“Anxiety”

Anxiety,

That old chestnut.

The one that fills you with dread,

Jolting you awake from your restless slumber.

Leaving you unable to sleep.

You feel totally exhausted because you have to battle to get through the day without becoming an emotional wreck,

When all you want to do is run and hide until you feel in control again,

Because your brain is running at hyper speed overanalysing and installing fear into every decision even if it isn’t one that will make a jot of difference in the long run.

Some days it just hovers at the edge.

Other days it totally overwhelms you,

And you just don’t know where to turn,

Or what to do,

Because you’re so afraid of it all falling apart,

Even if you know that logically it won’t do,

But it’s hard to reason with anxiety,

When it is in full panic mode.

It can be so hard for others to understand your anxiety,

Or how it can impacts on you,

Because it is not visible like a injury.

We’re so used to “just getting on with it”,

That it can be hard to take a step back and admit that we’re struggling to cope.

What can you do to help?

You can listen without judgement,

And allow us to offload,

Even if none of it makes sense to you.

You can hold us tight because we need that physical comfort to reassure us.

You can be there,

Reminding us that no matter how much we are struggling,

That you are there and you care.

“Friday Group”

For a number of years I have been involved in a group that meet regularly on a Friday morning.

The group was set up by a friend who felt prompted by God to set up a little group to meet at her house on a regular basis to enable support and to develop friendship between those with young babies in our church.

The original group consisted of six mums and their babies. Over the years the group has grown, members have moved on and new ones joined. We’ve watched bumps grow into babies turn into toddlers and observe them develop as children. The group opened up beyond Mums to include Dads and Grandparents.

Various people have taken on the role of opening up their homes and hosting over the years to enable our group to maintain that homely feel.

When I was invited to join the original group, none of us had any idea that it would flourish all these years or the impact it would have on us individually. For me personally the group enabled me to have social interaction at a time when I struggled to be in bigger and noisier environments due to my rapidly declining hearing. For a another friend it enabled her to just come and be a Mum and not as an organiser running the group.

Within the group there is no pressure to attend regularly, and all are supportive of one another that extends outside of the times that we meet.

It is a group where we can come, just sit and have a brew with a slice of cake with no expectations upon us to talk if we just want to sit. Equally there is no judgement if we need to offload or seek advice. There is recognition that caring for a baby or child can be exhausting and challenging especially when surviving on little sleep. Quite often you will find a small baby being passed around being given attention by others to enable an exhausted mother to have a hot drink and the chance to relax.

I recall on one occasion when an exhausted mother came with her newborn whereby the baby had a major poop explosion. The group sprung into action to help the mother clean herself and her baby up, providing wipes, nappy and change of clothing as the mother in her exhausted state had forgotten to bring a bag with all the essentials. No judgement was made, as we’ve all been there at some point.

It’s not just the adults that have benefited from this group. Our children have too. It has enabled them to develop their social skills and build up relationships with others outside of their immediate family.

In today’s society it is easy to feel isolated as a parent particularly as very few have a network of family close by to offer advice and support. This group has enabled so many to find a support network and to build long lasting friendships. We definitely need more “Friday Groups” in today’s society as it would make such a difference to many people.

My time at the group is coming to an end as my youngest prepares to start school. It will seem strange not to attend the group anymore although I suspect I may not be able to resist sneaking in for the odd slice of cake and baby cuddles!

I am so thankful for my friend plucking up the courage to invite five other strangers and their babies into her home, and so proud of how that vision has developed over the years.

I can honestly say that it has been a real privilege to be part of “Friday Group” for so long and to share in the lives of so many lovely people and their families.

“Rise Up”

I have a dear friend who sadly was subjected to a number of years abuse by a man. She was not the first either.

This was a man that she once loved. A man who should have loved, cherish, respected and protected her. He did none of those things. Instead he abused her both emotionally and physically. He took away her self esteem and made her think it was all her fault.

Over time she was supported by a feisty bunch of women to find the courage to leave him to start a new life.

It was not easy for her to escape or to go where he could not find her and their children because he was so determined not to let her go to the extent he stalked her and made threats.

She took the brave step of informing the police and seeking support from local services. The police found other women who he has abused previously and built a case against him.

At times she was in despair that she would ever break free from him or her past. She doubted herself so many times as to whether she had made the right decision for her little family as life wasn’t easy moving from shelter to shelter.

He tried to intimidate her into withdrawing her statement but she stayed strong. The case went to court.

My friend has faced abuse from others during this time who attempted to play down what he has done or blamed her.

Her feisty group of women never lost faith and encouraged her to keep going, even when all seemed lost.

Today that man has been sentenced for what he did to my friend and all those other women. Justice was served today as he has been sent to prison for a very long time. Today marks a new chapter in my friend’s life, one where she can live her life in freedom, not having to look over her shoulder in fear or worry that he will hunt her down to abuse her once again. She will be able to bring her children up safe from harm.

