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 Self-Publishing Struggle

sad-woman-silhouette

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.

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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.

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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

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

An Open Hearted Apology

Mother and daughterI owe an apology.

To my daughter.

The day you were born, I was also re-born. Re-born as a mother. I am no longer the person I was before and that is OK. More than OK. You have enriched my life beyond any comparison. When a child is born, so too is a mother and that mother is born with a belief that she is super human. That she can do anything and everything. But she can’t.

Lately I have been so concerned with providing for you, with trying to build something that can sustain us as a family when I don’t need to. Your father is taking care of that part. I shouldn’t care what I am worth to anyone but those living under our roof.  My mind has been on the next thing on my to-do list, the next assignment I need to complete, the next chapter I need to write. I have foregone playing with you to tackle the washing up so I can give myself more time in the evening to stare at a blank computer screen, or “puter” screen as you so eloquently put it.

No more.

The job I have now, looking after you is my dream come true. Ever since I was a little girl I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home mother. Everything else I have done prior to the day you were born were mere stepping-stones. Yet I have lost the opportunity in the everyday. The opportunity to talk to a few more ants on the way back to the car. Or the opportunity to create a walk around the neighbourhood into a big adventure. Or simply the opportunity to leave the washing up for later and to play “hide and seeks” one more time. I always wanted to be a mother who was present, always there. Not a mother who shouts or who is blind to your wonderment.

So I am sorry my darling girl. I am sorry I lost my patience as we walked back to the car after playgroup. I am sorry for an “I’ll just do this” turning into you ever giving up on Mummy coming to play. I know you are nearly 2 1/2 now and you should play on your own. And you do. But you are not 2 1/2 for long. Already I stand over your cot as you sleep and see you in your big girl pyjamas, with your big girl pillow and wonder where my little girl has gone to. My heart aches because you are growing up but at the same time it is rejoicing for the same reason. The washing up can wait. Even the writing can wait. You should not have to wait. I want you to always remember me as a Mummy who had time to play and in your later years to talk, night or day. Not a Mummy who was always distracted.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow take your time. Tomorrow I will get down on my hands and knees and talk to the ants with you, I will kick that football around, walk around the neighbourhood collecting sticks and leaves. I will play “hide and seeks” any time you want, even if you do tell me where to hide. Tomorrow I will play.

I love you, Bunny.

Mummy xxx

Opening image: www.tatcha.com

Sufferers in Silence

Blood cells

Thalassemia: one of the world’s most commonly inherited diseases, yet one of the most neglected. Its amazing clinical diversity accounts for this, yet it is this diversity that ironically makes it the most neglected. One person’s Thalassemia is different to another’s. Just because two people have the same type of Thalassemia does not mean their symptoms are the same.

I inherited Beta Thalassemia Trait from my father who until I was born was not even aware he was a carrier. For most of my life I never gave Thalassemia a second thought. That is until I became pregnant. For over two years it has become a permanent existence in not only my life but also that of my husband and my daughter.

I should need minimal medical attention. The particular form of Thalassemia that I inherited is what is often regarded by many as the less dominant. Although that may be true, I (thankfully) do not require regular blood transfusions and the physical representation of the disease extends mostly only to the paleness of my skin, however for me Thalassemia Trait is debilitating enough to affect my life in an immense way. In fact I have been told by a leading Thalassemia expert that my symptoms extend to Thalassemia Intermedia, which requires irregular blood transfusions yet on paper my body shows only Thalassemia Trait indicators.

Many diseases are treated in accordance with the sufferer’s lifestyle but that does not seem to be the case with Thalassemia. Since having my daughter I have held a much more active lifestyle and it is because of this that Thalassemia has become more central in my life. As an example, I am continually breathless and at times the pain in my chest from my body trying to regulate my breathing stops me short. My daughter now sometimes breathes as if she is breathless herself so she can be like her Mummy. I feel faint even blowing her bubbles. I now suffer from pain in my fingers, to the point again when I have to stop and wait for the pain to subside. Not the best thing for a writer.  The pain has improved since I started taking daily Folic Acid supplements but there are days when the pain breaks through. I very often feel cold even in the heat of summer due to bad blood circulation. The tiredness, well that would be another blog post on its own. There are days I have to leave the house in a mess simply because I physically cannot bring myself to pick up a duster, hoover or iron.

When people ask me what I do for a living and discover I am a stay at home mother they presume I sit down with my feet up all day and occasionally play with a few toys. Doctors are no different. If I told people I was a sportswoman I am 100% sure I would be treated differently. Why?

