#Christmasfeels

Where are your shoulders right now?

Are they relaxed, your neck feeling good, your arms loose?

Nice.

What happens when I say the ‘C’ word?

Yeah, you heard me, I mean Christmas. CHRISTMAS!!!! CHRRIIIIISSSSTTTTMAAAAS!!!

Where are your shoulders now?

Is there tension in your upper body, maybe your jaw is tight, your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth?

Are your shoulders sitting up around your ears?

Is your breath caught high up in your chest and does your throat feel constricted?

Maybe this season of the year has you all chilled out and maybe you are organised and sorted with gifts and decorations ready to hand out to all and sundry. Maybe you are the illusive (smug) Christmas unicorn of mythical legend!

Here’s the thing; I am supposed to love Christmas because I love the whole Jesus story. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year when I remember how spectacularly awesome is the idea of the Divine coming near and being in the muck and mess of the human story.

But like everyone else, I so easily get snowballed into the commercial blizzard that happens at this time of year and it totally stresses me out. Every year, I say I want to do Christmas differently, I want to focus on the real essence of the story and every year get to the 25th of December feeling utterly shattered and demoralised.

So I have asked myself,

 How do you want to feel this Christmas?

How do you want to feel this Christmas?

I want to feel joyful.

I want to feel present.

I want to feel abundant.

I want to feel peace.

If you’d like to join me, I’d like to invite you to come with me via Instagram and FB over the coming weeks as we intentionally create the season we want to experience. I’m going to be blogging and doing live videos over the coming weeks sharing my intentional attempt to Slow. The. Heck. Down. and realign my lived experience of this sacred time with my deep love of the Divine and the beautiful story of Immanuel/God with us. Even if you have no religious leanings or feelings about this, or your religious background or inclination is different, I invite you to join me and take a step out of the madness to discover what #Christmasfeels like for you.

I’m done with the commercial mess of this year, however I do want to support local business for whom this time of the year is their most important. With that in mind, I’m compiling a list of awesome small businesses that you might not know about and who you may wish to consider if you are buying gifts this season.  To get the first dibs on this list, subscribe to my newsletter by the end of next week when I’ll be releasing it for #GreenFriday…..

Yes you read that right…. it’s going to be a #GreenFriday this year! Sign up to learn more. 

 

Samhain

The nights are surely drawing in now. Once that clock goes back, you can really feel we’re heading into the dark. My children are on the half term holidays as I write and are excited about Halloween sweeties and dressing up.

I’m soaking the currants, raisins and sultanas in tea overnight so that  we can make our ‘breac’, the traditional fruit cake for this time of year. We’ll hide a ring, a coin and a piece of cloth inside and who ever gets the cloth will be provided for, whoever gets the ring will find love and whoever gets the coin will be rich. Or so the story goes.

We focus on Samhain in our house, more than Halloween and on the 1st of November, we’ll have a feast and party games and share stories of loved ones who have left this side of the story for their adventure on the other side. It’s the feast of All Saints, and in the Celtic tradition it’s a ‘thin’ time.  It’s seen as a time when the dear departed visit for a time in the land of the living.

I’ve hustled my children to help clean and tidy as I’ve told them that if my Mum’s spirit stops by I don’t want her to see a messy house! It’s been eleven years since she died from cancer and she never knew my children, never saw me own my own place. I’d like to think of her walking in and nodding in approval, marvelling at my children and proud of how far I’ve come, though I’ve no doubt she’d take issue with my yoga pants and hiking boots; ‘you’ve so many nice things to wear!’

I have been thinking of my Mum recently, dreaming of her quite a bit of late. She’s always pretty much the same as she was in life; practical, down to earth, a Mrs Fix-it if ever there was one. I think of all the people she supported and loved over the years, the wise insights that came from her deep devotion to her spiritual path. I think of her faith, right to the end, her faith in transformation and transfiguration, her hope that all is never lost.

As I embark on this journey as a Desire Map Facilitator, I hope I bring with me some of the wisdom she passed on to me. I like to think I’m continuing her work, forging onward on the journey. Though the path might diverge in many ways from hers and will take in different scenery, the destination anyway will be the same; Love.

