Commitments

Happy Sunday everyone! Life feels a little bit unordered as I’m staying in beautiful Wales (photo below!) and so I’m not really that sure what day of the week it is and am enjoying living life without constantly looking at the clock, preparing for the next day or squeezing in bits of time for Jenson, Gregg or myself alongside work and house stuff.

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I thought I’d share with you today the three things I’ve committed to do over the coming months and years. It’s nice to share these commitments with you, dear friend, so that I’ve got a greater incentive to keep them up. I hope they’ll be good food for thought for you too!

Speak my truth

The first one is a commitment to speak my truth. Even when my voice shakes or I feel petrified at speaking up, I’ve committed to speaking up more about what I need or my thoughts about something. It’s led to some really interesting, wonderful results:

  • Telling my dad that I was exhausted and needed his help when him and my mum came to stay. Instead of pretending to be superwoman and focusing on them having a lovely time with Jenson, I reached out and he supported me by coming over early when they stayed to hold Jenson while I could rest and just potter around for a bit.
  • Saying to the people who we are staying in Wales with, who I don’t know very well, that I was going to have an hour tucked in bed, reading. Usually I would feel obliged to socialise, to check that everyone else is having a great time to the detriment of my own needs. It was lovely to have some time of rest and warmth in bed and no-one seemed to mind – it was my fear of what they’d think of me that was stopping me getting what I needed.
  • Voicing to my manager about how I feel caught between my role and my status at work sometimes. Her response, that I should keep on going as I was, means that I feel more at ease day-to-day and less preoccupied by my fears of treading on her toes as I’m ‘below’ her but often work at a higher level.
  • Speaking up about the direction of my role at work has led to some really interesting conversations about the future. It feels great to speak up and potentially be the creator of my own destiny.

Connect to my heart

Since I had the realisation that I struggle to love myself, I’ve been trying to connect more with my heart centre, where this message came from. I purposely want to quieten myself to listen to the wisdom of my heart more often and so I’ve committed to doing this regularly. I’ve got plenty of time to do this as I rock Jenson to sleep in the evening. All it takes is slowing my breathing and stilling the chattering of my mind so I can hear what my heart is telling me.

  • That I am enough just as I am
  • That all will be ok
  • That I am worthy of love and acceptance

Words of love that nourish my soul.

Power

I don’t know if I shared this with you, but I’ve also realised how much I give away my power to people. Not my power at work or at home that I have due to status as professional, wife, daughter or sister, but my internal power which is my anchor. The sort of power that you can feel in your stomach area that you use to stand strong and that you might muster before an interview or a situation where you need to bring it.

During a recent coaching session I realised how much I gave my power away and so I’ve committed to doing that less. Being less agreeable, apologising less (when there’s no reason for saying sorry), stopping myself from trading my power for others’ approval.

I’ll perhaps write about this more in the future, how I’m keeping my own power instead of giving it away.


So there you are – the things I’m currently committed to working on. I’m aware that these areas are long-term, stumble-and-get-back-up-again, tricky stuff. They’ve been with me for so long – giving away my power, ignoring my heart and staying quiet but it doesn’t mean that they have to be with me for the rest of my life.

So here I go, starting now and keen to see what the future brings.

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Stopping shopping #3

I’m 3 months into my non-shopping adventure and wanted to reflect on what I’ve noticed about this experience. For those of you who didn’t read my first and second posts about not shopping, I decided to not buy unneeded stuff (including new clothes, books, cards) and only spend on either things I really need – food, train ticket to get to work, birthday presents – or memories (like a meal out with Gregg, paying to go camping with friends). My intention was to live like this for three months (until today!) but feel already that this is more of a forever lifestyle than a short-term experiment.

When I started on 17 June, I feared that not shopping or buying would feel restrictive and uncomfortable but instead it has felt liberating. With spending off the table, I feel more present. Just like I do when I switch off my phone and decide to just be in the moment.

I have also noticed that I appreciate what I already have so much more than before. Not buying needlessly has made my possessions – my sunglasses, clothes, shoes, bags, books – have more worth to me than when I could replace them without much thought.

