Oxygen for India…

Covid 19 has been hell. We’ve made sacrifices. We got ill, lost people, missed people, missed life. We have suffered, but we have almost made it through. Even in our worst times we have privilege. So much privilege.

Throughout this nightmare we have had access to excellent medical care & now vaccines. Many of us have had safe houses to lockdown in. Food, clean water, the ability to stay in touch with our loved ones. It doesn’t negate the bad, but it does make us incredibly lucky.

Now that we are close to escaping this pandemic we cannot abandon those still being ravaged. We have to help. India is in dire straits. We, in the west are good at taking what we want from other cultures without asking & without giving anything in return. It is past time for us all to do what we can to fight Covid in India. Please give whatever you can.

Oxfam India Covid Appeal

British Red Cross

Action Aid

Oxygen for India

Level up…

Level 3 is here! I know exactly what I want to do with my freedom; see all the lovely people I’ve been missing. I can’t deny that it felt very strange to be out, but 9 months was way too long to not see my very favourite man.

Al fresco drinks were the perfect opportunity to refresh my Operation Pretty skills. I also got to give some pieces who’ve been languishing in lockdown a wee turn. The jumpsuit is my new favourite thing. It is incredibly comfortable & does good things to my curves.

Ly is standing with blurred background wearing leopard print jumpsuit
Jumpsuit – Very
Shrug – Monsoon
Harness Bra – Playful Promises

The amazing velvet blazer was a gift from my equally amazing Mum. It’s been waiting in my wardrobe for over a year. You can expect to see me wearing it with everything from now on.

ly is standing against blurred background wearing leopard print jumpsuit & velvet blazer
Blazer – Monsoon
Glasses – Where light

We followed all the rules & still managed to have a bloody lovely time. Even if ridiculous me did get a tiny bit emotional. I’m blaming the rosè.

Close up of ly wearing large tortoiseshell glasses, man in outdoors restaurant hiding behind napkin, tapas dishes

I’m hoping against hope that we are finally nearing the end of this covid nightmare. As happy as I am, I don’t want to forget how privileged we are to be in this position. The pandemic is not over. We need to be doing much more for those still in the depths of it.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…

Oh my god, it’s happening. Lockdown is easing & I went somewhere nice. I put in some mascara. I picked a pretty outfit. Stage 1 of project live again is go!

We’re still quite restricted in Scotland (better safe than sorry), but things are moving. We can now travel out with our local area for non essential travel and see up to 6 adults outdoors. That may not seem like the most exciting development, but it is making me woohoo. We took advantage of the sunshine yesterday and embarked on a mini road trip. My sister, Mum, the boy & I hit the beach. We really do like I be beside the seaside.

The little man is a total beach baby. He literally rolls around in the sand & loves it. We made pirate islands, volcanos & buried everyone’s feet. Needless to say we brought half the beach home with us.

Toddler burying feet and lying in sand

I also found a minute to watch the soothing waves and snap some outfit pics. Here’s to a long hot summer with loved ones!

ly is standing by wall with beach in background. She is leaning on acealking stick wearing cat print swing skirt, sheer t shirt &  sunglasses
Skirt – Lindy Bop
T-Shirt – Pretty Little Thing
Kimono – Boohoo
Sliders – Pillow Slides
Sunglasses – Wherelight
Calm blue sea & sandy beach
Red glitter text necklace  spelling ‘fuck Boris’
Necklace – Topple and Burn

Kicking out the Kardashians…

I’m calling it. It is time to be done with the Kardashians. I’ve never liked them, but come on, they must be at peak toxicity now. It’s time to deflate that bubble.

Everytime one of their clan is thrust into my sphere they have done something gross. Asking fans to donate to a medical gofund me they could cover for less than they spend on a handbag. Private island birthday parties during a pandemic. Having a month long pity party because folk saw your actual body AND trying to pretend your woe was about female empowerment. It’s all sickening. According to Kim & co we eat too much, our waists are too big, our skin is too flawed, our stomachs too wobbly & our hair too fine. Don’t worry though, they have products to sell you that will fix the lot. The only thing greater than their wealth is their boak level.

Various adverts for weight loss products featuring Kardashians

Khloe’s latest has of course pushed all my buttons, but first, let’s talk about the Kardashian record. They have wielded their power almost exclusively to feed their own consumption. Despite having more money than anyone could ever need the continue to sink low for the dollar. Wether it’s selling dodgy diet shakes and waist trainers to impressionable fans. Stealing designs from all & sundry (including independent black owned businesses), trashing women they feel threatened by or the constant cultural appropriation, they collectively refuse to take responsibility for harm caused. Anything goes for these sisters as long as the price is right.

