How To Improve Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Love. Yourself. Lean. Journal

Monday 31st October 2016

Missuswolf Typewriter Compliments Disclosure

Improving physical and mental well being is a re-occurring theme on here. I had the opportunity to receive the Love Yourself Lean Journal and I thought it fitted in nicely with my blog.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Box

Everyone loves a delivery right? Especially a super speedy one that arrives beautifully wrapped.

As a child on the cusp of my teen years, I kept a diary. And you could say that this blog is a form of online diary.

But this Journal is a diary

with a difference.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Package

Pretty Packaging!

It focuses on Heartfelt Happiness and Harmonious Health.

I’ve never been so conscious of my physical and mental well-being as I have over the past fourteen months.

Since the moment I found out I was pregnant, I’ve had to mentally adapt.

Mentally adapt to:

  • the fact my body was going to change and I was more aware than ever what I was eating and drinking
  • the fact that there would be the painful labour process at the end of the pregnancy
  • the fact I would actually need to have a section instead as the baby was breach
  • that I would be responsible for this little person in our lives
  • going from a busy high-profile job to a slower pace of life, spending more time at home with a baby
  • my post-baby body
  • the constant of it all while I’m still on maternity leave. No matter how busy I make myself sometimes there feels like there is no break or no way out. And it feels worse the longer I’ve been off

The whole time – from becoming pregnant, to having the baby and then caring for this small human – it’s a lot to mentally process.

I’ve met people while I’ve been on this journey and it’s brought to light mental health awareness – particular Postnatal Depression.

I know some of my readers have experienced it, or are experiencing tough times in their lives right now.

Sometimes we need

to take a step back.

To shift our focus.

Before you can take care of someone else you need to care of yourself first.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Book

When I heard about the Love Yourself Lean Journal, it resonated so well with where I’m at in my life. It’s come along at the right time.

I know I’m fortunate to have this time off with my baby and I should make the most of it (as I don’t intend on doing it again. I’ve made my contribution to the human race). But my god it’s hard! It becomes mundane. Especially when you don’t feel great when you’ve caught the usual Autumn lurgies.

So this Journal is a great way to pull me into focus.

There’s a section on How To Use The Book, which covers areas like breathing, trust, feelings and reflection to name a few.

This is followed by a Getting Started page that prompts you to take pictures every four weeks for a year. This includes a no make-up selfie – to document the effects that drinking water has on your skin and eyes.

It reigns in to focus on and capture the following moments over a year:

Mental Health #Keenbean

Spiritual Health #Serenebean

Physical Health #Leanbean

Emotional Goals #Dreambean

Eureka Moments #Eurekamoment

You can focus on one of these a day and capture what you are grateful for, as well as a Self Love activity. Although it’s encouraged to post through Instagram as well, you can do it on a private or public facing account. It’s however you feel comfortable.

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Journal Page of a diary example

In the Journal, there’s space to record how many glasses of water you drink, your food diary and how many hours sleep you have (I know – sore subject among the parent sorority).

It takes five minutes out of your day to fill it in. And it does make you more aware of what you’re eating and drinking.

I used to drink so much water when I was at work and now I find I don’t drink half as much. It’s affected my skin and even my lips. The lethargic feeling I put down to being a parent isn’t helped by the lack of water and the upped caffeine intake.

And sometimes I think it’s my own doing. I’ve got into the caffeine habit since Ella was born. While at first it was very much-needed, as the months have gone on (hate talking about this for fear of jinxing it) it’s an area that’s not too bad. So like I say – it’s just become habit.

Plus the coffee and cake get together’s don’t help. (Well, they do at the time. They save our sanity. But on reflection, doing this and not drinking a lot of water I tend to get headaches.)

As many of you know I’m a bit OCD and I can’t start this diary on a random date. So I’ve been doing practice runs over the weekend and I’ll officially start the Journal on 1st November.

However, I’ve drank my two litres of water a day and, despite being full of cold, my skin actually looks fresher and plumper. I know. Weird! But if this is the benefits that I completely took for granted as part of my lovely old working life then hell yeah bring them back!

I did get into a good exercise routine over the summer which I’m going to bring back. This was just a home workout in my make-shift gym (the living room once all the toy crap is shoved away for the night). Last night I forced myself to do my forty-five minute routine.

Missuswolf Gym ball and weights

My Makeshift Gym

And do you know what? I instantly felt better working out. My nose wasn’t as blocked while I was doing it and my mood lifted with all those lovely happy exercise endorphin’s.

On the spiritual side of things, suggestions are things like going for a walk, meditating or visiting a new destination to name a few. I’ve been using the Headspace App and doing some meditating that I’ve learnt at Postnatal Yoga.

For the emotional goals, simple things like a cup of tea in peace (I should be so lucky ha!) or rushing to help a friend in need.

The Journal also has a four-week review page. It encourages you to look back over the last twenty-eight days and count how many days you focused on each health area. This will show you areas that you need to focus on for the next four weeks. As someone who also loves stats and analysing figures, again – this is right up my street!

Missuswolf Love Yourself Lean Week Four Review

A lot of time, effort and love has gone into making this Journal.

As a super organised person who thrives on routine and structure, I love having this to focus on.

I’m interested to see where this journey will take me. What kind of person I’ll be this time next year and how my mental and physical well-being changes. I’d like to think that I feel a lot more secure and get more satisfaction out of life (by this I mean I have a balance).

So the year is going to be all about getting that balance right. I’ll experience going back to full-time work and juggling this with childcare. It’ll be interesting to see how my mental and emotional goals change.

