It hits you when you least expect it

Today would have been my Mum’s 70th birthday, had she been alive.

Mum June 2008 - a year before she died

Mum June 2008 – a year before she died

Surprisingly, I’ve been OK today. It was last week that it hit me that we were reaching a landmark birthday, and not celebrating it with her, here, with us. I guess it’s also as my birthday is a few days before hers, that I’m reminded that my Mum wouldn’t be wishing me a Happy Birthday in person.

Why do things hit us when we least expect them to? It can be anything, not just those we miss, can’t it? Sometimes children or friends do things which tug at our heart strings and we ‘go to pieces’ don’t we?

This day last year I wrote about life being too short, whatever age people live to. I then went quiet on you for about 9 months! I found 2013 tough. Really tough. Not just the bereavement of a close friend, or the heartache loved ones had caused us, but just the general, everyday stuff. I was struggling to keep going through my life, and really couldn’t share the experiences with anyone else apart from my family and close friends.

It does help though. To share. And to cry. To just say, “Yep, today is tough, but I’m going to get through it”, or “I really miss x, but they wouldn’t want me to be sad”. Little steps are better than no steps at all, aren’t they?

So, whilst I’m sorry we aren’t celebrating as a family group, Mum’s 70th birthday, I know that like me, many friends are thinking about her today, and all she brought to us in her 65 years she was on this earth. I still love you as much as ever Mum.

I don’t know why ‘it’ does it, but I’m sure it does us good.

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What is your No.1 priority?

I mean it – what is it? I’m not talking about that ‘to do’ list you have – 1 for home, 1 for work, plus the household tasks that need doing. What I’m talking about is what you drop everything for. What your energy needs to be focused on, or life doesn’t feel right.

A lot has happened this year. In some ways, more than the past few years, which as you know have been tough. The last few months have been especially tough as I explained last time. But what it has done is made me totally focus my mind and efforts on to what is THE priority in my life.

A few months ago, I may have said financial security. But is that really what I really crave? No. I’m a risk taker, and we’ll be OK, whatever happens.

All the hours I’ve spent developing my business. The laughs, the tears and the stress have all been worthwhile. I still love what I do. I still believe in my business, and still want it to succeed. I’m not fed up with it. But it’s NOT my No.1 priority.

When thinking about actually writing this down, I asked some questions of those I connect with. I totally agree with Susie from New Day New Lesson, when she said, “No one on their death bed has ever said they were sorry they didn’t work more. I also think that if you find the right line of work and are passionate about it , it is not work but rather a way of life.” But, when push comes to shove, even a way of life you love isn’t always a priority.

For me, right now, my No.1 priority is my children. No.2 son is being bullied and he’s not as happy and carefree as he was. No.1 son is obviously affected by it all, especially when he sees things happen in the playground. My husband comes a close 2nd place, and our family and friends are equal 3rd.

We’ve just found out that a friend who my husband went to Uni with is not well. His children are the same age as mine. It’s stunned us, yet again, by how short our lives on earth are.

I’ve had some nasty comments from customers these past few weeks, as my business customer service has not been the best. I’m sorry. I can only apologise. I’ve always prided myself on excellent customer service, but it’s not priority anymore. It’s important, and to continue in business I need to focus on it. But NOT to the detriment of my 8 and 11 year olds who need their mother to be there when they need me.

We all know life is tough, but we often make it harder for ourselves by not thinking through exactly what our priority is. Some of those around me are also re-thinking their priorities. It’s worth just sitting back sometimes and thinking things through.

Us Mums in Business want it all, and to a certain extent can have it all if we work hard and have support. But I’m putting my flag in the sand and saying, right here, that, I’d do anything to have my carefree boy back again who entertains everyone he meets. I may not be able to fix things, but I can certainly do my best for him.

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Picking yourself up

Sometimes we go through tough times. It may be work, family, friendships that cause us to be sad, or low. We may be watching someone die, or caring for someone who is poorly. It’s tough isn’t it?

But we also know whilst we’re doing what we need to do, that it has to come to an end somehow. We have to move on from a friendship that is hurting us; we know that our loved one is going to die and be released from their suffering, leaving us behind. So what can we do?

I’m not sure I’ve got the answers, but having gone through some tough times these last couple of years, all I can do is tell you what I’ve done to pick myself up and move on. We’re all different and cope with situations in different ways. The important thing I’ve learnt is to talk to other people, and find a something to focus on to get me through.

