everything i wish i knew about…success

if you ask Siri what success means you get this response “success means the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”

i guess the thing, the biggest thing, i wish i knew about success is that it looks different to different people. i know that probably seems obvious to some but it’s taken me a minute to really let that sink in and i still have to remind myself of that regularly.

when you’re young and at school success and progress looks pretty much the same to everyone. it’s being smart enough to pass exams, cool enough to be in the ‘popular’ crowd (or at least cool enough to not get bullied), it’s having ‘cool’ labels in your clothes.

once you leave school the road to success looks different to everyone. it can be really hard not to compare yourself to everyone. you’ll get to 30 and wonder what you have achieved. it will seem like everyone else has all, or some, of the markers of a traditionally successful life. some will have kids, others will be married, own homes, have their dream job, found their forever person.

when you’re surrounded by these people it can be easy to feel like a failure. it can be easy to forget that success is different to everyone. if there is one thing i hope you remember it is that success really does look different to different people depending on their priorities. when you’re surrounded by people like this and fed this narrative of success by the media (especially the social kind) it is only natural to compare yourself and achievements. it is only natural to question your success and what it looks like.

success is personal, it can only line up with your own goals and aims. these will change over time. truly, being honest, your success is always under construction because of this. it can be hard but you need to get to a place where you can accept the pace of your own journey. it might take you ten more years to buy your own house or have a baby – that won’t dull your sense of accomplishment when you do it, when it finally happens. that’s if that is what success looks like to you, of course.

success is not a straight line or linear. there will be set-backs, road blocks and challenges. there will lessons of their own and, hopefully, you’ll consider the fact you’ve made it over these a success in itself.

you just need to stay focused and keep going. you will get there. i promise. it doesn’t come without effort and commitment but you can get there. think how different your life can look in 5 years. how your life feels to you is more important than how it looks to others.

once you’re happy with how it feels in your gut (or where you’re headed) then you’re finally on the path to success.

xoxo M

letters to younger me: everything i wish i knew about… grief

when you think about grief you think about death. well it’s where your mind goes generally. but there are so many more forms of grief that you will experience over the course of a lifetime. they won’t all hit the same, or take the same about of time to recover from, but they are all grief, they all hurt and will leave you feeling crippled.

the best piece of advice, well not advice but the biggest lesson learnt is probably that no one will tell you there is a limit they put on how long you can grieve. after a period of time be it a week, month, or year/s , all of a sudden everyone decides you should be ‘over it’ or ‘move on’.

the thing is, with any type of loss, you never really ‘get over it’. you simply learn to move forward, because you have to.

you learn, you will learn, to put your hurt and pain in a box, in the corner of your mind and heart. you’ll pull on it sometimes when you want to, or need to, remember what it is to feel on that level or that you deserve to be hurt again.

something to remember is this: we might lose people but we will never lose what they gave us. the memories. the love. the laughter. the lessons. this goes for every type of grief – including death and break-ups. the guy who told you you deserve the world – that he wanted to give it to you but couldn’t – he reminded you of what you deserve and that there are good guys out there. i know you still miss him – maybe you always will – but he reminded you of your worth. that can’t be a bad thing.

the thing with loss and grief is that it’s never going to be okay. it’s never going to be okay. it’s always going to hurt. your heart will always be broken but it just gets less debilitating. the cracks will heal but you’ll always feel the break. you’ll just learn to live with it. you learn to get out of bed, you can eat again but it’s always going to hurt.

somedays the heaviness will be unbearable. other days, you’ll remember little things about them that make you smile. like whenever you see a rainbow, you’ll think about grandad. it will be bittersweet; the happy memory of them tinged with sadness.

in the early days you’ll see them everywhere, hear them in every song on the radio. over time this will get easier but you’ll never be fully prepared for those moments where the grief hits you out of nowhere. when you think you see them in line at the supermarket just to realise that it is impossible or improbable. when the radio starts playing a song that reminds you of them the most, or that has a lot of memories attached to it. you’ll feel like the grief has hit you fresh all over again. the ground will feel like it’s opening up. it’s not. you’ll be okay. you made it through the first hour, first day and week. you’ll make it through this. if you need to run out the supermarket, that’s okay. if you need to excuse yourself and go to the toilet to cry, that’s okay too. crying yourself to sleep again is okay.

