Tag Archives: family

The Little Jar

I’ve been neglecting my little page a bit lately but a stressful few days have gotten me in the mood to sit and write something. There’s something about getting motivated and creating a thing that didn’t exist before I sat down and started typing, that always manages to make me feel a bit better. A bit less useless. It let’s me tell this wonderfully persistent, naggy brain of mine that in fact, I am kinda good at shit.

So I was thinking today, as I do most days along with 7 zillion other things, about how very fast this year is zipping past and the fact that it’s almost 1/4 of the way through already. Oh screw it I’m going to say it, we’re nearly 1/4 of the way back round to Christmas guys! It’s almost Easter. My 25th birthday is in just over 10 weeks. It’s almost a year since I bound and submitted my dissertation. It’s Spring already.

Just to state the obvious for a second – humour me here and pretend you hadn’t already noticed – one of the various obsessions that my clinically anxious mind likes to have repeated dalliances with is the notion of just how fast the time around which we choose to structure our lives likes to flit by, leaving us staring after it like a hungry dog who’s just watched a butcher run past (inexplicably but it’s a metaphor, go with it) with a string of sausages dangling  over his shoulder; but realises pretty sharpish that he’s tied to a lamppost and has to sit and watch as the juicy sausages fade into memory.

The point is, the year is flying by in the same whirlwind fashion that all of it’s brothers before have done before and all it’s successors will continue to do.

So I think it’s time to stop for a minute and take stock of the year so far. It’s been a big 3 months, and an exciting 3 months. Actually taking a look back at it serves to make it feel a lot less short; it feels good to realise how much has happened in that time. To name a few, one of my best friends and my older-little brother both passed their driving tests. Another bestie started her lessons and another one conquered her nerves and re-started them after a long break. My Mam, another of my best friends and my older sister have all made drastic changes to their lifestyles that they’ve wanted to make for a long time, and are already healthier, slimmer and happier. My big sister started her Nursing degree (yesterday, actually) and is a big step closer to achieving the career she’s always wanted. Another very good friend of mine had an easel built for her by her boyfriend and started to paint again (which is great news for everyone). I’ve had various blog posts shared by prominent mental health organisations and started blogging for the website of a fantastic local (for now) organisation. I’ve also signed up and been in training for my first ever running event.

So it’s safe to say I’m one very proud lady, with a lot of great people in my life. I’m also more than a little bit sentimental in character, just in case I didn’t state the obvious enough earlier.

So as previously pointed out I’m a major over-thinker and a lot of the time this can make it hard to be positive and upbeat about things because I’m always finding something to worry about. Sometimes it feels like there’s a sunny, positive, probably pretty annoying person inside me trying to burst out, but she’s held back by frustratingly obsessive worries and anxiety. Last year this finally drove me to undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and it was very helpful. CBT is not about delving into your childhood to figure out the hows and whys of the way you feel. It’s much more about learning how to regain control of your thoughts in order to be happier and, for me, more productive. One of the things I learned a lot about is just how closely our thoughts, feelings and actions are linked and how to employ actions to take back some control of what you’re thinking and in turn, how you feel.

So in order to work on feeling more positive, I decided early in the year after seeing the idea somewhere on the infinitely wise inter-web, to start keeping a little jar in which I stick a little bit of paper each night, after writing on it something positive from my day. Sometimes it’s something I’m thankful for, sometimes it’s something fun I did or something that I achieved. Sometimes it’s just something really funny that happened.

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I know, horribly cheesy!

But you know what, it works! I have a hell of a lot to be positive about and although I recognise deeply all those reasons to be positive and I think about them all the time, sometimes my brain doesn’t like to let me really feel as positive about them as I want to. So the idea is that by making a point of doing this every night, I’m reinforcing my sense of how positive my life is, by acting on it.

I guess I’m sharing this because as simple as it is, I have felt a positive affect from it. It can’t fail to make you look at things a bit more positively when you realise how easy it actually is to think of something good from every day; and I’d recommend it for anyone who sometimes finds it hard to feel as positive about life, as their probably-pretty-great life should allow.

And if you’re anything like me, feeling more positive about what you do have will motivate you to work harder on achieving the things that aren’t in the jar yet!

