It’s ok to be scared

Lots of things freak me out:

  • small enclosed spaces
  • big insects (except crickets they are fine…probably thanks to Disney and the noise they make, its nice and you know where they are, they aren’t sneaky)
  • the idea that I can be watched through my computer
  • large waves (yup dreams of being a surfer or sailor are lost on me now)
  • the idea that Michael Burke’s voice will start commentating and I am actually in an episode of 999
  • china dolls and porcelain clown faces.
  • not bats as such but the scene where they swarm at Batman/Bruce Wayne in the cave…yup that does not look like fun
  • most public toilets
  • being falsely accused of drug smuggling (please note I would never be rightfully accused of it…its not in my plans for future career path) this is mainly due to the film Brokendown palace.

Please note I am very aware how much this list highlights my privilege in life, and how fortunate I am that I don’t face discrimination down to my skin colour, have the freedom to practise my religious beliefs and have the ease of not facing daily hardships.

But sometimes there are things in life that scare the heebeejeebies out of you because they are what you want. I guess its because the destination you have been aiming for has arrived and the possibility of losing it becomes very real, or maybe its because you don’t feel like you deserve it or are unsure of whether you can handle it once its here.

And that is when the real fear settles in-because often it feels like all of this is out of your control. That may be true…some aspects of life are completely out of our hands and that is scary-you cannot prevent accidents or protect yourself from heartbreak. You can, of course, invest, prioritise and reflect on how things are going…you can take M.O.Ts of your life…but nothing is completely full proof.

For me being pregnant, and actually also in my marriage I have faced real fear and anxiety. I have felt overwhelmed and powerless that I would lose something so valuable. And then I have felt guilty, guilty that I had what others so badly wanted and yet I was wasting my time not enjoying the situation but stressing out about it. Guilty, that maybe I wasn’t the mum/wife she/he deserved.

I have found it helpful to acknowledge these feelings but also to make a point of speaking out against them, praying in peace instead of fear, trying to take the power away from the worry and anxiety. These are feelings that mark my everyday but they are not my whole being…they will not steal my joy.

That is easier said than done-and please hear me when I say sometimes professional help is what is needed to help guide you towards peace-it often takes more than a statement or willing something to change.

But if you are in that stage of being scared about something great I know that feeling and so do lots of us. But one thing to remind yourself of is that this fear is rarely logical or rational-it is a worry of what might/could happen-not what definitely will.

However, for the worlds sake don’t buy china dolls or clowns!

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Goodness Gracious

I am babysitting and I am trying not to eat all the chocolate…there is so much chocolate and good stuff in this house, damn babysitting and leaving out all the sweets. When we have babysitters I do the same thing but often hardly any of it gets touched-such self control is so impressive. I am not sure I have it.

Today, someone commented that I had been gracious in a certain situation-I am not sure its true, because I think there is an assumption that graciousness is being nice and the absence of frustration and bitterness. Although I don’t feel bitter about that particular situation but I can’t claim there to be no frustration lingering. Anyway I looked it up-always good to get the right definition and here we are:

gracious
adjective
1.1
  1. courteous, kind, and pleasant, especially towards someone of lower social status.
    “a gracious hostess”

     

Ermmm probably not me, I hope that I am kind and compassionate…but pleasant and a gracious hostess (I mean I am a very ‘help-yourself-to-whatever’ kind of hostess, I have taken ‘make yourself at home’ for the literal truth).

It just sounds a bit drab…a bit meh, weak and frankly a tad patronising.

******************The rest of this post was continued the following day****************

But when I think of grace-I don’t think of weak, softly spoken, pastel coloured cushions…I think of strong, mysterious, all consuming and empowering. I don’t think of ‘pleasant’ I think of ‘power’. I think of seeing someone in all the flaws, insecurities and brokenness and yet only noticing their courage, potential and beauty and doing whatever you can to encourage that individual to be them with pride, even it costs you something.

I want to be that kind of gracious, the real goodness kind of gracious.

The one where empathy and humanity trumps anger and bitterness.

That is not easily gained.