we all deal with grief in different ways; we all process it differently. we all have different timelines. when it really seems too tough just tell yourself ‘if you can get through the next 10 seconds, you can get through anything’. be kind to yourself through it. try not to isolate yourself too much; being around people can help. i say ‘can’ because some people are not going to be productive whilst you grieve and heal, whilst you get to a point where you can function day-to-day.

grief teaches you a lot about people. about yourself and those around you. your strength will surprise you. remember, as mr sheeran sings, ‘a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved’ – and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

xoxo M

a letter to younger me – everything i wish i knew about…

life.

life is a funny thing, isn’t it. it’s frustrating, yet exhilarating. it’s simple, yet complex. it can’t really be planned but somehow also requires a plan. in a word: it’s complicated.

there are a million different cliches when it comes to talking about life. too many to write here. everyone has their own that, at some point, they repeat to their friends, family (and social media followers). one thing that we can say is true is “the only certainty in life is death”. everything in between when we are born and when we die… none of it is certain. (i feel this is taking a slightly depressive turn but bear with me, i’ll pick it back up).

life is brilliant in so many ways, there will be days where you feel light as a feather. there will be moments when you’ll sit with your best friend, watching your nephews play and think ‘life is great, how did i get so lucky?”. you’ll see friends marry the loves of their lives. you’ll have moments in your career, something you have always put 110% into (yes, you’re work pissed, the sooner you embrace that, the better), that you can’t quite believe happen – turnarounds in stores -that everyone had written off – and teams that you influenced and led. moments when you finally make a breakthrough with a child when teaching them and think YES they got it, finally and know that it was your teaching skills that got them there. there will be moments when you’re in love, or heading that way, where you feel so happy your heart could burst. a word of warning though – don’t be too smug. you know what comes next.

heartbreak. disappointment. confusion. you can’t always get what you want, you can plan for everything but then life will throw you a curveball, call your bluff and kick you in the gut. leaving you writhing around on the floor trying to catch your breath. it ain’t always gonna be pretty.

the disappointments will leave you aching for a time before, a time before life made you sore. before you had your heart broken by men who you thought could be the love of your life (spoiler alert: they’re not). before you were let down by friends. before you lost those you love. you’ll ache for a time before the disappointments. a time when life felt simple.

‘everything happens for a reason’ that’s a firm favourite. you’ll hear that a lot when you’re feeling shit, or trying to justify a disappointment. the worst thing, or maybe it’s the best, is that it does seem to be true. hindsight is 20:20 vision. it doesn’t help the stuff hurt any less in the moment but it is good to know and can be helpful to keep in mind whilst you heal.

no one makes it through life unscathed; without scars and heartbreak. all the paths in life you take in life, you gotta make sure some of them are dirt (whether you know it at the time or not). it’s where you figure out who you are and what you want from this life. it’s the curveballs that make life interesting and show us what we are made of. if we’re lucky, there’s a blessing waiting for us at the end of that dirt road.

the one other thing that i know to be true, that i have learnt about life is that, in three little words, it goes on. regardless of the hurt and heartache. life. goes. on. you will survive. you will get through 100% of your worst days. if you can find one small glimmer of hope on those bad days, you will survive.

it won’t always be easy, it will be hard. really fucking hard but, you’ll do it. best of all, best of ALL – it will be worth it. the good days will remind you why you fight. why you’re pleased to be alive and why you’re glad you continued and why you’re glad that life does, in fact, go on.

life is lived and created in the messy parts, it doesn’t always make sense but maybe there is something oddly beautiful about the confusion. maybe if you lean into it, it won’t seem so scary. or maybe i’m talking out my arse, who knows?

maybe one day it won’t all seem confusing, maybe one day it will all make sense. maybe one day, one day, we’ll understand the point of it all. until then, buckle up buttercup because life isn’t going to wait for you. try to enjoy the ride and bring tissues – you’re going to cry a lot!

xoxo M

•dear my little sophia•

oh my little Sophia. happy, happy birthday to you. i cant gift you nice things in person and we can’t get tipsy and dance on the high street but i can write you your letter to let you know how important and special you are to me. so here we go.

Dear Sophie, (or Sophia as i have called you since forever ago)

please forgive me for taking so long to write this letter to you. you really should have been one of the first but for some reason i couldn’t write it. each time i sat down to write to you i couldn’t find the words. charge that to my head and not my heart.

i still remember the first time we met… this shy teenager turning up to a group interview at mothercare (rip). denise was adamant on hiring you… i thought you were too quiet… she told me to remember how shy i had been at the beginning and how I had blossomed… so we hired you and i’m really bloody glad we did!

