A Very Merry Christmas – and a Happy New Year!

This year has been huge for me. The earthquake that shakes the foundations. The volcanic eruption that renews the soil. The forest fire that sweeps the ground clean. There has been unbearable pain, heartbreak, grief. I lost my beautiful lover, and I ended my marriage to a good and kind man. There has been despair.

But then there has been growth. Learning and changing and finding new strength. Seeing my son through his third open heart surgery, finding I enjoy parenting alone and living alone, finding I can manage my emotions without a life partner, finding I can cope.

And after the growth, the adventures. Travel, new experiences, new sports, new friends, new lovers. A new job, new clients, learning new skills. And making my home my own, a place that I love, my sanctuary.

My parents have been amazing. My therapist and GP have been so helpful. My children have humbled me with their maturity and understanding. And they have driven me crazy as only a 7 and 5 year old can and should.

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But the bedrock of this year has been my friends. I knew they were incredible people. But with all of my writing skill I genuinely cannot articulate just how fortunate I am to have these men and women in my life. They have never once made me feel they are tired of my bullshit, or unwilling to listen to yet more of my heartbreak. Not once, not one single time, have I felt alone. Those of you reading this who know who you are, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. They say you find your tribe. Well my god my tribe could take over the world.

So I find myself at the end of this year in a much better place from where I started it.  A fledgling business, a new man in my life, lots of exciting plans for the future and a feeling of contentment.  I hope that the end of this year finds you all in a good place as well.  Please take excellent care of yourselves.

To 2019! May we continue to rise.

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Dark Nights, Shining Lights

When the fifth person told me today that they are feeling really down at the moment and are finding everything more difficult than usual I knew it was time to write this blog.  The nights drawing in – it’s a pisser isn’t it?  Suddenly things are harder, motivation is lacking and moods are dropping.  We had such an amazing summer and now it is well and truly over.  A few warm days have remained but it’s getting dark early and it will soon be Halloween.

I wrote this piece a while ago about what the seasonal festivities mean to me, and so much of this time of year is about chasing away with winter gremlins and brain weasels.  We will be fine again this year, we always are, but we need to remember what works.  Because the sun on our face, the wind in our hair, the music on loud as we lay in the park…..those are for summer joy.  Now we need to remember what makes us feel safe in the darkness, and all cuddle up together, cosy and warm.

light

The first thing we need is: LIGHT!  Be it candles, lamps, stronger light-bulbs or a SAD light, this is the main thing that chases away the winter blues and brightens up our mood.  It is no coincidence that lights play such a huge part in our winter celebrations.  Put the fairy lights up early if you want to – we need that twinkling warmth to see us through.

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WARMTH!  That’s another one.  Cosy hoodies, fluffy slippers, warm blankets – all the extras that make us feel safe are a must in the winter.  Thick socks, duvet days, an extra layer against the chill – don’t let the wind get through, stay warm and your mood will be so much better.  Plus tensing up against the cold is awful for our muscles.  If you can run to it, a hot stones massage would be just the trick for the coming weeks.

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COMPANY!  Don’t be alone this winter.  Face to face or online, we all need people, even the most introverted of us need company sometimes.  Loneliness can be particularly brutal in the run up to Christmas so reach out to each other, and put some fun plans in the diary.  Time spent with friends doesn’t always have to be drinking / socialising / a special activity – although I loved my session at the climbing centre with my pal the other day.  Just doing things in each other’s company can lift your mood so much.  A friend and I today brought out all of our household paperwork and each of our shredders and tackled our filing and shredding together on her living room floor over coffee and a bagel.  A far better way to do a necessary but boring task!

Last Kingdom

ESCAPISM!  As always, I am not a huge fan of this “reality” business.  It’s overrated.  A good book, a good film, a good TV show – close the curtains and take yourself to another place.  I have just finished two seasons of The Last Kingdom which I really enjoyed.  There is something about the cold autumn nights that makes huge overenthusiastic Vikings even more appealing!  Last night I started Twin Peaks, which I have never watched before but which so far, three episodes in, is enthralling television and the characters so well realised.

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I was delighted to find that the mulled wine has already hit the shops.  It is such a seasonal favourite of mine.  I don’t do anything fancy, just put the readymade stuff in a mug and microwave it.  An instant warm treat.  Hot chocolate, warm soup, herbal tea….anything you can hug in a mug whilst indoors out of the rain.  And make sure you eat enough too.  A good hearty breakfast and sensible snacks will keep out the cold, we all need a bit of stodge.  And cake.  Obviously.

