Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overthinking, Stormy Mondays and Finding Hidden Talents

You know those days dear reader where absolutely nothing of any consequence occurs, you're ill in bed and there's literally nothing to do but think, think a little more and then completely over think a situation so much that you end up putting yourself into the centre of your emotional turmoil, the one you just created in your own head by overthinking.

I suppose it's the curse of cold and flu, while the germs infiltrate your body they also have a profound effect on the mood of even the happiest most positive person.  I don't like Mondays at the best of times so Mondays ill in bed are never going to be a recipe for success.

So here we are on Tuesday, I'm just about getting there, chest is doing an impression of wheezy the penguin but I'm up, I'm dressed and thanks to the miracle that is paracetamol my temperature is on the high side of normal again, I'm even back outdoors doing photography in Jesmond Dene again later today and thank goodness, I think I need a sharp injection of vitamin D to flood my veins and shine upon my heart.

There were always going to be lighter days and darker days, sunshiny moments and grim stormy seconds on this new journey through life, I think I just wish I could predict when they would occur so that I could cancel those parts of my diary, crawl into a small cupboard and stay there until they pass.

The rest of this week is a bright and wonderful diary containing lots and lots of photography, by Sunday I will have shot 14 sessions and I might be a bit tired but I'll be happy, working hard has always kept me happy and content, I love photography, I love photographing moments in peoples lives and I love the emails I get with happy reactions to seeing their wedding or their children, I love it when I can delight people with a talent I may have found later in life but I found it and honed it non the less and every day I am thankful that I got to do something with my life which I truly adore.

And so today dear reader, go look inside your own soul, do you have a talent that no one knows about, is there something you could do with your life which makes you happy and fulfilled, is there some other possible path you could take which would mean you wake up in the mornings excited about your work for the day.  We, each and every one of us is unique and inside us I believe we all have something special that we can excel at that no one else can, you just have to find it, take a chance and then launch it on the world, it's the path to true happiness!
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Monday, September 29, 2014

On friendship and being grateful

Good morning dear reader, another Monday heralds the start of a new week and you find me still very much under the covers and this is pretty much where I plan to stay today because I am ill/poorly/sick.

The germies have absolutely infiltrated  and I have my first cold of the year which during the night was kind enough to graduate to my chest and stop me from breathing properly.  It's not the best way to start the week but at least I have an Iain who is going to pick up Looby from school later and Abigail will get the bus home, small mercies having older children, Petunia is staying at her dads until tomorrow as she's off to visit her pack today, she goes every couple of weeks to see all the other lovely huskies and she loves it.

I think given my current state I might just hold off on conquering any small countries for the foreseeable but I am pleased to report that I did get through Loobys birthday luncheon before the germs really took a hold thank goodness.

Looby had a great luncheon joined by Abigail, her daddy and 4 of her very best friends, all who are utterly lovely girls, they're also all moving on to the same secondary school together which is lovely as when Abigail transferred there was only 2 other pupils from the same school who went with her.

It makes me realise just how important friendship is, even from a very early age our friendships help to define us as people, they become the people we laugh with, we cry with, people we turn to in times when we're not strong enough to face things alone and we in turn do the same for others.  It's taken me many years to have a solid, small, sturdy group of friends who I can share my life with and over the past few weeks I have really come to understand how much I'm loved by that group of special people as much as how much I love that group of brothers and sisters who have become an intrinsic part of my daily life.  Some of them I may not see very often, some of them I have known for years but only on line but that doesn't mean that they are any less special to me and if you're one of them who is reading this right now I want to say that I love you and I want to thank you for being in my life right now.x




I'm so proud of my beautiful daughters and my son too although the chances of you seeing a photo of him on here anytime soon is slim!  They really do amaze me with their wit, knowledge and strength of character, Abigail and Looby are like chalk and cheese for two people who have only 16 months between them you really can't get 2 people with more differences between them, it's lovely then when you see them hugging and telling each other that they love them.  Looby gives freely with hugs and love, Abigail not so much but occasionally she does tell me she loves me and hugs me back and that makes it all worth it, behind every hormonal angry teenager is a lovely young lady just waiting to get out!


So today think of me with my Lemsip cold and flu tablets, at least I have a comfy bed, warm blankies and a lovely environment to be poorly in (well apart from the 22 My Little Ponies and Lucy the scary welsh doll), some people are truly alone in this world without friends, family or a nice place to live, some don't have a place to live at all and so today lets all be grateful for the things we do have, go tell someone you love how much you truly care about them today, I promise you will make their day and it will make you smile inside your own heart too.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Growing Old Disgracefully

I always planned that I should get old disgracefully dear reader although the reality of the situation is that I'm slightly uptight, middle class and ageing by the day, last night I had dinner with a friend, did some stargazing, saw a shooting star and drank a bottle of wine, 1 whole bottle of wine when you're 40 is like 6 bottles of wine when you are 22!  I'll just say three words and those of you who are of a similar age will understand - Heartburn, Hangover, Hell!

I did mostly enjoy seeing the stars in the middle of nowhere though and I must make more attempts to A, buy yet another tripod without losing the bit that attaches to the camera (you wouldn't believe how many useless tripods I actually own) and B, get out and see the stars and take some photos of them, they really are quite splendid, especially if you go up into the borders to see them where there's no light pollution.

Today it's Loobys official birthday luncheon with 4 of her closest friends plus Abigail, Paul and myself, now I have to openly admit that I am not the best at squealing eleven year olds, especially when they belong to other people and they're in a group, it's that high pitched squeal only audible by mums, cats and woodland animals, I'm not sure if going into this with a mild hangover is the recommended approach, maybe I'll take ear muffs and no one will notice!

I am happy that my Petunia comes home again today, I have missed her furry face though I have to also point out that I have quite enjoyed being able to stay in bed past 6am in the morning, I could quite get used to blogging in bed with my mug of gingerbread coffee every day, you're probably wondering why I'm drinking gingerbread coffee, well to tell the truth I ran out of Tassimo disks and then I drank filter coffee and it made me a little too manic because I have an inability to brew anything but extra strength coffee and then all I could find in the cupboard was an unused jar of this gingerbread concoction which I probably had left over from last years Christmas Flavourly box, if you haven't heard of Flavourly it's a monthly foodie gourmet goodie box which contains all manner of tasty treats each month, I recommend it with 2 thumbs up and if you use that link you'll get a fiver off your first box!

