Going with the flow & not sweating the small stuff at Christmas!

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Actually, for the first time in a few years, I am excited for Christmas!

Not to sound like a miserable cow, but I must admit, the last couple of years have felt a bit shit without Mum being here. She was my Christmas. So much of how you celebrate the festive period is built around how you spent it as a child.  All the traditions, the smells, the songs, the 80’s brash decorations! I loved all of it!

I certainly don’t want this to be a sad blog just before Christmas, but I know a few people that are experiencing Christmas for the first time this year without one of their parents, or a parent that is incredibly ill and I just want you to know that you’re in my thoughts.  It doesn’t seem like it now, but I want you to know that it does get just a little bit easier as the years pass.

I can’t believe that this is the third Christmas without Mum. I remember the particularly well…  Ellie constantly raising her glass to Nanny – which felt like a knife to the gut every time she said it, and I remember it just feeling very empty without her there.

That first Christmas was also the year that George Michael died, on Christmas Day! I’d managed to pretty much hold myself together that whole day, but when hubby came in and told me he’d passed away, the flood gates open.  I’m not sure whether I was crying for Mum or George, but I just let it flow!

I was surprised at the resilience I found to get through the day… until I’d drunk my weight in gin and the news of George Michael passing away was announced.  Your brain is a very powerful organ and it does everything it can to protect you – including pushing thoughts and feelings to the back of your mind so you can get on with life.  However, if you need to let those feelings out… do that too. My mantra was ‘just go with it’…. Your body will tell you what you need to do.

To be honest, the last few years, I’ve avoided doing some things that made me think of mum at Christmastime, like shopping trips.  It was just too hard to walk around and be reminded that Mum isn’t here. Seeing lots of mums and daughters picking out presents, having lunch with bags piled up next to them, I hated it! Thank goodness for Amazon – it’s been my saviour the last few years!  This year however, I did drag hubby for some Christmas shopping and all was fine.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is, if you don’t feel like doing things because they feel too difficult, then don’t do them.  Look after your sanity – there’s always another year.

I must admit, I have been a little more relaxed about Christmas this year.  I remember in the past, feeling very anxious in the lead up to it. I would want everything to be perfect, the house to be spotless, every eventually for food to be covered.  But this year, I’m a little more chilled.

When you think about it, Christmas Day is just another day. We get so bloody stressed about the whole occasion but how many of us think ‘thank f@ck for that’ when it’s all over? Every year I say, I’m not going to get so worked up over Christmas this year and that I will have everything done and dusted well in advance, but as I type this I still have a load of presents to wrap and a list of food shopping that I didn’t manage to get last night on ‘The BIG Shop’!  But its all good, it will get done at some point so there is no need to panic… and if I don’t have celery to stick under the turkey as it goes in the oven, Christmas will still be great, and nobody will actually give a shit!

What has also helped with the feeling of Zen around this time of year, is that Ellie seems to be a little calmer.  Christmas is not always a great time for children (and adults) that are on the autistic spectrum.  She is still obsessed with what food is going to be eaten and when (that might come from me!) and gets excited/anxious about different things that are happening, but this year it just doesn’t feel quite so fraught.  Maybe my new Zen-like state just lets it all wash over me (along with flashing the ‘Vs’ behind the fridge door).  I also discovered the magic of Reiki this year… maybe that’s helped too!

I’ve also been doing a Self-Mastery course in the latter part of this year.  What the hell is that? (yes, I hear ya!). In short, it looks at ‘your own life story’ and the struggles, celebrations, and the pivots in life that we all go through.  You then look at how you’ve behaved during the difficult times and look for patterns. Do you self-sabotage? Do you sit in denial? Do you move on quickly from something bad and not allow it to process? (I’m guilty of all of them!)

