how to be authentic It’s a bit of an oxymoron writing the words ‘how to be authentic’ when my personal feeling is authenticity can’t be taught. If you naturally veer towards materialism and shallowness, then you’ll have to brace yourself before reading. And most definitely be prepared to do some work on yourself afterwards. This blog contains lots of links to other blogs I have written, which you might find useful. They are not affiliated links, and this is not a sponsored post. 

It’s easy to write the phrase ‘how to be authentic’ but what does being authentic mean?

The dictionary defines the word authentic as not false or copied; genuine; real. An authentic person isn’t trying to emulate anyone else. They don’t jump on every faddy bandwagon there is. They most certainly practice what they preach. Authentic people don’t say things, then behave in ways which indicate they’re not adhering to their own words. In a nutshell, authentic people are comfortable with their own opinions and values to always mean what they say.

Here’s the thing though. Even the most authentic people have to sometimes tone themselves down in certain work-related environments. Yes of course they shouldn’t have to, but when bills need to be paid, jobs need to be kept. The difference is that authentic people do not mask their true selves in front of their close friends and family. I’ve learnt quite a lot from observing my autistic daughter mask. For fear of not being liked, she presents the very best of herself to a group. This usually comes at the detriment of her family afterwards, because she knows she is 100% safe with us. Masking is exhausting and frustrating and leads to her being miserable.

If we get to full blown adulthood, and feel we have to mask to absolutely everyone we know, then it’s definitely time to reevaluate our inner circle. One of my big bugbears is when someone says something because they think it’s what I want to hear. Firstly they usually get it wrong, and secondly I’d rather they spoke the truth, come what may. Life is too short to waste time on the pointless minutiae.

how to be authenticAuthentic people don’t feel the need to share everything

Here’s a novel idea: minor difficulties can often be overcome quickly. There I said it. Society’s obsession with sharing every-single-thing-247365 means people are becoming incapable of dealing with normal challenges. I’m not talking about the big things. The bone crushing, soul destroying things. Death, divorce, serious illness, etc. It should go without saying that in these instances we need all the love and support we can get.

Do we really need to make such a big deal out of every teeny tiny inconvenience? Does everyone really need to know that your waitress was a bit shit at lunch? Or that you missed the bus and had to wait for the next one? Or that the man in the post office was really grumpy?

No good comes from holding onto anger and annoyance. It takes up too much headspace, which could be spent on being useful. Ask yourself: will these small details be remembered in five, ten years? Save your big emotions for the important stuff, otherwise you might find your reserves are empty when you need them the most.

The sad fact is, not everyone you’ll meet is authentic

I like to give everyone a chance and take them at face value. It’s really important to make our own minds up about other people. Whether or not we enjoy their company should determine our relationship with them. Allowing ourselves to be influenced by what other people think of them is nothing more than school playground behaviour.

Unfortunately social media has a way of making things blurry, and the fakery can be overwhelming and draining. Especially when a lot of the so-called celebs and high profile accounts do not even write their own content. Or have a personality to back up their witty words (which they didn’t write). Makes you think, doesn’t it?

how to be authenticSame with faddy bandwagons. Now, I am all up for people changing their ill health with good, clean food. This is a subject I have a lot to say about, and hugely advocate. I reversed my own infertility diagnosis in 2007, by cutting out refined sugar and processed carbs. I then went onto start eating the paleo way in 2012, years before it was mainstream. I also did the gut healing GAPS Intro Diet in 2014, and had brilliant results.

Now, almost twelve years after first cutting out refined sugar, guess what? I still don’t eat the stuff. How could I possibly know as much as I do about the damage it causes, and the way it makes me feel, then go ahead and eat it? That would be pure hypocrisy.

One thing I absolutely cannot stomach is when people claim to live a certain way but actually don’t. Scratch the surface and you realise that the all-natural enthusiast is as hopelessly addicted to junk (food, clothes, tv, etc) as everyone else.