(disclaimer: she definitely didn’t say i blossomed, i’m sure it was more along the lines of ‘now you don’t shut up’ … oops)

it’s been about 8 years since we met and i honestly say that my life is infinitely better for the Sophie shaped addition to my life. i don’t’ remember when we went from boss/employee to pals; it kinda feels like we’ve always been like this. i can not imagine my life without you now. who would have thought that little one would become so very important to me? you are the little sister i never had and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

you (and leanne, hi leanna, yes, i love you too) are one of my favourite people in the world and i’m not sure i tell you enough. your friendship is unconditional; you just let me be the weirdo i am deep down and you never make me feel ‘less than’ for any of my flaws – you do of course take the piss out of them at the appropriate time which is all part of the privilege of being a best friend.

you have been by my side through the biggest transitions and heartbreaks in my life and given me some of the best advice. if there is ever a dilemma, i always come to you because you give me advice that always hits home. you always give me food for thought; you’re supportive but you’re also not afraid to tell me if i’m being a bit of a dick. we ALL need people like that in our lives! i hope that i have been able to provide that to you too. in the times you didn’t know what to say you told me just that but didn’t ignore the pain i was feeling. you just let it sit with us like an unwanted dinner guest until i’d had enough of it and got the strength to finally tell it to fuck off. that’s not an easy thing to do or deal with, so thank you.

one of the things i admire the most about you is your bravery. yes, you my little cherub are brave. you feel the fear but you do it anyway. i so wish i possessed that trait. your life is going to be so much better because of this; know that i will always be on the sidelines cheering you on. oh the places you’re going to go! i cant wait.

now i have started this letter i’m kind of finding it hard to stop writing but i will because it’s now verging on an eassy but I just have to say 2 more things i love about our friendship.

  1. that no matter how much time has passed we just pick straight up where we left off’ there is no hard feelings that it’s been 75 days since our last catch up. it just it what it is.
  2. how much we laugh. normally we’re embarrassing Leanne – remember Disney. HAH.

you are a ball of loveliness and you’ve got me forever.

i love you, squirt

xoxo M

 

 

• when this is over •

well saturday nights sure look different don’t they? or i’d imagine they do for most; mine are basically the same as they always were because i hate people and try to avoid them at all costs in a normal world, let alone a covid-19 world.

how are we all doing then? i won’t lie i’m semi surprised i haven’t gone completely insane. i never spend this much time with my family but i’m coping well. i think part of it is knowing i’m actually lucky to be isolating with people; i know some who are completely alone and really struggling with it. there’s no amount of facetime that can help. actually, whilst we’re on the subject of video calls can we all just agree that we’re going to stop sharing the photos of our zoom calls? no one cares anymore… ok fine, i don’t care anymore. it’s been 3 weeks and i’m over them. thanks

the initial novelty of isolating has worn off now hasn’t it? at the beginning i feel like we were all super motivated. the instagram posts of workouts and baking were frequent, everyone not working from home was excited to be able to day drink 7 days a week. netflix marathons were things to be proud of. 3 weeks in everyone (at least those i’ve spoken to) has hit a wall. they’re over their new fitness regime, they don’t want to day drink all week anymore, – yes there are people like that in the world – they would rather eat cereal out the packet than bake anything else. (side note: is it just me that can’t believe how fast the time is going?)

i’ve been keeping myself busy with work mon-fri and then making lists for the weekend to try and stay productive. the bonus of this is also that if i’m ticking things off my list and being productive it means i’m not eating everything i lay my beady eyes on. honestly, it’s an issue. i’m one cheese mini away from putting one of those signs in my fridge that say “you’re not hungry, you’re bored. close the fucking door”

another perk is staying productive helps manage the anxiety, worry and fear that creeps up around this situation. the longer this goes on the more i’m seeing people talk and post about the effect this is taking mentally on them. staying productive gives me something to focus on, albeit just short term but once one task is done it’s on to the next and then before you know it it’s bedtime. it helps.

something else that has also helped is making sure i stay connected with people outside of my house in ways that aren’t just over text. i’ve never quite appreciated the value in hearing someone’s voice in a phone call, or seeing their face in a photo. video calls are also sanity savers (but remember we’re not posting pics of these anymore, go team). this thursday just gone we had a work social over zoom, we all brought a glass and did a pub quiz. it was the first time i’d laughed like that since before lockdown.

something i’ve started doing this week though (inspired by dolly alderton and pandora sykes) is make a list of all the stuff i’m going to do when we get to go back into the real world. this is something that is getting me through the sleepless nights and moments of panic. i encourage you all to do it. honestly, it will make you feel a million times better. see mine below…

• run around to my sisters to hug my nephew SO TIGHT and then spend the day playing whatever games he wants to play/ watching whatever he wants to watch and secretly feed him cookies

• take a trip to the seaside to visit my best friend and 2 godchildren. squeeze them all, multiple times. laugh with them. lots.

