blogging, Love, parenthood, self-discovery

Love is…

As I’m lying here awake next to my sleeping son, Jenson, curled around him at the most awkward angle so he can sleep soundly I’ve been thinking about love.

Pre-Jenson, loves was so simple. Well, not simple, but less complicated, less selfless, less of a daily choice. With hours of free time at my disposal and having so much more sleep, it was also more resourced. My capacity to give and show my love to others was greater. But things are different now and my love for others and myself looks different.

When I started to write about my new relationship with love, listing the attributes it holds, I noticed that it started out sounding like part of the bible that I remember from my childhood:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I suppose this is describing a perfect love. One which, being an imperfect human, I do not reach. Because I can be so easily angered these days and my patience is quite often threadbare-thin when I’ve been up since 4am with a wide-awake baby.

But it does describe the love I call upon as a parent more than the love I needed before. I have more patience, I let go of the times Jenson screams for no apparent reason, I keep on going with rocking him and singing to him even when he keeps crying, I beam at him when he wakes me up at 4:30am, I put him first.

But what about my love for Gregg, my husband? With this all encompassing motherly love, I’ve felt my love for him and for other people be squeezed out. Not enough love left to give when it’s supposed to (or at least that’s what I thought) be a never ending source. It’s not that I don’t love him, but I have less love to give.

What’s going on with that?! I mean, I know I love him and I love other people but I feel so drained and empty from all the love I give Jenson. As I’ve shared before, sometimes even reaching out to give my husband a cuddle or a kiss seems too much because I’m so worn down from pouring all my love onto a little human who doesn’t like to be put down by himself, doesn’t want to sleep away from my arms and loves to be sung to, treasured and interacted with for a large proportion of the day…

The old Amy would have said that I just needed time to replenish myself. Space to blog instead of snatching moments when my husband has him at the weekend or he’s asleep in my arms. Time to process and be kind to myself. A nice long bath by myself with a good book. But that’s not practical at the moment.

And if we lived closer to our families or close friends, it would be possible to get some time just as a couple. It’s the price we pay for living in a city we love, far away from family.

We could ask friends in Brighton but Jenson is so demanding (sorry Jenson if you read this when you’re older – it’s true! You are a demanding little pickle!) that it doesn’t seem easy to ask that of others. An hour looking after Jenson is an hour of actively bouncing him, singing, stopping him cry…although it could be an hour of him playing calmly under his activity gym – it’s so unpredictable.

I know this is a phase in early parenthood which will pass. Too soon I’ll be thinking back to and missing the moments when Jenson would sleep in my arms. And along with the tiredness and strain, it is true that I’ve found a very new and beautiful love that I never knew I had inside me.

It’s just more complicated, that’s all.

blogging, eating disorder, husband, Love, motherhood, self-discovery

Reaching out

I spoke to my husband today and told him that, for the first time in a long time, I felt the urge to overeat. To comfort eat.

It’s not surprising since I’ve recently gone through the biggest change in my life, my world has been turned upside down, I’m managing not only the needs of my own but that of a new human who I don’t understand and have lots of people visiting, which brings other dynamics to juggle.

I’m not trying to be ungrateful for all of this, I’m just being honest – it all just feels a bit overwhelming at times.

And in this moment, I felt a weight press on me and the only thing I knew would remove the weight was to force it down with food. Lots of food.

And then I realised that food wasn’t the only thing that would remove the weight of pressure bearing down on me. I knew I could remove it by reaching out.

And so I reached out and I told my husband I was feeling suffocated and was struggling. I shared the feelings I was having.

And as if by magic, the feelings went away. I suddenly didn’t have the urge to push my feelings down because I allowed myself to feel them. I listened to what was going on for me.

Not only did this help me in the moment but, knowing what was going on, my husband then was able to help me. He sat me down, got me a drink, gave me a cuddle and left me alone for a few hours of peace and alone time as I fed Jenson.

If only I had known so many years ago how little it takes to make this feeling go away – just acknowledging what’s going on for me and reaching out to someone I trust.

