Friday, 21 June 2013

A Challenge to Love & Accept Your Body | One for the Weekend

Recently I have started reading articles from this incredible website Everyday Feminism. And literally, every day, I have read a new and inspiring article from this fabulous site.

People might think it's a little odd, but I would most definitely say that I'm quite the feminist. It's quite obvious I'm not an extreme, modern feminist, but I believe I'm a feminist in the way that I appreciate all of the great things that marvelous women have done over hundreds of years, which mean that in this day, I have a choice. For a long time, women were not given the right to choose much at all with regard to their own lives, and I am so grateful that this has changed, and that I live in this day of female choice.

Some may argue that I am indeed, not a feminist, because of my choices; but because I choose what people may describe as "femininity", does not mean I'm not a feminist.

Rather a lot of ignorant people the world over think that feminism is about being a woman but wanting to be a man. It's not.

I think feminism is about recognising women, loving, and respecting them; whether the woman chooses to act, talk, dress, dance like a man, or whether they choose to do their hair every day, and wear skirts, make-up and lots of pink.

So now you know my opinion.

Today I was blessed to come across this article on Everyday Feminism. Read it now.

Recently, I've been struggling with this very issue; I've been finding it really hard to love my body. 

At almost 12 weeks postpartum, a lot of people have been telling me I look great. But every time, something inside me says "No, I don't". I think it's mostly down to not feeling great. Yes, I've just had a baby, and no, I'm not well, but is that any reason for me to feel so negatively about my body... my image... myself?

I have always struggled with my self-esteem. And there are a number of reasons for it; some I know, some I don't. But either way, I still struggle. But me aside, I think a lot of women do. And this is something that I think needs to be more widely addressed worldwide; in the media, in the home, and in our own heads.

Why is it that women are so self-critical? Why is it that for me to even start to think about making a change in the way I think about myself, I had to read this article four times? Why am I still so nervous? Why am I not sure I can do it? Why am I doubting so much?

Because, for many reasons, it has been ingrained in me that I - my body, myself, me - am not good enough, slim enough, beautiful enough, fashionable enough, or enough of anything at all. I always think of myself as falling short. I do not love, or accept, my body. And I don't think I'm the only one.

But I have made a decision, and it starts with this weekend. If you decided to skip over it earlier, read THIS ARTICLE NOW!

This is my favourite bit:
"You’re a spiritual being having a physical experience. The way that you experience the world is through your body. When you feel love and approval toward your body, then you can truly experience your life and the world around you."
When I read this part, my throat swelled, because it resonated so deeply with me. When I go out, especially places where there are lots of people I know or need to get to know, I am constantly thinking about the way I look; whether it's my hair, my clothes, my skin, my face, my body, or even my feet - It's always in the back of my mind. If I could change that at all, I might more enjoy the things that I go to enjoy, I might be more a part of it, gain more from, be happier because of it, and "truly experience [my] life and the world around [me]".

By the time I finished reading the article, a tear had rolled down my cheek. It was a tear of recognition. I recognised that I was all of those reasons to not love and accept my body. I realised that I really need to change the way I view myself. And not just for me; I have a daughter now. She will spend almost every waking day with me for the next three years at least; do I really want Lily to see me the way that I see myself? Do I want her to see herself the way that I see myself? Because she will learn from me.

The answer to those questions is no. I want her to love and respect and accept her body. Therefore, I need to do just that to mine.

So I start here, on the Blog, this weekend.

This weekend, every time an un-loving, body-negative thought creeps into my mind, I will try my very best to abolish it with something positive. Even if I just follow the negative thought with a "but", I will make it look up, somehow.

I'm a far way away from really loving my body, but I can start now with trying to accept it. 

Why don't you join me? I challenge you to learn to accept the body that you have been blessed with, and develop that acceptance into love, and see how your perspective, outlook, body and life changes as we make this great step on the road to self-worth.

**Before taking yourself on this journey please read the two following articles**
- One girl almost died trying to love her body; by trying to adapt her body to love, rather than the other way around. Please read this so that you can learn to love yourself safely.
- This one has one really great tip on learning to love the body you've been blessed with!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Just 9 things...

