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Lifestyle,

Growing Through a Phase?

Growing Through a Phase?

When you’re interest changes from weekend shopping centers and Sunday hangovers to crisp village walks and roast dinners….

There’s a time in life where you will question your life choices. You will wonder why? What if? And most of all did I make the right decision? Everyone will have a moment of self doubt and a moment of self belief. It’s called living the life of a human.

I’ve been reflecting on my adult journey of late because I’m going through my next ‘phase’. You see, I believe that we live by phases. Different phases at different stages of our life’s.

Phase 1 – Thinking you’re always right…

There was once a girl who always thought she was right. She would spend to look good not to feel good. She would make life changing decisions without consultation or without even listening to her inner voice. She only heard what she wanted to hear and most of all decided what was right by her own thought process as opposed to collating a few.

That girl was me!

I think back now and chuckle as I can pin point every moment I knew I was making a bad judgment call. Times when it was too late to change my decision; where I was too proud to admit I was making the wrong ones. Asking myself why was I making these choices? To understand the thought process and to understand the feeling behind the thought process is what I didn’t know how to do. Now I understand. My automatic reactions, I guess, was a way of shielding my insecurities and hiding from my unsettled childhood.

Being in control of me is what I thought I was doing to protect me as who else would?

Phase 2 – Making memories & mistakes 

A fancy car at 22 with two basic household incomes and a baby, I mean really? Days you can’t afford to eat because you’ve paid your mortgage and ….. car finance. When I think back I don’t regret as the memories were great however, it wasn’t a wise choice to buy such luxury to look good when I still had home improvements and a large nursery bill to pay. By this phase of young adulthood I thought I knew it all (phase 1), you make decisions on what you THINK is right. Actually I’ll rephrase that – what you WANT to be right… I think of this because I was talking with someone the other day who said ‘you’ve taken a step down haven’t you from your fancy car days’. I smiled and shook my head; my response was rather clear ‘I’m richer than I ever was but not what I’ll ever be’. I proudly took ownership of the pretty lengthy conversation as I asked the questions ‘do you need to promote expensive materialistic things to show your riches’? I think I’m not alone when I say – never show your pocket as it’s personal. This is something I had to learn….

Phase 3 – Putting phase 2 into prospective

Working hard is what most of us do. We work hard to live. How many of us can live well without working hard first? So I suppose it’s trying to find that happy work/life balance. Something I still have yet to figure out. I work hard and on those days/weeks I possibly can’t put the energy I would like into my family; my home. The difference in phase 3 is that now I work hard for my children as opposed to the next designer bag I fancy buying. As we become responsible we need to think responsibly but most of all become responsible for ourselves. Take advice, seek support and make informed decisions to benefit your unit not just yourself. Think to the future. How do you see and feel about yourself and the decisions you make, not how do others perceive you. The good will always come forth. God will see to that.

Phase 4 – Understanding ones self 

This phase is refreshing and beautiful. I’m only 35 but what a wonderful age it is to be living in this phase; to have a ‘grip’ of yourself. I’ve spent the last 5 years becoming the most philosophical minded person about life but most importantly about me. I have an understanding of who I am which gives me great comfort and such confidence. I go to work do my job then come home and become me. That feeling of warmth you get from living who you are makes a huge difference to who you become and who you are around. It’s not easy understanding yourself as who has time for that. The days are so rushed and our

commitments consume us

but at some stage we have to learn why we behave in such manners, why we think in such ways and why we act in the way we do. This helps us to understand ourselves in the third person. How do we act and love as people? Do we like who we have become? and is this benefiting the life we wish to live… on the contrary, is this present phase of mine the person I will be forever? Will we ever know who we truly are? Do we just accept who we are in the here and now and if it feels good go with it as, let’s be honest, do we ever stay the same? We are always growing as people, through our journeys and our phases.

So the lessons I have learnt are, whatever phase you’re in, at whatever age, it’s important to reflect, self care and most importantly share love…..The rest will come…..

Enjoy growing through your phases 🙂

Lifestyle,

Reunited – 7 Years apart

Reunited – 7 Years apart

This is the time of year I reflect as its always a time of change. Every Christmas for years i always felt a gap in my life, now however, now I love this time of year. Getting prepared for Christmas. I love coming home from work, closing the curtains at 4.30pm and sitting around the dinner table eating warm winter food with my family………

Have you lived apart from any of your children?

