Top Travel Reads | Win a Copy "Making It Up As I Go Along" by Marian Keyes

Over 3 million commuters bustle onto London’s tubes and buses to work every weekday. Not to mention the thousands by car, cycle or walking to work.
A record 1.3 billion train journeys were taken in 2015 around the UK!
So how do you spend the commute or your travel time every day? Do you listen to music, grab the metro, do some work on your laptop or read a book?
Morgan Pryce, experts in office rentals in Mayfair asked their staff to choose their favourite books for spring 2016 based on what they are reading on the commute to work. Here is what they choose:
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live. 

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.
‘Sadly Paul, the author, died shortly after finishing this book. If anything the fact it is real life makes it such a greater read and although at times sad it was a wonderful book and so inspiring’ Dani, Morgan Pryce

Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes
Marian gives her guide to breaking up with your hairdresser? Along with the warning she has for us all after a particularly traumatic fling with fake tan. Not to mention the very best lies to tell if you find yourself on an Arctic cruise. She has words of advice for those fast approaching fifty.
You'll be wincing in recognition and scratching your head in incredulity, but like Marian herself you won't be able to stop laughing at the sheer delightful absurdity that is modern life - because each and every one of us is clearly making it up as we go along.
‘I have read loads for Marian Keyes books and I love her sense of humour. It’s light-hearted but also spot on, you have to laugh at yourself sometimes. I love reading something upbeat when I travel into work’. Gina, Morgan Pryce

Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson
A smart beautiful book from a smart inspirational actress and fitness icon. Kate Hudson will share her insights into how every woman can live healthy, strong and beautiful – from the inside out. For Kate Hudson the key to living healthfully is simplicity and positivity. The book includes lots of real-world ideas for eating better, making exercise enjoyable and for clearing the mind to leave space for positive thinking. Kate Hudson’s subscription-based fitness clothing retailer, Fabletics, has been a massive success. Packed with information and inspiration, Kate Hudson’s relatable beauty and dedication to wellness will come through on every page.
‘I love to live healthy but it’s tough when you work long hours but this book is great. Kate is a busy lady and she gives tips you can use in a busy lifestyle’. Anon, Morgan Pryce

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Sleepless cover
Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk. Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along. The perfect New York love story…
‘I love Devil Wears Prada and Sex in the City, so this book was a sure win with me. It has my favourite components New York and Love! A joy to read’ Zoe, Morgan Pryce

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April 23rd 2009-present

Today would have been my wedding anniversary. I'm expected to be ok about it. To not be hurt, or upset. I knew it was coming, the end of the marriage that is, and I made the choice to end it. But today is still hard.
It's a date that has been important to me since I was 18. I remember clearly the moment we sat on the sofa, after I moved away from home to be with him, with a diary looking at April dates.
I spent 10 years celebrating this date and looking forward to it.
Today I feel like I am mourning.
I keep thinking back to last year.
10 years.
And how uneventful it was. Probably proof that it was the last one we would spend together. We didn't really celebrate properly. We went for a meal but it didn't feel all that special.
After I seperated from him he started the divorce process. Since September I have been told how he wants to divorce me as soon as possible. I had mentally prepared to wake up today no longer as his wife. Yet proceedings have been halted because of him.
And as much as I try to not think of it I can't.
It hurts.
I'm not sad about not celebrating a marriage.
I'm glad I'm not celebrating it because it wouldn't have been right for us to still be together.
But it hurts that this day is no longer significant.
It hurts that I have to be strong when I don't want to be today.
It hurts that I am expected to not be bothered simply because it was my choice and the right thing to do.
I want to hide away today.
Not go to work.
Not pretend to be happy.


It Takes A Lot

"You cry a lot don't you" Followed by a laugh.
"You post a lot of sh*t on Facebook [Instagram etc]" Followed by a laugh.
"All you do is moan about being single and stuff" Followed by a laugh.
"You over-react"
"You take too much to heart".

