March On

Up until some time ago, I never really gave the concept of friendship that  much thought. I was never one to have a whole list of friends. Quite to the contrary, I always had a small number of friends I counted as real ones, and the rest were just acquaintances – people I would not share more than a ‘hello’ or a smile with.

The younger you are, the more important it seems to have lots of friends. The number of friends you have seems to be directly proportionate to how popular or unpopular you are at school. The bigger the posse, the more high-up the fame-scale you find yourself.

With university, your friends change. Friends you leave behind for different courses or work are soon replaced with new ones, and only the treasured few remain as true friends. It only makes sense that the new people you share new experiences with become new friends, ones who can understand what you are going through, and who you find yourself confiding more and more in.

And then you start dating, and you get married and you have children, and suddenly you realize  that you have become isolated from everyone and everything. When children come in the scene, you are so involved as a mother, that all the rest seems unimportant. You lose yourself as a person at times, and the only conversation you can hold seems to revolve around feeds, nappy changes and the colour of the baby’s stools. When I had Cesca I was not working at the time. I was a stay-at-home wife, still discovering a new country and being happy with baking and watching television. When she arrived, my life was all hers. I used to force myself to shower, change and get out of the house, and when we visited Malta, I found that I had lost so much of myself. My conversation was boringly all about babies. I had become the person I never wanted to be. Only then did I realize how important working and being round people was for me.

So I did what I could and changed that. I found a new line of work, I met new people and I very slowly began finding myself again. Being a mother is a gift, but it is also very tiring and draining. I was ‘mummy’ all the time, and I had truly forgotten what the old “Josepha” liked and who she was.

And so came another change. I found new me-time, I made new friends, and I started opening up more and more. I made a new set of friends and realized that adults need friends. We need to be around similar-minded grown-ups and be able to moan, complain, joke and laugh around them. Life is so crazy at times, we need to know that it is not only us and our situation which are chaotic, but others are actually going through the same things.

There is something liberating in being able to meet up with a group of friends over dinner and a bottle of wine, or even a quick cup of coffee and discussing every topic under the sun, without feeling guilty about leaving the husband or children behind.

I do believe in balance. Between work and family, I had so little time for myself. So I did what I could and I made the time. And I threw all the guilt I could possibly feel out of the window.

Take yourself as a whole. Now remove the mother part of you, the wife part of you, the daughter part of you, the worker part of you. What are you left with? I am still not left with much, but I am content that the little I now have is much more than what I had a couple of years ago. And it fulfills me a hundred times more.

So any opportunity I have to be just me, I seize. Being able to recharge as a person after meeting up with friends, or going out with my husband alone, makes me a calmer and better person for it.

Again, no guilt.

None.

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Own It!

Have you ever found yourself starting to say something and stop yourself before you do? There are many situations when I think something, disagree with someone or really want to say something but don’t. I keep quiet and keep my thoughts to myself.

And then I ask myself why I don’t just say what I want and mean to say.

Maybe it’s the looks I am afraid of gathering, maybe it’s the reaction I don’t want to see. Whatever it is, this holding back bothers me. I have always been a strong believer of saying what you believe in and owning it. Yet sometimes I can’t even practice what I believe in.

So yes, I do spend time on Facebook, and yes I do play Candy Crush Saga. I also buy ridiculous items on sale which I never use and I then remove tags and receipts to make it less obvious to anyone other than me.

I still love reading a trashy fiction book every once in a while, and deep down I know I’m not the ideal housewife. Cooking is sometimes a chore, and I do sometimes keep the girls quiet with sweets in order to get something done round the house.

I love seeing other people’s photos on Facebooks, more so if they’re not my friends. I am constantly filling up online shopping bags on every site I know of, not necessarily resulting in a purchase. And I procrastinate, too much for my own good at times.

Phew!

What about you?

