My word for the year 2016

As I start the new year I want to continue with my tradition of choosing a word for the year. A word I hope will be something I can turn to throughout the year.

My word for 2016 is ‘truth’.

2015 was a year of two halves. A real mixture of celebration and heartbreak. 

I got to live some amazing moments, walking the catwalk for amazing brands at Style XL in July. Not just jumping over my self confidence barriers I crashed straight through them. I’ve enjoyed every moment that I got to model and have grown so much in confidence. I’ve learned what I like to wear and how to wear it. Hoping 2016 is another year full of fashion and fun. 

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The experiences I have had from the plus size fashion world have been wonderful but to be truthful it’s the friendships that have blossomed from this community that have really blessed my life. I have had the great pleasure of meeting some truly radical, inspirational women. Women who fight daily to get women of all shapes and sizes equally represented in the world of fashion. But also women who have really shown me what community means, support, guidance and encouragement. 

I also got to start on the journey of achieving one of my longest held dreams. I started my degree course in September. I still get goosebumps when I realise that I’m now in the 2nd year of my degree. I was lucky enough to move past year one due to the prior knowledge and training I have had. My degree is in Therapeutic childcare and I’m so exciting to be learning as much as I can to help and support children who have faced neglect and trauma. This is truly where my heart lies. The fact that I’ve also made some rather lovely friends on the course is a true added bonus. 

To be fair 2015 was a good year, I have had some incredible moments and a lot of things and people that I am so thankful for. 

I’m also ending 2015 with a new addition to my family as we have opened our home and hearts to a second foster son. So be prepared for some baby posts as I find my feet with my new addition. To say I’m a little excited is a massive understatement.

2015 also brought with it some amazing opportunities for Livvy’s Smile, we created some wonderful memory making days and got to see some truly beautiful smiles. Excited to see what we can achieve in 2016.

  

  

Yet 2015 hasn’t been all good, I have watched my friends walk some painful paths. We have to say goodbye too soon to those who just couldn’t stay. Nothing I can say will help ease the pain of these losses but we will remember and honour those we miss. 

So why am I moving into 2016 with the word truth as my beacon? I’m not sure if I can actually find the words to describe why and what this means to me but I guess I will try. 

For a long time I have felt lost, like I wasn’t hundred percentage sure who I was and to be fair what I believed and what I wanted to stand for. Yet over 2015 I found myself really searching deep inside about what I wanted from life. Looking into oneself has never been easy for me, I tend to self judge and cause myself pain. Yet this last year I decided to stop blaming myself for anything and everything and know my own truth.

So that’s why I’m moving into 2016 with the word truth at the forefront of my mind.

I’m going to focus on knowing my own truth, I’m going to work towards being able to help children know their own truth.

I’m going to stand up for the truth needed in the world today. To see all people treated equal, fight discrimination against disability, ethnicity and faith. To see everyone celebrated for the people they are. We are all unique amazing individuals. We live our own truth.

So as I welcome in 2016 I do so with excitement and joy. I’m know the next 365 days are going to be full of challenges and changes but if I could have one wish this year it would be no more “too soon’s.”

So today I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope and pray that 2016 is all you wish it to be.  

Know your own value.

Dear teenagers,

There is nothing more than I hate to see then you posting photographs on social media asking for likes. Your need to get reassurance from others. The value you place in the number you receive really worries me.

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You cannot allow your self worth to be based on a number.

The world of social media is a fickle place someone may not like your photo for reasons that are way beyond you, but the fact is, that is irrelevant.

You need to know your own worth!

To know how truly amazing you are.

Post as many photos as you want but love them yourself.

Know that what you see is a beautiful, handsome incredible individual.

Know that each and every one of you is an amazing unique person.

That your life is worth so much more than a like or twenty, in fact no number can hold your value.

You are priceless.

Go ask your parents for a number that holds your value, they couldn’t give you one as their love for you infinite.

Go ask your best friends to number your friendship, believe me when I say true friendship  is beyond any number.

This world is so quick to put a number on things, from the latest iPhone to designer clothes.

This is not true value.

Your smile, the twinkle in your eyes, the sound of your laughter this is what people will remember.

A new dress will become last seasons fashion, a kind giving heart will be cherished forever.

Hey I’m not saying don’t share that photo of you in your new top, coat, jeans hey we all do, personally a good make up day is always a share for me.

It’s not about not posting, its about why you post.

Post because you feel good, post because you are happy with the way you look, post because you just want to.

Don’t hold on for likes, know you are liked and loved.

The number does not hold your value because it cannot,

Because simply you are priceless. 

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No, I’m not OK… 

I’m tired of the word O.K.

We hand it about so often that it’s become a nothing word.

It has no meaning.

No substance.

Often we use it because we think we should. 

It’s up there with the sentence “I’m fine”.

