Kindness

It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind ~ I Know It’s Over, The Smiths

It was World Kindness Day a few days ago – I know this because my colouring app told me and gave me a couple of bonus pictures to celebrate. Which was very nice but it also got me thinking about true kindness. Is it possible to be kind all the time? Is there a certain level of kindness you have to hit before you qualify as a proper kind person? And what about kindness to yourself?

You see? It’s a lot to think about and I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. It’s just sometimes I find myself wondering, when I’m promoting kindness to others (via the medium of meme) – and walking around with the lyrics from the song quoted above tattooed on my arm – whether I even qualify.

I think generally, most of us are decent at the core but all of us could stand to be kinder. Even if all that means is keeping an eye out for the dude you sit next to at work, or asking a crying stranger if they need anything.

I wonder all the time whether I’m a decent person, sometimes I truly believe I’m not. Kindness is something I aim for every day but there are always obstacles that derail my intention. Like someone being a know-it-all brings out my decidedly unkind side.

I recently made a new friend who it turns out might not be my cup of tea after all – and I know my pulling away has been confusing and possibly hurtful for them. I haven’t been horrible but I feel really guilty about the situation, like maybe I need to make more effort – except I’m not sure I have it in me mentally to just ignore my instincts.

What I don’t understand is how easily we’ll think about others and ignore our own needs. Being kind to ourselves counts. And all this is just a delicate balancing act.

I say be kind wherever possible and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it 24/7, you’re not a Stepford Wife. As long as you’re not going out of your way to be a mean bitch and you’re not hurting anybody, you’re doing okay. As with most things, intent is key. We can all strive to be good people and for the most part, I think we are.

Keep an eye out for those around you, do a good deed every now and again just for the hell of it – it is honestly way more satisfying to put good out into the world than bad.

So happy belated World Kindness Day.

How’s it going?

One Reason Why

TW: Suicide

“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
~ Tiffanie DeBartolo, How to Kill a Rock Star

Yesterday was Suicide Prevention Day and I wanted to put something down as this is a topic after my own heart. There are many shocking stats about suicide in the UK that you can read about here, I won’t add to that myself. I just wanted to acknowledge this day and maybe share a little.

I learned a bit about suicide this year during my Mental Health First Aid Training. The course was given by a suicide survivor, an incredibly vibrant man who couldn’t have been more candid about his experiences. He spoke openly (and sometimes with genuine humour) about why he’d wanted to take his own life, what might have stopped him and his thoughts on it now – and it was fascinating. Surprising too, when you consider how outgoing and seemingly bright he is. This just goes to show that it isn’t always obvious what people are going through, or the kinds of people who are affected by suicidal thoughts.

Of the people on that course, there were at least a handful that had first or second-hand experience of suicide – and all their stories were heart-breaking and very raw. Honestly, I don’t think I had any idea of what something like that can leave in its wake and the repercussions seem endless. My eyes were opened by that course and I feel as though maybe I worry more about people I care about now. I’m hyper conscious of friends who seem down but sometimes I’m clumsy about how I go about making sure they’re okay. The right words don’t always come easy because it’s a massive thing to talk about – but I think it’s fine just to ask someone if they need anything.

Way back during my darkest period this was definitely something I considered. If I’m honest there just didn’t seem to be a reasonable way out. I didn’t believe I could just say ‘enough’ and be allowed to leave our home. In the end it turned out to be quite easy but I’d been beaten down so much mentally that I hit a wall and for a long time I felt dead already. I just wanted it to be over, once and for all.

In the end it was friendship that saved me. I met a group of people who wanted me to be okay and they’d make sure I was, daily. I found a tiny sliver of hope and that was enough to acknowledge that I wasn’t going to sacrifice my life to fear. I’m lucky and although I still have dark thoughts, I know what I need to do if it feels like too much.

Suicide has always been stigmatized. I no longer think a person is selfish or cowardly if they take their own life. I just think it’s sad and I wish that they could have found another way. It’s not for me to judge but I do want to be there for my loved ones or anyone who feels they need help. We can all be kinder and more observant, it doesn’t take much . We need to check in with our friends, family and colleagues.

