Trickier times…

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Let me hide us away in a safe warm caccoon,Let me protect us all safe from this storm.

Let me take any hurt and send it away,

Let me keep us all happy and warm.
It’s out of my hands, so the Dr’s all say,

Just rest up, we’ll keep a keen eye.

So we take some time off and ‘relax’ like they say,

And watch as the days tick on by.
We know that our chances are good by all counts,

We know that we’re lucky, us three.

Things could be much worse, so much harder than this,

There’s much more traumatic things that we see.
But a parents job is to take care of their kids,

To keep them from getting in harm.

So with nothing to do but so much to lose,

It’s tricky to stay upbeat and calm.
Hold on little one, Mummy’s doing her best,

I’m fighting as hard as I can,

Not long to go now, till we can meet you when safe,

I’ll do my best to see out that plan.
Our two girls are our world, to my husband and me,

There’s nothing we both hold so dear,

So they say just relax, but with no power to help,

It’s really tough to abate all our fears.
I love you, my rock, my husband, my friend,

I couldn’t do this without you, you see. 

Hiding away from the rest of the world,

Until our baby’s safe with Daddy, Scarlett and me.

Social stresses…

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(Post written last week, and dedicated to all fellow over worriers and people pleasers who feel the pressure of of 24/7 social media!)

I saw someone on Facebook the other day complaining that someone she knew had ‘seen’ a message, and not replied, putting up a sarcastic picture that said ‘sorry to bother you with my friendship.’ It’s that trumped up feeling of self importance that people have that drives me mad about social media. Recently, I’ve been crap at getting back to people, really crap. I’ve got lots of missed calls and unanswered messages. Not because I hate my friends and family but because the 24/7 access that the Internet provides leaves us with no space to be private. I’m writing a blog and some people may say ‘well if you can write a blog you’ve got time to reply to text messages’, and to those people I say, “f£&ok off!” Let me explain, I find this blog extremely cathartic, and I express things I’m feeling in a way I can’t out loud. Therefore although it goes online, it’s a private outlet in the time I’m writing it, an emotional release. I haven’t replied to friends who’ve asked when I’m next free because I don’t know. I don’t want to worry them or make any kind of comment that I then may have to change because I guessed wrong. (As background info, my kidneys are playing up again as in he first trimester and I’m currently waiting to see if it’s something that can be managed at home or if I need to stay in hospital today and/or longer. I’m hoping to go home but even then won’t know how quickly I’ll be feeling better). I haven’t called my family this morning because if I did I would cry and they would worry when there’s no need to and I don’t really want to cry on them unnecessarily. 
In the past week or so I have; avoided picking up my phone after being told I may not be able to have the natural birth we had planned because I wanted to deal with that. I have ignored a friendly but non urgent Facebook message because I threw up after reading it (not because of it!) and then instead of jumping straight back to the computer I had a lie down. Sometimes I forget to go back to a message I mean to reply to. None of which because I hate that person or people, but because sometimes there are other things going on, and I think it’s terrible when people can’t appreciate that. We all have friends that aren’t great at keeping in touch, they’re not bad people. Pre internet and mobile phone, we didn’t expect to hear from people within 15 seconds, if you’d had a bad day, you could run yourself a bath and deal with it privately without knowing that there were 5/6 people annoyed at you for not being in touch that day.
When I was at Primary school, I remember being teased for being short, and aged 8, that was heartbreaking! When I would get home I’d be in a safe bubble away from anyone who was going to be mean. In secondary school I remember a boy drawing a horrible picture of me focusing on my bad skin that was a really embarrassing and personal issue for me. I saw it, and the three people he was sat with saw it, and I went home and cried and then most likely cheered up watching a programme I liked on TV feeling slightly better about it the next day. But that was then… These days, that picture could have been uploaded and me tagged in it and after leaving school, there is no ‘safety’ at home because even if I detagged myself, it’s still out there for a much wider audience, and no doubt my mobile phone would buzz as well meaning friends would ask if I’m ok, or mean kids would tag me in comments or post on my FB wall. My point is, whatever’s happening in your life is now something you can’t control or switch off from. I know you can turn your phone off but you know the rest of the world is still there, and that when you switch it back on, those notifications will still be waiting for you, now with the added pressure that any unanswered messages are now overdue and someone’s annoyed at you for having not replied straight away!

