To cut a long story short - life was not going quite the way I planned. I am sure there are many people out there that had/have a life plan as they are growing up. If I were to follow the plan my friend's and I made in our teenage years, by now I should be married with a baby on the way living in a lovely little house with a puppy.
|Needless to say, that hasn't happened.|
There is a huge amount of pressure in our society to follow a certain path and complete a check list. House, marriage, babies etc. This in turn creates a surge of panic in many people (mostly women) if you get to 30+ and you haven't achieved these things. I certainly went through a moment of thinking, 'I'm nearly 30. Unemployed. Single and essentially homeless.' Things were to say the least rather bleak and I could've easily ended up in the elderly bum wiping hell again, however I stopped and thought about things differently.
I can't express enough the importance of giving yourself time to stop and think. During a Relax Kids session we teach the children to know how to stop, take a moment outside of their heads and come to terms with what's going on around them. We're all amazing at giving advice but don't often listen to it ourselves so with this in mind I decided to practice what I preach. The aim is to become an observer of your own thoughts without judging them. It's a bit like sitting in a cinema and watching your life on a screen - whilst sitting back and getting an objective point of view about what's happening. Then you get to weigh up what's going on and hopefully make some better, more rational decisions about stuff. So often we run around like crazy people without paying any attention to how things are making us feel. Instead of dealing with an issue, sometimes I can be found in flat denial and usually on Facebook. By actually giving yourself dedicated time just to be on your own each day (no phone, no books, nada) can make a huge difference to your perspective about things.
As my darling Dad so often asks me when i'm in a flap, 'Have you got your head stuck up your bum girl?' Usually the answer is yes. Therefore - take it out and look and look after yourself.
It is vital to anyone going through anything - to surround yourself with positive, happy people that want the best for you. You'll know when you're around negative influences. It drains you. There are times where we all have to suffer fools but if you have the option, choose to be around people that will treat you in the same way you want to be treated.
Naturally I have eaten my body weight in chocolate and wine... I could start banging on about how this is bad for you etc, but sod it. Sometimes you just need to eat the bl**dy cake and enjoy yourself.
Jobs can make people miserable. I understand we all need to make money, but sod spending all our time doing something that makes us thoroughly miserable. Life is too short. Be happy now. When I left my job I was terrified and as my close friends will tell you, I get ever so windy when i'm nervous. It has been a windy time. However, I am determined to make a living out of something that I a) believe in b) brings me joy c) brings others joy too. Sure, i've been tight for money but I'm getting there and it's worth it.
Where you live can have a positive impact on life. I lived in London for nearly a decade and made some amazing memories and even better friends, but it was exhausting. I missed the sea and green stuff, so I left. Sod it. Why not. Now i'm out in the countryside paying a third of the amount in rent and living closer to my family. When you're around people that have known you your whole life, you've got no choice but to be yourself. Sure, I'm approaching 30 and living with two complete strangers but they turned out to be amazing.
One of the biggest things that's helped is gratitude. Sometimes life is bloody awful, but there's always something to be grateful for. The more you are grateful - the more good stuff happens. Gratitude is key.
I'm aware that i'm banging on about my life - and quite rightly so you might not care about my cliche approaching 30 ramblings.I've been able to change things for the better because I have got an incredible group of friends, supportive family and have taught myself to be mindful and stop when I need to. But what about the people that don't have access to all that?
How are children prepared for such life events? I have to admit that when I was trying to cope with all of this at no point was I grateful for algebra or getting a 1A when I was 6. Don't get me wrong; obviously being numerate and literate are essential for day to day living. I also understand that parents have a great amount of responsibility in this area but let's remember though that some kids don't have that luxury.
However, I can't help but think that by ramming learning down children's throats in the way that we are isn't exactly going to help them with the big top ten stressful events. There has to be a place for teaching children about their emotional wellbeing and resilience. I have been supplying in some pretty rough areas of late and have witnessed a child be forced to stay in his soiled clothes after wetting himself, because he should've known better and bought his PE kit.(Age 5) I've seen children cry their eyes out because they can't do the maths test they were forced to do.(Aged 7) I've seen a little boy punch himself repeatedly because he 'hated school so much'. (Age 6)
What skills are we teaching kids that will help them get through the horror of being a teenager? Or getting bullied? Looking for a job? Self esteem when you get dumped? Confidence to get out of something when you know it's plain wrong? Losing someone they love? I'm fairly sure that 15 minutes of PSHE when we can fit it in, isn't covering it.
My point is (Finally! I hear you say...)is that we all need to teach these children the tools they need to get through life in general.
Teach them to take time out, make a change when they need to, deal with their emotions, be grateful, be themselves and enjoy life.
I'm not suggesting for a second that I'm old and wise now. I will continue to make mistakes and be a wally for a long time to come. But hopefully I'll deal with it better now.
I am delighted that I'll be offering Relax Kids classes soon in various forms. It as a shame to leave London when the momentum was strong, but life happens. East Anglia is about to have the love spread all over it like a big bit of buttery toast ... And I can't wait.