And if you’re going through Hell, there are ways to help yourself. The Samaritans for one are an amazing organisation and they’re there 24/7, 365. Most workplaces have an Employee Assistance Programme or can offer you additional help too. It can be hard to ask for help, I completely get that but I hope you find a way to. It can change everything.

Samaritans

Web: https://www.samaritans.org/
Call: 116 123 (free)
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Or drop into your local branch

Résumé
Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.”
~ Dorothy Parker, Enough Rope

How are you?

Diamonds

Welcome to the Posts Named After Pop Songs series, in which I take something very tenuously linked to my life from the lyrics and run with it.

Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I , we’re like diamonds in the sky
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
When you hold me, I’m alive
We’re like diamonds in the sky

I often think about that first line: “I choose to be happy”. I mean, I’m usually thinking about Rihanna as standard but that line has always resonated with me. Is it that easy then? Do we simply choose and then become it?

I think there might be something in this theory and it’s got me thinking. About whether I am a truly happy person, what makes me happy – and how much power I have within me just to be as happy as a clam (or a pig in shit, depending on how sophisticated I’m feeling). It’s a broad topic to be sure.

I think I’m happy generally but, like most people, I do let the small things rob me of joy sometimes. For instance I’m very irritable today not because of my hormones but because my work headphones kept getting tangled in my chair. This is something that could be easily fixed and yet, mixed with the Monday blues, I’ve been fuming.

I could and should just say to hell with annoyance, today is the best day of my life – and get the fuck on with it. That’s a choice. Because I’ve chosen not to do this, the day’s got worse and worse. The only good news is that I can have icecream for dinner and nobody will dare tell me off.

But there’s something there, isn’t there? I used to be a very depressed individual and ten years ago I wouldn’t have framed myself as a happy individual. I have been in dark and lonely places feeling as though I had nothing good to show for my life and nothing to look forward to. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done to get out of that and let a little sunshine in.

At a point in my life I could take no more of my own misery shit. It was time to sink or swim and thankfully my mediocre doggy paddle just about got me to land.

Life is in colour now and I love it. I have friends, an amazing family and I get to come home to the best person on the planet. I’m privileged in many ways and I can’t deny that. There are lots of reasons to smile and more reasons to be positive than to let tangled headphones fuck with my chi. So maybe I will drop the attitude and leave myself open. Sure, not everyday can be a skip through the posies but I can take a vow to at least try.

Maybe against all odds and in the face of the things I can’t control, I will stand up and say “Not today, Satan. Rihanna chooses happiness and so do I.”

His Highness the crown prince Dalai Lama agrees:

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ~ Dalai Lama XIV

What do you think?

What Pride Means to Me

In the year 2000, my best friend and I moved from Bexhill-on-Sea to the big bad city – Brighton. We moved because we wanted more from life than that small retirement town could offer us. Mostly though, we moved because she was into girls and there weren’t many ‘out’ women back then (that we knew of anyway). So many times my friend would lament the fact that she wasn’t ‘normal’ and I would always wonder what normal was anyway.

Since then we’ve enjoyed many amazing Pride weekends, nights at Wild Fruit and one time a drag queen swung her handbag at my head and left a scar. Those were the glory days and solidified something within me – that I was part of something amazing, finally a city where I belonged.

Many of my friends are LGBT+ so Pride is incredibly important to them and to me. I’m older and more square than I used to be so don’t often venture to the park anymore but I’m always at the parade, which I love more than anything. It never fails to bring a lump to my throat. I want to live in a world that accepts everybody from all walks of life for who they are. Being part of this day makes me believe it can happen, even if we still have a long way to go.

As a white middle-aged heterosexual woman, I try to be a good ally – but I know there is so much more I can do to show my support and I’m learning how to do that every day.


I wrote this for a Pride work competition and thought I’d share it here.

What does Pride mean to you?

