That Creeping Feeling of Self doubt


From a childhoods innocent perspective, adulthood appeared so much simpler and free from worries or fears. The reality is so much more complex, as we become entangled in a web of responsibilities, expectations and worries.

Forging your own path, stepping into the unknown is not only daunting, but sometimes full-on terrifying! Change is inevitable, but even when it’s a choice it can introduce a pile of doubts and fears.

I’m embarking on a new adventure, which is very exciting, but equally scary. I will be right out of my comfort zone, pulling on skills that haven’t been utilised for years, dusting off the old brain cells and creaking those neurons back into life. I am so, so lucky that I even get the opportunity to do this, in a country that supports progression and education, with a family that is more than happy to support my dreams and goals. So what’s the problem???

Out there, lurking in the dark corners of my grey matter, is the big fat fear of FAILURE…with all its associated demons of self doubt. What if I don’t know any of the answers? What if everyone finds out I have no idea what I’m doing? What if my brain just does not have the capacity to work at the required level to succeed? (The list goes on…!).

Serendipitously, I have come across some podcasts this week covering just that subject…self-doubt, and the great news is that everyone faces it, unless they are a psychopath (excellent! I can cross that one off the list!). I would definitely recommend a listen, there are some great gems of wisdom contained within.

We’re all so individual that listening to the same words will bring out different things for everyone. The things that stood out to me, offering both comfort and a call to action, were the following:

  • Everyone experiences self-doubt – so in that sense it’s very normal.
  • It’s worth finding the root cause of self doubt and targeting that area.
  • How we speak to ourselves is hugely important – instead of focusing on what we can’t do, we could turn this around and tell ourselves about what we have done well…in essence be kinder to ourselves.
  • Self doubt will always be around, but it needs to be kept in its proper place.
  • Self belief needs to be the driving force to achieve hopes and dreams and combat fear.
  • Self doubt can be a good thing, as it makes us evaluate choices and weigh up their value and worth.
  • Don’t give voice to the demons…or fear of what others may think, because 1. we never actually know what other people are thinking and 2. Those that care about you most usually have your back.

So my plan is to put this into practice, alongside lots of deep breaths (without inducing an attack of fainting) and the mantra FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning (thank you Radio 2 for that beauty!).

Podcasts: Hashtag Authentic with Sara Tasker & Sas Petherick

Courage & Spice with Sas Petherick

 

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A Sewing Adventure Lived and Learned

I have all these plans and goals in my head of all the things I would like to do in life…I don’t know when the ideas first emerged or sometimes even what inspired them, but they’re there and won’t be ignored! Initially I don’t want to ignore them, but when I get started with them and it doesn’t seem to be panning out quite how I imagined I ask myself ‘why did I think this was a good idea?’.

One of these ideas, which planted itself in my head in a time long forgotten, was to make a baptism dress for each of my children. Reflecting on it now, I obviously didn’t entertain the possibility of not having any girls therefore negating the need for a dress. So 2 years ago, that is what I did for my eldest, with the help of friends and family. It was difficult and I learnt a lot, but I didn’t remember it being too traumatic so 2 years on I begin the task again. Having not made anything since the last time, I had forgotten pretty much everything I’d learnt the last time around…but feeling confident and armed with material, a dress pattern and YouTube, I thought it wouldn’t be too taxing..all I needed was plenty of time. I definitely remember staying up late with my mother-in-law finishing off the dress from 2 years ago and didn’t want to repeat those feelings of ‘will I ever get this done?’

Cutting out the pattern and material all went ok, starting the bodice and lining…still ok, understitching..fiddly but ok, sleeves..a bit of adjusting around the limitation of the sewing machine..not too bad. Attaching the sleeves…uh-oh! Totally followed the wrong steps in the pattern, hours of unpicking and restarting. The race against time begins, lots of silly mistakes with the phrase my nan used to say spinning around my head ‘more haste, less speed’, which rang very true! With little more than an hour to spare before the dress actually needed to be put into use, the last stitch goes in…didn’t quite learn the getting it done in good time lesson this time around.

I made a ton of mistakes whilst making this dress, and it definitely isn’t perfect. But even when I look at it now, with all it’s little (or not so little) flaws, I’m amazed that I did it and it doesn’t look half bad.

My top tips (for myself ready for next time, or anyone embarking on a sewing adventure):

  • Allow a lot more time to complete your project than you think e.g. double or triple it!
  • Read the pattern very, very carefully!
  • If using YouTube, watch at least 3 video clips on a particular skill/element of sewing, as they can vary quite a lot. Choose the one that you feel most able to replicate, or that shares a common theme with other clips (some video clips are not the correct method of doing that skill).
  • Expect to make mistakes…it’s inevitable and completely normal…that’s what the unpicking tool is for!
  • Don’t rush, this is when the mistakes happen (refer to point 1).
  • Enjoy the experience…may as well – it could be a long one!
  • Bask in the glory of your achievements, if even for a moment.

