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A letter from Patricia Marie

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 19 December 2014
Dear readers,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for sending me your problems and dilemmas over the past year.
I take time to read each and every one of them and feel privileged that you have trusted me with your most intimate concerns.

Over the past few weeks I have received numerous emails relating to Christmas, highlighting that this time of year for various reasons can be a very stressful time.

Many of us are extremely busy, and once all the shopping for gifts and food has been completed, the cards written, the house decorated, and presents wrapped, we can all be left feeling completely exhausted. Sometimes our happy ever after image of the perfect family scene does not work out as we had originally planned. Maybe its the heightened expectation or indeed, the stress of it all.

This time of year extended family get-togethers can sometimes prove rather challenging. If you sense tension rising - suggest a good walk which can often diffuse the most awkward situation.

Whilst Christmas inevitably is about compromise, finding time to visit numerous friends and relatives, having to entertain at home - it is also a time when many are having to face loneliness. If you know of anyone who will be spending Christmas alone, ask yourself is there anything you could do to improve their situation. Would it be possible for you to invite them to join you for lunch, or if they would prefer to be in their own home, could you offer to take a meal to them, and perhaps include a small gift - you would be bringing the spirit of Christmas to someone who would have otherwise felt isolated at this significant time.

Relaxation is most important for our wellbeing, more so at this time of year. Allow yourself some peaceful time, get to enjoy a nice walk, read a good book or your favourite magazine - indeed anything that would offer you some precious time away from the hustle and bustle the festive season brings.

And finally, I hope Christmas magic finds each and every one of you, and shall look forward to being here for you next year throughout 2015 whenever you may need me.

Very best wishes,
Patricia Marie.

THE SILVER LINE helpline (0800 4708090), set up last year by Esther Rantzen, offers help, comfort and support for all those facing loneliness, not only during the festive season, but 24 hours a day.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Busy, are you?

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Busy, busy oh so busy.  Quite literally the buzz word of today.  Even out trumping ‘stressed’ and ‘exhausted’, I feel like I can’t cross the road without someone telling me just how extraordinarily SWAMPED they are.  

How are you? I ask my neighbour.
MANIC! She screeches.

Fancy a coffee? I text a friend
Can’t.  Totally slammed. Is the answer.

But I’m as guilty as the next with my OHHH-SO-BUSY retorts.  And strangely it’s nothing really to do with just how much we have on our plates.  No, we’ve all officially joined the Busy-Team where the only answer is busy.  (A bit like the banana game but less funny.)

Of course competitive busy, as a sport, is now also on the rise.  Could you possibly pick up my kids from school reads a recent text.  I’m just SO busy! Now, how does the texter know that they are honestly busier than their recipient?  Who could possibly be the judge in this frantic, breathless rush?

Working mums, those with terribly tiny toddlers, small business owners, CEOs, others with no childcare, no PA, no helping hand… I wonder if we really are busier than our predecessors or whether we just complain a lot more?  Perhaps it’s simply our default setting and someone this Christmas needs to turn us off, unplug the busy lead, let us cool off and then power us up again?

Put up your hand if you’re going to join me as I duck out the Busy Cult.  Let’s face it; it’s dull, heightens stress levels and is definitely not an appropriate answer to any polite enquiry.  Let’s redefine the narrative and promise not to air our busy linen in public.

Lipstick tiger mums

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Tuesday, 16 December 2014
With so many books and magazines and therapists offering their version of how to raise happy and healthy children and what to do when there is an issue, I really cannot offer you something new. However, what I want to talk about is what NOT to do.

I am not an admirer of Sarah Palin’s politics, and her parenting style is also somewhat questionable, but she did provide me with a quote ideal to demonstrate the opposite of what I have experienced in childcare and teaching.

When she captioned, “You know what they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is? Lipstick”, I quivered. Whether it’s football, violin, homework, or learning a language, there is a great difference between pressure and motivation.

Whatever you call parents who strangle their children with great expectations and overburden them with tutors and activities, the result is the same according to former Tiger Mum, Tanith Carey.

“Tiger parenting wrecks family life and it ruins our enjoyment of parenting. It's heartbreaking”, she says and adds that “the stressed and anxious kids of today are the depressed adults of tomorrow”.

