There’s nothing wrong with New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve noticed that New Year’s Resolutions are a bit out of style these days. Some say: don’t make them because you’re going to break them anyway. Years of people making unrealistic goals for themselves and then failing have led to people not bothering at all, even scoffing at the whole notion.

However, I think that taking stock of the past year, and allowing yourself a fresh start, is a good idea. It’s not “new year, new me”. I’m the same me, but I want to set some gentle intentions for things I’d like to do it the year ahead. I also want to let you know about some things that are going to change on this blog.

A year reviewed

As years go, 2017 has not been my favourite one. The worst part of it was saying goodbye to both of my grandparents, who played a major role in my upbringing. It’s the first time close members of my family have died. Learning to live with my grief while continuing to function in daily life was very difficult for me. I developed a full-on anxiety problem, with heart palpitations/panic attacks.

I eventually got mostly rid of it though, and found that exercise and mindfulness are key for me in keeping myself happy and avoiding anxiety. I developed new strategies to fit exercise into my busy lifestyle and have tried new types of exercise too. My big success was completing a 10k race in 1 hour and 16 minutes, having never run so far before in my life.

Another fantastic success of this year was that I got a new job. I had a long notice period to work for my old one, so I’m not starting my new job until later this month. The new job is a complete career change but it is for an amazing and exciting employer, doing important work. I’m going to have a lot to learn and it’s pretty scary, but overall I’m looking forward to it and think it can only be a good thing.

I have loved my current employer, but it had gotten to the stage when I had been there too long and just needed a change. I never thought I’d be able to move on so easily because of my flexible working requirements, so I am so happy I’ve found an amazing new employer who is happy to be flexible.

Back to the downsides, just at the beginning of December I suddenly found a large lump in my breast. I went to the doctor straight away and was referred to a breast clinic. I was expecting them to say it was just a cyst, but instead I ended up with a mammogram, ultrasound and core needle biopsy. I have not yet had my biopsy results. So that is scary. It’s taken me a few weeks to feel normal again after the biopsy, but I’m now determined to just carry on as normal and think positively while I wait for the results.

Intentions for myself

My biggest discovery this year was that exercise really, truly does make me happier. Of course, science supports this and other people told me that for years, but despite exercising on and off for many years, I never believed it made me happier until recently. Perhaps it is my age, but now I feel a noticeable difference in myself when I exercise compared to when I don’t. So my intention is to do as much exercise as I can in the new year.

I have created a little calendar for January with a planned activity for each day. But I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t actually manage to exercise every day…I just going to be happy each time I can cross off another day of my exercise calendar.

Another intention on the health front is simply to eat more vegetables and less sugar. I refuse to cut things out of my diet. I think that’s a recipe for disaster. But when I am not bothered about whether or not I have something unhealthy, I simply won’t have it. And I will not clean my plate unless I want to.

Finally, I am also going to try and think positively and live in the moment. I am a great worrier and explorer of “what-ifs”. But, as my husband repeatedly reminds me, “what-ifs” are rarely useful. I am going to cross bridges when I come to them, and try not to worry which rickety crossings might be miles ahead.

Intentions for this blog

Some of you may (or may not!) have noticed that I haven’t written much on this blog lately. This is mainly a product of being busy and tired, and simply having other priorities. I started this blog for me and I see nothing wrong with using it however it suits me. But, it does make me happy when I write, and so I’m going to aim to write something once a week or so.

I’m going to shift the focus of the blog slightly. I don’t want to change its name because that is too much of a faff, but I’ll probably change the tagline when I have time. I’ve always called this a parenting blog, but that’s not really what it is. It’s more about life as a mum (rather than focusing on the actual children), and about how to look after yourself. I’ll have to think of a way to describe that in a catchy tagline!

So my future posts will unashamedly be about me and how I’m surviving my busy life, only one aspect of which is being a mum.

I’m also going to stop doing product/service reviews and sponsored posts. There will be one more sponsored post coming out this week, and that will be the last one. The main reason for this is that my new job prohibits that sort of moonlighting in my contract. I may still review things that I’ve paid for myself, but I won’t be accepting free products or any money to write posts.

And so…onwards and upwards for 2018! Thank you to anyone who reads my little musings, and I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

What are your resolutions this year, or are you a resolution refuser?

