January Snow, Scooters and Self Care

I’ve always quite liked January, partly because of the hopefulness of a new year but also because my dad’s birthday falls in the middle of the month, which always gives us something to look forward to and celebrate after Christmas. This year, my dad came up to stay with us over his birthday weekend, and we took a wrapped up walk around Mugdock Country Park together. My dad hasn’t had the easiest time over the last few years, so I feel very lucky and grateful to watch my daughter and her “papa” playing and laughing together now.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a gradual return to our normal routines. Our daughter has returned to nursery, playgroup and toddler sensory, while my husband and I have resumed work, though I’m still mostly based at home with just one day in the office.

As the weather has been fairly mild, usually in single figures but rarely dipping below zero, we’ve been able to get out to the playparks and letting our toddler zoom around the cul-de-sac on her scooter. It’s quite a contrast from last January when it was so cold that we watched people ice-skating on the frozen ponds in the park and we were still under lockdown. We did have a little bit of snow at the start of the month and had fun throwing snowballs at each other in the garden before it melted.

The weekend just passed was a busy one, starting with toddler sensory which involved a bumped head and a nose bleed, lots of tears and cuddles, coffee with our neighbours in the afternoon, and a solo trip to visit my mum chatting over tea and helping her with a few odd jobs around the house and garden.

January has flown in, it’s been a busy month, but one full of family fun and togetherness. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be prioritising self-care, for me that means yoga and reading, cutting down on junk food, caffeine and alcohol, but also reducing the amount of time I spend scrolling on my phone, and spending more time with family and friends. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Springing back to Health

Every year, winter seems to stretch on for longer than it should, and I’m always relieved when I notice the first budding leaves appear on the trees. Despite this, spring is probably my least favourite season; it seems shorter and less well-defined than the others – at least in our part of the country; just a few weeks characterised by daffodils braced against the rain and cherry blossoms swirling like pink snowflakes in the breeze to separate winter from summer.

This weekend my husband and I took a wander through a local park to admire the spring blossom on the trees. There have been times over the past while when I have felt like one of those little petals tumbling out of control in the currents of life. Between moving house, nursing our cat Mara back to health, my husband being injured in a cycling accident and various other happenings, the first quarter of 2017 has left me feeling somewhat weary.

I’ve also been struggling with writer’s block; I’ve always found writing therapeutic, but it can be hard to organise my thoughts when life is turbulent. In blogs and social networks, we have the power to rewrite events and portray our lives from the most flattering and rose-tinted angles, yet writing also gives us the chance to reflect on our experiences and find meaningful lessons in our most mundane and lowest moments. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that whenever I feel weary or overwhelmed, it’s time to slow down.

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I’ve lost count of how many vet appointments I’ve taken my cat to in the last few months, but I’ve been neglecting my own health and a recent illness reminded me to stop taking it for granted.

My husband and I have always enjoyed cooking and eating together, but cooking from scratch takes planning, time and effort, and it fell by the wayside when we were rushing around or under pressure, we survived on takeaways and reheating frozen food for a while instead. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I became ill after neglecting my nutrition so we’re making more effort to cook from scratch using fresh ingredients and adding a few new recipes to our repertoire, and we’re already feeling better for it.

After a sporadic attendance over the winter, I’ve returned to my weekly yoga class. It requires a little more effort now I live further away, but I usually feel physically and emotionally calm and refreshed after yoga. We’ve found a local swimming pool, and once my husband has healed up, we’ll resume swimming on Saturday mornings. Due to my laziness, my husband has to bribe and cajole me to go almost every week, but once I’m in the pool swimming has a meditative effect on me and I get a little sense of achievement as the number of lengths I can swim gradually increases each week. We’ve also been taking advantage of the better weather to work in our garden, chatting to our neighbours over the hedge while sparrows, blackbirds and blue tits flutter and chirrup nearby.

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Taking better care of myself means I’m better prepared to weather all the setbacks and storms of life. Spring might not be my favourite season, but I can still appreciate the gentle reminder of the cherry blossoms to slow down and enjoy the lighter evenings, the warmth of the sun and new life springing up all around. Have a lovely week.

Lanterns in the Darkness (Making Space)

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“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” J.K. Rowling

A couple of years ago, I joined a yoga class. I’ve never been able to meditate but after an hour of yoga I felt mentally calm and physically relaxed, and the class has been a regular part of my self-care routine ever since. During one class, something my instructor said resonated with me when she described the stretch we were practising as “making space in the body”, and I realised I needed to make space in other areas of my life too.

Both at work and in our personal lives, my husband and I often felt like our lives revolved around meeting other people’s needs, and we were sometimes so busy caring for others that we had little time or energy leftover to care for ourselves.

Yet even while struggling under the weight of obligations and in the midst of turmoil, we found solace together in quiet evenings at home taking it in turns to read chapters of the Harry Potter books to each other, or ambling hand in hand along a secluded beach we found (which became our favourite escape), confiding our fears and hopes for the future in each other as the sun slipped beneath the horizon. These intimate and restorative moments sometimes seemed like lanterns in the darkness, strengthening our resolve, and guiding us towards the peace and simplicity we both longed for.

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Learning to say “no” to people who were used to us acquiescing to all of their requests (and in some cases, unreasonable demands) was, and still is, a challenge, and it caused some friction as we adjusted our boundaries with them. Yet the most difficult people were always counterbalanced by all the kind and supportive people in our lives who loyally stood by us through the darkest times, and focusing on our relationships with these family members, friends and even colleagues helped us to keep the more challenging relationships in perspective.

As we began to feel less harassed, we set about tackling the numerous little jobs that had been accumulating around our home, gradually decluttering and downsizing our possessions. We felt physically lighter every time we donated a bag of clothes to a charity shop or took a box of stuff to be recycled, and our home became a more pleasant and tranquil place to inhabit.

Now, as the build up to Christmas begins, and the dates in our calendar start to fill up, it would be easy to fall back into old habits, but we’re still finding ways to simplify our lives and make space for ourselves. Have a lovely week.