  1. I don't like using Euros. I miss the Pound. Maybe it's just because I'm trying to transfer bank accounts at the moment. You know you can get a 500 Euro Note? That's far too much money for one piece of paper. I'm sure I'll get used to this modern money one day. 
  2. Germany is so clean. Remember this picture from here?
    I can get used to this kind of tidy!
  3. Water is water, right? Not here in Germany... You ask for water in a restaurant and they bring you that weird sparkling stuff... It's happened four times now. You think I would have learned after the third time? Nah. Stilles Wasser. Stilles Wasser. Stilles Wasser. Must. Remember. This. In really posh restaurants in England, they sometimes give you a choice between still and sparkling when you ask for water. Sometimes...
  4. My baby is beautiful.
  5. Even though I'm learning basic German phrases, and know how to order very useful things such as ice cream, whenever it actually comes to it I completely buckle and spurt out really fast that "Sorry I don't speak German, can I have that pink one...uhh...Bitte?" I'm really going to have to work on that.
  6. The best ice cream is in Germany. And it's Italian. 
    Bottom left; orange flavour. You're right Dad, it's the best! 
  7. Finding a place to live in Munich is more stressful than looking for a job in England. It's not like a competition, it is one. A number of people apply for one flat, and the Landlord picks his favourite. But they come and go like Whack-a-Mole. Seriously. 
    {Our current most-visited website}
  8. The architecture here is stunning. We visited a place last week called Landshut. Stunning. I can't wait for my brother and his family to come and visit, probably sometime next year - You'll love it Tim!
  9. Seriously, she is just the best.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Anxiety | Part Two.

Continued from here.

I don't think I actually put Lily down for the first two weeks of her life. I was so anxious I couldn't bring myself to put her down for more than thirty minutes I think. I just had to know that she was always breathing. It took my body a little longer than most to recover from childbirth (a healthy, normal delivery, with just a couple of stitches that is). I bled quite heavily for over four weeks, and didn't completely stop bleeding until Lily was around eight weeks old. I was so anxious for her to know how loved she was, I was almost neglecting myself.

She became so used to either Pete or me holding her that she wouldn't sleep in her Moses Basket. I think she may have slept in there maybe four times? We co-slept with Lily. I know some people think it's the worst thing you can do, but for me it was far easier to have her right by me, feeling her breathing and moving, and instantly hearing her when she needed me. When she slept in the Moses Basket, I hardly slept a wink. Every tiny noise she made my mind was alert and questioning what the problem might be. Beside me, she was safe, and I was at peace knowing she was okay.

Things have gotten a little easier since moving here to Munich just a few days ago. Pete's parents bought Lily a beautiful cot, with the most gorgeous pink bedding set. She also has new toys, a wonderful, soft mobile hanging from the ceiling, and a lovely pink flower night-light. And Lily loves it. She sleeps longer in the cot than she ever did in between me and Pete, and she has room to kick and play when she wakes up, making for a happy waker.

But I still have all of my anxieties. It has been taking a little bit of a toll on me really.

I know I need to try and be brave.

With Lily, I am constantly looking for all the danger. What could possibly fall on her, how she could possibly fall off something, is there anything near by she could choke on, anything that could suffocate her. I need to remove all the danger from Lily's space before I can relax. When she is with me, I know she is safe; because of my anxiety I am constantly aware of everything around me.

But this poses a bit of a problem when she is with someone else.

At first I thought I was crazy, but now I've figured it out; I am happy to give Lily to somebody to hold, as I'm  aware of the situation, circumstance, etc. But if somebody decides they would like to take her without me being ready to give, then I struggle. I am constantly looking toward them, making sure they are holding her right; supporting her head and making sure she is comfortable. I watch them like a Hawk watches it's pray before the kill. I talk to other people but my eyes never leave Lily and the surrounding space. My breath quickens, my chest tightens, my palms sweat - all the classic symptoms. But I know now why I feel like this; why I can't cope when somebody just takes her from my arms without me offering first. Because I lost Seth.

In a way, Seth was taken from me, and I legitimately (I think) fear that Lily will be taken from me too.

I constantly have crazy thoughts of horrific possibilities of scenarios; someone will drop her, she will fall, suffocate, choke, something will fall on her, she'll catch an illness, she'll overheat, something bad will happen. These thoughts race round my head most of the day, and then turn into uneasy and restless nights, and sometimes even horrible dreams.

But like I said, I need to be brave now. I can't carry on like this forever. I know my anxiety will never go away completely - I will always worry that bit more than is maybe necessary or normal - but like I said before, losing a child changes a person. But I do need to find ways to deal with it, so that I don't let it consume me, my mind, my heart, and make me become some bitter, over-possessive crazy Mother who keeps her child in a bubble. That wouldn't be good.

The first one; just breathe.

Sometimes this is easy, sometimes this is hard. But sometimes it really helps. When somebody takes Lily for a cuddle, sometimes I just have to pass her over and breathe. I breathe in for four, out for eight. three times. With that first breath out, I let out all (well most of) the anxieties and hard feelings. The next breath out, I let my face and shoulders relax, and the third, I just smile. I do this quite discretely, and often I still carry on talking. No one wants to make a scene. But any way I do it, it usually helps, even just a little.

Second; I learn that it's normal.

I talk with friends who have been in similar situations, I read about post-loss anxiety on the internet. I follow blogs of other women who have lost children (my favourites here, here, and here), and I keep up to date with Sands, reading articles and studies. I have also recently been directed to this website, and have found that it is starting to help me address some issues I have. I tell myself it is normal, and to an extent it's okay, but it's definitely understandable, and I'm not the only one.

