When Women Get Together Ego Is Left At The Door

What do you call a group of strong, amazing and determined women? I’m not exactly sure there is a collective noun suitable for the force of Mother Nature that this group of extra-ordinary can be defined. But the true show of women’s strength comes not from women coming together to make something happen, it’s when they come together to right a wrong, to lift the veil of injustice and to carry one another through the fire, this is when women rise when their strength and instinct have no boundaries.

Women are finding their voice, the younger generation, our daughters are more eloquent and ready to call out injustices just look at the testimonies from http://www.eveyonesinvited.com a website exposing rape culture in schools, colleges and universities, it was started with one woman, Soma Sara. She intends to eradicate rape culture, to change the normalising of sexual violence, abuse, rape jokes, sexual harassment, misogyny and sexual coercion. Soma not only suffered at the hands of rape culture, she talked to her friends, shared her experiences on social media until overwhelmingly there were over 54,000 testimonies from women and men who have now been given a space to share their truths. This is a woman who got angry, who became pro-active and would not keep quiet at injustice.

A few weeks ago I sat and watched the unfolding of a fantastic group of women the cause of which was dilution of leadership when men with ego’s and naivety came to the table, I say naivety because they did not realise the ripples they made impacted so greatly on the women, and women talk I honestly do not understand why men are so ignorant to this when the patriarchy in ancient times registered this fact and passed this information down through the generations. At the time this made me really sad and fearful of how a strong group with a common aim could possibly move forward but I need not have worried by the very next day my phone was ringing, messages were being sent, coffees drunk and solutions were being bought to the table but more than anything else, everyone listened to everyone’s point of view, there was no ego, no agenda, the capacity of these women came into their own to re-build, re-form and bring something from the ashes to move forward and to make it shine again. The imbalance from one very small and almost insignificant catalyst bought women together to bring calm from the chaos and build a better more efficient objective. If one group of women can achieve this maybe the lesson we should take is to always leave ego at the door? We all need a piece of ego, something to drive us forward but ego needs to be regulated, to not make us the victim, to not allow it to affect our decision making, to not seek attention and look for other’s imperfections, to not live in the past and the future but to bring yourself into the present.

When women are together fighting a cause and fighting for each other there is balance, big egos are left at the door, the need to heal and mend is in place, the strength to fight injustices prevails and equilibrium is once again restored. Next time you’re sat in a meeting, look around at the men and women at the table, look for the ego it’ll be quite easy to spot! Pick peace over drama and if you fall there will be a tribe of women who will help you rise.

The Price of Woman

What is the cost of a woman? How can you add up all the lost hours, days, nights, weeks and years of emotional guilt, grief, pain and putting yourself at the bottom of the list?

Let’s start with the monetary value of woman, did you know one in ten teenage girls have been unable to afford sanitary products in the UK? Every period costs the average UK woman £11 in sanitary wear, that’s excluding going down the eco route of period pants, moon cups and reusable pads, which have a far higher outlay but in the long run work out more financially viable and obviously planet friendly, in peri menopause periods are likely to become more frequent, so costs can escalate. Scotland made history in November 2020 announcing that it would make period products free to anyone who needs them and New Zealand announced earlier this year that free menstrual products will be available in all schools, not one to jump to conclusions here but both Scotland and New Zealand have female leaders. Coincidence? I think not.

Women taking the combined contraceptive pill on average 10 out of 10,000 will develop a blood clot, and while we’re talking about contraceptives why is the woman usually in charge of contraception when a woman can only get pregnant every 9 months and a man can impregnate a woman every day for that 9 months causing 270 births? Can you see this is all a little off balance? There was a chart doing the social media rounds that a man could impregnate a woman 9 times every day in the 9 months of pregnancy, bringing about potentially 2,430 pregnancies but being realistic, 9 times a day….really?

