Independent woman…

I know, I know, it’s too early for the C word. However, If like me you have a tonne of folk to buy for (& a budget to stick to) you have to get organised. Thus, I’m giving you my early bird gift guide.

I’m big into in supporting small business, so I’m recommending lots of awesome independent makers. Most of these people are tried & tested. If I am not already a satisfied customer, then I am hankering after one of their creations. No one is sponsoring this, just doing my bit for a community of people believe in.

Let’s get started with an old favourite, Bonnie Bling. I’ve been fan of this distinctly Scottish accessory brand for years. I seem to love every collection more than the last. Mhairi, the genius behind the bling has surpassed herself this year. She has created the best xmas decoration of all time. Yes, I’m looking at you Capaldi.

Lewis Capaldi Bonnie bling

She’s also got you covered for all your Glasgow centric, politic & quirky gifts. I’d own everything she makes if I could. You definitely know someone who would be delighted to discover some of these gems under the tree.

Various Bonnie bling

A creator I have been admiring, but yet to buy from is the incredibly talented Coll Hamilton. His sketches of Glasgow architecture are so soft & welcoming. They would fit in any home. His portrait work is simply stunning. The emotion captured in these beautiful line drawings are exquisite. The perfect present for a discerning loved one.

Coll Hamilton paintings

Wilde Mode are a body positive, ethical company making hand made underwear. I am so proud to be one of their brand ambassadors*. Every item is handmade, every worker is paid a living wage & every design is awesome. These are the comfiest knickers I have ever put on my body. I love how inclusive this company is. You can find something cute for everyone here.

Wilde mode underwear Happy pussy pants from Wilde mode

The Paper Press Ireland make the sassiest tees. Their slogans are hilarious. They have something amusing for all tastes as well as a cute twist on the traditional Christmas jumper. They’ll also custom print a design of your own, which is how I sourced my amazing kink.

Various paper press Ireland t shirts

If your searching for someone a little smaller Blade & Rose have got you covered. They make the most adorable little leggings with an animal friend on the bum. They have matching tops, socks, bibs & hoodies to complete the look. My nephew wears them all the time. The leggings are wool, so super cosy. Also flexible & perfect for a big carry on. This is the baba modelling some of his collection, but I buy them for loads of my little ones. I’m yet to receive a bad review from any of their Mamas.

Toddler in blade & rose leggings

I know there are loads of offers on the high street, but buying from an small business can help sustain someone’s dream. Plus, what is Santa’s workshop if not a co operative of independent makers?

* Use LyKer102019 for 20% off Wilde Mode orders.

Along with the sunshine…

Years ago I had a genius idea. I thought it would be lovely if we could have a real life version of those romantic montages you get in films. You know the bit in a romcom where someone thinks back over their relationship and we see all the best bits. Now imagine being able to replay the special moments of your own life. That would be lovely right?

Not just the romantic high spots. A full on motion picture, this if your life best bits to play whenever you need a boost. It’s been a tough year so far. So allow me to wander through the memories that feel dreamy. I give you a snippet of my highlight reel.

This one probably doesn’t seem that special, but it still gives me butterflies every single time I summon it. I was just meeting someone for lunch. He was waiting on the steps of a gallery looking stern. As he saw me approaching his expression relaxed. When I reached him he kissed me in a way I hadn’t experienced before or since. I’ll never be able to explain what made that kiss different from all the others, but it made me feel completely wanted. Safe & desired & understood. Then he half turned, caught my eye over his shoulder and took my hand. I melted. It wasn’t a special day. We didn’t do anything extraordinary. There were no meaningful declarations. We definitely didn’t live happily ever after. Yet it is without a doubt the best kiss of my life. It’s funny the things that leave a mark.

