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Friday, 23 January 2015

8 bloody good reasons to renew WOEE

OK, so it's like when you get the news that a whole load of houses are to be built on your doorstep and you’re asked if you have any objections.

You're allowed to lodge an objection, but it can't be a personal one.

So, in a similar way, I could tell you all the reasons why I want Witches of East End to be picked up for a third season. I could tell you how, as a busy mother of two and working writer, that my “me time” is precious and few and far between.

That, when I actually got some quiet “me time”, this show really made my night and had me enthralled from start to finish. I could add how gutted I was when the announcement was made that it had been axed. After all, the reason why WOEE was cancelled certainly wasn't down to it being a bad show - far, far from it!

But, I won't. Instead I'll give you some bloody good reasons why Witches of East End should be renewed, for the good of lots of us (around 110, 000 actually at the time of writing) - and that brings me to my first one:

1) 110, 000 people and rising can't all be wrong. This show made an impact on many lives and it wasn't a small one, just check out the petition!.
2) The acting talent in the show is unrivalled. Never before have I seen a show where the acting is so natural that it draws you in completely. The crew clearly work wonderfully well together. Why waste such a great combination of talent?

3) The show has fantastic actors, writers and producers. These people aren't going to be out of work for long at all. Please renew it now before they get snapped up elsewhere.
4) At the end of last year Madchen Amick said in an interview that the cancellation of Witches of East End was because of people not watching it live. Well, how about 110,000 watching the premiere of season three live, and that’s just for starters?
5) It's great for the whole family. How can a show conjure up such emotion and intensity, while being suitable for children too? There has to be some magic in there and I think it's down to the perfect way the show’s makers allow the mind to wander and become part of it. Pure elegant, beautiful class.
6) It's the latest in an illustrious line up which includes Twin Peaks, Charmed and True Blood. Yes, I'm old enough to remember Twin Peaks, but don't tell anyone! Like the shows that went before it - and I've been a fan of all of them - this show has something truly special. Where do you think all these WitchEEs have come from, after all?
7) You might be wondering how you can guarantee the show will be a success in season three? Check this out
8) Cliffhangers… Now this might sound personal, but I'm not the only one desperate to know what's going to happen next… Who’s the Daddy?  What will happen to dashing Dash? Will Killian be saved and will Aunt Wendy make a return from the underworld? I'm dying to know! Sorry if I sound like a geek, but like I said, it has drawn me in and there are hundreds of thousands of us like me!

So, you network bosses and media moguls out there, please see when you're on to a good thing and snap Witches of East End up for a Season 3, before it's too late. This show is gorgeous, exceptional and magical through and through and I think the last few months have proved just that. And it's not just a U.S. thing either. This show is now an international phenomenon and I'm just one of the many Brits who absolutely love it. So what are you waiting for…?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

10 things I'll be teaching my children

As parents we strive for the best for our children; and as good parents we strive for them to be the best they can be. I'm not talking horrendous pushy stage mums, trying to force their children into achieving their own unfulfilled dreams. I mean instilling and encouraging the right values and attitudes in our children, through setting a good example ourselves.

While schools give education - maths, English, science etc - I still believe that it’s the parents’ role to invest time and energy in raising their children to be half decent contributors to a positive and happy society. So here are some things that I think are important.

1) Be assertive – the other day, my son told me he was sad at pre school that no one came to play with him. So I suggested that if no one came to play with him, maybe he could try going to play with them. In life we can't expect things to come to us, but likewise, we should be positive and confident about going for what we want to achieve.

2) Confidence – some of the nicest children I've ever met come from military families, not only because they're polite, but because they are also some of the most confident children I've ever met. Believe in yourself and your ability and others will too.

3) Self defence – the world we live in can be a cruel and horrible place at times. I plan on equipping my children with the knowledge and ability to defend themselves both physically and mentally should disaster happen.

