15 December 2020

The Battle of the Breasts

 This post was inspired by the Twitter account: Wild Woman Writing Club

 I saw this tweet today and made my think about the tumultuous relationship I have had with my female body over the years.  I don't hate my body.  Now.  But I have wished that everything about it could be different.  I have cursed it.  I have hurt it.  I have never loved it.  But now, I feel that my body and I have finally become friends.

I don't think that I even thought for a second about my body, the size of it, the shape of it, or even what I looked like until I started primary school.  Before that I had been safe in the cocoon of my immediate family and the elderly neighbours that lived on our street. I knew, because I was told, that I looked like my mother; but other than that I did not have a care in the world in that respect.

Primary school taught me that I was "pudgy", the teacher called it.  My  mum told me that it was just baby fat (which it was) and to ignore the teasing and being picked on that had started after my teacher pointed my difference out.  (Thanks Mrs Ogden, two thumbs up).

A boy in another class was "pudgy" too.  He was not teased or picked on.  It wasn't the same apparently. That was the first time I learned that girls were held to a different standard than boys.  Even when they are five.

The baby fat disappeared but at around ten, my body threw me a curve I wasn't expecting.  Not yet.  Not so soon.  I wasn't ready.  I am not sure how you can be readied for it.

My body shape started to change and I started to grow breasts.  My child's clothing was now at odds with the shapes and curves that were appearing. 

Overnight it seemed grown men looked at me in a way that I was not used to and did not understand, other than to know it felt wrong.  I couldn't go on my own to the local park anymore because a group of older boys had noticed my blossoming breasts and cornered me on the roundabout; pointing my early development and asking if they could "cop a feel".  

I felt like my breasts had stolen the childhood that I was not ready to leave.  My growing female body set me apart from my female peers and I was jealous of them and their flat chests.  Some of the boys noticed and I learned to stay away from some.  The innocent "kiss chase" game I had once participated in without a thought, became something I knew to stay away from.

Moving to high school, I was the only girl, in certainly the first two years, to have breasts.  It definately set me apart.  In a way I did not want, when I all I wanted was so desperately to fit in.  Attention from men also increased.  I hated it.

Coming into my third year and other girls started to develop too, making me more normal again.  Able to blend more into the crowd.  Yet mine were still bigger and were a figment of fun.  I gained a nickname which I won't repeat here, but it was related to the size and shape of my breasts.

I still hated my breasts and resented the boys that were allowed to grow up normally, without a body part being the thing that they were known for.  

For around six months when I was 15, I was attacked by three boys at the bus stop at the end of school, every, single, day.  Throwing me down to the small rise of grass next to the bus stop, grabbing my breasts.  I remember the fear.  The embarrassment.  The wondering of why, on a main road, no one ever stopped to help me.  I was invisible.  It felt like because of my adult, larger breasts, it was somehow allowed.  Accepted.

I remember telling a teacher and being told that "boys will be boys".  Something about male hormones and a suggestion to wear a larger shirt.  I didn't tell my parents.  I was too ashamed.  I felt that it was my fault.

It stopped eventually, because I paid them to stop.  A packet of cigarettes.  They and I acted like nothing had ever happened afterwards.  I think that was when I began to feel like my breasts were intrinsically linked with my self worth.  I had paid them to stop, my breasts had become a commodity to trade.

Now, I weep for my 15 year old self.  The question still rolls around in my head.  So many cars passed by each day.  The drivers, the passengers, so many must have seen.  Why did no one ever stop?  Did I matter so little?  Did they think I encouraged the assaults?  Back then, I could only conclude that I did.

Fast forward a few years and I was a larger girl, with the larger breasts.  My self worth had plummeted to a level that my breasts were the only commodity I could use to attract the attention of boys that I then desperately craved.   Their attention, no matter how depraved, how wrong, made me feel like, for that moment, I wasn't invisible.  I was, in that moment, worth just a tiny bit.

I think the thing I am most ashamed of is that in those years, I met again one of the boys who had accosted me so many times at school.  I slept with him.  Now I cannot believe that my self worth had sunk so low that I would allow that to happen.  To court it.  Jesus Christ.

The self harming I did back then I now realise was a punishment to myself for what I allowed, and encouraged to happen to me.  

This tale of mine doesn't sound great inspiration for girls to feel better about their female bodies and their worth.  But reader, my life got so much better.  I found hope again.  I found self worth.

I slowly began to realise that I was more than my breasts.  They did not define me.  I threw away those who objectified me for them.  I began to dress differently.  No longer the black to hide the larger body but with the breasts showing.  Instead pretty dresses.  Patterns.  Colours.  I started to write about being confident in yourself and growing yourself as a person, not seeing yourself as purely an object to try to attract the male sex.  The more I wrote, I more I became a real person.  

The proudest moment of my life appeared when a reader of my confidence blog emailed me, thanking me for encouraging her to find her own self worth.  Enabling her to think of herself as more than her shape.  Instead, a whole person. I still have that email.  It was a defining moment of my life.

