Switching Off…

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Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with their smartphone??  I love that I can be contacted in an emergency regarding my kids; love the fact I can fill boring waiting times by checking emails; love capturing magical spontaneous moments with my babies; they are brilliant networking tools; and it’s amazing that you can now be connected with friends and family far and wide.  Plus, I love a good Insta selfie.  However.  I also hate the control these little screens have over our lives and the message we are sending our kids; really hate it!  But probably not as much as I hate computer consoles, but that’s a whole different blog!

When I was growing up, if the house phone rang and we were busy or eating we just ignored it.  We didn’t rush up to see who it was, we didn’t have an answering machine or caller ID; and we didn’t have ‘1471’ in the early days (shit I feel old!).  So if you missed a call, tough titties & nobody really cared.  The phone was also wired to the wall and located in the busy kitchen so there was no privacy as such.  So phone calls were to the point and purposeful.   We hated being on the phone; we had shit to do and people to see – you know, in actual person!

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As a parent, especially a single one I think it’s really important to spend real quality time with my babies, and actually be ‘present’ rather than distracted by my smartphone.  They are growing up in a fast-paced technological world (which is great!) BUT there is simply never ever any substitute for being present and giving your time and attention to both your loved ones and people in general for that matter.   Since Cancer, my time with my babies is even more valuable and precious than ever and I began to distance myself from technology as a direct result a few years ago.

For example, I deactivate my personal Facebook account a few times a year to take a break; there are certain apps that I turn the notifications off for; all group message conversations are permanently muted; certain emails are filtered straight into specific folders so I only notice they are there by physically checking occasionally; no phones allowed at the table; I rarely scroll through the Facebook newsfeed and I’m not one to ‘overshare’ my shit on there either (show some damn dignity people).  I am a HUGE fan of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function and use it a LOT!  I’ve also always turned off all notification and phone calls from about 8pm at night (unless I am out and need to check in about my babies).   And when camping with my babies I have always turned my phone off to enjoy the peace and experience fully.  I always thought that this was enough.  It wasn’t. 

A few days ago I was trying to reply to a really important email; the kids nagging me for yet another snack; the youngest getting angry; I couldn’t concentrate on the email; it was turning into bloody chaos.  In that moment I had forgotten my priorties.  The email actually wasn’t that fucking urgent, yet my kids craving my presence was.  So the phone got ditched and I gave the kids their 10th billion snack of the day as we all sat and chatted about travels and holidays we were planning for next year.  How it should be. 

That evening I decided to stop ALL notifications on my smartphone and placed contact restrictions on many people in my caller list who are known to drain both my time and energy needlessly.  And it’s been liberating.   I only know if I have an email or message if I make an effort to physically check, and no more of those annoying Facebook notifications for everything single little bloody thing!

Now, we aren’t all Topsy and Tim (God those obnoxious little brats irritate the hell out of me and well that mother is clearly using something to get her through the day!).  But I do feel it’s important to set a good example as kids mimic behaviours they see.  I want my kids to gain confidence with the outside world and real bloody people – not waste their life away watching YouTube videos of some anti-social gamer playing a video game and commentating as they go (what the actual F is all that about?!?!)

So, if you don’t get an immediate response from me (or no response at all)…..it’s either because I have my priorities set differently to you; or I’m busy doing the other zillion things single parents have to do!  I’d definitely suggest giving it a go – you would be surprised at how addicted you actually are to those pesky little screens!

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Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

When the music just isn’t doing it….

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Does your brain ever feel so busy that you are sure it’s about to explode?  Usually a good dance to loud music or exercise (on my good health days) really helps to clear the noise and get clarity on my thoughts.  Music is a wonderful tool for the brain, I live for music!  I wrote a previous blog about it’s therapeutic qualities which you can read here.  But lately neither exercise or music have worked.

It’s been a very difficult few months; health flare ups, massive issues with my youngest baby’s education (or lack of, but that’s whole other rant!); studying; exams; life.  I’ve been running on an empty-autopilot state for the past few months, under huge demands, not really processing much, just fire-fighting situations and trying to get through my exams.

If you follow me on social media, then you will know that despite everything going on (and being a single mummy to two wonderful quirky kids!) that my hard work paid off – I am now a fully qualified Fitness Instructor, YAY!  This means I can better meet the needs of my clients, rather than simply focussing on good nutrition.  But I will write more about that another time, sooooo exciting!

