Strong

“Oh she does so well”

“I don’t know how she does it.”

“She is always in control.”

“She is so strong.”

These words are often spoken over me, as a mom who has faced loss then chose to adopt a child with complex needs people seem to think I’m some kind of superwoman, a special heart, so strong. 

I may be all of those things at times but I have allowed these words to stop me opening up, fearful that in my honesty people would see weakness.  

You see there is beauty in strength but choosing to be vulnerable is one of the scariest things we can do. Allowing our hearts to be transparent, now thats hard. 

Yet I often think strength and vulnerability are the same thing. 

Some days I feel far from strong, I find myself hiding in the bathroom as I let the tears fall. I feel the nausea in my stomach as my legs go from underneath me. 

I feel all of this and in this I am strong. 

When my heart beats so rapidly in my chest and I can barely catch a breath, I am strong. 

In the panic and fear I feel, I am strong. 

Yet I still find myself hiding for fear of judgement, fear of weakness. 

How wrong am I? 

You see life is going to be hard, we were never promised anything different but its in the showing up I realise my strength. 

Yes, adoption is hard, but I show up

Grieving is hard, but I show up

Being a medical mama is hard but I show up

Being exhausted from caring is hard, but I show up. 

Being lost in the anxiety is hard but still, I show up. 

I am strong, I am vulnerable, I am a glorious mess of all these emotions. 

Strength isn’t in not breaking, it’s allowing yourself to fall apart in love.

And then showing up. 

I am no longer going to hide under the words spoken over me but I do choose to stop them allowing myself to be honest. 

I refuse to allow the fear of being weak stop me from being vulnerable. 

My weakness is my strength 

In my fear I am strong. 

I show up. 

Writing again in the Five minute Friday link up.

Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write. 

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.

Is truth too much to ask ?

It’s beginning to feel in the world today that whatever you speak up about you will be criticised. A world where we are supposed to be more educated, more aware seems a lot more narrow minded than before. The live and let live attitude is lost under the intense noise of keyboard shouters and newsfeed want to be’s. Sectors of the media saying what it wants without fact checking, it seems asking forgiveness is better than permission.

I truly love that marginalised communities are being heard, not finding their voices, they have always had them but actually being heard. Yet the anger and hate directed towards them is hard to watch ( I’m privileged I know). 

I know it’s wishful thinking that the core of who we are is what will be celebrated, that our differences are special, but our hearts, our souls are ultimately the same, one source, one love.

Yet with this wide reaching social media the world seems louder and crueller. The hate that was hidden in shadows is now out in the light, radicalism is greater than ever. Telling people who they should be, what they should believe and how they should look is now classified as freedom of speech, our right. Do we really have a right to be cruel to be destructive, to harm others?  Morally and it should be legally not. We don’t have the right to destroy another, to mock, to insult, too troll.

From princes to not princesses the world has an opinion yet under the noise their are people. People that hurt, people that cry, people that die due to the words shared openly and cruelly. 

I follow the criteria of “don’t write what you would not say to someone’s face” it’s simple but it’s true. Would I impact another with my words if they stood there in front of me, would I mock their child, would I slander their reputation? Would I openly insult their lives, be racist, be sexist, be cruel if their eyes could see mine?

Let’s be honest I hope I wouldn’t do any of these things anyway but you get the point.

Social media and the news seem to be full of opinions but no facts. It’s crazy that our newspaper articles have not fact checking their sources. Is this true, did this happen, was this the reason? When I studied journalism at college I was told “do not speculate” I wonder if today’s course’s state “write the most explosive story ever and fact check it later”. The amount of lives I’ve seen ruined by guilty by public persecution and the media only for the criminal trial to prove innocent. 

Lives ruined by headlines often not true.

Yet why is this still allowed, why do we still read the headlines, why do we still click the links?

What worries me is those being lost in the noise, those whose voices that should be heard . Those making a difference in the lives of others, those in need of help. Lost in the noise of ego, hate and more ego.

How do you change the overflowing tirade of misinformation and false opinion? Should we close ourselves off from the internet, stop writing, stop reading? 

I don’t think so,  I just feel a two strand approach is needed. Firstly the law does need to change, anyone causing harm, being abusive online should follow the same rules as in real life. If something abused you in real life they would be prosecuted so being behind a keyboard does not make you less destroying. 

