Care


'What did you eat for dinner?' Asks Sharon - my mate (and mentor and muse). 

'Rice,' I answer honestly. She laughs and says, 'You need to eat your veg. You have to look after yourself.' I tell her I had a cherry coke; she's unimpressed. I promise I will try but I tell myself that caring for someone is tiring, so time consuming and thankless, every mother knows that. 

The next morning at 6:15AM I make my son a fruit platter - a finally ripe kiwi, thinly sliced; sable grapes cut into halves; a pink lady apple, quartered; a multivitamin nestled in the mix. 

And then, before I call his name, I make another. 

Now you're a mother



You have no excuse. 

You have someone who will always believe in you.

OMG I wrote a book - My new boyfriend


So, I've mentioned once or twice that my husband and I are separated. The rumours are true, this process sucks butt. It's like doing a triathlon wearing a weighted vest and then just when you think you've reached the finish line, someone chucking in a spin class for good measure. When things first started to unravel, I had altogether too many thoughts in my head and so I started to write. I wrote about a woman separating from her husband because I thought that creating a positive ending for her could help me write my own. Also it was nice to remind myself that many people had it much worse than me, even if some of those people are fictional.

They say that relationships come along when you're not looking for them and that was true for me, however the partnership I found was not with a man but with my book. And like all good relationships it helped me to grow in ways I had never expected. I was writing this book when I saw a tweet promoting Write Now Live 2016, a competition aimed at helping members of under-represented communities become published. I decided to enter because, why not? Pre-separation me would have had a smorgasbord of why nots - they might laugh; I might lose confidence; I might fail, worse I might succeed... but at that time I thought, what more have I got to lose? What could be worse than hiding in my spare bedroom in tea stained pyjamas, listening to John Waite on repeat? Not much, my friends, not much.

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and then I put those words out into the world and what happened of my book boyfriend? Reader, I married him. In March of this year I received an email telling me I had been selected for the Write Now mentoring scheme with my novel 'The List' and I am now in the throes of shaping both my words and my self belief. 

In case you're starting your own creative project here's the three reasons why I think this relationship thrived, when my other novel attempts have failed to take hold:

1) I didn't censor myself
'Write what you know' is a truth because good writing feels real and it's just easier to make things feel real if they are real. This book isn't about my divorce because I respect my son's father too much and also because it would be a very boring read - Once upon a time there was a couple who were dedicated to each other but realised they needed different things and gently unpicked their relationship, always ensuring their child was their first priority. The End. Bestseller, no? In my book the facts aren't true but the emotions are. Fear, loss, hope - I know about those, so I wrote about them. 

2) I played to my strengths
I'm funny. Writing that is a very big deal. I'm generally very British about bigging myself up; in the UK having good self esteem is extremely distasteful. Creativity, however, has no time for being coy. If you want to make your best work you have to embrace what you've been given. I'm no poet, I have no idea when to end a thought ever, and why not just stick in loads of commas and have the entire piece be one great, big, brain mashing sentence? I know how to bring the banter though and in 'The List' I bring it hard. 

3) I set it free
This is the big one. You can create and create 'til the cows come home (Where have they been? God, even cow's have a better social life than me) but if you don't put it 'out there' it stands to reason that it's never gonna be seen. As they say, if a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it, who the hell cares? So if you've got a book or a project or a business you've been dreaming about, just go for it. Walk hand in hand along the sand with it. Maybe you'll fall in love, maybe you'll start a life together, maybe this analogy has well and truly run its course. I don't care because tonight I've got a hot date with my laptop. 

Write Now 2017 is open for applications until 16th July. If you're a writer from an under-represented community head to the website to apply
What have you got to lose?

Treat your partner like an ex


My son's dad and I are friends. I had to look up the word 'friends' to check but, yeah, I think we fit that description. I mean we don't go out for 'one' and then get monstrously drunk and regret everything we did the night before and we don't eat processed foods together and argue about which Ryan (Gosling or Reynolds) is hotter (although why bother because it's clearly Gosling) but we speak to each other and of each other kindly and that's enough right?

