With a stack of Christmas presents to wrap after last weeks shopping spree I needed my elves to help make light work through the process of delegation; Millie ripped up sticky tape, Gabriele crinkled the wrapping paper and we all crunched on rainbow cookies as we made our way through every present, wrapped and delivered them all ready for Xmas. Now that is how it’s done. High five kids, we got this Crimbo in the bag! 🙂
Millie went for a sleepover in the evening when Gabriele was out visiting family and I had a lovely night out and I dropped her off with a bag of chocolates and a goodnight kiss. I almost have to pinch myself when I get a mini-break when the children are both away at the same time and I can do whatever I please; no snotty noses, no night feeds, no clearing up mess and cooking and rushing around looking for keys, just bliss and relaxation and the odd bottle of wine or two! But come the morning at 7am when I arrived to collect my Millie squirrel she was far from bright eyed and bushy tailed when she hobbled into the car looking washed out and pale. The poor little thing had been violently sick from 3am and emptied the contents of her stomach all over the house, furniture and floor. Where did that come from!?
Driving home I tried to reassure Millie that whatever had made her tummy upset was more than likely well out of her system now as she’d got it all up and she would start to feel better soon. I suspected that although she’d already eaten her dinner before I dropped her off the night before, perhaps she’d had one too many Maltesers which made her feel sickly. As we sang along to the radio Millie had a little cough and let out a little ‘uh-oh’ which made me question if she was okay behind me where I couldn’t see. “Yes Mummy” she replied in a cheerful voice “just keep driving.” Hmm…
When we pulled up on the driveway I hopped out to open her door and was greeted by a wave of vomit which splashed up the inside of the door, all over the seat, across Millie’s legs and into her boots as well as all over the back of my seat. My new car! 🙁 And my poor Millie! How do you even go about getting the seatbelt undone when everything is covered in vomit!? Carefully I peeled her out of her seat and she left a perfect clean stencil print behind of where she had been sat. Limping into the hallway I removed her clothes, got her a blanket and nestled her on the sofa with a glass of water as I attempted to de-vom her shoes and the car. I can’t believe how much had come out of her considering she’d already been throwing up all morning at her fathers.
Just as I’d taken care of her clothes and returned to the hall to put on my shoes and venture onto the drive I heard another ‘uh-oh’ from behind me and looked over my shoulder to catch the tail-end of Millie being sick all over herself, the sofa and the carpet. Oh my God! It was like something out of a horror film. Thankfully she eventually ran out of sick and shivered and shook in her little blanket nest on the sofa, unable to eat and only taking little sips of water until she fell fast asleep. It’s horrible to see her so weak and helpless but sadly there’s nothing I could do, just keep her as warm and comfortable as possible, let her rest and hope that in time she will feel better.
Millie managed to eat two dry cream crackers this morning and it’s her second day off of school ill. As it’s parents evening tonight I plan to walk the children to school if Millie feels strong enough and hope that some fresh air will help to make her feel better. So for now she has a day at home with Gabriele and I, lots of sofa snuggles and Disney DVD’s and a cat and a dog demanding lots of tickles.
Following the carnage at the start of the week I had a well needed pamper afternoon of reflexology and a Swedish hot stone back massage and mud wrap at The Belmore Centre. Having never tried either before I was amazed at how incredible it made me feel. After being tortured by a sleepless baby and covered in vomit by my six year old, having my feet massaged to the tune of soothing music and delicious aromatherapy candles was pure bliss. It was absolutely fascinating to discover what the reflexologist could tell me about my health from touching my feet, she picked up on the fact that I’d had my eyes lasered, that my shoulders were knotted from doing weight training and that I had a weak left hip, sore throat and full bladder! Well I never! And the hot stone massage was divine, melting away the tension in my muscles and softening every inch of skin until I felt, and smiled, like a newborn baby. I drove home on cloud nine afterwards, back home to the washing and impending weekly food shop, traffic jams and Christmas checkout queues. The words back, reality and bump spring to mind.
I’m now nine weeks into my twelve week P90X routine and the finish line is on the horizon. Already three quarters of the way through this incredibly epic and challenging fitness regime and I’ve not had a single day off, seven days a week for at least an hour to an hour and a half each day come rain or shine, pleasure or pain. So many people have asked me how I’ve found time to do it with the children and being at home by myself and I feel a bit of a flood gate about to open here. It’s not straightforward and it’s not easy but I get on with it. It’s very much the mentality you have to completing a task and seeing through what you set out to do in the first place. Some days I’ve had four hours sleep from a teething toddler, my muscles are aching from continuous training, I feel weak from my period and the phone rings, the dog barks, the doorbell goes, Gabriele wants cuddles and Millie needs help with her homework; but I still do it, I do it all and I do it with a smile. One step at a time, nothing is too much and I always put 100% into everything. Nothing is impossible, you just have to have the guts to do it.
