Sleep alludes me, though I am so very tired. The sun cracks through the opened window, early in the mornings, and the dawn chorus awakens me. Such a contrast to the labouring snores blasting my ears as he sleeps beside me, deep in his slumber, oblivious to raucous he makes or the sound of the dogs barking from across the garden.
My mind wanders to our new house, wondering how soon before we get the keys. The start to our new life. How shall I dress this one to make it a home? Which colours and fabrics and oddments shall I use. A blank canvas screaming for life and colour.
As I lay awake, I try to escape the noise and get lost deep in the kaleidoscope of my imagination until finally, sleep will surrender itself to me and I too will be oblivious….
Who decides whether you are fat or thin, chunky or skinny. Are you influenced by what others perceive you to be, or do you decide?
I’m getting fat. Not fat, fat exactly, but fatter than I was. Having said that, what do people consider fat?
I was always skinny. The skinny bitch. I didn’t think I was skinny, but I didn’t think I was fat. I was just me and my size was just my size. I was lean, yes but I didn’t think anything about it because, like I said, I was just me.
So now, I am still me, just a bigger version of me than I was, when I was younger, so, am I fat?
No, not really, though I do have a spare tyre, my upper arms are definitely bigger and softer, my thighs are bigger too and they wobble, they didn’t used to wobble. My ass, well let’s say, now I have an ass, so before I had a small ass, never the less, it was still an ass. My face is rounder and I have more than one chin. When I was the skinny bitch, I could, if I tried hard enough and put my face down towards my neck, make myself have more than one chin,
It is called skin, lean with pockets of fat cells in it and maybe some muscle. I used to have muscle, when I was the skinny bitch. I did lots of hand stands and cart wheels and other gymnastic tricks. I loved gymnastics at school. My friend and I were both good at it. We were the skinny bitches.
We remained the skinny bitches even after we had children without even trying.
I went even thinner after my first baby, all that breastfeeding. It gave her colic. I thought it was what I was eating, so in the end I ate very little. She still had colic. I put her on the bottle as I had to eat and something had to give. She took the bottle and the colic went, but the constipation came. She still screamed in pain.
It was a lose-lose situation for her, and a win lose for me. Win because I could now eat again, the cabbage, potatoes, salad cream etc. that everyone said was probably giving her colic. I lost because she was still screaming and I felt it was my fault for putting her on the bottle and the poor child was still in pain….
I started to get fat when I was in my early 40’s. Actually I think I started to change, ever so slightly, from my early 30’s, I think I gained about 7 pound from when I was in my teens. I didn’t try to gain these pounds, they just arrived, slowly and without much encouragement or notice from me. I was still a skinny bitch you see.
By my early 40’s I had gained another 7 pound. Still I think I looked pretty good in the mirror, even though, that is a whole stone in a 10-year period. I was beginning to ‘fill out’. I was also noticing that my skin was changing, slightly. I was getting fine lines and the elasticity was beginning to loosen I suppose. That’s ok, it does that with age.
By my early 50’s I had gained another 14 pound and from 50 to 55 another 7 pound. So from my teens I had gained two and a half stone and like they say, it crept up on me.
I am not blind. I could see my body changing shape. My face, rounder, my boobs fuller, my belly definitely fatter, my arms, my legs, my whole body. Still, I was me. I am not fat. I am fatter than my skinny bitch days, yes, but I am not fat. I don’t know when I will consider myself fat but I know this. Some people, thinner than me, will look at me and say that I am fat.
Some people, bigger than me, will look at me and say that I am skinny.
I will say, I have more fat on me than when I was skinny, but, I am still me and I am happy with who I am. Like my skin that is ageing, my hair that is greying, my body is changing as it naturally does with age.
I am glad to be ageing, it means that I am alive and that I can chose, every day, what I do with my day. I can choose to look in the mirror and say ‘hey, you are fifty something and still fabulous’ or I could criticise how I look and feel bad about myself. I chose the former not the latter.