There is so much to look forward to about autumn, winter, Christmas and the seasonal fun and games.  We will enjoy ourselves immensely once again.  We just need to remember how to do it, now that the blazing summer sun has left us for another year.  I think the best way to tackle the winter is together.

 

October 2018.

A Time for Adventure

Hello!  How are you doing?  Welcome to autumn and the time of the year when I always feel the most motivated.  September is the real New Year to me, when the academic year starts and it feels like the time to buckle down and get shit done.

I haven’t read back over my last few blog posts, but if you do you will see that I went through a period of emotional spiralling after the momentous events of springtime.  Inevitably I crashed, and needed some medical assistance to get through a few weeks of the summer.  Heartbreak and change and dealing with the aftermath of having a child in hospital are all a process, and you can’t cheat the process.  Like they say in Going on a Bear Hunt, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it….

And I’m not saying I’m through it.  Not after only 5 months.  But I’m a lot further along the path than I was.  The dark forest of despair and denial, the twisting roads of bargaining and the bubbling pools of anger are behind me.  And the view ahead is glorious.  So much freedom.  So much sunshine.  So much choice.

Azores

This year’s turning point for me was my trip to The Azores with a very good friend who has been through some comparable experiences.  We spent 5 nights on the island of Sao Miguel and it was so beautiful.  Relaxing, interesting, good weather, good food, good wine, good company.  I returned feeling thoroughly refreshed and ready to embark on the next chapter.

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When I was in the depths of misery I couldn’t tell what the next chapter would be, even though I could feel it simmering on the horizon.  It turns out that the theme of the next few months will be adventures!  Of all different kinds.

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I am trying new activities and saying yes to things I would have previously refused.  I tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding the other week with three friends.  Fell in twice, but absolutely loved it.  Very tempted to get myself a wetsuit, as I will certainly be going down to the water park to do that again.  I also have a climbing session booked in so I can start using the climbing walls.  And I have a list of other activities to try – new ideas plus things I have always wanted to do but haven’t got around to.

Then there is the minor detail of me needing to get myself a job, and I have made some inroads on that now that my youngest has started school full time.  I am brushing up on my social media jargon via an online course.  Mainly just checking that I know how to explain and describe things I have already done via my various voluntary roles over the last 7 years.  In addition to Facebook and Twitter, I’m now on Instagram and LinkedIn.  All for social media practice of course, and not at all just to add further screen-time distractions to my day…..

The final piece of the jigsaw is adventures with friends, old and new.  I have trips and days out planned for the next five months or so and I am so excited to see new places, catch up with friends, and show old places to new people.  New friends mean new music, new conversations, new points of view and new journeys.  So many of my favourite things.

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I haven’t completely turned my back on the old, although I can feel myself travelling further away from the breastfeeding and maternity campaigns as my children get older and my experiences broaden.  But it was wonderful to see that Dr Victoria Thomas mentioned my hospital breastfeeding campaign at the La Leche League GB conference today.  Even though I haven’t done anything on that campaign for a couple of months I know that so many fantastic paediatricians and paediatric nurses are picking up the baton, and change will come eventually.

Speaking of my children, my two boys are still utterly amazing and I am proud of them every single day.  David has fully recovered from his surgery, and has even more energy than before (which I didn’t think possible).  He rides his bike to school and actually runs around now, instead of just the fast walk he had perfected.  He is starting to be able to spell, learning his letters and numbers… always such a time of wonderment, watching them absorb knowledge like the little sponges they are at that age.

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And Edward can now operate a kettle.  He has made both of my coffees today.  So I feel as though I have reached the pinnacle of parenting.  Quite frankly my work here is done!

So it really is time for new adventures.

 

September 2018

Much of Life Still Gleaming

What a difference a week makes.

This week I have actually felt happy. Sure, I’ve been down in the hole again too. Being unable to stop crying while at soft play for breakfast with the kids was a high point….. But on more than one occasion this week I have actually felt joy. It was amazing.

So how have I done for indulging my passions this week?

