Genki

Hello world
It’s such a gloriously sunny day, officially day 12 of the UK’s heat wave. I’m like a lizard just soaking it all up deliciously, knowing that we may have months of grey ahead of us. Apparently the UK is suffering unprecedented levels of vitamin D deficiency: which manifests itself in adults in the form of lethargy, general aches and pains and a lack of vigour and vitality…and therefore may go unnoticed as simply feeling under the weather and tired. We don’t process vitamin D in the right quantities from food, you really need to get it from exposure to the sun (although you can take a supplement: check with your doctor), and so no wonder in this often grey, drisly and sunless isle we’ve been suffering over the past few years, where days of sun are irregular and fleeting. So on days like this try to make sure you get at least 20 minutes of sunlight undiluted by suncream, ideally on a large surface of skin such as your back. You can build up reserves to last you through the grey months.
My toddler isn’t fairing so well, but I love this weather, I feel revitalised by sunshine and the bright colours that suddenly ping and pop when sunlight falls upon them. I feel like finally my body is returning to feeling somewhat like as strong as it did pre-Maurice, albeit with an added comfort blanket in the form of the post-caesarean “overhang”…
Maurice came along through the sunroof, and sadly my abdominals – mighty and strong through practising Pilates, were…well, compromised, shall we say. I also then marvelled (and still do) at mums of newborns who join running clubs and jump around at mums, bums and tums classes, as my little man was a fretful little fella who screamed and squawked constantly and never slept, so I ended up pretty much acting like a kangaroo mamma and having him strapped to me at all times as it was the only way he could be soothed and calmed. This was lovely in a lot of ways: free hands to make tea etc, and a quieter less stressful time…but it also meant I had very little sense of self for the first 9 months of his life, and nearly no time to do any exercise. The inclination to exercise was also absent, seeing as I was so sleep deprived the idea of knackering myself out physically even more was a bit preposterous.
This meant I put on quite a bit of weight generally over the first year of Maurice’s life, and felt a bit sluggish and blah.
Then, still in the midst of sleep deprivation, I became pregnant again…and sadly lost the little squirt at 11 weeks – it would’ve been due this week so it feels pertinent to raise a cup of tea at this point to the floating soul – and then followed a good few months of ill health and anaemia.
My “chi”, as they say in Chinese medicine, was at an all-time low a couple of months ago. Your chi is your life force, your energy, vitality and vigour, your sense of gusto, oiling every function of your body and mind. No sunlight, low blood iron and no sleep, not to mention feeling emotionally slightly low…if there was a chi gauge mine would’ve been beeping red alert.
Gradually my chi gauge has been going up. And I’ve been thinking about how you can cultivate your chi. In Japan a common exchange when you meet someone is “genki desu ka?” “Are you feeling well?” or literally “is your chi good?”. You can replenish your chi through the food you eat, the exercise you take, how you balance your emotions and deal with difficult circumstances day to day. Also with who you spend time with: some people sap your chi, others can lift and nourish it. You know those great friends who you always feel your best personality, the most “you” with. Those people are great for your chi. Think twice about spending too much time with people who make you feel negative and depleted.
Think about the obstacles for your chi right now: if you’re spending more energy than you’re banking, have a think about how you can redress the balance.
Think about your creative impulse even if you feel you don’t have one, it’s simply dormant (everyone does – look at children), and tap into that as a way of energy replenishment: whether that’s cultivating a garden or window box, a bit of interior design by hanging new pictures or feelgood favourite photos on your wall, playing with doodles or drawing and painting, even singing with free abandon in the shower, dancing to the radio when your favourite song comes on (and ignoring dissenters like my toddler who says “no mummy no like” when I dance if he’s not keen on the song).
My chi feels like it’s on its way back to healthy levels. Now I can focus on fixing the jelly belly with more positivity…

