Weird Compliments

I have been complimented on two parts of my body that I’ve never thought of as compliment-able. I’m feeling quite smug. They are my eyebrows and my cervix.

Yep, I’m surprised too.

1. I have excellent eyebrows, just like Cara Delevigne apparently. I’m “so lucky” because others pay a fortune for high definition brow work.

Until recently I never knew that brows where something people even noticed, unless left to form a Gallagher-esque mono-brow.

Mine have only ever been a disappointment to me that I can’t move them independently and give people that one raised eyebrow what-the-fuck?-face. How I covet that skill.

2. My second unexpected body brilliance is my ‘obedient cervix’. I have been told this twice so I know it’s a fact.

At a smear test I was told that most cervixes hide away and make it difficult to perform the test. But mine is ‘well behaved’ and pops straight into view. As if saying, “Hey there visitor. Welcome. Swab me? Of course. You’re welcome.”

So while they both might seem weird to me, if someone is handing out a body compliment I will take it. With relish.

And next time I admire another woman’s pert bum or her ability to move gracefully into downward dog, I will not chastise myself.

I will think, “Her body is great. I’ve got *naturally* high definition eyebrows and an extrovert cervix, so yay both of us.”

Am I past my prime?

A few things have happened recently that have made me realise I’m getting older. See if you recognise any of these too….

Signs you may be Past Your Prime:

1. People more than a decade younger than you complain that they are getting old.

2. You get excited when you realise you have absolutely no plans for the next weekend.

3. You have to put your glasses on to pluck a hair out… of your chin!

4. People remake your favourite TV shows, films and music (and you are sure they are not as good you the original)

5. You make clothing decisions insisting, this is comfy AND stylish.

6. You talk to colleagues about really famous bands from your party days and they say ‘who’s that?’.

7. You wonder why someone asks “Are you OK?” when you stand up, and realise you groaned and put your hand on your back. But you’re not even in pain.

8. Someone suggests you get involved in a roller blading party for kids, and you mentally scan your calendar to think what you’d miss if you ended up in plaster (or if a broken limb could be the perfect way to get out of something you don’t want to do).

9. You have finally learned that you have a drinking limit, and it’s possible to stop before you get totally shit-faced. (Who knew?)

10. Within an hour of getting up you’re already thinking about what time you can go to bed.

Make-up free?

Oh dear. I’ve just had to have a word with myself!

I read this article about people’s reactions to Alicia wearing no make-up to a red carpet event and I had 3 thoughts within a split second…

1. Good for her

2. How dare people judge her

3. I couldn’t do it. Surely she could have got away with some mascara!!

And it’s the last one that shocked me. Why do I feel like that? Who set the rule that I feel I have to follow?

Now first of all, let’s be clear. I don’t go to red carpet events very often. OK, ever. And actually I’m not a big make-up wearer at the best of times. But there are days when I feel I NEED to wear it.

Last night for example. I had a hospital appointment at 7pm. I was working at home during the day so it was scruffy clothes and bare face. But I felt the need to slap a bit on to go to see a doctor. For fucks sake, why?

I remember thinking, “I look rough”. So foundation, mascara, lipstick and suddenly I feel ready. Ready for what? Did I think the doctor would give me different test results if I look less rough??

Of course it’s ridiculous.

And yet, tomorrow when I go to London to a big meeting, I will definitely wear make-up because I do feel more confident when I feel I look nicer.

Is that wrong?

I totally support any woman’s decision to go make-up free or to contour the fuck out of their face. Whatever makes you happy. Men too.

I am questioning why people even need to talk about it. Why do people feel the need to support or condone Alicia by commenting on Twitter. Is the point she’s making that it’s not important what anyone else thinks?

I don’t know. Ultimately I don’t care. My test results were all clear, so clearly wearing make-up worked for me!

http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/alicia-keys-didnt-wear-makeup-to-the-vmas-and-got-publicly-shamed-for-it–WJQOIng57dW

Pay it forward

A waitress in Wagamama just made me cry!
To clarify: it was in a good way with a really lovely act of kindness.

I’ve been shopping in the Trafford Centre which has one of those massive dining areas with lots of fast food options round the edge. I really didn’t fancy a McDonalds or a Spud-u-Like, or fighting for a seat, or being glared at for taking up a table for 4 when it’s just me. You get the picture. So I decided to treat myself and go to Wagamama. I love their food and their smoothies and it was relatively quiet. But usually I find eating alone takes a bit of courage, or at least a book to hide behind!

I was feeling brave enough but once seated I started to feel that self-conscious urge to get my phone out so I don’t have to look at anyone or acknowledge my lone-eater status.

Then I decided not to give in to that uncomfortable tradition. Instead to be confident and just really enjoy my food and surroundings. And I really did. It was kind of liberating to just relax and smile and think for a while, and not care about anyone else.

When it came time to pay my bill I got talking to my waitress about eating alone and how she also tends to hide behind a laptop or a book. I told her about this blog, where I talk about worrying less and me trying not to care what other people think so much. She was so supportive and said that she’d have a look at the blog and that she’d like to pay for my meal.

