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

 

 

The Secret…

It is no secret that I am a big fan of ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne… and also her book ‘The Magic’ which goes in to more detail about the importance of Gratitude…

I often wish that I had read these books earlier in my life. While there are some of the techniques I know I did subconsciously – for example, the daydreaming of my tall handsome prince, a house full of crazy children, big family Christmases, big house in the countryside…. Bedtime prayers giving thanks for good food and winning another lacrosse game, getting a promotion, a pay rise….

I didn’t do them regularly, nor did I understand the science behind them…..

Visualisation and daydreaming of a life you want in the future should be and for me is an uplifting experience. I have now even done guided meditations to meet my future self…. (the first time in a conference… and the second time on a crowded train to London in fact! Other travellers must have thought that rather strange – seeing someone plugged in to ear phones, eyes shut and crying!).

And at this point I do wonder whether my younger, less mature self would have been able to or even open to doing this? And at some points, I have felt that this was rather a materialistic thing to do… and didn’t always feel right as it seemed to come from a place of scarcity, feeling that I didn’t have enough so dreaming of more…

What I have found is that myself at this stage of life has totally benefitted from introducing these practices.   By meeting my future self, talking to her, I recognise the daily practices that she has done and continues to do to become this calm, serene, abundant, loving, selfless figure. By recognising them in the future, it is therefore easier for me to start implementing those practices in to my daily life today. Hence the early morning pilates, healthy eating, writing, sketching, spending as much time as possible with the boys. By speaking to her, I know the types of people she spends time with and so when I meet people, I know instinctively whether they are part of my future or just my present. By speaking to her, I know my purpose, it is cemented in my core for I know where I am going and because I know that, decision making becomes easy and if others try to influence me from my path, it is less easy for them to deter me, the less I care what they think – it’s not their future, it’s mine.

I recognise now that there is nothing wrong with knowing where you want to go. And I also recognise the importance of gratitude.

There is fantastic quote by Oprah Winfrey ‘ Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough’.

So while my evening prayers used to be sporadic, it is now a daily habit to list all the things in the day that I am grateful for… from my family, to the house we live in, friends, from the running water, to electricity… I go through a list of all the things I couldn’t do with out… It is amazing how long this list is… but as I run through it in my mind, I drift off to sleep. Maybe that is why I sleep like a dead person… I fall asleep in a state of gratitude.

Another practice I have recently started is another from the Secret. You can even buy Secret Gratitude Journals… one side of the page you write down all the things you are grateful for in your life right now and on the other, you write down all the things you are grateful for that you know will happen in the future.

I have only been doing this a week, but given how good my week has been so far, I am confident this practice has contributed to it. After my morning pilates, I am grateful for the day ahead and if I anticipate conflict or drama or difficulty in any part of my day ahead, I give thanks for the fact that it will go well…  or if not well, then the way it is meant to go

The books say that these practices – the visualisations and gratitudes – are all subconscious messages to your brain as well as to the universe to let it conspire to make what you want happen. The Law of Attraction.

And whether you are cynic or a believer, I overcame myself, my old negative, cynical frame of mind by asking myself ‘what was the worst that could happen?’ That I stayed negative and cynical by writing a few gratitudes down and believing in the future that I desired? I had nothing to lose.

And I have gained so much.

The positive attitude of my childhood has returned.

Daydreaming is fun!

Being grateful has made me less desperate, less competitive, more appreciative and far more abundant and giving, because I need less to make me happy.

I still feel that I am a long way from being the person I met in my meditations… but she was about 70… so I have 30 years to go to get it right.

And the best bit, I realize now, is enjoying the journey or adventure, I am currently on to get there… because I know, it will all be ok.

Just as it should be.

Because I told me, it would be.

And I believe her.

The Secret

Heart

There are good days and there are not so good days. There are bad days and really bad days… and it feels like most recently there have been more sad and therefore bad days for me recently.

So I sit here tonight to write my ‘no longer than 30 minute blog’… relieved to have had a really good day. There were so many moments that I felt my heart swell and feel overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude… and my little broken, dehydrated heart is feeling recharged, replenished from it; the cage that I have been building up around it to protect it started to become weaker, maybe even left unlocked…

I felt huge, overwhelming love this morning as I was lying on the floor doing a pilates curl as Willy snuck in to the snug before his wake up time, face hidden behind his lallies and his teddies, hair on end, eyes sleepy, nose snuffly as he lay down on top of me and snuggled in. There is no better way to start the day…. With unconditional love flowing both ways, no words, just feelings.