• go to the gym with Denise

• spend the whole time at the gym with Denise complaining that we’re at the gym

• make the executive decision with Denise that a summer bod is overrated and go and have a massive fry up instead

• celebrate my little Sophia’s birthday and allow her and Leanna to get me a bit drunk

• book a flight, to anywhere

• get my hair and nails done!

• go to nandos (spicy rice come to meeee)

• go to the theatre

• have a sleepover at Byng’s house (she doesn’t know this yet) with her and Amy. say nice things about them to their actual faces

• visit Kew Gardens and enjoy being outside with people instead of getting pissed off with them

honestly, this is just a handful of things i’m looking forward to. there are so many more things i want to do, other important people i want to hug and never let go of and things i haven’t thought of yet but adding to this list fills me with such joy.

i can’t wait to do all this and more. before i go back to being the people hating (but secretly people loving) person you all have come to know.

nothing lasts forever, this won’t either. we can do this.

sending all the love to wherever you are,

xoxo M

have we tried turning this year off and on again?

hello, friends.

it’s been a minute, hasn’t it? i haven’t shared any of my writing for a couple of months now; i’m always jotting stuff down in notebooks but it rarely sees the light of day at this point. i don’t quite know why, i guess as i get older i get a bit more selective with what i share. even most of the memes i share on instagram are in no way related to my life; just things i think others will benefit from. of course i was meant to have finished the letters in my ‘dear…’ series by now but that hasn’t happened. i think Nick would understand… it was my tribute to him, putting some kindness out in the world. i will finish them, especially now we’re in lockdown! there’s really no reason not to. sorry, Nick! charge it to my head and not my heart…

so… how are we all doing? surviving? it’s all a bit surreal isn’t it? it’s a bit like something out of an episode of black mirror (i’ve watched about 4 episodes of it, it freaked me out too much so i stopped). we’ve almost had world war 3, brexit, BoJo got into number 10, Trump is still president, there was a month in the UK where it felt like we had storms every week and now covid-19. seriously, have we tried turning this year off and turning it back on again? fucking hell. 2020… we were all so buzzing for a new year, a new decade… then it arrived and was like, buckle up bitches.

i was one of those a month ago that was in the  “coronavirus? it’s just the flu” camp… well i soon changed my opinion on that. this virus is so much more than that. the impact it is having on the world is unprecedented. if you’d have told me at christmas that we would all be in a government enforced lockdown in March because of a global pandemic i’d have looked at you most peculiar.

one of the things that worries me the most is that there are still people who are treating this like it’s ‘just the flu’. still going out, still not practicing social distancing. what will it take for it to sink in to these people’s thick skulls? their ignorance is literally going to kill people. it breaks my heart that i can’t just run around to my sisters and give my nephew a hug. to hear him say “when will this virus be over so i can see my friends again?”… how do you tell him that there are humans out there that are longing this out? treating this like a holiday from work? it is just so selfish. add to that that people have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic and won’t earn a wage until the country is back to normal… it just makes it even more selfish.

i am very lucky that i am one of those that are able to work from home so i still have a bit of structure to my week. more than ever i appreciate this. being able to have some sort of routine is helping me manage my anxiety at how absolutely mental this whole situation is.

there are definitely some benefits to working from home and i am coping with it much better than i thought. one good thing is the commute is great! no delays… no random men trying to talk to me or telling me to smile… i’m saving money because starbucks isn’t enticing me in with it’s sexy coffee smell errryday… i do realise we are only one week in and in 2 weeks time i might be saying the exact opposite but for now i’m ok with it.

working from home does have it’s challenges though. i’m especially finding it hard as i only started my new role 3 weeks ago. i was still in my training period when lockdown was announced. i hadn’t even met half of the team i am directly managing and now i’m managing them remotely. my boss has been really supportive so i am lucky and she keeps just reminding me that we’re all in this together… (go wildcats!)

some things that are helping me work from home and maintain a sense of structure in my week

