Powerful Bloody Women

I’m open about most things. To the point of oversharing, definitely. But I don’t think I’ve ever written about periods before. Or, for that matter, been able to use the phrase ‘menstrual cycle’ without embodying the spirit of my uptight Year Nine sex-ed* teacher who didn’t understand the concept of lesbianism and seemed awfully uncomfortable telling a class of teenage girls what this menstruation nonsense was all about.

(*It wasn’t called sex-ed. I’m British; it was called Personal, Social and Health Education which is much more repressed and unhelpful.)

Anyway. Times are changing, my friends, and here I am, using the phrase ‘menstrual cycle’ on a publicly open platform. I don’t even care if you cut me out of your life for such a transgression! Gosh and cripes.

It’s just, I’ve only just realised how much power there is in really knowing what’s going on with myself every month. Physically, mentally, energetically… When I discovered that there was a pattern to the madness of my life – and one shared by practically every woman – I had a total ‘aha!’ moment. Except…that makes me sound like Alan Partridge.

Alan-Partridge

We’re actually quite similar, facially…

More of an ‘Oh!’ moment, then.

I can’t help but suspect you won’t be interested in the history of my period (why not, though?) so feel free to skip the next paragraph. I provide it only for backstory.

When I was about 27, I came off the pill after more than a decade and found myself battling really shitty skin again. That was why I’d gone on the pill in the first place. But now I just wanted to have some control over my body and my skin – I wanted to be well and function properly without having to rely on chemicals that were having fuck knows what effect on my body and fertility. I tried a lot of things: veganism, supplements, psychotherapy (on myself, I should add – I read a book called Skin Deep that was all about the psychology behind having acne. It was a fun read), affirmations, meditation, keeping a cycle-diary. I was desperate for my period to return so I could see what effect my hormones were having on my skin. When I got to day 245 of my cycle, though…I started to think something was up. At some point in all this, I did have a period, and then it went away again. When I got pregnant with my first daughter the midwife asked for the date of my last period. I told her it was 9 months ago; it was a weird moment.

Fast forward to this year – and I finally got back in the flow (as t’were) after pregnancy and breastfeeding etc. I had three cycles, at which point reflecting on my behaviour caused me to pause for a moment and squint into the distance. I asked myself, ‘am I dealing with a split personality, or is this somehow…normal?’

Because, seriously. Let’s (wrongly) assume I have a 28 day cycle and take an average month. For half of it, I’d be a motivated writer, full of ideas and confidence and – crucially – the ability to sit down at my keyboard and write. Then for a quarter of it, I’d be unable to do anything but critique everything I’d written and snippily edit my work, finding fault with it all. Then, for the final quarter I’d be able to do NOTHING AT ALL. No words. Words would not happen. I wouldn’t even want to open my laptop, let alone muster up creative energy and pour it out.

That happened several times, and each time, that ‘dry’ week made me question everything. (As did the annoying critiquing month, but as least then I was still sort of writing).

And it’s not just writing. You should see my wardrobe. It’s the wardrobe of someone who doesn’t know who the hell they are. It’s mostly grey and black, and sensible boots and tights. But there are weird things in there. My pink fur coat. Suede pink platform sandals I can’t walk in. Tropical print skirts. Sheer shirts. Crop-tops. A jumpsuit! Cute, quirky slogan tees that I put on then immediately replace with something less controversial.

When I purchase those things, I’m desperate to wear them. But by the time they arrive and the weather is right for me to do so, it’s like I have no idea why they are in my wardrobe. It’s like someone else ordered them for me. A fun version of me. The version of me I like to think I am, but frequently turn out not to be.

I make social plans that just two or three weeks later I dread the thought of, despite my excitement at the time. I make plans to decorate my house in pastel colours, only to find a week and half later that I want to paint everything navy and embrace low-lighting.

I kind of rolled with it, but all along I wondered… Is it just me? Am I really just so insecure that I can’t make up my mind who I am or what I want? Because I don’t feel insecure. I like myself a lot, even if I never know quite which version of myself I’m going to wake up to.

