I cry. I will sit. I will wait. I will dance drum and dream,

What is going on in my life right now from so many directions is so painful I cannot share it here. As I write tears again stream down my face. I am at a point that every aspect of my life has been turned upside down from work home family and friends nothing will again be as it was before. I am grieving and it hurts hard.  As a really positive can do individual  however challenging life gets I can always see a glimmer of hope but feeling so distressed and crying so much means I am having to look really hard for that glimmer of hope.

I am weary with the grief of it all. This year feels that every time I have dared to celebrate life and feel good then some other major miserable hard challenge has come crashing into me.  I pick myself dust myself down only to be knocked down again. I know that at this very moment in time the tears are good and I need to grieve.  I am struggling to find any kind of meaning in what is happening to me but what I am finding myself doing is reading and writing, talking to wise caring friends and trying to seek meaning and some direction to go on.

I have now stood still and I am crashing down from flying high as superwoman the wonder woman who can fix everything. This woman has lost her cloak of hope and is empty of energy and solutions. I can never stop giving it goes on and on from smallish boy to smallish step girl to next work project to giving and organising lifts to dance workshops, to dropping stuff off, to listening to friend in crisis, to caring for elderly Mum, writing large boys CV, to earning the money needed to put food on table the list goes on and on. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to focus on self-care and looking after me but each time something blocks or overtakes all the energy I have.

I can’t work out how other folk do it. There does seem to be folk though who manage to trip through life making sure their needs are met in a way I find so tricky to comprehend. My life is always complicated and always someone or something needs something from me. I am realising I have no idea how to put myself first. Actually that is not true. I tried really hard to do this on our wedding day. In the doom and gloom thinking of   my wedding day feels me with colour and brightness and joy. But if I was to tell you that weeks before and after wedding I was doing over 40 hours a week at work trying to deliver a challenging organisational restructure, I was at a formal appeals panel two days before my wedding and doing hands on care the day after and cleaning bathrooms the day after that you will see the challenge there was to overcome? For us no honeymoon, no chance to share some quality time together as a couple no we are back on sorting out everyone else’s needs.

Even writing this makes me feel bad. I know some other people who have worse challenges than me and I should stop moaning.  Even when I went to the GP I felt guilty for asking for time off from work to recover! This is time off from an organisation that has had me working over 40 hours a week and then has not given me a job in the new restructure and has completely and utterly worn me out so I have lost my sense of professional self. I feel guilty about taking time off to care for me ? You have to remember I am superwoman and I am the strong woman with strong sense of self who never falls over. I feel guilty and bad that I have failed and am admitting defeat.

I am sat here now consciously remembering the number of times I have been told of the need to take care of me. I have had healers, doctors, friends, coaches and family all tell me this. The thing is I do try. But to carve out an hours dance practice results in a blended family drama, or more chores left to do later. An afternoon out means a stressful drive to school pick up, a weekend off means a long drive on M5 to go care for elderly Mum. It is just not easy, so many aspects of my life I cannot say no.

The big one as well is that I have to earn money. Not pocket money I am not a lady who lunches but I have to earn a significant amount of money to   contribute to keep the roof over our heads and the family show on the road. This is a biggy for me as when I read the touchy feely stuff about self-care people don’t seem to lead the life I lead. When I think about life changes it always comes back to how can I earn enough money? This needs clarification. I have worked part time for work life balance to bring up large and not so small boys. To do this poverty sat right behind me every step of the way. I was supported by my loving Mum but most of my life I worried about money. For last two years working fulltime has giving me respite from money worry and allowed us to do some happy things like travel but as I have described it has come at a cost to me. Work life balance means earning money and choices are compromised whilst you bring up children and put them first. It is also worth noting that a lot of our resources in the last year have flown out to support others.

I am trying however not to moan but to write it as it is. This way I can own it and try and find a different direction to move on. Something has to change and owning where I am at has to be start. Even at this point there is family stuff going on that I have to pull together, sort out and try and get going. Blended families are such a challenge and yes I shall admit really hard work. I am the glue that keeps us all together and this takes effort and energy.    Even now I am fighting to find some headspace as well as time for me. Folk tell me to do this and we all know what I need to do but it is the how that is proving challenging.

So I am writing this out as reflection looking at all that has gone on and wanting to capture some glimmers of hope. Or indeed some way of making sense of where I am in my world and if there is possibility of a different way.  So even though I am laid out on the floor crying here are some things and stuff that I have been given or experienced in recent weeks that I have started to think about.  Here are some events and information that others have shared I am using to try and make sense of where I am at and the how to move on:

Coaching conference.

