Push and pull

goldfish jumping out of the water

In my last blog I wrote, “Something’s coming, something good” – and guess what? It’s true!

I have to date been a bit hesitant in embracing the Law of Attraction, the basic premise of which is if you think positive thoughts, positive things will come to you and equally, if you think negative thoughts, negative things will come. But this week, having sent my positive missive out there, celebrating this period of my life as a fertile void (thanks @katenorthrup) and genuinely believing that my inspiration and period of creativity and industry will arrive when the time is right, several really exciting things have landed at my feet: the most amazing one of which is that I have got my first paid writing job! Not just that but it’s writing about issues faced by women of my age and which I find fascinating.

As you can imagine, I have been giddy with excitement, overjoyed to be given such an opportunity and encouraged by the validation: I can write well enough that someone with a strong brand and international success is willing to pay me to write for them. It very much feels like the Universe has sent me a sign of the positive things to come and that this has arrived because I relaxed into my here and now and because I believed.

The role is a small one but it feels like the start….Something is coming and it is something good. I feel alive with possibility.

But then those pesky doubts come creeping in, casting shadows on the light I have been feeling the last few days. Having received the brief for the first article I am to write, I start to question who am I to write about such issues, I feel like a fake. What if they don’t like what I write? What if it’s not good enough?

Then I start to make excuses. First, the timing is all wrong; it’s the school holidays – it’s going disrupt my focus on the girls over the summer and I promised that this school holidays would be dedicated completely to them. Then, it’s ghost writing and it’s my own voice I want out there. I want to grow my own brand not hide behind someone else’s.

I push back: it’s one article a month and you have a week to complete the first 1000 word article, easily done once the girls are in bed….Yes it’s ghost-writing but it’s still creating, still writing, crafting with words and that sets your soul on fire; plus it’s all experience, all practice, honing your skill and it might lead to other things.

But still I feel the pull of self-doubt: once those thoughts start to cloud your confidence they are hard to blow away.

I have hit my upper limit. I have had my first small writing success and the energy I have felt from that has been immense. But I find it hard to stay in this positivity for too long: I am leaving my comfort zone and so my negative responses kick-in, pulling me back to the place I am familiar with. Equally, I know that I am scared. Stepping forward, calling myself a writer, means I must own my successes and failures and so my ego (we all have one) seeks to hold me back. But not this time.

@Gay Hendricks in ‘The Big Leap’ writes in detail about this pattern of behaviour and has written a manual to help overcome our hidden fears and to take that jump into what he calls our Zone of Genius. I read this book some time ago on a trip back to Cambridge and I sobbed as I wandered through the colleges, tears shed as I identified a pattern of behaviour which has littered much of my professional life.

I drove home that day daring to hope the advice in ‘The Big Leap’ would propel me in my new business and yet a few months later I took several steps back from my new legal career. But timing is everything. Today at least I can identify my doubts and my excuses and I am going to push them aside. Writing is a dream come true and I feel called to live a more creative life. Even as my insides scream that I cannot possible do this well, I am going to fight back. I will write a great article, I will be confident in my voice: I am one of the successful women I am writing for: my here and now does not detract from my past achievements and it does not preclude future ones; I am entitled to have and share my opinions; I need not hide behind self-created and self-fulfilling gloom and doubt. I will enjoy the thrill of new experiences and trust that I deserve them and that I can and will have more. As I have quoted before, “Fear is excitement without the breath”.

So, here I am, taking a deep breath and grasping this opportunity. I can and I will do this. No more excuses.

Kerry

x

Thank you to Pinterest for the image.

Something’s coming, something good

Something

So having given myself a bit of a talking to last week, I’m feeling really excited…

If you have read this blog before you know that come September, my youngest of three daughters will start school, leaving me home alone. You will also know that I now work as a self-employed lawyer working on a consultancy basis but that for the last few months I have kept this to a minimum, feeling like my balance was out of line.

But just now, I feel almost giddy with excitement about what the next 12 months might bring.

Don’t get me wrong; if I could hang onto F for longer, I would and I will be bereft come that fateful day when I wave her into school for her first day; but in the words of Stephen Sondheim, “Something’s coming, something good”!

