A Year

Exactly a year ago I sat down and wrote a letter to my husband. The letter suggested we should separate. I thought I was ok with it, and that it would affect me now. But as I write this my eyes are tingling. It's not that I miss him. We are better off as we are now. But I guess it's the fact that this thing happened that I never expected. It was the right thing to do for the person I had become, but not anything I ever expected I would be doing.

I remember shaking as I wrote the letter, knowing that although it felt like a cowards way of doing it there was no other way, I would never have been able to get the words out. 

I stood as he read it. I remember not knowing what to do, how to act, what expression to pull. 
I didn't cry. I didn't know whether or not to say sorry. I didn't know how he would react.

He was taking the boys camping for the weekend with his sister, which gave us both time to be away from each other to let the news sink in. 

After they left I sat on the sofa. Wondering how I should be feeling. I didn't know what I should be feeling. It was weird, for the first time in a long time we hadn't done our routine "Bye, love you" goodbye. 
Those words. Love you. Ones we'd said so often but for a while meant very little, were all of a sudden not part of our vocabulary. We no longer had to say them. It felt weird. It felt strange to all of a sudden not say those words. 



Party Dress Buying Guide

The party season is nearly upon us. I love a party as much as the next person, but I have to admit to feeling a bit nervous about socialising. For me, this year, getting my look right is going to be even more important than usual. Without a doubt, choosing the right outfit can do wonders for your confidence.
I love dresses. They are an outfit in their own right. If you find a nice dress all you have to do is to grab a matching pair of shoes to complete your look, and you are good to go. A dress is perfect for a last minute dinner date, party or barbecue.
This year, there are some great dresses available. The fashion industry appears to have finally come away from the one-size fits all approach. If you go shopping this week, you will find plenty of choice.
It really does not matter what shape or size you are, you can easily find the perfect dress. To help you to do that, here is a roundup of some of the best options I have found, so far.
Glamorous long dresses
If you are looking for a glamorous dress to wear to a party, or more formal event, long dresses are a great option. Maxi dresses are ideal for parties. Especially in the colder months, when you need a bit of protection from the weather.
They come in a wide range of styles, so it easy to find the perfect one for you. Some of the nicest ones I have seen are made from lace. These are glamorous, as well as stylish. Pairing them with a clutch and a nice pair of high heels is an easy way to create a classy look, for a special occasion.
Practical day dresses
If like me, you are on a budget it is important to get plenty of use out of your clothes. Day dresses are great for this.
Again, there is a wide choice of styles available. Whether you want a tunic dress, a mini-skirt style or a bodycon you can find it.
These dresses can easily be dressed up for a party or worn as they are for day-to-day use. They are also great for work. By adding a smart jacket, most of these dresses can be made to look smart enough to wear to an important meeting. For the weekend, adding some jewellery, a wrap and maybe a belt quickly turns them into a party dress.
Holiday dresses
If like me, you are hoping to get away for a week during the winter to enjoy some sun, a lightweight jersey or t-shirt dress is an essential. They pick up small, so do not take up too much space in your luggage. This type of fabric does not crease easily, so they just need to be hung out for a few hours before you can wear them. You can wear this type of dress anywhere, for going out in the evening, sightseeing, or even on the beach.
Therefore, if you are looking for a quick way to update your wardrobe, my suggestion is that you treat yourself to a couple of dresses.

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I recently helped out with interviews at my workplace. My manager asked me to come up with some questions and I wanted to avoid the typical "easy, predictable answer" style questions.
I didn't want to do the strengths and weaknesses questions because they are predictable, and get the standard answers. However, I wanted to go along the lines of weaknesses. I wanted someone to sit there and be open about their down side. Interviews are all about impressing your potential employer but for me, I wanted to know what we might not like about them, or what we might find difficult to work with, or challenging.
So the question I asked was "what are your flaws?".

I thought it was better than "what are your weaknesses?" because to me the word 'flaws' was a little more personal and not just profession/career related.
Weaknesses could also result in answers such as "chocolate" or "men in uniform"...not quite what I wanted.



Almost two weeks ago I got back from a weeks holiday to Tenerife with my boys and my mum. We booked the holiday at the beginning of the year and although I was looking forward to it I had so much other stuff going on that I didn't really get time to think about it too much.
What with the house sale, divorce, work commitments, trip to the Isle of Man, the boys birthdays, Britmums Live, I didn't sit and think about how much of a big deal this holiday would be to me.

