Tuesday, 11 October 2011

House move continued.......

We eventually exchanged on our house sale - good times.  Only thing to do now is exchange on the purchase.  Due to the lack of finding a house we had to exchange on the sale so as not to lose a buyer.  When we had decided to do that, we found a house.  There is some saying or other that goes with that I am sure.

I am trying my hardest to get the two to tally near enough together, searches went in and came back quickly; enquiries nearly all back but then the bank started changing their mind on the amount they would lend.  Once they decided that 'maybe' they would still lend the same, our survey threw up asbestos. Oh joy!  Having an asbestos survey done this week to figure out the damage then we can barter some money off to cover it or if we can do it ourself, we can just go ahead.  Only thing I am worried about now is getting the mortgage offer.  It did not come in today's post but hopefully it will be tomorrow.  I hate the waiting because until it comes, I have no idea what they will lend us!

Moving is stressful but at the same time, very enjoyable.  I cannot wait to start renovations on the new place.  Did I not mention that bit?  The place is a bit of a mess so needs a complete over haul.  This part is very exciting.  Any ideas on getting cheap bathrooms, kitchens, paint, door frames or stairs, please let me know!  Or if you run a company and want some free publicity in return for giving us something, email me and we can try and sort something out.

Schools Ofsted, does it really work?

My eldest came home from school last night with an Ofsted letter.  Her school is going to be reviewed this week and they want the comments from the parents.  She has only been at secondary school for a matter of weeks and has herself already noticed how the teachers have changed in lieu of the inspectors coming.  The French teacher has suspended tests this week so that the inspectors do not witness them and apparently other teachers have been 'prepping' the children on the lessons that may or may be not witnessed.  Before I could make a comment she said 'Does that not defeat the object though Mum?  If we are all changing that its not really what the school is like'.  How are you meant to reply to that?  I totally agree with her but found myself trying to think of reasons to back the school so she did not pick up on any form of conflict.

Ofsted's are meant to be a way of inspecting schools and are a great thing and should not be stopped.  Schools should not feel the need to change ways to suit the inspectors though.  A test in a French class sounds like a great way to show how well year 7's are getting on learning a new language.  Maybe Ofsted should be more of a surprise?  Could they not just show up one day and inspect? The notice period gives the school time to change and adapt when they could be just as good staying as they are.  My daughter is happy at the school and the results are good too.  There are a few issues that have been noted but that could be part and parcel of secondary school.  Time will tell.

We have the paper work to write notes on to the inspectors.  What to write??..... One of her teachers apparently calls all the pupils 'darling' or 'sweetie' because, and in the teachers words 'I cannot be expected to remember all your names'  Not good in my book but my daughter likes her.  My point is, if the teacher is getting good results and the children enjoy being in their class, should we not allow some things to slide?  We trust them to teach and we should allow them to do so.  On the other hand, if they saw no issues, then they would not be 'prepping' the children now would they?

I withhold full judgement until the report is released.

Congnitive Behavioural Therapy

The therapy has now come to an end after 12 sessions.  I felt there were more things I still needed to do before I finished but only I can make a difference now and forever.  I learnt many things during my time with the therapist.  Mainly that I am in control and I can deal with something when it happens.  My main and biggest issue was always avoiding situations - social or otherwise - and creating a 'safe bubble' around me and my life which that meant I could continually 'avoid' situations that I did not want to address.  I know that there is still so much more I need to do but the point is I am just going to keep going, keep challenging and keep moving forward.

The graded exposure that I wrote about in previous posts, is a great way to de-sensitise yourself to your big worries.  One of mine were travelling on public transport.  With the therapist, we wrote a step by step list which allowed me to slowly be exposed to the trains and buses, starting the journeys short and gradually growing through to extending the journey and adding in stops until I can finally go into London.  I have not got to London yet but did get to Battersea for a Wedding Fair last week and for me that was a big deal.

If you suffer from panic attacks please remember these quick points:
  • The fear feeling will pass
  • If it returns, fight it off
  • Ignore the 'run away' mentality that your brain will try and impose.  In the long run, it is not the best solution
  • People around you will not think any less of you if you have a panic attack
  • Be more compassionate to yourself
  • Give yourself time and know that you are not alone

Thousands of people all over the world suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.  Many will not tell people and suffer alone like I did when it all started 12 years ago.  I can talk a little about it now but it is still hard yet at the same time, it is good to talk.  If the person you are sharing the problem with is close, they will listen, not judge and support you.

You are not alone.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Always double check receipt before leaving a service station....

After a nice weekend in Dorset, we were driving home last night and needed to fill up with petrol.  We stopped at the Rownhams Services, Northbound, where we went into the Esso garage.  My husband filled up the car and I went to get snacks and pay for it all.  The cashier was nice enough but did make a few mistakes.  At first he forgot to put the petrol on the bill and had to cancel just as I was typing in my pin and he charged wrong amounts for sweets.  Anyway, when the total came up on screen, I thought 'looks odd?  hubby must have put in a tad more petrol than I thought'.  Finished paying and went to the car.

As we drove off, I question hubby and he said he hadn't spent that much on petrol.  I found the receipt and realised the cashier had charged us for the wrong pump!  You can't turn around on a motorway, not that easy!  So I tried calling people - Esso, Exxon and the service station in question.  No-one was answering so I sent off some emails - yes, all while Mr was driving.  My main concern was I did not want us to be charged with taking petrol without paying as the system would see our pump as 'not paid'.  Plus, I had paid over what we had actually filled up with so I wanted the difference back!

Today has not been fruitful, Esso not replying to emails, Exxon say they only supply fuel so to speak direct to the actual garage.  I called the service station and they gave me the direct number of the Esso garage.  When I called them, I was informed that there was no manager or supervisor in today! I asked who was in charge today and he said 'I am not sure, if we have a major problem we can call the Duty Manager but I am not sure where they are based' What kind of business does not have anyone in charge on site at all times? I was then told I should call back tomorrow!!  So, they mess up and I have to be the one to call back?  I gave him the details and my number pointing out the supervisor is welcome to call me first so we shall see.  I know she is in at 8.30 am, let's see whom calls whom first........

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pre-school and Secondary school!

My youngest has now started pre-school and the eldest has begun her journey at secondary school.  It seems I do not react to these things like other mothers.  When you tell people they are starting or when you take them for the first time, people always question you to see if you cried but I didn't with either.  In fact I didn't cry when the eldest started primary school.  I have always thought this harsh of me but now I see why. 

When I use to leave them at nursery and they cried, that upset me and I would have to leave quickly so that they would not see me cry.  That is because they did not necessarily need to go to nursery that was my choice and in a way I suppose it made me feel worse when I saw their tears.  Those tears always turned to smiles after a few weeks and so I knew it was actually good for them to be there.

School, on the other hand, is different.  It is compulsory and we have no choice so I have not felt the same emotions.  I see them taking their next steps in life and I feel happy for them - nervous yes but nevertheless, happy.  These are the building blocks of their future and if I get 'flappy' and teary, they will too.  I want them to enjoy their time at these places, learn new skills socially and educationally and ultimately to grow up well rounded and happy.  Some people cannot help it and they shed a tear which is fine and their way to express the emotion on such a big day but for me, it doesn't seem to happen.  Am I the only one???......

Chicago!!!!!!!!

Our big family adventure this summer was to visit Chicago, USA.  My brother and his wife have lived there 6 years and we were yet to visit plus it was his 30th birthday!  I say surprise, but he did have an inkling we were going from his own brain working overtime!