I am still not quite sure what and I still don’t have a fully imagined picture of how I want my days to look and feel. However, I read something recently which has allowed me to trust that my time will come. That I will figure my ‘thing’ out.

@katenorthrup recently published a post on her Facebook page which talks about the “Fertile Void”. Having published a highly successful book, Kate Northrup found herself adrift, with no desire to grow her business and no new big idea. This period lasted for three years. But then after the winter comes the spring. Kate found her new thing.

Kate writes that we are raised in a culture that celebrates productivity and so in the winter of her creativity, she felt deeply uncomfortable, like she was failing.

This resonates with me so deeply – Kate was planning a wedding and had her first baby, things which she desired, loved and wanted, yet she still felt that she was doing something wrong. Unable to just ‘be’ and rejoice because she felt like she ought to be ‘doing’.

However, her creative spark and her drive and inspiration has returned and she now celebrates her fallow time as a “Fertile Void”, a period in which she rested, was wild and during which time a new idea was forming, growing and taking form, even if she didn’t know it. Creativity, life, women, are all cyclical, all seasonal. This down time, this break where creativity and energy pause is essential and permits regrowth, permits an even more prosperous and beautiful spring. And spring will always come.

Now I typically shy away from what I will call female centric spiritual and priestess ideas, but goodness, when I read this a weight literally lifted from my shoulders and I breathed easy for the first time in a long time. Thank goodness.

And since that moment, I have felt more light hearted and have been able to live in the moment. I have felt a renewed and deeper gratitude for all that I have and have felt more able to enjoy the girls. I have relaxed, without guilt, without a worry that I ought to be doing something else. This time, this here and now, is my fertile void. My season at home, my season where my time and focus is predominantly mum but which I can enjoy knowing that my future ‘something’ will blossom.

This also releases me from any anxiety I might have about enjoying that buzz when I meet work colleagues or when I get a potential lead on a new opportunity. It doesn’t mean I am any less of a mum or that I am betraying the girls and the life I currently hold dear. It just means a new season is coming and that since I am inextricably bound to the natural order, I too will see a new dawn.

I feel a new confidence that I have something to contribute and that I will find my way, when my time is right.

I know lots of mums wonder where their ‘old’ self is and cannot imagine how they will find a way back. You don’t need to. Your new self will emerge. Different, more beautiful, more daring and with many new and wonderful things to share.

I will not wish away these last precious weeks with my little girl but I am now filled with hope as well as tears about the new phase our family will soon enter.

Kerry

X

Ps thanks to Pinterest for the images and thanks too to @KateNorthrup for your inspirational words

Bye-bye bad habits

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I have been having a little chat with myself over the last few days. I have been talking to myself about the idea that our actions define us. How we act over a period of time, is what we become.

I read ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod over 18 months ago now, but there are many things in that book which have stuck with me. This is one of them:

“…we mistakenly assume that each choice we make, and each individual action we take, is only affecting that particular moment or circumstance. For example, you may think it’s no big deal to miss a workout, procrastinate on a project, or eat fast food because you’ll get a ‘do-over’ tomorrow. You make the mistake of thinking that skipping that workout only affects that incident, and you’ll make a better choice next time.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

We must realize that the real impact and consequence of each of our choices and actions – and even our thoughts – is monumental, because every single thought, choice and action is determining who we are becoming, which will ultimately determine the quality of our lives. As T Harv Eker said in his best-selling book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: ‘How you do anything is how you do everything’.

Every time you chose to do the easy thing, instead of the right thing, you are shaping your identity, become the type of person who does what’s easy, rather than right.

On the other hand, when you chose to do the right thing and follow through with your commitments – especially when you don’t feel like it – you are developing the extraordinary discipline….necessary for creating extraordinary results…..

…….Always remember that who you’re becoming is far more important than what you’re doing, and yet it is what you are doing that is determining who you’re becoming”.

I have put off exploring this and my own choices on the basis that I am practising kindness to self, but sometimes we all need some tough love. I wrote in my last blog about honesty and it is time for me to be honest with myself about the quality of my own actions.

