Life Update: September Edition

I thought I’d free flow a life update because I don’t really do that enough – and even though I often struggle to think about anything interesting I’ve been doing, that’s not really the point. We’re being real here and have to learn to take the mundane with the exciting.

So… how the fucking fuck is it already not just September but MID September? This year has flown by. I mean, I’m not too mad when Autumn is unfolding before me and The Best Month Ever™ is just round the corner but you know what I mean. Where does the time go, etc., etc. It is actually frightening how quickly the days slip through our fingers but then again what isn’t terrifying at the moment? October may celebrate the spookiest holiday but we’ve got a Brexit deadline looming and I can’t deny I’d rather take on Fred Krueger than leave the EU. At least Freddy doesn’t extend his intention to slash you in your dreams for months on end. At least Freddy isn’t a Tory.

I didn’t come here to talk shakily about politics though, don’t worry. I’m merely saying that there’s discourse in the air and no amount of burying my head in the sand is going to change it – I’m scared and we’re fucked. But being fucked can bring positivity – it means we focus on the things that really matter such as loved ones and down time – and new shampoo. I’ve just bought a new one from Herbal Essences which is made with bourbon and Manuka honey. How lush does that sound? I can’t wait to soak it into my frizzy head tonight.

I’m currently reading Agatha Christie to usher in the colder nights and it’s the perfect combo – the deep conditioner, the book and the hot bath. These are the simple things that bring me joy and make me feel grateful I have the basic things we need to live. These are the photogenic self-care acts that we all talk about on social media. These are the things that help but aren’t the ultimate cure because we all need more than expensive bubble bath and crime novels. We need love and understanding and space and time – but it’s a start.

I’ve dragged myself over the coals quite a lot already this month. I’ve as usual taken on too much and failed at everything (in my head) so I’ve had to really assess my extra-curricular activities and chop a few things for a while. The podcast for example is now on hold until the New Year – after which we might bring in back in a different guise. I’m sad not to be doing it right now but I’m also excited for the future. The Wicca is my main focus at the moment. I’m really enjoying reading and getting into it – no spells yet but I’m desperate to get cracking on them. The diploma is going well and so far I am at 100% grade. Again, I know the real learning is off book and in the real world – and that the rest of my life can be dedicated to honing my skills and living my best witch life.

In the New Year I am also going to start looking for something new to do for a living. I have loved my current job and get to work with a plethora of incredible people but I’ve just celebrated my second year and I’m starting to feel uninspired. All in all things are okay and when they’re not I have an idea of how to make them better. I can’t complain, I have everything I need.

How are you?

Free Activities July

I’ve grossly overspent this month so have already put myself on the back foot come pay day. I know I have a shopping addiction but I have tried really hard to curb that by sending most of it back and just not looking at my favourite websites. But life is expensive and I also live in one of the most pricey cities in the UK so spare cash is sometimes a bit of a joke.

Instead of crying about it though I’ve decided to challenge myself to Free Activities July to try and keep my head up. I can’t be sipping cocktails in the hottest bar this month, it’s fabulous of course but hugely irresponsible. (Lol at the idea that I do this regularly anyway).

If any of my local friends read this, I’d love to see you but we’ll have to do something free or incredibly thrifty. I’m thinking long heart to hearts in the park or on the beach, dinners at each other’s houses and soda water in beer gardens.

I’m also going to spend as much time as I can on creative endeavours – lots of blogging and podcasting, lots of dreaming – and also I’ve just about to embark on an exciting new project/course which I am really keen to start sharing with you guys. It’s something that has always interested me and now I get to study it in a bit more depth.

I really feel I need ‘something more’ at the moment so the timing of this course is perfect.

So yes, expect a lot of activity around these parts as I stay in a lot or do more creative things with my time and energy. Being all boujee is not an option. If you know me though you’ll know that I’m actually not-so-secretly pleased about staying in more. Like I need an excuse.

How’s your July looking?

Unpretty

I recently downloaded not one but two new apps onto my phone. Nothing new there, most of our lives are more or less managed with a cheeky app or two – but these are for photo editing. Which is fine in itself but after spending a good hour the other night doing ‘minor touch-ups’ to a selfie, I had to stop and have a word with myself.

