Up in my air balloon…

I’m still not getting out much, but I did wear two cute outfits & have a little fun this week. I used my auntie time to try out some new thrift finds. I’m quite pleased with the results.

First up was some time with my littlest niblings. The babas are walking now and so much fun. I tried my new twirly skirt and it was perfect for sitting on the floor and wrangling babies. Getting back up was a bit of a challenge, but hey ho.

Skirt – Thrifted
Vest – Primark
Shawl – Gift

On Saturday I had my first big day out in quite a while. We headed to The Hot Air Balloon festival in my Mum’s village. It was wonderful. I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but watching them take off was a close second best. My nephew was crazy excited watching them launch. He also had a lot of fun on various rides & bouncy castles. He even managed to convince his Mummy to let him have green hair. For this outing I wore another of my 2nd hand finds; an amazing cat print skirt. I went full crazy auntie & teamed it with a petticoat and nirvana vest. Then finished the whole look with a deeply hippie dippie shawl. I got some looks, but I loved it!

Vest – Very Old
Skirt – Thrifted
Petticoat – Lindy Bop
Shawl – Gift

Today I am in recovery mode. I expect it’ll be jammies for the foreseeable. Bronan approves.

The Fear…

I planned a really lovely weekend. I was going to visit a friend I haven’t seen since pre pandemic. She lives by sea and always makes me giggle like a maniac. I was so looking forward to it, but my body had other ideas.

ly is in a hospital bed wearing a face mask and hospital gown. She has leads attached to her chest

On Friday evening my chest pain got really bad. Then I had a fainting spell. As soon as I managed to get on my feet I would faint again. Sitting on my hall floor with my head spinning and heart pounding I felt scared.

I wasn’t scared of one particular thing; the fear was in the uncertainty. Not knowing how bad this is. Not even knowing what exactly this is or if it will ever go away. I have felt so fragile and vulnerable in these last few months. I haven’t been able to trust my body at all.

I have gotten used to my body failing me, but this has been on a whole new level. Every time I stand up my head spins and my whole body tingles. I can’t catch my breath, I don’t know if I will be able to stay on my feet. I have always prized my self sufficiency and it feels as though it has been slipping away.

My weekend in hospital hasn’t changed anything. Drs gathered some more information, but they couldn’t solve the problem. I await appointments with specialist consultants. Hopefully they can get to root of my long covid complications. The truth is I don’t even want to consider living like this permanently. It’s just too terrifying to think about.

For the moment I am happy to be home with my furry little nurse. I’m trying to rest and not stress about all the things that I am not getting done.

Black cat snuggling on blankets being petted

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Baby, you’re the words & chapter…

After some recent ‘market research’ I discovered that folks would like me to share more of what I’m reading. I have always been a total bookworm & am pretty much constantly reading. I always intend to share books I enjoy, but never remember. My goodreads is neglected for months & then a tonne of books of are added at once. Now that I have confirmation that people do actually want this type of content, I am going to try much harder. Starting right now, with a rundown of some of my favourite books.

Delusion of Grandma, Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher was incredible in every single way. I absolutely worshipped her. Her acting, comedy & activism were all top notch. Her writing was sublime. I have never found anyone else who writes in such a poetic stream of conscious like style. Carrie draws from her own life to create works of fiction that take my breathe away. Delusions of Grandma centres around Cora, a script fixer who discovers she is pregnant just as her relationship ends. She then goes on a road trip with her eccentric Mother to fulfil her failing Grandfather’s last wish to return to his home town. Her Grandfather has dementia & so may not actually know when he is ‘home’, but they feel duty bound. Her mother is loving, but A LOT. She has a writing partner & best friend who is wonderful, but A LOT. Cora herself could be described as, you guessed it, kind of A LOT. Cora becomes convinced that she won’t survive child birth & starts writing long letters to her unborn child. These letters detail major relationships & events in Cora’s life. They give the reader insight into who she is and how she feels about herself. The way Fisher handles mental illness through these narratives is one of the most lucid accounts I have ever read. I knew exactly the feelings she was describing. Her writing is so exceptional that I practically felt them as I read. If you haven’t experienced Carrie Fisher’s unparalleled writing talent I urge you rectify that as soon as possible.

Delusion a of Grandma cover art   Yellow rubber duck with book title on blue

The Travelling Hornplayer, Barbara Trapido

The Travelling Hornplayer consists of multiple intersecting stories. The connections in the characters lives are revealed as the book unfolds. Each of the tales are woven together so skilfully that it feels somewhat magical. That hint of magic persists within the little cosmic drops throughout each character’s narrative. Trapido’s storytelling is beautiful. All of her books feature the same families of characters, but explore different aspects of their lives. Background characters from one novel push centre stage in another. This particular book became my favourite of the authors by virtue of featuring a cycle of poetry I fell in love with at university. A quote from which is now permanently inked on my body. Words have always been my religion and this book is part of my bible.

The words ‘ the stars are too high’ tattooed on freckled arm
The travelling horn player cover art

My Thoughts Exactly, Lily Allen

This book is of course Lily Allen’s autobiography. I’ve always liked her music & most of her candour. I felt a sort of fellowship with her after her first child was still born, which made me more interested in her work. What I admire most about this book is Lily’s honesty. She speaks so openly about her life even when it is not remotely flattering. She lays herself bare as she recounts her childhood, mental health battles, experiences of motherhood, fame, sexual assault & infidelity. It is a brave and raw book. Not at all the typical show biz memoir. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

My thought exactly cover art  (yellow background with photograph of Lily Allen)

There you go, some of my very best books. I have a million favourites, so there will probably be more posts like this. I will also endeavour to post what I am reading (& enjoying) on Insta.

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The Fear…

Spoonie life comes with many challenges. There are the obvious constrictions. Then there’s the hidden toll. The less apparent complications that pack a punch. It’s those tricky unseen issues that I want to talk about.

A major component of my chronic illness is anxiety. I have mental health issues which include anxiety, but my physical difficulties bring their own particular stresses. There’s the guilt; a feeling that’s perpetually nestling in the background of my consciousness. Guilt over letting people down, asking for help, using resources or saying no too many times. I have a million things to feel guilty about and every one of them has it’s own additional worries. I feel huge anxiety about cancelling anything due to illness. I worry people will be angry, upset, left in the lurch. I analyse every response and feel certain someone is annoyed. I overthink every request for help. Surely I can get this done without inconveniencing others. Am I asking too much? Always, always I worry that I’m just not worth all the extra effort.

Unfulfilled potential offers me unlimited scope for guilt. I am sure that I have disappointed. There are expectations that I have not met. Chronic illness has interrupted or ruled out so many things. I know my limitations have impacted more than me. I am haunted by the moments I may robbed folk of. To not live up to the hopes of those you respect is crushing. Not reaching your own is no party either. On an existential level it feels negligent not to maximise one’s talents. I spend more time than is reasonable worrying about all the ways in which I have short changed society. I am ashamed of all the things I cannot do.

Orange light is sunset shining in to a dark room

Shame looms large. Intellectually I know I cannot control any of my health issues. However, I’m not always great at translating that knowledge into feelings. I’m embarrassed about how little I can get done during the bad times. I often feel less capable, less valuable, just less. I stress about the judgements that will be passed. It’s very humbling to be unable to keep on top of all the housework. Likewise to have a head like a bird’s nest because your body just won’t allow you to shower & do your hair. I cringe at needing help to stand up. Wince every time I have to explain why I’m ordering a taxi to take me round the corner. Each unproductive day is a dent in the ego. It’s hard to feel worthy when writing two paragraphs & heating soup are a whole day’s accomplishments.

Then, some days you’ll wake up and feel relatively good. That should be lovely, but so often it’s tainted. Coloured with more guilt. How dare I enjoy myself when I’m supposed to be sick. Imposter syndrome creeps in. I start to feel if I can manage doing this nice thing I should be able to handle everything else. I feel bad for feeling good and I’m scared. I fear that I’ll be judged on my good days. I’m terrified that everyone else is thinking I should do better. When folk see me having a couple of glasses of wine with a friend do they think I must be fine? If I succeed professionally I’m convinced everyone believes I’m faking it. It’s such a difficult juxtaposition to live with; feeling terrible for all the things one cannot do whilst also believing the things you can will be held against you.

Yellow road sign with text, I’m scared my good days will be used against me

Even writing this is giving me anxiety. Will this be perceived as whiny? Or as me making excuses for myself. It’s not intended to be either. I just want to have honest conversations. Large aspects of the disabled/chronically ill experience are never acknowledged. Too often we’re judged or dismissed without ever having been listened to.

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Now everything’s cool as long as we’re getting thinner…

I had thought that the world being turned upside down might put a dent in diet culture. It seemed that having a real and very serious health issue to contend with would get our collective perspective in order. Turns out that was naive.

If anything, it’s worse. The fat phobia has amplified. It’s coming from new & unexpected directions along with all the regular ones. It’s demoralising to realise how quickly all those supposed body positive allies throw the fatties under the bus. People I respected didn’t take long to start posting the weight gain jokes. Support for my own & other fat activist’s work has begun to feel like a part of a cultivated image. One that cracks under any pressure at all.

When you joke about the horror of gaining weight in public forums it isn’t harmless. Not only does it perpetuate stigma towards fat bodies; you’re also telling fat people what you really think of them. If you like your smaller body I’m delighted for you. Enjoy it. However, if your only response to inhabiting a slightly larger form is mockery or revulsion, you are not a Bopo ally.

This applies even more in the current crisis. During a deadly pandemic that grinds entire countries to a halt there are many things to fear. If top of your list is weight gain you might want to reassess your priorities. I am the after picture in those hilarious memes. Looking like me is not the worst thing that corona virus could do to you.

Barber before & after quarantine meme

When I’m not disappointed by folk I expected better from I am bombarded by the diet industry. The weight loss world has never missed an exploitation opportunity. Diet plans & work out programme ads have multiplied. Disreputable influencers can’t wait to wring some cash of out skinny whatever collaborations. Millionaire celebs holed up in mansions are giving us food plans to guard against stress eating. Meanwhile regular people struggle to cope isolation, lost income & fear of critical illness. The focus on the waist line is gross.

I’ve saved the worst for last. The truly terrifying part; medical discrimination. In the wake of covid 19 fat has been pathologised to an even greater extent. BMI has been incorrectly identified as a risk factor for both contracting the virus & suffering more severe symptoms. Weight has been used as a disqualifying factor when resources are scarce. In other words, fat people have been deemed dispensable. I know we’re not alone. Other marginalised groups (some I also belong to) have been marked cannon fodder too. I am ready to fight for the rights of all those people. It’s startling how many members of those groups do not reciprocate my solidarity.

If you’re thinking the jokes & fears have nothing to do with the medical discrimination, you’re wrong. By partaking in the toxic diet conversation you help create a society that considers fat bodies to be less worthy. We live in a world that permits Drs to ignore research on weight & its implications. We accept inaccuracies & damaging advice because the majority still believe that fat is bad. Fat phobia is profitable and fat people are paying the ultimate price.

Black & white photo of plus sized women in knickers holding her breasts

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Every month, that’s what the theory is…

I know things are tight in the money department at the moment. Earnings are uncertain for lots of us, but if you possibly can, these charities could really do with your help.

The wonderful women behind All Killa No Filla are killing it during this crisis. They’re not only creating hilarious content, but continue to support worthwhile causes. Kiri & Rachel entertained us with bonus & live from lockdown episodes of their epic podcast. In return for the merriment they asked that fans donate to Every Month Manchester. They’re a group tackling period poverty and have been struggling during the corona pandemic. If you can manage, even the price of a box of tampons would be a big help.

Red blood drop with words every month

This month I also made a small contribution to Pink Lip Day for SMA. This is Kelly Fletcher’s annual fundraiser in memory of her beautiful little girl. Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK support those impacted by the condition and fund research. It can be a devastating diagnosis, please help if you can.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot in grey on pink flower backdrop

There’s some light, think you need it…

I knew Mother’s Day was going to be tough this year. Since I always over think every little thing, I did spend some time dwelling on that in the run up to Sunday. Occasionally my inability to switch my thoughts off serves me well, this was just such an instance.

It didn’t change how sad I felt, but I did stumble upon a new strategy. Simply put, I’m going to try my damnedest to have more fun. My life is not really all that easy (who’s is?). There’s a lot of pain, exhaustion, stress & large scale disappointment. None of which I can control. I’ve had to make some huge adjustments in my life expectations this year and that is, well, a process. I can’t change the fundamentals of my situation. I can let go a little bit. I can allow myself to please just me more of the time and I am going to.

Glasgow new beginning

I’m going to date. For fun, god help me. I’m not seeking a soul mate or partner. The aim is merely to find some amusing people I can do enjoyable things with. Hopefully without anyone making too many demands. I’m reviewing all my filed away lists of things I’ve always wanted to do and bloody well jumping on anything that is actually doable. Efforts will be made to ditch the guilt. I’m going to say more no’s to the things I do for the benefits of others that cut me in two. Plus a lot more yes’s to anything & everything that makes me feel good. To hell with the rules or convention. Life is going to fuck me regardless, I might as well squeeze as out as much glee as I can along the way.

With that in mind I began my week with a jaunt to Edinburgh to see my favourite man. Friends who will let you say anything and always leave you feeling better than they found you are magnificent. So, I soaked up too many glasses wine & just enough of his loveliness to give me a major boost. I followed up with the an almost perfect day at the farm. Watching my baby nephew discover the world is a truly beautiful experience. The tiny goats were also worth the trip.

ly h Kerr, Castle st, empty glassesBuchanan st, Pygmy goat, baba & a chicken

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck now. It’s going to take some recovery days to get back to ‘normal’. My ratio of doing to resting isn’t what I’d hope for. I’m giving myself permission to use some of those good days for pure frivolity.

ly h Kerr

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

The first noel…

Now I know a lot of people feel it’s too early to be mentioning the C word. I mostly agree. I don’t want to put up my decorations or see Christmas dinner on the menu in pubs. However, I have a lot of gifts to buy (plus a tonne of December birthdays too), so I have to be organised. I started weeks ago, but I know lots of folk are about to get stuck in. It is for those ‘cannot wait til last minute’ people that I present my early Xmas gift guide.

I’m a bit mixed up when it comes to the festive season. I love some of the old traditions; I still send cards, I do not want pink trees & I’m definitely into a stocking bursting with fillers. On the other hand I have no time for gendered gift guides or waiting to open presents. Be assured if you give me a pressie before the big day, I will absolutely open it immediately.

With all that said here are some pretty picks with which to treat your loved ones. I have tried to cover all budgets whilst hopefully stretching across a range of demographics. I may also have thrown in a few items with a Scottish flavour.

Shall we start with the crimbo must haves? I think so.

I’m a fan of making my whole house smell like a cross between a Dickensian Xmas party & that stable the baby Jesus slept in. Fortunately M&S create those fragrances, package them up pretty & even stick a 3 for 2 deal on them. The sprays make a home smell divine. The pot pourri have equally delicious scents & also make great gifts.

M&S Xmas fragrances

In my opinion you can’t have a proper Xmas without a little booze or a lot of chocolate. My seasonal tipple is the delicious winter Pimms. I mix it with some ginger beer, but many yummy cocktails can be created with it. For chocs this year I’m looking to Fiars for their gorgeous vegan advent calendar & exquisite vegan boxes. I’m also very excited to try Vegan Byrd’s new walnut whips.

Vegan burd walnut whip, friars vegan crocs

Next up are recommendations for a cosy cute Christmas. We all know there’s nothing better than slipping on some jammies & snuggling up to admire the sparkly tree. All of these festive comforts also make lovely presents.

Festive comforts

Stag duvet, Asos Safari Pyjamas, Primark Grinch Boxers, Star slipper boots, M&S Velour Pyjamas.

Plus a little something that will make that tree really special

Bonnie bling still game de s

Bonnie Bling

Christmas is party season & everyone likes a bit of sparkle. Whether that’s to complete a glam look or soak in after one too many nights out, you can’t go wrong with beauty gift.

Lush is always a safe bet for smellies. This year they have some fabulous Xmas special editions. From minty fresh skin conditioners to decadent cognac infused bombs everything looks wonderful.

If you’re looking for something more personal I highly recommend Inara Candles. All hand

poured & using only soy wax they have some unique scents. They also offer a personalisation service, meaning you can add messages, intials etc to the candle label. Such a nice touch.

Inara candles

I’m looking to my old fav BarryM for a touch of shimmer with their amazing Unicorn Beauty Elixir & Liquid Glitter. Both can be used alone or mixed with other products to give anything from fresh glow to dazzling glitter. Then there’s the new kid on the block, Inglot. This is Jlo’s cosmetic range. As expected there’s a lot of highly pigmented products. One of the most Xmas gift appropriate is this vivid red liquid lippie with just enough sparkle.