This new life as a parent is so wonderfully beautiful and impossibly difficult and I have a feeling that I’ll need to keep on reaching out over and over again.

And so that’s exactly what I’ll keep on doing.

blogging, Love, motherhood, pregnancy

Happy tears

I’m being driven back from Bristol to Brighton by my husband and, sat here in the back, watching over my son, I have tears running down my face.

Happy tears.

I feel so lucky, so happy, so full because of where I am and all that I have.

I’ve been on the brink of tears so often since Jenson came into my life and that’s ok because they have mostly been happy tears.

Tears of gratitude for the NHS

As I wrote in a previous post, my experience of giving birth with the national health service was totally and utterly amazing. My midwife was so kind, supportive and I knew she had everything in hand.

At one point, towards the end of the labour, she asked me where I wanted to be (in what position) to give birth and I said ‘the position which will make me the most powerful…what is that?’

She replied back to me ‘you already have all the power you need inside you. So what feels right to you?’

Throughout the labour, she guided me to trust my instincts and showed me that I had everything I needed to get through the experience.

Gregg and I returned to hospital to give her and the staff a thank you present for all their support and luckily when we arrived, our midwife was on shift – I got to see her again and thank her personally. And when I saw her, I felt my eyes well up with tears of gratitude, as they are doing now, for all she had been to me.

It’s particularly sad to hear in recent days how the NHS is under such strain and, through conversations with friends who work in healthcare, to learn how under pressure staff members are. To hear that the stress is such that some (particularly those in training) are even turning to suicide as they feel unable to cope.

I don’t know what I can do about this but I do know that I owe so much to the medical professionals who looked after me so diligently and with such care and that I want to fight for the NHS to get more funding, more support and for its staff to get more respect for the amazing job they do.

Tears of gratitude for my family

My family have all been super heroes to me in the lead-up to and the week following Jenson’s birth. They have shown their care and love in every day actions that have taken the edge off the difficulties of being a new parent. Taking Jenson for an hour so I could have a much needed nap, cooking loads of delicious vegan meals, popping out to get essentials, bringing me chocolate, encouraging me to rest up even if it meant spending little time in my company, holding me when I cried, listening to what I needed from them…and the list could go on.

And seeing my nephew, Oscar, with Jenson (or as he calls him ‘Golden Jenson’) brought such warmth to my heart – I can’t wait until Jenson is toddling after his two cousins, trying to keep up with their antics and games.

As we left my family to travel back to Bristol this morning I held back my tears of gratitude, not wanting to make the goodbye more difficult than it already was. But I know my family read my posts and I am glad that they’ll know, through this post, how thankful I am for everything they’ve done for me.

Tears of gratitude for good health

I’ve got a wonderful group of new parent friends thanks to the NCT classes I attended last year. One of the little boys who was born on the same day as my Jenson had some serious heart conditions and this morning went into surgery which had a 10% chance of him dying.

I’ve just received a message from the parents saying that the operation went well and when I heard this news I cried with relief for him and his family.

It is so easy to take good health for granted but knowing how ill little Charlie was makes me realise how lucky I am to have a healthy little baby. And knowing how fiercely I love my little son, I feel relief for the parents who will, hopefully, be able to start life with him properly soon without fear for his life.

Tears of happiness for how full I feel

I can’t describe how I feel as anything other than ‘fullness’. Full of love, full of incredulity for how happy I am as a parent, full of the richness and wonder of life.

And this feeling of fullness is even more acute because I didn’t know how I would feel about becoming a parent, right up until the birth.

Gregg and I wanted children at some stage in life but we never had the feeling that we needed to have children to live a happy and fulfilled life. So when I found out I was pregnant, I was happy but also unsure about what this would mean for my life and the beautiful relationship I have with my husband.

And I had several twists and turns in pregnancy which took me back a little bit;

  • learning that I was having a boy when I had hoped slightly for a girl,
  • having the placenta situated on my stomach wall, which meant that I didn’t feel the baby move as often as you usually would in pregnancy (and so feeling a bit disconnected from the pregnancy experience),
  • finding out we were expecting a baby a few months after I started in new job and not knowing how this would impact my career.

