Why Scruffy Hospitality Is A Sign Of A Good Friendship.

I’ve spoken a bit about scruffy hospitality recently. Of opening your home and most definitely your heart to others outside of your inner family unit.

I am a naturally tidy person. I like my home to be ordered and aesthetically pleasing on the eye.. But this poses a huge drawback because 99% of the time, with a family of 8, our home doesn’t look like a magazine cover or one of those perfect captures on an Instagram square.

My home will have dishes in the sink and clean dishes in the dishwasher. We NEVER see the bottom of our laundry basket. There often is a back-log meandering it’s sneaky way outside our laundry door.
We cook and eat very well, courtesy of hubby being a chef. But that doesn’t mean I don’t often sigh at how long the meal actually takes to cook and how quickly it’s devoured. To be swiftly followed by even more cleaning up.

My knickers hang over the radiator. A sign nobody should have to see – and the washing turnover is a solid 6-10 working days before we start all over again .Come to mention it, we never actually finish it, so I’m defeated on that score.

We have cobwebs lazily hanging about creating ethereal, dusty whispery threads. And speaking of dust – well I never bother try and beat it. Living in an old onion barn, I swear creates more dust from the nature of the building than most. Oh that and the fact we have a zillion animals and kids.
Dusting? Who has time? You know it settles right back onto the surface of your furniture in record time right?
Those dust particles are tricky buggars to manage so I, quite simply don’t manage them anymore.

My bin will always be full to overflowing and Lordy there are papers everywhere! School worksheets, bills, blog notes, advertising junk, sweet drawings my kids give me daily to the point I am drowning in pictures of unicorns, horses and tigers with coats and top hats (don’t ask). I have given up on the paper war and left it in peace, figuring one day it will become obsolete and I can bin, burn or cry that my children no longer give me those strange scribbles of creative imagination anymore.

So what is the beauty of walking into someone else’s home and seeing life unfolding everyday? It’s so very refreshing. Because behind doors, we all struggle with the same things, the cleaning and tidying and doing life. Rather its much more wise to focus less on the look of your home and more on the precious souls you share it with. Which includes your friends too. Just as you are and just as your home is.

I truly believe when you invite someone into your home, you are inviting them into your heart. That most special of places where you live and do life. The good and the not so great.
To embrace people in that space is so precious. Even more precious is not having a perfect ‘company ready’ home that many of us can’t emulate.
Sometimes the bar is just set too high to have a magazine worthy home, a beautiful meal and flawless conversation.
Instead, inviting people into your home to share a simple meal with authentic connection is something I think we would all love to be a part of.
I love the term ‘scruffy hospitality’ and hope that I can focus less on the look of my home and more on the heart of the people who are right in front of me.

A few years ago a friend of mine popped by to see how I was faring through my horrendous Morning Sickness condition, Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I couldn’t lift my head owing to violent vomiting from the tiniest and smallest of movements.
My friend gave me a hug, a dry cracker and a glass of ginger ale. Tucked me in bed and then set about to clean my house. For two hours she worked in silence. Just so happy to be a blessing and boy did I feel enormously blessed.
My friend saw my home at its worst and most definitely me at my worst and through her act of service, she loved me. Right where I was at.

And this taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t be anything that isn’t your true self.
We all have times of being poorly or incapacitated. When a friend can see a way to help, that is them showing you love and support, don’t let pride get in the way of accepting that help. We all need it at some point in our lives.

Even though scruffy hospitality, as detailed in this blog by Mother Nature Network, may be very challenging for some, how wonderful would it be to open our homes, free from the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves?

Maybe, little by little, you (and definitely me) could lessen the grip on the bar of pristine, set so high and lower that expectation of perfect to begin to incorporate some scruffy hospitality into the home.

So if you, like me, panic over the fact that opening your home to company is a judgemental act.
Think again. If those friends judge you by your not-perfect-home, do you really want to be friends with that sort of heart attitude?
If they come in and kick off their shoes, plonk themselves on the couch and relax, that for me is the true meaning of a real friendship.
And those people are your keepers.

Choose friends wisely because a true friendship encompasses love, affection, trust and most of all, acceptance. Just as you are.

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It’s Ok To Put Your Family Before Anything Else.

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday. To put someone else’s happiness and wellbeing ahead of your own. To teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing, even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…….. And to forgive yourself, over and over again. For doing everything wrong but so much right. All for the love of your child.”

-D.Ball-

I was chatting to my best friend recently and she shared some thoughts about family and life but specifically, the choice of putting your family before anything else or anybody else.

