I am Tiger Leo

 

So this is pretty exciting, I have a new name… I am Tiger Leo – hear me roar! My new blogging pseudonym comes from my Eastern & Western star signs and it feels fitting to use it now because I am ready to embrace my double-big-cat-ness. So if you’re new to this blog and you don’t know me, great. If you’re a regular visitor and you do know me, forget everything you ever knew!

In truth, the reason I’m using a new name is less about jumping into a new identity, rather it’s about wanting to lose my identity on this blog. Thoughts of going anonymous have been simmering for a while – in fact since I started writing here. From the first post, I’ve struggled with the balance between personal and public. Anyone who knows me would confirm I’m a naturally private person and I like to keep my cards close to my chest, a protective mechanism that has served me well and kept me safe in many ways. Part of that is just the way I am, and I’m learning to accept and love that for what it is. But part of it comes from fear of showing my real self to the world and there is a price one pays for keeping oneself to oneself.

I was kind of getting to grips with all of that when I started writing here and it felt like a big and significant step for me to put at least some of the real me out there and accept the vulnerability that comes with that. It was terrifying… but lovely. The feedback I got on my writing really did feed me, and I saw for myself how true it is that the more you give the more you get. Love, support and inspiration come flowing in, in direct response to what I’d put out. Obvious I guess, but it seemed quite magical. Friendships have deepened, new connections made and work opportunities have arisen all as a result of my putting myself out there.

But…the more I write, the more I realise it’s not just myself that I’m putting out there, it’s also my family and anyone else about whom I may be writing. There have been a few posts that I’ve had to consider carefully before I published, and I haven’t felt easy about the decision. Then there have been things I’ve wanted to write, but just couldn’t because they involve other people, mainly my children, whose lives I don’t have a right to broadcast.

When I came across this article recently about posting pictures of your kids on social media, I had to admit that my actions were not line with my views on this. I’ve always been wary of exposing too much of the children’s lives online not just because of online safety (did you hear about the trend of ‘Baby Role Play’ where people use photos of your kids and present them as their own children – super-creepy) but also because of our children’s right to privacy. The digital footprint many parents are creating for their children is incredibly detailed, possibly embarrassing, potentially damaging and it’s not going to go away.

It’s not unusual now for there to be 5,000 (FIVE THOUSAND!) pictures of a child online by the time they turn 5. It’s not unlikely that when that child grows a little older they might not be entirely happy when their classmate/boyfriend/girlfriend/potential employer finds that picture of them running around naked or the video of them in a screaming rage on the supermarket floor…

So I’ve mostly been careful about sharing images but then I realised that what I was doing by writing about them was potentially even more revealing and personal. Seeing as my older daughter can now be embarrassed by my mere presence, the last thing I want to do is give her even more to be self-conscious about. And thus, Tiger Leo was born. And I can now write whatever the fuck I want about whoever the hell I want. Ooh that was liberating. RRROAR!

P.s I don’t look like this:

liger
Deb: What’s a liger? Napoleon Dynamite: It’s pretty much my favourite animal. It’s like a lion and and tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic.

 

 

 

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Christmas Creations

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Yes, it’s a bit late for a Christmas post, but we’re still within the 12 days, right? And I’ve got to get this baby out, she’s been trying to come out for days, well overdue.

Two years ago, we had what I thought at the time was the loveliest, jolliest Christmas we’d ever had. A full house of grandparents, aunties, uncles and kids, a small mountain of presents, as much delicious veggie food as I could wish for, and everything just about coming together with the right balance of order and chaos. Slightly drunk at the end of the day, I sneaked upstairs with my youngest to read some of her new story books snuggled up in the bottom bunk (glad of an excuse to lie down to be honest) and I remember feeling so grateful for my gorgeous family and such an idyllic Christmas.

Wrapped in my own tipsy love bubble, I was completely unaware of the fact that my then partner, was already in the thick of his affair and that we were around 7 weeks from the end of our relationship.

Which goes to show a few things at least: 1) you NEVER know what is just around the corner 2) he was very good at pretending and 3) I was completely out of touch with our relationship. Now isn’t the time or place to dissect that, but I wanted to set the scene for our latest Christmas, and why, two years on, I have been trying to create something new.

