Hippy Punk Diaries

Life, work, writing and being a mum

Wallpaper anxiety July 5, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiemcallister @ 8:45 pm

I’m in the middle of a bout of anxiety. As usual it’s a mixture of work pressures, lacking time and dealing with the ups and downs of toddler life.

But wait, there’s something else causing me to shout angrily at drivers in 4x4s blocking my view at junctions. Something quite new. Something incongruent with who I am and what I place value on.

I’m going to call it house pride, or lack of it.

As my parents will attest, as a teenager my room looked like a warzone. But there’s nothing unusual in that and I remember my mum telling me that when I was older and had my own house I’d want to keep it clean. So yes she was right, I no longer have to wade through piles of clothes to get to my bed, but there are still strategically placed piles of things dotted around my house, homeless even 8 years after moving in. Cleaning is often pretty low on my priority list until I can’t bear to look at that unclean item/area/room any longer. I think it’s just in my DNA – as long as it’s liveable we’ll live with it.

But just recently things have begun to niggle me, little things that I could live with before are suddenly all I can see. Having fences that are two different colours is offending my eyes, an untended patch of earth at the side of my house is screaming to have some love shown to it and the state of our exterior paintwork is keeping me up at night. And I’m not sure why.

Suddenly I’m measuring myself against others who have better wallpaper, nicer furnishings, and the ‘perfect’ home. My contentment is shot. I need a beautiful house and I need it now. But I don’t want to need it, I don’t want to care so much, material possessions have never defined me and I don’t want them to do so now…what the hell happened to me?

The only thing I can think is that my sphere of reference is changing as I get older. Where once my friends and I lived in shared houses with threadbare yellow sofas, in rented flats without showers or even with their parents, now we’re all homeowners. And not just first homeowners but in some cases second homeowners, with more money to throw at those houses. And as my social circle’s houses grow, so do my insecurities.

And yet for the most part my friends are writers, artists, or creative at heart; people who appreciate beauty but value individuality. Why, therefore, are we striving for an accepted view of perfection? And why do I care what everyone else is doing?

I know that a lot of this at the minute comes down to the fact that we’re soon looking to sell up in search of our own picket fence, and therefore we have to make our house ‘appealing’ to the general public. When doing up our bathroom our preferred funky Moroccan style tiles gave way to universally inoffensive plain white ones. We have to see through the eyes of the unadventurous for a little while. But when I’m looking at houses, I’m finding myself drawn to the beautifully done ones, the aspirational ones, just like everyone else. Not the doer uppers I once sought out. Perhaps it’s because I lack the time to make something my own from scratch, or perhaps I’m scared that I lack the vision. Or perhaps it’s because, deep down, I’m comparing myself to everyone else and the easiest way to keep up is to mimic and to play it safe.

At the beginning of the year I set myself a resolution of non-judgement and acceptance and right now I think I need to practice this more than ever. But I also think I need to get back in touch with who I am and what will make me happy and then get on that and get over this desire to own someone else’s idea of perfection.

Photo credit: @shannonmcgrath7

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Non-judgement Day January 3, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiemcallister @ 10:34 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

judgement

It’s the New Year so that means it’s time for some bandwagon jumping (more on that later) with a post about some intentions for the year. Bear with me here, I fear this one could be a rambler.

Before a new year begins I make sure I find time to reflect and look at areas I want to work on for the coming year. A few years back I decided I wanted to place focus on being brave, and I made some major changes and plans off the back of that, not least starting a family and quitting my job.

As 2016 drew to a close I was tired and on a bit of a downer, and I found I kept being drawn into negative thoughts, about myself and my abilities but also others around me, with little things becoming bigger issues than they needed to be. I found I was judging both myself and others too harshly, setting unrealistic expectations and then being disappointed when they weren’t being reached. And so I decided that 2017 would be the year of non-judgement. I would strive to accept things, people and situations as they were and not place value judgements onto them.

This was working out just fine until I came across a blog post that bugged me, really got under my skin and as I rained venom down upon it to my long-suffering husband he encouraged me to blog about my thoughts. But I couldn’t I said, what about my resolution (ignoring the fact that I’d obliterated my own Zen already with the verbal outpouring).

And that led me to thinking, does taking a path of non-judgement and acceptance mean you become bland, voiceless, passive to everything taking place around you? I’m still not 100% sure of the answer to that but I’ve concluded that being non-judgemental doesn’t mean you have no opinion. If I state my opinion as just that, and not a fact, devoid of heavy emotion or negativity, then it feels acceptable.

With that in mind, I will attempt to turn the negativity of my rant into a positive message…let me know if I manage it.

