A Happy New Year

Champagne, fireworks, hugs and kisses, and the ushering in of a brand new year. The celebration of the exchange of the old for the new, an acknowledgment that everything can be made fresh again.

This is new year.

May 2017 be for you and the people you love a year of positivity. A year of challenges instead of obstacles, when bumps in the road mean we’re feeling the ride more fully.

May it be a year of commitments kept. Of surrounding ourselves with people we can depend on and being that person for them in return.

May it be a year of kindness. To our children, our spouses, our family and friends, our acquaintances, to the stranger in the street – and to ourselves as well. Let’s listen more, understand more, empathise more, and judge less.

May this be a year of loving ourselves more. Loving ourselves enough to take responsibility for the changes we want to make in our lives.

May it be a year we use our bodies more. Live in them more, be more inspired by what they can do and how amazing they really are. Let’s put good things into them and ask good things out of them – because nothing is more important than our health and the health of the people we love.

May this be a year of more sunrises – of realising how much more we can get done in our day if we commit to starting it just an hour earlier.

May it be a year of gratitude. Of looking at the glass as not just half full but running over, and understanding that the more we focus on what we have, the more room we leave for even better things to come.

May this be a year of good books and good TV, of keeping up with what’s going on in the world and using technology no more than is productive.

May 2017 be a year of vision. Vision of what we want for ourselves in every area of our lives, and of how we will get there. Let’s write it down and use it as a road map. Let’s plan it out and know where we’re going – because, unfortunately, hope is not a plan and distractions are everywhere.

May it be a year of friendship – old friends, good friends, new friends. We never know who’s out there waiting to come into our lives.

May it be a year of good food and good conversation, and these two things in combination with one another as often as possible. But let’s listen more than we talk, let’s ask questions instead of telling stories – and watch and see how much more we learn about the people who matter to us.

May it be a year where we accept that many of these things will not occur at the same time as one another and that imperfection really is one of life’s only true certainties. It’s in the grey areas that the magic happens and the surprises reveal themselves. Let’s forgive ourselves more, laugh at ourselves more.

In 2017 I wish you love and health and sunshine and sweet kisses and uncontrollable laughter and perfect cups of tea and every good thing you wish for yourself.

Let’s make this a very, very happy new year!

Love, Catherine

Christmas craftiness

The tree is up, Michael Buble is crooning his Christmas ditties in the background, and despite the fact that the weather outside is not in fact frightful (it’s a Bahamas Christmas this year), I’m starting to feel a little bit festive.

The Christmas school holidays are about to descend upon us, if they haven’t already, so I’ve been thinking about things to do with the little ones that might keep them occupied in the run-up to Santa’s arrival, as well as provide a few festive trinkets to scatter around the house.Read More »

Surprising tricks that make them eat

6pm. And more often that not it is chaos.

Rarely does the witching hour pass in our house without some sort of disagreement over what I’ve served up for dinner (some days more emotional than others). I’ve started hating myself for how much I raise my voice at supper time (surely this is the least effective way to get my kid to sit at the table and eat her peas?!), so about a week ago I tried something new and I was shocked by the results. Read More »

Walking away

The baby will turn one next week, and she is desperate to walk. She watches her older sister running on the beach or in our street with the big kids, and her longing to join in is so palpable I can almost see it rising from the top of her little blond head like puffs of steam. She pulls herself up and stands helplessly, as what ever she wanted to take herself towards has already been spirited away by the whirlwind that is the three year old. She squawks impotently at the injustice of it all, and my heart aches for her.

But secretly I feel like I’ve been given a reprieve. Not just from the toddler bumps and scrapes that are all to come, but from the grieving that comes with saying goodbye to the baby days – the goodbye that, the moment they learn to walk, is inevitable and expedited. Read More »

Punctually challenged

It was 7.34pm on the night of my 21st birthday party and, as I fumbled chaotically around my dressing table for the right shade of lipgloss, my guests were already gathered, sipping champagne, at the venue 10 minutes away. My phone beeped. “Only you would be late for your own party.” It was my friend A (still one of my very best friends today), who – unlike me – is always on time.

Because I am – and always have been – chronically late. It’s my least favourite thing about myself. It was bad enough in my 20s when I could just about get away with it by replacing the word “chronically” with “fashionably” (although my husband, who’s been trying to rid me of this habit for well over a decade, would disagree). But as a woman in my 30s it’s far less forgivable, and as a mum, where I have actual, real-life little people depending on me for turning up on time and unflustered to where they need to be, it has become unacceptable.