Now, at an undisclosed age, I am finally at peace with my female body.  I have worked on my character, my thoughts, my beliefs.  Twitter, the cess pool that it is and can be, helped me to step out of my shell and find the person who, I was surprised to find, I had so many thoughts, so many opinions.  

I finally allowed myself to trust.  To have a relationship.  With a man who loves my body, my breasts, but just as much, my mind.  Someone who encourages me to constantly question, to learn.  Never telling me what to think.  

The battle with my breasts lasted decades and started in a time that is not now.  But girls face different challenges now. But they can, like I did, get through it.  My mental health didn't help throughout.  But I battled, and eventually, I won.

So what would I say to a girl who is battling against her female body, her shape, her form now?  You are more than the value that others place on you.  Work on your mind.  Your personality.  Your thoughts and beliefs.  They will grow, improve your mind and carry you straight through your life.  

I am at peace with my body now.  I can even now, once again, flash a hint of cleavage in a dress because I like the way it looks.  Not as a symbol of worth.  That belongs to my mind.

This body you have is the only one you will ever have.  Do not hate it.  Do not let others define it.  Tell you it should be different.  Don't modify it, change it, mutilate it, harm it.  Embrace it and love it.  It will carry you through the years of your life when those who would judge it are long gone.

Work on your heart and your mind.  You will find yourself and believe me, once you find the person who you are, happiness and peace will come.

27 October 2020

Being an Emotional Succubus

I have talked a lot about self
confidence, self esteem and self worth on this blog, and my previous

All things that I have lacked in my
life and have strived to achieve. Progression has been slow, but constant.

But today, I want to talk about how the
above affects the people in our life. How the things that we think that we lack,
can drain the people around us and those that we love.

The thing about having a lack of self worth is that it can also create self absorption.  You are so wrapped up in how you feel like that you are not enough, that you drain those around you.  

The "Do I look ok?" repeated a thousand times before a night out, never believing the response of yes.  The feeling like everyone's eyes are on you when you are out in public.  Do you think that you are that important?

Rejecting or not believing that someone loves you because you think that you are not good enough for them.  Never for a second considering the hoops that you make people jump through to prove it.  The disbelief and utter rejection of what they feel.  

If you push people away enough and stay in your safe bubble, which is not safe and it is toxic; this can only lead to them leaving you ultimately as they cannot cope, understandably, with your negativity.  Only for you to think that you have been proven right.  That they didn't love you, or want you, after all.

I have been guilty of all of the above for years.  OK.  Decades.

I have been an emotional succubus.

It is only now, at this stage in my life that I can admit that my lack of self worth, self confidence and lack of happiness over the years has, to put it bluntly, been a massive pain for my friends and those who love me and want to love me.  Because I have made it SO DAMN HARD to do so.

So where am I now?  

I am in love.  With a wonderful man.  I have been with him for the past two and a half years.  For most of which I have felt not good enough for him.  That he was too good for me.  That he didn't really find me attractive, he just thought he did and one day he would realise he didn't.  

But with real happiness, comes realisation.  Stepping away from your insecurities and actually listening, watching and acknowledging will always reveal the truth.  Even when you run so fast away from it because you cannot believe it.

He has never been one for compliments.  My lack of self confidence whispered to me that it was because he didn't find me attractive.  Now I see the look in his eyes when he looks at me.  The passion when he touches me.  That doesn't change whether I am dressed up and with a full face of makeup, or bare faced and in pyjamas.

After we exchanged our first "I love yous" I didn't really believe it.  Because he says it rarely.  But now I see and feel the love he has for me in his actions, the way he treats me and the way he pulls me close for a cuddle.  The way he looks at me and touches my face.

This is love.  Real love.  I feel cherished. And I nearly missed it.  I nearly ignored it and dismissed it.  I won't make that mistake again.  

So what lessons have I learned?

Maya Angelou said "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time".  I always took that quote to mean that when someone shows you their bad side, believe it.  But now I acknowledge that this phrase has a double meaning.

When someone tells you they love you and shows it, believe them.  If someone says you look nice, accept the compliment.  If someone wants you in their life as their friend, it is because they like you, not because they pity you.

I know just how damn hard it is to believe that you are not enough.  The pain that you feel can overwhelm you and take over your life.  But now I realise how painful it also is for the people around you.  To be rejected, disbelieved, unacknowledged, dismissed.

So the advice that I would give to a younger me and anyone who feels like they are not enough is this.

Believe the words and feelings of those you trust.  Those you love.  They will not lie to you or steer you wrong.  Open yourself up.  Stop being so damn self absorbed that you reject happiness and love offered to you.  

You are enough, and so are those around you.  Believe them.  When do you, your world will change and that happiness you never though that you would have?  You find it.

14 October 2020

Taking A Step Away

After some reflection, I
think that I am going to have a break away from Twitter.