In my opinion, training, exercise, diet and lifestyle is a mental state not a punishment. You have to begin each day with the belief that you will see it through to the end, that every task regardless of size is manageable, everything has an order and each is a stepping stone forward to the finish line. If I woke up and looked at the mountain of things I had to do and the very little time or help that I have to do it alone I would more than likely still be weeping in bed by now, which is why I don’t! I realise my responsibility, I understand that it won’t be easy but know the importance of getting it done, so I don’t make excuses I just make a start and it takes as long as it takes.
I like to stand on my own two feet and be in control because lets face it, who else will do it for me if I don’t? I know what the children and I need, what I have to do and how it should be done most efficiently and effectively, so I keep that in mind at all times and if obstacles get thrown in my path by others throughout my day I weigh up their importance and fit them in as and when I have to. If you lose control of your time and allow others to dictate to you that’s when the wheels come off, you fall behind, you miss things out and you make mistakes. If it means that I workout at midnight then it’s what I’ll do to fit it in. You have to be able to adapt rather than give up, if and when the goal posts move don’t go looking for a different game to play, fight harder to finish what you’ve started and the achievement of seeing it through to the end makes the success so much sweeter.
The more you stress and worry throughout the day the harder it becomes to stay positive and do everything that you’ve set out. We’ve at times been twenty minutes late leaving school, which meant that dinner was then delayed or overcooked and had to be thrown and started again, bath time was pushed back, reading and homework still had to be done, the kids settled to bed and an hour and a half military training workout squeezed in when I know I’ll be up all night for the night feeds with my nineteen month old with nobody to pass the buck to. My race doesn’t end at bedtime, my day doesn’t begin in the morning, my life is a 24/7 marathon which has no start or finish point, but I allocate each lap that I complete to a task knowing that the next is scheduled to begin as soon as I cross the finish line. The only thing that I can control in the race is my attitude, not the quantity of needs and responsibility but my outlook and ability to carry on going. Moaning and feeling sorry for myself won’t achieve what needs to be done, it won’t bring me a tirelessly dedicated husband to lighten half of the load and support the weight of my shoulders, it can only serve to make my feet heavier and my head lower, so I refuse to acknowledge negativity.
If I have one hundred things to do throughout my day then I look at the bigger picture. My children come first and everything else after. If other people demand my time and energy I have to be kind but fair, realistic and practical. I can’t please everyone, I can’t do everything and then some single handedly so if it means saying no then it’s what I do without the feeling of guilt. If a boat forever took on more cargo than it could carry then eventually it would sink and everything would be lost, so I recognise what I’m capable of, what needs to be done and realistically what I’m capable of achieving. I still take on extra, push myself to my limits and work from sunrise to sunset but through trial and error I have discovered my own margins and stay out of the red in order to achieve longevity in what I do. I weigh up the pro’s and con’s of each situation and look at all of the possible outcomes and providing I can cope with the worst case scenario then anything above that is a bonus.
I’ve come to learn that in order to find balance in life you first have to be capable of doing everything single handedly without doubting yourself. It wasn’t an ideal position to find myself in, just five days after my breast reconstruction (and forth surgery this year) being walked out on by my fiance and becoming a single parent to my six and one year old, but at the same time it has taught me so much that has proven to be my most worthwhile lesson in life. I’ve learnt to not be complacent, to not rely on others or expect tomorrow to be a given, but to realise what you have, be grateful, humble and unbreakable. To have being left to pick up the pieces at such a low point in my life was absolutely heartbreaking, mentally draining, physically impossible through surgery and emotionally unsettling to deal with the needs of two young children alone when I needed to heal and grieve myself.
In the four months since my world was turned upside down the things I have achieved have been quite possibly the greatest in my life so far. I refused to give up, I refused to cave in, I looked devastation in the face, kissed it on the cheek and carried on by with my head held high and my children by my side. If you want to have a future you can’t live your life in the past. Before I had my children I was young, carefree, living a lavish lifestyle and doing everything I’d ever dreamed of; but fantasising on ‘the good old days’ won’t bring that freedom back, it won’t take away my responsibility or lighten my workload so that’s where it stays, in the past. It is a beautiful memory which I will always cherish, I have lived it, learned from it and am fond and driven by what else I can achieve in life for myself and my children.
Obviously it was never part of my life plan to become a single parent to two young children, but it happened. I can’t make somebody love me, I can’t make somebody commit to family life and promise to look after me forever and a day. But I can love my children, I can always be there for them no matter what and I know that I am capable of looking after myself and my babies so fear and insecurity are no longer a threat to me because I’ve made my mistakes and learnt from them safe in the knowledge of my future decisions being all the better for it.
