How to pick a therapist

There comes a time in everyone's life when they need to find a therapist. Okay maybe not everyone but probably more people than you think. If you have any inclination that talking to someone might help you manage your life - go for it, as I often say I haven't met a person that wouldn't benefit from a little therapy. I mean they probably exist but I bet they don't have access to the internet. You may have preconceived ideas about therapy or people that have therapy but don't close you mind to it too soon. It's better than, I don't know, working through your stuff on a blog...

Do your research: Therapists come in all shapes and sizes, you might want someone to help you delve into your childhood or maybe you're looking for some motivation and need a kick ass life coach. Don't let your lifestyle get in the way, there are therapists that can work via Skype or phone and if you don't have the funds bang on you GPs door until they refer you to someone. If you're in the UK It's Good to Talk is a great place to start.

Do your homework: Take some time to think about what issue you may want to bring to the table, don't get too hung up on what that issue is SPOILER ALERT: you may well find the thing you need to talk about isn't the thing you think you need to talk about. This will be the start of understanding that whilst therapy may be a challenge the real work will happen outside the room.

Don't be concerned if you hate them a little bit: If you find yourself disliking your therapist for no apparent reason, it may be because they are reflecting back to you the darkest parts of yourself. Of course therapists are people too and they have the potential to be as lazy, offensive or inappropriate as anyone so please remove yourself from any situation that feels unsafe.

Be judgemental: You have to spend a lot of time with this person and tell them your deepest concerns so once you've covered the basics like location and costs, it's okay to pick them just because you like the font they use on their website. Picking a therapist is more of an art than a science. Think of it like choosing a great date but without the snog at the end. 

photo credit: bless you via photopin (license)

KidzInMind - Win a free download

Roscoe's dad took him to a festival lately, although he assured me that my heart and soul son would be safe, I didn't want to take any chances so I sent them off with ID tags, reins and a high visibility belt. Apparently they had a lovely (and very safe) time. Afterwards Graham told me he didn't even need the tags as Roscoe's festival wristband was linked to his mobile phone - awww the beauty of modern technology. Some of us old fuddie duddies can get a bit grumbly about these new fangled things with their buzzing and location stalking but I have to admit that if innovation is going to help me to parent, I'm all for it. 

That's where KidzInMind comes in. We all know children are obsessed with iphones and tablets and they can be fantastic - entertaining, educational and a wonderful distraction in mid range restaurants but how can we feel confident that everything they're accessing is good for our children? The KidzInMind app has no inappropriate language or adverts and has a whole host of games and apps so that your child can enjoy an experience individual tailored to their likes and needs. One of my favourite features is the parental control, allowing you to call time without having to wrestle the darn tablet from their grubby little mitts. 

If you'd like to try KidzInMind, follow KidzInMind on Twitter or join Mission Acceptance. Five lucky readers will win a month's free access to the app. 

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Mission Acceptance - Accept a new choice

I've found myself involved in a lot of conversations about vegetarianism recently. And when I find myself talking about something a lot, I know it's because deep down I want to create a change. I've been on a journey to be more conscious about how I eat for a long time. I watch a lot of YouTube videos on the plant based diets and I've seen some amazing documentaries. My head knows what it wants that but my heart loves chicken.

Also, in truth, I'm not an animal lover, although I respect people that are. I don't believe that all creatures are equal. It's not a superiority thing, of all the animals I've encountered humans are by far the stupidest but they're my stupid animals. To put it terribly bluntly I have a cat. we're not bezzie mates but I care for her. If she's late home I worry; I rush her to the vets if she's poorly. She is part of my family. If some unfathomable set of circumstances arose that meant that I had to choose between sacrificing my pet or some human child that I had no connection whatsoever with, the moggy would have to go. That's not to say that I have no warmth towards animals, I just don't personally think it is morally wrong to eat them. Eating them, fine but farming them in a way that tortures our planet, transporting and slaughtering them by means that is devoid of even a shred of respect or dignity and munching away whilst fellow humans, the humans I claim to love so dearly, waste away - that's not on.

So giving up meat seems like a sensibly choice and yet a meatless state I cannot reach. Why is it that I have found it so hard? I think there are three reasons:

I'm lazy. I have found peace with my laziness. Sometimes it can actually be a good thing. My desire to do things the quick and easy way means that I can often see the simplest solutions to things. Give me a task that I can see no good reason for doing and nine times out of ten I won't do it and you know what, it rarely matters.

I'm all about instant gratification. They say the sign of adulthood is accepting delayed gratification. In which case adulthood eludes me because I want it all and I want it now. That's why I still carry those last few lbs of baby weight and it's probably why I can't drive or speak a foreign language. Whenever someone tells me they love a challenge I look at them oddly. Who loves sweat and tears? You just love the stuff a challenge gets you.

I'm a people pleaser. My best friend growing up was a vegetarian. This was the eighties when announcing you were a vegetarian elicited a similar reaction to saying you were a swinger - slight confusion and a lot of curiosity. My friend spent a lot of time politely refusing meals and taking her own packed lunch to parties. For the vegetarian raising parents out there I think this served her well, it taught her from a very early age to stand by her values and feel confident asking for things. I have a problem with saying no and the thought of having to do so still makes me feel a bit shaky.

