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.

Friday, 22 March 2013

A minor set-back of a week

Well, it's been a while since I had chance to even blog, let alone take some concrete action towards making things happen.

It was a tricky weekend.  My son had arranged to go BMX-ing with a couple of his friends for both afternoons, and my daughter was working, so I was looking forward to some bonus 'me' time.  Sadly the weather had other ideas and it chucked down all weekend, meaning that both friends cancelled (BMX ramps too wet, and apparently teenage boys don't go out in the rain anymore!), leaving my boy fed-up and bored - a lethal combination for Tourettes.

I took him into town and ended up spending a fortune on lunch out to lessen the time we were both stuck indoors at home.  He still shrieks outside, but it's diluted and less frequent, and the thought of bumping into Someone That We Know, or, horror of horrors a Teacher From His School, serves as a very adequate mind distraction for a while.  However, there's a limit to how long you can drag a 13yr old boy around a few shops in a small town, so I forked out on a couple of cheap dvd's for him and we trundled home.  It was a very stressful evening, relentless, and a long, long time before he slept that night.

After crying myself to sleep in despair, I decided that Sunday I would just take him out, whatever.  He happily pootles along on his bike while I walk, hopping up and down kerbs and speeding off, speeding back again - he ends up covering twice the distance I do.  When my daughter went off to work, we went.  It was freezing and raining, but we just walked and cycled.  For miles.  We stopped for coffee on the way, and we picked up a few bits at the supermarket, but in the end, we were out for 4 hours.  Result.  He was way better in the evening and was even asleep by 10pm.  Boy, was I aching the next day!

And then a bit of a set-back.  By Wednesday I was feeling decidedly manky - no voice, and a throat that felt like knives slicing it.  To cap it all, the special needs child I look after on a Wednesday decided to go into full kick-off mode and I spent all day trying to restrain him from alternately killing other children, and escaping the building.  Result?  I trashed my back and have spent the last 2 days in agony. 

I have a back problem at the best of times having wrecked it in a car accident when I was 19 and travelling Australia.  Curiously it can cope with any amount of physical sport, dancing, karate, you name it, but if it twists a certain way, all hell breaks loose and I can barely move.  I can go months with no problem, then one day I'll reach for the shower gel and bang, instant agony which then costs a fortune to fix.

So, feeling a bit sorry for myself today.  The voice has returned slightly, bringing with it a streaming cold, a visit to the osteopath hasn't afforded much relief, another round of that on Wednesday (my poor overdraft), and the housework has gone to pot! 

Oh well.  Let me spill the gratitude and be positive.  I'm thankful to at least have access to an overdraft, and therefore the money to pay to get my back fixed.  Feeling ill has re-iterated the fact that I need to sort out the diet pronto, and find ways of managing the stress.  It's all good, all another prod in the back to propel me along.  I'm also smiling hugely after finding a bunch of flowers and a massive Lindor easter egg on my doorstep when I returned home - a gift from my lovely friend to cheer me up!

I also logged into this blog this morning to see where I left it, and found a truly lovely comment from Debs Beschler.  Thank you Debs, can't tell you how uplifting that was this morning!

Please dear Universe, please can the cold and the rain go away now, and please can we have some sunshine for the 2 weeks' holiday over Easter, so I can get my boy outside.

I quite enjoyed our 4 hour walk to be honest, felt good to get some proper exercise.

I'm going to rest up this weekend, not moving too well anyway, and shift this cold, catch up on some sleep, make some more plans.  I have 2 weeks off from the end of next week, I'm really really going to use that time to clean up my diet - plan it, buy it, tweak it, find recipes, etc. 

That's my action goal for the next 3 weeks.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Getting cross with myself

So, I have a childfree evening and had planned to sit down and make some serious headway into creating a healthy eating/exercise schedule. 

Has that happened?

No.  Instead I've made porridge for tea, again, got some stuff ready to take to a friend tomorrow, dipped in and out of facebook, checked my bank balance, read some blogs, looked at facebook again.....and now it's 8.30pm.

Achieved?  Nothing.

I have notebooks and diaries everywhere listing 'the perfect diet and exercise schedule', all with start dates for probably every month over the last 3 years. 

Not sure what the blockage is on this one, when I know 100% that feeling better about how I look, being able to get back into all my old clothes and regaining my health and fitness, will restore a massive amount of my confidence and self-belief.