The moral of this story is, just because you are the size that you are, you have to decide whether or not, you are happy with you. So long as you are healthy and have a healthy view of yourself in your own mind and can embrace your own body, wobbly bits and all, or bones and all, don’t let it consume you.
Other people will always have their opinions, it’s either colic or constipation, skinny bitch or fatty. You decide, yourself, what label you want to put on you……
Big boys don’t cry…… This to me is a damaging statement, because boys have feeling too and like us girls should be able to be free to express how they feel…. right?
I collected my grandson from school last week. He thought he was staying in after-school club because his mother was working, but I rang and told her that I would collect him early and bring him over to his aunts house, so he could see and play with his cousins. He hadn’t seen them in a few weeks as both my daughters have been busy with work and other commitments.
When he was in the car I asked him if he was surprised that he was being collected early and he said he was, because he thought he would have to stay in all day. He is only 6 years old, I might add. He also had to be dropped to school early for breakfast club, so that his mother could get to work on time, so it can be a long day for him.
As I looked at him through the rear view mirror, I thought he looked pale, tired and also he looked like he had been crying. I asked him if he had been crying to which he replied no. I said ‘oh you look tired, maybe that is it’. He confirmed yes he was a bit tired as he had been in school for breakfast club.
I asked him how he felt when the teacher told him that ‘nanny’ was collecting him early. He then said that he was happy and excited and that he remembers now that he did cry then, ‘happy tears’ and that he could feel the tears coming again now because we were going to see his cousins and he was happy about that.
This made me feel both happy and sad. I know lots and lots of working mothers have to avail of child care so they can work, before school and after school. I had to do it myself when my girls were little. It’s not easy to do, to juggle, but it is the life for many working mothers. I couldn’t help but feel sad a little because it is a long day for him. I also felt happy that he could express himself. He is very good at articulating what he thinks and feels.
I told him it was OK to cry, whether they are happy or sad tears, as that is the Emotion, he was feeling at that time. ‘What’s emotion’ he asked me, looking back at me in the mirror. I explained that when we feel happy or sad, angry, excited or frightened for example, our body reacts somehow to that emotion.
‘So when you were told you were leaving early you felt happy and excited and your body reacted by your eyes welling up and having happy tears. Likewise, sometimes when you feel angry, you might shout and your body might also want to slam a door, punch the pillow or throw the toy’ I said, eyeing him carefully in the mirror as we drove.
‘You might also cry because you feel angry because you are frustrated, same as when you feel sad and upset you may cry. That is your body’s way of dealing with the feeling and that is what ’emotion’ is.
I explained how the body also reacts when hungry, in that it lets us know by our tummy growing and rumbling, that it is your body telling you it needs food.
‘oh, he said, so sometimes I get ‘hangry’ when I want food and so does mammy’ he said, matter of fact. ‘ Yes I said, that’s right, when you are hungry you very well may get a little agitated and angry, because it’s your bodies way of saying ‘feed me’.
I explained that emotions are good to have as it helps people see or read how another person is feeling by the way the person looks or by the way a person is acting and that lets us help, if any help is needed.
I asked him to think of his mother and how that makes him feel. He closed his eyes, his face softened and he smiled saying ‘I love my mammy’ as he opened his eyes looking at me in the mirror.
See, that is emotion I said, and your face, your voice and your body all reacted to that feeling, so don’t be afraid to cry, whether happy or sad or angry tears because that is just your body reacting to your feeling and that shows other people how you are.
It made me think about boys and crying and how they are sometimes told ‘big boys don’t cry’ or man up as they get older, especially into their teen years. This in particular concerns me. Why is it viewed that it is OK for girls to cry, but not boys.
I am quite the feminist and all for strong independent women and for equality and parity , but I also believe it is OK for girls/women to cry, AND also for boys/men.
They say that women can ‘cope’ a lot better with life’s stresses because they talk to their female friends and ‘offload’ about how they are feeling. A problem shared and all that.
Shouldn’t we be teaching our boys that not only is it OK to cry, it is essential, so as not to suppress that natural emotion that they are feeling, for to do so, they are denying a fundamental biological process. If they denied themselves food, when they are hungry, they would starve.
