Begin

I’m starting again. Again.

I’m delighted about it and I’ll write more soon when I can get all my thoughts together but for now, just know that I’m making solid plans to feel happier. That is my bottom line.

Oh, and obviously it’s not all that major, just a job change. I’m not selling all my books and moving to Antarctica alone. Not yet anyway.

I just wanted to take time to celebrate a little bit of light at the end of a long, long tunnel with you guys. And I’ll be getting back into writing more regularly soon, both here and elsewhere. I can’t wait.

How are you all? ❤

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Revenge Body

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I’m sure most people have read or seen somewhere that Khloé Kardashian (formerly my favourite) has a new show called Revenge Body.

While I haven’t seen it, and probably won’t, I feel I know enough to say it sounds bad. KK gets people to tell their stories, about who they want revenge on (exes/haters) and then helps them lose however much weight they’re convinced is the key to their future happiness. I say helps, I think it’s the trainers and nutritionists, not to mention the ‘revenge seekers’ that do all the work.

The concept of looking banging to fuck off your ex is nothing new obviously and not invented by a Kardashian*. I can’t deny that it is a satisfying notion to bump into someone who’s been hideous to you looking your very best, but the thing about this for me is that it’s all the focused on the body. On looks on the whole.

Like, I get it. Fat is bad. Fat is the last thing any woman would ever want to be because it is so heinous, I get it. Every day it is drummed into me and I get it. We’re nothing and nobody while we’re fat and should always be on some sort of journey away from it, at the very least. Except, I am fat and I likely always will be. I also love myself.  What’s all that about?

Revenge Body and its current publicity campaign has got me thinking about my own RB though. The body I wish to express myself with, to defiantly face the world in. The body I would like to greet every one of my no-good exes with, should I ever be unfortunate enough to bump into any of them (there’s only one horrid one and if I saw him, believe that my RB would be the very last thing on my mind).

This body here. 

My revenge is my defiantly fat and well-loved body. Soft stomach, wobbly thighs, lumps, bumps and dimples.

And the greatest lesson I’ve ever learnt is this: if you can look upon yourself and say, you know what I see my ‘flaws’ and I love myself anyway, then nobody else has the power to take anything away from you. People can’t throw your own imperfections back in your face if you love them.

They can say “God look at your fat arse!”, and you can say “I know, it’s good right? MASSIVE!”.**

So fuck fat haters, diet chatters, guilt trippers, old boyfriends who treated you like shit, people who think you should lose weight, self-appointed doctors, ‘well-meaning’ relatives, men in white vans, men in any capacity, anybody who thinks they have the right to comment on anybody else’s body or looks, myself included. And fuck self-doubt.

Fuck them all.

*I’m not a Kardashian hater, promise.
**I make it sound easy, don’t I? It’s not easy, but it is satisfying when you start to really believe it. 

A Monday 

enjoyI’ve stolen this from Meghan who stole it from a family member. I’m not sure my usual weekly routine would constitute a good read but yesterday was quite the emotional roller coaster for me, so I’ll try to accurately relive it.

I’ll also mention work quite a bit which is rare for me. I tend to keep that part private.

~

My first alarm goes off at 6.30 so I know I have another half an hour to snooze before I have to get up. 7 comes and I roll out of bed.

I started my period the night before so my body aches and my stomach is cramping. As with all Mondays I have that knot of dread about the working week ahead (for no good reason). I think two things as I stretch: a) about that saying you’re in the wrong job if you hate Mondays (I think you’d still be wary regardless) and b) why do I always ache so much? It’s age, isn’t it?

Glynn has made me a cup of tea which is waiting on the side. I put the box on while I paint my face on. Glynn asks me if I’ve seen the new Ghost in the Shell trailer yet. I have, we discuss it for a few minutes. I have some concerns about it.

As I complete my face and run the straighteners through my bedhead, I watch The Goldbergs and then switch over to Good Morning Britain (I know, I know). Piers Morgan is on and is blowing hot air as usual. I leave the house at 8.10 after brushing my teeth vigorously. I had a filling a week ago and it still tastes like metal.

On the way to work I pass my official ‘selfie’ wall. I don’t stop this morning as my complexion is shot to shit (period) and I’m wearing a very unremarkable outfit. I pass the house of the guy who tattooed me last. I get toast with peanut butter on the way into the office.

I walk in and shout good morning. I get a few grunts back which is classed as a small victory, usually there’s nothing. Our small Marketing team has a brief catch up before and after 9am. Not just saying this for the purposes of a good post, I’m much luckier than most to work with such good people.

