Things Are Going To Get Easier (Then Harder), Then Easier Again

Write a letter to yourself aged sixteen (via my trusty Writing Exercises)tumblr_n74xzvbK091r7621zo1_500

Dear Christa,

Honestly, this is a hard note to write given that I know how sensitive you are. You’re still sensitive by the way and you cry a lot; happy, sad, angry (especially angry), you have excellently functioning tear ducts. Well done.

Where to start on this very important document though? First of all, let’s get the obvious one out the way: you aren’t even that fat. Over the next two decades, you will wonder what the hell you were even worried about. Right now, aged sixteen, you look pretty great.

When you get to my age you will have more confidence with less to be confident about. Which, when you consider it, is almost as good as having a flat stomach. When you get here you’ll understand.

I realise as I type away at this, that at my core I’m not that different to you. A little bit less insecure yes but still prone to moments of crippling self-doubt. And I still haven’t the first idea what the f**k I’m going to do with my life.

The only difference now is that I know that’s okay. That living a full and happy life is as important as setting the world on fire, although there is still time. There really is still time.

Keep writing though. Write often, write honestly – basically don’t just talk about it willy nilly; do it, okay?

36 year old you is still as hopeful as you are; still deeply faithful to the theory that everything is going to be okay in the end. Still a romantic twat, even after three years of marriage and over six tripping on shoes left in the kitchen (in front of the sink!). Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah… you get married.

I’ll give you a moment to process that. In fact, let’s just talk boys for a second.

Boys are great, as are the men they grow into. They are fun and funny and you’re not sure about them now but you will find this out for yourself. Some of your favourite friends will be and are, boys. At the moment, you are probably doing one of two things as you read this, or both: a) turning up your nose snottily as if to say ‘ew’ and b) thinking about boys again, for you think of them often.

In fact, it’s impossible for you to talk to one without forming a crush and then fantasising about them, like, all the time. You aren’t even particularly sexual by now so those daydreams are pretty tame.

I can’t remember if you’ve even seen a penis yet, let alone touched one. I think you might still be petrified of the idea of them (they’re not that bad).

You should be experimenting by the way, so I’m not going to lecture you on that. Enjoy the ride, for god’s sake. Actually, I’m not going to talk you out of doing any of the things you will do, except maybe one big one. The choices you make will make you into me. Plus, you’ll have stories for later. My friend told me I have the best dating stories the other night, and it made me proud.

So, carry on. Do everything exactly as you choose.

Do me one favour though. When, aged 24, you get your heart obliterated by a bad man (worth it) and you hit rock bottom with a thud, DO NOT accept the offer of dinner with the first person who asks you. This will not be a good scene and it will last six long years that you will never get back. Trust me on that. (You don’t even get dinner).

Although, didn’t I just say all these things will turn you into me? Maybe scrub the above paragraph. But take less shit and remember, when he says you need help, that you are crazy; he’s projecting.

So yeah. You’re a wife and it’s awesome and not at all as you would imagine. You’re not a mother. I don’t think you have any desire to be but just so you know, I’ve decided not to do that. You have a step son though, he’s nine.

You fancy your husband a lot and you like beards now.

There it is, kid. A recap, if you will: write lots, experiment a lot, penises are actually pretty okay, collect stories for later use and don’t let shitty relationship keep you down for long. Oh yeah, and travel, as much as you can afford to and as often as you can. You’re going to love Thailand.

You’re going to be okay, you know?

Peace out,

Christa xoxo

Ps. Your friends trick you into wearing shorts to school round about now. Don’t fall for it, it rains that day and they all bail on you.

Old Girl

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What does getting old mean to you? (via Writing Exercises).

I feel old often. I am 36.

Sometimes I refer to myself as “Almost 40″ and I get told off for that and rightly so because that’s just wishing life away in a negative fashion. But I do, I feel exhausted sometimes from the effort of it all. Do all people feel that way sometimes?

When it’s hot like it is this Summer and oppressive outside, I start thinking I am too old for all this, can’t I just go to bed for a week? Maybe it is just the heat but maybe I am also going through a transition; no longer young and not yet old.