What a Difference a Decade Makes

87,600 little hours…

Not long ago Glynn Bass and I celebrated a decade together. I say celebrated but it was more like we were in bed and a Facebook memory popped up reminding us. We’re not very organised about anniversaries but a decade has indeed passed. I can hardly believe it actually, our relationship was born of a hopeful Facebook search and look at us now. I feel very lucky.

Sometimes in my more retrospective moments, I feel even better about where I am now because I’m another year past my last relationship. Now it’s been a whole decade since that ended and the same amount of time since I’ve laid eyes on The Worst Person in the World™.

I like to think I’m not bitter and there’s really no reason for me to be. Things worked out for the best and I got out of there are soon as I was able to – but it’s hard not to acknowledge the psychological scars. It’s harder still when you talk to your friends and they mention their own mentally abusive relationships.

How I would love to punch the face of any dickhead foolish enough to try and break one of my girls. How I want to rage for hours about how much they are worth and why these bastards aren’t even fit to lick their shoes.

How I fucking wish I could have taken my own advice. That will always be the hardest thing to come to terms with. How did I let it drag on for so long – why didn’t I up and leave at the first sign of trouble?

That’s the million dollar question and I know the answer. I didn’t have the energy because day by day, I was taught that I didn’t have any worth. That I was nothing. I thought I was strong and independent but it turns out those qualities weren’t prominent enough to save me from believing him. Well, until they were.

I think, ten years on, it’s time for me to forgive myself.

I know we’re not supposed to dwell on the past and honestly, it’s all just a passing (bad) memory every now and again but when I hear my friends talk about similar experiences, it brings it back. I hate that anyone I care about has experience of gas-lighting. I hate that anyone has been gas-lit at all. I hate that there’s even a term for what these people have done to us.

I’m not sorry it all happened because I’m here exactly as I should be. I got out of there eventually and I’m incredibly proud of that – and I know I will never let this happen to me again. So, here’s to ten years of being with someone who knows who I am and loves me anyway.

More importantly, here’s to ten years of me finally realising that I am somebody – strong, courageous, independent – and as of right now – FORGIVEN.

Cool Breeze Over the Mountains: Keanu’s Year

Keanu was my first love. Honestly, when I first clapped eyes on his sultry good looks, he stirred something in me that wasn’t completely innocent or holy – he made me curious about the opposite sex. Parenthood was my jam in particular and when I think about it even now, I get a little tingle.

I haven’t stopped loving him since and if we’re honest, this post is just one giant thirst trap. I’m using Keanu’s amazing 2019 as an excuse to post pictures of him and I’m not even going to deny it. It has been quite the year though so I thought I’d look at all the reasons Mr Reeves in still, and always with be, The One.


Not All Men Keanu

I don’t think men should be congratulated for doing bare minimum (not being perverts, etc) but in this climate, the actual good guys do stand out. While I don’t know Keanu personally (more’s the pity), I believe he’s a good person.

Recent photographs of him standing respectfully next to female co-stars (including Dolly Parton) and fans alike, keeping his hands strategically off their bodies has done nothing but reinforce this.

Horsin’ Around Keanu

Uh, John Wick 3 was fun AF but Keanu riding a horse through the streets of NYC, while fighting off the bad guys? HELLO. To be that saddle, amiright?!

A word about the John Wick franchise. I love the physicality of the role and it’s perfect for our boy, who’s notoriously method when it comes to his action parts. Even as an older gentleman, K uses his body to its fullest and I might have to stop typing this and have a little lie down for a moment.

But seriously, John Wick is a highly nuanced character and not just emotionally. Our hero kicks serious butt but he also suffers, looks knackered and in need of a damn good bubble bath after every fight – and I respect that.

This GQ Shoot Keanu

Sir Reeves was GQ’s May cover star and oh boy does he work it. No, I haven’t read The Legend of Keanu Reeves article that accompanies the set but I will. I definitely will.

*Sigh*

Always Be My Maybe Keanu

The man who embraces his mediocre nothingness shines greater than any. ~ Keanu Reeves as Keanu Reeves

The man himself plays Ali Wong‘s fling in this lovely romantic comedy and he’s brilliant. Sending himself up as the ultimate Hollywood douche, his scenes shine bright like a diamond in an already sparkling film. Sure, I’m biased so what?

