Video Wed: How Music Reminds Us Of Lovely Places; Wild fitness, Mummy Blogger awards

I was listening to a piece of music yesterday and was instantly sitting on a roof at sunset in Kenya, surrounded by big hairy rugby/hockey players, meditating.  Obviously!  Music is amazing isn’t it, the way it can transport us back in time to places.  It was a really magical holiday.

We have no idea how we ended up on this holiday, but it was called ‘Wild Fitness’, and we were in the first group to ever go on it.  It was part exercise, part relaxation and part learning about taking care of ourselves.  The most important aspect being this sense of ‘wildness’ to the holiday, and the melding of fitness with our surroundings, rather than being in a gym.  I learnt so much, and suspect that a huge amount of what I talk about here started out with what I learnt on that holiday.  I keep nagging them to do a family version, but until then I’m not likely to be making it back.  However, imagine my surprise when I was at the MADs award, to find out that the lovely Bangs And A Bun who was our MC for the night, had just been on their new weekend trip to the Isle of Wight.  So here is a quick picture of one the the oldest and newest Wildfitness recruits (more pictures on the way of my dress I promise).

And a video for you to chill out to for a moment … (for my Kindle readers, check out Groove Armada on YouTube).

(This is an unsponsored blog post)

Video Wed: What to do and why not to worry if someone unfriends you on facebook

So there’s a new facebook, and all the pallaver that goes with people adjusting to the new stuff.  Please, before you run around madly worrying about privacy and facebook charging for things, check out this fabulous woman’s page called Mari Smith.  She’ll set you right and I can’t possibly add a comment to all the daft facebook panics going on at the moment!  (She gets lots of comments on her page from people sharing her stuff, so switch it from ‘Everyone most recent’ to just show ‘mari smith’ when you look at her page).

Right, rant over, on with the show!  Apparently there is a new feature where we are going to be able to tell that someone has unfriended us.  It’s not so new is it, because I can tell now that an apparent friend who once worked with me unfriended me, as her name looks different to me when she comments on my friends updates?  (If you are seriously considering unfriending someone, just unsubscribe to their updates, don’t be so obvious as to unfriend them unless they are really horrid; you’ve always been able to do this by having lists and only looking at the lists of people that you like lots).

Well I’m going to tell you why you never need to worry about supposedly losing a friend.  It’s because as one person is leaving your life, there is always someone else on the way in.  Always.  No exceptions.  It might not always be obvious because actually although they de-friended you on friday at 1pm, they were actually gradually going off you for ages.  So in the meantime there has been someone else, or maybe a couple of people who have been gradually getting to know you.  Have a think about it, you do have new friends don’t you?  Plus now with facebook, twitter and all sorts of online communities, it’s really easy to make new connections.  So there will be a new person.

Also, there is a downside to everyone.  Why are you glad that they have unfriended you?  Did you worry everytime they said they had achieved something that you weren’t as good as them?  Were they reminding you of a life that you no longer have?  Were they talking with lots of other people about how fabulous they were, so you automatically were assuming that you aren’t fabulous?  Were they moaning about life lots?  Did they basically take up time in your life, reading their updates, that you will never get back?

Plus they didn’t unfriend you because you are horrid, they did it because you remind them of themselves which irritates them.  There is also the fact that some people get really twitchy on facebook about seeing other people’s lives going well.  I can already hazard a guess at who is remaining my friend but unsubscribing this instant.  It’s impossible for you to appeal to everyone in life, the most you can achieve is 50%.

So next time someone unfriends you on twitter or facebook or even in ‘real life’, just pop this song on really loud, have a dance, stick two fingers up, and then keep your eyes open for new opportunities of friendship surrounding you.

(For my Kindle blog subscribers check out ‘The Human League Don’t you want me’ on Youtube)

 

Video Wed: Rooting for the independent guys

We all love the stories of the people who managed to succeed against all the odds, with loads of hard work; it’s the under dog effect isn’t it?