The one last year, as you can imagine, was better forgotten but this year I felt ready to reclaim the season. I love the way that family traditions grow around Christmas, like our box of decorations that gets a little fuller every year and now holds precious memories… there’s the misshapen star painted with chubby fingers at pre-school, the felt angel, sewn with very first stitches, and the salt-dough shapes M and I made when she was two (and L was almost brand new, having arrived in the snowfall just a few weeks before – she was one of those babies who actually sleeps for a misleadingly peaceful few weeks of grace…)

And the traditions too simply evolve organically when you have a young family, until (I imagine) without ever having stopped to think about it your little ones have morphed into teens and between you you’ve created an unshakeable routine for Christmas Day where it seems like things just have to be done that way, and if they weren’t, well it just wouldn’t be Christmas! But our traditions have been very much thrown in the air, and whilst I try very hard to put them back together in a way that has continuity and comfort, there’s no denying that things are different, so what better opportunity to take stock and really think about what I’m creating here.

What do I want Christmas to mean to my children? What will they remember? Which parts will mean so much to them that they want to continue them with their own children? Giving…or shopping?  Experiences or objects? Christmas is a magnifying glass on the best and the worst of us. Everything softens with inspiring love and charity on the one hand, but the monster of consumerism is reaching the annual peak of its power on the other – good luck trying to fight it in those panicky days in mid-December!

Buying stuff is fun of course, and giving is a sweet pleasure. But I have to ask myself why one gift doesn’t seem enough, and why am I spending hundreds of pounds on my family who are in need of nothing, when there are people not so far away in desperate need. Shopping, in its modern form – buying things we don’t need, for ourselves and each other – is at the end of the day a great excuse to ignore the deepest needs of our true selves (you know those times when you feel a bit shit, then make yourself feel better with a harmless little purchase… yeah, nice little rush of dopamine to the brain… and just like that your pain is gone, but part of you knows that you’ve in fact just buried it a little deeper.)

Christmas highlights all this of course, and I decided this year that I would stay a little truer to myself which has meant thinking about:

  • Making instead of buying
  • Giving second-hand stuff (the kids were absolutely thrilled with my old stamp albums which my mum had wisely kept for all these years)
  • Choosing to buy experiences over things e.g. a talk on saner living by Ruby Wax for my sister, ceilidh tickets for my mum (if she knew it involves actual dancing she wouldn’t go, but she will LOVE it)
  • Buying things with use or meaning e.g. the ‘age-appropriate, relatable, empowering’ Lottie dolls (which come armed with tiny fossil hunting gear and telescopes) for the girls after a slightly worrying conversation about body image; Kids Kanteen water bottles to get them thinking more about single-use plastic; foodie/boozie presents for people you don’t know what to buy for
  • Avoiding plastic
  • Being conscious of the environmental impact of everything I buy

I failed in some of these – didn’t manage to make any presents, however did help the children make theirs, didn’t manage no plastic but definitely MUCH less than I might have bought a few years ago – and compromised on some. Also a last minute panic where I felt that the Star Wars soft toys really were a necessity… but all in all… getting there. I did worry a bit about the fact that there would be less under the tree for the children this year (partly because our family doesn’t spend the day together any more so the presents are spread out over a few days, but also because of my new Christmas intentions) and I was ready for them to be disappointed or ask why there’s been more in previous years, but they didn’t.

So, taking steps towards a more conscious Christmas… I would like the children to feel and be able to express gratitude for all the good things that surround us but just as importantly I would like them to be looking beyond all of that, to other people and the planet, and to know that they have the power to change things. And I want them to remember Christmas as family time, however complicated the arrangements for that might be now. Things were still really hard for all three of us in ways that I hadn’t even anticipated – I realised that sometimes I’m so busy getting on with the new stuff that I forget the importance of acknowledging the pain of letting the old stuff go. There was even a classic Christmas blow-out after a few too many glasses of port (which NEVER used to happen in our family, we’re a peaceful bunch!)  but everything turned out alright in the end with our new Christmas, new memories and traditions nicely brewing for the years to come.