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Zen;WHEN?!

Today marks International Yoga Day and I am giddy with excitement because this evening, my gorgeous friend Clare and I will be hosting our first ever event together; A Summer Solstice Supper down at Church Farm, Wirral. The aim of the evening is to gather people together to welcome in a new season, set new intentions and let go of any regrets and things that you no longer need bogging you down or holding you back. We’ve got candles and affirmations and new bolsters and food and fizz basically; the works. We can not wait!  It has come about a bit by accident- as the best things often do; Clare is a brilliant yoga teacher and I am half way through my yoga foundation training which takes place at Clare’s studio, we are mum mates from the school run and it just sort of evolved.

summer solstice

But, what is the course like I hear you cry well- let me tell you; Since January, on the first Sunday of the month I head out first thing for a full on day of yoga- or so I thought! Far from it being a chilled out day of backbends and yoga nidra (code for a delicious slice of sleep!) it has challenged me way beyond anything I expected. Yes, the days do include the physical practise and the relaxation as well as tea and cake and chats and yes; I have learnt more about the postures and poses, about the muscles we use and the benefits of the stretches but, in many ways that has been coincidental in comparison to the deeper learning and, fundamental ‘meaning’ of yoga- from my learning anyway…A part of the course involves keeping a journal- I am not 100% sure that this is what my gorgeous yoga teacher had in mind but- yoga calls for you to be your authentic self so, I’ve embraced that;  for me, at the half way point, these are my take aways.

The pose is not the point

Yoga is not about the perfect pose, about nailing the headstand or managing to hold boat for any period without capsizing! It is about being kind and gentle to yourself and others. It is about trying and not worrying about the outcome. It is about listening to your heart and to your body- doing things that feel right for you in that moment, not being driven by your ego because the person in front of you has her knees behind her head! It is doing things without expectation or hope of reward, which, to my mind, is just basic humanity and at should be the foundation of any religion or belief system or lifestyle choice. Don’t do 50 hail Marys every morning and then ignore the lonely mum in the playground. Don’t perfect your downward dog but park in the disabled bays at Tesco. In short;

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It’s about the journey, not the final destination

Generally speaking, in the West, we have a penchant for instant gratification. Credit cards and fast forwarding adverts and Deliveroo and Amazon and 24 supermarkets mean we want everything NOW and, I think that yoga can be viewed in that way also. Simplified, dumbed down, reduced to an exercise class- something that will get you slim and tone you up so you are “beach ready” and “fit for summer”. Hot yoga…so your muscles warm up faster so you can stretch further so… Not really the point (in my humble opinion and, baring in mind that I am only just dipping my toe into my yoga education) clearly I have a loooong way to go with the whole letting go element! Yes; yoga can give you an amazing body but- what it should do is remind you that you already HAVE an amazing body. YOU’RE ALREADY THERE. You might get stronger, you might become more toned, you might become more flexible but hopefully along the way, those things will become less significant to you and the more important aspect will be how you listen to your inner voice, how you accept yourself as you are and how you quieten down your inner critic.

you are a child of the universe

 

We are all teachers; we are all students. 

There are 12 of us on my course, each of us different. We have all arrived here from different starting points, are looking to take different things from the sessions (which for me is a really evolving) and, as such we are all seeing things in our own ways. This is one of the elements that I am enjoying the most- getting to know new people and see things from another point of view (plus; there are some excellent bakers in the gang!) Signing up for something new, stepping out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to learning again is as exciting as it is scary but it is always worth the risk. The course is helping understand myself better and be more accepting of other peoples views and ideas.

Share the journey

I am loving yoga with my girls and, given the massive mess that we are in as a planet, anything that we can do to teach a bit of mindfulness, compassion and ways to understand ourselves is really valuable. Depending on you and your child and your mood and the weather and basically LIFE- the sessions might be magical, they might feel a little like herding cats. Honestly; sometimes this has been utter bliss and sometimes it has left me feeling fraught because they are not where I want them to be in terms of their patience or concentration or their mood again…not very yogic…there’s the journey analogy again! I am learning to go with the flow and to be more understanding of where they are at and some tools have been really helpful with this;

Mindful Kids cards from Barefoot Books are great for giving you options so you can work with the emotions in front of you.

Cosmic Kids on YouTube is a winner with loads of sessions which you can select based on what you need to get out of it in that moment.

There are also more and more yoga sessions for children and families setting up across the country. Schools are beginning to include it in their days or offer it as before or after school sessions so…we are moving in the right direction but, doing it as a unit, when it works is just pure joy and, the more you practise…the more you all know how to relate to it and each other. WINNER!

Bethan 2

 

Do what you can when you can. That is enough.
This is as true of life as it is of yoga but bloody hell it is tough to remember that isn’t it. Slowing down, taking a break, saying no, we don’t do it enough. Hold your space, let others hold theirs and don’t feel bad about it. Do what you can and don’t feel guilty about the stuff that you can’t and…when you’ve mastered this come back and tell me how!