And as we talked, we both asked the question….
Is it selfish to consider our family before any other commitments ?
Or should we be aiming (and often expected) to add in many other responsibilities to our daily lives? A kaleidoscope of lots of everything in the form of work, deep friendships, church involvement, community connection, school duties and, and, and….

It made me reflect on our own personal quest for slow living as we have had to learn a lot about priorities and boundaries.
Ours rather than other people’s. 
And sometimes our responses may seem that we are saying a whole lot of “no” to something because we want a whole lot of “yes” left over for family relationships and connection.

I’ve been doing some research on what happens to people historically when they lose their way in life. Some turn to drugs, others alcohol and that slippery slope can have a ricochet effect for the rest of their lives.

A recent documentary I watched on homeless people was such an eye opener.
Of all the people who were interviewed, not one single person didn’t mention a breakdown in their family unit.
Parents who had split up, domestic violence, addiction problems, loved ones who had passed.

That’s not to say that every family who face adversity will end up fractured, not at all. But for these people, their family unit and history pointed towards them not feeling loved, secure or cared for. 

In essence, they weren’t put first in any situation. Ever. They felt invisible and ultimately unloved. And the one thing they wanted more than anything else in the world was to be part of the family unit again.

So why do we still place such a small importance on raising children? Why isn’t moulding humans enough?
Why as mothers, do we feel the pressure to do more, achieve more, own more.
Just more. Than being a mum….

I’ve been in the place where I have literally held all of those responsibilities, gripped tightly between clenched fists of heaviness and obligations.

All of it. The working, socialising, church ministry, school involvement.
The gatekeeper of all of everything. 

Oh and being a mum. 

The one who holds the very existence of her children in the palm of her hands. Those sweet souls and delicate spirits whose heartbeats were created right beside ours. Nestled under our ribs and nourished within our body.
For whom we are their world and their refuge of safety, comfort and the true definition of love.

But being a mama in today’s fast-paced world – well – we are told it’s not enough. 

Putting your family before anyone else shows that you can’t cope with having it all. That multi-tasking isn’t your thing. And that’s something to be ashamed of. Right?
‘Just’ being a mother at home? Pfft. That’s lame.

How often have we heard the phrase, “What do you do all day at home with the kids?”
If you have a spare few hours, I am sure any mother, in a heartbeat, will fill you in on precisely what they do all day looking after children and precisely why there isn’t enough hours in the day. Ever.

“We guide and support and love and cherish. Because our children are ours, bone from our bone. Flesh of our flesh”.

Personally, I think to be selfish on behalf of our family is something to be celebrated. Except it’s not selfishness, it’s nourishing and cherishing another’s life before yours.

For who else will fight for your children besides you – their parent?
Who else will put their needs first? We are their cheering squad and the advocates for their tender spirits and unique pathways.

We help to pave the way forward.
“Step here but not on that one – that’s a bit wobbly. You may sink over here but this one looks stable and promising.”

We guide and support and love and cherish. Because our children are ours, bone from our bone. Flesh of our flesh.

And we are the ones chosen specifically to equip these precious humans to make an enormous impact on the world and others.

And whilst I am in no way saying that having a life outside of the family home is wrong. Or having friends or working or community involvement. These are ALL good things.
But when they impact the core of family life and rhythms, they can become too much. Less is always, always better when it comes to raising children.

Selfish? Not at all.
Our children. Our family are worthy of every good and perfect sacrifice of love we can offer in the form of our time. Saying “no” to other outside influences that may impact the small amount of time we actually have with our children, is wise not mercenary.

My choice. My first choice. Will be family first every single time.
You can’t possibly be everything to everybody, so try to be present for those who matter most to you and those who will be most impacted by your efforts.

Then watch the magic of your child’s spirit unfold. Just as it was meant to be.

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Listening To Your Mama Gut.

“Always, always trust your first gut instincts.
If you genuinely feel in your heart and soul that something is wrong, it usually is” (Ilovemylsi.com)

Many of you will have watched the explosive and controversial documentary ‘Leaving Netherland’, about the late singer Michael Jackson’s close relationship with then two very young boys, who spent most of their childhood at his exclusive private residence, Netherland.

It is both confronting and shocking but for me, the over-riding fact weaved throughout the four hours of the show, is that two mothers didn’t listen to their mama gut.
They had concerns but they both quickly snuffed them out.
Because, you know, he was famous. An absolute superstar, which in the end superseded any gut instincts they might have had.

Time after time we read of the incredible strong feelings of discernment that mothers possess when it comes to their children.