Know your voice

Since becoming a mum I’ve enjoyed anecdotes about the (previously) unseen realities of motherhood that pop up on social media, that those little munchkins are as often the spawn of satan (judgement?) as angelic cherubs. Hurrah for Gin is a personal fave. But, as has always happened and will no doubt continue to happen, I’m now starting to see bandwagon jumpers (told you it was coming). It happened with 50 Shades (in my personal opinion I have no idea why that ever became a thing), it happened with Twilight, in fact pretty much anything zeitgeisty, and with the launch of a number of big books by some of the anti-mummy bloggers (for want of a better term) this Christmas it seems like everyone’s at it, chasing followers, likes, shares and maybe even big bucks through imitation.

But why the anger? Removing extreme emotion from the equation I think I found it frustrating, saddening and a little disappointing to read a post so obviously trying to exploit the quirks of the more popular writers of the genre. I didn’t even disagree with what she was saying, it was the way she was saying it that made me feel sickened. It was like looking at the blog equivalent of one of those generically pretty girls with too much fake tan and hair extensions (OK that was blatant judgement there, I apologise).

It brought me back to one thing – authenticity.

Just be you. Know your voice and know how to use it. That’s why people get ‘picked up’ in the first place, because they’re saying something different in a way no one has said it before. I know that takes confidence and everyone has their idols but all I ask is that you try. Find your voice and employ it. And if you can’t find it, maybe just don’t say anything at all.

But that’s just my opinion.

If you do I won’t judge you, I’ll just quietly close down my browser window, unclench my jaw and work on resetting my Zen.

 

How to be the new girl July 30, 2016

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I’m a month in to my new life and I have to say it’s shaping up pretty sweet. The (two) day job is paying the bills but it’s also meant I’m getting to work with a whole new team of awesome people. My days in the office give me the chance to catch up with other adults, take a leisurely lunch sans baby, oh, and use my brain. I’m also learning some useful new skills, both in HTML and settling in.

After 8 years in the same job it could be considered pretty daunting to be thrown into a whole new office environment but having started two new jobs (I’m also doing some contracting for a local university at the minute) in the last month I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a pro. During this process it’s also struck me that the whole settling in thing is a skill I need to get good at because as a freelancer I’m going to be having this experience A LOT.

So, as a reminder to me, and tips for others in a similar situation, here are the three key things that have helped me survive my month as a new girl (twice over).

  1. Smile
    When in a new environment it can be a bit overwhelming, you’ve got no idea who anyone is or even where the toilets are. Even if you’re feeling nervous as hell keeping a friendly, upbeat smile on your face means others won’t see your inner wobbles. Plus, making a good first impression on the folk in the office will not only make your time working there more pleasant and help you feel part of the team more quickly, if you’re a freelancer it could even lead to more work from the large number of new contacts you’ve just made.
  2. Ask questions
    Depending on the kind of role you’re going into and whether it’s temp, perm or contract, there will be a varying degree of expectation on your shoulders. But whatever the expectation, it’s essential to ask questions. I used to always feel too nervous to ask too many questions but I’ve now got to the age where I give far fewer fucks and if I’m not sure about something I just ask. I’d rather ask and get it right than sit and procrastinate, and normally your employer will be glad of that (I know when the shoe was on the other foot I welcomed questions). If you really, really feel like you can’t ask your new boss something, either use your existing contacts (think hard enough and you’re bound to know someone who’s an expert) or, if all else fails, ask Google.
  3. Be confident
    This kind of links into the other two, but whatever you do, be confident. Remember they employed you for a reason, because you have the skills and ability to do what they need you to do. Sure it might take you a while to get your head round it (I’ll admit I’m still not entirely sure what a span tag does), but remember, you’ve got this. When you’re out on your own you’ve got to be your own cheerleader, so get those pompoms at the ready.

So wherever I’m called on to go these days I’m keeping that smile on my face, those questions on the tip of my tongue and believing in myself the whole while. And remember, the best thing about being the new girl is that you get to recreate yourself and be exactly who you want to be.

 

Pressing reset June 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiemcallister @ 7:45 pm
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My celebratory meal!

My celebratory meal!

Today I pressed reset on my life. After years in the rat race I’m taking things back to basics, focusing on the things that are important to me and making some really major changes in the process.

After over 8 years in my communications job at Midcounties I made the tough decision to walk away. After months of deliberating, reconsidering, wondering ‘what if’ and imagining all of the worst case scenarios known to man (which at one point threatened to ruin my enjoyment of my maternity leave), I did it, I actually bloody did it – I handed my notice in. Both the job and the people there have been great, and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, but in my gut I just knew it was time to move on. And the best thing of all? After 176,000 miles travelled, I get to wave goodbye to my hellish commute!

The other best thing of all (I get to have two, right?) is that I get to FINALLY openly talk about all the plans I’ve been making for the past 6 months or so.