Anyway, back to my busy brain……side tracked again!  So when music and exercise fail to clear my mind sufficiently, I jump in the car and head to one of my special places to reflect and sort the crap.  I have four main special places which help me to reflect:

  1. Cardiff Bay – this is not so much the ‘place’ but who I feel close to when I am there; miss you always xxx.
  2. Caerphilly Mountain – this is a few minutes from where I live so I head there quite often if I need a quick ‘fix’ and can’t get to Cardiff Bay.
  3. My Aunty’s grave in Gloucestershire – although since moving away I haven’t had much opportunity to visit.  I need to make more time, I’m sorry.
  4. Torquay – before the babies came along, any sign of trouble or overwhelm and I was straight in that car!  Sometimes I didn’t even pre-book accomodation, just knocked on hotel doors until I found space.  These days I have to be less spontaneous due to said babies.  But we still enjoy heading to the ‘English Riviera’ once a year, although not much peace these days to reflect!

So, today I was meant to be going for a swim during my two hours of childfree time as it helps my Lymphoedema and EDS.  But instead I got the pull to grab the dog (we are looking after the most gorgeous doggie this week for a friend!) and head to Cardiff Bay.  I’ve hardly slept in weeks, so this busy head needed to empty!

It may sound odd, but when I reflect I am able to visualise a spreadsheet where I can sort all my tasks, thoughts, feelings etc into tables and columns to give me more clarity on situations.  It doesn’t necessarily always stop my brain being as busy, but stops a lot of the rushing around and muddling that can happen when i’ve been running on autopilot too long.

I envy those who successfully manage to meditate each day.  I just don’t have the alone time or patience for it, so for me I have to ‘reflect’ on the go which probably isn’t the most productive way to sort a busy brain, but hey life and shit happens.  So a calming walk around the Bay was the ‘meditation’ I really needed – I won’t dwell on the part where I had to pick up the biggest dog shit from right outside Starbucks – thanks Douglas for your audience witnessed crap! 

Welcome to my random life 😉

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Well, I REALLY didn’t mean to do that…..

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But I am feeling pretty smug that I did ha!  But I really didn’t mean to at all!

You see two days ago I had a small surgery and was meant to be ‘taking it easy.’  So I told myself I was only going to do a small run down into town and back (I run most Saturday mornings to help with my lymphoedema and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome).  I haven’t felt that well the past few days, even went to bed at 8pm last night totally drained and in pain.

But something happened this morning before my run which I won’t bore you with, but let’s just say it released too much adrenaline into my system (a quirky benefit/punishment of having EDS) and once I was running with my favourite tunes on in the pissing rain and wind, I just couldn’t stop.  I love how ‘free’ running and music makes me feel, everything else just kinda fades away.  It’s a very therapeutic feeling; one I only ever feel when I am running, dancing or singing.  Its irreplaceable. 

You will know from my previous blogs how hard I have found my fitness journey due to my health issues – if you haven’t read them you can find them here and here.  Never in a million years would I have ever thought I was capable of doing what I did today!  So I guess there is a lot to be said for running when you are feeling emotional 😉

I am sooooooo incredibly proud of myself, and not in a bigheaded way but in a fucking grateful way.  Grateful that I am still here after cancer, grateful that my EDS and lymphoedema haven’t ruined my life, grateful to be a strong role model to my babies, grateful for good music!  But fuck am I in agony now.  My legs are wrecked and my stomach can’t make it’s mind up what it’s doing.

I am expecting to go into a full blown painful chronic illness flare up over the next few days, but you know what since cancer I have learnt to live life like it’s your last day on earth.  And I don’t mean that in a morbid way.  But I was genuinely given a second chance at life and I have absolutely no intention spending it festering away!

 

As John Cena says…….NEVER GIVE UP!!!

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

A Busy Mum’s Summer in Pictures

So, the Summer holidays can sometimes fill a busy mum with dread BUT in reality between all the sibling squabbles and billion demands for a snack, perfect memories are made!  You can read my rather humorous recap of ‘Day One’ of the holidays HERE!

This year we had one of our BEST summers ever thanks to my clever planning ahead!  Our weeks were filled with laughter, holidays, daytrips, friends, family, good food, smiling monkeys, saucy tortoises, detoxing (me, not the babies!), training for a mud run (also me!).  