  • getting up/ going to bed at around the same time as i did when i was commuting to work
  • ensuring i get my allotted government 1hr exercise in BEFORE i start work for the day – it’s quieter outside and it helps wake me up; gets the juices flowing.
  • it’s so tempting to stay in sweats all day, but i make sure i get dressed and ready as though i’m actually leaving the house
  • working near a window – i may not be able to leave the house but the natural light (and fresh air if i open the window) helps to keep me concentrating
  • making lists of what i need to achieve/ get done that day
  • making sure i still take my breaks and when i do take them making sure they are taken AWAY from the space i’m working in so it feels like i actually have had a break.

i know these all probably seem quite simple but in this first week these have really helped me cope and adapt to working from home; something which i always said i would/could never do.

my first weekend in lockdown has not been too bad; cabin fever is slowly starting to creep in though. i am, however, trying to be positive about being gifted all this time on my weekends. i’m using this time to reset. i am going to get to the bottom of my list that is filled with boring but necessary things – i spent my saturday night sorting out all my paperwork and my pensions. WOO. i am also using this time to try to reconnect with old hobbies that i had convinced myself i had fallen out of love with; writing for an audience and running.  maybe you could do the same? this list might change but for now these 2 things seem achievable to me. my neighbours are also being treated my daily concerts through their windows, bless them.

i have seen some people using this time to learn something completely new; languages and instruments seem to be the favourite. some people have set up social media pages to connect people in this very odd time (‘we’re all in this together 19 is one such page). i also feel like i need to say that it is absolutely ok if you do not want to do any of this stuff; if you would just rather rest and watch netflix all day then that’s ok too. you do you, boo.

i have to believe that this is all happening for a reason – i know, i know such a cliche!! – but i absolutely have to. the society we have now has left us so disconnected from what really matters in this world, we’re starting to realise how lucky we are, how good we had it. how often did i take for granted my freedom? just being able to pop out when we wanted, being able to go and visit friends whenever we wanted? go and grab a coffee? or dinner? i hope we all come out the other side with more gratitude for ‘the simple things’.

even the environment is starting to reset. you’ve all seen the reports of marine life back in the canals in venice and that some people in china are seeing the sky and sun for the first time because there is no smog. it’s actually kind of incredible.

i probably need to think about rounding this up because, story of my life, i have gone on much longer than i predicted or needed. i just want to say one last thing…

it is ok to be scared by this. it is ok to be anxious. it is ok to be upset because something you were looking forward to has been cancelled; weddings, holidays, birthdays, baby showers, graduations etc etc etc. it is ok to feel all of that and more. it doesn’t mean you don’t understand how serious this situation is. it is ok to enjoy use your sense of humour to get through this; we have to find something to smile about in this time – on the really tough days the memes are all that are getting me through!! well that and the people i am connected to virtually; we’re actually super lucky that throughout this isolation we are still able to be so connected to those we love. having said that, i really can’t wait for this to be over so i can hug my nephew and a few others real tight.

see you on the other side, lovers

stay safe and wash your feckin’ hands!!

 

xoxo M

 

 

 

• Mrs Howman •

Alright loser,

this letter was meant to be for your birthday but i’m just proper shit. So now it’s just for a random January day 😂

not sure if you’ve seen me writing these letters to people. go to letter one to find out why… I’ll wait…

back with me? ok, fantastic.

so.

what is there to say about you, Mrs Howman? as our fave Julie Andrews would say “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”

to be fair i don’t have the most memories of us growing up… the main ones are from the legendary xmas eve church visits – still buzzing i got to put Jesus in the manager one year.

the older we’ve got, the closer we’ve got and i’m really very pleased that it’s turned out that way. we’re both the youngest of our siblings and to be honest, the best ones. our parents knew they’d never get better hence why they stopped when they did.

in all seriousness though, what a woman.

these last few years have been so, so tough for you but yet, here you are. living and shit. i know there have been days when the pain has been unbearable. you have quite literally survived the worse thing in the world to happen to any parent and you still made it out the other side. you deserve only happiness now.

amongst your own pain you’ve still provided me with a shoulder to lean on and a couple of ears to vent to. it’s funny because i’ve never been particularly great at chatting face fo face about the bad stuff but i know with you there’s no judgement, so it becomes easier. you see behind the “yes, all good” facade that i’ve put on at family gatherings and always sought me out after to say “alright bitch, what’s really going on”. it’s important to have someone like that within your family. so thanks for being mine.

my wish for you now and forever is that you are kind to yourself and that you recognise how incredible you are. you are so much stronger than you have ever given yourself credit for. i also hope you remember you’re allowed to feel what you feel. even if others don’t understand.

the world is so much better with you in it.

you shhhllaaaagg

love you!

xoxo M

Dear Mothercare

Dear Mothercare,

 

 

Well, this is certainly a letter that I never expected to write.

