Sunday, 21 April 2013

Moving Forwards

I was trying to remember a quote today, something about however slowly you are going, you are always one step ahead of those who aren't trying.  I could look it up on google, but then I'll get sucked into clicking on more links and more links and find myself horribly distracted and end up on Pinterest or something.

I'm struggling at the moment, if I'm honest.  Loitering just the right side of depression and I'm very aware of the fact, which is a good thing.  I've had a childfree weekend, which has been needed, but it's also been one where I haven't seen anybody either.  Those weekends are pretty rare these days, usually somebody will pop in for a cup of tea, even if it's just an hour during the whole weekend, it's enough to stop me feeling totally alone in this life.

I feel like I am not moving forwards with anything, like days and days go by and it's just all about survival.  Surviving the nightmare that is my son's Tourettes and his continuing meltdown.  Surviving, just, financially, praying that I don't have to move out, praying that the washing machine doesn't go wrong, or the car doesn't break down, or the gas bill doesn't go up yet again, praying for strength and motivation to believe in myself when there just isn't anyone else to turn to when I so desperately need someone to tell me that it's all going to work out and be ok.  Wanting so badly to find a way out of this hole and find a safe place to stop for a while and catch my breath.

I did come across this quote just now, while I was quickly flicking through a book on inspiration:-

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split into two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.     (Jacob Riis)
The more times I read it, the more it seems fitting today somehow.  Like the Universe just telling me to trust and have faith that everything is under control, and it will all fall into place one day soon.
I've been slowly working on the diet and exercise stuff.  It's a bit hit and miss at the moment.  My boy's shouting and his own inner torment is sapping all my strength and eating away at my soul, and I'm reaching for comfort food despite knowing that it's now more than ever I need proper nutrition.  I've restocked the fridge with smoothie stuff, ready to start afresh tomorrow, and done tons of research looking for fun recipes for new smoothies and salad dressings.  Have even joined a zumba class with my daughter - a strain on the finances, but it gets us both out of the house for some rare and precious mother/daughter time, even just for 45 minutes.
The ear plugs arrived.  It's been a childfree weekend, so no opportunity to try them yet.  Hopefully they'll help a little, though it won't stop me fretting about the neighbours, nor stop me wanting to hug my little boy tight and make it all better for him.  The really rubbish thing about this disorder is that I can't get close to him most of the time - his body is rigid and soaked in sweat and lashing out.  It's quite awful. 
I guess I am still moving forwards, a tiny bit each day.  I happened upon the blog of Shane Burcaw a couple of days ago too.  A young man in a wheel chair who has a muscle wasting disease.  He started to write a blog called 'Laughing at my Nightmare'  It's funny and heartbreaking and so inspirational and makes me feel very humbled to be complaining about my lot.
Right.  Enough feeling sorry for myself.  Imagine what his parents are going through on a daily basis? 
I can do this.  Just one day at a time.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Tough days

It's been a tough few weeks.  I always get into a bit of a funk in the school holidays.  I love them, of course, but I find it really difficult to motivate myself when the structure and routine of a normal working week are not present.  Add on a much-calmer-but-glued-to-the Xbox teenage boy and a daughter at work most of the time, and serious lack-of-adult-conversation funk sets in.  Add on relentlessly arguing siblings when they are in the same house together for even a minute, and I'm verging on insanity.

In the midst of all that, we got an appointment, at long last, to see the Tourettes specialist.  It was good and bad.  Finally we have an Official Diagnosis, and finally CAMHS are now sitting up and taking notice, and our next appointment to discuss treatment is in 2 weeks!  All good.  Not so good is the fact that the Swedish doctor was a little forthright in her approach.  In the space of ten minutes she had told Milo that he has Tourettes Syndrome and that there is no cure, she would be ringing the school the next day to involve them in treatment strategies, and she was enrolling him in Group Therapy from September (not sure how that can possibly help 6 months on from now...but still...)