Pregnant mothers who know the exact time their unborn child has passed whilst in the womb.
Mothers who feel deep in their soul that their children are very unwell when the majority of the medical profession say otherwise, to later find out if they hadn’t of pushed and pushed for the correct diagnosis their child would have passed away.
Mothers who ‘feel’ pregnant the moment of conception. To find out months later they were spot on.
And guess what? A mother’s instinct is still, to this day, scoffed at by some. Many in fact.

Quite a few years ago when our second born (our son) was five, he became very poorly with a cold which turned nasty.

We saw the doctor two times in a week and twice I spoke to health professionals on the phone. And I was told time and time again that it was just a viral infection and would pass.
Didn’t I know that viruses can stay in the body for weeks, causing general low malaise, poor concentration, lack of appetite etc? It’s normal I was informed repeatedly.

But my son just wasn’t himself.

He was even quieter than his usual sweet, placid self, very, very pale and after a week and a half, became floppy and unresponsive.
I knew in my gut that this was more than a virus and phoned my husband in a panic for him to rush home from work so we could take our son to the emergency GP.

I will never forget the GP taking one look at George and the colour literally draining from his face. “Mrs Irwin we need to get him to hospital as quickly as we can. Your son has pneumonia which can turn to sepsis, if it hasn’t already”.

I remember going cold all over and relaying over and over in my mind the past few days. My son’s limp form becoming more and more unresponsive.
I knew he wasn’t right but I didn’t want to appear to be a paranoid/helicopter mum who panicked at the first sign of sickness.

Why didn’t I listen to my heart?

Well, I was in my early 20’s and still a young mum. I didn’t have the confidence to act upon my discernment. Nowadays, I listen every single time. And if I am wrong, so be it. I would rather be wrong than regret not protecting my children.

George, thankfully, didn’t develop sepsis.
However, the doctor told us there was a high probability, given how poorly he was, that he could have been fighting (and lost) this life-threatening disease if we had left it much longer.
He ended up spending a whole week in hospital on IV antibiotics, fluids and oxygen. It took him many months to regain his full strength.

Mama, don’t ignore your feelings because you’re probably onto something

Make that phone call, send an email, chase up your doctor, have that awkward conversation. Don’t leave your child with that care-giver if you have a strange reaction to them deep down.

Be persistent and insistent if you have that icky feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is off – because it possibly is.

As Lord Byron says, “There is no instinct like that of the heart”.
Listen to that deep, quietly relentless sense and act on it. Be the voice that our children can’t vocalise. They quite literally depend upon it.

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Being Neither This Nor That.

Discovering the ‘Art of Tilting’.

The question was asked recently as to what women who are happy are doing differently?
And the response, in essence, was this:

“Happy women… realise that balance is impossible (and therefore stressful) to achieve, but also rather boring.

Instead, they “tilt” towards activities and commitments they like and find meaningful”.

I love this idea of Tilting and was surprised to discover that in our quest for slow-living over the past few years, that we have been Tilting for quite some time, without realising it.

Tilting is a more gentle way of finding your own family’s unique rhythms. It doesn’t mean you put the brakes on, lock your doors and hide inside, saying no to everything that comes across your path. Because to be honest, constantly braking is tiring and if your goal is to have a perfect balance in life – it never quite seems attainable.

Life has a way of throwing us off balance, often and frequently which can completely disturb our equilibrium and make us more stressed in the quest of finding that unattainable harmony.

I don’t know about you, but I have those rare days when I am actually managing to keep all of my juggling balls perfectly synced and coasting through the air, smashing my perfectly balanced life!

Only to have them abruptly come crashing down at my feet the very next day. That mountain-top euphoria doesn’t last long does it?

It’s a humbling experience.

Whereas, Tilting on the other hand is a positive flow forward, a moving ‘with life’.
One day at a time.

‘Tilting’ is an idea discovered by Australian blogger and health advocate, Sarah Wilson and is essentially about being aware of the changing pressures of your life and being flexible in a gentle and fluid way.

What Does Tilting Look Like?

So, it goes like this:

If your children are unwell, you will tilt towards spending extra time caring for them only, giving them your undivided time and attention. Opting out of other commitments, such a socialising or keeping a perfect ordered home. Note, this is a difficult one for working mother’s (as I have been through myself!) and not always achievable to just take time off for poorly children. Often plans A, B & C will take effect here, ie, help from family and friends or negotiating time off with your employer.