I’ve been been consuming a romanticised version of New York City my whole life. It appears in my favourite books, music, art & films. It’s famous streets were home to idols real & fictional. From my early teens I was desperate to get there. I knew it would be incredible, but I was always a little afraid that the real thing couldn’t live up to the fantasy. NYC is turns out, is one of those rare things in life that never lets you down. It is every bit is as magnificent as I had hoped it would be. Everything looks exactly as you thought it would, but still seems unreal. It is a wonderful surprise to find that the place you’ve been dreaming about actually exists. The Empire State makes you believe Cary Grant might sweep you off your feet. The Dakota looks exactly as John left it. 5th Avenue is just like all those advertising posters from the 40’s. Every corner turned reveals a spot where that other Carrie might have swooned over Big. The skyline is as impressive as you imagined and the lights of the city twinkling from the park will take your breath away. More than that, it feels just like I hoped it would. It’s buzzing with creativity & promise & resilience. Wandering alone in Manhattan made me feel exactly as I had anticipated that it might. That swelling of excitement in my core was magical.

ly h Kerr NYC

During my fourth pregnancy I was offered an early scan. A chance to check everything was going to plan. I was terrified and excited. I can’t remember much of what was said. It’s all just a fear stricken blur until the glorious sound of my unborn child’s heartbeat made everything clear. That steady, seemingly irrepressible beat filled a gaping hole that I had worried was bottomless. Hope, it seems, can breach any gap. I’ll never forget that feeling. Whatever came after, I’ll have those precious minutes & that wonderful sound.

When my niece was a toddler my brother & sister in law took her to visit family in South Africa & Zimbabwe. They were gone for nearly a month and I missed her so much. I couldn’t wait to see her on their return. It turned out the feeling was mutual. When she saw me she screamed. She guided me to sit in the floor and climbed into my lap. The way her little face beamed at me is the closet thing to pure happiness that I’ve ever witnessed. Knowing that this precious little person could love me like that is one of the greatest feeling imaginable.

Muffin

On a girl’s holiday in kavos a huge group of us went out for Mexican food. As happens in places like kavos they gave everyone a free shot of tequila. Of the 14 girls assembled only my bff & I liked tequila. So, with a combination of confidence & stupidity that 21 year olds possess, we drank the lot. With 7 tequila shots in each of our bellies we embarked upon a night of awesomeness. The drinks continued to flow, we danced on bars and beaches. We sang at the top of our lungs. We lost the rest of the gang & met a variety of interesting strangers including a guy we named jiminy cricket (we never worked out why). Pam fell asleep on a giant pounding speaker and I mistook a goat for a dog. Finally we witnessed the sun coming up over the booze soaked island as we stumbled our way home. It was the ridiculously messy kind of night you only have when you’re young & far away from home. It was highly irresponsible and probably pretty dangerous, but I wouldn’t change a second if it. I’ll always be glad I had those party days. I’ll always be grateful I had the best friend possible to share them with.

Pam & I

My Gran died young. She had cancer that recurred & spread. I was too young to understand the ins and outs at the time. In fact, I didn’t even know she was ill until close to end. I was the first granddaughter and she basically spoilt me rotten. She called me The Queen. She took me everywhere with her & made it her business to satisfy my whims. From my eagerness to ride horses to my heartfelt opposition to Mum’s chewing gum ban; Gran fixed it. What I’m saying is there are countless highlight worthy times to pick from. The one I always come back to is an uneventful Saturday. We were at Gran’s house & she was debuting what she described as her new look. She had started putting her hair in a tiny ponytail & wearing track suits. In my head it’s pale blue and pretty smart for a track suit, but my memory may be wrong. In any case it was a departure from her usual put together style. She was making jokes and asking how I liked the new image. I didn’t know at the time, but in hindsight it was a change prompted my necessity not fashion. She was getting sicker. She needed more ease and comfort. She must have been in pain. She had to have been scared. I never knew. I do know now how hard it is to be sore & sick all the time. I’m not facing what she did. I’m not dying. She never wavered. She took her narrowing horizons and made it something fun for the grandkids. When I think of her in that sweatsuit she’s laughing & living. That feels like real love.

