Living Slow in the Snow.

Living Slow in the Snow.

We experienced our first full week of snow in Norfolk this week.
After waiting for close to five years for a proper downfall, we were not disappointed.


Overnight, the landscape was transformed into a winter wonderland of gorgeously light and puffy snow, perfect for crunching underneath one’s feet and even more perfect for making snowmen.
We had two enthusiastic attempts at snow-building.
The first was a practice run but the second was magnificent.
Our boys rolled an enormous snowball all the way along a 1km stretch of country lane. Each turn, catching more ice and the end result being taller and wider than my 6ft, 17 year old.
This large orb nows sits in the front of our garden, sporting a head and stick arms, with the obligatory beanie and scarf adorning his head and neck.


Sledding was the next obvious move and never far from the children’s minds.
As parents, we were delighted to finally retrieve from the loft, our brand new sleds – naively purchased at the beginning of our first winter in the UK.
How foolish one can be!
It’s just as well we had no idea how long those little red speed boats were to be stored for.
Every winter we waited with baited breath when the weather fell below zero, hoping that we would experience a bitterly cold snap, generating a decent snowfall.


And here is where there are two schools of thought amongst the snow culture.
Namely children and adults.

The children, they see the delight and excitement in the change of the weather, straining and longing to just get out there in the elements and play. Hoping that there will be a snow day and pass from attending school, which doesn’t affect our four youngest, but does our 17 year old in Year 12.
Children don’t seem to mind the biting cold and the fact that they can’t feel their feet. They want to throw, eat and make snow angels in the ice.

I have much to learn from my children, still. Every day they challenge me to look beyond the responsibilities of being an adult and just enjoy playing.
When did I stop playing?
There are some days I would like to cancel my subscription as an adult and retreat back to being a child.
More fun and less worry is generally the norm – and I want to be more like that.

The second school of thought is, of course, the adults.
We are the ones who think about whether the snow is safe, as we scramble about trying to find enough pairs of thick socks for our kid’s feet not to freeze. We tell them to zip their jackets up all the way and won’t let them outside until they have gloves on to protect their little fingers.
We grumble when the kids come in wet and cold – at the puddles on the floor and the dripping clothes to dry.
We worry whether we will be able to drive to the grocery store and do we have enough milk for those warming hot chocolates the kids ask for?
We make a mental risk assessment as to how dangerous it would be to crawl at 40mph to the local corner store, with every chance it is also closed. And then we will have to make another decision whether the roads are clear to drive to the next large village and buy supplies. Note to self on driving in a snow storm – don’t do it, even for milk! Drink water and wait. We drove to the GP and to the store and ended up stranded in a snow blizzard covered field for two hours. Not the wisest move. I definitely went wrong somewhere on my risk assessment of weather conditions.

Play doesn’t often naturally come into our heads. It seems we revert to decision-making, planning and worry.

It’s likely that the snow and ice will be around for some time and my plan is to do more of the playing and less of the worrying (unless in a snow storm and then we will stay away from vehicles with four wheels).
So what if we have beans on toast for dinner, or eggs and ham another night? If the children wear the same clothes for a few days and recycle their socks on the radiator for another adventure outside – does it really matter?
It doesn’t make me a bad mother.
It makes me a fun mother.
One who smiles and engages fully with the children without my mind drifting to other concerns.

When you are an advocate of slow living, it doesn’t happen overnight.
It doesn’t mean that because you are wanting to live a free and uncomplicated life, that it miraculously occurs.

Like this snow week, I have fallen into the trap of the worrying mum.
The one who keeps adding to her to-do list whilst she is indoors and her children play outside. Granted, I did play for a bit but when my fingers turned blue, I retreated into the warmth with hot tea and a hot water bottle, watching the children through from the comfort of my snuggly chair.

Slow living is a conscious and daily effort of saying no to life pulling you in one direction, and putting your hand back on your heart and declaring what is most important to you.
That is slow living and that is when you will see the rewards of your decisions.

For me, those rewards come in such beautiful ways. Huge hugs from my children saying thank you for being their mummy.
Small twinnie hands holding mine under the covers of my duvet in the dead of night and whispered “I love you’s” over and over.
It’s the cries of “mummy watch me!” and “did you see that!” and most fun of all, “mummy chase me!” – not easy in the snow but a great workout.

These are the beautiful snap-shots of living intentionally slower.
I want more of them in abundance and less of the world pulling me away.
I desire slow every single day and I will fight for it with the power of the lioness that is the driving force within me.

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5 Ways to Woo your Valentine – Day Five/Part Five

5 Ways to Woo your Valentine –
Day Five/Part Five


Note to self:

When life is loud and you feel overwhelmed – hug your love.
When your brain is like a squirrel, darting across a busy street – hug your love.
When you keep looking back with regret and anguish – hug your love.
When you feel lonely and lost and need a good cry – hug your love.
And if all else fails –
Have some chocolate and some wine and then drink water – because you know, it’s good for you.

