BUT FIRST SKIN

I made a confession the other week. I have made it to my 30’s without ever really having taken care of my skin. 

I have procrastinated many times over what product to buy, which of the latest trends work, but something (other than my busy schedule) has always held me back.

I want to look after my skin, but I want to be informed and use products I can trust. There’s so much information out there – and let’s face it a LOT of misinformation packaged up prettily with a big price tag.

I’m a busy mum. I have a hectic schedule. It all just seemed too complicated to think about. So I just kept putting it off.

Enter Victoria from The Skin Health Clinic. She invited me along to her clinic to hear a bit about her ethos, the work they do and the products they use. The timing could not have been more perfect

THE DOWNLOW

I arrived to be greeted warmly by Victoria, who immediately put me at ease. I was there for a skin consultation and treatment, but first I wanted to know more about The Skin Health Clinic .

Having trained and worked in beauty her whole life, Victoria had witnessed so many women with skin problems over the years. So many women covering up the problems with make up, using multiple products bought often in a desperate bid to fix skin problems but with no real idea of if they would work or at worst using unnesscessary extreme cosmetic procedures.

With a successful beauty business already in place, Victoria, a Skin Educator, took the step 2 years ago to open The Skin Health Clinic. ” I just love skin” she told me smiling and her goal was to focus FIRST on skin, educating women and giving them healthier skin and products they can trust. “Skincare should be simple, it shouldn’t be complicated” she went on to say, music to this busy mummy’s ears. When chosing a name The Skin Health Clinic was the obvious choice- no fancy names just a focus on healthy skin.

The Skin Health Clinic aims to “provide the best correction and prevention strategies available by giving your skin exactly what it needs to restore its natural balance and health”. They offer treatments based not on marketing  hype or quick fixes, but by understanding your skin so they can offer solutions that help your skin heal and flourish naturally. There is no burning, lasering, injecting, it is focusing on treating your skin well. There are no fancy smells or scents – as Victoria said, your skin doesn’t need perfume to be healthy, so why would we use products with at best unnessary and at worst, harmful scents.

THE EXPERIENCE

The basic concept when you chose to visit The Skin Health Clinic is that you first have an advanced skin consultation, which reviews your current skincare, your lifestyle, skincare concerns, what you want to achieve. It also involves bringing along products you currently use. The consultation also includes Skin Imaging to get clear pictures of your skin type, what’s going on under the surface and what ageing and damage your skin has experienced.

This full consultation and imaging presents a really clear personalised picture of YOUR skin, your needs and therefore what treatments and products you should use. It’s much easier from there for Victoria and her team to recommend blended skincare and treatments – and the right products for you to use.

LEARNING

What I learned was amazing. It was a joy to speak to someone with no judgement, about how I feel about my skin, the products I use and what issues I have with my skin. I was both impressed and reassured by Victoria’s in depth knowledge of the science of skin. From the consultation and skin imaging I was able to learn that my skin type is oily (no surprise there) and also get a picture of it’s health. I was surprised to learn my skin showed less signs of aging than I expected, but also surprised to see the pigmentation damage and ageing caused through sun damage. Ok, ok I love the sun and a good sun tan, but with oily sallow skin that tans easily and has never (to my knowledge) burnt, I was surprised to see some areas of damage. I have always used sunscreen and was fairly confident my skin wasn’t too damaged. Shows what I know!

Similarly I brought what few products I actually used and was shocked with what I learned. Victoria was keen to point out they are not brand bashers, but they understand the ingredients lists and contents of the lotions and potions women use. The very well known and trusted household basic price moisturiser I was using (clue it begins with an N) was exacerbating the main issues I had with my skin. The middle of the range product I occasionally used had ingredients that at best were doing nothing and at worse were causing big problems for my skin. Mind blown!!!

THE PERSONAL TOUCH


Based on my consultation, I had a treatment tailored to what my skin really needed. It was bliss and lasted for 60 peaceful minutes. We took some skin images after and there was already an improvement to the colour and tone of my skin especially around my eyes which had been puffy and my cheeks.


Following my treatment, we got talking about products. 

In terms of products, they use Dermaviduals. A revolutionary brand, created by a Doctor and based on the scientific make up of your actual skin. It’s a brand that is hugely popular in places like Australia where skin damage is at its highest and where people want to use skincare that actually works, rather than looks pretty or conforms to current trends.