 

As the doors of the final stores close this weekend I felt compelled to write a letter to thank a business, a family; that gave me so much. I’m heartbroken that this is how it ended for the best business I have ever worked for.

 

It is the most bizarre thing in the world to me that that big ‘m’ will no longer be on our high street; to some it is just another casualty of retail but to me, and anyone who ever worked there, it is so much more. It is the loss of a place that we all called home. Even after you left, it never left you. The skills and knowledge that you gained whilst working there is something that could not be gained anywhere else.

 

My journey with Mothercare started when I was just turned 17. My interview was on a Wednesday. Wednesday 30th August 2006. Don’t ask me why I remember that date so well – maybe deep down I just always knew it was going to be a big part of my life, who knows. I was just looking for a part time job for a year or two to see me through until I went and got ‘a proper job’. I remember it was a group interview, couldn’t tell you how many other people were there, I remember the people assessing the group (Diane, Nicola, Cassie, Emily and Denise) and that there was definitely almost too many assessors for the amount of people being interviewed. One of the tasks we had to do was make new uniform out of carriers and other random shit in a group. Who knows what the f they were assessing through that but apparently I passed it and got the phone call on Friday 1st September to say I had the job and could I start on Sunday 3rd. (I said yes in case you didn’t get where this was going).

 

Over the years I worked in a lot of stores, some just for the day or week, some for longer. Some as a Customer Service Advisor, some as a VM, some as a Customer Service Supervisor, Assistant Manager, Deputy Store Manager, Store Manager, Dual site Store Manager. This business shaped me into the manager I am today.

 

I worked for some amazing managers (and some not so good) over my years there. I learnt a lot from them all. Some good things and some not so good; in a way I almost feel like the lessons from the bad managers were more important than the lessons from the good ones.

 

I have to shout out the best ones.

 

Diane Dalby and Paula Trevaskis; one that got me in to the business and the other gave the CSA a shot at something bigger and didn’t let me leave even when I moved away to university.

 

My fave, Mr. Colin Keefe – the first RM to make me believe I could run bigger stores, with bigger teams and turnovers. You never doubted me, even when I was ill. Or if you did you didn’t tell me. King of the one-word text messages. Thank you for taking me back without question after I thought I was going to run away to Australia because the world had kicked my ass that year. I could write you your own letter with all the thanks I owe you.

 

And then there is Mr. Shutlar. Tom. I still miss working for you and it’s been about 18 months since I called you boss. The team in Brixton used to call you my work husband. Another one that trusted me with more. Thank you for always having my back. It was probably a good thing we left when we did because if one more person told me you’d said something nice about me I’d not have been able to get out the door. Your support through everything was always appreciated in case I never told you.

 

I covered some miles at Mothercare. I worked all over the South of England. All the stores I remember working in are

Crawley, Horsham (ELC and MC), Redhill, Brighton, Worthing, Canterbury, Watford, Guildford, Aldershot, Camberley, Canterbury, Bracknell, Brixton, Croydon (in town), Croydon (Out of town), Tunbridge Wells, Bluewater (ELC and MC), Chichester (ELC and MC), Eastbourne (MC and ELC, in town and OOT), Sutton, Maidstone, Peterborough, Hounslow, Basingstoke ELC, Poole, Southampton… there are probably more but man, you get the idea of the distance covered.

 

I worked store openings, store closures, refits, baby shows… all of it was hard work but so much bloody fun. There was so many times I would listen to my friends moan about their jobs and I would wonder if it was normal for someone to enjoy their job as much as me.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were days when it was bad, days when the expectation felt too high. I remember once, when I was a CSS, we had such a bad visit with the Regional Manager I cried. The reason I always got up and dusted myself off the next day, the reason we all did, was because we felt that we were making a difference. That what we did mattered. That sense of purpose was essential and made us all give a shit about what we were doing. It gave us a reason to put a smile on our face and come to work, even when our personal lives were falling apart. Our customers needed us. To help them navigate the scariest (but most rewarding) times of their lives was an honour.

 

We did it for them.