 

Mission Mindfulness

 

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4 things I learned from 1 year of blogging

Sometime around the end of July, the one-year anniversary of me starting this blog quietly passed. This blog was originally inspired by a holiday that I wanted to write about. A year later, it was ignored because of another holiday, which I should probably write about at some point.

I often see other bloggers writing something about their blogging anniversary (blogiversary??), and I’m not usually one to avoid a good bandwagon tbh. However, I think the sort of things I want to say might be a little bit different.

Until last week, I hadn’t blogged in about a month. I was unsure whether I was done with blogging, or I just needed a break. All I knew was that I really just needed to chill out and watch Netflix in the evening, and to never ignore my kids at the weekend so I could (just quickly) join a linky. I also had some other stuff going on in my life that distracted me from blogging, which I’m not sharing publicly yet … but watch this space (however I can tell you now that it’s nothing to do with having more babies – that’s what people always think when you say you have a secret).

So I had my break and I enjoyed it, but then last week I had a really stressful day. So to stop me mulling over the stressful thing, I went ahead and wrote a little blog post. It brought home to me the real reasons I blog – reasons that I hope I’ll remember as I continue to blog – reasons that might even keep me blogging for a long time yet.

I don’t need to be the best

When I first started blogging, I knew absolutely nothing about the world of blogging. I was just going to write down some stuff on the internet that I thought a few other people might find interesting. Then, I got sucked into the world of stats and leaderboards and follower numbers and branding collaborations. I got a little ambitious and competitive. I got a little obsessed.

What many people who don’t blog don’t know is that nobody gets to be a famous blogger, or a blogger who makes their living from blogging, without having a killer combination of hard work, talent and luck.

I do not need to compete with the famous bloggers, the well-paid bloggers, or even the ones who I personally think are just awesome and wish I could be more like. I don’t have to publish consistently or have beautiful social media feeds unless that’s what want. I can just blog because it relaxes me and because it helps me think things through. My blog is about me, and if anyone else is interested or thinks it’s good, then that’s a bonus.

I don’t need to get paid

Making a living from blogging or getting occasional paid blogging opportunities or product reviews are totally awesome. I’ve dabbled in this a little bit. I may or may not continue doing so. It’s kind of cool, but usually the time and effort I put into a review or sponsored post is not worth the money or “free” thing I got.

Occasionally, there have been a few experiences I’ve had because of blogging that money actually couldn’t buy. I’m grateful for these. But if they never happened again, I would still be happy about my little blog.

Blogging is about people

The best, best thing about blogging is people, in a couple different ways.

First of all, any blogger worth his or her corner of the internet engages with other blogs. We don’t all have endless time to read and comment on other blogs, but really a good blogger ought to have a few other blogs they read. Blogging isn’t just a broadcast … it’s a community. And if you read other blogs, you will be learning new things, and often these things are about people, and you will learn interesting things about people who are different to you. This expands your horizons.

Second, blogging really does help you make new friends. I have made at least one proper, meet-up in person friend through blogging, and have several other acquaintances who I really like. There are lots of bad things on the internet, but blogging has an amazing knack for helping you meet like-minded people.

Blogging is healthy

Ok, so there is the risk that you get obsessed with social media and you never look away from a screen again. But the act of actually blogging – writing something about your life that you have thought about – mitigates against that.

Blogging encourages introspection, but it also requires you to think about how to write about your introspection in a way that engages others. For me, blogging has helped me avoid negative thoughts about myself and instead think about how I can be my best self. This process is what I like to share on my blog.

So what next?

A lot of people talk about their future goals for their blog on these sort of posts, and sometimes those include getting to a certain follower milestone or something measurable like that. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve been to some mindfulness talks and I now prefer to set intentions. So here are mine:

  • To stay true to myself in all ways, including with my blog.
  • If I don’t feel like blogging, I’m not gonna blog. So you know what’s happening when I don’t post for a while.
  • But temporary breaks don’t mean I need to shut down the whole thing.
  • Carry on nurturing the community I’ve become a part of by joining in on social media and reading other blogs when I can.
  • Carry on balancing introspection with things that might be useful to others – this is, after all, a public place.

