A Duvet Day

When I sit down to write my blog every day, I just open up my mind and write the first thing that comes to mind. I find if I overthink what I want to say, it doesn’t really flow.

 

Tonight my head is thick with cold… finally succumbing to all the colds and flu and coughs that have surrounded me for the last 3 – 4 weeks.

 

So I took a duvet day.

 

duvet day

 

Having not slept well for a few nights thanks to the tickly cough that seems to raise its evil intensity the minute I put my head to the pillow….

 

A duvet day…

 

It made me think about how many people have taken a duvet day or days this winter or who will for the foreseeable winter months… and how much will that cost the economy? How many children have had days off school? How many parents have had to take time off?

 

The common cold.

No cure.

Prevention is better than cure… or treating of the symptoms…

Prevention – eat healthy, varied, nutritious food, full of vitamins, eat food from natural sources and make meals from scratch; exercise and keep moving, fill your lungs and do your 30 minutes a day… Sleep, rest, have enough R&R… reduce stress… all of those good things to keep to a healthy, balanced, clean life.

 

So why do I have a cold? Why do the boys, James? And so many people I know who abide and live by these prevention rules…

 

A duvet day…

 

It made me think how grateful I am for my health! It is only a common cold and a few days taking care of myself and I will be bouncing back.

 

A duvet day on Thanksgiving day…

 

It made me think of so many things that I am grateful for and give thanks for…

 

My big bed firstly… with my big thick winter, snuggly, feather duvet…. Big cushions…

 

The view from my bed… the beautiful cool winter sunlight on the frosty lawn and fields… how peaceful…

 

Toast and marmalade… butter melting so the toast is perfectly soft and the marmalade a perfect blend of sweet and bitterness…

 

Hannah .. my lovely friend and nanny to the boys…without whom I am not sure I could function today and most days… who loves the boys and the boys love her…

 

Caroline… another lovely friend and neighbour, so kind, thoughtful, generous who left a pot of heart warming chicken stew on my door step…

 

All friends who have sent messages of love, sympathy, kindness and warmth after yesterday’s trip to see Mum… for all the love and friendship in my life…

 

A lovely handwritten letter from my Godmother in the mailbox…

 

A phone call from the big man, still full of cold but yet still working hard to provide for our family…

 

A phone call from the big man, still full of cold but yet still working hard to provide for our family…

 

For a business I can run from my sick bed, on my laptop, phone… a business that I can help others find solutions to their problems… a business that keeps me from the 9-5 (or 7-11, 8-8 on a good day), a business working with friends, a business that focuses on giving back, promoting others more than yourself…

 

For my little boys, so inquisitive… snuggling with me now and asking question after question about the Titanic, our family, our lives today compared to life in the early years of the century…

 

For my little boys, their little arms around my neck and their soft hair against my cheek…

 

Thanksgiving… for a duvet day, on a duvet day.

 

 

Smug…

Tonight my gratitude has a tinge of smugness…

 

Is that a bad thing?

 

To be so grateful that you feel smug? To feel smug is feeling almost offensive satisfaction for your situation, does it not?

 

Well that is how I feel…

 

Grateful and smug…

 

Today, I got to kiss my boys good morning and have breakfast with them both… I got to see Willy make his own toast for the first time…   I love the firsts…

 

Today I got to read with both my boys and hear how well they are progressing at school…

 

Today I got to stand in front of a classroom and inspire children to think for themselves.. understand the world and their impact on it and the impact of the world on them.

 

Today I got to spend time with a wonderful ‘old’ friend and wax lyrical about how lucky we both were! How grateful we were to have this time with our children … to have the time to grab a nice coffee and share our gratitudes, and swop stories…

 

Today I got to exercise… to feel fit and healthy… even though I can feel a tickle and a sniffle coming on … (I am healthy.  I am healthy!  I am full of health!)

 

Today I got to pick up my youngest and have quality time with him, make him feel special with one on one time… and wave to him in the pool and watch him proudly swimming like a frog…

 

Today I got to eat supper with my children, cuddle them on the sofa under blankets and kiss their soft cheeks and hair… and hear the words ‘I love you, Mama’ as I tuck them under their duvets…

 

Today I got to treat two friends to a facial and a makeover .. and if I do say so myself, my work was good! And I am proud of myself…

 

Today I got to do the 2 things I always wanted to do – be a Mummy… not only in just the physical sense of the act of becoming a parent and giving birth, but actively taking an interest in my offspring’s wellbeing, safety, security and providing a loving environment myself…   and secondly to stand in front of a school class and provide an inspiring environment for children to learn.

