I thought it was high time I sat down to write for the blog; it’s been a while since I last posted anything here. Last year saw me really appreciate how much I enjoyed writing but also how much I also neglected my own hobbies, wants and needs. The funny thing about being a parent, or maybe it’s simply just about being a grown up, is that everything you do is for the family or for others around you; more often than not this means sacrificing time, energy and on others. I find it very easy to forget that I too deserve a social life, for my own sanity and emotional well being, or that just because I’m currently not in work that I don’t have to do all the housework myself that I can delegate some jobs to the rest of household to complete. I’m an indecisive person at the best of times but I know what I enjoy in life and I am determined to allow myself this year to partake in my writing, crafting, hair dressing, reading and baking with the general sense of being kinder to myself.
Last year was a very busy and difficult year for myself and family. We faced new challenges and older problems arose to try to rain on our parade again. But I don’t want to be thinking about the negatives or the extremely difficult times because actually underneath all the chaos we had a fantastic year.
I’ve decided that I’ll write about the positive and leave the negative in the past so here are my top ten things I’ll cherish about 2015!
2015 saw me being employed for the first time since I was pregnant with my eldest. Over the years I enjoyed being a stay at home parent but felt it was the right time to re-join the big bad world of work. I was lucky enough to be employed by an independent business, Cafe Virtuoso, in my local town center. Now this was no ordinary Cafe; we offered food and drink for those wishing to lead a more natural food based lifestyle but also for those with specific dietary requirements. It really opened up my eyes to not only how we all eat and drink at consumerists but also how we can still lead a much healthier lifestyle if we take the time out of our busy lives to concentrate on what we are doing to our bodies. The Cafe is now closed but I’ll always cherish that my boss put so much faith in me & in my capabilities within the work place despite finding it difficult at the best of times. We all need that one person to give us a chance, our lucky break, and I’m so lucky that mine included being around such wonderful people and the chance to learn how to make the best latte!
2. Hairdressing qualification
When I was young I was always in awe at how fast someone could cut my hair. The speed, the skill with the precision fascinated me. As a teen I would experiment with various hairstyles and colours on my own hair; I even opted to drop one GCSE at school to attend the local college to take part in a basic Hair & beauty course- which I aced! I was Saturday girl at a hairdressers near my home and ended up working after a school day in the evenings to help with the last few clients on that day. I loved the idea of being able to recreate someones look with having skills of ultimate creativity. When I had my children I put my ideas on the back burner opting to take part in more practical qualifications. In 2014 I decided enough was enough; I’d enroll in the evening hairdressing course at the college. I was successfully enrolled after a grueling interview and Maths & English tests. Every week I would learn new skills practicing on manikin block heads other students and then paying customers. I’m so proud to be a holder of a full Hairdressing qualification certificate having passed most units with a distinction, it fills me with joy to know I now have those skills I was once in awe of.
3. My 24 before 24 list
I haven’t actually updated my 24 before 24 goal list page on this blog but that doesn’t mean I ignored it. Between June ’14 and June ’15 I worked my way through my list of goals for the year. I went to London and saw Stomp in the theater, had a wonderful afternoon tea at a local hotel and read many books. It was great to do things for myself but as always there were months when I put my wants behind me and focused on others instead. This wasn’t always a bad thing as I was able to be kind to others and be selfless- another of my goals. I’m still working at being kinder to myself so I use my mini bucket list as a way of reminding myself.
4. Moved home
I’ve moved home 8 times in under 8 years. yes, 8 times. It’s stressful and incredibly hard work for not only myself but the children too. The months of planning, paper work, packing and then unpacking can be tiresome. I am happy to say that this will have been the last time we move home for quite some time now. We have a secure home with my partner and his son with no risk of a landlord wanting us out of the property and no nasty estate agent fees to pay anymore. We have, however, a mortgage and an expensive one at that but we have a home that we can decorate how we like, a garden we can renovate to our tastes and very little risk of being told to sell the house. I’m glad to say that this house has become my favorite home compared to the last 7 and feel like great memories will be made here.
5. Our first holiday
At the end of July last year be bunged 3 suitcases and 3 children into the back of our car and drove 5hours to Blackpool for our first family holiday. I’d often felt guilty that I had never taken my children on a holiday or even a weekend away that hadn’t been with the intention of visiting family. I felt as though I was depriving them of experiences in life and the chance to enjoy what so many of their friends had. I was so pleased with we arrived in Preston urging the children to play ‘Spot The (Blackpool) Tower’ a game which me and my family played on our trips to Blackpool. Not only is the small seaside town full with activities and attractions for children and big kids it also holds dear to my heart. My Pop (great grandfather) lived in Blackpool and I can remember having wonderful holidays visiting him when I was a child. I was so pleased to share my favorite attractions and sights with my family, remembering the way to exact locations of places and being able to articulate the history of buildings, attractions and even rides within the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I no longer feel like my children have been less adventurous than their friends and now appreciate that our day trips are just as valuable memories for children to have as are weeks away abroad.