And so it's that point of the morning where I must extract myself from the comfort of my quilt, take some painkillers and try to make myself look anything less than 312 for todays celebrations so dear reader go out there into the world and find something you can celebrate today even if it's just finding the nearest horse chestnut tree and foraging for conkers.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

I used to be successful

daughter laura at 11 years old, portrait of her
My daughter Loobys 11th birthday portrait
Good morning dear reader and yes it's a slightly later time of the day for me and my blogging fingers but I slept remarkably well until 9am (you can tell the girls and Petunia are staying at their dads until tomorrow) and now I am back in bed with my Mac and a cup of gingerbread coffee (only 2 cals per cup).

I've been thinking about success and what it is over the last few days, I really do believe that at varying times in my business I have actually achieved that, I also feel however that I achieved it at a great price, that of my marriage.

I never do anything by halves, it's not in my personality type, I either have to launch myself into things 150% or not at all, I can't have a like for something, I either love it or hate it with very little in between.  It's just the type of person I am.  It's probably why when I met Paul we found ourselves married within 6 months.

I actually find it quite easy to work 7 days a week, 365 days a year and up to 17 hours a day if necessary, all I have to let it do is consume me and fill me with passion and it's enough to nourish me to the point where I can put everything else aside.

Just lately I have reduced my hours so that I only work 3 days a week, 5 hours a day and then 1 day at weekends although during the busy times I do have to work more at weekends because that's when people want to have photo shoots, it's not that much trouble to adjust my diary every now and again but if there's something I've learned over the past few weeks and months it's that you can't put business above family because if you don't have business you will find a way to survive but if you don't have family and love well you just become an empty shell, man cannot live by money alone but give a man love and he'll find a way to make life work for him because I believe when you have love you can do anything, you can change the world if you have to.  I do know something and that is love is everything, business and success is a contributor to happiness but it's not the whole world.

And so if anyone asks me now I'll tell them that for a while there I was successful, I'm sure I could have achieved great things but I'd rather just trundle along now and have a chance that love and family might nourish all of those parts that I used to fill with work and the general running of business.

Don't get me wrong, I adore the career I have and writing and photography are careers which can actually be kind to family life and easily adapt to whichever situation you are in but my days of photographing 300 sessions in a year are over and I am happy with that decision.  I plan to put 150% into loving the ones I cherish and cherishing the ones I love just as I wrote in my blog about making a life plan

So this weekend dear reader get out there and do the same, put down those keyboards and pens and go have fun with those you love whether they be your children, your partners or your pets, embrace them and love them for if they disappeared from your life you would notice a lot more than if that spreadsheet you''re working on for Monday went missing.
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Settling into new routines


Mandy Charlton, Petunia the Husky, Amble

Enjoying walkies time with Petunia



I don't really think I've anything much to write about this morning dear reader but bear with me because I'll ramble a little anyway, life has been trundling onwards for a few weeks now and we've definite new routines which may not work for other people but we've kind of relaxed into them.  I've always hated mornings but now I find myself sitting here on the Settee blogging at 5 or 6am every morning, my dog loves early mornings and although I can't say I'm a huge fan I have kind of settled into them.

When we get to about 7.15 I'll shout for the girls to get up although Looby who is also a morning person is sometimes up, dressed and half way to being ready by then!

Paul comes for coffee every morning and we all sit/stand around the kitchen chatting about yesterday/the day to come or what's going on in various schedules and how we're going to manage that and then at 8.15 everyone leaves for the day and I make my 145th coffee of the day!

Yesterday Looby had an amazing day for her birthday and we all went out as a family last night for birthday fish and chips at Amble which was lovely.

This weekend I'm looking forward to a lie in tomorrow and Saturday when the girls and Petunia are staying with their dad, tomorrow I have a wedding in the afternoon and then I am going out with a friend and on Sunday I'm taking Looby, 4 friends and one of my very best friends in the whole world Li and her daughter all out for Loobys official birthday luncheon, oh yes we're very sophisticated now she's a young lady of 11, no soft play for her (thank goodness).

I've just noticed this morning that in the news they're talking about people signing pre-nups about pets, I just want to say this.... If you are grown ups you'll find it's just as easy to co-parent a dog as it is to co-parent your children.

You never know what's around the corner, some corners are a lot harder to see around or they just hide the path to the future more than others but all relationships with friendship at the base of them have a chance of survival because friendship is such a powerful bond.

I'd say this week for me has been a pretty good week, I've certainly taken on lots of new lovely work, I made my life plan, I've cuddled my children and my dog a lot and I've enjoyed the beginning of Autumn and embraced the future which as far as I can see is about turning negatives to positives and always remembering that no matter what happens you can never change the past, all you can do is reassess and move onwards using the knowledge of past events to guide you through the future.

So dear reader, go out there this weekend, kick those leaves or catch them as they tumble from the trees, take out your cameras and embrace the parks and nature that surrounds you and say a quiet thank you for all that is good to the universe and always remember that life doesn't have to be perfect to be lovely.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Looby

Today dear reader is a day for celebrations, a day for putting differences to one side, a day for coming together as one family to say Happy 11th Birthday beautiful Looby.

Looby is such a special girl, she's always bright and cheery, of all of my children it's Looby who looks forward to the future with such hope in her heart and happiness in her soul, for her no matter what the situation she believes that in the fullest time of things that life will be better than ever in the end.

She loves without fear and is loved in return by so very many people, she has an unique ability to cheer anyone up and has often sent messages to my friends when they're feeling low telling them something simple like "you're awesome" or "you're beautiful" just to make them feel better, her capacity to love human nature is unbounding.