When your home needs extra attention, ie, your laundry is meeting you at the front door, then tilt towards focussing on that for a day or so and letting other things slide a little (such as dare I say it, making beds or tidying toys).

Do you need time out to recharge? Tilt towards making that happen for you in the form of carving out that sacred space for you.

If your partner has extra workload in the short-time, tilt towards giving him the space and time to do that by picking up on some of the extra chores that are his responsibility in the home.

How Does It Really Work?

Tilting is a day-to-day mindful meander, rather than a step-by-step approach.

It’s different for the individual and what’s right for some is totally different for others, which is why comparisons are never a good path to take, especially where parenting and motherhood are concerned.
Adopting the mindset of tilting and keeping this in the back of your daily thoughts and actions, will help you to hone your tilting skills.

And I love the fact that the very art of Tilting is acceptance towards the fact that I can not and will not ever achieve perfect balance. I don’t think anybody can maintain that faultless utopian state for the rest of their lives. It’s incredibly stressful and oddly unfulfilling.

Instead you need to understand that your time is limited and valuable.  And you can choose where to place your energies, depending upon where they need to be.

What Are Your Priorities In Life?

Are you desiring to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother?
Is it working from home whilst caring for children?
Do you want to maintain a full and active social life and strong community outreach?
Are you planning on launching your own business?
Do you want to take time to build back into yourself after years spent looking after children? And what does that look like for you?
Is this a period in your life where you are at a crossroads and some decisions have to be made going forward?
Do you love nurturing and creating a warm and calm home that is inviting and welcoming to many?
Are you wanting to become healthier and incorporate more exercise into your daily routine?

Every single person’s list will be different, which is why Tilting is such an individual path.

How Can This Be Achieved?

Think about how you have given each of those priorities time, effort and attention over the past six months.
Have you felt discouraged or frustrated by the fact that you have been time-poor with these priorities? If so, then maybe a bit of gentle Tilting can make them more achievable.
Also helpful is trying to pinpoint times where you consistently Tilt the wrong way and make steps to rectify this.

And remember that you are the only one who can decide what this balance looks and feels like for you, which will be entirely different to any other person or family you know.

Keep your own personal priorities in mind, disregarding what others are doing and you will find a much better overall balance, then if you constantly battle to keep all things even.

As Rumi famously quotes, “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go”.
Tilting is doing this each day, in small but incredibly meaningful and powerful ways, letting go of all that hinders and embracing that which brings deep joy and freedom.

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It’s Not What You Do, It’s The Way You Do It.

Being a highly sensitive person in this loud world.

Sensitive people.
Have you ever noticed that someone can say something to you which in itself isn’t disrespectful or in any way unkind but their tone lends itself to being an entirely different manner?

Even the words “You’re welcome” can be scratchy if said through clenched teeth and a strained smile.

My daughter and I have a twice weekly appointment in the city.
Before we can park our vehicle we are vetted by the ‘Very Official Car Park Man’ who depending on his mood, may or may not let us through or question us repeatedly as to our intentions within his designated vicinity.

I have considered holding up a card with the words, “It’s me again. We have repeated the same conversation at least 235 times. If anything changes I will contact you.”

But I don’t use the card idea, mainly because my daughter won’t let me.
I have, however, been known to pretend I didn’t see him and hope I don’t snap his toes as I drive past. He has been know to write my number plate down and fling his arms in the air at my cavalier actions.
It’s a difficult relationship.
I’m working on it. A little.

I’m that annoying person who likes to be acknowledged if I let you in before me when I’m driving.
I don’t mean a quick show of your hand either. I’m talking a solid 10 ten seconds of gratitude, possibly a flash of your high beam and for good measure, a thumbs up to round off the thanks.
I mean your time is precious but so is mine and having a grateful spirit can go a long way.

And I’m so sorry but I have a difficult relationship with bike riders when I’m driving.
I know I should be more patient and I am trying but when I see lots of traffic and lots of bikes, my default emotion is exasperation and I find myself saying “Bikes are not cars.”

It’s not all my fault, although I do take a lot of responsibility for my attitude, but I’m an Aussie, and bikes don’t generally invade, sorry I mean share, the roads in Oz.
There are bike lanes everywhere. Everyone knows where their designated spaces are and we all generally live a harmonious life.
We co-exist quite well.

In England it’s a fractious, awkward connection. And don’t get me started on people riding besides one another so they can cycle and chat.

I just can’t even.

So whilst I am very much at fault with my personal irritations and lack of patience towards drivers, bikers and very important car parking people. I am trying to not be as sensitive towards the actions of others.
Because I don’t like it when people judge me or lose their temper over something I have no idea is offensive.