Tatty and I receive a group message on Facebook from a colleague saying that another colleague has split up with her partner over the weekend. We all agree she needs extra TLC. Later said colleague mentions the break up to us herself. We all tell her she deserves the moon and stars because she does.

The morning passes in a blur of emails and phone calls and quote requests. I email James my podcast partner a lot to discuss this coming week’s viewing homework. We have seven films to watch by Saturday’s recording. We record two episodes of All Out of Bubblegum fortnightly and publish every Wednesday. I talk about my podcast a lot because I love doing it so much. This week will revolve around a film a night, not really a hardship for me.

I have a baked potato for lunch and write some of a blog post. It’s my review of an Egyptian film called Excuse My French, due to be published tonight. I collaborate with Jillian who will post her review at roughly the same time, her time. I also order a dress for the Christmas party, coming up on the 9th. I was going to go for a hot pink number but at the last minute, opt for chocolate brown.

I have lots of creative pursuits outside work which make me very happy indeed but sometimes it reflects back on my day to day work unfavorably. As a team we do a lot of production which I enjoy as it involves talking to lots of people and is very varied but I do long for more creative projects. Wahhhh, I’m such a baby.

After lunch Tatty and I gossip in the kitchen with our colleague, the one who’s just split up with her girlfriend. She’s in good humor but we’re both angry she’s been hurt. We talk for at least 15 minutes over the kettle. I get back to my desk still in a good mood but there’s something on my mind. I receive a parcel which is a bag I’d ordered the day before. A few people roll their eyes as they walk past me into a meeting. They all know I have an acute shopping addiction.

I’ve not been feeling great about myself or things for a while now and I’m emotional today. At around 4 something happens with a project I’ve been on the outskirts of that makes me cross ( I won’t bore with details). I’m bad at hiding my negative feelings so talk to Tatty in a separate room.

Once I close the door I burst into tears and it feels like I’m crying for everything bad that’s ever happened (like the Le Tigre track). I’m really embarrassed but it feels good to open up. I express myself badly about frustrations at work, my crisis in the lead up to my birthday (on the 25th), how I feel about myself. I’m a hot mess but we iron things out and I know things are going to be better.

The gist of where I am is this: I’m a (nearly) 39 women with no clue of where I’m going in life (career wise). Tatty pointed out my creative drive and helped me understand that nobody hates me, even though I think they do every day. I know my anxiety is out of control, I doubt everything I do and I want to feel better. I cry some more but come out feeling better, despite the puffy eyes. I’m impressed with my friend who’s great at this stuff and practical too. We’ve formed a plan for me to get more out of my role, which is to build it the way I actually want it.

Even though I feel better, I feel a bit foolish for being so snotty, I’m the ugliest crier. I know I won’t be judged but paranoia tries to mess with my head again. I’m going for birthday drinks after work so fix my make-up and try to remember that tomorrow is a new day.

At the pub I enjoy a double vodka and diet Coke, catch up a bit with my friend Paul. The boys leave and I spend time with some of the girls, who are all from a different department. There’s a guy there who was fired a few month back. He’s on good form though, we talk about work and other things. At 7.20pm I leave and pick up a terrible TV dinner for Glynn and I. Glynn’s been cleaning the kitchen and has done a load of washing. I burst into tears again when I see him. He hugs me, makes me tea and then feeds me. I’m the luckiest person on the planet.

We watch a documentary called Tabloid together about a nuts but remarkable American woman who caused a major scandal in the 1970’s in England. I get confused because I’m not concentrating as I’m finishing up my blog post. I eat a Wispa for pudding and have a cup of tea before bed. Glynn has dry roasted peanuts. We retire to the boudoir at 10pm. I shower first and read a bit of my current book The Disaster Artist, which was recommended to me by James.

It’s homework for an upcoming ‘special’ on our podcast. I tweet a bit, on behalf of the podcast (@alloutofgumpod) and as myself. I talk to a business owner I really admire about a piece I’ve commissioned. It’s a necklace that looks like Barb from Stranger Things. I look forward to receiving her now, maybe tomorrow.

I go to sleep at about 11pm. I still feel embarrassed about my outburst this afternoon, which I hadn’t planned. I think again how I have to do something about the way I’m feeling and my own self belief. But then I think it only gets me at low points, in general I’m a happy person. I remind myself again that I’ll feel better in the morning.

Don’t you just love the time between lights out and total oblivion? ❤

The Girl with the Prison Tattoos

download2I’ve talked about my relationship with tattoos before. Where it began, how I used them to rebel, how I used them to express myself, gain strength and empowerment, accept my body and sometimes just for shits n’ gigs. So what on earth else is left to say?