Which brings me back to Khloe’s latest tantrum. Don’t get me wrong, the crap she gets from the media about her appearance is horrendous. It’s hard to feel overly sorry for her when she has devoted so much time to upholding the insane beauty standards she’s crying about. Khloe has form. She fronted an entire tv show devoted to body shaming. Convincing people who have been bullied and dumped to shrink their bodies is not empowerment. Neither is insisting your body is the product of diet & exercise when it is completely unattainable without surgical intervention. Strangely enough painting yourself as a martyr because people saw your actual body is also not lifting anyone up. Following those hysterics with highly edited images you claim are untouched is straight up gaslighting.

They’re a group of women with a global platform; they could boosted amazing things. Instead they’ve chosen bolster the patriarchy & line their pockets. They’re billionaires making money promoting disordered eating to teenagers. That’s repugnant. Trotting out some vaguely feminist language every time your own monster bites is not solidarity.

Except when they have something to sell you.

The show was always shit. The opinions vapid. No one needs another example of clawing greed. We know better. We deserve better. Let’s chuck the whole gaggle in the bin.

Watching through my fingers…

I’ve been fairly quiet on the blog front. Clearly we’re all under some pressure, but I’ve also been dealing with some bonus pain. I’ve had episodes of awful symptoms which signal that my pancreas may be acting up again. It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with pancreatitis and I am scared of a comeback.

The pain triggered some really desperate memories. It also gave me lots of time to ruminate on how PTSD never stops giving me unpleasant surprises. The nature, frequency & severity of my reaction to trauma stimuli is forever changing. In my (also unending) quest to de stigmatised mental illness I thought some recent triggers might be worth sharing.

Waking up in the middle of the night to pee is not a thing that I do except during pregnancy. I’m a hold ‘til morning girl. The frustrating sensation of leaving a comfy bed & stumbling to the toilet in the dark is one I associate with pregnancy. Sitting on the toilet half awake looking at my painted toes I had the trauma version of de javu. My body remembers this. The exact emotion. The precise thoughts. I’m ok, but I know I won’t be getting anymore sleep. I’ll be distracting my head from going back there. Lying still in the dark would be asking to feel things I don’t want to feel.

Sometimes to occupy my mind through those sleepless hours I watch crap tv. Ideally something I don’t have to concentrate on. Mildly entertaining 90’s sitcoms work a treat. That is until the wife in King of Queens is unexpectedly pregnant & then just as they’re getting happy about it, not pregnant anymore. Numb viewing to uncontrollable sobbing in 20mins or less.

A fun park adventure with the rascal is momentarily derailed when someone calls me his Mummy. I smile, correct them & return to my role of bad octopus pirate. I feel the impact, but I look steady. Until much later when the memory of all the babies who’ll never call me Mummy knocks me flat.

I wake up bloody because my period has started in the night. I’m not inconvenienced I’m terrified. Those cramps ripping through my pelvic region signal disaster. It takes a bit of time to centre myself in the now. Repeat, ‘I’m ok’ over and over as I drag myself through a shower. Tampon, comfy clothes, paracetamol. I’m almost calm by the time I return to tackle the bedding. I’m genuinely shocked when the sight of blood on sheets sets me trembling. I was devoting all my attention to not getting sucked into one trauma hole that I forgot about another. I have to sit on the floor but I’m still watching an old iteration of myself. Younger, sicker me is ripping bloody sheets from an entirely different bed. More than the sheets are stained. My body is raw & dripping. I feel as exhausted now, in my healed, safe body as I did then in that recklessly butchered one.

My stupid period tracker with its stupid unwanted alerts. High chance of pregnancy. Such a simple sentence triggers such complex crazy. The stress and hope of trying. The heartbreak of failing. The unwanted reminder of how few of these high chance days may be left. Fleeting recollections of disappointing perfunctory sex and an even more disappointing man. Wearily buying tests. Angrily buying tampons. Wanting the monthly reminder to be over and fearing that end. Wrap it all up in a hollow ache in my middle that never leaves you, but echoes as I read those words and you have my condition.

My ridiculous cat managed to injure his paw and now I must try to keep dressings on until it is healed. If you know anything about cats, you’ll know what a challenge this is. I have experimented with various ideas none of which preserved his dressings for long. I started thinking he needs a sock & then remembered I had some baby socks. They must have belonged to one of my nieces or nephews. Baby bits and pieces will end up in your hand bag/pocket after a day of auntying. I seized upon the long lost sock as the solution. I didn’t feel sad or even link the tiny item to anything painful until I started trying to put it on my cat. Then from nowhere I was flooded with too many feelings. I love my boy, he’s wonderful. Still, I couldn’t avoid the fact that he’s the sole recipient of my mothering.

