Motherly Advice

Hello there friend. What has brought you here today? Are you sad? Do you need advice? A hug?

Well, hugs are dispensed for free here.

Advice too, although I won't say my word is the last word on any topic here.

Some of the topics here are mentioned elsewhere on my blog, so where you see a heading but no content, hover over the sentence and click and you'll be taken to that entry.

If you feel I've helped, please let me know. And update me when you can.

If you have a question you prefer to have answered privately, then please email me on atrayofbliss@yahoo.com and I will respond as soon as I can.

Hugs, Mimi xxx

Keep a little luxury in the car

Being prepared...the 48 hour rule

Let's talk about stress

Do Not Hurry

Why you should plant trees in your yard

How to get things done when you've run out of puff

10 simple ideas to make ironing pleasurable

On living a fulfilled life and Bucket Lists

On Feeling Helpless

Ten low cost ways to live in luxury

10 Tips to avoid the cycle of Depression and Disorganisation

Proud Mama Moment...Alby's Garden Blog

Living with Depression and Disorganisation #2 Three little challenges

War on TV Chefs #5 Write your own recipes

War on TV Chefs #4 Prep Day 

War on TV Chefs #3 The Shopping List 

War on TV Chefs #2 Menu Planning Back to Basics 

War on TV Chefs #1 Build a menu plan that's uniquely you

How to live life with more panache than cash (Orchids on Your Budget series)

How to deal with being a Have Not at Christmas (Orchids on your Budget series)

A Homespun Holiday

A Beautiful Life takes Time

Dreaming and Scheming #1

What makes your life sweet?

Dragons and Domestic Violence

Baking is good for the soul....one bowl Vanilla Cake

What makes a good cook and a memorable meal?

Frugal grocery shopping

The contribution of being a stay at home Mom

What do kids really remember when they grow up?

The Dining Experience

Do you crave peace and prettiness in your day? Look no further!  

Why stress can be a GOOD thing

Encouragement 

A Mothers Wisdom

Be true to yourself...with vintage pretties

Looking after yourself...Life Changing Bread & The Korean Bath Experience

The answer to the question 'Should I or shouldn't I?'

I read interestedly, the dilemma of someone I know vaguely, aired on social media this week. This person had spent some years living abroad, and had adopted some of the habits of the general population in her adopted third world country, bringing them home and attaching a normality to them that is not upheld where she now lives. She asked whether we shared her view of normality of this particular habit, as she had experienced some criticism of late and wanted a barometer to assess whether she was unreasonable, or the other person was.

In this particular instance, the resounding response was that if a thing is not viewed as 'normal' where you now live, then perhaps it's time to review that habit. What is undoubtedly normal in one part of the world, can be a real social no-no, elsewhere.

This made me think of all the times in our life, when we ask ourselves 'should I or shouldn't I', and I felt it was a subject worth raising here.

Generally speaking, we were raised to make our own mistakes and learn from them, and learn we did. Often the hard way, but never with risk to life or limb or harm to ourselves or others.

We were also raised to respect our bodies and view them as a home for our spirit, and to treat our one and only earthly vessel for that spirit well, for it is the only one we get. This one idea saved my siblings and I from many dangers that were the scourge of our generation and subsequent ones, in the form of drugs, cigarettes, inappropriate food and lifestyles that are not conversant with a 'home harbouring a spirit life'.

Mum taught us too, to value family above all. That means family comes first, no matter what. Sometimes that means making difficult decisions, but as the old saying goes, blood is thicker than water, and we support family above and beyond all else.

So if you're asking yourself 'should I or shouldn't I', perhaps ask yourself these questions...

If I do this, do I harm myself or anyone else in the process?

In saying yes or no to a request being made of me, do I sacrifice something of myself that I am not willing to surrender?

If I do this, do I harm my body, mind, heart or spirit?

If I do this, do I damage my relationship with those who I consider most important in my life, remembering that even the friendships that we consider equally important alongside family relationships come and go over a lifetime....family is forever. If your family relationships are not what you might call 'forever', then insert those people who represent 'family' to you.

In doing this thing, or saying yes to this request, am I contradicting a fundamental personal belief?

Will I regret this?

Will I be ashamed of this at some point in the future?

Is this something I would tell to my grandmother, or my grandchildren? And if not, why not?

What is my gut feeling on this matter? Me? I could have saved myself much grief over the years, if I had simply trusted my gut feeling. So many times, I've pressed ahead with a course of action, not feeling quite right about the other people involved for some reason or other, and lived to regret it. Trust your instincts. We humans have enormous capacity for detecting something 'not quite right', and we've come to ignore it, believing that our superior intellect means we can ignore 'gut'.