I really feel for teenagers these days. Bullying is so much worse when it can be so constant and so thorough. It’s no surprise that mental health issues are on the rise and a much bigger problem; technology has forced a massive shift in how life can work and it wasn’t easy before we could be scrutinised at every moment of the day!

My way of dealing with a somewhat overwhelming personal circumstance is to attempt to go off radar. I’ve always been someone to deal with things more internally. Although ironically to do so without hassle, I should probably post a Facebook status to state that I’m taking some time out. And even then some may then see a picture of me somewhere (at a theatre event for work or out for dinner with family) and decide that if I’ve got time to do that, I should surely have time to get back to their Facebook event invite. 

What is not socially agreed on (although I feel it should be!) is that, it’s often not about having the time to do it. If I’m having coffee with a friend, I won’t reply to a non urgent text to someone else because I’m committing that short space of time to my friend I’m with in real life. Social media does not give you an all access pass to somebody’s time. If I’m sad, or even the opposite, if something amazing has just happened, I’m not going to answer my phone because I’m busy experiencing something else or I may not be in the right frame of mind to talk. Likewise, like today, while in a hospital waiting room anxious to get some test results, I may idly scroll Facebook to keep my mind distracted; and despite the fact that means FB will show me as ‘active’, (an annoying iPhone app feature you can’t switch off) with all due respect, I’m not. 

Ones private life has become something that others can make themselves a part of very easily, and I’m reclaiming more privacy. We should all be entitled to some space and time when we need it. And we should all also give each other a break. We have no idea what’s really going on in people’s lives or behind closed doors. I will often post pictures on FB, and occasionally, especially with work stuff, it’ll look like I’m spending loads of time gallivanting off having fun with no obvious reason to not be getting back to people. It’s the pitfall of showing your highlights reel! I may post a picture of a group of us smiling with swords in a morning at a class at work, I won’t then post a picture of the blood test I had later that day or write the caption ‘I’m smiling here but I’m actually really tired and worried about my test results’. No-one appreciates a constant moaner because we’re all going through things, we’re all fighting personal battles. Sadly we sometimes forget that we don’t have that backstage pass and it leads to people getting upright over being ignored or mistreated when they are not.

A close friend of mine recently lost her Mum. She got the call halfway through a party. Pictures of that party were uploaded onto Facebook. She looked like she was having a whale of a time, because any pictures she was in were before she got the call that totally changed her life. She didn’t go on Facebook for a while because she couldn’t. Notifications told her that she’d been tagged in some pictures and so she clicked through and numbly ‘liked’ a couple, almost out of habit. Later that day, someone who obviously hasn’t heard the news commented on one picture saying ‘oh so you’ve got time to go out with other friends and time to like the pictures on Facebook but not to take two seconds to reply to my message, thanks.’ The comment was deleted about an hour later. I’d like to imagine that it’s because she was informed and felt instantly ashamed of making assumptions without any awareness of what was going on behind closed doors. For my friend, whilst trying to deal with her grief, she then felt obligated to put up a status to explain why she’d been offline. Something which then prompted several messages of support which she appreciated but wasn’t ready to deal with at that time…which then led to another status to say thanks for the messages but she wasn’t ready to reply yet. It’s a seemingly never ending vicious circle. In such times, you should just be able to deal with your situation without having to frequently update people on where you are or why you might not be available.

I am not in that sad position. In comparison I’m going through nothing. But I am not getting any sleep, I’m in a lot of pain, I’m a bit worried about upcoming tests and results. All while with a lot of work on. And I’m trying to make sure my toddler and husband (who has been an unending source of support and deserves my remaining attention) get any energy I have left. Even my poor parents have been left just getting one word answers or the briefest of updates so they know all is well. 

