Good enough!

I don’t think there is a profession in the world, where the ‘must do better’ culture does not exist.  Every person I speak to, regardless of position, profession, part time, full time – the factor that is in common between us all is – striving to be better all the time.

What’s wrong with that, you may ask?  Absolutely nothing at all.  Nothing! How does anything ever improve if people are always doing what they have always done, in the same way, never questioning, never analysing, never reflecting on how things are.   And it’s certainly the culture that I was brought up with, both at home and in the workplace – have goals, strive to do better, achieve more, smash targets etc.

The one area – that I feel, the ‘must do better’ culture isn’t helpful – is parenting.  In fact, I was fortunate to sit in on some training at school, about ‘Attachment Theory’, and the impact this has on children in the very first few months of their lives.  How babies are treated by their parents, at the very beginnings of their tiny lives, goes onto shape their behaviour and how they form relationships with others as they grow bigger.  It comes as no surprise, that the children who display a lot of ‘unlovable’ behaviour, need the most love, and the psychologist who was training us, explained that if you remember nothing else – ‘connection first, then correction’.  Which meant create a connection, a relationship with those children who present challenging behaviour first – then correct their behaviour.  For those of us who have been teaching for a long time, or have worked predominantly with children who can present quite challenging behaviour, this came as no surprise, although it was nice to have that soundbite to take away; ‘connection, then correction.’

What was particularly refreshing, and actually blew my mind a little, was when we were learning about attachment theory, and the significance of the first few months of a baby’s life, the psychologist called effective parenting, ‘good enough parenting’.  I was stunned when I heard it.  I repeated those words again and again in my mind.  Good enough parenting.  Good enough parenting.  Not good parenting.  Not great parenting.  Good enough.

This meant that as a parent, you were doing what you could to respond to the baby’s needs – be that milk or nappy change or sleep or comfort – you were trying to solve the problem.  You might not get it right every time, but at least you were trying.  You are being good enough.  You’re trying your best.  You are good enough.

In many professions – it’s not ok to be ‘good enough’.  You have to be the best!  That’s all I’ve heard since I was tiny – aim high, reach for the stars, be the best.  But the hardest job of all – parenting – it was so incredibly refreshing and calming to hear – if you’re doing your best to meet your child’s needs, even if you don’t get it right each time – you are good enough.  And you know what?  I’ll flipping well take that!  I’m happy to be good enough as a parent.

One of the things that causes me the most amount of concern, is am I giving my own children enough opportunities to do things out of school?  Do they go to enough clubs?  Are they getting enough exercise?  Are they learning enough instruments?  Do I need to teach them some languages?  Should they be going on more playdates?

After that training – I’m now thinking to myself – are they fed?  Do they have clothes to wear?  Are they getting to bed on time?  Are they reading and doing their school homework?  But most importantly – are they loved?  Are they loved? Are they loved?  I can categorically say, yes to all of those questions.

And I am happy to say, that I pronounce myself bloody well good enough!  All the other stuff – it doesn’t even matter.  If I want my children to remember two things about their children, it’s that they felt happy and extremely loved.

What more could anyone ask for?

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I’m fine!

Recently, there’s been a wedding in the family and it truly was a joyous occasion. I love weddings.  I love the optimism they bring.  The happiness in everyone’s eyes.  The good wishes that everyone automatically feels.   Two people – out of all the billions of humans on planet Earth – find each other – and decide that they don’t want to be with anyone else in the world – they have found the person that has inspired them to feel, ‘I don’t want to be with anyone else – I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’

For lots of women and some men, the most exciting part of the wedding is the glitz and the glamour, ‘What’s the bride going to wear?’ ‘What’s the venue like?’  ‘What are the wedding favours going to be?’ ‘Is the food any good?’

I’m not bothered by any of that.

My favourite part of every single wedding, that I’ve ever attended – are the speeches.  I remember the day that I got married, my brother’s best friend’s father came up to me and said, ‘Normally, I don’t enjoy weddings, but I loved the speeches that I’ve just heard.  They really helped me to get to know you better.’

I suppose it was after hearing that, I paid attention to speeches more at other people’s weddings.

One of the recurring themes that men often talk about, is how marriage is hard!  Oh cautionary tales of experienced men, talking about their wives, and explaining to the groom that they’ve got all this to look forward to!  Marriage isn’t easy.  Several times now I’ve heard men advise the poor, unsuspecting groom, that if a woman says she’s fine – she really isn’t and all hell is about to break loose.  This gets the same response each time, the knowing laughs from both sexes – everyone knowing that this is absolutely true.

Those of you who know me, know what I’m like – sometimes I hear things – and I start thinking.  I don’t find that advice funny anymore.  I actually don’t think it’s fair on men.  I used to do that a lot, at the beginning of my own marriage.  I’d be seething about something – my husband would ask me, ‘What’s the matter?’ and I would freeze him out, with a steely response of, ‘Nothing! I’m fine!’  And he wouldn’t know what had actually happened, why I was boiling up like an angry volcano…..but most importantly – he didn’t know how to fix things for me.  He didn’t know how to make the situation better.

Now, I’m making my husband sound like a saint, aren’t I?  I was the angry, ice-maiden wife, and he was the poor, innocent husband, just trying to make me feel better.  Well, neither of those caricatures are accurate.  If I was angry or hurt – there was a reason for it.  What would happen was, both he and I would have to wait until I could talk about things, and then the fallout would happen.  By this point, both of us were angry, both of us felt hurt, both of us felt like the other person didn’t understand us – and it would be really sad and unpleasant.

The thing to bear in mind though – is something that I referred to earlier, when you choose to marry someone, you have decided that you want to be with this person for the rest of your life – and the next – and the next – and the next….

So, even when we were furious with each other – that didn’t mean that we didn’t want things to work out.  We did.  These were teething issues.  Neither of us had ever lived with anyone before.  It’s actually a really big deal!  To go from having your own space, doing things in your own time, only having to think about yourself – to having to think about the other person and having to create a new routine, a new rhythm to which you both need to dance to.  Compromises have to be made.  Both of you – not just one.  Sometimes you don’t want to have to make those compromises – and then what happens?  Resentment builds.  Resentment turns to anger.  Anger makes you vicious.  Then?

We always remembered that we never ever wanted to be with anyone else.  We always remembered that we loved each other more than words could ever explain.  We always remembered that despite everything – we’d never met anyone else that made us feel as happy.

One day, I felt a bubble of anxiety about something brewing up in my chest.  I recognised it instantly.  I knew what was going to happen.  This bubble inside me, was going to grow larger and larger.  It was going to transform from a bubble and change into a rock.  This rock was going to grow heavy on my heart, and the more I thought about it, I would be feeding and it would grow and grow – my husband would ask me, ‘What’s wrong?’ and I would say, ‘Nothing!’ and the rock would become a boulder and increase in size until I couldn’t breathe or function anymore – and I would explode…

I recognised it.  And I did something revolutionary.

Before that bubble could grow and try to engulf me, I spoke to my husband about what was bothering me.  I was calm.  I was able to explain rationally what was wrong, how I was feeling and could he help?

I think that was the day that I became a true adult.  In fact, both of us did.

It was incredible to be able to talk about something that was bothering me, without that build up of resentment or anxiety or anger.  I just needed to talk through it when it was small.  Not allowing it to consume me.  And not having to pretend that nothing was wrong.  And my husband?  Well, he was able to help me feel better, or fix whatever was worrying me at the time…and you know what is so brilliant?  I don’t even remember what I was upset about!  I don’t even remember – because it wasn’t allowed to grow.

I was blessed.  My husband had asked me to do that so many times before.  He had asked me to speak to him as soon as I was feeling, whatever I was feeling, and then he could make things better.  I was fortunate that he meant what he said and kept his side of the bargain.

He was also blessed.  I stopped being that wife from everybody’s speeches.   I spoke to him when problems were small.  That way, nothing had to escalate, nothing had to become a drama, and now, whenever he asks me, ‘What’s the matter?’  I absolutely take the time to tell him.  Without anger directed at anyone.  So we have a peaceful life.

My message to brides – and women of all ages – you are allowed to not be fine!  When your husband or boyfriend or partner asks you, ‘What’s wrong?’ Do the guy a favour and tell him.  Tell him!  Learn to recognise triggers in your own body, when something is bothering you, how do you feel?  Speak to him before it grows bigger.  Speak to him without anger…And if he doesn’t listen, or tells you you’re irrational, or tells you that you’re just imagining things! Or responds to you with rolling eyes and sighs of, ‘Here we go again?’  You have to start thinking – is this person good for you?  Is he really the one for you?