Secondly I think as a society we need to be holding our media to account. Headlines should be truth not fiction, the law should be holding those in power accountable. I want to read my news and read an unbiased evidenced based truth not speculation.

I just really want change, social media especially has become such a big part of peoples lives, yet if we are going to allow the words of others to impact our perceptions please let those words be truth. 

Is this too much to ask? 

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. 

It’s not ok that our children died.

Often when we face a loss in our community of special needs parenting, our hearts break alongside those facing the pain. We emphasise with the anger and missing we feel the disbelief and sadness. Myself personally I ache for the pain I know those left behind will feel. Each new loss reopening a wound that is far from healed.

Yet one of the things I still do not understand about loss in the disability community is that from those outside of it, is the feeling that somehow it’s acceptable. That in some way it is less. The concept that a life lived with a disability is not as full as one without.

There is no denying that being part of the special needs community we face loss maybe more than most, the wider our community the wider amount of pain. But that’s our life, we choose to walk alongside one another through the good and the bad. We celebrate the achievements and too often we have to grieve the loss.

Yet often those outside the community do not understand our journey and more often than I would like, do not understand our joy.

Statements like “oh well she had been poorly for a while” “sometimes it’s for the best” or my favourite (irony) “God knows best”.

When Livvy died she had a devastating neurological condition. Her body faced so many obstacles, seizures, abnormal breathing, sometimes uncontrollable movements. Yes, to list her conditions it may seem dire. Yet what the reality was that yes she had this list of issues but what she also had was a life filled with love and laughter. She had a family that adored her, she had parents she wrapped around her fingers. Sisters she teased and played with. Teachers she adored, friends she loved. Her life was full of joy and mischief. She was not her list of conditions. Yet still when I speak of my missing, people speak of her with pity. When I speak of her loss, people speak with acceptance, as if her disability makes her death more ok.

Whilst I know this attitude is meant with kindness I need to share that it’s not. When someone who has a disability dies it’s not ok, it’s not even a little ok. It’s a heartbreaking, soul destroying grief.

You see people are not their disabilities they are simply people. A child with disabilities is simply a child.

So I beg of people, I ask desperately that when dealing with a grieving mother, a broken father a missing family, that before you speak of freedom from pain, limited lives or God’s choices, STOP. Whilst the lives lost may have seemed hard to you, or the disabilities overwhelming those grieving see the little boy whose eyes twinkled as he looked at them. The little girl whose smile lit up the room, their son, daughter, sister, brother. We don’t grieve the disability, we grieve the one we loved and their disability wasn’t what defined them. Our pain is not less and their death is not and never will be acceptable.

Mother’s Day love

Mother’s Day, a day where we come together to celebrate all things that are Mom in whatever form that comes, stepmoms, adopted moms, grandparents being mom and so many more.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. The exhaustion of pregnancy, the labour of delivery, feeding, sleepless nights and so much more but yet it’s often the most rewarding role we will ever get to hold.

It’s tough and this last year has been a real struggle , ‘wow’ is pretty much all I can say about the last 12 months. From home schooling to the deep pit of fear that has been in your stomach since the words Covid 19 were first spoken, it’s been a year.

Still if I wish to challenge all moms a little now in fact probably all parents regardless of gender. What do you think is the one thing that is the hardest to cope with when being a parent?

Exhaustion, worry, finances,

Shall I share what I have placed on my heart this week. What God has wanted me to share with you all.

The hardest thing about being a parent

Expectations

These pesky little things that penetrate our minds and hearts.

I should be

I could be

If only

All turn into

I failed

I’m useless

I’m letting them down.

Now I’m coming to you as a mom of a five so a little experience here and also as professional of therapeutic childcare and I just want to state something here and I really want you to hear me.

You are enough

You are enough.

Our children enter this world with only a few needs, to be fed, to be warm and to be loved. Speaking confidently right now I am sure that each of your children are having those needs met. They are either grown and off living lives that you have encouraged and nurtured. They also could be there in your arms snuggling tight or even kicking out in your precious womb. They could be causing complete mayhem running around the house but all done in the knowledge that ‘they are loved’.

You are enough.

Yet we only have to look back the last 12 months and the changes this virus has brought into our lives. Homeschooling, isolation, exhaustion, fear. How many of use have felt lost, that they are failing?

