Make a smile for me…

This month I was inspired (influenced?) to support a charity by one of my fav instagram accounts. I saw a post about Smile & felt compelled to make a donation. Which goes to show that social media isn’t all bad.

Smile Train fund drs, clinics etc to perform cleft palate repairs on kids who would otherwise not have access to the procedure. It’s a fairly routine op in more privileged parts of the world, but one that is outwith the means of many. Failure to correct a cleft palate can have far reaching implications. From an inability to feed properly and resultant dangers to exclusion from society. The facial difference can cause children to be shunned be communities. Leaving them unable to access education, build relationships and leading to permanent isolation.

This is a problem that can be fixed and you can help. You can give a child a smile & a chance a better life. Please donate if you can.

Blue skinned beast…

I’ve never been a shrinking violet. If I feel strongly about something, you’ll know it. I’m not scared of being noticed or to look different. All of which makes Fuck the Tories one my favourite brands.

Jewellery box with glittery fuck the tories business card

If you haven’t checked them out yet, hop to it. Not only do they make fabulous radical accessories, they also support great causes. It feels like we are living in some kind of alternate political reality at the moment. I rush from disbelief, to rage, to despair on a daily basis. The ascendence of Boris to PM has only made matters worse. So, the new range of Fuck Boris necklaces are a very glittery outlet for my frustrations.

Red glittery fuck Boris necklace in jewellery box

I know wearing a necklace won’t change anything by itself. It does make me feel a little better to express my disgust and connect with like minded people. I will continue to do everything else in my power to affect change. I hope you will too. Protest, contact your MP, sign the petitions, vote! In the mean time you can enjoy the satisfaction of supporting an amazing small business & voicing your opinionated loud and clear.

It’s a me, myself kinda attitude…

Self care is a phrase that makes me boak. It has so many bullshit connotations that I just can’t be doing with. I’m not interested in the healing powers of green tea, crystals or turmeric. A cup of tea and a chat won’t fix my crazy head. Neither will congratulating myself for brushing my teeth. If any of that works for, knock yourself out, I’m genuinely happy for you. It all just leaves me with a bad taste (literally in some cases) in my mouth. However, I do believe that you have look after yourself. It’s important to pay attention to the little things that make a difference to your day/life. And every now and again you have to go BIG.

Hotel do not disturb sign

That’s exactly what I did last week. I’ve been walking the tightrope of mental & physical health flares. I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m sad and with the arrival of my 39th birthday I’m old too. I was in need of a treat. So, I gave myself a 5 star escape.

I booked a couple of nights at a boutique hotel in my city. Checked into my beautiful room and checked out of reality for a few days. I told no one. I drank champagne cocktails in the epic roll top bath. Ordered room service and watched old movies in the gigantic bed.

Hotel room with roll top bath Grand staircase and stained glass window, dining room with chandelier and champagne cocktail

It did me good to dip out of my real life. It hasn’t solved any of my problems, but man alive was it good to have some respite. It also felt really amazing to be able to do a lovely thing for myself. It’s great to be treated by others, but there is a deep satisfaction in giving yourself something you need.

ly looking in mirror in white hotel robe, ly soaking in roll top bath

My advice would be less ‘self care’ and more taking care of yourself.

It’s later than you think…

I think it’s universally acknowledged that getting older is a wee bit scary. As one approaches those big milestone ages it is hard not to ponder the big questions. 39 is frightening mainly because of its proximity to 40 & all that entails.

I remember being worried in the run up to the big 30 too. Mainly because I felt like I wasn’t where I had imagined I would be at that stage of my life. That little measure of fear probably helped in the long run. It helped me make some needed changes. My thirties have been far happier than the preceding years. I believe what made that possible was time. I had time to think and plan and manoeuvre.

Ultimately, though, I’m approaching 40 still missing the crucial piece of my puzzle. However, this time I am very nearly out of time. My options are ever shrinking. That is frightening on a whole other level.

I sometimes feel like the proverbial guilty feminist when I have this conversation. Fear of ageing is often assumed to be about vanity. It’s thought silly to worry about grey hairs or crows feet. It’s assumed the desire to stay young is about adherence to sexist beauty standards. Or if it runs deeper the biological clock is referenced in demeaning tones. Ageing childless and/or single women are often perceived as desperate or pathetic. I suspect much of this is internalised, but I had to get these messages somewhere!

Balloon with sorry about my internalised misogyny

Where am I going with this? I suppose I just want to say it is ok. Things become a cliche for a reason. Ageing is scary. Whether that is because you are worried about physical changes, not achieving goals, your own mortality or a all of the above. It’s ok. Most folk struggle a little with change. It’s perfectly understandable to feel uncomfortable with the alterations you see on the mirror. It’s fine to be concerned about the irrevocable biological changes that age brings. Knowing that some opportunities have passed you by can be hard to accept. The unstoppable nature of the passage of time can be alarming.

