Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Little Relief

It's the morning after. I'm tired. So darn tired. And the car's movement is making me more sleepy.

'...and this is the order of the day,' he continues at the wheel, 'we're going to test drive (this car) and (that car), and (this car) is brilliant and it's got (this) and (that) and (all this other stuff), and I can't wait to try (that car), it's completely electric, just like a toy...'

'Uh huh.' I look out of the car window, blinking at the sunshine. The flowers lining numerous front gardens merge forming seamless lines of colour; red and yellow, and orange and purple. I feel quite dizzy. And my head is mulling over the last 48 hours. Or I should say it can't escape immediate history. I am not very present. I am one of those merging flowers.

The memories are random and shoot like darts. Wine at 11.30 am. The Wensleydale on sticks. The straps of a new bra digging into my shoulders. The faces. The numerous hello's. But not enough time. The amazing discovery that jeggings are really rather comfortable. And the not-so-small matter of winning an award. It hasn't sunk in. I am still in shock. I remember shaking. I remember squeezing the hands of two close blogging friends. I remember saying s**t and thank you into the microphone. I remember all the hugs. I remember the celebratory curry. But most of all I remember the aftermath; sitting dazed on the end of the bed in the hotel room, responding to tweets, watching fireworks pop and sparkle and cascade through the opened window.

But one word forms at the core of my thinking. Enough. And another. Overwhelmed. And more follow, stringing themselves together like spaghetti. You've earned it. It's time to step back. You need to reassess. One of the things I enjoyed the most about Britmums Live this year was sitting outside underneath a colourful canopy of soft artificial flowers. There were flowers in wellington boots and flowers in watering cans hanging from the clear ceiling. It gave the conference a festival feel, especially with the wine and cake. And being in this space gifted me a quiet moment to reflect. I've been writing this blog for three years now. What now? Where next?

I've been forging plans. To do's for the house renovation. Lists for the summer; fun activities, the reduction of piles of admin neglected in the paperwork basket. In the months ahead, I want to read and work on my novel. I want to spot faces in puffy July clouds and water the over growing flowers. I want to spend time listening to the blackbird's charming song. But most of all I want to spend an uninterrupted summer with my daughter; it's about me and her before she begins reception this September. So I have decided to take a two month break from blogging and social media. I will probably check-in here and there, and I do intend to continue reading my favourite blogs, but I may not comment as much as I usually do (sorry). My head and heart needs this. I will be back in September with #oneweek; I fancy one last cycle, one final hurrah.

It feels a relief writing the last line of this post.

Thank you to everyone who reads Older Mum in a Muddle, and for all your lovely comments and support. Have a wonderful summer!


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

#Once upon a time - Alchemy. Part Two.

Once upon a time .....

I followed him up the stairs. He didn't smell too good, smelt of fags and ash; over his top lip, strands from his moustache - a fat wiry brush - hung, curling, tinted in a colour swatch of nicotine yellow. A long term smoker. Forty a day probably. Every other step, a cough and a wheeze, an asthmatic rattle all the way to the top. I remember only counting twelve steps.

'So this is it, ' he said, clearing his throat in the ball of his fist, 'take a look around.'

First a bed room, strange angles. Then the bath room, nice size, loving the position of the window. Another bedroom, this will be the master. And through a final door into a vacuum of space and light. That's when I knew, decided right there on the spot. Why wasn't Younger Partner with me?  The roof had been scooped out like a pumpkin; wooden beams crossed the ceiling and where suitcases and roof racks and boxes of bric-a-brac would once have been stored was a mezzanine kitchen. An eat-in kitchen in the roof? Now I loved that idea...  


A first property bought together. The first night; glasses of champagne, fish and chips out of the paper, a gift of chocolate cake from the neighbours downstairs. The joy of discovering a new area; Chiswick, Shepherds Bush, Turnham Green. The best Thai restaurant on Askew Road.

We lived here for seven years.

This wasn't any ordinary flat, this was a crucible made of magical stuff; where gold was fashioned from waste basket junk, where sapphires poured from the bathroom tap, where dreams bubbled in fairy wisps of kettle steam...

I shed my skin a dozen times. I ditched the DJ'ing, spent five years retraining as a psychotherapist. I never worked so hard; the late nights at college, weekend workshops, seminars, clients, personal therapy, essays, case studies; all juggled with full time jobs, those soul sucking rent payers. I found myself under proposition one warm July evening. A Friday. 'Would you marry me?' Younger Partner asked, propped on the edge of the chair opposite; his expression earnest, puppy dog eyed, a tad nervous. 'Pardon?' I replied, 'could you say that again?' 'Will you marry me?' he repeated, this time his cheeks burning lanterns, 'Er... er... yes, yes of course I will marry you.' I exchanged Ms for Mrs. Under the living room beams, early March gliding through the panes, my best lady and I were plucked, pruned, kneaded and painted; two wedding dollies immaculately sculptured for a big big day. I grew a bump, solid with fluctuation and hard movement. The day I carried her over the threshold, into the living room, it was if she'd always been with us; right from the very beginning. I battled the closing walls of post natal illness; our home a muted sunken place; my life pre-baby, a flaky shadow, alien, a distant memory. I began writing. This. A blog. A new existence; words, words, words... and I bade farewell to my thirties; hello to middledom and swathes of silver hair. (and cake).

There were parties; Younger Dad's infamous thirtieth. The beer stains. The bass. A five course New Years bash. A first birthday, a second...

And almost a year ago, after the sign said sold and the paperwork cleared, we moved.

So much change, different people.


Once Upon A Time

If you like my writing, you could do two wonderful things for me (pretty please);
1. Vote for me in the MADS (best writer). 2. Preorder my anthology, Seasons Of Motherhood (published in March). Thank you.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Out to Lunch

Have you ever sat in a jar of marmalade? I have. These last few weeks. Sticky. My skin ripening, a pale orange tone. I have a sallow complexion, I like to think almost olive, although I suspect many Southern Europeans would laugh at that assertion.

The heat. I love the heat, the giddy temperatures, the smell of sun cream, lolly pops, chilled beer. And after such a shoddy spring, I can't bring myself to complain about the dial soaring past thirty-one degrees. I hope it continues long into September, when golden leaves shine like the sun, and I'm a shrivelled satsuma.

With all this ghastly summer stuff going on, I've barely been near this blog. Writing is very much an indoor pursuit. And the words ain't flowing with the sunshine.... it's like scratching sentences with a fork.

Today, Little A and I stood on a cliff, below the waves and a little boat made for two, across on the horizon, the very faint view of another coast line. A signpost lent next to our spot. It pointed in the direction of the far away land. It said 'Autumn Term'. So Little A and I must navigate ourselves through the summer sea - there will be calm, there will be storms, but we must work as a *captain-second mate team (*I am the captain) if we are to reach the other shore in one piece. There will be play dates and parks and butterflies and fairies and tea and cake and lazing and staring at the skies....

And with so much to enjoy and do, I am taking a much deserved break from Blogland over August. I simply want to sit back and relish the time with my family. The garden awaits. As does wonderful mummy-daughter time. There are my summer reads, brand new, stacked on the book shelf. And there is my novel..... the only written words these next six weeks.

I will return - if I can stay away that long - on 9th September with One Week which will only run for three days from 9-11 September as I am going to a Writing Festival, and actually, if I'm honest, I'm worried I've run out of ideas to extend it to the usual five days.....

So until we meet again, when the nights are drawing in, adieu and farewell.

XXX

Ps. I am also cutting back on my blog reading, so please don't be offended if I don't comment as often over the next month or so. I will be back!  

