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Just 4

My littlest one was four in January. I say ‘littlest’ but in real terms (of centiles and sibling/cousin comparison) she’s the biggest. Size 12 feet when she was just 3! Anyway, she’s not long turned four.

A few weeks ago I mentioned cutting her hair thinking it’s more than time for a trim. For perspective, the last trim she had was last June when I lobbed off an inch or so with the kitchen scissors when she was in the bath amidst a relatively minor but still bork-inducing nit-infested panic. This time, Lucy asked to have her hair cut like her brother’s. She has said this before and the feminist in me is all ‘hell yea you’d rock a boy cut’ and ‘oh God that’d be so much easier than trying to rake a brush through your hair every day*’.

I showed her some pictures and she decided she wanted it short and that she wanted to donate the hair like her Auntie Louise did in January. She knows I did mine too but doesn’t remember. I drew the line at shaving her head though, despite the fact she would suit it I bet. So we sorted a mobile hair dresser and every day following I reminded her that she was going to get it cut just to make sure that she was sure. She did say that I should get my hair ‘cut long’ at one point so I wondered if she realised the permanence of the whole thing.

We talked about donating her hair like Louise and I did and she thought that it would be brilliant to give it to someone who doesn’t have any hair (and suggested auntie Louise could have it now she’s bald!). I was asked about sponsorship. To be honest, I’d not thought much about it at this point as we were just going to donate her hair. When I explained to Lucy that people wanted to sponsor her she thought it was a great idea, not least because she thought that she would be the recipient of all that money! However, once I explained how it worked she was cool with it!

Today was the day and she’s been asking what time Donna was coming all day. However, once she did arrive Lucy was in the middle of building an intricate train track with her brother and didn’t want to be disturbed (typical!). However, my persuasion tactics of a digestive biscuit and bloody Elsia and Annia videos on YouTube (seriously, avoid!) worked their magic and she had the hair chopped!

The next bit was trickier as she wouldn’t stay still! But she totally rocks her new ‘do. She’s been so laid back about the whole thing and went straight back to her train track when finished!

She’s totally wonderfully brilliant and I’m so proud of her. I wish I had her style and nonchalance!

My beautiful Lucy.

*a couple of times a week at best

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What do you want to be good at?

I watched a video the other day where a young boy was saying something along the lines of:

If you let yourself get angry, you become really good at it. In fact you will find it easier and easier to get angry. If you let yourself get worried, you will become really good at it and you will find it easier and easier to get worried.

Then he asked:

What do you want to be good at?

Ultimately, what he was saying was ‘practice makes perfect’ and if you practise negative feelings, you live them more and more. It’s hard to get off that road sometimes, especially when others are dragging you down their path, but you must.

It’s ok to say ‘no’ or ‘enough is enough’. Just this week I’ve supported someone who’s done just that and I quoted the video above. I reminded them that you can listen to someone else’s negativity but you don’t have to accept it. Being kind to yourself is still being kind in the same way that showing someone that you won’t be a pushover, isn’t being unkind.

So, what do you want to be good at?

And don’t forget:

Advent

It’s the First of December and the LoveJoinMes are finally beginning to indulge a bit of Christmas!

This morning we opened picture advent calendars (we’re all for tradition here!) and talked through some ideas I had about advent this year. To us as a family, Christmas is about giving, about sharing joy and happy times with family and friends, and about food, of course! To the children, it naturally falls that it’s about receiving, which is ok in my book as to give to others is for them to receive too. But the message in our family is clear: giving and sharing is what it’s all about.

With that in mind we are doing a reverse advent calendar. Each day of advent we will choose something to go into our Advent box. At the end of advent, hopefully on Christmas Eve, we will drop off our Advent Box at a homeless shelter, a refuge drop off point or the food bank.

Here is today’s offering:

Soon the box will be full and we hope it will make someone happy at Christmas time. Of course, giving should be an all year round thing. However, it’s all too easy to fall out of habits of donating. Christmas is a good a time as any to start (or continue!) doing good. So, will anyone share a bit of love and join me?

A runner’s RAK

This morning I stumbled upon a post on a running Facebook group (Run Mummy Run) which made me and many other fellow runners click the ‘angry’ emoji.  This lady was upset because when she showed her boss pictures of her running waist-deep in water and completely covered in mud, his only comment was that she looked big. She used the acronym CW to describe him (Google it) and it is definitely what he is. 

Having only recently got back into running, I’ve experienced some negativity too (I’ve been deliberately rammed by a pram, jeered at, beeped at…) and it can be really demoralising.

What is amazing about this lady’s story however, is that a few hours later she received a bunch of flowers at work (hopefully in front of her CW boss!). A fellow runner had seen her post, looked on her profile to see where she worked and decided to cheer her up. What a lovely thing to do! There really are some kind-hearted people in this world. 

