Enough is enough

Despite my greatest efforts, my resistance against embracing motherhood as a full time job has finally imobilised me.

I’ve told myself that I’m young enough to mother three children, have a full time job and a hobby. It’s taken me a good six years to crash and burn. I can sit back, telling my story and pushing the blame onto so many people and so many things. However, it not only enables my determination to burn out, it fills me with a resent that is only eating away at my energy, daily.

There is alot of talk these days about self love, which I thought I understood. Self love is pampering, time off and relaxation right? Wrong. I am now coming to understand and accept that self love is making good choices for your own self. It’s taking time and energy to understand ourselves the way we wish others would. I’ve reached a point in my life where I now realise the only one who can make me happy in this life is myself. Short term, of course we can rely on the happinesses of the every day, however when we primarily rely on that to have a sense of fulfillment we are setting ourselves up to fall down.

In reality, not every day can we full of joy, happiness and fulfillment; we naturally face challenging times on a daily basis too. It’s what gives us balance as human beings in society. Sometimes the balance is not level and our underlying ability to cope with small stresses begins to give way, resulting in physical and mental health issues.

How then, can we establish a strong, underlying foundation of fulfillment despite the everyday circumstances? We can begin by saying “no”. For me this was the only starting point to cease the destructive cycle of opening the door to the relentless pressure from responsibilities and personal expectations. When we can begin to say no, we begin to take control over what we’re allowing to enter our minds and ultimately we are getting to know our needs and wants as individuals.

This journey of self love is at its rawest stage, currently. The small amount of strength I am experiencing so far is maintaining me and keeping me afloat as I discover more about my needs and wants as a woman and Mother.

Married but Single

Freedom of speech and Equal opportunities – the very definition of the world we live in now. Not quite.

The complexity of these social issues goes beyond the need for change.Within every individual case, there are barriers, different barriers for all. Like the mutation of covid, the fight for freedom of speech and equal opportunities is an up hill battle. You may be thinking, that change is on the horizon, as more people are speaking out and standing up for what they believe is right. However, there are indivduals worldwide who are not aware that there is a fight going on or that what they are experiencing isn’t right or simply they are just numb with fear and unable to put their experience into words.

When we reflect upon the fight to close the gender pay gap, generally we see a rough idea of what we would like to achieve. However, behind many doors there are women who by no fault of their own… or maybe by fault of their own are trapped. There are mothers who fight every day to keep a peaceful home, fight everyday to keep the children well and happy. There is now a great awareness of domestic, sexual absue and even coercive control. Where women who live as Wife, Mum, Daughter and Sister; there you will find untold stories about manipulation and abuse that has occured in different shapes and sizes. The barriers that come up against women are very real but the unique nature of each experience does not simply have the same exit route as society would expect.

At the age of 20, I gave birth to my eldest. 8 years down the line, I am Mum to three wonderful individuals. I have said on many occassions that I have grown up with my children, from a very naive 19 year old to the woman I am today. There is no room here for the blame game, however, there is room for the truth. For the past 8 years, I have been married but single. What this means is that from the birth of my daughter, I have changed ever single nappy, done every bath time, every bedtime, every school concert, every dinner, every…really the list could go on. I’m not here to big myself up (although… Well done Beth, you’re a bloody saint) but I want to share my reality and the reality of many others. From the outside it may look like I am a willing housewife who adores her duties. Well, no. I am a woman who thrives in education, a woman who passionately desires to achieve and a woman who wants to be heard. The psychology behind all of this probably stem from the occassional sting of oppression, a constant reminder that I am just a woman, just a Mum, just a Wife. As I mentioned before, I have grown with my children and like a child I spent many years seeking affirmation from the people around me and it is a habit that has stayed with me. This deep scar is rooted at the centre of me. I fear that the words I say will be wrong, I fear that the wrong person will call my number, I fear that if I leave kitchen in a mess I will be less of a wife or Mum. The reality is, these deeply rooted struggles and scars are present among many. In all honesty most days just look like survival for me, but these kind of days are lessening. I am embracing my opportunity to study, embracing my opportunity to wear makeup, embracing my opportunity to stay up late to watch a series on BBC and finally, the saddest of all, I cling to this blog where I can share my thoughts in the knowledge that no one in my house actually reads it or is remotely interested in it. These opportunities are fulfilled with an underlying fear, however I have realised that I must claim my life back. Life was given by God and belongs to no one else.

To my sisters who do EVERYTHING and more. Power to you, POWER TO YOU! I am with you.

Recognising Mental Health

When we talk about mental health in a casual or in depth way, are we considering our audience?