We flew with British Airways and the staff were great.  Anything you asked for they helped.  They were always smiling and seemed to enjoy their work.  On the way back, they were not as relaxed but we were flying at night time - they were still just as attentive and to be honest, I could not really fault them.

Chicago as a city is wonderful.  The people are lovely and everywhere is so clean.  I have a problem with public transport but I knew I had to use it to get around in Chicago. I started on the second day and we took the bus a short distance to the beach.  Now, because my nerves were playing up, I kept trying to get out of the journey.  So we stopped for ice-cream and we were walking up the road in the direction the bus would go.  The girls started asking when we were getting on a bus to the beach and I had a reality check; 'what was I doing? This is ridiculous just get on the bus woman!' So we did.  Yes it was a nerve racking but not as bad as I thought it would be.  From that day onwards, we used buses and or trains practically everyday.  By the end of the holiday it had become second nature and even though the nerves tried to creep in, I occupied my brain.  The cost of transport is crazy cheap too - you can buy a weekly pass for $23 dollars which gives you unlimited use of trains and buses.  In the UK that would cost so much more and the Americans systems seemed to work smoother and were more reliable; how does that figure??!

Putting that aside the trip was amazing.  We visited museums, fountains, parks, beaches, movie in the park and even went to a baseball match.  I have never watched baseball so my sister in law was explaining it all.  The time flew by with all the entertainment.  I loved the intro's for each batman - music and video snippets of them playing - can you imagine having that in the UK during football?  Nope, neither can I!
We went up the Willis Tower, previously known as the Sears Tower.  You are taken to the 103rd floor and can look out over the city.  The views were breath taking.  They have also now built these glass ledges that suspend out the side of the building so all you see around you is air.  It was scary but we did it and my eldest even lay down on it!!

It was a brilliant trip and one that we hope to repeat in the not too distant future.  If you ever get the chance, take it and visit Chicago.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Crazy daughter!

I am not sure if it is her age or is I have just been too soft but my 3 year old is basically going crazy!  She is so stubborn, she makes me look good.  She seems to have more energy than any child I know.  If she is kept indoors for more than a few hours, then she builds up energy and spends her time running, climbing, screaming and making a general mess.

I realised a while back that I cannot get anything completed while she is up.  I try ironing and she thinks the board is either a slide or a house. I try to tidy and she removes everything as I put it away.  She makes me laugh a lot as she has crazy faces that make you chuckle.  She is currently running around the dining room table while listening to music - her idea of dancing apparently!

The tantrums are the worst though.  We have a 'naughty step' which after a year, still takes a minimum of half an hour for her to stay on! We have had to deal with her hitting as she can actually hurt her sister especially when she throws toys at her......  We have all her confiscated toys on tops of cupboards and the fridge so she can see what she has lost.  My older daughter was never as naughty and cheeky as Junior.  Maybe it is me and I am doing something differently with the younger one.  Whatever it is, it needs to change.

I think time has called for a new action plan.  She is nearly 4 (in December) so I think she would benefit from an actual chart, one she can see, to curb the behaviour.  I have to stamp it out now or it will just get worse!  Any ideas greatly received.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Session 5 & 6

I have not been keeping up with the blogging of the therapy mainly as there was a lapse in my therapy due to holidays etc plus the sessions are getting quite personal now.  I am condensing the sessions so as not to bore you with all the details but so you still get the gist of what is happening.

Session 5 and 6 have been about building me up as a person.  Not in a vain sort of way but tackling the inner bully that keeps telling me I am useless and stupid and totally in capable of doing anything.  My therapist wants me to keep writing up the thought records I blogged about before and now I know why.  She looks through what I have written and challenges my reactions to situations.  My fear comes in many forms so let me outline one, I had a panic attack on the way to my sister in law's birthday party.  An event like this is not something that would bother most people, but for me it does.  I did manage to get there and we stayed a few hours, even though I felt terrible with nausea, cramps and internal shaking.  Where I should have felt proud of myself, I had this underlying annoyance with  myself.  I was angry that the attack had started, could not understand why it had and more importantly I felt stupid.

Here lies my problem.  I never seem to 'cut myself any slack' or have any compassion for me and my feelings.  I see them as wrong or stupid which underpin my whole feelings towards myself.  On the outside I like to be strong and 'normal' but inside I am not........

How to tackle that voice though?  That is the big thing now.  The therapist told me I need to start being positive with myself and actually understanding what I am saying and the sub-concious effects it is having!  Good luck me!!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Been away too long!

I have not blogged for  long time and I will be off on holiday soon!  So I am going to try and put up a few new blogs to make up for my time away.  I need to write up what has been happening especially with my therapy and end of school for both my girls! Watch this space for a few blogs at once!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Anxiety and panic attack

I have been trying to do more things.  Last week I travelled on a train for 2 journeys and although they were short, I felt a sense of achievement when I had finished.

The weekend's events were to be different.  My husband and I were due to go out to a bar for his sister's birthday.  I had little or no anxiety before hand but as the time grew closer, my stomach started to churn.  I thought I could handle it and continued to get ready.  The journey to the bar was horrible.  I needed to loo the whole time and I thought I was going to be sick.  I spent the journey trying to breathe slowly and get the thoughts of worry out of my head.  The problem is, I cannot pinpoint what I was actually worrying about.  It sounds mad but my body was worried and I do not know why.  I ran to the loo when we got there and took Immodium which did help settle me for the rest of the evening.  We stayed about 3 hours which is 2 hours longer than I thought I would!  I feel like I have taken a step backwards.  That panic attack really threw me, I did not have the normal build up it just appeared - like a bus.  I could not control it and all I wanted to do was run home.  I am pleased I didn't go home and that I stuck it out.  Even if for the whole time I was there I was soooooo nervous, it did feel like I was trying.

I thought it was all getting better but I was wrong.  Or maybe I am not ready for bars yet.  I don't know what it was but it was horrible and I did not enjoy myself.  I need to see a light because today I am just feeling very down and drained and it was 2 days ago!  I know what I will be talking to the therapist about this week though.......

Monday, 27 June 2011

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Session 4

It has been a few weeks since the last session.  The therapist had half term off, then was sick for 2 weeks in a row!  Poor thing. I did feel for her but she was better this week and so session 4 could start.

We went through my thought logs that I had been writing up as I attended events that bought on anxiety or panic. She was happy that I had been doing them and I felt they have helped.  When you see it written down, you can see what your sub conscious is doing.  It is from reading them back and the thoughts that occurred, I was able to challenge some of them. This is a good place for anyone to start I think, write down the thoughts you have just before and during a panic attack.  You do not have to do it at the time of one, but you can always recall the information.  Look at the thoughts and rationalise them.  Over time you will break into the sub conscious because you are re-addressing the thoughts and processes.

Therapist also decided to help me get back on public transport.  She wrote a 10 step plan, starting with getting on a train and going one stop.  Once I am totally comfortable with that step, I can then move up.  Now I have a feeling this could get expensive especially as she said I need to be doing it 3 times a week, but I think I am going to have to find the money as I really need to crack this one.  My eldest is desperate to go to the Science Museum and I want to be the one that takes her.  I have not started the steps yet, mainly because I have been hiding and finding excuses but I will get there even if I make my husband drop me off and drive off.  It has to be done.



Search Amazon.com for cbt

Strikes

I think I am one of the few people that disagree with teachers striking.  It is nothing to do with what they want in any way, it is just I do not think they or anyone else should strike.  Policeman are not allowed to strike so why are teachers?