It feels wrong to share this with you – that anything other leaping for joy and happiness is unacceptable – but it’s the truth of how I experienced my pregnancy.

So I feel this fullness so greatly, because it is so unexpected. Such happiness, such fierce love for my son, such richness in my life.

So yes, I’m crying a lot, but they’re good tears. Tears I know will keep coming over the coming days, weeks and months. But I’m not going to hide them – I’m going to welcome them; let them pour because they remind me of all I have in life and just how lucky I am.

blogging, gratitude, Love

Things I love

Last year, I wrote a few posts about things I love (you can read them here and here). They were great fun to write and a lovely focus of the things that bring happiness to my life. So I thought I would spend a few moments reflecting on what new things I love.

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On a whim, I downloaded the five minute journal to my phone a few weeks ago and I love it! So much so that I bought the paper version for my sister for Christmas.

It’s a really lovely way to start and end the day and involves prompts for reflection about what is going to be great about the day, what I’ll do to ensure it’s extra good and then, in the evening, to reflect on what I’m thankful for as well as what could have been done better.

I love the daily quotes which always give me something to think about and the weekly challenges (such as ‘take a walk with a friend’). This app has brought gratitude and goodness into my life on days where I’ve tumbled out of bed on the wrong side and have the potential of spending the whole day as a grumpasaurus.

The Pool

A fair few blog posts on Courage Truth Love have been prompted by articles I’ve read on the Pool, a current affairs/topical news site for women. Every morning I receive an e-mail from them and it’s the one I can be sure I’ll take the time to skim through and read. Their articles make me think, laugh out loud and helped me to find Christmas presents that have done a bit of good for the world.

De-cluttering

I love a bit of de-cluttering. There’s nothing I enjoy more than going through my house and finding things I can donate to a charity shop or clear up/throw away. I love feeling like my life is light and I’m not burdened down with material things. This year I’ve rid myself of my DVD collection that I hadn’t touched in years, streamlined my book collection to those I’d be sad to not have anymore and in 2018 am planning to do project 333, a challenge of wearing only 33 items of clothes for 3 months. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here.

My sister

Today is my sister’s birthday – happy birthday Chlo! IMG_4155And she is definitely someone I love and am thankful for on a daily basis. From showing me YouTube videos that make me cry with laughter (see the one below, you’ll thank me – or you’ll thank Chloe) to the honesty and openness she approaches life with. She brings so much goodness to my life and I’m especially grateful for her on her birthday.

I could write so many more things I love, but instead I’m going to enjoy time with family. I hope this post gives you some things to look into, ponder or simply gives you an interesting glimpse into my life.

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blogging, Love, pregnancy

To my boy

To my boy,

It’s the first day of my third trimester of pregnancy and I can’t quite believe that in three months or so I’ll have you in my arms.

You still seem like an idea, sometimes even a joke – how am I capable of taking care of another human being?! – and despite feeling you move more and more in my belly, it’s hard to imagine that you will soon be here.

I feel so much about approaching motherhood. So much fear (if I’m honest, that’s the overriding feeling I have at the moment), such a great sense of responsibility and so much anticipation of who you will be, what life will be like with you here and how we’ll navigate the unknown roads of being mother and son together.

I’ve heard so many things from other people about motherhood – how as soon as you arrive I’ll find it hard to recall how life could ever exist without you, how my heart will fill with such a depth of love and wonderment for you and how I’ll be willing to do the most mundane things because they’re for you.

But I can’t quite picture it yet.

I know I want to do my best for you – to raise you to have as little fear in life as possible; to accept yourself exactly as you are; to follow your passions instead of what the world says you should be.Adobe Spark.jpg

This is both my highest hope and my deepest fear.

What if I’m unable to provide these things for you?

And I also ask myself what I’ll do if this is not what you want for your life. What if your path is to live a safe life, not a daring one? What if you long to journey on a road well travelled by others instead of forging a new route for yourself?