 

Speaking Sanskrit is hard

Nothing to add here; it just is!!!

 

Yoga is just one piece of the puzzle; 

I am not yet the person to wax lyrical on the 8 limbs of yoga, the mantras, the chakras and the deep teachings of the gurus- there is just so much to take in and digest. The history of yoga is MASSIVE and it absolutely blows my mind. The understanding that people had of the mind, body and soul connection all those thousands of years ago totally and utterly BLOWS MY MIND. I can not believe that so many of the human race managed to get so far away from the original teachings and mess things up so badly for their health and that of the planet in their striving for more more more but, I guess that is human nature, we have to try things hey?! As always for me, it is the reflection, the opportunity to digest stuff and write down my take on things that gives me real peace and, as I continue to develop my own toolkit for selfcare I am allowing myself more time to do the stuff that fills my jug and makes my heart happy which, as it turns out is exactly what we’re all meant to be doing.

Let me leave you with this- a truly beautiful quote which gives us all permission to be that little bit more epic than we might otherwise have dared. I love it.

 

our deepest fear

 

Happy Summer Solstice all.
Wishing you love, light and a little bit of fizz!
Namaste!

Tanya

XxxX

 

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Happy Birthday Dad.

 

Somewhere, in some weird and wonderful parallel universe today I should be sitting in a delightful beer garden somewhere family all, watching my dad blow out the candles on his 70th birthday cake. Actually; we may have opted for Royal Ascot where we could dress up and lord it up on Ladies Day all paid for by him of course because…that’s what dads do isn’t it- they look after their brood….That’s my understanding of a father.

Instead, my mum and my sister and I will raise a glass to the man we miss and each of us will wonder what life would have looked like if things had been different. But that’s not what life is- you can’t pick and choose it all; we’ve all seen Back to the Future*

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And; whilst this is and always will be very sad, we have had over 30 years to grow around our grief. To manage its ebbs and flows and to smile at the few memories and imaginings of memories that we have stored away for safe keeping and; whilst that will never be enough, whilst I will always, always wish we had been gifted with more time it also IS enough.

It is enough because I know that I was loved and, in that respect I guess, a dead dad is better than a bad dad.

I appreciate that sounds hard and unfeeling but it might be true… I have seen the damage done by not knowing- the young people I used to work with had so many questions and were often so desperate to know more about their past and their parents that it was destroying their future. A file provided by a professional with as much blacked out as there is to read isn’t the same; your family is part of the fabric of who you are.

My mum and our friends and extended family give me that. They have furnished my sister and I with memories and the security of knowing that our daddy loved us and, had the choice been his to make, he would have been here today. I know what songs he loved (Brothers in Arms as todays ‘Blast of absolute class’ brought me to tears; someone else recalling early 80’s car journeys with their dad singing along to Dire Straits). I recall watching him get ready for work much as my girls do with Mr L today. I remember going to his office, I remember he made me feel safe and happy and loved. I never saw him fail, I never saw him frail, I never saw him fade into a shadow of the man he was. How lucky is that? To have that knowledge and to have people reaffirming it when I question or stumble or worry or forget is a massive deal and, without that I would have been a very different person.

 

So; whilst I can, and do, wish that our dad was still with us, his absence allowed me to create a picture perfect person because, when we die, we can never disappoint, we can never fail. We can only be remembered. Death, particularly when the person is young or it is unexpected creates romanticised ideals that are impossible to live up to. Over time the rawness of grief softens, the memories become more technicolour and, in my experience become mixed with happy dreams of imaginings of things that maybe never were. Those left behind are simply imperfect humans that have to pick up the pieces, do their best and keep on keeping on;  That’s the tougher gig by far.

And so; here we are, our unit of three that has swelled to a 9 doing our best to make memories for the next generation.

family photo yellow dresses

He lived, he loved and was loved and the legacy he leaves means I know what a good dad is and every day I get to see Mr L making my girls feel just as safe and secure and as loved as I ever was. To get that lucky twice is something special wouldn’t you say and that, for me, has to be enough.

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one of a few precious pics which is why making memories is so important to me. 

 

 

Happy birthday daddy.

You are loved and remembered every day.

Tiny Tears. x

PS: Since you’re here- I’ve got a favour to ask… give someone you love a call today and tell them. There’s never a bad time to tell someone how glad you are to have them in your life.

*If you haven’t seen Back to the Future- please do!

THE TROUBLE IS

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes we all need a PJ day & 3 books that made me feel less mad!

Good Morning you gorgeous gaggle and a very happy Pyjamarama day to you! But what’s that I hear you cry?! Well, we’ve all heard of a PJ day or a duvet day. I imagine that we’ve all felt the need to hunker down, pull up the drawbridge and ignore the outside world for a day or two…Pyjamarama day is just the opposite! A UK  wide event where thousands of nurseries, pre-schools, libraries and other baby groups will be staying in their PJ’s to raise money for Booktrust to support their campaign to ensure that every child in the UK gets a bedtime story.

