Brain Dumping

The crazy in my life has been ramping up again. It goes in cycles and given my love of analytics, you think I’d have a chart or plan or something to prepare myself, but no, I just have lists. And lists of lists. And reminders that beep. And a brain that won’t quiet, so even when I’m sleeping, I’m doing things. Working through things. Making plans.

DD has been invited to dance with the degree level, pre-professional ballet dancers for the next 12 weeks, and then perform with them. It’s a huge deal. Ginormous. So of course she accepted. Which means she is now dancing 5 days a week and yours truly will be schlepping her across town. Tweak, adjust, diarise. Did I mention one of these days is Saturday? Who needs a life? I’m happy for her, so damn happy, but I’m so damn tired, too. And I only have one child. How do people do this with multiples?

The Brexit situation is still making me anxious, even though I know I’m not at risk. But how can I be quiet and smug when other dual citizenship families are? What kind of a person would that make me? So I tweet, and sign petitions, and find information, and share it. And stay emotionally involved, which is draining.

So here’s my challenge to myself today:


Is the news really the news?

In July, I wrote about how I couldn’t handle social media with its constant stream of catastrophes. Not much has changed in the last couple of months. Even the Twitter hashtags get taken over with vitriol, and it’s hard to know which way is up when all I want to do is get facts. Information.

wtfIt freaks me out that in response to events in the USA, London has upped its security, which means a massive police presence everywhere. When I’m shopping. When I’m out for lunch. When we’re at the park. I’m not disputing the need for them, but I do hate the reasons for them. It saddens me that we have an emergency plan for when we’re out of the house. That my ten-year-old is aware and always alert when on the move.

How did we get here? What legacy are we leaving our children?

X is for kisses

kissesAll kinds of kisses. Raspberry kisses reserved for baby tummies. Passionate kisses reserved for new loves. Familiar kisses for old loves. I-want-to-kill-you-for-leaving-a-red-sock-in-the-wash-but-I-Love-You-kid kisses. I’m-only-kissing-you-to-stay-in-your-good-books kisses. 

Today’s kisses are going to the locum doctor who heard my tale of woe and has given me a prescription for stronger steroids and antihistamines. I have taken the pill, applied the cream, and now, for the first time in two weeks, feel no pain. I don’t want to rip my face off any more! So kisses, doctor man, kisses. I almost didn’t take it because I mis-heard fexofenadine for fluoxetine – duh!

But no fluoxetine. Just fexofenadine. Simply typing these is making me dizzy.

What makes me less amused is the steroid cream for my red, itchy, welty hives. Its possible side effects include “skin irritation, e.g. redness, rash, itching or burning on application, or allergic inflammation of the skin (contact dermatitis)”. Oh, yay! But I’m not going to worry about that. I’m just going to look forward to a good night’s sleep.

Sidebar: There were a lot of X words to choose from, but none that didn’t make me scratch my head. 




I am felled…

sadness-451917_640I am exhausted with a lack of sleep and a surfeit of worry.

Four weeks ago, DD got norovirus. It was disgusting, noisy, and plain debilitating. She just about got over that, when two weeks ago, she got croup. Croup! At the age of nearly-ten. We soldiered on through that and the bone-chilling barking cough which accompanies it. She mustered on.

Two nights ago, she complained her throat was sore. I thought it was the usual mid-term slump kicking in and put her to sleep. She came to our bed in the middle of the night, begging for cuddles. She was absolutely burning up and within a few minutes of holding her, both of us were sweaty and gross. Down the hall I stumbled in search of paracetamol and ibuprofen. You think I’d learn to keep them in my night-stand by now!

She’s been in agony for two days, fighting the fever and not being able to swallow properly without severe pain. I know she’s just got to ride it out but it’s hard to tell her that. I’m her mother and I’m supposed to have magic skills which makes the pain go away, only I don’t, and I can’t. I’m struggling with my fallibility as much as I’m struggling with her pain.

