5 mistakes I am making in life (right now)

This post is about the act of remembering. Remembering that you are a good human being regardless of mistakes that are being made on a daily basis. It’s about remembering this – even though y…

Source: 5 mistakes I am making in life (right now)

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5 mistakes I am making in life (right now)

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This post is about the act of remembering. Remembering that you are a good human being regardless of mistakes that are being made on a daily basis. It’s about remembering this – even though you got up this morning after you drank too many whiskeys, argued with your husband about the lack of male genitalia shown on TV, and stormed off to bed in a fit of self-righteousness while throwing insults down the stairs like you lived with someone who was a psychopath and needed to be reminded.

It’s about when you sleep with shame, and wake up to find out that you and shame are now one. (By the way this is only one tiny act in the crimes committed by myself that my mind seems to relish dwelling on).

This year I had decided to commit myself to being kind – to myself. And I have fallen off the path – big time. It’s hard to remember how to find your way back to that world of kindness when shame is eating away at your stomach lining.

As selfish as it sounds, if I’m not insanely kind to myself and making myself feel good, I am not really able to spread kindness and love to all those around me (who I love more than life itself.) But being kind to yourself is the right thing regardless – because we are all pretty lovely and special people. What’s the point of striving for a good life when you can’t enjoy it because you are beating yourself up all the time?

So today I wanted to share the mistakes I’ve been making (again, and again, and again) – and what I’m doing to kick them out of my life, sometimes on a moment by moment basis.

  • Don’t start with the hard stuff

Ideally I would become a rapidly better and more well-adjusted person within the next thirteen minutes. Like I would suddenly become stronger and fitter, my bank account would get seriously padded out, my mood would be totally zen, I would start sewing in the evenings by the hearth with sweet little children at my feet who would look up to me with glowing love, my husband would want to tear my clothes off when he next saw me rather than, I suspect, tell me that I need to get my act together and put away the clothes that are making a serious floordrobe in our bedroom.

But this is all big stuff (especially the floordrobe, that’s going to take several weeks at least to sort out). I get so tangled up in expectation sometimes that I forget that the really simple stuff is what makes a difference to the moment right now.

If you want to feel the special beautiful energy of the universe right now – go out and be insanely and sincerely extra nice to everyone you encounter. The surly coffee maker, the board bank clerk, the distracted friend. Pretend that you are sparkling shades of rainbow and you are here to make everyone feel good.

You know what – people really respond and are often both surprised and grateful that someone is being super nice to them. And there you’ve sent a ripple of beauty out into the world, making someone feel good. Sometimes you even get some super lovely energy back, but that’s a bonus.

There is possibly no greater high than giving and feeling that sensation of having lifted someone’s mood. And that’s a good start in the direction of feeling good about your very own self.

  • Complaining brings more shit into my life to complain about

One thing I’m doing a special amount of is trying to not complain, especially throwing complaints at those people who live in my house.

When we complain – or generally think negativity – we are generating a special kind of toxicness that starts from a specific thing we are complaining about – the husband saying something very annoying, the sales agent being rude – but then actually starts to infect other thoughts and parts of your life. I know that once I have a negative spin on a couple of things, it can all of sudden swing out of control and infect everything else I’m thinking about.

And so I am kicking complaining out of my life, again. I mean I really have nothing to complain about. I am healthy, I just ate food with mayonnaise on it and my daughter squealed with joy when she saw me just now – what more could a woman want in life?

(And here is an uber cool website and bookA Complaint Free World – about how when you stop complaining you make your mind a nicer place to live in.)

  • Expectations can lead to insane progress, or…. mental insanity

I am on a bit of a trip to make insane progress with our business this year. I’ve done a tonne of studying, taken a pricey course, made some amazing plans and I have some super high expectations that I want to meet. In previous years of our little lovely business I was so focused on the kids that our business really took a back seat. But now I have worked out how to grow our business – wow my expectations have gone through the roof. But I have to do it lightly and with joy otherwise it won’t work.

