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Co-parenting: lessons learnt the hard way

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This blog is abut story telling, no specific topic just the honest truth about what I’ve experienced, how it has impacted my journey and can encourage yours.

So here goes….. Co-parenting (or whatever they call it),  that really half the times makes  parenting no less stressful, is a lesson in patience, kindness, wisdom and essentially all 9  fruits of the spirit.

Don’t you just love terminology?

I think it’s a good thing for both parents to be involved in a child’s life where possible. And would never dispute otherwise.

But let’s be honest adults once the relationship has broken down, especially if it was quite spectacular, recovering from it can be quite a challenge. It can take years and an abundance of maturity to work together and honestly speaking the child may get to 18 long before that ever happens.

I currently “co-parent” and 25% of the time I don’t have a problem sharing in the responsibility of raising our child. Dad is devoted and his daughter is number 1 in his life. The other 75% though is dread. It represents the time I spent dealing with the unorganised approach to anything or the hypochondriac tendencies.

Every decision, action and reaction is dramatised and I have to work twice as hard not to let this persons drama become my reality. Although I am no longer with the person, If I do not exercise caution, important aspects of my life can be negatively impacted because we share a child. And that does not work for me.

I want to share with you some of the lessons I have learnt over the years, in the hope that if you are in this position or this is about to become your reality, you recognise that:

You are no alone and it can get easy when you choose to control your actions and not the actions of the other party

  1. Set your boundaries and keep to them. Every heard of parent-child relationship?  As the parent you are consistent in making your point, even though the child is demanding something else. Co-parenting falls into the parent-child scenario, and the only way to ensure that your boundaries are observed is to set them and be consistent.
  2. Use wisdom and pick your battles wisely. You cannot force or make the other co-parent do things your way. And it is unhealthy to spend your time trying. Understand what is really important to you in terms of your parenting style and whether the outcome is for your benefit or the child’s.
  3. A response is not always needed. I am still learning this one. A text message does not always need a response.  And a not so sensible plan, that you can clearly see going south, with you left to pick up the pieces, does not always need a response. Trust me, save your thoughts for when a response truly matters.
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The glue gun saga and the power of motivation

As a mum of a creative and free spirited 9 year old, I have long learnt that nothing is safe in my house. Old dresses can be transformed into three piece outfits overnight, beautiful cards reserved for little notes to inspire others, become papier-mâché’ and even my sanitary napkin once became a shoe. I kid you not! As proof below you will find one transformed into a unicorn/person.

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Having illustrated the essence of my daughter’s character, I must say, I wouldn’t wish her any different. She is motivated by her creativity, which in turn makes her resourceful and witty.

Not only is my daughter motivated by her creativity, she is also massively motivated by money. I recently shared a video via Facebook, relaying my excitement at having bought a Selfie Stick. It was purchased on a Sunday for £9.99, and used to film my excitement and left in my room to recover.

As I got ready for work Monday morning I noticed my selfie stick had a shine to it. On closer inspection, I found it had been loving wrapped in gold tape. As I started to unravel the tape, I realised the selfie stick was broken. The little clever clogs!

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I promptly rushed into my daughters room, voiced my unhappiness and told her she would need to buy it back from her Christmas money. That was the worst news ever! She chanted the whole morning “I am not using my money to buy it back” and I was adamant, she would.

I have to confess, she did not. Miss little clever clogs, on return from school used the glue gun she received for Christmas to glue the selfie stick back to together! Her response “told you I wouldn’t buy it back”. Forget the cheekiness, in that moment I was so proud!

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Motivated by her creativity and a desire not to spend her money, she resolved to find a resolution to the predicament she found herself in.

It reminded me that at times we can find ourselves in unintended circumstances, where we are presented with limited options or no options at all; effectively stuck between a rock and a hard place.

In sharing this story I want to remind you, that you do not have to be trapped. Let your motivation be your light, your guide, your resolve to finding the right solution for your situation, and not to the detriment of your money, your creativity, your values, your relationship or any other factor. But staying true to who you are

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I encourage you as always to find your “why”, and hold on to it in challenging times. Persevere and find creative resolutions. Be confident in your goals, in your actions and keep striving.