She loves her friends at school although she's not the biggest fan of formal education, as she has put it many times "but mammy, I don't really need to go to school, I could just come on adventures with you, everything I need to know in life I could learn from you or daddy"

From the youngest age Looby has been a friend of the animals and more of my direct debits every month go out for Loobys latest adopted pets than they do for bills, she currently sponsors a guide dog puppy, some snow leopards, the RSPCA and a dog from the dogs trust (and for she sponsors, you can assume it's actually me that pays for them, haha).  From the day she could tell us what she wanted to do when she grew up she said she would love to be a farmer and to this day it's the thing she wants to do, she loves horses and rides very well, I honestly don't think there's anyone who Looby doesn't like or love.

So to my very special daughter I want to say a huge Happy 11th Birthday and may you fulfil every dream you have and just for you here's some highlights of your 11 years on this earth.





















Happy Birthday Looby, never change even one little bit!





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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Making a Life Plan, 5 Steps To a Happier Life

Yesterday dear reader I was thinking about life and business and making plans for the future, I think we can never anticipate what's around the river bend, it takes great foresight to make any plans because often the path is so hidden but in business it's always good to make a 5 year plan and I reassess mine every once in a while and so I got to thinking, why didn't I make a 5 year life plan, why didn't I put my expectations for the future down on paper (or on Facebook in my case) and then I would have them there to remind me and I could reassess how I was doing.

And so here it is, I am pleased to present my new life plan to you all - 

1. To only do business with lovely people
2. To only be surrounded by lovely people
3. To try to be as lovely as I can each and every day
4. To cherish the people I love
5. To love the people I cherish

Goodbye to Rain cloud people, people with crazy expectations, drama queens, harsh people and generally miserable people.

Now obviously I have some stuff I have to deal with immediately to change that both professionally and personally, I'm as guilty as the next person of not having the vision to see the true colours of other people and everyone pretends to be nice when you meet them but toxic relationships in either personal or professional lives are so very harmful, I think sometimes that even if it's a little messy to rid yourself of these poisonous people in the short term when you look back in the longer term you'll find you are so much happier.

Whilst we cannot change other peoples behaviours I do believe that if we change our own behaviour then peoples attitudes towards us both in business and leisure will have to change.  So today I would like to encourage you to be the master of your own destiny, write yourself a life plan, it doesn't have to be a 5 year plan it can be a 5 day plan, a 5 week plan or a year but the best thing to do is just have some guidelines of things you want to do or achieve or the place where you want to be literally, spiritually or emotionally and then do it!

I make mistakes, sometimes I screw things up for myself without even realising it until later but the key is not to beat yourself up about that, just get your life plan out and remind yourself of the things you need to do so that you can be happy and magnificent in the long term.

Good luck and go forth and have a wonderful Wednesday.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Everyday Beautiful

Wasn't yesterday a beautiful day dear reader, the sun shone and it smiled it's warm smile which made my heart feel good, I had a wonderful after school walk with Petunia in Heaton Park and I love that the first day of autumn was precisely 100% better than the last week of summer.  Autumn is a new phase full of promise and if you are a photographer it's something to embrace.



I was musing yesterday about a challenge and it's had a great response I'm glad to report so I began in earnest on a quest to record that beauty we find in the every day moments of our lives, if you want to join in you can do so in very many ways - 

1. Scrapbook it, if you're one of those crafty ladies then layouts are totally acceptable.

2. Photograph it, it can be with a DSLR, a CSC, your phone, your iPod and if you share it just use the hashtag #everydaybeautiful I wanted to put an is in there but that one was already being used and also it's quite a long hashtag.

3. Journal it, artistic or otherwise!

4. Diarise it, remember you could write one word a day, one sentence or a whole paragraph

There really are no constraints and you can do this whatever is going on in your life, you can do it for a day or a week or a month or until Christmas and if you miss a day, it's ok, just hop right back in when you are ready.

If you are a blogger or you're posting somewhere and want to share it please leave a link in the comments.

It may be that I'll be the only one doing it or it may end up that there's a few of us, I really don't care, I just have been thinking about wanting something to focus on in the short term, my bigger UK Cityscapes project is still going ahead but it's on hold just for a little while due to the life events of late, I need to be at home for the kids for a while and for me so this is a great little thing which takes minimal effort but something that it is truly lovely to look back on.



If you use social media and want to help spread the word about this you can share this blog or just write your own post about the hashtag.

I think I'm going to try and continue until at least Christmas although it might not be every day. There really is no pressure.

You can do 1 a day, 1 a week or 10 a day, there are no constraints, only your imagination so let it fly...

Someone told me that it was going to be rainy this morning and it's actually a gorgeous early morning with skies of pink and blue hues and you know what else?  Yesterday I won a competition, £50 of restaurant vouchers for Arlo in Jesmond so guess where we'll be eating for Loobys birthday this week?!

Have a wonderful autumnal Tuesday.
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Rainy days and Mondays

I've never ever been a fan of rainy days and I've always had a quiet loathing for Mondays but this morning dear reader I've just got up after sleeping until 7.30am which is the longest I've slept for weeks.  The girls and Petunia were sleeping at dads last night so it was lovely not to have any alarm or a tap dancing husky waking me up!

It's Autumn today, it's quite surreal to me that we're already at the time of year which is my most absolutely favourite time of year for photography, the lower light mixed with those bright warm woolens is a combination which makes my heart sing.  It's sad though at the same time, everything starts to die and the trees start going back into their long winter slumber and it seems so long until summer will be with us once again but I am looking forward to conkers and leaf kicking and the scarlets, reds and oranges of the forests final dance before they lay their sleepy heads down to rest for a while.

Yesterday I embraced the last day of summer, a walk to the Sunday quayside market and a ramble around the beauty of the Rising Sun country park coupled with a picnic with enough food to feed 50, I think there's a truth in the fact that exercise is really good for your soul, I'm not really sure how far we all walked yesterday but I was in bed by 9.30pm absolutely shattered and asleep within seconds.



I see this new quarter in the calendar as a chance for a brand new start, with every new season there's always a little hope that good things are just around the corner and just like those lessons I taught my daughter she in turn reminds me that we always need to be happy and hopeful.



