Five Things | Highlights of 2016

I could easily look back on 2016 and list the tough things, the downsides and the negatives.
But I feel so lucky to be able to actually look back and have had a pretty good year and to have a lot of happy memories.

Quality Twin Time

I talk a lot about how I adore my brother. Three of my main happy memories from last year involved him...in fact four of my happy memories involve him!
It's been a hard few years as I adjusted to not having a male role model in my life in the form of my dad. My brother had always been very protective of me and has always been someone I look up to so I haven't felt that void so much.
When he moved away to Somerset I didn't really ever expect us to do things together. I was obviously married at the time and was planning a family so I just assumed I guess that any time I saw him I would be with my husband or with my children.
And then 2015 happened and we went on our first holiday together. Without my husband. Without my children. Without our mum. And it cemented in my head just how special he is and just how special our relationship is.
We had a lot of comments from people saying "I wouldn't be able to go on holiday with my brother/sister" and I felt so proud that we could do that.
That week turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life and a week that completely changed my life...and changed me.
Last year we had the TT to look forward to again, which had an added bonus which I'll talk about later. And just after the TT he asked if I wanted to go to Ireland for our birthday. Just the two of us, for a road trip.
Again, both of those breaks were just amazing and made me so thankful for having him in my life.
Then with some changes to days off and swapped shifts at work I decided to plan a last minute trip to visit him to Somerset. He was working but we managed one day out together to Bath and one day to watch him drag racing, but also two meals out and a takeaway/film night in. And that's one thing I love about my brother, he makes time special. He is a protector, whether or not he realises it.


I feel like writing this I am completely jinxing myself and that this will all go wrong. But...let's try it.
2016 brought me friendships.
A lot of these were through work, which makes me so grateful for my job.
When I started working there in 2015 I had certain friendships and there were some people it took a while to click with, who I didn't expect to become such good friends. Then there was a change and two of them (who were/are members of management) have become my best friends.
We can have nights out just the three of us, we have private jokes and it's just perfect. And this year has already started off even better with plans of Chinese and board game nights (I know, we are so rock n roll) and I just feel so comfortable and settled with them. I can be myself and they don't judge me for it. They know pretty much everything about me and it makes me feel content.
My manager gave me the responsibility of arranging interviews for job vacancies last year. Still high fiving myself at the three people we employed and I take 80% of responsibility for those choices now.
Anyway, two really stood out to me. One of which now does the same job as me, and annoyingly we never work on the same days!
Another one just feels to me like the weirdest friendship because of how quickly we have clicked. It took ages for us to actually meet as we didn't work on the same days at first and I had a holiday but my mum went into the store and said that a really nice girl served her, that she hadn't seen her before so she must be the "new girl" (hate that term). I asked what she was like and my mum replied with "She looks like your kind of girl"...or something along those lines.
I met her and thought she was so much better than me and that there was no way we would be friends, other than work-colleague-friends but yeah...anyway...it turns out I am good enough (that is SO hard for me to write).
There are people in life who are good for you in so many different ways and she is one of them.
And another friendship was made at the TT. My brother invited along his friend and in all honesty I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first.
She rides a motorbike, is pretty, lovely figure, and stupidly I felt intimidated. I just had this feeling that we wouldn't get on, because I am this "fake" when it comes to motorbikes...I appreciate the sport and appreciate bikes looking good but I don't know anything about these numbers, letters, names and which bike is the best. I can rate the riders in order of looks and who looks best in leathers and look at a bike to appreciate the colours and how comfy it looks to sit on. And that's it.
But again, I worried for no reason. We got on really well, and THANK GOD at the end of last year my wish came true and the year ended on a high when her and my brother became a couple...eventually!! They are so well suited...literally PERFECT together.
I think as a sister I am protective over my brother too and I always have this fear that he will find someone who I wouldn't get along with. Selfish I know, but I am so thankful that we get on well and that we had a friendship before they moved to that next level.

