We all deserve to shine

How do you stop that feeling of inadequacy forming in your throat? When others words and actions feed into the negative narrative you already have for yourself.

Why do I allow them to make me feel so low?

Why does their opinions matter so much and why oh why do I allow them to speak their lies over me?

You see I am enough,

I am more than enough.

I am a kind, caring, emotional women who has the right to be. I don’t need to fit into the boxes of others and I definitely don’t need to allow others to feel better about themselves as they hurt me.

Enough is enough.

I’m learning to have boundaries, learning to ignore (or at least pretend to) and I’m trying not to allow others to tear me down.

It’s took me a long time to like who I am. A longer time to see the value in who I am. I need to stay in this place.

I deserve to be in this place.

For a time I actually wanted to do life alone, to not have opinions around me that fed my negative narrative. Loneliness felt like a antidote to self harm. Yet I don’t have to live life alone, I can do life with others as long as I have boundaries and I make sure respect is given as it should be.

I’m not your plaything, I’m not the one you can beat down on because you are not feeling good about yourself. I am a heart, a soul that deserves to be.

So if you are like me and have allowed others to tear you down please stop. You are who you are meant to me. I mean let’s put this into perspective, every blade of grass is unique so why shouldn’t you be?

Also if you are one of those that need to beat down on others to make yourself feel better then stop. Does this behaviour actually make you feel good? Do you like who you see in the mirror?

I’ve come to the conclusion that life is hard enough without us adding pain to ourselves. Maybe we aren’t where we wish to be, we want to be healthier, we want to get a promotion, a relationship, a family whatever those are goals and goals are great, but beating ourselves up on the way to achieving them does not help, belief me I’ve learned this the hard way.

Life is going to throw curve balls, dreams are going to be lost but that’s part of the journey. Knowing who we are in ourselves is the only way we will find peace.

Validation from others is only a short term placebo.

Know your heart, know your strengths and know your beauty.

Never allow anyone to dim your sunshine.

We all deserve to shine.

I would rather lift up than tear down.

I often wonder that when God was handing out empathy he gave me a double dose, you see I often find my heart overwhelmed by things in the world. The sadness, the fear, the loneliness and so much more. There are days where I have to avoid the news because my heart cannot handle it.

For a long time I saw this emotion as weak, I saw the pain that I felt for complete strangers as stupid. But now I know different, extra dose or not I am proud of my tender heart. I admire my willingness to love hard and I cherish my desire to lift up others rather than tear them down.

You see to lift someone up isn’t easy, it would probably be easier to not care, to not bother, to not reach out a hand to pull another to their feet. Yet I don’t think we were supposed to live life easy. It’s in the hard we realise who we are, it’s through the decision moments we decide who we wish to be.

I want to be one who lifts, I want to be one who encourages and I strive to be one who loves.

This world tells us often that we have to be ruthless, that everything is about competition that we have to be the best. Walk over others to reach the top, destroy others to reach your goal. But this narrative is wrong, the joy of celebrating a victory you achieved together will always feel better than a lone success.

Joy is amplified when shared.

In a world that is so torn let’s come together to change this, instead of turning our backs lets reach out and lift up one another. Because a separated society will only breed more sadness and hate. A society that works together can and will achieve great things. Let’s just give it a try.

A trashy soap opera.

I was once told that my life was like a trashy soap opera that I was full of drama. I remember the conversation vividly, at the time my daughter’s diagnosis was official and I held the letter in my hand and on that same day I had also received a call to tell me my Nan had died. 

The literal definition of a day from hell. 

It was a defining moment for me as I realised at the that point that my pain was my own. That others could not or would not understand it.  I felt ashamed for being a burden for bringing others down and for basically existing. It was the reinforcement of what I had always believed of myself, I was broken, I was drama, I was too much. 

You see this was the narrative I had been taught, my emotions were my enemy, my empathy my foe and my heart well it was too emotional and too much. 