I need to take some time away
from the conversations I have there, on the subjects that I do.
  My views have not changed and they will not
change, but Twitter is a beast that can control and take over you sometimes and
I feel that this is a step I need to take.

I feel like I have talked about
and been in the grip of talking about trans issues, self ID and Mermaids/the
Tavistock and children every day for a couple of years now and I have forgotten
that there are other things, other subjects.

I get so angry sometimes at the
things I read that it changes my day for the negative, usually before 9.00am and
that is not healthy, especially when I have to be careful with myself with
regard to mental health.

I also get so embroiled that
sometimes I do not think before I post and say things that I regret.

A good friend reminded me yesterday
that there are real people behind Twitter handles.
  A friend that I have hurt by a couple of
things I have retweeted/said.
  Because I
was still embroiled in the details over the Tavistock case, I retweeted and
allowed myself to become part of hurtful language that I would not wish upon myself.
  I did not think clearly when I posted and I
regret the language used.

To qualify what I mean, I
retweeted someone saying “it is not grooming to expect an 11 year old to know
about orgasms you absolute weirdos”.
called them fucking insane.

If I had looked back at their
previous tweets, I would have known that they were talking about specifically
about sex education.
  It is important
that children learn about their bodies and understand what sex is, if for no
other reason than to understand if an adult did something to them, that they
would know that it was wrong.

What I don’t believe and this is
the hill I was coming from, is that children cannot possibly understand (or be
expected to understand) the concept of losing something that they have never experienced.
  In this case, an orgasm.  I can’t believe I am talking about children
in relation to this, but this is where we are at.

Children as young as ten which is
what was discussed in the Keira Bell case, are being asked to consent to puberty
blockers with the long reaching possible outcomes not properly explained to
  Subjects that they cannot possibly
understand at that age.
  Loss of fertility,
lack of growth of genitalia, potential loss of orgasm, vaginal atrophy etc.

I believe that this is wrong.  But I do not believe that using words such as
grooming, abuse and
pedophilia is right, correct or just.   Using such words makes me no better than
those who would abuse me and others online.

Specifically in this case I did
not look at the content of this woman’s tweet, which was specifically about
education and instead jumped to attack, retweeting her words and calling her
  That was wholly wrong.

We, or at least I in this
conversation have forgotten that it is healthy for children to learn about
their bodies.
  I have fallen so far down
the rabbit hole of what the Tavistock is doing, that I could not see anything

I’ve hurt a friend because of
this and I’m truly sorry.

So I’m taking a step away from
Twitter and the conversation for a while.
When I come back, I hope to re engage with the conversation and still
continue to fight for what I believe; but without some of the vitriol I have
used in the past and recently.

See you all in a while.

10 August 2020

Self ID - What Is The Worst That Can Happen They Said

To look at what the worst that could happen if self ID was put into law, we first need to look at why women are entitled to single sex spaces by law.

For this I turn to the website Fairplay for Women which explains, in clear language for anyone to understand, why single sex spaces came about and why they are needed.

The Equality Act 2010 is in place in order to protect groups of people from disadvantage or unfair treatment.  Out of the nine protected characteristics, one of them is sex, ie a man, woman, boy or girl.  

Sex does not include gender reassignment and even if a person has a Gender Recognition Certificate, there are still six areas which make it lawful for men, including trans identifying men, to be excluded from.  These include sport (where one sex has a physical advantage over the other, occupation (where for example a counsellor is working with female rape victims) and single sex services (to include things like a cervical cancer screening, a woman's refuge, hospital wards changing rooms, bathrooms  etc) and single characteristic associations (which covers groups with memberships of a single sex).

These laws are in place for women's safety, to prevent disadvantage and unfairness and to allow us to assemble as a group without allowing men within that group.

Given that it is not a requirement to undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to have a Gender Recognition Certificate, only for the intent to be in place (which can be revoked), it makes perfect sense why exemptions are in place.

Despite the disregarding and flouting of these laws many organisations, businesses and charities (unfortunately to include some women's charities, these laws remain in place and can and should be enforced.

Which brings us to the question of self ID which trans rights activists want, campaign and demand.  Demands which would effectively rip up the Equality Act.

They ask us, what is the worst that could happens.  Trans people just wish to live their lives.  Stop focusing on  people's genitals.  

But if self identification was brought into law, any men, trans identifying or not, would not only be allowed into single sex spaces, but would be allowed to be there unchallenged.  To do would allow the challenger to accused of a hate crime.

When a man enters a single sex space currently, we can at least challenge and report.  But self identification allows any sex offender, any autogynephile, any man who wishes harm against women into our spaces without challenge and removes our safety.

This is unacceptable. 

They tell us that it is only a small number of trans people that commit crimes against women.

The fact remains however that 50% of the trans prison population are sex offenders or are Category A prisoners (60 out of 125 prisoners).  This figure is very likely to be higher given that the MOJ do not count short sentences, people with a GRC or people who have not officially declared that they are trans.

I would refer you to a list (not complete) of the sexual crimes committed by transwomen since 2014.