The restaurant segment is wonderful as he and love rival Marcus Kim (Randall Park) vie for Sasha Tran’s (Wong) attention.

Destination Wedding Keanu

The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.

I feel like this movie has been out forever in the US but hasn’t even opened in our theaters yet. It’s coming in the Summer I think. Either way, I’m waiting patiently for this Winona Ryder/KR pairing. It will be amazing regardless of whether it’s actually good or not.

Also, Keanu: “Unpleasant”, is that even possible?

Cyberpunk Keanu

I’m not a gamer at all so I genuinely don’t give a fuck about the game itself – however: a moment for this look. Rocking Bucky Barnes chic, CGI Reeves is just as beautiful as the real thing. If Glynn buys and plays Cyberpunk 2077 then maybe I’ll hang around to watch a little bit.

Be My Toy, Keanu

KR voices Canadian stuntman toy Duke Caboom in this month’s Toy Story 4 and I can’t wait. We’ve heard his dulcet tones voicing several animated characters over the years but I think he’ll be a magical addition to the Pixar universe.

“YOU’RE BREATHTAKING!” Keanu

During a Cyberpunk 2077 appearance, in response to a heckler screaming “You’re breathtaking!”, Reeves threw back the compliment, adding “You’re all breathtaking” to the audience. Is he the most perfect human being on this planet? By that token, is he even human? All I know is that we must protect him at all costs.

And finally…

Bill & Ted Face the Music Keanu

Once told they’d save the universe during a time-traveling adventure, 2 would-be rockers from San Dimas, California find themselves as middle-aged dads still trying to crank out a hit song and fulfill their destiny.

B & T are back to save the universe once more and they’ve never looked better. I love the idea of these Californian slackers being grown-ups but still essentially the same characters. If I’m honest I know little else about the premise and that’s okay. Roll on 2020.


It doesn’t seem as though the Keanussance is going to let up any time soon and teenage me would be so stoked about it.

Who knew my fantasy man would get better with every passing year?

Best Friends Day

I’m thinking of holding an audition for a new best friend.

I used to have one. The same one for fifteen years but the relationship grew toxic in the end and it had to stop. Even though my life has been infinitely calmer and better in the time since, I can’t pretend I don’t miss having a BFF.

I guess honestly I do miss her too. But there’s no going back. Too much water under the bridge, too much life lived.

Maybe I’m ready to belong to someone again? The exact opposite of what I said three years ago. I am very good at being my own bestie. I treat myself better than anyone else ever could, and I know what I need. I’m what they call self-aware.

But sometimes I still feel sad I don’t have that one ride or die. I have close friends, don’t get me wrong. I love them dearly and they love me – but they all have their own best friends.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact it was ‘Best Friends Day’ yesterday and Instagram was awash with lovely tributes but I’m lamenting the topic hard this morning. I’ll get over it soon and go back to the stance that I’m happy as I am – and I am – but let me have this now.

Is true Best Friendship for me like true romantic love? Is there only one big one to be had in this lifetime?*

(I have to be clear this isn’t a reflection on any of my friendships, they’re all important and also, any one of them is eligible to audition for title of Ultimate BFF).

Silly, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter. I guess we all just compare ourselves to what everybody else has. I haven’t been short changed and I don’t need someone to label me to live a happy life. It’s just sometimes, in the dark moments before I drop off to sleep, this is one of the things I think about.

Oh, and things I’m looking for in the ideal best friend?

  • Funny
  • Can keep a secret
  • Non-jealous
  • Understands I’m an anxious wreck
  • Respects my need for space

I don’t mind a boy, a girl or non-binary human being, I don’t care about age. Just a decent person who accepts me for who I am.

Know anyone?

This post is brought to you in part tongue-in-cheek.

*I’m not even sure about this.

The Hills

One of the most precious lessons I’ve learnt over the years is one of the hardest for me to put into practice. It’s the one about choosing a hill to die on.

