I’m just a girl who can’t say no.

worth a re-read methinks!

Heart & Soul

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Oh Lordy, we are a funny breed at times!

Lately I have found a common theme amongst clients is the almost feverish need to push ourselves to the point of burnout,and why? because of a very outdated way of behaviour, for some reason many of us at times almost revert to 1950s housewife mode in an endeavour to keep everybody happy. Everybody but ourselves. It has took me almost a lifetime to get a grip and start saying no. I am by nature a people pleaser, anything for an easy life, but at what cost? The cost dear reader , can be a whole myriad of health issues, from complete exhaustion , migraines and general malaise to more serious issues such as fibromyalgia and ME.

I no longer agree to anything that I don’t want to do, whether it is attending a function that doesn’t really interest me, or joining…

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Blackbird.

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Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly, All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise……..

Some years ago whilst recovering from a rather nasty period of ill health (nothing madly serious but enough to send me a wee bit bonkers) I suffered from the kind of malaise that almost sucked the life out of me, every morning I would do my usual routine of going into my beloved garden and wandering, round and around, back and forward, not finding joy in the pert buds of my English roses, nor basking in the scent of Summer flowering Geraniums, not even feeling my usual bliss as the swaying purple Lavender tickled my legs. I was lost.

Summertime has always been my very favourite Season, the garden comes alive, I love the chaos of everything fighting for sunlight in order to bloom to their full potential, yet I remained untouched.

At the bottom of our garden stands a beautiful Magnolia tree. That Morning standing before the almost luminous pink petals, soft and still, my thoughts were interrupted by a sound. Movement. My Heart began to quicken, the garden was silent and still, but suddenly I was aware of being watched, in the center of the Magnolia tree, sat a small fluffy bird, eyes like saucers, his chest rising and falling with each nervous breath. A fledgling, a baby Blackbird.

I fell instantly in Love, this little Bird seemingly couldn’t fly,( you and me both Birdy) what should I do?, I retreated back to the house softly and watched from a distance, very soon Mama and Papa Blackbird appeared bringing food, I watched, almost afraid to move as they fussed over Birdy, watching him eat before leaving.

Over the following days, I visited him often, aware always of the watchful eye of his parents, slowly he appeared to be making his way out of the Magnolia Tree into various other shrubs, he was just so beautiful. I looked forward eagerly every Morning to see my little guest, tiptoeing out to leave tidbits in order for his parents to find food easily. As the days went on, Birdy became stronger,as did I, though often panic set in when I couldn’t see him because he had ventured farther afield!

Then one sunny Vanilla coloured Summer Morning as I stepped barefoot into my garden, I knew, I just Knew, Birdy was nowhere to be seen, he had found his wings and flew off into the big wide world. I at once felt sad that he had gone, yet happy for his flight to freedom.

Nature is the greatest Teacher I find, it reminds us that life goes on and at times when we feel stuck, with a little gentle encouragement from our loved ones and the helping hand of a stranger, we can all learn to grow and fly.

Some weeks later, I was looking out of the window, sitting on the fence very close to the house, was a rather handsome young Blackbird, head tilted and looking in! could it be? I chose to think so.


Overwhelmed or Underwhelmed?

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A Woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, will often ache with the sadness of an Underwhelmed soul’~ Lysa TerKeurst.

I am tired. I tell everyone, I am tired.

I am feeling overwhelmed, I have been here before, the people pleaser in me is trying to keep all the plates spinning, The clutter in my house is due to me offering to help a friend, I feel stifled by it. I am going to a Wedding at the Weekend which I am not even a teeny bit prepared for, what the Hell am I going to wear? I am already stressed out at the thought of leaving the puppies overnight. The car is misbehaving, I need to book it into the garage, Life is super busy but I am getting nowhere fast, like a hamster on a wheel. I appreciate in the grand scale of things, life aint that bad! I get the whole gratitude thing believe me, I do count my blessings every day, and yet I am fraying at the edges.

I watched the very Beautiful Royal Wedding on Saturday, who could not be touched by this wonderful union between our very own Prince Harry and the beautiful Doe eyed Meghan? I felt very emotional, yet a part of me (the bitchy part clearly) thought ‘ That lucky Bitch will never ever have to do laundry again.’ Oh Dear. Laundry and I have a very tense relationship, The ironing basket is teetering almost at falling point, I totally resonate with Erma Bombeck and her  famous quote .

My second favorite household chore is ironing, The first being, hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint’

When will it get done? do I even care?