One of the people on this list is Daniel Reeves, who identifies as Ella Davies.  This person was convicted of holding over 1000 images of indecent images of child, to include child rape and torture.  They absconded for two months prior to the Court hearing .  This is how police described them while they were on the run, without a photograph.


Is there any wonder that members of the public could not correctly identify "Ella"?

I could ramble on all day as to why self identification should not and can not ever be brought into law, but to see how far the worm hole could go if this took place, I will leave you with this:

If we do not fight self ID, we invite anyone who wishes to harm women, girls and, it sickens me to say, babies into our world and our spaces to do their worst.


6 August 2020

We Will Not Be Silenced

The Karen meme has been around for a few years now and I think that most understand the description.

What we understand to be a Karen is typically a white woman with an large attitude problem combined with an over subscribed entitlement who is the bogey man of customer service representatives, stores and restaurants.  She can elicit fear in someone a hundred paces away.

I do not have a Karen in my life, but have seen the type and the aftermath that they can create.  I have even given a poor coffee shop worker a hug after they experienced what I can only describe as a tsunami of rage, over a drink not being hot enough (after I add that she had been sitting with the thing, not drinking it for 20 minutes).

They exist and they walk among us.

Karen videos, memes and shared experiences of Karens are all over the internet, but lately, in the past few months,  the use of the word Karen and the meaning behind it has changed and been extended, by some, to encompass any woman who dares to have a voice or an opinion.

There is a veiled threat now, be "nice" or be a Karen.

The meme has grown to such an extent that the context in which it is used has metamorphosed into an element of control.

Express an opinion, OK Karen.  Disagree with a point, OK Karen.  Raise an issue, OK Karen.  Stick up for yourself, OK Karen.  It is being used to silence.  To dismiss, demean and shut down.  Case in point:

As you can see above, even someone who you would think had a moderate degree of intelligence as both a doctor and PHD thinks that it is acceptable to (try) shut down a woman in this way.  That intelligence disappears into misogyny when faced with an intelligent woman with a counter argument it seems.

This where the need by some to control women comes out and they show you who they really are.  I know many intelligent men who are not intimated or incensed by a woman with an opinion.  They want an intelligent discussion, not a mindless doll.

While I usually see men using the term, the woke women have been known to use it too.  That saddens me even more.

How do you respond to the slur then?  Any attempt to fight your corner would be labelled as argumentative, too confident, too self important.  To those using that term against us, they would take anything other than immediate submission as proof of our "Kareness".

In the same way as OK Boomer is being used  as a tool to waive away anything that the older generation says as irrelevant and outdated nonsense, OK Karen is now being used as an attempt to silence our voices and ridicule our thoughts and opinions.

Heaven forbid that a woman has an opinion.

Well this woman is not shutting up.  You can call me Karen if you think it will silence me, but it will not.  Any more than it will shut up women like J K Rowling.

I have news for you, the more you try to silence us, the louder we will shout.

5 August 2020

Why The Only Box I Will Tick is Woman

I previously wrote a post about why I decided to become label free in my life.

Removing the labels that I, and others, had placed on me was a very freeing experience and allowed me to look at, review and analyse every piece of information that I came across without the restraints and expectations that so many of my previous labels had placed on me. 

There is one label, not a label really but a description that I will not remove.  I am a woman.  That will never change and I will defend that word and the correct usage of it as long as I have breath in my body.

We cannot change our biology and we have no need to do so.  A controversial opinion, for some, in today's ever changing climes.

The word woman describes our biology, but does not define what kind of woman we are.  This does not change no matter what our sexual attraction is, what our personality traits are or how we choose to outwardly represent ourselves to the world.

The so called traits of being a woman are based on what society perceives and has placed on what a woman can be.   But we can be anything we choose to be.  Except the opposite sex.  Because there truly is no need.

So much of my personality and who I am fits into what the word woman has come to mean.  I wear dresses pretty much exclusively.  I am shaped in what is described as a womanly shape.  I enjoy makeup.  I am shy.  Parts of me could be described as submissive (that one was hard for my previous feminist self to admit).  I demur when I shouldn't.

Those traits are all ones that transwomen emulate and outwardly portray as evidence that they are women.

Yet, I also have what society deems as traits belonging to a man.

I love motor racing.  I am not afraid to say what I think or share my opinions.  I am confident and can be forthright.  I will not back down when I believe I am right.  I can be assertive.  I see what I want and go for it.

I also am not motherly (apart from adoring my furry puppa), nor have I ever wanted children.

Today, that would probably be described as being non binary.  I am not non binary.  I am a woman. 

When you accept the sum of your parts, there is no need to define yourself as anything else.   Our biology is our physical parts and make up.  It does not define who we are and it never should.  Only woman can bear a child.  Only women can menstruate.  

Gender is a social construct.  

When you remove the constraints and constrictions that society places on you, you can truly be free to be who you are.  