I remember patiently waiting at the airport. My heart was racing, my body felt numb. I didn’t know where to stand, sit, look. My big baby was coming home for good. Yes home…..for good 😉

The decision to send him to live with his Grand Parents in the West Indies didn’t come easily. The plan was for him to attend private school and receive private education from his grandmother, and his father & I would start an empire which would benefit us all. Oh I do remember the day his father took him. I felt the same way as I explained above, numb and my heart was racing, didn’t know where to look, sit or stand. I do remember thinking have I made the right decision? That doubt didn’t last long. I knew he would be safe and happy. I kept comparing it to parents who send their children to boarding school and other parents who work away where the grandparents became the main carers. How about those parents who feel that they are are not coping and ask for Social Care support. It must all be a similar feeling, right? You are living your daily life without your children.

To constantly explain your decisions to others is like being unsure of making them.

The amount of people who told me that I made the wrong decision and ‘how could I do that as a mother’. Those comments really hurt; all I wanted was support not criticism. The nights I spent staring into my sons room thinking ‘what have I done’ then remembering he’s happy and to be honest what a lovely experience for him. Three years of age is a good age for a child to transition and and learn something new.

How can you feel so close to someone but yet so far?

I visited my son often and each time was difficult. We always had a close bond (moms and their sons) but yet I felt so far away from him. His emotions and daily needs were being met but not by me. This was so difficult to comprehend. I visited as his mother always stocking up his wardrobe and taking him to hotels in the school holidays and we had so much fun however, there were always something missing. I mean how can I lay down the law and put rules in place to a child I don’t live with. How can I make MY son laugh or know how to comfort him when I don’t live with him. How? Each year felt harder and each year I questioned the decision – this was selfish of me I know but naturally you would, right?

The Transition

The preparation was fun. On Valentines day my partner (who my son had not met yet) and I were putting up his bed – i’ll rephrase that –  my partner was putting up his bed and I was drinking prosecco whilst eating strawberries listening to 80’s music. We decorated his room six months before he was coming home. I know I am a super organised person but my thought process was that if his room is ready it will all feel real.

You have to listen to your gut and your children

My son had told me on my last visit that he wanted to come home – the words

‘I want to come home to be with you mommy’

These words were like music to my ears – the warmth I felt. At that time of my life I did not have my own home and I was living a single life. My partner and I spent 2 hours nearly every day at the gym, I worked full time and I went on trips and holidays when I wished. Thinking back it was all filling an empty space. I had to rethink and get my act together. Searching for a home was the biggest obstacle as I knew where I wanted to live and I knew which school I wanted but it all seemed unachievable.

Thoughts are Things.

I achieved everything I needed to months before. It took two jobs and perseverance but it happened.

My boy – My boy is home

The moment he walked through the airport he looked lost and unsettled. He must have felt like an alien on a different planet. He didn’t look like my son – how could he when he hadn’t lived with me for 7 years. I needed a second to process – I had flashbacks of when I gave birth and the first 3 years of his life to that moment – I felt lost and unsettled. Ok what do I do, what do I say? How do I start this new relationship? I don’t want him to feel overwhelmed but I want to remain consistent with my approach. I wanted it to be right, to be perfect at once. We are talking about humans here – not going to happen is it?

24 months later and it has been a rollercoaster ride – this is another Blog in itself but for now I will say the best decision of my life or should I say the best request of his life. I always tell him that he is special and has experienced something a lot of people want and to embrace.

Life isn’t black and white we should all remember that.

Lifestyle,

The Gift of a Prayer

The Gift of a Prayer

We all live a life of speed, comparisons and ungratefulness. We think about what will happen next, what we want and what will happen if we don’t get? Well the past week has definitely taught me to think nothing but the opposite. It has taught me to think of the now. To think of what I have, appreciate what I have achieved, but most of all the gift of what I have produced……

…..That moment when I walked through the hospital room door where my 1 year old son lay. I knew I shouldn’t have gone home to take that shower. So what if I hadn’t slept and if I smell. So what if I was in the same underwear as the morning before, I shouldn’t have taken that shower. The scare, the feeling of anxiety it gave me, seeing all those professionals surrounding his bed.