How I wish I knew then what I know now. How I wish I could have just put the phone down on that call or even challenged the uncaring, unthinking compassionless attitude of the caller. How could a so-called friend see a life -threatening diagnosis and the death of a grandparent as a soap opera? 

I mean how? 

I have worked hard over the last few years, I’ve had to challenge the nurtured narrative of my life that “I am too much” into a more truthful one of “I am”. 

I am a human being that deserves to exist, I am a woman who has faced heartbreak and loved hard enough to feel the pain. I am strong, I am powerful and I am a survivor. 

My life has faced tragedy, pain and loss but I am lucky that I got to experience a life of emotion. To grieve means I have loved, to have lost meant I have cared. 

Yet people are still so quick to judge others, only yesterday a conversation with a friend broke my heart. She is facing a tough time right now but feels she cannot be honest about how hard it is for fear of people thinking she cannot cope. As if feeling fear, exhaustion was a crime. I find it ironic that when someone has a physically demanding job their exhaustion is allowed, it’s ok, it’s understandable and often respected. Yet when people are emotionally weary they are judged “you need to pull it together, stop thinking about it, you need to be stronger”.  A world where those emotionally struggling are seen as weak.

We need to show compassion not judgement.

You see instead of calling my life a trashy soap opera my friend should have been a place where I could admit how my heart ached for my Nan and how the fear of the future for Livvy my daughter was often overwhelming and she should have told me how proud she was that I still showed up. That in the midst of this emotional tornado I was still fighting to give my girls the best life I could.

She should have loved me through it. 

Loved me in it and through it. 

You see, the British stiff upper lip crap needs to end. People need to feel free to say that today is hard. People need to support others where they are rather than where they feel they should be. A end needs a beginning and a middle before it is reached. 

Emotions are messy, they are often uncomfortable and can be hard work, but they are what makes us human. We should never have to hide our hearts. What I know now is that I need to surround myself with people who love me for my heart.

So if like me you often find yourself apologing for your heart stop, find your people, find those that love you as you are, find your tribe. It’s not about  changing to fit in, you cannot live a lie. You don’t need to be anyone but you. 

Be you, be proud, cry, scream and love hard, because you are beautifully and wonderfully made. 

Dancing in the colours of my mind.

Have you ever closed your eyes tight so you can watch the colours as they dance across your minds eye? As a child I used to love doing this, escape into a world of colour.

My imagination was my happy place, somewhere I could be part of a world I created, a world that made sense because this planet we call earth never really felt like home.

Once I remember reading a book about cuckoo birds and was sure like their eggs I have been born into the wrong nest.

It’s a strange feeling seeing yourself in the features of those around you but not feeling connected in your heart.

Was I strange, am I strange, I guess both statements are open to arguement.

What I’ve realised as a mother is that being related does not mean that you are alike. I have birthed four amazing beautiful girls and whilst values and love for each other is similar their personalities could be no further from different, one outgoing, another reserved, one loves to learn, another loves to do. Each so creative and beautifully unique in these own special way. I celebrate this about them, so what cannot I not celebrate this about myself?

For a long time I felt that I could only be true in my imagination, that here in the real world I would have to play a part, a character created for me not by me.

Yet as I’ve grown and got older I’m finally beginning to spend time allowing the me from my imagination enter the me from the real world.

I’ve realised that to live truthfully you have to be true to yourself. You are not being fair to others if you pretend to be what you think they wish you to be.

Falseness brings hollowness.

This time in isolation right now has been hard for me as I’m sure it has for many others. Not being able to hide means that your heart has to shine out.

I’m learning so much about myself and about others. Those that truly value your connection and those that dont. Do I fit a need or a want? Was I a use or a heart to hold?.

This isolation time has illuminated so many things I was trying to hide from. But as much as I love my imagination, hiding from the pain in the multitude of dancing colours is still hiding.

