Sunday 31 January 2016

Parenting: What to do?

Sometimes parenting is the most difficult job in the world. You are desperate to get it right and then situations present themselves that you have no idea how to tackle and you just have to learn on the job. Yes there are tons of manuals; books ready to tell you the best approach and there are online forums and web articles and in fact dozens of resources but really does anything beat your own intuition?

Every child and every situation is different, I've seen that with just my three children and if I am honest I look at my oldest JJ at age 12 and think that my husband and I aren't doing such a bad job. Yes he is addicted to his computer but he is a good guy all round. He's smart, he cares, he tries hard, he is polite and he is fun to be with. So I think we are right to be trusting our gut and parenting in the way that feels natural to us.

I'm having behavioural challenges with one of my girls at the moment. They are having a tough time at school and keep pushing the boundaries and acting out. This of course leads to consequences from the teacher and the last thing I want at the end of the day is yet another email to tell me of that days mishap!

Wednesday 27 January 2016

The Source of my Satisfaction

All my life I’ve been looking to the wrong place, the wrong source to fill the holes and to help in all situations. When times are tough and I feel down I turn to it, or equally when times are great and I feel elated and high, what do I do to celebrate? I eat; I appear to stuff my face in all situations and it is not at all healthy.

I could tell you I am a real foodie and I just love food but when I really think about it, that is not true. I’m not interested to try all the new tastes and to seek out the very best foods to satisfy my curiosity. In honesty I’m more interested to just eat those things I enjoy and to overdose on them. Food has become my drug of choice.

This needs to change, I’ve known this for many years but what has eluded me is how to change it. Willpower alone is certainly not working, I hate just sitting with that empty feeling when I want to eat. What I need is a different focus and the clues have been there for years but praying instead of eating has never really held a strong enough appeal for me. Luckily last weekend the penny dropped when I heard the same message from two different speakers at our Sunday Celebration.

I need to move my focus from myself to the Father and I have to do this through continued worship. It is my job as a child of God to be continually worshipping and praising Him, this focus on Him will ensure that I do not have time to just wallow in my small issues, I have to focus on the bigger picture. I’ve already being practising the principle of gratitude for many years now and I know the power of praise, I just need to up my game and when I feel that pull to eat, it must act as the trigger to sing and to lose myself in worship for a bit, because when I focus on God rather than myself, I have the natural order right and I feel certain the urge to eat needlessly will go away.

Of course, alongside this I need a god eating plan (I intended that to say good eating plan but actually decided that maybe the typo was God-inspired and I should leave it, as indeed I do need God to be in the plan!) to ensure that I’m getting all the nutrition I need and eating the right things to be able to keep my yearnings under control.

As someone who has had food issues all their life, the changes I need to make will not be easy. Many of the best things in life are not easy but they are necessary, so however hard it feels to change, I have to do it. At the moment I’m on a one way ticket to hell, a living hell on earth where I am trapped in activities that are not glorifying To God. To keep eating and stuffing my face with food to block my emotions and to feed my habit is disrespectful and neglectful but I have to get past chastising myself and I need to focus on the good. He loves me as I am and by making some simple changes, with my focus moving from self to Him, I can love me too and only then will many other elements fall into place and I can find the peace that I so dearly covet.

My dear friend Gordon who has gone through so much just recently encouraged me to grab Gods hand and walk with Him in 2016 and Nicole reminded me that we must give thanks first and then the miracles happen. I’m really looking forward to the miracle this year and seeing how the changes in me impact many other people.

Thanks for reading, Mich x

Monday 25 January 2016

Sturdy School Shoes from Hotter Shoes

Back in September JJ started secondary school and he had a new pair of what looked to be really sturdy leather shoes. Here we are just four and a half months later and they still fit him, but he has worn the leather away at the heels and they now rub. Also the insole is really worn and quite uncomfortable to wear.

With this in mind I got in touch with my shoe store of choice and asked if they might like JJ to put a pair of their men's shoes to the test. Hotter shoes are available online and from over 70 stores in the UK and I am an avid fan. I got my first pair of Hotter boots back in 2010 and I still wear them now, I also have trainers that travelled to Ethiopia with me and a couple of pairs of shoes and they all last this heavy-footed woman really well.