So many people advocate a certain way of life but don’t actually live it. They’re desperate to, they want to so badly, but they just can’t. They don’t have the inner resources, and the strength it takes. Unfortunately these same people are easy targets for con artists to take advantage of. I think faddy bandwagons can be a very dangerous thing to jump onboard. Have a read of this if you’d like some help breaking out of bad habits, and forming some good ones.

I asked my Instagram followers if they considered themselves to be authentic

I found it astonishing that so many correlated authenticity with how much they were comfortable with sharing. Lots of people commented along the lines of “I am definitely authentic, but I don’t share everything online…” I genuinely do not agree with sharing every last detail online. Even during my earliest days of anonymous blogging, I didn’t. There might be plenty you all know about me, but there is a crap tonne you don’t. Especially over the last few years.

It would be all too easy for me to chase after the potential viral posts, by writing about autism. I just can’t bring myself to do it though. Every now and then I will, if I feel I have something useful and unique to say. Writing about it day after day basically meant reliving the hardest parts of my motherhood experience, and not moving forwards. Plus my daughter became hype aware of my online presence, and it didn’t feel fair to share such personal details about her.

how to be authenticChoosing to share certain elements of our lives does not make us inauthentic. Providing we aren’t misleading our readers with a false version of ourselves. The absolute best part of my job as a writer is when a reader gets in touch and tells me that my words have had an impact. I for one wouldn’t be able to live with myself if it was all a pack of lies.

The reason bloggers are getting such a bad rap at the moment is because this is so rife. Especially on Instagram. Surely if we have a public profile, the least we can give our readers is our integrity?

How to be authentic? I have come to this conclusion

Authenticity cannot be packaged up and sold. It can’t be copied or taught overnight. Values such as kindness, compassion and honesty cost nothing, yet they are so lacking in today’s society.

We are all a work in progress, living authentically simply means being true to our core beliefs. Not selling out for five minutes of fame or a few ££. Saying what we mean, and meaning what we say. Knowing not everyone will like us, and that being okay.

Authenticity is looking in the mirror, and genuinely being comfortable with what we see. It’s about owning our story. War wounds, warts and wobbly bits included. If you don’t, then it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee/tea/kombucha, my friends.

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I’m writing a piece on authenticity, and would like to pose the question to you all, my dear readers. Do you consider yourself to be an authentic person? 💖 Now, I am certain everyone would be inclined to immediately answer with a yes. In case you didn’t know, the dictionary defines the word authentic as: “not false or copied; genuine; real” 💖 Now ask yourself again. Am I authentic? Or am I just another wannabe in a sea of shallowness? I’m not asking this to start a fight, or be mean. I really do welcome interesting debate on here, and I love knowing that I often spark thoughts in people’s minds that most definitely weren’t there prior to reading my words. I’m hoping to spark one this evening…please discuss in the comments, and don’t forget to be kind! Can’t wait to see who replies!

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The title of this blog started out “Why The Greatest Showman Turned Me into an Emotional Wreck!” Whilst I could wax lyrical about the beautiful portrayal of diversity and overcoming adversity, I feel that’s been done to death on the interwebs. Not that it isn’t those things, it very much is, but I blubbed my way through the two hours at the cinema for a multitude of reasons. The film resonated with me on so many more levels than I was expecting. Ultimately, it’s left me asking myself: will I ever be enough?

I was late to the party for The Greatest Showman, and only saw it this weekend. It’s not an exaggeration to say I cried my way through the entire thing. Last time a film got to me like this was twenty years ago, when I watched Sleepers. I was hungover which is always a recipe for trouble when it comes to setting off unexpected emotions. Those were the days before therapy. Before facing up to my demons and addressing the elephant who’d been sitting in the corner far too long.

The Greatest ShowmanFor those of you who are new around here, I’m the survivor of a dysfunctional childhood

I moved house a lot as a kid, and was always the new girl – aka an easy target for bullies. I was sexually abused from the ages of eight to ten, and emotionally abused too many times to recall. I left home after a punch in the face when I was fifteen years old. I made my way into adulthood with fifty pounds in my pocket and zero education. I slept on people’s floors for the first few months, until I met my first boyfriend. His parents kindly took me in, and I lived with them until things went pear shaped a few months later.

