ONE YEAR WITHOUT MY MUM…

I once went a whole year without seeing my mum. Not because of a fight, but because I was working halfway around the world. Phone and video calls were our saviour during that time. It’s almost been a year again since I was last with her but this time, there will be no tearful and joyous reunion at the Arrivals of a busy airport.

When she was diagnosed with advanced cancer eighteen months ago, my ears were ringing; I could literally hear the blood swishing around in my ears as I tried to remain calm and strong. Incredibly, but unsurprisingly, mum carried on with the same strength and dignity that she always had – traits that stayed with her until her last breath. Death had been kind to the family; our grandparents lived long and fulfilling lives before they passed away so as much as they were dearly missed, there were no feelings of ‘being robbed of time’… until now.

Mum moved into our home and I became her carer. After all, she had looked after me for all of my life (something that I never truly appreciated until I became a mother myself!) and now in her time of need, I wanted to be there for her. Every time there was a hospital appointment and more disconcerting news was given, my stomach would lurch – like it does when waiting in anticipation at the top of a rollercoaster.

My four year-old always had a special bond with her and he was such welcome relief at times. He had developed an aversion to Calpol and would only accept suppositories. When he saw my mum upset one day, he ran for his doctor kit and confidently suggested, “Don’t worry Gran, I’ll get you some medicine for your bum and you’ll be fine!” Needless to say, the mood instantly lifted.

THE SWINGING PENDULUM

After only six months, her last weeks were spent in the beautiful Strathcarron hospice where she could sit outside and watch the sun set across the lake. As time was running out, my emotions swung like a pendulum; the fear of her dying and then praying it would be over quickly so that she’d be at peace. When her time came, I was there to hold her hand, tell her that I’d always talk to her and promise my son would never forget how amazing she was. It was precious.

I couldn’t sleep afterwards for weeks; every night I would dream of mum on her death bed and it was an image that I couldn’t shift. Everywhere I turned, there were reminders of her. I once made her lemon meringue pie but something wasn’t quite right. I actually lifted the phone to call her – an automatic reflex, I guess. I was told often that first anniversaries would be the hardest and it was true, none so more than on her birthday. “Try to remember the fun times” and “Don’t be too sad” were phrases that came up but tears stayed with me all day.

ONE YEAR ON

And so, it is almost the first anniversary of her death. Each day there is a reminder of what was happening this time last year. My memories are awash with photographs and videos of her. Hearing her voice unexpectedly, physically takes my breath away. I know that we are living in an age where we are blessed that technology can gift us with these everlasting memories but sometimes, it breaks my heart just that little bit more.

She is on my mind constantly as the date looms and she’s in my dreams again. My son, now five, has spoken of her every day this week; he asked me out of the blue if we were going to have another funeral as her last one was so much fun (he joined in after the service). I could almost hear her laughing at that one! Mum always believed perfect white feathers are a sign that someone is looking out for you in times of need and it’s always comforting to find one at my feet when I least expect it. I still have days of utter disbelief that she’s actually gone – I just assumed that I’d have her for another twenty years or so.

Regardless of what the circumstances are, losing a loved one that you are particularly close to is harrowing. I believe that grief is the hardest emotion I have ever had to face and this passage sums it up for me:

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

One year on and I’ve learned that the grief and longing will never leave but I’m learning to live around that and enjoying life again, knowing that my mum is cheering me on from wherever she is.

By Lynn Guthrie

One year without my mum by lynn guthrie copywright Ladies Pass It On#lifewithoutmum #mumimissyou #losingaparent

STUNNING LOUISE WADE NECKLACE GIVEAWAY

WIN ONE OF THESE FABULOUS NECKLACES FROM THE LOUISE WADE ‘STARRY NIGHTS’ COLLECTION

To celebrate our first anniversary we are running a series of gorgeous giveaways – this one is my favourite!

I am a huge fan of Louise Wade jewellery and am thrilled that she is working with me to give something back to you all; for your continued support throughout the last year.

THE PRIZE

Choose either this beautiful star necklace or the crescent moon, both from the ‘starry nights’ range…

Louise wade necklace giveaway

LOUISE WADE NECKLACE GIVEAWAYSo, without further ado, to enter and win either the fabulous crescent moon necklace or the stunning star necklace, simply choose one (*or all) of the options below.

(*You may enter more than once using a different option each time).

Winners will be announced on the date provided below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please do share this post with all your friends and don’t forget to visit Louise Wade’s beautiful website

www.louisewade.com

Should You Make Your Bedroom An Electronic-Free Zone?

Could You? Should You?

I had a chat with a friend of mine at the weekend and was pretty interested to hear that she is in week 3 of an electronic-free bedroom and feeling fabulous as a result.

Her reasons for doing this were threefold:
1. She wishes to set the example to her children for the future, so that they don’t expect iPads/phones etc in their rooms. Online bullying is a major factor in this for her, having recently trained as a Childline advisor. She is extremely worried about a childhood spent having direct access to the internet at all times.
2. We happen to share two mutual friends who have both fallen foul to brain tumours in their mid thirties; the advice they have received from specialists, is to never charge anything beside your head when you sleep.
3. She felt she was becoming obsessive with her scrolling of the internet/social media late into the night and first thing in the morning causing disruption to her sleep patterns.

Now, she claims, she is sleeping far more peacefully, and for longer (following a short settling in period) and is really enjoying her bedtime rituals much more as a result.

A little research tells me that this is something we really should all consider doing. I, for one, would really struggle to implement this routine, for the simple reason that my page is read at all times of the day and night across the world and I like to keep track.
However, I am going to give it a go regardless – and set myself some strict timing schedules to stick to.

Should You Make Your Bedroom An Electronic-Free Zone?

Who is with me?

Here are some very good reasons why we should all do this too:

1. Blue light emitted by all the above electronics, suppresses melatonin production, which directly affects how we sleep.
2. Stimulation from your phone and iPads is proven to affect how you fall asleep and for quite some time after.
3. Relationships can reportedly be affected by partners paying far more attention to their phones than each other. You can guess the rest.
4. Poor sleep can affect productivity and cause weight gain, from early childhood on.
5. No one really knows how the latest smartphones affect our health but links have been made to many health issues, better to be safe than sorry and get into a great routine that includes a 7 hour break minimum, right?

 

Let me know your thoughts on this please ladies and whether or not you are one step ahead and living this out right now…

 

 

This Teacher Deals With Class Bullies Just Perfectly – Pass This On – We all Need To Know This

This story shared by a teacher (she wishes to remain anonymous), is circling the internet right now and I could not love it more…please pass it on ladies. We all need to be so much more aware of how to stamp this out early on.
Repost: Kate Burke
__
So I usually post things to make you laugh, but this powerful moment I had with my year 3/4 class today may just make you cry.

I have one student in my class who gets picked on because she looks, talks and acts a little different to everyone else. I’ve picked up a few awful things that have been said to her over this a year and tried to stamp it out. But today things really came to light as another student told me all the things kids say about this girl that hasn’t been reported to teachers. I spoke to the girl being picked on and she started telling me more things that people have done and said to her. It was awful stuff and needed to be addressed urgently as a very serious bullying issue.

So in the afternoon session I told this girl and her friend that another teacher needed some help with her younger students and would they be willing to help? They jumped at the opportunity and so were out of the classroom for the afternoon while I addressed the bullying with my kids.
I started with a very serious tone. I said to my class. “I need to talk to you about something very serious. It’s about a student in our class and I’m very sad about it.”

Bullying

They all gasped, not knowing what was going to come out of my mouth. I told them the student’s name and said “I am going to write on the board every single name that I’ve heard or been told that people have said to her.”
I started writing on the board words like cow, spastic, dumb, stupid, moron.

My kids were in shock seeing these words on the board. I then asked for other kids to put up their hand and tell me other names that this girl has been called.

The list didn’t stop. I wrote all of them on the board. Crazy, mental, f word (I didn’t write the actual swear word but the first letter), b word, slow.

Soon the entire board was jam packed with awful, awful words. I needed my whole class to be confronted by the amount of hurtful words that this girl has been carrying. The whole time there were gasps and whispers of “that’s horrible! That’s so mean!”

I looked at the board then looked at my kids, close to tears, and said, “this makes me want to cry.”

They nodded and some of them had tears in their eyes. I said “raise your hand if you feel like crying too.” They all raised their hands as a tear or two slipped down some of their cheeks.

I said “if she’s hearing all those words, how is that making her feel?”

My kids answered and I wrote them down, “depressed, sad, hurt, broken heart, not wanting to come to school, feeling different to everyone else.”

Then I said “what do you think these words make her think about herself?” They were confused for a second so I said, “if someone says to her ‘you’re ugly’ does she think well that’s not true.”
“Yes,” my kids nodded.
“No,” I shook my head.

“If you hear those words over and over again ‘you’re ugly’ you actually start to think ‘I’m ugly.’ If people are telling you ‘you’re disgusting’ over and over again you’re eventually going to start thinking ‘I’m disgusting.'”

My kids stared at me wide eyed. I said to them “your words have SO much power that they can actually change the way someone thinks about themselves.”

There was more shocked silence as that sunk in. That was new information to them.

Then I said “how can we fix this?”
They said “can we write cards and letters to her?”
“Yes,” I said, “I think that would be a good thing to do. And if you know that you’ve said one or more of these things to her, make sure you say sorry in your card. Let’s write lots and lots of nice and kind words that she can hear instead of the nasty ones.”

My kids jumped at the opportunity to make cards. I brought out multi-coloured paper, they all chose a colour and made THE most beautiful cards I have ever seen kids make. Everyone’s design for their card was different and unique. And everyone, I’m talking everyone, wrote words of kindness and apologies in their cards. Many of the boys that had been calling her names chose pink paper, drew hearts for her and wrote nice things about her in it.
Other kids covered their cards full of their own stickers from their pencil case. One of my kids showed me a sticker she put on her card and said, “miss I’ve been saving this sticker for Santa since the beginning of last year and I was going to put it on Santa’s card this Christmas, it’s my most special special sticker. But today I decided to put it on this card for [girls name that has been picked on].”
Another tough boy in my class who frequently puts others down said to me sadly, “Miss my brain is crying. Because I said mean things to her.”
That melted my heart. I said to him, “that’s a good thing your brain is crying, it means you feel really sorry.”
Another boy wrote in his card, “if anyone ever bullies you on the playground, just come to me and I’ll help you.”

It hit home for all of them. It completely changed their view of this girl and their attitude toward her. It was a powerful powerful moment of change. They are now all so eager to encourage her, and they are determined that if they hear anyone bullying her on the playground; that they will stand up for her.

At the end of the day I called the teacher to send the girl and her friend back to my class.
I told my class not to make a big deal when she comes back in, just act as normal and when the bell goes I’ll take her aside and tell her what we talked about and give her a big envelope with everyone’s cards in it.

So when the bell went I took her aside and said “I have something really cool to show you. Come with me.” She followed me and I showed her the big envelope.
“I had a talk to the class about the mean words they are saying to you. They all are sorry and they feel really bad. And they all wrote you really nice cards. They said it’s going to stop from now on, no more bullying. And [boys name] said if you are bullied on the playground come to him and he will help you.”

I could see she was about to burst into tears. I gave her the envelope and said “you can take this home with you and when you get home you can read all the lovely things that everyone wrote to you.”

Her face broke into a smile. She skipped and ran excitedly toward her siblings as she went out of the classroom with the envelope in her hands.

