Back in June I felt elated as I handed in my final portfolio. All of the tears, late night study sessions, questioning about what I was doing and general stress had come to an end and I jumped for joy as I looked and realised – I had done it! For the first time in years I had actually stuck to something. I had found my passion (and possible career path) and I had seen it to the end. I had accomplished a course and It felt absolutely mint!

Since September 2017 I have been going to college every Wednesday night to study a Level 3 Diploma in Counselling Skills. Back in the Summer I came to the realisation that counselling (or Therapy of some description) would make a great career for me and would be great around the family too in these coming years. After a lot of thinking and praying about it, it just seemed such a clear and fulfilling path to take. It felt like it would fit me so well and it made me really excited.

The more I contemplated it as an option, I thought about how it would use both my natural talents and life experiences and bring them together to be something that would be beneficial to others. I thought about how it would be a job that really mattered and I would be doing something that was as varied as I am day to day. As I looked at everything I had ever done in my life; from after school jobs, to full time jobs, and from volunteer work and subject interests, it all suddenly became less random and seemingly indecisive, and came together under this umbrella of giving me various experiences, talents and interests that all had a common thread of preparing me to be able to be a therapist at this stage in my life.

I felt more confident and clear about my life and my life choices/experiences than I have ever previously done. And so I went for it – the first step – A level 3 Diploma in counselling skills … part-time!

I kept it a secret for a while. I suppose I didn’t want to have to tell a lot of people about it and then feel like a failure if down the road it didn’t go to plan. I wanted to avoid the awkwardness of if I did quit like I have done so often before, that people wouldn’t know and judge. I know now thats really silly but at the time, and the me back in September, that’s what felt right.

The difference this time though was that I was really invested. I knew deep down that however hard it was, this was what I needed to do and what I wanted to be.

It was something I enjoyed learning about and practicing and it was helping me grow in incredible ways too. I knew that, because of the things we were studying, that to push and fight through the hard things would eventually make me a better person and better capable in my life as well as being capable of helping and guiding others on their journeys.

I loved the theory – I found it super interesting. And I enjoyed putting my skills into practice and working with people. It felt good to know my limits and interests and comfortable with both.

I learnt from this course so much about me – my excuses, my fears, my weaknesses and judgements of others, and how to combat them and overcome them. I also grew in confidence as I discovered my strengths and who I really am and wanted to be in life. I learnt the tools to own my choices and how to handle worrying situations. And it was those latter lessons (amongst others) that made me more determined than ever to accomplish this course and progress to be more.

It became less about just doing this course and more about the future – A degree or diploma in a related field and eventual goal of being a therapist by the time all of my kids would be in full time school.

I experienced a lot of struggles but a lot of growth too and with that it has been great to see what I can become and offer to the world. It has felt good to discover parts of me that have been suppressed by difficulty or how I have taken others behaviours towards me and it has been so great to be more open minded and more self confident. I have loved feeling secure in myself and my life/day to day choices. I have enjoyed the freedom of being okay with where I am at and knowing how I can become whoever I want to be. I have felt fulfilled to be able to accept and be okay with my weaknesses and I feel empowered by knowing my strengths and talents.

I guess you could say this course has helped me feel accomplished because I have not only completed something around a  young family, but I found me in the process. And there I found how to be okay with all of my scars, weaknesses, flaws, choices, gifts and abilities – and that was a wonderful feeling.

Collecting my Certificate

Last Thursday I went  to collect my certificate – I had accomplished the first step. I had completed it and now to pass it felt even better than completing it in the first place.

I had accomplished my goal and it was so great.

It really wasn’t easy to study around kids (not easy at all) and it wasn’t easy to study for a topic that at times was hugely sensitive and heavy. A subject that resurfaced a lot of pain and highlighted a lot of painful things and insecurities about me, but I did it. I persevered, I worked through those hard times with my new friends and persoanlly and I smashed down the mental walls I had built up. I dealt with things I needed to that were holding me back…and then with lots of study and essays – I did it – I passed!!

I am so proud of my little certificate. I am so proud of my progress.

I haven’t just accomplished a course people, I have overcome great barriers and personal insecurities. I have found a purpose and passion beyond that of motherhood and something that feels so right for me to be doing in life. I love the vast options that being a therapist offers, and in the process of all of this discovery, I have made brilliant friends from all walks of life.

This certificate is a symbol of the power I have to do hard things and to be ever growing and being better on a personal level. It shows me, however hard it is some weeks with a young family to study, I can still reach my personal goals and I become someone to make a difference in the world. I can reach my educational and life goals.

