Charity of the Month

This month I decided to support Animals Asia. As the name suggests the work to improve the life of abused animals in Asia.

Animas Asia logo, white graphic bear and the words animals Asia in white on black background

I’m a life long animal lover. I have always been involved in animal rights activism in whatever capacity I am able. When I read about the plight of bears in bile farms I was simultaneously heartbroken & enraged. After further reading I discovered that Animals Asia also fight for the welfare of cats & dogs in China and captive animals across Asia.

No animal should spend their life in a cage. Be ripped from their mother at birth. Endure pain & suffering for their entire existence. Animals are intelligent, sensitive creatures who deserve so much more than they are subjected to for human profit.

A bear with sad eyes looking through bars

You can help them run their sanctuaries and ensure the welfare of countless animals. If you can, please consider making a donate.

Black and white cat sitting in a  sofa
Bronan approves this message.

If you’re fond of sand dunes & salty air…

Last week I ran away to the seaside. My sister found a little hotel so close to the beach that when the tide comes in it splashes on your window. It was perfect.

I always feel better by the sea. Staying at The Crusoe was exactly what I needed. It’s a small hotel in Lower Largo. Right on the beach with its own restaurant and bar; the staff are so friendly and facilities are gorgeous. Lower Largo has links to Robinson Cruseo as the birth place of Alexander Selkirk (the basis of the Cruseo story). The hotel has taken its inspiration from seafaring adventures, which made it the ideal place for my pirate obsessed nephew. The staff couldn’t do enough to accommodate us (even giving the little one loads of beach toys). Our stay was a delight.

Lower Largo is a quint little town with really lovely locals. The beach is idyllic, especially when your visit falls mid heatwave. I set up camp on our picnic rug while my sister & her boy ran around digging holes and jumping waves. Being able to step off the beach and straight into out hotel was ideal. There was one flight of stairs to our room, which definitely took me a while to navigate. Thankfully waiting at top was a beautiful room. Filled with the little touches that really make your stay; Tunnocks Teacakes, fancy coffee machine, gorgeous local toiletries and a copy of Robinson Crusoe. With cool seaside decor and excellent shower they ticked all boutique boxes. The star of the show is still undoubtedly the view. Outside your window is miles of sea. You fall asleep listening to the waves lapping against building. For me, that’s bliss.

Dress – Primark
Kimono – Simply Be
Sunglasses – Where Light

We took advantage of our location and also costed Elie. Another pretty seaside town with the most glorious beach. As before the boy and his Mummy had all the beach carry on. Auntie ly participated whilst sat on her bum. I was so relaxed that on one of their trips down to sea I actually fell asleep.

Dress -Simply Be
Sandals – Pillow Slides

I was in need of a break and this trip fit bill. Blue skies, gentle tides and stargazing as night definitely helped my burnout. Who needs to go abroad when heaven is just over an hour away?

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All you need to do darling, is fit in that little dress…

I got an email from photobucket. Actually, I got several that I had ignore because I had more pressing issues. I should have continued pressing because opening the 12th email and clicking that link was a mistake.

Amongst page after page of self harm photos I found pictures of a girl I don’t fully remember. I don’t know why I say a girl, I was a woman. I seem more like a lost girl, though. I look like someone who wants to disappear. I was someone in the process of vanishing. Looking at those photos hurt. It’s painful to see how desperately Ill and unhappy I was. Even more agonising to realise how much the world approves of that version of me. A person who hated themselves so much they wouldn’t eat properly & spilling their blood felt reasonable. But hey, look how I thin I was.

I lost ridiculous amounts of weight in a very short time. I started with what I believed to be a very reasonable calorie restriction. A nice round number that I saw in magazines & tv shows. The weight came off quickly. People around me were pleased. I enjoyed the positive reinforcement. Everything else in my life was a disaster, I liked doing something that everyone was happy about. I also liked my discipline; how strict I could be. I began to relish the hunger pangs and how good I was at ignoring them. When the weight loss slowed I reduced the calories. I limited how many each meal could contain. I couldn’t eat before or after certain times. I filled up on Diet Coke. I had ‘fast’ days and just eat veg days. Rules piled up and weight fell off.

