Creature Of The Night

Creature of the night:

I am a creature of the night

My soul shrinks away as rises daylight

And although I wish it were not so

It is by the light of the moon that my spirit doth grow

By the silence of darkness do I hear the sound

Of my deepest knowledge as it brings me to ground

I gaze at the stars and feel synopses open

And I feel my whole being, becoming awoken

Why make me this way, oh creator of mine

I’m always so tired, I feel I can’t shine

And as I ask the question, the answer is clear

Because at the midnight hour, you know I can hear

You say to me; child, you live in dark days

Many are sad and black in their ways

And as yin needs yang so
dankness needs light

That’s why you’re a creature of the night

Learn now, please. No longer ask why

Just keep gazing at the stars and the moon in the sky

I see you struggle through the day and I know you are weary

But when you need more strength, please just ask, I’ll hear thee

You are part of a larger plan

You have a rule to play in the evolution of man.

If you’re soul shines at night then let it be so

Stop fighting yourself and then you will know

What will I know I want to reply before I realise the answer is written in the sky

And so I fall in love with all my might

With the fact I was created as a creature of the night.


The Controlling Partner

‘What have you been doing all day? ‘.

‘Well. I tidied things up a lot,  went shopping,  caught up with Kathy for a quick coffee, she brought Ben and Reena with her…the kids had fun. Then i took then to the park then came home,  made the tea,  did the dishes and tidied some more.  Why do you ask? ‘

‘ The place still looks like a bomb has dropped.  Do you really think you needed to spend that time with Kathy?  I’m not even sure I’ve got clean clothes for tomorrow… ‘

‘I don’t see friends that often… She was only here for an hour.’

‘Well,  I still think you could’ve prioritised things a bit better.  After all, you do have responsibilities, you can’t just choose to relax when there’s things that need to be done ‘

‘I don’t call managing 4 under 5’s relaxing. ‘

‘ Don’t argue with me.  You’re supposed to keep this place in a decent state and it’s a tip. You have all day, never make a penny and can’t even do that one simple task…. ‘

Anyone recognise this conversation?  Let me re-phrase that.  You’ve probably all had that conversation.

There’s a person in your life with impossibly high expectations.  They nag you incessantly,  make you feel terrible about yourself and generally give nowhere near enough credence to your achievements.

Maybe you’re sitting, thinking now… Who is this terrible person?  However,  they’re not terrible,  simply, humanly, fallible.  In their harsh judgement of you they miss the sheer beauty of the things you achieve,  in the daily smiles of the small people who surround you.  They have yet to learn that balance i.e. seeing the whole package that is you,  is infinitely important to their own outlook on life,  and,  therefore,  to their ability to feel happiness and joy. 

Yet again,  you ask yourself,  who is this person?

It is the one who is closest to you in the world, the one you were born with and,  the only one who will be with you when you die. The opinion of no other matters in comparison to this one.

It is you. 

Read back now and ask yourself if you now recognise this conversation.  Then ask yourself this… How did you feel,  when you read the dialogue above for the first time?  How did you feel about that partner?  How did you feel about how they were treating that other who was doing her level best the only way she knew how? How would you change them and their responses to you for the better?

Self talk is incredibly important.  It makes you who you are.  But they’re only words.  They are not fixed in stone.

Change the way you talk to yourself. Don’t be the abusive, criticising partner to your own soul.  Why would you do that to yourself?  Don’t expect so much of yourself that you set yourself up for failure.  Just know,  you are good enough and that’s good enough.

If I tell you..

If i tell you I love you
I want you to know what that means

I’m writing this for you,  my love
Because what I really want,  is to be seen.

To lay myself before you and leave my intentions open wide

To be nothing but honesty and invite you to see inside.

You think that I don’t know you and in a sense that’s true

But what I think you don’t realise is that, deep inside,  I feel you.

In your presence i feel trusting,  in your arms I feel complete

I can put aside my worries

I find that I can sleep.

And, even more than that, when you deign to speak

Your depths overwhelm me and then my feelings peak.

You say things that I never expect

So all the time,  you seem new

You think I need saving because the cause is lost for you.

And the fact is that you’ve seen me,  you honed in like an arrow

With you I can feel vulnerable and the act does not feel sallow.

There’s things I don’t want to bear alone
And you saw it before I did

And now I can’t go back, that territory is arid.

Because you’re an oasis

My shelter from the storm

In your darkness I only see light

My intentions are reborn.

And that is why I had to write, to tell you, I love you

I love all that you are, think, feel and do

Because, my love you’ll change me

I can feel it in my bones

The way I feel about you scares me

And I hope I’m not alone


At the end of the day…..


No, I’m not hailing you with a super polite greeting to my blog.  I’m simply stating that’s that what it is now.  Evening.  And as such I am having the same dilemma that I am having at this time most day.

The dilemma is motivation.  The three days a week I get to myself are just not enough in terms of writing time for me.  I really only started writing again a year ago and I’m finding it’s a bit like Pringles. You know, once you pop…..

However there’s just no time in the day to think about anything other than being a parent and keeping the tide of mess and dirt at bay.  There’s only evenings.  But in the evenings, as much as I want to write; as much as I want to pick up the tattered shards of my ‘something other thasn a parent’ self and begin reforming them, I have this conflict.  My brain wants to boot up the laptop but my body won’t oblige by removing itself from a prone position on the sofa.  I want to read something interesting, get inspired; but the first thing that comes on TV when I switch it on (usually Baby TV) seems to have hypnotised me.  My writing hand is itching but the message isn’t even making it to my elbow….

So tonight I’m writing just for peace of mind. Below is my guilt busting resource, written by me, for me.  My own personal essential reading for a guilt free evening.  However, I’m hoping it’ll work for some of you too…  For sme of you it may just make you chuckle whilst, for others it may well resonate. I have included it so that youcan see just how overwhelming your day rally is when it’s written down like this.  Make it as detailed as you like.  You only have to do it once; maybe on one of your worse days…just for extra effect 🙂

However if you have done so much that your brain is mush and you couldn’t possibly bear the thought of taking the time to write it all down, the alternative format is quick and simple.  Just open an excel spreadsheet, use a calculator to work out how many waking minutes there have been in your day (e.g. 6.20 am to 8.15 pm = 835 minutes), from the time you woke up to the time you want to stop and chill  and then use copy and paste to make a list that spans that number in which the entry on each line simply says ‘lived up to my numerous responsibilities the best I could within the limits of the fact that I am human’.  Then scroll up and down the mammoth list a few times, give yourself a pat on the back and grant yourself a well deserved break.