Friday, 7 December 2012

Tasting Better

I have to say, that I like being forty two. It tastes better than forty one. Maybe I prefer even numbers or maybe forteee twooo just sounds better, rolling off my tongue with an air of grace and sophistication and cleverness, or so I like to think. I barely uttered forty one to anyone but with forty two, I generously hand out the number like it's my Twitter handle (or my blog page). I simply like being forty two; it's how a good curry should taste the following day or a perfectly brewed cup of tea or a moist, crumbly slice of cake. It wears well on my skin, a realistic fit upon the comfy rolls of flesh. Perhaps I'm accepting middle age? Perhaps I've stopped resisting the linearity of time? Or perhaps I'm completely deluded? 

Twenty years ago, I'd just stepped into my twenty third year. It seems offensively young now. With stars and hope and intensity in my eyes - amplified by precocious swagger - I thought I had life sussed. Dream on younger self. If I could wind back time, I might impart the following wisdom to the more arrogant, impulsive version of me...

On the other hand, what's the point? I could share such philosophical insights as to the paradoxical nature of existence - how life is as random and meaningless as it's connected and laden with synchronicity - but I know younger me won't pay the slightest morsel of attention. Just know this twenty two year old fledgling, it generally all works out in the end, and stop blowing all your money on records, you need clothes too!

Anyway, returning to the present, my birthday falls exactly a month before Christmas, and is usually a rain soaked affair. This year I awoke to filmy blue skies and a pale yellow sun at half mast, a sure sign it was going to be a fine day. And I wasn't disappointed, my birthday haul included a stack of novels and a brand new camera no less! Who's a lucky hen then?



Younger Dad, Little A and I went for a stroll in our local park followed by a succulent roast beef lunch with all the trimmings at a local gastro pub. It was a very relaxed celebration, and as Younger Dad had taken a week off work, it turned out to be a very eventful week indeed with some surprising and not so surprising realisations...

(You'd better be paying some attention to this twenty two year old me.) 

I'm now a veteran at handling episodes of vomiting. Little A began throwing up on the night of my birthday. It began in earnest at 3.00 am - I will wake up and throw up and wake up again, and then, I will throw up and vomit and throw up again - with the last hurl around 8.00 am. Apart from the initial burst of undigested scramble egg, no other changed sheets were necessary. How so? Well I cocooned myself in a warm duvet next to her cot, and as soon as I heard a sniff of a stir, a croaky "mummy", I grabbed her in a torpedo hold, raced her to the bathroom - making it by the skin of my teeth - so that she could take aim over the side of the bath. By 9.00 am Little A had returned to life, raring to go on a bowl of Cheerios...    

As mothers, WE DESERVE the finer things in life. I don't feel I need to add much more to this other than I spent quality time rehousing my sullen wardrobe and treating myself to skin care luxury. I felt very worth it indeed.  

Little A is very, very loud... 

"THE DOGGEEE IS GOING TO GET STICK MAN. THE GIRL IS GOING TO GET STICK MAN. STICK MAN'S IN THE SEA. LOOK, IT'S SANTA CLAUS - IT'S SANTA CLAUS MUMMEEEE. IT'S SANTA CLAUS!!!! I'VE BEEN A GOOD GIRL - I'M GOING TO GET PRESENTS TOO!"

These were just some of  Little A's urgent cries during her very first trip to the theatre. In case you hadn't guessed, we took her to see a very charming live performance of Julia Donaldson's Stick Man. It was a joy to witness my daughter's sheer exuberance as she whooped and cheered and added her commentary throughout the unfolding story. And so wonderful to view the show through her captivated eyes.

I CAN roll with the punches. Change usually bothers me, especially if it's big change, and I will procrastinate until the final hour. But by the end of last week, our flat was on the market, and by the end of tomorrow we will have offered on another property. Not in a million years would I have predicted this as the outcome of my birthday week. And I have really surprised myself at how, so far, I've taken this turn of events in my stride. It feels very good. The timing is right. It's full steam ahead as we've boxed, cleared stuff out, booked decorators and carpet cleaners, made our flat spacious and presentable. So it's been a very busy time in our household, and the main reason I've been so quiet on the blogging front of late... 

Do you like your age?
What things did you learn last week?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Reader Appreciation Award

I am a loyal friend, I am also a loyal blogger, and maybe this is why I was recently applauded by both the wonderful Midlife Single Mum and Bibsey for encroaching upon their comment boxes with ebullient regularity. I need to add at this juncture that I'm neither a stalker nor will I go all single white female on you - does anyone remember that film? Anyway, it's good to feel appreciated. Now I just need to work on Little A. I actually think this is a lovely award, but have to admit to cheating a little; as usual with these things, you have to answer a specific set of questions, some of these I just couldn't think of interesting answers for, so I've included a selection of the award's questions and made up a few of my own. You can find the original questions here.

Where do you do most of your writing/blogging?
In a perfectly square room bedecked with crammed book shelves and a lone, distressed bureau by a window overlooking rolling hills, green pastures and a lazy river dividing the neighbouring valley. I WISH. No, I type - ahem - my magic from the kitchen table overlooking the mess of toys in the lounge and a street littered with fallen leaves and the odd page from the Metro floating on the wind. I can usually be found at this locale during nap times - when they actually happen - and on most weekday evenings when Younger Dad is buried in homework.


Lately, I've taken to writing atop a cushion on the living room floor. As you can see, it's next to the radiator so I get the added bonus of extra heat. I seem to use this location more and more when Little A has quiet time reading books on the sofa - the best alternative I could muster to the flagging nap times - and during her hourly allowance of CBeebies before tea time where she'll pull up a cushion next to me for those late afternoon mummy snuggles.    



What is your favourite time of the day and why?
In all honesty, and this is going to sound very selfish, any time of day I get five minutes to myself - so that's during Little A's nap/quiet times, and when she's clothed in sleep. I also really enjoy late afternoons with Little A; this is the time we pull out the paint, scissors and glue (just look at our recent scary creation with the googly eyes and ferocious teeth), and when we cuddle up in front of the TV.




Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised at what you've found?
Well, if I search my actual name, Google lists my counselling website, and a variety of pages from this site. But more interestingly, according to 192.com, I am the only person with my name in the UK, so that's Internet proof I am totally unique, and why it would probably be a good idea to keep this blog anonymous, and write the novel I keep threatening to pen under a pseudonym.

One material possession  you could not live without?
My humble Dell laptop of course!

What is your dream car?
The Nissan Figaro is my Grease Lightning. It's neither fast nor practical for a toddler in tow BUT the Figaro is so aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. It's classy, rounded, quirky, for the lady wot eats cake about town, and I want one, and in olive green purlease. I don't think this car has ever been scrutinised on Top Gear, it's far too feminine!



Who would play me in a movie of my life?
Well this prompted me to ask the question - which brave actress would want to play me? Then I thought there might be a few '80's actresses dying to reinvent their career, so I thought Cher, no, not really, but Jodie Foster could pull off the roller coaster ride of my 20's and 30's with convincing aplomb. Fava beans and a nice Chianti anyone?  

Do you have any siblings?
I am the eldest of three. I have two brothers; one is a dancing doctor, the other is a rather talented fine artist and actor. But I was the one who loved books and music!

What is your Star Sign?
I am a Sagittarius - enthusiastic, honest, determined - make of that what you will. It just so happens I share the same sun and moon signs as Jane Austen, mmm. I'm not sure where I stand on astrology - my character completely changed after childbirth, and I must take this moment to thank depression and trauma, two happy symbiotic friends, for twisting my melon.  

Do you have any pets?
No, but as some of my readers know, I would love a pug! I have been keeper though to ladybirds, caterpillars, hamsters, fish, a west highland white terrier, a sliver grey tabby, and a very mardy ginger tom.

Any guilty pleasures?   
Okay, so I'm into the whole vampire thing - are you still reading? - and I'm a fan of True Blood. And I don't think I will ever tire of The Apprentice - it's so cathartic. Then there's chai latte, lemon drizzle, chocolate bread and butter pudding...

