved ones too, because when you are healthier and happier, so are they.  So do it for them too!

What do you think to my top 10 – what would you have added instead, or not included?

 

 

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

Top 3 Tips For Getting And Keeping Relationship

I was chatting with the gorgeous Danny Smith online about relationships the other day, so we thought we’d talk about it on his drive time radio show on Radio Verulam.

Missed us?  You can listen in here (5.30-6pm).

Now I’ve talked about relationships LOADS at times on this blog.  But I was thinking, what are the Top 3 tips for finding and keeping a relationship?  Here is what I came up with:

 

1) Love Yourself And Be Clear On What You Deserve

Cake

Oh I know it’s cliched.  But you need to know why you are wonderful.  If you don’t, how will you make sure people treat you right?

There are lots of gorgeous cakes in the bakery – but why are you the perfect treat for your next partner?

I’d like you to write down a couple of sheets of A4 with SPECIFIC reasons why you are great.  Look at what you are like physically, socially, your family, your job, your financial situation, what you know about and your spiritual beliefs.  They are all a unique combination that makes you the ONLY you.

Look around you and realise that in the real world, it’s not so easy to find someone to settle down with sometimes.  Especially to find someone just like you.

I sat down with one of my very ‘hot’ (someone else’s words!) and very clever member of my team this afternoon.  She could only come up with a few reasons why she was wonderful.  It took me only a few minutes to write 4 times the number she had written, and I know that there are more.

You need to love yourself so much that you won’t compromise.  Be OK in your own company.  Be OK on your own.

Take care of yourself.  What would you like to improve, or learn, or spend time on?  Not so that you can get a partner, but so that you can feel even better about yourself.

Be clear on what you want or need from a partner.  I’m not talking about ridiculous long lists, I’m talking about the important things like: affection, security, fun, sense of humour, loyalty.  What do you deserve?  What will make you unhappy if you compromise on it?

 

2) Be Yourself

PhoneGame playing is ridiculous, it won’t get you anywhere.  So ignore the rules about how many days after seeing someone you can text etc!

However, being too available doesn’t make you appear valuable either.  So don’t chase people desperately and behave pathetically (your friends will be able to tell you if you are over doing it).  If you are looking for a long term relationship, behave like it; i.e. don’t give up the goods too soon (I know it’s 2014, but things don’t change that much!).  Keep your dignity and remember you are valuable; expect people to treat you as though you are.

Be careful of using persona’s to get someone – you won’t be able to keep up the charade, so there is no point.

Be careful of using persona’s to push people away – you might miss out on someone lovely because you are pretending to be cool!

Basically treat someone just as you would like to be treated; honestly, spontaneously, kindly, thoughtfully and caringly.  Don’t play power games or stalk them!

 

3) Behave As Though You Are Secure

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

We all get our anxious moments, or the moments when we want to panic and push people away.  But if you become more aware of your emotions, you can learn to control them and instead behave in a secure way.

Say how you feel and speak up before you get angry and throw a fit.  This stops you from being a high maintenance drama queen who threatens things in the heat of the moment.

Stand up for yourself and be clear on behaviour that is inappropriate.  If you keep quiet when someone does something you don’t like, it might be a one off.  But what if they take it as a sign that they can mistreat you?  If they are a decent human being they will be mortified that they hurt you.

I’ve recently read a book by Dr Amir Levine called ‘Attached’, which I really recommend.  It describes 3 relationship styles: Anxious (clingy, texts lots), Avoidant (mixed messages, pushes people away when they get close) and Secure (expects the best, and is happy expressing how they feel).  I really recommend anyone about to start a relationship reads it, so that they can recognise the different styles and anyone struggling a little in a relationship reads it for tips on how to deal with different styles!

I wrote some tips on this post on how to express ourselves more clearly, and explain our feelings rather than cause a full blown argument.  I also wrote my top 10 favourite books for when we are overwhelmed or stressed, which might help you to become more secure.

 

So what do you think to my tips?  I ignored the obvious one ‘wear deodorant’!  But I assumed that you guys probably knew that?

 

 

Comparison – helpful motivation or the source of pain?

I was chatting to the lovely Danny Smith from West Herts Drivetime on Radio Verulam today about New years and comparisons ….. (If you fancy listening to us, you can do so here, but only for the next week).

Life Check

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul

This is the time of year when people are looking at their lives and thinking of what they want for the new year.