Wishing you and yours a very blessed Samhain peace as you go into dark of winter and rest to restore you for Spring.

Melanie

There’s still time to sign up for my free 6 day online course called Free & Clear which starts on the 5th of November at 11am GMT. You can find out more and sign up here.

Shout Out – Mel Wiggins

About this time last year, an artist friend from Dublin posted a photograph of a gathering she was at with a bunch of creative women. They were in an orchard, wrapped in scarves and blankets. They were smiling, laughing, connecting. And they were in Northern Ireland!

I did a bit of digging and found out that Assembly was the brainchild of one Mel Wiggins and the more I read about this amazing woman, the more I wanted to be her friend. So, and I don’t know to this day how I had the balls, but I emailed her and said ‘I think we should be friends!’ And thankfully she didn’t think I was a loo-laa.

Mel has a passion for women, justice and sustainability and she lives out her passion in such a beautiful way, making stunning spaces for others to shine along with her.

I’m just finishing up her Movements online group coaching course and it has been transformative for me. She is a fierce and gentle facilitator who brings out the best in people.

She is the founder of Freedom Acts, a charity that raises awareness around issues of human trafficking in Northern Ireland. Freedom Acts has just teamed up with Aerende, the life-improving homewares store to make these stunning linen pouches. Every part of the chain of making aims to support and help women thrive through working with different organisations in each area.

Go make a cup of tea and sit down with us as we chat women, creativity, the Enneagram (?! look it up!), Assembly and Movements. It’s a terrific chat and I’m delighted to share it with you.

Head to iTunes to subscribe to the podcast or you can also listen in Soundcloud. Or click play right here.

To find out more about Assembly community and the wonderful gatherings Mel hosts go here.

Click on Freedom Acts for more information on what they’re doing in Northern Ireland.

To buy a stunning ethically made linen pouch bag that supports women in difficult circumstances, check out Aerende.

Or to just have a look at how fabulous Mel is, check out her website and maybe sign up for her free e-course A Simpler Start.

Free and Clear

I used to hate Hallowe’en.

The scary masks, the fake blood, the over-sugared children – it really is the stuff of nightmares. I was brought up in a home that didn’t celebrate Hallowe’en. We were taught that it was linked to the occult and therefore was evil. Ghouls, ghosts, witches, spells and scary stories were banned in my house. It wasn’t even the consumer, E number fest that it is today when I was growing up and let’s be honest, if anything is evil it’s the amount of sugar in haled by small kids in one evening.

Then in October 2016, I went to the Cliffs of Moher Retreat centre where I attended a Sovereign Woman Samhain retreat with yoga teacher and life coach Mari Kennedy. I was at the beginning of deep shift in consciousness and was beginning to emerge from the spiritual box I’d built for myself.

Mari incorporated yoga practice, Sacred Feminine teaching and the Celtic Calendar to explore issues of emotional and spiritual growth in women. To say I was out of my comfort zone would be an understatement. I was deeply invested in a patriarchal religious system while, at the same time, outgrowing the structures that surrounded me. I craved a connection with a more feminine spiritual authority but was stuck in the ‘good girl’ role of not wanting to rock the boat.

There was lots about that weekend that was transformative but the thing that resonated most strongly and which I’ve carried with me since is the profound importance of seasons and how the Celtic Calendar can be helpful to understand the ebb and flow of life.

Mari used Dolores Whelan’s excellent book Ever Ancient, Ever New as her textbook. She taught that the Celts charted the year by four seasons and were goverened by the lunar cycles. The four seasons are Samhain (winter), Imbolc (spring), Bealtaine (summer) and Lughnasa (autumn). Each season corresponds can correspond to a stage in life, a stage in a creative process and has connection with either lunar/feminine or solar/masculine energy. (I’d highly recommend getting Dolores’ book if you’re interested in further reading as it’s so accessible and engaging.)

