Honesty

A few months ago I wrote a blog post called Love or Loyalty? For me, without love, there is no purpose.

However, since writing the post, I have wondered if actually love and loyalty aren’t the most important thing in a relationship. Maybe the key to a happy, long lasting relationship is in fact honesty.

I recently started seeing someone. A couple of weeks ago after a beautiful morning together, I asked him a question. It was something that had been playing on my mind, but I could never find the right time to ask.

However, something about our perfectly beautiful morning together, gave me the courage I needed to ask.

I could see that my question had surprised him. He was unable to answer straight away (yet somehow this gave me my answer before he even spoke). He was clearly torn as to whether to be honest or whether to lie.

Thankfully he decided to be honest.

He knew that by being honest, I wouldn’t get the answer I wanted to hear. He didn’t want to upset me, or cause me any hurt, but I think he knew he needed to be honest with me.

He considered keeping the truth from me. I knew that from his initial silence, as well as the grown up conversation we had afterwards.

But, instead, he told me the truth. As slow, warm tears rolled down my cheeks, he immediately regretted telling the truth.

As much as it caused me some hurt that day, by the time evening came, I was pleased he had found the courage to tell me the truth. His honesty made my heart and soul much happier.

It had made him feel like shit, and I still had a decision to make, but at least I could do this with the facts laid out in front of me.

Had he not told me the truth, our beautiful bubble may not have burst. Yet if I had found out the truth much later on, this would’ve been far worse for our relationship.

Although our initial bubble burst, I decided that the information I now had, would not ruin what we had started. In some ways, his honesty brought us closer together, and made us both realise we had something that we wanted to fight for.

Which thankfully lead to a new bubble being created.

Recently, I went to a friends wedding. I spent most of the day talking to a couple I have known for a number of years, about the concept of love and loyalty.

It was my friends husband (D) who said it wasn’t love or loyalty that kept him and K together (although clearly they are still in love with each other, even after 20+ years of marriage!). He said that honesty was the key, and K agreed.

They have such a refreshing approach to their marriage and their relationship.

They openly admire other people in front of one another (even pointing out to each other when they see someone in the street the other might like!). Yet neither of them have strayed, or been tempted to stray. They have a refreshingly honest approach to their marriage, with K saying that if D ever strayed, she could never put the entire blame on him, taking the view that if he was ever tempted, then she would have no choice than to accept some share of the blame.

Social media does not help honesty in our relationships these days. With so many opportunities to misbehave behind peoples backs, it is easy to see why many people are becoming more and more disillusioned with love.

I have lost count of the number of men who appear to be happily married, who have sent me late night messages over the last 6 months! Two in particular were clearly going through difficult times at home. As much as I was flattered by the attention, nobody likes to be used when things get tough at home! It seems as if it is far easier these days to be unfaithful than it is to be honest with our nearest and dearest.

For me, lying is one of the worst offences you can commit in a relationship. Being honest with each other, even when you have done wrong, shows strength and courage. Yes, it might cause hurt and pain, and comes with great risk, but I would take that any day over lies

My advice for what it’s worth, is to let people know where they stand, so they can make their own choices.

Is self care easier if you’re single?

A few weeks ago, I attended a friends hen party. The hen party was fun. But something was troubling me.

I was staying in a hotel that night with another friend. While we were busy getting ready for the hen party, she started pouring her heart out to me. It appeared that her marriage was on the rocks. Whilst I was shocked to hear this, I was not entirely surprised.

As my friend continued to tell me her problems, it occurred to me that all she might actually need was a little bit of time out for herself. From where I was standing, the issues they faced as a couple were largely down to the fact that my friend did not take much time out for herself. Not only did she seem trapped by being mum to her two children, her vibrations also constantly seem to be low.

So I decided to try and talk her into creating some time for herself.

The trouble is, she wasn’t ready to hear what I had to say. She wanted to blame her husband for everything that was going wrong. She couldn’t see that by taking a little time out for herself, it might actually help her to look at things more rationally, and generally make her feel a lot happier.