It's hard to not believe that people don't see that happy side of you, the side you try to portray every day.
Depression takes over a big part of MY life. It is a fight I have daily. I try my best, to the point of exhaustion sometimes, to fight it. To try to not acknowledge it. But it's always there.
Just because it is part of MY life it doesn't mean I want to make it a part of everyone elses lives too.
But, I am open about my depression, my anxiety. I don't want to be defined by it, but when people say the things listed above it almost feels like I have to put a disclaimer up.

"Depression sufferer. Likely to cry over the smallest of things. Approach with caution"

It's not something I advertise but I also don't hide it.
I don't tell people for the attention. I don't tell people for the sympathy. 
I tell them so that they stop judging me. So that maybe, comments about me stop and maybe a little bit of understanding can be used instead.

But that's the problem. People don't understand. 
This is my 16th year with depression. And still I don't understand it.
We are all affected in different ways, we all cope in different ways and we all have different ways of expressing it. 
For me, I'm not afraid to say I have it. I'm not ashamed.
It's not my fault I have it. 

It's easy for people to say "just don't think the things you are thinking" "Just do X,Y or Z" but if it was that easy, then I would be doing it. 
Sometimes the more you try to ignore it, the stronger it comes through.

It is a battle. 
It is a fight. 
And when it is going on inside your own head, and you own body, it's not as easy as walking away or taking a break.

It gets confusing. 
I question why I do this to myself. These things are going on in my head, they are a part of me, so I am doing this to myself. 
I struggle to recognise it as an illness because it feels like it is part of me. Like it is part of my make up. 
It can't be cut out of me. 

Today is one of my bad days. One of those days when I woke up and didn't want to do life at all. 
I posted on Instagram, not for attention. Not because I wanted people to send me virtual hugs. But so that some of the hurt and pain I feel today can be released. 
When I was a housewife I didn't mind so much putting it all out there. The only people who saw my Instagram were online followers and friends who knew about my issues. 
But now, now that I work and I have children in school my circle has grown. 
School mum friends, and work colleagues, all there able to see that I am this person.
And it takes a lot to actually let people who see you, and who know you, talk to you, work with you, know that actually you are a mess. 
You struggle every day and what to them seems like attention seeking, negativity, or "sh*t" is actually something that for you is every day life, and although not a cry for help, is a release.

I don't want sympathy. I don't want attention.
I don't over-react on purpose. I don't want to take things to heart.
I want people to recognise that things aren't always as they seem.
And that sometimes the bravest things people do aren't something we can see. But are those quiet battles we face within ourselves every day. 
I try to be strong. I try to be someone people don't feel it necessary to put down just because they are not afraid to cry. 

I face this every day. On my own. 
It takes a lot to admit to others that inside my head, I am not okay. I am not always this person I show myself to be. 

That girl, boy, man, lady that you roll your eyes at because they've put something else negative or sad on social media...they could be an attention seeker. But they could also be taking a brave step in posting what they do.
They may sit for a while, as I do, hovering their finger over the "post" button, in fear for admitting "I'm not ok" or "Today is not good for me". 
That is what takes a lot, hitting the post button. 
Putting that out there. 

Life with depression and mental health problems is hard enough without worrying about people judging you.
It's hard enough without having fear of letting people know, and being open about it.
And that is why I am not ashamed, and I am not afraid. 

I am a normal person who just has this "thing" that lives inside her head. It took a lot for me to accept that. But I have done, because I know that I have done nothing to create it. 
It is part of me and as much as I hate that, I have to accept it. If not the battle just goes on and gets worse. 
To accept it, makes the battle a tiny, tiny bit easier. 



6 ways to upcycle at home

You don’t have to be an artistic genius to indulge in the nation’s latest passion for up-cycling. It’s fun, creative and also requires a fair bit of ingenuity, as well as some common sense. Simply invest in some tools and paint and material, and you’ll be good to go. Here are six ideas to get you started.