Jobs and homes came and went in those first two years. It’s a blur if I’m honest, I’m sure I’ve blocked most of it out. I worked for some very grubby men. People who only employed under aged girls to work in their shops. Mostly so they could get us drunk and take advantage. I consider escaping their advances one of my biggest achievements from those days.

A stroke of luck came when I moved into a lovely house share at seventeen. I had a job in a department store, and new friends who were not complete losers. Far from it actually, and two of them are still a huge part of my life to this day. When I was almost nineteen I managed to blag a temp job at a big financial house in the City. The two weeks turned into a month, then three, then a permanent job, then better jobs. Those were the days when nobody bothered checking your credentials. Now I’d have to have a degree just to walk through the door.

Can you see where I’m going here?

There were many lines from The Greatest Showman that set off the lump in my throat. This is the one that’s been playing in my head like a broken record:

“My father was treated like dirt. I was treated like dirt. My children will not be treated like dirt.”

People sometimes question my motives for doing everything I do for my kids. I’ve been accused of trying to give them a perfect childhood. Oh how wrong you are! I’ve never aimed for perfection. All I want is for my kids to never EVER be treated the way I’ve been treated.

I want them to instinctively respect themselves enough to never be taken advantage of. To formulate their own ideas about the world and not be too easily influenced. To have enough confidence to tell people to keep their small minded opinions to themselves. I never want them to be so desperate for work they have to compromise their safety. I never want them to be so close to homelessness they have to sleep on someone’s floor.

The Greatest Showman Unless you have been in that position yourself you will never understand what it’s like. I might live a life of privilege now, in comparison to too many, but I have been a piece of meat. A piece of dirt. I have had people look at me like I am completely worthless. Those scars run so deep, I wonder whether they will ever truly fade.

Which leads me once again to ask the question, will I ever be enough?

I’ve come a long way from where I began. I started facing my demons after my first mental breakdown at the ripe age of 22, thanks to an absolutely incredible counsellor. I embarked on this long old road I’m still on – the path to authenticity. Cutting out the BS – the fake friends and toxic family. I have great friends, an amazing husband, and have been (hashtag!) blessed with three little humans. Yet some days I am so incredibly lonely it feels like I might drown under the overwhelmingly enormous weight of it all.

When the hurt pulses through your core, just keeping your head above water can be a monumental achievement. I used to think I had it all sussed out. It was so simple. Work hard, reap the rewards. Then along came three children. Severe sleep deprivation. Autism. Home education forced upon us. And now? Well, now I wonder how the hell I could possibly be enough.

I’ve taken some serious knocks this year. People I thought would be around forever have disappeared. Seems everyone loves your honesty and no nonsense approach to life, until you point something out to them. Oh the irony.

Each time I have to pick myself up and dust myself off it gets harder 

I concluded recently that my mental health goes through cycles. Even when the rollercoaster is on a down, some days I still manage to ace life. On others, even when there are plenty of ups to be had, it’s as if a happiness gremlin has snatched away all my smiles. How can I expect my littlees to laugh if I’m not able to?

Self-esteem has been too low of late, so I’ve invested a lot of energy in getting my novel up to submission standard. It’s given me a focus outside of the grind. Something to feel proud of. I’ve needed it, desperately. My daily yoga and weekly four hour slots of respite just haven’t been cutting the mustard.

There’s so much to say, but ultimately we will always be judged on our actions rather than our words. So, I’m taking a big deep breath and putting on my positive pants. First round of would-be agent emails have just been sent. Wish me luck!