 

Self-care

I’m liking the way my year is turning out to be. For the first time in a really long time, if ever, I am in a happy place. I’m appreciating my life and those in it. I’m proud of myself for taking the step of ridding myself of what I do not need. I’m embracing the positive and shunning the rest. I’m moving forward, skipping actually, perhaps with less people around me but with an overall much better aura.

The decision to stop pleasing others and focusing on myself proved to be the turning-point. Perhaps it’s my age or reaching a saturation point of sorts, but my priorities have changed and with them, my life has shifted. I have come to realize that any time spent on things or people who are not worth it, is wasted time. I have given up on past friendships not with any antagonism, not at all. I just choose to spend the time I have with friends and family who give me something worth holding onto. It is a hard decision giving up on something or someone who meant so much to you in the past. But when you do so, the feeling of lightness and rightness which accompanies the action, is mind-lifting.

I do not care for any bull in my life. At 36 years of age, I finally know what I want in my life. And I consider myself fortunate to have people in my life who can and are giving it to me. Gone are the times when I used to set off, going out of my way to please someone, without any acknowledgment, thanks or reciprocated action. How many times have I done something for someone, only for them to shun away when I used to ask for something in return? We are all humans. We all expect help from our close ones in times of need. And when your priorities are not theirs, then there is a problem.

In every post I have written this year, I have always said how this year was going to be my year. I made it a priority to better my life and myself . It was not easy and it took hard work and keeping my eyes on the prize to move forward. Today I am with less people around me. I probably come across as sometimes direct and abrupt. But I am no less sensitive. than I was before. I am not crass or arrogant.  I only choose more carefully when to show what side of me.

I have, in a way, spring-cleansed my life. I have opened up myself, let the negative air and presences go out, and allowed the positive in my life. I have found the courage to admit to myself what I want out of this life, whom I want in my life, and what I need to do to achieve my own peace, and I’m slowly getting there.

I will not apologize for this. I am looking out for myself and my own. I suggest you try doing this. Clarify what and who you want in your life, and set out the way to achieve it.

I am telling you – the feeling is great.

I may not be doing it right. This may be the least correct way of doing it, but what works…works.

 

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This is not about hate or disrespect. It’s about self-care.

 

Bear with me

I haven’t stopped writing due to lack of words. Just shortage of time.

I start a post in my head, but then life takes over and I only remember about my forgotten post when the girls fall asleep. It’s then postponed to the day after, which never ever arrives.

So many words, so little time.

Therefore today I chose to the let the girls run riot in our living room. They’re currently throwing soft toys at each other and I’m sure Bettina just spilt the glass of water I gave her, on the carpet (baby cups are not enough for her). But I’m staying here.

And allow me to say the following:

Children are exhausting.

I said that to someone today, and I received an arched-eyebrow look, followed by, “But the feeling they give you when they give you a hug is irreplaceable”.

Yes I know, I replied. But one can’t deny that children are tiring, expensive and noisy.

At that point the lady in question gave me a (very short) nod and changed the conversation, and I decided to shut my mouth, because any more words from me and I’d probably have been reported to the child protection unit for lacking in my maternal duties.

But be honest – children consume everything. Mine do at least. As much as I adore these two little munchkins, I have to admit that sometimes they’re nothing short of little monsters. They choose the worst moments to start a fight, they never seem to tire, and someone always is hungry at the very moment they’re put to bed, or dirty when we’re just going out.

I repeat the same words every single day, every single hour.

“Not now”, “Can you put your sister down please?”, “Your food is getting cold”, “Bettina, spit that coin out!”, “Cesca, where’s your sister?”, “Chocolate is not proper food”…I can go on and on.

By the time they eat, wash, change and put to bed, we the poor parents are exhausted. But then duties never stop, because then you have to read them a story-book, pick up the toys, tidy the living-room and hope you get a couple of minutes of quiet-time on the sofa and say a word or two to your partner before one of you falls asleep. Unless one of the girls has a nightmare, or insists that one book is not enough because it was a short story etc etc etc.

I sometimes start thinking of how much the girls cost us. Which I stop doing after a couple of quick calculations, because I start feeling guilty and panicky. Bad mummy moment, I guess.