It also feels really good to be doing something so practical and proactive to support the environment. It’s lovely to know I’m playing my part in stopping the needless churn of stuff being produced.

I have bought a few things that I could have done without – ben and jerry’s vegan ice cream (it is bloody amazing!) and a new face wash (I’ve got enough micellar water to last me until Easter so didn’t need a new one but was starting to get spots so wanted to get something that would be more targeted towards my skin type).

I’ve also decided that I’m going to slightly relax on not buying coffees at work. I had committed to not buying any during my three months but have found it uncomfortable. It’s often a way that people get stuff done at work in a collegiate way – going to a nearby cafe, buying each other a drink and talking about shared issues and work. I want to be part of this community ritual and if that means spending £20 a month on coffee, that’s ok by me.

On the whole, I’ve now stopped spending and it feels good.

It feels like this is impacting others too. I’ve really appreciated talking to my mum and what this way of being might mean for Christmas – perhaps less stuff being bought, a focus on what people need instead of buying something that I’m not sure the other person will like just to give ‘enough’… It feels nice to consider Christmas in a simpler way – focusing on spending time with the people I love instead of worrying that I haven’t bought enough for people.

I also really appreciated the few days I spent with my auntie last week who made her way down to Brighton to meet Jenson. Agreeing that this time together would be our Christmas and birthday presents this year has taken the pressure off her buying stuff that she’s not sure we’ll like and I’ve valued the time together over any presents we might have bought each other.

So here I am, three months after I stopped shopping, committing to keep living this way of life. It feels good to have a goal, like a little challenge, and so I’m going to try living this way for a year – yes, a year! – until 17 June 2019.

I’m sure I’ll have moments of difficulty, when I want to buy stuff, but I know that I can make this work and I know that it’ll make a difference with savings, with appreciating what I have, with connecting more with people as I ask to borrow things like books instead of buying them myself.

I love the simplicity, how it allows me to have greater presence in the ‘now’ and I love the positive impact I’m having on the planet as I buy less stuff.

Long may it continue!

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Creator of my own destiny

I had another amazing coaching session yesterday morning with my coach. Honestly, if you have something you want to make progress on, I’d really encourage you to get a coach. I can do a free coaching trial session for anyone interested or can link you up with a coach (potentially a free trainee one) if you think that we know each other too well and you wouldn’t feel comfortable working with me. But I’m not here to talk about coaching…I’m here to share what happened in my session. So here I go!

I’ve noticed in myself that I have a propensity for taking on too much of other people’s stuff. With almost a saviour complex (albiet a well-meaning one), I often feel responsible for other people’s happiness. From trying to avoid my parents having arguments when I was younger to taking on responsibility for people enjoying themselves at social events, to trying to bend myself in half to get people to be happy with what I do at work. It’s how I’ve always been.

I want to change but don’t know how.

When talking to my coach about this situation, I couldn’t see how I could be anything other than the two polar opposites that I described as this:

At one end, caring so much that I take on everyone’s stuff and at the other, not giving a damn about anyone or anything. 

We talked about the assumptions I make – that people want to be rescued, that it’s my responsibility to change stuff, that people aren’t able to make changes in their own lives…and it surfaced a thought I’ve been having for quite some time about how so much in life – our education, job hierarchies, the way society works – seems to breed a false impression that we are unable to change our own lives.

You’ve probably known people who hate their job (or you may recognise this in yourself!). They find it boring or think they’re underpaid or are frustrated by it on a daily basis. But they don’t do anything about it. They stay there stuck, moaning, unhappy, resentful of what they have to do.

But it’s not like they’re imprisoned in their job. They could do something to change their situation. They could look for a new job, talk to their manager about changing some of the things they do, start proactively changing how things are done, volunteer to get involved with other stuff at work to mix up their day, cultivate gratitude for what their job does give them (a pay-check, stability, nice co-workers, ability to pay rent/buy food for their family).

I’m not saying this from a privileged place, never having been unsatisfied at work myself. I know how hard this can be. I’ve been stuck in a job for what seemed like far too long whilst I searched for a new one that suited me better. It sometimes seemed agonising but I kept on looking, got some coaching to figure out what I wanted to do, kept on applying for new roles and, in doing so, I took control of my own destiny.

