Tales & images from life as me…

family life

Judgement & Criticism… & Paranoia


Had a bit of a revelation this week. The thing is, being a parent you are learning how to manage new stuff every day. And just as you get one thing under control they change their habits, likes, reactions, whatever and you are back in the dark again wondering what to try next. I think that’s probably true even if you are doing it for the second or third time. They are each their own little parcel of crazy contradictions and joyous mayhem!

So, with that in mind, it’s easy to feel that you never know what you’re doing. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to be in total control. It’s the perfect storm for feeling that everyone is looking at you and wondering what the hell you are doing!

My husband and I recently attempted our first hotel stay away since baby K was born. He’s 14 months so it’s been a while. We’ve done visiting parents and family and friends, but this time we had booked a posh hotel and were looking forward to a proper mini-break. Ha ha ha!

First mistake was booking a posh hotel. One year olds don’t care where they stay and have little respect for other people’s property, or other people! We spent all his waking hours herding him back towards us and trying to stop him from bothering anyone else. I was convinced that every guest – none of whom had children and all of whom were there just trying to relax – hated us and thought we were totally crap at controlling our boy’s behaviour. I even wanted to shh him when he was laughing too loudly at breakfast! Later I decided we were probably worrying too much, perhaps they liked the laughter and were judging us for being too controlling and hovery. Either way I was very conscious of everyone else and almost forgot we had gone there to relax ourselves… In case you were worried we found the bar once baby was in bed and all was well! But it got me thinking – perhaps most of the criticism was in my head!… especially when it was time to say goodbye any everyone wanted to wave to little K and wish us well!

My inkling that perhaps we were not being judged as much as I’d imagined, was then reinforced by a blog I read. It was a very well written and amusing blog about how annoying ‘helicopter’ parents are in parks. In a nutshell she said she went there to let her kids feel free to play, but felt that other mums gave her evils (or ‘stink eye’ as she called it) if her children were left to it. I thought I agreed with her, but then I read the comments… Other mums had said they felt bad as they might be seen as that parent but they never meant to seem judgey, only that if a child asked for help they would help, or if they seemed lost they’d look around for the mum. Some said they only hovered as their little junior always climbed too high and had no sense of fear or that they’d had a bad experience before. I suddenly realised the writer had been judging the ‘helicopter’ mums and they felt just as paranoid!

I remembered a moment in a supermarket some time ago where a mum was clearly close to tears as her daughter screamed and launched a packet of new potatoes all over the floor. As the little summer delicacies rolled along the aisle I sent her what I thought was a look of sympathy and support, and was about to go over and help her pick up the escaping potatoes. But before I could she turned on me: “What are you looking at?” she barked with narrowed eyes. At the time I’d thought bad thoughts (I admit it; she was mean I was trying to be kind!), but now I realise she was feeling awful and assumed that I was judging.

It’s dawned on me… 99% of the time we are probably not being criticized. No one else can do it better. They all know it’s hard! And even if you are being judged, there’s very little good that can come out of thinking about it – better to assume you are not! I’ve discovered if I smile and say something to the person I feel is casting aspersions, they generally admit they’ve been there, they have five, or that they’d find it hard too if they did and then… ‘isn’t he cute’ and ‘how old is he?’ And suddenly none of it mattered anyway!

I know I’ve written this about parenting, but it occurs to me this might apply to lots of things. Perhaps my worries about my writing, house keeping, friends, fat bits, work, dress sense, husband, family blah blah are mostly in my head! Wouldn’t that be great? Let’s pretend it’s true even if it isn’t, it’d save us a whole heap of worrying!

Found a great saying the other day: My worrying is very successful… 99% of the stuff I worry about never happens! It seems an appropriate close to today’s blog!


Thirty things I’ve learned since the birth of my little boy (a year ago today!)


It’s been one hell of a year. It feels like five years in which I haven’t stopped, but it also feels like five minutes and I’ve achieved nothing (except growing a tiny little boy from a tiny little baby who is totally awesome, of course).