I thought I would try to tattoo myself recently because honestly, why not? Stick and poke has become super popular, even more so than it was back when I got my first, administered with a needle tied to a piece of bamboo in Thailand.

So, as with many things over the years, I thought I’d give it a go myself. Like singing and stand-up comedy, there’s always something that makes me wonder whether this new thing, whatever it is, could be my thing.

This time it isn’t but it’s still good to try, right? Turns out stick and poke tattoos are hard to master. Who knew?

My first was quite ambitious. I chose a Beyoncé lyric because why wouldn’t you? And then I just went for it.

DISCLAIMER: I should note here that I bought proper tattoo needles and ink and then did a shitload of research on poking your own skin (which meant watching a ton of horrible amateur videos). I made sure my ‘station’ was cleaner than Rory Gilmore’s mind and that, my friends is all I can tell you. 

img_2874You can argue that my first tattoo didn’t turn out that great. The reality is that I got bored and uncomfortable in the position I was hunched in. I used a very thin needle (3s), which made it harder to punch the ink into my skin.

It stung a bit but it wasn’t bad. I was more paranoid about cleanliness. I think I’ll definitely go back for another go, why not? I’ve since been given a bit of advice by a tattooist on needle size (start with 7s) and he thinks this will clean up quite nicely.

Maybe I’ll share the results, who knows? Not so bad for a first attempt though, right? Plus, Queen B always.

~

img_0698I’ve wanted tattooed cuticles for TIME and that is the main reason I bought the needles.

I love how these have turned out but I suppose it would be very difficult to fuck up what is essentially just a full stop. They took forever but I am so happy with them. It also feels kind of badass rocking my own ink, administered by me.

I’m not sure this is the secret new career for me. Gone are the very brief dreams of me discovering a (deeply) hidden talent and rising through the ranks to become the finest stick and poke tattooist in the land, revered by all, feared by many. Or something.

I’ve been asked by a couple of friends to do some dots on them though.

Which is kind of the same thing. ❤

Radical

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I don’t know who’s artwork this is, but I love it

I saw this video yesterday, posted as part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek and like most women would on viewing it, felt very emotional.

Why is it, still, that we’re so quick to trash talk ourselves, yet would never dream of doing the same to our friends or other women? (Hopefully).

Why is it, after all this time, after all the girl power mantras, the compliment-heavy chats in toilets with drunken girls on drunken nights and all the pushing back against the impossible (and ever changing) beauty ideal, we still can’t cut ourselves some fucking slack?

It’s a simple view but I like the idea of trying to speak to myself as I would my beautiful best friends. Of seeing myself every now and again and saying “You’re beautiful girl, look at you!”.

I don’t feel pretty all the time, in fact I’m tired of the negative voice that says I’m worthless, old and lumpy, that I’m a monster who doesn’t even look human compared to anybody else.

The same voice tells me my husband is only with me for a bet (a long bet), and that people feel sick when they look at me.

Every day is a battle to get on top of that point of view and to quash it. To remind myself that it’s just one voice, that there’s a stronger voice in there somewhere, it just doesn’t shout as loud.

I’m willing to keep fighting to be honest. What other choice do I have? I’m not going down with that hateful ship, no way.

How do you practice #radicalselflove? ❤

Guest Post: RuPaul, Childline and Me

14063929_1773865192893670_8813665282415473580_nI really love Hannah of Ponderous Pieces and have followed her across several blogs for a number of years (where does the time go?). I’m particularly a fan of her book reviews. We’ve not met in the flesh yet but you know when you start following someone and they’re in your news feeds every day and you end up feeling like you really know them? That.

Hannah is definitely one to follow so I hope you do. Enjoy this post and then show her some love! ❤

A photo by Milada Vigerova. unsplash.com/photos/kT0tsYZ2YE0

For nearly a year now I have been volunteering for Childline, so I thought, what better subject to write about for Christa as the first anniversary approaches of something that has changed my life.

When I initially applied I was living in Aberdeen, having moved there from Glasgow for – as always – a boy.  I found being in Aberdeen very difficult; I was a three hour train journey away from my friends and it took me ages to find even a part time job. I wasn’t adjusting very well to my support network being so far away and to having nothing to do but shuffle about a flat that was a tad “in the sticks” all day.

I am not somebody who does very well having too much time on my hands. I suffer from anxiety, so give me enough space and time and I will string myself up into a quivering mess with worry and stress. I also, as the Dr put it, have” touches of depression” so endless time to stare and churn over dark thoughts is to be avoided at all costs.