Tomorrow is going to be a very different day.
It’s moments like these that I live for in my teaching career. And such a powerful way to address bullying. Sometimes kids need an in your face lesson to truly understand the impact bullying has on others.

LESSONS LEARNED IN THE FACE OF A WILDFIRE

Lessons Learned in the Face of a Wildfire
By Fran Braga Meininger

I watched as the gust whipped the oaks above me, sleepless with worry, expecting at any moment to hear the crack of a branch crashing through my roof. But it was something far more ferocious and insidious that sprang me from my bed at 1:00 am. First I heard the sirens then noticed the eerie glow beyond the trees to the north. Fire.

Lessons learned in the face of a wildfire/ forest firesI dressed in a rush as I peered out every window, but couldn’t get a clear view. So I grabbed my keys, called my dog to follow me and ran for the car. As I drove around the curve to the highway, the vista opened up to reveal the flames, already engulfing the entire ridge of the Mayacama Mountains and burning down toward the valley floor. I feared for the safety of so many friends who live within the bounds of what was on fire but I was helpless to do anything but send up hope for their safety. I had no time to spare. The wind was driving the flames my way. I drove back through shards of eucalyptus bark swirling through the air and dodged branches that littered the roadway. My heart pounded as I made a mental list of what I needed to pack.

I announced the situation to my husband, who refused to share my concern, as my phone lit up with messages from neighbors preparing to evacuate. I did the same, grabbing what I needed for myself and my dog, telling my husband I was going with or without him. I went without him.

Lesson #1 Ultimately, I am only responsible for myself.

With the dog settled on her bed in the back seat, one small bag hastily stuffed with clothes, phone, charger, cash, water, a flashlight and a small box with photos, my yearbooks and a childhood scrape book, I drove away not knowing if I would ever return to my home of 23 years.

Lesson #2 When it’s imperative; I know what is important.

I drove into town with no destination, only a primal instinct to get away from the flames. I was not alone, many others headed into Sonoma in the dark of night, the glow growing distant in the rear view mirror. But as I drove south, I found the eastern horizon also lit up, a fire burned farther south on the same mountain range, an update on my phone later that morning would reveal the situation; 14 fires burning simultaneously throughout our valley and just beyond.

I pulled into the high school parking lot to get a clear view and found there a group huddled together, exchanging information and kind words. I joined them. We were each from a different part of the valley and obviously of different financial circumstance reflected in the row of vehicles parked side by side, a beat up pick up, a ranch truck with vineyard tools in the back, a Tesla and my Prius, but right that moment it mattered not one bit. We were fellow humans sharing a devastating situation and offering each other comfort.

Lesson #3 In the face of adversity kindness and compassion prevail.

Finally, a call from my husband, who realized for himself that the situation was indeed as dire as I reported; he was on his way.

I drove through town in search of companionship and a coffee. The Safeway parking lot was nearly full. People milling about looking up at the horizon watching the glow increase in area and brightness, everyone making calls. I found a few ladies inside sitting near the closed Starbuck’s counter. Not having anywhere else to go and not wanting to be out there alone, I joined them. I monitored the situation via social media and listened as they recounted their experiences and voiced their concerns for those who would not leave and those from whom they had not heard. It was universal. Everyone was more concerned for others than themselves.

The magnitude of what was to come still had not quite sunk in. I honestly expected to return to my normal life after a few hours of fear and uncertainty. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My husband finally arrived. We stocked up on some fresh fruit, water and snacks to sustain us for a few hours and exchanged texts with those from our neighborhood who were now out of the fire zone and checking in. We decided to see if we could find coffee and the comfort of normalcy in an abnormal situation.

A sidewalk café on the Plaza was open and busy. We sat our faces buried in our phones searching for updates and shared what we found with those at other tables doing the same. When everyone began to relate where they had just evacuated, it became acutely apparent how widespread the fires were. They extended far beyond the boundaries of our valley; to the east In Napa, to the west in Bennett Valley and to the north in Santa Rosa. The world as we knew it was burning.

A friend sent a message offering breakfast and the chance to watch some television coverage. I spent the next few hours watching the visual evidence of the widespread destruction, but what troubled me the most was the personal and intimate pain of loss of those I knew and loved. The fire erupted with such fury people fled their homes with only their loved ones and pets and the rest was now scattered as ash. I didn’t understand it was only the beginning.

Lesson #4 The reaction to tragedy comes in waves.

I watched in horror, the scenes perceived as a drama that couldn’t possibly be real. I would feel my heart break and then a reflex response would take over and I would shake it off for the time being. There was no time now to grieve. I had to plan and react. But what to do? How to help? I noticed an unfamiliar lack of focus and the inability to make a definite decision. I also felt devoid of the energy to rally and push through whatever I would face. I felt the first sense of defeat. It would not be the last.

Lesson #5 There are times when powerlessness is inevitable and unavoidable.

The next few days melted together. Seeking shelter as the fire expanded, staying with friends who offered a safe place only to be evacuated with them as their homes were threatened. The most important tool of the days and nights that followed were my phone and my laptop, which the writer in me threw in the bag as I rushed from my home knowing I would need to write.

Practically everyone I loved was within the fire zone. I realized one morning that all of my close circle was displaced just as I was. There was not a safe haven among us. We had been scattered in the wind like the ash of the fire that chased us from our homes, our serenity and our security. But, we stayed connected with constant calls, texts, Facebook posts and emails.

Lesson #6 No matter where you go those you love travel with you.

As the fire grew to the largest in recent history, consuming hundreds of thousands of acres and destroying most of what it touched, I found myself oddly passive. There was no anger, no rage. My usual spirited reaction to anything that frightened or threatened me was gone. I couldn’t fight this. It was bigger, stronger and more threatening than any defense I could muster. I had to run, admit defeat and simple adapt to whatever it left in its wake.

I felt an unfamiliar calm resolve to the possibility that my home may be gone. I thought of what I might do if that were true and I had no idea, at least not within that moment. I simply did not have the energy or imagination to conjure up the multiple scenarios necessary to react with any source of resilience. I was defeated. Depleted and left to settle into a contentment of temporary safety and the knowledge that everyone I loved was safe, for now.

Lesson #7 Life isn’t meant to push around and sometimes when it gets tough, you just can’t fight back.

On the fifth night of its constant flow in all directions through every hill surrounding us, the fire threatened the entire town of Sonoma. My childhood girlfriend in tow, we moved father west. I once again drove away from the flames, without a plan of what would come next, but knowing there was no choice than to gather up the few things that represented my tentative security and flee once again. We settled in and watched the reports all night, hoping the center of our tightly knit community would not be leveled.

The morning brought varied news. Some had been spared but as the reports trickled in of more and more of my neighbors’ and friends’ loss of home, pets and livelihood I sank deeper into a place of suspended existence, filled with nothing but a numbness that softened the sorrow that was too intense to allow to the surface. It was too soon. A lump tightened in my throat as I tried to speak of what I learned, but I fought back the tears and swallowed hard to hold myself together. I couldn’t grieve yet. This was only one of many waves of sorrow that would wash me up on the shore of this reality limp and exhausted.

Lesson #8 No amount of personal discovery, therapy or self-help techniques hold you unharmed when the world burns. You are a victim.

The smoke followed like a caustic reminder that the world I left behind was still under attack. I couldn’t go outside, feel the sun on my skin, find a breath of fresh air or hear the sound of birds anywhere. I was trapped indoors, the stench of the acrid smoke bitter in my mouth. The days became a series of ordinary tasks, shopping for essentials, preparing food, taking a shower; all now a privilege that no longer could be taken for granted. The knowledge that over 40,000 people, like me, were evacuated and some did not enjoy such luxuries as running water, electricity and fresh food weighed on me. I felt the need to help, to reach out a strong hand to lift them up but I was standing knee deep in the mire of my own situation unable to do so.

We moved farther west to the Russian River in hopes that the air would be clean and it was. I found a small motel, one of the only with an available room. I was concerned I would be turned away because of my dog, but the owner, a dark East Indian man with large, gentle eyes and a broad smile, bent the rules when he asked where I was from and learned I had been evacuated. I felt the kindness and compassionate of a close friend emanate from him even though we had only talked for a few minutes. He gave me the best room he had overlooking the river from a private deck. I immediately felt my heart relax and my soul begin to heal as I carried my bag up the stairs and heard the sound of birds for the first time in a week. As I led my dog to the room, the motel owner called to me and asked where we planned to have dinner. I told him I had not planned that far yet, to which he reassured me not to worry. He was fixing Indian food for a friend who was joining his family for dinner and he would bring us a plate. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Tears welled up that had been waiting to be released and I thanked him from the bottom of my heart.

Sitting on the deck overlooking the river as the sun set, I realized I had been humbled at the feet of this fire. It had forced me to run, consumed my life and caused me to live each moment differently than ever before. I found within the powerlessness, a peaceful resolve. I no longer struggled to control the uncontrollable and I let go, at least for a time. My innate and ever present determination to plan, orchestrate and manifest my own destiny had met its match. I was defeated and enlightened at the same time. I was at peace with the temporary and found a sense of deep comfort in the simple, moment to moment joys that interspersed themselves within this tragedy. I found myself being more honest in my emotions, saying I love you far more often, looking into stranger’s eyes and asking with a genuine concern how they were. I accepted charity gratefully and without the defense of pride.

These have been some of the most challenging, horrifying and painful days of my life. But they have not come without some blessings and lessons.

Lesson # 9 Everything that happens, no matter how difficult, brings with it something of value. If I pay attention and allow it, I will be changed; perhaps for the better.

THE NIGHT I WAS SAVED BY A GHOST

THE NIGHT I WAS SAVED BY A GHOST

Okay so before we begin, let’s get something straight. I am no tree-hugging, spirit-loving hippy… (pretty sure that’s the general stigma with people who see ghosts?) I am a normal mum of two, who kind of believes and kind of doesn’t.

However, last week I had a very close call. A brush with something frighteningly sobering.

Some of you may have read about the towels which caught fire in my laundry room – fresh from the dryer? We took them out of the dryer and went to bed as normal and I promptly fell into a much-needed sleep. You know that kind of sleep when your head hits the pillow and you smile because you just know you will be out like a light? So, off to the land of nod I go, fast-track, it was 11.30 (I remember the time because I enjoy making a note of how many blissful hours of sleep I am about to have, does anyone else do that?)

Anyway, I digress.
At 12.15 I woke up with a start. I looked at the clock and with disdain thought to myself, why am I awake now?! I was so sure I was out for the duration. So I rolled over in a grump to try and get back off, when I noticed a strange smell. I soon realised it was burning. I woke up my husband but he could smell nothing.

I ventured off to investigate only to realise quite quickly that the house was on fire somewhere, I was sure of it. Smoke fumes were stinging my eyes and my throat in the hallway.

Turns out the towels in the laundry room were heavily smouldering and whilst the house was not yet on fire, it soon would be. As we threw them outside, the air hit them and poof – up they went into flames. Terrifying.

Worse, we had just finished a huge extension downstairs, literally the day before, and so the nearest smoke alarm was in the front hallway and in our bedrooms upstairs – they would have taken a while to sense the problem. We had ‘install new smoke alarms’ on our to-do list for the weekend, which was, in fact, the very next day. You couldn’t make it up.

So, let’s backtrack a little…why did I wake up. It really confused me because I was so very tired and my sleep patterns are pretty regular. I either take ages to get off or I fall asleep instantly, but when I am out, I am out until the kids or a noise wakes me up. Like most mums I am tuned into the kids but block out mostly everything else.

