Author Archive for Sally

Isolation tales – week one what I’m grateful for and what I’m trying to be better at…

Hi!  How are you all doing?  Such a strange, scary, crazy time out there at the moment and I hope and pray that you and your families are keeping safe and well.  I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past couple of weeks feeling sad, worried, anxious for our family and our wider family and friends and worried for all of the small businesses out there but I’m trying to change my mindset a little to also focus on the positives now.  With that said, and with a determination not to make this blog all doom and gloom, I thought I’d share with you a few of the things I’ve felt thankful for this week and some new things I’m trying to do to help me cope which might be of help to you too….

Things I’m grateful for this week…

Having the kids at home – like all of us I think I was wondering how this one would pan out but so far it’s actually going ok.  We seem to have settled into a routine of doing the set school work in the morning and then being outside and having free time in the afternoon. I’m well aware that this is only week one of how ever many weeks of being at home but for now I’m enjoying the extra time with them.

The sunshine – hasn’t the weather literally been a ray of sunshine this week!  It’s so nice to wake up to the sun streaming in and be able to spend afternoons in the garden and get some fresh air with the dog.  Although I’m finding keeping two metres apart from everyone else with the same idea a little stressful while out walking…

Poppy & Primrose Blog

Time to work on the ‘admin’ side of my business – at the beginning of this week I made the decision to shut my shops and website for a little while.  Going out to the post office was getting more and more difficult and seemed unnecessary and while I’m always sad not to be open for new orders my website has been due an update for a long while and I never seem to have time for all of the blogs and newsletters that I have ideas for in my head so maybe now’s the time to get those things done.

Poppy & Primrose Blog

Watching Motherland on iPlayer – I’ve been recommended this show a few times in the past but not got around to watching it.  It’s exactly the light relief I’ve needed in the evenings and if you’re a school mum too it’ll have you laughing out loud.

Spring cleaning – it feels good to get the windows and doors open finally and give everything a really good clean.  I say everything, I’ve spring cleaned one bathroom so far but small steps and big plans and all that.

Poppy & Primrose Blog

Knitting – knitting has always been a bit of a saviour to me when I’m feeling anxious.  Having something to do with my hands is really calming to me and it stops me reaching for my phone and scrolling yet more depressing news!

And things I’m trying to be better at…

Reading – Truth be told my anxious mind has struggled to concentrate on reading recently but I have started The Tattooist of Auschwitz and whilst it’s a bit harrowing in places I’m enjoying it so far (that sentence doesn’t sound quite right but you know what I mean!) .  If I find the story is not helping my mental state very much I may need to switch to some chic lit for a while though!

Poppy & Primrose Blog

Stepping away from my phone – Instagram for me is uplifting, I find inspiration and a sense of community there.  Facebook and various news sites are not, I have been spending far too much of my time lately Googling and reading horrible news stories and needless to say it hasn’t been doing me any good.  I’m trying to have set times in the morning and evening now to catch up and only look at necessary news headlines and positive stories.

Being better at food management – nothing like not being able to get all of your usuals in Tesco to make you realise how lucky you normally are, appreciate what you have and attempt to waste nothing!  I’m enjoying meal planning and batch cooking and keeping my fingers crossed that the limited choice might sort out some fussy eating issues we might have pandered to in the past (including my own!).

Poppy & Primrose Blog

Remembering to pray rather than worry alone – faith and prayer is very important to me and usually something that comes naturally, I pray about everything from car parking spaces to more serious issues but in this time of crisis I’ve found the words haven’t come so easily.  Instead of sinking into a pit of worry I’m trying to give my concerns over to prayer, trust and  reading. 

Exercise – like almost every family we know we have been joining in with #pewithjoe on and off this week and aside from the fact that it made me ache in muscles I never knew I had (I thought it was going to be a kids work out when I agreed to join in) it’s been great.  I walk a lot with the dog but it would be good to get back into my Couch to 5k app again as part of my daily exercise.  Taking this one slowly though, no pressure!

Journaling – this is an absolute newbie to me.  I love an appointment diary and a good old to do list but writing about my feelings is a whole new concept.  I’ve heard a lot about ‘morning pages’ and journaling and didn’t think it was for me but I’m going to give it a go.  I’m figuring that this time in my life might be something I might want to look back on at some time and knowing how you have coped with things in the past can be very helpful going forward I think.