Here is what this busy mummy and her wonderful babies got up to this summer!

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Want to Heal Your Brain? Get the Music On!

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We all have favourite songs right?  Ones that make us smile, sing, dance, play air drums and have the kids rolling their eyes??  The happiness surge we feel when a certain ‘tune’ comes on is caused by our wonderful brains releasing Oxytocin and Dopamine – the ‘love’ and ‘pleasure’ hormones.

Now unless you are listening to music that evokes certain negative feelings or anxiety; or you suffer from an extremely rare form of seizures known as Musicogenic Epilepsy, then music can be one of the BEST forms of ‘medicine’ for the brain!

In Germany for example, music therapy is used as an integral part of the rehabilitation process for people who have had strokes, brain surgery or traumatic brain injuries, by allowing the brain to form new pathways to help restore memories.  Music is also becoming more prominent in helping those with Alzheimer’s and dementia to reconnect with the world around them.

The beneficial use of music is further supported by The American Music Therapy Association who report patients using it to effectively manage stress.  Whilst a study published in The Lancet found that “people who listened to music before, during, or after surgery experienced less pain and anxiety, compared to patients who did not.”  The music listeners also didn’t even need as much pain medication.  Pretty amazing stuff ‘eh!

Dr. Jonathan Burdette expands this further by saying, “In some cases, you might not even like the particular song, but you like the memories or feelings that you associate with it.”

So what songs evoke fond memories for you?  Here are a few of mine!

 

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

When Life Gives You Lemons….

So this evening’s ‘office’ is an OKish hotel bar, about 40 miles from home.  Staff are friendly; people interesting (I do love a good people watch!).  But why am I here?

So, this isn’t what I was ‘meant’ to be doing this evening.  BUT as a single mum I would have been crazy to pass up an opportunity for my first child free night in a year when my plans got cancelled last minute.  So, me being the spontaneous fidget bum that I am, I hit the road and voila!  Here I am having a much needed night away; turning a disappointment into an opportunity 🙂

This week has been very mixed.  After being soooooo full of energy last week, I knew I was surviving on borrowed adrenaline and that a health crash was imminent (don’t you just LOVE living with a chronic illness!)  So from Wednesday onwards I’ve been feeling pretty crappy, which probably wasn’t helped by insomnia, worrying over another person, and the worsening difficulties of one of my babies bless.

So my week resembled something like this:

Excitement.  Happiness.  Pride.  Frustration.  Uncontrollable (and unappreciated) worry.  Loss.  Exhaustion.  Pain.  Fright.  Relief.  Anger.  Upset.  Pissed off.  Disappointment.  Regret.  The full spectrum in a few short days.  But have I let that stop me from facing the world and just cracking on?  No.  Because I am built to push through (and I’m pretty fantastic at it!).

And it’s for that reason why it’s bloody brilliant that the new Doctor is a WOMAN!!!  She possesses all the required qualities, and more.  I can’t understand why there has been so much backlash?!?!  Well, judging by social media the majority of the negativity has come from men!  Do they feel threatened and inferior??  Well they should do ha!  Now, I’m not really sexist and I do have some truly wonderful male friends (thanks Benjamin for cheering me up today with hidden Micky Flanagan references in your messages!)  But seriously chaps, GET OVER IT!!!  She can’t help being born AMAZING 😉

Anyway….I am going to get back to my people watching and chatting to random tipsy strangers 😉  Have a fantastic weekend folks, whether you are doing ‘proper F**k all’ or going ‘Out Out.’

Amy x

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

MUMS CHUFFING ROCK TOO YOU KNOW!

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Why is it that most mums very rarely praise themselves???  Now I don’t mean in an unattractive narcissistic manner (we ALL know a few mums like that!); but in a genuine, accomplished way?

Some of you will remember a survey I put out to mums a few months ago, asking various questions about confidence, happiness etc and quite frankly the results backed up what I already suspected.

The majority of the mums who responded felt they lacked confidence; time to themselves; and craved a form of escapism.  Sadly my survey isn’t the only study carried out recently in relation to how mums feel.   A study by Channel Mum found that a WHOPPING 90% of mums asked, admitted to feeling lonely since having children.  That’s a really shocking statistic, and one which I really hope we can improve.