As I walked through the door I dropped my bag on the floor. It felt like my heart was stuck in my throat. My eyes filled up as I had to kneel on the chair in front of me for strength so I could stand. All I heard was ‘the need to transport him’ and ‘Breathing Machine’ – this was worst case scenario  but at that moment I didn’t hear anything in-between like ‘when we receive the blood tests’ and ‘we will do everything we can so we can manage him here’. Its crazy how in a time like this when you should unpick and hold on to the good, you only hear the bad.

Day 4

….Nothing can prepare you for the unexpected. My son has previously had problems with his breathing which we manage with his inhalers. Bronchiolitis , a lower respiratory tract infection that affects babies and young children, especially in the winter months, is what my son has had twice before so me and dad are familiar with the signs but this time it was different; a lot more severe along with 2 viruses and wheezing of the lungs. When we visited the doctor they sent us home with his inhalers, to monitor. The next day we were in A&E to then go home with his inhalers to monitor. The next minute we are on the Paediatric ward with oxygen tubes, regular intervals of two different types of nebulisers, steroids and antibiotics. Your baby has a cannula in his hand to enable him to be fed his nutrients and he’s so lethargic you can’t recognise him. A child so young looking so helpless, so weak and you as his mother/father can’t do anything other than hold his hand and pray he will be ok.

My baby will be ok, won’t he?

…Babies surely can deteriorate very quickly but similarly bounce back just as fast. From being on the High Dependency ward, where we had hands on, round the clock care, to coming home in a matter of days. This can only be down to the NHS staff; every single one of them. From the volunteer who brought him a toy stethoscope which gave him his first smile of the day, to the staff nurses who did an amazing job with his day to day health needs, to the many consultants we met along the way who showed consistency, thorough explanations and quick decision making, all resulting in our special little boy coming home. Yes he is still poorly but we are able to manage this ourselves as parents.

We have to say a huge THANK YOU to

Laura – A Staff Nurse at Barnsley Hospital. Laura, you my dear gave us the strength at night when we were exhausted. You really showed what a NHS nurse should be and we really appreciate and admire you as a woman. Twice we have met now in these unfortunate circumstances and both times you have only but given credit to the NHS.

Aunty Sharon and Grandma – Through prayer our son gained strength. The evening after you visited I saw a significant improvement. I don’t use these words lightly when I say God is good – the gift of prayer.

The gift of prayer.

Discharge Day

Everyone who messaged and visited – you don’t realise how many people care until you need them. If it’s to bring in your washing, look after your other child/ren or to just say ‘I’m here’ – every little/lot helps.

This has been one of the most unsettled, worrying and sickening moments of our lives.  Who cares if I put on half a stone? Who cares if I can’t afford to buy that bigger house or if my brogues don’t match my blazer? Who cares about getting that picture perfect?   None of it matters anymore. All that matters is that my Boys have health and strength.

Bronchiolitis signs I look out for

  • A persistent dry cough
  • Noisy breathing (wheezing)
  • Stomach ‘caving in’ when breathing
  • Brief pauses in their breathing
  • Not wanting to feed
  • Having fewer wet nappies
  • Being irritable/continuous crying
  • Fever
Lifestyle,

‘B’ is for Beautiful

Abstract created by  jwOo @pincraft17

‘B’ is for Beautiful

Sometimes this is all you need to hear.

I’m not saying that you need an ego boost or that you want to feel extra confident. What I am saying is, that you want to hear that you are a beautiful person. There are many people who are pretty, stunning, who have admirable features that you may wish you had, but that one person may not be beautiful.

I used to look at women who in my opinion were beautiful, wear the most lovely clothes, carry a designer handbag and go on the most fabulous holidays. I used to gaze at pictures and wish I had some of that beauty. I would look at my teeth and wish they didn’t cross over at the front, I would look at 4inch heel shoes in shops and wish I was shorter. I would secretly compete with friends to want to look the best with regards to outfits or lipstick colour. Yes envious or jealous of others – it was one of the two. When I reflect I think wow I might not have been a nice person if all I would concentrate on was ‘outer’ beauty. Or is this norm for a female? Do all young women go through these emotions but just won’t admit it?

When I reflect I can now see I had so many insecurities. But why was I so insecure? Why did I feel like I was not good enough to feel beautiful, be beautiful. There are many factors that allude to answering this question.