Now I want to take the time to thank those readers who've really stood by me over the last year, and some newish readers who've recently come along for the ride. Don't feel you need to respond to this, I know one reader in particular who is days away from welcoming her second child! (psst Mummy Plum)

Mummy Plum
Older Single Mum
Caught Writing
Lynsey The Mother Duck
Hello Wall
Multi Layer Mummy
3 Children and It
Three Years And Home
The Puffin Diaries
The Pretty Good Life
Bachelor Mum

Thursday, 15 November 2012

#One Week - Autumn '12 - And...

One Week pushes me into paying greater attention to the world around me; the colours, the changes, the unnoticed detail. But this project is turning out to be something else entirely, more than just a nature trail, it's becoming a kind of rite of passage - a personal festival - marking the events, crystallising my reflections, honing my intent throughout the wheel of the year...


This autumn, Little A has cuddled and demanded and lashed out and cuddled some more. She's rough and tumbled and tip toed and danced. She's learnt the difference between 'like' and 'not like', and used her new found understanding as sharpened weaponry with divisive aim. The other day, when I frustrated her with another "no", she retorted with, "I don't like you any more, I want my daddy instead."

I didn't take it personally, it's to be expected, but I was quite taken aback all the same.

As she races towards three, I suspect a new era is approaching, the dawning of a parental favourite...

'The age of daddy' 

I'm secretly hoping this is the case, it might let me off the hook for a while. I might capture some time to read that book, to buy that jumper, to watch that box set, to write that novel...


Meanwhile, I have written and written and attended Blogfest and caught a cold and made casserole after casserole and dreamt and laughed and moaned and upped my medication and had my greedy fingers in the biscuit tin and seen wonderful friend after wonderful friend, and realised..... it might be a rather good idea to chill my boots and indulge myself in a few worthwhile things, like reading a good book, like having a hot bubble bath, like seeing more friends, like going to the cinema, like S.T.O.P'ing and enjoying the moment with a fine glass of wine.
  

As winter beckons with bare, frozen arms, I turn to autumn to thank her for showing in such simple, fluid, colourful ways, how to reestablish my equilibrium and enjoy the fruits of this year.


This is the final day of the seasonal linky One Week. I wanted to say a big, big thank you to all those lovely bloggers who joined in, and those who commented in support of this new blogging project.

One Week will return next winter for another five days, 25 February - 1 March. So get your cameras at the ready and imaginative hats on!

For more details about One Week, take a gander here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full five days...


Badge Code ...

<a href="http://older-mum.blogspot.co.uk/p/one-week.html" title="One Week"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8436/7807711152_c1a4245128_m.jpg" width="225" height="169" alt="one week"></a>

Thursday, 8 November 2012

S.M.I.L.E.

Last week I decided upon a wee break from the blogosphere. And what did I fill the empty hours with? Well, playing nurse to a cranky little girl with a chest and ear infection, and bemoaning that I too had a blocked nose and spluttering cough. Maybe succumbing to a virus has been a blessing in disguise, as it meant an enforced break, to a degree, from this here blog.

So it's time to cheer away the Autumn sniffles, return to writing, and what better way than deliberating over the many silver linings from the past few days (and coming weekend).

Restyled, therefore I am. I really should have my haircut more often. A six month gap between visits to the local coiffeurs is a gap too long. As my hair flows beyond my shoulders, it's all too easy to tie it up in a knot and forget about the tangled growth. Ashamedly, and to the tut tutting from my late Grandmother, my scalp has rarely seen the tooth of a comb. So on Saturday, I removed the hair band, sat back with an out dated, over fingered magazine, and let the hairdresser sculpt my tresses. I never seem to finish the complimentary tea and Nice biscuit, my attention always seduced by the pages of Hello. Anyway, I was delighted with the results. Three inches taken off, my hair now bounces like a newborn lamb on a trampoline. A good hair cut always make me feel good, brand new, years younger. This morning, I dyed away the grey, and with that, all my neurotic worries about ageing, and my impending *cough* *cough* 42nd birthday wafted into the ether. Now all I need is a new pair of jeans (and tops, and jumpers, and shoes, and knickers)...

Blogging Conference. This Saturday I'm attending the Mumsnet Blogfest. It was a spur of the moment decision. I really, really enjoyed Britmums Live, and when I found that a number of my blogging buddies were going, I thought why the heck not? It's a date for me and my blog. And to anyone going, please hunt me down. I'm a very friendly, approachable sort of gal. I even have a nice S.M.I.L.E. Sold? I hope so! Additionally, I'm very much looking forward to meeting the faces behind some lovely new blogs I've had the pleasure of recently discovering; Grandad Came To Tea, The Pretty Good Life.

Novel Idea. I've had bursts of inspiration for tucking and tweaking some of the plot lines of my novel, Four Gigs. I find that it's really useful to let thoughts percolate in the background, and then ta daaa, my mind surprises me with improvements to the original story lines. I've also had a canny idea for developing my characters; a scrapbook on Pinterest. Instead of a lengthy exercise of cutting images from magazines, I like the idea of quickly collating all manner of character (facial, clothes, diet, hobbies), and location (streets, buildings, landmarks) details using a Pinterest board. I'm genuinely excited at how my imagination is shaping the story, how I find myself slipping into the shoes of my main protagonist, viewing the world as she does. I'm not ready to start the writing just yet, there's still some further research to do, but nevertheless, I'm raring to unleash my fingers on the keyboard...

To buggy or not to buggy. For nearly three years now I have pushed Little A around in a three wheeled Mountain Buggy. Given that I live in London and to my knowledge there are no mountains, in fact, not a whiff of a mole hill, I never thought this was the most practical choice of pram. I don't know why, but while I was pregnant, I handed over the most important decision on baby gear - the buggy - to Younger Dad and a battered copy of Which Magazine. I was hormonal. I was completely mad. But I wasn't totally wrong in trusting my husband's judgement either. The Mountain Buggy has been reliable, sturdy, fulfilled its purpose. It's also very, very heavy. This week though, there was a new arrival in our home. I am now the proud owner - thank you ebay - of a super folding, light weight Maclaren. At last, I can manage the crowds in Westfield. At last, I can tackle The Underground. At last, the escalator is no longer the enemy. At last, a whole new social panorama has opened to me.

A new blog. Last Friday spontaneity got the better of me, and I created The Adventures of Parsley Pug. It's a frivolous space for the sole aim of writing children's stories. Many, many moons ago, I conjured up the character, Parsley Pug, and Younger Dad has been pressing me to write the stories ever since. I doubt I will post that often, I don't expect many page views, but then I'm not that bothered, as this blog is personal, for me, my imagination, my sense of wonder, and fun.

One Week. This week, virus permitting, I've been gearing up for One Week, which begins next Monday. I've edited my photographs and somehow managed to pen a few words through the barricades of a fuggy head, tiredness and heaps of snotty tissues. So come to think of it, I haven't strictly had a break from blogging. Anyway, if you are at a loss for inspiration, please join in!


Now that was a shameless plug!


I'm linking up this post with Reasons To Be Cheerful, it's been a while!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

S.T.O.P.

The red traffic light tells me in plain language. STOP.

The slow cooker hints at a life in third gear, not fifth.

I've been told on a number of occasions now that I'm looking a little pallid.

The mirror confirms my skin isn't in the best of shape.

Yet again, I've neglected my wardrobe. Two pairs of jeans are in the bin, the third is cultivating a significant breach in the right knee.

Recently, I've fallen into a pattern of three posts a week. I don't know how this happened, although I suspect a latent desire for a surge in stats. I convinced myself writing practice is the overarching drive, which I'm sure, overall, it is. Or maybe superstition is tugging at my taupe jumper; I'm simply averse to the idea of an October tally of thirteen posts!