As an introvert and highly sensitive person, your stress will become my stress and I will either take it personally or try and make you feel better and if that doesn’t work, I will feel awful about it all day.

I will react to the tone of your voice deeply.
It’s what introverts are brilliant at.

I will also scan your face to ascertain your mood and if you have a creased brow and a grumpy face, I will think you are cross at me. (Hence, in my defence, if your hand isn’t in the air for 10 seconds as you drive past me when I let you in, I will think you are harbouring dark thoughts. At me. And we don’t even know each other).

It’s complicated being so sensitive but can also be super positive if channelled correctly. Some simple mindset changes can make a world of difference to how you feel and react, such as:

Acknowledging that your emotions can be a trigger response towards a situation or person.

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by sensory stimuli like noisy crowds or bright lights. Which is the cause of you feeling unsure or even cross.
And when you realise what generates these reactions, especially those that seem over the top given the context (such as for me – needing others to acknowledge me letting them in is really about my dislike of being ignored), you are better equipped to deal with them when you find yourself in these environments.

Realising that you have a deep abiding ability to be empathetic and compassionate.

Highly sensitive people have a rich and complex inner life, complete with deep thoughts and strong feelings that go with it, which are brilliant in situations where a tender-hearted, kind listening ear is required.

You will be the person that people confide in often to bear their burdens because you have an in-built wisdom and insight that others may not be tuned into. Your ability to provide comfort, loyalty and understanding are wonderfully charitable and warm qualities, which many aspire to possess. For the highly sensitive person, this is your natural disposition which is a very admirable and special aspect of your natural personality.

Embrace your unique character.

Sensitive people are often crazy creative which lends itself to so many positive outlets such as a deep appreciation of the arts, finding peace in nature and enjoying home design and decor. These seemingly quiet and gentle activities feed sensitive souls rather than deplete.
Find what gives, rather than takes from you and embrace these aspects into your daily life.

And finally, make sure you have time alone to recharge

I’m not talking a quick toilet break to escape from the kids (I can tell you that doesn’t work from personal experience).
My kids write me notes and post under the door. Things like “How long will you be in there mummy? Have you hid the tin of biscuits? Can I cut my hair? Can I cut my sister’s hair?”
Those sorts of life and death issues.

Schedule calm into your week to ensure your soul catches up with your brain and your tank is at the very least half full and not totally depleted.

And if you come across a slightly-built, veteran car park attendant, tell him I said sorry for bruising his toes accidentally.
I’m trying.

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A Little Pony Who Changed The Course Of Time.

“I am his eyes. He is my wings.
I am his voice. He is my spirit.
I am his human. He is my Horse.”

There once was a sad little pony who lived on a desolate and lonely hill. He was cold, always hungry and often tired,

He was with lots of other poorly horses who were in the same situation as him. They stayed together to keep each other warm and for protection.

One day, big groups of people came and one by one the horses were selected for new homes and taken away. The sad little pony and his brother, went in a stable that was safe and comforting.

For the next few years the sad little pony became less and less sad.
He grew lots and noticed his tummy had become covered in toasty warm muscle, which kept him comfortable in the winter.
He was fed twice a day, treated so kindly and given much love.

The little pony learnt how to ride properly, how to stand still, how to trot and canter and listen to the people who lavished him with such love and care.

One day the little pony met a young girl.
She was very gentle and loved the little pony instantly, giving him hugs, kisses and lots of love. The young girl loved to whisper words of encouragement into the little pony’s small ears.

The young girl spent many, many weeks coming by the little pony’s stable, feeding him, taking him out for walks and riding him in the fields.

And the little pony began to be sad no more.

A few months after the little pony and the young girl had been spending more and more time together, they were told that the little pony come and live with the young girl.
“Do you want to come home with me?”, whispered the young girl excitedly.
“You can come and live with me forever and we will go on so many adventures together.’


So the little pony who was no longer sad and the young girl, who had also been sad for a very, very long time, found her happiness in a sweet but very lost pony.

The young girl knew that she wouldn’t just be working on the horse, she would also be working on herself, learning more and more about the inner whispers of her heart, through the beautiful creature that she was so fortunate to call hers.


And she realised that whilst only two feet moved her body, her little pony’s four feet were responsible for moving her soul and finding her brave once again.

“Thank you sweet boy”, she whispered to him, “I didn’t realise that once I was sitting on my lovely boy, my world would become so much clearer. ©

This is the story of my daughter, Holly, and her rescue- horse, Socks.