The next morning all I could think about was my Gran who passed away 3 years ago. We were so very close and for some reason she was on my mind.

My husband and I were in bed chatting over a coffee about what a close call we had had the night before – and how grateful we were that it didn’t escalate any further. I hadn’t said my Gran’s name when he voiced my thoughts ‘Do you think it was your gran who woke you?’

As I looked at him, thinking how strange he should say that, the wall light next to our bed went on.

It just went on.

We were nowhere near it.

We couldn’t find words or the power to move for a few minutes.

The light is a mirror which my husband lovingly turned into a light. It’s powered by a switch, like most lights are, and like I say, we were nowhere near it.

What do you think ladies? Have you ever experienced anything similiar?

 

 

 

THE MISSING PEOPLE

THE MISSING PEOPLE

Grief, is something that we all have an experience of. The pain, the shocking, never-ending depth of the loneliness, the suffocating sadness.

The things you wished you’d said – the things you wished you hadn’t said.

But imagine if you someone you love, simply disappeared one day, never to return. 

Whether you are the parent, the child, the partner, the friend, the sibling. The not knowing whether they are dead or alive, the insomnia-inducing imaginings of their suffering, must be absolutely mind-blowingly maddening….

Last year, a choir appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, a choir made up of people whose loved one’s were missing. The singers all had one thing in common – their unending heartache. It really brought home to me that there are thousands upon thousands of people simply missing all over the world.

After the initial ‘emergency’ period is over – no one is helping to look for them, except their friends and family of course – they never give up. They are left in a limbo that none of us would wish on our worst enemies.

As a result of the above talent show appearance, 2 of the missing people were found. One was a 13 year old boy who appeared in the video below. He saw himself on the screen and has safely returned home.

Can you even imagine the relief of that? I cannot.

So, please continue to share this video and any other missing posts you come across in future. We can all help to reunite these people somehow.

This will put shivers all over your body…

HELP THE HURRICANE IRMA APPEAL

Children across the Caribbean are in immediate danger

Right now up to 10 million children across the Caribbean are at risk as Hurricane Irma has devastated homes, schools and hospitals. Hurricane Irma is the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded, and children and families across the region have faced extreme winds, flooding, landslides and storm surges.

With roads, homes and schools destroyed, essential services have been cut off. Children in the Caribbean urgently need essential supplies like clean water to stop the spread of deadly diseases and prevent loss of lives.

Donate today and help keep vulnerable children safe

Whenever or wherever disaster strikes, Unicef responds rapidly to deliver clean water, emergency food and medicine to help keep vulnerable children safe.

Right now Unicef has teams on the ground ready to protect children affected by Hurricane Irma by delivering emergency supplies including water purification tablets, hygiene kits, life-saving food, medicine and tents for families whose homes have been destroyed.

Your gift will go directly to help children and families in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma. By donating today, you can help us save children’s lives.

Donating by phone

If you’re in the UK and would prefer to make a donation to our Hurricane Irma appeal by phone, you can call our dedicated donation line: 0300 330 5699.

For the first 12 months, monthly donations made to this appeal will go to children across the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma. After that they will go to our Children’s Emergency Fund. In the unlikely event that the funds raised exceed Unicef’s funding requirements for this appeal, your one off or monthly gift will also go to the Children’s Emergency Fund.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Help the hurricane Irma apppeal

IS THIS THE SWEETEST/MOST TERRIFYING PROPOSAL EVER?

I don’t know about you guys but my other half is not nearly as inventive as this guy – although I am not sure I would forgIve him the pretence of an engine failure!

Fair to say she handled it very well. Bodes well for their relationship I would say!

I would love to hear some of your proposal stories ladies – hit me with them here or over on facebook. 

Source: Virality

THIS IS SALLY, SALLY LOVES HERSELF, BE LIKE SALLY…

THIS IS SALLY

WOMAN POSING NUDE, LOVE YOUR BODY NOW

Sally is a reader of this page.

Sally is not an exhibitionist.

Sally is like many women of a certain age – who wake up one day and realise what life is all about – that they have denied themselves a certain type of peace for so very long…

And it’s time for that to just stop.

Sally is awesome.

Be like Sally.

Love yourself.

Right here, right now.

I hope that you will share this far an wide so that Sally’s brave display can inspire many other women – not specifically to show your body on social media, that is not for everyone…

But to show your body that you accept it, fully and with welcome, loving arms. Even if it is just between the two of you.

Thank you Sally.

Ladies, please enjoy some of the wonderful and positive messages Sally has to share…

“As I went through my twenties, through the next decades, and weight came on, I felt like less than. Less than the polished look that is blasted from social media outlets. Less than women who are sizes smaller, with cute round tummies, not a large belly like mine. And into menopause when I began to feel like even less, less of a woman, less.”

“I gave grace to other women, encouraging them to realise how beautiful their bodies are, not to compare, not to degrade themselves. To be confident in their own individuality, that all shapes are beautiful. And yet I did not allow myself the same grace.”

“At nearly 60, I see now that my beauty IS real. Not diminished by ageing or the belly that I disdain. The belly is REAL.
Here I am. Whole. All of me.”

 

 

Image by Jade Beall photography

UNRAVELLING…

Unravelling”
By Fran Meininger

UnravellingI’m that old sweater. You know the one. We all have it, in the bottom of the bottom drawer or the very back of your closet. It’s been there forever. You got it in college. It was your favorite. You wore it with panache and loved how it hugged your beautiful, young, voluptuous and shapely breasts, back then, before they did what they’ve done now. But it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t look like it did and neither do you. You are fond of it for what it represents. It is a memento of who you were once and how you looked in it.
But now it’s unravelling at the cuffs and the collar. The seams are splitting and the shoulders are misshapen. It’s really done. It has lost what it once had and needs to go.
I’m like that too. I’ve lost what I once had. I don’t look the same. Things aren’t as perky, as tight and firm. I’m not as bright or witty. I think differently, my perspective and my opinions have shifted. My emotions still run deep but they are now tempered with a dose of patience. The candlelight doesn’t dance in my eyes as it once did. But I still have a flame.
I am unravelling in places. I’m starting to shed what I once wore so proudly. I’m taking off what I’ve outgrown and doesn’t fit any longer. I’m allowing what is underneath to show through. One strand at a time, slowly I’m unravelling.
I’m being freed from the shrunken and twisted seams that pull too tightly around my arms. They are tearing away and giving me room. I can finally breathe, stretch, allow my chest to rise with a full breath and exhale. I’m not tied up in knots anymore. The threads have loosened in all the right places and I am tugging at the ends, watching as slowly they come away and reveal below a whole other me.
I’m unravelling into something else, someone else. A new sweater that suits me, fits my curves as they are now, adorns this beautiful and womanly figure that I live within. I stand straight and strong. I know who I am now. I know what matters the most and where I want to end up. I may not be done unravelling yet, but I’m on my way, I just need to keep pulling the loose threads.

Fran meininger/ Unravellin

THE 1O THINGS I’VE LEARNED SINCE LOSING MY SON

I read this and simply had to share it with you all, thank you so much to Richard for allowing me to. The words speak for themselves…

THE 10 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I’VE LEARNED SINCE LOSING MY SON
By Richard Pringle

1. You can never ever kiss and love too much.

2. You always have time. Stop what you’re doing and play, even if it’s just for minute. Nothing’s that important that it can’t wait.

3. Take as many photos and record as many videos as humanly possible. One day that might be all you have.

4. Don’t spend money, spend time. You think what you spend matters? It doesn’t. What you do matters. Jump in puddles, go for walks. Swim in the sea, build a camp and have fun. That’s all they want. I can’t remember what we bought Hughie I can only remember what we did.

5. Sing. Sing songs together. My happiest memories are of Hughie sitting on my shoulders or sitting next to me in the car singing our favourite songs. Memories are created in music.

6. Cherish the simplest of things. Night times, bedtimes, reading stories. Dinners together. Lazy Sundays. Cherish the simplest of times. They are what I miss the most. Don’t let those special times pass you by unnoticed.

7. Always kiss those you love goodbye and if you forget. Go back and kiss them. You never know if it’s the last time you’ll get the chance.

8. Make boring things fun. Shopping trips, car journeys, walking to the shops. Be silly, tell jokes, laugh, smile and enjoy yourselves. They’re only chores if you treat them like that. Life is too short not to have fun.

9. Keep a journal. Write down everything your little ones do that lights up your world. The funny things they say, the cute things they do. We only started doing this after we lost Hughie. We wanted to remember everything. Now we do it for Hettie and we will for Hennie too. You’ll have these memories written down forever and when you’re older you can look back and cherish every moment.

10. If you have your children with you. To kiss goodnight. To have breakfast with. To walk to school. To take to university. To watch get married. You are blessed. Never ever forget that.

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY WIFE

We shared a post on our Facebook page a few weeks ago (10 things every woman should know), which has had a breath-taking response and amongst the comments there are some seriously uplifting messages…. I have been blown away by the beauty of it all!

Amongst them, one particular man stood out and has kindly gathered his thoughts for us all to enjoy…Thank you Will!

Enjoy ladies, this is just beautiful.

An Open Letter To My Wife,

In case you ever forget.

You were the first person on earth to ever believe in me, to never give up on me (including me). You saw my value as a man long before anyone else ever did. You taught me how to trust people and be vulnerable by trusting me enough to be vulnerable with me. You never quit on me, no matter how many reasons I gave you to. You wouldn’t walk away, even when I told you to. Most people who think that you are the lucky one have forgotten that, and you are content to let them. I want you to know that I have not forgotten. That I never will, and that I could never repay you even if I had two lifetimes to do it. As Cliche’ as it may sound, I am everything I am because you loved me.

You subjected your body to stretch marks, malnourishment and weight gain to lay down and give me children.That’s the greatest gift that any woman can give to any man.You let me touch your belly even when you despised it, because you knew it brought me peace. Know that in your scars I see your sacrifice and the faces of our children and grandchildren and that there’s nothing on earth more beautiful than that.

You are so incredibly beautiful when you you have all of our kids in one place, or you hold our grandchildren. I love how your eyes light up like you won the lottery when you see a new bud on one of your plants. I love how you can be so simple and complex, so strong and vulnerable at the same time. I’m in constant awe of you. The way you smile, or sleep til noon. How you need two hours of “quiet time” every morning. How you do random things like jump out of the car before I even stop to run in the house and hide. You have no idea how bad I need things like that some days.
I love that all of your little quirks..the things that used to drive me crazy about you, now drive me crazy in the exact opposite way.
Most of all I love that you chose me…ME.. out of everyone on earth to be the one person lucky enough to know you in that way.

We have both been blessed however I can trace every single blessing that I have received back to you. Your patience, your wisdom, your strength and compassion. The grace that you have displayed and that you shown me for the last 30 years. You are not only blessed my love..you are a blessing…I LOVE YOU and I adore you more than I could ever put into words, but I did my best…muahh!!
Will Sexton

LADIES AT WORK: TOTES TALKS

Something we are seeing more and more of on social media these days is the appearance of personalities who are so delightfully different, refreshingly real or fascinatingly frank that they rocket overnight into celebrity status… one such personality I have recently started to follow is Totes Innapropes….there is not a day in which this woman fails to make me spit my coffee out as a result of her laser-like wit. A self-confessed ‘fashion forward bitch’ who loves to rant and rave about motherhood, marriage and womanhood in general…saying the things many of us are thinking but daren’t speak of! What’s not to love?