As I look about me I wonder how is it weeks since I cleaned the skirting boards, that I have been going to tidy the cupboard by the front door for over 6 months, that sometimes, we sit amongst the girls mess in the living room, watching TV rather than tidy it away? Why did I only cut the girls toenails yesterday for F’s party when they have needed doing for weeks? Why did I not apply for the chaperone licence I need for the girls’ dance show in a timely manner instead of imposing an additional burden on the lady at the council to rush it through last minute? Why have I allowed myself to put on so much weight when I worked so hard to get rid of it? Why haven’t I completed my VAT return on time? Why did I get the date and time of L’s friends party wrong for the 3rd time this year?

The list goes on and on…..And all of this is so unrecognisable from the girl I once was. It has quite literally been a slippery slope, but if all of this makes me feel miserable, how did I end up here?

Quite simply, I have become lazy. People laugh at me when I use this word – “but you are mum to 3 girls”, “but you just organised this or that”. True, but I used to be mum and still have a clean house. I used to be mum and still look good. I used to be mum and still managed to be a responsible grown up.

Plus, there are plenty of mums out there who do more than I do, but still have the discipline to eat well, exercise, run a clean house, remember appointments and admin etc. Two years ago, I was that mum.

So what has gone wrong? I made the mistake identified by Hal Elrod, believing that as I gave in from time to time and let things go, just for once, that it was just an isolated incident. But over time, our ‘one-offs’ have become the norm, our way of being. Meaning I have no discipline anymore. Things have started to slip and the wheels are coming off. We are chaotic, disorganised, slovenly and I hate it and I am tired of being annoyed with myself.

Then there is this blog. I have had so many ideas over the last couple of weeks, so many blogs in my head, but I haven’t put them to paper. Why? Because of this laziness which has snuck in, silently infecting our home and wellbeing? Maybe, or could it just be I am afraid of being held accountable? If I write about the power of self-belief, if I talk of maintenance, if I declare a blog the start of a new me…well then, I have to do something about it, I have to follow through. Am I so lazy I don’t want to do that? Or am I just scared of not measuring up to the standards I talk about?

I feel so far away from where and who I want to be sometimes that it feels overwhelming. I fear I cannot get the old Kerry back, house proud, presentable, determined, organised, in control, ambitious. It feels like she is a lifetime away. I’m not sure I want old Kerry, I want new Kerry.

But in a state of overwhelm I know it is important to keep moving. Baby steps. My first one was a power walk with friends this morning. My second a late no carb healthy breakfast. My third booking onto the One of Many ‘One Woman Conference’ in October. My fourth, writing this blog, releasing it as an acknowledgement of my imperfect self and my bad decisions, allowing myself to be held accountable and hoping that if I keep writing, I will keep improving myself. My fifth, I am about to sort out that bloody cupboard!! (I almost deleted the ‘fifth’, so I didn’t have to do the do…but I have left it there knowing I now must – the power of the pen!).

Kerry

x

ps thanks to Pinterest for the images

pps thanks to @halelrod @themiraclemorning for keeping me on my toes. It might be taking me a while to get going, but the words stay with me.

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Honesty

honesty 3

Billy Joel’s lyrics really struck me yesterday and I literally cannot stop turning them over and over: “Honesty, is such a lonely word/Everyone is so untrue/Honesty is hardly ever heard”.

Initially, I considered the words as an acute observation – how many of us are truly honest? But since then I have been thinking a lot about ‘honesty’ and what it means to us all. The lack of honesty, the power of honesty, confusing celebrations of worth with dishonesty, the cumulative effect of half-truths and little white lies, hiding behind honesty…

Where to begin?!

Let’s first consider the dangers of ‘dishonesty’.

Much is written about the damaging effect of Facebook and Instagram, with the snapshots of perfect lives, filtering flaws and erasing the ugly and the humdrum. Given our inbuilt desire to strive, to be as good as or better than our neighbours, this can often leave us feeling lacking. As if we are nowhere near the unassailable bars set by these moments of perfection, shared so confidently and willingly. Yet how many of these images are true and honest?