You’re going to have to excuse this self-indulgent post, I’m afraid. I’m about to bang on for a while.

I’m not against photo tweaking in theory. I’m the queen of touching up a spot or two and choosing a damn good filter. I’m forever adjusting the lighting. This is deemed the new norm in our Instagram world and I’m all for it, as long as we’re honest about it. Life isn’t (always) like the images we use to paint a positive life. If I were being honest, my grid would be full of me lying naked and puffy in bed, avoiding the world.

The addition of these apps to my life is different because I’ve been leaning on them far too heavily. I’ve been changing the shape of my face, tightening my jawline – thinning my nose. More than that, the app can give you the perfect winged liner, eyeshadow and lashes for days – technically you’d never have to put on a face again. But it feels false and it goes deeper than just tweaking a few things ever so slightly – I look like a doll version of myself and it’s creepier than Annabelle*.

The reality is: it’s time for me to admit that I’m not pretty.

Before you say something nice to make me feel better, I know I have some *okay* features and can scrub up when I need to. I also know that ugly girls are never really ugly girls. As the man himself once said:

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl

Idealistic I know but there’s truth in that statement. However, it’s time for me to come to terms with how I really look.

My lovely friend took and posted a video of me on Instagram at the weekend and secretly, watching it back on my own later, I was devastated. I look awful, all chins and bad skin. But really, so what? I was pissing about in the park with a friend and he cut the video to the chorus of Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry (my favourite song of all time). My hair looks good and I’m wearing my favourite outfit. Above all else, I’m having a laugh.

So I’m not beautiful like my friend, who looks like Bambi’s girlfriend on her very best day – I’m still loved and lovable and cool. I have never been beautiful and my life was never meant to be lived like a drop dead gorgeous person – if anything, perhaps I’m lucky?

I am sure I don’t have to worry about half the things my fit friends do. I mean, that sounds cavalier because all women have experiences of being harassed or made to feel uncomfortable – and it seldom has anything to do with looks. But I have been around seriously good-looking women who are treated differently to me. It looks tiring.

If I can truly accept that I’m no looker and tell the world, “I’m ugly and proud” then maybe I’ll be happier? I’m tired of kidding myself.

It’s much easier said than done though, isn’t it? I’ve recently talked about making more effort with my appearance which is quite contradictory to what I’m saying here. Or is it?

I mean, taking pride in my appearance as self-care is different altogether to trying to conceal how ugly I am. There’s not enough highlighter or eyeliner in the world to polish this turd – if anything, it makes me look even worse. I can have fun with it though for the sake of how it makes me feel. Accepting my ugliness has nothing to do with letting myself go.

Really accepting one’s self is a delicate balancing act – on one hand, accepting that I’ll never be a knock out is quite liberating. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me as long as I’m happy and feeling myself – and I am under no obligation to be pretty and shiny. I don’t need validation from others in the way I did when I was 21 either, though yes it is nice when someone compliments you.

But on the other, man this world is cold and harsh at the best of times – and it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others or covert what they have. A thigh gap, bigger eyes, perkier boobs.

I can’t do it anymore, I need to step away from the Photoshopping apps. I’m deleting them as soon as I finish this post. If I don’t, who knows where it will end? I’ll be Edvard Munch’s The Scream with four inch eyelashes.

From now on, I accept it: I’m not pretty, and that’s a) a fact and b) totally, honestly okay.

*This is absolutely no shade to anyone who edits their photos. Many of my friends are pros at it, and I respect it.

(All images by Juno Calypso)

Maximum Effort

So much of my mental health is tied up in how I look. In the sense that when I feel I look good, it makes me feel better and stronger – and when I’m not looking my best, it drags me down. It’s a vicious cycle because on the flip side, if I’m down or not myself, I’m less inclined to slap on my face.

Women are screwed either way. This is something we’ve always known. If we spend too much time on our appearances, men are the first ones to remind us they like the ‘natural look’. We’re called narcissistic, vain – but when we don’t brush our hair and skip the concealer, we’re hideous hags with no value in this world. Worse sometimes, we’re completely invisible.