Yes money is an issue.  It's cheaper to have a bowl of porridge for tea than it is to prepare a lovely, fresh, wholesome salad with homemade juice on the side. 

Yes the weather is cold, and salad isn't doing it for me right now.  Yes I am tired and lethargic (undoubtedly the result of a shoddy diet).

But are they the real issues here?  Can't figure out the psychology when I am so passionate about 'real' food.  It's like a form of self-sabotage.  I don't get it.

So then I asked myself the question - 'if money wasn't an issue, would I be eating differently?'  I'd like to think that yes I would.  I'd have a breadmaker and a juicer and one of those Vitamix blenders that I so covet.  I could buy organic vegetables from farmer's markets and the local wholefood shop.  I could belong to a box scheme and have organic fish and produce delivered to my door....

Hmm.  Money may not buy happiness, but it certainly gives you more choices.

Hence frustration and crossness with myself tonight.  For being defeatist and disillusioned as much as anything.  Does a baby take its first steps, fall down then give up?  No it doesn't.  It tries harder.

Come on woman...get it together.

Two quotes are springing to mind tonight:-

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.  
(Theodore Roosevelt)
and this other one:-
Courage isn't always a roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow"
(Mary Anne Radmacher)    

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


We had an unexpected snow day today.  I live on the south coast of England and we rarely have much snow to bother with - one or two days a year as a rule - but today was a good one.  A bitter, bitter wind had caused the snow to drift in places, which left my little boy almost knee deep in it at times!

It certainly accelerated the housework plan along for this week, which is going well so far, leaving me a completely free evening.

 The next major change to my life is diet, exercise and self-care.  She exhales loudly.

A bit of background history first.

When I was in my teens, my diet was appalling.  I mean appalling.  I used to eat sugary cereal for breakfast, followed by a cup of weak and milky tea (I loved the way my mum made my tea, and I still drink it like that today, except I prefer it with soya milk).  Sharon and I used to stop at the shop on the long walk to school and buy as many sweets and crisps as we had money for.  I never used to take lunch, instead I'd stop at the shop on the way home from school and buy a pasty or a sausage roll because I was so hungry.  At the time, we took in students for extra income, so our dinners were often something with chips - cheap and easy for my mum to cook up and the food of choice for the young Europeans.

Unsurprisingly I had a dreadful complexion.  I was always really skinny, - flat-chested and ribs-sticking-out kind of skinny - so I wasn't too worried about gaining weight, but I was terribly self-conscious about my skin. 

I began to do lots of research and became very interested in nutrition.  When I left home, I turned into a bit of a health freak, and diet and fitness became a passion of mine.  I ate wholefoods, mostly organic bought from local farms, dipped in and out of vegetarianism, avoided chemicals as best I could, juiced, and drank pints of water.  I also did karate, played football for a local club, trained at the gym and ran miles.

This was me when I had just met my husband-to-be.  I was 26, looked 16, fit, toned, healthy, not an ounce of fat on me!

My babies came along over the next 5 years.  After the first one I gave up the karate and the football, but kept up the running and squashed in a fitness video here and there, and all was well.  After the second, I was running a business, running a big house and garden, bringing up 2 kids and becoming increasingly unhappy with my husband who liked to come home from work, wait for his dinner and slob in front of the TV all night.  Exercise went out the window and whilst I still ate pretty healthily and organically, I was allowing fast food and desserts to creep in on a regular basis.  By the time I left him, I was a size 12 - almost three dress sizes bigger than my average weight, and I had cellulite for the first time in my life!

From then on in, I've struggled with my eating habits.  I've been divorced for ten years now, eight of those I've lived on my own, and financially I can't afford to eat the food I am so passionate about, which depresses me a lot.  I feel really strongly, I mean REALLY strongly about the state of the food in this country.  It's shocking what you can discover about the processed food industry when you start researching it, and it saddens me that most food we eat isn't 'real'.  Even organic fruit and vegetables - whilst there are strict guidelines which govern how these foods are grown, there are none in place for their storage, which means they are stored along with other veg in big vats of slime for anything up to a year.  Don't even get me started on milk - the average child in their child years, consumes six wheelbarrowfuls of sugar just in milk alone...why?...why do we need to have sugar in milk?  And now, because the government are so concerned about childhood obesity, they plan to replace the sugar with artificial sweeteners.  It's what I have read, but it's frightening.