So I’ve been working really hard on this character flaw and when my oldest received her first ever report card from kindergarten last week, there was a magical number in the “late column” which made me give myself a silent high five: “0”.

Here are some of the changes I’ve been making in a bid to become more punctual:Read More »

Marooned

As I sit down to write this, CNN plays in the background – Hilary Clinton has just given her concession speech, and it’s a strange day. As topsy-turvy as the world felt when I woke up this morning, my overarching thought today is, “It’s good to be back.”

Because for the last 5 weeks, our house has been a technological desert: no internet, no TV. It was an unfortunate series of events – a house move, a hurricane, a population needing to have power reinstalled (meaning our needs were rightfully low priority for the cable company) – which left us living in 1995 for over a month. We had power and hot water, a roof over our heads and all our comforts, so it felt wrong to complain – and I didn’t. But now that we’re back online I fully feel what has been missing, and it’s like coming down from a high altitude. The truth is that without internet or cable TV, I felt adrift, disconnected from the outside world – and when you live on a physical island, you find it’s preferable not to live on a metaphorical one as well.Read More »

Parenting for the future: A conversation that made me think

Through my career the thing I’ve loved most has been meeting smart, savvy women and listening to what they have to say about things they’re passionate about. I worried that when I gave up work to be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM), I’d find fewer of these conversations in my daily life. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because – and it seems so obvious when I say it out loud – we SAHMs had former lives. We thought about things other than establishing sleep schedules, diverting tantrums and ways to cunningly disguise vegetables (not that these things aren’t vital to our day-to-day existence!). And – through the haze – we still do. I’m so grateful for the women my new “career” as a SAHM has introduced me to. Clever, caring, funny, kind women – who are mums first, but bring so many different experiences and opinions to the table. 

One of these women is Fleur Heyworth. I love it when a conversation around a dinner table gets meaty – and at Fleur’s table, there’s no shortage of substance. A Cambridge-educated Barrister, she took a break in her career to have two children, before relaunching her working life with the UK government at the Mission in Geneva as part of the Legal, Political and Human Rights team representing the UK at the UN and International Organisations on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. She is now an Independent Consultant working with Women@theTable and the International Service for Human Rights, and has set up a website called Closing the Gap.

We recently got talking about what the future looks like for our children, and the part we as parents have to play – not just in our nuclear  families, but in the world we’re leaving for our kids to be in charge of one day. I found that the work she has done with agencies for change in Geneva have given her a wide and fascinating view of the world, and ideas to share that I believe we would all benefit from.

So I asked her to write down her thoughts after our conversation, and this is what she said…Read More »

Something wicked this way came

hur·ri·cane:

Definition: A storm with a violent wind, in particular a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean.

Origin: Mid 16th century: from Spanish huracán, probably from Taino hurakán god of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew was coming, and much the same way as I did before childbirth, I read up on the phenomenon we were about to experience. As with childbirth, I tracked its course as we counted down the days to its arrival, and made the necessary preparations. As with childbirth, the wait was agonising. And as with childbirth, nothing could have prepared me for the reality. Read More »

Autumn, you beautiful thing

My favourite season is here. And I’m missing it.

I know that, hailing from paradise, I really don’t have grounds to complain, but in the decade I’ve been living in the Northern Hemisphere this has been my favourite time of year – and now that I’m staring down the barrel of hurricane season as opposed to the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, I find I’m really missing it.

There’s just something about Autumn. The light falls differently and everything is golden. The air smells cleaner, the leaves decorate the pavements, and I always feel a calm settle on my soul: the world is no longer waiting for something to happen. In Autumn I always feel as though I’ve arrived at wherever I was rushing to be, and I’m sitting back and soaking it all in. I just love it.Read More »

Same… but different.

It’s been over two months since we hauled our lives across the world to a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, and I feel like it’s been much longer. Perhaps because in truth we have been moving all year. Like waves, one change after another has washed over us in 2016 and now finally, with only one more house move to go in the next few weeks, I feel like the time is approaching when I might finally be able to stop paddling madly and lie back and float for a while, maybe take in the view.

When you move your life, you have to find a way to move your whole self along with it. In order to do that you adapt. You seek out the parts of yourself that will cope with the unfamiliar aspects of your new life best, and you rely on them. The landscape of who you are hasn’t changed – it just looks a bit different. You’re the same person, but you’re dusting off different parts of yourself, blowing away the cobwebs and holding them up to the light, working out how to repurpose them for this newness you’re living. It’s interesting – so I wanted to stop, take stock, and write the changes down before they become just the new normal. Read More »