Evolution/Re-volution

Again, I find myself writing a blog post for the first time in a long time. This time, though, the reason behind the lapse is not laziness or apathy. It’s the complete opposite, in fact. Some weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to take a sabbatical from social media. Here is one of my last Twitter posts:

17 Jun – I’ve decided that with vacation time around the corner and my mood at an all time low, now is a good time to take a sabbatical from Twitter

And this is a copy of an email I sent to my ENTIRE address book on the same day (names have been changed as usual):

Hi All

I’ve had a couple of enquiries about this in the last 24 hours so, thought it probably best to send out a wee email…
I deleted my facebook account. I posted a status saying I was going to and then just did it. I guess it removed my status from people’s timeline when I deleted the account.
I just got fed up with it. And I’m a bit fed up in general, mostly from missing Strawbug and I was beating myself up for checking facebook whilst she’s awake and with me, only to read endless horoscope and mafia games postings (my timeline was full of crap – not from you, i hasten to add – and only now and then did I share messages with people directly)…
Those who know me and love me (i.e. you guys) all have my email address and my phone numbers. So, I decided to revert to “old fashioned” communication (haha, as opposed to “totally ancient” communication – i.e. letter writing!) and start actually talking to people rather than posting a sentence on the internet like a project status report (although, email IS allowed – LOL. one has to wean oneself off gradually!).
Sorry if I sound a a bit grumpy, I am – Strawbug has decided sleep is for wimps and inevitably has ended up in our bed kicking 7 bales of sh*t out of us for the last 2 weeks. So we’re all pretty shattered.
Anyway. I’m trimming back my internet activities, for now, and focusing on the little time I have with my Beloved and Strawbug instead. I hope it will lead to a better work/life/technology balance for us all.
I hope you are all well. We are off on our holibobs for a week, couldn’t have come at a better time!
Speak to you all soon
xxx
2 days earlier, I posted this on my Facebook page (which is my actual account linked to my family and friends, not for my pen name):

15 Jun – I’ve decided to close down my facebook account… But you can contact me in the future by phone or by email. Thanks everyone – stay safe and happy 🙂 xxx

It was the result of what I called at the time, a “mini meltdown”. And, if I’m honest, I would still call it that.

Somewhere between 8th June and the 15th June I became engulfed by a wave of guilt, compounded by a wall of tiredness and a weight of sadness I had only experienced once before.

As a person who has suffered from medical depression (not just the kind that a bottle of wine and a giggle with the girls will cure, but the kind where you can’t sleep, or get out of bed, you can’t look at anyone, speak one word or eat a morsel of food and genuinely want it all to end) I was relieved to find that I consciously recognised that I was at a crossroads. One of the paths led to ending it all and the other, well, I wasn’t sure where that path lead, but my heart and my mind were telling me that it had to be better than the path I had travelled before.

So, I (very swiftly) cut out the distractions and tried to re-focus on my priorities. I have logged in to Twitter once since I started my sabbatical, to respond to a kind message from a kind Twitterer asking if I was OK. And I haven’t been back to Facebook at all. As you can tell, until now, I haven’t blogged either.

Although I still use email and text a lot, I call people more often than I used to. It’s quicker and easier to mail/text but it’s so much nicer to talk. I make a conscious effort to be “present” when I’m with my baby Girl and make the most of the little time that we have together. And my Beloved and I are also trying very hard to communicate and connect more often and more deeply. More difficult than it sounds, with a full time job and an almost 1 year old! We’re still tired, but the quality of our family time is really improving.

The biggest effect my sabbatical has had, is that it has given me time to think long and hard about my priorities, my needs and my wants. And I have come to the conclusion that I can do without the iPhone 5, I can do without the 6 weekly hair highlights and I can do without the 5* luxury breaks if it means I get to spend more time with Strawbug. So, in a couple of months, I’ll hopefully be working part time. Maybe even as little as 3 days per week. And for the remaining 4 days I’ll be a “present” Mummy and a housewife and I can’t wait! My “thinking” (in part, thanks to the recent local riots) has even gone as far as ruminating about moving to an entirely different country where Strawbug can grow up to value knowledge, culture, health and morality over gadgets, trainers, handbags and size zero bodies. But that’s for another time. I’m still mulling it over.

Am I evolving? or am I revolving? Either way, I don’t really care. The net result is bliss.

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Today, I blog!

Today, I blog again…

My beautiful little girl is nearly 9 weeks old and the last 9 weeks have been the best and the worst of my life. People tell you it’s the hardest and the best job in the world (being a parent) and they’re right!