Of course missions are about pushing past the fear so I decided to take a week and accept that I could make a different choice. Here's what I learned:

1. Own your stuff. I decided not to tell anyone about my plans because there seemed no point making an announcement for seven days of change, interestingly I immediately experienced discrimination for my meatless state. I was at work and offered a ham sandwich, when I refused my colleague sneered, 'You're not one of those vegetarians are you?' I said no but I immediately felt embarrassed, this is the thing I think I was worried about, that people would think I believe I'm this special snowflake but then again I do believe I'm a special snowflake, so if I were to continue this lifestyle I would own my stuff

2. Learn to love the basics. I went hungry that day because I couldn't find a meat free option that went with bread, so I had bread. It was fine, I forgot I actually really like bread and butter. I had a lot of similar experiences throughout the week - a perfectly ripe avocado with sea salt; steaming rice with fresh coriander. I think I remembered the joy of food when I wasn't automatically reaching for sausages. 

3. Get educated. Habits can be a beautiful thing but with food it can leave you stuck - what do you have with carbonara if you don't have ham? Well lots of things but our brains love a quick and dirty association and it takes some effort to unpick that. I really enjoyed researching new recipes and making the food I had at home work in a new way. I think it even gave my brain a bit of a boost!

4. Making a new choice keeps you present. I actually lost some weight this week and not because I think a vegetarian diet is that much healthier - cake has no meat remember. It's because thinking about my meals made me pause before consuming, I did less grazing (read: standing in front of the fridge, picking at chorizo slices) and I was more drawn to fresh, lighter options. 

5. A trip doesn't have to be a fall. I think this is the case with any dietary change. On Saturday I met up with a friend and we had a Chinese, I didn't want to make a fuss and also crispy chilli beef right? So I had meat, it was delish but from that point the floodgates were open it was full steam ahead on the bacon express the next morning and at lunchtime I was going to go for the hat trick and have myself a burger when I caught myself. One slip up does not a meat feast make and I had to accept that when you fall of the wagon it's no time to lie in the dust licking your wounds, you've got to haul yourself back on again. 

So where am I now. I think if I don't give up meat, I'll definitely eat much less and even if I don't I absolutely accept the choice is in my hands.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Win £20 to spend at Peach Perfect - Perfectly Inspirational Gifts (UK ONLY)

Is there anything better than a den? What I love most about a den is that it is such a wonderful vehicle for encouraging a child's imagination. To the casual observer the small hut is just that but to a child it holds endless possibilities - it can be a house or a castle or a secret spy den! What a wonderful world to live in. I have some beautiful memories of childhood dens. My best friend and I ran a vet surgery in her back garden for a day, we performed very tricky stick insect reconstruction surgery; I also made my little brother attend school in my wendy house - I was a very strict teacher. 

If you want to help create some fabulous summer memories for your child please enter below and you could choose a play tent from Peach Perfect. You can choose either a Garage Play Tent or a Dolls House Play Tent, Peach Perfect has lots of wonderful gifts for the whole family so if you already have a den check out what else they have and get something perfect for someone you love.

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Why little white lies are weak and real friends get real

I met a woman recently who was a real horror. Loud, brash and crashing through boundaries like an articulated tank. I'm not usually one for rash assessments, we're all Gods creatures - yadda, yadda, yadda; I mean I do believe there's beauty in everyone and I take time to look for it, sometimes for years. Also, full disclosure, the behaviour of the subject and the observer may have been influenced by the consumption of gin but even that was not enough to reject my findings that this woman was being objectively obnoxious. Why was this an issue, we all have our off days? It was an issue because this girl was introduced to me by her very 'best' friend. Quotation marks required because if this were her best friend, her good friend or even a casual acquaintance she would have got her home with a mug of horlicks quick sharp or at least had a quiet word in her ear hole about the fact she was being intolerable. She did not do this. She laughed, she encouraged and she told this woman that her ridiculous behaviour was funny; she made me understand I need to write a post on why little white lies are weak.

It's lazy. There's more than one way to skin a cat and I'm not suggesting you reach for a rusty razor blade. It can only be laziness that prevents us from formulating a more respectful way to say what comes to mind. For example when your mate asks you if she smells, you don't have to say, 'Yeah love something's rotten in the state of Denmark.' You could say, 'Are you perspiring more than usual? Have you been exercising? You look fab!'

It's cowardly. When can we drop this whole, wanting everyone to like us business? Ultimately it's selfish but mostly it's cowardice - leaving your mate to walk round in a crop top when her crop top days are resolutely behind her is not an act of kindness, it's pure sabotage and it says that fear and not love rules you. Handing out the deep, dirty truth might not always pretty but in the end you, and whomever receives it, will come out stronger. 