 

Today I got to do the 2 things I always wanted to do AND see friends, have fun and keep healthy!

 

Today I am full of smug gratitude… Today I am the cat that got the cream! I could even be Bagpuss!

the cat that got the cream

 

 

To resist… or to not resist…That is the question!

It’s definition word time.

 

To resist … or to not resist.  That is the question!

 

To resist is ‘to withstand, strive against or oppose’.

 

I love exercise – all forms of it. I tried Yoga once, but it hurt, it made me feel stupid, I wasn’t good at it, I don’t bend, I can’t reach my toes, I can literally do a side bend for one inch…

 

So I resisted it…   For a long time.

 

Funny how we resist the things we need the most?

Amazing how the universe provides the things we need the most at the time we need it.   One of the parents at Tom’s school has recently opened her own Hot Yoga practice right next door to the school and it had a fabulous article in the York Press yesterday.

It was a sign. It was a sign for me to sign up.

I did.

I still can’t bend…. And I had to use a block, several sometimes…

But I didn’t feel stupid. I felt good.

Why have I resisted this for so long?! I needed the warmth for my stiff muscles. I needed the breathing to release the tension. I needed the headspace to let my thoughts drift away…

It was brilliant and I will be going back.  (http://hotyogayork.co.uk/)

 

I also discussed resisting people either in a work or social capacity with a friend over lunch. People who you feel uncomfortable with in their presence. I commented that it could be that they do, or say, things that aren’t in line with your own values… so they don’t feel like they fit with your life…   And as values change over time, perhaps that’s why some friends are transient.

 

She made the interesting point that we resist some people because on some subconscious level, they reflect something inside us that we don’t like about ourselves or didn’t like about ourselves in the past. So we resist the person or the situation as it makes us uncomfortable as it magnifies what we don’t like about ourselves…

 

Carl Jung says ‘ What you resist, persists’…

 

And I believe that. The more you resist something, the more you want it! A bit like chocolate when on a diet or wine on a detox!

 

The more you push something away, the more you think about it, the more energy you give to it…   and therefore the more focus you give it.

 

So to release the pressure that comes with resisting, you have to let it go. It’s a bit like my stiff muscles in my yogic poses! The more I resisted the pose, the more I found I couldn’t move… and yet when I breathed, relaxed and let it go… the resistance left and I felt at peace…

 

Looking back, I resisted the grief for the loss of my Mum and the sad situation we find her in, I fought it… tried to push on through. The more I pushed the anguish down, the more I fed the pain…

What you resist persists

When I recognised it and met it face on, I was able let the pain out, I felt release. I felt calm.

 

To Resist.

 

Far better to step in, face the resistance and release…

 

 

Leftover risotto…

I am shocked to find myself ravenously gobbling (yes gobbling) up the boys’ leftover creamy, cheesy leftover risotto…

Even more shocked to find that I am ravenously gobbling up the boys’ leftover risotto from the pan… AND with the spoon!

I stop gobbling for a few minutes and change the spoon for a fork.

I continue gobbling.

Somehow having a fork makes it ok…

To eat from a pan…?

Or to eat leftovers?

To eat creamy carbs on a week night when I haven’t exercised?…

I am not sure…

So why I am shocked? I bet many people eat kids leftovers. I bet quite a few eat from a pan… saves washing up right?

It’s not something I would do.

The eating off a spoon – terribly uncouth.

The eating from a pan – even more so!

The eating kids leftovers – in my opinion and experience, a slippery slope of adding in extra unrequired calories a day which can lead to the middle aged middle.

These are behaviours, I wouldn’t usually allow myself to do.

My personal standards today have clearly slipped!

So that begs the question, why is that? What happened today to make me resort to eating leftover boy’s tea off a spoon from the pan?

Looking at the facts of what needed to happen today:

Tom needed to be ready to leave at 7.20am to get to school on time for 8am.

Willy and I both needed to be at the same school for 9.15am.

Willy needed picking up from the school at 2.15pm.

Tom needed picking up from the same school at 4.45pm.

2 drop offs / 2 pick ups and the rest of the day was mine to do what I wanted.

That sounds boringly easy. Simple. And definitely not ‘eating leftovers with a spoon from a pan’- like…

Or at least what I would have thought – pre-kids, suited and booted, off on the corporate ladder warpath, ignorant to life as a mum…

For adding in to the simple recipe of 4 drop off and pick ups – add in the additional factors:

The school is a 40 minute each way commute.

