Finding The Music

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Plato


Monkey and I were temporarily stranded in our car the other day on account of a veritable monsoon outside. Trees seemed to bend at unnatural angles nearby as rain smashed horizontally into my windscreen. The sky was a menacing and murky shade of black and mid-morning looked very much like dusk.

Like a stuck record I found myself sighing, complaining and moaning about the weather, as we waited for a gap in the downpour lengthy enough to allow us to dash from car to shop and hopefully back again.

It was at this point that my little boy said:
“I like the sound of the rain on the roof, mummy. It sounds like music“.

? I hadn’t thought of that. The soundtrack to my bad mood was in fact melodic to his ears. Despite the grey, the cold and the wet he had somehow found the music. Found harmony. Exacted some joy from the situation.

I think children are incredible teachers if we can only learn to listen to their lessons, but in order to do so we need to slow down. In actual fact, on that rainy day recently we were in no particular hurry. It really didn’t matter if we spent five minutes longer in the car. It wasn’t necessary for me to huff and puff and moan. I could’ve just enjoyed some one-on-one time with my son and made the most of it. Tuned in to life’s radio, turned the volume up and sang along, as it were.
Life can be so fast paced. Dashing between drop-offs, panicking over pick-ups, hurrying through homework, procuring presents for parties and worrying about work. I sometimes think that if this phase of my life were to have a soundtrack it would be the Flight of the Bumblebee. Go go go… Don’t stop! Press on! Hurry!

In actual fact, musical moments are everywhere if only we can make ourselves slow down enough to hear them. We race through life at warp speed without pausing to listen to it’s harmonies.

Obviously the sweet sounding laughter of my babies and their words of love and affection are like music to my soul. But in all honesty, sometimes the sound of my husband’s key in the door is the sweetest music to my ears, with the words “Goodnight Mummy” coming in at number two in the chart.

As I sit writing today, it’s almost 11am on a Monday morning. It’s quiet. Both children are in school. I can hear the clock ticking quietly, the gentle hum of the fridge and birdsong from outside. These sounds are peaceful. Undisturbed. Mundane, even. But alongside the rhythmic, understated percussion from my tapping keyboard they make an uplifting melody. Their tones resonate positivity after several weeks of silent, whispered apathy.

I’m able to write again, which means I’m in a better place. The keystrokes a tip-tap of positivity and hope. Of words which, until recently, had been drowned out by the din of self-doubt, deafening depression and audible anxiety. But as I sit here now, in this moment. I hear calm and I feel more peaceful than I have in weeks, if not months. And really, this moment, this verse and this note is all that matters. All that ever matters. Hearing the harmonies, listening to life’s lyrics. Slowing down, seeking out and taking in those few joyful moments a day. One day at a time.

Because let’s face it; All the world may be a stage but we aren’t characters in a musical.

We won’t skip from place to place with orchestral accompaniment, joyfully and gleefully dancing our way from one blissfully perfect day to the next; Merrily separating our fighting children and going about our daily chores with palpable ebullience. (In fact, if this is the case, we might need to speak to the doctor about getting our meds changed again).

Life is not always up-tempo. Sometimes the backing track will be more melancholy than mellifluous. Now and then you might find ear-splitting death-metal will be the anthem of the day and even locking yourself in the bathroom won’t afford you a nanosecond’s peace and quiet from your little monsters.

We can’t expect symphonic raptures all day, every day. But if we can stop and find the music every so often… if we can fill our ears with their polyphonic laughter and their gentle, sleeping breaths, allowing the music to sink in to our souls once in a while, I think we’re winning.

Some days life’s orchestra is pitch perfect. Others are more attuned to a beginner’s recorder recital but there’s meaning in the music and melody in the moments, if we listen hard enough for it.

So this week, try to keep your internal jukebox in check, Avoid discordant stuck records and negative thoughts if you can. Turn the volume down on them. Crank up the bass on a tune that makes you smile and dance with your children until they begin to look at you like you’ve lost your mind. Make your own music if you can’t find any. Listen out for the joy.


Here Comes The Sun


It was the wettest January in UK history, apparently. To me it felt like the colour had been sucked out of the world. Everything seemed grey and dull and even the evergreen trees and plants looked insipid.

I used to like the sound of the rain on the roof if I was wrapped up warmly inside, it seemed comforting and cosy. But after a month-long downpour the novelty had well and truly worn off.

Soggy. Everything was damp and cold and just…. Bleurgh. Unbearable. I researched SAD lamps, vitamin D and the possibility of moving to a foreign country for six months of the year. My husband humoured me and my sister and mum started to look a bit concerned.

Even at 3am when I was awoken by my littlest, the rain continued to torment me and cause me to mutter expletives under my breath. I thought it’d never end. Washing away any positivity and dampening any cinders of hope.