I arrived at The WME coaching conference at real low ebb. I love coaching and mentoring and am passionate about being a coach and John Blakey woke me up by talking about a “trust vacuum”. He said that organisations both public and corporate have lost the trust of the people hence the reason for Brexit and Trump being voted in. For me it resonated in the stress caused by working in an organisation that has a trust crisis when everything is shifting in restructure, where there is nothing or no one to place trust in anymore.

John however gives us hope he talks of Trust becoming the new glue for society and organisations. He cites trustworthiness as an organisational lead aspiration, and offers 9 habits as practical tool:

Ability – to deliver to coach to be consistent

Integrity- Be honest be open be humble

Benevolence – evangelise (spread good news) be brave be kind

You can explore more of this at John’s website:

http://johnblakey.co.uk/trusted-executive-resources/

 

For me this was self-affirming. Personally and professionally I could describe these 9 habits as what I fundamentally believe in. Such as shame as there was no opportunity to explore this way of working at recent job interview but perhaps a reality check that it is time to move on.

Then late afternoon just as I am preparing to leave this woman gets up and starts talking about selfcare. I am reading my notes on her presentation:

“Life is a work in progress” “What are we doing?  And big style: SELF CARE IS A PRIORITY.  She went onto challenge us about what are restorative practices and indeed how did we cultivate emotional resilience?

I shelved these notes and scribbles from this day to read now. Away from job interviews and deadlines I have time to ponder and reflect. Yes Jackee gave me yet another wakeup call regarding self-care. She also gave me some validation. At meetings and when I am out and about I use notebooks. I write notes, ideas, record information and doodle and draw pictures in my notebook. This is often when others are sitting behind screens and laptops answering emails. Even when listening to Jackee and John’s presentations there are doodles on the page! What Jackee encourages is do more notes more doodling more ideas, use writing and doodling as part of your self-care!

I loved Jackee’s ideas and have started to read her books you can read more about her here:

http://www.jackeeholder.com/

 

Dancing and Collective Soul One weekend

Earlier in the year I signed up for Collective Soul One; a weekend dance course with Deirdre Macdonald. I knew I would be learning and developing Paulette Rees Davis’ Gypsy Caravan dance format and I was interested in trying a new dance style and approach to dance. To be honest I had lost my dance mojo so I had been a bit random signing up to this thinking it may re spark some dance inspiration.

Before the course I read some of Paulette’s books and listened to music and followed some videos. You can find out more from Paulette’s website:

http://gypsycaravantribalbellydance.com/

But interesting about this weekend was that both Paulette and Deirdre are coaches so an immediate connection into a way of thinking that I have passion for, I found this so affirming. I enjoyed the straightforwardness of connecting into dance. I have been overthinking it I just need to dance with lovely women and Gypsy Caravan format is giving me a framework to do this. What I really liked is Paulette’s approach of respectfully learning from women’s dances of past and present and creating a new aesthetic, a new dance for women of the 21st century.

The weekend also quietly called to me about self-care. Where is my moment of stillness? I have taken from this Morning pages and have consistently written in the last month anything and everything. It has quietly woken my creative soul of which I am placing a little hope that it will support me to get out of this mess I find me in.

Deirdre also quietly gave me a wakeup call that weekend. She noted that in the external world I was struggling and was able to give me some pointers to start to walk away from the layers of stress work is causing me and reconnection into the skills and talents I have.

As well as a dancer Deirdre is a talented coach and creative problem solver you can find more about her here:

http://limitsandchoicescoaching.com/

The irony is not lost on me her website is called limits and choices!

The other thing about undertaking the Collective Soul One for me is a reconnection into Jude the creative one, the girl who likes making and creating stuff. I also passed and was so excited to get all my Arabic rhythms correct! This is now taking me on a new dance journey where I can quietly and gently dance to the beat of the drum.

So this week in between the tears I have had my notebook out. I have stuck to my morning pages and done them every day, writing any old ramblings that pour out of my head. I have attempted to sit still at least for ten minutes and tried to still my mind of “Mrs who does she think she is” thoughts.  I have danced alone and with friend and played my drum. I have met up with wise and wonderful women who have listened and shared my sorrow, validated my feelings and importantly not offered any “you should do” advice.

I will keep crying as I am sad. But that is okay. I will sit. I will wait. I will dance drum and dream, creating notes and doodles in my notebook. Then hopefully I may be ready to make my dreams a reality.

