A Valentine post

The advantage of being single, having been in a relationship, is you can sit back and analyse and critique every other relationship you observe smugly seeing and stating where they’re going wrong.  It is utterly amazing how clearly you can see the mistakes of ‘other’ people:  How she nags him for all his short-comings but doesn’t praise his efforts, how he is distracted and unattentive to the small but important things to her, how she is clingy and smothering forcing him away and how he forgets to not take her for granted – each trait and issue perpertuating the other’s insecurity and fear!  Suddenly you see what’s really important in a relationshp and all the millions upon millions of things that just really don’t matter.  I sometimes want to stand between couples arguing on the station platform and say to the guy, ‘Look, just say sorry mate and mean it’ and to the girl, ‘Accept his apology wholeheartedly. Right, now both of you go enjoy your day and enjoy each other.’

There is so much that doesn’t matter that we make matter in life and especially in relationships.  It’s true small issues left unattended can fester and grow into ugly explosions but the point is to not let them – just simply let them go.  If you are fortunate enough to have found your special someone then please, for the love of love, hold on to them with all your might.  Appreciate them, cherish them, desire them, need them, love them and most of all, Tell them!

From my smug observations here is some advice which might just make things a little easier in love for some:

Young Stallion Man – You may think you have all the time in the world and all the choice in the world.  The reality is by time you’ve realised the ‘perfect’ woman does not exist you’ll be remembering all the ‘perfect for yous’ you passed up in order to keep your options open.  When you meet someone special, recognise it and hold on to her.

Young Christian Girl (desperate to get married) – In contrast to YSM (see above) you may not have all the time in the world but you have way more than you’re thinking girlfriend.  Take your time!  Don’t marry the first man you think you love before your teens are even out and before you’ve grown into the woman you’re going to be – The one that knows what she really wants in life and in a man.

Male or female bored in your marriage – Look at your partner with the eyes of your youth.  Many a girl/boy may turn your head and sometimes seem a more exciting option but can they really know you, love you, understand you like the person that stands before you and has journeyed with you thus far?  Cherish them and spice things up a bit!!

Heart-broken girl – dare to hope.

Heart-broken boy – dare to trust.

Guys, if you’ve been a twat: Two things (after you’ve apologised of course) 1) Make her laugh 2) make her feel beautiful = sorted!

Girls, if he’s been a twat: 1) Let it go – don’t be in a moody for days 2) Give him space and smile – have fun and stop worrying!

Guys, if she’s being possessive, recognise she’s insecure so when you’re with her have your full attention on her – she’ll be much more freeing next time you want to go out.

Girls, if you’re feeling insecure recognise it could be your issue and not to do with anything he is or isn’t doing – it doesn’t always mean he doesn’t love you.

A key to relationships is to understand that ultimately girls want to be loved and guys want to be respected. 

Open and honest communication is the route to breakthrough and always putting the other one first.  And remember, NEVER take your soul-mate for granted they don’t come by very often.  And that’s it. Simple eh?

There are we all feeling better now?  That’s just about put the world to right and now I’m off to buy myself some Lindt balls and white roses – my faves 🙂

Dream on dreamer – Life gets in the way

I’ve borrowed this content from my other Mummy Blog, More than a Mum, because after writing it this week and thinking on it I realised it is so relevant to anyone – not just mums.  We all need reminding that we once had a dream but may have got a little side-tracked along the way.  Or maybe you’ve never dared or allowed yourself to dream in the first place.  Maybe it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten your dream.  Maybe you think you don’t have one anymore.  Well this is for you – yes YOU!

I’m confident with the right kind of digging you can uncover it and be on your way to rediscovering your identity (if you’ve lost it) passion and purpose in the process.

The following steps are just for you.  You don’t have to share them with anyone yet but I do encourage you to write them down to make it more real.

Step 1: What did you want to be as a little girl/boy? (Try to remember the self-belief and abandonment you had as a child that the world was your oyster and you could do or be anything you wanted to be.)

Step 2: What would you do if you were guaranteed you wouldn’t fail?

Step 3: What do you wish you could be doing this time next year? (Your short-term goal)

Step 4: What do you wish you could be doing in 5 years time? (Your mid-term goal)

Step 5: Where would you like to be and what would you want to be doing in ten years time? (Your long-term goal)

Step 6: What is something you would quite like to do that you know you can do you just haven’t got round to doing it/made time to do it?