Last night on social media, I ended up getting into a few discussions about political issues, and it was infuriating. I mean seriously…banging your head against the wall type of conversations. But, I kept thinking ‘don’t just argue Jen, actually try and say things they will hear but might make them calmly think about the issue from a different perspective’. It was probably the most reflective and self aware I have ever been…and to be honest, later into the night I found my self control slipping as anger was showing its ugly head.

 

But then something happened, I made a mistake-it was a complete accident, and no horrific consequences came from it. I am not going to share the story because it involves others and I don’t feel it is mine to share.

But then came the torrent of memories of other mistakes I have made in the past; secrets I have not kept, actions that have not been thought through, times I have let people down-and I felt like crap-it was a sobering rest of evening. It also included that awkward time when I had to explain to the others what I had done..

But then my messed up self was met with grace, like water on our parched lawn, the relief and the gratitude abounding.

Maybe I should work on this #gracious thing and also follow lorraine kelly’s advice ‘only put stuff on social media that you’d want your mum to see’. (She’s a gem Lorraine…Mike thinks she goes on too many holidays…we are just jealous)

 

 

like a breath of fresh air

Yesterday I went to see a friend who has a 10 week old bubba and she said I just don’t know where the me part has gone.

And oh I remember those times, I feel I am still in those times…my body is no longer feeding her but she still wants to be in my arms for comfort…and I love it…but where do I end and she begin…its all a blur…and its magical. But I have always identified myself as an individual before her, even though I am married, it was still Jen and Mike-I was an entity of my own.

And then she arrived into the world, and her joy and smiles became a life source, her cries and pain ripped me in two. But sometimes when she falls asleep I wonder where am I? Now she is at the stage I am no longer shattered to the point where I will be a space zombie any time I have 2 seconds without her demanding something…well most the time at least, 10am at playgroups seems to still do this to me?! And this piece isn’t to say I don’t love being a mum-I do and it brought life to me that I couldn’t have imagined.

But it is possible to feel lost and found at the same time…and pretending that one makes the other disappear doesn’t help. In addressing all the parts of us-we enrich the whole of us.

As I sat there next to my mate I wanted to reassure her, you will find you again I said. It just may be in pockets of time you least expect it and also you may be disappointed when moments you were sure would bring you back to yourself actually feel the most disorientating.

I think regardless of the reasoning we all have moments where we feel like we’ve lost what we were about. Maybe it’s a skill or passion you feel you have neglected or that those around you identify you by something you wish they didn’t? And sometimes the path to feeling ‘you’ again isn’t always found by retracing old steps.

Because we are always changing, and growing and adapting-so we can’t expect things to fit back into an old spot.

For example, I spent hours thinking I can’t wait to get out for a night and yet when I finally did I found myself in a pub chatting to a new Dad about teething and playdates… it wasn’t a bad thing, but I was thinking surely every aspect of my life doesn’t need to be directed by my baby?

But then tonight I got together at my neighbours house in the garden, and there was a lot of mum chat…and I got excited about having a few glasses of wine and was probably too loud, and sharing the same story over and over again. I honestly think my enthusiasm (which included me offering countless times to give them a tour of the local allotments…it was 10pm), was more to do with feeling like me again than the wine I was drinking.

Sometimes all we need is space and time to be reminded of who we are and where our home is.

I am definitely at home in late evenings in the garden, laughing and chatting and dreaming with friends. Its like I breathed in a little piece of me.

 

 

 

 

 

You were there in my fear

This isn’t a birth story…but it is graphic, and you may not fancy reading it. That’s cool, scroll on by-it’s not always helpful to read everything or to hear every story. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are missing out on something vital…this is where I bleurgh out my thoughts and process all my crap-some of this will not be interesting or relevant.

But on the 70th Birthday of the NHS, I wanted to share the moment I encountered all that is wonderful about the National Health Service. When the NHS stood by me, cared for me, held my dignity and personhood together when I felt just a bit broken.

It is not the moment I gave birth to my daughter, although the midwives, surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, ODPs, porters, HCA’s,  consultants and paediatricians were all incredible and did life saving work-but it was not that moment.

