You’re my favourite…

I’m still a little bit in holiday mode. I’m struggling a bit with some hardcore fatigue and have given myself until Monday to get back into gear. I didn’t want to leave a gap here, so I settled on the epitome of new year posts; the round-up. My 2018 favourites, if you want to get specific.

I started the year reading what turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year. ‘The Love of a Bad Man’ by Laura Elizabeth Woollett is a collection of short stories that tells the fictionalised (based on real events) account of the women who paired up with some of history’s most notorious bad men. When I say bad, I mean completely evil. It’s dark, but so original. We rarely get an insight into the lives of women caught in the drag of historical men. These imagined tellings of their relationships and (often destroyed) lives is compelling.

The love of a bad man

My favourite beauty buy (who am I?) this year was bought early on too. It was a super cheap ebay experiment that had amazing results. I have long yearned for a dramatic winged eyeliner look. Alas I have never possessed the requisite skills. Enter my new friend, the eyeliner stamp. It took only a few attempts to perfect the perfect flick. I can now cheat my way to amazing eye flare.

Eye liner stamper ly h Kerr eyeliner flicks

By spring we were already engulfed in a heat wave. The Toyboy & I took advantage of sun & slipped off on a mini break. Kilberry Bay, Tarbert is just stunning. We enjoyed a few peaceful days surrounded by the most beautiful nothing. With a deserted beach so pretty that it’s used as a wedding venue and a gorgeous view of Islay, Kilberry was the ideal spot for a rejuvenating getaway.  I find the sound of the tide swooshing on the sand desperately romantic, thus this became my favourite trip of 2018.

Kilberry Bay

Summer brought more sun and No Shame. Lily Allen’s eagerly awaited fourth album. I’ve always loved Lily’s witty lyrics and wry honesty. No Shame ups the auntie on all of that, a lyrical description of the collapse of a marriage, juggling motherhood, work & living. All is laid bare with, you guessed, it no shame. Just lashings of reality. Each track pulsing with the guilt, hope & grit of life.

No Shame

I took until August to hit the outfit jackpot. The Edinburgh Festival was a masterclass in packing light as I knew I’d have to carry my back pack on the final day. Thus I had to think clever when it came to styling. I ticked all the boxes with this sheer/retro combo. I even managed to make my walking stick look almost cool in this picture. Which is quite a feat, believe me, navigating Edinburgh with a stick is not smooth going.

ly h Kerr Ed fringe

Last, but most definitely not lost least is my favourite day of the year. February 6th was without a doubt the most magical day of 2018. That’s the day my amazing little sister brought her adorable little man into the world. He has been a complete joy every day since. New babas to love will always be the best thing life can offer, so ’18 was a stellar year.

ly h Kerr baba nephew

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The Spoonie Guide to Xmas…

Christmas is joyous and lovely and incredibly hard for the chronically ill. On top of keeping up with every day life there are a million other tasks to contend with. Not only is there shopping, wrapping & cooking, but there are a multitude of festive social events. Oh & the expectation that we’ll all be merry and bright.

When you’re chronically ill you don’t get time off for Christmas. Keeping up with seasonal demands when you’re in pain & exhausted can be impossible. Here’s my spoonie guide to surviving Xmas. Plus a little advice for friends of family of the chronically ill.

Make a list, check it twice.

The only way I can keep track of what needs to be done is making a multitude of lists. Lists help combat so many issues. If you’re dealing with brain fog, anxiety, impaired cognitive function, fatigue and so on, lists are life savers. I usually break things down into categories and try to assign a time scale to each list. The trick is to be realistic about how much you can do each day and not freak out if you don’t complete your list. Simply roll over outstanding items. Accept that some times you will have to make cuts. You can’t do everything. The world will not end if you don’t post the Xmas cards this year.

Start early & manage expectations.

I always start Xmas prep super early. The longer you have to get organised the more you can spread the work load. Getting a jump on the shopping also really helps if you have a tight budget. It is much easier to find smaller amounts of energy & money.