4am: Toddler wakes up screaming for milk. He doesn’t drink it preferring instead to go straight back to sleep the minute I get to the kitchen. Oh well, at least he’s sleeping……

6.20am: My 6 year old daughter comes into my room asking if she can get into bed with me.  I say ‘yes but I’m still sleeping.’  She says ‘OK’ then gets into bed.

7am: I’ve answered 16 questions and refused daughter access to my mobile phone 12 times.

7.05am:  Ask daughter to get dressed

7.06. Dress in the first clothes to hand.  Rue the fact of not having washed own hair last night.

7.10 am: Make daughter breakfast

7.13 am. Put daughters clothes in clearer view, becasue she’s still not dressed then brush my teeth

7.15am: Ask daughter to get dressed again. Tell her her cornflakes are getting soggy

7.19am: Turn on son’s light and shout ‘Wakey wakey sleepy head’.  He doesn’t stir despite waking up to a creaking floor board at 11.30 last night

7.20am: Ask daughter to get dressed again whilst repressing building frustration.  Tell her if she’s not dressed in five minutes then she’s not taking a book in the car to school

7.21am.  Take a deep breath and go downstairs and setup high chair and put porridge in the microwave for son.  Notice cornflakes have absorbed all the milk

7.25. Find daughter sitting, half dressed in pyjamas reading a book with her knickers in her hand. Shout profusely whilst removing the offending book.  Supervise dressing.

7.30am: Give son a shake and remove his blanket. Wait ten  minutes for the tantrum to subside. In the meantime remove book that daughter has her hand as she is dithering on the stairs. Tell her her breakfast is on the bench. Head back upstairs to sort son out before hearing ‘mum can I have a drink’ from the kitchen.

7.31: Juice a fresh lemon , squirting myself in the eye, mix with water.  Find the spoon with the pink handle.  Watch fearfully as daughter insists on carrying both bowl and drink to her table on her own.

7.32am:  Breath again as daughter reaches table safely then smile when son begins singing himself a nursery rhyme upstairs.  It’s safe to go back up.

7.33-7.43am: wrestle son into a fresh nappy and clothes whilst he attempts to reach various toys out of arms reach. Someone once said they felt this job was like trying to keep an octopus in a net bag without any tentacles escaping.  I think that would be easier….

7.45 come downstairs to find daughters breakfast untouched and yet another book in her hand.  Remove book immediately and brusquely. Ignore whingeing about book.

7.46am: Spend 15 minutes coercing son into eating porridge and not using it as finger paint/hair gel. Fail miserably.

8.05 am: Notice time and panic.  Ask daughter to stop reading and go and brush her teeth. Ignore whingeing .  Clean porridge from sons hair/face/hands/clothes/highchair.  Consider changing him. Decide the white marks aren’t really that noticeable…….

8.10 am: Shout upstairs to ask why the noise of daughters tooth brush can’t yet be heard.  Hear the clatter of a book over the words ‘I’m just putting the toothpaste on’.

8.11 am:  Scrape full bowl of porridge onto the bin. Check school bag and remember that daughters reading book hasn’t been touched in three days (paradoxical, isn’t it?…..)

8.15 am.  Shout at daughter to come back downstairs. Her hair still looks like she’s a Russell Brand wannabe.

8.17 am: Brush daughters hair too quickly, causing knots to pull.  Become evil mummy.  Bite back the sentence beginning with ‘Well if you hadn’t….’ in the face of the subsequent whingeing. Also ignore fact that son has completely disembowelled a toy drawer all over the dining room floor.

8.30 am:.  Attempt to get shoes and coats on all three of us whilst son tries to run off and daughter focusses half her effort on  assisting you and half on the book in her hand. Get frustrated. Shout profusely. Ban book from the car. Evil mummy take 2.

8.35 am:  Manouvre around children fighting to unlock the door.  Exit house . Tell daughter to get in car. Load wriggling son into car seat. Battle against ironing board pose to strap him in. Look up to find daughter has gone back in the house (probably for the toilet).  Wish you had a flask with coffee and whisky in it. Attempt to ease the steam leaking from your ears.

8.37am. Drive to school through streets that are too narrow for two way traffic. Find ‘secret’ parking spot has been usurped. Mumble curses under breath whilst fielding daughters questions about why someone has parked in ‘our’ space.

8.45 am.  Unload children from car and attempt a quick walk to the school gates with on on hip.  Fail miserably as he wriggles to be down with the strength of five men, slapping me in the face in his frustration.  Put son down. Walk to school gates stopping to study leaves and jump in puddles on the way

8.48 am:  Daughter whinges when you won’t walk her the extra 10 feet to the classroom door because son has wandered off in the opposite direction to investigate a fence.  Tell her not to be so silly, kiss her on head, scoop up son and leave.

8.49 am: Look back as you’re leaving the school gates to see daughter staring after you looking sad. Feel guilty.

8.50 am: Now that you have two hands and some attention free hold son firmly and sing to him to distract him whilst replacing him in car seat.  Drive to rhyme time.

9.30 am: Spend an hour singing nursery rhymes you don’t know the words to and trying to make conversation with 7 other mums whilst 10  under 5’s run riot with instruments. ‘Mind Tobys fingers’, ‘say please’,’no, you can’t have a second biscuit’, ‘give the other shaker to Darcy’, ‘sit still’……….. To be fair, we do have fun a rhyme time. My little man does like a good sing song….and he is cute doing the actions :).

10.30 am.  Head home using promise of snacks to get son back into car.

10.45am. Spend hour and a half tidying rooms, doing dishes, hanging out washing whilst son intermittently plays nicely/whinges for attention.

12.00  Realise you forgot to give son his snack and he didn’t eat his breakfast so he wasn’t whinging for attention, he was whinging  because he’s hungry.  He’s now screaming blue murder. Attempt to make a healthy lunch while he hangs from your trouser legs.