In the nine years I have worked in a school, the number of children coming through with special needs and disorders has increased dramatically to when I first started.  I honestly believe it has everything to do with what they are being fed - mine included, I hold my hands up and admit that my children eat a diet I am ashamed of.

But the honest truth is, I don't earn enough to be able to eat organic wholefoods anymore.  I try and make healthy choices, but so much of what we eat is covered in chemicals and processed in some way.  If only the government would subsidise organic farming and health foods instead of funding millions to the NHS to treat our sick nation....

I feel so PASSIONATELY about this.

Anyway.  Andrew felt the same way I did about all of this, which was refreshing for a man.  Where he lives in Brighton there are beautiful fresh and organic wholefood shops - hundreds of baskets of all different kinds of fruit and veg, lovely freshly prepared dahls and other dishes, shelf upon shelf of organic everything.  Heaven.  I used to love shopping for our weekends there.  (We did eat an enormous amount of Green and Black's Organic Chocolate though....and Booja Booja truffles...ohhhh). 

I had regained my size 6/8 figure very soon after meeting him, sharing the cost and reverting back to a more healthy lifestyle.  We used to walk for miles and miles aswell and I had been dancing Modern Jive several times a week for three years by then, so I was very toned again.  After he left so suddenly, I was so broken, I just couldn't eat.  I used to feel physically sick all the time.  I lost a ton of weight really quickly, then came down with meningitis, which just about finished me off.  My weight plummeted to under 7 stone and the doctor told me to do whatever it took to get the weight back again.

So for the last 3 years I have basically sat on my bum and eaten junk.  Partly out of fear of being so ill again.  Partly comfort eating.  Partly lack of money to buy the food I really want to eat and severe disillusionment with the state of the food I can afford.  Partly because I'm too exhausted to prepare separate meals for all three of us (my son likes most healthy food, but my daughter would rather chop off her arms than eat fruit and veg).  My body is a mess really.  I weigh nearly 9 stone, which isn't overweight at all, but it's all cellulite.  I'm still bony and flat-chested up top, but my bum is way too big, I have a muffin top and nasty, dimpled thighs.  My skin is horribly dry, I get huge spots, my hair is brittle and frizzy and I have shadows round my eyes.  I haven't danced for four years now, and the only exercise I get is walking round the block with my son to get him out of the house.  None of it is good at all, I have no confidence and I feel unattractive.  And for the first time in my life I look my age!

It has to change.

I have to find a way to turn all of this around.  I have always wanted to grow my own vegetables, for as long as I can remember.  I know it's hard work and plants get eaten and succumb to diseases etc, but I feel so passionately about it.  I have moved so many times that I can't put down roots in a garden and the cost of setting up a plant pot garden is just money I don't have to spare.

I will find a way.  Gradually.  Baby steps.  One step at a time.

I refuse to buy into the belief that once you get to a certain age you can't fix it, that all the cellulite and the untoned muscles are just all part of ageing.  I'm not prepared to accept that at all, and I'm determined to find a way to claw back my holistic lifestyle.

So this is my commitment to myself:

I will make slow, steady, permanent changes to my diet and lifestyle week by week, until I am once again living in accordance with my holistic principles.

Ultimately this means:

Changing from processed foods to fresh meals, even if I can't manage organic right now.

Scheduling regular exercise into my life.

Going back to dancing (my love)

Swapping chemical skincare products for natural, organic ones.

Buying a juicer and a breadmaker.

Growing as much of my own food as I can.

Taking care of my body, i.e. dealing with the horses' hooves that are meant to be feet, looking after my nails, exfoliating and moisturising my skin, getting my hair professionally coloured.

Each week I am going to make a change, commit to it here on this blog, and stick to it.

Please Universe, may I win the lottery.....


Sunday, 10 March 2013

First steps

It starts with a dream.  Add faith and it becomes a belief.  Add action and it becomes a part of life.  Add perseverance and it becomes a goal in sight.  Add patience and time, and it ends with a dream come true.   (Doe Zantamata)