6. My children learned to ride their bikes
At the beginning of the 2015 my Son made great progress with riding his bike without any help, he was so close to having the perfect balance. Then he became ill. Just before Easter he had to have emergency surgery on an abscess that had formed to the size of a golf ball. I was worried that all the efforts he had put in to becoming flexible,active and most of all the skills he had learned with his bike would be put on the back burner for months. As soon has he had learned to sit comfortably again there was no stopping him he was back on his bike and within a few days was riding it without ease, showing off by standing up, riding up curbs and riding one handed. It was a magical moment. Now my little girl doesn’t like to feel left out and within a week she too was riding her bike on her own racing up and down the grass with her brother! One happy Mumma right here!
7. I became part of the Bipolar community
When I say I became part of the Bipolar community it’s a little bit of a fib. I think once you have been diagnosed with something you become part of a community through default anyway it’s just down to an individual whether they join the big conversation or not. When I miscarried last summer I had troubles dealing with my grief and became anxious easily over the smallest of things; I was worried everything that was bad was all my fault. I needed to talk with people who were similar to me in order to come to terms with my loss. In steps my local Bipolar Support Group. I have never felt so instantly welcomed by a group of strangers in my entire life. I talked they listened AND they nodded their heads in agreements without me explaining things. I was understood loud and clear. They made suggestions, offered condolences and I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders even after the first 2 hour meeting. As the weeks went by my worries faded and my confidence grew. With every meeting I became a more active talker, making suggestions, talking from my own experiences and equal mindset. One meeting I was asked my the two facilitators if I would like to join the group as a new co-facilitator adding in the responsibility of the being the online go-to person for our group on our e-community. For once my Bipolar diagnosis has become more than just a burden; I am wanted and I am needed within my community and now that I have a cleared enhanced DBS check under my belt and I am doing good for the world thanks to the charity Bipolar UK.
8. I passed both theory and practical driving tests first time
In March 2015 I started the very long, very difficult process of learning to drive. Being a twenty something you would imagine that I would be excited and relieved that my time to learn to drive had come around but I was less than thrilled about the idea. I had spent so many years as a passenger that I had become complacent about the need to drive. I had a few hours of tuition after my eldest was born but gave them up when I could no longer afford them. My instructor was patient with me but equally hard on small mistakes I would make over the months. Before you can take part in your practical driving test you need to pass the theory and hazard & perception tests. I put a lot of work into researching and mock tests that when I did my theory test in June I passed first time! I was so relieved as the tests are no exactly cheap. I worked hard in my driving lessons but often saw I made no progress for weeks on end, this was no helped when I took a 6 week break over the summer! However all my hard work and hours of practice paid off when I passed my driving test first time a few days before Christmas!!! What a fabulous Christmas gift to myself that was!
9. My blog empowered me
This blog has become a very personal space for me and the social media I use under the blog name as become a very large part of my life. In terms of blog views it didn’t improve much over the course of 2015 but I did surpass my daily page views over tenfold when my post World Suicide Prevention Day went live which was also made Mumnets’ parenting site blog of the day. It was absolutely amazing that so many people had read and shared my blog post and that it had potentially helped someone or at least educated so many people. I love writing so as the months go by this year I’m sure there will be make more time to for this space on the internet. I’ve made so many friends through the site and attended events for people who write blogs; I even got to meet Dr Pixie McKenna at an event to raise awareness for gynae-health! I think blogging and social media really helped me in 2015 realise what I was passionate about often emphasising quite how opinionated I can be and helped me accept that I’m not always everybodies cup of tea but in the grand scheme of things that is not always a bad thing!
10. I was reminded how incredibly brave, intelligent and resilient my children are
As I mentioned above when my Son learned to ride his bike he had to have an emergency operation a few weeks before to remove a rather large cyst. It was an incredibly difficult time for myself, family and his Dad. He didn’t wake up from the anesthetic very well and was violently sick with a nose bleed that lasted a while before slipping back unconscious. I still have flashbacks to that awful time but my Son well he just bounced back as if nothing had happened and he proved just how resilient he was. He had inherited his determination and stubbornness that everybody in our family has and it’s a life skill I am pleased he possesses. Both the children have been working very hard at school and are both nearing the top in their classes academically. My Son was in the local paper in December and we found out that my Daughter who has not long turned 6 has been chosen to represent the school at this years Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama in the poetry category. I took part in the festival as a child in the singing competitions and it was always the highlight of my lower years of schooling. I’m so unbelievably proud of the talented little people I have!
So there you have; it 10 things about last year that were amazing! How was your year? What exciting plans do you have for 2016?