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

Just Because…

something to say

1 – I am not boring.

Just because I read books you are not interested in does not mean I am boring.

2 – I am more than a job title.

Just because I am a stay at home mother does not mean I am not intelligent or wasting my life. I am raising the future.

3 – I am not little anymore.

Just because I was once a baby does not mean I have stayed that baby. I am a thirty-five year old woman and have thirty-five years’ experience behind me.

4 – I do have an opinion.

Just because I do not often say anything does not mean I do not have anything to say.

Just because I am younger than you does not mean I cannot offer advice. We all have different life experiences and have a different insight on events.

5 – I do have a resolve.

Just because I am quiet does not mean I do not have that resolve. Sometimes it takes a stronger person to keep quiet than to fill a room with the sound of their voice.

6 – Being busy is not an excuse.

The less involved you are in someone’s life, the less they are a priority to you.

7 – Flattery can go a long way.

Just because you are older does not mean you are eligible to criticise in order to advise. Sometimes it is nice to receive compliments. Sometimes compliments achieve more than criticism.

8 – Sometimes it is nice to be more than the token free babysitter.

Just because I am the youngest does not mean I cannot join in adult conversation. Sometimes I would not mind washing up or cooking or feeling like in my absence I would be missed for more than my babysitting.

9 – One person’s rubbish is another person’s gold.

Just because that is your opinion does not make it true nor does it define me.

10 – Conversation is food for the soul.

You cannot get to know a person unless you speak to them personally; reports through another person are superficial at best.

Opening image: www.jonstallings.com

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

The End To My Distracted Parenting

distractionparentingMy mobile phone broke  recently, I use the word broke to imply it was hit by a wooden toy hammer by my near two-year old. At first I felt very insecure, similar to hanging off a cliff edge without a safety net. I used my phone for everything: from shopping and shopping lists; to listening to music; to medication records for my daughter. I would use my phone to catch up on social media while getting my daughter to sleep both for her nap and at night. Only occasionally would I use it to make phone calls. As a replacement, I insisted on using an old phone we keep in reserve for international visitors, the only one without easy access to social media and the Internet.  It has now been about 2 weeks and I must say I have not looked back..

For a while now I have resented bedtime, resented the disruption to my casual social media catch up of the day. However, without the distraction of technology I have enjoyed night-time cuddles so much more. I realise now that rather than being a comfort social media has been more a distraction. Me time no longer involves Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, it involves cuddling my daughter in the rocking chair and feeling her little fingers wrap around the loose strands of my hair.  I now resent the social media I once craved for.  I do not want my daughter’s memories of me as being on my phone, my iPad or my laptop. I want her to always look at me and see me looking back at her.  I want her as an extension of my hand, and not a cold, metal piece of technology.

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I was told recently that it is unhealthy that I spend so much time with my daughter. One day she will start nursery then will attend school full-time and I will be left with an empty nest. Yes, no doubt I may very well stay in the car park until the bell rings and will highly likely suffer more from separation anxiety than my daughter will. But, is that not the price of motherhood? So many people talk of motherhood as a sacrifice: we as mothers give up so much to raise our children. We give up regular showers, clean clothes, nights out, even solitary trips to the bathroom. I know it will likely be harder for me than for  her when the time does come for her to enter the world without me, but that to me is the sacrifice of motherhood. Already, I can’t believe that next month she will be two years old. It feels like yesterday when I bought her home from the hospital. I remember thinking how a year seemed such a long time when she was a baby, but now one year seems so insignificant. And it is only one more year until she enters the world without me by her side. I do not want to spend this last year distracted by status messages and tweets.

The social media networks are a wonderful thing and we all know and enjoy their benefits, myself included. Having said this, I would prefer my daughter to  fall asleep watching my eyes laying upon hers, rather than she fall asleep watching the light from my phone flickering across my distracted eyes.

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Opening image: www.babypost.com
Second image: themominitiative.com
Third image: bestquotesfb.blogspot.co.uk

Motherhood: Competition and Cliques

motherhoodcompetitionYesterday my daughter refused to take her afternoon nap. Nothing I did would placate her nor entice her to what I call the ‘land of the bunnies’. She had the tiniest of meltdowns come 6:00pm when I was getting her ready for bed, only because she was so tired. During the day I, however, was having the meltdowns of all meltdowns albeit mostly silently. As my daughter played contentedly beside her sandpit yesterday afternoon, I was convincing myself over and over that I had done something wrong. That those of the Gina Ford clique would never have a problem such as this. Looking back, I am now berating myself for allowing those thoughts and feelings to ruin the day I had with my baby girl.

I took my daughter to her first birthday party this past weekend. Talking to the other mothers there, and comparing notes on our little one’s bedtime and naptime routines, I couldn’t help but feel a slight note of self-righteousness when their little ones were in bed by 7:00pm while my little one is often falling asleep in the arms of either her father or me at 9:00pm. And yes, I still cuddle my 21 month old to sleep. And yes, she very often comes into bed with us during the night. Those at the party were not as bad as others who have outrightly told me I am a bad mother because I don’t leave my daughter to cry herself to sleep at night. I have been told that it is wrong my daughter is not in nursery as it affects her ability to communicate with other children her age. A theory which my daughter has blatantly thrown out the window.

My mother once remarked how it was much harder in her day to raise children and although to a certain extent I agree with her, she is not completely accurate. As parents we may have technology on our side; we may have the latest gadgets, baby monitors and medicines but we no longer have society on our side. There is forever a debate in newspapers, magazines and across the Internet about whether mothers should leave the home for work or not, whether the child is in nursery or not, whether as mothers we breast feed or not. Whichever option we choose it always seems to be the wrong one. I do not judge others as parents as long as they give love and gentleness and as naïve as this might be, I expect others to offer the same courtesy. I do not regret how I have raised my daughter over the past (nearly) two years and if I could turn back the clock, I would genuinely do exactly the same thing. Cuddling my daughter to sleep works for her. I still remember calling my father in the middle of the night. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I grew out of it and so will my daughter.

To me, motherhood is the greatest calling. As a mother I am shaping a person, I am teaching her about the world. Being a mother has made me a better person because I want my daughter to be a good person. She now seems to watch my every move. Just the other day, she tried to place toe separators between her toes and paint her toe nails because she has watched me do that countless of times.  Looking back again on yesterday, I don’t remember my daughter ever being truly unhappy and that is what is important.

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I just don’t understand why if mothers feel they are lacking, they need to put others down to make them feel good. Why not better themselves? Forget the corporate world, motherhood is the most competitive. I understand why but we have to remember there is no race to the top, no fight for promotions, no fear of redundancies. We are all in this together, I think it is time we act that way. I am now nearly two years into motherhood and I would not exchange it for anything in the world. No gold, nor riches could ever replace what motherhood brings to my life.  I regret caring so much of what other people thought of me as a mother and would hate for other mothers to feel the same way. My advice to everyone out there is to follow your mother’s instinct (and yes you do have one) and listen to your child. Each and every child is different. What works for one will not necessarily work for another, and that includes siblings. I hope we can now as mothers refrain from putting others down and instead raise one another up so we can be the best mothers we can be.

TogetherOpening image: wikihow.com
Second image: imom.com
Third image: en,paperblog.com
Closing image: mothering21.com

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