Today I'm going to attempt a little work and I'm also going to start looking for the beauty in every day moments, you can join in if you like, you don't need an expensive camera just something to help you focus on those little things which make your life beautiful no matter what kind of situations you are dealing with, it doesn't even have to be a camera, you could just note down a sentence.  I've mentioned before that some times they are so hard to find because you are dealing with such complex life events that overwhelm you like quick sand it can be hard to see anything but the puddle of sand swallowing you but if you have even 1 beautiful moment every day to focus on it's going to help you and remind you that there's life and hope in there always.

I have no idea what ups and downs this week has in store for me, no one can know that really but I'm going to embrace moments, I'll be sharing some on my blog over the coming weeks and on Instagram if you want to follow me or join in, I'll be using the hashtag #everydaybeautiful

Lets not try to let rainy days or Mondays try to get us down.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Every great book needs a little tragedy

Yesterday was in part brilliant and in part one of the saddest days so far, it's funny how that happens isn't it dear reader?

I worked really hard yesterday, 6 photo shoots and a wedding meeting but I also had a lovely lunch with my assistant who has also become the most wonderful friend.

I love adult company, I'm a really social person, I love people, that is why I have the career that I do, I love meeting people, hearing the stories they tell and I in turn love to share stories about the latest escapade of my dear children.

The problem comes I think when you return to your solitude, whilst I realise Iain my teenager is now a fully formed adult and he is great company there are still things you can't talk about and it's in those moments of solitude that I feel the greatest loss.

By last night my ability to not keep filling up with tears which tumble down my cheeks at any given moment faded fast and in the end there felt like there was no other alternative than to go to bed and hopefully wake up feeling so much better.  Guess what?  I do feel so much better, I am great in the mornings, Petunia the husky  likes to get me up at about 6am and as I type she's fast asleep on the chair after her early morning raw chicken breakfast, a wee and a howl.  It's a hard life being Petunia!

I keep telling myself that I should have pulled myself together by now, I should have returned to feeling like I could conquer small countries every day, I keep lecturing my own mind that I have to feel happy or I will just attract more loneliness because that's the feeling I am putting out there but the truth is that I can't find that thing to fill the desolate gap of loneliness left by the man I love not being there anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I have been in relationships before this one, I have split up with people but never ever did it feel quite so brutal and never did I lose my ability to cope with the space left over.

I hold onto one thing and one thing alone, when I am strong and brave once more I shall write a book of all of these thoughts and fill it with the thoughts I've written on my blog, I hope in part that this chapter is only one of many more happy chapters making up a wonderful adventurous life story of a great woman who loved and lost and lived again.  Lets face it dear reader, every great book needs a little tragedy!

Enjoy your Sundays, make every minute special and love as much as you can.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Looking for life answers in a digital world

Every morning I wake up with a kick ass gutsy determination that everything is going to be OK, that I will arise like a phoenix from the flames dear reader, that I will be like a Peacock and I shall shake my tail feathers!  So why then by the evening am I searching the Internet for quotes about divorce, loneliness, and survival feeling sad and alone?  Yesterday night I actually asked Siri if I would ever find love again, he advised "I can't find it but I can search for it in the app store if you want me to Mandy?"

Is this what my life has become?  Asking Siri for life advice or having a mutual howling session with my husky, I worry that when I am old I will die alone and not be found for several days until someone hears the meowing pile of 136 caterwauling cats under which I am buried.

Yesterday I thought I had cracked it, I had seen the clarity I needed to carry on with my life and within days I would be strong, independent and adored.  I think the actuality is that I put too high an expectation upon myself, I've always done this, I remember the last time when we got back together, I was just so convinced that we'd cracked it, I thought we would be recovered and that we would be as one forever in love for the rest of eternity.

I suppose also that even when I got married my expectations were too high for I thought that once you met your soul mate and you were happy and married that you would be able to achieve anything in life as long as you had love, I guess that I still believe that part, what I have to realise now is that without love life still goes on, everything still exists whether you are ready to accept it or not and you will have to adjust because otherwise you will remain stuck like a soul in limbo caught between heaven and hell, like Orpheus in the Underworld to go through those seven levels of hell and still end up at exactly the point in which you started alone and without your true love.

I should be happy in my heart that I got to experience true and unending love at least once in my life time and one day I will be.  I'm such a positive person and have been for many years but I'm struggling at the moment to try to maintain the positivity every day, I feel like it's been stolen away by a thief in the night and of course it doesn't help that there are no solid answers as to why it all ended up this way.

To those who tune into this blog every day (and thank you, all 800+ of you) I hope that you will not mind my candid view, I feel that it would not be honest if I claimed that life was wonderful, brilliant and super all in one week, recovery is such a slow process but I find comfort in the fact that I can at least laugh at myself and I hope you'll give yourself permission to laugh at my crazy behaviours because they are slightly odd to say the least, I even told Iain that if he saw me trawling the Internet for quotes again he was to punch me!

Happy slightly soggy Saturday everyone, I am off to the beach to do photography in the rain because it's so much better than wallowing in my own lonely thoughts and one more thing, my own quote I came up with many years ago...

Life is like photography, sometimes it's a bit blurry!
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Clarity and the dawn of a brand new day

Yesterday I happened upon a quote dear reader, it simply said "She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails."  I didn't go looking for it, I just sort of happened upon it but it spoke to me and the way my heart is now feeling.  I started writing this blog post yesterday and it's changed completely to the piece I originally wrote, I think you should do that some times, I think you need to think about those powerful words you're about to say or write because the pen is almost certainly mightier than the sword.

I met a friend for coffee yesterday, someone completely unbiased and we've not known each other for very long but she herself had been through something similar and  in my own mind I could no longer pretend. For the last few years at least, I had tried everything to try to correct an untenable situation so very many times, I tried to change, but in reality, nothing I could do would make me ever good enough in the eyes of another.

I don't think I can be  hurt any more by the demons of the present or the ghosts of the past, for today I can finally say, "Onwards into a brave new world."

I recognised that sometime yesterday the fog really did start to clear from my mind leaving me so much lighter and brighter than I have felt for the last 2 weeks and though I cannot deny that the path which lies ahead is going to be an incredibly difficult map to navigate I also know that I can do it, I can be the captain of my own ship, I can sail through the storm, adjusting my sails as I go and one day I will emerge on the other side to a beautiful sunrise.