If I’m not being seriously intimate with joy, there’s no point doing what I’m doing

I’ve written that all you need as a parent (or a human) is joy – I stand by this – but it’s hard to remember this day in and day out, and to enact it. And so I need to be reminded. And the best way to remind myself is to do things that make me feel deep nourishing joy, as often as I can fit them in to my life.

It’s that joy that gives me the energy to take those moments when joy isn’t abundant and not fall apart – like when the kids are fighting with each other or me, someone’s tired, someone’s hungry, someone is playing with the other ones best friend causing an explosion of jealousy.

So I am committing – again! – to things like this – sitting under trees in the rain, talking long walks by myself, staring out the window at beautiful clouds and asking the kids to fix their own snacks.

This is a step by step process. If you aren’t someone who is naturally skipping with joy then you have to keep bringing yourself back onto the path. So really the whole point of this point – is remember to remember. Once you know it’s something you want then it’s easier to remember.

“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” Anne Lamott (via the beautiful Cara Solomon)

  • Progress has it’s own weird timeline

I think progress operates how me driving a car would –  because I don’t know how to drive. Way back when though I had a couple of lessons and I reckon I could get a car started but I would vere between speeding accelerations, abrupt violent stops, some sluggish chugging along, and more than a few reversals into other people’s cars. That’s how I think progress is going on my business. It’s bloody amazing at times. There have been weeks where I have felt unstoppable. And then something happens and my spokes (do cars have spokes?) pick up some tough sticks or big rocks, and speeds start to decelerate (what a cool word).

But what is entirely awesome is once you have done something once – you can do it again. OK maybe I’m not this uber productive amazing spectacular person who has 98% top productively every day – but I ain’t doing nothing. And to quote my very favourite friend in the world (again Cara Solomon!)- ‘progress is jagged.’

  • Forgetting that fear makes my life very small

I want my life to be like the sky – endless, beautiful, wild, full of interesting weather systems and possibility. I do not want it to be like staring at this small patch of grass that my cat loves to crap on. And I know that when I allow fear to both infect me and stay infecting me, my life becomes so very small. I make choices based on what I don’t want, not what I do want.

So I am saying now – loudly so that fear can hear me – fuck off fear. You are not wanted here.

This is why I end up staring out the window at the sky – a lot – it makes me remember that life is not a small thing, it’s vast and endless and beautiful. It can be anything that we want. It can be filled with love – love for ourselves, for our nearest people, for the strangers we walk past in the street, the people we imagine living in a city over there, thousands of miles away, making tea as we make tea. We are capable of finding love and beauty and joy everywhere – we just have to remember to start with finding it all within ourselves first.

 

My body is disgusting

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I am sitting with a friend having coffee. There are children playing somewhere in the background, there is that kind of disconnected chatting that we parents seem to specialise in. Stopping mid-flow to kiss a wounded knee, quell a major sibling war or to pick up tired bodies.

I love your top, I say. Something I had been meaning to say since we arrived.

Oh thanks, shame about the body underneath. Says my friend.

What? Don’t be silly you have a lovely body. And I am telling the truth. She does.

No I don’t. My body is disgusting! She says. And I am shocked. I pause, I think, a little open mouthed.

No it’s not, you have a beautiful body. I reply. But my words are drowned out by something epic happening in the room above us. She brushes my comment away like I’ve said something mildly offensive, as we are being moved away and onto the next situation. The next experience.

Later at home I think about what she said and I feel epically epically sad. How can this lovely looking woman think her body is disgusting? I mean of course I know why. I am, after all, a woman. But her words were so blunt, so brutal, so honest, it dragged this vague awareness that most women I know have – intense distaste for their bodies – to the forefront of my mind.

I have at many many points in my life thought similar things. Like my body was some kind of enemy that I had to battle against. That my body was horrible, gross, fat and yes even disgusting.

