Time to Talk

I have been reading a huge amount of blog postings recently about anxiety and how to manage it. I draw strength from knowing that I am not alone. Social media is far from perfect, but it is really helping get messages out there that whatever you are suffering from, you are not alone. And for someone who suffers from extreme anxiety, for me, it is a real comfort and helps me normalise those parts of my life.

With this week’s push on Mental Health awareness and the ‘time to talk’ campaign, I wanted to reflect on my feelings.

It is time to talk. To make people aware. It’s amazing how just the coping strategies that someone with extreme anxiety has to go through to survive that moment are seen by others as unacceptable behaviour or creating drama. I have spent my whole life ‘laughing’ (yep, on the surface and actually dying inside) about my drama queen status. Hell, I’ve made my career out of it. It’s mostly said in jest but with that element of truth running through and ALWAYS said with a not e of negativity. Now here’s the truth. Do I want to be a drama queen and be the person that everyone judges in that way. No, I really don’t. However, it’s that or end it right now. Yes, I realise how dramatic that sounds. But the truth is the tears come to save me. I hate crying and I hate how easily my tears fall. I have had so many moments in my life when I have been in trouble or judged for just that and i HATE HATE HATE it, but it’s my body way of surviving the moment. The trouble is, once the moment has passed and I’m waiting for the next one, people have a habit of (mostly through kindness) commenting on it and then I have to do the whole, hahaha, yes I am a cry baby, yes I wear my heart on my sleeve routine with a big smile plastered on my face but have that knife twisting in my gut just a little bit deeper.

I am not alone in suffering with anxiety. My son does too, and that kills me. I look into his little face so full of fear in that moment when the anxiety takes hold and wish I could get inside his mind and pull it out. His anxiety feeds mine and vice versa and it sometimes feels like too much to bear. There are also so many others out there. And when I have shared, it’s amazing how many people say – me too. It’s time we stop sweeping this under the carpet. We have to build strength and understanding together.

I have recently been ‘attacked’ from more than one side in my inner and outer circle. Judged for who I am with no understanding and no questions. That is not ok. I am lucky that over the past few years I have been able to examine my way of thinking and feel in a place in my life where I stop judging people. Oh, I am very guilty of being THAT person. And I am so very ashamed of it. But no longer. Every time I see a certain behaviour I question what is going on behind that behaviour to cause it rather than judge it has made a huge difference to how I feel. It still sometimes makes me angry that that behaviour has happened and affected mine, or someone else’s life, but rather than judge I have wanted to help. That’s not always possible, but I feel at peace that I am able to feel a certain empathy. It’s certainly been helping over the past few weeks with what has been going in the world.

So I guess what I’m saying is, take the time to talk about that thing that feels huge right now. Take the time to think about what’s behind the behaviour that is hurting or upsetting you right now and take the time to say – it’s ok to that person who may be experiencing something that is taking them to a dark place and just needs some support and understanding to help them through it.

And if you are that person going through that moment. Breathe, know that you are good enough, that you are loved and tell yourself that you love yourself. It’s all going to be ok.

xxx

 

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A lot to be thankful for

An apology to begin with – a long period of time has passed since my last post. This has been for god reasons though. I have had an incredible few months of very many highs and I have started quite a few posts, but run out of time to finish them.

I had a long overdue catch up with a very good friend yesterday – who has seen me at my lowest over the past 18 months and who remarked to me that I truly looked relaxed and at peace. She is a very perceptive and wise woman and she is very right. Yes, there are hiccups on this journey – I am never able to truly relax whilst eldest is at school. He’s in trauma and my heart aches for him….but for the first time ever, we are in a true partnership with his school and we (and more importantly he) are being supported and not judged on this journey we are on. I had the privilege of being at a parents evening the week before term ended where I was told there are many positives about him…I have not heard this in a school setting since the October before he turned 6. He turns 10 in February….that’s a very long time. No, it’s not at full ‘normality’ yet, and it may never be – but rather than judging him and what he does in the classroom, they have put good plans in place to help him when it all becomes too much – none of which makes him seem naughty…..such a step forward.

The most wonderful thing about all of this is that for the first time in a very long time, life in our family does not have to revolve around eldest and his crisis to crisis status. We can remember that there are 3 other individuals who make up this family and each of us have needs too. My youngest is flourishing at the new school too (he – thankfully – finds this whole school thing a breeze) and moving schools has allowed us to let him take up more dance classes which he is also loving.

