Tweens, Teens & Beyond #43

Tweens, Teens & Beyond #43

Good Morning and thank you for joining Sharon at After The Playground and Nicky at Not Just The Three of Us and I for another week of Tweens, Teens & Beyond.

We hope you all enjoyed a restful break over the Easter period and are looking forward to making the most of the sun that is promised later this week, it has certainly been a long time coming this year.

If you are new to our link-up this is a place to share your posts related to children who are in the secondary stage of schooling and beyond i.e. the tweens, teens and young adults as well as any stories related to midlife.

We look forward to reading your posts, in the meantime, don’t forget to spread the Linky love and share the posts you have enjoyed reading here.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar - if you need help message any of us and we will help you out.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome but not other linky's please) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts' posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list. (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

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Fabulous Females – Suhani Jalota

Fabulous Females – Suhani Jalota

There are some people in this world born to make a difference and my next Fabulous Females interviewee  is one of them.  At the tender age of 23, Suhani Jalota, the founder and CEO of the Myna Mahila Foundation has already achieved more than most do in a lifetime.

Living in the Western world there are many things as women we take for granted that others in less developed countries are denied.  One such item is the humble sanitary pad.

Menstruation is an unavoidable part of female life, but in India it is a taboo topic and girls and women are considered  impure, polluted and dirty during their periods.  As a result of the stigma and shame associated with menstruation, 320 million women in India do not have access to sanitary pads and this has far reaching hygiene complications.  For many of us worldwide not only is this scenario unbelievable but it is quite frankly untenable.

For the last six years, alongside schooling, Suhani has been working hands-on with women in Mumbai’s slums and in India’s rural communities to turn this situation around. The foundation provides access to menstrual hygiene information and products to more than 10,000 women every month at their doorstep.

This has brought Suhani worldwide acclaim and awards aplenty.  Notably but not exclusively, she is a Queen’s Young Leader 2017 representing India and the Myna Mahila Foundation is one of only seven charities chosen to benefit from donations marking the wedding between Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle.

Suhani Jalota, CEO, Myna Manila Foundation & Queen Elizabeth II

Suhani is an inspirational role model for our teens and young adults and sharing her story with my own teens provoked a period of stunned silence that comes from teens being in awe and an interesting debate.

It is difficult not to feel humbled by Suhani’s achievements to date and there is little doubt that she is a young woman to watch in the future. I hope you enjoy her story.

  • Who is your role model?

I owe a lot of what I have learnt, the way I think and approach challenges, and what I have done with Myna Mahila Foundation to my inspiration, idol, and mentor, Dr. Jockin Arputham. I met the women through him for the first time a couple years ago, and since then have observed, learnt and followed a lot of his ways of mobilizing communities and being able to get work done in the most unlikely situations. He has singlehandedly improved the lives of millions worldwide, and dreams of creating a world with less poverty and more beauty. I am here to complete this mission.

  • What motivates you?

Women’s potential. Women have so much potential that goes untouched, which could change the world. It shows how much can be done and what there is left to do!

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Be happy, nice and humble. Treat others the way you want to be treated!

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

Too many challenges – we don’t have an experienced team and the issue isn’t obvious to tackle. It took us a while to understand how to go about breaking down the problems to select the biggest pain point to tackle. These pain points also differ between communities. Where access to products was a problem, we started delivering at the door-step, but where affordability was a problem we started to incentivize saving schemes that could help them save for pads and invest in their own health.

  • What is your proudest moment?

On Women’s Day this year we launched our Sponsor A Girl campaign and invited 16 girls and their families to a workshop we were leading for the first time. It was a gamble for us, but we had been surveying girls for four months and had a list of 1,200 needy girls who needed support. After years of planning the survey, months of executing it, we saw the first pilot work at the event with the first cohort of girls to be given free menstrual hygiene kits. It was a special time for the whole team who saw their efforts in practice.

  • What motto do you live by?

No one motto. There are many I can resonate with, but won’t be married to them every day.

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Open yourself emotionally and let yourself be vulnerable! Its okay, things will work out, but you need to have some fun.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

My mother gives me the best advice. When nothing seems to work out and I am disappointed or dejected, she never consoles me. That was the time I needed to pull myself together and be stronger than ever before. She always said that life is all about responding to challenges, not the challenges themselves. And the power to decide how to respond is yours only.