1. Changing chairs
Chairs can often show signs of wear and tear after a few years. Or, you might have changed your décor and your chair just looks out of place. No problem.  As long as you have a staple gun and some material to hand, you can transform it quite easily. The chair’s frame will probably still be quite solid and if you have durable castors from Tente UK fixed to the base, why not leave them in place?

Cut your material to cover the shape of your chair and then staple this onto the existing fabric and wooden chair frame and you’ve instantly upcycled something in your home – even better if you’ve used old curtain fabric or some cushion covers you were going to throw away!

2. Never throw away pallets
If you have an old wooden pallet in your garage, now’s the time to put it to good use. Simply lever off the wooden planks from the pallet, plane them and then cover these with varnish or paint.

You can use your pallet as a base for some comfy cushions and place it in the back garden, perfect for summertime or you could take it apart and attach the panels to the wall in your dining room or living room to create a stunning feature.

3. Chalk paint creates a shabby chic effect
If you’re bored with your existing kitchen units and want to create a stylish new décor then use chalk paints to create a French farmhouse kitchen effect. According to the This is Money website the paint will give your kitchen furniture a ‘new lease of life.’ You can also use this technique on picture frames or other pieces of furniture throughout the home.

4. Decoupage and stencils
Anyone can carry out these techniques. You don’t have to be a Leonardo da Vinci in the making, simply visit your local craft shop and track down some stencils. Fix the stencils onto the walls, pieces of furniture or anywhere else you choose and paint. You can even use spray paint.

Decoupage is the process of gluing your favourite images from items such as family photographs, scrapbooks or magazines and then covering the revived surface with gloss varnish. You can transform dressing table surfaces, mirror surrounds and many other household furnishings.

5. Transforming a table

Tables and desks often show their age. One enterprising upcycler, managed to create an innovative desk from the door of a Boeing 737 with a large piece of glass mounted as a surface.

You don’t have to go this far but the thought processes involved in upcycling scaffolding boards, or marrying two pieces of furniture to create a new piece are similar. You have to think outside the box.

6. Spray paint is your new best friend
Spray paint is fantastic for transforming items in your home. Create a collage on the kid’s walls featuring your own street art or revamp old and scratched metal lampshades with some on trend metallic paint. Upcycling is fun; simply try out different crafty ideas and enjoy yourself.      



6 Items You Didn't Know You Could Upcycle

Upcycling isn’t a new invention – but it has certainly risen in popularity in recent years.
It taps into three key desires: to be creative, to be thrifty and to be green. Unlike recycling, it feels productive too. Recycling is about rescuing materials, breaking them down and producing something new that will at least be of some use.

Upcycling, as Hipcycle notes, takes existing products and materials and fashions them into something useful and, ideally, better than their original use. It’s a modern take on the ‘make do and mend’ our grandparents espoused.

It also works on an industrial scale too. Rail rolling stock can be given a new lease of life under a new franchise by stripping back the paint in an Airblast Eurospray blast room and ordering some new fabric from Camira. Creativity, thriftiness and a green mindset are certainly on the top of the agenda for businesses looking to save cash and do their bit for the environment.

But if you want to jump on board and do your own projects, what exactly can you upcycle? The answer, really, is almost anything. It depends on your creative skills and the amount of time you have to put to a project. Here are six things you didn’t know you could upcycle for inspiration…

A slightly worse for wear old wooden ladder need not be destined for the tip. Why not consider hanging it horizontally in the corner of your room to make a bookshelf? Features such as this can really set the tone for a rustic themed room.

The old case that you took on holiday might have a lot of sentimental value… but little practical use these days. Or so you think. The internet is awash with quirky ideas for these – from wall cabinet to chairs. We quite like the simple-but-effective side table (21 on this list) – again another neat feature for themed room in your home.

Useful in logistics and removals, wooden pallets are one of the most common items that can be upcycled. Garden furniture, coffee tables and even beds can be made from just a few sturdy pallets.

