Shattered

The word that is resounding in my brain this evening as I sit to write my daily blog… is just ‘shattered’…

Shatter: “to be broken into fragments or become weak or insubstantial…”

I actually woke up this morning full of beans and that was despite minimal sleep over night last night – thanks to long drive and being overtired when I got into bed albeit early, I don’t think I nodded off until well after midnight… and also thanks to a little boy who was struggling to breathe due to a blocked nose who kept appearing in the darkness by my bedside… After the 3rd time taking him back to bed, I let him crawl into bed with me… only to be kept awake by continual sniffing, snorting and then finally snoring… and a hot wriggling little body wanting to get closer and closer to me, little arms flinging around my head…

Normally a night like that would leave me ‘shattered’ in the morning, but I am still reaping the rewards of a very relaxing week away in Cornish air…

The shattering started with the car… that is making a very strange rattle somewhere underneath and making the steering wheel wiggle and jiggle when I go over 70… Not great… something has become weak… or ‘shattered’… and so I am car less for the next few days… stranded, while someone pieces back together or strengthens whatever it is that is no longer substantial enough to carry a tonne of Range Rover. (Thank goodness for my chauffeur – aka Grandpa!)

The second shattering… well, a rather excitable, ferocious, hilarious, energetic pillow fight by the boys and some friends in Tom’s room left his prize Christening present, in tiny fragments all over his carpet… shattered; a million tiny shards that was once a good old ‘yorkshire yard of ale’ glass, proudly mounted on the beams in his bedroom…. Gathering dust (lots of it!…) until his 18th or 21st when no doubt he would neck it and then follow in the Godfather who gave it to him’s footsteps and see the contents for a second time behind the marquee…   This was not mendable…. Half an hour on my knees and a dustpan to gather all the pieces and I am still seeing tiny diamond shards glinting in his carpet. It will be slippers for a while. Disappointing… but to be honest, I am surprised it lasted the 7 plus years it has! He can save up for another…

The final shattering … me! I am now weak, insubstantial, in bits and pieces… for it was actually Willy who threw the cushion that destroyed the yard. Willy who is carbon copy of Mr OCD when it comes to perfection…. And he has to be perfect… hates to be told off, told he is wrong, not quite right… however, 32 years his junior, Willy has not yet controlled his temper, reactions to these situations of imperfection. The red mist descends…   And I have learnt that the only thing to do in these times, is stay patient… but it takes every ounce of willpower within me to keep calm, remain unreactive, speaking softly so that I don’t feed the anger, stoke the flames of his frustration…. I have learnt to give him his space.. until he has pieced his shattered ego back together…

These little episodes can last as little as 15 minutes or a couple of hours before he reappears, wanting to share something he has discovered… before quietly and softly saying ‘I’m sorry for being bad / sad / mean, Mummy’… Tonight, given the lack of sleep from the night before, it took him longer to clear his thoughts… but as he siddled up to me on the sofa, and curled into me and said his little apology so sincerely, that’s when my tension dissipated… and my resolve shattered into little pieces, I weaken and become insubstantial… and I realize how much I have been holding my breath….

While the Yard can’t be mended or pieced back together and the car can be bolted, welded or fixed, I can also regain my strength…become substantial and whole…

It’s time for sleep.

IMG_2623

The secrets of getting stuff done…

Ugh.

If there is any day or any night, that I wish I hadn’t given myself this daily blog challenge for a year… it’s today. I am sure it won’t be the last…. But it is the first.

Weird week…   and I am clearly unsettled as I haven’t really slept for two nights. You know those nights when you lie on your back and you think you are awake.. until something really does wake you up? I have had two of those.

I usually sleep like a dead person. I have been woken up by James before… his panic stricken face, right in my face, nose nearly to nose… as he shakes me violent… ‘Ali! Are you alive?’… well I nearly die from the shock.. but yes – I wake up and say ‘I am alive, but moments from a heart attack!’ ….. I don’t move when I sleep. I know that because while James isn’t here in the week, I wake up in the same position as I fall asleep in, the covers not moved… his side of the bed still made perfectly, throw cushions in tact. If I lie in my favourite position, on my back, hands on my chest… I can see why he would think I am dead. We were clearly made for each other – I sleep like the dead. Only a dead person could sleep through his snoring. The house shakes! Literally…

So yes… today is the day that I really feel like not writing…   However, I am not that kind of person. I don’t like to let myself down.

And it kind of ties in with a question I have had from a few people recently… ‘how do you fit it all in?’.

There really is no secret. I don’t possess magic or a magic wand.

It’s called commitment.

Simply that.

Oh and a few friends called, planning, prioritizing and delegation.

My tools are my lists; they are on note pad (I have 2 usually on the go) and multiple in my iphone list app.