So, I was feeling miserable, lonely and without having much in the way of employment, didn’t feel like I had much to contribute – to the world. At all.

I felt under my BF’s feet and didn’t know how to adapt to my new situation. While he was taking everything in his stride and striving, I felt like I was curling up at the sides. It didn’t take long for the darkness to start creeping in at the edges, chewing  up any self-esteem I had. Hours would go by and I hadn’t moved from whichever spot my BF had left me in that morning, I hadn’t washed and I’m not convinced I always remembered to blink. I couldn’t face going outside. I’d spend all day like a housebound dog waiting for him to come home, literally sat at the window from about 4pm waiting for his car to turn into the driveway. The relief everyday when I saw that black Peugeot was heavenly.

My anxiety was getting pretty bad, not the worse its been, but getting there. I would get the shakes just thinking about having to walk the 4 minutes to the Spar. I got into this vicious circle where I believed the only good thing I could bring to the relationship was the certainty of milk in the fridge, but because I was feeling so slow and meaningless, going to the Spar became something I almost couldn’t face. All I had to do was buy a pint of milk – I couldn’t even get that right.

I needed to pull myself out of my slump, I was keeping how I felt a secret from my BF, depriving him of the chance of helping me. A stupid decision, and yes, I got out of it, but with hindsight I should have said something. I decided I needed something to fill my days, having so much empty time was giving my mind too much roaming space, too many gnarly horrible logs to look under. It needs a tighter leash. So I signed up for an OU introductory course in counselling. It was all theory based – lots of reading and researching – exactly what I needed! I found it really interesting and not only did it cement in  me that counselling was an avenue I wanted to pursue, it also helped me step back from my own thoughts and view everything I was feeling more logically.

One day when I was job hunting, a cheery, engaging and very green Childline advert popped up looking for volunteer counsellors. It was the enthusiastic, daring shove I was looking for. It promised the outlet I needed, the distraction I wanted, and the vindication I craved. The interview was the hardest I have ever endured, but I was OVER THE MOON when I got a call telling me I had been accepted.

But, things then went pretty wrong again and having accepted the place I found myself having to move back to Glasgow. Out of the blue, My BF ended our relationship and it felt like I had been hit by a train. Just as I thought my life was taking the right turn it was smashed into a million pieces. So, I was back to staring, back to thinking, crying until I was sick, back to feeling nothing and like no-one.  I resisted and resisted getting my Childline application transferred to the Glasgow office – this, for me, would be finally admitting that everything was over with my BF and I really, really didn’t want to do that. Every time the woman from the Glasgow office called me about it I had another excuse, then another. If I moved my application then I was DEFINITELY going back to Glasgow, and it was definitely, definitely all over.

During that time, I spent most of my time up in bed, I stopped working and festered with my broken heart. But I was saved by a man, no, many men, in wigs. Surrounded by decimated tissues I binge watched Ru-Paul’s Drag Race – and never have I found refuge and peace in such a bizarre place before! It’s pomp and colour, its glamour and irreverence was the exact opposite of what I was feeling – I was a stinking, blotchy, sweaty sack of shit. But it turned out to be exactly what I needed! I found the whole thing so uplifting and beautiful that it managed to shake me out of my trance. I saw life again as some daft, silly romp full of chances for fun and that I could just fucking get through it on my own. I was going to get my head up, hit that runway and sissy my walk.

Before I got to the end of season 4 I was phoning the Glasgow NSPCC office to confirm a training spot and it was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made.

Whenever I have dark pukey moments now I have something to immediately counteract them- something I did all by myself, something that scares me each week  but that I still do. I  feel appreciated – when do you really feel that way at work? – and I like that I have this lovely, giving thing in my life. Hearing a young person laughing at some goofy joke you’ve made, having been in floods of tears half an hour earlier is glorious. Or just having them go “huh! I didn’t know that, that’s cool! I feel so much better” is THE BEST thing. Since last October I can honestly say that I like the person that I am now and that I deserve good things to happen to me. I never, EVER thought I would feel that way.

I have met wonderful people that make me howl with laughter, enrich my soul and make getting up at 4.30am on a Saturday morning so very worth it. It’s nearly my one year anniversary and its the charities 30th this year – I thank the world for its existence every day – it has done as much for me as it does for young people 24 hours a day.

I have recently been offered a full time job there, obviously I bit their hand off, but I was asked: “are  you going to carry on volunteering as well?”

– for the second time in my life, the decision was blissfully easy.