Do you come back from holiday with a map or two that - let’s face it - you’ll never use again? Pop Sugar’s list of upcycling ideas contains a host of suggestions of creative things you can do with old maps – from using them to frame photos to making coasters, envelopes or even gift wrap.

CD rack
Had a clear out of old CDs? Maybe you don’t have so many now that streaming has overtaken physical music purchases. Don’t throw out your old CD towers. These are, in fact, one of the easiest upcycling projects going, and will happily lie down in your garden as perfect planters after a quick lick of paint.

Tennis racket

Anyone for tennis? No? Well, that old racket you no longer use doesn't have to go to waste. Cut out the strings and stick a mirror in instead for a fun design. In fact, look out for anything that you could make into a mirror to avoid settling for a boring standard frame!



43 Days

I've been suffering a lot with panic attacks recently. Although only small ones due to being able to control them I know that at any point I will have one that I can't control.
I feel unsettled, anxious, a fidgety mess.
Anticipation and being impatient is pretty much taking over my life and I am having to try my best to not be the obsessive person I want to be just to try and control it.

I have 43 days of this to cope with. And it's tough.

You'd think, by reading the above that maybe it's something I'm not looking forward to.
As I write this my heart is racing, my breathing is quick and my fingers are typing at a silly speed. I feel like I can't sit still.
I'm trying my best to keep my head focussed and to not watch the video I've embedded in the bottom of this post over and over again.

In 43 days I will be in my happy place.
The place that put me in this stage of my life.
The place that made me realise my brother is the best human being I know and that I would do anything for him.
The place that brought me a wonderful friend who lives too far away but has been my rock.
The place where I discovered this sport, probably the only sport, that captured my heart and made me look at motorbikes and racing in a different light.

Since I left the island last June I have had this aching to return. I've been lucky enough to be able to visit some amazing countries as a teenager but no place has ever made me feel like the Isle of Man did.

It's not just the island though. It's the sport. The TT.
I struggle to explain it and the fact is, unless you've been there, you will never understand or even begin to understand just what is so amazing about it.
I watched YouTube videos before I went. I thought I knew what to expect. I wasn't too bothered about watching the bikes. I wanted to spend time with my brother, I wanted to visit an island I hadn't been to before. The only rider I wanted to see was William Dunlop and I wanted to visit Joey Dunlops statue.
I will never forget that feeling I had when I stepped off the plane. I knew that the week was due to be something special. When I went to collect my luggage, expecting to meet my brother at the campsite and hearing a knock on the glass, ignoring it at first then turning round and seeing him. Me crazily then miming and making weird hand gestures pointing to myself and then the ground saying "I'm here. I'm actually here. Look. Me and you. We're here".
The fact he surprised me at the airport, when I then got some phone signal and saw that he had watched my plane land and had taken a photo of it, excitedly uploading it to Facebook to show off that I was there. The he took a photo of himself waiting outside the airport, again uploading it to Facebook telling people he was surprising me and adding "Twin Time" at the end.
That was enough for me. My week was made.
Little did I expect the atmosphere to be electric from the beginning.
The anticipation....the build up....and then later when the race started the uncontrollable feel that when through my body as my brother said "They're now coming Lauren". The tears that rolled down my face, the panic attack that took my body hostage. I didn't understand it, I didn't get why it was so special. Until the first bike went past. And I heard the noise. I felt the speed.
And I wanted to scream. I looked at my brother. I looked at how happy he was and seeing him smile. Having this moment together. It was amazing. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Him then saying "That's William. That was William" as William Dunlop then rode past made my week and I'd only been on the island for 6 or 7 hours.

I never ever wanted that feeling to end. And it hasn't. It has wedged itself in my heart and in my head and it's so hard to forget and to let go of.
It's hard to control, and to keep hidden and quiet.
And in 43 days I get to experience it all over again. I get to add to that feeling.

And I can't wait. I really really can't wait.

I watch this video over and over and it makes me want to explode.
43 days...not long at all, but it feels like the longest countdown I've ever done.