At the moment I’m listening to a song whenever I go running called ‘Jimmy’ by a new band called Jon Paul Palombo who I saw performing at the Just So Festival.  He’s got a tour coming up, and is trying against all the odds to get into the charts, all on his own work with no record deal and no X factor deal.

I love the song, and I love how much gumption this band has got.  They did do a clever brainwashing/audience participation thing at the festival, which means that the chorus is forever engrained into my brain.  But most of all there were loads of bands at the festival, but they just didn’t have the performance, and that ‘thing’, which I think comes from hard work, and also a mindset.

After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never know heh?  Especially now a days where you hear more and more about people who got up and decided to do something themselves, due to all the amazing opportunities available with the internet.  There’s YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and all sorts of ways of building your own following, TV channel and independent record label.  The problem of course is that it’s available to loads of people, so the opportunity is there, but the ability to stick your head above the parapet and be found in amongst hundreds of others is the difficulty.

I’ve decided to be one of those people who is going to take the opportunity, put in the work and hope for a little bit of a lucky break so that I get enough interest that I hit the charts.  But it’s not the music charts I’m aiming for, it’s the Amazon charts.  I’m publishing a book to the Kindle at the end of October (and other eReaders soon afterwards), and just like the Jimmy song, it’s got a lot of hard work behind it, loads of gumption, and just needs a little luck to get it into a best sellers list.  So every time I listen to this song, I remind myself that there is always a chance; watch this space and cross your fingers for me (you really do want to watch this space, because I’m planning on the book being free for it’s first week)!

Have a listen and if you like it, hows about liking his ‘Jimmy for No 1′ page?

Update: Yesterday he added this video to YouTube for his new EP

Video Wed: Me Practicing My Losing Gracefully & Humbly Jumping Up And Down Faces

Sally Whittle, the organiser of the MADs Blog Awards, really likes to see me look daft!  I love her blog, and it brightens my day, so here is my present for her!

You see, I’ve been wondering whether I should be practicing my faces for the awards ceremony in SIXTEEN DAYS TIME?  Yes, I am ridiculously excited about the whole thing!

I’m also excited that the lovely TK Maxx are bringing me into London next week to get an outfit, and most importantly to style me and give advice from a fashion blogger.  How fabulous is that!

So here you go, am I managing the ‘of course I’m so pleased for them’ face (whilst actually wanting to hit them on the head with something very heavy), and the ‘really, what little old moi’ face (which will probably actually be me in floods of tears within seconds if I win).

For my lovely Kindle Blog readers, just check out my channel on YouTube and you’ll see it there in the introductions.

Video Wed: New School Year Resolutions: What is or is not your responsibility?

I confess, I have a bad habit of taking responsibility for stuff that isn’t my shit and getting knackered in the process.  I’m about a zillion times better at it than I used to be, but I still have a tendency to be tempted.  I think it comes from being a ‘young carer’ as they now call it, for my Mum.  It’s Ok in small doses, especially when it translates into caring for people or offering opportunities.  But it goes wrong when I take responsibility for other peoples choices and try to interfere or influence them, especially family or friends (I’m much more controlled with my clients, thank goodness otherwise I’d be a rubbish help to them).  It’s partially because it makes me more tired, partially because they then don’t get a chance to prove that they can sort themselves out and partially because it brings out the ‘sensible’ side in me, rather than the ‘fun’ side, who is a lot more sparkly.

So I was thinking today, it’s the new school year, so its a great time for making changes as we are so used to the idea of September being the beginnings of something new.  So I’m choosing to make a concerted effort to become responsible for a whole lot less, thereby getting me a pile more energy, and space to take responsibility for new things (like the success of my book when it is published at the end of October).

Here are some things that I came up with.  Fancy joining me in dumping a pile of responsibilities?  What are you going to dump?  What are you going to focus on?

