Happy Christmas

On this special day I want to thank all of you that read my ramblings, and wish you, your nearest and your dearest, a very Merry Christmas!

For me and the cubs, I’m grateful that our story continues. I buried the hatchet and invited the ex over to stay, giving her the opportunity to wake up with them and open presents.

She agreed.

Peace is restored. Or it will be when she leaves… 😉

Merry Christmas all xx

BSD

T’was the fight before Christmas..

I think my heads right; I think I can write; let’s see.

Co-parenting is a challenge. I’ve written as much before. If you’re lucky enough not to be in such an arrangement, imagine trying to share something you love with someone you don’t. That pretty much sums it up.

You don’t see eye to eye becuase if you did, things would’ve worked out between you. Instead, you agree to come to an agreement over the most precious things in your life. Whilst not ideal, when it works, it works.

But what about when it doesn’t..

I had the rug pulled from under me recently which has caused me to take action. A text that told me Christmas plans were changing, as the cubs had asked for them to. It was due to be with me this year, mother invited of course. The text was to ‘run the idea past me’.

My objection by reply, was met by an ultimatum; that if all future Christmases were to be at hers then that’s how things will be. But I was welcome to join them. All heart.

As an individual, I like to respond, not to react. I try to distance myself from a knee-jerk, even with something as emotive as this. These are my children too and we have an arrangement; alternate Christmasses, with the other partner invited.

Here’s the connundrum; the weight of leverage of a loaded statement such as ‘it’s what they want’ should not be underestimated. However, when co-parenting, a child’s comments should not be weaponised. I think that this was the element that got to me the most.

Children in these arrangements will say things about the absent parent with some frequency but I feel that it is the present parent’s job to reinforce the position of the absent parent, in order to maintain some semblance of balance.

Perhaps I was niave.

What I noticed, was that as I distanced myself from the text, my physiology changed. I found myself at work, sitting at my desk but one million miles away. I had neck pain, which I realised had come from clenching my jaw so hard. I was holding my breath for long periods. Most worryingly, I had chest pain that lasted for about two days.

Immediately I took action and instigated some self-care.

Deep breathing was step one, follwed by visualisation. Every breath, as it went in, relaxed a muscle. Clean air worked into the tissues and removed the toxins.

The chest pains stopped.

I exercised more. Upped my cardio in order to become correctly fatigued, through excersion, rather than through stress. I took back control of my biggest asset; me.

I have drawn a line in the sand.

I deceided that if I did not take action now, I would forever be at the mercy of the another person. I took the decision to formalise arrangements. It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s far from perfect timing. In fact, Christmas funds have been diverted into mediation. But a single, deciding point kept coming back to me;

If not now, when?

BSD

He’s making a list; he’s checking it twice..

And he’s working out who’s been naughty or nice…

So you need to be good! I told my son, in a last ditch effort to keep him still while I cut his hair.

You know who’s coming tomorrow don’t you?

‘Batman?’


Merry Christmas folks; I hope you and yours all have a happy holiday.

Thank you for your continued support in this little project of mine. Xx

BSD

Time to reflect.

It’s that time of year again where I like to take stock of the last 12 months. It’s a thing I do that allows me to press on into the oncoming new year with vigour and determination.

I try to weigh up the good and the bad in an attempt to learn the lessons that I was supposed to.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

The cub’s mum

We had more downs than ups. It’s still new and the wounds are still open I guess. This morning we managed to have a row after I asked how she was; the accusation? I phrased the question incorrectly.

I backed off. Part of my philosophy; it takes two to have an argument and I’m not playing.

stress

The lesson

This was one of a few flash points that we collectively experienced over the last year. So how do I avoid them in future, and why should I?

The easy answer is the stress that arguing brings. I just realised that my teeth were clenched whilst typing!

Some disagreement is inevitable, but it’s the handling of such that is all important; the reasons to avoid it are pretty obvious:

  • Poor health
  • Poor relationships
  • Unhappy cubs

The last one is crucially important.

I’ve spoken before about the fact that I will never speak ill of her in front of the cubs. It’s not fair; they only have one mum and they deserve to hold her in high esteem. I will do nothing to change that image.

This is where the teachings of the ‘7 Habits’ come in; seek to understand, before being understood.