Dancing

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I have the football World Cup to thank for part of my joy. Something I never thought I’d say, as I’m not a football follower – Wimbledon is more my thing. But I do like a good tune, and Baddiel & Skinner’s “Three Lions” is fantastic. Such an uplifting and happy song. I played it on my way home from the school run mid week, and actually danced down the road, for the first time in months. It feels like Helen is nearly back!

Freedom

The 4th of July raised emotions as it inevitably reminded me of my American adventures and had a certain “this time last year….” sadness. But the date is all about freedom, and my goodness I’ve been enjoying that this week. IKEA furniture may not be everyone’s first choice of a symbol of freedom, but this week I bought a new bed. And gorgeous new bedding. My bestie and I put it up on Saturday and it is glorious. A symbol of luxurious freedom, and also a place of safety. I love it!

Music

After reading my last blog post, a friend shared her Kitchen Dancing playlist with me, and the first song was “Start Wearing Purple” by Gogol Bordello. Reminded me of my belly dancing days – shook and shimmied to that one a few times with Michelle Pender and co!

Plenty of my favourite songs are still out of bounds, but I have been able to listen to a fair few this week without trouble. And of course now and again a good cry is essential. At those times I have one or two songs which provide instant tears – sometimes a useful and healthy thing.

Driving

This is all excellent timing, as I have a 3 hour drive down to Bedford for the River Festival this weekend, and I will need some good tunes to keep me company. As Shell Hadley tweeted:

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Sunshine

I think by now I’m one of the few British people not thoroughly fed up with the heatwave. I know that I have friends and family members for whom this weather is actually detrimental to their health, and for their sake I hope it rains soon. But I can’t deny it, this weather is just such a bonus for my health and mood. Still grateful for the sunshine!

Sex

It has been entertaining to see all the attention that Gareth Southgate has received, with his waistcoat and emotional maturity. We women are simple creatures really! Having watched all the “Suits” there is until 18 July, I have been really enjoying “White Collar”. The elegant and handsome Matt Bomer in beautiful clothes, flanked by Tim DeKay and Sharif Atkins? Funny lines and fast paced stories? Another easy to watch sexy show that is keeping me happy. And helping me to escape when I’m not feeling all that safe.

Matt Bomer

It’s hard to feel safe on a hot day – the cuddly hoodie, fluffy slippers and hiding under the duvet aren’t really an option! But Netflix keeping me company is, and like I say my new bed is a haven. I am learning new tricks all the time for maintaining my emotional safety, and as ever the support and guidance of my friends is a constant in that. Having them all there in my phone whenever I need them is so comforting.

From this weekend though I will be able to see more of them in person, as I embark on the first of my summer weekend trips around the UK to see people I haven’t seen in some time. Sometimes passionate, sometimes terrified, sometimes even stable, whatever my emotional state look out Britain, Helen is going to be on tour!

 

July 2018.

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Remember I said I love the sunshine?  I am a happy cat in this weather – even though it means the boys don’t go to sleep until around 9pm.  This heatwave is doing me the power of good.  And this week has been better than the last, for sure.

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If you read my last blog post you will know that I am measuring my weeks by how much I get to indulge my passions, as I climb my way out of a change / upheaval / heartbreak hole. Sunshine is being well covered – thank you Mother Nature!  And I am pleased to tell you that Music and Dancing are making a gradual reappearance.  Which makes me feel a lot more like myself.

A lovely and sensible friend of mine helped me to get my appetite back on track at the beginning of the week, and that of course made a big difference to how I was feeling.  The next morning I found myself singing the title of this blog and decided to find Buster Poindexter and his Banshees of Blue on Spotify and let it rip.  Next thing I was dancing around my kitchen.  And kitchen dancing has been absent for me for too long a time!

The boys are still insisting on the cartoon themes playlist as often as possible, but I do now have some more adult music I can stand to listen to as well.  I say adult, but it’s a playlist of 90s classics put together with the help of my old school friends from the days when we would party at the end of our exams.  I don’t think I can really call The Macarena and Love Shack grown up music, but it is a step up from the theme tune to Darkwing Duck at least!

Love Shack

I had to drive over to Alder Hey to pick up some medicines for David on Thursday and that 90 minute round trip was soothing, even though I must admit to crying most of the way.  Having spoken to friends I know I’m not the only one who uses alone time in the car to let out the emotions.  I might love Driving but it’s not always because I’m cruising along with my tunes on.  Sometimes it’s just a private space to process things.