I once blogged about how overwhelmed with unconditional love I was for my little furball when he came into our lives. But my love for my baby girl is a gazillion times stronger than that. I could never have imagined it until the first time I looked at her.

Still now, every time I look at her, even when I’m at my lowest ebb; having had no sleep for days and she’s been screaming her little lungs out for what seems like hours (she has colic), all I can think of is that she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. How amazing she is and how lucky I am to have her. I miss her even when I’m just in the other room.

And my love, respect and admiration for my Beloved has grown too. Don’t get me wrong there have been times when the tiredness has presented, let’s call them, significant challenges. But I could not have delivered her without his fortitude. I would not have survived the baby blues or my battle with breastfeeding without his love and support. And I have grown as a person by learning to let him (and my friends and my family) help me.

She is definitely Daddy’s little girl! He brought her into this world with his own hands and she’s had him wrapped around her little finger ever since. But that is a good thing. He will love her and protect her forever, we both will.

Our family has grown and will hopefully continue to grow… although, I’m not sure where we’ll put them. This one tiny little girl has accumulated so much stuff in 9 weeks, we already need a bigger house. How is that possible?!

 

I’ve got a new set of ‘L’ Plates!

In an earlier blog, I noted that my regular January period of contemplation was longer than usual. I can now tell you why… My Beloved and I are having a baby! A first for both of us. And we’re genuinley VERY excited, if also a little terrified!!

So I can now add Learner Mummy to my Bio. And my Beloved has already named the bump-to-be (for the purposes of this blog we’ll use the name Strawbug) For anyone who’s interested, I kept an offline diary of the first 8 weeks or so (post HPT) and I’ve inserted it below. Though I have no intentions at present to become a Mommy Blogger (there are already so many far better than I – modernmomdooce and mommy off the record to name just a few) I can’t promise there’ll be no baby blogs at all. We’ll just have to play it by ear… err, eye.

If there’s anyone out there with any level of experience in this (I count myself as sub-novice) who are willing to share their experiences (particulalry handy hints and tips) – I’m happy to hear them. Just use the comments box and leave a note.

Diary
4 Wks Pregnant – Found out. In shock! Mild panic even. Feel like my period is coming. Don’t feel pregnant at all. Boobs seem to have upped a cup size already, though!

5 Wks – OK, really worried about these cramps now, some of them are really strong and I’m totally knackered. Had to buy bigger bras.

6 Wks – Went to the Doctor, they didn’t even test me. Just gave me a list of what not to eat, congratulated me and sent me on my way.

7 Wks – Feel sick. OMG this is horrid. Bring back the cramps! (Thankfully
only lasts Thursday to Monday).

8 Wks – My birthday. Starts out a bit of a limp event. Ends up lovely. Partly because I dress up; make up, heels, feel like Me for a few hours and partly because I fell asleep for 3 hours again in the afternoon so kind of realising I wouldn’t have coped with a big deal birthday anyway!

9 Wks – Feeling mostly normal again. Still knackered. Towards the end of the week I get an angry head on for no reason. OMG just had a bubble in the loo at work, how embarrassing! Now I’m giddy as hell, think I’m going bi-polar!

10 Wks – Rollercoaster! Low and tired and done in. Hate work. Not overly happy about sitting on the sofa every night and every weekend either but can’t find the energy to do anything else. This should be the happiest time of my life. Why am I miserable? Wait! … It seems Michael Jacksons “Thriller” album is the perfect cure.
Broke the news to the family on Sunday. Everyone very excited!
Feel sick again and have permanent headache behind my right eye. Thankfully, my Beloved is working from home this morning and makes me a sweet cup of tea with some ginger biccies. All better.
Spoke too soon! Caught tummy bug. Hope Strawbug‘s OK!

11 Wks – Feel normal again. Too normal… Strawbug? You still there?
Got a constant headache behind my right eye. Making me feel queasy. Caved in after 3 days solid and took 2 paracetemol… not sure they’ll be strong enough.

12 Wks – Bought The Best Friends Guide to Pregnancy a couple of days ago. Been reading it avidly. Trouble is, it makes me laugh so much and laughing makes me cry! My Beloved thinks I’m a nutcase!
So nervous, can hardly sleep. Have my dating scan tomorrow and I’m convinced there’ll be nothing there. My friend told me about someone she knows having a Phantom Pregnancy… But then even if there is something there, what if there’s something wrong… Feel sick with nerves.

WOW! My life has just changed forever!!