Infidelity is one cause for so many men and women to not feel beautiful. You don’t feel good enough. You feel that you’re always in competition with the unknown. You are always looking in the mirror asking yourself why? What did I do wrong and am I not good enough? I remember dying my hair blonde because the person I was cheated on had blonde hair – my hair turned ginger….yes ginger! I then started with blonde highlights instead which didn’t look right either. My next fad was the gym, I wanted to achieve a flat tummy and perky bum, not realising that unless I was going to attend the gym every day whilst carrying out at least 100 squats a week I was never going to get there. I suffered from the same disorder most women experiencing insecurities do. I was too fat, too skinny, too pale, too dark, and too tall.  Whatever it was, I felt that I was never good enough. Even if I was good enough, my insecurities were larger that the reality at that time.

 My imperfections were too imperfect

When was the last time someone called you Beautiful?

Not being told you are Beautiful can be another cause for feeling insecure. I tell my nearest and dearest all the time, that they are beautiful. Even now I would rather bring someone else up and help them find their beauty than think about my own – I guess that in itself is beauty. As I have mentioned before, there are so many beautiful ‘looking’ people out there, but are they really beautiful?

 You have to love yourself before others can love you

However, this is something you learn. Growing up as a child, as I have mentioned before, I was the eldest therefore had a lot of responsibilities. At the crucial time of adolescence. At the time when your body is changing and the world around is so big you feel lost. When you’re sat in class looking at all the beauty around you wishing you was like them. I suppose as a child you don’t understand the meaning of ‘real’ beauty. I can’t remember being told I was a beautiful person. In fact, do people actually say that to their children? I don’t know? But what I do know is that every day I tell both my sons that they are beautiful and handsome. They are smart and special, because “the words your parents say are the words you grow to believe”.

I never used to think I was insecure or lacked confidence but I suppose I did. Now this is another blog in itself, but one thing I have learnt, is that when you do lack inner confidence and don’t believe that you are beautiful, then you become somebody else.

 Beauty from the inside can only but show Beauty on the outside

Along my journey I have definitely learnt that beauty comes from within. When your intentions are pure and when you want to give or help genuinely. When you wish to see the best in others before making negative judgement calls. If you ever feel that someone is unsettling your peace of mind or trying to rock your conscious place of sanity, they are trying to move your ‘happy place’ and try and put untruths or bad minded information in your head – don’t let it happen.  They are only showing their ugliness, their insecurities and definitely an example of non-beauty.

Does it matter…?

• That you don’t wear the most designer clothes and sometimes don’t coordinate your style, so that others can make a judgement call on the class you are placed in.

• That you are a stone heavier from having your ‘beautiful’ new born and that you haven’t ‘bounced back’ as quick as your neighbour, because your body is just not like theirs.

• If you are a Cleaner or a Lawyer – does your profession provide you with a clean heart?

• If you don’t do the things others want you to do because you decided you don’t want to  – yes YOU have decided to do what you want

Please tell me who cares? Those with a Shallow Mind? The ones who do care are not the ones you really want to have in your life – some people can be ugly enough and hard enough to comprehend, for you to try and live up to their expectations.

You are Beautiful.

I am Beautiful. I love my crossed over front teeth, I embrace my height and i totally understand that any of these two things does not make me Beautiful, what makes me Beautiful  is who I am, what I feel, how I treat others and certainly how I Love. Everything else are just material and we all know those are the things that can come and go……

Lifestyle,

Baby Blues

My Baby Blues

It’s when I sit, it’s when I sit I think, I then overthink.

The day I was discharged I struggled to walk, to stand straight, to sit, however I still wanted to fix things – offering drinks, tidying away clean clothes. I remember my Mother in Law saying to me “you can sit down you know Emma”. At that moment I sat and drank a cup of tea. I sat and drank then I got back up. Each time I moved I felt pain, yet that didn’t stop me… I finally soaked in the bath. I left my baby for the first time, for 30 minutes whilst he slept on his Daddy. I remember feeling guilty that he wasn’t in my arms. I felt guilty for having a very small window of me time. I felt guilty for cleaning myself.

“I was Born to be Busy, it’s my Coping Mechanism”

I felt weak, physically, mentally emotionally. I soaked myself through the pain. The pain which reminded me of the exhausting, yet phenomenal experience I had undertaken just a few days ago. I cried. I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is the only way I can describe the mixed emotions I felt. Physical pain made me bowed and very slow in movement, emotional pain of such a sudden life change of having a child 12 years apart. Mentally feeling alone and lost. Feeling philosophical.