This month has triggered memories of her early months, where we possibly spent more time in hospital than we did at home. When we functioned on adrenalin. When I squashed every emotion, every thought, every fear into a Pandora’s box. I’m ten years older, and hopefully a little wiser now, and I know the repercussions of those actions, but my instinct is to not voice my fear, in the hope that by not naming it, it will not escalate, and it will go away. Far, far away.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.

One Week On…

It’s been a week since Friday 13 November. What a day, what a week. I have taken the last week off from most social media and news updates, and even took a break from reading blog posts from friends.

I just needed to re-group, pull myself together, and not fall down the spiral of thinking the world is a pretty horrific place. Yes, as humans, we do some pretty darn awful things to each other. But I have seen enough examples of goodness, kindness and humanity to resist tarring everyone with the same brush, and for my own sanity, needed to avoid seeing anything to the contrary. 

IMAG0337_2Naive? Perhaps. But it’s worked. I’m still a bit jumpy about leaving the house and acknowledging the possibility that London may be next, but on the whole, I’m OK. 

I’m facing forward to Thanksgiving/husband’s birthday and the start of Yuletide (which means baking goodies like these edible ornaments). And catching up on all the posts I’ve missed. Expect some seriously delayed comments!

Stress Test: the autumn edit

wtfWanna see me twitch? Make me update my CV, start an MBA application, research funding and then think about referees. Gah!

It makes all my foot-stomping you-can’t-make-me skills come to the fore.

The process of evaluation, the judging, the possibility that they will look and find me lacking – these break me out in a cold sweat. I wish I could be slightly narcissistic and see this experience as an opportunity to talk about me and my razzle-dazzle, but the darn truth is, I don’t trade in that malarkey. I should, I know I should, if I want to ‘get places’ and ‘be someone’. 

I have to create a pitch video, too! If you’ve read my posts, you’ll know I’m hyperventilating into a paper bag at this thought. I hide from normal cameras, preferring to be the photographer. Now you want my lips to move, my face not to make weird contortions, and sense to issue from my lips – all at the same time? 

But in the spirit of 2015, you know I’m going to do this. I’m going to grit my effing teeth, hone my blurb, edit, edit, edit, and hit submit by November 4th. This is a huge step outside my comfort zone and a huge reach, and I just have to do it.

Because how on earth am I ever going to convince my daughter to shoot for the stars if I don’t do it myself? 

Breathe Deep & Act Normal v2

panic anxiety stressIt’s been a while since I’ve had to breathe deep and act normal. I’ve had the usual worries, niggles, fears – but nothing that’s ground me to a halt. Until last week.

I received an email out of the blue a few weeks ago from the MIT Sloan School of Management, inviting me to an MBA event in London. Turns out, they think I’m a ‘stand-out’ woman. I’m sure they say that to a lot of women, but it still made me chuckle. I rarely talk about my day job on the blog, for fear of chasing away people with how truly nerdy I am. I get excited about automating process flows, for Pete’s sake! So for MIT to take notice of my nerd skills was entertaining, but not something I really wanted to explore if it involved networking. Otherwise known as talking to total strangers about myself. Eeeeek. And hyperventilate.

When I didn’t respond to the original email invite, I got a follow up. This event was going to be a face-to-face meet and greet with all the top global business schools, and a chance to ‘sell’ myself to them and their programs. Didn’t I want to invest in myself? (A bit of history here: I started an MBA the year before the global financial crisis, and when I took voluntary redundancy, I negotiated a lot, but not the ongoing funding for the MBA. It’s a crippling amount of money, and I just completed the first unit.) I was all set to RSVP ‘Hell No’, when Husband Dear urged me (strongly) to attend. So I did.

There were several points during the day when I nearly talked myself out of going. I had no idea what to expect which made it impossible to map out contingencies which set me firmly outside of my safe zone. Ergo spiralling discomfort and panic. I dropped DD to ballet and had a calming coffee. I read something trashy on my Kindle. And then it took 70 texts back and forth with Husband Dear to get me in the building. I was a mass of knots, which was strangely not evident in the very calm face I saw reflected in the elevator mirror. I had on a very pointed pair of shiny black shoes. The pain from my squeezed toes gave me something to focus on other than my spiralling panic. 