This really got me thinking about self care. Does being single make it easier for me to ensure I spend time on my self care? Perhaps it is selfish of me to think that self care is possible for everyone to maintain. Perhaps it is harder for couples with children, and even more so for single parents.

I decided to explore these thoughts further. So after finding some willing friends, who are parents of children ranging from a few days old to 4 years old, I asked them some questions to get an understanding of how they feel about self care, and how they fit self care into their routines, if in fact they do.

What does self-care mean to you?

I thought it would be really good to understand my friends views on self care first of all.

Answers ranged from:

  • To stop overthinking about other people and carving out something just for you
  • Remembering you’re still a person with valid thoughts, desires, emotions and feelings, despite having children
  • Looking after yourself (d)
  • Taking time out to do things for me, to look after my physical and mental wellbeing (d)
  • Time to focus on myself to make sure I am ok (d)

What is reassuring in their responses is that whether they are male or female, they understand what self care is and the importance of it.

The interesting part for me is the different responses from the mums v the dads. The dad answers marked with a (d) come across as a lot more matter of fact, whereas the mum answers had much more of an emotional connection.

As a parent, how do you create time for self-care?

From experience, even as a singleton, self care doesn’t just happen. You have to create time for it. However, on the other hand, it also shouldn’t become a burden. It’s too easy sometimes, even for someone in my situation, not to bother. But it’ salvo really important not to beat ourselves up about it if life does get in the way. What’s important is when you do find time for self care, to store up those self care points to help get you through the days, weeks or even months when self care time just cannot be squeezed into busy lives.

Even for me, with working long, unsociable hours at times, keeping the flat clean, and trying to maintain some sort of social life outside of working hours, I sometimes have to force myself to check in to see how I am.

So how do my friends who juggle parenting on top of work, manage to create time for self-care?

  • With difficulty…snatched time
  • By sharing duties
  • By staying up later than my partner and watching tv
  • By scheduling it in
  • By being organised. Self-care can only really begin once our evening routine is complete. There’s usually a window once our son is in bed, where I can check in with myself to make sure I am ok.

The key point for me is having a healthy relationship with your partner. By understanding that you are not just parents, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to have time out from this role, hopefully goes some way to stop parents from feeling that guilt they so often endure for leaving their child in someone else’s care, so they can spend some time looking after themselves. Being a parent is one of the most important roles you will ever play. It’s really important therefore that you do create time for you and to recharge your batteries, so that you can give your children the time and energy that they too deserve.

Two of the friends I spoke to, who are both married (not to each other!), have recognised that by sharing child duties as well as social time, helps matters. For Elaine, being in a 50/50 relationship , her and her husband spend an equal amount of time with their daughter, but also recognises when each of them needs a break from playing mum or dad. For Elaine, self-care can take as long or as little as it needs, in order to help remind her that she is still Elaine regardless of her role as Mum. Depending on her needs and the time she has, Elaine’s self-care can be as fun as a few drinks in the pub with friends, or as simple as relaxing in the bath bath and having an early night.

Lewis on the other hand, who is now a father of two, and shares childcare duties with his wife Jen, recognises the importance of scheduling self-care into busy days. Lewis told me that most of the time his self-care takes place at home after his boys are in bed. However, recognising that it is important for both him and his wife to still continue with their hobbies as well as time away from parenting duties, they also schedule in a weekday evening and a weekend morning each, that is allocated free time to themselves.

In the case of both Elaine and Lewis, it’s not just about finding self-care time for themselves, they also understand the importance of freeing up their partners time to look after their own self care too.

Do you have any self-care rituals you would care to share for other parents out there?

Whilst there were few self-care rituals people wanted to share, those that did, ranged from simply sitting down and having a cup of tea once the kids had been put down for a nap, to completing outstanding tasks for the day whilst carrying out some mindful thinking, and ending the day with toys being put away to allow for a fresh start in the morning.