A character in the book I’m reading is trying, with difficulty, to explain why she feels guilty for various past events. I feel as though I have taken a deep breath & inhaled fictional strife. My own twisted guilt is equally hard to comprehend. For me, self reproach is as essential as oxygen. The chord of perplexing guilt could catapult me into a multitude of memories. This time I land flailing in the aftermath of standing up for myself. I can feel the certainty that so recently fizzed go flat. That overwhelming sense of this must somehow be my fault returns. I feel angry about all shit I put up with, but I still can’t fully convince myself I’m not blame. Now I’m full of guilt for events long passed. Today is ruined as I attempt to untangle things that never made sense to begin with.

Triggers lurk. Sometimes entirely unexpected things stir up pain. It can be fleeting or set off a chain reaction. I have adapted to a life with booby traps. I often appear untouched, but only because I work so incredibly hard at hiding the mess.

The tiniest lifeboat…

My mood has been struggling to stay a float of late. I’m trying hard not to wallow, so I’m going back to basics & celebrating my lifeboat moments.

The sun came out. A few bright, fresh days have made me a little perkier. Shaking off a few layers & enjoy the outdoors. I even shaved my legs for the first time in forever. Mr sun better not disappear.

Pale white legs with green words tattooed on calf

Receiving surprise Easter treats. My clever little nephew found my favourite choccies (I think his Mummy helped). I am excited to get stuck into my delicious minty egg & luxurious floral fondants. All vegan & completely yummers.

Hotel Chocolate  Mint Easter Egg & Violet Creams

Having a swing park adventure. The stay at home order has prevented me seeing my little ones as much as I like. That of course makes every adventure extra special. This week I got to play pirates in the swing park with the boy. He made some new friends to enlist into his band of pirates. He is always the Captain, Auntie ly gets to be the bad octopus pirate & much hilarity ensues.

ly is laughing in a swing park with her nephew behind her
Toddler in cloud leggings going down a slide on his tummy

A mini makeover will go along way when total transformation isn’t possible. I’ve been hating my ugly brown sofas for ages, but have failed to find a replacement I love. Not being able to physically shop hasn’t helped. Who wants to buy a sofa without ever plonking their bum on it? After much deliberation I seized upon a colourful temporary solution. I’m super pleased with the results.

Before
After

Stay at home order lifted. I am beyond excited that we’re actually on the road out of lockdown. The weather is coming up, infection rates coming down; if this keeps up we could be in for a bloody good summer.

Charity of the month…

It’s been another weird lockdown month & i’m only just catching up with myself. I’m getting round to my charity of the month at the last minute (again).

For March I have chosen to support the PDSA. As animal lover I’ve always thought the PDSA do excellent work, but recent months have shown me just how essential they can be. Bronan, my cat, was diagnosed with Diabetes about 8wks ago & man alive are those vet bills adding up.

PDSA in green & pink letters. Help a vet help a pet in green letters

I’m lucky to have pet insurance, even with what I thought was a comprehensive policy, there is so much that isn’t covered. It’s really highlighted just how much an ill pet can cost. With insulin, needles, sharps disposal, regular blood tests & examinations I can easily see how it could quickly become unaffordable. I am so glad the PDSA are able to step in for those in financial need. I can’t imagine being forced to make treatment decisions for a much loved pet based purely on finances. Given covid & all its implications so many more people are likely to be in this position. Hence, the PDSA are feeling the strain. Please give whatever you can spare.

Black & white cat sleeping on purple sofa

Since we’re talking about my beautiful boy I’m want to share the symptoms that first raised the alarm. The problems he had were fairly minor & I would never in a million years of thought they indicated such a serious issue. The first thing I noticed was him limping on his back right leg. Next he began to go outside much less & was just not quite himself. My first though was that he had injured himself. When he didn’t improve after a couple of days I thought perhaps it was wear & tear on his joints. I consulted my vet mainly thinking he needed some pain relief. I am so glad I acted quickly. The longer it takes to diagnose diabetes the more damage can be done. So, here are some signs to look out for.

Limping, unsteadiness particularly in hind legs.

Increased appetite & thirst.

Issues passes urine/ unusual toilet behaviours.

Sleeping more often than usual.

Confusion.

