Category Archives: A Voluptuous Mind

5 Years of A Voluptuous Mind + 2019 Foreword

According to my WordPress stats, today is my five year anniversary. Looking back I see that five years ago almost to the day A Voluptuous Mind was born.

A LOT has changed since I wrote that foreword, including the name of my blog and a lot of my likes and dislikes. I can’t remember being so into Matthew McConaughey to be honest, and of course there’s a massive shadow now cast over the actor who played Chuck Bass (allegedly). More importantly, Mariah Carey has grown on me like a glittery fungus and I’m not mad at her anymore.

As a person I’ve changed too and I hope for the better. I’m no longer so hung up on the idea of being anything other than me. I’m not fixated with losing weight and I’ve never been happier. The ideal of perfection is an illusion and it’s unobtainable, with ever moving goal posts – I’m glad I’ve realised that focussing on my mental health and well-being is more important that counting calories and the way I look.

I thought I’d celebrate this very special occasion by writing a new foreword, a brand new 2019 version. I’ll review it again in 2024.

Welcome to The Middle Row, formerly A Voluptuous Mind. This blog is no longer a ‘work in progress’, though sometimes it still feels that way. Even after five years I don’t think I’ve really landed on what I want it to be. And that’s okay.

I live in Brighton and work in Customer Services for a financial company. I love my job but I get bored easily. Luckily I have plenty of other things to keep me sane. I write a movie column for the call centre magazine and also have a work blog that gets nice comments. I’m also a rep for our in-house support team and am a point of contact if a colleague needs help with a work or non-work related issue. That’s one of my favourite parts of working for the company.

Outside work I have this blog and I also podcast. At the moment I’m planning a new horror themed podcast with two good friends. We’re all really excited about it and I will be sharing some of our new content here. But of course.

I live with anxiety and depression, something I finally faced up to a few years ago. I now understand myself so much better and know when to give myself space. I’m still obsessed with film, especially horror movies and I think my anxiety feeds into this. There’s something of a release found in the films I most enjoy.

I love to read, particularly Gothic horror, ghost stories and crime fiction. I love to be tattooed and I’m a shopaholic.

Thank you for reading A Middle Row, honestly – to every person who takes the time to visit and comment, I appreciate you.

It would be remiss not to mention the wonderful people I have met here on the blog. I have had friends from all around the world ever since I started blogging almost 20 years ago and they illuminate my social media feeds every day with their experiences and opinions.

And of course, the friendship I have with my blog wife Jill is one of the most important to me. We’ve been reviewing films for years now (more on that soon) and even though I can be highly disorganised and sloppy sometimes with the assignments, it means the world to me. So to Jill I say: thanks for the memories boo – looking forward to way more.

Thank you for reading for the last five years and here’s to fifty more.

Surviving Christmas

I wrote this post for a work blog but unfortunately it wasn’t published. So I thought I’d share it here instead, rather than waste it. I guess the sentiment stands, wherever I place it, right? 


❄️❄️❄️

Oh Christmas. A magical time for all, where everything twinkles and shines just that little bit brighter. Eggnog flows like water, chocolate waits tantalisingly to be devoured (usually for breakfast) and there is no pain anywhere.

If only.

Firstly, the festive season is s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l. Financially, socially, mentally – it can do a number on you in so many different ways, sometimes in ways you’ve never considered. I personally feel burnt out already just by the sheer amount of social engagements I’ve had (I know, boo hoo). Don’t get me started on the damage I’ve done with my debit card. So from the offset the magic can come at a price but we do it because it’s Christmas and we love our loved ones. Some of us adore this time of year and that’s cool too.

But Christmas can also be a challenging time for mental health and it’s important to acknowledge this. Every person has the right to take care of themselves during this period, even when they’re at home. If being with family isn’t the right thing for your wellbeing then that is fine, the modern set-up is often an extension of what we’ve always known and friends are the new family to many. As the clock ticks down to Santa’s visit, remember:

You don’t have to spend Christmas with your family

As above if this is a toxic place for you, you don’t have to do it.

If it all gets too much

Take yourself out of the situation. Absolutely nobody can give you grief for going to your room to read a book for an hour or having a hot bath in the middle of the afternoon. You know yourself better than anyone, so listen to your instincts.

Ask for help

I’m the worst when it comes to cooking the Christmas dinner. I do not know how to ask for help and end up sweaty and stressed in the kitchen, snapping at anyone who tries to intervene. Asking for help does not make you a failure; it just takes some of the pressure off. In fact, if you can write a list and make notes about who can do what, you’re laughing. Plus, if you cooked – it is against the law for you to wash up as well. Just saying.

Mind the booze

I’m not going to lecture anyone about their alcoholic intake but it is so tempting to turn to the buck’s fizz (or harder) to deal with Christmas Day. Alcohol is a depressant though and can leave you feeling low. Not to mention the Christmas morning/Boxing Day hangovers so sometimes it’s good to pace yourself.

Get some air

If you need to get out then get out! Nobody has ever regretted leaving the house for a spot of fresh air, let’s face it. Except maybe Dorothy Gale.