It paid off when I found a role – about six months down the line – that satisfied me more than I could have ever imagined.

In the same way that I did, I believe we can all take charge of our lives and shape them to our liking. We might not get there perfectly every time because of our circumstances (my new role didn’t pay more but was more mentally satisfying) but we can take small steps to improve where we are with every aspect of our lives – our relationships, health, work, money.

We are the creators of our own destinies.

And that is when inspiration struck me and I could see the middle way which was not taking on responsibility for other people’s happiness nor hardening my heart to others. In the following two phrases I outlined how I want to live my life:

I want the best for you and I know you can go out and shape your own life. 

I want the best for me and I know I can go out and shape my own life. 

It brought me such clarity. I want the best for others but my job is not to shape anyone’s life (not that anyone has ever told me they want me to!). My job is to shape my life.

With this knowledge I feel freer, less burdened and hopeful for myself and others. We all have the ability to take steps towards creating a better life for ourselves. It’s up to each and every one of us to look for opportunities and seize any chances that come our way.

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Magazines

My relationship with magazines was one of love when I was younger. I subscribed to ‘Bunty’ magazine and how I loved all the stories and imagination inside. One of my strongest memories from being a child was going on holiday with my family for two weeks (three weekends) and the delight of coming home to discover that I had three (yes, three!) Bunty magazines to read. To pour over, cover to cover and feast upon. I loved it so dearly and I look back on this period of innocence with such fondness.

After Bunty came Mizz. I can still remember stories from its ‘cringe’ section – most prominently a girl who went swimming in a river with a boy she fancied and had a 💩 float into her mouth. It wasn’t the most enlightening read, mostly fashion, gossip and a whole host of quizzes you could do with your friends. On consideration, Mizz was not that bad! A bit like eating a chocolate bar – it had limited nutritional value for the soul – but was nice to consume.

There have been several other magazines that have my love and a fond place in my heart – vegan life which I get monthly and inspires/challenges/provides me with inspiration as I aim to live a life of greater love for the planet and less cruelty towards animals. It’s not a ranty vegan publication but has articles about art, interesting recipes (I recently learnt you can use chickpea flour to create a vegan omelette from its pages and Jenson loves it!) and interesting articles about social affairs.

Positive news is another magazine I’ve recently found. It shares the positive stories that so often get overlooked with the mass media of doom and gloom. Desert wasteland that is becoming green, zero waste pioneers, how the majority of UK voters want to see politicians of different parties collaborating more to solve the issues the UK faces instead of seeing division and fighting between different parties. I don’t subscribe myself to the magazine because of my shopping ban but the few I’ve bought for myself over the years have brought sunshine to my soul.

And then there’s the French magazines I bought in my university years to improve my linguistic skills. Femme Actuelle was the cheapest (and aimed at a very different market of middle-aged housewives!) and so it was the one I bought weekly as a student. It had recipes, articles about cleaning and fashion that I’d never want to wear, but it was harmless and a nice way to learn French.

I started this blog post off wanting to rant at the body-shaming, product-pushing, patriarchy-promoting sham that is female magazines…but I’ve enjoyed remembering that there is some good in the media I’ve consumed.

It just needs to be chosen carefully.

You see, I feel myself have a visceral reaction when I see the magazines left in my work lunchroom. I hate them so much for so many reasons. The gossip they hold about who has gained shocking weight, whose husband is leaving whom, which celebrity looked the best on the red carpet. A different scandal each week.

It makes me so sad that we women are consuming something which breeds hatred to women. That we are judging others with the same judgements that will then boomerang back onto us. How we aren’t thin enough, not rich enough, not good enough at sex, not young enough.

When the truth is that we are all enough. Full stop. We just are.

I’m not writing this to judge anyone who reads these magazines (although it might sound like it!). I understand wanting to get away from the world for a few moments, loving the fashion, enjoying a bit of schadenfreude, pleasure at someone else’s misfortune.

I feel angry at their very existence.

So there you are, my thoughts about magazines. They can be good, they can be bad, a lot of them are ugly to the core. I wish we would collectively stop buying the mean, women-hating, product-pushing ones so they would cease to exist. But all I can do is my part…not buying them, ignoring them and instead send out love into the world.

