I used to dance….

I used to go to dance class when I was young.  I went 3 to 4 times a week from the age of 4, until I was about 13.  I did Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Modern.  And I was very, very bad at it.

And no, I am not over-exaggerating. I was the tall, gangly, awkward girl in the back row, who always got the award for “Tries Hardest” or “Most Improved” (which frankly was a lie, but I think my teacher was trying to be encouraging.)

I was so uncoordinated, and I knew that I would never be like the pretty, perfectly proportion girls in my glass.  For one thing my feet were the size of plates of meat.

But…I really liked it and although sometimes I cringe thinking of myself flailing around, I do have fond memories.

My mum put me in dance class because I was extremely shy and slightly pigeon toed.  Well I’m only a little bit shy now (new people make me babble :)) and I am still slightly pigeon toed.  It was also excellent child care, as I could walk straight from school to the community centre (stopping off for a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds from the health food shop – gosh the things you remember heh!). and then Mum would pick us up on the way home from her work.

So, when my daughter had a choice of Brownies/Guides or Ballet class – I pushed her into Ballet class.  I hope that she will have fond memories like me and I am pleased to say she has her father’s genes and is quite good (phew!).

AND……..

20171207_182853I have started dancing again.  On Monday nights I join a bunch of lovely ladies and we do half an hour of Tap and half an hour of Ballet.  It’s glorious.  It’s hilarious. It’s good for me and it is so much fun.

It doesn’t matter that I am really bad at it.  It doesn’t matter that I am tall, gangly and awkward – because nobody cares, and I won’t need “Most Improved” certificates to keep going.  I love it and it makes me smile and that’s all that counts.

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To be young and ill…….Remember when?

bedRemember when you were young and single…. remember when you were feeling poorly…. you would crawl out of bed and phone work and say you weren’t coming in that day and then you would crawl back into bed and go back to sleep.

Sigh…..

Remember when you got out of bed…nothing had happened.  Absolutely nothing had changed.

The house would be exactly as you left it when you went to bed.  No cupboards would have exploded their contents all over the kitchen. And no miscellaneous shoes, bags and crap would have appeared anywhere!

The washing pile may only have a few more PJ’s in and not have got so big it started walking itself down the stairs.

The fridge and cupboards would still have the food in it that was there before you were ill.  The junk food would still be there.

The dishes in the sink would maybe be a tea mug and a plate, that you used to have some toast. Not a pile so big that it rivalled the Himalayas.

Nobody would really even have noticed that you had disappeared for a bit to recover. Nobody would have needed you to drive them anywhere, or cook them dinner or do anything.  Everybody would have left you completely alone, they wouldn’t have talked at you incessantly through your pounding headache.

The house would have been silent, completely silent.  No TV, no Tablets blaring Youtube, no shoot’em up computer games.  Silent…very, very silent.

And the most amazing thing is that you would have fully recovered, because you had done the sensible thing that your body needed.  You had rested, totally rested. You would bounce back to normal because you were young, and your body had been given the blissful time it needed to heal.

Sigh….

I miss that…..

I could cry that I miss that so very much….

Are we alone?

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-16 at 1.48.02 PMToday I had lunch with the gorgeous ladies that I did my study course with.  We talked and talked and talked.

We dumped all our worries, complaints, moans, triumphs and highlights for each other to hear.

“Oh my, I am so glad you feel like that, I do too!”  “That happens to you too?  I thought I was the only one!”

It is such a wonderful thing to be able to share our load with each other.  We all feel so supported and understood and relieved.

I have other friends that I am able to do this with as well.  And I couldn’t survive without any of them.

We all scurry and hurry along in our life coping and stressing and doing and sorting out, and seemingly doing everything right as a woman, wife, mother etc etc.

It is only when we take time to get together and really be honest with each other, that we can help each other.  Sometimes things are crap – and we don’t need to be pitied and patted on the head with “Poor you!”  What we need is a hug and a cup of coffee and a bit of woman talking and love.

Sometimes we are struggling with our relationships with our children or partner – it doesn’t mean we want to give them to social services or get a divorce.  What we need is good old raucous bitch session with our friends.

We need to connect to realise that we are perfectly normal feeling like a failure and in fact we are not a failures.  We need to express things in a caring and safe place and know we won’t be judged.  Otherwise I don’t think we can survive this mad hectic life that is womanhood.

So if someone asks you to have coffee with them – make time.  If you can organise to have a girly lunch – do it.  We need each other and we need to be honest with each other.  Because we are all just winging it and trying our best and feeling crap sometimes and feeling a failure sometimes – but do you know what…actually we are doing okay and we are nice people and it will alright in the end.