I have finally found head space for my creativity to flow and I am able to make time to do what I truly love and realise I ‘might’ actually be ok at it.

This summer I was able to take a course that has changed my life. I have made friends who know me as me – not mummy and I don’t feel like a fraud of a performer. This course was the Singers Cabaret Workshop – run by the wonderful Paul L Martin and Jamie Anderson – and i cannot recommend this course highly enough if the world of cabaret is something that interests you. Carefully and expertly they guided those of us on the course though a journey of self discovery and I know that I left the showcase at the end of the 8 days a happier, lighter (in all ways – amazing what working in that environment can do for the waistline) and more secure of my abilities.  I had been lucky enough to work with Paul on my one woman show earlier in the summer – which had gone very well, but I felt that I was able to reach a higher level of confidence and expertise and excitement for me on the stage.

2017 looks to be a year where I build on all of this. Yes, that path may not be easy – I’m sure there are going to be bumps on the road, but I will take them in my stride and know that each one makes another mark on the great road map of life. I have already got 2 showcases in the diary for the early part of the year (both people I’ve met and become friendly with though the wonderful world of cabaret) and I have lots of ideas spinning around the head. I am hopeful of another outing for the new and improved ‘Girl in the Red Shoes’ and at least 2 more courses to continue the discovery of me. Most of all, I have the love and support of my wonderful little family of four – and we have some amazing people in our loves how love us just the way we are. We are a team and without them I would be nothing!

I wish you all a wonderful New Year. I know some people will be so very glad to see the back of 2016 – it’s been hard for so many – and to those who have lost someone this year – celebrity or not – I hope you find peace in 2017.

I will leave you with the showreel from my showcase back in September from the Singers Cabaret Workshop – one of the highlights of my year…….and if you’re interested – you can catch me returning to The Pheasantry on the Kings Road on 21st February – tickets avail be here:

https://www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/neverland-to-tobago-the-songs-of-gavin-brock

 

Tam x

Spring is here

The last two weeks have been amazing. I am very lucky – I am a working mum who works incredibly hard during term time and get to enjoy quality family time during the school holidays. I’m even more lucky – my dear hubbie does a similar job. This means we get to spend time as a foursome. We are truly blessed. This Easter holiday has been so lovely. We started very tired and very grateful for the time off ahead. A term and a half of home schooling alongside full time self-employed working and a final push of 2 days of exams for students meant that we were all exhausted by the time Good Friday arrived. I had a wonderful evening the night before at the friendliest open mic in London – West End Wendies (held at the Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec in Kennington) – I really have a fabulous time every time I go and am so happy I have found such an inclusive and accepting place to spend time. I have made new friends and learnt to accept myself for who I am.

The Easter weekend was spent in a chilled manner with family and the 2 weeks that followed passed in a blur of fun days out – exploring the outside, trying new challenges and making lots of very happy memories. A truly happy (mostly – come on – I have 2 kids and I’m not going to lie – there were some rather challenging moments) couple of weeks and we are heading into the new term refreshed and calm. We have invested in a trampoline, which is going to provide plenty of outdoors fun this summer (a fantastic springfree trampoline which gives us peace of mind with 2 boys) and operation fresh air is fully in action. I have been spurred in my quest for plenty of outdoors time by the new Persil campaign entitled Free the Kids (Persil Free The Kids). I am more aware than some others about how little time our children spend outside and how much of an impact that has had on my eldest. I have to hold my hands up and say I am partly to blame. The amount of times I’ve rolled my eyes at the request ‘can we get the art and craft box out?” and the amount of times I have silently been relieved when they have chosen a day inside playing to a day out in the garden when it;s cold and muddy. However, I have always had the motto that ‘clothes wash, you wash, get dirty it’s fine’ and we have spent many days in our gardens, parks, days out etc. However, my mission this spring/summer season, is to ensure that my boys do spend more than 2 hours a day outside – hence the trampoline!

After the wonderful break, today was the new beginning we’ve all been waiting for. Day 1 at THE new school. I have been trying my hardest to remain calm and stress free over today. Not an easy task for someone who suffers from anxiety and is a natural ‘worrier’, but I have also learnt how much of an impact my worry has on my eldest (well both my children) so I have been practicing a lot of coherent breathing and positive thoughts. Daddy was on school drop off duty as I have an early work start on Tuesdays (yes, my boss would have let me have the time off – but it meant they didn’t have Little Miss Worry to mess up their moment). I tried hard to put them to the back of my mind and not let the knot in my stomach overtake every thought all day. We had a meeting planned at the end of the school day to make sure the staff and us were on the same page and were united (a new experience for us – and highly appreciated) and the relief when I picked up 2 happy, smiling boys, full of new friends names, adventures they’d had and what they had enjoyed etc. The meeting was full of positives and we had work my biggest had done today, proudly shown to us. They used the words – he’s lovely, he’s had a super day…all the things I’d wanted to hear. It won’t be plain sailing – there will be bumps in the road but hopefully we will all make them in our stride and find our ways of coping, calmly.