4) Good manners – it may sound old fashioned, but I really value hearing and seeing good manners both in children and adults. I also believe that a well mannered person will get further in life, be more successful and achieve more.

5) Tenacity - don't give up if you fail at the first hurdle. Believe in yourself and your ability. Keep trying. Most of the world’s most successful people didn't get to where they are straight away and it wasn't handed to them on a plate. Tenacity is the best way to succeed.

6) Self belief – too often children are criticised or put down by adults much more than they are praised. If your confidence is damaged from the start, what chance do you have? Praise the things your children do well and encourage them, this way they they will believe in themselves and be more likely to succeed.

7) Kindness – sometimes I just think there’s not enough kindness and caring in the world. I plan to teach my children to be kind to others and be helpful where they can. Hopefully by doing so they will be positive contributors to a good community.

8) Compassion – in a similar way to kindness, I want my children to think from another's perspective as well as their own, and try to understand about the feelings of others. When someone is hurt, for instance, I want them to be the ones who help. We’ve just had Martin Luther King Day, so, as he said: “Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.”

9) Value of learning – we all know that a good education can help you be successful in life. But that's not just about doing sums or reading Shakespeare, it's about going into the world with our eyes open and sucking up all it has to offer. I want my children to be keen to learn, have understanding of its importance and to love learning too.

10) Thoughtfulness – in the early stages of child development, it's obvious that to a young child the world revolves about them and that's all part of the development process. But as they grow, I want to encourage them to think about their actions and the effects it will have on others. Somebody once said to me: “Engage brain before body,” and I think it's probably some good advice.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm a perfect parent, far from it. But I do think that with a bit of effort, patience, time, faith and understanding on my part I can give my children the best possible start in life and by doing that give them the opportunity to be the best they can be.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Banish negativity; bring the happy

Someone once told me that full time mums (and dads) can be more susceptible to depression and loneliness than you might imagine.

It's easy to see why when you think about it, after all, parenting can be a hectic and pretty tough job, not to mention being more tiring than tiredness itself.

We often spend most of our days caring for our small people, with little or no adult interaction. And, while we're focusing on developing tiny minds and characters, we're spending little time on keeping our own brains active.

Before having children your brain might have been used to being permanently part of the adult world. Then, when you became a parent, chances are, things became very different. It's understandable that, as parents, we might therefore feel a bit lonely and isolated at times with such a big change to our lives and mindset taking place.

Clearly, if you're suffering from depression in the real sense of the word, then it's important to seek professional help and guidance and there are loads of treatments and therapies out there that can help, so please don't be afraid or embarrassed to go and see what they are.

If you're just feeling a little flat, unhappy, isolated or low and those negative thoughts are far too frequent, there are things you can do to change it.

I've been really into the concept of bringing the happy lately, and with Blue Monday fast approaching this can't be a bad thing, so…

Make that choice… it's not the easiest thing to do at times, but the first step is to choose to be positive rather than negative. There's no point doing things to be more positive if you don't really want to.

Exercise regularly… Exercise is a big way for me to bring that happy and keep it there. When I'm feeling a bit low, a HIIT workout or brisk walk in the fresh air goes down a treat for boosting my energy and mood. If you join an exercise class, it's also a little escape to the adult world for a change and a chance to meet others.

Bring someone else's happy… I can't quite work out out whether Blue Monday is supposed to be January 19 or 26 this year, but basically it's a Monday in the middle of January, when we're supposed to feel the worst that we’ll feel all year. The idea is to do something nice for someone else on this day and by making someone else happy, hopefully you'll do it for yourself too.

Banish the misery … All too often we find ourselves thinking negatively about someone or something and quite often it's a sub conscious thought that we’re not even aware of. Try and identify negative thoughts when they happen and turn them around. Avoid negative people and influences in your life and focus on the good things. Look for the positive in any situation and it's guaranteed to be more productive.

Music is food for the soul… A tune that makes you feel happy, whether it's something that makes you want to dance, or makes you feel peaceful and content, has to be a good thing.

