Perception is everything.

Yesterday, I was watching ‘trash’ America TV drama….

I love it. Pure escapism!

Plus it fuels my vision for life… Dreaming is allowed…. And one needs inspiration for that sometimes…


My drama of choice is ‘Peak Practice’… I’ve always loved a good medical drama – ER, Greys… but I think this is my favourite. I love the characters and I use bits of them to fuel what I would love in my life…


I would love a calm Sam, a soppy Coop and moody Pete… especially in my work place! What a support group… and Sam’s muscles!… you know they would come to your rescue if you were stuck!


And the fashion… and the girls…

I would love some of Charlotte’s Badass… her no nonsense, ‘I don’t give a cr*p’, bravery.. Violet’s compassion, Addi’s wardrobe, jewelry and fashion sense… and while Nai’s amazing cleavage wouldn’t look right on me, her toned arms sure are something I am working towards…


But it was one scene that grabbed my attention. Violet, a medical therapist has had her medical license revoked. (Brief storyline – baby got cut out of her by a pschyopath, she nearly died, she went AWOL, she wrote a book about the experience, became a top seller… psychopath sees it as crossing the line of client / patient confidentiality… bye-bye medical license).


As a consequence of not being able to work or see patients, she tries to embrace motherhood with her son (who survived). In doing so, she meets up with other ‘Mom’s’ who don’t work professionally and look after their toddlers. The stage is set with 3 beautifully groomed ladies, designer dresses, with frills and jewels, drinking wine while their children play happily on mats… and the discussion is pure gossip – about other women, children and their husbands, who they all totally hate and dismiss.


This made me feel uncomfortable…


It was totally stereotypical…


For anyone who has been a toddler of a 2 year old, particular a boy – there is no wearing heels as you have to run to catch them, constantly… they are always doing something they shouldn’t – climbing, running in to a road…falling over. You can’t wear jewelry – long necklaces anyway – they get yanked. Designer clothes… well I can tell you, most of the time, I was in jeans and James’ polo shirt as I was constantly having food smeared all over me. And wine! Hell yes… but not till they were in bed!


It made me feel uncomfortable, because it wasn’t a true representation of reality.


It made me feel uncomfortable, because that is exactly what I thought Mum’s who didn’t work did! Ladies who lunched…


Until, I chose to become a Mum who didn’t ‘work’.


(Tangent and off topic but at least a Mum who decided that working in a job for someone else wasn’t going to ‘work’ for my family and instead found multiple ways to provide personal satisfaction, stimulation and income by working for myself.. alongside putting in the hard graft unpaid work as a mother).


The scene came back to me this morning as after dropping off the boys at school, I did meet with a couple of other Mum’s who have made similar choices as I have. I have blogged about our discussions previously – particularly about the ‘to work, not to work’ debate.


And today’s topics were broad and varied. Yes, there is always discussion about our children. Rather than moan and complain, we share strategies and tactics about how we can help them overcome challenges – night terrors was one topic, nightmares or ‘bad thought’s was another, playground bullying and how to help our children overcome it, based on our experiences too.


We also discussed music and art. We discussed talent in those fields… who we admired, who got it right and who got it wrong.


We discussed detox – who was doing it, who was not and who had succumbed!


We drank green tea and coffees and while we looked smart, we were booted and scarved and totally practical for professional Mum’s.


It was a power hour of stimulation… not of idle gossip and people bashing. Refreshing.


Maybe it is different in America, in California?


But then my perception was the same as the producers… until I lived it. Maybe there-in lies the lesson. Our worlds are our perceptions of what we choose to believe..


I chose to believe that that was what life was life if you didn’t have a ‘job’. So I never left my job… I was safe and comfortable thinking the grass wasn’t greener. I kept telling myself I wasn’t a risk taker.


I was happy thinking there was no alternative.

I was happy telling myself that the alternative wasn’t for me.

Until I decided to change.

Perception is everything.

The alternative is for me. I made it that way.





Toad in the Hole

Tonight calls for Toad in the Hole.


Real comfort food.