  • How would your friends describe you?

Passionate, hyper, impatient, gullible, talkative, determined.

  • What makes you laugh out loud?

Talking Tom! (app)

  • What does being a modern woman mean to you?

Being modern connotes with confidence and defiance, although many women in the past shared those attributes as well. The only difference is that now more women are able to come out and speak their hearts out and show their true personalities. Still, millions of women face oppression to speak up, but had they been given the opportunity and the standing to speak up, they would have symbolized what an image of a modern woman stands for. A balanced woman who works at home and outside.

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Chocolate!

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Being around my parents and grandparents. They bring out the best in me and make me feel like the only princess in the world.

  • In your own words –  “A fabulous female is…..

…one who can inspire other women and men to change something in their world.”

 

If like me you are inspired by Suhani’s ambition and would like to follow her story further you can find her here:

Business: Myna Mahila Foundation

Twitter : @MynaMahila

 

Suhani’s Accolades & Achievements: She is compelled by women’s stories and has given a TEDx talk at Duke University, titled “How to repurpose activist energy to govern” about the women who stood up to take charge of their own lives. Most recently, she was involved in evaluation projects with IDinsight, an independent research organization, UNICEF and Department of Education in the Philippines for sanitation programs. In the past few years, Suhani has worked in the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and several cities in India. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Global Health from Duke University, Durham, USA. Her Economics Honors Thesis topic was looking at the effect of slum redevelopment on child health outcomes, particularly stunting, as rapid urbanization calls for policies that keep people healthy and safe.

At Duke University, she was a Baldwin Scholar, a women’s four year leadership program, and a Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurship Fellow 2016 to start the Myna Mahila Foundation. She was the Commencement Speaker at the Global Health Graduation Ceremony and has won and participated in several social entrepreneurship competitions, such as the mHealth @ Duke Shark tank competition, STEAM Challenge, Hult Prize Competition, and the Mass Accelerator Challenge. Her work with Myna has been featured in Glamour Magazine, TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Vogue and BBC, among others.

 

 

 

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Restoring Body Positivity with Cancer

Restoring Body Positivity with Cancer

What does body positivity mean to you?  At it’s most basic it’s about self-acceptance and self-care, but the way we view ourselves as individuals is embedded in a range of feelings, both physical and emotional, guaranteeing that no one view will be the same. Throw cancer into the mix and it becomes more complicated.

Personal injury of any kind whether due to an accident or an illness forces a “new normal”. Whilst this may seem obvious, what doesn’t is the inevitable challenge of how to embrace it.

We live in a world where external expressions of concern over our body image are frowned upon, especially in terms of the example we as parents set our children. It is not deemed acceptable anymore to talk about being disappointed with our looks lest it spark a series of obsessive body image issues with far reaching health consequences, in those who follow our example. Sometimes though this is easier said than done.  We are only human after all.

I confess to having had a love hate relationship with my body image over the years but particularly since the advent of the peri-menopause in my mid 40’s. I battled with the changes to my body but confronted them proactively with hormone therapy, exercise and an attempt at a positive mental attitude – albeit I admit not always successfully.

Then just when I thought I had the midlife changes sussed and I was feeling good about myself, along came the diagnosis that threw a spanner in the works and has forced me to revisit my relationship with my body all over again.

As a cancer patient you are constantly encouraged to ask questions about your proposed treatment even up until the last minute, when dressed in surgical stockings, pants and gown you meet the team in charge of creating your “new normal”.

Abdominal surgery of any kind is major.  There are a lot of crucial organs to navigate so it stands to reason that there will be some physical changes as a result, but nothing can fully prepare you for them and actually to be brutally honest if your surgical team elaborated on all the nitty gritty, ie the stuff you can’t find via Dr Google, it is likely you would either walk away or drive yourself mad thinking about the “what ifs”.

So what is the new normal? Well for me I have lost those parts that fully defined me as a woman, that not only helped to create but then go onto carry and nurture my teens during those all important formative stages of their lives.