Friday 22 January 2016

Getting the New Year off to a good start

I feel like Christmas is a distant memory now and I'm happy the new year is here; there is still that feeling of expectation and new beginnings. Like anything can happen as it is a fresh canvas awaiting me to draw the picture of 2016.

To be honest I came into the new year without too much thought of what the year ahead would hold and what goals I should be thinking about. I'm really not into New Year's resolutions and I just assume they will be broken, so I stopped making them some years back but I do believe it's good to have a focus and change is the only constant.

Better Health 
Over the last couple of weeks I've spent quite a bit of time in prayer and quiet contemplation of what I should be doing this year and a few focus areas have made them self apparent to me. First off I really need to get a grip on my health. I've been on too many diets in the last thirty odd years since I started to try to lose some weight. The evidence from those last three decades tells me that diets do not work for me, I now realise what I need is small, gradual changes. So I am working on changes a couple of things each month and making them habits for life. It is going to be slow and I'm sure at times boring but it is so necessary and if I can establish all the better behaviours as my norms then the weight cannot fail to fall off and my health improve.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Know your Worth Bloggers.... Pfft

Success on Blackboard from Shutterstock

'Know your worth bloggers' is a phrase I see or hear again and again. On Facebook, in blog posts or spoken about at conferences and let me say from the start I agree you are worth a lot.

But I do resent the blog police telling you what your worth is. Who's business is it if you decide to accept a sponsored post for a payment of £25 or a review for a 75p tin of beans?

When it comes to taking on work, you have to make the decisions, how much money will you accept? What is the lowest value product you will accept? Will you work for goodwill or an owed favour? Whatever you decide is OK, is just that - OK for you.

Personally I've now been blogging for eight years, I have a large readership and a good social media reach. I therefore make the decision that I do not undertake sponsored posts for less than £125 and it is extremely rare for me to review low-value products.

However spin the clock back to 2010 and I'd of happily reviewed some toddler snacks worth about a fiver and I know for sure that all the low value reviews I undertook gave me valuable experience of crafting a good review and developing a strong relationship with PR agencies and brands. Some of my fabulous early opportunities came about because I put in the hard work to nurture a relationship and to learn my trade.

As a new blogger in this completely saturated market, you cannot expect to arrive and be offered the chance to review a holiday and £200 vacuum without having put in some serious work to develop your blog and following first. So yes, please do know your worth but do not allow others to define it for you and make you feel bad.

If you are not being offered £100 for a sponsored post as you do not yet have the reach and domain authority to warrant that then agree a price that you feel is fair and you are happy with and don't listen to any other blogger who tells you that you are letting the side down and devaluing us all. It's just not true,

For years I've been offered £25 posts and been turning them down, there are always dozens of other bloggers willing to take them and that is OK. I've made the decision to say no and know that better opportunities will come up for me, My personal decision is that I'd rather do 2 posts at £150 a piece each month than 12 at £25 to make the same money. You decision might be totally different and I respect your choice to make that decision.

I'm a live and let live kind of woman and I think life would be a lot easier if more of us were but I'm always open to (polite) debate so do share your opinion if you think I'm talking nonsense.

Mich x
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Monday 11 January 2016

I'm talking Bladder Weakness - Because we Should!

Pop Photo Art Oops Image from Shutterstock

I've always been very honest on this blog and to be fair, my raw posts are often the ones that I've received the best responses to. The ones where comments, emails, tweets and even phone calls have poured in. It's not as if I'm shy - I've blogged about my issues around food and overeating, giving birth, having a miscarriage, bleeding all over a swimming pool floor and my foray with PND but I've never (yet) written about bladder weakness.

It's just not the done thing, is it? Do I really want to put it out there and say that I have to wear a pad each day and that I am avidly practising my pelvic floor exercises any time I remember. Yes you could be chatting to me in the playground and I look as if I'm concentrating but really I am squeezing and releasing with the hope that things just might improve down below if I'm a really good girl.