Still, something had to give. I can't keep up the pace I've unfairly set myself. So it was with sweet relief (and worry) that at the beginning of this week, I found myself clueless as to what to pen. My head, a blank. My imagination, in a stupor.

Between you and me, I was secretly pleased I was unable to join in this week's 100 Word Challenge as the prompt, a ghoulish recipe - in keeping with Halloween - didn't feel suited to the short story I'm telling. Then I did something liberating. I have a back log of memes I've been tagged in dating back to the beginning of this year that, embarrassingly, I haven't responded to, probably never will, and barring a chosen few, I just deleted them all. Yes, all. I do feel chastened by guilt at my impetuous action - and I am very sorry to those *bloggers who kindly thought of me - but it was the right thing to do. I felt relief. Maybe it's the time of year? Like nature in her current riotous dismantling, I'm offloading baggage. (*Please don't let this put you off tagging me, I just needed a clear out).

You see, this week, I've needed a little space, some downtime, some small separation from my laptop.

On Tuesday morning, whilst delighting at crisp blue skies, Little A and I decided an outing to Kew Gardens would be a jolly fine thing to do. There, we busied our time in the children's outdoor and indoor play areas. Apart from an alarming few moments where I thought I'd lost Little A, my feet frozen to the floor, waves of head spinning panic wracking my limbs, we had a deliciously wonderful mummy and daughter time together. We luncheoned on fish pie, ham sandwiches and a necessary slice of lemon drizzle. Little A befriended an older girl who clung to a cream teddy. And, to my surprise, she conquered the big curly wurly slide; "again, again Mummy, let me go again," she cheered triumphantly with rosy zeal in her cheeks.



But it wasn't until we strolled peacefully down paths lined with fiery autumnal bursts and the odd Japanese Pagoda Tree, that I found myself attuning to a more peaceful rhythm. And then, in the quiet, in the moment's chill, ideas for posts greeted me like welcome friends.

When my inner voice tells me to S.T.O.P, I need to pay a little more attention. Having a weighty expectation of how much I should or shouldn't write is no good for my creativity. "Just stop Older Mum", I hear the voice gently prodding. Okay, I will. Besides, I need to conserve energy for One Week!

So in an effort to trim my ambition, this will be my one and only post for the week.

Do you respond to every meme you've been tagged in?
When do you like to take a break from blogging?

Friday, 28 September 2012

Why Do I Blog?

I'm feeling a little out of sorts to day. I had a dream last night in which I punched holes, large and gaping, through the walls of my flat (Younger Dad won't forgive me). And I'm starting to realise this might be linked to something I've been mulling over, a question that keeps swimming to the front of my mind, and won't go away, the question is this ...

WHY DO I BLOG?  

Recently it's felt a lot like hard work. Like all the colour has rinsed out of my enthusiasm, and ideas. I've lost something ... some sparkle ... now what's the word I'm looking for? ... some SPONTANEITY. This morning I was re-reading a few of my very first posts, like this one, and this one. And you know what? I felt rankled. My writing was so free, so much more in the moment, unplanned. And something of that magic dust has lost itself somewhere, somehow. Don't get me wrong, I like the style in which I write, it's detailed, it's descriptive, but if I'm really honest with myself, I think it's lacking a little life. A little chutzpah. Maybe I'm just having a bad day... 

Lately, I've become a little too obsessive with prose, and words, and sentence structure, and like the dream, I need to take a hammer to the self inflicted walls I've imposed upon myself... And smash my tendency to perfectionism (it's taken hours writing some posts). And smash through my tendency to self criticism. 

Break on through to the other side sister.

Then there's comments. In the early days no one commented on my posts. No one. And there was something quite liberating in that. I could really write what I wanted. No need to impress (self imposed). No expectations. Nothing. Now I do love comments. The more the merrier (keep the blog love coming). I really appreciate the support, and the new friendships I've gained (my readers are lovely). And, it satisfies the narcissist in me - that self interested part that likes the external mirror to say, 'you're okay'. But I have noticed a subtle pull in my compulsion to write - do I blog to write or do I blog for comments? For the approval? For the affirmation? Of course I blog to write, but inkling tells me I need to step away from the attraction to the latter. That's not a healthy reason to pen a post.

So, why do I blog? Why do I spend hours in front of a flat screen? Well, it was never my original intention. The reason I started my first blog was to make some extra cash (don't snigger), but then I discovered the joys of the written word. And I couldn't stop. Plain and simple. Blogging has helped me to work through the residues of traumatic birth, depression, has helped to reconnect my mind and body, to excavate treasure from my thoughts, my imagination, to re-route my creativity, and to feel human and intelligent again after the birth of my beloved Little A. In a nut shell, and not to sound too cliched, I blog to both find and re-invent myself. I blog to breath. And now, blogging offers a blank canvas, a public tool for learning to write, a hope that I might dare to pen a lengthy story one day...

Writing this felt like a breath of fresh air. I really, really needed to do this. It's the most impromptu post I've written in a long while. (and it only took me 45 minutes).

Time to put a cuppa on, and spell check.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Side Effects

Nothing ever stays the same. Ever.

A sobering thought, yet a hopeful thought.

A thought I hold onto during challenging times.

Recently, I've felt caught in the snare of a rip tide, pulling me away from the certainty of the shore - sandy particles feet could burrow into, containing and stilling physical movement. Instead, I am afloat, rolling in conflicting currents, my limbs paddling aimlessly, searching hopelessly for a foothold, an anchor to safety. But there is nothing - no rope-like seaweed to cling onto, no fishing net to haul me to solid shelter...

...One week I felt fine. The next, I was depressed, again.


So over a week ago, I began a course of anti-depressants, 10 mgs of citalopram, and the side effects transformed me into a pair of old socks. I took the same medication nine weeks into my pregnancy, but because of acute antenatal depression combined with common pregnancy symptoms, it was difficult to decipher any side effects from the tablets the first few weeks of taking them. But I'm not pregnant this time, so the fallout has been clearly visible, and very tangible. I liken the side effects to a really, really bad hangover; tremors, nausea, fatigue, physical weakness, dry mouth, tense jaw, hot flushes, anxiety, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Not a pleasant cocktail I assure you.

Last Monday morning, the day after ingesting my first tablet, I sat on the sofa, my limbs trembling, feeling very sick indeed; I regretfully informed Little A that, today, all outdoor pursuits were off - thank heavens she's easily distracted, thank heavens for the indoor tent/den and tunnel I'd recently purchased as a well done for her recent emancipation from nappies.

Shopping, cooking, cleaning have proven almost insurmountable tasks as the citalopram took hold - it was hard to accomplish anything when my body and mind felt so unyielding, so leaden. Needless to say, Little A has been subjected to bowl after bowl of cheesy pesto pasta - fortunately, she hasn't complained.

As one day surely follows the next, I began to accept my fate, allowing my surrendered body to bob about freely in waves of medicinal symptoms lapping around my nervous system. I still feel nauseous and prickly during the morning, and my head feels stuffed to the skull with Younger Dad's boxer shorts.

BUT, something is afoot - I spy a phoenix ascending from the discarded left overs clogging the kitchen sink...

Yesterday I felt calmer, less reactive, more tolerant. Inside, I felt space - an inner relaxing. Even Younger Dad has noticed a change in my energy and bearing. I think I'm turning a corner. The sea is quelling and gently delivering me back to the stable security of land. I think I might be getting better...

The anti-depressants are showing signs of positive effect, flooding my neural pathways with much needed serotonin. Additionally, I've organised some short term counselling - being a therapist myself, and having already had plenty of therapy - I know how helpful this can be, and I've booked further acupuncture treatments.