In many ways age is just a number. Nevertheless, ageing does have concrete ramifications. It isn’t anti feminist to accept or care about them. A big part of the significance of our appearances is routed in living in a patriarchal society. It isn’t merely a shallow obsession with attractiveness; women’s ageing is not as viewed sympathetically. There are real life implications beyond aesthetics. Career prospects, financial considerations, medical and fertility issues are a big deal. Even if you just really lovely your hair and don’t want it to go grey, you’re allowed to have a wobble about that.

ly looking in mirror sign towel around body and hair

In the end the thing that makes it so worrisome is also what helps me deal with it. You can’t stop time. It is entirely out with our control. Feel whatever feel. Talk it out. Then carry right on living because it always later than you think.

Another year older…

Today is my 39th birthday. Man alive, do I feel a lot of things about that. It doesn’t feel like a particularly friendly number. I am imagine I’ll write more on than another time. For now, I’ll share the lovely bits.

Namely, being spoiled by my lovely people, having a good old carry on with some rascals and a very excellent dress. I had an early birthday yesterday with my sister, bff and their babies. It was delightful. I love watching them play together. I hope so much they will always be friends. They were having so much fun that pictures really weren’t on their list of priorities. Contrary to appearances here, they do actually love their Auntie ly.

Ly laughing with two struggling toddlers on her knee

My best girls showered me with super cute pressies (they’re sure to festive in upcoming ootds). It makes me feel very loved to open gifts and find things I absolutely adore. People knowing you well enough to always know what you’d like is very nice. Having amazing female support that you can always rely on is even nicer. I’ve had these two by my side for almost my entire life and I never want to be without them.

Three smiling women

Finally, there is that dress. I saw this ages ago, but couldn’t really justify buying it at the time. I didn’t need another maxi dress. When it popped into the sale my resolve weakened. Turns out I definitely do need this dress. It takes my yellow obsession into the new season and it looks banging. Plus I already had the perfect earrings to top it off.

ly h kerr snakeskin maxi dress

Dress – Pretty Little Thing

Monki snake earrings

Earrings – Monki

The dress is a bit more titty than I originally realised, but the girls are holding up ok. I’m not doing too badly for an old bird.

Snake nail art

If you’re going to have a theme you might as well go all out. So, my nails got snakey too.

You’ve got stuck in a moment…

You know how they say you can’t smell your own perfume, so you have to careful now to wear too much? I feel a bit like that about my body. Specifically, my scars.

I’ve lived with the damage for so long that I cannot judge how severe it is. Mostly, I don’t think about my scars at all. They’re not a consideration in dressing anymore. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of what they may signify. I usually find any rudeness engendered by my patchwork skin says more about the observer than the observed.

However, every once on a blue moon I have a moment. Often it’s my own doing. I catch sight of my reflection at an unusual angle or change under different lighting and I’m shocked. Horrified maybe. Not so much at my appearance as the fact that I did this to myself.

More rarely it’s as a result of another’s extreme reaction. A gasp or frightened look stirs much more than judgemental comments. When my battle scars scare others it stirs the old guilty feelings.

Sun shining through trees

In either case it is doubt that knocks my confidence. I find it impossible to determine if my body is hideous or merely slightly disfigured. Without a clear grasp of what I have done I feel adrift. It takes me back to my days in the self harm trenches; never knowing how serious a wound was. Unable to grasp onto any equilibrium.

Am I a dramatic fool over nothing or inflicting horror on innocent parties? And which would be worse? The uncertainty shakes me. I feel an imposter. For all my proclamations of body confidence there are times when my self inflicted seams run deep.

I’m stuck in a moment right now. I fight the urge to hide. Steal myself against thoughts of splitting those seams open. It’ll pass. In the meantime I’ll have the long sleeve weather to regain my surety.

Blurry lights through blinds

But when I hear of how the forests have died…

We all know we’ve fucked the planet. Hopefully most of us are trying to do what we can to heal our home. The kids did is proud with the climate change strike this week and we need to pull our weight too.

I know huge corporation and government level change is what really needs to happen, but in the meantime; every little helps. This month I have combined treating my nephews with giving the amazing a tiny wee helping hand. You can sponsor an animal from of your choice from WWF for just £3 a month. I opted for an orangutan & gorilla. The former because the baba loves watching a programme about orangutan rescues plus the Amazon connection. The latter because my bigger boy is fond of the majestic creatures.

In exchange for your monthly donation you will receive a cuddle toy of your chosen species, adoption certificate and face book. It’s actually a really nice gift for a little one. Fun, educational and teaches them about giving.

We need to keep fighting for large scale structural change. Whilst we battle supporting orgs that keep animals & their habitats alive is a good back up. Plus you can make someone in your life smile with a wee cuddly.