12.7.24

Pub Fridays

picked my two boys up from school, we popped to a shop then drove a different route home. 

“Pub?”

I didn’t really expect a reaction from them but my youngest son Harry immediately said “Yes please!” so I drove straight into the pub car park.

It was a lovely summers day (which don’t seem to happen often at the moment) We got our drinks and sat outside at a picnic table and enjoyed each others company.

We all loved it and decided that we would make it “our thing” on a Friday night when we are together (they live with me one week, with their dad the next).

It’s something we have stuck to. When free, my boyfriend and his 2 boys also join us and we all really enjoy it.

It’s a nice time for us to all reconnect, and discuss our weeks without the distraction of work, cats, housework and chores. We generally have a no phone rule unless we are making plans for the weekend or for following weekends. 


We now refer to these as “Pub Fridays”. I made the mistake of calling it “Pub Friyay” one day and my children were disappointed in me and told me to “get out”. (Almost feels like a mum success if you’re told you’ve done something cringe).


It’s so nice to do this with the children and not just with my boyfriend on the week when we don’t have our boys. To be able to give them our full attention, for them to also hear adult conversations and to be able to hear us talk about our feelings, for us to give them a chance to talk about school, anything they enjoyed or found hard that week and to discuss how the next week could be better. And to give us something to look forward to after a long working/school week. 

It also give me me that incentive at the end of the week to “down tools” and switch off for the weekend.


My only mission now is for “Pub Friyay” to be signed off as appropriate which I feel is going to be tough!




20.6.24

Mid Year 'Word for the Year' Update

A little update on how I’m doing with my word of the year. “Authentic”.

I’ve just got back from an amazing weekend away with my wonderful boyfriend. We went to Butlin’s in Bognor Regis for the 90’s Weekender. My boyfriend often calls me a 90’s girl…I still listen to 90’s music and one of my “quirks” (as he puts it) is still being a big fan of Right Said Fred (sadly they weren’t there).
I put so much pressure on myself about what I looked like and soon realised that no one cares and in fact, as long as you’re having fun no one should care.

🧡I wore a “Take me back to the 90s” tshirt, which I’d customised to be more of a 90s style.

🧡I danced however I wanted to.

🧡I screamed and cheered when a song came on that I love.

🧡I stood waiting for 45 minutes for 5ive to come on because I’d managed to get to the front.

🧡I wore a tshirt with a photo of me from the 90’s. Not just any photo, one of me with Right Said Fred. Along with a shell suit jacket and put my hair up in a 90’s style.

🧡Last night, despite being in our room and almost settled for bed. We decided to go out at 11:15pm to see Artful Dodger. We couldn’t be bothered to dress up so I went with my hair in a messy bun, no make up, cycling shorts and an oversized Spice Girls tshirt with DMs on my feet (accidentally dressing 90s). I’d also sobered up at this point so didn’t know what I’d be like when Artful Dodger were playing (for years I wouldn’t dance at all and my boyfriend has really given me the confidence to let myself go and be who I want to be). I surprised myself by non-stop dancing. It was INCREDIBLE! I screamed, cheered, danced, and just felt so free and happy.

But before all that, in the afternoon….
🧡I got up on stage and did karaoke with Barry from Eastenders! Again, thought I would have needed some Dutch Courage (which I didn’t need from alcohol as I managed to get my Dutch courage from my Dutch boyfriend who again, didn’t tell me to not do it in fear of me embarrassing us both). I sang “Spice Up Your Life” and he looked on so proud (I’ve watched the video back, Spice Up Your Life is not the right tone for my voice 🤣 but I did it anyway! It’s the second time I’ve done karaoke, the first being in May this year at my friends wedding singing “I’m Too Sexy”.

There are certain aspects of myself that I’m not keen on at the moment, but when I look back on this weekend I can see how far I have come in being comfortable with who I am. Dancing how I want. “Singing” in front of people. Wearing what I want to wear. Screaming and cheering (and laughing far too loud on the Waltzers).
I’m also super lucky that I have someone who cheers me on and encourages me to be who I am. Who is himself, unapologetically, and inspires me everyday 🧡




30.4.24

Perspective

I saw a post on LinkedIn recently that really hit home to me.