Love you ladies xxx

 

*Hidden* Changes

butterfly-2869792_1920In my young single days, I was probably a bit of a butterfly – flitting from country to country, job to job and relationship to relationship.

Then…..

I got married and had kids.

I reverted back to a cocoon – the cocoon that is motherhood.  It’s a very insular world, smothered in nappy bags, school bags and plastic toys  The pretty butterfly clothes were put away and replaced with comfortable clothes that were able to withstand baby vomit, sticky hands and playdoh.

As the children got older and became more independent, I started see the light at the end of the cocoon tunnel.  The children still needed me, but not in that all-consuming way.

I realised that my time in the cocoon was coming to an end and I could emerge again – maybe not as a pretty butterfly – maybe more as a battered moth, blinking at the light.

But I have also realised that during my time in the cocoon I have changed in other ways. I have survived 2 small children and they are still alive, healthy and not too messed up.  I have learnt to deal with so many different things on my own, under pressure and with no rule books.

I think I have come out of my cocoon, more independent and more sure of my self-worth.  I have added to my CV – time management, prioritising, working under pressure, conflict resolution, learning on the go, and working independently.

There has also been a change in what I want to do with my time. I want to learn, to grow and develop.  I want to do interesting and creative things – I want to fly.

Hubby is all a bit bemused by all this.  You see although he is a great dad – he wasn’t in that cocoon with me. He was just plodding along beside, not changing much, and he hasn’t had that life changing light at the end of the tunnel moment.  He’s just got a bit older – bless him.

So those of you reading this with young children – have hope.  And those of you in my position – join me…let’s put our butterfly clothes back on and take over the world!!

*Hidden* Danger

downloadOver the last couple of weeks, you may have seen woman putting in their Facebook or Twitter status #MeToo.

If you missed this, it was women sharing that they had been subject to Sexual Harassment.  What I got from this was that it wasn’t about the big stuff – domestic violence, rape, under age marriage etc etc.  I felt it was about women expressing the everyday harassment that we all live with.

When I first saw this, it immediately crossed my mind that every woman could put it in their status.  Even me – a middle class, white, educated, privileged woman.  Although we may not have experienced the more violent side of harassment (although many have) we still live in a society that is permeated with a sense of worry and unease brought about by inequality.

I wasn’t going to write about this in my *Hidden* series, as it’s such a big and ugly subject, but I couldn’t ignore the trend and it has taken me 2 weeks to build up the courage.

We all know about the big stuff and we all know about the visible stuff – whistling building site workers, wandering hands boss, etc etc.  But I want to talk about how we have absorbed it as women, without even thinking about it.

Keeping ourselves safe becomes second nature as we move into womanhood.  We learn from our mothers, our peers and from our experiences how to react to harassment and how to avoid harassment and how to keep ourselves from being beaten up or raped.

Have you put your car keys in your hands when walking to your car in the dark?  To not only use as a weapon, but also to get the car door open.  Have you ignored whistles, comments, and just walked faster or even crossed the road before the building site, to avoid the whole situation. Have you been shocked by a comment of a senior colleague at work, but just lowered your head and not called them out, because you need the job. Did your older relatives speak a load of sexist crap, but you were taught to hold your tongue?  Do you see young girls in skimpy clothes and bemoan your middle aged body, but then think, oh dear, hope they keep themselves safe?

Think about it.  Think about how we are always assessing the situation for danger and how we modify our behaviour to keep ourselves out of conflict or violence. It is another thing we pile onto ourselves – along with all the other things that are whirring through women’s brains.  And we don’t realise how much a part of our lives it is.

A really mundane example happened to me when I went to Italy.  I had to be at the airport on the other side of London at 4am in the morning.  So, I left the house at 2am. Driving along, the signs on the motorway declared that the junction I needed to exit was closed.  Well I got a bit freaked out, as I have no Sat Nav.  I decided to pull off the junction before and pull over and set my phone up to find my way.  When I did this, I discovered that all the places to pull over were full of trucks with truck drivers sleeping.  This worried me, so I decided to go further to find a place with no trucks.  I didn’t notice the speed sign and as I was slightly panicking I got flashed by the speed camera and have ended up with a £100 fine.

I was telling this to the young 20-year-old man next door, about how I was frightened, and he didn’t understand – he really, really, really couldn’t comprehend it.  He said that it was unlikely that anyone would have come out to beat me with a baseball bat.  And I tried to explain that it wasn’t anyone beating me that I was worried about, it was someone harassing or raping me.  And my ingrained built in self-preservation said that it would be stupid to pull up in a little blue car covered in flowers as a single woman at 3am beside a whole row of truckers.  Probably nothing would have happened, and the truckers were probably very respectable men – but I could not put myself in that vulnerable situation.