We all deserve a private life and we all deserve to deal with personal things before public things. As I get older I’m more and more nervous about the pressures social media puts on, especially young people. It causes people to make judgements and assumptions in a way that was never possible before. 

So there are inevitably a few people at the moment who look at my Facebook profile and see the public view; we had a lovely Christmas and New Year and have just celebrated the end of a successful theatre tour whilst already starting work on the next one. And while all that is true, it’s not been easy and there’s a lot more going on than that. 

But I reserve the right to be a bit crap getting back to people at the moment. I’m hugely pregnant and am focusing on getting my kidneys sorted, getting sleep while I can and making sure my daughter is happy and well. Life is a bit more of a struggle at the moment and so regardless of how things may appear on social media, I am dealing with that stuff, truly and firmly, offline! 

Generational Grief…

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When I was younger, I remember my parents mentioning people I’d never heard of and sadly lamenting that they’d died. It was strange to me as a child because they definitely weren’t friends or family members; and then when asked about who they were, they would seem sad I didn’t know and say it was a celebrity or well known person they particularly admired. I remember finding this a bit odd because it wasn’t someone they knew, if it was someone from television or film, they could still listen to their music or watch their films, so why did it make any difference to them that they happened to have died? 

As an adult, I get it now.

Alan Rickman sadly passed away after a battle with cancer yesterday. He is not the first celebrity to have died that has made an impact on me. Not even the first this year, only a few days previously, we all heard that David Bowie had also passed away, also sadly after a battle with cancer. 

Now firstly, hopefully when my two children grow up, it will seem strange to them that people died of cancer as it will be something we’ve beaten, that’s my hope.

But more importantly, what will I say if they ask why I care?

I will tell them that they were a part of growing up, a part of my childhood and therefore had an impact on my life. 

On my Timehop yesterday, I was shown a quote I’d posted on Twitter about David Bowie, it read as below;

“When in doubt, listen to David Bowie. In 1968, Bowie was a gay, ginger, bonk-eyed, snaggle-toothed freak walking around South London in a  dress, being shouted at by thugs. Four years later, he was still exactly that – but everyone wanted to be like him, too. if David Bowie can make being David Bowie cool, you can make being you cool. PLUS, unlike David Bowie, you get to listen to David Bowie for inspiration. So you’re already one up on him, really. YOU’RE ALREADY ONE AHEAD OF DAVID BOWIE.”

It was a quote that resonated with me (those of you that are regular readers will know that I too have a snaggle-tooth that I was mocked for when I was younger but have fully embraced as an adult, I could pay to get it straightened but I certainly will not!) As an out and proud ‘weird kid’, the freedom, confidence and unapologetic individualism that David Bowie showed was a real inspiration to me. 

Alan Rickman is an actor I admire, his work ethic, his public persona and everything that I know of him (I won’t pretend to really ‘know’ any of these great people, but as celebrities, they touch our lives depending on there work and persona). One of his (in my opinion) great roles was in Dogma, a film I remember seeing at the cinema as a teenager and LOVING. With a real interest in comedy, his comic timing and dry wit was something I really admired. I’m also a big fan of the Die Hard films and as such, his Hans Gruber was a villain I thoroughly enjoyed. His career spanned many more films but those two and the big franchise I’m about to mention were the two that I remember him for. I will also say that although I can’t stand the film Love Actually (sorry!) both Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson play a heartbreakingly real and beautiful relationship thanks to their huge levels of talent as actors.

Harry Potter was a HUGE influence of kids my age, I remember waiting eagerly for the next book to come out and reading it on holiday and then at school, you had to find those who had read it to be able to discuss the big surprise plot points so as not to ruin it for those who hadn’t yet acquired the newest instalment. For the next generation of fans, the films had the same impact. And one of the most beloved characters in the series is of course, Severus Snape played by Alan Rickman. His cool, biting exterior and secret heartache and emotional depth was expertly portrayed and universally praised. His performances spawned a whole host of internet memes, and a whole generation of actors had a role model to want to live up to. 