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What he’s teaching me…

My little peanut is almost eight months old. I can’t believe it! He’s nearly been out in the world for longer than he was inside me growing. At times these eight months have seemed like a life sentence (sorry Jenson, but it’s true!) with sleep deprivation, inexplicable crying and endless rounds of nursery rhymes and distraction techniques to soothe him. But at times I look back and think “how can he already be two thirds of his way through his first year?!”.

One thing is for sure – he’s my biggest teacher. One I didn’t know I needed and couldn’t have planned for when he made his appearance known to me.

I was lying in bed yesterday morning, looking at my sweet boy as he slept next to me and I thought of all the things he’s teaching me…and here are the three things that spring to mind most keenly.

Patience

Oh I’ve had to be patient so often with my little one in these first eight months. When he’s up at 5:30 on most days and I want to shout to the heavens “why will my baby not sleep past daybreak?!?”. When he’s crying and I can do nothing to settle him. When I’m feeling a bit under the weather but have to bring it for him. When I cook a lovely meal for him only to have it rejected. When he wanted to be held in my arms to sleep for the first six months of his life.

Patience, he’s teaching me to have a bucketful of patience.

I’m sure there will come a day when I snap at him, yell with frustration and scream to who-knows-what about what a difficult life it is to be a parent, but for now I feel like my little guy is teaching me slowly what it means to have patience. The importance of taking a deep breath, the ability to look at the bright side of things I’m finding challenging (never have my days been so long with the early starts!), the joy of having him which makes up for all the inconveniences of parenthood.

He’s teaching me to go with the flow and let go of every notion of control I had before.

Presence

I’ve always been a planner. I’m first in line (or maybe a high second place) to plan my sister’s wedding when she meets Mr Right. I know where I’d like to be in 3 years time. I’m always looking ahead.

Too much sometimes.

And I quickly discovered that my little boy is the medicinal tonic to my future focus. He calls me to stay firmly in the present with him. Especially when I’m on my phone – how he hates it when I’m glued to the screen!

He drags me firmly into the land of now as we explore the world around us. Time speeds past as we examine our reflections in a doorknob, splash around in the bath, laugh at games we play together. When we’re together, there’s no thoughts of work or relationships or anything other than being with him.

And it’s beautiful.

Sometimes it’s frustrating too (see above for the patience he’s building in me!) as I want to gallop away to plan future stuff. But for the most part, being called to be present with him is a reprieve from how I’ve learnt to (dis)function and it’s brought so much peace to my life.

Some people pay hundreds of pounds on a retreat and in yoga or meditation classes to learn how to stay present…but I’m learning it from my baby who seems to be a natural, my own little mindfulness guru.

A different path

Becoming a mum has shown me what is truly important in life – my family, having a job that stretches me, being able to travel and explore this world. But it has also thrown so much up in the air for me as I question how I can contribute more, how I can leave this world in a better state for my boy and those who are growing up with him.

I can’t just go to work and return to be with him. It’s not my path to just do my job and return home to pour everything into my son. I feel the call to contribute more.

The weight of responsibility of being his mum has made me discover the responsibility of being a citizen of the world and has started me questioning what this means to me. Whether it’s playing a part in reforming local government and politics, the medical system, the environment or the education system, I feel something developing. A path just out of sight beyond my vision that I know I’m going to tread at some point in the future.

He has shifted my priorities and shown me a new path I never thought possible.


So here’s to my boy as he’s on the cusp of eight months old. I can’t imagine my life without him.

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Why don’t you let me love you?

I want to share something with you today which was a really powerful experience. It happened when I was being coached this morning as part of my fortnightly commitment to being coached myself. As a coach, it’s something I think is really important for me to do. To practice what I preach and get support to reflect and continually grow and develop.

This morning I was talking about how I sometimes feel so frustrated to still be on this journey to ‘enoughness’. Still, 20+ years into discovering how I might feel fully enough, fully acceptable in myself I feel that I should be there by now. I should be able to feel grounded and accepting of myself, regardless of what anyone else thinks about me. I should know that I am enough. I should know in each and every circumstance that I am worthy of love and acceptance.