Thirdly; I find inspiration.

Through the women's blogs I have linked above, through friends also. But also from Church Leaders (one of my favourite talks here.) I regularly read talks, and watch the Mormon Messages found on our Church's website, and also from people all over the world who share, not the same situation, but the same beliefs as me through I have a board on pinterest specifically devoted to relieving anxiety, which I visit and pin to regularly, finding sources of hope and inspiration from all over the internet.

And Finally? I pray. 

Prayer plays a huge part in my life. I pray every day. I always try to keep a prayer in my heart. I know that through prayer, many great things are possible. I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers, and finds ways to answer them, whether through promptings by the Holy Spirit, or through other people, whether they be strangers or friends. Prayer is our phone line to God. It's our one true and personal way of communication with Him. Sadly, sometimes when I most need to pray is when it seems to take a backseat. But then there comes a point, where it all gets a little much and I feel Implosion Imminent, and I fall to my knees and beg for forgiveness for not praying more often. And as soon as I address my Father in Heaven, I feel the burden of anxiety already start to lift. Whatever the problem, prayer is the antidote. I promise.

This may seem like a bit of a ranting post, and I know it's super long, but if it just helps one person with some kind of anxiety issues then it has served it's purpose. If it lets just one person know they aren't alone, or directs them to someone or somewhere that helps, or holds the answer, then I'll be more the satisfied.

I'm hoping that sharing these feelings here on the blog will help people to understand what it's really like to lose a child, and the consequences thereafter. Whether they have lost themselves and find solace here, or are just trying to understand another's hurt and heartache. If there is anyone you know who you think might benefit from reading this post, and Anxiety | Part One, then please pass on the link. Issues such as anxiety are so often un-dealt with and brushed under the carpet, or those who are suffering are too afraid to say and so suffer in silence. I hope that here, I can offer some sanctuary from anxiety, and some tools for making better a difficult situation. So please, pass the link to help a friend.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Willkommen aus Deutschland!

Ab jetzt werde ich das Schreiben der Blog in deutscher Sprache!

Just kidding! I'm no way near good enough at German yet.

I even cheated with that. I used Google Translate.

Welcome to Munich, Germany!

{Disclaimer: I didn't take this picture, but boy, I wish I did.}
I definitely still feel like I am just one lucky girl on holiday at the moment. But I know in time that will change.

But "how is Munich?" I hear you ask. Well, the weather is good, the sights are great, and the food even better!

Seriously, you should visit Munich just for the ice cream. Crema Gelato! I have never tasted ice cream so good in my life. And I've tried A LOT of ice cream. (Wish I took a picture of the ice cream...)

The one thing that really sucks about being here right now though? Is that I really can't enjoy it, because I'm ill {insert sympathy cries from you all here}. Oh, woe is me.

It feels as though as soon as Peter and I are able to take the next step in life, one (or both!) of us gets sick! I really hope I get better soon, because I am sick of being sick! *Rant over*.

Munich really is a beautiful city, and I cannot wait to explore more.

So, we are all happy and (kind of) well, and safe here in Munich!

But the best thing so far? Lily has developed from doing her crazy big smile, to a proper little laugh! It is the most precious thing! I shall leave you a picture that will make all of your hearts melt like chocolate.

{She is just the cutest baby girl ever}

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

One more sleep to go...

One more sleep 'til Deutschland!

My, oh my, has it come around fast.

Which also means that my baby girl is a whole two months old!! Can you believe it? Because I surely can't!

{My Chubbikins; just chillin'}
Things have been a tad tense around here, but this girly keeps me strong, and smiling.

It's sad to have to leave behind the South West of England, after all, it is all I've ever known. I am sad to be moving so far away from my family; and not just my siblings and parents, but Lily's aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and so many other wonderful relatives.

We've had the chance to say some "goodbye's" "see you later's" over the passed few days. At times it has been quite difficult, and I could feel my heartstrings being stretched as I shared last hugs with a couple of my most favourite people. But it's only until next time; and there will be a next time.

The hardest thing is going to be having to leave Seth behind. He'll always be with us in so, so many ways, but Swindon (where he is buried) has always seemed so close, and now I'm terrified of it actually feeling a little too far. But I trust in good friends who are very near his grave to keep him in mind, and heart. I know he is loved by so many, and we won't really be leaving him behind at all.

But, I am so excited to be starting this new chapter of my life, together with my beautiful little family. It feels like it's been so long coming, I'm finding it hard to actually believe it's going to happen now! We are moving to Munich! Eek! I'm sure it will become real enough when we get there.

