Tabby kerwin

#createmyhappy

possibility, productivity & performance

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#createmyhappy... in words!

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By tabbykerwin, Oct 5 2019 07:23AM

It’s a while since I’ve written properly and I remembered today that I need it as my therapy and counsel and being honest about my experiences with mental health and grief is so important for me and maybe it can be someone else’s self-help manual.


So, I’m writing my way out of a slump.


Not an anxiety ridden, black hole of sadness type slump; I’m not in that place, because actually life is pretty productive and good right now.


It’s more of a temporary ‘whilst everything is good in some ways, I just feel nothing and lying on the sofa with the cat is way more appealing’ type slump.


… and that’s the thing; quite a lot of the time during September I’ve just felt ‘nothing’. No feelings, opinions or cares; I just function. I function pretty well to be fair and this feeling never lasts full days, just an odd few minutes or maybe an hour or two.


But I’ve decided it’s pretty OK to feel this way. After all, what’s the saying? ‘it’s OK to not be OK’ and that’s 100% true, but we have the choice to do something about that and how we feel and I do make that choice, every day. Because this is a daily choice and something you have to work on every single day.


So, after a Summer of fun, why has September left me feeling so ‘meh’?


I’ve got a great grasp on my mental health these days and I’m mentally very fit and strong, but I’ll be honest, 11 months since Simon died, grief is trying to hit me round the head with a flipping huge baseball bat every day right now and it’s leaving me battered and exhausted.


Why now you fucker? (Excuse the sweary language, but you know, this is life and reality and I’m not always that good in real life of leaving out the expletives and I’m trying to keep this real!)


I’ll tell you why, because grief is ALWAYS there, it never goes away, you just choose to embrace it or be overwhelmed by it and I choose to embrace it. But like an annoying child (not mine, he’s quite cool), some days it can be really demanding and distracting.


But the issue is not grief itself, but how other people deal with your grief. After 10 months of doing just fine and good, it’s seemingly not acceptable to then suddenly be struggling because other people don’t know how to respond. Their best responses being ‘oh, I thought you were doing OK’ or ‘it’s been nearly a year now, shouldn’t you be over it’ (don’t get me started… that’s a whole other blog for another day). In fact, I’ll be honest with you, the level of acceptance from many people expires come the funeral; once that’s over and everyone moves on with their lives, you’re expected to ‘crack on’ – but all you are is stuck or lost whilst the world moves along around you.


Over the last 11 months life has moved along quite well in all honesty; I’ve made it about experiences, living life and doing what makes me happy, putting myself first along the way.


However, what has been harder to muster enthusiasm for has been work and business; the business Simon and I set-up together. Our “baby” if you like. But I did. After a great chat with a friend I felt so inspired again to work and got back into it and instantly started achieving some great things after many months of coasting and doing the MEDs; minimum effective dose.


I had a reason to function every day workwise and a productive plan and getting my work game back on was brilliant, creative and fun. For the first time I felt like I could go it alone with the business, with the support of some rather epic people who are coming on board with their many talents.


But it was a double-edged sword…It’s great to feel fully functioning workwise again and it’s been one hell of a week of creating valuable content and achieving, but it made me feel so lonely and lost…cue the slump…


Why? well, let’s get something straight, I’m not lonely, far from it, I have great friends (thank goodness because family is not my thing and mostly they couldn’t care less about me) and I actually am genuinely quite OK with the single lifestyle (which is a great thing as that’s definitely not changing any year soon! No, it is not ‘time to move on’ as suggested by some… again, another blog for another day!).


It’s that feeling of being alone in what I do that’s hitting me hard. Not having the person there who gave me confidence to do things, who was my champion, my supporter in everything good and bad, the person who shared it all with me, who listened, who kissed and hugged me when I had a great idea, and kissed and hugged me when I had an equally shit one and advised it might not work out!


I’m alone without my ‘person’ – he is irreplaceable, and that is so hard and seems to be hitting harder the longer time goes on, but the longer it goes on, the more seemingly unacceptable it is to feel that way, so you just crack on with it all regardless. Put the smile on, leave the emotions packed away and feel…nothing.


That’s why I’ve decided it’s perfectly OK to feel that way when you’re at home alone and by allowing myself that ‘nothing’ time some days, OK most days when I’m home alone (which is, err, every day!), the slumps and sadness and episodes are much shorter lived by having ‘nothing’ time than if I try to fight them.


I also know that whilst Simon was my person who gave me confidence and support and love, he actually left me with all the skills to do that for myself without him being physically there. I realised that when he was ill and I didn’t spiral into a deep anxiety ridden depression but got stronger and stronger. I can be my own champion and be proud of myself. I just have to remind myself of that every moment of every day, trust it, live it and have the confidence in myself and what I do and NOT let the opinions of others, be it personally or professionally, get to me. I know where that path leads to and I’m not in that place nor have any plans to be. It’s an ongoing maintenance plan though.