How do I feel about that? Well I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel like an assault on my femininity but one thing I learnt early on in the treatment process is that there is no room for sentimentality. Aside from the ever ready box of tissues, “feelings” are relatively immaterial. It is all about the practicalities and getting on with the job in hand – i.e to fix you and hopefully to save you; after all as a cancer patient that is what you really want - to be saved.

As a 50 year old woman I had as my surgeon so delicately put it “no need for all that anymore” and my proposed surgery would not only deal with the current cancer crisis but also diminish my chances of a recurrence. Put like that I would have had to be mad not to sign on the dotted line.

Eight weeks on and I am in a much better place than the early days post surgery  when the focus was on pain relief and restoring a whole range of normal bodily functions that as a healthy individual you take for granted, but which the surgery disrupts.

At this point it is about rebuilding my strength and fitness, but not to the detriment of the healing process which as I am discovering daily, has its own agenda and won’t be rushed, so my parameters are still relatively limited as my cancer nurse keeps reminding me - walking yes but absolutely no Pilates, Barre or core exercises, which as a previously very active person is tough.

The other challenge at this stage is the perceptions of others. “You look so good, not like someone with cancer.”  What does someone with cancer look like exactly?  Well I suppose the archetypal image is of someone who has suffered not only weight loss but hair loss. But for every cancer sufferer that displays those outward signs there is one who doesn’t, whose cancer badge is not obvious to the naked eye.

One thing for sure,however, is whichever bracket you fall into, you are united in a battle to appear normal in whatever way you can. In the hospital waiting room there is an unspoken code of conduct between patients, a shared smile (sympathetic or otherwise,) a joke, a laugh or merely an acknowledgement that you are still here and doing “normal”.

But although you may appear normal on the outside and go through the motions with those around you, there is an omnipresent internal battle with your own view of what you are.  You aren’t the same as you were anymore, the old normal that you have lived with for years has gone.  Adapting to that takes time and therein lies the biggest challenge of all and one that no-one else can help you with.

Even without cancer no-one wants to stand out in a crowd - at least not for the wrong reasons anyway, so a huge part of feeling better with cancer is looking better. It’s not about vanity, it’s about restoring a positive body image and boosting your well-being along the way and if that is getting your nails done and donning something other than loungers, so be it.  It's about whatever works for you.

There are many positives on this unplanned journey, not least the fact that illness is great for reminding us just how tenacious we are as individuals. I am alone with my cancer among my friends and that is tough for them as well as me, because sympathy doesn’t equate to understanding, but they are there for me.  I am also lucky to have a husband with broad shoulders who reminds me during my occasional "poor me" rants of what lies beneath the body image i.e me.  Then there is the unswerving suppport of my mother who has herself survived cancer against all the odds and her strength and resilience and those of others I witness each time I visit the hospital, is something I strive to emulate.

So where to now?  Well my surgeon’s greeting of “how’s life?” is a pertinent reminder each time I see him that I am here and that is something to hold onto and be thankful for.

Developing a positive body image after cancer is a huge part of the recovery process and adjusting to this newly normal status is made a lot easier if your sense of yourself has a broader meaning and purpose. That can mean many things to many people but on a simplistic level the role of family, particularly children in this cannot be underestimated, neither can the importance of looking outward beyond the cancer and forwards to the future. Only that way can embracing and feeling positive about the "new normal" seem possible.

 

 

 

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Fabulous Females Interview – Clare La Terriere

Fabulous Females Interview – Clare La Terriere

Exercise is the cure to all our ills apparently and particularly if we are moving through the midlife barrier.  For my next Fabulous Female, exercise has been her salvation and she is now on a mission (quite literally) to convert as many as she can to her way of thinking.

Clare La Terriere is a formidable and inspirational force in the instagram exercise world.  At 57 she has the abs of someone half her age and my guilty pleasure is to start my day with a cup of coffee and a digestive (in bed) being inspired to get up and move by Clare.  She is a midlife force to be reckoned with.

We all approach midlife in different ways but I think it is safe to say that for many of us it presents many challenges and a downturn in mood and enthusiasm for life is universal to us all.  Clare wasn’t any different, except whilst many of us may give up or succumb to midlife beneath a cloud, Clare was determined not to let that drag her down and fought back with exercise.  Now she espouses the benefits not only of moving but HIIT as an easy and surefire way to manage your weight, boost your well-being and feel good about yourself – whatever your age.