I’m torn, wanting you to be independent and fiercely yourself and wanting you to feel that you can be exactly who you are meant to be with no sense of judgement from me.

There are so many values that I want to instil in you – a respect for the planet, a kindness for those less fortunate than you and an ability to view women as your equal. But I know that these are my values, ones that have taken 33 years to form and are ones you may not always share.

I know that I’ll also need to create space for you to be able to create and step into your own values, but I’m sometimes so passionate that I find this hard to do.

I know we’ll need the help of other people as we start this journey together – both friends and family – and that scares me too. Because if I’m strong and capable and handle things myself, I don’t risk getting let down by others and I’m used to living like this. But I don’t want you to learn that you always have to be strong, capable and handle everything yourself. I want you to be able to reach out and ask for help where needed. So I need to start doing this, for both me and for you.

I want you to spend more time outdoors than you spend watching TV, to be present in life instead of numbing your experience with food/drink/drugs and I want you to live offline more than through the fake reality of social media…but boy oh boy, that has some ramifications for me. The example I will have to set for you when I currently watch too much TV, turn to alcohol and flick from whatsapp to facebook to gmail more often than I’d care to admit.

Mostly, my darling, beautiful boy, I know that I’m going to fail you. Yell at you, lose my patience, weep with exhaustion, freeze you out when I’m exasperated and take over when you need to learn something for yourself. But I also know that I’ll be doing my best and that’s all I can do. And you will fail me too, as hard as it is to write this. You will have tantrums, overstep the boundaries we set for you, give me sleepless nights, be rude, embarrass me and rebel against me as you learn to find your own independence. And all through this time, I’ll try to remember that you’re doing your best, and that’s all you can do.

So I hope that you are able to forgive my imperfections, to see the good in me and in turn I will forgive your imperfections and see the good in you too.

With all my love,

Mum xxx

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blogging, life coaching, Love, self-discovery

The power of being heard

You may know that I’ve started life coaching people both in and outside of work. As part of my qualification, I also need to be coached for a certain amount of hours and I’ve started working with two coaches to talk about different areas in my life, both personal and professional.

I had an amazing session yesterday with my coach, Helen, where I was asking the question ‘how do I market my coaching business and attract the right people to me?

I was grappling with what I should do – get myself out there, pay for advertising, be a bit pushy in getting people to notice who I am, what I do and get them signed up to work with me. But at the same time, I felt uncomfortable about this (especially being pushy) as it’s just not me.

It’s not how I want to be. I don’t want to sell or market myself – I want to just put myself out there and welcome the right people to work with me. Those who want some space to explore their next move in life. Those who are struggling to find self-acceptance and could do with a helping hand to believe in their self-worth. Those who are on the verge of something new and need some support as they leap into the unknown.

But I’d got myself into such a tangle of what I should do, how I should market myself, what ‘putting myself out there’ looks like. I’d lost sight of the drive that led me to complete my studies and start this work in the first place.

The desire to help people.

Just spending an hour with Helen talking about my thoughts and the tension between my values and the ‘shoulds‘ allowed me to find myself again.

To center myself, my desires, my aspiration for coaching.

The hour of being listened to helped me to rediscover my dream for coaching, which isn’t to have a full time coaching business (although that might come in the future). My dream is to help people and to be a source of support and love and kindness to those who could use a helping hand.

And suddenly I was able to see that I didn’t need a flawless marketing plan, a strong sales programme or to even do any of my ‘shoulds‘ but to instead reach out in a way that is authentic to me and to welcome the right people to work with me.

I got so much from that short 60 minutes and, as well as gaining such insight into my coaching, I also rediscovered the power of being listened to. How having someone focus on me and my needs is such a beautiful thing.

And with the support from Helen and my new found clarity, I can’t wait to see where this journey will take me.

If you’d like some coaching to get some support you in your life, please look at my introductory coaching offer or fill in the form below to arrange a 30 minute chat with me. 