If we imagine walking into a meeting in the cabinet office, we’ll see a committee of representatives discussing issues that may or may not impact us directly. In that case, we better sit down and try and make sense of the discussion in hand. We leave with a better grasp about what is going on but do that thing when something has been explained five times and we just nod our head in confusion with the fear of looking silly if we ask for it to be explained one more time.

Recently, you may have noticed that there are more discussions and public posts regarding mental health. You may have also heard the phrase ‘mental health effects all of us’, well sure, having a physical body effects all of us, but what is your point? When we post or discuss mental health, most often we assume people understand what we are talking about or agree with us. The reality is that for many individuals, they will not recognise that they are being effected by mental health issues, instead they may put those feelings down to the current circumstances and expect it will all just pass with time. This may be due to many varying factors, such as culture, generation or gender for example.

If this is the case, we must begin talking about mental health in a less general and intimidating way. If we are going nurture and care for our dynamic communities, we must first understand who we are talking to. This doesn’t mean we should generalise as a result about our assumptions about others, but what we should be doing is enable ’empathy’ and ‘accommodating’ mode in our communication.

An example of this (emphasis on example), we may encounter a friend or work colleague who may be acting energetically, excitedly and perhaps erratically towards their work or daily tasks. We may respond by saying something witty like “someone’s in a good mood today”. Okay let’s pause here and understand the concept that excitement and anxiety cause almost identical physical reactions. I’m not suggesting a few energetic days in work or home mean there’s an underlying issue, but it is responsible to recognise those changes that continue over a longer period of time or reoccur.

There are a wealth of resources available to us now regarding mental health, including blogs. By reading, hearing the stories and reflections of others, we can educate the judgements of our subconscious to see that mental health is more than depression and anxiety. Mental health is as dynamic as our physical bodies are. You know that intense pain that occurs when you stub your little toe on the coffee table, well we wouldn’t say days later “I’ve got this really bad pain in my arm… it must be from when I stubbed my toe”. We need to approach our own mental health and the mental health of others creatively and dynamically. As a result, we cease trying to fit into societies understanding of mental health and begin to accept that areas within our health existed before the pandemic and we can react accordingly.

Read a blog, visit the NHS website, write a journal, speak to a counsellor… wherever you are at there is no harm in expanding our perspective about mental health. If not for ourselves but for our families and communities.

Create, Educate, Encourage and Inspire

Have you ever been in the countryside as evening is drawing in, minimal artificial light and that kind of peace that makes you feel like you’re breathing for the first time.

While on a camping holiday in Pembrokeshire as a child, I distinctly remember waking in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom, which was on the other side of the site. Quietly walking through the field with my Dad, avoiding bumping into tents. We gazed upwards to the midnight sky, which was like nothing I had seen before. Twenty years later the vision replays in my mind.

That night, the sky was weighing down over us like a vast canopy with layers upon layers of stars. I felt dizzy as I attempted to walk and permanently gaze. It took my breath away then and it takes my breath away now as I describe it. A natural phenomenon that prompts stories and inspiration.

When I contemplate how the light of a star reaches our tiny visual perspective here on Earth, it’s hard not to be impacted. It is said that the stars we see most probably still exist but what we are seeing is the state of the stars a few years ago. If this is true, the stars further away but still visible within our universe could potentially be billions of years old. Unfortunately or fortunately for us, there is no way of proving this. We may continue to bask in the great beauty of our solar system, as the light blasts through generations.

My friends in the sky, how can you be so many but so individually significant? Wherever my eyes choose to rest on your beautiful canvas, I will feel as tiny as you look to me. Your light is powerful, your community is vast. You’ve created stories, educated us, changed perspective and encouraged belief. Can we as humans, grains of sand over generations transform our story into one that will create, educate, encourage and inspire thousands of years later.

Our responsibility is clear, create testimonies where we are, love others who surround us, maintain our roaring identities that pave a way for the future to join. Because whether you like it or not, today will be visible 50 years from now.

“You’re a star, baby!”

I couldn’t resist…

With a grateful heart & determination for life

As we move into December, there’s the usual sense of winding down, pressing pause and signing off another year.

Yet this year has been a rollercoaster of pausing and winding down… with not much of the life we know in sight. 2020 has been defined by… well you know, I don’t even have to say whatever you’re reading this from.

It’s all sort of shaken up my perspective of the way I’m approaching my time and the things I do with it. There is a common view that the start of the year is where we place our annual goals and the end of the year is where we start thinking about the whole process again.