1. Stop the taboo and start talking about it
Sometimes I hear or read friends joking about sneezing or using the trampoline and having a worrying moment of 'wee leakage'. 'Ohh make sure you are wearing a Tena lady' is the standard response but bladder weakness really is still one of those subjects that we just do not talk about in a serious manner and I think we need to.

Sunday 10 January 2016

Little Steps, Big Changes

It’s that time of year again, when we all reflect on our lives and the year gone by and many of us decide to make some changes and set some goals. I’m not a big fan of making resolutions as they feel like pressure I do not need and I’m tempted to break them very quickly, so I struck resolutions off my to-do list quite some years ago now.

I am however passionate about change; things do not stay the same and that is a good thing. As a Christian, I’m learning and growing every day, just like Jesus did and even though on the outside it might look like my life is pretty much the same as this time last year it is the inner me I know that has changed for the better.

There are still plenty of changes that need to be made and the biggest one of all is losing some weight and becoming healthier. In the last year I have been diagnosed with cough variant asthma and early onset arthritis in my knees and that can’t be right for someone who is just 42 years of age. Losing weight has been a goal of mine for near on thirty years so this isn’t going to be an easy one to achieve but then the best things in life are never easy.

I’ve had a bit of a revelation in the last few weeks though and it is encouraging. I’ve been asking myself why I think I can have a different result (i.e. weight loss) when I keep doing the same things? I’m in a terrible pattern of trying to diet or ‘be good’ as I call it at least once a year and for two or three months I am motivated and I can manage to drop a few stone. Then it gets boring and my true love of food rears its head again and off I go in that same spiral of eating and dieting.

My revelation this year has been that I need to make small incremental changes and introduce new habits into my life. Habits for life in fact. The current NHS programme to help educate our nation is called ‘change for life’ and that is exactly what I need to do. Not diet, not ‘be good’, not anything for a short period of time but make long lasting changes.

It’s been fairly easy to identify that I lose all will power and determination as soon as I’m tired so the first change I’ve been making in January has been my bedtime. In bed with the light off by 11pm has been my rule, there has been the odd time later but massive improvements have been made in general. If I want to read my book I go up at 10pm so there is time before the 11pm lights off, not just tag it on the end and find myself still awake at gone midnight as had become the norm.

Hand in hand with this earlier bedtime has been an earlier wake-up time. I like the morning and thus it seems sensible to make the most of it before the house awakens, so at 6.30am I’ve been creeping into the lounge and reading my bible, writing my journal and praying. It’s been a very blessed time.

I now need to ensure that these patterns continue for the foreseeable future. Researchers seem to say that the minimum time it takes to form a habit is 21 days of continuous activity, but the more complex and difficult it is for you to personally adopt that habit the longer it will take. There is no strict formula but UCL suggest a good estimate is 66 days, that’s just over two months, yikes!

I’ve also had a health assessment in January and found out I am 47% fat and that feels like a scary figure but it is just that, a figure. A place I’m starting a journey from, it does not have to define me. There is no more ‘hello I’m Michelle and I’m fat’, it is now ‘hello, I’m Michelle, a child of God’, that is what defines me. It will be incredibly satisfying to watch this fat figure decrease, in more ways than one!

There will be more for me to update you on in coming weeks, but that’s it for now.

First two small steps, early to bed and early to rise. You know what they say about that? I’d be content with healthy, wealthy and wise!

What about you, have you got changes planned this year?

Monday 4 January 2016

10 Family Movies to enjoy on NOW TV

During the run up to Christmas and this last week whilst the kids have still been off school we have been enjoying at least one family film every day. Sometimes all the family together, occasionally just the kids and a variety of family members at other times. It is definitely one of my favourite things to do, snuggle up with at least one of my children and watch a very good movie.

I'm  absolutely loving the variety that NOW TV is giving us. The movie package is probably the one that has been used the most (so far). We have been gifted this but it costs just £9.99 per month and I think that is great value, a trip to the cinema costs nearly that for just one adult. Also the films on NOW TV are good quality and there are over 1000 movies to choose from and up to 16 premieres each month. You won't get bored or run out of things to watch - I promise you!