When I went to Brisbane I was just getting into body positivity. The idea that my body wasn’t wrong was very new. Finding myself in a tropical climate with most days reaching at least 35 Celsius shunted my body acceptance journey into a faster gear. The heat was too intense to cover all the bits I thought needed to be hidden. I was compelled to wear things that would normally have scared me. Guess what happened? Absolutely nothing. I explored the city with my flabby arms & thunder thighs on show and no one cared. After a few days I stopped thinking about if I could wear certain things & just put things on my body. I began to notice that I actually liked how I looked in these items that I’d never usually have dared to wear. I felt comfortable. The day we went to an animal sanctuary was crazy hot. I wore a tiny little flippy blue vest dress. As I wandered amongst kangaroos I realised that I felt completely at ease. The animals were beautiful, the sun felt good on my skin. I was happy & free. It was one of those perfect days when I not only felt amazing in the moment, but I knew I was experiencing a breakthrough. If I could bottle up that feeling, I’d put weight watchers out of business.

Brisbane sunset

I was lucky enough to have a fairly delightful childhood. There were a lot of happy times. One of my stand out memories is the time I spent with my siblings after dinner & before dessert. My parents would send us into living room to let our tummies settle. Looking back I suspect they just wanted 15mins of quiet adult conversation. In any case, no settling of any kind went on. We took advantage of that unsupervised period to behave like mini maniacs. We played a variety of very rough & tumble games of our own devising. To be honest I’m surprised that both the room & all four children survived gems like ‘crocodiles’ & ‘pile on’. We did & those times were golden. This was before the boys got too cool to want to actually play with their little sisters. Back when my baby sister was still an adorably chubby cheeked little monster. It was long before any of us had any worries beyond how good pudding would be. We were securely encased in the family unit. We always had someone to talk to, someone to carry on with & someone to tease. We never doubted that our parents could handle any difficulty we encountered. Life was good.

Young Kerrs

It occurs to me that some of my happiest life snap shots are bittersweet. I’m not sure if it’s that just the way of life or a testament to what happens when the universe beats you up a bit. Either way, I’m glad I’ve mastered the art of counting my blessings. I suppose sometimes the cliches are true; you can’t have the rainbow without the rain.

Dear Baby…

Dear Baby,

You’re not a baby anymore. Or you wouldn’t be. Today would have been your 18th birthday. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things you could have been. I’ll never know what your talents are. What you loved & hated will always be a mystery. Our life together will forever be unknown. I’ve watched so many others mark the milestones in their children’s lives & my thoughts invariably turn to you. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the blanks.

I have dreamt of every minute of your life. Waking from those beautiful fantasies feels like a stab in the heart. Every single time. I hope those dreams are snippets of how our life would have been. I don’t want to think of us as anything other than happy.

So, today you’d be a man. I’m sure you would be wonderful. The kind of person I’d be proud to have raised. I’ll always be proud regardless. Proud that my blood ran in your veins, thankful that your heart beat in me & grateful that we had any time at all.

Big love,

Always,

Mum.

Xx

Blackbirds singing in the dead of night…

It’s 5.07am. There are some very loud birds outside & the light is creeping around the edges of my blackout blind. I haven’t slept, but I do finally feel a little bit sleepy. Do I sleep? If so I might sacrifice the day. After no more than a couple of hours for the last few nights I might conk out big style. I wanted to do something today. Something nice enough to make me feel like I am doing normal life whilst still being easy. Sleeping all day does not fit the bill. Although, perhaps I’ll wake up feeling rested & be productive. If I could complete one if the many, many things on my list I might feel a tiny bit less anxious. For now I’m stuck in the vicious crazy circle. No motivation + no energy = accomplishing nothing. As the things I have not done pile up so does my anxiety. Until the undone things & the anxiety are so huge that I’m paralysed by their weight. I’m just stuck underneath it all stressing & not sleeping & feeling increasingly worthless. So, maybe I should sleep. I’m exhausted. I’m always exhausted because I never get enough sleep. There is always something keeping me awake. Be it pain or anxiety or coughing or nightmares or vomiting or the terrifying vagueness of insomnia. Right now I feel that illusive part of tiredness that usually escapes me. The fuzzy comforting drowsiness that signals actual sleep is a possibility.