I guess for everyone in similar situations dealing with loss, one day you will feel the same, it's like clarity, I'm not sure if it always suddenly occurs and I hope that it's not one of those moments of clarity you sometimes get which is set on the path ahead to misguide you because it's not really clarity at all but a demon from your mind leading you down the wrong road.

So today I want to focus on the future, we cannot change the past, even if it was only a moment ago, all we can do is reassess, learn from it and move on, we cannot erase the past either but we must learn to look back without a judgement so clouded that all we see are those dark tumultuous storms which hung so heavy in the sky that they enrobed the sunshine hiding it from our view.

Today really is a brave new world, somewhat scary if I'm honest, I've lived so many years thinking I would be with the comfort of companionship for the rest of my days and now I must forge onwards not knowing what the future holds but if I search in my soul there is already at least one part which finds the future journey just a little bit exciting.

Maybe you can start your new beginning today...
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Here were are 2 weeks on dear reader, trying to get along with life and feeling quite frankly that nothing is really improving and more so in some respects things are getting worse, just like Neil Sedaka sang, Breaking up really is very hard to do.

It's so hard to try and remember that there are things which are beyond your control and things which are no longer your responsibility, it's really hard to shut your brain off and not worry when the person you've spent so many years with but who hurt you so badly over and over comes to you a shell of their former self and says they can't cope with their kids, their dog, themselves, I think in retrospect I should have just refused any help or conversation but that's not me and when you are worried for the sanity of someone you just have to do what you can do to make sure they're ok and that they're going to get proper medical and mental health help as soon as they possibly can.

Life is so complicated because I'm not just sharing it with someone who decided they didn't want to be here anymore, I'm also sharing it with that persons mistress, paranoia.

Paranoia is a horrible and terrible illness, I've seen her in action before, she strips away the rational and replaces it with some of the craziest things you can imagine, things which the ordinary person would reject as pure fantasy but for the person with paranoia in their heads it's so difficult to do anything but sympathise, empathise and try to help that person regain some kind of reasoned thinking.

My mental health in all of this has been remarkably stable, I think the fact that I've never tried to hide it away or pretend it doesn't exist and furthermore that I openly speak about it helps immensely but I do empathise with those who feel they can't admit it because they feel it would mean admitting that they too suffer from the same human conditions as the rest of us.

My plans for the immediate future have had to change and that's fine by me, for every minute I am not working I shall be there with my children, my dog, my cats, the people and creatures who cannot exist without some input from me, I shall embrace each and every one even if they fight against it, Abigail for instance told me she hated me about 6 or 7 times just in the space of an evening but I'm used to it, she always apologises and I know she's struggling so hard to understand the change and her own demons, it's difficult enough to deal with a simple straightforward life when you are 12 going on 13 (or what feels like 23 when it comes to Abigail who's been grown up since she was 2 in her opinion).  I know she loves me really and she's just struggling to come to terms with everything.

My life as I knew it is over and my life as it will be hasn't begun yet, everything is on hold, I am in limbo just waiting and reacting to every new situation which unfolds and evolves, it's hard but I remind myself that one day things will be fabulous again, I'll go out on my own with friends and have fun, I'll laugh with gay abandon and I won't have to worry about anyone but me (and maybe the kids and animals because you do that don't you, whether they're 6 or 66?).  Whilst I'd be a lot happier to forge onwards to a brave new future I'm not going to let the limbo get me down, I try to smile every day, I hug my children and my animals who make my heart smile at every opportunity.

Today, if you're hurting, you feel your life is on hold or you are living in limbo please take a moment to find something lovely to smile about, it doesn't matter how small it is but almost certainly by letting some sunshine into your soul you'll be ensuring the protection of your own mental health and if you can't find anything to smile about I'll give you this one, my dog, Social Media Petunia using Facebook of course!



Have a good day today!
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Being angry in an online world

Good morning dear reader, I hope you'll excuse me for writing this from under the warmth and comfort of my duvet, Looby has gone on a school trip and Abigail and Petunia are with their dad and it's a bit too chilly to get up yet so I've made coffee and come back to snuggle until it gets a lot lighter and warmer.

I wanted to write a really positive blog post today but I feel I can't hide the fact that yesterday made me feel so much sadder than all of the days which had gone before.  You see there I was on Twitter being cheered up by a friend when an online attack was launched at me on twitter, a foray of angry words from someone clearly hurting and needing help and reflection, I think sometimes we forget that we're living in an online world and words can be weapons from time to time, I think sometimes we may engage pen or stylus before brain follows through but I don't believe I have done anything which deserves what happened yesterday.  I asked him to stop, told him he was making the situation so much worse and he did thankfully but 1 panic attack later and a fall onto the bus scattering the change from my pockets all over the bus floor and I was left wondering just what more can I take without taking decisive action about the future.  My main goal since the beginning of this tragedy is that I wanted to remain friends not only for the health and well being of my children but also because I didn't want to have to try and erase 14 years of memories in my mind because they hurt too much.  I think when people are hurt, confused and devastated it can make them do strange things they would never have even considered, they make rash decisions without thinking about the consequences but whatever happens you must understand that there are ways of going about things and there are acceptable forms of behaviour and  unacceptable ones.

When you are hurting it's very hard to remain calm and dignified but you must for in many years from now you won't be able to erase the harsh words or thoughtless actions and then it may be too late to recover all of the friendship and happy times because they have been buried under a larger pile of unpleasant thoughts and words and deeds.

Be kind to yourself and others, treat yourself as you want to be treat, do good deeds, say lovely things and it will all come back to you so that you may live a peaceful life of happiness and one where you can forgive yourself and others, paranoia, ugly thoughts and anger will only lead to a long term life spent alone and bitter.

Two good things happened yesterday, firstly before I had a panic attack I managed to quite successfully stay at the desk in my office without having a meltdown and hiding under it, thanks to Helen, your coping strategy absolutely worked wonders so that's my tip for today on dealing with conversations on the return to life after a major life event, if someone asks how you are, just say fine and ask them how they are in return, completely deflecting the attention and creating a much more comfortable moment until you decide what to say at a later date.