And men – be patient with the one you love.  Women are trained to tell you that everything is fine, when you know and they know that nothing is ‘fine’.  Explain that you can take honesty – and you will listen and help when you can – and expect the same standard of behaviour in return!

Hopefully, if men and women work together – then we won’t need words of cautionary advice during wedding speeches, warning men of the complicated, double speaking beings that women are.  Instead – people can advise each other that marriage and relationships are not easy – but life is a lot easier if you tackle all your problems through talking about things when they are small.

And everyone?  Start teaching your children that they don’t need to bottle their feelings up.  They don’t need to ‘Keep calm and carry on!’ It is ok to be sad or angry or anxious or worried – let those emotions out of your body by talking about them and getting help.  It’s perfectly fine, to not be fine!

My best day ever.

Don’t kid yourself and don’t let anyone kid you either. Parenthood is one the hardest roles you’ll ever undertake in your life. Don’t be fooled by the images you see on social media. The cute chubby cheeks, the gorgeous outfits (matching, or not, depending on your preference), the delightful smiles, the massive hugs….they are a snapshot, I repeat, a momentary snapshot, a second of a sometimes relentless, gruelling 24 hours, where everyday feels like Groundhog Day. Wake, get the children sorted, get to work, come home, sort out the children, eventually they are in bed, go to sleep. Wake up. Repeat.

When they are tiny, your life revolves around feeding, nap times, nappy changes, feeding, nap times, nappy changes – and that’s it!! I was having a conversation with some Mum friends, and we were talking about how no one was honest enough at the time when our children were babies- that this was hard!!! We didn’t know each other at that time. But we all had our own stories of the some of the challenges we went through. A common running theme, our children thought that sleep was ‘optional’. Sleeping through the night was a non-event. And if you were type of person that needed sleep….it was physically and mentally torturous.

I remember cutting myself off people who’s children slept. I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to hear how their child slept through the night at the age of 6 weeks, had no trouble teething, how they had no trouble breast feeding….

For my own sanity- I had to cut those lucky, smug, mothers out of my life.

The struggle was real.

But I had snapshots too – of incredible joy, the cuddles, the first words, the way their eyes would light up when they saw me…yes, those moments carry you through the times that were ‘a challenge’.

Yesterday though, I had a day that was heavenly. A day straight from a Disney film, where I was Julie Andrews, the idyllic mum, and the girls were the idyllic children. Bluebirds were singing when I walked and the only thing that the girls didn’t do was refer to me as ‘Mother’.

I was not a referee or a barrister trying to solve disputes, ‘Milud, I do believe your sister had that toy first, so you shouldn’t have grabbed it from her.’ I was not a detective trying to solve crimes of – who left this mess? Where has such and such gone? Simultaneously being good cop and bad cop. I wasn’t telling anyone to stop moaning or whining because that’s just the way things were.

It was absolutely ‘the best day ever’! We went to the supermarket and the girls helped me to scan and put all the shopping away. We came home, had lunch and read books together. Actually listening, no one arguing about who will read first, who will sit next to Mummy, who can’t see the pictures properly – none of that. I then made dinner, then after that we played Ludo, snakes and ladders and then a game of junior bingo. We laughed, no one cried because they lost, no one accused anyone of cheating, no one was grumpy.

It was the best day ever.

Why am I blogging about it? Because my eldest is 7 and a half – and this has never happened!!!! There has never been a day, where at some point during the day, I haven’t lost my ….. (you can decide what should go in the gap yourself).

For the first time in my life, I was a smug mother. All I needed was a quaint apron and I then I would have looked the part of ‘perfect mother’. When the girls went to bed – without arguing might I add!!!!!! Accepting it was bedtime and that they were tired, might I add!!!! I called my Mum to share my news with her – Mum, you’ll never guess what????? She was suitably indulgent of me as well, knowing what a miracle it was.

Today I woke up warily, assuming that we’re going back to business as normal – that’s ok though. I’ll have had yesterday. In my memories, I’ll have yesterday to fall back on. And that’s what matters.

Anybody who can relate to me a tiny little bit, your day will come too. Hang in there. Each day is a challenge, I know, and then one day you will have a day where you think you’re in a dream.

Seems so silly to write about something that must seem like such a non-event to lots of you. But for me, yesterday, was definitely, my best day ever.