I’ve been having a look back through my jar tonight and it turns out I’ve got a fair amount to feel good about! Here’s a few of my examples picked at random, just in case you’re interested…

“Booked up for Primrose Valley with the fam in the Summer. First time in 4 years, can’t wait!”

“Celebrating Tamara’s 25th in Hertford, catching up with uni mates”

“Saw Andrew Maxwell… at Newsham Side Club!”

“Chilling with Ethan (my nephew) in bed, doing some writing”

“Amazing dinner at Laura and Gary’s with the gang!”

“Had a great day fundraising with Nicole (my niece) and made loads of money! Nicole and I wrote her first ever blog post, too!”

“Spent the afternoon hanging out with Danni (best friend) and Sav (soon-to-be-Goddaughter)”

“Spent a couple of hours at Aunty Marion’s looking at pics of Grandma and Grandad at my age! Great to talk about how they were as Grandparents and learn about them as a young couple”

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A Love Yee Like Ma!

Similarly to a lot of 20-somethings not long out of Uni, my concept of what I want to do, how I want to use my adulthood, which of the many and varied opportunities that lay at my feet I should grab by the horns and point blank refuse to let go of, is a very blurred one. If my plan for the future was a painting, it would most definitely be an abstract one. If my ideas about where I want to be when I’m 30 were to be likened to another part of our lifelong learning curve, the most fitting life-stage would be that part between baby and toddler, when a child seems to start realising that the status quo of being carried around, having their nappy changed when needed and crying to communicate needs to change at some point, that they are now going to start growing hard in a specific direction; but they are yet to develop a clear concept of exactly what that is going to involve.

However, although my many and varied ideas about the life that I want to pursue can at times mutate and transform beyond all recognition on an hourly basis, there are a few common threads that run through them all.

Bear with me for one more paragraph, I promise this post isn’t actually about me…

One of them is finding a job that I enjoy doing at least most of the time because to adopt an admittedly cheesy-sounding but undeniably sound philosophy, “life is too short” to wish away 5 out of each 7 days and experience Sunday-night-dread 1 evening  of every, single, week. They also include doing a job that allows me to have a positive effect on the lives of as many people as possible; learning what it is that I need in order to be happy and pursuing it; eventually owning my own home; seeing as much of the world as possible; and (this is a biggie) some day becoming a mother as loving and supportive as mine is.

There it is, quite a smooth link there if you ask me! So in true vomit-inducing fashion – no apologies will be made so if it turns your stomach, you shall just have to look away – here are a list of things that I am thankful to my Mam for on this Mother’s Day, because I think the woman deserves to know just how much of a positive impact she has had and continues to have, on my life.

So anyway, this is by no means a comprehensive list and I’ll no doubt be missing things out. But at this moment in time, Mam, these are the things I want you to know I’m thankful for:

– for being the kind of Mam my friends can hang out with whether I’m there or not

– for giving me so many siblings that I’ll never fail to have someone to go to, even if there was anything that I couldn’t come to you with (this also makes joint present-buying a very strong opportunity)

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– for welcoming me with open arms back into our family home, quite a few more times than I ever intended. And for making that family home the place that I most love to be. I am under no illusions about the fact that many people dread the times they have to make an appearance at their parents’!

– for always showing me when you are proud of me. For yelling like a loony at my graduation as I walked across the stage.

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– for being my all time favourite person to dance with, only partly because we dance exactly the same!

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– for teaching me compassion, by showing it genuinely for many people that you don’t know from Adam. And crying at the opening of an envelope!

– for putting up with much more than is covered by your motherly-duties, to have me close and make sure I’m OK.

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So I hope you have a lovely Mam’s Day Mam, and thank you, really.