Here is an example of her daily posts..

The Totes Inappropes guide to making friends and influencing people.

Do you need more friends? Do you want to be liked and respected. Would you like to be well thought of by colleagues and acquaintances.
Follow these simple steps and everybody will love you.

When leaving the house to enjoy drinks with friends, make sure that you are already half cut before joining them.

Loudly demand of the bar staff “do you know who I am?”

When they say that they do know who you are say “well that’s ok then”

Don’t forget to drink way too much and complain to anybody that will listen that it’s your husbands fault that you are drunk as he’s a tosser.

When the establishment that you are drinking at closes, simply demand that everybody comes back to your home.

Upon entering your home provide entertainment by means of contemporary dance.
Don’t bother to make sure that your friends are comfortable and well looked after or that they have snacks – just show off a lot and generally be an arsehole.

If it’s a works drinks reception you could always fall asleep at the table.

You may want to create a dance floor where none exists in a pub and pull all of the patrons of said pub onto your imaginary dance floor until you get thrown out of the pub.

At this point you could ask everybody if they know a dealer that will deliver something that will keep you going.

I could keep going but you get the picture. This all comes very naturally to me. You may have to work on the technique a bit but it is really very effective.

Have you got a specific question on this sort of thing? I’m not only a fashion forward bitch and parenting guru. I’ve now added an advice column to my repertoire. Simply send me a message that starts “Dear Totes” and I will respond if I’m not too busy influencing people or making friends.

 

It is with great pleasure therefore that I present to you our latest Ladies At Work interview featuring Totes herself…

Totes…for those who don’t already follow you, how would you describe yourself?

I’m a fashion forward bitch that talks shit on Facebook whilst drinking wine and being a mother to three delightful children.

Tell us how your blogging notoriety came about in the first place?

I started writing the blog to wind my husband up about what I wore to work. I would give myself a mark out of 10 for achieving a grimace. He particularly disliked my metallic leather hot pants. You need to know that we work together in an office. I started writing about all sorts of other things and got nowhere until I wrote a post about my children not eating fish pie. 3.8million people read it. The rest is history and still in the making.

What is the best thing about being Totes?

The best thing about being Totes is lots of people say Hi and I get the occasional new frock or pair of shoes for free. The worst thing is that people can be a little unkind sometimes. A couple of people have taken a violent dislike to me and that has caused a few problems.

What was life like before your daily updates to your fan base?

My life was pretty just the same. I was a bit boring when the kids were little as I didn’t get out much.

What would you do if you were in charge of the country for a week?

If I were prime minister for a week – I’d stop Brexit, sort the NHS out and get some corporation tax out of the big companies that aren’t paying.

You can only wear one pair off shoes and one outfit for a year – what is it?

One pair of shoes would be silver and clumpy and probably a denim boiler suit as it would be practical. Let’s hope that it never happens.


Who or what inspires your fashion choices?

Nobody really – is that bad? I was recently likened to Christopher Biggins which I think was meant to be an insult but I quite liked it.

Any future world-domination plans you can share with us?

I’ve no immediate plans to take over the world but I would like to write a book, get my own TV programme and there’s always the piss up in the brewery to look forward to (see Totes page for explanation!) I’m not setting my sights that high really? Short term I have the Liverpool Marathon to run and I’d like to do another sub 4 hour marathon

Give me your ultimate Dinner Party Guest line-up!

Mmmmm dinner party guests. I’d like David Bowie, Prince, Michael hutchence, Boy George, Anhoni from anthony and the Johnson’s, Lou Reid, Francis Bacon, Bjork, Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon because I’ve just been obsessed with Big little lies. You’d need like the chemical brothers or somebody fun to do the music, and Dangerous.
Gosh that was hard.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Never eat yellow snow

There you have it ladies! If you aren’t following Totes already I very much suggest that you do – you won’t regret it…

www.totes-inappropes.co.uk

#SOLIDARITEA – STAND TOGETHER FOR OUR SLUMMY MUMS!

Presuming you’ve read today’s Daily Mail piece, attacking our favourite Mummy bloggers (if not read it here) then you will no doubt have an opinion to vent. Whilst I do believe there is a small amount of women out there who don’t appreciate this revolution in non-judgemental ‘we all make mistakes’ parenting, it’s safe to say the majority of us are relieved, entertained and comforted on a daily basis and cannot get enough!

I have read each of the aforementioned blogger’s reactions today and what I have heard is real women, who happen to very talented communicators, fending off a nasty and vile attack on their livelihoods, families and lives in general. Then, I have watched them rally together, garner support from their loyal following and steel themselves – validated in the reaction from the people they value and ready to feed another fish finger tea and swear a lot. They also feed wonderful meals to their beloved families more often than not and worry, kiss and fuss just like the rest of us. We are all in this together ladies and it’s bloody well hard.

This kind of women-power show of support is EXACTLY the essence behind this site and I for one am all over it! If you’d like to join in with your support then use the hashtag #solidaritea and share this image on your Facebook.

COME ON LADIES LET’S STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHT TO SAY WHATEVER WE DAMN WELL LIKE WITHOUT JUDGEMENT!

YOU MADE YOUR MUM A STAR

There is a very sweet story behind this article actually…

As I chose and emailed the winner of our ‘Make Your Mum A Star’ competition  a few weeks ago, I had no idea it was one of my wonderful school friends, whose Mum I remember very fondly indeed even though I moved away many years ago.

So, Mrs Davidson, it is your moment to be applauded and praised for being such a wonderful, supportive and inspiring Mum. Here is what your daughter Nicola had to say…

My mum left school aged 15 with no qualifications. By the time she was 32, through circumstances beyond her control, her marriage broke down and she was alone with my brother and I. To give us the chance at a better life she moved us from Glasgow, away from her lovely home and all her friends, to a small town in the Hill-foots of Scotland, to start again from scratch. Money was tight but we wanted for nothing and had unconditional love. Every day.

My mum took part time jobs when we were young, simply so she could spend time with us in the evening after school. As we got older she became first a traffic warden and then a Station Assistant at the local Police Office where she has been for 28 years now and is a credit to the force.

Not only has she raised tow children who, in my opinion (ha) are well-rounded, good people – but she is also hugely respected by her peers and everyone she knows. There’s not a person who wouldn’t agree that mum mu has a heart of gold. She is always, always there for everyone.

It takes a very special person to provide the love of two parents so that your children never feel lacking, and my mum has pulled that off with flying colours. She is an amazing friend, a loving sister, a supportive colleague and a doting Aunt. My mum really does epitomise the word family, and is the absolute heart of ours.

My mum instilled amazing core values in my brother Hance and I. She taught us to be the best version of ourselves we possibly could be. To keep on striving for what we want and to never give up. When life beats you down, pick yourself up – when one door closes, climb in a window.

I know when the time comes for me to be a parent, I will be a great one, because of my Mum’s example. And my children would have the gift of the most amazing Granny.

Thank you will never be enough to convey to my mum how grateful I am for her love, guidance and constant support. But it’s a start. Thank you Mum. You are absolutely, simply the best.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

HELP US SAVE 2 YEAR OLD FREDDIE!

I was added to a Facebook group by an old friend yesterday and within 10 minutes I was reduced to tears reading the story of 2 year old Freddie’s fight to live and the community who is rallying to save him. Blown away doesn’t describe how I felt witnessing such a mass swell of love and dedication to give this beautiful little boy the chance of a life.

Togetherforfreddie/ Freddie HUnt/ Ladies pass it on blogIf you have children or have ever loved any child you will know how heart-breaking it must be to be told that your child won’t survive unless you can find the money to take him to where the treatment is. The treatment Freddie needs is only available in the US and this week his parent’s were stunned and disheartened to receive a bill of over £340,000. It is a mere matter of money that stands between this beautiful child and his life.

together for freddie/ blog/ ladies pass it on

Freddie is currently in the US undergoing an operation to remove a brain tumour, or the most part of it anyway, and whilst he was under anaesthetic last night his community were praying at the local church for his survival. Hundreds of friends and well-wishers are doing everything they can to get the message spread and raise funds. The total is currently just above £100,000 so we need to do as much as we possibly can to get it higher.

together for freddie/ blog/ ladies pass it on

PLEASE DONATE IF YOU CAN AND SHARE. PLEASE TAG ANY CELEBRITIES OR INFLUENCERS YOU FEEL COULD HELP EVEN MORE.

If we all do our bit we can fund this little hero’s chance at a life and his family and community will be eternally grateful.

16508992_500084257007678_6442820259017698879_n

DONATE BELOW AND PLEASE SHARE – EVERY SHARE IS WORTH MORE MONEY TO THIS WONDERFUL CAUSE

together for freddie/ ladies pass it on/ blog
PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK TO GO TO FREDDIE’S DONATION PAGE AND SHARE!

#togetherforfreddie must trend today people!!

Ladies At Work: The Matchmaker

Who wouldn’t want a career in matchmaking?!

Bringing people together and being instrumental in their pursuit of happiness must feel good right? Annabel Hannam is 47, happily married with 2 daughters (20 and 16) and after working with one of the country’s leading matchmaking companies decided to launch INTRO. As part of our ongoing Ladies At Work feature we wanted to find out more…

Ladies Pass it on blog

ANNABEL HEADSHOTS-25 (1) lower res

INTRO is a new type of matchmaking and introductions agency. In today’s world of speed-dating, apps and on-line services, INTRO’s approach is distinctly different and seems to be far more effective.

“Really, it’s a simple formula – it’s about the personal touch. We take the time to get to know each client individually. So, when the ‘matching-magic’ happens, there’s a far greater likelihood of a date and of long-term success. It’s definitely a more successful and effective approach and we’re persistent, our clients have a guaranteed number of introductions….no matter how long it takes.”

Intro’s main office is at the exciting new Colony HQ development in Wilmslow – this stunning yet private environment is the perfect place for Annabel and her team to meet new prospective clients. It certainly has the wow factor.

Ladies Pass it On BLOG

“I saw the North West – Manchester and Cheshire in particular – as the perfect area to launch a modern matchmaking agency. It’s a very dynamic part of the country and crucially there are a lot of single people, Manchester is the singles capital of the UK with more than half of the adult population unattached!”

Annabel has always worked with people. From helping manage professional tennis stars, running an outreach service for the Citizens Advice Bureau, working in HR roles and photography (she still keeps a hand in with this one). The common theme is people … understanding their motivations, interests, aspirations and insecurities. “Matchmaking was a natural progression from this, and a job where my whole purpose is to make people happy is an amazing job to have!”

The matchmaking idea is tried and tested – over centuries in fact. The principle of matching two compatible people using experience and understanding is tremendously effective. INTRO has taken this concept and modernised it for the 21st century – to fit with a much more diverse and dynamic community. Success rate? “Well at INTRO we never give up! As far as we’re concerned, an INTRO client is an INTRO client until they’ve met their match!”

Internet dating clearly works for some people – most of us know someone who met their partner on-line – but for every success there are undoubtedly a lot of people who remain disappointed with the results of many internet and app services. In fact, this was one of Annabel’s main motivations for INTRO – she saw an ever-increasing number of people who were looking for a modern, effective alternative to internet dating.

“My favourite aspect of this business is meeting people and getting an insight into their ideal partner, which makes it such an enjoyable process for me and my team when it comes to matching clients. It can be exciting when you realise that you have a couple who could be just perfect for each other!”