The photo above was from the morning after my son was born, almost eleven years ago. I found it again recently and thought – how lovely do I look? Yet at the time I was convinced I was some kind of giant whale of a woman. Oh dear. And I realised that in ten years time I’ll look back at my 38 year old self and think, oh how lovely. Suddenly I was struck with a revolutionary thought – why not just skip all that not-liking-myself-now, and just skip straight to – I look lovely now!

It’s amazing how the older I get the more logic has been colliding into my life smashing up some of the stupid neurosis that I’ve been carrying around. Because actually so many fears that we have, I’m a horrible person, I am a terrible mother, I’m shit at my job – are actually illogical, and (almost) totally untrue 🙂

It occurred to me that if I think about the bottom line of why I want my body to be nice it’s this – does my husband still wants to have sex with me? And the answer is yes he does. Frequently. Then I actually started to suspect that if I was back on the open market other members of the male sex would also like to share intimate acts with me and my body. So I realised I can’t be that disgusting can I?

To test if this might be true I decided to start walking around like I was some kind of sex goddess. Pretending I was some kind of catwalk model or Beyonce. Can I report back that immediately, immediately, my body of confidence started attracting male eyes (and a few female ones too, whoop whoop :))

But perhaps a bigger thing for me is – beyond who may or may not want to enjoy my body with no clothes on, is that I just plain refuse to not like myself any more. Life is short, I don’t want to waste it being horrible to myself. I am not a serial killer. I haven’t caused the meltdown of the global economy. I am nice to my neighbours. I think I’m quite a nice person. I recycle. Fuck being hard on myself. There is cellulite. There is intense ‘plump-tiousness’. There is a deeply squidgy tummy that feels like the bread dough I knead when I make pizza for my children. So what?

And even though I know the blah blah blah thing about the ideal woman is a twenty year old with a flat stomach and wide hips, that show a lack of pregnancy, rather than signs of both aging and the signs of pregnancies. But you know my husband’s body doesn’t look like a twenty year old Anthony Kiedis anymore and I still like him!

So I make a choice. To love my body. This is a choice I continue to make every day. It’s a choice that everyone can make. It’s like your own personal revolution.

I am now on a new regime. It involves – eating whatever the fuck I want to eat and celebrating my body like it’s the life-giving, sumptuous, Rubenesques wonderfulness that it is. Yes I have moments where my old habit of saying horrid things about my body suck me into that dark, body-hating place. But I counter this by doing body-loving things that help me accept who I am and what I have, these are

  • Spending a tad too long walking around naked in the changing room at the gym (like the ‘tad’ in Airplane, lol!)
  • Enjoying the rolling sensation of my flesh when I walk around naked
  • When appropriate (i.e. when my son is out) naked dancing at home
  • Very tenderly and beautiful putting body oil on my body, slowly and relishing all the little spots of my body. Scars, wrinkles, dents – the whole 9 yards.

For what other reason would I give a shit about whether my body was nice or not? Certainly not for companies who want me to think I’m a pile of crap and buy there stuff. Certainly not for other women or any other group of people. There is literally no other reason as far as I could see that I would want to be attractive in my body. And it seems my body is doing totally fine in that department. I am disappointing no-one. 

And really, it may seem like a victimless crime to not liking my body, but it is in fact far from that if you have kids. The dislike of my body was threatening to transmute by osmosis to my daughter, because unfortunately our daughters feel about their bodies very similarly to how their mothers feel. Think you’re fat and disgusting, it’s likely that’s how your daughter will feel too. Love your body and all that it is, she’s way more likely to love her body too. Society at large will screw them up, but if we don’t start them off strong then they have much, much further to travel to self acceptance.

 

The crazy ways we can hurt ourselves

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I’m sitting at the bottom of the stairs of my little house with a wildly angry child. Her arms and legs are flailing, the emotions are shooting out of her limbs like fireworks.