Because if I did and something did happen, then I’m sure someone would have said it was my fault…..

*Hidden* Workforce

Have you noticed I have a theme going at the moment? *Hidden*.  There are so many things that women and society don’t know or discuss and I have a burning need to have a little rant about them.  If you can think of anything that you would like me to bring up – please message me.  I am quite happy to have a good old moan about most things!

This week I want to talk about the women you see standing at the school gates.  Did you know that majority of them used to have careers?  BIG careers.  Some were Financial Controllers, some were Managing Directors, some were Creative Account Managers – I could go on.

I was a Business Systems Analyst!  Woohoo get me. Sounds a lot posher than it was.

Then I and the rest of the women at the school gates had kids. Whether we chose to stay at home with our kids or it wasn’t financial viable to pay child care or whether the option of flexible part time work wasn’t available – the result is the same, we became the most underutilised resource in the country.

Highly experienced, trained, educated woman going to waste.  Flexible part time jobs are an option, but they are usually junior positions, badly paid and soul destroying.  Or working in schools and nurseries as lunch supervisors or teaching assistants.

Now I am not saying that lunch supervisors and teaching assistants are bad jobs, I am just saying that if you were formally the Finance Director of a large London firm, then it’s not really using the skills and knowledge that you have.

Don’t you think that this is sad for the country and the economy and for the women?

There are big movements going on now in the world of women and working that I think are really important, and if you get time, go have a browse of Facebook and Twitter for the following:

#workthatworks and #cleanupthefword (f being flexible)

You might think that I would be passionate about this because of the kids. But I am not – I do think kids benefit from having mum at home, but I think kids in a good child care situation with a happy mum also thrive.

No, I don’t care what the kids think or society thinks.  I want women to be happy. I want women to be able to utilise all those wonderful skills and experience and feel mentally fulfilled.  I want society, the community and the economy to benefit from what these women can do.

I want this *hidden* workforce to come forward and demand to contribute meaningfully and most importantly to be happy.  So I shall be joining the movements and I hope that eventually truly flexible, adaptable, remote, exciting and fulfilling work will be available to all mums.

*Hidden* Pain

20170529_171514My Baby Girl has been getting tummy pains.  It usually coincides with a pimple breakout and an irritable mood.

She feels dreadful and doesn’t understand why I am not really sympathetic.  She hasn’t entered the full **joy** that is womanhood, but she is definitely on the way.

I should be sympathetic.  I really should.  It’s awful to feel like that every month.

But we are taught that it’s just part of life and being a woman and we just have to get on with it.  We don’t even really take anything for it.  We may get the hot water bottle out and curl up on the couch, if we have time, but we don’t go to the doctor or anything.

We don’t stop doing anything and we don’t usually mention it.  We just live with it.

But did you know that it has now been shown that the period pain can be as bad as a heart attack.  EVERY MONTH…..and we just get on with it, with a hot water bottle….EVERY MONTH.

I read this article about the new findings and I did shed a tear for my Baby Girl as she embarks on her journey and felt thankful that I am hopefully ending mine.

Please read it…it says so much.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/period-pain-is-officially-as-bad-as-a-heart-attack-so-why-have-doctors-ignored-it-the-answer-is-a6883831.html

What really startled me is the lack of research that has gone into alleviating the pain. And what is more frightening, is the lack of anyone really caring enough about the pain to do anything about it.

It is also a little our own fault.  We don’t sympathise with each other, we don’t sympathise with ourselves and we don’t demand help from anyone.

We just get on.  We shouldn’t.

*Hidden* Burdens

s0780296_sc7You know those old-fashioned adding machines, with the little rolls of paper that churn out every number you enter in a big list.  Well I have these in my head, lots of these are thundering away in my head.  But instead of numbers they are the lists of things I need to remember.

There’s been lots on the social media (see links below) lately about this Hidden Burden carried by the organiser of the household/family and let’s be honest, that is usually the woman – sorry boys, but it is.

http://luckyorangepants.com/2017/09/19/i-am-the-keeper/

https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

On top of our jobs, housework and childcare, this additional burden of lists/remembering/organising is silent and goes unnoticed by the rest of the household. And it’s quietly grinding us down.

Some (but definitely not all) of my lists are daily chores, things needed (e.g. new coat for my Complicated Boy), appointments (orthodontist, ballet shoe fitting), birthdays/Christmas (cards, presents, spreading the costs), long term goals, insurances/bills/bank accounts/savings, children’s homework/sports kit/uniforms etc etc.  You get what I mean – all the things that need to be remember and planned and organised and aimed for, are rolling around in my head, on lists of paper, on calendars and electronically.