I now need to find my inner peace. The last chapter is not yet fully closed, but that is hopefully not too far away and then we can truly begin to move on fully. Know I have grown as a person over the past 2 years and that I am a stronger, more informed, better mother and person because of it all.

In the meantime, whilst I find this inner peace…I have 2 cabaret shows to complete devising and then perform. The first on 21st May at Theatre Utopia @ Matthews yard in Croydon An Evening With Tamasine Kimber and Friends and the second – my London Cabaret solo show debut – Tamasine Kimber – The Girl In The Red Shoes which will be at The Pheasantry on the Kings Road on 25th June. I am mega excited about both of these shows and would love to see you at either (or both!).

Spring is here and the tiny seeds of hope can begin to flourish into confidence and well-being!

Warrior Mama

That is what I have been called today by someone who, herself is a true warrior mama! And boy does it feel good. We won the battle. We have a school place. We can now begin to move on and begin to heal. The war is not won yet, not until I know he is settled and in a happy place in his head in a school environment. He will always wear the scars of the past 18 months – but hopefully, over time, these will reduce and fade. He is excited, well excited and scared (in the words of the genius that is Stephen Sondheim). As are we all. The unknown is a scary place, but we have to try.

Before I became a mummy I heard people saying they would fight anyone and anything for their kids, and I thought I had an understanding of it. Nothing prepared me for the reality of this in my journey though. I would never have thought myself strong enough before (and at times during it – the last few days in particular have tested that particular mind set to the max), but we are beginning to emerge from the other side and although this won’t be the last bump in the road by any means (that’s parenthood right?) and I am emerging a stronger, mentally healthier (or will be), defiantly more able when it comes to my vestibular integration, determined and (at times – still a work in progress) calmer person. I am beginning to like myself (and at times actually love myself) and that is beginning to creep into my daily life.

I am in process of creating 2 cabaret shows for later this year. The first being a project I have been trying to create for the past few years – a little show where I can showcase some of my advanced students and help them with learning how to mount a show. I can’t wait – my students are all really excited and it’s going to be fab! My next show is so exciting for me. I am creating my own solo cabaret show which will be presented at the amazing The Pheasantry (Pizza Express Live) venue on the Kings Road in Chelsea. This has com about through a performance I put in at Cabaret Confidential at the same venue back in the autumn. I am so very proud of this. I left the world of professional performing when I fell pregnant with The Boy. 2 c-sections and the fear of being seen as the ‘mummy’ has meant I have spent too many years hiding behind being a teacher and a mummy and forgetting who I really am and not getting myself out there. Jumping back onto the wagon has been another journey itself and I am truly loving every moment of it. I have made some wonderful friends and I am enjoying playing around with new (and old) songs and creating something where I can truly stand in the spotlight for once (yes, I am a diva and love the spotlight – can’t make a secret of it!).

In my mind, a warrior mamma is one who fights for those she loves who are being threatened. I also think she fights for herself and her sanity. After a truly hard week i am still here and still fighting. I am proud to call myself a warrior mamma and I’m also proud to know and have the support of a number of warrior mammas, who I am lucky enough to call my friends and family. However, I fundamentally believe every mamma is a warrior, even if there are dark days. Those who have been in those dark places, I ask you to do one thing – which has really got me through many dark places in recent months. Once you are back in the light, go back and light candles for others. Because of the candles that have been lit, I am here, strong and proud and looking forward to lighting my candles!

Obstacles

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and I was so desperately hoping to have begun to see real light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly, I feel like I am no further along the journey to moving onwards and beginning again than I was at the beginning of the year and the strain is beginning to tell. I am beginning to crack again and it’s scary and (mostly) lonely place to be.

This year started with so much promise. New ears establishing themselves, eyes making amazing progress and calm restored at home (well as much calm as a household with 2 young boys can be). I was making plans to try some new adventures and I was finally beginning to love the new me and feeling like the journey was worth all the pain. We introduced Family Sundays and we finding joy in spending time together as a family, making discoveries about the world and ourselves and making important, fun memories.

