The Importance of Belonging

Feeling a sense of belonging is key to happiness. We’ve been accustomed to believing that feeling belonging is supplemental to all our other essential needs and drives. Or even worse, that a need to feel belonging is a sign of weakness. We are encouraged to be independent from a very young age. But if needing to belong is truly not important anymore then why do we feel so stung when we are left out?

Connected

Being able to conduct our lives from behind a computer screen is fast, reliable and convenient. We are more connected than ever before. However, just because our social lives have moved into a virtual forum, our emotions haven’t. People are still feeling left out of groups, if anything, it’s now just easier to tell when it’s happening. Our young people are living through unprecedented times. We have no idea of the longitudinal effects living in this age of ever present technology will have, because no-one’s ever done it before.

Feeling a sense of belonging is the basic root of happiness. We are naturally conditioned to live in social groups. Every fibre of our being is made to connect. Isolation is a problem in our society today because people are losing touch with those connections and ultimately, their sense of belonging.

Faith and Healing

Personal connection is an important linking thread throughout all stages of our lives. There are many studies on attachment theory regarding infants and their place within the family. We have discovered that a lack of connection as a baby and child can result in catastrophic effects. As a young adult, friendships and relationships contribute heavily to our feeling of wellbeing. And adults thrive when they feel a personal sense of belonging. Studies have been done around when employees feel belonging to their company how that impacts upon the overall outcomes of the business. That’s where ‘team building days’ came from. In health, results of studies on patients recovering from stroke suggest that those with a religious faith had better recovery outcomes overall than those who didn’t. The researchers linked their results to the idea that those patients with a faith felt a sense of belonging to their community.

Acceptance

Feeling a sense of belonging can actually heal you! That’s amazing and so powerful. We all know how important it is to feel accepted; the the next step to that is feeling belonging. In an age where individuality is king, we must remember how to serve each other because that is where the sense of community comes in. And whatever community that is that you’re a part of, or want to be a part of, there are ways to help yourself connect into that group. There are ways to be yourself and never again feel like the one on the outskirts of the clique.

This is the first in a series of posts all about belonging and over the series I will be exploring the idea of how to connect in to those groups you want to be a part of. I will be doing a Facebook or Instagram live this week to expand on the ideas and studies I’ve written about above so if you’d like to follow along you can just click those links to follow. There is also a podcast about this series on the way too which I am most excited about!

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The Importance of Belonging

Comfortably Married Isn’t Always Boring

Something really sad just happened. Sad as in the middle-aged way of saying something is ‘not cool’. I had waited for Rich to get home from work to go and fill up the car and go through the car wash (baby doesn’t like the car wash). When he got home we were deciding who should mow the lawn. I said ‘I’ll be all hot and sticky for my date with the car wash’ ‘Your date with Carlos?’ Rich replied ‘I wish!’ I said and we both laughed. The sad bit is, we both laughed.

From sharing a joke about casual infidelity to conversations about mowing the lawn, we couldn’t get any more comfortably married. He does the bins, I do my daughter’s hair for school. We are the average stereotypical married couple, and there’s no escaping it.

The Romance is Dead

What does that mean? Basically when you’ve been married for 10 years, you kind of get used to each other. If that sounds really boring, it’s because it is, for the majority of the time. The romance is officially dead. The Valentine’s day candle lit dinners and public declarations of love are at least. But I never counted that as romance anyway. It’s easy to adorn someone new with praise and admiration. If Rich confessed his undying love for me on Facebook I’d comment asking why he didn’t say it to my face.

Married

The thing about long time stereotypical marriage, is that although it can be boring, when it rocks it rocks big time. Nothing comes close to the feeling of someone knowing you so well. Someone who loves you enough to take care of things when you’re sick or who gets as excited as you about your personal goals. It’s the in jokes shared between just us two, the history, the shared stories, the knowing each other inside and out and the anticipation of the years ahead to continue getting to know each other. I would never trade all that for the initial lust of the beginning.

Beware of the Receptionists

I don’t really bang on about how great marriage is because I know people don’t want to hear it. It’s not cool or ‘in’ and people assume I’m promoting one way of life over another. That’s not what I’m saying here at all. Also, I feel like it could be thrown in my face at any minute. What if when the kids leave home we don’t have anything to talk about? Or he decides his receptionist is sexy and I end up on the singles market aged 50? I can’t say that’s never going to happen but I can enjoy the now. The the security of the banal texts saying ‘please put my wash on spin’ and sending photo messages of our kids being cute together because he’s the only other person in the world who cares about them as much as me. Close friends know it’s not always perfect, and it’s highly probably there will be more to face in the future. But I feel like God is saying to me ‘ENJOY’! Enjoy where you are, right now. Enjoy the familiarity, the security, the shared dark humour. Enjoy it for what it is today, not for what might be tomorrow.

Roots

There’s a bit about being comfortably married in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ which I chose as a reading for our wedding. I had read this book not long before we got married and was quite taken with it. The extract is a part of the book where Pelagia’s father is talking to her about love. These are her father’s words of wisdom to her on the subject.

‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.  And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and, when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.’

Louis de Bernieres

If you liked this one, you’ll love this one about our kind-of-awkward date night.

Date Night

 

I Did Not Notice Meghan’s Mum Was Alone.

I watched the latest royal wedding avidly. I don’t know about being a royalist or non-royal supporter but when it comes to a wedding video, I’m in. I didn’t realise how much I wanted to see it until the day it was on actually, I was transfixed.

It was a beautiful affair. The bride very demure and understated glamour, the groom waiting with his big brother who had gone before him. All very lovely. What I found most interesting was the focus on Meghan’s mum Doria after the wedding.

There was a lot of posts about how brave she was to sit alone and others about how she is fearless. It was as if the world suddenly got really snooty about how families work. I haven’t looked at the stats but I’m pretty sure there are a fair few of us who did not find it unusual at all.

wedding-alone

I realised my mum came to my wedding alone. There were no posts after about how amazing that was, I don’t think anyone really noticed. I didn’t even think about it. There were other members of my family at my wedding unlike at Meghan’s wedding. Perhaps that was why it was so brought up.

What I did notice was that her mum went in the car with her but then Meghan had to walk into the church alone to meet Prince Charles who was to walk her down the aisle. I wonder why her mum was moved out of shot at that point? I don’t know the answer.

It was as if Meghan’s family set up was being measured against a yard stick set by the royal family’s circumstances. But when you think about it, their family history of relationships is not exactly something to live up to. The Crown series I have been watching has painted Prince Phillip as a right cad and we know infidelity abounded during Charles and Diana’s marriage also.

However, I am not here to cast judgement. And I can appreciate those ‘warrior mom’ posts about Doria Ragland came from a place of respect and admiration. But really, it’s not such a huge thing. It is what it is. Some families have one parent, some people don’t have a lot of extended family. I bet  if you asked Meghan and her mum Doria they probably didn’t think anything of it either. They were probably both distracted with celebrating happiness.

single-mum-india

Mum and I on a beach in India

I really didn’t see Doria as a downtrodden poor old maid who had no strapping man to take care of her for the day, or alternatively as a militant feminist woman who never accepts help from anyone. I just saw a mum sitting in awe of that cathedral, looking on in love at her daughter getting wed.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, let’s not be so easily led to believe that one shape or size is the right one. As long as there is love, that’s all that matters.

 

If you liked this post you might enjoy this one about how women support each other.

Ranting About Miserable Gits

As we all know Facebook is a fantasy land of comments and opinions that exists outside of the the normal realms of logical everyday mundane life. What you write on there doesn’t even really count does it. But it does, really. And I’ve quietly been noticing more and more sly shit going down on social media and I have to say, Facebook is ripe with it. Everywhere I look there is some miserable git who seems to think their sole purpose in life is to bring other people down on Facebook. Well I’m here to tell you, it’s not.

Differences of Opinion

There’s a saying that goes ‘opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one.’ We don’t all agree, that’s part of the beauty of life. Facebook is a public forum and the differences of opinion and culture and personality make it an interesting online space. I feel if you put something out into the public online space you should be prepared for people to have an opposing opinion. But it seems to be declining at a rapid pace into argument central. I see people (most times women) writing shitty comments even on the most innocent/banal posts. ‘That cat isn’t even cute’. And my point is, we all know you’ve got an arsehole but we don’t always want to see it. Stop flashing your arsehole about like some entitled, insensitive idiot. Because sometimes, your opinion just isn’t needed. Part of maturity is realising that your opinion isn’t always necessary or even, dare I say it, important.

Outspoken

Maybe you’re reading this thinking that being outspoken is a quality you’ve always liked about yourself and I would agree with you there. I have been in situations where my thoughts and feelings have been bursting out of my face. My cheeks go hot and my stomach churns and I feel like Homer Simpson ‘don’t say it Kate, just don’t’ But I have to. Historically this has been where I have observed a considered injustice, and I’m sure you have been in this situation before and can understand just what I am describing. Sometimes, morally I feel like my input is needed. And yes that sounds conceited but I wish everyone felt like that on certain topics like sexism and other blatant isms that need to be regularly challenged if we are ever to hope for a more healthy future for our kids. It’s all the sly underhand comments I personally cannot stand.

Power in the Written Word

I have read so many loaded comments on Facebook. Not so easy to spot sometimes in conversation, in the written word it is plain to see. I posted in a group recently and received a lot these types of loaded comments. My daughter’s school had an opening ceremony that parent’s were not allowed to attend and my post was about how I was disappointed. That’s the general gist of it. The replies were all from other women, who do not know me personally and they were very opinionated, and I thought quite aggressive in places. But not in an overtly obvious way. In that shitty sly way that some women have really perfected. I stopped replying about 2 hours after posting and just watched the post with interest. By the end of the day I had been told I was controlling and unable to let go of my children enough for them to be upstanding members of society. It was suggested I should be more grateful and I should volunteer at the school so I could see with my own eyes how much effort the teachers put in. Instructions to me from people who have no idea of what my personal circumstances are. Most of the replies were patronising and admonished me for what they considered was a trivial opinion. Much of the comments referred back to their own personal circumstances and how things worked for them and that across the board it should be acceptable because it is for them. The old ‘it never harmed me’ argument. On a post that was not at all argumentative by any measure. Or so I initially thought. I was obviously quite wrong. On many levels according to these women.