Cue one major meltdown for one very troubled small boy.  His worst fear, just the worst thing he could possibly have imagined, was the school finding out and treating him like a 'freak'.  I did, in fact, tell the school nearly a year ago, but I hid that from Milo.  They were brilliant in also hiding from him the fact that they knew, but monitored him from a distance.  Next major fear was group therapy.  None of us are the 'group' kind.  We're introverted and shy and not particularly comfortable around lots of people.  My daughter and I are pretty independent and happy in our own company - we'll go anywhere and do anything by ourselves - dance classes, trips, evening classes...but the whole social thing...hmm....we do it if we have to, but will escape it if we can.  For Milo...the very idea of it ...well, he'd rather chop his arm off.  Top it all with having to face the fact that he has a disorder for which there is no's a helluva lot to take on board in one go.

I just hope this doctor knows what she is doing, because for six days now, my poor son has been in a meltdown, even the Xbox isn't working on keeping him calm.  His tics have trebled in volume and frequency to the point where I can go out of my garden gate and to the other side of the car park and still hear him as clear as day.  I'm feeling bad for the neighbours - we have paper thin walls, and if I press my ear to them , I can hear their conversations.  They must be almost as stressed as we are, and I'm dreading the doorbell ringing.

I've ordered us some ear plugs today.  I don't know what else to do right now.  I know he can't help it, I know that, but the urge to scream is overwhelming.  I'm trying to stay in control and keep calm, and keep telling myself that this will pass, but I want to curl up in a ball and howl - the stress of the noise, the heartwrenching sight of his contorted little body, his poor little broken's too much right now.  Am just praying for the strength to get us all through it.

On a positive note, I've made a smoothie for breakfast four days in a row now.  No other dietary changes yet, I don't think I can cope this week with going back to work aswell.  A childfree weekend on its way though, hopefully chance to restore some balance to my troubled soul.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


It's the Easter holidays, which for me started a week early after I hurt my back at school.  I'm loving the break from work, the long lay-ins, the freedom to come and go as I wish, but must confess to feeling a little bit lonely at times.

My daughter is working a lot during the holidays, which is absolutely brilliant.  It stops her getting bored, puts some money in her pocket and above all, keeps her and Milo from arguing constantly.... but I am missing her a bit.  Milo has bought himself a pre-owned X-Box - something I've always been adamant I would never let him have, fearing he would turn into a zombie child, or worse, it would make his tics even more violent.  I have to say, that generally, it feels like a heaven-sent gift.  He is occupied and happy, happy, happy to be able to connect with his friends without having to wait for them to be allowed out.  He does get a bit overexcited when he plays some of the games, and then we have some major tic sessions, but overall, particularly when he is hooked up to the microphone, he is much calmer.  I was dreading these holidays, if I'm honest, but so far, they have been quite wonderful. 

On the downside, I am craving some adult contact and conversation, and finding that my oomph is starting to wane a bit with regards to Getting My Life Sorted.  The fact that it is still so bitterly cold here, snowing again tonight, means that the new smoothie diet is taking a while to catch hold - I've shivered my way through them for four mornings (not consecutive), but my perfectionist self has been thrown by 'life' getting in the way again.  One morning I had an early osteopath appointment in the next town, so shunned the smoothie as I didn't want to be desperate for the loo while he was manipulating my back!  Today, my ex hubby decided he didn't want to drop Milo off to me, so I got a last minute text from him asking me to collect from his  He does that, my ex, still likes to control my life, despite the fact we have been divorced for ten years.

Anyway.  The point is, that I could have made healthier choices...made the smoothie for lunch or a late breakfast on those days, instead of reaching for the cocopops and tea...but I didn't.  The healthy choices haven't yet become a habit, but I'm not beating myself up about it.  Friday is shopping day, and I have a childfree weekend where I can kick start my motivation again.  It is the holidays after all, and there is no routine and it's far too flipping cold to do anything except huddle indoors or cosy up in a coffee shop.