Well, it is now 4.30pm.  It has taken all day to get this house in order.  I've changed the sheets, hoovered the whole house, washed most of the floors, cleaned the bathrooms, done several loads of washing and ironing, made soup, stole a truffle from my daughter's drawer (oops, that's not going to end well), and generally seized control of an escalating mess.  Admittedly a friend popped in for half an hour and I've done a bit of blog hopping, but still....a WHOLE day basically doing housework.  I've not even been outside.  No wonder I am under-achieving.  Has to change.
This is my first step, with immediate effect. 
I am going to fit all of the housework into my main working week, ie Monday to Friday.
Aside from the washing and kitchen chores which are ongoing on a daily basis, everything else will have to fit into that time slot, leaving the weekends free for quality time with the kids, and quality time for me when the kids aren't here.  That should end the frustrating time-wasting at the weekend when I feel I should be cleaning, but I really want to be doing something more meaningful, and ultimately several hours are wasted drinking tea and looking at nonsense on the internet.
However.  I am a perfectionist and I actually like the feeling that comes from knowing the whole house is clean all at the same time.  It's going to be a bit of a challenge to my comfort zone to do little bits each day, and then to not worry about it at all at the weekend.  But that's a good thing.  Challenging the comfort zones of my existing life is what this blog is all about.  Identifying outdated patterns that no longer serve and which are holding me back and replacing them with ones that are going to propel me towards my dream.
I just took a moment whilst I was eating my soup (leek and potato with tons of black pepper), to reflect on that pattern of spending most of the weekend cleaning, wondering why that came about.  Two reasons mainly, aside from being too busy in the week.
First:  When Andrew and I were together, I used to spend my whole childfree weekend living with him in Brighton.  I used to go Friday night and come back Monday morning, to minimise the void I felt when the children weren't here.  When he left, those weekends were interminable.  Hours and hours of emptiness when I was too broken even to go and sit in a cafe by myself.  So I cleaned.  The whole house, top to bottom, every childfree weekend.  It gave me a feeling of control when nothing else made sense.
Well, that pattern can be thrown out the window now.  I am at peace with being alone and whilst I still miss the kids, I need the silence to recharge otherwise I wouldn't cope with the Tourettes.
Second:  I rented this house from a friend who I met at sailing school.  We got on really well, she met the man of her dreams and was in the process of moving away with him, hence she offered me this house at a very cheap rent.  It's a 3-storey, terraced town house built around 6 years ago.  I jumped at the chance - it was far more spacious than the little house we were currently renting, closer to schools and work, and she said I could have it for as long as I wanted.  After moving 8 times in 8 years, it was a relief to think we could stay put for a while.  She left lots of things here for me, mirrors, the odd bit of furniture, tools, bath rugs etc, and a few things of her own in the loft.  Every now and then she would come over to visit us and take a few things of hers from the loft.  Then she began to come over when I wasn't here and take a few things - always hers, but the bath rug would disappear, the loft ladders went, then some tools, her post (which I used to forward to her), and so forth.
It freaked me out a bit.  She never took anything of mine, but it was still disconcerting to come home and find things missing.  Once she even left the backdoor unlocked.  Then she started taking extra rent out of my account without telling me.  Anyway, the upshot is that we fell out over the rent thing and haven't really spoken since.  As landlords should, she continued to text and ask if she could come and get some stuff, but then she would come when I wasn't here.  I began to feel uncomfortable and panicking about the house being a mess when she came, worried that she might use that as an excuse to chuck us out.  So I made sure the house was spotless after the weekends, hence the weekend cleaning thing.
I can't really change things at the moment, but I'm going to let go of that fear of the house being untidy if she comes in.  It is holding me back to spend the weekend cleaning, and I'm all about reclaiming my life back now.
I'll review this first step next weekend to see how well it has worked out.


Procrastination again

I'm torn this morning, between wanting to slob with my computer and make a few plans in accordance with the blueprint of my new life, and the dreaded housework.

The pattern of my life is such.  When my children are here, I don't clean much.  Partly out of some earth-mother tendencies and guilt that I should be spending quality time with them (which usually translates to the odd word here and there to my daughter whilst she is facebooking/texting/twittering/scrolling pinterest/watching TV, and nagging my son all evening about homework).  And partly because the Tourettes thing drains every ounce of my energy and if I can survive to the falling asleep stage without having a nervous breakdown, then it has been a successful evening.

That means that the cleaning gets left to the times when the kids are at their dad's (Tuesday and Wednesday evenings after 6pm, and every other weekend).  Being that on those two free evenings I am exhausted from the day job controlling dysfunctional 7 year olds, the cleaning doesn't get done then either.  Mostly I make toast, eat crisps, let the cats in and out a thousand times, do the ironing and get lost on the internet looking at motivational quotes and other people's art.