It was a lady talking about her two grown up sons, one who lives away from home but visiting, talking loud early in the morning. But instead of complaining at the noise and hoping they'd tidy up after themselves she chose to lay and enjoy the sound of her boys laughing together and having fun and in her own words feel "an explosion of maternal heart fuzziness". And took this time as a reminder to stop and appreciate the little moments.

This really resonated with me. Although my boys are "only" 12 and 14, I feel like I have moments where my fuse may be short and I may not really appreciate the small things.

Sometimes I feel like I want peace and to tell them to be quiet but then take a second to restructure my thoughts and then enjoy hearing them laugh together or just talking to each other, even if what they are saying to each other makes no sense to me whatsoever.

They live with their dad for one week, then with me the next.
They have a lot of independence at my house. 
The bit that really helped when I read the post on LinkedIn wasn't about the noise, I'd already had my "thought restructure" with this a while ago. But the thing that really hit me was that I can get so annoyed at cleaning up their mess, when they make breakfast and don't put things away, but really sometimes it's trivial, and I could look at it completely differently.

"It's good they're at the age when they want to do things for themselves"
"They didn't want to wake me up and were hungry so it's sweet that they let me have more sleep and made their own breakfast"
"They know I'm busy with work so chose to save me a job and make their own lunch".

Of course my stress levels would be lower if they did just put the bacon away, put their rubbish in the bin or tie up the bread properly, or put their plates and glasses back in the kitchen. 

I think sometimes I can focus more on these things rather than the positives. 
The fact they are independent, they can make their own food, they can make a coffee or cup of tea (Harry actually makes the best cups of tea!), feed our cats, put their clothes in the wash, use the washing machine, mow the lawn etc, is incredible and actually really sets them up for when they are older and eventually leave home.  



20.3.24

What you see vs What you don’t see

What you see:

  • A woman with long dark hair
  • A Wickes blue tshirt
  • Black jeans
  • Gladiator sandals (I have trust in the weather to not rain today!)
  • Tattoos
  • A slight smile

What you don’t see:

  • That I am completely riddled with anxiety today
  • The inner monologue repeating toxicity and hate towards me
  • The battle of trying to lesson the anxiety and inner monologue 
  • The battle of wanting to hide or run away
  • The desperation of trying to find the positive affirmations to be able love or even like myself a little bit
  • The desperation of wanting to show up today being the me that doesn’t exist with anxiety, depression and self hate.

I get told a lot that people are surprised that I have anxiety because I hide it quite well. I’ve made, and am making, real efforts to push myself out of my comfort zone to not let anxiety, depression etc rule my life. To not miss out on amazing opportunities because of this other side of me. Knowing I need to take control of it, rather than letting it take control of me.

But the reality is that some days are just really hard. For no apparent reason.

When I wake up like this I do my best to analyse the reason, to breakdown what is going on in my life that may be causing overwhelm, so I can then focus on what I need to do to “fix it”. 

But some days, there is no reason. I can break everything down and there is no trigger. No one element of life that causes me to feel like this. And today is one of those days.

A day when I don’t want to show up, where my head doesn’t want me to show up, it wants me to fail, to break, to not enjoy amazing opportunities. To let it win.

My battle today will be exhausting. But when I’m home. I will know that I didn’t shy away. I faced the battle.



13.3.24

Creating a journal jar with 200 journal prompts

For Christmas I created a journal jar for someone close to me. 
This is a great way to journal if morning pages or free writing doesn’t work for you. I did this the time consuming way by getting 200 post it notes and writing a variety of journal prompts on each one (potentially doubling up on some prompts as I wrote these over a series of weeks). 

I folded up the post it notes and placed them inside a glass jar (which I decorated a little bit), and gave the person a posh journal too. 

 Feeling slightly jealous of the gift I’d created I recently decided to make my own. Although I do find morning pages and free writing easy, there are days when my mind is blank or I don’t have that instant inspiration. 
To make it easier, and to make sure I wasn’t doubling up, I made a list of 200 prompts and printed them off, cut them up, and then folded them into my own glass journal jar. 
 Although some of the prompts are a similar theme, just being worded slightly different will/can result in a different writing response. 

These are so cheap and easy to make, and are a great inspirational tool if you want to journal but don’t know where to start. 

