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.

 

Brother

250065_10150617858235018_5939880_nToday’s Random Subject via Writing Exercises – What does having siblings mean to you?

Growing up it seemed to me that as soon as we were old enough to go our separate ways, I would never see my brother again. If you’d asked me at 12, 14, 17, 19 what having a sibling meant to me, I would have probably said “Not much, I hate him”. I would have stared off into the middle distant like a good baby Goth and I would have fantasised about being an only child.

We were not what you would call ‘close’ as we grew, although I look back and he was always there. We rowed like cat and dog but he was never not there. All my memories swirl around him, all of them, even the earliest ones. Sitting in the garden with this new fat baby in my lap (my memory or one I have borrowed from a photo album?), the evening Mum told us Dad was gone.

Our old house in Canada, playing with the neighbourhood kids. The day we moved to England to stay with our reluctant grandparents, playing with our cousins, the Christmases, the childhood injuries, the arguments; climbing trees. We weren’t friends but perhaps we were uneasy allies out there in the world because who else did we have?

I was not a cool teen. Most times all I wanted was to be alone. Now I realise I was suffering typical adolescent depression but then I just wanted to be in my room, feeling things. This did not translate well to my sociable, always popular brother though maybe only in my own head. He would pick on my insecurities to cut me down and I am quite sure I did the same right back.

Still, he woke me up one night to tell me he had lost his virginity. I think it was then I thought that one day we might be okay, that I still had a use to him, even if it was just my inexperienced ear.

It was several years later but I remember the evening vividly, he was at my house for my birthday. I was 26 when I realised we’d be fine. Mum was there and my best friend, too. I was in a relationship with my demon ex then, recently moved into a big Suburban home I had never wanted, unhappy but not yet without hope.

We were laughing and talking and Tim said I was funny. Publicly, in front of other people. From that day on, to me at least, he was no longer the lazy toad who wanted to make me cry, he was my brother and my friend – and he saw me as a person, finally.

I knew he must love me because he was nice to that horrible boyfriend, tried to see the best in him when the best wasn’t much. Later, I couldn’t believe he had kept it up, after everybody else’s façade hand long since slipped. That’s love, I think.

He could have told me to leave, wondered what the hell I was playing at but he didn’t, he let me find out for myself.

We’ve been close ever since, although hardly ever geographically. I’ve been in Asia and then Canada, while he lived in both Hungary and Greece for extended periods. For six months he lived in Brighton and that was one of my favourite times, though we still didn’t hang out every week. We’re just not that kind of family.10374460_10154083560640018_306736340812671119_n

Even now, my brother is in some of my very happiest memories. He gave me away at my wedding because my Dad couldn’t; made everyone cry with his speech. He made a mix CD for the sit down dinner segment and it had my favourite song on it (You’re So Cool by Hans Zimmer).

Now we meet up every couple of months or so, since Tim and his fiancé, Maddy live in Kent. When we hang out it’s like no time has passed at all. I’m so proud of the man he has finally become and now I’m getting excited to see what kind of husband and father he’s going to be.

So, if you ask me now, what does having a sibling mean to me, I will tell you: it means everything.

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.

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.

Notes on a Weekend Visit

1Much as sometimes it knocks my nose out of joint, I pretty much always come around to my mother’s way of thinking. I spoke to her at the weekend about a situation that had wounded me greatly and she listened and, at the end, simply said “You’re too sensitive”.

I didn’t like it very much. In a way it makes me feel like a child again to be told I’m overacting but sure enough, as my outrage dissolved, I realised that she was right.

It is frightening and also comforting to know that even though you believe you are a complex soul, and maybe you are, there are people around who know you as well as you know yourself. If not better as they get a load of you after you’ve been alone, wrestling with your issues for way too long.

So, thanks to PM, the woman who bore me, I have calmed down on the petty freeze out I had planned and I’ve forgiven the person who wronged me. Just like that.

Who needs God when you have the Wisest Woman in the Western World on speed dial (when she remembers to keep her phone on)?

Specs Appeal

glassesgirlMy friend Sammy has a gorgeous young daughter named after my favourite season (Autumn). I don’t know Autumn personally, but from what I have gleaned via my chats with Sammy and the wonderful world of social media, she is a sensitive, thoughtful girl with a beautiful smile. She also has good t-shirt game and happens to wear glasses.

The other morning Sammy posted an update that said she had been showing Autumn pictures on the internet of actresses, princesses and pop stars who also happen to be spectacle wearers. This had come about because poor Autumn had come home upset that she “isn’t pretty and doesn’t look like the other girls at school”.

