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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A ghost in my heart

Last night Sprout wouldn't go to bed. We ran through the usual list, a glass of water, an extra cuddle, a bit more chatting, a promise to come back in ten minutes. Eventually winding up at the usual place - a firm no. You must stay in bed, because it's late, end of story.

The whole routine is exhausting. For him and also for me. It's a repetative push-me-pull-me affair. In the closing scene I usually sit on the top step on the landing and wait it out, while he sits in bed and waits it out. When the soft sounds of him snoring arrive, I sneak in for a last goodnight kiss then get on with my evening routine.

But last night he crept out one more time, to tell me that a ghost was inside his heart. A ghost that kept knocking on it, making him feel sad, dissapointed, angry and alone.

Oosh. It was one of those moments I don't know what to do with, because instantly the ghost was inside my heart too - making me feel sad, disappointed, angry and alone with all the worry and work of parenting to do by myself. So we just sat there on the stair together in silence for a little bit, having a contemplative cuddle.

I had written on my hand earlier in the day, 'respond, don't react'. (Every now and then I need a little more than just a mantra, so I actually carry around the words I need written on me in plain sight.) With another tight cuddle, I squeezed that ghost right out of my little Sprout and told him it's ok, give me the ghost. He can live with me instead.

There will always be moments that slay you as a parent, they come out of nowhere, then just as fast they are gone. Some are happy and joyful, some are shocking. Some are so unbearably sad you can't possibly prepare yourself. Letting these moments go as easily and smoothly as they arrive is a skill I'm still mastering, but it's part of my commitment to respond and not react to life (and kids!).

As it happens, one sleep later, I'm glad that little ghost popped in for a visit because he has spurred me on in a new direction. The whispers in my little Sprouts heart have shown me where and how to develop my coaching practice this year. In October I'll be taking some extra training with Connected Kids to become a mindfulness and meditation practitioner for children. I will learn how to teach children to quiet their own hearts and minds, to feel good, calm, centred, and full of hope and happiness. Of all the things parents ask me about, supporting their children to feel consistently calm and happy is top of the list. I am so excited! It's going to be a wonderful complement to my work with lone parents and a bonus skill for me as a mum at home. Thanks, little Sprout for the nudge.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Borrow a penguin

I have a bold and outreageous dream for my family, myself, and women like me. It is technicolour, beautiful, and saturated with love. We have adventures and do incredibly brave things, celebrating all the wonderful and courageous people that we are.

I am beginning to manifest this dream. I want to share with you how.

When I first imagined my life as a lone mother, the bit that stuck out was being alone. I thought I would be somewhere between a tiger mother and a wrung out dishcloth hanging in the wind keeping it all together.  In the fullness of time, I've learned that we are never alone. With the blessings of friends, grandparents, wider family, my incredibly powerful coaches (Simon, Derek, Averil, I salute you!) and colleagues I have discovered that loneliness is not the whole story of being a Lone Parent. It plays a part, and I have blogged about that too. But the whole story is something much more wonderful.

It began with a vision. I didn't know how to create one, so I borrowed a penguin.

Ok, not a real penguin.

I borrowed the tools to make a vision from someone who knew how to make one (in my case, my inspriational first coach, Simon). Back in 2012, still pregnant, before my feet hit the ground - in fact when I still couldn't even see my feet - as a lone parent, I drafted a dream of the life we were going to live. I was bodacious, outrageous, crazy! I dreamed of a huge house and a business that made my heart sing. I dreamed of a partner I could love and pictured myself as powerful, healthy and strong. Back in 2012 that vision was as comforting as it was compelling. Today, I find it extraordinary.

In the midst of the crazy, I created a detailed, annotated, powerful vision of our future life. I believed in that life. I made it real in my imagination. At the time I didn't know anything about the Law of Attraction or manifestation of things through thought. I probably would have looked at you askance if you'd used those words to tell the truth. But here I sit, with that original document in my hands. A3, covered in pencil scrawls and coloured in (I had time on my hands back then!). As I run my fingers over those wild and crazy dreams I can count how many I have achieved. Here I am in the city I declared I would live in, in a house I described, my children living a life I dreamed of for them. I am even dating the man I dreamed of (more on that later for the curious).