I have visited the doctor and haematologist a number of times since my daughter’s birth with the same ailments yet have walked away with nothing but “it’s just something you have to live with” and the only remedy being to sleep early. No easy feat when you are a mother, housewife, and also attempting to carve a whole new career. None of the jobs I now hold I can shut the door on. There is no out of office, no holidays and no sick pay.

The medical field may claim they have no remedies for my symptoms but they are real, they are debilitating and quite frankly made worse by the lack of respect given. So today on World Thalassemia Day, give a thought to us Thalassemia Trait carriers. Those who are forced to suffer in silence.

RWilliamsPerson

Opening image: De Montfort University                                                                                                 
Closing image: Motivational Quotes

I Smile…

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As I crawl into bed with aching limbs and tired eyes, I smile.

I smile at the tiredness I feel, I smile at the thought of the piles of laundry, washing up in the sink and I smile at the piles of toys that scatter my floor.

I smile at the dust bunnies that collect in the nooks and cranny of my home and I smile at the hoover that remains tucked away in its cupboard no matter how many promises I made to bring it out and put it to work.

I smile at my daughter’s increasing independence as I watch her little personality break free from the confines of babyhood.

I smile at the late night/early morning cries for “Mummy” because she feels safe and loved in my arms.

I smile at the constant “Mummy do it”, “Mummy, look”, “Mummy, cuddle” because I am her go-to person.

I smile knowing as I close my eyes each night, no matter how much I plan no two days are ever the same.

I smile because she has taught me a love I have never experienced before.

I smile because she has given me purpose.

I smile because she is my daughter and I am her mother.

I smile at the tug’o’war I play each day between myself as a mother, a wife and a writer.

I smile at the late night struggle with words I fight every night.

I smile at the late nights I am awake worrying why my daughter is not toilet trained yet, what to feed her tomorrow. Is she stimulated enough, is she this, is she that. I smile because I love her enough to worry.

I smile at the thought that tomorrow I will do it all over again.

Opening Image: Meetville.com

Looking Back On Motherhood

lookingbackI have spent the past month in denial of the inevitable. The inevitable that in fact happened this week. My little girl turned 2. She is 2. She is no longer 10 months, 18 months or even 20 months. She is 2.  I now no longer refer to my daughter’s age in months but years. It has been both the longest and shortest 2 years I have ever had. It has been the most tiring yet the most rewarding. I am now wavering between joy at watching my little girl grow and develop and learn new things and sorrow for the days, months and years that have passed.

My sleep is no longer regular, my evenings are long gone. My cleanliness is a rare commodity these days and my husband and I share few moments alone. However, my life has been enriched more than ever before. For a moment or two, I would like to speak from a personal point of view about what motherhood has done for me:

1- I have learnt to love my body. It is not perfect and there are many things I would like to change. However, I look at myself in the mirror and I see a body that created my beautiful girl.

2- I have learnt to have purpose. Before she came into our lives, I would work only to pay the bills. Now I work for her future. My dream of writing has become fused into my dream of providing for her. I am now able to pursue what I have really wanted in life, while doing a job (motherhood) I absolutely love.

3- I have learnt to put myself last. As a stay at home mum in particular you are last after your child, your husband, your ironing, your cooking, and your cleaning. I used to never walk out of the house without make up. Never answer the door in tracksuit bottoms. I would never go without showering for more than 2 days; I would never go without straightening my hair. This is not a sacrifice to me for I do not go without these out of duty but love.

4-  I have learnt to play again. To crawl inside a play tent at playgroup and for it to be okay to get stuck. I have learnt to dance and to sing in public and for it to be okay to be out of tune.

5- I have learnt that no matter how exhausted I am, there is always enough in me to play one more game, to cuddle her a little more, to read her the same book again one more time.

6- I have learnt that my parents love me more than I could possibly have imagined. I think now of the sacrifices they made for me and the love they had for me to make those sacrifices.

7- I have learnt to imagine again. Imagine this empty box is a boat; imagine the table is a house. I have learnt to block out the less important preoccupations and welcome the more important matters back into my life.

8- I have learnt to see the beautiful in the not so beautiful. The beautiful in the piles of laundry, the stacking dishes, the crumb encrusted floor. I have learnt to see the beauty in family life.

9- I have learnt about unconditional love. As cliche as it sounds, you will never understand what that means until you become a mother yourself.

10- I have learnt of new ways and new reasons to love my husband. I would never have thought I would enjoy watching my husband fall in love with another woman, yet watching him excel in his new role as a father has renewed my faith in both him and our marriage.

I used to think I was the teacher in the relationship but I realise now my daughter is the teacher and what a wonderful teacher she is.

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Opening image: www.marcandangel.com
Closing image: pixgood.com

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