I was keen to build a routine that was super easy. Victoria prescribed a simple gentle cleanser and a moisturiser which she tailored to my skin, using a base moisturiser and adding 3 different vitamins or extracts that would specifically compliment, heal and improve my skin. That’s it – 2 steps to better skin daily!

She also gave me some Advanced Nutrition nutritional supplements to help heal and boost my skin from the inside out as well as an enzyme mask that can be used once a week.

RESULTS

So far, I am loving my easy routine. Instead of a babywipe at night I simply take 2 minutes to remove my makeup and wash away the grime of the day with my cleanser, applied with my fingers then gently washed away with warm water. Follow that with my moisturiser and I’m done! In the morning, I moisturise after my shower and that’s me. Couldn’t be easier. 

It’s been a week and already my skin feels cleaner, clearer and healthier. One of my goals was to be able to wear less makeup and I already feel more confident in my own skin.

I intend to follow this plan for another few weeks with the basic routine then start the supplements plus the odd mask to see if they give me a further boost.

It’s been such a pleasure to take a few minutes each day to take care of myself in a basic way. I feel better about my skin and more confident. I’m also happy and reassured about the stuff I am putting on / in to my skin, feeling informed that the ingredients are not harmful and will only support and enhance my skins natural health.

So far so good! I will keep you posted on how things go and post the odd story over on my insta account.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with me or just contact Victoria at The Skin Health Clinic for more information.

My journey to a simple skin care regime and better skin is off to a great start!

*I’d like to mention I was lucky enough to be gifted these products to try out but I only accepted them as I fully believe and endorse the work Victoria does. I regularly turn down approaches from brands to review or advertise their products but this was a different scenario and really more than anything, a meeting of minds.

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WONDER

I sat outside Alfs room tonight, listening. He was reading aloud from his new book, The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, a beautiful ode to nature. The beautiful illustrations and story focus on words about nature that were once commonplace in children’s language but are becoming lost. It calls for the reader to read aloud, to conjure lost words from nature back to life. (Shout out to Mel Wiggins for the book recommendation).

I sat just outside his room, out of sight and listened. He read the words out to himself, his little voice full of animation and confidence. He is a fluent reader, but the words are richly woven poems to nature, and every now and then he faltered over a strange word, some alliteration or unusual phrasing. I smiled as I heard him sound out a stumbled over word, then repeat it with a flourish. 

There was no hint of the self consciousness an adult would have reading aloud. Only pure and simple wonder and enjoyment. A drinking up of words and learning.

Gone was the boy who fought against his homework this afternoon. Gone was the rush and hurry of our everyday routines. Gone was the requests for more screen time.

Here was childhood, simple and undiluted. Just like the time we spent yesterday at the park, out in nature, fascinating over a frozen lake and the wildlife all around us.

Oh to have more of this simplicity. Oh to be able to bottle up these memories. For now, my words and my pictures will serve as a bookmark to look back on in years to come. The wonder of these days.

BLUE

It’s a colour and a feeling. It’s a term people use for the month of January. It’s no secret that January is a tough month for many people, for such a variety of reasons and mental health issues often come to the fore.

I have chatted here before about my own mental health and thankfully I’m in a much better place than I was last January but still, I am very aware that I find it a bit of a low month. I put it down to the weather, the lack of daylight and also perhaps mother nature – maybe it’s my hibernation month? What I know is that I feel the need to self care to the max. To wrap myself up in cotton wool. To allow myself to rest more. To read by the fire. To just go easy. 


MORE

This January, I have been thinking about how there is so much pressure in January from EVERYWHERE to be more. To change. To become a better version of you – or to become someone new. To join the gym. To diet. To be more organised. To be more “present”. To be MORE. 

Then there are the worries about the debt Christmas created, the pressure to get that summer holiday booked. It’s crazy. I can understand why people become so overwhelmed. 

Yes, a healthy diet is a good thing. Excercise is good for your mental health. Holidays are important. I’m not knocking any of those things, but the pressure so many people put themselves under in just a few short weeks is just unnecessary.

Sometimes you just have to take a step back and let yourself be. Give yourself permission to just be happy with who you are. You are not defined by your waist size or by how many green smoothies you drink. 

Don’t let the January blues get you. Rest. Just step back. Give you a break. You are just as great a person now in Jan 2018 as you were in Dec 2017 even if your jeans are a bit tighter or your bank balance is a bit less healthy. You don’t need to be MORE – but of course if you want to get fit, be healthier, drink green smoothies, well then bloody well do it, just please do it because you WANT to and because it makes you happy.