Phew… that’s it for now.  Personally, I’m finding it really helpful reading about how others are adapting to their new routines and what coping measures they have in place so I hope this might have been a bit useful for you to read but I also think it’s important to remember that we’re all bound to have days during this time when we can’t muster the energy to do anything other than just get through and that is absolutely ok.  We all need to take care of ourselves right now.  Don’t forget I’m always up for a chat on Instagram if you fancy it… 

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Love

Sally xxx

 

Happy 2020 – My (very loose) goals for the New Year

New Year resolutions – do you make them?? I saw someone post that new year on Instagram is hilarious. Open one post and it’s telling you to make all the goals, be better, achieve more etc etc and then open another one and It’s all about acceptance, staying as you are, not needing to change and appreciating where you’re at. Isn’t that so true, we are bombarded with these types of quotes and sayings, is it any wonder we end up feeling despondent if we listen too closely to any of them.

Personally, I think I’m somewhere in between these two examples.  I get a little bit excited about setting goals and making lists for a new week so I have to admit I do like to think a bit about what might be on my to do list for the new year but for the most part, I have to say that if me and my family stay happy and healthy for another year then I’ll be pretty happy too  – I’m a simple soul at heart.

So here’s a little summary of things I’m hoping to focus on in 2020. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself but they are things I want to be important to me – I hope they aren’t too cliché…

TRY NOT TO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

I think this one makes it onto my list almost every year.  I am a massive worrier and a lot of the wonderful times in our lives, holidays, trips etc end up being overshadowed for me by my worry.  I always tend to focus on what could go wrong rather than be excited for what’s to come and I really want to try not to be like that all the time.  On that note I kind of want to combine this one with ‘more fun family times’ as a goal too, we had some amazing holidays and days out last year and I’m so grateful for them.

Aldeburgh beach – so beautiful!

READ MORE WITH AUDIO BOOKS

Is listening to an audio book still reading??  I’m not sure… I love reading fiction but recently I’ve been getting more into self-development type podcasts and blogs and I want to start listening to audio books while I work too so that I can be expanding my knowledge and learning while I’m working, cleaning or going about my daily life.  I’ve downloaded Audible and I’m ready to go, please do let me have any of your audio book recommendations in the comments or on Instagram, I’m very open to suggestions.

DO MORE YOGA

I started getting into yoga a couple of years ago and I have been sporadic with it to say the least.  However, an increasingly bad back and neck from sewing so much is forcing me to realise I need to make this more of a priority in my life because it really does help.  The time that works best for me is first thing in the morning before anyone else gets up, I’ve learned that if I think I’ll do it later in the day it just won’t get done.   So I’m setting my alarm for 6am and attempting around 25 minutes a day at least, I’ve been following Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube and I’m really enjoying them.  I really hope I stick to it – watch this space…

START RUNNING AGAIN

A couple of years ago I followed the Couch to 5k app on my phone in April with the goal to run a 5k Race for Life in July.  I can honestly say that I felt so good while I was running, I ran the 5k in a good time and felt so proud that I had achieved my goal but guess what, as soon as that Race for Life was over I stopped running – I need a goal.  So this year I am going to sign up again and I’m thinking of doing the 10k – after all you don’t have to run all the way so no pressure right?  I’m looking forward to getting back into it, I really want to try and make fitness a higher priority this year.

POPPY & PRIMROSE

Name bunting was still one of my best sellers last year 🙂

I always feel as though I should be growing my business, expanding and getting bigger but at the end of last year I came to the conclusion that actually, maybe I don’t.  My goal with this way of working was always that I wanted to be around for the children while they are still young and at school but also to make some extra income to help us out at the same time and I’m so grateful to say that at the moment that’s what the business is.  That’s not to say that I don’t want to change a few things this year.  I want to change my product range, update it, introduce more products, blog more and spend more time on photography because I actually enjoy the creativity of photography and blogging. 

I’ll maybe want to grow the business when my children are older of course, I have some plans in mind but all in good time.