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve decided to become a freelance copywriter and content marketer. It means I get to write again for a living, something I’ve become more and more distanced from in my day job. I’ve already completed a handful of projects and when I’ve been working on them I’ve enjoyed it so much, just creating and getting into the ‘flow’. I know that there are risks and that it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I am so up for the challenge. The feedback I’ve had so far has been really positive and I’ve met so many fantastic people (Bhavini and Claire to name but a few) who have made me feel that this can be my new reality.

The best thing about it is that I get to work it around my little man, so I can still spend time with him and save on some of the cost of childcare.

My thanks to my lovely friend Liz who gave me the heads up about a job going at her place of work, where I managed to snag a 2 day a week in house role, to allow me the security to step away from the commute and the high-pressured work without putting all of my eggs in one basket. I’m hoping that the combination of an in house content role and freelance will give me a great balance, allowing me to develop my skills and spend time with other people (pretty sure freelancing can get lonely at times) while also following my dreams and flexing my creative muscles.

Please take a look at my new AM Content website, and if you like what I do I’d love for you to like, share and support me as networking, online and offline, is everything.

The button is pressed, the scene is set, let my new life begin!

 

A Monday thought on authenticity  May 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiemcallister @ 9:35 pm
Tags: , ,

Just a quick blog, more of a bloggette if you will but just wanted to share a thought. 

I don’t know about you but I feel like there are certain core values and beliefs that underpin my life and have done since I was young. Or perhaps they are rules that I once set for myself in order to be authentic and to live my best life. Most of the time I don’t question them, they are just there and I occasionally spout them off, but sometimes I don’t think I’m actually honouring them either. For instance when I’m stressed , in autopilot or just feeling ‘out of whack’. 

But right now I’m facing some of these fundamental beliefs head on and to actually follow them wholeheartedly means making some choices that aren’t all that comfortable. And even though I know that comfort shouldn’t be an aim for life, it’s just so damned hard to walk away from. Living the life you’ve laid out for yourself in your heart is hard and it’s scary and brings up a lot of ‘what ifs’. But if you turn your back on your values and press on with what’s expected of you you’ll always live with the ghost path, the way things could have been if you’d been authentic. 

I guess all I can do is listen to my gut and trust that it will all come good in the end, and if it doesn’t then at least I will know that I followed my heart when it mattered, even though it wasn’t easy to do.

So, deep and heavy for a Monday evening. If you have any experiences I’d love to hear them.

 

The four sounds a new mum dreads March 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiemcallister @ 9:30 pm
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scr

Babies are strange creatures and noise making is one of their specialties. Ranging from cute babbles and fun raspberries to enormous burps and rumbling farts, mums get to love (or at least appreciate) these noises as signs of learning, growing and healthy digestion. But not all baby-related sounds are so well received and there are four that strike fear into the heart of a new mum beyond any others:

  1. The Splatter 
    It’s the middle of the night, they’ve just had their second twilight feed and you’re exhaustedly burping them on your shoulder and simultaneously willing them back to sleep. Then you hear the long awaited burp followed by the dreaded splatter. Your bedroom carpet has been turned from dark blue to a beautiful shade of cream and usually your PJs have been taken along for the ride, sometimes even your bedcovers. Cue bleary eyed scrabbling for the lamp, soggy feet, a major clean-up operation and baby who’s no doubt been dumped down unceremoniously and with all the light and commotion is guaranteed not to sleep for another two hours. Thanks to The Splatter your odds of getting any more sleep have plummeted.
  2. The Post Feed Vibration 
    The Post Feed Vibration is another middle-of-the-night affliction that will often result in a zombie mum the following day. Imagine the scene: you’ve given them a lovely long feed sending them into a food coma, avoided The Splatter and laid them down in their cot. You’re just sinking back into the warm, inviting duvet when you hear it: the unmistakable wet, vibrating explosion of a poo. Bugger! You crawl out of bed ready for the change and an additional hour of rocking them back to sleep but they’re still asleep. You then face one of the many moral dilemmas of parenthood, to wake and change or to pretend you never heard it and hope they carry on enjoying their peaceful slumber, kept warm by their own excrement. Decision making here takes into account a number of factors, including trying to calculate the magnitude of the bum explosion from the sound, whether there were any after shocks (there normally are) and how damn tired you are. But even if you do opt to let them sleep you’ll feel guilty (for all of five seconds before you fall unconscious) you know that you’re likely to be faced with a sleepsuit and bedcovers that need a good wash in the morning, so either way the Post Feed Vibration is a lose-lose.
  3. The Thud
    The other two sounds make your heart drop, that longed for sleep sailing swiftly out of sight but The Thud is the one that makes your heart stop. So, you’re both chilling on the sofa, playing happily and you need to grab something quickly from upstairs. You shuffle them back so they’re as far from the edge as can be and make a run for it. But as you’re descending the stairs you hear it. The Thud. You run faster than you’ve ever run and re-enter the living room in time for the crying to start. It’s not coming from the sofa, it’s emanating from the floor. Crap! Cue desperate checking for injuries, rocking and shushing while simultaneously berating yourself as a horrible person and unfit mother. Five minutes later they’re fine but you can’t let it go so easily, cue a day full of flash backs and promises to never leave them alone again. And that works, until they start escaping from pretty much everything and you hear it again. Until the floor is the only place you ever leave them. And I’m pretty sure that, at 6 months, even that won’t be safe soon.
  4. The Midnight Scream
    It’s 2am. All is still. You’re enjoying some well-earned slumber and suddenly you’re ripped from your dream by an almighty blood curdling scream. WTF? Shooting out of bed your heart pounds and your mind reels over what could be wrong. You get to the cot and…they’re completely asleep. There’s nothing wrong, they were just indulging in some sleep screaming, like you do. And then you can’t get back to sleep because your adrenaline is running faster than Usain Bolt.