“We’re finding people from their thirties upwards are joining INTRO, having tried internet dating and found that it just doesn’t work for them. At INTRO we meet all our clients face-to-face and check their ID so all our members know that anyone we introduce them to really is who they say they are, actually looks like their profile photograph and is genuinely available. Men are often slightly more reserved at the beginning…perhaps social conditioning makes them more reluctant to ‘open up’ about their aspirations. Having said that, once we’re underway with the matching process, men are generally full of enthusiasm and eager to meet up with potential dates.”

LADIES PASS IT ON BLOG

So what exactly does running a matchmaking agency involve day to day?

 Well, like most people now the day tends to start and end with emails. As I travel around the area quite a lot – and spend much of the day meeting with clients – an hour or two at the start and end of the day for emails and admin works well. Most days will be a mix of interviews with potential new clients (as it’s key for us that everyone who joins INTRO has been through a face-to-face meeting and application process) and profile selections. Profile selection involves myself and the team looking through the database to select potentially suitable matches, which we then show to the clients. Hopefully they like the look of our selections and we can get some dates arranged! It’s not too hard to juggle, but often I’m meeting people outside of working hours, which can make for long days. This is one of the reasons why we’re so keen on events – from country walks to a gin masterclass – as these can fit more easily into our clients’ busy lifestyles.

Has branching out been a difficult process?

I’d say the main obstacle really has been building an understanding of what INTRO actually is… people now are focused on on-line dating and apps, so the idea of a personal, lifestyle service, with real people and face-to-face conversations takes a little explaining. What’s great is that clients quickly see the benefits and it’s a bit of a revelation!

Do you have a fairytale happy ending from your matched repertoire you could share with us?

Well, confidentiality is key for us! But yes, I’ve seen some great relationships formed and enduring over time and any match feels amazing, both for INTRO and obviously for the clients involved.  The best stories are the simple ones and keeping in touch with people as they grow closer together and share their lives is hugely rewarding.  It’s particularly satisfying when a client has taken a bit of persuasion from us to meet up with someone we have suggested as we feel they would be a good match and then they hit it off – one couple are still together months later, booking holidays together and generally having a fabulous time.  That’s a great feeling.

One comment we’ve often heard is “I wish I did this years ago”. So our advice is always why wait? There’s nothing to lose in having a conversation and seeing if matchmaking is right for you.

INTRO is based in Manchester and Cheshire. Their experienced consultants have the expertise to match you with genuine potential partners. They get to know you as a person and meet with you for a face-to-face chat, so they can fully understand what you’re looking for in a potential partner. They also offer a guaranteed minimum number of introductions. They call it ‘Modern Matchmaking’ and are introducing people across Manchester, Cheshire and the North West right now.

INTRO is offering readers one month’s membership FREE OF CHARGE – inclusive of a personal profile. To claim this exclusive offer please mention Ladies Pass It On when contacting INTRO.

T: 0161 468 2727

E: [email protected]

lADIES PASS IT ON BLOG

Ladies Pass It On Blog

 

 

 

Ladies At Work: Daisy Imprints

ladies at work white rose gold

To me there is nothing more fascinating than other people and their stories; the choices they make and the paths they take.  Women especially never fail to amaze me with their tales of motherhood, career paths and the juggling of it all! Today we have another interesting insight into the life of one of our readers, Amanda Briscall who has kindly offered a fantastic PRIZE GIVEAWAY for one of our readers – details on how to enter at the end of the article.

If you would like to share your story, email me on [email protected]

Amanda…

Me & Him

My life hasn’t turned out exactly how I expected it to be, but I am definitely where I am supposed to be.

I set up my fabulous business Daisy Imprints in May 2008. I make solid silver fingerprint, handprint, footprint and animal print charms, jewellery, cufflinks and gifts from my home. At the time, as a single mum to three young children (Alexander was nine, Anastasia six and Joseph two) I knew I needed to get back into the workforce and setting up my own business seemed to be the most exciting, flexible and fulfilling route to take. If not a little scary!

Charm Samples

Prior to having Alexander I had been an HR Manager for a nationwide recruitment agency. Having initially gone back to work I then became a stay at home mum helping in the family businesses. Having suffered with postnatal depression I am so thankful for the support network around me, which included amazing family and friends, for the encouragement they gave me to pull myself through my worst times to drive me to where I am today.

Daisy Imprints has led me in directions I would never have believed; I have taken prints at Francis House Children’s Hospice on many occasions. Often the children I have taken the prints from have been in their Rainbow Room and I remember so very clearly the first time I ever visited; whilst it was such an emotional visit I will never forget the care, compassion and love the staff had for the child, family and me whilst I worked. Soon after I was having calls from hospitals and Funeral Directors to take prints for their families. Whilst these appointments make up a small part of all my work I find it a huge privilege to be able to take prints for bereaved families at these times.

With all my experiences I decided to start a new career, whilst still running Daisy Imprints. This meant re-training. Two years into my training I fell pregnant with Angelica, my fourth child, my first with my new partner Jamie. Angelica has taught me so much especially as I became a single mum when Joseph was just 11 months old and, very sadly, a lot of his early life is a blur for me. I feel so blessed to have had a fourth baby. My training has been on hold and I’ll start again once Angelica starts school next year.

 

My wonderful children are growing up far too quickly for my liking. They are all doing phenomenally well; Alexander is studying for his A levels and is currently getting offers from Universities, Anastasia is studying for her GCSE’s and will start 6th Form College in September, Joseph has just started at High School and Angelica will be starting school next September.

Prior to restarting my training I felt ready, this year, to try something new and so started a 10 week training programme last September to become a Mentor for young adults (aged 16 – 28) leaving care. This programme is run by Pure Insight based in Stockport. The aim is for mentors to be matched with young adults leaving care (mentees) and support them in any way they need to help them grow, develop and thrive. As soon as I completed my training I was matched with my mentee. We have met several times already and I have received some fabulous feedback for ‘work’ I am doing. I look forward to continuing in this role and would highly recommend becoming a mentor to those in a position to take on such a role.

white-logo-right-copy

Pure Insight runs their 10 week training programmes twice a year in Stockport. Please call Jo Trask on 07711 017393 for further information about future programmes.

Thanks for listening, I love Ladies Pass It On because it is all about women for women and what a powerful thing that is.

 

If you would like to win one of my silver charms with your print on it (worth £45) simply:

Comment below & share this article

or

Unknown
Click this link to Follow Ladies Pass It on and like us on Instagram 

We will draw the winner on January 31st.

Good luck and I hope to hear from you all and don’t forget ladies – please PASS IT ON!

Amanda

x

Image-1

UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER – JILL SMITH!

dont-forget1

Denise Welch – If They Could See Me Now…

We all know (and love) Denise Welch for her many varied TV roles, not to mention winning Celebrity Big brother 2012, but did you know she was an author – and a very good one at that!? Denise’s debut novel has received fantastic praise so far, including a glowing review from best-selling author Susan Lewis …

blog ladies pass it on

 

Without giving too much away, the story is based in Denise’s stomping ground of Cheshire and centres around an actress named Harper who gave up fame and fortune to marry and have children. At the age of 53, trapped in a controlling relationship, something is about to happen to make her question her entire future.

We spoke to Denise last night, on the eve of the book going on sale with a new-look cover, to find out more….

Hi Denise, my copy is on order and I am really looking forward to reading it. From what I have gathered so far, the main character Harper is larger than life – how did you come up with her?

I do get asked a lot if Harper is auto-biographical – there are definite similarities in that we are both actresses and based in Cheshire for example, and whilst some of the issues facing her have some resonance with me from my past experiences – we are also very different. My career as a writer is in it’s infancy so as far as I’m concerned it’s best for me to write about what I know and can relate to and Harper’s character is a familiar one to me through people I’ve met along the way. JK Rowling is a fantastically clever writer for example and can use her amazing imagination to create worlds we all want to read about but for me it has to be based on my life experiences or others that I know – that way I can visualise it and really feel the story.

Is the story based on your own life in any way?

My life in parts is woven in with the story along the way – perhaps it’s chopped and changed and turned around a bit but the essence of some of my life experience is there. I live in Cheshire so I was able to inject a bit of humour when it came to Harper trying to fit in with the ‘Cheshire Set’ which is not her natural environment at all. Her husband is desperate for her to be accepted within that glamorous community and so she has to make sure she joins the right Golf Clubs etc and does everything just the right way to be ‘one of them’ and that’s something I understand from what’s around me. The story is very much Harper’s though, not mine.

blog: ladies pass it on
Denise with husband and celebrated Artist Lincoln Towney

Is she someone you would get on with in real life?

I would get on with her although I have become really good over the years at spotting women trapped in controlling relationships so I would desperately want to give here a shake and tell her to leave her husband. Aaron is a charmer – very attractive and has everyone wrapped around his little finger so no one really spots the mental abuse that Harper is suffering on a daily basis. On the outside everyone thinks she’s extremely lucky – big house, sexy husband but nobody knows what’s going on behind that beautiful front door do they?

The book has received great reviews so far – is writing fiction something you have always  wanted to do?

No! To be honest I never thought I could do it! I’m a Gemini and a very social animal – even though I don’t drink anymore I love to talk and be with people chatting all the time and writing is such a solitary thing. But I had this first chapter in my head and I wanted to get it out. I was approached previously to do my Auto-Biography but this story was something that came to me, no one approached me and asked me if I wanted to write a novel – in fact I was rejected several times before Maddie West picked it up! It was a real learning curve and without my amazing Editor Rebecca to bounce off  and trouble-shoot – I couldn’t have done it.

Do your story-lines come naturally during the process or do you plan in advance?

I had a basic arc to start with. I knew my characters and my first chapter and I knew it had to have a happy ending – that was really very important to me. Aside from that the story and characters pretty much evolved organically along the way. Again, I love chatting and it was during chats with Rebecca or Lincoln, my husband, that the events, characters and whole thing in general just started to take shape. I found that process worked really well for me and got my creative juices flowing!

Are there any messages you hope to convey through the story?

Yes –  as I mentioned briefly, I have some experience of what it’s like to be in a controlling relationship, from many years ago. I can see when it’s happening and it’s something important to me. Likewise, as an ambassador for Lighter Life I am very seriously against fat-shaming and the bullying that goes on. Some bullying gets disguised these days under the heading of ‘banter’ when really it’s causing a lot of damage and I wanted to highlight that with Harper’s overweight teenage daughter Georgina. Her Dad is constantly making jokes at her expense to hide his own embarrassment with her size as it doesn’t fit in with his glamorous ideal, not to mention the bullying she gets outside the home. It’s a crying shame the way self-esteems are destroyed by this. The story also touches on depression which is another topic close to my heart.

How would you sum up the book in three words?

Funny, Frightening and Fierce!

What advice would you give to anyone out there who felt they wanted to write that first book?

If I can do it – you can do it! Persistence is the key – we all get knock-backs and rejections but stick with it! Writing about subjects you feel passionate about helps because it will feel more authentic too. Go for it I say!

 

Chaos & Gin at Christmas

I love Christmas, I really really do. I am like Mavis Cruet from Willow the Whisp, slightly (ok maybe more than slightly) overweight and dishing out my sparkly festive magic all over the place.

But as much as I love it all, what on earth possessed me to try and do 3 Christmas parties and an Asda shop on Christmas eve EVE???