My child and I lock eyes. In an effort of desperation, because frankly I don’t know what else to do, I say – let’s take a deep breath. I feel sort of insane saying this. She’s never going to buy this hippy crap! I think. She looks at me, I wait cautiously for more screaming, before she too inhales and we both sort of melt. The end of her pain is coming.

It’s been a week of high emotion. Many things jumped into our lives – and I say to my husband that it’s like some kind of test in the form of a devilish assault course.

The children’s feelings seem often an expression of how the husband and I are feeling. When things are going wrong for them I look at us, and often I find that there is tension or stress or fear – some toxic emotions poisoning us.

As she is breathing, I start to breathe too. And it feels good. Like it is taking a little edge off this stirring undercurrent of discomfort that has come from all the jumping over the obstacles that we encountered (well, actually, I tripped over more than a couple. I still feel bruised).

And it feels so completely nice to just sit with in her and breathe, and then we hug and I feel her body totally relax, as I am holding her.I feel, too, a gratefulness in her that she is over that stress – to be free again. We sit for a while on the quiet of the stairs, in the sudden silence. And I realise that I need more of this. Some quiet air circulating around me, through me.

If I’m really honest, I also want someone to come to me and let me shout and scream and shout, and then wrap their body around me, and whisper, as I am whispering in her ear, everything is Ok sweetie, everything is OK.

Later I am getting into bed, as I have finished the long list of tasks and doings that come with living, thoughts from the day start to swirl. And suddenly that icy creep of fear appears. And I know why – because in times of crisis-like situations – which this week has been – I am not always that calm, understanding mother that I was on the stairs today.  I can be unpleasant, petty, hot-headed, and impetuous. I can be a righteous flame of anger (my husband’s helpful description). And it’s usually fear that lights this bonfire of ungraciousness.

It unnerves me.

But seeing as I am on this new trip of kindness, I can’t allow the torrent of judgment that wants to assault me. I can feel it building up, ready to explode like a dirty bomb. But I won’t let it go off. I seize hold of my mind before it does.

There is a concept in Buddhism called the second arrow. (Yes, I might be a Buddhist, I’m not entirely sure). The idea is that the first arrow is the event that causes you pain – a call from a client telling you they aren’t working with you anymore, a slight from a friend, an argument with your child. These are all things that might cause pain. They hit you like an arrow.

The logical way to process this pain, or this arrow, would be to just deal with it, right? Well, that’s really not how many humans operate. What we like to do is to shoot ourselves with a second arrow of pain, and that’s in the form of a big layer of judgement or guilt or shame about the event. Oh I knew that client was going to drop me because I am just not good enough. Or my friend did that because they just doesn’t like me! Have they ever liked me?!?

You get the idea. So not only does it really suck to have two goddam arrows stuck in you, the second arrow just causes confusion – and it becomes nigh on impossible to heal even the first arrow.

So with my brain captured in a vice-like grip, I lay down in bed. I listen to my favourite sound (aside from the soft purr of my children when they are asleep) and that’s the soft patter of rain on my window. Thinking about everything that has passed, the first thing that I see is shame. Shame about the million ways I didn’t get it right. But then I meet it with kindness. Because that’s my bag now, kindness.

I let it all wash over me, the pains of the day, of the week, of anything else that wants to show its face. And then I wash myself over with kindness. Sometimes I actually say, Poor Di. Or – that’s really tough. Like I’m some kind of deranged person. But you know what, it feels good.  And I would say something like this to my children when I am in good-mother mode, so  why can’t I be my own good care-taker?
And so this combination of accepting the pain and meeting it with kindness seems to shift something. I refuse to judge myself, I refuse to allow more pain into my body in the form of a second arrow. And gradually it starts to pass, like everything passes in life. Like clouds that drift across the sky only to disappear to who knows where. And then something new will drift into my world.

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Being the woman behind the man

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(It’s great being married to a photographer…. if you hate having your photo taken. I actually like having my photo taken, weirdly I feel it’s a bit like having a massage. Someone is paying attention you, and I loved being paid attention to. There I’ve admitted it. But it’s OK. I’ve heard no-one reads the internet. So this photo was taken by my girl.)