 

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Finding joy beyond the fog

I have written a blog for months. So long ago I was almost letting it go. I didn’t think I had anything to write anymore. Large boy and really not very small boy are still with their challenges but I didn’t have anything to say. So much has happened in this last month to me  I feel like I am coming out of a huge fog that has encompassed my ability to create think and being anything other than a work horse.

I rarely talk about work and am certainly not going to dwell on my current situation. But to give this blog context I need to explain. The job I do involves me being a fully registered social worker. This means I uphold professional standards, values and principles . My strong professional values and principles have always kept me grounded and in right place right time in my work role. However hard times have been if I can assure myself  that my actions are in the best interests of folk  in our society who need care and support I can keep turning up. I also believe in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

In recent months I have drowned in work taking me in a direction that is so far away from my values and principles that I lost me. Let me be clear , I make no criticism of the organisation or fantastic folk I have happened to work with , it is just that it is no longer a place I want to be or a role I want to undertake. I have totally lost any perspective in this sea of fog I have been in mostly as I could see no way out.

Anyway I tripped over big time in this fog. I have really emotionally injured myself, but and this is a big deal ; I have stopped. I have stopped running around and am slowly waiting for the fog to clear. Some things have happened to me that are worthy of taking note of:

Not so small now girly has come to live with us. Watching her settle in and begin to explore all the new opportunities this move is giving her is exciting to see and be part of. Purple Dr Marten boots, drama of school friendships, tasting of food tech accomplishments and her rather offbeat humour is adding so much to our household . Moving in does not come without it’s challenges but I am privileged to be this lovely young woman’s step Mum and to be able to support her as she heals, grows and becomes the best version of herself.

The lovely man and I got married. It was a wonderful celebration and out of the fog I realise I feel assured by the vows we have made and the lovely unity it has brought to our families. We are good together and we work as team   and our children see this and are replicating adding to and we are all becoming one big blended family. As I write this I am smiling at the sunshine and lovely love and colour our wedding day had. Some highlights of note:

  • Friends who decorate old Ford Focuses with lipstick hearts and sequin rugs and make you and not small girl laugh out loud
  • Friends who create beauty out of cards and leaves
  • Bubbles curls and a beautiful dress of pink and green
  • Flowers in jars kept for the occasion , more inspiration and creativity than any money could buy. Beautiful and lasting long after the celebration
  • A lovely wise old Mum enjoying the day, chatting to so many and even dancing !
  • So many best friends filling the day with love and joy
  • Staring straight into my lovely man’s eyes
  • Readings of wisdom and funny and emotional speeches
  • Shamadam and dance of love
  • Zills and drums and dancing
  • Celebrating all that is good about love

I am digressing but you know last week I was so drowning in fog the tears and sorrow I carried around with me had covered these lovely memories or indeed wonderful events that are happening to me . There is more:

I completed a two day intensive Collective Soul 1 dance course. Right in the middle of a most stressful month I found respite in dance. Just focusing on putting one foot in front of each other with a shoulder shimmy, arms up down , turning around , it reminds me of why I dance. It is about  joy and at the moment it meditative quality. I really connected with being present and in the moment. I also have reflected and realise that I am currently drawn to this type of dance as its focus is not on the ego. There is no “being the star” . No one is more important , it is a collective soul, a circle of dancers. This weekend also brought me back to my coaching, to morning pages and ideas about being creative.   I have discovered I do want to dance but I need to find a place that is about dancing and not about being at the front and in the lime light. It may or may not involve performing but this is not to be the focus, as dancing can be an opportunity to celebrating being “in the moment”.

I went on a coaching and mentoring conference. The message was that for me is that I can and will be able to rebuild my reality including my career  with focus truthfulness. I can support this by upholding and developing my personal and professional integrity and undertaking actions that make compassion and kindness happen.

A wise friend proposed I should approach the fog with intuition and sensitivity.She keeps remindimg of this as I keep saying intuition and kindness. Indicative of my inability  right now to focus on self!

It is pouring down with rain today. Dark wet and cold. I have cried so much but the relief that I can now see a shining light through this fog I have been in is wonderful . Everyone is talking of new beginnings but you know what I am not rushing this. I am going to sit still, let the tears flow and in between breath, dance and be present.

So what of smallish boy? Here I am continuing to be his Mum. Yesterday he refuses to do his art homework. Taking a picture of himself he then refuses to complete a self-portrait. He cannot see the point. It shows no artistic meaning . As Mum I propose he just undertakes the task in hand. He seems no reason to undertake this. Without an internal driver or a personal goal smallish boy still refuses to participate in tasks. Currently I am trying to make him connect to exams and where he may wish to go in life.  He no longer hugs me but holds me close with fist bumps, trying to get me to do morning stretches with him and draping his long legs over me on the sofa. Last week in my fog of sorrow he gave me a hug. Nothing said or spoken he came to an art fair with me , just looking after his Mum.

