Monday, 20 October 2014

A List


I really enjoyed writing The List, and can't believe it was over a year since I posted it.  These small things do really make up a life. I'm very curious about other people, probably unusually so, and love to hear about the small parts that make up their lives.  My obsession with others' lives, and I think it does border on obsession, is to gain insights as to how I might lead my life.  I hope for little clues.

I am not so confident that I know how to live. I'm sure if I was I might not find other people's lives so fascinating.  Interesting, yes.  But I don't really know how to be "normal", how to go through life with self-assurance.   I still find it hard to feel that all is well and how it should be.  I have felt rejected in the past at times when I have been more "real" and so I often feel the need to put on a performance.  To put the Rachel show on the road!  Be funny or entertaining.  Or find solutions to people's problems. Or perhaps become a little like whoever I am with rather than like myself. Or, the exact opposite, I am so anxious to express myself that I don't really get to see or hear the other person.  I know none of this is helpful to myself or others. 

This is part of why I love blogging. Writing my own blog gives me space to get nearer to expressing my true self,rather than being a stage actor. It frees me to give myself more generously in real life. Of course, blogging is also a way to dodge the risks of real life. A way to distance myself. I think there is truth in that. But that is not all it is.  It is my personal space, where I can make sense of things and make myself known.  I acknowledge this is very important to me, for good or bad. 

I also love reading other people's personal blogs, and blogging myself gives me entry into that world.  It is that immediate familiarity and intimacy. People share things they might not otherwise.  I get such great insights into how others lead their lives. Real life relationships are better, yes, but not always. There is something so liberating about the blogging world.  There is the freedom, the space, to express yourself that is not always there in real life. 

I shared my blog on my facebook page last week and I did have to take a deep breath before I did that.  I struggle with the feeling of who am I to write about my life?

But who is anyone to write about their life?  

Why not me?

Why not you?

There is still so much that I hold back.  And perhaps it is just right that I do. There is a lot of dignity in not over-sharing.  But this has to be for the right reason.  Not because you are ashamed to reveal yourself, or don't feel worthy, but because you are self-asssured enough to feel you don't have to.

Right now I am still exploring and experimenting with what to reveal and what not to, in real life and on here. I am trying to get in touch with what feels right to me, rather than worrying about what others think.  I'm not quite there yet.

Getting back to the List, I really  hope any readers will share their list with me too. 

I want to know what a life is made of.

So wow. That turned into an essay. 

Time for The List.


making : want to make these pants for the babe.  Problem...I can't sew....


cooking : not much with a small baby in tow.  Some rushed soup, and lots and lots of trashy sliced white bread toast for that comfort feeling.  Sometimes at 4 in the morning. 

drinking : tea, and fennel tea for the windy baby.

reading : Donna Leon's books about a Venetian detective.  Good, not brilliant but brings me back to the brilliant holiday in Venice in 2012.

wanting : to be accepting

looking : more closely. I want to pay more attention.

playing : Not much playing

needing : To play more

bookmarking: furniture ideas on Pinterest and Etsy

wasting : time stressing about little things

sowing : is it too late to sow chard and kale??

wishing : that I could get back those years

But

knowing : you need to live it to learn it

enjoying : not being pregnant any more

waiting : I find it so hard to wait

liking : that I'm realising the value of relationships, rather than just being an individual

wondering : what Iona will look like as she grows

loving : the early baby days,  there is no happier time in my life for me

hoping : I don't want to hope it will be so. I want to make it so

marvelling : at how much of a fully formed person a baby is 

smelling : that intense smell of baby head

wearing : elasticated pants

listening: To the Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac.  "Damn your love, damn your lies!" Could it be my favourite?  It reminds me too of my sister Chris and how she always loved music, especially anything uplifting and poppy, and singing and dancing.

following : Austin Kleon

noticing : how a little kindness goes a long way

thinking : when people accept me the way I am, and let me find my own solutions, it gives me the freedom to grow

opening : The Parenting Effectiveness Training workbook as we are both doing this course at Bay's school.  Now I know what made therapy so good - same skills used.

watching: Game of Thrones and The Killing 3.  But now the computer has swallowed the disc! 


laughing : at the baby's expressions

feeling: a bit lonely, a lot optimistic

What's on your List?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Winning the lottery

Shortly after birth
My fingers were itching to start blogging again.  It's not easy with a newborn. In fact I think I just heard a little squawk so this post will be abandoned shortly I'm sure.