All the endless little things that get done without anyone realising that they needed to get done.  All those endless little things that magically happen!

Did I burden myself with all these things?  I don’t know?  They just sort of became my job, because nobody else did them.  Why is it that women tend to take on these tasks?  Is it because we are usually the main child carer and houseworker? I really wish I knew why we do this to ourselves.

Well, anyway I am trying to push back with my household.  I am trying to make them look after their own lists.  It’s not working very well – but I am determined.

For example: I have asked Hubby to sort his own car out – insurance, services etc.  But whilst I was sitting in a little coffee shop in Italy (see previous blog).  I got the one and only contact from my husband the whole time I was away. “Who is my car insured with – I need to update it?”  I honestly looked at my phone in horror.  REALLY!?!?!?  I AM IN ITALY!!!?!?!?

Then I got another message from my Baby Girl – “Have I put money on the school lunch account?”  Well to be honest I had forgotten – it must have been on a list in my head that got squashed by all the other lists.  But notice that it was the other girl in the house that picked up the remembering.  It was an absolute pain to have to log on to the school and add money from my phone, whilst sitting in a corner of a museum I was currently visiting.

I couldn’t escape – even in Italy.

So, remember as you go about your business and you see those other Organisers (woman!) walking around – they may look a bit tired and frazzled – send them an understanding smile.  Realise that the lists are churning in their head as well and sometimes they can be drowning in it too.  Let’s not keep them hidden anymore. Let’s give the lists out and share the burden.  Well I can dream……

 

 

I did something naughty

ItalyI did something really, really naughty…  I went on a mini holiday WITHOUT my Husband or Children.  I know you are shocked and completely disappointed with me.  How could I???  Dedicated mother and wife that I am – hahahahaha!

But oh my it was glorious!  I can’t explain how wonderful it was.  I am still reeling from it all.

You see… a wonderful friend of mine is turning a big number this year and instead of having a big party, she decided that she would like to go on lots of little breaks with her girlfriends.  She invited me to go to Italy with her and stay in her family’s apartment in Trieste.  And all I had to do was get a flight and some pasta/pizza money.  Love cheap airlines – I got a flight for £60.  4 days away in a foreign country for £60.  It’s just such a hard thing to grasp as an Australian – where everything is so far away and costs a fortune.

But the thing is, I would never have been able to have this wonderful adventure without having a new Babysitter.  My wonderful mother came up and cooked, cleaned, washed and ironed for me.  What a revelation – such an amazing thing and I am very, very grateful.  And surprisingly the children behaved!  Baby Girl didn’t go all drama queen once and that has to be a record – 4 days without slamming a door!

Anyway, my friend and I spent 2 days in Venice and 2 days in Trieste.  We just wandered and chatted and drank coffee and ate pastries and pasta and wandered and chatted and absorbed the wonderful gloriousness that is Italy.  We had lovely weather, we weren’t in a rush and had no real plans – just went where we fancied at the time.  We didn’t even rush in the mornings and had cups of tea in bed.  Shocking and decadent and glorious.

It was gorgeous only having to look after myself…  I liked it….I liked it a lot.

So, we are planning to do something next year for my big birthday – but shhh don’t tell Hubby or the kids.

Arising from the ashes of Self-Doubt

Ta Da!!!  I’m baaaaacccckkkk!!!

Sorry, sorry, sorry.  I just haven’t been in the position to pour my heart out to you.

20170911_193224This is me since January, in my dressing gown in the kitchen at my laptop.   Attractive – NOT!

As you know (see last post) I was doing a course on Social Media Management and I am pleased to tell you I passed – but it nearly killed me.

Not only was I exhausted and stressed but I must say I crumbled into a big pile of self-doubt, un-confidence and felt like a complete imposter.

What on earth was I thinking, that I could do this sort of job or start a new career or even be this creative. Was I delusional. I am a boring, middle aged, mother of two – where did I get off thinking I could be a hip young new media type person.

I have been in my little rut of a life, completely in control of every aspect of my day and my world for 14 years.  To suddenly throw myself into a new arena was very disconcerting.  I haven’t felt so down on myself since my 20’s – it was awful.

But…. I did it.  And I passed.  And I have clients.  And they like what I do.  And I do bloody well know my stuff!!!  I’m not an imposter.  I even have a business card – hahaha.

So, all my lovelies, I missed you and I’m back – a newer hipper little wobbly, but more confident than before – heading off on new adventures… join me…..