I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that keeps me awake all night. Sick of feeling lackless and energyless…



I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that has made me miss 2 events this week that I was looking forward to – my last class with the girls at St Mathews and Willy’s school fundraiser.



I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that had me in fits and sweats while giving makeovers to friends this morning and had me in bed again this afternoon.



I am feeling sorry for myself.


Sick of the cough that makes me sick and makes my throat raw.



I am feeling sorry for myself.


So I made Toad in the Hole.



I will feel better tomorrow.


Toad in the Hole + Weekend + Mr OCD is home + boys on beaver camp + lunch with friends + night on the sofa = I WILL FEEL BETTER TOMORROW!





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.  (


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…




‘Make love, not War’ – Anon

‘I was once asked why I never participated in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I would never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I will be there’ – Mother Teresa.

‘Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time’ Lyndon B. Johnson

‘Peace is not the destination. Peace is the way.’- unknown

‘If we are to have peace on earth… our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

‘Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace’ – Jonathan Lockwood Hule.

‘True Peace is no merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice’ – Martin Luthor King.

‘Imagine all the people, living life in peace…’- John Lennon.


I don’t suppose that I am the only person starting and ending today thinking about the recent events in Paris.

I am not an avid watcher of the news, nor reader of the newspapers. Long gone are the days of luxury when I used to read an hour of the paper a day. I am lucky if I get to read the Sunday papers – that is a rare treat.

So my political views on the situation is next to nothing as my knowledge of the facts and history leading up to the events are pretty limited. But I am aware of the situation – multiple gun attacks and suicide bombers affecting many, many lives of innocent people.

And this isn’t the first… Wars, attacks, aggression, tension has been around since the beginning of the human race… My generation all know where we were when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11, the footage emblazoned on our memories… 7/7 also….

So what’s the answer to ending it? Is there one? Fight back or give love? Is it that simple?

I started to google some of the well known peace cries from peace ‘activists’… And they are all in line with the message from my favourite book ‘The Secret’… focus on what you want, not what you don’t want… Focus on peace, not war. Love…. Not hate. Forgive, not revenge…   The book says that by focusing on something, the vibes and the signals you are putting out to the universe will mean you get more of the same…

With all the press coverage, media, social discussions… we are giving air time to these terrible attacks… Does this mean we are giving the terrorists what they want? Focus? Attention? By doing so, will they do it again? Do something worse?

So does that mean we should all ignore it? Walk on by? Allow it?   Ignore the emotions it brings up? Not allow ourselves to show compassion for those affected? Show solidarity amongst the peaceful majority?

I am really not sure it is that simple…

I like the mixture of the quotes I found…

I believe MLK, Jr is right… we need to develop a world perspective… but at the same time, Lyndon is right – it will take one step at a time.

In the meantime, MLK himself speaks of what we need to do now and allow justice in… and leave that to the people who know what they are doing and in authority.

As a mere mortal and lowly citizen, I shall follow John Lennon’s advice and imagine living life in peace… and I will pray that all those affected, suffering or suffering grief will find the peace they deserve eventually, in finding it possible to forgive.


The lost art of letter writing

My wonderful Dad arrived today. He arrived an hour early! He arrived alone in Yorkshire for the first time..   He looks great! He is in good health and in good spirits…

As always he arrives armed with wine… one cheap plonk, one very nice …

As always he arrives with memorabilia from home… 2 recipe books signed by their authors – Michel Roux and Rick Stein…..

And a letter.

A beautiful letter on beautiful Japanese paper.


It is a letter from me to my Mum and Dad on my Mum’s 50th Birthday. They were skiing in Austria at the time so the letter is addressed to the Chalet Landhaus Moos…. I love that!

The date is February 1991.

I was at boarding school.

There was no such thing as Facebook then. I don’t even think we had email? We did have a computer lab, but we only used it to learn to touch type…

There was no such thing as a mobile phone then. We had one phone per boarding house and I think we used to get to use it once a week in the lower years and possibly once an evening in the senior years… I forget. And we had 10p. A 10p call didn’t last very long.

So I wrote.

