Category Archives: News

Keep Smiling

I have been told I’m a smiley person and that I have nice white teeth which is always nice to hear! However, I have recently read that smiling itself may be good for your health. Researchers have found that wearing a smile may have health benefits such as slowing down your heart rate and reducing stress. A genuine smile is thought to be really good for you although even a polite smile may be beneficial. Frowning, on the other hand is not so good for your health.
Some weeks ago back in my home town in New York State I picked up a business card which simply read “Keep Smiling”. On the reverse it quotes the value of a smile. A smile is not only good for the ‘smiler’ itself but also benefits the ‘smilee’ so to speak.
“A smile costs nothing but gives much”.
“Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of Yours.”
“None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and no one is so poor that he can not be made richer by it”.
My favourite quote is probably “No one needs a smile as much as he who has none to give.”
And so it goes on.

A health professional told me recently that he has worked with people with whom he has helped train to smile. How sad that must be.

Two of my best buddies told me yesterday that they make a point of doing something on New Year’s Day that sets the tone for the year ahead. I love the sentiment. In amongst all our resolutions for 2015 I feel to keep smiling is certainly achievable.

Happy New Year 2105!

Check out the link below:
 

http://thedailysmile.com/

 

I can’t be bothered to meditate!

And yet, when I do I feel so much better! It’s just like exercising, often I don’t fancy getting dressed in to my gym kit or packing up my swimming cossie, but 9 times out of 10, I feel so much better when I do it. Of course, I’ll think of loads of reasons not to exercise or meditate but can I really convince myself that I haven’t got 10 minutes to spare? Well, yes actually I can….. Yet, today I feel good for doing it. Now on to walking the dogs with mum…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

Or so sang Andy Williams in 1963!

Christmas for some of us can be highly stressful and also a time where we feel anxious about doing our best, controlling our children’s excitement and expectations, dealing with disappointment, prepping the turkey and trimmings, second guessing who likes what etc.etc.

I love a big family get-together and so that is why I love Christmas. Trimming the tree, helping mum with chutney and Christmas cake is great fun and calms me down; a special type of mindfulness. I love a tour of all the gaudy decorations in the neighbourhood; I hope one day I’ll have the guts to decorate my house like a giant Christmas tree! Big kids and little kids love it.

Christmas can too, be a sad time. A time to reflect on people we have lost. I try to tell stories and imagine what it would be like if they were still here and what they would be doing or saying. It makes me smile. What would they make of it all?

Finally, on to my main reason for blogging today. An old friend some months back passed on the details of www.headspace.com
Of course it has taken me 6 months to sit down and do it but now I’m hooked! It’s a great site and they offer guided 10 minute meditations for 10 consecutive days as part of a free trial. Where am I gonna get 10 minutes a day from, I hear you cry! I thought exactly the same and I feel anxious going in to do it but is SO worth it. You need a tablet/laptop/computer and an upright chair, headphones perhaps and the hardest part I think; a room to yourself for 10 minutes. I’ve downloaded the app on to my iPad.

Sorry my brain is a bit addled this morning so I can’t remember how to hyperlink! Go to www.headspace.com and click on
‘Sign up for free’.

Also if you fancy a listen to Andy Williams, copy and paste this in to your browser:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gFtb3EtjEic

Now I’m off to force myself to meditate!! As Munchie would say:’crazy, right?’

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone xxx

Meltdowns all round

In the battle of the mummy versus Munchie meltdown, who wins? A few days ago we put this to the test! Dinner and bath time can, as we all know, be a trying time of day. The witching hour. Munchie and I had had a crazy busy day, trying to fit in too much; 2 playdates, gymnastics, a quick stop at the supermarket, topped off by a bit of home baking. She was in the bath and didn’t want to get out. The water was getting cold so I pulled the plug. There were tears and struggles. She believed she’d be warmer if she stayed in the water, I was trying to get her dry and find her pyjamas as quickly as possible. She wriggled and ran about. We started to get her pjs on and her lip bashed against my zip toggle. Hysteria broke loose! I felt bad but it was the cherry on the top of the cake for my temper and I threw the pyjamas at her and went to my room, swearing on the way. I needed a time out! I didn’t really want to lose my temper right in front of her. I took some deep breaths, she came in sobbing and we both said sorry to each other and had a big cuddle. I apologised and also tried to explain that at the end of the day I’m tired and it makes things tough. Not sure if her brain is developed enough for that information yet but I think it’s good to be honest about feelings. The irony of this whole scenario is that just the day before I’d been to a peaceful parenting workshop. I really liked the philosophy but I must admit that some of the strategies to avoid confrontation will require a shift in how I address things. I’m not a ‘shouty’ parent really, but we all lose our temper and we’re only human. Sometimes daily realities and time pressures make it hard to explain and tackle in a more peaceful way. I’m always open to making tweeks and learning new methods. Yonks ago my little sister recommended ‘What every parent needs to know’ (Margot Sunderland), a great book based on studies in to children’s brains and their development. I found it very interesting and keep referring back to it. My latest quandry has been Munchie’s reintegration in to the school routine and principally dropping her off is causing some upset although she always comes home happy. A new strategy may be required!