So…..Rant over, what should I do? I am not alone, I know this, we live in a society whereby we expect too much of ourselves and allow others to expect too much from us. As a Therapist I am constantly preaching about self care, Time to look a bit closer to home and take some of my own advice.

The answer is really very simple.Firstly, Say No. Learn how to say No and mean it, Say No to feeling guilty about the damn housework, going to bed early with a book, cancelling a night out to stay home and watch netflix! drop the guilt!

Secondly, make a list, prioritize your week, what is absolutely essential and what can you totally ditch? (Ironing obviously)

Lastly, maybe, just maybe we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed because we are rather underwhelmed with life ( See the opening quote above!) What do you love to do, but don’t actually have the time for these days? yesterday I baked, in my silly little kitchen with only Nina Simone for company, I baked a coconut cake and scones, made tiny little sandwiches on vintage plates, and we all had a rather lovely afternoon Tea! I haven’t done that for so long and it was perfect. I love to write, yet I am not finding the time, Make the time Woman!

There are Twenty four hours in a day, according to my ‘fitbit’ I spend on average seven hours sleeping ( Another thing I have become a slave to! it reminds you when you need to get up and walk, no wonder I am shattered!) that leaves me approximately seventeen hours a day. Surely I can organise them wisely?

Or I could tackle the ironing.

Every Picture…..

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When I was around Eight years old I was taken on a Caravan Holiday, by my Wonderful Grandma( to the right of the above pic) and her Sister, whom I called ‘Auntie Elsie’ ( Great Aunt really) This Photo came to light a few weeks ago, whilst rummaging through my Mothers huge stash of Family photos, almost instantly I was transported back to that week with two women whom were such a Massive part of all of our lives, not just mine, so much so that I am in the process of writing their story….. watch this space!

My Grandma lost her own Mother when she was just Eight years old, Elsie was a newborn, the family were separated and went to stay with various relatives, but nobody really wanted a new Baby, times were hard, families were large enough and sadly Elsie ended up at Nazareth House Orphanage, from there she went to a Convent in Carlisle. My Grandmother fought most of her life to get her home, Elsie would be forty three years old before that happened, And yet the bond between these two Sisters was undeniably strong, as though they had been together every day of their lives.

My feelings when I looked at the photograph, were ones of joy, I remembered the lemon shaped soap that we washed with, Grandma had bought it especially for our Holiday from Fenwicks, her cardigan that she wrapped around my shoulders when it was chilly at night, shell collecting with Auntie Elsie, nightly games of Bingo for pennies and watching Elsie crochet with silks she told me, were the colour of spring crocus. Yardleys Freesia dabbed on my wrists by Grandma. Sleeping in between them and the three of us giggling like schoolgirls long into the night, early morning cups of tea and having my hair brushed whilst listening to the constant chatter, Oh how I wish I had taken notes! They were tremendously funny!

Of course these beautiful souls have been long passed, but every now and then, my own Mum will say to me and laugh ‘ You are so like your Grandma!’ usually when I have said something a bit inappropriate!

I am honoured to have been even slightly influenced by you both ladies.

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Shoe Porn,Netflix and other Addictions.

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I have finally worked it out that I have an Addictive personality, Thankfully my vices are relatively harmless, at worst, a waste of money and time consuming, at best….. well there isnt a best really. I feel I need to address this issue and make better use of my time and possibly save money! Hurrah! This is a good thing!

I have, like many Women, a life long Addiction to shoes, I am particularly drawn to very narrow, high heeled, bloody crippling ones that leave me scarred and blistered after only one quick hobble in them.( see the above pic. Absolute killers) I once made a video of my favorite shoes and posted it to Facebook. I shit you not. Shoes then are my crack cocaine in the addictions department. I went food shopping on Saturday, but accidentally wandered into a Shoe shop and wandered out with a lovely pair of silver sparkly high heel sandals! I felt like Cinderella! even though I had to force my feet into them with all the gusto of an ugly Stepsister, I bought them. Very practical.

Next up is Netflix, Whatever did we do before we learned how to binge watch and entire series in one weekend? probably had a life thats what! I am in serious danger of becoming a couch potato, currently waiting for my next fix of ‘This is us’ I am constantly looking for a new series ( However nothing has come close to ‘The following’)

And then there is my Amazon problem, for the Love of God, somebody ban me from buying every single book that gets a half decent review! we still have libraries!, not for much longer if we keep downloading everything on our Kindles! I need to stop, aside from the Kindle downloads which I convince myself dont actually count, there are the books, piles and piles of them! Books which I struggle to find time to read, because I am so engrossed in some mini series on Netflix!

Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Practically taking over my life,I’ve managed to stop photographing my food,(I mean who cares?) and am sticking to Puppies and the garden for now, but Oh how addictive is Pinterest? I long to be that crafty/great at cooking/skinny/have a beach house in Malibu. But I’m not, and fantasizing about some other Womans life, whilst perusing through her perfectly staged photographs, will not change my own. *sighes*

So there we go! My name is Gena, I am addicted to Shoes, Netflix, Amazon and Social networking! Anybody know where there is a group?

P.S. I blame the Weather, if it was Sunny I would be in the Garden (pretending it was Malibu Obvs)

Blah blah blah………….

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There is no other way to describe it I’m afraid, after a restless nights sleep, whereby I lay awake contemplating everything from my diet, finances, the ironing (WTF?) to worrying about the Russians, I got up this Morning feeling distinctively BLAH.

After a rather pretty day Yesterday, all sunshine,puppies and laundry actually drying on the line, cups of tea in my favorite china cup, this Morning here in the bleak North we have rain.Again. I know this because it is pouring through the ceiling in this crappy old house. It no longer is a house of certain charm and character, but a money drain.

*Sigh*

Yeah that!

However…. this just wont do! I put a bowl under the leaky ceiling, light a candle and prepare to turn my thoughts around, in doing so I know for sure I can change my day.

I run a hot bath infused with epsom salts and a few drops of geranium oil, I take my kindle and my Neals yard face products into the bathroom and set them out for a mini facial, I then warm some towels on the radiator, prop up the aforementioned Kindle on my fancy schmancy bath rack, and visit my favorite blog Brocantehome, for some much needed inspiration. If you have not visited Alisons lovely site, you really must, A wonderful cosy place to be, I read her latest blog post and backtrack through some older ones, this very clever Vintage Housekeeper is the perfect tonic today.

Soon, I am feeling uplifted, refreshed and relaxed, I am remembering to feel gratitude, We have a roof over our heads, Albeit a leaky one! we have hot water, food, comfortable beds, already I am thinking about the food I will put on the table for my family tonight, enjoying a favorite TV show with my Daughter today, snuggling puppies and the pile of books I am working my way through!

It is so worth taking the time to sit with your feelings, then make the decision and commitment to changing your thoughts, I think it may have been Wayne Dyer who coined the phrase ‘ Change the way you think about things, and the things you think about will change’

Still not sure about the ironing though.

 

Mrs Pettigrew and A grand cup of tea…..

I am by my very nature, a nostalgic creature, my Vintage background never far behind me, I hanker for a pretty life, I long for simpler times when we appreciated more and took less for granted ( yet separate me from my iPhone and I become a shaking mess! I am nothing if not a total contradiction) If you follow me on Instagram you will be aware of my obsession with tea cups and tiny floral plates, I like tablecloths and napkins, I am a bit of a faffer! The modern world is a funny old place, I admit to avoiding much of it and often closing my front door to it all to cocoon myself within my cosy home.

However…. I have two Daughters, I must flow with the times, so quite often we find ourselves in one of the many high street coffee establishments, much to their amusement, ordering drinks is an absolute ordeal for me! I invariably get the order wrong and when it comes to me, I stand staring in a bewildered fashion at the large scary menu board ,before finally shunning a medium chocallatto cappithingy with milk of a llama, for A GRAND CUP OF TEA PLEASE! ( a China cup wouldn’t go amiss either but hey ho)

” what kind of tea?” The sulky server grunts

” err brown tea?”

At this point the Daughters have sloped off in shame to a corner table, whilst I mentally calculate the absolute extortionate cost, and debate whether or not I need to sell a kidney ( depends if they want cake or not)

This is such a contrast to the times my Mother took me out as a Teenager for tea and cake, our next door neighbour when I was growing up, was an absolute Darling of a woman called Mrs Pettigrew, she had worked from being a girl in an old fashioned tea room in the city centre, called Pumphreys, she actually baked at home and took the scones and cakes into her workplace on the bus!can you see sulky Sharon from Starbucks doing that?