That ultimately is where the transgender argument falls flat and becomes irrelevant.  Because being a woman or a man is not a feeling.  It is not a personality trait or a behaviour.  It is biology.

In a world where it is ever more important to put labels on yourself and place yourself into a box, the most important thing you can do is accept you are and embrace it.  You are a woman, or a man.  To claim otherwise ultimately is delusion and can only lead to unhappiness and denial.  Neither is healthy.

10 July 2020

5 Summer Fashion Trends

As far as summers go, this has been one of the weirdest as a result of the global pandemic. At some point, it began to feel a lot like summer had been cancelled. But thankfully, this time of year is still a glimmer of hope in the cold and dreary situation the whole world is facing now. 

Though the last thing on some people's minds right now is 'what's in' and 'what's not', it's a welcome distraction to get on board with what's trending this summer. Out of all the seasons, this one gives people the chance to be as expressive as can be. So, whether you've compiled your own summer wishlist, or you're simply looking for inspiration, here are 5 summer fashion trends we simply can't get enough of. 

1. Ugly sandals

We never thought we'd see the day where something with the 'ugly' in front of it would become a fashion trend. But here we are, and we're loving it. It follows in the footsteps of several other 'ugly' trends such as chunky dad sneakers and mom jeans. Now, though these sandals aren't actually ugly or an eyesore, the fact that they are not dainty or delicate makes them stand out. 
They come in a more athletic and chunky design than most options you'll find out there. Then there's the added touch of adornments on the straps that are nothing if not playful. 

Since it's official unveiling at the 2018 Prada Spring show, these sandals have become a hit once again. The great thing about them is their newfound versatility. Throw them on with a pair of jeans, a maxi dress, or even a nice skater dress. The possibilities are endless. If you don’t consider yourself the type to often jump on fashion trends, this is one bandwagon you should definitely jump on. 

2. A stylish pair of frames

It's no secret that glasses have been in for a while now and that has definitely not changed this year. In fact, a pair of shades can do wonders to elevate your whole look. What makes it even better is the fact that there's a big selection to draw from depending on the look you're actually going for. 

It ranges from transparent glasses all the way to the ever so popular aviation glasses. Summer is just that time to break out the glasses. The great part about this trend is that it's quite functional too. It's no secret that harmful UV rays can wreak havoc on the eyes when the exposure is too much. So, this fashion trend may very well be beneficial to your eyesight. It doesn't hurt that it makes you look good too. 

3. Denim head-to-toe

This is not your run of the mill old school denim on denim, there are so many ways to make this work. That washed out and distressed look is actually really in right now. Sure, it sounds like you’ll practically be punishing the jeans, but the end result is just what summer is all about. 

You can try out this look by pairing a denim jacket with shorts, or full-length jeans. A nice, neutral button-up shirt inside adds a little bit of oomph. There's also the option of going full-on denim, which is still as flattering. Altogether, this is one summer fashion trend you should not miss out on. 

4. Crotchet dresses

Crotchet dresses are another fashion trend that is now viewed in a whole new light. Cast your mind away from that nerdy-looking outfits your gran would send over at Christmas. No, the sex appeal here has been cranked up a couple of notches. Their airy and somewhat transparent nature makes them the perfect pairing for a summer day out. 

Whether it comes in the form of a nice crop top, a mini or maxi dress, this is one get up that looks effortlessly chic. Even more, you can opt for nice crochet accessories ranging from hats to jewelry. It's all together, fresh and incredibly appealing once you see what's on the market. 

5. Spaghetti strap tank top

Something as effortless, comfortable, and good looking as this should always be on style. Luckily, it's in style now and it goes perfectly with just about anything. If there is one thing about summer fashion that stands out, it's the sheer effortlessness. A simple tank top can pair perfectly with anything from jeans to a skirt and even a pair of shorts. If you haven't grabbed one yet, summer is still upon us, it's not too late. 

6 July 2020

Changes Are Afoot

I started my blog "What Would Ripley Do" a year ago.   In that year, I have written 11 posts.  A tiny amount, especially given that when I ran my old blog, I was writing on average 100 posts a year, for nearly 10 years.

I found going anonymous hard as I am at heart, a sharer when it comes to writing.  As I have said before on this blog, my feelings and thoughts always flow through me more when my thoughts come out through my fingertips and are not outwardly spoken.  As a result, there is a lot of me in my old blog. 

But what do I do now when I write anonymously?  I can share my thoughts and beliefs here without revealing anything about myself, like I do on Twitter and now also on Parler (this will be a future post I feel); but not to share pieces of myself when I write would just not be me and this is why I think I have been suffering from writer's block.

It also feels strange to talk about myself here to a readership of little or none, when previously, I had readers of my work who either knew me, or got to know me through my writing.  I was not by any means well know, but I also knew that I was not talking into the void, with no one to read my thoughts but myself.

But here I am now.  My urge to write has overridden everything and so here I am, talking to myself or perhaps the one or two that may read this and so I must begin by saying hello.  Whilst you will never know my name, where I am or what I do for a living, you can get to know me through this blog, if you wish.