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blogging, gratitude, Love, self-discovery

Abundance

Happy Saturday dear friend! Another weekend has started for me by waking up, fully alert at 6:30! If only that was how I woke up during the week!

I spent an hour relaxing in bed and thought about a book I’m currently reading called Do Less, Get More  by Shaa Wasmund. A lot of what Shaa includes in her book is common sense and based on the loving principle of living life on your own terms instead of being held back by ‘shoulds’ or how other people think you should live your life. So it’s great reading, but not full of ‘aha!’ life changing moments for me.

Something she did share which has stayed with me is the notion that abundance comes from a spirit of gratitude. Let me say that again – abundance comes from a spirit of gratitude.

I suppose this has hit me so hard because I’ve committed to avoid buying as much as I can from new and instead get things second hand. This is in the hope that I can have some positive impact on the environment. And with this commitment, I’ve experienced a number of different emotions:

  • Relief that I’m doing something which will hopefully have an impact
  • Smugness at being so righteously self-sacrificing
  • Annoyed when I can’t automatically buy something I want
  • Pleased to see that curbing my spending habit is increasing my savings

But I haven’t felt any abundance…as I feel like I’m depriving myself.

So I want to take a few moments to think about all the abundance I have in my life to combat this deprivation mindset:

I’ve got such an abundance of love from friends and family. I’m supported, seen for who I am, accepted exactly as I am and have such beautiful, real connections in my life. IMG_2019

I’m in the incredibly wonderful position to have a mortgage and have bought a flat with my husband which we love. It’s perfectly proportioned to what we need…and then some as it’s big enough to have a lodger who helps pay towards fun things, like holidays in Hawaii! 

I’m going on holiday to Hawaii! How much more abundant can you get than that?! Two weeks away on a tropical paradise island, exploring volcanoes, eating great food and spending time with my loving husband. 

I’ve got enough stuff to last me longer than I could ever imagine – lots of clothes, books a plenty and my gorgeous, indulgent macbook which helps me to write these blogs and work on courage truth love with such ease. IMG_3430

I’ve got a great job that I love to death. It’s challenging, stretching, exciting and full of people who inspire and support me in my work. 

By buying less from new, I get the excitement of the hunt. Time in charity shops searching for the perfect top, hours in the library choosing from a never ending supply of stories, giving to other people as I buy things second hand.

I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but can see without a doubt that buying stuff isn’t where you get abundance. It is indeed, as Shaa says, from realising that being grateful for all you have is where you realise that you’ve got all the abundance that you’ll ever need.

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blogging, gratitude, Love, self-discovery

Coming home

I’ve been feeling a little bit anxious over the past 24 hours. I can tell this because of how my brain has been tugging me to dwell on that which doesn’t serve me. The size of my stomach, a small remark I made in a conversation that didn’t quite come out as I wished it to, an event from the past.

Anything to distract me from my present moment.

But I can start to see past these distractions. I recognise these thoughts as what they are – signs that I need to draw back into my personal strength, to listen to what has triggered these anxieties and show myself compassion.

Am I tired and slightly too far extended from work/personal commitments?

Am I feeling slightly vulnerable because of new things in my life, like starting my coaching business?

Am I feeling apprehensive about something coming up?

And when I see past the chatter in my head to reach for what my heart is truly calling out for, it feels like I’m coming home.

Coming back into my heart. Coming back into my truth. Coming back to myself.

And for that, I feel truly grateful.

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blogging, gratitude, Love, self-discovery, Wellbeing

Celebrate the good

I believe in being honest about what’s not going so well in life but I also believe it’s important to foster gratitude and hope for what is great. My recent blog posts have been so very helpful in acknowledging the crunchy, tricky, uncomfortable feelings I’ve had but now I find the pendulum swinging back the other way with a yearning to write about what is good, what has gone well, what I’m hopeful for.

So here I go!

