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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The stories I tell myself

I had the most inspiring conversation with my chief executive yesterday. It’s left me with so much to ponder that I’m left thinking about it (and feel called to talk about it) at 3am as I’m awake feeding and holding my son.

I’m sat here in appreciative thanks and gratitude that I’m in a role where I get time and insight into someone I see as deeply inspirational and wise. That I have the opportunity to learn from his wisdom and that I even get some of his time is not something I take for granted. It’s a privilege.

He’s the one who let me borrow the book ‘presence’ which I wrote about recently. And he is the one who yesterday articulated what I’ve sensed myself for a while:

The only thing that will hold you back is the stories you tell yourself

  • The story that I’m not good enough
  • The story that I can’t lead because of so many reasons – my call to explore and share my vulnerability, not having a ‘business’ background, not being the finished product
  • The story that intrinsically being who I am (female, with a big heart, someone who cares, with a background of sometimes poor mental health) sets me up to have less impact on the world
  • The story that I’m 34, it’s too late for me to start something big in life
  • The story that I have to choose between being a great mum and making a difference in this world
  • The story that I’m only as good as my most recent mistake
  • The story that people will realise that I’m an imposter
  • The story that I’m only as good as how much people like me
  • The story that the deep work I do here will hold me back professionally
  • The story that being vulnerable and real is weak
  • Uncovering and vocalising these things – areas that have more or less weight in my life at different times (sometimes on a minute by minute basis) – shows them for what they are.
  • Just stories.
  • Stories that could influence and impact my life. Or stories I could realise are not reality and gently let go of.
  • It’s what I’m doing as I receive coaching on a fortnightly basis. Uncovering these stories and letting them go.
  • And it’s what I’m offering to the wonderful people I have the honour to coach myself.
  • We all have stories we tell ourselves – it’s only these stories that have the power to hold us back.
  • Good enough

    I’m currently sat in the kitchen with the mess of unpacking from our family mega-adventure around me and am thinking about the imminent changes in my life. The main one being that I’m going back to work in less than a week (less than a week!!!!!!!!), leaving my son in my husband’s care.

    Geez, where did those six months go?! Six months which, at times, felt interminable. Six months that I loved and struggled with and where I poured my heart and soul into this new little creature of mine.

    As I’m sat here contemplating the upcoming changes to my life, the one thing that sticks in my mind is ‘your best needs to be good enough’.

    This thought has been milling around for a while. Since I wrote the post about not feeling I could call myself a vegan anymore because of the leather sandals I bought myself in a pre-travel frantic dash around town and the eggs I eat. I was so grateful by the replies I received from people who read this blog of mine saying that I was being to hard on myself and reminding me that being vegan is about attempting to exclude animal exploitation as much as possible (that’s how the Vegan Society defines a vegan lifestyle).

    And I found myself face-to-face with my perfectionism. Again. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Judging myself unless I am able to reach a standard of perfection. Which is impossible as I am human, not super-human.

    What if I hadn’t bought those sandals and didn’t eat those eggs? I’d probably have realised that a medication I’ve taken wasn’t vegan and be in the same situation of not being perfect and therefore not being good enough.

    But my best needs to be good enough.

    And this thought that ‘my best needs to be good enough’ again came to mind when I saw the below Brené Brown quote and remembered all the times at work where I was secretly weighed down in the pit of my stomach with fear and shame for not having done something ‘well enough’ (when I had done my best in the given circumstance).

    Times when my plans haven’t gone as well as they could or I’ve received difficult feedback from something I put my heart into. I want my best to be good enough in those circumstances.

    As I find myself on the cusp of going back to work, I know this needs to change. Now being a mother and pulled in different directions – wanting to give my all to my jobs (both my full-time Organisational Development role and my work with coaching clients), having great friends I want to stay in touch with, writing this blog and wanting to be home as soon as possible to spend time with my son and husband – I know that my best needs to be good enough.

    So I will remind myself of this on the days I leave work with not everything done. If I’m home late sometimes or I miss any milestones for Jenson. When I leave texts to friends unanswered for longer than I’d like. When I haven’t posted anything here for over a week.

    I’ll be doing my best and that has to be good enough.

    And in this spirit, I’m going to leave this post here. I know it’s not the most brilliant post, I could review my words and make it more eloquent. But with the time I’ve got, this is my best, and that’s enough. ❤️