A week of Ethics and personal growth

This week has been a blast for me.

First of we covered one of my favourite topics in our communication class: Ethics!

One of the things we spoke about when things may be legal but may not seem ethical or may simply be neither.

It made me think of all the different dilemmas and all the different ways companies may dress up their decisions.

For an example back home, we have a big global manufacturing company. It’s situated in a small town where there wasn’t much happening. It came to Iceland as things like electricity is cheap there.

This factory really brightened the place up, young people started moving back home, people that weren’t from the area also decided to move there. The place was appealing to people as housing was cheap and all of a sudden there was a company there that needed educated people (engineers, HR, management, accounting etc.) and welcomed uneducated people to work in the factory. The employees would have a great opportunity to work their way up by working hard and even doing courses the factory provided.

town

In no time this small town grew at a speed no one had seen for decades. A small shopping mall was built, there was a bar there and all sorts of companies and services wanted to be located there.

It all sounds rosy, doesn’t it? Well then there is the other side. The company doesn’t pay all the taxes it should in Iceland as it uses a loophole in the Icelandic laws to avoid to do so.

In class we were told that when we were facing an ethical dilemma, we should start off by doing a stakeholder map. In this case I find it a little troublesome as the stakeholders are many and affected in different way.

For an example the local people where the factory is are stakeholders and they can be divided into many groups: employees, spouses of employees, people that service the factory in one way or another, teachers (teaching all the children that now live in the area), people in companies that service this town that has grown so vastly etc.

The company uses the tactic of pointing at all these people and justify their acts on the grounds they are providing these people with jobs either directly or indirectly, some are even getting an education due to the company etc.

Then there are other stakeholders like competitors, who actually pay their taxes. Then there is the Icelandic public, as this factory is big on Icelandic scale, one can assume the Icelandic system would benefit massively by getting the share it should. If it would one could argue it could mean better service, roads, healthcare or whatever that money would go into. Some people even say that electricity cost goes up when a big player like this comes into the picture. That affects businesses and the general public.

group of people

When I started thinking about this factories approach and it’s justifications I assumed they were using the “Common Good Approach” which means they are basing their decisions on what best serves the community as a whole, but there was something that was bothering me about that as a reasoning. Sure, they are serving the interest of the community they are in, but what about the Icelandic community, as a whole? The notes I took while I sat in the class read: “What is the community?”, “What is the community as a WHOLE?”.

After going over this in my head and by using the tools we were given in class it showed me one can dress things up in different ways. Which might support the theory of “Spin doctors”. This particular company focuses on the good it does in the community it is located in and addresses the tax thing as little as possible. Their communications and justifications all revolve around what they ARE doing and avoiding talking about what they ARE NOT doing.

Club7 : Being brave

This week I took a big step out of my comfort zone.

Masters students on my course organised an event which resembles a TED Talk. 8 speakers, 7 minutes each. It’s the second year this event has been held and this year’s theme was Be Brave. I submitted a two minute video as an application for a spot as a speaker. To my delight (and huge amount of stress) I got selected.

Therefor, last night, I stood in a big room and told them about the challenges I have faced (some of them) and how I gathered the strength and guts to follow my dreams and make the best life I could for me and my kids.

club7

I thought everyone could see how much I was shivering. I was sure I looked like a branch in a storm but as I have reviewed the video my fiancée recorded and spoken to quite a few people that were there I know it wasn’t visible.

As I finished, I felt so relieved that my part was over with but I also felt really proud of myself. I didn’t just talk in front of a big audience, I talked about something very personal.

But that is a part of my journey, to get to tell my story, with my words, from where I am standing as, unfortunately, I know there are people out there that are telling my story in a way that serves them and degrades me. I have finally found my voice and I am not going to hide anymore. At the same time, I have no need to put other people down in this process, as that does not make me any better than them.

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IABC event

As the Club7 wasn’t enough, I also applied for a spot in a committee that is planning an IABC event in Leeds in June.

I got the honour of being selected as Head of Logistics and Committee Secretary.

It’s a huge role and at the same time such a great opportunity. I can not wait to dive into the work that comes along with this task and meet the people that will work with us and the people that will attend the event itself.

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Seize the moment

As I told my brother I had been given the role in the IABC committee he told me he was really proud of me and happy to see I was using the time while I am at university to do more than just study.

That’s just the thing, when I decided to come to the UK to attend a university, I decided to make the most of it. I decided I would grab any opportunity to grow, as a future Communication practitioner and as a person and that’s just what I have done.

I entered a PRstudent blog competition, I have spoken at Club7 and I am now in a committee that is planning an IABC event. I have also made friends from all over the world. I have imposed Icelandic food on staff and students at the university. My kids are getting to do things I could not offer them in Iceland. Me and my fiancée are able to enjoy more time together than before.

It’s not like there hasn’t been ups and downs, as this is life, not a fairy-tale, but the ups and the positives outweigh the downs by far!

If you are a student I encourage you to use the time while you are at uni to grab every opportunity and ENJOY the journey!

asphalt road between trees
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Having to face the fact I can’t keep all the balls in the air at the same time

In the midst of my exams I have learned that I have to come to terms with not being able to do everything up to the standards that I would like.

Running a busy home with 3 children and the 4th “in the oven”, doing full masters studies, being a fiancé, friend and a family member, blogging, doing an online course in leadership etc. can be a handful.

Therefore, for the last 3 weeks I’ve had to prioritise. My main focus at the moment is on my exams.

Current status: one down, two to go.

Being pregnant also requires me to listen to my body when it demands rest as apparently I produce very important hormones for the baby when I sleep (the pregnancy did throw in a bit of a curveball when it came to plans this year).

Any spare time I spend with my awesome family and to let off steam I call friends and close relatives.

I’m used to pushing my limits but with all the talk about people, often young people, having breakdowns and burning out due to stress and pressure in society it has made me think. Made me realise that even though I am pushing myself and want success in life I might not achieve it at the speed I’ve been driving at.

Therefore, my blog has to take a little hit this week and next week. I’d rather write inspirational posts, interesting posts or informative posts when I’m inspired and energised myself. When I feel the urge to sit down and truly share something with my readers. I do not want to write just for the sake of it as I think it shines through when I don’t do it wholeheartedly and I don’t want to blog while battling a nagging feeling of guilt, knowing I could be spending the time revising for my exams.

My last exam is on Thursday a week from now. I expect to return after that with a head full of ideas and loads of material to write about.

There is a strength in prioritising and knowing ones own limitations.

2018 is gone but not forgotten

Happy New Year! I am going to start this year with an overview of 2018, which was a year of big changes for me with new challenges.

Finished one school and started another

In February I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communications. It was a HUGE step for me as my path through the school system had been longwinded. At many points in my life I thought I might not get an education at all, that my ship had sailed, as I hadn’t had the opportunity to finish school at the same phase as many of my friends and peers.

I managed to prove myself wrong and finished my degree in 2 and a half years, as we did summer semesters as well, and I did it with a great mark as well!

On the night of my graduation I threw a big party where two of my best friends and one of my brothers were hosts and made sure to take the piss out of me and guaranteed a good time for all my guests. Another brother took photos at the party and played the guitar and even wrote a song to lyrics that my fiancé put together and they exclusively debuted it for us all. After the party I walked two houses down from the pub where it was held and slept, uninterrupted, in a hotel for the night (this was a big perk as my daughter was only about six months old and hardly ever slept throughout the night).

útskrift
A proud graduate

In September I started a new university in pursuit of a master’s degree. I am still studying at Leeds University Business School and hopefully will receive my degree in Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations by the end of this year.

My studies are challenging at times and I think the main reason for that is both that I am not studying in my native language and secondly because I do have to manage it around running a family of five. Now, for example, I am preparing for exams and it’s proven quite difficult to manage that around the holidays. A house full of flue, the fact my fiancé is now back at work and my au pair still being in Iceland after visiting her family over the holidays are all contributory factors. It’s impossible to sit down and listen to lectures or get sucked into a case study with an active 18-month-old demanding time and attention.

leeds uni my
My lovely school in Leeds

There can be never enough travelling!

I went to a global conference with a friend from school in March. The conference is called LEAP summit and is aimed at entrepreneurs and the leaders of tomorrow.

My previous university sent us an email where we were informed about it and told we could apply for free tickets. This I did. Unexpectedly I got a ticket! I couldn’t bear the thought of going alone so I contacted a girl from my university. She is one that is not only someone I believe will be one of “tomorrows leaders” but already has made an impact. She had served as the youngest member of parliament in Iceland until recently and has done amazing things in her work, especially for women and young people. When she appeared in interviews her appearance was always immaculate and polished.

She’s adventurous so she applied as well and got a ticket. It dawned on me, I was going somewhere without my spouse and children! As much as I love them, it was long needed!