What do you think? Has your blogging journey taken you to places you didn’t expect? Did you go down a road that you later decided wasn’t right for you? What’s good and what’s not so good about being a blogger?

All the things you don’t know about me…

One of my blogger friends who joins in with the #EatSleepBlogRT linky every week linked up a funny post the other week. It had a fact about her for each letter of the alphabet, and I really enjoyed learning more about her in a format that required her to be a bit more creative in how she expressed it. I commented that I’d really like to copy the idea and so she turned it into a tag post!

So here you are, an alphabetical description of some things that are important parts of my personality. To read the original post that started it all, and see more instructions for joining this tag, please check out Heather’s blog, Shank You Very Much.

Shank You Very Much

A is for acting

My childhood dream was to be a musical theatre star, but I never pursued it.

B is for boobs

My boobs are my favourite feature of mine. They aren’t quite what they used to be. They’ve been subjected to pregnancy and breastfeeding and 30-mumble years of gravity. But they’re still mine and they’re great.

C is for cats

I like black & white cats who occasionally bite you when you may or may not deserve it.

D is for Dad

I was brought up by my dad, and he did a smashing job really. Respect to all the solo parents out there doing it for themselves.

E is for Editor

In my day job, I am an editor. It’s not quite the acting dream, but I actually really love it. I dabbled with a lot of other possible professions in my younger days but I was always meant to be an editor.

F is for (the F-word)

I really love swearing. I like doing it and hearing other people doing it (as long as it’s comical/therapeutic and not aggressive). I don’t like to swear on my blog, but if you come round for a drink after the kids are in bed we can turn the air blue.

G is for Geek Groupie

I like a few geeky things like Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and other fantasy books & movies, Comic Book movies etc. But I’ve never quite been passionate enough about any of it to qualify to be a true geek. More so, I’ve always enjoyed the company of people geekier than me – and pretty much everyone I’ve ever dated has been a geek of some type. So that’s why I say I’m a bit of a geek groupie.

H is for Hats

I like to wear very warm, flamboyant hats in the winter. I get away with not blow-drying my hair and just sticking a hat on it. My mother-in-law bought me a real winner this year, and my son is taking after me.

Hats.jpg

I is for Indian food

I am obsessed with any sort of Indian food, from whatever region, authentic or not. Exotic spice combinations are my happy place.

J is for Japanese

I’m also obsessed with Japanese food. Sushi, Teriyaki, Udon – all of it. I NEED to eat it at least once a week. When I was a teenager my dad had a similar obsession, for which I ridiculed him. But it must be in the genes because now I can’t get enough of the stuff. I also find Japanese language and culture fascinating – have studied it a bit – and hope to visit Japan properly one day.

K is for Kitchen

We recently built an extension to our house with a brand new shiny kitchen in it. I’ve always wanted a breakfast bar and now I have one! We have worked for years to be able to get such a thing. When I’m feeling a bit down, it’s wonderful to have a part of my house that is shiny, uncluttered, and just how I like it (unlike the rest of the house).

kitchen.jpg

L is for Listening

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised how important it is to listen. I’m sometimes good at listening to my friends when they need a friendly ear. But other times I’m too self-centred and I forget to listen and think of others. It’s something I’m working on.

M is for Mindfulness

I am still new to mindfulness but I’m learning it’s a wonderful thing for my physical and mental health. It was actually another blogger who got me interested in it. If you want to know more about my new interest, check out my guest post on Mission: Mindfulness.

N is for Nicole

It’s my name … and I can’t think of anything else for this letter.

O is for Only You

My favourite cheeseball movie guilty pleasure from 1994. It stars Marisa Tomei, Bonnie Hunt and Robert Downey Jr before he was Iron Man. It’s about a woman who goes all the way to Italy chasing after a man who an Ouija Board told her was her soulmate. It’s full of beautiful scenery, cheesy lines, cringey comedy and good kisses. I will never get tired of watching it.

P is for PhD

It is a lesser known fact that I have a PhD in English. My thesis was about religion and postcolonial literature. I don’t remember much else about it.

Q is for Questions

Another of my current intentions for myself is to ask people more questions. I talk about myself too much and forget to ask other people things. So I’m trying to think about what I’d like to ask my friends. But I also have to be careful and not ask the wrong sorts of questions!