Finding the inspiration to do something is always hard, particularly when it comes to exercise but I defy anyone to not be motivated by Clare.  Here is her story…

 

  • Who is your role model?

I don’t have anyone that naturally came to mind but this question really made me think! It has never occurred to me to have a role model in my life but I deeply admire individuals who have a goal no matter how silly or small and actually achieve it! (I’ve only got 4 more more years left of the 5 year date I set myself to appear on Strictly Come Dancing!)

  • What motivates you?

My head motivates me… my radio crazy telling me that I know I’m one step away from a short workout that will change my mindset for the whole day!

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

I value generosity in any shape or form and empathy.

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?

The ending of an 8 year relationship which I thought I would never recover from and the beginning of a newfound happiness and relationship with myself I didn’t know existed!

  • What is your proudest moment?

My daughter telling me I was her role model!

  • What motto do you live by?

You make your own happiness… you can never rely on other people for that!

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Exercise… if only I had started back then I could saved myself years of depression!

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

My identical twin once told me “you make your own happiness “ and I was like duh… why didn’t I think of that!

  • How would your friends describe you?

Funny, I seem to make people laugh..generous, kind and VERY sensitive!

  • What makes you laugh out loud? 

Oh god – I have such a weird sense of humour… such a difficult question.. anything and everything which frankly is a hopeless answer!

  • What would your autobiography be called?

Abs of steel and a heart of gold.

  • What does midlife mean to you?

It’s just the best time EVER… happy, confident, fit, healthy, in love!

  • What would be your desert island essential?

– FOAM ROLLER!  True….

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Exercise- I know people will roll their eyes at this answer but exercise has been, is and always will be my salvation!

In your own words… A fabulous female is

A woman who is obviously but discreetly confident and happy with herself.. to me that’s all that matters!

 

In Clare’s world there are no excuses for not exercising.  She is forever trying to find ways to make it seem more enticing and not something to dread.  If you are inspired take a look and see what I mean.

Business – Live In Fitness Retreat

Instagram – @liveinfitnessretreat

 

 

 

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Tweens, Teens & Beyond # 41

Tweens, Teens & Beyond # 41

Good Morning and welcome back to another week of Tweens, Teens & Beyond with Sharon, Nicky and I.

If you were anything like me you were probably confused by the weather at the end of last week.  Friday evening in our house we lapped up the evening sun in the garden with a chilled glass of vino; Saturday morning we dug out the snow boots and turned the heating back onto 24 hours.  Madness.

Anyway, our favourite post from last week was from the RevT’s wife Nikki aka Mrs Tubbs at Someplace Strange.  Nikki focused on the meaning of forgiveness and our ability to forgive.  As Nikki rightly said forgiveness takes on many shapes and guises, of ourselves as well as others.  From the look of the responses the overall feel was that Nikki’s comment box wasn’t a big enough space to tackle the topic.  It was certainly a thought provoking post and one well worth coming back to.  Do pop over for a read if you missed it.

Now onto this week. Please take some time to read the rules below if you are new to our linky or if you just need a reminder after the break. The most important thing is to share the linky love and remember to comment.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond  badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar – if you need help  message any of us and we will help you out.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome but not other linky’s please) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts’ posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond 
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list.  (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

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Fabulous Females Interview – Melinda Fargo

If you are a blogger, or you are over 40, or you live in East Anglia – or indeed if you are all of these – then my next Fabulous Females interview star will need little introduction.

Melinda Fargo is a freelance writer, blogger, former newspaper columnist for the UK’s largest regional newspaper, the EDP –  Editor-in-chief of online magazine Post-40 Bloggers, a photographer and public speaker. To pay the bills she is also a project management professional.

At the beginning of my blogging journey Mel’s blog was one of the first I fell in love with.  Not just because she wrote about subjects close to my heart but because she lived in my home county and wrote for the newspaper I had devoured not only as a child but also more recently as an adult.

Mel has faced her fair share of sadness and challenges in her life, but her indomitable spirit is paramount in her writing, as is her love and adoration for her children, all of which is interlaced with her unique humour.

In her own words  “A mother of four young adults, Melinda remains a widow, but will marry Denzel Washington after the sudden and unexpected disappearance of any of his wives.”  I rest my case!