Be honest with yourself and others about what you can manage. If you have to trim the gift list or swap a phone call for a meet up, do so. I believe Christmas is about embracing the ones we love. Try to work out in advance which parties/get togethers you comfortably manage and communicate that. Float the idea of secret Santa style gift giving rather than buying everyone in your group an individual present. Expensive presents don’t matter. An enjoyable phone call or grabbing a quick coffee is much nicer than forcing yourself to suffer through social engagements that cause you distress.

If you have to cancel, make your apologies, but be firm. You didn’t choose to be ill. You are not intentionally disappointing. Remind yourself of this and try your hardest not to feel guilty.

The internet is your friend.

I do the majority of my Xmas shopping online. It is much less stressful and physically taxing to order from the sofa. The shops are crazy at this time of year. Not to mention the weather is awful. Stay warm & rested and get your festive haul delivered. This goes for food too. You can order in advance and have the Christmas groceries delivered as and when you need them.

Allow yourself to enjoy what works for you.

Christmas comes with a variety of traditions. Everyone has their own variations and seasonal essentials. It’s lovely to uphold family traditions, but only if they work for you. This is your life and your Christmas, you are entitled to enjoy the festivities. If something will negatively impact your health, don’t do it. There is no joy in activities that hurt you.

Establish your own Christmas customs. Whether that is embracing existing rituals or just making up them up from scratch. Deck the halls, wear an ugly jumper, stick cinnamon on everything or don’t. Suit yourself. Celebrate in style, but make it your style.

Don’t be a dick.

This is for the loved ones. If someone in your life is dealing with chronic illness, be kind. We know we disappoint sometimes. We get that we’re not the easiest to accommodate, but please be patient. Cut us a little slack. As inconvenient as our symptoms can be for others, trust me dealing with them every single minute of our lives is harder.

My week in pictures…

Last week started yuck with a viral bug, got a bit rocky with with hospital nonsense & finished up with a lot of lovely relaxing.

I’ve done a fair bit of lying in bed. Which might have led to a little bit of feeling sorry for myself shopping. Oh & eating bowl after bowl of broccoli soup to appease my damn stomach.

Soup, hospital band, soup, spunk rockstar

New hat

I had a hotel overnighter on Thursday & took advantage of being right in the city centre to get out a little. We saw a movie, spread some #projectpostit wisdom & snapped some pretty sights.

Wagamama lightsPoint a hotel, project postitly h KerrCineworld, ice blastNaked with socksGood things, primark Glasgow

And of course my wee paw monster has been cheering me up with his cuteness.

Bronan Kerr

A central part of your mind’s landscape…

Are you respectful? Do you try not to hurt other people’s feelings? How often do you reassure friends that they have done a great job, tell them not to be so hard on themselves? Almost everyone manages these things & more. Most of us know how treat others kindly. We’re all delighted to be our loved one’s cheer leaders. So why do we find it so hard to be in our own corners?

For a long time I thought my negative self talk was a rare thing. I was battling severe mental illness & I assumed the cruel way I addressed myself was justified. I didn’t really speak about that abusive voice in my head outside of therapy. I did CBT, compassionate mind training, EMDR and a variety of other therapy techniques. Regardless, I still talk to myself in a manner that I would not dream of confronting others. Yes, this is part of my mental health problems, but I’m realising it’s also really common.

I am not alone in berating myself. In fact, I think to some degree or another, we all do it. My problem is keeping it under control. I can spiral from ‘that was daft’ to ‘I’m utterly useless in a flash’. I am aware that haranguing myself in this way is damaging. I know it plays into other aspects of my poor mental health; it lowers my self esteem, leads to second guessing & most dangerously makes me feel like I should punish my incompetence.

Lately, I have noticed a lot of public discussion on this topic. It has become clear that women in particular fall prey to negative self talk. We undermine ourselves. We judge ourselves not good enough. I’m wondering why.