I was absolutely gobsmacked!! You hear about these lovely acts of kindness but now it’s happened to me it made me tear up.

I went back to her as I was leaving and thanked her again and she said, “no problem just pay it forward”.

So then I’ve been finishing my shopping and wondering how to do that. How could I pay that kindness forward. Eventually the answer felt obvious, to find another woman eating on her own, congratulate her for having the confidence to enjoy a meal for one, and buy her lunch for her.

So that’s what I’ve just done. And a lovely lady called Christine in Yo Sushi was kind enough to accepted my gesture. (I should add that approaching a woman on her own and offering to buy her lunch is also a tad nerve wracking!! I hope you weren’t too frightened by me Christine!)

She’s agreed that she will also pay it forward to another lone-eater. I hope she does, and I hope whoever that lady is will feel how I feel right now… That as Unbalanced as we may all be sometimes, women (and men!) are usually kind and supportive of each other. Whether it’s a random act of kindness, a compliment or just a simple smile, we can really make someone’s day.

So here’s to enjoying a meal for one. And here’s to all the wonderful people out there who’ve created a random act of kindness. I’m looking at you Liz, my lovely Wagamama waitress. Thank you!!

If you’ve been involved in a Random Act of Kindness or Pay It Forward type of thing, I’d love to hear about it. Please tell me.

UPDATE: Christine got in touch! 

” I was the lucky recipient of lunch!!!! I was so touched by the gesture – it really really made my day!! It was great to meet you and thank you once again. I paid the act of kindness forward and bought a mum and son on the next counter an afternoon tea cakey treat. They were as thrilled as I was and promised to keep the chain going.

Thanks again – you were a little ray of sunshine for me today xx “

What a lovely day.

Starting school

My top tips for parents with kids starting school.

You’ve done all the practical stuff and your little one is ready their first day at school. But this is just the beginning, and YOU need to be prepared for what comes next.

Here are a few things I wasn’t expecting:

1. Uniform and shoe destruction
Treasure those cheesy photos of your kid’s first day at school (mandatory that they are standing by a door – why is that?). Soon you’ll look back and realise that was the last time your kid looked remotely smart.

School uniforms seem to soak up everything. By the first half term those clothes will be stained, stretched, washed-out colours and may have the odd hole. And if you have a boy who keeps the same shoes for more than a term you have my respect. Fuck knows what they do in the playground but it destroys leather.

2. Kids can’t remember ANYTHING
You’ll be desperate to hear about their day but don’t be surprised if after a few days, your kid (who you usually can’t shut up), decides that their only response to all questions is “I can’t remember”, even when they are still within the fucking school gates.

They may remember what they had for lunch.
That’s all you get.

3. You need to remember EVERYTHING
You’d better have a good memory or a good note-taking system because on the rare occasions your kids do tell you about their day  they expect you to remember every detail.

There’s an army of people now at the centre of their universe that you have never met. As well as their Teacher and around 30 kids you could hear stories about the Head, Deputy, Teaching Assistants, lunch time supervisors, people who come in to do sports activities, people who come in to hear readers and all sorts more. You will not have a frigging clue who is who. Just smile and nod.

Then throw in remembering when they need a PE kit, a costume, a prize for the raffle, money for Children in Need, blah blah blah, and your brain may start to spin.

You won’t be alone. The playground is full of parents working out how they can make an acceptable Easer Bonnet from things they can find in their kitchen drawer, before the parade happens at 11 o’clock. We’re all in this together. It’s fine.

4. Your new weekend schedule
Parents struggle to establish a clear etiquette for who to invite to their kid’s birthday party, and many resort to inviting the whole class. Yes, it’s not only teachers who have to cope with 30 little angels, you do too. And at parties they add sugar!

There are so many of these parties you may start to say that classic cliche of “My kids have a better social life than I do!” and then cry into your Chuckle Chimps Play Centre coffee cup when you realise that it’s not just a saying, it’s the fucking truth.

5. Biff and Chip
These are characters in a very common reading scheme. You must NOT giggle at the innuendo of character names when your child is earnestly concentrating on phonetic domination.

Whilst you can revel in the magic of your kid learning to read (and it is magic, because English words just don’t follow the rules), it’s OK to acknowledge the mind numbing boredom you may feel when you child brings home 29 books in a row where the most exciting thing to happen is ‘Pat ran’ and ‘Sam sat’.

6. Labelling EVERYTHING
Once you’ve labelled everything they wear you can be nice an smug. No way suckers! There’s always more.

Taking in ‘show and tell’ stuff, a costume for the Christmas play, a cake tin filled with ‘home baked’ goods for the Summer fair, etc etc. If you want it to come back you have to label it.

Get some sticky labels and a permanent marker and learn to write on very small things in very small writing. If you’ve given your kids long names, this is where you’ll start shortening them.

