Is Society Sleepwalking into Oblivion, and Do You Even Care?

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**

Can We Please Talk About the C Word?

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?

How to Help Yourself When Times are Hard

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!

A post shared by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on In the wise words of Oscar Wilde: “be yourself, everyone else is taken”

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.

Trying to be a Great Parent When You Didn’t Have Great Parenting Examples to Learn From

How can we be(come) a great parent?

It’s a well known fact that we learn from the examples we are set. That this is ingrained into us from the youngest of ages. That when all is said and done, we are essentially the products of our upbringing.

So how are we supposed to be(come) great parents when our own parents didn’t do a great job with raising us? If learnt behaviour shapes our entire lives, what about the less than desirable behaviour we learn while we’re growing up?

We need to unlearn it (and the sooner we start, the better)

Why? Because trying to conquer our own demons whilst raising a family is mind blowingly hard. So it’s best to get a head start on the things we know are going to cause us trouble. If we can bury those monsters before having kids, then fantastic. If we need a bit more help later down the line, then we have to be honest with ourselves and recognise it.

For those new around here, I’m the survivor of a seriously dysfunctional childhood. The biggest examples I was set during my formative years were the complete opposite of what it means to be a great parent.

There was very little, if any, consideration given to how a decision or consequences of certain behaviour would affect the kids. Things were done cack handedly and reactively. The adults never took stock of what was happening and thought maybe they shouldn’t continue leading the family into disaster after disaster.

It boggles my mind, really it does. My entire life revolves around trying to make decent decisions that have the best interests of the family at heart. Even so, I don’t get it all right. Far from it.

I screw up, often

Some days even doing everything “by the book” I’ll still eventually snap. Other days (yes, I’m looking at you PMT) I can’t not be snappy if I try. If I know I’ve been out of order however, I’ll always apologise to the children. It’s vital they see their grown ups admitting when they are in the wrong and saying sorry for their mistakes.

My kids are obsessed with LEGO and love all the movies. In the latest film the main character was abandoned by his father when he was a baby. Fortunately for him, his mother was a great parent. He learnt how to be a good person from her, but missed out on a whole host of other skills that he believes would have been passed down from his dad.

Lets put the fact that they’ve gone wildly down the gender stereotyping road to one side for a second. Watching this film for the six hundredth time last night I found myself getting emotional, and Polly asked why I looked like I was about to cry. So I answered her as honestly as I could.

“No-one taught me how to be a good person, I had to learn all by myself.”

I’m not saying that my family are evil paedos or murderers, because they’re not that bad, but don’t get me started on the term moral compass. Skewered doesn’t even come close! Their sense of right and wrong, and lack of taking responsibility was the main reason I decided to cut ties all those years ago.

There were so many things I had to learn without guidance 

Things that came naturally to so many of my friends just didn’t for me. This is why I’ll be eternally grateful for my early amazing influences. Two of my besties who I shared a house with when I was a teenager. Another ex-housemate come one time best friend who taught me more about kindness and tolerance than he’ll ever know. My wonderful husband who has always and continues to challenge me when I veer too far down a detrimental path.

The sad fact remains though, that no-one taught me not to be angry, defensive and indignant when I felt wronged as a child. I lived life until I was around eighteen years old in constant fight or flight mode. My cortisol levels are foobarred. My brain doesn’t instantly rationalise new situations, it goes into potential threat mode. I have to constantly ground myself. We’re talking multiple times, every single day. Just to keep myself afloat.

I’ve been agonising lately about trying to be a great parent in the face of all this

In my late twenties, fresh off the back of mental breakdown and rock bottom, I had it all sussed. I would simply be the most amazing wife, mama and friend that ever walked the planet. And it really was that simple to me. I’d already lost so much. All my family, some of my friends, almost lost my husband but thankfully not. I was reformed. I was at peace with myself for the first time ever.

Then I had three kids in four years. I haven’t had more than the odd full night of sleep for nearly a decade. Autism has entered our lives, and although it comes with many gifts, it also comes with serious additional challenges. It’s led us down the path of home educating, and most of the time it’s an incredible thing. It also means that respite is in very short supply though, and the lack of respite can trigger off stress on various levels.

I do all the right things. I eat well, do yoga, live a conscious and natural lifestyle. I don’t drive a car, because it’s one of the most eco things we can do. I buy all our clothes second hand for the eco aspect. I currently have a Himalayan salt lamp glowing next to an essential oil diffuser burning organic lavender. Not because I’m being paid to do so, because I truly believe it can help us relax and heal whatever is troubling our minds. I want to be able to look at this time and know that I was a great parent.