The teachers arguments are based on many issues they have but a 3% increase in pension contributions and working until they are older are the main ones that have been banded around the media but I do not think they are a bad thing.  Everyone else has to do it so why do they think they are any different? Some schools are having to close some classes and not others which is wrong.  Why are the children missing out so they teachers can strike?  I thought teaching was a vocation, something they want to do so there must be another way besides striking.

What does seem to surprise me is the heads of the unions, all on whopping salaries.  Christine Blower, head of the NUT, just received a 10% pay increase.  That does not seem fair does it?

Striking in general, I think is negative press for anyone.  It did work for the cabin crew at British Airways but that is one of the few times it has worked.    Striking does not really make a big difference to the management it just annoys paying customers, the same customers that spend with a company so that all those people have a job in the first place.  That sounds very abrupt but it is true.  I do believe that the top management should not have such huge pay packets and the amounts should trickle down to the staff because what the management continually forget to realise is it is those staff that keep the business ticking over and the Chief Executive in annual bonuses.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

10 years of marriage

Mr and I, will have been married 10 years this Thursday.  This is filled with happiness and sadness.  The last 10 years have been eventful to say the least but I would not change any of it.  It has all made us who we are today and for that I am grateful.

The sadness comes from looking at pictures from the wedding and realising who is not still with us.  There are 3 people we have lost since our wedding.  My Nan - she was quite ill in the end and passed away in August 2007.  I really miss her but I also know if she were to think we were being sad about her passing, she would probably 'tut' and roll her eyes! So I will try not to shed a tear when I leave her flowers on her birthday which happens to be the same date as our wedding anniversary.  Another was a man called Jim who was a close friend of my parents.  His passing was tragic in the sense that it was totally out of the blue. He was not ill but collapsed and died.  That is something that must have been so hard for his wife and children.

Finally and probably the most painful was a friend of ours called Phil.  His passing was not 'normal' in the sense that it was not something he had any control of.  He was knocked from his motorbike in June 2007.  It wasn't his fault and no-one has ever really been held accountable as the driver drove off.  That is what makes it worse, no closure.  His family were left with a hole where he should be. 

The happiness comes from the fact that over the last 10 years we have raised 2 children and moved up within careers - even if mine is a little stagnated at the moment.  We have some good friends and wonderful family.  I want to live our next 10 years to the fullest.  Memories are what makes your life your own, so create them with loved ones for all to cherish.

Happy Anniversary Mr!!!!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Wash out car boot sale

I enjoy the weekends as it gives us as a family time together.  Not something we get during the week - well not with Mr as he is never home much before my girls bedtimes.  This weekend I decided to do a car boot sale.  I was up early, had breakfast and made a flask of tea.  After packing the car up the night before, it meant I got to the sale on time to set up.  On arriving, I could see no other cars; I thought maybe you drove around to another spot for it.  Then a lady in a fluorescent yellow jacket came and spoke to me.
"I am so embarresed.  No-one else has turned up.  You guys are the only sellers here.  Buyers have turned up and are waiting so it is up to you if you want to come in."
A difficult one I thought, if I go in, I still have to pay the £10 entrance fee but at the same time we would have the monopoly on the buyers.  I decided to carry on - I had not got up at 6.45am on a Saturday morning for nothing!

My sister had come along in her car, so we parked up next to each other and started to unload the cars.  As we were trying to set up, people were rummaging through our goods and trying to buy things.  I never did manage to get everything out.  I thought this was a good sign.  How wrong was I?!
After that initial hustle, it was quiet.  There were a few stragglers but that was it.  I made £35 minus the entrance fee, that was not a great morning.  The worst part was putting it all back in the loft.

I do not think I will go back to that particular car boot sale but I am not finished with car boots.  I know that there are a couple of bigger ones in Sutton, so I will find out dates and get the car packed again. I have so many girls clothes, I could start a shop and I cannot take it all when we move it is just madness.  Onward and upwards with car boots. 

New review site!

I have decided to start writing reviews. Exciting stuff for me as I think and hope it will help me get better at my writing.  I am hoping to review anything new that comes my way.  So if you have a book, a website, a new product, in fact, anything you want reviewed just contact me and I will happily do that for you.  My new review blog is called 'Reviews from Michs Space!'  so check it out and follow it.  You never know when I will review something of interest to you.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Oh my!

I have been trying to get going on a couple of things today and just cannot get my head in the right place. I have done everything on my list but it feels like there is so much more to do.  I thought I would take a break and work on my new site Children Will Travel - a site for parents with disabled children to get hints and tips about where to go out and about - but I tried and cannot make it work!  How come when I am doing a clients work, that comes fine but when I am trying my own ventures, I get a block!

Think I need to stop for a bit.......

CV, CV, CV.....

I have been freelancing for a while now and even though I love what I do, sometimes it is not enough.  I do not always find the time to generate more business while working on a couple of projects at once, so I get a lull in work - not good.

Best thing I could do, I thought, is to refresh my CV and try and get some regular part time, home based Marketing/PR work.  I found my CV buried in my Word documents, it had not been aired for about a year! I started to read through it to work out what to add and delete so as to show me in the best light.  I have always thought I have not done much with my career.  I had a daughter before starting a career then changed industries before settling in marketing.  I then had another baby and could not afford to go back to the role I loved due to childcare costs.  My employer tried to help and offered a pay increase but it still did not help and to be fair, it was an educational establishment so there is not always tons of money flying around. Daughter number 2 is now at nursery so I have more time to work, hence dusting off the CV.

I read through it and I have a lot of marketing experience!  I was quite surprised as I reminded myself of everything I had done.  There was me thinking I had not done much and been wasting previous years, but I was mistaken.  I have kept it up to date annually and that really helps you to make sure nothing is missed out.  A few years down the line from a previous role, you forget all the tasks you took on so it is important to keep on top of your own CV.  The morale of the story is, do not always assume you are a failure.  Read through your CV and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you have achieved!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Charities and door to door knocking

I support charities in any way that I can but you cannot support them all.  Individuals usually choose them based on personal experiences and this is great because you will probably go that extra mile as you have a vested interest.

What really gets me going is the charities that knock on my door.  Our road is quite a straight and long one so it is easy pickings for people and we get all sorts knocking.  I try not to open the door but when it is a charity I feel obliged....... A certain charity knocked last night (no names as they do do a good job!) and the representative assured me he was not selling anything then started telling me all about the charity and the great work they do. His closing line was 'We only need £3 a week and I know you think we do a great job so you will happily contribute.'  I stood there a few moments and replies simply with a 'No I can't'.  He looked shocked and did try and question me but I did not feel I needed to justify myself to him.

My problem is with his sales patter and yes it is a sales patter hence why I think it wrong of them to say they are not selling anything.  He wanted me to pay them money to fund various things they do.  So I would be paying towards helping so in affect he was selling me something.  If I am paying for something, he is selling it.

I had another lady come from an animal charity - not one I had heard of - and tried to show my children horrific pictures of injured pets so that I would pay £10 a month to help them.  I didn't and my children were in a terrible mood all evening.  That is so wrong to show children those pictures, I would not want anyone to see them let alone my girls.  Once she started shoving the images in their faces, I stood in front of them and sent them away.

Charities do not get enough funds as it is and so many do a great job.  I would never want to knock the great work that any of them do.  I do object to using my children as some sort of 'pull' to get me to pay up and I also object to being made to feel guilty if I do not pay up.  Charities are a personal choice and one that we can all pick and choose ourselves.  I cannot afford to do them all!!

Novel writing

I started to write 2 novels a few years back and then got caught up with life and work and never got them finished.  I really want to get on with them now and will be finding the time to do it.  What to do with them after though??.......