12.15 – 1.00 pm:  Enjoy a hot cup of tea and just watch whilst son eats half his lunch and makes a magic salad/spaghetti potion with the other half. Feel resigned as you watch him use the potion to decorate the floor. Offer him a yoghurt. Just for fun.

1 – 1.45 pm: Play ‘I’m going to put this tambourine up mummy’s top and pull it out through her polo neck until she finds something else fun for me to do’ with son. Desperately try to save polo neck top by engaging in lots of high energy silliness and running around. Succeed

2.30 pm:  Feel ready to collapse with exhaustion.  Son agrees and settls down for a two hour nap….only the school run happens an hour earlier than 4.30

3 pm:  Fight overwhelmig urge to shut eyes and give into oblivion.  Equally, fight rising anxiety at the thought of the tantrum that is about to ensue when you wake up the slumbering toddler.

3:02:  Can’t possible leave it any longer. Take a deep breath…..

3.30pm:  Arrive at school gates witb the grimly determined and slightly unhinged look of a pro wrestler.  Son taking shuddering breaths having finally managed to calm himself down from his tantrum.  Wonder how to plaster on a ‘I’m so glad it’s time for my other child to come home’ look on your face as you think everyone expects.  Fail.

3.40pm – 4.15pm: Battle with guilt as you attempt to overcome your exhaustion enough to show genuine interest in what your daughter is telling you.  Keep catching yourself not listening and wonder what’s wrong with you.  Wonder anxiously if you are uwittingly leaving child 1 out becasue child 2 is so demanding.

4.30 pm.  Attempt to make dinner whilst fielding incessant questions about ‘why we have to have thsat and what is for dessert’ from child 1 whilst ignoring the screams of child 2 who is, once again, starving (and, obviously, uable to wait the 20minutes it takes for food to be on the table).

5pm: Watch as childern reject said food outright whilst trying to come up with games that make the broccoli seem fun.  Spoon feed toddler even though you know he’s perfectly capable (just unwilling) to do it for himself.  Give up amd rely on dessert to fill them up.

5pm-6.30 pm:  Attempt not to fall asleep whilst children are watching TV.  This is fairly easy because you feel guilty about the fact the TV is on at all.  Eye the book shelf moodily.  Make coffee.

7pm;  Bedtime battle commences. Finally lose the plot.  Scream, shout, reduce all three household members to tears.

7,30pm:  Make it up to them with an extra bedtime story, using all your will not to lose it again as they fight over turning the page.

8pm: Watch them sleeping and smile softly. Tell yourself it’s because they look sweet when they’re asleep.