Step 7: What would you love to do but it seems too much like hard work/effort/time?

Step 8: What’s your crazy dream you secretly would love to do but struggle to believe it’s possible?

Step 9: Look back over all your answers so far.

–       What small step could you do tomorrow towards any of these things?

–       What medium step could you commit to in the next 2 weeks toward any of these things?

–       What big step could you take by Christmas towards any of these things?

Step 10: The important thing is to just get on and do it. Stop talking yourself out of it or looking at the obstacles or difficulties. Just get started.

Wake up tomorrow and take that first tiny step.

P.S Can you tell from the title that I used to be a massive Brand New Heavies fan!

What is success?

A friend of mine was feeling under-valued, overwhelmed and generally unappreciated: ‘I just want to be a success at something’, she exclaimed.  She is utterly brilliant so it was easy for me to then go on to list her various strengths and general awesomeness.  But, it got me thinking how our feelings of failure hugely depend on our definition of success.  If success is making lots of money, and being ‘recognised’ and/or ‘celebrated’ for our achievements then perhaps a large majority of us could feel like a failure.  But after lots of thought I came up with my own definition of success:

Success is doing what you’re created to do.

It came to me so clearly; success is not something we do, it’s something we are!  That might be a parent, a cook, a gardener, a writer or any number of big or small things.  Success should depend on how we define it in our own eyes and not the eyes of others.  We’re all on a journey and I firmly believe we’re not only a success when we reach our end and ultimate goal.  Instead we are a collective series of successes along life’s way.  Every personal, private as well as public and corporate victory is to be celebrated – to remind us we are already a success.  disappointment can only exist with a false expectation in place.  Therefore it’s pretty cool and very freeing that we can’t disappoint God because he does not have a false expectation of us.  We are already a success!

No Sex and the City

Yesterday at work I was forwarded some very interesting findings from some research by Bauer Media into the women’s market.  Bauer Media own more than 80 influential radio, magazine, TV and online UK media brands, including heat, GRAZIA, Closer, FHM.  The research aimed to help advertisers find new ways to influence the conversation of British women.

The research concluded that five key roles are played in women’s conversation:

  • Queen Bee, the direct and unquestioned leader in the conversation – she is independent, strong-minded and with lots of outward confidence, friends look to her to organise things, take charge and make group decisions when they are unsure of what to do.
  • Northern Star, the indirect but respected leader – she has a mind of her own, is highly influential and has strong inner confidence. She is not the loudest in the crowd, never forces her opinion, friends turn to her for advice and guidance as she is deeply respected.
  • Socialite, the catalyst for conversation or new ideas – she is lively and talkative and her friends often see her as the ‘funny one’. She gets her energy from interacting with others and doesn’t enjoy spending time on her own, often socialising with many different groups.
  • Little Sister, seeks support and guidance and uses her friends’ feedback as a way to process her world and anxieties, often lacking inner confidence. She prefers to make her decisions after discussing it with friends and is happy to talk about her feelings openly.
  • Social Listener, supporting and listening to others – she is often the glue that bonds a group. Her friends rely on her to listen to their feelings and support them when they have problems; she prides herself on being a good friend and puts others before herself.

The research had the following conclusions:

Three main reasons for talking have been identified – affiliation, the need for bonding and belonging; mood uplift, for entertainment and escapism; and finally, a need to be ‘in the know’, to help make decisions.

It was fun thinking about my friendship circles and trying to identify the various different roles and characters (and I’m sure you can’t help but do the same when you read it) but, it also got me thinking about the power of talking and of friendship to women.  In fact the three reasons identified in the conclusions describe perfectly the needs of every woman.

For me, I get my ‘fix’ of these three things from my mummy-friends, my best friends and my girls prayer group which is a combination of the first two groups of friends.  In my prayer group we call ourselves the WOVs (Women of Vision).  It was going to be Women of God but the initials were a bit unfortunate!!   Now in case you’re thinking I’m all holy with my lovely prayer group where we sit around eating Quiche and out praying each other – you’d be massively mistaken!  We only manage to meet about once every quarter for a whole day of eating (mostly chocolate and cake), drinking (mostly wine and/or champagne) and chat (ANYTHING goes!).