Learning to forgive, being mindful and practicing things like gratitude and self-care (along with other aspects that I won’t go into right now) has been a big part of the course and I know it has helped me greatly over the past few months. Everything we have been through in our past shapes who we are now, and this course has been invaluable to me in so many ways.  I’ll write a standalone blog on it in the new year.

If you’re still here at the end of this somewhat waffle-filled blog, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing in my journey on the blog this year and wish you and your loved ones a Very Merry Christmas. Have fun, stay safe, don’t sweat the small stuff… and I’ll see you on the other side. xxx

Love and hugs

TOMD xxx

George’s Hypno Journey… Part 1!

After a year of panic attacks, it was time to take some action to help my son get over his fear of letting our dog off her lead… so, after trying to solve the situation in a number of different ways with no success, we looked at Hypnotherapy!

For the last 14 months, my son George has found it impossible to cope when it comes to taking the dog out for a walk.  He could just about manage to walk her on the lead, but any time it came to taking her off the lead, he would suffer with severe panic attacks.  This trigger of panic all stemmed from an incident that happened when our dog was just a few months old.

One particular afternoon, our little puppy decided to follow some lads to the other side of the park and into the car park.  With the four of us all panicking, she bolted and ran across the road that our house sits on.  Thankfully a neighbour managed to secure her i in their garden and she was fine.

A few weeks later, we were out with her again and I’d persuaded George that everything was going to be ok.  He was very nervous about this and I’m sure the dog picked up on this.  As she ran across to greet another dog (which they do constantly when they’re puppies) George started to panic… and scream.  Our pup was having none of this and decided to run home – she literally took herself to our front door.  Sadly though, from that point on, George couldn’t cope with taking her out anymore.

We tried so many was to encourage George to let her off.  We’ve tried the softly softly approach to help gain his trust in her, tough love, persuasion and even bribery.  We went to an enclosed park space especially for dogs, but he wouldn’t entertain even getting out of the car!  As time went on, his anxiety only increased.  It got to a point where he would have a full on panic attack at the thought of taking her out.

I was at the end of my tether, and short of writing into ‘This Morning’ and asking that Speakman couple for help, I decided to look at getting George hypnotised.

Thankfully, I knew just the person to help…  I messaged my wonderful Reiki practitioner Michelle from Fairy Heart Therapies and got George booked in.

I can’t lie, having George be so afraid of taking the dog out has been quite a strain on the family.  We bought a campervan this year to replace our car and we envisaged having these wonderful adventures over the summer… running through forests and walking along beaches (all very idealistic and Instagram ready!).  But that just didn’t happen. We managed a few canal walks but that was about it.

George himself was really keen to get over his fear.  He so badly wanted to feel ok about taking our dog out and watching her run, but the memory of her running away as a four month old puppy would trigger the panic.  He was even a little excited to see Michelle and try some hypnotherapy!

‘The Cabin’ at Fairy Heart Therapies is a sanctuary of calm and warmth and George was very keen to get in and see Michelle.  When I say keen, I mean giggly, overexcited and not exactly in the right frame of mind to have hypnotherapy performed on him!  Michelle chatted for a little while about why he had come to see her and about his feelings and fears.

Michelle explained to George about why his brain kept reminding him about the scary situation with the dog and how she will be able to talk to this part of the brain and tell it to switch that feeling off.  She told him that she will explain to his subconscious part of his brain that Dusty (that’s the dog!) is ok and that he will not feel panic when she is taken off the lead.

Once George felt more relaxed, sat in the comfy chair, Michelle started to introduce an exercise that would help him focus on becoming sleepy… counting from 10 backwards and with each number his eyelids would get heavier and heavier.  George smirked and fidgeted and I was already starting to think he was just playing along.  Then Michelle moved onto another exercise, explaining that he was standing at the top of a flight of stairs and his eyes becoming heavier with each step.

He looked peaceful, but I still couldn’t tell if he was ‘under’ or not!  It all started to look promising… until he did a little smirk at the end and I wondered if anything had really happened. My heart sank.  Rightly or wrongly, I was pinning all my hopes on this working.