Then came the realisation – the crushing blows, that it seems, despite all our efforts, the boy is not wanted – anywhere. We’re still homeschooling – this has been an utter delight in many ways – to see a child who was so closed in, so lacking in belief in his abilities and thinking school and work was his mortal enemy actually blossoming before my eyes and able to access work that is well within is capability and now he knows it is. To watch the pride he takes when he he gets it right and to see the desire to do it. However, the downside and reality for us is we can’t do it much longer. We both work, long hours mostly. Luckily we have managed, with a lot of help from my amazing mother in law – but it’s a strain. We’re both exhausted. Neither of us have had a ‘day off’ in months, the house is a mess, we both take ‘breaks’ (but not together – my amazing husband holds the fought whilst I sing my cares away) but it’s hard…hard because we can’t move on. Hard because we feel like so few people see J for who is really is.

Lately I’ve really been struggling see other parents with their children. I want to enjoy being a mum and be so super proud of my kids, but overtime I get close to that, something gets in the way. Another obstacle appears and it’s so draining. I want to shout from the rooftops how proud I am of my boys. The eldest has overcome such negativity and difficulties in his schooling and still manages to be pretty awesome much of the time (pretty annoying and infuriating the rest of it – but that’s a 9 year old right?). My youngest is amazing. He’s seen many, many tears, arguments, rages etc that have accompanied this journey we’ve been on and still he instinctively knows when to come and give a big hug and snuggle. He’s a pretty awesome little singer and dancer and turns out he’s pretty smart too, just like his big brother. Except I find it really hard to say any of these things out loud, mostly because I’m worried I’ll be struck down by the luck gods and mostly because it’s been beaten out of my by the system. I work with kids day in and day out. Pretty awesome kids. Some have their challenges in life and some seem to sail through unscathed (though who really knows what’s going on). However, they all seem to have great support networks and their parents do too. Not just from their families, but from their school communities too. They have more awesome people around them who help them all through life ups and downs and give them support when they need it. How come then, I am left wondering, am I in this situation where I seem to give out a lot of that support (so I’ve been told recently by some very lovely parents) but when I’m needing it as a mum – it’s not there…well not in the school environment anyway. Oh, we have had had some amazing support – especially from my rock that is Charlotte and Fit 2 Learn but given what a simple approach the whole cognitive development really is once you read about it (or watch Charlotte’s Ted Talk) it really shouldn’t be this hard.

Today we found ourselves in yet another meeting with another school, trying to justify why they should take our son. As if he’s some massive problem child and we are deluding ourselves and not admitting to ourselves that our child is a lost cause. Yes, that is exactly how I feel right now. My son is being given up on at every turn, by people who meet hime for maybe 5 or 10 minutes. This teacher at todays meeting as exchanged a greeting with my boy. One 2 minute exchange in which he shook hands and said hello. From that exchange (in January I might add) this teacher had decided there was something amiss and not normal (yes those words again). My justification – this is a child who has essentially been totally let down by his journey in school so far – no wonder he’s terrified. And it’s all very well them being scared of getting it wrong – how do they think we feel? But most of all – how do they think my son – my 9 year old child feels? It’s wrong that the system is so weighted in favour of some and yet others disappear through the cracks in the system. And to get this straight – I am in no way blaming those who are on the front line of the system…..but what are we going to do with 9 years of school education left for child who is bright and able but who is being turned away from everywhere?  If I could find a way to be financially secure and continue to homeschool (both of them) then this I feel would be the best way forward – I just don’t know how and I need an answer quickly!

I am just not prepared to give up the fight for my boy, even with all these obstacles appearing at every turn….I just hope today’s was the last one for a while…I’m tired.

Happy Days

The things I have learnt about myself and about how strong my little family is over the past 18 months have been the upside of all the turmoil. The silver lining I suppose. Not that I would have chosen to go through all of this to reaffirm all of this. However, we are coming through the other side, stronger, even more united and, for Mr and me, knowing that we made the right choice in each other coming up for 18 years ago!