We planned the trip, booked flights to Zagreb and found a place in the city centre to stay.

I loved Zagreb and really hope I can revisit one day as we only stayed for a long weekend. The conference itself was inspiring and very educational. I highly recommend it to anyone in the need of some inspiration, who wants to meet young vibrant people on their way up in life or/and want to learn a thing or two about life and some business skills from world-class speakers.

However, me and my travel buddy found ourselves a little too old for the raves they threw at evenings etc. so we ventured into the city. We ate AMAZING food at ridiculously good prices, got top-notch service everywhere we went. We chatted to locals at bars, some that seemed quite upscale and then some that made us feel like we might want to make sure we never lost sight of each other. No matter what the place looked like though, the people we met were all nice, polite and talkative. We walked around the city centre a little as well and peeked into a museum where we both almost pissed ourselves. It was called “Museum of Torture”. It was horrible but educational at the same time. We agreed that the human species can be monstrous and it is scary to know that people have gone to such lengths to think up ways to harm each other. It was very dark in there and had scary music playing in the background, so we rushed a little through it as we felt genuinely afraid in there.

kirkja zagreb
A typical tourist picture from Zagreb. I didn’t want to bore you with all the food pictures I took!

The host of our flat was nice to the core. She messaged us before we arrived, showed us the flat, answered all of our questions and even sent us an email the day after with a list of restaurants we might be interested in. She was very helpful and friendly.

The biggest “travelling venture” would have to be the family’s big move to England. In June we relocated to Leeds so I could continue with my education. We love it here and as I have covered before I find the people here friendly and we all have a sense of community where we live. I meet the women from the neighbourhood for drinks or to let the kids play and my fiancé goes out with the blokes that live around here to watch football and have a pint of beer. While in Reykjavík I didn’t even know the people next door to me. I want to travel around Yorkshire more and hopefully the new year will bring us a bigger car so we can do so. At the moment we have a very small car and I would prefer everyone to be comfortable and be able to take our au pair on day trips with us as well. Therefore, we definitely need more than five seats. We had a great summer here and Icelanders even came over to try to catch some sun as there was a lack of it back home. Who would have thought it! People visiting England with the purpose of catching some rays!

sun in leeds
Catching some of the sun this summer!

People around me, mostly other international students, have complained about the weather this winter. I must say I have loved it! I am dependant on public transportation to and from school and I do not feel like I can complain! My vision of England was rain, rain and rain! So, the few days it has rained I have thought “There you go, that’s what I expected…” but it never lasts many days in a row. Maybe I am wrong and maybe its because I am from Iceland but I feel like this winter (so far) has been mild and quite gentle to the bus catching student that I am.

Since I moved here, I have travelled back to Iceland once. The whole family went over at the beginning of November, as it was my fathers 70th birthday and he decided to throw a big party. The kids were sent to relatives and friends and I, my fiancé and my father-in-law went to a huge birthday party. I did a little speech in honour of my dad and then we drank and danced the night away. I was very pleased with my trip over as we only stayed for three nights and my father-in- law had never been to Iceland but he still managed to see the northern lights. It took some battering on his bedroom door and yelling encouragement to get him out of bed. When he emerged, he was wearing his boxer shorts and a furry hat in the freezing cold. We stayed in one of the summer houses my dad rents out to tourists and managed to relax in the hot tub twice. The only downside to the trip was that it was very short and I couldn’t meet a lot of the people I would have liked to have seen.

pottur
The lovely hot tub, just before we went in with a glass of white in hand

Illnesses and injuries

Weird category but fresh in the mind at the moment, as me and my two girls saluted the new year with a very hostile flue! I call it “the English flue”, as I don’t get sick often but man, this one knocked me right off my feet! I was in bed (on the couch to be accurate) for almost two weeks! My youngest one got hit twice and had quite high fever. She seems to be making this a yearly thing as she had RS virus during New Years Eve last year! My oldest had to cancel a trip to her dad as she was too poorly to travel. I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for my fiancé as he waited us on hand and foot. He made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. At the same time, he made sure that anyone that was not ill, like my son, were also taken care of and had something to do and got to get out of the house.

I caught another foreign flue in the year of 2018, as my last one and a half day in Zagreb I wasn’t feeling right. Once I got home, I got even worse. That was “the Croatian flue”. Again, my fiancé was a star. I had such high temperature that he had to change the bed regularly so it wouldn’t start resembling a very unappetising, punctured waterbed! He brought me water and tablets to bed and tried feeding me but I do not believe I was very cooperative patient.

flue

In October I got food poisoning and that was a horrible experience. The only thing I laugh about, now, not then, is the phone call we had with some medical staff here in the UK. My lovely and very worried fiancé called some emergency service due to my condition. After a little while the person on the phone demanded to talk to me rather than him. I answered what felt like 100 questions and was told that I would receive a phone call soon from another member of staff. About 15 minutes later the phone rang. My fiancé tried to take it upon him to talk to the health specialist but again they wanted to talk to me. I was asked a lot of the same questions as before. As the person on the phone went through the information, she had from the previous phone call, it dawned on me a lot of the answers the first person had taken down he had answered incorrectly, even though I had given him the correct answers. Anyway, close to the end of our conversation, which took about 10-15 minutes, I was asked whether I could talk!?! Very surprised I asked: “Excuse me?” the person said: “Are you capable of expressing yourself verbally?”. For a moment I thought about saying nothing….. I also thought about asking what it was exactly that I had been doing for the last 10 minutes. Even though I can be a little sarcastic I decided to be polite and just answered “Yes” while I shook my head and rolled my eyes towards my fiancé.

Apart from my youngest catching the occasional flue (which is normal while developing an immune system) the rest of the family has been healthy. However, my fiancé took a tumble down the stairs in our house, with our daughter in his arms! In some immaculate way he managed to save her from any harm. He on the other hand, had cuts on his arms and a grace on his shin. He also fractured some ribs and therefore had to stay home from work for a week.

My brother gets amused and annoyed when it comes to the UK and all the health and safety procedures. He lived in the UK for two years and just couldn’t wrap his head around how scrutinising the health and safety topic is in this country. When he visited in September, he made a lot of fun of all the health and safety courses my fiancé had to do due to his new job. Therefore, when I told him about my fiancés accident his only reply was: “WHAT!!! Has he not done a course in “how to fall down stairs safely”?”

health and safety
Might be an idea to put one of these warning signs at the top of our stairs to prevent falling

All and all

When I look over the year 2018, I can truly say it was mostly good and I went through a lot of personal growth.

I have amazing net of people around me. We got great visitors over. Due to modern technology I have not been homesick yet as I can see my friends and family through a screen whenever I want. I have met great people through my new university and in my neighbourhood.

I have challenged myself personally and professionally.

I am in the process of learning that people visit me to see me, not to inspect my mess. I am also in the process of learning to let go and prioritise when it comes to school, home, family, friends etc. and am almost comfortable with placing the mess in our house at the bottom of the list at the moment so I can enjoy all the other things!

I learned I can write in English as I started this blog, where I surprised myself with two things, firstly, how well it’s going and secondly, how personal it became. It has a life of its own and that is quite therapeutic.

I learned that even though I cut out people that harm me and/or only bring negativity into my life I am not becoming the parent that rejected me.

Through #metoo I learned a lot of the behaviour I had received when I was younger was not okay and for the first time in my life, I am able to see how I was done wrong and why some of these incidents were wrong. For that I am grateful, as if it doesn’t have a name its hard to put a finger on it and work through it.

metooprimary

We said goodbye to my mother-in-law, who passed away, in a beautiful ceremony early this summer.

I am grateful for my loving and supportive family. I have the most amazing kids and my fiancé is one of a kind. I wish I could give him a portion of all the support and encouragement he oozes over me on daily basis.

We recently discovered that I am pregnant and for the ones wondering, I still am. We have another scan tomorrow and are being closely monitored due to my history.

I am grateful I have lived another year. I am grateful for the lessons I went through. I am grateful for the people that are on this journey with me.

Now I look forward to new lessons, a new year and new milestones! Hopefully 2019 will bring me a baby, a degree, joy, love and some travelling.

(I also desperately hope it brings me a job at the end of the summer).

Again, a VERY happy new year to you all!

photo of fireworks
Photo by Anna-Louise on Pexels.com

Food coma

This is the first time I sit down and don’t really know what to write about. Still I thought I should reflect a little between Christmas and New Year.