I don’t have a lot of emotional memory from the day my daughter was born…I was so pumped full of drugs that the whole thing seems a bit detached from me (and sometimes that makes me sad and most the time I am mainly just grateful). I was a bit of a space cadet, flying high on morphine and all of her friends that I was very relaxed.

Fast forward 9 hours, when I realised I had a baby and I saw her properly for the first time-and then I became a bit of a mess-those photos are not pretty and that experience though sacred because that was when I met my daughter were also savage.

An hour later, when feelings were flooding through me with relentless speed and I could now just about walk…I went to the loo to wash my face and as I was shuffling back I felt liquid just pour out of me which was unexpected because I had a catheter in (sorry its not pretty but these are the joys of a postpartum body).

I stopped, paralysed by the sight of this pool of blood on the floor and for the first time in this whole 24 hour process I was scared. Bleeding after birth is completely normal but with the section, baby in neo-natal care, expressing milk out of me like I was cow and the many drugs I hadn’t really thought about what the ‘normal’ trajectory for my body was.

It was 1am I was standing in a corridor, really scared and unsure what to do and calling for my husband to get someone. He came back seconds later with this incredible Filipino woman who was about half my height and a quarter of my width. She guided me back to bed and cleaned me up. She held my hand and reassured me it was normal and treated me with such kindness, talked to me about my baby. Her words and actions reminding me that however nervous and confused I was about all that was happening and would happen, I was a mum now and I could do it. She encapsulated care in my time of need. I will never forget that moment in the middle of the night, where I was physically the biggest I hope I will ever be but also the most vulnerable and overwhelmed.

That lady restored some sense of dignity (mainly in the form of a giant adult nappy-gosh who’d have thought that would bring dignity!!)

This is the NHS it isn’t ideal and there are mistakes that have huge consequence and damage but there are also many more little moments that equally have life transforming effects. That listening ear, that surgeons skill, the patience and perseverance and the love.

I have needed to see women’s physios (thank the Lord for these sweet angels who are helping me save my pelvic floor) and gynaecologists since having my daughter. It is not the ‘bounce back’ story that some people desire for but its my story of reconnecting my body and mind…of keeping my marriage together and my identity restored.

I am forever grateful for their talent and their kindness which are needed in equal measure. That is what makes the NHS beautiful, that is what we are paying an fighting for.

As solid as a rock

Today I am dressed so that I resemble a strawberry-by that I mean that I am wearing a red polka dot vest and my hair is up in a high bun with hair sprouting out…I am also eating a strawberry split ice lolly-all because I am hoping to go to a PYO strawberry farm later today. I am attempting to win around my husband, who thinks its over priced and too hot to go in the car. He has some good points but I have a campaign strategy that includes an outfit…it will be a hard battle, but I believe I will be victorious.

But I wanted to share with you a little precious moment that happened the other day. I was at a women’s conference-which traditionally I struggle with, but credit where credit is due I do find our churches ones to be insightful and encouraging. This one I cannot claim to have got much inspiration from, mainly because I spent the few hours I was there chasing around my daughter and trying to keep her busy with endless snacks and the odd toy I had brought with me. It was a poor combination and it didn’t work out too successful.

As I wandered around following her in and out of the doors, I was struck by how distant I felt from the whole experience. I was reminded of that scene in the Letdown where the main character is travelling on the bus after taking her newborn to a club because she didn’t want to miss out, and then see’s a group of girls drinking wine from a box on the back of the bus and then starts crying for the life she no longer has. (Disclaimer that was a crappy description the programme is brilliant and worth a watch, its on Netflix).

Now I am not trying to say a women’s conference is my version of a night out-its not, I do love a good dance and a drink with friends-but I also love learning (slight geek but still feel rebellious because my stationery has rude words on it!)

I love to sink my teeth into something and really wrestle with it…and right now that part of my life seems near on impossible. Even when I don’t have my daughter with me, I still feel tired or wondering if she is ok and has everything she needs. I find myself getting distracted because I am thinking about flippin shopping lists (we always need something), or how nice/clean the person next to me looks/smells and whether they have loads of money or they just spend time looking after themselves?