In future, I’ll choose my words more carefully; consider my tone and watch my timing. Communication, not confrontation.

Failing that I’ll ignore her until the end of time, plus 15 minutes.

My home

I’ve mentioned already that I’m not overly happy where I am at the moment; it’s too far out for where I need to be, most of the time.

home

The lesson

Stop moaning! It’s warm, it’s dry, there’s food in the fridge. Some folk have none of those.

I’m sure that I will move in the not too distant future but for now, this is one blessing that I am counting.

Relationships

I’m single. I have been for a while now; the longest while in over two decades. For once, it actually feels ok.

love

The lesson

Historically, I used to bounce from relationship to relationship, without a break, without ever reflecting on why the last one didn’t work. Sometimes, perhaps inevitably, I’d go on to make the same mistakes again, and again.

I had to stop and ask myself why this was.

  • What was I compensating for?
  • what was I afraid of?
  • what was lacking in myself that I sought from a companion and could that ever be the successful driver of any relationship?

I know that I need to be the complete article before I can share that place in my heart.

I believe in the Law of Attraction; thoughts become things etc.

I also believe that the Universe will keep giving us the same lesson, until we learn it. I’m just thankful that the Universe is very patient.

I’m getting nearer to those answers by spending time with myself, discovering who I am, after all this time.

In the meantime, the most important relationship is the one I’m proudest of; the one with my cubs. They give the most amazing cuddles.

I’m sure that when the time is right, she’ll find me, or we’ll find each other. Then I’ll have to change my pen name.

Finances

Tough! as they no doubt are for us all. Everything seems to be going up apart from our wages.

green shoots

The lesson

Take control and keep control.

If you’ve read my last post on clearing my debt, you’ll know that I plan to smash this one in 2018.

My ultimate goal is to have 3 income streams. Something recommended by the successful out there. I’ll give you more on that one in 2018.

Health

I know the benefits of exercise, especially in the world we live in today. You absolutely have to do it. I use it to defuse stress too. See my first point, above.

why train

The lesson

Schedule my workouts!

I schedule everything else important, so why should this be any different?

I’m fit; I’m healthy and I’m thankful; truly, truly thankful.

More of the same next year and maybe something to aim for..?

So that’s about it for now. The planning is the next phase and the important thing is to set my goals early and write them down.

Commitment is everything!

XperiaZ3 762

So that’s it for now. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I know what I need to what I need to stop, what I need to start and what I need to keep doing in 2018.

Bring it on!

BSD

Instant regret.

In this, the Christmas month, I decided that I’d hold off on decorating my house until the cubs were here and could join in.

I decided to start a tradition, based on memories from my childhood; we were going to walk to the shops to get the tree and other decorations.

I’ve recently become concerned about their health and fitness, so this seemed like the perfect solution; it was about a 2 mile round trip.

Current weather

Winter has come to Blighty. It is bitterly cold and there has been intermittent snow but I’m a great believer in there being no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. I told them to get dressed for the walk.

As if by magic, my daughter turned up in the flimsiest of cagoules.

Darling, you’ll need your thick coat. And your hat. And your gloves.

She disagrees.

He duly puts his boots on, then his thick, down jacket and gloves before I have to take it all of him again as he’d done a poo.

She’s adamant that this tiny coat will be enough, ‘as she likes the cold anyway’; I tell her to look up ‘hypothermia’, whilst I get her brother dressed.

Finally attired how I would like them to be, we head out.

Cold!

Although it wasn’t obvious at first.

The vista was lovely. Some snow remained and frost had crept in. It was truly a winter wonderland.

What I hadn’t factored in to this new tradition, was just how slow my son walked. Or how interested in nature he was.

The route was tree lined and almost every fallen leaf clearly needed inspecting.

Every sycamore seed needed testing for airworthiness.

The whole expedition was brought to a halt by two squirrels fighting in a tree. Well, they weren’t fighting, but that’s the story the cubs got. What is it with animals we come across?

animal-brown-cold-creature-87769

Onwards

After a while, my son’s attention turns to his own well-being.

“My neck isn’t feeling well”

A quick once over and he seems fine; we push on. His sister is less talkative. I ask if she’s ok.

She turns to face me, her nose a fetching shade of red.