It's disloyal. During the course of the evening the woman's friend made a deprecating but lighthearted comment about her pal. I recognised it for what it was - a sad attempt to distance herself from her friend's behaviour. I see it all the time, you tell your best workmate she's doing fine and then make a jovial dig about her to the supervisor. You see you don't have the cahoonas to give it straight to your mate but you don't want to be associated with whatever BS she's pulling. Friends have each others back, even if that means telling them about themselves. 

It's silly. We're all grown ups. We don't need celestial beings to deliver us pound coins in the night. If you pay your own bills and make your own rules, it's time you got real about stuff. If you can deal with finances, you can deal with facts. They're both the same to be honest - if you don't have enough you will never get what you want. Can we treat each other with respect and place all the cards on the table? Your husband is gay; your kids are unruly; yes your bum does look big in that. They might not thank you but deep down they'll know you're a real friend.

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photo credit: Personal Creations one girl whispering secrets to another little girl 

Mission Acceptance - Accept you're the best

After my Mission Acceptance review last week I decided I really benefit from the missions that focus on the positive. I thought why not take this to the extreme and try to accept that I am the best. Let me explain, I've never been the best at anything, I am the perpetual underdog - the assistant to the assistant manager, second best friend, almost good enough, gold star for trying though girl. I'm kinda, semi okay with that or at least I pretend to be but I started to think that maybe this idea I have of myself is a lie; maybe the people that appear to be the best are only so because they believe it and if I made my mind up to believe it I might find it becomes the case for me... So this week's mission was to accept I am the best and uncover the super successful me within.

The best host: I had already planned to meet up with a friend and her new baby. I decide I am going to be the best at hosting. People who are good at hosting have warm, homemade snacks available on arrival; I only have cereal and some raisins in my cupboard but I reason I can make flapjacks. Somehow amidst the chaos of preparing a two year old for a day, I manage to get a tray in the oven; an hour later I remove a blackened brick of oats. I text my friend and suggest we meet in a coffee shop. 

The best mum: Roscoe and I are having a mother and son day. We just pootle around and see what adventures will find us - sometimes we dance with buskers, sometimes we talk to the squirrels. Today we go to the sand pit. Roscoe sets about doing something very industrious with two buckets and a rake; I sit at the edge with a cold diet coke. I think, my son looks happy. I am the best mother. Another parent is sat in the sand with their child. He keeps shooting me looks, dark looks, looks that say, 'What kind of part time parenting is that?!' I am committed to accepting I am the best so I jump onto the sand and try and play but I don't understand the game and my interference causes Roscoe great offence.

The best blogger: I'm planning a blog post about being the best so obviously I should aim to be the best at blogging. I sit in front of my computer but nothing comes. I paint my nails and then dye my hair. I decide to watch a documentary. I am the best at being overwhelmed by my own insecurities. 

The best dressed: I go for something simple, being the best dressed. I consider myself to be reasonably stylish, if I just put in more of an effort I'm sure I can pull this one off. I assess my wardrobe and find it to be ridiculously lacking. I spend money I don't have on ASOS updating it and end up wearing jeans and a T shirt. 

The best colleague: I decide I need to go hard or go home, if I'm gonna be the best I want to be the best in an area that will have an impact. I work two days a week in residential childcare - that gives me 48 hours to knock everybody's socks off. I arrive on shift to see I've been teamed up with Amy for the day. Amy is the one, you know the one - she is insanely efficient, she even does the stuff you forgot to do. And did I mention that she always looks amazing - nails did, hair done, eyebrows the fleekiest of the fleek. Amy races around in a sandstorm of productivity and even has time to whip up batch of brownies. I feel very much not the best. Towards the end of the shift there's just a few little chores left and I volunteer to do them. I'm going to be the choriest person you've ever met. I make some calls and then I have to visit a police station to collect some paperwork. The police station is in the middle of nowhere, the sun is beating down for once and by the time I get there I'm sweating like an X Factor auditionee. I explain my errand to a stern faced officer, he looks irritated and then annoyed and cannot assist me. I call Amy and I am at the wrong station - of course I am. I walk to the right station where a friendlier officer explains that he also cannot help me but says he will go investigate, 

'Have you committed a crime?' he asks. I resist saying, only the crime of being hilariously inept. As I wait a lad sitting next to me taps his foot arrhythmically. He looks two parts terrified, one part butt clenchingly bored. The policeman returns, tells me I am a failure and defeated I get up to leave. The boy stops me, 

'Do you smoke?' he asks. I say no. The officer reminds him smoking is bad for your health. He returns to foot tapping. I start to wander back to work and as I walk past a shop I make a decision. I buy ten cigarettes and a lighter, return to the station and hand them to the lad. He looks bewildered and then relieved and then really, truly grateful. He says thank you and I walk away. I feel a bit bad about taking an estimated 30 minutes from his life but I know what it's like not to be able to get what you think you need. I feel good that I have showed him a bit of kindness because generally when one is foot tapping in a police station, it's not for any good reason and I suspect a bit of kindness is what he needs. And then I realise, I may not be the best at anything but I am the best at being my quirky, spontaneous, haphazard self and that is a very good thing indeed, maybe even the best thing. 

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My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
photo credit: via photopin (license)