I’m afraid this ‘prayer’ group is usually somewhat X-rated with no holds barred and certainly no judging and this is why I love it so much.  All the girls in my group are creative women who absolutely love God with all their heart but are also real and human.  In our WOV group we have found a place where we can express our needs, struggles and desires in a safe environment as well as our victories, successes and triumphs!  I honestly think we’ve covered every issue and subject going from masturbation to singleness to divorce to adultery.  I told you there were no holds barred!! I love the fact that one minute we’ll be laughing uncontrollably at some embarrassing or rude thing one of us have said or done and the next we’ll be crying as one of us shares a heartache or struggle and the very next we’ll be prophesying and speaking truth over one another.

I’ve often joked that one day I’ll anonymously write a book on our meetings and call it ‘No Sex and the City’!!! Who knows, maybe one day I will.

After probably my most difficult year to date these girls have been my lifeline and literally kept me sane as well as supporting me practically, financially, emotionally and spiritually.  And I just want to say a HUGE and public thank you to them X

To show fear or not to show fear…

One of the constant dilemmas I face as a single-mum to my 2 year-old bear-cub is how much negative emotion to try to ‘hide’ from him.  The other day we found a huge spider in his bedroom and I tried to calmly explain that we needed to take him outside so he could ‘be with his spider friends’.  When bear cub questioned why I was putting the spider in a glass and not picking it up with my hands I answered, through gritted teeth and with shaky hands, that I simply didn’t want to accidently squash him!  From the look on his face I don’t think bear cub was convinced for a minute.  I however, was actually quite proud of myself for managing to get that close to a big spider even if there was a glass between it and me.  Dealing with spiders is yet another new territory for me since becoming a single parent.

But there are so many questions here regarding fears.  We, as mums, instinctively want to do what is best and right for our little ones.  We cannot fight the overwhelming force which leads us to want to protect them from all harm at all costs.  On the other hand, most of us recognize how in the long term it does not benefit our children to grow up completely ignorant to some of the harsh realities in life that they inevitably will face.  The fact is, bad things do happen in life and it is not always a world of Cbeebies-happiness.  But how much should we educate them in the darker side of life and at what age? I constantly change my mind on this one.  As a child, I was exposed to the troubles of the adult world too much and too soon, the result being my sister and I were in somewhat of a role-reversal situation with our mum particularly in our teens and we were forced to grow up too quickly.  The positives are my sister and I are very strong, independent and calm in a crisis but we do some times wish we’d had a few more years of the care-free existence of a child who only has to worry about what they might not get for Christmas.  This experience has made me adamant that my son will not feel burdened with the responsibility of ‘making sure mum is ok’ or feeling guilty at having his own life and certainly that he will not feel that he has to be ‘the man of the house’.  Having said that, despite my best efforts, if I’m having a ‘difficult’ day which I feel I am handling internally I’ll often catch my little boy making an extra effort to make me laugh or smile.  It saddens me that he can so easily pick up my mood and want to or even feel responsible for turning it around.

My reality is that my little boy does not have his daddy living with him and although we’re trying to make that situation as smooth for him as possible he is beginning to become aware that this is not the case for many of his friends.  I’d be doing him a disservice as a parent to not sensitively communicate with him about this in terms he can understand.   I think we’d all agree it is not healthy to wrap our children in cotton-wool but I also believe it is good practice to let them know it is ‘ok’ for mummy to not be happy all the time and that sometimes people get sad.  More often than not, if it’s explained in an appropriate way they can handle it and move on.  After all, as I have discovered, kids are not stupid and know when you’re faking something anyway!

This blog is also posted at www.morethanamumblog.wordpress.com

When worlds collide

So it was going to happen at some point – last night my two worlds (or maybe I should say two of my worlds) collided in public view!

I’m a singer as well as a mum and we had a gig at the ‘Real Food Harvest Festival’ outside the South Bank Centre.  The Bear-cub is usually in bed when I have a gig and mostly I arrive late for sound check having done make-up in the car on the way, squeezed in some ridiculously high-heels, and hope that none of the audience would guess less than an hour before I was singing ‘Wheels-on-the-bus’ and bargaining with my two-year old to get out of the bath!  However, on this occasion the gig was in the late afternoon and on the beautiful South Bank which I love both vibe and view.  So with toddler in tow I thought it would be nice for him to see mummy sing.  We’d been at a wedding the day before and he’d danced the night away in his kilt (a whole other blog!) so I’d assumed/hoped he’d do the same while we performed.  But, I should have remembered the rule – if you plan your day and especially for your little one to do something in particular they will of course sense it and do the complete opposite. What’s it called again? Ah, yes: Sod’s Law!!!!!