If you want to improve your overall physical and mental well-being, this Journal is ideal.

Plus a visit off Santa Claus is not too far away so this is a fab pressie.

It could be your resolution – New Year, New You.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Halloween Baby Rave

Friday 28th October 2016

Yesterday saw the Little Lady and I attending our first Halloween Party.

And it wasn’t just any old party.

It was a Halloween. Baby. Rave.

Missuswolf Halloween baby rave Albion Centre Blyth dark room uv lights

I’m not the most creative of people. So when it came to Ella’s Halloween costume, it was a good old trip to Asda (Actually it was more like a lazy-online-order-in-my-pjs-while-necking-wine).

No doubt there would be other’s in the same outfit (turns out I didn’t see any).

It was suitable Halloween Baby Rave attire.

A bright orange pumpkin vest with a fluorescent green tutu and stripey white and green tights.

I’m actually jealous.

I want an adult sized one.

Instead I took the opportunity to wear the darkest and vampiest shades of my Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow coupled with my new Crimson lippie from Boots Natural Collection (recommendation by a very good friend). Hell I even did a bit of backcombing of my hair to save me from brushing it properly.

Missuswolf Halloween baby Rave woman holding baby in pumpkin outift looking at each other

Halloween Baby Rave Ready

With it being the closest I’ll get to a rave in these toned down years of my life I’m bliddy making the most of it!

So off we trot to the Albion Centre in Blyth. The Rave started at 12.30 (and was on until 2pm) so this gave me a lovely long morning to potter about.

It turns out the more time I have, the worse a mammy I am. I packed her milk, just not the actual bottle.

Or any kind of plug device (dummy).

More fool me as we stood in the queue and she just whinged the entire time. So much so that we had to borrow a dummy from my really good mammy friend (high-five to the mammy tribe!)

Once we signed in, we parked up our buggies in the buggy park-come-chill- out-room. Cue mammy friends standing round catching up seeing how each other is and offering moral support to those who are having a tough day.

That’s when the music started.

Ah the distant memories of being pulled towards a nightclub for the pulsating music. Now I’m being pulled towards a soft-play in the dark.

Shoes were not permitted in the Rave Room so we all played pass the babas as we took it in turns to take off our footwear.

Once inside, the room had been darkened but there were plenty of UV lights to still be able to see where we were going.

Missuswolf Halloween baby rave darkened room with UB lights and soft play

We made our way through the room, stopping to chat to people we knew before taking our place with our mammy tribe (cake club) next to the ball pool.

Halloween Baby Rave baby in a ball pool holding a red ball

Although the room was really warm to start with, it did cool off a little as the party went on.

The lovely Rachael Logue who organised the event, did a speech about Tots and Tums and her experience with Postnatal Depression. This was then followed by glo-sticks and dancing at the front of the room.

Missuswolf Halloween baby Rave people in a dark room with uv lights

There was a set-up in the middle of the room with soft mats and soft play toys. Cushions were scattered for little babies to lie on or for mammies to perch their tired backsides.

Ella played in and around the ball pool with her little playmates until I had to do the mammy jig to calm down her whinging. Of course I still wanted to chat so I was up and down with her while I nattered on.

Halloween baby Rave two babies in pumpkin outfits sitting together

Floozy Ella flirting already

The sensory aspect of the rave was hugely successful. It wore a lot of the babas out – including Ella. She NEVER falls asleep on me but she was passed out on me towards the end.

That’s how I measure a successful baby event!

Enough to wear her out that she falls asleep on me.

Back home I troop to feed and change her. I think someone must be teething as an incessant whinge ensues the whole afternoon – enough to drive me to avoid bedtime.

Instead I escaped to ‘tidy the kitchen’ where I promptly popped open a bottle and hid drinking fizz.

And had my own mammy rave.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

Pregnancy: Fetal Movements Matter

Wednesday 26th October 2016

The charity Tommy’s has this month launched it’s Movements Matter campaign.

The campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of monitoring baby’s movements during pregnancy.

Getting to know your baby

and your body

Each baby has their own individual pattern and this is what you need to monitor.

I say this because when I was pregnant with Ella, she moved mostly at night time.

I’d be sliding into bed about 9pm and just getting settled, when the movements came.

And boy did they come.

But I became accustomed to it. She’d kick in the morning when I started eating my breakfast.  I’d then get a few kicks throughout the day. However, the bulk of her movement was always at night. Typical party animal. Like her parents.

This was my pattern.

I knew it inside out; my body was in tune with her movements.

This is what you need to look out for.

Your baby’s pattern.

And take note of when the movements slow down.

Reduced baby movements can be the first sign that a baby is in distress. Recent research has shown that around half of women who had a stillbirth said that they had noticed that their baby’s movements had slowed down beforehand

And ALWAYS go with your instinct.

Missuswolf Tommy's Movements Matter Campaign pregnant woman holding belly

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a mammy,

it’s to trust those instincts.

They are with you from the moment you are pregnant and they are there for a reason.

Our recent survey showed that 52% of women would be worried about looking for help when they notice reduced fetal movements due to a fear of ‘wasting midwife’s  time’.

What’s that old saying? ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’.

It’s always better to be over-cautious.

It is heartbreaking to think that babies’ lives may be lost because women are not aware of the importance of monitoring fetal movements. Or because women are afraid of ‘wasting midwives’ time’. Raising awareness and empowering women to seek help promptly could save lives.

That’s what the midwives are there for.

Use them.

Contact them.