It’s polite, it’s expected, it’s crap.

You know what , it’s actually ok not to be ok.

To feel upset, angry, hurt. 

You don’t have to be ok. 

“You look tired is everything alright “?

“I’m ok” No you are not you have been up all night with children and are surviving on caffeine, you are tired and exhausted. You are not ok.

I heard you have lost your job, you ok?

“I’m ok” no you are not you are worried about paying bills finding money for the kids new school uniform. You are feeling rejected and confused. 

“I heard what that woman said to you, are you ok?”

“I’m ok” No You are raging she embarrassed you for no reason other than pure rudeness. You are angry and hurt.

Why do we say I’m ok when it’s obvious we aren’t and why do others take it knowing that we are not? 

Is it politeness?

Is it a fear about getting involved?

Or a general don’t really care ? 

Maybe all of the above, I don’t know but I want to banish I’m ok. 

I’m challenging people today to be open and say “you know what today is hard I’m struggling”. Or even “I’m feeling fantastic today is a good day”.

I also want you to challenge others “I’m ok” when it’s obvious they are not. “Can I help” or simply “I’m here for you”. Could seriously make someone feel less alone. 

Because “I’m ok” can destroy you, it can leave you feeling so isolated . It can make you question yourself and drive yourself crazy ” why aren’t I ok” ? “What did I do wrong? Why do I feel this way?

When the truth is our emotions are part of who we are. We feel, we laugh we cry. We know joy and we know sadness. 

Our emotions are our humanity. 

By pretending we are ok we don’t allow ourselves to validate our hearts. 

Let’s leave the polite bullshit behind and be open and honest. 

Let’s share how we really are feeling today. 

Let’s be be vulnerable. 

Let’s be transparent,

Let’s be true.

No, I’m not ok… 

#mybloggingtruth – A challenge to all bloggers

I started my first blog back in the early part of 2008, I wanted to share my life and what it was like raising a severely disabled child. How it could be hard but it could also be truly amazing. In the last 7 years I have seen many changes in the blogging world some good, some not so much. I know it has expanded greatly thats for sure, both in the personal and business world. Bloggers have become influential and can really make a difference to the public perception of a brand or a product.

It will come as no surprise to my regular readers of which I know there may be one or two that I am an emotional writer. My words fall from my heart onto the pages here. Sometimes I read my old posts and think maybe I shouldn’t have shared that or maybe I could have written it different but often I write for freedom and at that time writing that blog post may have given me that.

Sharing your heart here in the virtual world isn’t easy, especially when you put your name to the words. Of course we have all read the anonymous nefarious hate that has been written by trolls but in my book if you don’t put your name to it well then your cowardly shit isn’t worth the webspace you are taking up.

But even the most honest of all writers hide.

Are we really not photoshopping our words, our lives, hiding behind the filters.

Do we really share all our true faults, our failings?

Hands up I know I don’t.

Why would we?

It’s scary being vulnerable.

Well, as a writer who has shared her struggles and also from reading and talking to others what I have learned is that honesty makes people feel less alone.

How many of us moms have really felt that we have had enough, I know have. Seriously at times I wonder if I am cut out to be a mother. I screw up so often that I’m glad my children don’t keep score. Yet when I read blogs that seem full of perfect parenting I truly struggle. Questions like “what did I do wrong”? Raise their mind destroying heads.

Or the blog of the woman who dropped her pregnancy weight in 2 weeks whilst 14 years I still have my baby belly.

The perfect home baking whilst my kitchen looks like a war zone.

All this seems just out of reach.

So I’m setting all bloggers the #mybloggingtruth  challenge.

I want you to write a post sharing your truths.

Be open and be vulnerable and lets come together to celebrate our imperfections, our  struggles and our mishaps.

I will start the ball rolling here’s my truth……  I run away. 

I get so scared of failing that sometimes I’m to scared to try. I hate this about myself, I look back at the opportunities I have missed because of fear. The friendships I didn’t allow to blossom because I didn’t believe in myself. The many times I have said no when my heart really wanted to say yes. So many experiences, prospects lost to my fear.

I’m working on this but  I am truly still a work in progress.

So join in with me, write your post, tweet it to me @livvyssmile and use the hashtag #mybloggingtruth and lets use our words and our truths to make us all feel less alone.

Let our transparency be the the light for others.

Let’s do this, lets share our blogging truths.

Loving hard

Being emotional.

Is it a bad thing?

For many years now I have felt it is.

I have held back my heart, my feelings, my emotions.

And I feel suffocated.

 

Years ago when I was a teenager my Nan told me that wearing my heart on the outside would get me hurt.

She was talking about my heartbreak over a boyfriend at the time and she was trying ease my pain.

She said that I needed to hold my head high and act as if it didn’t matter and that i was ok.

I know she meant well but I believe I took that advice a little to literally.

