I just thought I’d update everyone since I’m almost exactly six months into the new direction hair-wise. And as those who actually have to see me most days will verify, I’ve not looked back.
Yep. Every new colour brings a little adventure, a small amount of excitement and a lot of happiness into my life.
Actually, the happiness was there already. I’m just expressing it through the hair.
You see, the great thing about doing something a bit nuts like this is, you find yourself in a place mentally where you just don’t care if other people think you’re crazy. Yes, some people make comments, but most of them are nice. And you tend to ignore the very occasional ones that aren’t, since they’re almost always from people I don’t know and whose opinion isn’t important to me.
Since the end of last year, I’ve got very used to dyeing my hair a heap of bright colours. Right now it’s a mix of bright blue, navy and violet.
Before that it was blue and green.
Before that it was flourescent red.
And I’ve loved them all. In the process I’ve forgotten my self-consciousness, which was still riding quite high when I wrote the first post about this. I’m getting to the point here slowly, I promise.
2015 has possibly been the most enjoyable year for me, ever. Because, while I still have hang-ups about various aspects of my appearance, for the first time ever, two things have happened.
- I am being ME.
- I feel like my life is the journey I want it to be.
About the first one, being me, well, I have to admit, a year ago, I didn’t think being me involved crazy hair. But then I did it, and it was so right for me. I look in the mirror and it’s right. It’s me. That’s who I am. There may be more of this me – it may evolve as I do. That’s fine. But I feel happy about the feelings inside being channelled through how I present myself.
As for the second thing. I’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t fit very well. My perseverance kept them going long after others might have given up. A big part of why I tried all those things was because I lacked the confidence to do what I love the most. I felt that if I kept persevering, something would work. I was desperate to do something well, not realising I had it all along if I focussed my efforts in alignment with my natural instincts and passions.
But those things that didn’t work out…they are part of what put me on the right track. I don’t regret a single one of them. They are part of the journey that got me to this point. Each decision, each challenge, each struggle, gave perspective and with help, eventually put me on track to find the joy – real joy – and fulfilment that until that point I had only found in my children.
It was incredibly difficult to give up so many things. I felt like I was letting people down. Good people that I liked and cared about a lot – and I still do! I felt that I was yet another failure for not seeing those projects through to the end… I felt a great deal of guilt for months…until the me underneath started to shine through again.
That was when I knew it had been the right decision. Finally, I could see where I was going, and it was a clear road! I knew what to do, I knew it would take just as much effort as many of the other less successful things I had done. Only this time my heart was truly in it. My passion, my talents and my instincts were all in alignment.
The last few months have been filled with joy and happiness because of this. My self-confidence, even though there’s plenty of room for improvement, has stayed high. My children are that much more fun to be around because I’m able to enjoy them properly without feeling guilty about not doing all the other things. My husband is happier because I’m happier and it rubs off.
It’s not been easy, but boy, I’ve come a long way in a year. In all my adult life I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled. And it keeps getting better as my confidence grows and I persevere my passions.
So this is really a post to acknowledge that there really is a lot of joy in my life. And to appreciate what a blessing it really is.
Why does it hurt so much when one of your offspring hurls those words at you?
This morning was fine until half an hour ago. Middle child had been getting ready, though a little late for my liking. But at half past eight, she tells me she needs to do her homework. Half past eight is when we leave for school.
So I explain to her that she’ll have to go without having done her homework. She got this homework a week ago. She’s had loads of time. I’ve checked with her many times over the week to see if she’s got anything outstanding.
She refuses to go to school unless she’s done her homework.
Even if she were an only child I wouldn’t consider this to be a good plan. As it is, it would be totally unacceptable for her to be that late for school. To make her sister that late as well would be even worse.
After which follows a fair bit of screaming and insult hurling. I try and keep my voice even. I succeed, though my no-nonsense tone was in use throughout and my volume was rather louder than I would like. She gets to school just as the bell goes, but only because I made her. Every time she tells me she hates me, I tell her how much I love her. Not that she’s listening.
I whisk smallest one in and apologise to the teacher on her sister’s behalf for her lateness.
And I come home wanting to cry.
On the plus side. I didn’t scream at her. I didn’t give in. And we haven’t had a school run meltdown like this in quite a while.
On the down side. According to her it’s all my fault. And she can’t see it any other way. I’m not getting through, though I do repeatedly explain myself. It falls on deaf ears. She’s too busy blaming me.