When it comes to getting an agent, I have no idea where to start and am worried about getting a bad one and being taken for a ride! Any ideas?

The books are different in the respect that one is about my time at university - which I have had to cut down because I do not think anyone would believe half the crazyness that went on! The other is a totally fictional story about a girls struggle with love and 'doing the right thing'.  In regards to the one about my time at university, I have changed names so as not to upset anyone; but another question I need to research is if I was lucky enough to get it published, would I have to tell people who are in it? Do they need to know or can I just leave it and say it is all fictional thus taking away the links between characters and real people.  I have signed up to some writers forums so will start to research these and other areas.

I want to get on with them for myself more than anything.  I cannot stand to have anything left half finished and now seems like the right time to go back to them.  They could be rubbish and never get published but until I try I won't ever know will I??

Friday, 3 June 2011

Music and our children

I was sat listening to the radio the other day when they started to do a 'hits from the past' hour.  I sit in the car singing along to Toni Braxton, Blackstreet or any others I know the words to but not the names of the bands!  As I sing along, my eldest rolls her eyes and proceeds to tell me how old I am and that the music is rubbish.  Well for a start, I do not think that at 32, I am old, far from it!  As for the music being rubbish, I try to explain it is all relative.  If she gives it 20 years, she too could be having the same conversation with her children.  She laughs but I smile after having the same conversation with my mum about 20 years previously.......

I do think there was more innocence about music and their videos in years gone by.  You would not see people sleeping together or harming each other nor would you see so much scantily clad girls.  I am sure everyone has an opinion on it but here is mine.  There is no need to see such extremes on the television.  For music artists to put them in their videos, they do glamorise the acts to some extent.  Children grow up too fast as it is and they should be allowed to develop at their own speed without watching extremes and feeling the need to 'live up' to something.  I do not let my eldest, who is 11, watch music videos unless they are on the Disney channel.  I am not trying to stop her keeping up with friends or anything like that but I am trying to allow her to grow as a child before she starts to ask questions about adult related subjects.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy -Session 3

I was excited about attending session 3 of my cognitive behavioural therapy.  I had had a good week, done a few new things and tried not to let my body manage my life but I manage my body.  The session started with the therapist talking about how I had scored on the anxiety and phobia levels again which were all still high.  This did not deter me though as I feel I can see the corner I need to turn in the distance.

This session was different.  Last week we had looked at the behaviour cycle, detailing what happened and when.    This week we were to go deeper into one area.  The area was to be my thoughts. She gave me a list of thinking errors that everyone has, the list was long so not one that I can detail here but if you want more information, email me and I will happily forward it to you. We took a situation where I had had a panic or anxiety attack previously, then I sat and thought about how I had felt. This was the hard part.  The therapist took every thought that I had and turned it around, making me see it as a 'thinking error' and not an actual practical thought.  For example, a fear of being sick of fainting in a public place I saw as people seeing me as stupid but that could come under a few thinking errors including 'Mind Reading'.  I should not expect to know others reactions to things but should allow myself to live.

The session was hard as we went into quite a few situations, ones for personal reasons, I do not think are right to share here on the world wide web.  This session was all about tackling those thought processes and realising that I was thinking the wrong way.  Changing that thought process is not going to be an easy one but one that will take time and energy.  I was given a 'Thought Record' to fill in when I feel anxious.  It allows me to write down the situation and pick it apart as it happens.  You detail the situation then the moods you are feeling and label them with a percentage.  From there you can write down the automatic thoughts that enter your head enabling you to link them to 'thinking errors'.  From there I can find alternative or rational thoughts to attach to the feelings.  This in time should make my mind start to rethink the way it thinks.

This is not going to be an easy or quick process.  I need to continue with my 'homework' until it all comes naturally.  Like learning to drive - when you started you had to think about every little process but years after, you can get in the car and drive off.

Search Amazon.com for CBT

Friday, 27 May 2011

Amazon Associates

This is more of a question blog, I have Amazon Associates linked to this blog but I do not use it much.  Even though I am logged in with their English account, the only links I get are to American books etc.  How can I change this?  Any ideas?

I have emailed them, but apparently it is all fine.  I would like to use it as some of the links are relevant especially for the cognitive behavioural therapies, but most of my pages views come from the UK. Any help or ideas greatly appreciated!!

House selling process continued.....

We are trying to sell our house.  As mentioned in a previous post, we had a buyer whom changed their minds after 2 weeks when the mother in law visited and put a stop to it.  I am not going to comment on that really, if they want to be driven by the mum then that is up to them; but you wonder why a 30 something year old man and his wife cannot just make decisions themselves.....

The house went back on the open market.  We lost our onward purchase and are back to square one.  We are not going to look at any other house now until we get a solid offer.  We have had an offer yesterday but not enough to make us jump in the car and view houses.  So now we site tight. Will the buyer go up? Will they stick?  Is this all we will get for our house? Too many questions, I say, sit back, watch from the sides and try not to make it emotional.  After all, it is a business transaction.  It becomes a home when you move in.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Session Two

Session 2 of a possible 12.  I say possible because if I 'get to grips' with things earlier, they can stop the sessions but at the moment it is a one week at a time thing.  I had mixed feelings about session 2, mainly because I was unwell.  Running through my head was 'Am I actually unwell or is my body trying to take over again?'  I had been to the doctor, where I was prescribed antibiotics but that does not always mean to me that I am ill.  Symptoms can be deceptive and after living with anxiety and panic attacks for 12 years, my body has gotten very clever.

The session started smoothly.  She read through my questionnaire that I am required to complete just before each new session.  Apparently my phobias, anxieties and panic levels are still high.  Well who would have thought hey?! The therapist wanted me to think of a situation that I had last had a panic or anxiety attack in.  My mind went blank.  More because the anxiety has been there daily until  just recently when the tablets started to kick in - I can now do the shopping without getting anxious, yeah me! Anything bigger than that was a hard one to pinpoint because I avoid all situations.  She said 'Do you go to the cinema, restaurant, pub?' I laughed and replied 'No!'  Which is true, I have not been 'out' for a long time.  My husband and I are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage, but we have not been out as a couple for about 7 years!

I eventually thought of a situation that will make me anxious and it was going to a naming ceremony that weekend.  Just thinking about the event conjured up emotions.  The pit of my stomach started to churn away as it thought what it could do to me.  The therapist took that situation and we placed it into a chart.  This chart helped me actually break down the whole process of the panic attack.  I wrote down the 'Worry Processes' then the 'Symptoms' I felt. Then the 'Behaviours, Internal/External' I used to get through or get out of a situation.  All the 3 sections are linked in a cycle that feeds each other and back again.  It is your body perceiving a threat i.e the situation, and your body reacting to it.  So for example, I know I am going out, the worry process kicks in with thoughts like 'I am going to be sick, then seen as a troublemaker for causing a fuss.  I won't be able to cope and I will need to go to the toilet (not for a wee), I might faint, I might need to go to the hospital.'  These thoughts start in the sub-conscious and so sometimes are hard to break. The symptoms kick in and mine include nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, light-headed and an overall tension in my body that makes me feel 'fuzzy' which is the only way I can describe it!

These 2 are the same for all situations, hence why I have written them down.  If you can relate to it, then you will also know how it all makes you feel.  Out of control is a good way to sum it up.  I hate being out of control.