Grief is a funny thing. One moment you can be absolutely fine, 30 seconds later you can be in uncontrollable tears and 90 seconds after that you’re great and laughing again. This actually happened a few weeks ago when I was out walking. The feeling was overwhelming of breathlessness and tears, but literally 90 seconds later it was fine again. I just went with it and let it do its thing. It’s weird, it’s unexplainable, it’s unique to every individual and often it’s in public! There is no right or wrong or timescale to grief… it’s yours to own and embrace. But you have to make that choice to embrace it. I’m making that choice, irrespective of how hard it is. I can do hard, even by myself.


I am in no doubts that the next few weeks are going to be horrendously tough though, but I’m braced and ready. On the 19th October, it will be 12 months since the last time Simon and I spoke; the day he thought he was coming home after fighting another infection, but in fact he ended up in ICU, where he stayed for 3 weeks. I thought about handling this through a lot of drinking, mindless chat and 80s power ballads. I have since re-assessed this and decided a lot of drink is not the answer as the hangover is way worse than anything else I may feel and alcohol is rarely the answer (I say this after a recent drinking experience where I let loose and learned valuable lessons… there will be no repeats; I think that was the blow out I needed! Hanks to those who were a part of it and sorry to those that saw the rough looking aftermath… that was not grief you saw… it was tears of hangover!).


Then I have to tackle my birthday on the 22nd October. The last two have been utter shite… two years ago I celebrated my 40th with a great weekend with friends, but at that time I was faking it (albeit badly) and spiralling into a horrendous anxiety ridden black hole that lasted 5 months and left me feeling number and…nothing. Aside from the tears and sadness of having my cat put down the day after my birthday. Bizarrely, that slump started in September too.


Last year’s birthday sucked big style. Simon was in ICU in a coma, my heart was breaking and it was the day I told the world of Simon’s illness and the current state of play asking for all the positive vibes; it was hell as only a very few people knew until then. Birthday greetings were replaced with messages of upset, fear and helplessness.


This year I will be a 42-year-old widow (f*cking hate that word: again, another blog for another day) and single parent who also treats their cat like a human! She is, deal with it! I will definitely spend my birthday alone and doing what I need and want… which will most likely include that much needed ‘nothing’ time and a bloody great massage from Laura at Le Petit Spa who has magic hands.


Then, in a few weeks on 7th November, it will be the first anniversary of Simon’s death. How the hell did that come round so fast, yet feel so long ago that he was sat here with me joking? It’s hard to compute. But I’m determined to not be sad to the point it breaks me. I will be sad every day, but every day I will choose to do good too and be productive. I will turn sad days into positive ones. I will celebrate Simon’s life with friends and release a CD of his musical legacy to live on forever and raise funds for a fantastic cause of The Bexley Wing where Simon was treated.


What I do know is that I will have sadness every day for the rest of my life. However, the thing people forget about sadness and grief, is that they can very happily co-exist with possibility, productivity, performance and good if you let them, and I both let them and actively encourage them to co-exist with me every day.


Most of all, I’ll continue to be honest and open and kind to myself and with others. I know that my coping mechanisms of writing and starting awkward conversations can help others going through things and for those who don’t understand that and want to judge or criticise me for that, or for talking about Simon and keeping his memory alive (and no, this does not mean I’m un-hinged or struggling) then I’m genuinely pleased you’ve never had to go through something so traumatic that means you can’t empathise with me or my words, but when there comes a day that you can and you don’t judge me anymore, I really hope my words and honesty can resonate with and support you too.


In the meantime, you’ll find me living my life, striving for improvement, taking every experience that fills me with joy, talking and writing to help others and having quite a bit of ‘nothing’ time to keep my head in check.


Much love

Tabby xxx

#createmyhappy


PS: Just by writing this the slump has gone. Writing worked! Thanks for reading.




By tabbykerwin, Jun 13 2019 08:41AM


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." ‘The Man in the Arena’ – Theodore Roosevelt (23rd April 1910)


‘The Man in the Arena’ was to become one of former US President Roosevelt’s most famous speeches and it still resonates as much today as it did when he gave it in 1910.


But for me, it has resonated more, both personally and professionally, in the last few weeks than it ever previously has done.


Let me break it down as to why…


In the past few weeks I’ve been commented on behind my back (yes, it always filters back!) as not coping, crazy and some other rather more critical phrases following the death of my husband Simon just seven months ago.


This has been born out of the fact that, quite often, on social media I will post pictures, memories and thoughts of Simon, grief and my life and work, which revolves so much around Simon, being as we set-up our business together and one of the businesses, our publishing house, solely hinges on his musical legacy and work.


Sometimes, these are also more than once a day… oh the shame!


But here’s the thing…and I don’t expect half of you to understand, but try, or at least empathise if you can’t understand.


This does not mean I’m struggling, crazy, in need of help, incapable of doing my professional jobs, or anything else you might like to say… It means I am embracing grief, not being overwhelmed by it and choosing happiness.


Likewise, if you comment on something and it displays a lack of kindness or subtlety, I will be quite defensive (and slightly sarcastic!); again, not because I’ve lost the plot, but purely because I won’t tolerate unkindness, humiliation or bullying from anyone. Surely that’s not exclusive to someone living or in others’ words ‘struggling’ with grief?


I currently have around 1726 Facebook friends (give or take as my honesty loses and gains people along the way or I get rid of a few!) and when I post on social media I do not do so expecting a response from anybody; I do it because it is my right, right for me, my life and my honesty and often it resonates with many who choose to contact me privately. For me, it is not about public ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’


Of those approximately 1726 people I can count on two hands the number who check-in with me regularly as real friends to see how I am.


A vast majority of those 1726 know me from many years ago. Those I know from school and university years know me… anybody who has been my real friend over the last 18 months knows me… anyone who is basing their knowledge of me from about 2005 to 2018 does not know the real me... honestly, you really don’t! They know someone who was steeped in anxiety and living in a very dark place in their mind. Someone who went to some really difficult places but all the time was hiding it from you.


But the person who stands here writing today is the happiest version of myself even when I’m living with grief.


How and why?


I’ve not been afraid to seek advice and learn and change and to share my story with others.


Simon saved me when we were friends and then married. He gave me the self-confidence and skills to be me, to not worry about other people’s opinions, to strive to always learn, develop and change. He taught me to be honest and that showing my vulnerabilities is OK. It was really only once he died that I realised what he’d done for me. He’d made me focus on myself to get strong. Strong enough to deal with anything, including grief. He gave me the ultimate gift of giving me myself back.


That’s why now I’m dedicated to putting myself and mental health awareness ahead of everything I do in my personal and professional life. Kindness costs nothing, but it changes everything. If I’m writing, working with clients, running events, mentoring, teaching, conducting or adjudicating it all comes from a place where my own and others’ mental wellbeing comes first and the words come from a place of kindness.


I am proud to be me, to be honest about my thoughts, emotions, successes and vulnerabilities and so I will share these thoughts and feelings, and if my story resonates with just one person, then it is a story worth sharing.


But vulnerability is only vulnerability when it has boundaries, hence most of you will never know everything about me or what’s going on in my life.


Talking about grief is a taboo subject; it shouldn’t be.


Talking about mental health is a taboo subject; it shouldn’t be.


I refuse to let them be taboo anymore and I will share my experiences to show that whilst anxiety, grief and other mental wellbeing issues are the worst things in your life, they can help you be the best version of you in your life.


If you want to comment on me and my mental status (or anyone else as the same applies to anyone whose social media feed you might follow), talk TO me, not ABOUT me. If you’re genuinely concerned for my welfare message me. Ask me HOW I am, find out WHO I am and then you’ll actually see I’m really good and posting about Simon is a celebration and a strength, and not a sign of weakness and craziness. Don’t judge me on your assumption of the person you think you know. I have changed; I am continually changing and I’m using my personal experiences to live my life and develop my professional life.


I am the man in the arena.


… and we can all be the man in the arena if we are vulnerable, honest and brave and I will treat you as the ‘doer of deeds’ also.


Much Love

Tabby xxx








Whit Friday Marches with my lovely friend Kathryn... in the rain!
Whit Friday Marches with my lovely friend Kathryn... in the rain!

By tabbykerwin, May 16 2019 08:05AM

This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and this year the focus is on body image. I don't know about you, but I have had a constant internal battle with my body image; my perception of my own image, my desires for something different, my understanding of how people see me and my realisation of how no-one actually cares. There is only really YOU judging you.


I originally penned this blog 12 months ago and since then, I've cared for Simon with cancer, embraced grief following his death, piled on more weight, stopped focussing on me, started to lapse into being appalled by my own body, even though I was staying fit and training for the London Marathon and starting to concern myself with what others might think of my body image.


On Boxing Day 2018, just 6 weeks after Simon died, I started doing the right things again for my body. But I'll be honest, up until a few weeks ago, whilst I'd lost around 7 inches around my waist and a bit of weight, marathon training was hard and I hate the photos of me from that day. So, the day after the London Marathon, I vowed to myself to take on my biggest challenge yet; It is 'Challenge Me.' I'm putting myself, my welfare, my wellbeing, my health, my fitness ahead of everything because making myself strong makes me stronger for my son, others and my business and a few weeks in I'm seeing and feeling changes and back to being able to look in a mirror and find something positive each day.


But then I remembered what I already knew and had written about previously.... no-one actually cares and their opinions on my body image don't concern me. It just took a gentle shove and putting myseld first to remind me and for goodness sake, I ran a marathon last month so it's just another thing to be grateful tor my body for.


So, embrace your body image; it is unique and yours and marvelous and put yourself first to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy and start being grateful for all your body gets you through.


Enjoy the read...


****************


Are you sick of lacking self-confidence?


Do you constantly worry that people are looking and judging you based on your size, shape, weight or fashion choices?


It’s crippling isn’t it? The anxiety and worry of what other people think about you or what they might be saying?


I’ve never been ‘skinny mini’ and the weight / size battle has been a constant one throughout my life. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t conscious of it and when it gets to Summer, well, that’s just a whole host of extra emotional baggage to deal with when it comes to considering wearing a swimsuit in public!


I, like many others I know have worked their way through the plethora of diets, advice and scientific surveys which tell you how to be thinner and I’ve listened to doctors babble on TV about BMIs and an early death if you don’t lose weight and had PTs shout at me daily for not losing weight, but you know what, if you weren’t sad enough about how you felt before, they all make you feel a whole lot worse due to the stress of trying to conform to the medical and social idyll. If your confidence wasn’t shot before, it sure as hell is now!


However, I had a eureka moment recently and it happened when I was in at a spa in Italy. Preparing to go, I went into the usual internal, personal meltdown of wanting to cover up because I was ashamed of my body (and not happy how I looked… ever …. wearing anything … and in honesty the end of 2017 was so flipping horrid I’d managed to pile a nice stash of weight on…FFS! Cue feeling even more miserable about myself!), but I got my sh*t together and off we went to the spa.


It was a gorgeous day and lots of people were lying around the outdoor thermal pools. I went to the changing room, got changed, felt unbearably self-conscious as ever, covered up my lower half with a sarong (jeez I hate my legs!) and headed to the poolside.


There’s something about being in Italy that always makes me feel happy, content and tranquil and the sunshine always helps with this. Maybe not just the sunshine but the gallons of water I actually drink when I’m there because it’s so warm! That’s just a healthier thing to do. Anyway, I digress. I popped in and out of pools being very self-aware and conscious of my body and size until it suddenly occurred to me that absolutely no-one was looking at me, no-one cared what size I was, there were so many people of all shapes and sizes just enjoying themselves, smiling at each other and chatting and that was it. The only person worried about what I looked like was me, that’s it, only me. No-one else had an interest at all.


This got me thinking, all this time I’ve been so hung up on what others think of me and worried they’re commenting on me, who I am and what I do and actually they’re really not that interested in me at all (apart from the actual nasty, hurtful people who are commenting and judging but they’re a whole other petty breed of people I need never to worry about because they’re still doing the same things, the same way whilst my life has moved on for the better and happier… but that’s another story for another day!).


This was a massive moment for me; the realisation the only person holding me back from being happy and healthy was me because I was so sure I was being judged by either people I know or strangers or those trying to make us conform to being the same size of skinny to tick the ‘this is what height and weight ratio you should be or you’re failing at life’ box.


The difference this realisation has made is huge. It’s made me happier because I’m not trying to compete or be something I’m not, I’m not continually feeling like a failure because I don’t lose weight and I’m not wasting time and energy worrying about something that doesn’t concern me at all ie. the opinion of others.


What it has made me do is reduce stress, take it easier on myself, make me happier and healthier because now I focus on a balance of getting fitter and eating and drinking the things I love (glass of red anyone?). It’s also made me not care about what size a label says and enjoy wearing something that makes me feel confident rather than stressing it’s not a size 10!


This has also extended to my confidence in my work too. Whilst I’ve been successful and constantly developing for a long time, I’ve been fighting demons of how other people judge me and what I do, and how they comment on it both publicly and behind my back has been both hurtful and crippling, making me suffer with stress, anxiety and worse (and yes, many of them actually were commenting…publicly… it wasn’t always in my head); but not anymore. That one small realisation that day at that spa and developing those positive thoughts has given me a whole new happier and healthier mindset to develop and flourish and most of all, have confidence in myself and what I am capable of.


Moral of the story? No one cares, other people’s opinions don’t concern you and if they are talking about you it’s usually out of jealousy or boredom. Love what you do and how you do it and most importantly, love yourself; if you can’t do that, how can anyone else?


Get your mindset right on this and you’ll be on a solid path to happiness.


Much Love

Tabby xxx


#createmyhappy



Summer 2017 in Italy... one of my happiest and most confident
Summer 2017 in Italy... one of my happiest and most confident
Our honeymoon Part 1 in May 2016 when I felt happy in the sun
Our honeymoon Part 1 in May 2016 when I felt happy in the sun
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