Proms in the Park is pretty cool

Rock music has always been my thing. Says she who listens to Ed Sheeran and James Blunt. But seriously, rock music is where it’s at. My Bon Jovi tattoo proves that. So when my friend said she had 2 tickets for Proms in the Park and would I go with her, I was a bit ambivalent about it.

Ambivalence or otherwise, last Saturday Ashna and I found ourselves in Hyde Park with just about the entire middle class of England, surrounded by more bottles of Prosecco than I think I’ve seen in a lifetime. Note to self – great time to do ‘one year no beer’ but I did stick to it so feel like I’m winning – and got ready to listen to the acts.

It was actually really cool. Ok in some cases, like when Lisa Stansfield came on, we were more concentrated on where her facelift ended and scraggy neck started, than her music, it wasn’t as entertaining as could be, but other acts made up for it.

The diversity of music and acts meant there was something for everyone, and other than having to listen to approximately 624 minutes of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, my most hated song of all time, we had a great time. We didn’t stay right until the end to sing ‘Land of Hope & Glory’, nor did we have EU flags to wave. This was a blessing though, as it means we managed to get a black cab back to where we’d parked the car (Just Park lied when it said our parking was a 15 min walk away) and we were home by 11pm. It’s official, we are old but I can live with that if it means I’m home by 11.

You never stop learning about your friends

It’s easy to think we know everything about our friends, particularly if we’ve known them for a long time or have been to school with them. However we all grow up and have a lot of different factors influence who we become as adults. I’ve had 2 experiences recently where I’ve really got to know my friends better.

One friend, who I’ve known for more than 20 years (yes, I am old), was diagnosed with ADHD once she was an adult. I’ve never really known much about ADHD, other than watching the episodes of Desperate Housewives, around 10 years ago, when Lynette’s child was diagnosed with ADHD and she went on to become addicted to his medication. It’s been so interesting chatting to my friend about her ADHD, learning that it’s not about how much someone runs around, but how their brain processes. She’s spoken to me about compulsive behaviour, how it affects her future planning etc and I feel that I know and understand her so much better for her having taken the time to explain this.

My other friend, colleague and technical wizard, spent an hour with me this week letting me interview him about having BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), how he was diagnosed and what this meant for him and others with this condition. I’ve known for a while that he has suffered from it and is mainly in recovery but until I sat quietly and listened to his story, I didn’t really know what having BDD meant to him.

Having spent this time with friends and them having the patience to explain to me has been a great experience for all of us. For them to feel heard, really heard and understood, and for me to understand a bit more about what makes them, them and the struggles that they may be having on any given day.

Negativity only outweighs positivity if you let it

I’ve read a lot of articles over the years which all state along the lines of: it takes 9 positive comments to outweigh 1 negative one. I know this behaviour is not exclusive to me but what is it that makes us hang onto negativity? Possibly because it feeds our fears and we wonder whether there’s truth in it. Or because we live in a society where we’re not meant to shout about our good points or successes and therefore it’s easier for negativity to get through.

Earlier this week, out of the blue, I received a glowing recommendation on my Facebook Page from one of my recent website clients. Everything he said was so lovely and very true of the service I offer. Within a couple of minutes I also received a, quite frankly, sh*tty message from my ex-husband. Which one do you think had more impact on my day?

For a few minutes it was the horrible message from my ex. Then I spoke to my partner, got a hold of myself and realised that it really didn’t matter. What mattered was that a client I’d loved working with, had loved working with me, had taken the time to recommend me, which makes a massive impact on whether others use me or not and reading the recommendation really brightened my day.

Hopefully this will be a marker and from now on I’ll leave the negativity in the bin, where it belongs and celebrate the positives and successes, as they deserve.

I am a rubbish student

Any of my teachers who taught me between the ages of 12 & 18 could have told you this. Once I hit 18 and went into adult education it was a completely different story. Learning as an adult, where I was treated like an adult suited me very well and I went on to get credits, merits and distinctions in all my diplomas. Continuing the education theme, I spent a few years working as a TA and then, during my 8 years in Communications & Marketing, went on to train others in how to use Social Media for their schools, running workshops and offering one-to-one training.