But I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made great leaps in this area. I’ve stopped people pleasing so much and am now aware when I choose to engage in this behaviour. I’ve learnt to pay more attention to what is going on with me than what I think other people are thinking about me.

And yet I feel that I’m still not quite there (and sometimes feel that I’m far away from being there).

It makes me so frustrated.

I was talking about this with my coach today and we decided to spend some time tapping into my heart about this subject. Because this frustration seems to come from my brain. The part of me which says ‘you’ve worked on this for so long, it should be fixed‘ and ‘you’ve read so much about this and know the theory, why aren’t you able to be fully accepting of yourself all the time?‘.

So I stilled myself and asked my heart what was going on and I sensed that deep inside me is the longing to rock and cradle myself just as I soothe and cherish Jenson, my son. I saw this deep part of me singing Marvin Gaye’s ‘how sweet it is to be loved by you’ to me. I felt the possibility of boundless safety and security and love.

And then a great wave of sadness and grief washed over me and I heart these words –

“why won’t you let me love you?”

I felt such sadness for the angry words of criticism I speak over myself. I felt grief for the judgement I put on myself for my size, my shape, my body. I felt loss for the disregard I have for my feelings and my experiences. And I cried for myself in that moment.

Why won’t I let myself love me?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself all day and I’ve been imagining what it might look like to let me love myself and I’ve felt what I can only describe as a blossoming of my heart and an awareness of what looks like to love myself as I’ve gone through my day. I wanted to share this with you, dear one, in the hope that my revelations can help or encourage you too:

Running late for a meet-up with a friend, berating myself for being over 90 minutes late due to Jenson’s nap, I knew that loving myself meant taking deep breaths and appreciating the view of the sea I was cycling past to get to herself instead of having a mental stream of anxiety and annoyance at my shortcomings.

It meant having an honest and open conversation with my husband about something personal I’ve been grappling with for a while instead of holding it in and shutting him out. Because I was worth him hearing what’s going on for me.

As I saw my body in the bath I shared with Jenson tonight, I knew it would mean seeing myself with such love and joy – the same way I feel when I see my son, roley-poley body and all. Knowing that my body is just an encasement of something much more – my soul, my essence – and letting my love for the ‘more’ fill my heart to the brim.

There is the possibility of such joy, such acceptance, such peace if I let myself love myself. This feels like a path I want to walk, a future unfolding within myself, a journey to letting myself love me.

And I hope, if you grapple with any of these things I’ve mentioned, that you can start loving yourself for you too.

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Have I…?

I was sat in my living room tonight, just relaxing while my husband got us a little pudding to eat. Instead of busying myself – reading, texting or doing something or other – I just sat and breathed deeply, observing what was going on for me.

And I realised in that moment that some part of me still judges a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day based on what I’ve eaten. A vestige of my days ruled by disordered eating.

I knew it wasn’t a way that I want to live. For I know that I am so much more than what I eat or don’t eat. And so I asked myself what other measure I’d like to have for deciding how I felt about my day…and the following questions came into my mind:

  • Have I tried my best today?
  • Have I been the best mum I could possibly be?
  • Have I been the best wife I could possibly be?
  • Have I treated myself with as much kindness as I could possibly show myself?

And in that moment I knew that I could say ‘yes’ to the above. I had done my best at work, I had been the best mum I could be – patient, loving, encouraging, I had been the best wife I could be – grateful, loving, helpful, and I had shown myself kindness. Especially in the act of redefining how I want to measure myself and my success.

Not focusing on what I had eaten – an arbitrary amount that I’ll forget in a few days. Not focusing on what size I am – something that isn’t a reflection of the the size of my heart, the speed of my brain or the measure of my courage.

Instead judging myself with kindness and care.

Today has been a good day.

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Speciesism

The first time I heard the word ‘speciesism’ I was a few years into being vegan (albeit a very ‘off-and-on-the-wagon’ kind of vegan). I thought it was a bit ridiculous.

Speciesism: the practice of treating members of different species as morally more important than other species; and the belief that this practice is justified.