We then talked through some exercises we could do to help George with the panicky feeling.  Giving the feeling a colour and using our bodies to push the feeling away whilst repeating the mantra “keeping calm”.

Next day, on the way home from school, I decided to  walk with George and the dog around the park on the way home.  Just one minute at a time was the recommendation, so that’s what we did.  George did his deep breaths, pushing the anxious feeling up into his shoulders and down his arms and kept saying “keeping calm”.  We managed a minute before Dusty was back on the lead.  It was clear to see he was still struggling.

Any attempts over the coming days to go over the park was met with excuses.  A week later I approached the subject of taking the dog out… guess what happened… he had  complete meltdown!

We were back to square one!

To be continued…

Love and Hugs,

TOMD xxx

Why ‘Ghosting’ is not cool!

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I thought about writing this blog exactly a year ago… totally because of the Halloween timing, but because I knew it would be hard to write, I put it off.

So, if you don’t know what Ghosting is, let me explain.

You usually hear about Ghosting in the dating game… if you thought being dumped by text was rude, this just got to a whole new level!  Maybe you’ve been seeing someone for a little while and all of a sudden, they’ve blocked your number, removed you from social media – they’ve vanished. You have no idea what you have done, no explanation… do you make an effort to contact them or not?  Maybe they’ve been run over by a bus!  But there you are, they’ve disappeared and you just got Ghosted!

I’ve also heard the term Ghosting being used when a friendship breaks down, or when you’re ‘phased out’.  I’m not just talking about an acquaintance here, or someone I would say hello to in the street… this is ‘Sister from another Mister’, oldest school friend since the age eight kind of friendship, and given that I’ve now passed the big 40… that’s a whole lot of friendship right there!

I’ve tried so many times to pinpoint when this all happened.  When did I start to be ‘phased out’.  I can’t.  There was no row, no bad words.  I just remember that there was a  point where I was always the one making the effort. Friendship is a two way street, however this road was only going one way.

Things hadn’t always been this way.  Not so long before the ‘phase out’ began, the friendship was very much a two way thing, maybe even swinging the other way. We would spend well over an hour on the phone of an evening when we’d be seeing each other the next day which my hubby would always find hilarious. We’d hang out as couples, going out for drinks and meals, spend time at our house, and she was a big part of our kids’ lives.. they adored ‘her’.

What I do know now, is that when things were very much about her ie; big birthday bash, getting married, I would be very much a part of her life. All the planning – yep, happy for me to be a big part of it!

So what changed? Maybe real life… and realisation of what is to come… or not to come.

There was one big difference between myself and ‘Ghosty’.  We’d had children (her godchildren), however the likelihood of this happening for her was slim.  Not in a mother nature’s decision kind of way – it was very much a choice thing.  And although I’ve never been told, because I wasn’t deemed worthy of a conversation, I’m sure this is the catalyst that drove the wedge between us.

So what happens when you get phased out?

For a while, you continue as you always did, texting funny stuff, trying to arrange to meet for a coffee, but those texts stop getting answered and there is always an excuse not to catch up.

After a while you start playing the game ‘lets see how long it takes before she makes contact’.  You leave it for weeks, months and then cave!  Then there would be more excuses not to catch up. It would leave any further meetings more awkward with this big fat elephant in the room.

Things that you traditionally do in the year don’t happen. Christmas presents get dropped in by others, birthday cards delivered when you’re on school run and the message is clearly given that you’re not worthy of their time.

It’s not you, it’s them…

The one thing I took from the whole situation was that it wasn’t just me.  My other friends from our friendship group were being treated similarly, I just seemed to be taking it the worst.   I also found out that I was being blamed for the breakdown of the friendship group as a whole.  Nothing to do with the fact that ‘ghosty’ was being a shit friend to all of us! I found that pretty tough to take.

