RISE

I’ve put off writing about the pandemic and how it is effecting me. People say we are all in the same boat/storm but we are not. All around the World and in pockets of the UK we are all at different levels of fear and anxiety, grief and normality in some areas it’s a bit of an inconvenience and in others they are riding in the eye of a category 5 hurricane. We are all fighting different battles the pandemic has thrown our way, depression, grief, despair, exhaustion, reflection, sorrow, change and missing.

If I had to pick 3 words from the above list they would be: Exhaustion, reflection and missing, all strong emotive words, and believe me there are hundreds more words out there to describe the rollercoaster of emotions this has made us all feel.

I am exhausted! I am working from home, I know how lucky I am to still be working, my children have left home, so I do not have the enormous burden of working and trying to educate children, two full times jobs rolled into one day, a pressure huge enough to break the most tenacious of woman. But I still feel exhausted, emotionally drained, spent with the situation. The days where it is hard to rise when the alarm goes off because I lay and think about my day and I’m exhausted before my feet hit the bedroom floor. The days when I wake with a fire in my belly are fewer than ever before in my life. My menopause symptoms are heightened, my body aches, I cry at the slightest thing, my headaches are deeper, throbbing around my brain and my sleep is more deprived. But I know this will pass, small steps and simple pleasures take my day from dull to hopeful.

Every situation will pass; every second changes an emotion and mislaid happiness returns when you least expect it. I have reflected, I have considered external changes, by cleaning and moving furniture around the house and I am learning now to sit with those feelings, which is so flipping difficult! But when I do I am learning more about myself, I am learning to rise and grow. I have found I can reflect best when my body is still but my hands busy, I crotchet I have a fundamental urge for growth. As women we are so genetically constructed to build and nourish, we do this with children, relationships, home and careers, our hands, bodies and brains are perpetually juggling we are never still. This is a skill I am learning, and probably will be continually learning for the rest of my life, but every day is a school day and every day we have things that teach us a lesson, it’s understanding what those lessons are and learning from them.

So lastly, missing, this word makes my throat tighten and I can feel the knot in my stomach as I write this. I miss. I miss family gatherings, being social, belly laughing, walking home from a great night out, I miss the physical contact. I was never a great hugger but when we are allowed that tactile connection again I am going to squeeze the marrow out of everyone I meet. What I have found myself doing this week is not replying to group chats, slow to text replies, a deep wanting to see people but when the zoom call is organised I sit and think of a million excuses to not click on the join tab. I did click and join a zoom call this week with an incredible bunch of women and two gorgeous babies and I ended up with tears rolling down my cheeks. I missed them physically and seeing them virtually only depend my ache. A beautiful friend dropped a gift to me yesterday, I had to firmly plant my feet on the doorstep as she stood at the gate, my urge to run at her and hug her was primal and the physical longing bought tears.

The sun rises every morning, whether it is behind clouds that lighten the sky with escaped beams of light or it rises above the horizon as a flamboyant showgirl, however it plays out its arrival, it is a new day and that means I am a day closer to hugging the breathe out of you all!

Love

Lou x

Grown-up?

At the age of 52 I should consider myself a grown-up, but I still look over my shoulder when someone says they need to talk to the person in charge, or if I’m walking down the street and parents tell their child to mind the lady I look for her. I just don’t feel grown -up, I have a lot of growing and learning yet to do, I am still learning about myself I really haven’t reached ‘grown’ yet. As human beings we are forever growing and developing, we are chameleons a constantly changing species, how do we know when we have ‘grown’? Do you wake up one morning with an enlightened grown-up glow? Growing is not just about changing on the outside and getting longer legs, bigger boobs, and cellulite it’s about what’s happening on the inside, the personal growth.

From very early on as children we judge our parents to be grown-up, after all they are the ones that tell us not to lick the inside of the freezer door, and when your tongue gets stuck to it after not listening to them you realise why. Parents may appear wise but there’s certainly a lot of room for self growth and discovery on the inside, something we only come to realise as we develop and grow emotionally. The belief that as soon as you are a parent or carer of a child you will be fully functioning on a physical, emotional and mental level that you are now the grown-up and can take charge of any situation that comes your way is quite frankly a load of bollocks. You will be expected to deal with the emotional and mental cataclysms that get hurled at you from the toddler stage through to the hormonal teenager, you learn to rebound them away with your ‘grown-up’ defensive shield like some superhero.

Throughout all of life’s relationships we are continually growing and learning about ourselves, every situation we find ourself in we deal with it on the back of the outcome of the last. The woman who looks like her shit is together on the outside is still dealing and learning on the inside, do not be fooled by her floating grown-up facade she’s swimming like crazy under the surface, like the rest of us, acting all grown-up but scratch the exterior and she’s still discovering herself.

When you look at yourself in the mirror do you see a grown-up? A person of maturity that has immense worldly knowledge has reached their potential, a person who not just appears grown-up on the outside but has an aura of true self-understanding glowing from the inside, because I definitely don’t. When I look at myself I see a woman who still needs a lot of work, who is still eager to learn and grow on the inside. The dictionary definition of grown-up is; fully formed adult, well I can tell you honestly that certainly ain’t me! I still open my mouth at the wrong time, say the most inappropriate things, giggle during serious situations, but for all of those un-grown-up traits, I love learning more about myself and understanding what makes me who I am.

I think ageing disgracefully with an open mind, an element of naivety and being not fully formed is where I want to be. When I see a group of raucous older ladies behaving like they were in their first flush of youth, their un-grown-up attitude spilling over and making everyone want to join their party. That’s where I want to be, at their table drinking in their fun, learning about life, listening to what they are still learning. A beautiful quote by Maya Angelou in Letter to my daughter: “I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside are innocent and shy as magnolias.”

So if grown-up is fully formed then I know a lot of people that still haven’t got there yet, and I’m now questioning whether instead of grown-up we should re-title ourselves in-development? I’m definitely in-development, a work in progress and enjoying the journey to grown-up, that’s if grown-up really is a destination that you ever reach?

Love

Lou x

An 80’s Girl

The 80’s was my youth, my story when today’s generation sit and reminisce about their teenage/early twenties in 30 to 40 years time I hope it is with the same rose tinted glasses and with the same fire in their bellies for a belief in yourself that has now somehow got lost over the years, forgotten in the world we let overtake us.

My generation was the fall out from the 70’s when punk had reigned in the dissident classes, but real men ruled the household purses giving the wife weekly housekeeping. We didn’t have political idols to rise to, Thatcher was an anti feminist whose model of leadership allowed a male dominated parliament to rise above the women and leave them far behind. The women on TV differed so much in age they fell into 2 groups false teeth and tweed, or tits and low cut blouses. Opinions were gained and gathered through talking and listening in groups, debating in pubs about what we should be doing. There was no social media that would allow our generation a voice of diversity, only the national media, institutions so misogynistic that the page 3 girl reigned supreme and a compliment was a wolf whistle and a bum slap from any male that was in close proximity. The 80’s did give us a female role model, Diana, the first international pop concert, Live Aid, unemployment hit 1 million and women protested at Greenham common, a coming together of the sisterhood for collective action.

But we had the music, and icons rose from the post punk era, I distinctly remember watching Boy George on Top of The Pops for the first time and my dad convinced he was a she, because boys didn’t wear make-up! I remember being so excited at the prospect of seeing someone being so flamboyant, beautiful and brave, when you come from a small seaside town this behaviour was beyond expectation. We talked about him for days at school after, the girls loving him and the boys saying how gay he was, but the boys that were silent about him were secretly embracing something that they were denied and needed bravery to be. And when this did happen, the girls swooped in to protect these boys taking them into their inner circle of female while the rest of the boys sat awkwardly on the sidelines.

Disco was dying and the New Romantics flew in with frilly white shirts, leather trousers, military jackets and eyeliner, smoking was cool and snake bite and black was puked up at the end of a night out. But more than the cultural revolution taking place in bedrooms across the land was the growing rise of hope, that as women we were now able to forge careers, we were given shoulder pads to wear to make us look more masculine we were allowed in boardrooms (we knew this because we watched Dallas and Dynasty!) but we were told we could achieve anything, a legacy from Thatcher. Money was for the making and dreams could be achieved.

The glory days didn’t last long and weren’t felt by all but looking back that sense of overpowering hope is something to cling to and cherish. Looking at yourself today what would you give for that sense of hope and the dream you can do anything? It is still there somehwere inside every one of us, that teenage girl, not the girl with fear and hate for herself, but the one with hope, she’s still in there wishing that soon she can escape and wreak havoc again. I don’t know about you, but I’m always happy when I get an eye role for my unorthodox words or behaviour that slip out from time to time, that is when I hear her again, that girl with her frilly shirt, too much eyeliner with her middle finger stuck up.

Love

Lou x

Blame it on Me

Blaming someone else. How many times have you done this? How many times have you considered the consequences? How can we change our approach to blame? So many questions to open this post! But I have been thinking about personal blame and have been considering my actions and reactions to it and I am holding my hand up high in the air, I am as guilty of this over my lifetime as I am sure some of you will be.

The very thought of taking ownership of my blame when I was younger was an alien concept that never entered my head, the ease of blaming someone else for your failures, whether it was family, health, friendship or relationship was exactly what happened in my world, it was just what I did, what I thought was the easiest option and what would make me look so much better than the person I had blamed. But, I now feel grown-up enough at the age of 52 to own my blame and be responsible for my failures for wearing my vulnerability in a way that I never considered in my past. When I talk about blame I’m not talking about the insignificant blame, the white lie blame, like when you are late for an appointment and blame the traffic when in reality it was because you got out of bed 15 minutes after the alarm, I want to talk about and consider the blame that makes us vulnerable when we don’t take ownership of an event or failing in our lives and instead of sitting and reflecting on our actions our mouths open and we blame someone or something else other than ourselves, we take the road most travelled, the easiest route, we disown the blame.

In our work or personal lives when someone hasn’t done what you have asked them to do, should we blame them for not doing it? Or start to look at why they haven’t completed the task you have asked of them, is it a personal attack on you? Are they purposefully withdrawing their help from you? Or have you not allowed them to fully understand the significance of them not completing the task you asked, are you controlling a situation because you feel you are the only one who can complete this job (control freak…again my hand is up!) how this effects not just you but others around you and potentially how it will affect themselves. If you haven’t been open and vulnerable then you need to look at blaming yourself, take ownership and take back the blame. If you are unhappy at work the ease in which it becomes second nature to blame management for failing you, when they actually might have, ultimately you should look at yourself, you allowed the failings to evolve and manifest into negativity, stepping back and looking at the times you allowed people to fail you, exposes your vulnerability and sometimes makes for an uncomfortable untangling of your thought processes but becomes a necessary step to sorting the tangled mess in your head and allowing you to move forward and not stand still and fester in the negativity.

The situations we find ourselves in, carrying an emotional load around it’s easy to blame others for their failings of not helping you, not engaging with you in the situation, but have you asked them for help truly asked them? And been honest in your explanation, if you feel you are drowning in a situation then you need to make sure you ask the right people for help, don’t blame the people who don’t understand your burden, consider your choice of ally make sure it’s not an enemy, think about those fleet of women around you, your friend-ships, these are the ones who will help you if your truths become too much for you.

My blame at the moment is the weight I have put on in lockdown, I blamed lockdown for the many extra pounds I have piled on when in actual fact it was me putting the chocolate digestives in my mouth, it’s me that has become idle in any area of fitness, not a global pandemic stripping away lives and livelihoods around the world, it is me, I am to blame. But it is also me that likes my curves, is enjoying saying sod it and eating the cake, that was called ‘curvy’ for the first time in her life by a friend and couldn’t stop smiling (yes I took this as a compliment and I know this goes against most women’s thoughts on weight and I will explain my reasons for this one day soon). By becoming more sedentary and not rushing around like I need to hold the world up, it is me that has re-found her creativity that makes me sit still and reflect, from this potential negative blame I have pulled out the positivity and looked into what makes my heart happy, I have taken ownership of blame. By really starting to unravel parts of you and begin to love yourself for the amazing wonderful human you are that road is less travelled but far more satisfying.

P.S. But if someone really is a complete and utter twat after you have shown your vulnerability and still will not help you with your emotional or work load then you can squarely sit the blame at their feet and hope they trip over it!

Lou x

The Weight We Carry

When I talk about weight I don’t mean the extra pounds we carry around on our bodies, the pounds we should accept as part of the woman we are, that have been added to our bodies by food choices, hormones or disease, and if we are unaccepting of them and they are causing health issues then it may be time to think about what is best for you and your body. I am talking about the mental weight we carry around, the guilt we hold in our hearts and in our heads.

If you chose the path of motherhood you can bathe daily in the guilt that feels like it is drowning you, being a working mother, not spending enough time with your child, not being a working mother, are you setting the right example? Saying No when the other parent says Yes, losing your temper when you feel you are losing your mind, watching other parents seamlessly glide through the seismic maze of parenthood with happy smiling children, while you’ve shouted at yours made them and yourself cry and all this usually before getting to the school gate, in fact Dante should have added an extra circle in the 9 circles of Hell for Parental guilt! But the weight I want to bring to your table is the weight we burden ourselves with as women when we become selfish.

The phases of womanhood allow us at certain times in our life to be selfish, these are the times when we have no responsibility, we have freedom maybe for the first time, leaving home, in these glorious years the core of being is self and so it rightly should be because as we know with age and some wisdom that changes so quickly. These years will be looked back on with fond memories especially when you are sitting in your own home, mortgage, bills, and seemingly everyone after a piece of you that you have no time for you, the days when going to the toilet alone feels like a mini break without packing a suitcase!

Once the phase of tearing yourself into so many pieces begins to pass and you have the time to start putting yourself back together again and learning that saying No is not a selfish word but it is a word of self preservation, you have the time to work on yourself and build the next phase of womanhood. The weight of guilt when you think about yourself and not others is heavy, it can trip you up and sit on your shoulder and whisper to you ‘how dare you take time for yourself’. I so admire the selfish woman, the one who has learned to say No and makes time for herself, the one with no weight on her shoulders and has balance of self.

Lately I have had the weight of time pushing down on me and it has kept me from writing which really does make my heart happy, and when the days and weeks are like that and my creative brain will not let me put my words together and I am torn between feeling guilty for not giving parts of myself to others but knowing that I deserve my time that’s when I feel weighed down. So this week I made a conscious decision to say No more often, share the load of responsibility with those around me and manage my self time as I would my work diary…and it felt good! I wrote (obviously!) swam in the river, picnicked on the beach, watched old ER’s and picked up my crotchet project, all whilst working full time, only made possible by saying No and delegating tasks, my week was full but I felt I owned the time.

So schedule your self time and get rid of the weight of guilt because one day all the things we want to do we won’t have time left to do.

Lou x

Daring to be Dangerous

I watched a TED talk a few weeks ago by the formidable Pat Mitchell (I am slightly addicted to TED talks and re-runs of ER) on why she was becoming a dangerous woman at the age of 77 and by dangerous it’s not about risk of personal harm but becoming more fearless about speaking truths and standing up for injustices. Her talk looked at global issues but I began to think how I could become more dangerous within my world and the lesson we could all take from finding the dormant dangerous woman inside all of us.

How many times have you kept quiet because you: a)feared losing your job. b)you felt pressured to keep quiet. c)you began normalising an uncomfortable situation? I know I have felt all of these through my life, the times it is easier to say nothing or turn the other cheek or feel relief the injustice or bullying is not happening to you, the times in life when inner strength lets us down, probably because life was exhausting most days and battles need to be considered and energy levels preserved. But now I have HRT and have bloomed into an age where my fuck-it bucket is overflowing, I am no longer permanently physically and mentally exhausted and I am ready to become dangerous.

I have begun to put my dangerous strategy into practice this week to see if it worked, I was going into a meeting that had the potential to become bullying, I went in with my bucket of fuck-its full and my dangerous woman pants on and I am happy to report back that it worked, it was a small win but the feeling of not allowing patriarchal browbeaters to get the chance to hound you down was liberating. All the small and seemingly insignificant wins will snowball together and the dangerous woman within will grow and gather momentum so when the time comes and you are faced with some absolute huge injustice you will have energy and strength to face that dangerous situation as a dangerous woman.

Let’s not get started on why we need to become more dangerous as women, as we reach the menopause or are actively right in the middle of it, the expectation of us changes, the shift is away from thinking about building careers and striving for higher goals, traditionally we are expected to start to flow into an age where we are at the end of our working life, we should adopt a softer tone of voice and become mild and forgiving. We should not let that happen there are still questions to be asked and challenges to be fought, speaking truths our voices need to be raised. When you are with a group of like minded women you have a tribe, you can start to make bigger change, I am fortunate to be part of a tribe and was reminded of the change we have made just this week by one of the amazing woman who is in our group. There was an expectation that was put on us at the beginning to fail by a group of misogynists disguised as pillars of the community, we were told to our faces we would fail because we were women and were not as accomplished as them, they slightly overlooked the fact the group is made up of a strong diverse tribe of women with voices, they said they would be there to watch us when it all went wrong … guess what? We are still going and winning and the misogynists have left the building!

A gathering of lionesses is called a coalition a worthy name for a group of like minded women who won’t be silenced and want to fill their buckets full of fucks and gain momentum and fight even for the smallest of injustices, the personal, national and global, no battle can be too small when you have gathered your tribe. It is time to start to roar to be heard and become a dangerous woman.

Lou x

Where Did My Confidence Go? This and Other FAQs…..

I was a teenager in the early ’80’s under a Thatcher government when money was for making the boys wore more makeup than the girls the country was in the grip of huge social and economic change and with the headiness of youth and Duran Duran playing on the radio those were the days when we believed anything was possible. Confidence oozed out of every pore, it seemed the patriarchal nay sayers were put back in their cupboard and women ruled, how wrong was that! With power suit dressing and shoulder pads like ski slopes woman became the new alpha male. The more we were told ‘no’ the more we pushed we interpreted life as we wanted to live it. The 3 C’s of my youth: Change – was exciting, Confusion – something to explore and Confidence was had by the bucket load. Now in my early 50’s I am in perpetual confusion, my confidence has been lost along the way and my life pivots on permanent change.

Impostor syndrome becomes our nemesis as we gather years, we question our ability to perform at the level we once did, inadequacies and incompetence’s feel overwhelming we fear not living up to expectation the loss of confidence and the fear of not coping with change but remember you have earned your place you don’t have anything to prove to anyone. We need to lose the cynical eye that we view ourselves with and be patient and understanding of ourselves.

As we age the stereotypical images of ageing women come into play advertisers dismiss us unless it’s for an advert for a retirement village or a SAGA holiday! Our ability to perform tasks are questioned, getting a CV together can read like a shopping list of the jobs and skills we have accumulated over the years, we are either over qualified or our qualifications are out of date which is tantamount to saying we are too old, but look at the life skills, experiences we have gained, juggling work and family all to be pushed aside for someone younger and less experienced when there is still the fire of ambition within us and the need to be seen and our voices heard.

It is time that the tide turned, our generation is awakening into a new dawn, we are the ones living longer, we still have so much to give, it is time those middle aged men who sit in the boardrooms and in government realised what a powerful force we are it is time to break out of the box they want to put us in and shove that box right up their arses whilst imagining we are one of the girls from the Human League or the model on Durn Duran’s Rio video, so listen to the music, dust off those frilly shirts and get heady on the smells that remind you of the times when you felt like you ruled the world and remind yourself you do actually rule your world.

Lou x

Friend.Ship

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Friendships can come and go over the years, through different times in your life new friendships can flourish and others float away, some just simply run their course others can be a drain on your soul and be completely one-sided. Friendships will carry you through times of major crisis when life takes a dramatic change off-course when the storm is too big to weather alone, they will laugh with you and at you, know and understand your weaknesses, bad habits, tell you about them and still love you, these are the most nurturing and valuable friendships these people will keep you afloat when you feel like drowning.

When I talk about friends I mean the real ones not the ones you meet on social media that like the odd photo you share, or the school friend you have re-connected with through Facebook but can’t really remember having a relationship with them before, but you’ve re-connected for sentimental reasons. I mean the small group of true friends that you can rely on when things become unbearable, you can cry and be as vulnerable as you need to be in that moment with them they will never judge you, the ones that will truly delight and raise you up when you have succeeded when everything is against you, they are steadfast those friends are the purest and most precious ones, they will risk everything to make sure you are safe, that no harm will come to you when you are at your lowest, they are always on call at the end of the phone day or night. What we don’t need in our lives is the negative , the draining, all consuming friendships, the fair-weather friends, these are the lilo’s of this world, they look fun but are plastic and not sea worthy enough to come and rescue us when we need them most, they will blow away over the horizon at the first sign of bad weather never to be seen again.

One of the largest changing demographics in the world is older women, we are living longer and more fulfilled lives than ever before according to a recent survey [] there are many thoughts and researches on how and why this is happening, one thought is a solid sisterhood where you can share, counsel and belly laugh it is a powerful force and advantageous for good mental health. Laughter produces hormones that help boost the immune system and release endorphins that give you the feel good factor, according to researchers having very few or negative friendships is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and will decrease your lifespan. If laughter can give you more years I think I have gained decades from my sisterhood, from the antics of a Prosecco filled evening to a shopping trip where at least one of us has crossed her legs from laughing too much, those days are the cherished days.

A good fleet of friends consists of a diverse group, you have the cargo tanker friends, these are steady and carry the load in all weathers for you until you reach a safe place, the cruise ship friends will sail away with you and have fun allow you to forget yourself for a while, the battle ship girls will fight and protect you, they are the ones that would hide the body for you, and of course everyone needs lifeboat friends they will always save you and be on call 24/7, rescue and care for you. My fleet may be small in number but I know as I go through life’s journey they will sail with me through any storm, pick me up, dress me down, and make me laugh till I spring a leak! At a certain time in your life you can set those plastic lilo friends loose and keep hold of those friends that will anchor you and hold you safe.

Friendship is a two way street, there are people out there who actually think they are a good friend to you when all they do is take, they have their own agenda, they drain the marrow from your bones, they put you down and you dread when they contact you, these are life’s Shit Barges (the town I live in used to have one of these when I was a girl that floated down the river carrying the effluent from the sewage works and dumping it out to sea). Theses friends make you feel shitty about yourself they stink of selfishness and you need to set these people free and let them dump somewhere else.

I never take friends for granted, I try to be the person I would want by my side, but at times I am a lazy friend, I love my own company but when the shit hits the fan or there’s a long awaited catch up to be had I’m right there and loving every minute of the company I am with being positive and in the moment. There is a saying ‘You can tell a lot about a woman by the company she keeps,’ and the company I keep is a beautiful empowering fleet of women that enable my creativity, raise me up and make me believe in myself and I feel blessed to have them in my life, if you feel otherwise about your sisterhood it’s time to re-evaluate and set those bad ships free!

Lou x

The F Word

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Throughout life this is one of the most misused words I hear from women. This four letter adjective we use to describe how we are feeling, it could be we are in the depths of despair, heartbreak, just made the biggest mistake at work or enduring emotional turmoil, but the best way we convey how we feel is the word FINE. It’s a decoy word so we don’t have to explain the shittiness of our lives when we cannot put into words the enormity of our feelings. The dictionary definition of FINE is ‘satisfactory’, it is the most inadequate, deflective and quite frankly the weakest word we can use to describe our emotions and fears as only satisfactory!

Growing up in the 1970’s in a household where expression of feelings was not actively encouraged, mental health swept under the carpet and love demonstrated by the times spent and memories made I learned early on the best answer to give when anyone asked how I was feeling was the word FINE, it became a conditioned response. The word carried me through my teens and early twenties through the raging hormones of youth, the death of school friends taken too soon, the broken heart from a boy at the local disco to the awards gained early on in my career, all grouped together by the F word when anyone asked how I felt. Maybe you don’t want to tell the shop assistant how you really feel when they ask ‘how are you today?’ but it’s about time we start to use different words to describe how we feel, happy, sad, low, excited, scared, good, even not bad has to be better than fine… the list is infinite, and much more honest.

The generational statistics for mental health in the 55+ age group are half of adults have experienced mental health issues, 1 in 4 people said they felt it was more difficult to discuss mental health issues anxiety and depression as they believed they were seen as weakness [ ] . We need to talk and support each other, to be honest and more open about how we feel, by breaking the habit of a deflective reply we can work towards more compassion and understanding for each other, this in turn will help as we age and promote mental well being.

It is time to stop the facade we put on, that type of self preservation only lasts as long as you can keep it up for, the cracks will soon show and you will get tired of carrying the weight around. Freedom of age has taught me to be more honest and vulnerable, expression of feelings are important, for people to truly understand that you actually are not fine (satisfactory, remember!) it is liberating. I have made a conscious decision to not be fine any more, the importance of honest emotion and feelings should be celebrated not swept away with the F word.

Life doesn’t have to be an open book, we don’t have to spew out every emotion every time someone asks how we are, just learn to be more honest with yourself and stop using the F word. So to quote Helen Mirren, ‘if I could give my younger self one piece of advice it would be to use the words Fuck Off much more frequently.’ I can’t see Ms Mirren using the word FINE somehow when asked how she is feeling, so if someone asks you how you are you can always use the much more interesting F word and wait for their response….?

Lou x

The Mirror

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Is this mirror lying to me? A question I ask myself every morning as I get ready for the day, I look at my reflection and wonder who the hell is that woman looking back at me? Are my eyes really that baggy? Do I honestly have crows feet that large? Why is my skin falling south? Just to prove the mirror wrong I then get out my 20 x magnifying mirror and it confirms my fears that I look 20 times more haggard than I first thought! How many times have you started your day like this? With your positivity running out the door when realisation arrives because you can’t find the face or the body of the girl you hope will be looking back at you.

I now absolutely love skin care, but I never realised the real benefits until my early forties, before then it was soap and water and a flick over with a flannel (I know this face should be a whole lot worse but thankfully there are some reasonable skin genes somewhere in the family). There’s the science side to why we age as we do, from around the age of 25 our skin starts to produce less collagen and elastin in our dermis layer and over time lines and wrinkles start to form around the areas where we use the muscles more, notably the eyes and mouth, our skin tends to dehydrate more quickly (probably not helped because at a certain age we don’t want to drink too much water due to bladder issues!) We have less oestrogen so hairs sprout from the chin, we have usually incurred damage from the sun causing skin pigmentation and so the list of ageing facial ordeals goes on…!

Then there’s your hair, white hairs start to appear usually around the temples and hairline, hair is not grey there is no natural grey colour in hair, it is white, the follicle loses its natural melanin, it only looks grey as it grows next to a coloured hair. But those white hairs are wiry and unruly when they first grow that’s because the cuticle scales that protect the inner part of the hair become thickened so any colours you put on your hair don’t take as well because the white hairs are resistant, and pulling them out is a definite no, there’s no melanin so when the hair grows back out the follicle again it will still be white.

Our bodies change shape during peri, menopause and post menopause, with the falling levels of oestrogen the hormone in-balance within us our abdomen becomes thickened, it doesn’t help that during the peri and menopause stages we crave white sugary foods, and the thought of getting your body out to exercise is a daunting prospect.

With all that going on it’s no wonder we can feel less positively about ourselves and that’s before the mood swings from the hormone deficits and fluctuations kick in making us feel isolated, insecure about ourselves and our once outgoing personalities seem lost.

More than anything else when you look at that woman in the mirror you are looking at someone who has lived, is surviving and actually thriving. The odds of us being born are 1: 400, 000, 000, 000 that’s one in four hundred trillion, we truly are miracles. So we got here, we are on this planet, we have built a life, we can select the people we want in our life, and we hopefully have the freedom to choose how we deal with what happens to us. We can opt to eat more healthily to nurture our bodies, to go for that walk, swim, cycle, run or do a yoga class; use our hands to learn new skills when we feel we could not possibly learn anything new.

Yes the alcohol, unhealthy foods, work, stress, family, and most days paddling like crazy to keep your head above water all play their part in how that person in the mirror looks, but we have defied the odds to be born. So the mirror doesn’t lie but that gorgeous person reflected back at you in the mirror may not be the girl you once were with the skin and body you think you should still have, with your body parts all in the right places (youth is definitely wasted on the young!) but it’s you, the woman you are in your superb glory the one who has lived and still has plenty yet to give and learn.

Failing all of that Spanx, fillers and botox are always a plan B!

***Edited***

After chatting to a friend last night about the post, we talked about the loss of a friend of ours who was taken too young a few years ago t cancer, so remember we are the lucky ones we get to see the wrinkles and appreciate the memories our bodies give us.

Lou x