Its like I wanted to set myself up to fail at Christmas…

ladies pass it on

The 1st party was lovely, a serene lunch with my work colleagues all tucking into a lovely M & S spread.  Well, it was lovely until my fish phobic self merrily dunked a breadstick into the hummus that was actually mackerel pate and loudly dry heaved all-round the room. It wasn’t pretty.

The next party was basically 40 sugar fuelled, over excited children charging round the local scout hut like demons…. The less said about this the better. By this point I couldn’t even face party number 3 and went home to bed!

Christmas Eve morning was a lovely relaxed affair until we realised we were late for the birthday buffet and I had to shoe horn 2 unwashed chocolate covered hyper kids in to their party clothes to head to granny and grandads. You see BOTH my mother and father in law are born on Xmas day, it makes present buying, birthday celebrations and general festive season logistics a bloody nightmare. Is it a Christmas present or a birthday present, is it joint or solo, never can there be a joint Christmas / birthday present…. And they are just my rules. The Ma in law has a whole host of others….. Like the time she asked us to get her 50th birthday cake, a chocolate lion is not acceptable apparently, but I have no idea why not!?!?

On the way over I spot a roadside van selling flowers and instruct the hubby to pull over, so The Diva and I can hop out to pick granny some birthday flowers. They were beautiful but it was only as we walked through her front door did I spot the ‘In Loving memory’ card, just in time to use my Go Go Gadget Arm to intercept it as The Diva loudly announced “I picked these” to the assembled guests. It dawned on me then why I had seen this van parked up forlornly selling flowers each time I drove past THE CEMETARY!!!

I needed a bloody drink! Probably not as much prosecco as I consumed with my lovely cousins mind. It was almost as if I was in denial of what actually still needed to be done! Hic….. it was decided that the little ones were allowed one early Christmas present from granny as a treat.

ladies pass it on

Needless to say The Wrecking ball eagerly ripped in to what can only be described as the LOUDEST, most ANNOYING fire engine known to man, it NEE-NAWS and DEE-DAWS and WOO-WOOS none stop all while spinning on its axis making a TIC-TIC-TIC noise! We tried to enforce the the ‘if you buy it then it lives at your house rule’ but The Wrecker was having none of it……. I may or may not be lying if I said the fire engine accidently fell out of the car on the M65!

The Diva was much more delicate in her gift opening, an excited smile plastered across her pretty face…… then there were tears, lots and lots of tears as she threw herself in to her Dads arms with sobs or ‘I am not a baby’.

Turns out that Granny should pay more attention to what she is buying – the 7 year old Diva did not appreciate the Disney Frozen toilet training seat. In Granny’s defence she just saw something Frozen (the Diva doesn’t like Frozen) and bought it as a treat.

ladies pass it on

This Christmas shall be forever referred to as the ‘one with the toilet seat’. I am not sure which was more annoying all the way home, the damn fire engine or the Diva’s heartfelt sobs of ‘why did everyone laugh’ for the full 12 miles home!

It was late now, so we fed the kids a supper of more chocolate and dumped them sugar high and singing Jingle bells into the respective beds!

I sat to enjoy a coffee laced with Bailey’s while the hubby set to building Barbies Dream House. I thought I had a plethora of swear words in my vocab to express my emotions….. Turns out there are loads I can now add that I learnt in the 2 and a half hours it took him to build. Barbie has “f$*king spiral staircase” don’t you know?!?!?”

I had to stay up to place all the furniture in it, my OCD would allow him to do it. It was midnight by the time I had clambered in to bed….before getting back out to go and eat a mince pie and Rudolph’s damn bloody carrot!!!

The Diva came in to our room at 12.30am, 2.10am (she heard Santa knock) 3am and finally 3.20am before being told that santa would not come if she didn’t get to bloody sleep….. good job she didn’t notice the already stuffed stocking at the end of her bed or there would have been no hope!

It was around 4am that I went on my undie clad wander downstairs….. Convinced that I hadn’t turned the slow cooker on and the beef wasn’t cooking as I couldn’t smell it….. it was and I just looked like a nobbo. I didn’t bother going back to sleep by this point.

Christmas morning was lovely and the kids and I were blessed with some lovely gifts…… I have more alcohol than is socially acceptable to drink. Good job I am not socially acceptable!

I also must have been having an out of body experience when I saw fit to buy the kids Doggy Doo…. We have a real life dog and no one wants to win by scooping up three of his poop’s, trust me!

doggy-doo

I have an OCD about dirty hands…. Doggy Doo and the synthetic slimy goo is my idea of hell! I retreated to make dinner with a glass of fizz and #Now Christmas.

Turns out I forgot to buy Goose Fat and the only oil I had was Carotino, a healthy bright orange alternative. The roasties were very tasty but did remind me of a potato version of Josey Essex and they clashed massively with the sprouts! I didn’t forget to buy Yorkshire Puds (yes I know not an Xmas lunch staple but I like them)….. I did forget to cook them though and have about 20 in my freezer. Yorkshire pud based meal ideas anyone?

It got worse…. The hubby pushed the cork into the bottle of Rioja showing off with my fancy new bottle opener and the dog ate the leftovers my parents had wrapped to take home for supper. He wasn’t even discreet and waddled over post feast with a small mound of carrot and swede on his nose to say thanks….. my dad then sat quietly seething that the fat chocolate Labrador had eaten his turkey butty supper.

eying-up-the-mince-pie-before-he-ate-the-dinner

I was looking forward to a relaxing Boxing Day, turns out that Doc McWrecker had other ideas as he tended to my delicate prosecco head with his newly acquired Dr’s kit with all the care and bedside manner of a triceratops.

Up early I decided to brave Asda for some bits I didn’t need. I was happily perusing the kids sale rails when someone tried to take a coat hanger out of my had, I mean I actually had hold of it looking at the small boys top….. she loudly told me she had that top 1st, she didn’t and I told her so.

I didn’t even like the top so in true Christmas Spirit I hid it in the crisp aisle before I left.

When do I go back to work please???

 

Follow Chaos & gin on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/exhaustedmum/

dont-forget1

If only we had thought of that!

Have you ever come up with what you considered to be a genius idea and wondered how to make it a reality? We recently caught up with Superwoman and Mumtrepeneur Jennifer Unsworth who came up with the fantastic idea below and saw it through to fruition whilst juggling three small children! The Tidy Tot is, in a nutshell, an overall bib that attaches to a feeding tray – ensuring a no lasting-mess mealtime and a wipe clean solution to those splatter-tastic dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese!  So, let’s hear how the lovely Jenny made this happen – prepare to be inspired!

ladies pass it on
We would love to hear how you came up with this fantastic product?
Like a lot of new mums, I found weaning incredibly stressful.  I worried about pretty much everything, but more than anything else – the mess drove me insane!  After all the excitement of starting solids, I just couldn’t relax into weaning one little bit.  I honestly began to dread mealtimes, and the inevitable 20 minute clean up and change of clothes we’d have at the end of it. I was so sure there was a need for something more than a ‘bib’ to contain the mess of weaning, and couldn’t understand why no-one had come up with something before now.  Having said that, the first version of the Tidy Tot was made from chopsticks, a muslin square and some sticky tape! So a million miles away from what we have now – but I stuck at and with the help of feedback from a lot of wonderful mums and their babies, I am incredibly proud of the finished result.
Is this the first item you’ve invented?
Sort of!  It’s not my first ‘invention’ as such, but it’s the first one I’ve ever been able to turn into a finished product!  My friends used to call me a ‘Serial Inventor’ – if I found a problem or a gap in the market, I’ll sit there until I’d come up with a solution.  Until Tidy Tot though, I’d never felt so passionate or so sure that I’d come up with a genuine problem solver to follow the idea through.  My belief in the Tidy Tot Bib and Tray Kit is what has driven me this far, and makes me absolutely determined to keep going until it’s on the ‘essentials’ list for every new mum!
ladies pass it onWas the journey from having the idea to actually selling the product a difficult one?
Without a doubt, this is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I had absolutely no idea just how hard it would be to turn my ‘idea’ into a finished product, let alone to then turn that finished product into a viable commercial business.  I’ve had to learn how to import, export, source materials and manufacturing partners, how to sell and market my product globally, how to read a cash-flow forecast and Profit and Loss statement….the list is endless!
234
How have you found juggling family life with this enterprise?
Very honestly?  Bloody hard! I have 3 little ones, Chloe who is 6, Tom 2 and Sam is 9 months.  I juggle work during the day around the children, and work every evening and at least one day over the weekend.  I’m incredibly lucky to have help with childcare from my mum and my mother-in-law, and my husband is quite literally amazing.  I honestly wouldn’t have got this far with the business without him.  He does his fair share of household chores (albeit I have to point out what needs doing, but you can’t have everything!) and his support has meant I am able to hand the kids over as he walks through the door for me to start ‘work!’, glass of wine in hand most days!
ladies pass it on
Do you have any advice for anyone out there who thinks they have a winning idea?

Lots!  If there are 3 key pieces of advice though I’d say it’s this:

1.      Do your research.  Get people to try out your idea and give you some feedback.  Don’t worry about having a perfectly finished product or service for them to try – you can refine things as you go and feedback from the people who are ultimately your target customer is absolutely invaluable.

2.      Make sure your idea is commercially viable!  Having a great product or service is one thing, but you if can’t turn it into a scalable commercial business, you’ll be spending a lot of time, effort and money for very little return

3.      Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.  I knocked on so many doors when I first started, and people were amazingly keen to help me get things off the ground.  I absolutely do the same, and very often meet up with mums in the early stages of their businesses to offer any support or advice I can.

ladies pass it on
Are there any more of your ideas coming to life in the future?
I know I’ll never stop wanting to improve my product, and am constantly thinking of ways I can make mealtimes even easier for parents.  I’ve just started to export Tidy Tot this year too, so I’ll be taking on feedback and trends from other cultures, so there are certainly going to be more things to come!
image003
What is the best and worst part of your job?
The best bit of what I do is the example I’m setting to my children.  I passionately believe that you should never give up on a dream, and if something is worth having its worth working hard for.  I’m extremely proud of the fact that my 6 year old often reminds me that “we never give up, Mummy!”   The down side of course is that I never really switch off and it can be quite lonely.  Working at home, I don’t have the benefit of being able to treat myself to a new work wardrobe either!!
image005
What single piece of advice would you give to women out there with regards to family/work-life balance?
For work at home mums like me, I think the biggest piece of advice is to try separate work time and family time as best you can.  It’s really not easy.  It took me a good 12 months to instil some discipline and routine into my working day.  Managing the business is all consuming – it’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of at night.  In the early days I found myself checking and responding to emails at all times of day and night.  Not only did this not really work for me, it was also incredibly stressful, especially on the day’s I had the children with me.
Find out more about this great product at http://www.tidytot.co.ukladies pass it on

Dawn Ward’s Mission to help Polly.