Although my living room was busy full of loved ones there was such an empty soul that lived within me. Some close ones who in a ‘normal world’ would naturally be there; strange how just three days prior none of this mattered, but now as I soak, it feels so wrong. I felt so lost, so alone. I felt vulnerable. A woman who seems to always be in control. A woman who structures family dinners weeks in advance and is planning Christmas dinner 9 months ahead, and who now feels so vulnerable.

I was toying whether or not to express my post Baby Blues feelings, but I had a conversation with a lady, a lot  older than me, who said ‘Emma I wish someone told me it was ok to talk and it was natural to feel these feelings after such a life changing experience”.

When I talk about Baby Blues mums would engage with me and thank me for allowing the subject to feel like it’s ok to discuss. The more mums, of all ages, I have spoken to about this subject, the more mums admit and express the familiar feelings they also felt. The most common feeling was not feeling confident to admit that they felt lost in a world of unfamiliar territory. Feeling like they would be frowned upon if they were to tell their story.

My story is about sleep deprivation and lack of close family support as well as not being in control of the exact times my beautiful baby boy would sleep, eat and wake. My story is also admitting that a woman who very rarely cries and asks for help, finally knowing that it’s ok and that no woman is made of steel. No woman can control what could possibly happen next. I am lucky enough to have a strong partner who tells me daily how powerful and strong I am as a mother. I do have someone at the end of the phone who will say ‘Emma you can’t always get it right’.

Why I write this is to say that from discussions and understandings, not everyone has the courage and confidence to open up and say ‘I don’t feel like me, can you please listen to me’ or ‘am I ok’ and ‘is this normal’.

Baby Blues or Post Natal Depression, whatever stages it may be at, it’s ok. We are human and humans have feelings. We are not programmed to dismiss unwanted emotions. My blues lasted 2/3 months so in comparison to some, this was short lived. A lady told me recently that she felt detached from her true self for 15 months prior to being diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, where at that point she still didn’t inform her close ones, not until she read an article. This was another major drive for me to just briefly explain my journey.

At whatever stage, try to LOVE yourself if you can, but most importantly; trust your inner voice. Reach out to someone and believe that it’s not only you. This is common and I really wish the stigma of Mental Health around what having a baby brings was not there. There is so much society pressure to feel ‘Super Happy’, ’Blissful’, ‘Perfect’. You should not have to feel embarrassed about asking for help or recognising that you don’t feel like the woman you did prior giving birth. You don’t feel ‘Super Happy’, ‘Blissful’ or ‘Perfect’.

A few statistics for us new Mums to know 😉

1 – 70-80 percent of new moms are affected by the baby blues, while only 10-20 percent suffer from postpartum depression.

2 – Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues share many symptoms, including mood swings, crying jags, sadness, insomnia, and irritability. The difference is that with postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe (such as suicidal thoughts or an inability to care for your newborn) and longer lasting.

3 – Often the symptoms of “baby blues” will hit forcefully within four to five days after the birth of the baby – symptoms to recognise are;

• Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason

• Impatience

• Irritability

• Restlessness

• Anxiety

Fatigue

Insomnia (even when the baby is sleeping)

• Sadness

• Mood changes

Remember – It’s Good to Talk

Lifestyle,

‘Guest Blog’ A Sixty Second Poem

 

‘Guest Blog’

The intense part of my storm has passed,
But it left behind debris and an indescribable aftermath,
Much like that of a city that can be left in ruins after a hurricane.

My storm breaks regularly and clears up for sun
Laughter, joy, and peace much more often than they used to be.

A subsequent pregnancy after losing my Princess has easily put me right back into the heart of the storm,
No matter how much healing and progress I thought I had made.

Each day brings a flood of memories.
There are moments that my world erupts like a volcano and I blow,
Reality hits that Isabella is only with me in spirit.
That truth envelops me in waves of emotion.

I look at the future and see the twins and realise this was her gift to me…

Written By Sophie Simpson…. in memory 12.04.17

Lifestyle,

A Sixty Second Poem

Understand….

For years and years I didn’t understand why it was this way
What was God’s plan
Confused to know who I was

What was my purpose, why am I here
Unable to understand the unsettled journey and having no fear

Others didn’t understand
How could they when neither could I,
Lost in a world with so many questions, Oh Lord why?