What Mel Did - profile picture

  • Who is or was your role model?

My mother. She raised seven children and a husband on very little except the belief that it is education that opens doors, not money. We are now all professionals in varied fields.

  • What motivates you?

To be the woman my late husband, Bronson, married and believed in.

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Authenticity.

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

Losing my husband. Getting out of bed every day. Once that’s done, the hardest part is over.

  • What is your proudest moment?

Recently? Launching my greeting card business.

  • What motto do you live by?

 “Take note of who you are with, where you are or what you are doing when you feel like the best version of yourself.” I coined this phrase to prioritise my life and to give less time to those people, places and pursuits that didn’t serve me well.

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Beware adults who let you do what you want, when you want and with whom you want. These adults do not love you. The adults who hold you to account and discipline you are the ones who love you.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

“Do not let adversity be your excuse to fail; instead, let it be the reason you succeed.” A phrase I coined after watching how my mother raised us to face the world no matter how hard things got.

  • How would your friends describe you?

Loyal, passionate, funny… and mad.

  •  What makes you laugh out loud?

My children. If these people weren’t related to me, they are people I would choose to hang out with.

  • What would your autobiography be called?

“Where the Voices in my Head come to be Counted.”

  • What does being a modern midlife woman mean to you?

Staying open to adventure. Closing ourselves off from possibility is the fastest way to stagnate and become ‘old’ mentally.

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Denzel Washington.

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Family who feel like friends and friends who feel like family.  Apart from dear friends and family? Perfume. I can evoke a time, place or mood wearing the right fragrance. It is very hard to choose a Holy Grail fragrance, but Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle always springs to mind. Currently wearing 31 Rue de Cambon by Chanel to feel warm, sophisticated and cosy in this awful East of England weather we’re having at the moment.

  • In your own words – ” A fabulous female is….. 

One who doesn’t look to others to find out who she is.

I leave you with one of my favourite comments from Mel “As parents, we never know how happy we are until “the next thing,” and there is always the next thing. And have you noticed how the stakes seem to get higher every time? Stakes which make us wish for the last ‘difficult’ situation. Difficult we realise we can handle. Difficult, we understand now, was a bloody breeze.”

 

You can find Mel here:

Personal blog – What Mel Did

Online magazine – Post-40 Bloggers

Business – I Miss My Garden Greeting Cards

Twitter – @HerMelness

Instagram – @WhatMelDid

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Tweens, Teens & Beyond #40

Tweens, Teens & Beyond #40

Good Morning and welcome to a very special edition of Tweens, Teens & Beyond hosted by myself and fellow parent and midlife bloggers Sharon at After The Playground and Nicky at Not Just The Three of Us.!

Last week, March 7th to be precise was our first birthday.  It is hard to believe that we have been up and running now for a whole year but it has been one full of fond memories and an array of wonderful posts.  I know I speak for us all when I say how proud we are of the lovely community we have built up and we look forward to going from strength to strength over the coming year.

Our favourite post from last week's link-up was Kelly at Daydreams of A Mum, one of most loyal linkers here at Tweens, Teens & Beyond.  Kelly's post The teens have got this is a passionate defence not only of teens and their quest to be heard but a supportive pledge for the group of US students speaking out against guns and standing up to Trump in the wake of yet another shooting.  If you missed it pop back for a read and whilst you are there give it another tweet.

Now onto this week. Please take some time to read the rules below if you are new to our linky or if you just need a reminder after the break. The most important thing is to share the linky love and remember to comment.

Linky Rules

Please could you:

  • Grab the Tweens,Teens & Beyond  badge and add it to the bottom of your post or your side bar - if you need help  message any of us and we will help you out.
  • Link up one post, old or new (sponsored and review posts are welcome but not other linky's please) that relate to children over the age of 10 years (Tweens, Teens or young adult children) and midlife.
  • Tweet us @motherofteensuk, @DrSharonParry1 and @nickykentisbeer
  • Comment on the hosts' posts and AT LEAST one other of your choice using the linky hashtag #TweensTeensBeyond 
  • Share any posts that you love, we are all about sharing!