My only rules are (when doing this myself) 
  1. I have to answer the prompt I have chosen and can’t put it back and pick another one. 
  2. I have to fill at least one page of an A5 notebook (no short answers allowed) 
If you would like to create your own journal jar, I have created a sheet with the prompts I have used for my own jar. The prompts are a mixture of lists, memories, letters and personal development. You can find the prompts here

Alternatively, you can use the spreadsheet, put number 1-200 in a number generator, and whichever number comes out you then use as your prompt and then delete that prompt from the list, the next time using 1-199 in the number generator. 
If you’d like to do this you can make a copy of this sheet to use the same prompts as me.




26.2.24

An Authentic Tattoo

My word for 2024 is "authentic" and so far I'm doing my best to live by this.

I've shared already 'things I will no longer apologise for' which really showed my starting point in being authentic. Being completely me and being unapologetic for it.

Back in 2015 I got my first tattoos. My whole plan was to just get some small ones. Just 'Alis volat propriis' (She flies with her own wings in Latin, and the reason my blog got it's new name), a semi colon for mental health, and a bird as I'd just been introduced to the song Blackbird (by the Beatles but a different version) and the lyrics really resonated with the point I was at in my life at the time (spoiler alert, the bird tattoo was added to with two other birds which looked shocking so all 3 were covered up).


I never imagined that almost 10 years later I'd have a full sleeve, some on my fingers, some dotted around on my other arm, chest, a few on my left left and now what seems to be the start of a half leg sleeve. 

I remember a conversation at work once where someone had mentioned a certain object and I said "Oh, I have a tattoo of that" and their reply being "Well, what haven't you got a tattoo of?". It made me laugh because a lot of my tattoos may seem random and don't all follow a particular theme other than being part of my story. 

Someone else once said "I look at your sleeve and feel like it tells your story". I loved that.

There was one tattoo I'd joked about getting for a while, and it is one that had the most "don't get that" or "you can't get that" and this year, with my word of 2024 shouting loudly in my head along with one of my life mottos of "I'd rather regret doing something than to regret not doing something" I sent over the list of tattoos to my tattoo artist and it proudly included the tattoo I had been wanting to get.

I'm not even sure why I say I'd joked about getting it. I think for a while because it was just an idea that seemed silly to me really, but more based on what other people would think, but for me is something really special.

When both my children were little we used to watch 'In the Night Garden' A LOT. I remember putting it on when I was pregnant with Charles, my eldest son, and thinking "What on earth is this?!" but then, once he was born, we never missed an episode. We would recreate an episode about "Iggle Piggles Tiddle" (when Iggle Piggle stamps on the floor and a burst of water pops up) in the bath by spraying water out of a bottle. I'd ring the phone, hand it to Charles, then grab the phone I'd used to call my phone and go to another room and pretend to be Makka Pakka. Birthdays and Christmases would include a Ninky Nonk or some kind of 'In The Night Garden' merchandise, including a large Makka Pakka teddy. And despite having a fear of people dressed in costumes, I grabbed my youngest son during a visit to Alton Towers where Upsy Daisy was paying a visit and had a photo next to her.

It's got a lot of happy memories for me, particularly because at that time I was struggling a lot with my mental health and it was around this time I started writing about it and becoming really passionate about breaking the stigma, talking about it and being really open about my journey.

My boys obviously grew out of watching the programme but it's always been something really special to me (it is still to them in some ways) but it's something that now, as a 38 year old adult, I still find really comforting, to the point that when I'm in a really low point with my head and going to bed sad or struggling my boyfriend will sweetly play the theme tune to make me smile (ok, it also makes me cry happy tears too). For a while I thought it best to not admit these things but, authentic me, doesn't see why I should hide it. Realising now too, it's not really any different to adults who like Disney! 

On my right leg I have tattoos of things that bring me peace, things that I find spiritually safe, and now also things that don't fit on my sleeve I suppose! Last year I got the laughing Buddha, lyrics to two songs by The 1975 to go along with a crystal tattoo, a clog with tulips and angel wings with two hands which represent guardian angels. So it felt super fitting that I added another thing that makes me feel spiritually safe, and brings me peace.

On the inside of my right leg on my ankle, I got, tattooed on me FOR LIFE, my favourite character from In The Night Garden.

Makka Pakka.

He's only small, but it makes me smile every time I look at him. Just before he stuck the needle in I did say to my tattooist "Am I silly for getting this? Is this too much?" and he is incredibly honest with me and said "not at all". 