While I’m sat here getting myself wild about all of this let’s chuck something else into the mix, menopause! Not every woman will give birth but every woman will experience menopause to some degree, menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, a 2019 survey by BUPA found that 900,000 women left their jobs over an undefined period of time due to menopausal symptoms, women are leaving their jobs when they are the peak of their careers, making the workforce less diverse and male heavy and women are missing out on promotions and the top jobs that they’ve worked so long and hard for. Dr Louise Newson (The Menopause Doctor) surveyed 5,000 peri and menopausal women showing that 12% of women had to wait 5+ years to be given hormone treatment and to be diagnosed with menopause symptoms, 27% had seen more than 3 doctors in this time and only 1 in 10 women take HRT due to an outdated and unrealistic study still used by GP’s. Thanks to Carolyn Harris MP menopause education for medical professionals is being rolled out, and there will be a one off payment for HRT in the UK, although if you are lucky enough to live in, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales HRT is free on prescription.

Bodies, beautiful imperfectly perfect bodies, the media says only a certain body type is acceptable. The average woman is a size 16, so why don’t we see more curves, cellulite and real body type mannequins in stores? When we go shopping why is a size 16 classed as large, when in fact it is the norm and should be a medium? There is 1 death every 52 minutes worldwide from an eating disorder, that’s male and female, we know all too well that images of so called plus sized women (size 16??) are more likely to be reported on social media and their images removed for being scantily clad than those of a size 6, why is this still happening in 2021?

British women spend £10 billion annually on cosmetics and hair products and the market is growing, even our razors are around 11% more expensive than a man’s razor! Anti-wrinkle, anti-ageing, plumping, firming, glow skin, youth enhancing, age defying, regenerating ….the list goes on and on and the spending adds up. Marketing companies hit our weak spot when we’re over forty, we feel tired and ageing, our eyes droop, our skin sags. But do you know what the over forties have that youth does not? Life, we have so much life and experiences our faces and every damn wrinkle, sag and eye bag have their unique story, they are our beautiful flaws that we should embrace (maybe add a little cream here and there). Next time you see an advert for an age defying cream consider the dictionary term for defy; resist or refuse to obey. Please don’t refuse to age, it’s gift not given to everyone.

The hours we spend working all day, to come home in the evening to cook, clean the house, shower, carry the guilt we’re not doing enough, pushing ourselves to exceed expectations, then start all over again the next day can be excessive and exhausting, our bodies pay a high price, our menstrual products are costly, media expectations are high and are emotionally damaging when we don’t look the way they say we should, so yes we are expensive. We pay a high price not just from the money we spend but physically and emotionally to try and be what is expected of us. But it’s time to stop, ease up, stick the middle finger up to anyone who says you’re not enough, and it’s time to be the most beautiful and wonderful woman you are, a priceless commodity, the imperfectly perfect you.

Lou x

Are we still 9to5?

Over the last few nights we have had a mini Queen Dolly fest, we immersed ourselves in films starring Dolly Parton, starting with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and ending with 9 to 5. Of course there’s the sublime Steel Magnolias which is one of my all time favourites and makes me cry every time I watch it, but the over riding theme in the Queen Dolly films we watched is they are all about strong women dressed up to outwardly look like women with no ambition, who have only got their job on looks alone and definitely have no capacity for forward, individual thinking…..oh how wrong you would be to assume that!

Start to scratch the surface of the film 9 to 5 and look beyond the concept of the working female hired purely on looks and size of her bust and you will see a film based on a real life movement to empower women in the workplace in the 1970’s in Boston USA . The woman who started the 9to5 movement was Karen Nussbaum a typist in an office who was poorly paid and given no opportunity for career progression and witnessed sexual harassment and gender discrimination whilst at her desk. The female workforce in the USA in 1980 was 51%, but women were not breaking through the glass ceiling, in fact they were getting fired on the spot for getting pregnant, not making the boss’s coffee how he liked it, not picking up his dry cleaning and for refusing to have sex with him, in fact 1 in 2 women were sexually harassed in clerical jobs in the 1970’s. Construction workers who were a male dominated industry had a union, clerical staff and secretaries, the female dominant jobs did not. That changed with the 9to5 movement that swept across the States during the 1970’s and 80’s, clerical staff were given a voice, they had a national walk out, they learned to speak out about the sexual harassment and rape that occurred in workplaces they realised their personal stories were shared by thousands of other women.