I was trying to explain to a pregnant friend what it’s all like; wanting to tell the truth without glossing over the daunting parts like so many people did with me. Only I had no idea where to start. I remember feeling that I’d prepared, read books, spoken to people, even done a course… and then the baby came! It was unbelievable how clueless I was. I learned a degree’s worth of information hands on, in a couple of months.

…And then abandoned most of what I’d learned and started all over again as we entered a different phase… and then another.

The way I see it the year splits in half. Some of my points from the first six months (which I found SO hard) just don’t apply to the next, but anyone who’s been through this one year marker will recognize most of these, I’m sure. In no particular order, here are some of the gems I’ve gathered in the past twelve months:

1. Even though every experience is unique, there is a vast commonality and that means an amazing world of supportive, interesting, wonderful people out there to share it all with.

2. That the hours are long but the days are short. In fact time is just a total mess – see my previous post on that topic:

3. To abandon all judgements – you know exactly how that mum got to that point in the supermarket now; it’s not bad parenting it’s a bad day, a bad world, and a momentarily bad child!

4. That guilt and foreseeing doom are two side effects of childbirth and they don’t go away. Scary stuff! https://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/the-day-the-world-went-dark/

5. How annoying sympathy can be – those pulled in eyebrows and tilted heads from the mums whose children sleep all night are a good example (except in the second six months when mine was sleeping I somehow adopted exactly the same expression when talking to sleep deprived friends – oh no! how could I?!)

6. How annoying advice and clichés can be – I really had to restrain myself from punching people who suggested I ‘sleep when he sleeps’, and I couldn’t believe how many people did (give me the advice, not sleep when he slept!).

7. To take advice from anyone and everyone! – Yes, I know what I said in point 6 but it’s also true that those offering the advice generally have very good intentions, are occasionally right and clichés are clichés for a reason. I resigned myself to trying anything once! (though sleeping when he slept never did work for me!)

8. How to operate on no sleep – it’s incredible how you can keep going. I used to do sleep deprivation in terms of clubbing or camping (or Barb Wire/Tofani Porini for those in the know) but nothing like the endless nights of an hour here and an hour there followed by hours of crying or feeding as your husband snores in the other room. I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more murders committed in those first few months! And yet, we survive. We even get up, occasionally add make-up and eat something and somehow everyone is kept alive and reasonably happy. (note: I only have one child, if I’d already had one at this point I could not guarantee the safety of said imaginary older sibling during those first months!!)

9. How to do everything with one hand – As if it isn’t hard enough to start with – in plenty of pain from the birth, attempting to breast feed (see next point), sleep deprived, hormonal – you are also expected to suddenly cope without one hand as it is constantly holding your baby (even when it weighs over 10kg and wriggles it cannot be put down!) It took a while but now I can even butter toast with one hand!

10. How to set up a pram, install a car seat, build a cot – all of which are rocket science (and that’s without sleep deprivation). These were all skills which absolutely terrified me, led to broken nails, a trapped thumb, many tears… And then then I learned to suck it up and do it all with one hand!

11. Kids bounce! – not that I’ve deliberately tried out this theory, but my wibbly wobbly walking boy has fallen off everything in the house and hit his head on everything with corners, and somehow he still pops up smiling. They are much tougher than they look – thank goodness!

12. Being a mum makes you cry – I now cry at adverts! Actually TV in general is bad – there’s always something to trigger it. And the news is a nightmare. But it’s not just TV, it’s everything: parking, supermarkets, being late, any excuse really.

13. You do adjust. If someone had explained what my life would look like today a couple of years ago I would have laughed and said there’d be no way I’d allow that to happen. I was a free spirited, travelling, partying, creative, writing, singing, sociable blonde with boobs that stayed up and time for everything. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. But would I go back? If you’d asked me this in month one I might have said yes! But honestly, absolutely no way. Somehow or other my life morphed into my current existence and along the way I caught up and we are ok. No, better than that, we are happy.

