How to shine

Choose to shine

Over at Mum turned Mom HQ this week, Sara has gone for a word as this week’s Prompt: Shine. I didn’t immediately know what to say about this and wasn’t going to enter the link up this week, but I find myself with a little time on my hands and started contemplating what ‘shine’ means to me.

The dictionary tells me that to shine is to emit light, to glint or glisten, to excel or to be immediately apparent. When I think about what it takes to shine, as a person, it takes confidence, it takes a happy, outgoing spirit who is not afraid to put his or herself on the line, and, to be more philosophical, it takes a person who can accept that they have a light inside them which can be directed out into the world, to counteract the darkness.

It’s not easy to shine or to feel like you are capable of it. It takes a lot of encouragement and championing but maybe some people are just born to project themselves and their light into the world from an early age (natural born confidence?).

It might be easy to shine if you are born with an innate talent, an innate beauty – but for the rest of us plebs here on Earth it takes a bit of practice. As a mother, how do you shine when every day seems to be about cooking and laundry and school runs and work? You challenge yourself, you shine through your actions, you attempt to bring a little light, however small, into the lives of others.

At the beginning of the year I spent a lot of time thinking about ‘random acts of kindness’. I even contemplated starting up a linky all about encouraging others to both do and share their own RAOK. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and was very taken by the notion of happiness coming through giving of yourself, and now I’m reading a book she recommends A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn and the concept of ‘happiness’ is once again in the forefront of my mind (and I’m not missing the parallel here of the Sun – a metaphor for happiness, and the one word which we most associate with the descriptive ‘shine’).

So go forth and emit your light, people! I know you can do it.

 

mumturnedmom

Love the Little Things 29th August 2014

Read

A landing on the Sun

This week, after recently finishing ‘One Step Too Far’ I decided to steer away from more properly ‘light’ summer reading (the summer is after all, more or less over) and I clicked into another book I downloaded on my Kindle several months ago: A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn. Frayn wrote one of my favourite books, ‘Headlong’ so I knew I would like his style of writing which tends to take you right along on a journey with the main character, as if you are inside their mind and a fly on the wall to their thoughts and discoveries. I was introduced to this book after reading The Happiness Project back in February and it was one of the books on the recommended reading list so, despite the fact that it is set within the walls of Whitehall and deep inside the grey civil service there is an element of mystery and intrigue and I’m fascinated to know what the secret ‘strategy unit’ project is and how it relates to happiness.

Watched

GBBO

After tonight (Thursday!) I’m hoping that I will have had a chance to catch up on this week’s GBBO. I love that show and I also love puddings so this is right up my street!!

Heard

I’ve quite enjoyed listening to Scott Mills and his partner in crime Chris Stark filling in on the R1 Breakfast show this week. They have the potential to be genuinely funny.

We’ve also been treated to several new words from EJ whose language skills are finally picking up!

Wore

Fave winter boots

I rediscovered my current fave winter boots this week which is a bit of a sad thought – August isn’t even over yet! I also wore my raincoat quite a bit during the first part of the week when we were treated to a brief reminder of last winter’s floods.

Made

Epic fail on this front! It’s been one of those weeks where it’s either non-stop children or work and not much in between.

And lastly…

Cousins!

We finally got a chance to catch up with my sister in law and nephews this week. T is ten so quite a bit older than my two but O is just a couple of months apart from EJ and it was lovely to see them play together and make friends (for the most part!). We took them swimming on the rainy bank holiday which was fun and then were treated to lunch by my mother and father in law. They are moving back to the UK from Germany this week and waiting for their new house in Wiltshire to be ready to move into so we had the opportunity to share two days in their company before I had to return to work.

I have been finishing off my last purchases for JJ’s upcoming pirate party and need to make sure I have everything in hand during the coming days.

The most exciting delivery of the week however, was my new iPhone which is the first Apple device I’ve ever owned believe it or not! I’m still trying to get to grips with it at the moment but I love the look and feel of it and I’m so excited that I will finally be able to properly use apps and set up an Instagram profile! Get me – dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century!

Happy Weekend Little Loves

 

butwhymummywhy

Superstition aint the way…

Some days...

The Calvin and Hobbes quote from the cartoon above is this week’s Prompt from Sara over at Mum Turned Mom.

I don’t think of myself as a particularly superstitious person but sometimes find myself shying away from walking under a ladder, or refusing to cross paths with a black cat half way up a flight of stairs* (* that one doesn’t come up very often). I like to think this is just sensible behaviour though (a workman might drop a bucket of paint on your head for example) but I know some people are absolutely religious about their superstitious ways. The one thing that really stuck in my head when I was pregnant the first time was the old adage on magpie sightings “One is for sorrow, two is for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy”. I kept seeing one lone magpie everywhere I looked and it completely freaked me out! Nuts obvs.