I picked up a magazine in Sainsburys yesterday.  There was a double page spread featuring my dream house.  I haven't written a blog post about my dream house yet....I think about it all the time, and obviously it changes as I come across things that I love etc.  This house I saw yesterday though is as close as I've ever found.  There is the small matter of the price - £875,000 - but apparently the Universe doesn't worry about limiting details like that, so I bought a lottery ticket tonight and have been planning my vegetable garden.... 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Healthy start

Made my first smoothie this morning for nearly a year.

Kiwi, frozen berries, sprouting seeds (broccoli, radish, mung beans, lentils, chick peas, alfalfa), a handful of spinach leaves, 2 baby tomatoes, half a banana, a few almonds, some chia seeds, some flaxseed, half a tablespoon of spirulina powder, a splash of almond milk, a dash of algave syrup and some coconut water.

Healthy or what!!

I was a bit dubious about the spirulina - a nutrient dense blue-green algae, a superfood apparently.  The most beautiful deep green colour, with the most amazingly strong smell of seaweed.  Wasn't really looking forward to the taste of it, but as it happens, I couldn't taste it at all.

Whizzed it all up in the blender and drank.  Delicious.  But freezing when it feels like minus forty three outside, so am drinking hot water now to warm up.

My insides feel like they are buzzing.  It's a good feeling.

It's a start!!  Yippee.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

On a roll

I'm on a roll today.  The good thing about taking baby steps is it leaves you wanting to take more, instead of feeling totally overwhelmed by a whole massive lifeplan.

I've been thinking about skincare.  I've always been a bit against putting chemicals on my skin ever since I read that 60% of what you put on gets absorbed into your blood stream.  That can't be a good thing.

I don't wear make-up either.  Another weird thing about me.  If I am going out somewhere, then I'll put on some eyeliner and a bit of mascara, and I have been known to splodge some concealer on a particularly bad spot.  Otherwise nothing.  I absolutely hate the feel of any sort of foundation or powder on my skin.  It feels clogged and as if it is covering up the real me.  I'm sure I would look a thousand times more beautiful with a full face of make-up, but hey, it's the way I am.

I do have blemish-prone skin though which I keep in check with a blackhead clearing cleanser, a scrub that I use every morning, and a mild facial wash to follow.  I never moisturise - hate the feel, and again, I don't like the thought of my skin absorbing all those chemicals.

I'm also very lazy when it comes to beauty regimes (for lazy, read 'too shattered to care most of the time).  My job as a teaching assistant means I have my hands in water and paint a lot, so nice nails and soft skin are a bit of a fantasy for me, and I tend not to bother with my hands overly much.  Which has a knock-on effect of me not wanting to wear nail varnish or jewellery, because I don't want to draw attention to my manky hands.

As for my feet....horses' hooves extraordinaire!  I have been blessed with very small, dainty feet, but after 3 years travelling Australia mostly in bare feet (it's an Australian thing!) they never recovered.  In fairness, I don't try very hard with them either.  I have several foot files, but I think an industrial sander would be more suited to the job! 

Very occasionally I will make a big effort and make my own body scrub - olive oil, sea salt and lavender oil.  It works wonders and leaves skin delectably soft, but these days I am pooped by the time bathtime comes around, my son is generally shrieking in the next room, and I just can't be bothered to scrub the bath tub out every night.

Lazy lazy lazy.  Must try harder.

Anyway.  I have been wanting to replace my skincare regime with something more natural, so have been researching organic and natural skincare companies.  I love Neal's Yard Remedies, but oh so pricey for me at the moment, so I dug out this book which I have had for years...

Liz Earle's skincare range can be found in the more classy department stores.  I tried it for a while a few years ago.  It's nice, but still contains too many chemicals for me to feel comfortable with.  This book gives recipes for homemade cleansers etc, using everyday ingredients, so I might give it a go. 