If it’s not perfect, tough

This is my new mantra, as I worry about presents, whether I’ve spend enough and that each gift is perfectly wrapped with a tartan bow. If everything is not just so then what’s the worst that can happen? The world will not implode. One year I forgot the stuffing and I’m still here to tell the tale, painful as it still is.

I am the gift and so are you

Your loved ones just want to be with you, I promise. For all the gifts and the going out, what really matters is the being together. And lots and lots of lovely cheese.

So from me to you, have a lovely Christmas and please take care of yourselves. 

Closed for Christmas

Dear Friends,

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging for the rest of December while I deal with some stuff (basically my own mental health).

I’m all good, I’ve just been having a bit of an adventure with my anxiety and overstretching myself socially, as usual.

So to combat these overwhelming feelings, Jill and I are breaking for Christmas on the Blog Collab and I’m going to probably keep it light (if I blog at all) between now and the new year. I just need to think about what I want to do and also have as much chill time as I can get.

This week is fucking mental again in terms of going out but next week I am winding down and nesting in the lead up to the big day. Fuck it. I’m going to read lots of books and take lots of baths. I want to be in PJs as much as possible. I am hanging up my false lashes for a month or two!

I will pop in I’m sure before Christmas but until then, things are going to be a little quiet over here.

I hope the festive season is being kind to you all. It can really do a number on you sometimes, financially, physically and mentally. Just remember you’re only human and can only do so much – and really the true spirit of Christmas is the cheese board, so as long as that’s taken care of, what else matters? JK of course. Christmas is what you make it. Just take care.

See you soon.

Sincerely yours, C xoxo

Citizen Ruth (Film) Review

Nothing ushers in the festive period like a film about a well-publicised (fictional) abortion tussle.

Although I should say, it’s my fault this one falls on what should be the beginning of Christmas Movie Month. Unfortunately, my social calendar stopped me from viewing and posting this film on time last week (boo hoo). Both Jill and I agreed we weren’t quite ready for Xmas though so who honestly cares?

*Spoilers*

Citizen Ruth (1996)

Ruth doesn’t lead what you would call the traditional life. In fact, if we’re being blunt, she lives quite a pitiful existence and has little to call her own. She’s addicted to any substance she can get her hands on, does not have a fixed address and has four children she never sees, split across three different homes. I’m not judging her at this point, these are just facts.

When she’s arrested for “illegal inhalation” for the nth time (who’s counting?), she hits an extra snag. She finds out she’s pregnant again and the judge, who’s had enough, decides she should be tried for “felony criminal endangerment of a fetus” – a much more serious charge that will carry substantial jail time. It is ironic then when he pulls her aside later and tells her he’ll be much more lenient on her if she gets rid of the problem instead.

Well, Ruth is on the same page but in clink she meets a band of “Baby Savers” who have been kicking up a stink outside some abortion clinics, and shit starts to get real. Taken under the wing of The Stoneys (Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place), it soon becomes clear what their agenda is. They provide a comfortable home and board but at what cost, eh Ruth?

Things are nice and cosy for a while but Ruth soon finds their son’s modelling glue and well, you can guess the rest…

Good clean fun

So family friend Diane (Kurtz) steps in to help out with the care of Ruth (who has lapsed spectacularly more than once). She quickly reveals herself to be an undercover spy for the Pro-choice brigade, working the Baby Savers from the inside. Which is great, right? Well, nobody really comes off well in this movie, even the ones I naturally agree with.

Ruth finds herself swept away by Diane and her moon-serenading girlfriend Rachel (Kelly Preston) to a remote home in the woods, where they are protected by Harlan (M.C. Gainey) a sort of volunteer security guard. With both sides fighting hard to keep her onside, what the fuck is messed up Ruth supposed to do?

And when the cash offers start rolling in – first of all from the Baby Savers, then Harlan’s personal bank account to even the playing field – Ruth gets even more twisted. The woman has nothing and will take direction from the highest bidder, surely?

I guess the most immediate question is: Will Ruth go through with the termination or change her mind at the last minute?

I need this t-shirt. STAT.

I don’t really know what to feel and I really don’t know how to talk about what this film really means. I mean, it’s an abortion ‘comedy’ which is always going to be a hard one to carry off but I like it for that.

It speaks bluntly about women’s choices and the autonomy they should have over their own bodies – but it’s also a look at fanaticism and the dehumanisation of the subject when it comes to the war of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Both sides are very keen to tell Ruth what to do and aren’t really concerned with what she thinks or feels.

I’m gonna stay here. and I’m gonna have that abortion like I wanted. ‘Cause I’m a citizen and… and I got my rights to, um, PICK! ~ Ruth

I don’t like anybody in this movie, least of all Ruth who is frustrating in so many ways. She’s a mess and nobody is really offering her the help she needs, if she even wants it, which I don’t think she does. There isn’t one character anyway I feel the need to cheer for and that’s an odd feeling.

However, I really enjoy the fact that there is no redemption arc for Ruth. It would be forced and disingenuous for her to finally become a decent person at the end of all this. The movie’s climax is perfect and feels authentic, even if it is bleak AF.