Anyway I digress! I remember occasionally as a special treat, we would get the bus into town and look at all the lovely dresses in Fenwick’s, then wander down to Pumphreys, even then in the seventies it was like a step back in time, the waitresses in black dresses and white aprons, sparkly silver cutlery, napkins and yes! Bone china cups and saucers! Mrs Pettigrew would attend to us personally, always smiling and chatty, I loved her so much, I remember the warm scones, the tiny dishes of raspberry jam, and steaming hot tea poured over a silver tea strainer. I was spoilt for life.

I often think of Mrs Pettigrew, I wonder what she would have made of today’s offerings? But then is that not the whole thing about nostalgia? If nothing changed we would not have those memories to return to.

Agnes Pettigrew….. it was a grand cup of tea!

Autumn….Bliss or Blues?

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Hello! Its been a while! I do apologize for my absence, life has a way of running away with me and at the risk of sounding absolutely ancient , time seems to be speeding up as I get older! Never the less, it has been quite the loveliest of Summers, albeit being a bit wet at times here up North, I have enjoyed my Garden so much, we have two new Puppies, everyone is well and happy, lots of exciting new things happening. And yet. Yes it seems the minute the clock strikes midnight on the first of September it is as if a switch is clicked and immediately the nights are a little darker, the mornings a little cooler, and my mood a teeny tiny bit quieter. This is Autumn.

Autumn I believe is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it, Many of my friends love it, they fully embrace the large woolly (and itchy)  jumpers, jeans and boots, whilst I find the whole clothes thing a nightmare, and you will have to prize my sparkly flip flops from my cold lifeless feet! I love being barefoot and wearing, well not much in the summer, Ahh sweet freedom!

But here we are and here it is and whilst the clothing situation is not ideal, it is a rather pretty season dont you think? We are spending lots of time dog walking and it is kind of blissful, the trees are just starting to change colour and leaves slowly falling, it is the season of letting go, of just being, cosy nights and cinnamon scented candles, hot baths and warm beds,the odd murder mystery book and hot chocolate, a thrilling TV drama to look forward to, Soup making and fussing about the house. It is as if we are preparing to hibernate, Nurture, be soothed, rest, sleep,live well.

Incidentally…..I love marmite.

 

Extreme self care.

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In my working life as a Reiki Practitioner I am constantly reminded of how absolutely frantic our pace of living is these days, I see so many clients who are dealing with stress and anxiety, the workplace is a hard task Master, so many of us having to work longer hours for less money,running a home, raising families, often single handedly.

Whilst it is all well and good to appear in control, wrestling our wonder-woman costume out of the wardrobe with one arm, whilst perching a child on our hip with the other, here’s the newsflash Toots….. something has to give…. 

When it is clear that our health is at risk through our levels of stress, it is time to embark on some extreme self care.I am not talking about an hour in the bath with a glossy magazine (although it never does any harm does it!) I am talking about taking responsibility for ourselves, making time to look at ourselves and recognize when changes need to be made.In order for us to function as a whole, we need to address all aspects of our being,Mind,body and spirit.

From a Reiki therapists point of view,I deal with balancing the energy fields,but of course there are other alternative therapies out there, which can be just as wonderful, Indian head massage is amazing for tension release, reflexology by an experienced therapist can leave you feeling revitalized, but if your anxiety goes deeper, or if you are experiencing difficulties in moving forward,why not explore areas such as hypnotherapy? or NLP? If you are in the North East of England, take a look at Lifebodysoul there are a range of events coming up with something to tempt even the most frazzled amongst us! Monthly talks and workshops from a variety of experts .

Start today,look after yourself  Wonder-woman.

 

Desert Island books.

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It will come as no surprise to you dear reader, that I harbor a serious addiction to books, I come from a long line of bookworms, my children have inherited the gene. Tis no bad thing.I love, love,love to read, I devour the written word as though it were Manna sent from the Gods, I was raised on a diet of Enid Blyton who allowed me to retreat into a world so far removed from my own, that as a shy and introverted child, I longed to linger in this fictional world where children actually had friends, wore gingham dresses, fairisle jumpers and went on the most amazing adventures on their bikes.I longed to be riding alongside them, wind blowing through my flaxen curly locks, to smugglers cave armed only with a super picnic of heaps of lettuce, bags of tomatoes, cooks ginger cake and lashings of ginger beer.Sadly it was a mere fantasy, I had straight dark brown hair, never had a bike and spent my days being picked on at the local comprehensive.Hey ho, I guess it was character building.Anyway! I digress! The point of this post is of course about my love of reading, one day recently I discovered that Simon Mayo on radio two hosts a ‘ desert Island books’ slot, as opposed to desert Island discs.He invited celebs to choose their favorite books and to chat a bit about them, so interesting! and I thought about some of my favorites and thus decided to do a blog post! ingenious mais oui?