This certificate represents hours of work, lots of tears, and it stands as a reminder that I have power!

I look forward to my next course, whatever that will be! I know it will be harder and it will require more commitment and dedication … more work and balancing of family life. But I am looking forward to more personal growth and more knowledge.

Thank you so much to my friends and family that helped me power through and accomplish a course that was both challenging but hugely satisfying!

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I am an emotional eater! There I said it!

When I am stressed, down, grieving or just hormonal I gauge on chocolate, cookies, pizza and ice cream, and boy is it good. But since the hell that is September (Poppy’s Anniversaries), I am trying to establish when emotional eating ceased and just general gauging began? All I know is that in recent weeks my clothes have felt more than a little snug!

You see since September I have been slowly gaining weight and when I dared get on the scales at the beginning of this year I realised I had gained just over 10lb! Thankfully since clean eating last Monday I have already lost 4lb of that and hope by the end of Feb to be in better shape than I have been in a long time.

I wish i could say I didn’t care about being 10lb heavier and that I have body confidence whatever but that is totally not true. That extra 10lb puts me over 11 stone and it makes me feel unhappy! My mum tum was so podgy and bloated that I felt I was probably deceiving people to think I could be with child again, and whilst I have had 4 kids and some stretch marks and loose skin is natural, a spare tire, over hang of belly fat, back fat and rolls under my bra strap certainly are not!

I don’t say these things lightly, but I say them to make the point that I am not happy with these areas of my body and whilst I see many people posting about body confidence and embracing what they have, I actually want to make a change, because the reason I am like this is no other than eating crap day in day out and that is not something I want to embrace!

I want to feel happier when the sunshine comes and free to wear less layers comfortably and confidently. I have always been content around the 10.5 stone mark (if not slightly under), and I have always been content as an average/medium UK12. I carry it all well with my height and look healthy but slim. This size gives me confidence and at this size my clothes fit well with no unwanted bulges. At this size I can say yes I have had 4 kids and look… I’m still the same size as when I got married and the same size as I was in my early 20’s.

But its not just about size for me. Yes this is one reason I want to lose at least 10lbs, but it’s also a lot about Self control! I realise I eat too much refined sugar and general rubbishy foods and whilst I want to not cut out treats all together, I do want to have greater balance and self control at what I am putting in my body. And so self control and curbing cravings is just as much of a motivation to eat better as well as shedding lbs to look better and feel better about myself.

Clean eating 

Clean eating refers to eating foods in their most natural state and cutting out carbs where possible, as well as refined sugar, processed foods and alcohol (never an issue). It Is a lifestyle choice that really works for me once I am into it and able to rid myself of sugar cravings! I saw the benefits a few years ago when I lost all of my baby weight (and more) after Megan, just by eating more naturally!

Calorie counting on the other hand stresses me out and makes me feel anxious. I hate over thinking food and counting every morsel, I much prefer to know whats good for me, what will help my body get rid itself of stored fats, and then eat it in abundance! I did try calorie counting right at the start of the year but ended up deleting the app as it took up far too much of my thoughts and made me carry guilt for the sake of 50 blumming extra calories!

I am confident with clean eating – it isn’t a diet, its about changing your thoughts and eating habits to make good choices for plant based foods, and when I do it gives me a boost and makes me feel that I have more self control and am putting good things in to my body. I will of course still have the odd pizza now and then, or a chocolate bar because I enjoy these things. Ill even enjoy a KFC or McDonald’s every now and then too when on the road. But the truth is the more used to eating clean you become, the less you want these things anyway. And its all about remembering that to have these often, and alongside other Carb heavy (Pasta mainly) easy foods on an evening leads to being sluggish and therefore more chubby than I’d ever like to be!

So here’s what I’ve been enjoying this last week and a half that has helped me to shed 4lb already and Nathan 3.5!

Breakfast

I’ve always been poor with eating breakfast and go through peaks and troughs with it. I understand though that for energy and a good day I really do need to eat well right away. I also know the benefits, and so I always start the day now with a big glass of water and then eat one of the following, which are all things I love…

Poached eggs with spinach
Porridge
Berries with Honey Greek yogurt
Banana and almond milk smoothie

Lunch 

Before I decided to commit to eating cleaner, my lunches were anything from some sneaky chips (not often) to the more usual sandwich and some crisps. Occasionally I’d have a healthy wrap, or just skip lunch altogether if I was mega busy! Most recently it was Quesadillas or tinned tomato soup – Heavy on the cheese and 2 wraps whilst delish isn’t the best!