Going off on an interesting tangent from this adventure in sewing, to the relationship we have with clothes, the love of an item of clothing despite its flaws, embracing the memories associated with it….have a listen to this interview, I found it fascinating!!

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August Highlights


August ended with an amazing Bank Holiday sizzler, as despite all the odds, the sun actually appeared and shone gloriously as we possibly beat our record by having 3 BBQs in a row! I feel decidedly unprepared for September this year, so I’m still in shock that August has actually passed me by. However, we managed to squeeze a lot in…some of the highlights include:

  • We kicked off the month with a fun-filled, family camping trip to Wales.
  • Two birthday celebrations, a day apart (didn’t plan that well ha ha!).
  • Lots of walk in the countryside, trips to national trust properties, family days out and BBQs!
  • I read 2 books! Together by Julie Cohen, which has a great twist at the end! And The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce – one of my favourite writers…it has given me the desire to buy a retro record player now though!?
  • I really enjoyed listening to Robert Webb’s ‘How not to be a boy’ on book of the week on Radio 4.
  • In an effort to get some kind of exercise into my life, I have been doing Adrienne’s 30 days of Yoga. I haven’t managed it everyday, but I always feel great when I do.
  • With a glut of plums from the tree in the garden, I made some plum chutney ready for Christmas from The Modern Preserver I didn’t realise it would stain my finger nails a rusty brown colour for days, so hoping the delicious taste in a few months will be worth it.

Now we move onto cooler, shorter days the slow cooker will make an appearance for warming stews and soups ready for more hibernation indoors.

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Books are more than just words on a page

Moonface, The Saucepan Man and Silky the Fairy were favourite characters of mine from the books my mum read to me as a child. Alongside listening to the stories of Roald Dahl and tales of the Hobbit. I loved being whisked away onto faraway lands and fantastical adventures, which kept that childhood belief in magic alive.

I still get a glimpse of that magical feeling whilst reading children’s books, both old and new. Trips to the library provide a wealth of choice to delve into any number of imagined worlds. I feel lucky that my youngest still enjoys sitting by me and listening to book after book, and sometimes the other two sneakily, with half an ear, have a little listen in.

Some months ago, I went onto a training course as part of my job to learn about the hows, whys and wherefores to extend children’s working vocabulary and how this in turn informs their writing. Even though children may be fluent readers, they may not be interacting with the text and engaging with the story, or even grasp what is actually happening in the story. It was fascinating to learn a variety of techniques to deepen and extend children’s understanding and experience of the stories they read or that are read to them, some of these skills are easily transferable to use at home when reading with children…and they probably won’t even notice if you sneak in a few questions. Open questions are an excellent way to elicit thoughts and feelings about the story they are reading, for example, how do you think this character is feeling? Why do you think that? Tell me what you thought about ‘the trolls who lived under the bridge’, what came into your mind when the three bears arrived home?

Something I had never thought much about, which made a huge impact on me, was the relationship between the story and the illustrations. Previously, I had just taken them for granted, viewing them as a pretty accessory to the words on the page. I was given a whole new insight into how they reinforce or add meaning to the messages being communicated through the story. There are many talented and amazing illustrators for children’s literature, and now that I have woken up and taken notice, I can see how they are also creating a story of their own. Observing the expressions of the characters in a story, how the pictures are laid out, the colours or scenery they use, the atmosphere that has been created through choice of season, objects or environment all add to the messages and themes surrounding the printed words on the page. These are some books that I chose after attending the course, that have both a thought provoking story alongside illustrations that further spark the imagination:


Books can also inspire real life! We recently borrowed this book from the library and it inspired D and I to play the squiggles game, where one of you draws a shape or squiggle and the other person then transforms it into a picture. We ended up with lots of surprises and giggles…D tried to guess what I was going to draw before I even started (so of course I had to come up with something else to surprise her!). Do you have any books that really capture you and your childrens’ imagination?

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Are you a collector?

A constant battle in our home is the accumulation of ‘stuff’. I am the big bad wolf when it comes to keeping things, and if something gets thrown out everyone knows it was me! After moving house many times over the past 10 or so years, life and its associated belongings get considerably pared down. Funnily enough, I find it really difficult to eliminate the unnecessary and sometimes experience little pangs of guilt, fear or nostalgia after giving items away…worrying that I have let go of something with true emotional significance. I don’t think I ever have…possibly my children would disagree. I’m giving an impression that we live a streamlined, minimalistic existence..not so! Despite my continued efforts there’s still plenty of ‘stuff’/ treasured possessions everywhere.