Then I downloaded an ebook called Adore Your Cycle, by a women’s coach and author called Claire Baker. I’d followed her for a while via her blog, and something kept pulling me back to her and her approach to women’s health and periods. I made the decision to download her book – and just as I went online to do so, she sent an email with a 50% off code. Winner.

Honestly, it is transforming my life. I mean, I only read it last week, so it’s probably too soon to say, but the RELIEF and understanding that I experienced when I read the book was immense. She explains how women’s cycles follow different seasons – withdrawn, silent winter (when you’re bleeding), outgoing, flirty spring (up to ovulation), proactive and motivated summer (after ovulation), then reflective, critical autumn (pre-menstrual).

It explained all of my tropical-print skirts (bought them in my ‘spring’ phase). It explained my writers block (ALWAYS when I had my period, why did that not click sooner?!). It explained my drive to edit. It explained why for a week or so each month I’d suddenly want to change EVERYTHING ABOUT MY LIFE and do all the things I’d previously lacked confidence to do.

Ugh. Why did I not know this from the start? WHY? I can work with this knowledge! I know when to sit down and write, and when to expect my inner-editor to come out. I can plan for that! I can make peace with the fact that – for seven days or so, while my uterus decides to just fall to pieces – I’m actually not gonna want to create much, thanks. Just going to want to sit here, in silence, and watch chick flicks and cry about very small things. The book will wait.

And I know when to make life changes, and when to hold back. I know when to start trying to save the world, and when things are likely to overwhelm me and make me feel like my actions won’t be worth the effort. I know when to try and change my diet and make it stick. I know when to accept that I won’t be able to fight cravings, and to not give up just because I have a bad few days.

There is so much POWER in this knowledge. I can’t tell you how energised I feel by it. (I mean, I can tell you. That’s what I’m doing right now.)

You might relate to some of this, or you might relate to none at all and wish I’d stop saying ‘menstrual cycle’ already. I know when I mentioned it to my colleagues, they said I was sounding dangerously close to being someone who uses a Mooncup.

And you know what, I probably am. Maybe. (They are actually a lot bigger IRL than I imagined and that frightens me, so….it’s not a definite no.)

But that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about being a hippie, earthy, ‘I am woman hear me roar’ do-gooder (I can only aspire to such giddy heights). This is about realising that we hold power in different ways at different times, and that if we learned to work with those powers instead of sucking it up and carrying on as normal, then maybe we’ll all be a little bit…better? Happier? Aligned with ourselves, at least. Empowered, definitely.

I’m going to be reading so much more into this. I’m quite excited about what else I might discover about myself. If you’re in any way interested, I’d recommend you check out Claire Baker’s website and see what resonates. Her free resources are a good place to start.

After a bit of experimenting, I’ve finally found the right week in the month where I can actually wear my red lipstick without feeling utterly ridiculous. I might even graduate to my jumpsuit, next cycle….

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Look lively, lads.

 

When is a breakdown actually a breakthrough?

This is totally out of left field, so bear with me. I may be having a tiny breakdown, or a breakthrough, or just….a weird moment of hormonally induced panic.

So, here’s the thing.

A few things have been going on in my life for the past two weeks, big internal discussions and revelations and changes. One of those things has been my never-ending search for purpose. I’ve talked at length about my writing and starting my self-publishing journey, but I’m not sure that writing alone is it for me. It’s my joy, not necessarily my raison d’être.

For a long time now I’ve been really drawn to the idea of coaching. Life-coaching, I suppose; the kind that helps people transform and grow and find inner peace and confidence and do things that bring them joy. But at the same time, the idea of life-coaching has always struck me as a bit…embarrassing? All I think of is that scene from Friends where Rachel’s narcissistic school-friend explains her new job:

Melissa: I wanted to get out of [real estate] and do something where I can really help people, and make a difference.