SECRET LIFE OF A SEAMSTRESS

YouTube – Secret Life of a Seamstress

Just before Christmas I started a new blog just for my dressmaking and I absolutely love it!  I also started guest blogging for a few fabric companies which was so much fun and it has been so lovely to connect with other people who love sewing as much as I do.  I also launched a YouTube channel alongside the blog to talk about my makes and hopefully to eventually to start some tutorials and teaching.  This has given me so much joy so far and I really want to continue to grow these outlets and see where they take me.  I’ll pop the links down below if you’re interested in having a look and following along with that aspect of my sewing.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

CEO of My Own Life Planner @ellaiconic

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to grow or be better or aim high but I also think it’s extremely important to be thankful for what you have in the here and now and I want to continue to write down one thing each day that I’m grateful for, I started doing this last year and it really is such a great thing to do.  My current planner has space for me to do this so that should remind me.

Phew, I think that’s about it.  Really hoping I can at least keep up the fitness goals until February 😉

I’d love to know what your new year goals and resolutions are – please do comment below or on Instagram and let me know.

Lots of love as always

Sally xx

Secret Life of a Seamstress Blog – www.secretlifeofaseamstress.co.uk

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World Mental Health Day – My struggle with Emetophobia…

Hi, I’m Sally and I have a phobia of being sick, or to use the proper, medial term I suffer with Emetophobia.  If you know me you will probably have no idea I struggle so much with this, I’ve got pretty good at hiding it over the years.  If you’re my husband, a close family member or a very close friend you’ll be well aware of how much this has affected me over the years and how it still affects me now – although I’m now much better at dealing with it.   

It started when I was about 14 and in high school, a friend of mine asked me if I was ok because I looked pale.  This triggered something in me which had obviously been there, underlying, waiting to come out.  I panicked, OMG I was pale, I was almost certainly coming down with a sickness bug I needed to get out of there fast.  I went to the school nurse complaining of feeling ill and was sent home.  I spent a lot of that afternoon feeling very sick with anxiety but I wasn’t actually physically sick.  From then on, out of nowhere at my young age of 14, when I was least expecting it, crippling panic would grip me.  I would be out and suddenly panic that I was away from home, away from my comfort zone – what if I was sick in front of everyone – I needed to go!!  At first my parents thought I was actually suffering from a bug – the only way I could describe my feelings to them was to say I felt sick.  I did feel sick but it wasn’t because I was ill it was because I was having a panic attack.  My panic attacks usually involve me feeling sick, weak, feeling breathless and shaking uncontrollably. All this began around Christmas time and it was easy to think that perhaps when Christmas was over things might calm down and I’d start to feel better.  I didn’t…

From then on, I would still have the panic attacks and the fear of being sick began to creep into how I ate.  I would avoid certain foods, worry about best before dates, how things had been cooked and whether I’d eaten something ‘bad’ without realising.  I also began to eat less believing that the less that was in my stomach the less likely I’d be to throw up and I started to wash my hands excessively for fear of germs.  People began to notice that I was eating less and losing weight and given my age tended to assume that it was some kind of teenage body image related eating disorder – in reality body image couldn’t have been further from my mind.

I saw the school nurse for some counselling, it didn’t really help.  Mental health wasn’t so well talked about or understood at the time – I’m so grateful that things have changed now.

Probably reading this you might think I’m crazy.  If ever I have tried to explain this fear to someone I’m usually met with a response along the lines of ‘Oh yes I hate being sick too’ I get that – we all hate it, it’s not nice, but this phobia – any phobia – is more than just a dislike of something it’s completely irrational.  It controls your life in a scary way and that’s what makes it so difficult to explain to people.  The irrational bit is of course that in the grand scheme of things vomiting is nothing.  For crying out loud there are people starving out there, actually seriously ill and of course going through much worse but for me when I’m having an attack, being sick feels like it’s the worst thing in the world which in turn makes me feel pretty rubbish because how can I possibly compare this silly irrational phobia with a ‘REAL’ illness or crisis.

I could ramble on for ages about the next few years and how this phobia affected me on and off but I’m so thankful to say that with a supportive family, my Christian faith and one or two very close friends who knew what I was going through things did get much better over time and I began to live a more ‘normal’ teenage life but I still had awful flare ups of this phobia. 

As I grew up the phobia would come and go and manifest itself in different ways.  I struggle with crowds, I feel claustrophobic if I’m ever confined or feel trapped anywhere (flying is still a difficult one), I avoided to the best of my ability, anyone who had had a bug or going anywhere that bugs might be around.  Hospitals, doctors surgeries etc.

I was terrified that I would never be able to have children even though being a mum was something I’d always wanted so much.  There was the possible morning sickness, sickness in the birth not to mention how much babies and children can be ill– plus all those germy nurseries, soft plays etc I’d have to deal with.