Personally I hate new years resolutions – they don’t work.  It’s too cold and people are too tired to maintain them.  Spring and September is the time for ‘New Year Resolutions’.

But it’s a grew time for a bit of introspection over a cuppa or a glass of wine – how was last year?  how would you like this year to go?

How have you changed?

What did you do or buy that didn’t work for you?  Why?

What were the best things that you did?  Why did you like them the best?

What could you have done better?  Where would you like to improve your life this year?  What needs a bit of attention or work?

Comparisons

What makes a man sexyHowever, be careful of comparisons and wether they are helpful or hurtful.

It can be great to see someone turn their life around and inspire you into action.

What is less helpful is comparing yourself unreasonably with someone and not taking into account who you are and why you are already special.

The point to life is not to be like someone else.  The point to life is to be about YOU!

Mothers are terrible at this – ‘Why is my son not speaking as well as his friend’ I would hear someone say about their toddler?  Because his friend is a girl and they naturally speak earlier!

Because of my new Spa I’ve come to understand that hairdressers are also very tormented by comparisons.  Understandably I suppose, as their job is all about what something looks like and they know full well that their customers will be checking out how they look every time they come in.  There is a certain degree of expectation of them to be creative and look good.  Plus it is a very competitive industry.

This is great if it pushes them to be the top of their game, always on Youtube checking out the newest trends and keeping their area of the salon perfect and sparkly.

But it’s a shame when they are tormented by comparing themselves to other hairdressers.  We have several different characters of hairdresser.  We need them to be different.  We don’t want them to be the same.

This way I have the perfect hairdresser for the clients who need different approaches – older, younger, trendier, more nervous, more demanding etc.  It’s great to look at the other hairdressers and think ‘I can learn from them’, but not if they think ‘I wish I was like them’.

So don’t compare yourself to someone else and want to be them.  Just get ideas that suit you as a person and look to improve yourself (bearing in mind that we all have to do things that we are not naturally good at sometimes as well).

Everything has a Downside

Also think about why you think that person is so great when you are comparing yourself to them and have a look at the downsides.  You can’t pick one part of their character, skills or life and not have the rest.  So make sure that you appreciate that there is a downside to everything and that no one is perfect.

David Beckham had to worry about his wife and kids being kidnapped.  Katie Price has terrible insecurities and has had too much plastic surgery.  Some people have been motivated by massive traumas in their past.

See things clearly

When comparing yourself to what people have – houses, cars, clothes etc.  Think about why you like those things?  Maybe you can get them, but differently.

Do you really want a big house?  Or is it purely because you want access to somewhere for the kids to play?  Maybe if you look elsewhere you can get a big garden and afford it, or live somewhere with a great park?

Is it because you think that the area will be posher?  Maybe those people won’t be as nice to live next to?  I understand why you would want to avoid an area with a lot of drugs or crime, but don’t discount the areas considered less attractive – properly investigate them.

Often great success has come at a price of a lot of hard work or a great sacrifice – are you really willing to pay it?  If you are; great!  Put the work in and make a plan!  If not – stop wanting to be like them!

Don’t be fooled by a brand. What’s especially painful is seeing young kids spending money on a brand that is aimed at millionaires.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim high.  But by buying those things you will not be able to afford the other things in your life e.g. holidays, social life, exercise, good food etc.

 

What’s your worst habit when it comes to comparing yourself?

Or are you really good at understanding and appreciating that you are fabulous in your own right?

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – Inappropriate relationships No2

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I’ve had a long email from a wife asking for some more help having read my previous post about ‘Inappropriate Relationships’.

My answer is basically ‘Yes’ that woman is a wrong un, but I thought I’d include the whole email with my comments all the way through in red to help guys understand the general nuance when dealing with situations like this:

Email 1

I came across your website when looking for information on cross sex relationships as my partner of 25 years has recently struck up a friendship with a female co-worker, he has known her for couple of years but has only just recently got to know her better and she has also recently confided in him with a lot of her emotional problems. When the friendship first became known to me I wasn’t sure what to think as I did not know this girl he has befriended but he told me that she was confiding in him about her marital troubles and was telling him personal things that she did not share with her own husband.  He also told me that she confided in him at work about her life and problems initially also and that they had the occasional work lunch out of the office, although my partner tells me he does this occasionally with other work colleagues too.