And in real life? That unreadable colleague you ae competing with for the next promotion? Your icy boss who never falters? That glossy haired mum on the school run with her Colgate smile? The friend who never raises her voice?

It is so easy to be critical of ourselves and again to compare. But really, do you think that colleague hasn’t messed up? Isn’t as scared of failure as you? Your boss – could it be that he/she also goes home and cries? That he/she has a secret red wine habit too? That mum might have been on her knees only an hour ago and could be masking a whole boatload of heartache? Your friend – well she will let rip as soon as she closes the front door….

And how many people are completely honest with themselves? There are so many stories about people living lives as lawyers, doctors, merchant bankers, corporate hotshots who crash and burn because they were not living their own lives, but someone else’s, because somewhere along the line they were not completely honest with themselves and made choices not driven by their own desires but by a need to please, to comply, to do what they thought was expected of them.

I put myself in this category.

Even recently, in my struggles to find a role outside of mum, I was growing my own business, but my heart was not quite there. But it wasn’t just the clash between the role of mum and other Kerry: I was being encouraged to think like a business person, like a consultant and not like just Kerry, mum and friend. So I couldn’t say I was unable to make a meeting because I had to do the school run…I had to tell a white lie. I couldn’t say I was unable to do a call that day because it was a Mummy and daughter day – another white lie. I couldn’t ask a colleague to come back to me on their requirements such that I could set up appropriate childcare – yet another white lie.

Yes, I was working flexibly, but on the basis of not quite truths. I was a mum with so many options, but only if I didn’t tell the clients about it. But my word! Doesn’t that perpetuate the whole problem? How is that any different from when I worked for one of the best law firms, on the partnership track and was told to “reel myself in, not be so friendly with the juniors and the support staff…to start playing the game”. Does professional life, by definition mean we have to lie? When will we be able to say – client, you are important to me, I will do a good job, but if you like me and trust me, you also need to know, I pick my kids up after school and am with them for 5 hours. You also need to know that I am balancing your work with my other very important role of homemaker. I will only work Wednesdays if it is absolutely essential as this is my cleaning and jobs day!”.

I find it really difficult to be someone I am not. And the suggestion is, if I am completely myself and completely open and honest, then actually, I am not a business person, not a decent consultant and not a professional. But if we fill our days with little white lies or half-truths, well it’s not good for the soul – not only will your work life balance feel out of control, but you won’t feel good about yourself at the most basic level.

This really struck me today: my battle isn’t just about work/kids, it’s about something bigger. About my ability to be completely myself.

But then let’s consider if a lack of openness is really the crux of the problem and if honesty is all it is cracked up to be…

In terms of social media, a shared moment of joy is not a wilful form of deceit. Who are we to deny people the right to celebrate and share golden moments? To congratulate themselves on success? You don’t need to put a footnote on every treasured photo or success to say who cried that morning, that you swore in-front of the kids, that they are having chicken nuggets for tea, that you haven’t had sex for 6 weeks, that your husband had to recycle his boxer shorts that morning. Just go for it. Celebrate, rejoice, be grateful for your happy memories.

Isn’t a significant part of the issue too that we need to get better at being happy for others? Comfortable in our own skin such that we don’t use others achievements as another way to criticize ourselves, as another way to bemoan our own shortcomings. Don’t we need to love harder, more purely, so that our congratulations and well wishes are made unconditionally, without reservations and without resentment or jealousy?

And do we always need to know everyone’s inner torment? Isn’t it your right to only share your deepest fears and insecurities with those you trust? Don’t we all practise putting on a brave face? Imagine the world if we never did, imagine if we all wailed and moaned outside those classroom doors?! Isn’t one of the reasons offices can become toxic, that one too many colleagues sit there being negative, slating colleagues, standing in the way of new ideas, belittling deals done, wins scored. Every. Single. Day.

We all have that friend, who barely has a glad word to say, who constantly tells you how hard life is, about the bad hand dealt to them in our relatively plentiful and blessed world – and we all know that to protect our own wellbeing from the damage done by the constant stream of negativity, we need some distance, to limit our exposure to toxic thoughts. Even if you are not always full of joy, at the most basic level, you need not fill your thoughts with bleak darkness. It’s basic self-care. That’s why gratitude journals and the like are so often applauded.