So in no particular order, I present a section of my all time favorite reads, I must stress this is a very small selection, I could go on forever, but I have chosen the books that have stood out and I wont or cant part with! I am discovering new books every day, new authors who captivate me and make me laugh or cry, Oh the mighty power of the word! so here we go;

If I were on a Desert Island, my chosen books would be, in no particular order;

1.The secret diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend.

Written in 1982 in the midst of Thatchers Britain, this Diary was surely the forerunner for many others written in this format such as our beloved Bridget Jones, Sue Townsend was a magnificent writer, I have read all of her books Adrians diaries continued for many years each time giving a humorous yet poignant view of life through the eyes of a young man and his journey through life.This book was one of the first books that mad em e laugh out loud whilst reading, on reflection it is a brutally honest history book.Adrian Mole has a permanent place in my heart.

2.Cold comfort farm.By Stella Gibbons.

I read this book so long ago and it remains a joy to read,first published in 1932, in my opinion way ahead of its time ,it is the story of Flora Poste a young woman sadly orphaned, who goes to live with her much poorer relatives on cold comfort farm, Of course the family are mad as a box of frogs! from Great Aunt Ada Doom who saw something nasty in the woodshed, to Amos who found religion and who can forget the cousins of Flora, Seth and Ruebin, smoldering with sexuality! it is so funny! of course our heroine Flora arrives just in time to restore order at cold comfort farm.

3.The country girls, by Edna O’Brien.

Be still my beating heart.I read this as a very young woman, Edna O’Brien very quickly became a favorite author, this beautiful story of young girls Kate and Baba growing up in Dublin, of first love and of loss, friendship and naivety, in parts this story absolutely broke my heart, I felt the pain of Kates envy of the beautiful Baba, her unrequited love for the narcissistic Mr Gentleman, the girls story continued into ‘the girl with green eyes’ and ‘girls in their married bliss’ but for me this first book remains a favorite.

4.Heartburn by Nora Ephron.

Nora Ephron was the screen writer behind the likes of ‘when Harry met Sally’ and ‘sleepless in Seattle’ She was an amazing writer and very funny, I do have a few of her books which are very funny, but this one I love because basically it is Noras own story.Published in 1983 it tells the story of a high profile couple Rachel and Mark, who are going through a marriage break up, it is actually autobiographical and tells of the break up of Nora’s own marriage to Carl Bernstein, his affair with Margaret Jay features largely in the story. Although Nora makes the story amusing, her pain to me is almost palpable, the book was made into a movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson eventually. The book is at once funny and sad, only Nora Ephron could find the humor in the darkest of times.

5.Nella Lasts war.

In 1939 as part of a mass observation project by the government, housewife nella Last began a diary that lasted thirty years, she lived in Barrow in Furness and although originally the purpose of the diary was to chronicle the effect of war on the average person, Nella found a kind of respite in her writing, her writing is as relevant today as it was then, Women then faced the same challenges we do now, although much has changed for women of course, I felt a sense of nothing changes fundamentally, it is fascinating and I became extremely fond of Nella. This book was also made into a movie featuring our beloved Victoria Wood, called housewife 49, I could not imagine anyone else in the role.

6.Behind the scenes at the museum by Kate Atkinson.

This is one book I can happily read over and over again, the prose is just beautiful, it is ultimately a story of a family narrated in the first person by Ruby Lennox, it is a tale of love and of losss of family life, Ruby’s Mother Bunty is permanently dissatisfied with life in a flat above the pet shop in Museum gardens with husband George and their children, she would much rather be Vivien Leigh, there is both laughter in tears in this novel and a massive twist in the tail which we should have seen coming but I for one didn’t!

7.Eat, pray,love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Who doesn’t love this one! This book has become like a bible to so many, Liz Gilbert was a woman in her thirties living the seemingly perfect life, great husband, fabulous home, but not happy, after a bitter divorce she sets off on a journey to find out what is missing in her life.She takes us to Italy, India and finally Bali where she meets a toothless medicine man who reveals a new road for her. Every page is just a delight, again I can re read this one again and again! Elizabeth Gilbert is a very wise woman and her words resonate with me on so many levels.

So there you have it! my list could go on forever! I have so many favorite books this is really just the tip of the iceberg! I would love to hear what your desert Island books are, all I need now is a desert Island, well a girl can dream!