My behaviours I thought were unique to me but apparently not! If I cannot find a reason to get out of a situation or I know I really need to go, like to a wedding,  I carry quite a bit of medication around with me to cover all eventualities.  In my bag I have Buspirone which is an anxiety drug that also stops messages from the bowels to the brain. Nux vomica, a herbal treatment for nausea, rescue remedy, immodium and pain killers.  Not forgetting a bottle of water, hand gel and tissues.  I am assuming most of these are self explanatory, but if not, please ask me!  I also run through possible explanations to tell my husband and the hosts as to why we have to leave early.  I am usually working out timings in my head and clock watch throughout so I know when to start saying things like 'I am not feeling great'.

To truly make head way, I must break the cycle.  To do this we are going to work on each section separately.  Writing it all down here makes me think I am a little mad! That is half the problem with me though, my head is always arguing with itself 'I can't go' then 'yes you can, pick yourself up'.  I suppose it goes back to the fly or die thing........

........I want to start flying.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cognitive behavioural therapy - Session one

As I have blogged about before,  I do have a problem in the shape of anxiety and panic attacks.  I have had a short course of cognitive behavioural therapy  over a year ago and was awaiting the start of a high intensity, 12 week individual course.  This has now started and I am very excited!

My therapist put me at ease during the first session, talking through my panics and anxiety's.  Mainly to work out the biggest problems before we can start to overcome them.  When asked what I want from the course, my reply was a simple one 'I want to be normal'.  I know 'normal' is relative but for me 'being normal' would mean taking my children out and about without thinking about it, to take them on a train to London or just to the zoo.  These may sound like small things to others, but they are massive hurdles to me.

She kept nodding and writing things down which you never know is good or bad.  I found myself actually feeling a little comfortable talking to someone, knowing that she was not judging me.  Her responses were great and started to make me think.  The real work starts next session.  I have been warned, it will be an emotional roller coaster but that does not faze me.  I have been living with this for 12 years on and off and now I have decided it needs to be gone forever.  Only I could make that decision and only I can make that happen.

I will blog after each session just in case you can relate with anything I am saying.  If I can reach out and make one person ask for help, then my work here is done.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Crazy little lady

My 3 year old has decided that now is a good time to be cheeky.  I have started to make notes to myself to remind me what not to fall for!  She seems to be able to talk herself out or into anything which is a worry at the tender age of 3.

She thinks that she 'needs' to climb across the back of the sofas and jump from the arms as it is the walk to the 'nursery' to pick up her dolly.  She 'needs' to take medicine spoons to give dolly her medicine then has to come back for a second and third as the others are dirty.  She has to wear her plastic princess heels around the house as she is off to work and that is what Mummy wears to work.

She looks at me with eyes that makes her seem older than her years sometimes as she negotiates things.  I told her we could go swimming after nursery but not to tell her older sibling.  Her response, 'Ok mummy, but she will see my wet hair so we will have to dry it.'  How can a 3 year have so much forward thought??!

Bedtimes are becoming a strain again.  She just walks straight back out of bed.  Last night, I said I was going downstairs and that was that.  She came down and stood in the hallway screaming for 15 minutes until I picked her and took her back upstairs.  Before you ask, I was unable to do it sooner as I was preparing dinner and every time her Dad went near her she screamed even louder. Once back in her room, she stops crying and starts talking;
'Mummy, can I just come downstairs for 2 minutes?'
'No, it is time for bed and I need to have dinner.'
'I will be very quiet and I could lay the table for you?'
'No it is fine, Daddy can lay the table, you just get some sleep.'
She looked at me and tried a different angle
'Mummy, I love you, can I have a cuddle?'  You cannot reject that can you?!
We have a cuddle and I start to leave the room,
'Mummy, can I come in your bed?'
'It is about time you started staying in your bed.'
'But when its morning, I need a cuddle so can I come and cuddle you?'
'Only if it is the morning, not too early.'
'Well, I can check at the window and if it is light, I will come and cuddle you.'
'Ok' I say and leave. 

As I walk down the stairs I realise that she has managed to talk her way into my bed again.  I was distracted by dinner cooking and just agreed.  True to her word, it was light outside when she came in our bed.  I am unsure of the time as I am so use to her climbing in our bed now.  That should not be the case and I wish I had the energy to take her back!!

Any thoughts or ideas how I can keep her in her bed, please let me know.

She may be a little crazy but she is a beautiful little girl.  Both my little ladies are and I am grateful for everyday I have with them.

Monday, 9 May 2011

House selling continues

We have decided to sell our house and make one final move.  The house went on the market about 4 weeks ago and the first buyer through the door, offered what we were looking for and it was all fine.  2 weeks down the line, they pulled out, citing the reason as they could not add much value to the house.  To me that is something they should have contemplated before they offered!  They wasted my time and their own.

So we went back on the market.  2 weeks later, 4 viewings and that's it!  I know the market is slow but is it really this slow?! The agent is surprised too, he cannot understand the lack of viewings across the board not just with me (I think that is suppose to make me feel better).

The house stays clean and my life continues to be in a weird limbo.  It is frustratingly boring selling a house.  You are putting your most valuable possession on show for others to wander around and decide if you have produced a good enough place for them to then invest their money in.  You can see it from both sides, the seller 'not much wrong with the house', the buyer, 'well I would change this and this and I cannot have a radiator under a window' yes someone really did use that as a reason!

It is an expensive decision and not one I would want anyone to take lightly.  I just hope someone decides to go ahead and offer again so that we can get this move moving.

I am sooooo impatient!

Anxiety and Conginitive Behavioural Therapy

So this week I start a new treatment of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.   I am excited and apprehensive.  I want it to work, I really do; but what if it doesn't?  and I am stuck in a cycle forever?
Positive thoughts - I need this to work.  I need to break the cycle so I can take my children out and relax when I do it.   So they do not always feel I am rushing them through things just to get home again or cancelling before we go and letting them down.

12 weeks of therapy will hopefully help me understand more and work things through in my head more. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter....

That Easter break seemed to be over way too quick! The girls broke up from school and then went back.  There didn't seem like a break inbetween.  I suppose that means we had a lovely break?  It was very busy.
I like to use the Easter break to see family and friends.  That is what it is all about really; along with the religious side obviously.  Family are important.  One of my siblings lives in Chicago which is not great as we do not get to see them as much,  maybe twice a year. On the other hand, what a life he is having! He loves it and so does his wife so you cannot knock that.  I saw my other siblings though, which was lovely.  My parents spent the Easter break delivering Easter Eggs to Lourdes - what a lovely thing to do?! They drive a truck load down and stay for the Easter period before driving it back.  I respect them for that.  They don't have to but they want to.  Nice to see people still giving in a climate when people need to look after themselves and their family.

Next, summer holidays.  Now that is a long break.  I had better get some real work done done so we have some money for our holiday!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Anxiety attacks

We went away for a weekend to Center Parcs in Suffolk.  Before going I was a little apprehensive but was also clear in my head that I really did not want anxiety spoiling the trip, as it had done previously.

We go with another family, whom we are close with.  Their children are lovely.  Plus all our children keep on together - except when my youngest is trying to drag their 5 year old around, which I would find annoying but their mum just laughs it off - thank goodness!!

The trip was a success.  I was able to control the feelings of panic with breathing and a little medication.  I also tried to ignore the urge to think about things too much.  This, alas, is my downfall most of the time.  In a previous therapy session, we discusssed over-thinking and trying to break that cycle.  It is all part of the cognitive behavioural therapy and I think they are really onto something. 

How it works is, you brain thinks about the event coming up and replaces what should be positive thoughts, with negatives and 'what if's....'  The problem starts here and even in your sub-conscious.  Once your brain has started this cycle, YOU have to be the one to break it.  When the negatives appear, beat them back with a positive.  For example:
Thought: 'Going away......oh no, what if I am ill.....what if I faint.....' (etc, you can see where that is going!)
What I use to do: Mull on these thoughts until they were the only thing at the front of my mind. Then they would usually appear in some form.
Answer should be: 'Going away.....if I am ill, do as you would at home.....if you faint, someone will help you.....I will make this trip good for me and my family.'