When my Mum died I thought I coped pretty well. I got on with organising and arranging and clearing out her things. It was only 6 months later that I knew I needed help to work through my grief. There was all sorts of emotions going on, and I don’t think I was helped by the fact my Dad started seeing another lady 3 months after Mum died. It’s been a lot to cope with!

I knew that bereavement counselling wasn’t what I needed, so I tried Reiki, with a spiritual healer. She’s been fab, and has helped me so much over the past few years to come to terms with the way of the world. She’s worked with me to ensure I focus on the things I can affect, and my own emotions. I no longer get angry when other people are doing things I can’t affect. It’s helped and has been reassuring.

The credit crunch has affected my business, along with every other business in the country in a dramatic way. My growth plan that started before Mum’s prognosis and the credit crunch meant that I was saddled with expensive premises just when sales halved. It’s taken time to get things straight, change strategy and develop a new way of working to support more women through the Bra Lady network, whilst generating a profit.

The thing I’ve learnt here is to keep trying different things. Don’t give up. If you know your business is needed within the market place, then you’ll find a way of developing it, however slowly. If you’ve got the energy and can afford to keep going with it, just do it. You’ll never be happy until you’ve tried to make it work. However difficult the economy is.

Family life is often challenging. As children grow up they want to do different things. As a parent you want to support them, and ensure they get as many opportunities to do different things. It’s got to the stage in our house that we want to give the boys those opportunities, but we have to work out a way of financially supporting that. For us, it wasn’t a difficult decision. We have a lovely old house that needs work doing to it, so we’ve decided to sell up and move on. What’s the point of having a house we can’t afford to be in, whilst the boys are missing out (and we’re missing out on watching them develop new interests)?

So, whilst the last few weeks have been extremeley challenging in so many ways, I’ve managed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and not quite start all over again, but certainly move on in all areas of my life. The next few months are going to be tough. Moving house and all that entails will be a challenge. But, now we’ve made the decision I feel lighter and more able to look at other parts of my life and put things in perspective.

We only get one chance at life. However tough life seems now, we do need to make the most of it. Use your support network to help you through, and choose some simple tasks to achieve each day. The bigger tasks and decisions will follow when the time is right. Small steps is all we can hope to achieve when we’re sad and upset. Those small steps though will help us move towards the sunshine that we want back in our lives.

I’ve got friends who are newly bereaved, and others are watching their loved ones suffer. I’ve got friends who are struggling with their businesses, or have seen their businesses taken away from them. My son’s friend’s Dad died at the weekend. It’s all around us this sadness and upset. But then we see a new born baby, or a beautiful flower or view, and we know we have to live in the here and now. We have to support our children to grow up and be able to cope with all that life will throw at them. My 10 year old son wrote this in a card he’s sending to his bereaved friend “We hope happiness will come back into your life soon.” .

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Happy New Year!

Walking together

I’m so pleased January is finally over!

Anyone else had a tough first month to the year? Always difficult when you’re so fired up with resolutions, plans and expectation isn’t it?

Well, today, I’m putting January behind me, and moving forward. As much as it may help to reflect on some of the challenges that came my way in January, I’m not sure that will help me this time. Over the coming few weeks I may share some of the challenges. At the moment some are too raw and unresolved.

So, today, I’m declaring that 3rd February is my NEW YEAR! Yes, we’ve had our Chinese food to celebrate that festival. But today is different! So why today? 3rd February?

It’s my Mum’s birthday! She would have been 68 today. And as my birthday is at the end of January, (and I did have a good relaxing time & put the stresses to one side), February was always about my Mum, and now my second son too.

What would Mum have done in the circumstances I’ve found myself in? I think she’d have busied herself with her friends, activities and crafts. She’d have spoken to her closest friends and got support. She’d have carried on with life and taken everything in an “Oh well, we can’t help it” type of way. So, guess what I’ve been doing? Carrying on, speaking to HER friends as well as my own for support. I can’t think about it really as if she was here, then some of the things that have happended wouldn’t have, (if that makes sense?).

So, apologies for the slightly downbeat post – I know you always expect positivity & motivation from me! Well, sometimes, life happens. And it does affect us. We can’t hide from things that happen. But we do have to deal with them and carry on working towards our goals and living life to the full.

