The “Great” Outdoors – It Really Is.

The Great Outdoors

It’s not just “great” because it’s huge and gargantuous, it’s “great” in so many more ways than that.

Mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys… Our imagination takes us straight to the visuals of national parks and sweeping mountain ranges when we hear the words “The Great Outdoors”.

But the phrase has taken on new meaning for us in the past 10 months. Not the “outdoors” bit – the “Great” bit.

I’ve always been a fan of the outdoors. When you grow up on a farm in Donegal, you don’t really have any other option. But even as an adult, with my farm duties minimised to a few days a year helping the Daddy out, the outdoors is somewhere we try to spend a lot of time.

Family fundays are (were) always outdoors

We’re one of those families. Even long before we had heard the word “lockdown”, Sundays were our Fun-days and usually involved a beach or a forest or a hike up something. And on the odd day where we found ourselves Kiddy free, we liked to climb the odd mountain. Yes, for fun.

Muckish was the last mountain we climbed in June last year, once restrictions allowed us to drive to it!

So now we’re obviously missing being able to adventure throughout our beautiful county, but ironically, never before have I enjoyed the outdoors so much. Nor have I ever needed it so much. It’s no longer just for Sundays. It’s become a daily requirement in my life. And in Himself’s life and certainly in the girls’ lives.

We can’t go far. The garden is plenty big for the girls to run free and living in the sticks (as they say) means that we can walk or run on a few different roads within our 5k.

Last week, I turned left instead of right for the first time and ended up running on a road I probably haven’t been on in 25 years. I never need to drive it. It was like travelling to Narnia, bringing me past a farm on which I spent many a day playing as a child (Dad kept cattle there) and past homes of people I haven’t seen since National school. How quickly we get set in our ways eh? I’ll be running that road more often. It made me smile.

A different road within my 5k brought back memories

I’ve never been so glad to be able to get outdoors. Even on the days where I can’t get out for a run, if it’s too slippy, or I’m too busy, I make a point of going outdoors. Even if it’s only to walk around the house a few times, or to stand in the garden. Coat on , cuppa in hand and out I go. Because in our current situation, the outdoors is indeed great. Even if you’re only going as far as your back step.

It’s “great” because it’s fresh. Deep breaths of cold air, your face stinging from the temperature change as you step outside, your exhalations evaporating in clouds at your face… it’s rejuvenating.

It’s calming. It’s soothing. It’s relaxing and refreshing. Sometimes, it’s the only place we can escape the constant noise and chaos of our precious children. I can tolerate the noise of my two a WHOLE lot more when we’re outside! (Not sure I can say the same for the neighbours. They sometimes sound like there are 38 of them.)

But seriously, there is something magical about fresh air and what it can do. No it can’t solve our problems or change things, but it can allow us to see them differently. And sometimes, getting outdoors gives us the opportunity to process them that we can not get when surrounded by noise and washing machines and bleeping devices and work piles on the kitchen tables and all the “things” that need done, yesterday.

And so while we’re stuck within our respective 5kms and for most of us, Errigal and Muckish are only visible in the distance or on our phones, we can still get outdoors and let it help us feel better.

We might not feel “great”, but one thing is certain, even a 5 minute breather in the outdoors, will leave you feeling a whole lot better than if you DON’T set foot outside.

And that is all it takes. Open door. Step out. Hello Outdoors. It’s great!

So yes. I can’t wait to explore again; to climb mountains and go on hikes and run a different road. But if nothing else, I’ve learned that they don’t call it the “Great outdoors” just because it’s big and vast.

It’s “great”, whether you’re standing at the foot of a mountain, or walking around your garden, or leaning on your car in your street, or hugging a cuppa on your doorstep.

Step outdoors, just for a few minutes a day. Trust me. It’s great.

Once Upon a Normal…

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” 

I’ve said these words more than a few times over the past few weeks. Mainly, because I found myself absolutely bricking it over things that ‘once upon a normal’, wouldn’t have taken a fizz out of me. 

I’ve found myself anxious and sweating and with all the fizzy fingers at just the thought of having to go into the town. 

As someone who generally is not in any way worried about going places, or being out in public, this new found worry, worried me.  

I’m the type of person who can happily spend a day wandering around London on my own. I won’t care if someone I’m meeting in a restaurant or coffee shop is 20 minutes late.  I’m more than used to going to events on my own.  It wouldn’t have cost me a thought to go to a new place before lockdown.  

