It hits you when you least expect it

It hits you when you least expect it

Today would have been my Mum’s 70th birthday, had she been alive.

Mum June 2008 - a year before she died

Mum June 2008 – a year before she died

Surprisingly, I’ve been OK today. It was last week that it hit me that we were reaching a landmark birthday, and not celebrating it with her, here, with us. I guess it’s also as my birthday is a few days before hers, that I’m reminded that my Mum wouldn’t be wishing me a Happy Birthday in person.

Why do things hit us when we least expect them to? It can be anything, not just those we miss, can’t it? Sometimes children or friends do things which tug at our heart strings and we ‘go to pieces’ don’t we?

This day last year I wrote about life being too short, whatever age people live to. I then went quiet on you for about 9 months! I found 2013 tough. Really tough. Not just the bereavement of a close friend, or the heartache loved ones had caused us, but just the general, everyday stuff. I was struggling to keep going through my life, and really couldn’t share the experiences with anyone else apart from my family and close friends.

It does help though. To share. And to cry. To just say, “Yep, today is tough, but I’m going to get through it”, or “I really miss x, but they wouldn’t want me to be sad”. Little steps are better than no steps at all, aren’t they?

So, whilst I’m sorry we aren’t celebrating as a family group, Mum’s 70th birthday, I know that like me, many friends are thinking about her today, and all she brought to us in her 65 years she was on this earth. I still love you as much as ever Mum.

I don’t know why ‘it’ does it, but I’m sure it does us good.

What is your No.1 priority?

I mean it – what is it? I’m not talking about that ‘to do’ list you have – 1 for home, 1 for work, plus the household tasks that need doing. What I’m talking about is what you drop everything for. What your energy needs to be focused on, or life doesn’t feel right.

A lot has happened this year. In some ways, more than the past few years, which as you know have been tough. The last few months have been especially tough as I explained last time. But what it has done is made me totally focus my mind and efforts on to what is THE priority in my life.

A few months ago, I may have said financial security. But is that really what I really crave? No. I’m a risk taker, and we’ll be OK, whatever happens.

All the hours I’ve spent developing my business. The laughs, the tears and the stress have all been worthwhile. I still love what I do. I still believe in my business, and still want it to succeed. I’m not fed up with it. But it’s NOT my No.1 priority.

When thinking about actually writing this down, I asked some questions of those I connect with. I totally agree with Susie from New Day New Lesson, when she said, “No one on their death bed has ever said they were sorry they didn’t work more. I also think that if you find the right line of work and are passionate about it , it is not work but rather a way of life.” But, when push comes to shove, even a way of life you love isn’t always a priority.

For me, right now, my No.1 priority is my children. No.2 son is being bullied and he’s not as happy and carefree as he was. No.1 son is obviously affected by it all, especially when he sees things happen in the playground. My husband comes a close 2nd place, and our family and friends are equal 3rd.

We’ve just found out that a friend who my husband went to Uni with is not well. His children are the same age as mine. It’s stunned us, yet again, by how short our lives on earth are.

I’ve had some nasty comments from customers these past few weeks, as my business customer service has not been the best. I’m sorry. I can only apologise. I’ve always prided myself on excellent customer service, but it’s not priority anymore. It’s important, and to continue in business I need to focus on it. But NOT to the detriment of my 8 and 11 year olds who need their mother to be there when they need me.

We all know life is tough, but we often make it harder for ourselves by not thinking through exactly what our priority is. Some of those around me are also re-thinking their priorities. It’s worth just sitting back sometimes and thinking things through.

Us Mums in Business want it all, and to a certain extent can have it all if we work hard and have support. But I’m putting my flag in the sand and saying, right here, that, I’d do anything to have my carefree boy back again who entertains everyone he meets. I may not be able to fix things, but I can certainly do my best for him.

Picking yourself up

Sometimes we go through tough times. It may be work, family, friendships that cause us to be sad, or low. We may be watching someone die, or caring for someone who is poorly. It’s tough isn’t it?

But we also know whilst we’re doing what we need to do, that it has to come to an end somehow. We have to move on from a friendship that is hurting us; we know that our loved one is going to die and be released from their suffering, leaving us behind. So what can we do?

I’m not sure I’ve got the answers, but having gone through some tough times these last couple of years, all I can do is tell you what I’ve done to pick myself up and move on. We’re all different and cope with situations in different ways. The important thing I’ve learnt is to talk to other people, and find a something to focus on to get me through.

When my Mum died I thought I coped pretty well. I got on with organising and arranging and clearing out her things. It was only 6 months later that I knew I needed help to work through my grief. There was all sorts of emotions going on, and I don’t think I was helped by the fact my Dad started seeing another lady 3 months after Mum died. It’s been a lot to cope with!

I knew that bereavement counselling wasn’t what I needed, so I tried Reiki, with a spiritual healer. She’s been fab, and has helped me so much over the past few years to come to terms with the way of the world. She’s worked with me to ensure I focus on the things I can affect, and my own emotions. I no longer get angry when other people are doing things I can’t affect. It’s helped and has been reassuring.

The credit crunch has affected my business, along with every other business in the country in a dramatic way. My growth plan that started before Mum’s prognosis and the credit crunch meant that I was saddled with expensive premises just when sales halved. It’s taken time to get things straight, change strategy and develop a new way of working to support more women through the Bra Lady network, whilst generating a profit.

The thing I’ve learnt here is to keep trying different things. Don’t give up. If you know your business is needed within the market place, then you’ll find a way of developing it, however slowly. If you’ve got the energy and can afford to keep going with it, just do it. You’ll never be happy until you’ve tried to make it work. However difficult the economy is.