It had already been a crazy journey on the over-ground train to Waterloo with said toddler landing his plane on various strangers heads while mummy attempted to apply make up in order to make illusion/transformation from mum to professional singer! I’d already forgotten my Mac and Clinique make-up and all I could find was ‘Hello Kitty’ make-up – yes really – Hello Kitty make-up at a professional gig!  We arrived early and Bear-cub consumed an entire posh cup cake, ice cream and falafel in 15 minutes flat and all seemed to be going to plan.  Then it was our turn to perform and I placed Bear-cub with a friend and went to the stage informing friend casually over my shoulder, as I quickened my step, ‘He’ll be fine, he’ll start dancing once the music starts’. But no, how silly of me to think the juggling balls could stay in the air and impress/convince the general public that I was the ultimate literal all-singing-all-dancing-modern-mum!  Bear-cub instantly decided to have a meltdown screaming ‘I want to sing on stage with you mummy!’ and I knew it was one of those that could not be bargained away – besides I’d used up all my trump cards with cupcake and ice-cream all ready administered!

So the only option was to relent to bear-cub’s request and I performed a 40-minute set with my band holding my 2-year old’s hand on stage throughout!!!  To say I was slightly distracted during the show would be an understatement and at points I wondered if I was even singing in tune let alone singing the right words.  Bear-cub however, was in his element twisting and gyrating like a mini Justin (Timberlake, not Bieber or Fletcher) and we just about pulled it off.  There were of course a few a hairy moments when Bear-cub started holding his willy and I was expecting a puddle to appear on the stage at any moment.  But, no such disaster happened – I think he may have just been doing a Michael Jackson impression!  Another moment was when Bear-Cub decided to break-dance during the last track and attempt some kind of head-spin (no word of a lie) but I managed to grab the microphone stand, keep it from falling and keep smiling as if it was so sweet and planned and not stressful in the slightest.

What was interesting was seeing people’s reactions when they gathered round the stage to listen to us and spotted a pint-sized member of the group.  Some would laugh and point, some would push their kids to the front for a dance and some would frown.  My friend in the audience afterwards told me how she overheard one mum tut and comment to her husband how awful it was that I was ‘making’ my child stand on stage with me during a gig!! This mummy was either jealous, has a child who willingly complies to her every wish or simply has no sympathy for single parents who are still trying to live their dreams and still be a great mum – oh well! I still managed to get Bear-Cub home and in bed for 8pm, collapse on the sofa and celebrate with a rum and a coke.   The collision of two worlds, rather than being a disaster of global proportions, was merely unexpected fireworks that made some beautiful colours in my view – at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Upstaged by a 2-year old!

Why (most) girls want to be a Princess

Many of my mummy friends who have little girls all tell me how they actively discouraged their daughters from all that is pink, fluffy, sparkly and girly. Yet, given the choice, all of their little darlings would kit themselves from head-to-toe in pink with a pair of wings and sparkly tiara! Why? Surely it’s not all down to the subliminal powers of advertising in-between Milkshake when you’ve switched over from Cbeebies just to get a break from Justin Fletcher (why is he in every show?)!
Well I’ll tell you why; (and this is from a girl who used to say if she ever had a baby daughter she’d dress her in black just to make a point) it’s because all girls, no matter what age, want to be a princess – at least for some of the time.  I think of myself as a part-time feminist yet just now and then I would like to be pampered and pursued and basically be allowed to have my own way.  Just once a month would do.
I personally didn’t get the hype around Kate Middleton from women and girls alike until I realised what they were admiring:  That role of being special, untouchable, infallible and flawless *sigh*. It still slightly makes me feel sick but I understand the frustration women have today with men who no longer pursue women. By pursue, by the way, I don’t mean ‘stalk’.  I mean woo, flatter, court and persist (with gifts optionally included)!
I’m not bothered with the wearing pink bit but I identify with little girls globally who want to have their every wish and delight fulfilled at the wave of a hand, eat what they like and still look beautiful. Is that too much to ask guys?