There is always someone at the end of the phone. Please, use it and put your mind at rest if you notice any changes or you just feel that something is not quite right.

Stillbirth rates are shockingly high in the UK – in 2015 we ranked 24th out of 49 high-income countries. For every 220 babies born in the UK, one is stillborn.

So please, spread the word. A similar campaign was launched in Norway and bought stillbirth rates down by a third.

If you’re pregnant, become in tune with your body and your baby.

Get to know those movements.

And the moment something doesn’t feel right, pick up that phone.

Kick Me Baby One More Time – as Movements really do Matter.

Love Missuswolf xxx

The Juice Festival: Our Trip To Lulladub at The Cluny 2

Disclosure

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Monday 24th October 2016

Yesterday, my Little Lady and I were invited along to Lulladub at The Cluny 2 as part of the Juice Festival.

The Juice Festival is a festival for families and under-25s

running from 21st to 29th October in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Lulladub is a performance of traditional lullabies from around the world remixed. Taking influence from dance and electronic music, Lulladub combines voice, percussion and music technology to generate a musical and visual experience perfect for dancing, music-loving little ones and their grown ups.

The performance we were attending was at 1pm. Due to popular demand, an additional slot had also been added at 2.30pm.

Missuswolf The Cluny 2 entrance Juice Festival Lulladub

Prologue

I’ll get to the performance in a second but I wanted to set the scene for the day:

In my true form I thought I had plenty of time to get there. I pottered around in the morning, catching up on the never ending house work I’d let slide on Saturday (Yup I managed to escape being a mother for the day and had a day in York with girls the woohoo!)

So my parent battery was fully recharged and I was raring to go to Lulladub. I had the address of The Cluny 2 ready on Google Maps and I was giving myself an hour for a 28 minute car journey.

Well, as best laid plans happen these days, they always go to pot. There was the usual feeding/changing rigmarole, then forgetting to print tickets so running to do this at the last minute. Upon packing the car with the pram, the changing bag and then the child to only realise the attachment point for the carseat is no longer there – I was running twenty minutes behind my schedule.

Several attempts later and I couldn’t get the attachment point back in the car. Sweating and swearing, I strapped Ella’s car seat in using the seat belt. Cue that awful whinge that drives me nuts as I did this. Dummy shoved back in – I jumped in the driver’s seat. Hurrah – we’re finally on the road.

I always get lost no matter how good a Sat Nav is. I obviously took a wrong turning somewhere at some point and wound up in a dead end. Never mind I eventually managed to get in the vicinity of The Cluny 2 on time. I struggled for a space and ended up in a side street. Not to worry it wasn’t too far.

Trouble is, it was an incline walk down to The Cluny 2. I clung on to the buggy for dear life, terrified my boots would slip on the wet pavement and leaves. This is not a criticism at all about the venue or weather; I should have planned a bit better and got there earlier to park closer. And wore shoes with grips.

Never mind, we made it! Albeit a couple of minutes past the starting time but in parentland, this is the norm. There were other families still arriving as I rocked up.

Lulladub

The above rambling was necessary. My tardiness was not tutted at by the lovely staff who were more than helpful on arrival.

The event staff greeted us with smiles.  I scrambled for my now screwed up ticket in the side pocket of my bag. The staff on the door had a guest list to hand and, upon seeing my panic stricken face, were super sweet and said not to worry. They asked for my surname, which I blurted out and, as he began checking his list, I found the ticket.

Waving it around with elation like a Golden Ticket, he nodded and ticked me off the list.

Lulladub is specifically

for babies 0-2 years

Another member of event staff advised there was a buggy park to the room on the left, where I promptly dumped my travel system, grabbed Ella and the changing bag and scrambled out the room. The same member of staff then advised that the show was down a couple of flights of stairs and to take care while going down. He also told me where the toilets were and the ultimate essential – where the Baby Change Facility was.

The housekeeping of the event staff was superb; for a flustered parent trying to make all things collide in the universe at the right place and the right time (without having a meltdown) – these people nailed it.

I took my care down the stairs and entered the studio.

There were a collection of soft padded blue mats in the centre in front of the stage and, at the opposite side of the room, was the tiered seating area. Despite being a little late, I hadn’t missed much. The band were chatting to the audience and were just starting their background to Lulladub.

Missuswolf The Festival performers on stage at Lulladub at The Cluny 2

What’s great about events like this is that it’s done by parents themselves, who’ve been through (or are still going through) the crazy sleepless nights, the weaning, potty training you name it. They can bring experience to their performances. That reassuring, understanding we’re-all-in-this-together you need as a harassed carer of a little human.

The opening speech encouraged parents to come and go as they needed to, to make use of the space and get up and dance with their little ones and to generally have fun with it. This really put me at ease after the anxiety of getting there (my fault not there’s). It meant I could well and truly relax into it.

The Lulladub band consisted of four people, three men and a woman.

As a music-lover, the performance was an all rounder. There was the mixture of percussion instruments with musical technology.

It was totally different to what I expected.

I think I was envisaging nursery rhymes with a twist. This was not that at all.

But that’s what made it good. As it says above, it’s about traditional lullabies from around the world.

Missuswolf Musicians on stage playing percussion instruments at The Cluny 2 Juice Festival Lulladubs

Despite not recognising any songs, the combination of the instruments and vocals produced catchy lullabies that I could rock Ella too. Whether it was swaying her in my lap, bouncing her up and down on my knee or swinging side to side with her hooked round my hip.