My second good thing was that I got my half stone award on only my 3rd return visit to Slimming World, 8lb in 3 weeks which does go to prove somewhat that eating on trains and the Megabus isn't so good for your waistline and also I believe that when I lose some bulk when I look in the mirror I feel a little better about the face that stares back at me, one day I may even be brave enough to buy a full length mirror, not quite there yet and it's always a bit of a shocker when I go into changing rooms and see myself in full length mirrors, if I get to a size 12 I may take the chance and actually purchase one.

Today dear reader I want you to look into your mirror and see the face before you and give them a smile, they might have had a bad day but it's amazing what a smile from another person can do for your soul.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Inevitable Consequence of Co-Parenting

I slept an hour later this morning dear reader, Petunia went with her daddy yesterday and is staying at his house later and Abigail is going to go and stay with her dad tonight when she finished school, Looby is off to the Hawkhurst residential camp with school until Friday and the inevitable consequence is that I already miss my doggy and when my children aren't here they each take a piece of my heart with them.

Don't get me wrong, I love that we can co-parent our children, there's not a hint of acrimony which is great for the whole family but never at any point in my life did I wish to bring up our girls and our dog in 2 different houses.  It makes my heart ache and I'm sure when they're not with Paul he probably feels exactly the same.

I took Abigail to the doctors last night, after posting yesterday that she was doing so much better, when I went to wake her for school she just couldn't get out of bed, the doctor said she's understandably depressed and she's suffering from anxiety, she prescribed that she called an association called Streetwise and got herself some counselling, there's nothing which feels like you have failed as a parent to know that your daughter needs counselling, extra help which you couldn't provide, a need you couldn't meet, it makes me so very sad.

I'm going to a co-working event today, to say that I am dreading it is a complete understatement, I'm just not ready for a chit chat about how is business doing, how are things with my book etc, these are questions I can't even answer myself yet and I think that if I make it even to lunchtime then I am going to call it a success, the same goes for getting to 10am without hiding under my desk a gibbering wreck.

You may have noticed that this blog post isn't so overwhelmingly positive as past posts, I think I'm struggling a little at the moment, I think it's like that in those first few days and weeks of separation, some days you pull your socks up and feel you can conquer a small country and on other days your socks are wrinkled at your ankles and you feel you'll be defeated at any moment, there is no rhyme or reason for this other than the fact that loss is a very difficult thing to deal with in our human psyche, I know that it will get better with the passage of time, I just wish that I had a Tardis to transport myself 6 months into the future.

So today, I think I need to say that it's ok to be sad when you're dealing with loss or divorce or separation but that we all know from the experience of others that it does improve, it will get better and in so very many cases the people in question emerge like a phoenix from the flames in a much better state than they had been for a very long time.  It's a huge effort after all to save something which is essentially dying, I expended massive amounts of energy just walking on egg shells and not wanting to rock the boat because I knew that the next cross words would end up where I was left on my own, I tried to avoid all arguments and planned that if we could just get from summer to spring without any tension we would have survived another year, you can't stop a fast moving train on a crash course though can you?
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 10 - Getting back to work

Day 10 and I'd set myself a goal that I would return to work proper this week, I've still been fulfilling some of my commitments but a lot of the admin stuff and the things I really need to think about are sitting there still undone because my mind is such a jumble dear reader.

Day 10 and I have more questions than answers, the biggest of which is the one I need help with, how can two people who still love each other very much be unable to be together?   It's the thing that makes no sense and yet it's fact.  Around this time last year or maybe a little more into October we found ourselves in exactly the same position and so we went to Relate to try and get some external help and guidance, we pretty much attended every week until the middle of April and I think most weeks we just argued without any resolution or I would simply give in and try to carry on regardless no matter how much I disagreed, I just wanted to be ok, to carry on regardless, to shut out the negativity and carry on with the positivity.  In the end I'm not sure if our counsellor had just had enough of us but when I think about it now I still don't know if we actually managed to resolve anything or if it just pointed out even more of our differences than ever before.

I do wonder if there's someone out there who could help us fix things and believe me when I say that I have trawled the internet looking for that person and all I have been left with are a myriad of even more questions.  I think though I would have to approach it as I am now, while I'm a bendable person ready to adapt I am not prepared to change the core values which I have inside of me today, I've tried that and it just doesn't work, I almost wish some times that I was still the person Paul met 14 years ago but I was so different then, maybe it is my fault somewhat because I literally couldn't be more different, I wonder if the friends who've known me throughout that time feel the same because it must be like spending time with a new person, it's the biggest unanswered question out there.

I think the way things currently are we are getting by quite well, our children seem happier and we seem to have recovered our friendship at least partially, yesterday Abigail and I had some wonderful time off from the world, from thinking and being and doing anything other than enjoying the company of each other and Petunia, my favourite moment of yesterday was when Abigail bought Petunia a matching poncho.


I want to say a big thank you to everyone who left me a list of their 5 things which make them happy, I posted mine yesterday in the comments too but here they are again in case you missed them.

1. My beautiful children and the joy they bring me every day
2. Being able to express my thoughts and feelings through this blog
3. I have a huge support network of wonderful friends
4. My job, I love what I do 
5. Hope, I'm hopeful that one day everything will be ok once more


I'm sure that list will change and in fact it's good that it does change, just remember if you wrote it, it's always there to look at and remind you of things that make you happy even on the darkest days.

Today I want to say that work can wait, work for me has always been part of the centre of my universe, part of the stuff which makes me exist, at least for the last 8 or so years since I started my own business, although I don't have what I would call an addictive personality I certainly swapped the highs of partying for the highs that running a successful business can provide. I'm lucky that I love most aspects of what I do so I've not had to cancel any of the photo shoots I had planned and my diary is full until November but admin work can wait, in truth if you are going through the same thing or similar, work will exist long after you don't, we all feel ready to face things at a different pace and no matter what any one tells you or what others expectations are of you the very fact is that if you aren't healthy and focused you're just going to make a mess of any work that you attempt which may in the end put you in an even worse position.