The thing that I was most proud of when I met people who had read my blog before but never met me until that time, was that some said that whilst they hadn't known me in real life, they felt as if they knew me and that the person presented before them was not a stranger.  

So I have started a new path.  I will say what I think and be honest about it.  I may hide my identity but will not shy away or hide who I am as a person.  If you ever meet me, you can decide if that is the person I am offline.  I would like to think so.

I am a single issue person who will listen to most (exceptions obviously before anyone asks me if agree with the obvious deplorables, although that is also subjective).  You may agree or disagree with posts I write from hereon in, but I like and enjoy open conversation.

You can never win an argument or sway someone to your corner if you do not understand or will listen to both sides of the debate.

Signing off x

29 June 2020

Fighting Depression

I sometimes compare having depression to being a boxer, fighting in a ring.

Both you and the black dog are in a dance, with you trying to repel the quick jabs and the hard punches.  You duck and dance and deflect and sometimes manage to get a punch in there yourself too.  Some fights you will win, some you will be defeated.  That match is done and the next day you will get up, shake yourself off and fight once again.  

Just like boxing, depression is not a team sport and you are in the ring alone.  No one else can fight for you and your opponent is invisible to everyone but yourself.

Each morning you wake up and find out whether you have a normal day ahead of you, or a fight.  At the back of your mind you hope that one day, it is not a fight to the death.

Image from Unsplash

The things that I have heard people say about those of us who have depression disgust me.

I am not weak.  I am not lazy.  I am not as someone once said to me "wallowing in self pity".  I am strong.  Stronger than they are.  I would challenge anyone who thinks that depression is easy to spend some time in our shoes.

Unless you have had depression, you will never really know just how bad it can get.  How sometimes it feels like your soul is dying and your heart is shattering into a million pieces.  It takes a lot of strength to just get out of bed some days.  But we do.  We get up, we go to work and we hide the monsters that are attacking us just beneath the surface.

I started another battle with the dog today.  Everything I have done so far today has taken effort and strength.  All I want, and still want while I write this post, is to go home, hide under duvet and binge watch Bob Ross.  But instead, I reminded myself of what I have accomplished so far today, with each step a punch, however tiny, against the black dog who seeks to hold me down.

I dragged myself out of bed                  Punch!

I got myself dressed                                 Punch!

I left the house and got on the bus                     Punch! 

I went to work and spoke to client                         Punch! Punch!

I had a telephone conference and put my points across        Punch! Punch! Punch!

I am writing to you now                The black dog starts to back away a little

That sounds like a very normal day and indeed it is, there is nothing special about it at all.  But accomplishing even the smallest step feels impossible when depression hits and your tears are only a blink away.  Everything takes effort and will.

Some days, you know that there is no fight in you.  Not even the smallest steps are possible.  That is ok.  It takes as much strength to admit defeat when you need to, as it does to come out punching.  Even when the day is a loss and I feel like I have slipped down into a deep, black pit with that bloody dog standing at the top, snarling at me; I am silently picking myself up, inch by inch, for the next day.

I have spoken about how having depression is like being a boxer in a ring.  It also involves being an actress.  Whilst I am able the majority of time to have a normal day, go to work and converse with people, the symptoms of my depression are being held back by me, just under the surface.

My smile may not reach my eyes, but I am able to get through a day without anyone noticing that there is anything wrong.  (I do not recommend this to anyone, it isn't healthy.  But it is my way, for now).

Tears are either supressed or fit into time slots when no one else will notice.  I switch off my heart so the heartbreak I feel doesn't show whilst I speak to a client or a colleague.  How do you switch off your heart?   Practice.  Years of practice.  You are however turning yourself into a walking stone, for essentially other people's benefit.

I will finish my working day.  I will go home and allow myself to feel again.  The duvet will come into play while I recharge.  The gentle tones of Bob Ross will sooth my soul.  Tomorrow, if the black dog has stuck around, I will do all this again.

Tell me I am not strong.

28 February 2020

When Did The Liberal Left Turn Into a Woke Cult?

Indoctrination can be achieved in many different ways.  From the drip drip method that is barely even noticeable, to utter submersion.

When I was a child, I went to a religious primary school where the local vicar was a regular visitor.  I was told that I was a Christian before I even knew what or who a Christian was.  Religion was dripped into my forming mind with prayers three times a day and hymns at morning assembly.

At that age I just did what I was told, believing that that was just the way things were.  I was not old enough to realise that I choose to have a religion or not.  I could choose a different mindset, a different path.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Religion and I collided a few years later and we went our separate ways.

Religion can be many things for many people. A hub to the local community, an enrichment to people's lives, or simply just a comfort or safety net that some need or want.  It can be part of who someone fundamentally is and can form the basis of their moral code, their bench mark for right and wrong.