Before Christmas my stepdad, or “upbringing dad” as I call him, came for a visit. He used to be my mums husband and they had my 2 “little” brothers (now 21 and 23 years old) together. I call him upbringing dad as unfortunately I feel like the “step” prefix doesn’t sound right. Maybe it’s because of all the fairy-tales where stepparents have a negative role, but I also think it doesn’t do his role in my life justice as it’s not descriptive enough.

stjúpmamma
Stepparents as often seen in fairy-tales

Don’t get me wrong, my real dad is a GREAT man! I just didn’t live with him and when me and my brother visited we got to do pretty much whatever we wanted to. We got more sweets than was good for us (and our mum who got us back hyper on sugar). We got to watch telly and play computer games into the early hours of the morning. We loved it! However, he didn’t do much “upbringing”, he didn’t have the discipline role. He rarely told us off. He wasn’t telling us how to do what and when etc. He did remarry and we really protested his new wives’ arrival in our lives as with her came structure and discipline. Which we learned to appreciate when we got older. Later in life he did become one of my best friends as I learned as I grew up that he is a great listener and a lot more of a philosopher than I think he even realises.

My upbringing dad got to do all the “fun” bits like following through with punishments, tell us off, make us do homework etc. As we weren’t too bad as kids, I believe he did also get to do fun (no quotation marks) things with us, normal every day things and holidays etc. Stepparents take a lot on! They take on someone else’s kid/s. They take part in all the cost, the good and the bad and love them like their own (a lot of the times). I believe people that take on the role of stepparents and do it well are one of the most selfless people you can find. The fact I had him and my stepmother in my life really enriched it. Through them I learned different things my real parents probably wouldn’t have focused on or had the skills to tackle and my real parents gave me things and knowledge my bonus parents didn’t think of or wasn’t a priority to them. I was a very rich girl! With these bonus parents came bonus families! I had four extended families! So many siblings, aunties, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers! Again, I was so rich with family! They all took us in, like we were one of them and we immersed ourselves in the families like we had always been there.

My upbringing dad was the one that got me back in touch with my brothers after I hadn’t been allowed to speak to them in 5 years. For that I will be forever grateful. He is my children’s grandfather and when people see him around them, they can tell for miles how much he loves them and they absolutely adore him. He introduced me to tuna salad on toast and deep-fried shrimps in sweet and sour sauce. He taught me to appreciate basketball and played it with us and watched it with us. I had never seen anyone scream at the telly before! He gave me cuddles and read bedtime stories for us. He told me every night that he loved me before I went to sleep. He is good at listening and he’ll never interrupt people while they are talking. He’s a very talented man, he’s a photographer, mainly takes photos of Icelandic nature. His website is elg.is. He just got his first book published this year. He has made the most wonderful winter wonderland which he built from scratch, it’s amazing! He adds to it every year and me and the kids really missed checking it out this December as it brings Christmas to us. If you are interested, you can see some of the progress and the “village” he’s built here. He’s hard working and honest. He’s caring and is there for the ones he loves. I don’t know how I would have done my equivalence to A-levels without him, as I did it in one year, single mum of two, a one year old and a three year old. My son was very often ill that year as we lived in a flat contaminated with mold. If he hadn’t been there, offering to step in so I could do my exams and show up to classes, I don’t know how I would have coped.

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Having him over just before Christmas, taking him to our beautiful park, to a Christmas market and just spending time with him was wonderful and the selfish me would have loved to have him here a few days longer. Keep him here over Christmas.

The good thing was my brother came over to England on the plane he went back with. He’s been here over the holidays and that’s been brilliant! He lived with us before we moved over to the UK. My kids worship him and as they realised he was here the first thing they said was: “Can you move in with us again!?!”. I would have liked to show him around Leeds a bit more but the holiday gets in the way of being a tour-guiding-host. Instead I have been a meal-cooking-host and trying-to make-sure-my-kids-have-the-best-Christmas-so-far-mum.

Mother and two children cooking and preparing a meal in the kitchen together.

My father-in-law has also been with us for the holidays, so we’ve had far from an empty house. It has been festive and joyful, even though, I’ll admit, I would have loved to be able to give the rest of my family a big hug.

We have eaten, napped, taken walks, watched movies and played board games with the kids and continued after the kids go to bed (They are still too young to play Cards Against Humanity).

I hope you have all had a great time and that the rest of the holidays will be even better!

holidays

Feeling Powerless

Christmas is coming and my heart is mainly filled with joy. I have had my stepdad over for 6 days and as uni had broken up for Christmas when he arrived we strolled around town and did loads of “Christmassy” things. He left today and my baby brother (he’s not really a baby anymore as he’s 21) arrived and will be here over Christmas. My kids didn’t know he was coming and were overcome with joy when he greeted them by the school bus.

My father-in-law will spend Christmas with us as well. I have baked and got my hands on some Icelandic meat and drinks.

But then why am I stating that I feel powerless? Why such a dramatic title?

Well the thing is, it was my birthday on the 9th of December and we got a VERY big surprise! We discovered that we are expecting an addition to the family. Again, why is that not pure joy?

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We are very early on, I believe I’m about 6 – 7 weeks in, but  we will get that confirmed at the doctors on Christmas eve. The timing is perfect, as if our calculations are right, the baby should arrive just as I hand in my dissertation, I could then go straight on to maternity leave and once I finish that I could pursue a carrier related to my studies. Then that would be that, as we are not planning to add more people to this planet once we have this one.

However, I feel very stressed and helpless. My story of pregnancies is far from easy. I have had 10 (now 11) pregnancies but only have 3 children. When it comes to being pregnant I feel faulty and a bit broken.

11 Short stories

The first time I got pregnant I was young and reckless. When I was told I was pregnant I had this feeling of protection and motherly love come over me. I would get my ducks in a row and get my life straight as I needed to be responsible for my actions. Soon after I got the news I miscarried.

The second time around it was similar but a little bit more dramatic as I was sent with a plane to a hospital in a different part of Iceland to get to a fully equipped hospital.

The third time gave me my darling daughter who is now 10 years old. She threatened to come too early and I was made to stay in Reykjavík for 10 weeks as I lived very far away from a hospital. Eventually she arrived on time and even refused to come out once the time actually came and she had to be delivered by C-section.

The fourth time was a hidden miscarriage. My breasts and my womb grew even though the foetus I thought was growing inside of me had been deceased for 4 weeks. I discovered this when I went for my 12-week scan. For the first time I had to go through a scrape. While waiting for the surgery I had to stay in a maternity ward and listen to new born babies cry. I even heard parents in the next room to the waiting-room listen to the heartbeat of their unborn child. The heartbeat I never got to hear.

The fifth time my wonderful boy arrived. He is 8 years old now. When I went for a 10-week check-up the midwife couldn’t detect his heartbeat. I was mortified, please not again! Thankfully, he was just hiding a little and from then on made sure I knew he was there and still does! The birth took hours but with the help of an epidural I powered through. It was wonderful to get to experience both a C-section and a natural birth.

The sixth time was the cause of me and my current fiancé being a little too reckless. We were startled to begin with but within 24 hours that changed into excitement and we started planning everything accordingly. It’s funny how your mind works. But I miscarried. We decided it was a little too early and we wouldn’t go for another one for the time being.

Once we got to the seventh time a year had passed. Things had been really busy and I had messed up when it came to taking the pill. That resulted in a human being growing inside of me. Well, almost. We miscarried. My gynecologist was worried I had something called “molar pregnancy” which thankfully wasn’t the case. Nonetheless, I had to go through another scrape and in the process a medical mistake was made. The doctors accidentally made a hole into the side of my uterus. At this point I was very busy at university, so I kept my chin up and finished school.

At this time, we knew we wanted a baby so the eight time I got pregnant was more than welcome. We got a positive pregnancy test while we were visiting England. He had just proposed by the Thames with a phoney ring and a beautiful poem, which he wrote for me. Once we knew I was pregnant he was sure everyone would think that was the only reason he proposed. However, we didn’t care. We were happy and believed that this third time was a lucky charm. Soon we discovered we would have to wait a little longer for our happy ending as I miscarried yet again.

The ninth time we discovered as we came back from a holiday in Tenerife. I had my aunt Irma visiting (my periods) and everything seemed as it should (or not as we were trying) but “she left” very abruptly. I took a pregnancy test and BOOM I was pregnant once again! This time around the miscarriage was very dramatic as it took longer than the others, there was more bleeding and more pain. For a period of time the doctors thought I might have an ectopic pregnancy but told me it was hard to determine as apparently it is like looking for a black cat, on a black roof in the middle of the night.

cat

Once we got to this point, we decided to get examined. See if we could in fact have babies. We had a blood test where our DNA was examined. Which for some reason, I found a little creepy. The test came out fine and we were told that I should come in for a more thorough check. They wanted to fill my uterus with salt water and see if it was intact after the scrapes and births etc. When it was getting close to my appointment, I got this strong feeling, I was sure I was pregnant again. I took a test and it was negative. The feeling was so strong I couldn’t push it away, so I booked an appointment with my GP and got a blood test done, which also came back negative. I had to face it, all these pregnancies and miscarriages had made me crazy, I wasn’t pregnant, it was just hope and my imagination. A few days later it was time for my salt-water-session and I just couldn’t push this feeling aside so armed with my stubbornness I went to the pharmacy and bought one more pregnancy test. This was the tenth time I got pregnant! A few months later I gave birth to my beautiful girl, who is now is one and a half years old and is as cheeky as they come! If it hadn’t been for me being so sure they might have washed her out!