What is so difficult about the whole Ghosting situation is that you don’t get closure.  You don’t get to say your bit. You don’t get to ask why.  What would I say if I had the chance? I must have gone through a conversation in my head 1000 times.  But I was never given the opportunity to say it.

So how does it feel to be Ghosted?

It’s a complete head fuck to be frank! You get to wonder what the hell you did wrong.  You get to analyse every text message you ever sent to see if it was something you might have said.  You feel hurt when they ignore you, pretending not to see you as they walk past you in the street.  You feel heartbroken.

Don’t just take my word for it…

This is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much

I know what it’s like to go through grief when someone dies, and whilst this will never touch that experience, losing your oldest friend of 30 years and not being told why is a pretty significant second place.

We shared so many memories, from dancing in my bedroom to Wham, to school discos and college parties to pop concerts and hen weekends.  You go through a grieving process of not sharing those memories with that person anymore.  You think about all the things you did for them in the past and feel bitter for how you’ve been treated.

I totally get the fact that people move on in different directions during their lives, and I’m cool with that.  What I have found difficult is not being given the courtesy of a conversation and to get closure on the whole situation.

Time to move on…

I can’t lie, it has taken me a good two years (probably more) to come to terms with it and it’s not just affected me but my family too. Thankfully, I have bloody amazing friends. I make sure I surround myself with positive, supportive people that light up the room… not turn all the lights off!  I don’t have time for negativity, stubbornness and constant critique of every situation – so maybe I actually got the good end of the deal!

grayscale photography of five people walking on road
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My advice though, if you find that you’re in a similar situation with a friend, a true friend, do the decent thing and have a conversation about it. Don’t be a dick and ‘Ghost’ them!

 

Until next time…

Love & hugs,

TOMD xxx

 

 

Find Your Tribe… Love Them Hard!

silhouette of four people against sun background
Photo by Dennis Magati on Pexels.com

Ever since I started my social media course last September, I have had many experiences of  ‘women tribes’.  They have come in many forms… course cohorts, networking groups, and workshops.

What I’m talking about here isn’t my usual group of friends… not my ‘girls’ that have known me forever, who have seen me at my best and my worst (which was probably face down pissed up on a pavement in Newquay!).  These are women I have never met before, who sometimes live in different parts of the country, come from different walks of life but all thrown together for the same cause.

As you may have read in previous blogs, I have recently started a course involving mindset and how you can up-level your business by getting over your fears and negative thoughts.  Last week our cohort of nine, plus our mentor Andrea, had our first Zoom meeting – posh term for ‘a meeting over the internet’!

The conversation involved how we got on with writing ‘Our Story’ (see previous blog)  and what our ‘Wins & Stretches’ have been this week.  What was so refreshing was to see how everyone was completely honest about how they were feeling. No pretence, no making out everything was great.  There were tears and fears laid out for all to see, and whilst there were apologies at first (we are British after all!) this vulnerability was so refreshing and gave us all permission to bear our feelings.  This is how you build trust within your ‘Tribe’.

I came to do this course following a workshop I did a couple of months ago.  Again, this involved women who, once they all got in a room together, realised they’re not alone in feeling inadequate, not good enough, that they can’t reach their potential and that they’re too fearful to push out of their comfort zone for fear of failure.  (Read ‘Yesterday, Three Women Changed My Life’ for more details).

During my six month course with Digital Mums, I was put together with six other women who were taking the journey with me.  We would meet over the internet every Thursday evening and talk daily on WhatsApp.  The fact that these other women didn’t know me from Adam nor I them, almost gives you permission to be your most honest… almost like a counsellor does.

During the six months of the course, we all went through the ups and downs and we were all there for each other on a daily basis… not only to get through the work that we needed to do to pass, but life in general.

Six months after qualifying, I still talk with my ‘Frida K’ girls daily and we managed to meet up in real life just after we graduated in May.  Another meet up is due soon… it’s just a logistical nightmare trying to get seven women free at the same time!