14. How to shower with a child of 2, 10, 20 etc weeks – with all the techniques for keeping them safe and busy at the various stages I think I could write one of those tiny books you find at the checkout. The bouncer on the bathroom floor, the washing basket full of plastic balls, a special drawer for him to unpack and reload. Anything to allow me those crucial ten minutes – without which it’s best if I don’t leave the house for the rest of the day!

15. Flying with a baby is horrendous!

16. How to drive with a crying child – I have a terrifying memory of my boy yelling so loudly for so long that I finally pulled into an A road layby to feed him. It was pouring with rain and I hauled him out of the back into the front with me and had to breast feed as great big lorries roared past shaking my little car. Not fun. Now I mostly can ignore him without getting too stressed but it’s definitely no one’s favourite experience being stuff in traffic on a motorway with a baby that has no understanding of why they can’t just have a cuddle.

17. How to cook everything without salt – you develop a weird phobia of salt as a new mum!

18. How to make new friends fast – you need them! Sometimes just a honest comment or a sympathetic ear can prove to be the beginning of a new friendship. This has been a surprise to me in many ways as I always said – ‘just because they’re mums too doesn’t mean I’m going to like them all’. Of course that’s true, but it’s amazing how many I do like!

19. How to appreciate the little things – some days they’re all you’ve got! But often it’s amazing how the tiniest thing can light up your day.

20. To appreciate my parents (see above link to ‘the day the world went dark’)

21. Never to put a cup of tea down -you’ll forget and it will be spilled in spectacular fashion

22. That your heart has an unending capacity to expand. Every time you think you couldn’t love them any more, you find you can.

23. How to have a conversation when no one finishes a sentence!

24. Everything’s a phase (a handy mantra for surviving the first year)

25. The pure joy of he first smile, first laugh, first steps. I didn’t expect to get much back for the first few years, but have been very pleasantly surprised.

26. How to handle poo (in all its guises. Who knew it had so many?!)

27. How to handle a wriggler covered in poo (…shower!)

28. Nothing matters very much, and very little matters at all (thanks Gran!)

29. Children are disgusting!

30. Despite point 29, all children are beautiful and absolutely deserve to be loved. I’m not sure I really got that before. I mean I did, of course, I wasn’t an evil child hating monster, I just wasn’t that bothered. Now refer to point 12 – even other people’s children can make me cry. Hell, even fictional children can make me cry!

I’m sure this isn’t all I’ve learned, it’s just what came off the top of my head when I sat down to write. I’d love to hear what you guys would add to the list, but these are a few to get you started.

* * *

What with rolling, crawling, walking, weaning, entertaining, cleaning, nursing (both in terms of milk and medicine!), and desperately trying to maintain some elements of your old self and a house that doesn’t look too much as though it’s been burgled… there hasn’t been time for a lot, but looking back I am surprised to be able to say I am quite proud of the year’s accomplishments and I am incredibly proud of my beautiful, clever, sunny little boy. We’ve moved house (twice!), been to Italy and Kenya, celebrated birthdays, had our boy christened, Damien’s worked (often abroad for weeks at a time), I’ve written several articles and done some PR, and all whilst managing to remember to stay in love! Not bad!

Happy happy birthday beautiful boy. Thanks for all the smiles you’ve brought into our lives. Shame about the various bodily fluids and sleepless nights but you’re worth it!! We love you.


The Feeding Frenzy


IMG_1948
Food has taken over my life. It’s not even me that’s eating it (mostly). For the past 6 months I’ve basically been delivering around 9 meals a day. At one point that was 9 milk feeds and nothing for me as I didn’t have any spare hands or minutes, but now we’re into weaning (just change two letters and it’s waring – go figure!).