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This is the first year that Booktrust have hosted such a day which is a bit of a shame as it would have been the perfect way for me to launch Time for Bed Baby which will be celebrating its 1st birthday this month!

Feedback for the book has been really positive; mums have reported that they feel ‘less alone’ and ‘encouraged by the supportive tone of the book’ which honestly makes me so happy! The whole purpose of the book was to reassure mums that, even if they are alone physically, there is someone out there that knows and understands the way they are feeling and, is telling them it will pass, they are precious too and they deserve the time to take care of their needs too.

This book gave me the ultimate gift of hope. Hope that sleep will come (it has been elusive!) and tomorrow will begin afresh. A practical set of actions, and a story that my little one absolutely loves. Thank you! It’s our family’s favourite and I am sure I will be buying as a gift for my friends.

My local PJ day was hosted by West Kirby library on Tuesday and was absolutely gorgeous- there was a bounce and rhyme session with lots of singing and music followed by a chance for drinks and a chat with other mums and some of the services and groups in the area that families can access such as first aid sessions, swimming classes and music groups. I was so glad I went because honestly; that morning, I nearly didn’t. My anxiety was through the roof, imposter syndrome was choking me;

Seriously; who the hell do you think you are with your stupid book and your mindfulness for mums? Everyone is laughing at you- what makes you think anyone gives a shit what you think?

AND- I was in my pyjamas for crying out loud- I wasn’t exactly going to go unnoticed on my walk from the car park!

Putting myself out there- sharing not only something that I wrote but also my feelings and family has been without a doubt the hardest part of the whole book writing process. I have regularly wondered why I bothered, why people would be interested in my verse, my advice, my experience. I have shrugged off compliments and minimised my achievement because it is a really bloody scary thing to share something that means so much to you with the world, and await judgement….and it is all of these things, all of these feelings that make me sure that sharing them is the right thing to do. Showing others, mums or not, that these feelings pass. That they can be managed, they can be discussed and, it doesn’t make you less of a mum or a woman or a human. It makes you more. To feel like staying in your PJ’s, under the covers and alone save for a cuppa and some fictional characters, but to actually get up, get out and own looking like a total div dropping off the kids and walking through the carpark in the rain whilst wearing your salmon pink birdy pyjama top is enough!

PJ Day

You can’t tell I’m full to the brim with self doubt here can you…

Being kind to others and sharing your experiences so people feel less alone is a success whether that is one person or one million  and all of this is true whether you’re promoting yourself or your business or whether you’re just braving the library bounce and rhyme for the first time. Allowing yourself to hear and believe compliments is hard but, I am getting better; these are two of my favourites:

Every new mum needs this book! The routine of reading this lovely story to your baby each evening, then being prompted to look after yourself is an incredibly valuable tool for new mums. I love the yoga and breathing exercises and I love that taking time in the evening for me has now become routine.

The transition to motherhood wasn’t effortless for me and I wish this had been available when my first was born, I think our bonding experience and in turn, my mental health would have been very much more healthy.

And, in the Booktrust spirit; I am going to share with you some of the books that have made me feel less of a weirdo, more able to manage my mind day to day and be more gentle with myself- whatever life throws at me. 🙂

Bryony Gordon: Mad Girl and Eat, Drink, Run – Bryony ran with me (via Audible) through most of my marathon training! She made me look madder than usual during my Wirral Way jaunts as I nodded and laughed and cried along with her. She is funny, self aware, honest and the perfect illustration of how non of us can possibly know what anyone else is going through unless they share it. I love everything she stands for and have a massive girl crush on her.

Suzy Reading: The self-care revolution – Suzy is a regular contributor to Psychologies magazine and has lots of suggestions on how we can take ‘micro moments’ to look after ourselves. It’s not funny but it makes a lot of sense!

Hal Elrod: The Miracle Moring  **This is mega American and listening to it on audio will only heighten this feeling but, I got loads from it

NB- These books are not magic; you will defo still have days that you feel pants. Soz.

Well; this post has definitely taken a different turn to what I was expecting to write; Sorry but- there you go! You might as well be honest otherwise whats the point?! I was planning on sharing with you the books that my babies loved reading before bed each night and revisiting the idea that was so important for me in the early days, weeks and years; Bath, Book, Bed but- you can read all about that in my book if you want and I’ll come back soon with my other recommended reads.

Have a happy day now.

Loads of love,

Tanya

XxxX

PS- If you want to buy a personalised copy of the book drop me a line with the details and I will pop one in the post for you spit spot!

PPS- The eagle eyed among you will have seen I am beginning to change my name on social media from Muma to Tanya…more on that to come…

 

 

 

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