Look after mind, body, spirit, and heart. The rest will follow.

On having regrets and living in the past....

Whatever your spiritual beliefs, you only get THIS life once. Why waste a single second of it, wallowing in things that have already happened, that are past and done, and that you cannot change. Life is too short. That might sound like a cliché but it is the truth. It's only when you get to my age...50-ish....that you realise you're suddenly on the back foot and the birthdays behind you are definitely greater in number than those yet to come. It's actually incredibly boring and tiring hanging on to the past, you know. Try this. Whenever you have a negative or sad thought about issues in your past, imagine yourself holding them in your hand in a little box. You can tip the contents of the box out, and examine them a bit. But try to remain separate from them. These are little things, small enough to fit into a box in your hand. You could crush them or toss them to the four winds if you wanted to, and have them gone from your life. Turn each one over in your hand, and put it back in the box. Or perhaps just choose the ones that look bigger today and put them in first, packing the smaller memories firmly around them so that they can't break loose and rattle around in your mind. Then close the box. Tie a bow around it, and put it under the bed in your imagination. It won't bother you there. From time to time, you'll get the urge to get the box out and examine it's contents, but with distance and practice, that need will lessen. Eventually you will toss those memories, letting them take flight into the beyond. And you'll breathe again. I promise.

On having a child with special needs....

Well if you're reading this one, you probably feel like life sucks right now. When your child is first diagnosed as being different in some way, it's like being slapped hard enough for your teeth to chatter. All that you thought you knew about raising kids or being a parent suddenly goes out the window. I still remember the day my son, then just ten months old, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Quadriplegia, and the rather brusque manner in which the Paediatrician outlined our future in a matter of three sentences. "He won't walk, he may not talk, and he won't have a normal life. Here's the number of the organisation that specialises in this area. See you in six months." Wow. Okay. Numb brain. Hug beautiful boy. Walk around in a dream for a while. Ring Mum and sister and say 'It's Cerebral Palsy', and have them reassure me that we'd be fine. Well, 23 years later, we proved that doctor mostly wrong, and we ARE fine, and so is he. He didn't end up being able to walk, but our son makes mincemeat of getting around in a wheelchair. Our son can talk and loves sport, and dreams of becoming a sports psychologist. Our son lives independently, attended mainstream school and passed his Senior exams with flying colours, and has a list of goals that would make a strong man weep. Our son has outstripped many of his able bodied high school peers in what he's achieved so far in his life. It's all good. There's a verse called 'Welcome to Holland' which I found comfort in initially, but which even I, now find a bit twee. I rather now prefer Momma Dulocks version here. As for that one about God only choosing special Mommas for a special child....give me a break....or hold the bucket and my hair while I stick my fingers down my own throat and a fork in my eye, as my friend Annabel says. Having a special needs child is hard work. No ifs and buts about it. It's often not pretty and it's often dirty and messy and stinky and loud and unforgiving and when you're deathly sick yourself and you still have to get up and attend to your special needs child, well, that's just blinkin' tough. Having to put my sons needs over those of my terminally ill Mother just about broke me. But there are moments of wonderful, and it certainly sorts out your priorities. If our son hadn't been born with CP, we may well have turned into The Jones's with whom everyone else tries to keep up. We might have been unbearable snobs with no conversation other than where we would go for our next overseas trip. We might have been divorced by now. Who knows? Certainly it's been the making of us as a family. We know what's important and it isn't what we thought it was 23 1/2 years ago. Right, so maybe your child is physically capable, but has other issues like Autism or a hearing impairment or a vision impairment....your experience will be different to ours. But the older our son grows, and the more I see how much other special needs kids he grew up with continue to exceed expectations of parents, teachers and medical professionals, the more I believe that our kids truly are blessed with an enduring soul, that can overcome much, if we support them. If you want to correspond with me about your experience with your special needs child or children, feel free to email me.

On tackling difficult tasks....