Social Constructs

It really piqued my interest though because I was fascinated with why they felt so compelled to kind of attack me on this very mundane point. I was interested to consider why I posted it in the first place too. I still don’t fully have the answers to this but I do think some of the replies were defensive. Attacking others’ opinions or way of life often comes from a place of feeling attacked yourself. Why did these women feel so strongly about a school rule? It wasn’t their school and even it were why would they feel so defensive about something so banal? I think it’s because they felt like in a way, my post was saying ‘I don’t think the way you do school is right’ and they wanted to defend their decisions and their way of life. Breastfeeding arguments pop up on my feeds all the time, I stay well away from them because I know how emotive they can get and I do not feel they ever really help in any way with providing useful info about breastfeeding. I would say go to a support group, vent to your friends, but you won’t get far on a Facebook thread when it comes to breastfeeding even if you just wanted a bit of support.

Bitches be Bitchin’

The thing is, half of that stuff would never had been said to my face. In real life if I had said in a group situation what I wrote, I think it would have been the people with supportive things to say who would have made themselves most known and the thinly veiled snarkiness would have gotten side glares. I have to remind myself that among the people who feel it is their right and duty to tear apart anything they see on Facebook – from moaning about family photos to how many Christmas presents your kids got compared to theirs – there are the ones who don’t tear you down. There are people who read your post, didn’t agree with it and scrolled on past. I generally keep my posts as light as possible but people will find fault in anything. I posted to ask if anyone wanted to come to the theatre to watch Titanic the musical and someone commented how terrible it is that there are musicals made about tragedies.

Give it to me straight

What do you think? Do you enjoy a little Facebook war? Do you feel justified when you feel you have out-pointed someone on a Facebook thread? Or have you also noticed how quickly things are taking a nose dive on Facebook? I’m at the point where I’m a bit frightened to post anything on there. Where do you stand?

6 Easy Pick Me Ups for Mums

It’s easy to reach burn out as a mum. So often we overlook our own daily needs for those of our family. It’s what we were built to do. We all know none of us really have time for ‘me-time’ and I feel guilty doing that anyway. But if we don’t choose to look out for ourselves, sometimes it can feel like nobody is. So here are some really quick mum pick me ups that are easy to do with young children at your feet day-to-day.

1. Fresh air

Even if it’s raining fresh air can really lift your mood. Put the rain covers on the pram, get your wellies on and find a letter to post or walk to the shop. Even 10 minutes out of the house can make me feel like I’ve done something with my day.

6 Easy Pick Me Ups for Busy Mums

2. Cup of tea

So simple, so British, so cliche. Making time to make that cup of tea you’ve been thinking about can feel so luxurious sometimes. If people come to the house the first thing I do is offer them a cup of tea yet I often think I am too busy to make myself one. Well not any more. If you’re dieting or pregnant you could have a nice cup of chamomile.

3. Hoover

Doesn’t sound like a very me thing to do but I love it when I get back in from somewhere and the living room is freshly vacuumed. I’ve taken to only doing one room at a time because otherwise the thought of having to do the whole house puts me off. Hoovering makes the whole room feel tidy so it’s a good cheat and when my house looks tidy I feel more relaxed.

4. Free thinking

I’m checking in on my phone for the majority of my day. Sometimes I even find myself looking at it when I didn’t even realise I’d picked it up. It used to be just Facebook but now I am on a loop through about 5 different platforms. It makes me feel like I’ve eternally got something to do. Like I’m looking for something I’ve forgotten. Putting the phone down and looking out the window can help you relax by letting your mind wander.

5. Kitchen Dancing

Something I used to do all the time as a teenager and I hardly do anymore. My toddler absolutely loves a bit of a kitchen dance. Our current favourite is ‘Your Welcome’ off Moana but it doesn’t matter which music you choose just put some on. Even if you don’t feel like it, once you put on a tune you love you’ll soon be up getting those endorphins going.

6. Pillows

I went online and ordered myself a V shaped pillow last week. All my family thought it was a weird purchase until they tried it. My husband, 7 year old and even my 2 year old all had a snuggle in it before I even got it upstairs. It’s a little luxury that was only a tenner that I can enjoy. Buy yourself a memory foam pillow, a mattress topper, or a new blanket for the sofa, some kind of textile that will just be a nice pleasure to have in your home.

Very simple ideas for a small pick me up in amongst the busy day. Quite obvious but maybe not something you’ve thought of doing recently. Let me know in the comments your favourite little pick me ups.

If you like this post you might like this one about the importance of mum friends

6 Easy Pick Me Ups for Busy Mums

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