Squiggly lines, life skills and a question with a warning.

Inspired by the theme of Mother’s day there is a question I would like to pose. Whether you are close to your mum or not, whether you see her all the time or hardly ever, whether you have lost her – even at a young age – or she is still present in your life, whether you love and admire her dearly or not quite so much – irrespective of all of that, what three positive traits, skills, beliefs or values have you formed as a result of having your mum – as your mum.

People we come into contact with throughout our lives leave marks. Sometimes sadly as scars, but most certainly also in the most positive of ways. Ways that serve us well. Try this. Think of a specific quality of yours that you are proud of – a life skill you developed as a result of being in touch with a certain person at some point in your life. Just imagine it as a kids trail game –  follow the squiggly line to connect the skill and the person who inspired or inscribed it in you.mothers day

Even people who leave scars, can in a roundabout way, help us develop very useful qualities like for example determination, compassion, sincerity, courage or self-reliance. If our perception of the relationship is predominately negative, we don’t usually credit  the person in question, but it could be really useful to take a step back, and look only on what you took away from that particular relationship that has served you well at other times in your life.

So back to the question: what 3 positive life skills, beliefs or values have you developed as a result of your mum, being your mum? And while we are at it, we might as well throw in a bonus question. One that makes my own heart go mushy and my breath caught in my chest, so be warned. Here we go: If you had a choice what 3 life skills, beliefs or values would you love, love, love to engrave in the lives of your own children?

Wishing you all a happy day with lots of musing.


Madaleine {part 2}

So here it is. The next chapter of Madaleine’s story. This time as an extract from her  journal. If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

It is nearly two years since I last wrote in here. I can’t quite believe it has been that long. The last year has gone by so quickly. So much has changed and yet some things still haven’t changed as much as I would have liked them to. S is now four and a half and starting school in September. She has grown up so much and is becoming such an interesting, questioning, bright and caring little girl. Quite a contrast to the chaotic, volatile toddler we have lived with for the past two years. That part of her character is certainly there, but more beneath the surface than in plain sight for all to see and judge! That toddler has certainly been taken over by this older, more confident and emotionally capable four year old. Pretty amazing really as she is only four years old. Perhaps I expect too much of her? Love her loads and more every day. E is now two and very much her own person. I am sure that having grown up in the company of her boisterous sister has ensured she has developed her own strong character. They are really starting to become quite a formidable little team! Monkeys!

I have taken advantage of a quiet moment to have a bit of time and space for myself and to write about my feelings after my session with Bonnie this morning. It is interesting that I sat down to write about myself and then start writing about my children. I think that says quite a lot actually. Quite a lot.

This morning I had a personal coaching session with Bonnie. I’m not sure quite sure what I was expecting when I arrived – maybe a handout, some ideas of how to change your behaviours. Maybe it was just the mood that I was in which led it in the direction it did but it ended up being more like a counselling session with me spending most of the time crying and blowing my nose in between talking about myself, a lot.  I read back to my journal entry when I had some counselling for (post natal) depression a couple of years ago and I felt similarly about the experience today as I did then – embarrassed to be even talking about myself so much, particularly to a complete stranger, and almost like a failure for even needing to be there in the first place.

However, despite these feelings my session with Bonnie was actually really helpful and thought provoking. She guided me through my thoughts with clever, gentle questions. The main outcome from today is that I really seem to need some ‘mindspace’. This is my term which means personal space, time to myself away from home, away from the house, space and time to think and try and clear out some of the thoughts clogging up my brain and stopping me from thinking clearly and feeling positive about life… and breathe. The other insight today was that I need to try and ‘talk’ to myself in a more positive way and use vocabulary which is more positive, which puts me more in control and helps me to practice putting myself first.

This is my aim … to try and avoid using words (in my thoughts and speech) like SHOULD, MUST, NEED TO, HAVE TO and replace them with WANT TO, WOULD LIKE, WILL, PLAN TO. I am also going to experiment with putting myself first … and creating ‘mindspace’.

Day 2:What would happen if you put yourself first? When Bonnie asked me this question yesterday I just couldn’t imagine doing it. The thought of putting myself first seemed impossible. But, it’s an interesting thought, and quite empowering actually. Quite an inspiring and strengthening thought. I’ve been trying to think of times when I do put myself first or have put myself first in the past. On a daily basis it is as simple as having a shower, putting on some make-up and jewellery and doing my hair. Taking this time to make myself feel good really makes me feel better and more ready to face the day feeling like me. But … even when I’m doing it I feel guilty. I should be getting the girls ready, getting their breakfast, making sure they’re being nice to each other. Spending that time on me feels self indulgent, selfish and vain … (inevitably this has been interrupted by the girls coming up and telling me the other one has been hitting/pinching them – quiet moment over, I will try again later). 

Just taking little moments like this is good though. Helpful.

Question #4: About being at your best.

What do you feel, notice, think and say to yourself when you are at your best?  What’s different from a day when you are at your worst? Have you ever really paid attention to and been curious about the contrast?

If I am at my best in the context of school summer holiday you would be able to see me being fully present in the now, spontaneous, enjoying the little things, shoulders positioned in their rightful, unfamiliar place, feeling content and nourished. You would also be able to observe me glide effortlessly and magically into efficient, big picture, organising mode jumping over obstacles with ease.

In my “being at my best” mode I am able to be creative and engage my kids in activities that override the lure of anything electronic with a screen. I am able to stop and think before the words “not now” slip out of my mouth. I am able to be at ease with my to-do list. I am able to breathe deeply and as I do that my shoulders sink down just that little bit more.

Just writing this puts me in a better state. Other steps I plan to take to promote “being at my best” will follow in the coming days. How are you when you are at your best?