I did this more than once. The weight loss was never maintainable. Each time I started again I believed I would just follow a ‘healthy’ diet. Every attempt at lifestyle change descended into extreme behaviour. The only people who questioned this were the few who’d had their own food issues. I assured them I was ok. This weight loss was good for me. I wasn’t doing anything crazy, in fact I felt so much healthier. I’m sure the believed (or almost did) me because I didn’t think I was lying. I honestly thought the means justified the ends. Being fat was horrible. I was disgusting, I ate too much and it was terrible for me. Having some restraint was improving my body inside and out. I knew I was fudging the details a little, but I really didn’t think I was doing anything dangerous. I did eat. I very rarely threw up. The things left in my diet were all ‘good’ foods. The congratulations rolled in. Besides, I wasn’t even very thin.

I don’t even blame the people who did all the high fiving. They knew I had been unhappy with my bigger body. Those close to me knew how appalling my mental health was. It looked to the outside world like I was doing something good for myself. I seemed more confident, more at peace with my body. Of course we all live in diet culture. Thinner bodies are better. I understand why my weight loss was something to celebrate.

The professionals are another story. They should have known better. I was so very Ill. I was in regular contact with all manner of Drs. My self harm was out of control. I was getting stitched up multiple times a week. The blood loss was wreaking havoc. I had angina attacks, constantly passed out. No sooner was a blood transfusion in than I was working on getting it back out. I had already started to experience the problems that led to pancreatitis. They watched my weight rapidly drop. Climb back up. Then fall off again. Not a single medical professional ever thought to question that. They were the opposite of worried. I was praised. They loved seeing the change on the scale. I was explicitly told how good this shrinking was for me. I didn’t even lie about how I was doing it. I’d joke with nurses about ‘just not eating’. I explained my calorie restrictions and the extent of my diet to Drs. It was all excellent. Keep up the good work. Well, done you!

Even the mental health teams I was working with didn’t raise any alarms. We only ever talked about my weight loss in positive terms. They were glad it was helping my self esteem. There was never any in depth conversation about how I really felt, what I was doing or why. There should have been. They knew my history and my problems. There are so many links between self harm & disordered eating. Control being the most obvious. The triggers for the behaviours can be the same; shame, self hatred, feeling a failure, punishment. They can achieve similar results like a feeling of release or a sense of achievement. My self harm was compulsive and so was the weight loss. I was atoning and deleting the parts of me I despised. The only real difference between the two was how acceptable it was to want to be thin.

As I write this I recognise all the signs of an eating disorder. Yet I cannot accept that diagnosis fits. I can admit I had an unhealthy relationship with food. I know I used extreme methods to lose weight, but disordered eating is as far as I can allow myself to go. Intellectually I know why. I was never dangerously thin. In the midst of it I didn’t ever believe I was thin at all. Those old pictures were shocking because I have no recollection of being as slim as that person. I began my diets fat. Eventually I always returned to fat. That’s why no one ever considered an ED a possibility. It remains why I could never accept the label. For all my learning and activism there is an internalised fat phobia that I’m not sure I will ever shake.

I have compassion for my former self. I am angry at the people who should have helped me. I am happier in my fat body than I ever could have dreamed of in my dieting days. I don’t want to go back. Nor do I want to be smaller. I do however still hold this feeling that I have no right to talk about myself in certain ways. I feel fake. Despite knowing all that I know, I still can’t change the feeling that it wasn’t bad enough for an official title.

That realisation is painful. It hurts to know that nothing has really changed. There are people in the same situation right now. The medical community is still exceptionally fat phobic. If you are fat, disordered eating is encouraged. Prescribed, even. We’re still insisting people fall below a certain BMI before they can be referred for treatment. The fact that Drs are even using BMI is in itself horrendous. People are hurting themselves and the world loves it.