Rachel: Wow! So what do you do now?

tenor

That’s how I can’t help feeling about life-coaching. Like it’s a job people do when they think they are changing the world, but are actually just being a bit wanky and pretentious.

Nevertheless, my heart is being tugged towards a career of connection and transformation, so I’ve been looking into coaching courses, and wondering if I’m ready to financially (and time-wise) make the commitment.

But whyyyy?

But all the while, I’ve been asking myself this: ‘What do I want to coach people to do? Who do I want to coach? Why?’ For a while I liked the idea of coaching people like me, who are trying to juggle motherhood and finding their own purposeful, meaningful outlets beyond parenting. Maybe even writers, who need to get rid of a lot of mental (and physical) blocks to find the time and confidence to follow their dreams of writing.

I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe it would just occur to me as I trained and researched, and started coaching, perhaps. I’m not one of those people who has an amazing transformational story I can tell to demonstrate the benefit of coaching; I’ve changed, but internally; from the outside my life looks the same as it always did, even if I look at it in a totally different way.

Anyway, these are the things that have been mulling around in my head. So I did what I often do late at night, and asked my inner guidance system to reassure me and give me a sign. ‘I’ll know it when I see it,’ I told myself.

Breakdown?

Then today, I attended a mental health event at work. We had a guest speaker who talked openly about her suicide attempts as a teenager and her transformation from deeply depressed to becoming driven to inspire young people. It was a moving, raw and heartfelt talk.

But that’s not what did me in.

Afterwards, students and colleagues came forward with their own stories of depression, suicide attempts and bleak, black despair. There were so many more than I’d expected.

But that’s not what did me in, either.

When I got back to my desk, I logged into Facebook to share a post about the event with students, and I got side-tracked by a piece someone had posted about climate change. It was a really, really frightening piece. But not full of scare-mongering for the sake of it. I can ignore those. This was balanced and heartfelt, and basically made the point that, in the writer’s opinion, with the havoc we’re wreaking on the planet there’s no way many of us will make it to old age. That’s scary enough, but I have two little girls. Two little, innocent daughters. If I don’t make it to old age… What of them?

Ok, so that’s what did me in.

I suddenly felt overwhelmed with horror. I’m great at burying my head in the sand, but I couldn’t seem to stick it in for enough this time.

It was a tsunami of anger at people in positions of power and influence who should effing well know better, and at myself for not taking enough responsibility myself. I felt an avalanche of helplessness for not knowing where to start. I felt guilty for having chosen to have children, for bringing them into such an uncertain, indefinite world that I’ve not played a positive enough part in saving. And I felt absolutely terrified.

Just before I had my first baby, I had a dream where I was standing on a beach, watching a catastrophic tsunami slowly move towards us. All I could think was that I needed to be with my mum and dad, my brother and sister. We needed to huddle together. After my daughter was born I had another dream, but this time the sun was too hot, and the atmosphere was overheating. The end was imminent, and again, all I wanted to do was gather my family under my wing and huddle.

I recalled these dreams as I sat at my desk and had an unexpected cry, hoping nobody would walk in and see me. In an effort to combat the overwhelming fear, I started looking into groups I could join, or things I could do – anything­ – but it all seemed so hopeless and confusing and shouty.

So I went to the toilet and cried a bit more.

Tell me what to do

Then I came back to my desk, stared blankly at the wall, and said – out loud, like a madzer – ‘I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do.’

Nothing happened, until I realised that I had a blank email open on my screen, and that in the top corner was a little Microsoft lightbulb and a line saying: ‘Tell me what you want to do…’

And I stopped crying and laughed, because that was kind of cool. And then I realised that actually what I wanted to do was stop myself and others from feeling the way I did at that moment. I wanted to be able to take someone’s fear and guilt and overwhelm, and turn it into a positive, optimistic and hopeful plan that might even translate into real change in the world.

Heal yourself, heal the world and all that.

I don’t want to be the party-planner version of a life-coach. I want to help people feel like they have the power to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it may seem from the outset.