Take care of your four legged friends & if you can make a donation to help the PDSA look after lots more.

Black and white cat with his paw holding women’s arm

Sisters in arms…

I’m tired. To the bone exhausted. It’s been a relentless year, like everyone else I’ve just kept trudging along. This weekend I hit a wall. I doubt I’m alone.

The convergence of Mother’s Day, police violence against women & the flood of abuse/harassment stories that women have been sharing was overwhelming. Especially when I realised how many similar cases of missing or dead WOC I had never even heard of. Women the mainstream media had little interest in. Women who in some cases haven’t even had their death investigated. I’m not shocked by any of this. I know this is the world we live in. The abstract knowledge doesn’t make each individual case less painful. When you combine one’s own pain with the agony of the collective it’s crushing. It never stops. It never changes.

I’m aware that I’m feeling all this from a position of privilege. I have more space & safety to process. The police would likely pay attention to my family if I disappeared. I know my exhaustion is relative, but god, it’s heavy. I wish it were possible to ease the heavier weight I know many are carrying.

I don’t have any new answers. I’ll keep writing to MP’s, protesting, amplifying marginalised voices, putting my money where my mouth is. It’s a struggle to feel hopeful at the moment. So, I’m going add to taking care of myself to that list. I don’t know what that care looks like yet, but I’m working on it. I urge you to take whatever time you can & give yourself a little TLC too.

Illustration of horse, boy,Fox & mole from Charlie Mackesy
Charlie Mackesy

Red Alert…

The discourse around Sarah Everard’s disappearance has been horribly familiar. The tired victim blaming about where she shouldn’t have walked. The same sinking feeling as the days go by. Duplicate faux shock from men when we recount what life is like for women. The self-same chorus of ‘not all men’. Year after year. Case after case. Victim after victim. It is always the same. None of this is new or surprising. It’s just horribly sad & terribly frightening.

Women aren’t under any illusions about the world we inhabit. We know that we aren’t safe. We’re scared when we walk home alone from the train station. We calculate the threat of each interaction with a man we don’t know. Fashion make shift weapons from handbag contents. The rules are ingrained; no headphones at night, carry your keys, shout fire instead of rape, call me when you’re home! We have been absorbing the message that we are in danger since childhood.

There is no poor decision making. We are simply living our lives. Avoiding all risk isn’t possible. No matter what complex precautions we take, we are exposed. If the journey from my bus stop to my house is along dark, quiet streets then I have no option but to regularly walk alone on dark quiet streets. We don’t have personal escorts, we can’t control who will sit next to us on the train, taking taxis can be cost prohibitive & most cab drivers are men anyway.

Dark,  foggy residential street

We know that ‘not all men’ are dangerous, but we don’t know which ones are. From childhood girls are bombarded with harassment. It never stops. Teachers & drs & bus drivers & our friend’s dad & policemen & strangers on the street & priests & guys in bars & colleagues & friends & lovers. Lots of women aren’t even safe in their own homes. We all have stories of close calls and false alarms. Most is can tell you about the encounters we couldn’t escape too. It is not a revelation that most guys aren’t going to murder us. Knowing that doesn’t change our real fear because often it’s the one you trust who will. The worst case scenario is a reality and we’re reminded of that every single time a man stands too close or lingers too long. We are adding up where this is headed when a creep makes a crude comment or gets aggressive when told no. Here’s the thing that not many men will admit, you know it too. You all know men that you wouldn’t want alone with your sister/daughter/girlfriend. You see those scary men shouting at us on the street and grabbing us in bars. Every time you tell a woman you care about that you’ll see her home or to her car it’s because you are fully cognisant if the threat. The more insidious of you get a kick out knowing you can frighten us without losing plausible deniability. Not all, but definitely enough.

I read a story recently about a guy who got a big cash in hand payment & had to take public transport home with the money. He was on high alert for the whole journey. Everyone looked suspicious. He second guessed his every move. When he relayed how stressful the journey was to his wife, she replied ‘ now you know how I feel everyday’. The solution to this problem isn’t changing female behaviour. Our awareness is at code red. Let’s tackle the predators not prey.

Instead of rushing to shout ‘not me’ men need to listen. They must examine their own complicity & learn what would actually help others feel safer. Challenge your gross friend. Know when your voice is helpful and when it is silencing. Let’s begin to have real conversations about getting more women into key positions. Our criminal justice systems approach to violence against women still needs an overhaul. Perhaps most importantly we all need to think about how we raise our children. The cycle must be broken. Too many women have already been lost.

Stone wall with protect your daughters scored out & educate your sons