Time to live

It is the first day of my summer holidays, and I’m delighted.  I had a lie-in. Woke up feeling relaxed.  It was finally here.  The day that I’d been waiting for, for weeks on end.  The hallowed first day of the summer holidays.

My husband has known me for over 10 years now, and he knows things about me, that I forget about myself.  How I need to drink water after a shower because I get dehydrated; when I’m feeling tense or drained, I need to get to the gym because the weights and the cardio make me feel a thousand times better……and he also knows how difficult I find the last day of the school year – even though my body may have been crying out for it for weeks…

I have just finished working with the most amazing group of children, (every year I feel like this about my class), and this year it’s such a wrench saying goodbye to them all over again.  The amount of love I’ve received from these children has been phenomenal, and I’ve absolutely adored them.  Everyday this week, I’ve come home, my arms laden with gifts and cards – some handmade, some bought – all equally precious, thanking me for what I have done for them. And I’ve been immensely grateful, some of the unexpected messages have touched my heart, and I’ve found it difficult to switch off.

Thinking about a group of children everyday, thinking about what they need – teaching isn’t just teaching – you’re counselling; you’re nursing; you’re caring about their aches, pains, cuts, dry skin, fall-outs with friends; home-life issues; sharing stories; knowing when to be sympathetic; knowing when to be humorous; knowing when they’re hungry or tired or grumpy or just too plain-old-hot.

So, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed everyday.  Giving myself pep-talks – come on, you can do this!  Three more get-ups; two more get-ups; one more get-up; final day.  And then I come home.  Drained.  Physically and emotionally.  And I realise that I won’t have to care for that set of children everyday anymore.  And it hits me – like a lead balloon – every year, without fail – and like a fool, I never see it coming.  I’ve been so preoccupied with my own tiredness and needing to get to the finishing line – I forget how sad I get when I come home, knowing that ‘that’s that’, for another year.

But it’s not just incredible, loving children that I’ve met this year.  I’ve encountered some phenomenal adults too.  Once in a while, you meet people who are absolute beacons of strength and positivity.  People who have suffered loss or illness in their lives, have had to make life changes, and haven’t let life beat them, get the better of them – instead they walk around, head held high, as an inspiration to others.

One person I met recently, was really successful in her job, running half marathons, working hard, playing hard, never resting – then her world came crashing down as she developed ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’.  From being a hyper, energetic, high performing individual – she described the pain she felt when she couldn’t even put one foot in front of another to walk.  In order to recuperate, she had to make substantial life choices – give up the job that she was doing, concentrate on healing her body and getting back to a position where she could function again.  She’s in a much better place now, but as it’s a condition that will never go away, she has to be careful not to overdo things, to know her limits, slow down before things spiral downwards for her.  Whenever she sees me though, she’s always greeting me with a massive hug and a kiss, making sure that I’m ok, telling me not to work too hard – and I feel humbled.

And then I met another incredible, phenomenal woman.  I only spoke with her for 7 minutes.  But I don’t think that i will ever forget her.

My friend introduced me to her, and explained that she wasn’t well.  I felt confused.  In front of me sat a petite woman, I guessed in her 40’s, with glowing mocha coloured skin, shiny black hair cut into a bob, sitting quietly and still – just an immense sense of stillness about her.  She opened her mouth and in a very matter of fact way explained that she was living with cancer.  Bewildered, I didn’t know what to say, but the fact that she was so open, made me feel that she wouldn’t mind if I asked her questions.  I was right, she didn’t mind.  She explained that she had breast cancer, but the doctors were not able to operate because the cancer had spread to her spine and ribs.  The doctors were incredible with their treatments, and she had carried out a lot of research to support their treatments with a massive lifestyle change and using alternative remedies too.  She explained how cancer thrived and was most comfortable in bodies with a lot of acid.  The acid was in processed foods and food that contained a lot of pesticides and growth hormones.  She was having a mainly vegan diet and only bought organic food to reduce the amount of acid in her body and make the conditions in her body, more alkaline based.

I asked if stress caused more acid in the body, she replied most definitely.  It’s so important to eat well and avoid stress as that helps your body so much.

If it was up to me, I would have carried on talking to her for as long as I could. But I had to leave.  But she and her words stayed with me.

Both women made me think that we – everyone – we have to slow down.  We must slow down.  We are a world of people pursuing money; having the nicest houses; having the nicest cars; having the best holidays; leading the high life – but does any of that matter if you don’t have your health?  Mental health?  Physical health?