Last week I missed large boy so much it hurt, like huge ache. I just want to hang out with big boy and chat and have some of his time. He texted me at the weekend . telling him some of my fog, he tells me no job  is worth that much distress , practical as ever big boys offers kindness; “ You are the best Mum in the world” oh and “ Can you please help me with my CV? Having completed this task I am going to have to develop my own …. Wonder if I can include the words resilient?

 

Mummy mutterings…

Big boy is 20 today. So no longer a boy and no longer a teen. I can remember being twenty and being still very much a girl as he is still really a boy. I however spent my summer holiday in London. The weather was hot and we hung out at the local open air pool and partied until dawn. When I wasn’t in London I was hitch hiking my way to festivals or friends in different parts of the UK.

My big boy however hangs out in his room. The computer is all. Yesterday called to participate in family supper making the response was hang on I am in the middle of something! In the middle of what? Hiding from the real world and interaction with human beings? I am unclear as to what to do. He is actually really sociable and polite if you can get him out of the bedroom. I have made him hand out CVs, he has several skills and would be fine working in a café or bar as he is polite and hard working. We have tried a Children’s play scheme as he is good with kids. Any of these as an option would do him the world of good as he needs to participate in the real world. However he is  in the catch of having little experience, and yes last year he did do voluntary work and enjoyed it.  As the summer slips by I worry that gradually my boy is losing his confidence and his cheery self by sleeping all day and computers at night.

So today we are going out for a walk and a drink as Mother and son, a gentle pep talk methinks. Or perhaps I am out of touch and placing my expectations on him. He is not asking for money, though we feed him. I am not sure he is as sociable as I am and may well be content with his online mates , many who are Uni mates playing games and hanging out?

Meanwhile smaller boy has survived year ten at school. He doesn’t do school rules, and has little respect for poor teaching  but  goodness how many tears have I shed this year? In spring smallish boy got distressed with the world, a wrong word from a teacher, not enough sleep, teen hormones who knows? He took himself to the top floor mezzanine and threatened to jump. Seconds from falling he was saved only to face little help from services, just process and procedure and form filling. None of really know what was in his head to become so distressed but he has had little help from external services. However his school have been amazing. Small boy has been at school whether for an hour or two from days of it happening with school fighting his corner to access education safely.

And then he gets drunk at school! All those years of fighting his corner, all the effort school have put in to getting him back in class and as little social experiment he pinches a drop of vodka to see what may happen. You see he never thinks of consequences just the good idea at the time.

My small boy is the most charismatic likeable chap you could meet. He smiles and chatters but will not work to order, and struggles with his dyslexic identity and support offered. Out of school he is hanging out in the town centre wearing his latest flash trainers making the world laugh.  Despite their exasperations every teacher I have recently seen is working to get smallish boy to deliver the best side of him. His fabulous art teacher described it best. “Be proud to be different smallish boy, everyone wants to be fantastic at art like you, accept who you and continue to be different”.

Normally I have a theme for my blog but today I am just capturing a parent moment in time about two boys who are lovely human beings but completely exasperating! I love the “Being Brilliant” books and Andy Cope’s approach to teens and life. Smallish boy and I every day have the conversation which focuses on whether he can deliver his “best version of his self”. As a Mum this is what I want from them both a strive for “Best version of self” but in smallish boy’s words:

“Mum not best version today, I am an alright, that will do version of me”.

Off to wake up big boy with presents and love …..

 

 

Seeking value in life, family and creative endeavour!

To smallish boy :
Why did you feel the need to give Mr M a bear hug in English and stroke is head?
Smallish boy replies:
He looked like he needed a hug and some love

On top of working fulltime and more , being partner , daughter , professional woman and more I am now parent governor. This is in some hope that the school will place some value on me as parent and hope that I can get smallish boy through the next year and half of school and beyond.
Smallish boy receives value in being warm, funny and being quirky and off the wall. I suspect his value was in the attention he received from the class audience rather than Mr M’s response to his kind offer of a hug!

Seeking value is what I have being thinking about. Recently undertaking a coaching and mentoring course my tutor proposed that I was seeking value and affirmation for quality and quantity of my work in all the wrong places. She challenged me to thinking that rather than repeating same patterns of activity to continue to be let down by lack of value I would be best off seeking value in a different activity such as coaching or mentoring where positive results would be visible and experienced. I am working on this but it has made me less inclined to keep seeking value where it cannot be found.