Well, we all know I’m not the most maternal woman in the world, but for some reason this damn near broke my heart. Lovely girls at this tender age shouldn’t be feeling that way – ever, really – but certainly not as they embark on their first days of school.

As they navigate the thorny pathway through friendship and independence, wouldn’t it be nice if these things never came up? But, of course they do. Most of us have felt different at one point or another and I think any woman who says they haven’t felt uglier than their counterparts at least once is probably fibbing.

When I was around the same age as Autumn, my family and I arrived in England from Canada. One of the first memories I have is of putting up my hand in my new class to ask if I could use the bathroom. The teacher said I could, but first I would have to come up to the front and read something out to the rest of the class. Well, let’s just say when you gotta go, you gotta go and for a long while I was simply the kid who wet herself in public.

It didn’t get better for a while. I didn’t have it as bad as most, I wasn’t the Smelly Tall Girl (Samantha) or the Poor Kid Who Always Puked on School Trips (Janette) but I was ginger and clumsy. Somehow the combination of the two meant I was less graceful than some of the ‘popular’ girls. The Kellys and the Gemmas and the Michelles.

My self-consciousness was further compounded the day they cast Hansel & Gretel for our year and I, along with another poor super-ginger was thrust into the limelight as one of the doors to the gingerbread house. Yes, my 15 minutes of fame were spent giving my all to the role of door.

(There is a Polaroid of this somewhere in my mother’s possession and it is epic).

My point is, I had a thing that made me feel different and it has taken me several decades to come to terms with the fact that my hair colour is actually pretty great.

I am also a proud glasses wearer and have been for two years, ever since I finally admitted to myself that it’s so not cool to be squinting and accidentally ignoring people in public.

Some days I miss seeing my whole face but for the most part, I love my glasses. I feel they add something to my look and are part of what makes me me.

But back to Autumn and her own bespectacled adventures. It seems she felt better when she discovered an image of Jessie J rocking awesome spectacles and is coming around to the fact that being one of the only ones wearing them makes her special, not ugly.

On the topic of successful celebrities who wear glasses, I compiled my own list of favourites. Any excuse to include a picture of The Goose, right?

PicMonkey CollageFrom L-R, Top to Bottom:

  1. Mindy Kaling – Actress, comedian, writer
  2. Tom Hanks – King of the World
  3. Rashida Jones – Film & TV Actress, screen writer and comic book author!
  4. Anne Hathaway – Actress and Academy Award winner
  5. Tina Fey – Actress, comedian, writer, producer; babe
  6. Lauren Conrad – TV personality and fashion designer
  7. Dallas Green – Musician (City and Colour) and all round hottie
  8. Leighton MeesterBlair Waldorf, yo!
  9. Ryan Gosling – needs no introduction…

So if you ever read my blog, Autumn – you will see how proud I am to wear glasses and250720_10152083754445018_181621175_n how much I admire other people who wear them. And you know what else? Not only are you completely adorable, you will also grow up to be sensitive to other people because you understand what it feels like when you feel different. And different is ultimately a great thing.

As for me, I feel like this has given me pause for thought when it comes to the younger people in my life. It’s all well and good to be talking and thinking a lot about my own self-esteem project but what am I doing to make sure they know that they are absolutely fine just the way they are? Not just fine, but pretty bloody wonderful? From now on, as much as possible.

Thanks to Sammy and Autumn for letting me talk about them.

NB: Some names in this post have been changed to protect the innocent. Not you, Popular Girls. 

Wellness & Wonder

1969397_10153971044655018_1247624656365560236_nI don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but all the exercise and eating well and singing lessons have been part of a bigger picture for me.

I’m calling it ‘Project Me’ but I’ll work on the name,obviously, as part of the whole wellness thing.It’s pretty lame, I know.

Project Me is about making myself better in small ways.

The diet and exercise is a no-brainer: I’m looking to, if not become Miranda Kerr by the Summer then at least be a more toned, confident version of who I am already.

I’m truly not that interested in being smaller, although it would be nice. I’m just looking to whittle my waist back in and not feel like a stranger is walking too close to me only to realise it’s my own bottom behind me. True story.

I like the idea of being a fit fatty (saw it on somebody’s Twitter bio) but this will only work if I can ensure I’m healthy and right now – newsflash! – I’m not as healthy as I could be.Don’t get me wrong I don’t have any health issues, I’m just thinking of the evil BMI, etc (I know it’s a guideline).1610070_10153971065235018_654938086982862426_n

The running has been a huge part of the project, and it hasn’t being going that well. The thing is, I know I get better the more I do it, but I don’t do it as much as I can. And although I have been public about my desire to be a runner, and I want to succeed, I’m still not pushing myself enough.

But this is not just about the physical. I’m working on my inner strengths and mental health too. Hence the singing lessons.