With so many mental health problems, especially amongst young men, isn’t it crucial that, from a very young age, we not only say it is OK to cry, WHETHER happy or sad tears, but it is essential and normal, as it is the body’s way of dealing with the feeling?
I would hate to think that my grandsons, when they are going through the rigours of the teenage years, when they are trying to navigate puberty, emotions, fitting in and identity, that they would feel that they cannot openly cry, without fear of being called a ‘sissy’ a ‘girl’ a ‘whimp’ for example, by their peers. It makes me want to cry!
Why is is OK for girls and not boys? What is wrong with showing emotion. In my mind, it is a sign of strength, not weakness to be able to express oneself, in order to be true to oneself and to feel whole. To suppress any emotion is damaging and the last thing we want to do to ourselves, to our children, is to damage them, right?
So, I say to all the boys out there, when your body wants to cry, whether they are happy or sad tears, go ahead and cry the same as you would laugh, if you saw something funny, the same as you would feed your body, when it is hungry. Not only does it give you a release to cry, it allows someone close to you to try to help and share the burden/problem with you in the sad tears as well as the joy in the happy tears.
There is pure strength in being in touch with your feelings and in my mind any boy/man than can openly cry and express or try to express how he is feeling, is a man I would want in my life, because it lets me know he is honest, open and compassionate.
Almost a year now and our vocabulary, our way of life and our outlook changed. From lock down, social distancing and restrictions to working together, front line workers and better days ahead, we are all in this together, so lets help each other get out of it…..
I think this has been a particularly difficult lock down, this third one. I know for me it has been, and most people I speak to tell me the same. Is it because it has been during the winter, at the beginning of the new year, when we all hoped upon hope, that by then, we would be through the worst of it? Instead we were only at the beginning of the worst of it and so it has laboured on and we have had to sit it out. The dark wet days haven’t helped. The feeling of restraint have at times been suffocating, but I tell myself, it is all we have to do, sit it out, in the comfort of our own homes. For me, it is a comfortable home and I consider myself very lucky in that fact. Others, however, do not have such a comfortable or even safe home to sit it out in. So for them it is even worse. Then there are the front line workers, particularly the doctors, nurses and all hospital and care staff. I think of them, when I feel that I am being hard done by. They have to venture out, since the beginning of this pandemic, almost a year ago, and do their ‘job’. What about how they must feel. Leaving home, their children and families, to work with an unknown entity, a dangerous and often deadly virus. Their feeling of angst and worry, fear and frustration must be magnified on a daily basis, their mental health as well as their physical health must be taking a battering, we know, it is taking a battering, and so, we must sit it out and do our bit, to help them. To aid them, by not breaking ‘the rules’.
Yes, it feels like our wings have been clipped and the sense of isolation is huge. Feelings and emotions with regards to gatherings are palpable. Close relatives dying and we cannot attend funerals, pay our respects and be united in grief with loved ones. Weddings and other celebrations, curtailed, very intimate numbers or non existent. The world we live in at the moment. But that it all it needs to be, a moment in time, a snapshot of a period in our lives, that we will over come, with cooperation and with science, in the form of hygiene, distancing and vaccinations.
Many people have adapted well and taken up new hobbies, skills and even businesses. I myself, set up a card making business during the first lock down. It gave me something to do. (insta@taylormadecardcreations, Facebook: Caroline’s Card creations). To marry my photos and my words together to make something positive and to send a positive message to a loved one during a very negative time. This kept me and my mind occupied and gave me a sense of purpose in my day.
As a people we are resilient and we have to remember that. We have to hold on to the knowledge that things will get better and this, is only temporary, that if we all work together, we will of course, reap the benefits, together.
I attach a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, after a close relative passed away, but I feel that not just in death do we feel the darkness and the mist, we feel and have felt it it often during these times of lock down. As we learn that ‘life goes on’ after the death of a friend or loved one, we too must know that life will go on, as it did, before the pandemic, it will just be a matter of time.
volunteering in a charity shop feeds my addiction, but on the cheap. I’m a shopaholic….. apparently!