In true Ella style, she was hungry half way through (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree does it?) No issue was made of this either – the band had encouraged us to do what we needed to do and all around me babies were being fed.

One of the songs was a nod to the sleepless nights.

The female vocalist used her experience of when she woke up at 3am for the umpteenth time one particular night. She recalled the annoyance and frustration that she felt. However, the moment she held her baby, all that anger disappeared.

It’s replaced with that insane rush of love.

Completely and utterly relatable.

The song that followed was about sleep and dreams. She gestured to the mobile hanging from the ceiling that signified this.

Missuswolf juice festival Lulladub mobile patterns hanging from ceiling

The songs all had a little back story to them too, which was interesting. And they were themed from around the world, such as Brazil as well as a song about our very own River Tyne.

I got up on my feet and swished Ella about for the last song. She had her nosey parker face on the whole time, absorbing everything; the music, the lights, the decorations and of course – the audience. She loves a good people watch.

Missuswolf The Juice Festival at The Cluny 2 Lulladub performers on stage

The performance lasted an hour but that seemed to fly by. An hour is a decent time for events like this when you have babies as no matter how entertaining, they do start to get restless.

Overall it was a good experience. I loved bringing Ella to somewhere like The Cluny 2 where I’ve been in the past to gigs. It felt good to share that side with her – but on the baby spectrum. I’m introducing her to concepts and interests that I like. I hope that it will stimulate and encourage her to have the same appreciation that I have for music.

My only feedback would be for a bit more visual as part of the performance, more colourful imagery on the Projector at the back. Although this may deviate from what the performance is actually about, this is just personal to what I experience with Ella. As, aside from liking music, she’s a very visual baby.

Before I left, I got chatting to one of the women sitting next to me. She was saying it was the first time that she’d come out to anything like this with her baby on her own – and she loved it. I think the welcoming nature of the staff and the relaxed environment of the performance really helped her.

It’s why events like these are important for parents as well as babies.

The idea of the Juice Festival is a celebration of creativity and culture – opening up our children’s minds.

And in doing so we open up our own.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Pinteresting My Way To Christmas

Missuswolf Christmas Table Decorations - cinnamon sticks, wreath,

Friday 21st October 2016

What better way to get organised for Christmas

than by using Pinterest?

For those of you who know me, I’m a complete and utter planner who loves lists and a good old spreadsheet.

I have a Christmas Spreadsheet (don’t laugh) which lists all people I need to buy for. It then has what I’m buying them, from where, how much, when I’ve ordered it and when it’s been delivered.

There’s also a box to complete to say I’ve wrapped it.

Yup.

Each year, the same template is used and the content is deleted. I also have a spreadsheet for my Christmas savings. I try to save £20 a month to contribute to Christmas – so come December there’s a handy £240. I copied this idea from a very good friend. (Although this year the saving hasn’t been quite as good with me being off on maternity. Ooops).

What does all this have to do

with Pinterest?

Well, my friends, I’ll tell you.

This year, I’ve created a few Pinterest Boards to do with Christmas.

The first one being Christmas Presents To Buy.

How does it work?

I go on the internet to browse for a particular present. I find it and I Pin this to my Christmas Presents To Buy Board. I make a note in the description area of who it’s for.

If the website doesn’t have the Pinterest sharing facility, I usually save the image and Pin it. I then copy the website link to my saved Pin (if there’s an easier way than this please let me know!)

Missuswolf Pinterest to Christmas - example of Christmas Pinterest Board

I’m not that organised – only got two presents on so far! But you get the idea.

That way, I’ve got the image of what I want to buy and the link to the website.

Missuswolf Pinterest example of Christmas Present to buy on Pin Board - Elsa DollTada!

This is so that when it comes to ordering, all the presents are listed in one area. With the link at my fingertips.

No need for my spreadsheet (sob!) I’m sure I’ll still use it. Even if it’s for the satisfaction of ticking things off.

So while I’m in the ideas gathering stage, I can pool everything in one place.

It means I can spread the present buying out.

I usually do it all online anyway. I’m a bit of a Shopping Scrooge and can’t handle the Christmas Crowds. Much rather sit at home. I don’t think it’s appropriate to venture into shops in my PJ’s while drinking Baileys or Mulled Wine anyway.

And if you don’t want everyone seeing what you’re buying (in-case you’re followed by who you’re buying for) you can mark the board secret.

Hurrah!

I’m going to apply the same principle while shopping for a Christmas Party Outfit.

And for any presents that I want. Although I may make this board public in-case anyone wants to buy me one ;-).

I used Pinterest a couple of years ago to source ideas to make my Christmas table decorations.

 

Missuswolf Christmas Table decorations

Missuswolf Pinterest Christmas Table Napkin decorations

Missuswolf Christmas Table Decoration set up for Christmas

The lovely Samantha Rickelton over at North East Family Fun has set up a board called North East Parents for any days out/activities and family ideas. I’m going to keep my eye on this one for any Christmas themed posts coming up too! You can follow this here.

Happy Pinning!

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

Friends of Jesmond Library: Creative Writing Competition

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Wednesday 19th October 2016

Today’s Guest Post about the Jesmond Library Creative Writing Competition is from the lovely Victoria Watson of ElementaryVWatson:

Missuswolf - Poetry

In 2013, Newcastle City Council announced it would be closing several libraries in a bid to reduce costs.

One of the libraries to face closure

was Jesmond Library.

However, a group of residents decided to open the library on a volunteer basis.

Friends of Jesmond Library is now a limited company and registered charity. The library runs solely thanks to the efforts of the volunteers and the generous donations received from the public.