My Responsibilities

  1. Keeping myself fit and healthy; to be honest I didn’t put this at the number one slot, it was down after the house at the fifth slot, which isn’t bad, but it’s time to change that one, especially as I’ve promised to lose 5lbs in the next 3 weeks.
  2. Loving my kids from top to toe, inside and out, naughty to good side, from here to eternity.  At the end of the day, we all want to be loved just as we are, but I remind myself that this is the most important thing every morning, as life can be distracting.
  3. Providing a safe, nourishing environment for my kids to grow up in: well, atleast feeding them a bit and giving them the odd drink and bath.
  4. Seeing what they love doing and what they are fabulous at, and encouraging them to be who they are.
  5. Keeping the house running; mind you I’m bored of housework now, so it’s time to focus on being able to pay someone to do it.
  6. Using the words in my blog, book and generally day to day, that best reach people/loved ones.  But letting the words go at that point, after all some people just prefer or choose to see things a different way.
  7. In my relationship; hmmmmm, thats interesting, I’m a little stuck on this one.  I don’t want to be ‘nice’ to live with.  I do think that it’s important to keep the sex going.  I think that it’s something to do with being the best person that I can be, and giving him space to be who he is.  But it definitely needs more thought.
  8. Helping Mums enjoy being a Mum; it’s tempting to be a parenting coach, or help everyone, but what I care about most is Mums, and I think that we need a little extra help at the moment in this world of ours.  Plus I think that we are the heart of the family and the heart of society, so we are a really important part of making some big changes in our world; starting small first though with our own families and working up to the rest.  I’ve talked about the London riots a bit, and this is the bit that I think I can help with.
  9. Keeping track of the family finances; I used to leave this to the hubby as he is the finance guy, however it’s me that cares about managing our finances and not him.  So it’s time for me to take over this.  We often get irritated with other people for not doing stuff, when really if it’s our bag and not theirs, maybe we should just get on with it.
  10. The bottom line is whether I take care of myself, feel strong, stand up for myself, take opportunities and enjoy life, is pretty much down to me.
What’s not my responsibility
  1. Healing the world.  I fell prey to the wish to heal the world when I became a Reiki master 12yrs ago; it’s kind of a standard phase to work through.  I’m over that now, first comes the kids, then me, the family, and my work/writing.
  2. Getting every mum in the whole wide world to buy my book and enjoy being a Mum more; maybe just 50%?!!
  3. The hubby;  We used to be very co-dependent (I’m talking 22yrs ago), but I’m much more into the idea of two individuals who enjoy being together, than who are very needy of each other.  I suppose us Mums find that once we have kids the poor old husbands do get left to fend for their own devices a bit as we have limits as to how many ‘children’ we can take care of.  But there must be a lot of potential in that as well?  It’s like the difference between providing healthy snacks in the cupboards, and nagging the hell out of someone to eat them!  If they choose the healthy snacks of their own volition, then they’ll get into a good habit of doing it without us wives to nag them.  So I’m going to make sure the options are there for him, but back off the nagging to take them.
  4. Wether my kids are clever, or fabulous at everything.
  5. Doing all the disciplining; I’m a keen fan of sharing the fun and discipline out between parents
  6. Tidying everything; I think it is fair to share this torment
  7. Ironing; my stuff doesn’t need ironing and the hairy one is much better at it.
  8. Keeping our old springer spaniel alive; I’ve got the pills, and am going to try the magnets.  But the old boy’s legs are pretty rubbish at the back now, and tempting as it is, it’s not my responsibility to hold onto him and keep him alive.
  9. Coaching all my friends; I’ve learnt to just be their friend and listen to them, rather than shift into work mode.
  10. Spending time I don’t have in helping people who don’t give anything in return; their’s a world full of people who used to LOVE my time and don’t get it any more
It’s been a good reminder to myself to write this and think it through.  Right, off for a playdate; I forgot to mention my responsibility as PA to a busy 5yr old!
I’m going to leave you with a classic: Level 42: Take care of yourself

Video Wed: Is it possible for everyone to have purpose, whatever their background?

So last week I talked about how difficult it is to not have purpose, and how everyone needs it from babies to dogs.  The week before I talked about how politics doesn’t understand human behaviour.

