Calm mum wannabe

I'm just a calm mum wannabe, muddling on through from tantrum to tantrum, one big deep breath at a time. Ommmm....

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Last post!

A year has passed since my last post, and friends keep asking me if I'm still blogging... The answer is yes and no. My Om in Mom phase has most definitely fizzled out, and I feel I should wrap up this phase of chronic oversharing with a few words of explanation. Whilst it's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster (remember the horse manure?), it's also been a very fun project. It has helped me push myself out of my comfort zone and it has even been a helping hand into starting writing for a living.

I'm still very much searching for the "Om" in Mom, but parenting a 4 and 5.5 year old is much easier than parenting a 2 and 3.5 year old. (Mums of littler ones take note: your time will come... back!) The boys are growing into "real people" now, and we do lots more fun things as a whole family (rollerskating and bike rides being the latest ones we love).

My youngest son started school in September, and I supppose it's no coincidence that my withdrawal from mum blogging has come at a time when I am beginning to find myself again, after being in the toddler tunnel for the last five years or so. I'm also starting to re-define my career aspirations and, in line with that, I'm working on a language-related blog that I'm hoping may be useful for language learners. More details to follow...

In the meantime, in true Om in Mom style, this meandering post wouldn't be complete without me embarrassing myself with a nice, overly sentimental anecdote, now would it?

The other weekend, my dad, my partner and I went for a walk, with my sons on their bikes. We hadn't been walking long when it started to rain. I was all for turning back, but my dad and my partner pooh-poohed that idea, so we kept going. Later on, I was glad they hadn't listened to me, because we saw no less than four rainbows on that walk. One was particularly awe-inspiring, a perfect arc of colour stretching over our little local park like someone had painted it in the sky.

I couldn't help but think of the lesson learned from that walk as a gorgeously cheesy piece of metaphorical advice for life itself: you've got to push on through the rain because otherwise you'll miss the rainbows that are waiting for you around the corner.

And that's more than enough cheesiness from me. This is Om in Mom, hanging up my hat and retiring from the public sphere. Farewell, my dear friends. Thanks for dropping by. It's been fun oversharing with you.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The miracle of coaching

So, ahem, I promised to tell you about Amanda, my coach, in my last post. That was about seven weeks ago now. Yikes. In my defence, we moved house last month and I've been snowed under with work, your honour.

I didn't know Amanda when she put the word out that she was looking for volunteer coachees for her final year project toward her life coach qualification, but I love a good freebie, me, and when a mutual friend signed up, it piqued my curiosity.

I googled "life coaching" because I didn't really know what it was. The explanation I read said that it could sort out any area of your life that needed improvement. "Ooh," I thought, "I'll have a bit of that for my time management and disorganization issues, thanks very much."

So there I am driving along the motorway to Amanda's, on the evening of our first session, wondering whether I'll be brave enough to broach the subject of my writing dream. I've only told a couple of close friends before, so it's highly unlikely I'll feel comfortable telling this complete stranger whose house I'm going to.

Wrong. As it turns out, Amanda is very easy to talk to, so I blurt out my "dirty secret" in our very first session (and by the way, that was Amanda's term for how I spoke about my writing in the early days).

Less than a week after that first session, I landed my first paid writing job. I kid you not. Coincidence, say the cynics. Maybe.

For the sake of brevity, let's cut to my final session. It's five or six months later and Amanda has now moved back to the UK, so we do the session via Skype.

Our conversation turns into a one-way moan fest, with me blathering on about how I don't have enough time to do all the writing work that comes my way.

Wait a minute! What am I saying? This is the most incredible turnaround from my first session, and Amanda is blown away. I finally stop ranting about my lack of time and how darn hard it all is, and I put my hand over my mouth, gobsmacked. Wow. I now have so much paid writing work that I cannot fit it into my days.

And that -in a nutshell- is the miracle of coaching, folks. From dirty secret to full time work in less than six months. Powerful stuff, eh? And to all you cynics out there, why not just try it? You've got nothing to lose.