The photographs show a fabulously festive room full of glamorous ladies dressed in their finest enjoying some champagne and having fun at Christmas-time, but behind this sparkling imagery there is a heart of gold campaigning to help a fellow Mum stay around to see her three beautiful children grow up…

LADIES pASS it oN
The Real Housewives of Cheshire’s Seema with Dawn and Misse
Ladies Pass It On
Me with the glamorous Hostess Dawn

Dawn Ward hosted a Ladies lunch in her gorgeous Cheshire home last week and I was lucky enough to be invited along. The event was attended by around 70 of Dawn’s friends and family including four of Dawn’s cast-mates from hit TV show The Real Housewives of Cheshire. As fun as the event was (and it really was) there was one very good reason everyone came along and bought a ticket – to help boost the Go Fund Me page of Polly Haydock. We will talk more about Polly and how we can all help soon.

ladies pass it on
Real Housewife Tanya Bardsley selling her book and stunning jewellery to help aid the fundraising and lovely Leanne Davis with her copy!

ladies pass it on

fullsizerender

Money was raised via a shopping event and a fantastic raffle where the top prize was a face-lift at Skulpt Salon – Dawn’s new business enterprise. Sadly I didn’t win it, nor did I win the £500 worth of Forever Unique vouchers donated by the lovely Seema. I did however have a great time and was thoroughly mesmerised by the live botox and lip filler treatments being demonstrated in the dining room!

Dawn even went one step further to raise funds and auctioned herself! Or a lunch with herself and her stunning cast-mate Misse to be more precise. This alone raised thousands for the cause and her speech really tugged on everyone’s heart strings as she reminded us that we may think we have problems but really we don’t until someone tells us that we have to leave our children behind. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house as we all imagined what it would be like to be in that heart-breaking position.

Guests were treated to a lavish three-course lunch and were entertained by well-known radio DJ Darren Proctor who kindly gave his time to help out and Dawn’s beautiful daughter Darby who I have to say, blew me away with her voice! Watch this space that girl is going places!

ladies pass it on
Dawn’s daughter Darby wowing the guests with her stunning voice
ladies pass it on
Lauren from The Real Housewives of Cheshire also joined in with the fundraising activities selling her beautiful perfume

ladies pass it on

It’s safe to say the event went on into the night and a great time was had by all, and for such a very good reason… let’s get to the point..

 Polly’s Story

Polly Haydock was diagnosed with stage 3 Colorectal cancer last year, aged only 36 and a seemingly healthy mother of three. After radiation failed to help Polly is now stage 4 and the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, liver, lungs and hip bones. Refusing to accept the death sentence she has been given Polly has researched and found a clinic in germany which offers targeted treatments with a good chance of success. The cost of this could be upwards of 250k – so Polly really needs our help.

Ladies Pass it on

Please go to Polly’s Go Fund me page and donate if you can – then share share share!

Thank you ladies and thank you to Dawn for bringing it to our attention and helping the cause.

ladies pass it on

My Children Need their Mummy

https://www.gofundme.com/my-children-need-their-mummy-2u9pnzg4

For more info on Skulpt visit

www.weareskulpt.co.uk

ladies pass it on

 

Fancy Yourself in a Christmas Ad?

It’s fair to say that as a nation we LOVE our Christmas TV Ads but have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in one?

We caught up with Supermum and Dancer/Fitness instructor Rachel Bullen, star of B&M’s newest Christmas advert, which features not only her but all three of her gorgeous children!Ladies Pass It On

We love the advert Rachel, how did it come about?

Thank you! Well I am an actress and choreographer by trade so I get to go to castings for a lot of weird and wonderful roles! I had to do a home video casting for this one with the children – before the school run! We only had timeto do one take so we had to get it right!! I had actually done the 2 pitches previously for B&M so was pleased the production company won the account and I got chosen to be featured with my family!

fullsizerender-copy

Was it fun to work with your kids?

Do you know what it was great! I was worried (like any mum would with 3 kids aged 7 and under!) that they might all have an off day and just be whingey or clingy but they were actually fab! It was a long couple of days too. Especially pleased with Seb (my 2 year old) who coped brilliantly and took direction like a pro!!

fullsizerender-copy-3

Do you worry in advance that children won’t do what they’re told?

I was utterly dreading it in a way, not for the girls (Siena has been in 2 adverts with me before and is a natural!) but was worried about little Sebby. He is a very friendly little boy and does love attention but I worried that in a room full of strangers he wouldn’t do anything they asked him to do but rather just bury his head into me! But I needn’t have worried. He was a little star! I would be lying if I said the ipad and sweet treats didn’t come into play at times but we all gotta do what we gotta do!!

What brought you into the world of TV ads and did you always want your kids to join in the fun?

I started acting at 19 and just loved it. I seem to get cast for mainly commercial work especially for the role of ‘young mum’ which took me a while to get used to but then again, thats what I am so can’t complain! I have done lot’s of fun adverts, one for Jet 2 last year which had me flying to 4 countries in 48 hours! Beats a desk job although it does involve very early starts and long days and can be a lot of just standing around in the cold! Wouldn’t change it though!

fullsizerender-copy-2

Would you recommend it to anyone reading and how would they best get involved?

Absolutely! You would need to get an agent so may need to prepare a monologue! It would be easier for those without drama training to start with ‘extra’ roles. I would still recommend getting an agent but no experience is necessary. You can also join sites like ‘Casting Call Pro’ and ‘Star Now’ without an agent.

Have you done many other adverts we may have seen you in?

Jet2, DFS, KFC, Iceland, Wicked E-Cigs!, Alan Partridge – to name but a few!

dont-forget1

It’s A Wonderful Life!

And it really truly is!

In these worrying and complicated times, I really urge you all to take some time-out during the run up to the festive season and watch this movie. Better still, find a nice old-fashioned cinema in your area and hope they’re showing it there.

james_stewart_its_a_wonderful_life_dvd_cards_poster_9a

Why? Because it will fill you with all the Christmas feels you need to remember what this season is all about; not presents, not parties – but a time to take a step back, breathe in life and reach out to all those you love or even those you’ve never met before. A time of goodwill to all men…

It’s A Wonderful Life is a moral tale from an era far more innocent than ours and yet the struggles are basically the same ; sell your soul to the big guy for material riches or stay true to yourself for the real riches life has to offer.

The main character George Bailey is your all-round upstanding good guy who puts his family before himself and lays aside his dreams and ambitions to do the right thing, ultimately looking after everyone else. When trouble hits him through no fault of his own he considers taking his own life to see his wife and four kids straight with the insurance policy – when lo and behold a guardian angel is sent down to save him. The final scene will soften the hardest of hearts as the whole town rushes to his aid with their life savings in a basket. Heart-warming stuff for sure!

The stand out favourite sentiment for me is the inscription written in George’s book – given to him by his guardian angel Clarence.

No man is a failure who has friends.

Tears, so many tears…

c17ec5f5f44251cd14ccda9246f9e021

The movie is in black and white, there are no musical numbers or CGI – no amazing scenes of Christmas splendour – in fact there are no scenes of Christmas at all really (lots of lovely snow though!). The Christmas message is conveyed purely and solely through the power of friendship and love. In short it is simply wonderful – and it will fill your heart full up!

15107194_10157676763140456_3345097660527307899_n

My friends and I went see this movie recently at our local Plaza cinema, a lovingly restored old place that still has an organist playing before the performance, the National Anthem playing after the performance and is run mostly by volunteers – absolutely fabulous if you ask me!

15094235_10157676763695456_5193390924110849615_n

I even bought a NAKED calendar the staff had made to raise more money – straight out of Calendar Girls and straight into my heart. Not sure I will be displaying it on my wall though – too many questions will be asked by my 4 and 8 year old sons….slightly awkward.

So, to sum up; I couldn’t have felt any more festive if you’d wrapped me up in tinsel, rolled me in cinnamon and mulled me in a pot!

It really is a Wonderful Life!

15036474_10157676763395456_972712877916753202_n
Me with Emma & Nic – if you look closely you’ll see the naked calendar – awesome stuff.

15036756_10157676763290456_6925654092269552071_n

dont-forget1

 

Opera For Beginners

Are you already a lover of all things Opera or are you, like me, slightly unsure where to begin?

Catherine Clayton-Young gives us a little insight to start us off on the right note (see what I did there?).

15050379_10157773985285615_763864852_n

Puccini’s La Boheme…

It’s a strange old world going to the opera. It is considered so inaccessible to many, and yet it’s the most wonderful evening. I like visiting the theatre, going to shows, live comedy, anything that is liveand real. However, I can honestly say that nothing beats the thrill and the emotion of the opera.

Saturday evening brought me to another (more accessible) Ellen Kent production at the Opera House in Manchester. I sat with a local critic, who was on his own, and we chatted at length in the two intervals about the staging, the voices, the acting and the odd inadequacies we both felt the production brought.

Ellen Kent was actually in the house that evening, and he was whisked away to meet her. Interestingly she was talking about the beautiful set design, I am always stunned by the sets in her productions, but this one had been inspired by four different impressionist painters. We didn’t find out which ones, and spent a while thinking that over in the final act.

I wept in two of the four acts, a result by my measure.

If you have a hankering to try out the opera here is a quick guide

  1. You don’t dress up, not in Manchester! I just wear jeans.
  2. Bring tissues. The raw emotion hits you very powerfully.
  3. They have surtitles. A screen above the stage with the words in English. Beware, the words can make you giggle, we were listening to a beautiful aria, only to discover the bass tenor was singing about his coat.
  4. Puccini is a great place to start.
  5. Be prepared to fall in love with the experience. It’s strikingly contagious.

31858_full

Lights and Action!

Continuing on with our Ladies At Work feature, I recently caught up with High-end lighting designer Autumn Morrison of White Lion Lighting, to gleam a teeny little insight into her daily life and glamorous career…

14525044_128037424326865_4642658771618852688_o

Hi Autumn, being obsessed with all things interior design I truly love your work – can you tell us a little about what you do at White lion lighting?

Thank you! I source and sell lighting for people who are building a new home or doing a renovation or extension, free lighting design included. My business was born from client’s asking me for my help – doesn’t get much better than that. I started in a lighting showroom, selling lights. People brought me their blue prints and began to ask me to select all the lighting for their house, and I loved it. Then people started asking me to come out to their house and I realised I had a choice between working for someone else or working for myself.  I chose to work for myself and haven’t looked back (although I did have a stint as a national sales manager for a lighting importer in America, which took my all over the country selling lights to people that sell lights and that was a fantastic experience.  I had a lot of autonomy and was very driven so it worked well for both myself and my boss, who encouraged me and took my input seriously which allowed me to be very effective and not stifled).  That job ended when I moved over here to England.  And sure enough, I set up shop for myself once again, on foreign land but with great trust that people all over the world respond to beauty and luckily it’s been proven so.

012-blue-hills-68

What is a typical day like for you?

Wake around 6:30 and explain that it’s too early to get up yet to my 4.8 yr old daughter, so we chat about things and have a cuddle.  I pop into my office for a quick check on work emails and a review of my day ahead. Then I get my poppet ready for school and do the school run, which finishes at 9am.

I then give myself an hour to tend to home/child/school management oriented stuff – which there seems to be an endless supply of.  By 10am I’ve got my White Lion Lighting Services hat on and am researching information, chasing orders, making phone calls, building lighting schedules, answering questions and emails, sourcing lights, and planning or attending meetings.  From 1 – 2pm I am working on running the business – such as website & emails, social media, liaising with accounting and suppliers and further developing my business methods.  By 2:30 I’ve got my mommy hat on again and make sure that dinner is prepped and the house is tidy and welcoming.  Out the door by 2:45 for the school pick up.  If I’m early, I can squeeze in some more work from my iphone in the playground while I wait for my daughter to appear.  By this time, other moms and dads have turned up and it’s polite and important to Pippa’s social life to chat and catch up on school info (the playground is much more useful for gathering intell then the newsletters – moms are pretty switched on human beings). Then it’s all about Pippa from homework, school catch up, snacks, dinner, playing and bedtime.