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Obviously tattoos play a big part in my life in 2016. I went from someone who hated tattoos, to then thinking I'd just get a couple of small ones...to then pretty much an addiction.
Tattoos are one of the subjects that everyone has an opinion on. I think I'd be fair in comparing it to breastfeeding and how people have their opinions on that topic.
Whether or not opinions are asked for, people will give them. Positive or negative, people seem unafraid to tell you what they really think.
This was hard for me at first. I am proud of my tattoos. Each one has a meaning and a friend of mine put it perfectly when I posted a video of my half sleeve on Instagram by saying "It feels like there's a story in all of that".
I think the fact that my tattoos are personal is why I can find it offensive and take it to heart when someone says they don't like them.
I am at the point where I am able to not take those comments to heart as much because it's my body, and I would never tell anyone else what to do, or what not to do, to their own body.
These are now part of me and part of who I am and I am proud of them. They make me confident and make me feel like me.
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I wrote about the Dunlops and about getting to meet them last year and how it was one of the best days and moments of my life.
I do worry that people just look at it as a crush and that it's only because they are good looking but it is so much more than that.
If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be into this sport, I would probably still think motorbikes were crap and that people who race them are selfish, but because of them I understand the passion so much and realise that it's not as simple as getting on a ike and riding...there is a skill to it and my goodness are they talented! It's just an added bonus that they look amazing in leathers.
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I was really lucky to be able to get four holidays last year, and a weekend away with my boys. 
I do love having my freedom, and I love being in control. I love being able to get away from it all and although I worry about being judged for having a holiday away from my children (3 last year) I know it is good for me to have that head space and to be able to just be free for a while.
As you may know the Isle of Man has my heart. But I completely fell in love with Ireland last year too. I never expected it to be so beautiful and really hope to be able to visit again. I highly recommend visiting there, especially the way we did it with flying over, hiring and car and then road tripping along the coast with no real plans and no accommodation being booked.
I also went on holiday with the boys and my mum in August. We went to Tenerife, I'd always dreamed of taking the boys on a boat trip to see whales and dolphins at Tenerife so it was a dream come true. 
It was tricky because everywhere I looked there were families....proper families and we seemed to be the only that wasn't the typical family unit. It didn't affect the boys, they didn't notice. But I did. 
My mum was amazing though and it was wonderful being able to spend some quality time with her. 
In November I had a rare Saturday off work so decided to take the boys away for a couple of nights. We went to Woburn to visit the Safari park and had a little catch up with Hayley whilst we were there.
Solo parenting isn't easy. But I felt proud that I managed to take them away, to stay in a hotel just the three of us and then to spend a fun day together. 



if you can hear me, through the walls.

When I'm crying, in my room, laying on my bed with my face planted so tightly in the pillow to muffle the loud sobbing coming from within me.
When I'm crying, in my room, curled in a ball on the floor, holding my stomach and my heart to try and ease the pain inside me.
I wonder if you can hear me, through the walls.

I want to explain why.
I want you to know why I get to that point.
Why you have to listen to that.

I don't always like myself.

I look in the mirror and hate who I see. I dislike her so much that just looking at her makes my eyes fill with tears. I feel like I can't get rid of her and that I am trapped with no where to go and no where to run. I am stuck with her and it doesn't matter what I do I cannot change that.
I look at photos of who I was a year or so ago and I much prefer her. When I was slimmer and I keep saying that I know I can be her again, I just need to be strict and not eat the way I do but I don't feel strong enough. And I hate that. I hate that I don't feel strong enough to be the person I liked looking at.

I feel like a failure.

In so many areas of my life, I feel like a failure. I feel like I am not good enough, like I'm not able to do the simplest of things.
I compare myself to others and I am nowhere near as good as them and am not at the place I should be. Not as an adult, or as a parent, as a friend, as a woman.

My life is in too much of a routine.

Not in a positive way. I could do with being in a good routine but in terms of what I do each day, my routine isn't exciting.
I do the school run, go home to spend the day by myself. I pick the boys up from school, listen to them argue, feel like a failure as a mum, put them to bed and spend an evening by myself in bed or I go to sleep early...again because I am by myself.
Other days I do the school run, go to work, come home, and spend another evening by myself. Doing the same thing of going to bed early and sitting on my laptop/watching tv or going to sleep early.
I don't have the drive or energy to do anything, to tidy my house, to exercise. It's too easy to be in this routine, with no one behind me giving me a push.

I feel lonely.

You can have as many friends as you like living in your phone, feel like you have friends at work, have however many strangers like Instagram posts and read blog posts, but it's not real. It's not that real interaction. That actual feeling of being good enough for someone, to feel like you mean something and that you aren't just someone see's as a virtual friend and/or "work colleague".
Sometimes, I just want someone there to hug me and to tell me everything is ok. Not because I need to hear it, but because they mean it. Because they believe it. Because they believe in me.

I miss feeling like a proper family.

I didn't want to admit this. I didn't want to even accept it. I didn't realise until recently that I want to be part of a proper family unit again. It's something I think of so often. My daydreams are full of images of me, the boys and a man. Of us all smiling and having fun. Being a proper family.
Being accepted and not feeling like an outcast in certain communities for being a broken family.
I don't want anyone to take the place of the boys dad. But I want someone to be in that role, for all of us. As a positive role model, someone to make us all smile and to just be there as comfort and support.
Someone else for us to love too.

Jane Beata Watercolour & pen on 300g Fabriano paper, 21 x 29cm Tumblr/Shop:


Five Things I've Learnt Already in 2017

Thirteen days into 2017 I feel like I've already learnt a lot. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing really. Or maybe it's a mixture of both.