7. A house full of ‘Art’
If you thought baby toys had ruined your beautiful adult house, get ready for this shit storm of craft-based crap. They glue, write, draw and model most days, and the best if it gets stapled to a classroom display, while the rest is brought home to you, full of pride and a desire to turn every wall and surface of your home into a gallery of their masterpieces.

They also get school projects that you, yes you, have to help them with. And school encourage you to ‘be as creative as you like’. Brilliant if you are a crafty type. Sheer, glue-filled hell if you are not.

My advice. Get a big box, call it a ‘special school memories box’ and dump all that shit straight in there. Perhaps in a couple of years you can look back at it with teary emotions, or just laugh at the memory of how a stick with a piece of string cellotaped to it’s middle was supposed to represent their favourite character from a book. If only either of you could remember which book. Very unlikely it was Biff or Chip anyway.

Offended!

Those who know me will tell you that I’m not easily offended. But watching Channel 4’s new dating show, ‘Naked Attraction’ made me feel like Mary Whitehouse.

If you haven’t seen the show, the idea is that a single person gets to see six potential mates before choosing one to go on a date. The difference, (of course you can see what’s coming – not a pun… yet) is that the contenders are all naked. And there’s actual science bits where graphics and a voice-over explains why our primitive brain is naturally wired to find certain attributes, such as strong thighs, to be attractive to those seeking a mate.

So far I’m OK. This could actually be interesting I thought. I bit like Big Brother when it first started. If I go beyond the obvious voyeurism, this could be psychological education. It’s not Channel 5 after all.

Each of the contestants is behind a different colour screen and henceforth known as ‘Green’ or ‘Pink’ etc. The screens then reveal the naked people from the bottom up, starting with waist-down, full-frontal glory.

The episode I saw was a male Picker, was choosing from six female colour-coded Contestants. The screen goes up and we are now eye level with an assortment of Minge-Master-Pieces. I say this because they were all fully groomed and presented in different coloured frames. None of these ladies was showing off her natural, bushy Lady Garden. Not even a well manicured lawn. Five of them were completely bald, and I would describe Number 6 as having ‘a neat gravel border’. I commend her for being the only one to at least acknowledge there was once a garden there.

But now we approach the part where I got offended. The host asked the picker what he thought, and if he liked what he saw. And he was happy. He pointed to the gravel and said “That’s as much hair as I allow”.

Allow!!!

There are many words that went through my head at that point and most of them have the same meaning as Lady Garden but have fewer letters.

What an absolute…. xxxx!

Funnily enough there was no mention of science or primitive attraction during this section. But I had a primitive urge to tie a very tight knot in his garden hose.

I thought we’d moved beyond judging people by what they look like, but apparently not. It’s HER garden. SHE can choose what she does with it.  We all have preferences but are we happy to accept people actually reject a person based on the amount of grass (or gravel) on their front lawn?

Ladies, grow what you want down there, trim it, shape it, or remove it. Hell, put a picket fence round it if you want. Sod what anyone else thinks.

Holiday packing

Packing for a holiday: Women vs men (or just me vs my husband..?)

ME…

One week before holiday

  • Start mentally packing, putting things to one side in my wardrobe

3 days to go

  • Start wearing old crap underwear so I can save my least grey stuff for packing (not sure why I need to to only take my best knickers away).
  • Become laundry obsessed. Even more than usual. Everything must be washed NOW in case I decide to pack it. 
  • Pack my toiletries bag.

2 days to go

  • Freak out because I’m going to a party tonight and nothing in the ‘won’t be taking these away’ section of my wardrobe seems acceptable. Try on everything in the hope that it has suddenly become suitable. 
  • Go shopping and get over excited by ‘Travel Sized’ bottles of everything. Spend 10 minutes deliberating if it’s OK to buy 50ml versions for £1 when 200ml is £1.50. Find empty travel bottles in the next aisle. They are also £1.50. Kick myself for being so indecisive. Return to mini bottles and and buy mini everything. 
  • Buy a new pair of shoes I don’t really need.

Day before holiday

  • Choose the clothes I definitely want to take, attempting to achieve the coveted ‘capsule’ set where everything goes with everything (who am I kidding?). 
  • Limit myself to 3 pairs of shoes, including the new ones. 
  • Try on every outfit to make sure it goes with one of the 3 pairs of shoes.
  • Decide on my travelling outfit and hang it on my wardrobe door. 
  • Pat myself on the back for being decisive and limiting myself. I have NOT overpacked.

Morning of holiday

  • Spot things in the ironing pile that I could probably squeeze in. That top is a bit nicer than the one I packed. It’s only one top. Oh but if I take that I’ll need to pink shoes. That’s just one more pair of shoes. 
  • Repeat two more times
  • Mentally shout at myself for over packing. 
  • Accept it and move on. I am the boss of me. 

Happy. 

MY HUSBAND…

Morning of holiday

  • Put on some clothes. 
  • Pack whatever else is in his wardrobe that he fancies taking. 
  • Grab any toiletries he fancies taking. 

Happy. 

I think he’s got it right really.