So, thankfully, nothing ever really stays the same. Ever.

The emotional rapids of the past month or so have taken their toll though, and as you can imagine, I'm feeling rather run down. With this in mind I've decided to take a break from blogging for a couple of weeks - although, I might have a bonus post up my sleeve - to rest, do nothing, and to recuperate. It just so happens that I'm going on holiday to the beautiful Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall the first week of September which should provide the perfect setting to renew and reinvigorate.

Upon my return, the week beginning the 9th September, I will be launching a five-day seasonal linky, One Week. If you would like to join in, for all or part of it, you can read the details here.


I'll promise to send you a postcard! X.

Ps. Apologies if you were hoping to link up to Once Upon a Time this month - the linky will return in September.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Positively Cheerful - One Year On

Every week Michelle at Mummy From The Heart hosts Reasons To Be Cheerful, a little space where like minded souls can enthuse about the great and the good in their lives. I haven't joined in for a while - I've been both busy and lazy - but this week, as it's so sunny, and as I'm celebrating a significant landmark in my blog's history, I felt compelled to share my positive cheer with you ...

Firstly though, some good news about Little A. Her settling in period at the new nursery went swimmingly well; it was me who was treading water. The first morning Little A spent some time viewing her new surroundings from either the security of my lap or with her arms wrapped like vines around my knees. Several occasions she tried to cajole me, tugging earnestly at my hand, into investigating the various themed play areas, but I kept gently reminding, "mummy's job is to sit on the chair". My ploy worked well and it wasn't long before Little A overcame her shyness and began exploring the new faces, wendy house, paints and plasticine, fish tank, dinosaurs, and outdoor area with its sand pit and push rides on her own. There were no tears or tantrums on the mornings I waved my goodbyes. In fact, it was quite the opposite; she refused to leave when I collected her. One morning I was met with "I didn't miss you mummy". Oh, thanks. I must be doing something right if she feels this secure in my absence. I can now breathe easy and enjoy two mornings sacred leave a week from being a mum.

Yesterday, I accompanied Little A on the nursery summer outing to Holland Park. As the heat was so intense, not that I'm complaining after so many waterlogged weeks, we shaded ourselves under the canopy of trees lining the sports field. It was a lovely chance to relax in the glorious weather we're having and meet some of the other parents. My enthusiastic little Olympian took part in her first official running race. And then again, and again, and again. I held her hand as she giggled her way to the finishing line. She didn't care about the winning. She was bowled over by the taking part.


This week marks the first anniversary of my blog, or blogoversary as its affectionately known as. A year ago, the 25th July 2011 to be precise, I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a small tale about a large dog that'd frightened Little A. At that moment, I couldn't predict if I would still be blogging a year later. But here I am, twelve months on, tapping away on the keys, and with not one, but two blogs. And I have to say I'm very proud of what I've accomplished. I've discovered such a great outlet for my thoughts and creativity, swapping music for words. Who would've thought I'd end up attending a blogging conference let alone consider writing a piece of fiction. I think the first anniversary is an important one; it mirrors that I've made a dedicated commitment to my blog and writing, and long may it continue.

But do you know what I've really enjoyed and appreciated over the last year? Well it's you, my dear faithful reader. Your comments and support have been a joy to read, have spurred me on, and kept my new dream, of becoming a writer, alive. And even though we may not have met, I feel I've become acquainted with you, your essence, through reading the honest and eloquent words written on your blog. I met a small handful of you at Britmums this June. It was like a blind date with someone I already felt an easy easiness with. Like the snugly feeling when I wrap my feet in a pair of Uggs. Or the first comforting tastes of a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So, I wanted to take the time to say thank you for discovering my little home on the internet prairie and sticking with me. To my readers old, and new, a cyber high-five.

As my blog is a year old, I wanted to celebrate by challenging myself with a new creative project. I used to be an avid cyclist. One of the things I appreciated the most about my two wheeled adventures was bearing witness to the passing of the months; snowdrops and ice in February, daffodils and puddles in April, roses and downpours in July or russet leaves and foggy drizzle in November. So with that in mind, I'm going to dedicate five consecutive days each season to posting a photograph(s) and a few words which capture the spirit of the time of year. I'm naming my project One Week ...



And even though it's Thursday, I'm also linking up with Hello Wall's, Wednesday Witter.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

All Change ...

So far, this has been an emotional week. It hasn't helped that I'm clouded by premenstrual tension. As I write, another storm hovers menacingly in a whirlpool of murky yellow grey over the rooftop of our flat. The cloud is circling like the base of a UFO from a science fiction movie. It's reminiscent of the mother ship in the Spielberg classic, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind ...

Anyway, the main reason I'm feeling down is because Little A finishes her time with her childminder, L, tomorrow. She was due to end the beginning of August. But a few days ago L received some very upsetting news and she's leaving the country with her immediate family this Saturday. They'll be gone for three weeks. So it has all come to an abrupt end.

This sudden turn of events has made me reflect upon the importance of L in our lives; the positive and nurturing impact she's had on both Little A and I.

When we set out on our quest to find a suitable childminder, L was the first person we interviewed. Little A was only two months old and spent most of her time watching the world from the encasing comfort of a sling bound either to me or Younger Dad. Even though we met a handful of other very competent caregivers, I knew in my bones that L was the right childminder from that initial meeting. She was warm, sturdy, down to earth and possessed an easy friendliness I felt immediately comfortable with, and trusted. It also helped that L had superb references, and that the select mothers I spoke to held her in high regard. So the decision was made.

Little A began her settling in period when she was ten months old. This lasted a month; an hour here and a couple of hours there, until I felt assured that Little A was in safe hands. She began her first full day a couple of weeks shy of her first birthday. From there on L looked after her one day a week.


She's been going to L's for just over a year and a half now. In all that time Little A hasn't fussed when I've relinquished her in the morning. At the end of the day I'm always greeted by a jubilant little girl with a bagful of artwork. L has given Little A constant care and attention, consistency and love, and bowl upon bowl of Cheerios. Her flat is a treasure trove of toddler fun; the living room lined with boxes of stikkle bricks, books, dolls, teddies, make believe costumes, and there's a tent for extra special hide-away mischief. Every week L and Little A frequented playgroups, parks and duck ponds, and Little A's imagination stretched with music, painting, glue and pipe cleaners.

For this I am very grateful because sometimes I fall down in my mothering. I'm not always the responsive or patient parent I'd like to be. In many ways L has been like a special aunt; flexible and on hand in times of personal difficulty and illness, and there have been plenty of last minute requests for help.

And for me, that one day a week, that free space on the calendar has gifted a moment to breathe. Those eight child free hours have granted a space to recover, a space to write, opportunity to see clients, time to read, time to swim, and to reconnect with friends over lunch and a glass of wine. Most of all its helped to claw back my sanity and a clearer sense of myself after nearly two years hidden under the canopy of post natal illness.

And for that I am so thankful.

I'm going to feel very sad when Little A and I wave our last goodbyes. I keep reminding Little A that tomorrow is her last day with L. But she will remain in her happy world as she doesn't really understand. I however, will most definitely shed a tear.

Next week, Little A starts another settling in period at a local nursery. She was going to start in September but we moved the date forwards owing to the latest developments with L. For now, she's going to go two mornings a week, until, when she's three, the blessed fifteen hours of Government funded childcare becomes available. I'm nervous about the change. But I keep reminding myself that Little A's time with L, her nine year old daughter, and the other toddlers L cared for, has buoyed her with the social confidence for her new adventure.

In the meantime I will write L a glowing reference.


Although its Thursday, I'm hooking up with a new linky, Wednesday Witter hosted by Hello Wall.