Also, Laura Dern is The Queen.

3/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she boycott it or let it make its own decisions in life? Find out here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Confidence

Confidence is key, that’s what so many women’s magazines/style gurus/celebrities tell us and sure, there’s something in the rhetoric. However, is there really a way to become confident if it doesn’t come naturally? I must say I don’t really know what I’m talking about, there’s no secret recipe but I can tell you how I got here, by way of a thousand tears, some self-realisation and a whole lot of tying jumpers around my waist to hide my enormous junk.

People compliment me on my confidence all the time which is nice to hear but means one thing as far as I’m concerned: “You are so confident, despite everything”. I’m not being needlessly cruel to myself but let’s face it, I don’t look like a model, do I? I’m short, round, ginger and over 40 – I might not change a thing about the way I look but I definitely do not fit the ‘ideal’. So where the heck do I get off not giving a fuck?

Take up space, wear what you want and never, ever apologise for being here

The thing is, I do give a fuck and I also don’t. I’ve learnt the hardest lesson of my life now and that’s that I deserve to be here, even in my capacity as a fat middle-aged woman. I’m allowed to love myself with ferocity, I’m allowed to demand respect and I’m definitely allowed to wear fitted jumpsuits and enjoy the fuck out of fashion. How I got here was via a lot of reading, following fat activists and feminists on Twitter and slowly allowing myself to heal from a lifetime of bullshit from every corner. Diet culture, fashion magazines, adverts on the TV – they sell us one beauty ideal and although I know things are changing, they are changing slowly.

A few years ago something in me clicked into place and I no longer felt the need to beat myself up. I started to wear the clothing I wanted to and I started to relish myself. Obviously there are days when the confidence fails or I have a melt-down because I can’t find the thing I want to wear (hello work’s Christmas do last Friday!) but you’re damn right I’m as confident as I can be. I’ve earned the right.

What are your thoughts?

Love is a Gift

It’s still November yet the John Lewis ad has already aired and I’ve been harrassed more than once by Olaf the Snowman from Frozen in the Open Market. I’m no Grinch but I do draw the line personally at embracing the Christmas Spirit before December 1st. If you’re an early Christmas lover then that’s fine, you do you hun.

I have had more than one conversation about the darker side of Christmas though and even though I don’t want to be ‘that guy’, I do think it’s important to acknowledge and understand that not everyone is full of the joys of Rudolph this time of year. The Christmas season is incredibly difficult for many people for many different reasons – and the relentless onslaught of Mariah Carey holiday songs can take its toll (is there more than one actually?). Everywhere you look when you’re not feeling it is a homage to the big man and his pals – it must be unbearable.

This very topic came up at work yesterday as a collection of us gathered around one of our phones to watch an ‘alternative’ Christmas video. You might have seen it yourself on television as its creators have been interviewed a couple of times and lots of viewers are saying it’s even better than the Elton John JL advert this year.

The concept is simple in itself, and features a thirtysomething man listening to cassette tapes on an old Walkman, left to him as a gift by his late mother. Each tape is a touching personal message recorded for him for every year she was able to do it. Its tagline is “Love is a gift that lasts forever. Merry Christmas.”

Most of us were near tears even talking about it but a couple of people pondered why we have to think about sad things at Christmas – which prompted quite an interesting debate. While I get that point, it’s not a choice for a lot of lonely or bereaved people. There are people with nothing in this world, who barely get through their day to day lives, let alone the festive season. Just because everything is sprinkled with a light dusting of glitter does not mean that those troubles go away.

This isn’t a call to arms really. There are a lot of things you can do to give back this Christmas, from volunteering to reaching out to someone who may be struggling. Even just standing up and saying you’re there for your friends and colleagues if they need anyone can be a good thing. I’ve seen a couple of Facebook statuses over 2018 that touch on that same point.

Life is tough at the best of times and Christmas is hard – it’s financially stressful, socially exhausting and there’s a lot of pressure to pull on your favourite ugly sweater and get into the spirit. What if you can’t? I just think we should be conscious of each other and kind wherever we can be.

What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, have a look at Love is a Gift, the short film mentioned above.

Level 41

It’s that time of the year again. Time to gaze into the navel of my birthday and give thanks to the past year. This isn’t quite as epic a milestone as last year obviously but it’s still been a pretty sweet ride. 

40 has been good to me. I’ve done a lot of cool things, including two trips, fallen in love with Margate and spent a lot of time with a lot of good people. I’ve made some great new friends, enjoyed time with old ones – I’ve had fun at work, put myself forward for a new role which didn’t work out (but I’m quite pleased about that). I’ve been creative, I’ve been lazy – I’ve spent a lot of money, faced some fears, cried some tears. It’s been a well-rounded year and I’m grateful for it. 

I love my life and even when I put myself down for being old (every single day of my life), I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a wise woman with a wealth of life experience and better still, I’m still learning every day. I might be who I am but there’s always room to undulate and grow.

Here’s to reaching Level 41 tomorrow. I can only hope that it’s as eventful and as fun as the last.