This is why body liberation is essential. It is so much deeper than loving one’s body. Weight stigma is systemic. Built right into the places we are supposed to turn to for help. Fat phobia is in us all. It is insidious and deadly. We all deserve better.

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I Do This All The Time…

It’s been a very hard month(?). Hard to be sure how long because my brain is utterly scrambled. In any case, there has been a lot of medical bullshit and I have not been taking care of business. I have been indulging in therapeutical level loud music, these are the songs that have been on repeat.

I Do This All The Time

Since seeing Self Esteem at Trnsmt. I have been a tiny bit obsessed with this song. Self Esteem is awesome in general, but this song really hit home. Its a cool uplifting anthem, with a ‘you got this’ message. This song has summer has hit written all over it. I suspect its success might be in part because of how well Self Esteem understands her audience. The lyrics really get into the thoughts and concerns of so many women. Our tendency to believe we’re not making the right choices, picking the right people or being good enough at all. Some of these lyrics felt like they were written just for me, especially the ‘you’re a stocky girl’ & ‘it was really rather miserable trying to love you’ lines. It is reassuring to hear someone get that and dispel it all in one upbeat banger. You didn’t think you’d live this long sun happily will get me every time.

Prioritise Pleasure Album Cover.  As slim white woman with blonde hair wearing black bodysuit , black hat and black knee high boots. She is posing with her arms in the air

I Am Not Ready

I discovered Olivia Broadfield via The Split. This soundtrack made the series even more heartbreaking. She is a lyrical genius. I feel these words in my bones. I am a sucker for a sad song and this entire album is perfect. I Am Not Ready works for either grieving someone who has died or lost relationship sense. Oh man, if you’ve experienced either, this one cuts deep. Broadfield’s beautiful voice begging to know if it ever gets easier is a killer. Let’s face it, we’re never ready to say goodbye to the people we want to keep.

The Split Soundtrack Cover. Four white women of various ages looking sternly at the camera

Cloud 9

I can’t even remember where I heard this song. I don’t know anything about Beach Bunny nor have I checked out their other music yet. I just find joy in this song. It’s a dreamy, lovey dovey, summer tune. It makes me smile when I’m stuck in a stifling waiting room. That’s good enough for me.

Cartoon of a women in shirts and t shirts. Lying in the ground with her legs in the air, holding a bunny in her chest

Worry Bout You

I found Kendra Celise on Tik Tik. She is a singer/songwriter with a kick arse country vibe. She was inspired to write this song after a phone call from her ex husband’s new girlfriend. I have to say I think this is the coolest way to deal with some daft bitch bothering you. Her lyrics are clever and this song is so good when it’s blasting all through the house.

White women with blonde hair sitting on the back of a pick up truck holding a guitar

Bronan isn’t always as delighted with my loud choices, but he does always forgive me.

Slightly grumpy black and white cat.  He is lying on a purple sofa with his paw on a pale arm

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I’m not sorry…

I believe the ‘May you live in interesting times’ debate is well and truly settled. These times are no blessing. Life has become that dog in the burning house meme. We’re all expected to carry on, but hey, I don’t think any of us are fine.