20130718-133525.jpg

20130718-133640.jpg

20130718-133657.jpg

Landmarks

I started writing this blog post on the eve of Maurice’s 2nd birthday, but got waylaid by birthday cake and balloons so it’s now the day after his birthday. It has been a brilliant friend- and cake-filled few days, and also, as happens with these landmark events, time for reflecting on the year that has just concluded. It occurred to me that once you’re “grown up” your birthdays offer a chance mainly for gathering friends and sharing drinks and giggles, but often the years begin to whizz past without much opportunity to think about what has changed, evolved, disappeared, appeared in life compared to the year before. But for little people, each year that passes truly provides a landmark of development and literal growth.
What a year it has been…
Firstly, and it’s a true delight to be able to say this, Maurice appears to have discovered the simple joy of slumber over the past 4 months. He often sleeps all the way through the night until nearly 6am, and will ask for his cot when he’s tired, which compared to the sleepless marathon this time last year is a mighty miracle. He also loves to nap during the day for a couple of hours. I genuinely marvel and rejoice at this development…when he was tiny he just never slept at all, and cried constantly (shudder)…i do wonder how much my mental state suffered because of this over the first year of his life, and can’t help but envy those whose little ones learnt to sleep much sooner or were a bit less colicky. It is certainly a calmer life when you can rely on baby sleep for a few moments of down time in the day.
As if to mark his own 2nd birthday milestone, Maurice’s speech has suddenly leapt forward in the past week. It is impossibly sweet how he sings the Raa Raa theme tune to himself, missing out lots of words but singing with gusto “…my friends AND YOURS!”, and singing tit bits of nursery rhymes “row row gentle stream merry dream”. When Ben left for work this morning Maurice said “daddy gone cricket”… Which is I’m sure where daddy would have preferred to have gone on this sun-drenched morning… And he’s linking words to almost-proper sentences, “where daddy gone?”, or his first longish sentence a very sweet “where my cuddle gone?”. Whenever anyone leaves the room Maurice immediately says “sssh! Hide!!” and with a huge grin on his face tries to hide away before the person comes back in.
With every silver lining there must come a cloud, and this speech development has also brought forth some epic tantrums, “don’t like it, not this one, that one, don’t like this one, no take it away, mummy stop nooooooo” etc. I know this is purely his showing a new independence of thought, developing strong opinions and feelings and it’s all natural and positive…however tiresome and irksome it might be for me to be receiving worried/pitying/empathetic looks from passers by as I try to soothe or pacify a writhing and screaming toddler.
He loved his birthday visit to the zoo, especially the monkeys climbing, the snakes slithering, the giraffes…er, being tall, and the otters playing gleefully together.
We have a new green tomato in the garden and I’ve managed to convince Maurice that it’s not ripe for picking yet, so whenever he sees it he announces proudly: “tomato, can’t eat it. Red, eat it”.
He has a merry band of little buddies he sees regularly and they’re beginning to forge lovely friendships and show real delight in hanging out with each other, despite the occasional bash or push from Maurice…
His favourite food is chips. But he’ll still happily eat a broccoli floret too, and particularly loves mummy’s sweet potato chilli “nice, tasty!”. At lunch it’s a joy to hear him proclaim “yummy, mummy!”
He adores his family, his pumpa ken and mumma dede, his granny Lindsey and grandbob, and aunties Nikki, Chloe (cowie) and Rowan, uncle brendan and his cousin Sadie. And special super adoration is reserved for his older cousin senan, who he has serious hero worship for.
He loves his mini garden and quite theatrically sniffs the plants to take in their aromas, particularly for some reason the tomato plant with its bundle of tantalising green tomatoes.
It’s lovely to commemorate these landmark times for little ones, partly to offer ourselves a landmark time as well, assess how we were doing and where our life is when these milestones roll around. It’s otherwise a bit too easy to allow time to roll past without a backward glance. My gran always says as long as you’re learning you’re living, and you should never stop learning. This year has certainly been a learning curve. It’s always good to step back and have a look at the way life is evolving, viewing life as a garden to be tended and cared for, to notice areas that need pruning and areas that need special care or a bit more nurturing. Congratulate yourself for the successful blooms and learn from the plants that don’t fare so well, but move on without regret.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember to pause for thought. But next time you see a beautiful rose, whatever you’re doing, stop, go over, close your eyes and give it a big deep sniff and take in the beautiful life-enhancing scent.
Enjoy the sunshine wherever you are and until the next time…

20130716-120429.jpg

20130716-120508.jpg

20130716-120527.jpg