I want to help people do it without fear of not being enough, or of failing, and with fun and happiness and lightness. And swearing and smut, if you like – it’s your life, damnit.

So that’s my goal.

Changing the world, though. I mean, oof. I’ve got to start with myself, with my life. And you know what that bloody means, don’t you?

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I’ve got to dig out the re-usable nappies again…

Writing, parenting, everything: it’s only ever about the journey

I find it so hard to exist in the moment sometimes.  Especially when I’m writing or sleep training or staring at my boring white walls; I want the end goal now, damn it!  I want the novel finished, edited, enrobed in a glossy cover and out there making money for me!  I want my children to be sleeping through the night and not waking every few hours for no reason!  I want to be able to embrace the ‘dark walls’ trend without having to go through the ‘living-room looks like a bomb-site’ bit!

Who was it who said that being alive is basically just dying a little bit more every day?  I don’t think that was my brain, though I frequently think similar thoughts.  But it’s true; wanting the end goal in any situation is a bit like saying ‘I want to just get it all over and done with and do the being dead bit now, please, because all this bit in the middle is just a bit tedious.  I’m impatient, you know?  I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything.’

It’s a really weird way to live.  We all do it, but it’s fundamentally flawed.

I’m starting work on a new story at the moment, about a woman who wants to relive her teenage years because she felt that her own were such a disappointment, but when she does get to experience teenage life again, she realises it’s a total mind-fuck.  (That wasn’t the word I was going to use, actually, but it slipped out.)  Anyway, I wrote the outline this morning and then wrote the first couple of scenes, and then thought, ‘Ugh.  This is going to take a long time.  I’m still working on the first novel and I technically finished that two years ago.  Why can’t it just be done already?’

Then I caught myself.  What?  Why would I want the thing that I most enjoy doing to be over?  I love the act of writing. I love coming up with ideas and pulling almost-tangible characters out of thin air to go and live these adventures.  I bloody love putting words in people’s mouths.  I’d put ’em in yours, if I saw you.  So why on earth am I wishing it was all over already?

Then I realised that what I actually wanted was the freedom to keep doing it.  Even whilst I was doing it, I wanted to be doing more of it.  The money fantasy…it’s great.  It’s unlikely, but it’s a lovely dream.  But even if I never made a penny I’d still write, I just love the idea that someone one day might pay so that it can be all I do.  But it’s strange to fantasise about doing the thing you are CURRENTLY DOING.

I saw something on Instagram a while ago that captured that feeling of having a beautiful moment, and whilst you are still experiencing that beautiful moment (like a kiss in the rain, or a breathtaking sunset), you are simultaneously experiencing nostalgia FOR THE SAME MOMENT.

I guess what I’m basically saying is we are all screwed up and strange, wanting what we’ve already got but ignoring the magic of it at the same time.

I woke up the other morning and for a second, felt really excited.  Like something amazing was going to happen.  Then I remembered it was just a random Tuesday, nothing exciting was going to happen.  But THEN (I know, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion in my head before 9am) I told myself: No!  Something amazing COULD happen!  Anything could happen!  This is a brand new day, which you are alive to witness, influence and create, and damnit you SHOULD be excited!  Every morning!’

This was meant to be a few words to say: let’s all stop being so focused on the end goal and just enjoy the little moments, shall we?  They don’t all have to be amazing.  Having my hair pulled by my 6 month old isn’t enriching for the soul.  Scraping Babybel wax out of the rug isn’t invigorating for my well-being.  But in every moment, anything could happen.  Everything could change.  It might not.  But it could.

That’s what makes great stories.  That’s what makes great lives.