Reminiscing or not

Some recent reading and a discussion with a loved one really got me thinking about how we think about and come to terms with having suffered with postpartum psychosis. Some people find their offspring’s birthday a tricky time of year as they recall such a tough and traumatic experience. The aforementioned loved one said they felt it was not a time to be nostalgic about. While I understand that point of view, I have mixed feelings about the experience. Of course there were many extremely frightening times and it was hard to be separated from my daughter. I know it was really horrendous for my nearest and dearest to watch me in such a condition without understanding initially what was going on. However, my aunty told me that during my first day and night of what I now know was ‘mania’, I said it was the best day of my life. I know that isn’t true but I was really excited about being a new mum and I was ecstatic. I was delusional too and I had lots of weird thoughts and beliefs. I’m sure my excitement was exacerbated by being unwell but it’s hard to separate those emotions. Being in a state which meant at times I had no inhibitions enabled me to really speak my mind, obviously not always a good thing, but a very liberating experience, though I had limited clarity. It was terrifying to be so out of control but I (not so secretly) enjoyed a modicum of rebellion (I got my sister to dye my hair red in the hospital bathroom, for instance).
I hope we don’t have to go through the experience again but it is hard for me to separate the wonderful experience of childbirth with the scary experience of postpartum psychosis. I feel (as cliched as it may sound) that I learnt a lot about myself and I certainly met some amazing people and as strange as it may sound, I had some memorable experiences along the way.

In reality…

The wise words of babes, eh? Over dinner a few evenings ago we were talking about future plans for Munchie. Very hypothetically, you understand.

Me: “How many children would you like?”

Munchie: “Well, four or five.”

Me: “I used to think I would like four or five too, but in reality it was a bit different.”

Munchie: “Yeah, in reality you just had one, me!” (Huge smile and chuckle)

Grins all round really! What a classic remark for such a small being! Moments like that just capture the joy your offspring can bring you.

Fall commences

Last week was so dreadfully humid that for the first time I can remember I was looking forward to the end of summer. Saturday night saw a good storm and plenty of rain to blow away the humidity. I had been craving for a swim in the sea so on Sunday afternoon we headed down to Jones Beach, Long Island and it was idyllic. The air was considerably cooler and the waves were small and during the afternoon Munchie’s confidence in the water grew and grew. I was thrilled that she had so much fun. “I love the sea!” she exclaimed. She really is her mother’s daughter in that regard. We sat in the wash, paddled and swam as well as papa and Munchie digging a large sand car.

Munchie is back at preschool now and I’m pleased to be settling back in to a routine, although I will confess the alarm call is taking some getting used to! She has been asking about going back but of course when dropping her off, she has been a bit reluctant to go in. When I collect her, she is all smiles and talks about all her friends and playing mermaids in the yard. I am happy to be able to attend yoga regularly and have a fixed weekly appointment with my LPC (Licensed Professional Counsellor). On advice from some British friends, I had hoped to start seeing a psychotherapist but have found it hard to track one down locally and under my health insurance. Training for an LPC seems fairly rigorous and so far, so good with my new lady. I’ll keep you posted.

I have not been writing as much as I would like over the summer but hopefully with a new ‘fall’ routine I will be back on form.

Family visit

I had such a lovely time whilst my mum and step-sister were here. I really enjoyed watching Munchie and mum enjoy each other’s company, showing them where we live and just hanging out and catching up. We took a couple of trips in to NYC, one was just K and I and we explored the Museum of Modern Art together. On another occasion we all did a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of downtown Manhattan with a hop-off so we could walk Brooklyn Bridge. I tried to include as many North American experiences as possible; we shopped at the mall, we ate in the diner, we ‘ordered in’ huge pizza, we grilled on the barbeque and many ice creams were devoured over the 10 days. Another favourite activity was building sandcastles at the river beach, mum is a champion sandcastle builder. Aside from getting out and about, we hung out at home and some days were so hot in the middle of the day that we took refuge in the aircooled house. Munchie and nonna did arts and crafts, played with the doll’s house and lego and mum and I made chutney from our home grown green ‘tomaytoes’. Of course, no mother’s visit would be complete without cooking and a few chores and mum did a sterling job of those plus ironing all of AJ’s shirts (many of which have been in the basket for weeks if not months!) and scrubbing the shower tray back to its original colour! AJ and I managed two dates too!

Spending time with family or close friends, people who know you so well and you are at ease with, is such a precious thing. It is tough not having those people at your fingertips. However I have been lucky to meet some great people and form some special relationships here in the USA. Munchie and I felt sad when we dropped nonna and K at the airport and Munchie wanted to know when they’d be back again. As I put her to bed that night, I told her I was feeling a bit sad.

“Why mummy?” she asked me.

“I miss my mummy.”

“But she was only here this morning!”

I like her sense of perspective!

Study shows breastfeeding ‘cuts depression risk’

This is interesting – I had huge issue coming to terms with my struggle to breastfeed and can remember howling in the middle of the night just a few days after Munchie was born.  I felt a failure at the time. I hadn’t even considered the alternatives and didn’t know where to start with formula milk. I hope families and professionals can continue to support women in this difficult situation. Read more here