I felt a second injection of the same unconditional love as Tom walks in 15 minutes later, perfectly dressed, his beautiful tousled hair, his rose bud lips offered up for multiple kisses before breaking in to his happy morning smiles.

My heart pumped with joy as ‘Singapore’ called… and the joy spread through my veins as ‘Singapore’ turned to plans of China, UK, Australia, global expansion of spreading love and joy and health and wellbeing…

My heart skipped a little beat, a little drum roll of grateful love, gratitude, relief and happiness of finding 4 lovely new friends, life lines, who have been my rays of light, hope over coffee… as we all shared that we felt the same..

My heart raced and felt alive as I joined an impromptu circuit class, it felt powerful and strong…

My heart felt comforted to know there are others like me, with lost mothers… to know there are other hearts out there that sometimes stop, have the air squeezed out of them, quite suddenly for no reason, just at the sound of a song…

My heart sang. Really sang…. Just as loudly and as out of tune as Tom and I sang all the way home, holding hands, singing One D, Uptown Funk, Bryan Adams and laughing as we got the words wrong… laughing at each other – my eyes looking at the mirror image of my eyes, dancing, alive in the face of a little boy…

My heart was filled with pride, hearing from global leaders, entrepreneurs, hearing from heroes who have overcome their fears, being in a room full of people with the same values of honesty, authenticity, integrity, light, laughter and love as I have…

Your heart sings when you know you have made the right choices.

And the choices are right, when they are made from the heart.

And maybe that is why my head is hurting tonight … it wants some attention. Today, I lived outside my head and in my heart.

heart-quote-copia

Home Sweet Home

There is nothing like taking the last turn in to your own village after 360 mile journey…

There is nothing like driving back through your own gates and walking through your own front door…

There is nothing like carrying your sleeping boys up to their own beds and hearing their sighs of comfort as they snuggle under their own duvets….

There is nothing like unpacking the car on your own, laden with bags, boxes and rubbish… and realising for the first time how much easier it is when there is 2 of you.

There is nothing like realising how amazing single mum’s are… hats off to them!

There is nothing like leaning against the aga to sooth an aching back…feeling the warmth of your own kitchen and feeling waves of gratitude…

There is nothing like putting on the first of many washes and getting ahead of the game before bed…

There is nothing like munching on a piece of hot buttery toast as a reward for doing so well on a long drive alone…

There is nothing like the relief as you find the Halloween costumes have been delivered while you have been away…happy boys tomorrow!

There is nothing like opening 4 letters from HMRC explaining they have recalculated your tax for the YE 2013/14 and it is now double and you have multiple late payments (!)…. (Thank you, thank you, thank you… it must have meant I earnt a lot of money that year and benefitted from it at the time!!)

There is nothing like blogging on a laptop after a week of finger tapping on an iphone…

There’s nothing like getting in to your own bed, having your own pillow, a good book and an early night….

There’s nothing like home sweet home… There’s no place like home….

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How am I?

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Following my update a few days ago, many lovely caring friends have been in touch to ask how I am…

This has surprised me in a couple of ways…

Firstly, how many people actually are reading my blog! I actually cannot tell who or how many read it unless they ‘like’ or ‘follow’… I am secretly thrilled at how many people are enjoying it and at the same time, secretly totally freaked out by how many people now know my deepest darkest thoughts! This started as a way for me to get through the sandwich years – both looking after multiple generations but also the transition I am going through from being a solid, successful corporate career person, to professional mum, entrepreneur, coach and mentor… wifely PA! It seems that what I write resonates with a few…

Secondly… I had to ask myself the question ‘how am I’ in order to actually reply to the many questions … some people I have ignored. Which is very rude. But I wasn’t sure how to answer at the time…

So How am I?

I have gone through a list of multiple emotions that I think many expect the response to be:

Sad. Sure. But not overwhelmingly…

Worried. Sure.. but there is nothing I can do about any outcome or the situation…

Emotional. Of course.. but again, not overwhelming.