You could argue that I could have made one trip both ways, hung out near the school for a few hours.

However, while Tom gets dressed, makes and eats his breakfast, does his ablutions independently and without any fuss… Willy does not.

Willy likes to take his time, having breakfast in his pyjamas (he hates to get his school clothes with one spot of a meal on them, let alone any spillage of water – Mr OCD in miniature).

Willy likes 3 rounds of toast, made for him with just the right amount of butter.

Any rushing Willy or deferring him from his routine, ends up meaning disaster. He would not be ready for 7.20 am.

The return journey… I could have picked up Willy at 2.15 and hung about around school for Tom.   But Tom was on an away rugby fixture and 4.45pm pick up is likely to mean 5.15pm. And in my professional Mum’s opinion 3 hours is too long to hang around in coffee shops… or go shopping with a 6 year old (chaos or massive expenditure)…. And going home to drop Willy off and back again would be just a waste of time and petrol…

So the simple recipe of today has been logistically tricky… not only in terms of cost effectiveness, timeliness but also the added important factor of keeping 2 small boys fed, watered and most importantly happy – ensuring both of them get the same level of love and attention as each other…. (I am still conscious of Willy’s melt down only a few weeks ago because I spend too much time with Tom…albeit on school runs, but he doesn’t understand that).

Add in to the simple recipe, the ingredients that are required to keep my life plans and my business moving in the direction that I want it.

Add in to the simple recipe, the ingredients that are required to keep my health and sanity in tact.

Add in to the simple recipe, the necessary ingredients that are required to keep the household functioning, the endless list of ‘jobs’ that come with being a home owner, a wife, a friend… HMRC to ring, the garage to ring and pay a bill, anniversary present to buy, etc etc etc…

I had thought that leaving my corporate job would leave me to have a more balanced life for my children, my relationships and me….

When I imagined this balanced life – the image of an old fashioned scale came into my mind… and rather than being heavily tipped over to the corporate, career side with my family, friendships and me left wanting more, swaying precariously high up… the scale would be even, equal, perfectly level, calm, immobile…

I realize now that that is an image that is something unachievable. There is no such thing as perfect. There is no such thing as perfect balance. Trying to achieve that is setting a standard far too high, impossible! And as such just another reason to beat myself up for not achieving something…

This image and realization then triggers another memory… a clip or a talk that I stumbled across once.. A guest on Oprah, once said exactly that. Work / life balance is just another reason, another weapon for women to beat themselves up for not getting it right.

I love what she says afterwards… Embrace the beautiful mess that you are.. that we all are.

So today I embrace being a beautiful mess…. Driving the same route multiple times, catching quick coffees with friends to fill the time between road trips, scribbling business plans on note pads, phone calls from the car… a beautiful mess of a Mum with boys on my knee at tea time, boys on my lap on the sofa… coaxing little ones to bed with promises of treats… patiently watching Willy flap and cry for 10 minutes in a particularly bad night terror as I have my cup of herbal sleep tea… protecting him from sharp corners, walls and tables…

It is therefore rather fitting that my supper was a beautiful mess too… a beautiful mess in the bottom of the pan that tasted so good… off a spoon.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/13/elizabeth-gilbert-life-you-want_n_6148472.html

beautiful mess

Where are the brakes?

Where are the brakes?

10pm and the sudden realisation that the day has gone and I almost missed a day of blogging!

Where did the day go?

Where are the weeks going?

Did someone say it was half term this Friday?! I thought I had another week! Eek!!!

Time is just racing by… I am hurtling along in a roller coaster, flying round and round…. Never really slowing as I go through the start gates… or are they the end gates?

Any one else feel like that?

Tom is nearly 8, Willy already 6… if the time continues to speed up like it is currently, accelerating every year to go past faster… will we soon enter Warp Speed? Will I wake up one morning, the boys taller than Daddy, leaving home to go to Uni, live in London?

Tonight I will hold them closer, snuffle their faces for longer, linger longer to hug them while they sleep…

Soon they will have left the house and the noise and the clutter, the grassy boots flung by the door, the left up toilet seats, clothes in heaps, discarded book bags, laughter and giggles, the occasional thud, little elephant feet running along the landing and long, heart felt cuddles, hot cheeks against mine… will all be but a distant memory… and there will be quiet.

And how I will miss them.

Where are the brakes? Can you slow the hours? The minutes?

I am going to take one… and live in the moment and appreciate the delicious, delightful chaos that is my life.

you-will-never-have-this-day-again

Let there be calm…

It was my intention this morning to write later tonight… after double date night. A little experiment to see what would happen when I had had a few too many drinks! Would I be able to blog?! Type? What would come out?!!!