Like so many others I am desperate for the lockdown to come to an end. For the world to feel safe again. Yet I dont want the world, my world to return to normal. I want to understand more about myself, to truly know my own heart. I want celebrate the true connections that have held and to truly allow myself to live my imagination in my real life, a life full of beautiful dancing colour.

Seasons change.

“there is a time for everything

 and a season for every activity under the heavens”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 New International Version (NIV)

I have walked many seasons in my life, and I know one of the longest and hardest of these has been my season of grief.

From the time my daughter Livvy was diagnosed I have grieved for what should have been, the life she should have lived or it in reality the life I had expected, planned, wanted her to live. 

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Then when we lost her 11 years ago, I grieved for her physically, grieved for her missing, her smile, her touch and the blessing of her spirit.

My grief felt like darkness.  

My whole spirit crushed by the pain of missing. 

I didn’t understand the why and I was often angry screaming at the ‘why her.’

This was my season of darkness and no matter how hard I tried to pretend I wasn’t sure I would live a life with light anymore.

Yet Jesus knew. 

My dear friend sent me a link to Christian singer songwriter called Steven Curtis Chapman.  Steven and his wife lost their daughter the same year I lost Livvy. Through his grief he wrote and produced an album called Beauty will rise. This cd, these songs, the words broke through my darkness.  In the midst of my pain I could not see God in my Bible, the words lost as my tears blinded me from his love. Yet in these songs, in the lyrics, hope started to grow once again, and the promise that I could hear in the melody slowly healed my heart. 

One of the songs is called ‘Spring is coming ‘and this week as we have faced 11 years without our beautiful girl, I have held on tight to this. Not because I am waiting on the Spring though this cold weather is already getting to me, because I know the blessing of the new.  I have felt the new life burst inside of me. I give thanks and praise to the changing seasons and the love, the hope and the promise each one brings. 

So today I am sharing this with you, sharing my heart and my journey, because God has asked me to share my story. He wants all to know that he is the light in the darkness. 

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus was and is my light. 

So, if any of you are now struggling in the darkness and if you are feeling the crushing weight of fear, doubt or anger, hold on to the fact that this time is a season and that seasons change. Life is a journey often full of pain and loss believe me when I say I know this but whatever you are facing, know that you are not alone, that Jesus walks beside you. 

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If you had asked me 11 years ago if I would know joy again, I would have said no easily, my heart was broken. I still miss Livvy so desperately and often still fall under the weight of grief but now my heart knows the promise, the promise that one day I will be reunited with her. Yet in this life whilst I walk it without her physically right now, I know that Jesus has great plans for me and joy it does come in the morning, not promising what morning but it does come. 

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So, I just want to remind you that whatever you are facing you are not alone. That you can do this and even in the crushing darkness there will be and always will be a light, the light of Jesus. 

Sorry I couldn’t rise.

I’m not sure where my head has been for the last few weeks, I’ve completely felt a detachment from the world. On the outside looking in. I’ve been falling into an abyss of what if’s, what should of been’s and to be honest a hornet’s nest of why not’s.

Social media has been full of graduations and moving on photos and I’ve just felt angry and raw.

Grief isn’t pretty, it doesn’t come tied in a pretty bow. A ornate basket with a jar of missing tears and bottle of memories.

No grief is a raging ocean, dark, bottomless and threatening to pull you under at the least expected moment and I’ve been drowning.

I feel such a bitch but I’ve scrolled past photos without commenting, without celebrating the achievement because I was angry, I was resentful because Livvy didn’t get to celebrate it.

I couldn’t drag myself up out of the pain to celebrate others when there will be no prom for my girl, no sparkling dress, no fancy shoes.

There will be no graduation for my daughter, she didn’t even get to complete primary school let alone head out of education into the great unknown.

I hate that I’m angry, I’m appalled at myself for being jealous but my goodness missing her hurts In a way I just cannot describe.

There is always going to be moments that are raw, moments that should of been and I’m always going to try and be ok about them but I’m never actually going to be ok with them.