What we will do for you:

  • All three of us will comment on your post and share it on Twitter.
  • Your post will be pinned to the #TweensTeensBeyond Linky Pinterest Board
  • Each week, we will select our favourite post which will be featured on all of our sites and shared on Social Media
  • By entering the link you are agreeing to be added to the email reminder list.  (You can request to be removed at any time!)

 

Mother of Teenagers

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Tweens, Teens & Beyond Spring Round-Up

Tweens, Teens & Beyond Spring Round-Up

March is an important month in the Tweens, Teens & Beyond link-up calendar.  It is the month Sharon (After the Playground), Nicky (Not Just The Three of Us) and I pressed publish on our very first link-up - March 7th 2017 to be precise and breathed a collective sigh of relief.

It was always our intention to provide a forum for those who wanted to discuss and offer advice on the secondary stage of parenting teenagers and young adults as well as share opinions, thoughts and experiences that affect us all outside parenting into the midlife stage and beyond.

It is a niche area in the blogosphere for sure but we have been delighted with the response over the last year.  Yes there have been some drop-outs along the way but generally the link-up has gone from strength to strength.  We have a dedicated and loyal group of linkers who have been with us every step of the way; some who have joined us intermittently and others who are new to our weekly link-up.

I know I speak for all of three of us when I say we are proud of our community and value all the support we continue to receive from everyone who makes the time to come back each week, if not to link then at least to read and comment on the posts of others.

Nicky published our first round-up at the end of last year and it is our intention to make it a regular quarterly feature.  This first milestone birthday seems like the perfect opportunity to review what has been happening in the Tweens, Teens & Beyond community over the last few months and to pick out a few highlights.

  • Loyalty

"Loyalty is a privilege, not a right", is something I remind my teenagers of frequently and at Tweens, Teens, Beyond we are honoured to have such an extensive group of loyal linkers, some of whom join us every week without fail.

Top among these is Mary at Maryoms Thoughts who never ceases to amaze us with her tireless enthusiasm for life.  Mary really embodies the mantra of living life to the full and constantly regales us with her midlife adventures, which are testimony to the fact that we are never too old.

Kelly at Daydreams of a Mum, is a courageous young woman who left an abusive relationship to bring up her children alone. Kelly's stories never fail to touch a chord.  She has come a long way and it is a privilege to follow her on her journey.  The sadness and anxiety that tinged Kelly's early stories has been replaced more recently with strength and hope for the future and always with an overwhelming pride in her beautiful family.

If fashion and beauty for the mature woman are your thing then Laurie's blog at Vanity and Me is the place to go.  Packed with advice on what to wear, behind the scenes chats with the likes of Trinny Hall and make-up tutorials with Look Fabulous Forever, Laurie is a one-stop shop of valuable information for all us midlifers.  Flicking through her blog is like glancing through a copy of Vogue.  It is hard to believe that she has eight grand-children.

Every blog has its own personal flavour and Sophie at Old House In The Shires has certainly made her mark over the last 18 months with her useful insights on parenting teenagers; advice on a range of universal child issues gleaned from her years of teaching and valuable tips on gardening, born from a lifelong passion.  Sophie's blog is to use her own words, an eclectic mix and definitely worth a browse.

  • Humour

Humour is a valuable commodity in life, helping us through the bad times as well as the good, but making others laugh is a skill and some of our linkers have a real talent for it.

Sharon at Everyone's Buck Stops Here delivers her own unique take on parenting through The Buck Family.  Her stories are real, funny and guaranteed to make you laugh and nod along (particularly if you are a parent to tweens and teens) and all are illustrated with cartoons drawn by her own fair hand.

If it's midlife comedy you like then Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas is the place for you.  In her own words she is "A big knickers wearer, gin and wine drinker, cocktail lover, reluctant gym member, delusional dancer, teens & hubby tamer and a cantankerous cat owner."  She sounds like a grown up Bridget Jones and her blog is the place to head to guarantee a giggle.

  • Global

Time and cultural differences aside, parenting and midlife, like blogging is a global phenomenon and we have a number of international linkers in our community who deserve a shout out.

Living the expat dream comes with its challenges and Suzanne at ChickenRuby has had her fair share recently.  She is, however, not one to let life get on top of her and is on a quest to make improvements, with a daily routine to keep busy and combat the boredom, which includes keeping up her pen pal correspondence and focusing on the positives.