Missuswolf - Creative Writing Friends of Jesmond Library

As a lover of words and books, I wanted to do my bit to help Jesmond Library remain open so I volunteered my time and knowledge to help set up and run their Creative Writing competition. In July 2015, I launched the first competition along with members of my writing groups who took the time to perform their original works at the launch and Dan Smith.

Missuswolf Friends of Jesmond Library 2015 launch of Creative Writing comp - line-up of people

2015 Launch of Friends of Jesmond Library Creative Writing Competition

The entries were received were varied and plentiful and they certainly gave Dan and I food for thought. Dan very kindly gave up time to not only co-judge the competition but to also present awards to the lucky winners. Prizes were donated by local businesses including Caffe Z, FPP, Seven Stories and Mo Hair. The awards evening was fantastic as we got to meet the brains behind the imaginative stories we’d read. The younger writers, aged under ten, were particularly impressive.

This year, the theme of the competition is ‘Jesmond’

so your entry could be a short story in any genre.

This year also sees the inclusion of poetry so if you’d like to submit a poem to the competition, please do!

It’s £3 to enter and proceeds go to the library which receives no council funding and relies solely on volunteers. Jennifer C. Wilson, author of ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’ is co-judging the competition with me.

There are categories for children and adults with fantastic prizes including book vouchers. You don’t have to be a resident of Jesmond to enter, last year saw submissions from around the world and we’re keen for the same to happen this year.

The closing date is midday on 1st of November so there is plenty of time to submit something. Good luck!

Download your entry form here.

Thanks Vic!

And best of luck to those of you who are entering.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Music Monday: Mark Deeks – Lightburst

Monday 17th October 2016

Today’s Music Monday focuses on a piano player from Blyth, Mark Deeks, and his forthcoming album Lightburst.

Every Monday evening I take part in #NorthEastHour on Twitter between 8pm and 9pm.

It’s a great opportunity to network in the North East of England.

One Monday evening in September, amongst the frenzied typing through #NorthEastHour, I came across Mark Deeks.

I noted that he was a pianist and I love the piano. It’s the music I love to listen to when I write and it’s more poignant than ever after listening to it at pregnancy yoga.

Further more; he’s a fellow Blythtonian.

He’s about to release his new piano album Lightburst.

And I’m only too happy to support him …

Missuswolf Mark Deeks lightburst Piano album launch

Overview

 After many years of performing at all kinds of concert halls, weddings, restaurants, bars, pubs, cathedrals, landmarks, sporting venues, community events, fairs, open days, even auction houses, fashion shows, boats, in a curry house and once even in a bridal gown shop!… With every permutation of bands, choirs and orchestras…. FINALLY by popular request, Mark Deeks will be appearing up close and personal for this very special solo piano show to celebrate the launch of his new instrumental piano album Lightburst due for release end of October 2016!

Album promo clips:

#1:

#2:

Containing solo piano versions of music from throughout his career, the planned 3 concerts will be a chance to hear material from Lightburst in an intimate event at stunning venues

 

·         Bowes Museum – Sunday October 30, 1pm and 2.15pm FREE

·         St John the Evangelist, Leeds – November 4, 7.30pm

·         Jesmond United Reform Church – November 26, 7.30pm

 

Further information

Missuswolf Mark Deeks Profile picture sitting outside

Mark Deeks based in Blyth, has played piano for more than 30 years, building up a wealth of experience as a performer, arranger, musical director, and lecturer, winning the North of England Wedding Award in Music and Entertainment in 2013.

His client list has included celebrities such as Faye Tozer, David Miliband, Alfie Joey, Anna Foster, Steve Harper, Jack Colback, and Lenny Henry.

Missuswolf Mark Deeks and Faye Tozer

Mark is the MD of Echo Newcastle pop choir and Take Note Community Choir in Whickham, as well as being the Assistant MD for the Inspiration UK choir, based at The Sage Gateshead and Opera North in Leeds.

 

In 2013 and again in 2014, Mark was asked by Magic Radio to MD their Magic Choir in aid of the Cash for Kids Campaign. He has also previously been commissioned by Euro Disney to provide some arrangements for the Christmas Choral Festival, whilst in 2011 he co-wrote and starred in ‘Monopolise’ a comedy musical by the BBC’s Alfie Joey.

Mark Deeks has performed extensively throughout the UK, and on tours to New York, Edinburgh and Paris with the Inspiration UK choir. ‘ Safesake‘, his album of folk-influenced, acoustic songs was released in 2010. Comfortable both sight-reading and improvising, Mark has perfect pitch, holds theDip (ABRSM) in piano teaching, and is also studying for a PhD with the University of Leeds, looking at Northern European National Identity in Heavy Metal: he has had research published both in the UK and abroad.

 

For many years Mark has received requests to perform solo piano concerts but has always been so busy playing music for everyone else that time has now allowed this to happen. Mark then made a decision that he must spend some time concentrating on his talents and put dedicated time aside to strip everything back to the basics – just Mark and the piano thus giving himself a creative outlet and exposing his music in its most intimate way.

This time has allowed Mark to create his new album – Lightburst.

 

Lightburst is designed to represent the tranquility, the calm, and the beauty of light in nature from the warm glow of a distant sunrise to the cold of shade and dusk. It is music to soothe the soul.