I've done the whole airport thing without my ex husband twice. But I was flying solo, so I only had myself to worry about. This time, I had two boys, my mum, and four suitcases to think about too. 
I've never checked into a hotel abroad before, I was anxious in case we had any problems and I wouldn't be able to fix them. I would normally be the one in charge of the children leaving my ex husband to the check in process and so on. But this time it was my job. I had the information for checking in, and so on. But thankfully I had my mum to take over with the boys when needed, at other times it was joint "parenting".
It was amazing and really special to be able to have her by my side and to make these memories with her. And especially for the boys to be able to have this time with her.

We spent the first afternoon around the pool and I didn't think too much about the people who were around us. I stood in the water and looked around, almost not believing we were actually in Tenerife. Not quite being able to accept how warm it was and how the sun felt against my skin.

It was the next day that I noticed that this holiday would prove how much adjusting I've had to do. As we sat around the pool and played with the boys I noticed that we were the only family without a male figure. Without a dad or step dad. 
The boys didn't notice. It didn't affect them at all. It wasn't that they needed a male figure there with them.
But I was fully aware at that point how different our family structure is right now. 

My mum said something that has stuck with me. She said she knew that she had taken someone elses place on the holiday. And although it looks like it was a harsh thing to say, and at first I did take it offensively until I actually thought about it, I completely understand where she was coming from.
There would be no reason for my mum not going on that holiday if I was still married. However, her role would have been different. She wouldn't have been expected to have been so hands on, and wouldn't have been expected to share a room with us all. 

There were moments when I sat there, especially at night when I couldn't sleep, where I pictured what future family holidays could be like. 
Will there ever be another man who goes with us? Who I get to share a bed with whilst my sons share their own room?
Will I be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, cuddled up in the arms of a man whilst the boys explore the area? 
Will I be able to sit on a balcony with him and watch as the sun goes down whilst the boys sleep...or at least fight sleep?
Will there be a man who joins in with the water polo as we sit on the side and cheer him on? 
Will he have his own children who come along? Or will we have a child together who adds to the family? 
Will we always have to avoid the awkward "where's your dad then? Sunbathing or watching football somewhere?" questions asked by shop keepers and hotel staff? And added to that will I also be in a position where shop staff won't say "we'll keep our eyes out for any single dads for you" quite loud as I leave their shop?
Will I have an excuse to not wear dark sunglasses so I can look at local men and stop daydreaming about moving to Tenerife to be with them? 

As I said, our holiday was lovely. And in no way was it any less enjoyable because we didn't have an adult male with us.
But it made me more aware of who we are now. Who I am now. 
What my struggles are and what my strengths are.
And it's made me see what I want us to be, although I have no control over that as such, but I know that I need to be part of a unit (eventually).
The boys were totally unaware, but for me it was obvious.
And will just take lots of adjusting.



#TT2016 "Best place to hear that kind of news"

I walked from the bike towards the grass. I took my helmet off, removed my jacket and took my phone from my pocket.
I read the message that had been waiting for me on Whatsapp.
Then my phone started to ring. A number appeared, beginning with the area code of my home town. I thought I recognised the following six digits and assuming it was important I answered.
I sat on the grass, bag now on the ground next to me along with my coat and my helmet.
I looked round and saw my brother sorting out his bike and then walking down towards me.

"Is that Mrs Woodward?"
It was my solicitors office.
They informed me that a letter had been returned to them, "no longer at this address" and they asked for my new address.
I told them, thanked them for their call, said goodbye and hung up.

By this point my brother and our other two friends were now sat with me.

"So, my solicitors just called. My decree absolutely came through. I'm officially divorced."
"That's a good thing" my brother replied. And in that moment he made me switch from the shock that I was no longer married. He made me switch from this confused feeling of...well...not knowing what or how to feel.
I instantly looked at him, and looked in front of me at the most beautiful view and knew he was right.
It wasn't a shock, I knew the decree absolute was coming at some point. But it was that "final" feeling. 
It's done. 
It's over.

I posted on Facebook "Beautiful view. Cold beer. Good company. Then a phone call from the solicitors office. 
Officially divorced" and the responses from friends were enough to make me realise how lucky I was to get that news on this day.