During my pregnancy I had zero energy, well just enough to get through the bare bones of the day to day.  Blogging was just not on my radar.  I barely had the energy to think, not to mind write.

Since having Iona though I am full of energy.  I swear it was like she was born and I immediately felt I could dance a jig or run a mile. Or something. My mind is racing with all the things I could do.  I am dying to be out and about and so happy to feel I am now getting on with the rest of my life.

She is lovely by the way.  But not the placid, relaxed baby I hoped she might be.  But of course she is perfectly herself - full of character…(as predicted I had to abandon the post and it is now a week later). Anyway she is a gorgeous and serious little baby.  And after 3 miscarriages I do have a very strong appreciation and love for what a survivor she is.  That we all are. I think of the times I saw the empty second swing in the garden, or watched Bay push her imaginary little sister (a doll) on it, not knowing if she would ever have a real one. 

Iona suffers with some reflux but we are getting through it with some rantitidine (acid suppressant), keeping her upright, and I've started on fennel tea.  Oh, I really don't like herbal tea at all.  Strong, sweet, black builders tea for me all the way.
Skin to skin moments after birth
Iona was born by a planned caesarean section, on my request.  Bay was a true shoulder dystocia (where the head is born but the shoulder is stuck behind the pelvic bone) which is a medical emergency.  I weighed up all the risks and decided I wanted a c section.  And Iona's shoulder was stuck as well. They had to use the forceps even though she was born by c section!  
View from the theatre
It was actually a lovely experience.  I had a birth plan which ensured careful placing of the drip etc to facilitate immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping etc.  The medical team were amazing and gave her straight to me without any checks until later that day. The recovery wasn't so great, but at least it was very quick.

First day at school 

Bay is absolutely thrilled to be a big sister and if anything gives Iona too much love if there was such a thing.


She has started school now, a week after Iona's birth, and loves it. Education in the UK is not going in a very good direction with tests for 4 year olds and lots of pressure for reading and maths. So we made a decision to send her to a different kind of school.  It is a lovely place, which has a "curiosity based" and "child-centred" approach to learning. There is no set curriculum.  Basically the learning starts with something that sparks the childrens' interest - the teacher has no set idea about what they are going to learn.  It's about learning how to learn. This is the way we learn in real life.  Something interests us and we make inquiries about it. I think it is a lot more authentic and meaningful to be educated this way, rather than being taught to a set curriculum. We are very lucky to be able to send her there for the moment - unfortunately it is a fee paying school.  I wish every child could be educated in that way.

A "WTF" moment
Having a baby second time round is easier for me.  I think I've already had all the WTF moments and have either figured things out or just know that things are just unfigureable….!!
Yes I am still tired and sleep deprived but I just don't seem to mind that much.  I also have a very real understanding that everything does pass, and so quickly too.  I am loving it really - I feel I have a real role and purpose at the moment and that is so satisfying.

I am happy.  We don't have much money, and I worry about our present and our future.  We won't have any inheritances at all or a decent (or any) pensions.  I would really love to be a stay at home parent, at least for the first few years.  At the moment this isn't possible, though I can manage  15 months or so, and perhaps we can figure something out to help me stay home a bit longer. Like many people I dream about winning the lottery. 

But then again I think I already have.  x


Monday, 1 September 2014

Iona

Iona is here at last.
I haven't felt like blogging all pregnancy. Feel I might again soon though, looking forward to it.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Settle

Settle

Afloat, waiting, you quietly 
persist.

Promise me you'll 
settle.

                            ..............................................................

Listen,

I know all about 
promises made and received
sincerely.

Dropped like anchors in 
unsettled waters.

I've been there when the holding 
ropes, knit so tight to 
fix us fast,

chafe and unravel in 
ferocious storms. Rip 
apart at breaking strength.

Set adrift to take
my chances, to stay lost in 
the outer reaches, or 
make it back to shore.

Free as the wind 
and just as secure. 

I made it back, in 
the end. Not always home, 
but to unexpected shores.

What I mean is, I've taken 
my chances. I'll take them 
again.

Promises won't hold me.

So, I set myself adrift

with hope.

                      ..............................................................................................

Here is my hope. I hope 
you settle.

