How is it October already ?

I have been reflecting about this last year and cannot actually get my head around what an incredible year 2016 has been so far. Of course the highlight has to be the decision to adopt my little one he has brought such a light into my life I cannot find the words to convey what a gift he has been. My friend described me as “radiating joy” the other day and I think she may be right I am so happy and so content at having another in my heart. Being back at toddler stage is very different now than it was ten years ago but I am loving every minute of it. I mean just the wide range of clothes out there now is enough to send your head into a spin. 

Yet besides this major change in my life I have seriously took this year by the horns and literally made the most of every second. I know this because right now my body may ache with exhaustion (whoops). 

I have stepped out my comfort zone in so many ways. Learning and participating in politics, attending and speaking at the Labour conference and getting involved in the local campaigns has been brain aching but also so fulfilling. I am actually scaring myself with how much I really enjoy this arena and the people I have gotten to meet and I am excited to learn and develop more.

I have also completed my degree and actually graduate this week, how exciting is this a childhood dream finally coming true. 

Still I think my real steps forward have been in friendship. Over the last few months I have said yes to invitations. Said yes to group meals, coffee mornings and lunch dates. A dear friend of mine told me that “I was scared of friendship” and she was so right I wrote here often about my desire for deeper truer friendships but the truth was I was hiding. Pulling away from any situation that required me to be open and vulnerable but her call out challenged me to say yes to being vulnerable and exposed and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m still a work in progress but honestly I am so grateful for those that haven’t given up on me. 

2016 has been an emotional rollercoaster I have laughed and I have cried and it’s only October but to describe 2016 I would simply have to say “it’s the year I began to live fully’. No more holding back, I’m loving life right now and yes it isn’t easy at times but isn’t that what makes it more worthwhile. The achievements, the moments.

I cannot believe Christmas is only a few months away, this year does seem to have flown by. Yet I am happy to hold on to 2016 a little longer it’s been a very special year.  

Inspire or destroy?

Last week I was lucky enough to get to listen to the inspirational Nick Barwick. Nick is a motivational speaker who came to a fostering meeting to share his experiences as a care leaver. His story is incredible, he has faced adversity, pain and suffering throughout his life but still found the strength and courage to achieve his dreams, he defied the odds and he overcame.

Nick is passionate about sharing his story, he wants the success stories of life to be shared. We need our children to have hope, that if they are struggling and finding life a struggle they can remember that where they are right now is not where they need to end. This is doubly important for all children within the looked after system, they especially need the reminder that there is Hope in this world.

I took an awful lot away with me after listening to Nick speak, but what has been twirling around in my head since I left the meeting was the impact of ‘words.’

Let me explain a little, as Nick was sharing his story he spoke about being told by some professional in his life that he would not achieve, academically, financially and emotionally, and how these words for a long time became a self fulfilling prophecy for him.

How the words spoken to him became the words he spoke to himself.

Words have power!

They can inspire but also they can destroy.

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Hearing Nick’s story just hit home how important our words are,

How as Mother’s, as fathers, as teachers, carers, our words have an impact on hearts.

How as a friend, a wife, a sister I need to use my words wisely.

How often have we let words spoken to us bury deep in our hearts?

How what may have been a passing comment has be able to consume our minds.

Someone else’s opinion become our truth.

I know I can look back in my life and raise my hand numerous times for when words spoken in hate became my reality.

“You won’t pass it.”

“I wouldn’t even bother’

“You are not good enough”

“Who would love you?”

How I let these lines of letters sink deep into my heart like an anchor dropped into the ocean, dropping slowing until they find a place to settle and hold, hold on tight.

How I  have allowed hurtful words to crawl under my skin until I believed them completely, burying under my skin into my blood to pump through my veins, straight to my heart.

Burrowing deep until I owed them as my truth.

Thankfully like Nick I had someone in my life who challenged me to question these words. To remind me that my future was mine to create.

That it was up to me to write my own story. 

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I’m still a work in progress, my story has many chapters left to write.

I’m still learning to throw away the words that hurt, to erase the words that are wrong and untrue.

To protect myself from words that do not inspire or encourage.

I’m creating my own vocabulary and as I do this I hope to create another for my children.

I want their story to be one of adventure, excitement and hope but what I want most of all is that the biggest chapter that they write will always be one filled with love.

I pray that story is one of knowing, knowing how loved they are. 

What defines you!

If you were to read about my past in script form you would be forgiven for thinking that this may have been a script for a television drama or more likely a soap opera.

It’s a story full of pain, loss and at times anger.