A Rock In A Hard Place

Once upon a time there was a little rock called Aggie Agate. All the elders who lived in the River Life said that Aggie was a chip off the old block.  It was supposed to be a good thing, but Aggie wasn’t so sure.   She was bored. She was bored of everyone looking the same and all she wanted to do was explore the other things that existed in the River Life.
The flow of the River Life was fast.  Not only did this mean that that new, different things were always passing through, attracting Aggie’s attention, but it also meant that the agates who lived in the river were always being  eroded as they bounced against each other and rubbed together.
The very oldest agates were the smallest ones.  They had been rubbed away to almost nothing by the ceaseless flow of the water.  Some of them became smooth and coloured in beautiful translucent finery.  Others were chipped open to their sparkling inner crystals by the things the River Life’s water hurled at them.  These elders were pitied because they were seen to be defenceless without their outer shells.
Although the younger agates were desperate to play and explore the numerous interesting things that washed past them in the river life they were always warned not to. ‘It’s very important to find a little groove in the river bed and settle down there to stay’ warned the elders. ‘The deeper your groove, the less likely it is you will be washed away by the current or split open to your crystals.’
‘What’s wrong with splitting open to your crystals?’ Aggie used to wonder.  It seemed to her that, the few times she’d seen this happen to an agate, they’d become more beautiful than anything else in the river and she’d always admired them deeply.  ‘That may be Aggie, but once a crystal is split open they don’t get to stay in the River Life for very long. You know that.’  It was true.  Any crystal that showed,  even the smallest glimpse of their true beauty often got taken away from the river by the men and never seen again.
‘What do the men do with the crystals they take?’ Aggie had once asked the elders.  ‘Nobody knows Aggie so it’s much better just to stay still.  Stay in your place. Stay safe’.  The elders insistent warnings frightened Aggie but, despite her fear, she could not help her curiosity at the interesting and wondrous things that forever drifted over her head in the flow of the river.  No matter how hard she tried not to think about it, Aggie could not help but wonder what her own crystals looked like. Was she as beautiful as she had seen other agates become when they were split open.  Looking at her drab, dull, grey/white shell she couldn’t imagine how she could be.
One day, men came. Aggie, captivated by a shimmering shoal of tiny silver fish, had just risked a little hop from her resting place on the river bed to take a closer look.  She hopped too high and the current caught her and sent her tumbling away from her family only to be caught by the hand of a man.  He withdrew her from her watery home, Aggie was terrified but even through her terror she could not help but notice how different things looked without the flow of the water warping them.
‘Hey Guy! Look at this one!’ the man shouted, holding Aggie up in the air.  ‘This is exactly what I was looking for. I reckon she’s gonna be a beauty on the inside’.  A second man came over and looked at Aggie ‘How do you know?’ he asked.  ‘She’s got really nice energy’ the man holding Aggie said thoughtfully.  ‘Pffft, you and your energies, Will’ said the second man. ‘Put her to one side and let’s get our days quota fulfilled shall we?’
‘It’s my mums birthday in a few days ‘replied the man called Will, as if he hadn’t heard his friend.   It’s her 60th.  I really want to give her something perfect and I think this little rock might be it’.  ‘Seriously Will, you won’t be able to eat in a few days if you don’t fill your quota today. Let’s just crack on shall we?’ The man called Guy sounded worried.  Will didn’t.  ‘Nah.  I really want to get this ready by her birthday so I think I’m gonna head back now and polish this one up.  I’ll work double time later to make up for it.’ 
‘Well I suppose I could have a quick tea break just to see what she’s actually got inside’ said Guy, dubiously.  But Will was already walking off.   Aggie lay hopelessly inside the dark, warm cloth of his pocket, whispering a silent goodbye to the inhabitants of the River Life whom she would now never see again. The thought filled Aggie with an unbearable sadness as the river water ran off her in rivulets, soaking Will’s pocket.  ‘What have I done?’ was all Aggie could think now.
As if Will could somehow hear her,  he suddenly removed her from his pocket. ‘You’ he said to Aggie ‘Are going to be something completely different by the time I’m finished with you’.  They were in a big light room full of tools now and Will placed Aggie gently on a warm wood table as he spoke. Aggie had never felt dry wood before.  She never really felt anything she couldn’t burrow into.  The feeling was unnerving. She felt too exposed.  ‘You’re the perfect size for a lovely heart I reckon’.
The words caught Aggies attention.  She didn’t what a heart was.  Will’s voice was soft and quiet.  Aggie forgot she was feeling afraid and listened.  ‘You know what?’ said Will to Guy ‘These rocks remind me of people’.  ‘Have you been smoking something dodgy?’ said Guy, sounding grumpy.  Will just laughed.  ‘What I mean is’ he said ‘that left to their own devices, these rocks never seem to get the chance to realise just how beautiful they can be’.  Now Aggie was listening intently.  She had to listen all the harder because an irritatingly loud squealing noise had started up in the background and it making it difficult to hear.  She tried her best to ignore it, not realising she was beginning to vibrate in time with it’s noise.
‘I think the shells of these rocks are like peoples habits and learned behaviours’ carried on Will. ‘They are born, a chip off the old block,  with the same hard shell their parents have.  Unless a freak accident or coincidence happens they never realise that, inside, they are an entirely different thing.  They just stay dull forever until we come along and break them open’.  ‘Do you break many people open then?’ teased Guy.  ‘Shut up and put the kettle on and let the Will power do it’s job will you?!’ Will said grinning as he turned back to Aggie.
The vibrating that had stopped, restarted now but as it did Will also continued speaking.  ‘Seriously though’ he said without looking round at Guy ‘if you think about it, you could say that what this lathe is doing to this stone, is the same that people have to do using will power.’  Guy sighed ‘go on then.  Tell me why’.  ‘The lathe has to cut through all of the useless hard exterior to free to real stuff inside just like people have to work gradually to form new habits.  Their efforts chip away so slowly at their outer shell of bad habits that it seems impossible that they’ll ever be able to get all the way through to the middle.  And there’s not much incentive to keep going because they don’t even realise there’s better stuff inside them that’s worth getting to’. ‘I suppose I can see what you mean’ said Guy.  ‘Want sugar?’.  ‘Yes please.  It’s going to take me a while to get through this one I reckon.  She’s a tough cookie!!’
Will stopped talking and concentrated intently on Aggie. She could feel the noise vibrating her more strongly now and she was starting to feel a strange sensation inside. It wasn’t painful but, because she didn’t know what was happening, it felt scary.  Aggie focussed on Will’s face and tried hard to be brave.  Suddenly she became aware of a new feeling in her body and could feel something inside of her that had never been there before.  It was a weird feeling, just like you would expect something to feel inside your body that hadn’t been there before.
Aggie’s bravery failed her then.  She wanted Will to stop and, as he stopped to take a sip of his tea she shouted to him at the top of her voice.  Even though humans can’t hear agate she shouted and shouted and shouted, praying that he would hear her. To her horror, Will didn’t hear and the vibrating started and but then, suddenly, it stopped.  ‘Damn’ said Will ‘you really are a tough cookie’.  ‘You could get locked up for talking to rocks you know’. ‘She’s broken the lathe’ said Will glumly.  ‘Bugger’ said Guy. ‘You gonna wait or use the chisel?’.  ‘I’m not sure she’s  gonna be strong enough inside to take the chisel’ said Will. ‘I’m surprised her energy can’t tell you’ teased Guy.  ‘That is what her energy is telling me clever clogs’ said Will as he gently eased the foreign object out of Aggies side.  Guy huffed ‘You gonna come back out with me then?’.  ‘ I suppose so’.
Will sounded so disappointed that Aggies suddenly felt sad  but, just then, the lathe came free of Aggie. Suddenly air and light pierced through the slim gap in Aggies side. Although it wasn’t much, because the gap was so thin, the feeling was sublime.  It felt ten times fresher than the water of the River Life.  It felt 100 times more exciting than jumping into the current of the River Life and letting it sweep her short distances.  She could barely feel anything on the outside, so great was the feeling inside.  She didn’t even feel Will’s hands pick her up, though the feeling of rising did serve to increase the tingling excitement of the new feeling inside. At that moment she knew that it didn’t matter what he had to do, she wanted him to finish the job he had started.
‘I guess you just don’t want to be set free today’ Will whispered.  Aggie shouted again, even louder than before.  This time she shouted in praise, not in fear.  She told him how good she was feeling and begged him not to stop now.  She shouted so loudly that some of the bits of her shell that had been loosened by the lathe suddenly fell away.  Will’s mouth dropped open.  Aggie waited, hardly daring to breathe so intent was she on waiting for what would happen next.
‘Guy…’ .  Will began.  ’What?  Are you ready to go now?’.  ‘No. Look’.  Guy appeared over Will’s shoulder and his jaw dropped slightly too.  ‘So….. how did you say you feel these energies then?’ Guy said after a moment’s silence.  Aggie saw Will smile.  ‘I knew she was going to be a corker’.  ‘Doubted yourself for a moment thought didn’t you?’ said Guy.  Will raised an eyebrow ‘I reckon the rock doubted me’.  Guy shook his head.  ‘I’m going out again. I guess you’re getting the chisel out?’.  ‘Indeed I am. She is a lot stronger than she looked’ said Will. ‘It must have been the crystals that broke the lathe’.   ‘I reckon so’ Guy replied, heading for the door  ‘I imagine there’s some philosophical story in there about falling at the last hurdle!  See you in a bit.’  Then Guy was gone leaving Will and Aggie alone, regarding each other.