Samhain (which incidentally is the Irish word for November) is the beginning of the Celtic year. In ancient Celtic culture, the three day Samhain festival was a pause for breath between the old year and the new, a time when people could relax after all the work of the harvest and preparation for the winter. It was a ‘time out of time’ when the veils between the seen and unseen were thought to be particularly thin, when ancestors were remembered and honoured. This is where we get the name All Hallow’s Eve, because 1st of November is still the day when we honour the souls (hallows) of those gone before. It was a time when normal societal rules were relaxed and tricks and pranks played on neighbours and friends.

It initiated the time of letting go, and allowing the body, soul and the land to rest in the darkness before the sun began it’s strengthening in the spring.

Understanding the true origins of this weird festival we call Hallowe’en, helped me reclaim it for myself and I now embrace the energy of fun and laughter, while at the same time using the time to reflect on what I need to let go in my life in order to continue to grow. It’s allowed me to keep a better physical rhythm, understanding that my body needs more rest during the cold months, more nourishing warm food and snuggles by the fire. More importantly, this is the time for the gaimos or feminine energy, the archetype of the crone in all her old age and wisdom.

It’s therefore the perfect time to take stock and reflect on all that the previous year has brought and start to gently feel out what the next will bring once energy is renewed ready for the spring. And with that in mind, I’ve decided to offer my first introduction to Desire Mapping as a licensed facilitator. (Whoop whoop!)

Starting on the 5th of November, I’m offering FREE & CLEAR – a prequel program to Danielle LaPorte’s highly praised and well-loved Desire Mapping process for soulful goal-setting. This is guided introspection to look at where you’re at in your life, what’s in your heart of hearts, what’s rubbing your spirit the wrong way, and how you define “free”—before you create your great plans. With that kind of clarity, manifestation becomes a super- charged process. And you can really put your Soul into your goals.

FREE & CLEAR incorporates six daily live videos and worksheets, private Facebook group and the chance to win a gorgeous 2019 Weekly Desire Map Planner (valued at £40).

The best news is that it won’t cost you a penny. This is a free offering, a taster if you will, to get you thinking about where you are so that you can begin to think about where you want to be.

The week of the 5th of November is also the week of the new moon, the official start of the Samhain season, so it’s a perfect opportunity to let your hair down, take some time out and snuggle into your soul’s embrace.

Sign up now for the course and let’s get Free and Clear together.

Aspire

Ever since I saw Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, I’ve wanted to be an actress. I can’t remember what age I was but it left a strong impression and a kind of ‘aha’ moment, that this was what I was going to be when I grew up.

In the film, Streep plays the forlorn and melancholic red haired beauty in 19th century England, who becomes fixated on a man (played by the tortured and stunning Jeremy Irons) who tries to help her and who, despite her reputation as a ‘fallen’ woman who had had an affair with a French soldier, falls in love with her. But she also plays the American actress making the film of the story who has an affair with her co-star. It was the fact that Streep plays two characters in the same film and with two different accents that was the light bulb moment. Doing voices, using my imagination to create characters was what I did very naturally already. There was a use for this gift, I reasoned, in acting.

And so, I aspired to become the ‘Irish Meryl Streep’.

I didn’t do too badly for a while. I got roles that enabled me to play characters with different accents, I got to play characters with complex stories. I’ve had a small measure of success as an actress. I got to work with Jeremy Irons’ wife Sinead Cusack and have his son Sam do my headshots, so I guess I’m a couple of degrees away from La Grande Dame du Cinema but I’m a far cry from achieving my goal.

If anyone deserves the title of ‘Irish Meryl Streep’, it’s the stunning actress Saoirse Ronan who I love to watch almost as much as the great actress herself.

The dictionary definition of the verb, ‘to aspire’ is

To direct one’s hopes or ambitions towards achieving something.

And it comes from the French word aspirer meaning to breathe.

Our hopes and ambitions can become the air we breathe. When we have a goal to strive for, it can become all-consuming. There’s not a thing wrong with ambition, indeed I’d like to see more women speak about their dreams, visions and ambitions but it’s really important that we direct our energies toward something that is going to be ultimately for our good and the good of those around us.

If I’d been determined to have ‘becoming the Irish Meryl Streep’ as the end goal of my life, if that had been my life-breath, then I think I’d be a fairly embittered, jealous and dissatisfied person right now. And, if I’m truly honest, I have wasted time and energy over the years coveting other people’s success and bemoaning my perceived lack of it.

