Dreams Really Do Come True

love you celine

Tuesday night a dream came true.  I fought back fear and was seated in the O2 arena, listening to what some have deemed the eighth wonder of the world: Celine Dion.  I say fought back my fear due to the recent terror attacks in London. I was debating with myself whether it was selfish of me to go. What if something did happen?  Having children has definitely made me more fearful. More fearful of everything.

I was very uneasy of leaving my children anyway, my youngest is not even 4 months and my eldest is old enough to know that I won’t be home for bedtime cuddles and kisses. Getting to the O2, the security was much more stringent than I remember and despite my earlier protestations my husband and I enjoyed a wonderful meal together prior to entering the actual arena. To be honest, I felt uneasy throughout the night and when we found our seats I couldn’t help but look for the nearest fire exit and wonder how many people could make it out of the arena safely.

It was not long until Celine’s supporting act entered the stage. I had not heard of Veronic DiCaire before but I hope this night was not the last time. She was beyond amazing and although I knew Celine was coming on stage as soon as Veronic completed her set, I was left wanting more. She reminded me a lot of Celine in her looks, the way she spoke (as a French/Canadian she had the exact same accent) and she definitely warmed the arena with her voice and her charm. Commenting on the recent terror attacks, she remarked on the British resilience with such feeling, I was left in tears. She remarked on the need to celebrate music and that was exactly what we did. Terrorism is more than how many people are killed (as heart-breaking as each death is) but how much fear they bring to our lives. They want us to stop living as we do and I am so glad that I refused to let them win.

Excitement was building when the time came for Celine to come on stage.  What seemed to be from out of nowhere she was there.  Although the concert tickets were sold out Celine Dion is able to make you feel she is performing to you only.  She converses with the crowd throughout the show with humour and compassion and you feel she is talking directly to you. It all seemed so natural and unrehearsed. There was no grand display on stage, or grand costume changes. It felt more about being there for one another rather than putting on a show with grand lighting effects.  My husband fortunately brought good seats, however towards the end of the show, Celine broke with protocol and walked off stage, through the crowd and sang the last song from a podium less than 15 feet away from where our seats were. Having an aisle seat meant that Celine walked straight past me. Most people had their phones up to their faces and taking pictures but I wanted to remember that moment.  The moment she looked at me and smiled. The moment I felt that she and I were the only two people in that arena.

She may be thirteen years older than me but I feel I can relate to her on so many levels, as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. We have both suffered the loss of a loved one through Cancer and know that grief is like the disease itself. You will forever be recovering rather than free from it. As she dedicated the song to the victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks, you could feel and hear the compassion she felt for everyone. 

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Celine Dion, despite her ‘diva’ status has no pretence in front of others, there was a moment when she was overcome with emotion during the concert. She is not shy at showing her feelings or at laughing and joking, even at herself. I feel I have walked away from the concert with a new friend. For me she is so relatable on so many levels as a person rather than a product that just happens to sing beautiful music. It was the memories of her singing at the O2 that helped me through soothing a feverish 4 month old to sleep in 33 degree heat while her older sister was crying for me to cuddle her. 

So many people say it is risky meeting your idols and that often our expectations do not meet the reality. Watching Celine at the O2 was reminiscent of seeing my daughter walking behind Elsa in the parade at Disneyland. Elsa spotted her and several times blew her kisses, made a heart and even sent her some magic. The look on my daughter’s face was unforgettable. Now I know how she felt. Reality did not meet expectations, it exceeded them. Not only that but I am determined to keep those feelings safely tucked away for times when I need to draw on them. Like last night.

It just goes to show that you never know the effect you have on people. In a similar fashion, you never know what is going on behind closed doors, behind the smiles that people portray.  That is why we must always be gentler with people, kinder and less inclined to judge them. I had always known that and have tried to put that in practice in my relations with other people, however it was watching Celine that bought it home for me. There is a reason that Celine Dion is as successful as she is, having a good voice is not enough. You need to be likeable. Relatable. Human. That is exactly what she is.