Right now, I am a woman, behind a man. I am being so totally old fashioned in my life. My feminist 18 year old self would FREAK the shit out if she knew that my 38 year old self was spending most of her time building a business out of a her husband’s passion – photography.

She would feel anger lashing out of her tongue. She would think of poor Henri Cartier Bresson’s second wife, Martine Franck, who gave up her own promising photography career to help him with his already crazy successful career. History is littered with the wasted talents of millions of other women who have been the support, force, drive or help behind their husbands careers, to the detriment of their own.

Disgusting, I would say!

Regressive, I would scream!

Pathetic, I would mutter.

I will never never never never be like that. Says my 18 year old self. And yet here I am – and I’ve never been so goddam happy. What the….?

Here is why I love being the woman behind the man:

The love I have for being a mother totally slapped me in the face – I was so surprised by it. OK so it didn’t arrive straight away, and at the beginning I was often desperate to get away at times. Like when I went to Paris for the weekend when my son was 3 months old. But you know, I settled into it. And wow I now really super love being a mum. So I don’t want to have a job that demands that I put it first. I want to be able to take the day off to tend to a sick child. Or take them out to a cafe for breakfast on a Monday morning and talk to them about how the brain works. But of course I want good money to do the work I do. And I want it to be crazy interesting. And really the best kind of money I knew I could get with this kind of crazy fun and total flexibility was to help my husband make more money.

PS – it’s so wildly against my nature to be this pragmatic about work. It feels totally exciting that me and pragmatism can do things together at last.

The more cool stuff I create for our business and for my husband to do, the happier he is and the more awesome things he does for the family. I help him be happy, he spreads all that love and joy around all of us. He is a super hands on dad so I win by having an even more involved dad. And we all win from that.

Life is long (hopefully) and childhood is short. My kids won’t be living at home forever. So even if I wanted to breakout on my own and have a different kind of career to what I am doing now – I still have tonnes of time to do whatever I want when they are older/leave home. Now I know lots of people will shout at me and say – being 50 in a job market is impossible! Well to that I say – I shall not give a fuck for these kinds of worries. Determination and bloody mindedness will get you everywhere. Look at the amazing comedian Leslie Jones, who became at 48 the oldest comedian that Saturday Night Live had ever hired (great New Yorker article on her). Or the 68 year old woman who became a DJ or sculptor Louise Bourgeois who made her greatest work after the age of 80.

I am not going to let age get in the way of anything. Because I am only getting older, and quite frankly I am getting much better as each year passes. I won’t let the world miss out on the awesomeness that will be me at 50 just because I’m, well, 50.

And you know what – here is the honest truth – what I secretly believe, deep down, is that someone is going to love my blog so much one day they’ll pay me to write a book. Ha ha, got you feminism! This whole working with my husband is just a ploy to become more successful than him!

I shall have my cake and eat it too.

 

Lies I tell about myself

 

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It’s late and I can’t sleep. So I get up and sit listening to the rain and eat crisps. It’s the end of the first proper week of the New Year and I am feeling pretty good, which surprises me. Often at this point I am knee deep in vast seas of irritation or anxiety about myself – all the things I am not doing with my life (there is a lengthy, lengthy list). But I have decided this year to be kind to myself and I have noticed that it’s already making a difference.

I’ve been reading a lot of late about how we create habits, and this lead me to a little discovery. It occurred to me in a shocking, urgent way this evening that I’ve been telling lies about myself. A lot of lies and so consistently that I even believe them myself.

What was so wonderfully nice about this shock was that it was unlike most realizations I’ve had in the past – which always seem to revolve around something terrible in my life that I’m in denial about. Like epically dreadful financial decisions or the habit of saying something awful to my kids. Those thoughts that zip up your spine in ice-cold pain, and fill your heart and head with burning hot shame. I’ve had a lot of those.