I used to write to my parents at least once a week. I used to write to my Aunty Pam frequently too… and also my Grandparents and Great Aunts… and those wonderful friends called ‘pen pals’…

And they all used to write to me. Regularly as clockwork; Dad once a week. Grandpa once a week. Aunty Pam once a week. Great Aunt once a term with a care package of home made coconut bars. Pen Pals… sporadic.

Dad says there are boxes of letters at home.

He asked what he should do with them.   I said to burn them…

Until I read the letter… and started laughing!

“We have to wear cloaks to Cav”… Very Embarrassing!!!!” Only the girls from the Iron Ring will know what that means… but I can hear my 15 year old self in my mind!

“Today’s big Scandal… Cleaners treated for stress because of the loo door”… and I remember the drama as if it were yesterday. Someone (who shall remain nameless) turned a lock on a loo door from the outside so that it looked locked. Apparently the cleaner was distraught … it was the little things at boarding school. It is always about the drama…

“Fran’s brother came to visit… he arrived at 3.30pm and left at 7pm. He is major tall…. He even went down to Cav and bought us all food! He was so nice”… Maybe I had a crush on Howard?!

“I got 89% in my art exam.. which is great as I thought it wasn’t very good”… I loved art. I must draw more.

But the best bit…

“Latest – OH NO, NO (underlined and capitalized)… BAMBI WANTS TO CALL HERSELF ALEX!!!!!!”

I named my sister ‘Bambi’ when I first met her aged 20 months… Family and close friends still call her that… According to the letter, I didn’t think Alex suited her then.. and it still doesn’t. She will always be Bambi. Or Aunty Bambi.

The letter.

The lost art of letter writing.

Maybe because at a young age of 10 I used to write so much in letters, that’s why I love social media, am a frequent updater on Facebook and Instagram, love writing this blog. I am used to sharing news… even if mundane… with the people in my life.

The lost art of letter writing. Such a shame to have lost it to something so transient… scroll past and you missed it.

The lost art of letter writing. Such a shame to have lost that excited feeling of running to the post table after break to see if we had letters! The joy when we did! The excitement if the letter was in a package!   We shared letters and news between us… gathering round to find out the latest word from outside of the school…

The lost art of letter writing. A beautiful ritual. Full of thought, care, time, love… expression of pen to paper.

So Dad asked me again… What should he do with the boxes of letters. Did I want them?


Did I want to write a book ‘Letters from Ali’ he asked…. May be… one day.

In the meantime, it has made me want to write letters more. Spread joy and excitement in to people’s lives… because I have to say I still get that little jolt of excitement on going to the post box when you find nestled in amongst the flyers, pamphlets (for you HB), magazines, invoices and statements… a little coloured envelope with a handwritten address….. I return to being that little girl dashing to the post table again, with knee high socks and a red alice band…

Brain Fog

Brain Fog.

I nearly forgot to pick up Tom today.

I can’t believe I am writing that.

I nearly forgot to pick up Tom today.

I thought I was picking up Willy…

Was it just forgetfulness?

Was it just distraction, involved in doing something else?

Was it just confusion with car share changes?

Was it just confusion with Willy’s new clubs?

Was it just lack of realization of the time?

Was it due to sleep deprivation?

Was it due to brain fog?

Typically, the night before, I like to look through my diary for the following day and mentally review it to make sure it all works, fits in.. and find some time to find my 10 minutes, my breathing space, my admin…. For there is always admin when running a house and 2 children. By doing so, I cement the plan for the next day and I know what follows what, so I can be prepared, make sure I take everything I need for the day… know what to wear when I wake up.

I did that last night…

So what went wrong today?

Today I have momentary envy for my old single life with only me to look after, feed, exercise, clothe and satisfy. I know that if I had even one hour, or even half an hour of my old life, I would be lonely, unsatisfied…   but it was much simpler! I have to admit that!