Freedom is easy to come by these days – I am free to make my own choices about most things in my life, and I’m enjoying creating the home that I want and dividing up my downtime.  A huge win for this week was that on Friday night I actually slept well for the first time in a long time.  A decent night’s sleep makes such a massive difference.  I have felt able to tick off lots of jobs this weekend and make progress on projects that I wouldn’t have been able to face a week ago.  So things are coming together.

As for Sex well firstly I have promised a dear friend of mine that if ever I decide to blog about my sex life it will be under a pseudonym!  Fear not, I’m not going to be providing updates!  But I have been thinking about two relatively distinct sides of my personality, that I’m sure we all have, and their viewpoints are most marked when it comes to thinking about future relationships.  First there is Adult Helen who is going to sensibly wait until she has recovered from her last relationships before she thinks about re-entering the fray.  She is going to learn how to be on her own, as she has never really done that before, and she needs to process everything, reflect and build a life that she wants.  She now has a clear idea of what she wants out of a relationship and is willing to be patient and give life time to unfold.  And she is keeping her alcohol intake to a minimum, because right now alcohol just exacerbates emotional vulnerability and makes sensible choices more difficult.

Verucca Salt

Meanwhile however on the other side is Princess Helen.  Princess Helen has no patience.  She bears a striking resemblance to Verucca Salt, in both mental age and attitude.  Princess Helen doesn’t understand why she can’t drink to excess, dance on the tables, grab whoever is passing and let someone else pick up the pieces afterwards.  She is pretty terrified of being alone forever and doesn’t want to listen to reason.  She wants to scweam and scweam until she’s sick a la Violet Elizabeth and thinks that is the way to bend the universe to her requirements.

Princess Helen and I frequently have words.  Adult me is just about retaining the upper hand.

Oh, and as a final note on sex, I came across this project via its Facebook page the other day: The OMGYes website says “Women’s sexual pleasure has hidden in the shadows for too long. It’s time to get it all out in the open.  There’s so much that’s been left unsaid, unasked, and unknown. All because of a taboo that, we believe, will look absurd in a few decades – the same way taboos from the 1950’s about oral sex and homosexuality are absurd to us now. We want to accelerate that transition.  OMGYes is an entirely new way to explore fascinating, useful and fun information that’s been uncovered in new research. Let’s lift the veil and take an honest look at the specific ways women actually find pleasure.”  Sounds good to me.  The women involved in the research were aged 18 to 95.  Just that age range makes me happy.

So in summary I am feeling a lot safer at the beginning of July.  Calmer, physically healthier, more in control.  Still sad and sometimes fearful, but I don’t feel like I’m drowning anymore.  Hopefully that will remain the case – even when the rain finally arrives.

 

July 2018.

 

Passion and Safety

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Since I posted a blog? And this is not me coming back in a blaze of campaigning fervour. This is me slipping back in, PJs on, and climbing under a blanket. Pass me a cuppa please? I want to have a chat.

In February 2017 a wonderful person came into my life. Our glorious story is not mine to tell in public, although many who know me know it well. He is no longer with me, and at the age of 38 I am finding out, later than most, what heartbreak is like.

His entry into my life, although none of us knew or wanted this then, marked the end of a chapter. My marriage to a kind and compassionate man is over and my beautiful boys are learning to live between two houses and without their family living together in one place.

In amongst these changes, my youngest has finally had his third, much anticipated, open heart surgery. That’s a story that I may well tell at some point, but suffice to say Alder Hey Children’s Hospital was fab, David was incredibly brave and he is recovering brilliantly. He is back at school Nursery and is full of more energy and fun than ever.

I could write about heartbreak. I could write about the practicalities of divorce and money and the things I’ve learned. I could write about my incredible children and what they are teaching me. And I am sure I will post about all of those things given time.

But for now I would like to use this space to focus on some simple things, things that are important to me, and things I will use to guide me as I create a new, and eventually exciting, life for myself. I was asked last year what my passions are, and I found it a really interesting question. I gave it some thought and I realised that there are 6 things that make my heart sing, that give life that extra sparkle and that I need at least two of each day if I am to feel good, and to feel like myself.