What was engaging about seeing Meryl Streep in that film all those years ago was seeing someone thrive and excel at what they did. Seeing her switch from playing the frail and romantic red haired English woman to the autonomous, modern American actress. Here was a woman who was really good at what she did, and getting to do it as a job and also getting to reflect on the role, the industry, the role of women within the very story of the film itself. Her talent was recognised, she was seen.

The feeling of getting to do something you’re good at, getting to do work that you love, of being  seen, that’s what I really wanted. And there’s a really important differentiation to make at this point; there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to being recognised for your gifts and talents. It’s only when that core desired feeling isn’t met that the ego will turn to attention seeking and we make choices that are not in our soul’s best interest.

If all I wanted was to become the ‘Irish Meryl Streep’, I might have made choices that diminished my spirit. In knowing that what I really aspire to is to use my gifts, get to do what I’m good at and be seen, then I can direct my energy on working on my craft, becoming someone people enjoy working with, being professional in every aspect of career. But I can also derive satisfaction from writing a blog post and having a good friend write and say ‘I liked that, well done.’ I can get the same feeling when I make a meal that results in my children’s empty plates. I don’t need to be a famous, award winning actress to feel like a success. I don’t need that to feel enough.

When I’m on a stage, or a set, I feel more at home in myself than anywhere else. I love it! I love the energy that zings between me and the audience. I love the electricity that ripples between the other actors and I when we are being our very best. I aspire to being the best I can when I’m given the opportunity to play a character. But I don’t need to rely on it to feel whole. My desire can be fulfilled in other ways that allow my spirit to soar and my soul to breathe.

And for that I’m very grateful.

Longing

It’s been a week of a nasty viral bug that has knocked my energy for six and sent me crawling back to bed and sleeping the sleep of the dead. It’s only to be expected; the change of seasons, children back at school bringing home all manner of snot and phlegm encrusted germs.

Today is a teacher training day and so the children have a day off and I have promised them all a ‘jammy day’ at home. That includes me. We will get out to walk the dog early, then bring duvets down to the sitting room and stick movies on for the rest of the day. I’ll make soup, popcorn, maybe bake some wheaten bread. We’ll light the fire. We won’t budge for the day. Bliss.

So when it comes to desire I’m not that aflame with it this week. Desire speaks to me of fire, passion, something active.  I’m low energy, sore with headaches and stuffed sinuses. This week I thought I’d focus on ‘Longing’.

Longing speaks to me of an ache, a wound that has not fully healed. Longing speaks to me of missed opportunities, regrettable choices, lost chances that all build to leave us with a sense of a life not lived or half-lived. Longing speaks to me of time stretched thin, troubling dreams that hang on through the daylight hours, reaching back for what might have been and unable to see beyond a fog of melancholia.

Living in a state of longing is living in a state of unmet need and it can make us collapse in on ourselves. Like I said last week, when we don’t acknowledge our feelings, our sense of longing or desire, then we cut off a vast store of energy for change in our lives. Very often we don’t even know what we’re longing for. Just something, different to what we’re experiencing, somewhere, other than where we are. But if aren’t clear on what we’re aching for, then how can we take steps to move in the direction of our soul’s longing.

Here’s how I long to feel; strong, abundant, wild and free.

It has taken me a long time and good deal of patience to figure this out. I came across The Desire Map a couple of years ago when I was in the aftermath of a breakdown.  I had attempted to anaesthetise myself with activity, with lists of ‘to-do’ and even longer lists of ‘to-be’ and the heavy feeling in my chest was all I wanted rid of. I didn’t know how I wanted to feel, but I longed to stop feeling shit. It was utterly exhausting to be in a constant state of ‘not enough’, lack, scarcity, on a hamster wheel running from the truth of my own emptiness. I ached. I ached to the soul. The body can only take so much. My body broke down.

I was reading back over a journal from a year and half ago when I was six months into rebuilding following my breakdown. I was gifted with the opportunity to spend some time with friends in California to write and rest for a week amongst the redwoods. The journal entries from that time are full of longing; I was a mess of achey need. I couldn’t however identify the path through the fog.