It’s been great this week until now. I’ve done my best to tune into her and she’s been adorable. Then something goes wrong and it’s like a house of cards that come crashing down.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent who has moments like these. But I’d welcome any ideas. When these moments come, I simply can’t get through.
Often when I blog about a problem I find myself a solution by the end. Not today. But if I do find a solution, rest assured I will publish a jubliant post celebrating!
No photos today. Not really the right kind of post for it.
Hope you all have a tantrum free day! See you soon :-)
After school she’s been a ray of sunshine, lots of smiles and cuddles, done lots of homework and been generally adorable. I just popped my head in on her and she’s sleeping with all her favourite cuddly toys neatly arranged around her pillow. Bless.
Also, earlier this afternoon I put some feelers out. Someone I know is a children’s counsellor/play therapist. Middle child knows this. She even approved of the enquiry email I sent! And she likes the idea of someone she can talk to regularly who is on her side, with whom she can get all those enormous feelings off her chest. Someone who might just be able to help her find ways to control her temper when things go wrong. So I am slowly pursuing a long term solution.
Looking back on the day as a whole reminds me that this is just a blip. Yes, there are lots of blips. But she is, thankfully, absolutely lovely most of the time. It’s hard sometimes, but I wouldn’t ever want to be without her.
Um. So I coloured my hair a month or so ago.
I’ve done this before. A spot of purple for a party once. Another spot of purple I won in a raffle. Some purple streaks a few months ago. And oodles of highlights over the last two decades.
My normal appearance, until recently, would be something along the lines of the following three pictures. Colour varying from mousy brown to blonde highlights.
Since mid November, though, it looks like this.
So it’s quite a change.
There’s been a lot of comments, and most of them have been very nice. Those that weren’t were gentle teasing and, if there’s one thing I learned from the experience, it’s that people will almost certainly say something.
A lot of people asked, what made me decide to do it? In all honesty, I’m not sure. All I know is that I got to a point where I really, really wanted to. But if I look back over the year I can sort of see how it came about.
2014 has been quite a year. In the first 6-7 months I ran a marathon (runner 44234 if you want to look up my time!), ran a local branch of a charity, taught some lovely antenatal groups, went on a lovely holiday to France, returned to being a professional musician, saw some good friends and poured a lot of love and attention into my micro business.
The marathon, while I was training for it, took over everything. I had made a commitment and I had to do it. I felt better than I’d ever done before. All this exercise was new and exciting, if quite hard work and very time consuming. The marathon happened in April. It was harder than childbirth, but I did it somehow and raised over £2000 for the NCT. It now feels like it happened to someone else.
After the marathon, I tried my best to catch up with everything I’d been neglecting. But over the years I’d been piling up my obligations and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to give everything the attention it needed and deserved. I found myself pruning things to the bare minimum, house, job, business, kids, everything but the music in fact, and feeling terribly guilty about it. And in the meantime I wasn’t really exercising any more.
By July I was feeling massively overwhelmed with all my obligations and, the moment I had dropped the kids off at school (almost always late) and shut the door on the world, I would burst into tears from the stress of it all. If I didn’t burst into tears, I would eat to mask the issues, or go and take a long nap which avoided it entirely. None of which was especially healthy.
This is where my antenatal teacher training came in handy. We learn to be reflective practitioners, so when this had been happening a while and clearly wasn’t just a blip, I did at least recognise that it was a serious problem and realise I had to do something about it. So I got in touch with a CBT counsellor I know. Over the summer and early autumn, we worked through a lot of issues. And I mean a lot.
In July and August I did as little as possible. I let other people take over some of the things that couldn’t be ignored for a while, and left the rest. In September I did the same, but became more active, taking Zumba classes, and rehearsing for some gigs coming up the next month. It was a fragile month. I was still quick to tears, but I was feeling a lot better. In October my music commitments took over. It was very busy, but I was loving being a musician again, and the fragility was starting to fade.