Something really incredible happens when you get a room full of women together… and I don’t mean on a Hen Night! 

On Saturday I went to a ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ workshop to support a wonderful lady I have recently met whilst networking.  I took a friend along with me and I had met a few of the  other ladies there before, but only really as much as ‘what do you do for a living?’.   However, once we all got chatting about how we felt about ourselves, there was a shift.  There was this ‘green light’ where it was perfectly OK to share our vulnerability.

With all these experiences I have come to realise, that it really doesn’t matter who you are or what your standing is in the community… we are all women going through similar things in our lives and we are best when we support each other, not tear each other down.

So, don’t be afraid to do something outside your comfort zone. Go and meet new people – whether it be at an exercise class, running club, mother and baby group, further education or workshops.

You never know where you might find another ‘Tribe’.

Until next time,

 

Love and hugs… TOMD xx

Run for your Life!!

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!


Ok, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic!  It should maybe read ‘Run for your Health’… or ‘Run for your Mental Health’ as I truly believe the two go hand in hand.

Its no secret that this last six weeks has been the most challenging ever in terms of changing behaviour, meltdowns, anxieties and upsets of my ‘near Teen’.  It’s been a mentally draining six weeks with a whole lot of patience required, sometimes it breaks, sometimes it doesn’t. I think yesterday it finally took its toll on me.

For the past few days I’ve been getting that all too familiar feeling of anxiety brewing in my belly.  The feeling of not feeling right… the increasing deep breaths I was taking, my enthusiasm and ‘get up and go’ fading more each day.  Then yesterday, I felt… nothing.  I felt numb and knackered, not feeling like doing anything… and not in a ‘I can’t be arsed’ kind of way, just ‘I can’t’.

I simply lay all afternoon on the sofa, but not snuggling up with a movie having a pj day… that’s enjoyable.  I just felt completely zapped of energy and the only thing to keep me awake was the first half of the charity football game for the Grenfell Tower… Jamie Dornan playing football was NOT going to be missed!  I paid my text donation and enjoyed! Then I slept (most likely dreaming of Mr D in his football shorts! 😛).

I woke up still feeling rubbish.  I wanted to have a good cry, but good old Prozac kind of puts the breaks on the floodgates… a telephone call with my Dad encouraged a trickle. I felt like I seriously didn’t want to do anything.  A night out with the girls… No!  A cosy pub with the hubby… No!  I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to shake this off.  I haven’t got time to be depressed…. I have a Social Media course to start this month and two girly weekends away coming up… I really needed to shake this!

It didn’t help that daughter dear had a half hour meltdown which was (once again) triggered by food… the bigger pizza I was cooking was not quite ready, which obviously meant she wasn’t getting any… obviously!!  This in turn pissed hubby right off as he has also been feeling stressed.  Bloody hell,  I couldn’t even own my ‘pity party day’ all by myself!

Well, as they say, today is another day.  Today is also the day of our local half marathon in support of Cancer Research UK, of which hubby is an organiser – hence the stress the previous day!  There was no way I was going to dip out of this and let him down.  Thankfully, I’d made the sensible decision of doing the 10K race this year rather than the half (mainly because I’ve been rubbish with my running and I couldn’t be arsed to put in the miles of training!).   Sensible decision made I’d say, given the miserable day we woke up to this morning! 🌧🌧

So, I got myself up (after several snooze hits!) and got my shit together.  I have to be honest, I’ve never been so unprepared for a race!  No kit ready, no ‘carb loading’ the day before which I would’ve done in the past, which is a sure sign that I’ve lost my mojo for it.  I didn’t even have a watch to track my time – something which I’d been obsessed about in previous races!  I figured today, I will just run… not bust a gut… just run.

And that is what I did… and I felt all the better for it.  If nothing else, its an hour of not having anyone call my name or “MUM”!!  The race was fantastic, the rain didn’t bother me… I felt like Forest Gump and ‘just kept running’. I even managed a not too shabby time considering my pretty non-existent training programme this summer!