On my return home, I bought the digital version of The Desire Map. I had read Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth and found her no-nonsense, grounded approach to wellness and personal development refreshing. I loved that she poked fun at her own search for meaning and the various permutations of spirituality she had tried on for size. I loved that she called Jesus her ‘homeboy’.

I’m not going to lie and say I did the Desire Map process and it changed my life overnight, no. But it started a path that helped me understand why, when I seemed to have everything I still felt empty. It helped me begin to see that I was often chasing goals that were not the ones that truest to me and why my ambition felt so in conflict with my spiritual life.

I was going for external results, things that ‘looked’ like success but that felt like lack. I needed to turn it inside out.

Over the past year, I’ve changed my focus with the help of The Desire Map. I’m far more in alignment with my True Self, my Spirit. I’ve been able to let go of things I was clinging to and in the space has entered so much more than I could have hoped or dreamed.

I’m still very much at the start of the journey, but I’m excited about where it’s taking me. And I’m excited that I get to share the process with others now. The ache of longing has been replaced with a spark of joy, it’s been a healing process. I am profoundly grateful.

Desire

It’s a word that makes me instantly uncomfortable. 

Perhaps it’s because of my evangelical Christian upbringing. Perhaps it’s just my Irish DNA. Perhaps it’s the reinforced message from the patriarchy that to be a woman and to desire is a bad thing. 

When I first came across Danielle LaPorte and The Desire Map, all my alarm bells rang. What was this woo woo shit that she was spouting? Feelings? Desires? Goals with soul?

Listening to her soothing Canadian drawl on podcasts was very alluring though and I was enamoured with her down to earth approach to ‘wellness’ and ‘light work’ (those phrases though! Ick!) But feelings? Desire?

No, no, no Miss LaPorte, we Irish women don’t have feelings. We learn from a very young age that you cannot do anything substantial if you base it on a woolly thing like feelings.

There are rules. There are morals. There are lines in which you firmly stay put. Feelings muddy the water. Feelings are messy things that spill over and affect other people if you’re not careful. If you have a lot of feelings, you’d better find something productive to do so that you can avoid them or at the very least keep them contained.

Here’s the thing. Feelings are messy but as anyone who has dealt with depression or addiction knows, feelings that aren’t felt and carefully dealt with can become toxic, even carcinogenic.

As women, particularly if you have been brought up in the Christian church, we’ve been told to sublimate our feelings, to sacrifice them on the Altar of Everyone Else. I think this is why as Irish women, we have a very special, very powerful super power;

Passive Aggression.

There’s an old joke that I think is funny but painful at the same time.

How many Irish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?

‘Ah sure, don’t you be worrying about me, off you go and have fun,

I’ll just sit here in the dark.’

 (c) Anne Taintor

Feelings that aren’t felt and expressed in a healthy way become resentments. Feelings that are ignored and denied become anger.  Feelings are messy but as anyone who has dealt with depression or addiction knows, feelings that aren’t felt and carefully dealt with can become toxic, even carcinogenic.

Behind every desire is a feeling and feelings will lead you to your soul.’

Danielle LaPorte

But what if you could choose how you wanted to feel and in choosing how you wanted to feel, you were able to make choices in your life that lead to deeper sense of fulfillment.

This is where The Desire Map comes in and I’m looking forward to sharing more about it with you in the coming weeks.

If you’d like to hear more, then why not go here to get information on when I’m starting workshops delivered straight to your inbox.

I’m back…with a woof!

Hi there,

I know, it’s been a while. I’m not even going to go into the whole ins and outs and the whys and wherefores of why I’ve not been blogging or vlogging or podcasting. Suffice to say, life.

I wrote the last post ‘How to survive the summer’ and felt really pleased with myself for how I was going to nail creativity and parenting and be able to share my amazing success come September.

Then we added a puppy into the mix…

Everyone told me that having a puppy would be like having a new born baby and I did that scoffing sound (pshaw!!) you make when you’ve already had 3 babies and how could a dog be anything like that. I mean, I won’t be breast feeding for goodness sake!

