11 June 2024

Reflections and Moving On, the Right Way


It was my birthday recently.   It was not a milestone age, but is one that I am not comfortable with.  I don’t like the number.  Or any number after it to be honest.  I always tend to reflect on my life around my birthday, so I shall my reflections with you today.

If you were to ask me how old I actually feel, I would probably say 30.  30 would be the ideal age that I would like to be, given where I am in life and what I have ahead of me.  I feel 30, but with another x amount of years experience.

I would loved to have had all my ducks in row but the time I reached 30; but that was not to happen.  But does that mean that I should regret the age that I am?  Wish to reverse time back?  Thinking more, I have to say no.

I have gone through a lot in my life in terms of mental health, depression, loss and lack of self worth.  My journey therefore has been slower than most, or shall we say some, because everyone goes through something in their life and some more than others.

Everyone’s journey is different.  Everyone deals with things in differing ways.  Some go through a lot, some go through a little.  But the journey of our lives, how we have taken and survived or thrived through that journey is what is important.  It is the story of our lives.

Today, I am ridiculously in love, happy, loved, settled, safe, calm.  This the happiest I have ever been.  By a thousand miles.  I know in my heard that every step on my journey has been leading me to this destination.

So, while I wish that I was 30 again, with the knowledge and life that I have now, I do not regret the extra years that it took to get me to this place.

I had a realisation when I was speaking with my partner the other day about how we wish that we had met sooner in life.  I would not have been ready for him.

Isn’t that strange?  (But also, true).  I met him at the perfect time.  Not when I was 20 - 30 when my mental health and experiences were a mess.  Not in my early 30’s when I was healing and finding myself.  I would not have been ready for this man.  

I do not believe that the discovery of yourself ever really stops. I also believe that healing comes from within and there is much work that you can do on yourself and for yourself.  That work and help for me, has always been writing.  My feelings and thoughts make sense more to me when I write than when I sit and think.

I said earlier that I am ridiculously happy now in my life, and that is true.  I have everything I ever wanted.  I am happy, secure and loved by a man I adore. 

What I came to realise recently is that with that happiness, comes a responsibility.

Whilst I have worked so much on myself, there are still ghosts in my life that haunt me.  Occasionally those memories and feelings surface which can result in sadness or worse, self-sabotage.  During those moments I do not believe that I am worth the happiness I have, or the man that I have, and this can lead to my unconsciously trying to sabotage that happiness.

In those moments I am my own worst enemy and I refuse to comply with hurting myself any more.

My reflections have led me to today, searching for a local counsellor to speak to.  Counselling has never been “my thing”.  I never wanted to talk with strangers.  When I really needed to, such an option was not really a thing, suggested or known about to me.  I know it sounds strange, especially to those who have undertaken counselling; but I was not strong enough before.

Just like I always knew that my perfect partner in life was out there, and I found him, I also knew that I had to be ready for counselling.  Ready to finally, once and for all, face my old demons and win that battle.  From a place of strength.

I know that I will achieve my goal.  How long or little it will take; I do not know.  But I do know that I have overcome so much and have improved my life beyond what I ever thought possible, so I know that I now have the strength to tackle the shadows that linger and burn.

I go on holiday in a few weeks and after that, my dance with my demons will commence. 

I am scared, I admit.  None of this will be easy.  But I am ready.

18 April 2024

Be a Lady They Said, But What Do They Mean?


Be A Lady They Said, But What Do They Mean?

A few years ago now there was a viral video of Cynthia Nixon reading a poem from Camille Rainville “Be A Lady They Said”.

For me, and for many women, it struck the perfect chord about the impossible and every changing standards that women face. Society it seems, some men in particular (not all men yada yada), seem to have no idea not only what they want from women; but also what label to put on us. Something that they desperately want to do. Why are labels so important? Because labels put you in a box. It is an element of control. The 21st century's version of the Scold's Bridle.

Only a few decades ago, in the Western world, it was easy to put women in a box. Child, wife, mother, spinster, fallen woman, whore. Fallen woman, what does that even mean? A search on Wikipedia tells us that a fallen woman is someone who has lost her “innocence”. What is never mentioned, is who took it.