Inspired by Paula Meehan, "Playing House".
"Home, you say, let this be
a home for you. Unpack your clothes, hang them
beside mine. Put your sharp 
knife in my kitchen, your books
in my stacks. Let your face
share my mirrors. Light
fires in my hearth. Your talismans
are welcome. Break bread
with me. Settle. Settle."

                    __________________________________________

I'm hoping to have another baby at the end of the summer.  Hoping, not expecting, you see. Though it's looking likely. Bay is mostly happy, while not being sure for a while if we needed another baby. Despite lobbying for one for an age ("But, I didn't really MEAN it!!").  She is busy planning all the things she can teach the baby, like forward rolls and singing.
Perhaps I'll start knitting.  That's a big thing, knitting for a child that isn't here yet. How about this smock?
 
From: Rosylittlethings

Monday, 24 March 2014

4!






You are :-
  • exuberant, physical, loud
  • emotional
  • honest
  • vulnerable
  • funny
  • a champion sulker
  • opinionated
  • a great negotiater
  • a singer, dancer, muscian, artist, maker and doer
  • confident
  • talkative
  • going through a pink and pretty phase
  • very proud
  • curious
  • patient
  • impatient
  • reluctant to go to bed at night - but you do go
  • determined to do almost everything yourself...although not dressing for some reason
You:-
  • love company
  • can ride your new birthday pedal bike 
  • love anything sweet
  • resist control
  • love balancing and climbing
  • come into us every morning, and always give me a kiss before you go for breakfast
  • will give things a go, even if you think you will fail...sometimes with persuasion
  • have lots of imaginary friends
  • still have squashy cheeks and tiny hands
Happy 4th birthday!

Love Mam x

PS I've just spotted there are 5 candles on that cake! Ha ha!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Joy pockets

Source: here
I'm bringing back joy pockets.

I want to focus on the good in my life for a while.

Because I have been too focused on the bad.

Things have gone wrong in my life, as with all lives I am sure, in childhood and otherwise, but it's made me live in fear of things going wrong again. I try to protect myself and stay in control by imagining and preparing for the worst. 
Worst case scenarios.

But I never imagine and prepare for the best.
Best case scenarios.

I think I've numbed myself, lived a half life in shadow.  

And I think we all see what we want to see. And because I've made myself focus on the bad, well, surprise surprise, it seems that's what I see.

Now I'm not talking about the cult of positivity though - where everything that goes wrong is your own fault because you just weren't positive enough.

No.  Bad things just happen sometimes.
Bad things.

But just because you tried to prepare for that worst case scenario, imagined that monster truck careering down the road towards you, doesn't mean it won't hurt you when it hits. That it won't break you. 

But you'll have missed out on life while you waited for the impact.

Good things happen too sometimes.
Good things.

So is there any point in trying to protect yourself at all?

I'm tending to think not.

In hiding out with my fears, in holding onto my insecurities to make me feel secure, I'm missing many of those moments which added together make up my life. I'm only seeing the bad, but I don't believe in or trust the good.  Those moments of joy or happiness, of kindness and flashes of hope.  It's not enough that they are true, that they are - I must notice them.  I must believe in them to experience them.  

And if they are my life, but I am not experiencing them, then am I living at all?

Or am I just existing?

All because I'm afraid of that truck?

The worst won't necessarily come to pass.  And while the best won't necessarily happen either, might it be it definitely won't happen if you can't even imagine it into being?

And the thing is that I have survived anything bad that has happened to me so far. I might have broken down or near enough but I've put myself back together. 

Isn't this a very good reason to live without fear?

Proof, if I needed it, that life goes on?

Yes. But there is also a crucial paradox.

Ultimately of course life doesn't go on forever.  In the end, we will all be broken beyond repair. A truck is on it's way, though maybe not the ones you fear day to day - there's no way around that.

I think there is a choice then.

Cower in the shadows and hope pain won't find you (it will).

Or step out into the light and give life all you've got.Trust in and experience the purity of each moment.  Roll with the beauty and the pain. 

Because one thing is certain.  None of it is forever.

Realising that I've been stuck in a pattern of seeing the bad things, for now I'm going to focus on the good things. And only the good things. I'm not turning my back on the bad - just turning away for now.  I'm re-tuning.  Leaping back from that grim imagined future.

Dealing in best case scenarios.  

Free falling into the moments.  My life. 

And this is why I'm bringing back joy pockets, and here they are:-
My biggest joy pocket of all.