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me”

Mental health is a precarious thing isn’t it? I’ve dragged myself out of many quagmires over the years, and will no doubt need to pull myself out of many more in the future. Why? Because I’m a human, and us humans are imperfect and flawed. I know I’ll f**k up at some point, and that’s ok. 95% of the time I make good decisions and am entirely dedicated to my family and friends. I think I’ve finally (at the ripe old age of 38 and three quarters) made peace with the odd 5% here and there. ♥️ If there’s one change I’ve been successfully working towards over the last few years, it’s not beating myself up over that 5%. Self-flagellation gets us nowhere, but can have the ability to grind us into the ground, rendering us useless. ♥️ This life can be such a stressful one, but the smallest things can have the biggest impact day to day. Taking a few extra minutes in the shower to breathe deeply or sitting with the kids and doing a jigsaw puzzle or some colouring makes all the difference to my mood when it’s all got a bit too much. Not to mention my beloved yoga snacks (see the video from Monday two posts down on the grid) and diffusing essential oils. Hubby said the other day “it smells like a pilates studio in here!” ♥️ Amid taking care of everyone else, it’s vital to look after ourselves, but I know so many people who don’t. As hard as it is to process at the time, when things come on top it happens for a reason. It’s nature’s way of telling us that we need to stand back and reevaluate what’s important. And believe me when I tell you, that nothing, absolutely NOTHING is more important than our mental health. So embrace that hard time and those pesky emotions, because the other side of this is going to feel so damn good. . . . . . #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthmonth #mentalhealthwarriors #thereforher #wednesdayvibes #yogasnacks #essentialoilswork #takecareofyou #mummytries #freefromgang #fearlesslyauthenticblogger

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I’ve had a fair few conversations recently which have ended with me saying “…but we’re sleepwalking into oblivion, and no-one even cares!” Needless to say it makes me pretty unpopular at parties. I have only a teeny tiny amount of people in my life who are willing to openly discuss this topic. Which feels largely like preaching to the choir. So I’m being bold and sharing this piece. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on it all. 

I feel the main problem with our society is that “we” largely place too much value on the wrong things. The way we look, how popular we are and how much money we have are drummed into to us as important – from the youngest of ages – and go to the top of our priority list. The world that our kids are growing up in can feel like a harsh one, and with the added filter of social media distorting reality, is it any wonder? It’s not just the kids who are suffering either. Almost everyone I know is consumed with the pressures of life.  

sleepwalking into oblivionBut is this added layer of pressure all down to the consequences of our own choices?

There seems to be such a lot of pressure these days to do and be so much more. Coupled with the notion that women can (apparently) have it all. Motherhood is deemed by many to be a tiresome and unattractive chore. It blows my mind away how such an un-newsworthy debate as breast vs bottle it still dividing the sides.

From where I’m standing, the sisterhood only seems to exist when we’re nodding along in complete agreement to what is being said. The minute we challenge someone’s stance on a controversial topic, well we’re deemed as being unsupportive. We’ll get blocked from their social media and bitched about in closed Facebook groups. It makes me sad beyond belief. 

Trouble is, in the process of trying to be and do so much, we are selling ourselves short. Are today’s actions going to cause long term damage? Not that raising a generation of mentally healthy children who grow up to be mentally healthy adults appears to be on the government’s agenda. Judging by their year on year shocking cuts that fund children’s services across the board, they appear out of touch and unsympathetic to how so many are forced to live. 

I didn’t have it easy, but I turned out okay

I’ve heard this tired mantra all my life – “I didn’t have this or that when I was growing up… I had it harder in my day than the kids have it today… blah blah blah.”

For those unfamiliar with my story, I had a severely dysfunctional upbringing, and left home at 15. I then drank and partied my troubles away for a whole decade. Along my treacherous journey I suffered countless bouts of depression and anxiety, had two full mental breakdowns, declared bankruptcy and cut ties with my entire family. These are not experiences I would wish upon anyone else.

Through therapy and a whole load of self-reflection, I came to realise that everything I went through as a young adult was directly linked to the way I raised. Fortunately for me, I met my amazing husband and some rock solid friends who became my family. Without their unfaltering support I dare say I wouldn’t even be here writing this article.

sleepwalking into oblivionIf society is sleepwalking into oblivion, how can we chose not to? 