So how come, after going in to do the Big shop (not for the first time) a few weeks ago, I found myself in an absolute tizzy when I got back into the car?  I’m talking palpitations, sweats and a frustration that had my shoulders up at my ears. 

I was engulfed with a rage at myself, at how stupid I felt and how anxious I was over something that only a few weeks earlier, had been one of the banal, ordinary, boring even, activities of my previous normal. 

And so for at least 6 weeks, I refused point blank to do the shopping.  I’m lucky I have someone that could do it instead.  We had been taking turns anyway, so he didn’t mind, but I simply could not face going back in. And because I didn’t have to, I didn’t.

Ridiculous yeah?

Then, when the phases began to move, we went to a local park with the girls.  I looked after the girls. Himself it turns out, had to look after me.  Because I was so terrified of them going too close to people or doing something wrong, that I was on ‘fight or flight’ mode from the second we parked the car until we got back into it.

The following week, my best friend messaged about a coffee date.  Yay and hurrah… 

We were sitting outside a cafe, having a long overdue catch up, but we were at least an hour in before my shoulders lowered to where they’re supposed to be and I actually relaxed. A bit. 

Sitting outside a cafe I’ve frequented for years, with my best friend of almost 20 years, waving and saying hi to people we knew as they passed… I was calm on the outside, but a trainwreck inside.  I wasn’t calm and confident.  I was buzzing on nervous energy and on high alert. 

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” I said to my parents a few days later.  

And as usual, they had the answer. 

“You’re afraid. We’re all so afraid.”  They’re wise, and usually right are my parents, but don’t tell them I said that.

So armed with the fact that if my Daddy and Mammy can be afraid of normal stuff too, I decided that if I was in fact afraid, I had to face it. 

I sent a few messages that night and arranged a different coffee date or walk for each day that week.  Having just one thing on my schedule (and yes, I wrote them into my diary which has been lying redundant since March 12th) made me face a different place each day. 

I had coffee with a friend on a bench.  I met a mate for a donut and cuppa on the square. I even had coffee and cake with a friend in the back of her husband’s van which has a table in it… A-TEAM, eat your heart out. 

And as nervous as I was about each of these, making myself do it and speaking to familiar faces who I have missed so much, was the tonic that I needed.  Even better, each and every one of them said that they were feeling the exact same. And my message had made THEM get up and get out of their own comfort zones. 

I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a councillor.  I’m a hot mess and like everyone, I’ve been affected by the changes of the past few months. 

 I am however, able to admit my weakness.  I learned a few years ago that if I’m not feeling “right”, that saying it out loud leads to figuring it out. 

I figured out that I needed to face my fear and make myself get up and go out. And I’m stubborn enough to make myself do it. 

And considering that I have to go back to work in our gym at 6am tomorrow morning, I really had no choice but to get up and out. 

Now, I still haven’t faced the big shop.  And I still have to take a breath and plan where I’m going beforehand.  And I still sigh with huge relief when I’m safe and back in my car. But I’m another step closer to being back to my old self. And we have to keep taking those small steps to get to where we want to go. 

So if you can relate to ANY of this, I hope that you can get out and about.  Go for that coffee.  Meet that friend for lunch. Take the kids to the park. Go to the shop you’ve missed. Go back to the gym.  Book that restaurant. Go get your hair done.

With care and planning and abiding to social distancing guidelines, we can stay safe and keep each other safe.  

And soon, our “Once upon a normals”, will be “Happily Ever After Lockdown.”

Your Legacy, Your Footprints…

Legacy 

What is Legacy?

It’s a word we usually retain for after someone has departed for the Big City in the Sky, (or wherever you believe we go after this life.)

But Legacy is not as final as we think.  We’re creating our own legacies, Every Single Day.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if we thought of our legacy as our everyday?  It’s the things we do each day, the people we affect each day, the conversations we have, the changes we make.

Sometimes, we make changes in our lives that take us on a new direction.  Sometimes, the change is subtle and yet, whether big or small, all changes lead us on a new journey.

Change is good. Change is what you make it.

But just because you come to the end of something, doesn’t mean that it’s over.  You will always have the memories you made.  You will always have the lessons you learned. You will always be who you are, based on what you’ve done, who you’ve met and what you’ve been through.

May it be an ending relationship, an ending friendship, an ending job, a change in career, an end of a process… all of the things that we do, every day, have made and DO make us who we are.  Our past has brought us to our now, and it shapes where we are going.

I’m thinking of a special friend as I write this today.  Big change is happening for this friend.  And I need her to know a few things:

This is not an end.  It is simply a change in direction.