In countries like Saudia Arabia, Iran and Iraq, women are still firmly in the boxes men want them to be. A woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. If a woman is raped, it takes two male witnesses for her to be believed.

Male rights activists love to point out to feminists that women have it so much worse in those countries and of course, this is true. They say that we should be grateful. Such a strange word, grateful. What it is, is a silent threat. “We did it to you once, be grateful that we don't do this now”.

Yet, in the case of Harvey Weinstein, it took over 100 women for just 2 to be believed. With every single woman who went public being called a whore in the press, someone who gained from the “casting couch”, a gold digger. An attention seeker. Same with the conviction of Bill Cosby.

CPS figures in September 2021 showed that only 3.3% of all reported rapes ended in a conviction. Therefore, according to the stats published, out of 57882 rapes reported, only 1910 were believed and their rapists convicted. According to the readers of the Daily Mail, that makes nearly 56000 women liars. Whores. The highest rated comment was “too many false claims by bitter women”.

That so many think that women would put themselves through so much, going to the police, being examined, relieving and retelling the rape over and over, giving evidence in front of their rapist in Court for supposed “financial gain” or “bitterness” speaks volumes of what women are thought of in society.

A society that still lets a woman's underwear be paraded in open Court as as example of her intention to have sex that night.

Be a lady they said. But what does that even mean any more?

“ A lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets” was something I started to hear in the 1990s. The best of both worlds it was called. A “good girl” in public and your whore in the bedroom. This was in my teenage years and was treated as a joke in the most part. Teenage boys did not in general expect sex. Now, thanks to porn culture, the expectation on teenage girls is far different.

The case of the girl in Cyprus with the up to 12 men who raped her is a prime example. Time and time again I saw the same things said. She wanted it. It was regret sex. Women are whores. See the word that is used time and again?

What made men and boys think that a woman would ever want, court and enjoy a gang bang? Porn.

So what is wanted from women today? Simultaneously a virgin and a slut. Enjoy sex, but not too much you slag. Be more adventurous, but where did you learn that from you whore? Don't be promiscuous, but don't be frigid. Be a good girl, but do anal. You know you want it.

So how do women respond to this? How do we combat this? We fight back. We band together, as so many women did in support of the girl in Cyprus. We say our truth. We call out the cultures and generational beliefs that men have the right to give us the labels they choose. We don't stay silent.

We be the lady, or not, that we CHOOSE to be. We reject the labels. We ridicule those that would label us. We teach our daughters that our self worth is nothing that can be given or taken away from us. We teach them that our bodies belong to ourselves.

We reject the labels and choose our own. Or reject all labels. We are women. Our choices are our own and the ONLY person who can judge us for our choices.

Be whatever you want to be and do not let anyone influence that or change that. This is how we fight.

They cannot change those that refuse to change. They cannot label those who refuse to be labelled.



30 January 2024

Cyber Crime: 5 Tips to Avoid Getting Hacked

 

Image credit


Your online security has never been more critical than it is now. With more and more people using online services and even more cybercriminals looking to exploit those living digitally, being able to stay safe when conducting digital activities should be paramount for everyone.


It's thought there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds, and falling victim to any type of hack, cyber threat, scam, or other criminal activity can have massive implications on your life. 

This post is going to look at some of the best ways you can protect yourself online to ensure you don't compromise your identity or safety.


Use A VPN

A vpn is a virtual private network that establishes a connection between you and a remote server. It allows you to border the internet securely and desire that none of your data is shared, be it your location, digital habits or anything else you get up to online.


However, it's important to know that while VPNs encrypt your data and offer you some levels of protection, they're not a complete security package on their own and are best used in conjunction with other measures for complete security and privacy online.


Update Software

Using outdated devices and software will leave you vulnerable to hacks and cyber attacks from people looking to exploit weaknesses in the software. Software updates allow developers to identify issues, fix them, and then roll them out to users to offer added protection and features.


Neglecting to keep your software updated, even your mobile phone software, can leave you at risk from threats that have been identified and viruses or malware that will take full advantage of these issues. Set your devices to accept automatic updates so you don't miss anything and are always up-to-date and secure.