And in my own battle between Kerry the mum and Kerry as something else? Well I sometimes wonder if I use honesty as an excuse.

I put the brakes on growing my own business for a while because the balance felt wrong and because I find it hard to be two different people. Because I felt the need to be home more.

It is true, that my strongest pull is towards home. My core desire, my true values, whatever you call them, revolve around being the best role model to the girls I can be. So I paused on my journey as an entrepreneur and call Kerry at home, the honest, most authentic version of me.

And yet….

Last week I had lunch with 3 amazing colleagues, and I felt excited, intrigued by the possibilities. A few weeks ago, I did a simple task of advising on personal guarantees in Manchester as part of a larger refinancing and loved putting on a work dress, whizzing off to another city. I miss spending time with one of my friends who I refer to in this blog as my mentor, I miss the way she challenges me. I love writing this blog and I do it at the expense of housework and often at the expense of bath and bedtime. I loved (and hated at the same time!) organising a circus for the school’s PTA. There are other things, that excite me.

So at the moment, as a mum predominantly not working, am I completely honest?

If I am not honest, then am I wilfully dishonest or just confused? Or am I simply hiding from questions too difficult to answer?

Is reverting to Kerry at home who I wholly, fully completely am or is it just the easy option?

Could it all be just timing? I am hanging on to the notion that September (when all three girls will be at school) will mark a whole new dawn, shedding light on what I often call my mini mid-life crisis. Sharpened pencils and sharpened dreams.

So many questions from a Billy Joel lyric –who knew?!

Kerry

X

Ps – warning: I heard Billy Joel watching an episode of Glee dedicated to him; I fear we could have a Billy Joel themed blog week!!

Ps – thanks to Pinterest for the image.

Fledgling Mummy Blogger Hits the Wall

Wall

So it has happened. A mere two and a half months after launching my blog, I have hit the wall and since my last blog a week ago, have not felt the urge or the inspiration to write. Normally, on any given day, I am mulling over headings, growing ideas, structuring a piece, forming sentences. Last week, nothing. I just couldn’t be bothered and did not feel the pull to put pen to paper.

I have to say, it has come as a bit of a surprise. I have been loving it and also been feeling that I have found my ‘thing’. I have been genuinely lost in the moment as I have been writing, enjoying writing just for the sake of writing and feeling genuine wonder at the joy of being creative. Beyond this, it has also been really encouraging to get such lovely feedback and to be told that what I have written has had an impact on people. It hasn’t mattered to me that my readership is largely made up of friends and colleagues. To know that on any given day, my blog has made someone feel better, has given them hope, has triggered a spirited discussion, has made them cry, has made them laugh….well actually, that is more than enough.

So, what happened last week?! Why was it that every time, I started to form an idea, I felt fed up with myself? Irritated by my own introspection. I mean, let’s be honest – who cares? who am I?!

It’s true that I am still unwell – it’s more manageable than a few weeks ago, but it is still a drain. It is also true that I am a PTA mum with only a week to go before we host a circus, aiming to sell 600 tickets and it is like a full time job. However, both of these things, are part of our everyday chaos. There’s nothing new here.

Those of you who have read my blog before will also know that, whilst I am ashamed to say it, I am one of many for whom approval is important. Last week was a second week for me of heightened anxiety: worrying about what people thought about the blog, worrying that people don’t like me, worrying that people actively dislike me as I tried to rally volunteers for the bouncy castles and sell tickets for this bloody circus. This coincided with the first open criticism of the blog where I was teased for it being twee and predictable in its happy endings/rousing sentiments. Ooof. That was hard to take. It was meant in jest and good spirits but when you are putting yourself out there and when you know that the large majority of your readers are friends…well it makes you think that actually your own worries and insecurities are not without foundation, which of course, makes it all worse and self-perpetuating.

