Peace

Lately I’ve been feeling really at peace with myself. Like, I actually like who I am, enjoy who I am with others and I accept what I look like too.

Do I wish I looked like Cara Delevingne? Sure, probably. Would I knock off 5-10 years of age if I could for a fresher face? Yes. But there’s something to be said for finally arriving at a place that says you’re happy enough with your lot and wouldn’t change much, if anything about anything.

This time last year I was falling apart. I was so unhappy I was making myself sick and my anxiety was through the roof. I doubted everything and couldn’t take my mind off my own misery. I hated every move I made, thanks to a horrible working environment and wanted to shrink myself down so I took up as little space as possible.

I took stock and got out of there, slowly building myself back up and now, even on a lack lustre day, I feel blessed.

I just think sometimes when you’re feeling yourself and you like who you are, it’s worth acknowledging it. God knows we spend so much time beating ourselves up when we feel the opposite.

How are you?

Stories*

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Today’s task: create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a conference. Via Blogging 201: Make the Most of Events (27th October 2014)

I have thought long and hard about the things I like to write about and how I can best turn them into a regular blog feature. What keeps coming up are relationships and the stories that have stemmed from them.

Since this is an organic process, it may evolve into something completely different, but I’ll kick off today with a tale from my dating past. I intend to see if I can get guest bloggers in to share their experiences and their own adventures. I would also like this to become a regular thing, I’ll be aiming for once a fortnight.

So which of the stories from my car crash past shall I start with?

I was 20 when I left home for the first time.

I stayed on a little extra at college to finish a secretarial course and an A Level in Film then decided the last thing I wanted was to continue my education in the classroom. Hardly the academic, I was done with awkward social encounters and eating my lunch in the back café where only the weirdos went. So I allowed myself to be talked into going travelling instead, with a friend I never really liked.

She was the kind of person who would say things like “Aw bless you, you do try” and make you feel like shit. But back then I just felt lucky to have someone willing to do something exotic with me so overlooked most of her heinous personality defects. Anyway, we saved for what felt like years for our trip to Australia and then suddenly we were on our way, 24 hours on a plane and a million light years from home (actually 10,552).

It didn’t take us long to settle in. Full of adventure, we spend good cash on a vintage Toyota Corolla to nip around in. Puke green and years past its sell-by date it ran like a dream. We were free to pursue any avenue we pleased and what pleased us then were boys.

I was on the path to vascular destruction and I didn’t even know it yet. It happened one night, in a pub in the sticks. A cross between the Mos Eisley Cantina and The Slaughtered Lamb, this wasn’t a pub for two bumbling teenagers but still it was where we found ourselves.

Sharon, my obnoxious travelling companion was designated driver and had already zoomed in on some company for the night but I was a shy girl. Spurning the advances of an enthusiastic and burly youth who promised to show me the back of his Ute, I was about to give up until I saw Him. Mine.

All I really remember about that first night was the rain. We’d arrived slap bang in the middle of Monsoon season and NSW was awash.

I had never seen anyone so beautiful. He told me I looked like Ginger Spice (it was the late 90’s) and when we retreated to the Corolla in the car park and he asked if he could kiss me, I let him.

What followed was the most confusing, heart wrenching, shameful, awakening year of my life.

It’s hard to describe how easily I went from being a barely kissed (but not longer virginal) teenager to a woman obsessed with a pretty but not very nice boy. After the romance of our first meeting, I fell hard and I guess my English accent made me just intriguing enough to keep around.

It didn’t encourage him to keep his dick in his pants though and many a night ended in (my) tears because he’d stayed out with someone else. One night he brought home another woman while I was there. In his bed.

This was my first experience of love and frankly, it wasn’t great. But I finally felt alive and thrived on the pain. This Small Town Girl was crazy in love and what did it matter if it felt bad 85% of the time? This was real.

Luckily, I have grown out of the notion that love and pain go hand in hand. For decades I believed that you had to work relentlessly to make all relationships work. I was wrong.

I sometimes count The Australian as my first love but of course I didn’t really find out what that was until much later on. This was my first experience of heartbreak though. If only I had a pound (or Australian dollar) for every tear I shed that year.

I found him on Facebook not long ago and the optimist in me hoped for a paunch, a bald head or no teeth; some light retribution for all the wrongdoing.

Sadly, I can confirm that time has been kind and he’s still flawless.

So that’s the tale of my first heartbreak. I have more stories, and love each and every one. They lead me here afterall.

What do you think of this feature? Could it work do you think? And would you like to contribute?

If you would like to tell us a tale, on anything from relationships to travels, email me: avoluptuousmind@gmail.com.

* A regular blog feature in which I tell stories, sometimes about relationships.

Trust: The Serial Killer Edition

bitch,trust,movies,quote-8b63d5d5423eeabcafb93c23c934ba0e_hI’ve been watching a lot of Dexter this month (and last, there are like, 8 friggin’ seasons) and it’s churned up a lot of thoughts in my head. Not all of them plot or character related, either.

Relax, I’ll leave off the spoilers as much as possible. I’m just thinking about trust.

Isn’t it a risky thing, trusting somebody with your heart; even your life? Now hopefully, none of us live with a secret serial killer and will never have to deal with the fall out of discovering that someone you love has a very dark side, but on a base level trusting another human is such a massive risk; yet is such an important thing to have. It’s a wonder we do it at all.

But trust we must until trust is broken, or maybe it won’t be. That’s all we can do otherwise what’s the point? It’s all too easy not to and I get it, have always got it until I met someone who redefined the word for me. Old boyfriends have not been kind, however nice they have seemed, taking my notion of trust and breaking it to pieces like dry Weetabix.