It is the right change for her.

She has touched the lives of so many, in many positive ways.

She has influenced more young people than you could imagine.

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Rather than being sad that something is over, we need to be glad that it happened; to understand that its highs and its lows ALL contributed to what we learned from it.  And know that as we leave something, or someone, we can choose which memories to take with us.

We all leave footprints; we don’t remember every single step we ever took, but we know that every single step had to be taken to get us to where we are.

THAT is our legacy.  And we’re still creating it.

So , to you, (whose name means “Together” or “One” and which actually suits you perfectly considering the “together” YOU helped create), don’t be sad.

Smile at the memories (and friends) that you made, acknowledge the footprints you’ve left and get excited at the thought of the next stage of your journey.

It’s yours. Dance through it.

You have many more footprints to leave.

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Seriously? Yes. Seriously!

So it seems this picture is doing the rounds again. I wrote a response to it a few years ago… it stands true!

Read the extract from 1950 Home Economics Book below. 👇👇👇👇👇

🙄Have Dinner Ready🙄

Plan ahead, even the night before, to have some sort of food in the house for your family, possibly including your husband, not because you have been thinking about him or give a continental shite about his needs, but because YOU need food so he might as well get fed too.

Most men are hungry when they get home, but most men are well able to get their own feckin dinner, and make you some while they’re at it.

🤨Prepare yourself🤨

Take a 15 minutes rest if you can. Or, sneeze so your eyes close briefly. Just make sure you remove the key from inside the front door so he doesn’t waken you with the doorbell as he lets himself into the house.
Your man should think you’re the prettiest thing he’s ever seen, even when you haven’t worn makeup for 5 days, stink like a badger’s arse and have forgotten what a razor looks like. If he suggests putting a ribbon in your hair or spraying perfume, threaten to bobbit him with said ribbon, spray the perfume in his eyes and use a pointy stiletto to give his day a little lift. Smile gayly while doing so. It’ll make his day more interesting and less boring.

😆Clear away the Clutter.😆

If you can make it from one end of the living room to the other without stepping on lego or tripping on a Paw Patrol weeble, your house is perfect. Tidying everything up before he gets home only leads to a false impression that the kids have NOT destroyed EVERYTHING on sight since 7am. Reality is good.
The messier the house, the more chance there is that He will run you a bath, or pour you a gin, realising what kind of afternoon/day you must have had with his Holy Terrors. Your Husband will probably not notice either way as he’ll be too busy answering very important emails or catching up on Bookface to give a crap. If he wants a haven of rest and order, he can just give you a hand to lift everything of the floor.
Equal rights and all that.

😑Prepare the Children😑
Do try to wash the children’s hands and faces, if only to avoid spaghetti bolognese stains on your duvets. Do not attempt to comb hair in the evening, unless you are really in the mood for a screaming match. Do not under any circumstances change their clothes. Feck that. You’re just creating more washing for your bottomless basket. Actually, remove their clothes before dinner and cover them in bin bags. You might even get another day out of their outfits if you’re really clever.

They are his little treasures, so let him play the part. Toddle off to the cinema with your mamma squad (or on your own!) and let Him do bath time and bedtime. Let’s see how much clutter has been lifted by the time you get home eh?

🤗Minimise all noise.🤗
Scrap this. Turn on all appliances before he arrives home, just to emphasise your absolute busy-mummy-ness, because unless he sees it being done, he often won’t realise it’s been done! Let the children scream and shout at each other, turn up the Tellybox and any other devices and do not attempt to hush them. Actually, if you are heading out shopping or to, like a sewing class, give them sugar before you leave. Greet him with a warm smile, be glad to see him and run out that fecking door as fast as your feet can carry you.

🤨Some Don’ts🤨
Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Wait until he is having his dinner and the kids are listening and casually remind him of what you’ve asked him 309 times to do already.
Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner. It’s him who’ll have to eat it cold, not you. Why give a hoot? Save complaints or ranting for after the kids have gone to bed, so you swear more effectively.
Men love a passionate woman who knows her mind. If his day can trump being covered in poonami, screamed at incessantly by a teething toddler or puked on 3 times, then in fairness, be nice. And then tell him he needs to change jobs.

😋Make him comfortable.😋
Indeed, wait until he’s comfortable before telling him the bin needs to go out. Stomp about screaming “Fine then I’ll do it myself!” until he gets up to do it… If you catch him lying down in the bedroom while there are still children at large, throw a cold drink over him and tell him it’ll be hot next time. Threaten to arrange the pillow on his face while he is sleeping if he doesn’t get up RIGHT NOW to help with bedtime. Speak in low, soothing, threatening tones.
It’s much more effective.