This has really made me think. Let me be clear I do not want validation. I would consider myself as not overly needy and quite confident in myself and own abilities. However finding value in activities and relationships I invest in is important. I feel valued and loved as a mother, partner and daughter. Although the caring nature of me at the moment is stretched in every direction at the moment caring for elderly Mum as well as boys , step daughter and my lovely man. Seeing our young people including smallish and large boy grow into lovely young people places value on my investment. Caring for my elderly Mum on top of the day jobs is proving tricky. But my Mum has made me feel valued as a human being all of my life. Returning care to her when needed has huge value in seeing her safe and secure.

My relationship with my lovely man is full of kindness and activity that invests in home and family life. He is not a man of words but his actions place value on our relationship beyond words. This weekend he has cleared the last of his “man cave” garage ready for the builders to convert into a home for my Mum. I am crying writing this as this has more value than any flash “ I love yous” or big diamond rings.

So in terms of my creative world is the struggle I am having with dance that I am seeking value in all the wrong places?
As a painter , fine artist I found, and still do sometimes , value in the creative activity of making stuff. I am enjoying making this blog. There has for me always been value in attempting to creatively express feelings and ideas. I am currently also keeping a journal and encouraging the creative me to find value in the activity of just doing doodles scribbles writing words thoughts and stuff.

Dance has taken me on an amazing journey throughout the whole of my life it has added and given value to making me into the whole person I have become.
The value I have from dance is being able to connect physically with my body and to express myself creatively throughout dance. I also think that with belly dance in particular it has given me an outlet to share my emotional experience with an audience and to be able to create “dance pictures” with choreographies and solo improvised performance.
As a dance teacher and organiser of events I gained value in making dance classes and events happen to share the joy passion and knowledge and skills of dance. I think receiving value as a leader who could see the value of sharing skills knowledge and ideas with others to improve others experience of dancing is something I am grieving the loss of.

So in writing this I have realised that I the value I am placing on my dance at the moment is like one of my big doodles I create in my journal and notebooks!
I think my dancing is colouring in with nice colours which has value in being fun and very relaxing. But as I want to seek value on “being creative” I am getting frustrated as I want to use the knowledge and experience I have to colour over the lines a little bit or offer a different colour.

So I have been looking and not finding any big dance canvases in easy reach or on offer for me to put my dance colours. There really is little point in seeking activity to give me value when it is not on offer is there? So If happy dance colouring in is my current dance offer then I must remind me of the value in dance colouring in as a joyful activity in itself. I may have to work at this like practising meditation perhaps it will reap benefits the more I do and the more I adjust to juts finding joyful value in the moment of dance .
As I find value in increasing my knowledge and connection of my mental ability to affect my physical dancing I am going to drum more and focus on learning more about rhythms patterns and develop my drumming skills.
For my dance doodling I shall seek value in dancing with my lovely man drumming, and some other shenanigans with like-minded friends. I also must give thought to creative value in other projects. Journalling is one activity I can explore and build creative value into.

So it is seeking value in activity and relationships that gives me positivity and creates feel good me.
I have been out of sorts as I really have been in many aspects of my life seeking value in the wrong places. Writing this makes me realise that my life although challenging is full of value when I look in the right places.

Smallish boy this weekend has confidently dismantled a computer. He now has beautiful shiny mother board and other bits on his floor. What value he seeks in this is what? Curiosity? Beauty in what he has found? Finding out stuff he needs to know?

Smallish boy at dinner table :
Mum can I have a stuffed duck for my birthday?
I say:
Lovely man where did we see stuffed animals recently?
Lovely man replies:
I really do not want to discuss this right now
Step daughter:
Snorts with laughter
Grandma keeps quiet!
There is so much value in loving family life I do not need to be seeking elsewhere
.

what are all us not bendy barbies but middle aged and passionate about dancing but want a little more than social dancing supposed to do?

I think I am missing dancing and may want to dance a bit more. At the moment I social dance attending a lovely friendly local tribal belly dance class where we get to dance together once a fortnight. This class is warm full of joy and very inclusive and pitched at the right level so everyone can feel good about their dancing. In tricky times in last year on days when work has had my last sane thought, and I am so tired it is this class that has lifted my spirits and filled my heart with fun and joy.

I went to  a different dance class yesterday. It was still full, inclusive and full of joy but the shift was on learning specific technique to improve your personal dance. It was lead and facilitated by a very experienced and qualified dance teacher. She very skilfully unpicked a move, described and made us apply technique and then layered this move up so we started to dance. We were watched and gently critiqued so we all went home feeling we had made some progress and had something to work on!