I could quite easily be resentful for what I don’t have, the ability to be a carefree singleton only thinking of myself, a multimillionaire with no concern for bills and taxes or even a supermodel with the perfect body, but jealousy doesn’t motivate me, success does. I can work hard and earn my millions, establish financial security through my success to one day not have to worry about money and I can condition and train my body to become a supermodel if I desire. Nothing is impossible in life, it just takes dedication and passion. I feel incredibly touched to know that I have been able to motivate and inspire others to achieve their goals and we can all become happier healthier people by learning to appreciate not resent success in others. It’s about using it as a benchmark, a motivation and a goalpost to keep you on track. You have to put in the effort to reap the rewards.
A huge part of life is learning to deal with failure, to fight through tiredness, doubt, pain and emotion and to believe in yourself and know deep down that you will achieve what you set out to in time. It may not happen overnight, it may not happen within a year, but if you refuse to give up then you will never fail to achieve your dreams. I see every day as a lesson and opportunity to improve on what I’ve done before. It took me three attempts to pass my driving test at the age of seventeen, not because I couldn’t drive but because I didn’t exaggerate my movements enough. For my first test I failed to check my mirrors obviously enough by turning my head instead of my eyes and for second test I failed to accelerate fast enough onto a roundabout; but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t check my mirrors and that I didn’t accelerate because I performed both, but not to the level necessary. So I learnt from each issue and I put my foot down harder and I turned my head more confidently and I passed with flying colours third time lucky. I wasn’t cocksure to start with, I didn’t have an ego or take uncalculated risks, I started from the bottom, built my foundation and adapted my technique to achieve what I’d set out to by learning from the mistakes I’d made. A mistake is simply an opportunity to learn and progress and it’s well known that practise makes perfect.
Before this time I’d never had a minute to myself, I ran around after everyone and everything, bend over backwards to please other people and burnt myself out, finally turning to my partner for help who wasn’t capable of giving it so left. I lost sight of the person I am, I forgot about myself and my own needs and I allowed others to dictate to me how I should spend my time. I was always told where to be, what to wear, what I would eat (the only vegetarian option) and what I had to do for others who expected so much of me, but finding myself on my own I was utterly shocked to realise that I hadn’t made my own personal choices in so many years that I didn’t know where to begin. I was almost incapable to deciding what to eat when given a choice on a vegetarian menu, I couldn’t decide what clothes to buy myself when I was shopping for post-surgery clothes and given the choice of who to help I picked my children instead of others who are capable of looking after themselves but far too used to depending on others. Now that I’m on my own I have time for my own thoughts, my own needs and my own desires. I see what I want and I can concentrate on setting out to get it myself. I don’t have to have somebody around me 24/7 in order to feel complete as a person because I am confident in myself. Obviously I enjoy the company of others, the companionship of adults balances out my child-orientated regime but on the other hand I’m not afraid to be alone. I am capable, confident and far more conscious through becoming a single parent and to me that has been priceless.
The world doesn’t owe me anything, I don’t need anybody to take care of me or to do everything for me. I have all of my limbs, I have my health, my heart and my own mind and the world is my oyster. There is so much opportunity in life, at every twist and turn there is a new beginning and chance to succeed in everything you do, you just have to open your eyes and mind and never be afraid of change because it’s what makes us stronger even if it isn’t evident at the time you’re going through it. Weeks after my breast reconstruction, my heartbreak and workload I faced alone with the children I committed to a ninety day workout regime, the P90X. I was tender from surgery, weak from not eating, skinny, fragile and lived everyday on an emotional roller coaster. I didn’t do it to lose weight, I did it to build strength, centre my mind, body and soul, gain power, control and drive and to prove to myself that in the darkest time of my life I could create my own light. Day by day I transformed myself from a feeble Bambi into a fearless lion, not because I thought it would be easy, but because I knew that it would be incredibly hard.
The results we hard earned, it took time, dedication and training seven days a week with no rest or down time. At first my joints cracked, my back buckled, my muscles hurt and I felt weak and lethargic. As my surgery scars healed, my heart mended, my mind balanced and my routines became stronger day by day. I got the sparkle back in my eyes, the fire in my belly and the belief in my heart; I found the strength to hold my head high, to fill my lungs with air and to push and strive and fight for every drop of sweat that I earned myself. In order to see change I first had to maintain dedication, I already possessed the skills to do everything asked of me, I could run, jump, stand and stretch, but over time I developed the stamina, the depth and the strength to go harder and longer. I didn’t give up when it hurt, I didn’t cave in when the results weren’t immediate, I focused my mind and I told myself that I will do this. And I have, and I am and I’m loving every second and growing so much as a person.
Never be afraid of the dark days that challenge you, never fear the things that try to break you or the people who hurt you in life. Be in control of the things that you have power over, yourself, your outlook and your mentality towards life. Expect nothing and achieve everything through hard work and dedication, time and endurance. The most amazing things in life are worth fighting for wholeheartedly and surprisingly not many people posess them because they’ve already give up long before they’ve even started.
Make today your own, take control of your life and believe in yourself. You will soon realise that you are far far stronger than you ever imagined possible.