But now I have cleaned up my act and lunch has been..

Homemade Soups (Butternut Squash, Lentil & Tomato or Parsnip)
Poached eggs and asparagus
Falafel wrap
Tuna salad
Hummus and Pitta with chopped raw veg

Dinner

I’m very good with dinners and mostly always have been. I really enjoy cooking and making a hearty family meal.

It’s usually healthy and made with fresh ingredients but as I have already mentioned – pasta is a staple, and that’s been the biggest challenge! Most of the dinners I have made over the last week or so have been our family faves with a twist to make them cleaner. Its essential that you have very minimal carbs on an evening as your body doesn’t have the time like it does in the day time to burn them up!

Butternut Squash Lasgna
Red Pesto Quorn Pieces with veg cous-cous
Chicken Tikka and Mint yogurt
Bean and lentil Chilli
Coriander/Lemon Fajita Salad (The kids had it in wraps as normal)
Roast Dinner with out the mash
Gluten free Chicken pesto Pasta
Quorn Bolognese with small Jacket and salad
Quorn Bolognese with Courgetti

And Snacks 

Wholeearth Peanut butter with apple slices
Smoothies
Nak’d Bars
Banana

I wish I could say I’m happy whatever my size but that’s certainly not true. I don’t like that I have rolls and generally knowing I am not in my best shape. I don’t like being able to wear what I want to because it makes me self conscious or feels tight! And so I am really excited about being more trim and not needing to hide under layers, but being happy with how I look in fitted clothes and especially T-shirts!

I plan to clean eat strictly as a kick in the forth coming weeks to reach my goal and then just be sensible in my choices and eat well all week with the odd treat now and then. I will likely introduce a bit more pasta or wraps but the key is that I don’t want to be gauging any more, and that I will have way more “on” days than “off”!

I basically don’t ever want to look in the mirror and feel naff with what I see and know that it is a result of my own doing! I want to feel energised and well and I am doing this for self control and to be my best self. I don’t mind my C-section scar or faded stretch marks anymore from my 4 kiddies, but I do mind my self inflicted rolls and sluggishness, and therefore whilst I can do something and take control, I will!

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Hello and Happy New Year to you all! I hope it was a good one. I am still somewhat in Christmas mode – craving lazy days and lots of chocolate, but am trying hard to get the kids out and enjoy the school break, as well as get cracking on losing that mum tum! I have, all of a sudden been frantically planning my life and wondering what this year will bring (and what I will go and get!). I have generally just being trying to get into January mode and back to normal life, whilst embracing a new year with new opportunities.

With that you may notice a few changes over here, specifically with a new header and a few other little things. There is something about this new year that has made me want to once again faff with my blog layout/design, as well as think about content and perhaps what I may want to start writing about and then change!

I have now, lots of personal goals, as well as goals for my blog, but the focus at the turn of a new year seems to have been about the family and what we hope to see, achieve and do together in 2018.

Our Hopes and goals for 2018

I have been somewhat in denial with this new year approaching, and subsequently the sudden need to make goals and plan our life. But after several days of pondering and chats in the car together, we have set some goals of things we hope to do this coming year.

Improve our home / Family life

First of all we spoke a lot of the need to improve our home both physically (hello DIY) and also with how we speak to one another.  The kids name call, we fall out sometimes, raise our voices, and get cross. Yes we are a normal family, but I always feel bad when I shout/lose my temper, and I cringe when I hear my kids being rude to one another or Nathan and I!

We want to shout less, be firmer in our discipline and help them be less lazy and rude to others! We want to do better at daily scripture reading with our kids, and help Ethan understand more about church…He turns 8 in October and will then be old enough to be baptised which we are all excited for, so we want to help him prepare for that and know what he is choosing.

Discover New things and places each month

Looking at the adventures and exploring side to life, we were rich in ideas of what we wanted to do and places we wanted to see. I guess this is where our 2018 bucket list comes in. We obviously plan stuff to do each season/holiday to make the most of that moment in time, but we often take that from a general yearly bucket list too that we have created at the beginning of the year. So for 2018 we want to:

Go to America…see our friends & family / Have an epic road trip
UK Water park
Climb a mountain
Go Glamping
Chatsworth House
Go to a Castle
Beamish Museum & Durham
The York Dungeons
London Eye / Christmas Lights
See a musical
Steam train to the coast
Norwich to see family / The Norfolk Broads
Scotland with cousins
Flamingo Land
Eden Camp
Air Museum

Take more time for the kids

I find I spend a lot of my time, when at home, cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking meals. I rarely take time to just ignore it all and play with my kids or do things together. Whilst I am good at being in the moment and taking them out, when in the home I see so many things to do that I often get on task with those and leave them to it. Talking with them in the process.