OK so generally it would be crazy to say that our guys can’t have female friends, plus there is some sense about talking to a guy about marital problems for their different perspective.  But there is a limit to it – so it’s about the quantity of the asking for help that starts to fall into problematic waters here.  

Lunch out – hmm I would say that as a one off that’s OK, but frequently it would be odd to go out with only ONE person for lunch regularly if they were of the opposite sex.

The biggest NO NO is that she is confiding in him and NOT her own husband.  Without meaning it your husband is therefore worsening the problems with the husband.  She should have been talking to her OWN husband.

My partner has said that he has best advised her on her marital problems as best he could but has learnt that he can only say so much and now says that they are past those issues and have more of a normal friendship now that doesn’t involve so much talking about her problems.  In the meantime though, they both text message each other regularly and have struck up a friendship separately from me because they go running together after work, where they go for a casual run and chat and then a further chat and drink after before he comes home to me.  A few weeks ago, I did meet this girl and her husband and we all went out for a meal together and since then have also been on another night out but my partner arranges to do ‘runs’ with her and then includes me or me and her husband for the rest of the evening to do something all together.

Running I get, but going for a drink with a woman – again is something I wouldn’t be comfortable with.  If he wants to go for a drink with her, I would wonder wether it would be an idea for you to ‘pop down’ to meet them.  Show her that you are aware that he is of value – just a very gentle ‘female territory marking’ situation.

I like the fact that you have all been out as a foursome though – but that isn’t any kind of ‘protection’ from trouble.

Re the text messages, if it is every day, and first thing in the morning or evening, then it definitely isn’t quite right.

I just wanted to obtain some advice on whether I should be worried or not about this relationship that has formed between this co-worker or not, because initially I felt this woman was vulnerable because of her marital problems and the fact she has confided in my partner.  He was also trying to make her feel better by the way he spoke to her in text messages and I felt it should be her husband talking to her like that and not my partner.  I have told my partner that I feel uneasy by some of the words he was using and he has said he will be more careful about that.  I did read up about emotional cheating also though and did feel and wonder if that was what she was doing by befriending my partner in this way.  To give you some ages, I am 42 years old, my partner is 48 and the married co-worker is 29.

Hmmm that’s a big age gap. 

I have felt like the text messaging has become way too invasive, she and him would text every couple of days and felt like he was always checking his phone for messages.  He would tell me this is how you maintain friendships though and she was just a texty type friend.  I have since asked him to share what the messages contain so I do read them now and although they are just chit chatty messages a lot of the time I don’t fully understand why she has to text him quite so much and often late in to the evenings, in the mornings and have found it annoying when I’m out with my partner for a meal and he is there texting back to her all the time.

OH NO PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN HERE!  I don’t care who is texting him, he doesn’t reply when he is out for a meal with you! 

When I confront him about this, he says it is not harming our relationship though and she is simply a friend.  In my head I have been worried that by letting him have one on one time alone with her though, that this could develop into something more.  I used to see him come back from doing his runs with her and he seemed to be on some sort of emotional high, he would then text her and says what a great time he had enjoyed with her.  I felt hurt when he said this, even though he says she is just a friend.  When I ask him about the risks of having such a close personal female friend, he says that he is in control of his feelings though and knows what he wants (that he would never ‘go there with anybody else because he is happy and secure with me’,) and that although he thinks she is an attractive woman, he would never let anything happen and says he doesn’t get any vibes off her whatsoever that she has any romantic interest in him either.  He is therefore telling me that I should have faith and trust in him and that it wouldn’t be fair of me not to let him have a female friend because of what happens to a lot of other people who do become romantically involved through similar friendships.  I have said to him I would be fine to go out in group situations, but that I don’t like it when they arrange to perhaps have lunch together at her house and I still don’t really like the fact that she asks him to go for these runs with her and he seems to have all these happy fun times with her.

The whole ‘you should trust me thing’ – that’s messing with your head, so suggest he doesn’t say that one again.  Tell him instead that it just means that you are not taking him for granted, and that it is healthy for you to be aware of the fact that he is an attractive man.

Lunch at her HOUSE – no no no!

He is not understanding the female rules of territory – this woman is crossing them big time!  Explain to him that she is dodgy – no woman would think that it was OK to do this.

Am I being unreasonable and paranoid for no good reason.  My partner is a good man and I do trust him, but I still feel uneasy about this for reasons I can’t explain, my partner just thinks I’m being jealous of their friendship!!