Monitor Your Social Media Settings and Usage

Cybercriminals can glean a lot of information from your social media accounts. In the first instance, you need to go into each platform and check your settings. You want it locked down to private so you can limit who can access your accounts and what you share. You also want to make sure that you have a strong password and use additional authentication steps to help secure your account.


From here, you need to be mindful of what you share, too. For example, try not to update where you are in real-time and save tagging places or locations until you have left so people can't track you. Avoid connecting to third-party apps you don't know much about, as they are often used to mine data and will typically learn more about you than you realise. Avoid accepting friend requests from people you don't know or clicking links in messages pertaining to the platform itself, as generally, these are phishing scams, and as soon as you log in and enter any details, they have your account. Always delete the message and change your password by logging onto the social media site in your usual way.


Clear Your Cache

Never underestimate how much your browser collects during your time online. Your browser will save searches, cookies, search information and more from each session until you clear it.


You can use the browser setting to clear the data held by the browser and either completely delete it or choose which settings to delete. Or you can use Ctrl+Shift+Del to open up a dialogue that lets you choose what to delete and what to keep.


Passwords

If passwords are the bane of your life, then you need to rethink how you approach them. Your passwords are integral to the security of all of your online accounts. Even logging into your device needs a secure password so people cannot access all of your details.


Some top tips for secure passwords and password activity include


  • Not using a saved password features in browsers.

  • Using a password manager or store and suggest strong passwords

  • Use a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your password.

  • Combine random three or four-letter words to create a password, e.g. helptimepull, as these will be harder to guess; add in random capital letters, numbers and symbols to make it more challenging still, for example, hElptImepUll258$ will add additional security to your account.

  • Use different passwords (this is work; the password manager and generator come in handy) for different accounts.

  • Change passwords regularly.


Staying safe online should be something that you pay attention to, and knowing what you can do and what to avoid will help you avoid common pitfalls associated with cybercrime and ensure that you make it as hard as possible for people to get a hold of your information or complete some of the more common online scams.


4 January 2024

My End of Year Post

* This post was supposed to be written in the Christmas break, but I was having fun and spending some much need relaxation time with my boyfriend, family and friends and as such, this post has been delayed!

When I used to write frequently on this blog, I always did an end of year post.  A rounding up of the past year, what had happened, what I had learned and what I was taking forward.

This year has been quite the year.  Many ups, many downs.  Coming back to my writing now, I feel like an end of year post is fitting.

When looking back, it is easy to only look at the bad and fixate on that.  But I always think that it is important to counteract the bad with something good.  Even if it only what you learned from the experience.

We always grow from our experiences, good and bad.  It is up to us which way we grow and in what direction we choose to go.  Forward is the best direction of course, even if the path isn’t straight and looks long and winding.  Onwards and upwards is the trajectory that we always aim for, however we reach them.

So where do I start with 2023?

I learned many things in 2023. I learned (again) to grieve a loved one lost, my wonderful Uncle Jack.

I learned that some people who were in my life are capable of far worse than I ever imagined.

I learned that other people in my life are capable of being far greater and stronger than I ever knew.

I learned, or came at least to realise; that no amount of revenge will ever truly satisfy you, so why dwell on it. Karma usually finds it mark eventually.

I came to understand that I am not responsible for the actions of others or the hurt that they have caused myself and others. I now choose not to feel anger about the whole situation any more, because in reality all angers achieves is more pain and gives away your power to the person you are angry at. I refuse to give anyone control of my emotions. I want no part in that.

There was a lot to learn and process in 2023. But what about the good things? The kind that you don't need to learn from and understand. The fun stuff. The joy. Here was mine.

I moved into my second year of living together with my boyfriend and am still and continue to be utterly in love. I am forever grateful to whatever kind of kismet brought us together. He is perfect for me and I am so happy.

I went on three holidays last year including a stay in the beautiful village in Portmeiron and also ten days in Greece where I saw my wonderful friend get married.

I think perhaps the most important thing for me in 2023 is that I realised that I could, and wanted to plan ahead in my life. Wanted to think about future years, not just where I am now. That only comes with happiness, with security and knowledge that you are safe and secure enough in your life to do so.

There will be changes afoot in my life in 2024 and that is so exciting. I will let you know when they happen!