I am going to go into my office tomorrow for the first time since early June and I am going to attempt some admin stuff but I am not going to beat myself up about the things I can't yet face, most people and clients will understand and if they don't understand then they weren't worth worrying about in the first place.

Whatever you're attempting this week remember that your health (mental and physical) is a billion times more important than the work that you do, don't put too much pressure on yourself to try and get back to normal straightaway, that's how people end up having breakdowns a couple of months in, I'd rather take a few weeks off and know that when I return to work I will catch up and forge onwards without more hiccups, I'll simply do it when I am ready







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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unexpected moments of loneliness

For many years dear reader Saturday nights have seemed to offer the same routine, a house full of family, usually just the girls, Iain, Paul and I but I loved it, we didn't do anything special, sometimes we weren't even in the same room as each other but there's a comfort in knowing you're all together in the same place on a Saturday evening.

Don't get me wrong, Last night Iain and Abigail were here and I love my children very much but it's not quite the same as having the person there who you feel you've spent your entire life with, the one who knows the little inside jokes you've built up over so many years, the one who even when they irritate and annoy can still make you laugh.

I know I'll get used to this strange new routine, I have made plans with friends for lots of the alternate weekends when I'll be completely on my own and there's a definite solace in great friendships.  I also think that it's easy to fall into a yearning in those first few days and weeks on your own, your mind can play tricks and I simply have to remind myself that everything happens for a reason and that it's taken me 40 years of my life to finally learn that love is not enough, 2 disparate people with completely different core values cannot conquer everything just because they love each other, unfortunately I don't think love does conquer all, if it did I wouldn't be in this situation.

I think it's going to take a while to get my groove back and get used to not being able to randomly tell someone my inner thoughts or offer a mind dump at any given moment by text message.

Yesterday I bought a new book called 102 Free Things To Do: Inspiring Ideas for a Better Life it's my latest dose of positivity and it contains some truly wonderful suggestions about little ways to make life fuller, better and more fulfilling all for free, if you're at a poignant crossroads in your life or even if you simply want to add a little value which doesn't cost anything why not give it a read, you might just find something you can use to make your life even better.

Today, I'm going to write a list, you can join in too dear reader, just pop that list on paper or in the notes section of your phone or your laptop or anything really and now think about 5 things which you love about your life right now, even if you are having a truly awful time reach inside and find just 5 small things which can still make you smile and then at the dark corners of the day you can remind yourself that no matter how turbulent life's journey becomes you will always have something you can focus on to change your thinking back into a more positive state.  I've always believed in my heart that what you give out comes back so negativity isn't going to breed anything other than negativity but with a smile in your heart, well you just never know what lies ahead just around the corner.
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mental health and me...

My life over the last week or so has been anything but normal, not that normal is a state that suits me dear reader but all routine seems to have gone out of the window and been replaced by a new routine I'm having trouble adjusting to.  I feel tired all of the time because I'm not sleeping well and in those moments when I do sleep well I have a husky who doesn't seem to sleep well either.  Sometimes Looby is sleeping next to me, usually shaped like a starfish and snoring, other times she's off being a social butterfly and the space in my bed feels a little chilly and I have too much room.  I'm sure I'll get used to this, more than that I think I'll learn to embrace it, it's those little things though isn't it? Things which were part of the normal routine of the house which aren't anymore but at the same time it's strange how quickly new routines have been formulated.  Blogging for instance, I have a routine of blogging in the morning before the rest of the house is awake, it's when I think better, write better...

I seem to have a clearer head at 7am in the morning than I do at any other time of the day, by afternoon my thought processes are jumbled with the events of the day, there seems to be a new event every day which I can't yet make sense of, things which were said are turned on their heads so that my whole situation becomes unfathomable.

I've had a lot of messages of support from people who care or messages from people who tell me that I'm helping them as they go through the same or even slightly different life events of their own and it's heartwarming to know that.  My decision to be public was not brought with any malice and I really stay away from going into minute detail which I don't feel would be helpful to talk about, in truth though I've always lived my life on line, well for the past 10 years, if it hadn't of been for on line friendships, many which still exist today, I would not have gotten through the years of agoraphobia which blanketed my life several years ago.

Mental health is a strange and funny mistress, when you recover from a challenge you build up a myriad of coping strategies so that you never end up in the same place again, for me that means medication daily, writing as a therapeutic tool and friendships on and offline which feed the very essence of my soul and reassure me that if I got to the point of being overwhelmed by mental health those friends would notice and tell me that maybe I should see someone.  Luckily that hasn't happened and I don't think it will, I feel a great strength and determination with my relationship with bi-polar and with medication at the base of the treatment that I've had for as long as Looby has been on the planet I know that it's unlikely that I would ever be as seriously ill as I was 10/11/12 years ago.

Today I want to say that even though as a society we're only really starting to accept mental health challenges as real and proper illnesses and we still don't talk about them enough, don't feel you ever have to suffer in silence, even speaking to a friend who might help, advise or even hold your hand when you go to see the doctor, there's just no shame in seeking that extra hand of help at difficult vistas in your life,  for some it means daily medication for the rest of their lives whilst for others they just need a little lift while life gets back on track.

Be kind to yourself dear readers and have a lovely weekend.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

In the wee small hours of the morning...

I woke up singing this today, ironically it was 5.30am dear reader!  I've always alternated between someone who could sleep for Britain and the ultimate insomniac.  I suppose that it's to be expected that the insomnia would creep up and get me at this juncture of my life.

I have some rules for life which I try to live by every day - 


  1. Be as lovely as you can be every day
  2. Be as positive as you can be every day
  3. Do good deeds whenever possible 
and yesterday I decided to add number 4 to that list - Just try to do at least one thing every day to make my house lovelier.


I think it's good to set yourself targets to live by, obviously there are days which are tougher than the others but I guess that's all part of the challenges of life.

There is one good thing about the early mornings and the late nights, I write so well at the moment, I find that I get all of those jumbled thoughts out of my mind every morning and it leaves me ready to start the day with a clear head.