I took a small lap around the snack area – well, for stand-out women they offer canapés and other fancy finger foods – before I took a deep breath and walked into the networking area. Commence asphyxia. Focus on hobbled toes. Unclench jaw. I almost drew blood from curling my fingernails into my palms. Cue the fake smiles and the “Hiiiiiii, yeah, I’m exploring my options….”. I was almost dizzy with breathlessness, and a lack of food.

I finally hit my stride at the Copenhagen Business School, where I was sounding more like myself and less like a constipated chipmunk on helium. My heartbeat was almost back to normal. There was a really good alumnae panel after the networking section which also made me realise that what I lack in confidence, I make up for in age and experience. So I went back round again, a lot calmer, to check out a few more programs. And it turns out, the ones I really felt at home with, or synced the most with where I am and where I want to be, are the London programs. Who da thunk?

Now I just need to figure out if I really want to do this. We’re talking 18-24 months of some serious studying. Something tells me it’s going to put a huge crimp in my blogging time and my TV time and it might actually mean I have to get a responsible job at the end of it (no, running my own company doesn’t count as a responsible job). 

Any words of advice? An eight-ball I could borrow? A tarot reading? How do I know if I want to ‘invest’ in myself? Am I really cut out for this if terms like ‘investing in myself’ make me cringe and giggle in equal measure?

Finding Connections

This week has made me feel a little like a Jonah Hill GIF. Google it.

IMG_20150309_080451_editI felt garbled and disconnected and when I stumbled across Jay’s Daily Prompt response here in my Reader… I started looking for more to cheer me up. I found these beautiful denuded trees (I highly recommended enlarging the image), juicy vines and this mahoosive market in Barcelona.

It reminded me of one of my favourite posts, Precious Mornings.

I’m going to re-connect with myself through a relaxed weekend involving books, magazines and coffee. Yes, I’m back on the coffee, just one a day keeps the grumps away. And I’m on Instagram as – you guessed it – PetalandMortar!

Adult colouring me happy!

The lovely Pens have been put to good use. One did roll through the slats in the decking, but favourite husband came to the rescue and it is back safe with its 11 colours in arms.






it's not about neatness, fer sure!

Any other recommendations for colouring books or Downloads? The book I’m using was a fiver on Amazon. Score!

Re-Adjusting Focus

Yesterday, I wrote about meeting potential after-school carers/nannies, and throwing my worries to the wind (or putting my trust in the Lord, if we go with ma-in-law). Today, it’s back to the drawing board. So what went wrong?

Weeeeellllll…..the first candidate was OK: pleasant, educated, not the most fluent English speaker, but seemed competent. I ranked her a 15/20. The second gave me serious cause for concern. She seemed tired, confused and I had to repeat myself every second sentence. Also, she had a very wet, limp handshake. One of my pet peeves is a wet, limp handshake. Shudder. If the option was her or nothing, well, as I told husband on Skype, let’s just say I’d trust DD on her own.

Instead of this experience truly throwing me, and sending me into a panic spiral, I was just annoyed that they didn’t work out. Breton Bestie and the neighbour have reminded me they can help in a pinch. My old assistant who’s in between jobs has agreed to cover all next week, and another nanny emailed this morning, asking if I still needed help. So maybe this whole ‘worries to the wind’ thing works! I wrote about the compounded effect of a thousand small adjustments and corrections, and the power of small wins and slow gains in a PTSD-recovery post in February. Today, I feel like I’m reaping the benefits of CBT: I think I’ve finally had a ‘normal’ reaction to a setback.

Disclaimer: I still wanted to resort to baking this morning (I went up 4 sizes due to PTSD-related baking after DD was born), but I opted to make one batch of aubergine dip and one batch of chicken liver pate to nourish, rather than numb, myself. Tomorrow, I will experiment with a gooey, gluten-free chocolate something, ready for the #FoodPornThursdays link-up. 

How are you doing? Have you made any small adjustments which have resulted in huge gains? How do you get yourself out of a panic spiral?