Yes well, they were wrong. It wasn’t like having a new born baby in the house.

It was worse.

Because a new born baby doesn’t nip and chew and wee all over the floor and run away from you when you know she’s got a piece of lego in her mouth and she’s determined not to let you have it.

Summer 2018 will be forever remembered as the summer we didn’t go anywhere because we couldn’t leave the puppy. It was the summer that the ‘real’ children found the cuteness wonderful until her tiny, innocent, playful puppy teeth grabbed their flesh. It was the summer when all my plans for getting them out of the house and in to nature on lovely walks with the dog were dashed and they spent more time on screens than ever before. Gah!

In fairness, the puppy is fab. She’s a little clever clogs and she’s settled in really well. Yes, it took a lot of adjustment. Yes, some plans had to be shelved but all in all, it was the best idea to get her when we were all at home to mind her and teach her.

We found her through Sophie’s Dog Foster Rescue who don’t have a centre as such but rather a network of foster carers who look after the dogs until their forever home can be found. Our wee pup was found in a hedge with her young mum and 3 siblings when she was two weeks old. A fabulous woman in Antrim took the whole family in and cared for them until the pups were big enough to find homes. We met all four of the litter and our little miss was a firm favourite. We’re delighted that every one of the family have found loving homes. A true happy ever after.

Sure, this all sounds like ‘my dog ate my homework’ but hey, it’s true.

And now we are back into the autumn term with a bang and I have lots of fabulous things to share and one big announcement which subscribers of my newsletter will hear first – so if you want to get ahead of the crowd, sign up!

The children are back at school which means I’ve more time on my hands than I’ve had in nearly 8 years!

I’ve sooo much to share. Stay tuned!

 

How to survive the summer

IMG_1033

I’m going to be honest. I’m knackered. It’s that time of year when the countdown is on to the end of term. If I get another reminder in someone’s lunch box for something not handed in or paid for, I think I might scream. Only 5 more mornings hustling three children out the door. Only 5 more afternoons begging them to remember to bring their own stuff in from the car, to put their lunch boxes in the kitchen, to do their homework before they numb out on screens. I CANNOT WAIT.

Always at this point, I rub my hands with glee thinking of lazy mornings drinking coffee in my garden while the children play. I imagine picnics on the beach. I plan crafting games and projects. I essentially create an avatar of the perfect homey mum in my head and determine that this year I’m going to give them a summer to remember.

We’ve never gone in for putting the children in camps or activities for the summer months. For a start it’s expensive trying to pay for three children. The deal has always been that me being at home would mean we’d save money on childcare costs. Also, my three are at the age now where they can play together and generally (generally) they are good pals and enjoy each other’s company.

We’re not getting a holiday away this year. (Again, 3 children = wildly expensive holidays!) Last summer was completely taken over with moving house/country and setting up our new home. Now that we’re more settled, we’re going to stay put and explore our local area because honestly, when the sun’s out, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than on the North Down coast. Give it its due, Northern Ireland has a ton of stuff to enjoy for families in the summer, most of it either free or relatively inexpensive.

But there will come a point (probably about a few days in, if I’m honest) when I will suddenly remember that I really, really love my work and need to work and the eight weeks of uninterrupted child full holidays will look pretty scary!

So here are some tips that I’m going to try to keep myself sane and keep the work ticking over while I have my three maniacs around and no money to pay for child care.