If you are interested in getting coached by Amanda, you can contact her at or on +44 7803171148. She is available for in-person sessions in the London area, and Skype sessions for people in other parts of the world. But I'm sorry to say her services don't come for free any more, as she's now a fully qualified and very sought-after life coach :-p

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dreamers beware!

They say you should be careful of what you wish for, because it might just come true. Well, let's go back a couple of years: I have a two-year-old toddler and a nine-month-old baby keeping me on my toes, and I'm translating and proofreading as a freelancer "in my spare time". As I sit on the lounge floor, eyeing up the chin-height pile of carboard boxes in our newly rented Madrid flat, I dedicate a moment or two to a little wishful thinking...

I vaguely daydream that by the time we are next packing up all our belongings, the boys will be a toddler and a pre-schooler and I will have somehow found enough regular writing work to make a living from it. I look out over the rooftops of suburban Madrid and wonder if there are kindred spirits out there with whom my boys and I will become close friends. I add an addendum to my daydream to say that if it takes a bit longer than the year it doesn't matter, so long as our ideal house appears in a right-time, right-price scenario. And including a postscript while we're at it, I fondly imagine I will have started writing my novel by the time we are next packing boxes. That, or at least have a fabulous idea for it...

Of course, it was all just an idle daydream. I had no idea how I'd set about making any of this happen. But here we are, not quite two and a half years later and I have regular writing work, my boys and I have made some wonderful friends, and we're about to move into our lovely new house that ticks all the boxes and more. I'm feeling pretty damn lucky actually.

We're moving on to a new phase in our lives now. But I need to tell you about something, or rather someone, that was instrumental in my reaching out towards my writing dream. Her name is Amanda, and she was -is- my coach-friend, and I'll tell you more about her in another post, because this one's long enough as it is.

Oh yeah, and that fabulous idea for a novel? Ahem. Yes, well, I've still got to work on that one. Amandaaaaaaa, come back to Madrid! I need you!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Little moments

Mums can't get sick. And people who work for themselves can't either. Looks like I broke both of those rules this week, picking up a dodgy virus that my youngest brought home from playgroup. No cause for alarm, people! I'm soldiering on, as you do...

At the breakfast table this morning, I'm picking pathetically at yet another bowl of plain white rice washed down with rehydration solution when my eldest comes up to me, flings his arms around my neck and says "Mummy, I'm really worried about you being so poorly". Awwwww.

My youngest, never one to miss a cuddle opportunity, follows suit: "Mummy, I'm weally wuwwied about you being so poorly".

So here I am, with two adorable little guys hanging off my neck, feeling like crap but knowing I'll somehow meet the 5 or 6 deadlines I've got this week. Because it's the little moments like this that get you through.

OK, now cue a whole stream of sympathy comments... Mum? Mum? Hello?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A simple new year's resolution

My new year’s resolution is to keep things simple. 

Does this mean the end of the lengthy, meandering blog post for Om in Mom? Possibly. We shall see.

The other day I did this fabulous exercise by Barrie Davenport, which is a kind of all-round audit of every area of your life. I came up with the same few things that I want to focus on this year. I want more calm in my life, more time outdoors with the people I love and more present-moment focus (whether I’m working, writing or just hanging out).

Following Leo Babauta’s advice on changing habits, I will work on one area at a time and I’ll start small. So, for the month of January I’m going to try and meditate every day for 5 minutes. The great thing about meditation is that it has huge knock-on effects in other areas of your life. It’s the law of least effort. All you do is sit. And watch. And things really start to take off. I’ll be back at the end of the month to let you know how it goes. 

I’ll sign off with a picture of our New Year’s Day hike, on this misty morning here in Palencia. The New Year's Day hike is a tradition I've tried to keep up every year since my teenage days with the venture scouts. Not the coolest thing to admit to, I know, but believe me it’s a great way to start the year. Happy 2012 everyone!