I try so damn hard, but what if I wake up one day and realise that my best wasn’t enough?

The Trouble with Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a tricky one for me

It reminds me of the obvious lack of mother in my own life. It’s now been so long since I saw her face, I can’t even properly remember what it looks like. It poses a mixed bag of emotions every time a so-called special day presents itself.

Mother’s Day. Birthdays. Anniversaries. The last time I saw her. The last time we communicated.

I estranged myself from my mother several years before I started having children. I coped with a full on mental breakdown, and hit rock bottom with no family support whatsoever. I have been through so much without her by my side. I’ve essentially become a different person to the one she raised. A better person. I have taught myself how to function in the world, and how to be nice. To not immediately assume the worst in everyone, and think they’re all out to get me.

 

I grew up in a world where Jimmy Saville would fix all your problems, and Gary Glitter wanted you to be part of his gang. Where primary school kids had access to porn films and 8yo girls had their innocence stolen on a daily basis. 😔 I grew up in a world where comparison wasn’t always the thief of joy, and in fact sometimes knowing that others had it so much harder was a good thing for me. 😔 I grew up in a world where the WORST happened, and I got to the point where I could no longer forgive and forget. I made the hardest decision I’ve ever made (to date) when I was 26 years old (I’m now 38). 😔 Motherhood without a mum is more heartbreaking than I could ever articulate. On any given day I’ll flit between knowing I’ve made the right decision to desperately hoping I was wrong and wanting her to beat my door down. To say “I’m here now, and everything will be ok!” The words I know without doubt my dear grandma would have said, given half the chance. 😔 So if you’re struggling with similar issues please email me and I’ll send you a copy of Become the Best You. Had I read the book I wrote when I was on the edge, maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have fallen down a deep, dark hole.

A post shared by Reneé Davis (@mummytries) on

I know her hands were tied a lot of the time. She was young and inexperienced when she brought me in the world at eighteen. She was still reeling from her own tragic childhood of loss and abuse. No-one helped her conquer her demons. She got webbed up with men who treated her terribly, and the rest is history.

There was my biological father – who had an affair with my mother while he was engaged to the woman who he calls his wife to this day. A woman who does not know I even exist (but that is a different story for another day). Then there was my step-father who was beyond messed up from his own horrific childhood. Who prided himself on never beating his woman, but failed to see the emotional torment he put her through. She was absolutely terrified of him.

The day he punched me in the face and almost broke my nose freed me from that world

It was my chance to get out, and even though I was only fifteen, I knew I had to grab it with both my bloody hands. I was literally covered in blood, looked like I had been shot.

She was in pieces. Didn’t want me to leave but knew that I had to. You see that punch in the face was the mere icing on the top of a huge, multi layered cake made exclusively of shit. The constant moving which had screwed up my education. The boys who abused me as a small child. The boy from my school who molested me at a sleepover and bragged about it to his mates (the shame of which led to an overdose). The chronically stressful life that had been put upon me by the grown ups who acted like anything but.

She knew I had to leave, but can you imagine the pain of allowing your teenage daughter to walk out the door? With no schooling behind her. With hardly any money in her pocket. Just the hope that she would be safe at your sisters house, even though her husband at the time was a predator you did not trust?

Trouble is, even after I left home I was perpetually called upon to be her saviour. When the electricity had been cut off for the umpteenth time, I would send money. When she was at her wits’ end with my half brother, I would rush back. When my half-sister was suicidal because she was bullied at school, I would be there for them all. And in the end those relationships became beyond toxic. They saw me as good old Reneé. I’d always be there for them, no matter how badly they treated me.

mother's dayI don’t hold grudges these days. I used to, but writing Become the Best You helped me let go of the last of those feelings

I don’t look back upon those days in anger, I just feel sad about them (and mostly for her). There is no doubt in my mind that the decision to not have them in my life was (and is) a good one. Now that I have challenging children of my own I have more empathy for her and those days than ever before. 

And that’s the trouble with Mother’s Day. It brings it all to the surface, like the disgusting pus filled, hormone driven spot on my chin that just won’t be popped and do one. It keeps coming back, redder, with more pus than before.

So this is for all the mums out there coping with their silent battles.

Who look at the social media version of Mother’s Day and want to cry a river, even if they manage not to.

Especially the ones who are mothering without a mama, and although they have made peace with their situation, have days when it hurts like hell. 

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