You know those whistles….? The ones that give out a sound at a frequency audible only to dogs? I started to wonder whether I was the only one feeling utterly tormented and affected by relentless rain. I realised something needed to change…

Fortunately (and just before I lost what little grip I seem to have on my sanity lately) I woke up last Saturday morning to dazzling blue skies with the merest smattering of wispy white cloud.

Never have I been so thrilled so see sunshine.

I sat by a window (I’d like to say I was meditating or reading but in actual fact I was folding laundry) and let the sun warm my face. I even closed my eyes, which was when a thought occurred to me;

The light always wins.

It always prevails and even though we may not see it, feel it or in my case even remember it – the warm energy of the sun triumphs. It can’t be extinguished.

Storm clouds and changing seasons are part of life. But behind the storm, the sun never ever stops shining. It’s always there.

I like to think that the human spirit works in the same way; storms may cloud our judgement and obscure the view at times. Blue skies can feel like distant memories when the world seems dark and grey. But the sun always comes out eventually. There’s no stopping it.

And when it does, l for one am thankful.

I wish you a day filled with sunshine and light. But if this doesn’t come to pass, remember the brightness behind the clouds. Because even if you can’t see it or feel it, it’s still there.


Ripples and Revolutions


This past week has been the clearest example yet of how much this blog helps me.
When I wrote my last post I felt I was on the brink of returning to a very dark place again. I wrote it to let some of the thoughts out, in the hope that stating my fears out loud would somehow diminish them. I always feel a sense of release once I hit the “publish” button. It’s a bit like a sigh of relief and almost some closure, as if verbalising what has been running around my head somehow unsticks the record and allows the song to continue without interruption.

This time it was you, my amazing readers who gave me my balance back along with my perspective. You reminded me that there are actually lots of things I do to help make the world a better place. Through my blog and my relationships and generally doing my best to be as good a person as I can.

It’s telling that I could better articulate this point by sharing some of your comments now, but to do so would feel boastful or show-offy which would not sit comfortably with me. You can find some of the messages here, if you like.

My point is this:
Why do so many of us find it far easier to be kinder to others than ourselves? Why is it that compliments are so hard to digest? We seem to have such low opinions of ourselves that we actively remove the healing properties of compliments by discrediting them entirely. Have you ever ignored a lovely sentiment or told yourself that its benefactor is “just being nice” or doesn’t know what they’re talking about? Or noted that they wouldn’t say those things if they knew the real you? I know I have. I do it all the time and it’s wrong. So wrong.

You and I are are worthy of love and respect. From ourselves as well as those around us. I can’t pretend that I have the solution to silence that inner voice trying to drown out kind thoughts with negative ones. But I have a plan, a place to start.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa

I can’t single-handedly stop child poverty, cure cancer or rid the world of debt, but I can affect small change.

This needs to start with me. I need to remind myself daily that I am important to lots of people and that I make a difference. I do, and so do you.

For this reason, I’m hoping you’ll join me in starting a succession of little ripples. A Self Kindness Revolution if you will.

Using the Twitter hashtag #selfkindness I am going to notice and share one self-kind thought a day. Little ripples, you see. I hope that by consciously listening to my one kind thought a day I can start lots of little ripples and I’d like you to join me.

Some days your #selfkindness may be a huge pat on the back for juggling a job, children and a household; Something thousands (if not millions) of women do each day. But that’s not to say that it’s easy. Or appreciated. Other days making a dinner that doesn’t involve a microwave may be a huge achievement. Occasionally your #selfkindness may be to commend yourself for making it out of bed….Or not having a meltdown along with your children….Or somedays simply having a shower or finally washing your hair feels like it deserves a round of applause.

It doesn’t matter what you choose; the idea is to simply pick out one thing you did today and congratulate yourself for it and in doing so remind yourself that You. Are. Enough. Just as you are. To throw a little pebble out and make a small ripple in your subconscious.

My Twitter handle is @mummykindness and I am going to send a reminder out each night. If you’re not on Twitter…join! You don’t even have to use your real name and you don’t need to follow or be followed by anyone else to take part in the Self Kindness Revolution.

I must tell you that this whole idea throws me in to a bit of a self-conscious panic, which I realise is the complete opposite of the intended purpose. Like when you arrange a party and you worry that nobody will turn up and you’ll feel like a friendless fool. This blog is far, far from being the most popular or well-read on the internet. It’s small and relatively new.

However, I’m reminding myself that this doesn’t matter in the slightest. This is not a popularity contest. If only one person joins me in my #selfkindness revolution and starts working towards silencing their inner critic, I’ll have made a ripple.

One definition of a revolution is “Complete change from one constitution to another.” Some revolutions are huge and world-changing and others are quiet and occur only within. In either case, revolutions start with conversations.

This #selfkindness revolution is about a quiet conversation with yourself. Are you in? And are you ready to listen?

(You can also help share the Mummy Kindness by liking my Facebook page, here if you feel like it!)