So, it’s 5 milk feeds, 3 ‘solid’ feeds (how can they call that mushed up vomit solids?!) and a meal for me and my man at the end of the day. It’s endless and exhausting and occasionally highly entertaining!

Preparation
Hours spent in the kitchen slaving over an Annabel Karmel cook book leave you with pulped fruit, pureed veg and mushy chicken all neatly spooned into ice trays, and a very smug feeling – until you realise that actually getting this stuff into your baby is a whole different ball game! …Basically, he chucks what he doesn’t like, so I just spent all those hours making delicate little canapés for the dogs.

If I’m honest, I was really dreading this whole stage. Squashed banana has always made me gag! And that stuff that mums wipe off the table into their hands – urgh! And the things that they do like licking stuff of their child’s fingers or picking out bogies – reeeeally?! So, I had to psych myself up.

Having said this, we started the whole food thing early. That was a whole other battle. How are you supposed to know when to do anything when advice is so contradictory?… 4 months was always the norm, now suddenly it’s 6 months. Can they sit up? Are they interested in food? Yeeees, but that was at 4 months. So we went for it. It was clearly a success as baby K has got entirely stuck in and started sleeping through the night (though they say the connection between these two events is mythical, well it wasn’t for us). But it’s certainly a journey. Yet another learning curve. I’ve learned so much new information in the past year – like an entire degree’s worth – most of it about stuff I never really wanted to know in the first place!

Anyway, there we were: Day one. Little bottom perched in big high chair, cute clean bib in position and mini spoon in hand. I offered up the fruits of my labour… only to have them returned in a splattery spitty mess seconds later along with a look of absolute disgust!

Our rented house is definitely going to require an entire blog post to itself (once we’ve moved out and got the/some of the deposit back!) but there’s no hiding the fact that there is rejected food splattered up walls! Thank goodness for the dogs (never thought you’d hear me say that!) or the floors would be thick with dried slop that I don’t have time to clean up – at least you can’t see dog spit!

Progress
There are at least a thousand things you can’t give a baby for fear of allergies, choking, or alien invasion, so planning meals is a bit of a minefield. And the homemade vs shop bought ‘organic’ options is a conundrum too. But we’ve found our middle ground and I’m pleased to say we have made progress. More food goes inside baby K than on him (more like 60/40 than 40/60!) and enthusiasm has improved – mainly in the form of ‘mmmmm mmmm mmm’ noises and flapping excited arms.

I’m not surprised he gets excited – the little prince is brought offerings of three or even four courses including finger food appetisers, nutritious blended mains and generally fruit-themed deserts. We don’t eat like this!

Mostly though, it’s good we don’t eat like him. If we did we’d be doubling our body weight every couple of years and also finding bits of lunch in our ears or eyebrows at around 3pm when we wake up from our naps. Oh, hang on – that does happen! Not the nap obviously, but randomly discovering he’s sneakily smushed some unrecogniseable food substance into my clothes, generally at a moment where I can’t do anything about it, happens quite a lot. It’s so glamorous being a mum!

But…
it’s worth it: Worth scrabbling through the freezer amongst all the little pots of mysterious green stuff (damn, must start labeling them); the endless planning ahead; the messy disgusting state of everything; because he’s growing and smiling and enjoying it all. I never realised how much fun it would be to watch him try jelly for the first time, or taste pineapple or experience philadelphia’s creamy coolness on his tongue. Imagine what it must be like to have all those new tastes coming your way.

The endless preparation, laying out, delivery, clean up (then clean up again as he generally pukes at least some of it up once we’re all done) leaves you with little time to do anything else much, and makes it close to impossible to leave the house (the prospect of doing all this in a café where the high chair is probably too big so he slides around, other people distract him and he’s likely to strain for a poo very loudly half way through is just not that appealing!). It means doing anything for yourself is likely to be out of the question and has left me feeling slightly neglected: No time to exercise, grabbing a ready meal when you get a minute and growing steadily paler and paler. I jumped on the scales the other day to check how bad things have really got and nearly had a heart attack. So focused was I on the huge numbers which had appeared, that I failed to spot the little hands pressing down on the weighing plate just behind my feet! I forgot about my weight, because all of a sudden our little boy can crawl!!