‘Are you ready?’ Will asked Aggie, after a moment,  laying her down gently and placing something hard against the gap in her side, shutting off the source of the good feeling.   A second later Aggie felt an almighty bang.  She gasped at the force but, now craving the light feeling she’d just had a moment ago, she didn’t feel afraid.  She felt excited.  She trusted Will.  Bang!  Aggie felt more of her outer shell give way and felt Will’s ferocious concentration as he placed the chisel at the perfect point.  Bang!!  Aggie fell apart.
The feeling was stunning and the effect was clearly as pronounced on Will as it was on Aggie.  They both fell into an awed silence.  The feeling was like nothing Aggie could describe. There was a kind of energy flowing out of her from where her crystals now lay, completely exposed. It was as if the whisper of Will’s breath were tickling a thousand nerves within her and the feeling flowed through every tiny inch of her.  Even though she could see the discarded slab of her shell lying several inches away she felt, in that moment, more whole than she ever could have dreamed possible.   She felt indescribably powerful, as if the feeling she had were resonating out of her, filling the room. Indeed, she seemed to have had some magical effect on Will for drops of water now misted his eyes.  ‘I knew I’d find you’ he whispered softly ‘I’ve been searching for you for months. I was giving up hope that I’d find you before mum’s birthday’.
Aggie wished fervently that she could reply and, as she wished,  she felt the energy radiating from her shift, subtly and move in Will’s direction.  A funny look came over his eyes and he suddenly stood up and left Aggie lying on the workbench.  A moment later he returned with a pretty card, sat down and began writing quickly in it.  When he was done he sat back and sighed. A bright beam of sunlight fell through the window, shimmering off Aggies newly exposed crystals and Will picked her up. They sat there for a long time, admiring each other and basking in the warm sunlight.  There was no need to talk, even if they could have done they wouldn’t have needed to. They knew each other now and that was enough.  It was all there, in the feeling radiating out of Aggies sparkly new center.
Will spent many days with Aggie after that.  As Guy nagged and teased and was sometimes outright grumpy about Will not going to work. Will just sat quietly polishing Aggies remaining surfaces.  Aggie had thought the only beautiful bit of an agate was it’s crystals. She didn’t realise her entire surface could be polished to such a beautiful hue.  Will worked tirelessly, the polishing was soothing to Aggie. For each rough edge he removed from her, Aggie felt more contented when he layed her down to rest.
On the 6th day Will declared she was finished.  ‘About bloody time’ moaned Guy picking Aggie up and turning her over in his hands to inspect her.  ‘Nice job… ‘ he began to say but then stopped. ‘You’ve missed a bit. ‘Nope’ said Will ‘I’m leaving her rough on the back because a rock that is too perfect has nothing left to remind it of where it came from’. Guy pursed his lips and nodded. ‘Nice touch’ he said, grudgingly.  ‘ Thanks for helping me write the card’ Will said to the center of the room.  ‘Don’t think I was much help really’ said Guy. Aggie and Will just smiled.
The next day Will wrapped Aggie in a silk scarf and took her down to the river.   ‘This’ll refresh your energies before I take you to my mum’ he said.  Aggie wasn’t so sure as she saw that he was heading for the exact same spot where all her family and friends lived.  Would anyone recognise her? Would they hate her for looking so beautiful? As he dipped her into the River Life, the  first rock she saw was her young friend Adam. ‘ that you?’ he said in amazement. ‘Yes’ replied Aggie, cautiously.  ‘They brought you back looking like that?’. ‘Yes, but I don’t think I’m staying’. Adam looked at the hand holding Aggie and said ‘Are you scared?’. ‘I was before but I’m not now. It’s feels wonderful to be like this. I wouldn’t care if I sit on a shelf forever like this because the feeling that makes me happiest is coming from my crystals, not from anywhere else, and I’ll always have them’.  Adam looked at Aggie sadly. ‘Won’t you miss us?’ he asked.  ‘Yes, but it’s not as if I have a choice is it? I can either be happy with the new way I feel or spend forever being sad about the things I miss in the River Life.  You don’t want me to be sad do you?’.  ‘I suppose not’ said Adam, a little sulkily. Just then, before she even had a chance to say goodbye, Aggie was whipped out of the water.  She watched Adam get smaller and smaller as she was lifted higher.
If it hadn’t have been for the rushing sound of the water of the River Life she would have been unlucky enough to hear that his parting words to her were ‘Maybe you don’t belong in the River Life now anyway’.
Maybe Aggie would have been saddened by that but, as it happened, there was a more than suitable distraction awaiting her at Will’s mums house. Will’s mum was called Destiny.  She had all sorts of very beautiful things in her home. For the first few weeks of Aggie living with her, Destiny moved Aggie around lots of different surfaces, placing her next to lots of other beautiful things that made Aggies happy feeling grow larger and larger.
Finally, one morning, Destiny settled on the windowsill for Aggie.  Aggie was overjoyed. From the window-sill she not only had the best view of all of the beauty that lay within Destiny’s home but also all the beauty of her garden which was awash with colour and life.  Each day, as Aggie looked at the beauty around her and felt the happy feeling radiating from her crystals, she wondered why she had spent so many years trying to stay at the bottom of a river. With so much to see every day,  and so much beauty, Aggie’s crystals sparkled more and more brightly every day,  delighting Destiny.  Every day, first thing in the morning, when the sun fell directly on the window in which Aggie sat, Destiny would visit her with news of Will. Destiny would always stroke Aggies beautiful surfaces then take 5 minutes to read the pretty card that Aggie remembered from Will’s workshop which always sat beside Aggie and read,  on the front:

‘Happy 60th Birthday Mam.’

(June, 2015)


The End

The function of tantrums

We’ve all been there. It’s 8am and all you want is to put clothes on your toddler and get them out of the door so you can get to work.  They, of course, have other ideas. That brand new purple T-shirt with the dinosaur is never going to suffice when there is an infinitely more attractive, stained, 2 sizes too small pyjama top with an owl on it that it is vital that they are allowed to wear to go to childcare today. No, they no longer like dinosaurs.  No, it doesn’t matter that the other children will laugh.  No, the weather or social norm does not have any significant impact on their decision. Why should it?  Their decision is arbitrary. It’s only function to defy you.  Frustration ensues, you becomes insistent, putting your foot down. A tantrum at this stage is inevitable.  Sigh.