Off to peel stickers off my laminate wood flooring now.  #livingmybestlife

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You don’t have to be unhappy to love Self-Help books

I’ve mentioned previously my love of what are generally classed as ‘self-help’ books.  They always make me feel inspired and hopeful and give me tools to be a little bit better out here in the world, as well as inside my own head.  I don’t have a particular niche, either – I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to helping myself.  Here are some of the topics I’ve read up on within the rather broad genre:

  • Self-acceptance
  • The power of the present moment
  • Gratitude
  • Magic
  • The murky world of the Law of Attraction (Or….Spacestar Ordering, perhaps?)
  • How to listen to your intuition
  • How to find your purpose
  • The connection between food and health
  • Vitamin therapy
  • Quantum physics
  • The principles of thought, mind and consciousness
  • Meditation
  • Forgiveness
  • Manifesting
  • Relationships
  • God
  • Angels
  • Near Death Experiences
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques
  • How to find a career doing what you love
  • Hypnobirthing

Oh, God, the list goes on, honestly.  Some topics really grabbed me, others didn’t resonate at all. I’ve used my connection with any particular topic to steer me through the maze of resources and find the things that could really make a difference to me.  Sometimes a topic was utterly ridiculous in one author’s words, but totally made sense to me in another’s.  I can say – without question – that on the whole, reading these books have made me a happier, calmer, more rational and less volatile human being.  I’ve developed tools and techniques and knowledge that have enabled me to be a better partner, sister, daughter, friend and mother.  More importantly, I’ve developed an incredibly positive relationship with myself.

But I’ve always treated my secret reading habits (neatly hidden away on my Kindle) as a bit of a guilty pleasure.  Maybe thanks to Bridget Jones, or just my own preconceptions of the kind of person who read self-help books, I’ve always suspected that perhaps you had to be a bit of a messed up, unhappy soul to want other people to teach you how to live.  That never rang true for me, as I’ve always been a pretty contented person, and would rate my general happiness level as a solid 9 out of 10.  Still, I kept my books and what I’d learned hidden away.  (Apart from when my terrible impulse to advise other people would break free and I’d start talking/lecturing/boring…..but anyway.)

Just now, however, I read a quote featured in a very lovely parenting book written by someone I know, which zinged through me, connecting all the dots.  It was this:

“When a person feels that he is truly accepted by another, as he is, then he is freed to move from there and begin to think about how he wants to change, how he wants to grow, how he can be different, how he might become more of what he is capable of being.”

It’s apparently by Thomas Gordon, a pioneer in teaching communication skills.  I’d never heard of him.  But it allllllll clicked suddenly.  The very first self help book I ever read was in about 2012.  At the time, I’d been with my now husband for 2 years, was about to start the process of buying our first house, was settled in Cheltenham (and had got over the irrational urge to go and live in either Brighton or Australia (?!)) – in summary, life was peachy and I was loved and settled.   And my secret affair with self help began.

Now I realise it wasn’t because deep down I was insecure or unhappy or lacking something – it was because I had all of my basic needs fulfilled and felt able to become more than what I was.  I felt energised to grow, to learn more about myself and my beliefs and my role in the world.  I wanted – in short – to be even better than I already felt I was.

And it worked.  I’ve grown hugely as a person and I feel more positive about the past, present and future than I ever have before.  Life runs more smoothly.  I get things that I want.  I live well.

So to anybody who thinks self help books are for losers, weirdos, complete suckers or hippies – you’re missing out on an awful lot of great opportunities to have a better life.  And anybody who shares my secret ‘guilty pleasure’ – read on loud and proud!

Wanting to be better doesn’t mean there’s something inferior about you in the first place.

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Me, reading that terrible book about angels that made me afraid to close my eyes at night for several weeks.  Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

 

First Novel Writing Competition – Entered!

The Daily Mail are running a ‘first novel’ competition, and this is my first novel AND first competition entry, so…. maybe it should be first first novel writi-

You know what, doesn’t matter.  Bored.  The point is, I’ve sent off my 3000 word opening chapter, my 600 word synopsis and now I can just sit back and hope for the best.  Except, to be honest, I don’t feel that hopeful of my chances.  And I can’t work out whether I’m being overly self-critical or if perhaps it is justified.