I do dance at home but not as much as I used to. There was a time in my life when I was always striving to improve my dancing both technically and creatively and I would dance every day. I attended as many workshops as possible and had numerous private lessons to improve my dance.
My dance perspective was always to be as best as I could possibly be particularly when out dancing in front of an audience. I think I took the same approach as a teacher always seeking to offer something new to support my class with also striving to be the best dancers they wanted to be.

As I have written before suddenly a couple of years ago I just lost my mojo. Dancing no longer felt full of joy and my first passion. It became a chore and not something I wanted to do so much. So apart from enjoying myself with dancing and drumming I just stopped. So for the past year and half I have taken up in the circle of the lovely local tribal group. Swishing, shimmying about and having fun. It’s been good to apply my dance skills to a different dance form and meeting some fabulous women to dance with.

So the dance session I went to yesterday was the first time I have done any real dance development for a long time. All enthusiastic afterwards coming home in the car a dance friend and I were discussing the view of seeking more dance development. As soon as this discussion started it all my old knowledge and experience surfaced and I was back there wanting to be a dance leader. I then got into how to organise, where and how would we do more dancing and how would it fit into the belly dance world of friends and social groups and sensitivities at wanting to pursue something more than the local dance offer. I started to think about all that I had to offer as a dancer and dance teacher and to review my CV of hard work and dance study and commitment I have put in over the years both as a dancer and teacher. I wanted to be in it all again.
I came home thinking about workshops and events whether I could set up a class. And you know what? I started to get really stressed about it all.
Here are some of my stressed out head thoughts:
– If I taught I would want a local class and there are already a couple of local teachers and classes I wouldn’t want to stand on toes or upset anyone and anyway why would anyone come?
– Perhaps I could go further afield to a teacher for my personal development? How would I manage such a long drive and anyway it’s the same night. Also what would you do with it? Wouldn’t folk think you were just becoming an arrogant know it all dancer with little talent?
– If I organise a workshop it could end up costing lots and anyway could I organise workshops and haflas if I don’t teach?
– Organising events are really stressful
– If I organise anything people will think she’s right up herself and hate me

Super stressed I have become and I do not like this Jude. I remember of old and she’s not good company to be with. She critiques every dance experience and wants to keep striving for more and better and better all the time. This is how I burnt out and lost my mojo before.
I am so upset with myself and poking about and in my head upsetting the constant I have worked hard at of turning up smiling, taking no responsibility, passing no judgements or views based on knowledge experience or otherwise and dancing for fun.

It has reminded me of all the reasons I stepped away from the dance scene. I have to remind myself that there is some reality behind my stressed out thoughts. As a middle aged woman it is unlikely that many people would really want to come to my class. I am not a glam bendy Barbie and most folk are not interested in me sharing the knowledge and experience I have to offer. Also in my area there are already existing classes so setting up any new local class may offend folk I like and there is also probably no need for an Egyptian belly dance class. Unless I am prepared to drive a long way there is no local class for my serious dance development and I have been here frustratingly over and over again.
The trouble is once you have developed your skills and knowledge about a topic it is quite tricky not wanting to pursue development to improve. You know what you know and not using your knowledge can be quite frustrating. So a little bit more of structured dance development wouldn’t go a miss. Perhaps I need to sit back and hope that someone might make an offer or dangle something nearby.
For now I think I will concentrate in my drumming and indeed my dancing drum solo for next performance! I welcome suggestions thoughts or ideas though …… what are all us not bendy barbies but middle aged and passionate about dancing but want a little more than social dancing supposed to do?