Photo – authors own…
Apparently I have an addiction. It is not really harming anyone. I don’t get violent or abusive. I don’t fall about the place, forget my name or sell my soul to the devil. I haven’t wanted to feed my addiction that badly……..yet!
I am a shopaholic, there, I have said it out loud. Well, I have merely repeated what my husband has said I am. Thankfully, he supports me in this addiction of mine, and often times, he joins me.
If anything, I am helping instead of harming. It all started with the little things, but predominantly, the pretty things.
I am a volunteer in my local Oxfam in Wexford town and proud of that. I have been there over 5 years now, sorting out the books and what a great book selection we have there – just saying, if you fancy popping in and picking up your next read!
At first, it started with the books, some for me, some for my children and others for my grandchildren. Fiction, non fiction, autobiographies, you name it i’ve bought it. Lots of them look great on my book cases. Lots of them I have not read yet, but will, one day, I promise.
At the end of my shift I then browse in the shop, or when I am taking photo’s for our instagram page (check it out @oxfamwexford). It is then that my addiction really kicks in and I can buy anything from a hair brooch, to a high end hand bag. Pottery to a pretty painting or a special vase to a sleek sari. You name it, if its pretty, I will most likely buy it. I am one of our best customers and no, I don’t get nor want a discount. It is for charity, after all!
It is not just in Oxfam that my addiction takes place, it is any shop at all. If I see something pretty I will get a ‘figary’ and buy it, whether I need it or not. I tell myself, it will look nice there, or I can use it for this or I can give it to so and so for a gift or I can paint this and use it as that.
I do it all, I buy it, use it, put it in a cupboard, give it away, upcycle it, sell it, replace it, donate it and so the cycle continues.
Everything in life is not black and white and thank god, but those colours are cetainly not ‘pretty’. They have their uses, of course they do, like a blackboard and a whiteboard are very useful, but they don’t have the word (board/bored) in there for no reason! I am not opposed to them at all, but sometimes a splash of colour, a shimmery sparkle, a sleek and soft texture, a hand painted or hand crafted piece of art, pottery or otherwise, is just something lovely to look at, admire or use. It can lift your spirits the same as a lovely colourful bouquet of flowers, freshly cut or shop bought, it doesn’t matter.
The point is, if something lifts your spirits, and no one comes to any harm in the process and in fact you are also helping a cause, can that really be a bad thing? I don’t think so.
The only time it becomes a bad thing is when I run out of places to store my stash because my other problem is hoarding stuff, not being able to let go easily, and I know I am not alone in this one. Most of my friends and family are the same. So in that case, isn’t hoarding like an addiction too?
Why do we get so emotionally attached to things? Its a strange cycle because we think, oh I can’t give that away, or, so and so gave it to me, or I wore it on our first date or it was a gift (but I hate it) so I must keep it. Like it is some sort of security blanket. Yet when we let go and give it away, clear it out, donate it, declutter, we feel better, not worse. I have some clothes in my wardrobe that are over 30 years old. I have college books and papers that are over 20 years old too, why do I keep them!
I am starting to get a little better at being ruthless and getting rid of, giving away or donating things and I always feel great when I do. But watch this space, because it won’t be empty for long, before I fill it up again.
Not many of us expect to be talking about our ‘final wishes’ at a young age. That is usually for the very rich or the very old, who make provisions for what is to happen to them at ‘the end’. This pandemic may give us all a different view on that now.
I was thinking about the Oscars, I don’t know why, because I never watch them fully, but I do sometimes watch the edited highlights. I watch as the camera pans to the celebrity that has been nominated, all of them tentatively smiling, looking coy or bashful, but hopeful that they will win the Oscar. One of them will read the speech which they had prepared, in the hope that they might win. So many potential speeches waiting to be read, full of thanks and praise for many, including their loved ones
We are currently going through a pandemic; this time it has the full attention of the world. When it was the Bird Flu, or SARS or even Ebola, the whole world didn’t quite take note as they are now. I myself, carried on as normal at that time, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I am sure there are many people who thought the way I did then.