However, Lewis may just’ve stumbled across the most fun self-care ritual I have certainly seen for parents to try. Incorporating self-care and time with the little people, Lewis has introduced his boys to the world of Cosmic Kids Yoga Videos. This great concept allows parents to carry out a quick yoga session whilst keeping the little folks entertained!

If you don’t have any self-care rituals, would it be something you would like to know more about?

As much as some of my friends find it hard to fit self care into their routines, they seemed to have a good understanding of what they can do, and where to find more information on self care, should spare time be created.

Do you think self-care is easier for women than men?

This was my final question to the group. Having reflected on whether self care is easier for singletons compared to parents, I then started to wonder whether men and women viewed self care differently.

The answers were varied, and again, there was quite a difference between the views of men and women, with the men’s answers appearing once again with a (d) next to them:

  • I don’t think it’s about gender. I think it’s about mindset (but being in a same sex relationship might give me a different perspective). I think it’s easy to put it down to gender but I see huge differences in our approaches to it in my relationship
  • I think self care is just as easy for women as it is for men, if you let it be. Too many women are martyrs who feel that it is their duty to care for their children and not themselves. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There’s nothing wrong with sharing the load. There’s nothing wrong it’s looking after yourself.
  • It’s easier fo men because it’s often harder for women to admit they need time away from their child (d)
  • I think it’s down to the individual and their circumstances (d)
  • Honestly – I don’t know. Everyone had busy lives and finding time to make time for yourself is probably hard regardless of sex (d).

Conclusion

The purpose of asking these questions, hasn’t really been about finding the definitive answer to whether self care is easier if you are single.

It was an idea that got me thinking about self care and the difference of approach between a single 30 something (me) and my friends, who are all doing tremendous jobs as parents.

The process for me has been fascinating. Peoples opinions vary so much.

I think if anything, the men I spoke to have surprised me more. The support they give to their partners to allow them to create time to be themselves away from being mum or dad, as well as their matter of fact approach to self care, has been surprising, and lovely to hear.

I also want to give my friend Elaine a special mention too. The relationship she has with her husband is refreshing. Being able to recognise when your partner is struggling is not only difficult for many people to recognise, but when they do recognise it, they don’t know how to react to it. Elaine and her husband not only recognise when each other needs time out to be themselves, away from mum and dad duty, but also manage to maintain a 50/50 approach to bringing up their beautiful daughter. On top of that, Elaine gets that it’s ok to not be ok. That if she needs to ask for help, that that’s ok. That looking after yourself is key, not only to a happy marriage, but to happy parenting.

Self care may not be the glue my friend needs in order to keep her marriage together. However, I stand by the fact that with a little bit of time out for herself, she may start to feel better about herself and the situation she is in. With a little bit of self care, a sprinkling of self love and some time to think, I hope that she finds the answers she needs, whether that’s keeping her marriage alive, or simply, by learning to love herself a little bit more.

Wedding Season

It’s been a good few years since I last went to a wedding.

They can be a bit like buses. You wait ages for one and then two come along at once!

This spring, two of my closest friends are getting married to their respective partners.

Whilst I have been looking forward to their weddings and helping them to celebrate their love for each other, in the back of my mind, a little reminder keeps going off, reminding me that these are the first weddings in my proper grown up life, where I have been going as a singleton.

I’m talking weddings of friends here, and not family. It seems to be much more acceptable to attend a family wedding with your family as opposed to having to worry about a plus 1. Although there’s still no escaping the awkward question of, are you ever going to be next?

Friends weddings are very different to family weddings.

Weddings in your 30s are also very different to weddings in your 20s.

Weddings in your 20s

Attending weddings in your early 20s is all about having fun. It’s a bit of a novelty when you start to get wedding invitations through your door after years of guessing who might be first to tie the knot.

In your early 20s, most of the bride and grooms friends are still single. Weddings were all about who could drink the most, and copping off with the bridesmaids or the best man (or both!)!

Then there are the weddings you’re invited to when you’re in your mid 20s. People, by now, are starting to get into serious relationships.