You have to break the cycle of thought processes.  It sounds easy but it is far from it.  I am still not comfortable with new places, but am building up to it.  Plus, I was called yesterday about a new course of cognitive behavioural therapy that is going to start in a few weeks for me.  This should be very intensive and so have greater results.  I am very much looking forward to it!

Moving house.....

It is done!  We have gone on the market with a local agent. The nicer one of the 3.  He has been really quick with pictures and details and his staff have been very helpful.  I hope this continues.

Just to note, the arrogant man has not replied to my email explaining we were going elsewhere.  I was not rude, I was to the point. I explained, the agent selected offered more or less the same but with a better fee.  Which is actually true.  I left out the parts of him being arrogant and a bit of a twit as I felt that could be unfair.  Plus, they may have a house I want to buy!

My house is currently spotless. How long I can keep it up for, I don't know!  2 girls on Easter holidays....... not sure this was a great idea now!!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Estate Agents

It came to my husband and I just recently that although we love our house and everything we have done to it,  we would like a little more for our daughters.  This led to the conversations about moving house, how much it would cost and if it was the right thing to do.
After checking it all out, we decided that yes, we would move but this should be looked upon as the last time.  The next step was to get the agents over......

I knew it was not going to be pretty, but I had forgotten how rude some agents could be.  I will not be using any names of companies as this could be seen as advertising for them!! I also did not tell any of them that I use to be an Estate Agent myself......

The first lady that came over was fine.  Straight to the point, told us what they could do for us.  Her fee was 2% which we got down to 1.5%.  Nice enough but her fee is just too high.

The next agent wanted to know why we had never come to them in the past because they had been in the area for so long...... I replied with simply 'We just never called you'.  The problem with his comment and the ones that followed, is that he assumed that he was the best in the area and seemed 'put out' that we had not called when we moved before!  There are quite a lot of agents locally and you just pick up the phone and call a few.  If you rang them all you would get bombarded with too much information.  They do all ultimately do the same job, some better than others.  This guy did not stop there.  He said his fee was 1.75% but could, at a push, go to 1.5%.  So I pushed.  His argument for not going lower was that all his staff were senior staff and as such he had to pay a senior wage.  Well to me that is his problem and not mine.  If that is how he chooses to run his business then good luck to him, but it does not make good marketing or sales sense to tell a potential client this.  He offered nothing special or above the others and even after whipping out his iPad, he did not fill me with any confidence that I could work with him.  The arragancy and assumptions he made, put me off.  The part he forgot, HE would be working for ME.

The final agent was the best one.  An independent agent who has been around for many years.  He was down to earth and honest without being rude. He gave his fee as 1.25% which we are happy with but I will push for 1%.  Every penny counts!

All of them talked the talk but only one agent actually made the effort to listen.  Estate agents do not need to be rude, arrogant or smooth, none of that washes with me.  I just want them to sell my house!  They all need to remember, the vendor (seller) is the client and therefore the agent works for them.  When more of them realise, understand and respect that, they may get a better reputation.  Agent number 2 let the industry down and ticked all the normal boxes whereas agent number 3 did not and that is why we will go with him!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Grommets and adenoids out!!!

My youngest has had breathing problems from birth and it was something that had got worse over time.  Her speech was a slow starter and so we were referred to a speech therapist and an ENT specialist.

The speech therapist was great, very happy with her.  After 2 sessions they discharged her and put the slow speech start, down to her ears.

In the meantime, we had been seeing an ENT specialist at Mayday. They did hearing tests on her, a CT scan, more hearing tests and a sleep study!  The hearing tests showed nothing wrong with the actual ear drum but a blockage behind the right ear, which meant glue ear.  The right side got so blocked that the left side started to fill up too.  The CT scan showed that the right ear's eustachian tube was totally blocked.  Glue ear is not always a problem as the ears can clear themselves in normal cases.  This was not that case for her.

After doing a sleep clinic at St Georges, and knowing that there was nothing seriously wrong, I thought they would leave it for now but they didn't.
In December 2010, the ENT consultant decided to operate on my little girl.  They had come to the conclusion the ears were not draining as the adenoids were over sized, thus stopping the air circulation and preventing them from draining.  Just over a week ago, she had the operation.  Yes people, 3 month wait and that was the NHS, I was most impressed!

After the operation, the surgeon told us the ears were really blocked and she would notice a change in her hearing, which she has.  The surgeon also told us the adenoids were very over sized and would have affected the way her skull had developed!!  This shocked my husband and myself as we had never been told anything like this before.  As she is only 3, it will all settle and as the oxygen gets to circulate, we should see a change in her facial features.  This could also explain why her soft spot did not close till she was 3......

Post op, she has been great.  No snoring, no runny noses, no coughs but still very loud!  I am pleased this was picked up early and dealt with.  If you think you have problems with your little ones, go and speak to your doctor. 

Where did that week go?

I have just realised that it is Friday - great but I thought it was last Friday!  Where did that week go?!

I do wonder sometimes, if days roll into weeks, roll into months, roll into years etc (you get where I am going!) If I did not have a calender, I truly would get lost.  As I get older, no sorry, more mature I notice more and more things slide for me.  Dates are a must and I like to try and remember as many friends birthdays/anniversary's as possible.  Not so I can make them feel bad for forgetting mine, but just so they know I am thinking of them.  I try to make as many events nowadays mainly because I am trying not to let my anxiety attacks affect me but also because events are less and less annually so you have to use that time for yourself.

I think I have let too many friendships slide.  This is not from my side though as I do make the effort alot of the time.  Thing is, when it is always you who makes the effort, you get disheartened after time and wonder if the time and energy used for them could be better placed elsewhere.  Also, if you are the one usually doing the calling, do they actually want to talk to you?!  I have decided, again with maturity, that friendships are precious and are a 2 way street.  Of course I would never be rude to anyone, that is not my style, I will just be a little cautious.

Life needs to be embraced and the little things can slide as long as you are happy.  That, I think is the key.  If you have read to here, thank you for reading my ramblings!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Anxiety....

Anxiety can be described as many things and believe me I have described it as many things over the years, many of which I cannot write on the internet! It cripples the individual to the extent where the anxiety is totally in control of your mind and body.  Only when you start to realise this can you really and truly battle it and take back that control.

My anxiety started during the pregnancy of my first child about 11 years ago.  I never realised this at the time and only looking back can I say that is when it started.  I fell pregnant while at university and the timing was not great.  I knew I had upset my family and was not following that path I had originally hoped for for myself but life is funny like that.  I always knew I had to keep my baby, that was never an issue.  Life would have to work around her and it did.  That is a complete other story and maybe I will blog about it soon.
I had an active social life up until the point I discovered I was pregnant.  Once I found out I was pregnant I just did not want to go out.  I started missing work, missing parties and totally missed spanish classes, (this was the only one I had at 9am) suffice to say I carried on going inward, into my own little ball.  it was easier to let others tell me what I wanted and what I should do so I had no decisions.  I finished that year and knew I had to complete the course - which I did - and came out of university with a 2:1 honours degree.  Getting to and from classes had become unbearable at times.  I hated traffic on the motorway (I had had to move home so family could look after my daughter) and use to panic on the motorway.  I would throw up on the side of the road or spend my time in the toilets when I arrived.  Once it was so bad, I thought I was dying and rang for help on the side of the road but when the woman mentioned an ambulance, I knew that was too far and declined the offer.