Feeling important

One of my core desires, the thing I find myself searching for in my life, is to increase my sense of importance. This isn’t to plump up an already overinflated ego, but instead is the search for certainty that what I have to share is as important as anyone else. A rebalancing of the chatter in my head that tells me I’ve got nothing to offer, that my views aren’t valid, that I don’t deserve to be heard…and you know what? My new job gives me exactly that. It is AWESOME!!! I’m able to share my opinions, contribute to meetings and put forward ideas that are set into motion. It makes me feel so good.

Yoga

I know I’ve said that I don’t like yoga – that I instead find balance in other ways (writing, meditating, time alone). But I’m taking that back because I’ve found a yoga practice that I LOVE! It was a strange thing that led me to yoga initially – I’m part of an online 20s-30s social group for women and, to try to meet like-minded people, I signed myself up for a yoga class they were putting on. When I was walking to the event, I said to myself “why did I choose to do a yoga class?! I hate yoga!” and I have to admit, I almost contemplated not showing up.

But I went.

And it was so lovely. In a class of only five people, the movements were slow and the teacher guided us to breathe deeply from our bellies as we moved from one posture to the next.  I felt myself slow down in my thinking, breathing and in my body during that one hour. I’ve been back every week since and now it’s a part of my life I wouldn’t want to do without. I’m so grateful for Sun Power Yoga.

Hawaii

Last year I had a flight mishap (when don’t I have flight issues?!) where I missed a flight back from Vancouver, bought another ticket for a plane which had to be grounded in Iceland for repairs…and I got £1400 in flight compensation. And with this money, I’ve just booked airplane tickets for a 2 week holiday in Hawaii with my husband!!!! I can’t wait to explore, relax and see a bit more of this beautiful world. I feel awkward sharing this great news with you, dear one, because I know friends who deeply deserve to get away on holiday and aren’t able to because of caring responsibilities or lack of money. I feel too lucky, like I’m undeserving of this good fortune and am almost waiting for the bubble of happiness to burst. But I want to believe that I’m worthy of good things…and so I’m sharing this with you. I’m going to Hawaii and I deserve to be happy.

Body confidence

I don’t want to jinx the good things going on in my life at the moment…but I feel a small shift in how I view my body of late. It’s not that I’ve suddenly got super skinny…it’s that I find I’m not putting as much judgement on myself for looking the way I do. It’s not my top priority.

  • When I look critically at my body in the mirror, I’m more often than not able to say ‘this is not all I am‘ and show myself love.
  • When I see a bit of a wobble on my tummy or am able to pinch a bit more of flesh on my sides than I would ideally like, I can see that it’s just flesh and not a reflection of how valid or worthy I am as a person.
  • When I’ve eaten too much and my mind runs to the exercise I am going to do tomorrow to compensate, I tell myself to wait until tomorrow to decide what I want to do.

I walk about 10,000 steps per day, I do yoga once a week…and that’s enough for me. I want to be active, I want to be healthy, I want to allow myself treats…and I’m finding myself able to live in a space of greater body kindness. Something I could have never contemplated a few years ago.

There are so many more things I could share with you…writing this post has opened me up to the realisation of how much good there is in my life. It feels so lovely to celebrate and share it with you and I hope it has made you pause to contemplate all that is good in your life.

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blogging, compassion, Love, self-discovery, truth

My best

These past weeks have been a bit manic! Two hen parties, a busy schedule at work, close friends staying at my place during the week and my brother and his two children visiting this weekend. This afternoon, I’m jetting off to Derbyshire for a wedding and we’ve got my mother and father-in-law coming to visit next weekend, so the pace doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon!

When my good friend, Sarah, was leaving my house yesterday, I said to her “I’m sorry I haven’t been my best these few days” because I have felt like I’m spread so thin I didn’t have my usual amount of Amy to offer her – the most sparkly, bubbling, energetic and enthusiastic person I am at my best.

But she said to me “you have been your best – you’ve shared what you had to offer in the moment”.

And it has made me pause and reflect. It’s opened me up to the possibility that it’s ok to not sparkle and shine to my fullest all the time. But more than that, in those moments, I’m at my best, offering what I can in the moment.

So there’s no need to feel bad or ashamed at what I have to offer. Because it’s my best. And that’s enough.

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