Helpless… Yes. But only in terms of being able to help my Mum, but again, no point in dwelling on that because the people who can help her are all around her.

So if not the expected answers…

How am I?

As I received another message from a friend today, I was on the treadmill… and the acute feeling I had all of a sudden was gratitude. I felt my shoulders relax and my feet beneath me swing effortlessly as I turned up the pace.

Gratitude…

I am hugely grateful that I can go down and spend time with my Mum and Dad tomorrow. I am hugely grateful for my credit card to pay for train tickets, money in the bank, for friends who are helping me out with looking after both the boys while I am away and ferrying them to and from school and feeding them.

I am hugely grateful that my Mum is in a hospital that still cares enough to do tests to find out what’s going on in her body, her brain and to find the medication that will make her life a little easier. I am hugely grateful that my Dad is still fit and healthy enough to be there to support her.

I am hugely grateful that my sister was there with my Dad when they got the scary report. I am so lucky to have a sister who is so methodical, calm, knowledgeable.

I am hugely grateful that I found a lifeline. For when I connect the dots back in my life… nothing has happened for no reason, in fact, every experience has served a purpose in the journey of my life to date.

I found a lifeline just over two years ago, that brought into my life all the ‘tools’ I needed to get through this period of difficulty, as well as a time last year when it felt like my life had unhinged itself from reality.

I am grateful for the mentors, the coaches, the leaders I have learnt from who have shared their knowledge and experiences and especially the book recommendations on how to grow yourself and therefore myself in to a better, more mindful, calmer, spiritual, abundant and grateful person; someone who can overcome obstacles, tangible, mental or otherwise.

I am grateful for the professionals who have taught me about nutrition, health and the importance of feeding the body and the soul to live out a life of longevity.

I am grateful for the many friends I have in my life that provide a support network – whether it be to have coffee and cake in the coffee shops around York (except we all drink herbal tea and eat seed bars.. honest guv!); friends in whatsapp groups who remind me that ‘Mental Gardening’ is the positive change that will improve the lives of so many; colleagues I work with who encourage and inspire me to continually step out of my comfort zone and grow and learn; honest and close friends who know when it has been time to give me a kick up the backside and get on with my life! I think one even said ‘it’s time to strap on a pair and walk like John Wayne’!!! I am grateful for all friends for whatever part they play – a drink, a laugh, a moan…

I am so grateful that our current weekend family life has taught me that I can let go of my career, the titles, the pay cheques and the biggest wrench of all – my ego. I am grateful that this experience has made me brave enough to start new things, have the courage to learn to mentor and teach, to bare my soul through blogging…

I am grateful that I am now able to connect the dots back and see that everything in the past has happened for a reason, even if it felt like a tragedy, a disaster at the time. Each experience has a part to play in the adventure of life… and it always ends up working out for the best, even if just a lesson to learn.

This is just another life experience and sadly one we will go through with 4 parents, or 4 grandparents to the boys. And there in itself is another gratitude – I am so grateful that our sons have been so lucky to enjoy and benefit from the company and love of 4 amazing people.

As I drive to school, feeling this sense of gratitude, of happiness as I go to pick up the smiliest boy in the world, I am called by a friend of mine’s mother who needs to pay me some money! I haven’t seen her since my school days and we have a lovely catch up. She asks about my children, what my husband does, where I live and finally asks why her daughter owes me money? I explain that I had a wake up call 2 years ago and wanted to spend more time with my family, so I had left a team and career I loved and started a new business in health and wellness and that her daughter had wanted some of my nutritional products, to ensure she gets the right nutrients when she is racing around after everyone else! I explained how this business enabled me to still see my children, but still have a sense of purpose and a challenge.

Her response still gives me goose bumps… and tears in my eyes; ‘Ali! Ten thousand cheers for you! Keep it up! You are doing absolutely the right thing by using your intuition and your initiative… looking after your children yourself is the best job you can do! And if you find something else that fits with it, that is brilliant. Keep it up.’

The tears are in my eyes are of happiness because I know that if my Mum knew what I was doing, those would be her words; she would have been my biggest customer and my biggest champion.

So how am I?

Grateful and happy!