Passions

Passions
* Dancing
* Driving
* Freedom
* Music
* Sex

* Sunshine

There is a flip side, or perhaps a complimentary side, to these things. Some days are not passionate days. Some days are about self care and shutting out the world and wrapping yourself up in love. These days are about:

Safety
* Fluffy blankets
* Hot drinks
* Escapism
* Candlelit baths
* Comfy clothes

* Rest

Whilst I navigate the coming weeks and months and find out what life now has in store, I’d like to share with you my passions, and how I am keeping myself safe. This will be an unashamed therapeutic exercise, and whoever wants to join me is welcome. Or you are welcome to wait until I’m back thumping the tables about breastfeeding support, maternity experience and the like. I am still working on Growing Families and the Hearing Your Feedback project, I am still pushing for better breastfeeding support on paediatrics, and I will build these things back up as I clear the mists of grief and change.

For now though let me share with you what is keeping me safe, and what is adding some much needed sparkle.

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I cannot dance right now. My heart is not ready to dance. And music is very difficult, as my recent relationship was wrapped in music and there is very little that doesn’t currently bring out the tears. In desperation for something to listen to on sunny days, I put together a playlist of children’s cartoon theme tunes – who doesn’t love a bit of Fraggle Rock?? So in the sunshine, behind the wheel of my car, I have been rocking out to Chip n Dale and the Gummi Bears. Because you have to have something to sing in the car on a beautiful morning – it makes life worth living!

Thank goodness for the glorious weather we are having. The sun has barely stopped shining since the day in April when both my relationships came to an end. And that has been something for which I am so grateful.

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I am slowly making the house my own and building an environment that gives me joy and makes me feel secure. I never liked this house before, but gradually it is becoming a haven and a place of both passion and safety. On the days when things are tough, my fluffy slippers, cozy blanket, giant hoodie and Netflix are keeping me safe and shutting out the world. And on the better days the colours I am bringing to my house are inspiring me to a brighter and a better life. I have the freedom to create that now.

Oh and speaking of Netflix, I have watched the entirety of Suits for some fantastic escapism. I now have a close relationship with the delicious Harvey Spectre, which I guess covers sex for now!

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So we will see what this week brings and I look forward to sharing that with you. One final note is that I always knew I had good friends, but my word: when my friends come through they really come through. I have not felt alone at any time over the last two months, I have never felt a burden despite needing such an enormous amount of support. The women who surround me are some of the kindest, wisest, smartest and most generous women in the world. I want to thank them all, and I hope that soon they can share in more of my passions. But for now they are all keeping me very safe.

June 2018

 

Who loves you baby?

Somebody on my Facebook group recently asked the question “How has your love for your partner changed over the years?”  As you can imagine, this started a really interesting and thought-provoking discussion.  I thought about the question a lot and I realised that a very relevant question for me when thinking about this is “How has my love for myself changed over the years?”

Immediately the idea of self-love and arrogance and selfishness came up.  Because sometimes when we think about loving ourselves we go straight to the feeling of love – that feeling that this person is the most important person in the world, the best person, the most attractive person, the sexiest person – and it can feel very strange to imagine thinking of ourselves that way.

But what about the act of love?  Because when we love someone, and we are fortunate enough to be in a position to show them that we do, it’s not the just the feelings that are relevant.  It’s what we do for that person and how we show them that we care.  And this is for me what self-love is all about.  I might never see myself as the sexiest, most brilliant person in the world (only on some days 😉 ) but I don’t think that I need to.  What is important is how I show myself that I love myself, and that I am deserving of love.

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When we think about whether or not we deserve love (hint: we ALL do) complicated emotions can surface about how we see ourselves in relation to other people.  We might imagine that other women are a lot more attractive.  We might imagine that some people we fancy are “out of our league”.  We might think that we have personality traits that make us hard to love.  We are our own worst critics, and this can really skew our perceptions of how other people may feel about us.  But the thing about loving ourselves is, none of that matters.  One thing is for sure: I am in my own league!  I am not out of my own reach.  I am good enough for me!  And that’s a damn good thing too, because I am the only person, the only person, that I spend literally every second of my life with.

Think about that for a moment: you have and you will spend every. single. second of your life with yourself.  Imagine spending all of that time with someone you don’t love and who doesn’t love you.  Wouldn’t that be a tragic waste of a life, and a miserable way to exist?  We often encourage friends to leave bad relationships, to walk away from abuse, to understand that they deserve better from the people around them.  Isn’t that ever more vital when it comes to our relationship with ourselves?