If you find this a struggle, here are some helpful tips:

Reflect on what motivates you and put steps in place to keep yourself motivated, this may include:

  1. Writing down 1-2 sentences that affirm your “why”
  2. Repeating it to yourself everyday
  3. Taking 5 mins out of every day to visualise your vision
  4. Buddying up with a like-minded person
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Your path is yours alone

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I had driven nearly an hour in a muddle of road works and traffic, to satisfy an innate need. At the point I mentally committed myself to undertake the one hour journey, logistics was not at the forefront of my mind. I simply envisaged the reward awaiting me. A classic cheese burger from Bryon burgers washed down with an Oreo milkshake from heaven. Creamy, indulgent, thick, flavoursome milkshake sipped from a frozen metal cup. Pure indulgence!

Whenever I go to Byron I spend quite sometime staring at the menu, only to order the same dish. The cheese burger, with no onion. I then through nosy glances admire the tower of a burger being delivered to nearby tables, wishing mine would arrive looking just like that.

As the waiter approaches my table, I’m a little disappointed. “Oh, its so small” I think; and then I get stuck in, already convinced I’m going to need something else to eat as this will not quench my hunger. It simply will not do.

Then as I take my last bite of the burger, having drank half my milkshake. I get super happy that I did indeed chose the right meal, because my stomach is about to explode! I couldn’t eat another thing. I take comfort in my Oreo milkshake from heaven.

This story is a great analogy of the need to stay on our own path in life and make decisions aligned with our values, vision and what you can handle. Not decisions or actions based on what we see those around us doing.

It’s easy to steal glances or outright follow another’s path because it’s looks bigger and better, and you think it may bring satisfaction. In reality it does not and will not. Because that journey belongs to someone else and not you.

I encourage you, choose your own path, run your own race. Make life decisions based the outcome you want for your life. That way should challenges come you will be able to face and fight them based on your belief and vision.

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Thank you Mrs Obama

the collective good

For 2019, I made a commitment to myself to read more. To expand my knowledge, vocabulary and awareness of the world around me. I thought about having a list, which captured definite reads such as; The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which powerfully demonstrates that the journey to finding our dream, our purpose is ultimately right in front of us and John C Maxwell’s Put Your Dream to the Test, which I started a year ago.

But Alas, Christmas came and it was dinner and secret Santa time with my tribe. Our annual celebration of the year past and dreams for the future. 2018 was pretty intense, so while thankful, we were glad to see the back of it and we were ready to look forward. And so, it was an inspiration in itself to see that the same present I bought for my secret Santa, was the same present given to me: Becoming by Michelle Obama. Talk about having solid cheerleaders in your life that know just what you need.

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So my idea of a list went out the window and “Becoming” by the first lady of all times, became my first book of the year and it did not disappoint. The book was a revelation and an inspiration to me. So much so that everywhere I go, I find myself pledging to buy it for others. The writing style, the stories, the context, the journey, all eloquently captivated to give the reader a real insight into Mrs Obama’s life, her character, her passion and her values.

Her outlook, mind-set and approach was particularly inspirational. Despite her background, the challenges faced, or the position she now occupies, the former first lady consistently thrives to ensure that her actions and influence bring lasting change to the lives of many. And as someone who believes in the power of kindness to others, Becoming resonated with me on many levels.

By the end of the book, I stood at my kitchen window, looking out at the trees, the calm of the clear blue sky, reflecting on all I had just read. The legacy of it all and I thought this women is phenomenal; what I would say if I ever met her. And in that moment I decided I would write to her. I was going to journal a letter to the former first lady!

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In reality the letter is more meaningful to me, than it ever will be to her. The letter is an affirmation of all the promises I made to myself whilst reading her story. It is to recognise my connection to the world around me. The desire to do good, serve others and be present.