Our Fundraising Weekend

A little while ago I asked my Mam if I could raise some money for charity because I wanted to help people that don’t have as much money as us. image So I asked Aunty Lauren if she wanted to help and she was very excited. Me, Mam and Aunty Lauren came up with a big list of ideas and we decided on two things to do. The first thing was a sponsored walk from Blyth beach to St. Mary’s lighthouse which was my Mam’s idea. We did our sponsored walk yesterday and we walked about 7 miles in very very strong wind! At one point it was so windy that we were nearly blown into the sea! image image Before we even started walking, in the carpark at Blyth beach, a man in a big DFS truck stopped and put some money in our bucket! We also already had £156 in sponsors on our JustGiving page before we did the walk! Everyone was really generous and they were all saying good luck and well done. image The walk took us 1 hour and 45 minutes but that was with lots of toilet breaks at the pubs on the way! I also went to the public toilets next to the beach and they were ugly and horrible, but thats enough about the toilets! We had 10 grown ups and 5 children and the grown-ups complained more than the kids! My little cousin Jak is only 4 years old and he walked and ran the whole entire way! Weird and Funny Picture! When we got there we had some food and drinks and we bought an ice-cream, even though some of the grown-ups thought this was crazy because it was so cold and windy! image image image image But it was fine because me and my Uncle Liam kept warm next to the van attached to the ice-cream van, at one time we were sitting inside the door of the van! A few more people had stopped to give us money on the way because we had made special t-shirts with red nose faces and the red nose logo on the front and a “please sponsor us” message on the back.” When we got back everyone was very tired but we were excited about how much money we had made. We counted and we were up to about £310. A family friend even knocked on the door a little while after we got back, to give us some money! My Aunty Lauren and Jade snuggled up on the settee and had a sleep, while me and Aunty Caitlin let Kenzie do our make-up.image We made some tea and some cupcakes and then we had an early night to get ready for facepainting the next day. The second part of our fundraising was facepainting for children and grown ups at the Keel Row pub. image Once we had picked Sophie up we went to the pub and at first we were locked our because they weren’t open yet! But we were let in early and we got a table and sat down to wait for my Mam to come with the facepaints and the rest of our posters and things. When my Mam got there we set up everything on the table and people were starting to come in. We painted each others faces first. I did a silly red nose face on Aunty Lauren and made her whole face bright red! I got one done too, by Sophie. image image It took a while for the first person to come and get their face done so we just had fun painting each others faces. The first person to come over was a little girl who got a butterfly just like me! After that some of the men came to get theirs done and that was really funny! One got a pirate and then the other one asked for a pirate but his friends were sneaky and asked us to do Kermit the Frog instead, so that’s what me and Soohie did! He was surprised when he looked in the mirror. Everyone was very very geberous and even though not many people got their faces done, we still made about £120! image image There are still some sponsors which people have not been able to pay yet so we do not know our final, final total but we counted everything tonight and we have made £427.58!!!!!!!!!! That is so much more than we were expecting when we set our first target of £50! I feel really happy that we have made so much. From one little idea that I had it has spread and spread with people sharing and sharing it, from our friends to their friends to their friends. image Thank you very much everyone for sponsoring us. I’ve had a great weekend and I cant believe how much I’ve raised with everyones help. Thank you!

And thank you especially  to my Mam for helping with everything and making sure we didn’t forget anything, so everything could be perfect!

image The funniest part of the whole weekend was when my Dad let me paint his face as Raphael! I even painted his spiky hair (not that he has much)! image Thank you everyone! Love Nicole Barnes xxx

What Sisters are For

The men in my family aren’t doing too badly for themselves when it comes to ladyfolk.

My eldest brother who’s 27 years young has a beautiful wife. They were married last summer and we were all so happy to have her join the family. She’s a wonderful girl and adores my big bro (I figure we all have our faults, so we don’t judge her for that one)!

The middle brother is 21 and he’s engaged to a lovely girl who has even managed to get him hoovering on a regular basis and cooking more than beans on toast, which was always going to be an impressive feat, so serious brownie points there!

As for the littlest brother, whom I probably can’t get away with calling little in any sense of the word any more, he’s just-turned 16 and seems out of nowhere to have become a good looking, strapping young bloke. Hopefully he never reads this though, we don’t want that noggin getting over-inflated. It is my sisterly duty to keep him down to earth after all and that’s not done successfully by dishing out the compliments too generously! Anyway, my not-so-little brother has a lovely girlfriend, who’s an older woman, no less!

So they’re not doing badly at all, my merry band of brothers.

However despite all of the above, I was still surprised, amused and quite frankly reduced to coo-ing like a broody 20-something at a toddler’s nativity play the other day, as I struggled to cope with the cuteness levels when I discovered that even my nephew has somehow landed himself a girlfriend. My 3 year old nephew!