This morning I seen my baby for the first time. I cried my eyes out, though my Beloved managed to stay strong. He was passing me tissues with one hand and squeezing my hand so hard with the other. The scan print out is amazing. So clear. I was expecting an experience closer to Rachel in Friends (where is it? I can’t see it) but this is just the most incredible picture in the world. Strawbug was moving around like crazy (not that I could feel it, but I could see it). His/Her arms were flailing around in front – either he/she is going to be a boxer, or dance like his/her Dad! And then, just before the session ended, he/she started sucking his/her thumb!!! I want to stay hooked up to this machine for the next 6 months… I don’t want to miss a minute of my beautiful baby’s life.

Our Little Rhubarb

If You Love Someone, Set Them Free

So, this weekend, my Beloved and I took a (fairly) major decision. Partly for selfish reasons and partly for selfless reasons.

We’ve always kept our little cat in at nightime. Mostly, because I can’t sleep wondering if the bigger cats in the neighbourghood (of which there are many) have beat him to a pulp or if (as has happened before and nearly destroyed me) he’s gotten stuck somewhere he can’t get out of, or some other horrific event has been visited upon him.

I have always reasoned that it’s also better for the local wildlife if he’s not out hunting their numbers to extinction – though how much wildlife a cat could actually find in a neighbourhood that’s not inner city enough to be urban but not far enough out to be suburban, I don’t know. Helped to keep my concience clear(ish) though.

My Beloved (a cat owner since he was born) has always maintained that cats are nocturnal creatures and probably shouldn’t be cooped up all night. Though, as he does love me very very much, he went along with it and understood. The cat didn’t really seem to mind either. After all, he’d never known anything different. Until…

For the last 3 weeks our little fur-baby has been waking us around the 5am mark, then the 4:30am mark, then around 4am until the end of last week when he started waking us up at 3:30am to get out and do his ablutions (he doesn’t like to “Go” in the litter tray anymore – he’s discovered his dignity).

So on Friday night, we decided (at my suggestion – this surprised me more than my Beloved I think) that we should maybe not lock the cat flap at night and then he could get out if he needed to “Go” without waking us up at silly o’clock in the morning. We decided best to trial this new venture that very weekend as we would be at home all weekend and he would then feel more comfortable that we hadn’t abandoned him (I know, I’m totally crazy).

So here we are, 5 nights later. The first night I don’t think he realised it was open so stayed in until his normal 4am before giving it a try. The next couple of nights he was out, and in, and out and in and out all flaming night! But last night, he went out after dinner to (I hope) play with his friends and then came in about 11:30pm and slept all night (well till about 6am) in his old favourite spot, right underneath my half of the bed 🙂 I couldn’t believe my luck. My cat does love me! (NB: his new favourite spot is behind a box bed in an entirely different room, as far away from me as possible!).

So, there you go. We managed to achieve a win/win situation. (Status Quo dependant). If you love someone, you have to set them free. And then there’s a very good chance they will want to come back to you!

But yes, I’ll admit, I’m still finding it hard to sleep but I’m learning. And yes, I do have a mild pang of guilt about the longevity of the local widlife – especially as this morning my Beloved found a “little present” waiting for him in the guest room!

The Goddess of Inappropriate Laughter

Well, I’m 3 days into my Positive December… And boy have I been challenged. And I’m not just referring to the freezing cold blustery weather that appeared on the doorstep on December 1st, like an unwanted relative who has no conception of the etiquette of family visits. And, by the way, a side thought… how come winter looks so cosy in the movies, but in real life makes you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards?

No, this has been worse. It’s almost like Malapropos, the God of Inappropriate Jokes, heard my pledge and made a wager with the other Gods… “1st to break her wins a tenner!

And they nearly did. They’ve thrown all sorts of work-related, personal, financial and, not to forget, weather-based crap at me this month. And it’s only just started!! And then, last night, at the most serious point in a very serious “discussion” with my Beloved, I burst out laughing!

Well, my first reaction was to scold myself – “look what you’ve done, you’ve lost the argument now!“. My second reaction was utter confusion – “why am I laughing?“, but that only made me laugh more. I managed to regain my frosty exterior for a while… Until I eventually gave up being miserable and tried to remember all the stuff I’d learned about choice and positivity.

When I woke up this morning, I realised how “not serious” the situation we were “discussing” was. And how, I hadn’t lost at all. In fact, I’d won for a change. I hadn’t festered in misery and anger for days. I’d (and possibly for the first time ever) said my piece then let it go (almost) immediately.