Therefore, now that I am facing the eleventh time of being pregnant I am being very cautious. I want to dance and scream and wonder whether it’s a boy or a girl but I don’t let myself. It’s been too tough in the past, watching the dreams come tumbling down. This is why I feel powerless, there is nothing I can do but wait and hope.

One tough cookie

In the past my fiancé told me I was to tough for my own good. He was right but that’s how I have managed in the past. That’s how I have gotten to where I am. While we went through all these miscarriages together I didn’t let myself grieve as I felt like I HAD to function. I might not be able to keep a baby but at least I could do anything else. So, while we went through all that I only took 4 days off work all together, I still got killer grades at school and my kids had a mum that was always there for them. Until one day. One day I discovered my shoulders were tense, my fists were clenching, I was irritated and got angry easily. This wasn’t me at all and I didn’t like it. Therefore, I went and got therapy. Being me, it didn’t mean I stopped anything else, I just tailored the sessions around work, motherhood, school, being a friend, sister and fiancé. It did help and I let myself grieve.

Who to tell?

I have told friends and family as I do not believe in the whole “shut up for the first 12 weeks”. In the past having my friends and family engaged from the very beginning has given me shoulders to lean on and outstretched arms when needed. When things have gone according to plan however, I have had the pleasure of them knowing from the get-go and I simply can’t see anything negative in that either.

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The only people I am not telling are my children as I don’t want to put them through the shock of potentially losing a sibling. When I was around 9 years old, my mum got pregnant and told me and my brother straight away. We were over the moon! We had been asking for a baby brother or sister for ages. She ended up miscarrying and it was so hard. It was hard to get to grips with the fact this baby we had seen in our future was no more, but it was even harder to see my mum suffer and not being able to do anything to make her feel better. Therefore, I know I don’t want my kids to have to face that.

A mum from a young age

Maybe I am greedy and should be thankful for what I have. I am! I am so grateful for my children! As unexpected as this pregnancy was it is still more than welcome and we had always planned to have one more.

The mum side of me is so imbedded in me. I started babysitting and looking after children and babies while I was still a child myself. I knew from a young age I wanted to be a mum one day. When I got to the age of 11 or 12 I realised some women couldn’t have children and got consumed with fear of that being my destiny. I was sure that just because I wanted babies as much as I did it would be typical that I wouldn’t be able to. Cynical from a young age!

When I was 13 and until I was 16 I took care of my baby brothers as my mum and stepdad worked a lot. When the time came that I was sent into foster care the fact I was taken away from them was what affected me the most. I had taken care of them for so long and suddenly, I couldn’t even speak to them on the phone.

When they came back into my life 5 years later, I had to get to know them again, which was strange for me as I was the one that use to know them better than anyone.

BUT, now it’s Christmas. One of these brothers is here! I have my awesome children and supportive fiancé. After a battle with a grumpy GP receptionists and other staff at the NHS I have a doctor’s appointment on Christmas eve. Therefore, I am going to TRY my very best not to stress, to take it day by day and hope for the best.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, I hope you have a good book to read, fun board games to play, great company to enjoy and delicious food to eat!

I am going to finish this post with a little poem I put together 2 years ago, in the memory of all those that never were:

I mourn you,

the one that never was

I lost you

even though I never had you

I got attached to you

for a little while

I knew of you

for a few blinks of an eye.

You were more than welcome

You were a wish that came true

Oh, you!

My dear baby that never was.

Love for Books

My love of books started at a very young age. As much as I loved making up my own stories, I enjoyed reading books just as much.

With my vivid imagination it was easy to get lost in the world of books and I would read almost anything that I came across. Once I finished a book I desperately looked for the next one as I usually felt a bit empty and sad when a book ended. It felt like saying goodbye to close friends and a world that started off as a place of wonder but as I got deeper into it it felt familiar, almost like a home away from home. A place I could visit to escape from what was going on in my own life. I do believe books also gave me a lot of life and social skills as I learned so my much from reading and they also fed my love for words! I saw new words, phrases and elaborate ways to build up stories.

Even books I didn’t enjoy I would finish, always in the hope they would get better.

At the age of 10 – 11 years old I use to babysit during the summer break. When babies take naps in Iceland they tend to do it outside as we believe our fresh air does them good and as the country is quite safe, we can leave prams outside and just have a baby monitor, or even an open window to be able to detect when the baby stirs! Therefore, when the baby I was babysitting would take its nap I would leave it outside but sneak myself into the library. I would then find an interesting book to snuggle up with. I spent hours and hours in that library that summer and got through a mountain of books. While getting paid!

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My love for books is just as strong today but I don’t allow myself the luxury of snuggling up with an interesting book that often anymore as life is busy and there are tons of schoolbooks waiting to be read. However, whenever I go on a holiday I have this ritual of browsing through bookstores in airports to find the perfect book/s (depending on how long the holiday is) to read while I’m away. I read on the plane, at a hotel and if I am in a sunny place I read it on the beach and by the pool.

Last time we went on a sunny holiday I accidentally took three books with me that turned out to provoke quite strong emotions, so I sat and cried, out loud, by the pool, a few times! One because it had really sad parts to it and the other two because they were just so beautiful. The fact that letters on paper can have that kind of an effect is, in my mind, magical.

I can be quite old fashioned and one of the ways it manifests itself is that I refuse to read books on screens. I simply like the touch and smell of books. I also don’t think it’s the same to sit or lie down with a screen in hand. It just doesn’t feel right to me, somehow.

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One of the things I love about books is that they keep giving. I, for an example, enjoy going to markets and second-hand stores and dig up old diamonds, books I may never have heard of and may never have stumbled upon if it wasn’t for those platforms. I think it is such a great thing, someone read these books, finished with them and then passed them on, for a reasonable price as well! Not only that, I lend my books to my family and friends and they lend me books as well. My grandmother sometimes gives me the books she has finished reading, the last one she gave me was a book I gave her for Christmas last year! Therefore, I think it’s safe to say they definitely keep on giving and they never really go out of style. If I read an old book, I find it interesting to put myself in the shoes of people that lived in a time when I was a baby or even when I didn’t exist. To put myself in the shoes of different cultures and times. By that I am not only talking about the storyline itself but the author of the book, where he/she was coming from when writing the books that they wrote.

Today I am going to cover a book that I have lent to all my friends that like to read in English and have come to me for something light and fun to read.

The book is called “Getting rid of Matthew” and is written by Jane Fallon. I had never heard of Jane before but as I was going on a holiday in 2008, I stood in an English airport looking for the next companion and came across her book.

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In short, and the way I explain the book to my friends, whilst I try not to spoil anything but provoke an interest, is that it is about a woman that has had an affair with an older, married man. After a few years of an affair he leaves his wife and moves in with her. At that point she realises she’s not that into him and suddenly the glow around their relationship disappears and he becomes human to her, he has annoying habits and gets on her nerves. She feels stuck as he’s just left his wife for her. For curiosity sakes she goes to see if she can catch a glimpse of his ex-wife and accidentally, due to a clumsy incident, befriends her in the process, under a fake name, of course! She also meets his handsome son who is around her age and things get even more complicated.

This book is such a feel-good book! I opened it in the airplane and ended up laughing out loud, which is an achievement as I hate flying and find it hard to get my mind off the fact that I’m stuck high up in air and anything could happen!

The characters are well built and easy to relate to and throughout the book they are true to themselves. They really came alive. I never got the feeling of: “He would never say that!” or “She would never do that”. I could picture the surroundings and it was easy to forget that I wasn’t watching a film. It was very funny and excruciating at times, where I really wanted to step in and tell the characters not to do this or that as what they were doing was like a car crash in slow motion. You could just feel things wouldn’t go well but there was nothing you could do about it. Having said that, Jane manages to make all the awkward incidences in the story hilarious, often in a sarcastic way, which I love!

Every time I have travelled since I have tried to find some of Jane’s books. So far, I have been able to locate 4 of them. I have not been able to get my hands on her books in Iceland, neither in English nor Icelandic. For my birthday, last weekend, my fiancé gave me the book she published this year called “Faking friends” and I can’t wait to snuggle up with it while stuffing my face with homemade Christmas cookies.