I believed that animals were in a different category to humans. Less developed, less intelligent, less important. I was vegan because of the environmental impact of meat/dairy production and also because it was a diet that suited me well. Veganism had moved my relationship with food from an up-and-down rollercoaster to one of nourishing myself with lots of whole foods. It suited me and I finally came to a place where I was no longer yo-yo-ing between 4 different clothing sizes and body shapes over the course of a year. Veganism had helped me to find a kinder way to eat for myself.

But this belief, that animals are in a different category to humans, has changed for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a bananas animal lover. I think puppies are cute and Planet Earth was an amazing view into nature which filled me with awe. But I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a house full of hairy, smelly, loud animal creatures (I have my own already with Gregg and Jenson 😜).

However, I can see speciesism in action more and more…and I think it’s destroying our planet and causing such pain and suffering.

We’re destroying our forests – home to countless animals, birds and insects – so that we can have more stuff. More of the food we want, more stuff, more land. It’s rarely considered that this isn’t just our land – it’s the land of these animals too (cue me feeling like Pocahontas!).

We use animals for the testing of cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals and industrial/agro-chemicals because their pain and deaths are not important. We could use more human cells or cell lines for testing – which would ultimately be more effective, but this would take investment and currently animals are the easier, default choice for many. A choice that brings suffering to around 115 million animals per year.

We have practices for getting milk which are, to me, inhumane. Repeatedly impregnating cows and separating them from their calves often less than 24 hours after the birth to get as much milk for ourselves as possible. A practice that leads to obvious distress from both mother and baby. Hearing the cries in a recent film I watched (called land of hope and glory) was truly disturbing to me when I considered the pain I’d have gone through if Jenson had been taken from me on day one and only brought back once a day to be fed.

But it’s a cow, not a human, so it’s ok?

Being driven by the ‘need’ for affordable meat, eggs and dairy to the point where our farming practices often cause animals to suffer during their lives. The boy baby chicks who are ground up alive in their first moments in this world because they have no worth to us – they can’t lay eggs and don’t plump up nicely to be eaten.

They have no value?

And the slaughterhouse practices where the turn around and churn of animals is so quick that often animals aren’t stunned properly and so are conscious when their throats are cut and as they bleed out.

Our desire for meat is more important than their death?

I suppose that ultimately I don’t want another creature to die in order for me to have something enjoyable to eat. The mistreatment of baby cows so I can have milk in my coffee. The painful testing of animals so I can enjoy a better mascara. The death of baby chicks so I can have cheap eggs.

And as I write this, I can hear others speak about the medicines that are only available because of the animals that have been tested upon. And not all animals are treated as described above. Some farmers treat their animals with love and respect before sending them to be killed. Some calves have more time with their mothers.

And what’s the other option? Cows, chicks and other animals not being born because we no longer need them? Yes. That would be preferable to animals experiencing pain and suffering during their short lives on earth.

We use animals as a commodity, when I believe we are morally no more important than they are. Just as I believe that men are no more important than women. Just as I believe that caucasians are no more important than people of black or ethnic minorities.

And since I’ve found my eyes open to this truth – that we are equal – I understand vegans who can’t stand to sit around a table laden with meat and dairy products. Not because of being righteous and self-satisfied smug buggers who want their way or the highway. Because when I look at meat sizzling on a barbecue, or when I see cheese, milk, cream, I see the suffering that these products have come from. I can avert my mind from it, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so.

And so I’m sharing my thoughts with you, dear friend, even though I might lose some of you as readers if you disagree and are affronted by my opinions. Because it’s too important for me to ignore. Not to divide me from you, but to start a conversation. To hear from you. To ponder on what I’m seeing and explore what this might mean for my life.

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Now is the time

I’ve been hearing for a number of years about scary environmental things, like how ‘overshoot day’ (when we use all the resources the earth can regenerate in a year) was 1 August this year, how bees (crucial to pollinate and enable our food to grow) are on a teetering path towards extinction and how we’re 1 degree away from a planetary domino effect which would render much of our planet inhabitable.

I’ve got to be honest, it scares the fuck out of me.