Wedding invitations are flooding through the door, and there is the added excitement of taking your plus 1. You want to show them off to your friends, and as you sit there watching your friends tie the knot, you hope that you and your plus 1 might be next.

However, with the plus 1 in attendance, cue the awkward questions. “So will you two be next?” or “When are you too going to tie the knot?” followed by lots of nudging each other.

The questions you get in your late 20s are even worse, with people reminding you that your body clock is ticking!

Weddings in your 30s

Attending weddings in your 30s is by no means an area I am an expert in. In fact, this weekends wedding between my lovely friend Elaine and her partner Will, is the first wedding I have attended in my 4th decade.

It’s also the first wedding I have been to in a long time, as a singleton. I tried not to think about it too much. However, there was still part of my mind that kept wondering whether I would stick out like a sore thumb! How would I feel when the couples got up to dance together during the first dance? Would it make me feel sad that I’m on my own and not with a significant other?

Of course I didn’t need to worry. Although it appeared that most guests were there as a couple, many with their young families, I didn’t once feel out of place.

There was to be no slow dance for the happy couple (they opted for a Ceilidh instead!), which at least meant that I wasn’t left on my own staring into the distance all misty eyed as the couples left me for the dance floor. The couples still left me for the dance floor, but instead of feeling left out, I relished in the opportunity to film them dancing during the Ceilidh!

The only disappointing factor was the lack of single men in the room, but aside from that, it was great to simply catch up with friends, old and new, to dance like a loon, and to celebrate love.

The thing is, I’m happy with being single. Had I not been, I may’ve found the experience more difficult. But the fact that I am happy with where I am, and who I am, meant that I could go to my friends wedding, and just enjoy the day for what it was. Two friends, making a commitment to each other.

Love or Loyalty?

Have you ever stopped to consider whether love or loyalty is more important to you?

I hadn’t.

However, it was a question raised by one of the guys in the office today, and it’s really got me thinking.

Most people in the office opted for loyalty. Without hesitation in most cases.

My initial reaction was that I want both. Why wouldn’t you? But, if I really had to chose, which would it be?

Could I continue to love someone even if they were unfaithful?

Could I remain loyal to someone if love starts to fade?

Would I want a future partner to be loyal even if his love for me fades? Would loyalty be enough?

I have been in relationships where the love has faded over time. You love each other, but your not in love. You end up simply existing with each other. Unhappy, but loyal.

I’ve also been in relationships, where the man has chosen loyal over love. I asked one of my ex boyfriends a very long time ago, whether anything would ever drive him to leave. His response was that even if he was unhappy he would stay.

My reaction back then possibly isn’t too dissimilar to what it would be now.

Why would you do that to yourself

Why would you stay with someone who didn’t make you smile?

Why would you want to stay with someone who was happy to just plod through life?

No excitement, no laughter. Just existing.

I’ve also had my fair share of heartache. When you love someone, and they don’t love you back, whether you’ve been together for months, years, or you’ve simply loved someone from afar; not getting that persons love back is enough to break the strongest heart.

But at least heartache makes you feel something. It reminds us we’re alive.

Funnily enough, those who have caused me the most heartache are the ones I remember most fondly. It’s those relationships where the love has faded that leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I can’t imagine there is a worse feeling than being cheated on. I suspect a couple of ex boyfriends have not been so loyal to me in the past. But never with enough evidence to rely on. And I am grateful for that. Maybe if I had concrete evidence, I would be fighting loyalty’s corner harder.

If you love someone so much, and found out they had cheated on you, would you forgive them? Or if not forgive, at least push to the back of your mind, because your loyalty for that person is so strong?

Believe it or not, I want loyalty to win. But is loyalty enough?

Ultimately, as human beings, we want to chose both. What greater feeling than having a loyal partner whom you love dearly, and is loyal and loving back.

Yet, we are also aware that finding love and loyalty isn’t always possible. Let’s not forget that in some cultures love isn’t deemed to be as important. Arranged marriages for example. Arranged by the couples families, for convenience, for wealth, for popularity. All before love.