R is for Rock ‘n Roll

My music tastes are very eclectic. But if someone forced me to pick one, it would have to be rock. There is nothing like a rousing guitar riff. Plus there are so many sub-genres of rock, I’m sure I wouldn’t get bored.

S is for Sugar

The sugar police can go and drown themselves in a massive avocado smoothie as far as I’m concerned. I love sugar. Sugar in my drinks. Sugar in my cakes. The current trend of “giving up sugar” makes me roll my eyes so hard it gives me a headache. It’s definitely bad to eat too much of the stuff, but that doesn’t mean it’s always bad.

T is for Truth

I am truthful about things to a fault. Perhaps the T could also be for Tactless, but I’d like to think I’ve gotten better about that over the years!

U is for Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

This is a real thing and they are bloody amazing. They play all sorts of songs on a collection of different sized ukuleles, with a strong dose of humour. Seeing Kate Bush’s song “Wuthering Heights” performed on ukuleles made my life complete.

V is for Vasovagal Syncope

That’s a fancy medical term for fainting. If I hurt myself and I think it’s really bad – like broken bones, gashes, or just extreme pain – I faint. I just check out. I also faint if I don’t lie down when they draw my blood for blood tests. It scares the bejeezus out of people.

W is for Wuthering Heights

If someone asks me what my favourite book is, I always say Wuthering Heights. Of course, I first read it when I was an impressionable, angsty teenager and I just thought it was the most romantic story ever. In my more mature years, I actually think Cathy is sort of an idiot. But I haven’t found another book that has made quite so strong an impression on me.

X is for Xylophone

I don’t really care about xylophones, but there aren’t very many words that start with x.

Y is for Youth is wasted on the young

Do you ever look back at pictures of yourself and think: “Damn, I looked good and had no responsibilities, but I never appreciated it at the time?” I do. I also think how much I would love to sit around studying maths and history, whereas as a teenager I thought it all mind-meltingly boring. It’s a shame that we have to go to school when we’re too young to appreciate it.

Z is for Zippers

When zippers stop working properly and come unzipped from the bottom underneath the pull tab. That just sets my teeth on edge. Aaaagggh.

I’m tagging Becki from The Mum From Brum, Nadia from Scandi Mummy and Jen from Just Average Jen to participate next. I hope you’ll all let me know when your posts are live so I can have a read.

The rules are here:

  1. Read through my post. I know, that seems like a given.
  2. Start your own blog post.
  3. Fill your alphabet in with things that describe you. Or just random thoughts that start with that letter if your brain decides it doesn’t feel like cooperating.
  4. Tag the person who sent this to you and two other bloggers that you’d like to know more about.
  5. Copy and paste these directions above your post so people know what to do.
  6. Pop over to Shank You Very Much to grab the badge code.
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Big Girls DO cry

Sometimes, life is just a bit too much. Sometimes things are a bit crap. I’m not going to define what crap is. It might be catastrophically crap; it might be an everyday, yet relentless sort of crap. But it happens to all of us.

My current sort of crap is the type that is little things piled on top big things that all conspire to crush me.

The big one, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, is that my grandmother is dying. She brought me up when I was little and is one of the people I love most in the world. She has been unresponsive for months now and we’re finally moving her into hospice care. It has been difficult: missing her already but not feeling I’m allowed to grieve until she’s truly all-the-way gone. And I have yet before me the task of learning how to exist in a world without her in it.

The second biggest one is that I keep having these weird episodes in which my heart pounds and races. The other day one of the episodes lasted a full 10 minutes and my Fitbit said my heart rate was 194 bpm. I ended up spending that night in A&E, but they didn’t find anything wrong beyond a slight arrhythmia – which is apparently pretty common. So I’ve been worried about my health. Do I have a heart problem or is a stress/anxiety thing? I don’t know yet.

And then there are lots of other little/big things. Getting called in by the headteacher at school to meet about my son’s “behavioural issues”. The mum that snubbed me at the school gates. Running behind with work deadlines. Feeling emotional at work and fighting back tears at ridiculously inappropriate moments. Feeling fed up with blogging and yet not truly wanting to quit.