I’m surrounded by young people. In the pub, at work and although there is no bridge between us, no gaping void between my age and theirs, I look at them and I feel different. I’m not bitter or jealous, if I was told I could go back to 20, I would say no thank you very much.

I’ve done my time there on the precipice of adulthood. If anything, I embrace the fact that I know myself finally. I know my limitations, my likes and dislikes. Myself.

Getting old is not a bad thing, despite my grumbling (and for the most part I am joking). When I really think about it I am at peace with the idea. My thirties have been my greatest yet, the ‘This is me, suck it up’ period. Sure, I could always be more assertive, less diplomatic, more honest; but it is within this decade that I ‘grew a pair’.

I found freedom. I found, and finally understood, real love and I stopped letting people walk all over me.

I broke the Broken Bird cycle, in which I collected damaged souls one by one and wondered why, in the end, all I got for my troubles was heartache. The strength to change these things came from experience and from learning my lessons.

It came from getting older. So imagine how wise I will be in my forties, fifties – seventies. (I shall take that nap throughout my sixties).

Growing old to me means relaxing, no longer having to be judged on the things that in the end won’t matter. I will be so set in my ways by then that nobody will dare to change me. I’ll be sure of who I am, comfortable in my skin (hopefully) – gloriously, spectacularly eccentric with no fear.

And I’m going to wear a lot of high fashion pieces, like Iris Apfel.

 

Summertime Sniping

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Les chuchoteuses by Rose Aimée Boulanger in Montreal, Canada (via Google)

Last week at some point a horrible woman wrote a newspaper article about fat people. I won’t link to it, not will I utter her name because frankly, I feel like contributing to any publicity for her is what she wants, even if it is negative. At this point I can’t even bring myself to slag her off.

As my nasty ex’s great-grandmother used to say, you just have to feel sorry for people like that.

But. In her article, said woman calls out three “size 18, at least” girls for having the audacity to stand in front of her at the airport and not be ashamed of who they are. Oh, did I not point out that all three were “fat, not chubby” and seemed “unconcerned” about their apparent hideousness? I think they might even have been – whisper it – laughing together like they were happy.

Not one of them had the common decency to be covered from head to toe in black, instead choosing to rock a colourful Summer wardrobe.

Say whut?!

The Fattist let’s call her, for she is a ‘self-confessed Fattist’, seems to think that the world should fall in line with what she deems attractive. This to me is like throwing shade on every man and boy with a naked chin.

Apparently, TF has a weight and size restriction on the things she will tolerate and anybody who doesn’t fall in line with this will pay the price. By being slagged off in a national paper (if indeed you can call it that).

Anyway, she’s obviously just ‘being honest’ and speaking out of ‘concern’ for these poor, disgusting creatures right?

The thing is, she could be talking about me. I’m a size 18. Sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger but I’m that size generally. Should I be covering up for fear of upsetting poor souls like TF? Am I that revolting that I should be considering hibernation?

I hate the whole thing. Yes, it is okay for you to have your own personal tastes. Your opinion is yours. If you really feel that way and think that these abominations are seriously harming their health by eating badly and not exercising, fine. But keep it to yourself.

For a start you don’t know what these girls eat (besides the ‘I kid you not’ bag of crisps they munched while waiting to check in their luggage. On a holiday! The horror!). You sure as shit don’t know what exercise they do on a day-to-day basis. Not all fit people are thin and vice versa.

I’m hardly the template for healthy living but apart from cake too many times a week, I watch my calorie intake and workout at least twice a day for 30-40 minutes. It’s ignorant to assume things when you don’t know.

What seemed to perplex her so much more than the ‘dimpled thighs’ and ‘rolls of fat’ hanging over the tops of their vests was the fact that all three girls seem to be living life without being self-conscious. Again, how dare you, girls? Come on, now – self-hatred is the only obvious state for you, duh.

Personally, if the world were full of more people like those three and less like TF in her size 8-10 dress, I think it might be a better place.

And, while we’re at it, I’d give up the notion of ever being thin for genuine self-acceptance. I think we can all learn from these beastly rule breakers in their Summer gear, pissing off strangers without even realising it.

Now, hand me the motherf**king crisps, bitch!