"Best place to hear that kinda of news! Enjoy your beer, the sights and the company xxx"

"Look at it as a sign - you're in a place you love with someone you love. New beginnings and all that xx"

"You are with the best person to hear that news x"

I realised just how obvious and clear it is to people what an amazing person my brother is. 
I made a friend recently on a TT Facebook group and within no time at all he said that it was obvious that my brother is my rock. 

Other moments that week stand out to me. Moments which all involve him, things he said and things he did. Facial expressions, things that made me laugh and things that made me cry. 
Those things are enough to make me wake up to the fact that I might have a marriage behind me, I might not be good enough for any other man but when it comes to my brother...I am good enough. And no matter what, he will be there for me. 

And that's all I need.
That one man guaranteed to put a smile on my face and make me feel better. 



The Importance Of Pest Control When Living In A Rustic Home

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners up and down the UK are sharing their houses with unwanted pests.

But, owners of old rustic homes, particularly those that are located in the countryside or small villages surrounded by fields and woods, need to be particularly careful when it comes to pests. They are both in easy reach and incredibly attractive to pests and as a result can be faced with a considerable amount of, sometimes, irreparable damage.  

So don’t wait for the issue to arise – do what you can to avoid it and always keep an eye out for signs that pests have entered your home. You don’t want to discover mice in your house, after they have already been chewing on the wooden beams that hold your house up, for a week.

How to deter them…

  • Pests are attracted to food – so make sure you don’t leave anything out on the side – including leftovers. Food scraps should be put straight in the bin and this should be emptied regularly. Ideally everything else should be stored in containers.
  • If you don’t have one already then you may want to get a pet cat – the smell of their urine alone is enough to deter rodents.
  • A sonic repellent will keep rats out before they even try and enter your home by emitting high frequency sound waves which repel rodents, but are completely inaudible to people and non-rodents.
  • To avoid wasps you could hang a false nest outside your home, as wasps don’t tend to build their nest next to another one.

What to look out for…

  • Mice and rats have very strong teeth and can gnaw through almost anything – so look out for teeth marks made in food packaging, cables and walls.
  • Can you hear scratching or scrambling around when the house is quiet? It is likely insects, mice or other pests are causing this noise.
  • Look out for holes in walls, doors and floors – these are easy entrances and exits, particularly for rodents and are often a sign you are already sharing with them.
  • Droppings are a clear sign that you have a rodent infestation. They are very unhygienic and need to be cleaned up as soon as possible.

What to do if you discover your home is infested …    
There isn’t anything worse than finding out that your home has been infested, and on top of that horrible feeling you have just knowing these pests are in your home, you also have the huge task of getting rid of them.

This needs to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Firstly, you may want to contact your local council to find out if they provide pest control services – although be aware that there could be a fee for this. You could hire a pest controller or you could deal with the issue yourself.

The first thing to consider, if you plan to deal with it yourself, is which pest has infested your home and whether you feel comfortable dealing with them yourself.  

If you do, then you need to determine the best way to get rid of them. If it is mice or rats, for example, then a common way to deal with them is by using traps. This could be a snap or electric mouse trap, but a more humane way is to use a live trap. These are easy to set and bait and can catch around 30 mice at once. You don’t have to see or touch them, but you can also get rid of them without having to kill them.  

If you find that you struggle to get rid of the pest yourself then do call in the experts and let them sort it out for you.


#bml16 | Instagrammed


Quit Talking and Begin Doing

Last year I think I made a lot of decisions that changed my life.
Big decisions.
Some were easy, and some were big, hard decisions.

The big decisions however do not at all outweigh the smaller ones.
Smaller, easier decisions can be just as life changing.
They might be really obvious changes that make you wonder why on earth you hadn't done it before.

Making the decision to separate with my ex husband was massive, and it played on mind mind for a long time for months before it happened.
Once it was done it wasn't easy and there were big challenges to face but ultimately it taught me a lot, made me stronger and changed my outlook on life in a big way.

"Quit talking and begin doing"

It was the moment I realised that we spend so much time being "all talk" and need to put into action more of our ideas, plans and desires.
Life is too short for "regrets" and if the decision you have to make is something as big as ending a marriage then you have to do it, as long as you are sure that your life will be improved.

Since then I have stuck to my word. If I want to do something, and the opportunity arises, then  I say yes  if the opportunity doesn't arise then I see if there is anything I can do to bring that opportunity into my life.