We have been focusing on our time together as a family this early part of 2016. Not purposely shutting anyone out, but making sure we do what we need to do to continue to be a happy, family unit. This has meant each Sunday in January having a day out together (part from one, when little man had a party – that meant the 2 big boys had a ‘lads’ day – they were happy too!). We are lucky enough to pretty much have London on our doorstep and so have made use of this and had some happy day outings to the Science Museum, National History Museum and Madame Tussauds. Each of these days has given us many laughs, lots of discovering and learning (great when we’re still one schooling one….and one of my favourite parts about home schooling – I don’t feel guilt when we have quiet down times during the week whilst we work), fantastic family time and most importantly happy memories! These have felt in short supply over the past 18 months – each happy memory tainted by the very quick popping of that bubble. It’s been so fantastic to have these special times. Taking the time that we have over the past few months, although not conventional, never that easy and certainly full of challenges (some fun, some really not!) has really given us all space to grow and reconnect.

The boy turned 9 over this past weekend and we are very aware of how quickly his childhood is slipping by. We only have to do the same amount of time again and he’ll be 18 – these past 9 years have passed in the blink of an eye – it doesn’t seem that long since I held that precious little bundle in my arms – getting to know him and holding all my hopes and dreams in a big warm mass of blanket! No, those dreams haven’t exactly played out as I imagined and wished, but we are here – still – together and creating happy days. I have a phone full of images of my happy boys. Not forced, ‘smile for the camera and make it look like we’re having fun when we’d actually much rather be at home’ photos, but actual moments which have been capturing a true emotion….these are so precious and will keep me going through the (hopefully) last few days and weeks of this particular journey.

Here’s to more of our ‘Family Sundays’, here’s to more silly photos, here’s to lots of laughter and here’s to more happy days – because even if every day isn’t (and it can’t be – stuff happens) – that is what life needs to be – happy!

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Changes

Change is scary, painful but exciting (sometimes). Not knowing when and how those changes are going to happen is the scary bit. This is the limbo we are currently in. Big boy really needs to get back into school and soon. Home Schooling has been great thus far – today we have been (after some core Maths and English this am) shopping for ingredients and cooking dinner – the luxury of knowing more Maths, English and Science is being done and enjoyed. It’s given the dude the chance to discover himself and know that he is awesome, clever, able and not the naughty boy he has been so walloped with in school pretty much all the time! However, he’s craving companionship from people his own age and we can’t give him all he really needs whilst trying to continue working – we can’t afford for one of us to stay home full time – and we have to consider little man as well and his needs.

Change is painful because whilst you’re gong through it – things can come up and hurt you – dreadfully. We’ve been so hurt by people saying they don’t want our son. As if his needs are somehow his fault and he is not able to be accepted because of them. Yes, he has had challenges, particularly in the school environment – however – no Special Needs are the fault of the person with them and, particularly in boys case, they are not insurmountable with a little effort (enlarged text in this case!) and thought, care and understanding. Given that his problems have been induced by the damaging behaviour he has been shown in the classroom by then very people who should have been nurturing him, by their lack of understanding and ability to see the beyond the right here right now – something we don’t blame them for because how can you take responsibility for something that you are almost certainly not even aware you are doing? We do feel so let down by the whole system. There seem to be so very many stories of this happening to children. Our future generations, the ones that we will owe so much to in years to come, but to whom we appear to be damaging so greatly. To have to fight for the chance for people to listen to us and to take on board what we have to say is draining and exhausting and painful. It all adds to the feeling of failure as a parent. A long list of things that have not gone ‘right’ on my particular journey and feeling so very helpless and not listened to. That is painful…and scary.

I have just spent the most amazing, fascinating and insightful 3 days being trained as a Level 1 Tomatis® practitioner. It was a wonderful experience to be a room full of people who ‘get it’. All who can see beyond the special needs and see the child (or adult) beneath. Who have all been lucky enough to have the insight to have found the method and want to use it within their professional lives. The most wonderful part for me was to be in a room, learning and taking in lots of quite complex information, and finding it to be relatively easy and that the information was easily retained. A new experience for me – the ‘classroom’ has always been a place where I have felt I have failed before and  for the first time I feel in control of my learning ability. To gain insight into a subject and therapy that I have such a personal connection to and to now be in the position to use this training to help others like my boy and to give them the hope and support that I have been so lucky to have been shown over the past 7 months is an absolute privilege and I am excited to see where this new adventure takes me. I am hopeful that it will mean some changes ahead and that is the exciting part.

Change is going to be a big part of life over the next few months, for all of us. I just hope, once we are past the scary and painful bit – it proves to be as exciting as it is beginning to feel. I hope that we look back on these dark times we are emerging from as a time when we learnt, as a family, we can conquer things that stand in our way and we will be stronger for it.  Here’s hoping that bit comes sooner rather than later! I’m ready for the change now!

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