Suspicious websites, over friendly text messages, upfront and unabashed cheating; nights spent waiting for them to roll home. And when they didn’t, those moments making that empty bed with a heart as chilly as the side that hadn’t been slept in.

I get trust issues, I get the need to prove your unease right no matter what. But I also get that in the end enough has to be enough or you will never grow and never be able to love fully. My thought for the day.

I’m not going to be all happy clappy about how I finally learnt to trust (it was a long distance affair so all the red flags should have been flapping), all I know is that the old adage love like you’ve never been hurt before actually has some merit. All trust is a risk, and to risk it all is to gain the most.

But back to Dexter. (Spoiler alert!) Along the way, bad but not really all that bad guy Dexter has been stabbing people up, occasionally befriending people who have come to know his quirks. He learns through a series of relationships to start trusting certain people with the truth of who he is. That’s another way to consider the concept of faith in others.

If you relate trust to friendship, which is just as important as a relationship relationship, that’s scary too, right? I mean, I have an unhealthy addiction to Shaggy songs, it’s never easy to reveal that to a new person. How can you trust that your new friends, old friends, colleagues and the old lady you see every morning at the bus stop are going to continue to find you pleasant once you start letting your real self be known?

You just have to, or don’t, it’s really up to us all as individuals. Haters are always going to hate. Like Dita once said (apparently): “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.”

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It’s important to realise that if someone doesn’t like you, that’s up to them. If they cheat on you or think it’s acceptable to hurt you, essentially it is their problem. This is easier said than realised, easy to say with a click of the Ghetto fabulous finger but I chose to trust because that’s all I have.

Trust and be trusted, it works both ways.

What do you think? Can you and do you love without thinking about your past upsets or are you closely guarded? Is it all just a myth?

This post was brought to you by a sleep deprived brain, a sugar high and too many episodes of Dexter.

Think Ink

When I was a teenager I wasn’t sure of anything really, but I did have a slightly rebellious streak (that I cultivated to push against an76467164700c60e1c37c733e0cd53e93 imaginary enemy). My lovely mum was pretty cool with most things so I was fighting myself, mostly.

When I was around 14 (in my anecdote I am 14, but I suspect I was actually 16), I convinced my uncle to take me to get a tattoo. We chose a tiny little shop in an alleyway in Hastings Old Town one Saturday and I had absolutely no plans for a design.

I am from a family that you wouldn’t exactly call ‘tattoo friendly’ and before this had never had an older family member with a secret tattoo. If my own grandfather has a fuzzy blue mermaid anywhere about his person then I have never heard of it, much less seen it.

So it was brave of me I think to walk into the buzzing atmosphere of my first tattoo parlour that afternoon. In those days it was easy to fake a birth date on a flimsy piece of paper, no ID was requested and to be fair I don’t think anyone cared all that much.

I pointed to a tiny pink butterfly on the wall and before I knew it I was in the chair, a huge man with a ring through his nose looming towards me with a needle.

I took it well, marvelling at a feeling I had never had before. I know it now to be a flush of adrenaline but my childish heart was just delighted to be doing something so unauthorised. So free.

While he waited, my uncle fell in love with a dream catcher design (or was it a mushroom?) and went back a few weeks later for his own ink. And I’ve been in love with tattoos ever since.

If I didn’t know anything else, I knew right there that one day I would be covered in them if I only had my way.

Today I have quite a few. The artwork on my body varies from very very bad to really great and there are some oddballs in between. People talk about tattoos being a map of events in your life and that is true for me to a certain extent. There’s the 18th birthday present from my high school BFF (shooting stars, ankle), the ill-advised travel tattoos (tiger cub, hip/multiple lotus flowers), the great big Fuck You.

There’s the love token (letter ‘g’, back of neck), the BFF that is no more tattoo (tiny star, behind ear) – and then there are the ones that I just had to have because I like stuff (sugar donut/nail polish bottle/hula hoop). What I have is for me and nobody else, although I do run it past Mr Bee first. It’s not a request for permission per se, just checking in.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people say, how many times they ponder when I will stop or if it will affect my ability to get a job in the future. A big oaf in the Co-op asked me if they were real and then proceeded to tell me how much he hates tattoos. Great customer service, my friend!

It is my body and if I’ve thought it through and want to do it, I will. I’m not as heavily covered as some friends, but have quite a bit more than others. Some of my friends have nothing at all and always make me think of what Ozzy Osbourne once said:

If you want to be —-ing individual, don’t get a tattoo. Every —-er’s got one these days.”

This week, today actually, I am popping in to hang out with my friend and tattooist, Alex, who is going to draw me up an epic piece. I’m at the stage where slapping things on empty space isn’t an option anymore, they have to fit in with existing pieces so that the overall ‘sleeve’ knits together.

I like colour and I love the traditional style, and I’m also a massive girl so everything I have has to have a feminine edge, even my lumberjack is drinking from a fine bone china cup and saucer. I don’t really know what I’m doing but I do know what I like so that’s half the plan sorted, right?

As for my family, well my Mum at least, she came round eventually, electing to have a tattoo to celebrate her 65th birthday. Her son-in-law paid and every time I see it I get a glimpse of the bad ass within. She gets complimented by hipster waitresses and I admire her for doing it because she wanted to.

She’s still not sold on the idea of me being covered but that’s just because I’ll always be her baby girl. She loves them on other people.

So what are your views on tattoos? Do you have them/want them/abhor them?

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.