I learnt this through a methodology we applied and had fantastic success with when developing code for the Asda Direct website – an agile methodology. And you work to the principle of the ‘Minimal Viable Product’.   Basically get the minimum done as quickly as you need in the time you need it to be done… work with that until you know you need to add more to it, to improve it. If what you have done isn’t working, you can scrap it without being too hard on yourself for having spent too much time or money on it.

So you have you lists (in agile terms – your backlog of tasks). You then prioritise these tasks, putting the one that will give you your biggest bang for your buck at the top. This could be the job you want to do least, but you know you need to get it done. It is also called ‘eating the frog’ (great book – Brian Tracy). Once you have done it, you free up so much headspace, rather than worrying all day about not getting it done. Everything else after that feels easy! Effortless! And you can check off item by item… and that feels amazing! What a great day!

Then you delegate.

I delegate to myself first and choose the top 6 or so things that need to get done and I plan them through my day – around daily commitments (ie. Kids drop off, eating (need fuel!), kids bed time, pick up, appointments, gym/ spin, walking the dog etc).

I then scan through the list to see who I can ask for help. I am a big believer in asking for help.. especially, if someone is better at something than me – for example, gardening – I am seriously brown fingered and kill everything.

Anything else isn’t a priority, it can stay on the backlog until it becomes a priority or I have lots of time. Like my accounts. Which I am a) rubbish at b) bored by doing c) the more James tells me to do it, the more I dig my heels in… he would be better at doing them than me anyway!

So nearly 20 years of learning in consulting, technology, project management, professional career, now continues to pay off… and I didn’t realize that until now.

In fact, I can’t believe I have just written a blog about agile methodology…   but at least I blogged.

Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you would do, long after the mood you said it in has left you. (Unknown)

Commitment is the glue which bonds you to your goals. (Jill Koenig)

Commitment leads to action;   Action brings your dreams closer. (Marcia Wieder).

Commitment: there is but one degree of commitment: total (Arnie Sherr).

Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality (Abraham Lincoln).

And my favourite:

Commitment is an act, not a word (Jean-Paul Sartre).

commitment

Just a girl in a pink jumper and the fish necklace…?

IamMore-2013-July8

I am on the train going home… another Grand Central. This time it is packed! It’s the grand exodus from London to the North…   I wonder if there is anyone else playing the ‘Who are they game?’… I wonder what they would say about me?

Would they guess the truth? Could they guess based on the clues…?

Would they guess a Mum of 2, wife of 1 big Yorkshire lad?

Possibly by the rings on my fingers, (and the bells on my toes!) and the screen saver on my phone…

Would they guess a business owner, passionate about health, wellness?

Possibly by the litre of water, box of almonds and Arbonne literature I am brushing up on in front of me…

Would they guess a coach of other business owners, mentor in schools?

Possibly by the Mosaic book, notes I am scribbling…

Would they guess a daughter, emotional after a fleeting visit to the mental hospital to see her Mum with Alzheimer’s? Emotional from the recognition that the Alzheimer’s, the medication or both is slowing her Mum to a state that she now needs help walking, now only babbles for communication; emotional after not being recognized as the eldest daughter of two; emotional that the holding of her hand wasn’t reciprocated, that she sat on the sofa with her back towards her; emotional at saying goodbye and the sudden multiple, featherlite kisses and clinging cuddle; emotional from looking back and seeing her Mum’s face pressed the window pane…..

Possibly, if they look in to her eyes deep enough…

Would they guess a daughter relieved that the mental hospital wasn’t like the one in Jack Nicholson’s ‘one flew over the cookoo’s nest’; relieved that the nurses are kind, caring, the salt of the earth; relieved that the lump is nothing to worry about; relieved that she is clean, washed and is safe.

Possibly… but that’s a tricky one…

Would they guess a daughter who was shocked at her Dad’s big black eye and droopy blood filled eye bag? A daughter initially shocked, but then delighted to hear that her Dad wants to travel the world, carry on the trips and adventures, find a companion and live again? A daughter who just wants her Dad to live the rest of his life having fun, being a Granddad and doing whatever the hell he likes! A daughter who believes that her Dad is a hero for spending over 8 years caring and living the only life he could while looking after his wife with Alzheimer’s….

Possibly… but I doubt it!

Would they guess a friend who has had a lovely day catching up with friends – fresh juices and future plans; a cheeky bottle of sauvignon on Putney wharf…

Possibly? … and now I am paranoid, is the smell of booze from me?! Or is it the man opposite?!

Would they guess a wife still smiling at the recollection of a dinner ‘a deux’, burgers and beers, snoozing on the sofa in the flat of many memories?

Possibly … as the corners of my mouth turn up as I think of this..

Would they guess a Mummy excited to get home to give her two blond babies death by kisses?

Possibly … my mouth turns up even more!

Or would they just see a girl, a woman… with short brown hair in a pink jumper and fish on the end of her necklace?

How am I?

IMG_0188

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!

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…