Being Brave Creates Excitement

When I go to the Isle of Man this year I am going to drive over and go on the ferry instead of doing what I have done in the past and getting a Flybe plane over.
I am really nervous. I have to first of all drive to Liverpool....which is a long drive in itself. And then drive onto the ferry. I have never done that before, so doing it alone is quite a big deal.
I'd be happy to just be able to stay in my car for the whole journey, but obviously that isn't an option so having to go and find somewhere to sit and to keep myself entertained. To not give into the temptation of freaking out and hiding in the toilets.
My brother is leaving a day before me. Meaning I have to spend one night and one day by myself. Something which I guess I do feel nervous about, but in another way I feel really brave. Once upon a time it would have been something I would never have done. But now, it excites me. I feel free and strong I guess to be able to do this by myself and to feel brave enough to do it.
When I look back at the moments in the last two years where I have felt scared but fought through it and ended up feeling brave, it makes future adventures and fears  even more exciting...still scary but definitely exciting.

seth godin, yes.                                                                                                                                                                                 More:

Be Careful Who You Trust and Follow Your Instincts

I've always been far too trusting of people. I let people in too easily, I trust them far too easily. I warn others about these people and don't take my own advice. This year, already I have had that wake up call that I need to listen to myself, shut people out, and look at who is around me. It doesn't matter how friendly someone is, what they say to you, how sweet they come across, or words they say to you, they will stab you in the back as soon as they can, for no reason. 
Thankfully, the people who have done this to me mean only a little to me so it is no great loss, and will just be seen as a lesson learnt.
Don't trust to easily, keep people at a distance, and listen to my own advice.
probably why it's my most hated creature on earth…can not be trusted!:

Know Your Worth

I guess leading off from the above I have learnt to have respect for myself and to stand up for myself if I feel I'm not being treated how I think I should be.
I've always been the type of person who gives everyone a chance, I am quite open and will take "banter" and so on but there are certain things that I won't accept anymore. It's taken me a while to be able to stand up for myself, to be strong enough to tell someone that they can't talk to me a certain way or treat me a certain way.
Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of people who have little respect for others.
The places I once felt safe and felt like were my escape have become the opposite because of particular people, and that's not what I want my life to be like. 
I feel like I have to many other areas of my life that are hard and require effort and attention and following my heart and being strong enough to know what I am worth will make my life so much better.

 Respect yourself enough to say "I deserve peace", and walk away from people or things that prevent you from attaining it.:

Quality not Quantity

I have a small circle of friends around me. It used to bother me. I used to look at women who had big groups of friends and feel jealous. I wanted to be like them. But I realised that despite being in these big groups, when they are separated they will still talk about each other. And I didn't want that.
For so long I turned down nights out, wanting instead to be with my family. And also thinking I wasn't good enough or fun enough to go out with other people. That invitations were because people felt they had to invite me rather than actually wanting to. 
Boxing Day last year my friend invited me out. I almost said no because I didn't feel like it at all. But I got myself ready and went anyway. I hated the thought of going out and only knowing one person in a group. Of meeting up with someone who had already been drinking when I was completely sober. But I went anyway. I think the world of this friend and didn't want to be the boring one who said no and to then jeopardise future invitations. I was so glad I went. And last week we spent a girly day together which had me on a high.
I get overwhelmed when people want to be my friend, especially when it's people who I think are way to good for me!
I also went on another night out with two other friends, again wasn't in the mood to go but went anyway and was glad I did. I've realised recently that I worry far too much about people not liking me and people thinking negatively about me that I don't focus on those who might actually like me, who might like the things I talk about and might think that actually I am a good person, I am fun and I am nice to be around.

 9 Cliché but True Mantras to Get You Through the Day. For when you just can’t deal. @PureWow:

My Life, My Body, My Choices

It doesn't matter what you do in life, people will always have an opinion. Someone will always tell you what they don't like, rather than praising. 
Don't do this, don't do that, you will regret this, you will regret that. 
For two years I've heard that and more. And I don't know if it makes me more angry than sad to be honest.
My views and opinions on life have changed massively the last couple of years. I am a lot more relaxed about things, a lot more open minded, and I really feel like I want to make the most of my freedom. 
My body is included in that. 
I have got tattoos...more than I expected I would ever have, and people have opinions on that. 
I used to let it upset me, I used to let it bother me. I used to doubt myself and my decisions but now I've learnt that, as long as I am happy, it doesn't matter what other people think.
I wouldn't tell someone not to do something in case they regretted it and am of the mind set that I would rather regret getting a tattoo than to regret not getting one. 
Every choice I make I think about for a long time. It's not such a spur of the moment decision...although I wouldn't ever rule those out.
I want to feel powerful and in control of myself and my life and my body because for so long I didn't feel that way. 
But now....I'm going to have confidence in my decisions and ignore any criticisms. 
And be proud of myself.
Care deeply about what others FEEL because that is what compassion is all about. Care about what others THINK only to the extent that it is constructive. What isn't is mere opinion, not fact.:

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