Her name’s Thalia, I think. I can’t be 100% sure as his little voice was very muffled by the school jumper sleeve that was swiftly crammed into his mouth when I asked, as well as by the fact that he basically just didn’t want to tell me.

What is this little girl like? Well he says that she smells. Naturally. After all he’s just under two months from his 4th birthday, and she’s a girl.

Naturally he was a bit embarrassed about the whole situation and as you would expect his big sister, at the grand old age of 8, had a whale of a time with this valuable information that she had managed to appropriate at school that day. I’d feel bad for the little guy but let’s face it, he’s going to be in a great position to exact his revenge in a few years’ time, when big sis tries to get away with anything that she shouldn’t be doing, at school or otherwise. Little brothers (and sisters) have an uncanny way of making sure they’re around at the most blackmail-worthy moments; and I’m sure the little guy will get his own back!

Kids say the Harshest Things

So I’m living back in my family home since finishing Uni last Summer.

At 24 and a half, I’m definitely feeling the pressure – though from nobody but myself (and possibly a teeny bit from my little sister who wants my bedroom) – to progress my life in at least some fashion since achieving the ‘walked off the edge of a cliff’ experience of graduating over 6 months ago now; but for the moment I really do love living here.

Of course there are the obvious perks like once again being able to give Mam a ring on the way home from work on a cold, grey winter night and get her to stick the bath on. Not to mention the distinct and very well appreciated lack of rent payments to be made (though of course I do pay my way) and the fact that there is no utterly incompetent and/or criminally negligent landlord in the equation to get my blood boiling to unhealthy temperatures.

But the best thing about living at home is definitely that I get to see my nieces and nephews loads, and properly watch them grow up. Of course I have to admit that this is me in a good mood talking – this house is a rather chaotic, manic and at times shouty one and that’s not always fun. But it’s always been that way and for the vast majotity of the time I love it!

So today I got up – like most Saturdays – when I decided that I couldn’t roll over, sandwich my head between two pillows and ignore the racket from downstairs any longer. It sounded like my completely amazing if sometimes a tad (quite a lot) shouty Mam was having a whale of a time with the 8, 3 and 2 year olds and it was after 10am (which meant I’d had a 4-hour lie in compared to most week days) so I wasn’t too much like a bear with a sore head as I went downstairs.

The two older cherubs (little brother and his big sister) were sitting in the armchair in the corner having a rare moment of peacefully playing a game together (this is a pretty big deal) on big sister’s iPad. After a few minutes of chatting to Mam while they played and I made us both a cuppa, I was mercilessly ganged up on in what has to have been the funniest verbal attack that’s ever occurred without a quick-witted comedian and an ill-fated heckler being involved. I’m not even sure how or why it started but here in ascending order for your comedic enjoyment, are the best of the insults that were hurled at me over the 5 minutes that followed:

  1. “Stupid face, you smell like poo” – some pretty standard 3 year old material
  2. “Aunty Lauren you’ve got a bum-head on your face” – erm… unique
  3. “Yeah, you’ve got a bum on your face… you’ve got cheeks…so bum cheeks” – ahh, outwitted by 8 year old logic!
  4. “That’s cos you’re old… in fact I think you already know that…” – insightful…
  5. “You’re so spotty… you’re like Mr Tumble’s spotty bag…” – that’s right, this one’s my personal favourite, I’m a spotty bag. Spotty. Bag.

Needless to say I would have been left reeling from this creative tyrade – if I wasn’t completely used to it. And if it wasn’t so hilarious. And if it wasnt followed very closely by this from 3 year old Ethan – “Aunty Lauren, I just love you!”

So yeah, that was the first 15 minutes of my Saturday. You’re jealous right? I would be!

P.s. this one wasn’t aimed at me but there’s no way I could leave it out. A few minutes later Nicole the 8 year old piped up with this absolute gem! She informs me that she heard it in a Taylor Swift song but coming out of the mouth of an 8 year old to describe her younger brother and cousin, I think it’s found its perfect place in the world – “Aren’t Ethan and Kenzie a nightmare wrapped up in a daydream?”

I’m still laughing now!