Dog in a burning room with a speech bubble saying this is fine

In recent years we’ve had the rise of the right. Politicians who have zero interest in the common good, civic responsibility or even telling the fucking truth. Police are still murdering POC without consequence, whilst they simultaneously neglect to intervene when a maniac massacres small children. The poor get poorer, the rich get richer. Footballers have to intervene to feed hungry children because our leaders have absolutely no interest in people who aren’t just like them. A global pandemic is killing millions and spawned a new kind of selfish. The same people who won’t wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect other will happily force a ten year old child to give birth to a rapist’s child. A new, extra virulent type of anti vaxxer has infected our society. Marginalised groups are more at threat than ever; hate crimes soar. The American right to a gun cannot be challenged, but abortion, gay marriage, trans rights, basic medical care and voting rights are always on the table. The tories lie, cheat and steal right under our noses. They rape and harass to no one’s surprise and the party doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed. Parliamentary goal posts are moved at will, Mp’s get a raise and workers whose wages don’t even keep up with inflation are shamed for striking. Covid, corruption, inequality and of course inflation rage. The PM has gold wallpaper and blow jobs in Westminster. The rest of us dread the electric bill and can’t afford butter. While he’s paying his various flings with public money disabled people can’t even co habit without losing meagre government assistance. The earth we stand on is crumbling beneath our feet and I haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s a whole world of cruelty out there, it never ends.

Did you think that paragraph never end? Where you begging for full stop followed by nothing? Join the club. This isn’t burnout. I don’t need a bit self care and neither do you. We need a revolution. Watching the scummiest humans on the planet make everything worse day after day, year after will destroy any decent person.

If you feel like you’re losing it, I think that’s perfectly reasonable. If you’re angry and sad and feel utterly helpless, I’m right there with you. I am sorry that you’re expected to carry on regardless. I’m sorry that you must live in these intolerable times without any grace. I don’t know what will make any of this any easier, but if you do, please give that to yourself. Don’t apologise for what you need or your reaction to our atrocious world. Nothing is ok, we don’t have to waste energy pretending it is.

* Obviously let’s all organise, protest, donate, vote and support each other as much as we are able. Change won’t happen if we don’t force it, but please also take care of yourself.

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Last night…

Yesterday I did a thing that I thought I could no longer do. Let me tell you, it felt fucking awesome. For the first time in more than a decade I hit a festival and I am going to tell you all about it.

Trnsmt Festival takes place on Glasgow Green in the centre of my dear home town. Back in my day the Glasgow fest to be at was Gig on the Green. In my youth I saw Feeder, Pulp, the Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, Travis and so many more on this big patch of green in the middle of the city. I loved those days of dancing, drinking and screaming out lyrics. Unfortunately, festivals had been added to the list of the things chronic illness made impossible.

Then came Trnsmt with its excellent accesible facilities and my beautiful sister with her VIP tickets. All of a sudden 41yr old, mobility impaired and pain inflicted me is back with the band(s). They put the effort in to make the festival as accessible as possible. With accommodations for hearing & sight impaired customers. Disabled viewing platforms with amazing views, accessible toilets that catered to all needs, free water taps to fill up and no queue sections at bars/vendors. There was an area for guide dogs to relax as well as a cool chill out zone for people who needed it. Blue badge parking & disabled entrance which cut the trek to the action was also available on request. Of course their were first aiders and medical assistance points. The accessible passes were easy to apply for. A quick online form, proof of PIP (if in receipt, passes were available with a short explanation of your needs without evidence) and Blue Badge number for parking were all that was required. Free companion tickets were available via the same process. I was able to enjoy the full festival experience whilst also having all my needs met. I can’t speak for everyone, but the organisers get a big round of applause from me.

Necklace – Topple and Burn
Sunnies – Where Light

As good as the accessibility was I was still grateful to have those VIP bands. The VIP area was a great staging ground for our day. We were able to sit down, eat and plan in comfort. The toilets in this area were also a huge step up from any porto loo. Extra bonus of separate VIP entrance & exit to avoid the crowds. All considered, the ticket prices aren’t that much more, I would definitely recommend. With the sun shining, music in the air and our free Prosecco in hand we headed into a day to remember.

First on our list was Wet Leg; a band my sis was dying to see. I thought I didn’t know them, but turns out they are big on Tik Tok and I already loved a few of their songs. My bestie and I thought they sounded a lot like the Riot Grrrls of our youth, but the kids were still loving them. After a cider on the grass and a lot of help getting back up again we headed to the King Tut’s stage. Comfortably seated on the viewing platform we bopped to CMAT and Self Esteem. Self Esteem was bloody good, definitely added to my Spotify likes. We could see the crowd demographic shifting to our age group as Maximo Park hit the stage for an energetic set. The cider continued to flow as we enjoyed Jimmy Eat world and then headed back to the main stage for the headliner.