Wednesday Witter


Monday, 25 June 2012

A Bus Strike and a Clubbing Experience

Typical. There was a bus strike. I was completely unaware of this until a helpful passer-by politely pointed at the electronic sign above my head. In red neon it shouted the words all commuters dread, INDUSTRIAL ACTION. Why the heck hadn't I noticed this before? Oh no. Not today. Not at the start of Britmums Live. I'm going to have to walk the long walk to the tube. And fast. Until the moment that stranger had redirected my attention, I'd been sitting absent mindedly on the unyielding plastic bench of the bus shelter for nearly twenty minutes, my faith in London transport still intact.

It was on my hurried half-run to the station that I finally became aware of the distinct lack of public transport snarling Uxbridge Road, and the unusual throng of frustrated looking pedestrians busying like ants in the same direction as me. How had I not noticed these glaring clues earlier? Then providence gracefully stepped in. I glanced intuitively over my shoulder and spotted something heavenly. A lone double decker. And it was rumbling towards me. I was luckily within an ear shot of a bus stop and flagged the renegade vehicle. A gasp of calming relief escaped my mouth as the bus indicated and pulled to the curb. It was packed but I squeezed on between stiff Summer raincoats and bullying shoulder bags. I'd made it ...

... And I was on time for the pre conference meet up at the coffee shop. But a large chai latte couldn't assuage my nerves. Britmums Live was my first blogging conference and it seemed like one giant blind date. Only this date had a narrative twist. I don't think I've been in a situation where I'm meeting someone in the flesh for the first time and they already know many intimate details about my life. What would my cyber friends think of me? Was there a believable and fluid congruency between my written word and the real life me? Would I lose some of my on line mystique? I needn't have worried though as this weekend I found myself standing shoulder to shoulder with a group of welcoming, genuine, warm, and thoroughly supportive women.


And the conference? Well I spent the first hour overwhelmed and rooted to the spot like a stunned rabbit caught in head lights. I don't remember drinking the peppermint tea or eating the lemon cake I held in each clammy hand. I do remember intently gazing at many chest lines trying to decipher names and blog titles on conference badges. I remember uttering "Oh I know you" and "I really like your blog" an awful lot. I also remember a lively conversation about the merits of True Blood and Twilight. Vampires are useful ice breakers. Adrenaline though can have a very over powering and surreal effect on the senses. So much so that the entire two days often felt like a nostalgic throw back to my DJ'ing days. The excitement of meeting so many new people and absorbing the collective positive energy of the 500 bloggers present had more in common with a clubbing experience. I found myself riding an ecstatic high.


The stuff that stole my interest included call to action keynotes from Ruby Wax and Sarah Brown, serenely dozing babes in arms that invited broody yearnings, workshops on the Path to Getting Published and How to Create and Market Your Own eBooks which appealed to my writing aspirations, copious glasses of prosecco and canapes proferred during the BIBs Awards party, and the Bloggers Keynote ...

The Bloggers Keynote was a truly powerful, and empathic experience. It was a joy to listen to each chosen Blogger's selected post. Their spoken renditions breathed life and electricity into their written words. Hayley from Downs Side Up received a standing ovation for reading this moving post about her beautiful daughter, Natty, who has downs syndrome. There wasn't a dry eye in the room.


And now its all over and I'm genuinely sad. I find myself in a melancholic haze. I think I'm having a post clubbing come down. For the first time my humble blog and I felt a part of something much bigger; a blogging community that is making a difference.

Life is about relationship, and it doesn't matter if this takes place on line. Because behind that computer screen resides a real person with history, worries, triumphs and losses, aspirations, hope, tragedy and illness, and love. And the energy of that human experience pulsates through the written word. And in that there is always connection ...

See you at Britmums 2013.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cheery Cheerfulness and Tossed Salad Chic

At last the sun appeared less shy this week and brazenly brushed aside the clouds. Still I've never known a Summer this UV challenged. And today its raining again. So I've decided to ignore all things damp, drizzly and wet and instead focus upon this weeks nuggets of positivity. I'm linking up with Reasons To Be Cheerful hosted by the lovely Mummy From The Heart where you'll find other posts that sparkle and shine .....

My Blog. I don't know if you'd noticed but its had an eye catching overhaul. I'm very pleased with the finish. It's simple, welcoming, clean and a little quirky, which is the look I was after. I really like the broken cassette tape, scruffy converse trainers and the splash of muted teal. The inspiration for the header was mine but the wonderful Violet Posy applied all the technical wizardry. And didn't she do a fabulous job? I spent most of last week frantically emailing her my ideas and demands for the perfect looking site; "could you add one more piece of scrunched paper over the r? ", "can you rotate the tape a little more? ", "the font size isn't quite right" .... I don't know how she put up with my constant requests and obsession with the tiniest of details. It must be tricky for a web designer to accurately interpret a client's ideas. Violet Posy's idea of 'quirky' could have been a world away from mine. Incidentally, I put the L into Luddite. You won't catch a me tinkering with the html and css That's why I had to bring in a learned soul to assist me with injecting some visual magic into this blog.

Fathers Weekend. We celebrated all things Younger Dad during Saturday as we were going to be with friends on Sunday morning. Anyway Younger Dad received a book, 'My Daddy Cooks' from Little A while I gave him a gift of speciality coffees. I made a firm family favourite reserved for birthdays and special occasions; pancakes oozing with full fat butter, maple syrup and bacon. Dee-licious.

On Sunday we went on a reconnaissance of Hertfordshire towns in a bid to choose the location of our next home. Letchworth, Hitchin and Harpenden all looked rather habitable but probably out of our price range. What we happened upon in Letchworth though was, oddly, Britain's very first round-a-bout. It was situated in the middle of a sleepy junction that was surrounded by generous grass verges and post war styled detached homes. I'm not quite sure how this historically recent town can lay claim to having the oldest round-a-bout. There was however a wooden sign post in the middle of the traffic island pompously proclaiming its ascendancy over every other round-a-bout in the country. It must have existed long before this leafy middle class enclave did. Younger Dad was going to make a left turn but I ordered he drive an honorary lap around ye olde circle of grass. I wonder if the National Transport Museum houses a chunk of turf from this slice of Letchworth's traffic history?

Somewhere near Harpenden we visited a Sunday Open Farm. Little A delighted in the daddy sized tractor wheels, sheep shearing and new born chicks. Younger Dad took her on a tractor and trailer ride. I waited by the sidelines with two beefburgers smearing grease on my fingers, the napkins were useless, while they took the tour of the fields perched on farm yardy hay bales. Both lunch and I had gone cold by the time they'd returned after a surprisingly long twenty minutes. Little A's enthusiasm had waned. So had mine. It was time to hit the road.

Britmums. Its finally arrived. My first blogging conference. I know I'm going to feel completely overwhelmed. You kindly read my words but what on earth will you make of me in real life? That's the part I'm nervous about. Now I haven't gone overboard with The Outfit. The ensemble I'm wearing is both casual and comfortable.

So dear reader I present to you the look I'll be rocking this weekend.

I call it Tossed Salad Chic, a thrown together medley of high street reliables from Gap, Next and M&S .....

Tossed Salad Chic



Thursday, 7 June 2012

Mid Point

After a very soggy and disappointing Spring its hard to believe that in a couple of weeks it will be the longest day of the year. In a flash we're half way through 2012. I'm metaphorically clutching an empty hour glass bewilderedly wandering where the time has disappeared. At the beginning of the year I laid out my best intentions. Now I feel its time for a retrospective of the last five months; to look back, take stock and realign my muddled mind .....