Recently, we had a beautiful day out at Snowshill Manor, a stunning National Trust property. There is always a fantastic history around each of the National Trust properties, and this one didn’t disappoint! Although it may have unconsciously fuelled their desire to collect even more things!?

The most recent owner, Charles Paget Wade, an avid collector from age 7 amassed over 22,000 objects linked by their distinct craftsmanship. He became so well known for his collections, that people travelled to him from far and wide to sell him their wares. He was so dedicated to his collections, that they took up main residence in his house, whilst he resided in a small cottage in the garden. When guests came to visit he would entertain them in the main house and show them around his collections throughout the main house.

So why do we collect things? There are many theories behind this…an obsession with a particular range of items, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of value through owning things, or because they are connected to someone or something famous which we admire. Whilst growing up, I had my own collection of thimbles. I would buy one from places I visited or people would buy them as a gift from places they had visited. Some were intricate or individual in design and some were just a reminder of places I had been (I actually still have them in a shoe box somewhere, one of the things that has stayed with me on all our travels). I don’t collect them anymore, but for me it was definitely a way to feel connected to the places and memories and I had made on trips and holidays. Now my collection is a collection of memories through photographs and mini films, as I try to hold onto the ever fleeting moments of my children as they grow. Luckily, reminiscing is a favourite past time of theirs. I often hear them saying ‘do you remember when…?’. They already have a treasured set of memories that they enjoy replaying and sharing as the adventures they have experienced so far, with many more to come in the future!

 

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An Ode to an Awesome Man

Sometimes a moment hits where I get a clear view of just how good I’ve got it! We all take the good people in our lives for granted and so here is my ode to the wonderful man I am lucky enough to be married to!

  1. He always has time to make things fun and make the children giggle, with cheesy jokes and cheeky comments.

2. He lets the children be just as cheeky back!

3. He never complains even though he suffers a lot with pain and headaches.

4. He is very kind and patient with all of us…a house full of females can sometimes be a challenge (I know because I’m one of them!?)

5. Gives lots of cuddles.

6. Listens to the woes of both wife and children and provides a new perspective.

7. Always happy to go on family days out, walks etc and let me constantly take photos without complaint.

8. Happy to help, even after a hectic day at work…some direction may be needed 😉

9. Likes to share funny pictures, jokes, videos to bring a smile to everyone’s day.

10. Loves being tickled (ok maybe not…but we still do it anyway!?)

11. Gives wonderful foot massages…even though he doesn’t get any in return (yuk! Can’t touch other people’s feet!)

12. Watches tv programs that he doesn’t really enjoy, just to keep me company (and can’t even see the screen at the moment)

Just a few things to be grateful for…can you think of someone that’s awesome too? Maybe you could share your thoughts with them 🙂

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Are Boys Better Than Girls Or Vice Versa?

My children are always talking about who is the best, who came first, who is the winner. I think this is a pretty common rhetoric for children…although maybe we don’t shed these thoughts and ideas as adults, even if we don’t vocalise the actual words. I certainly want my children to feel that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to, that the world is open to them with whichever opportunities that they would like to grasp, even if they don’t come out as the ‘best’ or the ‘winner’. I want this to be a reality for them, but how true is it that they can realise their dreams in the modern day culture we live within? By that I mean, the expectations, pressures, unspoken and subconscious messages that are constantly floating around them and leaking drip, drip, drip into their minds. I try to be conscious how I communicate with my children (all girls) about their capabilities and aspirations, however, I possibly don’t spend enough time monitoring the variety of messages they assimilate through the media they are exposed to.

I watched the first part of a BBC documentary this week, No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? I would definitely recommend it as a very insightful watch. The gist of the program is that their is nothing preventing girls and boys, both in their physical and brain development, from achieving the same degree of success…but are the messages that are subtly fed in from our culture and surroundings, preventing this from being a reality. There are some strong arguments put forward that support the view that, although current government legislation provides the framework for equality amongst men and women, the underlying culture has not changed to the degree necessary to literally make this apparent in the lives of the upcoming generations.

Whilst working in education, I have come across stereotyping for both boys and girls on multiple occasions, especially within the primary sector when the thoughts and ideals of children are being developed and formed to shape their perception of the world. Real change will happen when everyone gets on board with the idea that how we communicate with children in relation to their gender has real impact and power, and should not be used as a limiting factor in a world of opportunity.

