When the music just isn’t doing it….

busy-brain

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 ©

Grateful Reflections…

GoT_Christmas

 

Most people will think I absolutely love Christmas, afterall I am forever dancing around to the cheesy Christmas tunes embarrassing my babies and couldn’t wait to dust off the novelty jumpers & awful sickly festive DVDS!  But in reality, Christmas for me is a very difficult time, as it is for many others.

In 2006 I lost my Poppa on Christmas Day, followed by my wonderful Nanny 30th December a few years later.  These two deaths alone made me dread the Christmas period, but as a Mummy you learn pretty bloody quickly to paint that smile on and chuck yourself into the festivities to ensure your babies have the most magical time.

Then in December 2014 I had my cancer treatment.  As a mother it absolutely broke me being so unwell and not able to give my babies the Christmas they would normally have.  But equally, it was probably one of the most touching and special as we weren’t rushing around trying to cram everything in.  I also remember getting a pretty spectacular phone call late Christmas Eve; my wonderful Oncologist wanted to tell me personally I was cancer free.   I will always be indebted to that man for giving me more time with my babies.  Always.  

This year, the lead up to the festive season has been very difficult again, but for reasons I’m not quite ready to share just yet.  But my duty as a Mummy will always be to ensure that my babies have magical memories.  I of all people know how precious these are.

Despite the challenges surrounding Christmas, a text I got from a good friend prompted me to reflect and appreciate some of the wonderful people I have around me.  He called me ‘pigheaded’ because I have a tendency to shut down & not deal with certain shit.  Now, if anyone else would have called me that they would have been firmly told where to go ha!  But I think he is probably the one person who can get away with it & actually make me question my actions.  For that I love him, even if he is a car-nut chav 😉  And I probably don’t tell him enough how incredibly proud of him I am.

Then there is the Northern blonde bombshell who just says it like it is whether I want to hear it or not lol!  And the loveable cocky Glaswegian who drives me absolutely mad, but has a heart of gold.  The ginger swadie who I miss more than he realises.  And my wonderful ‘adoptive’ family who would do anything for my babies & have been there through thick and thin over the past 8 years.   I Love you all x

I think sometimes we get so blinkered fixating on just getting through each day that we forget to step back and appreciate those around us.  And for anyone else who finds Christmas hard, I’m sending you a hug & vodka 😉

And always remember…..

grateful

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Spreading The Word #RareNotFabricated

IMG_20171015_153026_216.jpg

 

You will remember from my earlier blog here that I have recently become SWAN UK’s first Volunteer Parent Rep for Wales, covering the Cardiff and surrounding areas.

Well, in October I spoke at the Third Annual Rare Disease Patient Network Meeting, based in Cardiff. The day involved a range of talks from guest speakers ranging from genetic testing, data sharing, the connection between mental health and living with a rare disease, policy changes and both parent and patient experiences. The event went really well, a good mixture of professionals, patients and parents.

I wanted to talk at this event because I feel very passionate about ensuring that not having a diagnosis should not prevent accessing information and support services! I actually found the experience of talking easier than I expected. I purposely didn’t dwell too much on the early years as they were quite difficult times. Instead I focused more on being a good advocate for your child’s needs and how being a part of SWAN UK can be a really good support network when you don’t feel that you ‘fit’ anywhere else. I found it really rewarding to hear such wonderful feedback during the break, and to chat to some new parents who are keen to join our SWAN UK Wales network!

I hope from my talk that the professionals can take on board the anxieties some parents may have, and also include parents fully in all decision making processes to ensure that the correct needs of the child are met and that the relevant support services are put in place. I cannot wait to engage in more public speaking on behalf of SWAN UK! I want to do more talks like this in my role as Parent Rep as it’s really important that professionals work closely with parents (who are often the experts on their child’s needs!) to best support not only the SWAN child, but the family as a whole too.

Without a diagnosis it can be challenging to access the support and information you need. Many families don’t feel that they fit into the wider networks for parents of disabled children, and therefore end up feeling more isolated.

I am really looking forward to developing the undiagnosed network in Cardiff; it’s been a long time coming! I can’t thank SWAN UK enough for the support they offered my family in those early years, where as a parent I felt ignored, belittled and isolated at times.

I’m keen to ensure that SWAN UK families have a voice, and that a label should never restrict access to support services and now I have officially been named as Parent Rep for Wales, it is full steam ahead!

 

To find out more about SWAN UK follow their website https://www.undiagnosed.org.uk/

 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 ©

My NEW Exciting Role for Undiagnosed Kids!

swan uk

“Approximately 6,000 children are born in the UK each year with a syndrome without a name – a genetic condition so rare that it is often impossible to diagnose. Our Big Ambition here at SWAN UK is that each of these families will have the support they need, when they need it.”