Which leaves these childfree weekends.  On Saturdays I like to have a stroll along the seafront, and park myself in the corner of one of my favourite cafes (I have several, depending on what day and time it is) with a bucket of coffee and the paper.  It's another form of procrastination, of course, avoiding the real issue of what I should be doing, which is making plans, and more importantly, getting off my backside and taking some action towards improving my life.

And so to Sundays.  Now I have a whole house to clean, three floors, three bathrooms, four bedrooms and a separate loo.  The frustration sets in.  Stupid woman, why don't you pace yourself through the week, clean a bit every day (I do, in fairness, clean the loos more than once a fortnight, and do the washing every day), then you would have a whole weekend to do more meaningful things.  Like sit in cafes and read the paper.....or perhaps have a new and improved life.

So, that is this morning's thought.  One of the first things to address when I come to make my plans.  Now...onwards with the cleaning.  At least it's good thinking time.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Dreaming BIG

The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.    (Madame Du Deffand)

Why is it when you crave chocolate, nothing else will do?  Having removed most of the sugar content in our house in an effort to 'do something positive' whilst waiting for the Tourettes appointment, I now find myself opening and shutting the fridge a zillion times looking for chocolate.  I have hidden some chocolate rolls in a cupboard for my daughter, but they are the jammie ones, and I don't really like those.  The goodie drawer is now full of nuts and three packets of quavers, but I'm not in a quaver mood.  Annoyingly, I know my daughter has a half-eaten packet of Thorntons Cocoa Dusted Truffles in her dressing table drawer.  To die for.  Only available to buy at Christmas it would seem (I have searched online, and everywhere is out of stock...even Amazon!) I bulk bought several packets at Christmas and shared them with my daughter, but sadly I bulk ate mine, while she practised restraint.  And I know she will have counted them, so no chance of sneaking one.  I have done so in the past and owned up, believing, you know, honesty is the best policy and all that (and knowing she would have counted them...) I still don't think she has forgiven me!
So my dream life.  I still don't quite know how I should be writing it down.  Anything to do with the Law of Attraction states that you need to write dreams as if you are already living them, so maybe I'll use that as a kind of outline and then go into more detail around the planning part.
I'm living in my dream house (dear Universe, please see additional blog posts for specific details) that I have paid for myself.  I can easily afford to maintain it, pay the bills and have the money to decorate it how I want.  It is a colourful house, full of love and laughter, and the oven works.
  My son has grown out of his Tourettes and spends most of his time in the great outdoors, riding his bike and doing things that boys should be doing.  He and his sister now get on great, and our family life is peaceful and full of joy.  My daughter and I spend many happy hours creating together, watching trashy reality TV and sobbing over impossibly romantic movies.  She has a wonderful boyfriend who treats her beautifully and he feels like part of the family.  (If this life takes a while to manifest, then perhaps said boyfriend is now her husband and grandchildren are imminent).
I am a successful photographer and an artist, making a steady and pretty decent income doing the things I love to do.  I spend my days capturing beautiful moments for people to treasure, and creating art that inspires (with some dozing in my hammock and a bit of shopping).
 I have a greenhouse and a vegetable plot and chickens (and a gardener who looks like the guy off the Diet Coke ad), and I can afford to buy organic food instead of the Value stuff.  I can even afford to have friends round for dinner.  
I own my car and I can fill the tank right to the top with petrol and do as many miles as I want to.
At last I can afford to buy clothes...and jewellery...and shoes, and I can wear things that reflect me, not my overdraft.  I shop at Fat Face and White Stuff and Joe Browns and go to Oxfam only to find quirky boho things for my house and to make art with. 
 I get my hair coloured professionally at the hairdresser's instead of messily in my bathroom and have a massage once a week.  I can afford to belong to a gym and choose to do all the classes or not to go at all if I don't want to. 
My cellulite has all gone, I am fit and toned, have pretty nails, and my feet don't look like horses' hooves.  In fact, I'm not at all embarrassed by them.
I have returned to dancing several nights a week, and am taking private tango and ballroom lessons (I have a dance studio in my house).  I've got some very pretty dresses and some very sparkly shoes, and my daughter and I go on dance holidays all over the world (particularly to Argentina to tango with those smouldering latin types).
My friends and I spend happy hours having lunch in vintage cafes, or curled up on squodgy sofas in coffee shops, discussing plans and ideas and life in general (and the guy in the Diet Coke ad).
My cats don't eat caterpillars and then vomit them over the rug in the lounge, nor do they miss the litter tray and poo on the floor.
I'm guessing that I really ought to insert 'find my true soulmate and live happily ever after' in here somewhere, but I'm a little disillusioned with men at the moment.  If  a grown-up, honest, committed man (taller than me, slim, plays chess, doesn't mind paranoid women with trust issues),  falls helplessly in love with me whilst I am creating all of the above, I'll happily insert.
So there it is.  The life of my dreams.  It probably doesn't sound overly 'big' in terms of dreams, I mean, I don't want a mansion or a boat or seven Gucci handbags or anything, but to me, right now, it feels huge.
Now I have to figure out a way of making that dream come true.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.   (Walter Anderson)