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The funny thing about “Getting rid of Matthew” is that I told my ex-mother in law about it. I had just finished it and was raving about it to her. How humorous it was, how well built the storyline was etc. She seemed to misunderstand why I loved the book so much, as soon after she brought me 3 books on affairs! They were very dramatic and nothing like the book I had told her about, apart from the affair part.

If you need a book to make you feel good, take you away from day-to-day worries Jane’s books are guaranteed to do that!

As I finished this semester today, my plan is to get my home back into order, get caught up in Christmas, enjoy my family and read at least 3 books!

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Teachers: Real life influencers

With all the talk about influencers in the form of bloggers, famous people, Snapchatters, Instagrammers etc. it seems like the first influencers that we come across in our lives are left out. The word influencer doesn’t seem to be related to those people anymore as even though they had a big impact on our lives, they did it here, in the real world, not on screen.

But who are these people I am talking about? Well they are parents, siblings, other family members and friends along the way. However, the group I want to focus on today are one of the first ones we come across and sometimes make more of an impact on us than we realise.

Recognising the part they played

In the last few years I have been trying to follow my own rule of complimenting people when it is due and thanking people for helping me at different stages in life.

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Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

We all know how nice it is to be recognised for the things we do and complimented on a job well done. I am really bad at taking compliments and usually try to put my self down a little when that happens. I am working on it though and now try to smile and say: “Thank you”. The hardest thing is to not follow it up with something like “I do not do enough of it though…” or “If it wasn’t for (insert any excuse appropriated) I couldn’t have done it…” and so forth.

The last year or so I have contacted people from the past and thanked them.

For an example I called or messages some of the people that played a role in my case when I was in foster care. People that were working for social services or came across my case in any other way. I wanted them to know I had turned out just fine and that I consider that their role was a big part of that. I imagine when you do a job like that you must sometimes doubt yourself, it must wear you out at times and a lot of the times people forget to let you know what an impact you had.

When I started doing that it actually gave me a lot of satisfaction. The phone calls and messages I received filled my heart with love and care. They told me how well I had done, then and now.

I have also spoken to or emailed people I have listened to at conferences and thanked them if they moved me. I have also told people I work for or with if I believe they are doing a good job.

Teachers

In Iceland children tend to start going to kindergarten at quite an early age and that’s the place we first encounter teachers and then they lead us all through adolescence. Once we are 16 years old we then either go and work or continue studying and if so, they mentor us for a few more years.

Most of us can probably relate with the stereotypes, as I believe stereotypes are founded on reality, then they are exaggerated, or the reality can change. By stereotypes I mean like the teacher that was way to smart to teach what he was trying to explain, the teacher that had been teaching for way to long and just wanted to get through the day, the teacher that was so warm that you felt like you had your grandparent there, the teacher that was overenthusiastic, the strict one you didn’t dare to provoke or the teacher that was trying so hard but just somehow couldn’t reach his audience.

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But then there are the really special ones, the once that touch us or our lives in a way I think they sometimes don’t realise.

I am going to cover the ones that I came across and the reasons they touched me.

Passion for creativity

When I was in 2nd – 4th grade I had a teacher who was also an actress. She was in an amateur theatre group in our town and really wanted to get us hooked.

She was loud, she was strict in a sense that even though we were having fun we were not to take advantage of it, she was creative and passionate.

She managed to convince the headteacher to let her put acting into the syllabus. There were 5 classes in my year and my class was the only one that got these lessons. For two hours every Friday we would be on stage practicing pieces either she or we choose, we would get to put on a show for our parents once each semester. She would have us practice talking loud enough and help us find the courage to do so in front of each other. She taught us how to stand and carry ourselves on stage and at the end of the lesson she would have us all lie down and meditate. We found that part funny and awkward at first but grew to like it.

She was successful and many of us carried the dream of becoming actresses and actors. I was one of them. I got so smitten that I formed my own theatre group. It was called “Pots and Pranksters”. I wasn’t allowed to invite friends in to play very often and when I could I could only invite one or two friends at a time. But I didn’t let that stop me. In the Icelandic weather we practiced outside, in my garden. In order to have enough people in my group I made an advertisement and hung up in my school. The kids that asked to join mainly consisted of me and my brothers’ friends. As I was a bit of a control freak I “of course” wrote the plays, directed them and casted myself in the biggest parts. Next to our house was a day-care centre for children and young people with disabilities. One of my grandmothers worked there and as the leader of “Pots and Pranksters” I marched in there and asked if we could set up a show for the kids once a week, on Fridays. That was approved and this group operated for quite some while.

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I had the dream of becoming an actress until I was about 20, by then I hadn’t been on stage for 4 years and convinced myself I was to old for it. However, I still carry the dream of entering an amateur group at some stage after university.

This teacher also read for us. She didn’t read what would have been considered children books. She read thick and old books, often folklore. I loved that! With my passion for words and stories that was something right down my alley!

I believe she was one of the first people in my life that encouraged me to be creative and helped me connect with that side of me. Without her I am not sure who I would be today as the traditional education in the other classes in my year wouldn’t have focused so much on letting our artistic side develop.

Finding her feet in the world of teaching

As a teenager I was in a class with very colourful people. Like most other teenagers we were all trying to discover ourselves and striving to stand out in our own way. Some of us, however, tried our best to blend in, in order to be left alone and not become the target of ridicule.

When I was in the 9th grade we got a new teacher. The teacher that had led the class for quite a few years was now letting go and we got a new vibrant teacher that had just graduated.

She used unorthodox approaches in her teaching. When teaching us history and geography she would bring things to class to make the subjects come alive. Food from the countries we covered and objects related to them. She also invited the whole class to her house one night, for a cosy-out-of-class experience. That was so nice and made me feel like she wanted to know more than just whether we could detect where “the X” (algebra pun) had gone!

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In English classes she brought lyrics with blanks in. She would have us listen to songs that had emotional lyrics or songs that were popular at the time and fill in the words. For the poet and story writing me that was a favourite! I was always excited about which song she would bring next.

With everything she did and all the effort she put into it I always felt like the class didn’t appreciate her. I felt like she was bullied by the class and had to deal with a lot of attitude. On behalf of my class I have carried guilt due to that. Recently I contacted her. I wanted her to know what an impact she had left and that I was grateful for what she did and how she did it as a teacher. She was thankful for the message and to my relief told me she actually enjoyed teaching the class and loved all the different characters in it. This shows how different perception can be. She was probably prepared for what she was getting into, knew she was teaching a class with teenagers and that they would test the boundaries.

The Math-artist!

Yep! That’s what I will call him! As I have found one really has to have skills to teach maths. You can be really good at maths but crap at explaining it. Many of the math teachers were so clever there was no way they could put themselves in the shoes of people that simply didn’t get it and therefore couldn’t “dumb it down” for them. Then there are teachers that talk to people that have a hard time with maths and speak to their students like they have learning disabilities and are 5 years old on top of that. Degrading.

When I became a teenager, maths started becoming my Achille’s heel. I developed a very negative relationship towards the subject and in fact, anything that had to do with numbers. Throughout the years this relationship got worse. Then all of a sudden when I was 19 I had a teacher that got to me! I am not really sure how or why, but he did. The fact I had decided that semester that I would do my homework EVERY day in maths probably helped. I put all other subjects on ice, as they came easy for me, and mainly focused on maths when I did my homework. It also helped that the teacher put me next to a guy that NEVER did his homework. Me and that guy got on well and the teacher encouraged me to help him a little “as he himself was so busy with all the other students”. I think that was his main trick! Having to verbalise everything I had done at home to someone else made my understanding of the subject a lot deeper.

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After quitting this course 5 times in different schools I finally sat through it and didn’t have this constant inner conversation of “You just can’t learn maths”. I learned that I indeed could and I was quite good at it. I passed with the highest grade given in the class!

The one that knew me better than I did

This teacher touched my life in many ways. When I was a teenager, she didn’t teach me but she worked for social services and worked on my case. She also taught in the school I attended. Therefore, when I returned to school at the age of 25, she remembered me.

From the age of 25 to 27 I did a few courses at my old school, as many as I could, being a mum of a young daughter, then pregnant and finally, mum of two young children.

Her office became my haven. When I went through the split ups with the fathers of my children I sat in her office and cried. The first place I could think of when the father of one of my kids sued me for custody was her office, where I sat and cried and gathered my thoughts and strength. She had a way of letting me vent out and then look at me kindly and give me some advice or encouraging words. She knew who I was and what I was about. As she had been involved in my case when I was a teenager she knew better than most what I had been through. She even told me it was a shame the school system didn’t value life experience at all, that one could not get any credits for that, as she said she knew I had a lot of that. She empowered me.

Empowered

I will never forget when I came into her office and asked her: “Is it true that you conduct ADHD tests on people?”

I hardly finished the sentence when she excitedly said: “YES!”