I played with them more over Christmas, building new toys and such, and had a stark reminder of what I was missing out on and what they needed more of from mummy. So yes – I really need to take more time for them and either work smarter in the home when they’re at school, or just let it go for an hour or 2!

We also want to take them each on little regular one to one dates, alternating between mum and dad. Just so we can strengthen our bonds, get to know them and their troubles and hopefully give them more. We hope it will increase respect and relationships, but more so give them confidence that we are in their corner and they can tell us anything – because we have the time to listen.

New years a such a great opportunity to reevaluate life, relationships and work, and I look forward to hopefully improving and building each of these, as well as creating some wonderful memories through some epic adventures with my loves! Let me know ideas you have to make this year great – you may have something I would love to adopt too.

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I don’t know about you, but I really love this time of year of newness, ambition and a clean slate.

I love the time we have to reflect on what has been, what we have learnt. lost and achieved, and what lies ahead and what can be created. I like that we can be whoever we want to be through goals and work and that life never has to be the same, and this is really a focus for a lot of people at the beginning of a new year!
422fbe5dbfc62202c8873392664479212015 was possibly one of the lowest years of my life, and with that a very difficult season for me. It held for me months of just surviving the 1sts and ploughing on in life following the stillbirth of our daughter at the end of 2014. I had a lot of run in’s with people as I tried to make sense of everything and deal with various stages and emotions that came with grief, but I also saw the immense kindness and love of people (family, friends and strangers) as they helped our family and tried day in day out to support me in my pain!

I found being out with my children made life great, the clarity the outdoors brings helped me breathe again and see the beauties that were still there in life and the world. I felt joy and appreciation as we had adventures, fun and travels and these helped me take steps forward in my healing.
instagramcapture_4c960f9d-9b1e-4f38-a358-ab0c515fe9c1I am grateful for a new year, that whilst I still carry pain from loosing Poppy, this year I do not have to face the 1sts, because I have conquered those. I have started traditions and little things that help me remember her, keep her close and alive within our family. I look forward to this year to new memories, new adventures and new experiences.

Whilst I do not make news resolutions, I do make goals, but these are not bound to the new years.. I find evaluating my life every so often and making a plan for the foreseeable future with measurable goals helps me to feel confident and have direction. Last year I missed that in my life and felt I was very much drifting, but despite wanting to have goals my energy and mentality couldn’t take on anything other than survival!
wp_20150630_15_10_38_proI hope this year, as I say, is different though. We have some obvious goals to reach which are exciting and life changing, those being Nathan finishing university and the prospect of a new Job and home! Then We have Megan Starting school in September and a family holiday in the summer with Nathans side, which are all exciting things to work for. In addition to these family goals and milestones, I also have some personal goals to bid farewell to the old and bring in the new and a hopeful 2016 they’re not my usual lofty ones of learn a new language, instrument and who knows what else, but they are things that will stretch me and help me in my new normal and loves:

– Continue to grow my blog, work with brands and raise awareness of loss and Trisomy 18, both via my blog and other ways
– Become a SANDS befriender and help on their committee
– Improve my photography and invest in a camera – It brings me more joy than I ever realised
– Start my own book! Its about loss that’s all I am saying, but not what your might expect!
– Read more and watch less – I bought some books recently and really want to get into them!
– Use my phone less when with my kids – make the moments count
– Visit a new country (one I have every year)
– Look at having a number 4 baby (Did I just write that?) and hope its not 4,5 & 6!!!

And that’s about it, take each day as it comes but always try and make it better, find joy in life and be grateful, and finally look after myself… if I need a rest, a break, a cry, a chocolate bar… im doing it guilt free!! I still battle grief and so time outs are needed. I also have small character things and habits I am always working on, and don’t think these need to be titled “Goals” as its a working progress. The things above however are things that next year can be ticked off as “Yes I did that” just as for 2015 I can put a big fat “YES” next to “survive baby loss and its 1st year”!!
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What about you? What do you hope this year will bring your way?

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