 

You see I do love hard.

Its as simple as that.

But over the years I have held back.

Tried to be someone I’m not.

Taking words as emotional, dramatic, as insults.

Changing who I am to please others.

 

Even when Livvy died I never allowed myself to let go.

I didn’t fall apart, scream at God or generally let rip.

I held on.

I could tell you that it was to be strong for my girls, or my husband but that would only be partly true.

I held on because I was scared to let go.

If I let myself fall apart would i be able to put myself together again.

Well I was praying about this last night and God gave me this beautiful image of a mosaic and he reminded me that some of the most beautiful things in life are made from broken pieces.

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I have to allow myself to break,

Allow myself to really feel.

Holding back is suffocating me.

I can’t breathe.

 

I do love hard.

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It is who I am

I am emotional

I am dramatic

I am all or nothing.

But I love with all my heart.

I will fight to the death for those I care about

and I will be by your side always.

Remember if I love you, I will love you hard.

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Behind closed doors

I’ve been thinking recently about who we really know in our lives.

Are we sure we are seeing the real person?

Ask yourself the question

Who do you really know?

I imagine that the number is quite small.

Often you find that the public persona is not really the truth.

How many times have we be surprised by news headlines. Learning that a person we believed to be kind, great and fantastic is in fact a cruel hard abuser.

Pop starts we have worshipped being truly sick individuals.

Who we see is not always who we really are?

The mom at the school playground full of smiles and laughter goes home crying suffering from depression.

The wife who seems so happy and in love is actually a victim of spousal abuse.

We really don’t know what happens behind closed doors.

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I asked myself the question.

Who do people see when they see me?

My answer

I’m not sure.

I am a person who wears her heart on her sleeve. I am known to tell you my life’s story in the first five minutes of meeting.

But do I really share my all?

Do I confess that at times I feel like a complete failure. Motherhood is harder than I ever imagined and as much as I love it I desperately crave a break now and again.

Do I tell you the man that I married drives me insane with his RC obsession and that I’m tired of hearing lap times or speed controller turns and seriously if he forgets something once more I may go slightly insane.

Do I mention that friendship scares the pants of me. That I am convinced I will screw it up and that generally I’m not very likeable.

The truth is we all have hidden sides parts that lurk in the shadows. Yet those hidden sides effect our lives more than we realise.

Maybe it’s time we brought them
Into the light.

Building relationships that are true.

Letting people see who we really are.

I honestly believe this is the key to happiness. When you surround yourself with people who really know you it allows you to be.

To feel

To live.

So I’m saying this is me, I am mixed up lady and that is perfectly ok.

I’m tired of living behind closed doors.

Life is such a gift and I want to live it fully.

So join me open those doors swing open those windows and let’s embrace we are truly are.

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Build true relationships that are transparent.

And in our transparently let us find fulfilment.

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Christmas overwhelms me

I’m nervous about Christmas it’s a time of year with overwhelms me. The pressure to have the perfect decorations the perfect dinner and if course making sure that the gifts are perfect for all the ones I love.

The noise level goes up at Christmas. The annoying carols that play in every shop you visit. The constant stream of adverts telling you “this is the must have toy for your child”.

Everywhere you go you are faced with bright lights and trimmings that sparkle so bright straight into a headache for me.

Cards to be written, having to check your lists twice making sure that some distant relative isn’t going to be forgotten.

Presents to be wrapped and hidden. Receipts to be kept safe, endless roles of sellotape and batteries added to the shopping list.

Christmas time is exhausting!

Yet I love the sharing of presents, the warm feeling I get inside when I see the genuine smile on someone’s face when they open their gift. And Yes the worry of the last few months does disappear in the chaos of giggling children ripping open their presents.

The destruction of the living room is one of my favourite parts of the holiday. The floor covered in spend paper and opened cards.

The beautiful sounds of hymns being sung at the church carol service. The peace found in the telling of the Christmas story on Christmas eve. The warmth of the church as we all sit together and prayer as we remember the real reason of Christmas.

For only a day life seems to go on warp mode for the months before. Each year I make myself the promise of being prepared earlier yet all of a sudden December is knocking at my door.

My husband tells me I wouldn’t change it for the world but truthfully I would a little. I would like to be able to put less pressure on myself. To accept that no everyone will get the perfect gift but the fact that I have given in love should be enough. Accept that my Christmas dinner will never look like Delia Smiths but my family all enjoy it and if anyone is missed of my Christmas card list then maybe we need to stay in touch a little more.

Perfection isn’t going to happen in my home, but happiness and love will be a plenty.

I remember the true meaning of Christmas and that is completely overwhelming in a truly special way.

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If you would like to overwhelm someone with love and caring this Christmas consider making a gift in their name to the Compassion UK Christmas Appeal . Help Compassion release children from poverty.

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