You know those things that you dread? Like ringing the bank manager, or going to the dentist for a root canal, or making an appointment with your childs teacher to find out why they're flunking Math, or cleaning out the kitty litter, or visiting the In-Laws, or bathing the dog, or having that awkward discussion with your spouse, or opening the credit card statement? You know they've got to be done, right? So what are you waiting for? Fear of the unknown and failure to act cause more stress than most events themselves ever cause. I find that two strategies really help me here. First, for big things, what is the worst case scenario? What end result do you fear the most? Imagining that scenario, and how you'd manage it, kind of fools the brain into thinking that you can cope, no matter what. It's all about having a plan, like anything in life. Because almost certainly whatever's going to happen when you act upon this thing you're dreading, will not be anywhere near as bad as your imagined 'worst case scenario'. Here's an example. I hate making my annual appointment for a medical checkup. I always fear that I'll get some terrible news (courtesy of terrible family medical history and parents who both died young). So I have to say to myself 'okay...so if you have something terrible wrong with you, early treatment is the best line of defence, so get on with it.' It's amazing how that calms me and enables me to tackle that one task. Secondly, on a smaller scale, try projecting yourself an hour or several hours or a day, into the future. Just say to yourself 'In one hour, I'll be finished this and I can do what I want' or 'In one week, I won't have to do this any more and I can get on with my life', and so on. Another way of doing this is to tell yourself 'This too, shall pass'. It means the same thing. However dire things are, 'this too shall pass'. I promise.


On weathering criticism...

More than ever before, due to the rise of Social Media, we are exposed to scrutiny and criticism on so many parts of our life. Indeed we are all aware of the tragic consequences of Internet bullying in it's most extreme form. Even older and more savvy internet users like me, fall prey to unsolicited criticism and unwelcome commenting on material we post. First let me assure you, that in almost 100% of cases, the criticism/bullying is not about you. It is almost always about them. They're offloading their frustrations with their small, mean, petty lives, on you, because they perceive you to be a weaker target. Now, my Mum had several things she would say to us when we were young, and let me tell you, that was many decades before the internet, but bullying existed back then too.

She said:

1. "Don't lower yourself to their level. You are so much better than that".

2. "If you lie down with dogs, you'll get fleas." (See 1. for context)

3. "The best revenge is overwhelming success".

4. "This too, shall pass".

5. "Don't add fuel to the fire."

6. "You can't see it now, but this will make you stronger."

7. "Clever, attractive people always attract criticism. The more clever and attractive you are, the more that people will want to drag you down."

8. "Don't acknowledge them. A bully gets their jollies through getting a reaction. Ignore them, and they'll find another target."

9. "Don't be the one that clambers over others in the race to succeed."

10."Your ancestors were European nobility. Make sure your honour their memory by behaving like someone with noble blood."

Now this last one, as it turns out was not true, even though Mum kept a postcard of a castle in Europe that she maintained was our family home in a long lost time. But we were not a moneyed family. We were a family of seven, being raised by a single Mum in the 60s and 70s, and Mum wanted to give us something to cling to, to reassure us that we were special, even if we had very little in the way of money and material possessions. It is true that Mums' family had what one might call 'connections', but we were not noble. Although...we haven't investigated the family tree beyond the late 1800's, so who knows? Maybe there is a tenuous thread of noble blood in there somewhere.

Let me tell you though, that the impact of that one statement on me as a tween and teen, was extremely powerful. It allowed me to elevate my thinking to a whole new level. It allowed me to square my shoulders, hold my head high, and let bullying and criticism simply slide from my shoulders.

I think most of us these days could claim six degrees of separation from nobility or royalty. Why not look into your family tree and see who's in there. Noble, celebrated, knighted, awarded, or even infamous. I bet there's something there that you too can cling to, that allows your shoulders to square, your head to raise higher, and your tormentors nastiness to simply slide from you.

And if all else fails....this too, shall pass ;-)

Goal setting....

Learning to set goals and take baby steps towards them is another really valuable life skill. Without goal setting and lists to help me achieve my goals, I'm not sure I would achieve much in my day, never mind in my life overall!

There are so many wonderful tools to assist us with goal setting and achieving goals these days. Pinterest is one that springs to mind.

Where once I had a scrapbook, then a 3 ring binder to which I added photographs of the home I dreamed of, the furnishings I preferred, the car I imagined myself driving and the travel plans I'd like to see come to fruition, I now have Pinterest boards. I refer to my Pinterest boards constantly to keep me on track for my goals. From planning meals (a daily goal), to improving my fitness (a monthly goal), to where I'd like to travel next (a 2-5 year goal), it's all there on an easily accessible Pinterest board.

Reminders on my hand held device and a wall calendar help me with my planning and goal setting too. At the start of each week, I review my week, ensuring that even things like visiting a friend, or my son or my granddaughters have my attention. Otherwise it's so easy, with a teenager still at home, for the week to fly by and not have done anything nice for myself! I ensure that all areas of my life have a share of time, including my family, friendships, spiritual needs, health and fitness, work, creative, and even my online life. After all in this day and age, that too is a reality and something that needs to be balanced along with other areas of life.

This gives me a sense of peace and satisfaction as I rise each day, knowing what lies ahead. I also sleep better as I do not toss and turn worrying about a forgotten task, or an outstanding item left incomplete.