BarryM & Inglot

Music & books have long been gifts I have enjoyed giving & receiving. It’s nice to have something to unwind with once the craziness of Xmas is over. These beauties are guaranteed to cheer up a dreary January.

Saltire Comic Book, Lily Allen’s No Shame, Challenge Accepted by Celeste Barber, My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen, The Beta Band’s 3 EPs.

I raved about Spunkrock Star before & I am sure I will continue to do so. Her sublime erotic art is perfect for any kink lovers in your life. Her beautiful portraits are also really smashing present.

Spunkrock star

If you want to make someone feel extra special this Christmas time I think Jewellery is the way to go. Rather than focusing on expensive fancy brand names I think you should check out these independent jewellery designers. They’re each creating breathtaking handmade pieces. What’s more your paramour will be donning something much more exclusive than anything you can source from the high street.

Oh Gosh Silver produce simple & timeless pieces.

Oh gosh silver

Chalso offer delicate beaded jewellery and silver work. Clean lines & skilful use of colour combined to make lovely pieces.

Chalso jewellery

Last, but the exact opposite of least is Kracken Jewellery. I have one of their pieces & I cherish it. Kracken have an eclectic range of designs. The incredible Gaudi inspired silver pieces are guaranteed to start conversations. Whilst the brightly coloured laser cut plastic rings will definitely brighten your days.

Kracken jewellery

Trigger bang bang…

Anyone who spends any time on social media will have become familiar with the term triggered. Over the last few years it has entered the public lexicon. Unfortunately, it’s meaning has been incorrectly implanted in the public consciousness.

Triggered is actually a psychological term usually related to PTSD. A trigger is an external stimuli that produces a very uncomfortable emotional response; most often panic attacks or flashbacks. However, varied symptoms can result from the triggering of a traumatic memory. It absolutely does not mean offended or hurt. I’m sure most people will have come across the correct explanation of the term. I have certainly witnessed many try to explain why using the term as an insult or a vehicle for mockery is not ok. Yet, the misuse continues. It occurred to me that perhaps what is needed is an accurate representation of what happens when a person with PTSD is triggered. Maybe if people understood the reality they wouldn’t throw the word around so carelessly. So, I thought I would share what triggered means to me.

Whenever I have been pregnant I have been unable to wear my regular perfume. I wear the same scent everyday in life, but some weird olfactory sensitivity means during pregnancy it makes me nauseous. Thus, I change it & the scent I wore I during my first pregnancy is a major trigger for me. Triggers can be anything & no one has any control over what might become one. I experienced a million sights, sounds & sensations during that time, most of them hold little power over me. That scent, though, is potent.

Snow patrol, blue sky

Formidable enough to render me a sobbing wreck. Being taken off guard by that scent whilst shopping forced me to run shaking from a book shop to vomit in the street. All the while struggling to breath & bring myself to the present. A nurse who had too liberally applied the fragrance sent me shuddering back 15 years. Leaving me so panicked I crawled behind a chair & hid. I stayed crouched on the floor desperately trying to claw my way out of the worst day of my life. Completely trapped in my own personal horror film until some kind soul got me some diazepam & did me the kindness of handing it over without questions. That heady aroma has caused nightmares so vivid that I’ve woken myself with my own screams. Dreams so painfully real that I’ve had to keep myself awake for days. Sitting in the company of someone wearing that perfume once contaminated me. On returning home I could not rid myself of the smell. Real or imaginary it lingered until I smashed my hand with a marble pestle. So tortured was I by the memories the scent brought to life that I ploughed that pestle into my hand until I broke two fingers. The cracking of bones a welcome jolt back to the here now.

Diazepam 10mg

Triggers are uncontrollable. It is not within the power of a traumatised person to select what reactivates their trauma. Nor can they choose not respond. Our minds shelter dark territories & they’re all one way roads. Once you’ve slipped in, you have to press on through. Being triggered isn’t a foolish over reaction. Nor is it the hurt feelings of the overly sensitive. It is the raw & brutal reality of those who have dealt with the unimaginable. It’s a battle scar on the brain.

I can’t stop anyone from misappropriating a word. Ignorance abounds. The only tool I have to fight with is honesty. The truth is that trivialising a serious symptom of illness hurts. It stifles the conversation & prevents people seeking help. It makes vulnerable people feel weak & ashamed & stupid.

So, no, I’m not triggered by your cheap dig. I’m just tired of the stigma. Very, very tired.