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.

Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been thinking about mental health a lot this week. Particularly apt due to it being mental health awareness week.

Everywhere I’ve turned there have been reminders about looking after our mental health. Social media has been full of interesting quotes and articles, and celebrities as well as us ‘normal’ folk have been talking about our own mental health.

I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday who said they feel as though everyone has mental health problems these days, and that sometimes it feels as though people are just ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.

Whilst I’m not sure people are ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, it certainly does feel as though more people have mental health problems these days. However, I’m not sure that this is true either.

What seems to be true, is that more people are opening up and talking about mental health.

Radio 1 have done a great job at allowing people to open up and talk about their mental health, frequently talking about different ways to cope, and just allowing people to air their problems.

Celebrities too have been opening up about their mental health experiences, which somehow makes it easier to discuss things. By opening up and telling us their stories, they are letting everyone know that it is ok to not be ok.

Workplaces too are taking a tougher stance on mental health, ensuring staff know what to do if they are experiencing problems, or by simply making staff more aware of the signs that one of their colleagues maybe struggling so they can help, or find someone who can.

I too created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut as a way of managing my own mental health. I often struggle to put things into words when speaking out loud, but writing my blog helps me to have a voice, and to say the things I often wish I could say in person. It also helps me to reflect and to make sense of things.

Yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of bittersweetness when we talk about mental health.

In a couple of months time it will be the anniversary of my best friends suicide.

I often wonder, if there had been more publicity about mental health back then, if there had been easier access to information, support groups etc, whether she may still be here.

We’ll never know.

What I am grateful for, is the fact that times are changing.

Mental health has a growing voice.

Mental health is finally being listened to.

Amen to that!

🙏🏻

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.

Reprioritisation

Do you ever find yourself caught up in life and realise that you’ve not quite got your priorities right?

Life has been busy lately. In fact, since the new year, life has been pretty mental. Finding time to relax in the evenings and at weekends has been near on impossible, especially since my trip to Portugal back in February.

I’m certainly not complaining. There’s nothing worse than falling into January with an empty diary.

There have been weekends with friends or family visiting. There have been hen parties. There have been weekends where I’ve volunteered to help out with work events.

I also lost an entire Saturday when I was meant to be meeting my family for the day, but instead I ashamedly spent the day recovering from the worst hangover I’ve ever had in my entire life. Far from my proudest moment.

I felt awful not going to see my family. My brother was due to have an operation the following week and I had desperately wanted to see him before he went into hospital. But I wasn’t in a fit state to go anywhere, let alone jump on the train to go and meet them.

As frustrating and embarrassing as it was (I’m 35! Surely I should know better!?!), it was the kick up the backside I needed to refocus and get my priorities straightened out.

So after much deliberation, I decided to cancel my plans at the weekend (even though it meant letting someone else down), and head north to visit my family for the weekend.

And I’m so pleased I did. It was great to see for myself that my brother is recovering well from his operation, as well as getting to spend some time with my other brother, Sam, and getting the chance to look after mum and dad a bit. I know they all really appreciated my visit too. Making me even more grateful that I refocused my energy.

I hadn’t meant to leave it so long before I visited home. After my last visit in January, life just kinda happened, and time has a really bad habit of speeding by.

But it was good to take some time to refocus and reprioritise. It’s so easy to get caught up in life. But family come first, always. No matter how busy we get, it’s so important to remember to prioritise. And not to worry if you need time to refocus your energy and to reprioritise.

I’m heading back home again this coming weekend. However, with a hen party and a wedding reception to go to, it’s going to be another busy one. But I have kept Sunday free, so I can at least catch up with mum and dad again before I head back to London. And hopefully I’ll have a clear enough head to make the most of it!

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…

Praia Santa Eulália, Praia da Oura and Alfagar II Aparthotel

I’m now back in gloomy, grey, England after a beautiful few days in Portugal.

The flight into Gatwick yesterday was slightly unnerving, as we landed in high winds. There were gasps, followed by a few expletives from passengers as we made our descent, but thankfully, our pilot got us back safe and sound (and without the drama this plane had trying to land at Heathrow yesterday – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-47177383/plane-struggles-to-land-in-strong-winds-at-heathrow-airport).

Thursday was my last full day in Portugal. I had intended on having a rest day, but I also wanted to get back out to see what else was around, close to where I was staying.

I had been staying at the beautiful Alfagar II Aparthotel, which has private access to Praia Santa Eulália. Although I had taken a walk down to the beach on the day I arrived, I really didn’t explore that much. So, I decided to pack up my rucksack and head down to the beach armed with my book and my beach towel ready to explore Praia Santa Eulália.

View from Alfagar Resort
View from Alfagar Resort
View from Alfagar Resort
View from Alfagar Resort
Private access path down to Praia Santa Eulália.