After university, I wanted to go to work.  Work life consisted of me rushing to nursery, rushing to work, putting on a smile, being ill at work, being ill before work generally not feeling great if I had to leave the office for anything. I moved jobs and the same happened again but as I stayed in the office all the time, I knew I could cope.  Outside of work was just as dull, I stayed in, did not venture out.  Most of my university friends were working in London and I slowly drifted from them as I never wanted to go out.  I left nights out early as I felt ill or got sick before leaving the house so did not actually go.  I wanted to go out for my birthday once but was a little scared about drinking in case I was sick.  People love to point out your not drinking, or that you should down your drink and I hate that kind of pressure, it is an individual choice.  This night in particular, I felt so ill, I left the club and collapsed outside.  The bouncer would not assist as he thought I had been taking drugs which I have never done, so left me with my friend.  Thank goodness a kind stranger stopped to help my friend with me.  There are some nice people left in the world!

This was about 4 years after the birth of the first child and only now did I seek help.  This could not be right, I should not feel so rubbish all of the time.  She did prescribe anti depressants and counseling, all of which I thought had worked.  I had started to do a few more things.  Had a complete list of excuses at the ready too.......

I think the medication had just masked some of the problems.  I still would not ride on a train without breaking out in a cold sweat and so avoided at all costs.  I still did not really like going out for an evening with friends unless it was at their house.  I would not do things like Farm visits, swimming, restaurants etc as they freaked me out so much.  I had comfort in going to places I knew and knew my way around.  Places I felt safe.  So over time,  I built a 'safe' bubble around me.  I told a few people what was happening and the response was and still is varied. 

After the birth of daughter number 2 about 3 years ago, it all came to a head again.. This time without the depression so much but the anxiety.  I saw the doctor who prescribed a few drugs plus proper therapy.  I had one cognitive behavioural therapy session and a year on am waiting for the next session (NHS for you!!) but I do think something is helping.  The knotty panic feeling is not coming as much and I even sat in the doctors the other day totally calm!  I still have a long way to go but I know I have to do it.  I have 2 beautiful daughters who need a mummy who will take them out for day trips.

If you too suffer from anxiety or depression you need to take it one day at a time.  Allow yourself to have low days, it will happen, it is how you deal with them which makes the difference to your mental state.  Always remember that depression and anxiety are something you can control but with help.  Depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain so you cannot just 'snap out of it' as some people would like you to think.  Seek the help and talk to others.  Message me and just let it all out if you have to, I will listen and not judge.

The mind is a powerful tool.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

When to know to give up?

Is there a simple answer to this one?  You start a task and it does not seem to be going your way, but when do you know when to give up?  Or do you not give?

This comes down to business for me.  I have been a freelance Marketing and Design consultant for a couple of years now but I am not going anywhere.  I have a few clients mostly from word of mouth so I decided to place an advert to get more.  Only locally, just to entice local businesses.  I have had one call and that was from the magazine who placed the advert which is great but the advert seems a little wasted!

Maybe its me, maybe I am not cut out for the work.  If I cannot generate more clients than maybe it is me and I should just stop trying to 'flog a dead horse' so to speak.

I love marketing and design, I really do.  I just wish I could do more of it.  So my question to you reading this, when do you know it is time to take stock and re-route your career?

I asked a friend this and she told me to look at what I really enjoy now in the present. Not what I loved in my previous 'proper' job, but now.  The answer would have to be writing and being a mummy.  The biggest fear then is, how do I make any money?! 

Maybe this comes down to me loosing interest in it or is that because work is slow?

I am confused and unsure.  Any ideas mostly appreciated! 

Monday, 28 February 2011

5 things that make you feel good!


So I was tagged via twitter by Mummy Beadzoid and although she did that a while ago, I still wanted to do it once I was feeling more up to it.  I too will copy and paste her intro so others know what I have done and why!  I probably won't get time to tag others to copy, so please help yourself and copy!!

The blog chain which originated from Scottish Mum called ’5 Things That Make You Feel Good, Scottish Mum says:

“I have seen lots of posts about what we struggle with, or things that we like to do, and I’d like to find out a bit more information about all of you. This is my way of doing it. I am looking forward to visiting some of you on the blog hop.”

What you cannot choose. The Rules are Simple
We all know that blogging/facebook/twitter is in our arena of what we like to do, so I am going to rule them out as one of the 5 that you can post about. They really are not very girly. Likewise, phones, computers, ipads are all out of the running. I am challenging myself to this, as I am really not a girly girly type of person, and I want to find that within myself. It’s not all about power suits, filofaxes, ipads and designer phones.
If you want to pass this along, pick bloggers that you want to find out more about, and challenge them to write up their 5 secret passions that make them feel good. The idea is to lift our spirits this week. The fact that there is a linky added, just makes it all the more worthwhile in doing.

Here goes then........

1) My girls have to come first for so many reasons.  They are the ones that keep me sane, keep me smiling and a cuddle from them can sort anything out.  I am not saying they are perfect, no-one is, but to me they are.
2) Writing makes me feel good. Especially when I have a lot in my head.  I wish I had more time to do it and was more a regular blogger like others around.  I have decided just to write whenever I can.  I want to save up, buy a laptop and then I can sit in the garden or in my bedroom and just write away to my hearts content.

3) Taking pictures is a joy.  I love going out with the family and taking contrasting shots.  I would never say I was a photographer, but I enjoy it so for me it is a hobby I hope to continue.
4) Films - in the cinema or at home.  I am not one for romantic films although there have been a few that got me like Notting Hill...... I like a film to keep me guessing till the end.  I love to watch the directors ideas take shape on the screen in front of me.  The cinematography of a film has to be just so to enjoy it.  I like it when you are watching and the special effects take you by surprise and before you can say 'wow' you are plunged further into the story line.  Films are like a form of escapism to me. I have to watch with no chatting - something my husband has learnt - mainly so I do not miss out on the tiniest piece of information.  Film making is an art form and should be respected as such! I use to love creating short films but alas, children came and that part of me has drifted too.

5) This last one is a culmination of things.  You see, I love to 'do things' so whether that be working, playing with the children, reading, writing, days out and even learning, I enjoy it.  I like the 'being busy' part and I suppose that is the 5th one, being busy. 

Well if you read all of that, I thank you.  I found it quite cathartic in a strange sort of way!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Mad little monkey

Mad little monkey is a great title for my 3 year old.  Amélie is so crazy it makes me laugh.  Her older sister was not as crazy and so I find myself going over the pregnancy to see if I did anything different.
I cannot find anything!  I had a few problems with Amélie and when she was born, she was in intensive care.  This was mainly because she came out faster than expected and I suffer from Group B Streptococcus which she caught from me.  I do not think this can be a reason for her madness though!

Last night was a prime example of what is happening.  She was put to bed at 8pm, had a story then lights out and I go downstairs.  I spent the next 2 hours finding her as she ran out of bed and hid upstairs!  We did have problems a few months back which meant she would not sleep unless I was there beside her.  I tried the control crying and the 'moving away in silence' as Supernanny says!  None of these things seem to help with her.  These latest night time moments are just so tiring and I cannot let it continue for as long as it did before!!

Where to go from here?  Well, I think it best that I keep putting her back.  She has to know where her bed is and that I will not give in first!  There is no point putting up a gate as she can open that now and no point taking things away as her response always is 'ok mummy, here take it' and she is not fussed!