And if you think how you are feeling might be more than just the January Blues, well sweet friend, please just reach out. A few words is all it takes. I know it’s hard, but it will be ok. I know.

And what about me? Well my month of January will focus not on crash diets, punishing excercise regimes, going teetotal or anything else extreme. It will be a gentle month of getting by, easing through the gloom of the short dark days, of simple faith and of savouring every cup of coffee or giggle or hug with my tribe.

SCHOOL RUN MUM


Gorgeous flashback to a snowy school run last week.

So…schools out for Christmas. No more school runs in 2017. I am kissing goodbye to the horrors of the school runs of 2017. 

Honestly, few moments in the week fill this mama with the pure, blood curdling fury and stress of a morning school run. Some mums clearly have it down. Not me. No amount of time is ever enough. I usually only do it once a week with the whole working mother situation so my amazing parents sort my little beasts out the rest of the week(apparently they are “pretty good” for my mum 😭) 
It’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but at the time, the sheer impossibility of getting all three of us out the door, fully dressed, with everything we need in tow makes me doubt my entire ability as a mother. Alf is regularly still in one sock, his pants and nothing else 5 minutes before we leave the house despite my many (many) pleas by me to get his “flippin clothes on”!!!


My house is a disaster zone. There are lego wars going on while I am getting dressed. There are rice crispies EVERYWHERE!!! I have these fears that if I get killed on the way home, people would be certain a hoard of hallians had raided my home when I was out. I mean, who even has time to make the beds before they run out the door two minutes before the bell goes…..


Regardless, we say goodbye to the school run of 2017 and all the lessons it has offered me.

2018 – oh baby – I am depending on things getting way way better πŸ™πŸ» (a bit like the below would be good) (maybe without the snow)

GATHERΒ 

In this world of hurry, routine and hustle, there is a growing call for to us to slow down. This festive season especially can cause something of a meltdown amongst even the calmest soul. 

It is to this backdrop that I want to talk about how I spent my Sunday at Assembly Gatherings #assemblyfestive organised by one of my favourite ladies Mel Wiggins

I set out with my good friend Steph MyLittleDuke to drive through the snowy countryside to the beautiful rural home of Laura Baylee for a day of creativity and connection with women from all over NI. Artists, writers, makers, photographers, mothers, creative spirits. Women wanting to take time out. Connect with each other. Celebrate their creativity and support each other. What a simple and beautiful concept Mel has created.

We met around a glorious campfire in a snowy frosty wonderland. We greeted each other, old friends, new faces, all welcoming and sincere. We sipped warming mulled cider and soaked up the opportunity to sit, breath, and take in the beauty around us.

We then moved to the barn, which was just a vision thanks to the work of Mel and Grace and Saviour

We feasted on a perfect menu created, prepared and cooked by Laura, we chatted, we sipped on wine, we listened, we shamelessly photographed our food and surroundings – no judgement, just total appreciation for a beautifully prepared meal in the most beautiful setting. 

Photographer Kat Mervin captured the essence of the day so well – check her feed for some stunning shots.

Full on food and good vibes, we moved back outside and spent time wandering the grounds of the farm, photographing, chatting and foraging for greenery, led by Janice from GatheredThreads who then expertly guidedus all in a session of making, creating our own festive wreaths to take home.



To round things up Dot and Erin from NearyNogs chatted to us about their wonderful family chocolate making business, it’s origins and let us sample their beautiful wares. Then with cups of their very own hot chocolate, we ventured back out into the night, to sit under the stars round the smoky campfire and reflect on a day well spent.

Connection, conversation, listening, laughing, making and refilling our cups.

A day well spent and long to be remembered.

Some words from the Assembly Gathering Manifesto that really resonated with me;

“Honour your creative side…

Find the time to do what you love…

Appreciate the maker in others…

Support their journey and cheer them on…

See beauty in the mundane…”

To all those I shared the day with, those already known and those new faces, Thank you for your company. See you at the next gathering. 

SANTA BABY

When I was a little girl, I loved to help my mum wrap the Christmas gifts. I would spend hours matching ribbons and bows to the co-ordinating paper. To me, giving beautiful gifts was part of the magic of Christmas.

Over the years as we get older, Christmas changes but the giving of gifts is always there. 