More on goal setting soon.

Being Content...

In the pursuit of happiness, we sometimes forget to be 'content'. Once upon a time, contentment was valued far more than happiness. We, the last three generations in the civilised Western world, have lived in a privileged era, free from famine, disease and relative poverty, and I do believe we've lost the are of just being 'content'. Contentment to me, means climbing into bed, and being able to lay my head on the pillow and feel proud of the day I'm leaving behind. Not just the seconds and minutes and tasks therein, but in recognising that we are all many faceted beings, and that you can be career girl, mother, wife, grandmother, carer, confidante, mentor, teacher, counsellor, child, negotiator, chef, cleaner, sibling and boss, all in one day sometimes. I know that is certainly true for me. It's realising that we only ever have one day at a time, and that a life is made up of these individual days. We'll all have some we're proud of, and some that left a little to be desired, but to lay down each night, and be able to reflect upon the day with satisfaction in some small way, is true contentment.

Being at Peace in stressful situations...

I think we all find this so hard sometimes.

There are events in everyones life from time to time, that are very much NOT conducive to being at peace. We all have times when we're called upon to support a loved one in some way that extends us beyond our usual routine.

Being emotional support to someone outside of the confines of your immediate adult family is draining. It's hard not to allow those emotions to leak into your daily life, and infect your own loved ones.

How can you support someone who is facing a significant life event, and still preserve your own life and commitments to your loved ones?

You might find it effective to mentally picture a little divided box. In this box, there are compartments for relationships with different family members, friends, teachers, and significant others in your life
.
My own imaginary box is tarnished gold and embellished with flourishes. I raise the lid. It's heavy so that my life can be contained therein. Each little divided compartment has it's own little flat lid, that clicks firmly into place when pressed.

Each day, I consciously choose which compartments I will open. I ensure that there is a balance between home, family, friends, extended family, online family, spiritual needs, creative needs, self improvement (study, exercise, pampering), and work commitments. I only open one compartment at a time. I reach in, and immerse myself in the contents of that compartment for a specified time. Perhaps ten minutes for some, an hour for others. Always remembering that balance is the key.

For me, once time is up for that little compartment, I put the contents back in, mentally imagine pressing that little lid firmly so that it clicks into place with a soft but audible snick, and move on. This ensures that one part of my life doesn't spill over into another, muddying the waters of my day.

If I let my commitment to my extended family, interfere with my immediate family commitments, or my exercise or spiritual commitments, the someone is going to be unhappy. Likewise if my creative pastimes, started to impact on my role as Guardian of my home and budget, chaos would reign.

The ability to switch off from one task, leave it behind and move on to another, is something we all do unconsciously to some degree. It's mainly when an unexpected situation, such as an illness, a relationship breakdown, an accident, a relocation, a job loss, or other event, is thrown into the mix, that the balance is upset. That is when you have to be entirely conscious about your choices. It's then that you might have to really think about which little compartments you open each day.

Being able to compartmentalise your life, helps you to be at peace with whatever life throws your way. Accept that life has it's ripples, and that you and you alone, choose whether to allow those ripples to become waves or tsunami's with the potential to engulf you. By calming the ripples early, putting strategies in place, like timetables, diary notes, timers, appointments with a start and end time for being the support person, you can ensure that each of your life compartments are contained. You can be at peace in your own heart, that you are doing what you can, to do the good and right thing for a loved one that needs you for a moment in time, whilst still fulfilling your obligations to the other areas of your life.


4 comments:

  1. Sent the part about peace in stressful situations out to several people who could use the ideas as well as myself. Thank you much.

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    1. Julie I am honoured that you read my advice on this and even moreso that you've shared it and think it may help you. I find myself supporting a loved one under extreme stress right now, so I thought my strategies may help someone else. Thankyou for your comment, and I hope you find peace in your heart soon...Mimi xxx

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  2. The 'Dragon' really hit home. I was afraid of the Dragon and the unknown at one time, but I took a look at my life and was more afraid of not trying to escape the Dragon than staying put for a life of misery and fear. And one of the reasons I left the Dragon was just like you said, so that the little Dragon eggs would not be hatching in the next household. I wanted to change the future-- I paid a high price, but I'm glad I did it. Recently the Dragon tried to intimidate me, just like in times of old, but this time it just made me laugh, and made me realize how far I had come. Very perceptive of you.

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  3. Joy, biggest hugs dear. You should be proud of the choice you've made. It's hard to change your destiny. I really appreciate your comment and wish you only good things in your bright, shiny future. Love, Mimi xxx

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I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx