This is the picture of the brownie that I didn’t post last week.. I just had to share. I’ve thought about it (the brownie) a lot since last week. I may have to go back for another.

Anyhow, the reason for including the picture of said brownie, is that it signified more than just the caramelly chocolately amazingness that it was… I was in a coffee shop by myself.

It’s not that long ago that I couldn’t have contemplated going out for coffee by myself. What would have been the point? (Not in the ‘I can make coffee cheaper at home’ sense, but in the ‘who would I talk to’ sense). And also, would people stare at me, or think I had no one to have coffee with?

Coffee is the international word for ‘company’.. I think.

I like company. almost as much as I like coffee. In fact I have, on several occasions over the last year, contemplated buying a coffee shop, just to combine my love of people and coffee beans… For me to go to a coffee shop alone was a big thing. Growing up I was always the chatty one. In groups, I fill silences; include the quiet ones; I chat…I cannot be quiet. I have tried, but I always end up worrying that the people I am with will think there is something wrong (not necessarily with me, but perhaps with them). I remember a friend of mine who,, as a teenager would have quite happily gone to the cinema by herself. I could never understand why you would do that (enjoying or needing company as I did), but also I would have worried what others would have thought.

But now that I am 40 I am perfectly content in my own skin. When I think about it, the children broke me in to this, as it was acceptable to be in a coffee shop with no other adults but with one or two children. But now.. I can do it alone. I’m not bothered what people think, primarily because I know no one cares, and even if they do, I don’t care what they think*. how enlightening! In fact it was so therapeutic to have the silence amidst the hustle of all that was going on around me. I felt as though I had treated myself to a stolen hour; that no one noticed me and that I wasn’t required to smile or tell funny stories – not that i didn’t want to, but because its ok not to. It’s ok to enjoy your own company.

* I’m not sure why I was so worried about what people might think of me drinking coffee alone… there are so many other far more interesting and nuts things that I’ve done in my life that people could have had opinions on (!).

We were at a wedding party on Saturday night. It was a perfect location, in a marquee slap bang in the middle of a barley field. A balmy night with fab live music.. and then a dj in the wee small hours. I found myself completely content to do the casper slide alone on the dance floor (its ok, i’m not that confident..! I mean alone as in my hubby left me at the ‘criss cross’ bit and I stayed on to finish as I was having such a laugh. There were others on the floor of course; I just didn’t know them). I just love dancing and used to line dance about 20 years ago when I was thin. I love that its coming back.. I need to get a bit fitter so that I can enjoy it again the way that I used to. You can be in a line, but alone in a line. and that’s amazing. Like laughter is a social thing (we rarely laugh alone), dancing is the same.

I had my epiphany this afternoon, realising that this shows how much I’ve ‘grown’.. you wouldn’t buy a car and not put petrol in it, or service it. But yet we expect our wee bodies and indeed our wee ‘selves’ to just cope. Some time thinking about your ‘self’ is important so that there are sufficiently strong enough roots to weather a storm.

One of the courses I’ve recently developed is ‘personal development’. It primarily focusses on leadership, team work and resilience but there is a significant module on self awareness and personal growth. The course is generic, but will be marketed to team workers who work with children in the first instance, and this is deliberate. You will recall if you are a regular reader, that I truly believe that as parents we need to have a strong sense of who we are, other than ‘parent’ in order to demonstrate for our children the need for them to do the same. The same is therefore clearly true of those who work closely with children, especially within daycare in which children spend a huge proportion of their time. Daycare staff have such an important role in children’s lives.

I know as in any profession, there are huge variances in the quality of staff, but parents should take comfort in the professional standards set by the authorities and rigorously checked by Early Years teams within the Health and Social Care Trusts. The current standards are described as the ‘minimum standards’ and indeed they are just that; the minimum that is acceptable practise. The minimum has however been raised so as to ensure that all settings are professionally led and managed and this, whilst an increasing pressure for settings, raises the professional status of their work right up, so they can uphold their organisation, business or setting with the best of the best in this country.

The personal development course will be listed on my website as soon as I manage to work out how to do it.

(I’m busy watching you tube videos of line dancing and expecting that to be the clincher… when its the ‘breathless before 1min 50 of Footloose’ that is the real issue. Maybe I should skip the brownie next time…?)



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