The Strokes were superb. Classics mixed with newer stuff. An amusing jam whilst an amp was fixed. Some slightly odd banter and even a nod to Monty Python. I had missed the feeling of partying in a field with thousands of other people more than I knew. Watching the sun go down as your favs blast out songs you love is quite the buzz. I have so many amazing memories set to The Strokes, most of them with my sis and Pam. It was incredible to be making more with them.

The vibe at Trnsmt was just like the old days. Friendly, drunk and pleasantly raucous. I particularly loved all the body liberation on show. Folks of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages rocking whatever they wanted. All looking fabulous and giving zero fucks. I was also chuffed to discover that I haven’t lost all my party girl credentials. I can still guzzle the cider without embarrassing myself. Even better several pints and a tonne of water in, I was still able to go the entire day with visiting a loo. Anyone who has ever been to a festival (or whose every step hurts) knows that is the ultimate skill.

Dress – Simply Be

The day was all the better for being with my sister and best friend. They always help me without making me feel like a horrible burden. Plus of course, they are the fucking best fun ever. Here’s to accessibility and good times!

Trans rights are human rights…

This month’s Charity of the Month is the wonderful Scottish Trans Alliance . If you’re not mad about the current discourse surrounding trans rights then this probably isn’t the blog for you.

Scottish Trans Alliance logo

The mainstream media in the UK is nothing short of vile to and about trans people and the government (uk) refuses to protect them. The political climate is repulsive. It feels very much like we are reliving the late 80’s persecution of gay people. Obviously both groups have been discriminated against outwith these periods, but there is a mirroring that I find particularly disturbing. We’ve been here before; we know those views are wrong and disgusting. Yet, here we are. Demonising, endangering and excluding people who have already had to fight too hard just to exist.

The Scottish Trans Alliance do incredible work in trying to ensure we live in the world in which a person’s gender identity, expression and history do not lead to discrimination. They participate in campaigning, legislation consultation, fund research and hold conferences/other forums to connect and support trans people in Scotland.

For the record, you are not a feminist if you do not support trans rights. Equally you are not fighting for diversity or equality if you want to remove letters from LBGTQ+. If like me, you know that trans rights are human rights please donate to Scottish Trans.

A protest with placards saying Trans Rights Now

Those who trespass against us…

Were you taught to forgive & forget? I think forgiveness is a virtue that most children are encouraged to embrace. If like me you went to a Catholic (or any domination) school you likely had whole lessons on it. Parables, examples of Jesus forgiving all sorts of bad behaviour and even the big man himself wiping the slate clean a plenty. Forgiveness was a given.

White stone with words ‘I forgive you’ lying on sand

That all feels fairly reasonable as a kid. I bought into forgiveness being the decent thing. Then of course you get older. The stakes get a little higher. The religious teaching no longer hold sway and the concept of forgiving becomes very different. It is much harder to offer absolution to people who do terrible things & cause real harm. It gets complicated. Do we forgive people who never genuinely apologise? What about those who repeat the bad? And what about the whole forgetting part? Is it wise to wipe our memories of knowledge that may well protect us in the future?

Then there are the people who will tell you that forgiveness is solely about you. You forgive the trespasses, no matter how bad because it’s how you heal. Not forgiving is carrying the toxicity with you. Many times I hear supposedly wise folk advise that forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did was ok. We do it for our own health. We can forgive and walk away. The key to our own peace is in the forgiveness.

None of that has ever made sense to me. If you remove the ‘what would Jesus do’ element (which I very much do), surely we offer pardons voluntarily? If we don’t feel remotely forgiving, why should we force it? To me, forgiveness is a two person activity. First of all, someone has to be sorry to even qualify. Secondly, they have to actually take steps to do better. Without these factors forgiveness is meaningless.