Generally the base rules of Marketing are the same then you make adjustments across industries to suit the business and audience of whatever you’re promoting. I thought I’d be fine when I set up This Demanding Life, after all I used to train others in using Social Media for marketing, therefore I could do it for myself.

Thing is, doing it for someone else and doing it for yourself are 2 separate concepts. Last year a lot of stuff that I don’t write about, went on, leading to a massive loss of confidence and it’s taken a long time to get on with work and marketing and building a successful future in my industry. Not least so my kids and I can eat and afford shoes. Feeling unconfident with my Social Media and knowing I’m not getting the best use out of it I signed up to an online Social Media course. This was weird in the beginning as I’ve, in the past, written and hosted online Social Media courses.

There were a few things that made me choose this particular course – I had been following Molly Gunn, of Selfish Mother for years, pretty much since she first set up. Then she launched the FMLY store, which I’ve bought a load of tops from. I love her Social Media, her ethos, her promising you can have a work-life balance so when she launched her new courses, it felt very right to sign up to it.

The Social Media course landed in my inbox on Monday. It’s a short course, comprising 6 10 – 15 min videos and a workbook. On Monday I cleared my schedule, got a cup of tea, sat down to watch the first module, was really inspired by what Molly was saying. It’s not that it was particularly new information, it’s that I had forgotten to apply it to me. I sat down with the workbook and……. that’s where I still am, 4 days later. I so want to do this course but I am an utterly rubbish student in that I will always find something to do instead. I’m consoling myself by reminding myself that my partner signed up to an online course back in April and still hasn’t got past module one so he wins in the procrastination battle. Although perhaps this is a battle neither of us should want to win and perhaps we should just get on and finish our courses.

Everybody has their breaking point

As a single mum I am more aware of coming across as a ‘hot mess’ (love that term) than I was when I was living with my ex-husband. I don’t know if it’s because some days I can feel more judged for being a single mother, than I was as a married mother. I don’t feel that logistics are more difficult as a single mum. It can be a case of swapping one set of complications for another. I don’t have to juggle having someone living with me in the house, I only have to think of me and the boys, however there are different challenges. For example popping out to the shops means I have to take the boys with me, even if it’s bedtime, they’re in pjs and have to wait in the car while I pop to Tesco.

The realities of having to do everything yourself is that sometimes the ball gets dropped. Last year I had to miss one child’s Nativity because the other child was ill and at home with me. Sometimes the house isn’t as clean and tidy as I’d like it to be, because I’m running it alone and juggling the wants and needs of my children, communicating with and shuttling them to and from their Dad’s house. On top of that, there’s my partner and his daughter to consider. When you get used to doing all this on your own, it can be hard to let go and ask for help. My partner’s amazing at stepping in, looking after the kids, tidying the house etc. Luckily he does this of his own accord because I find it difficult, really difficult to ask for help.

When things stack up, especially around busy times like now; when the kids have all returned to school, and we’re trying to balance diaries, plan their birthday celebrations, alongside their other parents, and people keep mentioning the dreaded ‘Christmas’ word, I can feel overwhelmed and hit breaking point.

For me breaking point was the saucepan cupboard. Yes really. On our last camping trip I forgot to pack pots and pans and had to stop at a Tesco Extra to buy the biggest wok, saucepan and colander I could find. Had I known that 24 hours later I would set fire to the gas stove and nearly send the tent up in flames, I would have reconsidered and ordered take-away. When we got home I added the new pans to the cupboard, crammed the door shut and hoped for the best. While it wasn’t ideal, I managed to live with it for a couple of weeks, strategically planning that the pots would only be used/washed up/put away when my partner was here so he could do it.

Yesterday morning was the breaking point. In a busy week, involving multiple trips to the car garage, a failed MOT, realising my son’s trainers were at his Dad’s house on a day we needed them, his wellies (needed that second) for Forest School, were 2 sizes too small and we were all running late, I went to the cupboard and decided in that minute, that I couldn’t live with this anymore. It’s funny what we fixate on. After dropping the boys at school I came home, reordered the cupboard without negatively thinking that it would all come undone the minute I needed a pan in a hurry and it set me up for the day. Ok I didn’t get shed loads of work done, but I did get the house in order and doesn’t the saying go along the lines of ‘tidy house, tidy mind’. Let’s hope it’s true.