In the school of life for the Davis kids this week (or home education as most would call it) we’ve been talking a lot about cause and effect. How every single decision that we make effects everything else that happens next. This is a bit of a mind blowing concept for my almost nine year old autistic daughter, but she’s getting there. We all need to fully understand this, because it’s one of the most valuable things we will ever learn.  

In all areas of our lives, if we are to have a decent shot at long term happiness, we have to be making decisions that we are truly comfortable with. We can’t be afraid of putting our hands up when we’re wrong, changing tact and finding another way of doing the things that aren’t working out. We can’t allow the fear of doing or saying something that might offend someone else stop us from making good choices. We mustn’t let our wants blind us to our needs. Check out my autobiographical self-help book Become the Best You if you’d like to go one step further than a blog post. It’s a short book, and quite a few people have told me that it’s changed their lives.  

If we are making well thought out good decisions, then we won’t have to live with negative consequences for years afterwards. It’s a simple equation, but it’s not sexy or interesting. It doesn’t sell stuff, and how boring would it be to have a happy society? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know this. Until we start putting down our devices, taking a step back and properly thinking about the effect our decisions are going to have on our future selves, then I truly fear that society will end up sleepwalking into oblivion.

Do you need a plan of action? Here’s a simple one to get started

Get happy: This might sound like the most basic thing in the entire world, but if you aren’t happy you will find it exceptionally difficult to make good decisions. By doing everything you can to smile more than you frown, you are instantly inviting positive opportunities to present themselves. Check out this little video clip I made for tips.

Switch off: Tune out from mass media by only consuming information that will enhance your life. Ditch the tabloids, the whingey websites, the trashy magazines and reality TV. While you’re at it, have a social media detox. How much time do you waste on Facebook even though it bores and depresses the hell out of you? I had got myself into a great place with Instagram, but this past week or so I’ve been spending way too much time on there so shall be taking another break over the weekend. Switching my phone off for hours at a time is like medicine for me. Why not give it a go?

Don’t live in an echo chamber: there has been much said over the last couple of years about the pitfalls of living in echo chambers. Whilst I wholeheartedly advocate surrounding ourselves with positive and inspirational people, we do also need to ensure that we have good enough friends in our lives to challenge us when we’re factually wrong or being an idiot. 

Don’t compare: Stop comparing yourself to others because it’s a pointless exercise. Instead feel safe in the knowledge that no-one has the ‘perfect life’, we are all flawed in some way or another and everybody has problems. While you are lusting after another person’s life, there will more than likely be someone out there lusting after yours.

One shot: We get one shot at this life people, lets make it count! If my own experiences have taught me anything, it’s that a good life doesn’t just happen. We need to make it happen and constantly strive for it. Often against the odds, and in the face of extreme adversity.

I certainly won’t be sleepwalking into oblivion, how about you?

**many thanks to Unsplash for the gorgeous photos used in this piece. Credit to Though Catalog and Clem Onojeghuo**

No, not that c word, this is a nice clean blog!

Although I would be lying if I said that one doesn’t slip out of my mouth from time to time. Today I’d like to talk about the other c word: communication.

I have come to the conclusion that almost any argument or misunderstanding can be resolved by using proper communication. The words we choose to say, have the power to foster empathy and warmth. Whereas the ones we don’t say can often leave us feeling cold, sad and shut out. 

c wordAnyone who has read at least three of my previous blogs will know that I am no stranger to having a hard time. To be perfectly frank, the last few years have been a perpetual rollercoaster ride. Or as I said to a friend recently, it’s been a lot like shovelling sh*t up a hill.

Life has been so stressful and so overwhelming for so long, and it’s only been very recently that I’ve felt like I’m operating on a happier level. Which is why I’d like to share this piece today.

I believe that the c word can completely change what we’re receiving back from the people in our lives

I totally get that everyone has their own coping mechanisms, but there comes a point where we have to ask ourselves if we’re making our lives harder than they need to be. I like to be totally transparent about where I’m at, and what I can (or can’t offer) the people I’m closest to. I’ve found this goes a long way for those around me. 