I’m sure all of you can relate to some of this. Big problems, little problems, 1st world problems – whatever. There is no hierarchy of problems. The fact is: if they are upsetting you, affecting you, making it difficult for you to function as you would wish, then they are significant.

Ignoring these things, downplaying them and telling yourself to get over it is not going to help. You need to confront these feelings head on. To say, “this is the way I’m feeling, and that’s okay”.

But at the same time, we all have a lot on our plates. I know there have been days when all I wanted to do was curl up on the floor and wallow in my grief. But I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. I’ve got small people to look after. And if I lay down on the floor they are going to jump on top of me and demand to be flown around in the air.

I have a job that needs doing because I have a mortgage that needs paying. I have other friends and family that need me to be there for them. As much as I’d like to, I just can’t give up. I can’t mentally check out and take a holiday from all of my responsibilities.

And so the pressure of all of my troubles weigh on me and are compounded by my need to keep on going even when I want to quit.

But the other day, after I’d spent the night in A&E – when I felt tired and lost and lonely and sad and fed up – I had a revelation. My husband was at work. My kids were at school and nursery. I’d called in sick to work because I’d been awake all night in hospital. And when my grief pricked me in the eye, I let it. There was no one there to see.

So I cried.

But I didn’t cry like a grownup. I didn’t cry the way you cry at a sad movie, with tears running down your face quietly and the odd little hiccup. I didn’t cry the way you do in front of other people, when you are desperately trying to stop – trying to hide it – apologising for your crass display of emotion.

I cried like a child. I screamed. I moaned and groaned and probably sounded much like a cow giving birth. Nobody could hear me. So I let every messy feeling pour out in tears and great wracking sobs.

And when my tears dried up and I was tired of railing against the universe, I simply stopped. And it was like a great weight had been lifted.

I’ve since been doing a bit of googling about crying and apparently there is scientific evidence that crying releases stress. Tears actually contain stress hormones that are leaving your body when you let them go.

Ever since my big cry, everything has seemed easier. I’m not crying at work anymore. I’m not feeling as tense around my family. I’m able to keep doing what I need to do while I weather my personal storms. I had thought if I didn’t cry, I was being strong. But really I was stifling all of the emotions that scared me, instead of facing them. When I didn’t let them out, they festered.

So I’m not going to start making crying one of my big hobbies. But it’s comforting to know that I can – and should – cry when I need to.

Crying is okay AND it helps. So the next time it’s all a bit (or more than a bit) crap, send the family out of the house, close the curtains, put the kettle on, and let the tears flow.

Mindfulness and coping with grief

Trigger warning:  the topics of losing a loved one and teenaged death are discussed in this post. 

I am going through a tough time at the moment. My grandmother, who raised me in my early years, is very ill. She is unresponsive in hospital, and it’s looking like I’ll never get to speak to her again. So although she is not completely gone yet, I am already missing her. I will probably be writing a few posts about my grief and in tribute to her when the time is right. In the meantime, I asked the wonderful Hayley from Mission: Mindfulness – the blog to share some thoughts on how to cope when we lose someone who means the world to us. Hayley’s thoughts here are helping me every moment that I wish I could hear my grandmother’s voice on the phone.

A guest post by Hayley from Mission: Mindfulness: the blog

Dear Reader,

Nicole wrote to me a few weeks ago asking me to write a guest post for The Mum Reviews blog. Nicole is a blogger buddy of mine who I didn’t want to let down, and I was honoured to be asked. I really wanted to write something that fitted with her remit of mindfulness and suffering a loss, yet I was fearful of writing such an important post. I am certainly no therapist and not an expert in grief management, but said I’d have a think and get back to her. And then yesterday I knew what I wanted to write, so here it is.   

********
Today was the usual busy morning at our house.  Porridge being served.  Bread being toasted.  The radio blaring out.  The kids were, well, just being kids really …

And then suddenly an unexplained and unanticipated sadness hit me – coming from what seemed like nowhere. I was transported to a different place and time. But, as I tuned into the song on the radio, I recognised what was going on. Oasis’s “Masterplan” had started to play. My chest felt like I’d been squeezed too tightly in a big, unsolicited hug, and my eyes prickled in the familiar sensation I feel when tears are close.