I, for one, am going to slow down.  Love life.  Love people.  Not stress.  Not worry.  Eat well.  Be happy.

Life is too short, and on the flip of a coin, circumstances can change within a heartbeat.  So I will avoid those who enjoy drama, those who enjoy competition, those who revel in the misery of others, those who are there to make life harder for others.  And I pray that I meet more people, who inspire me, who remind me of what life is really about – people who make the world a much better place.

Must do better!

It’s report writing season for teachers at the moment.  A time where you dedicate hours and hours writing about the children that have become members of your family and have taken over your entire life.  I used to love writing the personal statements.  I loved writing about each and every child in my class, thinking about their little quirks, their achievements and how I wished them so very well for the next year.

Reports were not always like that though.  Particularly at secondary school.  Some of you may remember when you were graded either by a number or letter in each subjects, and the teacher would simply write a word or phrase next to each subject. ‘Excellent’; ‘Satisfactory’; ‘Good’…or ‘Must do better!’  It was ok though.  The grades and simple words or phrases told you all you needed to know.  Not like the epic writings of Tolstoy that the modern reports are.  In the old reports, everyone knew where they stood.

I’ve been thinking lots this morning though – why is it that only teachers are held accountable about the children that they teach?  Why are parents never accountable?  Why aren’t parents invited to termly reviews to assess how this parenting lark is going?  I am a parent myself – and just to put my hands up in advance, I absolutely hate the idea of this suggestion – but actually – would it make me think about how I parent my children more carefully?

I have two daughters, and as soon as they were born, a part of my brain also changed and an area called ‘FEAR’, grew to at least ten times its normal size.  Being a female, I’ve always been trained to be alert, fearful and slightly mistrusting – especially of men.  Hence, I never walk with headphones or earbuds in my ears; if I can, I avoid subways, short cuts, alleyways; I park in well-lit, busier areas.  I am so paranoid, I will never park next to a van if I can help it…just in case.

When my daughters were born, this necessity to protect and keep them safe became more important than protecting myself.  This is why I haven’t signed them up to dance or gymnastic classes – even though I know they would love that.  Instead, they do Martial Arts – which thank heavens they love too.  I want them to be tough, confident and assertive.

If I went to a parent review, I’d be talking about how I try to empower the girls by not only being proud of being strong, smart females, but also being proud of their Indian heritage.  So I read stories from India to them, and they delight in the rich mythology, the wisdom, the spirituality, the mysticism that these tales have to offer.

I’d bloody well expect at least a ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ grading.

But I’m a mother of girls.  And I want them to fiercely independent, strong, powerful women of the future.

On the flipside – what about men?

A friend of mine was telling about how her boyfriend dumped her because she insulted him and made him feel emasculated.  How has she insulted him and made him feel like less of a man?  She told his son to put his dishes in the kitchen when he had finished eating.  What???  There were other equally ridiculous examples of ‘insulting’ actions she had taken – which in the regular world, no one would bat an eyelid at.  But when your mother has brought you up as a prince, I suppose it would seem demeaning to do what is expected from others.

At the moment, in England, there is a huge uproar because there was a vote in the House of Commons about making the act of ‘upskirting’ (for those of you who don’t know, it’s taking pictures of someone’s underwear/genitals, without their knowledge/consent), illegal.  A no brainer right?  Surely every decent human being on this planet would find this act abhorrent?  Yes?  But one man objected and voted no.  So the process of making ‘upskirting’ illegal has been delayed.   I will tell you that upskirting is illegal in Scotland.  Huge round of applause for Scotland.  But let’s not forget – MEN wear kilts in Scotland….

This week in Australia, a young female comedian was found dead in the night.  This prompted the police to remind women of keeping safe!  The anger and rage that this statement produced was incredible.  Why does no one ever remind murderers and rapist men to behave?  Why is the onus always on the women?

I read somewhere about a curfew to keep women and girls safe, was presented to Golda Meir, first female Israeli Prime Minister.  She thought it was a great idea to place a curfew on men in order to keep women and girls safe at night.  Needless to say, that curfew idea was dropped faster than a hot potato baked in the ovens of hell.

The baton is always passed back to women.  Keep yourselves safe.  Don’t wear provocative clothes.  Be careful of how you sit.  Make sure you do this, this, that and the other….Where are the rules for men?  Where are the sanctions for men?