Anyway there I was feeling glum (honestly glum is such a brilliant word isn’t it?) and my daughter put her hand in mine and left a little stone-a bit like a rich person subtly giving their waiter/waitress a tip. I looked at the smooth stone she had left me with and truth be told I nearly cried. (I didn’t because I have started to get a handle on this crazy emotions just a mere 15 months after having her.)

I was so grateful for the little reminder that she roots me and grounds me in my current season of life. She is not my best friend, because 1) I am her mum and that is more than enough, (2) I am hoping she will have her own best friends in time, and (3) also I would be gutted if my best friend was a 15 month old who can’t really talk, likes to eat soil as much as cake and can’t watch Love Island. Finally (4) she has a long way to go to live up to my actual friends, see previous post on their brilliance.

But she is my daughter, she is who I am investing in and she is enough.

Obviously I hope the gifts from her will improve-the rock is lovely (And like the sentimental schmuck that I am I will keep it) but hopefully she will learn the joy of giving flowers, books, cake (ideally not made out of mud) and other desirable things.)

It is ok to be grounded by life, and it is ok to find the adjustment hard but there is good in this season too-there can be foundations laid here and strength to be found.

 

It’s gettin hot in here…

…But don’t worry I haven’t taken off all my clothes, in spite of the seductive lyrics that Nelly once sang. I think I am less enticed because I couldn’t understand why his signature style included a plaster on his face? I just don’t think First Aid is sexy, practical and necessary yes but glam and cool no. But because I am fully clothed I am sitting here a sweaty mess, eating a kit kat chunky which has come from my husbands suit pocket (so must have been purchased last year at the earliest)…yup it went out of date 2 months ago, and yet I will finish it because I am committed, and have a slightly unhealthy obsession with chocolate!

 

So imagine me, if you will, in my sweaty chocolate state-or maybe not if you want to stay friends with me.

Anyway I am here to say I am so fortunate to have the best people in my life.

Seriously, I may have a houseful of clutter to sort, a filing system that can at kindest be described as ‘quirky’, a serious lack of financial independence, and have forgotten how to drive (this will be changing shortly) and how to knit (sorry Christine) and how to internet bank (my mum has a fear of it and I think she has passed it on)-But bloomin heck I have the best friends, like premium, top shelf (not in that way….), the creme de la creme!

I mean seriously…you are the BEST. And here’s a few examples of why:

  • For supporting me in my fancy dress aims, which always had grand visions and a more ‘interesting’ reality. Whether it was painting yourself green with poster paint to be a dragon, or dressing up as a gnome for a silent ‘G’ party (with beard, fishing rod, and watering can with drinks in), or helping me weave plastic snakes into my hair for medusa, helping me get home when I was a gorilla (the worst decision for fancy dress when you’re 17 and have just started college) or joining me in being a dragon in a bra, green leggings and a cardboard nose as we paraded around Bristol. Big Props go to Martin for joining Bex and I in this endeavour!
  • For being willing to help fundraise for a million different charities; for turning up in your droves to music nights, ceilidhs, Fair trade tea parties, protests, sponsored bounces, walks, runs and silences (Yes I once did a sponsored silence). For listening to me go on about causes and projects, even though you were probably the person who introduced me/educated me on the issue in the first place.
  • For watching crap TV with me….from obsessing over Save by The Bell on Saturday morning, to wanting to be as cool as Moesha on Trouble after school, to Dawsons Creek getting me through my late teens and a million other shows between then and Love Island.
  • For the cards/letters in secondary school even though we saw each other every single day.
  • The exciting post now when it comes.
  • For helping me celebrate every little festival I can get my hands on-I have adopted many into my fold. DISCLAIMER: I mean like Thanksgiving and Passover, I would love to say I am trendy and have been to loads of music festivals…sadly its not true, I’ve been to about 3-and 2 of them were very small, practically unknown…and not in a cool way.
  • For bearing with me when I ask direct questions about personal matters-I am still learning social boundaries, and I appreciate questions on your fertility process whilst you’re at work may not be appropriate.
  • For running around and just laughing whether in corn fields, parks, beaches or the woods, or any open space.
  • For joining in with me rather than hanging up when I called you on the University internal phone system and sang the lyrics to ‘Never Ever’ without saying anything else.
  • For the pilgrimage to Dollywood one summer, and the regular ones made to Lyme Regis in my teenage years.
  • For going on theme park rides even though you were freaking out about the height, drop and spins! For terrifying, near death experiences on the log flume.
  • For going on walks whatever the weather.
  • For supporting my coffee shop addictions from Starbucks in my teen years to cool independents in Brighton to anywhere that serves good coffee now.
  • For dancing on coffee tables with me to Whitney and Tina, and crawling on the floor to Destinys child, and pretending I could break dance by dancing with me to Run DMC and dancing in the rain and thunderstorms in Brazil and Rwanda.
  • For talking about sex, identity, faith and beliefs, politics, our bodies, anger, waxing, crap TV, serious documentaries, emotional wellbeing, mental health, why squirrels and ducks are great, why Dolly is amazing, how its all connected…or for listening to me when I rant on.
  • for helping me with my make up and to feel good about how I looked.
  • For picking up the phone when I sometimes cannot get the words out, and for just being with me when I have nothing left to give.
  • For praying for me, or for understanding that prayer is something really important to me even when I don’t understand it.
  • For feeding me chocolate and pic’n’mix and wine and gin.
  • For the holidays spent in the arcade, or the summer camps spent larking about in a field.
  • For listening to me sing or do fake celebrity interviews in the mirror and not taunting me for the rest of my life.
  • For the ridiculous stories we made up and stories we became part of.
  • For accepting my apology when I have overstepped the mark, and for challenging me when I have not always realised it.
  • For the house parties and the helping tidy up after the house parties.
  • For letting me crash at your house-and esp for those where I stayed longer than we were expecting.
  • For the car journeys, whether crammed in the back of a mini, or in a jeep waving at the people behind us or singing along to Galaxy 101.
  • For helping me overcome massive changes, and for helping me become a better wife, mum, friend and person.

I love you and I am so grateful

When the plan changes

I am not the kind of girl who has a 5 year plan, neither am I the one who hoped she’d get married by a certain age or have kids by the time I was 30, peak in my career at 35 etc… However, someone did tell me a statistic that we hit our physical peak in our 40s (but then crushed my dreams that somewhere in me was a marathon runner by qualifying her stat with ‘I think its about men’). Truly gutted! Obviously, I could just work my arse off and then I could probably at least manage a half marathon in my future. I am just not sure if I want to.

So this time a month ago I thought it was pretty much a done deal that I would be heading back into youth work-which made me both excited but also slightly nervous at how this would all work out now I have a small one. I was attaching other plans to the belief that employment was looming. Some of them serious; childcare, replacing my husbands’ dying computer, being excited about strategy and developing something and freeing up my husband financially to dream again too. But also some slightly ridiculous ideas; if I was a working mum does that mean we were more organised, and ‘adulting’ better and therefore we would take the inevitable next step and get a cat? Would a childminder/nursery ensure proper footprint/handprint cards were made for fathers/mothers day…because that’d be really helpful because I just can’t do them-I don’t think a indistinguishable purple sparkly mark on a card really says ‘I love you Daddy’ in a personal way?!

As I am sure you have worked out by now, I didn’t get the job and in quite a clear, unforeseen way. I was a bit thrown by it all…and also just unsure what I should do-everything dreams and decisions were thrown up in the air, and I am left wondering which bit I should be trying to find first. A bit like a crap crystal dome, but except for gold and silver tokens its just my fears, disappointments, hopes and pet ideals! And you almost don’t want to go for anything because you don’t want to pick up the shit things by accident. You know you were aiming to focus on building your confidence in job situations but instead you end up grabbing guilt over crap parenting and too much screen time.

Anyway I listened to a bloomin good preach by Jo Dolby-who is an absolute legend and it was entitled ‘When the plan changes’ (yup I stole it). It was based on Jonah 4 and how we can struggle when things don’t take the logical path we plan in our minds. She read out the following poem:

For you:

For the highs and lows

and moments between,

mountains and valleys,

rivers and streams,

for where you are now

and where you will go,

for “I’ve always known,”

and “I told you so,”

for “nothing is happening,”

and “all has gone wrong,”

its all in this journey

you will learn to be strong.