Is it a side effect of our culture? There’s a constant onslaught of just keep grinding messages. Everyone has a side gig. Many women are trying to juggle careers & motherhood. We’re all trying to fulfil multiple roles. All the while being bombarded by media images of perfection. Is this why we fall short in our own estimations?

I’m not superwoman. None of us are. I have learned to cope with lots of aspects of mental & physical illness. This one I cannot seem to conquer. My first thought in the face of almost every problem is ‘this is my fault’. Although not in such polite terms. I can take a part the situation logically and prove that I am not always to blame. Intellectually I can believe that I’m not the cause of every misfortune, but I can’t feel it.

As I’ve said I have received significant psychological intervention. I know all theory behind the skills that are supposed to combat these thoughts. Somehow, I remain immune to the entirety of it. So, I ask you, what do you when that horrid internal voice pipes up? I’m really asking & I am absolutely open to suggestions.

Very big house in the country…

Nothing cheers up a dreary Monday than running off to a peaceful country hotel. A couple of days immersed in gorgeous grounds, yummy food & a relaxing spa definitely puts a positive spin on your week.

Macdonald Houstoun House

Houstoun House is set an historic building with great services. Set in pretty countryside with some lovely formal gardens it is a great spot for a soothing escape. After dealing with another kidney infection & heavy bought of insomnia I was eager for small break. My super mummy sister was equally in need of a rest. Our tiny companion is pretty happy exploring any new place, but he was particularly delighted with Houstoun House.

Gardens, Houstoun House

A delicious three course meal followed by a good old carry on with the baba got us off to a good start. A huge comfy bed & top notch breakfast eased us into the next day. Then it was time for deep tissue massages & lots of splashing around in the pool with the boy.

ly h Kerr, Houstoun House

What else to wear when being a luxury bitch, but velvet? Oh & some leopard print too.

ly h Kerrly h Kerr

Dress – Bonmarche

Tights – Asos Curve

Belt – Asos Curve

Pumps – Primark

Glasses – Where.light

This week I have been mostly…

Trying (& failing) to get some sleep. I’m really fecking tired. Once I’ve done all the yoga, watched all the relaxing tv, had baths with bombs, face masked myself into oblivion, finished the housework & whatever book I’m reading & sprayed every calming scent known to man there is just one thing left to do. Lie still in a dark room & turn up the music.

I require only a couple of things from my insomnia tunes; they must be deep enough to flood the room & gentle enough to let me float away. Wonderful by Lianne La Havas complies. Her thick sweet voice coats me in wistfulness. I feel this song’s warmth in my chest. Its steady pace a comforting secondary pulse. The lyrics tempting & bittersweet. This is perfect middle of the night music.

Every now & then I stumble across music from my past and it opens a door to another time. David Gray’s White Ladder is just a such a time capsule. The intro of Please Forgive Me was enough to shoot me back to the year 2000. Despite that being a fairly mixed year for me this song holds only uncomplicated feels. It has connected itself to chilled after parties; the smell of dope & DKNY. To falling asleep in beds shared with a bunch of friends & waking up to 5 girls talking at once. It feels less like lightening & more like friendship running through my veins. I know it’s a love song, but for me it’s an ode to student flats & almost adulthood.

A Star is Born almost killed me. Seriously, I weeped myself raw, but Shallow saved me. Man, it is hard keeping it hardcore. I’m so relieved to have found softer ways. This is one of those songs that rouses every bloody emotion. I seems like I’ve been far from the shallows for a very long time. It feels good to sing it out loud.

Which brings me to my brand new discovery, Yoko Pwno. I heard them play at the last Yellow Sunday & was utterly captivated. A unique & totally bewitching band; they are comprised of violins, drums & techno synth type sounds. They’re hard to quantity, but oh so easy to fall in love with. Currently blasting in my late late playlist is It could always be worse. Mainly because when played at volume it washes over me & allows my mind to drift. Also, though, because that title’s a good reminder not to despair when I find myself still awake a 5am. It can always be worse, but it’s likely to feel better if you stick Yoko Pwno on.