 

The couple that was clueless but so excited to take this next step together. The couple that had an unplanned surprise but decided to go for it. The couple that had spent the cost of a small home on IVF and had finally got lucky. The single mums (and dads) that had never planned to be single parents but had had no choice but to carry on. The ones that thought they knew everything and then realised actually there was more to this than meets the eye. The dads that had to run out to get the stuff they had forgotten because baby had come early “how do I know which breast pads are best?!”. The ones celebrating their rainbow babies. Scared but hopeful. We were next to them every step of the way.

 

Watching these people grow their families was an honour, and being a part of it was so special. When they came back to show off baby and you got to have a cuddle, when they came back to see you specifically for baby number 2 because you’d been so helpful with baby number 1; “I’ve been looking for you!!!”

 

Selfishly, one of the things that makes me saddest is that I’ll never be able to shop there myself. If I’m ever lucky enough to have babies of my own I’ll never experience an Expectant Parent Event, or get to visit to choose my car seat or pick my nursery furniture. Select a ‘coming home’ outfit for baby.

 

I’m going to shut this down now because I’m rambling and most people have probably turned off. Simply put, thank you Mothercare. For absolutely everything. You gave this girl a career, you made her believe in herself. You gave her some of the best times of her life. You connected her with some of the best people ever, some of whom I’m still lucky enough to call friends.

 

There are some heartbreaks you never get over, and this is always going to be one of them for me.

 

To everyone that is still there, closing their store doors for the last time, I’m sending you virtual hugs and so much love. You all fought until the end. You should be incredibly proud of that.

 

 

Mothercare UK, 1961-2020

You’ll be missed.

 

xoxo M

dear the 10s…

with 2020 less than a week away i find myself doing that thing that we all do… looking back on what has been and looking forward to the future and where we hope to go. with that in mind…

dear the 10s,

there is so much i want to say about the last decade and the ride i’ve been on but there are simply not enough words. or maybe there are actually too many.

i can confidently say i am a totally different person going into 2020 than i was going in to the year 2010 (and thank fuck for that)

there are some lessons that i learnt along the way (in sometimes the harshest ways) that i want to share for anyone that may wish to hear them…

🌸if people want you in their life, they will make time. they will make an effort. you can waste so much time chasing people and wanting people who don’t want you. 

🌼how people behave is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, truly. even when it’s hard to believe sometimes.

🌸not everyone will like you. and that’s ok. it’s not your job to convince them you’re a good person and worth their time. let them miss out. 

🌼there is such a thing as being too kind. too gracious. too understanding. don’t be a mug. 

🌸life can’t be planned, as much as you would like to think it can be, it can’t. there will always be something that happens that you can’t plan. you can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it 

🌼it should be a legal requirement for everyone to go to therapy 

🌸having emotions is ok. you’re allowed to feel how you feel. even if people don’t understand it, you’re not wrong for feeling how you do 

🌼stop trying to make yourself smaller so you don’t intimidate people or scare them off. the right ones will stay 

🌸people will generally be disappointing. they can’t always show up for you. it doesn’t mean they don’t care. even if you think it does 

🌼 when your head becomes too loud, get out. break the cycle. write. sing. dance. run. they will all help (if you’re feeling really brave you can tell someone else)  

🌸social media ; fun, but super fake 

🌼everyone has their shit going on, so try not to be too much of an asshole

🌸life can be messy but still worth living. mistakes are essential to learn and grow but a mistake can only happen once. twice makes it is a choice.

🌼 if you love someone, let them know. you can never regret putting a little more love out in the universe

🌸 there are good people out there, try to trust in them. 

🌼 if you can survive the next 10 seconds, you can survive anything

nothing particularly new or noteworthy there but things we all definitely need to be reminded of on occasion.

to my friends that came into this decade with me and have stuck around this whole time… rach, mark, jade, dalby, den, byng, amy, 504 galdem. bloody hell… ten years! we’ve had fun! thank you. for all the memories. i’ve had some of the best times of my life with you guys this last year and decade. i can’t wait to see what the next 10 bring 💓

the 10’s will be forever known as the decade the three loves of my life entered the world. 2011, 2015, 2017. they make life worth living. if i never get my own kids, these guys are the next best thing. and now i’m thinking about them i just want to squeeze them. oooh.

we lost some of the greatest this decade too and even now i find it hard to comprehend that they’re not here 🌈🐯🐘 ☘️ we have remembered them in the best ways and will continue to do so in the 20’s because, as we all know, the ones we love never truly leave us.