You’ll probably know now that I have two gorgeous children – thankfully I managed not to let the phobia stop me from being a mum.  I didn’t vomit AT ALL through any of it, so it is possible.  I prayed A LOT through both of my pregnancies 🙂

However, I do know of people suffering from this who will go through life wanting kids but not being able to have them and it breaks my heart to think that this phobia could ruin someone’s life like that.

Having my children has actually changed me and my focus on my phobia.  I have had some extremely difficult times but on the whole having my children has somehow put things a bit more into perspective for me.  It’s also made me brave.  I’ve done things I never thought I could have, I’ve pushed myself into situations I never thought I’d be able to be in.  I’ve been to the soft plays, I’ve been there with them when they’ve been ill and I’ve coped.  It was always my fear that I would run if they were ill and not be able to be there for them but I did it and I managed. 

The more I push myself the more I know that I will not let this phobia beat me.  It will always be there niggling at me in the background, I’ll probably always be funny about use by dates and hand washing and will probably keep my distance from you for a while if you or your children have had a bug, I’ll go vegetarian in a restaurant rather than risking how the meat has been cooked but I don’t like a lot of meat anyway so that one’s not too difficult.  I’ll always keep myself ‘safe’ in my own little ways, which is why I think if you know me now you would probably never know that I suffer/suffered so much with this – or maybe reading this makes a few things about me a bit clearer, who knows! It’s true to say though that  I don’t tend to talk about this unless I really have to.

I know a bit more now how to manage it and what I need to do to talk myself down.  Getting outside is a major thing for me, as soon as I’m out in the fresh air and in nature I feel so much better.  Having my dog has helped me a lot with my anxieties in this way too – walking him makes me get out into my happy place and feel a lot calmer. Knitting and sewing have of course been immensely helpful to me too,  knitting particularly brings a sense of mindfulness to me that just brings me calm and I think it’s because my hands are busy and my mind is focussed but I can sit on the sofa and watch TV with it at the same time. I knitted through my teenage years too and it helped me so much!  There’s also prayer of course, I wouldn’t manage without my faith which is probably something else I don’t talk about enough here – I’m pretty reserved without even really realising it half the time.

My husband also knows my triggers and symptoms which is a great help and he won’t pander to me if I need to be told to pull myself together which is actually more helpful than I’d like to admit sometimes.

I’m not completely over this, I probably never will be, but I know that I never want it to have control over me like it once did again and I’ll do everything I can to push myself away from it when it tries to stop me living the life I want to lead.

I would love to hear from you if you suffer or have suffered from something similar.  Writing this all down has felt extremely vulnerable but also extremely empowering because I can look back and see how far I’ve come.

The best thing we can do for our mental health is to talk about it and if my story helps even one person out there to know that you can learn to deal with this then it’ll have been worth it.

Lots of love

Sally xx

Ten things I’ve loved about this summer…

As the summer turns to autumn I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the summer holidays.  Here’s a list of ten of my favourites…

More time with my babies who aren’t really babies anymore… I’m ever aware of how quickly they’re growing up so it’s always a bonus to have this extra time with them.

The lack of routine… I love that we have the ballet, the football and the swimming in our lives (sometimes) but isn’t it lovely to have your evenings and weekends completely free of these just for a little while.

Investing in a National Trust pass… we got out and explored lots of lovely places nearby that we perhaps never would have known were there and learned a little bit of history along the way. 

Visiting Cornwall… one of my favourite places in the world. Beautiful even in the rain and gale force winds we experienced towards the end of our week away!

Not feeling (too) guilty about screen time… always a tricky one but I decided that in our house balance was key. We went outside a lot, we spent some time at home relaxing – perfect!

Having a good sort out… I’m a bit of an organisation and tidy freak inside. Throughout the six weeks I slowly managed a good sort out of most of the cupboards and wardrobes in our house and it felt soooo good to start September feeling organised.

Taking a break from the business… I realise how lucky I was to be able to do this but having this break gave me family time and time to refocus, start energetically and helped me to remember why I love my work so much.  I’m excited for the new things I have planned over the next few months. 

Having time to read… I’m generally a bedtime only reader and not having to get up so early meant I could stay up a little later reading – something I love to do. I managed to read three books (a lot for me!), I’ll maybe do another blog on what I read.