I heard a great phrase many years ago.

“If it’s important you’ll find the time, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”

If your friends mean a lot to you, then even in the midst of life’s obstacle course, I urge you to find it within yourself to communicate this to them. Otherwise it can make them feel like you can’t be bothered with them. The great thing about the c word, is it can lead to potential solutions. A shoulder being offered to cry on, or a helping hand with your children.

If you spend a lot of time with a person one day, and they’re “too busy” to see you for months the next, it hurts. Especially if your kids are heavily invested in them. It can feel like a metaphoric punch in the face, and the complete opposite to having a meaningful relationship. Sometimes changing the rules of the game is necessary for our own self-preservation, but it has to be communicated clearly to the other person.  

Are apps like Tinder dumbing people down and making them shallow?  

I’m so thankful that I met my husband way before online dating became par for the course. I seriously wouldn’t last five minutes on today’s scene.

the c wordThe notion that people can be picked up and put down at our leisure is beyond toxic, and the saddest thing about it is that it’s become normalised. Swipe left folks (or is it right?) until someone catches your eye.

Like a conveyor belt in the supermarket, but it’s not groceries that are moving along, it’s people.

Sad times.

Great friends are like stars

Over the last year, while I’ve been at my lowest, I’ve had a lot of support from friends. Sometimes they’ve done something small, and (to them) fairly insignificant, but it’s meant the world to me. On the flip side, I’ve seen great friends face awful struggles completely by themselves. Although I can see why and how, I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t make me sad beyond belief that they felt they couldn’t reach out. A problem shared is a problem halved, and all that.  

I went through a rocky patch with one of my best friends last year. It broke my heart, and I couldn’t let it go. If someone means a lot to me, I can’t switch off from them. If I’ve bothered to invest years in a friendship, then I don’t class that person as a friend, they become my family. We’re all good now, and it’s reminded me that any long term relationship will go through ups and downs. Forever is a very long time after all. 

I can go months (sometimes years if they live in other countries) without seeing my besties. It doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They’re waiting in the wings, and when those beautiful little twinkles in the sky align, we’ll see each other again.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a little bit of the c word goes a very long way. What are your thoughts?

Do you know how to help yourself when the going gets tough?

I don’t hide the fact that I’m having a hard time while I’m having it. Sharing my downs (as well as my ups) helps me get through them. I also get the odd piece of stellar advice that I might not have come across otherwise, because chances are I’m not the first or only person to be experiencing whatever it is that is causing me problems.

A very lovely lady commented on my Instagram recently that she found my openness really inspiring, because generally people are only comfortable with being so vulnerable after the hard time has passed. During the event we’re usually consumed by the trauma itself, along with the added complexity of wearing a mask so we can pretend that we’re okay. It adds up to overwhelm and burn out pretty damn quickly.

Just in case you need to hear these words today, here are some very effective ways to help yourself through life’s obstacle course…

Can we talk about the R word please? No not respite, although my fabulous husband took all three kids out today, so I did get some of that. The other r… Resilience! ♥️ People like to bandy the term around like it’s a good thing. Ooooh look at her they say, she’s so strong! So resilient! Always got a smile no matter what. I listened to a brilliant Ted talk the other day, about how putting on a brave face can actually do us more harm than good. I’m all for looking for the silver linings and being grateful but in the midst of a truly hard time it can be exceptionally difficult. ♥️ When life is relentlessly piling more shit on to your plate of steaming hot shit, the last thing you need is to be made to feel bad for not being as resilient as you once were. ♥️ The notion that anything can be solved by thinking positively and pretending we’re ok (when the opposite is true) is toxic and needs to change. If someone has honoured you with the title friend, earn it. Listen to them when they’re down. Offer your ear in an unconditional, unjudgemental way. Just be there, because it could make all the difference to them. ♥️ I’ve just spent the afternoon with one of my oldest friends. We ate delicious food, had a glass of vino and a damn good catch up. She said she didn’t know what to say to me, but the fact that she was there and she was listening says it all!