By November I felt GREAT. I had literally forgotten what it was like to feel normal. I hadn’t felt this OK in years. Not since smallest one was born back in 2010. And this time not just feeling normal and OK, but feeling actually happy. I have always felt happy when in good company or doing things I love, but prior to this summer I’ve had various feelings of guilt and obligation hanging over me, preventing me from being particularly happy the rest of the time. Stemming back from my senior school. For the first time, I’m feeling happy and content generally. I’m feeling like a huge weight has been lifted from me. I’m back into the housework (though it does give way when I have music or antenatal work on the go), I’m not needing to nap, I’m not feeling stressed all the time. So it’s a new, super-squeaky-shiny happy. I’ve been liberated from all the baggage that was weighing me down and knocking my confidence in myself.
So maybe it’s not surprising that by November I felt motivated to do something that showed the world I was a present and active participant in life, and not hiding from anything. I felt a strong urge to do something more noticeable. Eventually those feelings came out in vibrant, pillarbox red hair. And I have to say, I love it.
I’m still pretty busy. The house still looks like a tip most days. But that’s fine. Because when I do clean it up, I actually enjoy it. I’m loving spending time with my children when 6 months ago I felt guilty doing so, because I felt I should be catching up on everything else. I’ve had to make some serious cuts to the things I love doing. I’m no longer volunteering in a senior role. my micro-business is in hibernation, and there’s been a number of smaller things I’ve given up on too. I’ve finally realised I can’t do it all, and that that’s OK. Everything I have done has brought me closer to people, helped others and also been part of my journey to where I am now.
But I feel good. I feel happy. I feel connected with my family. I feel fully engaged with my teaching and my music. I feel alive. And (especially with my new hair!) I am feeling present in the world. Maybe in some way, the hair is a celebration of the return of my mojo.
Since the change my hair has had a separate identity. I no longer refer to it as ‘my’ hair.
And yes! It’s my first blog post in many, many months. And it wasn’t even a funny one.
I’ll continue to blog sporadically. No promises on timing.
Peace and love. And other festive wishes too!
Oops. Been a VERY long time since I blogged properly. I must learn to stop making promises I’m too busy to keep. Sorry.
Anyway, I’m typing on an old laptop with a new keyboard that’s improved things from some-keys-don’t-work-at-all-since-smallest-one-picked-them-all-off …to works-OK-if-you’re-prepared-to-type-as-if-your-fingers-were-tiny-sledgehammers. My desk now looks out of our living room window and the kids, some of whom came home from school in a really bad mood, have turned the volume up on the stereo and are bouncing round behind me.
I felt inspired to reach for my inner poet today, what with my loved one being, well, just lovely. Life goes on at such a fast pace that sometimes it takes me a while to stop, reflect and realise just how wonderful he is to me. So I wrote a poem in advance of our weddng anniversary. Thought I’d share it with you. Some of you will recognise the references…and if you want to ask more the comments section is open!
(Feeling quietly proud of achieving a proper Iambic Heptameter too.*)
Another spring comes round again;
We’ve reached that time of year
When daffodils and crocuses
And blossomed trees are here.
From this I know that very soon
For one sweet day and night
I get to have you to myself:
A rare but fine delight.
I bless the day I realised
That you were meant for me,
I must admit, I was amazed
That you seemed to agree!
From broken ankles, moving in,
Eclipses, trips and more
I bear two moments dearest
When I knew our love was sure.
The first was back in Central Park –
You sprang a ring on me.
I was relieved you listened
And stayed off the bended knee.
The glistening snow, the words you spoke
Were such a huge surprise
I really couldn’t stop the tears
That trickled from my eyes.
The second time, our wedding day
I knew our love was strong
But when we spoke the vows we gave
I realised I’d been wrong.
I knew right then that what we had
Was so much more than love.
The feelings that we had that day
Had reached a plane above.
Today we’re twelve years further on
And one thing I have learned
My love is sometimes buried deep
Which risks you feeling spurned.
So let me now articulate
Those feelings deep inside.
I love you more than life itself
I cannot stem the tide.
The flow of love I have for you
Is matched by you alone.
Through times when we are struggling
Or kept away from home.
Each year I love you more and more;
I take my strength from you.
It’s you that makes my life complete:
I love you through and through.
Here’s a little photo of Loved One. Just in case you were wondering what he looks like.
Thanks for reading! Till the next time…
*yes, I did have to look that up.
Hello everyone! How long has it been since I last posted? A year? Goodness knows.
Well, I am firing the brain dribbles back up again, and specifically on this night, because in exactly 6 months’ time I will be doing something really rather crazy. In my opinion, anyway.