And I said: “Well, I was wondering…”

Again, she answered with excitement: “YES!”

By that point I got a little awkward and thought I was missing something: “….well…you know… whether maybe I….If I should perhaps take a test like that?”

Like she had been waiting for this lightbulb to come on for a long time she said: “YES!”

I did the test and found out I do not have ADHD. She told me, however, that I’m dancing on the line. She said some factors are very high, while others are within the scope of where they should be. She told me in many ways it was harder to be in my position. If one is “normal” then that is that. If one has ADHD it can be worked with and handled accordingly. However, she told me to use it to my advantages. She also told me I just had to be aware of it and use cognitive therapy when I felt like I needed to.

She taught me 2 or 3 classes. She taught upbringing. I loved the subject as I had worked in 3 kindergartens and was a mum of one and soon to be two. I went over the top in all the assignments she gave us, I always did a little extra. Or a lot..

It was in her class I also found my voice. My voice in school. When I was a teenager it was considered uncool and nerdy to participate in classes. To engage with the teacher. When I sat in her class, as a mature student, surrounded by 16 – 18 year olds I discovered I wasn’t expressing myself out of fear of judgement. It was in one of her classes that I decided I was studying for me, that I wanted to get the most out of it and that I didn’t care what other students thought. I enjoyed classes so much more! I asked questions and I engaged with her in conversation about the subject.

Since then I have been quite vocal in classes. Nowadays I am not afraid to take up space in classes.

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The motivational duo

When I finally went to do my equivalence of A-levels full time, as a single mum of two, I came across many great teachers. However, in that school there was a married couple. She taught Danish and he was a school counsellor. They were amazing!

She was cheerful and positive and managed to make Danish fun by showing us funny music videos and sketches. She was so full of spirit in classes that it transmitted over to the whole class.

He became my guidance when everything became too much. I would talk to him about this and that. Sometimes I would pop into his office just to talk to someone older than the age of 3. I would also go in there and cry my eyes out if needed and understanding and kindly he would listen and let me get it all out. When I was making life hard on myself by over analysing things or by taking so many notes while listening to lectures that one could have published a new textbook, he would make fun of me and then guide me in the right direction. When I didn’t believe in myself, he would help me focus and point out what I had actually achieved and told me I could do anything.

I try to see them when I drive through the area of the school as I highly appreciate them and how much they give of themselves when interacting with other people.

The supportive philosopher

When I did my bachelors I had to do a course in political philosophy. I had dreaded it throughout my studies as neither politics nor philosophy were my favourite subjects and there I had a course that combined both!

After having one philosophy teacher before him that opened my mind a little and helped me connect the theory to real life and showed me how relevant all these old books and ideology actually was, I was a little more open to his course. Still, it was this mixture of philosophy and politics.

Once I started his course I quickly detected how enthusiastic he was about the subject. As I was a distance student I went to classes once or twice each semester and then listened to lectures online. When I went to his lecture I was the only student that showed up. Lucky me! I got a private lesson and it really helped me to understand the subject and I discovered it was very enjoyable and one could debate it back and forth for ever.

To make a long story short this was one of my top subjects. I was highest in the class when we finished and I went on to doing a big group research assignment and it involved both politics and philosophy. He was our tutor in it and gave really informative guidance. While working on that project I was about to have my youngest child. At the end of it we turned in a big dissertation and then had to present it and defend it for a panel. I had my daughter 12 days later!

Once my daughter was 6 weeks old I had to start working on my final dissertation. At the university I graduated from one can request a tutor. I knew I wanted him. Because of that and my brothers reactions when I told him I was going to study PR I chose to write about PR and ethics. I could not have had a better tutor. When I was at a breaking point and thought I had misunderstood everything I was doing and that I would probably have to postpone my graduation I sent him a message. He told me to call. We had a 45 minute long conversation where we talked about the assignment and he pointed out he wouldn’t be as much involved if he didn’t believe in me and what I was doing. He helped me straighten my back, brush the dust off and sit back down and put in these final words needed.

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When I applied for the University of Leeds he was one of the people that wrote me a recommendation letter and the letter he wrote means the world to me. What he wrote empowered me and made me think there may be a little more worth in me than I sometimes see.

Reach out

All these people touched me one way or another. They helped me to get to where I am today. Some of them I have thanked and told about my thoughts, others are still on my list.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, there is so much truth in that. However, I want to extend that as we need “the village” all our lives as our learning, no matter whether it is in school or not, requires this village. The people that laugh with us, pick us up when we are down, encourage us, point out things that we don’t recognise within ourselves etc.

I encourage everyone to reach out and let the people that have influenced them know they did so and tell them how. It will hopefully give them something back for what they gave and the odd thing is it gives you so much as well!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You are enough!

I’m sitting in the dark in a big hall, loads of people around me and a young energetic girl on stage sharing her wisdom and being an inspiration to us all. I was there with my school mates but in that moment, I was alone, she was talking directly to me. Or at least that’s how it felt, I shed a few tears. Well, I cried a bit. Okay, I full blown ugly cried with a big frown, open mouth and a runny nose.

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Alda Karen is the motivational speaker I went to listen to.

If there was one thing she wanted us to take away with us this night, it was these three little words: “You are enough”. And those three words evoked so many feelings inside of me.

I have, without really realising, always battled the feeling of not being enough and always felt like I have to do better, prove myself and make others proud. When something goes wrong I am also very good at blaming myself. I tend to convince myself that I didn’t do this or that right or that I am simply “not enough”.

But where does this come from? Well, I’ll try to give you a short version of a very complicated and bumpy ride called my life.

Harsh environment

I grew up with a parent that seemed to struggle. Struggle with the role of being a parent. Unfortunately, this seemed to be my fault. I was brought up in an environment of mental and physical abuse. The physical abuse almost completely stopped when I was around 6 years old but the threat of it always lingered in the air.

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As a young kid I started having to take on a lot of responsibility at home, which was fine. However, if things weren’t done, right down to the letter, I would be met with a fit of rage.

If a piece of clothing was folded the wrong way the whole laundry basked was turned upside down and I was told I did a sloppy job and had to do it all again. If my toys weren’t categorised in the toy boxes they were spilled all over the floor and I had to start over.

If it didn’t take me long enough to vacuum my room (however long that should be) I was sent back into my room to vacuum longer and better.

If I came home too late (5 minutes late would be way too late) or did something considered out of order (it didn’t take much!) the punishments were very intense.

I grew up with a lot of screaming and pointing and a lot of threats. The sentence “You have ruined the weekend (week, day etc.), I hope you are happy with yourself!” rang in my ears whenever I behaved like a child (I say that as I have children now and know I was no better or worse than other kid). That was a huge responsibility for my small shoulders to carry.

If I behaved exactly the way this person wanted and did everything expected of me (which was a whole lot more than any other kids my age) I would get some love and praise, and MAN did I live for those moments!

However, I was a kid and I became a teenager. I got fed up with the environment I grew up in. Therefore, I rebelled, but only periodically. I tried drinking alcohol a few times, no drugs or anything of that sort, got with boys and other things parents usually frown upon. Often Child Protective Services got involved. Sometimes because I called for help. Sometimes because this parent called them. Sometimes because the people in our town knew I was being brought up in unacceptable circumstances and they couldn’t look the other way anymore.

By the age of 16 this parent didn’t want me anymore and I was sent away.

For this parent “I wasn’t enough”.

Living with strangers

Child Protective Services had a hard time deciding what to do with me. They weren’t used to having to find a solution for a teenager that was just being a teenager. However, I ended up in foster care for one summer. I was sent to a farm where the family also ran their own company.

I felt like the family at the farm didn’t want me there, but that they got decent money for housing me.

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I had been ripped out of my life and placed in an unfamiliar place. I didn’t know the people around me. I didn’t know the area. I wasn’t allowed to work (while everyone in the house was away most of the day/evening working) and I wasn’t allowed to use the internet or call my friends and family. I felt completely alone.

The parent that didn’t want me made sure I would still be punished even though I lived somewhere else.

After about 2 months of this however a guardian angel intervened, and the situation changed. The power was taken away from that parent.

At that foster care home “I wasn’t enough” and felt like no one really cared.

The bullying

I was raised in a household where there wasn’t much money. Regardless of this I counted myself lucky as there was always food on the table and I always had a roof over my head. The people that raised me had to work hard to make ends meet and therefore I had to take care of myself a lot. I also had to wear used clothes, passed down from my cousins. They were a lot bigger than me so by the time I could finally wear the clothes, they were well past their “fashionable wear by date”. For this reason, I was bullied.

I was also bullied for developing late. I was picked on for not having boobs when all the girls in my year had got them. I stuffed cotton down a bra. That idea was suggested by someone I though was a friend. She even lent me the bra. She then told everyone about it when I showed up with my newly developed “boobs”.