Except recently when collecting Roscoe, I strayed from our usual 'how cute is he?' routine. As I was leaving I spotted a booster seat I had borrowed from a friend many moons ago. Conscious that my ex is a recent convert to minimalism (possibly prompted by no longer living with a hoarder) I pointed it out, imploring him not to give it away in a future purge.

'Oh, I think that's mine,' he said, 'I think I got it when I bought the bike seat.' 

'No,' I insisted, 'I distinctly remember borrowing it from my friend after her BBQ.' Roscoe's dad cocked his head to one side and said, 

'Nah, I'm sure it's mine.' 

'Or maybe you're wrong!' I snapped, 'Have you considered that?' And then I stalked away or the closest approximation of stalking one can do with an overexcited toddler in tow. I was brimming with rage, just brimming, but by the time I got to my flat seven minutes away, the rage had boiled over and left me with the burnt bit at the bottom of the pan. My previously rock solid memory of taking the seat in question and storing it in the cupboard under the stairs had started to erode dramatically. What was clear was a combination of hormone imbalances and a toddler with an outrageously, antisocial concept of when the day should start had made me ratty and snappy and maybe just a little bit unreasonable. 

I sent the ex a text; not the 4AM regrettable kind but a 'on my way to adulting' apology for my behaviour. Very graciously he accepted my apology and even suggested that he may have been wrong about the booster seat, which was very giving considering how ridiculously insignificant the whole situation was. Then it was done and that felt good. In that moment it occurred to me that I never would have done that when we were married. I would have sulked and brooded and pulled out some minor infraction from 2003 and that would have gone on and on until he apologised for something, for anything, just to have the whole thing over with. 

Why did I do this? Why did I treat the person I claimed to love most in the world with less kindness than my friends, my colleagues, the guy who delivers my ASDA shop? I'm sure there's some psychological study explaining it all but the hard truth is - it's bull crap. I'm a believer that you should give people what they deserve and the person who's chosen to take you and your beautiful flaws on, deserves the best. So the next time you find yourself feeling bored or frustrated or almost immobilised by rage with your significant other, take a deep breath and treat them like an ex. 

It can be a brand new day at any time


I woke up before 8AM yesterday. I know this because my eyes opened before my alarm went off and my alarm had been set for 8AM. I felt sleepily smug because the night before I had decided that 'good girls' get up before 8AM. Actually, I believe good girls get up before 7AM but I had stayed up until 1AM watching 'Iyanla Fix My Life'. For the uninitiated 'Iyanla Fix My Life' is a show in which the eponymous Iyanla (two parts therapist, one part fire and brimstone preacher), enters the life of a broken or beaten down individual or family and, as the title suggests, fixes it. If I don't have the will to sort out my own crap, watching other people sort out theirs seems like the next best thing. Anyway good girls get up before 7AM but they also get seven hours sleep, so I settled with 8AM. And then there I was smashing through my own expectations; I had bought back time. I had bought back life! What was I going to do with it all!? I thought about going to the zumba class that has been in my diary for a few weeks; I knew I had to deep clean my grotty flat; I thought about doing some yoga; then I thought about my sister chasing a dog down the road, and then I thought that's weird my sister doesn't have a dog, and then I realised I had fallen asleep again. That's when the self loathing set in.

What to do when you're feeling not good enough, obviously stay in bed, scroll through Instagram and fill your low self esteem bucket with images of hashtag perfection. Following which I concluded that I had blown it, and it was a waste of time trying, and I might as well potter and procrastinate and start again tomorrow. So that's what I started to do. And I'm good at that. Then with an hour left before I had to pick up my son I thought, what would I tell him? I'd say, 'don't worry little man you can do so many amazing things in an hour!' In an hour I couldn't clean my still grotty flat but I could make one portion of it palatable. Given that the sun was shining I made the decision to spruce up my garden and just to be clear by 'garden', I mean postage stamp sized yard and by 'my' I mean, my landlords. Was it the most urgent thing I needed to do, no but creating a space in which I could sit and enjoy the sunshine would create the greatest change in the least amount of time. I did some sweeping and weeding and soon I had my own little oasis and it felt good. I got a couple of hours in the sunshine but also more - the knowledge that it can be a brand new day at any time, how will you start yours? 
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