This week I wanted to talk about whether we are made by our background or can change it?  Lots of people were talking about the kids or people involved in the London Riots, saying that they have no hope.  But is that true, or is it just a perception?  How difficult is it to change it I wonder?

There are four of us in my family, technically the same background, but really different choices and outcomes.  Why?  God knows.  Is it a slight difference in genes, which order you were born in, your star sign, how old my parents were, different gender, different decade born in (they are 20yrs older than me), slightly different parenting approach?  Or does there come a time, when whatever has happened in the past, we have a choice to say ‘This is me, love it, move on with it and I’ll make of it what I will’, or ‘I’m a victim of what has happened, and I’m powerless to change it’.

This video kind of proves my point as this guy has no arms and no legs, but is tear jerkingly inspirational: (for my kindle readers, please look this one up, you don’t want to miss it ‘Look after yourself after watching this’).  His website is http://attitudeisaltitude.com

So my answer is ‘yes it is possible for everyone to be inspired, have purpose and sort their shit out’.  But will they?  No.  However, we can try our best to make the opportunities available for those who can, and give a slap to those who whine, and a harsher penalty for those who step over the line.

Just So Festival

Video Wed: My First Festival, What a Corker: Just So!

Just So FestivalWow, what a magic thing twitter is!  One day a few months ago I said I wanted to go to a family festival and asked for advice, having never been to any (I know that’s a bit tragic).  Go to Just So they said; so we did!

Verdict: BEST family festival ever, what a brilliant one to start with!  (Please don’t sell it to someone else, because you guys definitely have the magic touch and creative imaginations which add a touch of magic to the festival).

Curly Headed Boy’s Verdict (5 3/4yrs): BEST HOLIDAY EVER, felt like 11 days!

Best way to approach it: With no plan, just mooch around and find the right thing at the right time.  It didn’t work well to have a plan or try to stick to a timetable.  Partially because it would mean trying to get across a large area quickly and partially because many of the events didn’t really stick to time plans.

Accommodation: We glamped in style with a Yurt from Fred.  I can totally recommend this, as arriving at the festival and being able to dump all our stuff and head off to investigate straight away was fab.  Plus, having straight sides has the added advantage of the big hairy northern one of being able to stand up (unlike a bell tent).  Also, he was a thoroughly lovely, with an eccentric, intellectual, ‘hmmm not sure I can be bothered to make money out of this’ sort of guy, who apparently chose to rent his yurts to people more because of their enthusiasm, than to make a living from it.  My pink whistling kettle was fabulous of course.

Take with you: We bought a radio flyer (big one), which was fabulous for carrying stuff to the tent, for carrying 2 tired kids, and for Little Dimples to sleep in (I hate to admit it, but the big northern one was right about this purchase!).  I recommend wellies, fit flops, leggings + short skirt (can cool off it it gets hot), hoody fleece and a pashmina/scarf.  Add in a feather bower, flower garland for your hair, and maybe a pair of wings from the fairy glass stall, and you are ready to festival!

Stars of the show: Ironically, the simplest things were the best stars of the festival.

  • Clay faces: These guys came to our rescue when the fairy queen let us down, you can see us making them in the photo for this blog.  They had officially finished, but spent extra time to make a face with Curly headed boy.  Please have more of their sessions next year!
  • Outlaw bootcamp: This girl had an amazing ability with the kids.  Curly Headed boy knows all about sneaking now!
  • Parkour: My god can this guy jump high.  I love the philosophy of free running, check out the video below to see what they do. (Kindle readers, look up Free Running Concrete Circus on youtube).
  • Physics Busters: Simple, but effective.  Curly Headed Boy went back to their stall several times because he loves ‘experiments’.
  • Jumblies: we ran into the green faced, blue handed jumblies and ended up following them into wonderland.  Bizarre and brilliant, they were a good example of the surprises at this festival.  Plus they managed everything with technical problems.
  • Steven Cole Author of Astrosaurs was another surprise find, and absolutely hysterical.  A high point was when Curly Headed Boy asked him if he would like to get shot by his new bow and arrow.  Obviously, we now own lots of his books.
  • The Tall Trees area: Was my favourite, a hidden magical area with an old painted piano, dib dab & sparkle (do your own face painting), and bed time stories (which stopped 2hrs early, which was a shame).
  • Stalls: unique, interesting and genuinely nice people.