But religion can also be escalated to cult level, making you condone things you never would before.  Do things that you would never do.  It is also the perfect excuse to control people and has been used in this way for centuries.  Blind faith can be dangerous.

Religion has been a very useful tool for the subjugation of women.  It is, to quote one example, what allowed, arranged and condoned thousands of young girls and women to be locked away in the Magadelene Laundries in Ireland for the crime of having a baby, for being presumed "promiscuous", or simply in some cases; being too pretty.

It is why women were told that their place was in the home and the man's place was head of the household, and her.  "It is written in the bible Susan, don't you want to obey the word of God?"

"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. 

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the 

head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 

As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything 

to their husbands” (Eph. 5:22–24)."

Blind faith is how monsters are not only made, but how they can flourish in plain sight.

So where and why does this fit into what I wanted to talk about today?  Because blind faith is not just about religion.   It can be about any movement, group, shared belief system.

When I began to become interested in politics and feminism, the left side of politics seemed like the perfect fit for me.   The "morally right"  The good.  The just. There was a general assumption that the liberal position was the good and anything to the right was wrong.  There was only one choice for me, clearly.

So too with feminism.   I wanted rights and equality for women.  As I learned about feminism I also educated myself about intersectional feminism, named to include woman of all races, ethnicities, class, culture, age etc.  I wanted that.

So there I was, a left leaning intersectional feminist when one day, I saw a man winning a women's cycling competition. A man who identified as a woman but not only identified, said he was an actual, biological woman.

From there my fall down the rabbit hole was swift.  Suddenly, a man with a beard who wore skirts and had decided he was a lesbian, was a real woman.  One who went into schools for Stonewall teaching children they could be born in the wrong body.  Listen to Magdelen Burns about that one.

Lesbians who didn't accept "lady dick" were transphobic.

Talking about being pregnant and giving birth was transphobic because it didn't include transwomen.  Having a women only group on Facebook talking about menopause was transphobic.  Men's mental health groups were disbanded because they would not include transmen.  Women meeting to discuss women's rights were transphobic.  Refuges should accept transwomen, or they would lose their funding (again this year too).  I could go on and on and on and on.

Every FUCKING thing that did not place men identifying as women front and centre, became transphobic.

We were told that words were actual violence.  That we were killing people by saying the immutable fact that you cannot change sex.  A woman lost her job for saying this.  Told that her views were "not worthy of respect in a democratic society".

Children as young as FOUR being referred to a gender clinic.  Teenagers being prescribed puberty blockers like they were sweets.  4500% rise in referrals to Tavistock.  Three quarters of those being girls.

The rabbit hole is so deep you could drown in it.

The world went mad before our eyes.  Yet people, including myself, who questioned this idealogy, were called bigots.  That anything other than the ultra left view was right wing. We were not worthy of being called feminists.  We were TERFs.  What the ACTUAL FUCK???

Where did the left go so wrong, so fast?  Moreover, why the hell have so many fallen for the indoctrination?  Why are doctors now scared to question if a child is transgender?  Why have politicians fallen hook, line and sinker for this?  Lisa Nandy saying that transwomen who rape women belong in women's prisons because they identify as women.  This article goes a long way to explain that.

So where do liberal feminist women who have been thrown out of the left, thrown out of what is now called feminism do?  We fight.

We organise.  We educate.  We agitate.

12 February 2020

A New Lease of Life

Whether you live in a city, town, village or hamlet; transport and how we get from A to B is something that affects us all.

In our every day lives, transport is something that has to be factored into nearly every decision we make.  Where our children will go to school and how to get them there.  How long our commute to work will take and whether the same is more cost and time efficient in a car, train or bus.  Whether that night out is really worth it, when you will be spending £40 on taxis.

For the past ten years I have been using public transport and taxis to carry out both my commute and my every day/social life. 

I want my own space back.  A simple journey to the shops that does not take an hour and two buses, but takes ten minutes.  I don't want to wait at a freezing cold bus stop, for a bus that frequently does not come.   I want to go to the cinema knowing that I haven't spent more on transport than the ticket.

I want to put down the pedal down on my own metal.

I want a car.  But, what I don't want is a long term commitment or to be fixed in financially for five years.  What I do want is a good, new or nearly new reliable car that will keep me safe, keep me in comfort and not an old banger like I used to drive.  So what to do?

unsplash-logoMalte Wingen

There are many different options when it comes to buying, hiring or leasing a car and I have looked at all of them.  As I said, I don't want to be committed for years on a large payment, nor do I want to hire, which seems expensive and without the added benefits of leasing where you can get maintenance in with your contract.

Deciding to look at more high spec cars, again with safety in mind, I looked at The Best Volvo Lease Deals and did a comparison of how much I would pay over a 36 month period with leasing versus hire.

I specifically looked at the Volvo S90 T4 Momentum Plus as being a good combination of the great safety record of Volvo, with a sleek elegant look and a good engine size for the speed that I love.  Safely first of course!

The figures came out at over £2,600 less money paid by leasing the vehicle versus hiring it over the same 36 month period.  