  • the bittersweet last few months of her being 3
  • thinking if she is self-aware at 3, she will be ok, and proud of her and myself for how I've guided her in this  "Mammy I am sorry for saying I would never cuddle you again.  I was angry about the apple falling".
  • her expression last night when I told her people knitted blankets for her before she was born as she was loved even then.
  • finding a cherry tomato and a clementine packed away in Tupperware boxes in her play kitchen
  • seeing how open and loving she is with people - but not indiscriminately so
  • new lights in the kitchen and dining room
  •  a two week holiday booked in Portugal 
  • a reassuring visit to the school we have in mind
  • an architect came to see the house - if we could afford the vision it would be brilliant
  • the sun is out today and everything is golden
  • starting to suspect that I am normal and acceptable after all - reading this book Introvert Power and therapy
  • more birds are coming into the garden
  • listened to this radio play Aonach Hourne - suspenseful, beautiful and heartbreaking
  • the realisation that it could be a very good thing to just be what I am and to stop denying it or apologising for it
I'd love to read about your joy pockets if you'd like to share.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Conscious Parenting: You are enough

Source: Pinterest
"And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever....Our experiences have taught us how to parent for the here and now, for the sake of parenting, for the humanity implicit in the act itself" Emily Rapp.

Have you heard about the author and academic Emily Rapp?  Emily lost her three year old son to the terrible disease Tay Sachs last year. 

In parenting a child who would have no future, Emily learned a profound lesson.
That parenting is not about preparing your child for a successful, superior future, perhaps as a reflection of you. She learned a deep truth, in the most brutal fashion - to love her child today for the sake of love itself. 

Reading interviews with Emily affects me deeply.  But what could I take from this? After all my child is healthy - isn't parenting about her future? And I didn't feel like a good enough parent - surely I needed to strive to be the best I could possibly be?

The errors in my thinking became clear to me after attending a presentation course recently through work.  

The presenter at this wonderful course made us all face our fears and vulnerabilities. So many of us were afraid that we were simply not good enough and we were sure to be found out. 

She showed us that it was not about us.  And that we could release those fears by taking the spotlight off ourselves and focusing on the audience, what they needed from us and what we could offer. 

Most profoundly of all it turned out that what they needed from us was for us to have the confidence to be ourselves.  To believe that what we had to offer was enough, and to stop trying to smooth out our flaws. For this was how we would engage and connect with them.

And it worked - the presentations on the second day of the course were so much more engaging and enjoyable on the second day, when everyone felt free to just be themselves.

I realised that I had let anxiety and fears into my parenting, and allowed them to damage my precious time with my daughter. Ironically, these were causing me to be a worse parent than if I just let myself be.  

And this is when it hit me.

                                             Parenting is not about me.

Not about my fears that I am inadequate and will damage my child's future.

Not about my need to counter this by trying to be better than others.

Not about my belief that I am not enough, just the way I am.

My child does not need a superior parent.

She needs my presence and love, right now.

And for me to believe that I am enough, with all my imperfections.

And to enjoy and accept her for how she is now, not as some future project.

So that she can believe that she too does not need to be perfect.

                               That she is enough just as she is.

I'm not beating myself up about this.  It is not surprising that I felt this way. Presumably most parents have at least one, if not both eyes on the future. And in itself, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting the sun moon and stars for your child. 

But there is something wrong with the pressure, so much pressure, to create these kids that out-pace their peers, that do better than their parents, while of course being well-adjusted, kind and compassionate members of society. We feel fear that we will be found lacking if that it not the case.  That we will have failed.  Wasted the opportunity.

And what pressure to heap on our children! 

This pressure eats into the present, affects our time together.

It prevented me from just spending time with my child, hanging around.  I felt the time spent should often involve time something educational, enriching or entertaining.  I felt on show and under pressure to perform.

Gradually I realised that subconsciously I was resisting spending focused time with her. I was always busy busy busy. Anything to avoid the guilt and the admission that I just could not live up to my exacting standards.

No more.  I want to enjoy my daughter for who she is today. To love her for the sake of loving her.  Without an agenda. 

I want to simply share my humanity with her, in all it's imperfect glory.

And believe that I am enough. 

Back to Emily...

"I can see my reflection in his greenish-gold eyes. I am a reflection of him and not the other way around, and this is, I believe, as it should be. This is a love story, and like all great love stories, it is a story of loss. Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is."Emily Rapp