Stop comparing yourself to others... If you can find a way to be happy with who you are or become comfortable in your own skin, this is a great positive step. Stop comparing yourself to others, what they do, what they look like etc, and start focusing on the good things about you.

Set small, achievable goals… Don't be unrealistic with your goals and then beat yourself up when you don't achieve them. Focus on what you can do or achieve. Then feel good about the fact that you've achieved it.

Share the positivity… While we might say that people who are overly positive can be annoying, the chances are the effect they will have on your life will be a good one. Try and be the person that brings positivity to the world. A good start is a smile.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Why I’m loving exercise..

Ok, so, before you ask, this isn't going to be one of those really annoying “look at how wonderfully fit and healthy I am posts.”

I'm fully aware that, despite being classed as a healthy weight (just), that it wouldn't hurt me to shed the odd pound or two. And I'm also not suggesting I love exercise all of the time. In fact, when I'm exercising, I hate it most the time!

It's the feeling afterwards that I'm on about. I love it!

So, with the sun shining brightly outside and me feeling the effects of my latest HIIT workout, I thought I'd blog about it.

Obviously you exercise to fit into your clothes better, maybe shed a little fat, or generally have a more healthy lifestyle.

But what I love is the boost it gives me – to my mood, my energy levels, even my quality of breathing. This way, on the days when I really don't want to exercise (which is pretty much most days), I can guarantee that afterwards I'll feel flipping fantastic!

The thing I've found that does this most for me is HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. Sounds scary, but it's only 20 minutes out of my day and you should check out Tabata – now that's scary! HIIT involves short intense bursts of exercise interspersed with periods of less intense exercise, for instance sprinting then jogging.

What I love about it too, is that apparently a HIIT workout for 20 minutes a day can be the equivalent of an hour at the gym! And believe it or not, your body continues to burn calories and fat for 24-48 hours after your workout is finished.

This is because a HIIT workout really gets your heart rate up and your body goes into its repair cycle as it works hard to pump more oxygen into your muscles.

My favourite HIIT workout at the minute is Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, but you can put together your own HIIT workout easily, depending on which areas you want to improve. Just have a look online, there are tons of examples there.

So, with the new year, this is my resolution, to do my HIIT workout 3-5 times per week. Even as a busy mum I reckon I could squeeze in the time. Then hopefully come summer time I can squeeze into my bikini and get all martyr like about swimming in the sea... Ha!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How you know you've got kids…

Ok, so we already know that children don't do bank holidays or weekends, that's the obvious one.

If you've recently become a parent for the first time, you might have just discovered that there are two 4 o’clocks in the day as well.

But what about those really cute little things that make you smile to yourself (or pull your hair out in frustration)?

Here's a list of some of the things I thought of that make me remember I'm a mum:

1) Paintbrushes and pots jostle for space with the glasses and cutlery in the draining rack.
2) Nine pm is the new bedtime.
3) Cupboard doors and the fridge are now similar to the gallery from Tony Hart’s Hartbeat.
4) The toilet is no longer a private place.
5) Your bed now plays host to half the “In the night garden” characters and some trains.
6) There are only two TV channels - cbeebies or nick jr.
7) The car you were once proud of is now a skip on wheels.
8) Leaving the house now take three times as long.
9) A visit to a posh restaurant now means crayons, fish fingers and ice cream.
10) The gorgeous scented candles in your bathroom have now been replaced with rubber toys (and not the fun ones either).
11) You know the words to all of the Peppa Pig episodes and you also know all the words to Wind the Bobbin Up, Sleeping Bunnies and many more.
12) Your cupboards that once contained the sort of herbs and spices that would make Gordon Ramsay proud now contain spaghetti hoops and Haribo.

Do you know what? Unsurprisingly, these were just off the top of my head, I'm sure you could think of many more, or if you're not a parent yourself, it may be you have all this to come!