I've spoken this week about healing at the passage of time, although I haven't had a time where I have wept inconsolably there are definitely times when the tears come and sometimes by surprise.  I was talking to Paul yesterday about the future and those tears tumbled down my cheeks, salty tears of emotions collected over the years which at times were held back for fear that if I started to cry I may never have stopped.  We had some really difficult times but then we had the best of times too, and sometimes they were intertwined. 

I'm happy that I think we've achieved a strange kind of friendship again, especially at this early juncture but I think that's the thing which will ensure that our children come through this as unscathed as possible.  One thing I hadn't mentioned is that I now share my bedroom with Looby, where Abigail needs space, Looby needs her mum and so I now have in my bedroom, a Petunia, a Looby, 22 My Little Ponies, an original Cabbage Patch doll called Rupert Matlock Smythe and a very curious and slightly sinister china Welsh doll, I haven't asked what her name is!


My message today is that it's ok to cry and have emotions as long as they don't overwhelm all that you are, it's only when we get those emotions out there that we can really begin to heal.

I'm going to go into the office on Monday, I have to work, I can't stay home forever, I need to support myself and my children and that's not going to happen if I hide away in the corner of my room forever.  I'm lucky really that business is so successful that I'm full at weekends until the end of October!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, be kind to yourself and others and maybe do just one thing to make the surroundings in which you live just that little bit lovelier.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Healing, forgiving yourself and the passage of time

It's been 7 days since life changed forever dear reader, I'm not going to get all Sinead o Connor about it so please don't worry but as I awoke this morning in my brave new world I had the realisation that life will keep speeding by with the same swift pace it always has whether I embrace it or not.  It's only a few weeks ago when I was musing with my daughter Looby at just how quickly the year had passed and in just a few weeks Christmas will once again be the big countdown event that we're all looking forward to.

I have an app called Timehop on my phone, over the last few days it's made me quite sad to see photos from this time last year when we were embracing all things Canarian on our big family holiday to Puerto Rico and having such wonderful fun, I even thought I might just uninstall it for a while because happy memories of 2/3/4 years ago were making my heart ache just a little but then again it's good to remind ourselves that for 10 years out of the 14 year marriage we were amazing, we were like 2 peas in a very odd pod.  It's only when you look at it like that you realise just how easy it is to be bitter or twisted when you split up with someone, I see it all the time, people are hurting so badly that they focus on all of the bad things which hurt them so they can get over the love that in those first few days/weeks/months they're still feeling.  I have a ton of love still in my heart, you can't actually erase 14 years just like that but I don't want to be someone who cringes at every memory I have in my head and even in 5 years time some of my best memories are going to be ones I had with Paul, we have our girls who've given us beautiful wonderful times, the best times and I don't want that to be marred by negative thoughts.

To be honest I'm not even sure if I think there's a need to deeply analyse what went wrong, 1. I'm pretty sure I already know and 2.  What would be the point when it's not going to change anything?  I'm all for analysis and putting things right but this particular thing isn't fixable as a unit.

Last year Paul and I went to Relate for 6 months and somewhat I think it made a deeper wedge between us because for the first time in 14 years we just sat down and set out our stall, laid out our issues and what we discovered was that neither of us particularly wanted to change some of them because they were the building blocks which made us.  I had been trying to change for years whilst he had a refusal to change his core values, it's fine though, I guess it just highlighted our fundamental differences.

So today I want you to forgive yourself for being the person you are because you only ever have to be true to yourself, your inner core values have been with you for years and you don't have to change those for anyone, yes it's OK to try and grow and be a fuller better person, we should all strive to be doing that on a daily basis, that's how we evolve to live happier,  better and more fulfilling lives but those things which are inwardly there at the base of your very psyche, well they're yours, your fundamental building blocks and you never have to apologise to anyone for being the person that you are today.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Divorce is a 7 letter word

Tammy Wynette dear reader, she sang about it didn't she?  "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" although she also sang about standing by her man, bit of a mixed message there then ;)

Yesterday I agreed to let Paul divorce me on grounds of irreconcilable differences, lets just take a moment to think about that, we had issues so deep that we simply couldn't meet in the middle or make compromises so that we could stay together.  I think that might be true somewhat but then I would have kept trying.  It seems strange to me that I couldn't sort out a problem with the person I called my soul-mate and my best friend.  Of course it's just language solicitors use so that you can get a divorce when your relationship fails but it's no ones fault.  I don't really agree with that either as I think I tried to love as much as I could love every single day of our entire relationship. I don't fully understand the need for the expediency of the process although I do understand we need time to heal and recognise the need to move on, we seem to have been able to retain some kind of friendship even at this early stage and that makes me feel happy because we need to be a strong unit together or apart for our children.

Our girls have been dealing with things in their own way, Looby is remarkably unscathed but then she's happy and hopeful, that's how she lives, the message I've given her every day since I took a vow of positivity in 2008 worked, you can't find anyone more positive than Looby.  I do though wish I could say the same for Abigail though as she's really struggling, my poor daughter is depressed and because she deals with emotions inwardly and feels she can't express them and doesn't trust anyone enough to share them (and because she's 12 and full of destructive hormones) she's really very angry and the mood swings are gargantuan.  I've told her though that if she needs to be angry then she can shout and scream at me and tell me she hates me and that it's all my fault and I'll take it and I won't stop loving her even for a second.  She's still resisting going to the doctors and she's been told that if she doesn't go to school today then we're going to get in trouble so I feel like I can't protect her from this world in the way that I'd like, how can you send your child to school when she feels like she's covered in a pile of bricks, that she doesn't have the strength to get out of bed, that she wants to curl into a ball under the covers and never come out?  I so wish I was in the place that I feel I am now, 10 years ago, I would have home educated and I would have known so many others doing the same thing.  I didn't then of course and I was struggling with my own mental health at the time.

I don't know what lies ahead for my daughters, my son and I but all I can do is tell them I love them 10 times, 20 times, 50 times a day if they need it, if you have children tell them you love them, that they're the best little people (or big people) in the whole world, tell them every day how valued they are, lift them up and embrace them so that they feel whole and unbroken and ready to be able to face anything, if you do that and there are hard times you will have given them the tools they need to cope with the tricky waters they're going to to sail through.
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