That’s fine – a bit of jealousy is wise.  Just own up to it and don’t try to pretend that you are not.

Thanks for any help…

Other info as requested on your site about me:-

I am 42, reasonably fit, gym 2 or 3 times a week, my partner is fit too although losing lots of weight through his gym work and running…

I don’t work but my partner works full time, we don’t have any kids, just our house-bunnies!!

This concerns me a little, as it leaves you very reliant on him.

Have been in relationship for 25 years, sex life has been difficult as I’ve had some issues and got an awful condition called ‘vulvodynia’ a few years ago which has been a battle to get over, I believe I am doing well at the moment but not completely cured yet.

Ahh I can understand you being a little insecure due to this.  I would concentrate on yourself and getting healthier.

We are  ok financially, neither of us excessively drink, we do drink lots of water, sleeping patterns usually fine and both healthy except for the above condition for myself and my partner has medical condition called ‘Colitis’.

He needs to be careful with the weight loss and the Colitis – that’s a tricky illness.

Email 2

Firstly, my partner is still very much friends with this female co-worker, but last week he told me she confided in him again and told him she had been having an affair quite recently.  Apparently, she had been talking about the male in question previously and kind of sub-consciously told my partner that this is what she had done but without saying the actual words.  She went and told him he was absolutely correct in his thinking and that she had in fact had this affair with another man (who is married also and with kids).

SEE!!! Sorry I didn’t reply before your second email – SERIOUSLY – she is a VERY Selfish woman if she has messed around with a married man with kids.  I think that she is a bit of a victim.

I was horrified to hear this and told him what I think about her, ie, that people like this are out to potentially destroy other peoples marriages and although he agrees how awful it is, he seems to be able to put all this negative aspects of her aside and still says he likes her and wants to be her friend.

Fair enough, but hope he now sees that there are reasons for you to not trust HER and that there should be clearer boundaries on where and when they meet.

She actually came round to our house last week also as my partner still does ‘weekly’ running sessions with her (one-on-one time) and in the morning on the day she was coming round, I discovered a note my partner had put in our bathroom cupboard for her.  The note read ‘ How well do I know Thee’….  I felt my blood boiling up and the note annoyed me so much to think he had put this in a cupboard in our bathroom for her to find.  He knew she would be using our shower later after they had done their run.  I rang him up at work to explain the note and he said it was a jokey note to make her laugh as she had previously said how she apparently goes nosing round other peoples cupboards, so, the thought it would be funny.  I felt so mad with my partner, not only for writing what he did but for then also saying he wanted to make her laugh or whatever as it’s like he wants to have this private joke thing going on.

The note is funny, it’s the use of the word ‘Thee’ that is worrying.  I do think that he is overly fond of her.

He is on a work course this week and parks his car at her house and walks to the course with her in the morning, he said yesterday she confided in him again and wanted to talk about her problems.  I have a big problem with this as it just sounds like she is pouring her emotions into him all the time.  A while ago, my partner said that bit was over and they were more just friends again, but this is clearly not the case because of what she has just told him and how she keeps confiding in him.

Hmm she is relying on him a lot – where are her female friends?  Why doesn’t she have any?

On top of all this, she invited him to stay over at her house this Thursday as both her and my partner are attending a Works Christmas Party and they are getting taxi back from the place to hers.  Her husband is apparently there too, but I also hate the idea of them both having fun, drinking etc and then going back in a taxi to her place as I do not trust her and not sure I even like her that much as a person now anyway… She also gets repeatedly drunk and told my partner she was hungover this weekend also after attending a party on Saturday night.

Alcohol is a real problem.  I know of people who managed to be unfaithful in the same house as their partners.  He needs to come home honey. 

I’m not sure I see her situation improving as my partner tells me she is still in contact with this married man she had an affair with (although she thinks he won’t leave his marriage and kids) and she’s not happy with her husband and apparently threatened to leave him at the start of this year.

To be honest, I’m not sure there is much to like about her and I don’t like her hanging around with my partner, but he still declares he likes her and because of their shared running bond still wants to continue their friendship.  He says he is being even more guarded with her because of what happened but I just feel uneasy about it all.

 

OK so to summarise …

Tell him that she is really crossing lines that women know not to cross.  It is very worrying that she doesn’t have girl friends to rely on, and she has shown herself as lacking a value on marriage.