Zilch Marks Goes to: Fairy queen.  There was really no need to queue for her, the kids just wanted to wave at her.  She didn’t look that magical and her assistant didn’t look magical at all (there were much more enthusiastic festival goers).  She also shut early (2hrs) on the saturday.

Music

  • Les Peches – loved these guys and had a truly peaceful, magical moment listening to them with the family.  (You guys need a better youtube page, then I could have put a song up for you: I loved waikiki beach).
  • Jon Paul Palombo – I was a huge fan already because he’d said hello on twitter.  But now I’m totally convinced he will make it to be really famous, because of the way he managed with no power on the saturday, which shows true class.  Obviously, I had to go and see the band again on sunday, just to check out what they sounded like again (nothing to do with the big hairy one thinking I thought they were cute looking).
  • The Lovely Eggs – I didn’t get these guys, but 5yrs olds totally did.  Apparently they were ‘rocking’.  Hmmm, I have yet to be convinced, have a listen below and I think you will see why they appealed to the 5yr olds.  For me they were a hell of a shock after the lovely acoustic stuff I’d been listening to before, especially when she started out by kicking her guitar!
  • 70’s disco – class!
  • 80’s disco – didn’t start on time on the sunday, so we missed it :o(

Check out JonPaul Palombo’s debut single – Jimmy – after the audience participation bit, it is now permanently wedged in my brain.

The Lovely Eggs – tell me if you get them?

What didn’t work: I think the organisers have an amazing imagination, the place looked like a magic wood, with the most incredibly little touches.  But I don’t think they are so good at the practicalities or managing an event of this size.  I’m sure they’ll get it more right next year.

  • Showers would have been good, and more of them!
  • Food: Too expensive, which I didn’t expect after the forum posts suggesting it would be cheap, so I hadn’t brought any.  Plus it wasn’t really as child friendly/simple as I would have liked.  Some pasta, jacket potatoes, and more fruit would have been great.  Plus many didn’t open in time for breakfast and disappeared early on sunday.  A plain old fashioned bacon bap van like you get at outside shopping malls would have been great!  Thank god for Dorset Cereals (free boxes), Bear snacks (first time Curly Headed Boy has liked dried fruit), and the organic food box people (selling apples).
  • More of the simple/popular stuff: There were some great events which could have run all day.  Like the clay faces, and outlaw bootcamp.

Luckily the stuff that needed improving really didn’t bother us, as we were looking for an adventure and a touch of magic, and we certainly got that.  So if you haven’t been to a festival, then I really recommend you try out Just So as your first one.  If you have been to them, but want something really family oriented, then this is definitely for you.  In fact I reckon everyone would love it.  See you there next year!

(This is not a sponsored post)

Video Wed: London Riots and Lack or Gain of Purpose?

After writing my post ‘The problem with politics is it doesn’t understand human behaviour’, I’ve been thinking even more about the Riots, as I’m sure many others of you have done as well.  I was mainly making the point in my post that it is psychologically detrimental to give people benefits for no fair exchange and how important it is to take responsibility for what is ours to do (and not for what is someone else’s).

Since then I’ve been thinking about the arguments posed by people about how hard it is for kids from deprived areas who have ‘no hope’.  There is definitely some truth in this.  Every creature needs a purpose, it is what keeps us going and keeps us alive.  Even young babies enjoy putting the washing in the machine because it gives them a sense of being useful.  We had a rescue dog that came to life when he learnt to ‘work’ (he was on lone to a working kennel and ended up staying there).  I’ve thought back to the times in my life when I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing and where I was going, and I agree it felt awful.  They were black times.