Celine

Opening image: my own

Second image: www.metro.co.uk

Closing image: blastingnews.com

The Silent Cry of Mothers

baby-fingers-motherWe  have seen a black US president, the UK is now governed under its second female prime minister, we have legalised same-sex marriages and depression and mental health issues are now beginning to come to the fore and slowly becoming less and less of a ‘dirty word’ attributed more to the unfortunate deaths of famous, well-known personalities than any form of social awareness.

Recently I have come across an article describing the unfortunate suicide of an acquaintance and a new mother. Rather than writing about her mental health issues and lack of medical support and diagnosis, sordid details of her death and her past have instead been published in detail in what I am presuming is a delusional act of raising awareness.

What puzzles me is why there was a need to report it so publicly online and via paper media ensuring that the details contained will remain within the public domain. She was not a public figure but a mother possibly battling the proven medical condition flippantly termed as the ‘baby blues’. Should her symptoms have been taken more seriously, she may still be here, watching her daughter grow.

Unfortunately there is such a fine line between the “baby blues” and post-natal/partum depression that many more women are suffering unnecessarily and in silence, particularly as it does not only affect ‘new mothers’. As with every disease, the longer it is left untreated, the worse it gets. The trouble is, those suffering from baby blues fear they have depression, and similarly those suffering from depression are not provided with sufficient care to have the mechanisms in which to manage their depression.

post-partum-depression

It has been proven by European scientists that pregnancy not only alters a woman’s body (sometimes permanently) but also introduces a chemical imbalance within a woman’s internal system that unfortunately also remains permanent, particularly if the new mother has a tendency for vulnerable thoughts and acts. In fact in just analysing the brain function of women, scientists were able to pinpoint which of the women were or had been pregnant and which had not. However, this was not mentioned in the article.

We need more social awareness of this condition following pregnancy and those entrusted with our care need sufficient knowledge and training in dealing with such symptoms. With regard to the sad and preventable story of my acquaintance to whom this blog post is dedicated, to have feelings of mental instability following the birth of her daughter and having previously been diagnosed with mental health issues but only being prescribed sleeping pills from her GP  is frankly a severe gross misconduct of care.

bad-momentsMore attention needs to be paid to the existence of post-natal depression so that new mothers are not living in fear of having their children taken away from them or being classed as bad mothers if they seek help. How long will it take before mothers will no longer be afraid to admit that motherhood is not a natural state for everyone? That it is a struggle and remains so for the rest of their lives? How many lives will have to be irrevocably changed before adequate measures are put into place? How many trashy, sordid and disrespectful articles will need to be written in the name of journalism, raking up feelings and hurting those left behind before a decent article is written that raises awareness of issues so many women face daily yet silently?

As a society we are proud of our changing attitudes to social issues yet depression and mental health issues remain on the back burner of our social conscience. It is as much a disease as Cancer yet sadly preventable if taken seriously and diagnosed properly. People should be treated as individual people. We should not be a tick boxing exercise and just because my acquaintance may not have had a troubling home life and had a secure and respectful job, does not mean that she was not depressed. Depression is not necessarily associated by external factors but is a mental health issue. A chemical imbalance. An unfortunate disease that can not be helped and is not the fault of the sufferer.

Due to the inadequate and thoughtless care from the medical profession and the insensitive, callous reporting, a little girl will have no memories of her mother and will grow up surrounded by the sordid details and may I say proven discrepancies of her mother’s death. If my acquaintance’s daughter reads anything concerning her mother’s death online years from now, I hope that it is this: your mother loved you and it was not your fault, neither was it hers. It was ours and I’m sorry.

Hands make heart shape

If you are experiencing feelings and emotions of post-natal depression or know someone who is, please do reach out for help.