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I made the decision long ago not to wear a mask. I am unapologetically me, and I absolutely refuse to be anyone else for anyone else. It means I’m 100% authentic, 100% of the time, which in theory is a great thing. It does have its downside though, and at points can feel like I’m a lone voice swimming against the tide. On my winning days, when I’ve had at least four hours sleep and am firing on all cylinders, I’m awesome at putting minor issues into perspective and not taking the knocks too personally. Dramas and drama llamas are water off this ducks back, and there is little that can beat me down.

On my darker days, where I feel lonely in a crowded room, it takes every ounce of my strength not to end up in the depths of despair. I start stewing on past failures and disagreements, and my thoughts can spiral downwards scarily fast. During these moments, alcohol and social media are not my friends. Both have the capacity to make my mood a hundred times worse, and I’ve learnt that it’s best to avoid them as much as I can. Yoga (if possible), deep breathing (if not) and video calls with a loved one are my medicine. Writing has also helped me massively. Getting raw emotions on paper/screen is a wonderful way of channeling the feelings and turning negatives into positives.

how to help yourselfKnow who your true friends are and do not doubt them. Ever.

They say that good friends are hard to find, tough to leave and impossible to forget. I feel beyond blessed to have had so many utterly incredible humans cross my path over the years. These days, with the children to consider, I’m exceptionally fussy about the people I allow into our lives. It would be madness to be estranged from my entire family yet fill our days with toxic influences. As blood isn’t always thicker than water, I consider my good friends to be my family. It pains me when I see my people in pain – I feel it deeply on their behalf. I might not be in a position to loan money, or look after more children (it’s good to acknowledge when our own hands are already full) but I can most definitely lend my ear.

I don’t judge, and I always try as best I can to remain open minded with what I’m being told. Practically I probably can’t do much more than pop over with a nice treat or be on the end of the phone, but I take pride in always being emotionally available for the people I love. Once I consider a person to be a good friend, they have to do something pretty awful for me to change my mind about them.

When the chips are properly down, it can be so tempting to completely shut the world out, but it’s rarely the right thing to do. (We all know what happened to Elsa when she followed this path.) Life is full of bumps and no-one ‘s journey is smooth running. It’s good to remember this.

It’s also vital to allow your friends to help you if they are in a position to do so. Last year, one of my neighbours knocked and said she’d been reading my blog and was concerned about me. She asked if she could take Polly with her on her school run once a week to give me a few hours breathing space. It might not seem like much, but it meant an awful lot and I hope to be able to return the favour to her in some way one day.

Steer as clear as you possibly can from other people’s squabbles  

Social media can be a wonderful tool. On a personal level it’s great for keeping in touch with faraway friends and family. On a business level it’s wonderful for spreading the word about worthy causes, fantastic products and fab services. On the not so bright side it can be a hot bed for petty arguments and vocalising ignorant opinions that folk might have just kept to themselves before the invention of Twitter.

It can be really easy to forget that everything on the internet is traceable and there forever. I am blown away by some of the dumb ass things people say, and share, and honestly don’t think they would be so free and easy with these beliefs if they were sitting in the pub having a chat with a group of mates. It feels like our world is becoming polarized, and how can it not when we live so much of our lives in online echo chambers? If there is something truly worth speaking up against then do it, otherwise help yourself by steering clear. You’ll thank yourself for it in the years to come.

Eat well, it really does make a difference  

I have been a huge advocate for eating to enhance wellness for over a decade now. My real food journey began with a PCOS diagnosis along with the news that I was (apparently) infertile. Eighteen months after coming away from refined sugars and processed carbs, and my eldest daughter was conceived by accident, then two more pregnancies within four years. I’m not a doctor or scientist, but I do believe that eating the right food has changed my life. I would urge anyone who is struggling to take a look at their diet to see where it can be cleaned up.