It is quite nice to daydream of a full, uninterrupted night sleep – with no poorly children, or snoring husbands… but back in my single days, I was interrupted by the bus, the aeroplanes, the on-call phone by my bed…

It is quite nice to daydream of a single list of jobs to do just for me, or work…but back in my single days, it was all about me and there is so much more to be gained by doing more for others…

It is quite nice to daydream of a tidy room, tidy house or messy if I wanted it!… but back in my single days, I wasn’t really that tidy! And I like the homely chaos… (even if Mr OCD doesn’t)… it reminds me of all the people I have in my life..

It is quite nice to daydream of long lie-ins or hangover slobbing on the sofa… but back in my single days, my hangovers could last all day… whereas now, I have to get up, I have to eat, I have to go to rugby / football / make breakfast and those distractions help me shift my focus from my thumping head, lurching stomach..

So where am I going with this?

I have no idea.

I have brain fog.

Brain fog

The omelet of life…

The omelet of life!

Saturday morning… family breakfast! And this morning it was omelet on the menu. The big man is home…

And as I am making the omelet’s it makes me think about life… for the perfect omelet is made from the right ingredients being put into the hot pan at the right time. For us, the Mortimer omelet is made simply; just 5 main ingredients and the seasoning.

The pan has to be hot and the coconut oil just running clear and hot.

Throw in the red onion…. And let them sweat until they are clear, but not fully cooked nor brown or burnt…

Throw in the finely sliced button mushrooms… and let them brown and shrink. You always need more mushrooms than you originally think…

Once they are nicely soft it is the turn of the spinach… Again, more than you think as the leaves reduce to practically nothing…

And quickly after the spinach, the eggs, pre-whisked and seasoned…

Then comes the patience… a few swirls of the spatula around the pan to ensure it doesn’t stick…

Waiting for the perfect time to overlay the fatless palma ham to be laid on top…

Patience… you don’t want to flip the omelet too early or the egg will run out the side and spoil the perfect half crescent shape… too long and you get a rubbery texture.

I do this routine 4 times… as I have 4 hungry men at my breakfast table.

As I repeat the recipe and activity the 4 times, it makes me think of the recipe of life….

Just like life – we may know what we want the outcome to be and the steps we need to take and decisions we need to make… but it could go wrong. Outside influences could deter us from our path, make us shift our focus… A spilt glass of water could make us burn the onions… and we have to start again.. Just as in life, a life event could make us take our eye off the prize and we have to start over…

Just like life – everyone is different… the goal different, the size of the goal different…. Tom – 1 egg, Willy 2 eggs, Uncle Barny 3 eggs and Big Daddy Morts the 4 full egg breakfast.   The same applies with the ingredients… Tom doesn’t like mushrooms and BDM wants extra spinach…

Just like life – you need patience… If you want the end result to be as good as it possibly can be or even exceed your expectations, you need to have patience to go through each step before moving to the next one… Rush it and it can all go wrong. Scrambled egg.

Just like life – you need the right tools… BDM has worked out that the 5 inch pan is the perfect size…. That a plastic spatula is the best thing to do the swirling and flipping.   The mini whisk with the red bowl … god forbid they go missing! It never feels right if you have to do it with a fork and a breakfast bowl…

Just like life – you can’t take short cuts….. the youtube clip of the omelet in a ziplock bag and boiling water. Rubbertastic! No thanks…

Just like life – everyone can take a different approach and still get the same brilliant result. Mr OCD stays true to himself… the onions chopped into tiny perfect squares, next to the perfectly sliced onions in perfect piles, spinach out and the palma ham de-fatted, the eggs whisked in the red bowl, seasoned… perfectly lined up, cup of coffee next to the pan. And…. Go!

Me… I am a muddle of chopping just in time, walking back and forth to the chopping board, swearing as the onions just start to go brown as I search for the spatula… can’t find the spinach in the fridge… you get the picture….

But the end result is that the omelet is done, delicious and nutritious…

Just like life… you can look at the end result and know that reversing the order, connecting the dots backwards, each step played a part in the perfect breakfast plate, the perfect result for our lives. Each step or dot, necessary for us to move to the next dot and we remain at some dots longer than others, entirely because it is necessary…

Steve Jobs was right.


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

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.

beautiful mess