This time it is a different story. This time the virus is spreading like wildfire and like other viruses, it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, disability, marital status or religion. This one is abiding by the Equality Act and each of us must take note.
We have all become accustomed, at this stage, to know what ‘Social distancing’ ‘wash your hands’ lockdown’ and PPE mean. It has become part of our everyday dialect and vocabulary. My 3-year-old beautiful grand-daughter calls it the ‘Virusy’ and wonders when it will go away so that she can give me a hug again. How I long for it to be over now, so I can give her and my 3 other grandchildren a big squeezey hug. I cannot answer her with certainty, no-one can. Instead we have to ‘make do’ with the occasional ‘window visit’.
What I do know is that the longer people flout the rules and don’t engage in social distancing, washing hands, remaining in lockdown or having the required PPE, the longer this virus will dance with us and pick us off one by one and none of us will know for sure, if we will survive it.
From healthcare workers to people on the street, Actors, models and even the UK Prime minster, young, old and in between people are contracting this virus and people are dying. It’s like a lottery, people are chosen at random but there are no winners, only losers. Sure lots of people will get over it and survive, but with what long lasting damage to their lungs? Others, not so lucky to survive.
This brings me to the Oscars. What if you get it? You don’t know if you will survive it. You have to be prepared. You have to have your ‘speech’ ready. You have to tell your loved ones, not only that you love them, that you will miss them, that you don’t want to leave them, you have to tell them what they have to do with you, if you do indeed, leave them.
Some families only think about having to bury their elderly relatives, but this virus can take any of us and we need to let our families know, what and how we would like to happen to us at the end. Whether that is to be cremated or buried. Whether it is to be repatriated home if you live/work in another country or indeed which graveyard to be buried in. Is this morbid, no I don’t think so. It is necessary. Not everyone has made a Will. Talk to your loved ones, let them know what you would like to happen to you, ‘just in case’ you are the one.
Write your closing speech. Your speech of acceptance, in the event that it is you. Write it in a letter. Tell your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren, your friends. Tell whomever is dear to you, what they mean to you, in your closing speech. Be prepared. You may never get this virus and the letter will then never have to be read out, just like the nominees at the Oscars, they go home with their unread speeches if they didn’t win. You get to keep your letter if you are lucky enough to not contract this virus.
In the meantime, follow the rules to slow the spread and flatten the curve. Keep our Healthcare workers as safe as possible, by staying home. Allow them to not to have to be crushed by an overwhelming workload, in these extraordinary circumstances, and often, without the proper PPE. Give them some respect. If you do not stay home and follow the rules you are risking their lives as well as your own. They already have enough of a burden to bear, being in the midst of this pandemic and watching people suffer and die on a daily basis. Please do not add to their burden unnecessarily.
Take care, stay safe, stay home and give your ‘speech’ some thought as well as your wishes.
in these uncertain times we have enough to worry about. The most important thing to worry about it staying safe and well and keeping others safe and well. Worrying about rent, mortgages, businesses etc should not be part of our burden now. I think the governments, around the world should just press pause, from the beginning of march and reboot, when this is all over, so no more debt accumulates, adding to people’s already enormous burden of keeping well.
It didn’t seem so serious, not really
Not at first
Everyone carried on as normal engaging with life
Wrapped up in it, in work or family, despair, debt
The rat race
December, a month of mixed emotions
Full of demands, from excitement to dread
A new unexpected trend was banded about this year
It was ‘Corona Virus’
We heard it mentioned, but it was ‘over there’
We carried on as normal, in the rat race
Wrapped up in work, in family, in despair and debt
Beware the ides of March!
Now we began to listen to take notice
It was here, it was everywhere
Stockpile, panic buy, carry on
With daily life, with family, work, despair and debt
Spreading, dying, ignorance and fear
Essential, frontline, social distancing, cocoon
Wash, wash wash your hands
Don’t touch your face
Stay safe at home
Get out of the rat race
Flatten the curve, it will save lives
Don’t be a fool, ignorance is not bliss
It is fatal
The world is broke, full of despair, fear and debt
Take time to reflect.