Years of searching, looking, wanting
Never understanding, why me?
Why did you give this journey to me?

Why is it that everyone seems so settled and supported
Why is it that each direction I turn there’s glass I tread
Why can’t it be someone else life instead

I see
I see why God gave this journey to me
To reach those who need to understand,
Who need to accept God’s plan
To be your unique self
To love and trust thyself
To understand one’s self
To be your self

I accept what you gave me
It’s taken some time
I believe it’s what made me
Your plan is for me to use it and shine

Lessons learned, blessings given
The girl has turned, a women has risen

Now please understand
It’s not for sympathy I speak out
It’s not to raise myself or scream and shout
It’s to show strength and confidence
An insight to what I’m about
It’s for you and me to look deep and start figuring things out

Written by Emma Louise Ink…

Lifestyle,

Mixed Race Me

What am I?

I asked the question in my previous blog (where do I belong?) Who am I? – What if I asked – What am I? Doesn’t sound nice does it? This question has been posed to me so many times…… the life of a mixed race girl!

People of mixed ethnicity experience living with being mixed race differently to those who are born into one race. For some it’s never been an issue but let’s be honest they are far and few between. I have not yet come across anyone who is of mixed ethnicity who has not had to challenge someone’s opinion/views or had to listen to people debating about which ethnicity you look like the most. To be honest in my experience the default of someone who is of mixed race is that they are Black. Why is this? Is it because the colour Black is more prominent than the colour White? Is it because the colour of your skin determines where you belong?  Whether or not you feel akin to one side of your culture more than the other people will always put you in a ‘box’.

 

Family Fixtures

‘Oh look your dad is on TV again” – my Nanna (Great Grandmother) would say as the PG tips advert came on (for those who are not familiar, this commercial advertised tea bags which featured monkeys). ‘Wow’ I hear you sigh. My Nanna was ignorant to the fact that this was such a demoralising/racist statement. She was brought up in a ‘White World’.  A world where Black people would be known as the lower class. I think one of the first Black people she personally came across was my father. Yes this was very upsetting and unsettling. A young girl whose father was a born Jamaican. He stood tall, although he was only 5’5. His personality was strong and he was very proud of his multi-racial family. He would challenge anyone who had an issue with his ethnicity – our ethnicity. So how did he manage my Nanna – he avoided her. It wasn’t worth the family battle of the ‘which race is right’.

As time went on, in my teenage years, I started to see small changes, I started to see the ‘White World’ evolve and become a little more educated. My father was having longer conversations with the ‘White’ bread van man and statements about how ‘fluffy’ my hair was wasn’t as regular (my hair used to be frizzy and curly). I even remember sitting in the front with my Nanna as she drove my brothers and I back home. She was listening to the news on the radio when all of a sudden she said “Oh Trevor McDonald is such an intelligent and handsome man”. Erm Nanna, you do know he is Black right? Seems she evolved too…..the life of a mixed race girl!

 

Too White to be Black – Too Black to be White

My identity has always and will most probably always be questioned. I am very proud of my ethnicity and stand strong with it although, I am perceived in so many different ways. As you can see I am rather fair skinned. My hair is soft and I have European features therefore, very rarely people guess that I am Mixed Race Caribbean. Now I don’t see this as an issue however others do.  One day I was ordering food at a Caribbean food store & I asked “what type of peas did you cook with the rice?” The lady’s response was “what do you know about rice and peas?”. This was troubling for me, especially for a women who has been brought up with the Jamaican culture. Caribbean food is all I knew for a long time but again – was I just too white?

Similarly I was working in an office a number of years ago where every time a Black student, yes I said Black, did something wrong the staff were reluctant to discuss it in front of me. This was after they established I was mixed Black Caribbean. They would use code talk, as if they were unsure how to discuss any students who were of colour in front of me. I also remember that every time a Black, yes I said Black again, student asked for support they would ask me to deal with it, as if they felt I would be able to relate easier. Was I paranoid? Maybe I was just too Black?

 

It’s ok to be an outcast as long as you stay true to yourself!