I am not in the habit of promoting reference books but all too often I see the damage this parental behaviour has on the innocent offspring of well-meaning adults.  As the cover of her book asks, “how to put your child’s well-being first in a competitive world”, consider this as the primary mantra when making decisions.
There are many tell-tale signs children exhibit when stressed or unable to cope. The physical tummy and headaches; the behavioural tantrums and fidgeting; and the emotional extremes in self-confidence and chronic worrying.

It is well documented children learn significantly through play by exploring and discovering without having lessons rammed down their throats. Give them space. Time. Encourage friendships. A fulfilled life is not just about school grades or awards.

Organise a family “Wellies” outing and see who can make the biggest puddle splash. If it’s too wet and woolly outdoors get out the face paints and let your children find their inner-Picasso on you first.

Find fun, be silly, laugh, giggle and if you’re phone/camera is handy, capture the moment for your family Christmas greeting.

I hate Christmas

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 11 December 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,
I always hate this time of year – Christmas.  My closest friend died in a car accident on Christmas Day five years ago, and every year I am reminded of her and how much I miss her.  She was such a vibrant, happy person and she used to love Christmas. 

I visit her grave every year, put flowers there, and talk to her, and this year I have explained to my boyfriend of nine months that I don’t ‘do’ Christmas, and why.  He seems a bit irritated by this, but has said he will visit the grave with me.  He wanted me to spend the day with his family and children, but I can’t do that.  I have to honour my friend’s memory.
Nobody seems to understand.  How can I make them see that I feel it is wrong for me to celebrate this day?

Patricia Marie says...

This time of year brings much sadness to those remembering their loved ones, and the pain is often heightened when others are wanting to celebrate the festivities.

If you can plan Christmas to include remembering your best friend, the day may not seem quite so daunting. Take some comfort from lighting a candle in memory of her - have a photo nearby and tell others of the special times you shared. They will want to be included in your thoughts, rather than feel isolated.

Sometimes we can feel no one understands because we don't open up - so do talk to your family and friends, they care about you and will be conscious of your loss. I suspect your boyfriend is not so much irritated but frustrated by your refusal to enjoy the nice times that you so deserve.

Be grateful for the time you had with your friend and focus on this rather than there absence in your future. Have you considered that she wouldn't be wanting you to be feeling so miserable, or not making the most of the life she can't have. So with this in mind, perhaps you could you try to compromise and enjoy the loved ones that are here with you today.

If at anytime you do feel tearful, that's fine too. Don't be so hard on yourself, look to the future and believe things will get easier.

Over Christmas time professional help and support is just a phone call away. Cruse is an excellent organisation offering bereavement counselling which I feel you could benefit from: (0844 477 9400) You may also find the below poem resonates with you.


You can shed tears because she has gone,
Or you can smile because she lived,
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
Or you can be full of the love you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she is gone,
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
Or you could do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

By David Harkins

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Shaking up Christmas shopping

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 11 December 2014
In all honestly, I’ve no time for Christmas shopping this year. Nor patience either. Besides, everyone I know keeps telling me that they don’t want anything anyway. Of course, the high street tells me otherwise, winking at me through their twinkly, festive shop windows, and Black Friday hit our screens like a ton of discounted bricks. So the plan is to add a little more precision and logic to my Christmas shopping task.

In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that there’s a proper strategy to my purchases and – generous old me – is prepared to share my gifting rules:

1)     any present needs to fit in a stocking, which in turn needs to fit in a suitcase as we are travelling into the festive season.

2)     All items MUST be something I would have bought anyway regardless of any babe in a manger.

3)     the Smalls are not allowed to write a list for Santa and she is busy with a new job, an old job and lots of carol concerts to attend

4)     no plastic anything this year…

5)     at least two items must look and feel like books.

6)     A little money will be given which can be saved, donated or spent – the decision is theirs (and I’ll try not to judge)

7)     He can have a good old fashioned wet, sloppy kiss and maybe even a lie-in.

And now I feel relieved. I can tick Christmas Shopping off my to-do list.

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Q: A recent survey has revealed the Top 10 things British women would love to do but are too scared. Have you done any of the following?

Sing in public / karaoke - 10.6%
Ask for a pay rise - 6.2%
Travel or holiday alone - 27.7%
Do a naked photo-shoot - 6.2%
Get a tattoo - 3.8%
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Get your hair cut very short - 10.6%
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Quit your job - 19%
Have cosmetic surgery - 7.3%
The voting for this poll has ended on: 13 Jun 2014 - 09:12

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