 I bought some organic, chemical free tea-tree soap today which I'm going to try with a soft flannel to replace my chemical-rich facial wash and separate scrub.  The soap cost £1.56, compared with nearly £10 for the wash and the cleanser.  If it works, then I've saved all that money aswell!

I found a recipe on Pinterest for clearing blackheads too - a little honey drizzled onto half a lemon, rubbed onto the face, left for a few minutes, then rinsed off.  Apparently the results are visible immediately.  In Liz Earle's book, she has a similar recipe - just honey smoothed onto the face and massaged in with a little hot water....must be some truth in it then!  Sounds like a therapeutic exercise for bathtime!  Will monitor the results after I've bought some organic honey!

So that leaves moisturising.  I'm sure I should be doing something about that at my age.  A few months ago I bought some organic rose-oil serum, which I used a couple of times after my bath.  I wasn't convinced that it didn't clog my skin, and it felt a bit stingy, but hey, I only used it twice, so not a fair test really.  Must give that another go and see if it makes me look ten years younger in a few months!

Baby Steps

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.  

(Beverley Sills)

I am a perfectionist, an all-or-nothing girl.  Sometimes it's a great thing, one of my best qualities.  Sometimes it's one of my worst.  When it comes to diet and exercise, being a perfectionist is definitely a pain in the bum.
I'm the sort of girl who will plan a perfect diet and exercise regime then quit the minute I veer from that track, and follow it with weeks of Not Going Near Anything Healthy because what's the point when I haven't planned it perfectly or psyched myself up for a start date - usually because there is something potentially dangerous looming, i.e a school holiday (cue lots of coffee shop outings and lunches out with the kids and my friends), a birthday, Easter, Christmas, washing my name it, there is always an EXCUSE!  That's all it is, an excuse.  For what?  That's the bit that is puzzling me right now.  An excuse for what?  For not achieving the body of my dreams, which in turn will improve my confidence, my self-belief, my motivation to keep on making positive changes in my life....and all the domino effects of the goodness that can only come from all that.
I'm sure I'm not the only woman who follows this pattern.  Or am I far weirder than I thought!
Well guess what Mrs Perfectionist?  That's life.  There is never a perfect time or a perfect set of circumstances.  Time to ditch that very self-limiting belief, right now.  This blog is all about recognising my own personal sabotage traps and breaking through them, however ridiculous they seem and however vulnerable I feel when I commit them to paper.
If now is not the time to act, when will it be.  (Hillel)
So, bearing that in mind, I'm going to change one thing at a time.  Slowly stock up the cupboards with all the necessary ingredients of recipes for meals, change one meal at a time, wait for it to become second nature, then start work on the next and the next.
My biggest downfall is coffee.  I love being in coffee shops and drinking coffee.  I rarely, if ever, drink it at home, I don't even think about drinking it at home, especially now that we don't have friends round because of the Tourettes.  It's purely the coffee shop experience that I love, the smell, the warmth, the sounds and the taste of real barista coffee.  It's costing me a fortune every month to indulge in that particular vice, even though it's only 2 or 3 times a week.  If I cut that right down, and maybe even stopped it for a while, then I could use that money to buy healthier food.  There's a thought.
So I've been shopping today, sod the minus bank balance.  Sometimes you just have to make an investment.  I've bought some store cupboard ingredients, ready to start making changes.
Some sprouting seeds (I do have a sprouter and will start to grow my own again), quinoa, green tea, almond milk, raw tahini (for salad dressings when I get around to it), seeds, nuts and spirulina powder for smoothies.
My first meal to change is going to be breakfast.  Currently a pint of water followed by whatever kids' cereal is in the cupboard, and tea.  Not brilliant.
After I read Kris Carr's book last year, I started making smoothies for breakfast, which I loved.  Real proper smoothies with berries and green vegetables (cucumber, sprouting seeds, spinach, parsley), grapes, kiwi and all manner of nuts and seeds, diluted with coconut water, and a dash of agave syrup.  It looks like mud when you whizz it all up, but tastes delicious.
The perfectionist in me stopped when Tesco stopped stocking coconut water.  It's pretty damned expensive anyway, but I used to top it up with normal water.  If you buy it in the health food shop, it's nearly £2 dearer.  Outrageous.  I tried just using normal water, but they didn't taste quite the same, a bit too, well, muddy really.  Then winter set in, berries became too expensive and poor quality to buy, I replaced them with frozen ones, but it takes an iron will to down a very cold smoothie in the middle of a British winter.  I tried making them with mango aswell, but without the sweetness of the berries, the taste isn't so nice.
So, out went the smoothies and in came the junk.
Time to get back on the smoothies.  My local smaller Tesco still stocks coconut water (a Kris Carr smoothie ingredient), and I bought some almond milk to try as a substitute.  Full of nutrition, no mid-morning sugar crash, and they feel so clean when you drink them.  Now that I'm off work for 2 weeks, there's no excuse for the excuses (no time to make before work, it's winter, it's cold....well, ok, it IS still flipping freezing, but it has to change pretty soon right?) If I get into the habit of making them for 2 weeks, then it should be fairly straightforward to carry that on when I go back to work...maybe get up 10 minutes earlier?
My fail-safe fall-back plan:-  it's just breakfast at the moment.  It's the Easter holidays.  That gives my perfectionist self the get-out clause to drink coffee with friends, have lunch out with the kids.  And if I run out of smoothie ingredients or time?  No excuse....just eat some fruit and take some nuts and seeds to eat in the car.  No excuse to chuck it all in and give up.  No excuse at all.
It's all in the planning.  Just got to make sure I have all the right things to hand so there is no excuse for eating Coco Pops instead.
Tomorrow I will go to the supermarket and buy all the fresh ingredients.
Baby steps.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