🤣Listen to him🤣
You may have a list of things to tell him. Write that list down so that you don’t forget all of the things, and then email, text and stick that list onto his forehead, before still having to repeat the same list tonorrow. Wait until he has his coat off, or better still, catch him on the toilet. He has no escape from there.

🤔Make the evening his🤔
Oh, Feck off 1950.

😄The Goal😄
Try to make your home a place where you can both manage to keep the children alive and teach them not to be completely feral and grumpy little shits, while (the odd time) having some down time together to remember that you actually do like each other.

Oh. And you can see why the man who wrote this was so anally retentive and ridiculous… there is no mention of SEX anywhere. 😂😂

New Year, New You…re grand as you are Mum.

Before the onslaught of New Year, New You Bullshit starts, let me remind you of a few things…

Yes, January 1st is an obviously good starting point for new beginnings and new intentions.

Just like everything ‘starts on Monday’, at this time of year, we are all so good at using ‘I’ll start in the New Year’ as our mantra.

New project? I’ll start in January…
New intention? I’ll start in January…
Giving up something? Wait until January…
Starting something? Wait until January…
New routine? I’ll start in January…
Want to change something? Wait until January… Good intentions eh?

NEED to change something? Wait until January? And suddenly, what SEEMS like a good intention is ACTUALLY just procrastination. And we’re all good at that.

New Year, New You...'re fine as you are..png

Of course the New Year is a great time for motivation and change and new everything. However, if you are changing something because someone or something is making you feel like you’re not good enough, stop and think.

Over the next few days, our news feeds will be full of adverts which seem to be encouraging and motivating you.

You’ll see all sorts of quick fixes and miracle makers; everything from programmes and apps to help to start or stop a habit, to magic pills and shakes which will transform you into a Victoria Secret’s model faster than you can take a poo… (which is precisely what you’ll be doing if you take any of that crap.)

What we need to remember is that EACH and EVERY one of these adverts has been targeted at us. They’re not popping up on our screens by accident. They’re targeted by the companies; our age, interests, demographic, location, previous searches… it’s all algorithm and it’s simple and clever marketing.

Most of the ads are genuine companies who know their target markets and how to target them effectively at the right time, in the right way.

There’s no conspiracy in that.

Where we have a problem is when the companies are telling you, usually indirectly, sometimes bluntly, that YOU are not good enough AS YOU ARE.

They tell you you NEED to look a certain way. You NEED your teeth whitened. You NEED to lose weight. You NEED to calm down. You NEED to change your mindset. You NEED to spend less time or more time on whatever… You NEED to eat this way. You NEED to take this… You NEED to take that.

They tell you that your life is incomplete. They tell you that your life is mediocre.
They tell you that your life could be soooooo much better.

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They go so far as to show you “Real people”, their case studies, their Before and Afters. They put only the Glossy, filtered, Instaperfect images of their customers/clients on their websites. They tell you that YOU TOO could have this life…that it is SOOOO easy. They smugly imply that it really is a breeze, that if you join their gang/cult/whatever that you will also have shiny, filtered, smiling instafeed in as little as 10 days.

By showing you these glossy smiling examples, they are indirectly telling your that YOUR life is actually pretty shitty in comparison.

They are hitting you during the Post Christmas bloat, the gray Pre-January blur when family members have left and the tree is molting in the corner and we’re all feeling a bit meh. They are telling you that you are not enough.

They are wrong.

You are perfect, just as you are.
You are beautiful, just as you are.
You are strong.
You can face anything.
You are loved.
Your life is YOUR life and it should not be measured by anyone else’s prepackaged and filtered measuring tape.

Sure, we all have things we aspire to, resolutions an intentions. If you want to change something, do it. If you want to get healthier, do it. If you want to lose weight, go for it. If you want to make a drastic change to your routine, go for it.

But ONLY do it FOR YOU.
Not because some advert on your news feed tells you you are not enough.

Do it for YOURSELF. AND if anyone of the smug, shiny, “Look at how perfect my life is” brigade tells you they can “Make you the BEST version of YOU,” tell them to feck off. You’re doing a great job of being YOU, all by yourself.

You don’t need to buy a lifestyle from anyone. You don’t need a NEW YOU. You just need to realise that you’re already as YOU as you can be.

 

And you look pretty damn perfect to me.