Age brings many things, (grey hairs for sure), but at Christmas, it also brings stress, pressure, the worry about what to buy, how much it costs.

Black Friday gives me palpitations!! There’s a real danger to overspend, panic buy and over buy.

With age, I like to think, also comes wisdom. For me, the lead up to Christmas now brings a real desire for simpler Christmas shopping and gift giving.

This year I really want to focus on buying thoughtfully, mindfully and particularly on shopping locally. In fact I’m so passionate about it, I thought I’d write a blog post.

So here’s a few things I’d love to wrap up for my loved ones this Christmas – or I would love Santa to leave under MY tree (nudge nudge Mr Brightside). All would make great gift ideas if you are stuck rightnow and ALL can be purchased from amazing local small businesses, who put their heart and soul into creating that gift. Supporting them and giving gifts that are really special and crafted with love. Isn’t that part of that magic of Christmas?

This is NOT an Ad, sponsored or endorsed by any of the below businesses – I just happen to love them!

Lines and Current

If it’s beautiful, simple jewellery and accessories you are after, then this is your first stop!! Created by Rebekah, right here in Belfast, there are some really beautiful pieces to be found on her site. She does some mean sunglasses too!! 10% of profits go to charity as well. All round win!

The Dreamer pendant is top of my list. The Eclectic ELKSA Infinity necklace above is also a total classic.

Aly Harte

Aly is one of the most exciting Artists here is NI. I LOVE her beautiful pieces, especially those that capture some of my favourite landscapes and landmarks right here in NI. Currently crushing on the beautiful White Rocks print above and her Murlough Bay print. I think they’d look just perfect on my wall.

White Chalk Studio

Lisa from White Chalk Studios in Banbridge designs the most beautiful array of prints and textiles, each with her own distinct style and undeniably overflowing with her Northern Irish roots. I am in love with her recent range of metallic prints, especially the below vintage street map of Belfast. Santa…this one is definitely on my list.

Best Buds

I love the idea of giving a plant as a gift at Christmas. Caitlin of Best Buds has the most beautiful Botanical Studio in Belfast. They have a full timetable of opening hours in the lead up to Christmas and will have all of your favourite indoor plants, cacti and succulents as well as loads of pottery, gifts and blooms on sale. Check them out – I guarantee you will come away with some gifts for yourself as well as for your loved ones.


Astrlfibres

Alison from Astrlfibres creates the most AMAZING  macrame. I am a huge fan. She’s also a pretty inspiring creative and runs workshops locally, teaching others how to create and make. I’m totally signing up for her next class in 2018!!

My Little Duke

For those little people, and mums to be in your life, you need go no further than My Little Duke, a beautifully and personally curated online store run by Steph Duke. One-off gifts, or gorgeous packaged gift sets like the one above are all available and just waiting to be hand wrapped and posted out with love.


The Yard

If you want to shop for some beautiful gifts – and enjoy a delicious slice of cake and a coffee, the try The Yard. From hand poured candles, homemade body scrub and beautifully crafted Christmas decorations through to posies, succulents and plants, you would struggle not to find a gift for everyone here. The Yard are a social enterprise element of Helping Hands Community Outreach Project, so you are supporting some really important work in the local community as well!

NearyNogs Stoneground Chocolate

Just YUM. “Nearly Nogs are N. Ireland’s first Chocolate Makers. Crafting fine chocolate from cacao beans here in their factory. Bars, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa Tea & Fudgery. Small-Batch, Bean to Bar Chocolate Adventurers.” Erin- Chocolatemaker.

I’m pretty sure me and everyone I know would LOVE to receive a Neary Nogs treat in their stocking this year!!

So guys, I hope that has given you some inspiration and maybe calmed you down if you were starting to panic. Ditch Black Friday, panic-buy no more and enjoy that amazing feeling of buying something you KNOW will be loved, safe in the knowledge you are supporting local businesses and the amazing creative community we have right here in NI.


P.s I fully condone forwarding this post to your significant other. I like to think of this as an act of public service to each and every one of you – may your stockings be filled with delight this Christmas!!

THE STRUGGLE WITH THE JUGGLE


It’s been one of those weeks. Sometimes, you feel like you are NAILING it. All your plates are in the air, maybe you are even giving them the odd show-offy flip up into the air. Others weeks, you feel like every single plate is crashing down.

This week I felt like all my lovely plates got absolutely smashed.