Although nearly 20 years ago, the power of music was able to vividly remind me of a tragic event. A time when the fragility of life became palpable to me.

The time when my older sister’s boyfriend was suddenly taken from the world in a tragic car accident.

We’d all had a fabulous summer – working and playing together. It was the era of Britpop, and some of us were enjoying the twilight of our teenage years, while others were embarking on the beginning of their 20s. I recall the new Oasis album had been playing A LOT as we drove around the country roads of Lincolnshire, causing great debate. Some of us loved it – Adam, my sister’s boyfriend, being one.  Others of the group were not so sure.

That I remembered all of this as if it were yesterday is testament to how powerful music can be. At that moment, the sadness of losing Adam seemed as raw as it had at the end of the 90s.

And yet Adam had not been my sweetheart. Nor my son. Nor my grandson. Nor my  brother. Nor my best friend. And so I can only begin to imagine how many times, and how intensely, this happens to people who were these things to him. And as my thoughts overtake me, whisking me away from my residual feelings, I wonder: how did they cope?

Of course it would be crude to speak of a hierarchy of grief. Yet in reality it seems that the rawest of emotions come when a person is taken from us too young. By this I don’t just mean someone of a similar age, or younger, to the beautiful Adam, but even someone much, much older who still also seems to have so much life and living left. That sense of injustice and anger which mixes with the deep sadness of the grief must be an almost overpowering blend of emotions.  Understandably these can lead to very dark thoughts.

Until recently it has seemed the norm in our culture – in keeping with the idea of the British “stiff upper lip” – not to allow these thoughts and emotions to consume us. Rather, to distance ourselves from them as quickly as possible, to distract ourselves, or worse still for our “inner critic” to take over and berate us for not “coping” as we perceive we should.

Instead, Rumi, the 13th century Muslim poet (much quoted on Mindfulness courses and retreats) offers a different perspective. The suggestion is to allow these feelings and thoughts to freely come and freely go.  Without judgement.

To be with them for a moment or two. If that feels okay at that particular moment in time. To view these thoughts and feelings as passing guests and treat them accordingly.

This principle, so important to mindfulness, is eloquently described in Rumi’s poem The Guest House. 

The Guest House

Translated by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Wishing all who are going through difficult times at the moment much love.
Hayley xx

Blog:  www.missionmindfulnessblog.com
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Tammymum

The Slightly Belated Quiz of the Year

Happy New Year!

By way of easing myself into a new year of blogging, I’m completing this quiz tag post thingy that’s going around. My writing muscles (like all of my other muscles) have gotten a little soft and slack during my lovely Christmas break, so I need to give them a bit of warm up before going full speed.

Perhaps most people did this quiz before the end of last year, but I’m sure it’s still relevant, at the start of a new year, to carry on reflecting about the one that has passed. Thanks to Kelly from Nature Mum Blog for tagging me for this.

What was your highlight of 2016?
We built an extension! Right across the back of our house, we built a new kitchen diner, and converted the old kitchen into a downstairs toilet and utility room. It took 5 months and a lot of money and stress, but it was totally worth it. We had been living with a single room for both living and dining and it was a bit of a cramp for a family of 4 – especially since it’s important to us to eat together round the table. Now we have this wonderful family space and room to entertain guests as well. Look for a full post on this topic sometime soon.

Name one thing you are likely to remember about 2016 if asked in five years time?
Obviously, 2016 was the year when some of our favourite stars from our youths started passing away. It’s been a bit of a thing to be incredulous and to blame 2016 for it’s scourge on celebrities, but I have a feeling it’s just part of getting older in a culture far more media-obsessed than the one our parents grew up in. So we need to get used to this.

Sum up 2016 in one word.
Tumultuous.

Name one pearl of wisdom from 2016 that you will carry through 2017.
Take time to breathe! My life got pretty busy in 2016. My eldest started school, I started this blog, I was working 4 days per week, and the building works were stressful. I also had surgery and some other emotionally and physically stressful things happen. I learned if I don’t take time to practice a bit of mindfulness, then I start to have some serious issues with anxiety. So now I take regular breaks just to breathe. My favourite blogger who keeps me on track with this is Mission: Mindfulness. I’ll be guest posting on her blog soon about my mindfulness journey!