Musings on bringing up boys

Just read my journal from last month …One day smallish boy will grow up into a really lovely young man but for now he is just in silly pants mode. Realised I was about to write the same thing again! The word Twat seems to be major feature in smallish boy’s world at the moment. Excluded twice in a month for using it.
Smallish boy is funny quirky and witty. He tells daft stories, has zany ideas. He seems to be liked at school and has nice group of mates. But he has decided to become the class clown. I have become the Mum of clichés. “You won’t be laughing when you leave school with no qualifications and no job and your fiends have moved on” “I can’t see anything funny in your behaviour” The only person you are hurting is yourself” You letting yourself down, your Mum down and the school down”. I laugh at the situation when I don’t feel like crying.
Mr K and I (Mr K being last part of the week Math’s teacher) are becoming close friends as he rings 3.30pm on the dot every Friday to tell me how bad smallish boy has been. I am thinking of sending him a Christmas card. I am popping into school so often I am definitely building a rapport with his school.
Exasperation is where I am at. This morning I yelled really loud. He grinned even more. He missed the school bus, I flick flacked him with my arms in the car and yelled more in complete and utter exasperation. He grinned more.
We come home this evening after I have insisted that I drive him home (I like the bus Mum it gives me time to think). We then spend an hour cooking together. Chopping vegetables, nattering, stirring and pottering around the kitchen. We discuss:
I might become a cleaner I like cleaning
Me: Snort!
All I really want is to live in an apartment with cats
Me: You like cats
What would you do if I became a pothead?
Me: Why have you smoked any?
No I don’t like smoking
If you were desperate would you mug your own mother?
Me: That would mean I would mug Gran!
Where do you think Dad is?
Me: Why ask me this?
Just wondering?
Me: In Scotland I presume
I point out here that real Dad has been mostly absent for last 12 years of the boys lives. But this last year he has phoned twice. Bit rubbish heh? Trouble is should this affect smallish boy? Is there a direct correlation between absent dad and needing to use the word Twat at school loudly?
Today’s ponderings were am I a bad mother as I am not stay at home Mum? If I was home boy would be in bedroom with headphones in but perhaps he wouldn’t so is my being at work a cause of him acting the fool and swearing in school.
I swear when I am really angry so I must be a really bad mother. I also took smallish boy and large boy to see alternative comedian on Saturday night who swears too so I am doubly bad Mum.
We do not ride bicycles nor swim. We don’t do competitive sports. All of this makes me a bad Mum. Well possibly not as smallish boy has started going to the gym after school after he has completed detentions.
But here is the thing. Boy sits in lounge with me on his phone. He has just eaten big plate of spaghetti Bolognese he has cooked with me. The house is warm. The Christmas tree sits in the corner of the room. We decorated it with big boy on Sunday and it is full of childhood happy memories of baubles and sparkle from Christmas past.
My lovely man, which let’s face it is caring kind gentle step dad pops his head around the door. I ask about homework, we discuss help with work experience and whether there is homework to do.
I think life is good in our family or indeed good enough. My parenting has to be good enough. It is certainly full of love, safety and kindness.
So I am feeling okay.
Smallish boys say:
Mum is you happy?
Me: yes darling are you?
No I am really depressed
Me: What about?
Everything!
He will drive me to drink!

I wrote the above a couple of days and three dententions and two  “I am so Disappointed Mrs McG” phone calls later. Sat on sofa tonight and long lost Dad phones. No sorry no explanation nothing. Smallish boy leaps up delighted and excited that his Dad has called. Unconditional   love works both ways heh?

A frazzled belly dancing fraud who irons shirts

Smallish boy is now taller than me and is aspiring to be taller than big boy so I shall have to think of new names, or perhaps not as smaller boy will always be small boy to me as I look up at him. He may be physically big but recently he is back physically trying to snuggle up to me on sofa , draping is long arms over me for hug, and at his Gran’s house ( no internet) wanting to sit on my lap, by my feet and not leaving me alone. Something is up but not sure what. Perhaps despite his nonchalant expression to it all he too has been bothered by his level of detentions and school exclusion for calling the Maths teacher a twat. You may laugh but in my world of super Mum it isn’t funny. I am keeping the plates spinning here and school is one plate that needs to keep spinning. It is a lovely school that cares and he needs to learn to reciprocate that care a bit more.

Meanwhile not heard a word from the other one. I must remember to text him. It is not that he is not in my thoughts it is just we keep different hours and he is either asleep or in lectures when I am awake. He is happy enough in his world of Uni life. I often wonder whether I should pursue him more. But I have brought up my son to be independent and go out into the world seeking out his passions, and find his own path in life. I am here if he needs me.

I haven’t blogged for ages and wanted to write today about being part of the squeezed generation or indeed about being Mum, partner, daughter, manager , student , hence the plate spinning activities or indeed is it juggling? Well in my world I normally do a miraculous job at keeping all these roles going. I am not convinced that I do any of them well but a good enough approach is getting me by, just but I am thinking this is not sustainable. I have reached appoint where I need to rethink what is happening about Jude and building in some personal resilience into my life.