I write this post after a crazy day at work, with two kids who have now thankfully been mesmerised by Nick Jnr, and a house which needs a good tidy-up. Is there any mother who has a tidy house, or is it just me? The laundry bins are always full and there’s always something on the floor. And when I stop and think for a moment that, “Oh, I seem to be on top of things at the moment”, I totally jinx it all. Everyone is suddenly hungry, fighting, crying, thirsty, dirty and only mama’ can fix everything.

Nowadays my idols are mothers. I see them, hear their stories, see them rush about, work and cope, and they give me hope that I can do this as well. I see fellow mummies with a toddler throwing a tantrum, and I give them what I hope is a look of solidarity and courage. We’ve all been there sister. We all try and emerge from the crazy moments in one whole piece. We have no choice really, but we manage. That’s why we rock.

I’ll stop writing this rant now, just in time to perhaps enjoy a minute or two or quiet before Wallykazam finishes.

All facts narrated are true ones. No children were harmed during the writing of this post. Despite their messy and loud nature, they’re still queens of the household. No need to call the police.

 

 

Stick To Your Guns

I wanted to make 2016 a different year. For as long as I can remember January was always the time when I made resolutions I knew I would never keep. It’s always been the usual resolutions – losing weight, start saving more, stop buying unnecessary items etc. This year I was dead-set upon one thing. I wanted to focus more on me.

I was going to be my own priority.

Nearly two months into the new year, I am thrilled to have stuck to my guns. I have started and continued new rituals which are helping me in more ways than one. I have stopped finding and using silly excuses to get out of doing something which may not be that easy.

I have started training. Yes, me, training. Bar a couple of years doing aerobics, I have never consistently trained in my life. My body had become one big mass of laziness. I was 35 years old and I was struggling to walk uphill. I knew something had to change when mornings had become my own personal hell, with nothing fitting me well and everything straining to contain the whole of me.

Then, six weeks ago, with the help of an awesome friend, we both started training. We are each other’s rock and help, and we now do what we never thought we could even start. We wake up at an ungodly hour yes, but we manage to spend a whole hour sweating our arses off. And finally, after six hard weeks, my body is starting to change. My tight trousers are now a little loose, and my mummy-tummy (16 months after giving birth) has finally started to go in, without me straining to hold my breath in to contain the whole of me. But more than the physical aspect of it all is perhaps the realization that we are truly helping our body change for the better. With the help of our trainer and the beautiful ladies who attend training with us, I have come to realize how pathetic the excuses I would say to myself really were. I used to complain with not finding time to work on myself, but I now know that it was just an excuse to not wake up early. We all have time to do what we want or what needs to be done. We just need to find it and use it. Nowadays my days start earlier, but the positive outlook the rest of the days have is truly amazing. My days are more productive and strangely enough, I am more recharged and ready to go. Only now can I really understand the difference exercise makes to our mental health. For that alone, waking up early is worth it.

I’ve also started trying to stick to small rituals which might seem insignificant to some, but to me it means a world of difference. I go to yoga every other week, I have made it my own personal mission to properly cleanse, tone and moisturize my face every day. I’ve invested in some products which help me take care of the physical me. My nails are getting done regularly now, and I had some inches cut from my hair which have made me feel lighter and younger.

One other thing I’m trying to do is to stop being a people-pleaser. I am trying to do what I like and enjoy doing, and I try to stop myself from going out of my way to please others who I know aren’t appreciative of the fact. God knows how many times I’ve said yes to people, only to have that fact gone by without a single thank-you or an inch of gratitude. So nowadays, I don’t respond ‘yes’ immediately. I still struggle yes, but I pause and think about whether I really want to do that particular thing or not.

Coming to think of it, we spend so much time focusing on others – be them parents, children, spouses, friends. Is it so bad to want to be a bit selfish in your behaviour and just please no one but yourself?

 

2016, here we go!