Contacts

PR Contact    

Louise Potts of Potts of Time

lou@pottsoftime.co.uk

07456 652 625

Mark Deeks

·         Facebook: http://facebook.com/markdeeksmusic

·         Twitter: http://twitter.com/markdeeks

·         Instagram: http://instagram.com/mark_deeks

·         Tickets for concerts: http://ticketsource.co.uk/musicnewcastle

·         YouTube Channel: http://youtube.com/c/MarkDeeksUK

Love Missuswolf xxx

Kicking and Screaming: Baby-friendly Theatre Performance at The Northern Stage

 

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Friday 14th October 2016

This morning, I had the opportunity to share with my little lady something I’ve loved since I was a little girl: the theatre.

We were invited by Northern Stage to watch a performance about parenthood by Tangled Feet – aptly named ‘Kicking and Screaming’.

Missuswolf two people on a sofa with baby props Tangled Feet

Tangled Feet

Like a tiny bomb exploding in the middle of your life, the baby arrives, and suddenly the world you knew becomes a different place entirely.  How do our priorities shift when we become parents? How do we adjust – and what happens if we don’t?

A baby is more than Natasha bargained for – and she’s also wondering whether boyfriend Jay will ever grow up.

As a flood of plastic balls and children’s toys is unleashed in the middle of their marriage, Sam and Ronnie struggle to stay afloat despite their careful plans.

An honest, funny and touching show with a live score played on children’s instruments.

The performance was at 11am – a very baby-friendly time. Especially for us since we had to get to Newcastle City Centre from Blyth. It meant we missed rush hour traffic, had enough time to pack the pair of us up for the morning as well as drive there and get parked.

Missuswolf mother and baby ready to go to Kicking and Screaming Northern Stage by Tangled Feet

Upon arrival, I was greeted with friendly staff at the box office and at Stage 2. Especially as I had the first hurdle to overcome- where are the baby changing facilities??

Northern Stage is currently undergoing a bit of a makeover in prep for Christmas time. This meant that the changing facilities next to the stage we were in were out of use. However, one of the members of staff was only more than happy to show me where the other facilities were. He was as kind as to take us down in the lift and walk us there.

I thought this was fab service, as an owner of a small human, things like toilets and baby change facilities are like the mothership.

They even took me to the changing facilities and set the board down for me while I was carrying Ella. Couldn’t fault them for service at all.

Even when we went into Stage 2, I was shown where to leave the pushchair and encouraged to sit on the front row.

I took Ella and my bag of bribes and settled ourselves on the front row. I had a bag of rice cakes opened and at hand as well as some milk. Luckily I didn’t need these until about three quarters of the way through, which I was super impressed with her.

Missuswolf staging for Tangled Feet's Kicking and Screaming

The director introduced the show and informed us he had a nine week old baby himself. Cue echoes of empathy/sympathy/best of luck wishes from the audience. Another member of the production had a baby too and this was how the whole baby-friendly performances came about.

He explained for us not to worry if the babies made a noise, or needed changing or feeding, or bobbed about in the corner. I half expected to be the parent doing the bobbing with Ella but she completely proved me wrong. She was engrossed with the lights, the music, the colours, the interaction.

On with the show.

The narrator opens it with this beautiful piece, which you can watch here – alongside some clips from the performance as well as audience feedback:

 

In the past seven months of Ella’s short life, I feel like I’ve been every single character in this performance at some stage.

It’s really quite raw and, after a rough night with Ella and a morning sponsored by caffeine – this performance easily brought a few tears. Tears of joy and laughter at activities such as putting together cot furniture and buying baby equipment,muddling your way through and the domestic disputes it brings. Tears of sadness at moment’s like Ronnie’s where she has a breakdown. Those early sleep-deprived days where you’re just trying to survive. The mental battle further down the line when things become mundane and constant. Dark moments which we all experience in some form or another.

I loved the scene Insomnia: I can’t get no sleep. It had the dance music, the dark and the disco lights.

My hubby and I have been both of the two kinds of couple’s that are featured in this sequence.  The couple trying in vain to get the baby to sleep. Willing, pleading, doing everything they can think of. The couple who manage to escape to a nightclub, dancing carefree letting their hair down. Only to be reminded by the narrator that they’ve got a baby at home. Ouch. Been there and done that. Not a pretty experience – especially the next day.

I also loved the part where Natasha is all ready for a night out. She’s pumped her breast milk, bottled it and put it in the fridge. She’s about to leave when the baby cries, cue the million questions from Jay of what to do and where everything is. And the inevitable of something going wrong. VERY relatable!!!!

Part of the staging is to flood the floor with plastic balls and toys. It’s to resonate the mess and chaos in our lives as parents.  It’s cleverly choreographed and well timed about halfway through the performance, when you expect the little ones to become a bit restless. This sequence is repeated a few times during the latter part of the performance.

Towards the end, I’d shifted from bouncing Ella on my knee to standing her in between my legs. One of the character’s had put a toy on the floor and offered it to her. She took it and started to play with it. I shimmied off my chair and sat with her on the floor to watch the finale.

Missuswolf pram outside Northern Stage Newcastle

The overall experience was a good one. I was initially nervous as I was attending by myself with a baby in tow. I’d never been before and I was a bit apprehensive as to what to expect. But it was all made at ease by the staff. And meeting the lovely Canny Food.

The experience has been a positive one.

Introducing Ella to theatre in a baby-friendly environment.

Getting to watch a theatre performance for the enjoyment of myself.

Being able to relate very much so to parts of the story – the mundane life of parenthood and how you can become detached from the ‘real world’. But you persevere.

We find our tangled feet and get our act together.