This is in no way the full answer as we now know that a huge pile of the rioters were nothing to do with this group of young kids, they were just people out to take advantage of a situation, with little moral thought, who thoroughly enjoyed the frenzy and excitement.  However, it would be unwise to cut funding on programs that can educate kids on what is available and the opportunities that are there for them.  Plus programs that help them work out what they are good at and gives them directions would be great.

I was sent this youtube video after my previous post, and I think it is great.  (For my kindle readers, it’s called ‘Keep Britain safe, every individual counts’).

Ironically though in the balance to the lack of purpose in these kids, there was a huge creation of purpose in the people who got together to clean up the streets.  How amazing was that?  We need to capitalise on this, in order to bring back the sense of community. I have always had a ‘bigger plan’ for ‘the mummy whisperer’.  It makes me wonder whether I should kick it off now, rather than later when I’m better known?

Then there are the people who just took advantage of the situation.  What to do about them?  Well partially make going against society’s rules much harsher so that people wouldn’t consider it.  Plus make sure that we do something about people who we know have done something ‘wrong’.  Shop the benefit cheats.  Stop turning a blind eye to stuff.  In a way, it is us that let them think they could get away with it.  If they don’t have the same values as us, we can’t force them to be sypathetic, empathetic or thoughtful of those around them.  But we can make the price of breaking other people’s property too high for them to do it!

What worries me most is that I suspect that there is another, smaller, quieter group of people.  I don’t think that they were lacking in purpose.  I think that their whole sense of purpose is to create chaos and anarchy, and that the young people without hope, the criminals, and the middle class people wanting something for nothing, were just pawns for them.  I wonder if I am a bit paranoid?  But after the deaths of those kids shot in Norway and that mad man’s talking about his connections, it makes me think.  This is another reason why we need to not be ‘ignorant’.  We might be ‘educated’, but it’s easy to ‘ignore’ what is going on around us.

Video Wed: Bristol, the simpler things in life and sunshine

Bristol is a weird place, it has an odd magnetic nature.  I remember a social worker telling me that they recommended that families didn’t move elderly relatives out of Bristol because they hardly ever reacted well to it.

A few weeks ago we went back to my home town of Bristol to meet up with some old friends who were over from the states.  As we drove in Curly Headed Boy said ‘Oooh Bristol is lovely, why don’t we live here Mummy?’.  I must admit I felt at ‘home’ immediately.  However much the place has grown up (it now has an aquarium and a science museum), it still felt the same.  It’s such a colourful place.  St Albans is lovely and all, but people do tend to wear the same colours, have the same coloured cars, and look pretty similar.  Bristol is a mass of difference.

I popped out to a chemist and suddenly was faced with something I hardly have in St Albans; someone SMILED at me, before I smiled at them.  Wow!  It’s not that people are unfriendly where I live now, it’s just that they are more reserved.  Plus local Bristollians look like me, there’s a lot of the ‘hobbit’ look as I call it; short, with curly brown hair, and rosey cheeks.

It took me a day to remember something that is most different.  It hit me when we went to a local festival (which was by pure chance, as we didn’t know it was on), and I realised that in St Albans I’m always ‘doing’ things with the kids.  But in Bristol as a child, it was more that you would go somewhere and meander around in a chilled sort of way.  You kind of look at the docks, or the downs, or the ‘stuff’ and meander around with a pile of other people just meandering around.  It was a big reminder of enjoying ‘the simpler things in life’.

Hopefully at the moment I am enjoying the ‘simpler things in life’ on a beach, paddling in the sea with Little Dimples and Curly Headed Boy.  I’m assuming it is really sunny where we are in Cyprus (did I mention my excitement at our first every family summer holiday in a previous post?!), so I thought I’d send you some sun!  So here is the video wednesday with Katrina and the Waves ‘Walking on Sunshine’.  (I’m particularly fond of her because she played a gig for us at Uni, and she has sooooo much energy, she was really fab).