So, today is my New Year’s Day, and I’m so looking forward to the challenges and delights that 2012 are going to bring. Yes, there’s going to be more knocks along the way. But I sincerely hope that I’m strong enough and prepared to deal with them.

Keep looking after me Mum and sending me your love, strength and support. Without your guide I wouldn’t know the right way to go.

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What a difference a week makes

Some of you will know I’ve had a tough week. I’ve stopped hiding when life is tough, but often ask for support from online friends. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

This Monday is so different to last week! Last week saw my boys back at school (first day), husband in bed with awful toothache & infection, and me on a treadmill trying to make sure all my jobs, and his jobs were completed. It was very task orientated. The family certainly came first – eating, clothes, activities, and getting hubby well again. The business had to be put on hold. Which isn’t great when you’re a customer facing company!

Today, it’s been a delight. Hard work, and running around in Mum’s taxi tonight to school sportshall competition, then onto their club athletics. But I’ve made it, and feel OK. Tired, but OK.

Our main ‘problem’ this last week has been supporting someone in the family, who lives 100 miles away. The Friday before school started we all dropped what we were doing and took to action stations to support him and his partner. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. We’re not through the worst yet, but this week we’re able to plan our support (and my husband is not in pain, so is able to function within the household).

There’s all sorts of extended family implications with this illness. There’s already been back biting, but hopefully, there’s a plan in place to get through the next few important weeks. Information has been sought, (but not always shared with the right people); plans have been put in place, (but not always seeking help and advice from people who have knowledge or skill); actions are starting to happen. Emotions and tempers amongst close family members have been pushed to the limits.

Even though we should all have seen this coming, whose responsibility is it to check up on someone? Or ask the partner if everything’s OK if you’re concerned about a loved one? Do you check with friends and family about their mental health as well as physical health? How do you ask “do you need professional help?” ? I’d like to know!

I’m sure some of the emergency could have been taken out of our situation with more of the right communication between family members. But I also know that this family is not the best at talking in the right way about the right things. Things have to blow up into a real drama before something is taken seriously, or action is taken. It’s not my way, or the way I’m used to. But it’s A way. I’ve come to understand this is how some people work, even though I can’t affect it, or be effective within this environment.

So, whilst we’re not on red alert right now, we’re probably on amber, waiting for code red to be implemented again. It’s not the easiest state to be in. But, with the right information, right planning and communication of ALL the facts between ALL parties, we’re in a stronger position to help the main parties this week.

A week makes a difference only if you use that time effectively. Depression is a tough illness to deal with and explain to children. Especially at crisis points when code red is what we have to act upon.

Any advice, gratefully received! ;)

 

 

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My 2011 Gallery

Do you take regular pictures of you and your family? Leslieanne shares her year with us in a photo blog.

On one hand, I can’t quite believe it’s almost Christmas again – on the other, looking at this photo-mosaic of our 2011, the arly shots feel like a lifetime ago!

It’s been a busy year, but a really good one.

My little man has gone from a one year old cherub to a two and a half year old mini-monster!  Two is definitely harder work than one – but it’s loads of fun too- everyday he learns something new and finds another way to make me smile. He’s such a happy little dude, and so funny, I wouldn’t change him for the world. We’ve had lots of fun at home together – baking, crafting, gardening and lots more – plus plenty of brilliant days out as a family too (I think our trip to London for in September for Postman Pat’s birthday party was Dylan’s highlight!)

We’re already looking forward to Christmas – last weekend we went to pet some of Santa’s reindeer, so festive feelings are certainly high!

2011 has been a lot of fun – I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll get up to in 2012!

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Freelance and Fancy Free? It’s not that easy….

Chelle McCann shares her year so far….her journey from working mum to freelancing around her family life. Chelle runs Social Media Mums a freelance social media and virtual assistant service where charges are tailored to parents running their own business. The service supports small business on a permanent or ad hoc basis without the pressure of a full time wage.

This year has been so my so called whirlwind year. After starting with a small idea and one lady willing to test my ideas out I am not about to jump properly into the world of self employment.

It’s a little bit scary but also very exciting at the same time. However I dont want you to think it is a really easy thing. I also want you to think about what you really really want and then encourage you to go for it.