The Samaritans 
Mind


Further reading:

www.bbc.co.uk

www.herviewfromhome.com


Opening image: www.abc.net.au

Second image: slideplayer.com

Third image: littlecackles.wordpress.com

Closing image: girlpowerhour.com

I Love You Enough…

Home made party cupcake with a number candle on topFour years ago  I embarked on the breathtaking journey of motherhood. This past weekend my little girl turned 4 and today I applied for primary schools for her. It seems wrong somehow. I still see her as the vulnerable little baby that entered the world not so long ago and later took her first vulnerable steps towards my open arms.

I make a habit of telling my daughter that I love her multiple times a day, even when she is sleeping, however every day I wonder how much she knows I love her and whether she will ever know.

So to my little four-year old girl I hope you know:

I love you enough that I would go without so you could have that extra treat.

I love you enough to always put you first.

I love you enough to always include family in our lives so the memories you make with them will last long after they have gone.

I love you enough to say “no” when I need to.

I love you enough to be the bad guy when I need to be, even though it breaks my heart to do so.

I love you enough to be hard on you sometimes to encourage you to be the best you can be.

I love you enough to not resent you when you push the boundaries but instead to respect your need to push those boundaries.

I love you enough to ignore society’s definition of  perfection  (although for me you are perfect).

I love you enough to sometimes let your father take the lead.

I love you enough to make the perfect reality for you.

I love you enough to never quit.

I love you enough to make my dreams a reality for you rather than for any self-regarding quest for gain.

I love you enough to never regard what I have ‘given up’  for motherhood as a sacrifice, but a privilege.

I love you enough to never let you forget how much I love you.

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Opening image: sevenhillsrunningshop.com
Closing image: lovethispic.com

The Self-Publishing Struggle

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Writers are always told to write what they know so for my first blog post back after a little hiatus I wanted to write about my experience of self-publishing. All the articles I have come across promising to shed light on how to manoeuvre through the self-publishing process only seem to concentrate on the professional rather than the personal.

1- It is the loneliest form of writing. There is no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to turn to for advice or to remind you of deadlines and push you to meet them. Agents and publishers don’t care how much housework you have, whether your child is sick or you are moving house or you have visitors.

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2- It is very easy to ‘miss the boat’ and so easy to push the importance of writing/publishing to the back burner in favour of family life and demands. It only takes one event to break the creative flow. Writing like many practices is only improved through practice. I so often feel I am taking one step forward and two steps back and for various reasons I have been struggling to catch up since June and feel I have missed a number of advertising/marketing opportunities for my current workload.

writing-faucet

3- If you don’t consider writing as important and part of your job, no one else will. So many times I have been persuaded to shut my laptop in favour of watching a film, a sitcom or political satire and due to my desire to please, my goals are again pushed back, it has happened so often that it is inadvertently expected of me. My husband often works from home and when he does often shuts himself away upstairs until his work for the day is completed.  On the other hand, I sit in the family room with a million and one things happening all at once and seem to forget that I am working from home as a stay at home mother and as a writer and should act accordingly.

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4- In the self-publishing process, time is often of short supply and it is so easy to take short-cuts in the hope you can get one step ahead. Take it from me, sometimes long cuts are needed to save both time and money. We are so often told time and time again that it is better to take your time and complete a job well rather than rush it and make mistakes and then have to repeat it over and over again. Oh the painful truths of hindsight.

hindsight

5-  The advice I hear from writers time and time again is to simply keep going. I am currently writing this from the glow of a lion nightlight in my daughter’s bedroom as she lays sleeping beside me recovering from a stomach bug and subsequent Meningitis vaccination. (The wonderful joys of her ‘big girl bedroom’ and a trundle-bed is that we can have ‘sleepovers’ whenever we want).   Even if it means you end up editing/proofreading subsequent drafts by torch-light, keep going. I wish I had from the beginning.

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Opening image: Areadingwritr.wordpress.com
Second image: Meganolearyfiction.com
Third image: Thewritepractice.com
Fourth image: Annecharnock.com
Fifth image: Quotesgram.com
Closing image: Helpdeskja.com

Dunblane, Twenty Years On.