 

SWAN = SYNDROME WITHOUT A NAME

How crazy is that??  Imagine having to live your life with a high possibility of NEVER having answers as to what is causing your issues?  For many (including my own family) this is a reality, even now in this age of vast medical & genetic research!

For most families getting a diagnosis remains just as important to them as their child grows up. Without one families can struggle to access the right support. They have no idea what the future holds for their child or if other children they may have in the future could be affected.

I joined this wonderful charity as a parent approximately 7 years ago after having my first child, and have continued to gain support after having a second child whom is also affected by a rare genetic condition.  I cannot thank the SWAN UK family for all the love & support they have given us over the years & the friends we have made along our journey.

Fast forward to July this year & I received an extremely humbling email from SWAN UK asking me whether I would consider applying for the role as the FIRST Welsh Parent Representative!  I was so excited I actually squealed!  Now I have been casually organising family events for SWAN UK for a number of years, but this was an opportunity to make more of a formal impact in the crazy world of Genetics, meeting professionals, recruiting new families along with supporting existing ones.  HOW THE HELL COULD I REFUSE THE ROLE???  I don’t think I’ve completed an application form so fast lol!

I’m extremely pleased to say I GOT THE ROLE!  (can you tell I’m excited yet???).  I have a few months training ahead, but cannot wait to get started!

 

Watch out South Wales, I’m coming to educate you ha!

 

i-am-so-excited

SWAN UK is part of Genetic Alliance UK, registered charity 1114195.

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

 

 

 

One Down….

keep-calm-one-down-many-more-to-go-1

Well, that’s the first official day of the Summer holidays over!  How did you do mums??  Did your day resemble this video below by any chance?!?!?

Or was it more like this…….

funny-parenting-meme-04

For us our day went a little like this:

6:17am: Wake up
Tantrums.
Babies bickering.
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Breakfast.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Get us all dressed.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Watched Planet of the Apes 3 at the cinema which was actually quite good (forgot the 3D glasses so now have an extra 3 pairs to add to the billion others in the drawer of crap!)
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Endured a grumpy person.
Babies collected for a few hours (yes, this is the FIRST time in TWO years that I have arranged having small breaks during the Summer holidays!)
Quick lunch & work emails.
Childfree trip to B&Q for screws.
Childfree trip to the gym where I snorted out a massive laugh watching this video whilst on the treadmill (WARNING, not for the easily offended ha!)
Childfree swim.  Bliss.
Had an allergic reaction to something.
Collected some parcels (new camping equipment, yay!)
Got harassed on Gumtree messages by somebody called ‘Jade.’
Home for DIY.  Realised I got wrong screws.  Bugger.
Childfree trip to B&Q for screws.
Collected babies; one happy; one sad. *sigh*
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Medical appointment for one of the said babies.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Back home for tea.
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Babies up to bed.
Told how much they love me and missed me today. *awwww* 
Lovely cuddles and kisses with my babies.
Housework.
“Mummy I want a poo poo.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
8:23pm: I start work for the evening when I should actually be preparing for a hospital trip to London in the morning. Bugger.

Sound familiar ladies???

One day down.  43 to go!

cheers

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

MUMS CHUFFING ROCK TOO YOU KNOW!

proud

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 ©

Five Easy Steps to Improve Family Nutrition

 

For many busy families, trying to make the leap into a healthier lifestyle can seem an enormous daunting task.  Parents are pulled in every direction; the media bombards us with conflicting information regarding diet; kids are always on the go or being fussy; pressures from society.

HOWEVER, fear not!

Here are my 5 easy steps to introduce your family into a healthier nutrition lifestyle, without really doing very much!

  1. Stop buying shop-bought condiments – it’s amazing what you can make in under 2 minutes without any nasty artificial processed ingredients (jump to the bottom for our amazing tasting ketchup recipe!)
  2. Limit take out to 1-2 times a month – but then eat it without guilt and enjoy!
  3. Use the crock-pot/slow-cooker – especially as the weather turns colder – there is nothing more comforting than coming through to door in the evening to that gorgeous smelling dinner all done 🙂
  4. Get the kids involved in the food preparation & allow them to plate their own meals – it gives THEM power and satisfaction
  5. Take the kids to a local farm shop or world food supermarket – kids are fascinated by facts and new items

By making small simple changes, you will find your family naturally begins to gravitate towards healthier choices as a way of life, enjoying and experiencing new exciting foods and cultures.

Try it!

 

Homemade Sugar-free Ketchup 

Ingredients:

300g tomato puree

200g passata

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon mustard powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

2 shakes of ground allspice

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.
  2. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, using as required.
  3. Enjoy as part of your 5-a-day!

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©