There will always be a Livvy shaped piece in my heart. Always another tear to fall in missing. A breath to be lost in grief.

Rett Syndrome took so much from us, it took Livvy from us and right now I’m tumbling into grief, anger and complete sorrow.

I miss my girl, I miss her so damn much.

So to those who I haven’t celebrated this last few weeks I’m sorry. My heart does sing for your moments, I’m so very proud of all of you and I’m so sorry. Sorry that I couldn’t rise from the depths of missing this time, sorry I didn’t have the strength to pretend.

I just miss my beautiful girl so,so very much.

What defines you!

If you were to read about my past in script form you would be forgiven for thinking that this may have been a script for a television drama or more likely a soap opera.

It’s a story full of pain, loss and at times anger.

Yet it is my life and right now I am walking a journey which is laying it completely open and completely bare and its hard. It fact it’s blooming painful, yet in the midst of the tears of which there has been plenty I have actually found myself feeling a strength that is holding me all in place. In fact it must have the wire that has held me together through this life’s journey.

My faith in myself.

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I cannot go back and change the past. In fact I’m not sure I would ,as everything that has happened has formed me into the person I am right now and I actually rather like who I am.

We all have pathways to walk and as human beings we will make mistakes, we mess up and at times we completely screw up but its how we move forward that defines us. How we learn from experiences and how we grow.

 

My life may have been messy, but it has challenged me to see beyond the barriers. I love with all my heart, I believe in people with all my soul and most of all I have hope. Hope that with love and empathy this world can and will be a better place.

 

So if right now like me you are feeling scared and vulnerable keep pushing forward because you may not realise it, but these moments, these challenges may be the moments that define who you really are.

Handmade in my heart.

It’s amazing how having a baby changes your life, in all areas, in everything.

The last few months have been a shock to the system. I miss my sleep. I miss eating my dinner in one go and I really miss drinking my tea hot.

Yet all these changes are so worth it when the little one looks up at me and smiles.

How is it possible to feel so much love in such a short time?

I am smitten.

My heart was in need of baby snuggles.

My arms in need of baby cuddles.

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Our house has been turned upside down and it’s amazing. My girls are the most incredible big sisters I could ask for, from changing bums to just giving my arms a break they have been so wonderful.

Open arms, open hearts.

I cannot believe how something so tiny can make such big changes.

Even today I found myself buying some new clothes not only wondering about style and fit but also if they are baby proof or will hide baby dribble well.

I also cannot believe how vast the world of baby stuff has become, from food to clothes to equipment the baby market has gone wild and I am loving it. There is so many things that I just want to get him, my husband is already fed up of hearing the words of “he would look so cute” or “he so needs this”.

Yet still I love things that are handmade, items created just for your little one. They just seem that little more special and nothing is more special than this beautiful star blanket crafted by the wonderful Naomi at Mama Naii’s.

 

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I actually saw a photo of one she had made previously and just fell in love and knew little man needed one. So after chatting about colours and size we soon became the proud owner of this wonderful blanket and this adorable Gerald giraffe. I wish I could show how much he loves it. Watching him hold on tight to the giraffe is so cute and seeing him cuddled up tight in his blanket is priceless.

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Naomi crafts some truly beautiful things and is always willing to chat about what exactly it is you want. I already have my second order in and I’m planning my third too.

So if you are like me and feeling blessed to have a little one in your life maybe take a visit to Mama’s Naii’s Facebook page, or Instagram page and have a look for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Countdown to 40

40

 

I realised last night that in under a month I turn 40. This is a major milestone in my life but one I am so excited for.

Growing up I remember thinking 40 was really old, I mean it seemed that my mom was 32 forever so I was sure I would stay this way. Yet time has moved on and I have been slowly creeping towards this age.

I remember when I turned 30 I was really freaked by it all, I didn’t feel ready to be 30 years old I was uncomfortable and not happy in my own skin. Life wasn’t easy and I had just started to show signs of the illness that changed my life. I look back to those days when I was chasing after 4 children under 10 and teaching dance. I remember just not feeling complete as if I wasn’t living life to the full.