  1. Lower expectations – Look, I know I’ve not ever seen you and WonderWoman in the same room but I’m pretty sure you’re not actually her. There is only so much one woman can do with there are small humans in the mix so expecting to keep the same level of productivity is just not a good idea. So don’t beat yourself up!
  2. Get efficient –  Make lists but be really strict about what is completely neccessary to complete and do those things first. Stream line and weed out of your ‘to do’ list everything that is not a priority because if you leave it in there, believe me, you’ll do it and avoid the stuff that is truly imperative.
  3. Create ‘quiet time’ – no, really, stop laughing. This is where screens can be a godsend. Let there be no judging but my kids are allocated an hour of screen time a day (and usually that bleeds over into more time) but it’s amazing what you can get done in an hour if you’re focussed. Set a timer and together as a family agree that when it goes off, all screens get put away.
  4. Include your children – I know, I was just a little bit sick in my mouth too, but if your work is in any way creative, little people love to ‘help’. Get the pens, paper, crayons, paint, and do your thing while they do their thing. (But yes, that might not be practical at all. I mean, can you really imagine me doing a self-tape audition with my 10 year old reading in for me? Nope, neither can I. She’d freaking photo bomb, upstage and get the gig herself! In which case…)
  5. Rope in help in the shape of family and friends – I am the luckiest woman in the world with my father in law, affectionately known to my kids as Bapoo. He loves nothing more than to hang out with my children and I’m planning on working out a morning or two a week maybe when he gets time with them all by himself. But if you haven’t got family close by, perhaps you could do playdate swaps with another parent. Choose carefully, mind. You don’t want the parent with the kid who loves to burn stuff but I know two mums locally whose children I adore and who get on well with mine and if they’re happy to have my terrors then I’ll mind theirs for a couple of hours once a week, no bother.
  6. Get up super early – with these bright nights we’re getting in the Northern Hemisphere, getting the children to bed has been a real chore. My four year old routinely insists ‘But mumma, is still MORRRRnin!’ and he’s horrified that he’s going to bed before the birds roost in the trees opposite our house. (That was our winter thing, ‘Look sweetheart, all the birds are going to bed now at 4:30 in the afternoon, you’re getting to stay up waaaaay later than them!’) But the plus side is that they tend to stay in bed a bit later. Soooo, if you go to bed when it’s still light too, then you could get up before them and get some stuff done. I know, I know that sounds barbaric of me. What about Netflix and wine and winding down adult time? On that note….
  7. Avoid alcohol – No, wait, don’t scroll on. Keep reading. I know, I know what I’m suggesting is downright MEAN and you can roll your eyes like your own pre-teen at me all you like BUT if you want really good, really deep sleep so that you can handle a summer of creativity and parenting closing the wine fridge door is seriously a good idea. I’m fessing up here; I love a glass of chilled white wine on a summer’s evening or a G & T or a cold beer or a vodka martini with a twist of lemon… Where was I? Oh yes, it doesn’t feel like summer without an alcoholic beverage of some sort or other BUT I know I sleep better, have more energy, wake up more alert and have the COOLEST dreams (hello Chris Hemsworth dear!) when I lose the booze. Even one drink can wreck my sleep which is seriously annoying. I feel amazing when I go tee total. So I’ve got to find other ways of dealing with the inevitable crazy making of small humans than cracking open a bottle of Sauv Blanc.
  8. Create – When I create I feel good. When I feel good I can manage just about anything. I have taken it upon myself to take up knitting, crochet, painting stones, sewing, anything that involves making something from nothing and it’s given me something to keep the creative spark alive even in the driest times professionally. It doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t have to be shown to anyone but my children who all thing everything I make is amazing anyway. It keeps me going and keeps me sane. Having a sane mother is every child’s dream – so win, win.

I am not the world’s most patient mother. I don’t naturally thrive in the home environment. I’m not a domestic goddess. Mary Poppins, how are ya!? I itch and scratch through every stage of my children’s childhood, dying for them to be bigger and more independent while simultaneously missing their chubby arms and gappy smiles. But here I am, with a 10 year old, a 7 year old and a 4 year old and the days are flying past. I can curse the lego littered living room all I like, but one day, I’ll crave the mad creations of my wee artists.

For me, the most important thing to do is to breathe and stay present and not to wish the time away.

Enjoy the summer! No, seriously, do… enjoy it!

For more creative inspiration, why not subscribe to the Strut and Bellow podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can always listen to an episode while you’re making the dinner or pretending to sleep through the sixth rerun of Wall-E with your earphones in. You can watch my Shout Out Fridays on the Strut and Bellow YouTube Channel. Or sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you my ebook Keeping Creative for free. If you’d like a hardcopy to take with you to the beach, it will soon be available to order from this website. Stay tuned for the latest on Instagram and Facebook.IMG_1026