Hmmm keeping him still to be fed is going to be even more interesting now!


photo upgrade


I’ve just looked at my blog and realised how awful the title images are at the moment – since I claim to have some photographic skills it seems wrong to allow this to be the case so I’m posting a few images in an attempt to improve matters! First up – my brother’s wedding, just for fun 🙂 

J&S-15


Time of your life


Having passed the four month baby stage I have to accept that I am no longer a new mum (even though I think it’s possible I’ll feel like that right up until the day he moves out!). It’s got me thinking about the completely upside down nature of time. I’ve been mulling it over in between the endless feeds, naps and baths and realizing just how much it’s all changed since baby K arrived. It’s only now that I am through those insane first few months that I can see what bizarre expansions and contractions of time have occurred.

For starters, people ask me how it’s been – an odd sort of question that comes up surprisingly often, I think they’re looking for a speedy summary of the past 4.5 months and I find I give a different answer every time I’m asked. But what it boils down to is this… it’s been the longest fours months of my life, and the shortest; so much has happened and nothing at all has happened.

It’s been so long that I can barely remember who I was before baby K arrived, and strangely I don’t really need to.

It’s been so fast that he’s already weaning and those days of painful breastfeeding and endless nights awake seem years ago.

It’s been full to the brim with mutual learning and growing and changing and shifting and smiles and tears and walks and occasional sleeps and newness and familiarity.

Yet nothing really significant has occurred. Only what every other mother and baby experience, I suppose. Except that words like ‘only’ or ‘just’ have no place here anymore. (I now realise ‘I’m just a mum’ is officially the most ridiculous phrase in the English language.)

When I tried to explain this mind bending duality of time to a friend and fellow mum she nodded sagely: ‘the days a long but the years are short,’ uttered the guru. It is so true. Not that I’m anywhere near even one year yet – wow that seems a long way off!

I watched some old family DVDs with my mother-in-law recently. They were of her and my husband when he was around 1 year old, growing up in Tanzania. I could see, as I listened to her telling me about the places and people depicted, that these scenes were fresh and vibrant in her memory – it was all so recent despite it being almost 40 years ago. It struck me that at that moment in her life there was no second child, no wife for her firstborn, and certainly no grandchild; in fact no expectation of all the life that was yet to come. And here I stand, in her shoes and the thought of watching iPhone videos with baby K’s wife 20 or 30 years in the future is just too hard to imagine.

Of course we strain to see the future throughout our lives, and motherhood only magnifies that as things change week to week. We constantly obsess over the next stage – weaning, walking, talking, school – worrying about who they’ll be and what they’ll do, and yet we desperately work to hold onto moments, like butterflies. The dichotomy of time again.

The other side effect is that, at this very focused time in my life, I have become aware of the status that time gives you. The mother of a 6 month old said recently ‘just wait ‘til he starts…’. And I found myself bowing to her superior experience. Six weeks ahead of me on this hectic journey is six weeks of seniority in every sense! It made me smile to myself – in no other job would a few weeks make such a difference!

For me, the time warp effect really began to kick in during the birth. It wasn’t until afterwards, when my husband and I were cozy in our little room with this new tiny person and day blending into night and back to day again that we began to talk about what had happened and how we both remembered the dramatic 30-odd hours of baby K’s arrival. My memory was all in snapshots – me leaning over a window sill and swearing loudly, me being moved in a wheelchair to a birthing room, me on all fours throwing up from the pain while several people watched me pant (no idea who most of them were and not a moment I’d care to repeat), more swearing, the running of the water for the water birth then a dramatic exit for an epidural and the realization and water birth wouldn’t be happening, more swearing, dozing as the anaesthetic relief finally hit, druids singing next door (was that real or an effect of the gas and air? Nope, it was real – that could only happen to me!), then more drama as the emergency c-section was suddenly mandatory, probably some more swearing, shaking as they administered more anaesthesia and then pressure on my belly and suddenly a cone-headed slightly squashed little guy appearing from the other side of the hanging blue sheet hiding all the gore. All those hours were reduced to a few moments.
For my husband, on the other hand, the hours had stretched out, yawning into the night – he was able to fill me in on all kinds of new and interesting details (apparently I had been swearing a lot more and a lot louder than I had originally thought!).