I’m still terrible and although I’m getting more confident as we go along, I still suck. I love it though and my teacher is great.People keep asking me if I’m planning on performing. Erm, no never.

It’s not about anything like that for me, it’s just about doing something I’ve always wanted to.

So, Project Me is about treating my body like a temple (you take cake into temples sometimes, right?), moving as much as possible and trying to enjoy it; and being more positive.

It’s a work in progress.

 

 

 

A (Short) Ode to Marriage

I never thought I’d get married.

It had been mentioned in my previous relationship, in the most negative terms imaginable and when I did allow myself to envisage being legally bound to the person I was with then, I felt physically ill.

Worse, I imagined running screeching from the room into the path of a double decker bus, anything to avoid a lifetime of being controlled and belittled.

To illustrate this, I attended several weddings over the course of that debacle ‘relationship’ and left all of them indecently early after having a panic attack in the ladies and being violently sick.

I write this because today is my third year anniversary. I did fall in love with the right person and we got married.

I pondered this post for a while. First it was going to be about what marriage means to me. Then it was going to be an open love letter to my husband, inspired by the one written by Jacqueline Kennedy (not the greatest omen, perhaps) but everything I typed just seemed a little too schmaltzy and a bit forced.

Then I got over myself and realised that schmaltzy is my friend,so here’s my highly sentimental I ♥ My Husband collage:

PicMonkey Collage (1)Happy anniversary Glynn, you annoying, beautiful pain in my arse. I love you more than anything in the world and plan to do that forever.

(We need to get a new pose).

 

Mum is the Word

This weekend it was my mum’s birthday so Mr Bee and I rode into my home town on several rickety old replacement buses and a wave of good intention.

As soon as we entered Bexhill I felt myself regress back to being the awkward girl of my teenage youth and I sort of enjoy that feeling now. It’s a simpler time and there’s a peace that comes with being back ‘home’.

If I ever got the opportunity to speak to my Past Self I might tell her to chill out because one day I might actually start to appreciate the small town I grew up in.

It was a quiet, family orientated weekend with a birthday cream tea at The Wholesome Cafe for Mum. It was also a bit of a Welcome Home affair for my aunt, who lives in Canada ordinarily and is back for exactly 12 days. When we first emigrated to B.C., Sine was there to put us up and, in her subtle way, tried to talk me out of being in a relationship with the loser I had emigrated with. Thankfully, I eventually did rectify that situation.

We also got to hang with my cousins’ ladies and their kids and it was a very nice time indeed. Plus there was cake and cake might be my most favourite thing in this world.

On Sunday, we took Mum for breakfast and then pottered around Bexhill town in the lovely sunshine. We stopped off at the jewel in Bexhill’s crown (arguably), The De La Warr Pavilion and saw their latest exhibition, I Cheer a Dead Man’s Sweetheart. Some of it was really quite something and some of it… not so much.

I get that art is down to the way a person interprets it and that, an orange knife stuck to a wall might just be an orange knife stuck to a wall to me, to someone else it might answer all their questions about life and the Universe. So one shouldn’t take the mick too much (even though I so did).

We then looked at absolutely stunning beach houses on the front and then we had to go and catch our next series of replacement buses to get home to Brighton. All in all a lovely, satisfying visit.

PicMonkey Collage

 

 

Running, Man

vintageRunning2Running has been a mixed bag. I am now coming to terms with the fact that I am not naturally shooting about like a pocket rocket with the wind in my hair, and that every single step has been challenging. More so, that I haven’t fallen in love with it right away.

I am starting very slowly and could probably afford to push myself a little more, if I’m completely honest.

But I’m doing it. I’m doing it regularly and I’m getting a tiny bit better every time.

I am also learning how important stretching is and have been taking Cod Liver Oil tablets because my legs hurt so much when I run. Who even am I?

On the plus side, I am goofily proud of my attempts even if I am currently hopeless. And when I don’t run, I walk. I walk like a bitch and am racking up all those burnt calories.

I have also lost a not too sniffy six pounds in two weeks. I know I wasn’t and am going to try not to measure my achievements in the numbers dropping off, but it’s hard not to. I’m losing weight, feeling better and my legs are toning up. It’s also been great for my relationship, all good right?

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My only minor niggle, which goes against what I just typed slightly: my husband is so much better at this than me. He can actually run and even though my sensible self knows I’m achieving things at my own pace, and is also proud that he is making changes he can be proud of, I have to fight against feeling deflated by it.

That’s so me though. I’m the exact opposite of competitive, I’d far rather give up and sit down than compete with anyone, even when I know I’m better. Which in this case I really am not.

So, you know, trucking along.