I know in the past when I have felt low, exercise and good diet, however much I didn’t feel like doing either, helped me to feel better and today was no exception.  Although, I’m not sure the gut-busting Chinese I’ve scoffed will count as good diet! 🍚🍜😋

Aaaaah well, Monday tomorrow… I’ll start then!

FYI, the header pic is my hubby and I proudly completing last year’s Half Marathon raising money for Ovarian Cancer Research in memory of my dear Mum. ❤

Until next time.

Love and hugs

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Here’s to Gin & Friendships and Psyching myself up for the holidays!

It’s midday on a Sunday and I’m still sat on the sofa in my summer PJs. After having a very much needed day out drinking Gin and eating platters of meats and cheeses with my two oldest school friends, I’m now sat thinking about the stretch of the six weeks holidays in front of me!

Arrrrrrggggghhhh!!!!!!

I’m buggered whatever I do here. If I have a plan all written down, Ellie will go on and on about it, decide it will be rubbish and drive me crazy and if I don’t tell her she will go on and on about and decide we’re not doing anything and it’s going to be the worst holiday ever…driving me crazy 😜!!

She actually got upset when I told her that we wouldn’t be doing something every day! With 43 days to fill, I’m not putting myself under that sort of pressure… plus, I don’t have a money tree at the bottom of the garden! I know, there are lots of things we can do for free, and believe me, we will, but the stress of going out is sometimes too much to bear!

We’re due to go out for a walk along the river this afternoon with the dog, stopping off at a little pub and then walking back again. Hubby started to chat about the dog (who’s still new to the family and only four months old) and how much he loves her to which Ellie said accusingly “you don’t love me then”!  True to form, always turning a conversation around to her!  So already feeling stressed Ellie then started worrying about what we are going to talk about on our walk and whether we were going to have a good time. No matter what we say to reassure her (which I can only do for so long before I sound sarcastic) she still looks like she’s been slapped around the face with a kipper! 🐟

At this rate, who knows if we’ll go as Ellie is currently upstairs ‘calming down’.

The thing is, Ellie is now 12 years old and a lot of her peers go out and meet up with each other, have sleepovers and do things together.  This doesn’t apply to Ellie.

I’ve no doubt that her peers think the world of her and support her – she’s in a lovely tutor group, but like most of our special ones, Ellie finds friendships difficult.  She’s never been asked to a sleepover or around a friends house which is heartbreaking.

Thankfully Ellie really enjoys school and has a lovely little mate called Ed who is also partially supported by Ellie’s LSA. To me, enjoying school is the most important thing,  everything else is a bonus. However, when I think about the firm friendships I formed at secondary school, I would really love that for Ellie too… and I don’t mean a big group as she couldn’t handle that. The only plus side at the moment is that there’s no bitching and friendship break-ups – see, I’m a ‘glass half full’ kinda girl!

It is thought that high functioning autistic children have feelings of intense loneliness, even though it is thought that they like to be alone.

I find that so sad.

I know Ellie watches a lot of things on YouTube of young girls and families vlogging about having sleepovers, doing ‘friend things’ and she compares her life to theirs and must wonder why she doesn’t do those kinds of things.

I suppose that brings me back around my friendships. I am so incredibly lucky to have a wonderful group of friends and also amazing friends outside of that friendship group.  They are the best form of therapy (though this blogging lark is pretty good too!) they don’t judge (true friends don’t) and their support is second to none.

I thought that when my mum passed, that I would be lost without that female bond (my mother-in-law was also lost to cancer), but this awful event in my life has made those friendships stronger. They’ve been a tower of strength to both me, hubby and the kids and I know any one of them would be there if I needed them… as I would be for them.

I just hope Ellie gets to be as lucky as I am one day.

Until next time,

Love and hugs

TOMD xxx

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