How to Write the Perfect CV In 6 Simple Steps

CVs are tricky to write. Not only do we feel uncomfortable about ‘blowing our own trumpet’, we’re also likely to find ourselves summarising our achievements, successes and choices at a time when we’re changing a big part of our lives – moving away for a new job, taking a risk on a career change or aiming for a higher salary all tend to demand a fresh, stand-out application! But, there’s no need to struggle. Here’s how to write the perfect CV in six simple steps.

1. Introduce yourself
Write your full name at the top of the document. Beneath this, add your contact information including your residential address, phone number and email address. Then, if you’re not sending a covering letter, add a short, punchy, personal profile: it should explain why you’re applying for the role, what you’re like as a person and what you’re looking for in a career.  

2. Demonstrate that you have desirable personal qualities
Next, tell the reader what makes you great to work with. Whether you’re applying for convergys call centre jobs, a position in an administrative department or hoping to fill a role at Costa Coffee, you need to demonstrate that you possess some must-have qualities. For instance, are you reliable, punctual and hard-working? If so, make sure your CV shows this: give a real-life example for each rather than offering clichés with little evidence.

3. Include details of your education and skills
Detail your educational achievements, beginning with your most recent qualifications. Your degree subject, university, A-levels and GCSEs are all valuable information. Extra skills such as languages, computing and clean driving licenses should also be added so that the reader can build piece together an accurate image of your accomplishments.

4. Tell the reader about your hobbies and interests
While it’s important to keep this section brief, it’s worth including if you have space. Your hobbies help to stand you apart from the crowd, especially if you enjoy doing something like mountaineering or volunteering… these both show that you have a desire to stretch yourself or put yourself forward when you aren’t obliged to. Interests that are relevant to the job (such as writing a personal blog if you’re applying for a writing position) are worth including, too.

5. Complete your CV with references
While most employers won't check your references until they’re ready to offer you a job, it’s good practice to show that there are people willing to vouch for you at a stage as early as submitting your CV. Two referees are usually sufficient, and if you’re short on space it’s fine to write that 'references are available on request'.

6. Do a thorough proof read and format it nicely!
Finally, and most importantly, quality check your CV for spelling mistakes, grammar and punctuation errors, and general readability. Potential employers are usually pushed for time, so make it legible, well structured and nicely formatted: bullet points are acceptable if it makes your dazzling credentials easier to digest!



Just Because

Just because she cries it doesn't mean she's weak.
It doesn't mean she is over sensitive or over reacting.
Maybe those tears have been building up for a while.
Maybe there is so much going on in her head, in her life, in her world that you don't know about.
Maybe she pretends to be strong and she pretends to be ok and to be happy when in reality, she just wants someone to scoop her up and to let her cry out all of the pain and frustration that is building inside her.

Just because she is single it doesn't mean she is desperate to have sex with you.
It also doesn't mean that anything she says can be turned into a pick up line or to be suggestive.
She might be friendly. She might be a flirt. But it doesn't mean she wants you.
It doesn't mean she wants to borrow you from your girlfriend or wife.
It doesn't make it ok for you to suggest that because "it's just a bit of fun".

Just because she talks to other guys it doesn't mean she wouldn't stop it all for you.
It doesn't mean she doesn't like you. Because she does.
She gets butterflies when she see's you. She makes excuses to be near you and to talk to you.
The sound of your voice makes her look for you. When you talk to her she just wants to grab hold of you.
When you look at her a certain way, or talk to her in a certain way, she wants you to mean it. She wants to have translated it and to have read it correctly.
She wants you to feel the same.

Just because she is getting a divorce it doesn't mean she has a broken heart.
It doesn't mean she has regrets or she made a mistake.
She didn't walk away without making an effort and without thinking long and hard about whether or not it was the right thing.

Just because he has a girlfriend it doesn't mean she is jealous.
It doesn't mean she wants him back.
Maybe she feels proud of the fact that she is happy for him. And for the fact that they can talk openly about their love life and sex life without it being weird that the last 13 years they were in that relationship.