Whether we’re dragged there kicking and screaming or not.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Next Baby-friendly showing – Sat 15th October at 2pm at the Northern Stage. Tickets are £15.50/£13.50 concessions

Image and You Tube video from Northern Stage and Tangled Feet


Unilever’s brightFuture Challenge: Small Changes Make Big Differences

Missuswolf Collaborative Post - Typewriter Image

 

Thursday 13th October 2016

Unilever’s brightFuture Challenge looks at how the small changes we make in our lives can make big differences in the long run.

Since joining the Parenthood Sorority, I’m now part of a statistic. Part of the 83% of British parents who feel the birth of their first child made them want to change some aspects of their lives. For the better.

Missuswolf Unilever Positive future

Unilever’s brightFuture initiative focuses on small changes that can make big differences and how we can build a world where everyone lives well and lives sustainably. Since the launch of the Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever has helped 482 million people to improve their health and hygiene, including through hand washing, improving self-esteem and oral hygiene.

Habit’s I picked up

in my own childhood

Missuswolf Lightbulb Unilever project

Turn lights off in room’s that we weren’t using.

So as not to waste electricity and to also save money on electricity bills

To shut the door of the living room.

Particularly of note in the Winter months – to keep the heat in the room. Again to save energy heating the whole house and thus save money. The heating would then click on for a bit before bed so the other rooms in the house were warm.

Not letting the tap run while cleaning my teeth.

Self explanatory really, saving unnecessary water wastage while cleaning my teeth.

All of the above are good examples

that were instilled in me from childhood.  

These are good habits I’ve kept with me in adulthood. I intend to pass these onto Ella too – small changes that can make big differences.

Since having a baby, cleanliness and hygiene have become topical. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always tried my best to keep a clean and tidy house (as much as you can when you work full time!) Which ironically seems like an even bigger task now that I’m at home most days with this small human that’s now on the scene.

The kitchen sink sees a lot of action. If I’m not rinsing dirty plates ready for the dishwasher, I’m soaking soiled clothes to washing baby bottles (obvs not all at the same time!) I try to use the little sink for the bottles and the bigger for everything else.

Therefore, I give the sink a whip around of bleach on a night time. So it’s clean for the next day’s use. I also try to use it down the toilets and sink plugholes in the bathrooms.

Missuswolf Unilever BrightFuture BritMums Domestos over the sink

However, it’s taking small steps like this to make little changes. Just five minutes out of my day. And if I do it the same time of the day everyday, it becomes a routine. So once Ella’s in bed, I can tidy the kitchen and bathroom, having a quick whip around with the bleach then.

Unilever’s help has been exemplified in the work undertaken by Domestos that has committed to helping 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet by 2020. Access to clean sanitation can protect people from preventable diseases, reduce mortality rates, help reduce school dropout rates and improve quality of life.

83% of children continue to feel optimistic about their own future and 59% feel optimistic about the future of the environment.

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The never-ending laundry pile. Urgh.

How can such a small human generate so much dirty laundry? I know – it’s obvious. With both ends prone to overspill and the added mess of weaning, it’s a constant merry-go-round of change-wash-repeat.

 

For a while now, even before baba, I’ve washed clothes at low temperatures. This is my small contribution to a bright future and I’ll continue to do so.

Furthermore, Persil has backed a global initiative ‘Learning for Tomorrow’ partnering with UNICEF to help give children in some of the world’s toughest areas the opportunity of a quality education.

Persil also encourage children to go outside and play. I take Ella for walks in her pushchair and to buggy bootcamps. So she’s no stranger to outdoor activity – particularly seeing my mad, sweaty face when I’m running with her. But it’s all promoting a healthy lifestyle. She sees me exercising and it will become the norm to her. She’s getting fresh air now and I’ll actively encourage her to play outside when she’s older.

Six out of ten parents saying that they have started to live in a ‘greener’ way at home at the suggestion of their children.

Building on the aim to improve lives through small steps, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has worked closely with leading psychologists, academics and experts to create materials and resources that help young people develop a positive relationship with their appearance. The project has now reached over 19 million young lives.

Missuswolf glass of wine and Dove Body wash next to bath

The importance of you time.

I have a bit of a pamper in the bath with a glass of wine. Ah. Bliss.

Taking care of myself. So that I can function and take care of my small human. I want to be a positive role model for her. I want to promote being happy and healthy. I want her to develop a positive relationship with her appearance and will promote healthy eating and exercise. It’s all about balance.

Did you know that 8 out of 10 girls with low body confidence are so concerned with the way they look that they opt out of important life activities?

I don’t ever want

this to be Ella.

 

So it starts at home.

What kind of role model am I if I’m seen to be picking on other women’s bodies? I see and hear it far too often. It’s often used to mask one’s insecurities. I’m not going to be that kind of person – so I fully support Dove’s Self-Esteem Project.

Most parents (between 70-80%) believe that, compared with themselves, their children will live longer, have a better education and better job prospects, and will enjoy life more, even if they will have to work harder to reap the rewards of the greater benefits ahead.

In that case, isn’t it about time we all started working towards a brightFuture?

The smallest of steps now can make the biggest of changes later on.

What changes have you been making?

Love Missuswolf xxx 

Images from Pexels and Unsplash

This post is an entry for BritMums #brightFuture Challenge, sponsored by Unilever  http://www.brightfuture.unilever.com.

The Importance Of A Healthy Mind On Maternity Leave

Monday 10th October 2016

Today is World Mental Health Day.

 

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day

Mental Health On Maternity Leave

I write this post as I’ve managed to escape for a bit.