Of course it’s exhausting and unjust – but it’s nothing new. I try not to let it get me down but it still does, especially as I grow older. I don’t remember the moral of this post, it’s just a stream of consciousness running through my head at the moment. I think I’ve said before that not a day goes by I’m not preoccupied with the way I look – whether it’s my body, my hair – my face. It’s always a spectre on the horizon – staring at me. Do we all feel this way?

Anyway, I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and it was worse than ever. Hair like straw, fringe in need of a damn good trim, dull skin – with yesterday’s make-up crusted around the eyes. I put a comb through my hair and washed my face but this is not how I wish to present. This isn’t me – and you know what, it’s not acceptable that I’m too tired every day to make an effort. I’m not doing this for anyone but myself but here and no I vow to put my face on and prioritise my self-care.

Tonight I’m going to do a pink clay mask and deep condition my hair – once I’ve taken off today’s slap-dash eyeliner. I’ll get a trim tomorrow and I’m getting my nails done on Friday.

I’m getting back in the game.

One Week In

We’re a week into 2019 and I could really do with a week off. I’ve managed to drag my worn old carcass out walking a bit, one of the few non-resolutions I’ve made. I’ve been the laziest toad this Winter, getting the bus every evening instead of doing the 20 minute walk to my flat. It’s amazing what you can blame on the cold and darkness if you have to.

I don’t really have much to share in this catch up post. Life has been ticking along. The office is rife with diet chat and I want to chew my own arm off in protest. I don’t care if you’re ‘being good’, Linda – leave me out of it.

I’m here in the first week feeling like something needs to happen. I want to make changes, to salivate with possibility again (there’s an image for you). I’m a scaredy cat though in so many ways and I don’t want to be that way anymore, I want to take risks like I used to. Perhaps I should be looking for another job. The one I have is lovely and I like what I do but is it the right one? I chose it because I was so wounded by the last one and it’s been nearly 18 months now. I’m not even saying I want to leave the company, I love it here – I just know I need to push myself harder. So I’m going to find a way to do that.

This year I just want to surround myself with decent people and be happy. Get a grip on my self-doubt and find a way to soar. Isn’t that a great goal? I think I also need to start throwing away a lot of the old shit that weighs me down. The things that don’t bring me joy, as Marie Kondo would say.

See this is the thing about January, it’s so devoid of things to look forward to (unless you make it), that you’ve no choice but to sit in gazing at your own navel. It’s a good and bad thing, equally.

How’s your New Year so far?

No Resolution(s)

I’m not making proper resolutions this year, I’m just going to be kind to myself in 2019 and write. I’m going to write so much that my fingers fall off.

I really don’t like New Year at all but even I can’t deny there’s a certain tingly sensation associated with starting afresh. Autumn is my rebirth season as I’ve mentioned before but the new year does bring with it new diaries and fresh pages – and I can’t help but think this time might be different. Perhaps I will learn to speak Mandarin in 2019, you don’t know, it could happen. (It’s not going to happen).

Maybe I will stop shopping, save a load of money and sink it into a future business, maybe I’ll visit Japan and fall in love with it and stay there forever, swirling endlessly beneath the falling cherry blossoms.

Or maybe I’ll just read a lot and watch a lot of films like I did last year and be more than content. All I do know is that I am so happy to be hibernating for the rest of the year and well into February. In fact I don’t have any wild plans until Valentine’s day when my love and I go to London to hang out with Neneh Cherry (she’s totes going to want to after spotting me in the crowd at the Camden Roundhouse in a t-shirt with her face on it).

I’ve never needed to nest more. December burnt me out (can you relate, I think we all can), not just with all Christmas had to offer but I took a lot on at work too. It’s going well but I want to keep the momentum going so I’m giving myself space to focus on it. I can’t wait to get creative again either, to get back to the Collab and to the podcast with a fresh eye.

So no time for resolutions, just nice things. Fuck knows what 2019 will bring. Things are scary in this country at the moment, so much so that I almost can’t stand it. Burying my head in the sand can only take me so far – all we can do now is face the year head on and take it one day at a time. That’s as close as I’ll get to political talk on the blog, don’t worry.

Whatever you’re doing, whatever your resolutions may be or your goals, I support you. I hope 2019 brings you untold joy and minimal stress.

And thanks for reading ❤