And remember, Valentine’s Day is every day.
Because we are all surrounded by love.

It might come in the form of a prickly attitude from your teen, or a snippy word from your partner.
Maybe even silence and a brick wall.

But love – that’s the stuff which wins.
Every.
Single.
Time.

Don’t give up on it because you have been hurt.
We are so often the hardest on the ones we love the most. They live with us and do life with us. They see the good, bad and the ugly.
Hold them closer tonight and vow to love in the best way you possibly can.
By sticking together and forming a tribe of love, so strong and so powerful that nothing can destroy it.

It’s worth the fight.

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5 Ways to Woo your Valentine – Day Four/Part Four

5 Ways to Woo your Valentine –
Day Four/Part Four

So, it’s nearly Valentine’s Day!
In fact, it’s the day before the big day of love. Number four of ways to Woo your Valentine is becoming One.

I wanted to talk about the best piece of advice my husband, Matthew, and I were given during our marriage preparation.

Before I reveal our secret – a word about our pre-marriage counselling.
It consisted of six weeks (felt like six years at the time) of wise counsel by a man, Matthew and I most deeply respect, the Pastor of our church we attended at the time.

He was one of those people who was softly spoken and slightly intimidating.
I felt he could penetrate to the very heart of my soul.
And read my mind at the same time.

We literally turned up each week to our sessions, in fear and trembling.
If I had a catholic faith as well, my prayer beads would have been tightly gripped in my sweaty, shaking hands and many hail Mary’s would have been fervently recited.

However, that pre-marriage torture was to become the corner-stone and reference point of our entire marriage to this day.

The words our Pastor shared with us and the prayers he spoke over us, were challenging but unforgettable.
We had no idea how many times over the course of our nearly 25 year marriage, we would reflect back on that training and wisdom.

I was merely 19 years old, when we sat before our Pastor, thinking we were just going through the motions to receive his blessing of marriage.
And whilst I knew Matthew was the man chosen for me by God, I was just a baby myself.
However, I can never thank our Pastor enough for being bold and real and for colouring our marriage in ways we have been endlessly thankful for over and over again.

Being One

He repeatedly told us we were to become One.
I’ll admit, I did think it was quite a religious thing to refer to (as in the Bible it says, ‘a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one – Genesis 2:24).
It made me squirmy.
I wanted him to stop talking about becoming One.
I didn’t want to talk about sex with our Pastor!

We were to learn though, it went way beyond the physical side of our relationship.
We were to become partners in life.

He kept saying to us “you are no longer Matthew and Catherine.
You are to become one. A unit before God.
You must think as One and move forward as One.
Your new life will be as One. Don’t forget what you will become together”.

And in our times of conflict – of devastation and turmoil, as well as moments of blissful joy and pure happiness, we always reflect on those words – ‘we are One – we will always be one’.
As One we can face whatever lies before us and be thankful for the goodness of hope and happiness.
And brilliant pre-marriage counselling that made us squirm!

My encouragement to you today is to view your partnership in the same light.
I’m not saying – forget you have a personal identity.
I’m saying that the unique joining of you and your love, is a sacred love of forming a partnership of oneness.

It’s being with your soul mate, loving them and actually liking their company too.
Even when they (and you) are unlikeable.
Being One means together you can work out even the most difficult and stretching of situations.

Oneness when you are two.
Now there’s a thing that many couples may not have thought about.

But if you want a great marriage, no an incredibly wonderful, partnership flourish, try giving One was a go and watch your connection be coloured and grow in ways you could only dream of.

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5 Ways to Woo your Valentine -Day Three/Part Three.

5 Ways to Woo your Valentine –
Day Three/Part Three.

5 ways to woo your valentine

 

The third in our Valentine’s Day Series is Focus.

I have pretty much lost count of the amount of times I tell my kids to Focus.
As in, focus on your schoolwork, focus on me speaking to you, focus on keeping your room tidy.
(Yeah I know the last one might be setting the bar way too high. I might need to simmer it down a notch – or ten).

Sometimes, when we have been in a relationship for a while, we tend to lose focus.

Maybe your rose coloured glasses have slipped a little and endless irritants are creeping in.
Slowly but surely, tainting your everyday life and messing with your love.

I apparently, have a bad habit of leaving the vacuum cleaner strewn across the floor.
The cord, I am told, snakes through the majority of the house and is a killer tripping hazard.
I mean, I just step over it – but it has become an annoyance to my family and I am told, one could have a catastrophic accident on that thin cord?
Personally, I think that’s being way too dramatic.
I mean, at least I am actually doing the housework.

Also whilst I am in the cleaning zone, I am also known to leave the chairs up-ended on the kitchen table.
Again, I am told that I am very lax in putting the chairs back to their original places.
My husband has pointed out that he ends up finishing the task for me, however I never seem to recollect these moments.