I look at my son and am desperate to ensure that he has a planet to live on which isn’t plagued by famine, lack of land as the water level rises (because of polar ice melting) and drought.

Instead of retreating into myself and consuming a vast quantity of chocolate to placate myself, I’m going to be vocal about it.

I feel heavy of heart but also propelled to act, to shout to everyone about it.

We must to do something about this.

Each and every one of us.

Individually and collectively. We must take action, whatever we can. You must take action, whatever you can. I must take action, whatever I can.

It could be:

  • going without a car where possible,
  • eating less meat and dairy (the second biggest cause of climate change),
  • putting on a jumper before you turn on the heating (hard to think about in the summer!)
  • not buying food made with unsustainable palm oil (responsible for mass deforestation of the amazon rainforest – our planet’s lungs),
  • taking plastic bags to the shops instead of buying new ones,
  • buying less ‘new’ stuff
  • stopping using chemical cleaners and returning to old, kinder methods (like vinegar instead of bleach)
  • opting to refill products to use less plastic

There are so many choices we can make. Overshoot day has some interesting thoughts too – see here)

Yes, it needs heavy legislation from the government to stop the practices that damage the planet on a large scale – a ban on non-sustainable palm oil, financial aid to allow farmers to switch from dairy/meat industry to more sustainable practices, heavy taxes on the production of single-use plastic…

But to say that it’s all down to legislation (that individual, small actions can’t lead to mass change) is shedding ourselves of our responsibility to this planet and future generations.

Putting the blood of future generations on our hands.

So I invite you to stand with me in whatever way you can – if that’s opting for one of the choices above, joining in the debate about what else is possible, sharing this post on social media to get the message out to more people…we need to act collectively and individually.

Now is the time.

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Radical

I’ve been writing a few blog posts recently but they’ve not been flowing as they usually do so I’ve taken a bit of time out and hope you will forgive me, friend, for my lack of presence here.

I’ve got a window of time to myself as Gregg and Jenson play in the front room together and so wanted to quickly write about ‘Dietland’, a programme I’ve been watching in the evenings and have thoroughly enjoyed. It’s an adaptation of a book about a story of an overweight woman who finds her voice and acceptance of the body she is in as she awakens to the patriarchal messages which has caused her body shame – the need to be thin to be desirable.

I’m aware that it’s not a perfect show – the cast are mostly model-esque and it gets a bit ridiculous as the show progresses. But I really and truly enjoyed how it made me question so many parts of our society that so often go unquestioned. Why we make judgements based on woman’s looks. Patriarchal power and what it would take to have a balanced share of power. How women (have to/choose to?) alter their behaviour to be more palatable to men. All areas that interest me.

And this quote (or at least it went something like this), oh, how I love it:

“What’s more radical than a woman who accepts her body”

I’m aware that I have quite a conventional, slender body. A few curvy areas and a body that has been marked by motherhood, but as UK size 12, I’m quite ‘acceptable’. And I’ve done so much work to love and accept myself and my body exactly as I am. But I still get doubts when I look at myself at times and find myself lacking. I still tend to base part of my worth on my size. I still for some reason feel more desirable when I’m smaller.

Is it because I was told (by society/myself/peers) that my body is what matters over everything else?

Is my worth as a woman judged primarily by what I look like?

Could I radically accept my body? And if so, what would that look like? It might lead to less waxing and shaving and tweezing (a topic that made me pause and think when a friend blogged about it herself recently). It might lead to letting my grey hair grow instead of covering them up with dye. And it might lead to me getting rid of some clothes that fit me but are uncomfy.

But it’s so hard to unravel what I do for me (I like my hait a uniform colour, but is that because I’ve received the message that ‘grey=ugly’ externally? Many men don’t dye their hair when going grey) and what I do because of external messages I’ve received?

So I’m left loving considering what it would be like to radically accept my body as it is. I’ve got a cobbled together, mostly functioning acceptance of my body and so I have experience of the freedom it is to love myself unconditionally. Living like this but ramped up – fully accepting, fully loving, never doubting – sounds like bliss.

And so while I’m not able to totally unravel what that looks like, I’ll sit with the idea, ponder on these thoughts and see where it takes me.

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