Then there is the larger picture. It’s not just my own blog that has annoyed me this week. All the self-development stuff which I have not been able to get enough of, has rankled. Instead of pausing to read the posts by my usual favourites, I have tutted, sighed and scrolled on. Spirit junkie – bah, white hot truth – blurgh, overwhelm – pass the bucket, money mindset – please….In weeks filled with political uncertainty amidst generation and identity changing decisions, in weeks filled with atrocious acts of terrorism and the unimaginable tragedy of Grenfell Tower, well it has all felt a little bit self-indulgent, irreverent and irrelevant.

Even as I write this now it almost feels disrespectful. I am sat in the garden of my worn but lovely home, with a glass of bubbles – because we had a BBQ and it’s sunny….My beautiful babies are in bed, safe and sound and my lovely husband is in the bath, soothing his aching muscles after a perfect boys weekend in Wales climbing mountains in summer splendour. What cares do we have the right to claim really?

So today, I am here because I said I would be. By launching a blog, I declared my commitment to write. And I do so very much want to write, even when it feels difficult. Consistency and practice is key. Yet for the first time, tonight feels like a chore.

So no twee ending today, just hope that there are happier, more peaceful days ahead.

With all my love and prayers for those who are suffering and in pain tonight.

Kerry

x

 

5 lessons from a Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast

On Sunday my wonderful husband cycled 131.8 miles, including 6,200 feet of climbing, from Whitehaven to Sunderland. He was part of a dads coast to coast cycling challenge raising funds for our primary school. He was one of a team of 7 cyclists and 2 support drivers. These are the lessons I learnt.

  1. Mindset is king

You may have already read that Dan had not really been on a bike until March and with a knee injury and weighing in at almost 20 stone, he had not really exercised regularly either. The challenge ahead and to be ready in time was immense. There were those who doubted he would make it. That was never my worry; come hell or high water Dan would have got himself there. I knew that.

What we both found really interesting, is that prior to Sunday, the longest training ride that Dan had done was 63 miles, after which he was completely spent and it took him 2 days to recover. Yet on the day, 68 miles in, with another 63.5 miles to go, Dan felt fresh as a daisy….that first stage had been a breeze and he had plenty left in the tank. Onwards and upwards. So fascinating: the same distance which had previously stretched him to his limits had been easy, simply because he knew how much further he had to go. That 68 miles, was just the start: His mind knew and so his body knew what he had to do, and adjusted his strength and energy in line with the challenge.

Contrast this to the end of the ride. In Dan’s mind, once he hit Newcastle, he was only a few miles from the finish. Not so – there were still 15 miles to go. Having flown, been faster and stronger than he dared to believe, Dan hit a wall. His body had been lied to – it was ready for the end and so it started to shut it down. Every turn of the wheel, more and more painful, Dan’s motivation slumped.

Of course, the ride was going to get tough at some point, but it was literally like a switch. His mind and his body had been prepared to get 10 minutes beyond Newcastle and that was all it was prepared to do!

It just goes to show that what you think and believe really can manifest results and of course, the reverse. The power of belief; the law of attraction, whatever you want to call it; your mind is the most incredible tool.

2. You can be more than one version of yourself

 

The Dan who completed the coast to coast on Sunday was elite athlete Dan and a hero of success manuals everywhere. He was confident, focussed, determined, motivated, competitive, powerful, disciplined. Not because he completed it, but in the tone of his voice, the things he said, the things we discussed and because of the way he did it. Knowing Dan, he wasn’t a little bit determined, a little bit confident: he was 100% committed and was all of the above in all their glory.

He can be such a conundrum. A tale of two Dans. Everyday Dan is not these things; not often. He is many, many wonderful things but not these. Extreme Dan makes an appearance every now and then and I know he is in there, hidden away.

We have talked about it since. Imagine, if Dan took the same approach to health generally, to work generally, to his aspirations generally.

What is the powerful force that keeps Extreme Dan hidden, such that he only breaks out from time to time? I know Dan would like him to make more of an appearance and one of his aims after Sunday is to do just that.

Some might call reverting to Everyday Dan, comfortable Dan, as hitting Dan’s upper limit. Adopting self-limiting behaviour. We are going to work on that.