Fast forward the last ten years and my goodness a crazy amount has happened. I have walked through some of the darkest moments of my life. My heart has been broken, tore up into millions of pieces and then trodden on. I never imagined at 30 that I would have to bury a child let alone two. I would have never been able to comprehend surviving the loss of my daughter and my foster son. Never in a million years. Yet somehow I have survived, my heart may never be complete but it is learning to love on, learning to beat strongly again and I am learning to live life to the full again.

I know deep down that 40 isn’t really a special age. I mean I preach often about celebrating every day we have here, but still I am rather excited for the day.

This may sound big headed but I like who I see in the mirror now. I may not be a dance teacher or able to fit my bum into a size 12 but I truly love my body and I’m so grateful to it. It has given me four amazing girls, completely different, independent ,inspirational girls. It allows me to foster two truly awesome boys, each a blessing in their own special way. My body may be a little battle worn but it’s not been beaten and I am so thankful for this.

I look back to the person I was 10 years ago and I know I have been on a journey. I use the term “self discovery” loosely  as is the only way to get close to describing  the transformation I feel I have faced.

I love who I am (yes I may have said that before) but I seriously do. I love my emotional side, no more will I apologise for my random tears or unexpected hugs. I’m empathic and I care and this is something I am proud of now. No more calling myself soppy and pathetic, I actually rock.

I love my courage, I am more willing to put myself out into the danger zone, being vulnerable, feeling scared but still moving forward.

I love my brain, it’s ok that I am a little geeky at times, that sometimes the idea of a good book wins against a movie or a night out. That I appreciate my own company and yes at times I get lost in my own mind.

I love myself and I love my life.

As I head towards this birthday milestone I do so with so much gratitude.

Over the last years I have had people walk into my life that have blessed me in so many ways. Friends that love me for me, deep true friendships that can pick up after a time apart just where we left off. Friends I can laugh with, friends I have cried on. I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I am so thankful for my family, my daughters and my sons each so unique and so beautiful. Getting to watch them grow and learn and experience life is such a wonder, such a gift. My Dad, my Step Mom, my inlaws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, relantionships that I truly value and people I truly love.

My husband, I am completely in love with this crazy man, after nearly 20 years of marriage I still get that flutter in my heart when he walks into a room. He makes me laugh, he drives me insane, but he truly is my soul mate.

I am so thankful that I miss my Livvy, because missing someone is the recognition of an amazing love, a truly unbroken bond. My girl and I will be together again one day, but until then I am going to try and live as she did, fully and with all my heart.

So the count down to 40 begins and I’m so excited. I’m so ready to celebrate the 40 years I have been here with all my family and friends. An evening full of laughter, music and hopefully a gorgeous outfit.

Yet 40 is only the really the beginning, the start of a new stage in life, one I hope will be full of love and laughter and the people that really make my life truly amazing, my family and friends, because with them and because of them I actually love myself more at 40 then I ever did.

 

40 looking good

Only my own 

I’m so tired of opinions 

How people voice their own without thinking or consequence.

How others can know what’s right for you when in truth they have no idea of who you are.

Your truth is not theirs 

And their understanding is not yours to find.

I cannot live like this anymore.

Searching, struggling to find something in myself to please, to placate others.

Twisting and turning myself inside and out to be who they want me to be.

Nauseous from inadequacy.

Pained by failure. 

Why am I not enough?

Who do I allow to hold me to unattainable heights? 

Why do I allow others to drag me into the darkness of my lows. 

I’m sorry, 

Whilst I do value you and all you are.

I cannot allow your opinion of me be the basis of my souls definition.

My heart has to beat to its own drum.

My soul has its own chords to sing.

Whilst I do respect your opinion on so many things 

The only one on myself that truly matters is mine.

See it as vanity,

See it as ego,

I know it as survival.