Now, if you’re hoping this article is going to give you a surefire method to end tantrums so that you can stop being late for work/embarassed in the supermarket, then you’re going to be disappointed.  The only way to end a toddler’s tantrum quickly is to give in and accept that social exclusion and ultimate descension into delinquency will not occur purely because your child chooses to don sleepwear in the park.  On the other hand, if a child grows up thinking that he should be able to havehis own way on everything then you may well find that the odd preference for sleepwear will mutate into something much more unacceptable.  A two year old walking around the supermarket in pyjamas and slippers will likely pull a few wry smiles in your direction.  A 15 year old walking around in boxer shorts and a smelly t-shirt, not so much!

So at the point when your child drops to the floor, shattering glass with his screams and hurling random dinosaur related items in your direction, remember try to remember that God has not sent this child just to test you.   In actual fact your angry, frustrated little angel, given the right reaction from you, is about to experience one of the most important lessons he can possibly receive in life.  He’s  about to learn about the importance of managing his own emotional state.

We all know that adult who walks around assuming absolutely no responsibility for himself at all.  He is the person who moans incessantly about how sucky his life is but never makes any effort to make any changes.  It’s all someone else’s fault that he’s unhappy.  He is the person who becomes more and more isolated and bitter becasue nobody is prepared to spend any time with someone who  sucks the fun  out of everything they do, like Eeeyore. He is the person who scowls at you as you catch his eye in the street and throw him a friendly grin.  He is a miserable, joyless fountain of negativity and. to make matters worse,he puts so much energy into expecting the worst to happen, that it often does. This is the image you should hold in mind as you watch your tantruming toddler reach a climactic frenzy in front of you.  You can just stand back and let it happen, safe in the knowledge that your lack of reaction,  will serve to ensure your childs never arrives in such a negative future as the one you are currently imagining.

It may sound illogical but here is the reason why it will work.  Nobody ever fought fire with fire effectively.  Adding your own anger to the situation will only fuel the  small fry-ing pan fire into a blazing inferno. Reasoning is unlikely to help. When was the last time you responded to reason when you were in such a  rage?  But one thing is a given. Anger does not feel good.  It feels powerful, it feels overwhelming and it can even feel satisfying but,once it’s over, just like a 500g bar of chocolate, you regret it instantly.  Your child is no exception to this rule.  As a parent you know that, once the screaming and flailing subside,the anger in your child’s face will be replaced with fear, distress and regret. They may even have hurt themselves physically in the process.

By not intervening to stop the tantrum from escalating you are telling your child that they have a choice and a right. They have a right to anger but, if they choose to express it aggressively, the end result will be more unpleasant for them than it will be for anyone else.  Providing the tantrum doesn’t serve a function of actually getting the child what he originally wanted,he will eventually come to see that putting himself through that is not only futile but deeply unpleasant. As his learning progresses he will even begin to understand how his behaviour has impacted on you but don’t count your chickens before the eggs have hatched!!  The more ineffective tantrums he has, the more his hand will be forced to look for ways of handling his frustration in different ways.  This is where you pounce with an awesome lesson.

In the lovely cosy moments that abound with small children; those moments where they’re playing peacefully and you’re having a cup of tea and pondering on how you could never love anything more than you love them, teach them other strategies.  Teach them compromise, teach them reason.  Use role play with a baby doll to show them that not wearing a pyjama top with an owl on it does not spell the end of the world.  But most importantly, teach them to train their attention on recognising what makes them feel good and what makes them feel bad, emotionally.  There are some excellent toys and books on the market for teaching children about different emotions and these should be a staple part of your play kit.

Given enough patience on your part (becasue we all expect that toddlers need an abundance of this anyway; it’s more important than food!!), your expressive little person will soon figure out that life is much more pleassant all round when he takes control over his own outlook.  This is a gift to your child that will just keep on giving.  Maybe, compared to those of us who have the incessantly negative, miserable, joy sapper amongst our circle of companions, rather less of us have access to the person who seems to have an infinite capacity for forgiveness, endless patience and an irrepressably sunny outlook.  It’s a sad fact that few of us master the skill about which I have here spoken.

If you are one of those many who find emotional self control difficult, then you may read this article with a degree of horror and wonder how you can possibly hope to control your own responses in the face of such extreme pressures from your toddler. My answer to you would be this.  Make his immediate area secure removing anything on which he could seriously harm himself or do harm with and turn your back on the whole thing. If you have to be late for work then you may as well have another cup of tea. The key, is to give the negative behaviours as little attention as possible then, once the child has calmed down, shower them with love and comfort.  Be prepared to dump that second cuppa immediately and go and give your little one the hug he needs after having dealt with the frightful force that is himself. There is plenty of literature  on this subject at your disposal not to mention the numerous, infamous TV series’…..

Returning for a moment to the impact that tantrums can have on your immediate plans and, therefore, levels of frustration there is one other thing worth remembering……Choose your battles wisely.  Tantrums may be functionally necessary for small children but they are no fun for anybody.  If you can avoid them then do, Who cares if your toddler leaves the house looking like Noddy?  Only you, that’s who. Anyone else will merely have a passing thought before returning to whatever, much more pressing issue, is currently on their mind, if they notice at all!!  When you’re dealing with a tantrum out in public and wishing the ground would swallow you up and save the  embarassment of looking like a ‘bad’ parent, remind yourself of this…Those who walk past and tut probably never had this gift given to them as children.  They are intolerant, judgemental and either not a parent at all or, if they are, then they certainly aren’t one who carried out their role with the wisdom that you do!!

At the end of the proverbial day, children are not given to us to be forced to conform. They are given to us so that we may guide them to grow to be as respectful of their own needs as they are of the needs of others.  At the end of the actual day,when you are having one of those ‘I love you so much’ moments that tend to abound during the times your child is sleeping, you’ll look back on this morning’s tantrum and realise that, rather than spending your day feeling guilty about how loudly you shouted this morning, you feel proud that you helped your child to learn one oflife’s most important lessons. It’s win, win really…well, except for your boss but….hey….he knew you had small children when he employed you, didn’t he?……

If Society were a parent……

If society were a parent, it wouldn’t be a very good one. It would say ‘you must eat your greens’ then make you take an up-hill bike ride past a million fast food establishments to get to the greengrocer. When you get there, the green grocer has shut down because everyone got too hungry trying to get to him and just had a pizza instead.

If society were a parent it would be a mean one. It would tell you that you should exercise an hour a day and sleep for at least 8 but then make you drive for 90 minutes in order to work for 9 hours a day, spend 2 hours cooking and eating and another cleaning and tidying.