I've been putting off starting this post all evening.  I am a terrible (or should that read 'brilliant') procrastinator.  I've changed the kids' beds, done the ironing, done a load of washing, pfaffed around on facebook, read some blogs, wandered aimlessly between rooms....
Not that I don't want to give a voice to my dreams, commit them to paper or begin them, I do, I truly do, I'm just not sure where to begin, or how to write it all down.  Should I describe my life as it is in the future, as if everything I hope for has already come true?  Should I break down each area of my life, detail it as it is now, then describe how I want it to be? 
The good thing about writing this blog is that it really focuses the mind.  I've never been good at keeping diaries, I can write for England when I get going (though having children has fuzzed up my brain somewhat), and writing it all down in a diary not only takes up too much time, but also too much paper.  Plus, I can plan and set goals and write lists till domesday, (and I do so, year after year) but for some reason, when they're hidden away in a diary, I don't have any sort of oomph to make it all happen.  As far as I know, no-one is reading this blog (except, perhaps, my best friend), but the thought that it is out there, for anyone to see, somehow makes everything real.  This promise that I made to myself back on Day 1, now feels like I have shouted it to the world from the rooftops, and if I don't fully commit to this, then I am seriously letting myself down.  It's like having someone nagging at me constantly, nudging me forward, a voice in my head that won't let up.  I like it, this accountability.  It's good.
I've just done some more wandering, made some porridge (porridge?  It's 8.30pm for goodness sake!).  More procrastination.  There's a fear looming here, isn't there?  That's what this is all about.  Think.  Think.  What am I so afraid of?
The gap between where I am now, to where I want to be, seems huge, insurmountable almost.  What if I write all my dreams down and I can't do it?  What if I just can't make any of them happen?  What if I'm dreaming TOO big?   What if I'm no good at the things I really want to do, the things that have been mulling around my head for years and years?  What if the person I think I am inside has been hidden away too long, lost amongst all those years of trying to fit in, and now just completely incongruous to this life I have created? I'm scared, if I'm honest.

If you want something very badly, you can achieve it.  It may take patience, very hard work, a real struggle and a long time;  but it can be done.  That much faith is a prerequisite of any undertaking.    (Margo Jones)

Well.  As I see it, there are two choices here.  I can settle and wait for life to happen...or I can go for it.  Push through the fear, have faith...BELIEVE... Do I still want to be in the same place this time next year? 
No.  I can be better than this.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013


The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery but a process of creation.  You are not discovering yourself but creating yourself anew.  Seek therefore not to find out who you are, seek to determine who you want to be.     (Neale Donald Walsch)