Turning 40… can’t believe I’m including this in the things I loved since I was actually feeling really weird about it but I had such a lovely time with friends and family and it made me realise again how lucky I am for the people I have in my life.

Realising how much my children have grown and changed over the last year. Both a love and a bit of a heart breaker.  Summer holidays seem to do this to me, I realise how much further they can swim, how much more independent they are etc.  It makes me a mix of emotional and excited for how they are growing.

What things do you love about summer I’d love to hear…

Sally x

On being a stay at home mum…

I have always wanted to be a Mum and not only that I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home Mum.  I know, shock horror, how dare I ever admit such a thing in this day and age of trying to ‘have it all’.  Please don’t stop reading here…

I took voluntary redundancy while on maternity leave with my son and from then on we decided that I wouldn’t go back to work in the same way after my maternity leave was over, at least not while the children were little. We then learned how to manage on one income so that we could afford to do that. 

Like anything, learning how to be a stay at home mum took time, I had to find the best way to make it work in order to keep us all as happy and sane as we could be… (this didn’t always go to plan as I’m sure you can imagine)!!

I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about being a stay at home mum that helped me while my children were little in case they are helpful to you too:

Always get dressed no matter how little sleep you’ve had, no matter how rubbish you feel and even if you aren’t leaving the house.  It will make you feel so much better.

Always try to get a bit of fresh air if you can.  There will be times when you really can’t face it and that’s ok but whenever I forced us out of the house, even for a walk down the road to the park both me and the kids were so much happier for it.

Know that you can’t do it all!  I’m definitely guilty of feeling like a failure more than once because I didn’t have a freshly cooked meal on the table every evening.  It’s fine to have pasta and stir in sauce for the third night in a row if you’ve had a rough week – at least everyone is eating!

If you have a hobby or interest do your best to keep at it even if it’s just very loosely.  Sewing, knitting and baking honestly helped to keep me sane during my days at home and if you can get the kids involved in something you’re interested in – win win!

Go out and meet other mums even if you don’t feel like it.  I’m naturally an introvert, if I’m feeling rough the last thing I feel like doing is talking to other people when I could be cosied up at home in my safe little haven.  There were so many times in the beginning of motherhood that I literally had to force myself out to playgroup or music group on little sleep and feeling rubbish.  I now have some amazing mum friends that I don’t think I could have got through those first few years without.

It’s ok to have a CBeebies day, or even an iPad day (gasp!!) Sometimes you just need it and guess what, the world won’t fall apart and your child won’t be permanently damaged by it.  And no they wouldn’t be better off at nursery because you are a rubbish mum – they are with you and that’s what makes them happy!

Don’t feel bad for not playing with your child ALL OF THE TIME!  Of course they will want you to play with them all the time but if you have to go off an start dinner don’t feel bad for it.  This is one of the things I used to struggle with the most, then I learned that independent play is actually good for kids and I probably didn’t encourage it enough.

Make time for yourself.  So, so difficult when essentially your day job has become full time carer to everyone else but, if you can, do something that’s just for you.  Even if it’s just once a week!  One of the things I missed the most was probably the lovely hour lunch break I had at work to read my book.

Don’t feel bad for not enjoying every single second with your children.  Yes time flies and yes you should make the most of them but some days are horrid and you just need to accept that and know that tomorrow is another day.

  • Resist the urge to punch anyone that asks you what you do all day!  Staying home with your kids is hard work, it is more than a full time job that you don’t get paid for and often don’t get much recognition for.  It can be seen as an easy option and I’m here to tell you it’s blinking not.  You and only you are responsible for a good chunk of your child’s upbringing day to day and that can be both wonderful and terrifying at the same time.

I hope these tips are a little bit helpful, they kind of focus on the more difficult aspects but I’m happy to say that, for me, I absolutely loved my time as a stay at home mum. I’m so pleased and grateful to have had that time with my children, it has changed me and my outlook on life in so many ways but that’s another post. Of course, I’m really talking here about before my children started any kind of preschool or full time school. I mean I guess I am technically still a stay at home mum now, I work on my business at home around the children after all, but now they are in full time education life is very different.

I know staying at home is not right for everyone and you must do what’s right for you. This is in no way a judgemental post, I just wanted to share my experience of what we thought was best for us. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell myself some of these things at the times I felt bad or questioned myself but really I don’t think Mum guilt ever ends does it, I just have other things to feel guilty about now that they are older!

Lots of love

Sally x