This world now is so multi-racial. ‘Mixed raceis actually the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the country. What we need to do is Accept, Adapt and Absorb change and difference.  I am the future face of this country. We are the future faces of this country. So to those amongst us who are still struggling to understand that using the word ‘Half Cast’ is not appropriate. To those who are afraid to use the word ‘Black’ and to those who struggle with what ‘box’ to put you in – ask questions. Talk. Discuss. Don’t be afraid to want to understand and be educated. If you are unsure of someone’s identity its ok – I don’t always get it right. Black is Beautiful, White is Beautiful, Being Mixed Race is Beautiful.  It is our responsibility to challenge what we don’t accept and promote what we do. If we don’t, ignorance will always be amongst us……the life of a mixed race girl! x

It doesn’t matter if your black or white’ Michael Jackson once said

 

Love your Identity

Embrace your Identity

Embrace others Identity

Don’t allow others to give you your identity

Lifestyle,

Being a Single Parent?

Do you identify yourself with being a single parent?

What is a Single Parent?

Does it matter?

I have supported so many single parents with living independently, helping them to make informed decisions about their lifestyles choices. Some it has been clear that they are a single parent. One was a father to a 2 year old where the mother was not in his daughter’s life. Another was a mother of three who was separated from the father however, the father was still very much active in the children’s life. Now, I would say that these two scenarios are different. I identify a single parent to be a parent who is bringing up their children alone without the other parent. However, what if the biological parent is not active in the child/rens life but a step parent is? Are you a single parent then?

Definition – A single parent is an uncoupled individual who shoulders most or all of the day-to-day responsibilities for raising a child or children.

I have two children. My second is to my current partner who I live with so I would say that I am NOT a single parent. My partner does for my first son as he would do for my second like attending the barbers or taking him to his weekly sports activities. So why do (sometimes) I feel like a single parent when managing my first son’s needs. Bizarre right? Let me explain. I always feel a sense of guilt – I feel that it is not my partners responsibility so I don’t allow certain things to be shared e.g. funding for clothes, school trips, sports events, and holidays. In my mind ‘he is MY son so ‘My responsibility’. The truth is I think this is my own personal guilt of feeling like I have burdened him with another child. I feel like his life would be so much more straight forward if he only had to manage his biological son. This guilt forces me to take the lead  when talking about my first son as I feel like a single parent even though in reality I’m not. This is an internal feeling that I need to manage because I of all people know that there are many single parents out there who really struggle and would feel unsettled with my reasoning.

Does it matter?

Does the label of being a ‘Single Parent’ matter? I asked 10 single parents how they felt with the label ‘Single Parent’. Four out of the Ten have children to more than one partner.

100% of the single parents I spoke with said that although they accept their situation of lone parenting – they do not like the terminology ‘single parent’. When asked why their responses were –

  • ‘It sounds negative’ – why and to who?
  • ‘It makes me feel ‘humiliated’– For what reason? You’re doing a good job right?
  • ‘I feel like I am letting my children down’ – really why? Because you are doing a good job raising your children by yourself?

I went away and thought about the conversations we had.

I believe that a big influence is society today. It makes people feel this way. Two point Four children is the expectation right? Oh and a dog and cat! And then there’s the thought of a ‘blended family’ – a household with more than one last name – now that is also something that people frown upon. You shouldn’t feel like you have to stay with someone because you have had a child with them. You don’t become a ‘doubled’ single parent if you have children to more than one partner right?

Finding your happiness brings household happiness”

I wonder if the parents I spoke with feel like they are not living to today’s expectation and that they were letting everyone down – everyone being anyone they come into contact with. The secretary at the doctor’s surgery who asks for the family name, ‘erm….. Jones, Simpson and Cummings’ ) The teacher who looks down at you because you have attended parents evening alone–  I mean you’re not capable of digesting all the information about your child by yourself are you?

The pressures this can have on people is one we don’t realise; Our Mental Health being one of them. We don’t always see deteriorating Mental Health creeping into our lives and we don’t always realise that stress, of different levels, is one main trigger. The burden of feeling like you’re a disappointment can alone be a trigger. How confident are you with discussing how you really feel? Most single parents I have spoken to have said ‘I can manage’, ‘I am fine’ and some have said ‘I want to share the daily activities with a significant other’, ‘I want to go for Sunday walks in the village and share the responsibility of making a bottle’. Whatever it is you do, think or feel as single parent the most important thing to remember is that it’s OK. You don’t have to feel like you have let anyone down. Don’t let the fickle minds of society control your thoughts. Do what is right for you – if you feel like you want to find someone, it will happen, you will. If you don’t want to find someone, then that is totally fine too.