012-blue-hills-45

 

Once she’s asleep (around 7-7:30) I get a cup of herbal tea, turn on the radio and it’s back to work. During the evening hours, which are quite peaceful and quiet, I build lights (this means that I create data sheets on lights I want to sell), research new lights, work on floor plans and lighting schedules and propose new lights to clients for their feedback.  Once a week in the evenings, I load up on images for my Buffer account, which feeds my social media profiles with gorgeous lights that inspire me.  Before I switch off from working, around 9 or 10pm, I review my calendar and re-prioritise my to-do’s, which gives me peace of mind. If it’s 9pm, I like to watch something absorbing, depending on my mood.  But by 10:30 I try my best to discipline myself and make sure I am in bed with a good book so that I can get a good nights rest. Lately I’ve been reading parenting books before switching to a great work of fiction, my ‘me’ time.  If my mind won’t stop racing by 11:30pm, I do a mediation according to what’s on my mind and that always works, it’s pretty amazing.

calligrafico-morningside-stair-case

Would you recommend setting up your own business to others?

If you’ve got the personality, passion, belief in what you do, the fire in your belly, drive, integrity and inner courage – definitely !  You have to be able to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ .

What do you enjoy/dislike most about your job?

I love working with people, I love shopping and I love beautiful things so selling cool lights to cool people is aces for me.  What I dislike is marketing myself and needing to find new projects.  I love the creative, sales & results side of things but the admin side is a bit of a drag.

What has been the highlight so far?

Hmmmm, tough one.  There have been quite a few projects that I am very proud of (not all are on my website due to the private nature of some of my clients), I was interviewed twice for national lighting magazine and the year I was pregnant, I worked my tail off and I netted six figures in profit all from working from my laptop, I was pretty proud of that.

oakdene0130

What’s your advice on managing the work/life balance?

Be kind to yourself, set achievable goals, surround yourself with good people, remember that worry doesn’t solve a single thing, you’ll find there’s a lot of strength to be drawn from inner peace so make sure your core being is well taken care of and finally – work smarter not harder.

Oh and some practical advise – use a check list.  I love my check list app (Laza lists) which synch’s with my calendar and is literally a life saver.  I can create a to-do on the fly, which gets dropped in the general pool of to-do’s and I know I won’t forget so it creates instant relief and then later when I analyse my week I can add a date and time for the to-do, which is like having a virtual assistant. I can move the dates and times around and view my calendar in a clear manner, which gives me a clear sense of where I’m up to.

In my calendar, I colour code my items – blue for home; green for work (money); yellow for school stuff for Pips; purple for Pippa’s social life and dark purple for my social life (admittedly not much of the dark purple at this time!) and then I feel a bit proud of myself for having a well balanced life, when I see a good mix of colours in my calendar.  It’s a simple trick but it’s pretty rewarding.  Also, I’ve just bought ‘The Working Parents’ Guide To Raising Happy and Confident Children’, I expect that will have some useful tips as well.  Haven’t read it yet so can’t comment.

img_5594

dont-forget1

www.whitelionlighting.co.uk

 

English Mum in New York

img_0093

(Well Conneticut anyway)

So…. my husband came home from work one day with a bombshell “I’ve been approached about a job, but we would have to move to the USA”

18 months previously we had bought our forever home, a house I’d walked past everyday for 10 years saying “One day I want to live in that house”. I now lived in it. It was close to schools, hobbies, friends and most of all family.

We were happy and settled – both in our 40’s with 2 young boys. Our life was perfect, well … perfect for us. Why would we want to change anything???? “So do we fancy it then?” My reply surprised even myself “Why the hell not!”

Before we knew it the house was sold and the visa’s were sorted. We were moving to Connecticut, a short train ride from New York. Saying goodbye was possibly one of the most heart wrenching things I could have imagined. Although I kept repeating ” it’s not goodbye, it’s see you soon”.

Legal Aliens

So we are now officially “Legal Aliens” well that’s what it says on our visa and I thought it was just a song sung by Sting!!!

And alien it is. First of all Americans think England is just London so most conversations go like this.

“Where in London do you come from?”img_0195

“I’m not, I’m from Manchester ”

“Oh, where in London is that”

” It’s not London, it’s the north of England”

“Oh right so you probably know my cousin/friend/ he’s from London too”.

Seriously! This conversation happens daily.

Driving on the right side of the road is easier than I thought it was going to be except you can turn right on a RED traffic light. After driving for 20 years going through a red light is definitely alien.

 

05c0e5ce-203c-40a1-b8b9-0d42d57d4de3Americans cannot make tea!

I don’t drink much coffee, unlike the Americans, and I do enjoy a good old-fashioned cup of tea. But American ‘English tea’ isn’t English tea at all!

No wonder the Americans are selling 400 million cups of coffee a day. They can’t make a brew!

You can find PG tips on the international aisle in the supermarkets but it’s some cheap imposter conning me into spending $15 for some home comfort only to be bitterly disappointed.

 

No Curry Dip!

Ronald McDonald came to the U.K. In 1974 introducing us to the Big Mac, fries, Chicken Mcnugget. We arrived in the States and much to the horror of my children they don’t have sweet curry dip! My kids were in shock. ” How can we eat this?” they said. We were offered buffalo sauce, a very poor substitute in comparison.

But on a positive note they serve breakfast all day! No more walking up on a Sunday with a hangover, needing a Mcd’s and realizing you’ve missed breakfast by 5 mins!

Soccer Mum!

Having 2 boys, a big part of our lives is football or dare I say soccer but again it’s like another language. They no longer wear boots, they wear cleats. They don’t have a footy kit, they have a uniform, they do juggling instead of keepie uppies and you can’t head the ball until you are 11 years old!!

The place is very alien to us but we are adjusting slowly and we are embracing the adventure everyday.

I am happy to change some words to the US version; you need to so you can be understood. Like pavement to side-walk, lift to elevator, rubbish to trash but one thing I’m not prepared to change and that is my name.

I’m a Mum not a Mom no matter what!

Louise Byron

2b8a3323-a1a8-4294-8b94-409bf9cba126

dont-forget1

My Date With A Murderer!

A keyboard with a red button - Online Dating

Beware who you are meeting girls…read my tale below and do as I say, not as I do!

So it was the build up to Christmas and I reinstall my most frequented relationship – Tinder (it’s a love hate relationship whereby we keep breaking up).

I match with varying men trying to mix my options a little and talk to a small handful that say hi. One of which we shall call Pete for reasons about to become obvious!

So Pete and I get talking and there is good ‘banter’ between us. We move things over to Facebook (in order to stalk more photos) and chat on there to arrange a date.

A week later on my child-free evening, we decide to meet in Truro our local town just for drinks. He says he’ll pick me up enroute (do not do this when meeting anyone new girls!)

He collects me in a lovely brand new white pick up truck -which is a positive start!?

At the bar the conversation isn’t flowing well due to his constant need to check his Apple Watch and to avoid all eye contact by peering over my shoulder at the TV behind me.

I suggest we move bars….

In the new bar I make a conscious effort to ask questions about him and share info about me. We discuss the highlight of his career (which to give him credit for was the one thing he spoke passionately about) … working in Pizza Hut. He spoke of his family’s fish and chip business and told me about ALL of the alcohol they now sold. Fascinating.

I decided to talk about family. You can get a good vibe from someone based on that.

Bad idea … quick back off talking about his mum and dad all seems very tense there…. he gets quite defensive.

I’m bored and tired of it all now and want to go home.

He drops me back.

We don’t speak much after and let it fizzle.

End of…. no wait! …

Months later (around Christmas time) I’m scrolling through my FB newsfeed and I see his mug shot staring back at me on the local news site. I click. I read. I vomit …

He’s in court that day on trial … the story told to me in the paper…

A month before he met me, he had been driving home drunk from a local festival in his Audi. He hit a well known and much loved local couple in his car. He had very clearly hit them and had very clearly noticed as his actions were to drive on and pull into the next lay where he disposed of his bloody jacket and abandoned the car after wiping his prints away!

His next move was to ring his best friend and ask/ accuse if he had taken his car that evening as it was ‘missing’.

He went home and washed his clothes.

His best friend is arrested and not being able to afford bail is held for months. While Pete is happily tinder dating!!!!

He also gets a new puppy and daddy buys him a new white truck

I wonder if he thought he got away with it…

Oh then it clicks! The phone checking, the watching of SKY NEWS over my shoulder. The tension around family at home.

He had been on a date with me after knowingly killing a local couple. Knowing I didn’t know this. Knowing his friend was in jail.

He’s in prison now.

I’m still single.

Watch out ladies, google is there for a reason – use it!

ladies pass it on

 

Georgie

xladies pass it on

This Voice!

Whatever you are doing right now, relax and enjoy the beautiful sound of Singer/Songwriter Jennie Sawdon. Not only is Jennie crazy busy travelling the country to add that special something to the most elegant of weddings and star-studded events but she is also mum to Freddie aged 4 and all round superwoman!

bdd485_dd0b58d55a2a42288e506d2d8821a496

When did you first realise you had a voice?

When I was about 11 and the music/drama teacher gathered everyone together to tell us who was going to play the different parts in our school play. They said that I was going to play the part of the Centipede (ha ha) in James and the Giant Peach because I had a lovely voice.  That was the first I thought about it really.

Was it difficult making a career out of your musical passion?

It certainly wasn’t easy. There are so many different strands to being a performer and everybody takes a different path.  Whilst I was training to be an opera singer I was singing in a student bar on a Friday for free beer and £10. It was a long road to where I am now, managing to earn a living from performing.

bdd485_b0852fb3a74141e7b34886e477f50bbb-jpg

The golden question: Do you think anyone can be trained to sing or is it a gift!?

Everyone can certainly improve on what they have – it’s a bit like training in a gym – you might never be a top class athlete but there’s nothing stopping you from keeping fit.  However, there are people who simply can’t hear a melody or pitch a note and for them vocal tuition is going to be hard and costly!

Do you watch the X factor, what do you think of that and other singing competitions?

You don’t want to hear what I think about those (lol) and they aren’t singing competitions, they are popularity contests for the judges.

bdd485_a90ba999a00340ff9ed39e8f8510850b

Which singer do you admire the most?

That is so hard as there are so many wonderful and unique voices around. I admire different singers for their writing and their performance as well as the vocal gift.  If I’m allowed I would choose Tori Amos for her songwriting, Kate Bush for her performance and it has to be Beyonce for the sheer might of that woman’s vocal talent.

What’s the stand-out best gig you’ve ever done?

bdd485_46965a46231f47d285de5f13fb57cddbBest gig I ever played was during a jazz festival in the centre of Manchester.  I was in a bar playing a grand piano and everyone was standing around it and shouting out requests.  They kept buying me champagne and joining in and we all had an amazing night!

Do you have any advice on how to juggle the work/life balance issues we all face?

Don’t work too much!  Ha ha!! No seriously – I am a perfectionist and can really beat myself up and waste time worrying about things that really don’t matter.  I think it’s important to do enough to give yourself a sense of self-worth but also really important to remember to take the time out as well.

Just for fun….If you could only sing one song for the next year what would it be?

Runaway by the Corrs – I love that song and I never get tired of it!

Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Neither a borrower or a lender be. Oh and don’t eat yellow snow. (lol)

www.jenniesawdon.co.uk

Buy Jennie’s Album Fighting The Fairytale now…1200x630bf

If you would like to be featured on our site please contact [email protected]

dont-forget1