So how do we act like we love ourselves?  How do we treat ourselves with love?  Well, let’s start by thinking about the things we would want from a partner.  Not the realistic, safe expectations that we learn to put up with as we get older, but the fantasy stuff.  The things we imagined as teenagers.  The things we’ve seen in the movies.  Because when it is just us, nothing needs to hold us back.  We can give ourselves exactly what we want.

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Make yourself a hot drink at the end of a long day.  Sit yourself down for five minutes and tell yourself that the chores can wait.  In fact, sod the housework for tonight, you deserve a night off.  Run yourself a bath.  With bubbles.  And candles.  And nice music.  And a glass of wine.  Soak in the tub.

Rub lotion into your body.  Massage your aching muscles (hard to reach your own neck I know.  How about you make a note to book yourself in for a back massage?  Wouldn’t that be a lovely gift to yourself?).  Have an early night.  Are you feeling good?  Make yourself cum.  Not quickly in a half-ashamed dark fumble.  But slowly and properly – you know how to, you know what you like, it’s your body.

Then put on your soft, fluffy PJs, tell yourself that you love yourself and to sleep well, snuggle up and go to sleep.

Or – and here’s the important bit – do whatever YOU want to do.  Because it’s you loving yourself.  Not me doing it, not someone else doing it, but you.  And you know what you want, need and enjoy.

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Now, there are a few barriers to this aren’t there?  First of all, if you have children then all of that can feel like an impossibility. Just like our relationships suffer when we have kids, so does our relationship with ourselves.  And it is just as important, in fact I would argue more important, to take time to rebuild that relationship when you have children and life is frazzled and chaotic.  Some people will tell you it’s important to take care of your own needs because then you’ll be a calmer, better mother.  Which is true.  But it is also true to say that you should take care of your own needs because they are YOUR needs.  They are valid, important, worth looking after and guess what?  It feels really good when you do!

So in the same way that you might get a babysitter for date night, or hide from the children for 15 minutes for a quickie with hubby, or ask your partner to look after the kids so you can take your Mum out to lunch for Mother’s Day: do those things for yourself.  You can ask someone to have the kids so that you can look after you.  You can hide in the bathroom for 15 minutes so that you can paint your toenails.  You can blow off the housework or that PTA meeting so that you can do something that YOU want to do.  Just for you.  Because you need some love and you are damn well going to show yourself some.

Sadly another barrier to this can be the people around us.  If there are people in your life who would laugh at you for this, who would question whether you deserve it, who would resent you for taking time for yourself then please think about that.  Really think about it.  Do those people love you?  Do they respect you?  Do they have any interest in your happiness?  Should they, in fact, be a part of your life?  Because think about the people that you love: you want them to be happy don’t you?  You want their needs to be fulfilled do you not?  Of course you do.  And that’s how people who actually love you will feel about you too.

It can be difficult, because some people in your life will not have learned how to love themselves.  And they will therefore be as jealous of your relationship with yourself as people can be about a good relationship you have with another person.  And we know of course that it is really hard for two people’s needs to be met all the time, by themselves or by each other, when kids are in the mix.  So in that situation there does of course need to be give and take.  You can’t have a bath and an early night every night whilst he puts the kids to bed (sorry!).  But you can work to ensure that he has his time out and his treats and his opportunities to do what he wants to do and…… YOU HAVE YOURS.

This is important for everybody.  You might be single.  You might be happily married.  You might be in a happy, loving relationships or an unhappy relationship or in a complicated relationship.  It doesn’t matter.  You are still, always and all the time, in a relationship with yourself.  It is the single most important relationship you will ever have.  It is the one that will last the longest.  It is the one that will have the biggest impact on your life.  And it is the one that, if you get it right, is most likely to give you contentment and peace.

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It’s not just about treats.  If you’re ill, take yourself to the doctor.  If you need counselling or medication or physiotherapy or a special diet respect yourself enough to do it and continue with it.  Because that is an act of love.  Don’t tidy your house because of the judgement of other people, bugger them, but keep your house in whatever state makes you happy because you love yourself and you deserve to live in a pleasant environment.  Dress for yourself.  Surround yourself with people who make you happy.  Choose to do the things you like to do.  You won’t stop thinking about others, you won’t stop nurturing your children or caring for your partner or making a contribution to society or all the other things you want to do.  You won’t become selfish.  Do you know what you might become though?

Happy.