Auf Wiedersehen Black Cloud

Finally, finally, finally I can see a ray of bright, hopeful light at the end of a dark alien tunnel. The first two years of Little A's life were challenging to say the least. I suffered from a punishing cocktail of post traumatic stress and depression. But something is afoot. I'm feeling buoyed. More confident. A little more of the old me escapes into the everyday tasks and familiar routine. I still have crotchety days. Days where I feel hopeless and diffident about the future. But these are becoming fewer and far between. The intrusive thoughts have diminished. The anxiety has lessened. I'm shaking off the heavy shackles that kept me in a fearful, and at times terrified place. I have more energy and enthusiasm. More resilience. I'm breathing again. Ending the hormonal roller coaster of breastfeeding certainly helped as did taking a course of St Johns Wort. Additionally the longer Spring days always imbue me with a greater zest and positivity.




My Body

Back in February Little A and I finished our two year breastfeeding relationship. Not only do I feel proud about breastfeeding for this length of time but also in the gentle way I weaned my little girl. Reclaiming my body has heralded a physically new me. Over the last month or so I've bought new bras, pants, t-shirts, tops, trousers and a fetching pair of Converse trainers. Hell, I've even had a haircut. The Pendulati, my bothersome boobs, haven't returned to their manageable pre pregnancy size. This is very unfortunate. I am not happy possessing a spine bending GG cup. Thank God for under wired bras. Little A still harbours fond memories of 'baby milk' judging by the way she wraps her arms around the Pendulati and burrows her head in their fleshy mass when we bathe together. The other evening she caught me off guard by asking whether she could have some "booby milk". I thought she would've forgotten by now. It has been three months after all.  I gently reminded her that my milkshakes no longer bring the babies to the yard.


Empire Building

At the beginning of the year I decided it would be sensible to only see a few clients in my therapy practise.  This was the right decision given where I was emotionally. Now that I am in a much stronger, grounded place I would like to build my practise. But life seems to conspire against this goal. Firstly we are preparing the flat for sale and unsure of the location for our next home. We are also undecided as to whether we rent or buy our next property. Secondly Little A's childminder is leaving London the beginning of August. As of yet I have no backup childcare plan although I am considering a few local nurseries. Finally, aside from Little A, most of, if not all my creative energy, is subsumed by writing. So until we are resettled and I have a committed childcare plan I think it wise to stick with seeing just a couple of clients. Best to keep my therapist skills ticking over for now and build my practise at a later point when I'm on more solid footing.


Writing

Writing has gifted me such a creative outlet. I have two blogs, this one, and Older Mum. I haven't had the time to invest as much as I would have wished on Older Mum. My current thinking is that this project can grow by degrees over the coming years. Still its led me down some interesting alleyways of late. Older Mum In a Muddle though is my real passion. I am very happy with what I've written over the last six months. And I truly think I'm starting to discover my blogging voice, if there is such a thing. I think my writing has improved too. Incidentally, the on line thesaurus has become my new best friend. Best of all I'm really enjoying 'penning' my Once Upon a Time stories. In fact the back story of my DJ alter ego, Tantra, has inspired an idea for a novel. Yes, I'm seriously considering writing a lengthy piece of fiction. Best to write what you know about right? So given my love of music and psychology I'm thinking something along the lines of a psychological thriller set in the 90's house music scene. The protagonist and heroine is surprise, surprise a DJ.  I'm currently reading a great book by David Baboulene, 'The Story Book'. I also need to read some books on character development. Can you recommend any good books on writing fiction? I don't know when I'm actually going to sit down and write this. I'm hoping I might have an opening when Little A turns three and starts nursery.

So as it goes, this year is bumbling along quite nicely. I could do with exercising more and not helping myself to seconds of cheerios, cheesecake and custard, not altogether of course.

And ... Its my first bloggerversary soon and to celebrate I'm treating myself to a make over of this blog. So keep your eyes pealed!



Friday, 17 February 2012

Mashing Up My Musings - and poo.

Its happened again. I have contracted the fear. The fear of writing. This week I've had the dreaded bloggers block. This happened before Christmas and it was so frustrating. I would just stare at the blank page of a draft post and nothing would come. I would catch a glimpse of a sentence or a vague idea and then poof, it would disappear into a mindless smoke. Gone. Nothing. And I'm having trouble conjuring the aim for this piece. I can't think further than the next sentence. I'm begging the kettle genie to grant me one simple wish; to confer inspiration to get this post written.

So please bear with me. I think the only solution to my problem is to simply get stuck in and tap out something. Anything. Can you hear the desperation in my finger tips?

So after letting my head meander I've decided that this post is going to be a mash up of a whole bundle of thoughts; some about my week and some about my writing.

Week so far .....

At last warmer weather. 10c feels positively balmy. Mid February is having a heatwave. I didn't cocoon myself in my ankle skirting Winter coat today. No, instead I fleetingly braved the outdoors in a jumper and brown fleece on another car trip to the local dump. The recent chill had deterred Little A and I, well actually me, from taking our daily morning sojourn to the local park. Not this week. On Tuesday we felt warmer air on our faces as I cheerily walked and wheeled a chatty Little A in her buggy to the playground.

Wish I hadn't bothered.

The local council had sprayed fertiliser heavily laced with chicken poo over the flower beds. Great for plants but nasty on the nose. For want of a better word, it was minging; my nostrils curled in disgust at the rancid smell permeating my clothes. I promptly covered my pug-nosed pecker with a particularly itchy woollen scarf; I cant remember the last time it was washed. Its funny how the stench went unnoticed by excited toddlers and pre-schoolers. They were too busy swinging, sliding and round-a-bouting.

The mothers though, including myself, kept obsessively checking the undersides of shoes and pram tyres like newly appointed detectives, for clues to the origins of the offending odour. Strangely the park warden appeared to be heartily breathing in the parfume de free range hen shit as if enjoying a nasal colonic. I didn't plan on staying long. I only drew one chalk picture of an abstrakt Makka Pakka which was an artistic feat given I scribbled it with one handed whilst using the other to cover my nose. Little A was only given 10 minutes on the swing and then we swiftly left thankfully leaving the disgusting pong behind us.

In the meantime .....

The super sized sort out continues unabashed. This time I turned my attention to the mess in the kitchen. Drawers were cleared out, surfaces decluttered and corners cleaned of accumulated dust. The living room floor became a museum to old pots and pans, a coffee peculator and a breville sandwich toaster. Younger Dad said under no circumstances was the breville going assertively decreeing, "every household needs a breville!"

Anyway I boxed up a whole bunch of kitchen items which are to be stored at my very helpful mother in laws until after move. I am rather pleased with my efforts. The kitchen is now almost ready as we prepare the anti-tardis for sale. I think the local dump will hire an additional skip just for our household junk since our appearances are becoming that regular.

Part of the kitchen now looking alot tidier.

Writing ..... 

I'm becoming a tad anal about things and embarrassingly admit to the following;
  1. I use an on line thesaurus when I'm writing. I have a mushy brain so ergo its not full of clever descriptive words. I need back up. 
  2. I read and re-read my sentences to the point that they no longer make sense so that I end up rewriting them again. This is rather obsessive behaviour.
  3. I have often re-edited posts after they have been published. Again, obsessive.
I don't know why I am doing this. It takes the fun out of blogging. Its probably the perfectionist in me and maybe because I've started to acknowledge that I am a writer of sorts. Hell, I've even submitted two posts to the writers section on Love All Blogs. That's a statement of intent.

I've also been thinking about my blogging voice. What does that actually mean? Do my posts strike a tuneful chord or do they fall flat, off key? Would I read my posts? I honestly don't know. Now I'm being self depreciating.

So far the conclusion I've drawn is that a strong blogging voice means a degree of consistency in style but most importantly an honesty beneath the writer's words. My favourite reads all have one thing in common; their personalities really shine through and I have a real sense of the person behind the post.

Kate On Thin Ice asked a very pertinent question the other week;

"Do you think you are missed when you don't blog?"