Born on Christmas Day

My brother Marcus was born forty years ago on Christmas Day. Special birthday, right? Well, not really. I’m sure the first couple of birthday-Christmases were all very special, but I made my entrance into the world 19 months later and our other brother a couple of years after that, and pretty soon Marcus’s birthday became a bit of a half-hour job, somewhere between opening Santa’s presents first thing in the morning and the under-the-tree family presents later on. Awwwww.

Before you get the violins out, I should point out that my mum made sure that Marcus had a half-birthday party every year on the 25th June. My protests that I wanted a half-birthday party fell on deaf ears, by the way. (Possibly something to do with being born in July, but I put it down to favouritism, myself.)

Birthdays have always been a bit hit-and-miss in our family since we all flew the nest. We’ve all lived in different parts of the country (continent/world), so depending on when we got together you either got a present or you didn’t. Sometimes we’d play catch up, sometimes not. No big deal. I have a suspicion that our slapdash approach meant that the same people were always getting diddled each year. A few years ago we decided to stop the presents completely, other than for the kids. My mum, however, still gives presents, my sis-in-law always sends cards and I might phone if you’re lucky. Oops. So it looks like there’s still some diddling going on. Sorry about that, folks.

Anyway, I digress. After forty years of interrupting our Christmas celebrations to rush through Marcus’s birthday presents (“Hurry uuuup!”), we decided to do something different this year, proving it’s never too late to change.

We clubbed together to get the present, and bought a beautiful Canadian canoe. My younger bro Piers, who’s a bit of a Bear Grylls (although I don’t think he’s ever drunk his own you-know-what) came up with a brilliant plan: a day trip canoeing on Christmas Eve. He picked a route not too far from my parents’ house, where we could paddle down the canal, hop across a field and cruise back down the river. Lovely.

Here are the more interested members pouring over the map, while others show a more laissez-faire attitude to the planning process.

We have a hot drink and a bite to eat by the water's edge before we set off. 

Here’s Marcus and his family about to have their first paddle. 

And this is my mum showing us all that being not-quite-70 does not make you too old to get in a canoe.

Much "row, row,  row-ing your boat" later, here are the two canoes (Piers has one too) going under the canal bridge.

We all agreed it was a fantastic day out and it’s a new birthday-Christmas tradition we hope to keep up for many years to come. Beats stuffing your face and falling asleep on the sofa -although no doubt there'll be some of that more traditional activity going on too. Happy birthday-Christmas, big bro! 

And now it’s on to the turkey…

(The observant reader will notice my blog is approximately one week behind for most posts. This is something I aim to improve on in the New Year!)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The great Spanish "puente"

Have you heard of the great Spanish invention, the "puente"? Unlike bank holidays in the UK, which are usually moved to the nearest Monday, here in Spain holidays fall when they fall and if it's a weekend then bad luck, but if it's a Tuesday you can take the Monday off work and make a nice "bridge" (puente) between the weekend and the holiday. Well, Tuesday and Thursday were holidays last week, so we had ourselves a big ole mama aqueduct.

We decided to go away with my sister-in-law and her family to the Picos de Europa, the mountains of Cantabria, one of Spain's hidden treasures. We stayed in a cottage in the picturesque village of Tudes. It's a working village -the cows and sheep are herded right past your window daily, and chickens roam freely through the streets.

You can walk out of the cottage and straight up the mountain path with spectacular views all around you in every direction. You'd never think you were in Spain -it's just like Switzerland, with cows grazing in the lush green hills and craggy snow-topped peaks in the background. My Swiss-loving friends are going to lynch me now, because my photos really don't do it justice...

We walked to an abandoned village, not far from Tudes. Here's a picture of the tiny church. Of course we had to give the bell a ring.

My youngest and I ended up lagging behind the others. Not-quite-three-year-old legs don't walk so fast, you see. We took our time getting home and had a photo shoot along the way. I took a few pictures of him...

And he took a very fetching one of me!

It was a fantastic trip. I've not disconnected so well in ages. And the best thing about the December puente is that it comes just as the festive season begins, so it's like a pre-Christmas-holiday holiday. Man, I love Spain!