Well, I wouldn't change it for the world (except perhaps for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning).

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I'm Loving Positive Self Talk!

Lately I've been looking at the subjects of happiness, kindness and inner peace.

Ok, don't worry, I'm not becoming a hippy 45 years too late. I just think we all need a little feel good in our lives and if done in a positive way, hopefully it will do us the world of good, maybe even those around us.

I've been lucky enough to do some work recently for the fabulous personal trainer Kelly Rennie, one of the authors of The Fit Mummy Manual

She's got some brilliant tips for getting back into shape post pregnancy, but one of her tips that really struck me was the theory of Positive Self Talk.

This is a technique sometimes used to help athletes stay focused and in an optimal state of mind. It is an internal conversation to create motivation, specific positive emotions, and belief.

The trick is not to listen to the voice that says: “This is too hard, I can't do it anymore,” because when we hear these words, they become our belief.

Instead you create a positive belief and therefore, a positive outcome. If you tell yourself you can do one more repetition or walk one more mile, you will.

It might sound a bit too idealistic to start with, but in thinking back on my life, it really makes sense.

One example – I used to be terrible at cross country at school. Then one day I thought, no, why shouldn't I be as good as the others?

From that day on I was always in the top ten finishers. It really honestly wasn't anabolic steroids, I just started believing in myself.

Even now when I go for a run, initially I start to get tired and think I'm going to stop, then I tell myself I can go further and all of a sudden it's fine again.

And for those of us who have been through problematic labours, for example, you might have got to a point where you thought "I can't do this anymore". I know I did.

Fact is you have to get through it one way or another, what other choice do you have? And this is where positive self talk can come into its own.

If you tell yourself you can do something and really believe it, chances are you will be able to do it. I honestly believe we're capable of so much more than we think. Maybe all it takes is a little more self confidence and self belief?

It's like the theory of the mum lifting the car off her run over child. Would you really believe that could happen? It just goes to show the strength of positive belief. If you want something enough you can do it.

I can't get over how strong our minds can be. Sometimes it feels like our minds are so much stronger than our bodies.

Access the true positive strength of your mind and you will be able to achieve so much more. That is something I truly believe, hippy or no hippy!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Communication is key!

I know I've rambled on in the past about how different men and women are.

How it fascinates me that two such different creatures have to pair up in order to contribute to the future of our human race.

This week it got me wondering how many relationships have broken down because of those differences and the fact that people are increasingly either unwilling or unable to communicate.

You see it's not just men and women who are different. We're all different.

And too many of us live life in a bubble, maintaining a stubborn unwillingness to see things from others' point of view and thinking everyone should think the same as we do.

When I was a cub reporter, I was sent on lots of diamond wedding anniversary stories. Gorgeous elderly couples who still loved each other like the day they were married, 60 years before.

The stock question I always asked them was: "What's the secret to a long and happy marriage?" And their stock reply: "Give and take."

You don't get many relationships lasting the test of time these days. And I think a breakdown in communication is the biggest issue.

What these lovely elderly people meant by give and take, was the need to be understanding of one another and work together as a team.

If couples don't even bother communicating anymore, how is this even possible?

Men generally think and want things one way, women the other. It's this great yin-yang, opposites attract, we compliment each other perfectly thing, that's meant to be so bloody wonderful.

We all know that. We've always known that and to be fair, it ain't so great, so there it is.

I believe that couples back in the day worked harder at relationships and acceptance of each other.

Yes, this was encouraged by society's lack of tolerance regarding divorce and separation, but maybe that was a good thing to some extent?

Why not try a bit harder and be a little more sympathetic and understanding, not just to your partner, but to people in general?

Take time to talk to one another. Practise good communication, understanding, patience, tolerance and of course, give and take.

I know I'm probably being idealistic, but this blog is call Sugar and Fairy Dust after all. And, in my everlasting pursuit of happiness, it can't hurt, can it?