Sunday, 30 November 2014
Christmas seems to have come very early this year, so I have decided to go one step further and get my New Year's resolution in pre-December too.
For the last couple of years I've written a fairly long list of pledges that have ranged from 'buy a house' and 'write another book' to 'become slamming hotty'.
I don't own a house and my last book was published in 2012. What can I say? At least I achieved the third, yeah?
Every year the list of pledges I don't write down seems to grow. I need to lose weight. Get my hair under control. Become more stylish. Be a better mother. Earn more. Work harder.
The resolutions can also directly contradict one another. Earn more money BUT ALSO learn to appreciate what I have rather than striving for more. Learn to love my body BUT ALSO shape up to the point whereby I could just wander into a Sweaty Betty catalogue. Focus more on my children BUT ALSO get my name out there more and write for the nationals on a more regular basis.
I'm so far past setting myself up to fail it's not even funny. When I think about all the things I have promised myself this year - and every year - I think one glaring theme becomes very clear, and that's that I feel I have to change quite fundamentally.
I've unravelled myself to the point whereby I can clearly see that I am practicing severe self-criticism, masquerading as 'self improvement'.
Every promise, every pledge, starts with the premise that I have to change something about myself for the better.
Every resolution hides a deep dissatisfaction with the state of things, the way things are, the way I am.
This year has been monumentally hard in many ways, for reasons far beyond simply having two very young children. As it draws to a close part of me will be quite happy to see the back of 2014. I will look back at some wonderful times, but some very dark ones too.
And so as I look ahead it suddenly seems very clear to me what my resolution for 2015 must be.
I want to be able to accept what I see in the mirror. Inside and out. I want to accept myself as I am, this moment as it is, my life, as it is.
So I suppose I'm still looking to change, but I think it's a change that is long, long overdue.
Saturday, 22 November 2014
If the plethora of motivational quotes over sunsets and willow trees that pervades Facebook and Twitter tells us anything, it's that we are all looking to be inspired.
I've got a bit of a love-hate relationship with motivational quotes. Some of them are patently absurd, and make no sense. Many are over-used - I swear to god if I see that bloody 'a woman is like a tea bag' quote wrongly attributed to Nancy Regan ONE MORE TIME…
But others do make an impact. 'It takes a village to raise a child', whilst not strictly motivational, has been a huge inspiration for me in recent years. 'Happiness is not a destination, it's a way of life' feels very applicable in my case. 'It is far, far harder to be yourself than it is to pretend to be somebody else' IS JUST STUPID AND MAKES NO SENSE. OK?
Just kidding. I get it. A bit.
And that's the wonderful thing about the internet. You can find inspiration in whatever field you so desire, and in whatever form you desire.
At the moment I am interested in reading, thinking and learning about parenting, health and fitness, mindfulness and holistic therapy, and crafts I can do with a two year old and a one year old whose favourite hobby is finding something messy, toxic, liquid and preferably smelly and highly staining and PUTTING IT IN HER MOUTH then running away giggling.
Here are some of my favourite sources of inspiration in those fields.
Aha Parenting - It's no secret that I'm passionately drawn to attachment and gentle parenting, after initially rather scornfully rejecting it as 'hippy nonsense'. Dr Laura Markham's site was one of the first that helped me 'see the light' and it's a regular and hugely useful resource as Cherry in particular moves through ages and stages. The UK-based equivalent, Gentle Parenting, set up by Sarah Ockwell-Smith is just as useful and I find myself nodding frantically along with so many of Sarah's blogs my neck hurts. Her book Toddlercalm was one of the first books I read that helped me understand I didn't have to change my beliefs to be, or feel like, a good parent, and that you could parent with trust rather than control.
Lulastic - Lucy's blog used to annoy the tits off me. I enjoyed reading her extremely eloquent and radical views, but I often did so just to irritate myself. I just didn't 'get' the hippy, attachment parenting vibe and it irritated me particularly that attachment parenting was SUPPOSED to be about sacrifice and making yourself a slave to your children and indulging their every whim and yet she always looked SO BLOODY HAPPY. I kept coming back because I wanted to 'get it' but I was too afraid of moving away from many of the rather traditional, fear-based values I was carrying around. Then not long after Violet was born I just got it. I understood that attachment parenting is based upon connection and respect, NOT sacrifice and martyrdom, and that as a practice attachment parenting is about your attitude, not about slings and boobs and bedsharing per se. Once I'd made that distinction I understood what I loved so much about Lucy's blog. And I understood that the parts of me I'd been almost ashamed of when Cherry was little - the parts of me that refused to allow her to 'cry it out' and so on, weren't weaknesses, they were my greatest strengths. I also found Adele's lovely blog Circus Queen really thought-provoking and useful in helping me understand and separate my true beliefs from social conditioning. Now I find myself the radical, hippy one in many circles of mothers.
Mothering - A really lovely US-based site dedicated to attachment parenting and the practice - the ART - of mothering.
Health and fitness
Bangs and a Bun - Muireann's was one of the first blogs I read properly and I still love it. I have followed this amazing woman online for many years and I never fail to be motivated and inspired by her.
Challenge Sophie - a newer discovery. Sophie, like me, works with adidas UK. But unlike me Sophie lives in Chamonix and spends her days cycling up mountains and becoming an Ironman.
Mindfulness and holistic living
Headspace - yep, I'm a Headspacer and I cannot say this enough, it has changed my life. I meditate every day for 20 minutes come hell or high water, or sleep (often I only have 20 undisturbed minutes last thing at night!) When I began I took the approach that I'd do it 'if I had time' and I wouldn't force or pressure myself. But to see the benefits of meditation you need to take it seriously. Now it's a commitment to myself that I refuse to break. It, and green smoothies, are two habits that have stuck. On the busiest , most hectic and most overwhelming day, when I don't have the time or the energy to shower let alone work out, do yoga or any of the other lovely things I promise myself, I still meditate.
Mama - and more! This is a blog covering all sorts, but it's the way Zaz writes about yoga and the impact it has had on her life that interests me. I check in every now and again to look for new posts on yoga, there's usually something there.
Mum in the Madhouse - I follow Jen on Instagram and I absolutely love her! Bursting with creative and crafty ideas, her blog is a true slice of creative family life. Quite often crafting, baking and the like is thought of as something mothers and daughters do together, but Jen shows what a load of old crap that tired stereotype is with pictures of her two boys baking, cutting ribbon, painting and creating.
Capture by Lucy - again I follow Lucy on Instagram and I absolutely adore her sense of style, her positive attitude and - well I just love her. Apparently I really like Lucys in general!
I think what all of the above have in common is that they show me what is possible if you follow your heart. They also show that what we tend to consider barriers to personal freedom and fulfilment - families, jobs, careers, children - are all part of the journey. So I suppose we're back to motivational quotes again, because these individuals all help me truly understand that happiness isn't a destination. It absolutely is a way of life.
Instagram is my current favourite network, such a supportive and caring group of mainly women, beautiful images and constant inspiration.
So there you have it. My little online village.