However, the house is calm. All is quiet. Only the sounds of the dog licking her legs after her walk and swim in the river.

I am calm.

calm

I am worried why I feel calm? Shouldn’t I be feeling something else? It feels strange to feel this calm…. I haven’t worn this feeling for a while.

I slept last night. An amazing sleep. Nearly 11 hours. Mr OCD turned into Mr Wonderful… I didn’t really hear him get up… And as I wake up at nearly 10am, I find a cold cup of tea on my bedside table; he had obviously come up and given it to me without me waking hours ago.

The boys are fed, chilled and happy.

I offer to take the boys to football, but Mr W wants to take them… so I have another hour or so of peace. Time to myself… I run. It’s a misty, quiet day and it feels good to get out and raise my heart rate – something I hadn’t been able to do for a few days.

I return to find that Mr W is washing my car! With the help of little Willy on the power spray, Mr W teaches him how to go round the alloys to make sure each bit is perfectly clean (he is still Mr OCD!)…

The boys practice rugby throws and catches (we will win the World Cup when the Mortimer brothers play for England – Tom has already stated that he wants to be the England captain)… while Mr W (with his OCD hat on) clears out the garage and sweeps the yard and I get immense satisfaction from moving my summer wardrobe to the spare room and bring out my favourite autumnal clothes. There is something exciting about doing this exercise! It feels like I get a whole new set of clothes but yet somehow there is comfort in that I know they fit, know they don’t itch… it’s like greeting old friends.

It is quiet now, peaceful; the dog has stopped licking, there is the gentle hum of the fridge and the tapping of my fingers…

Mr W has taken the boys for a swim…. It is inflatable time at the pool.

The cynic in me is questioning why Mr W today? What does he want? The rugby is over… so it can’t be because he wants to go out for beers with the boys?

But the calmness is just so lovely, Snow White is bundling Dobby off and out of the house. I am too calm for that noisy sort of self chatter.

I’ll just let it be that he is Mr W today for no other reason than just that he is….

(And the tipsy blog will have to happen another day!)

Sunday Medicine

Sundays to me have always been a little bit about tradition… Family. Walks. Sunday Roasts. Peeling potatoes. The Archers in my childhood, more recently Downton…

Today was the perfect medicine and I found my off switch.

There is nothing lovelier that being brought a cup of tea in bed on a Sunday morning, the curtains opened gently so the sunshine streams in. And as I watch Downton this evening, I wonder how lovely it must have been to have had that every day…. I must have been Lady Mary in another life!

There is nothing lovelier than gathering soft cushions and pillows all around you to have a peaceful 30 minutes of reading a good book, with the gentle noise of 3 boys having breakfast together and I leave them to it for this is the only day a week they get to have a ‘man breakfast’ together…

There is nothing lovelier than pulling on your favourite winter jogging pants, slipping on your trusty trainers and letting popping tunes fill your head as you pound the pavements… There is nothing lovelier than jogging in the autumn – watching your breath whisper in the cool as you sigh at the beautiful countryside in the clear autumn sun, reds, oranges, yellows still mixing with the greens….

There is nothing lovelier than coming home to little boys wanting to throw rugby balls, tennis balls and run around the garden with you.

There is nothing lovelier than an impulse decision to go for lunch and a walk… 2 minute hot steamy showers, grabbing coats and scarves and pocket snacks as we fly out the door…

There is nothing lovelier than the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, rolling lawns, random enormous sculptures made to seem insignificant in the giant spaces, but beautiful, impressive against the blue, blue skies of the North today.

IMG_1690

There is nothing lovelier than seeing your boys race and run, twist and turn, scrap and laugh, clamber and roll… sweaty noses, dirty knees, fishing for pocket treats, asking for ice creams.

There is nothing lovelier than family potato peeling, table laying, Grandparent teasing, clean plates, full bellies… there is nothing lovelier than the first roast ham of the season, nothing lovelier than comfort food.

There is nothing lovelier than hearing the boys read, how well they are doing, hearing how Tom helps his brother recognize words….nothing lovelier than 3 in a bed around one good book.

There is nothing lovelier than a full pot of tea, Sunday TV… and while I am a little melancholy the big man had to leave unexpectedly early, there is nothing lovelier than the realization, I am seeing him on Tuesday, just the 2 of us, our favourite London pub, bottle of red… nothing lovelier.

There is nothing lovelier than going to bed on a Sunday and waking up to brand new week…