There has to be questions you ask yourself when making these decisions:

"Who will it affect?"
"What's the worst that can happen?"
"Is it worth it?"
"Can it wait?"
"How much do you want it?"

There are decisions I've made that turned out to be wrong. I don't want to say I regret them because I don't really believe in regrets anymore. But there have been a couple of decisions that lead to hurt and also resulted in me questioning how people (men) see me.

But then there are other decisions that made me the person I am today.
They brought me new hobbies and interests I never thought would be possible for me. And they have brought me closer to my brother, and those choices, those decisions, were the best of my life.
Once upon a time they wouldn't have been, but for me right now, they 100% were.

I fully encourage taking risks, sticking to your word and taking life by the balls and going for it.

We only have one life.
Quit talking.
Begin doing.



You Got This

Gosh life is hard at times.
Little things that build up, and you work your way to break them down and for life to be manageable and then "BOOM!" here's something big to test you too. 

Adulting is tiring. I have never felt this tired. Even when I had a newborn baby and was up all hours feeding, comforting, with little nap breaks in the day, I didn't feel as tired as this.
This mental exhaustion. Added to the physical exhaustion. It just gets a bit much.

I keep seeing all the things I am failing at. All the times I let people down.
I very rarely see success in myself and feel I have made people proud.

I put an immense amount of pressure on myself in so many areas.
I put so much pressure on myself to try and please everyone else and to make everyone else happy that I forget about myself.
I try to impress people so much that I'm starting to wonder who I really am.

As soon as I start to feel like I'm close to being settled and knowing who I am I have a set back. I know life is full of challenges but I feel like one small challenge is a domino affect for everything else.

"You got this"
I tell myself. Over and over.
Trying to convince myself and trying to believe  that I might in fact have some control over my life and be able to get through it without drifting as I am.

I wonder how I am ever going to cope and manage.
If I will ever feel in a place where I can say 'You got this".
I don't expect to be able to manage everything, or to be in control of everything, but to be in a place where I can go "ok, I kind of know how my life is right now and what I should be doing".
To have some kind of order and not a life that is as messy as my head.
For people to be able to say "Oh Lauren, yeah she's got her shit together".

For me to be able to confidently look at myself in the morning each day, smile and tell myself
"Oh Lauren, You Got This".



#singlelife 003 | Rejection

Dating sites are a bit hit and miss. I've learnt a lot from them the past 10 months.
I think you gradually build thick skin and at first you can be super sensitive to it all, and there are still times you can sit and look and wonder where all the nice men are or even wonder why you are not good enough for the ones who have caught your eye.

I am the type of person who takes a lot to heart. I am over sensitive and annoyingly I can  fall for people quite quickly, so dating isn't the best game for me.
However, as it goes on I am getting stronger and am learning a lot about myself, about men, about the process and so on.

I realised quite early on that it is so easy to give up if one date doesn't lead anywhere, or if a conversation doesn't lead to a date, or if you don't even get a reply. It's easy to beat yourself up and to let it affect your self esteem.
I realised that this isn't what dating should be about. And I took the decision to look at each man I date for example and to learn from it.
I do think that we meet people for a certain reason.

It would be easy to sit there and think of all the reasons it didn't work out, placing all the "blame" on you.
1. I'm a mum
2. I'm fat
3. I'm boring
4. I laugh too much
5. Something else negative
But the best thing is to sit there and actually think of why you were maybe too good for them, or why it wouldn't have worked. To look at what you've learnt from how things went. How you approached them or how they approached you.

But there's also the biggest, most obvious reason it might not have worked, or why someone maybe didn't reply to your initial message.
We are able to pick and choose who we date. We swipe and check out these profiles and we decide from there.
And as we are doing that, someone is doing that for us too.

For every person we reject someone is rejecting us too and that is ok.
I think it's really important to remember that.
Just because he doesn't fancy you, and neither does he, or him, or him, it doesn't mean no one does.

It doesn't mean you're not good enough either. Maybe you are too good for them. Or equally maybe you are both as good as each other, but you simply wouldn't work.

There can be chemistry, there can be attraction...mentally or physically but there but be other bits that are missing.

Rejection becomes part of everyday. And you get used to it. You have to not take it personally, even if it makes you feel worthless or not good enough. Because you have to remember that there are people out there willing to get to know you, to want to spend time with you, or their life with you, and to love you.

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