Please note: I may have paraphrased a tad throughout this post but you get the gist.

To Drink or Not to Drink, It’s None of Your Beeswax!

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Photograph does not belong to me

For a long time I didn’t drink at all. I fended off no end of “You’re so boring” comments, dealt with the distrust of the drinkers around me – stayed clear headed on every night out I went on, despite the highly amusing peer pressure (turns out it still exists in your thirties).

There was no specific reason for not drinking alcohol. Not health, nor allergy or recovery. Definitely not because I was Straight Edge. I just didn’t want to.

People’s reactions to what I put in my glass were the best thing about it, that and the absence of hangover at all times.

But then, I started to drink. Again, for no good reason; simply because I chose to. That’s the beauty of it, it was only ever because I did or didn’t want to.

It’s really cute though when people are all “But YOU DON’T DRINK!” when I order Vodka. It’s like they finally got to a comfortable level with my drinking and now can’t compute that it’s changed again.

It will most probably change back.

If I’m honest, I don’t like spending my cash on something I can’t eat or wear. Spending £50 (even £20) isn’t an option for me of a Friday night. I’ll always chose something better than booze but… I like the odd drink.

I like a cocktail. I prefer Tea.

But what I really enjoy is the choice. To drink or not to drink, that is the question that nobody but me should care about.

Stop trying to label me, hardcore drinkers! I’ll do what I want, thanks.

Kiss and Make-up: A History of My Face

Photo via Google. Not me!

Following a chat with my team this morning about make-up, I thought it might be natural to turn it into a blog post.

A lot of you know about my relationship with nail polish – how obsessed I have been in the past with the latest products, trends and my own designs; how I had thought seriously about turning this into a business. How I still might.

But make-up on the whole has always been a part of who I am and talking about it this morning has brought back a lot of memories. I think the sensible place to start is at the beginning (right?)

My first memories of wearing my own make-up come quite late in the day, maybe around twelve or thirteen. My mum didn’t often wear it (though looking back she was definitely emphasising her peepers with super 80’s mascara), so there wasn’t much around the house. She had a small selection of ‘sensible’ basics that I had a good nose through but nothing too crazy.

So I didn’t really think about it much. I was a tree climbing tomboy though so it makes sense that I didn’t start looking at myself as a girl until adolescence hit.

Having said that my aunt, Sine has these red high heels that I insisted on putting on and clacking about her front room in for years. Until she gave them to me, to own, the best day ever! So I had some notion, I suppose.

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Click to enlarge

My first memories are of over using blue and brown mascaras and being rather heavy handed on the Coffee Shimmer. A metallic brown lipstick by Rimmel, I can’t imagine this shade particularly suiting anyone but yet there it was. Switched up with it’s subtler sister, Heath Shimmer pretty much all my lippy needs were covered.

I wish I had been more experimental with red. There’s a rumour that there’s a shade to suit every person (not going to limit this to just women), but I don’t know. I’ve always felt I look overdone every time I’ve tried a strong lip.

So I’m an eye girl. It’s all about that for me. As I shuffled into my teenage years I found black kohl and I’ll never give it up completely. It’s my signature and maybe it’s old, maybe it’s not cool anymore, I don’t care.

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The greatest compliment I have ever received from a stranger was, “You’ve got eyes like Bridget Bardot”. I credit my kohl for that one. I do know that it’s a strong look though and if I need to look a little less like I woke up in somebody’s bush (ding dong), I’ll skip it. I will never skip the liquid liner (also black).

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that less is more. My mother always did say this would happen, as I caked my terrible skin in crud and layered on the spider lashes. She was spot on (pun intended).

I never really liked the feel of foundation on my skin, but it always felt like a never-ending battle. You were damned if you covered your face, damned if you didn’t. As I was growing into a woman, having bad skin made me feel inferior; less than a real person. There were times that I didn’t leave the house at all just because I felt so hideous.

Now I wear a primer, minimal concealer/foundation (thankfully I finally grew out of the adult acne of my twenties, I think it was down to stress), a subtle liquid flick and a coat or two of black mascara.