So if he wants to remain friends with her fair enough.  But he needs to make it MUCH clearer that there is no chance of the friendship changing by being clearer in his ACTIONS.  So no meetings for lunch alone or drinks – that is unsuitable.  Reduce the texting and make sure that it isn’t interrupting your conversations.

What could you two do in the evenings that might curtail his time with her?  It sounds like he wants to be needed and looked up to.  How could you fulfil that need in him?  Could you guys do more together?  What exercise could you enjoy together?  

Also, I wonder wether you are sitting at home for him a bit too much?  What do you do for your fulfilment?  I would like you to concentrate on you a bit more – show him how valuable you are, and that he wants to come home to YOU.  Be a bit less available for him honey – he is taking you for granted a bit.

Also stand up for yourself a bit more.  It’s OK for him to say that he feels a bit unhappy about you questioning him.  But he is not allowed to make you question how you feel – that is a no no – he is making you question your sanity and that is NOT allowed.  In fact he owes you a bit of an apology now that she has shown herself to be untrustworthy.

I really hope that this helps?

Please can you update us in a little while to tell us how you are doing?

 

 

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

My Top 10 Tips for Making Sure You Are Safe And Sound In 2014

Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

So for this months chat with Danny Smith at Radio Verulam on his Drivetime show, I thought we’d talk about ways to help you feel more secure in 2014.

(If you fancy listening to us, you can for ONE week only here, I’m at 5.30-6pm).

Christmas is a very stressful time that can make us feel insecure.  Plus, although it seems as though the recession is turning around, I think it might take a bit longer to kick in for some parts of the country than others.

Lots of things make us feel secure: friendships, relationships, health, jobs, money and family.  It’s about finding a balance that counts.

So for those worried about 2014, I thought that I’d give some tips on how to make sure that you are safe and sound:

1) Be nice.

I have a friend who is a ‘Nomad’ – i.e. technically someone who has nowhere to live.  She’s been a nomad for nearly a year, and has always had somewhere to stay.  The main reason being she is genuinely lovely.  People love having her around (check out her blog, it’s fascinating reading).  Being a nice person, must therefore be one of the the best insurances that there is.  Never ignore your friends; you may need them one day!

Always be gracious and think the best of people; it’s amazing what can happen when you are like that as opportunities can come from everywhere (and if you are ungracious you will lose out).

2) Ask for help

But of course, she wouldn’t have got any help if she didn’t ask!  If you let people know that there is a problem, then they will help out, and EVERYONE deserves help in a time of need.

There are also some great charities out there providing support like Homestart or food banks; there should be no shame in asking.  When I spoke to someone from Homestart last week, she said that this year there are families struggling terribly, much more than in recent years.  You are not the only ones.  (A HUGE thank you to all our customers, friends and neighbours btw – we managed to collect a staggering 85 presents for Homestart Watford this Christmas!)

3) Give back in return

In return my friend helps people out – she’s been a godsend for us for the past few months.  It’s quite true that people will get sick of a taker, but if you always make sure that you give in return (but don’t over give), then they will feel fulfilled by helping you.  It might be that you can’t do anything in return for a while, but that’s OK.  Also, it might be that you are limited in what you can do; don’t worry about that, and don’t under-estimate the value of what you CAN do.

4) Listen to your intuition

In a busy world, your intuition can save you time, and warn you of things that you are ignoring that could cause a problem.  Taking time to chill every day for a few minutes, try a simple meditation, go for a walk, or have a bath, can really help you to hear your intuition more.

5) Don’t ignore your debts

They just get worse when ignored.  You need to face them, be clear on your in and out goings and if there is a problem, get some advice and make a plan; check out the money advice service for free help.  Don’t ever think that you ‘have to spend money’ – don’t get into debt because you feel you should keep up with presents or socialising.

6) As soon as possible save

Try putting a little away each week, even if it is just £1.  Even if you are in debt.  Aim to build up to 10% of your income.  This sounds crazy, but it has a magical effect and it’s never too late to start.

7) Have a to do list

That way, things can’t creep up on you that might cause you trouble.  But if you are very overwhelmed, put them on a ‘long term’ list and stick to 3 top priorities.

8) Take responsibility for your life

I don’t mean ‘take the blame’, but I do mean looking at what you’ve been feeling powerless about and taking responsibility for your part in it.  Your attitude will affect your job and your relationships.  Ironically it is very unattractive to be around someone who is full of excuses, always blaming everyone else and feeling victimised by situations that others see differently.  Whereas someone who is strong enough to see their mistakes and their part in a situation is much more attractive in a relationship or workplace.