i’m going into 2020 trying to be grateful for the confusion that this last month or so has brought. i’ve honestly been so sad at my core these last few weeks. even if people haven’t seen it. on more than one occasion i have cried myself to sleep. not ideal really. god bless byng and amy for putting up with my teary voice notes; i promise you won’t always have to put up with them.

the me at the beginning of this decade would never have pictured me ending the it where i am. id honestly be most disappointed in myself. i definitely thought i’d have it all figured out by now… maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all… none of us have a clue what we’re doing and just making it up as we go…

i don’t have a clue what the next ten years are going to bring… it’s scary and exciting all at the same time. i guess that’s life. i know for certain – possibly for the first time ever – what i want though. and that makes taking the first step a little easier.

wishing you all nothing but goodness for 2020 and beyond

M xo

Denise aka Dennis the Menace

Hi Dennis,

As I sit down to write this I realised I don’t think I’ve ever written anything for you before… I find that odd.

Anyway, unimportant because tomorrow is your birthday!!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANDMA!!!

I thought I’d write you your letter for your birthday and then by the time I see you to celebrate on Wednesday evening we’ll both have forgotten about me being nice because we’re not really ever nice to each other like this, are we? It’s important to me that you do get a letter though and your birthday seemed a nice reason to write it.

Mate, I don’t even know where to start… perhaps at the beginning – I know you love ‘The Sound of Music’ as much as me and Maria said it’s a very good place to start sooo….

Sunday, September 3rd 2006 that was the day we met. Well, actually Tuesday, August 30th was the day we met because that was the day of my interview at MC and you were there but the Sunday was the first day we spoke (yes, I know I’m weird for remembering the day). I thought you were much older than me because of how you carried yourself and I remember everyone on that Sunday team telling me you were scary and I was like… what? Are you mad? She’s not scary!

And it’s true you’re not.

What you are though is a fantastic friend. Like, truly. I’ve spoken about it before with Diane – you are one of the best. Solid. You’re just great.

You are unwavering in your loyalty, you’re not hard work at all – you understand that people are weird and life is weird and don’t take offence if we don’t speak for a few weeks because I’ve spiralled into a hole of work and anxiety. You’re just there after to listen (with a cup of tea and biscuits, obvs) and give us a kick back in the right direction.

There was a couple of years ago when I was ill that you literally got me through the worst week. Calling me to make sure I was on my way to work, calling me to make sure I got to work, calling me after to make me come to your house so you could feed me and not letting me leave the table until I’d eaten half of what was on my plate after I’d confessed I’d gone about 3 days with no real food. You can’t buy friendship like that. I don’t know if I ever said thank you for it either, so thanks.

I also really respect that you don’t try to pretend to empathise with what I go through when I get ill but that you just try to understand and ask questions; anyone that has anxiety and depression will tell you it’s so hard to find people like that.

I love that you trust me to be in Charlie’s life. The older I get the more I understand how protective people need to be with who they let be around their children and you’ve let me be constantly in Bean’s. Which I’m glad for because I love that little bean. He’s a credit to you and Chris.

I love that you moved to the ghetto from the other ghetto (TH is BF, just be honest) to ten minutes away from me 😂 we’re not that bad here. Don’t go to the other side of the local shops though, that’s proper ghetto!

You’re the right balance of supportive and cautious. I have a lot of ideas that are great in theory but actually completely ridiculous in reality and you’re not scared to tell me that 👏🏼

You are that friend that says ‘we’ll just have one drink’ and then I leave your house at 4am, pissed with no door key and have to wake the house up to get in 🤷🏼‍♀️ oops. Or I end up throwing up everywhere (it was one time and I’m still embarrassed about it) … literally the worst drunk ever when I’m with you. I have my worst hangovers when I’ve been drinking with you 😂 Bad influence. Maybe this birthday I’ll get drunk and rap Eminem for you again.

You’re the best gym buddy because you know when we really need to work out and when to suggest we just sack it off and go for egg on toast at the local greasy spoon too. Balance is good for you. Obvs.

What is possibly my favourite thing about our friendship though is how much we laugh. At other people, each other, the world. I have never known anyone (and I mean ANYONE) to understand the quotes that I randomly slip into conversation… I miss working with you everyday purely for that 😂

Basically, I just wish everyone could have a friend like Dennis. They can’t actually have you though because you’re my friend.

So, Happy Birthday again. You’re great. Can’t wait for Cabaret on Wednesday. I’ll try not to sing too loudly in your ear.

See ya, pal! (please get that quote)

Micks.