So, I’d like to thank the Goddess of Inappropriate Laughter for coming to my rescue. All we need now is to get the God of Winning Lottery Numbers on side and we’ll be sorted!!

The Fear

They say you have to conquer your fear if you are to live a full and satisfying life. And I think most of us live with fear of some sort. Not necessarily highly visible and conscious fear, like arachnophobia or agoraphobia. It’s more subtle than that and it’s linked to our confidence, our self esteem.

Strangely, whilst we normally understand and empathise with physical illness more openly than mental illness, when it comes to fear, we seem to do the opposite. We find it crazy that people are scared of spiders but are really quite understanding of those who are afraid of having their heart broken. I think it’s because deep down, we all have similar feelings, but are not necessarily ready to admit it. Or, is that just me?

Some people have a fear of failure, some a fear of being hurt (emotionally). Many of us feel different fears at different times in our lives, sometimes a little each day. I feel fear. Not as often as when I was younger, admittedly… maybe over time I’ve been conquering fear, but like a scene in a really bad horror movie it just won’t give up and die already!

It took me years to understand my fear. For a long time I just couldn’t put my finger on it. But, now I know exactly what it is. And I think it could be the craziest fear of all! My fear is one of losing something. But of losing something I don’t yet have. A fear of losing the opportunity to have something. To lose “what could be”. I told you it was crazy!!

I spent much of my early life wanting more, wishing my life away, dreaming and wondering… I say early life, I mean up until about 4 or 5 years ago. Someone said to me only yesterday, that they used to be a habitual clock watcher, but that they consciously stopped looking forward to the weekend when they, suddenly one day, realised that every minute of every day was their life. They had to live in the now and experience it all.

For my part, I’m pretty good at living in the now and appreciating what I have. Well, as I say, now I am pretty good at that. Don’t get me wrong. I still have my moments… and I still have my dreams. In fact, I had a BIG moment the other night. My beloved and I were experiencing a “bit of conflict” during which The Fear gripped me unexpectedly. I admit I lost it. What I don’t know is what the trigger was. What is it that poked the fear monster with a sharp stick and woke it from its long and deep sleep? Working that out, I guess, is the next step.

What I did do, after regaining it, was to try to make sense of things in a positive way. So, I wrote a short poem. Only one verse. And I’d like to share it with you:

Fear is a torrent
Engulfing the soul
Arresting development
Reducing the whole

The process didn’t get me to Oz, but it did help to get me a couple of steps further along the yellow brick road. Life continues to be a journey of self-discovery. I wrote on my About Me page that I was a learner when it came to blogging, but not so much in life. I beg to differ with myself! It appears that I’m still learning that too.

That Christmas feeling

I’ve just spent 24 hours in Leeds with two of my closest girlfriends. The plan was no men, no kids, just us girls, a bit of shopping and a lot of cocktails in Harvey Nic’s.

We’d all been looking forward to the trip for some time. My friend (who I’m always starting Yoga with) and I have had two similar excursions over the last 18 months, both of which resulted in both of us spending lots of money we didn’t have on expensive purchases and countless apple martini’s. Not that my beloved minded, he was on the receiving end of the majority of my lavish gift buying!

For me, this weekend was about kicking off the festive season proper. Lavish Christmas gift buying, cocktails and giggles. I managed the second two.. It was a tremendously fun weekend. It really was so good to spend quality time with my girls! But, as I’ve just said to my friend… I’m still not feeling “Christmassy”.

I recall that I had a similar feeling last year. It was well into December before “that Christmas feeling” started to make itself known to me. You may think this normal. But, I am very well known in my close circles to be more than slightly obsessed with the festive season; writing my letter to Santa by October 31st at the latest, having my table settings planned and organised by the end of November and generally acting with exponential giddiness from around November 1st.

But it seems that either something (or things) are getting in the way or other things are becoming more important, as I get older… I’m not sure which. Or, maybe it’s a bit if both.

What I am sure of, though, is that Christmas is becoming less about “me” (in my own mind I mean). Hey, I’m not saying that it’s not about me at all. My whole life is generally “all about me”. Just ask my beloved. But, I’m getting better. I even suggested that a meal in a restaurant may be an easier option this year, as opposed to the full traditional dinner for 13 at my Mum’s – and I should tell you that anything that doesn’t fall into the archetypal Hollywood Movie Christmas Day scene is generally met with horror and revolt by me!

So, maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not feeling Christmassy just yet. It will give Santa one less kid to worry about this year!