Let me rewind three months and tell you the story from the start…
Back in July, I resolved to myself that I would do a parachute jump for NCT and raise some money to help us set up a much needed baby café (breastfeeding drop-in clinic) in Wycombe town centre. I had always wanted to give it ago, and had already put it off three years running. A bit too much alongside having a baby and moving house…
So I emailed head office to enquire. They emailed back, saying, sorry, not doing it next year. How about something else? Maybe the London Marathon? Applications available in a month’s time.
My eyes popped out of my head. If you don’t already know me, I’m overweight, technically obese, and haven’t run in 20-plus years. I haven’t done any regular exercise since having my children. It was out of the question. And how disappointing not to be able to do a parachute jump after all. So I replied, saying, not for me, thanks, not for an award-winning couch potato. I’d had something altogether less strenuous in mind. Jumping out of a plane is easy by comparison.
But then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s as if they had sowed a seed and it had taken root. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that by doing something WAY out of my comfort zone, the more it might be worth sponsoring. And, for me, it doesn’t get further from my comfort zone than running a marathon.
So, when the applications became available, I sent it in the same day. Amazingly, they accepted me as one of the 8 NCT runners nationwide. And all the money I raise (£2014, so I’ll need all the help I can get!), can go towards setting up the breastfeeding drop-in that mums of new babies so badly need in the Wycombe area.
Now it’s real, and I am training. I think it sunk in when I ran in the pouring rain yesterday and I had to take my specs off to see where I was going…. So please sponsor me if you can!
Sometimes things don’t turn out how you plan. Maybe something unexpected happens. Maybe you thought you would have the cash for something you really wanted and were waiting for for months, and then you realise you just don’t have that kind of money. You had put off facing the obvious truth because you weren’t ready to believe it. It wouldn’t be the first time I wanted to do something and only later realised the money wasn’t there.
So that happened to me a while back, and I had to let some people down. So I sent an apologetically toned email explaining the situation.
Then I received an email from one of those people a few weeks later, asking me if I could change my mind. So I explained again, much more fully, that it just wasn’t an option, even though I was sad that I couldn’t make it work out. It took me a long time to write, because the person who sent the email is important to me.
I received a two sentence reply. The response implied that they didn’t understand that I cared. That I had spent a long time trying to find a solution to the problem and failed. Even though I had said so, in the email. Extensively.
I love email, it keeps me in touch with people I would otherwise lose entirely. But sometimes it really sucks as a form of communication.
Or maybe it just sucks because people choose to read what they want, no matter what words are in front of them. When I read the two sentence reply, I felt that my correspondent wanted to be offended. If I had been able to call, maybe that person would have been offended anyway. My inability to produce a magic wand and make it all better appears to have made me the wrongdoer.
Or maybe I am choosing to read what I want from that person’s short reply. I still feel there is a lack of understanding or perspective due to the words used, but maybe no offence has been taken. Maybe it is me reading into it. That’s the thing with email and written forms of communication. It’s too easy to assume how the other person is thinking when they write it.
I don’t really have a solution here. It just worries me that a few emails can seemingly create a faultline in such a cherished relationship. It has weighed on my mind for some time already. I will wait, and hope for understanding. If it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come. And that really would be a shame.
Has anyone else had this kind of experience? Or maybe read something into someone else’s words that wasn’t there?
I promised you more about my musical shenanigans… and it’s been a very interesting couple of months on that front. In a good way! (It’s rare for me to not enjoy anything involving music. Unless it’s rap or hip-hop, of course. Oh, and terrible 90s club music. Ugh.)
The bad news is, our choir’s professional conductor fell ill and had to take time off for a couple of months. The good news is, he’s now fine. And in the meantime the choir kindly let me have a go at the helm. So I spent Friday afternoons waving at the piano to the music, Friday evenings waving at the choir singing the music, and finally last week waving at the choir performing the music in concert.
Steep learning curve doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had to re-learn how to conduct properly rather than just keep a beat ticking (even that was back in my student days), and I had to really know the music. As someone who’s been lucky enough for sight-reading to come naturally, that was a surprise.
But it was so worth it. I enjoyed the experience immensely. If I’m not mistaken and people did honestly appreciate and enjoy the concert, I was OK at it too.
And, even though I could never keep that kind of thing up while the kids are still young, it did ignite a spark of ambition to take this more seriously some time in the not-too-distant future.
I feel a summer school coming on one day …