Family life is often challenging. As children grow up they want to do different things. As a parent you want to support them, and ensure they get as many opportunities to do different things. It’s got to the stage in our house that we want to give the boys those opportunities, but we have to work out a way of financially supporting that. For us, it wasn’t a difficult decision. We have a lovely old house that needs work doing to it, so we’ve decided to sell up and move on. What’s the point of having a house we can’t afford to be in, whilst the boys are missing out (and we’re missing out on watching them develop new interests)?

So, whilst the last few weeks have been extremeley challenging in so many ways, I’ve managed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and not quite start all over again, but certainly move on in all areas of my life. The next few months are going to be tough. Moving house and all that entails will be a challenge. But, now we’ve made the decision I feel lighter and more able to look at other parts of my life and put things in perspective.

We only get one chance at life. However tough life seems now, we do need to make the most of it. Use your support network to help you through, and choose some simple tasks to achieve each day. The bigger tasks and decisions will follow when the time is right. Small steps is all we can hope to achieve when we’re sad and upset. Those small steps though will help us move towards the sunshine that we want back in our lives.

I’ve got friends who are newly bereaved, and others are watching their loved ones suffer. I’ve got friends who are struggling with their businesses, or have seen their businesses taken away from them. My son’s friend’s Dad died at the weekend. It’s all around us this sadness and upset. But then we see a new born baby, or a beautiful flower or view, and we know we have to live in the here and now. We have to support our children to grow up and be able to cope with all that life will throw at them. My 10 year old son wrote this in a card he’s sending to his bereaved friend “We hope happiness will come back into your life soon.” .

Happy New Year!

Walking together

I’m so pleased January is finally over!

Anyone else had a tough first month to the year? Always difficult when you’re so fired up with resolutions, plans and expectation isn’t it?

Well, today, I’m putting January behind me, and moving forward. As much as it may help to reflect on some of the challenges that came my way in January, I’m not sure that will help me this time. Over the coming few weeks I may share some of the challenges. At the moment some are too raw and unresolved.

So, today, I’m declaring that 3rd February is my NEW YEAR! Yes, we’ve had our Chinese food to celebrate that festival. But today is different! So why today? 3rd February?

It’s my Mum’s birthday! She would have been 68 today. And as my birthday is at the end of January, (and I did have a good relaxing time & put the stresses to one side), February was always about my Mum, and now my second son too.

What would Mum have done in the circumstances I’ve found myself in? I think she’d have busied herself with her friends, activities and crafts. She’d have spoken to her closest friends and got support. She’d have carried on with life and taken everything in an “Oh well, we can’t help it” type of way. So, guess what I’ve been doing? Carrying on, speaking to HER friends as well as my own for support. I can’t think about it really as if she was here, then some of the things that have happended wouldn’t have, (if that makes sense?).

So, apologies for the slightly downbeat post – I know you always expect positivity & motivation from me! Well, sometimes, life happens. And it does affect us. We can’t hide from things that happen. But we do have to deal with them and carry on working towards our goals and living life to the full.

So, today is my New Year’s Day, and I’m so looking forward to the challenges and delights that 2012 are going to bring. Yes, there’s going to be more knocks along the way. But I sincerely hope that I’m strong enough and prepared to deal with them.

Keep looking after me Mum and sending me your love, strength and support. Without your guide I wouldn’t know the right way to go.

What a difference a week makes

Some of you will know I’ve had a tough week. I’ve stopped hiding when life is tough, but often ask for support from online friends. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

This Monday is so different to last week! Last week saw my boys back at school (first day), husband in bed with awful toothache & infection, and me on a treadmill trying to make sure all my jobs, and his jobs were completed. It was very task orientated. The family certainly came first – eating, clothes, activities, and getting hubby well again. The business had to be put on hold. Which isn’t great when you’re a customer facing company!

Today, it’s been a delight. Hard work, and running around in Mum’s taxi tonight to school sportshall competition, then onto their club athletics. But I’ve made it, and feel OK. Tired, but OK.

Our main ‘problem’ this last week has been supporting someone in the family, who lives 100 miles away. The Friday before school started we all dropped what we were doing and took to action stations to support him and his partner. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. We’re not through the worst yet, but this week we’re able to plan our support (and my husband is not in pain, so is able to function within the household).

There’s all sorts of extended family implications with this illness. There’s already been back biting, but hopefully, there’s a plan in place to get through the next few important weeks. Information has been sought, (but not always shared with the right people); plans have been put in place, (but not always seeking help and advice from people who have knowledge or skill); actions are starting to happen. Emotions and tempers amongst close family members have been pushed to the limits.

Even though we should all have seen this coming, whose responsibility is it to check up on someone? Or ask the partner if everything’s OK if you’re concerned about a loved one? Do you check with friends and family about their mental health as well as physical health? How do you ask “do you need professional help?” ? I’d like to know!

I’m sure some of the emergency could have been taken out of our situation with more of the right communication between family members. But I also know that this family is not the best at talking in the right way about the right things. Things have to blow up into a real drama before something is taken seriously, or action is taken. It’s not my way, or the way I’m used to. But it’s A way. I’ve come to understand this is how some people work, even though I can’t affect it, or be effective within this environment.

So, whilst we’re not on red alert right now, we’re probably on amber, waiting for code red to be implemented again. It’s not the easiest state to be in. But, with the right information, right planning and communication of ALL the facts between ALL parties, we’re in a stronger position to help the main parties this week.

A week makes a difference only if you use that time effectively. Depression is a tough illness to deal with and explain to children. Especially at crisis points when code red is what we have to act upon.

Any advice, gratefully received! 😉