I remember when I was younger and learning what Anorexia was, and my mum trying to explain it by saying ‘it’s when you look in the mirror and instead of seeing what’s real, you see a fat person.’  My dad, who was then quite rotund, piped up with ‘oh, I must have that then because whenever I look in the mirror I see a fat person!’

(Obviously, eating disorders are no laughing matter, but you know what dads are like – and it did make confused, pre-teen me laugh)

I wonder whether I’m sort of doing the same – assuming that what I’m seeing in my own writing is a distorted version of reality when in actual fact…. it really is just fat.

The point is that I’ll never know, so it’s best to just assume it’s all fine, give it a decent, shot, and then if nothing comes of it give it a loving pat on the head and put it to bed for a long sleep.  And crack on with another project.  Deep down, I feel as though if I’d really written something I knew could be a goer, I’d feel it in my bones.

Speaking of next projects, I’m strangely compelled to write some teenage fiction about mermaids…..  I know not why or how or when, but once the urge has taken hold it’s bloody hard to shake off.  So far it is manifesting itself as a series of cryptic, mermaid related notes scattered around the house and on my phone, most of which seem like THE BEST AND MOST INSPIRED THING EVER in the precise moment before I fall asleep but which, in the cold light of the following morning read:

Sea floor but like mindfulness?  No mouths thought packages??

Or, more disturbingly:

Find out how fish have sex.

Sigh.  One day, when you are holding my best-selling teen-mermaid oeuvre in your hands, remember how it all first started.  With idle thoughts of fish sex and utter nonsense.

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Are they doing it right now? WHO KNOWS?  (Possible fish-porn photo by HAMID ELBAZ on Pexels.com)

 

The fear of being seen

I’m not a shrinking violet, but I definitely, definitely self-edit and censor myself far more than I’m starting to think I should.

Why is that?

I’ve noticed it more lately as I’ve started trying to use social media a bit more…..productively. Or at least, authentically. Initially I got all fired up about the thought of writing this blog and finding a freelance career for myself and promoting it via Twitter and Instagram and….whatever. (I never use Facebook so if/when I end up jumping back on that wagon it will be with reluctance.) I quickly realised that whilst motivation is excellent, it might also be useful to have an idea of what I am trying to achieve if I’m to do any kind of self-promotion.

Ah. No, yeah, I don’t have that yet. I just have a desire to be doing something.

And hot on the heels of that realisation came the awareness that I am really, really wary of social media. And any kind of platform for self-promotion. It’s not that I don’t understand it – it’s my paid job, for crying out loud. And as long as I’m doing it for a cause that is not me, I love it! I’ll shamelessly promote student events and workshops and careers information until the cow GIFS come mooing home.

But just talking about myself online? Weird. I do it in person ALL THE TIME. And on my blogs. Favourite subject, hands down. Unashamedly self-absorbed lady, at your service. But after setting up a new Twitter account, the fear of being watched by a (completely non-existent) audience of potentially millions of online strangers gripped me and I convinced myself I had nothing of value, interest or worth to say.

Which, quite frankly, hasn’t stopped ANYONE ELSE.

In real life, I’m a very honest person. I thrive on empathy. I took this too far once when (reluctantly) talking to an old dude in an Edinburgh Wetherspoons who was talking about his regrettable spell in prison; I nodded sagely and said “Ahh, we’ve all been there,” which led my friend Amy to remove me from the premises.

But the point is, I’m honest in real life and a little shadow of myself on social media. I consider posting multiple times a day – snapshots with my pixie child, or Tweets about pregnancy, or Bake Off, or whatever, but I always censor myself. And then end up posting an anodyne version of whatever I really intended and wondering why I find it all so unrewarding.

love seeing other people’s really honest posts. I accept that most social media is a curated version of who we are, and that’s totally fine (as long as people are aware of that….my worry is when people start to feel inadequate because their home isn’t entirely composed of marble-surfaced flat-lays, or their cheekbones aren’t really those of an anime fawn) but damn it, I love seeing a bit of personality! Even if it’s really cringey, or sweary, or controversial. I’d rather see real people out there than just curated loveliness.