I don’t buy the forgiveness is for me spin either. It’s entirely possible to remove someone from your life without forgiving them. A person can move on without forgiving. People who hurt us don’t necessarily have to play a part in our healing journey. They don’t have to factor in our future lives at all. I do not believe that forcing myself to absolve a person I do not consider deserving of that mercy will bring anyone peace. If it feels right, it’s probably right. On the other hand, there are things in life that are unforgivable. That’s ok.

You don’t need my (or anyone else’s) permission, but if no one else has ever said it, please know you do not have to forgive. You can carry on, fix anything that person damaged, learn whatever lessons the issue presents and live a lovely life. I’ve done it. I have judged the actions of someone I once loved unforgivable. I won’t ever forgive that person. They did a heinous thing. They never offered me a satisfactory apology. Never made any effort to correct their behaviour. My refusal to discharge their wrongs hasn’t hampered me in any way. I removed them from my life. I had therapy. I had time. I took note of the signs I missed, the acts I accepted and I moved on. I don’t feel anything at all about that person now. I rarely think of them. When they occasionally come up in conjunction with other things I am unbothered. I’m good.

View of sea and cliffs off mull

Forgiveness is optional. It can’t be demanded or guilted from you. Choosing not to forgive is valid. It won’t make you bitter or stunt your healing. You are allowed to build a healthy and happy life on your terms. Never mind JC. Ask yourself what you want and do that.

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My week in pictures…

The sun is out and I have a had a nice week. Here is what is have been up to.

I had a lovely time with some of my little ones. Everyone was feeling snuggly this week, so auntie ly got all the cuddles.

ly is cuddling baby twins and a four year old

The wildflowers I have planted have come out in force this year and they make me so happy. I have these beautiful Marguerites at my front door that make me smile every time I leave the house. Bees appear to love them and this week ladybirds were also enjoying my blooms.

Marguerites and pink flower bud surrouned by greenery d

On Thursday I met my very favourite man for drinks and some chat. It was crazy hot in Glasgow so I opted for a super floaty and light outfit. It was nice to be out and having some adult conversation. Much fun was had.

ly is standing with one hand on hip wearing sheer black maxi dress
Dress – Primark
Kimono – Simple Be

Unfortunately my body rebelled and Friday was a festival of pain. It’s looking like a weekend of rest and recovery. I hate that there is always a price to pay, but I still really cherish the days I get to do lovely things.

Black and white cat stretched out asleep on a purple sofa
Bronan approves of the plan to rest.

Nails done…

What do I do when I feel crap all the time? My nails!

Absolutely love this deep red colour. I fell in love with Chanel Rouge Noir many years ago, but now go for the more ethical Barry M vegan polish. I love a bit of negative space on a manicure; it’s an easy way to accomplish a cool effect.

Two hands showing deep red and silver manicure

Last week I fancied some really bright cheery colours. This mani was fitting for Pride month. Unfortunately they didn’t survive long after a trip to the pool. Good whilst it lasted.

Two hands one with rainbow stripesd manicure, the other with rainbow polka dots

Finally, my attempt at impressionist type floral design. I don’t think I quite hit the water lily look, but they are lovely.

And talking of that trip to the pool, it was wonderful. My sister, my bestie and I took the little ones swimming. I am much more mobile in the water. I love being able to chase them and have a proper carry on. This time I was a shark, kraken and an octopus. Much fun was had. Outfit wise I went for cute and comfy. My beloved Pockets and Sedition palazzo pants*, slouchy tee and ‘sorry not sorry’ my old saggy boobs sans underwiring.

Fat white woman with walking stick is wearing palazzo pants and t shirt
Palazzo Pants – Pockets and Sedition
Tee – Primark
Glasses – Where Light

* Brand Ambassador. Not gifted or sponsored.

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