I like to think I might be missed by some of my regular readers in the short term. But there are so many blogs out there and I can't help thinking of that old saying, "todays news, tomorrows fish and chip paper."

At the end of the day blogging is about writing for me and me alone and if I can let go a little more of statistics, who reads my posts and approving comments, then this could evolve into a very fulfilling and enjoyable hobby.

Anyways bah to bloggers block. Next time I get the fear I'll just upload a photo.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Britmums Live 2012 Meet And Greet

In 2009  I committed to marrying and spending my life with Younger Dad.

In 2010 I made a commitment to a then new born Little A to be her mummy until the day I'm baked in a crematorium oven and my ashes scattered over some unsuspecting shrubbery.

For some bizarre reason I'm now thinking of the Blue Peter garden. Does it still exist? They buried a dog there didn't they? Was it Petra or Shep? I wonder if its spectre haunts the corridors of the BBC in search of a final 'get down' from John Noakes and one last studio canteen doggy dinner? Walk towards the light ghost dog, where an eternity of Pedigree Chum and Blue Peter Gold Badge awaits you ........

That was random.

Anyways in 2011 I started a blog.

Then in 2012 I committed to going to Britmums Live.

I'm rather nervous; this is my first blogging conference EVER.

Please be gentle. I have a nice smile!

Name: Older Mum

Blog: Older Mum (In a Muddle) AND Older Mum - A Supportive Resource for Mothers Over 35

Twitter ID: @older_mum
Facebook: www.facebook.com/oldermum

Height: 5ft nothing - I was the smallest in my class but still reassuringly taller than the Pontipines.

Hair: A shoulder length mess of mousy brown, darker brown, hints of blond interspersed with flecks of silver. The silver is winning. Praise be hair dyes.

Eyes: Blue - no messin!

Likes: Custard, chi lattes, pug dogs, most exports from HBO (Lost, In Treatment, True Blood), hot baths, face creams, earl grey tea, cake, psychology, Mr Pontipine's moustache, fresh air, tai chi and yoga (when I can be bothered).

Dislikes: Intolerance and ignorance of mental illness, rudeness, marmite (meconiam in a jar), bin juice, the Wottingers, and Baby Jake - goggy-gi-ya!

I wont be coming in a swimming costume!

Ps. The Blue Peter Garden does still exist but now resides on top of a television studios roof in Manchester. Cant imagine it'll have an Italian sunken garden. Thankyou Wikipedia.

I’m going to BritMums Live

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Shiny And New

It's now the third week of January and I haven't set out my intent for the still new'ish year ahead. When I look back on 2011 it's like staring into the dank tangled undergrowth of a muddy wood or up a donkey's flatulent back side. Yes it was that life affirmingly good. So ta taa and good riddance to last year. I don't know about you but after all the decadence of Christmas week I'm usually too darn paggered (Yorkshire speak) for a New Years Eve celebration. Having said that I love the psychological watershed a new year beckons .......

By the end of the twelfth month I often feel like I'm trapped in a ramshackle room piled ceiling high with dusty disused furniture and mouse chewed cardboard boxes full of discarded rusting toys and sorry looking one eyed teddy bears. Then midnight strikes on the eve of New Year and I'm finally allowed to savour the Shiny and New Potion that is resting on a three legged table situated between the hypnotic ticking of an old oak grandfather clock and a skeletal coat stand. A door appears and I enter into a new cavernous room that is stripped bare of history. The sun's peachy rays warm and bathe the naked space through large sash windows.  The air is refreshingly clear and innocently scented with a newborn's delicate fragrance that invigorates my weary body.  I come back to life standing in the present and wondering what tomorrow may bring.


So the New Year always heralds a positive energetic shift for me and I gently switch gears. Ritualistically I always relish tearing out the diary pages of the old year from my filofax, yes I still own one, and replacing it with the virgin pages of the year ahead. I then calmly fill the empty dates with birthdays and planned holidays. So what will 2012 bring? My cranky bones tell me its going to be a better year than 2011. One thing I already know is that significant change is afoot as we are planning a migration from the 'anti tardis' to a larger abode in either the quieter suburbia of the home counties or possibly beyond. As long as there is less pigeon poo than London then I'll be a contented lady. A move is a big project. I also know that this year's underlying theme is about renewal and transformation and in the spirit of Kate On Thin Ice's inspirational Grooving Mums here are my plans.

Auf Wiedersehen Black Cloud
I had already identified that I was suffering from post natal traumatic stress and have healed much of this thanks to trauma focused EMDR therapy. However it wasn't until the end of last year that I finally admitted I've additionally been floundering in the turbulent waves of depression. I know I'm getting better because I'm acknowledging that I haven't been well, not just to myself, but to those around me as well. I'm also prone to SAD during Winter's short days and experienced a nose dive last December in which I couldn't muster the inspiration to write about anything. I'm contemplating taking a course of anti-depressants but I still see this option as a last resort and would prefer to lift my spirits by ....

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating a diet full of fresh fruit, veg, whole grains and supplementing this with mood stabilising nutrients like vitamin B12 and evening primrose oil 
  • Taking steps to ensure I have better quality sleep
  • Swimming, yoga, tai chi and walking
  • Some mind fullness and meditation
  • Having a go at some hip shaking Zhumba
  • Acupuncture which I hope will balance out my hormone levels
  • Writing honestly about my experience of PND, so stay tuned! 

Empire Building
Last year I set about rebuilding my therapy practise. I am deeply passionate about my work. I have rooms to see clients, a website to promote my skills and all my administration sorted.  However I am currently only seeing one client and things aren't looking rosy. Business isn't materialising and I think this is down to two salient reasons.

  • I am not ready to take on the emotional demands of more clients just yet as I need to administer alot more TLC on myself first. Additionally, I am a big believer in the universal law of attraction and the add age 'where attention flows energy goes', and I'm currently paying more attention to writing. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something?
  • We are potentially moving home this year and my intuition keeps signalling that it might be best, in the short term, to put things on hold until I have established some solid roots. Add to this that my childminder is moving away from London this Summer it's starting to feel like fate is telling me the timing isn't right.
  
So I have some decisions to make. I'm going to try and find a new childminder, continue to network and market myself but if nothing happens I'm just going to have to wait. This feels like a lesson in trust, patience and self belief that it will eventually happen when I'm ready. It may be that I have to volunteer for a charity again or find work in the NHS.   

Relationships
My relationship with Younger Dad needs a serious romantic rebooting. Although we knew it was going to be hard work our relationship still buckled under the strain unleashed from Little A's relentless demands and my trauma/depression. So some couples therapy might be a creative move to get us back on track. I can't help thinking it's still a bit of a conversational taboo talking to other couples in a similar position about the parental relationship after the arrival of a baby. Everyone appears to put on a brave face. We did. No one really tells you. And the NCT classes certainly didn't. Unsurprisingly statistics are high for divorce after the first child. 

Writing
Last year I set up Older Mum as an informative resource but then found myself writing about everything other than stuff to do with older mums. So the beginning of this year I made the decision to keep my personal blogging separate from the original site. I'm going to refurbish Older Mum and continue to publish related articles. This blog however is all about me ME me ME and I want to aim to post at least once a week. But, and this is a big skyscraper sized BUT, I don't want blogging to overtake my life like it almost threatened to last year. This would be a very unhealthy situation and make Younger Dad feel rather annoyed and put out. Twitter will be at the bottom of my priority pile. I have committed to attending the BritMums blogging conference which I am both nervous and excited about. I know I'm going to feel like a tiny nipper in a mightily huge pond.      

Reclaiming My Body
This is the year that 'baby milk' and booby comforting has to finish. I have let Little A suckle now for two years and I have reached my limit. Quite how I am going to do this is anybodies guess but if you have any clever ideas I am all ears!

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