With a year of so much negative potential, we may feel like not much has been achieved. The new normal is definitely made itself at home but there is a sense of determination to push through, back to the normality we knew way before 2020 began.

In this season when workplaces would be on Christmas outings, schools performing live Nativities and families gathering to eat, drink, laugh and celebrate together… we have the prospect of a slow end of the year. For someone who is an introvert; I can deal with a quiet season but even for me… I’m craving the frantic buzz of last minute shopping, busy restaurants and the comedy of the school play. In the back of my mind, I’m aware that in a year of so much suffering for many many people, we are prompted by our own good human nature to be grateful for each day as it comes.

With a grateful heart for life and breath and thoughts of “I wish we could…” we have an opportunity to view next year, next month, next week, tomorrow in this new normal that I believe many of us are experiencing. Whether we like it or not, we’ve all been exposed to the reality that we are not invincible and have had real moments of fearing for our lives this year whether that be physically or mentally. Being grateful doesn’t have to lessen our goals, there’s no need to undermine our dreams just because our conscience is more aware of the value of life. Instead, we can use this understanding of value to enrich our short and long term goals.

We also can’t ignore the sense of community that has occurred from this year. In everything we do, we are encouraged to respect each other and be safe. Although this may differ from country to country, we can grasp this idea of looking up and recognising that we’re not the only ones going through this. What can we give back into our communities? Whether this is county wide, in the school yard, in work or even when we’re out and about. What difference do you want to stay or design into tomorrow?

With a grateful heart and determination for life, what is your tomorrow going to look like?

Making moral citizens

When I was growing up, high school was the place I came first in contact with the term ‘banter’. [an exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks; good-natured raillery.- dictionary.com]. Walking the corridors, passing the youngest and the oldest kids… this was the time people would shout their one liners to the crowds pleasure!

At times it would be quite amusing but after a while, it began to grate on me, on others too but even so it persisted. As mentioned before I was a quiet soul in my younger years and for some reason this was the perfect banter target. So many occasions it was implied that “it’s always the quiet girls who are the naughty ones!”. I felt embarrassed and irritated by a label that tried to define me as a joke.

Obviously when I was younger these realisations didn’t dwell on me, I wish they had. I would have stood up, kicked banter up the arse and told it where to go, because let’s be real… banter is a nice home for harassment. At the time, I thought it would make me look like a kill joy if I stood up for how I and many other individuals probably felt.

A few years later… (okay quite a few years later) here I am, I’ve been harassed for being a women since my teens. Now, for me that’s a scary thought being the Mum of two girls. Those years have just gloated by, being called a bitch, being mocked by the term “bitches” that attempts to define a population of women. Being made to feel uncomfortable to dress a certain way or to even be in a certain room. I shout at my younger self to gain more sense about what is going on. It’s not a compliment its degrading!!

We all have experiences that we should definitely analyse and understand… and then figure out a way forward. How can we use our experiences to educate the next generation and the generation after that how to stand up and not tolerate banter, flirtation, teasing, jokes, bullying… harassment. However minor or major they may seem to you, your story can educate and equip so many young people to understand what it means to be moral citizens.

Integrity is key

During the moments of life when we feel our opportunities are being stripped away by our responsibilities, we create an opening for negativity to dwell.

Imagine being in work and a patient, client, customer or system has a complaint… we’ve all thrown a mental tantrum wanting to tell that complaint where to go. But imagine if we lived out that “mental tantrum”, a grown adult kicking and screaming because that complaint messed up their plan for the day. Well, you’d probably get sent home, probably embarrass a fair few people and probably would result in a disciplinary meeting.

When responsibility and integrity stand in our way, we sometimes feel hard done by. As if we deserve to do what we want, we deserve that promotion, we deserve that day off, we deserve that cup of coffee! When we carry this deserving belief around with us, we give ourselves a complex that is damaging to our life experiences and to those around us.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be motivated in reaching our goals but by taking aspects of being selfish and selfless, we may just get the right balance. One of the challenges I have faced since having children is finding time for myself… but rather it’s more about finding a way to accept that there will be times when I will be disrupted, I won’t get to complete tasks and overall have little control over my “break time”. And do you know what, that’s ok with me! It took time and developing maturity to get to this point. I no longer freak out if the kids don’t go to sleep on time, I care more for being a patient Mum who engages in conversations my 4 year old (even if I don’t know what’s going on!) It has taught me to value the everyday moments and I am learning more and more about myself and what I am capable of. It’s cliche to say this, but by living for the now… we don’t just get to value the experiences but we nuture our character to be patient, in control and focused on the needs of others.

Integrity is key.