9) Take care of your health

Don’t ignore those niggles.  Stop putting it all off.  One of my best friends died 2 weeks ago – sometimes the body gets irritated with waiting for us and there are no more last chances.  It doesn’t have to be momentous, just take little steps.  A little more exercise, drinking enough water, improving your posture and breathing, and eating healthier will make a big difference.

10) Make contingency plans, then put them away

I don’t believe in worrying.  But I do believe that insurance and planning ‘just incase’ is worth it.  But once you’ve done it, put it away until you need it.  Face your fears, don’t let them run you.

 

I wish you all a wonderful 2014, because we ALL deserve it this year!

 

 

 

 

Sticks and magic

Things to do with sticksIt’s been tough, at times over the past few months.  I’ve been so busy that I was surprised and really chuffed to be asked to remain as an ambassador for the Forestry Commission (which means I get a membership to Wendover woods).

They sent us a lovely pack with a Stick Man book and a few other goodies, which as the kids already love that book, has gone to my salon for the kids there to enjoy on Mummy Mondays.  Julia Donaldson has teamed up with the FC to produce a range of events and activities to tie in with the character and encourage more families to explore the woods.

Do we need ideas and promotions like that?  Ideally no.  But in reality, yes we do.  Life gets busy, we lose our connections, and things like this help us to reconnect to ourselves, our kids and nature.

Check out this amazing post my Mammasaurus about a stick man hide and seek game that she made with the kids; pure magic!  My kids will love this.  Or this one from RedTedArt’s archives on making stickmen; so easy!

In fact my kids LOVE sticks!  Do you have a collection of sticks at your front and back door too (not allowed in the house)?

Nature is a wonderful support to me.  Going for a ‘family walk’ on sunday is one of my favourite things; even when it gets chaotic as often happens with a dog, 2 kids and the ‘do we take scooters, push chairs or bikes – and which one will create less hassle on the way’ decision

Does it work for you too?

Get out there this weekend and have some fun with sticks!

 

For more information and activity sheets, as well as dates of trails at specific locations please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/stickman.

For a chance to win one of 5 Forestry Commission Stick Man goody bags, simply sign up to receive the Forestry Commission e-newsletter at www.forestry.gov.uk/moreinfo quoting the code STICKMAN.

Stick Man trails are running at the places / dates below, encouraging children to find out more about forests and the importance of wood and trees to their daily lives.:
Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent
23rd November to 30th January
Birches Valley at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
26th October to 5th January
Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
30th November to 31st January
Delamere Forest, Cheshire
2nd November to 26th January
Grizedale forest, Cumbria
30th November to 31 January
Haldon Forest Park, Exeter
30th November to 31 January
High Lodge, Suffolk
4th November to 31st January
Sherwood Pines, Nottingham
7-8th, 14-15th, 21-22th December and 1st-31st January
Wendover woods, Buckinghamshire
18th November to 29th January
Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
1st December to 31st January
Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria
30th November to 31 January
Wyre Forest, Worcestershire
1st November to 31st January

 

*Disclosure I’ve been given a membership to Wendover woods and am an Ambassador for the Forestry Commission, but I’m basically too busy to do a post unless I really care about something, so you can be sure that I’ve not been influenced by that!

Everyone is fab

I Love Awards

Everyone is fab

I love awards – some people are OK knowing that they are fab, but I must admit I like to be told!  I’m much better than I was when I was younger, and I can do some self-patting on the back now; which is healthy I think.  But to get an award is lovely.

We had a tough week at the salon this week; we made some awfully difficult decisions now that we know more about our market and restructured letting 5 people go and bringing 1 person in.  The team has really come together since then and we are really proud of them.  So it was great last night to announce our new monthly awards for the team; we’ve got 1 for rebookings (the bread and butter statistic) and 1 for excellence (for people who really embrace the ethos of the salon).

So I have a bit of a favour to ask of you:  I’ve been nominated for a blogging award by Candis, a great magazine in their parenting category.  I’d love to win because I love getting awards, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  But also it would mean we would win a subscription to their magazine, which would be perfect for the salon.

So please vote for me before the 15th of December [Here] in their parenting category!

And please ask everyone you’ve ever met, in the whole of your life to vote for me (because that wouldn’t be annoying at all!).

Thank you!
candis blogging awards parenting nominee