And then baby K came home and a minute of crying felt like a lifetime, whilst a two hour nap could pass in a flash. Sleep was a thing of the past. Now night hours yawned like chasms in between snatches of sleep, stretching out before me. But instead of this being the dreadful torture I had anticipated, these hours were actually filled with a new sort of magic – low light and the soft smell of baby, feathery hair tickling your cheek and the two of you feeling like the only people in the world. Perhaps I’m looking back on them with nostalgia even at this early stage – no doubt there were many where I was falling asleep as he fed, or begging him to stop crying, exhausted from rocking or singing the same song a hundred times. How funny that my rose tinted glasses are firmly in place already, particularly when anyone who knows me will recall my total lack of those magic specs as I prepared for the horrors of motherhood!

Another odd adjustment is that mums become experts at time projections: if he doesn’t sleep now I’ll need to move that feed and shift that appointment and get him to take a nap earlier this afternoon so that I can fit in the feed this evening and get him bathed by 6 etc etc. Every action has a knock on effect and impacts the little dude’s subsequent mood/capability to eat/night sleep etc – seriously, I can project the impact of one missed sleep somewhere into the middle of next week! It’s particularly true in the initial months when baby is feeding at least every 3 hours, suddenly your day is broken into 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 1am and 4am. There is no longer night and day, only three hour slots, and within each slot you will feed, play, change a nappy, possibly get him down for a nap and maybe have 5 minutes for yourself or get some sleep!

This journey is a long one. It’s the ride of your life. It destroys your life (or at least the one you had before the baby). But it is your life, and it’s incredible and humbling and empowering and exhausting!

And now here I am, baby asleep and a whole hour to myself. What am I doing? OK yes I’m being productive and writing my blog, but secretly I’m kinda hoping he’ll wake up and give me that big gummy smile. I’ve missed him!


Facebook Dysmorphia


This should really be called Facebook Like And Compare Identity Dysmorphia – or F.L.A.C.I.D. Yes, I think that works. It certainly sums up the miserable impotence of this phenomenon!

The problem is, just as alcoholism, violence or drugs in a parent often generates similarly damaged children, with the FLACID syndrome we find we are both impacted by others’ behaviour and succumb to it ourselves. And I have discovered that it can be most dangerous amongst new mums, though I think it works on everyone.

What am I talking about?… the smug-posts. The stunning pictures of people having an amazing happy time in their perfect lives. Lives that simply aren’t like mine! Lives that make me feel I must be getting it all wrong.

“Hooray little Joey slept through the night!” Whaaaat? How? Why? Why not me?

Scroll down to sunny shot of family with new baby on the beach – really? They survived the flight with a 3 month old? How did they afford that? Did she have a personal trainer to get her figure back that fast?!

Scroll down to people in bar clinking glasses and smiling in a selfie. Everyone else is out having fun and partying while I’m home being puked on! Great.

You get the idea. I’m not a jealous kind of person but you sure start to sound kinda green eyed. This doesn’t bring out the best in you, particularly when you’re sleep deprived and it’s 3am and you’re scrolling through Facebook as you feed your baby.

But… those Joneses must be kept up with it seems because what did I do when baby was born? Er announced it on Facebook with a super cute pic – obv! And could I resist posting a little shot of baby K on a plane to Rome? Nope!