Dunblane SnowdropsI was 14 years old on 13th March 1996 and to my memory in English class when we were told there had been a shooting at a primary school in Scotland in a village I had not heard of. At 14 years old, I could never really comprehend what had happened. I watched the news reports and read the newspaper articles and I brought the charity single which made it to number one in the charts. I never even thought to try and grasp how those mothers felt the following weekend on Mother’s Day.

The trouble with motherhood is that it makes you so much more vulnerable to feelings you never knew you could have. Every week day I hug my daughter and kiss her goodbye as I drop her off at nursery. I say goodbye to her teachers whom I trust with her care. As I walk past the window I look in and watch her for a minute or two, running around with her friends, playing dress-up or showing her teachers the clothes  and shoes she chose to wear that day.

I still after three months of her starting there, get butterflies as I sit in the car outside the school gates waiting to collect her and I hope I will never take for granted hearing her name being called at home time and having her showering me with kisses as I struggle to help her with her coat.

My 14 year old heart went out to all those families who lost their loved one that day but 20 years on, my heart as a mother is breaking for those parents at the school waiting for six hours for news of their children’s welfare, and then coming to terms with the news and having to live with it afterwards.

Not only did they carry themselves with dignity, but it is with thanks to those grieving parents that our gun control is as stringent as it is, with no further school shootings. Their political campaign in the midst of their grief makes their achievements all the more commendable. The killer was known to the police and yet had done nothing against the law up to the point of opening the door to that gymnasium twenty years ago today.

They campaigned so that our children will not need to be identified by the name tags on their clothes or by school photographs. They campaigned so that we will always hear our children’s names being called at home time and so that we could always sneak glances in the window and watch our children play.

Evil entered the school grounds on that day but in the end love prevailed and twenty years on that is what we should remember. We should remember the beautiful children, their teacher Mrs. Mayor and the love that returned from that gymnasium.

For the Bairns of Dunblane.

 

 Opening image: www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Dear Mummy…

Mother'sDayThank you for the nights you spent awake with worry be it due to my first cold, difficult relationships or worry for upcoming  exams and tests.

Thank you for enduring the constant pulling at your leg wanting a cuddle or wanting to play when you were already multi-tasking a thousand and one tasks.

As a mother I now realise that sometimes it is a struggle to just get through the day and that sometimes things really are sent to try you. I understand now that when you used to lose your patience, it was not a reflection of your feelings for me but your frustration at the world outside our little mother-daughter bubble.

Thank you for still kissing me even when my growing independence meant I no longer always wanted kisses from my Mummy.

Thank you for everything you did for me, from changing nappies, to putting food on the table that I refused to eat. From waking up in the middle of the night to tidying my toys that I scattered around the house.

Thank you for all those hot cups of tea and coffee you missed or that just simply ran cold.

Thank you for those times you had rough, callous hands because you forgot or simply did not have time to massage cream into them.

Thank you. Thank you for everything. I may not have seen it all then but I see it now.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

 

Opening image: www.sugar-beach.com

Love Is …

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1- Making sure you don’t leave the house without a hot coffee and some breakfast.

2- Moving the car in the evening so it’s easier for you in the morning.

3- Not batting an eye lid when you come downstairs with bleach on your upper lip or a full face mask on.

4- Rubbing your back when you are bent double over a bowl being sick despite your protestations for him to leave (because in your mind this is no way for a husband to see his wife).

5- Appreciating that just because you are a stay-at-home mother does not mean your life is any less stressful.

6- Remembering you in his everyday and bringing home treats from the office.

7- Celebrating your successes more than you do.

8- Always going that extra mile on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day).

9- Never letting you walk past or go to sleep without a kiss.

10- Always thanking you after every meal you cook for the family.

Thank you for loving me. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr. Alphabet Games! 

Love

Opening image: younghoustonmagazine.com
Closing image: heandshe.in

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