If you are unaware of the benefits of Equine Therapy for those who struggle with mental illness, anxiety and depression, here is a brief explanation of how these beautiful creatures can make such an impact on the human heart and mind.

Whilst, the obvious benefit is working outdoors, exercising and taking responsibility for something besides oneself, Equine Therapy allows people struggling with mental illness, to identify or process their feelings, something many with this type of disorder find very difficult.

Equine Therapy is a way to get in touch with emotions in a non-verbal way. It encourages the person to look for the clues as to how their horse is feeling.
Horses are very sensitive animals and will react to emotions even when you don’t realise you are exhibiting them.
In a way they mirror what is going on inside your head.
If you are anxious, so will your horse be. If you are calm, your horse will take their cue from you in a measured manner.

Equine Therapy is a brilliant way for individuals to create safe spaces for those who suffer from anxiety.
It helps them to feel they are able to exhibit positive emotions around their horse because their horse is so in-tune with their actions and non-verbal communication.

Plus, the daily routine of caring for another living creature is a huge positive. Especially for those who struggle to maintain positive habits and routines.

We have found the arrival of Sock’s in our family to be a life-changing experience and I would encourage anyone who is thinking of using Equine Therapy as a tool for anxiety or mental health issues to look into it more – for yourself or your loved one.

There is something quite beautiful about the gentle wisdom in a horse’s eye that can put even the most troubled of souls at peace.
Which is exactly what our lovely boy Socks, has done for our daughter.

We will be forever grateful for his life and their connection of two hearts, one soul.

Welcome to the family Mr Socks. You are so loved.

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Every Flower Must Grow Through Dirt.

It’s the time of the year when we all begin to think about the first of the early-bird spring bulbs to flourish.
Sweet, gentle but incredible hardy snowdrops peek their clustered forms through the still-winter-dull ground. Within a few days their delicate heads bob about amongst their community of die-hard stayers in the ground.
So very pretty amidst the still cold earth.

Then the colourful crocuses begin to herald their arrival.
Seeming much stronger in form and definitely more vibrant than the sweet snowdrops, these tough but pretty flowers paint a carpet of happy, joyful hues, hinting that whilst spring isn’t yet here, it’s definitely on its way.

“Every flower has to journey through the dirt before they can reveal their true beauty.”

I await the arrival of these two bulbs with such anticipation around February time. After a few months of frigid cold weather, bare trees, icy grounds and huddling indoors, the appearance of these two hardy bulbs brings such a lightness to my spirit.

Which made me think how every flower has to journey through the dirt before they can reveal their true beauty. Their growth, the main part of it, before their beautiful glory flourishes for the world, lies in the ground.

Waiting.
Growing strong.
Being still.


And it reminded me of our similar sitting in the sand journey.
How it’s not always easy to wait for healing to come. It’s actually incredibly hard to be in that place.
Not knowing when the time will arrive for us to poke our heads out of the soil and be fully ourselves again..

“Whilst we would all rather we didn’t have to stay put in the soil for an unknown period, we sure will look different when we finally bloom.”

We have been waiting in the soil for about 18 months now. Waiting for illnesses to pass, for healing to take place, for the passages of time to soothe certain ailments and for cuts to mend over. The scars still showing and many lessons learnt along the way but still a painful experience.

Which is exactly what being in the soil is. It’s painful and uncomfortable and we all don’t much care for being in that place.

However, we were never ever promised an easy ride in life.
As the saying goes, you have to crack an egg first to use it and I think it’s the same for us.
Whilst we would all rather we didn’t have to stay put in the soil for an unknown period, we sure will look different when we finally bloom.

Here are three things we have learnt from our sand experience:

1. Just Because We Are In The Sand Doesn’t Mean We Have Done Anything Wrong.

Many, many times it is the assumption that if you are going through a hard place, you are reaping the consequences of your actions. And whilst, sometimes this may be true, oftentimes, it is not.
We find ourselves in tricky situations because we are human. Relationships fail, jobs are lost, loved ones fall ill which has nothing to do with anything we have done wrong.
You are not a failure if you spend time in the sand. You shouldn’t feel ashamed and just because someone or some people have spoken over your life, does not make it the truth.

2. Sitting In the Sand Is Your Body’s Way Of Allowing You To Heal.

If there is one thing we have learnt over these past months, it is to listen to our bodies.
I have been known to ignore what my body is saying, often screaming out to me.
Exhaustion, negative thought patterns, irritability, feeling overwhelmed to name a few, are all signals sent to us by our brain to TAKE ACTION.