PLATES

It’s very easy to put pressure on yourself at times, to get it all right, all the time with these plates. Mumlife with its vast array of subsections, Worklife, Homelife, Wifelife, Niclife. 

There’s more plates there and a whole pile of little saucers and bowls that come with some of those plates. But the big ones, the special ones, sometimes we try not only to keep them up in the air, but also to have them spinning fast, sometimes too fast?

SMASH

This week I feel like it all smashed a bit. I have felt dreadful all week. Exhausted and in pain. I have limped through the working week, too busy to take time off. Under pressure to deliver in a number of important areas in my job and busy training a new member of staff. The traffic on the M1 this week was NOT my friend. I was late practically every morning. Not my fault. My boss didn’t even batt an eyelid. But it REALLY bothered me!! I felt off the game in meetings and I’m pretty sure I was way too tough on some of my team!  Not my finest hour.

At night I was coming home and basically going to bed once the kids did. No cooking. One night as a treat for me and to cheer me up Mr Brightside lit the fire and ordered Dominoes. How thoughtful. I fell asleep on the sofa. 

On Friday morning I felt marginally brighter. I had made it!! I arrived in work feeling like I had  kept it all together. Cue frantic call from my mum. I had completely forgotten the kids had a sponsored fitness event in their school that day. I hadn’t sent their clothes, sponsor forms etc. Alf was having a meltdown. My mum was running around trying to sort it out at the last minute and soothe a frustrated Alf (who doesn’t cope well with things not being calm and organised). She’s my hero. But I felt SO GUILTY. I won’t lie, I did have a little cry in the loo! Then I had to go into a management meeting. Grim!!

REFLECTION

I’m sitting here in bed on Saturday morning with coffee in my hand, jotting this all down. I woke early and felt a bit brighter. I started writing, as I do when the mood strikes me. It’s actually quite therapeutic to get it all down on paper.

Realistically, none of those big beautiful plates smashed. There *might* be a little chip. There *might* be a cracked saucer but you know what, I can glue it back together!!

It’s so so easy to have a rough week and feel like we are failing! Even little miss positive pants me can have a few days of feeling a bit grumpy and like you just can’t keep it all going.

But you know, that’s ok!! There is far too much expectation to get it all right all the time!!

We are human. We get sick. We make mistakes. We forget things. We make the wrong call. We shout when we shouldn’t. That’s OK!!! 

I wondered if I should post this out. I didn’t want to sound rant-y or moan-y. But you know what, it’s real life. It’s just ordinary mundane, nothing is really wrong, no one died, everyday struggles. Isn’t it important to put our hands up and say – yip I had a bit of a rubbish day / week / month. It’s not for sympathy – but it sure feels good when someone puts their hand back up and says “yeah me too”. 

Thats what being part of a community or a village is all about! Sharing, supporting, lifting each other up. Having a rant and sharing victories.

If you are in the middle of a similar day, week, month, I feel ya!! But if you are lucky enough for it to just be that every day mundane struggle, that doesn’t make it any less grim at the time, but know it will be ok! None of your plates are smashed! And sure, a wee chip here and there adds character!!

What would your granny say?

My granny Elsie. What a lady. This week we marked 10 years since she died. She was a real Matriarch. I think of her often. She’s talked about and fondly remembered regularly amongst our family, friends and even by my children, who sadly never got to meet her. I wonder from time to time, what she would think about me, my life, my children, what I’m doing.

Walking along the beach today, the beach I walked with her and my grandfather all through my childhood, I thought about her and I wondered what my Granny would say about my blog. I think, actually, she would have approved.

Our beach at Cranfield where we have been spending weekends and summers for generations.


Elsie. She was just one of those people who knew everyone. When you walked up Portadown street with her, well, you had best be prepared to stop every few meters. A shopping trip to Tescos took at least twice as long as it should. Because Elsie LOVED to chat. To catch up. She met friends everywhere she went. And if you didn’t know her when you arrived, you would know her before you left. She had such a gift for making friends.

I think that gift is special and becoming more and more rare.


Thinking about her and her special personality, it got me thinking about the world we live in now. How times have changed. It also got me thinking about the qualities I really value and admire. 

In this busy modern day, who has time to stop and chat to someone you know WELL never mind a stranger? Who even has time to GO to Tescos/ Asda / Sainsbury’s (delete as appropriate)? I get my shopping delivered. 