The fact is, having lived all over the place it’s hard to keep up with all the people I’d like to and this provides a convenient catch-all, so news of the engagement, wedding, baby etc did sort of need to be shared. But I do admit I like the ‘likes’ and I love the comments and who doesn’t want everyone else’s approval? I used to love posting news of my latest safari adventures or updates on which article had just been published. These days I try a little harder to curb my content though.

The thing I’ve realised recently is that there is Facebook and then there is reality. No one is actually living the perfect existence they present on Facebook. I mean obviously I knew that, it’s just that it’s easy to buy into it all in moments of weakness. It was a friend’s little tale of strawberry picking mayhem that really brought it home to me though… She had posted a stunning sunny shot of her blonde boy reaching for a giant ripe ruby red strawberry and it honestly looked idyllic. But the truth behind the image? Well that same little angel got bored in ten minutes, had a tantrum whilst his baby sister pooed all over herself. Mummy marched them all back to the car only to realise she had dropped her keys somewhere in the enormous field of strawberries and also that she’d left her wallet at home and couldn’t pay for the few strawberries they had collected anyway! Now that sounds more like it!

Not too long ago I posted more of a ‘reality’ post that mentioned the misery of a walk I’d taken. While everyone else had been enjoying the sunshine, I had attempted to get my screaming baby and two wayward dogs out of the house. I had ended up with the aforementioned screaming baby mounted on my chest; dogs dragging me across a field; enormous stinky poos in mandatory poo bags (a metaphor for life in some sense – carrying ‘shit’ around with you really stinks up your day …or something!?); and to top it all off copious amounts of vomit down my front. I posted about my misery… and the response was overwhelming. 20 comments and countless likes! I rarely get that many responses to my entire blog write up! Perhaps everyone else is feeling the same, I realised. Not necessarily specifically about walking with dogs and a baby, but about the need to share some of life’s crap! I don’t mean ‘I baked a cake’ sort of crap, I mean the shared experiences or the gone-wrongs – the kind of stuff that provides material for the observational comics. Let’s face it human nature isn’t that nice – we can all get on board and be supportive when something is truly rubbish, but sharing in other people’s happiness is a whole heap more difficult.

On the other hand, writers [are supposed to] have a philosophy about this (I think partly because they’re known for suffering a spot of envy at others’ success!). The fact is that since no one else can write the way you can, have the ideas you have, combine words and sentences the way you would, you are completely unique. There are as many slots for success as there are great writers theoretically. Or at the very least one writer being published doesn’t make it one person less likely that you will be published. With this in mind it’s far better to be pleased for others, build networks of contacts and enjoy learning for each other. For some reason I have found this really easy to adopt and have enjoyed helping others and feeling ok about asking for help myself – spread the positivity. Right?

And there’s a second writing theory that applies here – or will once I’ve explained my thinking. You see a writer is generally attempting to reach a mass audience and in doing so automatically fails since no two people think or feel or experience the same things. The audience is made up of individuals each having their own day, week, life. So what can we do to draw them together? Find the commonalities. We all know what it’s like to have a terrible day, or to struggle with a new role, many of us know what it is to want to put our children on ebay (just momentarily of course!) – and strangely we remember the sting of these difficult moments far longer than the glow of the parts that are closer to the perfection we think we seek. These are the threads that hold us all together.

Yup. So now I think it’s time to apply these two theories to our Facebook lives… First to be more positive about celebrating others’ successes and second to throw in some reality checks! So this is my appeal – people post your happiness as much as you like, let’s spread it far and wide and share in each other’s fabulousness, but let’s include some reality posts too and have a good laugh sharing some of the really crappy things in life. Examples from the past week of my life would include having to leave a christening early because I was covered in milk; a bottle of fake tan exploding all over my [rented] bathroom – I mean ceiling to floor; and finally fitting into a pair of old favourite skinny jeans only to find I had a builders bum exposed for the entire day! Hope you’re all feeling better 🙂