This year I’ve gone from a small idea to making a full time salary from that idea. It’s meant that I’ve worked like a crazy woman for thsalary 12 months and not without some family neglect to get this business off the ground. It’s easy to think that you have found something completely flexible – for me Skype meetings have to be a set time, stats have to be done once a month. It’s been difficult working around a part time job and most importantly my family. In fact I’ll got so far to admit I am becoming that parent who says ‘just two minutes darling’.

So come 2012 I’ll be working on my business and be leaving my work place after 5 years. I’ll focus business work to be on the days when my husband is at work and my daughter is in nursery, I’ll set the nights for work and the non working night for hubby. He’s been more than patient with me this year and I now need to show him how important he is to me. I need to be less distracted around Fizz, I don’t want her to turn round and tell me just two minutes – she’s already sending her toy doll to the naughty corner and I really don’t want to be next.

2012 for me means bringing in a partner to the business. One I have worked with before and who is definitely the ying to my yang in all things brighton, social media and mummy. I already know this person grounds me especially in our joint passions. By having someone share this with me I am sure I will be better focussed on success.

Anyway I’ve rambled but then again that’s where I am at. It seems a good point for me to step back, look over my life and remember why I am doing all this in the first place.

It’s not as easy as I thought it would be, working for yourself is challenging for yourself and your family. It’s not the workload (especially if you have found something you enjoy) but the time management, working out your own tax and national insurance, buying equipment and then finding you need more as your business grows.

But there is that huge sense of achievement when things all fall into place, when you catch up with the to do list and when a client gives you fantastic feedback. It’s one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. And I did it for me.

But I won’t forget that my family are the most important thing in the world. They are why I am here doing this, they are the ones supporting me. And I am extremely grateful for them.

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Time IS a healer

It’s 2 years ago today that my Mum died of cancer, at the age of 65. It’s been hard carrying on without her support, and I still miss her loads.

But, I’ve found the last few months easier to cope with than all the months before it. It’s not that I miss Mum less. I often find myself thinking, “if only I could ask Mum, she’d know how to do…./what to do about…. this”. I’m just more able to cope. I’ve put things in perspective.

Walking together through life

When someone dies, however close you are to them, and even when you’re expecting it to happen, it’s a shock. You grieve their loss, and for me, I only started ‘getting over it’ properly when I started having Reiki sessions with a spiritual Reiki master. Bernadette helped me to put things in perspective. Yes, I’d lost my Mum, but I still had my own life to lead, my 2 children to bring up, my husband to love, and my Dad and brother to support, plus my business to run.

 

The first year was tough, but we survived. This second year has been easier, as I’ve been looking forward a lot more. I haven’t been reflecting as much, or thinking, “it’s a shame Mum’s not here”. Because I know she is here. All the time. Whatever your belief system, I think most people believe that those who have died are still with us spiritually.  My Reiki master talks about angels, and spirits supporting us, with different ‘people’ caring for us at different times. I feel, that just in life, Mum is looking out for us. She still cares, takes an interest, and is supporting the family in all it does.

We may have other troubles, family crises and difficult times, but Mum will always be with us. During her life she gave me foundations to live my life by. I now know that she doesn’t have to be here physically for me to be able to move forward. It’s taken almost 2 years to understand this. But the family is getting on with our lives. We do feel the most organised we’ve been for a long time. We’re having a really good sort and tidy of the house and garden this weekend, getting our family foundations right to move on.

Yes, I can remember what I was doing exactly at this time 2 years ago. I can remember what it was like being with Mum and Dad when she died just after midday. But her physical death, released her spirit to support us and watch over us in a different way.

She wouldn’t want us to sit around and be mournful today. She’ll be more than happy we’re tidying the garden up, (in the rain!).

This is a day late due to technical issues beyond my control! I can hear Mum laughing now! ;)

 

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Guest Blog – My PND experience

I am a busy mum of three children four and under, with two dogs and a business, you could say I’m a little busy but I like life that way.  After years of wanting a child and only six months of trying four and a half years ago we caught for Poppy, my beautiful little girl and to be fair everything was as near to perfect as it could be.  My partner had left the RAF to come and live with me and I had a successful teaching job, we we were financially secure and our relationship was thriving.  Poppy was a very easy baby, sleeping through from six weeks old and an angel during the day.  We had talked a lot about having children close together and were toying with the idea of having another child quite soon, then all of a sudden the decision was made for us.  I caught for Rowan when Poppy was 4 months old.  I had had a difficult pregnancy with Poppy, with sickness for 32 weeks but the birth was a wonderful water pool birth and as I said she was an angel.  My pregnancy with Rowan went really smoothly, no sickness and I felt good except for some stress from work.  The stress at work got worse and 29 weeks into my pregnancy a child I was teaching ran towards me with pair of scissors threatening to kill my baby.  This sort of finished me off.  I went to the doctors and got signed off with stress, suddenly my pregnancy had become difficult.
 