And to get where you are headed,

you are where you belong.

Morgan Harper Nichols

And I think there are lots of us inhabiting this space of ‘this isn’t where I thought I’d be’ but maybe it is the place of ‘where we are meant to be’. And that throws up lots of questions doesn’t it? Questions about expectations and identity, of what success is and who decides? And where do we go from here? This isn’t what I thought was happening, and in my case ‘I thought God was opening a door here, and if that not the case (and it isn’t) what is actually blooming going on?

In many respects the next step is fairly clear to me I still need to get a job-but right now I want to engage with my present situation and who that is shaping me to be. Who am I if I am not employed? I get embarrassed telling people I still haven’t found a job, I feel ashamed that I can’t seem to shrug this status off, and I find it hard to own being a ‘stay at home mum’ because I didn’t necessarily choose it or plan for it. But that exposes some serious insecurities and assumptions I have and should probably let go off.

Also I always have my back up plan; writing rude words on stationery (I appreciate that every Year 7 child has probably done this but not with my style and finesse!!)

Massive love goes out to the friends who have recently found their lives turned upside down; jobs finishing, relationships ending and things not coming to fruition like they thought they would.

Here’s to the resolving, reevaluating and the rebuilding.

Hear me roar

I am angry, like on the edge rage, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

I am mad as hell at what we are doing to each other, and I am annoyed at myself for letting it go on in my periphery; justifying my inaction because I am not directly involved and its not my battle to fight.

And then on Tuesday night I watched the ‘Florida Project’ -which is a great film, but there is a scene with a kid crying, like properly heart wrenching sobbing and all I could think of is someone hold that baby, someone ensure that child knows they are loved and safe.

It is a film, a beautiful film I should add.

But then I went onto the BBC news page and saw there was an audio file taken at the US/Mexico Border and I started to listen to it…and I fell to pieces. Because this was real life, these were children wailing and scared and traumatised and it wasn’t fake and it was now.

When people are being treated in an inhumane way we should call it out. I am not an American, but I am a human and I know when someone cries like that then something is going seriously wrong.

It is injustice, and it needs to be called out and not ignored. Whether it is in front of you or half the world away. There is power and significance in saying I see this and I will not just walk on by.

It is not the only injustice in the world, but that does not mean we should side step one to concentrate on another. Every life should be honoured, respected and protected-all are sacred.

Which gets me on to the part I find most diabolical-the use of Scripture to justify treating people badly. The Bible has some seriously hard texts in-ones that we should wrestle with, challenge, debate and pray about…and we will have different interpretations (each believing theirs is the right one which makes for some interesting times) but ultimately we all (those who call themselves Christians/Followers of Jesus) stand on this truth that God is love.

Also the Bible is literally full of commands to look after the stranger in the land. So to hear it read aloud as a justification for separation, for pain and trauma to be inflicted on others…well that is when it gets abhorrent for me. That is when I cry ‘False Prophet’ and start grieving for the state that we are in.

The Bible lays down a life long challenge to Love others and Love God-that is not always easy, and sometimes it is not clear how best to do it. But it is what I believe we are made to do.

I am sick of counter arguments being an excuse for inaction. I am sick that we can get tied up in semantics about validity of pictures or statement whilst ignoring the main issues-Yes, we should fact check, Yes, we should do our research, Yes, it may be complex

BUT sometimes it good to go with your gut, your moral compass-at least let it initiate more time looking into something.

A huge part of my parenting is based on gut reactions, and that is scary but it tends to be right. And my daughter is everything to me.

But your daughters and sons are also precious to me, and their cries have not gone unheard. I don’t know what I can do but give, speak up, challenge and pray like I have never done before-hear me roar for Justice, for healing and for mercy on us all.

 

 

Dads/Papas/Fathers and Friends

Its Fathers Day and let us celebrate all the good father figures in our lives.