3. Team work really does make the dream work

 

Our boys on Sunday and in the months before hand were an incredible team. The 7 cyclists ranged from my Dan, just beginning right up to our semi-professional cyclist, who competes regularly, has a coach and last year completed an Everest Challenge – look it up, it’s breath-taking. But those boys crossed the finish together on Sunday.

They have trained together, mapped a route together, created tactics together and they stuck together. Learning how to get each other through the challenge.

Dan and his particular team buddy were incredible. The boys have joked that from behind it looked like Dan was taking his son for a ride such is the difference in their physiques. Little and large! And yet, they were perfect together. Dan stronger on the flat pushing his buddy further between stops, his buddy, hanging back to stay close literally talking Dan up the hills.

Their support driver for the ride itself, on his own, shuttling between the three groups (they did a staggered start to reflect abilities and so they could finish together), taking care of all of them, making sure they were sustained, motivating and encouraging them.

To witness such a collaborative spirit, to see the genuine concern for all team mates and to know that it was all of them or none of them…well, it was humbling. 

4. The power of brotherhood

 

Any of the dads reading this are probably already cringing, but I am going to say it anyway. The teamwork yesterday went beyond participating in a cycling challenge.

These boys actually have a real affection for one another. I’ll admit, they are not going to openly declare their love for each other the way mums might but they are really connected. Yes, they regress to teenage discourse and are merciless in their jokes and sarcasm, but when it comes down to it, they genuinely care. These dads lift each other and support one another. They praise and applaud each other’s achievements and if it came to it, their shoulders are there to be leant on. The bonds of their friendship are true and strong. Which brings me onto….

5. There is a time and place

 

So as the mums left at home tracked our husbands progress, some of us anxious, I began to feel dreadful that we were not there to cheer them on and that I was not being the supportive wife I like to be. Encouraged by my friends, with only the last stint to go, I threw the girls in the car and sped up to Sunderland, determined to make it to the finish line and greet my amazing husband as he finished his mammoth challenge. It was the stuff of all good Hollywood romantic comedies. He would be tearful, he would sweep me into his arms, I would stroke his hair, then we would embrace as a family; he would be so glad we were there. Dan and I are the couple who together, pre-kids, watched on repeat the High School Musical films and sang the duets in the car – it was the stuff our perfect endings are made of.

Only it wasn’t. No hugs, no tears, no laughing pats on the head for the children. Instead, barely a word, clear irritation with the kids, tangible awkwardness and only a half-hearted wave goodbye as heads down, the girls and I headed back to the car for home, alone.

I wasn’t angry. It was clear to me, why we were not wanted. Yes, I felt hurt and also a bit humiliated (I was right – I know now that the other dads felt pity for Dan and also relief that it was just me)….but I did get it. We were like cuckoos in the nest.

I completely misjudged the moment and after my initial wave of disappointment, a lesson that sometimes the loving thing is to let someone go, to give them their own moment, their own time. It’s not the ending I would choose but we are all different and perhaps I could have anticipated it better.

So next time, when the boys are thinking about cycling from London to Paris, maybe the other mums and I will take a mini break to Mallorca or Ibiza. Far away from the boys and their bonding. After 131 miles in one day, they all stank anyway!

Kerry

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Enough is not enough

Enough 1

For over a year, one of the words which daily fills my consciousness is ‘mediocrity’ and even long before I started this blog, it has been something I felt pulled to write about.

My thoughts go something like this: I don’t want to be mediocre….what if it is ok to be mediocre….Who gets to decide what mediocre is anyway…..I want to be a full time homemaker, a stay at home mum….but I’m wasting my talents and my education….I need to be an all singing all dancing example of what you can achieve if you believe….I don’t want to meet my maker and feel regret I didn’t really live….

And then I see articles cropping up on my FB feed saying “You are enough”; being quiet and introverted or living a ‘small’ life, is “enough”.

But I find little comfort from these words, offered up like some kind of consolation prize – don’t worry dear, its ok, not everyone can live in a blaze of glory, it’s ok to come in second, third, fourth – it’s the taking part that counts.