I don't mind the madness during the day and try to let her in the garden as much as possible or do as much as I can with her but the night times are very very tiring!!

Any ideas or comments would be appreciated!!!

xXx

Friday, 11 February 2011

Yes I suffer from Anxiety and Depression!

Oooooo that felt quite  a relief to write the title!  I was going to make a seperate blog just for my mental health issues but after some thought, I do not see the need.  Those issues are who make me who I am and to accept them is to accept me.  So they need to be one of the same.  The longer I keep them seperate, the harder it will be to ultimately defeat.

Just a quick background to my issues, I first suffered from Depression during the pregnancy of my first daughter.  This developed into post-natal depression and anxiety issues that ultimately stopped me living.  A few years after my daughter was born, I got help and started anti-depressants.  I saw a councellor who was great but after a few sessions, I thought I had cracked it.  After 10 months of medication, I stopped and carried on with my life. 

Now I don't know who is reading this or what drew you to my blog, but I wonder if you can relate to the following.  I spent the next few years trying to fill something in my life.  Not sure what that something was but I was always trying to 'get somewhere'.  I still had periods of 'down' but I do not feel I was depressed.  I built a bubble around myself and limited my life and my families life.  I became very good at saying no to events and always had an excuse.  If not, I was good at getting ill.......

After the birth of my second child, the anxiety appeared properly again and I realised that enough was enough.  I could not even go shopping for the weekly groceries!  I needed help.  I went to the doctor and have been put on lighter tablets so I can still function and work through issues myself.  I did a quick course of congnitive behavioural therapy and am just waiting for the next stage. 

I have been on the medication about 18 months now and I do not see an end at the moment.  Things are getting better but I am battling it all myself.  I have a couple of close friends I can talk to which is great.  My family do not talk about it with me, I tell my mum about appointments and she sounds supportive but like my husband, I know they think I should 'snap out of it'.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my parents and my husband dearly but I fully understand where they are coming from.  They have the mind set I had before I sort help the first time, hence the delay.  It is all the questions on the logical side of your brain 'why are you freaking out?' 'what is wrong with jumping on a train?' 'why won't you go out for a meal or to the pub?'.  If I cannot answer those questions, how can I explain it to them.

For that reason, I keep a lot of it to myself.  I do not want to bore them with the day to day living of anxiety but I know I need to get it out, hence the blog.  I am looking forward to continuing my treatment so I can live a more 'normal' life.  I want my children to remember a fun filled childhood not one where mummy wouldn't go out.

If you too suffer, feel free to contact me to talk about it.  I really feel, talking is the way forward.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Students, Education, Students, Education.......

There has been much in the news at the moment about students in the UK and their 'cost' of attending College then University.  I am not for or against any side, I have my own opinion which is set somewhere in the middle.

To begin with, we need to be clear, there is a huge difference between College and Uni and these should not be lumped together as if they can be argued side by side.  I will start with College.

In the UK, going to College or 'Further Education' was something that most students already had mapped out in their life path, it was never an option, it just happened.  Those students are the ones who were academically able to achieve at A Level in a range of theory based subjects.  Where it all started to unravel is with BTEC's.  I do not mean that in a negative way, but as more people were able to stay on at College, more and more saw it their right to stay on and thus felt it should be funded.

I will take small breather just to explain about BTEC's.  I am FOR BTEC's and in no way see them as a negative within education.  Parents, I feel, never had it explained to them properly, what a BTEC entailed.  I meet so many parents who say 'well my little boy can't do a BTEC, they are for the thick kids' this shocks me and this is the problem.  BTEC's were introduced so that more people could gain further qualifications.  These students included ones that are not great with theory based courses and exams such as A Levels but would be great with vocational practical based courses such as BTEC's.  This does not make them 'thick' in any way shape or form.  It means that everyone can further themselves and their future.
I could go on for ages about this but I need to get back to where I was!  In conclusion, you have to weigh the whole BTEC versus A Level argument on what it is your child wants to do.  Everyone is needed in society whether it be as a doctor or mechanic or artist or teacher, so the courses enable whoever to follow whatever path they want.

Back to the point......more and more students started to go to College and the government introduced EMA to help the poorest families.  I do not think EMA was a great idea.  Some students already get free travel depending on where they live, Colleges offer help with books and meals so there was no need to introduce EMA.  Going to College always was a life choice.  The government had not made it compulsory for students to stay in some sort of further education until they are 18; but the current year 9's at school have to stay on until they are 18.  This changed the ball game!  If they want the students to stay, then they should help them.  Free travel and food is what is needed.  The food  budgets could go to the colleges and they give out 'credit' cards with allowances on for food enabling every student to get a meal.  Travel passes to get to College could be rolled out.  These would negate the need for EMA and that money could be used towards those schemes.

What I am shocked with is parents saying 'oh my boy is an A grade student and we need that money to get him to college' or 'without EMA then my daughter will end up on job seekers' ; but no-one receives that help for travel to secondary school? Free meals yes, but travel?  Colleges are further away, which is why there should be help with travel.  The government need to see College as an extension from secondary school and thus the same rules should apply.  Child benefit could also be used, this is what it is for.

University.......well this is a totally different kettle of fish!  University is a life choice.  You choose to go to University, it is not compulsory.  Students rioting about the fees took the whole argument too far and dampened the real issue.  All people will remember are the minority who took it upon themselves to smash windows, throw things at policemen and generally make a nuisance.  The big issue here is the cap being removed from the fees.  That should never have happened.  I believe that students should pay something towards going to University but so should the government/tax payer.  These future workers will pay back into the economy via their jobs.  Without them, many jobs may not have enough skilled people to do them, which should not be an option.  We should be able to sustain ourselves as a country and feeding back into education is the way to do it.  Think of it as a huge circle of life.  The current students will be the ones washing you, caring for you, dispensing your medicines or operating on you in the future.  We need them to grow up as well adjusted humans who see life not as an easy ride but if they work hard, it will pay off. 

As the old saying goes, 'children are our future' and as I add, 'we should teach them about life even if that means at times it will be hard to get where you want to be.  It will make them stronger and more determined.'

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Car crash!!

Just before Christmas, I was unfortunate enough to skid on some ice while driving in my Ford Focus.  I tried to veer away from a hedge but it meant that I hit a lamp post instead!  I was going pretty slow - about 10mph - but I was shocked at the damage!

Now don't get me wrong, I hit a solid object.  Lamp posts are sturdy things.  The point is it took the head lamp out totally, crumpled the side panel, bonnet and snapped the bumper. 
Maybe I am wrong but I was shocked at the extent of the damage.

We bought the Ford Focus after being told it had been voted car of the year a few times.  We looked at a few and did in fact love the drive, so we purchased one.  We had no problems with the Focus.  The drive was lovely, the extras were great.  Bear in mind, we were coming from a VW Golf which is also a lovely car but it did drain the petrol pretty quick.

I had hoped they would fix the damage and we would get our car back.   This was not to be.  The damage was apparently over £3,300 to rectify so they wrote the car off.  I totally understand why they wrote it off but I think the quote for the work was overpriced and insurance companies should get a few quotes.  They have written off a perfectly good car that I am sure will be bought, fixed and sold as a Category D.

Where do I go from here?  Well, I have to find a new car with a budget of £4,000; which is not easy when I am now wondering if the Focus is safe enough.  I have been assured the safety cage is great and cars crumple to absorb the impact....  I have 2 children, so this is still something sticking in my mind.  Do I go back to a Golf?  Sturdier, yes but unless I get a diesel, not great on petrol plus boot space wise, not great for a family of 4.

Thoughts and opinion welcomed!!

xXx