My friends and I? We are lucky to have time to meet up properly a handful of times a year, such are our busy lives and schedules. Busy. Not necessarily a word to aspire to or boast about – a whole other blog post right there!!

But in our manic lives, there is a gaping hole where many of us lose out on real human interaction, conversation and connection.

And here’s the thing. In so many ways, places like Instagram have come to represent something so very important to those who use it. That first time mum? Who is struggling with breastfeeding, endless night feeds, fussy unsettled evenings. Wondering if anyone else is failing as miserably as she feels she is. Well hello insta friends! Hello Facebook breastfeeding group. Hello real, often local, people who you can connect with from your bedroom at stupid o clock as you lie willing your child to settle. You are not alone they say. I am here too!

This carries on. I’m sticking with the demographics I’m familiar with – so the mum groups are particularly useful examples. There are people putting themselves out there, being honest about their lives, their struggles, their victories. Conversations are started. Hashtags are shared. That lonely mum who has been in the house with 3 under 3 all day can make a real connection with someone in the same shoes and feel less alone.

I’m not suggesting that friendship in the flesh and real conversation should or could ever be replaced. But nevertheless, there is something real and important about the great parts of social media, like this, that help to perpetuate, support and underpin that fundamental human need to connect and interact. Blogging by extension is another way to share our thoughts. To recount what we have been doing. To share our views, our interests or parts of our lives with others.

Social media. It gets a pretty bad rap at times. I’m not one to really care what others think, but more and more I find myself answering questions about my instagram and my blog. Why do I do it? What do I get from it?

And one of the biggest things I take out of this part of my life, without a doubt is the connection. The sense of community. The friendships made – and in many cases especially recently, translated into real life friendships.

Some people think that is weird. Unusual. When I tell them I have met friends through instagram they are a bit freaked out.

At the country blog retreat NI with my friend, the beautiful Steph from @mylittleduke a real friendship born out of instagram. Snapped by @melwiggins

I have talked a few times about the country bloggers retreat NI I attended back in September at Larchfield Estate, organised by the beautiful Emma from @littlewoodlife 

This is the PERFECT example of the power of social media and the ability to create genuine meaningful connections in the real world.

I know if my Granny Elsie was alive in this generation she would be all over it. She would have been at that retreat with bells on. Gregarious, kind, outgoing and always ready to make a new friend. Qualities to be admired and aspired to.

Granny Elsie and my Granda pictured on the same stretch of beach in Cranfield, many years ago.

BOY

Last week saw International Day of the Girl celebrated. As a feminist (and human), raising a daughter, of course these types of events / days / celebrations really represent something important to me. It’s a UN driven date, focused on delivering equality, better human rights, education and opportunity for girls globally. Instagram boomed with hashtags and celebration of The Day of the Girl. It was fab! But it got me thinking about our boys…

Mothering a boy in this day and age. What a privilege and joy. But OH what a challenge.


GIRLS

We have so many sources of support. So many strong role models for our daughters to look up to. You only have to look at instagram hashtags, or some of the popular books right now – like Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (a fab read!) There is an entire movement dedicated to our daughters. Strong not pretty. Raising kind girls not mean girls. The list goes on.

And isn’t it amazing. I LOVE it!!! And it is so important and SO needed. There is much more work to be done.

But I can’t help thinking…what about our boys? The future is theirs too. And what a minefield it will be for them to navigate. I genuinely fear for the youth of tomorrow with all of the hurdles they have to face. The teen years. An online world, so much information at their finger tips, but no real life experience or maturity to know what to do with it. The challenges of school, education, career choices all coupled with the need for them to build great friendships and most importantly be HAPPY and healthy.


I think the girls will navigate this a little more skilfully…? I think they have a wind behind them carrying them forward. At least that’s how it feels.

BOYS

We need to be thinking about how we build them up too. How we inform them, make them GOOD and KIND and RESPECTFUL (not successful, powerful and wealthy). How do we empower them and show them POSITIVE role models, because it might just be me, but it really feels like in the public arena there are a pitiful few to point towards.

Is being raised by a feminist mother enough. Will it equip them with everything they need? I worry if I am getting it right.


Let me just be clear – I am a feminist. I bloody love everything that is going on to help girls and women rise up. We need more of it! I don’t want to replace it or rival it with some weird competition! But we need our boys to grow to be the men these girls of ours deserve them to be. The future is all of theirs!!!