Once you’d done all that and were ready to get down to the exercise it had requested that you do, society would say ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. Don’t you have bills to pay? Have you rung your mum recently? When was the last time you read the kids a story?

If society were a parent, its advice would be ambiguous. It would tell you to be prudent with your finances and then sit you in front of a screen on which appears, message after message, telling you about all the things that it is VERY important for you to spend your money on.

If society were a parent it would be dishonest. It would tell you that you should always practice love and tolerance then present you with a barrage of information about who we should hate and why.

If society were a parent, it would be a dismissive one.   Our children question us about everything and, as good parents, we welcome those questions because we know they are an important part of children’s development .   Children hear what their parents have to say, they decide what they accept and what they want to reject and, in doing so, they grow into a unique individual.   Are we encouraged, as adults, by society, to grow and develop in the same way or is it more important that we conform with the status quo?

Yet despite all of this we allow society to guide our behaviour and we teach our children to allow it to guide theirs? This is where I become confused because the plain truth is that ‘society’ is not an entity. It doesn’t think and reason, nor does it possess intuition. It is simply a sum of all the thinking, reasoning, feeling and intuitive knowing of it’s constituent people. So how can it be that we so often feel so controlled by it? Who is really in charge here?.

I propose that, just like a child needs conflict with it’s parents in order to grow, so society needs conflict within itself in order to develop. Let me explain by asking you to think about how much you have changed since your children came along. What extra fears and worried now inhabit your outlook on life? How differently do you do things? Maybe you eat a lot more healthily than you used to or engage a lot less, if at all, in habits such as binge drinking and smoking? Maybe you changed your job when your children were born to something you felt would better meet the needs of your increasing family or gave up work altogether. When you really think about it you may feel that you are almost unrecognisable from the person you used to be before you were a parent. Our children change us, often for the better. Once we are thinking on behalf of a little person who holds our heart in their hand whilst they charge off into the fray of life, we see things differently. Your children challenged you and you became better for it. Society is, in part, is a representation of the outlooks and opinions of the people who comprise it. Therefore, just as children change the outlook of their own parents, so we, as constituent parts of society, have the power to do the same thing, to and for ourselves.

However another main part of modern society is media which, to me, seems to function as society’s brain. It seems to do our thinking for us. It tells us what we should think, what we should eat, how we should act and it limits our expectations of ourselves in many subtle ways. It’s advice, as we have seen above, is dubious to say the least. However whilst media may currently be the brain of society we, as citizens, are it’s heart. In human bodies, large areas of the brain can shut down, disabling the body yet the heart still continues to beat. Yet if the heart shuts down, the brain has only minutes to live. My intention with this article is to illustrate that society can be thought of as a body, be it parent or otherwise, with a perfectly good heart but a malfunctioning brain. As part of the heart of society, you hold the trump card. You can change it just by being the change.

When you were born, you were blessed certain innate abilities. You had the ability to communicate when you were in distress, you had the ability to grip onto your mother for dear life, you had the ability to understand that a face was a much more important object, than any other object you were presented with (except maybe a nipple J). You even had the ability to swim. All of these things are survival tools. You were born with all the abilities you needed in order to continue to remain alive. Parenting instincts are part of this. You were born knowing how best to care for your children. Society, as a non-entity can make no such claim. If anything, socialisation into a ‘modern society’, more often than not, serves to help us to ‘unlearn’ this important knowledge rather than consolidate it as we could be doing. Society may offer us protection and security but it also fosters dependence, indifference to things that really matter and fixation on those things that don’t. If society really were a parent, I reckon we’d all be in care by now……..

So, in raising your children, why not start to rely less on what society says you ‘should’ be doing and much more on your own instincts. It would certainly seem to make sense. Even if your instincts guide you down a path that seems completely at odds with what everyone else is doing, why doubt them? Just as our children question us and rebel against us in order to come to their own understanding of life and become happy, independent human beings so we, as individuals, should challenge the part of ourselves that submits guilelessly to the guidance of ‘society’ and, in doing so, change it for the better for the children.

The Icon

It sits on my desktop on a rainbow of colour
Reminding how my life is now fuller

It is nothing more than a tiny little square
But behind the bland facia, my future lies there

For within those 4 small inch long walls
Lies my hopes and dreams, huge successes, great falls.

The icon is entitled ‘New Novelist’
And is smeared with the fingerprints of very small fists

Oh tiny square!, How you’ve changed my life
You’ve rescued me from heartache and released me from strife

Of course you have to compete with two tiny rivals
And in the end you all depend on me for your survival

But for those three days when my mum schedule is clear
You’ll have my full attention, I promise you dear

Because I have you as mine forever and ever
And I vow,about you, I will never say never.

The two year old mindset: A super power

Superman has his ability to fly and his super strength, Spiderman has all those arachnid capabilities,the X-Men do all sorts of wacky things and so on but do any of them have the ability to remain completely untroubled in life except when it comes to a dearth of yoghurt or the wrong colour underpants?? No, they don’t (at least I don’t think they do).  But toddlers do.

I was going to write this post yesterday but my own version of the 2 year old super power chipped in with ‘Now is not the time’  and it was right. So let’s hang fire and back track for a second whilst I go back to yesterday and explain what I’m blathering on about.

I’m talking about mindfulness;the ability to live in the moment.  2 year old’s have this ability as their default setting and, watching my own 2 year old son exemplify this yesterday, it was suddenly very apparent to me why we have an awful lot to learn from our little bundles of joy.

They are referred to in this way for a reason, are they not?  Yes they bring joy and laughter to our lives as parents but I don’t think that that is where this particular expression came from. I think it came from the fact the toddlers can find joy in the absolute simplest of things just by virtue of the fact that they are so unencumbered by thoughts of what they did yesterday or what they might find themselves doing for the rest of the day they are in.  When they are looking at a ladybird, it is all about that ladybird. They don’t care that you are on the school run and running late or that said ladybird happens to be in the middle of a path on which several other people are trying to make their way about their business.  They only care that it is teeny and red and tickles when it is on a fingertip.