Just because she has children it doesn't mean she will be hard work.
It doesn't mean she is looking for them to have a new "daddy". Or that she even wants someone to have anything to do with her children.
Maybe she just wants adult company. Maybe she thinks it's more important to have time with someone, one on one, before her children become involved. 

Just because you have this idea of her it doesn't mean it's right.
Because she mixes with certain people it doesn't mean what you want it to, or what you think it does.
Maybe those are the people who have taken time to get to know her, who she trusts and connects with. The ones she feels she can be herself around.

Just because things aren't how she imagined they would be.
And life isn't how she planned it.
It doesn't mean she isn't happy.
Maybe she has hope. Maybe she is enjoying discovering who she is, and discovering what it is like to have freedom.

To be herself.



Why I Am NOT a Single Mum

I have these strong thoughts about who I am and about what makes me me. I'm on this “self discovery journey” at the moment, trying to work out who and what I am. I'm deciding exactly how I want to define myself and what information I feel I have to give.

Tick boxes on forms for example. I used to tick single. Then I ticked married. And now I am supposed to tick the divorced box. But why? Why do I now have to declare that yes I was married, but that failed. Why can we not just revert back to the single box?

It's not that I'm ashamed of being divorced. In fact, I'm proud that I was married for 10 years. I don't think I married too young and that that is the reason my marriage has come to an end, because at that time marriage was right for me. I don't regret it and if it came to it yes I would do the same again.
I feel that at 30 I'm still young enough to not worry about being alone for the rest of my life. I have enough time to have some fun,

I have realised that people do notice the lack of ring on my wedding finger and I worry about their opinion when it comes to me having two children. I don't mind being a solo parent for them because they have a good relationship with their dad and one thing I was starting to notice was that we both had different parenting styles. We almost clashed over the way we wanted to talk to them, treat them and how we wanted them to act and behave. Singularly this works fine, we can do our own style of parenting but as a couple, it didn't work.
And we are both accepting of that, aware of that and we are ok with that.

One thing I am particular about, is the term “single mum”.
I hate it.
I hate that my relationship status is linked to the fact that I am a parent. Two things which to me don't need to be put together. I think as soon as you link your relationship status to being a parent it almost puts pressure on the fact that you may want a partner to eliminate the use of the word single before the word mum.
That's not the case with me.
I don't want a partner to have anything to do with my children. If I wanted a partner it would be for me. I'm strict in that I don't want anyone to meet or have anything to do with my children for a while, for a number of reasons.
I want someone to get to know me, as me. Not as a parent. I want my own time to get to know someone to, and for us to use time when the boys are at their dads to concentrate on each other rather than having someone to join in with the “dinner, bath and bed” routine.

I think the term “single mum” can put men off and when it comes to talking to men I don't always mention straight off that I have children. This is when I talk to men on dating sites of course, because I see it the same as if I was talking to a guy in a pub, or if I met someone at work or in the supermarket. My opening conversation wouldn't be “Hi, I'm Lauren. I'm a single mum”. If someone asked me if I was single I wouldn't follow it up with “Yes, a single mum”.
It's not that I would or do keep my boys as a secret, but I am my own person without them too and I want people to know that. And so far I've found it to be ok.
I mention after a while of talking to someone that I have children and some are fine with it and some will say “it's not ideal but I really like talking to you” and I feel in that way I have been successful. It doesn't put them off and although it doesn't turn into a relationship it still keeps conversation going and things will drift apart because of other things.

I found that on my Instagram bio, Twitter bio and so on that I almost felt I had to write “Single mum” because that’s the label that is put on me. And every time I read it it made me angry. I didn't want to use this label or status just because other people want to put that on me. For six years I had the label of “stay at home mum” or “full time mum” and I didn't like it.
Full time mum just didn't make sense to me because now, as a working mum, does that make me part time? No.
Stay at home mum made me feel as though I don't do anything. Like I am this mum who stays at home. But that wasn't me. Being a mum is a job in itself. And the term “stay at home” almost made it feel like it was easy. I get to sit at home and watch This Morning, eat biscuits, drink tea, nap if I want, and play with my child.
That's not what it is like.
So I was determined to not have this other status/label that people want to put on me.
So I changed it.