A blessing in disguise

Well, my back is still nasty thanks to a rather irritating cough that is keeping me awake and not doing my poor spine any favours, so I am taking the week off work.

(Absolutely no idea why the background text colour is a random lilac, oh well!)

It means I have three days before the onslaught of the Easter holidays to kickstart my plans - very excited!  I spent most of yesterday asleep, full of cold and achey and not wanting to move around too much, but today I've felt a little better.  I did spring clean the lounge however, despite the dodgy back, very slowly, but it feels good in here now, and I'm inspired to do the whole house over the holidays.

I've also been doing a lot of diet research and reading.  I bought this book last year, which I have been re-reading today.....

It's by Kris Carr, a cancer survivor, whose enthusiasm for real food is infectious.  Having been an advocate of a vegetarian raw food diet for many years (see a previous post and pic of my healthier self!), Kris's book caught my eye after I read an article about her on facebook.  I love her whole concept.  Some of it is a little impractical for me right now - overly costly, and I don't yet have a juicer, and some of the ingredients are not readily available in a run-down town in the UK, but it's something to aspire to, a direction to head in, a path to follow.

I also watched a movie called 'Hungry for Change' (  It's quite long, but well worth the time, as it highlights the shocking state of the western diet and food industry as a whole.  I also watched this last year.  You'd think I would have got my act together by now, having so much information at my fingertips...

Seriously, have a look at that video guys, it's on a free screening for the next few days - it's a wake-up call.

So...3 days between school runs.  A gift in disguise.  I have pen and paper beside me, jotting down a list of ingredients I need to stock up on.  I'm also stuffing my rather large easter egg, but it's got to go...can't have that hanging around while I'm trying to re-create my wholefood lifestyle.  Have also been trawling through Pinterest (who ISN'T addicted to that?) and re-pinning recipes that fall in line with the kind of healthy eating I want to get back to.

Tomorrow I am going to begin spring cleaning my kitchen cupboards, ditching the junk and making room for the new.

A bad back is indeed a blessing in disguise, and I'm feeling very inspired and motivated.