Do I feel regret? Absolutely not! Am I showing him off with pride at any opportunity? Absolutely yes!

He is a symbol of peace for me, of happiness, and of me being unapologetically me. 

Authentically.



5.2.24

Why us?

Any illness or disease can conjure up the question “Why me?” “why her/him/them?”. “What did I do to deserve this?”

I’ve always managed to avoid this way of thinking. I’m not sure why, at least wasn’t until last year when I sat there and realised why I think I was “given” anxiety and depression.


To help others. To write about my experiences, to openly talk about mental health, to make others feel like it’s not just them or to even understand why a loved one may be a certain way. 

But also because I can see anxiety in my son. He’s not been professionally diagnosed but as someone who has lived with this for 29 years I can see he has it. I know people will argue it is “learned behaviour” but I have always been really careful to not show my anxiety to my children and I believe if this was the case I would have two anxious children, not just one.


Last year we were going on holiday and our accommodation changed which resulted in my sons anxiety “flaring up”. Due to my experience with travel anxiety and anxiety around going to new places I was able to use my coping mechanisms to help him. And we ended up having a really lovely holiday! 


I’m currently suffering with burn out and with going on holiday on Wednesday to visit my boyfriends family made the decision to request 2 days Mental Health sick leave. After a tough 2 weeks, and then a weekend of crying and panic attacks I knew that I needed 2 days to focus on me and fixing myself as best I can in the short term so I can go on holiday to relax, and to not have things whirring around in my head.

My plan was to potentially work if I felt any better. However woke up this morning (Monday) feeling already like a panic attack was waiting for me so knew it was best to relax for the time being and see how I felt later on.

It actually turned out that this morning I needed to help my son with his mental health. 

For a second I felt annoyed, it was supposed to be 2 days for me to look after myself and on top of everything else I didn’t need something else added to my plate. But soon enough it changed to “YOU CAN HELP HIM”. And I remembered that have gone through and I am going through what I am going through to help him. 

It was tough. We were both tired and emotional. But we got there. He felt safe. He felt listened to. He knows I will always be there for him and he thanked me for it.

At that point I almost thanked my anxiety and my depression for helping me to be able to deal with my sons feelings and thoughts. I was able to use the right words, to tell him he is not alone, to share some of my experiences so he knew I wasn’t just making things up or trying to understand how he felt. And this is what made him feel safe. 


I may not have ever said “Why me?” But I do sometimes think “Why him?”. It’s hard when it’s your child and you don’t want things like this to take over their heads or hold them back in life and certainly don’t want to see them struggle but I wonder if maybe he is going through this because one day he will need this experience? If one day he might get a job and need to use this? Or be in a relationship and be able to use his experience? Or indeed with his future children? Or maybe even to help with me? 

This week he has been amazing at comforting me, which maybe a child shouldn’t do in some people’s eyes but raising my child to be compassionate, affectionate and kind is so important to me.


So why us? Not because we can’t cope. But maybe because we can cope, because this reminds us of our strength and because there is a reason we were chosen? To give us experience to be able to help others. 


It might break us for a while, but ultimately our strength will shine through and we will get through it.


2.2.24

Unseen. Unheard.

Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

Shouting from the bottom.

Trying to prove her worth.

Showing her capability.

Her knowledge.

Her strengths.


Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

She shouts louder.

From the bottom.

Others move past.

Around and above her.

She remains beneath.


Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

She wonders if she is invisible sometimes.

A spare part.

She wonders if she belongs.

She hears words sometimes.

No actions.


Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

Waiting for a change.

She questions her capability.

Her knowledge.

Her strengths.

And she starts to break.


Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

She’s at the bottom.

But feels like she is sinking.

Lower. Lower. 

Wondering how this is possible?

How you can be lower than the bottom.


Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

Is she imagining her voice?

All the things she is doing?

She sometimes thinks she’ll get there.

She’s moving.

But she isn’t.


Everyday feels the same.

Unseen.

Unheard.

She’s lost. 

She’s stuck.

She’s sinking.

Deeper. 

Deeper.


Everyday feels the same.


Unseen.


Unheard.




Pub Fridays

I  picked my two boys up from school, we popped to a shop then drove a different route home.   “Pub?” I didn’t really expect a reaction from...