I am a single woman.
I am a mum.
I work.
These are three separate parts of my life and they are connected because they are all related to me, but they don't need to be connected when it comes to my status.
“Lauren. 30. Single working mum”.
The image of that, to me, is one of chaos. One of desperation.
And I don't want that image.
As a single woman I find that my image is something I am trying my best to focus on and to even learn myself. What kind of image do I want, how do I want to portray myself.
And by bringing other elements into that…of being a mum, having a job, just makes it even harder and puts more pressure on.

In the grand scheme of things, labels and statuses other people put on me doesn't really matter, and neither does the box that I have to tick on forms.
My own identity, knowing who I am and who I want to be is what counts.

 Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?:


Five Things: I've Discovered About Me Due to Separation

As someone who tends to think negatively a lot, to worry about the smallest of things, to panic and over-react a lot I am surprised at how I have managed the last 6 months.
I'm not for a moment saying there haven't been moments where I have broken down. There have been lots of those moments. Moments where I sit and cry on my bed to the point I think I am never going to stop.
Moments I have doubted my abilities in every area of my life but I have pulled through those moments, because I have had to, and because of my belief system changing in the last year.

I know I had to end my marriage. I knew it was the best thing for me, and for him. And it was scary. Really scary. I think that is probably the reason it took so long for me to do. There was effort made to fix problems but ultimately, we grew apart and we were/are on different paths.
That is ok.
I am ok with that, and he is too.

I do seem to have this new sense of awareness when it comes to my life and I'm able to almost de-construct situations and break them down to not only work out their worth, but to also discover their purpose, if relevant.

I'm being as positive as I can and I'm proud of myself for that. Of course I have those days of “This is too much. I can't cope” but, due to my beliefs, I am able to soon get over that.

You discover what you are capable of

I never thought I could be a working mum. I loved being a stay at home mum so much and I became so anxious last year because I knew that at some point I would be returning to work. The deal, so to speak, was that I would stay as a stay at home mum until Harry started full time school, which was September 2015. I would stay awake at night thinking about it and dreaded it. Even though we'd agreed that I wouldn't have to go back as soon as Harry had started I felt this massive pressure, especially when I told my ex I was getting a tattoo and his response was immediately that I should get a job. I think the fact I was spending that money on ME and not to benefit the house, or children, was where I went wrong.
I never thought I could be independent and despite relying on my mum a lot I think I am doing really well.
I was always super shy too and I've discovered this confident me, and over time it has grown.
At the same time I know what I am not capable of and this has been a hard lesson but overall, I'm not doing to badly.

Realise how much crap you hoard
As soon as we split, even though we were still living together, I started to pack up my belongings and sent them over to my mums. When the house sold and I found a new house I started packing up the rest of the items and having a thorough and strict sort out.
I would say that I ended up throwing out around half of items we had hoarded for years. Things that seemed pointless to keep hold of, things that once meant something and now to look at didn't ignite any kind of memory at all. Electrical items and parts of items we got rid of years ago. Double bed sheets when we no longer owned a double bed. Old paint pots, tiles, rollers, paintbrushes crusted due to not being washed.
Every Christmas card we received over the years. And so many carrier bags!