So I’d like to start a little experiment.  For all my wonderful mum-readers (and the wives/partners of the men who read my blogs), I want you to spend just ONE minute thinking about the things that made you proud about YOU this week?  Not your kids; we already know how amazing our babies are and if you are like me you will be constantly praising them and feeling an overwhelming amount of pride in their achievements.  No.  This is about something that YOU and only YOU have achieved this week which makes you feel proud of YOURSELF.   It can be a small achievement or something really life changing!

 

OK, got your list?  Well done!  Now I want you to head on over to my newly created CLOSED FACEBOOK GROUP and share your achievements with other mums – we love to hear other people’s happy news!    In return, I will share two of my own proud achievements from this week – exclusively in the group.  The aim of this is not only to get you thinking more positively and regularly about your OWN achievements, BUT to also connect with other mums in similar situations & to feel less isolated.

See you there!

Amy x

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Still Kicking Cancer’s Butt – Yay Go Me!

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This afternoon’s ‘office’ (Friday 14th) is sat on the step of the harbour lock at Cardiff Bay, overlooking the water.  Those close to me will know the significance of this place.  I can feel him sat with me, silently…..and then eventually telling me to get off my phone lol!  We miss you xxx.

Anyway…….

What a week!  The lead up to my Oncology check ups are always very difficult.  I tend to shut myself off from people, chuck myself into exercise (when well enough), work, studying, DIY and dance like a buffoon around the kitchen to try to dull the wait.  Sometimes it works better than others. I’m glad today is over for another six months.

Anyway, yes thats me TWO years and 7 months clear of cancer now!!!  I can’t quite believe it!  Wow, a lot has happened in those two years.  That doesn’t mean I’m ‘free’ from the aftermath of cancer mind; people forget that cancer treatment is only the very first step (but that’s another blog post!).  For me I have a love/hate relationship with my cancer.

I hate my cancer because:

  1. Of the unbearable fear it caused incase I had to leave my young kids without their mummy (anyone who knows me, knows I am a complete tigress when it comes to my babies!)
  2. Of the pain my children suffered.  I will never forget the day I had to tell them.
  3. Of the time it stole from our lives.
  4. My decision to have more kids was ripped away.
  5. I’m left with permanent daily complications.
  6. Of the chance of recurrence.
  7. I had to go through major and risky surgery – and suffered a big bleed on the operating table (I thank my wonderful surgeon each day for saving me!)
  8. I’m sometimes angry about the medical neglect and delayed diagnosis.

BUT, I also LOVE my cancer too (odd ‘ey?!) because:

  1. It’s allowed me a freedom I’ve never experienced; like proper life changing freedom!  Hard to explain, but I’m finally free.
  2. I’ve learnt to love hard and proper – never mediocre & no apologies.
  3. I’ve learnt to commit hard and proper to people, work, life – never mediocre.
  4. I can now walk away from things that don’t benefit us.
  5. I’ve learnt to appreciate the simple, thoughtful things & gestures in life.
  6. I’ve mastered the art of saying ‘no’ to people.
  7. I’m stronger, more confident and happier than ever.
  8. It’s also made me more spontaneous, ambitious and adventurous than ever.
  9. I now have a zero tolerance of bullshit. No exceptions.
  10. It’s made me more honest, open and blunt like never before (and I wont apologise for it, sorry!)
  11. It’s taught me that ‘failure’ and ‘adapt’ are two very different things.  I never fail.  Ever.
  12. I will never take a ‘passive’ role in our medical care ever again.
  13. It’s taught me that you are responsible for making your own happiness in life.
  14. It made me both limit and value those people I now welcome into our lives – feel privileged if you are still part of our ‘team.’  We Love you!  For those of you no longer in our lives, it’s probably due to number 9 on this list! *scrolls back up lol!*
  15. Finally, and most importantly; I’m a better mummy to my beautiful babies. (Ok, I was already pretty amazing before, but you know!)

So you see I have FAR more reasons to LOVE my cancer, than to hate it. I know that will seem odd to many people.  Wow, it feels odd to even say it; really wasn’t where this blog was originally heading!  Yes, there are days where I struggle to see the positives it’s given me.  But today isn’t one of those.

Cancer; you may have taken loved ones, but I can guarantee you will never take me…….I’m just too damn awesome for you baby!



Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©