There is a reason behind why we feel the way we do and as a family we have learnt to listen intently to what is wise, which for us was resting, taking stock of our lives, asking the big questions such as where we wanted to proceed for the future.
And waiting. You guessed it, in the sand.
To heal.

“Time to dig your toes deep into rich, sustaining goodness, that feels solid and safe deep down in your heart”.

3. Don’t Rush The Process.

I am impatient by nature, find it incredibly hard to sit still and even harder to wait.
Guess who was the one in our family to find sand sitting the hardest?
Me. It felt like torment for the first 12 months.
I kid you not.

I am used to making plans when things go awry.
A, B, C & D are usually written down in detail as a way of me feeling secure in having a plan going forward.

But what happens when you can’t even come up with a plan because you just have no idea how any of it is going to pan out?

You have to sit and wait and heal.
In the sand. In that soil, full of nourishment and goodness and that awful word – time.

Time to allow your body to catch up with your brain. Time to be able to clearly see what your path ahead may look like. And time to dig your toes deep into rich, sustaining goodness, that feels solid and safe deep down in your heart.

The questions begs, are we still sitting in the soil? I would say, yes and no.

Yes because we are find it easier to be there and no because we are still generally there.
I think we are a bit like the snowdrops, we are forming a green cluster of little, tender, baby shoots, growing together as a family unit and soon to be joined by a community of others.
People who will stand with us and join our journey forward.
A journey that feels good and right.

I know what it’s like to feel very unsure about your present and your future friend. I feel your pain, which will be different to my journey, but just as challenging for you.

If you can, try sitting in the sand. Listen to your body and give yourself that very necessary time to heal before your body completely takes over and causes you to STOP functioning fully.

As the popular quote by Regina Brett says, “Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

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For All The Exhausted Mama’s.

We see you.

These are some wise words from an unknown author and so incredibly fitting for me this week. I hope it encourages you too.

For the exhausted mum who hides a few minutes to cry in the bathroom……

For the mum hidden in the bathroom, because she needs a few minutes of tranquility while slipping tears from her eyes.

For the mum who is so tired that she feels she can’t continue, that she would give anything for a moment of peace.

For the mum who cries in her room for having scolded the kids for a nonsense that makes her feel guilty.

For the mum who desperately battles when wearing denim pants because she wants to look pretty and wear them to feel better.

For the mum who orders pizza for dinner again because she didn’t have the energy to make a home-cooked meal. As she is expected.

For the mum who feels alone, even when she’s accompanied.

You are worth a lot.

You are important.

You are enough.

This is a stage and a season. A crazy and challenging stage for all mums. But in the end everything will be worth it. For now, it’s hard. Difficult in many and different ways for each of us. We don’t always talk, but we all fight. You are not alone.

You are enough.

You give the best of you.

Those little eyes that observe you, think you’re perfect. They think you’re more than perfect.

Those little hands that ask for your arms. They think you’re the strongest and you can conquer the world.

Those little mouths eating what you cook. They think you’re the best.

Those little hearts looking for yours. They want nothing but you.

Because you are enough for them. You are more than enough mama.

You are quite simply wonderful.

-Unknown Author-

For the little lives that you pour your heart into. For all the moments unseen and all the ones that are.
For your hundreds of selfless acts that you do every single hour of every single day.
We see you. All of it.
We see it in the little ones that you nourish, cherish, give life and breath to. Mould, contour, tweak and marvel.

You, mama, are seen.
Just look at your children and be reminded of your beautiful, unique, deeply sustaining purposeful calling, which is motherhood.

And pause. Today you are more than enough.

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The Four Kinds Of People We All Need In Our Lives.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”-C.S. Lewis

Have you ever been friends with or are friends with someone or some people who withdraw from your tank rather than fill it up? Do you wonder if the friendship is unbalanced and just plain not healthy?

I have had these types of friendships over the years, which you can read about here.

Some words I read the other day reminded me of the beauty and rarity of true friendships and why we need to pursue these ones that are truly life’s treasures.
Here are the four types of friends we all need:

1. Those who empower you to be YOU.

2. Those who believe in your dreams.

3. Those who make you a better person. 

4. Those who aren’t afraid to hold you accountable.

We need people who empower us to be us. Just as we are.

You are a unique creation and finely tuned to make an impact on the world like no other person can. Imagine if we all tapped into our inherent giftings! The world would be a much brighter place.

You only need that one person who will enable you to achieve your potential and create miracles within your own life. Simply by being beside you, being supportive and cheering you on.