I lose focus of the bigger picture, because I’m a busy mum of six.
And between you and me, I dislike finishing tasks.
Strong starter, weak ender. There I have said it.

My husband despairs, during these bi-weekly occurrences.
Why he ever thought I was a non-dropping-vacuum-cleaning-angel, or a strong task finisher, I will never know.

 

I guess his focus was on other things in those early stages – like staring into my green eyes and marvelling at my long hair.
Or other things – but I can’t put those in a family friendly blog.

I often remind Matthew that when we were first married, he didn’t do certain things – namely passing wind in front of me.
I literally thought he was one of those special few chosen beings, who was without gas.
Not a single explosion was emitted.
Ever.
I had struck gold!.

Two months into our marriage, the penny dropped.
Well actually, it was more than a penny, think lots of loud explosions from an unknown source.

Apparently, as he explained to me, in great, agonising detail, he was practically self-combusting in an effort to not kill me with the toxic gasses.
It had become a health issue and the internal pressures were so uncomfortable, it was dangerous for his well-being (my well-being was never to be the same again either, might I say).
And therefore a decision had been made that two months of marriage was time enough for some of life’s more delicate bodily functions to be revealed.

Focus – I tell you – I had to focus on all the reasons why I loved him.
I suddenly had a lifetime of living with a man I thought was windless.
Stop laughing because I know you are.
It was the first shock of my marriage and remains my biggest disappointment to this day.

Gas verses vacuum cleaner abandonment.
I know what I would choose.

So, if this Valentines Day – you are struggling to Focus on the initial goodness and spark of your love – try looking past all the irritants and remember those first giddy days of happiness and bliss.

If all else fails – buy a really good room spray.
And employ a cleaner for your wife.

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5 Ways to Woo your Valentine-Day Two/Part Two.

Part Two
of 5 Ways to Woo your Valentine,
is an easy one.

-Believe-

It might seem silly saying ‘Believe in your Love’.

I mean, it’s oh so easy to believe in someone when you fall in love, star’s in your eyes, can’t stop thinking about them, can’t bear to be apart for more than five minutes.

However, it’s much harder to keep on believing in them and in you as a couple, when that first flush of love wanes.

We all know, there is no such thing as the perfect marriage.
Anybody who has been married for any length of time will attest to that.
Marriage equals hard work.

I well remember when Matthew and I were on our honeymoon, 25 years ago this July.
He had surprised me with a trip to Paris.
Only problem is, I hadn’t travelled to Europe before and I wasn’t too keen on the rude Parisians.
They didn’t seem to fond of me either. It may have had something to do with the fact that I was in tears most of the time.
My poor new husband didn’t quite know what to do with me, except take me home to Australia – early.
Yes, we cut short our honeymoon because I was so homesick.
Welcome to married life and an extremely emotional young bride!

Of course, we both knew that the honeymoon was just the beginning of our adventures and in no way a reflection of the rest of our marriage.
We believed in us as a couple and a unit.
I look back on those teary first days as a married woman and barely recognise her.

Which is quite often the problem – we change.

Many years on, we aren’t the same people who took those enormous vows, in front of family and friends.
We have children, financial strains, job difficulties, health issues.
Age creeps up on us, our bodies change. Wrinkles appear where one there was smooth porcelain skin and rosy cheeks. Those lines become deeper and those cheeks sink a little.

Yet love is still there. Right?

Valentine’s Day wooing might mean Believing for you.
Reminding yourself that –

-1  Love isn’t a ‘feeling.’

because ‘feelings’ come and go like the wind.

-2 Love is a decision.

To believe the very best in your partner – always.

-3  Love is focussing on building each other up.

Rather than tearing down.
Words sting and resentment creeps up on us and before we know it, those bricks begin to mount up – one after another.
It’s a lot harder to dismantle that wall than it is to create it.

-4 Love is keeping short accounts with each other.

Communicate and discuss any issues that are brewing.
It will prevent those bricks from forming.

-5 Love is not going to sleep on your anger.

We can all live our lives like we are here forever, but there is no certainty or guarantee that we will see the sunrise tomorrow.
Truth is, we actually don’t know what’s around the corner.
For me, I don’t want to regret my words or actions.

-6 Love is saying sorry.

If you are in the wrong – apologise.
Even if you are not in the wrong – apologise and move on.
And if you both act like spoilt children, you will struggle to get past the first goal-post in life.
Be the bigger person. Always.
Your marriage will thank you for it.

An interesting study was recently conducted, revealing that at least 50% of people that chose to divorce regretted their decision once the dust had settled.
You can bet they 100% believed it was the right decision at the time, but I can’t help but think, they stopped believing in their love.

Maybe it had become dim and hazy and those bricks were just too damn high for them to knock down.

This Valentine’s Day, make Believe part of your love.

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