This particular vehicle is worth over £38,000.00.  Looking at a cheaper vehicle for additional comparison, I looked at the Nissan Micra 1.0 PS117 N-Sport which is approximately £17,000.00.

The saving still worked out comparing leasing over hiring.  Looking again at the same 36 month contract, with 10000 miles allowed, the saving was over £1,100.00.

In summary, if you do not want to get tied into a long contract to buy a vehicle and want to see what is best option of leasing versus hiring, leasing is the cheaper option and also, allows you to add maintenance into the contract.

Now to look at what vehicle I want to lease!

10 February 2020

Hearing: The Sense We Forget To Protect

Helen Keller once said:

Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people
 When thinking about our five senses, hearing is the one that we take for granted the most.  The sense that we don't get checked or protect enough.

If our vision becomes blurred, we go to the optician and get glasses.  Employers usually pay for free check ups to get our eyes tested if you work with computers.  Yet if you are for example an audio typist, the same checks are not in place.

If our sense of smell was to disappear, we would be off to the doctor.  Yet, when it comes to our hearing, we are much more complacent.

In the days of modern technology it is more important than ever that we protect our hearing. How many times have you been listening to music on your phone, turned the audio for your favourite song and had the high volume warning message come up?  How many times have you ignored it?  In my case, every time.

There are simple ways in which you can protect your hearing.  Generally, a noise level that could damage your hearing can be quantified by having to shout over others to be heard, you have ringing in your ears (after a concert for example) or you cannot hear what others are saying to you.

 Here are some easy ways in which you can protect your hearing:

Don't Ignore Ear Pain

Earache, as anyone who has ever had it knows, can be horrendous.  Worse, it can cause temporary hearing loss and if ignored, can have far reaching consequences.  If you work in a social environment like a club or a bar with sound system for example, it is wise get your hearing regularly checked.  For my locality, I use London Hearing 

Use Noise Cancelling Headphones

On your daily commute to work or even when you are going for a run, you want to drown out all other noises and distractions.  The temptation is to turn up your music to full to drown everyone else out.  Using noise cancelling headphones removes the distractions, whilst also allowing you to listen to music at a lower volume.  Guidelines saying we ought to limit the volume to 60% and for no more than an hour at a time.

 Give Your Ears a Break

Whether your job involves working with loud machinery, or perhaps you go to concerts or a noisy club every weekend, it is important that you give your ears a break to recover and rest.  Take breaks.  Remove yourself from the environment as often as you can and when possible, especially in a work environment, use ear protection.

How often do you think about protecting your hearing?

2 January 2020

Things to do before you visit Thailand

Thailand is the most-visited country in southeast Asia and for a good reason: the country offers practically everything that tourists could want, from delicious food to sandy beaches

Just like every other country in the world, Thailand is unique. Here’s how to prep correctly before you visit. 

Book Your Trip For Spring

Being so close to the equator, Thailand’s seasonal patterns are very different from those in temperate regions. It doesn’t go through the usual spring, summer, autumn, winter rotation. Instead, it alternates between the rainy season and the rest of the year where conditions are relatively dry. 

The rainy season in Thailand probably isn’t the best time to go if you want to enjoy the great outdoors. The rainy season officially begins in July and ends in October. Most people, therefore, book their trips in the spring to avoid a washout. With that said, if you want to see the spectacle of the monsoon, then the summer is the best time to go. Just remember to take your umbrella. 

Get Your Hep A And B Vaccinations

While Thailand is tropical, the disease risk is comparatively low. People who travel to the country usually get their hepatitis A and B vaccinations, but there is minimal risk of other diseases. Malaria, for instance, is now almost non-existent. Yellow fever is also mostly absent. 

Always Talk About The Late King Respectfully

Many local Thai people believe that their late king who died in 2016 was and is a god. For that reason, tourists need to be careful about what they say about him. Avoid any form of disrespect in public. 

Book A Tour Of The Country’s Many Buddha Statues

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, home to some of the religion’s most impressive monuments anywhere in the world. Thailand tours take you to the best-known landmarks, allowing you to see the craftsmanship that went into these statues yourself. 

Plan Festival Trips In Advance

Thailand is home to some popular festivals you might want to take part in during your trip. 

If you love beach parties, then make sure that you check out the Full Moon festival in Koh Phangan. The festival runs monthly in the city and regularly attracts more than 40,000 people who spend all night on the beach partying. 

The Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai is also another big draw. Held in November, attendees release Chinese lanterns into the air in their thousands to release bad vibes and give them good luck for the following year. 

If you’re in Thailand in the middle of April, make sure that you head to Bangkok for the Songkran Thai New Year. Every year, the Thai authorities close off the streets to traffic, laying the way for processions and carnivals that make their way through the city. If you decide to attend this event, be prepared to get wet. People throw wet sponges at each other to symbolise the washing away of their sins. 

Are you planning a trip to Thailand? If so, make sure that you prepare!