It’s not just on social media that I have this strange fear of being seen for being me, either. I censor or delete e-mails and messages all the time. I chicken out of wearing certain outfits that I’d LOVE to wear. I’ve de-Catherine-ified applications and submission letters more times than I’d care to admit, for fear that I’m giving away too much of myself.

What would that even look like?

I’m changing, as of now. I don’t know where I’ve managed to get a strange notion that I have to in some way apologise for being myself. It’s not a conscious thing, most of the time. It’s just under the surface, but God knows what it’s stopping me from doing. Trying to work on my writing and tackling the self-publishing and self-promotion route is going to blow all of it wide open anyway (ohhhh so many demons I sense need to be exorcised), so I may as well start trying to get over myself now and just carve out my own – authentic and unapologetic – little corner of the universe. If I ever do work out what it is I want to do for a freelance career then I’m not going to make a success of it by hiding under a table and posting inoffensive photos of my shoes and a cup of coffee on Instagram, am I?

I don’t think it’s just me who feels like this. I think a fear of standing out or being exposed as different in some way is programmed deep in us all. A primal, don’t-get-kicked-out-of-the-pack-or-you’re-screwed-mate sort of thing. So.

But one step at a time, for me. Blog and Instagram honest-face first. Then maybe Twitter. Then perhaps, I’ll finally pluck up the courage to purchase the orange fake-fur jacket…

God help me, I love a bit of Macklemore

 

Pregnant Mothers Can Still Be Glamorous, Damnit!

I was shamed by a cashier at Asda this week, readers. Aloud. Along with the latest edition of Glamour magazine I was purchasing some sundries, which may or may not have included Size 1 nappies, Size 6 pull-up pants, double-strength heartburn tablets, maternity pads, massive pants and assorted medicinal items (I’m taking no chances with the hospital bag, after having to leave the last-minute packing to Alex last time and subsequently rocking up for Phoebe’s birth with just a pair of Spanx, a pack of panty-liners, a pair of non-maternity leggings and a poncho).

Anyway, the checkout lady looked at the magazine, looked at my stomach and my hospital bag goodies, and snorted.

“Glamour?!” she cried, in mocking disbelief. “What do you want with Glamour magazine?!”

I laughed it off as I was too busy trying to hide some of the more embarrassing items at the bottom of the see-through shopping bags, but as I drove home it prompted a thought spiral.

  1. Bitch.
  2. She has a point though.
  3. Am I too old for Glamour magazine now? At 32 and a pregnant mother, am I no longer their desired audience? Depressing.
  4. But isn’t that sort of my decision to make?
  5. I mean, the articles all bang on about millennials want this and millennials desire that, and by the skin of my teeth, I’m a millennial, right?
  6. And it’s MY choice to read the magazine, thereby appointing myself as their actual audience.
  7. Why the hell do I care what that old lady thought about me? I deliberately chose her checkout because she looked in the least likely position to judge me on my purchases.
  8. OH MY GOD THE MATERNITY PADS ARE SITTING ON THE BONNET.

They’d fallen out of the bag when I was looking for my keys.

ANYWAY. After I’d got home and made myself a soothing cup of decaf tea and chowed down on a KitKat, I realised that actually, I felt empowered.

I may not be going to any festivals this year, I may have no immediate need for a bikini-body diet (or indeed, a bikini-body), and I anticipate being severely limited by this season’s fashions depending on whether or not I can breastfeed in them, BUT I can still eke out my own special brand of style and glamour. I can still feel like me, and I can still aspire to look and feel great. It’s just that I happen to have the pleasing fall-back position of not really giving a shit if I don’t.

So pretty mama, on Mother’s Day or any day, don’t let anyone kill your buzz.

beautiful-young-pregnant-woman-in-beach-beautiful-pregnant-161569.jpeg

Basically me right now, but with more KitKats and less standing up.