I’ve retreated to my office at home. I have my earphones rammed in; partly as I find listening to music stimulates my creative side. Partly to drown out my hubby and daughter from the other room.

I mean this in the nicest possible way.

You see, this is an example of escapism – a bit of head space.

Which we all need. To recharge, rethink and as in my case at this time of my life, keep my sanity before I well and truly go insane.

I find it easier to write what I’m thinking and feeling rather than to say it aloud. This may get misconstrued in social situations in that I’m ignorant or not paying attention. Not true. I listen to everything, absorb it. It may take me longer to formulate a reply or what does come out may not make sense. As much as it does in my head, sometimes the words don’t come out right.

Being on maternity leave has really brought mental health to the forefront of my mind.

I’ve learnt just how important it is to look after your mental health.

I worked in a very demanding job right up to literally the last minute. I had Ella on my last day at work (not in work though!)

So I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, no time to think, worry or panic – just hit the ground running. Like I seem to do with most aspects of my life. Yet I cope better this way. Or so I think.

If I keep my mind occupied I don’t have time to worry about it as I’m too busy doing it. If that makes any sense at all.

I do often wonder how this drastic change in my life could have impacted on my mental health.

I’m logical and practical. People who know me may laugh at this as I often come across as having no common sense.

But I put things in perspective.

It’s not like I didn’t know I was going to have a baby – I had nine months to psych myself up to that.

I knew I was going to have a section (baba was breech and in no way turning) – which took me a couple of weeks to get my head around.

Sure, I had a date planned in for the section – the following Friday a week after I finished work. Obviously babies have minds of their owns and mine started as she meant to go on – headstrong and determined.

She came when she wanted. She wasn’t going to turn for no-one and she wasn’t going to wait for when was ready.

I had what was classed as an emergency section. Although the whole process was quite calm.

Looking back, this actually was the best way for me to have a baby. No time to worry, panic or run (I’m joking. I was too fat to run).

I love my birth story.

But for some people that’s not the case. I was very lucky and I’m extremely grateful for this. I know people who have suffered traumatic births and have suffered with Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis.

Missuswolf Mental Health Awareness Week poster

And that’s why I want to help raise awareness.

This year’s Mental Health theme is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.

One of the areas

I want to focus on in particular is

Mental Health First Aid, Trauma and the

Perinatal Period

Sally Hogg is the Strategic Lead of the Mums and Babies in Mind project

There are two aspects to psychological first aid during the perinatal period  (which we define as pregnancy and the year after birth). One element of first aid is to provide a woman who experiences traumatic events with warm help and support to promote and protect her emotional well being. The second is to respond quickly when a woman experiences a mental health crisis to ensure that she gets the care she needs. 

Read more about the awareness and the work ongoing to try to reduce the impact of trauma for new mums on the Mental Health website.

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day poster

Do Something You Love

I went from working full time on a high-profile project to being at home all the time. I could see how easily it would be for me to slip into depression (read more about this in my post on Postnatal Depression Awareness Week).

I finished work in March 2016 and I’ll return properly in January 2017. Nearly ten months off work and ‘out of the game’.

That’s a long time for me.

I’ve worked full time since I was sixteen. I’m not going to lie – I was frightened that I would go insane being at home with a baby all day. And although I’m lucky to be able to have this amount of time off work (I have fellow friends in America who have experienced the shockingly awful mat leave system there) it is still a long time mentally.

So I look after my mental health by writing.

I love writing.

This blog is my form of mental health. It keeps me focused. I work on it daily; writing content, researching, taking photos, editing photos and general housekeeping of web links and old content. I’ve joined supportive networks and I’m learning new things every day.

On maternity leave, I’ve done a diploma in social media and digital marketing. I’m now signed up for one in photography. I take and edit photo’s during the day, jot ideas down for content and do snippets of research. By night I write – I bring that research and those photo’s alive and make them into blog content.

Some people will think I’m mad and that I should be enjoying my time off with my baby.

I am enjoying my time off with my baby.

I take her to playgroups during the day (see Tots and Tums post – funded by Blyth Star Enterprises).

But it’s not a Mon-Fri 9-5 job that I can switch off from. There’s weekends too. And although I’m lucky that I have my OH to do bedtime and help at weekends, it’s still constant.

This way I’m doing something that I love.

And it’s not selfish. It’s important as part of our mental well being. Yeah I’m a mother – but I’m still a person. And I want to go back to work mentally prepared and stronger than ever, not weaker.

But that’s just me as a person.

However, the purpose of this is to motivate people, particularly new mother’s, into being aware and looking after their mental health.

You are still a person.

You are important.

There’s a great app out at the moment and it’s free. It’s called Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness. You can begin by taking ten minutes out each day. You listen to guided meditation to help improve your mindful awareness and relieve anxiety.

I started it a couple of days ago and it really does work. After taking ten minutes out to listen to the meditation, I instantly feel at ease, calm and motivated. It brings everything into focus and calms my chaotic mind.

Missuswolf World Mental Health Day

So dance around the kitchen like a dick (one of my faves and Ella loves it), listen to Headspace, do yoga, take a walk (or run!), read a book – heck even write one.

And remember; a healthy and happy mama equals a healthy and happy baba.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Text THRIVE to 70030 to give £3

Images from Unsplash and the The Mental Health Foundation website

Research from the The Mental Health Foundation website

I listened to Acoustic Cafe while writing this post – we listened to this in Pregnancy Yoga. It was going to be my music to listen to while in labour. But it didn’t work out that way. Life never does.