So they’re my top four – do you agree? But no matter what sounds they make they’re still pretty damn awesome and when you hear them giggle (the number one best sound) you soon forget about these four horrors.

Credit: Creative commons

 

Carry on January 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — angiemcallister @ 10:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

ergo

It’s cold, it’s icy, what will you be wearing this season to keep you warm when you’re out in the elements? Forget faux fur, try wearing your baby.

Baby wearing, as it is amusingly known (I can’t help but have visions of velcroing small children to you in an approximation of a living suit), is all about donning a sling or baby carrier to get your little one from A to B. When planning for the munchkin’s arrival I had a strong feeling that it would be my preferred method of transporting him around, giving me free hands and a much lower likelihood of running people over, and began researching and planning to become a fully fledged baby wearer. I had originally hoped to just carry him and not shell out for a buggy at all, but I got some mighty funny looks when I suggested forgoing such an item and as a naive mummy-to-be I felt that we would need a buggy too, as there would be occasions when the carrier just wouldn’t work. But now having lived and breathed motherhood for nearly 5 months I can honestly say we could have lived without the buggy, certainly up to this point (we bought one that is mainly designed for older kids so it still has potential to be used when he starts piling on the pounds).

In fact a few times we opted for the buggy (mainly so he could nap or sit independently while inside more easily) I found myself regretting it. Take Kev’s graduation for example. The thinking was that the buggy would allow all of us attending to push him about and let him nap more easily, but it turns out that the student union was lift-less and so we had to lug the little one up a couple of flights of stairs, the buggy constantly seemed to be in everyone’s way, it wouldn’t fit on the shuttle bus and he got cold and cranky so we ended up carrying him half the time anyway. If we’d have slinged him we’d have covered the stairs without blinking and I could have kept him effortlessly close to me, while still having free hands for canapés and drinks.

For me, there are so many benefits to carrying. Here are just a few:

  • Every walk turns into a work out, as I’m carrying additional weight I’m burning lots more calories as I go.
  • Shopping is a breeze with two free hands and no buggy blocking the aisles.
  • I can talk to him more easily as we walk around, making me look slightly less crazy.
  • I feel like he’s safer from random ownerless dogs/rabid children in the vicinity.
  • I am a nightmare for clipping people’s heels with anything wheeled – if you see me coming after you with a buggy you’d better protect your Achilles.
  • He loves it – he gets to stay warm and snugly with whoever is carrying him. Plus he gets loads of attention, usually from random people who comment on how snug he looks and how they’d like to be carried around in one (strange but true).

Although baby wearing is hardly a new concept, the reactions you get are quite interesting. I’m lucky in that they’ve mainly been positive (as above) but I know others who haven’t had such positive feedback. For instance Kev had his masculinity challenged by a worker in the local Co-op while wearing, but in a back handed compliment kind of way as he said he would have liked to have carried his kid in one but thought it wasn’t very manly (issues much?).

But some of the most interesting reactions I find come from fellow wearers. I’ve encountered everything from sling snobbery from the hippy set for revealing I have a structured carrier (Ergobaby if you’re interested – it’s fabulous) as well as my stretchy wrap (Kari-Me – also great for shopping and while doing household chores) to sling camaraderie at baby yoga: ‘oh we have another carrier’.  But baby wearers love to compare notes, swap sling stories (‘I carry my two year old on my back and my 3 month old on my front’ – this woman, although tiny, is hard as nails in my eyes) and give recommendations and it’s actually really nice to feel part of a kind of community, who understand exactly why you carry (here’s a clue people, it’s not because I can’t afford a buggy).

So this winter (and spring, summer and autumn) I’ll be wearing my baby. What will you be wearing?