My hands are right up in the air, me me.

I have watched social media posts of moms with beautiful converted classrooms with their children willingly working away. Houses spotless, make up perfect and I’ve literally cried. I have cried as Daniels homeschooling paperwork fell off the printer for the 15th time, cried as he completely ignored me as I tried to encourage him to work, sobbed at the state of my house and as for being perfectly made up, well I’ve had a shower and I’m saying Amen to that.

You see I couldn’t reach the expectations I had put upon myself and that’s ok. Because Covid 19 or not, being a mom is hard.

We mess up, we lose our temper and we suck at patience some days. Because motherhood didn’t come with super hero powers just the responsibility.

Anyway where am I going with this, well I’m leading to something I have personally took a long time to learn.

You don’t have to do this life alone.

As friends and family we are there to walk alongside one another. Reach out to friends, not only those at your stage at life. We have a wide breathe of generational wisdom to tap into.

But most importantly

Reach up, reach out to Jesus and ask him to walk alongside you. Ask for wisdom, hope and a big one for me, for patience.

Ask him to free you from the lies of the enemy that you are not enough. Free you from the untruth binding of expectations. To be beside you as you raise the next generation and to guide you as you walk this pathway of parenthood.

I ask you to look now at your child or if they are not with you bring them into your mind. As your heart swells of the love you feel for them as the love you have warms you to your very core, I want you remember.

I want you to remember

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

He loved us first,

He loved us first.

Remember that Jesus loves us as we love our children, that warmth you feel for your children he feels for you. He loves you to your very core.

and I want you to say this loud

“we are enough. “

I am enough.

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.

Dear Social media users

Dear Social Media Users

The power we have at our fingertips should be used wisely. Our words now hold so much more force than ever before. The whispers between friends are now being shared across the globe, gone is the ears of few now to the ears of millions.

Growing up I was lucky to have a wise grandad who once told me “don’t say what you wouldn’t want sharing across a room”. I don’t think he had in mind the expanse of the social media reach but I do feel the concept, the sentiment is the same.

If we realise that nothing we share on these platforms is private maybe then we will less quick to press post, less willing to share.

I sometimes wonder if it’s a good thing, the way a persons innermost thoughts are now shared so widely. How opinions that have been in the shadows are now out in the open.

I worry about the influences on our youth, the perceptions they take as reality leaving them feeling inadequate, not enough.

The cultivation of hate, the rise of right wing hate, religious hateful ideology and the vicious muck spreading of lies. All finding itself a wider audience thanks to the power of virtual connection.

Yet still I don’t hate social media, I really don’t.

It has brought into my life some amazing people. People I wouldn’t have come across in my lifetime, separated by distance or just circumstances . It’s been an incredible resource on my late daughters disability and now my son’s. I’m learning, I have learnt more than I could have imagined most that I would have never have known without this source of knowledge.

It has created communities of support, raised awareness and reached out and brought love to those in need.

But personally I think it has come to a point that we now need to be reminded of authenticity. Times gone by a journalist couldn’t publish a story without having the evidence to prove its claim yet we have only got to look at the press of the recent times to know that this is no longer the case. Smear campaigns, lies and pure fabricated hate is shared across many communication mediums.

I wonder when the ability to write any old rhetoric got confused with the freedom of speech?

I wonder when one person’s opinion became fact?

When one persons fear became hate?

Should we be policing the internet, to be honest I don’t know?

As a person in this country we do have a right to think the way we wish. What we don’t have though is the right to act upon it if it causes harm to another, if it’s malicious in its intent. If it’s to incite hate?

So maybe thats where the policing needs to be, cracking down on those who abuse this form of communication. Those who troll, bully and intimidate others. Those who spread lies and feed the evil of this world. Police those that exploit the vulnerable, predators of any nature to all to face charges of a harsh kind. Intimidation, abuse, torture of any kind physical or virtual should come with the same punishment, a hard one.

But beyond all of this we as people have an obligation to each other to remind ourselves that what we say can be heard beyond the room. That by the words we use, the posts we share we take a responsibility for the substance. We cannot say we did not know anymore, we did not realise.

Ignorance is no longer a defence.

Let’s use social media for the communication it should and can be, one of joy, one of upliftment and one of knowledge.

Be truthful and be kind.