“I’m glad you made me wear this coat daddy. I think I have hypothermia”

You don’t. We’re nearly there.

“How are we getting the tree back? How are we getting back?”

We’re going to walk.

She thinks for a while.

“This is like a terrible version of a good day.”

I think I’ll rethink that tradition.

Ps – distance covered = 200 metres.

feet up

BSD

Holidays are coming…

And I’m talking finances.

For some reason, one of the obvious factors of becoming a single income household, the halving of the number of earners putting in to the family coffers, had not registered on my radar of anything, until that dip in income started to bite.

There is no pressure like financial pressure as it can feel like an ever descending spiral. This can lead to worry and depression which can itself lead to mood swings or some other harmful coping mechanism.

So the lead picture is Santa squaring up for a fight – you get the analogy; Christmas is coming and that can present a real financial squeeze, if you’re not prepared.

Speaking from experience, I’ve done the splurge for the festive season thing. It’s short term gain for long term pain. Historically, I would do this weird thing where I would pay most of my bills, before spending what I wanted to spend. This eventually led to problems, as you can imagine. When bills aren’t paid, companies (rightly) grow concerned and want what is owed them.

Then the letters start

Dealing with them is easier said than done and they are extremely easy to ignore. However, problems rarely go away if ignored so if you find yourself in this uncomfortable situation, give your creditors a call and explain your situation. It’s in all of your best interests to come to a solution.

This post isn’t about that; it’s about this

I want to talk to you about projecting forwards, as prevention is better than cure. I enlisted the help of a dear friend of mine,  Zane Groves, an entrepreneur who happens to be a bit of a financial whizz. Good job really as he’s a financial advisor.

He owned his own mortgage consultancy at age 26 but more impressively, manage to grow his business when large institutions were folding as the world experienced the deepest recession in living memory.

He’s a planner and he’s come up with a short and sharp, 6 point plan for a financially fit future. Over to him.

green shoots



1) What are your goals.

This may seem very obvious but have a plan. This can be from saving for a holiday to a deposit for your first home. Once you know what your goal is, plan how you’re going to get there and the sooner the better!

2) Make saving a habit.

We often say “I can’t afford to save” or I’ve only got £50 to save, what difference will that make. We let me tell you, you’ve been saving for that rainy day for 2 years and the boiler breaks, guess what you’ve got the money so you can pay for it immediately and not get into debt with your flexible friend. If you’re lucky enough not to need it then great!

3) Work pensions.

Pay! your employer does (UK law) and the younger you start the better. The average pension pot at retirement currently stands at £50,000 which isn’t going to go far. If you want a comfortable retirement save as much as you can afford. The same if you’re self-employed.

4) Protect your income.

In most cases spending 1% of your annual salary will protect the other 99%. Don’t rely on the state, incapacity benefit is currently around £88 per week, try living on that one.

5) Reduce your debt.

Where ever possible try and pay down your unsecured debt and focus on the higher interest rate charging vehicles.

6) Invest in yourself.

If finance really isn’t your bag, employ someone who’s it is. You wouldn’t after all get a baker to look after your car so find a suitably qualified financial advisor and let them work with you.

Money

 


He doesn’t mince his words. As a thank you to him I’ve included a link to his website througout the post.

I want to quickly dig a little deeper on some of his points, which if you look at them again, have one key personal factor involved; self-discipline.

The success depends on your ability to delay your gratification; want it now will lead you back down the rabbit hole.

Finally

My plan for Christmas this year is to splurge, in a controlled manner of course. I’m in a position where I can guarantee overtime for most of 2018. My plan is to put in some extra hours and ‘snowball’ my most expensive debt away. It’ll be tough, but it’s the trade off for running up the cards over 2017.

Please remember this; over the festive period your children ultimately want your time.

Looking back to my childhood, I can’t remember if I ever got that train set, or the Evil Kenevil Rocket Edition, but I can remember being loved, warm and safe.

I can remember spending time decorating the tree and I can remember falling asleep on the sofa, full of food and watching Christmas films. Relax and be happy!

tunnel light

BSD

If you are struggling with debt, please seek help; there are some great free resources available online.

If you’re in the market for financial products as well as good advice, please check out Mr Zane Grove’s website