I have called this life to me through my actions. I know I am responsible for much of what we have because I have worked bloody hard to create it. I have relentlessly worked for it to tell the truth! And I am glad. Because the lessons I have learned along the way have been so important. Now that I have educated myself about the Law of Attraction, I firmly believe that it is still all woo-hippy wishing on a star if you miss out the 'participate relentlessly' bit of manifestation. Work AND Believe. Then you achieve.

I am telling you this story because I just set a new intention and I want to invite you along for the ride. This is the year I take my hard earned expertise into the world and offer it up to you. I'm officially launching myself as the Lone Parent Life Coach. There will be a whole range of ways you can work with me to manifest your own awesome reality. From the comfort of your own home, via my ecourse, right the way through to a year long bespoke personal life transformation. My work with families in the children's centres here will continue as the Social Enterprise arm of my business.

Take a moment to breathe in whatever YOUR dream is. Close your eyes and make the image as real and beautiful as the memory of breathing in your little baby's hair. Immerse yourself as completely as you can in the memory of the first time you touched their tiny hand. Know the moment of your success as intimately as you know your most perfect moments and memories that went before. Release the doubt and fear with the breath you exhale. You will never know what you can create until you try! Find your penguins, my friends. The people who can help you draw from 'real life'. And then transcend it.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

H.O.P.E - Hold On, Pain Ends.

I am wrapped up in a blanket on my sofa. Cello music is playing from my speakers. I’ve eaten a little bit (ok quite a lot) of chocolate, and I am writing – one of my favourite things to do. Everything about this is comforting. I feel safe.

There are few things more important than having a place of safety to retreat into. Somewhere you can watch the rain falling outside, knowing that in your haven, you will stay warm and dry. Somewhere to go where the bad stuff can’t get to you. A door you can close on the world. The place where your heart feels peaceful and all your needs are met. They say an Englishman’s home is his castle. Mine is a fort made out of my sofa, and it rocks.

Recently, I’ve been asked how to create a sense of safety for children whose home environment has been shattered by a terrible thing. For children who possibly don’t have a sofa fort they can hide in with their mum or dad. It’s a very hard question to answer, but I’ve given my top practical tips in detail on my coaching blog.

Perhaps the terrible thing is the loss of a parent. Perhaps the child has witnessed something traumatic that no child should see. Perhaps their home has disappeared from beneath their feet because their parent has had to move them somewhere new. Perhaps the terrible thing isn’t over yet, with the constant threat of more bad stuff hanging over their head.

They may have two amicable co-parents struggling through the grief of separation together. Or they may have parents who are in such pain through their relationship breakdown that they cannot communicate with each other at all. Whatever it is that has snuffed out a child’s sense of safety, it is a terrible thing indeed. And we parents know it when we see it. Believe me, we do.

There are no easy answers for a parent who is feeling frightened, ill-equipped to cope or who has been hurt by life themselves. When you feel unsafe, it is a feat of tremendous strength to become a place of safety for your dependent children. When I stand in front of a parent who asks me ‘how do I talk to my child about this?’ or ‘How can I help them stop hurting?’ invariably, hurt and fear is what I see in the parents eyes too.

Give yourself permission to be hurting. It’s ok. I promise. The pain will end. It will end faster, when you give yourself permission to come undone and cry. Tears won’t break you into a million little pieces, they will just help to wash away the pain. Sometimes that release of emotion is the most powerful gift you can give yourself in the moment. Your children will learn more from your unraveling and honest rebuilding than they ever could from watching you pretend that life is A.O.K. If it isn’t, let them know. If they need to cry and it moves you to tears, cry together. Hold them. Listen. Love them.  Don’t lean on them as if they are adult, but let them know that adults get scared too. There are no bad feelings, only big ones. Welcome them all into your family and I promise you – even the big feelings will pass, in time.