Updating my journal with that letter I realised that I had spent most of the life unconsciously operating in survivor mode. I wanted to do well in life, and that meant never stopping to thinking about my past. I concentrated on racing towards a future “only I could give myself” But in trying to forget the bad, I forgot about the good I had experienced and how that’s contributes to who I am today.

I forgot to look up and recognise the power of the collective and that the collective good can prevail. The world is changing, the struggles still exits. But if we each commit to doing what we can, the world can become a more inclusive place. So I will continue to chase after my dreams and be motivated in doing so. But more importantly I will take time to look up more often and do more good.

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Faith over fear

Let me put this out there, in encouraging you I am not speaking from a place of I have and you do not. I am not telling you I’ve made it and this is how. I am sharing with you that I get it, I’ve felt it and that the struggle is without a doubt unbelievable real.

My heart is to encourage you to see those struggles differently, to hold it together in the face of uncertainty, to take action and move boldly to, to see that we are all on an individual journey and that even when the image is glossy and rose tinted, we all face challenges and we all have successes and it’s all down to action and perspective.

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People look at me and say “you got it all together” someone even once told me “you’re famous now” but that’s perception. My action and perspective got me here. To a place where, I can confidently own my journey, view my challenges as growth and bring a positive mind set to whatever I am doing.

I haven’t made it yet, far from it, there is so much I want to do. My goal is to do colourful and dynamic things that bring positive change to the lives of people. But this is not really about me, it’s about you.

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I want you to know that you are capable, that although what you bring to the table may already exist, the truth is, it still’s needed. It’s still relevant. You are relevant and only you can believe that about yourself and what you have to offer despite it all. To have faith that your life can be everything you ever dreamed and more.

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I like to think that we know within ourselves who we are and we know when it’s make or break time and some of us get lots of opportunities which our eyes are not open to because we feel we can’t’ we’re not ready yet, or that’s not for me, what if I fail.

Let me say this, if you don’t try, you can’t succeed and to succeed, you must fail, and failure is not the end.

So I challenge you when you’re next make or break moment comes what are you going to do?

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Negativity as a catalyst for change

“You will never amount to anything”

beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negativity. (1)

I was a child running around causing havoc only as I would. My tongue was fierce and I was a feisty little madam. I had respect for authority, but I also deeply believed I had a right to readily challenge it. And trust me growing up in the Caribbean that was unheard of. You did what you were told even if, it was the most ridiculous  reasoning you ever heard.

Well intended statements such as “don’t sweep at night” “you think you bright (meaning to say clever) and “don’t question me” was a part of our everyday language. Even now, I often wonder why we continue to spew these words. I know culture is a big part of it, but surely it’s time we changed it?

Context over, here’s what I want to lay down.

One day I had obviously done something upsetting to my aunt but rather amusing to me. I don’t exactly remember what. I suppose you could say my mind fixated on the response rather than the action. And in her annoyance she yelled “you will amount to nothing, you will just get pregnant before time”

That statement is forever edged in my memory and yes subconsciously I still hold on to it. Not because I buy into the negativity it so clearly depicted, but because at the age of 9, I learned my first lesson about identity and self-worth. I heard her words, they became the air around me for about one minute.

I knew the weight of that statement, having heard it said a thousand times in my short little life. It was common and in some ways normal to speak that over girls who exhibited any form of behaviour not consistent with “staying in line with the rules”

You want to know what I did. I reclaimed the air in the room. I rebuked that negativity over me and I vowed to “show them”. Them, being all those who have and would cast down words of negativity on me or put limits of the design of my life. I used that statement to; propel me, challenge me, to find the spirit of resilience in me.

That statement of negativity was a catalyst for change in my life. I am proud of who I, and I strive to live accountable only to myself and my faith. It’s easy to use negativity to control, conform oppress, hide and there are those who only seem to survive by breaking others down

The long and short is, that, for some reason there is more negativity in the world than positive and for obviously reasons it’s harder to control another person’s words or actions. So, that leaves you and your response to it.

Will you allow another’s negativity to break you or will you use it as a catalyst for change in your own life?

Love Camille xx