Her boss is a fool. Not only did she not look big at all, she looked strong, fit and bloody amazing! 

Goals

Today my Act of Kindness is one for your mind. It’s giving yourself a shake, a kick up the backside or a good talking to.

It’s become obvious to me that I work best when I have a set goal.  Through the course of Love Join Me last year we had many goals: to do 60 RAK in a year, to grow my hair without a haircut for over 12 months, to run a marathon in a month to name a few.  Each of these goals was met and with it came an unexpected sense of satisfaction.
Since the project ended I’ve been a bit lax on my own personal goals. I didn’t feel the need to set any. However, in the last few months I was lacking in something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. My life was once again swallowed by work and working-mum guilt and the stresses were starting to get to me.  I’d also read about how sedentary lifestyles are the new smoking, and being sedentary is attributed to an increased risk of many diseases and a shorter life expectancy.  I am far from sedentary, but I decided I wanted to become fitter, to do something that was self-improving . I joined a bootcamp and started going back out for runs. Louise and I decided to do 10,000 steps a day throughout June for no other reason than it was a goal to set and stick to.  Given that we are both active generally, most days it wasn’t hard to stick to. However, it didn’t allow for the odd lazy day that we were used to: those Sundays when it’s raining and you try to stick a film on or do something crafty.  Despite this, I found myself motivated, easily fitting in the steps, choosing to go the long way round when the short way was quicker.

I also made the conscious decision that I would eat better, at least during the week. I have stuck to this also and feel encouraged to keep going and making myself healthier. I didn’t think that any of this was having an impact on me physically but then I ran the park run on Saturday and I found I was motivated and comfortable running.  Don’t get me wrong, it was hard and as I crossed the finish line my hands fell to my knees to prop myself up for a few seconds as the lights flickered due to the heat. But, unexpectedly I had wiped two minutes and 40 seconds from my previous fastest time. I couldn’t believe it.  It has made me realise that activity and eating right have made me do this but also that it’s mostly in the mind.  I wanted to run faster and beat my time and I did.  I really tried.

A few weeks ago, after a similar park run, I was demotivated.  I couldn’t get faster or get a better time. I found it hard and couldn’t see a time when I would be faster. I wanted to stop because I thought there was no point. Now I am spurred on by my time.  I want to get close to that again.  I can’t see me beating it for a long time but who knows?

I’m setting myself goals and I’m sticking to them. I’ve now set myself more goals: to complete a 30-day fitness challenge and to continue with running and eating better.

So, if you’re feeling in a rut for any reason, be kind to yourself and make a goal, however small. Make goals that you are motivated towards achieving and that sense of achievement is a real boost.

Manchester

Today I had a conversation with a group of teenagers about the atrocities that unfolded in Manchester on Monday evening. I don’t have memories of such events from when I was their age. The IRA bombings that occurred in my childhood seemed too distant from me and I don’t remember feeling at risk. Even in my late teens when the World Trade Centre was hit, I still felt safe in my little town and would think to myself what would they want in Guisborough? Everything bad in the world seemed so remote and in some ways, you could shield yourself, or be shielded from it.  The young people I spoke to today are so much closer to what’s happened: they know people who were there and they know people who were injured.  They knew of the attack before they even rose from their beds on Tuesday morning, some before they fell asleep on Monday night.  They know details, they’ve seen pictures on their phones, they’ve speculated and debated. Some of them have probably cried. I look at my own children and am pleased they are too young to know what’s happened and, naively, I hope that by the time they are of an age to understand, that acts of terrorism are events in history books.

Perhaps since starting our Love Join Me project I’m more drawn towards the good things that go on in the wake of such attacks but I’ve noticed something. The more terror I see, the more kindness I see. Take away the one man (I won’t speculate on whether he acted alone) and you have hundreds, if not thousands of kind people who are willing to help others.

People held strangers, comforted children, pulled nails out of faces, searched for people they’d never met, offered free rides, food and drink, places to stay, warmth and a listening ear. They gave blood, they gave time and ultimately they gave hope. The ripple happened too.  A homeless man who selflessly ran to help the injured and the dying now has a home, some money and has been offered a job.

When the hubbub goes, the stadium opens again and the Manchester attack takes its place in history, we won’t forget the horror but we mustn’t forget the kindness either.

Pigeon Poo 

“It’s humbling being around a person such as you who despite being hurt can still be kind where kindness isn’t due”. 

This was said to me by a dear friend and it stopped me in my tracks and made me think.  I’d called myself ‘a mug’ and this was this person’s response. 

Sometimes I need to remind myself to describe myself in positive adjectives rather than negative. 

This person also said:

“Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are the pigeon will sh*t on the board and strut around like it won anyway”

If I didn’t know it already, my friend is wise! Next time I’m feeling bogged down with pettiness, I might just sh*t on the chess board first. Or maybe I’ll just carry on being me.