Many thanks

Sara

Owning your truth

Have you felt that you are at the end of everything?

That you have reached the point of no return?

That’s exactly how I have felt these last weeks, my face aches from my fake smile and my heart aches for my truth.

Sometimes in life you don’t actually realise that you are living a lie, you have even managed to convince yourself of the pretense.

What do you do when you see the light? When finally, the sticky tape that has been holding you together gives up and reality all comes spilling out like a raging river.

What do you do?

I hope you weren’t hoping for me to have the answers, I actually have no idea.

What I do have is my first step.

No more bullsh*t, no more fake smiles, no more pretending.

If I start with truth, then maybe truth will be the guide I need for my next step.

I’m tired of being ok with things that are not ok, tired of other people assuming their opinions are my own. Tired of saying yes when I really want to say no, tired of just not being me.

I hate that I do this to myself, I encourage others to search for their truth when I’m not owning my own.

I hate being a people pleaser, there is a difference between wanting to support, guide and love on others than just bending to the will.

Seriously,I am simply my own worst enemy, biting my lip so hard it bleeds when I know I am entitled to my own opinion and my own wishes.

Why do I do this, why do so many of us do this as I know I am far from alone?

Have we become scared of being uncomfortable?

Have we just become accepting of settling?

Do we not deserve to live our lives fully and wholeheartedly?

 

I know I have changes to make, people that need to hear me. In fact, I’m sure that nearly everyone reading this wants something more in their lives.

So, join me and start taking back your own truth, start living your life fuller and wider.

Remember those that love you, but also remember that you must love yourself.

This life is a journey but its an one time deal, so make it the best you can, be true to you and others will know your truth to them.

No drama

I had a friend once, I use the term friend rather loosely now but then she was what I would class as dear to me. We had walked though a lot together and I assumed we would continue to do so.

Then when in the midst of Livvy’s regression I was crying down the phone to her when she uttered the words that have scarred my heart for such a long term “I swear your life is like a trashy soap opera, everything happens to you, or maybe you just like the drama”.

I remember the impact of these words as if it was yesterday. How anyone could believe that this was the journey of life I had wanted to take was beyond me but to accuse me of being dramatic hurt. In fact it hurt so much that I shut down, I didn’t allow my feelings to show. I closed the door on that friendship and many others in fear of judgement.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I am in a place now where I am ready to own my own story. Ready to embrace what I have lived, not with echoes of shame but with pride.

Having a child who was born with a debiliatiting condition was hard but not knowing what it was and not expecting it was literally a nightmare. I cannot find the words to explain how painful it was to lose my daughter to Rett Syndrome, twice. Watching her eyes leave my face, her words disappear from my ears and her movements lost to the stereotypical.

To see the fear in her eyes as she screamed and screamed, crying out for me to rescue her. It broke me in inside, I cried out to God so often to heal her.

But he didn’t.

Yet slowly and surely he healed me.

I finally began to embrace the journey I was set upon, although it was very different from anything I could have ever imagined it was full of wonder and joy.

Joy, does that surprise you?

My daughter had a severe devastating condition, my son has a very complex disability but both of them loved, loves life in a way that brought, that brings me so much light.

It’s took me a long time to get to a place where I don’t apologise for what some see “as drama” in my life.

I have surrounded myself with people who get it or who try to understand it.

I have walked away from those who don’t or who don’t want to.

I can accept that some people cannot understand the life I lived or now the life I have chosen and that’s ok.

We are never going to be a typical family and I am embracing that, celebrating that.

Yes at times I am lonely and I do get sad at having to apologise for another missed get together, group activity or friendship meal.

But my children will always be my first priority, always my heart.

I don’t know if my friend understood the impact of her words or how they would change me inside. Maybe it was meant as a throw away comment that wasn’t supposed to find roots and bury itself deep.

Maybe it was my state of mind back then that fed and watered these seeds of deceit.

I don’t know and I actually don’t care.

Because I’m not that person anymore.

I cannot say that harsh words don’t still sting or dig deep in my heart, but they don’t get to stay and or get to take root anymore.

I am stronger than I have ever been.

I have faced the darkness of death and my memories, love brought me the light.

I face the suffocation of fear but my sons smile breathes air into my lungs.

My children are my world, they are the air that I need to breathe.

I am stronger for being their Mama.

My faith is stronger than my fear.