At 29 weeks I was getting strong and quite painful Braxton Hicks, which continue for the next few weeks and I became terrified that Rowan would come early and I would loose him.  We were having Poppy Christened in November and Rowan was due in December.  The day of the Christening I slipped on a wet floor and my waters broke, at the time I wasn’t certain this has happened and carried on through the christening with horrendous backache all day. After a few days I went for my midwife visit and was measuring three weeks behind the last check, she immediately sent me for tests and my waters had in fact gone.  When they scanned me, my waters were so low that Rowan only had a bubble of water around his face.  Because I was only 36 weeks at this stage and had not gone into labour the doctors were reluctant to induce me and kept saying my waters could come back.  So for two weeks I rushed back and fourth to be monitored every day to check my waters and the baby.  It was a nightmare and I missed my daughter.   Finally on week 38 I went into labour and Rowan was born, the labour was extremely quick and due to the lack of fluid, extremely painful and stressful.  As I held Rowan in my arms I knew I didn’t feel the same as I did when I had Poppy.  I thought and hoped this feeling would pass.
 
Rowan was over a pound bigger than Poppy had been and constantly wanted food whilst Poppy constantly needed attention and where as with Pops I had had everyone around me when she was born, when Rowan arrived, friends and relatives were few and far between.  I felt alone.  I didn’t want to go out because it was too hard and staying in was driving me insane.  I hated my partner for no particular reason and nothing he did was right and it just got worse. The more time went on the more I resented Rowan for the amount of time he spent feeding.  I woke up one morning and Dan was getting ready for work and Rowan was screaming as usual, I just wanted to run away, I hated the life I was in and felt so lonely and abandoned.  Dan shouted at me to pick up Rowan, I took him downstairs and gave him to Dan, Dan glared at me and asked what was I doing, I can’t even remember what we were arguing about all I remember is raising my hand to hit Dan and running out of the house.  I took the car keys and sat in the car and sobbed.  I  just wanted to go anywhere to get away, I had no shoes on, no money and there was no fuel in the car, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  Dan came out to me and just held me.  It was the first time we both realised that something was not quite right.  Ironically that morning on the news a women with two week old twins had got up and walked onto the M6 and killed herself, when asked her husband said he didn’t realise anything was wrong!
 
I called my health visitor and she suggested I went to the doctors, my mum  came over and I went with the health visitor, both doctor and health visitor were amazing! They prescribed me anti-depressants and told me I needed to get out and I needed to talk.  They put me in touch with breastfeeding groups so I could get help.  The health visitor came every couple of days and talked things over with me, she encouraged me to tell people what was going on.  So I told my closest friends, their resposes were the same, they never realised there was anything wrong but had wondered why they never saw me.  I was amazed hat how many friends had had the same feelings and had also had tablets for this illness, it amazed me that no one ever talked about it.
 
I am now 3 and a half years on and another baby.  I would love to tell you the garden is rosy and I don’t suffer from this anymore but I do. The difference now is that ALL my friends know.  They all know if I disappear for a week or two i’m not well and they check on me.  Dan is very supportive and he puts up with a lot.  I take my tablets as regular as clockwork and when I don’t it shows.  last year I came off them and threw Dan out.  This year I overdosed.  There is a fine balance between me being well and unwell and we are are constantly, as a couple, working towards making me better.  The biggest thing that I have come to realise is that this is an illness not a condition!  I no longer blame myself for it nor do I see it as something which will just go away.  If I had a cold I would take paracetamol, so for Post Natal Depression I take my tablets, and it will go eventually it just takes time.  The best advice I could possibly give is that nobody should feel stigmatised for having it, everyone should talk about it and if you have it accept help and ask for help.  People will understand and you will be surprised how many of your friends, have it, have had it or know someone with it.  
  
Julie has a great photography website  www.real-photography.co.uk and blogs at http://justaboutbeingamum.wordpress.com/ or http://realphotographyuk.wordpress.com/.

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