Hibernation…..

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As October approaches, I find myself on familiar turf, wanting to do everything and nothing all at once, A hundred plans dance in my dizzy head, yet a certain lethargy envelopes me daily. I make lists of epic proportions and methodically tick off completed tasks, the days are going by quickly, Evenings are relentless, I long for bedtime, I sleep like a dead person.

I need to hibernate.

In Simple Abundance  My beloved Sarah Ban Breathnach, as usual is uncanny in her accuracy of this time of year, She starts the chapter with a quote from Edna St Vincent Millay.

My Candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night…..

She goes on to address the subject at hand, namely; Burnout.

Its burnout when you go to bed exhausted every night and wake up tired every Morning….when no amount of sleep refreshes you, month after weary month’

Oh Sarah, how right you are! ( For those of you who dont know, this Book is my Bible!)

As a Therapist I am all to familiar with the theme of burnout, amongst Women and Men! we just keep on pushing and pushing ourselves, I give great advice on self care, indeed I have wrote quite passionately about the subject, have dished out many handouts and tips on looking after number one. However, do any of us actually do it and maintain it?

The bottom line is this; only we can do it, by saying No sometimes, by catching up on sleep, not missing meals, it is really the basics we need to attend to first, ditch the guilt, you do not have to attend the office night out if it feels like a chore, you do not have to watch the X Factor with the family on a Saturday night if you would rather be in bed with a good book.Leave the dishes for tomorrow, Is it really that imperative that every area of our lives is fit for Instagram?

No of course not.

The last paragraph in the October first Chapter of Simple Abundance says it all

When you are suffering from burnout, you are the only person on earth who can help, because you are the only one who can make the lifestyle changes that need to be made; to call a halt, to take a slower path, to make a detour. When you have no strength left, you have no choice left but to rely on the strength of a saner power to restore you to wholeness. In the pursuit of our Souls, Spirit takes no prisoners.’

Fat bottomed girls…….

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It is fair to comment that I have spent much of my life endeavoring to have a smaller bottom, Many, many years spent in ghastly aerobic classes with Women of a similar mindset, all of us lamenting the unfortunate size of our posterior. An absolute lifetime of eating lettuce in order to avoid any weight gain at all in the aforementioned area, not too mention slathering all kinds of bum firming lotions on my (if I say so myself) pert little cheeks. And here I am, at the age I am, with an OK bottom, it is average, provides sufficient padding to sit on and all is right in my world.

Or is it?

It appears that these days (God how old do I sound?) not only is big better, but the height of fashion, I am absolutely fascinated/horrified by this latest trend! we are not merely celebrating the curvy female, but young women are actually undergoing surgery to have BUTT IMPLANTS!!!!

WHAT!!!!! Are you mad!!! Women are paying vast amounts of money to look like a cartoon character! It looks ridiculous! what with the humongous Boobies, trout pout and gigantic bottoms, nobody looks real! Yep! I am old fashioned, but I look at these young women and they all look the same! whatever happened to originality? what happens when you want the implants out? you are going to have to carry your Arse around in a shopping trolley!

On a serious note, it concerns me that we have a generation of young people who think that happiness can be found via the surgeons knife, that in order to be acceptable in society, they have to have an instagram ready body, I am all for self improvement, I have always been a tad vain, but yes, healthy eating, buying the next magical anti ageing product and doing a little exercise is fairly acceptable in my book, but lets all celebrate our different bodies, we are all unique, real beauty is not silicone based, it is a blinding smile, the glint in the eyes, the whisper of kindness and a hint of the light within.

Embrace your loveliness girls, whatever the size of your Bottom!

I’m just a girl who can’t say no.

worth a re-read methinks!

Heart & Soul

multitasking-overrated

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.