Yet it is my life and right now I am walking a journey which is laying it completely open and completely bare and its hard. It fact it’s blooming painful, yet in the midst of the tears of which there has been plenty I have actually found myself feeling a strength that is holding me all in place. In fact it must have the wire that has held me together through this life’s journey.

My faith in myself.

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I cannot go back and change the past. In fact I’m not sure I would ,as everything that has happened has formed me into the person I am right now and I actually rather like who I am.

We all have pathways to walk and as human beings we will make mistakes, we mess up and at times we completely screw up but its how we move forward that defines us. How we learn from experiences and how we grow.

 

My life may have been messy, but it has challenged me to see beyond the barriers. I love with all my heart, I believe in people with all my soul and most of all I have hope. Hope that with love and empathy this world can and will be a better place.

 

So if right now like me you are feeling scared and vulnerable keep pushing forward because you may not realise it, but these moments, these challenges may be the moments that define who you really are.

Freedom at forty 

Wow it’s official today I am forty years old. I know I should be freaking out moaning about the wrinkles but to be perfectly honest I love it. I am celebrating not just the coming of a milestone age but also the freedom in who I am.

  

Finally at forty I am comfortable in my own skin. I know the direction of my life and I’m content and fulfilled. 

I am celebrating more than 40 years on this earth. I am recognising my struggles, my heartbreaks, my relationships and the way they have all shaped me into the person I am today. 

  

I am looking back and seeing the many blessings I have had in my life. Celebrating my beautiful girls, my handsome boys, my wonderful husband.

I am grateful for the friendships that I’ve had, those that have stood the test of time and those that were brief but valuable. 

I can look back and see the life’s lessons I have had to learn. Some I got quickly some which took a little longer, all had value, all had purpose. 

I’m excited about the coming years, excited to embrace all the future has for me. 

I’m moving into my 40’s determined and head first. 

I’ve learned a lot over the last 4 decades and I’m hoping I will take this knowledge forward into new experiences and new memory making moments. I’m hoping that older may mean wiser but hey you know me. Heart first and the head a little later. 

So today Happy birthday to me, thank you to all the family and friends who have walked alongside me. Thank you for the memories and the moments and here’s to many many more. Bring on the next 40. 
  

Countdown to 40

40

 

I realised last night that in under a month I turn 40. This is a major milestone in my life but one I am so excited for.

Growing up I remember thinking 40 was really old, I mean it seemed that my mom was 32 forever so I was sure I would stay this way. Yet time has moved on and I have been slowly creeping towards this age.

I remember when I turned 30 I was really freaked by it all, I didn’t feel ready to be 30 years old I was uncomfortable and not happy in my own skin. Life wasn’t easy and I had just started to show signs of the illness that changed my life. I look back to those days when I was chasing after 4 children under 10 and teaching dance. I remember just not feeling complete as if I wasn’t living life to the full.

Fast forward the last ten years and my goodness a crazy amount has happened. I have walked through some of the darkest moments of my life. My heart has been broken, tore up into millions of pieces and then trodden on. I never imagined at 30 that I would have to bury a child let alone two. I would have never been able to comprehend surviving the loss of my daughter and my foster son. Never in a million years. Yet somehow I have survived, my heart may never be complete but it is learning to love on, learning to beat strongly again and I am learning to live life to the full again.

I know deep down that 40 isn’t really a special age. I mean I preach often about celebrating every day we have here, but still I am rather excited for the day.

This may sound big headed but I like who I see in the mirror now. I may not be a dance teacher or able to fit my bum into a size 12 but I truly love my body and I’m so grateful to it. It has given me four amazing girls, completely different, independent ,inspirational girls. It allows me to foster two truly awesome boys, each a blessing in their own special way. My body may be a little battle worn but it’s not been beaten and I am so thankful for this.

I look back to the person I was 10 years ago and I know I have been on a journey. I use the term “self discovery” loosely  as is the only way to get close to describing  the transformation I feel I have faced.

I love who I am (yes I may have said that before) but I seriously do. I love my emotional side, no more will I apologise for my random tears or unexpected hugs. I’m empathic and I care and this is something I am proud of now. No more calling myself soppy and pathetic, I actually rock.

I love my courage, I am more willing to put myself out into the danger zone, being vulnerable, feeling scared but still moving forward.

I love my brain, it’s ok that I am a little geeky at times, that sometimes the idea of a good book wins against a movie or a night out. That I appreciate my own company and yes at times I get lost in my own mind.

I love myself and I love my life.

As I head towards this birthday milestone I do so with so much gratitude.

Over the last years I have had people walk into my life that have blessed me in so many ways. Friends that love me for me, deep true friendships that can pick up after a time apart just where we left off. Friends I can laugh with, friends I have cried on. I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

I am so thankful for my family, my daughters and my sons each so unique and so beautiful. Getting to watch them grow and learn and experience life is such a wonder, such a gift. My Dad, my Step Mom, my inlaws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, relantionships that I truly value and people I truly love.