I believe if we’re being technical the original phrase (or question) goes a little something like this: “Is this the hill you want to die on?”. Meaning, honestly does it matter enough to die for it right here, right now?

When you think about it, not an awful lot is really worth the time of day we give it. It seems a bit rich for me to type that when I worry endlessly about most things but the fact is, what really matters in life? That we’re halfway decent people, that our loved ones are safe – and our overall well-being. Food, shelter and a bit of pocket money, we all need that.

We don’t need drama or rivalry – and we need to choose our battles wisely.

This is something I really need to start putting in place because I’ve found myself getting stressed lately and finding reasons to get mad about the little things. Basically moaning like a crotchety old fish wife, the most appealing of role models.

I’m constantly telling myself that I need to keep my head down and let those niggles wash over me, but do you think I do?

I wonder again if maybe I’m too sensitive but then I remember what Hannah Gadsby says about sensitivity in her stand-up show Nanette and I know she’s right:

“Stop being so sensitive.” I don’t understand. Why is insensitivity something to strive for? I happen to know that my sensitivity is my strength. I know that. It’s my sensitivity that’s helped me navigate a very difficult path in life. ~ Hannah Gadsby, Nanette

I’m allowed to be mad and I’m allowed to be hurt – and if something doesn’t sit right, I’m allowed to say so, even if I do it badly.

I’m going to stop being frightened to wear my mistakes on my sleeve and I’m going to learn from them. I’m going to fight for the things I believe in and stop worrying about the things that don’t really matter.

When something pisses me off I’m going to consider if this new thing is the hill for me – and if that answer is no, I’m letting that shit go.

So what if someone’s being annoying in the office? From now on, as long as they’re not hurting anybody, I’m going let them be. I’m going to stop giving dickheads the time of day. Ultimately, their opinions and actions DON’T MATTER and won’t matter in a week’s time. I just need to think about those hills and maybe, whether or not I’m the dickhead.

Simple, huh? We’ll see.

Paranoid Android

A quickie! I’m having a creative slump AGAIN so can’t be arsed to get into regular posting at the moment, even though I’ve got shed loads of reviews piling up.

I’ll get to them at the weekend I guess.

It’s just sometimes life is hard and I feel tired and slightly depressed. Not enough not to function but enough to know I’m not myself. I’m also doubting myself a lot and I hate this feeling the most.

There’s a lot to look forward to this weekend though, I’ve got a London trip with eleven girls to look forward to on Friday. It’s not my usual scene a group that big but I enjoy every one of them, so it’s going to be fun.

Last weekend we went to a Mormon wedding and it was gorgeous, so full of love and generosity. And the groom, my work bestie Josh, asked me to be his witness. Hashtag blessed to be part of his history, officially.

I’m trying to hold on to all the beauty in my life. I know I’m loved and I’m lucky and I have my health and a roof over my head. What use is there worrying I’m not good enough? I’m good enough to sign a wedding register, I can get through this week. I can get through anything – the rest of this year, Brexit, global warming – this life. I have to keep telling myself that.

I’ll shake it off and be back to normal service soon. Just give me a minute.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

8 Years

It doesn’t seem possible but this time, eight years ago I was getting ready to begin my new life with a comedy name. I wasn’t nervous, not about the impending nuptials or about committing my life to one person – I was more anxious about my guests not throttling each other.

Now I’ve been married to my greatest mate for eight years and it feels massive – not an achievement in the traditional sense but something to be proud of

Marriage isn’t and shouldn’t be for everyone – there’s no reason it should be the only end game for a person when there are so many cool things to see and do in life. Obviously it’s also fine if it is. For me it was never on my list, along with motherhood but it just works.

So here’s to eight years with the kindest person I’ve ever known. The one person who sees all of me, the good and the very bad, who’s always there to tell me we’ll deal with anything and everything together.

He is my fool and the strong hand when I need it – and most of all he makes me feel at peace, with myself and with the life we have. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Here’s to eighty more.

Mrs C. Bass, over and out xoxo