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At school I “wasn’t enough” for my peers.

The sexual abuse

I was abused by a family member. I only remember glimpses. One of my coping skills seems to be to block things out. I am quite thankful for that.

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However, I remember being told I was difficult and prudish while this person tried to penetrate me, I was around 10 years old. I remember being told to moan and then being told off for doing it wrong.

Even while I was being molested “I wasn’t enough”! I couldn’t even do that right!

Hurt them before they hurt you

My relationships where later defined by my upbringing. I couldn’t believe that anyone would love me, let alone love me forever! I had been rejected as a teenager by a parent, one of the few people that you would think was guaranteed to always love and protect you.

Without realising, this spilled over into my relationships. I didn’t realise this myself until much later.

If I felt things were getting serious and that I was getting heavily involved I would hit the eject button.

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Made to please

In my constant search for approval and intimacy I let men treat me in a demeaning way, a way that was self-degrading and some of it was pure abuse. I didn’t see it at the time, I just loved attention and the affection however short and shallow it was.

Upwards and onwards

Even though this sounds like a sob story, it isn’t. Really it isn’t. As a child I was still fairly happy, and I did have friends. Even with my “luck” with men I have done some amazing things and met some unbelievable people along the way. I have also grown as a person.

Today I am aware. I am aware of HOW I was shaped. I am aware I HAD to cope. I am aware I didn’t always do it right. I am aware I have hurt people along the way and I am aware I probably hurt myself the most.

However, after being in foster care for 4 months a family member fostered me. She took me in and got legal custody of me. That person was amazing. When she took me in I was broken and hurt but I was still unbelievably positive and driven by the urge to survive. I used humour A LOT!

As I have talked about previously , I decided at a young age I wouldn’t let what happened to me or what other people think affect me from now on. It is my life and I am responsible for it, and for how I am going to tackle it with the cards I have been dealt.

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I am a fighter through and through and therefore I decided I wasn’t going to let all of this define me. I have always believed I am meant to do great things, and I wasn’t going to let other people put me down or make me believe that I wasn’t.

I am driven not to use my past as an excuse to be unhappy or to lose my path in life.

Therefore, with bumps, falls and crashes I have pulled myself up. I did the best I could with what I had.

And you know what? I am damn proud of myself.

However, these words made me cry. Why?

Because, even though I am independent, even though I have reached a really good place in my life, even though I have the best fiancé, even though I have happy and clever children,  even though I have educated myself (and am still at it), even though I have the greatest net of friends and family around me and even though I am generally happy, I know some of it was fuelled by “not being enough”. Fuelled by “I’ll show them!” and by “If I was that useless I couldn’t have done that!” etc.

And even though I know I am doing well, even though I know I am at a great place in my life, even though I know I am a good mum, even though I know I am a loving fiancée, even though I know I am a friend to my friends and family I still feel like I have something to prove. Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try “I will never be enough”.

So why am I putting all this out there? Why am I sharing this with the world?

Well, because even though I have self-doubt at times I know “I AM enough!” I also think it is important to be authentic and true to one self and all of this IS a part of me. I hope my story can encourage other people going through difficult times to keep going. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, don’t give up. I also think it is important to share my experience as if someone is going through hard times and for whatever reason stumbles upon my blog they know they are not alone and there is a way up.

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I believe stubbornness, sarcasm, writing poems and diaries, being positive and never giving up has got me to where I am today, and I will keep going no matter what other people may or may not think.

You know why? Because “I AM ENOUGH!”

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Bans, Bins and Bureaucracy

I live in Leeds and I have lived here just over 3 months. I had been to England often before and had certain thoughts and opinions on this and that, some which have changed, others have been reinforced. I have also learnt a few things I didn’t know until I lived here and I am sure the people of Leeds and England will keep surprising me in the coming year.

People in Leeds are friendly

I say Leeds as from what I understand, people are not as concerned about the next person everywhere in England. Doors are kept open, bus drivers are thanked as people step out of the bus, strangers greet each other, people help others out in the streets (I have had total strangers offer to carry stuff to the car with us, pick stuff up that I drop etc.) and so on. I am told this video explains the difference between people from the north and the south pretty well.

Where I live (which is not that far from the city centre) is a real sense of community. I am already involved in “mummy”/” wives” groups. We have been to a charity event where I knew surprisingly many faces and we have had the people from our neighbourhood over for an open house in order for us to get to know them and for them to get to know us.

Even while seeing my doctor to get contraception (as we definitely don’t need another child at this point in time!) I felt like I was talking to a friend, or at least a friend of a friend. She told me all about how much older her husband was and that the fact he could be too tired for sex (due to age). She stressed that this was definitely not her fault as she was still sexy and up for it. She also told me that they had children quite late in life so I didn’t have to worry, there was still time for us to add more kids to the family. She was brilliant!

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Carpets DO make sense

I used to think people from the UK made life way too hard on themselves. Coming from a country where most of the floors are wooden or tiled I couldn’t get my head around all the carpets. In a country where people tend to wear shoes inside and it rains A LOT it seems absolutely mad to have carpets on all the floors. I felt so bad for people having to drag a hoover around, even up and down stairs! Since I moved here however, I have learned most people do not wear their shoes inside. I have also learned about the cost of heating. I have therefore accepted the extra exercise while cleaning and seen the practical side of carpets. They keep it a bit warmer.

Things concerning children are expensive

Most things in the UK are cheaper than back home. If you see a delirious, dehydrated and exhausted person carrying 4 big bags from Primark, 2 from H&M and 3 from Tesco, you have most likely run into an Icelander that is making the most of a short visit to the UK. To my surprise things concerning children (other than clothes) are just as expensive and in some cases more expensive than in Iceland.

We brought an Icelandic au-pair over with us as we simply cannot afford the childcare in England. The average day nursery costs 232 pounds a week for 50 hours! In Iceland I would pay less for a full month in nursery, it would cost me around 195 pounds a month for 40 hours a week. Included in that price the children have breakfast, a healthy hot lunch and an afternoon snack. In each class we have at least one member off staff with a Masters degree (5 years in university) in childminding, teaching or upbringing etc.

Our au-pair is also a lot more than just a childminder. She helps us with things around the house, makes sure we as a couple get date nights and is simply a great addition to the family!

School meals over here are around the same price as back home. I find this mind boggling as I know for a fact that all the ingredients are cheaper, and the labour is cheaper. It might stem from governmental support though, maybe schools in Iceland get more support in this area than UK ones.

My kids have to take the bus to school as we live quite a distance from their school. Each week we pay 6 pounds per child which adds up to 12 pounds a week. In Iceland we would be paying 9 pounds for the same.

As I say I just find all this surprising as almost everything else is more expensive in Iceland, considerably more! Beer on draft for an example is a whopping 7 pounds!

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Utility bills are your currency for most things

With everything you may need to apply for or need to set up you will be asked for a proof of address. That proof of address is a utility bill which is an electric bill, gas bill, water bill etc. It amazed me how important it is to drag an old bill around. I had to do this to open up a bank account and to get a phone and phone number. This is something I am not used to back home as one is registered to a certain address and that is in a database companies can access, and to be fair where you live just doesn’t seem as important to companies there. They just want to make sure you are who you say you are.

Due to this we hit a massive hurdle when we were applying for schools for our kids. We knew which area we wanted to live in but couldn’t start applying until we had a house. We started renting our house in March but by then all schools were full, the councils website told us they had been filled by January. Nonetheless we applied to 10 schools and with the application we needed to send a utility bill, which we didn’t yet have as we still lived in Iceland! What a mess!

Bureaucracy

The utility bill is just one example of the bureaucracy in England. In Iceland most things are done online and usually you can do them from the comfort of your own home. In England one seems to have to get actual documents, fill them out (block capital letters please so the people receiving them can read them…. Oh, wouldn’t it be easier to receive a typed document via the internet?), sign them and send.

One has to jump through ridiculous hoops as well. For an example while applying for schools for the kids we had to provide the application itself (of course), birth certificates (Ok, I understand that one), copy of their passports and mine (don’t see why as the birth certificate should have given all the details needed), proof of address in England (understood due to priority being given to the children living in the schools area), proof of baptism (as most of them were religious schools), signed papers from their (at the time) current school saying they know that they are leaving. Last but not least a letter from our landlord in Iceland stating that we are actually moving! (This one is so far beyond my understanding that I can’t comprehend it! As ANYONE would fill all those forms out and send them just for the fun of it, having no intent of moving, but for some odd reason is renting an empty house in England!?).