Stay clear of the people who draw alongside you but have the wrong intentions of heart. Think keeping up with the Jones’s and being competitive with every breath. Nothing good can come from these comparisons and connections, so let them go gently if you can.

We need people to remind us of our dreams. Often.

Find those people or that person who nurtures you and reminds you of your natural ability and talents.

We all need people who cheer us on always, who know our shortcomings and choose to see the best in us every time.

We need friends who help us up when we fall and who invest in our dreams, journeying alongside us. Who won’t settle for your excuses and instead hold your shaky hand and calm your quivering heart when you have a wobble or three.

We need friends who make us a better person.

We all need a bit of encouragement now and then to make us better people. There is so much negativity in the world already. We don’t need those people in our lives.

Try and surround yourself with people who see the glass half full rather than half empty, who will remind you that every closed door is a perfect opportunity for new beginnings and trials can be welcomed, as they make us stronger and more resilient people.

Negativity is contagious but so is positivity, so surround yourself with the right crowd and build back into them as well.

Bouncing ideas off each other can produce some amazing life changing ideas and the beginning of fresh and new journeys.

We need friends who hold us accountable.

Keep these friends especially close.
The ones who don’t just tell you what you want to hear and believe every word that comes out of your mouth.

We all need a friend or friends who call us out on things.

It’s not only incredibly healthy to take stock of our lives and actions but extremely humbling to know that someone has our back, especially during times when we seem a bit lost and try to bluff our way out of it.

Having these people who care enough to challenge you in love can make the difference between a poor thought pattern and making a terrible life decision.

And as Helen Keller famously said, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
Me too friends. Me too.

If you can count on the one hand some of those friends above, then the stars are shinning brightly upon your corner of the universe indeed, my friend.

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The Wonderful World of Boredom.

“What is it you do all day with your children?”

This is a question I am asked – often. Visions of structured days and non-stop activities, where I am chained to the demands of my children are some of the anticipated answers.
But it’s actually the opposite.

We purposefully create spaces of quiet and nothing for the children to explore all sorts of something.

Most days we set aside time, often hours for the children to be still.
This means no scheduled play-dates, no sport activities, no running around to drop them off and pick them up from place to place.
It’s just space that is empty.

For the kids to be bored.

Hear me out though, it’s not because I’m a lazy mother and can’t be bothered to apply myself on their behalf. It’s because I want them to find their own spaces of magic and creativity with me as their side-kick, rather than their facilitator.

And those few moments of boredom gives them space to stop and think and dream, then channel that emotion. Into something fun and creative to do.
All without my assistance.

If you allow your children space in the day where they have free and unorganised time to do whatever takes their fancy, it will be one of the greatest gifts you can give you children and your marriage.

Maybe, you and your partner find yourself on the treadmill of keeping the kids amused, happy and active all day long and it’s a strain on your relationship because you literally have no time alone for each other, except when your child falls asleep. And by that time, you’re too exhausted to put one foot in front of the other at that time of the night.

Make sure the two of you spend time together and build into your relationship. So you at least like each other during those often tumultuous years of bringing up children!

This can be the difference between a strong marriage/partnership and one that falters and tears at the seams.
Time with your children 24/7 is a sure-fire way to place a drain on your relationship and the cracks appear.

It’s also not great for your children to be the centre of your attention all day.

In this big wild world, this won’t be the case at all.
They will have to learn to wait their turn, be patient and most of all, know not everything we do in life is fun.
Having already experienced times of being still and tuning into their own creative rhythms and imaginations will help your child to learn that they can handle certain things themselves.
Without our help.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”

Mary Lou Cook

The mind likes to wander, especially when given the space and time to do so.
And it is never more alive than when it has nothing to do.

Boredom sparks daydreaming and daydreaming turns to creative thought, which our children will need the skill of more and more in the workplace.
Problem solving on their own, thinking outside the square, applying logical thought-patterns to a problem, are all skills that flow from spaces of sitting, thinking and working things out.
All from a bit of boredom.

Rather than giving in when your child or children begin to tell you they have nothing to. Next time, gently steer them towards their room of toys or the shelf of books.

Encourage them to go outside in nature and find sticks and flowers to create something.
Your children may just reward you as they play for hours in a game they have made up and can’t bear to stop.
All because they are having fun which stemmed from a bored moment and a bit of creative thinking to kickstart them on their way.

Remember, boredom isn’t a sign of bad parenting, it’s a nudge towards new and exciting discoveries for your children to treasure and expand their minds.

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