I think it's quite ironic that as soon as we're leaving the sun decides to actually shine in the UK! What a joke! And even more ironic is the state of the weather over in Germany! They've experienced a whole two month's of rainfall in just two days across Central Europe, and serious flooding has occurred across the South of Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. My heart goes out to those who have sadly lost their lives due to the extremes in weather, and I pray for those who are still missing, that they may be reunited with their family's very soon. See more here.
Hopefully things will start to clear up soon. Maybe we'll take some of England's lucky sunshine with us!? (That's something I haven't said in a while!)

So, here's to New Beginnings! Another New Normal... Many new discoveries to make. A new country, a new chapter, a new life for us all. The first time I move country, the first time Lily flies! Our first family trip is a one-way to Deutschland! I feel like soon I'll be able to breathe... German air!

Pete is on his way to pick up the hire car, I'm ironing tomorrow's travelling clothes, and Lily's taking a much needed nap! We'll be running a few last British errands this afternoon, and leaving first thing in the morning, stopping by in Swindon to visit Seth and a last lunch, and whenever else we need to stop for Little Flower, and the it's on to Stansted, praying check-in and flight goes smoothly, and then arrival in Munich the late evening, and just the start of many more "Hello's".

Wish us luck!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Anxiety | Part One

I have suffered with mild anxiety since I was about twelve years old. I never really felt it was much of a problem when I was a teenager, but there were a lot of people who thought it was much of a problem.

As I got older, my anxiety symptoms started to fizzle away. I noticed them less and less, and I was therefore less conscious of any kind of problem I might have had. I was confident enough about my anxiety that I could enter almost any situation with a smile on my face, and no notice of a twitchy shoulder or bitten lip.

But there are certain events in a person's life that change them permanently.

Losing Seth - that kind of thing really does change a  person. Or, in this circumstance, resurface passed anxieties.

After we lost Seth, I started to notice some old "friends" peeping up in my nervous system. Large crowds threw my chest off balance; seeing people I knew - and even considered close friends - in the street would send me into a state of unease and panic. I would worry that someone would ask about Seth and I would break down. Or that they would say something and meaninglessly break my heart all over again. It happened a few times. Even the question "How are you?" would have my hands attempting to tear the other's skin from bone at times, without my head even realising. But the one sure way I knew that I was suffering from anxiety again? Sitting at home on my own was complete bliss.

When I fell pregnant with Lily, it got even worse. I thought that coming to live with my Mum and Dad would help to ease my anxiety, and in many ways it did, but not as much as I had hoped.

Most days over the passed nine months, I'd find myself still cooped up in my room with my yoga pants on at 4pm, thumbing through Pinterest on my phone, or doing my groceries online, or just staring at the pile of washing that I should really do - but don't for fear; just fear.

At times I would try to ease my mind with projects. I designed and started to make a nappy bag for the pending addition to our family, but the further through pregnancy I got, the less interested I became; if, by horrible chance of fate, I would find myself with no use for a nappy bag, it would be okay, it wasn't finished anyway.

Lily blissfully arrived on the 2nd of April this year, yelling as loud as she could, letting her Mama know she was here, and my world changed forever. My heart was healed (but still wears a scar). My child was in my arms, and she was alive.

And with Lily came a whole new level of anxiety. I didn't recognise it as anxiety at first, but discovered with my Health Visitor that it was; I have a problem, and it can't continue like this.

I feel as though people need to understand how much Lily means to me.

When you lose a child, your whole world falls to pieces. Things are forever changed. You don't see the world, or anybody in it the same way anymore. You walk around with a constant ache, whether it be in your heart for the loss, in your arms for the absence of holding them, in your head for all the worry, or in your feet for carrying such a heavy, yet empty, body around. Moving is effort, for after every movement, the sting of loss follows, carrying with it the thought "I should be making this movement with my child."

When you lose a child, hope seems forever lost. Love appears empty, and almost artificial, yet you hang on to every ounce of love you can find and feel in the hope of feeling just whole again.

When you lose a child, all you want is a child.

So when the time comes and it is right for you to try and welcome another child into the world (and the only right time is when you decide it is the right time), you invest all your love and emotion and time, and take all the hurt and sorrow and anguish with you on your journey, and you give all - physically, mentally and emotionally - into creating and preparing for another child, all whilst trying to still figure it all out, and grieve your previous loss, and curb your anxiety away, and try and just chill out...

But when that moment comes, when you are able to hold your own creation in your arms, and your chest fills with joy, your heart with love, your mind with excitement and your whole body with adrenalin, your first thought is: "I will never let you go." And it's completely serious. It isn't just an I'll-keep-you-in-my-heart-I'll-always-be-your-Mummy kind of "never let you go", but an I-will-literally-not-put-you-down-if-I-can-help-it-and-watch-you-like-a-hawk-every-waking-and-sleeping-minute kind.

It's a pretty intense feeling.

To be continued...