I have seen so many women and men, in so many cultures around the world, celebrate the birth of sons, with more pomp and ceremony than is ever given to the birth of a daughter.  How the mother of sons’ status is regarded higher than the mother of daughters.  Well then these parents have to be accountable, and society has to be accountable for the actions of these sons.  If I was to hold a review for the parents of sons, I would ask – does your son put his, and everybody else’s dishes away after eating?  Does he make his own bed?  Does he know how to cook?  Can he do the laundry?  Does he show respect to women that are not related to him?

No??? Then you all MUST DO BETTER!

I, and mothers like me will continue to bring up strong, powerful daughters who will rule this world.  Parents of sons need to question how they are bringing up their sons – if he’s a delicate prince, he’s no good to man nor beast.  We as a society need to think about how sons are brought up – the message that I leave you with, is that we must do better!!!!

Whatta you talkin’ about?

So, after I published my first blog, finally (and tentatively) I sent it to my mum to read.

“Blog?” she asked bemused, ‘What’s that?” Anyway, after my brief explanation and reasons for choosing to do it, she read it and said “It’s very nice.” Now believe it or not, that’s high praise indeed from my mum, so I was delighted.

After I’d written my last blog, there were a couple of themes running through the messages that I’d received from people:

a) I didn’t know you’d been through all that!

b) Parts of what has happened to you, has happened to me too.

Both things made me realise something – you may ‘know’ many people, but how many people really ‘know’ you?  After publishing the post and reading what people had written, texted or said, I turned into a gibbering wreck – crying at the drop of a hat.  Finally, it was my husband that made me sob uncontrollably for a full ten minutes, (or thereabouts – I wasn’t timing myself!!) How? Well, it was through something that gets me every time – kindness.  I was feeling emotional anyway, we were watching a light-hearted film to lift the mood, then he held my hand and said, “You know something? You’re amazing! You don’t believe it, but you are.”

Well that was it…  Sometimes when I watch my daughters cry if they’ve been hurt, there’s something so wonderfully honest and free about it.  They don’t care about the noise they make, about how their faces change, how loud their crying is, that they’re creating a ‘scene’ – it’s a good, honest, loud, cathartic release of emotion.  Within seconds they feel better.  That’s probably how children ‘bounce back’ from things so quickly. As we grow up – well that’s just not done is it? We have to practise gentle, dignified crying if we allow ourselves to even do it.  Silent tears are great. Pretty crying – essential.  And men, if you cry – well who’s ever heard of real men crying anyway??!!!!

Anyway, last night for ten minutes-ish I cried like a baby.  Loud, undignified, blotchy, noisy, messy, nose blocking, shuddering, shaking, therapeutic, child crying. Best feeling ever (afterwards), because I felt better again.

And then I started thinking about what on earth had he said that triggered that dramatic reaction anyway?  Yes, partly it was the kind compliment – but the biggest thing that affected me was, ‘You don’t believe it, but you are.’  And that was it – how many people actually believe, accept and absorb the compliments that are given to them?  I remember being in my twenties and still not knowing how to accept compliments, eventually after a conversation with a colleague, she said “You just say ‘thank you’, it doesn’t make the giver of the compliment feel like such an idiot then!”  So obvious!

So I’ve finally got to it – self-talk.  The internal dialogue that happens within you.  What you tell yourself.  There’s no way that I can talk about this like an expert – in fact some of you, are way more qualified to talk about this than me.  But what I do want to say that even at my age, I have to practise thinking positive thoughts, and saying positive thoughts internally.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  I’m much more inclined to think – I’m not good enough.  So I practise.  I practise thinking good things about myself.  I say good things to others – if I see something good about someone else, I’ll tell them.  I’m lucky enough to work with children and I make sure that I praise them to the skies as often as I can.

My father-in-law often puts his hand on my head and says ‘Be happy!’  I didn’t get it at first – but I’ve realised that you have to practise being happy.  You have to practise positive self-talk. You have to cut out any toxicity in your life and only surround yourself with good people, that lift you up, that believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.  AND PRACTISE BELIEVING IN YOURSELF!!!!!

And every once in a while – cry like a child – cry like you did when you were tiny.  Make an absolute spectacle of yourself.  You won’t regret it.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with two messages that I have in my kitchen, one that I bought and one that a dear friend gave me…both are reminders…