I love quotes.  Always have.  They inspire me.
Today I am grateful for a pocket of respite in a week that has been trying.  A moment of calm from my son, almost 24 hours without a shriek.  Though his other tics are still rife, it's the shrieking that is the most debilitating, a noise that drives all capability of thought and anything other than basic functioning, out of the window, it's so draining.  He was asleep by 11pm last night, a vast improvement, meaning we were all feeling a lightness of step this morning.
I am still waiting for Camhs to refer me to the consultant.  I was promised a call today that never came, so I rang them.  Out on a home visit, doesn't work Wednesdays and a promise I will be called back on Thursday.  How difficult can it be just to make an appointment?  Just write my name in the diary next to a date.  That's all I want.  Five weeks ago, the diary was already fully booked until April, heavens only knows the waiting time now. 
Just hold on.
I am forever searching for solutions to this.  I read last year that many of the symptoms of Tourettes are caused by allergies, so I went on a bit of a crusade, keeping a food diary, eliminating certain food groups...I just couldn't find a pattern, so I kind of gave up on that one.  However, Milo's worst night this week (violent convulsions and ear-splitting shrieking, sniffing, grunting, constantly) was after he had had hot chocolate before going to bed.  Out of desperation, I banned all treats from his diet over the weekend, filled up the 'goodie drawer' with nuts, replaced tea and biscuits with tea and hot cross buns, and made sure his blood-sugar levels were kept charged with carbohydrates.  He was markedly calmer on Sunday, and Monday was shriek-free.  Tourettes tics have a tendency to wax and wane in severity, sometimes changing completely in character overnight, so this repite may just be a coincidence (though we haven't had a 'wane' now since the middle of November).  I also discovered that Milo takes his dinner money and buys chocolate from the vending machine at school instead of something substantial from the canteen.  Seriously schools, why?  Why spend a fortune promoting healthy eating and then install a vending machine in the school?  Teenagers aren't responsible enough to make the right food choices.  Good grief.  I made Milo promise to buy a baguette, and he did on Monday (finished it in the car on the way home!) - and Monday was shriek-free!  How wonderful if the sugar thing turns out to be a contributing factor.  I shall pursue it.
Work has been hectic too.  More teaching schemes to be introduced, more paperwork to complete, less and less time teaching the kids.  I've spent less than half an hour with the children in my class in 2 days, instead having to prepare resources and do planning for a new maths scheme which involves half an hour of extra maths tuition and an hour of unnecessary preparation and endless record keeping for each lesson.  Bah.
 I got to thinking about the quote in this post.  I do want to create a new life for myself, yes, that's true, but I also want to re-discover the spirit of the person I was in my twenties, wracked with insecurity, but bold and fearless in my endeavours, driven, optimistic, an achiever of anything I set out to be.  I was selfish and self-absorbed then, not particularly mindful of people's feelings, leaving a trail of devastation behind me in my search for affection and security.  Those parts of me I've left behind, I've learnt a lot and grown up since then.  The free-spiritedness, the bold, the fearless, the driven and the optimistic twenties me, I want to rediscover, and add to the grown-up me who is aware, compassionate, loyal and inspired, albeit lacking an enormous amount of confidence, and weighed down by financial restrictions and fear.
So, now comes the real work.  First I have to give a voice to the vision of the life I want to create for myself, being specific about the details.  Then I have to dissect every area of my current life, identify what is and what isn't in line with my vision, and then I have to start making real plans to change things.  I have to make real goals and take baby steps towards them always moving forward, always holding my vision clear, and commit, commit, commit to making this happen, until one day I wake up and find myself right there, in the middle of my dream.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Holding on

It's been a bit of a week really.  The Tourettes has been an ordeal to say the least, coming at full pelt with no respite and lasting long into the night before my little man can finally fall asleep.  We're all a little stressed and sleep deprived, and my daughter has come down with a heavy cold which isn't helping her tolerance levels.

Our only hope for help is Camhs - the child and adolescent mental health service.  It took me 4 months to get a referral from my GP who basically wasn't that interested, and then our first consultation was a little wishy-washy - (so my dear, how would you like to spend our time this morning?) Um hello...I have a shrieking child.  I can't fix him, otherwise I wouldn't be here....I was hoping you'd tell ME how we were going to spend our time this morning.  Anyway, she promised to refer us to a swedish doctor who apparently is the bees' knees with regards to Tourettes.  She tried to arrange an appointment on her computer, but actually couldn't work the computer.  I eventually showed her how to email me a presentation she thought I would be interested in, and I left, satisfied that she would send me a transcript of our meeting and a subsequent referral appointment.

Fast forward 2 weeks and still no communication.  I rang her and she said I needed to fill out a questionnaire over 7 days, grading Milo's symptoms before she could make me an appointment.  Fizzing with frustration, I managed to stop myself screaming at her "why did you not give me this questionnaire 2 weeks ago when I was in your office?'. Anyway, I kept my cool and assured her I would duly fill in the form.  It took 6 days to arrive, a faint, crookedly photocopied piece of nonsense - the information on which I had already sent her prior to our appointment.  I completed it and returned it.

Five days later, still no communication, so I rang again.  This time she is on holiday for a week, back next Tuesday, and no, no-one else can fix me up with an appointment, but a message will be left on her desk to call me.