Having just pinged off assignment number 2 to my tutor I am considering today how to shift my world about. Surely there has to be a way. So here is a little account of my last week:

• Elderly mother rings on Friday evening she is four hour drive away and not coping home alone and has to attend MRI scan. Despite the 100s of friends who insisted on visiting her a couple of years ago in hospital there is no one available to take her to scan. My mum is lovely and I casually and calmly tell her I will rearrange life to pop down to take her to said scan. Fall asleep on sofa wine in hand.
• Saturday I wake early and work with my lovely man on house chores and we have a little out and about couple time purchasing apple and pear tree and hanging out. Pack a bag ready for trip to Devon. Feel some relief that next week isn’t a school week so no shirts to iron or indeed detentions to respond to. Doesn’t stop me trying to have a serious Mum chat to smallish boy who takes no notice.
• Sunday hurtle done motorway to Plymouth and arrive to see brother with learning disabilities for quick chat about his life, recovery from recent operation and steam trains. Feel need to have some sea air so take small boy to the Hoe and have drink with lovely school friend Mo where amongst other things we swop tips on how to care for the elderly parents
• Monday its quick trip to packed town centre to purchase small boy grow man’s jeans and jacket with no VAT and large price tag. I madly grab some random clothing items to make me feel good (points win prizes) and to show some kind of professional image at work. Mother thinks I am over indulging self on presentation of said self-prizes and I whisk her out for drive and garden centre tea and cake. Full asleep in reclining chair – Mum has two I am asleep on old one and feel like an old woman!
• Tuesday is get Mum to scan day and I enjoy an hour in the Nuffield waiting room reading a magazine observing I do not get offered coffee, must be the differential of being NHS referred and private patient? I hurtle back up motorway for four hour drive home. Undertake food shop and cook tea.
• Wednesday is back to work day including a presentation to keen students who want to be social workers on The Care Act and safeguarding. No email Wednesday causes some dilemmas as I have an inbox full needing response. As much as I am pleased that smallish boy is now out and about I now have to make after work drive to neighbouring town to fetch him. Highlight of week is watching The Apprentice glass of wine in hand.
• Thursday more racing around work day. In between this trying to make phone calls and emails regarding sorting out some personal stuff. This includes a mass photocopy print off document adventure when I come home involving being logged out of bank account several times and large amount of swearing. I burnt the tea as builder turns up to give quote
• Friday is my day off so I get up at 6.30am to undertake my assignment. My one little bit of me time is going for the most beautiful autumnal walk with old friend. Deep breathe the views of the river and trees are gorgeous. Lovely man and I sort boring business out , pop out for a disappointing pub meal and fall asleep watching TV. Smallish boy reappears having been out on the town, gobby whilst being evasive about what he’s been up to.

Today is Saturday and I have happily finished my assignment. (It is a coaching and mentoring course L5).
When I started this blog it was going to be about Judee Tee the dancer but she went missing ages ago. In the last year I have stopped dance teaching so no regular class, hardly attended any events or performed and am managing to attend a fortnight tribal class. I am really enjoying doing a different kind of dance as I love the sisterhood of tribal and if lived somewhere with more regular classes I would attend every week. The group of women I dance with at this group are so lovely they have gone some way to repairing my personal experience of getting close to folk in the dance world and the hurt it caused me. Oh and I drum too again with a lovely group of people and drumming with such a nice group of folk just makes me smile. So it is not all doom and gloom! But I used to love Egyptian dance and the creativity and personal expression it brought me. It was for me an opportunity to create and connect my body and soul.

I am feeling an overweight unfit coach potato belly dancing fraud. I don’t know where Jude the passionate dancer has gone. Is it that in undertaking all the above which if you added the shirt ironing school drama is a normal week there is no room for Jude the dancer? Or is it that without the passion for it I don’t make the time? I looked at gym membership this morning. I know that I am stressed with work and am putting on weight and becoming unfit and middle aged. Work is taking its toll stress wise and I need to build up my personal resilience. I don’t feel good about myself. I hate gyms but I go to work in the dark and come in the dark exhausted, weekends are chores and catching up with lovely man and friends and family.
But as I am lying there with phone on Zumba time table what happened to Jude who dances? So I made myself get up. Not with great deal of zest or passion I add. I got the IPOD out and randomly danced for forty minutes. Myas, drops, snake arms, shimmies, camels the full works. I danced and danced and even to some cracking saiidi felt a little bit of judee tee coming back.
I think too much about it all. I am challenging myself to forget that past and negative experience dance world brought, forget that I am middle aged and no one wants to watch me, there is nowhere to perform or now I have moved to teach anywhere or anyone to teach. I am just going to dance like no one is watching to my favourite music to get fit and try and feel good about me again.
I have written this blog hoping that in the writing and perhaps the reading I may have to hold me to dancing account.

Happy dancing days