Once I arrived at the beach, I noticed the tide was out, so I decided to keep walking and followed the beach around towards the next cove. The beaches around this part of The Algarve are stunning. They are rugged and wild, but magical and serene at the same time. The cliffs were something else, and their colours are just beautiful.

As I continued my walk around to the next beaches (Praia da Oura Leste and Praia da Oura), I turned back to look at the view. It was such a stunning spot. So it was there that I sat and read my book until lunchtime approached.

After a spot of lunch by beachside restaurant Vivaldo’s it was time to head back to the hotel to enjoy my last afternoon poolside.

The view from Vivaldo’s

As the evening set in, it was time to reflect back on a fantastic trip.

I booked the entire holiday (flights, hotel and transfers) through easyJet, and I couldn’t fault any of it.

The hotel was absolutely stunning and spotlessly clean, the staff were really friendly and helpful, the food at the Buganvilla Snack-Bar where I ate my evening meals was fantastic. The portions were huge, with a wide selection of starters, and main meals. The apple pie was to die for, and the chocolate mousse was simply divine! The evening entertainment was on the cheesy side, but I guess you expect that in resorts, and in actual fact, holidaying in February, I was probably lucky that evening entertainment was on the menu! The little supermarket in Alfagar Village was well stocked with everything you could wish for, including fresh bread, a butchers, and plenty of wine.

I didn’t use all the facilities on site (there is a car rental office on site – not sure I trust myself to drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road yet!), but those I did use were superb. The gym, the spa, the pools, as with the rest of the hotel were spotlessly clean and well looked after.

On my first day, I had a slight problem with my lights not switching on in the apartment, however, I called down to reception, and within 15 minutes the maintenance guy was at my door, ready to fix it for me. 2 minutes later, I had light and had no further problems throughout my stay.

Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel

I had also booked my transfers through easyJet. Finding the meeting point at Faro airport was really straightforward, and only took 30 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel. On the return journey, thankfully I was early, and already in reception, because the transfer was a good 10 minutes early picking me up. We got to the airport early which at least meant I had a bit more time to look around duty free!

And despite landing in windy conditions, both flights were excellent.

All in all, a fantastic holiday!

Where to next I wonder?

(All photos in this blog are my own)

Signing out of 2018

Well here we are, New Years Eve 2018. The last year has once again been full of highs and lows. There have been losses, heartache, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of self discovery. I may not be where I thought I would be at the beginning of 2018, but I sure know me better than I did 12 months ago.

If you read my last post New Year, New Goals,you will know that one of my goals for 2019 is to improve my wellbeing, and in particular my self care.

I am currently working my way through Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips book, ‘Self-care for the real world’. In the book, they talk about keeping a self-care bank of resources which is helpful for those days when everything seems to be running away from you, and those negative thoughts are creeping in. The purpose of the bank is to build up enough resources on your good days, when you have oodles of energy and motivation, to compensate for the days when quite frankly you feel a bit more out of sorts.

So, in my final post of 2018, I thought I would share with you the 5 resources I want to ‘bank up’ for those blergh days, to help see me through, and funnily enough, most of them seem to link in quite nicely to my aims and goals for 2019:

  1. To get outside and exercise. Being surrounded by beautiful parks, there are plenty of opportunites to get out there and get fit. I love being outdoors, so what better way to look after body and mind than to take a jog around the local park.
  2. To make time each week to reflect on my wellbeing, and noticing what my mind and body needs to help me get through the week. I’ve said it before, but the last few months have really opened my eyes to my wellbeing, and I am slowly getting better at identifying what my body and mind need at particular times.
  3. To make time each week to be sociable outside of work, spending time with those who make me laugh and bring the best out of me, but also to spend time with those who have similar interests. What’s better than spending time with those who make you have a good old belly laugh!
  4. To make sure I get enough sleep, ideally with my head hitting the pillow no later than 11pm. I need my sleep, and if I don’t get enough, I’m ratty. But equally, I hate to get up late. The key for me is getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night. So as long as I aim to sleep by 11pm on weekdays and middnight at weekends, by body should get all the rest it needs (with the occasional nap thrown in for good measure).
  5. To not take things personally. The days, weeks even, I have wasted on suffering with imposter syndrome due to one person’s stupid comments, when they have no idea of the way they have made me feel. We never really know what other people are going through and where their heads are at when they make comments to us, yet we can really let their comments affect us.

From the 1st January, I aim to bank as many of these resources as I can to ensure that I have a much happier, more balanced 2019.

As this is my last blog of 2018, I would like to thank all my followers, friends (old and new), and my family, for all your love and support in 2018. I am super excited to see what 2019 has to offer.

Happy New Year folks 🙂

See you on the other side!

Becky xx

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