For me, being in a relationship is about enhancing your life, not just making do.

If you no longer love me, I don’t want you to stay with me because it’s easier than breaking up with me, or because you’re happy to ‘make do’, or because it’s expected of us. Sod that!

Ultimately I want you to stay because you love me. With your heart, body and soul. And if you can’t do that? I don’t really need you.

What’s more important to you?

Love or Loyalty?

Positivity

Have you ever stopped to consider why you attract negative people into your life?

I have to admit, it’s something I have often made a habit of.

Not on purpose of course.

But time and time again, I would find myself attracting friends and partners who were negative and needy.

No matter how hard I tried to be positive when I was around them, I was fighting a losing battle.

Over the last 6-7 months, as I have started to change my own mindset, throwing myself into improving my own wellbeing and self care, I have noticed my energy levels change. My sparkle is brighter.

And as a consequence, I’m attracting other people who have a positive energy about them.

Spending time instead with people who, despite the troubled world we live in, who see the good in people, who make the most out of bad situations, and thrive on throwing themselves at life.

Even on days like yesterday, where I felt far from 100%, and woke up with a little bit of attitude, within an hour of being surrounded by positivity, I found myself grinning as wide as a Cheshire Cat, relaxing and, quite simply, enjoying the day.

The more positive we are about ourselves, our lives, and the environments we share, the more positive people will be drawn into our lives, leading us to a much happier existence.

Knife crime, dirty laundry, and self care

The last couple of weeks have made me realise just how important it is to have a self care bank.

If I hadn’t been able to cash in on some of my self care reserves, I definitely wouldn’t have got through it as well as I have.

Most of the drama that has unfolded, has been out of my hands.

Sadly we’re living in a city where knife crime is a reality. It’s almost becoming the norm. Yet twice, in the space of just a few days, knife crime got closer to home.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s my country bumpkin background that makes me more shockable when these things happen.

The guys I know who have lived in and around London for most of their lives, tend to just shrug it off and tell me ‘that’s life’. I guess this isn’t the first time they have dealt with knife and gang crime. It’s not like it’s a new problem, but with the news and social media platforms we use these days, perhaps it just seems worse because it’s talked about more.

Whatever’s going on, when it impacts people you know, as well as the work you do, it starts to feel like it’s getting a bit too close for comfort.

I’ve also still been having problems with my ex. I’m not going to air my dirty laundry on here, but it’s something I could do without.

I’m also trying to spend some time forging new, exciting friendships/relationships with people. It was one of the things I wanted to accomplish this year. It’s early days, but it’s kinda fun wondering whether these people are here for a reason, here for a season, or here for a lifetime.

I haven’t even had time to head home lately. Weekends have been filled with hen parties, friends and family visiting, and work. And there’s still more busy weekends to come.

I’m certainly not complaining, but my body and mind are starting to tell me I need some R&R.

Today, I listened to my body and did bugger all. After working all day on Saturday, I needed some time to just vegetate today. I only left the house to grab some food for dinner, and barely left the sofa. I used to hate days doing nothing. But I’ve learnt that when my body says rest, I need to listen to it, otherwise I run the risk of burning out.

Heading into a new week, I need to make sure I focus on getting back outside for some exercise, as well as creating some time to bank some more self care points, in order to replace those I have used over the last couple of weeks.

Fingers crossed for a more peaceful week ahead…

Sparkle

How do some people in life just simply make you sparkle? ✨

I guess we’re not just talking ordinary people.

These are people who see things that other people don’t see.

People who see deep into your soul.

People who on your darkest days, make you smile, laugh, and shine.

People who see you at your worst, but still tell you how good you look.

And when they see you at your best, they make you sparkle that bit more.

Being in their company makes you glow from the inside.

As well as the outside.

It’s such a special feeling, that even when you’re no longer in their company, you’re left with a feeling.

A feeling of excitement.

A feeling that makes you feel alive.

A feeling that makes you want to conquer the world.