No, this realisation was quite stunningly the opposite. Lies that I had told about myself that weren’t completely or at all, true. Things that I habitually denigrated myself for. Like – oh I am so disorganised! Laugh, laugh, laugh. How many jokes have I made out of that?

(A few days ago my husband told me my shirt was inside out. Oh, said I. Didn’t you notice when you were putting it on? said he. And I remembered quite distinctly that I did think there was something strange about the buttons that morning. But my mind didn’t seem to go beyond the thought of “that’s weird”….)

And things of that ilk will probably continue to happen because quite frankly I am what I shall politely (and kindly) refer to myself as a dreamy, intensely thinking person. I remember as a child feeling very relieved when I would find myself alone as I always had a backlog of thoughts that I needed to process.

But here is the truth that I have been hiding from the world and myself: I am not disorganised.  I am actually pretty organised with the things that are really important to me: my kids’ very interesting lives and our business. I can’t add my social life into that mix because I don’t have one (I agree with Claudia Winkleman, women can have two out of the three big life things: a big career, children or a social life. I squeezed a too-wild and too-unteathered social existence into my pre-kids’ life that I am still exhausted from, so I don’t miss it.)

(BTW My husband organises the possessions in our house – and the kids ever growing toenails – he is great. I will be kind about my organisational skills now, but I won’t claim credit for the organisation I don’t do.)

And here’s the second great big fat lie that I seem to be spreading about myself: I am lazy. This evening I suddenly had this vision of myself age 17 sitting in a cafe. It was where you would find me almost everyday, and I would be writing. I would write for several hours at a time.

So OK, maybe I wasn’t going to school and doing my very best to get good grades, but I was extremely focused on improving my skills as a writer – which doesn’t sound very lazy to me.

Then life pushed me off course, and by the age of 24 I had quit dreams of being a writer. I remember a huge argument with my future husband on Hungerford Bridge in London about this decision. I told him I had nothing important to write about and I needed to go off and live. Maybe that’s true, maybe I was right in realising that my writing then was unsophisticated. But maybe I was just terrified and too scared to put myself in the firing line of other people’s opinions. Whatever the reason, I stopped my love of writing after many years of diligent practise.

But it’s funny that I now realise that for years I was paying attention to a story about myself that I was lazy – perhaps picked up because I felt guilty about missing school so often. But what I didn’t recognise was the story that I had extreme dedication and focus on something that was incredibly important to me.

“Most anxiety stems from self-fabricated stories based on speculation and assumption. We tell ourselves fictional stories about the people in our lives or the circumstances that befall us. We do it all the time. Seldom do we notice what we’re doing. ” Scott Gortno

I share these stories in the hope that you will reflect on the narrative that you tell the world about your life. Reality is subjective and we are often hopelessly bad at recognizing the good that we are – whilst completely overemphasizing all that we are not.

“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” Pema Chödrön

Why do we do this?  Why do we emphasis the worst of ourselves? Spend so many acres of our time denigrating ourselves for the things we do badly and the things that maybe, just maybe, we actually do quite well. Isn’t that like some special form of craziness?

We carry these stories about ourselves like badges, identifying ourselves to the world. And it wouldn’t matter but they are ususally so negative. And when you feel a negative idea about yourself it seeps into other parts of you, poisoning your-self against your-self.  And OK this isn’t a stop-the-press-new-idea, but wouldn’t you say that believing a lot of negative things is bad for your mind?

Because most of the things we think about ourselves are actually just formed through habit. Someone said something years ago about us that stuck, or we learned to interpret who we are from other parts of our personality. Like maybe how because I am drastically messy I assumed I was a super dis-organised person.  (When actually when I have something I want to achieve – I am on it!)

Our habits are so entrenched and ingrained that our self-denigration eventually become normal, and who we think we are.