My husband, I am completely in love with this crazy man, after nearly 20 years of marriage I still get that flutter in my heart when he walks into a room. He makes me laugh, he drives me insane, but he truly is my soul mate.

I am so thankful that I miss my Livvy, because missing someone is the recognition of an amazing love, a truly unbroken bond. My girl and I will be together again one day, but until then I am going to try and live as she did, fully and with all my heart.

So the count down to 40 begins and I’m so excited. I’m so ready to celebrate the 40 years I have been here with all my family and friends. An evening full of laughter, music and hopefully a gorgeous outfit.

Yet 40 is only the really the beginning, the start of a new stage in life, one I hope will be full of love and laughter and the people that really make my life truly amazing, my family and friends, because with them and because of them I actually love myself more at 40 then I ever did.

 

40 looking good

Hold on

different then

 

Every day brings changes and sometimes I want to run and hide from them.

I want to return to the time when life made sense and my heart wasn’t broken.

Yet I know I cannot, I am not now who I was then.

In fact I barely recognise the old me at times. It’s not the hair colour or the extra pounds it’s the scars on my heart that make me different.

Life changes you everyday and sometimes the changes are good and sometimes they aren’t but for everyone change is an opportunity to grow.

Becoming a mom was one of the greatest things I will ever achieve but I never expected how having children would change the way I view life.

Having a disabled child was something I would have never foreseen, but getting to be Livvy’s mom created something inside me I am so very proud of.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this…..

Sometimes life will throw you in a direction you didn’t have planned, send you down a pathway you didn’t want to go. It may be hard, it maybe heartbreaking but don’t give up.

Know deep in your heart that every journey comes with  its own unique scenery. Places too see  so breathtaking you would have missed if you had taken the journey you had planned.  Places that will bless you heart, soothe your soul.

You may meet people you would have never have met if circumstances hadn’t of changed.

Worlds apart colliding to produce incredible friendships.

I  know I have met some of the greatest people since I became a parent to a disabled child.  Parents with passion and determination. Parents  with compassion and loyalty. So many have really blessed my life and I am so proud I get to call some of this crazy bunch my friends.

I never imagined as a child I would be a Foster carer but here now I know how incredible my job is. How amazing it is that I get to love on children in need.

Yet  even beyond fostering I would have never foreseen in a million years I would be a university student, working towards a degree that will allow me to help children who have faced neglect and trauma.

AND….

Even here in this little piece of the virtual world,  I never would have considered that this place where I share my heart, my thoughts would bring me so many experiences and create so many connections.

 

No matter how life seems right now, trust in yourselves.

Trust that tomorrow is a new day.

Keep fighting and hold on tight.

We cannot go back to yesterday

and today may be hard

but tomorrow may just be amazing.

I’m still here 

Hello, yes I’m still here.

I can only apologise for my lack of posts, life has been crazy. Besides the visit to London for the awards, numerous appointments and meetings I have also been writing my first assignment for my university course.

It’s been crazy.

To be fair I was not prepared for the step up in my life my degree was going to bring. 

That’s not to say I’m not loving every minute of it, I really am. It’s just harder that I realised to carve quality study time into my days.

I’m learning so many new things that my brain may explode. Honestly academic writing has totalled slammed me. I love to write and normally find words tumble out of me easily but that’s when they are my own thoughts and feelings. Academic writing doesn’t want my opinion ( how rude) it wants me to explain my understanding of the research. It’s been a steep learning curve but I’m loving every minute though my husband may not. Seems I get a little grumpy when stressed, who knew 😳.

Anyway I submitted my first official full assignment for my degree. I cannot tel you how sick I was. I truly felt that I had handed my soul over. I know, I know I’m being dramatic but truly I was so sick with nerves. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and attending university is my dream or if it’s simply my desire to do well but pressing that submit button made me almost vomit. It just matters so much to me. 

Is that healthy? 

Anyway I apologise for my absence and hope to be more frequent in posts but no promises. 

Ooh and before I finish guess what? 

It’s nearly Christmas arrrrahhh 
  

Happy 18th Eden

I cannot believe than my second born daughter is 18 today.

Wow I have another adult.

I am so proud of my girlie.

I love her unique spirit.

I admire her passion and convictions

Happy 18th Eden Rose

18 today

Thank you for my late night chats.

For the endless perfect cups of tea you make.

Thank you for loving and caring for your siblings, your annoying brother especially.

I hope you have a fun day.

May adulthood see you living your dreams.

May you find your way in this crazy world.