A take away for me from the thoughts and ideas presented, is to evaluate the media…television, books etc, that my children watch and to take an active role in the concepts they absorb from these. My children love reading, so this offers an opening to input positive role models and characteristics through literature. A few months ago I bought this book which they all loved reading, but what really surprised me was that a long time after reading it they brought up the characters and their achievements during a casual conversation…all of these messages do sink in. Some other books I have my eye on for the future include this series , this one and this one.

 

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July highlights

A little bit late….the summer holidays don’t seem to have slowed the pace of life yet. Lots of exciting things happened throughout July, I’m always surprised by how many things get packed into our little lives.

  • We had some beautiful sunshine throughout July (which has rudely disappeared for the summer holidays!?), which has been great for being out in the garden, school sports day and lots of BBQs. 
  • The two oldest children took part in the school production at the end of the academic year and really gave it their all in both acting and singing. We also had a treat seeing the youngest two performing their ballet during their last class before the holidays.
  • M kicked off the summer birthdays, with much hilarity during her party where we played some good old fashioned party games, including the cereal box game, after eight game, flour game and a treasure hunt.​
  • I tried out some delicious new recipes, one using aubergines (the yummiest dish using aubergines that I’ve ever made) and some scrumptious mexican rice
  • I really enjoyed reading The Muse by Jessie Burton. I have previously read her first novel, The Miniaturist, a few years ago. It was a gripping plot and I was really drawn into it through her eloquent writing style.
  • An ongoing issue that keeps popping up in the news….something I can never fathom, the justification behind a gender pay gap even being existence.
  • We took advantage of a beautiful, sunny day to visit Blaise Castle and the Toy Museum there, for the first time. The grounds are expansive, with woodland, streams and plenty of open space to set up cricket and football matches. 
  • And of course, a family camping trip to Wales!
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X Marks the Spot


I was a little worried when Ben came back from his pre-op tests that the incision might actually be where the X was! Thankfully his forehead is still in tact!

The last few weeks, and those to come, have been a bit challenging due to health challenges; but number 1, it has made me realise how much I have to be thankful for: a loving family and friends – who have offered support and help, an amazing NHS service, apart from some blips – good health, sick pay – so Ben and I can take time to recover and of course Tesco home delivery!

The children have had to become a lot more hands on with jobs around the house; yesterday E said, whilst helming to prepare dinner, ‘this is really good as we’re learning about what it’s like to be a mummy’, which then later developed when asked to help clear the table ‘what!? I helped make dinner! I’m not having kids if you have to do all of this work!’……maybe some gratitude there on a different level? Meanwhile D has taken great delight in teasing Ben whilst he can’t see, her favourite past time!

My top takeaway tip from this week….put eye drops in eyes before the codeine kicks in, to avoid rolling around in fits of laughter (who knew eye drops could be so fun!).

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The Fine Art of Complaining 


The last few months have been very challenging at work. I took the job as it was a walk in, walk out type of job which incurred no childcare costs; a contrast to my previous teaching jobs which take up a lot of time and mind space outside of official working hours.

Although the work isn’t particularly challenging, the perks outweighed the negatives. But life can quickly spin around and suddenly the opposite was true.

I never really embraced change very well as a child and teenager, but through a variety of experiences it has become easier. Of course, I’m quite happy to grasp change when it brings all of the good things in life; I’m not so keen on the challenging, hard and unpleasant stuff. But here it all is in front of me, and honestly, it’s been really, really difficult.

My lovely friends and family have endured much venting and complaining and moaning, with A LOT of patience! Did it make it better? Possibly initially, but then I noticed it was just sending me spiralling downwards into the land of misery.

Serendipitously, I stumbled across an article in the beautiful Flow magazine entitled ‘The day I quit complaining ‘. Maybe this could shed some light into a way out of my negative funk?

It’s always good to discover that there’s other people all over the world who struggle with the same kinds of emotions. It was uplifting to read about different perspectives on how to deal with my current mindset. The top tips I took from the article were:

  • Be honest about your emotions and express them (this is not the same as complaining).
  • Rather than getting sucked into the emotion, try to focus on something else e.g. breathing/change perspective.
  • Think about what you need, what is at the root of the complaint?
  • You have a choice, you can DO something about your situation.
  • Focus on all that is good in your life.

I have felt a huge impact by talking through emotions, but not allowing that to lead to a mass of complaining. Changing my focus to other things that I enjoy in my life and shifting my perspective to the bigger picture. It’s baby steps, but if nothing else, I’ve learnt some more effective ways to deal with the bumps in the road and that can only be a positive thing right?

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