I have been ruminating over this theme for a while now. There is SO much more I could say on so much (but I want to avoid this turning into a book). It’s not at all fully formed, it’s more question than answer – that’s motherhood I hear you say! But I would love to know what you all think!!

Guilt, Gratitude and Gigantic Coffees

This week in work, I got promoted.

There. I said it. 

I had been planning to post about worklife before I got this (surprise) promotion news. So here I was, casually trying to work this promotion into my post so I didn’t sound like a show off. Then I thought, screw it – I’ll just put it out there. The reason I want to share is not to blow my own trumpet. It’s important to what I have to say about WORKLIFE. Here’s why….

I am a working mama. I (semi) regularly post on my instagram about days where I have mum meltdowns. “What a week” #worklife “TGIF” #workinmana etc etc

Don’t we all do it? Go on for a rant, to vent, to hear someone else come back and say “YES – this is me too!!”

Sometimes, in fact most weeks over here, the struggle with the juggle is real and often it seems a bit too much.

We are so keen to share our bad days. Why not our good ones? (There’s a whole other post right there).

In the spirit of honesty and community I think it’s really important to reveal our weaknesses and worries AND our successes! We hear so little good news about mums in the work world. It’s all so tough. And it is a daily battle to juggle! Maybe some positivity won’t go a miss – along with a healthy dose of reality..

GUILT

When you are a working mum, there is a whole other set of mum guilt. I’m a real expert at guilt.

The guilt of leaving my kids; the guilt of sometimes feeling never quite there in work or at home; the guilt because my parents (my HEROS) are looking after my kids so I can be at work; the guilt for the work calls and emails taken outside of work or on days off; guilt for my husband who regularly has to hang about waiting for me because inevitably I will leave the office 15/20 minutes late at least twice a week; guilt for the lunchtime coffee plans with friends I have to cancel because a meeting comes up; guilt for not eating proper healthy lunches; guilt for spending way too much money on coffee. Guilt.
I know (I hope) I’m not alone on some of the above.

WORKLIFE

I work in an extremely fast paced, demanding, corporate world. 

I work Four days a week.
Let me tell you I have SO much gratitude for that flexibility. For the opportunity to be at home with my kids and do the school run just one day a week. To give my little family a bit more balance. 

In work, I still have the same responsibilities and demands that a full timer has. I just gotta fit it into my four days. Here’s the thing – I am probably more efficient in my four days than I ever was on five.


Yet in work, I have felt guilt on an almost daily basis. When others stayed late and I went home. Despite having put the hours in at the start of my career. Despite the fact that I have to be home to pick up my children. Guilt.

I have also felt at times (like a lot of working mums), that progression in my career was traded off when I became a mum and a part timer (all be it a part timer on 35hrs a week..)

My business have never treated me like I don’t count. Quite the opposite. I am respected and valued. They have embraced the flexible work policy that gives me the much needed balance in life and are supportive of me taking the odd day off to do doctor or school appointments. 

BUT there has been a part of me that sometimes whispered “This is your ceiling. You shall go no further” (whispered in a creepy Gollum like voice). I have had to quieten the ambitious competitive side of me that says, “oh what I could do if I could be HERE more”. Yet we all know that I can’t and actually don’t WANT to be there more. 

So when my Director called me in on Friday and told me he was promoting me, I am not ashamed to admit I shed a little tear of gratitude. 

Gratitude because it made me feel like it was all worth it…all the guilt and tears and slog and that part of me that I wholeheartly give to my work.

GRATITUDE

The gratitude for a job to go to; the gratitude to be able to provide financially for my family; the gratitude for setting a positive example of work ethic to my kids – and to show them girls can be bosses too; the gratitude AGAIN to my parents because I don’t have to worry, when I am in back to back meetings, if my kid has been picked up from school ok; the gratitude for a husband who on top of nailing his OWN job, also sorts everyday stuff out to give me time to get my work done; the gratitude for a company prepared to reward someone for passion and performance over presenteeism. 

So I guess this post is about many things.  It’s about sharing the good stuff without worrying you seem boastful. It’s about empowering other mums to believe you CAN climb that ladder. Its about being brave and admitting you feel that way in your career . It’s about celebrating a little triumph in the midst of the chaos and routine of everyday life.

And last but not least…

A word of gratitude for the Baristas who serve this flustered disheveled mama her coffee in the early early morning as I dash to the office desperately trying to be on time…