Do you have any new year resolutions?
It’s super-duper beyond cliche but I want to lose some more weight. This year, I lost the baby weight from having my youngest (who is now 2!). Now I want to lose what I like to call the “beer and burritos” weight from my 20s. I have my 20-year high school reunion coming up in July and this is good motivation for me. Obviously I will swan in looking healthy and be able to tell people about my incredibly glamourous life. 😉

How did you see in the new year?
Our neighbours from across the street came round with their kids from 3-6pm for the kids to play while we imbibed cava and spicy chicken wings. Party on down, I know! After the neighbours left, my husband and I put the kids to bed and carried on with the cava and junk food in front of some spectacularly awful TV. Did anyone else see Robbie Williams groping himself live on the BBC?? At least we managed to stay up until midnight.

What would you most like to do in 2017?
Just live normal life and appreciate the little things.

What are your main goals for 2017?

  • Be a fab blogger – with all the right stats – but to keep on keeping it real.
  • Stop looking at my phone when I’m supposed to be playing with my kids.
  • Do something new that scares me – I’m not sure what yet.

I tag Sparkly Mummy and Me, You, Baby Too to take part, if they want to and they don’t reckon it’s too late!

Blog Toast Tuesday: 6 September 2016

It’s time for my weekly feature, #blogtoast Tuesday, where I toast other blogs I’ve discovered and enjoyed in the previous week. I toast them like you do with champagne, not like what you do to bread, just to be clear.

I have been featuring 3 blogs every week, but that’s getting to be too much for my brain. At least it is for me tonight. So I’m only featuring two this week.

We’ve had a really tiring weekend:

  • We ordered our new kitchen for our new extension that’s being built. That was a nerve-wracking expensive purchase, full of lots of decision-making.
  • We moved my 22-month-old from his cot to a big boy bed. Someday he might even sleep in it – he certainly didn’t last night.
  • And we dealt with a wicked nit invasion. I’d never had or seen lice before so I found that pretty stressful!

So I think you might see a theme for this week’s post – two blogs with recent posts about staying calm!

Mindful Mummy Mission

I discovered this blog tonight while participating in the #EatSleepBlogRT linky. She was a featured blogger on Petite Pudding’s newbie showcase. I thought her featured post on mindfulness for mums and dads offered a really realistic approach to parenting. It sets goals but keeps in mind all of the challenges life puts in the way.

I have to admit that I have never thought seriously about mindfulness – it all sounded a bit hippy-dippy to me – but her site is very convincing about it. Her About page discusses the scientific evidence that points to mindfulness being healthy for body and mind. She also explains how it is easier to put into practice during our busy daily lives than you might think. And her tone of writing is down to earth and not even slightly worthy or preachy. She has changed the way I think about mindfulness and I’m going to make more effort to incorporate it into my life.

I also really liked her post about mindfulness for bloggers – it’s so easy to let blogging and social media take over your life!

alifeinpracticeblog.com

I first found this blog in the #KCACOLS Facebook group. She posted ‘Negative Automatic Thoughts, Part 1: What on earth are NATs?‘ I had never heard of NATs before, and I’m surprised about that. It should be something people are talking about. Feelings of inadequacy that intrude on your life and cause anxiety must be something that affects a lot of people. I can certainly see some of these symptoms in myself. And giving a name to this, instead of just passing it off as no big deal, can be a step towards coping with it.

I also enjoyed her post about ‘Finding Your Calm Button‘. It’s about finding the one thing that can calm and centre you when you feel your day and your thoughts are spiralling out of control. When I was younger and used to live in the USA, I would go for a drive to calm down. Now I live in the UK, that sounds like a silly idea! Driving here seems like much harder work – or maybe I’ve just realised that getting behind the wheel when you’re upset probably isn’t the best course of action. On the weekend when I was freaking out about lice, I stopped and had a cup of tea – I’ve obviously been well assimilated into British culture. But I am going to think about another way to calm myself when caffeine isn’t at hand!

Please do join me in toasting the best blogs by tweeting your favourite this week with the hashtag: #blogtoast (and if you @themumreviews I will retweet you – it’s win/win!) – or let me know just what you think of me in the comments!