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I am international when it suits

It’s a little frustrating that Iceland is not in the EU, it is however in the EEA. This allows Icelanders to move within Europe as freely as EU members, we do not need visas and all the same rules and laws apply to us as EU members. Except when it comes university tuition fees! Even the school itself told me I did not have to attend a gathering for international students as I wasn’t one. I replied with: “Huh, that’s weird as I pay as one!”. I got the explanation it was to cover police, visas and the general system here. It’s a surprising contradiction and, to be honest, I seem to be international when it suits.

Wasps live forever!

…or so it seems. This section is only here as I HATE them! Back home I wait for the first overnight frost and after that I know they are all gone. That happened over a month ago! The flying bastards are still hovering around here. We even got a pest control expert over this week to get rid of 2 nests as we have had quite a few inside our house and one morning this week I counted 23 of them on my bathroom window (the outside of it, thank god!).

Hosepipe ban is a thing!

I had never heard of this, but it makes complete sense!! When it is hot and dry for a while the government may issue a hosepipe ban. The ban is supposed to save water in these circumstances.

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Bin days are something to be excited about

In my neck of the woods the bin people come up to the house, get the bin, empty it into the bin truck and then bring it back. Therefore, I never paid attention to when they came. Over here it is different. One has to put the correct bin out by the side of the road. My fiancé gets very excited when it’s getting close to bin day, thinks out loud whether it is general waste or the recycling bin (he only really knows after having a look at what the neighbours are putting out). He then makes sure to tell me loud and clear “It’s bin day tomorrow! It’s the grey one/green one!”. Like I really need to know so I can run out with the emergency recyclables (or general rubbish) I have been hiding away!

People don’t say what they mean

I am quite straight forward, and I believe Icelanders can come across rather direct. They generally say what they mean and mean what they say. However, I have learned that people in England tend to be a little passive aggressive in their ways or say something completely opposite to what they think just so they don’t offend anyone, and to avoid coming across as rude (God forbid!). For example, I have noticed that people can moan and complain about their food at a restaurant and even pick the service apart, but once someone comes over and asks how everything is everyone replies in perfect harmony: “Lovely, thank you”.

Coffee vs. tea

When English people visit Iceland and ask for tea rather that coffee they are faced with a dusty box, dragged from the back of a cupboard, fruit flavoured and an awkward Icelander who tells them to mix it themselves as we usually have coffee and are not entirely sure how to make a proper cuppa. Now that I live in the land of tea I see the opposite. When I ask for coffee I am faced with a host that looks like a deer in headlights. Very often instant coffee is pulled from the cupboards and apologies are made for it probably being to strong or weak. I find it amusing and can relate 100% and therefore smile and am just thankful to get some caffeine.

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All these different things are, in their quirky ways, a part of what makes England what it is. Most of it I love and other things I have learned to live with as one has to adapt when moving to a new country. I had a few more things on my list but I will save them for another time. But “this has been lovely, thank you”.

 

 

Motivation is the key to success!

I went for a job interview the other day where I had to fill out a form. On the form was a question that read: How do you motivate yourself? Underneath the question was a really small box where I could hardly fit my name let alone all the ways I use to motivate myself.

After the interview the question kept coming back to me as I had never really thought about what keeps me going or what I do to keep focused.

As I lead a varied, even sometimes a hectic life where I have to juggle many balls at once I can often hit a wall. The wall can seem so big that is can seem impossible to get over it with everything that is going on. There are, however, a few things I do to overcome these hurdles.

Number one:

Plan, plan, plan and plan. It may sound dull but once I have things mapped out I can see that they are do-able. It helps me unclutter and prioritise. As I have a fairly big family to run there are many things that need to be considered. For this I use a few methods:

The Huge Calendar:

I put things the whole family needs to know on this. When people are coming to visit, when the older kids go to see their dads, football practices, my big school assignments and to remember to get money out for the kids’ school bus (We use to forget this and have to rush last minute every week to get the money out). I put the Huge Calendar up on a wall where the whole family can see it and the kids take turns in crossing out the days as they pass. I always hang up the current month and below it I put the coming month as nothing is worse than realizing last minute something is about to happen. This way we always have an overview of the coming weeks and everyone in the home knows what is happening and when. Each person even has their own colour!

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My Diary:

My diary contains most of the things that are on the Huge Calendar. It also has all the reading I have to do and assignments, small and big. It also has all the personal “mummy stuff” in it like: Renew passports for such and such, book trains etc. I highlight each thing I have finished. I LOVE highlighting stuff! It gives me such pleasure to be able to tick things off!

Menus:

A busy home means little time. When you have many mouths to feed you start dreading the daily question of: “What’s for dinner?”. I solved this by sitting the family down and getting everyone to brainstorm what to have for dinner for the next 2 weeks. This way everyone gets something they like, and I always know what’s for dinner and it spares me headache and angst! It also saves a lot of money as one doesn’t have to go to the store as often. Sometimes we reuse old menus and sometimes I get my cooking books out to get some new, fresh ideas as it is easy to get stuck in a rut regarding this.

The Envelopes:

Due to security, I am told this is not something one does in the UK, so we have worked out a safer way of doing this over here. In Iceland we used an envelope system. This system was applied to our finances. We were both working low paid jobs and didn’t have much left at the end of each month. By using this system, we managed to do things we wouldn’t have dreamt off before. We had envelopes marked “Week 1”, “Week 2”, “Week 3” and “Week 4”. In each one we put money for grocery shopping for the relevant week, usually a big shop in the first week, smaller in 2 and 3 and then a fairly big in week 4. We also had separate envelopes for “Petrol”, “Bits and bobs” (when we had to nip to the shop for a loaf of bread or milk etc.). Last but not least the envelope called “Live a little” in which we put a little bit aside to be able to go to the movies with the kids, go out as a couple for a meal etc. It is really important to budget for some fun as well, other wise the whole system goes out of the window as it is easy to give up when budgeting if there is no fun involved.

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Goals:

As planning the mundane and day to day stuff is not fun on its own I also make a list of things I want to achieve that year (usually based around the academic year as I have gotten use to working around that in the last three years). One of the years this list had things like: Try out all the swimming pools in the Reykjavík area (I did not get to check that one out as there were more of them than I realized), go to Tenerife (we managed that, even saved up for it using the envelopes!), cook new food once a week (mostly achieved), travel around Iceland (we did it in 27 hours and therefore didn’t stop much, but still, around we went!) and so on! Making that list was fun. Having to think of fun things to do throughout the year, for me and my fiancé, for all of us as a family and for myself. It is so important when life is busy and feels like all you do is eat, sleep, work to have things to look forward to and to have goals, even though they are not bigger than trying out new swimming pools or cooking something you haven’t cooked before.

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Number two:

As you can see above visual motivation in the form of crossing things out of lists gives me pleasure. At one point in my studies life was quite hard. I had a big load of assignments at school, my fiancé was battling severe depression and anxiety, I was working a lot and the kids were a little more demanding than usual (as they seem to be when everything else is). I was about to throw in the towel and quit school. I thought I could not do it and it seemed to be such a big task. Thankfully, I took some time and thought about it and rather than giving up I found way to motivate myself.

Sort of a list but not really:

I printed out a list of all the courses I had to finish to get my bachelor’s degree. I put each term separately into an Excel sheet. This included the name of each course and how many credits I would get for it. Some I had already finished. Then I took a highlighting pen (as I love that pen!) and highlighted what I had finished already, which was about one term and then some. It was so empowering to see the courses I HAD finished, the credits I had already earned, and no one could take them away from me. It made me want to keep going. I had this on a wall above my desk and every time I sighed or thought about giving up I looked up and thought “No, you can do this, you can’t give up now, just see how far you have come!”. Every time I finished a course I highlighted it until all of a sudden it was all done!

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Inspirational quotes:

I decided I needed something more to inspire me. I looked online and through an ocean of quotes and eventually I found 3 quotes that suited me. There were many good ones and many that made me feel all warm inside, smile or giggle but after a bit of research I choose the following: ,,If you can dream it, you can do it”, “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough” and “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t”. Here I was working on my self-doubt as previously discussed, and as I am a big dreamer, I can get a little lost in my dreams but then disregard them as just that, dream. I needed to remind myself that in fact I could and would make them a reality.

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Number three:

On top of all that I kept reminding me how far I had come and why (which you know all about due to the blog I posted last time, if not, click here).

I have gone through so much in my life and I had to grow up quickly. I have often had to rely on myself and just pull through. I was only 17 years old when I decided not to let other people or events define me. Things happened that were out of my control, but when I turned 17 I decided to take control of my life and from then on be responsible for where it would take me. I did loads of very spontaneous things in the years to come and many stupid things, but I don’t regret any of them as they shaped the person I am today. Even after difficult times I have gained some experience and usually had some fun along the way.

The hurt little girl, rejected teenager, the single mum, the divorcée etc. has come out on the other side and will only keep climbing that wall, even though it is cliché: The sky is the limit!

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