Kohl is optional but I only really leave it out of my routine if it’s mega hot or I have to lookEEMAbsoluteBlackLiner_tn smart. I will always love make-up, I think it’s an incredible tool for so many reasons, I’m just glad I don’t need to lean on it as much as I did.

So what are your favourite brands, products, styles? Do you remember Coffee Shimmer? Do you have any recommendations? Hit me up!

Hoop There It Is

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I’ve slowly become obsessed with my hula hoop.

After I first purchased her, she spent a considerable time leaning against the wall in our hallway. Ignored for the most part, I was too shy to actually try her out. Luckily, with the encouragement of a friend who has taken a hooping course and is magnificent at it, we had a group session during one of our lunch breaks at work and a gang came along.

At first I seemed to be the only one just not getting it, but I’m finally there and getting stronger every time.

Last night I spent 35 minutes in our yard hooping by myself. Salt n’ Pepa’s Greatest Hits provided the soundtrack. Sassy seems to be the way to do it, since there’s a lot of hip action involved.

It’s pretty sexy, once you get over what a tit you look. While I was out there I bumped into every single neighbour we have and the reaction was mixed. The older men looked bemused, while the young couple next door to us thought it looked cool.

That’s the biggest thing for me I think, having gone from being completely non-active to being into keeping fit; getting over myself and how I look to others. Literally nobody cares.

Any way, I’m planning on supplementing what I already do with hooping to tone up my middle. This morning I can feel it in my abs and legs and it feels great. I do want to lose weight but almost as important to me is toning up considerably, so I am feeling pretty good and happy at the moment.

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I think about how much I have taken on in the last three months and I think it’s very much a credit to the gorgeous women I work with. They’re all fit and healthy and incorporate exercise into their every day, whilst still enjoying cake.

I don’t think I would have found the transition quite as easy or fun if it hadn’t been for them. So thanks for the encouragement and all the love, girls!

 

Why I’ll Never Have Money

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I’ve taken steps to stop myself shopping. Removing my card details from all my favourite websites, hiding my credit card in my knicker drawer, that sort of thing. It’s was going okay, except for April and May being the most annoyingly expensive months.

I can’t deny that it’s hard. I like stuff alright? Sue me!

But despite all this, I know my life is a world away from how it was six years ago, when I hated it, wished something would intervene and take me out of it. I hated the man I lived with, was indifferent to the places we visited together (even though some were beautiful) and I despised wherever we were calling ‘home’ during that whole sorry period.

When life was not just lacklustre but unbearable, I would shop because that small high I experienced whenever something new arrived in my possession reminded me to feel something, however fleeting.

Like I said, a world away from now. My backbone is now fully intact and I would never allow myself to be brought down like that again, never ever. I was a victim of an abusive relationship and he never laid a finger on me, it’s that simple.

Now I shop in a much less frenzied fashion and buy things I love. Not to fill a gaping void that will never be full. I buy things to make me look awesome and dress for myself first, everyone else second.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t also want my husband to take a good long look at me and think “Dayum”.

All this said, I have started to see my debts get a teeny bit smaller and a particularly large one that hangs over me is starting to shrink. I’m by no means out of the woods but I can see a light there, waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. I’ll take it.

And poor or not, I’m in love with my life now and that’s so much better than all the stuff in China. Or anywhere.

Snark Week

tumblr_mxe1k65x7L1qei7a7o1_1280I’ve started this post many times and then deleted the lot. It’s one that is close to my heart hence the deliberation over whether to publish it. In the end though, I want my blog to be a happy place and I think honesty leads one to ultimate happiness in the end.

So I’ll try again.

These days I am about not snarking on people. Other people’s bodies, lifestyles, favourite hip hop record – none of these things are my business and therefore my opinion isn’t really required.

I slip up, of course I do, and in the past (even present) I have said unkind things about people, maybe about what they were wearing or their behaviour, if I haven’t necessarily agreed with it. I have been unkind and it’s no fun admitting that. Yes, I have been mean and ignorant at times.

I think most people have if they think about it. That doesn’t excuse me, I know what I have said or even thought, and I regret all of it. Sometimes, the things I have said have been born purely of my own inadequacies and say everything about me, nothing about the other person.