My friend I am so incredibly proud of you for finding that courage to rise up and seek a better life for your children and yourself away from him. It’s not been easy and there are bound to be days ahead where you still struggle, but know this you are a warrior and you will rise every time.

“Breathe…”

We’ve just returned from a very special place where we go as a family to unwind and breathe.

We leave behind the stress and drudgery of life and swap it for carefree moments where we can relax totally as a family together.

Our special place is in a beautiful location where you can see mountains and the stars shine bright at nights. You hear the calls of nature around you and feel so alive. It is here that we breathe in time with nature.

It is here that we meet with old friends and forge new friendships in the middle of a field. We play, eat and drink together laughing until our sides ache late into the night.

Every time we come to our special place we explore and go on adventures always discovering some place new on our travels.

We particularly love going to a gorgeous sandy beach where you drive through a forest to reach it. As we pass through the forest we always hope that we may be fortunate enough to catch a sighting of red squirrels which reside here.

Our special place is like a treasure trove in time as there is a wonderful museum on site of classic cars and military vehicles on display.

For each one of us this place holds so many memories and we always return home feeling relaxed having had the space to breathe and enjoy life without any of life pressures.

http://angleseytransportmuseum.co.uk/

https://m.facebook.com/Anglesey-AWOL-glamping-holidays-372684753196141/?locale2=en_GB

“The Crazy Bunch”

A number of years ago when I was at Uni I met a group of friends who become my kindered spirits and life long buddies. We nicknamed ourselves “The Crazy Bunch” due to the different personalities we had in our group.

In fact if you had met us at the start of our friendship, you would have been puzzled as to why we were all friends, due to our different personalities, interests and outlook on life. Yet somehow we bonded and became firm friends.

At times over the years there have been moments when the friendship has been tested. Life has made it more tricky too, to arrange regular meet ups or to be able to chat for lengthily periods over the telephone.

Arranging a time to meet up has changed over the years, as in the past it would have involved dressing up, a few drinks, maybe a meal and a night out in town partying into the early hours.  Nowadays it’s planning a venue to meet, arranging activities to appeal to our families, with a cheeky drink or two in the evening whilst lounging on sofas in our pyjamas struggling to stay awake past ten o’clock!

As a group of friends we have seen our fair share of lows and highs in life. Throughout these times we’ve been supported by one another and drawn strength from this. We know that we can be totally honest with one another and that advice/support given will be the truth and not sugar coated. Most of all we know that regardless of what has happen, our little group totally has our back if we need them, and we draw strength from this.

We may not meet regularly or get the chance to chat for long, but when we do get together it’s like putting on a comfy pair of slippers, knowing that we can be totally at ease in each other company and that we don’t have to put on a front, because we all know one another so well.

I am so thankful for The Crazy Bunch’s friendship, love and support because without them my life would have been so much poorer.

I can only but hope that each of our children are as fortunate as we were, to find  a group of friends with whom they can totally be themselves, and know that whatever happens in life, their friends totally has their back.

“My Virtual Tribe”

When I was pregnant with my youngest child, I joined an online parenting forum, just so I could chat and compare experiences with other pregnant mums to be.  It was great being able to chat about the highs and lows of pregnancy to those who were going through the same thing. Particularly as I didn’t really know anyone else in real life who was pregnant at the time.

A few months in, one of the other mums suggested we set up a private group on a well known social media site, as it would be even easier to chat and interact than on this parenting forum.  Initially I was quite hesitate about joining, as was unsure about the fact it would be less anonymous as on the forum, I was just a faceless individual using a username. However with some encouragement from others who joined the group, I made the decision to make the switch and meet with them as me.

Over time our little group changed from that of being pregnant women politely swapping updates on our growing bumps, to that of a close knitted bunch of women who share the ups and downs of our lives, knowing that we can rely on the others to give honest advice and support as needed. 

You can guarantee that no matter what day or time it is, there will always be someone there when you need to sound off, or just need a virtual hug.  

But the greatest thing I’ve found about my little group is that we don’t just exist in a virtual land, we exist for real. People have met up (me included), and cards/gifts have been sent to celebrate occasions such as Birthdays or weddings, or even to offer support when it is needed, such as in time of illness or difficulties.

Our bumps may long be gone, replaced by a bunch of feisty toddlers but this hasn’t stopped us from talking online, because we still need each other. We are the modern day version of a tribe. You hear folk bemoaning how society has changed for the worst, because people don’t have a network of people around them to support, love, encourage or to offer advice as they go through life.  I count myself blessed because I have this, not only in real life, but also via my little online group.

 I’d be lying if I said it was all harmonious, and there was never any conflict. After all we are talking about a bunch of feisty hormonal women here!  Yet at the end of the day we all have one thing in common, and that is we are all mothers who love our families dearly, and want the best for them.

For me personally I never expected that day when I joined the parenting forum, that I would find other people on there, whom I would come to class as my friends, nor did I expect that we would still be in contact all these years on.  But I am so glad I did, for my life has been made so much the richer for having these fantastic women, and their families in it.