I think there is an element of self-fulfilling prophesy with negative superstition – we can blame any number of mishaps on the fact that its Friday 13th or because an umbrella was opened indoors. But it’s the positive superstitions that get me. When your lucky rocket ship underpants don’t work any more, I’d say it’s time to grow up and move on. It’s often said that we make our own luck – you’re not going to win that windfall unless you enter the lottery after all. Maybe this is also true of bad days, negative slumps. Again I veer into territory which is not in any way meant to target those suffering from clinical depression, but for the rest of us, there are strategies to beating a bad day without resorting to the supposedly magical properties of your grundies.

I’m also veering into ‘Happiness Project’ territory now, because I’d say there are a few very simple ways to inject a little light into a dark day:

  • Phone a friend (now you’re thinking that this is interchangeable with the lifelines on WWTBAM – it isn’t, the audience are rubbish at anything beyond the most basic knowledge of Coronation Street regulars.
  • Fresh air and exercise. Not always possible in winter/if you’re stuck at home alone with small children at night, but a good idea in theory.
  • Meditation. Go to your ‘happy place’ for a while (even if it is just the local chip shop)
  • Get a mantra. Weird as it may seem, just reminding yourself of the bigger picture sometimes takes the pain of the present moment away (“At least Postman Pat’s round is not in my post code”, etc.)
  • Laughter is the best medicine. Get someone to tickle you or, failing that, a quick perusal of any political party manifesto should bring tears to your eyes one way or the other.
  • Failing all of the above, a large G&T and a family sized packet of minstrels should do the trick.

Just for the fun of it here are some examples of real superstitions knocking about out there (look out for the one I made up – special re-tweets for anyone who gets it!):

  • It is bad luck to chase someone whilst holding a broom
  • An acorn at the window will keep lightning out
  • If a friend gives you a knife you should give him a coin or your friendship will soon be broken (sounds like a dodgy arms deal gone wrong to me but what do I know?!)
  • It is good luck to encounter a goat on the way to a meeting
  • Getting pooed on by a bird is good luck
  • Getting pooed on by an elephant is bad luck
  • Never wash your hair on a Tuesday

 

mumturnedmom

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Happiness Project: Back on track with a good PMA!

I think I can!

At the beginning of 2014, I was full of conviction about improving myself, my life and having some goals. I spent most of January and February feeling pretty good really, pretty happy, acting on all the advice I had read. Pharell’s ‘Happy’ was topping the charts and filling my morning drives to work with a carefree, uplifting vibe.

But as the next couple of months played out I seem to have lost a little bit of that conviction and forgotten a few key rules and pieces of advice about attaining and holding on tight to happiness. I had been filled with ideas about all the things I would achieve and all the new crafts and hobbies I could take up come April when I began dropping one day of work and gaining a few precious hours of ‘me’ time.

It transpires that 5 hours a week just isn’t long enough to do a full weekly house clean, a couple of cooking projects, learn crochet, visit the cinema, go for a cycle, have a haircut, get a cervical smear, organise your wardrobe, organise the kids wardrobes, visit your local thrift shops, improve your photography, create some amazing artworks, de-clutter the house – oh, and lets not forget improve and boost your blog by writing more, reading more, commenting more and interacting more.

I guess I’m the kind of person who wants to achieve a helluva lot in five minutes! I now know that, realistically speaking, I can only tackle one thing at a time and its going to take many, many weeks to get to the point where I can look back through my Wish/ and To Do List and see the ticks actually appearing down the side.

Secondly, I have fallen foul of one of my worst bugbears – the tendency to comparison. I can find myself becoming so mired in comparing myself unfavourably to others that their lives (and blogs!) begin to make mine feel inadequate: not as beautiful, not as successful, not as organised, not as sociable… I completely lose sight of what I’ve got, who I am, the things I actually love about myself and my life. And it can be the start of a depressing downward spiral as the more I wallow in this feeling of uselessness and inadequacy, the less I get done and the worse I feel.

As Linford Christie once said “it’s all about PMA: Positive Mental Attitude”. I do love a mantra! My first mantra this year took in the joys and exhaustion of parenting little munchkins “The days are long but the years are short…”, but what I really need right now is a good PMA!

Another inspiring quote I read today (via a Bloglovin’ weekly feed) was this from Maya Angelou: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”. She’s hit the nail on the head of course – everything, from social anxiety to fear of failure and the demons that sit on your shoulder and tell you you’re not good enough – everything can be overcome without even lifting a finger because we all have the ability to decide how we choose to think and the things we choose to dwell on. [Before there is a backlash – I should add that I’m not talking about people who suffer with clinical Depression but those of us who are lucky enough to be able to achieve mental balance, whether it be through meditation or simple mindfulness practice).

I’ve often thought that the people who are the most successful are not actually the most beautiful, or necessarily the most intelligent or interesting ones, but the ones who exude an aura of self-confidence and self-belief. I’m not sure if this is the product of nature or nurture or whether it occurs more frequently in people of certain nationalities (I imagine Americans to be more this way inclined than us Brits – something to do with this race of people who have been brought up to believe that they can do anything if they put their minds to it – even become President [of the Western World!]).