Katy at Experienced Bad Mom shares the good, the bad and the serious stories of parenting from the other side of the pond.  Never one to shy away from her parental responsibilities Katy is a keen supporter of her children whether on the hockey field or off; she is organised in the kitchen and always in tune with the best movies to watch on a night in with mom.

Mental health and wellness are no longer taboo subjects for discussion thanks to brave bloggers like Michelle at Rockin Random Mom who among other things lifts the lid in her blog on the issues, and offers advice on combating the challenges.

Nadia at An Introverted Blogger lives in Doha, Qatar and as well as being a fitness fanatic and keen baker is also an avid reader.  Her blog is a valuable resource if you are looking for recommendations for yourself or your children, believing as she does that a passion for books should be nurtured at an early age.

  • Debate

The blogging community is an eclectic mix of experienced and fresh voices and that is what makes it so refreshing as there is always a new blog to discover and follow.  Some blogs can be easily pigeon holed and do exactly what they say on the tin, offering practical advice and guidance on any manner of subjects, but then there are those that fall outside the box and excite and stimulate their readers with controversial opinion and debate.

meandminimees is one such blog.  A single adopter of two teenage boys, Matthew's blog is brutal in its honesty and at times difficult for those of us outside his world to read, but life is not perfect and it is this exposure to the difficulties faced by others which gives us all a different perspective on the world.  Add to this the fact that Matthew is an inciteful writer and a dab hand at verse.

Celine at Bell From Bow is another blogger not afraid to stick her head above the parapet and say out loud what others may only think.  Her posts are real and touched with humour, that all important ingredient again.

  • Opinion

Where would we be without some pontificating?  None of us want to bring our children up in a world without questions, it is after all what makes it interesting.  We are lucky in our community to have some bloggers who are particularly talented at doing just that.

Australian blogger Mac at ReflectionsFromMe is never shy of challenging perceptions on a range of issues, but is particularly passionate about helping others reach their full potential.  She frequently speaks up for our young girls and women, raising questions and offering opinions surrounding their treatment in this modern world.

Liberty at libertyonthelighterside is a multi-faceted writing talent. Her posts frequently incorporate humour, but there is also a more serious side to her writing that forces us to step outside our comfort zone and take notice of the world around us.

  • Fresh Voices

It is always nice to welcome new linkers to Tweens, Teens & Beyond and we have been lucky to start the year with some fresh voices in our community.

Ren at BluebellandMarigold joined us early this year and has really made an impression so far with her direct and poignant posts on managing insensitive comments on sexual abuse as well as a subject dear to many of our midlife hearts the menopause.  

In addition Dan at izitsocial has joined us with a selection of nostalgic posts which encourage us to blow off the cobwebs from our memory cells and think back.  We look forward to reading more from both Ren and Dan over the next few months.

  • Experience

In our midst we also have some very experienced bloggers who we are always delighted to have join us when they can.

First among these is Alex at My Lifelong Holiday who has made it her mission to find the life and soul of travel even with her kids in tow.  Her posts on where to visit at home and abroad are both thorough and inspiring.

Janet at Falcondale Life is a passionate photographer and shares tips on her blog to inspire families with older children and amateur photographers to go on beautiful adventures.  As well as this Janet also likes to share posts about life as a parent of a tween and a teen and things close to her heart.

Maflingo is the blog of Jane a woman with a variety of passions including homes and interiors, money-saving tips, family life and creativity.  Jane's blog is awash with useful tips and most importantly serious advice on things that really matter.

Last but not least, no round-up would be complete without a shout out to the man with a foot in both the primary and secondary parenting camps as well as a wealth of blogging experience beneath his DIY belt, Nige at DIY Daddy.  Nige offers a range of parenting and DIY advice on his blog and is never shy to express an opinion on a range of issues or fly the Welsh flag.  It is always an honour to have him join us.

All that remains is to thank everyone who has supported us thus far.  We really do appreciate it and as we move towards the next Tweens, Teens & Beyond milestone we hope you will all continue the journey with us.

 

Jo, Nicky & Sharon xx

 

Editor’s Note : The round-up is intended to be a highlight of the linkers who have joined us, it is by no means an exhaustive list.  

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