Life Choices by Danielle Jordan

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I guest wrote recently for one of my favourite bloggers and this is that piece. Have a read and then please stay to check out the brilliant ‘The World Outside the Window!’

The World Outside the Window

Welcome to my latest guest contributor, the fantastically talented Danielle Jordan. Danielle is a self-employed theatre practitioner and so are all of her family including baby Scarlett. She has agreed to share the unique challenges she faces as a first time mother working as a self-employed person in the arts.

image An actor’s life for me (and baby)

Life Choices byDanielle Jordan

“Umm…I think she might have been a bit sick?”

“No no she’s just dribbling in her sleep, anyway, before you learn how to strangle each other, let’s go through that last scene…”

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Challenge Continues Photoshoot Edition….

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Number 24, a family photoshoot has been ticked off our ’30 before 30′ list! Knowing it would be near impossible to get both sides of the family together for one big photoshoot, we’re doing it in two halves; we completed the first half this weekend, the Jordan side. We got together with Scarlett’s Auntie, Uncle, Grandparents and Great Grandparent on her Dads side and spent an hour in a studio laughing together and getting some snaps taken.

We had a look at the result this week and inevitably after telling ourselves firmly that we cannot afford to, almost instantly fell for one of their ‘deals’ to capture some of the images as keepsakes (not to mention Christmas presents!).

But it wasn’t just about getting the pictures, after the shoot we all headed for lunch and as a family group spent most of the day catching up, chatting and laughing together; with less than an hours studio time that’s a whole day we wouldn’t have necessarily have spent all together like that. As sad as it is, life gets so busy, it’s essential to book in these times to have some quality time together.

In my Grandparents day, you spent every weekend with your family, you Sunday lunched together, you went to the shops together, you all lived on the same street. Today, people often live on the other side of the world from each other. Not trying to get away from one another but there’s a whole big wide world to explore and it’s much more accessible than it used to be! But days like Sunday always prove to me just how important family is, it’s a lifelong bond and a family is one that will always be there for you. I understand why people don’t get much time together, it’s the nature of our lifestyles these days but I do think it’s so important to make time to reconnect. Just because you don’t see them as often, doesn’t make those people any less important.

This message has been made even more poignant for me as my side of the family recently lost someone, my Auntie passed away recently and Friday we’ll be travelling to Manchester for the funeral. Life has been very busy with Scarlett, work and other things so we were so pleased to be able to introduce Scarlett to my Aunt last month at a one off family lunch, one we nearly weren’t able to make. We didn’t know at the time it was going to be the last time we saw her.

I know not all families are straightforward, there’s skeletons in every cupboard, and some people are family despite not sharing blood; whatever the circumstance, the message is the same. Life is busy but people are more important, relationships are more precious than busy schedules.

We’ve ticked one of the things off our list and come away with lasting memories of this time in our lives. My brother recently turned 21, I remember him being born like it was yesterday, before we know it Scarlett will be her own person and these days will be a distant memory. I’m often teased for how many pictures I take or how much I make of the small moments. But those small moments are what make life worth living, in years to come we will all look back and realise the small moments were in fact the big moments, and I for one certainly want to cherish them.

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Christmas Season False Start…

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We went to a ‘children’s fun day’ at our local town hall today, excited that baby Scarlett would meet Father Christmas for the first time. Advertised was lots of Christmas cheer and plenty of stalls selling Christmas wares. Brilliant we thought, a start to our Christmas season. We arranged to meet two other Mums and five of their friends and children.

Out of the seven of us, who all ended up sitting in Copa, a local family friendly pub shortly after entering the ‘fun’ Christmas day, only two of us ended up even bothering to go in at all and both of us said it hadn’t been worth it. As any kids over 4 should be at school on a Wednesday morning, we mistakenly believed there would be lots of things to occupy the eyes and delight of under 4’s.

We also weren’t expecting in the huge queue to see Father Christmas to be approached by representatives asking if we wanted to consider changing our gas suppliers or fill in council surveys or sign up for a business opportunity. We were there for Christmas joy, but apart from 3 small rather sad looking Christmas trees on the stage, the Christmas part of the event was slightly lacking. We left the Father Christmas line when it was clear that the £2 to see Santa was also accompanied by the very annoying extra queue activities.