So what has changed, have we equalised with our male counterparts in the workplace? We are still reading stories about sexual harassment in the workplace, on our podcast Womenkind Collectivehttps://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/womenkind-collective/id1557937820https we were approached by a woman who wanted her story of sexual harassment and abuse to be heard. Sam works in a male dominant industry, she was an engineer, all other female positions in the company were clerical, she was sent sexually harassing texts by her manager, when she turned his advances down, he made her life unbearable and HR did nothing to resolve the situation. In a study by the TUC with 4,000 women, 85% said the menopause affected their working life, some were sacked from their jobs. Carolyn Harris MP this week secured a victory for menopausal women in the UK, she lobbied Parliament for a Menopause Bill to be passed, not only to reduce prescriptions charges for HRT but a new cross party Menopause Taskforce has now been set up that will look at educating medical professionals about menopause and also change workplace policies for women going through the menopause.

Are we winning the right for equality and fairness in the workplace? I believe we are, the old style workplace sexism is being overtaken by employers that acknowledge and appreciate their workers. As women we now readily question situations we feel uneasy about, we share, we talk, we call out even if when we are unsure about what to do, we are giving women space, more and more we make sure we have each others back. Women are breaking free from conventional working practices, in 2020 33% of new businesses were started by female entrepreneurs, women adapted during the pandemic, they realised dreams and made them a reality, they left jobs where they weren’t appreciated, re-trained, or found employers that valued them. Etsy boomed with a rise of over 1 million sellers during 2020 with 81% of those sellers identified as women. Flex Appeal the campaign by Mother Pukka to encourage workers and employers of the benefits of flexible working producing a more productive workforce, an appeal that is hugely beneficial to working parents is gaining momentum and has been heard in Parliament with the second Bill being read on November 19th 2021.

Change is coming, we have moved forward from those dark days 40 years ago, we are now calling out poor employers, we are getting heard and being given space for our stories. Will the old style inadequate employers struggle with the new kindness in employment? If they don’t act positively they’ll be sunk on a ship full of harassment, bullying and lies and be left with a substandard workforce. As Queen Dolly sings in 9 to 5, ‘You got dreams he’ll never take away,’ remember cream always rises.

Lou x

Let your Clothes Fit Your Body

I’m going to add a disclaimer to this before I start typing…..this is most definitely not a blog about dieting or exercise. It is about acceptance and self love and why retailers need to get their sizes standardised and not suggest we ‘size up’!

Clothes should make you feel comfortable, sexy, warm, cool, not the opposite, so why do we hold on to clothes that no longer fit us? Why as women do we have that yearning to be able to fit into the jeans we’ve had for the last 10 years? Why do we hold on to the dress that stretches at the seams when we wear it? I’ll tell you why, it’s because we have an ideal in our heads, a size that we must be to be sexy, to appear younger, to have our tits in the right place, to have a pert derriere not two wobbly cheeks that can’t be tamed in a large pair of knickers, this is an image that we are fed from the patriarchal gods of fashion on social media and from the pages of glossy magazines.

Not only do these patriarchal gods of fashion tell us the shape we should be to fit into these clothes but some tell us we should ‘size up’ even when we are moving upwards on the sizing scale, aka Mr Johnny Boden of the Boden clothing empire, he actually tells you to size up when you buy one of his fabulous and stylish swimsuits as I found out, oh Johnny you know how to make a woman feel good about herself especially when she’s just about to press on the size up from the one she normally has, you kindly suggest another step up on the size scale! Suggesting sizing up in swimwear is not just a step too far for women’s emotional and mental wellbeing it’s the same as asking a man to size down when buying a box of condoms.

Menopause and lockdown have given me the curves I never had but always longed for when I was younger, Marilyn Monroe for me was the perfect shape, curvaceous and sexy and a wholly womanly goddess, but when I was young I had a thigh gap, flat chest and pointy elbows which I absolutely detested. So now unlike so many woman I am embracing and loving my curves they make me feel like a woman, I like the wobble, I enjoy the movement my body now has when I walk. But the downside of my new loved curves is my clothes, very few fitted! So instead of holding on to them until I could ‘fit into them again’ I went shopping and I sized up to where I was comfortable and could once again move freely without a seam splitting. Of course when I was trying on clothes in Zara and H & M I had to size up up (it’s a given in these stores and a conversation my friends and I always have about their sizing) maybe they could get together with Johnny and decide to add a bit more material to their clothes and standardise their sizing?

As women we should never criticise ourselves for growing out of clothes, (and we should never listen to the afore mentioned retailers!) as long as we are healthy and happy, we must learn to love our new body shape as we age with all the glorious curves and wobbles our gorgeous bodies give us and love them for the true miracles they are. Let your clothes fit your body, don’t wait for your body to fit your clothes.

Lou x

Queendom

When do we reach the age of Queendom? The age of the Queen is in my opinion reached once we give no fucks and start collecting inane objects and swap our dressing to impress clothes for comfort and support wear that will see us through our Queen years. Caitlin Moran writes about the ‘Hags’ in her book ‘More Than a Women’ and I would have to disagree with the term hag, which conjures up witchiness, although the witches were the wise women in their villages, I think we should honour our ageing, the changing of our bodies and minds as we evolve into the hierarchy of Queendom.

You don’t wake up one morning with a crown and know you’ve arrived at Queendom, it’s a slow burn of realisations, of changes and lets be honest many of those changes we don’t always want to celebrate, brain fog, loss of libido, the pain in our joints, but there is also so much to celebrate. The lack of fear for things that would have turned you to drink years before, for me it was learning to swim, the fear of water was so great that I blankly refused to even step into the water for many years, but then I realised the ridiculousness of my fear, after all humans do swim so I threw my fucks to the wind and got myself swimming lessons. I tend to over rationalise my fears with a question…what is the very worst thing that could happen to me? And my go to answer to this question is death, which according to a counsellor I once saw was too extreme an answer and wasn’t rational, but I’m an all or nothing kind of woman my brain seems to thrive on extremes when faced with fear, my fight or flight mode runs head on into trouble. I now love the water, even though my swimming is still pretty weak, my over riding fear has gone, I still call out to my husband when we’re in the sea and he swims off, ‘can you stand up there?’ he thinks it’s hilarious to sink down and all I see is his hand.

Sitting and reflecting on this, the knocks life throws at you are usually bigger than the fear itself. By the age of Queendom we have usually lost people who are close to us, battled teenagers who hate us, watched our friends fall and helped raise them back up, gone through emotional and physical pain that would have the patriarchy running for the hills. We have learned strength, not the going to the gym kind of strength but the inner core strength that lights the path of giving no fucks because you have walked the road of burning hell and have survived. Once you have reached this stage you wear the crown you are a Queen.

I love the name one of our Womenkind Collective (podcast) gave his age of becoming and knowing, a Queenager. I wouldn’t want to return to the angst of my teenage years, the years of loathing yourself, anxiety ridden, fear of not fitting in but wanting to stand out, having to wear the right clothes, smoke to appear cool and never have that inner calm. Calm and the ability to be still and sit with yourself is one of the most amazing gifts we can give ourselves, to soothe the soul with just being is a gift, a gift I wish I had learned in my youth.

For all the women that reach the age of Queendom and become a Queenager I hope you find your calm and wear the most comfortable clothes, kick off those killer heels and get those flats on, be your own creation and embrace the next chapter in your life and become the best Queenager you can be.

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