I think I have changed an incredible amount over the last two years. My core is the same but I like to believe that by stepping away from negative influences (again, not excusing myself), I have been able to work on the areas I don’t like about myself.

I’m not blaming these less-than-healthy connections for my behaviour, it’s more about how I felt about myself at the time.

I think I just want to go on record as a person who has learnt from her mistakes. I’m not suggesting I’m a former yob who’s bullied people and spewed abuse at strangers in the street – I would never and I abhor the cowards who do. I’m just very aware that I can be bitchy and I don’t want to be anymore, about anybody.

I love that things like #honourmycurves and #effyourbeautystandards are becoming prevalent on Twitter and Instagram. I have recently read horrifying accounts from people I love and respect about the things they have endured at the hands of horrible bullies and I hate it.

I’m absolutely with them on their right (and mine) to walk down the street without being stared at or abused. Purple hair, big thighs, Gothic attire or two heads, it’s nobody’s business.

We all need to be nicer and we all need to work on acceptance – of ourselves and of others. I know it’s an idealistic view that we will one day stamp it all out but it can happen. It’s a long old road but I want to be right there when it does.

And to anybody I’ve ever upset with a flyaway comment, I’m sorry. In the past I might have said something behind your back because I have made assumptions about you or because I was being judgemental (or was ‘concerned’ about you) and this is probably worse. I’m sorry.

I’m working really hard on that and won’t be doing it again.

 

Do You Like My Tight Pants?

This week I purchased two pairs of ‘running tights’.2

I put that in quote marks not because they aren’t what they purport to be but because I’m hardly a runner (yet). I am not using mine strictly to run, but to walk and stomp and throw myself gracelessly about a school hall to the strains of something Latin flavoured (featuring Bulldog).

The thing is, and the clue is really in the title, they are so tight, man. Like bum squeezingly, thigh emphasisingly T-I-G-H-T!

Camel toe checks before leaving the house T-I-G-H-T!

I’m not sure if the world out there is ready for my jelly or even if I am ready for it myself, but I’ve crossed a bridge lately that means I can do things I would never have considered before.

Slap on a long line t-shirt and hoodie and half the battle is won. They make me feel naked which is a feeling I enjoy in the real world but the fact remains, there just isn’t any way to hide exactly what my body looks like in them.

This is my shape and it’s a good one, I suppose. It’s getting stronger but it’s right here and no amount of illusionism can disguise the fact I’m a big girl. Curvy yes, but also big.

(I’m not saying this is a bad thing for fear of sounding like I am body snarking, there is nothing wrong with big as far as I’m concerned. It’s about being happy and comfortable in your skin, and I’m getting there but I’m not there yet). Gottit?

I think this might be the most vulnerable I have felt in a long while, and I’ve been wandering about in sportswear for a few months now, even running in front of ‘real’ runners and strangers.

But the point is, me and my self-esteem rocking running tights are doing it. Like Nike, we’re not just talking about it, we’re doing it.

Swoosh!

Incidentally, I often ask my husband if my arse looks big in clothing and modelling these bad boys was no different. Without hesitation, he always replies with a massive grin on his face:

“Hellllll yeah!”

No hiding the truth in my household!

I’m as Fine as the Wine in Summertime

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Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Phenomenal Woman ~ Maya Angelou

Today my Queen quietly passed on from this life, aged 86.

I fell in love with Maya when I was a teen and we were studying I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I was not what you would call the academic type and I’m still not, but that term as I was falling under the influence of Ms Angelou and her beautiful words, I fell in love with the English language too.

It’s my longest love affair to date.

In addition to what she awakened in me, she was a great poet, an activist and a goddess of the highest order. I’m so glad she got the graceful ending she so deserved and I’m just terribly sorry there will be no more from such a gorgeous wordsmith. She leaves behind an army of women (and men, I’m sure) who have been inspired and moved by the things she did and that isn’t too shabby, is it?

If you’re not aware of her work then I urge you to go searching, you could never regret it.

I’ve included an excerpt from my favourite poem above. You can find the rest of it here. And honestly, what else is there to say about it other than “Yes!”. As far as I’m concerned, it is perfect.

*This blog title is a quote from Maya given in an interview in 2009 about why she was unwilling to retire. How wonderful?