I would love to hear your views and if you have any specific areas on this subject you would like me to talk about.

Here are some Statistics I have sourced from www.gingerbread.org.uk

  • There are around two million single parents in the UK
  • The average age of a single parent is 38 years old
  • Less than 2% of single parents are teenagers (aged 16-19)
  • The majority of single parents don’t receive Child Maintenance payments
  • The proportion of single parents who are fathers is around 10%
  • 5% of single parents are in work
Lifestyle,

My Twenties’ – in Brief

To accept and understand your past enables you to accept and understand your future

From getting married at 21, to planning my first cherub who is now 12, to losing my father (who brought me up), to my son living abroad from three years old, to getting divorced, to jet setting all over the world as a way of escaping from it all, to unsettled family relationships, to falling out with close ones to…… now (and breathe). Settled with my first son who is now home and my second cherub who is to my new partner, to building new special relationships I would never have found otherwise and to becoming a better version of me – sounds exhausting right? Well it sure has been. I will extend on some of my journeys in future blogs.

Being 20 is a time where the majority enjoy life and get to know themselves – well that’s what society tells us – not me. I was married at 21. I say never have regrets but, in hindsight, it was too young and to be honest for this era, the end result was inevitable. On reflection there were too much pressure for a 20 year old – a business, a baby, a home, a husband and there was also ‘keeping up with the joneses’ (at this age material things were a priority). I worked a full time job, then home to continue with the new venture, but deep down I didn’t truly know what I wanted other than I knew I wanted to be happy – happy being the operative word. I feel that immaturity, naivety and lack of positive support and guidance led me to making some negative lifestyle choices – or was I just being Twenty?

In my Twenties I thought I knew it all. I was confident, extravagant, an extrovert and dare I say it; always right. When I reflect I just exhale and think ‘what a transformation’. I don’t even remember some of my Twenties’ – it was so fast paced. There was always a drama may it be a positive or negative one. There was never a sense of calmness. I know I had fun, loads of it, but many bumpy rides along the way.

The point of this blog is to say we all make mistakes; jump into things with our eyes closed. We sometimes please others not realising the impact it has on ourselves. We sometimes make a decision without thinking twice or allowing any input from others. I advise anyone so young to remember being twenty is still the beginning. Don’t think you know it all, don’t want it all too quick, don’t expect it all. Smile, love, venture, laugh. Take your time to enjoy and embrace each experience you take. Don’t assume or guess a reasoning, try and understand it – learn to develop your mind and learn to listen to those more experienced than you to learn from their mistakes. Life experiences are invaluable – you want to be able to remember them all.

During my self-reflection and development I was taught Self Care. This is an action I took for myself to enable me to develop, protect and maintain and improve my health and wellbeing. Self-Care is something I  advise everyone to practice. If you don’t feel settled in your life how can the people around you feel settled in your life?

I felt alone and one thing that got me through my unsettled years was my job; the place I currently work. I put all my upsets, all my pain into my job which led me to develop and build some really positive relationships. I call my place of work my family. Sounds silly but without my place of work I don’t think I would be as solid as I am today.  The tears in the bathroom, the calling in sick, to pushing myself to support the clients who I understood needed me.

If you don’t have positive support networks or you don’t feel you can rely or confide in the ones you do have it doesn’t mean you still have to face tribulations by yourself. Build a network; may it be via your place of work, the web, social media, reading, my blogs, support organisations. Never feel like you have to face anything alone – no one should have to. Pain is real – pain hurts. Never feel ashamed for asking for support – venting. Never feel ashamed for being you. We are all unique human beings who have been given different paths – we just have to learn how to take each step and sometimes even start again.

What stops people from access support or opening up?

  • Culture
  • Embarrassment
  • Proving a point
  • Living in denial

If you do find the confidence to reach out

  • You can exhale/breathe
  • Build positive relationships
  • Receive positive guidance
  • Increase in confidence/self esteem
  • Clearer vision – enabling you to build on your future
  • Bring positive energy to those around you

Consequences of not reaching out

  • Building up a resilience to pain
  • Not expressing how you truly feel
  • You find it hard to trust
  • Take unnecessary blame
  • Unable to build relationships
  • Isolation
  • Mental Health at different levels
  • Has a negative impact on the ones you love
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