Yesterday was a Saturday and, as such, is one of my most challenging days of the week. I’m on my own with my two small children and no car in a little village with a limited bus service and a finite number of places to explore and people to see (we’re fairly new to the village and don’t know many people and my family are hundreds of miles away).  Now, to me, this is why Saturdays represent torture.  Coming up with ideas to ‘keep them amused’ and avoid resorting to the TV feels way too much like particle physics to me and particle physics is not my ideal way of spending a Saturday. So when I woke up yesterday and realised it was going to be a rainy day my mood immediately took a turn towards frustration and irritation.

For about the first 2 hours I went through the usual litany of books and games. I couldn’t face crafting because neither of them are that interested and, being 2, Luke usually eats something  or draws somewhere he shouldn’t the minute I’m busy with 6 year old Holly.  A puddle walk together was out of the question because Holly was feeling poorly so by lunchtime the bored whinging had started and my insides were in knots.

Just then in walks Luke with his wellies and raincoat and starts swinging on the backdoor handle. It was absolutely pouring down but Holly was asleep and all indoor games with Luke are necessarily noisy so I suited and booted him up and let him out into the garden. Here are the pictures I took during the hour the he wandered around out there!





‘Where are you going with this?’ I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Aside from feeling frustrated with being village/housebound with the little ones I also have a number of other issues going on at the minute.  Namely, I am incredibly anxious, all the time, about how I’m going to continue to financially support my children when work is hard to come by and I have very limited options for people I can leave them with if I were able to find work. The issue fills my mind most of the time and, more often than not , sends me into a complete tail spin which, at best makes me mildly anxious and, at worst, sends me into some pretty bad depressive states.  But, watching Lukey Lu happily pottering about the garden yesterday in the pouring rain gave me an epiphany that went a little something like this:

‘It’s really quite a challenge to just be happy with what you have. I spend so much time thinking thinking about what I ‘need’ to do; what I ‘should’ do in the next hour, day, month, year, my lifetime that I forget to just take pleasure in what I’m doing right now.  ‘

And what I was doing right at that time, of course, was beaming happily whilst watching the little man having fun seeing how much he could drench himself by catching rain in his upturned umbrella then flipping it over.  I’d stressed and stressed all morning about what I ‘should’ be doing with them and was  feeling very unhappy.  All it took was to watch him taking pleasure in the awful weather in his own little ‘in the moment way’ and I suddenly realised that I didn’t have to ‘do’ anything except follow the lead of the two year old boy whose wisdom clearly outshines my own in at least one way.  

I thought how much I loved him and the thought allowed me to tap into everything I have that I’m extremely grateful for.  Turns out there’s a lot.  The minute I was feeling grateful, happiness naturally followed and all I’d had to do to get there was stop and look and breathe.

So, there you have it. The superpower of a two year old is nothing more than the ability to focus on things that interest them and make them happy and go after it with determination . That’s ‘The Secret’. It’s something we all have the capability to do when we stop fixating on guilt and resentment about the past and anxiety and fear about the future.  Little children don’t suffer from those things. One way or another those are things that are drummed into us as we grow up so that we eventually lose our ‘superpower’ to go from sad to happy in the blink of an eye.  

But imagine how different our lives as adults would be if we never lost that ability.  Imagine how it would affect our choices and the decisions that often lead us straight off the path of happiness and into a quagmire of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’. Just imagine….

We all have responsibilities as grown up’s, I’m not saying that’s wrong.  Of course it’s not. That’s just life.  The trick is, when you’re feeling overwhelmed and disempowered, just stop and think.  Look around you and see what you have that you are grateful for and allow the knowing of what you WANT to do next to come slowly into your consciousness from far back in that part of your brain that is still 2 years old and  always remember this

You don’t always need a plan.  Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens

~ Mandy Hale

The universe has it’s own mysterious way of guiding you to your hearts desire. How was Luke to know that I’d let him play out in the pouring rain, not insist he come in for lunch and instead give him a banana and raisin picnic in his playhouse?  If he’d stopped to consider whether I’d allow him to do this before indicating he wanted to go outside he probably wouldn’t have bothered. But he’s two, he doesn’t do such stupid things as applying assumptions and reasoning to such simple things as what will make him happy, he just goes ahead and follows his heart 🙂

Lets have a few more of those ‘do what makes you happy moments’ now, just to sure youreally get the idea (ohh, okaaay, it’s really because these pictures make me smile and they’re what I feel like looking at right now)


Sitting down on a random doorstep for a rest en route to the shop









Wearing silly glasses and reading a book on patchworking and quilting


That (whatever that is – yoga maybe?)


Wear a fez and some hideous T-shirts (sorry mam) to do some reading


Eat with abandon


Practice selfies (there’s about 2 dozen of these, all different expressions


and, finally, just to exemplify the fact that you don’t always have to understand why or how something will happen (just keep living in the moment and trust that it will)….



(Oh and, by the way, today is one of the few child free days I have in which I can get on with some serious writing but I found, when I sat down to start, that I had a million things on my ‘I should do’ list for the day. So I thought I’d do this instead, just to remind myself what being ‘in the moment’ can do for you and remove myself from that ‘stressy’ approach that was threatening to take over my day…..)  Now I’ve done this I’m feeling really happy and I know exactly what I want to do with the rest of my day…… My writing hand is on fire and it’s eager to continue, uninhibited by musts and shoulds xx That’s obviously why this post was wrong for yesterday whose afternoon activities mostly consisted of lets empty the toy box and get out all the interesting things we’ve forgotten about 🙂 In the end, Lukey Lu’s magic saved the day )

YA Fiction, Elitism and the Culture of “Should”

I wish I’d written this. I may as well have for how closely I relate to it. Thank you that lady 🙂

Count My Stars

By now I’m sure nearly everyone in the writing world has read or heard about the Slate piece on how adults should be embarrassed/ashamed to read Young Adult literature. (I’m not going to link to it, because I refuse to give them the clicks.)  I couldn’t possibly have missed it – when I checked Twitter on Thursday morning, my timeline was a seething mass of fury. And I… well, went off implies a brief explosion. This took place over the course of nearly three hours, prompting what I consider one of my top five greatest honors of my entire internet history:


And, you know what? It was. When I get up a good head of steam on some righteous anger, it looks a little like this:

ImageMore often than not, I’m reduced to outraged sputtering, but every now and then I am able to find and use my words, and…

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