Never change who you are, because you are truly amazing.

You dad and I love you so much.

Happy 18th my beautiful girl. xxxx

Happy18thEden

 

 

 

* No up to date pics are per your request xxxx

 

Style XL 2015, we came, we saw and we rocked it.

Last weekend was Style XL 2015 a plus size fashion event held in my local city of Birmingham.

Style XL is the brainchild of the wonderful Leah from http://www.leahxl.com.

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Leah is genuinely one of the nicest woman I know and someone who I owe a lot of my new found confidence too. It was only last year that I walked my first catwalk at Style XL 2014. This was thanks to the encouragement and support from Leah, this lady rocks.  Also a big shout out to her beautiful fiancée Clare who is truly lovely.

Seriously though I remember how much I shook with fear back there in 2014 I’m surprised I made it onto the stage.

Anyway back to Style XL 2015 how do I describe this weekend, two words “totally inspiring”.

The collaboration of plus size fashion brands and confidence building workshops created an awesome event.

Women from around the UK coming together to attend a fashion event where the size on your label is irrelevant.

Fashion brands showcasing the very best of plus size fashion proving that style comes in all sizes.

I had a blast.

I was excited to be booked to walk for the awesome Apples and Pears Clothing , Monroe Knows and Curvy Kate but on the day I actually also walked for Topsy Curvy and Lady Voluptuous too.

Five brands ooh get me.

This year was so different for me, although I was still rather shaky the woman who walked onto that catwalk was very different to the one from last year. I actually relished in the attention. I rocked my curves ha ha get me.

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Seriously Style XL was a great success.

Personally though for me Style XL wasn’t about the clothes (sorry brands). It was being surrounded by beautiful inspiring women.

Women that over the last year have become dear friends.

Woman working hard to empower others.

Building people up, encouraging, supporting.

My challenge  to myself this year was to turn the virtual hugs into real ones.

I am so confident behind my keyboard but this year I wanted to find that confidence in real life.

I think achieved this.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some awesome new ones.

I pushed all my boundaries, I introduced myself to people and I wore underwear on a catwalk ( don’t panic dad I’ve hidden the photos).

I achieved more than I could possibly have imagined and yes I may be having a little body wobble but I can see how far I have come.

Thank you Leah for having faith in me.

Thank you to the brands for allowing me to showcase your beautiful clothes.

I  want to end this post saying this, life is to short to wait to wear the clothes you want. Wear them now and celebrate who you are. Size is a number on a label don’t let it dictate how you live your life.

You are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you different xxx

In honour of Livvy

Saturday was an amazing day, we held a Livvy’s Smile Donkey Tea Party.

The sun shone for us, the donkeys behaved and memories were made.

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I had a truly wonderful time.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some new.

I got to listen to laughter as it filled the air.

I got to watch children cover themselves with chocolate and cream as they ate their cakes.

Donkey rides, cart rides and so much more.

Seriously it was awesome.

Yet as I sat at home editing the photos from the day my tears began to fall.

My heart just ached for the missing piece of my puzzle.

Whilst I was blessed with some amazing hugs from some truly incredible children my heart yearned for my little Tinkerbell.

Birmingham Donkey Sanctuary holds a special place in my heart.

Each corner is filled with the echo of my Olivia.

Those first steps she took defying the Drs.

The giggles as she rode her favourite donkey.

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The dirty looks she gave Amber when told to sit up straight.

So many moments, so many memories.

 

I was asked why we started Livvy’s Smile and why I hold events that bring me pain?

It is simple really we started Livvy’s Smile because we are so grateful.

So thankful for the wonderful memories we have stored from Livvy.

Memories that truly get us through the darkness and we just want to give that light to other families.

On Saturday we created those special memories full of chocolate eclairs and cool moms.

Memories that will give us hope through the hard times.

Why do I it when it causes me pain? 

Because I can and because I have to.

I was blessed to be Livvy’s mom, to get to call this amazing girlie my daughter.

Livvy changed my life. 

The realisation that we didn’t have forever taught me to live in the here and now.

To live a life full of laughter and love.

 

So yes hosting these events will always be bittersweet.

I’m sure I will always return home and cry for the missing piece of my heart.

But I will never stop working hard to create memories because each moment, each memory is in honour of my beautiful daughter.

Every smile I see brings her closer.

 

Yes, I know my heart will always ache,

Grief is relentless.

Like a snake it slowly twists around your heart until you cannot breathe.

Your body craves for one more breathe, one more moment.

So as the tears fall I know they do so in honour.

Each teardrop is formed in everlasting love.

Livvy is part of who I am and who I always will be.

Livvy’s Smile is testimony to eternal love. 

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