But

If I sleep now, chances of sleeping tonight are slim. I could miss the chance to do a thing that could make me feel a thing that isn’t grey or edgy. If I close my eyes now I’m risking the dreams. Flashing scenes dripping with all the things I cannot bear to look at again. Flickering images soaked in feelings too potent for consciousness. Then I’ll wake in a mess. Heart pounding, breath hiding m & I’ll have to talk myself down. Fool myself into calmness that’s counterfeit. Either way the day is scuppered. All those hopes for lightness dashed. 


So, I stay awake. I’ll just wait in this cool dark room for the day to really get started. Force myself into the shower. Try to make a plan that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Push down the fatigue & the jangling of every nerve for the possible reward of OK. Reassure myself that this isn’t forever. Repeat that I am not back in the hole. It has been a difficult month. I am allowed to feel bad. Tomorrow or the next day or the day after that will be easy. Just keep going. Swing from one pleasant moment to the next & hold my breath through all the rest. 

This will pass

I will write the things that are over due

I will do some god damn washing 

I’ll cook a proper meal 

&

Wash my hair

Peace will be restored 

Life will go on

&

I will live it. 
If only I could get some sleep…

 

And they’ll come true, impossible not to do…

I was inspired by my darling sister’s 35 before 35 post to get some goals down in black & white. However, as I’m only 3 months from the mid 30’s point I had to raise the age bar. So, here it is, the 40 things I really must get done before I enter middle age.

1 Finish my tattoo collection. I have three more designs that need to get out of my head & onto my body. 

2 Develop my stigma fighting business plan.

3 Have babies.

4 Take a ride in a hot air balloon. 

  
5 Learn to drive. Yes, I am a 34yr old woman who is terrified of driving.

6 Buy all the Irregular Choice shoes.

  
7 Rescue animals from factory farming.

8 Perform in a burlesque show. Chorus line would cool.

9 Visit Jenna in Philadelphia.

10 Master Japenese cooking. I need to know I can have yasai gyoza whenever I feel the urge.

11 Visit Tagalooma with Athena.

12 Adopt a retired greyhound.

13 Lots & lots of surface piercings.

14 Execute the cutest pregnancy announcement ever.

15 Cook Xmas dinner for my entire family.

16 Take a break in one of those beach huts on stilts in the ocean. 

  
17 Write for Skorch.

18 Mix my own perfume. 

19 Teach Billy to swim properly.

20 Get a book deal.

21 Check out those big heads on Easter Island.

22 Send the perfect family xmas cards. 

23 Make Danilo go on the big romantic xmas wheel. 

  
25 Perfect one ballroom dance & trot it out at every single occasion.

26 Take a romantic break in a Scottish castle.

27 Learn Sign language.

28 Fall utterly in love with more nieces & nephews. Get to it, siblings!

29 Get a professional portrait painted of my beautiful Bronan. 

  
30 Rock the Big Apple with my girls.

31 Find miraculous cure for all my health issues. 

32 Take my little ones to Disney World.

33 See Morrissey live.

34 Finish Athena’s books before she gets too old for them.

35 Try synchronised swimming. 

36 Finally see Much Ado About Nothing performed at Bard in the Botanics. 

37 Send random mystery flowers to folk who would appreciate them. 

  
38 Learn to code (at least well enough to snazz my blog).

39 Take my Mum to Austria to do the Sound of Music tour. 

40 Be the best Mummy ever!

Any advice or suggestions on who to achieve my goals is most welcome. Wish my luck.