With fresh eyes, find a way
It’s about people and love and life
The rat race, dead in the water
It’s a boulder, laying heavy on your shoulder
The graves are the same depth
When it’s over, when it’s been contained
Let a new contagion begin
A kind one, a helpful one, a fair one
Not one full of ignorance, hate, debt or regret
Press play and begin anew
Wipe the slate clean
Let families flourish and businesses carryon
Without the noose
We are all in the same boat
Let’s not accumulate the entire ocean in it and sink
A new world, a new world game
The human race
Let’s heal the world, play your part
Let our leaders play theirs
Let them lead, honourably, wisely, honestly and fairly
So that we can embrace the pause
So we may cocoon and stay safe at home
So we may slow the spread
So that we may flatten the curve
So that we may not put our essential frontline staff at risk
So that our frontline staff may be rewarded for their bravery
from early on we strive to build friendships, work, build networks and build a home, but during all this ‘building’, do we ever feel overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed and then feel the need to break free?
We are conditioned by nature to seek out relationships. We are engineered by our environment as to the types of relationships we build, based on what and whom we are exposed to. Some of us are born to our families and remain with them all of our formative years and maintain good relationships when we flee the nest. Others do not get to stay with their family of origin but may still have some form of contact, or none whatsoever, depending on the circumstances and the circumstances can be many and varied. We are shaped by the people around us, parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends. We learn from each other. We build and we adapt, depending on whom we are with and what we are doing. We often ‘go along with things’ so as not to stick out, be the odd one out, rock the boat. To keep the peace is often the easier option. We may surpress what we really feel and deny ourselves the opportunity to be honest and open. To do so could offend, incite an argument, evoke scrutiny that we may not wish to recall or simply we may think it is kinder to not be honest in certain situations. After all, we all have different tastes, ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, and that is fine.
Sometimes though, it can all become too much. We are but one person. In order to survive we NEED others, we NEED relationships. We need to love and be loved, to feel value and give another person a sense of value. We need relationships on some level, for us to feel full and complete. This can lead us to feeling good, yet overwhelmed. As the saying goes, ‘we cannot please all of the people all of the time’. One person, whether a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a child, we must ‘interact’. It is in the interacting with all of the people in our circle and indeed outside of our circle that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed. We can deny ourselves so much and so often, that we don’t even realise that we are denying ourselves. It can become a way of life, a habit, and habits are easy to form yet difficult to break.
Like an animal, taken from the wild and placed in a zoo, it can adapt to his new surroundings. He will be fed, exposed to company, given somewhere to live, given the basic things needed to survive, but, will he be happy, all of the time or for that matter, any of the time. Yet he stays, no option but to stay, he is so tightly monitored and guarded that his existence is secured. He learns to adapt to his new way of life, but may still yearn for his former life, for his independence. His offspring born in this new habitat will no nothing of the wild as they would have been born to this habitat and will not know any different….. but what is their instinct. They may not know how to hunt, how to take care of themselves, how to survive in the wild, but perhaps they have a desire to find out. Perhaps they have a desire to break free, perhaps their instinct is engrained in their DNA.
We are the same. We were born into our surroundings, guided, nurtured, ensuring or needs were met. We conform to the rules of our environment and of our society. We built friendships, relationships, homes and families of our own. Some of it is easy, some of it is difficult, but still we strive. However, there comes a time, often more than once, that we may want to’ break free’. Not necessarily forever, maybe just for a day or a week or even a few hours. We need to break free for our sanity, for us to be us, the person we were born to be, not the person someone expects us to be. For a short time we need to take care of us, we need to take the time to be free, to recharge, re-energise, reflect and reconnect, if we so choose. We have to NOT deny ourselves of what we want or need. We need to practice self care, in order that we can fulfill and continue to be part of all the other relationships that we encounter and are party to. We need to go and find something, a place, a thing, a journey, whatever it takes, but we need to find our joy, our peace, our inner calm and ourselves. If that means you need to break free, then break free, just do it – you need to love and have a relationship with you!