After reading the books, myself (and thousands of others) had clear ideas of what the characters all looked like in our heads. Snape was one (for me) that not only fit the description but just embodied everything we had read about him.

So to explain my point, I grew up wanting to have Molly Weasleys strength of character, I wanted to be as badass as Professor McGonagall, I wanted to have Neville Longbottom’s courage and I wanted to love as strongly as Snape loved Lily Potter (hopefully with it being requited!). I loved reading and my imagination took me really exciting places! Actors like Alan Rickman and musicians like David Bowie, metaphorically held your hand and took you there. The world is an exciting place with people like that in it. You feel that you too can achieve greatness when they show it to you. That you too can go on an adventure so grand, find a love so strong and stand up for who you are as tall as they did. 

So without sounding disrespectful, we mourn not for the celebrities that we didn’t really know, we mourn for who they were to us and the magic and quality they brought to our life. So yes, there are inevitably people who post on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites because they feel they should, or because it’s what people do. But for a lot of people, some of whom keep their grief from a public status and some of whom are moved to mention it as an outlet; we are feeling that persons influence on our life leaving. The world is that little bit greyer, not for a significant amount of time compared to losing a family member perhaps, but for a time we feel the pain of losing someone who without knowing it, was important to us who we have become. 

As my children grow up, I will sadly see more and more of my childhood hero’s or people I admire leave this world; and they will shake their heads not knowing who I’m talking about, whilst simultaneously, without realising, forming their own attachments to people of their time. and then one day, when the first person of influence is in the news for passing away, they’ll get it.

2016 has, in it’s first 15 days, lost two extremely bright stars and I only have to look on social media to know that almost my entire generation are feeling the same. And so finally to quote an incredible man who said it himself better than any of us could, when we are all 80, and still talking about Harry Potter, our grandchildren will roll their eyes and say, “After all this time?”

And we will smile and say. “Always”

Toddler tantrums…

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Scarlett is approaching the ‘terrible twos’, she’s approaching it quickly and as such has decided to start getting some strops in a few months early. As she’s normally a very happy, cheery little lady, we can’t help but find it funny when they happen. Especially as the things she strops about are so entertaining. Here are just a few examples our daughter felt were tantrum worthy:
– we wouldn’t let her eat a plug

– she wanted to play with my tin of Vaseline but I gave it to her without calling it a hat first

– we wouldn’t let her hit herself in the head with the cupboard door

– she asked for a cracker and we gave it to her

– I wasn’t drinking my tea fast enough or taking long enough sips

And that’s just the last few days. It’s an entertaining phase, we try not to laugh at her when she’s having said tantrums and let her calm down without giving too much attention, as the last thing we want her to learn is that throwing a tantrum will get her anywhere.
Luckily because we do just leave her to it, she gets over it pretty quickly. I’m sure the next year or so (and the arrival of her sibling!) will bring bigger and more extravagant strops, and as she starts to learn more about being independent and gets frustrated at the seemingly changing world around her, the toddler years will bring much bigger challenges than a quick strop! It’s all part of the fun and games, now I must go, our little angel is annoyed she isn’t allowed to wear her porridge…

Realistic Resolutions…

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My ‘pregnancy resolutions’ for this second pregnancy were as follows, (with accompanying success details next to them!) :
1. Don’t worry so much about every little twinge and feeling – which I have to say I’ve mainly been successful in, I’m quite laid back in general so now I know a bit more what things feel like from the first time, I’m managing pregnancy pain paranoia much better this time.

2. Eat all the best foods – HA! Well, our diets are pretty healthy as everything is home cooked from scratch & I enjoy experimenting but a bit like last time, especially the first trimester was plagued by really bad sickness and so when you know you can keep down a McDonalds Apple pie, it’s difficult to opt instead for a homemade smoothie! I have been eating well in the majority but the number of McD’s Apple pies have definitely been more frequent than I would normally eat them!