The ones who have guided and advised us,

held us when we have cried or lost our footing,

taught us how to gain new skills even when it was scary (driving),

tried to help us revise and do homework,

held their tongue when we’ve pushed them to the edge,

shown up for us time and time again,

loved us and laughed with us,

listened to our stories/shows/explanations of new inventions and seen our collection of snails and stones, feathers and shells with awe and interest,

Played chase and imaginary games for the millionth time,

told us stories and tales late into the evening when our eyes are heavy,

danced and sang when they really didn’t want to,

picked up sticks and leaves and carried them faithfully,

fixing our broken things and helping us mend our broken hearts,

allowed their jumpers and shirts to become tissues for our runny noses and dribbly mouths,

and shown us new parts of the world and different ways to see things.

Whether they were there for a short time, or not long enough. Whether they were our biological dads or just someone who cared enough to step in those shoes. Whether they were confident in it all or nervously just trying.

Thank you.

And for those that didn’t always have this, or never at all-may we seek to be this for others, and support and encourage Dads around us-may there be healing and redemption through the way we live.

Thank you for those who choose to be different to what they experienced.

 

Parenting is not easy but it is life giving-it is love in action. And for those who have helped raise me-both my Dad and the community I have been and continue to be raised in. For my husband and our friends who continually pour themselves out for our daughter and others.

Thank you

Extroverted hole

I love people-love em-all of them, except when they annoy me or do something really really hurtful to others-then I struggle to love them. At those points I want to find old reruns of Dawsons Creek (4OD) and get lost in the beautiful and overly emotive world of the Creek-and look at Pacey and remind myself of the life we would have had if we’d met and sailed around the world laughing at everything and be tanned, beautiful, sarcastic people.

Obviously that is just a fantasy/nightmare (I currently have a fear of being out of my depth in water) and I am very happy with my life as it is. (Except it could be slightly improved by having hair that behaves, and a body less drawn to cake and gin)

Anyway, as per usual I have digressed..I am an extrovert. I am a classic case, there is no mistaking it..

My husband is the opposite-a clear introvert, he loves time away from people it delights him (and we as his family are included in that…Faith is more of an exception than I am).

We often have discussions about socialising and how I don’t always appreciate how hard he can find it. That is true, and over time we have come to understand and find a medium that works for both of us.

But occasionally I find myself surrounded by people and not finding it natural at all. I feel distance, and insecurity whispers anxiety driven doubts in my ear questioning my words and actions. A world which often feels so familiar loses it bearings and I feel lost by the friends I am surrounded by.

It is not them, it is me.

But I guess what I wanted to express is even extroverts don’t always find it easy being with people.

Yesterday was my birthday and often this is the day I struggle most with it.

I am not sure if its because I have unrealistic ideas of what a birthday will be like; thanks to every American teen TV show. Or more perhaps that it feels like it should be the time I want to see people the most. And yet it is the time I am most insecure, most paranoid and fearful.

A few friends popped in on my birthday this year, and that was nice-there was no hype, or expectation-they were lovely and it was great to see them. But even then I wonder whether I should have done more, put something on.

For my 30th, I went away with my family-it was what every family break ever is in my family; a lot of laughter and food, getting lost on a walk, my mum worrying if everybody has everything, lots of full on debates…and wine which makes it all flow a bit smoother for us. And it was great-I didn’t feel any pressure or want it to be anything other than what it was.

I love attention and I love gifts-but on my birthday I also like some away time, some simple things-breakfast with my family, a good glass of wine, laughing with friends, watching Faith trying to feed her friends fake food (it’s because she’s trying to fill them up on felt fruit so she cane at more real cake…my girl always has a plan when it cmes to food!)

I guess this is meant to be a little note not at all to say ‘pity me I struggle on my birthday with getting shown too much love’…(because that makes anyone sound like a big knob) but despite being loud and loving people, sometimes even the extroverts in us are scrabbling with social situations not knowing what to do.

If only we had friends who lived on the creek that we could climb through their window late at night (because that’s not a tad creepy) and they could explain life using whatever theme of metaphors was set for that season…in case you are wondering it would be birthdays for this scenario. There would be metaphors, similes and moralistic advice all linked to balloons, wrapping paper, blowing out candles etc…

I mock it but I love it…shame on me!! Oh Pacey, lets get a boat and go sailing