Realise exactly who you have around you
In my town the only family I have are my children and my mum. That's it. My brother has moved away and the rest of my family are in Somerset.
That's hard. And it was hard when it came to my separation because I didn't want my mum to feel like all of a sudden she had to carry me and deal with this. I also felt a lot in the beginning as if my family would feel disappointed in me or let down by me. Like I had failed them.
I always loved being the grown up one of the three grandchildren/niece and nephews. I loved being the one who had settled down, had a family and pretty much had life in check.
And now here I was, the one with a failed marriage. At least that's how I saw it.
I craved so much to be able to see my Somerset family face to face so I could see in their eyes that they weren't ashamed of me.
They assured me over and over that they weren't and their support has just been incredible.
My Aunty Karen in particular gives me so much praise and support. She has made me feel strong at times when I have felt so weak, simply just with a comment on Facebook.
My nanny has been a massive help in so many ways. One of the best moments was when my brother brought over a box which was full of my aunty and nanny's old plates, curtains, glasses and cutlery. Using those everyday in the new house makes me feel as though the distance between us is smaller than it actually is.
It was hard not having my dad around but even worse that my brother lives so far away too. There were times I desperately wanted a protective mans arms around me, and I broke down a lot, crying to my mum that I just needed to have my brother with me. He has been amazing though. He has made me feel like I am doing well. And surprised me when I was at work by helping dismantle and rebuild some furniture we couldn't get up the stairs at the new house.
I don't have a big circle of friends but one in particular has been amazing and as soon as I told her about my break up she was there. I can tell her everything and I don't know what I would do without her. I can laugh with her, cry with her and she is there all the time. I probably rely on her too much sometimes but she never complains to me.
Then there are the online friends. The ones who support with comments and just checking I am ok.
I have a close friend I made when I went to the Isle of Man and he is incredible. Really supportive, grounding and one of those people you wish lived closer. Again though, I think you realise that distance is nothing during situations like this.

Aware of life

I wrote this list a while ago and when I saw “aware of life” when writing this post I wasn't sure what I meant. I looked out of the window for a while thinking about it and I get it.
I am now more aware of all aspects of life.
I'm more aware of time, and how short our lives are. I'm more aware of making the most of time off work, making the most of evenings, making the most of everything.
Growing up I was so stuck in this “I will get married, I will have children. We will live happily ever after” and I am surprised at how my thoughts and feelings have completely changed when it comes to this.
Marriage isn't something that is on my life plan now. And it's not that my marriage put me off because it didn't at all. But I just don't feel it is important. Finding a partner right now I guess would be nice, but to be honest, I kind of like how my life is going at the moment. Having fun. But when I do find a partner so many things that mattered before won't matter now.
Age in particular. Before I was so stuck in this “older man” vision and never thought I would be attracted to someone my own age or younger yet the last 6 months have shown that this is clearly not where I am in life now.
I'm more aware now of grabbing life by the horns and riding it.
Going to the Isle of Man last year was obviously a big wake up moment for me and due to that I am going there for a little longer this year and I am taking the boys and my mum to Tenerife in August. Which is a dream of mine really. I always wanted to take my children on a boat to see the dolphins and the fact I am able to take my mum and treat her makes my heart so happy.

Discover yourself

Now, I guess this depends on the situation. In our case, because it was a mutual decision and at no point did we question whether or not we should try and work through it, it has been easier to focus on myself as I haven't at any point had the “what did I do wrong? Why am I not good enough?”.
Instead I've been able to look at myself and to try and discover who I am. I'm not this wife anymore. I am still a mum yes and that side of me will always remain the same. But LAUREN. She is completely different, almost reborn I guess.
A couple of people have said how I am now experiencing the life they experienced when they were 17. Which I do agree with. I guess I am just embracing the single life and when I was 17 and getting into this serious relationship that would turn into a 10 year marriage, other girls my age were out having fun with guys who were 23, 24, 26….and now that's me.
As much as I do sometimes want a partner, and want someone to be there for me and with me, I also feel as thought I have a lot of self discovery to do first.
I am trying to adjust to this life where I am Lauren-the-mum, Lauren-the-daughter, Lauren-the-kitchen-advisor, Lauren-the-friend, yet to make time to sit and just be Lauren. To discover what makes me happy. 
What makes me feel good. 
What I want day to day and throughout life as a whole.
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