I know I am not alone. Just yesterday, I spoke with one of my dearest friends about how, as mums, we struggle with guilt or a nagging sense that we should be doing more. A nagging need to justify our decision not to be at work or our decision to be at work part-time. An uncomfortable sense that we need to explain our decisions away. A worry we are not setting the right example of female empowerment or that we are letting ourselves down: surely we have greater gifts and we need to be bestowing them on the world?

One of the first ever self-development books I read, urged me page after page after page to rise up and be in the top 5% of the population…don’t spend your life floundering in the bottom 95% and I highlighted the words: “Being average means to settle for less than you truly want and are capable of, and to struggle for your entire life”. Ouch. If you are what you read it’s no wonder I wandered into my 41st year feeling uncomfortable.

But it’s not all Hal Elrod’s fault. There are books and books filled with this kind of ‘motivational’ goal driven hyperbole, urging you on to greater success. It’s how we operate: it’s inherent to our make-up and society – achieve, achieve, achieve; strive, strive, strive; get the bigger house, get the faster car, stop shopping at Next and start shopping at Whistles, Jigsaw….and so on.

And if we choose not to? There is an undeniable judgment made by others and by ourselves that we are not fulfilling our true potential. A sense of waste.

But I for one, am fed up of feeling like I am in second place. So I am working on how to feel better about the life we are creating. Silencing my inner critic who whispers, ‘but Kerry you went to Cambridge…but Kerry you were going to do amazing things.”

I have written before about “Unleashing My Inner Wild Woman” and I often think of her: instinctive, maternal, creative. That helps and I celebrate the decisions she makes.

But as I move forward?

Two things: first, I am trying to remind myself that I live this life intentionally. It is not an accident; it wasn’t forced on me. I CHOOSE this life. Equally, I need to remind myself every day to live with INTENTION. So if I am at home with the children, if I am at home making my home, then do it with meaning. Don’t drift the day away, stop checking Facebook – it hasn’t changed since you refreshed it 60 seconds ago…live the life you are choosing, do it properly, do it passionately, do it gladly and don’t feel ashamed that you enjoy it.

Secondly, I have been thinking a lot about redefining our goals.

If, to feel successful, we need always to move forwards, then I want to be moving towards something which makes me feel good. So, I have been thinking a lot about my own values and aligning my decisions to those values, making sure that my daily actions and my big decisions, reflect the values and things I cherish most (thank you Rachel Flower).

Additionally, a few months ago I watched an interview with Danielle LaPorte and I have now also started reading her book, ‘The Desire Map’. It’s about “creating goals with soul”, so instead of focusing on tangible, material items and targets, you first think about your “core desired feelings”: How do you want to feel? In your life and lifestyle? In your relationships? In your health? In your education? And so on. You then determine your goals and intentions with these feelings in mind. If you accept that consultancy contract will that help you feel x? If the answer is no, turn it down, even if you lose money, even if you think people will speak badly about you.

If you are not motivated by rising through the ranks, by earning £x a year, if you don’t want to be a ball-breaking career girl, it makes sense that judging your development and progress by traditional tangible goals will make you feel miserable, as though you are failing.

If, however, you move your life forward towards the things that really make your heart sing, then you will feel like an Olympic athlete who has won gold. You will be taking part but you will be taking part with your whole heart, your soul on fire.

You won’t feel apologetic, and you won’t need to congratulate yourself on feeling that you are “enough”. You will be MORE than enough – you will be living the life you choose to with desire and will be celebrating your many, many achievements. Achievements which you set by reference to how you feel most alive.

As ‘The Desire Map’ says – less striving, more living.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t earn £X a year, but it might mean that you are happier doing it. That you will do so without a sense of battle, burn-out and fatigue.

And for me, it means because I am no longer assessing my own achievements and own decisions in the traditional way, I can stop trying to accept my own mediocrity. I am not mediocre and I am not standing still. I am still using my many gifts and talents; I am living the life I am meant to live.

I have so much more I want to say on this…Cannot wait to explore it more.

Kerry

x

ps thanks to Pinterest for the images

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