I understand that there are funding issues here, and that all this jumping through hoops is a ploy to weed out those people who are really serious about needing treatment, and those who can live with it.  I've lived with it for years and now it's unbearable for all of us.  I feel at breaking point.  Sleep deprivation does that to you, as any new mother will tell you.

So my mantra today is 'just hold on'.  This too shall pass.  After the storm comes the sunshine.

My dreams are still swirling around my head, I won't let go of the hope.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.   (Dickens)

I'd forgotten how exhausting the first few days back into a new school term are.  Was planning on writing a bit on this blog every day, to keep the momentum going and to stay focussed, but after a difficult evening with my son (super-stressed and shriek-crazy after returning to school after a week off), just didn't happen.  I'm tired again tonight, so words aren't flowing as I would wish.
I wanted to write about gratitude before I start outlining the dreams that have been swirling around my head for as long as I can remember.
So often we complain about our lot, whether out loud or subconsciously in the thoughts we have, when honestly, if we stop and take a moment, there are so many blessings to be found in our lives.  Everyone is always grateful for presents they receive, an act of kindess or as a response to being served in a restaurant or a shop for example, but it is so easy to take for granted those every day blessings tied up in the mundane.
After Andrew left I nearly drove myself insane re-living our whole relationship in my head, going over every conversation, re-reading every text, searching for answers to endless questions.  Immersed in shock and pain and constantly analysing, I knew I had to stop before my life totally fell apart.  Among the hundreds of books I was reading to distract myself, was one by Eckhart Tolle entitled 'The Power of Now' all about living life in the present moment and the happiness that brings.  It provided solutions for dragging your thoughts back into the here and now when they spiral out of control into negativity.  It worked wonders for me.  Everytime I started analysing and re-playing conversations, I would speak out loud about what I was doing at that moment...'I'm just putting toothpaste on my toothbrush and now I am going to brush my teeth'....I'm driving along, changing into third gear now, I can feel the chill of the steering wheel in my hands, the sky is blue, oh look, there's a bird, hello bird, how are you today'.....etc...  You feel like a complete dork, but it honestly works.  At first I could only manage a couple of minutes before the questioning would start up again, but with perseverance, I soon managed to drown out the majority of the negative thoughts with positive out-loud chatter.  I started to feel much better.
Soon after that I began reading 'The Magic' by Rhonda Byrne.  Already a fan of 'The Secret' and 'The Power' by the same author, ( about manifesting the life you desire by changing your thoughts), I devoured 'The Magic', which is all about gratitude, and I can honestly say it changed my life.  The book encourages the reader to start each day by writing down ten things to be thankful for, and ending each day by recognising all the good that happened in that day, and then finding the best thing out of all the goods.
I couldn't really find the time to write such a list every day, but I made a conscious effort to mentally say thank you for ten things every morning....thank you for my alarm going off so I am not late for work...thank you for the joy of hot water to have a shower...thank you for central heating so my house is cosy...thank you for my health...thank you for my beautiful children...and so on.  It was an extension of dragging my mind chatter into the here and now, and I started to practice it every time I began to descend into negativity.  It worked wonders.  Soon I was applying it to everything I could think of and turning negatives into positives...thank you for the blue sky and the birds....thank you for my job, I am so grateful to have one when so many are unemployed...thank you for the money to feed us all every week (instead of ' why does the grocery shop cost so much?')...thank you for taking my man away from me because if that hadn't have happened, I wouldn't have been able to spend 3 undivided years with my children and have the bond that we now have....thank you for the gas bill because without it we wouldn't have warmth and hot dinners...and so on, you get the idea.
Very very soon, I started to feel real happiness creeping over me.  I actually started to feel real joy for everything in my life.  I've slipped a bit now on the constant deliberate finding gratitude, but I still start each morning with a big thank you for a new day, hot water, legs that work etc etc, and I always always end each day with a big thank you for all that is good in my life.  It honestly has changed my whole outlook.
So, before I start concentrating on the dream life I want to manifest, I want to express my gratitude for everything I have already.  For my beautiful, healthy children who bring me untold joy, for my own healthy body which stays healthy despite the rubbish I feed it, for the money I have that enables us to live in a warm house and buy enough food, for the car that transports us safely every day, for my precious friends, for the job I have that allows me to be there for my children, for my two cats who never fail to shower me with love, even when I get annoyed and push them away, for the gift of an intelligent and enquiring mind, for the drive and desire to improve myself and make the world a better place.
I am truly grateful.