The hall was jam packed with stalls, admittedly some Christmassy, but some not at all. In fact, instead of just stalls raising money for well deserved charities and mainly with Christmas based items; the hall was unnecessarily cluttered up by the stalls selling other unrelated things, ‘here’s an aloe product & now I’ve made eye contact with you, let me take your details so I can tell you about this amazing business opportun….’ I’m sorry let me stop you there, I’m here for the delight in my baby girls eyes at twinkling Christmassy things, not to be droned at about soap with hidden motives! I realise that events like that need to make money, I realise a lot of the stall owners were Mums themselves trying to shove their business down our throats so they can make a bit of extra money to give their kids an extra special Christmas. I realise that to such an extent that I often shop from those small business owners especially at this time of year. But it’s too much, it’s too pushy, it’s not a Christmas Fun Day!

Even if all those parts were in a separate room, because trust me, no Mum with a impatient toddler wanting to see Father Christmas is going to want to stand chatting about their energy supplier.

I had been excited to go, at 4 months old, hearing her giggles and seeing her smiles at a Christmas fun day at all the seasonal things are admittedly more for us parents than for her. But after a disappointing trip round, our little girl got more joy walking through the big Xmas tree in the Regent Arcade on the way back to the car than the designated holiday event. Probably because inside the tree no-one was flapping a leaflet in our faces!

I don’t want Scarlett to be disappointed by these events and I don’t want to avoid them because of the shameful consumerism. You expect a day out to Alton Towers to be very expensive. Likewise, you expect to have to spend a few pounds at a local event to make sure they can be held, but you don’t expect (and rightly so) to be lambasted.

In future, we’ll be avoiding the town hall ‘business masquerading as fun day’ events as they sadly advertise in a way that’s misleading. Watching our kids giggling away with a couple of toys and each other’s company with plenty of space in Copa was enough to prove we’d made a much better decision by leaving. Christmas is unavoidably commercial, but companies should at least pretend to give two hoots about their target market!

So sadly today’s blog post is not, as hoped, about how much fun we had starting off our Christmassy period with a fun day.

However, I’d like to end on a positive. We came away with a gift from one charity stall selling seasonal gifts from a fantastic woman who raises money for Cancer Research whilst putting smiles on children’s faces. She hand-makes everything and puts in a lot of her own money to be able to do it. Thankfully there are people like her in the world and we were at least able to have a chat with her and we are all very pleased with our little Christmas bear.

As for Scarlett’s first meeting with Santa, we’re hoping to tick off that particular experience this weekend instead, we’re just hoping it won’t be accompanied by any unwanted corporate baggage…or else Mummy will use words that will land her on the naughty list…!

Poetry passed on…

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I’ve always written poetry, and never really known for sure where that particular side of my brain had come from. I have had a collection of poetry just waiting to be put together and published for a while now but life gets busy and it had slowly gone further to the bottom of the pile, especially since Scarlett was born. Recently I wrote a blog post which included a poem that my Dad had written when I was born, he would admit himself that creativity isn’t his strong point (although on reading his poem, I suspect the talent has just been suppressed!).

However! Last week my Mum brought round a little blue book and within it was a goldmine of discovery. She used to write poetry, lots of poetry, and some of the themes of love and motherhood, and hopes and dreams are so reflective of my own, it was such a wonderful recognition of one side of my life. I always knew that Mum was creative but now armed with a whole book full of poetry, I’m so pleased to be able to show my baby girl some of Nana’s work, not that at 4 months old she can really read and digest it, I was thinking more for the future…!

Anyway, aptly, my Mum wrote about Motherhood when she was just 18, and the feelings she experienced really echo my own, and so I thought it appropriate to share with you, dear friends and comrades. To see more of her poetry, now it’s risen in my pile of things to do, please do check out my collection of poetry when it’s finally released, which will now contain a certain special collaboration.

But for now may I please proudly present, Carol Whelans 1974 thoughts on Motherhood, for you my precious baby Scarlett, may you feel the same in the future;

“A mother is someone who knows all our needs,
Our hopes and our dreams and desires,
with a genuine interest in all that we do,
Someone who guides and inspires.

The heart of a Mother is full of compassion,
So generous, kind and forgiving,
The smile of a Mother is loving and tender,
And adds so much gladness to living.

A Mother is someone with infinite patience,
Who soothes all our troubles away,
Someone with limitless faith in her children,
And love for them day after day.

A Mother can make a house into a home,
By just being thoughtful and sweet,
By her warm understanding and gentleness too,
That makes life so rich and complete.

A Mother is full of true wisdom and strength,
Of loveliness, insight and grace,
She’s someone whose love we will cherish forever,
For no-one can take ‘Mother’s’ place!”