3. Relax more in the run up to the birth – pre New Year I can safely say I totally failed at this one! Work wise, we’ve had the busiest 12 months of our careers so far and it hasn’t remotely slowed in the last 6 of pregnancy (a hospitalisation paused play for a couple of weeks but otherwise it’s been very full on) it’s difficult because I love being busy and find it hard to say no to doing things. However, I’m currently sitting in the bath with a bath melt soothing away aches and pains with a magazine and I had similar last week with a bath bomb. After Christmas I’ve been left well stocked with products from LUSH (which I love!) and my husband has been enforcing baths at times when I’ve said I don’t have time. I also have a pregnancy massage voucher to cash in and the watchful eye of said husband who is determined I slow down in the last 13 weeks! Last time, I failed at relaxing, but this time, at least in the third trimester I think I’ll succeed more!

4. Have more control over my emotions – what a ridiculous resolution to have made. (Obviously done so when I wasn’t pregnant and had tricked myself into thinking it was something I had control over!) I still cry because I think someone has said something to imply I’m not a perfect Mum when they’ve only actually asked me to pass them their drink, I still leave the house and then realise I don’t have my bag/phone/coat/keys/shoes that aren’t slippers (which generally leads to more tears) and I still snap at my family when I mishear what they’ve said and think it’s time for a row (usually followed by a confused look on their face, followed by more tears as I get upset over upsetting them..!) 

All in all, I’ve done about as well as I would with the stereotypical New Years resolutions. My intentions were good, they’re all good ideas, but I’m only human, and running on pregnancy time!! 

I decided to make more realistic resolutions for the last trimester of this second pregnancy and we’ll see how they go :

1. Relax as much as possible…maybe to be rephrased as try and keep well stocked with LUSH products and then use when my husband tells me to!

2. Apologise when I’m being unreasonable, attempt to stop apologising for things in my head like, I was sitting down and thought my husband wanted me to be doing something more productive. Or making a cup of tea that I decide isn’t in the nicest mug. If I tell someone they’re a waste of space for not knowing I wanted a tiny bit of raspberry jam of top of a well buttered but of toast, an apology is due. If someone walks in the room and I apologise for not having handmade them a three piece suit because they mention they could do with a new jacket…I’m doing it wrong again!

3. Enjoy the bits I can, and try not to feel bad for not enjoying the sickness, pain or other downsides to pregnancy. When a baby kicks, people talk about it being a miracle and how lucky you must feel. When it’s at 3am and you can’t sleep because your miracle is practising Kung fu on your bladder and moving so much you feel dizzy – it’s ok to not be inspired to write a poem on the miracles of being pregnant. It’s tough sometimes and that’s ok. It doesn’t reflect how much I’ll love my children. It doesn’t even disrespect pregnancy. It’s just admitting that it’s not 24/7 wonder and amazement. The kicking thing, yeah it’s exciting, but it’s also kind of strange and painful and I’m determined to hold no guilt for thinking so in the 3rd and most active trimester!

So there we go, updated pregnancy resolutions that are slightly more achievable and all that I’ll probably break! I’ll try and remember to write a post when I’m finishing a 12 hour working day, yelling at one person for not giving me my favourite fork, apologising to another for not giving them a house deposit, whilst feeling guilty over being bothered by my unborn child’s internal attacks (sorry I of course mean, little kicks of joy..!).

New Years Musings…

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  I found the below on my iPad after a sleepless night (I’m in that stage of pregnancy, the non sleeping stage I remember very clearly from my first pregnancy. Back then people joked with me that if I thought I was only getting a little sleep then, I was in for a shock when the baby was born…however, I can honestly say I got more sleep in the first three months of having a newborn baby, than I did in the last three months of pregnancy, easily!) ANYWAY, rant aside(!) I started a 2015/2016 reflections post. One I was going to pick up again but in all honesty I’m not sure where I was going with it so instead I’m just posting it for prosperity!

So here it is, my unfinished, lack of sleep induced, 2015 summary and look to our 2016 priorities! Not resolutions, that’s perhaps another post for another day..!

Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers, writers, readers and all!

“It’s the 1st January 2016 and the start of a brand new year, a blank page, a new chapter! I am wide awake as I’ve hit that stage of pregnancy where I can’t get comfy enough to sleep and even if I could, our newest addition to the family is extremely active at night and ensures she practises her stage combat moves around 2am…! 
It has inevitably tonight led me to look back on our 2015, and forward to our 2016 with a few observations, that I’ll list in bullet points because it’s late, and I don’t trust myself to make sense in full paragraphs. (I don’t really expect to make sense in bullet points but at least they should be slightly easier to decipher!) 
In 2015:

– We moved! Finally headed onto that property ladder people kept telling us about, I was always convinced I wasn’t that bothered about property but I have to admit I have felt a real added sense of security that is comforting. 

– We have levelled up! And in that I mean we have created a new life to join our little family, we will in 2016 become four. The second half of our 2015 was somewhat taken up with a difficult start to that journey but as we’ve done this part before, we know that kidney problems and health scares are all more than worth it for the next part! 

– Business is doing very well, we ran all the courses we planned on running and even ran one with the RSC with another now planned for 2016. And we developed he writing/directing side that was in our five year plan by starting it early with two professional writing and directing projects with our names on them. Both which went very well, our main issue for 2016 is having a look at where we can slow things down in some areas, to be able to concentrate on various threads. 

– My individual work has also seen us travel to Paris, Brussels and Glasgow and nearly saw us in New York if advanced pregnancy hadn’t interrupted play! I will be early on in 2016 going on maternity leave but I’m lucky to be in a role that won’t be affected by a few quiet months.

– Our beautiful little girl turned one and has developed into a happy, healthy, confident child. She loves to dance, she finds joy in so many places and she reminds us every day how to live with unapologetic happiness. She IS getting to the slightly more tantrumy toddler stage, but it’s all part of her development and we have seen her character and it’s going to be a real continued joy to watch her grow. Not to mention interesting to see her reaction to becoming a big sister!
In 2016:

– We will be welcoming player four to the game! Due late March/early April, baby number two will soon be with us and that is when the real fun begins! Life with two under twos! It will be tough, the first six weeks especially will be extremely challenging. But it will be delightful chaos that we’re looking forward to embracing! (Which reminds me, must Google ‘top tips for having two children!’)

– Workwise we’re going to use the first part of my maternity leave to adjust our five year plan accordingly. Work has got so busy that in the latter part of 2015, especially when a tricky pregnancy put our schedule behind; we found that we were doing really well but we had no time to catch up with friends and family. In 2016, our main aim is to balance that out. Don’t get me wrong, being in demand is great and we’re very lucky to be too busy as self employed people, but we now need to decide which routes we’re going to slow down and/or close off, and which we’re going to focus on. Not an easy task for two enthusiasts but a priority when we want to ensure we’re seeing more of people we want to!

– Scarlett is going to become a big sister in a few months and one of our priorities is to help her realise how important that makes her role as big sister. She’s going to be gaining a comrade, not a competitor and we therefore want to try and ensure we help her understand that. And keep it clear that she is in no way being usurped in our love for her. ‘Toddler’ is a tough stage for everyone involved so the last thing she needs is to think she has a rival. She is our world, and her sibling will be our world, but they will grow up knowing how lucky they are to have each other. 

– This year we will (hopefully!) have slightly less travelling! I’ll be on maternity leave so won’t be going abroad with work at least until the end of 2016 but now we have a much busier and former base of local work, we’ll be able to pick and choose much more when and where we have to travel all over the place. For example, we’re looking forward to a work trip in St Ives in February which we’ve booked in because the work is valuable and the people there are very dear friends. But we don’t HAVE to accept every ‘away’ work trip that comes through to our work email and that puts us in an extremely fortunate position. We have many years to jet set, but while we have two very little ones, it’ll be nice to have at least a year or two staying a bit more closer to home!”