It (only) took me eight days to wish you a happy new 2016! With work, some travelling, Cesca having her Christmas holidays, some new teeth for Bettina and preparing for Christmas, life was pretty hectic, hence my absence.

We had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Tuscany, this time round going to Lucca, Montepulciano, Cortona, Montalcino and the picturesque Pienza! The scenes, food and wine were beyond great, and thankfully everything went well. There were some uncomfortable moments flying out to Italy with Bettina when we had to tie her in the plane seat with me and her seat-belt, but thankfully food won her over and proved to silence and quiet her for a couple of moments.

Everyone is settled back into their routine now. I started work again, as did A, Cesca is back to school and Bettina is back to staying with Nanna during the day. Also, our kitchen is functioning once again after a much-appreciated break. Since all our bodies were all craving some simple soups, I wasn’t in for that much work. However after three soup meals, we needed something more concrete than a liquid meal, so yesterday I tried out this recipe, choosing to leave out the rice and leave it a prawn and potato dish. I added some thyme, some substituted the fresh coriander with the dried bit, and it truly came out delicious! The best part is that it does not take up that much work and you can leave it cooking slowly whilst you do something else (in my case it was feeding the girls and tidying up the kitchen).

As for new year’s resolutions I haven’t done any really, knowing fully well that I always fail in keeping them for more than a couple of days. My only wish is that I take care of myself, physically and mentally, a bit better. So I will try to properly wash my face every other day, instead of using the lazy girl’s option for cleaning my face – make-up removal wipes. I am not going to use the word ‘diet’ because that never works. But I will try and be more away of what I consume and eat. And as hard as it is, I will start finding half an hour a day, at least a couple of times a week, to go out for a walk. My level of exercise is sadly zilch. To be honest, it is not something I can do anything about, because my day is fully packed and jammed between school, work, the house and cooking. I sometimes joke that I need to set in toilet breaks in my schedule. Which in all honest would not be a bad idea. But I will try and find thirty minutes, children-free and just get out and walk. The weather is really beautiful at the moment, and I do believe that nothing works for

a healthy mindset than getting out in the open and wander around. So this I will truly try and hold on to.

Is there something you’re holding yourself to do/not do in 2016? Yesterday I read that if you keep doing something regularly for thirty straight days, your mind sets it as a habit and you become accustomed to doing it. So I’m setting small goals so hopefully I’ll have small victories to celebrate.

So stay healthy and happy dear friends. Let’s hope 2016 will be a peaceful ones, for us, our family and friends.

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Cesca’s eyes speak volumes about the way she feels about her sister 🙂 

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No filter needed.

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I swear her clothes, her Dumbo and her hands managed to gather every speck of dirt Tuscany had to offer.

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A beautiful read. If you can translate it, I suggest you do so. Wise words!

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Cortona’s hot chocolate.

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It’s like we wind them up , and then zoom they’re off!!

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Chickpea soup never looked so good.

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My everything.

 

 

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She’s a lucky girl indeed.

Let Them Go

There comes a point where you have to just let it go.

The first and most difficult step is realizing that things change, situations alter you and your perspective and thoughts change in the process.

The ‘you’ of ten years ago did things differently than ‘you’ today. You may live in a different village now, you may have a family, you may have certain life experiences under your belt, you may have been hurt, loved, betrayed, forgiven, you may have hurt others yourself and learnt from it. Small knicks that shape your life and make you the ‘you’ of today.

You may think that some people will remain in your life forever. But it is not so.

I have learnt this lesson through several episodes in my life. More so recently.

So as much as it hurts, I accept that we all change and we all move forward. I will treasure some people and my memories of them in my heart forever. I will smile and laugh when I remember past times, but I will not stay stuck in the past. I will not wallow in sadness and cry for the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and the ‘what-if’s’. We are all responsible for our actions. We take our decisions and we move on.

The most important thing is letting go without regrets. It’s waking up in the morning with a clear conscience, knowing you did what you could, and realizing that sometimes you can’t fight for something alone.