But once we know that these stories about ourselves are not real, we can start breaking this habit of bad-mouthing ourselves.  It’s not easy – how much easier is it to just relax back into the can’t do it/can’t be bothered to change scenario.  But it is possible. Just banish one negative story at a time. One – at – a – time. Until you get out of the habit of doing it at all (even if it takes a year who cares, I’d rather like to have the rest of my life after that being happier).

So this year, as part of my year of kindness I am not going to propagate any more lies about myself to the world. I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime.  I will fact-check every funny quip, off the cuff remark and jokey banter. Although I will never ever, ever claim that getting dressed is something I have mastered.

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All you need this year is one good idea

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I slipped out of bed this morning, careful not to disturb the sleeping bodies so easily woken. I was eager for a few moments alone in the quiet of my house with my morning drink.  I walked around the corner to replenish our coffeepot; the streets were empty and the sky was covered in bands of pink clouds. It felt like an illicit pleasure – aloneness, beauty and eventually, a strong and deep cup of coffee.

I’ve been reading tonnes of blogs these past few days about planning and new year’s resolutions. I love a good plan, a strategy to pull all my thoughts and ideas together, something documented that makes it all real and possible (and so it seems does my son, who sat the family down last night for a presentation done in his giant notebook with a plan to become a more relaxed family. Boy genius.)

One blog stood out to me more than others – Penelope Trunk’s Resolution for 2016. In it she discusses how resolutions don’t work unless you can express them in a simple way. For her:

“So for 2016 I’m going to accept who I am:  Someone who struggles everyday to accept the realities of parenting in the context of a world that celebrates people who give up everything for work.”

And I love, love, love that instead of something like – get fit! get rich! be better! – it’s an idea. And so for me my overall desire for 2016 is actually a continuation from previous years, but I hope to get better and better at: being ridiculously, abundantly, wonderfully kind – to myself.

Possibly you might think I was going to say it to the world, my local community – hell, maybe even my kids. But myself, why? Because I know that really all of things I want to achieve this year – publish another photo book with the husband, launch an online photo course, be a great mum, a wonderful friend etc –  are only possible, really possible, if I feel good about myself.

And one thing I know very well about myself is – if I am not kind to myself I am at risk of mentally beating myself into a bloody pulp everytime I mess something up (and messing up is inevitable seeing as I am a human being). I have found that the first step in that process of feeling good about myself, is to treat myself with absolute kindness.

It’s so intensely easy to be hard on yourself in today’s culture. Always being reminded of what you are not, always falling short of a perception of perfection. But I have decided I don’t care what crimes I am committing against domesticity or slenderness or grown-upness. After all – I am not a serial killer. I am (mostly) quite a nice person. So in 2016 I will:

Appreciate everything about myself,  even the crap things, and treat myself with the gentle, loving kindness that I treat my most treasured gifts – my friends and family. I will accept my imperfections as a mother, a wife, a friend, a human, and treat myself with kindness and love all the same.

This idea of kindness to myself has been a theme for a number of years. Ever since at the age of 31 I found myself lost and broken by grief when I lost a baby girl late in pregnancy. I found a pathway back to life, and eventually to joy, when I decided to abandon my previous ways of being so insanely hard on myself and instead embrace myself with kindness.

So when my mind starts on that path of being hard on myself, on my many imperfections, instead of beating myself up I try to offer up the kind of kindness that I would offer a friend or my child when in pain. I try to imagine it not being my problem, but voiced in that wonderful voice of my best girl friend or my beautiful son. Sometimes even to my husband (well not that often. Maybe next year I’ll start a be-kind-to-my-husband-most-of-the-time resolution. But like the airplanes say, put your safety mask on first before you help others.)

By being gentle and kind to myself I have managed to transform my relationship with myself and with the people around me. I am a much better mother (most of the time), I am a better wife (the husband has testified to this and I’ve been with him for sixteen years).

I couldn’t have started a business without it or stopped myself from crumbling with guilt over my various parenting disasters without this attitude of kindness.

And so it’s this idea that I am completely committing to this year, my year of kindness.