Anyway, I guess my point in all this is that I’m back on track, I have a lot to be very happy about and proud of, and as far as self confidence goes – well, some of that comes with age (and not giving a s**t anymore!) and some of it might have to be faked. Well ‘Gotta fake it to make it’ – another great mantra! And I’ll leave you with this from Henry Ford:

henry ford quote

Word of the week – Flump: grappling with happiness

depressed polar bear

This week has been a bit of a weird one for me, after being very upbeat for the last few weeks, following all the tenets of the Happiness Project, and generally feeling very resilient a few negative things happened in quick succession and I’ve found it very difficult to clear my mind of the debris left behind. Sleep took a turn for the worse and I feel the blog has suffered somewhat as every time I have sat down to write its like the ink has dried up in my brain. This culminated, last night, in me sitting down to a bit of web surfing and finding myself unable to read the words of any given paragraph in order (or even in the right words!) I could feel a headache coming on and it was a very weird and disconcerting experience. I realised that I was very tired, having woken at an ungodly hour the night before, fretting over a piece of nonsense in my life that I don’t seem to have been able to let go of. And then I threw in the towel and went to bed at 8.30pm.

The fact that there has been a lot of talk of the MAD Blog Award nominations this last week has also re-ignited this self-comparison demon that I’m trying to banish. I think I may have suffered with this one my entire life and its time to hop onto my little magic carpet and sail above the trees to view the woods in their entirety for once.

I enjoy writing; its nice to know that I have any kind of audience. I’m very lucky to have two healthy, funny little bunnies in my life and next week is April, one of my favourite months!! I also have a hair consultation, treatment, cut and blowdry lined up (for the first time in about 6 or 7 months!) plus lots of little projects to tackle, so there’s no time for flumping! Onwards and upwards!!

(Oh and by the way I think I just created a new verb –  ‘to flump’ – well, it just seems right somehow, eh? Some sort of bizarre crossbreed of slump and funk… No offence Pootle…)

 

The Reading Residence

My Happiness Project: To thine own self be true

to_thine_own_self_be_true

OK so this is it – after reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project I have been vaguely aware that when I am doing or thinking certain things I am not doing myself any favours. I think I finally have to acknowledge that starting my own ‘Happiness Project’ (and logging the journey on my blog) is the way forward. It will allow me to work out some key strategies and hopefully it will be a little bit insightful or inspiring to others too.

Today I was reading through some other bloggers’ posts and considering what it is I like about my favourite blogs and it occurred to me that I tend to have about four standard reactions to what I see/read:

  1.  OMG this woman is quite literally a domestic goddess – LET ME SWAP LIVES/BLOGS right NOW!
  2. This is beautiful work but I know that the person writing is not on the same wavelength as me and therefore I may never consider becoming a follower.
  3. I am feeling informed/engaged/entertained/tickled pink, this content has totally hit my wavelength and the person writing clearly doesn’t know how good they are.
  4. I am feeling entertained/tickled but so are about 10,000 other people and I don’t feel like I can engage because my voice is being drowned out by everyone else’s and how can we respect each other when you will never have time to engage with me?

Perhaps it could be said that the whole experience is a bit like dating…

I’m always comparing upwards and perhaps feeling that my blog is not good enough, not pretty enough, too wordy or some other such nonsense, and that my children are not doing worthy enough projects or coming out with cute enough ‘kiddisms’ but today I had a revelation worthy of Gretchen Rubin (who I shall forewith refer to as The Rubemeister) – I do what I do – which is write, in as engaging a manner as I can possibly manage whilst a 19 month old lobs bits of half chewed sandwich down my cleavage.

My home will never be up to show home standards, I will never crochet an elephant (errr, I’m not sure that is one of my goals actually), I will probably never figure out how to whip up a viral frenzy by riffing on my toddler’s toilet habits or start an Etsy business from home, or write a novel or win a MAD Blogging Award (or even get a nomination! Maybe I should ask – you don’t ask you don’t get…) But the Rubemeister is right – sometimes you have to just let go and accept that every single aspiration that ever pops into your head is not necessarily going to ‘take’. Its a grieving process the letting go – a bit like the day you put your favourite pet in a shoebox, buried it under the cherry tree and wrote a (bad) ode to the beautiful kinky tail never to be seen again (sob!) but at least its closure.

It’s also a chance to reassess what it is you actually do do well, what you are good at, the things that you can actually have a stab at as well as an acknowledgement that you actually quite like your higgledy piggledy bookshelves, colourful piles of toys, nutty little boys, organised chaos and eclectic knowledge of film and literature as well as a photographic memory for all 50 US states (don’t ask – seemed like a good idea at the time…)

All this letting go and embracing is actually quite liberating – I urge you to give it a try…oh and if you fancy it, nominate me for Mad Blogging Awards Best New Blog!

mad blog awards

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